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INVESTIGATE August 2008:
Labour’s Dumbest Bright Idea
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: CFL Lightbulb Safety • Urewera Terror Raids
new light bulbs dangerous, toxic, could cost you thousands Our biggest special investigation in seven years
$7.99 August 2008
The Urewera Terrorists
Behind the plotting, we unravel the links and agendas of the groups nabbed in the terror raids
INVESTIGATEdigital This is the Adobe Flash edition of Investigate magazine. To zoom in, simply click the mouse on the page, then use the mouse to move the page. Whilst back issues will appear publicly online after they’ve gone off sale at the newsstands, you can purchase a premium digital subscription and get a link to the latest editions as they’re published. If you prefer, you can also purchase a fully functional PDF of the magazine to save to your disk – putting the text of the entire issue at your fingertips. For all these options and more, visit our webstore: http://www.tgifedition.com For access to our news feeds, story archives and blogs, visit our main site: http://www.investigatemagazine.com In the meantime, enjoy, and feel free to share this edition with friends and colleagues.
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28 SPECIAL INVESTIGATION
Not since 9/11 has Investigate devoted 21 pages to a single story, but the banning of ordinary light bulbs announced last month raises some crucial safety issues that the NZ Government hasn’t been honest about. IAN WISHART looks at the angles:
30 Mercury in broken CFLs
The Government claims the average 5mg of mercury in a new energy saver light bulb is not a threat to your family’s health. After you’ve read this, you may have a very different perspective
38 The Brandy Bridges story
Brandy Bridges is an American mother who accidentally broke a CFL bulb in her daughter’s bedroom. What happened next is rocking safety authorities to the core. We have the first New Zealand interview with the woman who changed the world
39 Are CFLs a fire risk?
New Zealand’s Energy Safety authority is already getting reports of CFLs burning out in a pall of acrid plastic smoke. One American man has suffered a little bit more: his home burnt down
44 What to do if it breaks
The advice from New Zealand safety officials is dangerously out of date. Here’s what California’s regulatory agencies advise you to do if you break a bulb in your home
50 The Urewera Terror story
While the terrorism raids last year might be ‘old news’ after police were forced to abandon their prosecution, blogger and long term dissident-watcher TREVOR LOUDON analyses the people and common causes at the centre of the scandal
Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point
Volume 8, issue 91, ISSN 1175-1290
The roar of the crowd
16 Simply Devine
Miranda Devine on saying no
18 Straight Talk
Mark Steyn on leg tingles
20 Eyes Right
Richard Prosser on mineral wealth
22 Line 1
Chris Carter’s political criminals
Bob McCoskrie on protecting kids
26 Tough Questions Malcolm Ford on Dawkins
Lifestyle 64 Money
Peter Hensley on financial advice
Amy Brooke on erasing history
Knowing where to look
70 Technology Smartphone viruses
Chris Forster on Olympic hopes
Claire Morrow on blood
Hawthorn extract for hearts
Charles Darwin’s Galapagos
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> focal point
Heads need to roll over this
n October next year, New Zealand and Australia will jointly become the first countries in the world to ban ordinary incandescent light bulbs. It appears to have been a bright idea dreamt up by bureaucrats in one of those non-descript trans-Tasman think tanks four or five years ago, and quickly seized upon by politicians on both sides of the ditch looking to make a name for themselves. In New Zealand’s case, the clowns in question are Labour’s David Parker and Green leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, but there’s good reason to suspect Parker may only be a glove-puppet – the Tsarina to Heather Simpson’s Rasputin. That conspiracy theory would be easy to dismiss, were it not for the incompetence bordering on criminal negligence surrounding the introduction of Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs containing mercury. CFLs for domestic use first became widely available under this current Labour administration which, since 2005, has been trying to build a caring green image. So desperate was Labour that it hijacked the neutrality of the Ministry for the Environment and allowed Helen Clark’s 2IC, Heather Simpson, to secretly draft MfE briefing papers. Thus, independent advice from the civil service was ditched so Labour could achieve its political goals directly through the Ministry. All this happened under David Parker’s watch, and is chronicled in the book Absolute Power. Parker is not a complete idiot, which is why it is hard to believe that – left to his own devices and genuinely independent advice – he would not have eventually tumbled to the dangerous situation we’re revealing in this month’s issue. Because what we’ve uncovered is a public safety travesty that in any functioning democracy would result in ministerial heads on a plate. Here’s why: CFL light bulbs have been well-canvassed in the media for years. We’ve all heard how they last ten times longer than a normal bulb, how they save power, and how they contain a tiny amount of mercury. It’s that last point that Parker, Fitzsimons, Labour Minister Trevor Mallard, Health Minister David Cunliffe and Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard (and their predecessors in those portfolios) apparently had a collective brain dysfunction over – despite knowing that the bulbs contained mercury, no independent studies were commissioned to find out what happens if a bulb breaks in your home. Instead, the Labour/Green coalition were so focused on the political goal of looking decisive on climate change, that no one asked the glaringly obvious question: are these CFL bulbs safe for domestic use? It’s a pity they didn’t, because they now face the embarrassment that will be heaped on them over this magazine’s latest investigation. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Unlike New Zealand, when a lightbulb broke in the US state of Maine last year, government scientists there realized no one had ever done a study on the safety of these bulbs. So they did one themselves. They purchased 45 light bulbs for, I dunno, probably $250 tops. They sealed off a testing room for six months. And they spent those six months smashing their light bulbs, one by one, measuring the mercury given off. The result of their study is a 160 page report, released at the end of February this year. That report is turning the tables on previous glib assumptions about the safety of CFL bulbs. Now, you would think given the simplicity of the study, and the fact that NZ and Australia wanted to be the first in the world to ban ordinary light bulbs, that the Government could have directed ESR or one of the universities to do a similar study here. No. It didn’t happen. So much for the knowledge-wave economy. Instead, for five years, the Government and its civil service advisors have simply taken at face value claims by CFL manufacturers that the mercury content is “negligible” and “does not pose a hazard”. The US study shows those assurances weren’t correct. The safety advice posted on NZ Government websites as we go to press is not only incorrect, it is dangerously so. There is enough mercury in one small CFL to deliver a dose of poison up to 300 times higher than the maximum allowable limit, and seven times higher than a limit where studies have shown damage to brain and cognitive function. Worse still, the Ministers failed to ensure the hazardous nature of the bulbs was recognized in the workplace, meaning shops, supermarkets, freight vehicles may all have been contaminated by mercury leaching from broken CFL bulbs. No instructions have been issued to transporters or retailers about the shipping, handling and storage of CFLs, or what to do if a box load breaks. For five years, members of the public and members of trade unions have been exposed to one of the world’s deadliest neurotoxins in the workplace and in shops and homes, because Labour cabinet ministers looking for political brownie points relied on assurances instead of calling for independent tests. Heads should roll.
