Stephen Morris writes: Re. “What happens when our little bit of Talitrash talks?” (yesterday, item 8). I find Christian Kerr’s carefully reasoned analysis of the Hicks case quite compelling. Apparently, Christian’s intellectual powers enable him to know what is happening in David Hick’s mind and his attitudes on a range of opinions with a breathtaking accuracy, especially when Hicks has been so incommunicado, that until last weekend he hadn’t spoken to his own family for three years. I suppose the reports that Hicks is no longer a follower of Islam (and hence may not answer the questions as a “fanatic”) must be wrong too. The sophisticated and appropriate use of the well know Australian phrase “trailer-trash” associated with “Taliban” I feel pretty well seals the well-reasoned and logical case that has been carefully put. I had previously thought that absolute certainty based on very uncertain facts (or no facts at all) was only possible in the mind of “a fool or a fanatic” – how wrong I have been!

Matt Longworth writes: After reading the set of interesting questions proposed by Christian Kerr I think he should be assigned to something far more important, like determining why penguins cannot fly. Why do I think this? Well, the web page states: “Crikey’s aim is very simple: to bring its readers the inside word on what’s really going on in politics, government, media, business, the arts, sport and other aspects of public life in Australia”. I don’t geddit. If this is Kerr’s opinion then why isn’t it identified as such? Or is foolishness like “It will be interesting to see how he deals with questions such as …” one of those stories that “insiders are talking about but other media can’t or won’t cover”? Well, put it like that and yes, it probably is.

Keith Binns writes: “Talitrash”? Why do you pay Christian Kerr? If I want patent crap I’ll read the free copy of the Telegraph in a staff room.

Jenny Morris writes: Had to check whether today’s edition was a delayed April Fool’s bulletin. Christian Kerr’s diatribe on David Hicks was quite something. I must admit to not having followed what Christian thinks about David, but then again, that item probably sums it all up. I’m no apologist for militant Islam, but this item is over the top and, I think, beneath a service like Crikey that I assume still aspires to provide news and comment. It’s a badly written little rant that fails to communicate anything other than the frothing ire of the writer. I’m disappointed in you Christian, and in Crikey for printing it.

Martin Pool writes: I think the general opinion in Australia is that Hicks probably is (or was) a fool or fanatic, but deserves due process nonetheless. I for one won’t be particularly shocked if Hicks expresses nasty Al-Hilaly-style opinions when released. The more frequently such opinions are aired and met with the ridicule they deserve, the better.

Jason writes: Christian highlights an interesting set of questions in today’s piece and Hicks’ response would likely shift public opinion as to his plight. It is unfortunately for that very reason those questions will probably never be asked and instead we’ll all learn just how mean those Americans are and how everyone in Gitmo is innocent, did nothing wrong and, like every reader, just wants a peaceful world in which to raise their kids. Please note the clause on Mr Hicks’ deal is no media for 12 months … nowhere does it say he has to tell the truth after that time.

Drew Turney writes: Re. “So much for Hicks: what about the Bali Nine?” (yesterday, item 3). Greg Barns wrote: “Or what about the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby, all high profile cases where the Howard government says that it will not interfere in the legal processes of another country, Indonesia.” Quite simple, Greg. Howard will do anything and change any hat to be popular (see his climate change about-face circa November 2006). And while a vocal sector of Australians believe we should bring Hicks home, a much larger and quieter bloc of voters don’t think we’re tough enough on drug dealers. Letting Corby and the Bali Nine rot in Indonesia is the treatment most Australians think they deserve, and Howard doesn’t want them bought home to the slap on the wrist and book deals that make them rich (oops, too late), the Australian judicial system would afford them under his leadership.

