Wednesday Night #2129

Written by  //  January 4, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As Quebecers note (we can hardly say ‘celebrate’) the 25th anniversary of the infamous ice storm, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, forecasting freezing rain, snow, ice pellets. How perfectly commemorative!
We only wish that the same warm community spirit that prevailed throughout the ice storm nightmare were in evidence today.

The past week has been marked by the deaths of four individuals whose influence in their respective fields spread across the world. While Pelé and Ian Tyson were universally admired, Barbara Walters and Benedict XVI will remain controversial figures for many years.
Barbara Walters, trailblazing TV icon, dies at 93
The pioneering TV news broadcaster was the first female anchor in evening news and was neither beloved, nor respected, by many of her colleagues. Jealous? Perhaps. But they raised valid questions about the line between entertainment and news.
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé dies at 82 and on Tuesday, he was given a joyous send-off. Even newly-inaugurated President Lula came from Brasilia to pay his respects.
Former Pope Benedict XVI dies in Vatican monastery aged 95. Despite the rift between supporters of Benedict and Pope Francis, the two apparently lived in harmony after Benedict’s abdication. Unless you are a theologian, we recommend The Two Popes as possibly the best way of understanding many of the differences between the two popes – with the added benefit of superb performances by Anthony Hopkins and ‎Jonathan Pryce.
Ian Tyson (1933–2022), “Four Strong Winds” singer and songwriter Ian & Sylvia became one of Canada’s most prominent folk acts as well as pioneers of country rock. Their 1962 song “Four Strong Winds,” written by Tyson, became a standard of folk music, Gordon Lightfoot on career launcher Ian Tyson

Janus continued from #2128
We are great admirers of Ian Bremmer and the Eurasia Group, therefore we highly recommend Eurasia Group’s Top Risks of 2023, Eurasia Group’s annual forecast of the political risks that are most likely to play out over the course of the year.
“We’re (mostly) through the pandemic. Russia has no way to win in Ukraine. The European Union is stronger than ever. NATO rediscovered its reason for being. The G7 is strengthening. Renewables are becoming dirt cheap. American hard power remains unrivaled. Midterms in the United States were decidedly normal … and many of the candidates posing the biggest threat to democracy (especially those who would have had authority over elections) lost their races. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is the weakest he has been since he became president, with a large number of Republicans preparing to take him on for the GOP nomination.
There’s got to be a catch.
The big one: A small group of individuals has amassed an extraordinary amount of power, making decisions of profound geopolitical consequence with limited information in opaque environments. On a spectrum of geopolitics with integrated globalization at one extreme, these developments are at the other extreme, and they’re driving a disproportionate amount of the uncertainty in the world today. …”
This marks the first time that Canada has appeared in Eurasia Group’s Top Risks report—albeit as a sub-entry under risk #8, Divided States of America. Not only is Ottawa’s most important trade and security partner fracturing domestically, but its polarized and even violent political culture is threatening to spread north. That might be a #8 risk globally, but it is a top risk for Canada. … Canada will be affected by some risks more than others, but its citizens, businesses, and policymakers will need to grapple with the consequences of them all.
Canada is picking up the political radicalization bug from the U.S., new report warns
Political issues are being weaponized at the expense of national unity, says Eurasia Group’s ‘Top Risk’ report
From our good friend and faithful correspondent Uday “2022 has been a blighted year… & many intractable challenges will alas, punctuate 2023; nonetheless…..Greetings for the New Year and hope we must….that our collective resolve and actions will make it a better year.
Turbulent 2022, Major Power Discord, and Challenges for the Middle East
C. Uday Bhaskar
The war is poised to enter a tragic second year unless there is a radical cessation of hostilities and commencement of peace talks, an exigency that seems to be a low probability for now. The war in Ukraine has led to a closing of ranks by the United States-led NATO, which has extended strong support to Kiev and has left Moscow relatively isolated. China and India have distanced themselves from this Russian war of choice and the imprudent nuclear saber-rattling.
This analysis highlights the impact of the 2022 events on the major world powers and likely implications for Asia in general and the Middle East in particular. The fallout can be reviewed across two determinants – the geo-political and the geo-economic.

