Wednesday Night #1968

Written by  //  December 4, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

While most of us regard the U.S. Thanksgiving as a benign, stress-free precursor to the commercial Christmas madness (save for the more recent horrible invention of Black Friday and all the other days of the week), a happy occasion when we are beguiled by the image of Pilgrims and Indians feasting in harmony, a reading of The Invention of Thanksgiving Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday paints another picture.

The UNFCC Climate Change COP25 (more formally known as the Conference of the Parties) opened in Madrid on Monday. On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney is to serve as UN special envoy on climate, news that was greeted generally with enthusiasm.
In the news/media build-up to the COP, George Monbiot’s article of March 2019 Capitalism is destroying the Earth. We need a new human right for future generations has been brandished as part of the on-going critique of capitalism.
John Kerry, the former senator and secretary of state, has formed a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders, military brass and Hollywood celebrities to push for public action to combat climate change. The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050. Their goal is to hold more than 10 million “climate conversations” in the coming year with Americans across the political spectrum.

NATO’s Summit celebrating its 70th anniversary is neither celebratory nor harmonious. The presence of the disrupter-in-chief  is a contributing factor, but Emmanuel Macron has underscored tensions that have been evident for some time. On Tuesday, their disagreement over how to contain the threat of terrorism and a shared vision for the future of NATO became a very public “extended, terse back-and-forth over trade, immigration, and Mr. Trump’s relationship with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.” Adding to the acrimony is the question of how to deal with NATO member Turkey who, in addition to  worrisome rapprochement to Russia, is threatening to oppose NATO’s plans to update the defense of Poland and the Baltic countries if the alliance does not join him in labeling some Kurdish groups as terrorists.
Check out Macron’s brilliant ploy using Toddler Reverse Psychology Trick to Fool Trump Into Supporting NATO
Justin Trudeau was also a Trump target, but seems to have emerged relatively unscathed (Trump says Canada ‘slightly delinquent’ in defence spending).

Canada
After a busy two days at the Summit, the PM returns to Ottawa for the opening of Parliament on Thursday, the 5th.
One of the many files that will need to be addressed is the news that Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei plans to relocate Huawei’s centre for research and development to Canada from the U.S. It is presumed that when he returns from the NATO Summit, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne  will be handed this hot potato, although it is sometimes hard to decipher which Minister(s) does what as the PMO has yet to post any Mandate Letters for the new Cabinet – presumably someone is still wrestling with the wording for poor Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity.
As Neil Macdonald points out, Newly-minted Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller (our M.P.) will have his hands full with the thorny issue of First Nations child welfare compensation
Chrystia Freeland (when she is not solving last-minute NAFTA problems) and Catherine McKenna have already been busy trying to soothe the fractious western premiers and reassure the mayors and municipalities across the country.
The new Minister of Environment, Jonathan Wilkinson undergoes baptismal fire next week when he heads to Madrid for COP25. And then there’s the litigation over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in which, as a B.C. M.P., he will have more than a passing interest. Does this fall within his jurisdiction, or that of (his predecessor) Catherine McKenna? We really would like to see those Mandate Letters!

Meanwhile, Lawrence Martin writes that “If, as reported, Justin Trudeau is considering Rona Ambrose for the post of Washington ambassador, what an intriguing and inspired choice she would be. For starters, in an era of venomous political polarization, this would be a splendid show of bipartisanship. Never has a government chosen its U.S. ambassador from the ranks of the Official Opposition party. In the case of Ms. Ambrose, it would be the former party leader, no less.
She would become the first female to hold the post, happily halting a 90-year run of male envoys carrying out the country’s most important diplomatic assignment. … She is well qualified for the ambassador’s role. In addition to her interim party leadership and many years as a cabinet minister under Mr. Harper, she served as a member of the Liberals’ advisory council on the North American free-trade agreement negotiations. Her conservative credentials would be an advantage when working with Republicans. ” – a brilliant move!

