Monthly Archives: August 2020

Election 2020: what a Biden victory could mean for America | The Economist

The Economist

Aug 7, 2020

Joe Biden currently stands a good chance of winning the presidency. He is a lifelong centrist, but could turn out to be the most ambitious Democratic president in generations.
Read more here:
Find The Economist’s most recent coverage of the 2020 US election here:

“20 Million Cases of COVID” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom (WHO) (Geneva, 10 August 2020)

United Nations

Aug 11, 2020

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said that this week the number of registered cases of COVID-19 will reach 20 million and 750,000 deaths, adding that leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures.

The lesson of the pandemic? The U.S. needs universal healthcare

Democracy Now!

Aug 11, 2020

How did the coronavirus defeat the world’s most powerful country? Ed Yong, science writer for The Atlantic, says the Trump administration’s “devastatingly inept response” and preexisting gaps in the social safety net combined to make the U.S. the worst-hit country on the planet, accounting for a quarter of cases despite comprising less than 5% of the world’s population. Yong says the most glaring problem is the lack of healthcare access, adding that “universal healthcare is a thing we have to fight for” in order to deal with the coronavirus as well as future pandemics.

How the Pandemic Defeated America: Ed Yong on How COVID-19 Humiliated Planet’s Most Powerful Nation

Democracy Now!   Aug 11, 2020

As the world passes a grim milestone of 20 million coronavirus cases, we look at how the pandemic humbled and humiliated the world’s most powerful country. Over a quarter of the confirmed infections and deaths have been in the United States, which has less than 5% of the world’s population. Ed Yong, a science writer at The Atlantic who has been covering the pandemic extensively since March, says existing gaps in the U.S. social safety net and the Trump administration’s “devastatingly inept response” made for a deadly combination.

Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate in US presidential election

FRANCE 24 English

Published on Aug 11, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday tapped Senator Kamala Harris of California as his choice for vice president, his campaign told supporters in a text message

Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2. I Maestoso | Arthur Rubinstein


Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto Nº 2 Op. 21 in F minor, 1829. London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn Arthur Rubinstein, pianist, 1975.

I Maestoso
II Larghetto
III Allegro Vivace
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If the first movement bears the stamp of the “stile brillante”, the second shows the influence of Italian opera. The piano style of not only Chopin, but also his contemporaries, owes much to the bel canto operas of composers like Rossini and Bellini, as well as to the leading singers of the day. The delicate melodic embroidery in the outer section is unmistakably operatic; so, too, is the arioso-like piano writing, over trembling strings, in the middle section. Chopin confessed in a letter, that the second movement had been inspired by his secret passion for a younger singer at the Warsaw Conservatory, with whom he had fallen in love and dreamed of for six months without once speaking to her. This larghetto remained one of his favourites, and excited the admiration of Schumann and Liszt.

The slow movements find Frédéric Chopin at his most generously rhapsodic, the pianist diving off on sublime flights of fantasy while the orquestra offer a glowing curtain of sound.

In the third movement, there is another unmistakable influence. We hear the rhythm of the Polish mazurka, though in a brilliantly stylized setting. Once again, the piano, both in its poetic and virtuosic veins, dominate the music, with the orchestra largely relegated to the roles of cushion and punctuation mark.
In the finale, the violins are at one point instructed to play col legno (with the wood of the bow).

Kevin Bazzan states this: “Chopin’s concertos — indeed, all of his works in classical forms — have always suffered from comparisons with those of Mozart and Beethoven. It is an old cliché that the larger classical forms he had studied at the Warsaw Conservatory were incompatible with his imagination. As early as 1852, writers such as Liszt remarked that Chopin “did violence to his genius every time he sought to fetter it by rules.” But he was not trying to re-interpret the classical concerto. He was working in a different tradition called stile brillante, made fashionable by such virtuoso pianist-composers as Weber and Hummel. Chopin borrowed from their example a conception of the concerto as a loosely organized showcase for a virtuoso soloist, as opposed to a more balanced, cohesive and densely argued musical drama in the classical vein.
There is no denying that Chopin’s concertos betray a youthful want of formal sophistication but, as one observer wrote, they “linger in the memory for the poetry of their detail rather than the strength of their structures.” Those details are so bold and colourful, so imaginative and personal, that the concertos have become the only large-scale early works of Chopin to retain a place in the repertoire.

