There’s only one time of year when a performance of Handel’s Messiah is chronologically correct and that is Easter.
Oh sure, the First Act deals with the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the annunciation of the shepherds, but it’s only one of three. The bulk of them are about his passion and death, his resurrection, and his ascension (Act II); and redemption, the Day of Judgement, general resurrection, and the ultimate triumph over sin and death and the universal acclamation of Christ (Act III).
As a matter of fact that famous Hallelujah Chorus, the only part anyone bothers with generally? Act II Finale.
Sorry to ruin your holiday season folks.
While I’m sure Handel would be gratified by the events that mostly consist of gathering the largest group possible to unmusically caterwaul a tricky piece to do well and one that almost nobody knows the right words to as a testament to his enduring popularity, I suspect that he would agree with me that they are best listened to buried among the mass of performers under the influence of an appropriate amount of ek’smas cheer.
The original work is rather modestly scored for a small orchestra and choir with soloists, to be performed in a hall of medium size. The fashion for large scale performances didn’t start until 1784, 42 years after the debut. It has always commonly been performed for charitable benefits.
Another interesting feature of this piece is that it’s an archetype of Oratorio structure. Handel made his mark on the English musical scene as a composer of Italian Operas which were very popular from 1711 until about 1730. He wrote over 40 of them. He amassed a small fortune but was increasingly dependent on wealthy patrons to stage his oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. One particular sponsor was Charles Jennens who is generally credited with the libretto, which is in English. Handel wrote the music in 24 days.
Now this is not unusual for an Opera and that’s basically what an Oratorio is. The 3 Act structure is exactly the same as the Italian Operas Handel was used to composing and the only distinguishing features are that there are no costumes, there is no acting, and the sacred nature of the subject. Handel had composed similar Oratorios when Opera was temporarily banned in Italy (counter-Reformation Fundamentalism).
Anyway, without further adieu the Messiah, all 2 hours and 38 minutes of it.
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
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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
Affiliate of Al Qaeda Seizes Major Yemeni City, Driving Out the Military
By SAEED AL-BATATI and KAREEM FAHIM, The New York Times
APRIL 3, 2015
The Qaeda fighters first entered Al Mukalla on Thursday and seized crucial government buildings, including a presidential palace. On Friday, residents fled to the outskirts of the city, as military commanders and their troops abandoned their bases, leaving behind American-made Humvee vehicles and other equipment to be seized by looters or the advancing fighters from the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The storming of Al Mukalla, Yemen’s fifth-largest city, was the group’s boldest attack since the start of a military offensive led by Saudi Arabia against the Houthis 10 days ago. The relative ease with which the militants captured large parts of the city raised fears of a broader expansion by the Sunni extremists, who have proved adept in the past at exploiting turmoil in Yemen to capture territory.
The residents of Al Mukalla, though, were left to fend for themselves on Friday, with no reports of Saudi military action to dislodge the militants.
Over the past two days, the militants have taken control of the security headquarters in the city and raided the central bank, finding a windfall there, witnesses said. One Yemeni official, citing treasury officials, put the amount the militants retrieved at tens of millions of dollars. They also attacked Al Mukalla’s main prison, freeing hundreds of inmates including a senior leader of the Qaeda group.
The city was left in a state of “panic and fear,” said a resident who gave only his first name, Muhammed. “It is hard to believe that Mukalla could be controlled this quickly by Al Qaeda, amidst the complete absence of the security forces,” he said.
Ferguson officials’ racist emails released
by Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland, The Guardian
Friday 3 April 2015 14.18 EDT
Senior police officers and a city official in Ferguson, Missouri, exchanged emails that likened ethnic minority welfare recipients to dogs and joked about stoning Muslim women, it emerged on Friday.
The previously undisclosed messages were released along with full copies of emails referenced in a report by the US Department of Justice that led to the dismissal of a series of senior city officials last month.
