Wednesday Night #2056

Written by  //  August 11, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Welcome back, Marc Nicholson after two years of Covid-imposed absence. We will be taking advantage of Alex’s invitation to experiment with our first hybrid Wednesday Night, under the watchful eye of Ali.

The Tokyo Olympics are over. Women athletes dominated the news; the names Simone Biles, Allyson Felix and Kristina Timanovskaya will always be associated with Tokyo, but not only because of their athletic achievements.
So, The next Olympics is less than 6 months away — and promises to be even more controversial

The IPCC Report, known to its intimates as AR6 Climate Change 2021 is out.
IPCC report: global emissions must peak by 2025 to keep warming at 1.5°C – we need deeds not words
Keith Baker, Researcher in Fuel Poverty and Energy Policy, Built Environment Asset Management (BEAM) Centre, Glasgow Caledonian University
(The Conversation) The report’s conclusion that staying below 2°C this century will only happen if emissions reach net zero by 2050 is well publicised. But there is one, rather more urgent addendum to that: global emissions must peak some time in the middle of this decade. In other words, within the next few years.
More UN Conference on climate change COP21 Paris & aftermath 2018-

Big win for $1T infrastructure bill: Dems, GOP come together
The U.S. Senate has possibly come to its senses with a bipartisan vote for the infrastructure bill [How Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans learned to stop worrying about a Biden victory and love the infrastructure bill]. Not evident in the early Wednesday morning vote on the budget plan.

In response to the news that Michael Spavor was found guilty of spying and sentenced to 11 years in prison by Chinese court, Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement that the sentence is ‘absolutely unacceptable and unjust’ raises some questions. If unacceptable, what can be done about it?
Bloomberg sums it up: Your move, Canada.
Since Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on U.S. fraud allegations in December 2018, China has treated the battle for her release as a game of geopolitical chess. Take our queen, we’ll take your pawns — in this case, a trio of Canadian citizens.
But the solution lies in Washington, not Ottawa. President Biden has said he will seek to secure their release. But that could require the United States to drop or modify its case against Ms. Meng, so that she can return to China.
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas: the China-Canada hostage game ramps up and the Afghanistan picture darkens
Much More on Canada-China 2019-2021 and see long reads  below for Afghanistan.

The federal election-that-nobody-wants looms.
Andrew Caddell‘s column this week: The PM should beware karma in deciding to call an electionThe only reason the election will be called is Liberal Party brainiacs believe they will get the majority they have been lusting for since Oct. 21, 2019.
“Sometime this week, if the pundits are correct, the prime minister will visit newly installed Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall and pull the plug on the weirdest Parliament ever.”
David Herle predicts “the writ is gonna drop sometime in the next 48-144 hours.”
Politico Canada casts a cynical eye on the leaders’ run-up activities It would be weird not to have an election.
Aaron Wherry: Election soon, or election later? For Trudeau, it’s a gamble either way
Foreign policy is never a vote-getter in Canada (or most other countries) except among (some of) the chattering class, and most Wednesday Nighters. Paul Wells’ piece, Justin Trudeau puts his (small) mark on the world for the September issue of Maclean’s is worth reading.

Regulation of social media is a hot topic and much debated, not only in the U.S. [Inside the White House-Facebook Rift Over Vaccine MisinformationFrustrations grew behind the scenes among top leaders on both sides, potentially hurting the government’s efforts to overcome the pandemic.]
(The Irish Times) Era of self-regulation by social media giants must end
(Daily Sabah) Turkey reviews Germany’s model for social media regulation
(ZDNet) Social Warming, book review: Temperature rising, regulation required – We can change social media tools to derive the benefits we seek and limit their harms, argues Charles Arthur. We just need the will to make those changes.
The last point in Peter Berezin‘s latest weekly report These Three High-Flying Equity Sectors Could Come Crashing Back Down To Earth has generated unusual response activity.
The Highlights
• Investors have grown enamored with online retailers (AMZN), payment processing companies (V, MA, PYPL, SQ), and social media companies (FB, SNAP).
• All three sectors are likely to experience headwinds over the next 12 months as life returns to normal following the pandemic.
• Looking further out, market saturation, increased competition, and heightened regulation all pose risks to these sectors.
• Internet companies in general, and social media firms in particular, will face increased scrutiny not just for their monopolistic practices, but for the mental harm they are causing young people.
• Just like cigarettes are heavily regulated due to their addictive qualities, the same could happen to social media.
We think there is a 50/50 chance that governments will start restricting social media usage only to adults over the age of 18 by the end of the decade, a move that could decimate the sector. (emphasis added)
Note that he/BCA is not alone in this opinion: an NBC opinion piece espouses the same theme the Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies need to be treated like Big Tobacco – The surgeon general’s new advisory shows their product is in need of serious consumer protection regulations.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is stepping down, ironically paving the way for New York’s first woman governor, Kathy Hochul. In a WaPo opinion piece, The last act in Cuomo’s father-son tragedy, Matt Bai muses “With New York’s governor, the story always comes back to father and son, the legacy he can never outrun.”

Varia
A young friend recently gave me a new perspective on the effects of the Covid lockdown: the need to ‘socialize’ the cohort born in the last two and a half years.  He  writes The challenges involved in safely coordinating visits and travel with family and friends has made for a strange first year for our youngest. His older brother, now two and a half, has also, of course, spent the majority of his time on Earth living in this strange quasi-normal state. As a result, they are both even more shocked and impressed by something as simple as a visit to the hardware store than any typical young boy might otherwise be. While visits with other people are now just finally becoming common again.”

How effective are vaccines? Here’s what the stats mean … and what they don’t
As professors of statistics who explain technical concepts to non-specialists, Sorana Froda, and Fabrice Larribe, of UQAM’s Département de Mathématiques, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), shed light on what the vaccine efficacy numbers mean.
As China cracks down on cryptocurrency, crypto groups gather in Singapore
So far, over 300 crypto companies from different parts of the world have applied for licenses to operate in Singapore, according to Bloomberg, and many have already launched their trading operations in the city-state.
Are Wind Turbines a Danger to Wildlife? Ask the Dogs.
Humans are terrible at finding bats and birds killed by wind turbines. Dogs are great at it.
‘Jurassic Pompeii’ yields thousands of ‘squiggly wiggly’ fossils
Specialists in fossil echinoderms believe the Cotswold quarry will help them better categorise the species’ different life stages, their ecology and their proper position in evolutionary history.
To paraphrase that old cliche: the textbooks might not need to be rewritten but some extensive notes will almost certainly have to be added to the margins.
Has anyone been caught by this scam?
Fake news alert: David Suzuki does not own a CBD gummy company and Kevin O’Leary is not suing him
Online scam circulating via fake news stories and Facebook pages tricks people into buying non-existent products from fake company

Long reads
Thanks to Linda Renaud for Ron Wallace’s Opinion: Biden and Trudeau are Putin and Xi’s useful energy idiots
The Biden and Trudeau administrations should pause to reflect carefully on just how much rope Vladimir Putin and Chairman Xi have already sold them
I’ve Hit My Climate Tipping Point
Understanding global warming intellectually is not the same as feeling its presence in your daily life—or seeing photos of a 50-foot wall of fire.
How Joe Biden Could Save Tens of Thousands of Afghan Allies
Before the fall of Saigon, two American diplomats risked their careers to save Vietnamese imperilled by a slow-moving bureaucracy.
Deceptions and lies: What really happened in Afghanistan
Part one of an excerpt from “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War.”
– based on interviews with more than 1,000 people who played direct roles in the war, as well as thousands of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
A better way to regulate online hate speech: require social media companies to bear a duty of care to users

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