Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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A growing number of Americans are going hungry

The Washington Post reports: More Americans are going hungry now than at any point during the deadly coronavirus pandemic, according to a Post analysis of new federal data — a problem created by an economic downturn that has tightened its grip on millions of Americans and compounded by government relief programs that expired or will terminate at the end of the year. Experts say it is likely that there’s more

Pandemic restrictions riddled with contradictions

Amanda Mull writes: Two weeks ago, I staged a reluctant intervention via Instagram direct message. The subject was a longtime friend, Josh, who had been sharing photos of himself and his fiancé occasionally dining indoors at restaurants since New York City, where we both live, had reopened them in late September. At first, I hadn’t said anything. Preliminary research suggests that when people congregate indoors, an infected person is almost

Pennsylvania slams judge’s ‘overreach’ in certification ruling

Bloomberg reports: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and other state officials assailed a Pittsburgh judge for issuing what they described as an unprecedented order halting additional steps in the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. “Since the birth of our nation nearly 250 years ago, no court has ever issued an order purporting to interfere with a state’s ascertainment of its presidential electors — until today,” state officials said in

Trump races to weaken environmental and worker protections, and implement other last-minute policies

ProPublica reports: Six days after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs

Georgia’s Senator Perdue profited from the pandemic

The Associated Press reports: As the ravages of the novel coronavirus forced millions of people out of work, shuttered businesses and shrank the value of retirement accounts, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged to a three-year low. But for Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, the crisis last March signaled something else: a stock buying opportunity. And for the second time in less than two months, Perdue’s timing was impeccable.

Trump pardons former national security adviser Flynn

Politico reports: Outgoing President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday for lying to FBI agents investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. “It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” the president tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” Trump’s move is an

Where is the dividing line between you and the world

Frédérique de Vignemont and Colin Klein write: Heini Hediger, a noted 20th-century Swiss biologist and zoo director, knew that animals ran away when they felt unsafe. But when he set about designing and building zoos himself, he realised he needed a more precise understanding of how animals behaved when put in proximity to one another. Hediger decided to investigate the flight response systematically, something that no one had done before.

Music: Stuart McCallum — ‘The Wanderer’

 

Yes, the Biden administration should hold Trump accountable

Philip Allen Lacovara writes: After the final tumultuous months of the Nixon presidency, Gerald R. Ford decided to end the “long national nightmare” that was Watergate by pardoning his predecessor, thus sparing Richard M. Nixon from the dock where his senior aides awaited trial. Because I considered Ford’s pardon a serious mistake, I resigned in protest as the counsel to the Watergate special prosecutor. I hope that when President-elect Joe

Why Trump can’t grant himself a pardon

Eric L. Muller writes: As Donald Trump’s tenure in office comes in for its landing, a major question is whether the president—facing questions about liability for offenses including bank and tax fraud—can pardon himself. This might seem like the right operational question, but it is imprecise as a constitutional one. Article II of the Constitution says that the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against

Trump should not be left off the hook

Andrew Weissmann writes: When the Biden administration takes office in 2021, it will face a unique, fraught decision: Should Donald Trump be criminally investigated and prosecuted? Any renewed investigative activity or a criminal prosecution would further divide the country and stoke claims that the Justice Department was merely exacting revenge. An investigation and trial would be a spectacle that would surely consume the administration’s energy. But as painful and hard

Trump stress-tested the election system, and the cracks showed

The New York Times reports: As President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election have steadily disintegrated, the country appears to have escaped a doomsday scenario in the campaign’s epilogue: Since Nov. 3, there have been no tanks in the streets or widespread civil unrest, no brazen intervention by the judiciary or a partisan state legislature. Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s obvious victory has withstood Mr. Trump’s peddling of conspiracy theories

Inside the Trump cult almost no voters consider Biden the legitimate 2020 election winner

CNBC reports: Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Nearly every supporter of President Donald Trump thinks otherwise, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. As the president makes unsubstantiated claims about electoral malfeasance and sows doubts about vote tallies, only 3% of Trump voters surveyed said they accept Biden’s victory as legitimate, the survey released Monday found. A staggering 73% of respondents consider Trump the legitimate winner. Another 24%

Michigan vote shows local Republicans have backbone that national leaders lack

Saundra Torry writes: A handful of once-obscure state officials have shown the country that they have something that too many national Republican leaders lack: A backbone. As they go about what’s usually the routine business of certifying election results, these officials have been thrust into the position of guarding our democracy from President Donald Trump’s schemes to ignore the votes of nearly 80 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden

Facebook struggles with the conflict between public interest and profit

The New York Times reports: In the tense days after the presidential election, a team of Facebook employees presented the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, with an alarming finding: Election-related misinformation was going viral on the site. President Trump was already casting the election as rigged, and stories from right-wing media outlets with false and misleading claims about discarded ballots, miscounted votes and skewed tallies were among the most popular news

Music: Stuart McCallum — ‘Skydancer’