Increased Weaponry Obtained by Islamists
My commentaries over the past 20 years on the threat from Islamic extremist groups have consistently drawn attention to the fact that, unless such groups are stopped, they will sooner or later obtain weapons capable of mass destruction in western countries. Yet leaders of western countries have said little publicly about this potential and why it should form a major component of defence and associated policies.
Perhaps the address by Foreign Minister Bishop reported as a front page lead in the Weekend Australian indicates that this threat is now going to be more widely recognised publicly (see report below Islamic State bid for chemical weapons). Note in particular her comment that “The use of chlorine by Da’ish, and its recruitment of highly technically trained professionals, including from the West, have revealed far more serious efforts in chemical weapons development … The rise of global terror groups like Da’ish is one of the gravest security threats we face.” The Defence Editor’s comment is that they “might try to buy a nuclear bomb but it would be more likely in the short term to use radioactive materials captured from facilities in Iraq and Syria to create ‘dirty bombs’ nuclear waste wrapped around conventional explosives”.
Americans Don’t Like Obama’s Handling of ISIS
A survey which is taken by CNN shows that about 62% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of ISIS, slightly higher than in September last year. A rumour going around is that IS will attempt a big event on 29 June, the first anniversary of its founding.
The timing of Bishop’s address may be related to the attempt by the government to obtain support for Abbott’s proposal that the Minister for Immigration (Dutton) be given authority to remove the citizenship of any Australian judged by the Minister (based on intelligence advice) to be actively supporting Islamic extremism. Following a dispute in Cabinet, the initial proposal to have this apply to any Australian has now been limited only to those who have dual citizenships. Whether in Cabinet or outside, those opposing the application to any Australian argue that the decision should be made by a court. However, while there is a division of powers argument here, if the present Parliament (where the Coalition does not have a majority in the Senate) passes legislation giving authority to the Minister that would not appear to be undemocratic (as the aggressive head of the Human Rights Commission appears to think). It would also eliminate the risk of “strictly legal” decisions by courts, which have already shown an incapacity to assess those who could be a terrorist risk (the justification for the obviously wrong decision to grant bail to Man Haron Monis on more than one occasion before the siege is still to be considered by the inquest on the two deaths). Indeed, there is a strong case for reviewing the basis of bail and other court decisions that should apply in regard to those who have been involved in terrorist activity of one kind or another.
As might be expected, even though over 40 Coalition backbenchers signed a letter supporting the initial proposal by Abbott and Dutton, the leak of the cabinet discussion revealing a dispute has created a political problem for Abbott in regard to the operation of Cabinet. Political editor Shanahan argues, however, that Abbott has benefited from the wrangling (See below Despite leaks, citizenship wrangle a fillip for fragile Abbott).
Temperatures Wrong (Official)
The closer we get to the Paris Meeting of the IPCC the greater must be the scepticism about the accuracy of official data on temperatures and their interpretation. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration agency in the US has had an article published in Science which contains a “re-analysis” of thousands of temperature observations taken from oceans and which concludes that temperatures had not stopped rising in recent years. It will be interesting to see how comments on this analysis develop.
Meantime you have the opportunity to attend an opera in Milan centred on the problem faced by the world from greenhouse gases. The opera, which has just concluded its run of three weeks at La Scala, was inspired by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.This is the first time in the history of opera that a climate scientist is featured as the main character. So, sing along ….
“The Earth is sick!
Gaia, the Earth is sick!
From the fever of poisoned air,
From the effect of greenhouse gases;
She suffers from “desertification”,
As if her vegetable skin has dried up; She is sick From the gradual increase of the cities, Spreading like a cancer,
And the spiralling density of her populations!