Wednesday Night #2124

Written by  //  November 30, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

For months we have been focused on international news of Ukraine, Russia, China, Iran, the looming energy crisis in Europe, the restive Middle East, and a rash of multilateral gatherings including the Climate Change COP27 and forthcoming Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal, whilst splitting our mental screens with news of US midterms, the antics of The Donald and of course, Canadian and Quebec politics and governance issues. Only recently has the world turned its attention to the plight of Somalia, where the UN warned six weeks ago the country faces the worst famine in half a century. It is time to pay attention, and not only to Somalia.

The situation in Ukraine can only be described as dire. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sums it up: Putin is “weaponizing winter” as Moscow continues its bombing campaign on Ukrainian energy infrastructure. For those who believe that Zelensky should agree to negotiations, Hamza Karčić, Associate professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Sarajevo, has this warning  Why Ukraine should not accept Bosnia-style peace
The Dayton Accords made Bosnia a dysfunctional state. Ukraine should resist pressure for a similar flawed peace deal.

Events in China are almost unimaginable, coming in the wake of Xi’s apparent consolidation of power. It seems that the government is backing down somewhat in the face of the prolonged demonstrations Two Chinese cities ease COVID curbs after protests spread

Good news from the U.S. Democrats Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will become the highest-ranking Black congressional leader in U.S. history after House Dems elected him to succeed Nancy Pelosi as their next leader. All done with no muss no fuss. The quiet maneuvering that delivered Jeffries the top House Dem spot just 12 days after formally launching his run. That breezy rise took a lot of work.

The latest Trumpian outrage concerns his dinner at Mar-a-Lago with white supremacist and antisemite Nick Fuentes. Read all about it -if you care- Trump Was Tricked Into Dining With Too Many Antisemites

Cryptocurrencies not good for your health?
Amidst the on-going story of FTX and its founder (‘I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,’ FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried says), perhaps you missed this news:
Russian Crypto Billionaire Dies in Mysterious Chopper Crash
Forex Club founder Vyacheslav Taran was the sole passenger on the chopper that crashed near Monaco.
Taran’s death comes amid a string of fatal accidents involving cryptocurrency leaders
A Russian billionaire has become just the latest cryptocurrency figure to die under bizarre circumstances in recent weeks.
Tiantian Kullander, the founder of Amber Group, died suddenly in his sleep last week at the age of 30. Just a few weeks earlier, 29-year-old cryptocurrency developer Nikolas Mushegian was found dead on a Puerto Rico beach in what was found to be a drowning.

Among the several book releases of the coming days, I must single out Politics and Literature at the Dawn of World War II, written by my dear friend -dating back to bucolic Georgetown days- Professor of English Emeritus, Dartmouth College, James Heffernan. The book is to be released on Thursday, 1 December, however I was privileged to read an advance copy. As the first comprehensive study of the impact of the outbreak of the Second World War on the literary work of American, English, and European writers during its first years, it is unique. The analyses of the writers’ lives and works are complemented by details of the historical context, comprehensive summaries of the work(s) examined, and references to a number of the authors’ contemporaries. Some of the selected subjects are universally well known (The Spanish Civil War and Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls) while others were a revelation to me – Prague after Munich: The Plight of Refugees in Martha Gellhorn’s A Stricken Field , and Exodus and Occupation in Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française .
As reviewer Pericles Lewis says: “[Jim’s] lucid introductions and thoughtful analyses show how at times fiction can represent historical experience more truthfully than journalism.”
Truly a feast to be savored and re-read. And, just as a movie adapted from a book will often send the viewer back to the book, every chapter will now send me back to the original work. I can’t wait!
P.S. As a true academic, Jim knows the value of footnotes which I devoured, so must add my own and refer you to the video where he talks about his previous Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literatureperhaps worth a read before welcoming holiday guests for politically fraught gatherings?

