Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes

The Washington Post reports: The notes, scribbled rapidly on a legal pad, captured the fear inside the White House when President Trump raged over the Russia investigation and decreed he was firing the FBI director who led it: “Is this the beginning of the end?” The angst-filled entry is part of a shorthand diary that chronicled the chaotic days in Trump’s West Wing, a trove that the special counsel report

Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average 19 times a day, study finds

Media Matters reports: Major media outlets failed to rebut President Donald Trump’s misinformation 65% of the time in their tweets about his false or misleading comments, according to a Media Matters review. That means the outlets amplified Trump’s misinformation more than 400 times over the three-week period of the study — a rate of 19 per day. The data shows that news outlets are still failing to grapple with a

Martin Buber’s vision of Zionism as a cultural rather than political movement

Adam Kirsch writes: In 1917, when the Zionists were celebrating Britain’s endorsement of their aims in the Balfour Declaration, Buber objected that he did not envision the redemption of the Jews as something that could be achieved through political victories. Later, after Buber moved to Jerusalem, in 1938, he opposed a Jewish declaration of statehood, arguing that Palestine should become a binational state shared by Arabs and Jews. And, after

A new glimpse of the evolving universe

  HubbleSite reports: Astronomers have put together the largest and most comprehensive “history book” of galaxies into one single image, using 16 years’ worth of observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The deep-sky mosaic, created from nearly 7,500 individual exposures, provides a wide portrait of the distant universe, containing 265,000 galaxies that stretch back through 13.3 billion years of time to just 500 million years after the big bang. The

Music: Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery — ‘Mellow Mood’

 

The United States attorney general is now a defense lawyer for Donald Trump

Benjamin Wittes writes: I was willing to give Bill Barr a chance. Consider me burned. When Barr was nominated, I wrote a cautious piece for this magazine declining to give him “a character reference” and acknowledging “legitimate reasons to be concerned about [his] nomination,” but nonetheless concluding that “I suspect that he is likely as good as we’re going to get. And he might well be good enough. Because most

Pelosi says Barr has committed a crime by lying to Congress

Politico reports: Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress, blasting him in a closed-door meeting and later at a news conference. “We saw [Barr] commit a crime when he answered your question,” Pelosi told Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) during a private caucus meeting Thursday morning, according to two sources present for the gathering. “He lied to Congress. He lied

Democrats threaten Barr with contempt after he no-shows House hearing

The New York Times reports: House Democrats, decrying what they called an erosion of American democracy, threatened on Thursday to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress after he failed to appear at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee and ignored a subpoena deadline to hand over Robert S. Mueller III’s full report and evidence. They seized on a letter from Mr. Mueller to the attorney general

House passes bill to force U.S. to stay in Paris climate agreement

The Washington Post reports: The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday designed to force the United States to stay in the Paris accord, in a rebuke to President Trump, who has promised to withdraw from the landmark climate agreement inked under his predecessor, Barack Obama. The Democratic bill, which passed 231 to 190 in a vote largely along party lines, stands little chance of approval in the GOP-controlled

Saudi and other foreign government leases at Trump World Tower raise more emoluments concerns

Reuters reports: The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause. The 90-story Manhattan building, part of the real estate empire of Donald Trump, had housed diplomats and foreign officials before the property developer became

FBI sent investigator posing as research assistant to meet with Trump aide in 2016

The New York Times reports: The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia? The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with

Being pro-Israel and opposing Israeli racism

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes: [Last month,] at a CNN town hall, Bernie Sanders put to rest the idea that the 2020 Democratic primaries are going to be about Israel. “I am 100% pro Israel,” he said. “Israel has every right in the world to exist, and to exist in peace and security, and not to be subjected to terrorist attacks. But the United States needs to deal not just with Israel

Seeing our expectations

Jordana Cepelewicz writes: Imagine picking up a glass of what you think is apple juice, only to take a sip and discover that it’s actually ginger ale. Even though you usually love the soda, this time it tastes terrible. That’s because context and internal states, including expectation, influence how all animals perceive and process sensory information, explained Alfredo Fontanini, a neurobiologist at Stony Brook University in New York. In this

Music: Wes Montgomery — ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’

 

Why Barr can’t whitewash the Mueller report

Neal K. Katyal writes: Many who watched Attorney General William Barr’s testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which followed the revelation that the special counsel Robert Mueller had expressed misgivings about Mr. Barr’s characterization of his report, are despairing about the rule of law. I am not among them. I think the system is working, and inching, however slowly, toward justice. When it comes to investigating a president,

William Barr’s ‘snitty’ slip-up gives away his game

Aaron Blake writes: Attorney General William P. Barr appeared before Congress on Wednesday having been accused of misleading about and pre-spinning the Mueller report for President Trump. He also came on the heels of a newly reported letter in which Robert S. Mueller III rebuked Barr’s handling of the matter. So it should come as no surprise that he misled about and spun Mueller’s letter, too. The difference this time