Wednesday Night #1710

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Malala Yousafzai: From a schoolgirl to a Nobel Peace Prize winner

On Wednesday, Yousafzai is to accept her Nobel at a ceremony in Oslo. Her very survival and her accomplishments since the shooting – including addresses at the United Nations and the World Bank, writing a book and establishing a foundation – would seem to guarantee that the cause won’t be neglected. But stopping the Islamist extremists bent on suppressing equal rights for girls and women is another matter.
The Pakistani Taliban has continued blowing up schools for girls in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and, across the border, the Afghan Taliban has conducted poison attacks on  schools to discourage attendance.

Suddenly I have a dreadful urgeIt always seems difficult to strike the right chord in the pre-Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice period. While we want to be Merry and Bright, certainly celebrate anything to do with light in these last dreary days before the Solstice, and believe in reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, it becomes ever-more difficult to create suitably celebratory prose in light of the pervasive gloomy news of global and personal nature.
So, we offer a grab bag of items from which you may pick and choose.


Beliveau 4Dominating Canadian news – and beyond: see NYT,  Jean Béliveau, Leader of Canadiens and a Hero to Canadians, Dies at 83 since last week. He is to be buried on Wednesday after a funeral at which four legendary Habs players, Dickie Moore, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard and Ken Dryden, will give eulogies. We wonder what “Le Gros Bill” would have thought of the send-off he has been given including the visitation at the Bell Centre and the state funeral at Mary Queen of the World. We can only hope that his shining example will have some lasting effect on today’s many brutish young players who seem to revel in the antithesis of his elegance and good manners.
Among the many personal accounts of Monsieur Béliveau’s grace is our friend Andrew Caddell‘s charming story in the Globe & Mail of his Aunt Elga’s encounter with her idol, while Anne Lagacé Dowson writes in the HuffPost Why There Will Never Be Another Jean Beliveau

In stark contrast: Lise Thibault, ex-Quebec lieutenant-governor, pleads guilty to 6 charges
Thibault offers to pay back $310K of money she’s accused of misspending after switching plea
We still don’t understand this story – how did she get away with it at the time and what was she thinking?

As debate about climate change continues to heat up (sorry!) we direct your attention to It’s time to start ignoring the climate deniers: I do not believe that climate change deniers exist. I have heard the statistics and have seen the graphs, but I am not convinced. So I do what the supposed deniers do – I ignore them and move on. Despite the levity of the headline and opening paragraph, the author, Isaac Tamblyn, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, presents a well argued case that “By talking about the deniers, the debate focuses on how to fix the problem of denial rather than climate change itself.”

Possibly our favorite local item – this is for Ron Meisels:: Kids at Montreal’s Santa Claus parade told that global warming is caused by sunshine
Children attending this year’s Santa Claus Parade in Montreal were trolled by a video billboard at a busy city intersection proclaiming global warming is caused by sunshine. Yes. Sunshine.The billboard was paid for by “Friends of Science,” a Calgary-based group that once counted a major oil company as a donor. The group’s stated goal is to “educate the public” about how “the sun is the main direct and indirect driver of climate change.”

It appears that the MUHC simply cannot avoid controversy for more than a day or two. Leaving aside the spurts of the Arthur-Porter-SNC-Lavalin geysers, we now have the ventilation system of the new Research Centre which creates a totally unacceptable level of noise for  the citizens of lower Westmount who have the misfortune to  live near-by. After almost a year, the citizens have, understandably, raised angry voices, pointing out that the system is violating Westmount’s noise limits. Our sympathies are with the hospital’s angry neighbors.

You may have missed this item of more national interest. Should Canadian medicare include drug coverage?
(Globe editorial) Two Canadian think tanks weighed in this week on the same issue – the state of provincial drug plans for seniors – but came to dramatically different conclusions.
A C.D. Howe Institute study concluded that age-based drug plans, which pay for medications for those over 65, will face huge cost pressures as the ranks of seniors increase dramatically in the coming years. Currently a majority of the provinces have these kinds of plans. A better alternative, the report says, is to base coverage on income, so those with the least resources – whatever their age – will get their drugs paid for.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy’s report, on the other hand, says that replacing age-based drug benefits with those based on income – as British Columbia and some other provinces have done – is a mistake.
The deductibles that are a feature of income-base plans can hurt many seniors and add costs to the system, it says. The IRPP study favours full and universal coverage of drug costs. Such plans, it says, could be financed with small income tax hikes. And dramatic savings could be achieved if the provinces and territories create a central agency to buy drugs, thus generating huge discounts from bulk purchases. IRPP Study: Are Income-Based Public Drug Benefit Programs Fit for an Aging Population?

Social media
As always, Alexandra Greenhill has a good story to tell with embedded valuable lessons. In The best 4 reasons to use LinkedIn, Alex tells us that she recently received an unexpected invitation from ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex W. Tillerson wanting to connect with her …
We love her gracefully pointed answers to the unknown solicitors of the Linked-in variety. We have noted them and you may want to, too.
Unsocial media
Less graceful, but truly inspired is this solution to the calls from blocked or unknown phone numbers (think those people who call trying to sell you a “Windows maintenance contract” ), Answer and whisper: “It’s done, but there is blood everywhere.” Then hang up.
Best of all President Obama makes an appearance on the Colbert Report

CIA Interrogation ReportFive revelations about the CIA’s interrogation techniques
(NYT News Service) The Senate committee report spends little time condemning torture on moral or legal grounds. Instead, it addresses mainly a practical question: Did torture accomplish anything of value? Looking at case after case, the report answers with an unqualified no. In fact, it says, “CIA officers regularly called into question whether the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were effective, assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee co-operation or produce accurate intelligence.”
CIA tortured, misled, report says, drawing calls for action
(Reuters) – The CIA misled the White House and public about its torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks and acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged, a U.S. Senate report said on Tuesday, drawing calls to prosecute American officials.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s five-year review of 6.3 million pages of CIA documents concluded that the intelligence agency failed to disrupt a single plot despite torturing al Qaeda and other captives in secret facilities worldwide between 2002 and 2006, when George W. Bush was president.

Oil as a Political Weapon
The Economic Consequences of Global Oil Deflation
(Counterpunch) There are at least three major potential impacts on global economic instability that will likely follow in the wake of global oil price deflation, some of which have already begun to appear:
Cash-Strapped Russia Won’t Support Ukrainian Separatist Regions Of Donetsk And Luhansk
As a new ceasefire begins Tuesday between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin plunged the political fate of the contested regions of Donetsk and Luhansk into uncertainty.

How He and His Cronies Stole Russia (‘He’ would be Vladimir Putin)
Book review by Anne Applebaum
Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha
(NY Review of Books 18 December issue) What if it made no difference which mistakes were made, which privatization plans were sidetracked, which piece of advice was not followed? What if “reform” was never the most important story of the past twenty years in Russia at all?

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