Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals and terrorists

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports: Secret U.S. government documents reveal that JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and other big banks have defied money laundering crackdowns by moving staggering sums of illicit cash for shadowy characters and criminal networks that have spread chaos and undermined democracy around the world. The records show that five global banks — JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon —

In a big swing, Trump loses ground with white voters

Politico reports: Donald Trump is making modest inroads with Latinos. Polls suggest he’s pulling slightly more Black support than in 2016. But Trump is tilting at the margins with those groups. His bigger problem is the demographic that sent him to the White House — white voters, whose embrace of Trump appears to be slipping in critical, predominantly white swing states. In Minnesota, where the contest between Trump and Joe

Biden has $466 million in the bank, and a huge financial edge on Trump

The New York Times reports: Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign said on Sunday that it entered September with $466 million in the bank together with the Democratic Party, providing Mr. Biden a vast financial advantage of about $141 million over President Trump heading into the intense final stretch of the campaign. The money edge is a complete reversal from this spring, when Mr. Biden emerged as the Democratic nominee and

Trump joins dictators and demagogues in touting ‘patriotic education’

Ishaan Tharoor writes: It was a vintage scene of Trumpist agitprop. Last week, President Trump stood before original copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and declared a new national campaign to promote “patriotic education.” He tapped into a long-standing grievance within America’s right wing over supposed “left-wing indoctrination” in the country’s schools and universities, linking the unrest of this past summer to an education system that overly

Justice Department brands New York City, Portland, and Seattle as ‘anarchist jurisdictions’

New York Post reports: New York City was among three cities labeled “anarchist jurisdictions” by the Justice Department on Sunday and targeted to lose federal money for failing to control protesters and defunding cops, The Post has learned. Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., were the other two cities on the list, which was approved by US Attorney General William Barr. “When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement

CDC removed new guidance about airborne coronavirus transmission days after posting it

BuzzFeed News reports: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed its new guidance for stopping airborne coronavirus transmission on Monday, sparking more concerns that the Trump administration may be interfering with its health advice. The agency’s new “How COVID-19 Spreads” guidance, initially posted on Friday, acknowledged that the virus can spread by aerosol droplets released when infected people breathe, talk, and sing, spreading infectious particles beyond the 6-foot

The inside story of why the Mueller investigation failed

George Packer writes: Andrew Weissmann was one of Robert Mueller’s top deputies in the special counsel’s investigation of the 2016 election, and he’s about to publish the first insider account, called Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation. The title comes from an adapted quote by the philosopher John Locke that’s inscribed on the façade of the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C.: “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” Weissmann offers

Music: Jaga Jazzist — ‘Shinkansen’

 

Fear of fascism is no longer alarmist

Francis Wilkinson writes: Americans who think the coming election is their last chance to save the republic from authoritarianism — Americans, until recently, like me — are almost certainly wrong. Authoritarianism is already here, and what Americans will decide in November is whether it will grow more deeply entrenched. According to a new report, the U.S. is undergoing “substantial autocratization” — so much so that only one in five similarly

Majority of Americans, including many Republicans, say wait for election to replace Ginsburg

Reuters reports: A majority of Americans, including many Republicans, want the winner of the November presidential election to name a successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday. The national opinion poll, conducted Sept. 19-20 after Ginsburg’s death was announced, suggests that many Americans object to President Donald Trump’s plan, backed by many Senate Republicans, to push through another lifetime

Fixating on the open Supreme Court seat will provoke a culture war

Anne Applebaum writes: I know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s empty Supreme Court seat has provoked an epic, long-awaited clash between Democrats and Republicans, that the very principle of judicial independence hangs dangerously in the balance. I realize that the social-media wave cannot be stopped, that the talking heads cannot be silenced, and that Democrats in Congress must fight this nomination. Nevertheless, let me try to convince anyone who will listen:

For Mitch McConnell keeping his Senate majority matters more than the Supreme Court

Jane Mayer writes: As the Democrats weigh their options about how to stop Mitch McConnell from filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, one tactic that they should forget about immediately is arguing that it would be hypocritical of McConnell to jam in a new Justice so close to an election. Obviously, it nakedly is, given that Ginsburg died forty-five days before the 2020 election, and this was McConnell’s rationale

In ‘power grab,’ Health Secretary Azar asserts authority over FDA

The New York Times reports: In a stunning declaration of authority, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, this week barred the nation’s health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, from signing any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines. Going forward, Mr. Azar wrote in a Sept. 15 memorandum obtained by The New York Times, such power

The supply of disinformation will soon be infinite

Renée DiResta writes: Someday soon, the reading public will miss the days when a bit of detective work could identify completely fictitious authors. Consider the case of “Alice Donovan.” In 2016, a freelance writer by that name emailed the editors of CounterPunch, a left-leaning independent media site, to pitch a story. Her Twitter profile identified her as a journalist. Over a period of 18 months, Donovan pitched CounterPunch regularly; the

Politics is visceral

Manos Tsakiris writes: We live in bodies that feel increasingly unsafe. Pandemics, climate change, sexual assault, systemic racism, the pressures of gig-economy jobs, the crisis of liberal democracy – these phenomena create feelings of vulnerability that are, quite literally, visceral. They’re visceral in the sense that emotional experience arises from how our physiological organs – from our guts and lungs to our hearts and hormonal systems – respond to an

Music: Jaga Jazzist — ‘The Shrine’