Wednesday Night #1977

Written by  //  February 5, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1977

We are delighted that Kent Hovey-Smith will introduce a new guest -and topic- this Wednesday. Caitlin Bailey is the Executive Director and Curator of the Canadian Centre for the Great War/Centre canadien pour la Grande Guerre and Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation. Caitlin is committed to ensuring the longevity of the memory of the Great War in Canadian life, and to finding new and interesting ways to tell its story. She works to highlight the role of Canada’s history in public life and its contribution to maintaining a civil society. A graduate of the University of Calgary and McGill, Caitlin holds degrees in Russian Literature and Library and Information Sciences.

The Impeachment circus is coming to its foregone conclusion and as would be expected, on the eve of the final Senate vote, Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address promoting a ‘Great American Comeback,’ was highly self congratulatory, frequently exaggerated and/or misleading – or, as Nancy Pelosi described it “a manifesto of mistruths.” (AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s claims in his State of Union address) Not that his loyal fans would care. Full Analysis of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Speech

We are stunned, not to mention disillusioned, disappointed and disgusted, by the Democrats’ Iowa débacle. With eyes of the world on Iowa, another hiccup in American democracy neatly sums up the disastrous events. “After years of preparation designed to prevent the chaos and confusion that marred the caucuses in 2016, and after careful planning aimed at preventing the spread of conspiracy theories by hostile foreign actors, Democrats began their high-stakes nominating contest this week under a cloud of uncertainty and dysfunction. Hours after caucus-goers had returned home, the contest remained in a state of suspended confusion — with precincts unable to communicate results, state party officials huddling with aides to the top candidates and, above all, a blemish on the process held out by Iowa as a model of civic engagement.”
One can hardly blame Trump and the gleeful Republicans for seizing the moment to decry Democrats’ ability to manage and/or count.
How did this happen? App Used to Tabulate Votes Is Said to Have Been Inadequately Tested – so back to the old reliable paper trail which fortunately exists. And on to New Hampshire.
Our only (and admittedly) faint hope: that the Democrats are miraculously galvanized by the event, become a cohesive, efficient, party and lead Trump to misunderestimate his opposition.

Coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate. Wednesday morning’s reported death toll is nearing 500, with confirmed cases of more than 24,500. The U.S. leads the world in applying drastic travel bans. Misinformation abounds accompanied by rising racism and xenophobia (Coronavirus fears trigger anti-China sentiment across the globe)
Without discounting the terrible social costs of the pandemic, there is also increasing concern for the effects on the world economy.

Brexit & the EUBrexit may have formally ended on 31 January, but now, as the NYT puts it:  “the two sides are squaring off in the “chest beating” phase of negotiations.” Jeremy Kinsman wades in on Tuesday’s Diplomatic Community (starts at 7:20)

Israel (Peace Plan that isn’t) As Jared Kushner prepares to present his plan to the UN Security Council Mother Jones nails the situation in Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan Is Now Hated by Everyone, Foreign Policy points out that The Big Missing Piece of the Kushner Plan is Water and Gwynne Dyer maintains that the Trump-Netanyahu ‘peace deal’ will never actually happen.

After that, everyone deserves a lighter note:
We are not fans or followers  of professional sports (exceptions made for skating and tennis), but are enchanted by the story of  McGill graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, medical doctor, Knight (of Quebec). And now,  a Super Bowl champion!
Team Fluff barks its way to victory
Although no equivalent super star emerged, Puppy Bowl 2020 offered great alternative viewing and much cuter players.

Early heads-up for 15 April: Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights Forum
Hosted by Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies in collaboration with Element AI and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. This year’s Forum will bring together NGOs, tech companies, foundations and governments around the globe that understand the need to collaborate on the future of AI and human rights. Panel discussions will cover such topics as disinformation, online hate, ethics, AI governance, the United Nations and global cooperation. The forum will serve as an incubator for forming new partnerships between academics, civil society, the United Nations and the private sector.

Long reads
The ‘SDG Effect’: The emerging Pittsburgh platform to deliver the global goals locally
Sparked by the priorities laid out in a new city strategy, a best practice is emerging, a living lab on the SDGs, with different constituencies and stakeholders mobilizing to take on this ambitious, aspirational agenda. Across sectors, people are finding value in this framework to tackle tough issues that have long plagued postindustrial cities like Pittsburgh.
How the Far Right Became Europe’s New Normal
It was a scandal when a far-right party entered government two decades ago. Now it’s just routine. What happened?
Post-Brexit prospects for Europe
How will Britain’s departure from the EU affect foreign investment?
(American Economic Association) Most studies trying to predict the consequences have focused on trade.
But they are missing the essential role that multinational companies play in global markets, according to economist Ellen McGrattan. To help remedy that oversight, her paper in the January issue of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics looks at how much damage Brexit could do to foreign investment flows in Europe, in addition to trade.
McGrattan and her co-author Andrea Waddle found that post-Brexit restrictions on investments from foreign companies—so-called foreign direct investment (FDI)—would be even worse for consumers than barriers to trade.
Are the Democrats Completely Screwing This Up?
The first caucus is Monday, but the 2020 campaign already feels like it’s gone on forever. Is this primary going to help — or hurt — the eventual nominee’s ability to defeat Trump?
Laurie Garrett on How Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

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