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> vox populi
Communiques The roar of the crowd ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS I have just finished reading your book which made me very cross but apart from that I enjoyed it! I just wanted to tell you that I actually found it very helpful. I was a newly elected Hawkes Bay DHB member last year – elected in October, sworn-in in December, sacked February (no board meeting in January) and although I am of course privy to all the communications about the whole farce, I just couldn’t work out why. It all seemed way beyond believability that the Ministry of Health and the various Ministers would have behaved and just blatantly lied and gone out to ruin people’s reputations as they did just to cover the backsides of the former Minister of Health and her husband, and our CEO (whose last job before that was in Helen’s office). But of course, having read about all the different situations you talk about in the book it is now obvious that I got inadvertently tangled up in something like one of those but on a local scale. Throughout the book I kept repeatedly saying – yep that’s what they did to us. So thanks again, and keep up the good work. Name supplied, Hawkes Bay
AN ABSOLUTE MONARCHIST Further to our debate about the legitimacy of the New Zealand government, I would put it thus: the Lange Administration, by declaring final legislative independence from Westminster, did not cut New Zealand adrift from the Crown; it merely cut out the middleman, i.e. the power of the Crown was now delegated directly to the NZ Parliament rather than channelled through Westminster – as a result of which the British Crown in Right of New Zealand automatically became the New Zealand Crown. I am writing to you again now because I have now found an absolutely perfect analogy for this interpretation of NZ’s independence, in the often coinciding field of divinity & doctrinal studies. I am referring to the Methodist Movement’s 1795 split from the Anglican Church. Although I am not conventionally religious these days, I was given a thorough Christian upbringing, mostly in the Church of England but briefly in the Methodist Church as my parents ‘defected’ but soon allowed me to worship independently of them (they have since returned to the Church of England albeit with much more liberal views than they had when bringing me up), so I have a good grounding in this subject. I am also perfectly happy to proceed for the sake of argument (as I hope you will be regardless of your religious beliefs) on 4 assumptions: INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
The existence of God in the Christian tradition 1. The existence of the Apostolic Succession 2. The theological soundness of Christianity having different denominations rather than being a single, uniform Church 3. The validity of the Act of Supremacy – not only constitutional but theological; on the grounds that the Vatican’s powers had far exceeded those conferred on it by Christ through the first Pope, St Peter, and that only with establishment in a nation’s law could a new Church make good its spiritual right to challenge the Papal Dictatorship (apologies if you happen to be a Roman Catholic, but again we are putting personal religious leanings aside here – though we can agree that from a purely moral standpoint it was a tad unfortunate that the King who established this new order was, even by the standards of his day, a promiscuous tyrant – albeit also a great innovator and reformer outside the religious domain as well as inside). So, here it goes. The Methodist Movement was once a doctrinal branch of the Anglican Church. In the same way, New Zealand was once a colonial branch of Britain. • The first Methodist clergymen were thereby Anglican Priests ordained by Anglican Bishops in accordance with the Apostolic Succession manifest in the Anglican Church. In the same way, following ratification of the Statute of Westminster, New Zealand's Government (though operating autonomously in practice) continued to derive its authority from the Crown, in the Royal Line of Succession, manifest in the British Parliament. • In 1795, the Methodist Movement formally split from the Anglican Chuch to become the completely autonomous Methodist Church. In the same way, 191 years later, New Zealand declared Westminster's residual powers null & void and thus became an independent sovereign state. • Nonetheless, the Methodist Church continued to wield full spiritual power over its followers in God's name - maintaining the Apostolic Succession in its own right, in a chain of ministers beginning with those hierarchically ordained by the Anglican Bishops but thereafter simply passing from minister to minister acting directly on God's behalf. In the same way, the government of the newly independent New Zealand continued to wield full temporal power over the people of New Zealand (while remaining democratically elected by the people) in the Queen's name, deriving its authority to do so directly from the Crown instead of relying on the British Parliament to validate or ratify that authority. • However, by your train of thought, surely the Methodist Church in 1795 – in cutting itself off from the Anglican Church
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– cut itself adrift of God and broke from the Apostolic Succession, just as you believe New Zealand in 1986 – in cutting herself off from the British Parliament - cut herself adrift of the Crown. • If the above is true, then the Methodist Church has no more right to wield any form of spiritual power – as you believe no New Zealand government has had any right to wield temporal power since 1986 – without seeking an alternative power source. The only decipherable equivalent of a democratic mandate in a Holy Order would have to be the old biblical method of choosing leaders – praying to God for divine guidance then casting lots. Upon consideration of all my points, do you believe that – however esoteric that archaic practice has become – the Methodist Church to this day is sacrilegiously preaching the Gospel of Christ & unworthily celebrating the Holy Eucharist, and will be until it invokes said practice and re-establishes an Anglican-style spiritual hierarchy (as opposed to its current administrative hierarchy throughout which spiritual power is equal)? • If not, how do you continue to justify your belief that the New Zealand Government is to this day claiming in vain to be passing, administering and interpreting laws on behalf of the Crown when it is actually wielding dictatorial power? One thing I didn't mention in my initial email was that I do agree the lack of an Upper House in NZ is regrettable, but there we have a direct analogy to the Methodist Church's lack of a proper spiritual hierarchy: in one case you simply have God then the clergy (with no bishops); in the other case (in legislative terms) you simply have the Queen (or the Governor-General) then the House of Representatives (with no Legislative Council). Now let me assure you, Ian, although I do personally believe there is a God, I do not by any means whatsoever seek to justify my monarchism on religious grounds, and am mindful of the fact that my comparisons between the power of God and that of the Crown would be interpreted by atheists & republicans as advocacy of the Divine Right of Kings. However, what is arguably the most compelling aspect of my analogy is a highly pragmatic one which surely most reasonably-minded people would accept regardless of their religious or political persuasions (short of extremism at least): the Church rightly seeks to interpret the will of God because God occupies a lofty position outside full human understanding, and has not shown himself in human form for nearly 2000 years; while the Government exercises the formal powers of the Crown precisely in order to enable the monarch to bear a lofty mystique, through which they wield a far greater power over the people’s hearts and minds than any absolute monarch could ever hope to – the true spiritual leader of a nation regardless of its religious make-up. You may seek to counter that final argument by pointing out that whereas the will of God is made clear in the Bible, the powers of the New Zealand Crown manifest in Government are not clearly defined in an entrenched constitution. However, the reason this has never been widely seen as a problem in Britain is that we have Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, and I cannot possibly think of anything more to say in the hope of persuading you that these constitutional treasures are still lawful components of New Zealand’s constitution. If you accept this but still feel I have failed to confront the problem created by the true nature of independence – i.e. granted to the people as opposed to the government – then I would urge you to run my arguments past your contacts in the field of constitutional law: for it could well be that, for better or for worse, New Zealand, Australia and possibly even Can10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
ada are wrongly regarded as independent sovereign states, that the way they severed links with Westminster put them in a completely unique position whereby the people were never absolved of their loyalty to the British Crown and thus never became fully independent, but whereby the nations’ governments – without any legislative, executive or (finally) judicial links to Britain – and with complete control over foreign policy, have greater autonomy than British Crown Dependencies and thus merit the creation of a completely new constitutional status. Matt Showering, London Editor responds:
It’s a good analogy, except…Why was the independence of New Zealand (and for that matter Australia and Canada), handled entirely differently from every other grant of independence made by the British government in the Commonwealth? After all, virtually all of the former colonies and territories remained as members of the Commonwealth despite many becoming republics, whilst acknowledging the Queen in her Commonwealth role as such. There was no reason the three Dominions could not have enjoyed the same outcome. If your analysis is taken to its logical extreme, it needs to account for the mysterious difference in approach, and whether in fact your final argument (which I myself have raised as a possibility eight years ago) is correct: the big three never truly gained independence and we all remain far-flung citizens of Mother England.
AN ABSOLUTE REPUBLICAN Matt Showering (Vox populi, July 2008) demonstrates a good understanding of New Zealand’s constitutional development, yet makes a number of assertions in favour of the monarchy that belie constitutional reality. Mr Showering is correct insofar as his analysis of your argument in Absolute Power (that the government is illegal) goes; however his defence of the monarchy against your second claim, that the Governor-General is not an effective check on the Prime Minister, is weak. Mr Showering’s response to the Governor-General’s ineffectiveness is due to “public apathy”. Yet there were plenty of protests against the Electoral Finance Act, one example cited as an abuse of power. Despite petitions to the Governor-General and a High Court challenge to the Bill, the Governor-General had no scope to exercise a refusal of Royal assent to the Bill. His hands were tied by 400 years of constitutional convention, and the fact that the Prime Minister can advise the Queen to remove Her Majesty’s representative from office immediately. This was the reason why Sir John Kerr fired Gough Whitlam in 1975 – he had to act before Whitlam could have him removed. In contrast, most republics grant their presidents the ability to refuse to sign Bills into law, send them to the judiciary or to a national referendum. Mr Showering argues that a president in a parliamentary-style republic lacks the “historical grounding” of a monarch and “cannot serve the people in a non-partisan fashion as a monarch”. This is incorrect – a historical grounding was not required when the President of Iceland refused to sign a controversial media law and instead sent it to a referendum, nor was it required when the President of Germany referred a Bill back to parliament, nor has it been required when the President of Ireland has referred Bills to the Irish Supreme Court. As for the argument that the Queen is non-partisan, this is not disputed. The Queen never intervenes in Commonwealth realms, even in times of constitutional crises – coups in Sierra Leone,
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Grenada, Fiji and the Solomon Islands prove this. What can be disputed is whether the Governor-General is non-partisan; furthermore, whether the non-partisanship is actually a good thing. The Governor-General is appointed on the whim of the Prime Minister of the day – they almost inevitably have something to do with the ruling party (Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Paul Reeves and Dame Cath Tizard are the most obvious examples, others have more subtle links). If supporters of the monarchy claim that the Governor-General is non-partisan, they cannot logically also say the Governor-General is a check on the Prime Minister. Any intervention in partisan issues will make the Governor-General a partisan figure, as happened in Australia. Mr Showering’s final assertion, that removing the Crown will require New Zealand to create a written constitution, is nonsense. A written constitution is not legally required for a republic – the State of Israel, also a parliamentary republic, does not have one. Yet Mr Showering implies a republic leading to a written constitution is a bad thing. A republic would create a head of state that could act in times of constitutional crises. A head of state that is better able to act in times of crises works as a much better restraint on the power of the executive – the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Republican Movement believes that the move to a republic in New Zealand should be accompanied by a serious look at the sort of checks and balances other parliamentary republics have. That would be a vast improvement on the status quo, and an excellent reason for a republic. Lewis Holden, Chair, The Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand
Thomas Jefferson once said that the business of governments extended only to regulating the actions of citizens, but never their opinions or thoughts. There are many who would argue regulation to change the beliefs and opinions of the electorate has become far too common.
The position is a little more complex than either you or Matt have suggested, with respect, and I realize it may partly be due to the difficulty of covering all the nuances in the short amount of space available. Of course there is no “legal” requirement for a republic to have a written constitution. But your assertion that a head of state can act as a much better “restraint on the power of the executive” doesn’t automatically follow, either. Especially if the head of state is affiliated to one or another party and appointed by Parliament [read: The Government]. A President, in a gene-pool as shallow as New Zealand, is prone to the same influences as a Governor-General. Checks and balances, you correctly identify, must be introduced to protect the public. The ability to “recall” the Executive on the strength of some kind of public referendum is one possibility. A few years ago I pushed strongly for constitutional reform via a written constitution that vested sovereignty in the New Zealand people, but which delegated certain powers to the Executive for the maintenance of order and good government. Such a constitution would nonetheless contain express provisions preventing parliamentary hijacking. The identity of a figurehead sovereign, whether Royalty or President, would then seem to be merely a cosmetic issue, because the real power would be where it belonged, enshrined in the hands of the people. The real problem with NZ politics has been powerful administrations capable of swinging the country through various extremes on a flimsy mandate. If we put the right checks and balances in, the public will have the ability to democratically boot out a Prime Minister or even a government within an electoral cycle, or veto legislation (a 65% majority in referendum might be a good starting point).
