Wednesday Night #2195

Written by  //  April 10, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2195

To all our friends who are celebrating the end of Ramadan: Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Eid-ul-Fitr. Eid Mubarak!

Total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024
Did anyone else find the Path to Totality a ridiculous term reminiscent of an over-the-top sci-fi adventure? Or maybe a chapter of Trump’s God Bless the USA Bible? Was the Solar Eclipse Mania somewhat exaggerated? Or should we all be thrilled to have been on the Path to Totality given that Quebec hasn’t witnessed a total solar eclipse in over 50 years (1972), and it will be over 80 years before the next one (2106). Whatever your personal opinion, the viewers in Montreal and the Townships were enthusiastic and some of the photographs simply spectacular (NB John Buchanan and Annika Chell).

Remembering Rwanda
Documenting the Rwandan genocide
(Al Jazeera) On April 7, 1994, one of the most harrowing events in modern history began: the Rwandan genocide.
30 years after Rwandan genocide, Roméo Dallaire feels ‘rage’ amid global crises (video)
Roméo Dallaire led the UN’s peacekeeping mission when more than 800,000 Rwandans — most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus — were slaughtered by the Rwandan military and Hutu militia.
Looking back on the Rwandan genocide
Kyle Matthews speaks about what has been learned since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

April 7 also marked the six-month anniversary of the start of the Israel-Hamas war and, [a]fter six months of war, Israel’s isolation grows with no end in sight.
Initially, following the Oct. 7 massacre, Israel enjoyed broad international support. However, that goodwill has been replaced by impatience and outrage as conditions in Gaza worsen. International aid officials say roughly one-third of Gaza’s population is dealing with catastrophic hunger and last week’s killings of World Central Kitchen workers (one Canadian from Saint-Georges de Beauce) caused an immediate pause in delivery of humanitarian aid.
Recurring attempts to develop serious agreements on ceasefires or truce, and even develop workable long-range solutions to the two-state dilemma no longer spark much -if any-hope. Too often torpedoed by Hamas or Bibi, while events such as Wednesday’s news that Three sons of Hamas leader Haniyeh killed in Israeli airstrike can only hurt the prospects. Tuesday’s Guardian editorial will soon be proven right: The seeds of a forever war are being planted in the coastal strip.
On a more optimistic note, What would an Israel-Palestine solution look like?
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman games that out for Ian Bremmer. The headline of Mr Friedman’s Wednesday column pretty well sums up his thinking Israel: Cease-Fire, Get Hostages, Leave Gaza, Rethink Everything

If only we could envisage a Rwandan-style national reconciliation as part of a long-term solution, but we cannot imagine that would ever happen.

Putin’s War
Most worrisome situation: Without More Aid, Ukraine Could Lose the War, U.S. General Says
The United States gives Ukraine’s military most of two critical munitions that are in shortest supply: artillery shells and air-defense interceptors.
An exercise in futility? It is confirmed that the Swiss government, at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, will host a two-day high-level conference 15-16 June aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine, although Russia has made clear it will not take part in the initiative.
Switzerland said in January it would host a peace summit at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and has since held talks with the EU, G7 member states and countries such as China and India to gauge their interest in taking part.
Not likely to distract from the pursuit of Putin’s war, but Moscow declared a federal emergency on Sunday because of devastating floods in the Urals and surrounding regions Russia evacuates thousands amid floods in Ural region

As we continue to check off elections across the globe, South Korea’s parliamentary election on Wednesday “was a big test for President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has forged closer ties with the United States and Japan but whose domestic agenda has stalled.” …”voters were projected to have handed Mr. Yoon and his party a crushing defeat, giving the opposition one of its biggest electoral victories in recent decades. Official results expected Thursday morning.
How will this outcome affect relations with the U.S., Japan and other western countries?

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest calls on Canada’s leaders to promote civility
In an open letter he co-signed with former mayors, senators, artists and business people, he calls on the political class to take concrete action to clean up public debate.
The letter published Tuesday in The Globe and Mail caused a stir on social media, Charest said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.
“The reaction is very strong. It stunned us. It surprised me a lot,” he said. “Some people are reacting poorly, seeing this call as a kind of call to silence, when that’s not the case at all.”
The letter authors contend Canadians are less tolerant of divergent points of view and are increasingly belligerent, particularly when it comes to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.

