Wednesday Night #2169

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Israel, Palestine/Gaza
If one reads only one early piece about the Israeli-Hamas war, it should be Heather Cox Richardson: October 7, 2023
A masterfully balanced summary of the situation. HCR writes “the wording is as careful as I could manage, because the point was not to push a position but to make sure we can all understand which pieces are moving on the chessboard.”
She maintains the high standard on October 9, 2023. After summarizing the major developments in Israel/Palestine, she continues, “while I am willing to try to keep people abreast of key players and events in the present crisis, I am trying to be cautious and not speculate in areas about which, as a scholar of the United States, I am not versed” and then lays out the many implications for the U.S.

The world-wide audience is, however, being bombarded by horrific details of massacres, bombings, incursions, deaths of innocent civilians -Israeli, Palestinian and of many other nationalities- hostage takings, all met with international expressions of horror along with offers of humanitarian assistance, mediation, and endless analyses of who is to blame. And, of course, a generous sprinkling of disinformation and conjecture.

Ian Bremmer gives a long, thoughtful, analysis A brutal wake-up call shakes Israel and the world
For the first time, Hamas managed to attack deep into Israeli territory, overrunning two military bases and terrorizing countless towns and neighborhoods. For a country of under 10 million, the 1,300 killed are the equivalent of over 45,000 in the United States, dwarfing 9/11’s toll. Unlike in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, civilians rather than soldiers accounted for nearly all Israeli deaths.
The trauma is only made worse by the shock that millions of Israelis feel after the worst intelligence and security failure since 1973, when Egypt and Syria simultaneously invaded Israel from the Suez Canal in the south and the Golan Heights in the north without warning. Israel’s national security apparatus, laser-focused on threats to the homeland particularly from Palestinians in the occupied territories, had since come to be seen as the gold standard on surveillance, intelligence, and border security. No one remotely thought something like this could happen there in 2023. Much like America’s before 9/11, Israel’s weakness was to a large extent a failure of imagination. This failure is all the more surprising given the history of the Jewish people, who have been under nearly continuous existential threat since biblical times.
Reuters presents A brief history of Gaza’s 75 years of woe

Among the only beneficiaries so far, Putin is outstanding. Hamas’ gift to Vladimir Putin – Russia is relishing — and partly fueling — chaos in a series of global flashpoints that divert the West’s energies from Ukraine. Hamas’ brutal assault against Israel came on Vladimir Putin’s birthday.
Anchal Vohra writes in Politico Iran is the only one likely to benefit from Hamas’ attack on Israel
If Tehran has succeeded in scuttling the Saudi deal with Israel and wrecking the kingdom’s hopes of acquiring nuclear energy, it may think the demise of Hamas a price worth paying. … The timing of the attack has also thrown off experts and led to speculation that Hamas and its backer Iran were rattled by the progress made on the normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Israeli-Hamas war has two paths forward
By Mohammed Alyahya
… One favors deepening the conflict in pursuit of a fantasy of completely wiping Israel off the map. This path is preferred by Iran. … Another path, preferred by Saudi Arabia, promises a lasting consensus-based peace between the people of the region. Twenty-one years ago, Saudi Arabia put considerable diplomatic and political effort into the Arab Peace Initiative (API), a proposal that unified all Arab states in offering Israel recognition, regional legitimacy and security in exchange for a series of concessions, including a return to pre-1967 borders.

As we are being made aware of individual stories of victims of the Israel-Hamas war, Andrew Caddell‘s column this week, The most difficult day of the year, is a poignant revisiting of the devastating effects of the loss of his son James to altitude sickness on October 16, 2005, and reflections on death and grief. “Death is a difficult subject, especially in a society that promotes youth and exuberance. In films or news items trivializing the deaths of hundreds of people, the passing of one person seems almost inconsequential. And yet, there are so many people we come across in our lives who put their stamp on us and leave us richer for having known them.”
A beautiful, sensitive column.

IMF-World Bank annual meetings
Financial leaders gather in Marrakech for the IMF-World Bank meetings
Although the eyes of the world are largely focused on the Middle East, geopoliticians and economists are also closely following events in Marrakech.  The Atlantic Council provides assessments and issue briefs including The Bretton Woods institutions under geopolitical fragmentation and How the IMF can navigate great power rivalry
See more on Global economy January 2023-
Should be interesting!
OCTOBER 12, 5:30 AM ET
Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and North Africa: Building Resilience and Fostering Sustainable Growth
A press conference with Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, to present the IMF’s latest economic forecasts for the region, followed by a panel discussion on the IMF’s latest economic forecasts for the Middle East and North Africa, following the launch of the Regional Economic Outlook.