Five space exploration missions to look out for in 2023
With many bold advances and launches due in 2023, we are entering a new phase akin to the “Golden era” of space launches in the 1960s and ’70s.
Latin America’s challenges and changes ahead
Looking back on 2022, it closed as the year in which Latin America swerved to the left, dictators received a blank check and an unprecedented migratory hemorrhage opened the veins the region.
If you thought 2022 was bad, wait until you see what 2023 has in store for the economy
(CBC analysis) Recession, persistent inflation and rising unemployment all forecast for the new year

The Council on Foreign Relations Why It Matters team looks back at an astounding 12 months.
2022 made it clearer than ever that our local lives are shaped by global forces. … But there was a lot going on outside the spotlight too. …
Shannon K. O’Neil: as I look into 2023, I would say the big thing that I’m watching for is this idea of Friend-Shoring. So what does this mean? So Friend-Shoring, we see the US government putting in policies to try to drive many supply chains or the making of things out of China. …the idea is, okay, some of this production and manufacturing will come back to the United States, but it can’t all be here. So we have to think about other countries we’d like to buy things from or we’d like to use as suppliers for the things that we need and those should be friends, not enemies.
Putin, polar bears and preppers: 10 Guardian articles that moved the needle in 2022
In the year of Russia’s war in Ukraine, rising inflation and fractious US midterm elections, we reflect on the pieces that most struck a chord with readers

We all have our preferred sources for news of Putin’s War, however, I would recommend Russia’s Depraved DecadenceThe Russians continue to murder both Ukrainians and their own young men for Putin’s mad scheme.
Author Tom Nichols reminds us “The successful Ukrainian defense and the Russian losses are good news for Ukraine. Every bit of optimism, however, must be tempered by two realities. First, Ukraine remains outnumbered and potentially outgunned by a much larger Russian Federation. … The second reality, however, is that the Russians don’t really care about losses”.

Thanks to Ron Meisels for Ukrainian Pie Song -a poignant battle cry.

Congratulations to Kyle Matthews and the MIGS team: “In 2022 we created and launched with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Canada, the Global Parliamentary Alliance Against Atrocity Crimes (GPAAAC) initiative. GPAAAC’s objective is to foster deeper and further collaboration between parliamentarians from Canada, Germany and EU-member states. The main goal is to unite parliamentarians in order to construct more strategic responses to the atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine by the Russian military, and to find pathways to hold those responsible for human rights abuses to account.”

A moment -actually 30 minutes- of most enjoyable levity is The Monocle‘s delightful send-up of war reporting and analysis, as it takes listeners back to the Bronze Age to revisit the Trojan War. Why did the Trojans fall for the Greeks’ wooden-horse stunt? Andrew Mueller speaks to Hannah Lucinda Smith, Jane Draycott and Daisy Dunn.

War Tourist, the autobiography of Hilary Brown, is a fascinating account of every aspect of the intrepid war correspondent’s life. It reads as though she were sitting across from you and simply chatting. Hard to put down.

Cleo Paskal: Inside CCP Entropic Warfare, From Shipping Fentanyl to Bribing Elites to Fueling Civil Wars

The fierce battle for the post of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives continues. On Tuesday evening, the House adjourned after Kevin McCarthy failed in three marathon votes for speaker.  , …it was not at all clear how the embattled GOP leader could rebound after becoming the first House speaker nominee in 100 years to fail to win the gavel with his party in the majority. By late Wednesday afternoon, he had failed to gain the speaker’s post in another three straight votes, and the House adjourned until 8 p.m. The empty speaker’s position means that the House is at a standstill. Without sworn members, it is unable to perform oversight, pass bills or set up constituent services. Maybe they could recall Nancy Pelosi?

