Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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October 2018

Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming

The Washington Post reports: The world’s oceans have been soaking up far more excess heat in recent decades than scientists realized, suggesting that Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted in the years ahead, according to new research published Wednesday. Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought, said Laure Resplandy, a geoscientist at Princeton University

Brazil shows how the elite responds when forced to choose between fascism and the left

Paul Mason writes: Once you’ve heard the words “Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil” you have to prepare yourself to hear, in the future, “Marine Le Pen, president of France”. We already have a far-right Italian deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, but Bolsonaro’s victory also signals that Salvini could one day rule without the restraint of a coalition partner. The Brazilian president’s victory was, in short, the first case study in

This is how republics end — warnings from the fall of Rome

Mike Duncan writes: What does a republic in decline look like? It’s an increasingly pressing question for the United States, where rising economic inequality is creating stress, anxiety and resentment. Endemic racism and ethnic prejudice are leading to clashes over citizenship and voting rights. Rampant corruption and ruthless ambition among elites are triggering political clashes that may crack the once-indestructible foundations of the American Republic — an unthinkable idea even

Turkish prosecutor says Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered in Saudi Consulate

The Washington Post reports: Turkey’s public prosecutor said Wednesday that Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered upon arrival at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month as part of a premeditated plan to kill the prominent journalist and dispose of his body. The statement, delivered as Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor left Istanbul for Riyadh, marked the most conclusive official description to date of what happened to the prominent journalist and

Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is ‘chief of the tribe’ in a cowed House of Saud

The Washington Post reports: For just over two years, until June 2017, Mohammed bin Nayef was crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the designated heir to the throne. A grandson of the kingdom’s founder, with long experience at high levels of government, he was the first of his generation to reach the direct line of succession. Today, bin Nayef, 59, is rarely seen outside his palace in Jiddah, on Saudi Arabia’s

‘Homeland security’ ignores white terror, DHS veterans say

The Daily Beast reports: On Tuesday, just days after a white supremacist gunned down 11 people at a synagogue and just a week after a terrorist mailed more than a dozen bombs to critics of the president, the Department of Homeland Security—created after 9/11 to protect the United States from terrorism—had a conference call. Attendees were on the department’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, a group of more than two dozen

Americans are easy marks for Russian trolls, according to new data

The Daily Beast reports: You don’t need to read the federal indictments to spot the moment Russia began targeting the United States with its army of internet trolls. Just chart the American flag emoji. Best estimates trace the founding of the Internet Research Agency to August 2013, and for eight months of its existence the Saint Petersburg troll farm was focused on influencing citizens in Russia and Russia’s near abroad.

Music: Banda Magda — ‘Caramel’


Humanity is destroying life on Earth

  The Guardian reports: Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation. The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of

The citizenship clause means what it says

Garrett Epps writes: “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties,” James Madison wrote in 1785. President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that he plans to move from experimentation on liberty into widespread application of the tyrant’s playbook. In an interview with Axios on HBO, Trump confirmed what had been suspected since last summer: He is planning an executive order that would try to change the

Secretary Mattis, defend this or resign

Kelly Magsamen writes: Let’s put this into perspective. Secretary of Defense James Mattis authorized the deployment of 5,200 active duty U.S. troops to the border of Mexico to help deal with a walking caravan of civilians fleeing Central American violence in pursuit of asylum in the United States. That means there will soon be more than twice as many U.S. active duty military on the southwest border than fighting ISIS

Bernie Sanders is partnering with Yanis Varoufakis to build a new international progressive movement

BuzzFeed reports: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is teaming up with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to formally launch a new “Progressives International” in Vermont on Nov. 30, Varoufakis said in Rome on Friday. Varoufakis, who made the announcement during a Friday press conference in Rome, told BuzzFeed News they were also inviting incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to join the new movement. (López Obrador spokesperson Jesús Ramírez

Brothers mourned for their embrace of ‘joy and love and happiness’

The Atlantic reports: Cecil and David Rosenthal were buried in matching caskets made of wood, each adorned with a single Jewish star. The brothers, 59 and 54, were two of the 11 Jews killed in Pittsburgh on Saturday, remembered by all as irrepressibly friendly synagogue regulars. But they were also vulnerable in a different way than the other victims of the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue: The brothers lived

The rhythm of life


Loneliness in America

When in cold reflection, a man concludes that his life matters to no one but himself, how are we to imagine he might still retain or develop an appreciation for the value of the lives of others? It’s easy enough to characterize Robert Bowers’ deadly attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue as a product of hate-filled political discourse fueled by the inflammatory words of a cynically divisive president and yet that

As rich nations close the door on refugees, Uganda welcomes them

The New York Times reports: President Trump is vowing to send the military to stop migrants trudging from Central America. Europe’s leaders are paying African nations to block migrants from crossing the Mediterranean — and detaining the ones who make it in filthy, overcrowded camps. But Solomon Osakan has a very different approach in this era of rising xenophobia. From his uncluttered desk in northwest Uganda, he manages one of