Wednesday Night #1722 with Peter Berezin

Written by  //  March 4, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

In support of BCA’s forecast of a Weaker RMB Ahead is this longer-range prediction from Dr. David Shambaugh, professor of international affairs and director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The Coming Chinese Crackup
The endgame of communist rule in China has begun, and Xi Jinping’s ruthless measures are only bringing the country closer to a breaking point
P R O L O G U E
Peter Berezin will be with us in his new capacity of BCA’s Chief Strategist, Global Investment Strategy. No doubt there will be much talk of the EU, Greece, other members of the PIGS tribe and the consequences of a “shift from a zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) to a negative interest rate policy (NIRP).”
David Mitchell has tunneled his way through the snow banks of the Maritimes to send this analysis Turning the European Debt Myth Upside-Down — The European debt crisis has little to do with poor budgeting and everything to do with crony capitalism for our economists’ comments. We know that Kimon will be pleased with the statement that “And as for lazy: Greeks work 600 hours more a year than Germans.” A point he has been reiterating for several years!
More grist for the mills of economists and governance watchers is found in the monthly listing of papers from CIGI (Centre for International Governance Innovation).
In the past week, four remarkable men have died. Their deaths have been treated with varying amounts of media coverage. While the affectionate celebration of Leonard Nimoy‘s exemplary life (if you were living on a desert island with no Internet, you may not have understood the array of talents and interests combined in Mr. Spock’s alter ego) has been widespread, it was immediately overshadowed in the international media by the assassination of the much younger Russian politician and reform anti-Putin activist Boris Nemtsov. Mr. Putin’s announcement that he is taking personal charge of the investigation is not particularly reassuring to seekers of the truth, and rumours concerning the possible perpetrators abound.
The death on Thursday night of Rev. Theodore Hesburgh did not make many headlines . He was 97 and had faded somewhat from the public memory, although as president of Notre Dame for 35 years, he was one of the premier Catholic educators in the U.S. And he was so much more. Open-minded, an utterly pragmatic reformer, his responses to some of Harry Reasoner’s questions on this 60 Minutes interview may seem fairly standard today, but way ahead of the pack in the 70s and 80s. His portfolios ranged from world hunger to atoms for peace to academic freedom for Catholic universities to cleaning up college athletics. Presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, named him to commissions on everything from Vietnam amnesty to immigration reform. For years, Hesburgh carried a Vatican diplomatic passport as the Holy See’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Commission. The fourth – and oldest – of the quartet is Ernest Côté, soldier, scholar, public servant, who died at the age of 101. His name is familiar because of the recent story of his plucky survival of a home invasion, but he should be known and remembered for a lifetime of achievements detailed in the obituary in the Ottawa Citizen. His death was greeted in The House by a justly deserved standing ovation.
What strikes us about these four men is their exceptional moral strength, intelligence, intellectual and personal honesty, versatility and leadership skills, qualities that are sadly lacking in today’s celebrity-driven society where a Donald Trump receives more attention than a Nobel laureate. There is much talk about teaching leadership – courses abound in our universities – but we would argue that leadership is not taught. It is an innate gift that can be honed, but there is an inner drive, a self-assuredness and a dedication to goals (bad as well as good) that is not imparted in a classroom.
On Tuesday, Binyamin Netanyahu will speak to the U.S. Congress and the world (including Vice President Biden and the Representatives who are refusing to attend the event) will be watching. We believe that John Boehner made a very serious error in inviting Mr. Netanyahu and the latter may have been too clever by half in having negotiated the invitation Netanyahu’s Legacy: A Fractured Israel and a Divided America. While in the final hours before Bibi’s speech, the two principles appear to be trying to soften the image of profound disagreement, the right-wing media fans the flames with headlines like the National review’s Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us
We are always wary of any media (social or otherwise) that feature a photo of former Ambassador John Bolton, and the Gatestone website is no exception. However, Ron Meisels has forwarded a link to Austria Passes Reforms to 1912 Islam Law which we pass along for consideration and debate. As we read it, we don’t think it would pass the ‘smell test’ in this country, despite some provisions made at the request of the Muslim community.