Things Canadian
Politico Ottawa Playbook: Canadian federal politics has experienced some rough starts to the year of late: If the trend holds, this year isn’t likely to be different. We asked pundits to chart the challenges/opportunities shaping Canadian politics and why Trudeau is predicting a “tough” first six months ahead. (CTV News Chief Anchor Omar Sachedina sat down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the economy, health-care, and more.)
When premiers lose sight of what Canada stands for and undermine our country
(Globe & Mail editorial board) One conclusion many Canadians may come to as they look back at 2022 is that it would be in the country’s best interest to require provincial premiers to complete a civics course before taking office.
Such a conclusion would be based on the steady assaults on our constitutional democracy continued this year by the premiers of Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.
From Doug Sweet with comment: Paul Wells has produced a fascinating look at government addiction to blue chip consulting firms, not just here in Canada, where the Trudeau government has spent 30 times what Harper governments paid to McKinsey over a shorter period of time, but in Europe, where billions have been paid out to that and other firms, such as Deloitte. Governing is hard and it’s becoming more and more common for governments to pay outsiders for the work they and their own public servants ought to be doing.
Shine a brighter light on contract government
Ottawa’s becoming addicted to consulting firms. Other countries have rung the alarm. It’s time for the same to happen here.
‘Freedom Convoy 2.0’ in jeopardy as top organizer announces cancellation
Organizers and supporters of the “Freedom Convoy 2.0” are divided over whether another event inspired by last year’s disruptive protest in the capital will take place in Ottawa and Winnipeg next month.
Several key figures from last February’s protest, which occupied the capital’s downtown streets for nearly a month, insist people will gather in Manitoba in mid-February despite a press release from a main organizer claiming otherwise.
The ‘freedom convoy’ protesters are a textbook case of ‘aggrieved entitlement’ (February 2022)

Faithful watcher of all things Canadian, Terry Jones calls our attention to the Wall Street Journal story MAID in Canada: What’s Behind the Euthanasia Scandal?Advocates argue it would be discriminatory to deny assisted suicide to patients with mental illnesses.
Also from Terry, a link to Bloomberg’s year-end assessment Trudeau Finds Surer Footing After Riding Out Protests and Inflation (Paywall)
Canadians should be wary of the rushed Rogers-Shaw decision
…it is worth considering how the most important merger in recent memory was decided at lightspeed and to the benefit of three billionaire families.

Confirming Peter Frise‘s analysis of Southwest Airlines’ failures: “even with the shiniest hardware, the software that plays a critical role inside many systems is too often antiquated, and in some cases decades old. This failing appears to be a key factor in why Southwest Airlines couldn’t return to business as usual the way other airlines did after last week’s major winter storm.” The Shameful Open Secret Behind Southwest’s Failure

Varia
Here’s what 2023 has in store, as predicted by experts in 1923
(NPR) Forget flying cars. When scientists and sociologists in 1923 offered predictions for what life might look like in a hundred years, their visions were more along the lines of curly-haired men, four-hour workdays, 300-year-old people and “watch-size radio telephones.”
“In reading a forecast of 2023 when many varieties of aircraft are flying thru the heavens, we do not begin the day by reading the world’s news, but by listening to it for the newspaper has gone out of business more than half a century before,” wrote one newspaper (which was neither identified nor entirely off-base).

From Linda Renaud, this bit of Christmas-related lore:
When Salvador Dalí Created Christmas Cards That Were Too Avant Garde for Hallmark (1960)

The Washington Post now publishes (sporadically) Post Elizabeth, a newsletter following the British monarchy’s transition. The latest edition trumpets With Prince Harry’s book, more royal drama looms
Calling for a volunteer Spare is to be published next Tuesday (10 January). What brave soul will read it in the next few weeks and offer a précis to Wednesday Night?

Long reads
Eurasia Group’s Top Risks of 2023,  annual forecast of the political risks that are most likely to play out over the course of the year.

A VERY long read, but fascinating illustration of how wrong even trusted sources can be.
Oops! The Worst Political Predictions of 2022
The red wave never arrived, nor did the Russian victory over Ukraine. And that’s just the start of an incredible year in bad prognostication.

Benedict XVI, first pope to resign in 600 years, dies at 95

How Beijing is controlling Chinese media in Canada and around the world
An excerpt from Joshua Kurlantzick’s new book — Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World

Cleo Paskal: Inside CCP Entropic Warfare, From Shipping Fentanyl to Bribing Elites to Fueling Civil Wars (Full text)

In her own words: Pelosi steps back after decades in charge
Pelosi, 82, held court twice recently with a small group of reporters in the “Board of Education” room on the first floor of the Capitol. … here  are some highlights of those conversations, as well as some quotes from Post archives.

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