The fickle nature of political fortune. Voter satisfaction with Anna Bligh as measured by Newspoll has sunk considerably from the heady days of an approval rating above 60% that she had after succeeding Peter Beattie as Premier.

The pollster’s most recent assessment for the three months to December last year had her down to 24% satisfied and 67% dissatisfied with 9% uncommitted.

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I wonder what the next reading will be for the quarter that ends in March? If the responders to a Fairfax National Times website straw poll that we report on The Stump is anything to go by, the figure will be remarkably higher.

Post you guesses for the January to March Newspoll figure in the comments section and I’ll collect them at the end of the day and reward the first correct entry received with a bg of First Dog goodies.

We are not alone: flood death toll reaches 400. The BBC News reported this morning:

Rescuers are trying to find survivors in cut-off areas …  hit by deadly floods that have left more than 400 people dead. Relatives have been joining in the search but often only find the bodies of loved ones.

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And these images from the country’s papers:

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The BBC report on this Brazilian disaster says heavy rain has brought massive mudslides down on the towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis.

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Thousands have been made homeless. Darkness has fallen in the mountainous Serrana region, north of Rio de Janeiro, bringing a pause in the work of more than 800 rescue workers. Many have spent Thursday scrabbling with their bare hands through debris. In the Campo Grande area of Teresopolis, which was earlier cut off, rescuers found family members pulling bodies from the mud.

Just a little reminder that there is always someone worse off than yourself.

The world becomes less free. Freedom House, the international organisation set up in 1941 with Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie as its first honorary co-chairpersons, finds that global freedom suffered its fifth consecutive year of decline in 2010. This represents the longest continuous period of decline in the nearly 40-year history of the survey. The year featured drops in the number of Free countries and the number of electoral democracies, as well as an overall deterioration for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa region.

A total of 25 countries showed significant declines in 2010, more than double the 11 countries exhibiting noteworthy gains. The number of countries designated as Free fell from 89 to 87, and the number of electoral democracies dropped to 115, far below the 2005 figure of 123. In addition, authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world.

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Australian remains one of the 87 countries designated by Freedom in the World as Free in 2010. This is two fewer Free countries than the previous year, and represents 45 percent of the world’s 194 countries and 43 percent of the world’s population. Further details from the report and a full list of country rankings are on the Crikey blog The Stump.

And Rupert keeps him on the payroll! In the United States, Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), a charity that campaigns for social change, has delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures asking Fox New to remove talk show host Glenn Beck from its programs. Along with the petition was a list of 10 of Beck’s most egregious comments in 2010:

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I wonder how outrageous you have to get to be removed from a News Corporation payroll?

Peter Fray

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