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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What the Daryl Maguire saga tells us about politics

By state political editor Brigid Glanville

There are several reasons Australians hate politicians.
They can't stand it when pollies put political wins ahead of the best interests of the voter, or politicians who blatantly lie.
They also hate politicians who use their position for financial or personal gain, and that's where the NSW Liberal member for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire comes in.
It was last week revealed in a corruption inquiry that Mr Maguire sought payment of a "dividend" over a property deal.
Despite mounting pressure to resign from the Parliament, he yesterday revealed plans to stick it out until the NSW election in March, 2019.

For that decision, one senior Government minister described Mr Maguire as "just a stubborn prick".

The MP appeared before the corruption watchdog during an investigation into improper conduct by former Canterbury City councillors Michael Hawatt and Pierre Azzi.
He told ICAC he pursued Mr Hawatt on behalf of Chinese "friends" with "mega money" from the company Country Garden, who he was trying to help get established in Australia.
In a tapped phone call from May 2016 between Mr Maguire and Mr Hawatt, Mr Maguire said his Chinese friends wanted to invest in as many as 30 development-approved properties.
Mr Hawatt suggested a $48 million project on Canterbury Road in Canterbury.
Mr Maguire asked Mr Hawatt what his margin was on the property.
Mr Hawatt replied that his margin was 1.5 per cent.
"1.5 per cent divided by two isn't very good," Mr Maguire said.
"Three per cent is a lot better, if you know what I'm talking about.

Shortly after the inquiry, the member for Wagga Wagga apologised "unreservedly for causing distress and embarrassment" to the Liberal Party and resigned from his position to sit on the crossbench.
The Premier has asked him to "think carefully" about his future, but Daryl Maguire has said he will not resign from Parliament.
He is not going to recontest his seat at the March 2019 election, saying: "I won't put the cost to the taxpayer of having a byelection."
That means for the next nine months Mr Maguire will continue to receive his $165,000 yearly backbencher's salary.
The backlash in Mr Maguire's own Wagga Wagga electorate has been swift and now visible, with signs beginning to pop up demanding he quit.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said: "I urge him to listen very closely to what the people of Wagga are saying, because they're saying to him very clearly: go."
How he could go
The only way to force Mr Maguire to resign is to vote to expel him from Parliament, but that standing order hasn't been used since 1917 and it's normally reserved for convictions of a criminal nature.
If the party or the Opposition did use this order, it would be an extraordinary thing to remove a member put there by the voting public.
But as one Government minister said: "Does this guy have no f***ing moral compass?"
"He's doing damage to the Liberal Party, damage to the Government and damage to politicians in general."

There has been criticism of the Government for not taking a firmer stance against Mr Maguire and trying to force him to quit.
Some Nationals members believe it's because the Government doesn't want a by-election in the seat of Wagga as the Liberals will lose it to the Nationals.
"All matters and debates of Parliament are a matter for the Nats Party room," Acting Premier John Barilaro said.
"As leader I don't discuss nor pre-empt party room discussions."
Parliament resumes from the winter break in three weeks' time.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Donald Trump’s threat to pull out of Nato

NATO heads of State pose for a family picture during the opening ceremony of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, 11 July 2018

Donald Trump came close to suggesting the US might unilaterally withdraw from Nato if other member states failed to dramatically increase their spending on the military bloc.

He caused chaos on Thursday by saying the US would “go it alone” if European states failed to boost their spending to at least 2% of GDP by January.

And the threat worked… 

But at an emergency press conference later, Trump appeared to change his mind, claiming Nato members had agreed to commit an extra $33bn (£25bn). He said it had been “a little tough for a little while” -  he told the Europeans he would be “very unhappy” if they did not up their spending “substantially”.

But he said a “tremendous amount of progress” had been made.   Nato was now “much stronger” he added, with spending “rocketing” upwards.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Melania meets Chelsea Pensioner

First Lady Melania Trump high-fives with a British military veteran known as a "Chelsea Pensioner" during a game of bowls at The Royal Hospital Chelsea in central London Friday, July 13, 2018

Winston Churchill's chair

While meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump sits in Churchill’s chair

Donating blood in Australia

If you visited the UK during this time frame, you are unable to donate blood in Australia.
From 1986 — 98, the UK saw an epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a neurodegenerative disease in cattle likely caused by unsafe feeding practices. By ’96 the disease appeared to have crossed to humans, as scientists identified the first case of vCJD and strongly linked it to BSE. The human form was fatal and incurable: as of May 2015, it had killed at least 228 people, including 177 in the UK and 27 in France. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Elon Musk’s offer to help rescued boys trapped in Thai cave rejected as ‘not practical’

 Elon Musk


THE authorities dismissed the “tiny, kid-sized sub” the Tesla chief built to help save the trapped boys. But Musk has fired back.

