First Dog on the Moon and internet filtering:

Colin Jacobs writes: Love your work First Dog. I have more tea towels than an oil sheikh convention. For a lark I registered — it was bound to happen – and I’m going to point it at

Climate change and push polling:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Newspoll on ETS: a clear case of push polling?” (Yesterday, item 3). In her item Sophie Black quoted Erwin Jackson: “Over seventy per cent of people agree that taking action on climate change will create opportunities for new jobs and new clean energy industries.” Daily newspapers like The Australian as part of our national media arguably have a moral imperative to start informing the public about all these new opportunities and new industries.

Change is difficult and history tells us that if you want people to get what new stuff is about you have to start from stuff they already know about and build on it — and this takes time. But looking at the headlines, all we are getting from the newspapers is just the old stuff — lazy reporting that rehashes old arguments. Shame and a plague on all your (media) houses until you start giving front-page, headline coverage on a more regular basis to all the new, innovative stuff that’s out there, instead of the same tired old short-term doom-and-gloom about how people don’t want to pay more.

Your big business (vested interest) advertisers and owners might not like it, but you might paradoxically start selling more newspapers (print media being in decline worldwide) through sheer relevance.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey informs us that climate change “Is the real world, a world getting warmer and more climactically extreme at an alarming rate”. I’m just wondering how you square that statement with the pesky fact that the world has not warmed for almost 11 years now. I look forward to an explanation.


Shirley Colless writes: Re. “The Coca-Cola Chronicles: Big Sugar drops the other shoe” (yesterday, item 7). It seems, according to the its website, that APRA has the responsibility for controlling “wholly pre-produced, filmed and post-produced in Australia or New Zealand or partly in Australia and partly in New Zealand”. Does this mean that Big Sugar can go out of Australia to create advertisements promoting its product and then have those ads aired on Aus-TV, and thus circumvent APRA’s already wimpish idea of chickening out to Big Sugar?

Now, I use sugar. I love it in my cuppa. It’s nice on strawberries. I’m showing my product-manipulated age, there. But at least I determine how much sugar I use and how often I use it. Have you really, honestly tasted some of that muck that is laced with sugar and God alone knows what artificial flavours that passes as some breakfast cereals targeted at undiscriminating children? And to accuse the CHOICE consumer advocates of cooking the books? This has to be a major case of shooting the messengers.

Memo to Coca Cola: this old lady will not fall for your spin, will not buy your product and when the great great nieces and nephews come to visit they will be served with fruit juice and water.

Jonathan Tunn writes: Coca-Cola IS making progress. Their Kerry Armstrong-promoted “Make Every Drop Matter” website, crafted to tell us that one can of Coke contains nine teaspoons of sugar and is part of a balanced diet, has a reader Q&A section. On cocaine, their response to a web visitor — who strangely uses Coke promotional wordings in her question — is that cocaine “in a refined powder format” has never been added to Coca-Cola. Getting better guys, but will it really hurt to just tell us the truth?

David Griffin writes: Reading about Coke every day in Crikey is really bad for my teeth … it keeps making me thirsty.

Another bailout?

Julian Gillespie writes: Re. “Rundle08: history is clearing its throat” (yesterday, item 1). So here we go again — Svea Herbst-Bayliss reports in Reuters on Monday night that the Chairman of the US House Financial Services Committee that was instrumental in crafting the Bailout (TARP) legislation earlier this month, is now suggesting that another “stimulus package” is probably required. And what’s a central reason? The nine banks who recently received US$125 billion are holding on to the money and another US$125 billion is soon to go in the same dead-end direction;  to those banks and others with their hands-out.

Why? The US Treasury still does not make it a precondition that the recipients lend-it-on to Main St which they initially stated was the reason for direct funds injections — so who is suffering? Well only Main St of course as the Federal Reserve desperately tries to stick it’s finger in the dam by purchasing Commercial Paper from Main St businesses, a market that is proving hard for the Fed to manage as Commercial Paper rates continue to rise.

So let’s bet another more targeted “stimulus’ (read: rort) package gets placed on the table of Congress soon — but heaven knows where the next package will end-up –- but the odds are on that it won’t go where it should. Once again that good old déjà vu feeling wafts over me.

Burning stuff:

Geoff Russell writes: Re. “Fuel reduction burns not included in Australia’s C02 accounting” (yesterday, item 4). If you burn grassland and 12 months later the grass has returned, then there is no net change in carbon. If the grass is the same height, then the carbon content is the same. However during the burn, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are also generated. The carbon in the methane is effectively a carbon on steroids and traps heat far more effectively than if it was in CO2.

