Palm Island:

Paul Lucas writes: Re. “Palm Island: Tallying the injuries between black and white” (yesterday, item 12). I usually skip over your indigenous affairs stories because of the obvious taint contained in them, but unfortunately your latest edition’s story regarding Palm Island by Chris Graham caught my eye. There were too many amazing statements included in the piece to list here, but surely the most extreme of these was: “Palm Island police did show restraint. They had guns, they could have used them. But Aboriginal people also showed restraint….. They could have killed every cop in sight”. The statement, which like many others published in Crikey, perpetuates the idea that Indigenous Australians have the right to live by presumably their own laws and values, even if they be outside not only Australian laws, but the laws of common decency. The last time I checked, they don’t. I know you have a target demographic to cater for, but please, a little balance would be appreciated.

Chris Graham writes: Yesterday I wrote a piece for Crikey about a Queensland police officer’s over-dramatisation of the Palm Island tragedy. In it, I took a brief swipe at the author of the story from The Australian, Michael McKenna. My comments, on reflection, were unfair. While claims in the story were simply false (or grossly exaggerated), McKenna was simply reporting what a police
officer told him. It would also be unfair not to note that The Australian’s reporting generally on this issue has been outstanding, and that McKenna has long been a part of that. My understanding is that both the lefties and the copper have had a shot at McKenna over his reporting on this issue, which I’d concede suggests he’s done a fairly good job so far.

Israel loves Obama:

Robert Johnson writes: Re. “Rundle08: Joe the Plumber campaigns. What’s next? Fluoride?” (Yesterday, item 2). There must be an electoral advantage in exploiting voter ignorance in the US, and Joe the Plumber is onto it in scaring people that a vote for Obama is bad news for Israel. But he should be telling the Israelis. Working in Jerusalem earlier this month, I couldn’t help but notice the huge preferencing in the Jewish areas for Obama, lots of posters and banners urging a vote for Obama, newspaper ads, and hard to see much support for McCain. I didn’t notice such banners in Ramallah, although it was clear that those in the Palestinian Authority I met with who hold US citizenship are also voting for Obama. Poor McCain, who’s surely more likely than his out-of-control VP team to know this, is a bit wedged in attracting Jewish votes. More importantly, though, does an Obama victory give an electoral mandate for socialism? Obama’s denials notwithstanding, Palin/Joe/FOX etc are surely building the case.

The environment and the economy:

Trevor Best writes: Re. “Government in a FiT of confusion over carbon abatement” (yesterday, item 11). Surely big losers from a carbon trading scheme will be Coca-Cola, Schweppes et al, who actually manufacture CO2 and sell it in cans? Are people really still buying this stuff?

John Blakefield writes: Would some clever ecological economist pundit tell us the figure we need to aim for so that the depression of economic activity around the world does the job of reducing CO2 etc to the level we should be at in, say, July 2010. It would be a pity to overshoot.

Deceitful posturing on banks:

Stephen Matthews writes: Re. “Why turning mortgage funds into banks is bunkum” (yesterday, item 20). Glenn Dyer’s piece refers to the “bureaucratic doublespeak”. I’d prefer to call the PM’s ardent posturing on TV on Tuesday night as deceitful. Any 3rd grade APRA analyst can confirm that the intricacies involved in obtaining from the Treasurer a license to conduct banking business in accordance with the Banking Act 1959 will require the submission of plans, people, process, procedures … and paid in capital of $50m. It could not conceivably be done within six months without such a serious compromising of protocol and the consequent trashing of Australia’s reputation as bastion of banking rectitude. PM Rudd might fool the public with this disingenuous offer of $83m to APRA to “expedite” the process but he hasn’t fooled me.

What was the point?:

Catherine James writes: Re. “Two’s a mass for Michael Willesee and Cardinal Pell” (yesterday, item 7). Evelyn Waugh’s story today: what was the point? Was there any news merit? Or indeed, was there any merit in it at all? The article was pure smear. Not that it was incorrect in its basic premise. But it twisted a few ordinary facts and loaded them with denigrating language and subtle judgments of character that, I assume, you thought were a bit amusing. I hope you didn’t think it was actually news or a well-worded opinion of substance.

Evelyn Waugh, whoever she is, would have done better to simply write Willesee is a d-ckhead who knows Cardinal Pell. And perhaps she could put a call through to Willesee and ask him for a response. No doubt that would have made it the second best story of the day, instead of your seventh best story. Try not to look too desperate for articles by publishing such… stuff. By the way, the bizarre religious event Willesee has in his chapel is held in hundreds of homes and places of worship in Australia every day. Some churches have several of these weird ceremonies each day in order to accommodate all the people who want to attend. Oddly enough, there are also many masses held with only one priest.

In other words, there is no congregation at all. What a hoot! Perhaps Evelyn — after she stops falling around laughing — could write us an enlightening piece on the situation of “mass” with no congregation. What a hilarious contradiction. Kind of like Crikey calling itself a reputable source of information.

