Jonathan Bolton writes: Yesterday’s editorial stated, “‘I saw the fruits of evil, of human evil on the streets,’ Clark said in 1987. His recall was accurate, even if he wasn’t there to see it first hand.” What a load of tosh. How can you say “his recall was accurate even though he wasn’t there” when the statement begins “I saw” and so the central premise (that he was a witness) is now known to be entirely false? There was no recall to be accurate.

Robert Lewis writes: What a load of double-standard crap your introductory paragraphs were yesterday! You’ll criticise politicians who distort the truth to have an effect (and rightly so) but apply a different standard to someone who is producing a record that he expects people to believe. You can’t have it both ways. Either we apply rigorous historical standards to all historians equally, or we shelve Clark’s books under Fiction. Choose one, but don’t try to have both and think you have any intellectual credibility!

Niall Clugston writes: Crikey’s introductory remarks on Manning Clark’s “memories” of Kristallnacht (6 March) conclude: “His recall was accurate, even if he wasn’t there to see it first hand.” Actually, Clark did see the aftermath first hand – apparently a fortnight after, not the morning after as he said. The Nazi persecution of the Jews was not over when he visited: it was only just beginning, escalating towards its horrific conclusion. This latest attack on Clark is the historiographical counterpart of the Ian Campbell resignation – a storm in a teacup stirred up for partisan advantage.

Mungo MacCallum writes: Your editorial got it right. Manning Clark was more than just a chronicler of events; he did not so much write history as write about history. It is this quality that makes his six-volume revelation of Australia to itself so uniquely valuable.

Christopher Ridings writes: I cannot tell a lie. I passed Brian Burke in the corridors of the WA Parliament while on a guided tour there c1984. It gets worse. I was in the same University College as Julian Grill when he was the first student expelled from it in 1963. So you are all now compromised forever for just reading my comment. By the way, Brian Burke’s brother Terry was an MLA as well and their father Tom was MHR for Perth in the 1950s. Everybody knows everybody in Perth, so taking in the six degrees of separation from Brian Burke anyone who has spent any time in WA is now forever doomed.

Donald Allison writes: Re. “The jolly dining life of Brian” (yesterday, item 10).  A journalist in WA called Jo had lunch with Burke – why is this being published at all? It doesn’t even qualify as gossip as nothing interesting happened. Is there a journalist in Perth who has NOT had lunch with Burke? Better to publish a shorter Crikey than pad it out.

Mick Callinan writes: Hang on! All these people complimenting Campbell for falling on his sword make me sick. He kept schtum through three days of savage attacks on Rudd and he would have continued to do so, don’t you worry about that – except he had to fess up when he knew a journalist had the story. Utterly without morals or ethics.

Greg Poropat writes: Public confidence in our criminal justice system relies in part on the exclusion of political involvement in the conduct of policing. The revelation that the Prime Minister’s office was warned about AFP raids on Liberal MPs and John Howard’s admission that this is a longstanding practice raise important questions that need answers. Who initiated this practice and when? Why was it initiated? How is it justified and how does it assist the AFP in conducting its operations? Which other raids have been advised in advance to the Prime Minister’s office? What personnel in the Prime Minister’s office get access to this information? What procedures did the Prime Minister implement to ensure that this information is not disclosed elsewhere and when were these procedures implemented? On what basis, other than his word, can the Prime Minister assure us that improper disclosure of this information has never occurred? By their nature, police raids require surprise and police should take all reasonable steps to prevent the subjects of such raids being warned about them. The Prime Minister and his staff have a real political interest in avoiding criminal prosecutions of Coalition politicians. We need to know that such interference cannot occur.

Diana Simmonds writes: While a powerful earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra yesterday in Australia, a poll was said to be indicating a softening in public attitudes towards what the Howard government sees as the inevitability of nuclear power stations being built across this country. As the Indonesians are struggling to cope with extensive damage, the deaths of more than 70 people and hospitals struggling to cope with scores of injured, it’s worth remembering that the epicentre of the quake (6.3 on the Richter scale) and its aftershocks, which were felt hundreds of kilometres away in Singapore and Malaysia, is also the region where, more than a decade ago, the then Indonesian government planned to build a string of up to 17 nuclear power stations. It wasn’t late onset good sense that stopped the scheme, merely a lack of money.

Tim Thomas writes: Re. Meat industry and climate change. If you want some meat with your cake, and you don’t want to produce methane as a by product then eat kangaroo. Macropods don’t produce methane as a byproduct of fermentation. No need to follow Geoff Russell’s suggestion (yesterday, comments) to reverse six million years of omnivore evolution.

