Wednesday Night #1981

Written by  //  March 4, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1981

On 4 March 1933, FDR was inaugurated and in his inaugural address, he outlined his New Deal

“To have our convictions knocked sideways by stronger arguments, fresh experiences, contrary evidence, maturing judgment, or simply the honesty of a second-guessing mind, is how we become educated. The alternative is intellectual stagnation, puerility, and arrogance. It takes a fanatic, or a fool, to believe that the person who’s most right is the one who almost never admits to being wrong.” –  from an otherwise self righteous column by Bret Stephens of the NYT

March 2nd was Dr. Seuss Day
Among the 60 facts about the world of Dr. Seuss, he is credited with inventing the word ‘nerd’.
We believe that the timing of the 3rd Israeli election in a year was indeed simply coincidence, however, regret that Dr. Seuss is no longer around to comment on the outcome. What might he have said about Netanyahu’s return to office, despite Likud’s  failure to secure the 61-seat majority to form a government? Shmuel Rosner offers good insight: The Indefatigable, Unbeatable Benjamin Netanyahu

3 March, is UN World Wildlife Day and was celebrated this year under the theme “Sustaining all life on Earth”, encompassing all wild animal and plant species as key components of the world’s biodiversity.
In that spirit, It’s words, not bullets, for the ‘bear whisperer’ of the Eastern Sierra
Steve Searles has carved out a niche and a career as Mammoth Lakes’ “bear whisperer,” a protector of the wild things that roam the night: the ubiquitous bears, deer, coyotes and all manner of high-country cat. He protects the residents and the 2.5 million annual visitors too, though they have the numerical advantage. They also have guns and cars … warm beds and cozy, muffin-scented kitchens. The wildlife sense this. They want decent food and cozy cabins too. Sometimes, they help themselves.

Given the Trump administration’s war on the environment (and Don Jr’s love of killing wild animals), one could argue the appropriateness of the coincidence of World Wildlife Day and the Democrats’  Super Tuesday primary race.

On Saturday,  South Carolina  delivered for Joe Biden. He carried nearly half the vote and every county in the state.
On Sunday,  Mayor Pete dropped out of the Democratic race. On Monday, Amy Klobuchar ended her campaign.  Both then endorsed Joe Biden. On Tuesday, the Biden campaign made an astonishing (to most observers) comeback, winning nine states, including Texas. Bernie Sanders won the largest prize of the night: California.
And on Wednesday morning, Michael Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed Joe Biden

A few reminders for those inclined to count chickens…:
Despite all the talk about Biden/Sanders “winning” states, it is not a winner-take-all scenario.
Delegate counts usually track closely with the popular vote, but they don’t precisely match. If candidates receive at least 15 percent of the popular vote in a given state, they are awarded delegates proportional to the votes. But if they miss that mark, they get nothing.
Voting was scheduled to start in Bangkok, Thailand, which is part of the worldwide Democrats Abroad primary, at 11 a.m. local time, still Monday evening in the United States.
More than 3 million Democrats in the 14 Super Tuesday states voted early, either in person or by absentee.
And the results won’t be too clear until Wednesday at the earliest. California traditionally does not count a huge portion of its vote by the end of election night. Add to that the fact that 65% of the 1,344 votes at stake Tuesday are from congressional districts, not statewide. Because some states don’t separate vote totals quickly by congressional districts, the overall delegate totals may take a few days to be final.
And the Democrats Abroad primary that started Tuesday goes on for a week and won’t be reported until March 23.

Kudos to Minister Mark Miller for his work to defuse the barricade crisis, and to the federal and provincial ministers who met with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs for three days of talks and emerged with some sort of agreement which will only be made public after the members have had their say. From what we do know, this is only the end of the beginning and much remains to be resolved including the divisions within the leadership and members of the Wet’suwet’en nation.  Wet’suwet’en chief says he’ll withdraw support for pipeline if his people turn against it Chief Dan George says he wants all Wet’suwet’en members to vote on the Coastal GasLink pipeline
Figuring out how to get all the Wet’suwet’en members together to sort out of the pipeline dispute won’t be easy, George said, adding he still wants everyone to have a say. “Hopefully, we can come to some sort of mutual decision together,” George said. “How are we going to get everyone involved since half of our people live off of reserve and half of our people live on-reserve?”
With the focus on the pipeline dispute, the barricades and interrupted rail service, the good news of the $4.7B ‘Grande Alliance’ agreement in northern Quebec is called Cree vision of development went virtually unnoticed.

The PM has wisely decided that he should stay home during the attempts to resolve the crisis and in a move we applaud, has named Joe Clark special envoy for Canada’s bid for UN Security Council seat. Not everyone believes that Canada should be aiming for the seat – at least one former Canadian diplomat with UN experience suggests that “Canada should wait until almost the last minute before the election to the council in June to do a deal with the Irish. That is, pull out on the understanding that Ireland will back Canada for the next term. That would spare the cost and anguish of an intensive campaign this year. Waiting to the last minute would be so that no other country in the electoral group (WEOG) jumps in with its own bid this time.”

