Wednesday Night #2127

Written by  //  December 21, 2022  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

First the Good news
It is the Winter Solstice. Wednesday is the shortest day of the year and from here on, the days grow longer.
Thanks to a friend of Andrew Caddell, we learn from the Farmer’s Almanac that the days will actually should have started to feel a bit longer two weeks before the solstice. That’s because the earliest sunset of the year happens before the solstice, and in 2022, it occurred on Wednesday, December 7. CNN offers Winter solstice 2022: Shortest day of the year is long on pagan mysteries

COP15 (for the uninitiated, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)) concluded on a positive note and without going into overtime.
Biodiversity agreement to protect planet reached at UN conference in Montreal
Of course, implementation is still a long road ahead, but there is good reason to celebrate and to congratulate the Chinese summit president on presenting and insisting on adoption of a clear agreement.

For President Zelensky of Ukraine 21 December has been a good day. He is in Washington meeting with Joe Biden for the first time in person. It must have been quite an experience to have the president of the U.S. say ‘It’s an honor to be by your side’. He addressed Congress on Wednesday evening, but best of all, just before his arrival, the U.S. announced its largest single delivery of arms to Ukraine, including Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Congress planned to vote on a spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine. If there were only some way to ensure that the citizens could enjoy uninterrupted heat and energy.

Putin’s War
Meanwhile, Putin Concedes Military Failings, but Insists Russia Will Fight On
Nodding to criticism that his army lacked the basic necessities to wage war, the Russian leader said his government was providing “everything that the army asks for.”

The looking-back-looking-forward season is upon us
Always good for thoughtful commentary, Ian Bremmer looks back at 2022 and forward to 2023 On Russia’s reckoning, China’s vulnerability & US democracy’s Dunkirk with two frequent guests of the show: former US State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter and The Atlantic contributor Tom Nichols. Maybe surprising to many, but when each was asked whether they would recommend that Biden run again, both said yes. Worth listening to why.
Report: 2022 a Perilous Year for Journalists
Being a journalist has never been more dangerous, according to the most recent Reporters Without Borders (RSF) annual round-up of violence and abuses against journalists, which says that “a record total of 533 journalists are currently detained worldwide.” The report by RSF has warned that the number of journalists killed this year has risen to 57, an 18.8 percent increase compared to 2021. Another 65 journalists are being held hostage and 49 are missing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Wednesday that he has successfully formed a new coalition, setting the stage for him to return to power as head of the most right-wing Israeli government ever.
The problem of fascism in Israel lies less with the extremist parties that will be part of the next government and more with their enablers – Netanyahu and his chauvinistic Likud party, writes Marwan Bishara, Senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Suggest you also read In Jerusalem’s Putin Pub for a view of the treatment of Russian immigrants versus that of Palestinians. The contrast is shameful.

Distressing news from Iran continues as U.S. slaps sanctions on Iran officials over protest crackdown. The Treasury Department designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leaders Mohammad Kazemi and Abbas Nilforushan, as well as the Iranian company Imen Sanat Zaman Fara. Celebreties are demanding the release of Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti but thousands of others have no such advocates. Meanwhile, Russia plans to boost military links with Iran, says UK defence secretary
Ben Wallace says Putin regime will supply military technology in return for drones used to attack Ukraine

The January 6th investigating committee, more formally and correctly known as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, is about to release an 800-page report which will conclude that then-President Donald Trump criminally plotted to overturn his 2020 election defeat and “provoked his supporters to violence” at the Capitol with false claims of widespread voter fraud. See House Select Committee January 6 Attack Investigation for more, including Heather Cox Richardson’s analyses.

ChatGPT a ‘landmark event’ for AI, but what does it mean for the future of human labour and disinformation? – Chatbot is the newest artificial intelligence tool on the block — and its responses feel scarily human
This Swedish start-up is building an electric airliner
A Swedish startup has joined the race to build the world’s first electric airliner.
The 30-seat ES-30 regional airliner is due to be in service by the end of the decade.
Rivals include a 100-seat all-electric version of the BAE-146 regional jet.

