Clarification:

Crikey says: Re. “Butter not margarine, si vous plais” (Friday, item 14). Michael R James’ story on Friday should have contained a graph on coronary heart disease and obesity. The graph is now available on the online version.

The National Defence Authorisation Act:

John Richardson writes: Re. “Indefinite detention formalised in US — and the world is a war” (Friday, item 10). While Bernard Keane’s appraisal of the National Defence Authorisation Act of 2012 (NDAA) and its implications is accurate as far as it goes he fails to highlight the historical significance of this development.

The passage of NDAA effectively signals the death knell of the US democratic republic and the formal inception of a legalised police state. Moreover, not only does this act herald the destruction of the US Constitution, but also the basic principles of Western jurisprudence that underpinned its creation and that of the Bill of Rights. These principles, central to which is the notion that a person cannot be held without a charge and cannot be detained indefinitely without a trial, date back to Greco-Roman times and were developed by English common law beginning in 1215 with the Magna Carta, before being universalised by the Enlightenment.

The subsequent vision of the US founding fathers, conceived and brought to life through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, held that inalienable right to liberty at its core, theoretically thereby making the US the enemy of every despot and tinpot dictator the world over and heralding it as the light to the world’s downtrodden.

By deliberately turning its back on its own heritage and the foundations of Western civilisation, the US has abandoned the West’s noble 1000-year quest to build a higher civilisation and heralded a return to the Dark Ages. But to imply that these developments have simply arisen somehow in response to the events of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden is to ignore real modern history and the truth.

It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who alerted the world to the real danger to our freedoms when he highlighted the rise of the US military-industrial complex some 60 years ago. Those interests have gone on to spawn an oligopoly of financial, industrial and military/intelligence interests that now own and control Wall Street, Washington, London and Canberra, and it is those interests that have always represented a far greater danger to our freedoms than any revolutionary or fundamentalist religious fanatic.

Osama bin Laden was simply the fall guy.

Rundle on Europe:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Rundle: how violence in Europe takes a hard-Right turn” (December 15, item 4). Given that Anders Behring Breivik has been found to be clinically insane by the psychiatrists who examined him in Norway, living in a world entirely of his own fantasy, it is a bit rich of Guy Rundle to include him in a piece about right-wing violence in Europe, or to talk about his “motives” at all, as if they were anything other than delusional.

While it is true that right-wing, and in particular sectarian, terrorism occurs far more frequently in Europe than Islamic terrorism, this is not new. The hard right has been given a free ride recently according to many commentators in Europe because there has been a US-led focus on Islamic terrorism post 9/11. The real worry is that the majority of EU governments now include right-wing xenophobic parties who, until a few years ago, would not have been considered “house-trained”, but in some cases nowadays hold the balance of power in parliaments.

In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats (whose original name Bevara Sverige Svenskt! — Keep Sweden Swedish! might have changed but not the sentiment) are still not invited to attend the Nobel Prize festivities (their views considered to be against the spirit of the prizes), and one of the leading confederations of trade unions has as policy not to cooperate with them.

And precisely how does Justin Templer (Friday, comments) arrive at the conclusion that “the hard-Right is probably more a by-product of the smothering embrace of the liberal-Left”? He has got to be kidding if he is saying that taking care of one’s fellow citizens is the problem!

Stephen Conroy:

Glen Frost writes: Re. “The Power Index: media maestros, Stephen Conroy at #1” (Friday, item 4). Yes, he’s the minister; yes, he’s connected, and yes, he’s a lot smarter than the Luddites that preceded him, but Paul Barry has made a mistake by awarding Senator Conroy the No.1 slot.

The power belongs to the innovators and entrepreneurs who design, create and build the digital platforms; the award belongs to the technological leaders, not the people who follow in their footsteps looking to draw the road map (aka the Australian regulatory manual). Senator Conroy is being pulled along in the digital slipstream created by other people.

It’s a sad indictment on the attitudes in the Crikey bunker that prominence is given to a politician rather than an innovator, scientist or venture capitalist. Oh, wait a minute, the pollies are your key subscriber base aren’t they? OK, now I get it. The Order of the Brown Nose #1 award to Crikey!

Asylum seekers:

Jack Ellis writes: Spot on John Richardson (Friday, comments) on the one year anniversary of the Christmas Island tragedy. Thank you for putting in clear concise words what (hopefully) the majority of Australians believe but are too wary of the rabid minority to say it out loud.

Is there any way we can round up the the ranting shock-jocks, put them on one of old refugee boats and send them off to Syria or some other destination where their “talents” would receive the appropriate reward.

S’il vous plait:

Vincent Burke writes: Re. “Butter not margarine, si vous plais” (Friday, item 14). Sorry to be a pedant but your headline to the healthy eating article carries the words Si vous plais, which is not actually French. For “please”, say S’il vous plait which translates literally as “if it pleases you”.

Pedants — like me — can be smart arses, but journalists and editors are supposed to get the detail right, aren’t they? If we relied on phonetics, we’d be writing pleez.

Peter Fray

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