Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Politics

Former defense secretary, James Mattis, denounces Trump, describing him as a threat to the Constitution

James Mattis writes: I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined

Defense Secretary Esper shocks White House by rebuffing military role in protests

Bloomberg reports: President Donald Trump and other top aides were upset that Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly opposed the deployment of active-duty forces to confront protesters in U.S. cities, as Trump has suggested, and viewed the Pentagon chief’s remarks as out of line. Esper, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, said the use of active-duty military forces to perform law enforcement responsibilities within the U.S. is “a matter

Tear gas being used to suppress protests could intensify coronavirus pandemic

The New York Times reports: The billowing clouds of tear gas that the authorities are sending through protest crowds across the United States may increase the risk that the coronavirus could spread through the gatherings. Along with the immediate pain that can cause watering eyes and burning throats, tear gas may cause damage to people’s lungs and make them more susceptible to getting a respiratory illness, according to studies on

White supremacist infiltration of U.S. police forces: Fact-checking National Security Advisor O’Brien

Just Security reports: On Sunday morning, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, whether he thinks “systemic racism” is a problem in law enforcement agencies in the United States. O’Brien responded: “I don’t think there is systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans,” said O’Brien. “But … there’s a few bad apples.” There are two flaws in O’Brien’s response.

Bryan Stevenson: There’s a direct line from lynching to George Floyd

  Addressing the root causes of racial injustice in America is fundamental to achieving lasting change. Bryan Stevenson has dedicated his life to doing just that. As a leading civil rights lawyer, Stevenson made his name saving dozens of wrongfully convicted inmates from execution through his Equal Justice Initiative. He speaks with Walter Isaacson about solutions, from a change in the culture of policing to an embrace of truth and

Epidemiologist behind Sweden’s controversial virus strategy admits mistakes

Bloomberg reports: Sweden’s top epidemiologist has admitted his strategy to fight Covid-19 resulted in too many deaths, after persuading his country to avoid a strict lockdown. “If we were to encounter the same illness with the same knowledge that we have today, I think our response would land somewhere in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Anders Tegnell said in an interview with

Trump’s multiple voter registration applications suggest he’s either committing tax fraud or voter fraud

The Washington Post reports: President Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida while claiming his “legal residence” was in another part of the country — Washington, D.C. — according to Florida elections records. The September 2019 registration application listed Trump’s legal residence as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, the location of the White House. That created a potential problem for Trump: Florida law requires voters to be legal residents

As the protests continue, let’s be clear about who is engaged in violence

Rebecca Solnit writes: The word “violence” is going to be used a lot to describe the events in US cities over the weekend and all this week. So it’s going to be important to be clear about who is violent and what violence is. Property destruction and harming human beings are profoundly different actions, and with a few exceptions (seemingly interlopers in the protests) virtually all the violence visited on

Trump’s collaborators

Anne Applebaum writes: Trump has governed according to a set of principles very different from those articulated by his original intellectual supporters. Although some of his speeches have continued to use that populist language, he has built a Cabinet and an administration that serve neither the public nor his voters but rather his own psychological needs and the interests of his own friends on Wall Street and in business and,

I cannot remain silent

Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011, writes: It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past

Trump’s war against Americans

Kevin Baron writes: President Donald Trump finally got the war he wanted. It isn’t in Afghanistan, or Iraq, Syria, or North Korea. It’s right here in Washington, D.C., where on Monday the president claimed moral and Constitutional authority and ordered federal law enforcement and the U.S. military to turn against Americans who opposed him. After warning over the weekend that out-of-line rabble-rousers across the street from the White House would

Police kicked priest out of church near White House so that Trump could have his bible-wielding photo-op

Religion News Service reports: Early Monday evening, President Donald Trump stood before the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Washington and held aloft a Bible for cameras. The photo opportunity had an eerie quality: Trump said relatively little, positioned stoically in front of the boarded-up church, which had been damaged the day before in a fire during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 25 in

White supremacist group, Identity Evropa, posing as Antifa, called for violence on Twitter

NBC News reports: A Twitter account claiming to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson. The spokesperson said the account violated the company’s platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts. Twitter suspended the account after a tweet that incited violence. As protests were taking

How to make this moment the turning point for real change in America

Barack Obama writes: As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But

Worse than 1968

Julian Zelizer writes: Trump thrives in a partisan world that is in many ways more dysfunctional than what we saw in 1968. Whereas the tensions of that year revolved around specific issues, like the war and civil rights, we now live in a partisan world where our institutions perpetuate constant red-blue divisions over almost every issue, no matter how large or small they might be. Everything — even wearing masks

Facebook employees challenge Zuckerberg and stage virtual walkout to protest Trump posts

The New York Times reports: Dozens of Facebook employees, in rare public criticism on Monday of their own company, protested executives’ decision not to do anything about inflammatory posts that President Trump had placed on the giant social media platform over the past week. The employees, who said they refused to work in order to show their support for demonstrators across the country, added an automated message to their digital