It was simple enough. As Lauritz Melchior was the greatest of heldentenors, Rubinstein was the preeminent “heldenpianist.” Boasting both an enormous dynamic range and phenomenal stamina, he could play not only long seasons but heavy heroic programs (e.g., both Brahms concertos at one sitting). He was renowned for his deep full tone, his cataclysmic volume, his velvet cantilenas, his huge declamatory octaves. Rubinstein came honestly by it all: after a youthful brush with repetitive stress syndrome, he adopted a temperate practice regimen and developed one of the most efficient virtuoso mechanisms in the history of his instrument. Its foundation was a centered posture, participation of the entire torso, and exceptional lateral mobility; working strictly with moderate-action instruments, he could dig deep into the keys.

It’s significant, then, that the end came for him not from fading fingers but failing eyesight–macular degeneration. His frontal vision suddenly went, and it was enough to take the edge off his accuracy and reliability. He prudently retired. At age 89.

Luckily the present video (three Rubinstein blockbusters–the Grieg concerto, Chopin’s Concerto No. 2, Saint-Saens’ Concerto No. 2) had been taped some months earlier on April 22-24, 1975.

Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto N.º 2 Op. 21 em Fá menor

Africa’s Discovery of Europe: Northrup, David: Books

This groundbreaking book examines the full range of African-European encounters from an African perspective rather than from the customary European one. By featuring vivid life stories of individual Africans and drawing upon their many recorded sentiments, author David Northrup presents African perspectives that persuasively challenge stereotypes about African-European relations as they unfolded in Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic world between 1450 and 1850.

Africa’s Discovery of Europe features thematically organized chapters that explore first impressions, religion and politics, commerce and culture, imported goods and technology, the Middle Passage, and Africans in Europe. In addition, Northrup offers a thoughtful examination of Africans’ relations–intellectual, commercial, cultural, and sexual–with Europeans, tracing how the patterns of behavior that emerged from these encounters shaped pre-colonial Africa. The book concludes with an examination of the roles of race, class, and culture in early modern times, pointing out which themes in Africa’s continuing discovery of Europe after 1850 were similar to earlier patterns, and why other themes were different. Brief, inexpensive, and accessible, the third edition of Africa’s Discovery of Europe offers an insightful look at the tumultuous and enduring relations between these two continents.

Seven Myths of Africa in World History (Myths of History: A Hackett Series): Northrup, David, Andrea, Alfred J., Holt, Andrew

“Northrup’s highly accessible book breaks through the most common barriers that readers encounter in studying African history. Each chapter takes on a common myth about Africa and explains both the sources of the myth and the research that debunks it. These provocative chapters will promote lively discussions among readers while deepening their understanding of African and world history. The book is strengthened by its incorporation of actors and issues representing the African diaspora and African Americans in particular.”
—Rebecca Shumway, College of Charleston

Top U.S. & World Headlines — August 10, 2020

Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 10, 2020

Millions Facing Eviction and Joblessness Get No Immediate Help from Trump’s New Executive Orders

Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 10, 2020

President Trump’s latest executive orders to extend unemployment benefits and defer payroll taxes may be unconstitutional. Democrats had hoped to extend a program to give unemployed workers an additional $600 in weekly benefits and to extend a federal moratorium protecting some renters from evictions, but failed to overcome opposition from Republican lawmakers. Under Trump’s order, unemployed workers would continue receiving an additional $400 a week, but only once states put up a quarter of the money and set up a new system to distribute the payments — a process that could take months. Trump also signed an executive order on evictions that does not extend the federal moratorium on evictions, and ordered a deferral of payroll taxes that will still need to be paid back next year, after the election. Trump’s executive orders amount to “political theater,” says David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect, but could “set a really dangerous precedent” for the separation of powers in the future.