Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Is the Amazon rainforest going to turn into dry scrubland?

Nature reports: Seen from a monitoring tower above the treetops near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, the rainforest canopy stretches to the horizon as an endless sea of green. It looks like a rich and healthy ecosystem, but appearances are deceiving. This rainforest — which holds 16,000 separate tree species — is slowly drying out. Over the past century, the average temperature in the forest has risen by 1–1.5 °C.

Donald Trump wants you to imagine he has the coronavirus totally under control

The Daily Beast reports: President Donald Trump is frantically trying to quell criticism that he and his team were caught off guard by the growing number of coronavirus cases worldwide, fearful that a narrative of dysfunction could complicate his reelection bid. Advisers to President Trump have for weeks tried to gather data about how quickly the virus spreads, how it can be stopped, and how to contain an outbreak in

Iranian clerics keep shrines open, even as coronavirus spreads

The Associated Press reports: Shiite shrines that attract tens of millions of visitors annually have come under focus in Iran as the country grapples with the spread of the coronavirus. The outbreak of the virus in Iran prompted the government to request the closure of major shrines in cities like Qom, Mashhad and Shiraz, but Iran’s powerful clerics have rejected or ignored the notices. The decision to keep the shrines

Obama calls on South Carolina TV stations to pull ad ‘straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook’

The Washington Post reports: Former president Barack Obama is calling on South Carolina television stations to stop running an ad from a super PAC supporting President Trump that uses Obama’s words out of context in a misleading attack on former vice president Joe Biden. The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump group, reported to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday spending more than $250,000 in South Carolina to oppose

Capitalism and socialism mingle in every hour of our lives

When you're on the highway, the thing beneath you: socialism. The vehicles around you: capitalism. On Wall Street, the banks: capitalism. The regulators protecting them: socialism. Capitalism and socialism mingle in every hour of our lives. Let's break the billionaire binary. pic.twitter.com/hqBdLvd0SI — Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 26, 2020

The Harvey Weinstein verdict is a watershed — and a warning

Rebecca Solnit writes: When I was young I had no words. I read voraciously, I loved books, stories, language. I was trying to become a writer, and so I lived for words and by words. I poured out my thoughts and some of the hopes and fears that were beginning to take shape in long conversations with friends. But words failed me when I needed them most. I was a

The woman the Mercury astronauts couldn’t do without

Katherine Johnson died on February 24 at the age of 101. In 2016, Margot Lee Shetterly wrote: It had always been Katherine Goble’s great talent to be in the right place at the right time. In August 1952, 12 years after leaving graduate school to have her first child, that right place was in Marion, Virginia, at the wedding of her husband, Jimmy Goble’s, little sister Patricia. Pat, a vivacious

Music: Roberto Di Gioia’s Marsmobil — ‘Yelloworange’

 

Trump allies acknowledge the coronavirus could present an existential political threat for the president

Politico reports: With the possibility of a U.S. outbreak growing by the day, Trump allies and advisers have grown increasingly worried that a botched coronavirus response will hit the U.S. economy. Even Donald Trump Jr. has mused to associates he hopes the White House does not screw up the response and put the president’s best reelection message at risk, said two individuals with knowledge of his comments. “Trump’s reelection effort

‘Recipe for a massive viral outbreak’: Iran emerges as a worldwide threat

The New York Times reports: Religious pilgrims, migrant workers, businessmen, soldiers and clerics all flow constantly across Iran’s frontiers, often crossing into countries with few border controls, weak and ineffective governments and fragile health systems. Now, as it struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Iran is also emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the disease. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman,

Coronavirus fears grip Middle East as Iran denies cover-up

Watch: Video shows the Iranian deputy minister for health sweating and coughing during a press conference held one day before he announced he tested positive for #coronavirus. #COVID-19https://t.co/t49nL7i9va pic.twitter.com/GY4DbrQY9p — Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) February 25, 2020 The Guardian reports: Fears are growing across the Middle East that coronavirus has infiltrated a main pilgrimage route, which could lead the deadly pathogen to vulnerable refugee populations, causing perhaps unprecedented public health

Coronavirus fears grow as more cases found across Europe

The Guardian reports: The spread of the coronavirus has accelerated across Europe with new cases in four countries and a rising death toll in Italy, which is desperately struggling to contain the outbreak. Concern about the proliferation of cases prompted a dozen UK schools to send home pupils and the teachers who accompanied them on half-term skiing trips in the Italian alps to self-isolate for 14 days after their return.

Trump’s most dangerous destruction yet

Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write: During the 2016 presidential campaign, many observers worried about what Donald Trump might do with the U.S. intelligence apparatus. These organizations kill people, after all, with scary flying robots. They have the ability to spy on huge numbers of people all over the world. And they have a history of scandal. So it was reasonable to wonder: What happens when you put organizations such

Trump praises Modi’s record on religious tolerance as violence erupts over India’s treatment of Muslims

The Washington Post reports: As violence erupted in the streets Tuesday over a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims, President Trump defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s record on religious tolerance as he closed out a two-day visit to India that served as a celebration of the bond between two nationalist leaders. Trump avoided any public criticism of his host — whose political biography is also built partly on

Socialist ideas must be decoupled from the nightmare of totalitarian regimes

Masha Gessen writes: There are two ways to misinterpret the comments Bernie Sanders made in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday night. When asked by the host, Anderson Cooper, to explain his long-ago praise of the achievements of Fidel Castro’s regime, in Cuba, Sanders said, “We are very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s unfair to simply say, ‘Everything is bad.’ When Fidel

Music: Roberto Di Gioia — ‘Tatort’