Wednesday Night #1775

Written by  //  March 9, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Yesterday was International Women’s Day with the theme of pledge for parity and we hope that you will allow a sacrilegious thought. As we viewed innumerable and often saccharine messages from assorted heads of state (though not Saudi Arabia), organizations and just about anyone else, we were struck by the Hallmark-Greeting-Card nature of many. Yes, parity (economic, legal and social) for women is of highest importance, but this is not a one-day issue. Does the fact of designating one day in the year diminish the importance of the remaining 364 (or in the case of 2016, 365) days? And what about the plethora of designated “international days of …”. Does that not also relegate many important issues to diary entries of “remember to send a message to”? If the message were “This is what I/my organization/my government has accomplished over the past year”, we would be a lot more sanguine.
A final thought about IWD – last night, when the news of Bernie Sanders’ win in Michigan came up on Facebook, we were appalled to read a comment that this was due to misogyny. Can voters – or anyone else, for that matter – not be allowed to prefer a male candidate to a female candidate for numerous well-founded reasons having nothing to do with their gender? Isn’t that parity? Back to the arrogance and stupidity of the declarations by Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem on behalf of Hillary Clinton!
All of which is not to deny that there are outrageous prejudices rampant in our society, as illustrated by this item cited by Quartz. Anne Quito on why female architects are being closed out of their own profession. “New York City architect Yen Ha says that discrimination comes from all sides—clients, brokers, engineers and most consistently from contractors. At one project kick-off meeting, she recalls a real estate agent telling a contractor, ‘I’ll have the real architect send the plans to you’.” Read more here

That is enough rant for today and will, we are sure, elicit some outcry.

Speaking of voter preference, Michael Bloomberg’s announcement of his decision not to run as an independent The Risk I Will Not Take should be read by all. However, we suspect that most Trump supporters don’t read Bloomberg.

We are trying to avoid publicizing anything about The Donald, however, two analyses are pertinent to not only his delivery, but as useful lessons for politicians and interviewees in a bind:
Donald Trump’s Debates: 5 Mental Tricks You Didn’t Notice (video) and How Donald Trump Answers A Question

It’s not Mr. Smith, but Justin Trudeau who goes to Washington today. As Paul Wells points out: “Justin Trudeau gets his turn to recast the Canada-U.S. relationship. He has advantages: an ideologically compatible president, the first time a Liberal has met with a Democrat since Chrétien and Bill Clinton were leading their governments; the pomp of a full-blown state dinner, only the ninth of the Obama presidency and the first any president has thrown for a Canadian in 19 years. But the timing is not ideal: Obama is nearing the end of his presidency, and the bizarre presidential primary season has thrown doubt on the future, not only of Canada-U.S. relations but of all U.S. politics, after Obama leaves office.“
Five takeaways from Justin Trudeau’s 60 Minutes segment
From a near-flunking to a quote from ‘Rocky,’ Trudeau’s slim 60 Minutes segment offered only a few moments of note
If this was to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most significant introduction to American audiences, it was to be far slimmer than the show’s name would suggest. A 13-minute 60 Minutes segment about Trudeau—the first Canadian politician featured on the show in 13 years, timed for just before his state dinner at the White House on Thursday

Further afield:
For Russia and Scandinavia watchers, Foreign Policy has How Finland Became Europe’s Bear WhispererHelsinki has figured out how to stand up to Russia without provoking Putin’s wrath. Its neighbors call that appeasement. Worth keeping in mind.

Turkey remains a problem area on many fronts. First there is the EU-Turkey plan to ease the migrant crisis which has raised concerns at the UN. The recent closure of Zaman, yet another move to suppress independent media voices, has prompted the New York Times editors to fret about Democracy’s Disintegration in Turkey. It would seem to be time to revisit and ponder Turkey Is in Serious Trouble.

As Syria’s fragile truce appears to be holding, and all sides prepare for the resumption of peace talks, Foreign Policy publishes an excerpt from Malcolm Nance’s, Defeating ISIS,  which is being published this week. We applaud the author’s commonsensical approach that “every Syrian worldwide, both refugee and in country, should be asked to place their futures on a new national unity government using the Syrian Interim Government as a basis for deeply detailed political and humanitarian planning for the future stability, security, and return of refugees to the region”. However. The likelihood of its implementation remains highly doubtful. We would love to be convinced otherwise.

And on the global economic front, gloom & doom from the IMF’s David Lipton who warns that “the world faces a growing ‘risk of economic derailment’ and needs immediate action to boost demand IMF issues warning on global growth as China exports plunge. The OECD added its voice, however seems there is not a consensus (and when is there ever a consensus among economists?) as Olivier Blanchard and Adam Posen released a paper Tuesday that called for a “reality check” and said that irrational pessimism about the direction of it could lead to a “needless, preventable recession.”

Indonesia’s annual forest fires are again in the news. Reuters reports that “President Joko Widodo has urged authorities to contain so-called hotspots, where fires start and spread to their surroundings. This year, Widodo set up an agency to restore around 2 million hectares (5 million acres) of carbon-rich peatlands which typically produce more smog than forest fires. But past efforts by Indonesia and neighbouring countries to prevent the fires, or put them out once started, have shown little success. Last year’s fires ended only when the rainy season arrived to douse them.”

Education is always a favorite topic and there seem to be an increasing number of anti-homework-for-younger-children voices, as in this from Salon Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let’s ban elementary homework“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.” At the other end of the academic spectrum is The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report which reminds us that “By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” So what do we teach those kids?

In case you missed it: a great tribute to Professor Stephen Clarkson, who died on February 28th.
Stephen Clarkson: Author, teacher was a giant of Canadian political science
By Gloria Galloway
Prof. Clarkson was many things: An extraordinary political researcher, a prolific and multiple-award-winning author of books about trade and politics, a young radical, a fervent nationalist, a former Toronto mayoral candidate, a devoted father, and, over the course of his lifetime, the husband of three intensely bright and accomplished women.
But he was, above all, a magnificent teacher who fostered a passion for learning, the ability to think critically, and the desire to know more about the world at large in the minds of the young people who populated his lectures.

Finally, on a lighter note – and not wishing to demean either the Syrian refugee crisis or the angst of reasonable American voters – we could not resist this item from The New Yorker:
Canada Fears Photo of Prime Minister with Pandas Could Worsen American Refugee Crisis
—Canada, already bracing for the possible inflow of millions of American refugees in November, might have made matters worse by releasing an unacceptably adorable photo of its Prime Minister hugging two baby pandas, Canadians fear.
The photo, taken at the Toronto Zoo and showing Justin Trudeau cuddling with two panda cubs, was “the last thing this country needed,” Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of Canadians for Responsible Immigration, a prominent anti-immigration organization based in Ottawa, said.
“Canada is already staring down the potential crisis of millions of Americans pouring over its border later this year,” Dorrinson said. “Did we really have to announce that we have pandas, too?”

And this:
Obama Pays Tribute to Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the ‘Peanuts’ Gang

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