An unusual third party endorsement. I wonder if Melbourne bookmaker Simon Beasley, who faces losing his bookmaking licence for up to four years after admitting hiding bets allegedly worth $6.5 million and destroying evidence, really wanted this particular third party endorsement as he waits to learn his fate at the hands of Racing Victoria.

Worldwide political campaign: No makeover for Dora! The strength of people power is being put to the test with an international campaign to protect the purity of Dora the Explorer from the avaricious exploitation of global capitalism. As a petition to save Dora reminds us, on TV the original role model for young girls and boys wears shorts. She has a sidekick monkey. She has a map and a compass and a backpack! She solves problems and explores the world in Spanish and English. Her motto is “Let’s go!” and it could never be construed in that “wink, wink” kind of way.

But those adventuresome folks who created Dora no longer own her. She’s owned by Mattel who can use her image, re-MAKE her image, in any way they see fit to make money. And re-make it they are certainly planning. The Chicago Sun Times has signed on to the campaign to stop Mattel and Nickelodeon rebranding Dora as a “tweenage” fashion plate.

While the original Explorer so loved by pre-schoolers isn’t going anywhere, starting this northern fall, for the not-terribly-recession-conscious price of $59.99, your five-year-old also will be able to buy an older, doll version of the character. Says the Sun Times , “though Mattel and Nick are waiting a few months to reveal exactly what she’ll look like, a bizarre silhouette accompanying the press release shows that, at the very least, Dora will have long hair and be decked out in a short skirt or dress and a pair of flats”.

Here’s how the companies spin it:

“As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look. What’s more, she now has a rich online world in which girls can explore, play games … and most importantly solve mysteries with Dora and her new friends.”

An American organisation called Hardy Girls Healthy Women has taken on the task of persuading Nickelodeon and Mattel not to proceed with their tweeny version and have launched a protect Dora petition.

Cricket goes international.

If bowlers now step up to the plate, how long will it be before batsmen take guard on the mound?

Canberra’s hot air display. It somehow seemed appropriate that the week in Canberra should start this morning with a mass display of hot air balloons.

As Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on the ABC’s AM patting back to the interviewer every attempt to get her to say she was preparing to make concessions to get her industrial relations proposals through the Senate, the balloons were floating over Lake Burley Griffin to celebrate the Canberra Day public holiday.

Whether the Happy Birthday cake balloon, visiting from the United States, turns out to be appropriate will I guess depend on Messrs Bob Brown, Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding. They are the trio that Ms Gillard will be chatting with over the next fortnight as the legislation makes its progress through the parliamentary upper house.

“I’m meeting them because I’m identifying them as people of goodwill who are prepared to talk with a view to getting this legislation through and sweeping away WorkChoices,” she told AM.

“No discussions are planned with the Liberal-National Opposition because, while Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull admitted last year that the Coalition’s controversial WorkChoices laws were dead, now of course with Peter Costello snapping at his heels, Mr Turnbull doesn’t know what he stands for. The political party in the Australian Parliament that is spitting in the face of the Australian people and refusing to recognise that mandate is the Liberal Party, with Mr Turnbull dithering on one side, looking over his shoulder to see what Mr Costello is going to say to him next.”

Peter Fray

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