The Gaza strip:

David Hand writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Your editorial about government silence on the banning of western media from Gaza should be read with acknowledgement that the media is a key theatre of the conflict. Crikey is an element of the conflict, not a commentator about it. So anything the government might say has consequences and they are right to tread carefully. Indeed, it could be argued that the media is the chosen battleground for Hamas and they need graphic pictures of their own wounded and killed children as part of their strategic campaign. If this is not so, it is hard to see any logic in their strategy at all.

Lobbing a few rockets over the border in order to provoke the sort of military response we are seeing makes some sort of sense, but only if there is a cameraman from the western media there to broadcast the gory details into our living rooms. This makes Israel’s locking out of the western media logical, sensible and one has to admit, successful, even if it annoys editors of Crikey and such like. Censorship has always been a vital element of war strategy.

Martyn Smith writes: Regarding Crikey‘s editorial about the Israeli PR machine being able to exploit an information vacuum in Gaza; their PR doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect judging by media comments around the world. Europeans in particular seem to be against the Israeli invasion. To be fair to the Israeli PR though, these Europeans and others like them are probably what our very own Faris QC describes in yesterday’s edition (“Faris: Windschuttle’s reputation remains intact” item 15).

To quote him somewhat approximately, “the people who care about this are the sort of people who read Crikey, The Age and The SMH and watch and listen to the ABC — “the left-wing glitterati”. All the Crikey readers should take a bow and I wonder what Faris’ view is of people who write for Crikey?

John Richardson writes: For those who share Crikey’s sentiments at the cowardly silence of our politicians and media over what is happening in Gaza, take heart that Senator Bob Brown is not the only political voice being raised in protest. Julia Irwin, the federal member for Fowler, penned “getting away with murder” in the Sydney Morning Herald on January 11, highlighting the awful effectiveness of the zionist flack regime.

But, all power to Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times’s resident philosopher-in-chief, who had the courage to speak the unspeakable. “When does the mandate of victimhood expire?” he asked. “At what point does the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the demands of international law and of common humanity?”

Roger Mika writes: Re. “The Gaza Strip: A Crikey wrap” (yesterday, item 11). The way I see the conflict in Gaza; Hamas is sacrificing their own people for their goal of the greater outcome. Fire a few rockets into Israel and they [Israel] respond with a mighty arsenal, David verses Goliath in reverse. The world media and world leaders come down on Israel. Hamas has achieved a great result, at the cost of their people’s lives, these unfortunate civilians are between a rock and a hard place, and neither side is going to give in. Propaganda wise, Hamas is on a winner, nobody likes to see slaughter of defenceless humans in this cause.

Reading Genesis 12.6: “Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land”. And Genesis 12.7: “Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him”. And Genesis 12.3: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”

Did God plant the seed of future conflict at this time? He didn’t even give them good land, Genesis 12.10: “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land”. Finally, this conflict will never be solved if Genesis is any guide. Even Tony Blair has not been able to halt the war.

Climate change and Garnaut:

Bryan Furnass writes: Re. “Leading climate scientists call for an emergency ‘Plan B’” (yesterday, item 8). I think that the plan B to cool the planet put forward by physical scientists is crazy, fiendishly expensive, self-serving and probably very dangerous.

Everybody ignores the elephant in the room, namely the tremendous power of chlorophyll, through photosynthesis, which has biosequestered carbon in soils, forests, fossil fuels and marine carbonates over the past 3.6 billion years, and is the only process which will actually withdraw CO2 from the atmosphere (albeit that some tropical forests, arctic tundra, melting ice caps and the sea are actually emitting CO2 and methane as a result of global warming). Moreover, forests, like icecaps have an albedo effect, as well as their local cooling and rain producing influence. If CO2 emissions are reduced to zero tomorrow, global warming will continue because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a century or more, and is continually being increased through oxidation of emitted methane.

