Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Climate change accelerates, bringing the world ‘dangerously close’ to irreversible harm

Henry Fountain reports: More devastating fires in California. Persistent drought in the Southwest. Record flooding in Europe and Africa. A heat wave, of all things, in Greenland. Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season. “Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which on Tuesday issued its annual state of the global climate report, concluding

Carbon dioxide emissions hit record high in 2019, even as coal fades

The New York Times reports: Emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from fossil fuels hit a record high in 2019, researchers said Tuesday, putting countries farther off course from their goal of halting global warming. The new data contained glimmers of good news: Worldwide, industrial emissions are on track to rise 0.6 percent this year, a considerably slower pace than the 1.5 percent increase seen in 2017 and the 2.1 percent

Scholars call Trump’s actions on Ukraine an impeachable abuse of power

The New York Times reports: The House Judiciary Committee opened an epic partisan clash over the impeachment of President Trump on Wednesday at a hearing where Democrats and Republicans offered up dueling legal scholars who disagreed over whether the president’s conduct rose to the constitutional threshold to warrant his removal from office. At the start of a new phase in Democrats’ fast-moving push to impeach Mr. Trump, three law professors

Trump violates diplomacy’s Golden Rule

Nicholas Burns writes: During a testy joint press conference at the NATO summit in London yesterday, President Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, argued openly over how the 70-year-old alliance should handle Russia, the Islamic State, and Turkey. When interacting with allied leaders, Trump’s predecessors have generally followed a golden rule: Disagreements with friends are okay—but only behind the scenes, not in public. Trump, in contrast, seems to

The spiritual disunity of the West

Tom McTague writes: On January 22, 1948, Britain’s foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, got to his feet in the House of Commons to lay the foundations of the Western world’s postwar order. Bevin—a working-class titan, trade-union leader, and fierce critic of Communism—set out the urgent need to “organise the kindred souls of the West” in the face of the emerging totalitarian reality of the Soviet Union. Addressing his fellow members of

How two undocumented housekeepers took on Trump — and revealed his company employed illegal immigrants

The Washington Post reports: It was important for Sandra Diaz to be invisible. Before entering the Trump family villa, she would tie back her hair, pull on latex gloves and step into delicate paper shoe coverings. She knew not to wear makeup or perfume that might leave the faintest trace of her presence. As Donald Trump’s personal maid, Diaz was dealing with a fussy celebrity owner who presided like a

How fake news is influencing the UK election

  William Davies writes: One of the cornerstones of liberal politics, dating back to the Enlightenment, is the idea of a “separation of powers”. This typically refers to the tripartite system of government, separating executive, legislature and judiciary, on which the US constitution was built. But liberalism depends on other varieties of separation, or at least their appearance. It assumes, for instance, that “the economy” is relatively separate from “the

Music: Mark Lettieri — ‘Slant’


Trump is the founders’ worst nightmare

Bob Bauer writes: Donald Trump’s Republican congressional allies are throwing up different defenses against impeachment and hoping that something may sell. They say that he didn’t seek a corrupt political bargain with Ukraine, but that if he did, he failed, and the mere attempt is not impeachable. Or that it is not clear that he did it, because the evidence against him is unreliable “hearsay.” It’s all been very confusing.

Trump’s war against America’s diplomats

Julia Ioffe writes: Last year, just before Halloween, Lewis Lukens, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, visited a pair of English universities where he spoke about the importance of international cooperation, beseeching students not to “swipe left” on the historic “special relationship” between the U.K. and America. The speeches were—according to a copy of the remarks that Lukens provided to GQ—fairly anodyne, reprising all the

Barr disputes key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation

The Washington Post reports: Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horo­witz, is due to release his

Trump loses appeal to block Deutsche Bank, Capital One from handing his financial records to Congress

CNBC reports: A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must hand over years of President Donald Trump’s financial records in compliance with House Democrats’ subpoenas. The ruling in the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals offers another judicial loss for Trump, who has fought off attempts to obtain his financial records, including his tax returns, through multiple lawsuits. The case is likely destined

How McKinsey helped the Trump administration carry out its immigration policies

The New York Times and ProPublica report: Just days after he took office in 2017, President Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered “all legally available resources” to be shifted to border detention facilities, and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers. The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and

Connecting rural America to broadband

Sue Halpern writes: Before Shani Hays began providing tech support for Apple from her home, in McKee, Kentucky, she worked at a prison as a corrections officer assigned to male sex offenders, making nine dollars an hour. After less than a year, she switched to working nights on an assembly line at a car-parts factory, where she felt safer. More recently, Hays, who is fifty-four, was an aide at a

Is there actually science behind ‘dopamine fasting’?

Live Science reports: “Dopamine fasting” may be Silicon Valley’s latest wellness trend — but does this sciency-sounding fad actually have evidence to back it up? During a so-called dopamine fast, extreme practitioners abstain from any experience that brings them pleasure, including but not limited to sex, food, exercise, social media, video games and talking, according to Vox. Some people go so far as to avoid making eye contact, chatting with

Music: Shaun Martin — ‘Madiba’