Wednesday Night #1954

Written by  //  August 28, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1954

The world – and host country France – appear to have survived the 2019 G7 Summit relatively unscathed.
Both Donald Trump (Trump was polite, but found little common ground with other G7 leaders) and Boris Johnson conducted themselves better than expected, although Trump’s pronouncements regarding the trade war with China were decidedly confusing. Not present, but certainly Bad Boy of the week was Jair Bolsonaro.
The surprise arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Biarritz and his meetings with Emmanuel Macron, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and officials from the U.K. and Germany, stimulated what could prove to be a productive discussion between Donald Trump and the other G7 leaders, leading Trump to say that while he continues to rule out lifting economic sanctions to compensate for losses suffered by Iran, he would meet with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani “under the right circumstances.”
True to form, Trump skipped the Monday meeting on Climate Change and Biodiversity
However, the last-minute addition of the Amazon forest fires to the agenda resulted in a pledge from the G7 leaders agreed to tackle the Amazon wildfires and contribute to reforestation in the region. That plan includes providing $20 million US ($26.5 million Cdn) in emergency aid to Brazil. Canada has stepped up with a separate pledge to send water bombers and $15 million in aid to help Brazil and other South American countries fight the fires. Which all sounded so positive until Bolsonaro refused the assistance Brazil to reject G7 aid after Bolsonaro rages at ‘colonialist’ leaders. Bolsonaro is setting himself up as a contender for Trumpian changes of mind. Late Tuesday, he reversed himself laying out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance and then, accepting some aid from Britain.

CTV’s Diplomatic Community panel -Jeremy Kinsman and Lawrence Haas– consider the G7 Summit ‘a qualified success’, but are highly pessimistic about the situation in Brazil.

Now we can look forward to the 2020 G7 Summit hosted by the U.S. Pity the poor sherpas. Although theoretically this is not an event that is all about location,  the comments by Trump regarding hosting at his Doral golf club are creating alarm. See the Washington Post story: Near the airport, ample parking: Why Trump says his Florida golf club should host the next G-7 “The Doral decision also would reflect the effective end of a campaign by some White House staffers to persuade Trump not to use his own properties for official White House events. The NYT editorial board sounds weary: The G7 Summit, Brought to You by the Trump OrganizationMr. Trump is trying to profit off the presidency. Again

With blanket coverage of the G7 Summit and the thrills & chills of the China trade war, there was surprisingly little coverage of the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual retreat  aka Jackson Hole. The NYT set the scene on Friday with How Politics Constrain the Federal Reserve and Other Economists and published the analytical piece, Trump Faces a Stubborn Opponent in Fed’s Economic Experts, on Tuesday. Bloomberg offered a running commentary on opening day, while The Economist complained that A meeting of economists and central bankers was overshadowed by President Donald Trump.

C. Uday Bhaskar’s piece in the South Asia Monitor examines the success of Modi’s appearance as a G7 Summit guest (there was no formal reaction to the Kashmir situation in contrast to a statement on Hong Kong), however, he warns that The Kashmir issue may have been handled deftly at the global politico-diplomatic level, but the abiding challenge for India remains domestic.

The Hong Kong protests have now reached the 79-day mark, the point at which Occupy Central ended. There is growing concern that the  government is considering invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a colonial era law with sweeping powers that was last used in 1967, to put an end to the current political crisis.  The draconian law would allow censorship, arrest and deportation and could push city into bigger crisis
The SCMP is concerned that “ongoing protests have clobbered Hong Kong’s economy – from its all-important property market and stock exchange to its shop owners and its banks – in a way the earlier pro-democracy effort did not five years ago. There is no end in sight. But the deeper damage to business – potentially long-lasting in the international investment community – could not be any clearer.”

