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Jan 31 2015

The Breakfast Club (In The Navy)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgNot that Marines aren’t part of the Navy but one Band Leader is known primarily for his marches and one is… well, not.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was an active duty officer in the Russian Navy with a lot of time on his hands during his 2 year tours of duty.  He felt his early works too derivative of Beethoven and abandonded many of them, but hated Navy life more than music and took a position at the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he was a teacher of ‘Practical Composition’ and studied far more than he taught in fact abandoning composing for over 3 years.  He kept his job in the Navy as an on shore clerk and frequently taught his classes in uniform.

He was much influenced by his mentor Mily Balakirev and came to be associated with him in a group of five Russian composers known as The Mighty Handful.  The other 3 members were César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin.

They were very representative of the Romantic Nationalist movement and drew much inspiration from folk songs and peasant dances.  Of the group Rimsky-Korsakov was the most mainstream during his lifetime because he wrote in traditional ‘Art Music’ formats like Fugues, Sonatas, Symphonies, and Opera.

They all had a strong mix of what is called ‘Orientalism’ in their music, though it’s really mostly Arabic and Mughal influence, not what we would call oriental today (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and is based on their heavy use of a Pentatonic scale and other self concious musical tropes that were highly artificial and not really representative of any authentic or strictly Russian (or Oriental for that matter) tradition.  Rimsky-Korsakov added elements he had encountered at ports of call in Greece, England, the United States, and South America.

In 1873 he was named Inspector of Naval Bands and retired from active service.  At about this same time (and after his 3 year hiatus) he started re-writing his old pieces to bring their orchestration up to date and make them more mature and finished compositions.  He also published 2 collections of folk songs which he would use to provide musical themes for much of his later work.  By the time he left that position in 1884 he was well established as a composer and professor of music theory.

While considered innovative by some Rimsky-Korsakov was quite rigid and conservative.  He didn’t like Tchaikovsky at all and though like many (but not the rest of the Five) he thought Wagner exciting and fresh where he was merely long winded and bombastic, Rimsky-Korsakov never really warmed to the works of Strauss and Debussy.

He’s best known for things like “The Flight of the Bumblebee” from The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Scheherazade but today I present you Mozart and Salieri, a late work full of his most controversial mannerisms that perpetuates the myth that Salieri poisoned Mozart out of jealousy at his talent.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Obligatories

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History

News

Canada Seeks to Strengthen Spy Agency After Attacks

By IAN AUSTEN, The New York Times

JAN. 30, 2015

The bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons shortly before Mr. Harper spoke, is the second piece of antiterrorism legislation his government has proposed since the October attacks. Some legal experts questioned the constitutionality of its crucial measures, while political opponents accused the prime minister of exploiting those killings in an election year.



Under it, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would change from an agency that only gathers information to one that can actively intervene in what it regards as terrorist actions in Canada and abroad, and, with court approval, disrupt them. While it would not gain powers of arrest, the spy agency would, among other things, be able to cancel travel arrangements, shut down bank accounts, provide fake versions of dangerous materials to plotters and compel access to buildings in order to plant surveillance devices.

The threshold required for agents to arrest and detain people without charge would be greatly reduced. The police now must convince a judge that a person “will commit” an act of terrorism, and the suspect can be held for three days. The bill would change the standard to “may commit” a terrorism-related crime and it would allow such people to be held without charges for up to a week.

Promoting or advocating terrorism, even in general terms, could bring a five-year prison sentence, and the police would be able to seek court orders to remove such material from Canadian websites.

When asked by a reporter if the new measure would inadvertently make criminals out of teenagers who are behaving inappropriately online but who are not terrorists, Mr. Harper visibly stiffened and said, “We cannot tolerate this anymore than we tolerate people who make bomb threats at airports.”

The prime minister acknowledged that the bill’s measures would probably not have prevented the killing of a soldier in Ottawa by a radicalized Muslim in late October. But he suggested that the soldier who was run over by another Islamic radical in Quebec earlier that week might have been stopped under the proposed powers.

Mr. Harper’s platform for this year’s election had been based on the country’s economic performance. But the collapse of oil prices has changed his approach.

Vaccine Critics Turn Defensive Over Measles

By JACK HEALY and MICHAEL PAULSON, The New York Times

JAN. 30, 2015

Their children have been sent home from school. Their families are barred from birthday parties and neighborhood play dates. Online, people call them negligent and criminal. And as officials in 14 states grapple to contain a spreading measles outbreak that began near here at Disneyland, the parents at the heart of America’s anti-vaccine movement are being blamed for incubating an otherwise preventable public-health crisis.

Measles anxiety rippled thousands of miles beyond its center on Friday as officials scrambled to try to contain a wider spread of the highly contagious disease – which America declared vanquished 15 years ago, before a statistically significant number of parents started refusing to vaccinate their children.



