Wednesday Night #2126

Written by  //  December 14, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The good news this week is from Science
Fusion breakthrough is a milestone for climate, clean energy
(AP) — Scientists announced Tuesday that they have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it — a major breakthrough in the decades-long quest to harness the process that powers the sun.
Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California achieved the result last week, the Energy Department said. Known as a net energy gain, the goal has been elusive because fusion happens at such high temperatures and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to control.
Although there’s a long way to go to turn fusion into a usable power source, [Jeremy Chittenden, a professor at Imperial College in London specializing in plasma physics] said, the lab’s achievement makes him optimistic that it may someday be “the ideal power source that we thought it would be” — one that emits no carbon and runs on an abundant form of hydrogen that can be extracted from seawater.
One approach to fusion turns hydrogen into plasma, an electrically charged gas, which is then controlled by humongous magnets. This method is being explored in France in a collaboration among 35 countries called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, as well as by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a private company.
AND
Artemis 1 success earns widespread praise
The successful conclusion of the Artemis 1 mission Dec. 11 won widespread support from politicians and industry, a sign of broad support for a program that has suffered extensive delays.
Orion splashes down to end Artemis 1
Fifty years to the day after the last Apollo moon mission touched down on the lunar surface, NASA’s plans to return to the moon took a major step forward with the successful splashdown of the Orion spacecraft to end the Artemis 1 mission.
First African nations sign Artemis Accords

The Biodiversity COP15 is mid-way in its second week.
First, the good news for Montreal New UN project office focused on sustainable cities to open in Montreal
Montreal has been chosen as the site of a new United Nations office that will oversee a program focused on developing green, resilient and sustainable cities.
Then, on Wednesday, Developing countries walked out of the conference over funding
Lots of huddles and late nights in view.

While we have not so far noted egregious errors in reporting on COP15, we strongly endorse the recommendations of this Nieman report.
Everyone Is a Climate Reporter Now
That’s why journalism schools need to incorporate climate science reporting into their standard curricula
For many news organizations, especially local ones, climate coverage is still seen as separate and distinct from other beats. But rapidly rising temperatures and a corresponding shift in weather patterns is now the context for most, if not all, news stories. Transportation reporters need to understand how climate change affects infrastructure and contributes to delays, for example. Housing reporters need to explain the intersection of flood zones and insurance rates. Even sports reporters will need to make the connection between record temperatures and game cancellations, lost practices, and heat-related injuries.

Russian Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate condemns Ukraine war
[Yan] Rachinsky, [who accepted the prize on behalf of his organization, Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest civil rights groups] and the other co-laureates received the prize for “an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power,” according to the committee. … Memorial shared this year’s prize with the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine and Belarusian advocate Ales Bialiatski. In its press release, the Nobel Committee reflected on its decision to jointly award three recipients from neighboring countries.

Putin and Xi each in trouble at home in a different way agree Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas. They lead off this week’s Diplomatic Community with comments about Putin’s cancellation of his annual press conference and postponement of his annual speech to both houses of Russia’s parliament, tacit acknowledgement that things are not going well and he does not wish to engage in dialogue -however remote- with the Russian people. Larry emphasizes the importance of the U.S. plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. Finally, on China, they agree that the relaxation of regulations accompanied by a predictable surge in Covid cases will have consequences for the economy and thus for Xi.
WHO does not agree with widespread analysis that the government’s decision to abandon its strict “zero-COVID” policy caused a spike in cases. Executive Director of the WHO Mike Ryan says China’s control measures were not stopping COVID-19, the virus was spreading “intensively” in the nation long before the lifting of restrictions. “The disease was spreading intensively because I believe the control measures in themselves were not stopping the disease. And I believe China decided strategically that was not the best option anymore.” See also long read below Xi Jinping’s Covid Crisis Is Really an Opportunity

Long ignored by the U.S., dozens of Africa’s most powerful politicians are gathered in Washington, DC, this week for a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit.
Heads of states from 49 African nations and the African Union have been invited to take part in the summit that has been billed as an opportunity for President Joe Biden’s administration to reengage the continent’s leaders. Nearly 50 African heads of state are attending the first U.S.-Africa summit since 2014. It opened with sessions on civil conflict, democracy and space exploration.

