Wednesday Night #1979

Written by  //  February 19, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

I cannot remember a time when I felt so bereft of convictions on events and topics of import.
Usually, I have quite strong opinions, although new information or insight garnered from reading or a civil discussion may color, or even change my views. But today, I find myself torn on two matters.
The first is the current Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute that has erupted from B.C. placing the  Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters across the country in opposition to many of their people,  and has evolved into a national crisis with blockades of the railroads seriously affecting the Canadian economy.  When I posted Jonathan Kay’s piece Railroading of elected bands betrays progressive hypocrisy, I was surprised by the amount of debate that followed (and very happy to note its civility) from analyses of Supreme Court decisions to evocations of UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). However, solutions remain elusive. The Prime Minister asks for patience, but so far has not put forward any plan to resolve the crisis. Yes, the problem stems from a failure of the government to address during its first mandate lingering land and treaty disputes, but one cannot help but think that the handwringing and apologizing of the past years has simply encouraged Indigenous activists to become increasingly aggressive in their demands. Andrew Scheer has not helped, but neither was it helpful to exclude him from the PM’s meeting with opposition leaders. Please see more on Canada and Indigenous peoples 2020

Who Can Beat Trump?
While there is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is a pernicious presence in the White House, whose actions have not been tempered in the slightest by the Impeachment hearings -rather he has been emboldened by the acquittal (Trump launches vindictive impeachment victory lap)-, I am filled with ambivalence over the current Democrats in the race for the nomination. Being human, each has flaws, and as they position themselves for the primaries, they and their supporters (I do prefer the French militants) call out oneanother’s past sins, giving welcome fodder to the Trump campaign and so create doubt as to electibility. And electibility trumps all other considerations in this campaign more than any other in recent memory. The idea of another four years of Trump is truly frightening (11 Months From Today A second term for Trump seems more possible than ever. But what would it look like?). So is Bernie Sanders a Social Democrat or a socialist? Is it okay for Michael Bloomberg to literally buy the nomination – and what about his past sins He’s defended stop-and-frisk and made offensive remarks about minorities. What else has the 2020 contender said? Is time running out on Buttigieg and Klobuchar? Has their ability — or inability — to connect with voters of color has become an existential threat? Should we write off Elizabeth Warren and what about Joe Biden?
Will any questions or doubts be resolved by Wednesday’s debate in Nevada when Bloomberg makes his debut alongside Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren?

Meanwhile, the latest figures bring the total number of cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China to over 74,000 with about 2,000 deaths. Outside China, there have been 827 cases of the disease and five deaths. More than half of those cases have been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan. It is almost impossible to understand the logic of the Japanese authorities in quarantining the ship, creating a huge petri dish for the virus, rather than bringing the passengers and crew ashore. Finally, the passengers will disembark;those who are infected will be sent to Japanese health centers, while those who are clear will be allowed to leave. In the case of the Canadians, they will now undergo an additional 2-week quarantine in Canada. This should certainly dampen the enthusiasm of travellers for cruises. It is going to be interesting to watch the maneuvering of China’s authorities to avoid blame for what could have been an avoidable disaster. The pneumonia death last week of China’s real epidemic hero, the ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, has revealed the ugliest side of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its terrible effort to rewrite the history of a seemingly out-of-control epidemic.
One more consideration: Will the Coronavirus Cause a Recession? The world’s second-largest economy is coming to a near standstill.

If you are still not depressed, try reading The White Swans of 2020, Nouriel Roubini’s analysis of the impending “predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.”

Bombardier has taken up much of the business news this past week with Thursday’s announcement of the sale of its remaining stake in the A220 jetliner program, followed by Monday’s news that it had agreed to sell its majority stake in its train unit to France’s Alstom SA in a proposed transaction that values the business at about US$8.2 billion. Bombardier declares its turnaround over, a shadow of its former self – The industry giant, which once made everything from snowmobiles to commercial aircraft, has just one business left

So, on to some good reads which will (mostly) distract you.

From February 16 This Day in History, a wonderful plot for a thriller U.S. Navy stages daring mission during First Barbary War
“After disguising himself and his men as Maltese sailors, Decatur’s force of 74 men, which included nine U.S. Marines, sailed into Tripoli harbor on a small two-mast ship. The Americans approached the USS Philadelphia without drawing fire from the Tripoli shore guns, boarded the ship, and attacked its Tripolitan crew, capturing or killing all but two. After setting fire to the frigate, Decatur and his men escaped without the loss of a single American. The Philadelphia subsequently exploded when its gunpowder reserve was lit by the spreading fire.”

Young Africa Works: A strategy to create 30 million jobs for youth over the next decade  – a Viewpoint from Chapter 3 of the Foresight Africa 2020 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on leveraging demographic trends for economic transformation.

The History of the Color Blue: From Ancient Egypt to the Latest Scientific Discoveries
The color blue is associated with two of Earth’s greatest natural features: the sky and the ocean. But that wasn’t always the case. Some scientists believe that the earliest humans were actually colorblind and could only recognize black, white, red, and only later yellow and green. As a result, early humans with no concept of the color blue simply had no words to describe it. This is even reflected in ancient literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey, that describes the ocean as a “wine-red sea.”

Fifty years after Canada’s last foreign-policy review, our identity is more precarious than ever
By David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012.
It would have been inconceivable to the authors of the 1970 review that a future prime minister could muse, as Justin Trudeau did in 2015, that Canada has ‘no core identity’ – an assertion that is as confusing to other countries as it is to Canadians.
Foreign Policy for Canadians was released in a series of booklets that managed to be both reader-friendly and respectful of the intelligence of Canadians.
It’s time for another honest and comprehensive rethink of our place in the world – one premised on the fact that foreign policy for Canadians needs to be worked out with Canadians.

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