Chris Feik, Editor of Quarterly Essay, Publisher at Black Inc and Associate Editor of The Monthly, writes: Re. Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published:

“Robert Manne is furiously re-writing his investigation of News Limited and The Australian for The Monthly to include the latest information on the News of the World phone hacking scandal, we’re told. The deadline has been pushed back to accommodate.”

Going for some kind of record? Yesterday’s rumour about Robert Manne and News Ltd is wrong in every respect. The piece is for Quarterly Essay, not The Monthly; there has been no deadline shifting; Manne spent a day interviewing Chris Mitchell and others; David McKnight was nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps your informant was confusing the Manne essay with Sally Neighbour’s upcoming profile of Mitchell for The Monthly.

Latham’s Henderson watch:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Latham’s Henderson Watch IV: the war within the Hendi Coalition” (yesterday, item 7). Mark Latham writes that, when Gerard Henderson asserted in The Sydney Morning Herald that more than 85% of Australian electors voted for a party other than the Greens in the 2010 federal election, Henderson’s facts do not stand up to scrutiny and that the proportion of primary votes lodged for parties other than the Greens was 75.4%.

I have played around with various interpretations of the figures and I cannot get any combination that fits the Latham argument. Being house-bound due to the Sydney rain and convinced that I was missing the point, I even pasted the results from the AEC website into a spreadsheet. Still no luck.

Using Latham’s own figures (and agreed to the AEC record) — of the 12,402,363 people who voted, 1,458,998 voted for the Greens — some 11.8%. This percentage  is also as disclosed on the AEC website. This would mean that 88.2% of voters did not vote Green.  This is what I took Gerard Henderson’ point to be (assuming that Mark Latham has successfully reproduced it). I won’t bore your readers with the myriad of other crazy combinations I tried, but nothing including the most wildly propagandist combinations came close to the Latham 75.4%.

I am assuming that Mark Latham’s calculator is one of those new-fangled solar cell models and the pathetic Sydney weather has sapped its strength. Please explain.

David Havyatt writes: Mark Latham’s ongoing series Henderson Watch is deliciously funny and demonstrates a skill for mimicry and satire on which he should build a new career.

Global food prices:

Greg Bowyer writes: Re. “Crikey clarifier: why are global food prices so volatile?” (Tuesday, item 11). Amber Jamieson’s recent piece on global food prices was very soft on the role of global corporations in recent price increases.

The article section headed: “Does speculation on the commodities market have a negative impact on global food prices?” overlooked recent reports on the disturbing role of commodity giant Glencore (part-owner of Xstrata) in the rise of food prices late last year. The final ABC Hungry Beast programme of Series 3 (June 21) also devoted its “Beast File” to Glencore, which it dubbed “the company trading on life’s essentials.” The Guardian also reported recently on UK protests against Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of Barclays, for its direct role in the global food crisis: “Along with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, BarCap has pioneered new kinds of financial products that have enabled pension funds and other investors traditionally barred from commodities exchanges to bet on food prices.”

With soaring food prices now afflicting the nations that literally cannot afford to pay, these sickening stories of corporate predation must be reported far and wide — so that global pressure may be urgently brought to bear on the corporations and funds that are growing fat on the back of human starvation.


John Kotsopoulos writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) wrote: “do you really think this government is in so much trouble because of a few characters such as Christopher Monckton?”

No Tamas, Monckton is not at the heart of Labor’s poll problems but a News Ltd dominated media bent on using the carbon price as a stick to beat up on Gillard and Labor certainly is. Even the ABC has resorted to taking a one sided stance.

The other  night we had a very smug looking Chris Uhlmann on 7.30 with a lengthy report on Gillard’s polling woes and the so called carbon “tax” (it’s officially a carbon price Chris) using footage of an older lady seeking to embarrass the PM during a shopping centre visit. No mention was made at all about Abbott’s clearly contradictory comments on climate change which even the The Australian had seen fit to report on that morning.

No mention either that, based on the polls, Abbott had sacrificed principle for short term political action and has seemingly convinced a large chunk of voters that climate change action was not required, thus effectively trashing his own party’s policy which calls for climate change action.

No Tamas, Monckton is not to blame for Gillard’s polling woes but the vicious one sided media treatment of Gillard and carbon pricing surely  is.

Wind turbines:

Colin Prasad writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 13). Richard, I think you could have put a little more effort in to today’s article on wind turbines:

  1. You should note that there are no credible studies that support any claim that conventional wind farms cause ill-health. Just as there has been no land owner who is paid a rent for turbines on their land that supports that claim.
  2. Vertical access eggbeater type wind turbines have been around for ages, but cannot be built large enough to capture anywhere near the energy of a conventional Horizontal access wind turbines, (some now approaching 5MW each).  In the table at the bottom of the paper you cite, whilst a vertical access wind turbine might have a higher density of energy capture per footprint, at only .0012MW each, you would need 2,083 of them to get the rated power of one 2.5MW HAWT.  Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but for practical farming and aesthetics, I know which one I would prefer.


Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Rundle: kooks n crackpots … give ’em publicity, own the consequences” (yesterday, item 6). While I take Rundle’s point that the guy is being brought to Australia for a Big Ideas conference, why is the media has given such a lot of space to refuting the spurious claims of a crackpot? Why review Sarrazin’s book at all?

Although this might sound like a form of censorship, isn’t there always some form of censorship at work in journalism, in the sense of what gets written about and what doesn’t? One might well ask how newsworthy the rantings of a crackpot are.

If Thilo Sarrazin were not a former member of the Board of Germany’s state bank, would he be getting any press at all for his book? And isn’t that a form of inverse censorship?


Gerald Quigley, pharmacist, writes: Re. Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Home monitoring of warfarin has been available for years to those patients smart enough to take control of their health and to step outside the quaint service of getting the referral to pathology, finding the pathology service, giving blood and recovering, then waiting for results.

A variety of fees are usually involved. The home monitoring kit is a finger-prick with the results able to be given to the doctor for dosage alterations if needed. AND, most private health insurers cover the initial supply of machine and strips.