Saturday salon 16/7

1. Bastille Day

The 14 of July commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, which is considered the flashpoint for the French Revolution.

It was the mother of many things, including the principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité, the concept of human rights, the notion that everyone was born equal, and the secular state.

To the French it is their national day, but it has universal significance. Here is an 1790 etching done by Charles Thévenin depicts the storming of the Bastille now in the British Museum:


2. Nice attack

During fireworks celebrations for Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice a lorry ploughed through a crowd killing on latest reports 84 people. Here’s the BBC’s full story.

It looks like Islamic terrorism, but so far no responsibility has been claimed. The ID found in the lorry was that of a 31-year-old man of dual Tunisian and French citizenship, known to police, but not previously linked to jihadist groups. This morning we heard on the radio that he was the father of three, with a job as delivery driver, separated from his wife and a history of mental problems.

We don’t know the motivation of the attack, but the symbolism is inescapable and we know that France is more active than any other country in confronting jihadist groups around the world. Prof Mark Beeson wonders whether it will be possible to lead a decent life, free from the anxiety of being blown up. There’s more at The Conversation.

CBS carried responses from Hillary Clinton and Donald trump. Clinton’s was certainly more nuanced than Trump’s.

3. Bangladesh attacks

Beeson says he knows that there are attacks elsewhere killing more people. The point is attacks are happening in lots of places. About two weeks ago 22 people were killed in a Dhaka cafe in the diplomatic enclave. Those killed were from around the globe: Italian, Japanese, Indian, Bangladeshi and an American.

As ABC’s James Bennett reports, Bangladeshis were gobsmacked to learn that the attackers were sons of middle and upper class families — university students — radicalised online.

As CNN says:

    “They were normal, regular guys who hung out at cafes, played sports, had Facebook pages.”

Some think that ISIS is turning its attention to becoming a terrorist organisation because it is losing territory on the ground, others think that the attacks on Turkey show that ISIS itself has been infiltrated.

4. Killing continues in the USA

Meanwhile in the USA, Obama, arguably the most powerful man in the world, is basically begging his citizens to stop killing each other, and not see it as “us versus them” after consistent police killings, especially of black people, roughly one a day. Generally speaking the homicide rate has improved over time, we are told, but is still multiples higher than other industrialised countries. The state is supposed to have a monopoly on violence, that is a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force. One might argue that in the United States a state monopoly on violence was never achieved, and because a politically effective gun lobby, advances in weapons technology, and the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, never will. The Second Amendment reads:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

They still need to ponder what they might do about it, and why their homicide rate is more than double that of Canada’s.

5. Here in Oz

Meanwhile here in Oz, apart from elections and State of Origin referees, the latest crime against humanity is that access to the river boardwalk at Teneriffe has been blocked off by the tenants of the Mactaggart Apartment building.


Last Saturday people:

    had come to enjoy the annual Teneriffe Festival, a relaxed carnival of food, drink and music celebrated last Saturday on a perfect, blue-sky Brisbane winter’s day.

    What they found when they attempted to walk from the food stalls and marquees lining Vernon Terrace and stroll along the riverfront was a fence and a padlocked gate.

That’s definitely un-Australian, if not a crime against humanity!

6. And to our north

Prior to the Nice attacks, the story of the week would have been the the ruling by the international tribunal on the China-Philippines dispute on claims to the South China Sea. Legally the Philippines victory was almost complete. The question is what happens now, and what kind of superpower will China turn out to be?

This map charts the general area:

China_ Philippines_20140707134716-profile-1-source-bbc

This map shows some of the claims by surrounding countries:


China claims that such disputes should be settled by direct negotiations rather than international tribunals, and claims that 70 countries have publicly voiced support for their position. Those supporting the Philippines are limited to a handful, such as The USA, the UK, Japan, Vietnam and Australia. Those staying stumm include Canada and most of the Americas, most of Europe, New Zealand and Indonesia.

Several European countries, such as Greece and Cypress have been made an offer by China they can’t refuse. Poland and several other eastern European countries support China, taking the EU out of play.

China has announced that it intends to build nuclear power stations on the Spratly Islands, so they will play it tough.

