Wednesday Night #1848

Written by  //  August 9, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Over the past months, we have frequently commented on the grimness of the news, but the confrontation between North Korea and the United States, the war of words between  the two mad men – Trump and Kim Jong-un – is more terrifying than anything in recent memory.  Mr. Trump has said North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the U.S. and Pyongyang’s defiance has politicians in Japan and South Korea eyeing more powerful weapons, raising the prospect of a regional arms race. Reuters reports that North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. North Korea also accused the United States of devising a “preventive war” and said in another statement that any plans to execute this would be met with an “all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the U.S. mainland”.

Chaos reigns in Venezuela where the newly-constituted Venezuelan assembly has declared itself superior to all other branches of government and chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, previously a loyalist but now a fierce critic of president Nicolás Maduro, was forcibly removed from office.

For Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, a legal net tightens and talk turns to an agile political survivor’s possible demise. Authorities are still building a case or cases against the prime minister, and legal experts say the filing of charges could still be months away. But events of recent days, analysts say, have dramatically heightened the eventual likelihood of an unprecedented public spectacle: the indictment of a sitting Israeli prime minister, the longest-serving since founding father David Ben-Gurion. Last week, police stated formally for the first time that Netanyahu was suspected of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Then bombshell news broke: the prime minister’s Los Angeles-born former chief of staff Ari Harow, a onetime close confidant of the prime minister, had turned state’s witness to avoid jail time on charges stemming from his business dealings.

In Brexit news, Deputy governor of the Bank of England Sam Woods has warned that the task of regulating the City after Brexit will put a strain on its ability to police the financial sector. Woods did not provide details of the individual plans the Bank had demanded by 14 July. However, firms have begun to reveal how they intend to cope with the UK’s exit from the EU. For instance, RBS is preparing to expand in Amsterdam; Barclays and Bank of America are moving staff to Dublin; while Morgan Stanley has picked Frankfurt

We have our fingers crossed that the outcome of the vote in Kenya (Kenya: Polls close in tightly contested elections) will be peaceful and positive. Noted John Kerry’s presence among the observers. To win the election outright, either presidential candidate must garner at least 50 percent of the votes, plus one. The winning candidate must also receive at least 25 percent of the votes in half of Kenya’s 47 counties to prevent a second round of voting.

No matter how  serious the international situation, events in Washington will continue to dominate the news and foremost is anything related to special counsel Robert Mueller III. Please follow the link and scroll down to see a post from a former student at St. Paul’s School in which he describes the noblesse oblige that guides Mr. Mueller and his contemporaries.

With Congress in recess, pundits are turning to the strong possibility that Mike Pence is eyeing a bid for the presidency in 2020 and examining Who’s worse for the nation — Trump or Pence? [Pence]”is predictable, steadfast and experienced, but not conventional. His views, especially regarding social and cultural issues, are to the right of the right. He is famously antiabortion, recommends abstinence as the entire key to sex education and has taken the unique view that condoms are useless in AIDS prevention. As for global warming, back in 2000 he said it “is a myth.” Be warned. Or, be cheered by Frank Bruni’s take: “On some level, he must realize that he’s in a no-win situation. Without Trump he’s nothing. With Trump he’s on a runaway train that he can’t steer or brake. If it doesn’t crash, Trump can scream down the tracks straight through 2020. If it does, Pence will be one of the casualties. So why has Pence formed a political action committee, the only sitting vice president ever to do so? Why is he taking all these meetings, building all these bridges? I guess there could be some imaginable future in which Trump falls and Pence is left standing strong enough to soldier on. But mostly he’s in denial, and he’s living very dangerously.”

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report
The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. It was uploaded to a nonprofit internet digital library in January but received little attention until it was published by The New York Times. Climate Report Could Force Trump to Choose Between Science and His Base
We don’t hold up much hope after seeing the report that US federal department is censoring use of term ‘climate change’ – a series of emails show staff at Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service advised to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead. We can only comment “Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. … “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

There has been a flurry of reports about the effect of smartphone technology and video games on the socialization – and even the brainpower of young people (Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? and Are smartphones making a generation unhappy?)
But we submit that it is also worth considering and debating whether it is true that it is Hard to Make Friends Over 30? We are not convinced. While childhood (or university friends) share a number of common memories and experiences, often we drift apart, geographically, socially and intellectually. We believe that as we grow older we seek out different qualities in our friendships, bonding over common experiences and concerns, whether professional, or family-related, or initiated by shared activities , e.g. study groups, volunteer organizations, dog walking (or Wednesday Night),  and that encounters through such activities can foster deep relationships among new friends (of all ages) at later stages of life.  We would add that in many cases these may be enhanced through social media. How say you?

On a lighter note:

The Clintons – joining the refugees/asylum seekers?
Clinton family to take over Manoir Hovey in Quebec’s Eastern Townships
Bill & Hillary are coming with Chelsea and their two grand children. Are they sure they will be allowed back into the U.S.?

Only on the Left Coast?
Residents of an exclusive San Francisco street didn’t pay their taxes. So someone bought their street.
An investor snatched up a street of mega-mansions for $90,000.
The Presidio Homeowners Association, which has maintained the space since 1905, blames a wrong address for the misdirected tax bills at $14 a year, bound for an accountant who had not worked for the association since the 1980s. The debt grew to $994, and the street was sold to recoup additional fees and penalties.

Finally a feel-good story about public transit.After getting stuck on Metro, fox takes bus to Île Sainte-Hélène

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