Assange stands up for Bolt’s rights. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has defended the free speech of conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, of all people, in a column published in the Fairfax press today. Bolt was recently found guilty of breaches to the Racial Discrimination Act for a number of stories he wrote questioning the choices of fair-skinned people who identified themselves as indigenous.

Bolt has claimed the findings are a blow to free speech, something that has gained support from both sides of the political divide. “However much you disagree with Bolt, the ‘hate speech’ law under which he was prosecuted is more offensive than he is,” Assange and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson write. — Tom Cowie (read the full story here)

Pell’s plea for scientific evidence. This week in London, Australia’s Cardinal George Pell opened a new front in the church’s age-old war on science by telling the world there really isn’t enough evidence to believe in man-made warming. “Carbon dioxide … is not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life,” the cardinal chirped cheerfully, and CO2 levels would need to rise to “almost 13 times today’s concentration” before they posed any danger to humans.

But Australia’s most powerful Catholic saved his best cheep for last, warning that: “Debates about anthropogenic global warming can only be conducted by the accurate recognition and interpretation of scientific evidence.” — Paul Barry (read the full story here)

Bad moon rising on Twiggy epithet. One of our favourite billionaire nicknames, Andrew Forrest’s “Twiggy”, might soon be a thing of the past if the West Australian rock kicker has his way. Forrest yesterday addressed a breakfast function in the friendly confines of resource-fuelled Perth, where he told the crowd he was being addressed by a new handle.

“As I constantly move around the world I have been nicknamed ‘The Moon’ because I transgress it once a month,” The Australian Financial Review reports today. Forrest is, of course, referring to his constant travel in his capacity as Fortescue chairman, something he now does in style after acquiring the private jet all the powerful players want: a $53 million 16-seat Bombardier Global Express. — Tom Cowie (read the full story here)

Packer helps problem gamblers for ‘good karma’. James Packer has fired another shot in the pokie war, with a 25-minute interview on 3AW’s Neil Mitchell show this morning.

Anyone watching the pictures live on the internet would have seen an assured performance from the billionaire casino owner, who was relaxed, friendly and not at all defensive. But Melbourne’s most powerful megaphone gave him an easy ride. “Everyone wants to do more about problem gambling. Everyone,” said Packer, before listing all the things Crown has done to deal with it. — Paul Barry (read the full story here)