Wednesday Night #2150

Written by  //  May 31, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2150

Thanks to Daniel Green, this Wednesday,  we welcome Jonathan Pedneault, the Green Party candidate in the forthcoming NDG-Westmount by-election. Some background information on Jonathan, who is the Green Party Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs critic; and here is the link to Who is Jonathan? on his campaign website (

We have told Jonathan that his WN participation need not be in campaign mode – this is more an opportunity for people to get to know you and make up their own minds. However, given his interests and background, we feel sure there will be many topics of mutual interest.

Henry Kissinger turned 100 on Saturday.
MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, Tebo Nicholson turned 18, three days after graduating from UWCSEA-Dover.
May Bo too live to be 100.

Shades of the Scarlet Pimpernel: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a surprise commencement address to graduates from Johns Hopkins University on Thursday morning. Zelensky appeared via livestream and also received an honorary doctorate degree from the university’s president at the commencement. Wha a thrill for the 2023 graduates.
And there were those in-person pop-ups at the Arab League Summit and G7. He does have a way of stealing the limelight.

U.S. Government & governance and the U.S. Economy
We were almost inclined to dismiss the weeks of discussion of the debt ceiling crisis as much ado about nothing. It was simply not possible that the elected lawmakers would be so frivolous. However, what was once a routine act by Congress allowing the Treasury Department to continue borrowing money to pay the nation’s already incurred bills, has in recent times become a political leverage point, a must-pass bill that can be loaded up with other priorities. So the negotiations (largely though public media) have been ruthless and ugly. FINALLY, Kevin McCarthy has come to his senses -or persuaded other to come to theirs- and Bipartisan support sends bill toward final House vote
So now back to worrying about Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and the motley crew who surround them.

Putin’s War
Ian Bremmer No, the US didn’t “provoke” the war in Ukraine
Is the US to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
That’s what Jeffrey Sachs thinks. In a recent op-ed titled “The War in Ukraine Was Provoked” the Columbia University professor – a man I’ve known and respected for a solid 25 years, who was once hailed as “the most important economist in the world” and who’s played a leading role in the fight against global poverty – argues that the United States is responsible for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine 15 months ago.

Keeping us informed of developments among the Small and Pacific Island States, Cleo Paskal notes that she spoke with John Batchelor about the background and strategic importance of PM Modi’s ‘reunion’ with Pacific Islands leaders, and U.S. Congressional interest in the region. “Also covered the U.S.-PNG defense deal, updates on the COFA agreements, and more. Things are moving fast.”
CBS Eye on the world with John Batchelor
#Oceania: Congress listens to what needs to be done (audio)
Oversight Hearing | Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee
House Committee on Natural Resources GOP
Modi goes to PNG – why it matters to the region and Australia
Cleo Paskal, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defence of Democracies and Anthony Bergin, Strategic Analysis Australia

David Johnston and Foreign interference report
Not particularly happy about the headline, but Pierre Poilievre is right about one thing: Special rapporteur is a fake job.
This may be the welcome solution NDP calls on Johnston to step down as special rapporteur on foreign interference.
Friend of Wednesday Night Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), joined Susan M. Delacourt, Richard Fadden, and Laura Stephenson on The Agenda with Steve Paikin for a discussion of How Can Canada Combat Foreign Interference?
Important background:
The difference between David Johnston’s foreign-interference ‘hearings’ and a public inquiry
To start, public hearings don’t have any of the same legal powers as inquiries. Witnesses are invited to testify, but can’t be forced. …

Andrew Caddell, president of the Task Force on Linguistic Policy, has been much in evidence as his organization filed a lawsuit to overturn Bill 96 on Wednesday. This case, brought forward by constitutional lawyer Michael Bergman, appears to be the first one financed entirely by donations from the public and the only one focusing on the concrete impact on individual Quebecers. Crowd-funded lawsuit focuses on Bill 96’s concrete impact on human rights. Andrew’s Hill Times column is, on the other hand, devoted to the PM’s speech to the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. From its content and tone, Andrew muses “While a fall election has only been touted by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, I think he may be on to something.”
On Thursday, 1 June
7:30 pm
The Task Force is hosting a Zoom webinar
Bill 96 lawsuit and C-13 discussion. Q & A to follow.

‘T’is the season… Elections, elections
We have almost decided not to support any cause, party or candidate, as it seems that recently whom/whatever we support does not win. Latest cases in point:
Turkey’s Erdogan prevails in election test of his 20-year rule
Putin congratulates his ‘dear friend’
Vote shows polarised nation after divisive campaign – Official results showed Kilicdaroglu won 47.9% of the votes to Erdogan’s 52.1%,
Erdogan’s victory could be fateful for Turkey’s democracy and role in the world
We take some consolation from the fact that NDP MLAs will comprise the province’s largest Official Opposition in history and preliminary figures give the NDP about 44 per cent of the popular vote as compared to about 53 per cent for the UCP.
It’s the largest vote share the party has ever earned in the province. (The Alberta NDP made gains, but remains in Opposition: What happens next?). One point of concern is that there are fewer voices who can properly advocate for big city problems as the incoming UCP cabinet and caucus largely dominated by rural MLAs (Alberta’s election results are about the worst-case scenario for Edmonton)

John Curtin posted a picture with this message: “Went six rounds with Mike Tyson, today. The “baddest man on the planet” gave us an interview for my feature documentary, The Trials of Alan Dershowitz. Photo of John with “Iron Mike” and our assistant cameraman, my son Sean.” Whatever we may think of the subject, the film will be a must-watch. A premiere for Wednesday Night, John?

