Ozwatch with Guy Rundle — a sporadic roundup of the world’s wackiest broadsheet op-ed page:

A rich crop for the inaugural Ozwatch. Stephen Loosely claimed that since the Scullin government of 1931, every Oz government had been given two terms. OK, two things. First, the Scullin govt is Henderson family turf, and if other people start writing about it, Gerard’s unique selling point for his column is gone. Secondly, ignoring the fact that Howard lost the popular vote in 98 is simply falsifying history.

The Australian people didn’t give Howard two terms, the AEC’s particular redistribution did. If we had a “list” system — whereby a lower house is composed of both electorate based members, and a matching number of members from a party list (i.e. as if both the House and Senate systems were used in the one chamber) — then it could be weighted so that it was impossible to win the popular vote and lose the election in the House.

Had that been in place in ’98, Howard would be remembered as a ghastly mistake, Beazley as a wise choice by the party (trustworthy, common touch etc etc) and the craft of retrospective political punditry wouldn’t skip a beat.

Just across the way Bob Durnan cursed the silly city crusaders who are apparently misleading them humble town camp Aborigines up bush with their city injunctioning ways — apparently failing to notice that it was them humble Aborigines at Tangentyere Council who hired lawyers to protect their interests in Jenny Macklin’s half-arsed camp takeover (I mean she tried to grab the leases, I don’t mean she did it with show tunes and spangle). Apparently their quick check of the QCs column in the Yellow Pages found that most of them live in cities, near supreme courts. Go figure.

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-charged for website itself still has the maintenance ethos of a Gary Glitter fan site (“this site last amended 17th March 1994”). Christian Kerr’s “Lacklustre questions end poor week” article which is so old it’s about the last parliamentary sitting, is still hanging around on the front page.

The Cut and Paste crèche, which disappeared offline for four days last week with no-one in the office noticing, is back, without any layout (i.e. headline emboldening) which would make it readable.

Finally Greg Sheridan, whose major combat is friction burns from his armchair upholstery advises the Uighurs to “fight for their rights within China”. Thank you Cheridan, for guerrilla communiqué no.3.

Boldly, we fight on. — Guy Rundle

Best right-wing screw-up ever? US right site Investor’s Business Daily has weighed into the health care debate, with more blather about “death panels”, deliberately or otherwise confusing “NICE”, the UK’s body for evidence-based assessment of treatments, with some sort of sinister body that decides if individuals will live or die. Then comes the really good bit:

”People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

Like the time they accidentally sold pussy at a deli, you had to get in a queue to get a number for the queue to remind these nongs that not only was Hawking a lifelong Brit, but that his most recent treatment was at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, an NHS joint. IBD rewrote the editorial while the rest of the world pointed out what a great advertisement this was for its business tips.

In fact, it’s the US health system which would have killed Hawking. His condition first manifested itself when he was a grad student – a period of life when a lot of Americans have fallen off their parents’ family health insurance plan, and health insurance is out of reach for cost reasons. Nor would he ever have got any, because the early-onset would have made the conditioning a pre-existing one, making it impossible for any employer to insure him. His family would have had to go bankrupt before he would have been eligible for Medicaid, the US subsidised healthcare for the desperately poor. He would have died long ago, in a rented room watching soaps.

Still better dead than red (untreated bedsores). — Guy Rundle

Sport the drawcard for nine. Nine has signalled that live sport is going to be a major focus for maintaining audiences, with the capture of November’s Australian Masters golf featuring Tiger Woods. Nine Network boss Jeffrey Browne told Mumbrella: “We are investing in big international events such as the golf, the cricket, the Rugby World Cup and the Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2012 Olympics.” — mUmBRELLA

Studio pulls trailer. Do you remember last month, when the Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Trailer made an early appearance on the web? Hungry fans and moviegoers (including myself) were excited to get our first glimpse into Burton’s remake of the classic fairytale. Disney, however, would have none of that and forced YouTube to take the trailer down. We still stand by our statement that the move was a “mindboggling mistake.” Well, history repeats itself. Different movie, different trailer, different studio, same result. Earlier today, the New Moon trailer hit the web. It’s the second movie in the popular Twilight series. According to MTV, the French are to blame, so it’s language is in French. But still, the same actors and action. — Mashable

Another loss for News Corp. HarperCollins’ worldwide business’ operating income — effectively profit — has collapsed from $160m to $17m over the last year, its most recent financial results reveal. Rupert Murdoch, c.e.o. of HarperCollins’ parent company NewsCorp, described the year to 30th June 2009 as “the most difficult in recent history”. As well as operating income slumping by 89.3%, publishing turnover also dropped significantly, down by 17.8% from $1.38bn to $1.14bn . — The Book Seller

Crime Stoppers take note! A Brazilian TV host accused of ordering murders to boost ratings of his crime show has proclaimed his innocence before the Amazonas state legislative assembly where he is a deputy. A former policeman, Wallace Souza is suspected of having formed a criminal organisation involved in death squads, drug trafficking and gun-running. Police said he ordered at least five murders of drug traffickers in order to bolster viewership of his crimewatch show “Canal Livre” on Manaus television, during which viewers would be offered a taste of crime scenes before police arrived. — The Sydney Morning Herald

Want more ads on commercial TV? A new strategy aims to grab the attention of viewers now using DVR to skip commercial breaks: in tests, so-called “in-show ads” are run on the top or bottom of the screen — and even on occasion in the middle — during the action, Advertising Age reports. Execs are betting that Americans today have the “capacity to accept multiple messaging all at once.” — Newser

Peter Fray

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