Wednesday Night #2153

Written by  //  June 21, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2153

…the first day of the astronomical summer season and marks the exact point the northern hemisphere is pointing directly towards the Sun. It also marks the longest day of the year, with the highest number of daylight hours seen in a single day in 2023. Expect at least 16 hours of daylight in the UK and in the US.
And from here, as the days get shorter, it’s all down hill until the December solstice.

Sadly, we are used to learning weekly -if not daily- about tragedies like the migrant boat disaster in the Mediterranean affecting large numbers of people, and, while we deplore them, we do not feel connected  as we do with more intimate events involving individuals whose limited numbers we can grasp, and whose profiles make them real to us (see Long reads below). Thus, we are gripped by the account of the disappearance of the Titan submersible and the five individuals aboard (What we know about who is on the missing Titan submersible) and updates. As we write, there is both faintly encouraging news and criticism of the company’s failure to obtain certification.
Our thoughts are with Alan Hustak whose good, long-time friend Paul Henri Nargeolet was one of the people aboard the Titan.

What to know about Juneteenth and its significance to American history
The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed enslaved people in Confederate states, but it did not immediately end slavery in places such as Texas that remained under Confederate control. Two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union troops led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Tex., and announced that more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state were free. (Nationwide emancipation would come only with the ratification of the 13th Amendment later that year.)”

India’s Narendra Modi arrives in Washington 21 June for a controversial three-day state visit, as critics at home and in the U.S. take aim. He has particularly infuriated his critics by kicking off the visit by hosting a United Nations yoga event. Critics said the display, held on the front lawn of the United Nations in New York City distracted from allegations Modi’s administration has leaned into a Hindu nationalism that has targeted minorities, eroded democracy and shrugged off human rights.
As our friend C Uday Bhaskarhas has written “The India-US bilateral relationship is all set to be infused with summit-level political attention and policy deliberations during [the] visit to the US. The agenda includes a ceremonial welcome at the White House by US President Joe Biden and an address by PM Modi to a joint session of the US Congress. Such protocols have a symbolism that is indicative of the priority being accorded by the US to the country and the individual leader being hosted.”
See Long reads below – India as It Is: Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values

Putin’s War
Allies Gather in London to Hold Talks on Rebuilding Ukraine

While Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues, western allies met on Wednesday in London at a two-day conference convened by the British government, where they pledged tens of billions of dollars to rebuild the country. Ukraine with the total cost of reconstruction projected to spiral into the hundreds of billions of dollars, the prospect of using confiscated Russian assets to pay for it emerged as a potent, if problematic, theme at the gathering. With the total cost of reconstruction projected to spiral into the hundreds of billions of dollars, the prospect of using confiscated Russian assets to pay for it emerged as a potent, if problematic, theme at the gathering.

U.S. – China
Antony Blinken’s visit to China was not an unqualified success. Still, it was deemed to have done some good, but then
China hits back after Biden calls Xi a ‘dictator

June 22-23, 2023, France hosts an international Summit for a New Global Financing Pact.
(Focus 2030) Called for by French President Emmanuel Macron, how does this summit fit into an international context marked by the cascading consequences of concurring climate, energy, health and economic crises, particularly in the most vulnerable countries?

While there is always ample coverage of Putin’s War and the twists and turns of Kremlin politics, this item regarding the replacement of UN peacekeepers in Mali -while everyone is looking the other way- is disturbing. Mali’s Decision to Kick Out UN Peacekeepers is a Small Victory for Russia and a Big Disaster for Most Everyone ElseExit Blue Helmets, Enter Wagner

So the four byelections are over and nothing has changed. NDG-Westmount is still in Liberal hands, though CTV’s description of Anna Gainey’s win (50.8%) as a landslide is a bit over the top. The turnout was only 30% and the Conservative, NDP and Green candidates together garnered 8,819 votes v. Gainey’s 11,034.
Those byelection results suggest the next federal election is up for grabs
We think that the normally very astute Aaron Wherry somewhat missed the point with respect to the NDG-Westmount vote.
Don Martin expresses and analyses the (Liberal) voters’ dilemma
” Ask around. You’ll find voters severely fed up with a past-his-prime Trudeau, but wincing at the snark and snarl of a Pierre Poilievre they don’t yet trust with governing power. And they can’t even consider an NDP protest vote because they view leader Jagmeet Singh as the crutch for Liberals who don’t deserve an easy walk for the next two years. With the Commons adjourning this week, there’s plenty of speculation about a reset for the governing Liberals in the form of a major cabinet shuffle, prorogation and a throne speech relaunch in October.
It is a government that needs all three.”
And then there was this Brian Mulroney praises Trudeau’s leadership, omits any mention of Poilievre
Will the tune change thanks to this bizarre story about RCMP investigation of obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution by Trudeau and Cabinet officials?

