1. The beginning of the end for Trump?
Trump is doing a good imitation of a third world dictator, according to John Kehoe in the AFR. Here’s David Rowe’s amazing cartoon:
Trump announced on Twitter the policy to bar transgender Americans from the armed forces. Apparently that was news to the military.
Seems he’s grumpy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and wants to terminate both his position and that of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Congress Republicans are saying that if he moves on Sessions that will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.
Newly appointed Wall Street schmoozer Anthony Scaramucci, the just-named communications director, said he loves everyone, but is now openly at war with Reince Priebus, the head of trump’s office. Newly minted White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told everyone that’s the way Trump likes to run his office – people with strong ideas, who don’t mind a stoush.
Scarramucci accused Priebus of leaking, and said “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.”
So now in another tweet Reince is gone, replaced by John Kelly, the current secretary of Homeland Security and a retired marine general. We’ll have to wait and see whether General Kelly can stabilise the chaos. Commentators have noted that the changes move the Trump administration further away from the Republican Party.
Meanwhile the legislation to kill Obamacare has just been voted down, and the US dollar has sunk to where it was before Trump was elected, as the markets realise that Trump, at best, probably won’t do anything at all to stimulate the economy. Our dollar is up as a result, making life harder for our exporters.
Meanwhile also, legislation was passed to increase sanctions on the Russians. Putin says, that’s it I’ve had enough, whether Trump signs the bill or not. He had held off responding to Obama kicking out some Russian diplomats to punish the Russians for meddling in the US election. Putin waited to see what approach Trump would take, but now he’s had enough, promising that there could be more to come.
2. How to pick a psychopath
I’ll do a longer post on this if I get time, but Richard Fidler’s conversation with David Gillespie is gold. Forget the term ’empathy’ for a moment. Psychopaths do have emotions of their own and can read other people’s emotions.. However, they completely lack sympathy and compassion. They simply are incapable of caring about others who come to harm. It is all about their own advantage and enjoyment.
Gillespie defines psychopathy in terms of brain connections, hence an objective definition, independent of how people use the term. Psychopathy is not recognised as a disorder in psychiatry, yet they tend to rise to the top in organisations and do untold harm to others.
As a society we should be thinking about how we can protect ourselves from psychopaths, which would be difficult, given the bias towards individual rights.
Trump is his favourite example, and I think Scaramucci looks like he fits the bill also.
3. Sperm count halved in Western men
- By screening 7,500 studies and conducting a meta-regression analysis on 185 of them between 1973 and 2011, the researchers found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count, among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who were not selected based on their fertility status.
The decline is proceeding apace and is showing no signs of slowing down. To be precise, the team found that sperm concentration fell from 99 million per ml in 1973 to 47.1 million per ml in 2011. It only takes one to win the prize, but I heard on the ABC that 40 million is the threshold for fertility problems.
- While the current study did not examine causes of the observed declines, sperm count has previously been plausibly associated with environmental and lifestyle influences, including prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress, and obesity.
Not everyone is entirely convinced, so of course more research is needed.
4. UNHCR says the Turnbull Government misled it about taking asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru
From the ABC 7.30 Report:
- Of the 2,000 asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, 1,600 have been found to be refugees. So even if the US fulfilled its promise and took 1,250 of them, there would be 400 would still need resettling.
The UNHCR says there was:
- A clear understanding that vulnerable refugees with close family ties in Australia would ultimately be allowed to settle there.
Leigh Sales interviewed Volker Turk, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection, who was personally involved in negotiation. He said that they Australian Government had undertaken to consider “compelling cases”. For anyone serious about refugees that means you would take them. Seems the Australian Government always intended to consider the cases and then say “no”, which it has now done for 36 compelling cases identified.
In other words, the UNHCR were suckered.
5. Labor steals Di Natale’s lunch
Newspoll last Monday had Labor ahead 53-47 TPP for the fifth time in a row. However, both the LNP and Labor have moved up one to 37% and 36% respectively, while the Greens have fallen back from 10 to 9, and One Nation has slipped from, 11 to 9.
However, they’ve been doing some quarterly analysis, which finds that Labor’s support in the 18-34 aged bracket has gone from 37.5 in the March 2016 quarter to 39.5 in the 2017 June quarter. At the same time support for the Greens has slipped from 17.5 to 14. So the story was Labor steals Di Natale’s lunch.
Other than that the overall story was the Labor was doing better than the LNP at maintaining its vote, and pulling back a few that have strayed.
Essential Report has the LNP pegging back the ALP from 54-46 to 53-47. However they have had the Greens steady on 10 for a while and ON steady on 7. So for mine it’s anyone’s guess. There’s not much changing right now.
Doesn’t sound like panic, though there will be panic if the Greek tragedy befalls Julia Banks, the member for Chisolm, if she turns out to have more than just Greek heritage.
The latest is they reckon she’s OK, and the focus moves to Labor’s Susan Lamb, member for Longman, who has a Scottish father, which automatically gives her the right to be a citizen of the UK.