Wednesday Night #1974

Written by  //  January 15, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

What a week!
Headline writers, pundits, analysts, pontificators  and comedians struggle to keep up. Relegating other global events to minor or virtually ignored, the Iran crisis and  Australia‘s bushfires have dominated the week’s news, closely followed (especially in Canada) by the Harry & Meghan saga.

The fallout from the shooting down of Ukraine Flight 752 continues as Canada’s Transportation Safety Board team arrived in Tehran, along with 10 individuals who are responsible for consular affairs. Moving memorials have been held across the country, but many demand answers to questions and assign ultimate blame to Donald Trump’s reckless actions. The admission of fault by Iranian authorities has done little to assuage the crisis, especially since Iranian authorities have launched a wave of arrests … , prompting concerns that Iran is moving too quickly and cutting off the possibility of a credible international investigation. Student-led protests in Iran have rekindled and are targeting “the entirety of the Islamic republic, which they increasingly believe has dismally failed them.”
And BBC Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus offers Five reasons why the US-Iran crisis is not over
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas offer valuable insight on the future of the Iran nuclear deal

Australia burns.
We are overwhelmed by stories of the plight of wildlife, the heroism of the firefighters, vastness of the destruction Australia fires: A visual guide to the bushfire crisis. Relatively little about the government – this piece from Jacobin The Scott Morrison Honeymoon Is Over fills in the gaps for those who are only sporadic Australia watchers.
“Morrison has been called “Trump-lite,” a comparison that in some ways illuminates, in others obscures. Like Trump, Morrison attacks “globalists” and punishes media outlets that he thinks have wronged him. Unlike Trump, Morrison is a party man through and through: he led the New South Wales Liberal Party administration from 2000–4. Like Trump, Morrison is a roaring success with Evangelical movements across the country. Unlike Trump, this is because he actually is one.

You may have thought that WN had no connection to the Harry & Meaghan story, but former Wednesday Nighter Richard Kurland, Vancouver immigration lawyer, has been considering their case. If the royal couple wish to live in Canada, he says, Meghan would qualify for permanent resident status under the cultural activities component of the Self-Employed Persons Program.
“She would be the principal applicant,” Mr. Kurland said Monday in an interview. “Her spouse would be the accompanying dependent,” along with their son, Archie. Meghan lived in Canada while filming Suits, a television program, so her application would doubtless be viewed favourably.
With Harry as the principal applicant, the path would become more difficult. The Express Entry program gives preference to younger applicants with work experience in Canada. At 35, he is a bit old, and has not worked here. Neither can he provide a degree or diploma from an accredited Canadian university or college. The immigration law firm of Green and Spiegel calculates that, under Canada’s points system, Prince Harry’s score “is not competitive for an invitation to apply at this time.” Harry and Meghan will need a good immigration lawyer if they want to stay in Canada
Andrew Cohen’s contribution to the debate is somewhat provocative: Canada should welcome Harry and Meghan but ditch the monarchy
Why a ‘curious interest’ and questions of money loom over Harry and Meghan coming to Canada
And on a less serious, more positive note, Bill Brownstein says Harry and Meghan living in Montreal? A jolly good idea!

We have often remarked that major events seem to be occur or develop on Wednesdays and this week is no exception.
More stories that may soon overtake, or equal, current preoccupations.

As the U.S. and China are signing the first phase of the trade agreement today, 15 January, Xi Jinping’s satisfaction that he’s managed to stop the bleeding of a damaging trade war, allowing him to concentrate on China’s slowing economy and ongoing protests in Hong Kong, is surely tainted by the results of the Taiwan elections, which, according to Fortune, Could Reshape Asia’s Economic Landscape.

Russian PM and government quit as Putin proposes constitutional changes
President, due to step down in 2024, suggests two-term limit for successors
Putin is laying the groundwork as he prepares for a transition in 2024 that analysts say will likely see him abandon the presidency but retain power through a beefed-up role as Russia’s prime minister or in the government’s State Council instead. In a televised speech before senior officials, Putin suggested amending Russia’s constitution to limit a future president to two terms in office – he has served four – tightening residency requirements for presidential candidates, and letting parliament choose candidates for prime minister and the cabinet, in effect weakening the presidency.

The Impeachment story never goes away and is about to intensify. On Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi Named 7 Impeachment Managers in the Trump Trial and following an engrossment ceremony [read the story to find out what that is] at 5 p.m., the managers will immediately walk across the Capitol to deliver the charges.