The term ‘carbon trading’ or – to use its newly morphed form – ‘emissions trading’ is described as a ‘scheme’. A cursory glance in any dictionary regarding the meaning of this word will reveal that ‘scheme’ has several meanings: one of which is, ‘a deceitful plot’. If we’re talking about a huge, world-wide, carbon-based taxation system along with global economic hardship and collapse, plus the non-development of developing nations – all on the basis of a non-existent scientific myth – then ‘scheme’ couldn’t be a truer definition. Ross Ewing, Christchurch
ABSOLUTE ENCOURAGEMENT I wish to congratulate you on producing and publishing ‘Absolute Power’. You have explained much of what I see as so wrong in our beautiful country and how it has come about. The research, clarity of collation, and documentation is to be commended and I will be subscribing to Investigate just as soon as I can. You have probably already started on the latest corruption rumour – unionized members of a government department getting a $750 bonus while those who choose not to belong apparently miss out. This sort of thing, if true, absolutely outrages me and I am sure many other Kiwis. Now retired and nearing 70, I well remember Muldoon’s fall from grace and simply could not understand how he had managed to mismanage the National Party for so long without serious intervention from members with a modicum of testicular fortitude. This government appears to suffer from similar abuse of power and must go. The whole situation makes a very good case for limitation of time in the top job – as in the U.S – and an even better case for roving sleuths like yourself to have a much higher profile without turning our media into “ The Sun “ and other sensationalist type rags. I wish you every success, keep your nose clean and your facts up to date and it will happen. Ian Hedley, via email
CLIMATE CHANGE Is global warming a man-made phenomenon? Well, one way to look at the issue is not to look at the problem, but the proposed solutions. If I was the supreme ruler of the universe and I wanted to reduce carbon emissions, then this what I would do: I would directly tax oil to progressively drive-up and finally precisely control its price, and I would do it over 10-15 years to give clear, predictable warning so that industry and the public can independently make concrete investment plans to prepare for the actively restricted oil-supply. In turn, we would immediately see greater investment in both energy-efficiency and energy-efficiency systems, and indeed there are many, many substantial alternatives that we can both develop and buy off-the-shelf today. Which systems would be best? All depends on your very particular personal situation, of course. This is why oil-reduction, if we’re serious about it, should be market-driven on a fundamental level. It is stupid, totally unnecessary and highly inefficient to directly specify how INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 13
any given individual or industry should reduce its oil-consumption. Indeed, specifying methods only makes it strategically and economically harder to cut back on consumption i.e. much less eco-bang for your buck. So, by comparison, what has our beloved American Bush-administration done? Mandated the use of biofuels. The effect? Virtually no or even negative oil-consumption reduction, and very expensive food. Costly grains may only be an irritant for rich countries, but as we can see they’re a starving nightmare for the truly poor. Now, is it really possible that the Bush-administration could not predict all this? Can they really be that breathtakingly outrageously profoundly stupid? I doubt it. Few governments are as dumb as they look, I believe (well, unless they’re a puppet show made up of easy-to-manipulate appointees, I suppose). This to me looks like an ugly form of population control. It looks like global warming being used an excuse to actualise ends that have nothing to do with climate concerns in themselves. A cheesy conspiracy theory that I should be embarrassed to write about? Maybe. But when you look at how this “solutions” game is being played out, it becomes hard to see what else it could possibly be. Again, going by the patently ineffective and irrational biofuels solution alone, I’m forced to wonder if this global warming problem really exists at all – climate science, be what it may, notwithstanding. Andrew Atkin,Wellington
THE SUTCH AFFAIR Graeme Hunt’s article `Hear No Evil’ (July), insisting Dr Bill Sutch really was a sinister spy for the Russians, for just about all his professional life, is a lot of old skwit. ‘He would, wouldn’t he?’ Way back in 1963, during a trial at the latter end of the Profumo Affair, such was Mandy Rice-Davies’ response to being told Lord Astor had denied having had sex with her. With Hunt’s having got over-melodramatic and Manichean about such matters in his recent book Spies and Revolutionaries, he has to go on insisting, `I wuzz right, really I wuzz.’ Nah. The Security Intelligence Service characters involved, like Kit Bennetts, ditto. The police detective involved in the arrest of Bill Sutch on 24 September 1974, ditto. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Unlike Graeme Hunt, I knew Bill Sutch, and his first wife Morva, and his second wife Shirley Smith. Bill was a family friend, and as a student I spent quite a few hours working for him (and sometimes alongside him) on landscaping the section for his Brooklyn house. I liked, trusted and greatly respected him, and still do. He believed strongly in the development of New Zealandowned industries, providing employment for New Zealanders, and reducing the burdens of importing costs and of profit - repatriation upon our balance of payments. As such, he was, in my view, a far better patriot than the likes of Douglas Myers, who sold out his brewery business to an overseas corporation, to make a buck for himself. Bill’s economic nationalism was anathema to the importers’ lobby. Hunt’s claim that Bill Sutch’s travelling around part of the USSR in 1932 `would not have been possible without the approval and protection of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the dictator himself, Joseph Stalin,’ is just plain wrong. In the early 1930s, it was not too hard to get a visa to visit that country; and hundreds of Westerners did so, including some other enterprising 14 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
New Zealanders. Of course by 1737, when Stalin’s Great Purge was getting under way, the situation would become very much more paranoid and dangerous, but earlier it was OK. So the fact of his being able to travel around European Russia for a few weeks by train in 1932 proves absolutely zilch. And everyone who knew Bill as a friend in the 1930s-1960s would have regarded as simply laughable the notion that for all that time he was some kind of spy for the Russians. He was discreet but not devious, and a very genuine human being. From a post-Cold War perspective, it is all too easy to forget that in the Great Depression of the 1930s, with global capitalism having gone belly-up, many thinking people turned to socialism as an alternative. Then, during the Second World War, at least two-thirds of the fighting against Nazi Germany on the ground was done by the Russians. Deservedly, they attracted a great deal of interest, sympathy and support. Meanwhile, why was Hitler’s army riding around occupied Europe on Ford 5-ton trucks, all-too-often fuelled with American oil, carried across the Atlantic in American tankers? Check that out. In 1948-1950, while he was leading the NZ delegation in the United Nations, Bill was rather undiplomatic, in thwarting an attempt by the US to abolish the humanitarian agency UNICEF. The Americans, expecting to always get their own way, were enraged, and forced the NZ government to call him back home. Forever after, they proclaimed him a suspected person. Sure, Bill did not take too seriously the Cold War binary mindset, and mixed openly with Russian Embassy people in Wellington, and with members of various Socialist organisations. He shared left-wing ideas with others. So what, it’s a free country, isn’t it? And if he really had been a spy, he would surely have been far less open about these activities than he was. Curiously, the NZ Security Intelligence Service, with nothing much else to do, kept files on him, as a suspected person, for decades, and never came up with anything serious against him at all. Surely, if there had been anything, they would have found it. Then, in 1974, he had four meetings with the KGB agent Dimitri Razgovorov. He was lonely, bored, and prepared to talk with anyone. At this stage, he had no influence with the Kirk cabinet, and no inside knowledge of its doings. He met up occasionally with a few backbench or middle-ranked Labour Members of Parliament, but that was all. Evidently, on one occasion, he scribbled down a few notes about what he already knew about a few people, for Razgovorov, which was a seriously silly thing to do, but not in itself all that serious. Technically, this made him an informant, but not a spy. Why did he? It is true that he told several people, including my mother, that he had believed at the time that Razgovorov was genuinely interested in defecting, and open to being encouraged to do so, even though he realised later he had been hoodwinked about that. Naturally, having known and admired Bill Sutch, I’m driven to defend his reputation. I would be, wouldn’t I? John C. Ross, Palmerston North DROP US A LINE Letters to the editor can be posted to: PO Box 302188, North Harbour, North Shore 0751, or emailed to: email@example.com
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 15
> simply devine
The ‘harm minimisation’ approach to drugs
