The Latest: Prince Philip Dies, Kim Jong-Un's Famine Warning, Lost Pharaoh City

Farmers in France heat up their vineyards to protect them from the frost
Farmers in France heat up their vineyards to protect them from the frost

Welcome to Friday, where Prince Philip dies, Kim Jong-un warns of upcoming hardships, and archeologists unearth a "lost golden city" in Egypt. German daily Die Welt also looks at the problematic white hegemony in the world of western classical music.

• Prince Philip dies aged 99: Buckingham Palace has announced the death of the Queen's husband for 73 years. Flags on landmark buildings across the UK are being lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning has been announced.

• North Carolina mass shooting: Authorities have identified former NFL player Phillip Adams, 32, as the man suspected of killing five people, including two children, yesterday outside Rock Hill, North Carolina. The suspect then killed himself after a standoff with police. The attack came as U.S. President Joe Biden announced new gun restrictions.

• South Korean tanker held in Iran freed: A South Korean tanker and its captain detained in Iran have been freed, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. Iran had seized the tanker in January due to pollution violations.

• Russia's interference in Ukraine: A Russian official has warned that Russia could interfere in the Ukraine conflict by helping Russian-speaking residents in the east of the country.

• George Floyd's cause of death: George Floyd died from lack of oxygen caused by restraint caused by being handcuffed face down in the street with Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck, medical experts say at the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. This contradicts the version of the former police's defense, which attributed Floyd's death to a fentanyl overdose.

• North Korean leader warns of historic economic crisis: In a rare admission, Kim Jong-un has used a party speech to warn of upcoming hardships caused by the pandemic, U.S. sanctions and natural disasters. The North Korean leader ominously compared the situation to the historic famine that killed thousands in the country in the 1990s.

• Pharaonic find: Egyptian archeologists find the 3,000-year-old "lost golden city" of Aten, hailed as the largest ancient city found in the country. Buried under sand for millennia, Aten dates back to the golden age of the pharaohs.

"Left alone," the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau explains in a front-page article about single parents who've been hit hard financially and psychologically by the coronavirus crisis, with state aids "often falling short."

No more Mozart? Classical music v. cancel culture

The University of Oxford is planning to change its curriculum to focus on fewer white composers and more non-European music. But does it really make sense to bury Beethoven and Brahms? asks Manuel Brug in German daily Die Welt.

The Black Lives Matter movement and calls for cuts to the syllabus in the name of diversity have reached university music departments. Even professors at the renowned University of Oxford are reducing the number of classical composers that students will study, to make space for other forms of music, especially non-western and non-white composers. That means: Duke Ellington instead of Mozart, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor instead of Brahms, Tan Dun instead of Beethoven, and Unsuk Chin instead of Ethel Smith.

But what should be on the new curriculum, which supposedly had too many works by white European composers from the era of slavery? Should the well-traveled, learned Mozart be blamed for the era in which he lived? You could hold seminars about how for centuries female and non-European composers were ignored and had little chance of breaking into the classical canon. But it isn't always possible to correct the mistakes of the past in this way, and searching for lost scores from unrecognized geniuses with the right skin color won't bring them out of the woodwork.

Is music that "hasn't shaken off its links with the colonial past" really a "slap in the face" for some students who feel confronted by the white hegemony, as the Sunday Telegraph claims? A university spokesperson speaking on Classic FM seemed to play this down, saying professors will "still teach critical analysis and the history of western classical music, and have no plans to reduce the curriculum." At the same time, the University of Oxford is making an effort to "allow students to study a wider range of non-western cultures and popular music than before." So perhaps a little harmony.

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고난의 행군

Korean for the "Arduous March," a period of famine in North Korea between 1994 and 1998. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has used the term in a party speech to warn of upcoming economic hardships.

This is not a coup.

— In an hour-long interview with CNN, Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson for the Myanmar military, denies the unlawfulness of the Feb. 1 ousting of the government and rejects responsibility for the violence that has already killed more than 600 people.

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Feed The Future

COP26 Should Mark A Turning Point In Solving The Climate Crisis

Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.

A new dawn?

If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.

The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.

Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.

This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.

It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."

In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.

Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.

Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.

But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.

In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.

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