Wednesday Night #2148

Written by  //  May 17, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2148

For Biden, Crisis at Home Complicates Diplomacy Abroad
We admit that we have not followed the tortuous path of the US debt ceiling negotiations, largely because crises over the debt ceiling have lurked before (Here’s why a high-stakes debt ceiling fight looms on Capitol Hill) and been resolved after considerable political brinksmanship. Therefore, President Biden’s cancellation of his pre-G7 summit visit to Australia and Papua New Guinea, along with cancellation of the Quad summit came as a shock. (See Heather Cox Richardson – long reads, below)
While headlines and analyses are not reassuring, we take some comfort from the assessment of NYT chief White House correspondent Peter Baker:
“He was at least bolstered before leaving Washington by signs of progress as both sides emerged from a White House meeting on Tuesday expressing optimism that an agreement was possible. In the preparations leading up to the G7 meeting, officials from the other participating countries have not struck U.S. officials as all that alarmed about the possibility of default, perhaps because they trust Mr. Biden, know that the moment of truth is still a couple [of] weeks away and assume that Washington will get its act together in time.”

There were three important election results from the past week. First, the news that India‘s main opposition Congress party wrested control of the crucial southern Karnataka state from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party was generally greeted with positive comment, including GZERO, which noted “Karnataka is home to Bengaluru, India’s tech hub, which Modi tried to woo with a whopping 19 campaign stops in the state over seven days.”
In Thailand, the opposition trounced the military parties, however for any of the opposition parties to take power, they will need to form a coalition that has numbers strong enough to pass through a system that is weighted in favour of the military-backed candidates. A future prime minister will be voted on not just by the 500-seat house of representatives, whose membership is be dictated by the election results, but also by the senate, whose 250 members were appointed by the military after the last coup. It is unclear if senators’ votes will reflect the will of the people, especially given Move Forward’s ambition to reform Thailand’s lese-majesty law. Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat is an attractive, educated and well traveled prime ministerial candidate, with a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard and an MBA from MIT. Stay tuned.

The election in Turkey was the one we followed most closely. Current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faced the strongest challenge to his 20-year rule, he secured 49.5% of the vote, while his main challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu won 44.9%. So a presidential runoff will be held on May 28. For best analysis see Turkey’s sultan Erdogan is not going anywhere (long reads below)
Why is Erdogan still popular?
“Nationalism has worked for Erdoğan and he’s the one with the path to victory,” says Dimitar Bechev, a University of Oxford academic and the author of a new book on how the president has turned his country against the West.
And now, having brokered and announced this good news, Ukraine Black Sea grain deal extended for two months, he gains friends and influence in many developing nations. Even the UN is pleased with him.

On Tuesday, 16 May, Wednesday Night established a new record:
Cleo Paskal testified before the Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee of the US House Committee on Natural Resources on Preserving U.S. Interests in the Indo-Pacific, while the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from New York University professor emeritus Gary Marcus, along with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

We are grateful to Cleo for maintaining our interest in and information about the politics of Indo-Pacific strategy, especially with respect to the shifting alliances of the Pacific islands. It is a topic that Canada seemingly pays no attention to.

AI and Chatbots continue to dominate any discussion of technology and we follow as best we can. The recent -and quite alarming- interventions by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Montreal deep-learning luminary Yoshia Bengio, and Canada’s Geoffrey Hinton keep us on our toes, while Sandy keeps us up-to-date on the doings and sayings of Gary Marcus . Our favorite source of analysis and commentary is The Atlantic for giving us articles like ChatGPT Is Already ObsoleteThe next generation of AI is leaving behind the viral chatbot

Natural disasters/Climate
First the ice storm, then the floods, and now the terrifying wildfires in the West. Alberta’s fight against wildfires could drag on all summer, official says. Check out the photos of Wildfire smoke blanketing Canadian skylines and landscapes
World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn
UN agency says El Niño and human-induced climate breakdown could combine to push temperatures into ‘uncharted territory’
The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold, which scientists have warned could have dire consequences, should be only temporary, according to research from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
However, it would represent a marked acceleration of human impacts on the global climate system, and send the world into “uncharted territory”, the UN agency warned.
John Buchanan continues to forward supportive material for his position on the IPCC and climate policy in general. The latest is from Roger A. Pielke Jr who writes “Regular readers of The Honest Broker will know that I have taken issue with the recent IPCC Sixth Assessment (AR6) based on an unacceptable number of errors and omissions in my areas of expertise, as well as its over-reliance on the most extreme climate scenarios. Today I take a look at the IPCC’s self-described political agenda and argue that the institution finds itself at a fork in the road. ” The Political Agenda of the IPCCScientific Assessment or Environmental Advocacy Group? Pick One

Andrew Caddell‘s column this week Newfoundland and Labrador Still Rock [look for complete text on his Facebook page; if all else fails, I can send you the .pdf] is a delightful account of the 3-day trip he and his family took last weekend. He explains that the trip was planned for a number of reasons, but mainly because his globetrotting children had never been to what once was his home. It is hard to believe they left anything undone (and they certainly ate well!). He concludes:
“the people on The Rock continue to be friendly, cheery, generous and creative. They produce some of the most talented entertainers in the world: Mark Critch’s “Son of a Critch” TV show is being syndicated abroad, and “Come From Away” continues to delight audiences everywhere. Every time I visit, I am reminded how very lucky Canada was when Newfoundland and Labrador chose to join it in 1949.”

