Wednesday Night #1999

Written by  //  July 8, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1999

Bob Rae named Canadian ambassador to the United Nations
Aside from inevitable sniping from Facebook sidelines, the announcement of Bob Rae’s appointment as ambassador to the UN has generally been greeted with approval. However much we admire Mr. Rae, we are saddened by the exclusion of  career diplomats from the post which in the past has been filled by such luminaries as Lester B. Pearson, Charles Ritchie, George Ignatieff  and Louise Frechette; the timing of the announcement that “The ambassadorial shakeup comes less than a month after Canada failed to secure a temporary seat on the Security Council, losing to Norway and Ireland on the first ballot” is unfortunate. The more so when Marc-André. Blanchard said he is stepping away after four and half years as the head of Canada’s permanent mission in New York “to spend more time with his family.” Even if true, it is the perennial -and therefore suspect- cover for a dismissal.
The Globe & Mail explains that “Blanchard, who took over as ambassador in April 2016, had notified Trudeau of his intention to leave the position earlier this year, according to the Prime Minister’s Office”, but we still believe the timing of the announcement could have been better.
We highly recommend The Real Lessons of the Security Council Election Campaign by Daniel Livermore

In unrelated news, Justin Trudeau has declined to join a meeting in Washington to celebrate the implementation of the new NAFTA agreement. Generally, his decision has been met with approval given the current prohibition on travel for all but essential purposes, not to mention that Canadian public health rules would mean he would have to quarantine for two weeks upon his return. Roland Paris summed it up: “It’s not clear that a photo op counts as essential.”

One reason for the PM’s  decision to stay in Ottawa was the Wednesday afternoon delivery by Finance Minister Bill Morneau of the ‘economic and fiscal snapshot’. As iPolitics helpfully reminded readers, it isn’t:,”a full-fledged budget presentation of the sort that he was originally scheduled to unveil last March before the pandemic-imposed shutdown brought a swift end to regular parliamentary proceedings. CBC’s Aaron Wherry outlined the challenges the government faces in Walking a ‘tightrope’: Bill Morneau and the path out of the pandemic economyTurning out the lights on much of Canada’s economy was easy compared to what comes next.
Sure enough, the Finance Minister announced that Ottawa would post a $343B deficit as spending hits levels not seen since Second World Warover to our trusted economists for helpful commentary.

We have just learned of  the Montreal United Nations Conference hosted by Dawson College Model United Nations from November 20-22, 2020 and look forward to hearing more from Chris Bourne. How has this excellent initiative escaped our attention?

Hong Kong
China’s imposition of  the Hong Kong national security law has generated much concern in the West, although it seems that some of the expats are more sanguine about its implications. Britain promptly offered up to three million Hong Kong residents the opportunity to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship. In another development,social media giants refusing to cooperate with Hong Kong police may have to make exit plans, analysts say as the new law mandates police censorship and covert digital surveillance, rules that can be applied to online speech across the world.
China has not taken kindly to last Friday’s announcement that Canada was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the national security law and Canada’s foreign minister called the legislation “a significant step back” for liberty.
Jeremy Kinsman comments on the situation in Hong Kong and China’s  “wolf warrior” diplomacy

Cleo‘s latest arrived with the following note: “my latest article. Apparently it’s one of the reasons The Sunday Guardian just got blocked by China.”
Watch China’s actions, don’t listen to its words
Beijing’s parasitic model weakens the global economy, its traditional hosts are becoming poorer. Which is likely one of the reasons why Beijing is now so focused on leeching off of Africa, South America, and others. It’s also why being blocked from a market such as India could be a serious problem.
The Chinese Communist Party is not interested in, and not capable of, being an equal partner, where everyone grows together. Beijing wants to be able to control the economies of others, siphoning growth to sustain its own goals.

