Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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June 2018

News and the forgotten value of waiting

If someone wanted to create a parody of cable news, it would be hard to satirize the form more effectively than to cast Wolf Blitzer as the lead character in a goofy show called The Situation Room, where all news all the time is breaking news. The irony of the fact that CNN’s news show of that name is, on the contrary, meant to be taken seriously, is that it

Americans broadly favor legal immigration as support for increasing levels rises

Pew Research Center: While there has been considerable attention on illegal immigration into the U.S. recently, opinions about legal immigration have undergone a long-term change. Support for increasing the level of legal immigration has risen, while the share saying legal immigration should decrease has fallen. The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults, finds that 38% say legal immigration into the United States should be kept

The fate of the Supreme Court could ride on these 2 senators

Politico reports: Sen. Susan Collins took a notable phone call Thursday as she enters the eye of the Supreme Court confirmation storm: It was White House counsel Don McGahn, sounding out the moderate Maine Republican in what she called a “preliminary discussion” of the high court vacancy. Republicans control the Senate by a single seat and Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent for months. That means any single GOP

North Korea’s nuclear program ‘continuing at a rapid pace’

The Guardian reports: North Korea has continued to upgrade its only known nuclear reactor used to fuel its weapons program, satellite imagery has shown, despite ongoing negotiations with the US and a pledge to denuclearise. Infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon nuclear plant are “continuing at a rapid pace”, according to an analysis by monitoring group 38 North of commercial satellite images taken on 21 June. The cooling system for the

How the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ forged ties with Russia and the Trump campaign — and came under investigators’ scrutiny

The Washington Post reports: On Aug. 19, 2016, Arron Banks, a wealthy British businessman, sat down at the palatial residence of the Russian ambassador to London for a lunch of wild halibut and Belevskaya pastila apple sweets accompanied by Russian white wine. Banks had just scored a huge win. From relative obscurity, he had become the largest political donor in British history by pouring millions into Brexit, the campaign to

Special counsel eyeing Russians granted unusual access to Trump inauguration parties

ABC News reports: Several billionaires with deep ties to Russia attended exclusive, invitation-only receptions during Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, guest lists obtained by ABC News show. These powerful businessmen, who amassed their fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union — including one who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department — were ushered into events typically reserved for top donors and close political allies and were given

Ex-aide to Roger Stone is subpoenaed in Russia investigation

The New York Times reports: A former aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., the longtime Trump adviser and self-described “dirty trickster,” was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury hearing evidence in the Russia investigation and to hand over documents, and his lawyer moved on Thursday to quash it in court. The aide, Andrew Miller, has not been mentioned before publicly in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S.

Space is full of dirty, toxic grease, scientists reveal

The Guardian reports: It looks cold, dark and empty, but astronomers have revealed that interstellar space is permeated with a fine mist of grease-like molecules. The study provides the most precise estimate yet of the amount of “space grease” in the Milky Way, by recreating the carbon-based compounds in the laboratory. The Australian-Turkish team discovered more than expected: 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of gloop, or enough for 40 trillion

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the legacy of the Bernie Sanders movement

Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes: Twenty-seven thousand people cast votes on Tuesday in the Democratic primary in New York’s Fourteenth Congressional District, and most of them voted for a twenty-eight-year-old left-wing political newcomer named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just nine months ago, Ocasio-Cortez had been tending bar at a Mexican restaurant near Union Square. Her incumbent opponent, the longtime congressman Joseph Crowley, has represented the area since Ocasio-Cortez was in elementary school, and was,

The Republican Supreme Court and the era of minority rule

Jonathan Chait writes: Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, which, with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, will have resulted in the appointment of eight of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. And yet four of those justices will have been appointed by presidents who took office despite having fewer votes than their opponent. Republicans will have increasingly solid control of the court’s majority,

We need Jimmy Carter now more than ever

Michael Paterniti writes: Among ex-presidents, Mr. Jimmy blazes on. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, both men who sandwiched him in office, are dead; George senior teeters; Bill Clinton tremors when tired and, at 71, has begun to fade before our eyes. (Meanwhile, Bill and Hillary have pocketed over $150 million from speeches.) George W. has retreated to a more low-profile, patrician life of painting and occasional aid trips to Africa,

How spiders fly

James Gorman writes: Sometimes spiders ride the wind. They spin out lines of silk that are caught by the breeze and carry them aloft. They have been reported to rise a mile or two above the earth, and perhaps even to cross oceans. It’s called ballooning. Moonsung Cho, an aeronautical engineer, was in Denmark the first time he saw the flight of a spider. It was autumn, when baby spiders

A decision that will live in infamy

Noah Feldman writes: In what may be the worst decision since the infamous Korematsu case, when the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the court today by a 5-4 vote upheld President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Like the Korematsu decision, Trump v. Hawaii elevates legal formalities as a way to avoid addressing what everyone understood is really at issue here — namely, prejudice. Chief

Where is Barack Obama?

Gabriel Debenedetti writes: Barack Obama was six months into his post–White House life when Donald Trump found a new way to grab his attention. It was a Tuesday morning deep in the mid-Atlantic summer, and, feeling a world away from the Pennsylvania Avenue grind, the former president was reading the New York Times on his iPad. The previous evening, Trump had visited West Virginia, where he spoke at the annual

Americans are losing confidence in democracy

James Hohmann reports: Half of Americans think the United States is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country.” A majority, 55 percent, see democracy as “weak” — and 68 percent believe it is “getting weaker.” Eight in 10 Americans say they are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the condition of democracy here. These are among the sobering results of a major bipartisan poll published Tuesday that was

The ignorant do not have a right to an audience

Bryan W. Van Norden writes: What harm is there in people hearing obvious falsehoods and specious argumentation if any sane and minimally educated person can see through them? The problem, though, is that humans are not rational in the way [the English philosopher John Stuart] Mill assumes [in, On Liberty]. I wish it were self-evident to everyone that we should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, but