Wednesday Night #2143

Written by  //  April 12, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2143

President Joe Biden is on his first visit to Northern Ireland as it marks 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement (see long reads below). In his speech in Belfast at the new campus of Ulster University, he nudged politicians to resolve a stalemate that has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government. In the past month, the terrorism level in the region was raised to severe, and in Derry on Monday, police came under attack during a march by dissident Irish Republicans.
‘Huge honour’: Ireland breaks out the bunting for Joe Biden
US president given rapturous welcome despite bad weather as he begins celebration of his Irish heritage
We are struck by the almost complete silence about the critical role played by John de Chastelain in the Northern Ireland peace process, starting in 1995 and from 1997 to 2011 as Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, which was responsible for ensuring the decommissioning of arms by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. Only Lisa Van Dusen in Policy Magazine writes about Celebrating 25 Years of Peace in Northern Ireland, and the Quiet Canadian Who Got the Guns
Bono received far more attention from Canadian media. How Bono helped bring peace to Northern Ireland

E is for espionage
A murky document mystery
(GZero media) Some months ago, mysterious documents began showing up on websites used mainly by online gamers that appear to reveal top-secret US government information on the war in Ukraine and other sensitive topics. In particular, they include what seem to be maps of Ukrainian air defenses and an analysis of a secret plan by US ally South Korea to covertly deliver 330,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine to boost its widely expected spring counteroffensive.
Once noticed, copies of the documents made their way into mainstream media and triggered investigations by the Pentagon and the US Justice Department over possible leaks. Ukrainian officials say the documents may have come from Russian spies. Others say someone inside the US intel community must have leaked them. Some experts warn the documents may be fakes.
Given the stakes for Ukraine and for US relations with allies, this isn’t a story anyone should ignore. But the most important questions – Who did this? Why? Are the documents real? Will they change the war? If so, how? – can’t yet be answered. And like the mystery surrounding the explosion that damaged the Nord Stream pipeline last September, they may never be answered.

While much of the world debates the mysteries of the US intelligence leak, the chattering classes of Canada -and especially Montreal/Ottawa- are focused on the quasi-scandal of the mysterious $200,000 donation to the Trudeau Foundation allegedly by Zhang Bin. (See Canada – China 2022/3) It is a strange tale and hard to understand why, now, some seven years later, the Board and ED feel compelled to resign. There must be more that we don’t know – and will we ever?
Wednesday’s G&M coverage Un-returnable Chinese donation triggered governance crisis at Trudeau foundation: report attempts to shed some light.

From the U.S. comes news of more gun violence; bizarre events in the Tennessee state legislature; calls for investigation -at the least- of SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas’ trips ; and pronouncements from Donald Trump that He Won’t Drop Presidential Bid if Criminally Convicted
Doug Sweet encourages careful study of The Republican Strategists Who Have Carefully Planned All of This

Local politics
According to Politico “Former Liberal party president ANNA GAINEY hopes to win the nomination in MARC GARNEAU‘s Montreal riding, reports the Hill Times. Gainey is married to TOM PITFIELD, a childhood friend of JUSTIN TRUDEAU and voter data guru who co-founded the Canada2020 think tank where Gainey serves as executive chair.” Hands-up all those who think this is a really bad entitlement idea.

AI, Chatbots and technology
Psychologist Paul Bloom explores whether AI can truly match human consciousness
We’re living a world where AI is doing very impressive and ‘very scary things,’ says UofT professor
We tested a new ChatGPT-detector for teachers. It flagged an innocent student
After months of sounding the alarm about students using AI apps that can churn out essays and assignments, teachers are getting AI technology of their own. On April 4, Turnitin is activating the software I tested for some 10,700 secondary and higher-educational institutions, assigning “generated by AI” scores and sentence-by-sentence analysis to student work. It joins a handful of other free detectors already online. For many teachers I’ve been hearing from, AI detection offers a weapon to deter a 21st-century form of cheating.
Happier news
Six simple technologies that quietly make life better
Better-sounding phone calls, QR codes that make digital payments a breeze and government websites that just work.

Only in Saskatchewan? Alan Hustak‘s glorious Easter story:
I don’t really like Opera, except for Tosca and Faust. So there I was driving up to Saskatoon on an open stretch of highway yesterday listening to the glorious production with Angela Gheorghiu in the title role from the Met. I got so caught up in the music didn’t notice that I was doing 134 kmph. So the mounties turn on their flashing lights, one car ahead of me, one behind, and there I am sandwiched between the two squad cars like a common criminal. Cop approaches, I roll down the window and reach over to turn down the music. Cop sticks his head in the window, and says “don’t turn that down, turn it up.” So I do. So there is this Mountie, head through the window, listening to the aria in the third act.
I wait.
Tosca falls to her death.
The opera ends.
Then he asks me for my license, disappears for what seems to be an eternity… the cop car in front of me leaves.
He returns.
“I’m not going to give you a ticket,” he says. “Gonna give you a warning. I love opera.”
And with that Tosca saved my ass.

