Wednesday Night #2137

Written by  //  March 1, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

The Wednesday Night Book Club
The first half hour of last week was devoted to a most diverting conversation about espionage and books, with much praise for Ben Macintyre and, in particular A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, now a thrilling 6-part series on Prime, and from Ron Meisels, Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle.
Following the same theme:
In “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos,” Judy Batalion sheds light on the stories of a cadre of Jewish women in Poland―some still in their teens― who helped transform Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis. NB Steven Spielberg has optioned it for a major motion picture. (See interview of Judy Batalion)
Marie Cormier recommends The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone, as well as the film Simone Veil, A Woman of the Century – unfortunately no longer playing at Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin.
And a new recommendation: The Noise of Typewriters, Remembering Journalism By Lance Morrow, as we mourn the demise of newspapers.

Bitter harvest for some in a global economy changed by Russia’s war
Richard Partington and Damian Carrington
A year of conflict has brought soaring prices and faltering trade, but also a step change in the switch to renewables

Another giant gone.
Gordon Pinsent, Canadian acting icon, dead at 92. Given the current overuse of ‘icon’ and ‘iconic’, we are actively avoiding the words, but must make an exception in his case. The outpouring of stories, memories and accolades is impressive and touching. Condolences Pour In for Acting Legend Gordon Pinsent
How fortunate were those who knew and/or worked with him.

One year since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the conflict is drawing more of the world in, including China. A recent meeting between China’s top diplomat and Russian President Vladimir Putin has NATO allies worried that the two superpowers are becoming too close, and that China is considering selling arms to the Russian military. Meanwhile, China is also facing criticism in Canada for allegedly meddling in the last two federal elections. Global affairs analyst and Atlantic Council senior fellow Michael Bociurkiw joins host Piya Chattopadhyay from Kyiv to discuss what the global landscape looks like one year into the war, and what we should make of China’s actions.
NB Our friend Jeremy Kinsman disagrees with a number of points (see Comment below)

No good news this week.
Thomas L. Friedman: Netanyahu Is Shattering Israeli Society
Violence between settlers and Palestinians is not new. But when it coincides with the most ultranationalist, ultra-Orthodox government in Israel’s history — that is now driven by messianic religious zealots, whose goal is to annex the whole West Bank and who now control key police, finance and military portfolios
As Sandy W points out, the key statement is” The judicial “reform” would also give his right-wing coalition the unfettered power to build any settlements in any place, to seize any Palestinian land and to pour tax dollars into Orthodox religious schools where young people have only to study the Torah, not math, science or literature — let alone serve in the army.
Israeli settlers on the rampage isn’t a shock – it’s daily life for Palestinians in the West Bank
Israeli Gov’t Earmarks 2.5 Billion Shekels for ultra-Orthodox Coalition Partners: it’s not clear where exactly the money will be going – for instance, how much of it will be going to yeshivas.

Ever since China released its “Peace Plan” for Ukraine on 24 February, there has been an endless rush of analyses and reactions. Ranging from some early cautious interest (China issues peace plan; Zelenskyy says he’ll await details) to Russia’s dismissal of the plan (Russia shoots down China’s peace plan for the Ukraine war as Beijing becomes more entangled in the conflict a year into the fighting), [Viktor Orbán is off-side]; the Carnegie Institute’s skepticism (Inside China’s Peace Plan for Ukraine) and McGill’s Jennifer Welsh’s clear-eyed opinion piece With its Ukraine peace plan, China seeks to make itself indispensable on the world stage

China watchers -who isn’t one these days?- are also focused on the TikTok story (Here are the countries that have bans on TikTok) On Tuesday’s Diplomatic Community Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas considered the US and Canadian bans
The games China Plays – TikTok and Canadian elections, both expressing general agreement.
Abusing state power’: China lashes out at US over TikTok bans
Beijing – which itself blocks access to Facebook, Twitter and many others – hits out at ban on Chinese-owned software on US government devices.
On the question of Chinese interference in Canadian elections, Jeremy was “shocked!” and skeptical. And the authors of a report released Tuesday have concluded that attempts to interfere with the 2021 federal election did not affect the results. But that’s not the end of Canada-China questions as the Trudeau Foundation is now returning $200K to Beijing-linked donor
It has not been a good week for the government.

Cleo writes from Palau” In case you are wondering what I’ve been up to here’s a China Unscripted chat covering some of my research China Is Flooding the Pacific with Money, Corruption
The Chinese Communist Party knows that if it can get a foothold in the Pacific islands, its rivals would have a hard time coming to Taiwan’s aid. This is all part of the CCP’s invasion plan for Taiwan, and that plan seems to be coming to fruition.

