From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

The humblest tweet of his life. Rupert Murdoch, who gave a grovelling apology about his company bribing officials and hacking phones then, in a secretly recorded meeting with his journos, belittled the enquiry into the affair and defended his company’s behaviour, would like to teach us all something about contrition.

Murdoch is hot under the collar about former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who had to resign after being caught out with prostitutes, now seeking a return to a political role. Also in Murdoch’s sights is Crikey favourite Anthony Weiner, who resigned from Congress after getting caught out sending lewd texts (he is now running for mayor of New York City).

Certainly we find this tweet almost unbelievable, Rupert.

Stupidmarket PR. A frequent shopper has rumbled this little stunt:

“Coles has a sheet attached to its cash registers which advises that if there are more than two shoppers in the queue ahead they will take $5 off the bill. At Eastgate in Bondi Junction if you point this out, the cashier says you have to talk to the manager and when you bring it to the attention (eventually) of the store manager he says ‘it’s too late you should have taken it up with the cashier’! Neat huh.”

Party membership. Crikey is interested in how many members political parties have these days. The parties want to reverse long-running declines in membership — the Libs are trying to sign up 1000 members in five weeks, while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is tinkering with ALP rules to entice people to sign up. It turns out the parties conceal their membership numbers as a kind of state secret. Can you help us get to the truth? If you have inside information on how many members there are in the Liberals, ALP or Greens, drop us a line — and you can stay anonymous. Even if you know the numbers for your state, that’s a good start.

Living it up at Fairfax? Australian Financial Review journo Sally Patten was outraged last week about Telstra Super using members’ funds to take a corporate box at the rugby. Well a “Snippy Sydney Morning Herald Scribe” had this to add:

“Ha! Pot, kettle, black … as a Fairfax staffer in the ever-diminishing SMH ranks, I would like to air my complaint of our own management’s opulent effort on a recent weekend — chartered luxury boats, a packed suite of wining and dining, and then back to the city for an open bar tab down at a swish bar in the Rocks. People in glass houses … or should that be, people in a house of cards, shouldn’t throw stones.”

Tips put this to a Fairfax source, who was not sure this tip was correct. Help us clear up the mystery.

IT outsourcing. We’ve had a flood of tips from insiders about companies outsourcing their IT and customer relations to India, the Philippines and New Zealand, apparently with sometimes dire results. There are claims of working being brought over on 457 visas, learning the trade and then going back to work for the Aussie companies from home, with the Australian workers losing their jobs. Some readers have pointed out this may be a breach of 457 rules — aren’t the visas only supposed to be used when suitable local candidates cannot be found?

One disgruntled IT worker had this to say:

“The government should ask why anyone in Australia should bother to learn anything in the IT industry as there won’t be any jobs here. Not the entry level jobs to learn the business and increasingly not the high level jobs either. Good luck in finding onshore programmers and network/systems people to work on security sensitive systems in a few years.”

It certainly seems we’ve tapped into an issue here. Is it true that Optus, Transurban’s NSW-based toll operators Roam and Roam Express, Transurban’s Vic-based group CityLink, The Age and Origin Electricity are in the process of offshoring more services?

And the winner is … Last Wednesday, Tips launched the “guess the next climate sceptic to appear on the opinion pages of The Australian” competition. We got the ball rolling with this guess …

We received many excellent entries from readers. But the winner is … Tips. Since we launched the competition, The Australian has run not one but two articles by Lomborg on its opinion pages. On Friday, Lomborg expounded on the theme that environmentalists have got it all wrong and focus on “largely trivial problems”.

Today’s he’s in there again on the subject of how the solution to climate change (which, in Lomborg’s view, is exaggerated and good for us anyway) in the UK is fracking for shale gas (yes, that’s a fossil fuel), not wind power. So in the three weekday editions of The Australian since we launched our competition, Lomborg has appeared twice. Tips is hereby declared the winner.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form