Wednesday Night #1926

Written by  //  February 13, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Having enjoyed the intellectual equivalent of a Chinese New Year Feast last week – Wednesday’s discussion on diminishing IQ with Peter Berezin; Thursday’s brilliant conversation on Canada: Alone in the world? between Robert Greenhill and Ben Rowswell, former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela; and Friday evening’s gathering with the delightful Elizabeth May and her fiancé, John Kidder; which has generated a flood of fascinating email exchanges, I almost need a mindless rest cure.

However, events do not respect individual needs and it has been an eventful week.

Canada has lost two more outstanding individuals: former Finance Minister Michael Wilson, an outstanding cabinet minister, who played a key role in the NAFTA negotiations, and the much loved and admired journalist and foreign correspondent, Joe Schlesinger.

The countless eulogies for these two upstanding individuals serve to highlight the sleaziness of the on-going story of SNC-Lavalin‘s trail of bribery and corruption [If you have forgotten all or some of the details of the murky story of SNC-Lavalin & Libya, this is worth a listen.]. Following last week’s shockingly light sentence for Pierre Duhaime, the Globe & Mail published the story by Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Sean Fine setting out the allegations that the PMO pressed Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. As the he-said-she-said reports proliferated (Andrew Coyne: We are still waiting for a clear denial over SNC-Lavalin allegations), matters deteriorated to the point that on Tuesday, Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet while the PM said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’. Pundits, led by John Ibbitson are predicting that Wilson-Raybould’s departure is a calamity for Trudeau’s Liberals
Finally (we wish) Canadian Press reports that SNC-Lavalin faces possible new criminal charges over Montreal bridge contract, documents reveal
Jeremy Kinsman‘s take on Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from Cabinet.

In Washington, it’s all about whether or not Trump will sign off on the bipartisan border security agreement that would avoid another government shutdown. “Current and former administration officials said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump seemed to be preparing to sign the bill and then reprogram as much money as he can on his own, although they cautioned that the president is unpredictable and his decision would depend on details still to be examined.” (Trump Is ‘Not Happy’ With Border Deal, but Doesn’t Say if He Will Sign It) Early Wednesday morning, Politico Playbook cautioned: LATE LAST NIGHT, we started getting text messages that the border security deal was unraveling a bit as senior aides and lawmakers were drafting it.
IT SEEMS AS IF the deal was announced a bit too early. They agreed on the big issues in principle, but as they put pen to paper, there were both critical issues and ancillary issues that were not yet solved.
IT’S UNCLEAR HOW SERIOUS THESE PROBLEMS ARE at this point. And, fair warning: These deals oftentimes fall apart a few times before they come back together. These problems might very well be solved. The difference is the government shuts down the day after tomorrow, and the House had wanted to vote on this deal this evening.

Meanwhile, there are developments regarding the Green New Deal, introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. In the document, the GND calls for a “new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilisation on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal.” Mitch McConnell, said on Tuesday he will bring it to the Senate floor for a vote, so Democrats will have to back it or distance themselves from it. Trump has, of course attacked it (presumably he has not read it, not that that would make any difference) and there are a number of skeptics in the media including New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait – The Green New Deal Is a Bad Idea, Not Just a Botched Rollout. On the other hand, as Paul Bledsoe points out in Forbes: “a host of well-known policies that mainstream Democrats can pass through key Committees and the full House would show the path for the U.S. to meet the goal of zero net emissions by 2045, well before the 2050 deadline called for in the resolution and urged by leading scientists” (Green New Deal Must Grow Up Fast To Influence Bills Congress is Already Writing).

On the other side of the globe, Queensland, Australia has suffered an environmental disaster, the flood massacre of Queensland cattle
“For years, north-west Queensland was stricken with drought. Suffering from a severe lack of rain for more than five years, Queensland based farmers struggled to keep their cattle alive through tough and dry conditions. But when the rain finally began to fall, the situation became even more dire. In just 10 days, some rural parts of the Queensland region received more than three years’ worth of average rainfall. Two people were killed in the floods, hundreds of homes have been either damaged or destroyed and the state’s cattle industry are expecting an extraordinary loss of up to 500,000 cattle.” The account of the devastation by Jacqueline Curley and Kate Hunter is heartbreaking as are the pictures on The Guardian page and those posted by Jacqueline Curley on Facebook

Valentine’s Day is generally looked on as a happy occasion aside from the eponymous Massacre,. Appropriately, Alexander G. Bell applied for his telephone patent on that date in 1876. But last year, we were horrified by the Parkland, Florida shooting. And then, Parkland survivors turned into activists and inspired a wave of new gun safety laws. We may not hear about them every day, as we did in the first weeks after the shooting, but largely as a result of their efforts, 67 new gun laws were enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislators in 26 states and Washington, DC, according to a year-end report by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Good reads:
Joseph Nye asks: Is the “Populist” Tide Retreating?
The dysfunctional politics of Brexit in the United Kingdom, and the midterm election reaction against President Donald Trump in the United States, are generating second thoughts about the populist tide sweeping the world’s democracies in recent years. In fact, second thoughts are long overdue.

You Spend 5 Percent of Your Day Outside. Try Making It More
Conversation with Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix.
“Go outside more often than you think you want to! You will reap the rewards in increased mood, increased social connection in your relationships. But I wouldn’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all the time. Just be open to understanding there are times in your life you might need this connection more than other times. I think that especially if you’re struggling with depression, or you’re struggling with grief, consider the natural world as one of your interventions.”

How to make a decision when you are uncertain of what to do, Ben Franklin style

A hedge fund’s ‘mercenary’ strategy: Buy newspapers, slash jobs, sell the buildings
The tactics employed by Alden and Digital First Media are well-chronicled: They buy newspapers already in financial distress, including big-city dailies such as the San Jose Mercury News and the Denver Post, reap the cash flow and lay off editors, reporters and photographers to boost profits.
In a 2018 court case, Alden disclosed it has a series of affiliated real estate companies whose business is focused primarily on efficiently buying, selling, leasing and redeveloping newspapers’ offices and printing plants.
Two years after Alden established Digital First, it created Twenty Lake Holdings, which began taking ownership of some of the papers’ facilities, according to public records.

19-21 February
The 2019 Journalism and Media Conference brings journalists, photographers, and other media professionals to McGill for three nights of lectures, panels, and interactive workshops.
Hosted by the Tribune Publication Society, this fifth annual edition offers interested students the opportunity to learn about the industry and its future, meet and network with professionals, and engage in conversations about journalism and media.

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