Wednesday Night #2006

Written by  //  August 26, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Happy International Dog Day! You can celebrate with the 9 best dog movies on Disney+

Where to start?
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas tackle the thorny issue of Belarus and what to do about Lukashenko whom Jeremy describes as “one of only two national “leaders” whom I thought instantly were clinically insane” before turning to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the questions arising from it. Putin directed or not? Jeremy — and others — believe that Putin is too smart to have been behind it and adds “he can’t stand nutty Luka but can’t call for a second election when his own are so suspect. He sure as hell won’t help Luka put down protests. It’s really in the EU court to mediate and the Balts and Finns can do a lot.” [See more Russia July 2019-]

News from Lebanon is not good, and we thank John Buchanan for pictures and relevant stories, including Questions Swirl around the Cargo that Destroyed Beirut. However, we were greatly cheered by a Facebook post from John showing a cheerful Joumane out and about with him. She is obviously growing stronger every day.
As we write, Canada’s François-Philippe Champagne is arriving in Beirut where he will meet with Michel Aoun President of Lebanon, and with representatives from the United Nations, the Lebanese Red Cross and other civil society organizations.

Mr. Champagne has been on a quick tour to touch base with European allies that included a lengthy and unexpected meeting in Rome with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, which he said he used to request the restoration of consular services for the detained Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, and their release. While he insisted there was no breakthrough on the “two Michaels” file, he said there was some progress on the consular services front. We presume that they did not discuss the fact that Canada has effectively moved to block China’s Huawei from 5G, but can’t say so

Meanwhile, back home, the Conservatives have elected Erin O’Toole their new leader, replacing the hapless Andrew Scheer. Éric Grenier’s analysis of the riding-by-riding results suggests that as few as 1,210 votes decided the outcome between O’Toole and MacKay.
His brief news conference on Tuesday was a relatively mellow affair during which he did not indicate the disdain for the media exhibited by his predecessors. However, more worrisome is his close relationship with Jason Kenney
Whatever else may be said about him, he is a dog owner and tweeted a message to ‘Wexford’ for International Dog Day.

A dominant concern in Quebec is the reopening of schools and dissatisfaction with the policies introduced by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge. Teachers and other education workers are unhappy and parents are at best confused, while doctors have urged a re-think of the back-to-school plan in an open letter.

Last week, there was little time to review the just-released volume V of the bipartisan US Senate Intelligence Committee Report which has been generally acknowledged as confirming what the Mueller report could not: Russiagate Was Not a Hoax. Then on Thursday, Steve Bannon was arrested in a deliciously ironic move by the USPS.

In Where the System May Break, David Frum describes a war-game exercise simulating the 2020 election unmasked some key vulnerabilities. As one watches, listens to, or reads accounts of the speeches at the RNC, or the latest actions of the White House, it becomes increasingly apparent that the results of the war games are all-too realistic and he does not mention the USPS crisis.
Louis DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee on Monday – things did not go well for him, especially when Rep. Brenda Lawrence took her turn.

Great thanks to Judy Roberts for this inspiring lesson for the speakers at the two National Conventions, especially the RNC, To Be or NOT To Be – that IS the question.?!
The RNC is hard to watch, or listen to. Apparently the TV audience agreed, as ratings were down. Most ‘mainstream’ pundits were not impressed, some downright scornful. Donald Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle (was I one of the last to realize that she is ex-wife of Governor Gavin Newsom?) came in for particularly harsh criticism. I wonder if any of her audience noticed, or cared, that as she trashed California, she showed no empathy for the victims of the wildfires that are —yet again — devastating her home state. Less vicious, but still poor reviews for Melania’s speech from the Rose Garden whose “renewal’ she has been severely criticized for (although she had probably very little to do with it). More important is the outrage over the use of the White House as the backdrop for Trump’s RNC appearances, with critics invoking the Hatch Act.

We are dismayed by the shooting of Jacob Blake and the violent protests that have followed. It seems that the governor of Wisconsin has now agreed to have federal troops restore order – this could only lead to more problems.

California’s Disaster Overload: Wildfires, Hazardous Air, and COVID-19
More than 1.1 million acres of the State of California have been burned by wildfires since a “lightning siege” started hundreds of fires throughout the state a little more than a week ago. To the north and south of the Bay Area, two complexes, or groups of fires, are now the second and third biggest fires in the state’s recorded history. Tropical storm Laura has now been upgraded to Hurricane Laura
A Canadian former diplomat muses that “it’s time for some form of enhanced regional if not global mechanism to be put in place, tasked to identify, accumulate and then rationalize and pool resources, provide for training, etc. to deal with firefighting in places when and where needed. There are lots of underutilized airbases, airports, etc. in various parts of the world where big water bombers and basic crew could be located- retired 747s are the latest big beasts being repurposed as water bombers- by a Canadian outfit that can’t keep up with demand. And it would be better to engage some of the otherwise mutually hostile military forces in a more beneficial human endeavour than sabre rattling.With a roster of available, mainly volunteer or military, fire fighters, there wouldn’t be any need for a huge bureaucracy to manage such an entity.Medium sized, mainly antique, water bombers are overhead here almost every day- they scoop up sea water just off the coast and then head inland, with mixed success. We are in fairly imminent danger here of another outbreak of large fires , and that situation now prevails all across southern Europe. Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, and so on.”
We think this is a great idea and could well be championed by Mark Carney in his role as special envoy on Climate Change.

Congratulations to Ron Meisels who informs us that “Phases & Cycles was quoted in Barron’s (24 August) for a second time in a few months.”

Good reads:
Ching Ling Foo: America’s First Chinese Superstar, the incredible story of the iconic Chinese magician Ching Ling Foo’s obstacle laden rise to unprecedented fame and private railway car riding fortune as a bustling, polyglot, entertainment mad, ever richer, disruptive technology embracing America burst into the Twentieth Century. Ching Ling Foo; reportedly the greatest illusionist ever seen on American soil along with his talented family of musicians and acrobats overcome on stage attacks, deportation attempts, homeland tragedy, and a talented and diabolically clever American copycat to make an indelible impact on American popular culture becoming the highest paid, most popular performers in the United States – twice!

How Congress Could Get Some of Its Power Back

A President Biden’s first priority must be restoring foreign confidence in the U.S.

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