Wednesday Night #1969

Written by  //  December 11, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Yes, these are shortest – darkest – days of the year, but does the news have to match the darkness?
From politics, to natural disasters, to mass shootings and, despite the onset of the holiday season, the world seems grumpy, or is that because we are seeing it through the eyes and ears of a cynical, partisan or dishonest media?

On the other hand, as our economists like to say, there are a few bright spots.
Sanna Marin of Finland is the world’s youngest Prime Minister, a title she has taken away from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She is only 34 and leads a coalition of five parties headed by women, all but one of whom is under 35. As most of the old, white/brown and … men have not done so well by the world lately, let’s see what the Millennial women can do. Nonetheless, 94-year-old Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad has offered counsel.
Our favorite Finnish correspondent comments “She is quite left, green and anti-NATO, anti-Army(?), pro almost everything and anything which was an anomaly when I was young. … I agree with her on social issues, environment, education, etc, but disagree on defence, uncontrolled immigration and increased taxes. Based on what I know now I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and wish her and above all Finland well.”

In contrast, much of the world is shaking its collective head over the presence of (Nobel laureate!) Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, participating in the Army’s defense. It seems that this has only cemented her popularity at home, where her party, the National League for Democracy, faces elections next year.

Natural disasters in Australia, where Sydney disappeared behind a thick layer of bushfire smoke that blanketed the city and pushed air quality 11 times higher than considered “hazardous” on Tuesday, while Australia’s weary firefighters faced what authorities warned were the potentially “lethal” combination of high temperatures and heavy winds.
In New Zealand, where the eruption of a volcano has killed tourists (Why Were Tourists Allowed to Visit an Active New Zealand Volcano?) and created new problems for the government of Jacinda Ardern (Disasters, downturn challenge New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern going into election year).

No matter how you feel about Greta Thunberg and/or the Climate Crisis, in our opinion TIME has made the right choice in selecting her as Person of the Year. Yes, she can be prickly, irritating and totally disrespectful of authority, but her influence across the globe among not only her peers, but millions of adults, has been an extraordinary demonstration of successful single minded dedication. And what an inspiration for young people that they can indeed influence global issues.

As the UNFCCC COP25 pursues its work in Madrid, Ursula von der Leyen (ANOTHER influential woman, albeit not so young), the new European commission president has announced a European Green Deal that will change the economy to solve the climate crisis
Everything from travel to air quality has been looked at in order to create ‘a growth that gives back’
Nearly every major aspect of the European economy is to be re-evaluated in light of the imperatives of the climate and ecological emergency, according to sweeping new plans set out by the European commission on Wednesday.
The comprehensive nature of the European Green Deal – which encompasses the air we breathe to how food is grown, from how we travel to the buildings we inhabit – was set out in a flurry of documents as von der Leyen made her appeal to member states and parliamentarians in Brussels to back the proposals, which would represent the biggest overhaul of policy since the foundation of the modern EU.
In examining air travel, do you think the EU has taken note of Canada’s contribution to green air: All systems go: 1st all-electric seaplane takes flight in B.C. – it was a very short flight, but then the Wright brothers’ was too.

As the British election looms, The Straits Times carries a good summary headlined Leaders scramble for final votes as Britain’s ugly election ends. A recent Reuters headline reads UK’s Johnson now less certain of election victory: YouGov “Based on the model, we cannot rule out a hung parliament,” Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political research, told The Times newspaper. The Guardian has an interesting Opinion piece by Zoe Williams: The Tories have underestimated young voters’ anger. That could be costly. We will all just have to wait and see.

The new NAFTA has been signed (again(!), as has been pointed out) and the three governments appear eager to ratify it. At a Press conference on Tuesday, Chrystia Freeland assured Canadian Freeland that the amended deal was good for the whole country and singled out Quebec’s aluminum industry as one that will benefit as the revised deal requires that 70 per cent of the aluminum in all North American cars come from NAFTA countries, with Quebec being the primary producer of the metal within the three countries. Will that make the perennially grumpy Quebec politicians a bit happier? According to Wednesday afternoon reports – NOT.
BUT
‘Law of the jungle’: World Trade Organization appeals court shut down by U.S. so “Among the disputes left in limbo are seven cases that have been brought against Trump’s decision last year to declare foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security and to hit them with import taxes.”

More in the compare and contrast category
:Bhutan just made teachers, medical staff the highest paid civil servants. vs.
U.K. Health Service Poses a Late Election Issue for Boris Johnson – There is a dawning realization among voters that the prime minister’s vow to complete Brexit could undermine the N.H.S.
Or if you prefer something closer to home:
Time to get serious about teacher negotiations
Cuts to operating budgets have caused [Ontario] school boards to lay off thousands of teachers, which have caused larger class sizes and also forced those boards to reduce course options for students with post-secondary education aspirations. Well done, Mr. Ford.

The Impeachment circus continues, even as Nancy Pelosi handed Trump a win on the new NAFTA file. The House Judiciary Committee is meeting publicly Wednesday evening to begin debating the charges. The panel could then vote by Thursday to recommend them to the full House of Representatives for final approval, setting up a final vote before Christmas. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, told reporters that an impeachment trial would most likely be taken up in early January, and that he would be “totally surprised” if there were enough votes to convict Mr. Trump and remove him from office.
The impeachment articles that House Democrats drafted mirror the ones the Judiciary Committee approved in 1974 when it charged President Richard Nixon with abuse of power and contempt of Congress. The New York Times offers helpful  key excerpts, followed by a brief description of what they mean.
And meanwhile, when we were not watching, U.S. lawmakers reach deal on massive defense bill, eye Russia, Turkey, China – U.S. lawmakers announced an agreement on Monday on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, including new measures for competing with Russia and China, family leave for federal workers and the creation of President Donald Trump’s long-desired Space Force.

Congratulations to Ron Meisels who informs us that Phases & Cycles was quoted in Barron’s for a third time in a few months:
“The S&P 500 spent the last few weeks consolidating its position above previous resistance levels.  Other major market indices have also achieved new all-time highs.  These developments reaffirm the longer-term bullish position of the New York market.  But the S&P 500 was stretched in the short-term and in need of a pause.  We continue to expect a small 2.5-4.5% pullback, which should happen in December.”

As so much of the news is serious if not downright grim, we thought you might enjoy a reprieve with Nuns Hallelujah Chorus Fail and these spot-on Guidelines For Female Protagonists In Hallmark Christmas Movies

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