Wednesday Night #2058

Written by  //  August 25, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

With the looming critical date of 31 August, it is pretty much all about  Afghanistan
As many of you know, a group relentlessly spearheaded by Désirée McGraw has been doing everything it could to assist a young Afghan-Canadian family whom we know to evacuate Kabul. The story of this family’s efforts and frustrations was told on The National in the lead story of last Friday (20 August) by Susan Ormiston Canadian Afghans stranded in Kabul frantic for help from Canadian government.
I am happy and relieved that the group of 15 that includes ‘our’ family, all Canadian citizens or permanent residents, is now safely out of Afghanistan.
But there remain thousands more Canadian citizens and Afghan refugees in dire straits, and who lack the access, dedication and ability to mobilize of a Désirée.
Meanwhile, Canada’s special forces are currently working inside and outside the confines of the airport to ensure Canadians and eligible Afghans can get onto planes destined for Canada.
But as Politico points out “when the White House announced [on Tuesday] that it would not be extending an Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, it not only prompted concerns that thousands of American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies could be left stranded in Kabul, it also meant, for logistical reasons, that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan had to accelerate.”
Biden pours salt into wounds of relations with Europe at G7 meeting
Note: The Taliban insistence in a direct meeting on Monday with the CIA director and master of the backchannel, William Burns, that the deadline had to be honoured meant from the US perspective the risk of a military confrontation, or a terrorist suicide bombing by Islamic State, at the airport was too great.

The Afghan exit debacle – everybody’s unhappy as the US calls the shotsJeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas  are, as always, informative:

Worthwhile read from Reuters
What happens after Biden’s evacuation force leaves Afghanistan?
By Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom

As almost always, Gwynne Dyer offers a provocative view:
Gwynne Dyer: The Islamist dead-end
The Taliban’s victory was discounted in advance years ago, and the idea of provoking U.S. invasions as recruiting tools for Islamist revolutions is now very old hat. Even Washington can see through it.
Violent Islamist movements, as current events in Afghanistan demonstrate, have had some success in Muslim countries that have been invaded by the United States. But they have failed everywhere else, and the whole Islamist ideology is getting long in the tooth. Revolutionary ideologies rarely prosper after they pass the age of fifty.
The only way to mobilise enough Muslims behind the Islamist dream, [Osama bin Laden] believed, was to provoke a direct assault on Islam by the infidels. And the only way to motivate the lazy infidels to play their allotted role in this strategy was to attack them directly – not to conquer them, which was impossible, but to trick them into invading Muslim countries.

Cleo Paskal writes: In case of interest to some, for the past few months I’ve been on this Quad Task Force (working on the undersea cables part). The final report has just been released.
Quad Economy & Technology Task Force: A Time For Concerted Action There will not be a quiz.
Background: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the “Quad” – has taken on increased relevance in recent years as its four member countries recognize that to compete effectively with a rising China, they need to combine their resources and capabilities and take collective action across the political, economic, technological and even military domains. The four nations demonstrated their commitment to the quadrilateral grouping as a key pillar of their strategies in the Indo-Pacific region by holding the first-ever Quad summit this past March. At that virtual meeting, the four countries committed to establishing working groups on vaccine production and distribution, emerging and critical technologies, and climate change.
The Quad Economy and Technology Task Force was conceived in 2020 to study promising areas for increased cooperation between the Quad countries of Australia, India, Japan and the United States beyond the security maritime partnership they already have established.

Canada: Federal Election 2021 Week 2
Have the Liberals miscalculated?  The Vast majority of Canadians believe Trudeau could have waited a year until calling election seen as a ‘power grab’ – a whopping 69 per cent of respondents said they believed that the election could have waited until next year or even later. Nik Nanos reported that according to the nightly tracking ending Sunday, the Liberals and Conservatives were  running in a statistical dead heat. …  ballot support for the Liberals sits at 32.5 per cent, while the Conservatives are at 31.4 per cent support. However, on Wednesday, Nik Nanos noted the shift from last week’s polling data that showed the Conservatives gaining momentum during the first week of the campaign.
According to the latest nightly tracking conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News and The Globe and Mail, support for the Liberals is at 35.9 per cent, the Conservatives are at 32.7 per cent, and the NDP have dropped down to 16.8 per cent. Is this due to some success of the Liberals’ attacks  on Conservatives’ health-care stance?
If shamelessness is the key to success in politics, O’Toole is looking good says the inimitable Andrew Coyne:
“The Conservative leader has not just survived the inevitable Liberal attacks in the campaign’s first week, he has seemed almost to invite them, luring the Grits into wasting valuable rhetorical ammunition on a series of dummy controversies.
On vaccine mandates, on abortion, on health care, Mr. O’Toole has said things that at first sound difficult, controversial, or at least noteworthy, but which on closer examination turn out to mean nothing – nothing, that is, substantively different from Liberal policy, the status quo, or both. Liberal attempts to turn these into wedge issues have accordingly largely fizzled.”