The Ottawa antidote to Eclipse Mania as described by Politico Everything is happening “Anyone remember the last time three major policy confabs overlapped with a prime minister’s testimony at a public inquiry, the government’s reveal of a looooooong-awaited military strategy, a Bank of Canada rate announcement, the finance minister’s enthusiastic sharing of more budget goodies, and 400 gossipy insiders crammed into a room for the annual Press Gallery dinner?”
Regarding the “looooooong-awaited military strategy, on Monday, two years after being ordered on an urgent basis, a new defence policy for Canada that promises to bolster the military’s surveillance and combat capabilities in the Arctic was unveiled
Canada pledges billions in new defence spending, but doesn’t reach NATO’s 2% commitment
New defence policy focuses on threats to Arctic, boosting military ‘striking power’

On Wednesday afternoon, PM Trudeau appeared before the foreign interference inquiry
Bloomberg reports that he Rejects Claim China Meddled to Try to Help His Election, while Media leaks alleged China supported Trudeau’s Liberal Party
In addition to Bloomberg, the inquiry has attracted other international media including the Washington Post How China allegedly interfered with Canada’s elections Of course, anything China-related these days sets the collective media nose quivering.
Previously, week two of the foreign interference inquiry revealed
Testimony, documents suggest efforts to safeguard elections plagued by information bottlenecks

QCGN panel French in decline? New perspectives on the issues and challenges of French as a common public language of Quebec society. With panelists Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Mario Polèse, and moderator Allison Hanes. An excellent, informed and informative discussion. Unfortunately, Allison Hanes, whose reporting we admire greatly, did not prove to be a particularly good moderator.
Watch the full recording of the event on the QCGN’s YouTube page
La Presse editorial writer Stéphanie Grammond not only acknowledges the QCGN’s language event, but writes that false claims by the Quebec government that French is in decline only hurts the cause of protecting the language, adding that it doesn’t encourage newcomers nor English-speaking Quebecers to learn it.
L’éclipse (du français) n’a pas eu lieu « la langue française qui n’est pas en train de se faire éclipser dans l’espace public du Québec, comme en témoigne une étude publiée la semaine dernière par l’Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF »

U.S. politics  are never dull and recently more attention is being directed at the  spoiler role  that third-party candidate  Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr) might play. We would like to defer to next week a discussion of the campaign and related issues e.g. the number of federal representatives who have announced their retirement, as well as the fate of Speaker Johnson. In the meantime, check out three of the Long reads below for inspiration.

Wednesday 10 April is National Siblings Day (who decides these things?) and NPR celebrates the occasion.

11 April to 4 August
Lisa Napoli reminds that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts MMFA is Wanda Koop’s exhibition WHO OWNS THE MOON
Also, not to be missed, current exhibition – until 2 June
Georgia O’Keeffe and Henry Moore : Giants of Modern Art

“A Most Extraordinary Ride”
I saw an ad in the paper that led me to become the first Canadian in space. My journey took me to mission control, to space on the Challenger and to Ottawa’s halls of power. This is my story
By Marc Garneau Special to the Star Mar 27, 2024 Updated Mar 28, 2024
Marc Garneau never expected to become an astronaut. But he became the first Canadian in space, had an inside role in Canada’s space program, was the voice of mission control, sailed across the Atlantic and back, and pursued a life in politics, becoming a Canadian government minister. His memoir “A Most Extraordinary Ride” comes out in October 2024. Here’s an exclusive sneak peek.

Montreal’s Confederate past revealed
The city was a hotbed of conspirators, sympathizers and raiders in the early 1860s
While Canada was a refuge for thousands of escaped slaves during the U.S. Civil War, it was also a haven for Confederate spies, agents, and raiders, including Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Journalist Julian Sher reveals a forgotten part of Canada’s history in his book, The North Star: Canada and the Civil War Plots Against Lincoln. Published on Sept. 12, 2023. (Penguin Random House Canada/Nahlah Ayed)

Buried rivers flow under Canadian cities, hidden in a labyrinth of tunnels and sewer pipes. Will we revive them or let the waterways fade from memory?
Jaela Bernstien and Emily Chung uncover hidden rivers across Canada.‍

House sitting in Vancouver
Planning a trip to Vancouver in July?
Jaime Webbe writes: “we’re heading out of town July 3-28th and wanted to put the word out in case anyone has visitors coming who would be interested in staying in our house in exchange for dog / cat sitting. Part of the time also works.” For more information on what sounds like an idyllic spot, please contact me and I will put you in touch.

Not only have several Wednesday Nighters walked the Camino de Santiago (Catherine Gillbert delighted us with her real-time blog about her experience), as most of Montreal knows, Denis Coderre is planning to do so in May. So the movie “The Way” may be of interest. It can be seen in Canada on Apple TV or Tubi TV.

