News Ltd vs. Rudd:

Michael James writes: Re. “News Ltd v the Rudd government … V for vendetta” (yesterday, item 3). Rudd’s attacks on News Ltd may be the pot calling the kettle black but Bernard Keane is forgetting that all this may have been more for the benefit of his home constituency. It happened last week when Rudd and Gillard were up north for the “Cabinet in Logan” thing.

The overt bias of The Australian may be amusing to you Mexicans south of the border but up here it is not a joke. It was perhaps significant that Rudd made his aggressive remarks about the Courier Mail’s coverage in response to a Utegate question from Madonna King on her ABC 612 morning show. Ms King happens to be the wife of the editor of the Courier Mail, and also a regular Courier Mail columnist. Oh yes, in Brisbane we not only have the “choice” in print journalism between The Oz, Courier Mail and mX but we have even more Murdoch from “our” ABC.

To be fair, Ms King does seem to reasonably balance her various professional and personal overlaps, at least on the face of things. But as far as media monopolies goes things have actually got worse since the Bjelke-Peterson years!

V may be for Vendetta but in this town dial M for Murdoch.

Les Heimann writes: Yesterday Bernard Keane essentially referred to a contest between News Ltd and Kevin Rudd. There is no contest. News Limited has long ago betrayed the Australian people and our current PM is, we know, a clever man, however he is almost certainly fatally flawed. Both will fall.

News Limited has already dug its own grave and the bets are over how long it will take before it dies an economic death and disappears forever more. Our current PM is still able, but presumably not willing, to allow purely his ability to measure his performance. He too will weary the public.

How Kevin Rudd ultimately goes will be far more interesting than the disappearance of News Limited. We will have to wait until after the next election for both News and Rudd to begin the going.

James Holyoake writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “In fact, to persist with the cricket metaphor, he’s chasing the bowler with his bat raised.” Hmmm, the last batsman to do that was Pakistan’s Javed Miandad after Dennis Lillee provoked him in a Perth Test in the early 1980s. And that was only a couple of years after Lillee was stopped from using his famed aluminium bat against England, also in Perth. Both incidents sounded a very hollow note for cricket fans.

So perhaps that was not the best analogy Bernard Keane could use about the PM, even if, to use another cricketing term, Kevin Rudd is clearly a better spinner than John Howard.

Alan Burnett writes: What does one do when one takes both The Australian and Crikey? Deny everything? What does the Monk do when he pontificates about the ways of the Pope? Seek absolution? The evidence that the Fourth Estate is tearing itself apart is worrying. But could the PM resist encouraging that process now that he has shown himself to be a man of steel as well as an exceptional media tart? Give us a break cobbers.

Rudd and the Pope:

Shirley Colless writes: Justin Templer (yesterday, comments) quite rightly highlights what should be an unavoidable fact, that as well as atheists and agnostics there are many adherents to many faiths in Australia who must be just a tad bemused by the long campaign to sanctify Mary McKillop; but fails to note that this would include many Christians: Orthodox, Protestant and Reformed among them.

I believe there would be substantial number of Christians in Australia who are not Roman Catholic and who, while respecting the educational and social work of Mary McKillop, would not support her sanctification, and reject the whole process of trying to prove her right to that through a given number of miracles. And what for? So that she might be called upon to be a mediator between us and God?

I would not be the only Christian who believes that we do not need anyone, priest or saint, to stand between us and the God in whom we believe.

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “Abbott to Rudd: Don’t try to spin the Pope, ‘he orbits in a different sphere’” (yesterday, item 2).” “Cannonisation” is pretty much what I’d like to see inflicted upon organised religion of any description but I think your correspondent, Eleri Harris, meant canonisation when it comes to Saint Mary (patent pending).

David Whittingham writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. It was a very funny introductory item on Rudd and the Pope: Where’s Puccini when you need him!

