Wednesday Night #2131

Written by  //  January 18, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The annual WEF (Davos) meeting runs this week (16-20 January) under the theme ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’.
Presumably Global Risks Report 2023 is required reading for attendees.
“The world faces a set of risks that feel both wholly new and eerily familiar. The Global Risks Report 2023 explores some of the most severe risks we may face over the next decade. As we stand on the edge of a low-growth and low-cooperation era, tougher trade-offs risk eroding climate action, human development and future resilience.”

Foreign Affairs notes: Front of mind for those convening in Switzerland will be the massive changes taking place across the global economic landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the rising tide of authoritarian populism have exposed many of the key assumptions and ideas that guided economic policy for decades as deeply problematic.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Davos, where she participated in a panel titled “Restoring Security and Peace” with Jens Stoltenberg, Andrzej Duda, Avril Haines, Yuliia Svyrydenko; CNN’s Fareed Zakaria moderated.

Ian Bremmer’s take on Davos is more entertaining -and still informative- than much of the punditry and analysis of other media
GZERO at Davos 2023Europe grapples with insecurity, instability, and proxy war

Just one G-7 leader will join the Davos elite this year as regular people battle cost-of-living crisis
The 2023 summit, which is a return to tradition after two years of pandemic disruption saw it held online in 2021 and held in May rather than January in 2022, will nonetheless be packed with high-profile names from the worlds of business and finance, politics, media, academia and civil society. … While Scholz’s G-7 counterparts will all have their own reasons for their absence, politicians are inevitably wary of being seen “hobnobbing with a global financial elite.” (emphasis added)

As China prepares for the Lunar New Year (Year of the Rabbit) celebration, urban workers crowded train stations across China’s largest cities on Tuesday -an early sign of economic recovery- and health experts fear a deepening of the COVID outbreak, leaving the elderly in rural villages particularly vulnerable. Chinese city dwellers head to hometowns as holidays raise COVID stakes
China’s population is stalled — and its economy is faltering – what these numbers mean is that the economic model that China has used to get to this level of becoming the world’s second biggest economy is now basically under siege because there are not enough bodies to do the work anymore.
Undeterred, China’s Vice-Premier Liu He, delivered a clear message to Davos We’re Open for Business

Israel
Wednesday’s news (Major Israeli Supreme Court ruling rocks Netanyahu’s coalition) that the Israeli Supreme Court in a 10-1 ruling revoked the appointment of Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and a key ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a senior minister in the government comes on the heels of news that Over 90 UN Member States Condemn Israel’s Sanctions Against Palestinian Authority, and protests by thousands against the proposed reform of the country’s legal system. Could it be that Bibi has gone too far?

Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas address the reform of Israel’s legal system introduced by Netanyahu and agree that until the centre-left opposition can coalesce around  a clearly defined  agenda, it is likely that the current hard-right government will prevail, despite the current fraught situation (note this was before the Supreme Court ruling).  They then turned to military aid to Ukraine (more news to come from the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting on Friday) reflecting less fear of Putin and the wisdom of not trying to dictate military strategy to Ukraine.

Troublesome ally.Turkey, continues to hold up accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO (Sweden, Finland must send up to 130 “terrorists” to Turkey for NATO bid, however news from Washington on Wednesday, may indicate a way out of the impasse if the U.S. insists that dropping its objections is a precondition of the sale of F-16s that Turkey is pressing for.

Paule Robitaille reports on her recent trip to the former USSR  in the National Post Back to the U.S.S.R.
Civilian life in war-torn Ukraine: No heating, power, water and not enough food
For Vladimir Putin, winter is a weapon of war, Paule Robitaille visited a war-torn neighbourhood in Irpin
No Russian and no Russians: Ukraine invasion has supercharged Latvian nationalism
Soviet Union symbols used to be tolerated, now they’re reminders of Putin’s aggression
Russophobia is at its peak in Georgia
If Ukraine loses, Georgia could be next. Russia’s imperial mission is one of the few things most Russians – even some liberals – can agree on. By these lights, in the land of poet warriors, there are no good Russians.

