Wednesday Night #1594

Written by  //  September 19, 2012  //  David/Terry Jones, Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

It matters little whether one believes the Biblical account of Man’s creation or the Darwinian theory, the former being a matter of religious belief, the latter strongly suggested by the study of comparative anatomy. They are not, however, incompatible. If one believes in divine creation, it is not a stretch to believe that evolution was the result of divine fiat. Modern Man’s hubris appears to be the source of belief in the assumed superiority of one’s ancestry, religion and/or mother tongue, created and blessed by the Deity. The Internet, originally thought to be the great leveller, has proven to undermine attention to the similarities in favour of emphasizing the differences, rather than demonstrating the more obvious resemblances between human tribes. In a sense, it has become a tool for autocratic governments to identify individuals inimical to or simply critical of any particular regime. In any event, a study has indicated that inaccurate beliefs and/or prejudices remain intact, untouched by the dissemination of balanced information.
[Breaking Up the Echo
(NYT) IT is well known that when like-minded people get together, they tend to end up thinking a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk. The same kind of echo-chamber effect can happen as people get news from various media. Liberals viewing MSNBC or reading left-of-center blogs may well end up embracing liberal talking points even more firmly; conservative fans of Fox News may well react in similar fashion on the right.
The result can be a situation in which beliefs do not merely harden but migrate toward the extreme ends of the political spectrum. As current events in the Middle East demonstrate, discussions among like-minded people can ultimately produce violence.
The remedy for easing such polarization, here and abroad, may seem straightforward: provide balanced information to people of all sides. Surely, we might speculate, such information will correct falsehoods and promote mutual understanding. This, of course, has been a hope of countless dedicated journalists and public officials.
Unfortunately, evidence suggests that balanced presentations — in which competing arguments or positions are laid out side by side — may not help. At least when people begin with firmly held convictions, such an approach is likely to increase polarization rather than reduce it.]

Iran
The situation in Iran remains bipolar in its legitimate need for nuclear energy and its totally inimical relationship with Israel, as well as other countries. On the surface, it appears totally illogical that Israel which undoubtedly possesses nuclear weapons should deny Iran’s need for a nuclear reactor and the probability that it too, will inevitably develop nuclear weapons. However, the possibility that Israel’s apparent hostility to Iran relates to the unexpressed will to destroy Hezbollah would be shared with many countries. Middle East strategy would appear to be as mysterious as suggested by the children’s stories so popular in the Western World. As for Israel, an Iranian nuclear bomb would have the potential for wiping the latter nation off the map. If President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared more rational, it is possible that the reaction of the Israeli government might not be as sharp. If Iranians were not to use it for fuel, what countries would supply them with fuel? The Iranians must depend on sources other than petroleum for their electricity. Apart from the President, there are many rational, competent people working on the project and should Israel attempt to destroy the nuclear reactor, it would undoubtedly face an inimical world; should it not, it faces the possibility of total destruction. The unfortunate aspect of the situation is that a resolution of problems in the Middle East is virtually impossible, with factions on all sides impacting on a constantly shifting scenario. As is normal in that area winning is not a possible outcome for any player; the object being to avoid losing. In the absence of an active enemy it would appear that a common opponent appears to be a reasonable alternative.
The markets
The North American Stock markets are doing surprisingly well, having experienced a bull market since March, 2009. Subsequent to an anticipated pull back in October, the markets, including the German DAX and the U.K. FTSE are all doing well. Based on current assumptions there is a likelihood that the bull market could extend into second quarter of 2013.

PROLOGUE
Who would have thought that a dreadful video with absolutely no production values could be the spark for a wildfire of protests across North Africa and the Middle East? Of course, despite the polite rhetoric of (US Ambassador to the UN) Susan Rice, not many believe that it was more than the spark for the bonfire being prepared by the militant Islamists to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. Nonetheless, the damage is done and one of America’s finest diplomats has lost his life along with a number of others, and the unrest will continue for who knows how long. Rather than inundating you with links on this topic, we have gathered a number of opinion pieces and reports on Middle East & the Arab World 9/11 2012 which may help in any discussion of what – if anything – will quell the anti-West sentiment; how these events will affect the U.S. presidential race and what are the appropriate short- and long-term policies and actions for western governments.
To start the ball rolling, our friend and Wednesday Nighter David Jones reports on a seminar he attended last week regarding attitudes toward the U.S. post-9/11. We presume that the panel’s use of Muslims/Islam is a generalization that should be qualified with adjectives such as ‘extremist’ or ‘fundamental’.
One of the panellists noted that Muslims/Islam regards the West, not just the USA, as having no/no right to comment on ANYTHING associated with the Islam/faith. It is not our thing, and we have absolutely no standing to make any comment on it regardless of what its adherents may say/profess/do within Islamic circles. This differed, the panel said, from our “right” to oppose/resist/comment/critique Marxism globally as Marx/Lenin were part of the “West” and hence we were qualified to comment, criticize, critique, etc … So the content of the film is essentially irrelevant.
BUT, David continues:
Muslims believe that they are unalterably correct–and they have the right, indeed, the duty to push their faith forward against all others. This may be an extreme interpretation (by me), but you do not hear commentary by Muslims to the effect that all faiths are worthy, that Islam should be subject to doctrinal and historical examination, etc. To take such a position leaves a Muslim open to blasphemy charges which are no joke, either from personal attacks or legal charges.

