Wednesday Night #1879

Written by  //  March 14, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Overshadowing any and all news:
Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76
A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations
to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

W were holding back on publishing while awaiting results of the nail-biter special election in Pennsylvania. At 10:57pm Tuesday, Democrat Connor Lamb was leading by 95 votes, however, with the announcement that Absentee ballots in Washington County will be counted on Wednesday (there are 1,195 absentee ballots), we will have to spend a restless, if not sleepless, night. UPDATE ‘It’s difficult to spin this one’: Republicans blame campaign as Democrat retains slight edge in Pennsylvania

It’s all Trump all the time these days. This week, more so than ever, given the sudden reversal of the Trump administration on talks with North Korea which many observers believe can only enhance Kim’s stature, while the U.S. ‘deal maker’ may well be outmaneuvered as have been others in previous negotiations.
Suggested reading: Trottier: Donald Trump is woefully unprepared for a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un The author, James Trottier, is a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former career Canadian diplomat who directed the political/economic (diplomatic) programs at the Canadian Embassies in South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines and also served at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN in New York. He was accredited to North Korea and led four Canadian diplomatic delegations to North Korea in 2015 and 2016 and has served as a diplomatic liaison officer to U.S./UN Forces in South Korea.

With Rex Tillerson’s firing by the Tweeter-in-chief, pundits deplore the departure of one of the grown-ups in the room (despite his dismal record leading the State department). The New Yorker piece Rex Tillerson Gets Fired the Day After He Criticized Russia highlights the current of malaise running through media comments – what does Putin have on Donald Trump?
More twists and turns in the story of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Theresa May has demanded answers from Moscow, but so far none is forthcoming. Either the Russian state poisoned Skripal, or Russia somehow lost control of its chemical weapons. Neither looks good. Not that any of this will have an effect on the outcome of the presidential election on Sunday.
Commentary from Canada: Jeremy Kinsman gives his usual frank assessment of international developments: starting at 4:31.

While much of the world has been watching the antics in Washington, the European Commission witnessed a masterful coup: Martin Selmayr’s astonishing power grab – How a bureaucrat seized power in nine minutes. Nine Minutes. And seemingly without a peep from anyone.

Harsh truths from Parag Khanna, senior fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore
There’s a New Secretary of State. Who Cares?
Sorry, Washington. The world doesn’t need you anymore.

Trump & Trade, tariffs & trade wars  – what is most striking about the Trump tariffs is the exemptions. As Don Lee of the LA Times explained, the tariff order that Trump announced on Thursday “looks less like an effort to preserve national security and more like an attempt to create a giant bargaining chip that the president can play around the world.”
In practice, he announced that, at least for now, he would exempt imports from Canada, the largest exporter of steel to the U.S., and Mexico, the fourth largest. South Korea is No. 3 on the list and given South Korea’s key role in brokering the nuclear negotiations with North Korea, there’s a good chance Trump will agree to an exemption.Together, those three countries accounted for 38% of U.S. steel imports in 2016, according to the government’s International Trade Administration.
If South Korea wins an exemption, can Japan, another key ally in the North Korea negotiations, be left out? They’re No. 6 on the list. (Brazil and Turkey are the other two sources in the top five). So what about the European Union, the second-largest exporter of steel to the U.S. (behind Canada)? You may have wondered why the EU  said it would consider imposing counter-measures against American exports to Europe, including bourbon whiskey and Harley Davidson motorcycles. “Harley Davidson motorcycles and bourbon come from Wisconsin and Kentucky, which are not coincidentally the home states of the Republican leaders in the House and the Senate” (The Politics of Trade Wars)
Rest assured, Peter Berezin maintains that The sabre-rattling will persist, but an all-out trade war is unlikely. He argues that Trump is focused on the stock market, and equities would suffer mightily if a trade war broke out.

Interesting tidbit: Charles Koch (with whom I never, ever, agree) is opposed to the tariffs, saying: “A society that embraces free and open exchange not only provides the greatest abundance, it enables the growth of knowledge and life-enhancing innovations that uplift everyone. Just as the United States benefits from the ideas and skills that opportunity-seeking immigrants bring with them, free trade has been essential to our society’s prosperity and to people improving their lives.” Note the plug for immigrants, too.

Not sure how long it will take Canadians – and the world – to forget (or at least dim the memory of) Trudeau’s Indian blunders. The National Post, never a friend of Liberals gave glowing praise to French President Macron (France shows up Trudeau: Emmanuel Macron’s trip to India goes swimmingly – He came, he saw, he wore dark suits). The visit was half the length and many times more results-oriented than the Trudeau snafu.

The two Davids are at it again; this time the topic is gun violence:
David T. Jones: The Difficulty of Ending Gun Violence in the United States
The Hon. David Kilgour: Confronting Gun Violence in the US

Ion Valaskakis adds to the on-going debate about the effects of addiction to electronic devices:
Stillness is the 21st Century Super Power
“I’m more focused (interesting word, that) on exploring the idea that our abilities to quiet the mind and control our impulses amid a distraction culture and instant gratification economy are not just being eroded; they’re so increasingly rare that being able to do so will soon seem like a superpower.”

For your calendar:
18 March 5:30 pm
Our neighbour and friend Joyce Borenstein’s documentary
LIDA MOSER PHOTOGRAPHER:
will be shown during the Art-FIFA 2018
in English at the Centre for Architecture  (film # 44).
link to buy tickets:
link to the trailer:

28 March 5:30-7:00 pm
CIC Montreal Branch is delighted to invite you to this timely discussion
Asia and regional integration in the midst of global uncertainty
with Bart W. Édes, Asian Development Bank’s Representative in North America
1250 rue Guy, FB 804 (8th floor)
Registration is free but mandatory

The basis for a new parlour game?
What if other world leaders followed the Obamas into TV? Just imagine …
The humour is more than a bit forced, but the concept is fun.

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