Wednesday Night #1952

Written by  //  August 14, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

It is a delight  to welcome Tyler Meredith this Wednesday after a long absence. We have not seen Tyler since he left IRPP and Montreal to join the PMO as a policy advisor on economic and social policy. Subsequently, almost exactly a year ago, Tyler moved over to the Liberal Research Bureau as Senior Policy Advisor to support policy development with caucus. Not sure how much he can share with us, but one area of special interest to him is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and its enhancement under the Trudeau government.

Last Wednesday, we shared with those present the sad news of David T. Jones‘ death on Tuesday, 6 August. David had been battling cancer for some 10 years and was recently hospitalized at the University of Pennsylvania where he died peacefully with Terry and his daughters at his side. He – and his wife, Terry – were not only dear friends, but among the most faithful of Wednesday Nighters and, for many years after they returned to Washington,  always joined us during their annual pilgrimage to Canada in search of current information/insight on policy and politics. And in the intervening months,  participated by sending comments and/or  links to provocative news items. Moreover, we benefited for many years from his stimulating  exchanges with David Kilgour (David v. David) on the Epoch Times. His last,  poignant, column, Some Last Thoughts About Lost Crises and Continuing Relevance, was published on 13 July. As David did not advertise his impressive career as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his interview with The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training for the Foreign Affairs Oral History Project is a fascinating read.

True to form, Terry sent the first  news story about US State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert, who was outed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist. Since the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the subjects of white nationalism, gun control and immigration have merged into one increasingly complex and disturbing public debate.

Our friend C. Uday Bhaskar joins the debate  over Prime  Minister Modi’s  actions with respect to the special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, worrying about the manner in which it will negatively impact the democratic ethos of India and its standing as the world’s largest liberal democracy ostensibly committed to its Constitution and to secularism. (How sacrosanct is the ‘Idea of India’?) Cleo Paskal, takes a more positive view:  “Over the longer-term, as residents of J&K see more opportunities for economic development, as women have more rights, and as there is more integration and identification with the rest of India, there is hope the appeal of extremism will wane and the lives of the people of J&K will normalize. For Delhi, the repeal of Article 370 is a core issue of national identity and security. India is saying the people of the region, whatever their faith, are Indian citizens and should have the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens.” She adds “Washington should consider the repeal of Article 370 to be an internal Indian decision based on a reasonable approach to citizenship, rather than seeking to interpose itself between India and Pakistan.”

The U.S.-China trade war took a new turn as Trump announced a delay in implementation of tariffs  on a wide range of consumer products … until December suggesting he is finally aware  of the impact the penalties are having on American consumers, companies and markets, and potentially on his campaign for re-election.
Tellingly, he said the decision was made “so it won’t be relevant to the Christmas shopping season” — a swing from his previous position that China alone bears the cost of the tariffs. Bloomberg opines that “Beijing may sense its best option is to wait Trump out as the election approaches and his farming base feels the pain of losses in agricultural sales to China.”

Meanwhile, China’s economy is slowing and the situation in Hong Kong continues to be of concern with reports that Satellite photos show Chinese armoured vehicles on border of Hong Kong. See also Beijing’s game plan for crushing the Hong Kong protests is now clear: “The Chinese government position is no doubt driven by fear of contagion to the mainland and geopolitical anxiety about Hong Kong’s loyalty. This must be balanced against the need to maintain Hong Kong’s perceived stability and prosperity, and to safeguard China’s influence in Taiwan.”

The  IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems was released last week ( Climate Change and Land – Summary for Policymakers ) As The Atlantic story points out, ” If the report has an overarching theme, it’s that land is extremely scarce, we need it for everything, and we are already using most of it.” In Sorry, banning plastic bags won’t save our planet, Bjorn Lomborg argues against the current move in Canada -and other countries- to ban plastic bags, pointing out that “plastic also makes our lives better in a myriad of ways. In just four decades, plastic packaging..keeps everything from cereals to juice fresher and reduces transportation losses, while one-use plastics in the medical sector have made syringes, pill bottles and diagnostic equipment more safe.” He maintains that “Rather than trying to save the oceans with such bans in rich countries, we need to focus on tackling the inferior waste management and poor environmental policies in developing regions. Research from 2015 shows that less than 5 per cent of land-based plastic waste going into the ocean comes from OECD countries, with half coming from just four countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. While China already in 2008 banned thin plastic bags and put a tax on thicker ones, it is estimated to contribute more than 27 per cent of all marine plastic pollution originating from land.”

It has been a hard year for Wednesday Nighters’ health and most of all, we have been concerned for Sam Stein and Brian Morel. I am happy to report that Brian is making an excellent recovery – one last operation to go on 23 August – despite some horrendous life-threatening blunders by medical staff. We have had a couple of cheery phone conversations recently and look forward to his return to Wednesday Night in the early Fall. Meanwhile, Sam is also making good progress and Gail advises that following his recent  MRI,  “his doctor says there is nothing to worry about, but we’ll have more details when we meet with his neurologist at the CHUM.” He has been suffering from double vision, but his vision is improving and he will have more tests on August 19 before we meet with the neuro- ophthalmologist at the end of August. She adds that” he has been able to move his left arm a little for the last few days. His determination and willpower are extraordinary.” Nothing surprising there!  We were also happy to learn that last week, he  was fitted with hearing aids which will make life a lot easier for him – and his interlocutors.

Long reads
Congratulations to Guy Stanley on the publication of his new book, Rebuilding Liberalism – Social Justice with Individual Freedom, a worthy and worthwhile contribution to current thought.
What Happened to Aung San Suu Kyi?
A human-rights icon’s fall from grace in Myanmar
Simon Tisdall: John Bolton doesn’t want a trade deal with the UK – he wants to colonise us
Finding Amelia Earhart’s Plane Seemed Impossible. Then Came a Startling Clue.
Robert Ballard has found the Titanic and other famous shipwrecks. This month his crew started trying to solve one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries.
And finally:
Much as we try to avoid the topic of Jeffrey Epstein -coverage, even from establishment media, has more than a hint of voyeurism- we recommend Ross Douthat’s Jeffrey Epstein and When to Take Conspiracies Seriously. Citing cases ranging from UFOs and Area 51 to Russian interference in elections, the conspiratorial view that a dark corporate alliance is actively conspiring against American health, and the pedophile scandals of the Catholic Church, he makes the point that Sometimes conspiracy theories point toward something worth investigating. A few point toward the truth.. Pause for thought.

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