For some time, have been hearing about plans to move Indonesia‘s capital. On Monday, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo  announced the national capital will move from Jakarta, on the island of Java, to the province of East Kalimantan. Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, which is also shared with Malaysia and Brunei. However, Jakarta will continue to be the nation’s commercial and financial centre, and it is believed that the majority of its nearly 10m residents would stay in Jakarta. Widodo said moving the capital would cost 466 trillion rupiah ($32.7bn), of which the state would fund 19%, with the rest from public-private partnerships and private investment. The price tag includes new government offices and homes for about 1.5 million civil servants. … Jakarta is also struggling under a huge environmental burden. Air quality in the city has plunged over the last few months, recording worse conditions in June than notoriously polluted cities such as Delhi and Beijing, prompting a group of activists and environmentalists to sue the government to take action.
Indonesia’s capital is also sinking. Areas of north Jakarta, including the seawall designed to protect them, are falling at an estimated 25cm a year, due to subsidence. The city does not pipe in enough drinkable water, so Jakartans rely largely on wells which extract water from shallow aquifers, leading to the the land above it collapsing.
The problem has been exacerbated by the explosion of new apartment blocks, shopping malls and even government offices and increases in the risk of a catastrophic flooding.

The wheels of Justice certainly do grind slowly. Ten years later, the European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Responsible for the Death of Whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky. Irwin Cotler commented “We hope today’s landmark decision will propel the pursuit of justice, & the passage of Global Magnitsky legislation in Europe and beyond.”

As the time for the writ to be dropped approaches, you may have noticed an acceleration in pre-campaign activities of Canadian politicians of all parties. Candidates are busily knocking on doors and recording what they are hearing from voters. In response to widespread complaints about the cost of wireless communications, sources say the Liberals will promise to help cut cellphone and internet bills. Lest you think that the Liberals make empty promises, even the National Post (yes, the NP!) reports that in an analysis and evaluation of how many of 353 Liberal pre-election promises have actually been fulfilled, experts found that by March of this year Trudeau’s government had entirely followed through on about 50 per cent of its pledges, partially delivered on about 40 per cent and had broken roughly 10 per cent. Not too shabby.

What to do about ‘Jihadi Jack’ whose U.K. citizenship has been revoked; he announced his intention to seek help from Canada, now the only country where he holds citizenship, though he has never lived here. Listen as Kyle Matthews and Professor Audrey Macklin, chair in human rights law at the University of Toronto debate: Who has a right to come back to Canada?. Although it was suggested that PM Trudeau would discuss with Boris Johnson at the G7, there has been no further news.

In Quebec Rewrites Its History in One Book , Martin Patriquin reviews the new approved, but not improved, Quebec history textbook and finds it sorely lacking. However, “Despite calls from Montreal’s English language school board to pulp it and start over, the textbook is staying in classrooms—omissions, exaggerations, and ahistorical overindulgences be damned. History will always be subject to debate, CAQ education minister Jean-François Roberge said last November. I think it’s normal not to have unanimity on that matter. He’s right, of course. In Quebec, kingdom of the aggrieved, history isn’t only alive. It’s forever political.”

Watch this for sheer delight
Bob’s Pennsylvania Wildlife Camera

Good reads
Hong Kong’s Real Problem Is Inequality
contrary to the prevailing pro-democracy narrative, the failure of Hong Kong’s autonomous government to address the problem stems from the electoral politics to which the protesters are so committed.
Hong Kong protests: Celebrities, big brands and China’s media game
China is trying to match the intensity of the demonstrations with an aggressive and creative media campaign of its own.
The Amazon Is Not Earth’s Lungs
Humans could burn every living thing on the planet and still not dent its oxygen supply
Kashmir and the Fire This TimeFor 22 days now, the disputed region remains besieged by almost a million Indian troops and policemen.
By Niya Shahdad
This Land Is the Only Land There Is
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.
The Amazon Fires Are More Dangerous Than WMDs
One person shouldn’t have the power to set policies that doom the rest of humanity’s shot at mitigating rising temperatures.

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