Wednesday Night #1828

Written by  //  March 22, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Happy World Water Day!
In a timely move, India court gives sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers human status. The “legal status” ensures that polluting the rivers would now amount to harming a human being. Two top state officials have been appointed as the “legal guardians” of the rivers and will represent their rights.Activists say the order is likely to fast track efforts to clean the rivers

In case any of you have not yet heard this week’s exciting news, Jeanne Sauvé Fellow Maggie MacDonnell has won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017 All of us who have known Maggie since her days at Sauvé House are absolutely thrilled!

Before heading to more exotic destinations, a quick survey of the Canadian Landscape including the Conservative Party Leadership race which seems to be embroiled in a nasty fight over illegal memberships (see Allegations of fraud continue to swirl in Conservative leadership race) and the shock, but perhaps not awe surrounding Jason Kenney’s win in Alberta. If you have not read it, do check out 6 severely abnormal things new Alberta PC leader Jason Kenney says he believes
A sample:
1. Schools brainwash children with anti-conservative beliefs (Kenney, who is not a parent, has previously stated he believes other people’s children would be better off taught at home rather than going to schools run by “the state”)
2. Constitutional powers are passed down to Canadians from God
Keep reading if you can bear it!

A surprising article in Maclean’s by Andrew Potter, Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, is titled Quebecers report feeling alienated and untrusting. Why?. The author suggests that events during the recent snowstorm highlighted a deeper malaise in Quebec society. Reaction was swift and for the major part furious. A semi-retraction was posted by Maclean’s and another (even more self-serving) by the author on Facebook. A far cry from the solid, scholarly tradition established by our esteemed friend, Dr. Desmond Morton.

Canada’s Federal Budget
Given that gaffe, we don’t think we will be turning to Maclean’s one-stop budget hub on Wednesday. The Globe & Mail offers Six things to watch in the Liberals’ federal budget along with a rather (in our view) contrived photo of the Minister donning new shoes as he is observed by a perfectly designed group of brown kids at Nelson Mandela Park School. Maybe stick to KPMG? Or, more likely, our trusted Wednesday Night Economic Caucus and our dear friend Brett House at Scotia.

Budget talk inevitably leads to Trump talk.
Trump Budget
The Economist: Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts would have serious implications for travellers gives faint approval to the idea of privatizing air traffic control and points to other measures like airport security, rural flights and rail services that will face tough times.
HuffPost zeroes in on 6 Ways Seniors Lose Out Under Trump’s Budget — And that’s not counting health care or Social Security
Hidden in the doleful list  is one encouraging item “The grants that are being cut do help fund Meals on Wheels America, but aren’t its sole support.  The 5,000 organizations  that operate under the Meals on Wheels umbrella get about 35 percent of their funding from the federal government …  Early news reports that Meals on Wheels was in jeopardy led to a 500 percent surge in volunteers and 50 times more donations.”
Eugene Robinson takes a serious swipe at various elements of the budget in Trump budgets for a dumber, dirtier America, particularly cuts to the EPA:
“Trump wants to eliminate more than 3,200 EPA jobs, representing more than 20 percent of the work force. It was a Republican president, Richard Nixon, who founded the agency, and it is another Republican president who apparently wants to end the federal government’s role in protecting the environment. It is perhaps no surprise that Trump wants to end EPA programs and regulations aimed at halting global warming, since he has ventured the opinion that climate change is a Chinese hoax; NASA programs to study warming would be cut as well. But the budget also eliminates federal funding for efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Make America’s Water Dirty Again!”
Writing in The New York Times, Trump Takes a Gamble in Cutting Programs His Base Relies On, Michael D. Shear takes up a favorite refrain of ours.
Rolling Stone looks at how Cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts – a pittance alongside most budget items – could devastate smaller organizations, especially ones outside of major cities
“The NEA, created in 1965 through an act of the U.S. Congress under President Lyndon B. Johnson, receives an annual budget of $146.2 million, and is dedicated to supporting “excellence in the arts” as well as supporting arts education and efforts to bring the arts to all Americans. It has awarded more than 128,000 grants totaling more than $5 billion since its inception. The National Endowment for the Humanities, also created in 1965, is dedicated to research, education and public programs in the humanities at museums, libraries, colleges, public television, radio stations and other entities. Operating under a $167.5 million annual budget, the NEH also includes 65 humanities councils in the states and U.S. territories.”
‘Sesame Street’s Elmo Learns He May Be Out Of A Job (video)

The only faintly amusing news story in connection with this sad tale is White House mistakes satirical story about Donald Trump’s budget for real news
But, as the song says “Always look on the bright side”. Trump’s travel bans and cuts to science could create a Canadian brain gain
‘Scientists around the world are considering boycotting meetings here,’ says head of U.S. science group

The news that administration officials said airlines flying directly to the US from 10 airports in eight countries must keep passengers from bringing electronics other than cellphones and smartphones into the cabin created instant reaction which largely failed to mention that the British government was planning to introduce a similar ban, and Canada may follow suit. The Economist writes that restrictions announced on taking laptops and iPads aboard airlines originating from eight Middle Eastern countries are probably reasonable (see Gulliver). Bloomberg looks at The Laptop Ban and What It Means for Air Travel and mentions that other prohibited items include tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units bigger than smartphones and travel printers or scanners. But not smart phones.
There is a suggestion that the Trump administration may be using this as a way of giving U.S. carriers an advantage over their Middle East rivals, including Sam Stein’s favorite Turkish Airlines.

While Donald Trump’s weekends at Mar-a-Lago continue to cost taxpayers megabucks and elicit unfavorable comparisons (How Much Do Presidents Spend On Travel? Trump vs. Obama), the Trump Kids’ Spring Break is allegedly turning Aspen into a nightmare and adding another healthy sum to the security costs of the Trump family holiday budgets.
As Quartz stated: “after the [17 March] weekend, Trump will have already spent about $16.5 million on trips to Mar-a-Lago. For that amount, Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year and after school programs could feed 114,583 children for a year.”
Note that Justin Trudeau’s trip to the Aga Khan’s Bahamas island cost more than $127K.

We always enjoy thoughtful stories about the media and The Like Button Ruined the InternetHow “engagement” made the web a less engaging place fits the bill.
The author asks: “Is it any coincidence that the race to the bottom in media—toward clickbait headlines, toward the vulgar and prurient and dumb, toward provocative but often exaggerated takes—has accelerated in lock-step with the development of new technologies for measuring engagement?”

John Buchanan and Joumane are back and John will recount his adventures rebuilding a school in Nepal. There is a wonderful WN connection.

Geoff Moore is on the board of World Wide Hearing and greatly admires the powerful leadership of Audra Renyi and the work of her team in bringing new cheaper technologies for hearing aids, innovative screening techniques for children and employment opportunities related to their work in an increasing number of countries around the world, as well as to Inuit communities in Canada.
Now with a new Cloud based initiative to support, WWH has made the finals of a major Google.org competition.  And they need your support.  In fact you can vote to get extra funding to four outstanding organizations. https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/canada2017

Lighter notes
Cette jolie fille de 25 ans cherchait un mari riche. La réponse qu’elle a reçu de ce millionnaire n’a pas de prix!
By way of contrast, Stephen Colbert’s account of how he met his wife will delight you.

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