Wednesday Night #2039

Written by  //  April 14, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Ramadan Mubarak to all those who are celebrating.

After 20 long years, the U.S. is pulling out of Afghanistan
Biden Says It Is ‘Time for America’s Troops to Come Home’ From Afghanistan
NATO allies are looking to follow the president’s lead. Top intelligence officials, speaking to a congressional panel, outline growing threats from China, Russia and climate change.
Damned either way, Biden opts out of Afghanistan as US tires of ‘forever wars’ The war was launched with widespread international support — but it became the same long, bloody, unpopular slog that forced the British to withdraw from Afghanistan in the 19th century and the Soviet Union to retreat in the 20th. While withdrawal is seen as long overdue, questions remain about international obligations to the Afghan people (Afghans Wonder ‘What About Us?’ as U.S. Troops Prepare to Withdraw)
As we followed the news of the last 24 hours, we were reminded of Uday Bhaskar’s analysis published 13 months ago:  US-Taliban peace deal: Implications for India in which he decries the long term impact [which] 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.

Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Israel
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas discuss the prospects for the proposed Biden-Putin meeting, Russia’s threats to Ukraine, and the possible consequences of the Israeli attack on the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility which further strains relations between the U.S.,  now negotiating in Vienna to re-enter the nuclear accord, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu who has vowed to stop the deal at all costs.

As India reels amid virus surge, affecting world vaccine supply Uday Bhaskar writes in a message: India has moved to the second position – after the USA while it is coping with a surge in new cases /new variants – at last count it was 162 K plus over a 24 hour cycle. Yet -in what can best be described as ‘anomalous- election rallies attract citizens & leaders sans masks in the thousands and the Kumbh Mela that brings millions of devotees for a holy dip in the Ganges has just begun. The intensity of faith in the sub-continent is intriguing & bewildering -both in its political & religious manifestations even as the two strands now overlap in disturbing manner- as the Bengal state elections testify.

Far-left candidate leads Peru into run-off presidential polls
Leftist Castillo in lead with 16 percent of the vote after surprise comeback as Peru deals with economic, COVID crises. Conservative Keiko Fujimori was in fourth place also with 12.9 percent but was gaining ground as votes were counted. The fast count predicted she would come second in The election that voters don’t want anyone to win

The death of Prince Philip prompted round-the-world coverage, generally praising him for his service to Queen and country.
However, Andrew Caddell argues Let’s be honest, Prince Philip was no saint, writing “There is no doubt Prince Philip served his country, the United Kingdom, well. But as most Canadians are skeptical of the monarchy, it strikes me as passing strange our prominent fellow citizens would go out of their way to praise someone so flawed, and who was not one of us.”

The worrisome quarrel between Northern Ireland and the UK stemming from new post-Brexit trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom has been slightly overshadowed by  the Prince’s death. But is certainly more consequential.   See Jonathan Freedland: The consequences of Boris Johnson’s careless Brexit are playing out in Belfast and Anger boils in Northern Ireland despite attempts to end riots.

On April 14 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, five days after Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Events in the U.S. today, including widespread discrimination, daily racially charged violence, the rise of white supremacist groups, the January 6 assault on the Capitol, the current assault on voters’ rights, are symbolic of the continuing malaise in American society. Gloria Calhoun has printed the full 92-page text of the marked-up Georgia voting bill to see for herself exactly what it does and doesn’t do and will share the results.

As controversy continues to dog the handling of the pandemic in Canada, both Liberals and NDP held their National  Conventions over the weekend. The latter was described as “filled by testy points of order and a stream of social media complaints”. Jagmeet Singh spoke on Sunday afternoon. His speech, which came a day after Justin Trudeau’s own address at the Liberal party convention, was harshly critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
These are the Results of the Policy Prioritization Vote at the Liberal Convention
#1 Implementation Of National Pharmacare For All and #3 establishment and implementation of enforceable national standards for all long-term care facilities;
Note #14 “include in the National Housing Strategy specific provisions for vulnerable seniors, including designated funding for non-profit community organizations to facilitate an increase in affordable rental stock to accommodate the housing needs of vulnerable Canadian seniors, and support for local municipalities to do so.” Before Liberals get too excited about Mark Carney, they should remember Michael Ignatieff
Already, Carney has run into trouble over a recent claim that the investments of Brookfield Asset Management, for whom he now works, are producing “net-zero” emissions. Climate experts objected to that math and Carney was compelled to acknowledge that he was mistaken.

