Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward







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Recent Posts

Music: Abdullah Ibrahim — ‘Tsakwe / Royal Blue’


The Khashoggi killing had roots in a cutthroat Saudi family feud

David Ignatius writes: Behind the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi lies a power struggle within the Saudi royal family that helped feed the paranoia and recklessness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Eventually, this rage in the royal court led to the death and dismemberment of a Washington Post journalist. The opening scenes of this family feud took place in January 2015 in a VIP hospital suite in Riyadh, as

Russia’s latest attack on the Ukrainians is a warning to the West

Anne Applebaum writes: On Saturday evening, three small Ukrainian naval vessels left the Ukrainian port of Odessa and headed for the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Along the way, they had to pass through the Kerch Strait, a sliver of water that lies between the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula and the Russian mainland. The Ukrainian ships were well within their rights to be there — a similar group of ships went through

Manafort deal collapses: What it means for Mueller

Elie Honig writes: Special counsel Robert Mueller informed a federal judge on Monday that Paul Manafort’s cooperation deal has imploded because of Manafort’s seemingly congenital inability to tell the truth. On the surface, Manafort’s failed cooperation appears to be a setback for Mueller and a bullet dodged for President Donald Trump and administration insiders. But Mueller’s ability to see through Manafort’s lies and rip up the cooperation agreement bespeaks a

How Donald Trump is committing a crime against humanity

In all seriousness, the willful denial and obfuscation by Trump on climate change is a crime against humanity. Billions of people will bear incalculable harm for generations to come. Much, much, much worse than possibly colluding to steal an election. — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) November 26, 2018 The New York Times reports: President Trump had a clear message Monday when asked about the core conclusion of a scientific report issued

‘Why is Donald Trump so afraid of us?’

Bryan Mealer reports from the migrant caravan: María Cáceres’s son Javier, who is 15, has Down’s syndrome. He’s a tall, chunky kid, with short dark hair, a missing front tooth, and eyes that are permanently crossed. María tells me how they fled San Pedro Sula after gang members constantly harassed her family for bribes and “taxes”. When they couldn’t pay, some men burned down their house, then murdered her two

‘These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas.’

The Washington Post reports: A little girl from Honduras stares into the camera, her young features contorted in anguish. She’s barefoot, dusty, and clad only in a diaper and T-shirt. And she’s just had to run from clouds of choking tear gas fired across the border by U.S. agents. A second photograph, which also circulated widely and rapidly on social media, shows an equally anguished woman frantically trying to drag

The chaos behind Trump’s policy of family separation at the border

60 Minutes reports: This past week, a federal judge struck down the president’s latest immigration order. It’s been a chaotic two years on the border as the administration imposed barriers with little consideration of their legality or consequences. The 2017 ban on travelers from Muslim countries was so abrupt it surprised the officers who had to enforce it. Before the midterm elections, President Trump ordered thousands of troops to Texas

Behind Ukraine-Russia naval tensions, a more brutal economic war

Christian Science Monitor reports: Russia’s conflict with Ukraine is back in the headlines after Russia seized three Ukrainian military vessels and their crews near Crimea, triggering a declaration of martial law in Ukraine and a fresh escalation of tensions between the two formerly friendly neighbors. But very little attention has been paid to the economic slugfest between the two, which has caused far more destruction than Russia’s sanctions war with

The Syrian conflict’s next front

Sara Kayyali writes: As hostilities in Syria wind down, the war is moving to another front – homecoming for refugees, property rights, and reconstruction. While less violent, it will determine the future for millions of Syrians. The Russian government has been leading a concerted effort to lobby European and other countries to support returning refugees with reconstruction funding. And the Syrian government is calling for refugees to come home and

White House counsel’s office unprepared as Democrats soon take control of the House

Politico reports: The White House counsel’s office is down to a skeletal staff, potentially leaving it unprepared to deal with a flood of subpoenas for documents and witnesses when Democrats take control of the House. The office has been without a permanent leader since White House senior attorney Don McGahn left the administration in mid-October. His replacement, Pat Cipollone, is caught up in an extended background check that’s prevented him

The West begins to stir over China’s massive abuse of Muslims

The Economist reports: Few governments send ambassadors to China to be brave about human rights. Envoys to Beijing are scholars of realism, their fine minds applied to a delicate task: managing profitable relations with a deep-pocketed, unapologetic dictatorship. It is, therefore, a big deal that at least 14 ambassadors from Western countries, led by Canada, have come together to confront China over its mass detentions of Muslims in the far-western

Mueller report will be ‘devastating’ for Trump, says Alan Dershowitz

ABC News reports: Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of President Donald Trump, said special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will be “devastating” for the president. The Harvard Law professor emeritus told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he believes the president will have to navigate the political impact of a potentially damning final report from the special counsel. “I think the report is going to be devastating to the president

More Republicans challenge Trump on defense of Saudi crown prince

The Washington Post reports: Congressional Republicans continued to line up this weekend to criticize President Trump over his defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA believes ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “I disagree with the president’s assessment,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen . . . . The intelligence I’ve seen suggests that

Social media promotes violent right-wing extremism in the U.S.

An editorial in the New York Times says: Social media has played a key role in the recent rise of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, including three recent incidents — one in which a man was accused of sending mail bombs to critics of the president, another in which a man shot dead two African-Americans in a Kroger’s grocery store in Kentucky, and a third in which a

How loneliness is tearing America apart

Arthur C. Brooks writes: America is suffering an epidemic of loneliness. According to a recent large-scale survey from the health care provider Cigna, most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness and a lack of significance in their relationships. Nearly half say they sometimes or always feel alone or “left out.” Thirteen percent of Americans say that zero people know them well. The survey, which charts social isolation using a