Peter Brent writes: Re. Gerard Henderson’s response to Richard Farmer yesterday (comments). In more than 200 words, Henderson failed to address the central question of why (when he doesn’t refer to “George Walker Bush”, “Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton” or “John Reid Edwards”) he felt it necessary to use Barack Obama’s middle name. Instead he gave us spurious deflections such as “if Barack Hussein Obama’s campaign is likely to be hindered merely by the use of his full name, then it will be a difficult road to the White House.” Wrote Henderson, “according to Richard Farmer, [using Obama’s middle name] is improper. How do we know this? Well, the Washington Post says so.” Actually, we don’t need to ask Richard Farmer or the Washington Post, we all know what Henderson was up to – and it was yukky, uncharacteristically so. Face it Gerard, you were slumming it. I suggest you get out of the gutter, back to where you belong.

Adam Rope writes: I see the ever-sensitive Gerard “Intellectual” Henderson has once again responded to a criticism, albeit a strong one, of his jottings. The point is Gerard, why use Barack Hussein Obama’s full name in an article when you do not do the same to John Winston Howard, or anyone else for that matter? You do so only to emphasise both the name itself and its Arabic/Muslim connotations. It is a cheap shot, and hardly “intellectual” journalism.

Leith Daniel writes: I’ll believe Henderson’s use of “Hussein” to be purely innocent when he begins using John Howard’s middle name regularly. Winston, isn’t it? You know, like the protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the book that most people take as an allegorical warning of fascism’s ultimate control through creation of fear, doublethink and misinformation – the book that Howard must have read one day and thought it was a political how-to handbook.

Michael Pearce writes: Who does Gerard Joseph Henderson think he is kidding? Can he truthfully say he would be using Barack Obama’s middle name if it was, say, Frank?

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Battlers set to desert Howard as workplace laws bite?” (yesterday, item 3). With regard to the apparent independence of David Peetz’s “findings” on workplace laws one needs only to look at some of his earlier stuff. As example, from Workers Online (“the official organ of Labornet”) we have this submission “Lies, AWAs and Statistics – David Peetz uncovers the truth behind the latest statistics on earnings under Australian Workplace Agreements”. You say Griffith University academic – I say Labor apparatchik.

Bill Holmes writes: I note that John Spoehr quoted “new research” from Griffith University academic, Professor David Peetz, to substantiate his belief that John Howard’s workplace laws could backfire on him. Is this the same Professor David Peetz who is in the Trade Union choir and is also cited as the trade union bard? This article is yet another example of the political bias that is currently being peddled to Crikey subscribers on a daily basis.

Environmental Consultant, Bernie Masters, writes: Re. “Senator Brown adds trees to the emissions debate” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer’s article about burning forest residues after logging in Tasmania is another example of the media unquestioningly believing the propaganda put out by the Greens. Like the karri and tuart forests in Western Australia and the mountain ash in Victoria, many of Tasmania’s forests have evolved over millions of years to regenerate themselves best after a fire. Whether you agree with logging or clear-felling or not, the science of forest regeneration states that ashbeds created beneath gaps in the forest canopy provide weed-free environments high in nutrients and water-retaining soils in which seedlings can establish and grow. The carbon liberated into the atmosphere by the burning of logging residue is very quickly reclaimed by the fast growing trees which will then become a carbon sink for many decades, more if the timber is harvested and used in building construction. Unlike the Amazon rainforests and Queensland scrub which Farmer claims are cleared for farming, most of Tasmania’s forests are allowed to regrow after logging into ecosystems which, after 100 years, are virtually identical to their pre-logging condition. To compare logging followed by revegetation with clearing followed by agriculture is not just wrong; it’s dishonest. Bob Brown’s supporters here in WA are now starting a pre-election push to have all logging of state forests banned, even regrowth forests which they once said were of little environmental value. Richard Farmer’s statements are scientifically incorrect and make one wonder if he’s not attempting to support the Greens for his own political reasons.

John Bowyer writes: George Russell (yesterday, comments) is absolutely right about The Australian Greenhouse Office and the CSIRO’s hiring policies. They both know the answer they need for our money and fit the facts to that end. Also George, what should farmers do again? Grow trees instead of raise animals but not harvest the trees? And then what exactly?

Keith Thomas writes: Re. State of the Planet. I’ll continue skipping over the media section of Crikey and I suggest Lisa Crago (yesterday, comments) resume her skipping over State of the Planet. The items identified by Crikey for this section are a mixed bag and some have a tabloid tone, but I for one look forward to your daily selection. Although some might prefer to bury their heads in the sand, the planet is actually in trouble. The problems and their manifestations are incredibly complex and the variety of items Crikey selects is a good representation of both the state of the planet and the state of human comprehension. (PS: I don’t skip over Christian’s contributions.)

Sharon Hutchings writes: Re. “Amanda says she’s going nowhere … a questo momento” (yesterday, item 2). I actually hope Amanda (Vanstone) gets her posting in Rome and manages to get herself stuck in one of those narrow gothic doorways that Dame Edna referred to. Maybe then she will experience in some minuscule way what it might be like to be locked up in Villawood, Baxter, or one of those “Disneyland – not” profitable factory piggeries she part owns. Of course, for a truly authentic experience she would need to remain firmly stuck for, oh, at least a year I’d say. 

