Why jail an old man?

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Rundle: Nazi trial a triumph of our imagined good over evil” (Thursday). It is not often I agree with Guy Rundle but I am at a loss as he clearly is as to why Oskar Groening was ever put on trial, let alone jailed. He is a soldier not a murderer, his evidence, admission of moral guilt and candour was refreshingly honest. He was a critic of Holocaust denial. He sought a transfer on three occasions to duties that could have ended his life. He is not a Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Bashar al-Assad (or his father, or the ICC wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir), Muammar Gaddaffi, let alone Stalin, Hitler or Mao, or any senior henchman.

Recently I read an account of the RAAF in World War II and there is reference to the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in 1942. It read: “These mopping up operations were not particularly pleasant as they involved strafing any barges or rafts with survivors on board before they could reach land.” Unpleasant, but today if committed probably criminal.

Groening has received support from surprising sources. This was reported on the BBC News:

Reacting to the sentence Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor said that she was “disappointed” adding: “They are trying to teach a lesson that if you commit such a crime, you will be punished. But I do not think the court has acted properly in sentencing him to four years in jail. It is too late for that kind of sentence. My preference would have been to sentence him to community service by speaking out against neo-Nazis. I would like the court to prove to me, a survivor, how four years in jail will benefit anybody.”

For me, I agree putting this man in jail serves no purpose at all.

On the magic of space

Gavin Greenoak writes: Re. “We are all in the gutter” (yesterday). Surely an invitation to submit a riposte! Getting to Pluto was easy, compared to what it might take to fix the murky de(b)tritrus of Greece, China’s loss of control, and Bronwyn Bishop’s somewhat representative assumptions as a politician. I can pick up a grain of sand from the beach and if I look at it electron microscopically, it is “amazing”! Actually, amazing. Unique. And quite dead. I do not need to spend approximately $700m to be amazed at my own cleverness. Not, when all around me the gutter runs with blood and sewage.

When I have fixed this sore, healed this wound, the smell of which has now reached Pluto, oh Crikey, Yeah! This earth planet of ours is not an icy dead rock, 7.5 billion kilometers away, it is most wonderfully, miraculously, livingly present. Literally right under my nose. And this extraordinary scientific achievement has not improved the human smell of it one jot.

On Shorten’s funding

Peter Rosier writes: Re. “Shorten’s late declaration larger and later than thought” (yesterday). I provide, probably to no effect,  my third criticism of you in two or so weeks. I am appalled that you highlight a minor discrepancy in the Shorten political donation declarations, without detailing in any way (Kaspar Wowser aside) Bronwyn Bishop’s greedy feeding at the trough of the taxpayer.  Am I  correct that Shorten’s error in disclosing donations is about $23,000 when Bishop has abused the taxpayer’s generosity for $90,000?  As well, I should say,  as  (on one view, in my view, the correct view) simply deliberately claiming some $5,000 to which she wasn’t entitled. Being given money by a donor is one thing, spending the taxpayers’ funds is another.

My first unreported complaint was that you were plain wrong about Peter Breen’s political allegations. You chose not to correct the record. Were you ashamed of such a blatant error? My second related to the incorrect interpretation you put on Heydon’s injunctions to Shorten about his evidence. Fairness to Shorten demanded that you do so (even Fairfax was willing  to!). Hendon did not question Shorten’s credibility.

Bernard on nukes in the Middle East

Michael Kane writes: Re. “Abbott’s double standard on a nuclear-free Middle East” (yesterday). Bernard Keane is so right on the agreement with Iran. I await our government’s positive support of the US president  in recognising how important Iran is to the future of a region which the West has destabilised since 1914. We need Iran along with Turkey and Egypt, all around in one form or another long before he United States, to take the lead in producing a positive political and economic map beyond the machinations  of corrupt politics and religious mania. The West certainly cannot do it having generally been part of the problem; neither can the Saudis or Israel  as both states’ current practices contribute massively to the very destabilisation that has brought such misery to the region and beyond.

Bring back our troops from the region and spend the savings  on diplomacy and business. For once Australia might make a positive contribution to international relations as the United States seems seems to be attempting. I suspect both our minister for communications and our foreign minister  understand this. I wish the Opposition had the courage to articulate it.  The way ahead is hard but history demonstrates that long term diplomatic solutions are not impossible but just harder than killing people and preaching hate, racism or both.

Les Heimann writes: Bernard Keane’s rant at Abbott’s double standard when it comes to the middle east is essentially correct. “Essentially” in that whilst Israel is known to have nuclear weapons, they have not used them during the twenty plus years they have possessed them. Neither has Russia or the USA or Great Britain. It isn’t about possessing nuclear weapons — it is about using them and if the Syrian regime had these weapons they certainly would have used them.

Israel is not a participant in the Sunni/Shia war raging over all of the Muslim world. However, Israel is the victim of choice for all Muslims who refuse to acknowledge its existence and profess loudly, constantly and vociferously to annihilate every Israeli. Bernard Keane calls the government of Israel “openly racist” and bases this on an hysterical article written in the heat of the Israeli election. I object to this. I’m not saying the current Israeli government is pure and “decently leftish”. Far from it, I see the current Israeli government as on a par with the Canadian, British, US Republican & Australian governments — all extremist right wing and elitist.

So why single out Israel in this way Bernard; these “elitist” leaders are not truly representative of the people they rule and are not rulers through popular franchise — look at Abbott as a good example; a pugilistic and inveterate confrontationist who lied his way into power . Just what would be your attitude and actions Bernard if collectively Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and China wanted to kill every Australian?

On negative gearing

John Hewett writes: Re. “Activist Reserve Bank joins the negative gearing critics” (yesterday). Joe Hockey’s defence of negative gearing on grounds of principle is flawed. He asserts “by removing negative on real estate as some are suggesting … they are creating an exception to a standing rule in taxation law, and that is that you can deduct the losses against another form of income.” This is a contortion of the true, and arguably most fundamental, principle, that applies to our taxation system, which is that the costs of an enterprise are set off against the gross revenue of the enterprise, in order to calculate the assessable income (i.e. profit). It’s a further feature of the system that the losses of one enterprise can be set off against a second source of income if they are both derived by the same taxpayer. Properly conceived, the loss being set off against other income needs to be incurred in a genuine enterprise, i.e. some potentially profit-making venture that although not currently profitable realistically will be in the foreseeable future. The substantial majority of Australian negatively geared real estate investments are no such thing. The gearing is so high and the income derived so relatively low there is no hope of a profit ever being derived. It’s all about the eventual capital gain. Refusing a deduction for this type of negative gearing is not an exception to the principle, it is an affirmation of the real principle.

A brief history of Polish gongs

Gordon Kerry writes: Re. “Tips and rumours: Joe de Bruyn wins a Polish gong” (yesterday). Just for Ms Tips’ edification: Australian pianist Roger Woodward is a commander of the Polish Order of Merit, conferred in 1995, I think, for his support of Solidarity.

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