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May 28, 2012

Weekly Open Thread, 28 May - 1 June 2012

I don't know about you, but I've got a feeling that this will be the week that the national media turn it around. That they show us what a fine Fourth Estate they really can be. That po

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a feeling that this will be the week that the national media turn it around. That they show us what a fine Fourth Estate they really can be. That political journalists start focusing on policy, that the newspapers foster a real debate between experts on all sides to assess the merits of various pieces of legislation, that opinion columnists don’t try to deceive readers with half-truths and outright lies.

I can’t wait!

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80 thoughts on “Weekly Open Thread, 28 May – 1 June 2012

  1. podrick

    Bugger, it was Pyning for attention!

  2. Matthew of Canberra

    “Apparently, Monckton is a birther. What a shock.”

    Uh, huh. And all we need now is a bit of support for intelligent design and we’ll have a full set.

  3. Fran Barlow

    The Oz does it again lying over wind farms:

    Queensland Health rebukes The Australian on wind farms

    [A “growing body of evidence” that wind farm noise could have health effects has prompted Queensland Health to call for caution when approving wind farm developments]

    says the OO … but was this so? Apparently not.

    [Climate Spectator called the Queensland Department of Health to verify this report and was told: “The Australian report is not correct.”]

    Gosh … not correct? How surprising!

  4. Lola

    From an article on the Daily Tele website:

    “Mr Abbott addressed his own party room, with polls showing his satisfaction level had hit a low of 60 per cent.”

    Except 60% is his DISSATISFACTION level. His satisfaction is at 31%.


  5. monkeywrench

    I’m not going to repeat some of the cruel personal slurs – notably over someone’s looks……….the truth of the proposition that the self-regarding moralist feels entitled by his superior goodness to be vicious.

    This from a man who wound up in court because of a blog which contained “mistakes”…relating to the appearance of a group of people. You’d hardly credit it.

  6. MR

    Remember Casey?


    On MTR disussing the issue of bullying and the attendent socio-economic issues of this particular case, Bolt described the boy’s father as “looking like he’d been dragged through life by the ankles.”

    Apparently one needs a billion or 29 before standards of civility are required and apologies demanded…

  7. Lola

    Re: My last post. Surprise, surprise the good moderators at the Daily Tele chose not to publish my comment pointing out the fact they have printed information that is flat out wrong.

  8. splangy

    On Monkton, the buried lead in that story was he was appearing on behalf of the Heartland institute. Basically reinforcing the notion that Monkton will expouse any belief you pay him to, just like his Climate Change position..

  9. littlemaths

    Abbott and Pyne literally running from the chamber to avoid “accepting” Thomson’s vote ranks amongst the most childish acts in this parliament. Revolting.

  10. Angra

    Pyne and Abbott try to run out of the chambrer in record time to avoid being associated with Thompson – who actually voted with them. Priceless! Abbott’s cycling exercise doesn’t seem to have done him much good.

    Parliament is a farce.

    And to make it worse, Government seems to be set on allowing on-line gambling, while cracking down on such evil vices as smoking and drinking.

    Before I become a complete anarchist and start throwing asparagus, let the Greens have a go and bring some decency back to Parliament.

  11. Angra

    Condamine river – flammable methane has been found bubbling out of the river just downstream of an Origen CSG mine.

    Coverage on ABC and Youtube.

    Frack fracking!

  12. fred p

    I note that with the news format at News Ltd sites, trollumnist’s blog seems to have lost it’s own search function (OK, so I do go there occasionally). Seems awfully convenient for someone who must tire of having his hyp-… er, previous inconsistent statements pointed out to him so frequently.

  13. Matthew of Canberra

    What the australian reported yesterday


    “For the record, there were no alleged death threats except when journalists picked up the story.”

    Notice that full stop? That shouldn’t be there. That sentence isn’t finished.

    What Ian Chubb actually said:

    Senator RYAN: There were media stories about alleged death threats to scientists at the ANU.

    CHAIR: Known very well to you.

    Prof. Chubb : No.

    Senator RYAN: They were not?

