Wednesday Night #2123

Written by  //  November 23, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

In what has become a White House tradition, Biden Pardons a Pair of Thanksgiving Turkeys
The pre-Thanksgiving turkey pardon at the White House is never complete without a string of holiday-themed puns.
This year was no exception: “No Ballot Stuffing and No Fowl Play”. The only “red wave” this holiday season, President Biden said, would be if his German Shepherd “knocks over the cranberry sauce.”
Nothing, however, will ever equal the glorious West Wing Turkey Pardon episode

The situation in Ukraine becomes more dire as winter begins: The Washington Post reports that energy systems are on the brink of collapse after weeks of Russian bombing/ In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries. On Wednesday, Russia pounded Ukraine with another barrage of missiles, striking energy infrastructure and residential areas across the country, killing at least three people in Kyiv, according to local authorities, and setting off blackouts in much of the country, including Lviv in western Ukraine.

Peter Frise directs our attention to The Economist:
Russia risks becoming ungovernable and descending into chaosThere is growing opposition to President Putin at home (paywall) There are many similar analyses (See Vladimir Putin & Russia May 2022-), all well-founded, no doubt, but so far, no developments that indicate that Putin is in peril.

COP27 Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference predictably went into overtime and, equally predictably, failed to live up to the hopes of many. The agreed ‘loss and damage’ fund was greeted by a mixture of enthusiasm and scepticism. As Professor Adil Najam of Boston University writes COP27’s ‘loss and damage’ fund for developing countries could be a breakthrough – or another empty climate promise. And counteracting the generally positive view of the intent of the fund, Marc A. Thiessen of the WaPo believes that Climate reparations are insanity. They will hurt poor nations most.

The plight of Haiti has taken a back seat to news of Ukraine, the assorted multinational meetings, i.e. G20, Cop27, but cannot be ignored. In early October, Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top-ranking officials requested -not sure of whom- military intervention to restore peace and a semblance of good order to the country. Since then, there has been dithering and buck passing, but little action. The U.S. seemingly wants Canada to step up to the plate, but there are strong arguments against that, as expressed by the National Post’s Tristin Hopper: Why there’s absolutely no way Canada could pull off a military intervention in HaitiThe entire Canadian Army could provide just 11,000 front-line soldiers, roughly the same amount of personnel as the Toronto Police. So what is to be done? Is it too much of a stretch to consider invoking R2P?

C Uday Bhaskar: Geopolitical rift at G20 meet
The baton of the G20 president was formally handed over to PM Modi in Bali by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo on November 16 and the outcome of this summit is relevant to India at many levels that are interlinked.
As India assumes the G20 responsibility on December 1, the historical recall with November 17, 1962, when Delhi had to face the ignominy of a national security meltdown in dealing with China cannot be ignored. While India has the pedigree and the potential to play a valuable global role, this cannot be at the cost of jeopardising its own core national interests that are abiding.

Buffeted by Economic Woes, U.K. Starts to Look at Brexit With ‘Bregret’
Stung by inflation and bracing for tax increases, the country is in the midst of its gravest slump in a generation, leading many to wonder how much the split with the European Union is to blame.

Hardly as exciting as international matters, nor as entertaining as turkey pardons, but you should still keep an eye on what transpires during the final week of the Emergencies Act inquiry aka Rouleau Commission hearings – see Canada: government & governance – protests

Congratulations to Jennifer Ditchburn and the IRPP as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the respected Montreal-based think tank. The Institute was officially born in 1972, with an initial endowment from the federal government and donations from provinces and the private sector. The founding board included broadcaster Jeanne Sauvé (later governor general), and former premier of Ontario John Robarts. See more on Ottawa Playbook: scroll down to Hallway Conversation.

You have, of course, been following the saga of Elon Musk and Twitter. Who can resist the twists and turns of Mr. Musk’s management style. See long reads below for link to I Studied Trump’s Twitter Use for Six Years. Prepare for the Worst.. No-one we have read so far equals Adam Rogers’ scathing take The only thing Elon Musk understands about Twitter is how to kill it

As you know, WN does not follow professional sports (although some of our most esteemed members do), however, it is impossible to stay away from the awfulness of the FIFA Qatar World Cup – the corruption, the violation of workers’ rights, the mendacity of officials, the politics … and now the suspicious outcomes of some matches. Some cynics have wondered, for instance, “Considering that Argentina ranks 3rd and the Saudis 51st it makes me wonder how much the Argentinian players were paid for their loss.”
And media in Iran tied their team’s loss to the political situation at home Iran media blames humiliating World Cup loss on protests. “Iran – 2; England, Israel, Saudi and traitors – 6,” read the headline in hard-line daily Kayhan.

Joe Schwarcz Phd: Reflections on Modern Life
How different life is than when I started my career
I opened my eyes this morning and asked Alexa to tell me the news, which she promptly did. She wasn’t in my bed, in fact, she wasn’t even in the bedroom. Despite having no ears, she heard me. Her response was loud and clear, even though she has no mouth. In fact, she doesn’t even really have a body. Alexa is just a small, albeit cute, cylinder that is described by her developers as an “intelligent personal assistant.”
$26M donation to propel space research at McGill and U de M
The Trottier Family Foundation donation to the McGill Space Institute and the Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) will allow both institutions to “continue their ground breaking research into extrasolar planets, fast radio bursts, the dark universe, and other extraterrestrial mysteries”
Trees that can walk up to 20m per year
Like the Ents from JRR Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings saga, these trees actually move. But can they walk fast enough to escape the chainsaw and machetes that threaten them?
Cutting-edge tech made this tiny country a major exporter of food
The Netherlands has used advances in vertical farming, seed technology and robotics to become a global model

Long reads
I Studied Trump’s Twitter Use for Six Years. Prepare for the Worst.
By Brian L. Ott, professor of communication at Missouri State University and a co-author of “The Twitter Presidency: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of White Rage.”
As someone who has been studying Mr. Trump’s Twitter use since before he was elected president, I believe that his return would mean the heightened spread of both misinformation and disinformation, the proliferation of degrading and dehumanizing discourse, the further mainstreaming of hate speech and the erosion of democratic norms and institutions. But there is something else: Mr. Trump’s return to Twitter could escalate the likelihood of political violence.

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