Wednesday Night #1935

Written by  //  April 17, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

There was so much news, it was going to be very hard to know what to feature, but then on Monday afternoon (ET)  the horrific images of the tragic Notre-Dame fire spread across our screens  and somehow, at least temporarily, all the bickering among politicians and nations, faded in importance as people around the world watched the unthinkable happening Fire devastates Notre-Dame, beloved architectural gem at heart of Paris 800+ years of history lost. Many of us did not realize how drastic the state of Notre-Dame was. This article from September 2017: In Paris, Worn-Out Notre-Dame Needs a Makeover, and Hopes You Can Help gives a good picture of the parlous state of the building.
It is hard to imagine the Paris skyline without that unique profile.
By Tuesday, there was some good news Notre-Dame fire: What’s been lost, what’s been saved and where there’s hope; donations pouring in; and perhaps best of all: Notre Dame’s 3 iconic rose windows are safe after the fire.

A view of the middle-age stained glass rosace on the southern side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, on November 29, 2012, in Paris. Photo credit: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

For more see France 2017-2019

In case you did not know, 15 April is Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. Perhaps he was instrumental in saving so much from the fire?

While media were focused on Paris, in a curious coincidence, a fire broke out at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem just as flames ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Marwani Prayer Room is located underneath the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, which contains both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. There was no evidence of any link between the two fires. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director general of the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department, told Jordan’s Al-Mamlaka TV that the fire broke out in the courtyard and preliminary information suggested that it may have been caused by children tampering in the area.

Netanyahu May Have Won, but Israel‘s Political Landscape Has Fundamentally Changed
The disappearance of Labor and arrival of the largest centrist party in Israel’s history means that the next political battles will be fought on new issues: Not on peace or the Palestinians, but democracy In The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance, David Remnick writes Just as Netanyahu showed Trump the possibilities of right-wing populism, Trump has shown Netanyahu the possibilities of outrageous invective, voter suppression, and disdain for the law.

Ukraine is halfway through a presidential election: The first round took place on March 31, and the run-off is coming up on April 21. Steven Pifer outlines Five key things to know about Ukraine’s presidential election and paints a somewhat unflattering portrait of Volodymyr Zelensky, who, barring some unforeseen event will be the next president.

Upheaval in Sudan continues as demonstrators are pushing for a quick handover of power to civilians by the army-led transitional council. But so far no budging on the refusal to hand Bashir over to the ICC. Hard to tell what will happen next. As the Guardian notes, Analysts believe the army may be waiting for splits in the protest movement to appear. The opposition in Sudan is fragmented and current unity may prove transitory, they say.

Remember when Donald Trump crowed that ISIS was defeated and a thing of the past? Not exactly prescient comment. Check out Robin Wright: The Dangerous Dregs of ISIS in The New Yorker
“After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges: there are tens of thousands of captured ISIS members whom no nation wants to repatriate, and the local militia holding them has neither the resources nor the personnel to keep them indefinitely.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested on Thursday, 11 April setting off lively debate – would his prosecution be an assault on freedom of the press or has the issue evolved into the damage inflicted by  his personality and beliefs  (see Wikileaks was the future once. Then it became Julian Assange)

And then there is Brexit
BBC’s Glenn Campbell wonders Is there time for another Brexit vote?. The Financial Times frets The UK teeters on the verge of a Brexit breakdownThe protracted messy departure from the EU is proving bad for people’s mental health. The EU’s Donald Tusk says he ‘dreams’ of Brexit being cancelled. The Washington Post’s Megan McArdle muses Brexit and Trump are flailing. But the establishment shouldn’t relax yet and manages to bring Macron’s France into the scenario. Finally Suzanne Moore writes in The Guardian Who is really responsible for Brexit? The Queen, arguing that “It has been suggested that the Queen could stop Brexit, and the very notion is intriguing – this longing for unquestionable authority is a sign of our inherent repression. But this longing is dangerous, my friends, and it is the opposite of democracy. The Queen is not personally accountable for Brexit, but she presides over an institution that symbolises and legitimises much of the inequality that led to it.”
On a lighter note: TV fans delighted as Brexit renewed for another season
Fans of Britain’s long-running comedy-drama Brexit are today overjoyed after learning that another season of the popular show has been commissioned.
Just when it looked like the UK’s telly addicts would need to find another boxset to binge it has been announced that Brexit – possibly the greatest farce since Fawlty Towers and a fantasy to rival Game of Thrones – will roll on for at least one more season.

While the Democrats are squabbling in the House, an all-too-crowded race for the 2020 nomination has been enlivened by the entry of Pete Buttigieg. New York Magazine had fun with this news: “Sick of old people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Scared of young people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it. Wary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Make the President Read Again? He learned Norwegian to read Erlend Loe. Traditional? He’s married. Woke? He’s gay. Way behind the rest of the country on that? He’s not too gay. Worried about socialism? He’s a technocratic capitalist. Worried about technocratic capitalists? He’s got a whole theory about how our system of “democratic capitalism” has to be a whole lot more “democratic.” If you squint hard enough to not see color, some people say, you can almost see Obama the inspiring professor. Oh, and he’s the son of an immigrant, a Navy vet, speaks seven foreign languages (in addition to Norwegian, Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian), owns two rescue dogs, and plays the goddamn piano. He’s actually terrifying.”

