Quarantined Music – by Quarantined Musicians

This comes in from the Syrian poet and broadcaster, Malak Mustafa. She liked it and we like it. It comes from Barcelona, one of the places worst affected by this plague:

And this from Stafford Clarry, our senior NCF member in Iraq: There are some things even a pandemic can’t stop. Perhaps something beautiful is rising up out of this pandemic. It is very much needed.
All the music on the list below was produced by quarantined musicians. The collection is a meadow of music to wander through and roam in.
Take care of each other.

El “Nessun Dorma” de l’òpera ‘Turandot’ de Puccini
1 May 2020
We Are the World – COVID-19 Tribute (Cover)
17 April 2020
ORFEOI TXIKIA koarentenan: ‘Lore dantza
14 April 2020
College Church Hallelujah chorus
12 April 2020
L’ONLyon vous réveille en musique pendant le confinement
11 April 2020
Havana – par les musiciens confinés de l’Orchestre d’Harmonie Saint Jean le Vieux / Ambronay (OHSJA)
11 April 2020
We are the World (2020) | Together At Home Edition by Channel Aid, KHS & YouTube Artists
10 April 2020
NHS Staff Choir sing ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers
10 April 2020
ROYAL CHORAL SOCIETY: Hallelujah Chorus in Isolation
10 April 2020
Here Comes The Sun – Camden Voices (self-isolation/virtual choir cover)
10 April 2020
A Hope or the Future
9 April 2020
2020: An Isolation Odyssey | 40 musicians play epic intro from Kubrick classic during UK lockdown
9 April 2020
Les musiciens de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg en télétravail
9 April 2020
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND performed by the worldwide cast of BEAUTIFUL (in quarantine) for The Actors Fund
7 April 2020
From Our Homes to Yours: Milwaukee Symphony (Virtual) Orchestra performs Elgar’s “Nimrod”
7 April 2020
Les musiciens de l’ONCT se réinventent !
7 April 2020
Go Big & Stay Home – Socially Distant Orchestra Plays Wagner
6 April 2020
Thank You for the Music – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
5 April 2020
Europa InCanto – 700 bambini cantano Nessun Dorma – Turandot
5 April 2020
5 April 2020
Bella Ciao/La Casa de papel – Musicians in Covid19 Quarantine – Delirium Musicum
4 April 2020
4 April 2020
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra: Sibelius: Finlandia op 26
3 April 2020
A Boléro from New York: NY Philharmonic Musicians Send Musical Tribute to Healthcare Workers
3 April 2020
Un obsequio para el mundo | Edward Elgar, Enigma Variations, IX Nimrod – OSNC
31 March 2020
Philip Glass by Cello Octet Amsterdam feat. Maki Namekawa
1 April 2020
Lockdown Sessions – Set You Free (N-Trance)
31 March 2020
Remerciements – Le Boléro De Ravel interprété en confinement par l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice
30 March 2020
Aussie Pops Orchestra Phones It In – What a Wonderful World
30 March 2020
Rise UP | Boston’s Children’s Chorus and other children’s choirs
30 March 2020
 “Stayin’ Inside” – Corona Virus Bee Gees Parody
27 March 2020
Roedean School (South Africa) – Hallelujah (Virtual Choir)
27 March 2020
 “Stayin’ Home” – Socially Distant Orchestra Plays Dvořák’s “New World”
27 March 2020
A Virtual Choir in quarantine sing Florence + The Machine
26 March 2020
Kaleidoscope Orchestra Lockdown Sessions – Don’t You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia)
24 March 2020
 GRIEG – Holberg Suite – Preludium “á la Quarantine”
24 March 2020
Tonkünstler-Orchester / Tonkunstler Orchestra – Boléro
 Helplessly Hoping – il coro che non c’è
23 March 2020
 What the World Needs Now – for Virtual Orchestra
22 March 2020
StrongerTogether – SocialSymphony (Ode to Joy, Bamberger Orchestra)
22 March 2020
Socially Distant Orchestra Plays Ode to Joy
22 March 2020
True Colors – Camden Voices (self-isolation/virtual choir cover)
22 March 2020
Hallelujah – from a balcony in Italia
21 March 2020
CORO VIRTUALE – VIRTUAL CHOIR – Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
20 March 2020
Good Times, Ghali – Gaga Symphony Orchestra
18 March 2020
 Chino Valley USD Students Spread Hope During School Closures Due to COVID-19
17 March 2020
Daddy Daughter Duet – The Prayer

Rethinking Syria

Syria – Hell on Earth?