Politico opines that the EU corruption scandal that has burst into the headlines is fodder for the far-right from France’s Marine Le Pen to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish President Andrzej Duda who will likely seek to turn it into a political weapon, whipping up anti-EU sentiment ahead of European Parliament elections in 2024.
Meanwhile, contributing editor Paul Taylor advises that EU leaders must now seize the geopolitical moment to revamp the integration of the six small, economically fragile Western Balkan countries with a total population of fewer than 18 million into the Union, or risk seeing them used by Russia and China in their power games. Despite deep disillusionment at the snail’s pace of progress since the EU officially gave them membership prospect back in 2003, EU accession remains the best imaginable outcome for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and for the rest of Europe.
C Uday Bhaskar writes on last week’s news from Germany: A failed coup in Germany and the spectre of right-wing extremismArrests of suspected extremists in Germany point to right wing infiltration of state agencies

Peru’s new government declares police state amid protests
Peru explodes into fiery protest as anger over political crises ignites
By Marco Aquino and Adam Jourdan
Voters are fed up with the constant political infighting that has seen six presidents in the last five years and seven impeachment attempts.

Good thing we don’t live in Turkey!
Erdoğan’s political rival sentenced to 2 years for calling official a ‘fool’
Today, a Turkish court sentenced the mayor of Istanbul to two years in prison for using the term “fool” to describe election officials.

Everything is not hunky-dory in Canada either, though we are happily far from the extremes prevailing elsewhere.
Most concerning is the dispute between Ottawa and the provinces over healthcare funding (Provinces must commit to health-care reform, Trudeau says as health systems strain), with a threat emanating from the NDP Leader Singh says he could abandon deal to support Liberals if PM doesn’t take action on health crisis. Not the end of the world, nor of the Trudeau government, but not a good vibe.
Among our other major concerns is the on-going disaster at IRCC – how can the “system” meet the goal of welcoming 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025 when there are backlogs of some 2 million AND best of all: Thousands assigned to inactive immigration officers and IDsSome ex-employees, placeholder codes last logged in decade ago, data shows.
Doug Sweet adds another concern: Why Canada always sells out Is Canada a nation of patsies? I remember this being huge in the 1970s, rearing its head again later with particular emphasis on foreign domination of our oil and gas sector, and then more recently with concerns about the foreign ownership of much of our mining industry, especially when it comes to newly valuable rare earth minerals.
We can’t seem to develop anything, from Cirque du Soleil to Blackberry to the eminently brilliant Bombardier C-Series jets to the damn Avro Arrow, that isn’t sold off to owners from beyond our borders, or trashed because of foreign (usually U.S.) influence.
An Indonesian forestry giant becomes the new king of Canadian pulp (and paper)

For followers of cryptocurrency, we recommend The Atlantic story Sam Bankman-Fried Got What He Wanted
The now-arrested crypto king had long said he wanted Washington to wise up about the industry. That’s finally happening.

Robert Galbraith has posted on Facebook: “I would like to announce that my new film, ‘The Seas of Brier Island’ will be released at a public viewing at 8pm, Tuesday, December 13th, at the Westport Church of Christ, 93 Second Street, Westport, Nova Scotia. Please feel welcome to attend.
It is a 42-minute, narrated film that documents the turbulent seas that surround this small island, filmed over a 6-year period.
If you have any questions, please contact me at; [email protected] or text or message me.”

Long reads
Dilemma: should the U.S. have agreed to trade Bout for Brittney Griner without Paul Whelan?
Prisoner swap raises questions about how hostage deals are made
Hugh Dugan, a former State Department hostage negotiator who has worked on deals to bring back Americans from abroad.
‘The Merchant of Death Is Back in Action’
The inside story of how U.S. agents took down Viktor Bout, the world’s most notorious arms trader, and why they’re worried about what comes next.
Yuval Noah Harari: The End of the New Peace
Vladimir Putin is pushing humanity toward an era of war that might be worse than anything we have seen before. It could threaten the very survival of our species.
Russia’s Dangerous Decline
The Kremlin Won’t Go Down Without a Fight
Xi Jinping’s Covid Crisis Is Really an Opportunity
Mr. Xi has a strategic window to not only pivot away from the “zero Covid” policy but also from a personal governing style that has once again imperiled the party’s deal with the people.
The Prince, the Plot and a Long-Lost Reich
Prince Heinrich XIII was arrested last week as the suspected ringleader of a plan to overthrow the German government. Nostalgic for an imperial past, he embraced far-right conspiracy theories.

Varia
The Twisty History of Montreal’s Outdoor Staircases
Immigrants, artisans, economics, and the Catholic Church all played a role.

California girl awarded 1st-ever licence to own a unicorn — if she can find one

De la part de SolangeTeParle
QUÉBÉCOIS FOR DUMMIES – Enfin une explication plutôt complète des expressions québécoises courantes
Les Québécois ont recours, assez souvent, à des contractions qui contribueront à vous donner l’impression de débit très rapide.
Quelques exemples.
« Je sais » devient « ché », surtout à la négative. « ché pas quoi faire, ché pas quoi manger »
« Je suis « devient « chu ». « Mardi, chu pas là. Chu bien là. Chu devant la télé. »
Ils pourront contracter encore plus dans « ch’tais à l’hôpital. Ch’tais allée acheter des œufs »

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