Wednesday Night #2191

Written by  //  March 13, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2191

Israel/Palestine/Red Sea; Haiti; Russia/Ukraine

Ramadan Begins as Hunger and Fear Stalk Gaza
Palestinians in Gaza, where some are close to starvation, wanted a cease-fire before the Muslim holy month of daylong fasting. It didn’t happen.
‘Even without Ramadan, we are fasting’: Gazans brace for a holiday of hardship.
Hopes for a cease-fire before the Muslim holy month were dashed.
International hopes of reaching a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were dashed on Sunday, hours before Palestinians and other Muslims were to begin the month of daytime fasting, as Hamas repeated demands for a comprehensive cease-fire, which Israel has rejected.
Meanwhile, what is now routinely referred to as ‘the Red Sea crisis’ continues to disrupt global trade and commerce while adding to the preoccupations of the US military and allies.
Indications are that sentiment in the U.S. is increasingly opposed to the traditional unconditional support for Israel [see ‘Reject AIPAC’: US progressives join forces against pro-Israel lobby group and more on U.S. – Israel
First there was Super Tuesday and then the confirmation that
The Biden-Trump Rerun: A Nation Craving Change Gets More of the Same
Americans love a candidate who promises something new. But when a sitting president runs against a former one, can either claim the mantle of change?
There will be lots of noise -at least from ‘the predecessor- , but while President Biden will continue to promote policy, there’s not much likelihood of debate. So, the excitement will be in the down-ballot races. One we will be following with great interest is the race for North Carolina’s Attorney General in which Andrew Caddell‘s cousin, Jeff is the Democratic candidate.
Still, there is this intriguing sidebar: Can Michigan save Palestine?The road to East Jerusalem may pass through Dearborn. HINT: it has to do with delegate count.
Byron Haskins’ thoughtful comment “. I like this essay. It speaks to something I think is inevitable. I am witness nearly daily the beneficial power of the diverse Arab community in Southeast Michigan. They reflect a full range of economic strata, intelligentsia and community engagement. The Detroit is for Arabs now what it was for African-Americans in the 1950-60s. Dearborn is a hub for a national community. Congresswoman Rashida Tliab is just one of many brilliant political strategists from the Detroit area. What makes this particular community different and encouraging to me is that we are not talking about your traditional narrow ethnic affinity special interest group. I feel they are looking at a much bigger vision that includes everyone.”

While Wednesday Nighters were enthusiastic in their praise for President Biden’s SOTU, the topic du jour was Senator (really?) Katie Britt’s response. All commentary (Stepford wife/Handmaid’s Tale, etc.) aside, we can only wonder – who selects the individual to deliver the response and what sort of vetting and rehearsal of their text is required? Or is there too much oversight?
Scarlett Johansson’s satire of her SOTU rebuttal on ‘SNL’ was devastatingly perfect.

Russia election 15-17 March
“I am calling on you…”: Putin urges Russians to take part in presidential polls

BTW, on 13 March 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated in St. Petersburg – an omen?
Russians go to the polls in a sham election for their president
The charade takes place amid murder and repression The most recent example being the attack on Navalny ally Leonid Volkov who was attacked in Vilnius.
Ukraine‘s military effort hangs in the balance as the US Congress plays isolationist games and Pope Francis’ ‘white flag’ remarks did not help. Nonetheless, Putin reportedly fired Russia’s top naval commander Adm Nikolai Yevmenov over Kyiv’s ability to sink Russian warships in the Black Sea.
Russia and the UN
One retired Canadian diplomat is stirring the pot by questioning the validity of Russia’s membership on the Security Council there are approximately 16000 sanctions against Russia. Why is the United Nations allowing Russia to hold its membership on the security council? Is it because they prefer to have Russia inside the tent rather than outside?
To which another replied: Russia’s membership in the UN and thus its permanent seat on the Security council, in my view can and except for the predictable consequences , possibly should be challenged . Russia isn’t by its own admission the full and legal successor state to the USSR. It had been only one element of that union along with many other now sovereign independent states formerly part of the USSR, all of which applied for their own UN membership back in 1989/90 which was then agreed by the UN General Assembly under UN Charter rules. Russia did not apply, but was allowed to take the over the membership role of the USSR at the UN, including that of one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, with the right of veto in that key body. Was there any challenge back in 1945? Did the UNGA specifically vote on the matter? …Membership in the UN, remember, so states its Charter, is open to “peace loving” states, at least when they apply to become a UN member. Tell me if Russia qualifies.
Chew on that!

There is virtually nothing encouraging to be said about a situation in which the leader of the gangs, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, insists on having a seat at the transition council table. We note that PM Trudeau poked his head into the CARICOM meeting urging Haitian stakeholders to come to a political agreement that paves the way toward free and fair elections and the restoration of democratic order in Haiti. Everyone must have been impressed – almost as impressed as those meeting with Minister Joly in the Middle East.

Required reading for CAQ?
Can endangered languages be saved? A new book by linguist Ross Perlin may have the answer. Language City: The Fight to Preserve Endangered Mother Tongues in New York profiles spoken languages and how they thrive or decline in New York City. More than 700 languages are spoken there, and about half of the city’s residents speak a language other than English at home.

Playing thriving reef sounds on underwater speakers ‘could save damaged corals’
Underwater speakers that broadcast the hustle and bustle of thriving coral could bring life back to more damaged and degraded reefs that are in danger of becoming ocean graveyards, researchers say.
Scientists working off the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean found that coral larvae were up to seven times more likely to settle at a struggling reef where they played recordings of the snaps, groans, grunts and scratches that form the symphony of a healthy ecosystem.

