Wednesday Night #2154

Written by  //  June 28, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2154

Wow! That was quite a weekend
Russia, Putin and Prigozhin
Paule Robitaille is joining us at halftime tonight from Tbilisi – she is looking for reactions to her latest column and what differences exist in western perceptions of the ‘mutiny’ and its aftermath.
In Le tsar est nu, Paule cites Shota Kakabadze, analyste à l’Institut géorgien de politique.
« Il est encore tôt pour s’avancer, mais une Russie fragile et faible pousserait nécessairement la Géorgie à s’en distancer et à renouer sans complexe avec l’Ouest, l’Europe et l’OTAN. » C’est un espoir chéri par les Géorgiens.
Mais une Russie instable peut devenir aussi une menace. Elle évoque des flots migratoires, une perte de contrôle du commerce illégal. M. Kakabadze pense au trafic d’armes, entre autres. Cela veut dire aussi le risque d’une petite étincelle qui ferait exploser la poudrière du Caucase du Nord de l’autre côté de la frontière. Elle loge des dizaines de minorités ethniques, dont la Tchétchénie qui a connu deux guerres en 30 ans. Son chef Ramzan Kadyrov, un autre seigneur de guerre sanguinaire et imprévisible, s’est absolument rangé du côté de Poutine samedi.
Une Russie faible et fragile réveillerait aussi le désir géorgien de reprendre l’Ossétie du Sud et l’Abkhazie, lieux de guerres sanglantes, prises par l’ancien empire, qu’on compare ici au Donbass et à la Crimée.
Bref, vue d’ici, une Russie qui s’effriterait ferait renaître les plus beaux espoirs, mais craindre des scénarios sanglants. Un grand jeu à suivre, incontestablement.
Every media outlet of note is stuffed with learned -or not- commentaries on the weekend’s events and what to expect next from the interesting trio of Putin-Lukashenko-Prigozhin. We have gathered some important links to differing opinions on Vladimir Putin & Russia January 2023 and below, three of our favorite commentators.
Thomas L. Friedman: What Happens to Putin Now?
In the near term, though, if Putin is ousted, we could well end up with someone worse. … You could also get disorder or civil war and the crackup of Russia into warlord/oligarch fiefs. As much as I detest Putin, I detest disorder even more, because when a big state cracks apart, it is very hard to put it back together. … Putin has taken the whole world hostage.
Anne Applebaum writes that Putin Is Caught in His Own Trap – After spending years cultivating public apathy, the Russian president found his people indifferent to his fate.
While in somewhat similar terms, Jeremy Kinsman asks Was Vladimir Putin’s Very Bad Weekend the End of an Era?
The Prigozhin mutiny is a massive event. It is the beginning of the end of the Putin regime that is based on maskirovka, a Russian doctrine of deception with the intent of confusing the target.That target has always been the Russian people, to master and channel their broken psychology, to mould them into compliant obedience.

Canada foreign policy
You may be forgiven for not having paid attention to Justin Trudeau’s quick weekend guest appearance at the Nordic leaders forum in Iceland, and also missing Minister Joly’s declaration on CTV’s Question Period that ‘We need to increase our influence’: It seems she wants to increase Canada’s impact on the world stage.
So, how do those events square with the announcement that Global Affairs is closing its Canadian International Arctic Centre (CIAC) office in Oslo, and moving the centre to Ottawa?  The decision appears in stark contrast to promises by Joly as well as the findings of The Future of Diplomacy, the major overhaul of the department published in early June -of which we still cannot find a copy.
‘One of the finest journalists of his generation’: Longtime reporter, columnist, editor Geoffrey Stevens dies after offering last advice to a prime minister
In poignant counterpoint to the news above are the tributes to journalist Geoffrey Stevens that evoke his special relationship with Pierre Trudeau and the Timely advice for Justin Trudeau Would that JT would heed that advice.

The environment
Canadian wildfire emissions hit record high as smoke reaches Europe
As we continue to suffer from smog and  listen to stark warnings from medical authorities, our apologies to the U.S. -and now Europe- sound like an excerpt from the Three Little Pigs. It is no laughing matter. The pictures of the wildfires are terrifying and our hearts go out to the evacuees as well as the smog-bound.
Freak weather soaks Australian outback, dumping months of rain in two days
Downpours from massive cloud band may approach 100mm in some regions, triggering flood watches
Global heating making extreme rain and catastrophic flooding more likely
Study finds extreme rainfall at higher elevations increases by 8.3% for every degree Fahrenheit world warms
Facing extinction, Tuvalu considers the digital clone of a country
As the climate emergency threatens its existence, the tiny Pacific nation is not only trying to reclaim physical land but create a ‘twin’ to survive in future

