Wednesday Night #2120

Written by  //  November 2, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Whilst fretting about the U.S. midterms, we have also been monitoring news of three recent elections Brazil (pretty good), Denmark (good) and Israel (worrisome).

In Brazil, Lula won, but not by a huge margin – 50.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%. Our worry was Would Bolsonaro pull a Trump?
Sure enough, on Tuesday AP reported that Bolsonaro declined to concede Brazil defeat in his first address. And while he stated that he will continue to follow the rules of the nation’s constitution and has instructed his Chief of Staff to begin the transition process, AP reports that Thousands of [his] supporters called on the military Wednesday to keep the far-right leader in power. So, not yet time to exhale. But never underestimate the dedication of Brazilian football fans.

Israel
If preliminary counts hold, the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, who has dominated national politics for more than a decade, is back and set to form what looks like being one of the most right-wing governments in the country’s history thanks to Lawbreaker to Israeli kingmaker? Far-right Ben-Gvir surges in vote
Israel’s Netanyahu appears to hold lead in election

With those two elections to preoccupy us, we barely noticed that Denmark was also holding elections on Tuesday. Four million voters had 14 parties to chose from, and the outcome was predictably orderly and civilized.

Putin searches for leverage in his losing war
On Tuesday night, Jeremy Kinsman​ and Larry Haas discuss the significance of the Russian announcement that it is suspending -but not canceling- the deal allowing export of Ukrainian grain. (By Wednesday morning, Putin had reversed engines; the Ministry of Defense announced Russia was rejoining the agreement). They also commented on the news that Russia has expanded Kherson evacuations.
They turned briefly to the outcome of the Brazilian election and Bolsonaro’s failure to explicitly acknowledge defeat.
As always, food for thought.

Saudi Arabia
Somewhat buried is the news that Saudi Arabia fears an attack by Iran and the U.S. has responded that the threats are concerning, and it will defend Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies. It seems very generous of the U.S. to consider Saudi Arabia an ally these days [Saudi Arabia Reiterates Commitment To China, Regardless Of U.S. Concerns]. What a pity we cannot separate the populations of the two countries from their respective leaders and encourage the latter to eliminate each other in armed combat (NOT nuclear).

Six days to go until the U.S. midterms and polls, analyses, opinions and predictions are all over the place. Will the Republicans succeed in taking over one -or both- houses of Congress? What role will Donald Trump have played in such a success? Will the Democrats manage to convince the voters that life under a Republican Congress would be less than pleasant for any but the rich and influential? Will the strategy of distancing themselves from Biden work for Democratic candidates?
Will Election Night be a nailbiter or a quick, merciless death?

Our columnists made their midterm picks. Can you beat their predictions?
(WaPo) In a very-extra-special edition of the Post Pundit Power Ranking, we want you, the readers, to play pundit and tell us who you predict to win this cycle’s biggest midterm battles.
Senate races? Got ’em. Governorships? They’re here. House control? Duh!
For each contest below, click on the candidate you think will be victorious. Once you choose, you’ll also see who other readers and our political columnists think will win, and why. …

A timely reminder and particularly relevant as the mid-terms loom
Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows It
Understanding how algorithm manipulators exploit our cognitive vulnerabilities empowers us to fight back
And on the topic of disinformation:
Is Elon Musk going to kill Twitter?
By Max Fawcett
It’s abundantly clear, given both his statements about being a “free speech absolutist” and his own interventions on Twitter, that Musk isn’t going to crack down on the spread of misinformation or conspiracy theories. That those are poisoning the public square he now owns and contributed directly to the violence he says he abhors, whether it’s the January 6th coup attempt or any number of lesser incidents, doesn’t seem to register with him.
One example of vile and violence-provoking disinformation is the case of the attack on Paul Pelosi by (Canadian ex-pat) David DePape.
His defense lawyer has said that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

All things Canadian
We admire Minister Sean Fraser’s fearlessness in announcing that Ottawa aims to welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025. Given the endless problems at IRCC in processing simple requests by Canadian citizens for passport renewals, we wonder what magic wand he will wave to expedite the welcome of 500,000 requests per year.
Testimony at the Emergencies Act inquiry is raising some unpleasant truths, i.e. that Convoy protesters received leaked information from police and had former law-enforcement officers and military personnel coordinating logistics.
We were amused to read that, immediately following last Wednesday’s discussion, Ottawa restricting foreign state-owned investments in critical minerals and lest you think Minister Champagne was grandstanding, Ottawa orders Chinese divestment in three Canadian critical minerals companies; it remains to be seen exactly how this will be accomplished, but we are encouraged that Ottawa is listening to WN!
And finally, Andrew Coyne’s answer to the Ontario and Quebec invocation of the notwithstanding clause: See your notwithstanding clause, raise you disallowance
Locally: Kanien’kehá:ka elders win fight for injunction to stop work at Montreal’s old Royal Vic hospital – how was the situation allowed to deteriorate to this stage?
And, speaking of deteriorating situations: the Quebec Liberal Party is in severe disarray: Marie-Claude Nichols refuses to rejoin Quebec Liberal Party. Vaudreuil MNA Nichols said in an email to Liberal caucus members that her confidence in her former leader was “strongly shaken” since her ouster. She strongly criticized Anglade’s leadership style, saying she did not want to be “the life preserver of a leadership that gets lost in unexplained, thoughtless and hasty decisions.” No matter what you think of the respective positions of the individuals – the situation should never have been allowed to reach this level.

Recommended Books:
Judy Roberts suggests The Daughters of Yalta, by Catherine Katz,  adding “Apparently no wives were allowed, only daughters and there is many a tale to be told of their time spent there.” According to Classic Chicago, it is to be made into a movie. Good companion book to Eight Days at Yalta

Mark your calendar
Thursday, 3 November
Update on the state of the Canadian economy
Presented by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland
6 Nov – 18 Nov
COP27 Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference

Long reads
Saudis in US targeted as kingdom cracks down on dissent
Over the last five years, Saudi surveillance, intimidation and pursuit of Saudis on U.S. soil have intensified as the kingdom steps up repression under its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Emergencies Act inquiry: How to balance protest rights with the rule of law?
How long should society be expected to tolerate the disruption caused by a protest action — in this case the so-called Freedom Convoy’s occupation of Ottawa in February 2022 — before it’s permissible to intervene within the rule of law?
Why it’s so hard to decide whether nuclear power is a good idea for the climate
With wind and solar dirt cheap, why are we investing so much in costly nuclear?
In the Political Talk Show Race, Outrage Is Winning
In the 1990s, satirical political infotainment evolved into the late-night television style that we have today. Two things brought politics and infotainment together: the internet and “The Daily Show.”

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