Stephen Paddock, a 64 year old retiree, opened fire on a crowded music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, and leaving at least 489 others injured. Paddock fired from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, where he had brought a large stockpile of assault weapons. He killed himself before police officers could apprehend him. It is the worst mass shooting in United States history, claiming more lives than the night club shooting in Orlando, Florida in 2016 which previously held the title. An investigation is ongoing, but initial evidence seems to show Stephen Paddock had no criminal record and was a legal gun owner. The tragedy has re-ignited debate on gun laws in the States. The National Rifle Association has finally conceded that it may be time for change, banning the use of ‘bumper stock’ which Paddock use to turn his semi-automatic weapons into rapid fire guns.
In a finding that surprises no one, the Climate Council has released a report saying the only barrier to a renewable energy future for Australia is politics. The cohesive study between scientists, engineers and industry experts says there are no technical or economic barriers to the switch. Within a decade, over a third of Aussie coal power plants will be more than fifty years old, at which point they usually shut down. The reports says switching to solar, wind, hydro and grid-scale batteries would create a more competitive, cheaper industry for Australian consumers. The Turnbull government is continuing to stall on a clean energy target. We did a deep dive into Australian energy policy here.
A 4 Corners report on Monday night revealed major concerns around Adani, the Indian company that is planning to begin construction on one of the world’s largest coal mines in Queensland this month. The company has faced multiple charges of fraud and environmental negligence. Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk has shrugged off the allegations, vowing that the mine will bring thousands of jobs to regional Queensland.
Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has acted on complaints made about local government elections and councillors conduct. It found widespread breaches of the State’s electoral laws and made 31 recommendations. The Queensland Premier has pledged to ban political donations from property developers after it was revealed that Gold Coast, Logan and Ipswich councils voted more favourably towards developers who had made political donations. Logan Mayor is Luke Smith is under continuing investigation for unfairly influencing property development decisions. The Chairman of the CCC said problems were widespread:
“It’s certainly at the very least a hotbed for perceived corruption and that happens when you have a lack of transparency. Their perception [the public] is, and I think correctly, there must be something wrong here — and that’s why it’s sought to be covered up. The public is right on the money, frankly.”
The PM met with the leaders of the states and territories this week in a special National Security COAG Meeting. They agreed to extend the length of time legally permissible to hold a terrorism suspect in custody to 14 days. They also agreed to sharing their drivers liscence and other ID photos to a national database for better surveillance.
The UK PM Theresa May is struggling in her leadership of her Conservative party. The UK Parliament is divided over contentious issues such as Brexit. The Conservative party held its national conference this week, and it was pretty disastrous. May’s key speech was interrupted by a prankster handing her an unemployment form, she couldn’t shake a cough, and parts of the backdrop fell down around her. In addition, her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson (who’s a headline-grabbing character known for offbeat remarks), suggested that a city in Libya could be the next Dubai once they ‘cleared all the dead bodies away’.
There was a referendum in Spain to vote if Catalonia – a region in the northeast that includes Barcelona – should be independent from the rest of the country. Only problem is that the referendum isn’t officially recognised by the Spanish government. Still, it might be the final push to give Catalonia it’s freedom, or at least push Spain into a constitutional crisis. Official Spanish forces have been aggressive in trying to shut down the referendum. There have been many weeks of ugly protests and riots all over Spain. The conflict arises from decades long animosity between Catalonia and Spain – they went to civil war in the 30’s until being effectively absorbed under the Spanish constitution in the 70’s. The following weeks may see Catalonia’s long-awaited leap towards independent state-hood. We’ll do a deep dive on this issue this Tuesday.
The SS Macumba – an Aussie ship from the second world war – has been found after 74 years. The merchant ship was charged with carrying supplies from Brisbane to Darwin when it was sunk by the Japanese in 1943. The CSIRO found the ship off the Northern Territory coast this week.
Tom Petty, legendary rock star, has passed away. He was the lead in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as well as one of the founding members of The Travelling Wilburys (which included George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison). He sold over eighty million records.
It’s sort of hope amongst the ruins, I think. To me we’re all in the great wide open. I think life is pretty wild; I really want to like the world, but at the same time I have to write about what I see.
Photo at the top is from Mark Ralston.
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We’ll be back on Tuesday with a deep dive into Spain’s current dramas.