Wednesday Night #1449

Reminder: Although relatively little has been done to publicize the event, we draw your attention to the presence of the Olympic Torch Relay in Westmount on Thursday (the 10th), beginning at 5:47PM at City Hall (we might ask how it arrived in Westmount if it is beginning at City Hall). The City has installed street banners along the route. The torchbearer will leave City Hall after a brief ceremony, and will run east along Sherbrooke, eventually ending in Old Montreal for the day. We have followed the Torch Relay, thanks to inspirational messages from one of the earliest Torch bearers, and hope that Westmount will match the enthusiasm of the many smaller communities that have welcomed the event. [We are pleased that a deal was worked out to allow the local Peacekeepers to relieve the RCMP for escort duty in Kahnawake, thereby allowing a happy ending to the story, and we will refrain from comments about the origins of the dispute]

The Climate Change Conference – with its obscene impact on the environment (1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges, 40,548 tons of CO2) of Copenhagen and poor little Denmark, and apparently ideal incubation conditions for any and all varieties of flu – is in its early period of posturing, prior to staking out positions, which will eventually be succeeded by earnest negotiations (at least by some). Therefore we believe that it is premature to devote too much time to the bursts of news flashes that will likely prove to be either premature or highly irrelevant. Thus, we will postpone any in-depth discussion to next week, when the crunch will be on, and the following one, when the sound and fury may have died down.

At least one Wednesday Nighter will be there – As a leading climate security expert, Cleo Paskal will be participating in Delivering Climate Security a (side event) panel on December 17th. We will hope for a personal account on December 23rd, when she returns to Montreal. We promise not to question her too closely about her carbon footprint.
Update: Felix von Geyer has just received his press credentials and flies out on Wednesday morning. We have requested dispatches from the field.

On a related topic – Paul Krugman and Jim Hansen have an interesting debate on the relative merits of cap-and-trade versus carbon tax in the December 7 New York Times.

On a less serious note, Terry Jones comments that DC is doing lots of global warming with yak yak over the Salehis — who may yet rue the day that they succeeded [in crashing the White House dinner].

Leaving aside THE topics dominating media, we offer some other tidbits for consideration.

The Iranian protesters have returned to the news. This week, though not as large as those that broke out after the re-election of Ahmadinejad, they were mirrored by rallies in ethnic Kurdish and Azeri regions. Those areas frequently have clashed with the regime in Tehran but have largely abstained from the election-related movement to this point. Los Angeles Times (12/8) , The New York Times (12/7) , The Wall Street Journal (12/8) There’s an interesting interview in the National Post with former Mossad head, Efraim Halevy, in which he states his opinion that Iran has been weakened and that the announcement that 10 more nuclear installations are to be built is mere bravado.

John Evdokias has forwarded the piece from Transparency International [chaired by Canada’s Huguette Labelle] Corruption threatens global economic recovery — As the world economy begins to register a tentative recovery and some nations continue to wrestle with ongoing conflict and insecurity, it is clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption, according to Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a measure of domestic, public sector corruption released today.
John’s comment: “An attempt to empirically demonstrate, something we all know”

Stephen Harper’s trip to China appears to have been successful – looks like Canada will now be flooded with Chinese tourists – any guesses what their main interests will be. Certainly not the Edmonton Mall (remember the Japanese?) which is a faint echo of the entire cities given over to consumerism in China. Bans on beef imports to Hong Kong and pork products imports to China have been lifted (worth a total of +/- $110 million) Hong Kong and Canada also signed a youth mobility agreement (effective March 2010) that will allow those 18 to 30 years old to work in either country for up to one year. Finally, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said that after meeting Chinese officials, he was confident China could soon begin importing Canadian canola oil. The more intriguing item is mention of negotiating a foreign investment protection agreement that would give Chinese investors similar legal rights to local investors. Q. Do those rights come with responsibilities?

Several Wednesday Nighters have conducted an active e-mail debate over the Bloomberg story Gold Can’t Beat Checking Accounts 30 Years After Peak The last word goes to Tony Deutsch: Wait until interest rates start to rise seriously, the advantage of that bank account will widen!

Aviation and air travel being among our favourite topics, we could not resist these items:
Jet-setting swan takes off for blind date
An injured swan from Alberta will soon be flying across the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver to hook up with a potential new mate. Fortunately for the injured swan, it won’t have to work too hard to cross the mountains – it will be flying Air Canada, after the airline volunteered to fly the recovering bird. – Some experienced travellers might think the swan would be better off under its own steam.
One of the side effects of the Dubai World financial problems is their effect on  Airbus and Boeing, Too
And for those who hanker for the Star Trek experience rather than that of Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the first commercial spaceship

Gifts, Glitz and Guilt
As requests for help arrive daily – if not hourly – from all kinds of meritorious groups, we have christened this the season of the three Gs – Gifts, Glitz, and Guilt. Some choices must be made and often they are agonizing – which food bank deserves our support and will do the most good? Do we support the local community drives, the much wider city or national ones, or the international organizations’ work in far-away places that we have never been, or long to return to? There are some easy solutions that cost you nothing. At the international level, a number of sites let you click daily to help your cause(s) obtain donations from major sponsors – Here is one – there are many others.

But Ginette Sauvé Frankel has brought to our attention 2nd Act, an endeavour at the local level that we are happy to endorse and urge you to do likewise. She writes:
2nd Act is in the Semi-Finals of the AVIVA Community Fund —
2nd Act offers a great program using theater to help kids in high school who are at risk of dropping out.
It helps to engage and focus them, and contribute to other students. (More about 2nd Act at http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf1789)
This non-profit organization based in Montreal needs all the support we can give it. It surely could use the funding.
Please vote from all your e-mail addresses every day. (Use the link above) You only need to register once per e-mail address; then sign in every day to vote.
Let’s create a tsunami of support for 2nd Act.
PLEASE ask everyone in your network (colleagues, friends, family) to support them and vote everyday.

Our last item of the day is in the “what goes around comes around” category Vinyl Records and Turntables Are Gaining Sales

We look forward to having you come around to Wednesday Night, where a plethora of gift-wrapped ideas (no glitz, no guilt) await you. Yes, we do know that there’s major snow expected – your reindeer and sled dogs are welcome.

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