Instead of wasting $trillions shooting reflectants into the atmosphere, nations should be spending $billions buying off foresters (legal and illegal) who are destroying carbon sinks by clearing forests in SE Asia, South America and Australia, some of them for the morally unjustifiable purpose of growing crops of corn and palm oil to fuel motor vehicles. The great GW Bush in his decaying days as president has lifted the embargo on oil exploration and logging in N. America’s wilderness areas — surely to be classified as a crime against the biosphere. The temperate rainforests of Australia are effective carbon sinks and preservers of biodiversity. Foresters should be employed for the protection and massive re-planting of forests to restore the biosphere and promote tourism.

There is a living example of success in an island off Borneo which was purchased by an Indonesian entrepreneur. The degraded landscape which had been used for grazing was massively re-planted with trees, fertilised with cattle manure. Within a few years the forest had re-grown and now is home to endangered orang-utans again. Another example is in Gunning, close to Canberra, where an enterprising grazier over 20 years planted millions of trees. His cattle now graze on shaded grassland, in contrast to his neighbours, whose sunburnt paddocks remain bare.

I realise that in practical terms, these ideas are no more likely to be achieved than are radical reduction in GHG emissions and massive re-kitting to replace the combustion of ancient solar capital stored as fossil fuels with endlessly renewable solar currency, harvested locally and centrally. The trouble is that the world is run by politicians, waste-friendly economists and the military industrial complex. My point is that true scientists should include both sides of the biological energy equation: 6CO2+6H2O = C6H12O6 + 6O2 (via photons and photosynthesis), rather than concentrating on the emissions side (L to R).

Martin Gordon writes: I was pleasantly surprised when an opposition politician understated the warranted criticism of a government. Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham pointed out the Rudd Government had paid only twice for the Garnaut report on climate change, once for the report work — $2m and then had to actually buy the reports at a cost of $65,000 on top. Apparently the publishing rights had not been covered in the contract between Garnaut and the Department of Climate Change. An appalling bureaucratic stuff up.

I suggest taxpayers have paid three times of the report, the report work, the reports and then for the Rudd Government ignoring the report in close to its entirety. The ALP has played the public for fools, having beaten up the issue, its response is so ineffectual, you wonder why they bothered to commission Ross Garnaut in the first place, or even announce an emissions trading scheme when it is so ineffectual to be an embarrassment to release.

Telstra and broadband:

A former Optus Vision contractor writes: Re. “Telstra holds back broadband speeds. Again.” (Yesterday, item 1). Optus Vision was such a poorly managed company at the time of the roll out of the fibre optic network for the then cable TV service that their purchasing department bought whatever fibre optic cable they could get their hands on due to a vendor induced rumour that there was a world-wide shortage of fibre optic cable.

The consequence of this was that once the design department got organised there was a very large inventory of drums of cable with multiples of the amount of fibre cores than was required to run down the streets. A freeze was put on purchasing and the design department was left with no choice but to run excess capacity for most of the runs. With this is in mind and the probability that Telstra (government owned at the time and still very much an engineering run company) had better engineered their own broadband network, I would hazard a guess that Optus has considerably more dark fibre than Telstra.

Consequently Sol Trujillo’s boast that “The only difference is we’ll be there a lot quicker a lot faster a lot bigger, a lot more integrated and with more capabilities than anybody else” is without foundation and, in fact, reveals Telstra’s weakness in competing with the now Singtel Optus.

Ross Copeland writes: I am not sure how accurate Stilgherrian’s view of the extent of Telstra’s cable layout is. I have been living at my current address since 1990 and there has been no cable layout in my street in that time. I am pretty sure there is very little optic fibre elsewhere in Perth as well. So could we have some confirmation as to just where this dark fibre is please?

News:

Andrew Haughton writes: Re. “Overton steps up as Nine wields the 6pm axe” (yesterday, item 18). When a television news service is in trouble there are predictable, indeed traditional, steps to be taken. These are as follows: Change the set. Change the theme. Change the titles. Change the Presenter. These actions all presume that the content of the news bulletin is good; story selection is correct, scripting and sub-editing all in good shape. It’s a perfect metaphor for commercial television. As long as it looks good and the presenter can read auto-cue why worry about the content?