    Prof. Chubb : The original article contained a comment about death threats to scientists in Australia. The journalist had spoken to 30 or so people, she said. Towards the end of the article, she quoted me as saying I had moved some people within the ANU. I was Vice-Chancellor of the ANU, not Chief Scientist, at the time.

    Senator RYAN: I appreciate that.

    Prof. Chubb : As a responsibility to staff, I moved them. That is it. I do not think you can find a quote attributed to me where I said they had received death threats.

    Senator RYAN: Professor Chubb, maybe this is the reason you reacted before. At no point have I mentioned your name in respect of this at this point. I am merely trying to summarise the issue. So I am not mentioning—and I have not, for the record—your name. I have talked about there being media reports.

    Prof. Chubb : For the record, there were no alleged death threats except when journalists picked up the story later that those death threats applied to scientists at the ANU.

    Senator RYAN: Before that story broke, in terms of your dealings with it at the ANU, there were no death threats over the emails that were referred to in that media story?

    Prof. Chubb : While I was Vice-Chancellor there, yes. Senator, the story goes a bit like this. Somewhere early in 2010 I had a representation from a senior member of my then staff, as he was, saying that staff in his area were concerned about emails they had been getting. They had had a couple of visits from people who had walked in off the street. We looked at what we could do. We moved them. Senator, we did not make a fanfare. We did not go public. We simply moved them and got on with our business. I did it then. I would do it today if I were still Vice-Chancellor of the ANU and that individual came and told me that same story. I was pleased that I did it because I was a responsible employer.

    Senator RYAN: Professor Chubb, I am not having a crack at you here. I did not have a crack at you earlier when you reacted to the initial line of questioning. So they brought to your attention emails that were, it is fair to describe, of a threatening nature?

    Prof. Chubb : Well, they were at least abusive. But let me also be clear because, as I made clear to a journalist who asked me in the last couple of months, I did not read the emails. I trusted the man. He was a senior member of the staff and he represented the concerns of his staff to me.

    Senator RYAN: And it was part of the research school or a particular department or faculty?

    Prof. Chubb : It was in a particular building, yes.

    Senator RYAN: And so you did not see the emails. I was not aware of your public comment on that, but I appreciate that. You took his concerns at face value and then you physically moved these people location-wise within the ANU. Is that what you are referring to?

    Prof. Chubb : Well, I did not move them physically personally.

    Senator RYAN: Their physical location—

    Prof. Chubb : It was moved, yes.

    Senator RYAN: That is what you mean when you say you moved them. You did not move them in or out of any particular school?

    Prof. Chubb : I did not drive the truck, no. No. They just moved offices.

    Senator RYAN: But it also was not moving departments or anything like that?

    Prof. Chubb : No. They moved behind a door that had a swipe card access rather than were in a building with about four, maybe five, doorways open to the public.

    So … essentially what has already been reported. I still fail to see how any of this “debunks” the story that there were threats and abuse leveled and climate researchers. And that introduces another worrying angle … was prof chubb suggesting that death threats DID arise from the reporting? Why was that sentence fragment left out of the australian’s report?

  14. Holden Back
  15. jules

    Angra I don’t think that’s the first time crap has ended up in the Condamine from a CSG well.

  16. Mercurial

    Lola @ 37, they only published two comments on that story. Wonder what it was about those two?

  17. fractious

    I have just watched the first part of 7.30 where Uhlman tried to interview Geoffrey Robertson QC on the British High Court’s verdict on Julian Assange.

    All I can say is: God Bless Geoffrey Robertson and all who sail in her. Leaving the seriousness of the High Court’s verdict and its implications for Assange aside for a minute, Robertson conducted what I can only call a 3 minute Master Class in how to treat opinionated, irritating and purblind fools like Uhlman. About 2/3 through Robertson complained of noises in his left ear, as if there were “technical difficulties”, and then proceeded to expound in detail his case against the European Court of Human Rights, paying especial and particular attention to the legitimacy of the Grand Jury in Virginia, all the while carrying on as if he had no idea how increasingly frustrated Uhlman was becoming that his interruptions were going unnoticed. After a few more minutes Uhlman butted in again, saying that he had to end the interview. Curiously, Robertson seemed to hear this, as if the “technical difficulties” had suddenly cleared up.

