Wednesday Night #1681

Written by  //  May 20, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

We  enjoy relating the WN number to historical events and #1681 gives us an apt  lead-in to next week’s guests, David & Terry Jones,  distinguished graduates of the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1681, English Quaker William Penn received the charter from Charles II, making him sole proprietor of colonial American territory Pennsylvania.

Ukraine
An unrelated historical event noted by Wikipedia, was the Treaty of Bakhchisarai which ended the Russo-Turkish War (1676–1681),  between Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crimean Khanate. (formally annexed by Russia some hundred years later)  They signatories agreed to a 20-year truce and had accepted the Dnieper River as the demarcation line between the Ottoman Empire and Moscow‘s domain. The sultan recognized Muscovy’s sovereignty in the Left-bank Ukraine region and the Zaporozhian Cossack domain, while the southern part of the Kiev region, the Bratslav region, and Podolia were left under Ottoman control. Despite the treaty, Russia later joined a European coalition against the Ottoman Empire. Something to remember as we look forward to the elections on the 25th.

Russia/China
Mr Putin is in Shanghai trying to seal an important energy deal after more than 10 years of talks. …  with Putin facing trade and financial sanctions from the U.S. and European Union Reuters is not as enthusiastic as others reporting on the meeting: “There’s nothing quite like a multi-billion dollar gas deal to bring two countries together. But Russia is likely to find its increased reliance on China amid Western pressure comes at a cost.”

China is meanwhile engaged in a nasty little fight with Vietnam over a CNOOC oil rig in an area of  the South China Sea that both countries claim. Amidst riots, the Chinese are evacuating thousands of their nationals. This follows earlier, but on-going, disputes with Japan and the Philippines over the China Seas and can only augur more problems over strategically placed tiny little islands that most westerners have never heard of by either of their names (each country of course has its own name for the islands).

India is the dominant good news story of the week – most western analysts and commentators are positively burbling over the victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP in what appears to have been a generally orderly process in which 563 million people cast votes. Cleo Paskal offers a personal look at one gathering in Mumbai  on the night the results were announced  Miracles do happen’: Honchos cheer advent of Modi which reminded us somewhat of the more modest gathering  in which we participated on Election Night in Quebec.  There are, of course,  still fears that Mr. Modi will prove to be the rabid Hindu nationalist and ‘hatemonger’ that many feared. The most remarkable thing about the election is the crushing defeat of the Congress Party, but so far, it has not abandoned its leaders, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi (just imagine how fast a Canadian or U.S. political party would have eviscerated its leader in the face of such a blow!).

Syrias elections will hardly be as exemplary. Despite the  truly horrendous destruction wrought on his country over the past three years, according to Reuters “Assad, who has steadily clawed back control over the center of the country, is widely expected to win a third seven-year term in a June 3 election which his enemies have condemned as a charade.”

Here we are compelled to veer slightly off topic. It is noted that “Rahul [Ganhi], a Cambridge-educated former management consultant, has struggled to connect with voters” – we would recommend that he move to Calgary to learn from another former management consultant just how it is done. As unabashed admireres of Naheed Nenshi, we would urge every aspiring and practicing politician to study closely Mayor Nenshi’s  successful formula (Naheed Nenshi: The reluctant brand) – mind you, the personality counts for a lot.
We wish that he could be cloned for various levels of government, but lacking that possibility, as the National Assembly resumes sitting, we remain hopeful that Quebec’s new Liberal government will master its files and get on quickly with setting the house in order. Unfortunately, this will be a short session – rising on June 13. Premier Couillard makes his inaugural address on Wednesday. “An inaugural address, as you know, is to tell [the people] what the plan is for a government for the next four and a half years, and this is what I will do. It will be quite clear.” Good! Let’s listen attentively, take notes and hold them to it. We can count on Beryl Wajsman to do so – he has already started with A prescription for healthcare
A curious footnote: Pierre Karl Péladeau will miss first day of the new National Assembly session (and possibly the entire session) as he suffered eight fractures in a bicycle accident and is languishing in the Sherbrooke hospital (traditional fiefdom of those PLQ doctor/MNAs). We are sure he will be well looked after!

Mention of Mayor Nenshi inevitably brings to mind his leadership during and after last year’s terrible floods, taking us to  the natural disasters that continue at an alarming rate. Floods in Serbiadrought and wildfires in California. the Passionate Eye’s presentation on May 17th, Last Call at the Oasis was a timely reminder that the world is in dire straits, thanks to our failure to conserve and protect its most valuable asset – Water.

As always, there is so much more on our minds.
Media tops the list this week starting with Net neutrality with passionate arguments from both sides [(Forbes) Why ‘Net Neutrality’ Is A Dumb Idea versus the New Yorker’s thoughtful essay Net Neutrality and the Idea of America – which raises the parallel issue of the future of news papers as illustrated by the Atlantic’s analysis What the Death of Homepages Means for the Future of NewsNews publishers lost the homepage firehose, and gained a social media flood. It’s making the news more about readers, and less about news. and the leaked New York Times innovation report – the leak coinciding with the summary firing of Jill Abramson.
Meanwhile in Canada, debate continues to rage over the fate of CBC   Cultural Studies: The Stursbergians vs. The Gzowskiteers — Why it’s time for the nerds to stand up for their CBC is a fascinating look at the internal culture of CBC — where do you stand?

We are not ignoring the plight of the kidnapped girls  – or the spate of  terrorist bombings that continue to plague Nigeria . We can only hope that the outcome of  the Paris Summit  translates the declaration of good intentions into serious action, but the news that comes daily is discouraging. Dare we hope that there is more going on behind the scenes that we are not being told – there are times when public information only abets the enemy.

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