Wednesday Night #1625

Written by  //  April 24, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

With the end of the Boston Marathon bombings manhunt (although hardly the end of the legal issues) and the return of Kimon Valaskakis from Paris, we turn to matters of the global economy, along with perhaps some insights from him into the latest twists and turns of the French political scene (e.g. the investigation of allegations that Libya helped fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign)

Regarding the global economy, many of you may have been following the story of how Thomas Herndon, a doctoral student spotted errors in the 2010 paper on debt ratios by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff – what makes it particularly entertaining for some of us is that the paper in question has been cited by Paul Ryan. Several Wednesday Nighters have weighed in on the topic, but it is clear that Europe’s top policy makers are not budging.

The Secret of the Seven Sisters
Al Jazeera is presenting a four-part series that reveals how a secret pact formed a cartel that controls the world’s oil.
Throughout the [Middle East’s] modern history, since the discovery of oil, the Seven Sisters have sought to control the balance of power. They have supported monarchies in Iran and Saudi Arabia, opposed the creation of OPEC, profiting from the Iran-Iraq war, leading to the ultimate destruction of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The Seven Sisters were always present, and almost always came out on top.
Since that notorious meeting at Achnacarry Castle on August 28, 1928, they have never ceased to plot, to plan and to scheme.

Bringing the topic home to North America: Texas: One more threat to the oil sands – The Alberta oil sands were once seen as the last big oil reserve available to be exploited in a stable, democratic country. But that is no longer the case as companies bore in on new pools of oil in the United States. The latest is the Permian Basin, an oil-rich region in Texas that has produced crude since the 1920s. And as one friend of Wednesday Night comments: Permian Basin oil is light, relatively cheap to produce, can be trucked cheaply to Texas refineries, and while its wells don’t have the long lives of oilsands plants, neither do they have their very high, upfront capital costs.

The Secret World of Gold – a documentary exploring the power and politics of gold, a precious metal with more allure and fascination than any other. Valued for its permanence, beauty and scarcity, people will lie, cheat, steal and kill in the name of gold. (CBC Doc Zone, 18 April)
On a somewhat different gold-related note, Barrick appears to be having some difficulties coming under fire from Canada’s largest pension funds for paying an $11.9-million (U.S.) signing bonus to co-chairman John Thornton even as the embattled gold company faces a raft of setbacks and a plunging stock price.

Bill 14 hearings have wrapped after having heard distinctly varied opinions from 75 groups and citizens (including Wednesday Nighters Julius Grey and Beryl Wajsman), along with another 4,285 individuals who answered the online questionnaire. Our nominee for most ridiculous argument is the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ) who shared ‘horror stories’ of civil servants who used bilingualism to help citizens – the problem is many will not see the irony in this position. Now the question is what will the CAQ do? So far, M. Legault has stated three conditions that must be changed “military, municipalities and small companies,” Legault said. “In listening to the different groups, there are two more items that have been added: the definition of cultural communities and the powers of the minister and the Office.”

In Ottawa, the House of Commons is set to vote on an NDP motion urging the government to inform China that it will not ratify the (Canada-China FIPA) in its present form. Rabble.ca reports that the Vancouver Observer notes, “The Liberals have said they want to work with the current FIPA, and review it with public hearings across the country, rather than kill the agreement altogether” adding that yesterday [April 18], Green Party leader Elizabeth May Tweeted, “Agree we should (oppose FIPA), but we might get CPC MPs voting with us for hearings. We shld try.”
IRPP (Thank you, Tyler) has published a timely study on Foreign Direct Investment and the National Interest — A Way Forward that points out the need to provide greater certainty for investors and all Canadians alike, thus avoiding the need for drastic policy amendments in reaction to the specific issues raised by high-profile cases, as happened with Nexen and Progress Energy Resources.

But before they get to the FIPA topic, parliamentarians will be looking at the Harper government’s anti-terrorism bill which has suddenly become of the utmost urgency – whether because of the Boston bombings or because of Justin Trudeau’s intention to ride to the aid of the disgruntled Conservative members and introduce a motion to address their muzzling by Party Whip(s) – seems it is only Conservatives who currently have a problem.

After the gleeful Conservative comments about Justin Trudeau who got it all wrong when asked about the Boston tragedy (that would be L. Ian MacDonald), it is interesting to note a little-known initiative of Stephen Harper – the Kanishka Project, a five-year, $10 million program to “invest in research on pressing questions for Canada on terrorism and counter-terrorism.” Do read Paul Wells on Stephen Harper’s search for the root causes of terrorism.

A couple of reminders for your calendar:

Linda Leith Publishing authors will be well represented at Blue Met, in particular Peter Kirby whose The Dead of Winter has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. There will be a Launch event at 6:30 pm on Friday, April 26 , with Wade Rowland, Annie Heminway, & Marie-Andrée Lamontagne — and cartoons by Terry Mosher at Salon St-Laurent of Hotel 10 (10 Sherbrooke West).

On Monday, April 29 The CIC is presenting Ambassador Tuncay Babalı who will speak on Turkey’s Rise as a New Regional Power and Global Player – from 6-8 at the Atwater Club —  See details
A propos, Matthew Fisher’s recent piece for the National Post Turkey feels like it’s on a roll while Europe foundersThe explosive growth of China, India and, to a lesser extent Brazil, have received far more global attention. But in its own way Turkey has emerged as a powerhouse with tentacles reaching deep into Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East.

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