    Perhaps there really were “technical difficulties” that prevented Robertson from hearing Uhlman’s plaintive attempts at interrupting him. But given how inconsistently these “difficulties” appeared and disappeared, I like to imagine not…

  18. Phil Vee

    Matthew of Canberra @ 44
    You know how it works. “Normal” threats and abuse are now irrelevant to the argument. It is all about ….. Death Threats! The Right will now focus their laser intelligence on Death Threats and correctly explain how there were none at one Uni in a six month period. Thus debunking conclusively the Death Threats! story while failing to talk about the “normal” threats that actually did happen.

    Sometimes I stand in awe of their skill at taking a simple story and turning it around to suit themselves.

  19. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    Why was that sentence fragment left out of the australian’s report?

    I assume the Oz’s reporter at the hearing couldn’t make much sense of it either. I’m still scratching my head. Did Chubb mean he wasn’t aware there were death threats until the later media storm? He, after all, hadn’t actually sighted any emails at the time (which was reported by the Oz, though that bit has been filtered out by the usual purveyors of binary narratives).

    So, the reporter went with the 5 second grab. And why not? — after all Chubb did say something very much if not exactly like it.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I got the sense Chubb was happy enough to let it go. A no-win situation really, if he’d said anything less neutral either way it would have just uselessly stoked the embers anew and distracted from his real purpose there as Chief Scientist.

  20. Matthew of Canberra

    “The Right will now focus their laser intelligence on Death Threats”

    Yeah. The right. The same right that is currently trumpeting:

    “For a man allegedly too suicidal for scrutiny, Craig Thomson doesn’t mind drawing attention to himself …”


    “Craig Thomson’s new don’t-attack-me excuse”


    “Labor is playing a reckless game of suicide bluff over Craig Thomson”

    And that’s a guy with the means to talk back. Nah. THAT right isn’t even going to blink when a specific death threat with time, place and method is written across the sky in rainbow smoke. With glitter. And lasers.

    The same right runs a whack-a-mole against a scientific consensus – tell them the temperature is rising, they say it’s not our fault. Prove we’re doing it, it’s not a problem. Tell them it’s a problem, they point to a chart that says the temperate isn’t rising (since tuesday) or that everyone is lying. Are these people able to dismiss a death threat? Yeah, that’s a warm-up problem, something akin to 3 or 4 star jumps:

    – I don’t condone, but I understand …
    – Yet another smear …
    – Why only now?
    – Doubts cast ….
    – “You should see my inbox”

    And you know it’s true. The problem of whether there were actually death threats was just a procedural process. A section on the flow-chart.

    Now … I could go further to the next step, and why it wouldn’t pose a problem to the shriekers, but I fear I might be laid waste in moderating.

  21. jules

    fractious – just watched the interview after reading your post.

    Uhlmann really doesn’t deserve his job does he. Its one thing to interrupt someone who is waffling for the sake of avoiding passing on useful info, ie when there is more noise than signal, but that certainly wasn’t happening in that interview.

  22. Matthew of Canberra

    “Will incestuous couples want marriage rights?”


    I spotted it yesterday on Andrew (“it offends me to hear someone say gays and lesbians are not normal”) Bolt’s message board.

    It’s the usual stuff – a combination of “I don’t like it”, status-quo bias and “we’ll all be rooned” slippery-slope fantasmagoria.

    Once again, it appears that the case against has run out of arguments relevant to the problem at hand. They can’t credibly point to any harm that can come from allowing gay couples to marry now, so they’ve moved on to hypothesizing harm that can come from other things we might do at some hypothetical date in the future … and then trying to draw parallels.

    The novel aspect to this one is that the author tries to debunk the “but nobody’s DEMANDING brother-sister marriage and polygamy” with a couple of examples. The first is to point to “James Dominguez of Bisexual Alliance Victoria” and a case in germany of a brother-sister relationship that has given birth to children.

