Wednesday Night #1957

Written by  //  September 18, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1957

15 September was the 50th anniversary of the tabling of the Partners in Development: Report of the Commission on International Development aka The Pearson Report.
Ian Smillie wrote in The Ottawa Citizen: Fifty years ago, Pearson identified a ‘crisis in aid.’It’s still with us
One wonders what the world might have looked like today had the former prime minister’s recommendations been implemented — even by halves.

We are relieved to learn that Trump has selected Robert O’Brien as the new National Security adviser. Sounds like quite a change from the annoying, irascible Bolton. Interesting fact: “O’Brien will become the highest-ranking Mormon in the U.S. government, an important milestone for a religious community that has shown some skepticism of President Trump and will be an important voting demographic in certain states, particularly Arizona.”

Jonathan Chait goes after the Trump statement: I Can’t Be Corrupt Because I’m Losing Money., arguing: if he is losing his traditional income streams, that only makes him more desperate to find new sources of income. And if Trump’s old customer base is disappearing, a new one has presented itself: people who have an interest in currying favor with the president of the United States.

It’s intriguing to watch the establishment media picking sides in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Saudi Arabia, Aramco and Iran
With Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is locked and loaded, Andrew J. Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft cautions that Iran Might Be America’s Enemy, but Saudi Arabia Is No Friend. Placing the current war in Yemen in the context of the Iran-Iraq confrontation of the 1980s, he argues that “The conviction, apparently widespread in American policy circles, that in the Persian Gulf (and elsewhere) the United States is compelled to take sides, has been a source of recurring mischief. No doubt the escalating rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran poses a danger of further destabilizing the gulf. But the United States is under no obligation to underwrite the folly of one side or the other.” In the most recent development, Trump has ordered an increase in sanctions on Iran as Saudi Arabia reveals weapons debris from oil attacks, although Saudi officials had not yet determined from where the weapons were launched.
David Sanger writes in the NYT Trump’s Challenge: “For a president with a loose relationship with the facts and poisonous relationships with allies, the attack on the Saudi oil fields poses a challenge: how to prove the administration’s case that Iran was behind the strike and rally the world to respond.Can His Word on Iran Be Trusted?” He has a point.

Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas comment on the Israeli election and attack on Saudi Arabia – They (particularly Jeremy) do not hold back when delivering original perspectives and sharp comments.

Bloomberg Politics’ comments on the Israeli election pretty well sum up the situation.
“Benjamin Netanyahu’s gamble last spring to call snap elections rather than give his rival a chance to form a government may have just backfired.
… with ballots still being counted, Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue & White are neck and neck. But in the key calculation — the ability of any party to form a majority coalition in the 120-member parliament — Netanyahu seems further from his goal of retaining power than ever.
That means the country will be focused on arduous coalition talks just as the challenges on its borders from Hamas and Iran intensify and global markets reel from [the] attack on Saudi oil facilities.
It also means U.S. President Donald Trump’s long-touted peace plan for the Middle East could land in the midst of coalition talks — hardly an environment for a warm reception — and just as Netanyahu gears up to fight pending corruption charges. Netanyahu may end up ruing the decision to call a new vote. It turns out that elections can be like wars: You know how they start, but you never know how they’ll end.”

Greta Thunberg is leading a global Friday climate strike supported by kids and adults from 150 countries on Friday. Canada is an enthusiastic joiner – A Massive Global Climate Strike Is Happening In 80 Canadian Places Next Week.  The international protest comes ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday the 23rd
The impressive show of determined, energetic, activism must, however, be taken in the context of The fight to contain climate change – Implementing Paris, mobilizing action, which, as Brookings’ Todd Stern points out “is now focused principally on the challenge of rapidly increasing the ambition of country efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Meanwhile back in the U.S.A. the NYT lists 85 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump. See also: Donald Trump’s five most dangerous attacks on the environment

As the Hong Kong protests continue in the fourth month, the latest headline makes one wonder if the protestors are going too far. Happy Valley (horse) races threatened, fireworks cancelled? Unthinkable! Hong Kong horse races, fireworks called off amid protest threat

The Brexit circus continues – we find it hard to keep up. Today’s entertainment is supplied by the prorogation hearing where “Boris Johnson’s government is unworthy of trust because it conspired to ensure that “the mother of parliaments” was closed down by “the father of lies”, the supreme court was told in an impassioned speech by a Scottish advocate.”

