Wednesday Night #1736

Written by  //  June 9, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Turkey’s elections are front and centre following the surprising/welcome news that  the Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its hold on parliament. As an article in Foreign Policy Erdogan’s Kurdish Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost explained ahead of election day, “The president’s peace process with his country’s Kurds could be the very thing that prevents him from coming out on top in the coming elections … His political opponents, fearful of losing yet another election to him, have united around the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) . And ironically, it is precisely Erdogan’s peace process with the Kurds that has made this coalition against him possible. … If the HDP manages to pass the 10 percent threshold for representation in parliament, it will be almost impossible for the AKP to win enough seats to call for a referendum to amend the constitution.” So, now that has happened, as Sophia Jones asks, Now What? Coalition? Minority government? Or Back to the polls?.
In the category of really stupid pronouncements by politicians, we would award several stars to Erdogan Cites Cockroaches For Move To Lavish Palace – presumably Turkey has no exterminators?

Greece
Joseph Stiglitz is adamant that the Greek crisis must be resolved. Europe’s Last Act?
“It is not in the interest of Europe – or the world – to have a country on Europe’s periphery alienated from its neighbors, especially now, when geopolitical instability is already so evident. The neighboring Middle East is in turmoil; the West is attempting to contain a newly aggressive Russia; and China, already the world’s largest source of savings, the largest trading country, and the largest overall economy (in terms of purchasing power parity), is confronting the West with new economic and strategic realities. This is no time for European disunion.
Europe’s leaders viewed themselves as visionaries when they created the euro. They thought they were looking beyond the short-term demands that usually preoccupy political leaders.
Unfortunately, their understanding of economics fell short of their ambition; and the politics of the moment did not permit the creation of the institutional framework that might have enabled the euro to work as intended.”
A bit of light? Greece, Creditors Discuss Extending Bailout in Bid to Break Deadlock The WSJ reports on Tuesday that Greece and its creditors are discussing an extension of the country’s bailout program through March 2016, people familiar with the talks said, an offer aimed at breaking a protracted standoff over the terms for fresh aid and averting a Greek default. The proposal, first presented last week, is part of European officials’ efforts to prod the government in Athens to agree to painful concessions in exchange for rescue funds. But continued disagreements over the economic overhauls and austerity measures demanded by Greece’s lenders risk undermining the plan, people familiar with the plans say.

The G-7 Summit
Ahead of the summit in Bavaria, it was agreed that Greek bailout, Ukraine and climate would top the agenda, and David Cameron put corruption on the agenda as the FIFA scandal continued to feed not only sports but geopolitical headlines (would they really take the World Cup away from Qatar and Russia?). Deutsche Welle reports that “This year, leaders discussed a broad agenda ranging from climate change, international terrorism and trade to poverty reduction. But discussions also focused on Ukraine and Russia. The leaders of the Group of Seven nations “all agree,” Merkel told journalists after the meeting on Monday afternoon that sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine had to remain in place until a ceasefire in the east of the country was fully implemented. In the joint communiqué, which covered a range of topics but made few concrete commitments – as is often the case at such summits – leaders did commit to keeping global warming at two degrees in an attempt to tackle climate change and to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century.” (Reuters headline: G7 leaders bid ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to carbon fuels) We have searched the G7 Communiqué, a document that is filled with des vœux pieux, and have found no mention of ‘corruption’, so can only assume that it was too late to add FIFA to the agenda. Nor was there any direct allusion to Greece.
In case you are worried that world affairs were not settled in the public glare of the G7, take heart. The Guardian reminds us in a cheeky article that Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort. The The participant list for the conference has just been released and some big names leap off the page. At first glance, not many Canadians, but Andrew Coyne and Heather Munroe-Blum made the cut. Nobody from FIFA as far as we could tell.
The Guardian story concludes: “With participants this powerful, and an agenda containing this many hot topics, the Telfs policy conference is sure to be covered in depth by the world’s press. And by “sure to be”, I mean probably won’t be. For reasons that, as ever, escape me.”

Russia
As the G-7 continued the banishment of Mr. Putin to Steven Harper’s delight (Stephen Harper says Russia can’t rejoin G-7 with Putin in power — ‘Canada would very, very strongly oppose Putin ever sitting around that table again,’), the US and German leaders were firm that sanctions on Russia must stay until it implements a deal to end fighting in Ukraine.  In Standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine Gwynne Dyer takes a different view becoming almost an apologist for Putin and concluding that while “[Putin] was wrong … taking back the province of Crimea …  [and] He was very wrong to back the rebellion in the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. If he actually encouraged them to rebel (which is not clear) he is even more in the wrong. … he is not setting out down the path of world conquest. He is not even planning to take over Ukraine.” Some of our Russia observers take issue with Mr. Dyer’s argument reminding us that “Putin is not aiming to conquer the world, but is aiming to restore the Old Russian Empire, which is enough to worry Russia’s neighbours”.

