Wednesday Night #1834

Written by  //  May 3, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

It has been an eventful week and we are sure that none of you needs to be told that the world has now survived Donald Trump’s first 100 days – a milestone at which he has both scoffed and celebrated with undue puffery.

Project Syndicate offers a collection of essays by the best and brightest, including Jeffrey Sachs, Ian Buruma, Nina Khrushcheva, and other Project Syndicate commentators who survey an altered US and global terrain. under the title One Hundred Days of Disquietude
President Donald Trump’s chaotic and ineffective first 100 days in office seem to have vindicated even his harshest critics. US policymaking has been rendered inscrutable and unpredictable to almost everyone – including, perhaps, to the president himself.

The White House Correspondents’ Annual Dinner came and went, with some suggesting that it was a better event in the absence of Mr. Trump and his coterie, as well as numerous celebrities. The NYT (which does not attend) headlines their story For Journalists, Annual Dinner Serves Up Catharsis and Resolve.

As the round-2 battle intensifies, Many Mélenchon voters reject Macron in presidential runoff -Recent opinion polls, however, suggest half of the French far-left candidate’s supporters will back the centrist front-runner. Meanwhile, Yanis Varoufakis endorses Macron in French presidential race
The Greek ex-finance minister wrote that it was a ‘veritable mystery’ why leftist leaders had not yet endorsed Macron.
Another view of the French election is presented by Guy Millière, professor at the University of Paris, who writes for The Gatestone Institute (chaired by none other than John Bolton) that Emmanuel Macron, [is] a Disaster

Trade is on many minds. Donald Trump’s reversal (for the moment) on NAFTA is a relief, but talks this summer will not be easy. See Mexico and Canada ‘in this together’ on NAFTA, amid Trump confusion for a good run-down of the current situation (and we stress ‘current’).
Meanwhile, TPP is back on the agenda. According to The Financial Post, “Negotiators and senior trade officials from 11 Pacific Rim nations gathered in Toronto Tuesday to discuss whether it’s possible to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The goal of the preliminary talks, which conclude Wednesday, is to determine if their countries’ trade ministers should pursue a revival of the deal at a meeting in Vietnam later this month.”

The Atlantic Daily reports  on Trump vs. Congress: As lawmakers prepare to vote on a budget deal that rejects many of his proposed cuts, President Trump voiced his displeasure on Twitter, calling for a government shutdown in September—though if he doesn’t sign the bill, he could shut down the government himself this week. GOP leaders aren’t following Trump’s instructions on taxes either: They’re drafting a plan that’s designed not to add to the long-term deficit, which means they’ll have to ignore the sweeping cuts he’s recommended. And Congress has refused to fund Trump’s wall on the Mexican border; even so, the White House just announced a plan to improve the existing fence.
Bloomberg’s report on Mr. Trump’s interview with Bloomberg News gives a good summary of what is at stake in the Omnibus Spending Bill and his acceptance of it (but like everything else, that could change).
The Quartz article Almost everything Republicans get wrong about the economy started with a cocktail napkin in 1974 has elicited some entertaining comments from some of our economists.

The situation with North Korea does not seem to be improving and many are puzzled, if not angered, by Donald Trump’s statement that he would be ‘honored’ to meet Kim Jong Un under ‘right circumstances’. There appears to be some hope that China will work with the U.S. to curb Kim, but, as Steve Mollman points out: “Beijing, like Washington, doesn’t want to see its unpredictable neighbor armed to the teeth with nuclear-tipped missiles. But Beijing also wants to avoid a government collapse in North Korea, or applying so much pressure that Kim becomes nervous enough to start a conflict. Either scenario could result in millions of impoverished North Koreans streaming across the border into China.”

On top of Trump’s statement about meeting Kim, he has seemingly embraced the odious Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte whom he has now invited “to the White House to discuss the importance of the Philippine-United States alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction.” As Adrian Chen writes in The New Yorker: “His affection for a variety of strongmen, from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Vladimir Putin to Duterte, is the flip side of his consistent disdain for internationalist institutions and liberal values that might impinge on a leader’s bold initiatives. Trump’s public praise of Duterte, who once said he did not “give a shit” about human rights, can be seen as perhaps his most thorough rejection of the liberal international order that Steve Bannon and the still influential, if increasingly marginalized, economic-nationalist wing of the Trump White House seek to overturn.”

We all need some positive news these days and This floating medical clinic offers a lifeline for the indigenous poor of the Amazon qualifies. The Igaraçu is part of a project of the Brazilian government’s “basic river health unit” system, which provides primary care to the country’s indigenous tribes.

In another health-related story, Congress Totally Ignored Trump’s Cuts to NIH Funding – The president had proposed slicing billions of dollars from the premier research agency. “Lawmakers have demonstrated how little they cared for the administration’s plans for NIH. The omnibus, which spells out funding between now and the end of this fiscal year, allocates an additional $2 billion to the agency. That figure represents a rebuke of the president’s cuts. But it also lets lawmakers continue to do what they wanted all along: to replace a recent pattern of boom-and-bust funding with steady funding increases year after year.”
Of course, the dark flip side of that positive development is Republican Blurts Out That Sick People Don’t Deserve Affordable Care.

We are sorry to have missed the Munk Debate last Friday on the Future of Geopolitics – Be it resolved, the liberal international order is over. The Globe & Mail interview with the two speakers sort of makes up for it.

And in conclusion, this valuable piece of advice The psychological importance of wasting time
“The problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks. We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.
Instead, there’s a tendency to turn to the least fulfilling tendency of them all: Sitting at our desk, in front of our computer, browsing websites and contributing to neither our happiness nor our productivity.”

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