Wednesday Night #2146

Written by  //  May 3, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2146

Much as we try to avoid it, iconic is the only apt adjective for two individuals whom we mourn.
Last week it was Harry Belafonte; this week, Gordon Lightfoot.
Among the many tributes to his music, Re-examining Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Canadian Railroad Trilogy’ stands out. It was commissioned by the CBC in 1967 to mark the country’s centennial. In his video essay, Noah Lefevre explains. … The railroad may have physically connected the country, but it came at the expense of Indigenous lives and on the backs of the people who built it, many of them migrant workers who were treated poorly.
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind The 88-minute documentary explores the career, music, and influence of the legendary Canadian musical icon.
Andrew Caddell‘s beautiful Hill Times column Lightfoot inspired us to understand Canada concludes “As our country gradually unravels in regionalism, nationalism, and political expediency, it is a shame we will not have our unofficial poet laureate around to remind us of the beauty of the land and the extraordinary history we share. But we will always have his music.”

3 May is the 30th World Press Freedom Day
The 2023 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, was released today. This year, the agency highlights the “rapid effects that the digital ecosystem’s fake content industry has had on press freedom.” Out of the 180 countries and territories analyzed, some 118 nations had a majority of their respondents say that political actors in their countries were “often or systematically involved in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns.”
Two decades ago, Canada was ranked fifth by Reporters Without Borders; by 2022, we had tumbled to 19th.
Political polarization, and the mistrust in journalism that it incubates, is a growing peril and part of the reason that Canada’s press freedom ranking has deteriorated. The cry of fake news or, more lately, misinformation has been weaponized against news outlets that don’t demonstrate sufficient deference to partisan sensitivities.

President Biden complete remarks at 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
Lots of good media coverage however, we prefer to quote our friend Chris Goodfellow:
“…A fiery speech indeed, full of humour and the right mix of seriousness included delivered with some good punch lines. …the reports of Biden’s dementia or of him being senile are vastly overrated by Fox News and its many MAGA acolytes.
The man is in full command of his faculties as he showed us with wit and wisdom Saturday night that actually had the entire crowd on its feet clapping and cheering at the end. He sent the message that he is in favor of a free, strong, independent press as guardians of democracy and not the sham pandering of Rupert Murdoch dictating the American narrative. Yes, at times Biden might stutter or seem to break a train of thought because of his speech impediment but no one should make fun of that or underestimate just how effectively he can connect when speaking about the real issues facing America. He certainly connected.
There are many who would have you believe he has done nothing in his Presidency but he has actually passed probably the largest block of legislation in many years that will have tremendous impact for years to come. The recovery act and associated legislation is now being felt in every community in America as the money is spread around. …”

No improvement in the situation in Sudanthe ceasefires are not effective
Canada’s response to the crisis in Sudan is not confidence inspiring and Hundreds of Canadians still waiting for help to escape – it seems no lessons learned from the Afghanistan débacle. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is assessing the region’s humanitarian needs during a visit to Kenya. We cannot imagine that her presence in Nairobi is making the work of the Embassy staff easier.

‘We simply don’t have the capacities, we don’t have the people and we don’t have the political will,’ says one Royal Military College professor
(National Post) Canada ended its evacuation flights of Canadian citizens in Sudan over the weekend, an extraction effort that one expert says amounted to a “last ones in, and first ones out” approach.

The World Awaits Ukraine’s Counteroffensive
As the country approaches a battle for its ultimate fate, democracy and Western civilization hang in the balance.
The Atlantic’s June cover story is a dispatch from Ukraine, including an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian leader met with our editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, staff writer Anne Applebaum, and Laurene Powell Jobs, chair of the magazine’s board of directors, and their conversations took place as Ukraine prepares to conduct what could be one of the most consequential military counteroffensives in modern history.
Ian Bremmer: Ukraine’s counteroffensive: Prospects for success, unity, and peace
I’m modestly optimistic about Ukraine’s odds. In part, this is because of how all-in the US and its NATO allies are on Kyiv’s success, having provided everything short of fighter jets and boots on the ground. And in part, it’s because of how patient the Ukrainians have proven to be in building up new units and incorporating Western weapons and ammunition – and how competently they’ve defended against Russia’s failed winter offensive.
As we await the counteroffensive, the headlines were enlivened by the claim that Ukraine had used two drones to attack the Kremlin – at the heart of Moscow – overnight.