n May 27, Tony and Angela Wood went to a Chinese ception was that drugs might be banned but there was a way of restaurant to mark what would have been their daughter taking them safely,” he says. “Especially when it comes from people Anna’s 28th birthday, had she lived. As they do each year, in authority, it reinforces the message you’re getting in the playthey ordered her favourite meal, Peking duck, and remem- ground, that drugs are acceptable under certain circumstances. bered the 15-year-old girl who died in 1995 after taking ecstasy for “You expect that in the playground but not in the classroom. the first time. It’s not what parents want and it undermines what they are tellBut while her parents have been touring schools and spreading ing their children.” the message that illegal drug use is never safe, Anna Wood was At 13, Hidden started smoking marijuana heavily, and later “dabbeing co-opted without their permission as a poster girl of the bled” in methamphetamines and ecstasy. He says he became paradrug harm-minimisation lobby, which has shaped debate about noid and suffered “mental health effects”. Expelled from school and drug use in Australia for 25 years – but is losing credibility as con- thrown out of home, he enrolled in Drug Beat, a South Australian trary evidence piles up. rehabilitation centre that required abstinence, not maintenance. The Woods say drug educators went to schools after Anna’s death He resat his school exams and started university this year. and told students it wasn’t ecstasy that killed her but an overdose But he remembers that when he tried to get help to stop his of water. And less than two weeks after her death, Alex Wodak, the drug use at 16, he came up against the laissez faire attitudes of drug director of St Vincent’s Hospital’s Alcohol and Drug Service and counsellors who would never tell him he needed to stop smoka cannabis legalisation advoing cannabis. Instead they cate, wrote a two-page letter would say: “Make sure you He came up against the laissez to the Wood family to urge clean your bong regularly,” them to become harm-miniand suggested he might faire attitudes of drug counsellors misation lobbyists. He wanted consider limiting his use to them to meet politicians Bob weekends. Carr, John Howard and Paul who would never tell him he needed Hidden says the harmKeating and argue against minimisation system has to stop smoking cannabis “tough law enforcement polnothing for those who want icies” so as to “at least make to be drug-free. something good come out of Anna’s death”. “It just wants to keep them trapped in addiction and misery.” The Woods, who wear buttons bearing Anna’s picture and the Tony Wood wasn’t surprised by the contents of Choosing To Use, message “Say No To Drugs”, were upset by his approach. either, “because most of the stuff put out by government and drug But signs that the harm-minimisation lobby’s influence may educators is a little soft on drugs”, he says. be waning came this month when the NSW Health Minister, “Parents we talk to are really frustrated. They’ve become hostile Reba Meagher, buckled to angry parents and banned a brochure, about what their children are being told. We’ve got to start putting Choosing To Use, produced by her Sydney West Area Health out pamphlets and positive messages to show kids how to say no Service, which advised year 9 and 10 students “how to keep your to drugs. Kids really want to know how to say ‘no’.” head together” if they “choose” to experiment with illegal drugs. Under siege this past month, the Sydney West Area Health Service Among “a few tips that might help” in the brochure is advice issued a statement justifying the publication of the drugs brochure to “use only small amounts and not too often”. on the grounds that “studies consistently demonstrate the majorTo be fair, the brochure also states: “The best way to keep your ity of young people will experiment with and use alcohol or other head together is not to use drugs at all.” But it immediately goes drugs at some time”. This was a sneaky non sequitur attempting to on: “BUT, if you choose to experiment …” equate alcohol and drugs, the first step to drug legalisation. Teenagers expect adults to tell them not to take drugs, says law Of course, most young people will use alcohol at some time, student, Ryan Hidden, 20, who is also secretary of the Recovered and we have a hard enough time coping with the harmful conseDrug Users League.Instead he had the same harm-minimisation quences. It’s legal, available and popular. Most will not use illemessage pumped into him at school. gal drugs. In fact, cannabis use by 12- to 15-year-olds fell from 15 “Whether it was through drug educators or the school, the per- per cent in 1996 to 6 per cent in 2005, the Australian Secondary 16 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Harm minimisers continue to push for legalisation of the drug even while its popularity wanes and medical evidence mounts of the risks of psychosis and depression
School Students’ Use of Alcohol and Drug Survey shows. Yet harm minimisers continue to push for legalisation of the drug even while its popularity wanes and medical evidence mounts of the risks of psychosis and depression. The University of Mississippi last month also found cannabis potency has more than doubled since 1983. While Choosing To Use is not quite the recruitment tool for drug dealers some claim, it is a small example of drug education shaped by harm-minimisation lobbyists, whose conservative attitudes have been frozen in time for 25 years. Its underlying message to children is that illegal drug use is tacitly condoned by authorities, and it is relatively safe if you follow expert drug tips. It tiptoes around the notion of “choice”, as if terrified of appear-
ing authoritarian. Yet children, even teenagers, are trusting. They expect that if they are contemplating doing something genuinely dangerous, those in authority will try to stop them. After all, the police don’t pull over speeding L-platers and say: “Well, if you choose to speed that’s your decision, and here are a few tips on doing it safely. Get to know your family speeding history. Speed only in small amounts and not too often. Off you go, son, go for your life.” No, when it comes to speeding or parking violations, it’s zero tolerance. Why no fear of authoritarianism on overstaying your meter, when the cost in human misery is so inconsequential in comparison? email@example.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 17
> straight talk
Mark Steyn A tingle up the leg
he short version of the Democratic Party primary cam- hospital and treated for nausea. Everyone else came away thrilled paign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but that the Obamessiah was going to heal the planet and reverse the rise of the oceans: When Barack wants to walk on the water, he the Democratic electorate declined to. “I felt this thrill going up my leg,” said MSNBC’s Chris doesn’t want to have to use a stepladder to get up on it. There are generally two reactions to this kind of policy proposal. The Matthews after one of the senator’s speeches. “I mean, I don’t have that too often.” Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang first was exemplified by the Atlantic Monthly’s Marc Ambinder: “What a different emotional register from John McCain’s; seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in Obama seems on the verge of tears; the enormous crowd in the the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for Xcel Center seems ready to lift Obama on its shoulders; the much smaller audience for McCain’s speech interrupted his remarks more than six months, see your doctor. Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed with stilted cheers.” The second reaction boils down to: “’Heal the planet’? Is this guy admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast, and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp nuts?” To be honest I prefer a republic whose citizenry can muster to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The no greater enthusiasm for their candidate than “stilted cheers” to more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined one in which the crowd wants to hoist the nominee onto their the voters were to get with the program. On the strength of Chris shoulders for promising to lower ocean levels within his first term. Matthews’ vibrating calves, Sen. Obama raised a ton of money – As for coming together “to remake this great nation,” if it’s so great, why do we have to remake over $300 million – and masit? A few months back, just sively outspent Sen. Clinton, Every time I hear an Obama after the New Hampshire but he didn’t really get any primary, a Canadian reader bang for his buck. In the end, speech, I start to giggle. But of mine – John Gross of he crawled over the finish line. Quebec – sent me an allThe Obama Express came amillions of voters don’t purpose stump speech for hurtlin’ down the track at two the 2008 campaign: miles an hour. “My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the But what does he care? Sen. Obama has learned an old trick of Bill Clinton’s: If you behave like a star, you’ll get treated as one. world. I hope you’ll join with me as we try to change it.” I thought this was so cute, I posted it on the Web at National So, even as his numbers weakened, his rhetoric soared. By the time he wrapped up his “victory” speech last month, the great gaseous Review. Whereupon one of those Internetty-type things happened, uplift had his final paragraphs floating in delirious hallucination and three links and a Google search later the line was being attributed not to my correspondent but to Sen. Obama, and a few weeks along the Milky Way: “I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge after that I started getting e-mails from reporters from Florida to of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in Oregon, asking if I could recall at which campaign stop the senathe capacity of the American people … I am absolutely certain tor, in fact, uttered these words. And I’d patiently write back and that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell explain that they’re John Gross’ words, and that not even Barack our children that this was the moment when we began to provide would be dumb enough to say such a thing in public. Yet last care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment week his demand in his victory speech that we “come together to when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began remake this great nation” came awful close. Speaking personally, I don’t want to remake America. I’m an to heal … . This was the moment – this was the time – when we immigrant, and one reason I came here is because most of the rest came together to remake this great nation.” It’s a good thing he’s facing it with “profound humility,” isn’t it? of the Western world remade itself along the lines Sen. Obama Because otherwise who knows what he’d be saying. But mark it has in mind. This is pretty much the end of the line for me. If he in your calendars: June 3, 2008 – the long-awaited day, after 232 remakes America, there’s nowhere for me to go – although presumyears, that America began to provide care for the sick. Just a small ably once he’s lowered sea levels around the planet there should test program: 47 attendees of the Obama speech were taken to be a few new atolls popping up here and there. 18 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Marc Ambinder is right. Obama’s rhetoric is in a different “emotional register” from John McCain’s. It’s in a different “emotional register” from every U.S. president – not just the Coolidges but the Kennedys, too. Nothing in Obama’s resume suggests he’s the man to remake America and heal the planet. Only weeks ago, another of his pals bit the dust, convicted by a Chicago jury of 16 counts of this and that. “This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew,” said the senator, in what’s becoming a standard formulation. Likewise, this wasn’t the Jeremiah Wright he knew. And these are guys he’s known for 20 years. Yet at the same time as he’s being stunned by the corruption and anti-Americanism of those closest to him, Obama’s convinced that just by jetting into Tehran and Pyongyang he can get to know
Sen. Obama raised a ton of money – over $300 million – and massively outspent Sen. Clinton, but he didn’t really get any bang for his buck. In the end, he crawled over the finish line.
