Wednesday Night #1621

Written by  //  March 25, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1621

Tebo gets a trim at Truefitt and HillHeads-up. This Wednesday, March 27th, is David’s birthday. No, no celebrations Chez Alex (although Alex did suggest it); no extravaganzas, but we would love to have you with us to wish him – and Alan Hustak, whose birthday is on Friday – many happy returns. However, Marc has organized  a major celebration in Singapore, with the grand opening  of the new Truefitt & Hill barber shop par excellence. He has even arranged to have the High Commissioner cut the ribbon and undergo the first (official) shave.   

The session last Wednesday (#1620) was without doubt one of the liveliest on record. Geopolitics in combination with the Middle East and high (or low) finance will do that. We did not even get to local (read Canada) politics, President Obama had not yet made his widely praised speech to Israeli university students [Text of Obama’s Speech in Israel]; Minister Flaherty had not delivered his budget and Kevin Page had not delivered his parting shots. This week, none of the issues have gone away, but more twists and inevitably some new items are added to our list.

The Cyprus situation continues to roil.  Mario Iacobacci forwarded this excellent review of the situation and its longer-term effects on the Eurozone by Gavin Davies The Eurozone after Cyprus in which the author notes that Cyprus is … in some respects, a microcosm of the entire eurozone crisis, if a microcosm on steroids.

Meantime, it was reported late on Sunday that a last-ditch deal has been agreed  No details on whether the president was successful in his fight to preserve the country’s business model as an offshore financial center that drew huge funds from wealthy Russians and Britons, which Reuters reported on earlier.

Foreign Affairs warns of Trouble in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea – The Coming Dash for Gas and offers an excellent map showing the undersea borders that are in contention. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has entered the fray with a Statement Regarding the Claims of the GCASC on Hydrocarbon Resources in the Eastern Mediterranean

And more from Turkey, despite President Obama’s tarmac diplomatic coup, Israel-Turkey Relations: Normalization Of Ties Will Not Be Quick, Erdogan Says

The political scene in Pakistan just got more complicated, with the return of former president Musharraf who, as CBC delicately puts it, “represents a polarizing force that could further complicate Pakistan’s attempt to hold parliamentary elections in May and stage its first transition from one civilian government to another.”

Last Thursday, after having informed those gathered around the Wednesday Night table that Nicolas Sarkozy had declined to be the NSoA gala keynote speaker, we were greeted with the news that he was under police investigation. It was gracious of him to decline and let NSoA off the hook before the news came out.

What is it with senior French politicians?
French prosecutors have placed former President Nicolas Sarkozy under investigation over allegations his election campaign solicited illegal donations
Rape allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn prevented him from running against Sarkozy. He would almost certainly have won.
Last week, police also searched the Paris apartment of IMF’s Christine Lagarde for an investigation into whether she favored a Sarkozy supporter in 2008, when she awarded him an arbitration payment while she was Sarkozy’s finance minister. Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac was given a suspended two-year prison sentence in December, when he was found guilty of misusing public funds when he was mayor of Paris.

In Canada the most exciting/entertaining federal scandals we have involve expensive orange juice, homeless senators and election expenses. Writing about the budget, Andrew Coyne put his finger on one problemThis government has a peculiar gift for understatement. When it wants to claim credit for something, it is careful to call attention to it in the best way it knows how: by leaking it to a member of the press. But when it has something controversial to announce, it whispers it in Swahili at the bottom of a well. Sometimes, however, those whisperings in Swahili emerge – like the warning to government librarians and archivists of ‘high risk’ activities such as going to a classroom, attending a conference, or speaking in public meetings about what they do. Jian Ghomeshi articulated our feelings about this latest development in his opening essay last Friday.

But be of good cheer – THE PANDAS have arrived. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on hand to greet the new arrivals as they disembarked from a highly customized FedEx Express Canada MD11 aircraft branded with an image of a panda. That should quash any complaints about CIDA being folded into DFAIT – with all the accompanying concerns that Canada’s development policies will now be linked to commercial interests, because now Mr. Harper has given the country a new message – Pandas are more important than  the Cree ‘walkers’ [Oh, and remember that Environment Canada declined to release large portions of a memo regarding the Harper government’s giant panda deal with China on the grounds that disclosing the information could threaten Canada’s national security.]

All the excitement (such as it was) has gone out of the ‘race’ for the Leadership of the LPC; despite the failure of a  large number of people (both supporters and members) to register to vote [see Liberal Leadership Vote To Be Decided Mostly By Older Ontarians], Justin Trudeau apparently has it in the bag. Faced with this certainty, the pundits are now beginning to reassess their comments, e.g. Michael Den Tandt: Justin Trudeau may be more than just a pretty face [Interesting that the original title was “Justin Trudeau is less vacuous than you might think”]. The two Davids (Jones and Kilgour) also weigh in on Justin Trudeau, offering (as usual) a good debate.
David Jones: Charisma alone makes him a force not to be taken lightly
David Kilgour: Justin Trudeau: Let’s not crown him emperor until we see his new clothes

But for real entertainment, we have to follow the dictum of all politics is local and watch the Charbonneau Commission. Speaking of which, what do you think – should Montreal award contracts to fill potholes to the companies cited in the Charbonneau inquiry? Seems there’s not much choice — a shortage of asphalt means that after a current contract expires on April 15, Montreal’s potholes will go unfilled — unless these companies are granted the contract.

There’s so much more. . However, we will close on a lighter note.

On the eve of Passover and Easter celebrations, we are pleased to offer you the very clever response to the question ‘What if today’s media told the Passover story?’ Passover: Breaking News (some of you may remember the Digital Story of Christmas) along with this delightful performance of Budapest’s Attraction Black Light Theatre; finally, this charming account: How Is the White House Seder Different From All Others?

For those who cannot be with us, warmest wishes for a very Happy Easter and/or Passover.

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