John Buchanan, Douglas Lightfoot and Gerald Ratzer have taken CBC to task over its failure to provide a “balanced view” as per the CBC mandate adding If we do not hear from you, we will assume you have no rebuttal and will refer the matter to the CBC ombudsman.

Local politics
To the dismay of many, Westmount City Council has announced that the annual Supporting Grant from the City of Westmount to the Atwater Library has been cut by more than 30%, from $37,500 in 2020 to just $25,560 for 2021. That’s down sharply from a recent peak of $39,000 in 2018. There was no consultation prior to the March 15th Council meeting that approved the grants, and no explanation offered for the significant reduction in our award. Richard Conrad will speak to the issue and hopes for support from any and all Wednesday Nighters who are affected.

We are very pleased that our guest next week will be Marlene Jennings. A timely event as the English speaking community frets over what reforms to the Charter of the French Language Minister responsible for language Simon-Jolin Barrette is preparing. Do read the helpful suggestions from Gregory Kelley, the Liberal opposition critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

We are sad to learn of the death of our friend -and early Wednesday Nighter- Antoine Panet-Raymond, international trade and marketing expert, esteemed professor, world traveller, and extraordinary cook.

While most of you know that W. Galen Weston, architect of modern food retailing in Canada and philanthropist has died, did you note the odd juxtaposition of the death of Bernie Madoff of Ponzi fame.

Long Reads
How hateful rhetoric connects to real-world violence
There is a deceptively simple answer to the problem of incendiary rhetoric: Politicians should exercise restraint themselves and condemn their fellow leaders when they cross the line that separates inspiring their followers from encouraging violence. Unfortunately, this advice is unlikely to be heeded. President Trump succeeded politically in part because he broke political taboos and a host of would-be successors are eager to capitalize on the energy of his base. For now, it is vital for social media companies to be vigilant in stopping violent rhetoric and for law enforcement to anticipate, and quickly suppress, violence before it spreads. Such measures are short-term ones, however, and do not solve the deeper problem.
Finland’s President Niinistö’s two-track initiative: towards stronger Arctic dialogue and revitalization of the Helsinki Spirit?
In his recent op-ed, President Sauli Niinistö reintroduced the idea of an Arctic summit. The timing of the meeting could be favourable. As the 50th anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act is approaching, Niinistö also hoped for a revitalization of the “Spirit of Helsinki”. The aim is hampered by global tensions, however.
Colin Robertson: From “Buy America” to Made in North America— Trade and Jobs on Both Sides of the Border
A compelling case for American leadership in creating a North America community built on skilled labour, market, energy and innovation has been made by the Council of Foreign Relations (2005) and in studies by General David Petraeus (2015), Ambassador Robert Zoellick (2014) and the Bush Institute (2020). As the US looks to rally the democracies to counter China’s efforts to rewrite global rules, it should start with its neighbours.
Under Biden, Pakistan and the US face a dilemma about the breadth of their relationship
While Pakistan has made it clear that it wants a different relationship with America, redefining relations isn’t going as well as Islamabad hoped. Madiha Afzal explains the state of U.S.-Pakistan relations at the beginning of the Biden administration and why Washington will continue to view Pakistan through the prism of its neighbors, especially Afghanistan.
An intriguing view from Virginia Heffernan Why Joe Manchin is good for the nation
As maddening as he is, his bipartisan triple axel is impressive. How is it even possible that Manchin serves as a Democrat in deep-red West Virginia, which votes Republican 19% more often than the country does? He’s like a McCoy repping a Hatfield state.
The surprise shouldn’t be that Manchin sometimes votes with Republicans (32.6% of the time during the 116th Congress). The surprise is that fully two-thirds of the time he votes with Democrats. To call him a DINO is erroneous.

Varia
A follow-on from last Wednesday’s discussion of housing for the elderly that is not traditional long-term care.
Why don’t we live together? Alternative housing in a hot real estate market
Experts and residents say shared housing promotes affordability, well-being in cities.
Armenian fashion illustrator Edgar Artis
Armenian Illustrator Completes His Cut-Out Dresses With Everyday Objects and this Fashion Illustrations Seamlessly Blend Real-Life Objects to Mimic Graceful Movement
Canine news
Forget the pomp: [B.C.]Lt.- gov.’s pooch takes the stage at Throne Speech Perhaps Vice Regal Macduff Austin-Chester could be drafted as coach/mentor for Major Biden who is Being Sent Away for ‘Off-Site Private Training’?
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans, study says – the study can help understand what areas bears use, how fast they move, how best to conserve those places and avoid [human] conflict with the animals.

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