Wednesday Night #2165

Written by  //  September 13, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2165

Natural disasters
The world is still absorbing the news of the devastating earthquake in Morocco -and wondering why aid had been accepted from only 4 countries [Morocco quake: Why have authorities accepted limited foreign aid so far? -So far, search-and-rescue teams from only four countries have been allowed to operate after a devastating earthquake.]
Earthquake Puts Morocco’s Elusive King in Spotlight
When the devastating earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night, killing more than 2,900 people, King Mohammed VI was in Paris, where he spends a great deal of his time.
It took him most of a day to return to his country and make his only public statement so far — a terse communiqué.
Then came the news from Libya ‘Disastrous beyond comprehension’: 10,000 missing after Libya floodsNeighbourhoods washed away in port city of Derna, where two dams burst, with many bodies swept out to sea In the immediate aftermath, the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour wrote that Libya’s floods are result of climate crisis meeting a failed state, reminding readers that “After the bloody western-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country has mainly been governed by two rival administrations, one in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk, each supported by an assembly of rival external actors including Turkey, the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Russia’s Wagner group”.

And with perfect timing a new study tells us:
Earth is outside its ‘safe operating space for humanity’ on most key measurements, study says
Earth is exceeding its “safe operating space for humanity” in six of nine key measurements of its health, and two of the remaining three are headed in the wrong direction, a new study said.
Earth’s climate, biodiversity, land, freshwater, nutrient pollution and “novel” chemicals (human-made compounds like microplastics and nuclear waste) are all out of whack, a group of international scientists said in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances (Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries).

UN General Assembly (UNGA) 2023
Two Key Takeaways from the Antonio Guterres UNGA Preview and Press Conference
First: It is clear from his remarks that Antonio Guterres sees as his top priority next week to be the instigation of rapid progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Second: Antonio Guterres will use UNGA to try and revive the Black Sea Grain Initiative. In his press conference, he announced that he will be meeting with Zelenskyy, Erdogan and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks about rescuing this now dead deal.
The “General Debate” (as it is formally known) kicks off at 9:00 am Tuesday, you may wish to consult the roster of speakers. Per longstanding tradition, Brazil delivers the first address from a national delegation. This will be Lula’s first UNGA appearance since his previous stint as Brazil’s head of state. As Brazil has just been handed the gavel for the 2024 G20, this could be an important speech.

The Kim-Putin meeting signals a potential new era in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang.
They gazed into the workings of a Russian rocket launchpad. They tucked into crab dumplings, sturgeon and entrecôte. And they lifted their glasses at a flower-lined table in the conference room of a remote Russian spaceport, toasting the Kremlin’s “sacred struggle” against Western adversaries whom they branded a “band of evil.”
The summit between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, which took place Wednesday at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in far eastern Russia, signaled a potential new era in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang, as two isolated leaders on wartime footing embraced each other in a moment of need.

At the end of a successful party, it’s nice to have a good friend stay a bit longer for a gossipy review of the event.  However, while India’s PM Modi has been praised for the conduct of the 2023 Delhi G20 and for managing to tease a joint declaration out of the attendees with disparate objectives, Justin Trudeau did not enhance his relationship with Modi, especially after grumbling (albeit quite justifiably) that the declaration was weak on both Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and measures against climate change [At a closing summit news conference in New Delhi on Sunday, Trudeau said he pushed for harsher language. “If it was just up to me, it would have been stronger”]
So, it was somewhat embarrassing that Trudeau and the Canadian G20 delegation were still in New Delhi after their plane was grounded and would not be picked up by the replacement aircraft before Tuesday.
Why did Trudeau’s plane get stuck in India? It has to do with the purchase of new fighter jets.The long process of replacing Canada’s fleet of C-150 Polaris transports and air tankers — one of which broke down spectacularly this week, stranding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in India — has been hung up in part by the desire of the federal government and the air force not to put the cart before the horse.
For years, senior air force and federal procurement officials tied the fate of the five aging aircraft to the Liberal government’s much-delayed plan to buy new fighter jets.

Trudeau did make it home in time to join the caucus retreat in London, Ontario and announce $74M to help London, Ont., build 2,000 new homes, the first agreement under Housing Accelerator Fund.
No further news from the caucus retreat so far.

The Americas
We have commented previously that we do not devote as much attention as we would like to Latin American news and developments. This week, however, we note the 50th anniversary of the coup in Chile  (What the 1973 coup means for Chileans today — 50 years later); an account of the evolution of the Columbian city of Medellín from murder capital of the world -operations base for the cartel of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar- to major center for tourism with the inevitable negative impact on local cost of living. Costa Rica has for many years enjoyed an enviable reputation for good governance along with environmental and biodiversity protection. However, recent reports indicate that violence, poverty and unemployment is on the rise.
On a less traditional note: A Mexican ufologist claims to show 2 alien corpses to Mexico’s Congress
Mexico’s Congress heard testimony from experts who study extraterrestrials on Tuesday.
And the hearing started with a huge surprise.
Jaime Maussan, a self-described ufologist, brought two caskets into the congressional chambers. As Maussan spoke, two men uncovered the caskets, to reveal two bodies.

