Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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November 2018

A world stage for unapologetic murderers

Politico reports: The strongmen are rampaging across the world stage with impunity, and they know it. Only moments after European Council President Donald Tusk used a news conference to urge G20 leaders to address Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia’s evident disregard for human rights, video footage of the leaders’ arrivals showed Russian President Vladimir Putin slapping hands in jovial fashion with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as

America’s systemic failings

Julian E. Zelizer writes: The federal government released a devastating report last week documenting the immense economic and human cost that the U.S. will incur as a result of climate change. It warns that the damage to roads alone will add up to $21 billion by the end of the century. In certain parts of the Midwest, farms will produce 75 percent less corn than today, while ocean acidification could

No deal or no Brexit if MPs vote down May plan, says Tusk

The Guardian reports: The European council president, Donald Tusk, has said the UK is prepared to either cancel Brexit or to depart with no deal if MPs vote down the settlement secured by Theresa May with Brussels. Speaking at the G20 summit in Argentina, Tusk said there was no other deal on offer and the only alternatives were remaining in the EU or leave with no deal. “The European Union

Sheryl Sandberg is said to have asked Facebook staff to research George Soros

The New York Times reports: Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook’s second in command was directly involved in the social network’s response to the liberal billionaire. Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, asked for the information in an email to a senior

Meet the spiders that feed milk to their young

The New York Times reports: The act of breast-feeding is so fundamental to being a mammal that we named ourselves after it. (“Mammalis” translates to “of the breasts.”) But over time, scientists have discovered that other animals also produce nutrient-rich elixirs to feed their young, including flamingos, cockroaches and male emperor penguins. The latest addition to the cast of organisms that lactate — or something like it — is a

Music: Steve Reich — ‘Six Marimbas’

 

Trump Organization planned to give Putin $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow

BuzzFeed reports: President Donald Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan. Two US law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative

How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood

Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio write: From boasting about the size of his penis on national television to releasing records of his high testosterone levels, President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior exude machismo. His behavior also seems to have struck a chord with some male voters. See, for example, the “Donald Trump: Finally Someone With Balls” T-shirts common at Trump rallies. But our research suggests that Trump is not necessarily attracting

40,000 Syrian refugees remain trapped in U.S.-created no-man’s land

Rozina Ali writes: After months of negotiations, a convoy of sixty-seven aid trucks recently crossed a stretch of desert in southern Syria controlled by the Syrian government and its Iranian allies, before entering territory administered by a small, U.S.-backed rebel group. The trucks carried food, medicine, and winter coats for a fetid refugee camp known as Rukban, home to some forty thousand civilians who have been trapped in a strip

Europe’s Jew hatred, and ours

Bari Weiss writes: Paris. Toulouse. Malmo. Copenhagen. Brussels. Berlin. For most people, they are lovely cities where you might happily take a holiday. But for the world’s Jews, they are something else, too. They are place names of hate. Paris for us doesn’t mean just baguettes and Brie but also this year’s murder of a Holocaust survivor in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement and the 2015 siege of a

Life expectancy declines in the U.S. but is increasing in most other developed nations

The Washington Post reports: Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises. The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period

‘First contact’: What a missionary’s death tells us about the perils of colonialism

Ed Simon writes: Last week, Alabama native John Allen Chau bribed fishermen to take him to the protected Andaman archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where he wished to “establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island.” In a particularly American spin on first-contact narratives, Chau brought a football to the Sentinelese, among the last pre-Neolithic tribes on Earth protected from contact. He was ultimately killed by Sentinelese armed with bows

Trump claims climate change isn’t real. My trip to the top of the world proved otherwise

Eric Scigliano writes: Thirteen U.S. government agencies have just issued an alarming new report predicting that global warming, if allowed to continue unabated, will shrink the American economy by 10 percent by 2100, amid environmental impacts that are, if anything, even more dire. The White House tried to bury the report by releasing it on Friday during the holiday weekend, and President Donald Trump announced he didn’t “believe it.” But

Climate change is making it harder for forests to recover from wildfires

Pacific Standard reports: After consuming more than 153,000 acres, including nearly 14,000 residences, and accounting for 88 fatalities, the Camp Fire has finally been contained. But while communities can now commit fully to recovering from the catastrophic blaze, the landscape itself may have a harder time doing so. Blame climate change. A growing body of research suggests that, thanks to various environmental symptoms of climate change, America’s forests are increasingly

How a future Trump Cabinet member gave serial sex abuser, Jeffrey Epstein, the deal of a lifetime

The Miami Herald reports: On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami’s top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz. It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush. Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami

Senate defies White House on Saudi support in Yemen

Politico reports: The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen. The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with