TECH billionaire Elon Musk may have helped keep the lights on in Adelaide with super-sized batteries and his Hyperloop train could slash travel times, but the Thai Government gave him short shrift on his 11th-hour plan to rescue the stranded boys.

On Tuesday, mission commander and former Chiang Rai province governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said the rescue squad would not need the mini-submarine created by the Tesla co-founder and CEO as it was “not practical”.
Musk had been tweeting up a storm about the benefits of the “tiny, kid-sized submarine” he’d been furiously testing in a Los Angeles swimming pool.

On Tuesday, he said he had just returned from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex where 12 Thai boys and their coach were trapped, after delivering the rescue device.

“Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts and named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team,” he wrote.

But the head of the rescue mission dismissed the option in favour of sticking with the plan for experienced cave divers to help the boys swim out.

“Although his technology is good and sophisticated it’s not practical for this mission,” Mr Narongsak said.

Musk fired back at this claim, saying the former provincial governor was “not the subject matter expert” and sharing his correspondence with leader of the dive rescue team Richard Stanton.

“Right now, I have one of the world’s best engineering teams who normally design spaceships and spacesuits working on this thing 24 hours a day,” Musk’s email to Stanton dated July 8 read. “If it isn’t needed, that would be great to know.”

Stanton replied: “It is absolutely worth continuing with the development of this system in as timely a manner as feasible. If the rain holds out it may well be used.”

The tech entrepreneur said parts were being assembled for underwater testing before being put on a plane. He said the operating principle was the “same as spacecraft design — no loss of life even with two failures.”

In an ominous indication of just how precarious the rescue operation was, Stanton then sent another email: “We’re worried about the smallest lad please keep working on the capsule details.”

Musk’s engineers designed a metallic escape pod based on “feedback from Thailand,” using a large silver tube meant to be affixed to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The person inside would not need to swim or know how to use oxygen bottles.

Earlier in the week, the tech boss described the device as “basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull”.
He said it was “light enough to be carried by two divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps” and “extremely robust”.

The device is outfitted with oxygen ports and a nose cone to protect it from impact with rocks.

On Monday, Musk had tweeted a short video of the sub being tested in a suburban LA pool. Guided by divers at the front and rear of the craft, it was inched through a metal framework supposed to resemble the tight submerged spaces in the tunnel complex.

But with some of these just 38cm wide, the sub would have to be immensely manoeuverable given divers have had to take off their oxygen tanks to squeeze through the narrow passages.

Each boy and their coach was fitted with a wetsuit, boots and full face mask with oxygen supplied from a tank carried by another diver.

They followed a guide rope through the tunnel system with a diver in front and one behind them to help them in the difficult flooded passages.

Musk’s sub may have been a dud for this mission, but his battery in South Australia is firing on all cylinders.

The battery delivered 100 megawatts into the national electricity grid in 140 milliseconds.

“That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market,” then Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said.

The battery, in the state’s mid north, was switched on after being built by Musk’s company Tesla in less than 100 days following a series of blackouts in South Australia. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sydney father who shot dead children 'planned' the attack, police say

from ABC News
The 68-year-old man found dead this morning after fatally shooting his two teenage children at a Sydney home has been identified by police.
The father, financial services worker John Edwards, had been involved in custody hearings about the children over the past two years.
In what police described as a "planned attack", police say Edwards went to a West Pennant Hills home and shot his son Jack, 15, and daughter Jennifer, 13, shortly before 5:20pm on Thursday.
They were found in their bedrooms in the home they shared with their mother.
After an overnight search, police discovered Edwards' body this morning at his home in Normanhurst, a suburb on Sydney's Upper North Shore, about 5 kilometres from where the children were killed.
Two guns, described as "powerful handguns" by police, were found at the property.
"The information we've gleaned in the last 15 hours [leads] me to believe that this is something premeditated and planned," NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden said.
"And we believe that shortly thereafter he went to the Normanhurst address and took his own life."
The children's 36-year-old mother returned to her home shortly after police arrived on Thursday night.
Police believe the teens were at home alone when their father shot them.
"[The mother] attended the scene suffering from significant shock. I can't even imagine the stress and the heartache that she is going through right now," Commissioner McFadden said.
"It is a horrific homicide … this is a most traumatic incident."
Edwards was known to police, however Commissioner McFadden said he had no "contemporary" criminal record.
Police said there had been custody hearings over the two children.
"The details about the nature of the relationship, particularly in recent times and the level of access that the 68-year-old had to his children is subject to investigation," Commissioner McFadden said.
Posting on Facebook, the student leadership council at Pennant Hills High School, where one of the teenagers attended, said their "hearts broke" on finding out the news.
"Today [we] found out that one of our students was taken from us too soon," the statement said.
"Our deepest condolences go out to any students, friends, family and teachers that are affected by such heart-breaking circumstances, and such a devastating event."

This man wanted to hurt his wife so much, and he knew just how to do it.