Wednesday Night #1691

Written by  //  July 30, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The Stock Market is expected to continue rising, providing many opportunities for investors, with energy stocks doing particularly well. Although inflation is not a serious factor at this time, it is expected to have an impact at some point in the future.
Symptoms of political fragility in France include very bureaucratic local government, and increasing protest vote in favour of the Front National.

Israel/Palestine, Ukraine — the news seems to only get worse and no solutions in sight.
Al Jazeera reports on Tuesday afternoon Hamas armed wing: no truce if siege continues — Qassam Brigades chief says Israel must lift blockade of Gaza, hours after PLO attempt to agree 24-hour ceasefire stalls.
One analysis you may find of interest is Why Is Israel Losing a War It’s Winning? — Six reasons why Israel is on the back foot even as it wins the battle against rockets and tunnels.

While the U.S., EU, and Canada have announced new sanctions against Russia, (and Bombardier says economic sanctions could delay $3.4B project), heavy fighting has again prevented an international team from accessing the MH17 crash site.
A somewhat related question is What will change after MH17
The missile attack that downed the Malaysian Airlines flight was a game-changer for aviation. What to expect: rerouted long-haul routes, “conflict” fuel surcharges, changes to insurance policies, and more.
In the wake of the latest disaster involving Malaysia Airlines, more and more questions are being asked about the financial viability of the airline, as well as the legal fallout and the rights of victims’ families.

P R O L O G U E

The alarming spread of the highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus is sweeping across Africa
As CBC reports, More than doctors [are] needed to contain West Africa’s unprecedented crisis – Over 1,200 cases already in deadly epidemic, including prominent physicians. Quebec doctor Marc Forget, who has been on the front lines of the epidemic in Guinea for seven weeks, told CBC News that past Ebola outbreaks were contained quite quickly with the intervention of international groups such as Doctors Without Borders working in conjunction with a country’s ministry of health.
This time, he says, “the magnitude of the disease is unprecedented,” and a stronger response is required, both in resources and personnel — including water, sanitation and logistics specialists, as well as medical staff. The Guardian adds: Authorities across west Africa have announced a series of measures aimed at stopping the spread of the Ebola virus, which reached a fourth country last week with a death in Lagos. … Attempts to halt the seven month-crisis, which has spiralled into the world’s biggest and most widespread outbreak of Ebola, have been hampered by a lack of resources and poor understanding in a region which has never experienced an epidemic.

In contrast, events in Canada are petty problems, both avoidable and fixable. As many of you are now aware, in 2010, the Harper government stealthily replaced the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award with the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award. For the record, of the many actions of the Harper government with which we take issue, this is probably the one that has upset us the most. Why it has only come to light during the past few days is a mystery. Nonetheless, the media have pounced [Thérèse Casgrain, feminist icon, quietly dropped as federal award namesake— Federal award named after feminist icon and heroine of Quebec women’s rights movement eliminated; (Globe & Mail) Feminist disappears from public history under Harper government ; (La Presse) Le prix Thérèse-Casgrain abandonné en catimini par le gouvernement Harper and even (the National Post) Therese Casgrain, feminist icon, written out of public history under Stephen Harper’s government], many reminding their audience that “The Harper government has spent millions to commemorate the War of 1812 and other episodes from Canadian history”. So,  the feisty Mme Casgrain, revered for her volunteerism, has been disappeared in favor of the colorless ‘Prime Minister’ – and we all know who that is. As expected, the PMO defends Harper government’s handling of feminist icon Therese Casgrain, but it’s not a very robust defense. nor likely to quell the anger of many.

Bitcoins – you thought they had gone away, but it appears that’s not the case.
The dramatic news that an Internal Finance memo warns of potential for Bitcoin-related crime becomes considerably less so when reading that the memo was prepared in 2013 for the late former Finance Minister Flaherty. The memo, says CTV, is among several internal notes — including an RCMP analysis — that reveal the concern among federal officials about Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. No surprise.

