Saturday salon 7/10

1. Xenophon quits

You see him here, you see him there…

Xenophon is to quit the Senate and run in the SA state elections in the Liberal held seat of Hartley. He says that SA state politics is ‘broken’ and ‘politically bankrupt’:

    Senator Xenophon has described the state of South Australian politics as “a triumph of low expectations”.

    “Just keeping the lights on over the next summer will be presented by the Government as a major achievement to be lauded and applauded. It’s embarrassing,” he said.

Is SA the canary in the coal mine?

    Nick Xenophon’s return to SA politics signals what may become a populist revolt in the state — and what happens in SA has a way of happening to the rest of the country eventually.

The pundits seem to think he’ll win 8 to 12 seats in a 47-seat assembly, which would give him the balance of power. He entered politics in the upper house in SA in 1997 on a “no pokies” anti-gambling ticket, but has spread his wings.

Canberra will miss him. Turnbull could pretty much rely on him to do a deal in return for some boondogling. That’s what I appreciate about the Greens. They don’t so cross-deals. However, it looks like being Xenophon’s style in SA as he says he and his colleagues will not take ministries. Just do boondogles and take credit for all the good stuff that happens.

2. Las Vegas shooting tragedy

Police have described Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock as ‘disturbed and dangerous’ on the basis of what he did – killed at leat 58 and wounded over 500 in a nine-minute burst – and the fact that he spent decades acquiring an astonishing armoury of weapons. Plus the event was meticulously planned.

Yet no-one else has described him as disturbed. His brother Eric:

    said the alleged gunman had worked as an accountant and had “plenty of money”.

    “He was a wealthy guy playing video poker … going on cruises,” he said, adding that his brother could afford anything he wanted.

    Eric Paddock said his brother owned apartments and houses.

    He said he last communicated with his brother via text message more than a week ago when Stephen Paddock asked about their mother who’d lost power during Hurricane Irma.

I heard Eric Paddock say that if the autopsy didn’t find a brain tumour or something, then “we were in a lot of trouble”. He was saying that if his brother can do such a thing, then anyone can.

An academic who had studied mass American killings said that if these murderers did not get media publicity she thought there would be far fewer. Not sure exactly what she was suggesting.

This time even the NRA are calling for the bump stock devices which convert a semi-automatic into an automatic to be better regulated.

There does seem to be a move from Connecticut, where in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members were fatally shot.

None of this looks like being half enough, but we live in hope.

3. Rex Tillerson refuses to deny he called Donald Trump a ‘moron’

Tillerson definitely called Trump a “moron”, and it was in the context of talking to the national security team and Cabinet officials. In at least one version, which I’m inclined to believe, he called him a “f*****g moron”, because, well, he is.

He went to Puerto Rico to lift their morale, and started by telling them it wasn’t a ‘real’ catastrophe because the death count was only 16 certified dead.

That was only the beginning. He complimented them on their great weather, when a hurricane had just flattened the place and seemed annoyed that paying for it had put his budget out.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with the word “nasty” in a TV interview, because Trump had referred to her a the “nasty mayor”.

Thing is, this ‘moron’ has his finger on the nuclear trigger, and Hillary Clinton was right when she said we should worry. The New Scientist has an article which talks about the state of play in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Some nuclear powers just want to communicate to potential attackers that they should be left alone. The US has always wanted a pre-emptive strike capability, and now we have a president again who wants others to think he would use it. The article says that the chances of an accidental Armageddon are actually increasing for technical and protocol reasons.

Back in 1995 Russian submarines came within 5 minutes of launching nuclear missiles after Moscow feared a Norwegian research satellite was an incoming Trident missile. The generals said “go”, but Boris Yeltsin said “no” because he did not think Bill Clinton would do such a thing.

Barack Obama repeatedly said he wanted to talk about this stuff, but the Chinese and Russians refused. No chance now. Here’s how many weapons are around:

There will always be more than enough moving around in submarines, and that’s where “Rocket Man” is heading too.

4. Briefly

In other news, the Rohingya refugee situation just seems to get worse, with a report on the ABC that the refugees were shot at as they fled and had to run the gamut of land mines. Their homes and villages are being torched, and now it seems the state is going to reclaim their property.

The UN has been denied access to Rakhine state, which they have slammed as “unacceptable”.

The Rohingya were not counted in the last census, so as well as being homeless and stateless, they are non-persons, to be eliminated or expelled like vermin.

Closer to home, our government is moving to establish a national facial recognition database service, making it easier for the country’s law enforcement agencies to identify people in real time. The ABC looks at how it works and where it’s being used already.

Not sure about this. Could be handy if your passport, your driver’s licence or all your credit cards are stolen. As with the ‘internet of things’, it is no doubt hackable. You may have a smart system to open your front door, but then someone may lock you in or out and demand a ransom.

Short of wearing a burka, I understand that large black sunglasses will throw the thing into confusion.

Finally, a Parliamentary report slamming the NBN rollout was released yesterday week ago on a Friday – taking out the trash when no-one was looking.

    The Labor and crossbench-stacked committee’s recommendations were not accepted by the minority cohort of government MPs.

    The committee’s chair, Liberal MP Sussan Ley, issued a dissenting report signed by five government MPs. It was not signed by Nationals MP Andrew Broad.

3 thoughts on “Saturday salon 7/10”

  1. In the light of item 3., the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to an international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons is apt.

    Can also recommend the work of SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists very good, still.

  2. “what happens in SA has a way of happening in the rest of the country eventually….”

    Oh, I dunno.

    Haven’t seen any other male Premier wearing pink shorts into State Parliament, yet.

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