Query for Marc Nicholson, Kyle Matthews and Céline
A recent story in the WaPo is headlined Bali locals are fed up with bad tourists
Any concerns, Marc, for your new project?
Kyle and Céline: Did you seen signs of this unhappiness? Exaggeration?

Sandy W writes: “My most AMAZING and FANTASTICALLY BRILLIANT friend Nancy Guerin has been working on this documentary for 4 years”
Monday, 17 April
Lac-Mégantic – this is not an accident, visually and narratively striking, revisits a train explosion incident in the middle of a Canadian city as a chronicle of a disaster foretold. From overwhelming testimonies to archive images, this documentary series questions our frantic race for profit and its inevitable derailment.
Documentary Series Competition Program 1.

Sunday, 23 April
Goldbloom Family Forum: Aging with Dignity in a Changing World
Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom and the Goldbloom Family Forum invite all to join this free public lecture
The challenges and status of health care for seniors is the focus of this year’s edition of the Victor and Sheila Goldbloom Family Forum, hosted by Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom. Award-winning author and journalist André Picard is the keynote speaker,
and will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Elise Levinoff of the Division of Geriatric Medicine of the Jewish General Hospital and Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Liv Mendelsohn, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, and Aaron Derfel, the Montreal Gazette’s medical reporter and Journalism professor at Concordia University. The conversation will be moderated by Rabbi Lisa Grushcow.

April 27-30
Blue Metropolis Celebrates 25 Years Of Literature In All Its Forms
This anniversary edition shines a bright light on Montreal’s thriving literary communities, and features local writers alongside and acclaimed authors.
The festival kicks off online starting April 12 with the in-person program at Hotel 10 running from April 27 to 30
NB 17 April 7pm
A special pre-festival live event with Margaret Atwood will take place at St. James United Church. She will talk about Old Babes in the Woods, her latest collection of short stories.
25th edition of the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival
Saturday, 29 April
11:00 a.m. HOTEL 10

Long reads
Canada’s Global Affairs department is in crisis — right when Canadians need it most
Ottawa was told its foreign service was broken decades ago. A revolving door of foreign ministers later, the country is still waiting for the fix as the world order fractures
The Post spoke to dozens of sources, who collectively painted a picture of a department that is risk-averse, complacent and Ottawa-centric. One that has lost many of its regional specialists, having become too “generalist” at the expense of deeper, country-specific knowledge and insight. And many agree it has grown top-heavy, with too many senior managers relative to staff.
Just about everything you need to know about the Good Friday Agreement
25 years ago, on 10 April 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
Disunited Kingdom – Will Nationalism Break Britain?
The United Kingdom created a beta version of democracy in the eighteenth century: innovative and progressive in its day but long since surpassed by newer models. The country has, however, been extremely reluctant to abandon even the most egregious anachronisms. The biggest transformation in its governance was joining the European Union, and that has been reversed. It now has to make a momentous and existential choice—between a radically reimagined United Kingdom and a stubborn adherence to the English habit of muddling through [what Winston Churchill called KBO, for “keep buggering on”] If it chooses the latter, it will muddle on toward its own extinction.
The World Could Move Toward Russia and China
Last fall, eight months into the new world disorder created by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the University of Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy produced a long report on trends in global public opinion before and after the outbreak of the war.
Not surprisingly, the data showed that the conflict had shifted public sentiment in developed democracies in East Asia and Europe, as well as the United States, uniting their citizens against both Russia and China and shifting mass opinion in a more pro-American direction.
But outside this democratic bloc, the trends were very different. For a decade before the Ukraine war, public opinion across “a vast span of countries stretching from continental Eurasia to the north and west of Africa,” in the report’s words, had become more favorable to Russia even as Western public opinion became more hostile.
Psychologist Paul Bloom explores whether AI can truly match human consciousness
We’re living a world where AI is doing very impressive and ‘very scary things,’ says UofT professor
With his new book, Psych: The Story of the Human Mind, Canadian psychologist Paul Bloom probes the difference between the brain and the mind, the mystery of consciousness, a
nd whether artificial intelligence will ever match human thought.

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