Will Grant writes: Because I’m back at work and our air conditioner is broken, I wrote a poem to commemorate the occasion. I don’t know if Crikey wants a poetry section, but summer brings it out in me.

Every time I sit and turn to type a sentence

That fly returns to bugging me, insecting my attention.

I grab a rolled up copy

Of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Australia’s Low Pollution Future)

And see if I can hit the bastard.

But then he stops flying, and I can’t see him.


Ashley Midalia writes: Re: “Mungo: The real world crisis — Australian cricket“. God almighty. Fact-checking must be sooo 2008 at Crikey HQ. For an article based entirely on the ages of the Australian cricket players, one would think Mungo might want to make sure he got them right. Let’s start with the worst of the lot. Mungo writes “Jason Krejza (35) can hardly be considered a long term prospect”. Maybe true. If he was 35. He’s 25. Ben Hilfenhaus, next cab off the rank, is 26, not 27 (as Mungo suggests), while Brett Lee is 32, not 33.

Mungo seems particularly unkind to the bowlers, exaggerating their ages, while shaving a year or two off batsmen’s ages. Phil Hughes — who perhaps ought to have been picked for this Test — is 20 (not 19, Mungo) and Matthew Hayden — who certainly ought not to have been — is 37 (not 36). Fellow opener Simon Katich is 33, not 30.

The exception to Mungo’s rule is Phil Jaques, who was done an immense disservice by being labelled 32, when he is in fact 29. I’ll send my account for check subbing in due course.

War on Terror:

Irfan Yusuf writes: Niall Clugston “Comments” claims that Congressman Charlie Wilson suggested that the crazies “only arrived after the well-meaning Americans left”. I’m not so sure about that. And even if he did claim this, the fact is that the Afghan mujahideen and their supporters consisted of some pretty crazy people. I suggest he might consult Peter Bergen’s oral history of Osama bin Laden, especially the sections where Bergen deals with bin-Laden’s Arab faction and his dealings with Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. He might also do some research on the inter-factional wars that took place after the Soviets withdrew and before the Taleban took charge. Some of these crazies occupy seats in the current Afghanistan Parliament and are even ministers in the Karzai government. There are no clear goodies and badies in this war — just lots of crazies.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re “Why Gillard and Brandis are wrong about Gitmo prisoners“. Yah gotta love the ex-Lib staffers like Greg Barns. He pillories Julia Gillard for allegedly buckling under Opposition pressure over the Gitmo detainees issue (when no final decision has even been made) while allowing a free pass to the opportunistic and cynical tripe emanating from the ex-merchant banker (and foreign affairs novice).

Jack Smith writes: Once again Greg Barnes is wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to his comments on accepting prisoners from Gitmo. Australia under no circumstances should accept any of these prisoners on character grounds alone. What self respecting individual gets caught up fighting with Islamic militants? I also note that Greg fails to mention the comments of the US general who noted that, of those who had been released, many had either been re-caught or ended up dying fighting the coalition forces.

Can I also add, many Crikey readers wouldn’t see the regular drivel that the Tasmanian Mercury newspaper serves up as informed commentary from Greg. In December he made the ‘informed’ comment that only 10 prisoners out of Tasmania’s serving population of hundreds of prisoners really only deserve to be in prison. As I have asked many times, which murderers, raptists and peadaphiles does Greg believe should not be in prison? To that list we can now add would-be terrorists.

Digital Radio:

Cliff Smale writes: Digital Radio starts in the mainland capitals on 1 May 2009. This continues the Howard policy of Stuff The Poor. Why? Because they made the specifications unique to Australia, which means that you cannot buy a digital receiver from another country and expect it to work in Australia. It also means that the price of a basic radio will probably be $200 plus.

Bill Shorten:

Eric Brodrick writes: Re: “Tips and rumours“. So Bill Shorten has a girlfriend and travels to see her every weekend…. BFD!! As long as he’s paying for the air fares and not claiming Travel Allowances can you please advise me why this rates a mention in your esteemed publication? The call of hormones is very strong, I’ve known young blokes who regularly DROVE five to six hundred kilometres to spend the weekend with their beloved. A two hour plane trip is a doddle by comparison. Am I reading Crikey or New Idea???

Wilfred Burchett:

Bruce Watson writes: Re: “The Burchett debate: Korean War POWs” George Burchett’s piece is probably intended to be the last word on his controversial father. On the contrary. The piece largely used material generated by Burchett himself (hardly an independent source) and contains a bald assertion that Burchett was a “compassionate human being” attempting to alleviate suffering. It was long on generalities and short on specifics. The piece also attributes to Burchett’s opponents allegations that they have never made — that Burchett engaged in ‘brainwashing’ and “long torture sessions”. No one has made these allegations. What has consistently been alleged is that Burchett on behalf of the Chinese helped frame and edit false “confessions” for POW’s to sign; within the POW camps represented or promoted the Chinese position; and on occasion made threats against prisoners who had the strength of character to ‘take it up to him’.

What George Burchett has not done is address head on the evidence given in open court (not a Show Trial of the type Burchett at the time enthusiastically supported) in front of Burchett and his Counsel, by a number of former POW’s including one who was awarded the George Cross for his bravery in resisting Chinese and North Korean mistreatment. This man was at one point tortured by the Chinese for the ‘crime’ of ‘offending Comrade Burchett’.

It is no response to these longstanding and independently brought allegations to bring up an instance of reasonable treatment of one individual. What we need is clarification on the POW position. Will George Burchett now state that the evidence given in court against Burchett was concocted by these men? That in fact they all committed perjury?

As to stating that those who oppose the attempts to whitewash Burchett, as frozen in the “ideological ice age”, basic fundamental freedoms are timeless in nature, particularly the mistreatment of men hardly in a position to fight back on equal terms. Such treatment is made all the more despicable when put in the context of some of them being your own countrymen.

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