The banks:

Will Bragg writes: Re. “How banks and advisors raided retirees’ nest eggs during GFC” (yesterday, item 1). Glenn Dyer does not consider the other option that heavily geared companies have to raising equity at a significant discount to current market price. They can allow themselves to go into administration, have their assets sold off and the proceeds distributed to pay their debts. The cold reality is however this leaves little for equity holders.

So yes, cheap equity issues to recapitalise a business does dilute current shareholders, however it leaves the company solvent and their equity worth something as opposed to in most cases nothing. Management taking on too much leverage is the real issue … so where was the article from Dyer prior to the GFC warning corporates (and shareholders…) of the nasty implications of excessive corporate debt?

The economy:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Fifteen turbulent years of Australia’s economy, in graphs” (yesterday, item 8). Though Bernard Keane should be congratulated for bringing some perspective to economic and political analysis, his view is still too short-term. His narrow timeframe makes it impossible to distinguish between structural change and building or mining booms, for example. For the same reason, he presents the decline in unionism as a recent phenomenon, whereas it began in the ’70s.

It is equally misleading to link it to the shedding of manufacturing jobs, as the construction and mining sectors are also traditional union bastions. Since the decline has been across all sectors, and throughout the developing world, it makes more sense to ascribe it to the socio-political zeitgeist.

Similarly, the decline of the National Party predates Keating. Finally, while it is fashionable, it makes no sense to admit that Queensland’s employment has surged “for reasons that aren’t clear” but to blame NSW’s “stagnation” to the “wretchedly awful” government.

Keane needs far more demographic and economic data to draw that conclusion.

Denise Marcos writes: My reticule is now armed with a cache of super-sharp tacks. Should the federal opposition’s debt truck or the Rudd government’s jobs truck loom on the horizon, I shall be generously sprinkling these bitey demons across their routes.

More trucks on our roads may be a mere drop in the carbon-foot ocean but this illustrates how neither party has genuine concern for, or understanding of, the dissipating environment. Let alone insight into their electors’ intelligence.

Robert McNamara:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Vale Robert McNamara” (yesterday, item 11). Those of us of a certain age associate Robert McNamara with (among other things) the Simon and Garfunkel song A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert Mcnamara’d Into Submission) which included the lines:

I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.
I been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d.
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I’m blind.
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, ’cause I’m left-handed.
That’s the hand I use, well, never mind!

Cows and methane:

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Cow farts do more damage than all coal fired power stations combined” (yesterday, item 14). Geoff Russell is without doubt a man committed. This is perhaps why he so brazenly overstates his case. Mr Russell has linked to a comment by Prof. Barry Brook, which itself links to a more detailed essay by Dr Brook here . The more circumspect assertions by Prof. Brook do not fully support the assertions made by Mr Russell. Prof. Brook, for instance, comments that “if we do not act quickly to control CO2, any actions we take to reduce methane will have little impact on the future climate of our planet.” and makes it clear that the major benefit of reducing cattle herds are in a relatively short term change.

Geoff’s analogy, of applying a blowtorch to your leg and averaging the effect over 20 minutes, is wrong, since, although action on climate change is urgently required, the effects of climate change in the next 20 years will be small. A better analogy of the methane/CO2 effect is that averaging the effect of Methane over 100 years is like applying a blowtorch to a room for 10 seconds, and averaging over 20 minutes.

Another problem with Geoff Russell’s argument is that this is almost entirely an issue with ruminants. The most problematic forms of animal husbandry (from an animal rights perspective) are battery hens, and intensively farmed pigs. These are actually relatively favoured forms of meat production from a greenhouse perspective. In fact, on Prof Brook’s figures, chicken is environmentally better than rice.

In pushing his arguments, Mr Russell might pause to consider that a likely effect of success would be an increase in the consumption of pork and chicken. The greenhouse debate will give little comfort to animal rights advocates, and brazen overstatement can be counterproductive.

Geoff Russell is hoeing a barren field.

Chris Hunter writes: It would be a relatively simple procedure to harvest cattle methane. An expandable bag attached to the animals’ rear ends would do the trick; collect the solids at the same time. The farmers could then run their tractors on the product, saving on valuable fossil fuels.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected] Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.