Wednesday Night #2134

Written by  //  February 8, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

Horrific news from Turkey and Syria – the death toll now over 12,000 and climbing.
Turkey and Syria earthquake death toll passes 12,000 as Erdoğan defends response
Turkish president rejects growing criticism as rescuers continue to pull survivors from freezing rubble
When the rescue efforts are over, recriminations will start – we have already heard some interviewees citing government’s inadequate construction regulations and GZERO speculates How Turkey’s Erdoğan responds to quake could impact his reelection chances. At the very least, his troublemaking in NATO should take a back bench.

The trek across Canada and the U.S. by the Chinese balloon kept us entertained until it was shot down off the Carolina coast, and immediately became the target of intense salvage operations. Ian Bremmer draws some serious Lessons from “balloon-gate” regarding the volatility of U.S.-China relations.
In an aside, we note that Defence minister [Anita Anand] says Canada supports U.S. downing of Chinese balloon. We are sure this gave great encouragement to President Biden.

The State of the Union (SOTU)
Lots of praise and lots of analysis from the media, however, Politico Ottawa Playbook sums up the Canadian perspective:
We should’ve seen the snub coming. The prepared remarks for President JOE BIDEN‘s second State of the Union mentioned Canada not a single time. Same for “North America.” And “continental.” …
BUT, more important, I make no excuses for it. We’re gonna Buy American, Biden ad-libbed to the chamber in Washington. “It’s totally consistent with international trade rules.”Buy American — a longstanding policy that preferences U.S. materials in government purchases — has been the law of the land since 1933, Biden said. “But for too long, past administrations have found ways to get around it. Not anymore.”
Biden announced new standards for all construction materials used in American federal infrastructure projects. He brought examples: lumber, glass, drywall, fiber optic cables. “And on my watch, American roads, American bridges, and American highways will be made with American products.”
But, but, but: What about Buy North American? So last year.
Justin Trudeau and his colleagues have their work cut out for them when President Biden comes to Ottawa!

If any of you stayed to watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ rebuttal on behalf of the Republicans, perhaps you can explain what she meant by “”I’m the first woman to lead my state, and he’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is”. We confess that we have always found her to be extremely annoying -obnoxious- and her speech last night did nothing to change our minds.

In case you have wondered about the state of his health: Salman Rushdie says he feels lucky and grateful in first interview since stabbing
The author stresses the importance of US giving asylum to exiled writers
Rushdie’s interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker was published days before a 9 February release date for his new novel, Victory City. The novelist’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said Rushdie would “not be making any public appearances to promote his forthcoming novel” as he continues recovering from the stabbing.

Our friend Uday Bhaskar writes:
General Pervez Musharraf: A tragic figure who failed to earn his nation’s respect, despite intensely yearning for it
Former Pakistan President and army chief General Pervez Musharraf who passed away in Dubai was a complex and impetuous leader. He combined a penchant for reckless military adventurism (Kargil) and yet had the ability to pursue more than once a peace dialogue with India – a nation that he detested, but also professing a love for its Hindi film songs!
He also forwarded the link to C Uday Bhaskar, Indian strategic analyst, speaks with Mayank Chhaya (South Asia Monitor) on Pakistan’s general turned president Pervez Musharraf’s legacy with the warning “More on Gen M.. ….his legacy et al in conversation with Mayank Chhaya be warned…..this is almost 30 minutes”

Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is in India The timing is hardly perfect as Prime Minister Modi is engaged in fighting off allegations of close ties and favours granted to the embattled  leader of the Adani group. and at the same time is being widely accused of censorship regarding the India: The Modi Question documentary. However, it seems so far so good, as she met with her opposite number, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar to discuss Indo-Pacific strategy.