Can someone please explain the statement that Trudeau says the Liberals would spend $3 billion over four years starting in 2022 to hire 7,500 family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners. Since when are doctors, nurses, etc. employees of the federal government? How about working with professional associations to streamline the process for acceptance of foreign credentials? He is also pledging an extra $6 billion to wrestle with wait lists. Again, we ask, How?

Kerry Black, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair, Integrated Knowledge, Engineering and Sustainable Communities, University of Calgary writes:
Progress stops when we create and dismantle infrastructure programs every federal election
What we are building is not as important as why we are building it. Infrastructure investments can’t just be an election promise, they must be a national priority — one that moves beyond the politics.

The legislative process in the U.S provides considerable drama and there is some good news:
Democrats just launched a missile at the GOP’s fortress of minority rule
After House Democrats passed the $3.5 trillion blueprint to move the ”human infrastructure” bill’s process forward on Tuesday, they also passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.The Lewis act’s key provisions restore federal preclearance requirements for changes in voting rules, and make it easier to challenge discriminatory voter suppression measures, both responses to the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, in 2013 and this year.
But the act also seeks to limit the court’s ability to uphold measures making voting harder and to strike down measures making voting easier. It requires the court, in hearing cases on election rules, to put greater weight on the “public’s interest in expanding access to the right to the vote.”
Tucked inside that bill are provisions that take direct aim at minority rule, but not in an obvious way. We often talk about individual features of our system — voter suppression, extreme gerrymanders, the electoral college — as anti-majoritarian. But we don’t talk enough about how various features interlock to create anti-majoritarian structures that are more impregnable than the sum of their parts.
Meanwhile, despite the concerted effort to suppress voter rights in a number of Republican-governed states, there are a number of States Making Voting Easier
While Georgia moves to restrict voting rights, Virginia and California offer models for legislation that expands ballot accessibility.
The great policies being adopted in blue America
Democrats in control of state governments are adopting a lot of really good, bold policies, measures that would have difficulty winning approval at the federal level, where Democrats have narrow margins in Congress and must be wary of backlash from more conservative voters. This development is great news for the 40 percent of Americans who live in the 17 states where Democrats dominate state government.

Varia
Not only local restaurants and businesses have problems recruiting staff, as Bloomberg CityLab points out in Desperate U.S. Cities Pitch Wall Street-Style Sign-On Bonuses
The labor constraints jeopardize essential services such as trash pick-up, and exacerbate shortages in demanding jobs like 911 dispatchers that predated the Covid-19 crisis.
Thousands of U.S. cities, states and towns are experiencing the most acute labor shortage in recent memory, affecting positions like electricians, police officers and 911 dispatchers. Local governments are offering significant sign-on bonuses, but even those incentives may not be enough.
Some 780,000 government jobs remain vacant compared to pre-pandemic levels … Regional governments have a tougher time than businesses because they can’t compete with private sector wages, and can rarely can offer benefits like remote work. In other cases, local governments are waiting for federal aid to fill vacant positions
Josh Freed: If I’m bagging my own stuff, why am I not getting paid?
I like talking to cashiers, not listening to machines. I like employing people, not deploying machines that use customers as unpaid labour.
Amid a global banana crisis, Puerto Rico’s abundant biodiversity offers a taste of hope
As the United States continues to eat the Cavendish and worry about its demise, in Puerto Rico, robust crops of different varieties are being sold by small farmers, used in the cuisine, and turned into vegan muffins and compost. Though this is a colony where 85 percent of food is imported, a culture of agriculture and farming wisdom remains, represented in the bounty of bananas and the generosity contained in each bunch.
Coldhearted Cuomo Ditches His Dog at Governor’s Mansion
The Albany Times Union reports that Cuomo has been asking staff members whether they want to take Captain off his hands. … Perhaps unrelatedly, former Cuomo spokesperson Melissa DeRosa said on Monday that [Cuomo] does not want to run for office again.
The jury is still out on this story.
Henri failed to live up to the alarming headlines (Forecasters Warn That Henri Could Be The Worst Storm To Hit The Northeast in 30 Years) and by Monday was considered a post-tropical cyclone, albeit still capable of triggering downpours, flooding and even tornados in New England.
It’s not just a heat wave, it’s a record-breaker. And it’s not going away

Long reads
Alexei Navalny calls for tougher action on global corruption
Exclusive: Russian opposition leader likely to infuriate Kremlin with letter dictated from behind bars
A long and disheartening dissection
Miscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan Unravels
President Biden promised an orderly withdrawal. That pledge, compounded by missed signals and miscalculations, proved impossible.
for a different perspective
The Media Manufactured Biden’s Political ‘Fiasco’ in Afghanistan “Straight news” has chosen sanctimony over circumspection.
Simply put, there is no proud way to lose a war to a cult of heroin-dealing child rapists (especially when your side in that war featured no small number of men who fit a similar description)

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