Sharon Lapkin writes: As a long time reader, I’d like to express my disappointment over Antony Loewenstein’s misreporting in Crikey yesterday. I read his article myself and thought it a highly unlikely Bush quote. Then I see Tim Blair picked up Loewenstein on his dishonest reporting too. To be frank, Crikey needs to be more careful that it is not guilty of the unethical behaviour, which it is so ready to accuse others. Publishing invented quotes is bad form for a fine organisation such as Crikey. From Tim Blair:

Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said … that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

That quote reworked by Antony Loewenstein at crikey.com.au:

As Bush has said, “saving Iran is going to be [my] legacy”.

CRIKEY: Our writer got it wrong — the observation should not have appeared in quotation marks or been attributed to the US President. We apologise for the error.

Quentin Dempster, ABC Staff-elected director (in exile), writes: I congratulate Maurice Newman on his appointment and note his commitment to the ABC Charter and the independence of the institution. With very great respect I ask Mr Newman to assure the public that under his chairmanship the ABC will not go down the SBS commercial road and that he reject advertising and sponsorship on domestic services, particularly ABC online services. The other hot issue inside the ABC at the moment is the outsourcing of television production (with the exception of news and current affairs). The ABC must be more than a transmitter for hire. Audiences are looking to the board to demonstrate a commitment to maintain and enhance the ABC as a production house for innovative, quality and distinctive programming in the digital age. Programs should be commissioned for their good ideas, not their commercial bankability after a showing on ABC platforms. Had it not been for staff-elected directors (1983-2006) the ABC would now be a fully commercialised pay-TV operator and a profit generating commercial arm of the newly privatised Telstra. The absence of the staff-elected director on the ABC Board again raises concerns about what appears to be an informal government agenda to commercialise the ABC’s operations.

Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton writes: A couple of comments if I may on Stephen Mayne’s statement (yesterday, item 11): “The third Green MP, Colleen Hartland, is the biggest risk for the party because she doesn’t present well and is a hardline leftie who quit Labor in 2002 over refugees and Tampa.” The first is that Stephen has misinterpreted (or misrepresented) the information in the link he offers, which states: “Colleen has been a member of the Greens since 2002, joining that party after both the ALP and the coalition deserted the refugees picked up by the Tampa.” Colleen, like many environmental activists, ceased voting for either of the major parties many years ago. Indeed in the previous millennium she stood as an independent candidate in opposition to both of them. My experience of Colleen as a valued friend and colleague over almost two decades is that she presents very well as an advocate for environmental and social justice, even if the highly entropic People Power attempted to do a job on her in the lead-up to the election. It is true that she is at the opposite end of the height and calibre (literal meaning) scale to Stephen, and on the second measure I can say absolutely there is no wucking fay she would ever jump off a stage in fright at the appearance of a tired and emotional Glenn Milne. I am fully confident that Colleen will make an outstanding parliamentarian.

Scott Ludlam (from the office of WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert) writes: Re. “How will the Greens handle Victorian balance of power?” (yesterday, item ) – Stephen Mayne forgets that the Greens have held balance of power in Western Australia since 2001, right through the heat of the resources boom, and have played a highly constructive role in holding the state Labor government to account.

Stephen Luntz writes: Re. “Why shouldn’t the DLP have MPs?” (yesterday, item 14). Christian Kerr criticises those who are unhappy with the DLP’s election, among whose number I can be found. He makes the point that their representation in parliament is not greatly higher than their share of the vote. However, one has to wonder how many of their voters knew who they were voting for. Antony Green has made the point that the DLP’s vote was drastically higher in the five regions where they were before the ALP on the ballot paper (reading left to right) than in the three where they were after Labor. He might add that this is despite the fact that the latter group includes Western Metro, the DLP’s historical stronghold. The pattern is not new, and has applied at Senate elections since the 70s. The majority of DLP voters have simply misread the ballot paper and think they are voting for the Labor party – does such “support” really justify representation?

Cait Calcutt writes: Christian Kerr wrote: “The DLP has stood for freedom – a pretty idiosyncratic sort of freedom – but freedom nonetheless.” Except for the freedom of women to control their own fertility and decide when or if to become a parent.

Simon Rumble writes: Re. “Swings and roundabouts in Vic upper house” (yesterday, item 13). Charles Richardson’s comment about tickets being shown at polling booths is right on the money. During the six years and three elections (two federal and one state) I coordinated for the Greens in London, the tickets were not available at any of them. This is the busiest polling place in Australian federal elections, open for the two weeks prior to the poll and with queues often stretching right around the block. Complaints were made every time, but nothing has happened.