The emails were released to the Guardian and other media outlets in response to public records requests filed following the publication of the Justice Department’s damning report. They were written or forwarded by court clerk Mary Ann Twitty, police captain Rick Henke and police sergeant William Mudd.
Included among a series of “one-liners” forwarded by Twitty to Mudd and Henke was a joke about a man who discovered his wife had an affair. “But, by turning to religion, I was soon able to come to terms with the whole thing,” it said. “I converted to Islam, and we’re stoning her in the morning!”
Federal data: Not many oil trains for Keystone XL to displace
By Curtis Tate, McClatchy
April 2, 2015
New data on crude oil shipments by rail released by the Department of Energy this week show that there are relatively few oil trains taking the path of the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
In its first monthly report on crude by rail, the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the bulk of oil shipments by rail are moving from North Dakota’s Bakken region to refineries in the mid-Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest.
Far less is moving from either Canada or the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, the location of 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Only about 5 percent of the crude oil moved by rail nationwide in January was bound for the Gulf Coast from either Canada or the Midwest.
Some supporters of the 1,700-mile Keystone project have claimed that it would reduce the need for rail shipments. The pipeline would have a projected capacity of 830,000 barrels a day, and would primarily move heavy crude oil from western Canada to the Gulf Coast.
The government’s new data confirms, however, that the primary flows of oil by rail are not to the Gulf Coast. Northeast refineries, concentrated in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have come to rely heavily on Bakken crude delivered by rail, and to a lesser extent, Canadian oil.
The Keystone XL Pipeline Company Just Delayed Its Other Huge Tar Sands Pipeline
by Katie Valentine, Think Progress
April 3, 2015 at 11:04 am
Pipeline company TransCanada is canceling its plans to build an oil export terminal in Quebec, a move that the company says will postpone the start of its proposed Energy East pipeline for more than a year.
The company said in a statement that it is looking at other options for export sites in Quebec for the Energy East, a pipeline that would carry tar sands oil more than 2,850 miles from Hardisty, Alberta east to Saint John, New Brunswick. TransCanada had planned two export terminals for the project: one in Cacouna and one in Saint John. Because of the change in plans, TransCanada says the pipeline now has a projected start date of early 2020, rather than late 2018.
Since Energy East would carry the same tar sands oil that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would carry and is being proposed by the same company, it has been seen as the main alternative to carry Canada’s tar sands oil to market if Keystone XL isn’t constructed. Like Keystone in the U.S., however, the proposed pipeline – which if approved would involve building new pipeline as well as converting hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline into oil line – has run into significant opposition in Canada and in parts of the Northeast U.S. Last October, thousands of protesters marched through Cacouna in opposition to the pipeline and its Quebec terminal.
Nestlé called out for bottling, selling California water during drought
By Antony Currie, Reuters
April 2, 2015
The company is under fire in British Columbia, though, for paying only $2.25 for every million liters of water it withdraws from local sources. Yet the provincial government sets the price and until this year charged nothing. The rates are also far higher in Quebec, which charges $70, and Nova Scotia, where the price is $140. Nonetheless, 132,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the government stop allowing Nestlé to take water on the cheap.
The company’s reputation may be at even greater risk in California, whose severe drought is in its fourth year. The Courage Campaign has organized an online petition, with more than 40,000 signatures so far, that demands Nestlé Waters stop bottling H2O during the drought. There are several local protests, too.
The Swiss firm drew 50 million gallons from Sacramento sources last year, less than half a percent of the Sacramento Suburban Water District’s total production. It amounts to about 12 percent of residential water use, though, and is just shy of how much water flows from home faucets in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, Nestlé may be bottling more than locals drink from the tap.
It’s Been A Year Since Senators Voted To Reveal CIA Torture. What Do We Have To Show For It?
Ali Watkins, Huffington Post
04/03/2015 12:59 pm EDT
One year ago Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee, then under the command of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), voted to share with the world some of Washington’s most tightly held secrets: gruesome accounts of CIA personnel torturing detainees for the good of all Americans — who had little idea what was being done in their name.
