Wednesday Night #1745

Written by  //  August 12, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Gerald Ratzer and Tom Haslam-Jones remind us of the importance of 1745 to the Scots because of the Jacobite uprising’s (failed) attempt, led by Charles Edward Stuart aka “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “the Young Pretender”, to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne.
If you wish to explore the topic further, read John Home’s (1802) History of the rebellion in the year 1745 , or Wikipedia has a lengthy, more modern account.

Should we draw parallels with the election campaigns of today, aimed in the US at restoring the Republicans to the throne, while in Canada, aimed at dethroning the present ruler, who in the eyes of the opposition parties belongs in the ranks of nefarious dictators.
In both countries, the campaigns are in their early days (provided that you assume that campaigning ever stops between elections), with numerous not-so-young Pretenders, except in the case of the Liberals whose leader might be termed “Bonnie” and certainly qualifies as a ‘young’ Pretender.
Last Thursday’s debates (Republicans in the US and 4 federal party leaders in Canada) gave us a foretaste of the coming battles.
The Pretender-in-chief among Republicans is to the dismay of many,  the raucous Donald Trump whose antics may be anathema to some, but is nonetheless running ahead in polls.
The Washington Post compares his candidacy to that of Howard Stern for governor of New York;  “looking back on another New York celebrity’s brief run for public office, we would be wise to pluck a lesson from history and take Trump’s campaign very seriously — not necessarily for his ideas or ability to actually win, but for the potential to continue turning the 2016 race on its head.” Michael Gerson believes that Trump will inevitably flame out, but his tone is only cautiously optimistic, and with so many weaker candidates in the nomination race, The Donald is currently leading the pack pretty decisively (Trump’s Republican support holds strong post-debate – Reuters/Ipsos poll). Finally, perhaps the most interesting outcome of the Fox News debate is the apparent rift between the cable network and its ultra right-wing followers. In his analysis on The Atlantic, With Donald Trump’s Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows, Conor Friedersdorf points out that “Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in ‘the mainstream media’. It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.”
In the so-far much more genteel race among the Democrats, a very different super nova is streaking across the political landscape. Bernie Sanders is an original and his appeal is unexpectedly broad. Molly Ball’s sympathetic profile in The Atlantic There’s Something About Bernie sparked an uncharacteristically sharp response from the Christian Science Monitor: #feelthebern? Yes, there is ‘something about Bernie.’ He’s losing. Whichever side you are on, it’s hard not to notice that he is drawing enormous crowds—11,000 in Phoenix, 8,000 in Dallas, 2,500 in Council Bluffs, Iowa—the largest turnout of any candidate from any party in the first-to-vote primary state. He has raised $15 million in mostly small donations, to Hillary Clinton’s $45 million—and unlike her, he did it without holding a single fundraiser. Good on him!
For more on the US campaigns, do see Lead-up to U.S. 2016 elections – Republicans and Lead-up to U.S. 2016 elections – Democrats

A week into the Canadian campaign, the Leaders’ debate, attack ads and a week of campaigning have little effect on voters, Ipsos poll shows which is not too surprising. The audience for the debate was much smaller than for previous ones and also seems to have been pretty fragmented. One assumes that on a warm August evening, many Canadians had better fish to fry (perhaps literally) and even political junkies take holidays out of range of City TV. Those who did watch have been effusive in their praise for Elizabeth May, and many were pleasantly surprised that Justin Trudeau’s performance exceeded their expectations. One item that attracted some attention concerned the restrictions the Conservatives proposed for anyone attending an event with Stephen Harper, but that was quickly adjusted to remove the more laughable elements (Conservatives drop restrictions on photos, tweets at Harper rallies). You still have to have an invitation, though.
We’ll see if much -if anything- changes when Nigel Wright starts his testimony at the Mike Duffy trial on Wednesday (5 things to know before Nigel Wright testifies at Mike Duffy trial)

