Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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A nation ‘bored of Brexit’ risks sleepwalking into disaster

John Harris writes: Whatever the noise from Westminster, for millions of people Brexit is something that happened two and a half years ago. It has since become synonymous with an indecipherable cacophony about cabinet splits, customs unions and the kind of arcana that might convulse Twitter but leaves most people cold. Clearly, this highlights a huge political failure – not least on the part of the supposed party of opposition

Brexit is tearing Britain apart

Barbara Wesel writes: [F]or British politics, May’s persistence, which has long bordered on stubbornness, is a disaster. The prime minister deserves this defeat in Parliament because she herself is to blame. Brexit has divided and deadlocked her government and British politics in general — and that’s May’s fault, too. From the outset, as head of government, she only had her Conservatives in view. She spoke only to her own hardliners,

Are we living through climate change’s worst-case scenario?

Robinson Meyer writes: The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth. Sure, wind and solar energy kept getting cheaper, and an electric car became America’s best-selling luxury vehicle. But the most important metric of climatic health—the amount of heat-trapping gas entering the atmosphere—got suddenly and shockingly worse. In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great

New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future

The Guardian reports: The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised. It requires huge cuts in red meat-eating in western countries and radical changes across the world. The “planetary health diet” was created by an international commission seeking to draw up guidelines that provide nutritious food to the world’s fast-growing population. At the same time,

Trump is either a Russian agent or the world’s most famous ‘useful idiot’

Garrett M Graff writes: It would be rather embarrassing for Donald Trump at this point if Robert Mueller were to declare that the president isn’t an agent of Russian intelligence. The pattern of his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means

Federal agency ‘improperly’ ignored constitutional concerns before allowing Trump to keep lease to his hotel

The Washington Post reports: The General Services Administration “ignored” concerns that President Trump’s lease on a government-owned building — the one that houses his Trump International Hotel in Washington — might violate the Constitution when it allowed Trump to keep the lease after he took office, according to a new report from the agency’s inspector general. Trump’s company won the lease several years before he became president. After Trump was

Trump’s two business offices on Pennsylvania Ave

The Washington Post reports: Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market. But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration. The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.”

Music: Marcos Valle with Bossacucanova ft. Cris Delanno — ‘Samba de Verão’

 

As May’s Brexit plan is defeated, Corbyn offers little hope for ‘people’s vote’ campaigners

The Guardian reports: Jeremy Corbyn has offered no encouragement to supporters of a second EU referendum after he called for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May’s government and an immediate general election. The Labour leader did not refer to a second referendum in his two Brexit speeches on Tuesday evening, and risked antagonising the party’s pro-remain wing, some of whom want him to back another poll by the

Trump discussed pulling U.S. out of NATO, aides say amid new concerns over Russia

The New York Times reports: There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years. Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States. Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several

Brutal order prevails in the Arab world

Gilbert Achcar writes: The beginning of this new year in the Arab region looks remarkably like that of past year. 2018 started with social turmoil and protests in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and Sudan — even Iran seemed to catch up with the Arab upheaval. One year later, in this beginning of 2019, the social earthquake is still shaking an Arab region characterized by its high density of volcanoes, whether active

Attorney general nominee asserts independence from Trump

Politico reports: Attorney general nominee William Barr professed his independence from President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying that Robert Mueller isn’t involved in a “witch hunt” and that he wouldn’t fire the special counsel without a good reason. In his testimony, Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn’t think Mueller “would be involved in a witch hunt,” a term Trump has used repeatedly to deride the special counsel’s

Luxembourg makes all public transport free

CNN reports: With a population of 602,000, Luxembourg is one of Europe’s smallest countries — yet it suffers from major traffic jams. But that could be about to change. Last month, it announced plans to make all public transport — trains, trams and buses — free from March 2020. The government hopes the move will alleviate heavy congestion and bring environmental benefits, according to Dany Frank, a spokesperson for the

The brain maps out ideas and memories on spacial form of representation

Jordana Cepelewicz writes: We humans have always experienced an odd — and oddly deep — connection between the mental worlds and physical worlds we inhabit, especially when it comes to memory. We’re good at remembering landmarks and settings, and if we give our memories a location for context, hanging on to them becomes easier. To remember long speeches, ancient Greek and Roman orators imagined wandering through “memory palaces” full of

Music: Marcos Valle & Stacey Kent — ‘Passa Por Mim’

 

What’s the difference between Steve King’s racism and Donald Trump’s racism?

Adam Serwer writes: The Republican Party is doing a little soul searching. Last week, Representative Steve King of Iowa drew harsh rebukes from some members of his party for his defenses of white nationalism and white supremacy. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” King told the New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our