Forgiven for a smile. Brendan Nelson could be forgiven if he had a smile on his face this week. The evidence of all the regular political pollsters is now pointing to Malcolm Turnbull being no more successful as an Opposition Leader than he was. This morning’s Newspoll figures just confirm what AC Nielsen and the Morgan poll recently reported. Labor is doing better now than at the last election and Kevin Rudd just keeps on getting high approval ratings both personally and as preferred Prime Minister.

In the Newspoll immediately before last year’s ousting of Dr Nelson from the Liberal leadership, Rudd led Nelson on the question of who would make the better Prime Minister 62% to 16% with 22% of those surveyed uncommitted. This morning it is Rudd 67% to Turnbull 18% with 15% uncommitted. The Rudd lead has thus gone from 46 points to 49 points.

On the personal popularity front, Turnbull’s rating is only marginally better than the man he overthrew. Last year 35% of those surveyed were satisfied with the way Nelson was performing with 42% dissatisfied. This morning’s Newspoll shows 39% satisfied and 42% dissatisfied with the satisfied figure having dropped from a high last year of 54%.

Belated tabloid interest . Perhaps the tabloids are short staffed at weekends and that’s the reason the initial coverage of Crows AFL footballer Nathan Bock being charged with assaulting his girlfriend on Saturday night was so sparse. The sports writers who are on duty on Sundays are always reluctant to tackle such incidents for fear it will make their future contacts with the players difficult; just like political journos really who often hesitate to touch on the seemy side of the people they rely on for information.

Whatever the reason, the relative initial silence referred to in Crikey yesterday ( Monday Sporting Roundup ) gave way this morning to a more respectable coverage of this latest story about a footballer behaving badly.

Over in Victoria they were less interested in a player assaulting his girl friend than football hoons of a different kind. The father of a Melbourne player had copped a belting from three Collingwood fans outside the MCG. Premier John Brumby did what Labor politicians tend to do when confronted with a public relations problem — he called a summit.

Representatives of major sporting codes, venue operators, police and health experts will be called together later this month to consider ways of making watching the footy family friendly.

Research does it again. “… 79% of women … said they drink wine because they like the taste …” — The first comprehensive survey of women’s attitudes toward wine … Over 4000 women in the UK, France, Japan, Germany and the US responded to a survey commissioned by Vinexpo.

Now isn’t that surprise!

The report of the survey in Decanter magazine did not say why the other 21% of women drank wine, but perhaps it is because of the finding by the Santa Nuovo Hospital in Florence that drinking one or two glasses of red wine a day increases female s-xual desire.

Disintegration in slow motion . The combination of satellite images and the internet is providing a fascinating coverage of what appears to be the break up of the Wilkins Ice Sheet on the Antarctic Peninsula. Everyday sees images posted from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) on the Envisat satellite showing new rifts in the narrow strip of ice that connects the Wilkins Ice shelf to Charcot Island.

Not that all the news from the Antarctic is bad. The National Snow and Ice Data Center information shows that the total extent of sea ice in the southern hemisphere continues to trend upwards in the long term from the average of the years 1979 to 2000.

As for this year, the 2009 daily average, while below the level reached in the same period of 2008, continues to be above the long term average.

At the other pole the evidence remains gloomy. The long term trend continues down.

Arctic sea ice extent has begun its seasonal decline towards the September minimum. Ice extent through the winter was similar to that of recent years, but lower than the 1979 to 2000 average. More importantly, the melt season has begun with a substantial amount of thin first-year ice, which is vulnerable to summer melt.

Peter Fray

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