Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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What ISIS did to my village

Hassan Hassan writes: When I was a teenager, in the 1990s, I spent my summer breaks herding sheep from sunrise to sunset. My daily routine was nearly always the same. I released the sheep from the barn, steered them along the village’s main road, grabbed a watermelon from a shop to add to my packed lunch, and turned to the desert. Once I left the populated section of the village,

In the Middle East, a new military crescent is in the making

Marwan Kabalan writes: With the breakout of the Arab Spring more than eight years ago, pro-democracy activists in the Arab world and elsewhere were hopeful that the tide of democratic change might have finally reached its shores. Many who had criticised the likes of American scholar Samuel Huntington, who saw democracy as an alien concept to Middle Eastern culture, felt vindicated. The euphoria of the Arab Spring did not last

My England is in a mess. Scotland’s case for independence is stronger than ever

John Harris writes: If the three-year saga of Brexit tells us anything, it is that the United Kingdom is irretrievably breaking apart. Beyond the glaring fact that Scottish and English politics now have almost nothing in common, there is a deep sense that Brexit is testing some of the UK’s already-fragile institutions to destruction. Even if a Labour government at Westminster succeeded in calming things down by getting to grips

Music: Robert Wyatt — ‘Sea Song’

 

The rise of the climate vote bloc

Anna Taylor writes: April has been quite the month for climate action. The organisation I co-founded, the UK Student Climate Network, held its third Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstrations just two weeks ago which for the third month in succession saw tens of thousands take to the streets across the UK demanding climate justice and a Green New Deal. Extinction Rebellion also kicked off a huge act of extended nonviolent

Corbyn launches bid to declare UK climate emergency

The Observer reports: Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency as confidential documents show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects. Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming,

Spare me your thoughts and prayers. The U.S. has betrayed its Jews

Jane Eisner writes: The United States Constitution, and the government sworn to uphold it, is not protecting its citizens. It did not protect Lori Gilbert Kaye, the 60-year-old woman with a kind smile and a generous disposition, who was murdered by an anti-Semitic terrorist as she prayed in synagogue yesterday, the final day of Passover. It did not protect the others who were injured in this horrific hate crime, including

Ignore the Poway Synagogue shooter’s manifesto: Pay attention to 8chan’s /pol/ board

Robert Evans writes: On April 27, 2019, at around 11:30 a.m. local time, a young man with a semi-automatic rifle walked into the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California. He opened fire, killing one worshipper and wounding three others. In the hours since the shooting, a manifesto, believed to be written by the shooter, began circulating online. Evidence has also surfaced that, like the Christchurch Mosque shooter, this killer

If Trump weren’t president, he would already be indicted

  Mimi Rocah and Renato Mariotti write: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is 448 pages long, full of shocking conduct and detail that has prompted non-stop discussion since it was released last week. But one thing seems indisputable from our perspective as former federal prosecutors looking at the evidence laid out by the report: If Donald Trump were not now president he would have been indicted on multiple counts of

The war in Syria is now an economic one

Bloomberg reports: The impact on Damascus, where the war ended a year ago with the defeat of the fighters in towns around it, is staggering. The city usually throbs with life in the spring, carts overflowing with fresh green almonds, Damascenes smoking shisha in outdoor cafes and families enjoying picnics. It felt lifeless on a visit this month. Vendors in the city’s old bazaar complain of miserable sales. Pubs that

Music: Robert Wyatt — ‘Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road’

 

The gray race for the White House

Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: “Joe Biden. He understands what’s happening today.” The newspaper ad ran a few weeks before the 1972 Senate election in Delaware, when the upstart 29-year-old was challenging a 63-year-old incumbent. The ad, which appeared in The News Journal, Delaware’s major newspaper, happened to run under a column that described Biden’s newly combative strategy in the closing days of the race. Biden’s approach then, according to the columnist,

Donald Trump’s role in the latest synagogue shooting

While Jews were shot for being Jewish by an armed white man this weekend, @realDonaldTrump — who has emboldened white nationalists and incited white nationalist violence — spoke at the @NRA convention to advocate for more guns for more white men. He is to blame. https://t.co/hUyqLXaKuh — Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) April 27, 2019 NBC reports: Multiple law enforcement sources confirm to NBC News that the suspect in the Poway synagogue

Mueller report exposes ‘Miners for Trump’ as a Russian troll effort

Joe Romm writes: In October 2016, Pennsylvania social media accounts promoted “Miners for Trump” rallies around the state with a picture of a gritty coal miner. The rallies coincided with a series of presidential campaign rallies by then-candidate Donald Trump. It turns out the social media promotions were not created by U.S. coal miners, however. Instead, they were the work of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm,

Russian hackers were ‘in a position’ to alter Florida voter rolls, Rubio confirms

The New York Times reports: It was the day before the 2016 presidential election, and at the Volusia County elections office, near Florida’s Space Coast, workers were so busy that they had fallen behind on their correspondence. Lisa Lewis, the supervisor of elections, stumbled on an important email sent to her and three others in the office, by then a week old, that appeared to be from VR Systems, the

U.S.-led coalition killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa ‘death trap’

Amnesty International reports: The US-led military Coalition must end almost two years of denial about the massive civilian death toll and destruction it unleashed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Amnesty International and Airwars said today as they launched a new data project on the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS). The interactive website, Rhetoric versus Reality: How the ‘most precise air campaign in history’