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Beethoven: Sparks of Joy!

Beethoven: Spark of Joy – HIs Mass in C, God’s Grace Comes to Those Who Act for Posterity

Prince Nikolaus Esterházy II, the long-time patron of Franz Josef Haydn, commissioned a new mass setting each year for his wife’s name-day. In 1807, the commission fell to Beethoven, who, in his own words, “treated the text in a manner in which it has rarely been treated”. The great masses of Bach and Mozart are structured somewhat like operas, whereas Beethoven’s mass is powerfully symphonic, with the soloists treated as a unified quartet, inextricably interwoven with the choir. Esterhazy was not pleased, but the next performance, at Prince Lichnowsky’s residence, received a more positive response. After its publication in 1813, one commentator wrote that the mass conveyed “a childlike optimism that in its very purity devoutly trusts in God’s grace, and appeals to him as a father who desires the best for his children and hears their prayers”.
On November 18, 2018, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus performed Beethoven’s Mass in C at the beautiful St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]


Friday Questions: How Can We Organize People to Recognize the Common Interests of Mankind?

As we are dashing headlong into a systemic economic collapse and a danger of annihilation through nuclear war, how can we organize our fellow citizens to recognize the common interests we share with citizens of all nations?  In today’s Update, we hear the words of President John F. Kennedy from June 1963, shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when he presented an approach to peace through dialogue, not a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”  JFK called on us to “direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved….For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we inhabit this small planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s futures.  And we are all mortal.”
As you reflect on these words, remember to register for the Schiller Institute’s online conference on Saturday May 8, at 9 AM, where such themes will be the central topic. 


NYT Opinion Writer: Biden’s Taiwan Policy “Reckless,” Threatens “Catastrophic War”

May 6 (EIRNS)–Under the title: “Biden’s Taiwan Policy Is Truly, Deeply Reckless,” the New York Times Opinion writer Peter Beinart warned on May 5 that the Administration’s policy is bringing us very close to war, and quotes experts that the war would become nuclear. He also quotes military experts that the U.S. could not win such a war — simply driving home that such a war would likely become nuclear by a desperate and crazy U.S. leadership.

Beinart writes: “Like the Trump administration before it, the Biden team is now progressively chipping away” at the One China policy, which has prevented war over these past decades. 

He notes: “Last summer, Democrats removed the phrase `one China’ from their platform. In January, Mr. Biden became the first American president since 1978 to host Taiwan’s envoy at his inauguration. In April, his administration announced it was easing decades-old limitations on official U.S. contacts with the Taiwanese government. These policies are increasing the odds of a catastrophic war. The more the United States and Taiwan formally close the door on reunification, the more likely Beijing is to seek reunification by force.”

Beinart quotes Harvard’s Graham Allison: “No Chinese national security official I have ever met, and no U.S. official who has examined the situation, doubts that China would choose war over losing territory it considers vital to its national interest.” He quotes Fareed Zakaria: “The Pentagon has reportedly enacted 18 war games against China over Taiwan, and China has prevailed in every one.” He notes: “Within 500 miles of the island, mainland China boasts 39 air bases. The United States possesses two. To come to Taiwan’s aid, U.S. forces would need to cover huge distances, and China has built an arsenal of advanced anti-ship missiles, sometimes called “carrier-killers,” which are designed to make such a rescue mission hideously costly.” 

In other words, the U.S. can not win such a conventional war. Beinart notes: “Some of America’s most experienced China experts — including former ambassador to Beijing J. Stapleton Roy and Chas Freeman, who served as Richard Nixon’s interpreter on his 1972 trip to China — believe such a conflict would risk nuclear war. He adds that, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 85 percent of Republican leaders support defending Taiwan militarily, but “only 43 percent of Republicans among the public agree.”

 He concludes: “What’s crucial is that the Taiwanese people preserve their individual freedom and the planet does not endure a third world war. The best way for the United States to pursue those goals is by maintaining America’s military support for Taiwan while also maintaining the “one China” framework that for more than four decades has helped keep the peace in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Hawks will call this appeasement. So be it. Ask them how many American lives they’re willing to risk so the United States can have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”

Beinart is a professor of journalism and political science at The Newmark School of Journalism at The City University of New York, and is editor-at-large of the “progressive” Jewish Currents..


