Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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The world has a third pole — and it’s melting quickly

The Observer reports: Many moons ago in Tibet, the Second Buddha transformed a fierce nyen (a malevolent mountain demon) into a neri (the holiest protective warrior god) called Khawa Karpo, who took up residence in the sacred mountain bearing his name. Khawa Karpo is the tallest of the Meili mountain range, piercing the sky at 6,740 metres (22,112ft) above sea level. Local Tibetan communities believe that conquering Khawa Karpo is

Lifestyle changes aren’t enough to save the planet. Here’s what could

Michael E Mann writes: Everyone faces choices every day that carry a climate cost. Do we turn the lights on in the morning, or is the light of daybreak sufficient for finding matching socks? Do we feast on bacon and eggs for breakfast, or will a bowl of oatmeal suffice? There is a lot of talk these days about the need to lead lower-carbon lifestyles. There is also a lot

Trump is seriously, frighteningly unstable – the world is in danger

Robert Reich writes: In retrospect, what’s most disturbing about “Sharpiegate” isn’t Trump’s clumsy effort to doctor a National Weather Service map or even his brazen move to get the same agency to lie on his behalf. It’s how utterly petty his motive was. We’ve had presidents trying to cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such

Attack on Saudi oil sites raises risks amid U.S.-Iran tension

The Associated Press reports: A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom’s oil production threatened Sunday to fuel a regional crisis, as Iran denied U.S. allegations it launched the assault and tensions remained high over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal. Iran called the U.S. claims “maximum lies,” while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike U.S. military

A ‘culture of cruelty’ in the Border Patrol

The New York Times reports: The Border Patrol, whose agents have gone from having one of the most obscure jobs in law enforcement to one of the most hated, is suffering a crisis in both mission and morale. Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view

The miseducation of Brett Kavanaugh

Hanna Rosin writes: Nearly a year after the fateful Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have become martyrs in separate and hostile galaxies — one for #believeallwomen and the other for those who believe Democrats will use any means necessary to take down good and honorable men. So there is a weird satisfaction in rewinding the story more than 30 years, back to the moment when

How rich donors like Epstein (and others) undermine science

Adam Rogers writes: Imagine a billionaire with an abiding interest in science, but also in having sex with young girls. He’s famous, our billionaire, and he associates with what used to be called boldface names, some of whom know—they’d have to, right?—about his habits. But they let it go. And eventually the billionaire’s name gets associated with all sorts of do-gooderish public endeavors, before the truth gets told—mostly after the

Music: Nils Petter Molvær — ‘Alone in the Bathtub’


‘We have a once-in-century chance’: Naomi Klein on how we can fight the climate crisis

Naomi Klein writes: On a Friday in mid-March, they streamed out of schools in little rivulets, burbling with excitement and defiance at an act of truancy. The little streams emptied on to grand avenues and boulevards, where they combined with other flows of chanting children and teens. Soon the rivulets were rushing rivers: 100,000 bodies in Milan, 40,000 in Paris, 150,000 in Montreal. Cardboard signs bobbed above the surf of

What happens if Trump won’t step down?

Dahlia Lithwick writes: In February, Georgetown Law professor Josh Geltzer began to ponder aloud what would happen if President Donald Trump refused to leave office were he to be defeated in 2020. It sounded far-fetched, but Geltzer isn’t a conspiracy theorist. Actually, he served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and, prior to that, as deputy legal adviser to the NSC and counsel to the assistant

Schiff accuses top intel official of illegally withholding ‘urgent’ whistleblower complaint

Politico reports: The nation’s top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday. Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community’s inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and

I left Russia to escape Putin’s assault on reason. Now I fear the UK is on the same path

Peter Pomerantsev writes: Nothing is true and everything is possible. That was my one-line attempt to sum up the politics and propaganda that enveloped Russia at the start of the 21st century. It was a world where politicians no longer cared whether they were caught lying; where old ideologies were dead and conspiracy thinking had become the new way to explain the world; where all the old political categories (socialist

Freedom (that others lack), American fast food, and internet access — Russia offers everything Edward Snowden wants

In an interview with The Guardian: Snowden said it helped that Russia viewed him as useful publicity. “A country whose political troubles are legendary, whose problems with human rights we hear about every single day has finally, somehow, managed to have one bright spot on their human rights record … Why would they give that up?” He toyed with calling his memoirs The New Forever or Welcome to Forever before

Where our minds go when words let us down

Kenneth S. Kosik writes: The drive to express ourselves can be joined with the sense that we cannot quite express ourselves fully, that language is inherently the limiting factor. Why should that be? Via a complex circuitry, the brain delivers motivation to the body as a motor command to execute its will. One view is the brain is busy making predictions about the world such as what we will see

Can physicists rewrite the origin story of the universe?

Jess Romeo writes: During a 2015 conference on theoretical cosmology at Princeton University, Roger Penrose, a pioneer in the field of mathematical physics, was asked to speak on a panel about the origin of the universe. For decades, the leading theory had been that, during roughly the first trillionth of a trillionth of a nanosecond following the Big Bang, there was a single period of extremely rapid expansion, known as

Music: Lars Danielsson — ‘Gimbri Heart’