Wednesday Night #2176

Written by  //  November 29, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2176

late-breaking news:
Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped Nation’s Cold War History
The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His complicated legacy still resonates in relations with China, Russia and the Middle East.
Federal government reaches deal with Google on Online News Act
Agreement comes 3 weeks before Online News Act rules come into force

Bless Antony Blinken who is off again to the Middle East, seeking a new extension of the Gaza cease-fire. Before leaving Brussels, where he was attending a NATO foreign ministers meeting, he stated that in addition to discussing short-term logistical and operational planning, the Biden administration believes it is imperative to discuss ideas about the future governance of Gaza if Israel achieves its stated goal of eradicating Hamas. Not an easy idea to sell to the combatants, with Israeli officials concentrating on the war and Arab leaders insisting the immediate priority must be ending the fighting that has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians.
In a speech authored by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the U.N. office in Geneva, called for the international community to move towards a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying Jerusalem should serve as the capital of both states.
The comments coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which it observes annually. It marks the United Nations General Assembly’s approval of a plan to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states and for international rule over Jerusalem.
BUT there are many arguments against, including, as John Buchanan points out, Gideon Levy who says a two-state solution is impossible
Public opinion
Thank you, Ali, for Palestinian support for Hamas appears to be growing. Amal Attar-Guzman reports that polling finds 75 percent of Palestinian respondents supported the Hamas attacks of October 7.
John Buchanan forwarded the statement of the CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East) marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. “We dream of a future for the region in which all people can live side by side in equality, equity, and freedom, and where all people are able to drive the same roads, drink the same water, and share in the same olive harvests.”

On the eve of the November 30 opening of COP28 (UAE Climate Change Conference), the BBC revealed that UAE planned to use climate talks to make oil deals
Leaked briefing documents reveal plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations.
The documents … included proposed “talking points”, such as one for China which says Adnoc, the UAE’s state oil company, is “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG [liquefied natural gas] opportunities” in Mozambique, Canada and Australia.
More from The Guardian – Leaked briefing documents for meetings with governments contained ‘asks’ from state oil firm
Ian Bremmer says succinctly what a lot of people are likely thinking, and adds a positive twist with respect to US-China mutual interests. COP28 climate talks complicated by UAE oil deals
Meanwhile, we have noted among the many pessimistic comments and analyses, a flurry of learned -and not so learned- mentions of Biochar as a positive development, e.g.
Could biochar help limit carbon emissions?
A UAE-based research center is experimenting with limiting carbon emissions and improving soil quality by using a technology that transforms green waste into a charcoal-like material called biochar.
Biochar is carbon removal’s jack of all trades. Here’s why

AI continues to occupy important space in all media with reports ranging from sublime to ridiculous, and in some cases well over my head. Thanks to Sandy’s friend Dr. Gary Marcus (Marcus on AI), we can follow much of what is important.
Fake babies, real horror: Deepfakes from the Gaza war increase fears about AI’s power to mislead
Pictures from the Israel-Hamas war have vividly and painfully illustrated AI’s potential as a propaganda tool, used to create lifelike images of carnage. Since the war began last month, digitally altered ones spread on social media have been used to make false claims about responsibility for casualties or to deceive people about atrocities that never happened.
and on the subject of fakes:
Fake AI-generated woman on tech conference agenda leads Microsoft and Amazon execs to drop out

Québec and the Education file
As 65,000 teachers are on strike and conceivably might not return to classrooms before Christmas, Robert Libman writes:
“In the PR war for Quebecers’ support, the premier has shot himself in the foot with recent decisions that have damaged his credibility. The Quebec government continues to stubbornly cling to its disastrous Bill 15 tuition hike proposals, despite mounting international criticism.” (Legault in a jam against teachers and nurses
Will this help the cause of our universities? Tuition hike puts McGill, Concordia in financial peril, Moody’s warnsChanges are “credit negative” and could weaken “the reputation and strategic brand of both universities by materially altering the compositions of students.”
Quebec Bill 15
Bill 15 will be ‘the CAQ government’s Waterloo,’ town hall told
A petition calling for more public consultation on Bill 15 has surged past 3,400 names.

Andrew Caddell takes on the touchy issue of anonymity on social media as a ‘right to privacy’ and segues to the encouragement of anonymous snitches by government authorities, most flagrantly the the Office Québécois de la Langue Française which encourages people to complain anonymously about English signage and service.
He reminds us “when people anonymously informed on their neighbours, tens of millions died in the pogroms in Russia, the Stalinist purges, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution in China. The Ku Klux Klan wore hoods when they stole Black men from their homes and lynched them. In the Holocaust, Jews in Germany, France, Poland, Holland, and elsewhere were sent to their deaths by informers hiding behind anonymity.”

