Wednesday Night #1214

Written by  //  June 8, 2005  //  Africa, Europe & EU, Geopolitics, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

With the advent of summer days, would that our world could enjoy a parallel joyous growing season, filled with lush green, the perfume of flowering trees and the clarity of a tranquil summer evening’s sunlight rather than the raucous turmoil of referendums, doctored tapes, diminishing corporate governance and political posturing that scream for our attention in headlines and on the air waves.
As we have not yet found a way of getting off the world, we offer the following random samples of headlines and footnotes which may or may not be topics for this week’s Wednesday Night.
Last Wednesday‘s thoughtful discussion of the future of the European Union pretty much said it all until there is some official pronouncement from the June 16-17 meeting.
John Gomery has closeted himself with his paperwork and we wish him well.
Gurmant Grewal is off on stress leave and long may he stay there.
Bernard Landry has dropped his bombshell – and we wish him well – , leaving his good friend Gilles Duceppe in a quandary.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that sick people can’t smoke marijuana in the United States, even under doctor’s orders.
Wonder of wonders, a (Canadian) government study has found that extreme heat makes smog-related health problems worse.
The World Bank has put forward a proposal whereby countries that receive World Bank loans use their own bidding systems to award contracts. Surprise! The U.S. business community is up in arms.
The president of OPEC said he would propose a 500,000 barrel per day (bpd) hike in the cartel’s output ceiling at the June 15 meeting if prices remain at current high levels.
Hezbollah and its allies swept the 23 seats in southern Lebanon in the second round of the country’s parliamentary election, setting the scene for at best a disputatious parliament.
More deaths in Iraq.
Tony Blair is trying to sell his Africa debt relief plan to George Bush, but as the BBC points out, President Bush has his own vision of aid to the continent, focused on (1) The Millennium Challenge Account which has only certified eight countries in Africa as qualified for aid (i.e. countries met strict conditions regarding corruption and efficiency of government), and only one has received any funds and (2) the US Aids fund mired in a debate over whether eligible countries have to teach abstinence, rather than condom use, as the key means to prevent the spread of Aids; and its donations can only be used to buy drugs approved by the FDA, which excludes many cheaper generic drugs and favours American manufacturers.
GM plans to cut 25,000 jobs in US by 2008. The good news is that sales of SUVs are flagging in favour of smaller cars, as high fuel costs hit home
Speaking to a conference of central bankers in Beijing via satellite video link from Washington, Alan Greenspan has added his voice to calls for China to allow the yuan to trade freely against other currencies.
Brazilian stocks have fallen for a second day amid charges that the governing Workers Party paid to gain support in parliament. (Sound familiar? But this is the first corruption scandal to hit the current Brazilian government)
The Bush Administration has nominated Christopher Cox, longtime advocate of repealing the estate tax, the capital gains tax on savings and investment, and taxes on dividends, to replace SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson, who played a leading role in the response to US accounting scandals including Enron and WorldCom. According to Forbes, under Cox the SEC’s policies are likely to become more pro-business and less investor friendly. [Cox has actually turned out as a pretty strong Chair]
UPS has lost a box of computer tapes containing information on almost 4 million customers of Citigroup.
Do join us – and if you don’t like these topics, bring your own! Let us know and we’ll post them along with breaking news, updates, and other required reading.

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