Elon Musk and Twitter
Not sure whether to classify the week’s stories as good or bad news – or simply incredible; it does however belong to the lawyers’ dictum of never ask a question unless you know the answer.
Musk to step down as Twitter CEO once he finds ‘someone foolish’ enough as successor After that, I will just run the software & servers teams,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
This is the first time Musk has mentioned stepping down as chief of the social media platform, after Twitter users voted for him to resign in a poll, which the billionaire launched on Sunday evening.
In the poll, 57.5% of around 17.5 million people voted “yes.” Musk had said on Sunday he would abide by the results. He has not provided a time frame for when he will step down and no successor has been named.
The poll results capped a whirlwind week that included changes to Twitter’s privacy policy and the suspension – and reinstatement – of journalists’ accounts that drew condemnation from news organizations, advocacy groups and officials across Europe.

How did we overlook/miss this news?
Keystone pipeline leaks 14,000 barrels of oil into creek in biggest spill yet
The leak occurred in Washington county, Kansas, with the affected segment being ‘isolated’ and the drip contained.
Heather Cox Richardson gives a detailed history of the Keystone project(s) for all who may have forgotten all the ins and outs and political maneuvering involved.

Of personal concern, given that granddaughter Maya is a student there. She is safe and sound and Singapore-bound on Wednesday.
New Threat Disrupts Tufts for 3rd Day. Here’s What the President Says
Friday marked the third day in a row that a threat brought police to the campus of Tufts University in Medford and Somerville, the latest disruption during finals.
The university characterized it as a “security threat” — the previous days’ had been called bomb threats — and the campus remained open Friday, where evacuations were undertaken Wednesday and Thursday.

We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking.
‘They’re more like friends than objects,’ one passionate bookseller says. What are we to do with our flooded shelves?
A Border Collie – of course!
This dog has collected more than 1,000 littered plastic bottles
‘Finding plastic bottles is his focus and passion,’ said Yvonne Faulkner-Grant, adding that he drops them at her feet during walks so she can recycle them

Long reads
A beautiful essay.
Gratitude to Ukraine
Security, Freedom, Democracy, Courage, Pluralism, Perseverance, Generosity
If you are not familiar with the author, Timothy Snyder, check out his impressive credentials
Foreign Affairs Jan/Feb 2003
Putin’s Last Stand – The Promise and Peril of Russian Defeat
War is inherently unpredictable. Indeed, the course of the conflict has served to invalidate widespread early prognostications that Ukraine would quickly fall; a reversal of fortunes is impossible to discount. It nevertheless appears that Russia is headed for defeat. Less certain is what form this defeat will take. Three basic scenarios exist, and each one would have different ramifications for policymakers in the West and Ukraine.
What is the Reichsbürger movement accused of trying to overthrow the German government?
The Reichsbürger do not have a centralised structure but are estimated to have at least 21,000 supporters. Their key belief is that the current German state (the Bundesrepublik or Federal Republic), its institutions and democratically elected representatives are not legitimate.

Santa may have a rough ride on Christmas Eve, as much of the U.S. -and Canada- faces dangerous conditions, including heavy snow, strong winds and steep temperature drops. In Buffalo, meteorologists warned of a “once-in-a-generation storm.” As Winter Storm Forecasts Grow Ominous, Millions Brace for the Worst and Major winter storm expected for Ontario ahead of Christmas will impact travel plans, our hearts go out to all who are attempting to travel to and from Vancouver (Snow brought Vancouver flights to a halt Tuesday. What’s next for passengers?). According to new Canadian regulations that came into effect Sept. 8, airlines must try to rebook cancelled flights within 48 hours. Even if the cancellations are due to reasons outside of the company’s control — in this case, heavy snowfall — anyone who isn’t put on a new flight within two days is entitled to a refund or new travel arrangements at no additional cost. God help the airlines staff. Extreme cold warnings are continuing for B.C.’s north and Interior and we can only imagine the difficulties of people and animals in those regions. Stay safe and warm BC friends and – Judy Roberts where are you? (See Comments)

We wish we had much happier news, more suitable to the bright lights of the season. However, we should all take comfort in the warmth and love of the Wednesday Night family, wishing one another peace, joy, and good health throughout the days ahead.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #2127"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson December 22, 2022 at 1:36 pm · Reply

    Update from Judy Roberts
    “Here’s my short travel tale…I left my condo (in Toronto) at 2 pm Monday afternoon, walked the length of Pearson Airport 3 times due to gate changes, sat on Vancouver tarmac for 30 minutes ( blink of an eye given other takes), GOT MY LUGGAGE (checked one bag as I’m away 3 weeks) and then waited 2 hours outside in the snow in the taxi lineup. Got into my friend’s condo at 2 am BC time, 5 am my time.”

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