Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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January 2019

From a no-deal Brexit to a no-Brexit deal

Hans-Werner Sinn writes: With the recent signing of the Treaty of Aachen, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have renewed the Franco-German friendship pact and taken an important and necessary step forward for Europe. But the United Kingdom should not have been left out. The UK is an integral part of Europe; as the European Union’s second-largest economy, its GDP equals that of the 19 smallest EU

The messier Brexit gets, the better Europe looks

The New York Times reports: After Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, its leaders were in a panic. The bloc was mired in a migration crisis, and anti-Europe, populist forces were gaining. Britain’s decision seemed to herald the start of a great unraveling. Two years later, as Britain’s exit from the bloc, or Brexit, looks increasingly messy and self-destructive, there is a growing sense, even in

Michael Bloomberg’s plans to take down Trump

Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: Michael Bloomberg has bigger plans for 2020 than running for president. The billionaire and former New York City mayor has been openly dreaming of the White House for 25 years, and spent huge amounts of time and money four times over the past 10 years trying to figure out a way to get himself there. But he has hesitations about this race, too. He’s not sure there

Howard Schultz doesn’t understand American history

Jamelle Bouie writes: Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, cannot win the presidency as an independent candidate. But is there someone who could? Is there any chance a third-party candidate could contest the presidency and win? The short answer is no. As long as the United States has an Electoral College and winner-take-all process for presidential elections, third-party and independent candidates will have a hard time finding any

Cave that housed multiple human species challenges view of cultural evolution

Scientific American reports: Deep in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia sits a very choice piece of real estate. It’s nothing so newfangled as a ski lodge or one of the traditional wood houses that dot the local countryside. Rather it’s a primeval limestone cave, called Denisova, that overlooks a rushing river and the surrounding forest. Multiple human species, or hominins, have sought shelter in this cave over the past

Dogs may have helped ancient Middle Easterners hunt small game

Science News reports: Dogs that lived alongside Middle Eastern villagers roughly 11,500 years ago may have helped to transform how those humans hunted, researchers say. Fragmentary canine bones unearthed at Shubayqa 6, an ancient site in northeastern Jordan, date to a time when remains of hares and other small prey at the outpost sharply increased, say zooarchaeologist Lisa Yeomans of the University of Copenhagen and her colleagues. Many animal bones

January was Australia’s hottest month since records began

Australian Associated Press reports: January was Australia’s hottest month on record, the Bureau of Meteorology has said. The mean temperature last month, averaged across the country, exceeded 30C for the first time for any month. A senior climatologist at the bureau, Andrew Watkins, said January’s heat was unprecedented. “We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and

Music: Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd — ‘How Close Your Soul’

 

How the geography of climate damage could make the politics less polarizing

Mark Muro, David G. Victor, and Jacob Whiton write: As a new Congress and the 2020 presidential election cycle gear up, much of Washington is likely to focus on topics where political polarization is high. Yet there may be surprises. Take climate change, a top priority for many Democrats. The standard story is that the high-tech “blue” states are pushing a green wave of massive investment to cut emissions of

Extreme weather events could worsen climate change

E&E News reports: Droughts, heat waves and other extreme climate-related events are growing concerns in a warming world. Studies have found climate change is already fueling an increase in some extreme events and that they’re likely to worsen as temperatures continue to climb. Now, new research suggests the reverse may also be true—these events, themselves, could also worsen climate change. Weather and climate events tend to affect the amount of

Growing chorus of Republican critics for Trump’s foreign policy

The New York Times reports: They think pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan would be a debacle. They think North Korea cannot be trusted. They think the Islamic State is still a threat to America. They think Russia is bad and NATO is good. The trouble is their president does not agree. More than two years into his administration, the disconnect between President Trump and the Republican establishment on foreign

McConnell fears Election Day power grab by American voters

The Washington Post reports: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a Democratic bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “power grab,” sparking a fierce backlash online. McConnell was speaking about H.R. 1, legislation that Democrats have made a centerpiece of their agenda since retaking the House earlier this month. In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats “want taxpayers on the hook

Inside the UAE’s secret hacking team of U.S. mercenary spies

Reuters reports: Two weeks after leaving her position as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. National Security Agency in 2014, Lori Stroud was in the Middle East working as a hacker for an Arab monarchy. She had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights

OxyContin maker explored expansion into ‘attractive’ anti-addiction market

By David Armstrong, ProPublica, January 30, 2019 Not content with billions of dollars in profits from the potent painkiller OxyContin, its maker explored expanding into an “attractive market” fueled by the drug’s popularity — treatment of opioid addiction, according to previously secret passages in a court document filed by the state of Massachusetts. In internal correspondence beginning in 2014, Purdue Pharma executives discussed how the sale of opioids and the

Music: Matching Mole — ‘O Caroline’

 

Why the UK cannot see that Brexit is utterly, utterly stupid

Simon Wren-Lewis writes: If you talk to almost anyone overseas, except those at the right-wing extreme (like Trump) or part of a tiny minority of the left, their reaction to Brexit is similar that of the former prime minister of Finland. What the UK is doing is utterly, utterly stupid. An act of self harm with no point, no upside. Sometimes outside opinion is based on incomplete or biased information