Wednesday Night #1911

Written by  //  October 24, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

UPDATE

Horrific news of explosive devices sent to the homes of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, plus one addressed to former CIA director John Brennan at CNN offices, and another to Former Attorney General Eric Holder. While it is too early to establish who is responsible, this is a sad result of the increasingly heated rhetoric led by the occupant of the White House and his allies.
Alexander Soros: The Hate That Is Consuming Us
Bombs sent to my father, George Soros, and to former President Obama and Hillary Clinton are a result of our politics of demonizing opponents.

Happy to confirm that Andrew Caddell will be with us this evening and looks forward to elaborating on his recent Hill Times column on the carbon tax proposals.

The Saudi saga continues to relentlessly dominate the news, as the story – or what the NYT editorial board refers to as  A Saudi Prince’s Fairy Tale – and The Economist dismisses as A brazenly absurd cover-up – changes day-to-day. Jeremy Kinsman sends along a link to his regular CTV session with Larry Haas in which they weigh in on the diplomatic fallout surrounding Jamal Khashoggi’s death and the United States’ plan to withdraw from a nuclear arms treaty with Russia with the comment “More Saudi melodrama/vaudeville, plus Bolton meets Putin – now there’s a duo!”
Summing up  his much anticipated speech on Tuesday, Bloomberg points out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t specifically mention in his big “naked truth” speech Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, “he laid out damning facts related to the Oct. 2 murder of Jamal Khashoggi  rejecting the Saudi version of events and asking leading questions, including about the location of the body. Erdogan said all indications are that what he called a “political killing” was planned and carried out by a team sent to Istanbul to murder the Washington Post columnist. He called on King Salman to hold all culprits to account, “from the highest to the lowest level.” Turkey will pursue the investigation to the end, Erdogan said. Those comments suggests that while Erdogan may be giving the Saudis a way out, he’s also leaving the door open to link the crime to the 33-year-old Crown Prince, known as MBS. Strategic media leaks by anonymous officials have implied that Erdogan has audio recordings he’s using to extract concessions from the deep pocketed Saudis, while also sending a message to the West that Saudi Arabia, under the de facto rule of MBS, is far from a reliable partner. As Benjamin Harvey writes, Erdogan is trying to turn the case into a catalyst for changing the balance of power in Saudi Arabia and regaining influence across the Middle East. Even Donald Trump seems to be backing off slightly from his unconditional support of the Crown Prince and all things Saudi.

The latest on Brexit. Reuters reports that Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to clinch a deal at the EU summit last week and her decision to signal the possibility of extending a post-Brexit transition period, keeping Britain under EU governance with no say in it, to help end the deadlock has angered both hardline supporters of Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers. On Wednesday, she will address Conservative Party lawmakers at a private meeting after anger at her Brexit negotiating strategy prompted some of them to discuss toppling her.

Cleo Paskal sends along Australia and New Zealand Must Rethink Their Approach to Pacific Trade – Canberra and Wellington’s misguided policies towards Pacific island economies will undermine their relationships and open the region to further influence from China , her recent presentation at a Chatham House discussion. As always, her well-informed analysis is a must-read.

Afghanistan held its long-delayed elections last Saturday despite violence and disruptions in polling places.

We are now only two weeks away from the U.S. midterms where opinions on the outcome vary from day-to-day.

The alarming news that an explosive device was found near George Soros‘ New York home serves as an unwanted reminder that the mood of the U.S. – and particularly in this run-up to the mid-terms is deteriorating daily. Politico reports that “Last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) floated the possibility that the Hungary-born billionaire was behind a caravan of Central American migrants making their way through Mexico toward the United States. There is no evidence of Soros making such payments, and Soros’ Open Society Foundations explicitly denied funding the caravan effort.” But fake news prevails and Mr. Soros has long been a target of right-wing groups. Coincidence or not that the explosive device was found on the eve of the anniversary of the start of the 1956 Uprising?

Singapore – Sustainable City
I was delighted to find this blog from former CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) colleague and friend Xueman Wang Livability to start with the neighborhood – Singapore’s urban practice (Part 1/2) and Livability to start with the neighborhood – Singapore’s stories (Part 2/2). As she says, “The backbone of Singapore’s urban sustainability truly lies with its vibrant, affordable and inclusive neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are a key part of Singapore’s success story, which can be learned by many other countries and cities around the world.”
Xueman is the coordinator of Cities and Climate Change of the World Bank. She leads World Bank’s Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) as well as the work on the design of the International Energy Efficiency Facility to promote green bonds.