Charming diplomatic interlude.
Mission Accomplished: The Notorious International Chocolate Bar Incident
Elizabeth May
On Friday, March 24th, 2023, on or about the hour of 11:55 a.m., I, Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, brazenly handed the president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, a rectangular object the size of a premium chocolate bar. It was not an explosive device — except in the sense of exploding on Twitter as an act variously described as tacky, inappropriate, adorable, patriotic, excellent, fabulous and weird. It was not a climate change manifesto — I actually think Joe Biden has done a lot of good for the planet under difficult political circumstances and told him as much to his face that day in the parliamentary receiving line before his speech in the House of Commons.
The rectangular object the size of a premium chocolate bar that I handed Joe Biden was, in fact, a premium chocolate bar.

Local politics and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
We cannot refrain from commentary about the disgracefully heavy-handed Anna Gainey campaign for the LPC nomination in the NDG-Westmount riding. The PMO’s relentless pushing of their chosen candidate was designed to discourage any competition, let alone debate (Bill C-13 anyone?). We all owe a debt of gratitude to Fred Headon for having nonetheless persevered with his candidacy and hope that this experience will not discourage him from future political action.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly going door-to-door – really? With Sudan, Canada-China crisis, build-up to G7, sudden new outreach to South Korea where it seems it was easy to jettison feminist principles And Canada wants in on AUKUS after all. Finally, let’s not forget the disastrous reaction to the new Canadian coat of arms and passport designs. But she had time to wander the streets of Westmount …

Victimhood in the extreme?
Accused Toronto Mafia boss says he’s a victim of anti-Italian ethnic profiling
Accused Toronto Mafia boss Vincenzo DeMaria says ethnic profiling and anti-Italian stereotypes are behind efforts to deport him from Canada for organized criminal activity.

Revisiting BlackBerry’s extraordinary rise and spectacular fall
BlackBerry – the movie – has been released and is showing in a theatre near you!
Based loosely on Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, written by former Wednesday Nighter (who has promised to return soon) Sean Silcoff with Jacquie McNish.
It is not a documentary, nor a faithful rendition of the book, but once that is accepted, reviews are generally good.
The triumph—yes, triumph—of BlackBerry
A new movie chronicles the collapse of the original addictive smartphone, but can’t convey why it mattered so much in the first place.
And for history buffs: What Happened To Mike Lazaridis After BlackBerry – BlackBerry’s movie ends before several key events in the company’s downfall occur – here’s what happened to Mike Lazaridis in real life.

ACNU – Association Canadienne pour les Nations Unies
Nous sommes ravis d’annoncer notre prochaine conférence: Les répercussions des crises internationales sur l’Éducation: état des lieux dans le monde et au Québec.
Le 23 mai prochain, 16:30 à 1900
venez nous rejoindre au pavillon Président Kennedy de l’UQAM pour assister à une conférence stimulante présentée par l’ACNU Grand Montréal.
Sept experts du milieu de l’éducation seront présents; un événement à ne pas manquer!
Réservez votre billet gratuit en suivant ce lien

Long reads
Letters from an American May 17, 2023
Heather Cox Richardson
The debt ceiling crisis is already affecting our national security. Because President Biden has pulled out of his trip to Australia so he can come home to address the crisis, a planned meeting of the Quad will not go forward. The Quad, whose official name is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is a security group consisting of Australia, India, Japan and the United States that organized in 2007 as a response to China’s rising power.
Turkey’s sultan Erdogan is not going anywhere
A third Erdogan term will bring about a more unstable, authoritarian, and unpredictable Turkey. Short of a miracle on May 28, the future of Turkey looks bleak.
Anna Nemtsova: I’ve never seen the Kremlin so rattled
None of this, of course, guarantees that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will be a success. For the time being, though, Kyiv has every right to congratulate itself on the effectiveness of its psychological war against Putin’s regime.
The Arctic: A Core Canadian Interest
In 1988, Brian Mulroney handed Ronald Reagan a globe, pointed to the Arctic, and said ‘Ron that’s ours. We own it lock, stock, and icebergs.’ Much has changed in the 35 years since, including in the Arctic itself, where climate change, geopolitical competition and shifting security dynamics have fuelled a multilateral rivalry over Arctic sovereignty. As Massey College Public Policy Chair Tom Axworthy writes, the stakes for Canada have never been higher.

Comments are closed.