On October 15, Poland holds elections with major ramifications for Europe.
EU veteran Tusk heads into final week of battle to steer Poland from populism
Election is contest between Law and Justice party and politician it claims represents malevolent foreign forces
7 key faces to watch in the Polish election
Here are POLITICO’s pen portraits of the candidates you need to know.
Anna Grzymała-Busse of Brookings addresses What is at stake in Poland’s election? and Paul Wells added pertinent historical context in his 7 October Substack column “All the things that could happen next” (See more on Europe & EU February 2023-)

The Nobel winners have all been announced. As always, their individual -and collective- achievements are remarkable. Two announcements have been greeted with particular enthusiasm: the Nobel Peace laureate is Narges Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian activist, “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”
Last, but not least, Harvard Professor Claudia Goldin has been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for ‘groundbreaking research’ on women’s job market outcomes. Ahem — the WaPo notes she “is the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics, which has been awarded to 90 men” and is the first woman to win without sharing with a man!

The U.S. is still without a Speaker. The House recesses as Scalise looks to secure Speakership votes:
Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) came out on top as House Republicans met Wednesday to pick their nominee for Speaker. But, the conference was closely divided between the House majority leader from Louisiana and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). [neither one is very appealing to a progressive, let alone a Democrat] So a messy floor fight may be ahead, with a number of Republicans already noncommittal about supporting Scalise. The office of the majority whip has advised members that no votes are expected in the House tonight, with more details to come on vote plans for Thursday. Best place to follow breaking news? The Hill

Whither Canada?
Derek Burney: Canada’s hollow place in the world
The Canadian government has become increasingly irrelevant internationally
When first elected in 2015, Trudeau visited the department of Global Affairs and was rapturously greeted like a rock star by sycophantic employees when he announced, “Canada is back!” Before too long however, it became evident that we had actually fallen well back from any position of accomplishment or relevance on the world stage. Including with the rhetorical flourishes on climate change, we have become increasingly irrelevant internationally, a hollow force, failing yet again to capture a seat on the UN Security Council, and shunned by allies developing closer security relations in the Indo-Pacific region.

It sounds as though the Feds may have learned something from the disastrous evacuation attempts from Afghanistan. Canada to airlift citizens, permanent residents out of Israel in ‘coming days’: Joly Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly confirmed Tuesday that Ottawa is planning to airlift Canadians out of Tel Aviv in “the coming days,” as conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates. An improvement on previous news that Canadians stuck in Israel as flights are cancelled, embassy closed for Thanksgiving
Canada concerned about what might happen in Gaza, cites dire conditions -Joly’s comments were among the clearest expressions of concern so far by a major Western nation about the impact of an assault.

Joly to Canada: IOU a foreign policy speech
Note that The decision to cancel her foreign policy speech had nothing to do with what’s happening in the Middle East. Strange. It is now rescheduled for 30 October.
When MP’s return next week, “Recent events in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” happens to be the title of a new study by the House foreign affairs committee that has yet to meet since the attacks broke out. Expect hard questions from Conservative member MICHAEL CHONG on “consular and diplomatic failures” in getting Canadians out of Israel quickly.


NOT the way Canada should be featured in headlines.
Canada rejects request to protect northern spotted owl habitat
One wild-born owl remains in British Columbia, where logging concerns have destroyed the species’s old-growth forest home
Canadian cabinet ministers have rejected a plea by the country’s environment minister to save an endangered owl, casting doubt on the species’ survival in the coming years.

Writers Out Loud: Navigating the Impacts of Bill 96
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
7:00-8:30 pm EST
Atwater Library Auditorium
To attend online, register to get the link to the Zoom Webinar.
No need to register if attending in person.
Authors Christopher Neal, Shailee, and Vanessa Sasson sit down with Guy Rex Rodgers to discuss Bill 96 and its impact on language issues in Quebec.

October 18, 2023
7:30pm ET webinar: Why we’re in an affordable housing crisis and what to do about it
We all know someone affected by the affordable housing crisis in Canada — whether it be members of our family, our community or ourselves. This month, our Off the Hill panel will dive into how such a large-scale housing crisis can exist in such a wealthy country and discuss what needs to be done now to develop affordable accessible housing for people.
Join the discussion with our panelists.