Global economy & Trade
Not content with disrupting the NATO Summit, Trump has been busily engaged in disrupting markets: A comment by President Donald Trump that a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war might not come until after the November 2020 election weighed on global stock markets on Tuesday, sending investors to the safety of bonds. Stocks fall, bonds climb amid concern over longer trade war
Eswar Prasad writes that recent trade data suggest that not only is the world economy weaker than it was earlier this year but that more weakness lies ahead Global trade takes a beating—and with it the global economy

When the headlines are not about Impeachment, they are all about the Democrats vying for the presidential nomination, the contest in New Mexico for the 3rd Congressional District (which includes Santa Fe) seat recently vacated by Ben Ray Luján is an interesting footnote to history (Valerie Plame, America’s most famous ex-spy, finds her new identity) and may also prove to be one to keep an eye on.
Our good friend Nick Rost van Tonningen recently cited former (GOP) Gov. John Kasich of Ohio “Centre-right and centre-left is where the country is at”, as he (Nick) analysed the  Gallup Poll that each year has asked people In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent? Summarizing the results, once the ‘leaners’ (i.e. those Independents who admit to “leaning” to one party or the other) are factored in, he concludes “This shows that, as Netanyahu has now demonstrated twice in the past year, elections cannot be won by catering to the party diehards who, on both ends of the political spectrum, when push comes to shove have only two choices : vote for the party candidate whoever it may be or not vote at all. And Gov. Kasich’s observation is a major reason why a year from now neither Bernie Sanders’ nor Elizabeth Warren’s names will be on the ballot papers.”
Maybe, maybe not, but as of Tuesday, Kamala Harris‘ name will not appear – though she might well be an attractive choice for running mate.
Meanwhile, The Economist‘s brilliant pun sums up Michael Bloomberg’s plight: For Bloom the polls toll.

Next week (11 Dec) the Global Terrorism Index will be launched in Ottawa – the first time this will take place in Canada. Highlights:

  • The total number of deaths from terrorism declined for the fourth consecutive year in 2018
  • Despite the fall in total deaths, the number of countries affected by terrorism remains high
  • The global economic impact of terrorism in 2018 amounted to $33 billion

Varia
To Make Sense of Lebanon’s Protests, Follow the Garbage
The country’s perpetual refuse crisis is just one example of the government corruption and dysfunction that have brought protesters into the streets.  More on Global governance 2019 protests
Ultrasound treatment ‘eliminates’ prostate cancer, study finds
We are informed that in the past year or two it is also being used to treat Parkinson’s disease, with great results, notably in advanced cases. There are many clinics now in other countries including here in Spain and finally the USA where it was held up for a few years due to a competing patent claim.
Michigan township wins appeal in Nestle water zoning lawsuit
On Tuesday, Dec. 3, a three-judge panel reversed a lower court decision that had ordered Osceola Township to approve Nestle Waters North America’s attempt to build infrastructure needed to market groundwater drawn from a controversial wellhead near Evart.
The unpublished decision throws a wrench in Nestle’s efforts to increase the Michigan groundwater it sources for bottling under the Ice Mountain brand; a controversial and unpopular move that state environmental regulators approved in April 2018.
Long reads
The House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report

In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO
President Trump said a warning from President Emmanuel Macron of France that Europe could no longer assume American support was “a very dangerous statement.” Mr. Macron said he stood by it. Given the track record of the Trump administration, Macron’s statement would appear only reasonable – see below.
Will Europe Ever Trust America Again?
For the past 70 years, Europeans have known that no matter who occupies the White House, America’s foreign policy and strategic priorities will be consistent. Today, all bets are off.
Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving By David Silverman
Klaus Schwab: What Kind of Capitalism Do We Want?
Though the concept of “stakeholder capitalism” has been around for a half-century, it has only recently begun to gain traction against the prevailing shareholder-primacy model of profit maximization.

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