Nigeria elects political “Godfather” as president GZERO is generally positive about the president-elect, former governor of Lagos, but cautions that “he’s the first Nigerian president to win the top job without a popular majority — and his rivals have cried foul over his victory. The opposition has 21 days to legally challenge the results, but then it could take up to eight months for the dispute to be resolved — like in 2019” – not a good outlook for a country facing multiple problems

The saga of Bills 96 and 13
If you missed it, do read the opinion piece La langue n’est pas un jeu à somme nulle by Marc Garneau and Anthony Housefather that appeared in Le Devoir. An interesting approach to invoke Bill 32 (Loi sur la liberté académique dans le milieu universitaire) as an argument.

Hunter Prize for Public Policy
Shaking up policymaking with fresh ideas and voices
Through the Prize, The Hub will be giving away $50,000 annually for the best public policy ideas to tackle the major challenges facing our society.
The focus of the 2023 Hunter Prize is the wait times crisis in Canadian health-care systems. The best policy idea to address wait times will win $25,000 and nine runners up will split another $25,000 in prize money.
The Prize is open to citizens of Canada, permanent residents, and students 40 year of age or under.

ChatGPT and cheating: 5 ways to change how students are graded
Louis Volante, Brock University; Christopher DeLuca, Queen’s University, Ontario; Don A. Klinger, University of Waikato write on The Conversation: We believe the emergence of ChatGPT creates an opportunity for schools and post-secondary institutions to reform traditional approaches to assessing students that rely heavily on testing and written tasks focused on students’ recall, remembering and basic synthesis of content

Unintended consequences
A year after Russia invaded Ukraine, a walrus discovery is caught up in geopolitics

Thurs, March 2
Kyle Matthews is participating in a panel discussion on Human Rights
moderated by Marc Nicholson
at the 1880 Club in Singapore
Fri, March 10
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST
“From the Ground in Ukraine”
Paule Robitaille interviews Dan Bilak
McGill University Moot Court Moot Court room 100 3644 Peel
March 27
For our Toronto friends with a spare $500
The Bill Graham Memorial Lecture series launch
featuring Margaret MacMillan and Bob Rae
in Toronto

So happy that Sandy W’s OuiCanSki for Ukrainian refugees has garnered so much good publicity culminating in “The Moment” for CBC’s TheNational With Adrienne Arsenault and Tuesday’s segment on Radio Noon in which she offers excellent advice on the right, warm, clothing in order to enjoy any winter activity.

Long reads
Chinese balloon saga is part of a long history of U.S.-China tensions
Chinese balloons therefore must be assessed within the context of decades of mutual espionage and an awareness of the many storms in the overall U.S.-China relationship.
Inside China’s Peace Plan for Ukraine
China’s vague plan is aimed not at actually ending the war, but at impressing the developing world and rebutting accusations that Beijing has become a silent accomplice to Moscow.

‘Something Was Badly Wrong’: When Washington Realized Russia Was Actually Invading Ukraine
A first-ever oral history of how top U.S. and Western officials saw the warning signs of a European land war, their frantic attempts to stop it — and the moment Putin actually crossed the border.
This is the story of the Biden administration’s strategy and reaction to that looming Russian invasion — the battle to persuade skeptics and rally foreign allies to confront an almost-unthinkable threat, one that continues to shake the world today

‘That’s my neighbour’: Mariupol residents’ shock at Putin’s parade line-up
At the climax of the pageantry in Moscow to mark the first anniversary of the start of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war in Ukraine, the Kremlin wheeled out children from Mariupol in occupied south-east Ukraine to “thank” their invaders.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #2137"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 1, 2023 at 8:17 pm ·

    26 Feb.
    Re Michael Bociurkiw on CBC
    I’m underwhelmed. I find it very doctrinaire, Atlantic Council all the way. But his comments on the mood in Kiev are affecting.
    Listen to what Jake Sullivan said to Zakaria thia morning about the jets. Not what Ukraine needs now. They need other weapons and Ukraine should get them, fast. Ukraine will get the F-16s later, to protect their sovereignty. Russian planes aren’t an issue now…they never won air cover. Missiles are the problem. The Ukrainian defence systems are getting 80% of cruise missiles and drones, thought the jets could be an aid on getting ICBMs (though Russia’s running out)
    The China stuff? Does he know whtY wang went to moscow and what he said? I think he probably went to give the Russians a heads-up on the “peace proposal” calling for an end to war and respect for national sovereignty. That is not a pleasant outcome for Putin, since he has denied Ukraine is a legitimate sovereign country. If I am right, it is then obvious that Wang would be sent to put the best face on it. The Chinese do not like what this war has become. But Michael’s right – they don’t want Russia to emerge a loser. I sense Michael does. What you want and what you can get are different and shouldn’t be confused. We want and must get a defence of the non-interference norm and that means undoing the Russian invasion.
    I can’t guess if the China play is real or has much chance of succeeding but Zelinsky’s cautious welcome of such an initiative (whatever it is) reflects two things Michael recognizes – the very close China-Ukraine relationship from before, and the pragmatic attitude of China to its interests in a stable world economy which this war threatens to disrupt.
    Other stuff he mentions – 100 armed iranian drones – just hearsay.

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