Wednesday Night #1602

Written by  //  November 14, 2012  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Investigate the FBI
The real Petraeus scandal is why the bureau was rummaging around in his private communications in the first place.

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The Prologue
Now that we are secure in the knowledge that President Obama really was re-elected Florida Election Results 2012: Obama Wins) and the odious Allen West defeated, we can reflect on the outcomes, but need no longer indulge in the frenzy of following every tweet from pundit, pollster or political junkie. And let us take to heart the wise words from Teresa (Terry) Joneswe’ve been through a lot of elections. After each presidential election, we just hope and pray the elected president will have a wonderful successful term-for the sake of the country.
But before we become overwhelmed with Christian (or nondenominational) charity permit us to gloat over 400,000 sign petition urging Macy’s to dump Donald Trump over his views on Obama and ‘sexist’ comments
For those who still have an appetite for opinions of varying shades, we offer you a somewhat random selection on our Mornings after page and, of course welcome your comments.

So now we ride on toward the fiscal cliff in the hope that Matthew Yglesias’ take is right and that John Boehner Is Bluffing, that “The House Speaker has no leverage on the Bush tax cuts. We should stop taking him seriously.” Reuters offers a good summary of the situation – Congress created this cliff and may now plunge off it and the pundits are again in full cry with Paul Krugman leading the pack, as might be expected. Unfortunately, compromise has not been an adjective frequently associated with Congress in recent years, so we can expect a stormy ride. However, Bloomberg reports that President Obama Seeks Outside Support for Fiscal Cliff Negotiations and will hold separate meetings with labor and business leaders at the White House this week — labor leaders Tuesday and business leaders on Wednesday, following which he will hold a press conference, thus enabling Wednesday Night to be up-to-date prior to the president’s meting with Congressional leaders on Friday.

We will benefit from the wisdom of a new guest, Jim Mylonas who is Bank Credit Analyst’s Research Analyst for Geopolitical Strategy. He received his Master of Arts (M.A.), International Relations and Affairs from Carleton in 2011 and has been following the elections and the fiscal cliff story very closely, therefore is bound to add to our store of knowledge.

Can’t resist a segue from the stormy ride to Hurricane Sandy and the recently much neglected topic of climate change. As Cleo Paskal points out in a message “the main pieces of infrastructure that were hit were widely known to be vulnerable. I list most of them starting on page 46 of Global Warring. We have reasonably good science. We just aren’t acting for a range of political and economic reasons.” Reinforcing Cleo’s argument is Hurricane Sandy Damage Amplified By Breakneck Development Of Coast which examines many of the reasons for the damage sustained in New York and New Jersey, e.g.:
Research by Princeton University in 2005 –- seven years before Sandy arrived — found that New Jersey’s rapid population growth in coastal counties was setting the scene for monumental environmental damage and property loss. The report argued that much of the hazards were man-made, and predictable.
“In New Jersey, and the U.S. at large, there remains a significant lack of public understanding of the predictability of coastal hazards,” the report read. “Episodic flooding events due to storm surges are often perceived as ‘natural disasters,’ not failures in land use planning and building code requirements.”

Much has been written since Sandy’s rampage; these two articles Are scientists too cautious to help us stop climate change? and Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy? we find particularly good in sorting out the relationship between science, climate change and extreme weather. One more worthwhile article is Hurricane Sandy’s lessons: How America can protect its coasts (particularly relevant to the item that follows).

Amidst all the serious and often learned analyses, we must point you to news from the great State of North Carolina where last summer the State Senate passed a bill banning researchers from reporting predicted increases in the rate of sea level rise. In a deliciously ironic turn, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America held last week in Charlotte, N.C., researchers reported that the ocean, unbound by legislation, is rising anyway — and in North Carolina this rise is accelerating(see Sea Level Rise Accelerating For US East Coast

A propos the N.C. defiance of the gods, on November 20 at noon, Katia Opalka will be speaking on
What a fool believes (in 2012): Journalists, Scientists and End of the World-ists

As students of the world, we must think carefully about the role of journalists, scientists, politicians and religion when it comes to the environment.
This is bound to be enormous fun as Professor Opalka never fails to stimulate ones thinking. Let us know if you would like details.