After a protracted battle with both the CIA and the White House over how much information to release, the executive summary of Feinstein’s massive torture report finally saw the light of day in early December. Its release did not set off a violent backlash overseas despite panicked warnings from the intelligence community, nor did it irrevocably damage U.S. national security. It didn’t sit well with the American public either, who saw headlines about rectal feeding and sodomization for weeks.
But months later, human rights advocates and intelligence community observers point out, the public revelations haven’t fundamentally changed America’s conversation about torture.
The CIA still won’t label as torture the harsh interrogation techniques it embraced in the aftermath of 9/11 and refuses to concede that they probably didn’t help produce any valuable intelligence. Despite the repeated abuses detailed in the study, the U.S. government has declined to clearly label the actions as illegal or hold anyone accountable. In the days after the report summary’s release, a majority of Americans continued to believe the CIA’s actions were justified. The director of the FBI, the nation’s leading law enforcement agency, recently told Congress that he didn’t really think the bureau could learn anything from the torture report. And as of late January, the departments of State and Justice still hadn’t opened their sealed copies of the full report — neither would tell HuffPost whether that has changed since, saying the matter related to pending litigation.
As Quakes Rattle Oklahoma, Fingers Point to Oil and Gas Industry
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and MICHAEL WINES, The New York Times
APRIL 3, 2015
A 5.0-magnitude earthquake – the first of three as strong or stronger over several days in November 2011 – had peeled the brick facade from the $117,000 home she bought the year before. Ms. Cooper, 36, could not get out until her father pried a stuck storm door off the front entrance. Repairs have so far cost $12,000 and forced her to take a second job, at night, to pay the bill.
At a packed town hall meeting days later, Ms. Cooper said, state officials called the shocks, including a 5.7 tremor that was Oklahoma’s largest ever, “an act of nature, and it was nobody’s fault.”
Many scientists disagree. They say those quakes, and thousands of others before and since, are mainly the work of humans, caused by wells used to bury vast amounts of wastewater from oil and gas exploration deep in the earth near fault zones. And they warn that continuing to entomb such huge quantities risks more dangerous tremors – if not here, then elsewhere in the state’s sprawling well fields.
Federal seismologists have for a year warned of rising earthquake risks. Last July, researchers stated in Science magazine that wastewater-induced earthquakes were approaching a fault near Oklahoma City capable of producing a magnitude 7.0 shock, though other experts call that unlikely. In January, scientists including Oklahoma’s state seismologist, Austin Holland, cited a rising quake risk and identified three faults capable of “significantly larger” earthquakes.
Last month, a South African geophysicist delivered the most specific warning yet: Another magnitude 5-plus quake could occur by 2016, and one fault running through Stillwater and two other cities potentially could yield up to a magnitude 6.5 shock.
In August, Sandra Ladra, a Prague resident injured by a collapsing fireplace during the 2011 earthquakes, sued the Wilzetta well’s operator, New Dominion, and the Spess Oil Company, which operates the two smaller wells nearby.
Then, in February, came a class-action lawsuit against the two companies by Ms. Cooper, whose house in Prague was heavily damaged. Her suit seeks compensation for quake damage not only to her home, but to any homes in nine counties surrounding Prague.
If juries hold the companies liable for Prague’s earthquakes, he added, “I doubt if this is the last lawsuit that will get filed. These wells will become economic and legal liability pariahs. They will be shut down.” To Ms. Cooper, that message is clear. “People need to just take their losses for the greater good of the oil and gas companies – you know, do your part,” she said.
San Francisco Police Officers to Be Dismissed Over Racist Texts
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS, The New York Times
APRIL 3, 2015
San Francisco’s police chief said Friday that he had moved to dismiss seven officers who sent or received text messages that spoke of lynching African-Americans and burning crosses.
Greg Suhr, the police chief, said Friday that the texts, sent by the officers in 2011 and 2012, “are of such despicable thinking that those responsible clearly fall below the minimum standards required to be a police officer.”