Niall Clugston writes: Your editorial, Greg Barns’s opinion piece, and the American commentary you sample all argue that Hicks’s homecoming is a favour to Howard. But what is the evidence for this? This is, of course, the analysis of many American journalists, but they haven’t been following the case and haven’t witnessed Howard’s persistent lack of persistence. Yes, the case has been a cause of gathering disquiet, but nothing like the hue and cry over Corby which left Howard unmoved. Rather than being anomalous, isn’t this outcome really of a piece with the treatment of Habib? Isn’t it cut from the same motley cloth as the whole anti-terrorism circus which has produced a lot of alarms and excursions but a conspicuous lack of positive results?

Jeff Morris writes:  Couldn’t agree more with Greg Barns, let’s bring all of our crims back home to Australia and get back to our roots. Poor hard done by little blighters suffering at the hands of the big wide world. They’re all good kids really, let’s get them back here for a few media exclusives to fill up our TV screens, radio and press, not to mention a few bob to the families. If Mr. Howard thinks that David Hicks was any sort of election issue, or that your average Joe gives a stuff, it just shows that he must be as out of touch with the electorate as the Labor Party.

Keith Bales writes: Re. “Kath & Kim: foxy morons outsmart Aunty” (yesterday, item 4). Glenn Dyer is right. The ABC have been seriously outsmarted and the Australian taxpayer diddled by total incompetence. When I reviewed the commercial operations of the national broadcaster I could not find one commercial-minded executive in the whole organisation! They didn’t, and in my opinion, still haven’t a clue about successfully leveraging themselves on commercial matters like programme selling, program buying or cost control and risk management. They were going to sell ABC content to Telstra for about $60 million. This sounded like a good deal to the untrained and inexperienced but no one had asked what the cost was of preparing this material for Tesltra. If the deal had gone ahead Telstra would have had the ABC “by the balls”. Similar insane “accounting” stewarded by Russell Balding claimed that the ABC Shops “made a profit of $10 million, then” but they hadn’t compared “like with like” and added in the airtime cost if the shops had to pay for the free time it was given on the ABC TV and radio. If they had added this the shops would have, in my opinion, made a whopping loss!!! Nothing much has changed I am afraid with the so called commercial nous at the ABC. The on-air people and production people are great talents in the main, but the “managers” lack management talent and chutzpa.

June McGowan writes: Given the continuing poor reception of ABC (while I get great coverage of every other channel, including TVS), the more programs that jump channels the better.

Jonathan Schultz writes: Re. “Earth Hour — the great CO2 con” (yesterday, item 2). Michael Pascoe should revise his high school physics before trying to blind us with incorrect numbers, meaningless units and blind prejudice. Let’s start with the units. What is the dip of 150 MW/hr to which he refers? Megawatts per hour? That would be a rate of change of power output, not a quantity of energy consumed. Perhaps he really meant 150 MW (Megawatts, a unit of power) or 150 MWh (Megawatt hours, a unit of energy). But, turning to the numbers, where do his figures of 8,500 MW normal power consumption and 150 MW come from? At least the Herald sourced their figures. And what about the “23,613 kilowatts (sic) the SMH is wetting itself about” come from? Referring to the Herald article and subtracting 204,900 kWh (actual energy used) from 228,180 kWh (expected energy use), I get a figure of 23,280 kWh. Pascoe’s claim that a sizeable downturn in energy consumption is the equivalent of a “base load station running into trouble” also seems questionable, given that one results in extra energy in the system while the other results in a loss. Is he trying to have us believe that using less energy is actually dangerous, so that to avoid “cascading blackouts” we should turn up those thermostats? And last but not least, no-one, not the WWF, not the Herald, nor anyone else pretends that turning off a few lights for one hour a year will in itself reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The point of such stunts is to draw attention to the amount of energy that is normally consumed and to demonstrate how easily it can be reduced. No, it’s not a simple matter, and some will distort the facts and attempt to discredit those who realise the importance of the issue and are willing to try to do something about it. A bit like those green supermarket bags.

