I supp0se she had to. Perhaps Julia Gillard would have been more circumspect if she had had time to read The Economist before chatting on the phone with US President Barack Obama.

With a detailed review of the lack of progress in the nine year Afghan war, the weekly news and views magazine concludes “presidential decisiveness cannot conceal a deeper truth. America and its allies are losing in Afghanistan.”

Yet there was our new Prime Minister overnight assuring the president who decisively sacked the general in charge of the war effort that Australia’s approach to the NATO-led coalition’s campaign would be the same as it was under her predecessor, Kevin Rudd.

A pity, really, that our leaders don’t have some of that Dutch courage.

Political promises are cheap. As Wayne Swan flies off to represent Australia at a meeting of the G20 group of countries being held in Ontario, Canada, it’s an appropriate time for a reminder of how political promises are cheap when world leaders get together for such events.

And it would be hard to illustrate it more clearly than in this page one offering on Thursday as Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail previewed the meeting of the so-called G8 group taking place before the larger G20 event where Australia gets a guernsey.

24-06-2010 g8andaids

God to save us? The gloomy view of Americans is that more than half of them think the next 40 years will see another world war and expect that there will be a major terrorist attack on the US with a nuclear weapon.

The good news for 41% of Americans is that they believe Jesus Christ will return sometime during this period.

25-06-2010 pewfindings

This and other intriguing insights into how Americans see the future are provided in a survey published this week by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Does anyone care? Apparently an Australian cricket team is playing England at something or other. There once was a time when people would have been interested. When John Howard finally gets to head the international cricket organisation he will be presiding over a very minor sport indeed.

Peter Fray

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