Malcolm “Macbeth” Turnbull:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Four Corners shock revelation: Malcolm Turnbull had hair!” (Yesterday, item 7). Bernard Keane is wrong in his veiled criticism of Malcolm Turnbull for his “eclectic choice of careers.” Politicians ought not to enter parliament until they have something worthwhile to contribute. Experience in the law, journalism and business are useful attributes. Bernard’s other low blow was criticism of Turnbull for marrying Tom Hughes’ daughter. Lucy obviously thinks Malcolm was a good catch and he certainly appears to be a good husband and father. He didn’t marry money, he made it himself. Ambition should be admired. Furthermore, Bernard ought to judge Turnbull by his actions, not his faith. Also, senior Liberals shouldn’t be surprised that Turnbull “thinks he should be leader.” After all, he was the first to apply for the job after Costello threw in the towel. Finally, what Rudd and Turnbull both want out of politics is to improve Australia. Each of them has sincere beliefs and values. Becoming PM is the way to implement their agenda. Only Peter Costello wanted to be the PM for the sake of personal kudos.

Katherine Stuart writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “The story about him breathlessly protecting Australian democracy by shopping Kerry Packer’s plans for Fairfax sounds good and won’t hurt Turnbull, but I think we knew he was a ruthless business operator as well.” I’m sorry, but did we view the same Four Corners last night? The message I and many of my friends got loud and clear from that particular revelation was not that Turnbull was ‘breathlessly protecting Australian democracy” but rather that he was exacting the kind of revenge worthy of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (hence the admittedly somewhat clunky reference to “the winter of Malcolm’s tent” at the beginning of the programme) — any services to democracy being a by-product at best. Mr and Ms Public might not rightly understand what precisely the phrase “that’s politics” means — a phrase bandied around a lot by Liberal politicians these days like it was Teflon. But it sounds an awful lot like “that’s showbiz” — all well and good on the stage, but I don’t think we want Macbeth-types running the country — or even the Opposition … beause we know how that turned out.

Fairfax slashes jobs:

James Burke writes: Re. “Fairfax to slash 5% of full time workforce” (yesterday, item 1). David Kirk assures the public that his staff cuts won’t hurt the quality of journalism at Fairfax. The quality of Fairfax journalism has fallen so far already under his stewardship — note yesterday’s SMH front page requiring FOUR journalist by-lines to cover a domestic violence incident involving another NRL boofhead — that any further fall would be almost unnoticeable. I hate the new media revolution — like most technological change, it diminishes humanity — but I recognise the inevitable. I’ll keep my Crikey subscription and pass up Fairfax from now on, methinks.

Nick Hodge writes: Re. “Fairfax suffering from anti-employee management?” (Yesterday, item 15). In Glenn Dyer’s item he states “Some might suggest that the company start at the top of the corporate tree and work down from the CEO, David Kirk, his deputy, Brian McCarthy (who wants to be boss) and even lower, especially Don Churchill in Melbourne.” The first step would be to get rid of the concept of “deputies” and wipe a layer of overhead … sounds so 1960s management. That or Wild West town. Or maybe a little of both mixed together? Oh, what does a Deputy actually do?

Gavin Robertson writes: Today, item one, Sophie Black quotes from Fairfax press release in saying “approximately 30% of the redundancies affect editorial staff in Australia and New Zealand (and for New Zealand this includes staff already affected by the previously announced editorial project in subediting).” By the time we get to story 15, Glenn Dyer is speculating that “The 550 losses announced today appear to be in addition to those (resulting from) Fairfax centralising its subbing and production processes in NZ.” Do you not share press releases with each other? Maybe you could take pity on a redundant Fairfax employee and give them a job checking the “facts” that appear in your publication?

Crikey’s aviation coverage:

Mitchell Holmes writes: Contrary to Nicolas Brasch (yesterday, comments), I do value Ben Sandilands’s articles. With the stories of serious aircraft breakdowns, consistently ignored maintenance and the decay of air traffic control oversight in this country we are dealing with a lot more serious issues than simply late arrivals. This is more akin to serious infrastructure meltdown. With the raft of stories in recent times, I will be much more careful in the future about a) whether or not I fly and b) with whom.

Peter Fields writes: Crikey, and Ben Sandilands, deserve great praise for keeping Qantas’s, and the regulator’s, misadventures and shortcomings published and followed up; a complete contrast to the rest of the media, who don’t alert us to the reality, and when they do publish appear to accept spin and uncritically propagate it. Keep the stories coming. Your pressure may yet force corrective action which could save lives. To those who grizzle about the frequency of “horror” stories I say: The life saved may well be yours.

Colin Hill writes: I hope Ben Sandilands’s stories regarding Qantas do keep appearing in great numbers about our now greatly tarnished mess of an airline. Crikey is the only place to get any truth about the matter as Geoff Dixon and his cronies have so many mates in high places that anything that is wrong with the airline gets spun into non existence in the mainstream press. Keep up the pressure, before they have even more incidents, as the inevitable “big one” that the Qantas culture of corporate greed will eventually lead to….and crucify these arrogant bastards when they do!

The Olympics:

Lloyd Lacey writes: Re. “The real Olympic medal tally” (Monday, item 1). My analysis of the Team Great Britain results, based on the bios of the athletes from the Beijing Olympics official website shows what I suspected: that we can usually beat England, as well as New Zealand, on a level playing field. While the Brits were one up on Oz in the overall totals (47 to 46) — the Team GB medals comprised contributions from a few athletes with non-England origins, as follows: Scotland five, Wales four, USA three, Belgium two (both gold) with Greece, Zimbabwe and South Africa one representative each. So that makes it England 30, Australia 46 in my book. And yes, that is three competitors of USA origin — all in the rowing. One in the gold medal winning four, with the GB silver medal winning Eight having two members from the USA and one each from Greece and Zimbabwe. As much Team UN as Team GB, it would seem.

Colin the Whale:

John Kilkenny writes: Re. “The Crikey Ethicist: Colin the baby whale and we the people” (yesterday, item 8). While John Armstrong is entitled to his cynical interpretation and leaving aside the suspicion that “Melbourne Business School Philosopher” is an oxymoron, it is not surprising that the fate of the baby whale has made such a large impact. It relates to the Aristotelian dictum that true tragedy contains both pity and terror. Pity because of the extreme helplessness of the baby animal and its mistaken and ineffectual attempts to suckle at a moored yacht. And terror because it reminds us that despite all our scientific achievements we are unable to save the whale and our own end is likely to be as painful, squalid and inescapable.


Brian Crooks writes: Re. “eBay turns to the dark side” (yesterday, item 20). Further to your article on eBay, customers should be made aware of PayPal’s so called buyer security cover of up to $20,000 cover, as a customer who has spent around $150,000 over the last three years, on PayPal’s advice, I always used PayPal to pay for big cost items, thinking I would be covered in the event of a seller not delivering an item after payment, well when I did not receive a quad bike ordered and paid for through PayPal, I was very upset when I received only $500, instead of the $3,550 owed to me. I found it very difficult to contact them, even though I had followed their directions regarding a claim, just conflicting emails from them even though they accepted my claim, they have not refunded the balance. They just keep asking me to submit the claim again and again…


John Richardson writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 10). Well might we worry about the health of Asif Ali Zardari, should he become President of Pakistan? But even if dementia, depression and post-traumatic stress are illnesses likely to make Zardani more prone to the use of nuclear weapons, he is hardly likely to be any bigger risk to the planet than the sociopath, war criminal, pathological liar and thief currently resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Fox News:

Terence Hogan writes: Re. Video of the Day, “Anti-war protesters menace intrepid Fox News reporter” (yesterday, clickthroughs). Once I’d picked myself up and wiped away the tears of laughter I found myself wondering whether Rupert ever realises just how lame and bubble-brained Fox News so often appears. And how cheerfully inane they are in presenting this image. I mean you’d think that if he knew then he would do something about it, wouldn’t he? Well he would… wouldn’t he?


Justin Templer writes: I read Paul Gilchrist’s comment on World Youth Day (yesterday, comments) again and again in an attempt to gain insight on the subtle workings of his mind. Finally, exhausted, I podiumed — and, Paul, you have a fine mind and you’re right. The AJC says that the turf at Randwick has been returned in good condition. What more do those whingers and naysayers need to know?

Old Trots:

Eric Ellis writes: In giving David Begg a “political history lesson”, Alex Mitchell (yesterday, comments) writes that Leon Trotsky was assassinated by the KGB in Mexico in 1940. Not quite, Alex. The man who smashed an icepick into the original “old Trot’s” head in Mexico City was the Cuban-Catalan communist Ramon Mercader, working for the feared NKVD, the Russian acronym for the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. The NKVD was later broken up and bits of it ended up in the KGB, as it absorbed other parts of Moscow’s intelligence apparatus to become the umbrella body for Soviet spooks. The KGB as the world now knows it was officially formed in 1954, 14 years after Mercader killed Trotsky in Mexico City. It was officially dissolved, along with the USSR, in 1991. Its functions are today served by the Federal Security Bureau, modern Russian spookery from the Cheka to the FSB clearly being a work in progress. I knew being a Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendship University old boy would come in handy one day.

Steve Robinson writes: Contra Alex Mitchell — whilst some on the left like to embrace the idea that Trotsky was a warm hearted soul devoted to the masses I would like to remind Alex that it was Trotsky who led the brutal suppression of the Kronstadt Sailors asserting they would “be shot like pigeons” if they refused to surrender. The Kronstadt sailors had the temerity to ask that, inter alia, the workers councils be freed from the control of the Bolsheviks, that leftist groups other than the Bolsheviks be allowed to operate freely, that peasants be allowed control of as much land as they could cultivate by themselves and that freedom of speech be allowed. During the revolution a few years earlier these same sailors has played a vital role in securing victory and yet Trotsky, without hesitation, turned the full might of the secret police and army against them. As much as I dislike historical “what ifs” I very much doubt that this history of Soviet Russia would have been much different if Trotsky had succeeded Lenin instead of Stalin. Trotsky had already shown himself to be more interested in maintaining power at any cost than devolving power to the people. Furthermore Trotsky also went on to play a leading role in the suppression of the Makhnovist revolt in the Ukraine — another popular uprising of the left against the Bolshevik hegemony.

Alan Kennedy writes: It’s great when old trots fall out isn’t it… Alex left out the always fascinating use of the ice pick by that good old boy from Catalan Ramon Mercader, Lest the historically challenged think Leon got a bum wrap and was just a nice old bloke eking out a modest retirement in Mexico City. He too had all the homicidal tendencies of the bloke who had him bumped off old Uncle Jo. Leon’s great regret in life is that he wasn’t able to do to Jo what Jo finally did to him. Sad to see Stalin being revived in Putin’s Russia as a wonderful leader. The bloke murdered more people than Adolf and was marginally more unstable. He is up there with Pol Pot as one of the most despicable characters we have ever seen. What is the world coming to?

Obama alleged assassins vs. Vanilla Ice:

Michael Tunn writes: Re. “Breaking news: Four arrested in plot to kill Obama“. Look and compare alleged Obama assassin Tharin Gatrell and Vanilla Ice’s infamous mug shot.

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