Rio Tinto, the rich and the poor. In Australia it is wealthy Hunter Valley horse stud owners complaining about coal mining companies like Rio Tinto ruining their lifestyle. In Mozambique it is 1429 families in coal-rich Tete province forced to swap their fertile land for new dry and dusty farming plots no longer capable of growing the staples like and maize and sorghum they used to survive on.
Spruiking the odds. I’ve been a bit reluctant to buy into the debate about Tom Waterhouse and his paid for television appearances. I don’t know him well but have worked over the years with both his father and grandfather in the bookmaking and punting business. And I guess I was the first bookmaker anywhere to sponsor a football team. Well, not a team really, but a coach. When the cameras zoomed in on Denis Pagan many years ago when he was the boss at North Melbourne there was the sign of the bookmaking company I was chairman of. These days it’s hard to watch a game of anything in Australia and Britain without signage that in retrospect makes my old lot look absolutely timid.
Well, now that disclosure of conflicted interests is out of the way and you can blame me for starting it all, I do offer one observation. You can be confident for two reasons that young Tom’s advertisements are working in building his business. The first is that no one would keep taking the shellacking he gets unless it were bringing in new customers. And the second is the alacrity with which his foreign-owned competitors are now urging that restrictions be placed on him.
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The real betting scandal. Meanwhile in India, where they have no legal internet and phone sports bookies, and certainly no display of odds on television, they are in the midst of a real sports betting scandal. For seven days in a row now it has been front-page headline news in The Times of India:
Two for the price of one. The Hazel Hawke I remember was a campaign strategist’s dream. She was every bit as popular as then husband Bob — probably more so after his first couple of years as prime minister — and could deliver a message with a self-effacing good humour to all types of crowds. If he was on one side of the country electioneering, she would provide a wonderful photo opportunity on the other without appearing overtly political.
And when the PM was getting a bit tetchy and stressed, Hazel provided the perfect antidote. Bringing the first couple back together was the perfect antidote to preventing him getting off the tactical straight and narrow. Labor really did, back in those days, get two for the price of one.
A missed photo opportunity. What a pity there was no photographer at hand: former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has revealed he was once jumped on by a panda when he dared himself to enter its cage.
Giscard d’Estaing, 87, told a conference, reports the BBC, he had been visiting Vincennes Zoo in Paris, where his daughter was on work experience, when he decided to test his “presidential courage”. A panda leapt on him and staff had to free him from its claws.
News and views noted along the way.
- Carole King receives Gershwin Prize from Barack Obama — “As a solo artist, King became the first female solo artist to sell more than 10 million copies of a single album with her 1971 release, Tapestry. It topped the chart for 15 weeks and spawned hits I Feel The Earth Move, It’s Too Late and So Far Away.
- Syrian rebels in trouble: German intelligence sees Assad regaining hold
- Universal flu jab ‘edges closer’ — “A way of creating more effective vaccines which could protect against a broad range of flu viruses has been reported by US researchers.”
- The saga of the flaming zucchini — A review of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
- Like your mother warned, chilly winter air does indeed promote colds
- Fukushima No. 1 can’t keep its head above tainted water — “More than two years into the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, workers continue to wage a desperate battle to keep the stricken reactors cool while trying to contain the 400 tons of radioactive water produced by the process each day.”
- The Shooting Star and The Model — “When Oscar Pistorius — the South African ‘Blade Runner,’ who overcame a double amputation to compete in the Olympics last year — shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day, the millions he’d inspired were faced with a shocking possibility: that their hero was also a killer.”
- The invisible-border war — “A half-century after the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the border between China and India remains undefined and a constant source of friction between the world’s two most populous countries.”
- Not green, just Soylent: is this the future of food? — “The substance is intended to provide all the nutrients and calories a human body needs — in other words, to replace food. Mix the powder with water and drink.”
- Che Guevara lives on among Latin America’s youth
- Good (and bad) news from the Open Access front