An Underprepared India Is Teetering Under Covid-19’s Second Attack

May 5 (EIRNS)—Having withstood the first wave of the Covid-19 attack in 2020 rather commendably, India’s Modi administration declared “victory” and virtually ignored the threat waiting around the corner — the second wave of the virus attack. India is now paying dearly with lives and general chaos caused by global pandemic.

On May 4, WHO figures indicated India accounted for nearly half of the COVID-19 cases reported worldwide in the past week. The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that India accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week. New daily infections in the country numbered 382,315 on May 5, health ministry data showed, the 14th straight day of more than 300,000 cases. Officially, India has reported more than 3,500 deaths every day throughout the last week.

On May 4, Allahabad High Court (AHC) in Uttar Pradesh observed that the death of Covid-19 patients just because of the lack of oxygen in hospitals, which is widespread throughout the country, is a criminal act and is “no less than a genocide.” The AHC stated that the authorities- in-power are responsible for not taking measures to ensure maintenance of the oxygen supply chain.

In January-February of this year, the first wave of Covid-19 had waned in India and the official numbers showed a 90 percent drop from the peak of 96,000 per day in September 2020. The daily death toll dropped from 1,200 to 80. A sense of triumphalism began to emerge, led by a pack of cheerleaders close to Prime Minister Modi who unleashed vigorous political campaigns in five states going to the polls in March-April. On February 21, the senior leaders of the ruling party, BJP, thanked Prime Minister Modi for his “visionary leadership” that effectively weathered the Covid attack. Addressing the annual conference of Delhi Medical Association on March 7, Modi’s Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan triumphantly declared : “We are in the end game of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.”

By April 4, the second wave of Copvid-19 attack became evident, when daily new cases exceeded the peak load of September 2020. Other than banning exports of vaccines at the end of March, the Modi administration did not take any new measure to either ramp up vaccine production or the production and supply chain of oxygen. Foreign vaccine developers that applied for authorization were told to carry out bridging trials that would take a few months before emergency use authorization could be given. The dam broke loose in mid-April.

It became evident on April 15 that India’s fragile health infrastructure, under the second attack of Covid-19, had collapsed. Oxygen shortages were causing deaths at hospitals throughout India and the vaccination rates dropped from about 3.5 million jabs a day to below 2.5 million, reflecting a looming vaccine crunch.

From one million active cases a week during the last peak, India already has 3.2 million active cases, and the peak lies somewhere in the future. The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India like a tsunami and the Modi government is wholly paralyzed, leaving the people unprotected to face this deadly wave.


West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

May 5 (EIRNS)–According to India Today, 3,000 tons of aid has arrived in the country so far. That may sound like a lot; but what it boils down to is that this nation of 1.4 billion people, with over 20 million cases of COVID which are growing at the rate of more than a million new cases every three days, has received a grand total of 1,656 oxygen concentrators, 20 large-sized oxygen concentrators, 965 ventilators, and an unknown number of pulse oximeters, Remdesivir packets and some PPE. The Indian government claims that, in some cases, the aid is still in transit. They added that the limited amount of the foreign aid also meant that splitting it up equally was not optimal; so the hardest-hit states were preferred.

This is hardly a serious response to a nation in peril from a global pandemic.

A particular problem is that India’s vaunted vaccine production capacity has been crippled by the Biden administration’s ban on export of vital components, which was only lifted a few days ago after major pressure was brought to bear on Washington. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said that their production of Covishield (AstraZeneca) is now about 60-70 million doses per month, and is able to rise up to 100 million/month by July.

Vaccine doses are desperately needed, given that only 2% of the Indian population has been vaccinated. Last month the government announced that they were now fast-tracking vaccine approval, and on Monday Pfizer announced that they were in discussions with India on providing vaccines. Russia began sending in the first portion of three million doses in May of Sputnik V. And pressure continues to mount on Biden to release the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca warehoused, unused, in the US. That stockpile by itself would double the vaccination program in India this month – nowhere near what is actually needed in this emergency, but certainly helpful.


Did Geopolitics Sink Portugal’s Sines Port Expansion Project for Now?

Did Geopolitics Sink Portugal’s Sines Port Expansion Project for Now?

