1. Bastille Day
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
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.
“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:
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.