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How Beethoven’s ‘mistake’ became one of our most famous tunes

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Without question, the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony contains one of the most famous tunes ever written. Scott Davie The Conversation Since its first performance in 1824, the “Ode to Joy” has been repurposed in endless ways, both reverential and exploitative, from performances at the Berlin Wall to its use in tawdry advertising. This final movement, which combines voices and orchestra, is based on Friedrich Schiller’s 1786 poem extolling a humanist theme of universal joy. Beethoven started sketching ideas ... Read More »

Netanyahu is picking the wrong friends in Europe

TOPSHOT - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Muni World conference in Tel Aviv on February 14, 2018. 
Netanyahu said today his government was "stable" and criticised the police investigation against him after detectives recommended his indictment for corruption, prompting calls for him to resign. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ        (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Siding with Hungary over Brussels undermines Europe’s positive anti-Semitism efforts. Here’s something for Benjamin Netanyahu to consider: The Israeli prime minister should spend less time in Europe praising nationalists like Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán and more time listening to people in Brussels, like European Commission Vice President Frans… William Echikson Politico Look at the recent Hungarian election. During his campaign, Orbán blamed his country’s problems on a Jewish financier, George Soros — and won, big time. After his victory, Orbán spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, ... Read More »

UK to challenge Scotland’s Brexit bill in Supreme Court

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The UK Government will launch an unprecedented legal challenge against Scotland’s emergency Brexit legislation early next week in the country’s highest court. Chris Green The Scotsman The Attorney General and the Advocate General are expected to lodge a formal application over the legality of the Continuity Bill at the Supreme Court on Monday or Tuesday. The legislation, which is designed to plug any gaps in Scottish laws on the day of Brexit, was passed by MSPs at the Scottish Parliament ... Read More »

Labour’s plan for free bus passes for young people would be transformative and life-changing

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Young people have never been unhappier, according to research released by the Prince’s Trust last week. The survey found three out of five young people are regularly stressed about concerns over jobs and money. Liam Young i News One in four said that they felt “hopeless”. Thanks to eight years of failed Tory policy, an entire generation has had to limit itself to getting by rather than getting on. Fortunately, young people have an ally in the Labour leader Jeremy ... Read More »

Secrets of the sea bed: Hunt for Stone Age site in North Sea

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British and Belgian scientists are exploring the sea bed off Norfolk hoping to find evidence that Stone Age people lived there when it was still dry land. Laurence Peter BBC In recent years, some trawler crews and researchers have found prehistoric animal bones and basic stone tools in North Sea sediment. The team on the Belgian ship RV Belgica aims to map the Brown Bank area, a sand ridge about 30km (19 miles) long. Mesolithic people are thought to have ... Read More »

Preventing Boko Haram Abductions of Schoolchildren in Nigeria

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Four years after the abductions in Chibok, and months after more kidnappings in Dapchi, over 100 schoolgirls are still missing. Nigeria must act to make schools safe – beefing up security, learning from past mistakes and, ultimately, working to end the Boko Haram insurgency. What’s new? In February, a faction of the jihadist Boko Haram movement, seized 113 children from Dapchi in north east Nigeria. ICG It later released 107 of them. Five reportedly died; one remains captive. This comes ... Read More »

Politicians need to know that republican sentiment is deeply felt

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Prince Charles, the Royal Tourist, and Kim Beazley, the new Governor of Western Australia, illustrate both the status quo and the potential for constitutional change. John Warhurst Brisbane Times The role of the British monarchy in Australia delivers weird moments like Charles opening the Commonwealth Games flanked by two beaming but straight-jacketed republicans, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier… Every Australian political leader, including Liberal leaders, is now a declared republican. Royal visits inevitably generate publicity around the republic ... Read More »

Lose Newspapers and You Lose Your Democracy

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Without independent journalism, Trump and other charlatans will thrive. Eric Alterman The Nation I had a different column when I woke up on deadline day, but I wrote this one, not because any major news had broken—yes, the FBI raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer—but because our country and our democracy are in the midst of an ongoing emergency, and our embattled media is unable or unwilling to explain it. What inspired my switch was Politico’s publication of ... Read More »

Eight Big Questions on War and Peace for Mike Pompeo

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With a dizzying range of international crises and conflicts facing the U.S., the confirmation hearing of incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday 12 April is a chance to gauge the administration’s future tack. Crisis Group’s U.S. Program Director Stephen Pomper identifies eight critical issues that are likely to dominate Pompeo’s incumbency and… Stephen Pomper ICG When Mike Pompeo sits down on 12 April before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there will be plenty to talk about. Mr Pompeo has ... Read More »

Autism advocacy and research misses the mark if autistic people are left out

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Autistic people have been routinely misunderstood, ignored, and excluded for decades – including from campaigns designed to promote awareness of autism itself. But this is beginning to change. Liz Pellicano The Conversation Autistic self-advocacy organisations and autistic activists have long criticised autism awareness initiatives. The criticism is they too often emphasise the “deficits”, or difficulties of autism, rather than the profound possibilities of autistic lives. In part, this is because those campaigns are designed by non-autistic people, rather than by ... Read More »

Some German medicine for Trump

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As global stock markets have taken a tumble with recent pronouncements of a potential trade war between the U.S. and China, it is clear that investors bank on trade between the world’s two largest economies as vital to global… Alexis Crow The Washington Post As statements from the campaign trail snowball into larger declarations and potentially more tariffs, it is important to take a step back and examine a basic fact that seems to be overlooked. While much of the ... Read More »

Why North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses are Being Ignored

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Despite the reactions of the United States and South Korea to the North’s human-rights abuses, North Koreans are left behind. Min hee Jo, Quinn Marschik The National Interest Human rights form a pillar of most democratic countries’ foreign policies and play a major role in their international relations. When it comes to totalitarian North Korea, which is among the worst human-rights abusers in modern history, the United States and South Korea under the Trump and Moon administrations respectively have employed similar but ... Read More »

Provocative, political, speculative: your guide to the 2018 Stella shortlist

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Six years ago, The Stella Prize burst onto the Australian literary scene with an air of urgency. The A$50,000 award was the progeny of the Stella Count – a campaign highlighting the under-representation of women authors in book reviews and awards lists. Camilla Nelson The Conversation In the years since, the prize has challenged the gendered ways in which we think about “significance” and “seriousness” in literature. Judging a literary award is invariably a contest of aesthetics and politics. And ... Read More »

From Greece to Gettysburg: Edward Everett, American Patriot

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Best known for being upstaged by Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address, Edward Everett was also the first American to receive a PhD and a classicist who became an unlikely spokesperson for Greek revolutionaries. Johanna Hanink History Today It is astonishing to think that when, in 1821, Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire, its first appeal to America for recognition and support was not to the US government, but to a classicist. Yet, after the Greek War of ... Read More »