Wednesday Night #1862

Written by  //  November 15, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As Valérie Plante is sworn in as Mayor of Montreal, she faces challenges including the budget shortfall she inherited. There are concerns about her bench strength with respect to the Executive Committee. Rumors abound and some send shudders.

Cities are ever-more important in the world governance web as illustrated by Kemal Derviş  in  Democracy Beyond the Nation-State. He argues that “In many countries, if not most, cities are the centers of innovation and progress, as the promise of agglomeration, economies of scale, and positive spillovers attract high-performing firms. Citizens feel close to their municipal governments and proud of their cities, but their pride in their identity does not have the damaging qualities of nationalism.”

“It’s been very epic.” – as opposed to just a little bit epic?
As Donald Trump returns from his first trip to Asia, many observers are breathing a sigh of relief that he did not do anything too awful, but on the other hand, “After a marathon series of bilateral meetings, lavish receptions and photo-ops, the president failed to extract major new concessions from Asian leaders on his twin goals of arresting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and rebalancing America’s trade relationship with China and other nations in the region—and made next to no public reference to human rights, Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea or other touchy issues that have been raised in previous presidential visits.”  As one NYT report put it, Mr. Trump treated the trip as a test of his own charisma and stamina.

On a positive note, our friend, Uday Bhaskar,  writes from India that “the 12th East Asia Summit (EAS) currently underway in Manila saw the four-nation quadrilateral consultative process being revived by officials of the US, Japan, India and Australia on the sidelines” [Reading the Manila tea leaves] and even says something nice about Trump: “To his credit, President Trump, even while praising his Chinese counterpart Xi in an effusive manner endorsed the Japanese proposal to have a meeting of the quad at the officials level on the sidelines of the Manila summit.”

Naturally, there was controversy and confusion emanating from his meeting (or non-meeting) with Vladimir Putin, not to mention the baffling contradictory statements that ensued.[Trump careens off script on Russia after Putin meeting]

While questions continue about the Putin-Trump relationship, Andrey Piontkovsky believes that the Russian ploy to ensnare Donald Trump has backfired. Failure of Kremlin’s ‘Trump is Ours’ Plan Leading Some in Moscow to Rethink Ukraine Policy, Piontkovsky Says –The failure of Vladimir Putin to get a sit down with Donald Trump represents “the agony of [the Kremlin’s] ‘Trump is Ours’ special operation” and is leading some in Putin’s entourage to think about some kind of “hybrid capitulation” that both the US and the Russian people will accept.

In case you are thinking: same old, the new kid on the block aka M.B.S. – in Saudi Arabia – has sprung into action, alarming just about everyone.Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, gives a quietly scathing analysis of The Machiavellian Prince and does not hesitate to finger White House support as an important contribution to the current success of Salman Arabia’s policies which includes brinkmanship in Lebanon and the appalling situation in Yemen. Gwynne Dyer writes in his sarcastic The Middle East: Not enough wars yet
“When all the Arabs and the Israelis agree on one thing, people should pay attention. We should stop this Iranian takeover,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month. So we’re paying attention now, and we even know where the next war will start: Lebanon.

ZimbabweZimbabwe military says it’s seized power to stop ‘criminals’, President Mugabe safe — the situation is apparently ‘fluid’, however, as The Guardian’s Africa correspondent tweeted “once you get the guy in uniform on the TV then its a coup. especially when he says the president is “safe and sound”.” Sounds about right. Could a military takeover be any worse for the beleaguered country than Mugabe (or his wife)? Hard to believe.

On November 2, 1956,  Lester Pearson told the UN General Assembly that the world needed action, “not only to end the fighting but to make peace.” We wonder how Lester Pearson would react to today’s Canadian response. Canada is hosting the UN peacekeeping conference in Vancouver and is promising a host of initiatives including $15M trust fund. Among other things, sources tell CBC News that Wednesday’s plan will propose the establishment of a trust fund — worth approximately $15 million — from which troop-contributing countries can draw in order to increase the number of women soldiers and police officers within their ranks and deliver better training for those already in uniform. The announcement could overshadow the absence of firm commitment by Canada to specific mission. See: “Canada’s leadership in peacekeeping has been a source of national pride for 60 years, but will Ottawa commit to a serious reengagement?”

Two pieces of encouraging news from the medical world

U.S. approves digital pill that tracks when patients take it
(Reuters) – U.S. regulators have approved the first digital pill with an embedded sensor to track if patients are taking their medication properly, marking a significant step forward in the convergence of healthcare and technology.The medicine is a version of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s established drug Abilify for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, containing a tracking device developed by Proteus Digital Health. The system offers doctors an objective way to measure if patients are swallowing their pills on schedule, opening up a new avenue for monitoring medicine compliance that could be applied in other therapeutic areas.
and
Bill Gates makes $100 million personal investment to fight Alzheimer’s He is investing $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that brings together industry and government to seek treatments for the disease. He is investing another $50 million in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer’s research.
Less encouraging is news of the MUHC where there already seems to be a squabble brewing at the newly constituted Board and still no CEO after 14 months.

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