Wednesday Night #2202

Written by  //  May 29, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2202

Mark and Chris Roper are headed to Tilly-sur-Seulles in Normandy for the June 7th commemoration of the role of the village in the 1944 battle of Caen, when their father was rescued by the villagers. See Peter Roper’s amazing story No time for fear: A Montrealer’s untold D-Day story.

Gerald sends Greetings from Ipswich in East Anglia. Not sure if this is part of their planned garden tour, but there are some famous gardens in the area.
The family reunion beside the Thames was apparently a great success, perhaps because “we did not talk much politics.” He adds  that “the consensus on BBC and elsewhere there is little chance of the Tories closing the gap, let alone winning.  A hung parliament might be a possible outcome. I will be having lunch with Peter [his brother]  3rd June” and hopes to join WN on the 5th when he promises to “report any developments.”

Louise Blais, Jeremy Kinsman and Peter Donolo: RED PASSPORT podcast
Democracy tests – Mexico , South Africa , and the mother of them all, India
The Global Year of Elections: A Spotlight on Mexico, South Africa, and India
As Mexico[2 June], South Africa [29 May]  and India  [1-4 June] embark on high-stakes elections this year, uncover what these pivotal moments reveal about the future of global democracy. We do a deep dive into why these elections are crucial, not just for the world but for Canada too.
No mention of the  European Parliament election 2024 (6-9 June)?
720 seats decided from an electorate of some 400 million stretching across the EU’s 27 member states
Polls for the EU elections indicate a hard right turn is coming. And these aren’t your parents’ conservatives

Many fear “The radically regressive are charging in from deep right field.”
Investors Are Watching the EU Elections
The upcoming European Parliament elections taking place on June 6-9, 2024, could have consequences for EU financial markets. Structural changes in the distribution of seats among members of Parliament, particularly across parties and coalitions, may have the potential to shift the direction and momentum of the overall EU economy.

Let us not overlook the July 4th election called by British PM Rishi Sunak
‘Drowning Street’: what the papers say as Rishi Sunak makes his election announcement (in the pouring rain)

Wednesday’s elections in South Africa
The election was held on one day and polls closed after 14 hours of voting at more than 23,000 stations across South Africa’s nine provinces. Counting will start but final results are not expected for days. The independent electoral commission that runs the election said they would be announced by Sunday.
As the world awaits the results, we highly recommend As South Africa’s pivotal election looms, its citizens will play a key role in ensuring its credibility, a most reassuring commentary on the electoral process in South Africa.

Israel, Palestine/Gaza/Hamas — “All Eyes on Rafah”
The news and international reaction to Israel’s deadly strike on Rafah on Sunday swept all other related news aside and gave more ammunition to pro-Palestine protests around the world (Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.)
The position of the U.S. suggesting the incident had not yet crossed the ‘red line’ that would force changes in American support is simply incomprehensible to us.
What is Biden’s red line in Rafah?

Ukraine and Putin’s War
While most -if not all- eyes are on the Middle East, the war has been going Russia’s way in recent weeks as Moscow’s forces have  advanced on the battlefield and stepped up strikes on cities. The Kremlin’s forces have exploited Ukrainian shortages in troops and ammunition after the lengthy delay in U.S. military aid, and Western Europe’s inadequate military production slowed crucial deliveries to the battlefield. Alarmed by the current situation, the NATO allies are shifting their stance on whether to allow Kyiv to strike military bases inside Russia with sophisticated long-range weapons provided by Western partners.
France’s Macron urges a green light for Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with Western weapons
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Zelenskyy is calling on Biden and China’s Xi to join June Ukraine peace summit as Kyiv hopes the June meeting will help pile pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. political saga continues unabated – the Trump trial, the Libertarian convention, revelations about RFK Jr.’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan (A Running Mate’s History: $1 Billion, Cocaine, a Fling With Elon Musk), concerns about the impartiality(!) and ethics of some Supreme Court justices (See Long reads below)
At Trump Trial’s Closings, Lawyers Weave Facts Into Clashing Accounts, and starting Wednesday, the power shifted from the lawyers at the lectern to the jurors in the deliberation room. The jury could take anywhere from a few hours to weeks to reach a verdict while Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, [continues to] campaign to reclaim the White House.
Thanks to Jeff Jackson for a glimpse into the mysteries of the back room/Armed Services Committee
Mexican cartels – And the culture war that didn’t happen
Jeff Jackson writes about the importance of one word in getting an amendment passed and the current mindset of Republican members of U.S. Congress.

Singapore shipper claims ‘milestone’ with simultaneous bio-methanol refuelling of cargo ship: ‘significant leap forward’
Simultaneous loading and refuelling quickens turnaround time, so the ship can sail at a slower pace, reducing fuel use and leading to lower costs and emissions
The move signals the readiness of Singapore to play a role in global shipping’s shift to low-carbon fuel.

