Wednesday Night #1919 Mince pies and merriment

Written by  //  December 19, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

It’s the magical time of year when Wednesday Night gathers around the ‘groaning board’ to enjoy Catherine’s mince pies and other festive treats.

As we look around the world, there does not seem to be much festive news, but we take great consolation in the family and friends of Wednesday Night. It is a source of both joy and amazement to witness the innumerable times when members of this far-flung fellowship (is that still a politically correct term?) support and come to the aid of one another, whether recommending the reliable repair shop for a beloved antique, donating to a special cause, facilitating contacts for someone travelling to another part of the world, or simply offering companionship, civil debate and even gentle correction. Would that our leaders and politicians enjoyed the same relationship with their peers.

Sadly, they do not, as the state of the world proves every day.

”Brexit is a worry. whichever side of the question one is on. As Politico Eu says succinctly EU’s hard Brexit is going to hurt — a lot. The European Commission on Wednesday is set to approve a series of legislative initiatives to avoid the most disastrous outcomes of a no-deal scenario. It has described the preparations as “a limited number of contingency measures to mitigate significant disruptions in some narrowly defined areas.
For those of us with a more than passing interest in aviation, it should be noted that “An example of one measure the Commission will propose on Wednesday is to guarantee that British airlines can fly over EU territory, make technical stops, such as for refueling, without passengers disembarking, and will be able to apply to fly between the U.K. and EU. Without new legislation, such stops would not be allowed because the U.K. will be a third country. But even with the contingency plans, British airlines would no longer be able to operate flights between cities in the EU27 — ending lucrative routes for U.K.-owned carriers such as easyJet unless they have taken their own Brexit preparedness measures. In addition, the EU will propose measures that will ensure the continued validity of “safety certificates” that allow planes to keep flying — but only for a limited amount of time.”

Ever-deteriorating US-China relations brought to the fore by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, (a situation in which Canada finds herself uncomfortably sandwiched between the two powers with which she wants and needs to have good relations) has captured the headlines and caused commentators great concern. (Please read How China Views the Arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou which persuasively traces the sentiments aroused back to China’s defeat in the First Opium War.)
While absorbing the Huawei story, you may have overlooked reports of John Bolton’s speech at the Heritage Foundation last week in which he unveiled a new strategy designed to counter Beijing’s growing influence in Africa. This represents quite a shift considering Trump’s previous comments about ‘shithole countries’

A glimmer of hope: Tense calm prevails in Yemen‘s Hodeidah as ceasefire holds – Clashes appear to have subsided after UN-brokered truce took effect in port city, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid, including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation. The reporting and pictures of the suffering are horrific and still, most of the world moves on, preoccupied by local concerns. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths hopes a UN Security Council resolution, drafted by the UK, will endorse the agreements reached in Stockholm including the need for a UN body to supervise port administration and mutual troop withdrawals.
It was, of course, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman who launched the war against the Houthis of Yemen and some see the ceasefire agreed by the Saudi-Emirati-backed government and Houthi rebels as an attempt to whitewash MBS’ tarnished image.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has announced a $295bn budget for 2019, the kingdom’s biggest ever.The budget announcement projected a $35bn shortfall, amounting to a deficit for the sixth year in a row because of low oil prices.

And the melodrama south of the border continues apace. One of the best we have seen is ‘s lengthy piece for Forbes Mueller Exposes Putin’s Hold Over Trump in which he examines Mueller’s hypothesis that “Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates participated in a massive election fraud, through five interlocking conspiracies—arguably the worst set of crimes against the United States in its history.”
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Trump Foundation is shutting down in the wake of the suit brought by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Trump has backed off his demand that Congress approve his $5 billion wall, but that alone has not resolved threat of a government shutdown. According to the Washington Post “Congress appeared headed toward the lowest-common-denominator solution: a short-term funding extension that would keep the government open for a period of weeks and then hand Democrats the responsibility of passing a more lasting fix once they retake the House majority in January.”
Among the cascading news items regarding Donald Trump, we particularly enjoyed this from DOJ files to halt Trump suit demanding financial documents: “Justice lawyers have said providing those documents would interfere with the president’s duties. Trump’s personal attorney made a similar argument last week.”

One of the most shocking and distressing stories to emerge in the past week is that of the toxicity of Johnson & Johnson baby powder – a staple of almost every household and used by young and old.According to the detailed Reuters report, there is a (inevitable) China connection: “Since 2003, talc in Baby Powder sold in the United States has come from China through supplier Imerys Talc America, a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA and a co-defendant in most of the talc litigation.”

There was at least one good news story during the past week:
Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive
Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.
The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020. … supporters of the deal reached Saturday said that they hoped the new rules would help build a virtuous cycle of trust and cooperation among countries, at a time when global politics seems increasingly fractured.”

It is always a pleasure to celebrate the writings of friends and in this case, Adam Goldenberg‘s opinion piece for Maclean’s If an autonomous vehicle has an accident, who is legally responsible? is particularly relevant to recent Wednesday Night discussions. He concludes that “In the year ahead, lawyers, judges and politicians will have to start considering non-human decisions within the framework of human law—and they will fail.”

Such a delightful story from the father of Ilona Dougherty
Yes, Whitehorse, there is a Santa Claus
For more than two decades, Michael Dougherty has suited up to get Yukoners young and old in the holiday spirit. The secret to his success: Authenticity is everything

Holiday reading:
Can Trump Pardon Himself?
He can certainly try it—but that doesn’t mean he’d succeed

New Year’s resolution? We may take Lawrence Solomon’s Guide for left-wingers to watching Fox News. There is a lot to be said for understanding the views of Trump supporters – and not all of them are deplorables.

A little levity (there’s little enough when economics is the topic) Kid Wonders If This Is The Year She Tells Her Dad Trickle-Down Economics Isn’t Real

And, finally, in preparation for the holiday feasts this delicious take on our friends’ allergies Holiday Dinner Party

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