When the grass regrows, it doesn’t absorb any methane out of the sky, nor does it absorb nitrous oxide. So the emission of CH4 and N2O are not matched by absorption during plant growth. Hence these emissions during a fire are counted by our Greenhouse Office, but the CO2 emissions are ignored. If you look, for example, at the 2006 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, you will find CH4 and N2O entries for savannah burning, but no CO2 entries.

In the case of a forest fire, the CO2 emissions should (and would) only be counted if the nature of the forest is changed. If you create grassland by clearing, then the CO2 is counted in addition to the methane and nitrous oxide. As far as I can see, what the Australian Greenhouse Office does is perfectly clear and correct in principle — even if the estimation of fire gases is difficult.

Wilful writes: Lionel Elmore is an ignorant ass if he thinks fuel reduction burns are done for any reason other than protecting the forests and human lives. Everybody who knows anything about Australian forests knows that they are fire adapted and that fire is a fundamental part of the ecology of the ecosystem. If we were to not undertake fuel reduction burns, the only result would be bigger fires that emitted more carbon. Forests will inevitably burn.

Does he want massive fires in summer or controllable ones in spring and autumn? And he needs to educate himself about exactly why Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol isn’t adopted in Australia. There are some simple primers around, such as in the CPRS Green Paper, if he chose to look. The “Forest Industry” doesn’t claim 23Mt CO2-e sequestered a year, the international accounting rules state that.


Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Yuendumu to Macklin: ‘We don’t want this intervention'” (yesterday, item 6). Well said Harry Nelson. I appreciate your problem — asking the big white-fellah camp at Canberra to share some of their ill gotten gains. It’s all very well for their camp to have everything that opens and shuts, but I’m sorry Harry, they’re not very sharing people in Canberra. In fact Harry, barring just a few, they’re a total bloody embarrassment.

I’m a white fellah too Harry, but I totally disown those clamouring, egotistical no-hopers, who masquerade as our elected deputies. They’ve had aeons to sort out your people’s problems, to engender a national respect, but instead they’ve politicised and demeaned and slandered about endlessly while achieving nothing. I think we should close the joint Harry, I mean, we’ve got State Governments and local councils, really they’re just a fringe extra the nation can’t afford — a bunch of irrelevant show ponies, tools, idiots, wasters.

Yes, it’s a sad day Harry, when a mob like yours gets treated like this. That last lot were real bad Harry, real bad, and this new lot, well they’re not much better.

Palm Island:

John Mair writes: Re. “The black and white of a Palm Island tragedy” (Monday, item 6). I’ve often taken Chris Graham to task but I stand up and applaud him for exposing the Palm Island atrocity. I attended the Brisbane Writers Festival a month ago where Chloe Hooper spoke about her book on the incident, The Tall Man. To my amazement she said next to nothing about the truth of the matter. Perhaps she was afraid the Queensland Police would be listening.


Dan Willis writes: Re. “Prosecutors have never had it so good” (yesterday, item 17). I assume that when Greg Barns was referring to “Chris Cowdery” he actually meant Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, the current NSW DPP. That aside, I find it quite disingenuous to say that the various state DPPs have “never had it so good”. Perhaps Greg should have a closer look at the onerous rules surrounding crown disclosure and submission of evidence before he makes what is a very sweeping statement.

In NSW in particular the ODPP has had its funding slashed repeatedly and been told to simply “make do”. The fact that Mr Cowdery has stood up regularly for the integrity of NSW justice system against successive populist law and order witch-hunts has only deepened the enmity between him and Sussex Street. Other state DPPs are also struggling. Not many announcables in putting crooks behind bars, only hard work and plenty of bashing from all sides.


Mark Reynolds writes: Martyn Riddle (24 October, comments), you will find the Caltex website gives you all the detail you need to estimate an accurate Australian price for petrol from Singapore price plus exchange rate, shipping, wharfage, excise, margin and GST. My model says we should have paid about $1.65 a litre back in July when crude was US$140 a barrel and the Aussie was fetching 95 cents. Today with crude at US$65 and a 60 cent exchange rate I estimate we should be paying about $1.40 at the pump, which is about what I see happening. There’s no conspiracy, just a two week delay time while price changes flow through the “pipeline”.

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