Wednesday Night #1689

Written by  //  July 16, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Hope you all celebrated Bastille Day appropriately. In commemoration, a couple of Fb friends posted this great scene from our all-time favorite “Casablanca” – enjoy!

The move is in its final stages and the ‘front office’ is pretty well completed, except for odds and ends that are not crucial.
Some of you have been kind enough to send cheery notes about how entertaining Diana’s sporadic accounts of our frustrations have been – frankly, she would have happily foregone the joy of entertaining you, had there been a way to avoid those bumps in the road. However, in the spirit of aiming to please, there will be a final note when everything is completed or sufficiently camouflaged.
Meanwhile, as you will understand, research time has been limited; and, not only is the news so terribly depressing, but it is difficult to single out any topic that we individually or collectively can do anything about.

So, here are a few random notes that may/may not be of interest and worthy of further examination this week.

We cannot bear to regurgitate the ever-changing news and opinion on the conflagration(s) in the Middle East. To us, the current Israel-Hamas confrontation appears senselessly wicked on both sides, but we are well aware of the deep-rooted beliefs and grievances among our friends on all sides of the dispute. We wish that the nations of the world could impose some form of mortal hand-to-hand combat among perhaps 20 of the most extreme leaders of thought on each side and once they had all been dispatched, an honourable peace among the citizens. As that is not realistic, must we stand idly by while this conflict continues with endless name-calling by the righteous leaders on both – all – sides? We can only conclude (and wait for the firestorm of criticism) that the creation of Israel is a classic illustration of no good deed goes unpunished. Dr. Hans Black has forwarded the July 2014 edition of Interinvest Global Issues“A Very Dangerous and Volatile Situation”. Please let us know if you would like to receive a (pdf) copy. On a different note, see This Land Is Mine, a brief animated history that makes a telling point in a brutally simple way. .

We are ignoring the FIFA World Cup – other than to await the report of the bean counters, who will tell us the size of the obscene profits raked in by FIFA (From its near $4.5 billion in revenue from broadcasters, sponsors, hospitality and licensing deals, FIFA distributes just over $400 million to the 32 national federations taking part in the tournament.) as opposed to how much Brazil spent and whether any of the revenues that FIFA permits the host country to retain will be redirected to hospitals, education and the many basic societal needs of that country.

Ah, but wait a minute. FIFA is ended and in the wake of Brazil’s ignominious showing, President Dilma Rousseff can point to the successful conclusion of the BRICS meet at Forteleza — BRICS set up bank to counter Western hold on global finances
Leaders of the BRICS emerging market nations launched a $100-billion development bank and a currency reserve pool on Tuesday in their first concrete step toward reshaping the Western-dominated international financial system. The bank aimed at funding infrastructure projects in developing nations will be based in Shanghai and India will preside over its operations for the first five years, followed by Brazil and then Russia, leaders of the five-nation group announced at a summit.

Across the Atlantic the EU is also moving forward, with the election of Jean-Claude Juncker [Broad Majority of Pro-EU Lawmakers Elect Juncker to Head Commission — New President Will Be First Not to Have Been Backed by All EU Leaders] after he made a series of pledges that included a five-year freeze on admitting any new countries and “guaranteed minimum incomes” across the EU. We are not sure what happens to the six countries currently candidates for EU membership—Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. We look forward to analysis and comments from our international economists – especially Kimon.

As you know, we have a particular interest in Alzheimer’s Disease, and David is participating in a clinical study at the Jewish General under the supervision of our friend Dr. Howard Chertkow. Howard is currently attending the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen from which comes this intriguing report via the Wall Street Journal (thank you, Fiona)

Key to Detecting Alzheimer’s Early Could Be in the EyeSense of Smell Also May Be a Way to Screen . A second report also of interest, Lifestyle changes are key to easing Alzheimer’s risk and Le Devoir reports that Alzheimer : une découverte québécoise crée de l’espoirD’anciens médicaments contre le cholestérol pourraient retarder l’apparition de la maladie

For summer entertainment, are you following the Lisée (mini) scandal over his frequent trips to Paris? Definitely summer fare. More   serious reading comes from our favorite Céline Cooper and her latest piece for the Gazette: It’s Trudeau vs. Mulcair hereThe Harper Conservatives, whose policies have not been popular with Quebecers, won’t have a chance in this province in 2015.  Céline is quoted in the National Post’s Full Pundit, Did Stephen Harper save Canada?, which offers a good round-up of recent political commentary.

We have often raised the disturbing collapse of the honeybee colonies and its effect on food production. This NYT piece points out that there are important lessons for human society to draw from this disaster.
No bees no food
Our Bees, Ourselves – Bees and Colony Collapse
Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society.
(NYT) AROUND the world, honeybee colonies are dying in huge numbers: About one-third of hives collapse each year, a pattern going back a decade. For bees and the plants they pollinate — as well as for beekeepers, farmers, honey lovers and everyone else who appreciates this marvelous social insect — this is a catastrophe.
Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts. The main elements include the compounding impact of pesticides applied to fields, as well as pesticides applied directly into hives to control mites; fungal, bacterial and viral pests and diseases; nutritional deficiencies caused by vast acreages of single-crop fields that lack diverse flowering plants; and, in the United States, commercial beekeeping itself, which disrupts colonies by moving most bees around the country multiple times each year to pollinate crops.
The real issue, though, is not the volume of problems, but the interactions among them. Here we find a core lesson from the bees that we ignore at our peril: the concept of synergy, where one plus one equals three, or four, or more. A typical honeybee colony contains residue from more than 120 pesticides. Alone, each represents a benign dose. But together they form a toxic soup of chemicals whose interplay can substantially reduce the effectiveness of bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to diseases.

Costa Concordia re-floated to be towed away for scrap
Tug boats then attached cables to the ship and shifted it about 30 metres away from shore. “Little bit heavier than we estimated, but she is up,” salvage master Nick Sloane told Reuters, saying that Monday’s activities had been “perfect”.

And for those who prefer air travel to obscenely large passenger ships that these days have a tendency to get into trouble, these are really, really useful : 40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

 ADDENDA

The F-35 is back in the news – yet again – please see Canada’s fighter jet fleet debate for the latest in this long, sad tale.
Two Delancey Place reviews to recommend:
Albert Einstein and solar power from The Quest by Daniel Yergin and GDP and happiness from GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History by Diane Coyle. If you have not yet been introduced to the delightful reviews from Delanceyplace, you are in for a treat.
And this from Singapore: Singapore anti-gambling ad backfires after Germany wins World Cup 2014 final over Argentina
An ad campaign warning of the perils of gambling that began as just another bland public service announcement by Singapore’s government has turned into fodder for international mockery, and left authorities scrambling after Germany’s World Cup victory.
In the TV version of the ad, which debuted last month when the World Cup kicked off, a sullen young boy named Andy tells his friends in the playground that his father had used all of Andy’s savings to bet on Germany to win the tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

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