Over the top interpretations. Reading the tea leaves of state election results to discern what might happen federally is difficult enough. For me the task of projecting from New South Wales local government polls what will happen when Julia Gillard goes to the polls is impossible. I am thus ignoring all this morning’s commentary.

Media not all powerful in politics. One conclusion I am prepared to draw is that the easy re-election victory of Sydney law mayor Clover Moore should give us reassurance that the media is not all powerful in how people vote. The city’s biggest selling newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, and the top rating talk radio station 2GB have been almost hysterically anti-Moore for years. But Saturday’s vote proved that people are quite capable of ignoring tabloid and shock-jock nonsense.

The troika investigates and the vigilantes act. As the troika comprising the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank continue their investigation into proposed austerity measures by the Greek government, the social unrest in the country grows. The latest reports on the money men suggest that the investigators have rejected some €2 billion ($2.6 billion) of proposed spending and revenue measures the government had hoped would help meet budget targets for the next two years. The latest stories on the social consequences of cuts and tax rises already made tell of an attack on immigrants’ stalls at a church fete in Rafina, northeast of Athens, on Friday night.

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Supporters of the neofacist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party proudly exhibited a video of their actions against what they called migrant street traders operating without permits on their official website. Two members of the Greek Parliament who took part promised that raids would continue across the country, until authorities “decide to do their job and stop encouraging illegality.”

A convention jump in presidential polling. The hoopla of the United States political party conventions seems to have helped Barack Obama. The latest polls that Gallup publishes daily show his approval rating above 50% for the first time in over a year and give him a clear lead in the voting intentions of registered voters.

Pay television may be worthwhile after all. All those re-runs of television shows from years gone by might have a purpose other than nostalgia after all. A new paper that describes two studies by Jaye Derrick, PhD, research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, found that watching a rerun of a favorite TV show may help restore the drive to get things done in people who have used up their reserves of willpower or self-control.

Guantanamo Bay a wonderful place for butterflies. Don’t worry about the inmates at the Guantanamo Bay naval base — concentrate on the butterflies. That’s the motto of a team of University of Florida scientists who have discovered a vast diversity of butterflies and moths on the apart of Cuba leased to the United States back in 1903.

According to the researchers the land has unintentionally become a wildlife refuge, offering them the opportunity to better understand the island’s natural habitats. Located in the southeast corner of Cuba, its unique and complex geological history of volcanic activity, erosion and shifting sea levels resulted in geological deposits closely associated with marine environments.

“We are comparing the moths and butterflies collected at GTMO to those recorded from the U.S., Bahamas, other nearby islands and Central America,” said study co-author Jacqueline Y. Miller, curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity on the UF campus.

“With the historical geology of the area, there are some potentially new species and such surveys enable us to better understand the evolutionary history of butterflies and moths.”

Just thought you’d like to know that something good is coming out of Guantanamo Bay.

News and views noted along the way:

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Peter Fray
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