Wednesday Night #2114

Written by  //  September 21, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As we have said before, no-one does pomp & circumstance better than the British! And the people responded along every inch of the last journey of HRH Queen Elizabeth II that culminated in the state funeral at Westminster Abbey and a procession through central London that took her to her final resting place at Windsor Castle. They came in droves to central London, arriving before dawn and flocking to blockaded streets. Some had camped overnight. Others made hours-long journeys in the darkness to score a prime location for the royal spectacle. They stood on stepladders, or scaled mailboxes, or huddled before giant screens in Hyde Park to get the best view they could of the funeral. In Parks and on Post Boxes, Crowds Say Farewell to the Queen The 11 days since she died have been a coordinated exercise in public grief as Britain comes to terms with the loss of its longest-serving monarch.
Spider cameo and Tindall’s medals – social media reacts to quirky side of funeral coverage
Twitter users were less reverent than those at the Queen’s funeral, and had plenty of jokes and questions as the ceremony unfolded
Of course, the corgis had to make an appearance

So many world leaders in one place makes for diplomatic minefield
Spare a thought for the Élysée official tasked with telling President Macron that in London he would have to get on le bus. “He would have thought ‘De Gaulle never got on a bus, and I won’t either’,” said Alexandra Hall Hall, a former British ambassador to Georgia who is surprised by Britain’s bus arrangement. “Can you imagine the King of Thailand nestling next to President Erdogan [of Turkey] on a bus? I find it incredible that they’ve been planning this thing for years and years, and yet we haven’t figured out a way to get heads of state in private cars to Westminster Abbey.”
Whether or not Britain is treated to the spectacle of the Emperor and Empress of Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne descending from a bus remains uncertain: news of an exemption for America’s President Biden, who will be allowed to pull up at the entrance to the abbey in “The Beast”, his indestructible limousine, prompted a flurry of lobbying by foreign ambassadors urging the government not to subject their rulers to the indignity of what the funeral planners call “collective arrangements”.
It was then reported the Biden exception would apply to heads of G7 countries. But this left countless other dignitaries feeling left out. “It’s a bit like a family wedding,” said Hall Hall. “For the sake of the hosts, everyone will be on their best behaviour, but behind the scenes they’ll be saying ‘why have we been stuck in this bus? Why have we been put in row 34?’ It’s bad enough when you have to deal with a difficult uncle or a drunk ex-wife, but you’ve got this in spades with this funeral, it’s a diplomatic minefield.”
And it all went off without a hitch.

Let the games begin!
Note that The leaders of Russia, China, India and Ethiopia will miss the UN General Assembly.
However, The war in Ukraine was in the spotlight on Wednesday.
The world’s “blood should run cold” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden told dozens of global leaders during the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, a few hours after Russia undertook a significant expansion of its war effort.
“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state,” Mr. Biden said, recounting what he said was “horrifying evidence” of Russian war crimes.
Russia and Putin were center stage thanks to his pre-recorded address to the nation on Wednesday in which Putin explicitly raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict, approved a plan to annex a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary, and called up 300,000 reservists.
China grabbed a few headlines by reacting to Putin’s speech
China has called for ‘ceasefire through dialogue’
Prominent among the evil doers was Iran‘s  President Ebrahim Raisi, who insisted that his country was a model of justice and human rights, as social media video shows protests spreading across Iran in the aftermath of the death of Mahsa Amini.
Ali reminds us that “Ibrahim Raieisi was one of the three so called judges who sent thousands of political prisoners to death in 80s in 5 min court sessions. His presence at the UN is a disgrace and insult to the very notion of human rights .”
Meanwhile,  President Biden criticized Iran and China on human rights and security issues., and pledged that the United States would work to defend human rights throughout the world.

Canada denounces ‘sham’ referenda in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine
Canada’s ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae, speaks to Power & Politics about the proposed referenda.