The topic of the environment is inextricably linked with energy, especially in Canada where we are still awaiting the decision on CNOOC/Nexen. In case you missed it, we recommend Diane Francis’ Why some state-owned firms do not belong in Canadian boardrooms — Sovereign-owned or controlled enterprises from questionable countries have no business in the boardrooms of Canada or other free enterprise nations.
Peter Foster writes that Harper must tread carefully when dealing with state-owned enterprises because “There is no doubt that the Chinese government is unpalatable and that SOEs are undesirable. The question is: Are they the wave of the future, or at least a necessary evil?” So far so good, but we are not quite sure what Mr Foster’s conclusion is because he inevitably interjects his opinions of Petrocan and the National Energy policy.
A slightly different perspective comes from our Alberta mole: Someone in Nexen corrected me, and for that matter everyone else who has been blabbering about Nexen; for since CNOOC is assuming $4.3BN in Nexen debt, this is really a $19.5BN transaction. And Diane Francis’ column about Nexen got me thinking. If she is right, and I have no reason to doubt that she is, even though I find her article a bit hysterically Sinophobic, Harper now has no option but to let the Nexen deal go through. For if he doesn’t and Diane is right, CNOOC could presumably claim damages; and that would really put the cat among the pigeons in terms of the level of public controversy because it would highlight how stupid the agreement really is and how dumb the timing was for Canada, and the furor that could emanate thereof could make the present controversy about the deal look like a baby shower.
Reuters, meantime, reports that the CNOOC chairman is confident the deal will go through and Moody’s says “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pro-business and pro-energy stance makes both the CNOOC and Petronas deals likely to pass under revised foreign ownership guidelines”.
We suspect that Moody’s is/are right, but must wait until December 10 to know the outcome.
Meantime, we watch the events surrounding the 18th Communist Party Congress (known locally as shi ba da, or 18th Big) and try with the help of world media to decipher what each little clue really means. RCI reminds us that November 12 is the anniversary of Dr. Norman Bethune’s death; we wonder if anyone at the 18th Big remembered that.

The pipeline debates have temporarily taken a back seat to the takeovers, however we can always count on Enbridge for a lesson in PR as-it-should-not-be practiced. The latest débacle concerns how much development can take place in caribou habitat before the animals fall into population decline and once again the Enbridge team has managed to cite non-existent sources as support for their arguments before the federal hearings – one has to read the story to fully absorb the idiocy (or is it contempt?).

IMPORTANT REMINDERS FOR TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13:

PETER TRENT LAUNCHES HIS BOOK ON MUNICIPAL MERGERS (SEE Peter Trent launches merger book )
Given recent events in Montreal and the surprising – shocking! – revelations regarding whole-scale corruption in the award of contracts, leading to the resignations of two of Quebec’s most important mayors, we surmise that the book launch will be swarmed by political paparazzi. We can’t wait to hear Peter’s erudite (over-their-heads) responses to questions that may or may not have anything to do with the book.
ALSO ON TUESDAY,
THE CIC HOSTS AN IMPORTANT PANEL DISCUSSION ON Understanding the Crisis in Syria
From 6-8 pm at the Moot Court, McGill Faculty of Law
The situation remains fraught in Syria with ever more consequences for the entire region, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel … We do not attempt to give you the latest news, as it changes so quickly, but suggest that you follow the excellent reporting on Al Jazeera.
However, with the news that Assad vows to ‘live and die’ in Syria we wonder if he is not tempting fate in the same way that dictators do when they proclaim themselves president/emperor/supreme ruler for life – is this not suggesting that the misery of the majority ends when the life of the One is ended?

There is more – much more on our minds – Greece’s new austerity budget; whether the worst of Europe’s financial crisis is indeed over (thank you, John Evdokias); Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university? (thank you, Tony Deutsch); Canadian copyright reform that came to a conclusion last week as Bill C-11, – implications for individuals ; and we have not even mentioned David Petraeus!

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