    Here’s the problem – anything the human mind can dream up, somebody somewhere will want it. There’s a meme about the internet and porn, but I can’t remember how it goes just now. So yes, it’s actually pretty easy to find examples of incestuous relationships and people who favor polygamy. But by quoting these examples, the author does undermine his own case a a bit.

    Van Gend writes “The day we cut marriage adrift from the rock of nature, from the mammalian order of male-female-young, is the day we lose any fundamental reason to deny “marriage equality” to any consenting adults”

    Well, no. That’s ridiculous. We DO have fundamental reasons to discriminate heartily against incestuous marriages for one very simple reason. And all it takes to spot that reason is to read the wiki page on the german case:


    I won’t quote it. Read it in full. The ethical, sensible, logical case against incestuous marriage jumps right off the page. That’s not a slippery slope, that’s a rock-slide blocking the road. And the couple isn’t asking for marriage rights – they’re asking the UCHR to stop germany from sending dad to the slammer for breaking the law. The kids are already born. The horse has bolted. Marriage is irrelevant to that case.

    And as for polygamy: As various have said here before – when somebody can come up with a legal framework for polygamous marriages which respects and preserves all parties’ rights and deals with the problems of consent, property rights, fair divorce and custody, and when somebody can show that it works, then I really don’t see any problem with polygamy. It’s not for me (but then, I’m happily single). I just have my doubts that such a framework exists.

  23. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    The problem of whether there were actually death threats was just a procedural process.

    Timmeh Blair reckons that the deadly activities of eco-anarchist groups in Europe “rather puts local claims into perspective.” So, if that mother who was sent threats of sexual violence against her children thinks she has problems, she should try being actually shot dead. See how she likes that!

    You see, “local claims” are simply an artefact of energy being driven into the climate debate.

    Or, as one of Andy’s commenters put it the other day, “real-word robust public scrutiny and criticism” (Wake up Australia of Pennant Hills, Tue 29 May 2012, 10:38am).

    So, Australian climate boffins need to just STFU and cop it sweet, because their whining is simply driving more and more energy into the climate debate.

    Al Capone could have put it somewhat more succinctly, but we are after all civilised people here.

  24. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    Sorry, stuffed up the first link… “rather puts local claims into perspective.”

  25. Angra

    MoC – SBS have a programme tonight on polygamy, which should be interesting.

    On polygamy being legally recognised there’s PNG, several African countries, and quite a few other places. Not that it doean’t cause problems and discriminate against women, but there is a recognised alternative argument.

    See “The Return of the Tribe” a excellent doco on PNG people being taken to the UK to experience western life – including a second wife – who points out some of the advantages from her perspective. The West doesn’t come out smelling of roses.

  26. returnedman

    An “independent” (or should that be “fee-paying”) school goes under in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs as they drown in $18million worth of debt, and there are calls for taxpayer dollars to bail out incompetent financial management IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

    If this had been a state school in the Jeff Kennett era with 1% of the difficulties this school is in, he would have closed it. In fact, a state school wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near that sort of financial difficulty or managerial incompetence without the brakes being put on by the department well in advance.

    Where are the calls for the affected children to be given priority in nearby state schools and for an action plan put in place to accommodate them so that the transition is as comfortable as possible for them?

    The thought out there seems to be that the state system would sink under the weight of 1200 extra students. Give me a break – so many schools, particularly in that area, are nowhere near capacity. The absorption would occur with barely a whimper. Many families would look for other private schools anyway. Let the school FAIL – but not the students.

    Isn’t that supposed to be the way of the free market?

    Yet another example of how the unchecked, subsidised private school system can so easily fail and let down families.

  27. returnedman

    Incidentally, the Mowbray teachers went on strike 3 or 4 years ago. The problems at that school were evident even back then. Strange there’s no mention of it in the media today.

  28. returnedman

    Just checked some of the media on this. All pretty predictable.

    My suggestion to the Mowbray administrators:

    1. Sell the site to the Dept of Education
    2. Use the money to pay the teachers, run the school, and get the VCE students through their exams.
    3. Work with the Department to re-open the school as a public institution from the start of 2013. It can even re-employ the same staff that were made redundant.