As U.S. Democrats lurch toward the Feb.3 Iowa caucuses and on through New Hampshire (11 February) to Super Tuesday, (3 March), Frank Rich asks and answers What’s Wrong With the Democratic Primary? Everything.

Puerto Rico earthquakes are just the latest in a string of shocks for the island which has not recovered from the devastating impact of 2017 Hurricane Maria. A 6.4 earthquake last Tuesday – the worst tremor to hit Puerto Rico in a century – followed by large-scale aftershocks, including one of 6.0 magnitude on Saturday morning. And there is more to come Earthquake forecast for Puerto Rico: Dozens more large aftershocks are likely
The good news is Puerto Rico will finally be able to access more than $8 billion in blocked disaster aid funding, ending a months-long [illegal] hold by the Trump administration.

12 January marked the tenth anniversary of the the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti. The country continues to face what appear to be insurmountable challenges Haiti Faces Difficult Questions Ten Years After a Devastating Earthquake while the world largely looks away.

Climate crisis fills top five places of World Economic Forum’s risks report
The World Economic Forum’s annual risks report found that, for the first time in its 15-year history, the environment filled the top five places in the list of concerns likely to have a major impact over the next decade.

The media has not covered itself in glory recently.
Here Are 20 Headlines Comparing Meghan Markle To Kate Middleton That May Show Why She And Prince Harry Are Cutting Off Royal Reporters – Over the years, Meghan has been shamed for the same things for which her sister-in-law, Kate, has been praised.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp criticized for misleading bushfire coverage amplified by trolls and bots – The bushfires devastating Australia are burning amid waves of disinformation spread over social media and criticism for some of the country’s top news outlets over their coverage of the crisis.

This is going to be interesting – so many of the problems have been caused by the City administration. We could certainly contribute a few ideas, starting with the current Mayor’s passion for eliminating cars, parking and navigable streets in favour of pursuing her Green vision.
‘Vacant buildings are a scourge that must be attacked,’ Montreal hearings told
With one in seven ground-level retail stores and restaurants sitting empty, the city is holding consultations to find ways to stop the bleeding. Faced with a vacancy rate of 15 per cent in its street-level storefronts for the last four years, Montreal’s standing committee on economic and urban development is overseeing public consultations to generate solutions. The committee has received more than 3,000 recommendations and testimonials online, and will preside over the presentation of 30 briefs over five sessions, starting this week.

Must read
Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives
For those of you who are concerned about aging parents/relatives/selves, I recommend the PBS interview with McGill neuroscientist Dan Levitin. author of Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives . There is also good interview with him on The Current [you will have to go to the last item of the program] – he is both engaging and encouraging, and his advice is practical.
“One of the things that emerged in my research is that as we age into our 70s and 80s we’re a lot better at some things than younger people and one of them is his pattern matching. If you go to see a radiologist you want a 75 year-old radiologist not a 35 year-old radiologist because they’ve seen patterns. They’re much better at detecting cancers.”

On an uplifting note: 20 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Adult Should Know
“It’s interesting how some of life’s greatest lessons can be found in children’s literature. And chances are that we did not realize this back when we were kids. Sometimes it’s only when we’re older that we learn to fully appreciate and understand the poignant words from our childhood entertainment.”

Notable deaths
Four very different, arguably equally important, public figures have died.
John Crosbie, one of the most colourful Canadian politicians in my lifetime. Today’s political figures are awfully bland in comparison.
Senator Leo Kolber, pillar of business and politics and one of Montreal’s most active philanthropists
Neil Peart, influential musician and lyricist, who also He penned a number of memoirs exploring his life and travels, Rush Drummer Who Set a New Standard for Rock Virtuosity
Florence Richler, a woman of ‘incomparable, luminous grace,’ – “She was a brilliant reader of all literature and, beyond that, his extraordinarily good first editor, who was deeply attuned to his work. Mordecai rightly paid more attention to Florence’s responses than to those of anyone else.”

How to infuriate the occupant of the White House:
Donald Trump may be obsessed with the Nobel Peace Prize (Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed) but we believe this story will change his focus.
Barack Obama lands first Oscar nomination
America’s 44th president landed his first-ever Oscar nomination for American Factory, an original documentary distributed by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions in partnership with Netflix.
The documentary has been widely praised, with a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 86 out of 100. On Monday morning, the Academy added to the film’s legacy by naming it one of five finalists for Best Documentary Feature.

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