America’s enemies and persuade them to hew to the straight and narrow. No doubt if it all goes belly-up, and Iran winds up nuking Tel Aviv, President Obama will put on his more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger face and announce solemnly that “this isn’t the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad I knew.” Every time I hear an Obama speech, I start to giggle. But millions of voters don’t. And, if Chris Matthews and the tingly-legged media get their way and drag Obama across the finish line this November, the laugh will be on those of us who think that serious times demand grown-up rhetoric. © Mark Steyn, 2008
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 19
> eyes right
Richard Prosser What lies beneath
lass Earth, a Canadian joint-venture mining and explo- cally extractable minerals reads like a veritable periodic table. ration company, has spent the past couple of years using And there is uranium. Not much, but it’s there; or apparently some of the latest and most cunning of technologies to quite a bit, depending on who you ask. Either way, we are unlikely “see” into the earth’s crust, a hundred meters and more, in to know in the near future. Prospecting for uranium is now banned, a survey covering several large areas of New Zealand. Their search under the regulation of the 1996 Minerals Programme for Minerals is primarily for gold, but the sensors used in their geophysical Other Than Petroleum and Coal. The reason given in the legislasurvey – magnetic, electromagnetic, gravitational anomaly, and tion, for this bizarre policy of self-denial, is that: ground resistance – allow them to detect and identify many more 2.13 The policy of not allowing prospecting, exploration or mining of minerals than the yellow metal alone. the primary uranium and thorium minerals is in accordance with the Otago, the Central Volcanic Plateau, and bits of the Coromandel Government’s environmental policy of New Zealand being a Nuclear and Hauraki regions have been amongst the company’s areas of Free Zone and the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament interest. They flew over my house a while back, in a helicopter and Arms Control Act 1987. Foreclosing the opportunity for permits dangling a probe which looked a lot like a cruise missile; housed to be obtained to prospect, explore or mine for the primary uranium within were the aforementioned cunning gizmos, which could and thorium minerals will prevent the Crown from obtaining a finansee clear through the Chez Moi, and into the alluvial gold depos- cial return from these minerals. The principle of New Zealand being its below (we know that they’re there, because some of it came a Nuclear Free Zone and the position the Government has taken to up with the silt when we had the bore blown out, when replac- promote international nuclear weapons disarmament are considered ing the pump a couple of years to outweigh this factor. back). Presumably their gravi(http://www.crown There is wealth down there; tational sensors also picked up minerals.govt.nz/cms/ the localised anomaly directly pdf-library/minerals/minoodles of it, and it’s ours for beneath my bathroom scales, prog-for-min.pdf ) the one which makes everyAll of which strikes me as the taking thing heavier. Expensive gizbeing a little odd, given that mos, too; they dropped one the nuclear free legislation not long afterwards, which was apparently a more-than-a-mil- only bans weapons, ships, and the dumping of radioactive waste, lion-dollar oops. and has nothing at all to say about nuclear power or uranium But I digress. This column isn’t meant to be a plug for a min- mining. What is the real reason, I wonder, which lies beneath ing company (though that’s not to say that unsolicited donations this ban, made all the more strange because it was enacted under wouldn’t be happily received). a National Government, rather than a Labour one? What’s important is that someone is doing this sort of research, And then there’s coal. Masses of it. About thirteen billion tonnes, and that what it’s telling us, is that there are plenty of riches by present estimates, and that doesn’t include anything that the beneath the surface of these fair isles. coming transparency of the Glass Earth may yet reveal, which we Glass Earth was first proposed to the CSIRO in Australia, with don’t already know about. the intention of mapping the entire kilometre-deep top layer of New Zealand’s coal reserve would last us around 2,000 years at the Australian continent, to identify the location and quality of present rates of consumption, were we to utilise it as our primary all existing and future ore deposits. I presume New Zealand has energy source; but we’re not allowed to do that either, thanks to the been chosen as the guinea pig for testing the new technology, and present Government and its ban on the building of any new thermal this writer, for one, is glad about that. power stations for the next ten years. Will National overturn this There is wealth down there; oodles of it, and it’s ours for the tak- ban, I wonder; or do they share Labour’s sub-surface agenda? ing. Gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and zinc; as well as tin, bauxite, Failing that, we could turn it into synthetic petrol and diesel; titanium, and a host of others, including precious stones and rare Southland’s lignite alone, converted via the good old Fischer-Tropsch earth elements; plus lithium, gallium, beryllium, molybdenum, recipe, could provide for New Zealand’s motor fuel needs for better zirconium, tungsten, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nickel, than four hundred years, by which time, I have every faith, our descenantimony, and chromium. The menu of New Zealand’s economi- dents should have the hydrogen answer well and truly sorted. 20 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Australia, as we know, has no similar qualms about exploiting her vast mineral resources. While we in New Zealand wail, and wring our hands, and espouse the virtues of windfarms, and relocate precious snails (so we can dig up our valuable coal, and sell it to India, where they’re allowed to burn it to make electricity, but we’re not…?), and fret about falling lake levels, the Aussies just get on with digging theirs up, and feeding it into the fuel hopper. No power crisis over there this winter, eh. We worry, of course – or at least the Government, the Greenies, and the other mentally challenged sectors of society, worry – that the burning of coal will somehow magically and tragically affect the climate, and so we must avoid it at all costs. That every argument and “scientific” theory in support of the Anthropogenic Carbon-Dioxide Global Warming fallacy, has long since been completely disproven and overturned, is now without doubt; what, I wonder, lies beneath the continued adherence to this doomed cult, by its most committed acolytes and their media sycophants? Are they trying desperately to save face, in the face of a deception which is now desperately unable to be saved? Your favourite commentator is a somewhat cynical cove by nature, and suspects that Government policy with regard to fossil fuels may be driven by a possible desire on the part of the incumbent Prime Minister, to snare herself a Big Important Job with the UN at the imminent end of her tenure; and that to that end, this country must be seen as being supporting of the unjustifiable claims and demonstrably incorrect theories of Kyoto and the IPCC. Fair enough; Helen Clark, I will admit, is bright enough to realise truth over fantasy when faced with the reality of actual experience over the theory of University idealism; but she’s a politician, and we don’t expect them to admit that truth, where the future of their careers may be compromised. Certainly we should expect that; but we don’t, which is as much a reflection on us as it is on them. This writer recalls being informed of HC’s response, when questioned, by a former member of 14 Sqn on an RNZAF Boeing flight, about the wisdom, in hindsight, of disbanding the ACF; the reply, shall we say, would not be out of keeping with the above. So that explains the Prime Minister’s position; but it doesn’t excuse the hilarious spectacle of overpaid auto-cue readers, masquerading as journalists on the nightly news, earnestly parroting about greenhouse emissions and carbon footprints, as if the fantastic theory in question were not only true, but that they themselves had the earthliest idea of the reality or science behind it. I have hint for you guys and girls; this stuff is like WWF Wrestling. People talk about it like it was real – but y’know, it’s all made up. You did know that, didn’t you? The Aussies don’t mind digging up other things either, and as a result their economy is booming. They load iron ore for China as fast as the ships can be turned around, and build railways, and new towns, and pay dump truck drivers $100,000 a year. We, on the other hand, fixate about obscure ferns, and miniscule beetles, and how to make cows give milk without making poo, and wonder why thousands of our finest flee these shores in search of something better than the prospect of $12 an hour flipping burgers for Korean tourists. There’s a connection here, people, I promise you there is. Could it be that there’s money to be made from mining and (gasp) industry? I mean real, manufacturing industry? Blasphemy to the Greenies, I know, but we’re none of us going to get rich by turning the entire country into a National Park. What lies beneath our deep green oceans? I’m not referring to
submarines, we’ve talked about that; no, this time I mean oil. Black Gold. The Great South Basin, in particular, though there are others, off Canterbury, Taranaki, the West Coast, and Otago. But the GSB is the El Dorado; maybe twenty billion recoverable barrels of light sweet crude, the finest and most expensive dinosaur juice ever fermented. What is really, I wonder, beneath the lies about why the Government has slashed the Royalty – our Royalty – payable on our oil, to 1%, when the Saudis are charging 50% and the Norwegians 76%? We could run forever on our undersea oil, and make an everlasting fortune along the way, if only we had the gumption to create a Stateowned Petroleum Corporation to dig the stuff up and sell it, like three-quarters of the world’s oil producing nations do. Oh well. Instead we appear lost in a hopeless infatuation with biofuels; what deep dark motivation, I find myself pondering, lurks below the dark deep Greens, and their continued pursuit of this unworkable folly? Turning food into fuel, and driving millions of people into starvation in the process, hardly strikes me as being the most constructive way of proving yourself wrong about climate theory. And yet there is hope. John Key has at least expressed enthusiasm about the lignite-to-fuel idea; which is almost certainly the best way of using the resource, since liquid fuels burn more efficiently than solid, and there isn’t the same resulting slag to deal with. Perhaps, and here’s a wild idea, we could bring ourselves to run a few power stations on that same synthetic diesel. Enough untruths have been perpetuated concerning the hoarded wealth upon which we dwell. It’s time to inter the falsehoods which have kept us poor, and dig up the buried treasure of these sceptred islands’ store. The lies of the past cannot build our better future; the way ahead lies beneath us.
