Rudd and China:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “And let’s stop tiptoeing around an issue at the heart of all this. Rudd’s oft-proclaimed Sinophilia means he must have strong connections with a brutal dictatorship that, as events in Tibet are currently demonstrating, savagely suppresses dissent and imprisons and executes its opponents.” Okay but what does he proposed should happen now? A trade embargo, perhaps a boycott of the Beijing Olympics? It is all very well hiking up the cross bar for pollies but you really need to have a go at explaining and justifying the likely consequences before you can expect them to take the proverbial running jump. And just where does this drive for moral purity end? A boycott of the US and UK over the Iraq debacle?

Steve Martin writes: I am no apologist for the Chinese government but according to the early ABC reports of the disturbances in Lhasa – demonstrators, rioters, or whatever were attacking and burning ethnic Chinese shops when the authorities intervened. In all probability very heavily over reacting, but none the less intervention would certainly have occurred anywhere in the world under the circumstances. No doubt the Chinese migrants to Tibet are deeply resented by the locals as they appear to be discriminated against by the Chinese authorities, but no authority would stand idly by when looting and rioting is occurring.

Colin Jacobs, on behalf of the entire readership, writes: I hereby unilaterally declare a moratorium on badly-photoshopped Kevin Rudd Maoist propaganda. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Guy Rundle in the US:

Pádraig Collins, an Irishman, formerly of Boston, now of Sydney, writes: Guy Rundle usually gets America spot on, but he is very wrong in today’s description that Boston “is about the most liberal big capital in the nation”. Guy is confusing voting Democrat with being liberal. All of Boston’s, and all of Massachusetts’, federal politicians are Democrat. The Governor is a Democrat, as is Boston’s mayor. In the Massachusetts state government 141 out of 160 members of the House of Representatives are Democrats, along with 35 of the 40 seats in the Senate. Yes, Boston and Massachusetts vote almost exclusively Democrat, more so than people in any other US city or state. But they are not liberal. Up til the recent past books, films, plays and exhibitions were so often banned in Boston that the phrase became synonymous with having mildly racy content. Catholics of Irish and Italian origin (not the most liberal people in the world) have long dominated politics in Massachusetts. To gain that power initially they went to the Democrats as opposed to the Whigs – the party favoured by the Puritans who had previously dominated Massachusetts politics. The Irish and Italians have stuck with the Democrats for more than a century because doing so brought them political power and employment – where do you think the cliché of the Irish cop came from?

John Taylor writes: I don’t know the timing but somewhere soon I would expect you to nominate Guy Rundle for whatever the highest level of Walkley Award is for his 2008 body of work, not only in relation to the US Presidential elections but for his coverage and comments on US society, conditions, everything. His article today summed up the state of the union far better than anything their President has had to say recently. His is currently the go-to item daily in your newsletter.

Chris Hunter writes: I’m interested in Guy Rundle’s prediction of a “fundamental grouping” taking place in “atomised” American communities. His twilight picture of Ohio struck me as being similar to any stressed out aboriginal community — a shared pathological boredom. Young people make trouble just to change things — anyone gifted with an imagination would. But if this stage of “grouping” is still someway off in America then how depressing is this for Australia? Is this nightmare compulsory?

Gabriel McGrath writes: Wow. Another awesome article from Guy Rundle. Crikey – please do “whatever you can” to keep him writing these.

Market predators:

Peter Burnett writes: Re. “Kohler: Nothing can save us from the market predators” (yesterday, item 3). Alan Kohler says nothing can save us from market predators and that we have to learn to live with them: “When I was young, everybody walked to school; nowadays most kids are driven because the streets are perceived to be more dangerous. The world has quietly adapted to a new perception of danger.” But why do we have to “quietly” adapt? Are those perceptions of danger valid or over-hyped by interest groups? Does the fact that we’ve now got a lot of fat, unhealthy kids have any impact on our risk assessment of walking to school? Why pander to the car lobby when with a bit of collective activity, you can organise groups of kids to walk together in safety? Don’t want to carry the analogy too far, but you get the idea – why the hell do we want to “quietly adapt” as the US Fed uses taxpayer funds to bail out a bunch of private equity bankers and stock market speculators?