In a totally different vein, Congratulations to our friend, some-time Wednesday Nighter and Québec’s Chief Innovation Officer Luc Sirois, author of 2/10 chapters of the just published Open Labs and Innovation Management – The Dynamics of Communities and Ecosystems available from Routledge Business, Management and Economics.

A Reporter’s Baffling Murder and a Crisis of Press Freedom
“In the Mouth of the Wolf” investigates the death of Regina Martínez, who exposed abuses in one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.
One of Mexico’s most fearless investigative journalists, Regina Martínez, was found dead in her home just over ten years ago. Journalist Katherine Corcoran investigates what happened to her and why violence against journalists is commonplace in Mexico, in her new book, In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Cover-Up, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press. The Current

And so we come to Louise Penny‘s much-anticipated 18th Three Pines book, A World of Curiosities released today. She is on a tear, interviewing everywhere, however we particularly enjoyed this with CBS mornings
And THEN comes the series
The first two episodes of the Quebec-shot series will première on Prime Video on Dec. 2, and two new episodes will be released weekly until the finale on Dec. 23.
Three Pines adapts Louise Penny’s bestselling detective novels
Amazon Prime series sees British actor Alfred Molina playing Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. How will that go over?

Event
10 and 11 December at 19:30
Cinema du musée
Film Premier – First to Stand | The Cases and Causes of Irwin Cotler
First to Stand follows Irwin Cotler and his team of young activists at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre as they take on the cases and causes of political prisoners and human rights activists battling against the world’s most repressive regimes.
World Premiere on Human Rights Day, December 10, at the Cinéma du Musée, Montreal
First to Stand opens in the streets of Moscow with protesters chanting to bring Putin down. Against the Russian backdrop, past and present, First to Stand follows Irwin Cotler and his team of young activists at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre as they take on the cases and cause of political prisoners and human rights activists battling the world’s most repressive regimes.
– Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to ten years and a thousand lashes for “insulting Islam.”
– Bill Browder, the first to speak out against Putin and the creator of the Magnitsky Act.
– Amal Clooney, international human rights barrister
– Shaparak Shajarizadeh, imprisoned for protesting compulsory hijab.
– Natan Sharansky, Russian refusnik..
– Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist, recently subject to an Iranian kidnapping attempt.

Varia
The world’s most, and least, expensive cities (paywall)
Register for Summary Worldwide Cost of Living 2022
Global prices have risen by more than 8% on average in 2022, sparked by the war in Ukraine and “zero-covid” restrictions in China. EIU’s latest report examines how commodity prices and currency movements have affected both the most and least expensive cities in the world.
New York tops the rankings for the first time, tying with frequent leader Singapore, which is
back in pole position for the eighth time in ten years. Together the two have bumped Tel Aviv (Israel;
top last year) down into third place. Damascus (Syria) and Tripoli (Libya) remain the cheapest of the
172 cities covered by our survey.

What links baguettes, bees and bear hunts? All join Unesco ‘human treasures’ list
French delegates at conference greet announcement with delight, brandishing bread sticks aloft
La baguette de pain française inscrite au patrimoine immatériel de l’humanité par l’Unesco
« En constante évolution, la baguette « de tradition » est strictement encadrée par un décret de 1993, qui vise à protéger les artisans boulangers et leur impose en même temps des exigences très strictes, comme l’interdiction des additifs. Elle fait aussi l’objet de concours nationaux, lors desquels les candidates sont tranchées en longueur pour permettre au jury d’évaluer l’alvéolage et la couleur de la mie, « crème » dans l’idéal »

Entre The Gazette et The Globe and Mail
Dans sa thèse, la doctorante Chantal Lacasse a comparé des centaines d’éditoriaux de deux journaux de langue anglaise influents couvrant la période de 1976 à 1982 au Québec

Long read
In case you were thinking that MBS wasn’t so bad after all – and note the Canadian connection.
‘The Godfather, Saudi-style’: inside the palace coup that brought MBS to power (long read)
Not long ago, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, was all set to assume power. But his ambitious young cousin had a ruthless plan to seize control for himself

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