John Peak writes: Re. “Jailhouse halal” (yesterday, item 12). OK Peter Faris, explain to us first how you are compelled to eat Kit Kats or any other Nestle products which are judged halal, and second, how in doing so your religious beliefs are offended or contravened to the extent that it constitutes discrimination. Your vilely offensive piece of “commentary” and its smarta-se conclusion belie those letters QC you insist on displaying after your name. I suspect that it wasn’t just that the prisoner who successfully sued this case was a child s-x offender (yes, vile too), but that he was Muslim as well, to be somehow combined in significance in your article. George Orwell saw you coming.

Niall Clugston writes: Peter Faris (QC – let’s not forget) is not a “legal commentator” as described by Crikey but a snide insinuator. If he wants to attack Islam, or child s-x offenders, or the observance of dietary rules (halal, kosher, vegetarian etc) in prison, then let him do so. There is no need for him to devote a paragraph to eating camels and a paragraph to eating Kit Kats. Why on earth can’t the self-appointed truth-tellers of age get to the point?

Peter Faris QC writes: In response to Justin Templer (yesterday, comments), I say (yet again) that it is more effective to attack my argument rather than attack me personally. Templer sneers that I “write with the arrogance of one born to rule” and makes the racist comment that the lawyer next door is “obviously not good enough (Greek extraction, state school)”. There are plenty of QCs who went to state schools. There are Greek silks. As a matter of fact, I was raised in West Footscray, attended Tottenham State School, Footscray Central, Hampton High and finished with one year at Melbourne High. I went to Melbourne University by winning a competitive Government scholarship and supported myself by working in factories etc during vacation. And yes, I am proud to be silk. I earned it. Perhaps Templer can let us know where he was educated and whether he has ever received the professional approval of his peers (as I have).

Tim Le Roy writes: Re. My company is an active employer of people on 457 visas and their spouses due a nationwide skills shortage in our industry. We have the real benefit of experience in these matters. We pay top dollar to bring these skills into Australia and happily approach people working for competitors on 457 visas to join us. The process for both approaches is simple and quite cost effective. The guest workers are not bound in any way by law, unless perhaps by sponsoring employer contract, but that falls outside the 457 process. Basically everything in Pascoe’s statement below is uninformed garbage with four major errors. “The great thing from an employer’s point of view about this type of non-migration is that the guest workers are effectively bound to the sponsoring company for the years that they’re here (wrong!) and can’t reap the usual benefit of living in a free society with an open labour market (wrong again!) – you don’t have to worry about them accepting a better offer from the company down the road (wrong, again!!). Along with the skilled migration intake – much of which is also company-sponsored – it’s playing a major role in keeping wages growth well below the rise in company profits (absolute bullsh-t!).” One really has to wonder whether Pascoe has another agenda, given all the flaws in his diatribe.

Sue Gregory writes: Re. “Diners never recovered from Ansett collapse” (yesterday, item 24). Whilst I appreciate that the article is from The Sheet, a clarification needs to be made. The mis-statement, “and all as if the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US (which in the end sank Ansett)…” Ansett was in trouble before September 11, 2001. The Australian Services Union on 9 September 2001 was begging the Federal Government to get in and get involved with Air New Zealand to save all the Australian jobs. The meeting of the board of directors of Ansett was held on 12 September (Australian time) to put the company into administration, so that would have had to have been the fastest board meeting organised in history (remembering the news of September 11 broke here overnight on the 11/12 September). All September 11 did to Ansett was to help reduce the resale value of its assets by the Administrators, and even without September 11 it would still not have been able to fly.

John Mellor writes:  I think Diners has only itself to blame for loss of business in the wake of the Ansett collapse. It was in a difficult legal position because it had been passing the points on to Ansett and therefore my 800,000 plus points went down with the airline. Not happy, but you cop it on the chin. But it was its poor response to people who lost points that cost it the business, not the loss of points. Diners simply did nothing for us. All it needed to do was develop some sort of scheme linked into achieving certain spending levels on the card that would help cardholders earn back some or all of the lost points over time and I would have continued to use Diners as the main company card. I suggested it at the time. All we wanted was a gesture to loyal customers who had been putting serious merchant fees Diners’s way for many years. But nothing was forthcoming. The poor call centre staff used to cop an earful whenever they rang me to encourage me to use the card more like the old days. Eventually they stopped ringing and I all but stopped using the card.

Nigel Brunel writes: Re. Tuesday’s report that Nine’s 60 Minutes had offered former Corby family familiar Jodi Power $200,000 to take her story to Nine rather than Seven, Nine Network news chief Gary Linnell wrote (yesterday, comments): Absolutely untrue, I wish I had that sort of money.” So – what are you saying, Gary? If you had that sort of money, you would pay? That’s the problem with gutter tabloid journalism – too much money and too few brains.

Stewart Lamb, Creative Director, Banksia Productions, writes: Re. “Humphrey employs some gamesmanship” (yesterday, item 20). I’m sure your paragraphs about Humphrey and gamesmanship are well off the mark. We at Banksia are still teaching Humphrey the complexities of hide and seek.

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