Monday Morning Links: Feb. 9

This Wednesday, leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France plan to meet in continued peace talks to face the Ukraine crisis. Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, and Vladimir Putin have "agreed to keep talking" after meetings last Saturday yielded no breakthrough.
As reported in The Telegraph, President Putin's spokesperson "told reporters there had been 'constructive and substantial' negotiations and work was underway on a joint document for implementing the Minsk agreement – a peace deal signed in September between the warring sides in eastern Ukraine but never fulfilled."

Elsewhere in The TelegraphUS officials compare these peace efforts to appeasing Hitler.

While the U.S. has been debating issues around assisted suicide, particularly sparked by Brittany Maynard's story, Canada's Supreme Court has gone and lifted its ban. One notable reason for this change is that borders are increasingly permeable, making it clear that similar rulings in the US and abroad have far-reaching consequences:

In the new ruling, the court . . . . said the social landscape has evolved, because assisted dying is permitted in other places such as Belgium, Switzerland, and Oregon.

In the latest issue of the New Yorker, Margaret Talbot  analyzes the politics behind vaccinations. She suggests a legislative solution, moving the discussion move away from the rhetoric of "individual rights." "Until recently," Talbot notes, "vaccine refusal wasn’t a partisan issue—some objections came from anti-government types but many were from self-identified progressives."

The New Republic has two recent pieces on money and the arts. Stuart Maconie argues that pop music is saturated by artists from the privileged class, using examples in the UK that are no less familiar here in North America. While we can't directly blame the band Mumford & Sons, they might be part of the problem.

The current economic climate is returning the practice of art to what it was 300 years ago—a rich fellow’s diversion, a pleasant recreation for those who can afford it, rather than the cultural imperative it should be.

William Giraldi's review of Scott Timberg's book Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class proves a great companion to Maconie's complaint. He explores how both market forces and technology are starving artists, making the middle class artist increasingly rare.

This week is Valentine's Day, so if you're feeling especially romantic and creative, the Poetry Foundation tells you How to Write Love Poems. It's an older piece, but love and good writing age well. 

Recaps of last night's Grammy awards are plentiful, so I will just leave you with a link to Beyonce singing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," originally written by Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey.

Maria Bowler is the former assistant digital editor of Commonweal. 

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