Varia
First, the happy news: The Panda Party is back on as giant pandas will return to Washington’s National Zoo by year’s end
Months after the nation’s capital bid an emotional farewell to its giant pandas, the National Zoo is expecting a renewed surge in panda-mania with the announcement that two more of the furry black-and-white icons will be coming to Washington.
The zoo announced Wednesday that a fresh agreement had been struck with the Chinese government, and a pair of adult pandas would be arriving from China by the end of the year.
End of happy news
Google Search is making things up
Google has begun adding artificial intelligence-generated answers when users type questions into its search engine. Many people have found the AI-generated answers ranging from simply bizarre to flat-out wrong. The search engine’s AI Overviews feature has told users to put glue on pizza to keep the cheese from falling off, that elephants only have two feet, and that you should eat one rock per day for nutritional value. It even told me that, in fact, dogs have played in the National Football League.
Google has defended its new feature, saying that these strange answers are isolated incidents. “The vast majority of AI overviews provide high-quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web,” the tech giant told the BBC. The Verge reported that Google is manually removing embarrassing search results after users post what they find on social media.
This is Google’s second major faux pas in its quest to bring AI to the masses. In February, after it released its Gemini AI system, its image generator kept over-indexing for diverse images of individuals — even when doing so was wildly inappropriate. It spit out Black and Asian Nazi soldiers and Native Americans dressed in Viking garb.
The Hermit Kingdom can always be counted on for off-the-wall actions just when nobody was looking. The latest?
North Korea flew hundreds of trash-carrying balloons toward South Korea in one of its most bizarre provocations against its rival in years, prompting the South’s military to mobilize chemical and explosive response teams to recover objects and debris in different parts of the country. (video)

Cities
New York, London Top New Ranking of 1,000 Global Cities
Cities in the US and Europe dominated the top 50, based on factors ranging from economic output to quality of life.
Oxford Economics on Tuesday released its inaugural Global Cities Index, which it calls a “comprehensive evaluation of the world’s 1,000 largest urban economies.”
Byron may be able to add some first-hand commentary:
Detroit’s Revival Moves Beyond Downtown With ‘Little Village’
A new microneighborhood centered around a restored arts anchor will test the city’s ongoing revitalization outside its urban core.
And if there is time: Assessing quality of life in Michigan’s Black-majority places: A statewide landscape

Last but certainly not least: a delightful tour of Singapore with daughter-in-law Jean Low (Nicholson)
Two Singapore Insiders Share Itineraries for a Perfect Day in Town
We asked two of the city’s most prominent hospitality pros to dish on their beloved secret spots—from coffee shops to hawker stalls and outdoor adventures.
… From Bark to Bite, in Three Acts Edited from an interview with Jean Low

This item from last year has resurfaced recently
Shoppers furious as self-checkout asks for 20 percent tip: ‘It’s like an additional tax!’
Self-checkout machines have replaced many supermarket cashiers – now one has had the gall to ask for a tip

The world is going to the dogs – if only!
Airline offering dog-first experience takes first flight
BARK Air took off for its maiden dogs-fly-first flight from New York to Los Angeles on Thursday (May 23).
Bark Air, a ‘Luxurious’ New Airline Specifically for Dogs, Took Its First Flight — and It Was Sold Out
Furry customers were given calming treats, noise-canceling headphones and a beverage of their choice on board
Kodi, star of ‘Dog on Trial,’ takes home Cannes’ top dog prize (with video)
There was lots of tail-wagging and face-licking as Kodi, this year’s winner of the Palm Dog, the canine equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, went up to receive his red collar for the French comedy “Dog on Trial” on Friday.
The Griffon mix was praised for his “breathtaking” performance as Cosmos, a guide dog for a visually impaired man, who goes on trial over an attack, in a case whose outcome could mean death.
Have You Ever Seen a Corgi Race? (great video!)
…This year, in addition to the main race, there was a “Corgi Sprint Zone,” where any corgi in attendance could test its sprint speed, with a spot at next year’s races on the line. In a nod to the amateur status of the canine participants, owners were warned that their dogs would need to pass both the start and finish sensors for the result to count.

It’s the Paris Open and Djokovic began his bid for a 25th Grand Slam title with a first-round French Open win, while Rafael Nadal exited in the first round.

Long reads
Train across India offers window into voters’ views
Indian voters dissect Modi’s politics while traversing the country by train
On the Thirukkural Express, passengers travel 1,800 miles south from New Delhi to Kanyakumari in one of the longest train rides in India, representing a wide range of castes and religions. The Associated Press recently made the 48-hour train journey to interview Indian voters about the election, whose results will be announced on June 4.

The dynamics of the Russia-China partnership
Following President Putin’s visit to Beijing, Angela Stent and Yun Sun examine Russian and Chinese cooperation over the last two years, how China benefits from the relationship, and what to watch for as their economic, military, and diplomatic relations continue to evolve.
The New Propaganda War – Autocrats in China, Russia, and elsewhere are now making common cause with MAGA Republicans to discredit liberalism and freedom around the world.

Supreme Court Ethics Controversies: Alito’s Upside-Down Flag Flying Draws Concern
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew an upside-down American flag outside his house after the 2020 election, The New York Times reported Thursday—a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement challenging the election results—the latest in a string of recent ethics issues the court has faced that have ramped up criticism of the court and sparked cries for a binding code of ethics from lawmakers and legal experts

Extremism has always been part of mainstream America: historian Leonard Moore
‘History is the best tool we have to try to come to grips with… a better path forward,’
(CBC radio Ideas) “This is the hardest lecture I’ve ever given.”
That’s how historian Leonard Moore described his final lecture at McGill, where he taught popular — and powerful — courses on American history for more than 30 years.
The topic of his final lecture was, as Moore put it, “the really difficult present.” He spoke about the deep polarization in the United States, his home country, and the sense that for him and many other experts, the upcoming election between President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump may be the most pivotal in U.S. history.
It was an emotional farewell to teaching, featuring insights and anxieties about where the United States may be headed, and was attended by members of the public and friends, family and generations of former students.
A conversation with retiring History Professor Leonard Moore

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