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> line one
Of politicians and criminals
here comes a time I guess, where one seriously begins to national drug cartels driving the stuff over our borders by the wonder why it is that we keep on electing into positions of truckloads or running it in by sea or light aircraft across relatively power in this country, completely incompetent people with short distances from a good half dozen of our close neighbours. little or no idea how to tackle any problem of real worth. Our New Zealand Customs people in fact have a pretty good We have, God help us, yet another opportunity, sometime record for keeping cocaine, heroin etc down to a reasonable level, within the next three months, to vote into Government office yet leaving what we do really appear to excel at, the manufacture of another group of political opportunists who, even before anyone Amphetamines, or P, plus the growing of dope which I suspect of us cast a single vote, you can almost guarantee are going to be has now become our country’s number one cash crop. Wonderful prats of the first order. That we continue to vote for any old party products, home grown or manufactured hallucinatory drugs... hacks who have the determination to place their names on the they really are a way to make untold riches, especially when you ballot paper, surely has to be an incitement of our collective stu- have a home market falling over itself to steal anything that’s not pidity as much as any real criticism of the abject tossers for whom bolted down to satisfy the inevitable need to feed a very quickly it is that we end up voting. developed and insatiable habit. Indeed, far from blaming the mentally challenged folk that What of course is truly remarkable and a distinct pointer towards have been busily stuffing up our economy, perhaps it is time a society that quite plainly is fast going down the gurgler, is, apart that we took a long, hard, and completely honest look at our- from sporadic mutterings from Parliament, and just enough action selves. In the final analysis it is being taken by the Police almost entirely our fault that to make it look as if they Some experts suggesting perhaps are really doing something these appalling people are currently dreaming up yet more apart from writing out trafdrug profits are now entering the lunatic plans to inflict on the fic tickets, fact is that our so ‘sheeple’ over whom they curcalled war on drugs is little heady heights of the billions rently enjoy dominion. That other than an out and out a collection of such incredibly bloody disgrace! Personally inept losers could have ever been allowed to be entrusted to, in I don’t give a toss if people wish to live their lives in a state of selfeffect, run our multi billion dollar enterprise, perhaps goes partway induced stupidity; chances are that a fair number of them were towards explaining why it is that this once very prosperous, innova- none too bright to start out with. But we have now progressed tive and incredibly vibrant country, has, in very short order become well beyond the cadre of genetically impaired fruit loops that any little other than one of the OECD’s financial basket cases. society sadly has to contend with, to an ever increasing recruitThe haemorrhaging, for instance, of our brightest and best from ment from the mainstream, mainly youngsters, who, by variously our shores, even though partly camouflaged by the importation of persuasive means are induced to completely and irrevocably stuff just about anyone who stands erect, has been done with monu- up their lives. mental lack of planning or forethought. The inevitable result? The I would think by now that there are very few people today who establishment of innumerable race-based ghettos around Auckland don’t know first hand of people, relatives, work mates, whatever, in particular, bringing about a situation where, despite a continual who are now reduced to comparing their IQs with an underchorus of how lovely it is to live in such a wonderful multicultural achieving chimpanzee. But even this activity would not be withsociety, truth is, that for the poor sods living in these ghettos, who out some merit were it not for the fact that even the great apes in the main are not at all well off, they have simply become the appear to have at least some regard for their simian fellows, whilst unwilling victims of the totally unchecked urban terrorists, that on our part, we don’t appear to be capable of doing little else other we, for some reason or another have decided to describe as gangs than to hurriedly place even more prisons, drug clinics, and hand and then to largely ignore. wringers at the bottom of this very dangerous cliff. We all must have been immensely proud three or four weeks Has it ever occurred to our so called authorities I wonder, that back, to learn that we are now number two in the World for the perhaps for a number of years now, we have been chasing after consumption, per capita, of illicit drugs, just behind the U.S.A. and locking up the wrong people? That we have yet to underfor what it’s worth. Unlike the USA however, we don’t have inter- stand that there is little point in beating up on the little fish that 22 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
follow a hungry Great White around, that the trick perhaps is to set a damn good trap for the thing with all the very sharp teeth. Consider this...if there is but one state agency that has been given enormous, even draconian powers, that is well staffed and highly efficient in its operations, that if we seriously break any of its many rules and regulations then this department will very rapidly break us, then that organisation most certainly is, The Inland Revenue Department! In many respects, despite certain complicated legislation, their job is really quite a simple one. It is to determine, by whatever means, every person’s income, and then to apply the Cullen (“I’m a really greedy bastard”) Tax upon that income, preferably leaving most citizens just enough shells and rocks to avoid having to live under a bridge. Thing is, I will absolutely guarantee you that whilst every lawful sector of our society pays its tax dues, or else suffers the consequences, especially if you have no discernible or declared source of income, yet if you are the leader of a group owning an urban fortress and a fleet of late model Harley Davidsons, apparently, with a warped idea of ethnic sensibilities, the Government will leave you completely alone. GST, and all other forms of taxation, shall not, and are not to be levied upon you seems to be the arrangement! And here of course we are talking about sums of totally un-taxed monies in the hundreds of millions of dollars; some experts suggesting perhaps drug profits are now entering the heady heights of the billions! No wonder he, who when he holds a dollar coin you can hear the Queen choking, is so dedicated towards squeezing the last possible cent out of us. Along with the rest of his miserable Government, Cullen and Co. just love going for the soft target. What’s needed of course is complete, if necessary, police backed nationwide IRD audit of the gang bangers, which so far seems quite beyond the authorities’ limited intelligence to figure out. Incidentally, it’s not just the hundreds of millions of dollars coming from the drug trade that’s lining the lowlife coffers either. The gangs are also donkey deep into the ‘receiving of stolen property’ caper as well. Freshly hooked young addicts finally run right out of money, inevitably they turn to burglary as almost a matter of course. Guess who is really good at fencing this stuff, cutting up the cars for Midnight Car Spares Inc., or maybe forcing the young girls to hire out their bodies at the local Mall? Yep, you’ve got it in
one, the gangs, the same ones who our corrupt politicians fall over themselves to humour, whilst at the same time making darned sure that they remain, to all intents and purposes, untouchable. Nothing is more injurious to any society if it’s in the habit of concocting and then believing its own lies. We, for instance, could at least learn a thing or two from history in this regard surely. It was ethnic ghettos at the turn of last century that saw the start of the American Mafia in New York. Virtually no real checking of immigrants saw some really bad crims arrive from Sicily, who then very quickly began building their criminal empires by simply preying on the honest Italians that they lived amongst. Same thing’s happening here a hundred years later, with members of Hong Kong gangs and the like, right into extortion, kidnapping, running illegal knock shops and supplying bulk P pre-cursors to our home grown drug gangs. But not unlike the early days of the New York Mafia, the tongs here in NZ, are at this stage, still making a growing income out of simply victimising fellow migrants. Once well established however, like everywhere else in the world, they will inevitably expand into markets they feel that they can take over. During the next very few years we can probably look forward to some extremely nasty inter-gang warfare... the dollars involved are huge, and here we are talking about people who will stop at nothing to steal each others’ very profitable territories. Our own drug scene has now grown to the point, especially with our softly-softly police and judicial system, where unless we move on this problem shortly, it’ll be one hell of a mess to sort out later. But don’t forget this feller called Al Capone who literally ran Chicago, had so much money he literally corrupted every judge and politician who stood in his way by simply buying them. Who finally got him behind bars? Not the Police or the Politicians that’s for sure. The Treasury Department and the IRS simply asked him where all his organisation’s money had come from, and then when a satisfactory answer was not forthcoming they locked him up for a very long time. Simple and already proven to be most effective. Amazing what history can teach us...just a bit of a shame that such an elegantly simple solution to our burgeoning drug gang problems are beyond the limited mental capacity of those who we currently allow to make the rules. Perhaps we should try a different Party, and if that doesn’t work, then perhaps a revolution? Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 23
Bob McCoskrie Let kids be kids
y wife and I have just cleaned up after our son’s 7th behaviour’ and told children that the only time they could touch birthday party with eight of his friends. Lives were put each other was to help a classmate who had fallen over. The headmistress said pupils were now more creative, playing at risk when the boys attempted to send the ten pin bowling ball (which was heavier than some of the kids) games like ‘shadow tig’ so that rough shoves on the back were down the alley. Either the ball was dropped dangerously close to replaced by trying to jump on their shadow. Other schools have forced children to wear goggles during the child’s feet or the ball actually came back towards the party conker fights and banned lunchtime soccer to stop people being group, sitting in the ‘apparently’ safe area! Don’t tell OSH. Then it was back home to party food which would have sent hit by stray soccer kicks. A former UK government advisor and author of the book No the Obesity Action Coalition into a spin – coke, chips, bbq sausages, lollies, and worst of all, a full birthday cake! This was all Fear: Growing up in a Risk-Averse Society warns that this denies accompanied by incessant talking and laughing at the volume of opportunities for children to develop skills they can draw on in 150 decibels, singing “Diarrhoea” to the tune of Abba’s Mamma later life. A report in Scotland suggests that much of the bullying in Britain’s playgrounds is caused by children simply not being Mia, and jokes with a consistent theme of flatulence! Finally it’s on to the trampoline (yes – all nine of them!) and re-enact- stimulated enough, so they engage in nasty behaviour because they have nothing better to do. ment of pro-wrestling moves with neck holds and karate chops. In Australia, research found that safer playgrounds had not My wife wondered whether it was wise to do all this after just resulted in fewer playground eating and whether one of injuries and more children the boys would be maimed Playing freely helps kids learn to than ever were suffering for life as a result of a ‘body injuries from playground slam’. So she put me in charge follow and understand rules, and equipment. And a report of supervision and retreated to from Australia’s Kidsafe a cup of tea inside. My reacresolve disputes Playground Conference tion was “they’re fine. Boys will said that injuries inflicted be boys!” And that’s the message we seem to be getting repeatedly from by children on other children had increased by more than 300% in the past 20 years. principals, social workers, and educationalists. One expert suggested that children might be displaying more riskA school principal recently said that the banning of physical games like bullrush and murder-ball is bubble-wrapping boys in taking behaviour and aggression out of boredom, as play became less a ‘feminised’ school system. He’s not encouraging brawls or fights, adventurous and challenging because of safety concerns. In the US, an elementary school banned tag because some kids just physicality. An organisation representing men involved in early childhood complained they were chased against their will, and a Californian education says boys often needed more boisterous and aggressive school banned tag because there is a ‘victim’ or ‘it’ which creates play than girls but the lack of men in childcare means that envi- a self-esteem issue. Yet the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in the ronment is often lacking. They highlight that people tend to think of aggression as violence “but we need to differentiate between UK seemed to contradict its own calling when it said that chilthe two.” (the exact argument that the overwhelming majority of dren would learn valuable life-long lessons by scraping knees, parents argue when distinguishing between appropriate smack- grazing elbows, and bumping heads – not least how they would avoid hurting themselves in the future. They felt that these injuing and child abuse – but that’s another issue.) The recent case of a school banning birthday cakes because of ries would be better in the long term than developing repetitive obesity concerns shows just how far this ‘risk-averse’ approach is strain injury (RSI) from playing computer games. Perhaps stomach ache from eating too much birthday cake infiltrating into our schools – affecting both boys and girls. might even be a good learning tool as well. Yet the ‘cotton wool culture’ is rife in other countries as well. Put simply, the cotton wool culture is denying the child’s right In the UK, a school banned playground games such as kiss chase and tag because of the fear of spreading diseases such as meningitis to be a child. Playing freely helps kids learn to follow and underand another school labelled any physical contact as ‘inappropriate stand rules, and resolve disputes. 24 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
One expert suggested that children might be displaying more risk-taking behaviour and aggression out of boredom, as play became less adventurous and challenging because of safety concerns
It seems ironic that at the same time that we are wrapping our kids in cotton wool and banning tag in the playground, we are consumed with concern about our kids getting too fat. As is quoted in various forms, ‘It wasn’t that long ago that ��� we never wore seatbelts, didn’t have airbags, didn’t have childproof medicine bottles, childproof houses, bike helmets, cell phones so our parents could text us, we would drink water from the hose in the backyard, eat worms, we would eat cake, bread and butter, drink sugary drinks, and we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing.’