Media matters
What is better – concentration or disappearance?
Toronto Star owner Nordstar, Postmedia discuss merger citing ‘existential threat’ in industry
Postmedia, which owns publications including National Post, The Vancouver Sun and The Calgary Herald, said the proposal would see The Toronto Star maintain editorial independence through the incorporation of a new company that would manage its editorial operations.
Toronto Star owner in talks to merge with Postmedia
(The Star) NordStar, Postmedia would have 50% voting stake in a new company that would control most of the combined assets of both. Toronto Star would be spun into second company controlled by NordStar.
W/Could this save the Montreal Gazette?
Montreal Gazette Faces a New String of Departures
More staff shortages at the Montreal Gazette will force the newspaper to suspend its opinion section for the summer … Longterm, Postmedia is over a quarter billion dollars in the hole, forced to pay $23 million a year in interest fees alone while its board of directors take their cues from American owners — a New-Jersey based hedge fund called Chatham Asset Management. And while the company lays off workers and asks its remaining staff to do more with less, Postmedia’s board has awarded itself millions. … Under [CEO Andrew] MacLeod’s leadership, an offer in February [from] Montreal businessman Mitch Garber to buy the Gazette was ignored.
Can Local Journalism Be Saved?
Jan-Werner Mueller
Although there is no single “fix” for the decline of local journalism, experiments in different countries suggest ways to revitalize this crucial institution. All prioritize the production of public-interest news by whatever means available over seeking to salvage outdated commercial approaches.
(Project Syndicate) For most of the twentieth century, the news business relied on advertising revenue. But that model started collapsing in the late 1990s as the internet became ubiquitous. Local journalism was hit especially hard, not only because ads migrated to free online classified boards (like Craigslist), but also because local papers lacked the resources to build an attractive web presence that could support a successful subscription model. The consequences have been dramatic. By some estimates, one-third of the newspapers that existed in the US in 2005 will be gone by 2025. Some 70 million US citizens already live in “news deserts,” or will soon.

Elections, elections…
How New Democracy Surged to Victory in Greece
Voters seemed to embrace Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s approach to the economy and tough stance on migration, and were less concerned about revelations of spying on the opposition.
What an Election Surprise in Central America Means for Democracy
Bernardo Arévalo, a professorial lawmaker, stunned Guatemala’s establishment by advancing to a second round against Sandra Torres, a former first lady.
and much closer to home
Olivia Chow narrowly wins Toronto mayoral election
The city finds itself in a serious funk. A series of incidents of random violence on the streets and on public transit have shaken the city’s sense of security. The high cost of housing, both bought and rented, is making young people wonder whether they can ever afford a place to live. The city’s biggest new transit project is way over budget and overdue, with no end in sight. The homelessness problem is more starkly visible than ever. The city is staring at a big budget hole after all its pandemic spending.
While in Montreal
Quebec presents its $360-million policy on architecture and land use planning
The plan provides for “30 concrete (does it really say this?) measures and actions,” including the implementation of a monitoring system to “assess the achievement of land-use planning objectives” and the budget includes $6.7 million to set up the Bureau de la valorisation de l’architecture.
The aim of the last measure is “to raise the quality of architecture in Quebec.”
Has anyone examined the plan in depth?
We would love to hear/read our favorite critic Why is Montreal planting a forest of highrises?, former mayor Peter Trent on the topic.
We are awfully sceptical about any measure of good taste, or even gros bon sens.
Unlike this announcement from Paris:
Car-Clogged Paris Avenue Gets a Pedestrian Makeover
The Avenue de la Grande Armée is a key thoroughfare between suburbs and the city center. Its new design will halve the space for cars in exchange for wider sidewalks and green space.

Congratulations to Marina Boulos-Winton and the Chez Doris team, as well as deep thanks to our neighbour Bash Shetty for the generous donation
Chez Doris residence ‘a crucial step to permanent housing’ for vulnerable women
The Bash Shetty Residence will provide a safe living environment for women who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of being unhoused, said Chez Doris executive director Marina Boulos-Winton.
AI-powered personalised medicine could revolutionise healthcare (and no, we’re not putting ChatGPT in charge)
Mihaela van der Schaar
Artificial intelligence can’t replace human professionals but it could transform the way they treat diseases such as cancer, and save lives
Forget about cheering for hockey, football, basketball or soccer teams. Leave aside tennis, cycling, winter sports heroes and heroines.
This Kootenay canine is in the running to be the world’s best sheepdog (video)
‘All it takes is one click’: Chief cyberspy warns Canadians to protect themselves from online crime
This makes struggles with IRCC look easy!
Canadian-born family doctor struggles to come home through a wall of red tape
Canada is grappling with a severe shortage of family doctors — but Canadian-born family physicians working abroad are fighting to obtain the paperwork they need to practise here.
The world’s biggest cruise ship is almost ready
Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas is a mammoth 365 meters long (nearly 1,200 feet) and will weigh a projected 250,800 tonnes. For comparison, that’s like trying to keep two CN Towers afloat.
When it sets sail on Caribbean waters in January 2024, it will comfortably hold some 5,610 passengers and 2,350 crew. The boat’s piece de resistance will be the world’s largest waterpark at sea. Named Category 6, it’ll feature six record-breaking water slides, but guests who want a more leisurely experience can also relax in the boat’s seven pools and nine whirlpools.

Long reads
Joly pledges foreign-service reboot in which diplomats better grasp languages, topics
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is promising a plan by this fall for a foreign-service reboot in which diplomats will have a better grasp of the languages and topics relevant to their postings.

What is the fallout of Russia’s Wagner rebellion?
After Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s abortive march on Moscow, Brookings Foreign Policy experts unpack the implications for Russia and the rest of the world.

Institute for the Study of War Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 27
The ongoing Putin-Lukashenko-Prigozhin powerplay is not yet over and will continue to have short-term and long-term consequences that may benefit Ukraine.

Don’t Count the Dictators Out
The Underappreciated Resilience of Today’s Autocracies
Today’s most durable autocracies were born of social revolutions, which—in contrast to conventional power grabs—occur when activists backed by mass mobilization seize control and try to remake the state in order to radically transform the way people live, such as by eliminating private property or imposing religious rule. Although such revolutions have been extraordinarily rare—just 20 since 1900—the revolutionary autocracies they produced have had an enormous influence on world politics: the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Islamist terrorism, and the rise of China were all fueled by revolutionary autocracies. Today, such governments and their successors—a list that includes not just China, Iran, and Russia but also Afghanistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Rwanda, and Vietnam—present some of the most serious challenges to the U.S.-led liberal world order

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