Simon Crean’s bloody factional fight to to keep
his seat of Hotham was a sign that the ALP has “narrowed its catchment
for parliamentary preferment beyond the point of serious danger” – and
although fewer people are joining them, it’s the unions providing most
of the candidates, says
Rodney Cavalier in The Australian. “Union
control of the management of the ALP is the pillar of the political
class,” even though an ordinary union member is just as likely to vote
Liberal, National or One Nation. “The
assault against Crean represents a behavioural sink for this party,”
and where once the party offered its former leaders respect, now a
former leader looks like just any contestable seat MP.

There is no good case to
undermine the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty by selling uranium to India, and it “certainly shouldn’t be done for
economic reasons,” says Michelle Grattan in The Age.
There’s no desperate need for Australia to sell its uranium to India,
and although it’s a new part of our strategic policy in South Asia, we
shouldn’t risk alienating Pakistan. Howard would probably like to sell
uranium to India, but as things are, there’s “no practical way to shift
policy
without causing too many
problems.” Australia will hold off for now – even if it makes the
Indians “somewhat
slighted.”

The continually damning evidence brought before the Cole Commission shows that, “even though allegations of
bribery surfaced a number of times, no-one in government – ministers or
officials – took the issue seriously enough”, says Laurie Oakes in The Bulletin.
The latest evidence has shown the OECD group knew about, and asked
Canberra about, the AWB corruption claims. And the fact that the AFP chose not to
investigate the claims is another taint of the government’s handling of
the issue. “Clearly, bribery in
international business was not a front-of-mind issue for the
government. Or, it appears, for law enforcement agencies.”

The world has three options when it comes to Iran, says Christopher Hitchens in Slate:
“reliance on the United Nations/European Union bargaining table, a
‘decapitating’ military strike, or Nixon goes to China.” And Nixon it
is. With all the talk about Iran’s obliteration of Israel being
“largely bullshit,” the US shouldn’t be afraid to go in and exchange
ideas with the Iranians, because, says Hitchens, Iran only ever wanted
the bomb as insurance against an attack, just like Israel and the US.
And within a decade we could be dealing with a whole new generation of
power-brokers, who would be more moderate and open to engaging in some
chatter with the US. “Just a thought.”

Stem cell research is the latest battlefront for the ideological
attack on modern medicine, but “undermining public confidence in
science for ideological reasons is abhorrent, if familiar,” says Matthew Syed in The Times (UK). And things
will “rapidly get worse.” “It is often said that morality is failing to
keep up with the pace of technological change,” but the truth is the
opposite: “‘public morality’ – often dressed in the language of
religious
fundamentalism — is holding back scientific progress, something that
will impose lasting damage on humanity.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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