Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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March 2019

It’s time to focus on Trump’s corruption

Michael Paarlberg writes: It’s a fortunate thing for Donald Trump that the Democrats, and much of the media, spent the past two years focused on the narrow question of whether his 2016 campaign actively colluded with Russian agents to hack his opponents’ emails. Were it not for this singular obsession, we might have come to appreciate the full scope of graft, influence peddling and petty theft that has made this

For Russia, an assassin ends up as ‘a used bullet’ who can easily be replaced

Michael Schwirtz writes: For months, I had been traveling in Russia and Europe, reporting on the poisoning last year in England of the former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal. It had touched off a geopolitical confrontation and brought talk of a new Cold War. Britain and its allies enacted sanctions and expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats after blaming the nerve agent attack on two officers from Russia’s military intelligence

How many innocent people does the U.S. kill by remote control?

In an editorial, the New York Times says: The Pentagon says American airstrikes in Somalia have killed no civilians since President Trump accelerated attacks against Shabab militants there two years ago. Amnesty International investigated five of the more than 100 strikes carried out in Somalia since 2017 by drones and manned aircraft, and in just that small sampling found that at least 14 civilians were killed. The Pentagon says airstrikes

Leaked reports reveal how Saudis torture political prisoners

The Guardian reports: Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are said to be suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns, according to leaked medical reports that are understood to have been prepared for the country’s ruler, King Salman. The reports seem to provide the first documented evidence from within the heart of the royal court that political prisoners are facing severe physical abuse, despite the government’s denials that men and women

Across the Middle East and North Africa, environmentalists are coming under attack like never before

Peter Schwartzstein writes: Conservation NGOs have been closed or so suffocated that they’re as good as dissolved. Activists and experts have been threatened into silence—or worse. A community that had until recently mostly escaped the fate of much of the region’s civil society has suddenly fallen afoul of the authorities. Its plight mirrors the difficulties faced by environmentalists worldwide. Globally, 197 environmental defenders were killed in 2017, according to the

Evidence of the most significant event in the history of life on Earth

Douglas Preston writes: If, on a certain evening about sixty-­six million years ago, you had stood somewhere in North America and looked up at the sky, you would have soon made out what appeared to be a star. If you watched for an hour or two, the star would have seemed to grow in brightness, although it barely moved. That’s because it was not a star but an asteroid, and

Music: Colde — ‘Space’

 

Trump directs State Dept. to end aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

The New York Times reports: President Trump said on Friday that there would be a “very good likelihood” that he would seal off the United States border with Mexico next week, even as he moved to punish Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for migrant caravans by cutting off all foreign aid to the countries. The moves escalated a sustained berating of countries he blames for being unable to stop the

Literally no one but Trump actually wants to close border crossings

TRUMP: "With a deficit like we have with Mexico and have had for many years, closing the border will be a profit-making operation." (That is not at all how trade works!) pic.twitter.com/jnuJpQEMfU — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 29, 2019 Dara Lind writes: Shutting down ports of entry would be an economic disaster. It would also disrupt the lives of border communities that rely on the flow of people between the

Trump’s order to open Arctic waters to oil drilling was unlawful, federal judge finds

The New York Times reports: In a major legal blow to President Trump’s push to expand offshore oil and gas development, a federal judge ruled that an executive order by Mr. Trump that lifted an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic coast was unlawful. The decision, by Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for the

Bezos investigation finds the Saudis obtained his private data

Gavin De Becker writes: Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder. The Saudi campaign against Bezos has already been reported by CNN International, Bloomberg, The Daily Beast, and others. Saudi Arabia attacks people in many ways, obviously, including through their elaborate social media program that

Can we get better at forgetting?

Benedict Carey writes: Whatever its other properties, memory is a reliable troublemaker, especially when navigating its stockpile of embarrassments and moral stumbles. Ten minutes into an important job interview and here come screenshots from a past disaster: the spilled latte, the painful attempt at humor. Two dates into a warming relationship and up come flashbacks of an earlier, abusive partner. The bad timing is one thing. But why can’t those

Music: Colde — ‘시 (Shhh)’

 

Trump-linked U.S. Christian ‘fundamentalists’ pour millions of ‘dark money’ into Europe, boosting the far right

Open Democracy reports: U.S. Christian right ‘fundamentalists’ linked to the Trump administration and Steve Bannon are among a dozen American groups that have poured at least $50 million of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the last decade, openDemocracy can reveal today. Between them, these groups have backed ‘armies’ of ultra-conservative lawyers and political activists, as well as ‘family values’ campaigns against LGBT rights, sex education and abortion – and a

The only way forward is a delay, a rethink, and a softer form of Brexit

Following the third defeat in parliament for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the Financial Times, in an editorial, says: While a majority of MPs profoundly disagreed — like this newspaper — with the wisdom of leaving, many were ready to compromise to allow it to happen. Hardcore Brexit ultras would agree to nothing but the fantastical clean-break exit they craved. They cannot be allowed to take the country over the cliff

Jacinda Ardern at Christchurch memorial: Only through our common humanity can we confront extremism

  New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, said: To the global community who have joined us today, who reached out to embrace New Zealand, and our Muslim community, to all of those who have gathered here today, we say thank you. And we also ask that the condemnation of violence and terrorism turns now to a collective response. The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism