Russia v Georgia:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Rundle 08: Russia bombs the theme park of American supremacy” (Friday, item 5). Keith Perkins (Friday, comments) is clearly fired up about the criticism of Russia. I do not hate Russia but find its actions disproportionate and unhelpful. Russia has united Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in active support of Georgia. I know Georgia has not got clean hands, but Russia’s intervention benefits Russia by adding to its own territory. Kosovo intervention against Serbia only benefited Kosovars and prevented genocide. Russian support for Milosevic, Karadzic, Saddam Hussein, and currently Sudan and Mugabe has perpetuated genocides and/or repression. Its previously subtle military operations against Georgia are part of a pattern too. The slight on the US added little value. Without US action humanitarian intervention in Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia would not have happened. Russia with all its resources should have the highest living standards in the world, it doesn’t because it wishes to dominate rather than trade and engage. Russia would make God cry.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Guy Rundle states that “trying to join NATO when you (Georgia) lie at the base of Russia is criminally stupid. The only realistic strategy is Finlandisation — adopting strict neutrality, recognising that your domestic politics have to take account of your neighbour’s interests…” Thus in Guy’s world-view when you live next to a big, mean bully you should just submit. And if you do get beaten up, then it’s your fault. Thugs like Hitler, Stalin, Brezhnev and now Putin probably assume that Guy’s attitude is widespread in the democracies so their fat, lazy citizens won’t lift a finger to help places like Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and now Georgia. They are wrong, of course, and so is Guy.

Keith Perkins writes: Further to the Georgian disaster, which will forever be known as Saakashvili’s miscalculation, has anyone given a thought to what George Bush’s response might have been to the Georgian army’s quite unexpected, and unwarranted attack on South Ossetia, which resulted in the death of over 2000 South Ossetians, had Russia not reacted the way it did?

Chris Wilkinson writes: Re. “Rundle08: Russia moves, America gets the leaders it deserves” (14 August, item 6). I’m reading Guy Rundle’s take on the Georgia-Russia conflict and, as a pedantic nitpicker, I do take umbrage at the following: “Shakasvilli — I can’t be a-sed checking the spelling, someone ask Salushinzsky”. I may be wrong but I infer that Guy Rundle was referring to Imre Saluszinski at the end of his comment — Guy at this time obviously is not inclined to check spelling. As far as I am aware, there is only one Saluszinski in White Pages on-line in Australia (an on-line tool I regularly use). My umbrage is that this proclaimed disinterest in spelling names correctly is discourteous and unjournalistic to both the Georgian leader and to Imre. Further, if Guy’s reference is indeed to Imre, then why does he think that Imre would actually be the Georgian expert on political leaders’ names? Imre grew up in a working-class suburb of Melbourne and is a (pathetically) hard-core Hawthorn supporter (but, gee the Hawks seem to be going OK this season). I write this as an occasional drinking partner with Imre – my politics are middle class soft-left of a person who lives in about the safest Liberal federal and state seats in Australia. The sort of person whom Imre would rail against in his right-wing musings. Imre’s a funny guy! Guy — if you are happy to have your name misspelt then please announce that I can address you as Gay RamDell with no concern for people to check the spelling.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “McCain comes out fighting on Georgia” (14 August, item 17). Charles Richardson is drawing a long bow by linking the Americans’ one-sided view of the conflict in Georgia to their Civil War experience. America has not been consistently against secession. America’s foreign policy, however, has been aimed at encroaching on Russia’s notional sphere of influence, and the American media is so used to bewailing “Russian aggression” they don’t even think about it.

The Olympics:

Jim Gobert writes: Re. “Not all the great Olympics stories are Australian ones” (Friday, item 13). I am an Australian citizen , currently in China and thought would pass on some comments — every Olympic event is streamed live, for free, on the internet here in high resolution (there must be over 50 live channels) and when the event is finished, it is stored on the server and you can access it as many times as you like. I can watch every event an Australian has participated in as many times as I like for free (It may be possible to access in Australia (if you can read Chinese) on The service is excellent — far better than the crappy internet service in Australia and the commentary (translated for me by friends) is superb — when Phelps won the medley yesterday, the Chinese commentators spoke at length about what a great athlete he is and talked about his family who were there in Beijing to see him. So sad I could not enjoy this standard at my home in Australia — the Seven coverage I am told is very poor! A lot is mentioned in Australian press about empty seats at venues… I don’t know if this is often the case but I have met a few Chinese national colleagues here in Kunming who bought Olympic tickets at low prices but now can’t afford the three to six months salary it costs to travel to Beijing and pay the exorbitant travel and accommodation charges.

Mitchell Holmes writes: Sorry Charles Happell, the story of Italy’s champion fencer Valentina Vezzali was prominently covered by Channel Seven. Seven showed an approximate two minute montage, complete with story cards, telling the Olympic tale of Ms Vezzali. They even compared her feat of three successive Olympic gold medals to the achievement of Roman Gods. I saw it aired twice in the two days before Friday.

Peter Costello aka Banquo’s ghost:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “The Costello diaries Part 3: Election night 2007” (Friday, item 6). Walter Slurry, like most Costellogists, has been obsessed with Peter’s similarities with Hamlet because they have been mired in the past. However, commentators focusing on the present have realised that Peter now resembles Banquo’s ghost. But another scene from Macbeth suggests Costello has a natural future. Alas, there are only two costumes but we need three Witches. Problem solved — we’ll cast Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, and Bronwyn Bishop.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the natural things we throw,
Calcium to grow his spine,
Vitamin E for heart of lion,
Ginkgo give him balls red hot,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble. 

Clare Martin, Joan Kirner and elections:

Len Keating writes: Re. “Wayne Worladge” (Friday, comments). Bernard Keane’s comment that “Clare Martin was the first female State or Territory leader elected outside the ACT” is correct, Wayne Worladge. Joan Kirner may have been premier of Victoria, but she was never elected to the position. She was elevated to the position by her party after her predecessor, John Cain, courageously departed the scene, having decided the mess he had made of Victoria was beyond his powers to put right. The minute the electors of Victoria were given a chance to pass judgement on Mrs. Kirner, they terminated her premiership with extreme prejudice. Carmen Lawrence also preceded Clare Martin as leader of an Australian state or territory, but she too was elevated by the party, and she too was rejected by the electorate at the first opportunity. The hard men of the ALP have some form in putting ALP women in positions of power only when the situation is beyond redemption, and defeat at the next election is inevitable

Jeremy Davis writes: If Wayne Worladge had read a little further down the page on Wikipedia, he’d have seen that Kirner wasn’t elected to the Premiership. She became Premier on John Cain’s resignation in August 1990 by virtue of the fact she was the current Deputy Premier. In any event this was six months after Carmen Lawrence took up the WA premiership following the resignation of Peter Dowding. So Joan wasn’t even the first female Premier, popularly elected or not. Clare Martin was the first elected female head of Government outside the ACT (the government of Chief Minister Rosemary Follett was elected in ’89).

Alf Bock writes: Wayne Worladge wrote that Bernard Keane got it wrong when he stated Clare Martin was the first female elected leader of a State or Territory outside the ACT. Wayne notes that Joan Kirner was Premier of Victoria. Indeed she was, as was Carmen Lawrence Premier of WA, but neither was elected as Premier – both came to power after the elected Premier – John Cain and Peter Dowding respectively – resigned/retired midterm. Both were defeated at the next election. So Bernard was right.

Paul Collier writes: Re. “NT most politically correct ministry in Oz” (14 August, item 3). Bernard Keane may well laud the NT most politically correct ministry in Oz, but in ticking off the various minority groups and their representation, Bernard reveals the familiar blinkered attitudes that are so widespread in the media and government alike in Australia. Where, may I ask, are the representatives of the 20% of Australians who have a disability? The palpable lack of representation is a huge reason why our political masters continue to ignore the massive crisis that is overwhelming so many individuals and families who have to deal with our archaic services on a daily basis — ably abetted by a media that is incapable of treating disability as a serious subject. Disabled people are routinely treated as objects of pity and charity or as superhuman heroes, in either case they “inspirational”. It’s all crap, of course. Disabled people are just like everyone else, and simply want to be treated likewise. But when, for example, did you last see a disabled person as a regular character on Australian television?

A concerned NT resident writes: In Thursday’s Crikey Bernard Keane called Adam Giles “CLP’s first indigenous MLA”. That is not correct — Hyacinth Tungutalum was elected to the Northern Territory legislative assembly in 1974.

Cubbie Station:

Rory Treweeke writes: Re. “Murray-Darling: Cubby Station has to go first” (Friday, item 14). The river that Cubbie Station diverts water from is the Culgoa, not the Darling as identified in the photos.

WA politics:

Richard Lawson writes: Re. “WA poll: Barnett falters on daylight and the shops” (Friday, item 18). Out here in the West, we are used to being either ignored or ridiculed by national media, and sure, we’re a bit backwards with our attitudes to daylight saving and shopping hours (etc., etc.) But your use of Crichton-Browne as a WA correspondent is a cruel and unusual punishment. Perhaps you could get Burkie in for a bit of Liberal/Labor “balance”? I hear he also has some spare time these days. But seriously, please stop it now.

Black swans:

Tim Thomas writes: Re. “Video: Open season on black swans in Victoria” (14 August, item 16). This emotional video and the response to it, illustrates the lack of understanding of how ecosystems work. The basic principal of ecology is that all life is produced in excess and the excess dies. Without this fundamental principal evolution could not occur and a species could not expand into new areas if new habitat becomes available. The population of a water bird species maturing in one year and producing six offspring has the potential to increase four fold each year. Clearly even in an average year large numbers of individuals die, usually before reaching maturity. In a bad year the available habitat will contract and there is nowhere for the excess population to go, whether or not they are “culled” or die of starvation won’t make any difference. Now, if farmland and parks are effectively integrated, by farmland being made wildlife friendly with areas of native vegetation being protected and connected with corridors, then an inevitable and desirable consequence of a healthier ecosystem is that there will be excess native animals. This will mean that some species of native animals will need to be “culled”, as is the case in parks without predators. The only alternative would be to change the natural laws that govern life on earth and turn wilderness into a kind of petting zoo. City dwellers are not immune to this either. When a house has excess possums in the roof, these are trapped and relocated. Typically relocated possums are dead within two to three weeks of starvation and exposure. Out of sight out of mind I suppose.


John Richardson writes: Re. “CASA Qantas probe ‘not looking pretty’” (Friday, item 1). Ben Sandilands says that Qantas has never been fined a cent by the Australian regulator over any safety related issue. It would seem that the regulator has about as much credibility as Geoff Dixon when, shortly before retiring, he attempted to evidence the exercise of management leadership and restraint at Qantas, by indignantly pointing out that his $6.5million salary was subject to a “wage freeze”.


Magnus Vikingur writes: Re. “Foxtel” (14 August, comments). Since the introduction of Foxtel HD there is a noticeable difference in the resolution of the existing SD channels. It is of a lower quality than free to air digital. Has Foxtel reduced the resolution and increased compression to allow more room for the increase of bandwidth needed for HD? If that’s the case, how about a decrease in subscription rates for us plebs who choose not to have HD?

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