Wednesday Night #2206

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Actor Donald Sutherland dead at 88
Evey week, it seems, we mourn the death of another important/influential figure. On Thursday, Kiefer Sutherland confirmed the death of his father, the iconic (yes, this time I believe the adjective is appropriate) actor Donald Sutherland. Accolades for the range of his roles, along with his professionalism and generosity have poured in from across the globe, while Canadian admirers have stressed his attachment to his Canadian roots.
Brendan Kelly: Donald Sutherland was passionate about the Expos, the Ritz and Georgeville, in the Eastern Townships – an area we know and love as well.

The end of a very long saga
Julian Assange leaves UK after striking deal with US justice department
The Economist sums it up: Julian Assange’s plea deal: a suitable end to a grubby saga
America was right to have sought his extradition. But a bit of compassion now does not go amiss
More E is for espionage /5
Footnote: Montreal connection. Sara Gonzalez Devant was a Sauvé Scholar. She changed her name first to Stella Moris in 2012 and later to Stella Moris-Smith Robertson before marrying Julian Assange in 2022 and becoming Stella Assange.

Every time we read of another of Netanyahu’s actions/antics, threats/pronouncements, we can imagine President Biden in the privacy of the White House paraphrasing King Henry II of England’s cry Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?. But wait, could it be that Bibi involuntarily did Biden a service when he called him out in a video for withholding weapons?
Whatever, while the situation in Gaza remains horrific and we see little hope for a solution, some of Israel’s focus is turning to its northern border with Lebanon
Netanyahu says Israel is winding down its Gaza operations. But he warns a Lebanon war could be next.

All politics, all the time
Eventful times for political junkies, starting with the first Biden/Trump presidential debate tomorrow (Thursday, 27 June) See NPR: Amy Walter and Francesca Chambers on expectations for the Biden-Trump debate – with full transcript.
Also see How Trump’s criminal conviction will shape the first debate
When Joe Biden and Donald Trump meet on Thursday night in Atlanta for their first 2024 debate, they will be joined by a very large elephant in the debate hall: Trump’s newly minted status as a felon.
French PM refuses to ‘promise the moon’, clashes with far-right in debate
French prime minister Gabriel Attal accused his far-right and leftwing political opponents of “promising the moon” in a three-way televised debate late on Tuesday (25 June) ahead of next Sunday’s (30 June) first round of early parliamentary elections. Second round on 7 July.
While on Wednesday (26 June), Sunak and Starmer clash in testy final UK TV debate before the UK general election on 4 July.

Unrest in other parts of the world
Military coup attempt in Bolivia fails, president urges people to mobilize against democracy threat
President Luis Arce urges Bolivians to resist coup attempt, which appears to be led by military chief
Kenya’s president vows order after protesters storm parliament, at least 5 killed
Kenyan President William Ruto backed down from his controversial $2.7 billion tax hike plan on Wednesday, saying he would withdraw the finance bill that sparked days of violent nationwide protests in which at least 22 people were killed, and many more were injured
Sudan’s warring factions using starvation as weapon, experts say
Special rapporteurs working for UN warn famine is imminent and over 25 million people need urgent hel
The fighting has in recent months centred around El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, trapping hundreds of thousands of civilians. At least 143,000 people have been forced to flee the city over the past three months, according to the UN.
UN-backed contingent of foreign police arrives in Haiti as Kenya-led force prepares to face gangs
The first U.N.-backed contingent of foreign police arrived in Haiti on Tuesday, nearly two years after the troubled Caribbean country urgently requested help to quell a surge in gang violence.
It wasn’t immediately known what the Kenyans’ first assignment would be, but they will face violent gangs that control 80% of Haiti’s capital and have left more than 580,000 people homeless across the country as they pillage neighborhoods in their quest to control more territory. Gangs also have killed several thousand people in recent years

As the closed-door espionage trial of Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich kicks off in Russia, The Kremlin retaliated after the EU suspended 4 organizations for spreading Kremlin propaganda, restricting access on Russian territory to 81 media outlets that do business in the European Union. The list of freshly banned media outlets includes several news agencies, such as France’s AFP and Spain’s EFE, alongside various TV channels, newspapers, Politico and other internet publications and broadcasting corporations operating in EU countries.

