Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Trump personally directed effort to silence Stormy Daniels after he took office as president

The Wall Street Journal reports: President Trump personally directed an effort in February to stop Stormy Daniels from publicly describing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, people familiar with the events say. In a phone call, Mr. Trump instructed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to seek a restraining order against the former adult-film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, through a confidential arbitration proceeding, one of the people said.

Trump administration tries to boost corporate profits by exposing Americans to radiation and toxins

The Associated Press reports: The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight. The government’s current, decades-old guidance says that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk. And critics say the proposed change could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers

Under Trump, America’s global image has plummeted

Pew Research Center: America’s global image plummeted following the election of President Donald Trump, amid widespread opposition to his administration’s policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership. Now, as the second anniversary of Trump’s election approaches, a new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that Trump’s international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama’s presidency. The poll

Music: Shai Maestro — ‘The Dream Thief’


Kavanaugh’s problem with alcohol

Jessica Francis Kane writes: Alcoholism runs through my family, and what I saw every time Kavanaugh was questioned about his drinking was achingly familiar. The defiance, the casual references to “liking beer,” the mentioning of a friend who has a real problem, the insistence that he was the “Ralph King” because he has a “delicate stomach,” the turning the question on the questioner—all are tactics of the person with alcoholism

Kavanaugh in 2015: A judge must keep ’emotions in check’ and not be a ‘political partisan’

David Corn writes: At Thursday’s historic and dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh issued a fiery and angry response to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago. An upset Kavanaugh—who alternated between bursts of belligerence and tear-suppressing sniffles—assailed the hearing as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.” He railed against “outside left-wing opposition groups” and claimed

Rachel Mitchell’s former colleague slams her Kavanaugh memo as ‘absolutely disingenuous’

Mother Jones reports: A former colleague of Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to question Christine Blasey Ford, blasted Mitchell for writing a memo casting doubt on Ford’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Matthew Long, a former sex crimes prosecutor who was trained by Mitchell in the Maricopa County, Arizona, attorney’s office, told Mother Jones the memo was “disingenuous” and inconsistent with Mitchell’s own

Armageddon postponed: Syria’s Idlib province gets new lease on life

Christoph Reuter reports: Two weeks before the sudden cease-fire, Abdul Aziz Ajini’s neighbors thought he had gone crazy. While others in the village of Kurin, located in Idlib province, trembled with fear ahead of the major offensive on the immediate horizon, Ajini, a former professor of English literature at a local college, began to rebuild his home, which had been bombed to rubble years ago. As the people of Idlib

How the mafia uses violence to control politics

By Gianmarco Daniele, Bocconi University Italy is not the only country with an organized crime problem. But movies and TV shows like “Scarface,” “The Godfather” and “Gomorrah” have made the Italian mobs – in both their southern Italian and American incarnations – world-famous. Such pop culture portrayals tend to romanticize a dangerous phenomenon that’s all too real for those whose lives it affects. What TV and movies have often gotten

Music: Shai Maestro Trio — ‘Brave Ones’


The FBI will treat Kavanaugh’s lies as ‘a flashing signal to dig deeper’

James Comey writes: F.B.I. agents are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews. Unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary. They will confront people with testimony and other accounts, testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense

Hundreds of migrant children quietly moved to a tent camp on the Texas border

The New York Times reports: In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas. Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been

Human-caused climate change severely exposes the U.S. national parks

Trees have died in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo., as climate change has intensified bark beetle infestations and drought. Patrick Gonzalez, CC BY-ND By Patrick Gonzalez, University of California, Berkeley Human-caused climate change is disrupting ecosystems and people’s lives around the world. It is melting glaciers, increasing wildfires, and shifting vegetation across vast landscapes. These impacts have reached national parks around the world and in the United States. Until now,

Does language spring from the things it describes?

Mark Vernon writes: In conversation at the Hay Festival in Wales this May, the English poet Simon Armitage made an arresting observation. Discussing the nature of language and why it is so good at capturing the experience of being alive, he said: ‘My feeling is that a lot of the language that we use, and the best language for poetry, comes directly out of the land.’ Armitage was placing himself

Music: Shai Maestro Trio — ‘Treelogy’


Why Kavanaugh is unfit for the Supreme Court

Yascha Mounk writes: At this moment of feverishly intense partisanship, it takes a great deal of courage to tiptoe away from your own tribe. Sen. Jeff Flake has not yet announced that he is willing to part for good; in the end, he may yet betray his professed principles and cast his vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. And yet, we should not underestimate how much strength it took for him