May 5, 2021 (EIRNS)—At the close of the April 6 deadline for submitting bids to construct a new, huge container terminal at Portugal’s Sines Port, not a single bid had been entered. Port authorities blamed the fiasco on the drop in world shipping from the pandemic, and are talking of launching another offer with more “flexible” conditions when “market conditions” are better. The chairman of the port’s board of directors José Luís Cacho assured that the port expansion will happen, calling the possibility of a two-year delay “almost irrelevant.”

Most likely more than pandemic effects were involved. Portugal and China have been working for several years to use the planned “Vasco de Gama” terminal at Sines’s excellent deep-water port, just south of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast, as a key Belt and Road Initiative hub, connecting the westernmost point of the Eurasian rail network with the Maritime Silk Road in the Atlantic, thereby facilitating trading connections with the Americas and the Western coast of Africa. The Schiller Institute supported the plan as key for developing the Americas, and Portugal pinned its own industrial expansion on the project, envisioning proudly a return to its historic role as a leading center of maritime development. In late 2018, Portugal signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the Belt and Road, becoming one of the few countries in Europe willing to counter pressure from Washington and the EU.

The Anglo-American nexus moved in. The U.S. Embassy organized multiple visits of U.S. gas companies promising big investments to build up Sines’s LNG facilities. The Portuguese government welcomed investments from all serious bidders, but in September 2020, U.S. Amb. George Glass told the Portuguese daily Expresso that Portugal is inevitably “part of the European battlefield between the United States and China,” and Portugal now had to choose between its American “friends and allies” and its “economic partner” China. Among other threats, Glass stated that if Portugal awarded the Sines terminal contract to China, the U.S. would pull out of its LNG investments there.

Keeping the pressure on, former British diplomat John Dobson published an op ed in the Sunday Guardian of India on Dec. 5, 2020, picked up in Portugal, stating that the fight over Sines was an “economic flashpoint” between China and the U.S., similar to the military flashpoint building up in the South China Sea. “So will it be America’s huge LNG terminal, or China’s huge container port?,” he wrote. “Whoever is the winner, the geopolitical consequences will be massively significant.”


Tony Blinken’s “Rules-Based Order” Magical Mystery Tour

The Group of 7 Foreign Ministers met in London to prepare for June’s leadership conference.  They devoted two ninety-minute sessions to coordinate military and financial containment of Russia and China, two nations they designated as threats to the “Rules-Based Order” (RBO).  While there, Secretary of State Blinken praised  the U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship as the cornerstone of the RBO, to insure adherence to “democratic values and human rights.”  He then went to Kiev, to deliver the message that the G7 stands behind Ukraine’s “sovereignty” (!), in the face of alleged  threats from Russia.  Meanwhile, NATO continues with the largest military exercises in eastern Europe in years, on  Russia’s doorstep.


Zakharova Warns of Pitfalls of Western ‘Sanctions War’

May 4, 2021 (EIRNS)–“Diplomacy is being replaced by sanctions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned in an interview with RT Television yesterday, and this is “undermining mutual trust and darkening the prospects for normalizing relations” between Russia and the collective West.

“The vicious practice of imposing unilateral political and economic restrictions, especially the extraterritorial application of such measures, is an infringement on the sovereignty of states and interference in their internal affairs aimed at keeping, at any cost, their [imposers’–ed.] dominant position in the global economy and international politics, which they are gradually losing,” she charged.

She discussed various measures which Russia is taking to defend itself: consolidating its national financial system, searching for new international partners, diversifying foreign economic ties while developing advanced, competitive domestic industries which lay the basis for substituting domestic products for what was previously imported. New legal mechanisms are being worked on, and legislation “providing for measures to counter new potential unilateral steps by the United States and other countries” is being drafted.

RT asked several questions about ways Russia might protect itself from restrictions on its access to Western financial systems. Zakharova noted that cutting Russia off from the SWIFT system for international settlement of payments “is so far considered a hypothetical scenario.” That said, work is underway on reducing Russia’s dependence on the dollar, a discussion that has been underway for at least a decade, she noted. She referenced that the 2007-2008 crisis “called into doubt the sustainability of the world currency system based on the supremacy of one national monetary unit.”

