Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

Site Search







Recent Posts

December 2018

China’s campaign of state terror against Muslims

Joanne Smith Finley writes: In an old Silk Road oasis town on China’s western border, these days a thirsty traveller can knock back a cold beer in a local mosque. The former place of worship is now a bar for tourists. And it is with the customers’ views in mind—and, perhaps, the aspirations of China’s leaders—that the place is called “The Dream of Kashgar.” For Kashgar’s Uighur residents, however, and

Child soldiers from Darfur on the front line of the Saudi war in Yemen

The New York Times reports: The civil war in Darfur robbed Hager Shomo Ahmed of almost any hope. Raiders had stolen his family’s cattle, and a dozen years of bloodshed had left his parents destitute. Then, around the end of 2016, Saudi Arabia offered a lifeline: The kingdom would pay as much as $10,000 if Hager joined its forces fighting 1,200 miles away in Yemen. Hager, 14 at the time,

Journalists faced ‘unprecedented’ hostility this year, report says

CNN reports: More journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018 than in any other year on record, with those in the profession facing an “unprecedented level of hostility,” a new report has found. Murder, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists all increased compared to last year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who criticized politicians and public figures for encouraging disdain for the news media. A

The ‘Year of the Woman’ forced us to take a step back for every step forward. That isn’t real progress

Sabrina Hersi Issa writes: After the midterm elections, 2018 was increasingly hailed as “The Year of The Woman.” But a record number of women heading to Congress as a result of the midterm elections cannot be celebrated outside of the context that it happened mere weeks after the United States Senate chose to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after credible allegations of sexual assault were made against him.

Glorified and vilified, Representative-elect Ilhan Omar tells critics: ‘Just deal’

The New York Times reports: As a 12-year-old refugee from Somalia adjusting to life in the Virginia suburbs, Ilhan Omar fended off bullies who stuck gum on her scarf, knocked her down stairs and jumped her when she changed clothes for gym class. Her father “sat me down, and he said, ‘Listen, these people who are doing all of these things to you, they’re not doing something to you because

More Republicans than you think support action on climate change

Arlie Hochschild and David Hochschild write: Democrats and Republicans have clashed fiercely on many issues — the Mueller investigation, immigration, gun control — but can the two parties come together on climate change, the biggest issue of all? Most analysts say no. After all, since President Trump took office, the terms “global warming” and “climate change” have been expunged from some government websites. Mr. Trump says his “very high level

Deciphering the patterns in Trump’s falsehoods

The New York Times reports: President Trump has a well-documented problem telling the truth. Fact checkers have compiled lists of all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods since he took office (The Washington Post counts over 7,500, and The Toronto Star over 3,900), rounded up his most egregious whoppers in year-end lists and scrutinized his claims in real time with television chyrons. Here at The New York Times, we have also fact-checked

Music: Zara Madani — ‘Moray Naina’


Boris Birshtein, Trump, and Russia

Mark MacKinnon reports: There was a joke more than 30 years ago, when immigrants from the former Soviet Union began settling in Toronto’s North York neighbourhood, that they came here because it was as drab and grey as the Soviet cities they’d left behind. That description still fits parts of this vast and occasionally bleak suburb. But not this tidy, manicured avenue, lined as it is with multimillion-dollar houses –

Saudi Arabia may have helped citizen in Oregon hit-and-run killing flee the U.S.

Al Jazeera reports: A senior US senator has called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify if Saudi Arabia helped a citizen of that country flee the US before his manslaughter trial. In a letter on Friday, Senator Ron Wyden expressed strong concern over a local media report that said the Saudi government may have issued a new passport to its citizen, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, in order to help

Exodus: Why Hondurans are fleeing for their lives

Chinese scientist who claimed to make genetically edited babies is kept under guard

The New York Times reports: The Chinese scientist who shocked the world by claiming that he had created the first genetically edited babies is sequestered in a small university guesthouse in the southern city of Shenzhen, where he remains under guard by a dozen unidentified men. The sighting of the scientist, He Jiankui, this week was the first since he appeared at a conference in Hong Kong in late November

How new data is transforming our understanding of the brain’s navigational place cells

Adithya Rajagopalan writes: The first pieces of the brain’s “inner GPS” started coming to light in 1970. In the laboratories of University College London, John O’Keefe and his student Jonathan Dostrovsky recorded the electrical activity of neurons in the hippocampus of freely moving rats. They found a group of neurons that increased their activity only when a rat found itself in a particular location. They called them “place cells.” Building

In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. has created the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe

The Washington Post reports: Three-year-old Abdo Saleh lay on a cot, unable to walk or speak, his tiny body broken by hunger. His face was skeletal, his arms and legs thin as twigs. He weighed 10 pounds. A few miles away, markets were stocked with all kinds of food. But prices have risen so sharply that his parents cannot afford the milk, fruits and vegetables that are in abundance. “Sometimes,

McKinsey tied to Saudi crackdown on political dissent

Middle East Eye reports: Omar Abdulaziz says “it could have happened” to him. The Saudi dissident knows he came close to the fate that befell Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered inside his country’s Istanbul consulate in October. Months earlier, two Saudi government agents came to Montreal, the Canadian city Abdulaziz has called home for almost a decade, to convince him to return to the Gulf kingdom. “They

McKinsey’s loyalty to its brutal clients

The Wall Street Journal reports: Saudi Arabian officials arrested a partner at consulting giant McKinsey & Co. in the fall of 2017 and have been holding him in detention since then, people familiar with the matter say. In recent months, he has been repeatedly beaten, two of those people said. A McKinsey spokesman said that as of early this year the consultant, Hani Khoja, is no longer a McKinsey employee.