A new book, How Paris Became Paris, is highlighted by the ever-interesting Delancey Place. It traces the rise of the great financiers of France to the profligacy of the king in the early 1600s. The sheer magnitude of the king’s needs meant that the bankers of Paris displaced the famed bankers of Florence as the most important in Europe: “In the word financier’s inaugural appearance in English, in the 1652 The State of France, John Evelyn explained the workings of ‘the king’s revenue’ and described ‘the great Financiers who suck the very blood of the French people.’
Plus ça change …. see  America’s 10 Most Hated Banks
The majority of complaints targeting Bank of America—over 27,500 of them—concern mortgage practices, including foreclosure processing. In 2012, Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ally Bank—the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers—entered into a $25 billion settlement with 49 states and the federal government over the banks’ use of faulty foreclosure documents.
Out of the 26,055 complaints filed against Wells Fargo—which is accused of directing minority borrowers into subprime loans in the lead-up to the financial crisis—close to 6,000 concerned issues consumers had with their checking or savings accounts, including complaints over fees and charges. In 2010, Wells was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to customers for manipulating debit card transactions in order to rack up overdraft fees.
So, after saying nasty things about Grinch banks and bankers, we want to congratulate Mitch Joel, his collaborators (he says “Just to be clear, this is a multi-agency collaboration. We handled the website”) and their client, TD, on an extraordinary campaign A Bank Uses Its ‘ATMs’ To Say Thanks To Regular Customers In The Most Personalized and Heartfelt Way – Totally amazing!

We would also add two good news stories on Development & Aid. The first is the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, while the second comes from PSI via Devex.com. “We learned that development best practices flourish when there is the opportunity to share both success and failure. Our unique model connects locally rooted organizations to a global network of services. Members have access to central systems for procurement — allowing them to benefit from global relationships with vendors and competitive pricing that comes with scale. They also receive support for compliance and financial standards, helping them navigate the complex nature of government donor regulations. Internal audits help minimize corruption and allow for greater impact from donor funds. Network members also benefit from global communications and advocacy efforts that tell the story of how aid is saving lives to important decision-making audiences like members of Congress, Parliament and the general public.”

For the nuclear enthusiasts – a sad tale.
The ship that totally failed to change the world
Fifty years ago the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship sailed from the US to Europe on a publicity tour to persuade the world to embrace the atomic age. It didn’t quite work out like that. … In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had made his famous Atoms for Peace speech, attempting to balance the growing fear of nuclear apocalypse with optimism about the possibility of civilian use of atomic energy. And he wanted an atomic ship. A civilian one. Just three other nuclear merchant ships were built – the German ore transporter Otto Hahn; Japan’s freighter Mutsu; and the Russian ice-breaking container vessel Sevmorput. Like the Savannah, they are no longer in service.

Why have so many creative minds suffered from mental illness? Don’t miss the PBS series on the science of the brain. Particularly intriguing is  Connecting strength and vulnerability of the creative brain, produced in partnership with The Atlantic magazine, which features this topic as its cover story

Wednesday Nighters remain creative without – as far as we know – suffering from mental illness. The prolific Brett House has a positive piece in Open Canada: How Canada Can Make Multilateralism Work.
In Couillard’s tough medicine is just what Quebec needs Adam Daifallah writes admiringly of the Quebec premier’s economic ministers and policy. David Jones, on the other hand, addresses Canadian Supreme Court issues in Be Careful What You Ask Forpublished in the Hill Times on 28 July. He posits that A future PQ government could submit a list of prominent separatist lawyers for the Quebec-designate position.
Meanwhile, Dr. Charles (Chuck) Cogan comments with disgust on the treatment of the crash site and victims by the Ukrainian rebels: “restricting the access, firing guns into the air to prove a point, and looting bodies in some cases, the followers of the so-called Donetsk Peoples Republic in southeastern Ukraine did nothing but heap shame on themselves and indirectly, on their Russian sponsors.” Barbarians at the Site.

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