Wednesday Night #1702

Written by  //  October 15, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1702

turkeylampWe love Thanksgiving – both  celebrations – not only for the opportunity to offer heartfelt thanks for the wonderful friends and family around the world who enrich our lives and surround us with affection accompanied by intense mental stimulus tempered with sometimes dreadful jokes (You know who you are!), but also because it/they offer us the opportunity to post this marvelously ridiculous illustration.

We hope that you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with the same brilliant October sunshine we have enjoyed in Montreal, and without the need to scramble around the floor hunting for your dinner.

With the holiday over, it is now back to work and time for consideration of events around the globe and around the block.

Moment in time: Oct. 14, 1066 — William conquers in the Battle of Hastings
The Globe & Mail reminds us:
The only date in British history you really need to know is this one: the day Duke William of Normandy defeated the English King Harold to secure his role as the “Conqueror” and launch the age of the Normans. A thousand years removed, it’s hard to believe the memorable “facts” are completely authentic: a sky blackened by the French bowmen’s arrows; the battle-weary English army heroically defending their ground with deadly double-bladed axes; Harold’s death from an arrow to the eye. Whatever the truth, William’s victory at Hastings set the stage for a new era in British history. Society was firmly placed within a feudal system, castles and cathedrals stretched up to the heavens and leaders of Europe began paying strategic attention to what had previously been a lonely Germanic outpost. — Kate Hopwood

Need we remind you that the 14th is the LAST day to register to vote in the school board elections (the first in 7 years) and that this is the first time that the chairperson is to be elected by universal vote.  Anne Lagacé Dowson is running for chair, and in our opinion, deserves your vote.
The deadline for getting on the voting list is Oct. 18. The registration form is on the website of local school boards. It should be printed out and brought to the board or mailed. It must be received by Oct. 14. Click here to access a PDF of the EMSB voter eligibility form.
Education is always an important topic – at the risk of belaboring the excellence of the Finnish model, we highly recommend A Visit to One of Finland’s Famously Successful Schools We realize that refashioning our system and curriculum is way beyond the scope of the EMSB and its French language counterpart, but we would dearly love to see adoption of the many sensible approaches of the Finns.

The biggest news since last Wednesday is the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Pakistani teen, Indian activist win Nobel Peace Prize.  This year’s brilliantly balanced selection of two exceptionally worthy individuals (redeeming the committee for some  ill-advised choices in the past) has been acclaimed around the world with virtually the only dissenting and generally vitriolic voices coming from Pakistan, e.g. What People In Pakistan Really Think About Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai.
This piece by Chris Allbritton in The Daily Beast offers some reasons for the reaction;  Why So Many Pakistanis Hate Their Nobel Peace Prize Winner
“… everything that happens in Pakistan is a plot by the Indians, America, or Israel. Or all three. The Taliban, power cuts, corruption, economic stagnation, Osama bin Laden, all of it. The tendency to see plots and enemies behind every tree is a common trait of the English-speaking Pakistani middle class, which is overwhelmingly conservative, nationalistic, and suspicious of the West. Non-Muslims, foreigners, anyone embraced by the United States (such as Malala), and even minority religious sects in Pakistan are all seen as agents of foreign powers.
Meanwhile, our recent, fascinating, guest  C Uday Bhaskar writes about the Irony of peace award amid India-Pakistan border friction.