It remains to be seen what happens when Filipino fishermen have another go.

The US will assert it rights, and presumably no-one will go to war.

Arguably it was a hollow victory.

Australia, meanwhile, by supporting the judgement has conceded that it will have to respect any decision on Timor Leste, which, according to the same principles will not go Australia’s way.

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.

51 thoughts on “Saturday salon 16/7”

  1. A male is 20 times more likely to be killed by Police in the US than a female.

  2. A male is 20 times more likely to be killed by Police in the US than a female.

    Must make being a black or latino male particularly dangerous.

  3. International law expert Prof Don Rothwell does a legal explainer of the South China Sea issue.

    At risk of oversimplification, creating artificial islands does not generate an economic exclusion zone. An artificial island is not considered an island.

    However, as I understand it, the tribunal does not rule on territorial disputes as such.

  4. We don’t know the motivation of the attack,……

    If he was shouting ” Allahu Akbar ” as reported, that could be a clue.

  5. If he was shouting ” Allahu Akbar ” as reported, that could be a clue.

    Yes, I’d thought of that, but it doesn’t prove he had collaborators, or that he was linked to ISIS.

    OTOH if his lorry was full of bombs and weapons and/or if he had had grenades on the front seat, as was suggested, it’s more of a clue.

  6. Yes, I’d thought of that, but it doesn’t prove he had collaborators, or that he was linked to ISIS.

    He may or may not have gotten his motivation from an organisation ( or church ) but shouting allahu akbar indicates motivation by only one religion that I can think of.

  7. According to this:

    Locals from the area of Nice where Lahouaiej-Bouhlel lived said he did not seem religious and did not go to the mosque.

    So he may not have been shouting allahu akbar.
    On the other hand, he may have been singing the Libyan national anthem.

  8. zoot, that link also says:

    there were two Kalashnikov rifles, bullets and a grenade in the cab of truck, where the driver was shot dead by police.

    That sounds like a lone nutter rather than a terrorist job. Early reports had the whole truck full of bombs and weapons, but that seems unlikely now.

  9. That sounds like a lone nutter rather than a terrorist job

    Yeah sure.
    Obviously the Nice Traffic Branch will sort this one.

  10. A back filled with grenades etc that were not used sounds like a plan that went wrong. Driver didn’t find associates or a driver that lost his way and decided to run down the crowd?
    Anyway it has shown nutters and terrorists a way of doing a lot of damage without any special equipment.

  11. Brian, I can be persuaded otherwise, but for the time being he certainly looks more like a violent nutter than a jihadi.
    Jumpy, why would the Nice Traffic Branch handle a case involving multiple murders? Don’t they have detectives in France?

  12. This ABC story cites the president of the Nice region as saying the truck was loaded with weapons and grenades.

    This BBC account of what happened makes no mention of anything in the truck.

    I incline to the BBC version. A truck full of stuff that didn’t go boom makes no sense, unless, as John says, it was a fail.

    Jumpy, it may have initially been a traffic issue, because I understand the area was cordoned off from traffic. In any case it seems the truck took off after the cops started shooting. From the German journalist on the hotel balcony:

    “He was driving really slowly, that’s what was astonishing,” said Richard Gutjahr, who described seeing the lorry being tailed by a motorcyclist. “The motorcyclist tried to overtake him and even tried opening the lorry driver’s door,” he told AFP news agency. At that point the motorcyclist fell under the wheels of the lorry.

    When two police officers opened fire on the lorry, the driver accelerated and careered at full speed towards the crowd.

    He’d been seen half an hour earlier a couple of streets away, braking and taking off quickly. Looks to me as though he may have been practicing.

  13. Brian, I can be persuaded otherwise, but for the time being he certainly looks more like a violent nutter than a jihadi.

    What, other than screaming ” allua akbar ” while imitating methods use and encouraged by islamist terrorists do you need ?
    An califate union card ?
    A Copy of IS operational manual signed by Uncle Mo ?
    What ?

    Monis, what about him ?