The global issues that rightly preoccupy the rest of the world include China’s unexpected devaluation of the yuan. “A suddenly cheaper yuan has had plenty of knock-on effects already, and poses a small but significant danger to economic stability at home and abroad. Shares in major Chinese airlines—Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern—each dropped by more than 4% in Shanghai and over 10% in Hong Kong, on concerns that the effective cost of importing fuel will rise. Shares in China’s export companies rose.
“The switch also sent other regional currencies lower too, and this could be the start of a longer-term problem with what the PBOC currently calls a “one-off” move. The Australian, New Zealand and Taiwan dollars, plus the South Korean won and the euro are all down against the US dollar, which essentially reduces the effectiveness of China’s own currency devaluation.”

Greece and its international lenders reached an 85 billion euro bailout agreement on Tuesday after nailing down the terms of new loans needed to save the country from financial ruin.
The deal, which came after 23 hours of talks that continued through the night, must still be adopted by Greece’s parliament and by euro zone countries.
The currency bloc’s finance ministers are expected to give their approval on Friday in time for Greece to make a crucial 3.2 billion euro debt repayment that falls due next week. … officials in skeptical northern European countries remained cautious, pending final approval of the deal. (Reuters)
Sticking Points
The latest round of talks with inspectors from four creditor institutions — the European Commission, European Central Bank, the European bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund — progressed smoothly in Athens, in contrast to acrimonious negotiations during most of the year.
In talks that dragged through Monday night, the sides reached agreement on the three main sticking points – dealing with non-performing loans held by banks, setting up an asset sales fund, and deregulation of the natural gas market.
Athens wanted to set up a “bad bank” to take on the problem loans, while creditors want them bundled and sold to distressed debt funds. It was not immediately clear how that was resolved.
Officials had also argued over how to set up a sovereign wealth fund in Greece designed to raise 50 billion euros from privatizations, three-quarters of which would be used to recapitalise banks and to reduce the debt. (HuffPost ‘FINALLY, WE HAVE WHITE SMOKE’) – We look forward to further reactions from Kimon and the ‘WN Greek caucus’.

Fallout from the firebombing in the Palestinian village of Duma continues amidst on-going calls for an Israeli crackdown on Jewish extremists and much soul-searching among moderate thinkers. One of the more credible voices, Uri Avnery, writes in Haaretz “We are witnessing a mutation of Judaism, a new Judaism – fanatic, violent and now murderous as well. It is liable to bury the state, just as it buried the Second Temple” ( The Hebrew State Is Disappearing, the Jewish State Is Taking Over). He continues: “History has many examples of countries in which hardy people from the periphery took over a center that had gone soft. The frontier folk are used to war, while the centrists create culture. … This danger is now hovering over Israel. The settlers are neither “wild weeds” nor youth from the margins. They constitute an extreme and immediate threat to everything that has been built in this country in recent generations. The Hebrew state is disappearing, and in its place, the Jewish state is taking over.” Former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Michael Bell, writes in Tuesday’s Globe & Mail,  “the settlement exercise and the extremism to which it gives rise threatens the long-term survival of a Jewish democratic state. The future of West Bank Palestinians and their national aspirations cannot be put off forever. If Israeli governments continue on their present course, they risk provoking a tragic day of reckoning.” (Settler extremism threatens Israel’s survival).
Factbox: Reforms Greece must make for its bailout

An illustration that violence in the name of religion is nothing new from a new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari reviewed on Delancey.com
“The religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that swept Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are particularly notorious. All those involved accepted Christ’s divinity and His gospel of compassion and love. However, they disagreed about the nature of this love. … “These theological disputes turned so violent that during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Catholics and Protestants killed each other by the hundreds of thousands. On 23 August 1572, French Catholics who stressed the importance of good deeds attacked communities of French Protestants who highlighted God’s love for humankind. In this attack, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants were slaughtered in less than twenty-four hours.”

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