As swine flu stories return to page one of the world’s newspapers, the World Health Orgnaisation’s latest update still describes the pandemic as “moderate”. The WHO says most patients are experiencing uncomplicated, self-limited illness. Some groups such as pregnant women and persons with asthma and other chronic conditions such as morbid obesity appear to be at increased risk for severe disease and death from infection. Since the spread of the pandemic virus is considered unstoppable, the WHO says vaccine will be needed in all countries.





Rio Tinto and China


Play by the rules: CreanMelbourne Age

Crean goes mild over Chinese arrest of Rio staffSydney Morning Herald

China Widens Investigation of Steel Industry – The Chinese authorities have detained or questioned at least seven Chinese steel industry executives in a broadening corruption investigation connected to the detentions last week of four employees of the mining giant Rio Tinto, the state-controlled news media reported Monday – New York Times

China, Stern Hu spying crisis deepens – iron ore crisis with China threatened to take a new turn, with reports Rio Tinto had suspended spot market sales. Melbourne’s Herald Sun reports rumours that BHP Billiton may also be under investigation.

Who’s on Hu? Ministers to take turns on ‘spy’ caseThe Australian says a revolving door of acting foreign ministers will oversee the Stern Hu arrest crisis because Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is in Cairo meeting Third World leaders and Kevin Rudd is on “informal leave”.

China’s iron clout – Stern Hu’s arrest shows the giant is flexing its muscles, Rowan Callick writes in The Australian

All losers as Australia hits China’s brick wall – Jennifer Hewett writes Kevin Rudd has arrived back in Australia minus a road map on how to extricate Stern Hu or his own government from the messy unravelling of the relationship with Australia’s most important trading partner. Beijing is clearly less interested in solving the problem or even limiting the fallout than it is in making a very brutal point – The Australian

Magic dragon grows into menacing bully – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian says Australia’s lucrative relationship with China has locked the two countries in a prisoner’s dilemma.

Grumpy dragon rears its head – Matthew Stevens in The Australian says it is clear that Hu’s detention is a naive, self-defeating product of a layer-cake of Chinese frustration. China is grumpy at Rio Tinto; irritated by official Australia’s ambivalence to investment here by China’s state-owned enterprises; anxious about resource security and its reliance on imported raw materials; disappointed at the lack of influence over price delivered by its buying might; and plainly impatient at the internal political and social dislocation caused, in part, by the embrace of Western commerce.

PM’s Beijing-bound brother expects hiccups – Prime Minister’s elder brother, Greg Rudd, is packing his bags to move his business consultancy permanently to China, undeterred by the fallout from the Stern Hu affair – The Australian

China stonewalls Canberra over Stern Hu’s detention – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rudd stymied as the barbarians shut the gate – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph believes the chances of Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or Foreign Minister Stephen Smith being capable of convincing Beijing to release Rio Tinto executive and Australian citizen Stern Hu soon are slim to non-existent.

Polls and elections

090714zaustralianpollMalcolm Turnbull starts to claw his way back – The Opposition Leader has clawed back some public support after a politically disastrous attack on Kevin Rudd but languishes as the third choice as Liberal leader after Peter Costello and Joe Hockey – The Australian

Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership is ‘terminal’ – For the third Newspoll survey in a row comparing Liberal MPs for the leadership, Mr Turnbull has finished behind Peter Costello and is now clearly behind the opposition Treasury spokesman, Mr Hockey – The Australian

Howard man spins into state politics – One of of the nation’s best and most experienced political spin doctors is back on the job in South Australia. For more than a decade, Tony O’Leary was a key member of John Howard’s highly effective spin team – The Australian

Public service

New role handed to prosecutions chief – West Australian Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock QC will leave his role within weeks to become special counsel to the state government, overseeing reform in the public sector and the Corruption and Crime Commission – The Australian

Aboriginal affairs

Remote kids lose their lunch as program axed – The axing of nutrition programs in schools in remote Aboriginal communities has led to heavy criticism of the West Australian government and the prediction by one principal that school attendance will drop – The Australian

Law and order

SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson demands answers over siege – the man who chaired the Parole Board meeting that approved the release of Yunta siege gunman Shane Andrew Robinson was appointed by the Labor State Government – Adelaide Advertiser


Industry a study in shams and scamsThe Australian reports that a lust for high-dollar Indian students has led to a thriving black market in sham marriages, forged English language exams and bogus courses, and turned a once-respected international education sector into a recognised immigration racket.

