Wednesday Night #2192

Written by  //  March 20, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

Spring has sprung -sort-of and the concurrent celebration of the season of Nowruz, the annual 13-day festival that marks the start of spring, and is celebrated by millions of people with roots in the former Persian Empire. (What the 3,500-year-old holiday of Nowruz can teach us in 2024) We offer special greetings to Ali, Hosein and Mahsa, and their families.

SURPRISE! Vladimir Putin has been reelected and by a majority of some 88% of the estimated 70% of eligible voters
Western voices are universally disparaging of Putin’s political theater, underlining Kremlin efforts to eliminate all forms of opposition while ‘encouraging’ citizens to vote -sometimes at gunpoint- but in other regions: “To inflate the vote, raffle prizes were on offer by local authorities, state employees were ordered to go to the polling stations and one city in Siberia even promised voters would be able to take a photo with a cardboard cutout of American political commentator Tucker Carlson.”-This is an inducement?

India announces 6-week general elections.
Definitely will be more entertaining than the Russian exercise
From April 19 to June 1, nearly 970 million Indians — or over 10% of the global population — are eligible to vote in general elections. The mammoth exercise is the biggest anywhere in the world and will take 44 days before results are announced on June 4.
Campaign for India’s general elections unfolds against a backdrop of political maneuvers
In the run-up to the polls,…the campaign has been marked by the scandal over ‘electoral bonds,’ a system of party financing that has largely favored Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party.
What to know as India sets elections for April
Our friend C Uday Bhaskar will no doubt be sending along his typically trenchant analyses, but this week, he has chosen to write about Agni V [missile] testIndigenisation of military inventory is an arduous endeavour for a developing nation

The intransigence of Binyamin Netanyahu is simply beyond comprehension. The cruelty of Hamas in hiding behind Gaza civilians is appalling. Talks are on – then off – then maybe on again. The U.S. condemns Israel, but is still selling arms. The humanitarian airlift is a questionable success.
We were cheered by Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech in which he branded Bibi an impediment to peace in the Middle East and called for a new election to replace him after the war winds down. But then an unrepentant Bibi turns up in a closed-door [remote] speech to Senate Republicans on Wednesday.
We are unable to read and follow one more headline like EU official accuses Israel of weaponizing hunger as report warns Gaza famine imminent1.1 million people now suffering ‘catastrophic hunger’ in Gaza, IPC report says or In Gaza, starving children fill hospital wards as famine looms,
let alone look at the pictures.
or this
Israel says it has killed 90 gunmen after raid at Al-Shifa hospital, an allegation Hamas denies
Hamas says all those killed at site were patients or displaced persons
Meanwhile, we have to see what the appointment of Mohammad Mustafa as the incoming Palestinian Authority prime minister means – he says that he will appoint a technocratic government and establish an independent trust fund to oversee Gaza’s reconstruction.

The situation in Haiti goes from dire to whatever is worse than dire. CNN gives a harrowing account Vigilantes battle gangs in Port-au-Prince as Haiti’s elites vie for power
Everybody deplores and pontificates from afar, but nothing is being done.

On Tuesday Hong Kong passed its new national security law, a bill that broadens the definition of crimes including sabotage, sedition and state secrets, and stipulates tougher penalties of up to life imprisonment. This does not bode well for international business interests and should exacerbate the situation identified by Bloomberg in February – Even China’s Giants Are Picking Singapore Over Hong Kong for HQs. Not good for Hong Kong, but Singaporean authorities must be happy.

Right Honourable Brian Mulroney RIP
The week leading up to former PM Brian Mulroney’s State funeral on Saturday at Notre-Dame Basilica began with tributes from all parties in the House of Commons as the Mulroney family looked on. On Wednesday afternoon, the funeral cortege traveled from Ottawa to Montreal As details of the funeral have dribbled out, we were pleased to learn that former U.S. secretary of state James Baker would speak, albeit by remote. Wayne Gretzky and Jean Charest will speak, and to our consternation (and puzzlement), so will Pierre Karl Péladeau.* See Comment below

(Bloomberg) Legislation that would force TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance to sell the video-sharing app within six months seems to be going nowhere fast in the US Senate. After the House of Representatives easily passed the bill, senators on both sides of the aisle appear unwilling to fast-track a ban on the popular app—used by as many as 170 million Americans—in an election year. Some think ByteDance should make a move sooner rather than later, though. “The platform’s Chinese owners should look to make the best of a bad situation and divest the app while it has maximum value,” Dave Lee writes in Bloomberg Opinion.
Does TikTok pose a security threat to Canadians? ” no more of a threat to democracy than other social media platforms”, according to Law Professor Robert Diab of Thompson Rivers University. Still, Billboard Canada reminds us that Canada launched its own inquiry into whether TikTok is a national security concern in February. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched its investigation alongside similar authorities in Quebec, B.C. and Alberta.

It’s good to see Quebec events sympathetically covered in non-Quebec media.
Unexpected -at least by us- international coverage of Quebec’s Bill 21 in the South China Morning Post
Minority communities in Canada’s Quebec slam ‘discriminatory’ secularism law: ‘I feel alienated’
Opponents of the rule banning public sector employees from wearing religious items at work plan to take their fight to the Supreme Court after a judge refused to quash the law
Also, this long piece Quebec’s New French Revolution by free lance journalist Mark Mann. Articulate, sensitive and solidly grounded in Quebec history. An excellent account to send to friends ‘away’ who are confused about what is happening here. Thanks to Ken Kostarakis.

