Wednesday Night #1303 – Induction of 2007 OWNs

Photos on Wednesday-Night.com

GUNG HAY FAT

Noting that Mr. Charest is honoring the tradition of Wednesday Night by calling the election this Wednesday, after unveiling the Liberal platform in plenty of time for intelligent debate on Wednesday Night, we nonetheless are pleased and proud to announce a special Wednesday Night event — the Induction of the 2007/25th anniversary/Year of the Pig members of the Order of Wednesday Night.
The new OWNs, selected by their peers in a process monitored by UN observers and declared to be in conformity with the democratic principles (such as they are) of Wednesday Night, have been notified of their elevation and have indicated their acceptance of this singular honor.
Bearing in mind the global importance of this event, the evening will commence with the Induction Ceremonies. We urge you to join in the celebration before turning to other matters (of lesser import) including the aforementioned election call à propos of which we are unable to resist a reference to an election campaign conducted in the very first days of the Year of the Pig.

The bumper crop of OWNs of 2007
There was a festive air about Wednesday Night 1303 with the presence of a number of members of the Order of Wednesday Night to witness the induction of six of the eight new members into the Order, namely, Louise Des Trois Maisons, Catherine Gillbert, Nobby Gilmore, Brian Morel, Desmond Morton and Roslyn Takeishi.
André Pasternac and Kimon Valaskakis were out of the country and will be inducted at a future date.
On behalf of the recipients, Brian Morel recalled:
My friend, Harry Mayerovitch designed the Wednesday Night symbol. Harry was a wonderful humanist. If you look at the Wednesday Night symbol, it has two little bits to it, the W and the flame. The W is for Harry’s words – and all our words that we speak, and the flame is for the passion that we bring to what we speak about.

The market

Amid some concerns over the current prolonged bull market, the Toronto Stock Exchange target for this year remains at 14,000 partially accounted for by companies’ record buy-backs of their stock; a second important factor is that private equity funds have $750 billion to invest between now and September.
[Editor’s note: In a statement on February 23, the investment bank, Crosbie & Co., underlined that 2006 was a record year for mergers and acquisitions in Canada with the value of transactions rising to C$257 billion, and it may be expected that private equity firms, pension funds and other private investors may continue to drive mergers and acquisitions in Canada this year]

The market has been doing very well so far in New York, but unlike the T.S.E., appears to be heading for a possible correction. In Canada, it is anticipated that the market will continue to do well until June, after which we might see a sustained down leg during which the wise investor will take advantage of the resulting bargains.Despite the interdependence between Canada and the U.S., it is possible for the Canadian market to prosper while the American market declines, thanks to being at the height of the forty-year cycle of demand for resource stocks and Canada’s wealth of energy and minerals, especially gold, but investors remain overloaded with liquidity. However, the world economy has evolved in recent years and the amount of liquidity looking for a place to invest and continuing low interest rates should result in a continuing upward trend in the stock.
Gold is once again increasing in price (up $23 today) if not in value, as the world’s liquidity continues to look for a home.
[Editor’s note: Supporting this view, The Daily Reckoning Newsletter of February 23 carries this item: “All this excess liquidity has to go somewhere. … Anywhere it goes, it is bound to raise the price of gold – because gold has more durable value. Historically, it is the thing to which investors turn when they smell something fishy in all that liquidity. The bull market in gold probably has a lot further to run.”]
For one follower of military budgets, it is obvious that the United States cannot afford the arms required to maintain the strength of the military in Iraq and elsewhere.

Emerging markets are the engine of the world., and not only according to our favorite Wednesday Night fan. No less an authority than Forbes suggests “Emerging market economies are outpacing developed countries in the global economic recovery and may continue to do so for some time. Investors need to think globally”. The Chinese government has been unsuccessful in its attempt to reduce the rate of growth from 10%; India is growing by 8%; the overall average growth in emerging markets is 6.5%. These countries have young populations who have adopted the American Dream and many of these countries are concentrating on improving the education of their populations. Governments around the world, but especially China whose central bank now has foreign currency reserves of more than $1 trillion – most of it in U.S. dollars – and Taiwan billions, invested in U.S. Treasuries.

The Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative
In a combined effort, Canada will commit $111 million and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $28 million to developing a vaccine against HIV/AIDS. The HIV vaccine funding is expected to go toward research, testing, trials, manufacturing and distribution and a new facility to manufacture and test vaccines will be set up in Canada.
Although the initiative is most welcome and the objective laudable, the plan as presented appears to be, as yet, poorly defined, causing some concern. It was hoped that the successful development of a vaccine might lead to a “safe, effective, affordable and globally accessible” preventative measure. However, in a number of countries where a successful vaccine has the potential for being most valuable, current and past efforts have met with mixed results due to the practices, myths, religious and cultural beliefs of large pockets of the population.

CIDA
The best intentions of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have proven costly, frequently failing to produce the anticipated results. The report from the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade points out that, although since 1968, the agency has spent $12.4-billion on aid to sub-Saharan Africa, the standard of living in the region has declined over that period. This fact, coupled with other management problems within CIDA (11 ministers since 1989), has led to the recommendation that Canada must ” be more choosy” about where [and how] we spend our aid dollars.

Information Technology
The rate of technology continues to accelerate from the use of human fingers to calculate to the abacus to the punch-card loom to punch-card computers, machine language, to the incredible digital technology universally available today. Our youth is excited about the frequent advances in technology that provide them with rapidly increasing access to information on a day-long basis, but the concerns of many of those old enough to have witnessed the rapid explosion of access to information, remain the “artificiality of communication” and the isolation that appears to result. Highly complex and very necessary human contact appears to be rapidly being replaced by human-Blackberry or human-MP3 contact with results that have yet to be determined. Today, many individuals are introverted and isolated, spending their waking hours on the Internet, however, with wireless technology that enables one to move out of the confinement of the “work station” while still having access to the Internet, it is to be expected that people will return to more social contact and interaction.
Others point to the elitism of the new technologies – the creation of even more divide between the Third World and the developed world; however this is being diminished by the availability of broadband technology in remote parts of the world such as Amazonia.
Another aspect of the Internet and concurrent explosion of information technologies that bears more scrutiny on a future Wednesday Night is raised by The Independent in its piece, The Big Question: Does the Internet liberate or undermine democracy?

