Wednesday Night #1939

Written by  //  May 15, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Wednesday Night #1939 – not an auspicious omen in view of international news.

But before we go there, CONGRATULATIONS to Julius Grey on the publication and very successful launch of his book “Capitalism and the Alternatives”.
“In Capitalism and the Alternatives Julius Grey seeks to rehabilitate economic equality as a fundamental social goal built on universal values such as individualism, liberty, and even romanticism. To achieve this, he argues, it is necessary to move away from national, ethnic, religious, and even gender loyalties. The importance in each society of common culture and widely accepted moral values, Grey suggests, cannot be overstated. With its rampant political correctness, the modern left seems to have lost sight of morality and individual freedom.”

Tony Deutsch heads to Hungary this Wednesday on his annual trip, just as Donald Trump has enthusiastically welcomed Viktor Orban –  ‘Like me, a little controversial’ said President Trump as he praised Hungary’s Prime Minister and brushed off concerns about threats to democratic norms in Hungary during Viktor Orban’s tenure. “He’s a respected man. And I know he’s a tough man, but he’s a respected man,” Trump said, when asked whether he had concerns about a weakening of democracy in Hungary. Welcoming the right-wing Hungarian leader for a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump lauded him for being tough on immigration, a policy area in which the two leaders have similar visions.

Confrontation between the U.S., its allies and Iran is ever-more worrisome. The New York Times reports that Skeptical U.S. Allies Resist Trump’s New Claims of Threats From Iran ; Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara asks  Iran and the West: Can Europe restrain the US? The EU seems to be the only major power willing to stand up to the US on Iran. But does it have the strength to do so?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the Trump administration had received intelligence related to “Iranian activity” that put American facilities and service personnel at “substantial risk.” However, U.S. allies and Iraqi officials have voiced skepticism, as has Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS. One of the best summaries comes from The Atlantic: The Knowns and Unknowns of What’s Happening With Iran –Conflicting signals from both sides could be read as a march to war or business as usual. “Still unknown is what precise intelligence precipitated last week’s announcement from National Security Adviser John Bolton that the U.S. is sending a carrier strike group to the region in the face of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings. Still unknown is who exactly was behind the tanker explosions, for which Iran has denied responsibility but which U.S. officials suspect to be their work. Still unknown is what exactly prompted the embassy evacuation order, and how much Iran-backed militias in Iraq are posing more of a threat to American forces following Washington’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.”

It’s so hard to keep up with the twists and turns of the Trump tornado. Aside from the Iran file, relations with Putin’s Russia are not going smoothly (Putin and Lavrov Rebuff Pompeo’s Overtures in Sochi; resolution of the trade war with China appears more and more remote with Wednesday’s executive order  barring US firms from using telecom gear from sources the administration deems national security threats (e.g. Huawei). Oh, and Venezuela.

And then came the announcement on Wednesday that Donald Trump fully pardons former media mogul Conrad Black – a reward for Lord Toady’s biography of Trump, aptly subtitled A President Like No Other, and numerous columns that have praised him excessively. It will only get worse!

There seems to be encouraging news about negotiations on the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. According to the Globe & Mail’s Campbell Clark, “Mexico is close to a deal with the United States to lift tariffs on steel on aluminum without imposing any quotas on exports, but the country has paused to give Canada an opportunity to work on its own deal with Washington” Meanwhile, Chrystia Freeland is in Washington on Wednesday for talks on steel tariffs with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, however, Canadian officials downplayed the prospects of an imminent deal.

Every week, there’s an election somewhere. This week, on Saturday, 18 May, it is Australia‘s turn. With everything else going on, we have not been paying attention, so Here’s everything you need to know about Australia’s election
The opposition Labor Party is expected to win Saturday’s election, with climate change emerging as a key issue.
Perhaps not of the same global importance, but may confirm an ominous trend for the Trudeau government: On Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador will decide whether to give Liberal Dwight Ball a second term — or gamble on Progressive Conservative Ches Crosbie, a political rookie with a Tory-blue pedigree. Changing governments has been all the rage for the past year, with every provincial election since June — all five of them — seeing the incumbents put out of power.

On the heels of the announcement that Onyx is buying WestJet, came the first news on Wednesday that Air Canada would acquire Air Transat. Initial reaction to both deals is favourable.

Uber’s IPO was not exactly an unqualified success according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban – and many others. Meanwhile, Cory Doctorow is more concerned by the aggressive plan to destroy all public transit Buried on page 160 of the prospectus, under the “Total Addressable Market,” is a plan to eliminate the world’s public transit systems and replace them with “Uber Bus” and “Express Pool.” The company estimates that if the world’s public transit riders all switch to Uber, they’ll be able to serve an 11.9 trillion miles/year market. (Uber’s plans include attacking public transit)

Good reads:
Socialism: A short primer
E.J. Dionne, Jr. and Bill Galston give a primer on socialism in three parts: its definition, the age gap in perceptions of socialism among Americans, and how socialism evolved to social-democratic systems in the U.K. and German

Canada: A nation of strangers
Scott Gilmore: Canadians don’t often move out of their birth province. According to data from Statistics Canada, only 15 per cent of Canadians live outside of their province of birth. We are not a mobile people. And we never were. During the early part of the 20th century, our great age of nation building, that number was below 10 per cent. We immigrated from overseas, picked a province and then stayed there. We vacation elsewhere. We barely know each other. We’re now unable to muster national responses to big issues.

And for your entertainment: I Broke Breakfast
Americans eat a narrower variety of foods for breakfast than anyone else. It doesn’t have to be this way.

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