5.6m refugees have fled Syria; 3.8m of these are in Turkey. Some of the Syrian refugees are moving on to Europe and according to the charity Syria Relief, the Turkish-Greek border is ‘Hell on Earth’. The collapse in the oil price and inflation in Syria ensure living standards will continue to plummet which will drive more toward militancy.

But what is going on behind the scenes? To hear the latest podcast on the subject from Next Century Foundation Secretary General William Morris click here.

Six in the Afternoon

Some of you may remember Joelle Manih and Ethan Jahan as the Producer and Director respectively of The English Hour broadcasts formerly hosted by NCF Secretary General, William Morris. They are both in lockdown as are most of us these days. This is an interesting short film, made by Ethan and starring Joelle, as their response to Covid-19.

Iran Changes Tack

The Next Century Foundation’s Secretary General, William Morris, expresses concern that international sanctions are preventing Iranian access to medical supplies in a post coronavirus world. And points out a major strategic change in Iran’s defense policy. To listen to the podcast click on this link.


Analysis: Netanyahu and Gantz form unity government

The extraordinary developments in Israel continue. Some of us at the NCF have been astonished from the outset almost four weeks ago when the latest developments had their genesis. For those of you who are not up to speed the following has just come in from the Conservative Friends of Israel:

In an unexpected development on Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Gantz signed an agreement to form an emergency unity government, bringing to an apparent end a nearly year-and-a-half-long political stalemate.

A joint statement from Blue and White and Netanyahu’s Likud party said the agreement was to form a “national emergency government” to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The coalition agreement will include a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz as Prime Minister in 18 month periods, with the other as a deputy. Under the terms of the deal, Netanyahu will assume the position of Prime Minister first and later be replaced by Gantz in October 2021. Benny Gantz will initially serve as Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. It is the first time in 36 years that Israel will have a rotating Prime Minister.

The deal is expected to be signed formally after Israel’s Independence Day Yom Ha’atzmaut next week, after which the other right-wing parties in Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc would sign on to it.

Gantz posted on Twitter shortly after the announcement: “We prevented fourth elections. We’ll safeguard democracy… We’ll fight the coronavirus and look out for all Israeli citizens. We have a national emergency government”.

Snap opinion polls suggest most of the Israeli public is pleased by the prospect of finally having a fully functioning government, but does not widely believe Netanyahu will actually go through with handing over the Prime Minister’s post to Gantz after 18 months of the coalition’s scheduled three-year lifespan.

The government will initially have 32 ministers, divided equally between the Netanyahu-led and Gantz-led blocs, and then increase to 36 ministers as soon as the coronavirus crisis is deemed to have ended, in what will be the largest cabinet by far in Israel’s history.

The Likud and its right-wing partners will receive the Finance, Health, Internal Security, Construction, Transportation and Education portfolios. Blue and White will receive the Defence, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Economy, Communications and Culture portfolios.

A major bone of contention has been the makeup and mechanics of the Judicial Appointments Committee, which installs judges. Netanyahu, who has been indicted on multiple counts of corruption, including bribery, demanded veto power over nominations. Under the agreement reached on Monday night, Likud ensured de facto right-wing veto power on the panel, with the appointment of Blue and White’s MK Zvi Hauser, a former cabinet secretary under Netanyahu. This was immediately condemned by Yesh Atid leader and former Gantz ally Yair Lapid.

Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn is expected to be the next Justice Minister, a decision welcomed by top officials in the justice system.

The Knesset speaker will be a member of the Likud for the whole duration of the government. Blue and White member Gabi Ashkenazi will serve as Foreign Minister for the first 18 months before being replaced by someone from Likud.

The final agreement conforms with most of Netanyahu’s demands, including on the annexation of parts of the West Bank, a process that it says can begin in July 2020. According to the agreement, the adoption of the Trump plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace will be carried out in coordination with the US.

Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas (9 seats) and United Torah Judaism (7 seats) have provisionally been given the ministries they requested, however they have not yet formally endorsed the new government and could yet prove to be an obstacle. Gantz has previously vowed to not concede to the Ultra-Orthodox and his previous association with Yair Lapid (an avowed secularist) is a cause for concern for the parties.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid and former ally of Benny Gantz, on Tuesday accused the Blue and White leader of perpetrating “the worst act of fraud in the history of this country” by joining forces with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lapid claimed that by abandoning his three-time election pledge to not sit in government with Netanayahu so long as he is under indictment, Gantz’s alliance would enable Netanyahu to evade investigation in several other potential scandals.

On Sunday, some 5,000 Israelis took part in a socially distanced protest in Tel Aviv over their condemnation of Netanyahu’s continuing rule.




Fourth elections loom as Israel’s coalition talks stall again

This comes in today from the Conservative Friends of Israel as Israel faces the worst political crisis in its history:

Negotiations between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chair Benny Gantz to build a governing coalition stalled again in recent days over reported differences on judicial appointments and legal guarantees for Netanyahu. Gantz’s mandate to form a government expired on Wednesday night after a two-day extension granted by President Reuven Rivlin. On Thursday, Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid proposed a six-month “political freeze” to prevent fourth elections as Israel battles the coronavirus pandemic. Gantz’s shock move to enter into talks with Netanyahu caused the centrist Blue and White party to split from former allies Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon. As of yesterday, the task of forming a government moved to the Knesset, where any MK can gain 61 signatures in a bid to seat a government. If after 21 days no parliamentarian is able to form a government then the Knesset will automatically dissolve ahead of the country’s fourth election in less than 18 months. Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams continued talks yesterday and today, with the goal, as a joint statement read, to reach an “agreement toward the establishment of a national unity government”. Israel has been led by a caretaker government since December 2018, when the 20th Knesset dissolved. Since then, three consecutive elections have so-far failed to yield a new government, marking Israel’s worst political crisis since its foundation.


Israel doesn’t really want Netanyahu?

The excellent “Peace Index” has just been sent to us from Israel. After a lot on the grip that the covid-19 plague is having on the country, there are two key and interesting other observations:

  1. Most of the general Israeli public support the proposed law to prevent those accused of criminal activity from serving as prime minister, and the proposal to limit the number of terms that a prime minister can serve to two.
  2. The possibility of a national unity government is the one preferred by most of the public, and that was before Ganz expressed willingness to join a unity government with Netanyahu.

For the full peace index report click on this link


Covid-19 and Protagoras’ Paradox

This interesting reflection explains a lot about how the British Government were handling Covid-19 in the early days. It has been doing the rounds on the internet though we are unaware of the original source. The earliest source we can find for it is the Nigerian publication “City People”

Over 2000 years ago, in Greece, there was a lawyer named Protagoras. A young student, Euthalos, requested to apprentice under him, but was unable to pay the fees. The student struck a deal saying, “I will pay your fee the day I win my first case in the court”. Teacher agreed. When the training was complete and a few years had elapsed without the student paying up, the teacher decided to sue the student in the court of law.

The teacher thought to himself: ‘If I win the case, as per the law, the student will have to pay me, as the case is about non-payment of dues. And if lose the case, the student will still have to pay me, because he would have won his first case. Either way I will get paid’.

The student’s view was, ‘If I win the case, I won’t have to pay the teacher, as the case is about my non-payment of fees. And if I lose the case, I don’t have to pay him since I wouldn’t have won my first case yet. Either way I will not pay the teacher.’

This is known as Protagoras Paradox, which ever way you look both have equally convincing arguments, one can go either way in supporting the teacher or the student and would not be wrong.

Those of us in medical practice often come across such situations, either in making a diagnostic or therapeutic decision. One physician can recommend a course of treatment based on scientific evidence and another can recommend a diametrically opposite course again based on medical evidence. Right or wrong, but some merit would exist on both sides.

Often the physician himself is having an internal struggle to make a decision about the most appropriate course of action, Protagoras & Euthalos are arguing in his mind, to do this or to do that. The horns of dilemma are tearing him apart.

