Open threads

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

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. Mercurial

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

  5. jules

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

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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..

  12. 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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

  15. 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%.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. podrick

    Bugger, it was Pyning for attention!

  19. Bloods05

    Of course Bolt’s a EDIT, like all wowsers. But when you agree with him, it should make you stop and think.

  20. zoot

    Let me see if I’ve got it right.
    Casting aspersions on an Aboriginal because they’re “too white” is an issue of free speech, which we must valiantly strive to preserve in our fight against the forces of Political Correctness.
    On the other hand, remarking on a billionaire’s obesity is a personal slur and anybody casting such an aspersion should be silenced.
    Does that cover it?

  21. monkeywrench

    Monckton “must have been smoking crack”, according to a US talk-show host. Apparently, Monckton is a birther. What a shock.

  22. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Bloodshot, the point is Bolt has regularly mocked the apperances of others (I remember him posting a female punk a few years ago and calling her an “uncivilised savage” or something similar) which makes him a hypocrite. He also presides over blog comments in which Gillard’s appearance is ridiculed frequently. I didn’t see Bolt jumping out to defend Catherine Deveny when another News Ltd blogger made fun of her weight. Hyporcrites, the lot of them.

  23. Bloods05

    Yes, they were cheap shots, but some of them were funny. Loosen up. RobJ, you are spot-on. Bolt’s objections, we can safely assume, have to do with the targets of their jibes rather than their content, but when you find yourself making common cause with him you really should be asking yourself if you’re getting way too earnest.

  24. Fran Barlow

    It’s amusing thjat the trollumnist objects despite working for a group that rendered an image of the PM as an ageing baglady, runs caricatures of her with a beak and outsize buttocks, and in The Punch today has her prone and bloodied by Abbott.

    Now personally, I don’t like people lambasting people over their physical appearance and that’s especially salient in the case of women. There is an awful history. While I’m not the least bit sympathetic to Gina Rinehart’s “social being” I do wish people would refrain from raising her appearance when they really want to attack her conduct. It’s a cheap shot that demeans us all.

    If Rinehart were a paragon of ethics and generosity to her fellow human beings, I daresay that none but RW misanthropes like the trollumnist would notice her body type or facial features. For those of us for whom the wellbeing and integrity of humanity is a starting point for ethical conduct, dealing with behaviour ought always to sweep aside engaging with the superficial.

    As I said more briefly in another context on twitter last night, the slur cuts deep because the right forged this weapon in defence of privilege and can now be hoist by it. Yet we on the left cannot wield this weapon without hurting ourseleves, for our mission is to destroy all such forges and to spur our fellows to find the best in themselves and others and in the process, cast off all the cultural muck of millennia of angst and ignorance.


  25. RobJ

    The trollumnist on last night’s Q&A

    [I’m not going to repeat some of the cruel personal slurs – notably over someone’s looks – that the panel of Q&A chortled over last night, with not a word of protest from any. It was a disgrace and a perfect example of two things: the savagery of the mob, and the truth of the proposition that the self-regarding moralist feels entitled by his superior goodness to be vicious. Everyone on that panel, host Tony Jones included, should be ashamed of themselves.]

    So the panel hangs it on one of his bosses (Reinhart) and all of a sudden he gets all PC???

  26. surlysimon

    SHV @11
    That guide misses one technique I was taught at uni. What you do is answer each point made to you by saying “No that’s not what you meant….” then you go on to twist the argument around to suit your point of view. We had one lecturer who used this and he was bloody hard to win an argument against.

  27. Angra

    A couple of scary stories around today to get us all paranoid.

    Flame – the most sophisticated computer virus yet? Doesn’t sound like your average bity of malware. Nation states are being flagged as the llikely origin (Israel/US likely developed Stuxnet between them).

    “Among Flame’s many modules is one that turns on the internal microphone of an infected machine to secretly record conversations that occur either over Skype or in the computer’s near vicinity; a module that turns Bluetooth-enabled computers into a Bluetooth beacon, which scans for other Bluetooth-enabled devices in the vicinity to siphon names and phone numbers from their contacts folder; and a module that grabs and stores frequent screenshots of activity on the machine, such as instant-messaging and email communications, and sends them via a covert SSL channel to the attackers’ command-and-control servers.

    The malware also has a sniffer component that can scan all of the traffic on an infected machine’s local network and collect usernames and password hashes that are transmitted across the network. The attackers appear to use this component to hijack administrative accounts and gain high-level privileges to other machines and parts of the network.”

    And then there’s this (sounds like Monty Python but its real and scary) –

    “A group calling itself the Olga Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation International Revolutionary Front has claimed responsibility for the non-fatal shooting of a nuclear-engineering executive on 7 May in Genoa. The same group sent a letter bomb to a Swiss pro-nuclear lobby group in 2011; attempted to bomb IBM’s nanotechnology laboratory in Switzerland in 2010; and has ties with a group responsible for at least four bomb attacks on nanotechnology facilities in Mexico”

  28. silkworm

    On Ch 7 this morning there was a short segment discussing last night’s Q&A in which one of the panelists described our Gina as “fat and ugly.” The panel went straight away into defence mode. What had Gina ever done wrong, they pleaded. Then came the praise. John Mangos said people should be celebrating success. He said Gina was the richest woman in Australia and this should be celebrated. Yes! Yes! they chimed in.

  29. Angra

    Why is Mr Reasonable so enraged about Q&A last night? I didn’t see it, but from his incandesence assume that someone said nasty things about Gina.

    Of course he never plays that game – but still can’t resist having another go at Bob Brown for pondering on alien civilisations and manages to link this with the Greens support for SKA (the telescope not the music).

