Wednesday Night #1524

Events of the past weeks have led us to reflect on whether life was not much more agreeable and certainly less stressful in the days when one awaited the arrival of the packet boat and/or clipper ship for the news from away, which arrived in a (dated) bundle, and by then was generally old enough that there was not much point in worrying about it unduly. Since the modern ‘invention’ – actually rediscovery – of the carrier pigeon’s use and the subsequent rapid technological advances in communications, the news junky’s life has been far more entertaining, although now bordering on overwhelming. And the ‘news’ has become less reliable.

Whether dealing with the insane projections of election winners and losers based on the outcomes of a limited number of polls (What happened in Westmount – Ville Marie?) or the revelations of DSK’s alleged sex assault (the Telegraph reports that according to the French newspaper Le Post, Jonathan Pinet, a political science student, tweeted the news of the arrest before it had even happened), we are becoming victims of inaccurate and/or false information and ill-considered commentary. Addicted as we are to most forms of communication, in moments of desperation we are about ready to surrender to the temptation of unplugging ourselves.

Fear not, it won’t happen immediately, thus, we can again serve up a range of topics for your reading and debating pleasure.

Starting with the U.S. – Donald Trump has announced that he will not run for the presidency, thus depriving the country of his much vaunted (at least by him) business skills on the same day Secretary of the Treasury Geithner signalled that the country has reached its debt limit of $14.29 trillion. And, as in Canada, floods  and wildfires continue to wreak havoc. Beyond those woes, and the continuing coverage of the souring of U.S. relations with Pakistan, we were intrigued and heartened by the news that the U.S. is in the process of formulating a handbook spelling out the steps its military could take to protect civilians the world over from mass atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide. According to the Wall Street Journal story “The emerging doctrine is a blueprint for an interventionist foreign policy that places such ideas as “responsibility to protect” on a par with the principles of realpolitik”.

Canadians have now turned their full attention to the devastating natural disasters in Manitoba and to a lesser degree Quebec (floods) and Alberta (wildfires that have destroyed the town of Slave Lake  and forced shutdown of tarsands operations) – the impact on humans, habitat, agriculture, the national economy, not to mention the longer-term environmental concerns  all have yet to be calculated and may not be fully evident for months, even years, to come.
Concerns about the federal election results pale in comparison. However, with the announcement that Parliament will return on June 2nd , the retirement of Supreme Court Justices Binnie and Charron – with more to come -, and conjecture about the make-up of the new cabinet, political aficionados will have much to twitter (if not tweet) about. It would be nice to think that now that he has his majority and does not owe anything to Quebec, and that Jon Stewart mocks Quebec town of Asbestos, Mr. Harper might revisit the issue of asbestos exports and Canada’s blocking of the Rotterdam Convention provisions. But that is probably as much of a pipe dream as a decent environmental policy from this government.
Comment appears to have died down – momentarily? – regarding the youth and inexperience of many NDP candidates and perhaps some readers have paid attention to the article Grow up and treat young MPs with respect We look forward to comments from Liam and some of the younger Wednesday Nighters.

A few items of international import:

Lee Kuan Yew steps down (sort-of) and for the first time in 52 years he will not be part of the Singapore government (though he will still be a backbencher); the Economist covers it well.

Colonel Gaddafi has set a new standard of vileness, building a children’s playground on top of his command bunker; for that alone the ICC is right to go after him

The fallout from the Strauss-Kahn story for the IMF, the world economy and for the European bailouts – can his shoes be filled? Not to mention for French politics (Adam Gopnik has two good pieces in The New Yorker: The D.S.K. Affair and D.S.K.: French Lives, French Laws). In our view, this story will have legs for some time.

The Christian Science Monitor has published a long, thoughtful piece “Global doors slam shut on immigrants — While Arizona’s anti-immigrant law gets all the attention, countries around the world are pursuing tough immigration polices on a scale rarely seen in history.” Need we point out that Canada would do well to examine this carefully?

We always try to conclude with something light and/or diverting. This week’s offering comes via Ion Valaskakis:
Book Review – Among the Truthers – By Jonathan Kay
A journalist travels the world of conspiracy theories, about everything from President Obama’s birthplace to 9/11 to vaccines.
It’s a good review of what sounds like an intriguing book. How can anyone resist conspiracy theories (especially with all those floating about DSK this week)?

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