Wednesday Night #2167

Written by  //  September 27, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2167

Harvest moon 2023, the last supermoon of the year, kicks off fall stargazing on Sept. 29

As (some) Americans and their concerned allies hold their breath, Government shutdown to begin Sunday if no deal is reached: Live updates
President Joe Biden called on Republicans to “do their job” and fund the government as conservatives push for deep spending cuts that the Democratic Senate won’t accept.
Seven candidates will hit the GOP debate stage as Trump skips the party again
We’ll rely on political junkie Wednesday Nighters for live reports; otherwise will wait for the reviews on Thursday.
Trump is traveling to Michigan on Wednesday where he will speak at an auto parts manufacturing plant.
Biden beat him to Detroit, with Tuesday’s unprecedented visit to the picket line
And the Canadian autoworkers have settled with Ford.
We look forward to comments from Byron.

And the good news is:
Deal! WGA, AMPTP Reach Historic Contract Agreement to End 146-Day Writers Strike: ‘This Deal Is Exceptional’
By Cynthia Littleton, Kate Aurthur, Matt Donnelly, Gene Maddaus
The WGA and major studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll across the content industry.
Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the finish line Sunday after five consecutive days of negotiations.

The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon
The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit is among its most aggressive yet in targeting tech giants. Read the full lawsuit.
Heather Cox Richardson explains in her column of September 26, 2023
Today, on the anniversary of the creation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1914, the FTC and 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon for using “a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to maintain its monopoly power.” The FTC and the suing states say “Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against Amazon.” …

In the past it has been rare that news from Canada has been more than mention of arctic winds traveling south across the border.
When they emerged from their caucus retreat, the Liberals were all keen to attack the related(?) problems of the 2023 housing crisis and immigration, however, since Justin Trudeau’s arrival on the political scene, there have been more and more stories attracting international coverage -and too often not favourable. Of course, the recent crisis in Canada-India relations with impeccable timing coinciding with  the G20 Summit and the UNGA has been a hot topic. But then, came the debacle of Speaker Rota’s guest.

Canada’s shame is Ukraine’s disaster
Up until the fiasco of Parliament giving a standing ovation to a 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian named Yaroslav Hunka, who, it turned out, had fought with the Waffen SS against the Soviets in the Second World War, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s North American tour had gone reasonably well.
Andrew Potter’s realistic appraisal of Zelensky’s visit to UNGA, Washington, Ottawa, and the disastrous conclusion in Toronto. How long will allied support continue?
Meantime, the hapless Anthony Rota has resigned -he had no choice; the vote for a new Speaker is next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s repressive language legislation (Bill 96 et al.) is beginning to have negative effects of the economy as illustrated in  Nicolas Van Praet’s fine piece in the Globe & Mail, Quebec wants French to be the language of the workplace. It could cost the province business

In the all-politics-is-local category, for Montrealers the struggle over climate change has coalesced around cars v bicycles v pedestrians v Other, with Mayor Plante firmly aligned with the all-bicycles-all-the-time crowd. Most recently, in defiance of the conclusions of a major consultation with the citizenry, the City announced the plan to close the through-way across Mount Royal. This was followed by howls of indignation across linguistic barriers. Montreal is closing its famous road over Mount Royal. What does that mean for you?; Pourquoi bannir les autos de Camillien-Houde ?, Stéphanie Grammond, éditorialiste en chef de La Presse. To be continued.

In international news that does NOT involve a possible Canadian gaffe, the situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh came to a boil last week as Azerbaijan seized full control of the enclave. Ian Bremmer opines that It seems that Nagorno-Karabakh’s disputed status has been effectively settled once and for all, with Azerbaijan now set to take full control of the breakaway enclave. But a potentially bigger fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan may be brewing over a different region: Armenia’s southernmost province, Syunik.

Recognizing an area whose strategic importance Cleo Paskal has long proclaimed, President Biden hosted the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ conference in a bid to increase US engagement in the face of growing a growing Chinese presence in that region.
Cleo, meanwhile has been busy with long interviews: Cleo Paskal speaks to Joyeeta Basu on Trudeau’s outburst against India and -see below- edition #220 Is Communism’s COLLAPSE Near? of China Unscripted (always entertaining as well as informative).

October 9-15
The Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will take place, as scheduled, in Marrakech. According to the announcement, “At this very difficult time, we believe that the Annual Meetings also provide an opportunity for the international community to stand by Morocco and its people, who have once again shown resilience in the face of tragedy.”

