Wednesday Night #2060

Written by  //  September 8, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Quandary of the week:
What is the correct spelling of Shanah Tova as my neighbour writes it? I have seen it with an h at the end of both words (e,g, You can also say ‘Shanah Tovah um’tukah’, which means ‘may you have a good and sweet new year.’) and without an h at the end of either one.
So before incorrectly conveying New Year wishes, I consulted my expert aka Sandy W, who responded:
“Well, actually it is spelled properly in Hebrew only. However, since most people do not speak Hebrew, it all comes down to Transliteration. Personally, I would write it SHANA TOVA (Sometimes you might see it with an H at the end of SHA-NAH (how it is pronounced) But NEVER with an H at the end of TOVA -Although, given how it is pronounced.. TOV-AH- I can see why people do it.)”
Whatever the spelling, the wishes are sincere.

From the Economist:
Hard acts to follow, from Angela Merkel to the Queen
Being the next German chancellor is like playing James Bond after Sean Connery

Politico introduces a German-English portmanteau that captures a new feeling that’s spreading across the internet, perhaps even faster than the Delta variant: Vaxenfreude. It’s the joy the vaccinated feel when the unvaccinated get Covid-19. We’ve all felt it, even if we’re ashamed about it.
But vaxenfreude is also a dark spirit. It’s the smug finger-pointing and grinning the vaccinated majority sends in the direction of the unvaccinated sick, at least in the very online corners of the public square. The pandemic passed the civilized plain of “we’re all in this together” long ago, and is driving down a highway toward a valley where that feeling of togetherness is shared only by those with vaccines in arms.

On the two Michaels’ 1,000th day of captivity, hundreds march in Ottawa
1,000 days since Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China a group of family, friends and supporters gathered for a march in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept 5, 2021 …the Ottawa march was just one of more than 10 held across Canada and abroad on Sunday. Others took place in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Brussels, Budapest, New York, Washington, Seoul and Singapore
Federal leaders vow to bring ‘Two Michaels’ home as both mark 1,000 days in prison
Trudeau said he had spoken with their families and that he would “not rest” until the two Michaels return home.
“There are also a lot of things we are doing in a less visible way with the American government, with partners and allies, and indeed putting pressure directly on the Chinese government as well. We will not rest until the two Michael’s(sic) are once again home with their families.”
Earlier in the week:
Robert Fowler: I felt abandoned by Canada when I was held captive. I can’t imagine how the Michaels must feel
The fates of Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor – and also those of Robert Hall, John Ridsdel, and all those loyal Afghans who have been abandoned by Canada in Kabul – will leave an indelible stain on the legacy of the Trudeau government.

Happy Belated Birthday greetings to Cleo who reminds us that there are many international developments to which we should be paying attention, although we would argue that North American navel-gazing is appropriate right now in light of the forthcoming Canadian election, the blowback from the departure of the US and allies from Afghanistan and, of course, the two Canadian Michaels. In How China buys foreign politicians: A case study she describes the pervasive and malevolent influence of the PRC in the Solomon Islands leading to “Almost exactly two years ago, in September 2019, the Solomon Islands, a country of around 650,000 people in the South Western Pacific, switched recognition from Taiwan to China.”

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, AP’s They were some of 9/11’s biggest names. Where are they now? provides graphic illustrations of sic transit gloria mundi in many cases, and a quick history lesson for some of the younger generation.
Another AP story celebrates what anchoring the news meant before cable and social media.
Three men guided millions through horror of Sept. 11, 2001
Most Americans were guided through the unimaginable by one of three men: Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Peter Jennings of ABC and Dan Rather of CBS.
“They were the closest thing that America had to national leaders on 9/11,” says Garrett Graff, author of “The Only Plane in the Sky,” an oral history of the attack. “They were the moral authority for the country on that first day, fulfilling a very historical role of basically counseling the country through this tragedy at a moment its political leadership was largely silent and largely absent from the conversation.”