Politico could not resist a dig at Mark Carney’s Globe op-ed (We all deserve affordable homes and a stable climate – and that is achievable) “that, just in case he ever throws his hat in the ring for realzies, doubles as stump speech fodder”

If it were not such an example of criminal mismanagement, the ArriveCan scandal would be great fodder for SNL (Canada: government & governance November 2023-)
In case you missed the Wednesday Night connection: Public sector watchdog will be latest to dig into ArriveCan scandalPublic Sector Integrity Commissioner Harriet Solloway is probing “several allegations of wrongdoing” and looking into complaints alleging two former Canada Border Services Agency officials faced “reprisals” for accusing their superiors of “misleading” Parliament about who ultimately hired GC Strategies — the IT firm behind the program. While it is no doubt frustrating and scandalous, we hope that our friend Harriet can maintain her sense of humour.
NB, looks like ArriveCan is only the tip of the proverbial … Canada finds C$5m in fraudulent billing by government suppliers

Andrew Caddell‘s weekly Hill Times column Mass departures from municipal politics are understandable examines the problems arising from harassment in public, on social media, or due to personal conflicts, but continues “I believe there’s a link between bad morale and the frustrations of being powerless”. For those who cannot read him in the Hill Times or on Facebook, let me know and I can send a copy. He also draws our attention to Quebec’s New French Revolution (see below in Long reads)

For those who have not yet decided on summer holiday plans:
Check out The Globe South of France Cruise – May 30-June 8 – Robert Fife and Lisa Laflamme are scheduled to accompany the tour.

An AI robot is spotting sick tulips to slow the spread of disease through Dutch bulb fields
Theo works weekdays, weekends and nights and never complains about a sore spine despite performing hour upon hour of what, for a regular farm hand, would be backbreaking labor checking Dutch tulip fields for sick flowers. The boxy robot — named after a retired employee at the WAM Pennings farm near the Dutch North Sea coast — is a new high-tech weapon in the battle to root out disease from the bulb fields as they erupt into a riot of springtime color.

Thanks to Byron for this fascinating link. Ethnic Groups of the United States by ancestry (1820-2023)

Canada’s foreign correspondents are almost extinct
[T]here could now be less than 60 full-time Canadian foreign correspondents left abroad from major outlets, with 45 of them working for the CBC/Radio Canada and only 15 working elsewhere.
Vanishing foreign bureaus are a result of shrinking budgets and authoritarian regime pushback, but may also be a reaction to a country that has a shrinking footprint on the world stage.

WWII Monuments Men weren’t all men. The female members finally move into the spotlight
The Allied armies’ Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section included 27 women and about 320 men during and just after WWII. The Army recently revived the concept, with the first new class of monuments officers graduating in 2022.
As the years passed, the foundation became increasingly involved in restitution, from helping return works taken during the war to producing a pack of playing cards featuring still-missing works.

For your entertainment
Seth Meyers sums up all those qualities/qualifications(?) that make Donald Trump the perfect GOP candidate Late Night with Seth Meyers
and the much longer
Tucker Carlson Reacts to Biden’s SOTU; Trump Reveals Extreme Second Term Agenda: A Closer Look

“I’m Justin” performed by Justin Trudeau! (I’m Just Ken Parody)
The only thing I care about is being liked! Why is that so off-putting…

NOT funny
And from someone who obviously doesn’t care about being liked
Jared Kushner on Gaza: ‘Waterfront Property Could Be Very Valuable
Trump’s son-in-law also praised Israel for going “more out of their way than a lot of other countries would to protect civilians from casualties”
Was there ever a sleazier developer than Jared Kushner and the family enterprise?

Long reads
The Case for Palestine
The Palestinian Authority Has Outlived Its Purpose—It’s Time for the State

Chrystia Freeland’s dinner party diplomacy Freeland has cultivated a network of influencers over 30 years and career stops in Kyiv, Moscow, London and New York -an unusually intimate view of her amazing rolodex of international friends and connections.

Race to AI: the origins of artificial intelligence, from Turing to ChatGPT
Today’s poem-writing AI has ancestry in punch-card machines, trundling robots and godlike gaming engines

Anti-corruption progress at the Summit for Democracy is essential to safeguarding democracy
Democracy is on the line globally in 2024. Autocrats and malign actors are wielding corruption strategically, closing civic space, curtailing freedoms, targeting political opposition and independent media, and pedaling dangerous disinformation to relentlessly advance illiberalism. The third Summit for Democracy (S4D3) in March must turn the tide on autocratic inroads by leveraging anti-corruption tools to strengthen resilience and take measurable steps to prevent democratic backsliding.

Mark Mann: Quebec’s New French Revolution
A former Concordia student and self-described “Francophile” offers insight into Premier Francois Legault’s perceived “war on English.” He gives an overview of the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s tuition hikes for out-of-province university students and its disdain for linguistic diversity in Montreal.
“When I moved to Montreal, it was a vibrant, multilingual metropolis. Now François Legault is waging war on English and on the cosmopolitanism that makes it Canada’s greatest city.”

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #2192"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 21, 2024 at 8:56 am ·

    * Re PKP at the Mulroney funeral, We were reminded by several people that “Brian was on the Board of Quebecor and Quebecor is a huge client of Brian’s firm” Enough said.

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