Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Rundle: Fukushima directly from the Dr Strangelove script” (Friday, item 3). Talking about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Guy Rundle comments, “No one knows how many died, but they died outside of the glare of publicity”.

In fact Wikipedia, for example, has a list of the 70 people who died in the immediate aftermath, many of whom were decorated for their efforts. The problem with estimating the Chernobyl death toll is not Soviet secrecy but knowing when to stop counting, since everyone remotely affected by the disaster will eventually die. Hence Greenpeace’s estimate of a million deaths, and the common assertion that people are still dying.

By the same token, despite the apocalyptic rhetoric, the immediate deaths from the Fukushima will be insignificant compared with the lives already lost in the earthquake and tsunami.  But everyone else affected will die, though they might live to 80 before they do.

Patrick Bowman writes: It’s usually a great pleasure to read Guy Rundle’s contribution to my daily Crikey, but Friday’s was truly awful.

“To build it in the first place we reached beyond the sealed atomic order of given nature, and now that unsealed process has become autonomous. Any fool can see that that is a greater real risk than natural (i.e. sealed) processes like a flood.”

So electromagnetism is natural, while the strong nuclear force is “Promethean”. The cost/benefit of nuclear power is measured the same way as any other power source: what you get out compared with the expense, pollution and death required to generate it.

I’m not wed to nuclear power: NZ is largely powered by renewables and Australia has lots of options for power generation; but the right mix will not be found by anti-intellectual non-analysis.


John Richardson writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: what’s involved in a no-fly zone?” (Friday, item 9). The other night I watched as a Libyan “rebel”, brandishing a heavy machine gun, screamed for foreign intervention to stop Gaddafi from attacking civilians like himself.

Whilst it may seem like a highly unlikely scenario, if a few thousand Australians, fed-up with the tyranny of our corrupt parliamentary system and its leaders, somehow broke into a military arms depot and took to the streets in armed revolt, wouldn’t we expect our government to move swiftly to crush such a rebellion and how is Libya any different.

And how is Libya any different to Bahrain, where America’s Saudi allies busy themselves slaughtering civilians who are peacefully demonstrating against the tyranny of royalty? No “no-fly zone” there.

The Americans claim that they just want the Libyans to be able to enjoy democratic freedoms and exercise self-determination. Well, why can’t Iraqis or Afghanis enjoy the same freedoms and how come the UN didn’t mandate a “no-fly zone” to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been butchered by the west’s military machine in those places? And whilst on the subject, how come the UN hasn’t mandated a “no-fly zone” to protect the people of Palestine and Lebanon?

Of course, the truth of the matter is that the US and its cat’s-paw, the UN, couldn’t give a flying-fig about protecting civilians in Libya or anywhere-else.


Antony Loewenstein writes: Re. “NSW election: Greens Marrickville candidate labelled ‘Hamas harlot’” (yesterday, item 16) & Simon Sawday (Friday, comments). Two reliable people told me separately last week, after the Marrickville council meeting, that they had heard Jewish participants at the meeting say AUJS were behind the anti-Greens posters. Other people, including the Liberal candidate for Marrickville, were there.

Furthermore, AUJS may not officially back any political party in elections, but they have a history of attacking the Greens on campuses in Sydney and Melbourne, accusing them of anti-Semitism. I have both seen and heard this. And often it comes not from the leadership itself but from AUJS members.

New York Times:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Up goes the wall: New York Times banks on reading quotas” (Friday, item 5). Margaret Simons  clearly has not read the New York Times regularly if she regards it merely as a news paper.

I would not subscribe to the NYT for its news, but I will willingly subscribe at $3.75 per week for writers like Verlyn Klinkenborg, Carl Zimmer, Natalie Angier, their op-ed writers, their science writers generally, for their photojournalism, their book reviews and much more — including, even, their wonderful editorials.

I’d pay twice — even three times — that rate. All you have to do to get subscribers is produce a superb newspaper.

The NYT is not perfect, but it’s miles ahead of any other paper I know (except for AFR‘s Friday Review) for quality writing on important topics. And the NYT’s material is almost all original.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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