Wednesday Night #1543

Written by  //  September 28, 2011  //  Wednesday Nights  //  2 Comments

The announcement of the death of Nobel laureate (we recently saw ‘Nobelist’, but we don’t like it) Wangari Maathi has brought an outpouring of tributes to this remarkable woman who did so much to empower African women while making a hugely positive impact on the environment. Among those tributes is that of Andrew Revkin of the NYT, who cites The genius of Wangari Maathai, the defense of her selection by the Nobel committee when many criticized it. The authors, Anna Lappé and Frances Moore Lappé, define her genius as “recognizing the interrelation of local and global problems, and the fact that they can only be addressed when citizens find the voice and courage to act”. A lesson that is even more apt for the world today than ever.

Which leads us to the environmentalists protesting the Keystone pipeline, first in front of the White House and today on Parliament Hill. These are citizens who have found the voice and courage to act, and to do so in a thoroughly civil and respectful way. For more on the Keystone debate, we urge you to consult the CBC’s “The Keystone debate: Forget the pipeline, this is about the oilsands”, a good piece that offers excellent links to more material on the topic. Somewhat less even-handed is Oil sands protesters are job-killing ‘extremists’: Tory MP

Onward to the economy. Where to start?? The eurozone crisis (or should that be crises?), or the attempts of the U.S. dysfunctional government to come to grips with its own crises (definitely plural).

On the latter topic, we thank Ron Robertson for calling to our attention Dan Gardner’s well crafted analysis, “Here is where Obama and Reagan part ways” with extensive references to Kenneth Rogoff’s earlier piece The Second Great Contraction. Some of our favorite economists were less than impressed by Nouriel Roubini’s latest cri du coeur “Risk of depression is ‘huge’, Roubini warns”; Tony Deutsch (still, sadly, exiled to his lakeside retreat while renovations continue in town) suggests “Why not create a headline DEUTSCH WARNS SNOWSTORM IS ON THE WAY! As long as we do not specify dates, I am on perfectly safe grounds.” Guy Stanley, slightly less caustic “Apart from the shrill tone, Roubini’s comments echo the others that he quotes.”

We confess to some confusion over the resolution of the latest crisis in Congress U.S. Congress disaster aid deal averts shutdown, but relieved that it appears that FEMA can continue its work. Meanwhile, things don’t look very encouraging across the Atlantic as Eurozone struggles to stem crisis — Officials working to leverage the region’s rescue fund as pressure mounts to staunch a sovereign debt crisis. We look forward to comments and clarification from those who are far more versed in these matters. Just in case you thought that the IMF, European Central Bank and northern European nations are the ones to come up with a solution, you will be disabused of your thoughts by Alessio Rastani, who, in a somewhat astonishing interview with the BBC announced that ‘Governments Don’t Rule The World, Goldman Sachs Rules The World’. Read, view and weep.

Out of respect for Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sunset this Wednesday (actually, much more to do with the fact that our Jewish friends will not be with us), we will defer any discussion of the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN. In any event, nothing will happen at the UN for some time (UN will take weeks on Palestinian bid – Abbas), allowing us some time to gather verbal ammunition from all sides. We will simply note that John Baird bares teeth in offering Canada’s defence of Israel at UN – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered Canada’s views to the General Assembly in a speech that put meat on the bones of the Harper government’s unflinching support of Israel. No doubt this will prove to be a controversial topic when it is on the agenda.

We cannot resist comments regarding the hot water that seems to have enveloped Minister Clement – we found it exceptionally curious that he was appointed President of the Treasury Board given the murky G8 waters that were already lapping at the shores of Muskoka and now (to mix metaphors) it appears the NDP have found smoking guns – presumably de-registered long guns.
Ah, yes, the Crime Bill, otherwise the proposed legislation with the somewhat Kafkaesque title of Safe Streets and Community Act. We hope that some of you have delved deep and can present a cogent analysis of the  9 key elements of the crime bill. Dan Leger writes in the Chronicle Herald Crime bill: expensive, ineffective and entirely political. Please note that there is no family tie with Minister Nicholson who says crime bill not based on ‘latest stats’ – now, why would it be?

On the brighter side is the news that Saudi women have been given (literally, by the king) the vote, however, they still cannot drive themselves. CBC’s “As it happens” ran a fascinating interview with Saudi architect Nadia Bakhurji. Very worthwhile.

Off-beat items this week include:
Share Traders More Reckless Than Psychopaths, Study Shows
What makes individual stockbrokers blow billions in financial markets with criminal trading schemes? According to a new study conducted at a Swiss university, it may be because share traders behave more recklessly and are more manipulative than psychopaths. [See Alessio Rastani above?]
And, among the more peculiar thumbnails we have seen recently, is this from the BBC:
Guinea PM defends mining shake-up
Guinea’s prime minister defends the radical new mining code intended to curb corruption, which some foreign firms have warned will deter investors. If we are reading this correctly, investors would prefer the good old corrupt way?

2 Comments on "Wednesday Night #1543"

  1. David & Terry Jones September 27, 2011 at 8:54 am · Reply

    There was a four hour conference (Is the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline in the National Interest?) on the national security implications of the Keystone XL pipeline at the Woodrow Wilson Canada Project last Thursday. I attended; but you could probably get the core of the presentations from their web site.
    There were blizzards of statistics (“It isn’t that figures lie, but liars figure.”) but the judgment was that the project is too important on the jobs and investment front not to get approval. (It is, incidentally, a project that we support personally).

  2. Udo September 29, 2011 at 7:19 pm · Reply

    When I said yesterday evening that central banks have few options left, I meant ‘conventional’. Naturally, everything else amounts to ‘money printing’ and is over the long run at least rather inflationary with all the other nasty consequences we experienced already in our life time (not to talk about hyper-inflation of Germany and Austria in the twenties, Hungary and Greece in the after-war years, Latin America in the eighties and nineties and more recently Zimbabwe).

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