Always mixed emotions over welcoming the summer season, especially as its arrival is accompanied by wildfires and this year wildfires have burned more than2 million hectares of land across Canada so far, during what has been one of the earliest fire seasons on record. We worry about friends across the country.

Earth is ‘really quite sick now’ and in danger zone in nearly all ecological ways, study says
By Seth Borenstein
(AP) Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone,” not just for an overheating planet that’s losing its natural areas, but for the well-being of people living on it, according to a new study.
The study looks not just at guardrails for the planetary ecosystem but for the first time it includes measures of “justice,” which is mostly about preventing harm for countries, ethnicities and genders.

No words
No kidding: California overtime law threatens use of grazing goats to prevent wildfires
…new state labor regulations are making it more expensive to provide goat-grazing services, and herding companies say the rules threaten to put them out of business. The changes could raise the monthly salary of herders from about $3,730 to $14,000, according to the California Farm Bureau.
Companies typically put about one herder in charge of 400 goats. Many of the herders in California are from Peru and live in employer-provided trailers near grazing sites. Labor advocates say the state should investigate the working and living conditions of goatherders before making changes to the law, especially since the state is funding goat-grazing to reduce wildfire risk.
California is investing heavily in wildfire prevention after the state was ravaged by several years of destructive flames that scorched millions of acres, destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people. Goats have been used to clear fuels around Lake Oroville, along Highway 101, and near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

As tech execs and experts warn that artificial intelligence poses ‘risk of extinction’, we continue to gather good, bad, and ugly views and experiences with AI/Chatbot
A.I. benefits will come to companies with network effects, says BCA Research’s Peter Berezin.
Peter joined CNBC ‘Power Lunch’ to discuss the sectors that will benefit from A.I.’s revolution and its economic impact. He “argued that we are making the same mistake that we made at the start of the pandemic: We are thinking linearly about AI’s potential when we should be thinking exponentially.”
The Current Transcript for May 29, 2023 (scroll down to AI and medicine)
Jonathan Stokes, an assistant professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, and a team of scientists used AI to find a new antibiotic that can finally kill a deadly superbug that was until now resistant to nearly every treatment. Rahul Krishnan, an assistant professor in computational medicine at the University of Toronto, studies the consequences of implementing artificial intelligence in health care.
Professor Joe Schwarcz PhD and the McGill Office for Science and Society Looping in to Chat GPT
“Finally, I asked for an article on “the unreliability of Chat GPT”. I got an excellent article that mentioned lack of common sense and contextual understanding, sensitivity to input and bias, possibility of generating plausible but false information and lack of ethical and moral understanding. It seems that unlike some people, it knows its limitations.”
Deepfaking it: America’s 2024 election collides with AI boom (see Long reads)

While closely following the news of wildfires from BC to NB, we also mourn the damage from the fire at the Monastère du Bon-Pasteur, and particularly to the Chapelle of which we have many fond memories of concerts and events organised by our dear friend, the late Sandra Wilson, and often funded through the efforts of Udo Stundner. We are indeed thrilled to learn that
some instruments have survived. Notably, the Fazioli piano is being repaired.

Electric vehicles
We thought that the Windsor EV project was all signed, sealed and delivered. Apparently not. But latest news indicates that egotiations are back on track. This is an expensive project! The joys of owning an electric car: I love my electric car but I didn’t realize my life would revolve around charging it
Long reads
Deepfaking it: America’s 2024 election collides with AI boom
“I actually like Ron DeSantis a lot,” Hillary Clinton reveals in a surprise online endorsement video. “He’s just the kind of guy this country needs, and I really mean that.”
7 news outlets reimagining political journalism in smart ways
Political journalism is in crisis. Over the past few months, BuzzFeed News, FiveThirtyEight, Vice and a number of other outlets that specialize in political news have substantially cut staffing and coverage. Even CNN and The Post have laid off journalists. And the political media is struggling to cover an increasingly radical Republican Party without seeming to be on the side of the Democrats.
But there is good news, too. Several new or expanding outlets are addressing some of political journalism’s long-standing shortcomings: insufficient coverage of state and local government and of people who aren’t White and upper-income; an over-prioritization of elections over policy; a failure to recognize that the courts are a central front in today’s political conflicts.
Ancient Cliff Paintings in the Amazon
The painted cliffs of La Lindosa open a window onto the lives of Ice Age Amazonians.
“It’s a fabulous world that those ancient people painted here. They represent the animals they lived with and the plants they lived with. These figures embody the thoughts of many groups over thousands of years. Some of the figures seem to represent the magic and shamanism of their rituals, but there are also geometric figures and human figures.”
A giant pile of logs is trapping millions of tons of carbon in Canada
But climate change might lead it to break down
How Erdogan held onto power in Turkey, and what this means for the country’s future
Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Director of The Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation and Executive Member of Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University
(The Conversation) The election was free in that political parties could put forth nominees on their own and carry out campaigns. Parties also had the right to have representatives in every polling station to ensure the votes were counted correctly. And voters were free to vote.
However, the election was far from fair.

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