Wednesday Night #1366

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BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO! to Beryl Wajsman and the team – including Wednesday Nighters Anthony Philbin, Robert Galbraith, Julius Grey and Brigitte Garceau (the latter we presume is tasked to keep them out of trouble) – of The Metropolitain. The speed with which the concept has become a reality is a mark of the total dedication/bloody-minded determination of the Editor & Publisher, the inimitable force-to-be-reckoned-with Beryl. The first edition looks great, the content is thought provoking with something for everyone except sports addicts and we saw very few editorial glitches. Although not available on the South Shore (!!), we spotted it at the Cinq Saisons over the weekend. For Internet addicts and those living in less-favoured neighborhoods, it can be read on The Metropolitain website
The long-anticipated return of Kimon Valaskakis and the de-vive-voix report on the New School of Athens Athens-3 Conference by Kimon, Jaime Webbe and Bert Revenaz headlines this week’s Wednesday Night. The current state of the world makes the global governance initiative ever-more critical.
Global governance implies public policy which brings us to our governments’ – yes, the three levels – woeful lack of intelligent policy regarding the environment and energy. Henry Aubin’s “Burning Money” column should be required reading for all politicians and, more important, all voters. Inevitably, we are reminded of previous discussions of “The end of suburbia“.
The related tale of Alberta’s embarrassment over the Syncrude toxic pond environmental disaster is on the surface less a matter of public policy than failure to enforce it, but once again turns the spotlight on the mixed blessing of the Tar Sands.
The state of the economy is a ‘puzzlement’. The Christian Science Monitor cheerily notes “Jobs down, but outlook brightens for U.S. economy”. Bloomberg tells us that the usually suspect George Bush says “Americans Face a `Tough Economic Period’ “, while the International Herald Tribune opines that “Much of the uncertainty swirls around the fate of the ailing U.S. economy. But worries that the U.S. downturn is spreading are also growing ” and the Economist sedately states that “Sentiment has improved, but lots of financial problems remain.”
Is money the root of all evil? Or is it oil today? Certainly the impact of the rising cost of oil on food prices is major, but arguably there are other causes of World Hunger and no immediate solutions in sight. Some Wednesday Nighters maintain with great logic that this is a cyclical problem, but it appears to us that there are underlying factors that make this a more serious crisis than previous events.
One of the more promising emerging markets is also in trouble. Poor Argentina , it always seems to have problems with its women presidents. That’s not misogyny – it’s history. In China, meanwhile “senior officials in Beijing have bluntly rejected claims that China is heading for a hard landing, as debate rages over the pressures bearing down on the economy”.
As for Canada, the StatsCan findingson the 2005 earnings and incomes of Canadians from the 2006 Census issued in the past week have merely confirmed what people already ‘knew’: the middle class continues to be squeezed. With the rising cost of oil and consequent rise in the price of almost everything else, consumers will suffer and so will manufacturers and producers. Ontario a have-not province? Yes, according to TD Bank, while Newfoundland and Saskatchewan share Alberta’s good fortune and are looking very profitable. Nearly two weeks ago, the Bank of Canada, said we’re on the brink of a recession and, indicating the mood of the country, Rex Murphy devoted this week’s Cross Country Checkup to the economy. Only Jay Bryan has sounded a pretty optimistic note, finding good news Incomes fell, but now they’re rising hidden in the StatsCan report, reminding us that a bad month doesn’t doom us to a bad year .
We also find encouragement in the news that Morgan Stanley is starting a new technology center in Montreal thanks to the availability of a “highly skilled talent base”. This promises some 500 new jobs in the IT sector – a great boost for our local economy.
We will miss Tony Deutsch‘s inimitable commentary this week as he and Gerald Ratzer are off to Huntsville (don’t ask), but hope that other illustrious Wednesday Nighters will enlighten us. Also absent is Ron Meisels, who will be representing Wednesday Night at the 2nd-ever West Wing Wednesday Night in Vancouver.
The results of the Indiana & North Carolina primaries on Tuesday will be ready for analysis and we should know whether the fight to the wire will continue. We continue to hope that the Democrats will cool the personal attacks and, in preparation for the campaign against the Republicans, get on to the issues, which at this point seem to be limited to whether or not to support the gas tax holiday [Do read The Power of a Stupid Idea, Eugene Robinson’s scathing attack on the gas tax holiday]
As the spectre of Reverend Wright continues to haunt Senator Obama’s campaign, we wish that Frank Rich’s column “The All-White Elephant in the Room” might be widely read and absorbed, however we doubt that it is the readers of the New York Times who need convincing.

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