Wednesday Night #2197

Written by  //  April 24, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2197

A collective global sigh of relief could be heard on Tuesday when the US Senate overwhelmingly passed the long-delayed Ukraine and Israel aid
After months of intense, multi-faceted fighting over foreign aid, the $95 billion is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.
What’s in the foreign aid package? – On the Ukraine front, the bill provides $23.2 billion for the U.S. military to replenish stocks of weapons provided to Ukraine, $13.8 billion for the Pentagon to contract for new weapons for Kyiv, and $7.8 billion in additional weapons the U.S. can transfer from existing stocks to Ukraine. Let us hope that it will not be too little too late.
See Ian Bremmer’s thoughts Will US aid help turn the tide of the Russia-Ukraine war?
.. …closing the ammunition gap alone won’t be enough for Ukraine to stabilize the frontline. To do that, Kyiv also needs to address its military’s other big challenge: a manpower shortage.
Ukraine Is Far From Doomed – an encouraging view from Tatyana Deryugina and Anastassia Fedyk

India government, governance
They are off and running!
Traditionally billed as the world’s largest democracy, India, with nearly a billion eligible voters, set off on the world’s largest electoral exercise on 19 April.
The country has more than 2,500 political parties but just 10 of them hold 86% of all seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
India occupies a unique geopolitical (and geographical) role at this juncture. There is cause for worry as both the editorial in the Japan news
Indian General Election: True State of World’s Largest Democracy is in Question and PBS’ Why elections in India, the world’s largest democracy, are crucial to watch argue in considerable detail.

Israel/Iran, et al.
Project Syndicate offers four distinct thought-provoking voices on Israel/Iran (see Long reads below)
C. Uday Bhaskar writes that Tehran’s aerial strike and Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack are reminders that Tel Aviv’s deterrence capabilities are not infallible How Iran’s attack will force Israel to rethink its security

U.S. politics
The Trump Trials

We have not a sufficient number of hours to cover the minutiae of Trump’s legal battles, however, for a few tidbits, see Donald Trump October 2023-.
Also, do not miss George Will’s biting piece So, 112 ignoble, infantile Republicans voted to endanger civilization
The possible effect of third-party candidate RFK Jr.continues to be a wild card, even though he appears increasingly unhinged. Politico reports that Republicans are starting to worry about RFK Jr. Even Donald Trump acknowledged Monday that the independent candidate “probably hurts both” Biden and him.
While checking out the opinions, continue to bear in mind Ian Bremmer’s piece: 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.

Earth Day 2024
While much of the news related to this year’s theme of “Planet vs. Plastics” and the upcoming talks in Ottawa (As Plastic Treaty Delegates Head to Canada), we prefer to dwell on the stark contrast between the anodyne Earth Day message from PM Trudeau  and the concrete initiatives of the Biden-Harris administration, starting with the finalization of the strategy to guide balanced management, conservation of public lands, followed by the announcement of the first tranche of Climate Corps jobs with hopes of segueing thousands into federal service. For more, see US: Environment & energy 2020-2024
Meanwhile, in Canada, following the Climate Emergency Unit call for action Canada Needs a Youth Climate Corps, in November 2023, a poll by Abacus Data showed that the idea of a Youth Climate Corps is supported by the majority of Canadians. Action to date? NADA.
We might also mention that, if following the U.S. model, many of the jobs available through a Youth Climate Corps would teach lasting skills that the economy needs so badly.

Plastics pollution talks
23 April – Ottawa
As Plastic Treaty Delegates Head to Canada, A Plea From the Arctic: Don’t Forget Vulnerable Indigenous Peoples – Advocates hope a U.N. meeting can revive plastics pollution talks and meet a year-end goal for a global agreement.
U.N. talks resume April 23 in Ottawa and are expected to draw delegates from nearly 180 countries to Canada who seek to advance a plastics treaty with an ambitious charge: to embrace a broad definition of the problem that encompasses “the full life-cycle” of plastics.

As the debate over EVs continues, Honda is expected to announce a multi-billion dollar deal to assemble EVs in Ontario The anticipated Honda deal is the latest in a series of announcements of projects building up the electric vehicle industry in Canada, mainly in Ontario and Quebec. Are there too many eggs in Canada’s EV basket?

Last week, the news that the Canadian Party of Quebec had announced Monday it’s studying the feasibility of creating an 11th province out of a partitioned Quebec was met with considerable skepticism and derision, along with citations of the disasters that have followed partitions, e.g. starting with Poland’s multiple partitions; Ireland; Cyprus; Sudan; Israel/Palestine; and the currently worrisome (see below) India/Pakistan. None a success.
Not exactly trivia
Canada’s forgotten role in the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel
Lester Pearson played a key diplomatic role in the partition of the region following WWII
By Antony Anderson, author of “The Diplomat: Lester Pearson and the Suez Crisis” and a senior fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History
By November 1947, Lester Pearson had ventured deep into the labyrinth. There he was, serving in a tight working group set up by a United Nations sub-committee, which had been established by the General Assembly, to map out the improbable, or maybe even the impossible: a viable path to partition a blood-soaked piece of land—the Mandate of Palestine—for two different peoples with incompatible dreams.

Congratulations to founder and board member of Our Harbour/Le Havre Catherine Gillbert, who was honoured last week at a special event, Hommage aux bénévoles 2024 hosted by Isabelle Poulet – députée de Laporte à l’Assemblée Nationale.