Afghanistan‘s very brief flirtation with peace talks ended on Monday when the Taliban announced they would resume attacks against government forces if 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by the government were not released. Afghanistan’s president said on Sunday that would not happen ahead of the all-Afghan peace talks. Taliban Ramp Up Attacks on Afghans After Trump Says ‘No Violence’ 
Deadly assaults against Afghan forces have increased since the U.S. and Taliban signed a deal to end their war. Afghans worry about the ambiguity of the Taliban’s promises. As usual, it’s hard to know what to make of Donald Trump’s announcement that he had a very good conversation with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Our good friend C. Uday Bhaskar is skeptical of the fragile peace deal in his analysis of its possible effects  on India (US-Taliban peace deal: Implications for India) noting that “The quid pro with the Taliban is that the group will not attack the US and its “allies” and this is a formulation that does not apply to India. Hence the possibility that those elements adversarial to Indian interests could be encouraged to resort to terror-related activities against India remains high and here the traditional Pakistan-Taliban nexus is cause for concern.” He concludes “the long term impact may not be as positive and conducive to equitable peace as is being envisioned. The light at the end of the Afghan tunnel alas, remains dim.”

Turkey, Russia, Syria and EU
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are meeting on Thursday in an attempt to solve the current crisis over Idlib. The Globe & Mail’s Mark Mackinnon is not optimistic Can Putin and Erdogan end the fighting in Idlib? Only if one of them backs down. Meanwhile, facing a potential wave of nearly a million people fleeing fighting in northern Syria, Turkey has thrown open its borders with Greece to thousands of refugees and other migrants trying to enter Europe, and has threatened to send “millions” more. Greece has responded by closing the land border, rushing in military and police reinforcements, and tried to stop migrant boats attempting the short but perilous crossing from the Turkish coast to its eastern islands.last week. Turkish President Erdogan’s action triggered days of violent clashes at the land border, where thousands of migrants and refugees have gathered.

The other dominant topic is coronavirus (COVID 19) with almost hourly updates and often panicky, unhelpful, social media posts. Reuters reports on Wednesday There are now over 93,000 cases globally according to a Reuters tally, with 13% or almost 12,700 cases in countries outside China. Countries and regions outside the Chinese mainland have reported a total of 223 deaths, including 43 in the past day with new fatalities in Italy, Iran, France, Spain and the United States. With China, there are a total of 3,204 fatalities.
In the U.S., there is continuing dismay as Trump Still Takes a Leading Role on Coronavirus. Appearing before cameras sometimes multiple times a day to talk about the outbreak, the president has offered rosy assessments and unproven or even false assertions. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the renowned director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been allowed some airtime, but he, like everyone else is incapable of getting the president to absorb facts, especially with reference to the timeline for vaccine development.
Some expert no-nonsense advice on Coronavirus from eminent pathologist Dr James Robb. Highly recommended! See also Dr. Peter Lin Get the facts on coronavirus (video)
Wish we could offer equally easy-to-understand-and-follow advice on the market and global economy!
For today, at least, Biden trumps coronavirus – Wall Street surges after Biden’s surprise Super Tuesday lead
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says coronavirus wipes out hopes for faster growth in 2020
The Bank of Canada cuts rates on Wednesday as coronavirus delivers ‘negative shock’
The move comes one day after G7 finance ministers and central bankers pledged coordinated action in response to the virus. Shortly after Tuesday’s G7 statement, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut its key rate by 50 basis points, to a range of 1 per cent to 1.25 per cent. See Statement of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

For your Calendar
13 March 1-5pm
McGill Faculty Club
Welcome to Canada? Welcome to Québec? A symposium on contemporary immigration politics

Must see in New York
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Original Watercolors for “The Little Prince”
In 1968, The Morgan Library in New York — home to such treasures as the life of Rumi in rare Islamic paintings and the illustrated to-do lists of famous artists — acquired the original manuscripts. Now, a new Morgan exhibition explores Saint-Exupéry’s creative process through the writings that he excluded from the final version — the Morgan manuscript contains 30,000 words, nearly double those in the published book — and his little-known original watercolors, among other biographical ephemera.

Long Reads
Israel, ‘Start-up Nation,’ Groans Under Strains of Growth and Neglect
The election on Monday might break a year-long political deadlock. But huge challenges in health, education and transit are decades in the making.
The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy
 A new generation of autocrats has perfected the art of looking democratic while pursuing authoritarian goals. Whether they succeed usually comes down to whether ordinary citizens take the threat seriously enough to do something about it.
Solidarity Now
Joseph E. Stiglitz writes “After decades of shaping global and national economic policies according to the dictates of neoliberal ideology, public sectors are starved, climate change is accelerating, inequality is on the rise, and democracies are confronting near-unprecedented crises. The only way forward is to leave behind the defunct economic nostrums of the past.”
One of the Largest Disinformation Campaigns Ever Conducted
(PBS) When McKay Coppins, a journalist for The Atlantic, created a Facebook page so he could follow pro-Trump social media accounts and communicate with online Trump supporters, he uncovered something remarkable: a campaign-coordinated effort to undermine journalists and the mainstream press on a mass scale.
The First Man to Reach the North Pole was an African American Desk Clerk the World Forgot
In 1908, the unsung African American explorer was the first of a six-man team to reach the North Pole. He studied and spoke Inuktitut better than any other Westerner on the expedition, leading to successful trade and navigation relations with the local Inuit. He built Igloos, trained the dog sled crews, studied indigenous survival techniques, and mastered a lot of the painstaking, behind-the-scenes work that came with being the personal valet of a wealthy white explorer.

Finally, for your amusement, the latest Randy Rainbow ANY DEM WILL DO!

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