  29. littlemaths

    Holden @ 45

    Saw the preview a few weeks back and could not stop thinking the same thing. Vaguely off-putting, frankly.

  30. Mercurial

    Ita Buttrose on Today show this morning: the federal government is killing the mining industry. Investors will shy away from Australia if this continues (ignoring the $500 billion in investments in the pipeline). Africa looks increasingly attractive….
    And the fiasco in parliament yesterday with Abbott and Pyne bolting for the door was all Thomson’s fault.

    I used to admire that woman. Not any more. I wonder if Rupe is paying her.

  31. Matthew of Canberra

    What a load of self-indulgent crap:

    “Slipping moral standards bring out the worst in us”


    A very short memory, I see. And a propensity to blame the wrong people, and the wrong things. And the ludicrous implied proposition that religion and tough laws would turn out the loveliest people who’d never hurt a fly while they sing with their beautiful voices about lovely things.

    Of course … that’s never actually happened. Never, and nowhere.

    What a load of crap.

  32. s.applin

    @ SVH in the weekend open thread.

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, work and illness have got in the way of blogging again.

    You’ve just demonstrated why I’m not, and shouldn’t be involved in setting the criteria for credible studies.

    On the setting of the investigation criteria you have quite correctly pointed out that I don’t know much about setting up a credible study, and you have defined the criteria for “progressive” and “conservative” much better than I could have.

    I didn’t intend to link the study of PR driven news to bias against progressive & left wing matters, but as an example of credible proof that most of the print media in this country is bullshit, apologies if my post came across that way.

    I tried to find the PDF I had of the ACIJ report so I could check the percentage split, but couldn’t find where I saved it. It would not, unfortunately, surprise me in the least if you were right and I was wrong on the percentage.

    Going back to the question, is anyone aware of such a study having ever been done?

  33. gtpfb13

    “purveyors of binary narratives”.

    What a perfect description!!

  34. Angra

    Carr says we’ve done more that enough to help Assange, and there is no evidence that the US is planning to take any action against him.

    Does Carr have access to the Internets? What about the secret Grand Jury convened to prosecute Assange? and the calls by senior US politicians for him to be targetted “just like Al Quaeda”?


    “Folks like Julian Assange should be targeted as terrorists. They should be captured and kept in Guantanamo Bay, or killed. ” – said on air by Stuart Gill a US equivalent to Alan Jones.

    And Rush Linbaugh “Back in the old days when men were men and countries were countries, this guy would die of lead poisoning from a bullet in the brain. ”

    And Sarah Palin “Julian Assange should be targeted like the Taliban ”

    Carr has very quickly been assimilated by the Borg.

  35. Matthew of Canberra

    “And Rush Linbaugh “Back in the old days when men were men and countries were countries, this guy would die of lead poisoning from a bullet in the brain.”

    Were those the same days like when georgi markov died from a pellet in the leg? Maybe things are better now than they were then?

  36. Matthew of Canberra

    I’m not sure sweden would stand to gain very much by handing assange over to the US. It would trash their international reputation, although I doubt if it would have much impact on their export industries – people are far too self-interested to care about things like that for more than a few weeks.

  37. Matthew of Canberra

    Ok, this is doing my head in:


    The Opposition argues that legalising forms of online poker would dramatically increase the amount of gambling online.

    Opposition Leader Tony Abbott asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard about the changes in Question Time.

    “I refer the Prime Minister to a Government report released this week that recommends Australia now permit online gambling,” he said.

    “Will the Prime Minister rule out changing the law to permit this dangerous expansion of gambling to the internet, iPads and iPhones?”

    Mr Abbott says the Coalition will fight any attempt to expand online gambling.

    Er … WHAT!??! Oooh, I get it – it’ll be competition for clubs. I see now. Very principled.

  38. SonofMogh
  39. jules

    Matt @ 61 – thats a baying piece of fascist shite if ever I’ve seen one.

    [Not just a crime, but a culture.

    But that’s the trouble. A lone criminal we can just punish, but an underclass?

    To fix that demands more restraint from us all – examples to set and freedoms to temper.

    Too much. Look away.]