Lighter moments
#TheMoment some black bears took a joyride on a swan pedal boat
Only in the UK?
Why scores of dogs will honour a Great Dane in Cape Town this weekend
A quaint local festival celebrates the life of the first dog to receive a Royal Navy rank.
Just Nuisance, who died 80 years ago this week, was the first dog in the world to receive an official Royal Navy rank. Every April, humans and canines flock to the naval suburb of Simon’s Town to celebrate his life with cake, walkies and a pipe band. Last year, about 80 dogs turned up. This year’s festival kicks off at 10am on Saturday, April 6.

Long reads
Many thanks to Catherine Gillbert for forwarding the link to this fascinating –unique- perspective
Rising tension and polarization in Israel amid Gaza war, Jerusalem priest says
The author, Fr. David Neuhaus, is a Jesuit priest who has lived among both Palestinians and Israelis. Born in South Africa to Jewish parents, Neuhaus first arrived in Israel at the age of 15 and has since spent most of his life there. “An important element right from the beginning of my life in Jerusalem has been the fact that I was quasi-adopted into a Muslim Palestinian family and not only learnt Arabic but also became intimately familiar with Palestinian life in Israel-Palestine” …
After converting to Roman Catholicism, he began an academic career and is now a guest professor of sacred scripture, biblical theology and Judaism at Salesian Pontifical University’s Jerusalem campus.

After six months of war, Israel’s isolation grows with no end in sight
Israel enjoyed broad international support following the Oct. 7 massacre, which was the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust. However, that goodwill has been replaced by impatience and outrage as conditions in Gaza worsen. More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to Palestinian health officials whose death toll doesn’t distinguish between civilians and fighters. International aid officials say roughly one-third of Gaza’s population is dealing with catastrophic hunger.

The price of higher ed, a one-hour special on The World,
-how higher education is being funded around the world and how students, especially those who are international, are paying for their schooling. Stories examine issues of access, opportunity and success across borders, both real and imagined.
Focus is on foreign students and access to U.S. higher education – much equally applicable to Canadian context

Why Is Biden Struggling? Because America Is Broken.
Mr. Biden suffers from persistently low approval ratings, he barely manages to tie Mr. Trump in national head-to-head polls and he lags behind the former president in most of the swing states where the election will be decided (despite some recent modestly encouraging movement in his direction).
… there are things the Biden campaign could do to help the president better connect with voters.
First, he should stop being so upbeat — about the economy in particular — and making the election entirely about the singular awfulness of his opponent. While the latter sounds evasive, the former makes the president seem hopelessly out of touch and risks antagonizing people who aren’t in the mood for a chipper message. …

Anonymous users are dominating right-wing discussions online. They also spread false information
The accounts enjoy a massive reach that is boosted by engagement algorithms, by social media companies greatly reducing or eliminating efforts to remove phony or harmful material, and by endorsements from high-profile figures such as Musk. They also can generate substantial financial rewards from X and other platforms by ginning up outrage against Democrats.
Many such internet personalities identify as patriotic citizen journalists uncovering real corruption. Yet their demonstrated ability to spread misinformation unchecked while disguising their true motives worries experts with the United States in a presidential election year.

Ian Bremmer: Could third-party candidates upend the 2024 US election?
While the polls will no doubt seesaw back and forth over the next seven months, don’t get fooled by the noise. Because of the Electoral College and America’s growing political polarization, the outcome of US elections is determined not by the national popular vote but by the states – and, increasingly, by just tens of thousands of voters in a handful of swing states.
Trump carried most of these in 2016, and Biden flipped most in 2020. The former was decided by about 78,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The latter, by about 44,000 votes in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. Something similar will happen this upcoming November, with the winner virtually guaranteed to have a narrow path to the White House.
Polls consistently show that most Americans dislike both Biden and Trump and want neither to lead the nation again. …third parties don’t need to win any states or even significant numbers of votes to influence the 2024 result. Even single-digit vote shares could be enough to shift margins in the closely contested swing states that will decide the election, as they have in several recent contests. Indeed, third-party candidates picked up more votes than the eventual winner’s margin of victory in 75% of swing states in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Insofar as the 2024 race is close, it won’t take many third-party votes in the right places to spoil it.
the No. 1 reason to think RFK Jr. could hurt Trump more than Biden is that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents like him much more than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents do. While the exact numbers vary from poll to poll, Kennedy’s average net favorability is positive among Republicans and negative among Democrats. This trend has grown over time as voters have gotten to know RFK Jr. better and realized his anti-establishment views put him closer to the Republican base than the Democratic one. To name just a few, he is a vocal anti-vaxxer, opposes gun control and Ukraine aid, and has a knack for conspiratorial thinking. All these positions are right-wing coded, appealing more to the reactionary populism of Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, and Alex Jones than the suburban, college-educated liberals who make up the base of the Democratic Party.

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