Housing crisis
CityLab has posted a piece on The Other Housing Crisis: Too Many Sick, Aging Homes citing U.S. developer Marjy Stagmeier’s new book Blighted, and noting “Currently 35% of the apartment stock in the US is at least 60 years old, per the Census Bureau; the median age of an American home hit 43 in 2021, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, up from 27 in 1991. HUD found 6.7 million US households live in substandard housing, including 1 in 10 of the poorest renters.” Any equivalent data, reports or analyses for Canada?

With funding of the government resolved -for the moment- Federal politicians fled Washington for Thanksgiving celebrations. President Biden celebrated the release of the hostages from Nantucket, and the nation’s capital was quiet. A major development in the Republican camp: a political action committee backed by the influential Koch network has endorsed Nikki Haley with the accompanying statement that the Republican party has been choosing “bad candidates who are going against America’s core principles.”
Following Tuesday’s invitation-only service in Atlanta, Rosalynn Carter was buried following an intimate funeral in Plains, on Wednesday Rosalynn Carter eulogized before family and friends as husband Jimmy bears silent witness
Maranatha Pastor Tony Lowden said Rosalynn Carter “served every nation around the world.”
Highlight for the media was the presence of all the former First Ladies and especially Melania Trump (Melania Trump joins first ladies at Rosalynn Carter memorial).
Back at work, on Thursday, the House will vote on whether to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from the chamber. He could resign and save everyone a lot of grief, but that ain’t gonna happen.

Derek Drummond, a truly Renaissance man, died on 17 November. As Bill Brownstein says in his fond tribute, “There are those who have worn an abundance of hats in their lifetimes. And then there was Derek Drummond…. Drummond would have driven any hatter mad with his metaphorical collection of headgear.”
A Celebration of his Life will be held at St. George’s Anglican Church, 1001 Av. des Canadiens-de-Montréal, on Thursday, November 30, at 2 p.m. For those unable to attend, the service will be livecast.

How did we miss this when published last month?
Self-Checkout Is a Failed Experiment
Please, not another “unexpected item in the bagging area.”
Contrary to much popular opinion, it seems that self-checkout has not had a negative effect on employment
Nobody likes self-checkout. Here’s why it’s everywhere

We love good news:
After 17 days, all 41 trapped workers rescued from Himalayan tunnel collapse, Indian officials say
Trapped men had been getting food, water, light, oxygen and medicines through a pipe
The evacuation of the men — low-wage workers from some of India’s poorest states — began more than six hours after rescuers broke through the debris in the tunnel in Uttarakhand state, which caved in on Nov. 12. They were pulled out on wheeled stretchers through a 90-centimetre wide steel pipe, with the entire process being completed in about an hour.

“Magic, Wonder, and Joy”
First lady Jill Biden unveils this year’s White House Christmas decorations
“I know that [magic, wonder and joy] can feel hard to find sometimes as the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, as our hearts grow heavy in the face of a tumultuous world, as we miss those who are no longer with us – an empty seat at the table of our holiday gatherings. But it’s in these times when we are searching for hope and healing…that’s when we need each other the most.”

2023’s word of the year is the real deal
‘We see in 2023 a kind of crisis of authenticity,’ says editor at large
In an age of deepfakes and post-truth, as artificial intelligence rose and Elon Musk turned Twitter into X, the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”
Monday night’s As It Happens on CBC radio has an entertaining interview with editor at large Peter Sokolowski.

This 3-year cruise around the world is called off, leaving passengers in the lurch
Imagine having packed up your life in order to take a 3-year cruise and then to find at the last minute it was cancelled. But would you commit to a 3-year round-the-world cruise?

Long reads
Israeli journalist Gideon Levy: occupation won’t end until Israel pays the price
‘Peace will not come from Israeli society. Israelis will not wake up one morning and say ‘occupation is too cruel, apartheid is illegal, let’s put an end to this,’ says Gideon Levy
‘It will only happen if Israelis start to pay for the occupation, to be punished for the occupation’

Ian Bremmer: Who should pay to fix our warming planet?
Just like every COP that came before it, COP28 will fail to resolve the central debate on “solving” climate change. At the heart of this failure lies a trillion-dollar roadblock: disagreement between developed and developing countries over who’s to blame for the problem – and who should foot the bill to fix it.

Dr. Gary Marcus Hinton vs LeCun vs Ng vs Tegmark vs O
Three top ML researchers, a leading physicist, and a former French Minister, at each other’s throats

A biodiversity catastrophe’: how the world could look in 2050 – unless we act now
The Guardian asked leading scientists, Indigenous leaders and conservationists around the world about the consequences of inaction on biodiversity loss by the middle of this century. Despite 1 million plant and animal species at risk of extinction, and in the face of wildfires, floods and extreme weather intensifying due to the climate crisis, nature conservation is increasingly becoming a part of the culture wars raging in many countries, which have spurred opposition to many environmental policies.

Finally, favorite headline of the week: Has Britain’s PM lost his marbles?

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