Mark Brown writes: Headline news – wearing a red nose for a day doesn’t provide an immediate cure for SIDS. And after wearing a daffodil for a day my father still has cancer. The whole idea was to raise awareness of our use of energy – I think it achieved that. And while I’m at it – why did it take two articles in the one edition of Crikey for Pascoe to squawk the same message twice? One was a waste of space, two was painful. Have a think outside the square. Winners – everyone in Sydney who got of their a-se, participated and had a think about how they could decrease the amount of power they use. Losers – those who spent the night sitting around analysing a way to be negative about the whole exercise. I don’t think anyone who had a go actually thought the hour in the dark was going to solve the problem of global warming.

Stilgherrian writes: Michael Pascoe’s whine about Earth Hour seems too negative. OK, the SMH gilded the lily — hey, it was their event! But if we trimmed 1.7% off our electricity consumption just through one newspaper and a bit of community interest, shouldn’t we celebrate it as a great start? A few more 1.7% cuts and we’re well on the way. Or does Pascoe just have sour grapes because it wasn’t one of his media outlets behind it?

Brad Ruting writes: An interesting point from Michael Pascoe — although the lights were switched off, the coal-fired power stations kept running and kept belching out carbon dioxide. I’m sure Earth Hour had some impact on people’s environmental awareness (although presumably you’d already be aware of the problem and what needs to be done if you were prepared to switch off your lights for an hour). What surprised me most was a photo in Sunday’s Sun Herald of that newspaper being produced by candlelight in the Fairfax offices. Somehow there’s something just a little ironic about using a computer by candlelight and claiming to be saving energy.

Craig Cadby writes: Re. “Listen out for healthy forests while fanaticism spreads” (yesterday, item 6). I would argue that the term “global warming”, with its connotations of delightful summer weather, sounds less severe than the term “climate change”, which more succinctly describes what is happening on earth where the warming effect is just one of many phenomena being observed alongside others such as more frequent disastrous weather events, the collapse of the food chain, and the shut down of ocean currents (which could lead to global cooling).

Barry Chipman, Tasmanian State Manager, Timber Communities Australia, writes: Despite the attacks on Timber Communities Australia by the greenie rent a crowd led by Geoff Law (yesterday, comments) the facts remain that our Tasmanian pulp mill will have no impact whatsoever on the 1.8 million hectares of high quality wilderness that is already reserved in Tasmania. It will have no impact on the one million hectares of old growth forest reserved in Tasmania that is included in the 1.4 million hectares of forest cover reserved for conservation values, which stands at the mercy of the whims of mother nature. The future management of these conservation-valued forests should be the focus of the Wilderness Society — isn’t that supposed to be the target of their $11 million tax free budget? The wood source for the pulp mill will come from approved sustainably managed regrowth forest and plantations. Also what is totally surprising is the current claims that there has been insufficient time to assess the pulp mill and its Tamar Valley location. Pretty sure the developer announced the Tamar as the preferred site in February 2005. Some nine months before the RPDC announced the assessment panel in November 2005. Surely with draft guidelines for the IIS available in December 2004, we should have made it to the final stages by now, even allowing the normal time for the developer to respond to comment to their draft IIS, and to explain or improve the document.

An airport executive writes: Re. “Airline insecurity: welcome to the era of the moisturiser bomb” (Friday, item 5). While the zealotry about liquid explosives may indeed be a bit over the top (especially as the costs are 100% met by the passengers, not by Government or airlines), Australia cannot unilaterally refuse to implement these new measures because the United States would simply refuse aircraft from Australia or any other nation that does not apply them. Of greater interest is the fact that the new measures will kill the “off-airport” Duty Free business. Any liquid, aerosol or products not purchased after passing through security (“airside”) will be automatically confiscated under the new regulations. These off-airport Duty Free operators have suddenly seen the writing on the wall and are furiously lobbying the Federal Government and Airport operators to allow the process of “docket plucking” to occur in the Check-In area which would then allow passengers to pack their purchases in their checked-in luggage and thus avoid confiscation. The only trouble is, this would allow a gaping opportunity for the more artful passenger to have their docket plucked, and quietly hand their Duty Free goods to a friend who can simply take it home without the supposedly Duty Free product ever leaving the country. A nice little lurk!

