Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Politics

Dishonest Elections Project: Conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network

The Guardian reports: A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal. The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking

Appeals court ruling suggests little legal traction for Trump’s anti-Twitter campaign

Politico reports: A ruling that emerged from a powerful federal appeals court in Washington on Wednesday morning is strong evidence that the courts are unlikely to be receptive to President Donald Trump’s claims that he and his political supporters are being silenced by social media platforms like Twitter. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit resoundingly rejected a lawsuit the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and right-wing provocateur

The Central Park bird watcher, that incident and his feelings on the woman’s fate

The New York Times reports: His binoculars around his neck, Christian Cooper, an avid birder, was back in his happy place on Wednesday: Central Park during migration season. He was trying to focus on the olive-sided flycatchers and red-bellied woodpeckers — not on what had happened there two days earlier. That was when Mr. Cooper, who is black, asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash. When

Trump sees a ‘rigged election’ ahead, while Democrats see a constitutional crisis in the making

Politico reports: First he lit into Michigan and Nevada, threatening to withhold federal funding because of his assertion that both states were preparing to commit voter fraud through mail-in ballot applications. Then President Donald Trump followed up Sunday with two more broadly-worded warnings that November would be “the greatest Rigged Election in history.” “The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple!” the president claimed. Trump’s increasingly

The mercenaries who have thrived off Libya’s chaos

The New York Times reports: Two former British marines piloted their boats, a pair of military-grade inflatables, across the Mediterranean from Malta. Six helicopters were flown in from Botswana using falsified papers. The rest of the team — soldiers of fortune from South Africa, Britain, Australia and the United States — arrived from a staging area in Jordan. To anyone who asked, the mercenaries who slipped into the war-pocked port

A vision of our post-lockdown future

Barclay Bram writes: Xu Jiao was anxious to get back in the gym. Living in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, she had gone through two months of lockdown. The pandemic hadn’t been particularly bad in the city. To date there have been 144 confirmed cases and three deaths, according to official statistics. Still, as with much of China, the lockdown had been severe. Almost everything had been closed

Why don’t Trump’s supporters hold him to their own standard of masculinity?

Tom Nichols writes: Why do working-class white men—the most reliable component of Donald Trump’s base—support someone who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency? The question is not whether Trump fails to meet some archaic or idealized version of masculinity. The president’s inability to measure up to Marcus Aurelius or Omar Bradley is not the issue. Rather, the question is why so

As Trump removes federal watchdogs, some loyalists replacing them have ‘preposterous’ conflicts

The Washington Post reports: The political appointee President Trump installed last week to investigate waste, fraud and abuse at the Transportation Department is the same official in charge of one of the agency’s key divisions. That means Howard “Skip” Elliott is now running an office charged with investigating his own actions. Elliott serves simultaneously as the Transportation Department’s inspector general and head of the department’s pipeline and hazardous materials agency,

Bishops turn on Boris Johnson for defending his chief aide, Dominic Cummings

The Guardian reports: Church of England bishops have fired a volley of unprecedented criticism at Boris Johnson over his defence of actions taken by his chief aide, Dominic Cummings. One suggested the church could decline to work with the government during the coronavirus crisis “unless we see clear repentance, including the sacking of Cummings”. More than a dozen bishops questioned the integrity of the prime minister following his press conference

What happens if Trump refuses to accept defeat?

The New York Times reports: In October, President Trump declares a state of emergency in major cities in battleground states, like Milwaukee and Detroit, banning polling places from opening. A week before the election, Attorney General William P. Barr announces a criminal investigation into the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr. After Mr. Biden wins a narrow Electoral College victory, Mr. Trump refuses to accept the results, won’t leave

Billions are going to zillionaires under the guise of pandemic relief

Nicholas Kristof writes: While President Trump and his allies in Congress seek to tighten access to food stamps, they are showing compassion for one group: zillionaires. Their economic rescue package quietly allocated $135 billion — yes, that’s “billion” with a “b” — for the likes of wealthy real estate developers. My Times colleague Jesse Drucker notes that Trump himself, along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may benefit financially from this

We don’t need to open churches to practice our faith

Father Edward L. Beck writes: President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he considers houses of worship and their religious services essential. I won’t argue that point. Although obviously not essential for all, they are deemed so by some. Fair enough. He went on: “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don’t

China’s move to rein in Hong Kong is just the start

The New York Times reports: China’s move to strip away another layer of Hong Kong’s autonomy was not a rash impulse. It was a deliberate act, months in the making. It took into account the risks of international umbrage and reached the reasonable assumption that there would not be a significant geopolitical price to pay. As a provocative move, it is just the latest. With the world distracted by the

In a ‘strategic miscalculation,’ Trump kept foreigners out of the U.S. while helping spread the virus across the nation

The Washington Post reports: In the final days before the United States faced a full-blown epidemic, President Trump made a last-ditch attempt to prevent people infected with the coronavirus from reaching the country. “To keep new cases from entering our shores,” Trump said in an Oval Office address on March 11, “we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.” Across the

China is using coronavirus crisis as a distraction to push through its geopolitical aims, says former governor of Hong Kong

The Guardian reports: China has betrayed the people of Hong Kong and the UK has a moral, economic and legal duty to stand up for them, Chris Patten, the last governor of the former British colony, has said. Beijing is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after a sustained campaign of pro-democracy protests last year in the city, which enjoys many freedoms not allowed on mainland

Brazil minister calls for environmental deregulation while public distracted by Covid-19

Reuters reports: Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles called on the government to push through further deregulation of environmental policy while people are distracted by the coronavirus pandemic, in a video the Supreme Court ordered released on Friday. The video of a ministers’ meeting surfaced in an investigation of whether President Jair Bolsonaro interfered in appointing leaders of the federal police for personal gain. During the meeting, other ministers spoke, including