Does Daylight Savings Time Actually Save Energy?
(McGill Office for Science and Society) Spring and Fall clock changes were originally implemented to help save resources by decreasing lighting demands, but over a century later, are they accomplishing those intentions?
Note: Port Arthur, Ontario was actually the first place in the world to embrace DST, enacting the clock change in 1908, followed quickly by Orillia, Ontario in 1911. It didn’t gain a broader appeal until 1916 when the German Empire and Austria-Hungary put it into practice.

Naheed Nenshi’s entry into the NDP race is a jolt for Alberta politics
The Globe & Mail’s Kelly Cryderman writes “If Mr. Nenshi manages to clinch the leadership of the province’s main opposition party and go head-to-head with Ms. Smith in an election scheduled for 2027, it will make for one of the country’s most riveting clashes of political ideologies and personas, ever.” We cannot disagree.

Quebec budget $11B in deficit, one of the biggest in the province’s history
(CTV) A stagnant economy, a historic forest fire season and billions of dollars in public sector wage increases are what Quebec’s finance minister says have led to one of the biggest budget deficits in the province’s history.
After hinting for weeks that Quebec’s financial situation was weak, Eric Girard tabled a $158-billion budget on Tuesday with an $11-billion deficit and a delay of his timeline to balance the books.
Brett House commenting on the 6 March Bank of Canada Policy Rate Announcement
“The Bank of Canada (BoC) kept its key policy rate on hold at 5% on March 6, as markets, analysts, economists, and journalists expected, but the tone of the statement and press conference opening statement were both a tad less dovish than markets—incorrectly—anticipated.
… Attention has shifted to the next meeting in April, when the BoC will update its forecasts in its quarterly “Monetary Policy Report”. Those numbers are likely to start paving the way for a cut by the BoC—but don’t expect it to come until (1) the US Fed updates its so-called “dot plot” and possibly cuts its own policy rates at its June FOMC meeting; and (2) the BoC presents a further update to its projections and more fulsome justifications for a cut at its July rate announcement or soon thereafter. As the BoC’s press conference opening statement concluded, We’ve come a long way in our fight against high inflation. Monetary policy is working—inflation is coming down. But it’s too early to loosen the restrictive policy that has gotten us this far.
Look forward to a busy summer in rate markets.”

As was mentioned last week, while it’s nearly impossible to find a place to rent, all across the country retirement homes have room to spare. At what cost?

Food for thought
Yuval Noah Harari: AI is a “social weapon of mass destruction” to humanity
Highlighting AI’s unparalleled capacity to make autonomous decisions and generate original content, Harari underscores the rapid pace at which humans are ceding control over both power and stories to machines. “AI is the first technology in history that can take power away from us,” Harari tells Bremmer.
The discussion also touches on AI’s impact on democracy and personal relationships, with Harari emphasizing AI’s infiltration into our conversations and its burgeoning ability to simulate intimacy. This, he warns, could “destroy trust between people and destroy the ability to have a conversation,” thereby unraveling the fabric of democracy itself. Harari chillingly refers to this potential outcome as “a social weapon of mass destruction.” And it’s scaring dictators as much as democratic leaders. “Dictators,” Harari reminds us, “they have problems too.”
The always brilliant Heather Cox Richardson gives context to the Katie Britt scenarioMarch 8, 2024
When Britt delivered the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union from a kitchen, wearing a cross and using a submissive speaking style, she represented the outcome of the longstanding opposition to women’s equal rights in the United States.
The Democrats’ position last night was a sharp contrast. Biden stood in front of the nation’s first female vice president as he denounced the Republican assault on women’s rights. He warned the country: “America cannot go back.”
Fareed Zakaria Amid the horror in Gaza, it’s easy to miss that the Middle East has changed – As we watch the horrors of another war in the Middle East, it is easy to get gloomy and depressed. It seems that the region as a whole continues to be violent and unstable. But that misses an important shift that has taken place in recent times, one that provides some cause for optimism about the future: The Arab states that are now the Middle East’s leaders are playing an important and constructive role in stabilizing the situation and are working for peace.
Lessons from the US?
Despite a national spike in homelessness, some US regions are finding solutions
While homelessness was up significantly over the last decade in some cities, such as Seattle, other major cities, including Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, saw meaningful and sustained declines. Our research made it clear that there is no “one-size-fits-all” barometer for understanding America’s challenge with homelessness, and instead, paying attention to regional variations in homelessness trends can help policymakers understand what’s working to reduce it. …we argue that local leaders must double down on evidence-based policies that address where, why, and how homelessness actually occurs within cities to meaningfully reduce homelessness and achieve economic recovery in the nation’s downtowns.

The Islamophobia Bait and Switch
Critically, by focusing on Islamophobia, liberal American politicians believe they can keep the balancing act of maintaining supporting for Israel’s assault on Gaza (the over there) while appearing to possess concerns about their domestic constituencies (the over here.) Donald Trump’s Muslim ban: BAD! The slaughter and deliberate starvation of Palestinians children: … Of course, if these liberals were to confront anti-Palestinianism head on it would put them on a collision course with, and in the crosshairs of America’s powerful anti-Palestinian movement, which has long existed and which has been on overdrive since October 7 last year.

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