Alex Lubansky writes: Yesterday, Peter Leith (comments), made a few comments which need analysis. The oft repeated nonsense that Zionism has destabilised most of the world for many years is just that – oft repeated nonsense. That a people with a global population of about 15 million people (0.2% of the total population) “destabilises most of the world” just by wanting a return to their traditional homeland (only about 20,000 square km) and self-determination suggests, if true, that the problem lies with the “most of the world” rather than with the Zionists. Next, Leith tries to diminish the impact of a third of the Jewish population at the time being killed by discussing the more numerous deaths of Russians during the same and later period. Both were tragedies. I challenge Leith to find people denying the Russian deaths occurred. Yet Iran currently has a conference denying the deaths of six million Jews.

Jaan Torv writes: I am unsure where to begin a response to Peter Leith’s commentary in today’s Crikey. It’s loaded with innuendo, factual inaccuracy and subjective analysis. Mr Leith’s lament over the incongruity of lack of acknowledgement between Russia’s staggering death toll in World War II and Nazi Germany’s state-sanctioned, systematic, industrialised murder of six million human beings, is in itself either a demonstration of monumental ignorance of history or is, at a minimum, his personal desensitisation of the horror of the Holocaust. Note his use of the words “six million Jews died.” Wrong, Mr Leith. The correct description is “six million Jews were murdered.” The 30 million people who died in Russia’s war with Germany were not deliberately starved, institutionally dehumanised, herded – men, women and children alike – into gas chambers where they were poisoned and then cremated with the gold fillings stripped from their teeth and melted into gold bars to be used to fund the Nazi Germany war machine. Nazi Germany’s virulent racism was not without its pragmatism. If Mr Leith was indeed a student of history, he would know the phrase “Never again.” In this context, the threat by Mr Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map” is taken seriously. Mr Ahmadinejad’s statement is as much a global diplomatic blunder as it is an oft repeated statement of Iranian intent designed to rally anti-Jewish sentiment in the Middle East. Israel has a right to exist. Mr Leith appears to take the inebriated Mel Gibson approach to pan-Arabic problem solving. The Jews are responsible for everything that is wrong in the world.

Ashley Midalia writes: Re. “Israel nuke slip no surprise, but what about Iran?” (yesterday, item 8). Antony Loewenstein, so long as certain members of the neighbourhood remain committed to a policy of wiping Israel off the map, it is hardly “gross hypocrisy” for Israel to want nuclear weapons while wanting those sworn to its destruction not to have them. Sounds more like gross common sense to me. If you truly want to be Crikey’s resident contrarian, you should be aware that Israel bashing is pretty mainstream these days. Perhaps consider leaving it to the Arab League, the UN General Assembly or the loony Left. After all, not a peep from you on the hypocrisy of other nuclear states whose existence isn’t routinely threatened. Just Israel. Yawn, Antony, yawn.

David Winderlich, advisor to Sandra Kanck, writes: Re. Crikey Honour Roll – State Political Personage of the Year. Karlene Maywald? We Crow eating polly watchers are perplexed. Isn’t there anyone more interesting interstate? What about Democrat MLC Sandra Kanck? She’s been pilloried by the Premier and the media for her stands on drug reform and attending Rave parties to promote pill testing. A speech to Parliament outlining the desperate backyard suicides forced by the lack legal voluntary euthanasia was censored. But by November Sandra was one of 9 MPs speaking out for euthanasia on the steps of Parliament House. And by December Isobel Redmond, Liberal Shadow Attorney General joined Sandra at a Rave with rumours of more pollies to follow. Over 1200 people have contacted Sandra in support of her stands on these issues and then there is the Morgan Poll in November that put the Democrats ahead of the Greens!!! And yes we do think that is just a little too good to be true. Sandra should at the very least get an honourable mention for Conspicuous Courage in Leading the Fight Against Fundamentalism and Populism.

John Blakefield writes: Re. Magnus Vikingur and citizenship tests (yesterday, comments). If you can’t speak or understand English when you arrive from Iceland, under the new test, you’ll be given resident’s status and you’ll apply for citizenship in due course once you’ve learnt the language. Isn’t this what you did anyway? The test is not given to be passed or failed (sent back) on arrival but only when you apply for citizenship.

Hugh Halloran writes: Re. Brian Mitchell defending Paul Armstrong (yesterday, item 19). It’s necessary to point out that Brian Mitchell left out one very important fact in his defence of West editor Paul Armstrong. In part, Mitchell says, “The letter that was supposedly so prejudicial to the jury was, but for one short passage in a sentence, a short and highly opinionated rant. The only specific mention of the trial in question was the author saying he’d sat in on ‘a trial’ and heard excuses made and he was sick of them. That was it. No names, no case details.” The letter in question specifically says “Until November 26 last year, the dead youth was a living breathing teenager”. I don’t think it would be too hard to imagine that jury members would be well aware of the significance of that date in relation to the trial – it would be indeed be a “case detail” – and given the (understandable) emotive language used in throughout the letter, it would thus be quite conceivable that the letter could influence a jury member. In this case, the judge was right; but I suspect Armstrong’s taking the heat for what is probably an oversight on the part of the letters editor. Is that person looking for a new job yet?

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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