Wednesday Night #1812

Written by  //  November 30, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As always, Gerald presented a number of memorable events from the year 1812. The obvious one being the Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. He also mentioned that there were two wars of 1812, the first being the conflict between America and Britain (including Canada) known as The War of 1812,and the second, the Peninsular War (part of the Napoleonic wars). The latter created an unusual situation when the Portuguese emperor fled to Brazil and his son eventually ruled over the Empire of Brazil.

In his always entertaining recital of events, he did, however, overlook the battle of Tippecanoe, which led eventually to the presidency of General William Henry Harrison who won by a majority of less than 150,000, but swept the Electoral College, 234 to 60. (has a familiar ring).
1812 also  marked the first mention of ‘gerrymandering’, named for Congressman Gerry of Massachusetts.

Mention that Lord Byron gives his first address as a member of the House of Lords, in defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire inspired a lively exchange about the Luddites

Tony Deutsch added that Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874.

P R O L O G U E

To rephrase the saying, November is going out like a lion. The past week has certainly been anything but tranquil.

In alphabetical order (as all are important).

Aleppo The city is falling to the coalition of Syrian government, Russian and Iranian forces. The situation for civilians is dire. Reports from those fleeing the city are heartbreaking. The Last Hospital In Eastern Aleppo Is No More  It may be a Pyrrhic victory, however, according to two former U.S. ambassadors For Bashar al-Assad, Winning the Syrian War May Lead to New Troubles
In Iraq, meanwhile, the battle for Mosul continues Block by Block and the Iraqi Army braces for the bloodiest phase of the fight. It is the aftermath of the campaign against ISIS that is most worrisome. ISIS has been a catastrophe for Sunnis. Many have suffered under the Islamic State, but the misery inflicted on Sunnis will resonate for generations. the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Fidel Castro’s death last Friday has prompted widely varied reactions from around the world. PM Justin Trudeau has been castigated for his effusive message by such as Terry Glavin (Trudeau’s turn from cool to laughing stock) and mocked by Tweeters (#TrudeauEulogies trends after controversial Castro statement) , however, Jeremy Kinsman’s perspective is more reasoned  and sympathetic (Fidel’s death a reminder of the special Canada-Cuba bond). Finally,CNN looks at What Castro funeral RSVPs say about the world – an unlikely mix of world leaders, royalty, Marxist guerillas and Hollywood actors – even Robert Mugabe.

Trudeau & pipelines The waiting is over with Tuesday’s announcement that Trudeau Approves Kinder Morgan Plan, Rejects Northern Gateway Pipeline. And, as Campbell Clark notes in the Globe & Mail Trudeau didn’t just approve Trans Mountain, he put his weight behind it. Reaction has been swift and we can expect more in the days to come. We will be following this issue closely -no doubt for years to come.
Interesting footnote: Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway is to visit the Alberta oil sands the week before the U.S. president-elect is sworn in to office, a visit serving both as a chance to pitch his administration on the province’s energy industry and as a fundraiser for local conservatives. She is scheduled to visit Fort McMurray and “hold talks with Alberta business leaders” at a private fundraising dinner Jan. 12, according to a statement released by the Alberta Prosperity Fund.

Trump Transition
No lack of controversy, whether it be over the costly security nightmare and inconvenience to almost everyone of ensuring the Trump family’s safety at Trump Tower, the unresolved issues of the ties between the Trump Organization and the Trump White House (A recipe for scandal’: Trump conflicts of interest point to constitutional crisis)  or the selection of key staff and cabinet members. Vox notes that “having won the presidency, Trump surrounded himself with the staffers, advisers, and advocates he grew comfortable with during the campaign. He has not reached outside his circle for the best people, or even new people. And he has not surrounded himself with political veterans who have the governing experience he doesn’t, as Barack Obama did.” The analysis of the problems and potential chaos the Trump presidency will face goes on. “Trump begins in worse shape than any of these leaders. The improbability of his victory is leading to its overestimation. He won the Electoral College, but he lost the popular vote. His party kept the House and the Senate but lost seats in both. He’ll take office with the lowest approval rating of any American president since the advent of polling. And then he’ll actually have to govern the country, navigate the complex dynamics of the legislative process, manage international crises, calm an opposition that hates and fears him, negotiate with Republican “allies” who want to use his presidency as a vessel for their agenda, withstand scandals and investigations, and impress voters who believed him when he said he could make America great again and are now looking for results.”
FiveThirtyEight offers a chatty, but thoughtful exchange on What Do Trump’s Cabinet Picks Say About His Presidency?. It is worth a read.

Words matter and so does truth
Salon sums it up: From truthiness to post-truth, just in time for Donald Trump: Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year should scare the hell out of you
Donald Trump’s continues the tsunami of statements, many conveyed by tweets, and either creating or conveying fake news or outright falsehoods. Never before – at least in our memory – has a political figure been so indifferent to the truth. This has given rise to a new media crusade (dare we say jihad?), spearheaded by The Atlantic. The Atlantic is advising its media peers to call him out. How to Deal With the Lies of Donald Trump: Guidelines for the Media and A More Detailed Guide to Dealing With Trump’s Lies
Over at Think Progress, senior editor Ned Resnikoff writes Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy. — Donald Trump is winning the war on reality. Welcome to the age of nightmares. He underlines that “He tells lies that are seemingly random, frequently inconsistent, and often plainly ridiculous. He says or tweets things on the record and then denies having ever said them. He contradicts documented fact and then disregards anyone who points out the inaccuracies. He even lies when he has no discernible reason to do so — and then turns around and tells another lie that flies in the face of the previous one.”
After succumbing briefly to the quasi charm offensive launched during Trump’s meeting with the publisher and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper’s offices, the New York Times has joined the campaign with headlines like Donald Trump’s Lies About the Popular Vote
Meanwhile, in the wake of the constant derogatory comments about the media from the Trump camp, Christiane Amanpour decries “the current hostile climate for reporters in the United States, including the rise of so-called fake news, [which] has led to an ‘existential crisis’ for journalists, a “threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession.”
Even Maclean’s is weighing in: Don’t allow the ‘alt-right’ to disguise hate in linguistic semanticsWords are being stripped of meaning. But the brawl over words like ‘alt-right’ and ‘ilk’ can make it hard to focus on the fights that really matter
For more see Media Matters 2016

And locally:
Quebec healthcare
Quebec is to spend extra $20 million to reduce surgery backlogs
Before cheering the news that the funding will allow hospitals to run a total of 18 operating rooms across Quebec that had been sitting idle for lack of funds, best to decipher exactly what strings are attached and what Minister Barrette means when he says that hospitals must demonstrate that they can balance their budgets, especially when warning the MUHC “If they reflect correctly, they will get the money.”

Montreal reverses a really bad decision
Guido Nincheri name will stay on Montreal park

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