Iain Dunstan writes: One big problem in trying to only carry on liquids/gels of under 100mls is that the smallest tube of toothpaste on the supermarket shelves is 110ml. Perhaps all the toiletry suppliers should produce a whole new line of air travel friendly products.

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Al Qaeda strikes again! Last weekend I flew Hong Kong – Shanghai. Good untampered bottle of Australian wine ($A45 in HK) plus a small airline size bottle of wine, half a tube of tooth paste and half a tube of after shave seized by security because of the new George W. Bush inspired “security” rules. Yet once you enter the departure lounge you can buy exactly the same goods again! The official replied to my protests that “she was only doing her job”. To which I replied testily that that’s what they said in Germany in the 1930s. I doubt if she understood my response. I should have bought a T-shirt which shows Osama Bin Laden superimposed over Dubya and just below below the sign “Mission Accomplished”. When are we going to stop this madness?

Dr Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Roll on the Budget” (Friday, item 11). An election is looming, and Christian once again has slipped back to the lazy stereotype of the “doctor’s wife”. I guess it just does not suit the right wing narrative to accept that doctors themselves are much more socially liberal than the “Howard battlers” to whom electoral victory is ascribed. That might imply that real people with real responsibilities disagree with him. Much easier to mock a soft target.

Gervase Greene writes: Re. “Monday expert: Stacks off the mill and the Thorpey slur” (yesterday, item 21). I take issue with Charles Happell’s otherwise solid piece in that he echoes the AFL mantra “speed=good”. (And no, this is not about the Ben Cousins tawdry saga). For decades — probably since coach Ron Barassi famously stole the 1970 Grand Final — we have been force-fed the idea the quicker the game, the better, and that therefore the rules should be tilted that way. Why? So every team can feature one full-back, one full-forward (if you’re lucky) and 16 whippet-like 190-cm automatons who run the designated corridors uber alles. The TV masters like it, as the game hurtles to the next ad break at twice the speed. But if you like key-position specialists, man-on-man contests and a place for the sublimely skilled fat person, find another code. The solution? Scrap unlimited interchange, by which the fittest team will usually beat the better one.

A credit union director writes: Re. Bank fees. As a director of a credit union (identity withheld) can I provide a bit of advice to Crikey readers who are suffering at the hands of banks. There are over 140 credit unions in Australia, each owned and controlled by their members. Whilst charging fees for services provided, your friendly credit union will generally provide you with a much better level of service, at a lower cost than the banks. Should you fall foul of any particular problem, you will find that your credit union administration will quickly resolve the issue. Not only will your credit union provide you with financial services, including transaction processing, cheques, credit cards etc, you may well find other services including financial planning, insurance etc which will be to your advantage. In most if not all cases, you will get a friendly human when you ring, and recourse in the event of unresolved problems is as far away as your directors. In most credit unions directors are generally accessible for member problems if these have not been satisfactorily solved by management. Try speaking to one of your big four bank directors if you have a problem!

Anthea Parry writes: Geoff Russell (yesterday, comments) took an amusing step backwards with this comment: “Anthea Parry correctly implies that the UK Medical Research Council study I mentioned doesn’t prove that red meat causes colorectal cancer (CRC).” When on Wednesday he was citing it as proof that “Kangaroo meat … causes colorectal cancer”. C’mon Geoff, you may think a vegan diet is better because it involves less killing of animals, but you can’t actually convince those of us who’ve researched it thoroughly that the diet we evolved to eat is anything less than an optimal diet. For every study you think supports the claim that meat is bad for you, I can find three that say sugar and refined grains are worse. Be honest about your motives, and you’ll probably get more converts.

Michael Hughes writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Guys, AUSTEO means Australian Eyes Only. Not inc US. The correct caveat is Aus/Us eyes only.

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