Chequebook journalism:

Chris Phillips writes: Re. “New lows in chequebook journalism — a Crikey list” (yesterday, item 17). As long as we have this unhealthy obsession with celebrities we will continue to have chequebook journalism. It seems to be a reflection on society now that we have to live vicariously. It’s the fault of the public that seem to feed off this trash and the publications are only supplying a market that wants it. Perhaps a psychologist can explain it. To me it hints of low self esteem.

Graham Davis writes: Seven’s Witness paid Gordon Wood for the celebrated Paul Barry interview in which Wood denied he’d killed the Sydney model Caroline Byrne. Amount unknown but the payment enabled Wood to leave the country soon afterwards. Since forced to return to Australia, he’s been charged with Byrne’s murder and is on bail awaiting trial. Few payments in the history of Australian journalism have been so reprehensible in that it helped put Wood out of the reach of local investigators, who were obliged to pursue him in Europe.

Cricket:

Rowen Cross writes: Re. “Cricket gets the makeover everyone feared” (yesterday, item 16). Why is a league that brings the cream of international cricketers together to play in super-teams at the highest level such a bad thing? World football has worked on a similar model for years, and the sport has benefited hugely. The international sporting body FIFA co-exists with the leagues by designating periods during which international fixtures are scheduled and no league games take place. It is only a matter of time until the IPL and the ICB will go down this path, and I don’t see it as a problem.

Organ donation:

Kate Newton writes: One’s decision about organ donation is not a matter of “choice to control the body beyond the grave” as Charles Gillam (Monday, comments) so lyrically puts it. Rather it is an issue of agreeing in advance to one’s instant removal and dissection at a technically-defined moment of “brain death” in a hospital bed. Surrounded by (with a bit of luck) a posse of grieving relatives and friends. I doubt it is religion that makes us queasy, just eternal terrors, and attachment to the loved one who is to be whipped away under our very noses right at the crucial moment of “loosing the mortal coil”. Inhuman! Then there are those stories about surgical patients who come to under anesthetic… The fact is, while these dedicated transplant boffins have been rabbiting away in the lab, we’ve all got convinced to be individuals (or consumers anyway) not a collection of spare parts. And we’re not going to die or need additional body bits. Well, not yet. Not ever, hopefully. It’s an enigma. And Dr God is dead too. Never mind putting to us the opt-out option (I’ve had it with options, puts, and selling shorts!). Someone’s got a lot of PR work to do.

Grow up:

Marcus Strom writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey wrote: “Meanwhile, Heather Mills has been given $52 million in her divorce settlement from Paul McCartney, which just goes to show what an eye for value Eliot Spitzer had.” Where do you get off with misogynist rubbish like this? Grow up.

Y2K and climate change:

Doug Melville writes: John Bowyer (yesterday, comments) wrote: “If the Y2K was a problem it would have to be your ‘scientists and engineers’ although I am sure you actually mean computer programmers who would have actually caused it but there was no problem!” Well John, I hope you had a wonderful New Year 2000, I was one of the poor saps who saw in the New Millennium alone and stone cold sober, as I was on standby in my office in case something unaccounted for went wrong (along with thousands of other “geeks” aka “highly-paid consultants” in offices across the country). In the three years leading up to 2000, I led a team which debugged and amended thousands of lines of code, checked chips in doors, lifts etc. Had it not been for the amount of work we put in before the event, there would have been some huge issues. Thanks to the work we put in, there were relatively few and those were minor, (as identified by the extensive risk analysis program). If the work had not been done, I can tell you that at least one Victorian council would have started issuing notices for 2000 years worth of rates, the main doors to the council building would not have opened, and none of our staff (numbering several hundred) could have been paid. Luckily this was in a relatively “non-vital’ area. I can only imagine the implications for organisations such as CASA, Emergency Services etc.

Mark Hardcastle writes: Can John Bowyer produce evidence to support his extraordinary claim of scientific ozone fraud? Then again, would the use of scientifically derived evidence undermine the logic of his argument? Regarding the perceived link between Y2K bugs and climate change, this is surely a desperate analogy. Perhaps those who advance this link could list the volumes of scientific peer reviewed publications on the Y2K bug that are so similar to the science of climate change? Better analogies to climate science would be the science that led to action to restrict sewerage contamination of drinking water, toxic run-off and residues, heavy mental and dioxin pollution, air pollution, acid rain, asbestos exposure, radiation exposure, habitat/ecosystem destruction, and yes- CFC induced ozone depletion.

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Peter Fray

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