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The power of crowds
Even before the pandemic, mass gatherings were under threat from draconian laws and corporate seizure of public space. Yet history shows that the crowd always finds a way to return. By Dan Hancox
As lockdown loomed in March, I became obsessed with a football anthem for a team 400 miles away. I had read a news story about Edinburgh residents singing a Proclaimers song called Sunshine on Leith from their balconies. I didn’t know the song, and when I looked it up, I found a glorious video of 26,000 Hibernian fans singing it in a sun-drenched Hampden Park, after a long-hoped-for Scottish Cup win in 2016. Both teams had left the pitch, and the Rangers’ half of the stadium was empty. It looked like a concert in which the fans were simultaneously the performer and the audience.
I was entranced. I watched it again, and again. The sight and sound of this collective joy was transcendent: tens of thousands of green-and-white scarves held aloft, everyone belting out the song at the tops of their lungs. When the crowd hits the chorus, the volume levels on the shaky smartphone video blow their limit, exploding into a delirious roar of noise. I thought of something that one of the leaders of the nationwide “Tuneless Choirs” – specifically for people who can’t sing – once said: “If you get enough people singing together, with enough volume, it always sounds good.” Our individual failings are submerged; we become greater than the sum of our meagre parts. Anthems sung alone sound thin and absurd – think of the spectacle of a pop star bellowing the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl. Anthems need the warmth of harmony, or even the chafing of dissonance. They need the full sound of bodies brushing up against each other in pride, joy or righteousness. Continue reading... https://bit.ly/3eK8TbV
Professor had been under house arrest after writing an essay lambasting the president over his response to coronavirus Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, known for his scathing and public criticisms of China’s leader Xi Jinping, has been detained, according to friends of the legal scholar. Two friends of Xu, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals, told the Guardian that he had been detained on Monday morning. According to one, around 20 police officers and 10 vehicles arrived at his home in Beijing and took Xu away. Continue reading... https://bit.ly/2Z3QWQg
Nestlé is big in York, but the city is fighting the brand’s decision to make life harder for African cocoa farmers Here’s a quiz question: how many KitKats are produced in the Nestlé factory in York each year? A hundred million? Keep going. The plant makes a billion of the UK’s bestselling chocolate bars annually. That volume is one reason that the company’s shameful decision to end the brand’s Fairtrade certification will have such a devastating effect on cocoa farmers. I visited some of the Fairtrade-certified cocoa farms in Ivory Coast last year. Seeing the difference that a measure of financial security can make to some of the poorest villages on earth is a lasting lesson in the mechanics of hope. Continue reading... https://bit.ly/3e43Jqe
Tony-nominated actor spent more than 90 days in hospital and had his right leg amputated The Tony award-nominated Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who starred in hit musicals including Waitress, A Bronx Tale and Bullets Over Broadway, has died in Los Angeles from severe medical complications after contracting coronavirus. He was 41. Cordero died on Sunday at Cedars-Sinai hospital after spending more than 90 days in the hospital, according to his wife, Amanda Kloots. “God has another angel in heaven now,” she posted on Instagram. “Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband.” Continue reading... https://bit.ly/2BG8idj