Some good news for Queensland. The northern state has been doing it comparatively tough since the decline in minerals and energy prices, so news that another important market for the state is booming will be good news for embattled Premier Anna Bligh. Raw sugar prices have hit their highest level since 1981 as concerns about a massive shortage of supply grow.

In India, the largest consumer of sugar in the world and the second largest producer, poor monsoon rains have slashed output, forcing the country to rely on imports. In neighbouring Pakistan, the government has been forced to nearly double sugar prices, causing, reports the BBC, “public outrage ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, which has now begun”. Sugar production in Pakistan has fallen to about 3.7 million tonnes this year from more than 4.5 million tonnes last year.

A sub with a sense of humour. Canada is experiencing another round of early election speculation with The Globe and Mail in Toronto giving its page one picture over to that campaigning standard of the politician visiting a classroom to give visual proof that he cares about education.

To keep the speculation moving along, the paper’s website updated the printed version with the prediction that face-to-face talks were the likely first step in a political dance aimed at avoiding the early fall (their autumn — our spring) election and then the “news” that, yes, the minority government’s Prime Minister actually had a chat about future possibilities with a minor party leader whose votes are needed to stay in office. This was all getting a bit much for the paper’s political commentator, Tim Powers, who summed up things as “another slow end-of-summer news week; another story about Liberal mental meanderings about an election.” The column brought forward this headline, which I am sure we will be able to adapt to Australian circumstances and use in Crikey before too long: “Another election story, yawn.”

Peddling racist nonsense . I’m pleased Rupert Murdoch is now an American. It would be too embarrassing to think it was one of my fellow countrymen who was in the business of using the world’s largest media empire to peddle nonsense. The old fellow must have flipped to allow this kind of commentary to go to air on his Fox News Network.

The appearance by radio talk show host Glen Beck on the Fox and Friends television segment must mark a low point in the history of Murdoch journalism. Calling President Barack Obama a “racist” who “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” is surely beyond the pale. But then, as the Politico website reminds us, Beck is the man who on his own Fox program recently joked about poisoning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It is horribly tasteless stuff and no wonder that a backlash has begun with sites like colorofchange.org springing up to try and persuade advertisers to boycott Fox programs.

Not that there are any signs of Rupert Murdoch moving to rein in his fanatic commentators who are attracting the highest ratings on pay television for news programs and have given birth to their own support sites on the internet.

Yesterday’s news today . Good to see the Brisbane Courier Mail engaging in that wicked practice of knocking off someone else’s stories. This morning the paper filled its front page with details of Queensland Government plans to change planning requirements in order to protect coastal residents from the ravages of climate change. The News Ltd stablemate The Cairns Post had given its readers details of the changes the previous day:

Peter Fray

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