The anti-vaccine movement can largely be traced to a 1998 report in a medical journal that suggested a link between vaccines and autism but was later proved fraudulent and retracted. Today, the waves of parents who shun vaccines include some who still believe in the link and some, like the Amish, who have religious objections to vaccines. Then there is a particular subculture of largely wealthy and well-educated families, many living in palmy enclaves around Los Angeles and San Francisco, who are trying to carve out “all-natural” lives for their children.

“Sometimes, I feel like we’re practicing in the 1950s,” said Dr. Eric Ball, a pediatrician in southern Orange County, where some schools report that 50 to 60 percent of their kindergartners are not fully vaccinated and that 20 to 40 percent of parents have sought a personal beliefs exemption to vaccination requirements. “It’s very frustrating. It’s hard to see a kid suffer for something that’s entirely preventable.”

Angela Merkel rules out cancelling any more Greek debt

The Guardian

Saturday 31 January 2015 07.27 EST

“There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece’s debt,” Merkel told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. “I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation.”

Greece’s leftwing Syriza party won last weekend’s election with a pledge to have half the debt written off and has already begun to roll back the austerity measures the creditors had demanded of the previous government.

But Merkel told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper on Saturday that Europe would continue showing solidarity with Greece and other eurozone members struggling with debts “if these countries undertake their own reform and saving efforts”.

Asked whether there would be a debt cut for Greece, she replied that Athens had already been forgiven billions of euros by private creditors and added: “I don’t see a further debt haircut.”

Greece’s finance minister vows to shun officials from troika

Helena Smith, The Guardian

Friday 30 January 2015 13.21 EST

Standing his ground after talks in the capital with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the eurogroup of EU finance ministers, Yanis Varoufakis said Greece would not pursue further negotiations with the body of technocrats that has regularly descended on the country to monitor its economy. Nor would it be rowing back on election-winning pledges by asking for an extension to its €240bn (£180bn) bailout programme. “This platform enabled us to win the confidence of the Greek people,” Varoufakis said, insisting that the logic of austerity had been repudiated by voters when the far-left Syriza party stormed to victory in Sunday’s election.

Greece has lost more than a quarter of its GDP, the worst slump in modern times, as a result of consecutive waves of budget cuts and tax rises enforced at the behest of creditors. Varoufakis and the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, who also met Dijsselbloem on Friday, are adamant that the government will deal only with individual institutions and on a minister-to-minister basis within the EU. They have vowed to shun auditors appointed by the troika of the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“Our first action as a government will not be to reject the rationale of questioning this programme through a request to extend it,” quipped Varoufakis. “We respect institutions but we don’t plan to cooperate with that committee,” he said, referring to auditors who run the rule over Greece’s books on behalf of the three lenders.

An internationally renowned economist, Varoufakis has been an outspoken critic of the austerity measures demanded in exchange for the aid that has bolstered Greece since its economic meltdown.

New NYPD unit armed with ‘machine guns’ criticised by reform advocates

Oliver Laughland, The Guardian

Friday 30 January 2015 15.15 EST

The creation of a new counter-terrorism unit within the NYPD, which will be armed with “machine guns” and tasked with policing protests as well as guarding the city against any terrorist threat, has drawn heavy criticism from legal groups and police reform advocates.

Police commissioner Bill Bratton announced a new 350-officer strong Strategic Response Group (SRG) on Thursday along with a raft of police reforms including equipping more officers with Tasers and body-worn cameras.



He added that the SRG would be “equipped and trained in ways our normal patrol officers are not”, given “extra protective gear, the long rifles, machine guns, as is unfortunately necessary sometimes in these instances”.

The remarks drew criticism from reform advocates and legal groups, who accused Bratton of comparing recent non-violent Black Lives Matter protests in the city with terrorist attacks abroad.

“The comparison of Black Lives Matter and other large protests to violent terrorist attacks is an outrage and an insult to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been marching across the country against racism and for police reform,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund, a legal group representing hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011.

“Thousands have marched in a massive civil rights movement demanding police reform, and the NYPD has decided to respond to the community instead by arming the police with machine guns,” she continued.

When will gamers understand that criticism isn’t censorship?

Ria Jenkins, The Guardian

Friday 30 January 2015 06.48 EST

“It’s both possible, and even necessary, to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects.”

Almost every episode of the YouTube series Tropes Vs Women in Video Games includes a variation on these clear and unambiguous words. Spoken by the cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, they provide a foreword to her discussions of the games industry and its treatment of female characters. The content of these videos shouldn’t really be that controversial; it is Sarkeesian talking to camera, providing a feminist reading of certain aspects of popular games – in the same way a feminist film critic may study popular cinema. And yet, Sarkeesian needs security guards whenever she makes public appearances – that’s if she’s not forced to pull out of speaking engagements due to bomb threats.