And that, minus the blasphemy charges, would seem to be the position of fundamentalists of all faiths vis a vis those with differing beliefs. We have only to consider the example of the crazed ‘Pastor’ Terry Jones’. Obviously, if I believe that I am right, you must be wrong; thus, there is no room for – or reason – to discuss. Unfortunately, the same mindset increasingly pervades political discussion between the entrenched positions of the equivalent of fundamentalist wings of RIGHT and LEFT.

As Kelly McParland wrote last week, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is playing a dangerous game with U.S. support and Israel’s future. He has launched a very public challenge of the U.S. in the final weeks of a close election race. Although warned off, he continues to insert himself and Israel/Iran into the campaign, notably in his appearance on Meet The Press where he repeated his demand for Washington to draw a “red line” over the Iran’s nuclear weapons, while blandly denying that he is wielding the Iranian nuclear threat as a political weapon to weaken President Obama ahead of the US elections. The discussion following his one-on-one with David Gregory was fascinating –

While most media focus is on the problems of the Middle East and Muslim world, at least one former diplomat of our acquaintance believes that we should be as, or more, concerned with the developments in Asia, expressly the flare-ups between China and Japan over the little known islands of Senkaku/Diaoyu and on a much larger scale, the disputes over the riches of the South China Sea – as NBC put it quite succinctly “Vast oil reserves, trillion-dollar trade routes, fervent nationalist sentiments, competing territorial claims and bitter histories – the waters off the east coast of China are a sea of money and a sea of trouble.”

Returning to home base, where our concerns are perhaps less important on the world stage, but vital to our daily lives and wellbeing … But before we go there, we must pay tribute to the late Peter Lougheed, without doubt one of Canada’s outstanding politicians – ever. We unfortunately will not see his like for a long, long time. Among the many tributes we read, we particularly liked Pascal Zamprelli’s

The PQ started off the minority government as we might have expected … As some Quebec politicians were sworn in as Members of the National Assembly, one item was noticeably absent from the proceedings: the Canadian flag. Canadian flag removed from Quebec National Assembly And presumably we should not expect a peep out of the esteemed Opposition.

The Charbonneau Commission has resumed and in her opening remarks on Monday morning, Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau said Quebecers should expect to hear how public contracts for sidewalks, sewer systems and asphalt in Montreal have been divided up among a select group of companies, how city officials were “paid off,” and how a part of that money ended up in the coffers of municipal parties. Names will be named, she promised. We can’t wait!

Parliament is back in session and the Harper government will be having its way with the country, starting with ANOTHER Omnibus Bill – this one likely to include changes to federal science policy, business tax credits and pensions for public servants and MPs.
The Globe & Mail notes that “A back-to-work meeting of the Harper government caucus in Ottawa Monday that lasted two hours was dominated by discussion over how ambitious the Tories should be in scaling back a range of perks in the relatively generous retirement payout plan.” Maybe they should consult Mitt Romney as to whether these would be considered entitlements? (See Romney item below)
Attacks on the NDP proposal for a carbon tax have started – the NDP maintains it wants cap-and-trade and not a carbon tax. This he-says-she-says will probably last throughout the session.
The CNOOC takeover of Nexen may prove to be a thorny issue. Not everyone is on side and Rob Anders is leading the pack , expressing reservations about the sale to a non-benevolent country; however the consensus appears to be that “government is now widely expected to approve CNOOC’s bid for Nexen after the Investment Canada review, an expectation that reflects the lack of opposition from the Alberta government – the owner of the oil resources – from oil industry executives, or from the broader corporate sector, which is eager to expand business ties with China.”
The good news is that the At Issue panel is back and looking at Question Period in a special edition.

And from the Romney follies, his opinion of the people who vote for Obama: “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s … an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” [We thought it was rich Romney supporters who paid no income tax – or virtually none.]

A couple of cheery items:
Xinhua reports that Israel has the second-highest percentage of 25 to 64-year-old people attending higher education among OECD member states, according to a just-released report. BUT who is first?? Canada led the list with 51 percent of the same demographic graduating from an institution of higher education. AND 50 percent of Israeli women have academic degrees, trailing Canada’s 56 percent; both are far above average, vis a vis the OECD country average of 32 percent.

The Avro Arrow project is still not moribund – the NDP is taking up the cause We don’t hold out much hope, as this wasn’t Mr. Harper’s idea, but it’s still fun to dream about.

Finally, an item related to our lengthy and fascinating discussion last Wednesday Night of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Our latest prize winner is the Reuters report that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused his country’s enemies of enacting a sinister plan to create a drought by somehow destroying the rain clouds before they reach Iran, several Iranian websites reported on Tuesday” [coincidentally (?) September 11].

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1594"

  1. Sam totah September 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm · Reply

    Interesting review! It is now 8pm.sept19!
    Miss those lively discussions! Regards,sam

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