CORRECTION: Daimler-Chrysler doesn’t hold a controlling stake in Mitsubishi as reported yesterday: “Is Mitsubishi finally headed for the wrecking yard?” (item 2) – it sold the last of its Mitsubishi stock in November last year.

Adrian Blundell-Wignall and Alison Tarditi, Directors, Australian Equity Strategy, Citigroup, write: In response to your article – “Citigroup’s stock market warning” (yesterday, item 1) – we would like to clarify some points. In the report we are careful to point out there are both similarities and differences with the market from 1986-1987 to now, not simply similarities with October 1987. Deal making and flows are driving markets into the early stages of overvaluation. We point out that the market is about 10% above the level we think is fair on earnings etc, and that in ’87 it got to around 75% over-valued. The market could go on to more dangerous levels now, given the exuberance, which is why being out of the market could be as risky as being in it . The best way to play these situations is with caution, and certainly avoiding some of the very expensive stocks, of which there are now quite a few – this is surely a sensible thing to do. And yes, there probably is relatively less hot air in the diversified resource stocks.

Gavan Griffith writes: Re. “Does Brandis deserve silk? You bet your horsehair wig he does” (yesterday, item 5). Peter Faris QC is incorrect today re Gareth Evans QC. He did not appoint himself a Commonwealth Silk. He applied in the ordinary was and was appointed upon the recommendation of Sir John Young, Chief Justice Supreme Court of Victoria, on his merits.

Shaun Cronin writes: Could someone please explain to Peter Faris that Milton Orkopoulos has not been “publicly charged with homos-xual s-x offences” (yesterday, comments). Homos-xuality is legal in NSW and the allegations against Orkopoulos involve child s-x charges. You’d think a QC would at least make themselves familiar with the case and law before passing comment.

Michael de Angelos writes: I don’t always agree with Peter Faris QC but I certainly do with his comments on the disgraceful actions of Morris Iemma regarding an accused Labor MP and the complete denial of the man’s right to be perceived as “innocent until proven guilty”. The prejudicial verbal bashing given the man by the NSW premier and the Opposition Leader for political expediency has been one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed in this state. Further attempts to punish him before he appears in court, by denying the accused his pension rights are vindictive beyond belief. Not only is this an attack on the man’s family, under what convention has an accused or a convicted criminal ever had his lawfully earned entitlements removed? Pensions are not the proceeds of crime. What next-special laws that will only apply to certain classes of offenders where their assets could be confiscated merely because we don’t like the crime?

John Richardson writes: Re. yesterday’s comment by Michael Pelly, Media Adviser to the Office of the Attorney-General. Cripes, it took Michael Pelly less than 24 hours to correct Mirko Bagaric’s claim that Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, was to pay David Hicks a visit at Guantanamo Bay. But the lightning-speed delivery of Pelly’s helpful clarification served another, doubtless unintended, purpose, by contrasting the offensive and extensive delays in responses to correspondence directed to his political masters, that routinely take 6 months or longer to formulate and then, inevitably and voluminously, address everything but the issue. A big “thank you” from me to David Hicks, Mirko Bagaric, Michael Pelly and Crikey for this valuable lesson. In future, I think I will address all enquiries to federal Ministers to the personal attention of Michael Pelly.

Laura Reece writes: I read with interest the various responses to this, the latest of Professor Mirko Bagaric’s increasingly frequent and public comments on the most controversial aspects of our legal system. Those concerned with the Professor’s comments about David Hicks might be interested to read the arguments put forward in his recent textbook on immigration and refugee law (Migration and Refugee Law: Principles and Practice in Australia, Vrachnas J, Boyd K, Bagaric M and Dimopoulos P: 2005, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne). The book relies on the same utilitarianism or “pragmatism” apparent in his comments on the Hicks case to argue that persecution on grounds of race, s-xuality, religion etc should no longer be grounds for asylum. These now well-established grounds are dismissed as “s-xy” and “luxurious” and it is argued that the 1951 Refugee Convention should be radically altered – refugee status should be afforded only to those who are starving to death or those who can show that they are actually in mortal danger. To claim in 2005 that victims of persecution have no rightful claim to asylum quite recklessly rejects decades of debate, scholarship and the horrendous experiences of countless millions. To combine this with the Professor’s earlier and now notorious argument that torture is both necessary and morally justifiable is to violate the sensibilities of many who have suffered intensely and sought refuge in this country. The hugely troubling central thesis of his recent book is all the more concerning given the Professor’s role as lecturer in Human Rights Law, and given his previous role as a Member of the Refugee Review Tribunal. An edited version of my review of the book appears in issue 27 of The Queensland Lawyer
Jody Bailey writes: I agree with Howard and Murdoch that a strong and open relationship with the US is essential. But I think that their protestations are designed to cover up the real issue at hand. The issue is both men were major cheerleaders for a war fought on a hidden agenda. Cutting and running would be dishonourable and defeatist, they say. I’ll believe their reasoning when their children are frontline grunts in Iraq.

Joe James writes: I am all for giving people a right of reply but I was gobsmacked by today’s insulting and uneducated response by Guy Rundle (yesterday, comments) to the roasting he received for his journalistic dung-heap regarding Gardasil, Tony Abbott and Catholics. Rundle’s snide and derogatory implication, that Catholics suffer from some form of institutionalised misogyny and think that women are innately sinful, is nothing more than a p-ssweak snow job to hide his own bigotry. I duly clicked on the link Rundle provided to the Catholic Catechism and began reading. All I could find was a lot of theology (FYI – about God becoming a man, in Jesus, and the role played by Jesus’s mother, Mary). The text that Rundle appears to be referring to is a quote from an early Christian theologian: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” That was it… nothing about the “sinfulness of women”. Hardly damning (out of the almost 3000 sections of the Catechism), there’s more misogyny in an edition of Women’s Weekly. What is damning (for Rundle) is that the same discussion occurs about men (ie Jesus making good after Adam’s stuff-ups). Some of the references that Rundle conveniently ignored: “what we had lost in Adam … we might recover in Christ Jesus” (Section 518); Jesus restored “what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed” (Section 532); “Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation” (Section 539). I was so shocked by Rundle’s crass, out-of-context, intellectually flaccid and totally misleading reference that I didn’t even bother to check the second section – not worth the energy it would have taken to scroll down the screen.

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