The Internet Is About to Get Much Worse
The author, Julia Angwin, writes about tech policy. She is an investigative journalist and entrepreneur who founded The Markup, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom that produced methodologically precise investigations into the impact of technology on society.
(NYT) We are in a time of eroding trust, as people realize that their contributions to a public space may be taken, monetized and potentially used to compete with them. When that erosion is complete, I worry that our digital public spaces might become even more polluted with untrustworthy content.
Already, artists are deleting their work from X, formerly known as Twitter, after the company said it would be using data from its platform to train its A.I. Hollywood writers and actors are on strike partly because they want to ensure their work is not fed into A.I. systems that companies could try to replace them with. News outlets including The New York Times and CNN have added files to their website to help prevent A.I. chatbots from scraping their content.

Found this on the Facebook page of a group calling itself We Pretend It’s Medieval Internet.
“Have you ever wondered why most stairs in medieval castles were built to be so narrow and twist clockwise?
Since medieval castles were built primarily as fortifications, stairs were designed to make it extremely difficult for enemy combatants to fight their way up.
Since most soldiers are right-handed, they would need to get around every curve of the inner wall before attempting to strike with the sword, inevitably exposing themselves in this case.
The clockwise spiral staircase also allowed the defenders to use the inner wall as a partial shield and allowed them to easily move their weapons without being hindered by the curvature of the outer wall.
The stairs were also deliberately poorly lit and built to be uneven, making it more difficult for attackers to gain any sort of balance as they struggled to take over the castle.”
These goats are ‘constantly eating’ to prevent wildfires in the California countryside
Armed only with their appetites, a herd of goats can clear about an acre of brush in a day
There’s a crew of firefighters gaining renown for their work to keep California safe from wildfires. Each member of the team has a great work ethic, a mean appetite — and four legs
The goats’ buffet turns into a buffer for potential wildfires. All that munching clears away the fuel a wildfire needs to spread.
The new phone call etiquette: Text first and never leave a voice mail
When is it okay to leave voice mails, call multiple times in a row or take a call in public?
… Don’t leave a voice mail
Voice mails are an artifact of the days before text messages. If you have information that needs to be communicated in an accurate, timely manner, you’re far better off putting it into writing as a text or email. Most phones transcribe voice mails now, so chances are people aren’t even listening to what you said but reading a (possibly incorrect) text version instead. …

Long reads/audios
Paul Wells Trudeau’s rule has elicited mixed reactions from some Wednesday Nighters.
Defending Canadian sovereignty is half the fight
Of course Justin Trudeau is getting mixed reviews for his sortie against India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. When you’re desperately unpopular and you’ve already dug a deep crater in your credibility on India, it’s risky to say anything surprising. And “We think the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy took out a contract hit against a guy in Surrey” — here I paraphrase — is plenty surprising.
My task here today is to defend, even congratulate, Trudeau — at least in part. I may be rusty. It’s been a while.

Is Communism’s COLLAPSE Near? | Cleo Paskal (YouTube)
(China unscripted) The Chinese Communist Party is facing some strong headwinds, and there are signs that Xi Jinping might be in trouble. In this episode of China Unscripted, we discuss what would happen if the Chinese Communist Party were to fall, what might happen if Xi Jinping were overthrown, and how western democracies could easily win back some of the nations that China has begun to control.

American Democracy Requires a Conservative PartyBut so far none is in sight.
By Tom Nichols, The Atlantic
…the immediate problem America faces is that it no longer has a center-right party that represents traditional conservatism, or even respects basic constitutional principles such as the rule of law. The pressing question for American democracy, then, is not so much the future of conservatism but the future of the Republican Party, another question our panel will discuss—and one that continually depresses me.

The Polish way of rebuilding
Let’s make Coventry medieval again
(Wrong side of history) Ed West contrasts the rebuilding of Warsaw: “Today the Old Town is as beautiful as it ever was, and visitors from around the world come to walk its streets – witnesses to perhaps the most remarkable ever story of urban rebirth.”, and that of Coventry “while the re-planning of Coventry was ‘of international interest’, the new buildings were ‘undistinguished’ And so it is today, with Coventry’s city centre notorious for its ugliness. …
“What’s curious is that Poland, living under a communist regime ideologically hostile to the past, was able to restore its city — while in democratic Britain the authorities used the war as an excuse to force their own vision on the populace. Indeed, in my country town planners ended up doing even more damage than the Luftwaffe.”

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