Wednesday Night #2048

Written by  //  June 16, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

A huge thank-you to Lisa Napoli for being with us last week!

You can come home now, Joe. Maybe not a perfect ‘mission completed’, but a pretty successful shoring up of alliances (See Multilateralism June 2021-), concluding with a dignified (how long has it been since we were able to use that adjective when speaking about the president’s foreign encounters?) meeting with Putin (see U.S. – Russia relations 2019-). There are still some feathers to be smoothed in relations with Europe and NATO, but all the leaders appear genuinely happy to be dealing with President Biden.
We look forward to Wednesday evening’s take, but meanwhile, Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas on CTV’s Diplomatic Community Biden-Putin summit preview – flexing muscle or using brain? (video) gave a lucid, realistic forecast of what to expect.

Does not augur well
Israeli Aircraft Bomb Gaza Just Days Into New Government
After a day of rising tensions, which saw a far-right march in Jerusalem and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, Israel’s new coalition government ordered airstrikes against Hamas.
Former Attorney General Discovers Settler Group Took Over His Family’s Sheikh Jarrah Home
Michael Ben-Yair was surprised to find that a religious nonprofit group had charged Palestinians living in his grandmother’s East Jerusalem house hundreds of thousands of shekels in rent, with the approval of a rabbinical court. His legal journey to reclaim the home reveals the settlers’ modus operandi in their drive to ‘Judaize’ Sheikh Jarrah

More and more positive news trumpeting Canada tops world in vaccinated population as new COVID-19 cases fall below 1,000 – the country leads the world in the share of national populations vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, with close to 65 per cent of Canadians now having received at least one dose. Things are opening up. People are smiling as they line up for their second shots.
Meanwhile, Trudeau, Canadian delegation check in to quarantine hotel after overseas trip despite the fact that an expert advisory panel recently told the Liberal government it should phase out the policy of forcing people to stay in quarantine hotels, because it doesn’t follow science and contains too many loopholes to be consistently followed.

If you have not discovered it already, Politico’s Canada’s newsletter Corridors offers a pretty thorough, succinct, wrap-up of major news stories. Wednesday’s edition opens:
“After a three-summit European whirlwind, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is quarantining at a hotel on this side of the Atlantic. His colleagues in the Commons are entering the end game phase of this year’s parliamentary silly season. Andy Blatchford and Luiza Savage quizzed a binational panel of key lawmakers on the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border. And the Green Party is wallowing in increasingly existential infighting.”
On that last item, we are saddened that the Greens seem unable to come together, let alone advance their agenda, without Elizabeth May at the helm.

There’s not much more the LPC could do to anger the Anglo minority in Quebec. The motion calls for the legislature to agree that Article 45 of the Constitution Act of 1982 gives Quebec and other provinces exclusive jurisdiction to modify their respective constitutions. It also takes note of Quebec’s desire to enshrine Quebec nationhood and French being the official and common language in the constitution. (See more Quebec 21 May 2021-
Liberals table bill to protect French in sweeping update to Official Languages Act
The Liberal government introduced legislation Tuesday to strengthen the protection of French in Canada as part of the biggest overhaul to the Official Languages Act in more than three decades, just days before the House of Commons is expected to break for the summer.
[Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly] also said the government stands by its obligations to protect English-speaking minorities within Quebec. Not much credence among Quebec Anglos.

Very glad Andrew Caddell has decided he will continue his columns. This week’s The notwithstanding clause has long passed its best-before dateSection 33 threatens the even application of the law, it undermines individual rights and freedom of expression, and it handcuffs the judiciary.. …”the cavalier invocation of Section 33 in Quebec’s “secularism law,” Bill 21, which prevents the wearing of religious attire (hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes) in public service jobs. In his recent decision on the law, the judge complained he could not touch some of its more discriminatory aspects, because they were shielded by the notwithstanding clause.
And as a follow up, the CAQ government has promised to bubble wrap Bill 96, its new language legislation, with Section 33. The clause would cover every section of the bill if it becomes law.”

The Bitcoin controversy will no doubt continue for months, if not years, to come.
We are grateful to Peter for forwarding the link to the BCA Webcast Debate On Cryptocurrencies. The Opinion piece by Professor Eswar Prasad of Brookings also clearly sets out the pros and cons, with a wee bit of bias.
The Brutal Truth About Bitcoin
Whatever Bitcoin’s eventual fate, its blockchain technology is truly ingenious and groundbreaking. Bitcoin has shown how programs running on networks of computers can be harnessed to securely conduct payments, within and between countries, without relying on avaricious financial institutions that charge high fees.
Variants of Bitcoin’s technology are also making many financial products and services available to the masses at low cost, directly connecting savers and borrowers. These developments and the possibilities created by the new technologies have spurred central banks to consider issuing digital versions of their own currencies. China, Japan, and Sweden are already conducting trials of their digital currencies.
Ironically, rather than truly democratizing finance, some of these innovations may exacerbate inequality.

Am I the very last person to be dragged into Critical Race Theory (a really awkward expression) and the subtleties of non-racist (passive) vs Anti-racism which, according to one definition implies action – looking around your universe and taking specific steps to dismantle systemic racism. What finally led me to the topic is the bizarre argument over Tom Hanks’ opinion piece in the NYT You Should Learn the Truth About the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Fox News subsequently claimed NPR wants to ‘cancel’ Tom Hanks over Tulsa op-ed (which was not true). The Guardian piece how history is taught in America is a good read. And on the topic of education, this How American K-12 education has become a cultural contradiction Writing in National Affairs, [Kay S. Hymowitz] says America’s middle class demands K-12 education that cultivates and celebrates each child’s individuality. Yet the middle class also expects schools to instill this class’s values — accountability, diligence, civility, self-control — “that are often in direct tension with students’ autonomy and individuality.”

Varia
News of Pulitzer Prize winners tends to dribble out with individual posts about one or two favorites.
Here is the full list. The absence of an award for Editorial Cartooning has raised eyebrows and hackles.
NB Last week’s super guest, Lisa Napoli, drew attention to Georgetown University Professor Marcia Chatelain’s win in the category of history for her work, “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.” Small burst of pride from this GU alumna.
Scientists convert used plastic bottles into vanilla flavouring
Production of chemical could help make recycling more attractive and tackle global plastic pollution
Vanillin is used widely in the food and cosmetics industries and is an important bulk chemical used to make pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and herbicides. Global demand is growing and in 2018 was 37,000 tonnes, far exceeding the supply from natural vanilla beans. About 85% of vanillin is currently synthesised from chemicals derived from fossil fuels.
AHEM! Canada, please take notice.
If only the Boston-Montreal service could be restored! One of my favorite memories.
Amtrak is a top travel choice in the Northeast. With an ally in the White House, it wants trains in the rest of America.
Biden is helping to put passenger rail back in the spotlight — and train enthusiasts hope his influence will put more trains on the tracks.

A must-see touch of humour
Danish PSA for wearing bicycle helmets is the best Viking movie in 63 years
If only more public service announcement and political ad creators would realize that clever is the best way to get the message across.

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