Saturday salon 27/12 late edition


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. It was a dark and stormy night


Actually we’ve had gentle rain tonight, easing. Probably about 15 to 20 mm. Enough to keep the grass, shrubs and trees interested, but not enough to run water into any of the dams on properties where I work.

Other than Christmas, not too much has happened that impinged on my consciousness, but then we’ve intentionally missed the news on telly a couple of times. With Christmas midweek I lost a sense of what day it was. Tomorrow’s Sunday, when I normally work on a 50-acre property with possibly an acre of kept gardens. If it’s raining in the morning I’ll put the cue in the rack which means for sure the sun will come out to a bright shiny day!

The idea of the image above came from son Mark’s Facebook. He’s holidaying in southern Thailand where I gather the weather is bad!

2. Tsunami anniversary

Mark will be here next week. I must ask him whether Koh Samui was affected by the Boxing Day tsunami.

Of course, Boxing Day was the tenth anniversary of the tsunami that destroyed large tracts of Aceh province in Sumatra, also affecting Thailand and Sri Lanka, killing some 230,000 people. See reports at the the ABC and the BBC.

3. Putin needs new annexations

Looking further abroad the German magazine Der Spiegel ran an interview with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who thinks that Putin needs new annexations to feed his popularity at home. Yatsenyuk is plainly pessimistic about any resolution of the situation, which is a worry for the whole world in 2015.

This article by Anatole Kaletsky is reasonably optimistic, pointing out that the formal truce struck in September is holding and that the situation should evolve into

a broadly stable “frozen conflict,” similar to the stalemates that have prevailed for years, even decades, in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Cyprus and Israel, to name just the frozen conflicts closest to Europe.

Kaletsky thinks Ukraine will never make it into the EU or NATO. He thinks:

an EU association agreement, similar to Turkey’s, could help reduce corruption and encourage economic reform. A dual trading relationship with both Europe and Russia could ultimately offer Ukraine the only possible route to economic viability. This sort of relationship should become possible once this year’s conflict is definitively “frozen.”

4. Heightened terrorist “chatter”

There is always a possibility that Abbott’s warning of heightened terrorist chatter is playing politics. I’d be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Professor Jeff Lewis, terrorism expert at RMIT, said:

predictions were “very, very difficult” but believed an attack would occur in the following year.

“While we engage in war against ISIS it makes us vulnerable,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on it, but I think in the next 12 months something else will happen, either in Australia or in Indonesia directed at Australians.”

Not good!

6 thoughts on “Saturday salon 27/12 late edition”

  1. My belief is that Putin’s annexation’s in the Ukraine have opened the door for China to annex Siberia. China needs resources and could easily fashion a historically argued claim on that region. Putin’s agressive political manipulations will cost Russia dearly.

    On local terrorism

    Should I get a Magpul FMG9, just in case I, you know, some day need to “get down to business” while putting the trash out?

  2. I’m happy that there has been any sort of truce in the fratricidal conflict between the Ukraine and Russia – and especially so with the prisoner exchange just now.

    That China will, sooner or later, seize as much as it can of the Russian Far East is a given though much of its historical claims are as loose as were the claims of Western imperialists to vast slabs of the world. The Chinese have already made some gains with their usual Conquest By Cheque-book but the Russians, being made of sterner stuff than our local magnates and wannabe statesmen, will make it necessary for the Chinese to “recover” their “lost territories”. Nuclear arsenal of not, Russia would not be able to stop the loss of quite a lot of its eastern lands. It would be interesting to see if the Japanese assisted China in such a conflict – and for more than just the return of the Kuriles and Karafuto (southern Sakhalin island).
    Disagree with BilB about Putin costing Russia dearly. He has done a lot of awful things, overtly and covertly, and he has brought the effects of punishing trade restrictions down on the heads of each and every Russian – but – he has done one absolutely essential thing: he has done the impossible and repaired Russian national pride which was mortally wounded by Yeltsin, his accomplices and his puppeteers.

  3. I don’t have any meaningful insights into Eropean history or politics, GB. I can only look at the goings on in terms of basic logic. Europe 700 million people on one side, China 1200 million people on the other side, Russia 146 million people with fairly significant remaining resources in the middle. Who has the most to lose by destabalising the order of things. And things are destadalising.

  4. BilB, I think China is going to be a ‘good citizen’ in relation to the major powers and is unlikely to pick a fight with Russia. However, eventually with sea level rise things are going to become very squishy around Shanghai and Siberia may become more productive as the globe warms.

  5. China plays the long game, Brian. For the time being Putin recently has done a gas supply deal with China but needs to build a pipe line to cash in on it. This gas I suspect is a major part of China’s CO2 emissions reduction plans. So that front is stable for the time being.

    China is, however, supplying arms to feed the Islamic Jihad in Africa and the midde East while at the samd time blatantly showing off its military power to intimidate its neighbours in the China Seas. Icdon’t think that we are clever enough to predict what China’s real plans are.

  6. Bilb: If you want to think long term ask yourself what may happen with climate change.
    Changing weather patterns and reduced glacial melt may cause a food crisis in China, India and Pakistan – all nuclear powers.
    Siberia/Northern Russia, Canada and Northern Europe should become better food producers.
    A weakened Russia could have China and the US competing for/sharing Siberia. Lots of competition between nuclear powers.
    Historically, long droughts and other climate disturbances are often associated with invasions and war.

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