Canada does not appear to have collapsed under the burden of legalized cannabis, but the next fight – over the carbon tax – could be much more difficult and disruptive. What initially was meant to be a backup plan in the event that a few provinces failed to design their own carbon pricing plans has now become the principal carbon pricing mechanism for nearly half of the country’s population. Roughly 47 per cent of Canadians live in provinces or territories that have said they will not follow through on the national climate framework.
In Quebec, as the newly elected MLAs find their way to offices and meeting rooms, we the people are busy matching new names to faces and trying to remember who’s who in the cabinet.

Facts and Fact-checkers
PBS Newshour featured Daniel Dale, Washington bureau chief of the Toronto Star, who has been keeping track of and quantifying Trump lies. According to him, “in 2017, he averaged 2.9 false claims per day. As of now, it’s 4.5 false claims per day. And it’s escalated even further as we have gotten closer to the midterms.” Why does Trump lie? “Well, I think he knows they will be covered, often quite uncritically, that he can get headlines, in not only right-wing media, but in mainstream media, simply repeating the assertion. And whether or not it is true, it allows him to drive the subject of the coverage as we approach the midterms. So even if we’re debunking on television his claims about the caravan, for example, probably, on television, we’re also showing images of people in the caravan. And so we’re not talking about health care. We’re not talking about any other thing, the Mueller investigation, anything else that the president doesn’t want us to talk about. We’re on immigration. That’s his subject.”
Case in point? The Republican tax cut is a big, fat failure “It has achieved none of the things that Republicans promised it would. It didn’t reduce deficits. It didn’t target the middle class. And it didn’t win goodwill with voters.
“Yet, for some reason, President Trump wants to do it all over again . . . in the next nine days, no less [NPR was quick to demur “Whatever you might think of the merits of another tax cut, it’s not going to happen next week as the president suggested. Congress is not even in session until after the election. Moreover, no one outside the White House seems to have much of an idea of what the president is talking about.”]
‘The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has helpfully broken down the causes. It found that absent any of the legislative changes made over the past year — under unified Republican control of government — deficits would have indeed fallen. Far and away the biggest contributor to the deficit increase was the GOP tax cut, which cost Uncle Sam an estimated $164 billion.
If, as Mr. Dale says, immigration is Trump’s subject, then the timing of the caravan of migrants is perfect. Whatever else you read on the subject, we recommend Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the Migrant Caravan

And so we come to the inevitable — fake fact-checkers: Khashoggi misinformation highlights a growing number of fake fact-checkers  Did you know that  The Week in Fact-Checking is a newsletter about fact-checking and accountability journalism, from Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network & the American Press Institute’s Accountability Project?

For those who did not see it, the Tout le monde en parle episode Il était une fois… Jean Chrétien is an absolute delight – he is at the top of his game.

Sad news:
The King of Crescent Street, Johnny Vago has died and while The Winston Churchill still flourishes, the legendary Montrealers who were regulars are now all gone. Johnny was a good friend to David and me and we were very fond of him.

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor announces she is withdrawing from public life because of dementia. A great loss. She has been a wonderful example to not only young women for whom she was a trailblazer, but also to caregivers and members of civil society, Particularly admirable is her work with the nonprofit she founded, iCivics, has created 19 games and hundreds of digital lesson plans, on topics such as how to run a presidential campaign and how local governments work. According to the foundation, its games were played more than 5 million times last year by K-12 students in school. Too bad more legislators have not enrolled!

For your calendar:
Wednesday, 24 October
7:30 pm
David Frum: “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic”
@ the Jewish Public Library

Tuesday, 30 October
5:30 – 7:00pm
Responsible journalism in the age of hyper-polarization
@ McGill University Faculty Club

Wednesday 7 November
Flu vaccinations @ Westmount’s Victoria Hall

5 — 23 november Eco2FEST
Tracey Arial invites all to participate in this event that brings different disciplines and sectors of activity together to explore new forms of economic approaches and design to co-build the society of tomorrow. For this 3rd edition, five project leaders will develop prototypes in our collaborative manufacturing space that is open to everyone. We also offer a varied program of theoretical and practical public workshops focused around nine themes:
• accessibility, Nov 6 and 7
• collaborative economy, Nov 8,9, 10 and 11
• public policy, Nov 12 and 13
• standards, Nov 14
• governance, Nov 15
• housing, Nov 16
• urban agriculture and food security, Nov 17 and 18
• finance and insurance, Nov 19 and 20
• manufacturing, Nov 21 and 22

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