Wednesday Night #1916

Written by  //  November 28, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

With apologies for the late message … As many of you already know, I have been home from the hospital  for only 48 hours and therefore I am more befuddled and slow-witted than usual. Life is back to as normal as possible when you are forbidden to lift anything over 5lbs; dogs are home which makes everything more cheerful. I am feeling very spoiled and am SO appreciative of messages, phone calls, lovely flowers, home-made soup, banana and orange-cranberry bread , great visits and amazing care from Fiona Nicholson even if she does bully me.
Feeling such gratitude for my wonderful friends, family and support system. I would also add that I had wonderful care at the MGH from the surgeon to the cleaning lady –  every one a dedicated, kind, informative, professional. 

Nonetheless, Wednesday Night is ON and Fiona and I look forward to seeing you.

GM plant closures
While Canadians are dismayed by the announcement of the closing of the GM Oshawa plant,  plants are also being closed in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, as well as three outside North America. Donald Trump is enraged and with his usual empathy for the working person is attempting to bully GM to reverse the decision to close the Ohio plant which he views as a political setback. Check out Trump Threatening GM Over Its Plant Closure Is the Real ‘Gangster Government’ and note the reference to Lawrence Kudlow, now Trump’s chief economic adviser.
Despite the expected knee-jerk reaction from some of our Conservative friends, the Oshawa closure had relatively little to do with NAFTA/USMCA. They would do well to ponder the opinion piece by Sunil Johal, policy director at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, who writes that GM’s closing is a warning shot: Canada’s not ready for the age of disruption. “Canada lags its peers in other advanced economies on investments in social spending generally, and investments in skills training for adults in particular. Countries such as Denmark and France spend proportionately three times as much as Canada on skills training that better positions their workers to thrive in a labour market with frequent job transitions and higher skills requirements.”

NAFTA/USMCA
Good segue to Tuesday’s news that With three days to go until the signing ceremony, USMCA text is still not final. “An annex on duties Canada imposes on U.S. dairy, egg and poultry products that was posted online by the Trump administration contained language that differed from what Canadian negotiators believed they’d agreed to at the table. Confronted with the discrepancy, the American side stuck to its guns.” Why are we not surprised?
If you are interested, the only link to the full text available on the Global Affairs Canada website is  to the US Trade Representative’s website which refers to the ‘USMCA’, but  it’s not clear that Canada is completely on board with renaming NAFTA; Chrystia Freeland has said that in Canadian documents it’s called “CUSMA”, putting Canada first, so she prefers to call it “the new NAFTA.” We like that.
The CBC story notes that it’s not clear who will sign this deal on Canada’s behalf. Under current circumstances — with U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs not yet lifted on Canada and Mexico as anticipated — Trudeau may not be inclined to give Trump a celebratory photo opportunity. And the White House press briefing also listed five world leaders Trump would meet with one-on-one during the G20. Trudeau was not among them.

The signing is due in Buenos Aires during the G20 10th Anniversary Summit. The outlook for the Summit is not promising (Ukraine, trade crises stalk G20’s 10th anniversary) as the G20 leaders, wrestling with the US-China trade war and ascendant populism at their 10th summit this week, face a new crisis following Russia’s naval confrontation with Ukraine. Trump was scheduled to meet with Putin during the summit, but even he is having second thoughts following the Russia/Ukraine events.
With everything else going on, you might have missed this G20 tidbit: Argentina prosecutors are considering charging Mohammed bin Salman with war crimes and torture if he goes to Buenos Aires for the summit. He has now arrived. Let the games begin!
A timely reminder that the expanded group of leaders from Western and developing nations known as the G20 might never have existed, and certainly not in its current form, without a long, determined push from Paul Martin How Canada made the G20 happen

Climate change is also on the G20 agenda, but there is no hope of consensus on how to meet its threats, given the obstinate refusal of the Trump administration to even consider the need  to confront its challenges. In case you were among the many who did not see the Federal Climate Report whose release was buried during the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it predicts at least 3 degrees of warming by 2100. This report details a 13-agency consensus, authored by more than 300 researchers, but failed to impress Mr. Trump, who says  that He’s Too Intelligent To Believe In Climate Change
All this comes days before the opening of the UNFCC Conference of the Parties in Poland  (2-14 December).

For those following every twist and turn of the Brexit saga, Politico Eu offers a pretty concise update in UK worse off under all Brexit scenarios

As always, there is much, much more.

Varia
French is an asset to Ontario, the bigots be damned, Andrew Caddell’s column for The Hill Times is an excellent history lesson and should be accessible to all, not simply subscribers. For those who cannot access it, send me a message and I will forward the .pdf that Andrew has kindly supplied.

One in four Ontario postsecondary students lack basic literacy, numeracy skills, studies say
About a quarter of graduating students in Ontario’s postsecondary programs lack adequate literacy and numeracy skills, according to new research from the government agency that monitors the system.
Harvey Weingarten, president and chief executive of HEQCO, said the research is among the first of its kind to try to measure employment-related skills outcomes in the higher-education system. He said one of the main reasons students pursue postsecondary education is to get a good job. But while universities and colleges say they prepare students for the world of work, employers are frustrated, he said. Many employers say the students they encounter don’t have the communication, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills they’re seeking.

Inside the Hunt for the World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist
How a British hacker joined ISIS’s top ranks and launched a deadly global cyber plot.
excerpted from the book Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat, by John P. Carlin with Garrett M. Graff

Five Countries Slow to Address Nazi-Looted Art, U.S. Expert Says
In 1998, confronted by the fact that so much of the art stolen by the Nazis during World War II had yet to be returned to its rightful owners, 44 nations agreed to the Washington Principles, a treaty of sorts that committed its signers to making best efforts to return the looted art. But speaking Monday in Berlin at a conference convened to measure progress in that undertaking on the agreement’s 20th anniversary, the man who negotiated the principles on behalf of the United States delivered a blunt rebuke to what he characterized as foot-dragging by five countries: Hungary, Poland, Spain, Russia & Italy.

Words fail … this is the #1 item on my say-it-isn’t-so list. What on earth is the outgoing president thinking?
AP reports that the Mexican government said Tuesday that it will award President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner the highest honor the country gives to foreigners, the Order of the Aztec Eagle.

Among the items that you really do not need to worry about – or do you? – the 2018 Christmas décor of the White House (Seeing red: why Melania Trump’s crimson Christmas trees are so jarring) Melania’s choice has given rise to much commentary and a number of memes (Melania Trump’s White House Christmas decorations have become a horror meme yet again). We like the allusion to The Handmaid’s Tale.

And finally, delightful news: Elizabeth May is engaged and plans to marry next April 22nd – coincidentally (or not) 22 April is Earth Day.

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