C Uday Bhaskar: Post Afghanistan exit, US must confront the bitter truths of its global ‘war on terror’
The ‘new’ Taliban regime in Afghanistan: different methods but the same political goal
The Taliban’s ideology has not changed, nor has their ultimate political goal of establishing their version of an “Islamic government”. The post-2001 Taliban have, however, shown themselves to be pragmatic and open to the influence of external actors. A few strategic incentives, such as conditional foreign aid and investments, may induce the Taliban to show some restraint, at least in their public outlook. However, their current political pragmatism should not be confused with ideological moderation.
In the aftermath of the U.S. departure from Kabul, we may expect recriminations of all sorts and political hues, but also heartrending stories of those who were evacuated and those who did not make it.
After a university falls in Afghanistan, a D.C. organization scrambles to keep students safe and still learning
‘What Will Happen to Me?’ An Uncertain Future Awaits Afghans Who Fled
Tens of thousands clambered onto evacuation planes bound for Qatar. Many are now in limbo in overflowing processing centers, fearful of what comes next.
Visa problems persist for international students
Striking diplomats mean delays for processing visa applications
The federal government and the union representing diplomats and immigration officers abroad have been locked in a contract negotiation battle for months. As part of escalating job action measures, diplomats at 15 key visa application centres — including Beijing, Delhi, Sao Paolo and Mexico City — have withdrawn their services.
Identical problem under the Harper government – eight years ago!
Foreign service strike slowing down visa applications

The election campaign
On Wednesday night, the five elected leaders (Max Bernier does not make cut) will participate in the second French-language debate and on Thursday evening, they will meet again for the campaign’s only English-language debate. While Leaders’ debates usually don’t move the needle much, CBC’s Nick Boisvert argues that this election could buck that trend because the Liberals and Conservatives are locked in a virtual dead heat in national polls — CBC’s Poll Tracker has the Conservatives with a slight edge in overall support, but slightly favours the Liberals to win more seats — which has normally skeptical observers saying this week’s debates could in fact alter the course of the election.
Note that the predetermined topics in the English debate do not include foreign affairs, which means the leaders may not discuss Canada’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan or relations with China, among other topics.
Gary Mason writes: Campaign hatred is a frightening sign of our COVID times
There were always going to be consequences that flowed from holding a federal election amid a pandemic that has fuelled a frightening rise in anger and hate in Canada.
And we are beginning to see them playing out now.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign has been dogged in recent days by demonstrators representing the most contemptible element of the opposition that exists toward COVID-19 public-health restrictions. For some, Mr. Trudeau has become a polarizing symbol of the “unjust repression” to which these folks have been subjected.
Along with sensible people of all political persuasions, we deplore the recent disruptive, bordering on violent, demonstrations that have marred the (Trudeau) campaign.
However, as Nik Nanos points out (Protesters at Trudeau’s campaign events are ‘punching above their weight’), even though the protesters are stealing the spotlight from the Liberals’ policy pledges, they have also given Trudeau the opportunity to come out strong[ly] against their behaviour and potentially earn more support from those who are opposed to violence on the campaign trail .
Less than a week ago, the Nanos poll showed that Three-quarters of Canadians don’t see the election as necessary, but will this cost the LPC the election?
Rhetoric Check: Parliament wasn’t toxic — Justin Trudeau just wants a majority

Andrew Caddell‘s column In praise of the ‘common man’ celebrating ‘ordinary’ people is a delight, and a timely reminder: “In this era of celebrity and fame, and especially during this election campaign, we overlook the enormous contributions of so-called “ordinary” people to our world.
… It is a reminder the human condition renders every one of us ordinary, but with the capacity to be exceptional. The so-called “common” people fight wars, build cars, serve the public and grow our economy. They do great things and every day prove none of us is better than the other. It is something our politicians might remember as they seek our votes on September 20: a little humility can go a long way.”