Attack over flying school – Indian consul general in Sydney has slammed Australian education authorities for their slow response to complaints from Indian students against a flying school caught out using under-qualified instructors – The Australian

Property development

CCC handballs Barnett over The Cliffe – WA’s Corruption and Crime Commission has flicked to parliament a complaint about West Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s role in the saga of the birthplace of pop-rock group The Triffids – The Australian


Not a lot to crow about for Liberals – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian searches for good news in the Newspoll figures but concludes the truth for the Liberal Party is that these numbers, and those of the other published polls, have convinced some within the opposition that Turnbull’s leadership is “terminal”. And, a rise of a few percentage points from a record low satisfaction rating is not going to change their opinion.

Real rival for Libs’ poisoned chalice – Peter van Onselen argues in The Australian that the news that more voters want Joe Hockey to lead the Liberal Party than Malcolm Turnbull is devastating for an incumbent leader.

Thanks due to monetary policy – Tony Maley in The Australian says objective economic analysis based on standard textbook theory suggests that fiscal policy has played a significantly less important role in cushioning the impact of the global financial crisis on the economy as compared with the role played by monetary policy through interest rate reductions and associated exchange rate depreciation.

Damn the economy, big pay rises ahead – Malcolm Colless in The Australian believes renewed union power threatens a wages breakout.



Japan’s Aso to seek August election that opinion polls suggest could mark the end of the divided and dispirited Liberal Democratic party’s long dominance over the world’s second largest economy – Financial Times of London

Aso sets Aug. 30 poll after metro drubbing – Lower House to be dissolved by next week – Japan Times


Displaced families being transported back to Swat – Dawn, Pakistan


Boiling the Frog – Paul Krugman in the New York Times started thinking about boiled frogs recently as he watched the depressing state of debate over both economic and environmental policy. These are both areas in which there is a substantial lag before policy actions have their full effect – a year or more in the case of the economy, decades in the case of the planet – yet in which it’s very hard to get people to do what it takes to head off a catastrophe foretold


BHP postpones $4bn coalmine amid slowing demandThe Australian

Coles and Woolworths fight for bowser control – Brisbane Courier Mail

For Goldman, a Swift Return to Lofty Profits – New York Times


Web filters allow freedoms to be quashedBrisbane Courier Mail



090714smhswineflu1Swine flu

London school child and GP die of swine flu – An apparently healthy six-year-old London girl has died of swine flu within hours of being taken to hospital. A doctor in Dunstable in Bedfordshire – a hotspot for swine flu – has also died after contracting swine flu – London Evening Standard

Swine flu warning as deaths increase – Health experts fear the state’s swine flu death toll could soar with six young, healthy people in Sydney fighting for their lives on last-resort cardiac bypass machines because their lungs are too damaged or diseased for regular mechanical ventilation. The surge in the number of people with swine flu needing life-saving treatment has forced NSW Health to consider closing elective surgery at some big hospitals to allow staff to redirect resources – Sydney Morning Herald

Swine flu bug out of control as toll rises – Sydney Daily Telegraph

How swine flu felled our young – Melbourne Herald Sun


The line between gamesmanship and cheating – The Australians have criticised the England cricket team for unsporting delaying tactics on the last day of the first Ashes test. But what’s the difference between cunning gamesmanship and cheating? – BBC News Magazine

England to escape fine despite delaying tactics in first Ashes Test – Brisbane Courier Mail

Consumer affairs

Petrol bonanza – Shoppers are racing to cash in on a Coles and Safeway petrol price war, saving up to 40c a litre – Melbourne Herald Sun

Brave man

Just put up with pain of childbirth: UK professor Dr Denis WalshMelbourne Herald Sun reports a leading male midwife saying women should embrace the full pain of childbirth to bond with their babies instead of resorting to anaesthetic drugs