Skills in the public sector:

Bob Smith writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Despite the rather breathless tone of the email message about DPMC’s recruiting foray in London this is potentially a very significant story. Thinking and acting strategically in central agencies has turned out to be much harder than several generations of young hopefuls had thought. That DPMC is having another go is not surprising. That they are reported as looking overseas for Australian MBA graduates with an interest in public policy is worth probing further.

It’s also worth asking what the mix of skills in the new division will be, how strategy projects will be managed, and what other skills they may be looking for. If it turns out that what they want is a mix of business, public policy and international perspectives possession of an MBA alone may not give them that. But it’s not a bad way to start the search. Probing this story may also start a public debate about the skills really needed in the public sector post Hawke, Keating and Howard. It’s overdue.

Hedge funds:

Terence Kidd writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 13). I’m just an ordinary man in the street trying to follow and understand the financial crisis and what it will eventually mean to me and my family’s bottom line. One thing that has struck me amongst all the news, facts and comments, and is something that I cannot fathom, is how can people sell something that they don’t own and even find buyers for it? These comments from Richard Farmer on the VW share price have finally prompted me to ask the question:

Then Porsche came along and sang a different tune even louder. It announced on Sunday it had increased its direct stake in VW to 42.6% and that its combined stock and options totalled 74 percent. With the German State Government of Lower Saxony owning just over 20 percent, this left a shrinking pool of stock available for the hedge funds to acquire to meet their obligations in repaying the 12 to 15% of the company they had sold without owning.

I am out of my depth in the field of investment banking and international finance but it seems to me that the only re-regulation needed in the world’s financial markets is that it should be illegal to sell something that you don’t own. Is it possible for Crikey to elicit an explanation of why hedge funds are able to sell shares they don’t own?

The New York Times:

Mike Sanchez writes: Re. “NY Times is ‘junk’, says Standard & Poors” (yesterday, item 4). Excuse me but we don’t need Standard & Poor telling us the New York Times is junk. Any one who receives the daily electronic left wing propaganda sheet aimed at workers, peasants, adolescents, liberated lesbians, liberated freckle punchers, liberated liberals and all other liberated minorities at the expense of the oppressed majority is bound to be classified as junk. Come on Rupert, dig deep, buy it and burn it. That’ll turn the New York Post around.

The state of the Liberal Party:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “No footnotes needed to explain the state of the Liberal Party” (yesterday, item 1). Perhaps the Liberals believe in a socialism of ideas in which the products of intellectual labour are held in common, contributed to by those with ability and drawn on by those in need…

Climate change smackdown:

Adam Rope writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) rolls out — yet again — the same old tired and very much refuted “the earth has not warmed for the past 10 (nearly11) years” argument, much used by Andrew Bolt and others in the denialist camp — trying to muddy the waters over climate change by creating a fictionalised “debate” in the media about the science. It relies on the fact that 1998 — 10 years ago — was a record year for global temperatures (due to a specific El Nino event that transferred a record amount of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere) and thus temperatures in the following years are below that single peak, and hence the globe has not “warmed” for 10 years.

It is one of the typically simplistic distortions of climate change science used by climate change sceptics, deliberately created in order to try to promote the idea that climate change is not happening, or has stopped. However, if you want real facts Tamas, as opposed to misleading “pesky” ones, then I suggest you visit the web sites of the main science centres studying global temperature — for example the UK Met. Office Hadley Centre for Climate Studies, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and the University of Alabama, Huntsville — where you might find that the real scientists (not the commentators, and their scientific distortions) measuring global temperatures state that the planet still shows a continued warming trend.

For example you might try here. Is that sufficient “explanation” to refute your “pesky fact”?

Matt Andrews writes: Tamas Calderwood writes of “the pesky fact that the world has not warmed for almost 11 years now”. Simple, Tamas, as you would discover if you bothered to actually learn a little bit about the science — the climate is a large, complex and dynamic system, which means that temperatures do not change in smooth, small annual increments, but bounce around up and down all over the place over the course of a decade.

The key is the long term trend, which is inexorably warming. As a confirmed denialist, you have of course chosen your starting point as 1998 — the year of one of the strongest El Nino (heating) events ever — and your ending point as now, in the middle of one of the strongest La Nina (cooling) events ever.

These are, however, just an upward blip followed by a downward blip on the steadily rising long term trend — and choosing your starting point at a peak and your ending point at a trough is the only way you can torture the data to look like warming is not happening.

Mark Byrne writes: To paraphrase Tamas Calderwood, how can the world be warming when the global surface temperature for 1998 has not been surpassed? The answer is in the ocean. Different ocean cycles exchange heat between the atmosphere and ocean depths at different rates. During El Niño cycles the surface temperate is relatively warmer, and during La Niña cycle more heat is circulated to ocean depths, leaving the surface relatively cooler.

When the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) signal is extracted the from the Sea Surface Temperature data (by means of linear regression) we get an approximation for surface temperatures without the El Niño and La Niña inter-annual variability. This indicates that that the warming trend is continuing despite cyclic variations.

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Peter Fray

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