 Zakharova made clear that such discussions are not taking place just in Russia, as finding ways to secure “the independence and sustainability of the financial system to external threat is increasingly becoming a priority for any state.” Russia will not be driven by the “hostile foreign policy” of others to shut out the outside world; it is discussing measures that can be taken with regional neighbors, the BRICS, and others.

Once again, Zakharova, as other high-ranking Russian officials have consistently been doing, proposed that Western nations change course, and come to the table to reach agreements which defend everyone’s interests: “We have repeatedly made it clear that we did not start this sanctions war, but we are ready, at any point, to do our part in order to end this pointless confrontation, in which there will not be and cannot be any winners…. We strongly support a broad international discussion of ways to counteract the illegitimate unilateral measures. We are confident that a systematic dialogue should help reduce the business community’s concerns regarding the uncertainty and instability in global affairs, which are provoked by the West’s one-sided and inconsistent policy.” The RT coverage can be found here.

The Foreign Ministry carries the transcript of the interview on its website.


Economist Writes ‘the Most Dangerous Place on Earth’: Taiwan

May 4, 2021 (EIRNS)--In its May 1 cover article, the Economist wrote with satisfaction about the dangerous strategic condition created with respect to Taiwan. The outgoing head of the Pacific Command, Adm. Phil Davidson, had told Congress in March that he worried about China attacking Taiwan as soon as 2027. The {Economist} notes the unique position of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which leads the world in the production of advanced semiconductor chips, with technologies and production processes years ahead of those of either the U.S. or China. The British rag also exults in recent changes from what had been the status quo of the ambiguous state of U.S. support for a one-China policy while in effect guaranteeing Taiwanese independence. With a growing independence movement in Taiwan, strengthened by reporting on Hong Kong, will China remain at bay?

            “Nobody in America can really know what Mr. Xi intends today, let alone what he or his successor may want in the future…. Mr. Xi’s appetite for risk may sharpen, especially if he wants unification with Taiwan to crown his legacy.” To prevent this, the Economist calls for action: “America requires weapons to deter China from launching an amphibious invasion…. China must be discouraged from trying to change Taiwan’s status by force even as it is reassured that America will not support a dash for formal independence by Taiwan.” Rather than achieving an actual resolution of the dispute, through a true detente and discussion, the British magazine suggests an effort to “sustain ambiguity,” maintaining the state of conflict while acknowledging that “The risk of a superpower arms race is high.” The full article is here.


Police-State Measures Against Protesters with ‘Wrong’ Thoughts

Police-State Measures Against Protesters with 'Wrong' Thoughts

May 4, 2021 (EIRNS)--An Arkansas man photographed at a desk in Nancy Pelosi's office was taken into custody on Jan. 8, charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, and possession of a "deadly or dangerous weapon" (the retired firefighter's walking stick -- fitted with a stun gun but without batteries on Jan. 6). Federal prosecutors requested, and secured, an order from Judge Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the D.C. district court, for the man to be taken to Washington D.C., where he has been incarcerated in solitary confinement pending his trial later this month.

In another case, that of the "zip tie guy" and his mother, a D.C. appellate court denounced their pre-trial detention, leading to their release--pending trial--after more than two months in jail.

As the kid-gloves approach towards Antifa protesters in Portland makes clear, this strict approach is not pursued against all protesters in the United States, but rather is trained on those who are to be exhibited as examples of the DVEs (domestic violent extremists) that supposedly pose a mortal threat to "American democracy."

Just last Wednesday, April 28, a couple in Alaska were roused from their bedroom by armed FBI agents, who had broken the door to their home and inn. The agents handcuffed the pair, along with several houseguests, and interrogated them for hours about their participation in the Jan. 6 event at the Capitol. 

The couple had attended Trump's speech and walked to the Capitol, but had not entered it. Eventually the agents revealed that they believed the wife had stolen Nancy Pelosi's laptop. After ransacking their home and confiscating electronic equipment, the agents left. The same day, Rudy Giuliani's home was searched.

In total, an enormous police and intelligence operation has led to the arrest of over 400 people for their participation in the Jan. 6 events.

Are we really to believe that this same apparatus was unable to foresee the need for additional security at the Capitol that day? 

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