Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Trump helped Erdogan, Putin, Assad, Iran, and ISIS

Mitch Prothero reports: Syrian President Bashar Assad — backed by his Russian patrons — moved on Monday to exploit the collapse of the US military presence in northeastern Syria by driving troops into the previously autonomous region managed by a Kurdish-dominated militia that had been under American protection for five years. The unlikely sequence of events began earlier this month after President Donald Trump ended US opposition to a Turkish

Kurds targeted in Turkish attack include thousands of female fighters who battled ISIS

By Haidar Khezri, University of Central Florida Kurdish fighters under attack by Turkey have described President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria as a “stab in the back.” Since bombing began on Oct. 9, Turkish military operations against the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, Washington’s staunchest and most effective allies in the war against the Islamic State, has killed at least 11 civilians and an

The violent racism that produced Columbus Day

Brent Staples writes: Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader

Why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day

Marchers celebrate the first Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley, Calif. on Oct. 10, 1992. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma By Malinda Maynor Lowery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Increasingly, Columbus Day is giving people pause. More and more towns and cities across the country are electing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as an alternative to – or in addition to – the day intended to honor Columbus’ voyages. Critics of

‘Oh my God, why are they doing this?’ Northeastern Syrians await their fate

Elizabeth Tsurkov reports: A massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Syria. Over 130,000 civilians have been displaced in a once relatively stable region. Dozens of civilians have been killed or injured. Horrific videos showing field executions by Turkish-backed armed factions have begun to circulate on social media. The fate of the area, home to over three million people, is now increasingly unclear – thanks to President Trump’s decision to withdraw

Trump orders withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria, leaving behind dozens of ‘high value’ ISIS prisoners

The Washington Post reports: President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of virtually all U.S. forces from northern Syria in the face of a Turkish military offensive targeting Kurdish fighters in the region, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Sunday, after days of assurances from the Pentagon that the United States was not “abandoning” its partners in the campaign against the Islamic State. The order to remove the troops came Saturday,

Pullback leaves Green Berets feeling ‘ashamed’ of U.S. betrayal of their Kurdish allies

The New York Times reports: American commandos were working alongside Kurdish forces at an outpost in eastern Syria last year when they were attacked by columns of Syrian government tanks and hundreds of troops, including Russian mercenaries. In the next hours, the Americans threw the Pentagon’s arsenal at them, including B-52 strategic bombers. The attack was stopped. That operation, in the middle of the American-led campaign against the Islamic State

Trump and Erdoğan risk a resurgent ISIS and refueling of the civil war in Syria

Hassan Hassan writes: Future historians might remember Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, launched last week, as the second time that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan provided Islamic State with a lifeline, intentionally or not. The first was when Turkey opened its borders to foreign jihadists entering Syria, which ultimately enabled Isis to build a caliphate the size of Britain in 2014. Both the time and manner of the intervention risk unravelling

Donald Trump: Xenophobe in public, international mobster in private

Robert Reich writes: The most xenophobic and isolationist American president in modern history has been selling America to foreign powers for his own personal benefit. Trump withdrew American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving our Kurdish allies to be slaughtered and opening the way for a resurgent Islamic State. Trump’s rationale? He promised to bring our soldiers home. There could be another reason. Trump never divested from his real estate

Companies ignoring climate crisis will go bankrupt, Bank of England governor warns

The Guardian reports: Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt, the governor of the Bank of England has warned. Mark Carney also told the Guardian it was possible that the global transition needed to tackle the climate crisis could result in an abrupt financial collapse. He said the longer action to reverse emissions was delayed, the more the risk

U.S. foreign policy is for sale. Who else is buying?

Anne Applebaum writes: Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, a pro-Trumper or a never-Trumper, an inhabitant of a blue state or a red state, you owe it to yourself and your country to read the text of the statement prepared for Congress by former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. If you care about the Constitution, if you feel any fealty to the ideas and ideals that have shaped U.S. foreign policy

Giuliani is said to be under investigation for Ukraine work

The New York Times reports: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign

Military leader of Syrian Kurds tells U.S. ‘you are leaving us to be slaughtered’

CNN reports: The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told a senior US diplomat, “You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” demanding to know whether the US is going to do anything to protect Syrian Kurds as Turkey continues its military operation targeting America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi told the Deputy Special

Warren’s unwillingness to pander to conservatives makes some of her critics uncomfortable

The Washington Post reports: About 90 minutes into Thursday’s forum on LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, a gay rights leader posed a question to Sen. Elizabeth Warren: How would she respond if a voter approached her and said, “I’m old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman?” Warren (D-Mass.) responded with a theatrical seriousness. “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who

Tulsi Gabbard: The only Democratic candidate who appeals to right-wing extremists

The New York Times reports: Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, is impressed with her political talent. Richard B. Spencer, the white nationalist leader, says he could vote for her. Former Representative Ron Paul praises her “libertarian instincts,” while Franklin Graham, the influential evangelist, finds her “refreshing.” And far-right conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich see a certain MAGA sais quoi. “She’s got a good energy, a good vibe.

James Comey wants an end to the Trump presidency

The New York Times reports: James Comey slumps strategically in restaurants — all 6-foot-8 of him, drooping faux-furtively with his back to the room — and daydreams about deleting the civic-minded Twitter feed where a bipartisan coalition pronounces him a national disgrace. He sleeps soundly — nine hours a night, he ballparks — and organizes the self-described “unemployed celebrity” chapter of his life around a series of workaday goals. “One