THE GLOBAL NEWSSTAND

Stories that matter from near and far.

Boris and the Battle for Brexit

Three years after the British people voted to leave the European Union, Britain is still stuck. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to leave without a formal Brexit deal has triggered a crisis in Parliament. Behind this commotion is an intransigent E.U., mindful that without the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit, the U.K. has no bargaining power. Christopher Caldwell, writing in The Claremont Review of Books, deftly fills in the blanks on the Brexit debate, especially regarding the Eurocrats. The E.U.’s ability to evade democratic responsibility, Caldwell warns, may be even more robust than its most vocal critics feared.

Boris and the Battle for Brexit

Three years after the British people voted to leave the European Union, Britain is still stuck. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to leave without a formal Brexit deal has triggered a crisis in Parliament. Behind this commotion is an intransigent E.U., mindful that without the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit, the U.K. has no bargaining power. Christopher Caldwell, writing in The Claremont Review of Books, deftly fills in the blanks on the Brexit debate, especially regarding the Eurocrats. The E.U.’s ability to evade democratic responsibility, Caldwell warns, may be even more robust than its most vocal critics feared.

The Archive

Post-human History

Few intellectuals can match the extraordinary popular success of Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari. In two best-selling books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, he tackles the big questions about the human condition and its future. Harari’s wide-ranging, macro-histories have clearly struck a nerve with the public. Yet his account of our collective past assumes that the biological, scientific version of human nature provides the true and full explanation of what we are. Writing in City Journal, Sir Roger Scruton notes that Harari’s reductive view of history skirts the rather gaping matters of human self-consciousness and self-awareness. In the end, writes Scruton, Harari’s histories are about homo without the sapiens.

Rebel Weather

The renowned Canadian physician Sir William Osler once observed that “the greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.” No issue fits Osler’s words better than climate change. Contrary to global dogma, climate science is far from settled. Among the basic challenges facing climatologists is securing accurate records of the Earth’s temperature. John Steele Gordon, writing in Commentary, reports that when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration installed 114 state-of-the-art weather stations in 2005, it didn’t quite confirm global warming. As Mark Twain summarized, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

The Good Intentions Paving Co. Visits the City

Urban America is experiencing a widespread breakdown in public order. Cities such as Chicago and San Francisco are marked by homelessness, violent crime, an epidemic of drug abuse, housing shortages, a decaying infrastructure and a general erosion of the human ecology, while others, such as Portland, have added ongoing violent protests to the mix of woes. Among the major reasons for urban decline, believes Steve Malanga, was the championing of progressive social policies reflecting the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Writing in City Journal, Malanga argues that however well-intentioned such policies were, their practical effect was to produce a chaotic, dangerous, urban netherworld. Fortunately, the remedies are well-known; tragically, we appear to lack the political will to enact them.

On The Need for Accuracy and Nuance

Paul Valery, the great French poet and philosopher, held that, “It is impossible to think seriously with such words as Classicism, Romanticism, Humanism, Realism, and the other-isms. You can’t get drunk or quench your thirst with the labels on bottles.” Precisely so. Nor can one think seriously with labels such as feminism, liberalism, communism, populism or conservativism. Douglas Murray, writing in the Spectator UK, warns against the ideological lumping which conflates conservative parties with “far-right” policies. The commentariat needs to adopt a nuanced and intellectually robust political lexicon, Murray argues, one capable of delineating the requisite distinctions among parties on the right.

Cleaning the Window to let in the Light

When President Trump described Baltimore as “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,” and criticized Congressman Elijah Cummings, a predictable Greek Chorus arose from the Democrats and their enablers in the media: Trump is a racist! “King” Cummings is black, so naturally, any criticism of him or his leadership could only arise from racist motives. Writing in American Greatness, Roger Kimball argues that Trump’s twitter assault was calculated to make the Democrats own the problem of urban decay. And he may well be elbowing open the famed “Overton Window,” the range of ideas and rhetoric permissible in public discourse.

Mass Shooting, U.S., El Paso

Mass Shootings in the U.S.

After the horrific mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, the Democrats immediately blamed President Trump. Blaming Trump, or any politician or public figure, is both intellectually irresponsible and socially divisive. As this unsigned editorial in the New York Sun points out, the motivations that spur these mad killers arise from both the left and right, including concerns about environmental degradation, as in Dayton and Christchurch, and fears over immigration, as in El Paso. We need to accept the grim truth that whatever our political leanings, the blame for these crimes attaches entirely to the killers.

Brazilian Wax, Canada, Transgender

A Brazilian for the Woke

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?” asked Abraham Lincoln. “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Alas, it appears that Mr. Lincoln was in error. As the enlightened among us now know, a tail is a leg — provided, of course, the dog says it is a leg. Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked Online, looks at the bizarre case of Johnathan Yaniv, a transgender male. Yaniv is arguing before the B.C. Human Rights Council that female beauticians who refuse to perform a Brazilian wax on his male genitalia are violating “her” human rights.

The Demise of the European Left

After the financial crash of 2008, Europe’s leftist parties had an opportunity to channel the anti-establishment fervour of ordinary voters and move from the fringes to the mainstream. For a time, the tide throughout Europe appeared to be shifting to the left. However, earlier this month, after the socialist government of Tsipras was swept aside in the Greek general election, it now appears that the European left is in deep crisis. Yascha Mounk, writing in the Atlantic, suggests that a chain of recent electoral defeats for the left means that the heralded resurgence of socialist parties has peaked – a lesson which the Americans would do well to take into account.

Repatriation, Justice and Terror

The destruction of the Islamic State has led to an intractable problem: what to do with captured ISIS fighters who are western nationals? Despite President Trump’s pleas for enemy combatants to be repatriated and prosecuted in their country of origin, Europeans have thus far turned a blind eye. Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern looks at the Hobson’s choice faced by western nations. On the one hand, repatriating foreign fighters is deeply unpopular and carries political risks. On the other hand, barring their repatriation virtually guarantees the clandestine return of battle-hardened fighters. There are clear security threats attached to either scenario. It is a problem Canadians will soon face.

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