A recent study by London University published in the European Early Childhood Education Research Journal confirmed that gender differences are hard-wired into children’s brains from birth. The study warned against trying to censor children’s ‘natural’ inclinations. And a study published in the journal Hormone and Behaviour concluded from observing young male monkeys that boys have an innate predisposition for masculine toys. In other words, boys will be boys, and girls will be.. um.. girls. It’s the adults that may need to grow up. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 25
> tough questions
Richard Dawkins’ reputation hangs on a gossamer
’ve always been fascinated by spiders, with particular inter- of interconnecting ‘threads’ evenly meshed and it can be used est in their web-building engineering skills. When, after leaf- for catching fish, animals and insects. But the size of the mesh is ing through Richard Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable* I critical. If the gaps are too wide the prey will slip through. If it is noticed that the second chapter “Silken Fetters” was devoted too small it will be too easily seen and avoided. If it is too elasto the evolutionary influence on the spiders’ web-building skills tic the prey might just bounce off and if it is too brittle the prey I began to read it carefully. What really caught my attention was could break through. O dear! The design parameters (evolutionthe sudden appearance of a rhetorical question: “Why not build ary nightmares) are quite complicated, yet Dawkins persists, the a net?” p 39. question must be addressed: “Why not build a net?” Why would a famous scientist address such a question about a But the spider has never had to consider Dawkins’ question, neispider endowed with a portable chemical laboratory for produc- ther does it have any intellectual knowledge of the potential traping a solution which becomes a bundle that can be unreeled as ping characteristics of interlacing lines of a net that can be hung an almost invisible, elastic, high tensile silk line? A child might in space and which can block the path of flying prey. Yet it would ask – “Why not go bungy jumping?” Yes: the spider could just appear that the spider has, incorporated in its innate life sustainjump off some place of a great height and go swinging. What jolly ing programme, a “knowledge” of insects that can defy gravity for good fun and what an amazing invention for the recreational life lengthy periods and fly. And it is for these insects for which the net of a spider. But a spider has a more serious concern than bungy is designed – and the design criteria is mysteriously correlated to the jumping. It has to find suitneuro-motor movements of able nourishment in small livthe spider as it exhibits its There was obviously a Designer ing creatures, mainly insects of engineering skills. It does just the right size, weigh, pronot have to consider how because the spider knows tein content etc. So – “Why to use its silk producing not build a net?” Indeed, why equipment. It has the inintuitively how to manipulate not. We turn the question over built strategic information to Dawkins. of how and where to display the silk line One can imagine a spider its net and how to negotiate contemplating the potential its silken map. possibilities of how to use this silk line jetted out from the rear As a devoted evolutionist Dawkins starts with the tangible end of its body. But before we look closely into the spiders’ problem product, which in his view is the result of Natural Selection. In solving solutions Dawkins reminds us, and the spider, that this the evolutionary process of the emerging end product the ‘mind’ net building material comes with a cost. Well I suppose our spider eventually appears. This is the evolutionary way. The spider/silk is pretty smart and knows something about cost effective econ- product, then the net. Conversely, the Intelligent Design concept omies (an evolutionary concept). It might be thinking it would starts with the ‘mind’ (the Designer) that conceives and provides be better to conserve the production and use of this material and the instructions to build the end product – the spider/net inforimitate its neighbour relative, the jumping spider. They only use mation, then the silk. a short length of silk to help it keep in contact with its take-off Dawkins targets the spider; particularly the net building charspot when attacking its prey. Then it can use the line as a ladder acteristics to support the theory of Natural Selection. He likes to to climb back up again. use the web example because it can be viewed as a two dimensional But then to be a jumping spider it must be able to jump instanta- image which can be manipulated by a computer programme to neously a distance of 3-4 centimeters and it would have to develop show the sequential development of web patterns and then disa set of special telescopic eyes etc. No – the jumping method of cover the most efficient design for silk usage over area etc. (see the hunting is not a viable option so back to the drawing board to copious images displayed in his book). His generic spider suddenly figure out how to use all this silk material in the pursuit of food. appears with all the characteristics of the form and function of a “Why not build a net?” Of course, that’s the way to go. This would spider. In particular its web-constructing abilities (orb web). Not suggest that the spider has the visual design knowledge of what one of the complex evolutionary developments of the spider, from a net is and what it can be used for. Obviously, a net is a series some pre-existing, pre-historic period is examined or explained 26 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
in evolutionary terms. The spider, with its unique laboratory of silk producing chemicals and nozzle control system suddenly arrived on Dawkins desk so he can enquire “Why not build a net?” As Dawkins details in his description of the webbuilding process, the spider first builds the radials and then the spiral of a more open net scaffolding construction. Was this the preliminary stage during the evolution of webmaking when the spider would have discovered that although the web interrupted the flight of insects it was too open? – and even if it impeded their flight, could not hold them? Then, through the process of blind chance and trial and error over long periods of time, spiderworld discovered it was able to produce a secondary, sticky silk line that could be overlaid on the scaffolding! This would seem to fit the evolutionary programme of the gradual improvement techniques its theory is based upon. We could draw an analogy with an imaginary island where a few generations of people have been living, isolated from modern civilization. One day a ship’s container is washed up on the shore and the inhabitants eagerly open it up. Inside they find the kitset of a light, four seater, single engined, propeller driven aircraft. Of course they are not familiar with such a machine and although they can speak and read English, somehow the assembly instructions were left out. Just a few basic tools were included. The wheels are the first recognizable items and they are put to use for a hand-cart, trailer. Then the wings are made use of as a canopy shelter. The propeller is removed from the engine and connected up to some gearing to make a windmill water pump. The cabin is used for a children’s play hut and the tail section is erected as a kind of totem pole. The engine is an unresolved mystery and is erected in the village square as an idol to their gods. This illustrates the very same challenge faced by Dawkins’ spider and “Why not build a net?” Or by the islanders – why not use the materials for some community advantage? In both cases the material (silk and aircraft components) are suddenly (unexpectedly) there, so what should be done with them? The islanders have no knowledge of aeroplanes or of aeronautics and how a machine can be designed to defy the laws of gravity. They know nothing of a machine being able to take the advantage of a certain configuration of specially designed and assembled parts to cause an aircraft to fly into the air and be directionally controlled while airborne. The islanders have all the materials for a wonderful flying machine but lack the specialized theoretical and mechanical knowledge to use them. How many generations using trial and error would it take for the islanders to discover how to relate the
By the time all the refinements of web construction were worked out and perfected by trial and error of chance over millions of years Dawkins’ spiderworld would have self-destructed by starvation
components and assemble the aircraft and then fly it? But Dawkins’ spider has the amazing ability to produce this wonderful natural, almost invisible, tough resilient ‘thread’ which he refers to as being “anciently available in the spider’s tool kit. And this “tool kit” appears to be as mysteriously developed from the past as the spider itself. So: “Why not build a net?” Back then to Dawkins’ spider. So, as though making a studied examination of the short length of silk it has secreted, the spider contemplates the options and comes to the decision “Why not build a net?” And not just some ordinary set of parallel lines intersected by another set of lines crossing at 90 degrees as a fisherman’s net might be woven. No – that would use considerably more material to cover the same area as an orb web. Nor does it need the clumsy, time-consuming evolutionary process of Natural Selection to do the job. By the time all the refinements of web construction were worked out and perfected by trial and error of chance over millions of years Dawkins’ spiderworld would have self-destructed by starvation. So the “Why not build a net?” seems to me to be a naive, rhetorical question dreamed up in the support of explaining the Evolutionary Theory. But it has to be asked by Dawkins because the material (according to the Evolution Theory) must come before the ‘mind’, (intelligence). Natural Selection produces the best possible results which then “appears to conform to what might have been designed – if there was a Designer. There was obviously a Designer because the spider knows intuitively how to manipulate the silk line into the predetermined orb pattern dictated by the ‘mind’ of the programme. * Richard Dawkins: Climbing Mount Improbable, W.W. Norton & Company 1966, New York London
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 27
Government ignorant of safety risks surrounding energy-saver light bulbs A Labour and Green Party initiative to ban ordinary incandescent light bulbs if they win the election could cost ordinary households thousands of dollars and have major safety implications for children and pregnant women. IAN WISHART has the story about new energy efficient light bulbs that the Government has kept off the public radar 28 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
e’ve all heard the marketing spin about so-called “energysaver” light bulbs: they last seven times longer than an ordinary bulb, they use only a fifth of the power. In theory, compact fluorescent lights are the way of the future, a solution to soaring energy wastage and a sure-fire way to go green in the home and save cash doing it. In theory. Sometimes what looks good on paper turns out to be not so flash in practice, and when politicians get involved it can be a recipe for disaster. When Labour’s Energy Minister David Parker and the Green Party’s Jeanette Fitzsimons issued an order last month to ban the use of ordinary light bulbs in homes from next year, the news media were quick to paint it as another step towards saving the planet, faithfully spinning the government line. “New Zealand will ban traditional light bulb sales from October 2009 to cut greenhouse gas emissions and save up to half a billion dollars in energy costs over 12 years,” reported Newstalk ZB News breathlessly. ‘’The traditional light bulb is very old technology and very inefficient. Only five per cent of the energy it uses generates light – the rest is wasted as heat,’’ Associated Press quoted David Parker in a statement, apparently missing the point that heaters may have to be used more if we switch to cold lights. On the surface, it should have been another glittering PR moment for the Government in its battle to be seen as a climate change leader. But then again, this is the same David Parker whose climate change policy was secretly being written by Heather Simpson in Helen Clark’s office, as revealed by whistleblower Erin Leigh in the book Absolute Power. Leigh revealed the policy required constant re-drafts because Simpson didn’t have her head around the issues, and was concentrating more on the politics than the substance.