ISIS
Finally a positive development in the fight against ISIS in Syria? A Raid on ISIS Yields a Trove of Intelligence
American intelligence agencies have extracted valuable information about the Islamic State’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures by analyzing materials seized during a Delta Force commando raid last month that killed a leader of the terrorist group in eastern Syria, according to United States officials. … However, “American counter-terrorism officials acknowledge that questions remained about how effectively even this trove of materials can be exploited, given the nature of the Islamic State’s secrecy and ability to adapt.”
Not so fast. As this Al Jazeera report demonstrates, there is a very long way to go before and after ISIL/S is defeated A year of ISIL: ‘There is no future for Iraq’Displaced Sunnis say they are ready to fight to win their land back, but the central government is not helping them– and the Kurds aren’t happy either. President Obama is being berated by the usual suspects for having said ‘We Don’t Yet Have a Complete Strategy‘ for defeating ISIS. But isn’t that wise – first of all, you don’t want to mislead the public (remember GWB and ‘mission accomplished’?) and second, even if you have the strategy nailed down, you certainly don’t want to alert the enemy.

Aid & development
There appear to be an increasing number of articles and posts that are saying publicly what a number of people have expressed privately for years. Too many aid, development and human rights organizations espousing worthy causes gather (or are perceived to be meeting) in multi-star luxury hotels to discuss their issues. The most recent criticism is from Tunisian activist Amira Yahyaoui A Wake-Up Call for NGOs — On the margins of the Oslo Freedom Forum — a sharp critique of the professional human rights community. However, she has positive views on the evolution of Tunisia since that country set off the Arab Spring and how the urban-based NGOs can work with the smaller communities.
On another development-related topic: Meredith Kruger, an agriculture development professional currently working in Malawi, asks Is there life after development? and answers her question. “Of course, but not in the way we’re currently talking about it. It’s time we stop discussing development careers in terms of moving “into” and “out of” them. After all, we can all make the world a better place, even without the job title. Try consuming less, donating more, volunteering for causes you believe in, agitating for change, being a good friend or parent–none of which are tied to a certain career. Only then do we have a chance at achieving lasting, sustainable, global development.”

Canada
Jacques Parizeau
is gone, but certainly will not be forgotten. Many flattering articles and tributes from former colleagues and opponents, while others seem to have taken to heart the admonishment to not speak ill of the dead. Whatever one’s feelings, do read The glorious failure of Jacques Parizeau , Anne Lagacé Dowson’s  excellent piece on iPolitics. A few hours before ‘”Monsieur’s” funeral, Radio Canada broke the story that Gilles Duceppe is preparing to come back as the Bloc’s leader and the Internet lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree with rumors, conjecture and some pretty astute instant analysis, e.g. PKP may have had a hand in this. If a resurgent Bloc can take seats away from the NDP, chances of Harper remaining prime minister are increased — which the sovereignists want. Any unofficial NDP-Liberal alliance after the election, or an NDP minority government, would obviously include lots of cabinet ministers from Quebec. Better for sovereignists if the federal government includes very little Quebec representation. Makes sense.
How are we to make sense of any of this without Bernard St-Laurent? We are so sad that he is leaving CBC at the end of the month – cannot imagine any Quebec political development without his commentary. Bernard St-Laurent on Gilles Duceppe’s return to the Bloc
And in late-breaking news now this CBC fires Evan Solomon for allegedly brokering lucrative art deals The Toronto Star that broke the story says “Solomon, 47, is the Ottawa-based host of Power and Politics on television and The House on CBC radio, and had been one of the people touted to replace Peter Mansbridge on The National when the veteran newsman retires.”- bad timing with elections coming up.
In Ottawa, the Auditor General has released his Report on Senators’ expenses . It makes for interesting reading, as it is couched in very simple, intelligible terms. Appendix A includes nine cases recommended for immediate referral to other authorities, such as the RCMP. Appendix B and its links provide a list of the 21 senators whose cases are recommended for further review by the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin & Patrick Brazeau are in a category of their own and not mentioned. Everyone is weighing in from the rather sanctimonious view from Brian Mulroney: Dysfunctional Senate ‘Badly In Need Of Reform to Andrew Coyne: Let’s focus on the positive — easily more than half of Canada’s Senate isn’t under investigation .

Feel-good stories
PK Subban surprises street hockey game in Westmount
Montreal Canadiens star was driving by after having dinner in the area What a delight for the whole neighborhood and especially the kids.

Mama mallard duck Lucy is a P.E.I. garden centre celebrity
Mama duck awaits arrival of nine ducklings among the perennials at a Charlottetown garden store.

Not quite the same as the originals, but at least
There Are Now Laser Buddhas In Afghanistan
Towering statues of Buddha were destroyed at the site by the Taliban in 2001 and have now been rebuilt using light projections.

Not really feel-good, but this certainly sparked a lot of amusement – and terrible puns:
Newspaper celebrates MLB’s first amphibious pitcher

For your Calendar
Friday, June 12, 2015
U.S. Arctic Policy
Keynote with Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. USCG (Ret.)
U.S. State Department Special Representative for the Arctic
5:30 – 6:30pm
Cocktail to follow
École nationale d’administration publique
4750, Henri-Julien Ave.

and on
Saturday, June 13
Dating and Taxes, by Laura Simons
Starring the ONE AND ONLY Dr. Irene Simons
Black Theatre Workshop Studio, 3680 Rue Jeanne Mance
Sat June 13 @ 19:45
Sun June 14 @ 15:30
Mon June 15 @ 21:00
Tues June 16 @ 18:00
Fri June 19 @ 19:45
Sat June 20 @ 13:30
Sun June 21 @ 18:15

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