Wednesday Night #2030

Written by  //  February 10, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

So many tributes following the death of Christopher Plummer, it is impossible to link them all.
Christopher Plummer Is Proud to Be One of the Good Ones
The 88-year-old charmer will gladly chat about rescuing All the Money in the World and the scene-stealing dogs of his latest film, Boundaries—as long as you don’t bring up The Sound of Music.
Christopher Plummer – a life in pictures
R.I.P. Christopher Plummer, a Montrealer through and through
While it had been decades since the famed Shakespearean actor and film star had lived in our fair city, it always remained close to his heart.

Former U.S. Secretary of State (Reagan administration) George Shultz died Sunday at the age of 100. In a warm tribute, Colin Robertson writes “He had played a lead role in getting Canada into the G7 in 1976 when he was at Treasury. He would later tell me it was both strategic and personal: the US wanted another non-European member and he liked his Canadian counterpart, then Finance Minister John Turner. As secretary of state, he instituted quarterly meetings with his Canadian counterpart: first, Allan MacEachen, whom he had taught economics at MIT; and then Joe Clark. Allan Gotlieb, our longest serving ambassador in Washington, used to have Shultz and his late first wife, Obie, over to the residence where they talked high policy while watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Shultz was a vital ally in our campaigns for free trade and the acid rain agreement.”

A message from Myanmar. Sauvé alumna Pyone Thet Thet Kyaw wrote on Saturday:
Dear World,
“The military coup council had ordered internet to shut down in Myanmar. We’ve just got internet access back after 24 hours without. But we don’t know when we will be cut off from the outside world again. Ongoing safety of Myanmar people relies on continued international attention.
Civil disobedience campaign spreads across the country and health professionals are forefront of it.
Many young students, workers and ethnic youth are joining protests across the country to demand the end of military dictatorship once and for all.
The pans and pots clanking campaign has been undertaking every night at 8 pm.
The Committee representing the Union Parliament has been formed and endorsed by parliamentarians.
Let the World know that we are resisting the coup and fighting back.
Please help Myanmar by calling your Government and your representatives to take immediate and swift actions towards these military council.”
To understand post-coup Myanmar, look to its history of popular resistance — not sanctions

Vaccine nationalism vs vaccine diplomacy
As countries race to meet coronavirus vaccination targets, the inclination in some parts of the world to stockpile gives an opportunity for others to fill the void, and to score strategic points in the process.
Vaccine nationalism – and how it could affect us all As COVID-19 vaccines are developed and approved, national leaders face a dilemma: which to prioritize – country or planet? Both, most people would answer. Nonetheless, ‘‘vaccine nationalism,” where countries prioritize their own vaccine needs, is forecast to handicap not just the global health recovery but the economic one, too, with one report estimating its impact at more than $1 trillion per year.
Ottawa has come under fire for dipping into COVAX  the only OECD country to do so. (Reminder: What is COVAX?)
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas discuss the pros and cons of the Biden administration policy and the “Canada First” response.

As Nations race to win friends and influence through vaccine distribution – Russia, India and China are dominating the field of vaccine diplomacy. India produces more than half of the world’s vaccine output. Not only is India producing vast quantities of AstraZeneca’s vaccine under license, it also has its own Covaxin. And India is giving its vaccine away to neighbouring countries free of charge. In the latest development India ‘will do its best’ to help Canada get COVID-19 vaccine doses, Modi says
Cleo Paskal writes that “India’s vaccine diplomacy is a credit to the nation-showcasing India’s scientists, production facilities, ethos and foreign policy reach. So might it make sense to dovetail part of it into India’s growing strategic partnerships to reinforce and expand that reach even further?”
Note Also see Cleo’s latest on Micronesia below under long reads.

And in Canada, newly introduced federal policy e.g.  the federal government said in late January it would soon charge international air travellers up to $2,000 for mandatory testing and a minimum three-day self-isolation in a government-approved hotel, has caused widespread grumbling.
Check out A rare glimpse inside Calgary’s COVID-19 isolation hotel, as travellers share concerns
The disparity between rules applying to international air travellers and cross-border land travel has also raised concerns, which it seems are being belatedly addressed Feds to require negative COVID-19 test for those entering Canada at land borders.

Trump’s second impeachment trial (see more @   started on Tuesday, with expectations for a swift trial lasting around a week. Under the current timeline, the Senate could vote on whether to convict Trump of the House’s charge as early as the beginning of next week. Trump’s lawyers did not distinguish themselves – see comment “I have no idea what he’s doing,” Dershowitz said of Castor. “I just don’t understand it.” (Dershowitz also bragged that he taught Raskin at Harvard Law.)
In her February 7 Letter, Heather Cox Richardson writes:
“Pundits are saying that the Senate will vote to acquit former president Donald Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial, set to start on Tuesday. I’m not so sure.” And justifies her position.
Coincidentally -or not?- 9 February was also the anniversary of the day when, in 1825, the Presidential election was decided in the House in favour of John Quincy Adams, who won fewer votes than Andrew Jackson in the popular election.

Money talks, especially when lawsuits are involved:
Lawsuits Take the Lead in Fight Against Disinformation
Defamation cases have made waves across an uneasy right-wing media landscape, from Fox to Newsmax.

Cheers for Pete Buttigieg who Wants The U.S. To Lead The World In High-Speed Rail
The transportation secretary said there is no reason America has to “settle for less” when it comes to public transportation.
Somewhat less inspiring, but nonetheless welcome -and long overdue- is Wednesday’s announcement from Ottawa: Trudeau pledges $14.9 billion for public transit projects across the country. The BUT is that sum will be spent over the next eight years. Part of that funding will go toward a permanent transit fund of $3 billion per year starting in 2026 and meant to provide stable and predictable funding so municipalities can plan future projects. So – eight more years of Liberal government?

