It’s clear after only three days of hearings that a “first-rate
scandal” is unfolding before the Terrence Cole Inquiry into AWB’s
kickbacks to Saddam and his cronies, says Mike Steketee in The Australian.
In the last three days of hearings, AWB’s insistence that they didn’t
realise the trucking company was being used as a front for the Iraqi
government
has been torn to shreds. It’s unlikely the government will come unstuck
as easily, simply because their terms of reference for the inquiry “do
not allow it to make specific findings against ministers or
departments.” But as the council assisting the inquiry has proven, this
won’t stop it “bringing out evidence of government involvement.”

So Philip Ruddock – that “grey, pathetic and sad little man” who sold
out all remnants of his liberal principles to articulate those of his
master, John Howard – wants an Australian ID card for all of his fellow
Australians, says Graham Freudenberg on New Matilda
(subscription required). The only reason Ruddock wants us all to carry
cards is so they can keep “better tabs on us all,” and “increase the
power and ability of the central bureaucracy” over our already
heavily-scrutinised lives. It’s probably “supremely ironic,” but it’s
no coincidence that it’s been the Liberal Party of Australia, and the
Republican Party in the United States, that are “taking us so rapidly
down Hayak’s Road to Serfdom.”

“A pandemic-obsessed world can be a frightening place,” writes Peter Curson in The Sydney Morning Herald,
and with bird flu on everyone’s lips, on their televisions, and coming
out of their radios, there’s been a “disengagement between the
realities of bird flu and the social and political panic.” It’s not a
pandemic – a wildlife epidemic maybe – but not the threat to humans on
a massive scale that many in the media and government would have you to
believe. “Endless TV shots of public health staff in bio-hazard suits
destroying thousands of chickens have incited unwarranted public
anxiety,” and it’s truly a “great irony that we spend more time
worrying about what might be, rather than what is.”

Diabetes is out of control, says Nicholas von Hoffman in The New York Observer.
“In the old days, you could tell the rich people because they were fat
–and, we suppose, a lot of them got diabetes. Now rich people are
mostly thin; they exercise a lot and they don’t get diabetes.” The
result, writes von Hoffman, is that diabetes lacks a powerful political
constituency that would get the money for effective public education
and legislation. “The rich, who are seldom afflicted, put their money
to work on the diseases they get.”

“By exaggerating the importance of Iran’s
nuclear developments, the West is showing up the waning of its power,” writes
Philip Bowring in the International Herald Tribune. Now the West has three
possible outcomes: “diplomatic dance continues,” which shows the West has few
cards to play; the US
attack Iran with Iraq-like consequences; and China
and other security council followers lean on Iran
enough to let the current crisis blow over. Clearly on show, “the hypocrisy of
the West is obvious” – just look at Israel
and Pakistan.
But “Western bullying, regime-change policies, threats of war and selective
condemnation of nuclear ownership are even better reasons for Tehran
to want nuclear technology” than the ones they already have.

“Politicians mistakenly believe that economic growth makes a nation
happier,” and the hippies, greenies and road-protesters are now getting
their revenge – in the way of hard evidence that argues growth is not
God, says Andrew Oswald in The Financial Times.
Studies are starting to show that “humans are beings of comparison,”
and one person’s happiness is inversely relative to their neighbours
earnings, while it’s also been found that people are generally bad at
forecasting what will make them happy. Now even “economists’ faith in
the value of growth is diminishing,” says Oswald. “Happiness, not
economic growth, ought to be the next and more sensible target for the
next and more sensible generation.”

Worth reading Highly recommended