Wednesday Night #2064

Written by  //  October 6, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2064

Pandora Papers: Rich and powerful deny wrongdoing after dump of purported secrets a (news)worthy successor to the Panama Papers. With endless spinoff stories like Global hunt for looted treasures leads to offshore trusts, the Pandora Papers should be good for weeks of digging and denial.
On Tuesday’s Diplomatic Community Following the Money – the Pandora Papers bombshells, Jeremy Kinsman reminds us that amidst all the ‘prurient interest’ in which leaders and celebrities have been identified, we seem to be forgetting that the money in question belongs to us – citizens who pay their taxes.
In the second half, he and Larry Haas spar politely over the dispute between Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Enbridge over Line 5. Canada has now invoked the 1977 treaty with the U.S. Jeremy points out that the agreement was drawn up at Washington’s request to ensure the secure movement of petroleum from Alaska to the lower 48 states.

That was fun. NOT.
Gone in Minutes, Out for Hours: Outage Shakes Facebook
When apps used by billions of people worldwide blinked out, lives were disrupted, businesses were cut off from customers — and some Facebook employees were locked out of their offices.
The outage lasted over five hours, before some apps slowly flickered back to life
Facebook and its family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, went down at the same time on Monday, taking out a vital communications platform used by billions and adding heat to a company already under intense scrutiny.
Combined with Tuesday’s testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen altogether not a great day for Facebook or Zuckerberg.
In her Letter of October 5, 2021 Heather Cox Richardson (what would we do without her?) connects the Facebook story to the U.S. debt ceiling crisis
While information about Facebook has demonstrated the dangers the social media giant poses for our democracy, the congressional fight over the debt ceiling has brought into relief a different struggle for the same cause..
Today, what we initially regarded as a light-hearted suggestion from Paul Krugman seems to be gaining some credibility. The trillion-dollar coin: Is it a solution to the debt ceiling drama — or a gimmick?
Enter the $1 trillion coin. The idea is that the president could order the treasury secretary to mint a $1 trillion coin out of platinum, then deposit it with Federal Reserve. Then, just like that, the government would have an additional $1 trillion to pay off its obligations. The debt ceiling is no longer an issue.
The move has been pitched as a way to help the federal government avoid a potential default and shutdown, but some experts say the idea is unrealistic.
Gloria Calhoun helpfully sent this message: A couple of weeks ago someone asked about whether raising the debt ceiling required a simple majority or sixty votes. It would seem that “it depends,” mainly on what else is included in the enabling legislation. This link is to a good WSJ explanation from last week of the issue and the options.

On September 30, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was marked across the country with marches, ceremonies and deeply moving reflections. Unfortunately, the impact was marred by the news that Trudeau spent 1st Truth and Reconciliation Day in Tofino on vacation, contradicting his announced itinerary and thus by-passing any official duties in Ottawa in favor of taking a family holiday. An extraordinarily inept, if not callous, move that has embarrassed and angered many Liberals and could have long-term consequences, though perhaps not as extreme as John Ibbitson’s suggestion:  Tofino trip may only hasten Trudeau’s departure.
Will his apology suffice to calm the troubled waters?

It’s Nobel time
In what might be interpreted as a strong lead-up to COP26
Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Study of Humanity’s Role in Changing Climate
Three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for work that is essential to understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing, pinpointing the effect of human behavior on those changes and ultimately predicting the impact of global warming.
The winners were Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University, Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, and Giorgio Parisi of the Sapienza University of Rome. …the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said this is the first time the Physics prize has been awarded specifically to a climate scientist. “The discoveries being recognized this year demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations,” said Thors Hans Hansson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to Scientists for Tool That Builds Better Catalysts
Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan were honored for work that spurred research into new drugs and reduced the effect of chemistry on the environment.
Sense of touch and heat research wins Nobel Prize
Scientists who discovered how our bodies feel the warmth of the sun or the hug of a loved one have won the Nobel Prize.
David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, from the US, share the 2021 prize in Medicine or Physiology for their work on sensing touch and temperature.
They unpicked how our bodies convert physical sensations into electrical messages in the nervous system.
Their findings could lead to new ways of treating pain.

Disturbing news from Singapore
Singapore parliament to debate ‘foreign interference’ law
Controversial legislation has been described as having ‘totalitarian leanings’.
Singapore’s parliament is debating controversial legislation [Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA)] that the government says is necessary to counter alleged foreign interference, but opposition parties, rights groups, social media platforms and others worry is too broad in scope.
The law will give authorities sweeping powers, including compelling internet, social media platforms and website operators to provide user information, block content and remove applications. (See long reads: A response to claims made about me during the FICA debate

Bill 96
Céline Cooper advised that John McMahon (Director General of Vanier College), John Halpin (Director General of John Abbott College), Diane Gauvin (Director General of Dawson College) and Richard Filion (former Director General of Dawson College and Special Advisor) would present a brief before the Committee of Culture and Education Tuesday October 5th on behalf of the English College Steering Committee under the time slot reserved for the Consortium of English-language CEGEPs, Colleges and Universities of Quebec.
The presentation will not speak to preoccupations the Universities may or may not have regarding Bill 96.
Recordings of the presentations are archived on this page.
The brief will be available online here.
For reference, here is the link to the parliamentary hearing schedule for Bill 96.

In Stephen Toope ‘Too woke’ – Canadian academic star leaves top Cambridge university job amid intense criticism, the National Post takes up the story of Stephen Toope’s announced departure from Cambridge and counters some of the vicious statements made in the Spectator.

I can’t decide whether the author has tongue firmly planted in cheek, or not.
So appropriate to the linguistic pretensions and battles closer to home.
Pas de souci! The French war on saying ‘no worries’

Long reads
COP26: examining the business environment impact of climate pledges
(The Economist Intelligence Unit) Climate policy is becoming an increasingly important determinant of the business environment. The renewed and increased ambition of climate pledges that will come out of COP26 will spur new regulations, support green innovation and make additional financing available.
Available now, our free latest report has been written to help businesses and investors understand where and how climate pledges have the potential to change the business environment.

How Biden Could End the Debt-Ceiling Crisis by ‘Minting the Coin’
A lengthy examination of the options

A response to claims made about me during the FICA debate
Last night, the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act was passed by Parliament, just three weeks after it was first introduced in Parliament. This was despite concerns from civil society, lawyers, academics, tech companies, parliamentarians, and a significant number of Singaporeans.

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