30 November 2019   1 comment

This note has little to do with world politics, but I am fascinated by the reports of a new study that suggests that the essential elements of music seem to be universal and not solely culturally determined (a position I must admit I believed with no evidence). According to Reuters:

“The study, published on Thursday, focused on musical recordings and ethnographic records from 60 societies around the world including such diverse cultures as the Highland Scots in Scotland, Nyangatom nomads in Ethiopia, Mentawai rain forest dwellers in Indonesia, the Saramaka descendants of African slaves in Suriname and Aranda hunter-gatherers in Australia.

“Music was broadly found to be associated with behaviors including infant care, dance, love, healing, weddings, funerals, warfare, processions and religious rituals.

“The researchers detected strong similarities in musical features across the various cultures, according to Samuel Mehr, a Harvard University research associate in psychology and the lead author of the study published in the journal Science.

“’The study gives credence to the idea that there is some sort of set of governing rules for how human minds produce music worldwide. And that’s something we could not really test until we had a lot of data about music from many different cultures,’ Mehr said.”

I will wait until the study is more broadly confirmed by other researchers before I abandon my uninformed position.

After two months of increasingly violent protests, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has announced that he will resign. The resignation comes after two prominent Shia clerics, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr, called for a change of leadership in the country. The change comes despite the strong support for Mahdi by Iran and the Iraqi Kurds. The protests have been sparked by concerns over corruption as well as the influence of Iran over Iraqi politics. But the laws governing succession after a Prime Minster leaves in Iraq are murky and it is not clear that the resignation will address the underlying causes of unrest. The Guardian looks at the unrest:

“Ever since 2003, Iraq’s governance had been apportioned along sectarian lines and its institutions used as fiefdoms by ministers whose allegiance to political groupings has often transcended fealty to the state.

“One result has been endemic corruption and nepotism throughout the country’s public sector, which has plundered the country’s oil wealth and left many Iraqis without opportunities. Looting of state revenues has been the main driver of the protest movement that has been led by a disenfranchised youth but joined by other sectors of society, and has on some days seen up to 200,000 people demonstrating peacefully in Baghdad and other cities.”

It is likely that a new Prime Minister will be appointed only after extended horse-trading by the various groups in Iraq. The turmoil in Iraq will also complicate US strategy in the Middle East, particularly after the change in the US position in Syria.

North Korea blasted Japanese Prime Minister Abe after he criticized the two missile tests conducted by North Korea last Thursday. The invective was vintage North Korean propaganda:

“North Korea responded with a blistering statement from an unnamed deputy foreign minister in charge of Japanese affairs, saying Abe didn’t know what he was talking about when it comes to military hardware.

“‘Abe is the only one idiot in the world and the most stupid man ever known in history as he fails to distinguish a missile from multiple launch rocket system,'” said the statement, which was carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“‘The wretched sight of Abe makes us regard him as a dog seized with fear or a puppy fawning over its master like the U.S.,’ the statement continued, adding, ‘he is none other than a perfect imbecile and a political dwarf without parallel in the world.’

“It concluded with a blunt warning that the Japanese leader ‘may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose.'”

North Korea has given the US a deadline of the end of the year to restart meaningful negotiations. The rhetoric coming out of Pyongang suggests that leader Kim is becoming quite disgruntled with the slow pace.

Posted November 30, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “30 November 2019

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  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving and a Request ⋆ Catherine Onyemelukwe

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