The messages – which included one that said, simply, “White Power,” as well as others with denigrating comments about homosexuals, Mexicans and Filipinos – were sent or received by as many as 14 officers in the department, the police said.
Lawyers for the officers have said the texts did not represent their clients’ opinions and were little more than naïve banter meant to blow off steam in their high-stress jobs.
But the city’s district attorney and public defender’s offices have each begun investigations into cases involving the officers dating back 10 years to ensure that the officers did not act out of animus toward racial minorities or gays.
Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s public defender, said there were at least 1,000 cases that needed to be reviewed.
“The characterization of these hateful statements as innocent banter is dead wrong,” Mr. Adachi said Friday.
The texts were disclosed last month as part of a federal corruption case against Sgt. Ian Furminger, the officer who sent many of the messages.
Mr. Furminger, a 20-year veteran convicted in December 2014 of stealing money and property from suspects, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison.
As part of the case, prosecutors revealed that Mr. Furminger had sent and received a number of the inflammatory text messages.
Russian ships in old Arctic NATO base set alarms bells ringing
By Pierre-Henry Deshayes, AFP
April 3, 2015 1:00 AM
“We sold the only base worthy of the name that we had up there. It’s pure madness,” former vice admiral Einar Skorgen, who commanded Norway’s northern forces, told AFP.
Skorgen and other critics say Norway has robbed itself of a crucial foothold in the far north, forcing its submarines to travel hundreds of extra miles from their bases to defend the region.
On top of that, three Russian ships have spent the winter docked deep within the mountain hideaway, once a closely guarded military facility.
The way the base changed hands and ended up being rented to Russian research vessels — some of them seismic survey ships reportedly linked to state-owned energy giant Gazprom — has added further fuel to their anger.
When no buyers answered the armed forces’ initial advert on Norway’s version of eBay, a Norwegian businessman clinched the deal in 2013 for a mere 40 million kroner ($5 million, 4.6 million euros) — a steal given that NATO ploughed nearly 4 billion kroner into its construction.
Despite the protests, Norway’s current right-wing government has shown no signs of reversing the decision made by its predecessors.
“There are no plans to re-establish military installations in Olavsvern,” Audun Halvorsen, political advisor to the defence minister, told AFP in an email.
“The owner of the site can use it as he sees fit and the armed forces do not have the authority to impose restrictions, nor any mandate to monitor civilian ships that dock there,” he added.
U.S. says would back India buying U.S. aircraft carrier technology
By Andrea Shalal, Reuters
The U.S. government would support selling General Atomics’ electromagnetic launching system for aircraft carriers, and other key technologies, to India, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer told Reuters on Friday.
“I’m optimistic about cooperating with them on that,” Kendall told Reuters in an interview, when asked about the possibility of India acquiring the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) built by privately held General Atomics, which is based in San Diego, California.
General Atomics, which has also proposed selling the system to Brazil, says selling the system to foreign countries could help lower the cost of installing the system on the new Gerald R. Ford class of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.
- USPTO Demands EFF Censor Its Comments On Patentable Subject Matter, by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
- Security Audit Of TrueCrypt Doesn’t Find Any Backdoors — But What Will Happen To TrueCrypt?, by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
- The Precedent for Using Presidential National Emergency Proclamations to Expand Surveillance, by emptywheel
- President Obama Declares the Threat to Crappy Sony Movies a National Emergency, by emptywheel
- Plutocracy 1.0, By Steve Fraser, Naked Capitalism
- Pentagon Did Not Keep Records For $45 Billion Worth of Spending In Afghanistan, By: DSWright, Firedog Lake
- HSBC Violates its Sweetheart Deal and Lynch Praises It, By William K. Black, New Economic Perspectives
- We Send Teachers to Prison for Rigging the Numbers, Why Not Bankers?, By William K. Black, New Economic Perspectives
- Making the Rich and Powerful Work for Everyone, by Ian Welsh
- The Rise of the Working Poor and the Non-Working Rich, By Robert Reich