Wednesday Night #1753

Written by  //  October 7, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Starting with the good news: Congratulations to Canada’s Arthur B. McDonald and Japan’s Takaaki Kajita on winning the 2015 Nobel prize in physics. The irrelevant commentary on the social media relating the news to Harper’s ‘anti-science’ policies should be ignored, especially as the Prize was awarded for work done when Jean Chrétien was PM.

Thanksgiving Dinner vote out Conservatives Less than two weeks until the federal election. Based on this video, we suggest that all parties cease and desist the frantic rush to get out the vote. Obviously, we need to administer a political literacy test BEFORE any of these people are allowed to vote. On the other hand, it’s hard to believe they would know how (let alone where) to mark their ballots. Shouldn’t [‘old stock’] Canadians have to pass a citizenship test? Or maybe, they were all tourists?

The niqab contraversy continues, heightened by the reminder that Canada now has the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (actually, as Neil Macdonald reminds us, just a few amendments to the Immigration Act and Criminal code that outlaw a few things that are mostly already against the law in Canada — polygamy, forcing children into arranged marriages, and so-called honour killings, otherwise known as murder) and the introduction of the “barbaric cultural practices’ hotline proposal. The latter has provided much entertainment for social media posters who offer suggestions of other ‘barbaric cultural practices’ worthy of reporting, e.g. socks with sandals. Levity aside, we recommend Neil Macdonald’s opinion piece The barbaric cultural practice of election pronouncements. We are dismayed that the election campaign is currently dominated by this issue with its dark undertones of anti-immigrant – if not islamophobic – messaging, and can only believe that it represents the handiwork of the seriously unlovable Lynton Crosby. We can only hope that the majority of Canadians listen to saner voices including that of Mayor Naheed Nenshi although StatsCan reports that the Charter of Rights and the niqab collide in views on ‘Canadian values’ — It seems Canadians love the charter and dislike the niqab — which makes acting on those feelings problematic.

Then there is the TPP. While, as Doug Saunders points out Long gone are the days when trade topped Canada’s election issues , for most public policy aficionados, the agreement is a big deal. Much has already been written and more will surely follow. In Why the TPP is such a big—and good—deal for Canada, Maclean’s offers a reassuring review of what TTP will NOT do, including a discussion of its effect on drug costs. However, there are a number of critics of the agreement including Joseph Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh writing on Project Syndicate – The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade Tom Mulcair has said that an NDP government would not honour the deal; we feel this is the wrong message to send to the international community. Furthermore, As Anne Jarvis asks in the Windsor Star: how realistic is it to reopen negotiations with 11 other countries on a deal that has been years in the making? And if he can’t, does he walk away from a deal with our largest trading partner, the U.S., and 10 other countries that comprise 40 per cent of the world’s economy, including some of its fastest-growing economies?

There are indeed other issues in the world.
Yet another tragic shooting in a school. This time in Oregon. We simply cannot understand the American supporters of the NRA in the face of the awful statistics; and even more incomprehensible is the venality that pervades the congressional and state lawmakers who continue to oppose any form of gun control. Please see the first item on our Firearms, gun control and politics page

The shocking attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz is simply inexcusable and we can only hope that the U.S. military will be able and willing to answer the Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz posed by Amy Davidson of The New Yorker and bring those responsible to justice. The fifth question is the most telling: Do we understand our own motives and priorities in Afghanistan? — If not, fourteen years after invading, when will we?

Turmoil – as usual – in the Middle East
Russia’s military ‘intervention’ in Syria has been swift and, as predicted, is concentrated on shoring up the Assad regime rather than going after ISIS. Some may have missed the intriguing analysis in Haaretz last week Syria and Iran Taken Hostage by Putin’s Geopolitical Goals . But some of the statements run counter to the Reuters report How Iranian general plotted out Syrian assault in Moscow
Dozens of Islamist Saudi Arabian clerics have called on Arab and Muslim countries to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to what they term a jihad, or holy war, against Syria’s government and its Iranian and Russian backers.
Turkey and NATO are unhappy about Russian incursions into Turkish airspace
Meanwhile ISIS continues its destruction of antiquities. This week it was the Arch of Triumph of Palmyra. To those who wonder why the fixation on destroying these cultural treasures, Sturt W. Manning, chair of the Department of Classics at Cornell University offered an explanation that many may have missed. In his opinion piece Why ISIS wants to erase Palmyra’s history, he wrote: “The austerely beautiful ruins of the Temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra in central Syria are among the latest victims of staged cultural desecration, and bodies like UNESCO have reacted as ISIS hoped, by denouncing this as a war crime. ISIS gets publicity, attention, vilification. The world’s media react and we supply ISIS their recruiting fuel and offer free advertising of more illicit antiquities soon to be on sale on the black market.”

The arrest of John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was general assembly president from 2013 to 2014, along with a billionaire Macau real estate developer and four others on Tuesday for engaging in a wide-ranging corruption scheme has provoked the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, to wonder whether “corruption is business as usual at the United Nations.” We suppose the good news is that they have been arrested.

As unabashed admirers of Pope Francis, we were dismayed and also puzzled by the news that he had met with the dreadful Kim Davis during his stay in Washington. After the furore of the first day of the news cycle, the plot became a far superior version of anything Dan Brown might have dreamt up and more appropriate to John le Carré. Our many non-Catholic and anticlerical friends seemed ready to believe the worst of the Pope, but oddly many were not prepared to give credence to the continuation of the time-honoured tradition of Vatican plotting and treachery. (We would remind them of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and the saga of Roberto Calvi.) Charles Pierce of Esquire first asked the question Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis? Subsequent reports confirmed that the encounter was not organized by staff at the Vatican, and likely was at the initiative of the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Viganò – who is a rather nasty piece of work.

We would like to pay special tribute to Sophie Tarnowska for her initiative, WEDOSOMETHING, a project she has created to raise money for refugees “Because I’m tired of being heartbroken by the refugee crisis, and of grieving my helplessness. Wedosomething gives Montrealers a way to donate to causes they care about while spending money on things they already enjoy doing, like going out for dinner. We’ll offer a new location every month, and gather generous partners to ensure that we pay as little as possible to give you as good an evening as possible, so that your ticket price is donated to those who need it most.” The launch dinner is Thursday, Oct.8th at an amazing private home in old Montreal, Sophie is cooking with friends and funds will go to Médecins sans Frontières Canada. Kudos to Adonis supermarkets for donating all the raw ingredients for the inaugural event, which is sold out, but there will be more.

Kudos to the beleaguered CBC for Keeping Canada Alive (Sunday, CBC 9 p.m.) the new six-part factual series that is, according to the Globe & Mail’s John Doyle “breathtaking in its scope – 60 camera crews shooting in 24 cities across 10 provinces and one territory in a single 24-hour period last May to capture how our hospitals and other medical facilities work. One day only, but the show points out that on an average day in Canada, 700 people die and another 1,000 are born. … The number of compelling storylines is staggering.” We would also call your attention to CBC’s coverage of the modest HouseCalls program that helps seniors live independently at home; it’s an initiative that deserves serious attention and funding. Not only does it help the seniors and their families, but it saves millions in hospital costs.
Bringing us back full circle to the election campaign is this helpful guide HEALTH CARE: FOUR THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VOTE

The Guardian informs us that Chris McCann, the leader of the eBible Fellowship (what? You have never heard of them?),  predicts the world will be ‘annihilated’ on Wednesday
Should that prove not to be the case -and we did after all survive the ‘blood moon’ scare- we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

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