Wednesday Night #1799 with Peter Berezin

Written by  //  August 24, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Peter is back on the job at BCA  and most recently has issued a report on the Upside of populism in which he points out that while traditionally populist movements have been associated with a ‘let’s soak the rich’ mentality, today’s seems more imbued with a longing to return to ‘the good old days’ . He acknowledges that concerns about lax financial regulation, rising inequality, unfettered globalization and fiscal austerity are understandable, the populist backlash, if left unchecked, could spiral out of control, leading to severe losses for investors. We would add the societal dimension is of far greater importance, as we witness the rise of hateful,  and hate-filled, rallying cries at public events,  rants on social media  and incendiary speeches and interviews in traditional media – and not only in the U.S.
We also look forward eagerly to Peter’s observations on Russia and Vladimir Putin in light of recent developments including the New York Times piece  More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead and this from Reuters Putin’s ever-shrinking circle shows a return to Soviet politicsOn a lighter note, we must ask whether he downloaded the Russian app (Pokemon-mad Russians hunt Ivan the Terrible with new app)- which is not, of course, a Nintendo rip-off.

Given these two topics and frequent allusions to the Putin-Trump mutual admiration society, a segue to the U.S.  campaign is only natural. While we could detail the developments of the last week, we find the recent theories about the rationale for the Trump campaign more intriguing. They have arisen since the shake-up in the campaign organization that saw Steve Bannon of Breitbart named CEO. First New York Magazine: Donald Trump’s New Strategy Makes Perfect Sense — If He Wants to Launch a Cable-News Network Next Year, then the New Yorker  What Are Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and Steve Bannon Really Up To? And finally, The Atlantic Introducing the Trump News Channel—Coming in 2017?

John Oliver Has A Foolproof Plan To Turn Donald Trump Into A Legend
According to John Oliver, all the Republican presidential candidate has to do is quit the race and claim the entire campaign was a ruse to expose the flaws in our system.

It was suggested by one of our friends that we have emphasized Donald Trump’s flawed campaign and not given equal time to Hillary Clinton. We are not great fans of Hillary, we merely see her as the preferable of two unattractive choices. With disclosure on Monday that the F.B.I. collected nearly 15,000 new emails in its investigation of her and a federal judge’s order that the State Department accelerate the documents’ release, it looks now as though the e-mail story will dog her for the rest of the campaign. However, we are far more troubled by the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary’s tenure.  Today, we offer you From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer whose sub-head reminds us that
More than half of the people outside the government with whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met were also donors to the Clinton Foundation.

We only wish that Hillary would look us in the eye, ‘fess up and tell the truth.
And are we worried about Bill roaming around the White House as First Gentleman – YES!

The 2016 Summer Olympics are over and the closing ceremony was spectacular, emotional and also fun.
We loved it when a video showed Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who announces he won’t make it to Rio in time. So Abe turned into the Japanese video game plumber Mario and then popped up in the flesh out of a huge green pipe in the stadium that he allegedly used as a shortcut to get from Tokyo to Rio. (Rio Games close with samba-fueled Carnival party) And, as always seems to be the case, there’s a  poignant story of an athlete who cannot or will not go home; this time it is Ethiopian marathoner, Feyisa Lilesa whose defiant gesture toward his oppressive government at the closing ceremony pretty much guarantees that his life would be difficult if not endangered. Let us hope this brave man finds a safe haven.
Now that the glitz of the Games is packed away, attention is turning to the plight of the Paralympics facing budget cuts and low ticket sales. These athletes deserve the world’s support; they give so much encouragement to so many throughout the world. Please view  We’re The Superhumans | Rio Paralympics 2016 Trailer

There is so much news beyond the U.S. campaign and the Olympics.  But we will limit ourselves to these.
The situation in Turkey remains volatile partly as a result of the aftermath of the coup and partly because of the increase in  terrorist attacks including the dreadful one in Gaziantep, carried out by a child bomber. See Al Jazeera:  From sporadic to systematic ISIL attacks in Turkey
Oh dear, another story leads back to the Clinton Foundation Turkey hunts alleged coup plotter who was Clinton donor

The situation in Syria is of course closely related as the never=ending conflict between Turkey and the Kurds continues [Syria Kurds win battle with government, Turkey mobilizes against them ] Do read Céline Cooper’s column Amid the Syrian destruction, a quiet little boy, and a realization
The images of Aleppo are beyond heartbreaking and still the world powers ponder their moves on the geopolitical chessboard, seemingly indifferent to the fate of the people. Meanwhile, some 3,000 ordinary Syrians are now the unwitting heroes of the Syrian war. Nicknamed “the White Helmets,” members of the Syrian Civil Defense work under the harshest conditions to claw through the remains of buildings flattened by barrel bombs, the Syrian regime’s weapon of choice. And they have just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bits and pieces
A long, fascinating piece from The New Yorker The Detectives Who Never Forget a Face  – London’s new squad of “super-recognizers” could inspire a revolution in policing. You may be familiar  with the term prosopagnosia, or “face blindness,” a condition in which people are unable to recognize human faces, but it appears that there are people at the opposite end of the scale and they are really good at catching criminals.

It used to be that only nerds and quasi-nerds delved into authoritative tomes on science and technology, but for some time, popular science is a reality and we never cease to be amazed by the ideas and products ranging from really, really farfetched to eminently useful. Our latest candidate in the latter category is the solar-powered “smart umbrella”, though we don’t see why it should be limited to Hajj pilgrims. Incidentally, according to the ethnicity of the media reporting on the development of the umbrella, its invention is attributed to a woman, Manal Dandis, or to her (male) business partner, Kamel Badawi. We think Ms Dandis is more likely.

Our favorite Canadian story: Canada (Politely but Firmly) Escorts 1,500 Illegal Rafters Back to U.S.
Americans flocked to Canada over the weekend, and it had nothing to do with Democrats fleeing a possible Donald Trump presidency. Canada sent them back, anyway.
If this is the precursor of a Trump refugee wave, be assured, they are good guys.
Still, they will all have to be interned until their papers (e.g. verifiable subscriptions to the New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, etc.) are checked. Just to make sure that there are no agents provocateurs among them

We have always loved advice columns – the nuttier the better –  if there was something that would excuse our flaws,  but this, masquerading as a psychological study, wins hands down:
Why it pays to be grumpy and bad-tempered Being bad-tempered and pessimistic helps you to earn more, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage. It’s almost enough to put a smile on the dourest of faces.

We will not be bad-tempered at Wednesday Night – we promise!

 

 

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