The world’s woes spill over the United Nations; and Putin’s Ukraine referendum stunt – playing a losing hand?
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas focus on the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the assessment of the Secretary-General “we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction”, identifying the major problems the world is facing, the different degrees of their impact on the developed and developing world, and the utter failure of democracies to bring about solutions. Thus the election of a right-wing government in Sweden, likely to be followed by Italy. They manage to devote some time to the Putin referenda proposal (Russia moves to formally annex swathes of Ukraine), conjecturing that it might represent an off-ramp for Putin, but would be a hard sell to Zelensky. No mention of Erdogan’s declarations to PBS Newshour (Erdoğan to Putin: Return Crimea to ‘rightful owners’)
Ian Bremmer: War in Ukraine looms large as world leaders meet at the United Nations
The mood in New York ahead of the 77th UN General Assembly is understandably bleak.
The seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly opened on 13 September under the theme, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” This year’s General Debate, which runs from September 20 to 26 features a panoply of the good, the bad and the ugly Heads of State and Government. The list of speakers in the plenary is lengthy and subject to change. How the order is established is a mystery. This year, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil got the first slot – hardly an exemplary figure. He faces elections on 2 October, is trailing in the polls and there are fears of Jan. 6-style post-election violence as he has cast doubt on voting system. He was followed almost immediately by Erdogan of Turkey. American presidents historically go second among heads of state to address the meeting, following Brazil. Biden’s later-than-usual appearance at UNGA was due to his scheduled return from Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. But his remarks were still expected to set the tone for a meeting focused heavily on Ukraine and climate change.

Ukraine makes huge gains, but is the war’s end any closer?
(CBC Radio Sunday Magazine) After a surprise – an surprisingly effective – offensive campaign by Ukrainian troops this past week, the face of the war with Russia there has changed. But does it bring us any closer to an end of the conflict? Professor of Peace Studies Paul Rogers joins Piya Chattopadhyay on Sunday to share his thoughts on what the most recent developments on the ground mean for the big picture, and what Canada’s role might look like in the next chapter of the war in Ukraine.

Jeremy Kinsman commenting on: Putin praises China’s balanced approach “Putin meets Xi; no high fives this time”, noting what is not said in the communiqué.
Ukraine: Russian army atrocities, their rout from around Kharkiv, and PM Modi’s reprimand to Putin – does he get it yet? – and, he adds, if he does get it, what is he going to do about it?
Susanna Eyton-Jones is very happy to be off to New York this week to do her first concert in two years. We know she will be brilliant!
Désirée McGraw demonstrates the passion that has led her to become the Liberal candidate in NDG in this recent podcast with Aaron Rand, Bill Brownstein and Lesley Chesterman Désirée McGraw on Bill 96 and the Quebec election. She is popping up everywhere, speaking about Bill 96, the economy, and the environment.

As October 3rd approaches, the message is Go Vote! But for whom? Do you look at the Leader, or stick to the candidate who will best serve the interests of your community, or best represents your position on a specific issue?
Watch the 2nd and final leaders debate on Thursday evening – maybe it will help you make up your mind?
Quebecers want Québec solidaire as the official opposition, poll suggests
The survey found the CAQ continues to enjoy a commanding lead in voter support, at 40 per cent, as the Quebec election draws closer.
The Quebec Liberal Party, the Conservative Party of Quebec and the Parti Québécois were tied for third place at 14 per cent, but the survey’s three-per-cent margin of error essentially places all four opposition parties in a dead heat.

The wrong people are retiring! First Serena and Federer and now P.K. Subban – at least in the case of the latter, Montreal will continue to be the beneficiary of his philanthropy. The world would be so much better if some world leaders and other prominent figures were to graciously leave the public stage.

Event
Next Tuesday, 27 September, President Chris Neal and the members of the board of CIC Montreal are pleased to present Roots of Putin’s War on Ukraine and the Road Ahead with Paule Robitaille. Surely no topic could be more timely! There is no charge, but you do need to register, as the capacity of the room must be respected.