In this week’s column, The CAQ’s Language Shell Game Fooled Everyone, Andrew Caddell attacks the CAQ for its propaganda -and legislation- based on the ‘decline’ of the French language.
However, “a report last week from the Office Quebecois de la Langue Française (OQLF) [indicates] the status of the French language since 2017 has been “stable.” … Premier François Legault brought in nationalist demographers and extremist columnists as shills to set up the con. Extremists like Richard Martineau and Mathieu Bock-Coté railed in the Journal de Montreal about the “threat” Anglophone institutions posed to Quebec’s Francophone culture.
However, demographer Jean-Pierre Corbeil has led a counteroffensive, with the recent publication of his book “Le Français en Déclin: repenser la francophonie Quebecoise” … This narrative of blame has to stop, now that we know it has been just one massive con job.”

Brownstein: Montreal filmmaker enters the world of contrarian attorney Alan Dershowitz
Montreal filmmaker John Curtin‘s latest documentary is The Trials of Alan Dershowitz about the controversial lawyer.
Once lionized as a brilliant and ferocious litigator for taking on Pentagon Papers-leaker Daniel Ellsberg, among other high-profile cases, and for defending — pro bono — cases for the down and out, Dershowitz later shocked many by pleading for the well-heeled likes of Claus von Bülow and Mike Tyson. He shocked many more by helping represent O.J. Simpson in one of the most divisive and most watched murder trials of the last half-century.

3 May
A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis
World Press Freedom Day 2024 is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis.
This day also signifies the importance of a free press in a democracy and reminds governments to protect the journalists who continue to face risks for their reporting.
We aim to highlight the significant role that the press, journalism, access and dissemination of information play to ensure and secure a sustainable future that respects the rights of individuals and their diversity of voices, as well as gender equality
Mark your calendar
2-4 May
31st World Press Freedom Day Conference
A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis
May 2 and 4, Chile and UNESCO will host the 31st World Press Freedom Day Conference. side events

The McGill Office for Science and Society (OSS) Celebrates 25 Years
A Retrospective with Joe Schwarcz
Moderated by Josh Freed
23 May
6:30 PM Reception; 7 PM Event starts
Otto Maass Chemistry Building (801 Sherbrooke Street, corner of Sherbrooke and University)
How the OSS came to be; some of the craziest questions received over the last 25 years; and what has surprised the most … some good stories, important takeaways, fun swag, and even a little magic!
event will be in-person only and made available for viewing afterward.

There’s a new luxury airline for dogs
The private jet charter company Talon Air will take care of those with paws and dewclaws for takeoff and landing, while Bark will deliver safety measures during the flight itself. That includes a concierge team devoted to the comfort of both dogs and humans
Bark Air announces that it is launching new luxury flights for dogs and their humans, and we’re wondering if this includes a Frequent Fido program.
These flights will start next month between White Plains, New York (the Westchester County Airport, 30 miles north of New York City), Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, and Stansted Airport in London.

Remember ‘Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert’?
‘Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert’ Movie Sequel Readying To Shoot With Original Stars …a sequel “is happening” and that the original movie’s stars Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving are back “on board” 30 years after the film’s initial release.
The 30-year hunt to find the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert bus: ‘My jaw was on the ground’
Curators spent months determining if the bus was truly Priscilla. “A few things really made us confident: it had the right number plates, the distinctive animal print curtains and dashboard cover, and the original name roller,” says Adam Paterson, manager curatorial at the History Trust.

Special for Montrealers of a certain age:
Eaton Centre’s 9th floor restaurant making its return after 25 years
17 May opening
The restored iconic (we try to avoid the word, but in this case it really is appropriate) Art Deco 9th floor of Eaton’s includes the public main dining room and/ or two private dining rooms along with large separate Event space.
Bill Browstein calls the lavishly restored restaurant ‘love letter to the city’

The book we really were not waiting forSophie Grégoire Trudeau says family life with PM post-separation ‘gets messy,’ but they have each other’s back
New book, Closer Together, explores building ’emotional literacy’ in difficult times

Montreal tenant forced to pay his landlord’s taxes offers advice to other renters
David Siscoe has some advice for fellow renters across the country: get proof that your landlord is paying their taxes, or at least make sure you’ve got a property manager who’s responsible. Mr. Siscoe is the Montreal tenant who was audited and assessed by Canada Revenue Agency in 2018 and ordered to pay six years’ worth of his non-resident landlord’s withholding taxes.

TikTok Says Law Is on Its Side as It Readies to Fight US Ban
We are not following this story, but welcome comments from anyone who is doing so.

Long reads
Why elections in India, the world’s largest democracy, are crucial to watch
Critics of India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister argue that democracy itself will be put to test in this election. “There are serious question marks on whether these are really free and fair polls, if one thinks clearly based on all the evidence that is on record,” said Sushant Singh, a senior foreign policy expert at the India-based Centre for Policy Research, and a lecturer at Yale University.

An Iran-Israel War?
While the vast majority of the more than 300 drones and missiles were shot down by Israel and its partners – primarily the United States but also the United Kingdom and Jordan – the attack represented a grave escalation between the regional foes, raising fears of a broader Middle East conflagration.

AI Holds the Key to Resilient Cities
Cities will play a central role in how the world addresses climate change, and if there is one factor that could give policymakers much-needed support, it is artificial intelligence. But access to technology and the skills required to use it effectively are proving to be major obstacles to implementation.

Criminalizing Homelessness Won’t Make It Go Away (video)
Yes, some are addicts, some are mentally ill, some have made unwise choices, and some are simply unlucky. Some are many of those things. But all of them argue that in the hardest moment of their lives, they have been largely abandoned, and even punished, by the rest of us. So we hope you’ll do more than dismiss, or judge, the people in this video, and instead listen to them

The Accidental Speaker
What if Mike Johnson is actually good at this?

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