Wednesday Night #1850

Written by  //  August 23, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

1850 – a highly significant year in light of current events. In the U.S., the Compromise of 1850 became law.
Note:
The animation of the changes in the USA that lurks in the 1850 Compromise link is fascinating. In case you missed it, here it is!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise_of_1850#/media/File:US_Slave_Free_1789-1861.gif

Once again over the weekend, the western world was shocked by jihadi terrorist attacks – this time in Barcelona and the town of Cambrils in Catalonia and another in the Finnish town of Turku. In both countries, the police responded with alacrity and efficiency; the terrorists are either dead or apprehended.ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Spanish attacks. In the case of  Turku, the suspect seems to have been a frustrated asylum seeker. Much is being made of authorities’ difficulties in identifying and thwarting attacks that use vans as the weapon of choice [As Vehicle Attacks Rise, an Ordinary Object Becomes an Instrument of Fear] . While we of course are saddened by and deplore all such events, we would recommend Gwynne Dyer’s most recent opinion piece Terrorism – a sense of proportion in which he reminds the reader “the priority is not to turn against Muslim communities in the West – because it’s wrong to blame millions of people for the actions of a few hundred gullible, attention-seeking young men, but also because that’s exactly what the Islamic State propagandists want people in the West to do.”

A little over a week ago, Cleo Paskal wrote about the Doklam stand-off, sending some of us to consult our maps, Al Jazeera is also calling attention to the situation “A border dispute high in the Himalayas puts the decades long “cold peace” between India and China under severe strain’

Amidst the blanket coverage of Monday’s eclipse, The Atlantic offers an entertaining – and instructive – history of eclipse chasers since Revolutionary times America in the Shadows -The nation’s dogged attempts to chase eclipses follow its own haphazard maturation . Some extraordinary photos have been published, but our favorite is perhaps The International Space Station just pulled off the photobomb of a lifetime Captured by NASA photographer Joel Kowsky, perfectly timed images show a tiny ISS passing in front of the sun.

UPDATE: Trump tells campaign rally that NAFTA negotiations will likely fail
At times going off-script for long durations, Trump also said he “personally” believes that the U.S. will end up terminating NAFTA at some point, and that efforts to renegotiate the deal will fail.

NAFTA negotiators from Canada, the United States and Mexico wrapped up the first round of talks on Sunday. Two of the most contentious topics that came up were gaining access to government procurement contracts and the trade deal’s dispute-resolution process. Talks continue in Mexico City September 1 to 5. Stay tuned.
Former Canadian diplomat and CD Howe senior fellow Lawrence Herman suggests Canada should prepare for life without NAFTA. It is well worth reading.
Meanwhile, as Trump continues to talk about the Mexican wall, an increasing number of voices argue against it. Recently, Market Watch published Deepak Chopra’s Trump’s border wall with Mexico will kill U.S. jobs, business, environment in which he underlines that “the enhanced border wall may result in a trade war that would negatively affect U.S. consumers. Mexico is the third-largest trading partner of the United States. American businesses export $231 billion in goods to Mexico annually, and the overall trade number is $525 billion.”

China’s Bitmain dominates bitcoin mining. Now it wants to cash in on artificial intelligence

The major part of Trump’s speech on Afghanistan was likely crafted in part by John Kelly, who no doubt also insisted on no deviation from the teleprompter. As almost every commentator has pointed out, there was not much new, except for the references to Pakistan and India. The Washington Post has an annotated version that notes “This is a new, and potentially significant, development in the U.S.’s Afghanistan policy, to go after Pakistan more forcefully for harboring terrorists.” Mr. Trump’s statement about India “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.” is greeted with the scornful comment “The President seems to be unappreciative – or unknowing? – of the significant contributions India has made post-9/11 to development of infrastructure and civil society development in Afghanistan. And inventing a link between our bilateral trade deficit with India and India’s contribution to Afghan stability is preposterous.”
Steve Bannon – gone, but by no means forgotten.Already, back at the helm of Breitbart, he is making life miserable for the White House Bannon’s Breitbart tears into Trump after Afghanistan speech  If you can bear any more on the topic of his departure Bannon Was Set for a Graceful Exit. Then Came Charlottesville. is a pretty complete account.
Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30
Presidential travel for Trump and the first lady — who fly to their oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., and to their golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on many weekends — has added costs for taxpayers and complications for the government. The Secret Service also must provide protection for Trump’s four adult children. Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense. We wonder whether the Secret Service should be required to protect the older Trump sons, who have no official connection to the administration and are running around the world on family business, or else on family holidays.
One last item on the Trump family. Robert Reich, whose posts we follow assiduously recently called attention to the singularly heartless treatment of tenants of the less-known Kushner real estate empire. This reminded us of the lengthy piece in the New York Times Magazine in May Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire

Last week, we drew your attention to The shifting history of Confederate monuments. Since then, Montreal has had its own moment of chagrin and promptly removed a plaque ‘honouring’ Jefferson Davis’ brief visit to our city. And now, comes a call from writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch for the removal of a statue of Horatio Nelson (Toppling statues? Here’s why Nelson’s column should be next)and a reminder that despite student protests, Oxford University’s statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes has not been taken down; and Bristol still celebrates its notorious slaver Edward Colston.

Of course, all of these events pale by comparison to the fuss as  Brits bid bye-bye to Big Ben’s bonging. Big Ben bongs sound for final time for four years  Silencing the clock has upset right-leaning politicians and media. The bongs of London’s Big Ben were silenced Monday  for four years, so repairs could be undertaken on the structure. Some MPs mourned. Their colleagues told them to get a grip. [What Will Britain Do Without Big Ben’s Bongs? Likely, Just Carry On]

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