And cheers for President Biden’s new conservation corps that stirs hopes of nature-focused hiring spree “Far beyond just planting trees, a new conservation corps could pour money into tackling a bevy of other environmental problems, too. According to Biden’s website, projects will include working to mitigate wildfire risks, protect watershed health, and improve outdoor recreation access. [Mary Ellen Sprenkel, head of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps,] thinks the effort could also include more activities at the community level, like urban agriculture projects and work retrofitting buildings to be more energy-efficient. And as Sprenkel pointed out, the federal government owns and manages thousands of buildings that need help to become more energy-efficient. The buildings “could even become sources of renewable energy generation with solar or wind power installations.”

No cheers for Bell Media this week. In an incredibly insensitive -read cynical- move following the success of the Let’s Talk campaign devoted to mental health, Bell Media cut hundreds of jobs across Canada  Adding to outrage, was the report that as part of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, Bell received $122.9 million. Dan Pontefract sums up the sorry tale for Forbes with Poor Form As Bell Media Fires Dan O’Toole And Hundreds More
Andrew Caddell concludes his excellent column “Bell Canada’s cuts were a shoddy way to treat people” in the Hill Times with this:
“Bell fails to understand that broadcasting, in providing people with information, has always made a contribution to better citizenship. The “dumbing down” of society can be traced to corporations prioritizing profit over people and ignoring their responsibility to the public good.
Last week’s mass firing was a shoddy move, and Bell deserves to be excoriated for the tactless and ignorant way it was done. “Let’s Talk,” indeed.”

No cheers for the Parti Quebecois
attempt to exclude Dawson College from the government’s infrastructure bill, but some applause for the CAQ government which declined to allow the National Assembly to debate whether the funding for the expansion of Dawson College should instead be redirected to francophone CEGEPs. But wait, in case you have not been paying attention, there is more to worry about as Beryl Wajsman underlines in If Quebec can’t cut English rights one way it tries another.

Congratulations to Kyle Matthews, Marie Lamensch and all involved!
Two years after his death, Paul Dewar’s words and dedication to human rights are remembered
A tribute to the former MP for Ottawa Centre was organized Saturday by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University.
Will those of us unable to attend the virtual meeting be able to view a recording?


More Accurate World Map Wins Prestigious Design Award
The world maps we’re all used to operate off of the Mercator projection, a cartographic technique developed by Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. This imperfect technique gave us a map that was “right side up,” orderly, and useful for ship navigation (because it kept longitudes consistent and the angle from any point to the North Pole constant) — but also one that distorted both the size of many landmasses and the distances between them.
To correct these distortions, Tokyo-based architect and artist Hajime Narukawa created the AuthaGraph map over the course of several years using a complex process that essentially amounts to taking the globe (more accurate than any Mercator map) and flattening it out. … his map is featured in textbooks for Japanese schoolchildren. Remember Mercator vs Peters projection map (“West Wing” Season 2 Episode 16)?

For another something different: Radio Garden: Tune into more than 8,000 radio stations around the world
An app developed by the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision allows you to explore more than 8,000 radio stations around the world.
A globe goes round and round. You can hear a white noise made by a radio antenna trying to find a station. The map keeps turning and you can interact with it, rotate it, zoom in or out. Suddenly, small green dots appear to indicate that more than 8,000 radio stations can be tuned and free of charge on all continents.
Radio.Garden is an interactive web page and not an application, therefore there is nothing to download, neither commercial nor advertising, anyone can access only with the link.
Radio Garden is a dangerously addictive form of entertainment – also a great way to teach geography?

Best Zoom meeting story -ever?- Texas lawyer, trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat Kudos to the unflappable judge.

Virtual Events
Thursday, 18 February 5-6pm ET
Échange virtuel avec Mark Carney
Mark Carney, économiste, occupe maintenant les fonctions de conseiller financier du premier ministre du Royaume-Uni pour la COP26 et d’Envoyé spécial des Nations Unies pour le financement de l’action climatique.
Il répondra aux questions de Louise Roy, chancelière émérite de l’Université de Montréal et présidente du CA du CIRANO, et de Benoit Perron, directeur du Département de sciences économiques UdeM.
Il est possible de s’inscrire d’ici le 17 février à 23 h

Munk Dialogue: Yuval Harari & Masha Gessen (video)
Internationally bestselling authors Yuval Harari (Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century) and Masha Gessen (The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Surviving Autocracy) joined us on February 4 for a members-only Munk Dialogue. This event is free for Munk Members. Membership is free. Visit our Membership page here to explore our membership options and privileges. If you are already a member, log on using your membership credentials to view the Dialogue video.

Long reads
Cleo Paskal: How the Pacific Islands Forum Fell Apart
The decision by Micronesian countries to leave the PIF will have major strategic implications.
The roots of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine shortage go back decades
Today, decisions about what vaccines to produce are not in Canadian hands.
Nations race to win friends and influence through vaccine distribution

Winning friends and influence with vaccine.
Among the Insurrectionists
A detailed eye-witness account of the build-up to and the events of January 6
The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold.
By Luke Mogelson
5 ways Norway leads and Canada lags on climate action
Overall, Norway is a leader on climate change performance and Canada is a laggard. The 2021 Climate Change Performance Index ranks 61 countries on their progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, renewable energies and climate policy. Norway ranked eighth overall, while Canada was near the bottom in 58th place.
What climate change will mean for US security and geopolitics

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