Wednesday Night #2004

Written by  //  August 12, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

We are so happy to report that Joumane Chahine Buchanan is on the mend. John is now with her in Beirut and has posted an account of her horrific – and extraordinary – experience on Facebook. That she received medical attention in time to save her life and is now recovering is truly miraculous. It will be a long road, but the prognosis is excellent.
Meanwhile, the prognosis for Lebanon‘s recovery is less encouraging. If you only read one commentary, we would recommend Robert Fisk’s Beirut has suffered a catastrophe that will live long in the memory – and the repeated betrayal of its citizens is a travesty

The wait is over. On Tuesday, Joe Biden announced that Kamala Harris will be his running mate. Never have we seen so many Facebook friends of varied political persuasions so ecstatic over news. Canadian media gleefully focused on the Canadian connection “Ms. Harris moved to Montreal at the age of 12 where her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, conducted cancer research at McGill University. She graduated from Westmount High School in 1981.”
Although the announcement was applauded by most pundits, many warned that the campaign led by Trump will be nasty.
We can only wonder how Kamala Harris reacted to Sarah Palin offers Harris advice: ‘Don’t get muzzled’
For more see The Democrats/progressives 2020 Part II

Trivia Note: The Wednesday Night Indo-Finnish network (yes, we have one!) informs us that in Finnish kamala means terrible, but also has a positive connotation as in ‘terribly good’, whereas in Sanskrit and related Indian languages KAMAL denotes the lotus flower.

Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas greeted the news with enthusiasm. Interestingly, Jeremy believes that Trump might quit before the election. What would happen? His name would still be on ballots. Would a vote for Trump be a vote for Mike Pence (if he is still the running mate and therefore the successor) ?
Will Mike Pence be the running mate? Here’s a scenario for you to consider:
There have been recent rumours about contacts between the White House and Kanye West. Today (Wednesday) Forbes reports “new details on the ongoing conversations between the rap-and-sneaker mogul and “my boy,” the president’s son-in-law, just as his spoiler campaign heats up.” What if … Pence were replaced by West?

Canada
Robert Fife conjectures that Bill Morneau is slated to be replaced, possibly by Mark Carney. Would Mark Carney want the job? Why? Unless he is eyeing the leadership of the Party.
What does look pretty certain is that there will be a cabinet shuffle early in September.
In the wake of the news of Julie Payette’s reign of terror, Matthew Cope posted a challenge on Facebook last week “Nominate the next Governor General”. Nominations need not respect the traditional alternation between francophone and anglophone or any other criterion. Forget the rules and conventions. Pick the person you would most like to see in the job regardless of language and geography. The response has been fascinating and instructive. So far, the hands-down favorite seems to be Roméo Dallaire.

Comparing and contrasting Canada and the U.S. is a popular occupation for pundits of all varieties. The latest contributions, from academics, are two long, disputatious reads.
From UBC professor, anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era The Unraveling of America
A rapid response, The Unraveling of “The Unraveling of America”, came from Deanna Kreisel, an English prof at University of Mississippi, who taught at UBC from 2006 to 2019.
Both authors make some good points, but, in our opinion are shrill – academics in search of click bait? They need to put some water in their wine.

Covid-19
Russia clears coronavirus vaccine, insists it’s safe as scientists sound alarm
Russia on Tuesday became the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, a move that was met with international skepticism and unease because the shots have only been studied in dozens of people.
President Vladimir Putin announced the Health Ministry’s approval and said one of his two adult daughters already was inoculated. He said the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and was shown to provide lasting immunity to the coronavirus, although Russian authorities have offered no proof to back up claims of safety or effectiveness.
There is sure to be a reaction from the White House.  Read the profile of Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and the person ultimately responsible for approving any vaccine. His ability to resist political pressure will be critical in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to attack and undermine public-health officials. As Michael Specter writes in Trump’s Unprecedented Attacks on Our Public-Health System “the most important public-health institutions in America have essentially been hijacked by a man who seems to detest science and expertise in equal measure.”

If you have not been following the TikTok story, Gerald Ratzer and Cleo Paskal have shared an informative exchange.
Gerald forwarded Niall Ferguson’s piece published by Bloomberg TikTok Is Inane. China’s Imperial Ambition Is Not. The U.S. won the Cold War by exporting its values, and China has a similar plan for Cold War II with the comment “While the article starts on TikTok it goes on to look at Facebook and geopolitical empires!”
Cleo swiftly responded “The key thing the US and Indian strategists seem to be worried about is the AI component – but not just as a way to get you hooked.  The Indians say the vast amount of metadata TikTok sucks up is helping China refine AI that can be used for weapons systems.  Part of the US concern is elaborated by Gordon Chang in TikTok: China’s Trojan Horse to Indoctrinate America
Alarming? Alarmist?
Last Friday, Trump Friday,  issued an executive order banning TikTok in the U.S. in 45 days unless it is sold to a non-Chinese entity.

Congratulations to Marc Nicholson and the 1880 for their extremely successful session “Has China Won?” (which it hasn’t) which also asks: “Can America lose?” What is a young republic with a quarter of the population in China doing by taking on the world’s oldest and most resilient civilisation? As a former diplomat with unrivalled access to policymakers in both Beijing and Washington, Kishore Mahbubani addresses the question he poses with an appraisal of the merits, flaws, and superpower eccentricities of the US and China.” Marc wrote “Our video has 8,729 views and 105 comments!”

Trump says he’ll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg
Ed Kilgore looks at the promises made in Trump’s 2016 Gettysburg Address and concludes that his failure to make good on them would invite some awkward comparisons.
The news that Trump may deliver his acceptance speech from Gettysburg, reminded Doug Sweet of the great Bob Newhart sketch
In a similar vein, the Washington Post’s David Von Drehle offers his version of the proposed speech Trump’s (tremendous) Gettysburg address

We thought this was a joke, but it seems not entirely:
US government issues bear advice: friends don’t let friends get eaten
The National Park Service has warned against sacrificing slower friends in a bear attack ‘even if the friendship has run its course’

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