Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Trump has disgraced America and the soldiers who serve this country

David Ignatius writes: At a gathering last Saturday night of military and intelligence veterans, one topic shrouded the room: President Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish fighters in Syria who had fought and died to help America destroy the Islamic State. “It’s a dagger to the heart to walk away from people who shed blood for us,” one former top CIA official who attended the black-tie dinner told me later. A

Russians take over military bases that Americans abandoned

The New York Times reports: Russia said on Tuesday that its military units were patrolling territory in northern Syria vacated by the Americans following the withdrawal ordered by President Trump, underscoring the sudden loss of United States influence in the eight-year-old Syria war. The Americans had until Monday maintained two military bases in the area, and Russia’s announcement signaled that Moscow, the Syrian government’s most important ally, was moving to

Trump’s impeachment barricade has collapsed

Politico reports: Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed. The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has detailed for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy. And on

The world needs a massive carbon tax in just 10 years to limit climate change, IMF says

The Washington Post reports: A global agreement to make fossil fuel burning more expensive is urgent and the most efficient way of fighting climate change, an International Monetary Fund study found on Thursday. The group found that a global tax of $75 per ton by the year 2030 could limit the planet’s warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), or roughly double what it is now. That would greatly

After Poland, no democracy is safe

Yascha Mounk writes: Democracy was on the ballot yesterday in Poland. It suffered a stinging defeat that will have consequences far beyond the country’s borders. For decades, political scientists regarded Poland as the great success story of the transition from communism to democracy. In no other large country in Central or Eastern Europe had democratic institutions taken such a deep hold, was there such a raucous press, and had civil

How Elizabeth Warren found her voice

The Washington Post reports: Elizabeth Warren hadn’t stepped foot on the University of Houston Law Center campus in nearly 15 years, not since she’d left her first full-time teaching job there. But on a mid-September morning in 1997, Warren, by then a celebrated professor at Harvard Law School, returned to memorialize a man who had played a small but not insignificant role in her teaching career. The five years Warren

Humans, the outlier primates, xenophobic one minute, tolerant the next

By Christian Jarrett Whether they are proposing to build a wall or to exit an international coalition, populist politicians like to pitch themselves as keeping ‘outsiders’ at bay, and it clearly strikes a chord with their home crowd. To understand this phenomenon, evolutionary and social psychologists have offered a simple explanation. Humans, we’re told, have a deep-rooted inclination to mistrust ‘the other’ – people who do not belong to our

Music: Ibrahim Maalouf — ‘S3NS’


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

How the loss of Native American languages affects our understanding of the natural world

Dance is a unique way of passing on cultural stories to a younger generation. Aaron Hawkins/, CC BY-ND By Rosalyn R. LaPier, The University of Montana Alaska has a “linguistic emergency,” according to the Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker. A report warned earlier this year that all of the state’s 20 Native American languages might cease to exist by the end of this century, if the state did not act. American

Leading investment banks pump billions into fossil fuel industry

The Guardian reports: The world’s largest investment banks have provided more than $700bn of financing for the fossil fuel companies most aggressively expanding in new coal, oil and gas projects since the Paris climate change agreement, figures show. The financing has been led by the Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase, which has provided $75bn (£61bn) to companies expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration, according

For microorganisms, cooperation rather than competition, is the key to survival

The University of Copenhagen reports: New microbial research at the Department of Biology reveals that bacteria would rather unite against external threats, such as antibiotics, rather than fight against each other. The report has just been published in the scientific publication ISME Journal. For a number of years the researchers have studied how combinations of bacteria behave together when in a confined area. After investigating many thousands of combinations it

Music: Erik Truffaz Quartet — ‘Reflections’ ft. José James