Wednesday Night #1962

Written by  //  October 23, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

We have survived the 2019 election campaign, although emerging somewhat battered by the resurgence of the Bloc and the obliteration of progressive representation in Alberta and Saskatchewan – all but one [future trivia question?] of the 48 seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan went to the Conservatives and, as of Tuesday evening, well over 150,000 Albertans had signed an online petition that called for the province to separate from the country.
Maclean’s, which has not been kind to the LPC throughout the campaign, nonetheless provides a somewhat even-handed lengthy account in How Justin Trudeau held on: The story of a gruelling, messy campaignThe path to a Liberal minority was paved with low points and sloppy moments. In this election, there were no undiluted victories.
There was considerable coverage in international media, even the editorial board of the New York Times weighed in.
Wednesday Nighters Andrew Caddell and Adam Daifallah figure among our favorite commentators.
Donald Trump tweeted congratulations – On the Diplomatic Community, Jeremy Kinsman and Lawrence Haas have doubts about what that may mean and muse about a’Trudeau re-elected but with a minority: is Canada’s international reach and influence reduced in consequence? What’s the Trudeau-Freeland foreign policy agenda now?”
Wednesday Night pundits accurately foretold the minority government outcome. We look forward to their observations over the coming weeks.
Incidentally, we watched the CTV national coverage which included Anne McLellan, Rona Ambrose and Tom Mulcair on the panel (along with very aged Lloyd Roberts and Craig Oliver) and were somewhat surprised by the former Deputy PM’s sharp tone regarding Trudeau and, implicitly, his PMO palace guard. Could not help thinking how different the campaign would have been with Rona Ambrose as Conservative leader.

So now, back to the concerns of the rest of the world.
The Brexit story continues to confound as Boris Johnson’s plan to fast-track his Brexit deal through parliament in time for next week’s 31 October deadline was blocked by MPs on Tuesday night. After the vote, EU Council President Donald Tusk said he would recommend EU leaders backed an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline. The BBC reports that  “a No 10 source said if a delay was granted, the PM would seek an election.” Quartz is not impressed by The British government’s assessment of its Brexit bill mentions “cost” three times more than “benefit” noting that “A 69-page impact assessment (pdf) was published alongside the bill last night. It concludes that the legislation will cost the country £167 million ($216 million) over 10 years. In its assessment of the assessment (pdf), as it were, the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), an official body charged with gauging the impact of regulation on the economy, notes with great understatement that the government’s analysis of the Brexit bill’s impact “could benefit from improved evidence, to the level that the RPC would normally expect to see.” The government’s assessment describes various costs and benefits as “non-monetised” 105 times.”

Fallout from Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria continues as Putin, Erdogan agree to share patrols in northeastern Syria In his most recent column, Thomas Friedman comments “In taking responsibility with the Kurds for defeating ISIS in Syria, we relieved Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad of a huge burden, enabling them to crush the regime’s domestic rivals. And what’s really crazy is that — we did it for free! We didn’t even demand autonomy for our Syrian Kurdish allies or power-sharing with moderate Sunni Syrian rebels. I feel terrible for the Kurds, but at least America might get the last laugh on Putin. Trump let Putin win Syria — and the indefinite task of propping up al-Assad’s genocidal regime and managing Iran’s attempts to use Syria as a platform to attack Israel. What’s second prize?”

We will leave Ukraine and impeachment for another week.

Meantime, in Israel, Netanyahu gave up his effort to form a new government Monday after failing to secure a majority coalition, creating an opportunity for centrist rival Benny Gantz to replace Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.If Gantz fails during his 28-day window, a majority of lawmakers could try to endorse a third candidate, something that has never happened before. And if that fails, the country would be forced into the unprecedented scenario of a third election in under a year.

The Guardian reports that China ‘draws up plan to replace Carrie Lam’ as Hong Kong protests drag on. Meantime, in a recent surprising development, negotiations to settle the U.S.-China trade war appear to have advanced substantially with a strong possibility of signature in November (See: South China Morning Post US-China trade war: who wanted a deal the most? Just look at the concessions made by both sides)

Hong Kong is not the only place where there are protests. Gwynne Dyer reminds us that there is No end in sight to unrest in Catalonia – The demonstrations, some of them violent, are still going on in Catalonia a week after Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition, while in Lebanon, thousands of Lebanese protesters gathered for the sixth day, despite sweeping economic reform measures announced by the prime minister a day earlier, calling for the government to resign.
UPDATE: Richard Conrad and John Evdokias remind us that we should have added Chile (See Latin America 2013-2019) to our list of protest hotspots: “rioting, arson attacks and violent clashes, which have resulting in 15 deaths to date, wracked Chile again on Tuesday night, and about half of the country’s 16 regions evidently remain under an emergency decree.”
Meanwhile in Ethiopia, Police fired gunshots and teargas as thousands protested on Wednesday over the treatment of a prominent activist, residents said, in a sign that the country’s Nobel Prize-winning prime minister (see below) might be losing support among his power base.

It is Nobel time again and here is the full list of 2019 Laureates. This year, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of MIT shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019 with Michael Kremer of Harvard “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” More controversial is the award of the Peace Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”

Long reads
Sino-India Relations: Prospects and Challenges for 21st century BY COMMODORE (RETD.) C UDAY BHASKAR (video of lecture)
Assessing past and future strategies for reducing poverty in Africa
(Brookings) The recent World Bank study, Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, offers governments and stakeholders both new suggestions as well as new takes on old recommendations, providing a clear if bumpy road map for future strategies and intervention designs.
The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors
English majors are down 25.5 percent since the Great Recession, just as world’s top economists say we need more ‘storytellers’
This man is disrupting the cult of the billionaire
Author Anand Giridharadas is rebuking the idea that philanthropic billionaires are society’s heroes. Even some plutocrats are starting to agree with him.
Inside Trump’s First Pentagon Briefing
(Politico) What I saw there that foretold the coming rift between Mattis and the president—and today’s foreign policy crises.
By Guy Snodgrass, former chief speechwriter for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is the author of Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon With Secretary Mattis, from which this article is adapted.

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