Canadian politics
We may opine that the parties have been campaigning for some months -particularly the Liberals who have been handing out goodies to the electorate for some time- but in a piece published in the New York Times, McGill Professor of Practice David Shribman writes that Canada Does Elections Right – The campaign for prime minister just started. And it’s almost over. He sounds like a great guest for Wednesday Night!
Doug Sweet, who has been spending a lot of time with [NDP Leader] Jagmeet [Singh] of late, argues that “the media have this one wrong. He’s had a very good start to the campaign and hasn’t had to ask families to turn their TVs into teleprompter so he could deliver a sincere message to them!” – For those who do not get the reference, see Scheer Faces Ridicule for Using Teleprompter in a Family’s Living Room.
We look forward to Hearing Adam Daifallah‘s commentary on RDI’s news program 24 heures en 60 minutes each Monday evening during the election campaign. Has he tamed his earlier enthusiasm for Max Bernier?

An unrelated, but potential headache, Cameron Ortis, who was arrested last week and faces seven charges including communicating special operational information and preparing information for the purpose of communicating with a foreign entity or terrorist group. While the RCMP is still evaluating damage caused by the alleged leak of classified information, Ian Austen of the New York Times writes: “If Mr. Ortis’s case goes to trial, the government will face a dilemma over how to protect the secrets he is accused of dealing.” Which brings us to Adam Gopnik’s Are Spies More Trouble Than They’re Worth? in which he concludes “The universal law of unintended consequences rules with a special ferocity in espionage and covert action, because pervasive secrecy rules out the small, mid-course corrections that are possible in normal social pursuits.”

The cure for Canada’s ballooning debt levels
Our own Wednesday Night media darling Brett House, vice-president and deputy chief economist at Scotiabank, joins BNN Bloomberg’s Catherine Murray for a look at the headwinds Canadian consumers face as they continue to tackle mounting debt.

We are very pleased to see that there is serious discussion about the effects of smart phones on health, and almost more important, on social intercourse. The photos featured in this Quartz piece are an excellent illustration of the latter aspects Photographer removes our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world. Educators are struggling with policy issues. What are smartphones doing to young people? is an excellent overview.

While it sometimes seems that public figures have perfect lives (provided you don’t read the tabloids (but then, what Wednesday Nighter would do that?), there has been sad news of several starting with the death of Legendary journalist and political commentator Cokie Roberts due to complications from breast cancer. Margaret Atwood‘s partner Graeme Gibson, Canadian novelist and conservationist, has died at 85 and Alex Trebek, is back in chemotherapy after ‘numbers went sky high’ Pancreatic cancer, as most of us know, is generally aggressive, painful and largely incurable. The prognosis cannot be good. It is impossible to think of anyone who could replace him. He has had an enormous influence on North America, has supported his University of Ottawa alma mater to the hilt and has been the epitome of class, erudition and just plain smarts for several years as host of Jeopardy!

The Downton Abbey movie opens in Montreal tomorrow! Check out Six Downton Abbey Moments To Remember Before The Movie. And Leonard Cohen stamps go on sale on Saturday!

Every now and then there is a tabloid story we cannot resist sharing. This time it is the Giuliani Divorce: It’s Ugly, It’s Operatic. What Did You Expect?, Of course, there is a White House connection, however “Mr. Giuliani insisted that his relationship woes … does(sic) not affect his ability to assist Mr. Trump’s legal defense. If anything, he said, the president’s familiarity with how marital squabbles can be front-page news earned him a fair amount of empathy.

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