The less said about Trump’s celebrations of the Fourth of July (At Mt. Rushmore and the White House, Trump Updates ‘American Carnage’ Message for 2020), the better. It is obvious that the campaign will be beyond vicious. Furthermore, in a sign that Trump has given up on defeating or even mitigating Covid-19, the administration is now “crafting messages” meant to “convince Americans that they can live with the virus,” How will that go over with the voters as the cases continue to spike?
For a truly terrifying (but not unrealistic) November outcome, reflect on Max Boot’s account of his recent participation in a ‘war game’: What if Trump loses but insists he won?
Before you despair, consider the recent decisions of the Supreme Court which have, in some cases, been somewhat surprising. The one we are all waiting for –the SCOTUS ruling on Trump’s tax returns, financial records – comes on Thursday. “The court’s decisions will carry major implications for the limits of presidential power and accountability, and could affect the fall election.” Any bets?

You probably missed the fact that Singapore is holding elections. It is a mercifully brief process; parliament was dissolved on 23 June and the elections are on 10 July. Although there are ten opposition parties contesting the election, the governing PAP is expected to win handily,

We are very happy to learn that Joumane is expected to return to Montreal from Beirut by the end of the month. The situation in Lebanon is increasingly difficult (Lebanon’s Economic Crisis Is Spinning Out of Control, Fast). One indicator is the government’s ineffectual attempt to fix the broken power sector, a daunting task given that the country “has been without reliable, round-the-clock power since its civil war that ended in 1990 after successive governments failed to build enough power plants to meet demand. The country is crippled by daily hours-long power cuts – a gap plugged by expensive private generator subscriptions.”

For those of you who are not aware, my favorite form of escapism has for years been spaghetti westerns, largely because of the music composed by Ennio Morricone. Thus, I am in deep mourning for the Maestro and will no doubt be binge watching/listening in the days ahead.

Ennio Morricone, Oscar-Winning Composer of Film Scores, Dies at 91
His vast output included atmospheric music for spaghetti westerns in his native Italy and scores for some 500 movies by a Who’s Who of directors.
(NYT) To many cineastes, Maestro Morricone (pronounced (mo-ree-CONE-eh) was a unique talent, composing melodic accompaniments to comedies, thrillers and historical dramas by Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Terrence Malick, Roland Joffé, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino and other filmmakers.
He scored many popular films of the past 40 years: Édouard Molinaro’s “La Cage aux Folles” (1978), Mr. Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), Mr. De Palma’s “The Untouchables” (1987), Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” (1988), Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso” (1988), Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire” (1993), and Mr. Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (2015).
…the work that made him world famous, and that was best known to moviegoers, was his blend of music and sound effects for Sergio Leone’s so-called spaghetti westerns of the 1960s: a ticking pocket watch, a sign creaking in the wind, buzzing flies, a twanging Jew’s harp, haunting whistles, cracking whips, gunshots and a bizarre, wailing “ah-ee-ah-ee-ah,” played on a sweet potato-shaped wind instrument called an ocarina.
10 Essential Ennio Morricone Soundtracks

What would we do without the input of Wednesday Night friends who relay the really important information?

What’s the Difference Between an Herb and a Spice?
The terms herb andِ spice areِ often usedِ interchangeably, butِ they areِ in fact twoِ distinct types ofِ seasonings, madeِ fromِ differentِ sections ofِ plants andِ processed inِ differentِ ways.
Let’s useِ cinnamon andِ oregano asِ examples.

Is It Whisky Or Whiskey And Why It Matters
The Irish spell whiskey with an e between the k and the y while their Scottish counterparts leave out the e. The distinction, in addition to being the bane of proof readers, also offers some important insights into the evolution and history of whisky.
Canada, India and Japan, the three other major whisky producers, also follow the Scottish spelling. Most of the rest of the world has followed suit. The US follows the Irish example and spells whiskey with an e, although there are a number of major exceptions.

Is ‘Irregardless’ a Real Word?
This word has been used by a large number of people (millions) for a long time (over two hundred years) with a specific and identifiable meaning (“regardless”). The fact that it is unnecessary, as there is already a word in English with the same meaning (regardless) is not terribly important; it is not a dictionary’s job to assess whether a word is necessary before defining it. The fact that the word is generally viewed as nonstandard, or as illustrative of poor education, is likewise not important; dictionaries define the breadth of the language, and not simply the elegant parts at the top.

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