Not quite sure what to make of this.
The Banksyland world tour is coming to Montreal from Sept. 8 to 16
by Lorraine Carpenter
Though the exhibition promises 80+ original streetworks, handmade studio editions and immersive installations by the mysterious British political artist, it is not authorized by Banksy himself.

Immigration is a highly controversial topic. As we marked World Refugee Day with the theme Hope Away from Home on 20 June, the latest UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) statistics paint a harrowing picture. In the first half of 2022, 103 million people were forcibly displaced globally, a huge leap from the period before (89.3 million), linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some thoughts about the role refugees could and should play in their adoptive countries – CANADA please note!
Forced to Flee: How Exiled Journalists Hold the Powerful to Account
As press freedoms around the globe erode, journalists are building networks outside their home countries to continue reporting
Perhaps some could help to rebuild the network of reliable, quality, Canadian media?
Particularly in light of the latest news from PostMedia
Montreal Gazette Faces a New String of Departures

Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, writes Refugees can fix Europe’s doctor crisis. Poland’s showing how
Across the continent, health systems are stretched. Refugees aren’t the problem — they could be the solution.
You don’t suppose that Canada could learn from Poland’s example?

Starting anew: the refugee engineers
Eight inspirational engineers share their stories of fleeing persecution to seek asylum in a new country. These refugees discuss the challenges they’ve faced – and overcome – and the successful careers they’ve built.

Amazing, creative, initiative – we should send our politicians out to do the same.
Earlier this month, Montreal Chief of Police Fady Dagher spent five days living on the streets, sleeping in shelters and visiting community groups. He’s mandating that new recruits get four weeks of “immersion training” in the communities they will serve.

Here’s how Vancouver ranks for affordability…if you’re wealthy and like nice things
For the world’s richest folks Vancouver is a great place for cars and jewellery, but not so good for wine or lawyers.
Swiss bank Julius Baer has ranked the lifestyle costs in 24 “key cities” around the world based on a “basket of goods and services that wealthy individuals buy and use.” Basically, what it costs to live a life of luxury around the world.
Vancouver was the only Canadian city to make the list, and one of four in North America (along with New York, Miami and Mexico City). On the overall list, Vancouver was sandwiched between Jakarta (19) and Manila (21). Overall, key cities in Asia tended to rank higher on the list.

Celebrated Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri has died of a heart attack at the age of 52. He was a pioneer of Middle Eastern cuisine. He obtained a degree in law and economics in France, and then went on to study culinary arts at the University of London. Choueiri was later honored as a member of the French Union of Pâtissiers-Boulangers and won several awards and distinctions, including former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud’s Medal of Merit in 2003. He also launched a live cooking show in 1994, attracting a daily viewership of up to 10 million people. And he was the CEO of Al Kafaat Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Beirut, that focused on rehabilitation and education for people in Lebanon.

We have just discovered the very talented and funny Nir Guzinski and his takes on Quebec multiculture and multilingualism. We recommend you start with this one and warn you that his humour is addictive!

Long reads
A psychologist explains the limits of human compassion
Why do we ignore mass atrocities? It has to do with something called “psychic numbing.”
Paul Slovic is a psychologist at the University of Oregon, and for decades he’s been asking the question: Why does the world often ignore mass atrocities, mass suffering? Slovic’s work has shown that the human mind is not very good at thinking about, and empathizing with, millions or billions of individuals.
Hidden beneath the surface (interactive)
Digging deep into a humble lake in Canada, scientists found a spot on Earth like no other — and a record that could redefine our history of the planet
Are we living in the Anthropocene? This Ontario lake could help global geologists decide
Nuclear fallout and fossil fuel remnants underneath Crawford Lake on the Niagara Escarpment could be evidence that human activity changed the planet forever
The small, deep water body is now one of 12 global sites geologists are studying for a shared marker. They’re looking for something that pinpoints just when human activity began to make a big enough impact on the planet that it became visible in all of the Earth’s formations at the same time, whether coral reefs, ice sheets or freshwater lake sediment.
They think they’ve found it: the nuclear age in the mid-20th century, when the fallout from bomb tests and wartime detonations created a unique, traceable layer of radioactive particles that fell on every surface of the Earth.
The Treacherous Path to a Better Russia
(Foreign Affairs) If the West’s relations with Russia are unlikely to change while Putin is in power, perhaps things could improve were he to depart. But the track record of political transitions that follow the exits of longtime authoritarian leaders offers little room for optimism.
India as It Is: Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
If making democratic values the cornerstone of the U.S.-Indian relationship has always been a dubious strategy, today it is clearly doomed—because the very notion of common values has itself come to look fanciful.
Paul Wells: A country built to last
Every day is a new mess. Who’s looking past the weekend?
…today I’m going to share thoughts on a recent speech and a new paper that share a theme: the decline of coherent, thoughtful public administration.

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