This offers a curious segue to the first Fall event of the Canadian International Council’s Montreal branch
Quebec’s Relations with Mexico: What’s at Stake – Issues & Opportunities?
20 September
5 – 7 p.m.
Espacio Mexico
2077 Peel Street
CIC’s Montreal branch is hosting Stéphanie Allard-Gomez,Quebec’s Delegate-General in Mexico, and Alejandro Estivill Castro, Mexico’s Consul-General in Montreal; moderated by Andres Friedman, CIC executive member and CEO of Solfium, a Quebec solar energy distribution company active in Mexico.
Facts: Mexico is Quebec’s number one trading partner in Latin America, and Quebec’s third-largest trading partner in the world, with trade worth $8.26 billion in 2022, up 19% over the previous year. Nearly 600 Quebec companies do business in Mexico, joined by numerous institutions linked by partnerships in scientific research and development, notably in artificial intelligence, health, environment, water management, clean technologies and biotechnologies.

Two more important Canadian figures have died.
Pioneering Quebec MP Monique Bégin helped save medicare
“She was a consistently thoughtful, progressive voice on public policy in Canada,” said Bob Rae,… [who] first met Ms. Bégin in the 1970s when they were on opposite sides of the aisle in the House of Commons. … Yet they respected each other and developed a friendship that lasted decades.
Mr. Rae called her “a wonderful person” with a great sense of humour who was interested in getting to know people personally rather than simply engaging in partisan politics. And when Mr. Rae became a Liberal himself and ran for the leadership in 2006, Ms. Bégin backed his candidacy.
“When I started off in politics, she was my inspiration,” said former Liberal cabinet minister Sheila Copps. “Monique’s body of work was always pushing the envelope” for women.
Prolific journalist Keith Spicer was Canada’s first Official Languages Commissioner. Mr. Spicer, who died on 24 August, was one of the most colourful/flamboyant characters to have crossed the Canadian stage. “His great strength and weakness was that he was not a bureaucrat,” said Graham Fraser, the journalist who was Official Languages Commissioner in the Harper years. “He had a theatrical quality that he used to great effect.”

U.S. government & governance
Yet another 9/11 anniversary has passed and we once again wonder how and why the great warmth and coming-together that followed those dreadful days have dissipated, turning to the pervasive ugliness, divisiveness -hatred- in U.S. society today.
Republicans have opened an impeachment inquiry on President Biden without evidence of wrongdoing. What does this mean? asks Byron Haskins
Heather Cox Richardson: Letters from an American 09/12/23
“Members of the House of Representatives returned to work today after their summer break. They came back to a fierce fight over funding the government before the September 30 deadline, with only 12 days of legislative work on the calendar. That fight is also tangled up with Republican extremists’ demands to impeach President Joe Biden—although even members of their own caucus admit there are no grounds for such an impeachment—and threats to the continued position of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the House.
It’s an omnishambles, a word coined in 2009 by the writers of the BBC political satire The Thick of It, meaning ‘a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences'”
We are at a loss to explain the enthusiasm with which the Republics in Congress embrace -pursue- the demise of the U.S. federal government. It seems that every other month we are facing yet another confrontation over funding government operations We will revisit this topic next week.

What Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand About Old People
… Facebook has been struggling to hang on to young users for more than a decade; usage by people over 25 has steadily grown over that time, and along with YouTube, Facebook has become the internet’s most popular social network among people over 50. This wouldn’t seem terrible for a company that makes money from advertising, as Facebook does. After all, older people are the future of business: According to a recent analysis by AARP, people over 50 now account for more than half of the world’s consumer spending, and their share is projected to grow to 60 percent by 2050.
So is Zuckerberg rejoicing that he owns the preferred online destination of the planet’s wealthiest and fastest-growing consumer demographic, tomorrow’s whales of consumerist desire?
He is not. Instead he seems embarrassed by it. Documents leaked by a whistle-blower in 2021 showed Facebook product managers obsessed with reversing the app’s unpopularity with teens and young adults.

For Foodie Friends: Wild rice harvest season, central to Ojibwe in Wisconsin, begins
Wild rice is a food that has high nutritional value and can be stored for a long time. A serving contains about 10.5 grams of protein, nearly four grams more than white rice, about four more grams of fiber, eight more milligrams of calcium and more than 359 more milligrams of potassium.

Home Depot to customers: ‘Please do not take Leo’s shirt off’
People thought the cat was overheating, said shopper Jeff Simpkins about the resident feline, who is a TikTok star and lives at the store
“He needs a Home Depot vest — he’s working hard!” suggested someone else.
“He’s an emotional support animal for everyone who spends too much money there,” one commenter noted.

Long reads
Published in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, the topic is especially relevant in the wake of the Delhi G20 joint declaration and other forthcoming multilateral events
In Defense of the Fence Sitters
What the West Gets Wrong About Hedging
As countries in the global South refuse to take a side in the war in Ukraine, many in the West are struggling to understand why. Some speculate that these countries have opted for neutrality out of economic interest. Others see ideological alignments with Moscow and Beijing behind their unwillingness to take a stand—or even a lack of morals. But the behavior of large developing countries can be explained by something much simpler: the desire to avoid being trampled in a brawl among China, Russia, and the United States.
Across the globe, from India to Indonesia, Brazil to Turkey, Nigeria to South Africa, developing countries are increasingly seeking to avoid costly entanglements with the major powers, trying to keep all their options open for maximum flexibility. These countries are pursuing a strategy of hedging because they see the future distribution of global power as uncertain and wish to avoid commitments that will be hard to discharge. With limited resources with which to influence global politics, developing countries want to be able to quickly adapt their foreign policies to unpredictable circumstances.

J.F.K. Assassination Witness Breaks His Silence and Raises New Questions
The account of Paul Landis, one of the Secret Service agents just feet away from John F. Kennedy when he was struck down, could change the understanding of what happened in Dallas in 1963.
His book, “The Final Witness,” will be published by Chicago Review Press on Oct. 10.

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