Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Vegans are right about ethics and the environment

Farhad Manjoo writes: Many of us, myself included, engage in painless, performative environmentalism. We’ll give up plastic straws and tweet passionately that someone should do something about the Amazon, yet few of us make space in our worldview to acknowledge the carcass in the room: the irrefutable evidence that our addiction to meat is killing the planet right before our eyes. After all, it takes only a few minutes of

Jeffrey Epstein hoped to seed the human race with his own DNA

The New York Times reports: Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier who is accused of sex trafficking, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch. Mr. Epstein over the years confided to scientists and others about his scheme, according to four people familiar with his thinking, although there is no evidence that it ever came

The Bible says to welcome refugees

A new Trump ruling will prohibit virtually all Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States. AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell By Mathew Schmalz, College of the Holy Cross The Trump administration will stop accepting asylum applications from migrants who could have claimed asylum in a different country before entering the U.S., it announced on July 15. The new interim immigration rule upends a 60-year-old policy that protects refugees from

White evangelicals, ignoring the Bible, are least likely to say U.S. should accept refugees

Stephen Johnson writes: It might seem like non-religious people would be most likely to say the U.S. doesn’t have a responsibility to accept refugees. After all, nonbelievers don’t follow a unified doctrine that explicitly tells followers to offer love, shelter and compassion to foreigners — you know, like Christians do. For example, the Bible states: Leviticus 19:34 — “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the

Trump’s concentration camps

Charles M Blow writes: I have often wondered why good people of good conscience don’t respond to things like slavery or the Holocaust or human rights abuse. Maybe they simply became numb to the horrific way we now rarely think about or discuss the men still being held at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial, and who may as well die there. Maybe people grow weary of wrestling with their

Most people seem to value integrity more than money

The Guardian reports: Here’s a moral dilemma: if you find a wallet stuffed with bank notes, do you pocket the cash or track down the owner to return it? We can each speak for ourselves, but now a team of economists have put the unsuspecting public to the test in a mass social experiment involving 17,000 “lost” wallets in 40 countries. They found that a majority of people returned the

GOP lawmakers are quietly turning against the death penalty

Madeleine Carlisle writes: David Welch’s wife died on Christmas Day 2016. He doesn’t remember much of what happened that next year. But in the grips of grief, he came to a fundamental realization, he told me: The death penalty is “just morally wrong.” Welch has served as a Republican in the New Hampshire state House for more than three decades. For most of that time, he had consistently voted to

Good Samaritan faces 20 years in prison for giving food and water to migrants

Scott Warren is facing 20 years in prison. His crime? Providing food and water to migrants in Arizona’s deadliest desert corridor. — New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) June 1, 2019

Lending practices like those behind 2008 financial crash devastated a generation of taxi drivers

The New York Times reports: The phone call that ruined Mohammed Hoque’s life came in April 2014 as he began another long day driving a New York City taxi, a job he had held since emigrating from Bangladesh nine years earlier. The call came from a prominent businessman who was selling a medallion, the coveted city permit that allows a driver to own a yellow cab instead of working for

Face it: A farmed animal is someone; not something

Lori Marino writes: We’ve all heard them and used them – the common references to farmed animals that appeal to the worst part of human nature: ‘pearls before swine’, ‘what a pig’, ‘like lambs to the slaughter’, ‘bird brain’. These phrases represent our species’ view of farmed animals as not particularly bright, uncaring about their treatment or fate, and generally bland and monolithic in their identities. My team of researchers

Martin Buber’s vision of Zionism as a cultural rather than political movement

Adam Kirsch writes: In 1917, when the Zionists were celebrating Britain’s endorsement of their aims in the Balfour Declaration, Buber objected that he did not envision the redemption of the Jews as something that could be achieved through political victories. Later, after Buber moved to Jerusalem, in 1938, he opposed a Jewish declaration of statehood, arguing that Palestine should become a binational state shared by Arabs and Jews. And, after

Is a more generous society possible?

By Leah Shaffer In January 2016, Cathryn Townsend set out to live among “the loveless people.” So named by anthropologist Colin Turnbull, the Ik are a tribe of some 11,600 hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers living in an arid and harsh mountainous region of Uganda. Turnbull studied the Ik in the 1960s and famously characterized them as “inhospitable and generally mean” in his book The Mountain People. He documented how young

What science can tell us about how other creatures experience the world

Ross Andersen writes: Amid the human crush of Old Delhi, on the edge of a medieval bazaar, a red structure with cages on its roof rises three stories above the labyrinth of neon-lit stalls and narrow alleyways, its top floor emblazoned with two words: birds hospital. On a hot day last spring, I removed my shoes at the hospital’s entrance and walked up to the second-floor lobby, where a clerk

How Trump’s wall would harm immigrants and refugees

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin writes: Is the border wall ethical? President Trump has suggested the wall is moral and those who oppose it immoral. His critics claim the opposite. To answer this, we have to consider its effect on humans. What harm could a border wall cause to immigrants and refugees, all of whom are equal to us in the eyes of God? Some people who cross the border are

Bishop says pro-life activism ‘has become separated from the even more basic truth of the dignity of each human person’

Catholic Bishop John Stowe writes: A perennial complaint from participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is that the secular news media largely ignore this massive protest of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. In light of the viral news story of last weekend, of a group of Catholic high school students from Kentucky in a confrontation with a Native American elder after this year’s march,

‘If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?’

The Washington Post reports: During the summer of 2017, when temperatures reached triple digits in Arizona, four women drove to a vast desert wilderness along the southwestern border with Mexico. They brought water jugs and canned food — items they later said they were leaving for dehydrated migrants crossing the unfriendly terrain to get to the United States. The women were later charged with misdemeanor crimes. Prosecutors said they violated