Julian Assange:

David Hardie writes: Luke Walladge (yesterday, comments) misses a key point in Crikey‘s argument regarding the potential extradition of Julian Assange to the US. Britain will not allow extradition of an individual on crimes that could result in a penalty of death. This places the US in a “Catch-22”: If they choose to charge Assange with espionage, then Britain will invoke the above convention and refuse extradition (arguably even to a third jurisdiction that would allow extradition).

However, Sweden appears to be more amenable to the concept of extraditing individuals on charges that could lead to a death penalty so the US has a better chance of extraditing Assange if he was in custody in Sweden. The case of the “Natwest Three” involving extradition from Britain to the US to face charges is different as the charges (wire fraud) did not attract the death penalty.

Sergio Dezorzi writes: Luke Walladge asserts that Julian Assange’s fear of being extradited from Sweden to the US is a canard because Sweden will not extradite any person to a country with the death penalty.

Walladge’s assertion is nothing other than superficial malicious spin because apart from a death sentence, a life sentence in the harsh privatised prison system of the US may be worse than death, not counting what type of revenge the government may have in store for Assange as deterrent for future potential whistleblowers.

Bruce Dobbie writes: Bradley Manning, the young US soldier in detention in the US, stole — what part of stole don’t you understand? — documents from the US government. Assange received them and published them. He is therefore a receiver of stolen goods or information. Now what could be simpler?

I hope the US government gets hold of him and he gets the punishment he deserves.

Imagine if what he had done had been to Chinese or Russian documents, where would the support come from then.

The Canberra Times:

John Richardson writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. While Crikey‘s highly dramatic editorial observations regarding the closure of The Canberra Times‘ parliamentary bureau seem to reflect a rather confused emotional mindset, ranging from rueful to distraught to high dudgeon, could it be that the demise of this fortress of journalistic endeavour is emblematic of the profound decline in the quality of our nation’s political institutions and the rise of an alienated audience who have just stopped listening anyway?

The media is no different to politics when it comes to fundamentals. While we can debate up hill and down dale about which “model” will deliver the most optimal outcome for stakeholders, at the end of the day, it is the quality of content and its perceived value that will determine if punters will view and pay.

I for one have always welcomed the deafening silence that fills the national landscape each year in December/January, when our politicians and media personalities go on holiday. The urgency attached to their sudden return always seems to raise the question as to how we managed to survive in their absence when, perhaps, our quality of life just might be a whole lot better if they did us a favour and stayed away for good.

News Limited:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Paul Barry: big challenges still ahead of News Ltd” (yesterday, item 2). Paul Barry refers to the success of The New York Times‘ paywall. I have subscribed to this service since it was launched and am very pleased with what I get for my $US35 a month.

The success of the NYT is not something that could be easily replicated — anywhere. If you are prepared to accept that the paper reflects the world view of the US liberal elite, their coverage is incredibly rich: feature stories on the AFL, Black Caviar, and the latest children’s books, for example, as well as broad coverage of science and health, a global view of world affairs and the well-informed and civilised reader comments (the main attractions for me).

On top of this, their screens are relatively clear of advertisements, their page layout is attractive, celebrity gossip is virtually excluded and their intelligent (not automated) linking to related stories show why world-leading, useful, unique content is what attracts subscribers. I can’t see how The Australian can match the NYT.

The Williams case:

Jason King writes: Re. “The legacy of the Williams case: less pork-barrelling?” (yesterday, item 11). Anne Twomey suggests that the “Williams case might have the happy effect of dampening pork-barrelling and forcing community support funding to go through properly legislated and overseen programs.” That may well be the case. However, I do wonder if it might have the opposite effect.

Parties on either side can now make more outrageous promises knowing that they can blame either the High Court, the Greens and crossbenchers or the states if and when they end up breaking those promises.


David Stewart writes: The new Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with Gina Rinehart as owner could take up the second part of the old (pre-Fairfax days) masthead of the Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate.

(Ed’s note: what about The Sydney Mining Herald? Any other suggestions? Email them to [email protected]).