A fair amount of attention has been given to the forthcoming (14 May) elections in Turkey amidst conjecture that opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu poses a serious challenge to President Erdogan. On the same date, Thailand will hold the first general election since youth-led mass pro-democracy protests in 2020 made unprecedented demands to curb the powers of both the monarchy and the military. The front runner is Paetongtarn Shinawatra, who gave birth to a son on Monday

A story worthy of Ben Macintyre – is he already working on it?
Iranian Insider and British Spy: How a Double Life Ended on the Gallows
In January, Iran executed a former senior official who provided Britain with valuable intelligence on Iranian nuclear and military programs over a decade, according to Western intelligence officials.

In case you had not noticed.
Alberta’s election race is on! Or it’s strangely slow. Or it’s all just one long slog

Paul Wells has been on a roll lately. His most recent offering He shall have dominionMaybe the Trudeau era is just beginning? is outstanding!

Communities across Quebec declared states of emergency as heavy rains washed out roads and cut off homes, leading to striking images of swollen rivers carrying away recreational vehicles and tearing apart infrastructure.
Our beloved Charlevoix is one of several parts of the province hit hard by flooding after a period of heavy rain, with some communities in the region declaring states of emergency.
Quebec’s Public Security Department said five communities in Lanaudiere had declared states of emergency, including Chertsey, St-Jean-de-Matha and Mandeville. Fort Coulonge, in western Quebec, was also under an emergency declaration.
The department reported major flooding along the Ottawa River at Baie Quesnel, just west of Montreal, and along the Rivière du Nord in St-Jerome, about 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal. In Lachute, Que., and nearby St-Jerome, 15 to 30 mm of rain was expected to fall by Wednesday.

Two topics never far from uppermost are EVs and AI.
While most of the recent discussion of EVs has focused on lithium and critical minerals (sources, infrastructure requirements, weight of batteries, recycling issues), Doug Sweet calls our attention to Why ‘right to repair’ could be the next big political movement, asking who would be able to play backyard mechanic with one of those?
Meanwhile, Pickups are going electric and truck fans are buying in. Will it reduce carbon emissions? Critics say their size still makes them less efficient
New aspects of the Good, Bad and Ugly of AI & Chatbots emerge daily -if not hourly. The departure of AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton from Google (‘The Godfather of A.I.’ Leaves Google and Warns of Danger Ahead) is not only among the most recent, but his concern that generative AI systems can overwhelm the internet with fake photos, videos and text, impairing people’s ability to differentiate truth from fiction should not be taken lightly. Mr. Hinton is also worried about job losses and the potential for AI to outsmart humans in the longer term.
For a -mostly- lighter take: My Weekend With an Emotional Support A.I. Companion
Pi, an A.I. tool that debuted this week, is a twist on the new wave of chatbots: It assists people with their wellness and emotions.
On Wednesday morning, the WEF Growth Summit examined Harnessing the Generative AI Revolution based on the premise that Generative AI has the potential to disrupt nearly every industry— promising both competitive advantage and creative destruction, and asking How will generative AI impact organizations and industries, and what strategies can help leaders leverage growth opportunities and manage challenges?

2-3 May
World Economic Forum Growth Summit 2023
will bring together business, government, civil society, international organizations and academic leaders working across sectors, industries and geographic boundaries.
The Summit aims to advance future opportunities and tackle current challenges through collaboration, foresight and innovation on three core themes: enabling resilient growth, developing human capital and accelerating economic equity.

Michael J. Fox talks mortality, Parkinson’s: ‘I’m not gonna be 80.’
In 2000, Fox launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which has supported some of the most ambitious research in the field. In April, researchers announced a major breakthrough, identifying forms of a protein and a testing method that can be used to diagnose Parkinson’s much earlier and reduce the numbers of people who are wrongly diagnosed with the disease.
The research stems from the Fox foundation’s Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, which for more than a decade has followed more than 1,100 volunteers with and without the disease.

Tristan recommends Still Life with BonesGenocide, Forensics, and What Remains, By Alexa Hagerty

Long reads
Requiem for the Newsroom Maureen Dowd’s evocative lament.

Has France really gone to hell? Its catastrophist discourse is at odds with the facts
Months of anger have obscured reality and sapped resistance to the politics of nostalgia

The Trait That ‘Super Friends’ Have in Common
A secure attachment style can help people initiate and maintain friendships.

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