Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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North Korea stands by its past assessment of John Bolton

The Washington Post reports: Trump and his top aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, have repeatedly said that the United States wants the “complete verifiable irreversible denuclearization of North Korea” — a high standard that Pyongyang has previously balked at. Bolton, known for his sharply hawkish views, has said that North Korea must commit to a disarmament similar to “Libya 2004.” He was

Noura Erakat: Palestinians aren’t pawns of Hamas

 

Glyphosate shown to disrupt microbiome ‘at safe levels’, study claims

The Guardian reports: A chemical found in the world’s most widely used weedkiller can have disrupting effects on sexual development, genes and beneficial gut bacteria at doses considered safe, according to a wide-ranging pilot study in rats. Glyphosate is the core ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and levels found in the human bloodstream have spiked by more than a 1,000% in the last two decades. The substance was recently relicensed

Music: Eivind Aarset — ‘Surrender’

 

In Gaza, Palestinians feel abandoned to their fate by an indifferent world

Ian Black writes: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are desperate. Not only because they are burying their dead while marking the anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 that saw their grandparents flee or expelled from homes in what is now Israel, but also because their lives under blockade are intolerable, as is the sense that they have been abandoned to their fate by an indifferent world. Israel was their

Iraq’s shock election result may be turning point for Iran

Simon Tisdall writes: The unexpectedly poor showing of Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, in parliamentary elections has dealt a blow to US influence in the country. It was a poor return for American backing for the Baghdad government’s drive to extirpate Islamic State and regain lost territory. But the bigger loser may be Iran, whose allies in Iraq’s Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces were pushed into second

Iran, Saudi Arabia and modern hatreds

Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel write: President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement is likely to add fuel to the fires of sectarianism in the Middle East. From the cataclysmic wars in Syria and Yemen to the volatile assemblages of Iraq and Lebanon, Sunni-Shiite relations are at a breaking point. But the cause of this spike in tensions is recent, not ancient. It is

Ecuador spent millions on spy operation for Julian Assange

The Guardian reports: Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had

Rising incomes result in expanding forests

BBC News reports: Forests are increasing around the world because of rising incomes and an improved sense of national wellbeing say researchers. The authors refute the idea that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the key cause of the spread of trees. As countries become better off, farmers focus on good quality soils and abandon marginal lands, the authors say. As a result, trees are able to rapidly

The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don’t know it yet

An artist’s illustration of a black hole “eating” a star. NASA/JPL-Caltech By Eileen Meyer, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Earlier this year, astronomers stumbled upon a fascinating finding: Thousands of black holes likely exist near the center of our galaxy. The X-ray images that enabled this discovery weren’t from some state-of-the-art new telescope. Nor were they even recently taken – some of the data was collected nearly 20 years ago.

Music: Dhafer Youssef — ‘Sura’

 

Israelis kill 58 Palestinian protesters, over 2,700 wounded, as U.S. opens Jerusalem embassy

Tens of thousands of #Palestinians took to the #Gaza – #Israeli fence in the biggest massive protest in the history of Gaza , our producer in Gaza says more that 80,000 participated in the protest . #GreatReturnMarch pic.twitter.com/GusowmNWQV — Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) May 14, 2018 NPR reports: Tens of thousands of Palestinians are protesting the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli army forces have killed 52

How the idea of return has shaped the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 70 years

Nathan Thrall writes: On the afternoon of May 14, 1948, hours before Britain’s Royal Navy flotilla would sail from Haifa harbor, marking the end of Britain’s mandatory rule over Palestine, leaders of the local Jewish community hastily assembled at the Tel Aviv Museum to hear the head of the Zionist leadership, David Ben-Gurion, declare, “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. …We hereby proclaim the establishment

Seven decades of struggle: How one Palestinian village’s story captures pain of ‘Nakba’

The Observer reports: In the middle part of the last century the inhabitants of the village of Al Walaja, not far from Jerusalem, considered themselves very lucky. Fertile hills, terraced for growing vegetables and fruit, led down to a valley where an Ottoman-era railway line connected Jerusalem with the Mediterranean port of Jaffa. Close to a station, Al Walaja’s farmers always had buyers for their lentils, peppers, and cucumbers. Mohammed

Pastor who said Jews are going to hell led prayer at Jerusalem embassy opening

The New York Times reports: A Dallas evangelical pastor who once said that Jewish people are going to hell and a megachurch televangelist who claimed that Hitler was part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel both played prominent roles on Monday in the opening ceremony of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem. Robert Jeffress, who spoke at President Trump’s private inaugural prayer service and is the pastor of

Donald Trump and Sean Hannity like to talk before bedtime

Olivia Nuzzi writes: More than most politicians, Trump abides by the Groucho Marx law of fraternization. He inherently distrusts anyone who chooses to work for him, seeking outside affirmation as often as possible from as vast and varied a group as he can muster — but Hannity is at the center. “Generally, the feeling is that Sean is the leader of the outside kitchen cabinet,” one White House official said,