This past week, we have seen news of 6 young people from Montreal who have left to join ISIS. Of course, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the news of young Canadians leaving to join ISIS emphasizes how Bill C-51 could help police stamp out radicalization before it occurs, and provide more tools to deal with high-risk travellers. We think that argument is pretty tenuous – not to mention self-serving. But that leaves the question, What could and should be done? And do we really want to keep radicalized people within our communities? Playing devil’s advocate, we might also ask whether the authorities should stop individuals eager to join the Lions of Rojava, linked to the Kurdish resistance, especially since they might not even be very welcome. Is there a parallel with the foreigners who fought in the Spanish Civil War?
Bill C-51 continues to provoke concern. Although some staunch Conservative friends maintain that this is legislation ‘the country’ wants, we would argue that if true, ‘the country’ is deliberately avoiding any of the informed analysis offered by prime ministers, Supreme Court justices and other competent authorities. There has to be something wrong when Conrad Black sides with three former Liberal prime ministers and praises the NDP for “tackling this sloppily worded measure head on”. We cannot resist quoting the fulminating Mr. (Lord? we are never sure what is politically correct) Black. As presented, Bill C-51 makes a Swiss cheese out of due process, and the three national political parties have approached the problem from distinctly different angles. The government have swaddled themselves in Stephen Harper’s default-toga of protecting the public, aspersing civil liberties concerns, and uttering tired pieties that “the law enforcement agencies are on our side,” presumably referring to their objectives rather than their political preferences. It is easy to be cynical about this and resignedly conclude that Vic Toews and Julian Fantino ride again (itself a terrorizing thought, and thought-terror is assumedly covered in the vast sweep of this bill). The government is responsible for preventing terrorist outrages from happening and it has to be given some licence to protect the country and everyone in it. But it is hard to be overly sanguine about the medieval antics of the government that took the giant leap backwards that was the omnibus crime bill. Nor is it reassuring that Mr. Harper, as is his frequent custom, is imposing a shortened debate on Parliament.
We cannot help but wonder how the builders of the [in]famous Toronto tunnel might have fared under C-51. We doubt that the case would have been as easily dismissed as it has been by Det. Scott Whittemore: “The only charge that could possibly apply is mischief, and since there was no danger to the public, there’s no sense wasting the court’s time“.
Two Wednesday Night Davids continue their sparring on Yahoo! This time on the need (or not) for electoral reform:
David (Jones) Election reform: Complaints about money and electoral districts are for ‘losers’
Vs.
David (Kilgour) Election reform: Canada in desperate need of proportional representation
March 8 is the first anniversary of the disappearance of MH-370. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, the conspiracy theorists continue to have a field day with our favorite being ‘Putin ordered plane to be flown to Kazakhstan space port,’. We quite like the argument wryly presented by its proponent, Jeff Wise. There is, however, one positive outcome of the tragedy, Reuters reports that Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are launching a trial to allow air traffic controllers to more closely track aircraft traversing remote oceans.
Media notes
The Gazette continues to bleed fine journalists. In the past two weeks, we have seen news of the departure of Peggy Curran, Pat Donnelly and Sue Montgomery, leaving us to wonder why we bother to subscribe. Increasingly, there’s no ‘there’ there.
As you may know, The Suburban website was hacked last week. Beryl Wajsman has published a finely crafted defiant response that should be read.
Something to ponder: No one could see the color blue until modern times
(Business Insider) …
until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a color, we may not even notice that it’s there.
Until relatively recently in human history, “blue” didn’t exist, not in the way we think of it.
As the delightful Radiolab episode “Colors” describes, ancient languages didn’t have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there is evidence that they may not have seen it at all. The article continues with fascinating references to research conducted by William Gladstone, better known to most of us a British Prime Minister.

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