But what prompted this essay was a tweet by Donald Trump, ‘hope the cure is not worse than the disease’. L & G I hate to say, but I find some merit in this tweet. In our global attempt to flatten the COVID curve, I hope we do not flatten the global economy curve. The question is what’s the best way forward. One group recommends ‘total lockdown’ to break the transmission chain, based on evidence from China, they managed to control the spread of the virus by ruthless lock down and 3 months later they are showing that disease is controlled in Wuhan. On the other hand, the other school of thought is graded isolation & protection of elderly and very young and those with co-morbidities, let it spread amongst the young and healthy, after all the disease ultimately will be controlled when we achieve ‘herd immunity’. The medical community is divided in these two groups. To enforce complete lockdown or Graded isolation?

To complicate the issue the epidemiologists have joined the bandwagon with cacophony of statistical analysis. From Rosy to Dooms day predictions. If we don’t do a complete lockdown then a million people will die in 1 year. No say some more like 90 million will die in 1 year. Whose data analysis is correct. Some suggest do nothing, nature will take over in a few months and all will be well, they quote historical data to justify their recommendations. On whose inputs should we base our disaster management strategy.
Then come the economists with their doomsday predictions. If this continues till May our medical resources will be overwhelmed, Agriculture will suffer, food shortages will occur, production will come to a standstill. There will be an economic crisis of the proportions that world has not seen ever. So, break this lockdown nonsense and let’s get back to work as usual.

What will our political masters do. My guess is they will listen to medical experts, epidemiologists & economists. Then they will decide what course of action will ensure their survival, what will get them people’s votes and they will run with that. At present ‘Lockdown” finds favour with them. Boris in UK had to abandon the recommendations of the medical community about graded response, because the people’s perception became that our Government is not doing enough to protect us citizens. That means revolt against him. So, screw it, lets go with total lockdown if that’s what the people want. Gradually people will get tired of lockdown and demand- let life go on. Then with equally convincing arguments the governments will say the time has now come to lift the blockade, we have controlled the contagion, we have won.

Incidentally the Protagoras Paradox has not been resolved till date. Students in Law schools still hold mock trials and give arguments on both sides, without any resolution of the dispute.


Did Gantz turncoat to support Netanyahu?

Netanyahu rides again – with Benny’s help

The word is that Netanyahu of Israel has suspected coronavirus. But nothing stops Netanyahu. Such extraordinary news from Israel: In an astonishing betrayal of everything he once stood for, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is set to partner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a unity government, serving initially as Foreign Minister but then taking over from Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021. Gantz’s unexpected decision to join forces with Netanyahu obviously and immediately led to the collapse of Blue and White, with the party’s second in command Yair Lapid rejecting the move and at heading into opposition with others from his Yesh Atid component of Blue and White. Gantz says he’s doing it for the sake of the nation because of the coronavirus crisis. Who knows. Perhaps he is. For NCF Secretary General, William Morris’ take on the latest developments see the podcast on this link.

Blue and Whites Collapse as Gantz backs Netanyahu

The Conservative Friends of Israel have just sent us this extraordinary statement:

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is set to partner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a unity government, serving initially as Foreign Minister but then taking over from Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021, according to a reported deal taking shape this afternoon.

Reports say that Gantz’s unexpected decision to join forces with Netanyahu immediately led to the collapse of Blue and White, with the party’s second in command Yair Lapid rejecting the move and at heading into opposition with others from his Yesh Atid component of Blue and White.

Lapid had reportedly told Gantz he preferred that Israel go to fourth elections rather than see Blue and White partner Netanyahu in power.

The coalition is said likely to constitute 78-79 Knesset Members — Likud, Gantz’s Israel Resilience, Labor, Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism — according to Channel 12. That would leave Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Ya’alon’s Telem, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Meretz and the mainly Arab Joint List in opposition.

The unity deal was taking shape as the Knesset met to vote for a new speaker, following Likud speaker Yuli Edelstein’s resignation on Wednesday. Gantz offered himself as the sole candidate for the Knesset speaker’s job, which he is set to hold only for a brief period while the terms of the unity coalition are finalised.

He will then serve as Foreign Minister for the first 18 months of the emergency unity government, under the terms of the reported deal, before succeeding Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

Gantz was tasked by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on 16th March with forming a government after 61 lawmakers backed him as prime minister, and given 28 days to do so.