Neuroethics
With the explosion of information technology, there has appeared the transhumanist movement, which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. In turn, this in turn has spurred the rapid development Neuroethics, which “covers ethical problems raised by advances in functional neuroimaging, brain implants, brain-machine interfaces and psychopharmacology as well as by our growing understanding of the neural bases of behaviour, personality, consciousness and states of spiritual transcendence”, or as Wednesday Night’s OWN ethicist states more simply: the extent to which technology should be used to program the human brain.
The scope for ethical debate on the potential programming of the human brain is enormous. If, for instance, as may be possible, it is determined that there is a genetic basis for criminality, should an attempt be made to reprogram the brain of criminals?

We are off to the polls
The Québec election has been called and the media feeding frenzy has started. Even the Economist has weighed in with early analysis
The Liberals are looking forward to leading a second majority government despite the apparent surge in popularity of Mario Dumont, and the nature of Québec demographics and riding distribution. In order to win Québec, the Liberals need 7% more of the vote than other parties – a huge handicap – because of the uneven distribution of seats favouring the largely Francophone rural ridings (“The tyranny of the rurality”), with a relatively high percentage of the population supporting the P.Q. while Liberal support is concentrated in the largely Anglophone, heavily populated but statistically underrepresented, urban ridings. Québec elections have historically been decided in the rural regions and the Premier appears to have understood this and played his hand very well.
Forecasts around the table range from a small Liberal majority to a minority government as a result of vote splitting by Françoise David and Mario Dumont. The final outcome, however, will likely depend on the degree to which the anticipated disappointment in the leader of the Parti Québécois translates into support for the Liberals rather than for the Action Démocratique, the effect of the Harper government’s support for Jean Charest, as well as the percentage of Quebeckers – and whether from urban or regional areas – who actually vote, as opposed to those who express intentions to pollsters.

QUOTES OF THE EVENING
I think the genius of Wednesday Night is that people don’t simply talk to other people, they also listen We are trying to arrive at what is the right thing to do and that requires time, effort, agony AND humility
After the Québec budget, the Québec election … we will have a [small] majority Liberal government [in Québec] both the federal Liberals and federal Conservatives will be working for Charest. André Boisclair will disappear and the sovereignty banner will be carried by Gilles Duceppe
March 19 is the federal budget. It will be very positive for all provinces. We’ll have an election one month later and [the result will be] a big majority Conservative government
The teachers at the Université de Montréal are pushing separation – I am concerned that the younger generation is being brainwashed
Since 1887, years ending in seven have always had a bad ending starting sometime in August and ending sometime in October, including 1907 – sometimes referred to as the Crash of 07 – and 1987
There’s $139 million [for HIV/AIDS] floating around Ottawa. Everybody wants it, but nobody knows where it is or what it’s meant to do
We have about 20% of the world that cannot read, should we worry about people who use books too much?
We have become ‘information voyeurs’
The (Québec) budget gave $850 million to the regions in comparison with $140 million to the whole urban region on Montreal
Historically the Liberals are elected in Quebec when the Conservatives are in power in Ottawa, so I think Charest will win this campaign
Françoise David of Québec solidaire is going to split the vote and so will Mario Dumont: we’ll have a minority government

The Prologue

Among topics proposed:
The Liberal platform, particularly the unfreezing (albeit hardly a meltdown) of tuition fees
The resurgence of the threat to move the Shriners hospital out of Montreal – our first reading would indicate that the Shriners are totally justified in feeling betrayed by the failure of anyone connected with the MUHC to meet deadlines or make good on promises
The Kyoto Climate Change legislation and Mr. Harper’s initial reaction.
We are fascinated by the (new) Government’s inability to understand that when the Government of Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol two years ago, it did so as a country, not as a political party.
For a highly intelligent discussion of the implications of the legislation, we recommend the interview with David Keith, Canada Research Chair for Energy and the Environment and David Runnalls, President of the IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) on “The House”. The interview is in contrast to the hysterical note sounded by MP Jeff Watson suggesting that action to fight climate change could lead to suicides [we aren’t making this up]
A renewed interest in carbon emissions trading should make Glenn Goucher and our friends at the MSE very happy.
The Bush government has a parallel problem on its hands with the passage of the non-binding “statement of disapproval” of the President’s “surge” plan for Iraq.
The suggestion by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that CIDA should be disbanded following a report indicating that there is little to show for almost 38 years and billions of dollars spent on providing aid to Africa does not so far seem to be attracting much attention. (We found mention only in the Vancouver Sun and CBC.)
We would hope that the members of the Committee and all other concerned individuals might study the presentation to the World Bank by Parker Mitchell, Co-founder of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), occasional Wednesday Nighter, and son of David Mitchell OWN.
Michael Ignatieff has come out strongly in favor of the recommendation of the Senlis Council, which has called for a pilot project to study the licensing of the Afghan opium crop for medicinal purposes – a topic previously raised at Wednesday Night and which appears to us to make eminent sense.
Disturbing news from Venezuela of shortages in supermarkets of basic goods like sugar, pasteurized whole milk and meat
By Wednesday, there will, no doubt, be more – and different topics, so stay tuned! And, should you feel so inclined, the first wagers might be placed on the outcome of the Québec elections.

 

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