Wednesday, 1 November
6:00 to 8:00 pm
Atwater Library, 1200 Atwater Avenue at Tupper Street
Annual Benefit Cocktail Party
Board member Richard Conrad advises that the Atwater Library’s Annual Benefit Cocktail Party is back…and you’re all invited… November 1st promises to be action-packed, enabling Wednesday Nighters to kick off the evening at our fund-raising gala, which is slated to run from 6-8 p.m., allowing time aplenty to link up with Diana around the virtual table at 9 p.m. for the ritual salon.
Join Guest of Honour Scott Jones and emcee Terry Mosher (aka Aislin) for a fun evening in support of our educational programs for the community: Live music by the Dave Turner Jazz Trio, a sensational auction (online starting October 20 and closing at the end of the party), tasty hors d’oeuvres and smoked meat, wine and beer.
The event will be staged in our gorgeously restored heritage building–a designated National Historic Site.  Tickets priced at $150 ($125 tax receipt) are available online from CanadaHelps. For more info, you may contact Lavina Alonzo at

The economy
Peter Berezin commented on Monday evening “Bond bears, of which I was one until October, are making a big mistake.
They are seeing that employment remains resilient and concluding that this means that monetary policy is not restrictive.Wrong! …when the economy is near full employment, falling labor demand will mainly show up in the form of lower job openings and slower wage growth. That’s what we’re seeing now, as evidenced by a shrinking jobs-workers gap”.

Wednesday Night #1909 with Peter Berezin, 10 October 2018
Wonderful Wednesday Night Salon with Charlotte Sobolewski, Alex Weinstein, Samuel Stein, Catherine Gillbert, Graeme Campbell, Sandy Dubya, Mario Iacobacci, Gerald Ratzer, Alan Hustak, and a stellar group. Thank you all!  From AI to pollution to global economy to Saudi Arabia & Russia … Some topics don’t change much!

Proud Dad Byron posted this:
Having Coffee With . . . Anna Haskins, the Andrew V. Tackes Associate Professor of Sociology and associate director of Notre Dame’s Initiative on Race and Resilience.
-the Supreme Court ruling that effectively ended affirmative action for college admissions. A turning point for college admissions
Seems daughter Anna is equally proud of her Dad.

Many people are aware of Harriet Tubman’s heroic work on the Underground Railroad, helping enslaved African Americans escape into free states or to Canada in the 19th century – but few are aware that she was also an avid and skilled naturalist. She used well-mimicked calls of a barred owl to alert those refugees and freedom seekers that it was okay to come out of hiding and to continue their journey! Posted by Hope For Wildlife of Nova Scotia.

England’s beloved Sycamore Gap tree will be removed from Hadrian’s Wall
Workers are beginning the process of removing the famous Sycamore Gap tree trunk and crown from Hadrian’s Wall, which was felled in late September in a shocking act of vandalism in northern England. The tree’s stump will remain.
“The 50-foot tree, which had stood in the historic landscape for nearly 200 years, will be carefully moved” and stored.

Long reads
The Hamas horror is also a lesson on the price of populism
Yuval Noah Harari
The real explanation for Israel’s dysfunction is populism rather than any alleged immorality. For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister.
How Israel’s Feared Security Services Failed to Stop Hamas’s Attack
Israel’s military and espionage services are considered among the world’s best, but on Saturday, operational and intelligence failures led to the worst breach of Israeli defenses in half a century.
How the IMF can navigate great power rivalry
…the IMF …can also depend on its formidable institutional strength, especially its staff’s analytical prowess, to be helpful to members. In particular, the IMF should focus on analyzing the cost and benefits of geopolitical contention, and the resulting fragmentation of the world economy and financial system—like it began to do around the time of the spring 2023 meetings. This may not be sufficient to persuade major countries to reverse their geopolitical contention, but the IMF should be able to help those countries adopt the policies that are the least damaging to the global economy, with particular focus on limiting the negative spillovers of their policies on low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries.
Anne Applebaum: There Are No Rules
States and quasi-states are using extreme, uninhibited violence against civilian populations
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’s surprise attack on Israeli civilians are both blatant rejections of that rules-based world order, and they herald something new. Both aggressors have deployed a sophisticated, militarized, modern form of terrorism, and they do not feel apologetic or embarrassed about this at all.

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