  14. Jumpy, you seem to have immense problems with plain English.
    I can be persuaded this is Islamic terrorism:
    IF he was screaming “allua akbar”, and IF somebody reliable (preferably a lot of reliable people) heard it over the gunfire and IF the police investigation links him to Islamic radicals.
    Until then my working hypothesis is he was a nutter.
    I’m really, really sorry, (honestly) but your paranoia does not convince me.
    Monis? He was a poor deluded nutter.

  15. Tonight on the teev they said that IS claimed responsibility. What took them so long? I suspect they are cashing in.

    There were also people living in the same apartment block who said he was very strange.

    Still an open question for me.

  16. Yes, yes, all these lone wolf nutters screaming allua akbar with no idea of their motive, not a clue.

    Prey tell what has association or others got to do with motive ?

  17. Jumpy, I don’t think when he yelled God is great, or the greatest, that he necessarily means it any more than you mean God is good when you say “Good God!”

  18. ” Good God ” is what people say after an horrific murderous rampage, not said by the person committing it during.

    What else is in the denial playlist, he played violent Israeli video games, too much Monsanto sugar, French gun culture, Murdoch vaccines ?

  19. We don’t know how Tunisian migrants use the language in Nice.

    That said, on NewsRadio this morning, the authorities are saying that he must have been radicalised quickly. His background shows him “not very religious” and with mental health problems. It seems he had lost his job.

    It’s too early to say whether he had any connections with ISIS although he apparently claimed allegiance to them.

    Five people have been arrested, or at least taken in for questioning – not sure how the French legal system works, except that it is inquisitorial, with investigations run by a magistrate.

  20. Elsewhere there has been a failed military coup in Turkey by a section of the army not connected to the secular opposition.

    The latest I heard some 250 have been killed.

    President Erdogan using his mobile called not people to come out onto the streets to defeat the coup. Many did, but we don’t know how many stayed home.

    There will be purges of the army, and the judiciary, for some reason, which most say will boost the current authoritarian trend.

  21. What with the feeble status quo results from our election (when we need major social change) and the horrors going on in the world, I’m feeling a bit depressed.

    Jumpy – in reference to your first comment here, as I am sure you know, the issue is that most homicide is perpetrated by men.

    “Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, there were 538 male offenders (88%), 71 female offenders and two offenders for whom sex was not recorded (12%; see Table C3). This is consistent with historical trends that have seen males comprise more than 80 percent of all known homicide offenders. Males comprised the highest annual proportion recorded in 2008–09 (91%) and the lowest in 2006–07 (82%).”

    From ‘Homicide in Australia’ at

    In this context I find your comment offensive and belittling to women.
    I hope you and Brian take note.

  22. Val, I’ve long understood that most homicide is perpetrated by men. They are also the most likely to be victims, aren’t they?

    I didn’t have the detail and there is a limit to which I can go chasing issues raised in comments threads, and find time to produce the next post.

    I’m grateful for you contributing factual information, so thankyou.

  23. Val

    Jumpy – in reference to your first comment here…..In this context I find your comment offensive and belittling to women.
    I hope you and Brian take note.

    My first comment was on ” killed by Police in the US ” and factual. Your response had nothing at all to do with that.
    Perhaps try reading it again, in context.

    JULY 16, 2016 AT 10:58 AM
    A male is 20 times more likely to be killed by Police in the US than a female.

    Then an apology the Brian and myself is in order..

  24. In the post I highlighted police killings, especially of black people, and the general homicide rate, intentionally not going into more detail, which because of space would have had to be selective.

    Val has asked me to note information about the gender balance of homicide perpetrators, which I have. I don’t perceive that I’m being accused of being offensive. Certainly I don’t see that I’m owed an apology.

  25. Brian, help me out here, how could my comment be ” offensive and belittling to women.” ?
    I truly don’t know.

  26. It is the #malelivesmatter tag that is offensive, and I have only asked Brian to note it because I think Brian should be aware that Jumpy’s remarks are sometimes sexist.

    By using that tag, which is like #blacklivesmatter, Jumpy is making a false equivalence that men have been historically discriminated against in the same way as black people or women, and suggesting that concern about violence against black people or women is actually a form of discrimination against white men.

