Wednesday Night #1655

Written by  //  November 20, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

A postscript to the discussion of real-estate prices: St John’s Wood mansion with 11 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a gym and underground parking has £65m price slashed by half
T H E  P R O L O G U E

Jim Mylonas will be with us to discuss Bank Credit Analyst’s November Geopolitical Strategy report. He comments “In the second section of our report we examine some of the implications of a U.S. détente with Iran. I think one of the most interesting findings of our report is that Iran could become an important source of natural gas for Europe. This would substantially lower energy costs in Europe and significantly reduce the stranglehold that the Kremlin currently has over the continent.”
All this is looking good – let us hope that Israel does not intervene to spoil the party.

Of the noteworthy events of the year 1655, we will stick to three which relate in some way to today’s news.
1. Pope Alexander VII became the 137th pope. He started off on the right path, declaring that he was anti-nepotism and luxury that Martin Luther had railed against, but soon returned to same-old practices. On the other hand, he was a visionary builder whose favorite architect was Bernini AND he greatly favoured the Jesuits.
All things considered, we are happy to have the exemplary Pope Francis.
2. Oliver Cromwell held sway as Lord Protector – “the Parliament began to work on a radical programme of constitutional reform. Rather than opposing Parliament’s bill, Cromwell dissolved them on 22 January 1655.” Dissolution or prorogation – what’s the difference? And we would bet that Stephen Harper would love to dissolve the Senate once and for all.
3. State sanctioned piracy along the Barbary Coast harassed English shipping and was temporarily halted by the British fleet. While we were all looking the other way, the third public-private counter piracy conference was held in Dubai, on 11-12 September. Not quite Admiral Blake with guns blazing, but a step forward in the undeclared war against piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

While all are focused on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (please see November 22 1963 – fifty years later), Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which will be celebrated by filmmaker Ken Burns in collaboration with PBS in  a highly original way

Four C topics top our list this week: (One way of deciding what to feature)

Mayor Denis Coderre unveiled his proposed 14-member Executive Committee on Monday. Happy to see Russell Copeman included, and that Marcel Côté will serve as a special advisor to the president of the EC. One to watch is 33-year old Beirut-born Harout Chitilian: vice-president of the executive committee, in charge of administrative reform, Smart City, technology & information. He has an impressive background and gave an articulate interview to CBC’s Homerun about the plans for his dossiers. All in all, it’s a promising team.
The Commonwealth
Did Stephen Harper make the right decision to not attend the Commonwealth Conference in Sri Lanka?
David Jones thought so when he wrote in Canada and the Commonwealth that “Harper has taken a reasoned decision, telegraphed far in advance. To wit, he noted upwards of two years ago that unless Sri Lanka leadership improved its human rights performance in relation to the Tamil minority, he would not attend the conference. They haven’t; he won’t.”
And it seems that Harper may have made the right choice – after all, he sewed up the Tamil vote in Scarborough and avoided a useless exercise insofar as the human rights agenda is concerned (See: BBC Leaders of Commonwealth nations issue a final statement at the end of a summit making no mention of alleged human rights abuses by host Sri Lanka  and The Economist:  Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth).
In the wake of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, CNBC helpfully offers China’s economic reforms: What you need to know , a summary with links.
Forbes is quite giddy over the effect of the reforms on the market, while the Wall Street Journal focuses on social issues, pointing out in China’s Potemkin Reforms that the one child policy will continue for most of the country and that:  “Even if re-education through labor does disappear, China has another, much larger gulag of forced-labor camps, known as “reform through labor,” or laogai. Inmates, believed to number in the millions, have to be convicted of a crime, but that is not a high bar in China’s primitive criminal justice system. Once a suspect is arrested, conviction is virtually guaranteed.”
And, for the market mavens: Dow Jones hits 16,000 points as stock markets hail China’s reforms – as it happened Beijing’s plans to liberalise Chinese economy send world stock markets to highest level since January 2008
Climate Change
One would think that Typhoon Haiyan should spur climate change action at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, however Deutsche Welle reports Pleas but no progress at climate talks There is a good status report as of Monday, 18 November on Think Progress – Dispatches From Warsaw: Controversial Issues Threaten To Derail Global Climate Talks
Meanwhile, unseasonable tornadoes wreaked havoc in the U.S. Middle West
See also Jeffrey Sachs: A few more storms like Typhoon Haiyan may finally make our leaders act on climate change
Not incidentally, our OWN Cleo Paskal is speaking at the Xth annual Trudeau Foundation Conference on Friday, 22 November at 9:30 am – unfortunately, if you haven’t registered, there is no more room at the inn. Her topic is How changes to the three “geos” – geophysics, geopolitics and geoeconomics – are rewriting the world map
We have had the privilege of hearing her views on this topic on several occasions, but she always has fresh material and new insights.

Given the weight of the topics proposed, it is only fair that we offer you some brain candy and here it is: from Wonderful engineering; These 40 Ideas Will Make Your House Super Awesome! – In fairness, we would add that many of these clever innovations were obviously conceived by talented engineers who do not have to worry about cleaning and maintaining order in their homes.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1655"

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