On Thursday, we look forward to the release of the redacted Mueller Report. In anticipation, see Here’s everything we know about the 400-page document. Don’t expect a transparent document. Last week, Barr told Congress that he will include color-coded notes for each redaction that will explain why that piece of information was left out of the version of the report delivered to Congress and the public. In March, Barr also revealed that nearly every page of the report contains at least some information that needs to be redacted.
Previous special prosecutors — like Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr and Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski — went to court to get a judge’s permission to release as much information to Congress and the public as they could. But Barr said he will not do the same and will work according to current Justice Department policy and legal guidelines.
So maybe you won’t have to spend all of Easter weekend reading it.

We had hoped against hope that Rachel Notley would prevail in the Alberta elections, but Jason Kenney has won a decisive majority. This does not bode well for Fed-Prov relations. Colby Cosh writes “Kenney’s easy win creates uncertainty on the grander stage of Confederation. He ran largely against Justin Trudeau rather than Rachel Notley, and this seems to have worked pretty darned well.”
Andrew Caddell has a column coming out (no link available yet) in which he argues that if he were advising Justin Trudeau, he would suggest he keep a low profile for now, mend fences, and delegate effectively. “He should meet with groups of people who like and support him, and make occasional good-news announcements himself while passing on the bad news to his ministers. And he should let them make decisions.” Sounds like a plan!

The SNC-Lavalin/JWR story is not going away. Carleton University journalism professor Randy Boswell has a somewhat different take:
Did Indigenous issues influence Wilson-Raybould affair?
The former justice minister seems to have been an ardent reformer frustrated by the timidity of her own government colleagues on a file near and dear to her heart.
And SNC-Lavalin joint venture wins $1B contract to decommission U.S. nuclear site

As you no doubt have realized, we are not sports fans or even followers of most sports news, however, we were happy with the news that Tiger Woods had made such a spectacular come-back at The Masters, and did not begrudge him the $2.07 million he earned. But then Donald Trump ruined it all by announcing that he would confer on Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom. With a little prodding we looked up the list of previous recipients and the presidents who awarded their medals – we still don’t think Tiger Woods deserves it.

Not to miss:
16-22 April
Annabel Soutar and Alex Ivanovici’s Porte Parole theatre company just started a run of their incredible J’aime Hydro at Place des Arts, Théatre Maisonneuve. J’aime Hydro is Annabel Soutar’s most recent collaboration with actress and budding playwright Christine Beaulieu about the future of energy production in Quebec. (French language production)
J’aime Hydro is a coproduction between Porte Parole and Champ gauche, in collaboration with the Festival TransAmériques (episodes 1-3). See Robert Everett-Green’s review
Investigative playwriting shines light on myths and realities of Hydro-Québec – Bare-bones play poses uncomfortable questions on utility’s purpose and policies.
25 April 2019 from 5:00 PM to 7:00
America Where Art Thou? – A discussion with US Senator Paul Strauss – Making sense of the impact of current US politics on US-Canadian relations and international relations
29 April
12:30 -5pm
Right-wing extremism, hatred and gender-based violence in Canada
What does research tell us about prevention and what are the pathways for prevention and intervention online and offline?

Good reads:
In our view, The Atlantic has done a superlative job of covering the Notre-Dame story, along with other topics. We would particularly recommend this:
France’s Paradoxes, Embodied in a Cathedral
France is a secular republic, dedicated to the principle of laïcité, or the absence of religion in public life. But it has as its national symbol the Notre-Dame cathedral.

A new World Bank report titled Chongqing 2035: Spatial and Economic Transformation for a Global City provides a framework of five strategic pillars for the city’s transformation: spatial structure, connectivity, innovation, inclusivity, and green growth. Co-author, Xueman Wang was a colleague at the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Theodore Pelagidis writes that Piraeus is China’s backdoor to Europe thanks to Chinese state shipping giant COSCO which has heavily invested in Piraeus port during the past decade, transforming it into the Mediterranean’s busiest trade port, along with Valencia, Spain. Piraeus is fast becoming a central hub in the eastern Mediterranean, due in large part to COSCO’s systematic investment that expanded and modernized the port. COSCO’s target for Piraeus is for it to become the biggest European port over the next decade by doubling mainly the unload capacity. As part of the BRI, COSCO serves as a platform for realizing Beijing’s political and commercial ambitions in Europe. Only time will tell whether Europe can be an equal partner or if the region will become a mere “appendage of Eurasia” as China’s ambitions expand—a fate Henry Kissinger warned of in a 2018 interview with Ed Luce of the Financial Times.

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