‘M*A*S*H’ at 50: War Is Hell(arious)
Five decades ago, “M*A*S*H” anticipated today’s TV dramedies, showing that a great comedy could be more than just funny.
The covert operation “M*A*S*H” pulled off was to deliver a timely satire camouflaged as a period comedy.
Today, “M*A*S*H” also feels both like ancient history and entirely current, but for different reasons.
The characters serving in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea were professionals whose vocation was to save lives. But their assignment was to patch up soldiers so that they could return to the front lines and kill other people or get killed themselves. This was the eternal, laugh-till-you-cry joke of “M*A*S*H.”
Alan Alda Discusses ‘M’ *’A*S*H’ Moment That ‘Shocked the Audience’ for Show’s 50th Anniversary
“I think everybody was grateful for the shock,” Alan Alda recalled of filming a particularly emotional M*A*S*H scene while celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary

Lebanon’s ‘Wonder Woman’ in hiding after bank heist
Sali Hafiz has been lauded as a hero in Lebanon after she entered a bank with a replica gun and demanded money from her own account to help treat her sister.
Sali, 28, and her sister took a branch of Lebanon’s Blom bank by storm on September 14, armed with what she later said was a replica gun, demanding to take $20,000 in cash out of their own accounts.

Varia
Memory problems during the pandemic? It’s just your brain trying to distinguish one day from the next
Intuitively, it seems logical that the magnitude of disruption caused by the pandemic should generate many memorable moments of this time in our lives. Nevertheless, many people report anecdotally that their memory of life under lockdown is poor. And many of us experienced an increase in forgetfulness during the months of social isolation.
It’s not really clear what exactly causes these memory glitches, but well-established theories from cognitive psychology may be able to explain the phenomenon. … unlike a typical life transition, during the lockdown, one set of regular activities was not replaced by another. Instead, our day-to-day activities became significantly less varied, and we participated in far fewer novel activities. Many of us transitioned from a period of relative stability to a period of extreme stability. Consequently, transition theory predicts that we should have fewer specific events and memories from the period of lockdown.
An unlikely ally in the face of wildfires and droughts: the humble beaver
In the face of increasing wildfires and droughts, scientists are looking to a highly skilled “environmental engineer” to help fight climate change: the industrious beaver.
“They build these dams, which slow the water down, they dig canals that spread the water out, and ultimately they just give it time to sink into the earth like a big old sponge,” said Emily Fairfax, an assistant professor of environmental science and resource management at California State University Channel Islands.
Reversing global warming by REFREEZING the poles would be both feasible and ‘extraordinarily cheap’, study claims
New study outlines a unique concept for keeping the north and south poles cool
Jets would spray aerosol particles into the atmosphere above both of the poles
Aerosol layers would shield poles from solar radiation and stop ice from melting

Long reads
The Atlantic Council Experts react: Putin gambles by escalating his war in Ukraine. What will happen next?
and
Putin’s Russian Empire is collapsing like its Soviet predecessor
By Taras Kuzio, professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy
(Atlantic Council) As Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine continues to unravel, growing numbers of Western experts are predicting the breakup of the Russian Federation itself.
United Nations: What to Expect at the General Assembly This Week
The session will feature top leaders in New York City in person for the first time in three years. But the tone will be one of crisis, not triumph.
Russia in the Balkans After Ukraine: A Troubling Actor
(Carnegie) Russia has proven that it knows how to be a master of distraction and how to take advantage of ethnic cleavages, bolster hardline nationalist politicians, and complicate the region’s lagging reform agendas.
Disinformation is a high-stake game threatening freedom
(Chatham House) Quite simply, if citizens are making decisions based on disinformation – that is false information deliberately spread to mislead them – there can be harmful real-world consequences. Democracy can be undermined, and disinformation can cost lives.
Policy Magazine September/October 2022 Free Trade: Then and Now
L. Ian MacDonald: Welcome to our special issue, Free Trade: Then and Now, on the 35th anniversary of the completion of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement in October 1987 and the 30th anniversary of its trilateral successor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, including Mexico, completed in October 1992.

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