Terry Kidd writes: Re. Carbon neutrality and trees. I have no problem with growing more trees all over this great country but I have to wonder how many can be planted as an offset to carbon. It seems an easy option for organisations who wish to become carbon neutral to opt simply to plant trees as a means of achieving their goal. If many such organisations go down that path, how long will it take before we run out of room to plant more? When will we see plantation owners “selling” the same tree in multiples? If this option goes worldwide does this planet then look green from space instead of blue? Does land availability become an issue? Do tree plantations compete with crops and food production for available land? How will an organisation confirm that it is in fact getting trees planted? Will they audit “their” forests? Will each tree planted bear a little plate inscribed “Property of XYZ Corporation”? Hey, I’m just a babe in the woods when it comes to this sort of thing but it all seems just a little airy-fairy to me.

Riaz Deen writes: Re. “Prohibition drives ecstasy into a dodgy netherworld” (yesterday, item 16). I disagree with Charles’s statement that the responsibility for Catt’s death lies with the drug dealers, the government, or the police. It was Catt’s choice to purchase and use the drug knowing very well that no-one knows what the exact contents of the pill would be. The contents may be as harmless as Panadol or as harmful as PMA. By shifting the blame to the drug dealers (or anyone else) is a little like blaming those “evil people smugglers” for bringing refugees to Australian shores. In both cases the complexity of (and responsibility for) the issues are severely distorted by playing the blame game and naming scapegoats to point fingers at. And any early statement by the police regarding the dangers of PMA would not have made one iota of difference. Catt still would have taken the pill as she would not have had a clue what it contained. Education is the only answer and there is enough done in high schools nowadays for every young person to know that taking drugs is a risk and the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual.

Alex Lubansky writes: Yesterday (item 15), Crikey published a Loewenstein press release with the rhetorical title, “When is a Jew not an intolerant Zionist militarist?” Reading the article, I guess the answer seems to be, “When he is an intolerant anti-Zionist hypocrite”. Typical of a Loewenstein article, he complains about being called names, yet happily gives Philips and Rubinstein equivalent epithets (death threats are a separate matter and I hope these are treated with by the appropriate authorities). Unfortunately, for Loewenstein debate seems to mean “express my sentiments – no one else’s” – how else to explain the routine censorship imposed on his website despite his comments policy? He claims his new Loewenstein Aggrandisement Society holds no particular position, but happily advances positions for the group that aren’t explicitly articulated in the position statement. What exactly is meant by a “just” solution, how does he deal with difficult questions and conflict between Israel’s objectives and Palestine’s; what is the group’s position? If there was an easy, just solution, there would be peace. Sadly, the British group and Loewenstein’s imitation miss the crucial idea behind every concession Israel has made. Ever. Israel only makes concessions when it feels safe to do so. Be it Sinai, Lebanon or Gaza, Israel left when strong, not under fire. The current Government was elected to leave (part of) the West Bank – which won’t happen because of the Palestinian and Hezbollah attacks and broader world demonisation.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Brefney Ruhl (yesterday, comments) says that Hicks “has never fired a shot on the battlefield”. Yet in a letter to his father while in Kashmir, Hicks claimed that “I got to fire hundreds of bullets… There are not many countries in the world where a tourist, according to his visa, can go to stay with the army and shoot across the border at its enemy, legally”. That “enemy” was India and Indian soldiers. David Hicks: such a paragon of injustice defended by so many Crikey readers.

Kevin Tyerman writes: Recently several correspondents complained to Crikey that the publication of a title after the name of other correspondents was an inappropriate attempt to add credibility to their views. I have always seen it differently – I see it as a declaration of vested interests, which may add weight to their words OR may reveal an agenda to what they write. I prefer these declarations of interest to remain on Crikey’s newsletter, as it is disappointing to Google a correspondent’s name to discover that they have an undeclared vested interest in the subject. Monday’s example was Tim Le Roy (comments) who criticised the amount of power generated by wind farms, but failed to declare that he was a “spokesperson” for a Victorian anti-windfarm lobby, which, if the Sydney Morning Herald is to be believed, has links to the British Nuclear Industry and makes “misleading statements about wind energy” (ahem!). Active members of the Democrats have not declared their interests while defending their political party in the past. Google can be a useful tool for exposing the vested interests behind more obviously biased rants, but such interests really should be declared by the correspondents themselves, and published with their letters or articles. I do appreciate Crikey’s own efforts to declare any vested interests or potential conflicts of interest in your publication.

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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