This should be fun!
Koch network to back alternative to Trump after sitting out recent primaries
The return of one of the biggest spenders in American politics to the presidential primary field poses a direct challenge to the former president’s comeback bid

Canada Healthcare
At Tuesday’s much anticipated meeting, PM Trudeau presented premiers $196B health-care funding deal, with $46B in new funding over the next decade But, early indications are the offer hasn’t satisfied provinces’ demands. No surprise there.
…in order to access new federal dollars, provincial and territorial governments have to maintain their current health spending levels and commit to new transparency and accountability requirements around how health information is collected, shared, used, and reported to Canadians.
Jean Charest takes issue with the the feds’ strings-attached approach, stating that Ottawa should not be in the business of operating health-care systems. Is he right? Should Ottawa just hand over the money and require no accountability?
André Picard sees the problem differently: Lots of numbers, little imagination: The federal funding deal won’t fix health care – Tuesday’s meeting of the countries’ top leaders was little more than a gathering of pencil-pushing accountants, each trying to burnish their bottom line rather than actually improve health care.
Whatever the final outcome of the negotiations, it is evident that Canadian governments and health authorities must work to ensure that not only the patients, but our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers do not continue to suffer from the system’s failures. We must learn from what is happening in the U.S.
Doctors Aren’t Burned Out From Overwork. We’re Demoralized by Our Health System.

Québec Bill 96/Canada C-13
Andrew Caddell writes this week that Quebec’s anglophones [are] living a winter of discontentQuebec bureaucrats are preparing regulations for Bill 96, the egregious changes to the Charter of the French Language, which will soon explode on the anglophone community. The pusillanimous response from the Ottawa government is shocking, but not unexpected. Bravo Marc Garneau, St.Leonard’s Patricia Lattanzio, and Mount-Royal’s Anthony Housefather – the only MPs to stand up for their citizens.

Society, Social Media, Science & Technology
The debate over Chatbots continues and intensifies as Google introduces Bard
For those who are especially wary, Disinformation Researchers Raise Alarms About A.I. Chatbots
Researchers used ChatGPT to produce clean, convincing text that repeated conspiracy theories and misleading narratives.

Chris Neal highly recommends: “Raboy’s personal journey of discovery takes the reader into the terror of Argentina’s 1970s military dictatorship. Rich in anecdote and authoritative political history, this riveting work of remembrance combines thorough research with the pacing of a cracking good novel.”
Thursday, February 9 at 12:30 pm
Atwater Library Your choice: in person or online.
Author MARC RABOY discusses
LOOKING FOR ALICIA: The Unfinished Life of an Argentinian Rebel.
To REGISTER for the Zoom link, go here:

Friday, March 10 at 1-2:30 pm
From the Ground in Ukraine:
Paule Robitaille interviews Dan Bilak

co-sponsored by CIC with McGill Faculty of Law
Maxwell Cohen Moot Court, Room 100
Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 rue Peel
Details to follow

Long reads
Burt Bacharach, Composer Who Added a High Gloss to the ’60s, Dies at 94
His sophisticated collaborations with the lyricist Hal David — “The Look of Love,” “Walk On By,” “Alfie” and many more hits — evoked a sleek era of airy romance.
Canada is coming undone – The nation, widely known and admired for its tolerance and kindness, is fraying thread by thread.
Is Canada back on the world stage — or irrelevant?
After seven plus years in office, it’s time to assess the degree to which Trudeau’s rhetoric has been matched with action.
Sandy W. added to the debate on AI and ChatGPT with this:
A Skeptical Take on the A.I. Revolution
The A.I. expert Gary Marcus asks: What if ChatGPT isn’t as intelligent as it seems?
Politico’s Ottawa Playbook reminds us why last week was not a good week for the Fed Libs, and offers a good guide to political events of the current week, plus a story on Canada’s critical minerals New week, new leaf

And to conclude with a purely pleasurable thought: These beautiful monasteries are for sale across Italy

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #2134"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 8, 2023 at 10:26 pm ·

    A first for Wednesday Night!
    Andrew Caddell joined us unexpectedly from the Prince George airport.
    Loss of cabin pressure forced Air North flight to Whitehorse to land in Prince George
    Everyone arrived safely, says airline – which Andrew confirmed
    The pilot told passengers the flight was grounded due to a loss of cabin pressure, according to a recording from on board the flight.
    “At no point there was any danger, structural danger, nothing like that to the flight,” the pilot said once the plane was on the ground. “I’d like to say it’s not that big of a deal, but unfortunately for you guys, it seems a little bit worse than it is.”

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