Much of the resistance comes from Sarkeesian’s central argument: that the “damsel in distress” trope, a recurring trend in narrative game design, can help “to normalise extremely toxic, patronising and paternalistic attitudes about women.” Within the cauldron of online forums like 8Chan and Reddit, this nuanced proposition is shared, spun and simplified until it becomes a threatening maxim: “games cause sexism”. For some, this then recalls the damaging media scares of the 1990s when games were serially linked with and implicated in violent crimes – mostly by the tabloid press. Sarkeesian is even routinely compared to the anti-games campaigner Jack Thompson who brought several unsuccessful class action lawsuits against the publishers of violent games in the 90s and 2000s.

Seven Reasons Cheap Oil Can’t Stop Renewables Now

by Tom Randall, Bloomberg News

8:51 AM EST January 30, 2015

Oil prices have fallen by more than half since July. Just five years ago, such a plunge in fossil fuels would have put the renewable-energy industry on bankruptcy watch. Today: Meh.

Here are seven reasons why humanity’s transition to cleaner energy won’t be sidetracked by cheap oil.

Citigroup Removed Its Swiss Franc Hedge at the Worst Possible Time

by Julia Verlaine and Dakin Campbell, Bloomberg News

1:33 PM EST January 30, 2015

The bank didn’t renew derivatives trades that would have blunted the impact from Switzerland’s surprise move to let the franc rise, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the strategy. The company’s losses exceeded $200 million in the hours after the announcement, before traders pared the deficit to closer to $150 million, the people said.

The loss at Citigroup, which dethroned Deutsche Bank AG last year as the world’s biggest foreign-exchange dealer, illustrates the perils of unhedged trading in the currency markets. Citigroup has faced particular scrutiny of its ability to manage risks after soured mortgage holdings forced it to draw more taxpayer support than any U.S. bank during the financial crisis.

Citigroup was exposed after selling options on the Swiss franc to customers and failing to renew offsetting hedges, according to one of the people. The options gave buyers the right to collect from a strengthening franc and from higher volatility. While the derivatives desk lost money that day, the spot currency desk turned a profit, one person said.



While the expiration of hedges contributed to the losses, a greater portion came from customer trading, said Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a spokeswoman for New York-based Citigroup.

“As a result of our role in making markets and facilitating trades for clients, Citi experienced a modest loss,” she said in a statement. “Expiration of hedges related to the franc did not drive the shortfalls in our trading activity, all of which was executed under our existing rigorous risk management limits and supervision.”

Pompton Lakes community fears DuPont could shirk toxic cleanup

by Maggy Donaldson, Al Jazeera

January 31, 2015 5:00AM ET

Marsh’s neighborhood in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, was adjacent to a DuPont munitions plant – a village built by the company for employees and their families. Her father worked at the DuPont plant for 28 years.

The manufacturing and waste management practices caused toxic seepage into the soil, air and groundwater of the nearly 600-acre site and its vicinity. More than two decades after the plant shut down, site cleanup efforts have started and stalled, and significant contamination remains in the town, home to about 11,000 people.



And DuPont’s latest move has borough residents especially unnerved. The corporation announced earlier this month that a new spinoff company would assume DuPont’s environmental liabilities for 190 contaminated sites throughout the country, including Pompton Lakes.

The new company, Chemours, will take on nearly $300 million in environmental remediation obligations held by DuPont. In its December SEC filing, the company said that figure could rise several times higher, as “considerable uncertainty exists with respect to these costs.” The estimated cleanup cost in Pompton Lakes is about $87 million, according to that SEC report.

Chemours assured stockholders that the transfer of environmental risk would not negatively affect company finances. Along with the environmental baggage, Chemours will own DuPont’s multibillion-dollar titanium and fluoroproducts units. DuPont leads in global profits for both industries, but the ventures are subject to market volatility and significant competition.

Huge crowds in Madrid as Spanish leftist party Podemos calls ‘March for Change’

Jon Stone, The Independent

Saturday 31 January 2015

Tens of thousands of people have marched in Madrid at a demonstration called by the insurgent Spanish leftist party Podemos.

Podemos, which means ‘we can’, has surged into first place in opinion polls in the few months since it was set up in the summer of 2014.

It is now ahead of the centre-right Popular Party and centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in many opinion polls.

Podemos’s policies include a universal basic income, increased democracy, crackdowns on tax avoidance, and increased public control over the economy.

It also wants to reform the European Union, describing the current euro arrangement as a “trap”, though it has stopped short of calling for Spain to leave the single currency.

Blogs

OK Scheherazade-

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