While the popularity of the Federal Liberals -and especially Justin Trudeau- is in steep decline (see below), Alberta’s NDP is celebrating Naheed Nenshi’s election as new leader of the Alberta NDP by an overwhelming majority -86 per cent of the votes. Danielle Smith will not be resting easy.
It seemed like all of Canada held its collective breath on Monday evening during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. In a rare display of national unity, everyone was cheering for the Edmonton Oilers after their remarkable recovery from a 3-0 deficit. But despite all the hopes and prayers, the Panthers prevailed. Still, while The Oilers’ loss stings, Canadians should take pride in the Panthers’ victory.
Tuesday morning, the country woke to the news that the Conservatives had won the byelection in Toronto-St. Paul’s riding -a major upset for Liberals. Brian Mitchell has been campaigning door-to-door for weeks and is thrilled with the result.
Last week we drew your attention to the report of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages  Building Bridges: Perceptions and realities about the English-speaking communities of Quebec (ESCQ) and their relationship with French in Quebec and bilingualism in Canada which debunks many of the myths about the acceptance and practice of bilingualism and biculturalism among the ESCQ. On Thursday, at the conclusion of the AGM of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages cited the findings of the report while empasizing that “Protecting Quebec’s English-speaking communities and Canada’s bilingual status promotes diversity, inclusion and strong economic advantages”.
Unfortunately, the CAQ government does not share the enthusiasm for building bridges.
Quebec ‘thwarted’ by multiculturalism, minister says in France speech, and premier agrees
In a rare speech before France’s Académie Française — the body charged with protecting the French language in its home country — one of Quebec’s top ministers said that Canadian multiculturalism is a thorn in Quebec’s side.
The province’s premier later said he supports this view and that “we oppose multiculturalism.”
What people are failing to see, argued Simon Jolin-Barrette [Quebec’s minister of justice and also its minister for the French language] in a high-profile speech in Paris, is that Quebec’s controversial recent laws, whether language law Bill 96 or securalism law Bill 21, are themselves about protecting a fragile culture.
And on Wednesday, Quebec goes ahead with new French signage rules, delays requirements for appliances
Regulations came into effect Wednesday, will be enforced in June 2025
It was good to see Anna Gainey and Anthony Housefather at the QCGN post-meeting reception, but as usual, they were the lonely representatives of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals from Montreal ridings who should be strong supporters of the ESCQ.
Perhaps they will learn from Monday’s major upset in Toronto-St. Paul’s riding as they ponder the question raised by John Ibbitson “should they lose the next election with Justin Trudeau as leader, or should they lose it led by someone else?”. According to the recent Angus Reid poll, when asked about potential replacements including Chrystia Freeland, Mark Carney and Mélanie Joly, respondents on balance said every candidate mentioned would make them even less likely to support the Liberals.
Must Trudeau go? Amid chatter of his ouster, potential Liberal replacements offer little room for party to recover
They are deeply unpopular from sea to sea to sea, including in the urban cores that were once their final refuge. Taxes are too high, growth too low, interest rates too steep, mortgages and rent too burdensome. It doesn’t matter who leads them. The Canadian electorate wants them gone.

Long reads
A Look Back at Memorable Presidential Debate Moments
Almost every televised debate, since the first one in 1960, has had a singular quip, gaffe or exchange that sticks in public memory.
Ian Bremmer: How France’s shock election could upend European politics
French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call snap parliamentary elections on June 9 has misfired. A mere four days before voters head to the polls for the first of two rounds of voting this Sunday, the momentum is firmly with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, aka RN, party and the left-wing New Popular Front coalition.
As things stand, by the time the second round is over on July 7, France will be plunged into a prolonged period of political deadlock and disarray, with potentially massive implications for the future of Europe and Ukraine.
Why It’s Nice to Know You
Being understood yourself starts with taking the trouble to understand others.
By Arthur C. Brooks
Do you feel a longing to be known that is not being met? If so, then—in that, at least—you are not alone. According to a survey conducted by the health services company Cigna and the market-research company Ipsos in 2018, more than half of U.S. adults said they always or sometimes felt that “no one knows them well.” If this includes you, you may be suffering from what we could call Poe syndrome, in which your inattention to others is at the root of the problem.
Ian Bremmer Russia-Ukraine reality check (video and transcript)
…the problem is that a lot of the uncertainty about Ukraine isn’t only about what Russia does, isn’t only about Ukrainian capacity, but it’s also keeping that multilateral effort, which has been strong and united together. And there have been a couple of almost misses, especially the US, the six months getting them $61 billion, but also coming up with the electoral cycles. And the longer you push that out, the more dangerous it is for Ukraine and ultimately for the NATO alliance. So that’s a little bit of the sort of real talk about what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine on the back of the news of the past week. As always, what you want to happen is not the same as analysis.
The TikTok debacle: Distinguishing between foreign influence and interference
(Brookings) Washington is afraid of TikTok. More precisely, it is afraid of Beijing’s influence over TikTok via the platform’s China-based parent company ByteDance. Critics allege TikTok, where a third of U.S. adults under 30 get their news, is used to “silence free speech,” “undermine democracy,” and “promote propaganda.” Through China’s National Intelligence Law, ByteDance could gain access to the personal data of its 170 million U.S. users. These fears drove President Joe Biden to sign into law a bill forcing TikTok to find a new owner in one year or be banned in the United States.
TikTok has attempted to rebut these accusations by storing U.S. user data on American soil through “Project Texas” and limiting the reach of Chinese state-backed accounts. However, the company has been forced to contend with its own record. Interviews with TikTok employees indicate the company is ultimately “answerable to ByteDance rather than its international leadership.” TikTok has misrepresented the work of researchers at the Citizen Lab to downplay privacy concerns about the app. Chinese engineers have reportedly accessed U.S. user data, despite TikTok’s claims to the contrary. And while TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has stated that the company is “not an agent of China,” Beijing has publicly and privately lobbied on the company’s behalf.

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