Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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John Keats’ concept of ‘negative capability’ – or sitting in uncertainty – is needed now more than ever

The gravestone of John Keats in Rome’s ‘non-Catholic’ cemetery. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images By Richard Gunderman, Indiana University When John Keats died 200 years ago, on Feb. 23, 1821, he was just 25 years old. Despite his short life, he’s still considered one of the finest poets in the English language. Yet in addition to masterpieces such as “Ode to a Nightingale” and “To Autumn,” Keats’ legacy includes a remarkable concept:

India targets climate activists with the help of tech giants

Naomi Klein writes: The bank of cameras that camped outside Delhi’s sprawling Tihar jail was the sort of media frenzy you would expect to await a prime minister caught in an embezzlement scandal, or perhaps a Bollywood star caught in the wrong bed. Instead, the cameras were waiting for Disha Ravi, a nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga

What makes Elon Musk and Carl Sagan worlds apart

Shannon Stirone writes: There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it. In the video, Musk is

Trump has captured the Republican party – and that’s great news for Biden

Robert Reich writes: Donald Trump formally anoints himself the head of the Republican party at today’s Conservative Political Action Conference. The Grand Old Party, founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, is now dead. What’s left is a dwindling number of elected officials who have stood up to Trump but are now being purged. Even Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republicans since he broke

As support for party shrinks, GOP focuses on restricting voting

NPR reports: Republican-led legislatures in dozens of states are moving to change election laws in ways that could make it harder to vote. Many proposals explicitly respond to the 2020 election: Lawmakers cite public concerns about election security — concerns generated by disinformation that then-President Donald Trump spread while trying to overturn the election. The Brennan Center, a nonprofit that tracks voting laws, says that 43 states — including key

Litigation tracker: Pending criminal and civil cases against Donald Trump

Karl Mihm, Jacob Apkon and Sruthi Venkatachalam write: On both the criminal and civil litigation fronts, former President Donald Trump faces a bevy of lawsuits and investigations, with more cases likely to follow. Some are civil suits stemming from his pre-presidential business dealings. Others are defamation claims from women he allegedly assaulted. More still are criminal probes and civil suits, scrutinizing his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020

Andrew Cuomo’s bullying has finally caught up to him

Daniel Marans writes: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has had a rough couple of weeks. His decision early in the pandemic to force nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients morphed into a national scandal when it emerged that Cuomo’s administration hid the number of deaths in those facilities. A browbeating phone call to Ron Kim, a Democratic state assemblyman, generated a new round of negative headlines about his well-known

Music: Pino Palladino, Blake Mills & Sam Gendel — ‘Djurkel’

 

Biden tells the world ‘America is back.’ The world isn’t so sure

The Washington Post reports: For President Biden and his circle, a low point in America’s global standing under President Donald Trump came when he blew up a meeting of U.S. allies in 2018, accusing close partners of “robbing” the United States and hurling insults at his Canadian host. So it was no accident that Biden’s push to reclaim American leadership in recent days has pointedly included a starring role for

From ‘aliens’ to ‘noncitizens’ – the Biden administration is proposing to change a legal term to recognize the humanity of non-Americans

If a proposed law passes, this group of immigrants apprehended at the U.S. border near Mission, Texas, would be called ‘noncitizens,’ not ‘aliens.’ Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images By Kevin Johnson, University of California, Davis A profound change has been proposed by the Biden administration for U.S. immigration law. Following up on candidate Joe Biden’s promise of immigration reform legislation, the U.S. Citizenship Act would eliminate

It wasn’t just Khashoggi: A Saudi prince’s brutal drive to crush dissent

The New York Times reports: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign. At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same

After dissident vanishes in Canada, Saudi exiles fear they are now in jeopardy

The Washington Post reports: The mysterious disappearance last month of a Saudi dissident living in Montreal after visiting the kingdom’s embassy in Ottawa has sent fear rippling across Canada’s community of Saudi exiles. While the gravest concerns were allayed when Ahmed Abdullah al-Harbi, 24, reappeared last week in Saudi Arabia, his fellow activists suspect he was coerced to return to the kingdom and are afraid he is providing Saudi authorities

‘Blame Trump’ defense in Capitol riot looks like a long shot

The Associated Press reports: While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who’s now a professor at the

Evolution: lab-grown ‘mini brains’ suggest one mutation might have rewired the human mind

The brains of humans are subtly different from those of Neanderthals. Petr Student/Shutterstock By Itzia Ferrer, Lund University and Per Brattås, Lund University How we humans became what we are today is a question that scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How did we evolve such advanced cognitive abilities, giving rise to complex language, poetry and rocket science? In what way is the modern human brain

Music: Pino Palladino & Blake Mills — ‘Ekuté’

 

The coronavirus is threatening a comeback. Here’s how to stop It

The New York Times reports: Across the United States, and the world, the coronavirus seems to be loosening its stranglehold. The deadly curve of cases, hospitalizations and deaths has yo-yoed before, but never has it plunged so steeply and so fast. Is this it, then? Is this the beginning of the end? After a year of being pummeled by grim statistics and scolded for wanting human contact, many Americans feel