  30. Durham Red

    Mr Abbott’s personal support is now at its lowest level since he became Opposition Leader in 2009, with dissatisfaction hitting a record high 60 per cent.

    And yet not even a hint of leadership speculation.

  31. monkeywrench

    [email protected] …A new one on me, but hilarious and apposite.

  32. monkeywrench

    [email protected] Bah, i’ll have to go out and buy some garish earrings and practice my ‘quivering disagreement’ face….: )
    I’m not really disagreeing with you on Cable: he has the potential, if he’s not too Westminsterly, of blowing a sizeable hole in Cameron’s ship. Possibly his likely rage at being stripped of the adjudication of the BSkyB bid will play out. I’m certainly hoping so.

  33. SHV

    Sorry to harp on about it, but…

    Just saw this in the NYT (warning: have a bucket handy):

    [Even the head of the inquiry, Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson, rose from his chair, seemingly ready to defend himself or Mr. Blair, who sat impassively through the disruption, a tanned and immaculately tailored figure, his chin resting in his left hand.]


  34. SHV

    Watching Leveson, I was interested to see how OUR (non-Murdoch) media would report the “protester” who burst in (via the back entrance!) during Blair’s evidence.

    In Qld, where the only paper is Murdoch and the Fairfax presence is online: Zilch.

    Down South, where you lucky people have 2 media outlets: A story about Blair’s evidence, a picture of a bloke being led away under arrest with no context other than “protester”.

    Blair was at great pains, throughout his testimony, to focus attention on “the social media” and direct it away from Murdoch. Amazingly.

    The UK Independent has a fair chunk of what happened:

    […a protester burst into the Leveson Inquiry as Tony Blair was giving evidence and yelled “this man should be arrested for war crimes.”

    He said: “JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq war. Three months after he invaded Iraq they held up the Iraq bank for 20 billion.

    “He was then paid six million dollars every year and still is from JP Morgan six months after he left office.

    “This man is a war criminal.”

    After the removal of the protester, Mr Blair denied his allegations.

    He told the hearing: “What he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely untrue.

    “I’ve never had a discussion with them about that.”]

    Semantically correct, in all likelihood, but Blair IS still drawing a cheque from JP Morgan. And a lot of people who aren’t made of socks are still questioning how it is we got into our current wars, why, and to what benefit.

  35. Angra

    Oh bugger – I’m sucked into The Voice. Just heard the Seal team performing “Kiss from a Rose”.

    Bloody hell. Brilliant.

  36. SHV

    UK site “The Poke” has stumbled upon the troll’s handbook:

  37. SHV


    I’m not sure how we’ll settle this after the week’s evidence as it’s going to be subjective anyway.

    I’m sticking with the call re: Cable. He doesn’t need to get the longest time to be the most “important”!

    As I said before, sure Hunt’s going to have to do some impressive squirming around pretty damning evidence about (eg:) meeting with Murdoch all those times in NY that he forgot about etc.., but Cable is going to (presumably) give the inside dirt on the subversion of a quasi-judicial process to favour a criminal organisation, to deliberately skirt the proper regulatory and anti-monopoly processes and the detailed machinations of the entire rotten affair. I’m guessing it’s going to go fairly high up and fairly deep.

    We’ll have to do a Margaret and David after we’ve seen the entire show! (You can be Margaret, I bags David!)

  38. Angra

    Mr Fair and Balanced.

    “Gillard in Question Time hell. Julia Gillard is being put through the wringer in Question Time over her deceit on the deal to allow Gina Rinehart to import 1700 foreign workers for her Roy Hill project…Watching her performance, only two conclusions are possible. Gillard is either weak or dishonest.

    Actually, there’s a third: she’s both. ”

    Only belatedly does he realise that the bulk of his allegations were straight out wrong and denied by Gillard herself. So he adds…

    “Correction: in the hurly burly, I missed Gillard at her last attempt grudgingly saying she supported the deal, in that it was about jobs. Her support was ambiguous, but I apologise for not having heard it. ”

    But the original story still stands. I suppose he’s working by the old saw that if you throw enough mud at someone, some of it will stick.

    That’s News Limited for you.

    I watched QT today and cannot see how he possibly believes “she’s in hell” or “was put through the wringer.” Was he watching the same thing?

  39. Matthew of Canberra

    This one’s nice

    Dead woman walking

    Trader of Sydney (Reply)
    Mon 28 May 12 (03:44pm)

  40. Ray Hunt

    Is Rupert Murdoch a “fit and proper” person to chair News Ltd?

    Given the British parliamentary phone-hacking inquiry recently found that Mr Murdoch was not a fit and proper person to run a business, you might presume that ASIC and The Australian Stock Exchange would be statute-bound to have a reasonably close look at the, er, rapidly-evolving credentials of News Ltd’s Directors.

  41. monkeywrench

    SHV, continuing on with our Leveson intrigues: not sure LJ Leveson agrees Cable is more important than Hunt: Cable only gets half of Wednesday’s session; Hunt has the whole Thursday all to himself, the lucky little Tory.

  42. John Reidy

    I just loved this morning on RN, Fran spoke to Michelle Grattan about – guess what the politics of the employee workers decision and then said wtte, to discuss the policy of the decision we interview Chirs Evans – the minister for tertiary eduction and research.
    In the interview was 1 maybe 2 questions about the policy, the rest were all about the politics of the decision and who new what/when.

    Though to be honest, I think this story really is the Govt’s fault, what did the PM’s office think when they said that they had only heard of the decision last week?

  43. philipb20

    Yes. And I expect we will be sitting in our warm offices on the 20th floor watching pigs do barrell-rolls outside.

  44. gtpfb13

    And then I woke up…….

  45. zoot

    What? Has Rupert been rolled?

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