    Love this comment, the first:

    [barry of vic Posted at 2:50 PM Today

    We warned of this 20 years ago that it was coming .. now we just have to deal with the problem . But first we need a government that doesn’t belong to the underclass.]

    I would suggest citizens militia with smgs and gm anthrax – specially modified to:

    Bolt is simply an EDIT, with EDIT EDIT, and an EDIT attitude along with EDIT of EDIT, and EDIT.

    (Edited to protect freedom of speech.)

  40. monkeywrench

    Oh Dear: Leveson Live is rivetting. Jeremy Hunt is starting to look like a gibbet victim, swinging gently in the cold breeze of QC Robert Jay’s relentlessly calm dissection of his actions.

  41. monkeywrench


    Africa looks increasingly attractive….

    and I heartily encourage the stupid old snob to emigrate. I’ll even pay her fare ( steerage, of course).

  42. silkworm

    Wixxy examines the evidence provided by Fairfax regarding the pictured credit card, the transaction slip, the driver’s licence and the sample signature.


  43. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    Jonathan Holmes…

    The last question to consider is this: what precisely is the point of The Australian’s obsessive reporting on this matter? Why was it worthy of front page treatment in the first place?

    Is it simply that our national broadsheet loves to pick holes in its rivals’ reporting? Well, yes, it certainly does that – but even its warped sense of news values would surely not consider that alone worthy of a front page lead.

    The underlying message, it seems to me, is this: these climate scientists and their allies in the left-wing media are alarmists. They’re alarmist about death threats, they’re alarmist about the perils of climate change.

    And the fact that many quite ordinary scientists, who are simply trying to do their job, are the recipients of the most revolting abuse is apparently not worthy of report.

    The above article is not paywalled, while The Australian’s campaigning on this topic — flagged publicly by somewhat combative, stentorian headlines — usually is. If the Oz wants to continue its very public spat with Holmes it ought to, in the public interest, make all further content on this matter freely available to public scrutiny. I’ve become less and less convinced anyway that it’s worth paying good money for.

  44. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    Oh no! Another crit against you know who…

    External aggression has long been a News Corp trait, but perhaps the attacks on journalism educators on two continents betray a new edge. It is a political axiom that the presence of an external enemy builds internal solidarity. In Britain, News is embroiled in the biggest media scandal in living memory, one that goes to the heart of its governance procedures and throws doubt on the future direction of all its operations. As News Corp’s internal desperation grows, it is likely that the ferocity of its attacks against its critics will escalate.

    Time for another vituperative editorial, Chris?

  45. Angra

    Johnny gets a gong from Queenie.

    But has anyone noticed his eyes? He seems to now not need glasses and maybe is using contacts (or has had laser surgery)?

    Commendable if true.

    But there’s a disturbing open-eyed stare which I hadn’t noticed before.

    Has he had a make-over?

    Rather weird.

  46. Howard,B.

    Whilst I haven’t been paying much attention to this whole were-there-death-threats back-and-forth, I can’t help but notice the similarities between the interactions of our prominent media professionals and an argument about who said what within the comments section.

  47. Bloods05

    Johnny was just lovestruck, that’s all. He did but see her passing by.

  48. Matthew of Canberra

    Re the order of merit. I believe there was a simpsons episode along the same lines. Basically, it’s the no-kevins club. But they’ll mend their ways when they see his birthmark!

    Cretien’s a member as well. Sorry, but that sets a certain lower-bound on that “merit” thing. The upper bound is shared by berners-lee and attenborough – I think most of merit sits with that pair along. But it’s still basically the queen’s invitation-only playgroup. When one of the lads gets to choose who’s in it, it’ll be a bunch of coke-addled supermodels, dot-com billionaires and rap musicians that none of us will have even heard of.

  49. Fran Barlow

    [I’ve become less and less convinced anyway that it’s worth paying good money for.]

    Or even counterfeit money for. I wouldn’t use it to line a kittle litter tray. If public discourse were part of the biosphere, News Ltd would be toxic waste.

    Most environmentalists love wilderness, but with News Ltd in public space, what we have is a wasteland.