Wednesday Night #1940

Written by  //  May 22, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1940

China trade war, trading threats with Iran, fighting attempts by Congress to obtain his financial records – the news from Trump’s Washington is not good, but pales by comparison with the odious anti-abortion legislation passed by the Alabama and similar moves contemplated in other states.

CTV Diplomatic Community (video)
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas on Canada-China impasse, threat of nuclear war, and ratcheting-up of U.S.- Iran confrontation.
Note Larry Haas’ scathing review of Justin Trudeau’s latest comments that “China is playing stronger, making stronger moves than it has before to try and get its own way on the world stage and Western countries and democracies around the world are pulling together to point out that this is not something that we need to continue to allow”

PM Justin Trudeau‘s brand is under attack, but many of the wounds are self-inflicted. The recent elimination of steel and aluminum tariffs has provided an encouraging development, but the counterweight is the impasse in relations with China stemming from the arrest of  Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive Meng Wanzhou and ever since,  Canada has been the ham in the U.S.-China trade war sandwich (Trudeau toughens tone against China as Canadian delegation presses for release of detainees).
At a national level, the trend in provincial elections is disquieting for the Liberals. Éric Grenier points out that “Not since the Great Depression have more governments been defeated on one PM’s watch.” The SNC-Lavalin issue has moved off the front pages -at least for the moment- , but only to be replaced by the Admiral Mark Norman story [How the Liberals spent the week blaming everyone else for the Mark Norman fiasco], which is even murkier because there is so little public information.

The continuing exchange of threats and counter threats from the U.S. and Iran is more of an immediate concern than the U.S.-China trade war. The Trump administration has increased US military presence in the Gulf in response to what it said were threats from Iran. Then on Sunday, Trump tweeted “if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” He added, “never threaten the United States again”. He did not clarify what threats he meant.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in an interview broadcast on CNN on Tuesday, said the US is “playing a dangerous game”, warning that “having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents.”
Wednesday Night’s two Davids address recent developments in the U.S.-Iran confrontation. In the U.S.-Iran Hatefest as it Heats Up, David Jones lays out several options, none of which is reassuring. David Kilgour‘s United States and Iran at the Brink is barely more sanguine and attacks John Bolton’s embrace of the war option.
Gwynne Dyer’s latest column, Iran An unwinnable war, updates the findings of the U.S. military in 2007, citing Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism adviser in the White House under three administrations “After a long debate, the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favourably for the United States.” The update is no more optimistic about the outcome today.

The never-ending Brexit saga continues as  May fails to quell Brexit plan backlash amid reports cabinet has turned against her – Tory ministers and backbenchers conspicuously absent as Theresa May makes statement about her proposed Brexit bill.
Meanwhile, on Thursday voting starts in the U.K. and Netherlands for European elections. The majority of countries will hold the vote on Sunday, 26 May. We strongly suggest keeping European election: The essential guide handy. Some votes will be dictated by young people who have not attained voting age – see European elections 2019: Why adults are giving kids their vote – a novel idea that recognizes that their generation will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. The young people who participate with their elders are likely to be far better informed than the many who could be influenced by Far-right Facebook groups ‘spreading hate to millions in Europe

As the European elections begin, the results of the elections in India will be announced on Thursday. Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in parliament, which has 543 seats up for grabs. Friend of Wednesday Night, C. Uday Bhaskar writes in This Week in Asia India election: Can the country’s tradition of diversity withstand a second ‘Modi wave’? – A strong majority in parliament for the right-leaning National Democratic Alliance on results day would embolden the country’s Hindu right. Liberals fear sectarian divisions are being institutionalised by prioritising Hindutva, India’s aggressive form of Hindu nationalism

Meanwhile, Deadly protests continue in Indonesia after Jokowi’s election win, At least six people were killed as protests continued on Wednesday after the official results of last month’s election confirmed incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as president with 55 percent of the vote. Hundreds were also wounded as protests erupted for a second day across Jakarta. The demonstrators were largely supporters of presidential candidate and former military general Prabowo Subianto and they claimed widespread fraud took place before, during and after the election.

Austria is due for elections following the collapse of the government after the release of a video showing Heinz-Christian Strache, the far-right leader of his junior coalition partner, trying to trade public contracts for party donations from a woman he believed to be the wealthy niece of a Russian oligarch.

Friends in the news
Tracey Arial was the featured guest on CBC’s Radio Noon in a timely Q&A before traditional planting day weekend. If you missed this highly informative piece, you can hear it on Montreal gardener takes your questions on what to plant this weekend.

Exempt teachers from Bill 21: EMSB brief
If Bill 21 is passed, it would “contravene Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees Quebec’s English-speaking minority control over its education system.”
• Such a law “would prohibit our future primary and high school teachers, school principals and vice-principals from wearing religious symbols in the exercise of their functions, while limiting the career advancement of our current employees,” stated Commissioner Julian Feldman, chair of the EMSB’s Human Resources Advisory Committee. “It sends a message of intolerance and exclusion….The passage of Bill 21 would lead to disharmony and friction and is contrary to our societal goal of promoting our peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic Quebec.”
• Bill 21 violates the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Human Rights and Freedoms, in terms of “protecting minority rights from the will of the majority.
• Feldman added that the secular nature of the school system “is guaranteed in the law, and is certainly not under threat from school employees who choose to wear religious symbols. There is no justification in discriminating based on individual expressions of religious belief or for the use of the notwithstanding clause.”

A bit of history
Coverage of I.M. Pei’s death last week brought home that certainly in Canada, all news is local, as emphasis was first and foremost on I.M. Pei, architect of Place Ville Marie. Checking some reference, I landed by accident on the Wikipedia page for Percy Erskine Nobbs, a name that is little known  today, despite his close association with McGill. As one of our good friends was related to him, we knew something about him, however not that he was an Olympic fencer.

Good reads
China’s Risky Middle East Bet
By Brett McGurk
(Carnegie) China is making a risky bet in the Middle East. By focusing on economic development and adhering to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs, Beijing believes it can deepen relations with countries that are otherwise nearly at war with one another—all the while avoiding any significant role in the political affairs of the region. This is likely to prove naive, particularly if U.S. allies begin to stand up for their interests.

Alabama’s abortion act is political theater

The optimistically titled The Last Piece on Brexit? by Jeremy Kinsman for Policy Magazine

and for a lighter look at niche markets:
How a community of obscure language inventors made it big with ‘Game of Thrones’
“… they call themselves “conlangers,” for language constructors — have spent nearly their entire lives developing a personal language, to the point they might think in it, pray in it, dream in it.” … “They trace their history to the 12th century, when the Benedictine nun Hildegard of Bingen created a “lingua ignota” for divine communication. Nineteenth century idealists created international languages they hoped would unite the world, though only Esperanto is spoken by more than a handful of people today. The most famous proto-conlanger was the author J.R.R. Tolkien, who invented a deeply structured Elvish language for his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in the 1950s, including Elvish songs and poetry. His passion features in the new biopic “Tolkien.” Since then, pop culture has occasionally dabbled in the art — notably “Star Trek’s” Klingon language, and “Avatar’s” Na’vi.”

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