    There is no doubt that patriarchy is damaging to men as well as women, and this is shown in the facts (undisputed) that men are more likely than women to be victims of homicide as well as perpetrators, because in patriarchal society, violence is associated with masculinity. But feminists have always acknowledged that. It doesn’t mean violence against women or black people should be ignored or treated like some kind of competition.

  27. I should add that Jumpy’s #malelivesmatter tag is also disrespectful to black people (or people of colour) because the #blacklivesmatter tag was started in the USA because of a perception that black people (people of both sexes) were disproportionately likely to be shot or killed in other ways by police and it was not being acknowledged or taken seriously enough. For Jumpy to appropriate it to use in some ‘battle of the sexes’ that he seems to be conducting is also disrespectful to black people, as well as to the many women here and in the USA who have been killed by their intimate partners.

  28. Jumpy, the comment was:

    A male is 20 times more likely to be killed by Police in the US than a female.

    I was uncomfortable about highlighting that fact in a decontextualised way, and especially the hash tag, as it could be interpreted as promoting the men’s rights cause and implying that women’s rights don’t matter.

    If you Google the hash tag you get a Twitter feed, a Facebook and this article about Mike Huckabee.

    It quickly descends into a very unedifying and unproductive interchange, IMO.

    As it happens, the other night I heard a half hour BBC program that was mainly about how black men experience policing in the US. Interviews included a man from the Bahamas, and the travel advice their government gives them, and a black man who went to live in New York. One night he broke the rule ‘never run’ and was immediately hauled in by coppers. He relates how he picked out the one he thought most likely to hit him and was particularly polite to him.

    Bruce Schapiro talking to Phillip Adams said the one who was killed by a cop asking for his drivers licence clearly had discussed the possibility with his partner, which was why she filmed the incident.

    But in the end all lives matter, and the US has particular problems that never seem to get fixed.

    Val may have more to say.

  29. Val, I see you have commented.

    I recall years ago my daughter telling my son that he was more likely to get killed by going places she’d never go at night, like walking through an unlit park.

  30. This is bizzare, fair dinkum.
    Saying Male Lives Matter, and they bloody well do, is an insult to black people and women ?
    Geez Louise people!!

  31. Jumpy, it’s not about whether male lives matter, it’s about following the hash tag to where you have to leave your brains behind.

  32. Brian
    I don’t have twitter or Facebook.
    And luckily I couldn’t care less that folks want me to leave my brain any place or to conform to some self inflicted outrage of their own concoction.
    What I said was a fact, deal with it any way you want.
    That goes for Val too.

  33. i think we’ve explained it enough Jumpy, if you wanted to understand you could.

    Anyway, back to other things, does anyone else have the post election blues? I really thought we were going to see a shake up, but it looks like more of the same old climate change denial and soak the poor from the LNP so far.

  34. Sorry Brian just realised talking about the election is a bit off topic in this thread.

    Rebyour extra comments above on Turkey – One of my sons-in-law has family there and he is worried about how this will play out – he definitely expects more crackdowns and authoritarianism by Erdogan

  35. Jumpy, you don’t have to ‘have’ Fb and twitter. If you Google the hash tag you’ll find Twitter and Facebook where you can waste time with people shouting past each other.

    Val, I’ve turned my feelings off. We’ve taken a wrong turn and are heading for a dark place.

  36. Val, nothing’s off topic on this thread, well, almost.

    On Turkey, I haven’t seen a good link yet, but Erdogan seems to be taking the opportunity to settle scores and ‘cleanse’ the place.

  37. Returning to our discussion of Nice at the beginning of this thread, this article and this article contain no report of the driver in Nice shouting anything at all. Does Jumpy have a link to his witness who claimed the driver shouted “allua akbar”?
    A quote from the second article:

    Contrary to initial reports from Nice municipal officials that the truck was full of weapons and explosives, its cargo hold contained a bicycle and eight empty pallets, or stacking platforms. In the cab, police found an automatic 7.65-millimeter pistol, two fake assault rifles, a nonfunctioning grenade, and a cellphone and unspecified documents.

    I can still be persuaded otherwise, but he’s looking more and more like a nutter to me.

