Saturday salon 19/3

1. Suicide a scourge, especially amongst men and indigenous Australians

It’s a sorry story, long but rich in anecdotes, and salted with startling and disturbing facts.

    Suicide in Australia is a dark plague, ravaging every age and occupation. Three-quarters of those deaths are men – more die by their own hand than from either skin cancer, liver disease, heart failure or car accidents.

    The scourge is greater still within the building industry. Suicide among construction workers – who are almost exclusively men – aged 15 to 24 is more than twice as high as other young males, according to the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.

    Every two days in Australia, a construction worker kills himself. They’re six times more likely to die from suicide than through a workplace accident. For those under the age of 24, the increased risk is 10 fold.

Then in the Kimberley indigenous suicides rates are eight times that of non-indigenous Australians living in WA’s north-west.

It’s time for some deep policy work. Whatever we do just looks like sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

2. Trump tipping point

Two things of importance happened during the last week of primaries. First, Trump with Rubio dropping out looks a good chance of getting more than 50% of the delegates when he gets to the convention. California could be the key.

Rubio’s race simply ran out of puff when he lost his home state of Florida. Apparently he didn’t have the resources to go on.

Kasich is hanging in there and his Ohio win could be crucial.

Here’s the state of play with the Republicans at a bit over half way:

delegates Mr 15_cropped_republicans

Second, in the Democrat race Sanders looks out of it. Here’s how he’s placed a little way over half way:

delegates Mr 15_cropped_democrats

For a real worry take a look at this article. Nathan Robinson reckons Hillary has so many skeletons in the cupboard that Trump will simply cream her with muckraking and make her look unelectable. It could get ugly!

3. Fairfax Media commits hari-kari

Fairfax media is to shed 120 journalists. That amounts to about 15 per cent of their journalists.

    At the moment Fairfax journalists produce 9,000 stories a month. Management wants that number reduced by one third, to 6,000.

Advertising revenue seems to be evaporating.

Seems I might have to buy a tablet for my breakfast reading.

See also Brian McNair at The Conversation.

4. Russia leaves Syria

A move that no-one saw coming and has everyone guessing. We don’t in fact know how real the move is. How big is the “small contingent” that will remain behind?

Neil MacFarquhar at NYT has a go at the reasons:

    First, to thwart another Western attempt to push for leadership change in Syria and to fight the very idea of outside governments forcing political shifts.

    Second, to show that Moscow is a more reliable ally than Washington…

    Third, to restore to Russia the role it had in the Soviet era as an important actor in the Middle East and as a global problem solver, and to force respect for Mr. Putin as a world leader.

    Fourth, to shatter the isolation that Washington had tried to impose on Moscow after the crisis in Ukraine, forging a dialogue with the United States and, to a lesser degree, with Europe.

    Fifth, … to distract attention from the war in Ukraine and to get lifted the economic sanctions imposed on Russia …

    Sixth, to show off the effectiveness of a new generation of weaponry from Russia, the biggest arms exporter in the world after the United States.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


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.

9 thoughts on “Saturday salon 19/3”

  1. The article you linked to about Hillary Clinton is out of date. A lot of its premises don’t really hold up now that she is actually well ahead of Sanders, particularly the stuff about her being a lousy campaigner who can’t get people on her side.

    It’s a funny article in a way because it is trying to get people to support Sanders, but obviously if Clinton gets ahead of Sanders in the primaries (as she has done), its criticisms about her being a poor campaigner and not having solid support are undermined. So it seems a little like a confidence trick.

    I agree that Trump will probably throw as much mud as he can at Clinton. But the assumption that mud will only stick to her and not to him seems to assume that either Americans are completely naive or else that more than half of them are closet Trump supporters already, in which case America is already doomed.

  2. Just on the changed Russian stance over Syria: If there is an abrupt end to the War Of The Brothers in eastern Ukraine …. be afraid, very afraid.

  3. Yes, GB, please explain!

    Val & BilB, yes I knew the article was from a while ago, but I think it identifies the vulnerability of Clinton to the Trump style campaigning, where I think he’s a bit teflon-coated, the dirt seems to slide off.

    Anyway, here’s one that thinks they are both candidates from hell.

    And it poses the question as to how many will stay home rather than vote for one of these two.

    Then there’s this one from yesterday, which goes into some detail as to why Clinton will lose to Trump.

    Inter alia, he says that Clinton has been winning mostly in the red states, which she is unlikely to win in an election.

    Also the Republicans have been coming out to vote more than the Democrats.

    Plus other stuff which is a bit spine-chilling.

    FWIW, I was hoping from the outset that Hillary would become president. It looks like a rough ride ahead.

  4. This article portrays how worried the Republicans are about Trump. Newt Gingrich for one thinks that selecting Trump would be handing the presidency to Clinton. There’s talk about changing the Convention rules.

    Here’s how the likeability problem stacks up:

    Clinton has her own likability problem – polling suggests her 41.6% of voters view her favourably, while 53.65% view her unfavourably.

    That is simply eclipsed by the unpopularity of Trump. Pollsters currently peg Trump’s overall unfavourability rating at a historic 62.4% – nearly double the share who view him favourably.

  5. John Kehoe has an article which in the print version of the AFR went under the title Plan to kill off Trump with lots of useful information about the voting systems, and especially what happens in a contested convention.

    Trump will need to win 57% of the remaining delegates. California which may decide the issue is not until June 7.

    Cruz also has negative personal ratings, with a net favourability rating of -18%, compared to Clinton on -13 and Trump on -39.

    Kasich is +19%.

  6. Everybody has been enraptured by the current improvement in US-Iran relations – and completely ignored the long-standing and mutually advantageous relations between Russia and Iran.

    An all-out war between Iran, Russia and the Assad regime in what’s left of Syria on one side and Saudi Arabia and its surrogate “Islamic State” on the other has a hell of a lot of advantages.

    The United States, for all its bluster, would have little ability to interfere (apart from a few token deployments of aircraft carriers and the launch of a few hundred cruise missiles and the launch of several thousand strident news items), especially if the Chinese decline to lend them money for their latest military adventure except at an outrageous political cost.

    Besides, the Russians probably have a better line up of potential leaders to fill any leadership vacuums than the Americans had before they deposed Saddam Hussein.

  7. The suicide rate among younger men might be slightly higher that the statistics show. Way back in ancient history, quite a few Australian veterans of the Viet-Nam War had committed suicide for no apparent reason and with little or no warning signs.

    The then national president of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia got plenty of publicity so as to get public support for the bereaved families and to prevent further suicides. One headline read “470 Veterans Commit Suicide”.

    He acted in good faith. The “body count” was known to be rather higher, at that time, than the oft-quoted 470.

    We all jumped on the national president of VVAA with size10 boots – because the last thing we wanted to see was widows who had already lost a husband and received an insurance payout for “accidental(?)” death being harassed by insurance companies becoming suspicious and re-opening settled cases. Dishonest? Of course it was. Perhaps it could even be called conspiratorial insurance fraud – but so far as we know, no cases were re-opened and no widows were thereby re-traumatized.

    The reason I mentioned this is that, in this day-and-age, there may be similar very compelling monetary or social pressures to conceal suicide as a cause of death.

    Every time I see statistics on suicide, I add my guess of 10%~20% to the figures.

    So if we can hand out truckloads of free money to the American shareholders in flying goldbrick manufacturers, surely this nation can afford to spend 1/10 000th of that on suicide prevention.

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