Wednesday Night #1746

Written by  //  August 18, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1746

The current heat wave does not contribute to creative thinking and that appears to include most of the media sources on whom/which we rely. Thus, we seem to be facing a somewhat updated re-run of last week’s topics with, of course, a number of embellishments regarding the Mike Duffy trial and Nigel Wright’s testimony. Although it is apparent that the great majority of the population is not paying much attention to any news other than perhaps the dreadful toll that forest fires are taking in British Columbia, and, of course, the Toronto Blue Jays, there are still the diehards who parse every phrase (or in Mr. Harper’s case, lack thereof) surrounding the court case. Nigel Wright’s emails are generating more excitement than Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Bayne is quickly becoming this summer’s folk hero. Sadly, this also means that not even the National Post is continuing to wholeheartedly defend the hitherto  much-admired Nigel Wright: “Nigel Wright’s seeming forthrightness in his testimony at the Mike Duffy trial may be interpreted as evidence of his fundamental quality of character; however misguided his actions may have been in the senate expenses scandal, many may still feel he’s an honest man at heart. But if so, it makes the whole story a tragic one about the corrupting nature of power.”  Meanwhile, Mr. Harper appears to have abandoned any thought of “the buck stops here” along with any responsibility for the actions of the staff in the PMO.
The question is, will any of this affect the election outcome?
And what does everyone make of the latest from Eric Grenier: Quebec currently Conservatives’ only hope for seat gainsLa belle province is leaning heavily towards the NDP, but Conservative prospects are up.

While the Chinese market continues to be turbulent in the wake of last week’s devaluation, there are likely to be considerable repercussions from the explosion in the port of Tianjin. Currently, it is reported that Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, is “undergoing investigation”, however, it is unlikely to stop there.

We continue to benefit from the excellent analyses of Indian affairs by our friend C Uday Bhaskar. Most recently, writing on India’s relationship with the UAE, he raises a point of which we were not fully aware – or certainly had not considered: of the world’s 10 largest ports, seven are in China-Hong Kong, one each in South Korea and Singapore respectively and the one port that is outside East Asia is in Dubai. So much for European and North American dominance of the shipping lanes. At the same time, Cleo Paskal (back in Manipal) is critical of India’s less-than-focused engagement with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), noting that “While India is playing catch-up in the South China Sea, China is locking up influence in the vast area between Asia and South America.”
From Pakistan comes the important news that the former head of Pakistan’s ISI, known as the “godfather of the Taliban: Hamid Gul” has died, leaving what all reports refer to as an important and dangerous legacy. He was an influential voice, who frequently went on television to defend the Taliban and Kashmiri militants and blame a Jewish conspiracy for the September 11 attacks on the United States. He will not be mourned in India or Afghanistan.
Just when we thought ISIS could do nothing to increase our revulsion at its atrocities, there is the new Frontline documentary “Escaping ISIS,” about the thousands of Yazidi women and children who were abducted by the extremists and forced into sexual slavery. What is particularly terrifying is the methodical way in which the process is conducted and the theological justifications quoted by the militants. Although it cannot be compared, we found this news item to be incredibly poignant. Militants have beheaded Khaled Asaad an antiquities scholar in Palmyra and hung his body on a column in a main square. The 82-year-old scholar who worked for over 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra was killed on Tuesday after being detained and interrogated for over a month by the ultra-radical Sunni Muslim militants.

Turkey, an important ally on many fronts is again in difficulty. The Prime Minister has formally ended attempts to form a coalition government, so it looks as though there will be a new election.

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