  38. I don’t think it has to be an either/or Zoot. There seem to be various deranged individuals who basically want to commit murder-suicide on a large scale (or some of them like Man Monis want the world to listen to their grievances) and they invoke the name of ISIS/Islam or similar because they feel it gives credence to their cause or makes them feel united with a bigger cause. ISIS is then happy to claim credit even though there may be only a tenuous connection, it seems. Don’t they have a policy of encouraging ‘lone wolves’?

  39. Police have now released his former wife and video surveillance reveals that he did a practice run in the truck a few days earlier. It looks very much like a planned event.

    Police are yet to establish that there was a link with ISIS.

    There were more reports that he wasn’t overtly religious, didn’t visit the mosque etc.

    Definitely a nutter, I think, and probably not quite lone wolf, but probably not assisted by ISIS operatives as such. I’m happy to wait for what they find.

    However, Val is right about encouraging lone wolves, and John D is right above about this incident showing nutters and terrorists a way of doing a lot of damage without any special equipment.

  40. Jumpy, thanks for that link, but I don’t think it’s the last word on the issue. On Radio National’s PM tonight we heard that Nice is indeed a place where there are radical Islam networks and a place where fighters in Syria are recruited, but a local university academic says that:

    today in Nice, there are around 15 and 20 informal places of worship, meaning not official. And those sites being informal and unofficial, they circulate messages which we do not control, and which are for the most part, fundamentalist and radical messages.

    Seems he may have been going there rather than to the local mosque.

    The link to ISIL still looks tenuous, and was perhaps to:

    “people who knew Omar Diaby”, an Islamist believed to be linked with the Al Nusra group, which is close to Al Qaeda.

    FWIW the UK Tele says:

    “That could just be a coincidence, given the neighbourhood where he lived. Everyone knows everyone there.”

    It does seem possible that ISIS is breaking new ground by claiming someone they didn’t in fact set up.

    But psychologically he was definitely damaged, with a treating psychiatrist describing his behaviour as “psychotic” and was clearly prone to violence.

    Whichever way it’s all bad news, but there is no evidence he was radicalised by mainstream Muslim practice in Nice.

  41. Back – after a computer failure and a tumble down a flight of stairs. No, not at the same time 🙂

    South China Sea: Our all-knowing news media seems to be ignoring the centuries-old Vietnamese and Malaysian claims to some of these reefs and fishing grounds. Since a leopard cannot change its spots, I expect the Australian business mob to be more assertive than the Chinese themselves in promoting Chinese claims to the whole lot.

    The Nice Atrocity: Well, at least they are consistent. Never attack an armed group when there are crowds of innocent civilians enjoying themselves to slaughter. Saladin must be turning in his grave.

    Race War in the dis-United States seems inevitable (and entirely preventable). If that does happen, how do we get on? Uncle Sam’s nuclear umbrella will be about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. Looks as though we are in dire need of an innovative approach to our own defence – and fast too.

  42. Sorry about the double prang, Graham.

    Perceptive comments. Overall it’s a troubled world.

    I’ve just been reading The New Century, Eric Hobsbawm in conversation with Antonio Polito. A wise old guy. That was in 1999. In the end he was pessimistic about the future. Greed seems to be winning out.

  43. Another day, another murderous rampage.

    Children killed again.

    I wish the media would stop taking the attackers’ standpoint by referring to us as “soft targets”. Yes, we are easy to kill. As are our children and grandchildren.

    Once my nightmare was the general catastrophe of full-scale nuclear war. Now I see that horror and waste can be much more local, personally vicious; still random and senseless.

    Not to assuage feelings or intellects, but Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” comes to mind. A bitter reflection on one of our human enthusiasms: battle. Even he, could not publish it during his lifetime. Every one of us has limited bravery.

    Mein Bruder wohnt bei Muenchen. He and his family are safe.
    My brother lives near Munich.

    All the best to you all.

  44. Glad your relatives are safe, Ambigulous.

    So far nine people dead, plus a lone gunman who killed himself.

    He’s an 18-year-old German-Iranian national, who had been living in Munich for some time. Police are emphasising, “the motive or explanation for this crime is completely unclear”.

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