A charter of rights:

Russell Bancroft writes: Re. “Selling the charter of rights” (yesterday, item 9). Greg, you are spot on about the need to get out and meet with “ordinary” Australians. I remember attending a rally in support of a Yes vote at Parliament House in Melbourne just a few days before the referendum. Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser addressed us, and I really believed we could win the vote. In hindsight of course, it was just this sort of “elitist” event that won the day for Howard and his monarchists.

Alex Chiddy writes: On the topic of changing the constitution: I have no legal background and I have a question I’m hoping a Crikey writer/reader knows the answer to: Why can’t we just amend the constitution SLIGHTLY so that the Governor General is the Head of State and serves all functions as currently does, without a phone line to her Maj?

John Howard:

John Arthur Daley writes: Re. “Mungo: Oh no, he’s back” (yesterday, item 12). John Howard seems to have not only gotten under Mungo’s skin but rendered him totally unable to see the fact that during his Prime Ministership we had prosperity and growth. Now that he has sadly departed we are left to enjoy chaos and stupidity in the hands of people like Mungo and Kevin Rudd whose only claim to fame is their dubious ability to draw moustaches on photos of our former leaders.

As we sink further and further into the mire of multicultural chaos, they will be both washed up on the shores of failure like the flotsam and jetsam that they both really are.

Quadrant:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Rundle: Hoax a telling blow to the Right’s cred” (yesterday, item 2). Your headline “Rundle: Hoax a telling blow to the Right’s cred” is an excited exaggeration — unless Windschuttle has transcended into being the sole physical embodiment of the Right. To paraphrase Rundle, your enthusiasm has blinded your judgement.

Arley Moulton writes: Wow, Crikey is proving just how much of a news vacuum there is at this time of the year. No one cares about a no name hoaxer tricking the editor of a double digit circulation magazine, no matter how much he’s banged on about fact checking in the past.

Who?:

Kim Lockwood writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 10). Richard Farmer’s meaty chunk on the Golden Globes Awards raised a question about the three in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who say they are Australian. Mr Farmer writes: “They are hardly big names in the world of journalism although Mr Berk gets a few mentions for being president of the HFPA and Ms Cooney Carillo apparently writes for TV Week and my Google search once had Mr Masterson being interviewed on an ABC radio program.”

OK, so Mr Berk is president of this multi-national association, which Mr Farmer equates with hardly being a big name. Ms Cooney Carillo “apparently” writes for TV Week? Well does she or doesn’t she? And Mr Masterson was once interviewed on ABC radio? Lawrie (“Bat”) Masterson was a Melbourne Herald TV writer and editor of TV Week and now freelances from LA for News Ltd papers (and others) around Australia. Journalistic nobodies, Mr Farmer? I can hear their response to the obvious question: “Richard who?”

A Madoff Salad:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Business briefs: Job ads plummet… Hyundai takes the cake” (yesterday, item 21). New Yorkers can now purchase the “Bernie in hell” hot sauce, whose creator describes it as “hellishly hot.” The label on the bottle depicts “Madoff with satanic horns, flames, dollar signs in his eyes and a devilish grin” and the slogan reads “You can take the money but can you take… the heat?!!!” In the spirit of the times, I have created a Madoff Salad. It consists of any ingredient except lettuce. Bernie made off with the lettuce.

Jorn Utzon:

Eric Ellis writes: David Salter (yesterday, comments) is right. It is a silly and churlish exchange. As I wrote last Friday, kudos to Peter Luck if he spoke to Utzon in the 1970s. That being the case, the SMH/I erred in claiming we conducted the first interview in 1992.

Can we stop now? May the great man rest in peace, for Sydney/Australia/the World to the world enjoy his fabulous legacy at Bennelong Point.

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Peter Fray

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