The U.S.
Just when things seemed to be going so much better for the Biden presidency, it was revealed that like Trump, Biden also had stored documents from the vice presidency in an office he had used, and at his home.
Biden political future clouded by classified document probe offers a good summary of the problem and contrasts with Trump’s situation, but the fact is this is red meat for the Republican House
See The Coming GOP Inquisition
Biden’s classified documents, the “weaponization of the federal government,” and other new targets for House investigations
The situation is made even worse by the assignments of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar to the Oversight and Accountability Committee, which plans to launch numerous investigations into President Joe Biden and his administration.
AND Biden, House GOP refuse to budge as key debt ceiling deadline looms [on Thursday]
While Treasury can employ extraordinary measures to keep making payments for the next few months, it’s a bad sign for how messy the standoff will grow.

Canada
How (relatively) tame are Canadian politics!
Lots of conjecture about the outcome of the NDP three-day retreat in Ottawa this week, where members of Parliament are expected to focus discussions on getting more wins out of their confidence-and-supply agreement with the federal Liberals.
Shine a brighter light on contract government
Two weeks ago, Paul Wells wrote about the “latest evidence of a massive trend in Canada’s federal government, in many provinces, and abroad: the contracting-out of complex problems to private firms that charge a premium; are never around when problems arise later; often produce work of questionable quality; and are too often exempt from even the minimal transparency and accountability that’s expected of work done in-house by the regular public service.” In a story Tuesday, the Globe shared the new summary from Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Pierre Poilievre called for a parliamentary probe of the Liberals’ relationship with McKinsey. And he got what he wanted. MPs launch study into federal McKinsey contracts, seeking documents and minister testimony
McKinsey has been awarded more than C$100-million in contracts since the Liberals were elected in 2015.
Pierre Poilievre is unpopular in Canada’s second-largest province — and so are his policies
The Conservative leader’s tendency to overreach at the expense of hard facts mostly comes across as a symptom of political immaturity, Chantal Hébert writes.

Haiti
The situation in Haiti -truly a failed state- appears no closer to resolution, but if you have not been paying attention, there is considerable pressure on Canada to take a leadership role in whatever international solution is finally agreed.

Event
Thursday, 19 January 8 am ET / 2 pm CET
Live From Davos 2023: Risks and Rewards of AI will present a candid and robust conversation about the future of artificial intelligence and the benefits and risks it presents.
Conversation moderated by Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic, with a panel of top global thought leaders:
Azeem Azhar, Founder, Exponential View
Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group and GZERO Media
Eileen Donahoe, Executive Director, Global Digital Policy Incubator (GDPI) at Stanford University
Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft

24 February
Notinikew, an anti-war mini-opera
7pm
Maison symphonique de Montréal
Louise Penny writes: “Andrew Balfour, one of the leading Indigenous voices, and composers, will be performing a series of his works in Winnipeg (Feb 20th – Louis Riel Day) and Montreal (February 23rd to March 5th). My great friend Shelagh Rogers and I will be at the Montreal concert on February 24th. I hope you can come out and support this amazing composer, the performers, and the themes of the works.”

Varia
Feeling crambazzled? A linguist shares words from the past that are fitting for 2023
From mubble fubbles to zwodder, Susie Dent has a word for how you feel
Who wouldn’t want some snerdles in a hibernacle?

Oxford thinks woke culture has gone too far
Speaking on proposition was Founder of the Free Speech Union (FSU) and Associate Editor of the Spectator Toby Young.
Toby Young: This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far

Alexandra Tcheremenska Greenhill highly recommends Beautiful News: Positive Trends, Uplifting Stats, Creative Solutions
Beautiful News focuses on fascinating positive developments at a time when the world has never seemed more dangerous and unpredictable. McCandless draws from philosophy, spirituality, ecology, society, technology, history, science, economics, and pop culture, to reveal positive trends and developments, from the invention of a breakthrough device that uses ocean forces to clean plastic from the world’s seas, to a new method of converting donated blood to the crucial “O” negative type that can be used universally.

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