A Crapo correction:

Susan Wheeler, Communications Director for U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, writes: Re. “US mid-terms: Crikey’s state-by-state election guide” (yesterday, item 5). In this story you note that Mike Crapo replaced Larry Craig as one of the Senators from Idaho. This is not accurate.

Crapo has served as a U.S. Senator from Idaho since 1999, and served concurrently with Craig. Jim Risch now holds the Idaho Senate seat formerly held by Craig.

Please correct your copy. Thank you.

Abbott and Afghanistan:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Abbott goes to war: who was being looked after?” (yesterday, item 2). Professor Noel Turnbull’s spray about Tony Abbott’s visit to Afghanistan says it all about the decline in objective journalism in this country.

The professor bizarrely suggests that this episode “raises a more fundamental problem about neocons — like Howard and Abbott and their US teachers — that most of them have never actually experienced a war”. Well yes, Professor — but this is a “fundamental problem” most of us face, whether or not we are neocons.

In this democracy it is not a requirement that we have seen “people dying in pain crying for their mothers” before we can have an opinion. And the Professor’s view on fair treatment for those who don’t agree with him — “In a just world they (presumably Liberals or Republicans?) would be given the point position in an infantry patrol in the middle of the nastiest people and terrain imaginable. Sadly it’s not going to happen.”

Come on, Crikey — is this serious comment or are you just letting your correspondents get things off their chest?

Chris Hunter  writes: I agree with Noel Turnbull’s assessment of Tony Abbot’s request for front line duty. As an eager beaver neocon he should be given the opportunity to serve at the sharp end, like get a reality check.

It’s a pity some of the old schoolers like little Johnnie, Rummy, or even big George don’t throw their hats in the ring as well. They could form their own platoon.

With such legendary ball skills Johnnie could volunteer as chief hand grenade thrower.

Ignaz Amrein writes: If Tony Abbott wants to know what it’s really like being out there on patrol in Afghanistan, he should spend a couple of weeks with the soldiers who have come back from duty, soldiers who saw their mates killed and had other horrific experiences you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies.

It is the coming home part of a war that politicians like Abbott (and Gillard) don’t understand and don’t want to know about, because it might do to their heads what it does to the soldiers heads they sent there.

Murray-Darling Basin:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Water and the regions: infrastructure isn’t the (whole) answer…” (yesterday, item 1). It would seem there is no end to the obfuscation surrounding the machinations of the body controlling the use of water from the rivers. What began as a whimsical exercise by cynical politicians over a long lunch has, as is often the case in Australian history, become a genuine exercise in land management.

Those of us with an ounce of education and eyes that see realise that not ceasing the deprivation visited on the river systems and land in between covering the Darling, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers we will end up with a salt plain twice the size of Tasmania — our own man made wilderness, testament to stupidity.

Meanwhile in north western Australia we have oceans of water and land just waiting to burst forth with food abundant for all. It’s about time we talk about compulsory acquisition, not just “buying from those willing to sell” ,and it’s about time we accepted that growing rice and cotton in this area is quite mad.

Get real Australia and open up north west Australia with great big new farms and great big new airports to fly the produce to where it’s needed.

Perhaps another long lunch is required?

Terry J Mills writes: Ironic that in the case of the Murray Darling some of us seem to be looking for a way to re-establish the river flows and in the Far North others want to overturn state legislation that was introduced to protect river flows in the pristine rivers on Cape York.

News Ltd:

Barry Donovan  writes: Re. “The tell-all book: Oz editor offered to quit, Big Harto gawked at Mrs Garrett” (yesterday, item 4). The Crikey reference to Bruce Guthrie’s new book as “a treasure trove of tit-bits” may very well be close to the mark after reading all the extracts published so far in The Age and Crikey.

We have found that John “Harto” Hartigan admired the boobs of Peter Garrett’s wife, that Guthrie felt himself suddenly isolated when Rupert’s sister declined her usual practice of kissing him on the cheek (over Christine Nixon coverage), that a senior executive was constantly juggling two lovers, that a former Victorian Governor told him in confidence ( ha!) that Jeff Kennett was rotten and should be opposed, and that the Herald Sun apparently uses dodgy circulation figures.

Bruce Guthrie was a very good Editor of The Age and a successful newspaperman with News Ltd, until he bumped into Peter Blunden. We read all about that in a lengthy fully reported court case over Guthrie compensation in Melbourne which exposed the antics of both Harto and Blunden.

Guthrie has been in a privileged position to write an important book about the effects of Murdochism on the world’s media, especially in Australia and the United States.

Nobel Prize:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Liu Xioabo’s Nobel part of a rich history of achievement” (yesterday, item  15). The Nobel committee seems to have the naive belief that peace and the struggle for human rights are virtually synonymous (Monday, item 15).  In fact activists like Liu Xiaobo are in necessarily in conflict with forces of oppression.  Even awarding him has led to international tension.

Regardless of the purity of Liu’s motives, his case cannot be taken out of the context of the long-time conflict between China and the West, which has been heightened by his country’s growing economic strength.  Of course, his award is far less problematic than that to the Dalai Lama, a former god-king who freely admits involvement in a CIA-backed insurgency in Tibet.

Similarly, the Peace Prize to Lech Walesa, like the Literature Prize to Solzhenitsyn, was part of the endgame of the Cold War, Poland and Afghanistan being the two key battlefields.

Even if you take these people of principle at face value, however, real peace negotiations (whether successful or not) will often involve individuals like Henry Kissinger, who have no principles at all!


Guy Rundle writes: Brett Gaskin (yesterday, comments) suggest that it’s unedifying for me to reply to correspondents regarding my articles. Well, in the most recent case, the letter writer had begun by saying he would ‘like to hear more’ about a point I made in the article on voluntary euthanasia — sounds like a reply was warranted to me.

In general, I reply when a correspondent either asserts something flatly incorrect, or makes an interesting counter-argument. We call this debate and dialogue Brett.

If you’re not interested, simply skip my letters. Brett? Brett? Oh, you have.

Channel Seven and Bathurst:

Adam Paull writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 22). Glenn Dyer’s defence of Channel Seven’s policy of time-slipping live sporting events misses a few vital points. To ask how a commercial broadcaster could turn a profit from screening Bathurst without time-slipping ignores the fact that Channel Seven has managed to broadcast the race live profitably for more than thirty years without resorting to such underhanded tactics.

Channel Ten manages to do it successfully with live Formula One coverage, as did Channel Nine before them. The real reason why Seven delays the telecast is two-fold – one, so they can screen MORE ads, and two, so the race ‘finishes’ closer to 6pm and hands their news bulletins a healthy lead in.

The practise is quite simply a scam, and is a good indicator of what Channel Seven think of the Australian public.

Craig Iedema writes: The problem with delaying the broadcast of motorsport in our ever more connected world is the people who don’t only watch the event live on TV, but also get a lot of information on the event from the internet. Live timing, pit stops, gaps etc.

Peter Fray

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