And then there are the extraordinary people:
All of the participants in the Paralympic Games which ended  on Sunday, Emotional Day as Tokyo Games Come to an End including, of course the Canadian medallists Canada bags 21 medals in the most unique Paralympic Games in history
AND
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime – (neither of whose names would indicate a Quebecois de souche) There is little more to say than WOW!

Mark your calendars !
QCGN Bill 96 Hearings
Join us as the QCGN hosts hearings for Quebec’s Bill 96, an Act respecting the French language.
Dates: Thursday Sept. 9, Monday, September 13, Tuesday Sept. 14, Wednesday Sept. 15
Time: 10 a.m – 1:30 p.m.
The hearings will be hosted through a Zoom Webinar. A secure link will be shared prior to the event.
Registrees will receive a link to each date of the hearing.
Contact us at [email protected] for any additional information

On 30 September, MIGS executive director Kyle Matthews will interview Human Rights Watch’s executive director Kenneth Roth ! Don’t forget to register for a unique conversation about the state of human rights, the post-Covid pandemic recovery, and climate change.

We thank Gloria Calhoun for This is how you mess with Texas. While we can sympathize with the author’s cheer-leading, we cannot endorse the suggestion that we should all move to Texas and take up the battle against the appalling right-wing legislation that prevails. The most recent atrocity being the abortion ban that has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

Varia
Further to a somewhat heated discussion (thanks to Contrarian Catherine) about the Inspector Gamache novels and Three Pines, comes the news that Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series is to be adapted for screen by Amazon Prime Video
I highly recommend Why Louise Penny had to step outside her comfort zone to write the latest Armand Gamache mystery for both initiated and uninitiated.
Louise Penny talk at George Washington University September 2019
Thanks to Sandy for this delightful follow-on to last week’s discussion between John Curtin and Chris.
A comparison between Yiddish and German. “highlighting some of the differences between German and Yiddish with respect to vocabulary, grammar (especially word order), phonology (sounds) and vowels. The sentences were read aloud in English and my friend Frank, a native German speaker from Bavaria (but speaking Hochdeutsch/standard German) translated them into German and I translated them into my non-native Ukrainian Yiddish.”

Long reads
For Labor Day: Heather Cox Richardson’s September 5, 2021 traces how Frances Perkins, and all those who worked with her, transformed the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911 into the heart of our nation’s basic social safety net.
The WaPo story How the rise of Politico shifted political journalism off course presents the case for exactly the kind of thoughtful analysis that Dr. Heather Cox Richardson gives us daily.
The war in Afghanistan has shaped an entire generation in the West
Service in Afghanistan has shaped an entire generation of policymakers in the West, writes Constanze Stelzenmüller, but the fate of the Afghan people will weigh heavy on their collective conscience for years to come.
A very long read, but superb primer from the Canadian Global Affairs Institute for anyone who is not a political wonk of the highest order
What Diplomats Need to Know about Canadian Elections
By Colin Robertson, CGAI Vice-President, and Maureen Boyd, Chair, Parliamentary Centre and CGAI Fellow
Why We Can’t Turn the Corner on Covid
After a hot vax summer that wasn’t, it’s clearer than ever that there will be no easy end to the pandemic.
It seems the narrow window to wipe the coronavirus completely off the face of the globe has slipped through our unvaccinated fingers.
But just because we aren’t looking at the best-case scenario, doesn’t mean that we’re now in a worst-case scenario. Instead, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, we’re looking at something in the manageable middle
Is the world we value falling apart?
The loudest view on campus is that everything is the fault of white men. The teaching of history often promotes this, spreading through other, improbable bodies, such as the National Trust, the British Museum or Kew Gardens. As the newly launched counter movement, History Reclaimed, says: ‘Activists sometimes assert that “facing up” to a past they present as overwhelmingly and permanently shameful is the path to a better and more “inclusive” future. But the real effect — perhaps the true aim — of their actions is nihilistic destruction.’ Such destruction is good for Beijing, the Taliban, Isis-K and all entities with our worst interests at heart.

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