Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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GOP unwilling to face Trump’s deep toxicity among moderate voters, especially women

The New York Times reports: With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats. Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout. President Trump has brushed aside questions about

If dying could be sweet

When former presidents or other famous people die, the news of such events is always dominated by recollections of their lives. Generally we learn only the most abbreviated details of the circumstances in which life came to an end. The final days of George H W Bush’s life were unusual in that they were shared with his lifelong friend James Baker and other friends and family members who then graciously

Music: Bheki Mseleku — ‘Angola’

 

The insect apocalypse is here. What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?

Brooke Jarvis reports: Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing. It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. But strangely, he wasn’t eating any bugs. For a moment, Riis was

The unexamined inner lives of insects

Lars Chittka and Catherine Wilson write: René Descartes’s dog, Monsieur Grat (‘Mister Scratch’), used to accompany the 17th-century French philosopher on his ruminative walks, and was the object of his fond attention. Yet, for the most part, Descartes did not think very highly of the inner life of nonhuman animals. ‘[T]he reason why animals do not speak as we do is not that they lack the organs but that they

The liar-in-chief promotes a culture of lying

The New York Times reports: When Michael D. Cohen admitted this past week to lying to Congress about a Russian business deal, he said he had testified falsely out of loyalty to President Trump. When he admitted this summer to lying on campaign finance records about payments to cover up a sex scandal during the campaign, he said it was at Mr. Trump’s direction. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, former

CIA intercepts underpin assessment Saudi crown prince targeted Khashoggi

The Wall Street Journal reports: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment. The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia

Cops worked to put serial sex abuser, Jeffrey Epstein, in prison. Prosecutors worked to cut him a break

The Miami Herald reports: Long before #MeToo became the catalyst for a women’s movement about sexual assault — and a decade before the fall of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and U.S. Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — there was Jeffrey Edward Epstein. Epstein, a multimillionaire hedge fund manager whose friends included a constellation of entertainers, politicians, business titans and royalty, for years lured teenage girls to his Palm Beach mansion

Even from jail, sex abuser, Jeffrey Edward Epstein, manipulated the system. His victims were kept in the dark

The Miami Herald reports: Jeffrey Edward Epstein appeared at his sentencing dressed comfortably in a blue blazer, blue shirt, jeans and gray sneakers. His attorney, Jack Goldberger, was at his side. At the end of the 68-minute hearing, the 55-year-old silver-haired financier — accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls — was fingerprinted and handcuffed, just like any other criminal sentenced in Florida. But inmate No. W35755 would not

U.S. taxpayers have so far paid an estimated $83 million for Donald Trump’s golfing expenses

Quartz reports: The US Secret Service has allocated more than $90,000 for golf cart rentals in South Florida this winter, ostensibly to protect president Donald Trump while he hits the links. According to federal spending data, the agency is set to pay a Delray Beach company as much as $92,740 between now and June for an unspecified number of “golf cars.” The firm supplying the carts, Maddox Joines Inc., does

Music: Bheki Mseleku — ‘Celebration’

 

A world stage for unapologetic murderers

Politico reports: The strongmen are rampaging across the world stage with impunity, and they know it. Only moments after European Council President Donald Tusk used a news conference to urge G20 leaders to address Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia’s evident disregard for human rights, video footage of the leaders’ arrivals showed Russian President Vladimir Putin slapping hands in jovial fashion with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as

America’s systemic failings

Julian E. Zelizer writes: The federal government released a devastating report last week documenting the immense economic and human cost that the U.S. will incur as a result of climate change. It warns that the damage to roads alone will add up to $21 billion by the end of the century. In certain parts of the Midwest, farms will produce 75 percent less corn than today, while ocean acidification could

No deal or no Brexit if MPs vote down May plan, says Tusk

The Guardian reports: The European council president, Donald Tusk, has said the UK is prepared to either cancel Brexit or to depart with no deal if MPs vote down the settlement secured by Theresa May with Brussels. Speaking at the G20 summit in Argentina, Tusk said there was no other deal on offer and the only alternatives were remaining in the EU or leave with no deal. “The European Union

Sheryl Sandberg is said to have asked Facebook staff to research George Soros

The New York Times reports: Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook’s second in command was directly involved in the social network’s response to the liberal billionaire. Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, asked for the information in an email to a senior

Meet the spiders that feed milk to their young

The New York Times reports: The act of breast-feeding is so fundamental to being a mammal that we named ourselves after it. (“Mammalis” translates to “of the breasts.”) But over time, scientists have discovered that other animals also produce nutrient-rich elixirs to feed their young, including flamingos, cockroaches and male emperor penguins. The latest addition to the cast of organisms that lactate — or something like it — is a