The crisis in the Middle East continues to dominate international news, and at a national level is Canada’s role in the alliance. Rare admission, we agree completely with Conrad Black: Fixing the Middle East, for now and forever
“Eventually, there will have to be some boots on the ground to make any sense out of Iraq and Syria in particular, but they should be Islamic boots. The West can’t occupy these countries and they can’t be too choosy about how they are governed. The Turks, Egyptians, and Persians have, in their past (and in the case of Turkey, not just in the mists of antiquity) some vocation to rule that area. We should try to unite the European Union, Russia, China, Japan and the North Americans to encourage them and the Saudis to rediscover that vocation. In the meantime, the West should supply the cutting edge to subduing Islamic State; on this, the government deserves our support”
News reports have focused on the plight of the town of Kobanê close to the Syria/Turkey border along with sharp criticism of Turkey’s unwillingness to help. Most observers appear to agree with Carnegie Scholar Marc Pierini that the town is doomed. The U.S. military judgement is based on the absence of strong allied forces on the ground; and second, the Islamic State has dispersed its assets throughout the city, making it impossible to efficiently target the militants’ heavier weaponry. In Kobanê and Beyond: Unfathomable Risks for Turkey and the Kurds, Mr. Pierini argues strongly that “the immense symbolic significance of the fall of Kobanê would help the jihadists prove their “righteousness” and prevent any wavering within their ranks. It would allow the militants to recruit more supporters and send them into combat more easily. Conversely, defeating the Islamic State in Kobanê would dent this narrative.”

The only encouraging news from the Middle East was Monday’s declaration by Iran’s president that a nuclear deal with West ‘certain’ “We have reached consensus on generalities and there are only the fine details to be worked out: whether we would reach an agreement within the next 40 days, if the time will be extended, etc.,” the president told his people in a late evening address broadcast live on television.
“Of course details are important too, but what’s important is that the nuclear issue is irreversible. I think a final settlement can be achieved in these remaining 40 days. We will not return to the situation a year ago. The world is tired and wants it to end, resolved through negotiations,” he said.

As the focus on ISIS continues, there has been a little noticed move in the Ukraine stand-off- Putin orders Russian troops away from Ukraine border. “The withdrawal may be a sign of good will ahead of Putin’s trip to Milan on Thursday, where he is set to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and European Union leaders. As EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia begin to bite and economic growth falters, Moscow may also hope that a troop withdrawal will bolster the chance that Western nations will revoke those measures. Late last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU was still not considering removing the sanctions because of ongoing fighting in east Ukraine.” Judy Dempsey, Editor in chief of Strategic Europe, the blog of Carnegie Europe, is harsher :  “Just days before the Milan summit, in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website, Russia said it would pull back the 17,600 troops that have been deployed along its border with Ukraine. It was a cynical gesture aimed at persuading EU leaders to consider when they should lift the sanctions. (The EU’s Wavering Over Russia)

In case you missed it, CBC The National: The Sunday Panel with Margo Somerville, Jonathan Kay and John Moore (starts at 20:20) debate assisted suicide in light of forthcoming Supreme Court hearing on October 15. [Supreme Court to rule soon if assisted suicide is a human right]

Pope Francis continues to astound: “He has convinced many Catholic Church leaders to moderate their formerly strongly critical language about gay unions, and to admit that homosexuals may have “gifts and qualities to offer”. The tone of a preliminary position paper drawn up by about 200 bishops after a week of closed-door discussions shows compassion and understanding not only towards people in single-sex unions, but also to heterosexual couples who live together without marrying and divorced couples who enter a second marriage without bothering to obtain a Church annulment”. Vatican synod: Victory for Pope Francis on gay issues

At the heart of St MarysReminder that Alan Hustak‘s At the Heart of St Mary’s: A History of Montreal’s St. Mary’s Hospital Centre, published by Véhicule Press is now available – a great Christmas gift for anyone who has any connection with the hospital, whether as a patient or in some other capacity, or merely enjoys Alan’s wonderful narratives.

Catherine Gillbert invites Wednesday Nighters to “attend a production of Kafka’s Ape to be staged in Saint Lambert on October 23 -25 by Infinitheatre. The proceeds will be used to benefit Our Harbour, an organization that provides housing for people living with mental illness that I have been supporting for the past 10 years. The production has been touring in Ontario and has had excellent reviews.” Our Harbour hosts Kafka’s Ape — World class theatre on the South Shore. Reserve your tickets now through the Infinitheatre Box Office at or email the box office: or buy them from your local Our Harbour contacts, including Brian Morel in Saint-Lambert at . Tickets cost $25 each.

With all of the criticism of airline service (or lack thereof) take a look at KLM’s original and endearing approach to finding the owners of lost objects – this will make you smile.

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