Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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April 2018

Netanyahu’s Powerpoint attack on the Iran deal was aimed at Trump

Vox reports: All the so-called new information in Netanyahu’s presentation is actually pretty old. A 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency report noted the existence of Project Amad and the role SPND played in continuing its work — four years before the nuclear deal was signed. And the Israeli leader’s speech contained no evidence that Iran had restarted its weapons program or in any way violated the limits on nuclear activities

Suspected Israeli strikes hit Iran-linked targets in Syria, escalating regional tensions

The Washington Post reports: Missile strikes at two Iran-linked bases in Syria caused huge explosions and killed dozens of pro-government fighters, a monitoring group said Monday, in an attack seen as Israel’s latest blow in a shadow war to contain Iranian influence. Syrian state media reported major blasts in parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. It did not identify the targets, but other pro-government media outlets

Optimism about Korea will kill us all

Jeffrey Lewis writes: North Korea agreed to stop testing because Kim is getting what he wants. The third inter-Korean summit was not premised on Kim Jong Un offering to disarm. He has never, ever made a concrete promise to abandon his nuclear weapons program. If you read the joint statement closely, what South and North Korea have done is to take disarmament off the table as a concrete outcome and

Worldwide catastrophe as shorebirds face extinction

  John W. Fitzpatrick and Nathan R. Senner write: A worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds — the marathon migrants we know as shorebirds. Numbers of some species are falling so quickly that many biologists fear an imminent planet-wide wave of extinctions. These declines represent the No. 1 conservation crisis facing birds in the world today. Climate change, coastal development, the destruction of wetlands and hunting

Should scientists advocate on the issue of climate change?

Ingfei Chen writes: I was recently chatting with a friend who specializes in science education when we touched upon a conundrum: Researchers who study climate change grasp the dire need to cut planet-warming carbon emissions that come from burning fossil fuels, yet many of them shrink from voicing their views at public events or to the press. The stock-in-trade of scientists is their objectivity, my friend explained. The worry is

EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides

The Guardian reports: The European Union will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides from all fields due to the serious danger they pose to bees. The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on Friday, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they

Kim says he’ll give up nuclear weapons if U.S. promises not to invade

The New York Times reports: North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, told President Moon Jae-in of South Korea when they met that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States would agree to formally end the Korean War and promise that it would not invade his country, a South Korean government spokesman said Sunday. In a faith-building gesture ahead of a summit meeting with President Trump, Mr. Kim also

Israeli soldiers still smashing the bones of Palestinians

The Washington Post reports: Mohammad al-Ajouri is a lanky teenager who loves to run, a medal-winning track star with ambitions to compete abroad. But last month, while participating in a protest along Gaza’s border, he was struck by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. It penetrated his calf, shattering his leg before exiting the shin. Doctors tried to save the limb, but an infection soon spread. The leg had

New law in China mandates ‘all of society’ honor its heroes and martyrs

The Wall Street Journal reports: Eight decades after his grandfather was killed during the Chinese civil war, Fang Huaqing is fighting to defend his legacy as a Communist hero. Mr. Fang has filed legal complaints against online critics of his ancestor’s record over the past year. His campaign got a boost Friday, when China’s legislature passed a law that requires “all of society” to “honor, study and defend” Communist Party-approved

Music: Jan Lundgren Trio — ‘A Csitari Hegyek Alatt’

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A Korean peace process is underway – but it still depends on the U.S. and China

By Ed Griffith, University of Central Lancashire The meeting between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in is certainly one of the most dramatic and momentous events in the recent history of East Asia. Beyond the symbolism of cross-border handshakes and tree planting (not to mention a controversially decorated mango mousse that briefly ticked off Japan), the joint declaration that a peace treaty will be agreed this year

In a feel-good Korea summit, Kim lays the groundwork for meeting with Trump

The Washington Post reports: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has laid the foundations for a meeting with President Trump as soon as next month, signaling a willingness to discuss denuclearization and trying to dispel the idea that he’s an unreliable “Little Rocket Man.” In an astonishing turn of events, a beaming Kim on Friday stepped across the border into South Korea for a day of talks that began and ended

Say goodbye to the information age — it’s all about reputation now

By Gloria Origgi, Aeon There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it

American Jews have abandoned Gaza — and the truth

Peter Beinart writes: “In our time,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.” British colonialism, the Soviet gulag and America’s dropping of an atomic bomb, he argued, “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face.” So how do people defend the indefensible? Through “euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” By obscuring the

The deep roots of Trump’s war on the press

Tim Alberta writes: You couldn’t miss it. Arriving in Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention, visitors found themselves staring at an enormous white billboard, slapped across the top of a tall concrete building in the city’s bustling downtown, screaming a simple directive: “DON’T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA!” The signage—black letters against a white backdrop, save for “LIBERAL MEDIA” in bloody red—was ample around town the week of Donald Trump’s

Two mass murders reveal how difficult—and important—it is to correctly identify terrorism

J.M. Berger writes: Two mass murders took place within 48 hours this week. Both attackers were adherents of extremist ideologies. Both terrorized people. But one of these two attacks was clearly terrorism, and one was apparently not. What’s the difference? Early Sunday morning, Travis Reinking walked into a Tennessee Waffle House wearing nothing but a jacket and started shooting, killing four and wounding several more. Early reporting indicates that Reinking