AT A GLANCE Mercury vapour US authorities don’t recommend use in children’s rooms or over carpeted areas because of toxic hazard Damage to houses Despite NZ government assurances, the latest scientific tests in the US prove the mercury in one broken bulb can irreparably contaminate a carpet. In the US insurance companies are refusing to cover the cost of replacing carpets Fire risk It is normal for CFL bulbs to physically burn up at the end of their natural life. Although rare, in some cases this has led to house fires Toxic smoke The burnt plastic and gases emitted when lights burn out are carcinogenic Lifespan Although many bulbs claim 6,000 hours (five years’ use) or greater, this is based on ideal laboratory conditions. Some bulbs have died within 12 months in household use RF Interference Household CFLs are widely known to cause interference to wireless networks, electronic appliances, hot water cylinders and cordless phones Power disruptions NZ Government briefing papers disclose major concerns that CFLs could cause regular widespread power outages because of a peculiar side-effect known as harmonic distortion Cost of disposal Some US states now require homeowners to drive old CFL bulbs to a special recycling centre to avoid contaminating the environment
Photography: Mark Scowen
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 29
There are suspicions the light bulb policy may suffer the same limitations. Before you read any further, however, here’s a figure to keep in mind: “The energy saving potential is of the order of 6% of domestic sector electricity use, or 2% of total electricity use,” top science consultant David Cogan has told the New Zealand government in a briefing paper.1 Remember that figure: the banning of ordinary light bulbs will reduce total electricity demand by 2%. The question is, after you’ve read the full story, whether you think Labour and the Greens’ plan to save 2% is worth the effort. THE MERCURY ISSUE Perhaps the most serious issue for householders arising out of next year’s compulsory switch to predominantly CFLs is their mercury content. So far, the New Zealand Government has played this aspect very low key. The Ministry for the Environment, found guilty last year of letting political appointees write its briefing papers instead of independent public servants, has posted this claim on its website: “Energy saving lamps contain a small amount of mercury which makes them operate much more efficiently than incandescent and halogen lamps. Mercury is toxic to human health and bioaccumulates [Bioaccumulate – the accumulation of a substance, such as a toxic chemical, in various tissues of a living organism.] in the environment but the amount inside an individual lamp is not large enough to pose a hazard to users.”2 The spin is clear. The lamps are “energy saving”, it is only a “small amount” of mercury, which makes the lights operate “much more efficiently”. Importantly, on the safety side, the Ministry for the Environment assures New Zealanders that “the amount…is not large enough to pose a hazard to users”. That is the official NZ Government position. Now let’s examine the reality. In March last year, Brandy Bridges, a mother in the town of Prospect, Maine, in the US, heard the publicity about the new energy-saver light bulbs and went out and purchased two dozen of the CFLs for the family home. While installing one in her young daughter’s bedroom, Bridges accidentally broke the new CFL bulb, which shattered and fell to the carpet. Remembering that the bulbs contained a trace amount of mercury, she called around for advice, eventually hitting the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) who suggested she call in a hazardous waste crew. When the hazard contractor quoted US$2,000 to clean the bedroom, Bridges decided simply to seal off the room and make her daughter sleep elsewhere in the house while the issue was sorted out . (See sidebar feature for Brandy’s story) As publicity from the unfortunate event spread across America, it quickly became apparent that neither the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor anyone else had up to date information on the hazards of household CFLs. Not to be beaten, the Maine DEP called in its own science team to run some experiments on broken CFLs. The DEP team smashed dozens of bulbs in a series of tests to see just how much mercury they 30 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
emitted, and how much was left in the environment after various clean-up scenarios were tried. The experiments were conducted over bare floors, and carpeted floors. The study team reported back just a few months ago, in February 2008, and the findings in their massive 160 page report have stunned US safety authorities. First off, the often-cited claim that bulbs contain only 5mg of mercury was clarified: it’s an average. “Without the mercury, the lamp would not produce visible light. The average amount of mercury in a CFL is 5 mg with a range of 0.9 to 18 mg.” Obviously, the smaller (in watts) the bulb, the less mercury. Higher power (brighter) bulbs generally have more, although there can be fluctuations between brands as well. One busted bulb in a bedroom produced very disturbing results in their tests. “Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the Maine Ambient Air Guideline (MAAG) of 300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/ m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3, and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a single compact fluorescent lamp,” the report confirms. That’s up to 300 times higher than the recommended safe level of inhalable mercury vapour. From just one light bulb. What was it that New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment said? “The amount inside an individual lamp is not large enough to pose a hazard to users.” As if to put the lie to that claim well and truly, when Maine DEP scientists went back to Brandy Bridges’ house some three months after the breakage, they found mercury contamination in the bedroom was still as high as 2000 ng/m3 – three months later and despite following all the cleanup recommendations. In the end, the DEP ripped out her carpet and disposed of it as toxic waste. And little wonder. According to the DEP scientific study, while the 300 ng/m3 limit is the maximum allowable daily dose of mercury for the sake of legislation, there is in fact no known safe level for mercury exposure. “The Maine Ambient Air Guideline (MAAG) of 300 ng/m3 is identical to the EPA reference concentration (RfC), which is designed to protect against chronic exposure. The RfC is based on a number of occupational studies, in which tremor, fine motor deficits, electroencephalography (EEG) and autonomic nervous system abnormalities, and cognitive deficits were observed. “A no-effect level (the level at which no adverse affects are
Mercury exposures have serious impacts on fetal and infant brain development. Elemental mercury can cross the placenta from a mother to fetus
observed) was not identified in these studies.” To make matters worse, scientists believe the 300 ng/m3 limit may not protect children or infants. “Sensitive populations are of particular concern with mercury exposures for a number of reasons. Mercury exposures have serious impacts on fetal and infant brain development. Elemental mercury can cross the placenta from a mother to fetus. For these reasons, acute peaks could be particularly problematic during pregnancy. Infants and toddlers have much more vulnerable brains. “Neurotoxicants identified in adults may have different and more severe effects in developing organisms. Infants and toddlers also have a much higher rate of respiration than adults. Therefore they have a higher exposure to similar concentrations. They also are lower to the floor and therefore closer to the source of the exposure and presumably more apt to obtain a concentrated dose of mercury. “Elderly and unhealthy individuals may already be at comprised health and be more susceptible to mercury effects than a healthy
individual. For example, mercury does kidney damage which could exacerbate an already existing kidney disease.” Additionally, pregnant women exposed to a broken CFL light bulb could literally destroy their baby, in the wrong circumstances: “It is well established that the developing organism may be much more sensitive than the adult to neurotoxic agents,” reports Maine’s DEP study. “For example, methylmercury exposure can produce devastating effects in the fetus, including cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and even death, while producing no or minimal effects in the mother.” The problem for New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment is that its own reassuring public comments about disposing of broken bulbs were not based on any safety study. The Maine study is believed to be the first of its kind, and it was only published in February this year. New Zealand authorities appeared to be unaware of it when Investigate contacted them. On its own website3, the US Environmental Protection Agency INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 31
says it is now undertaking a “full review” of the Maine study with a view to updating its own recommendations on how to deal with CFL breakages in the home. And it’s not as if the EPA was already limpwristed on the subject. “Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine, because mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. Clothing that has come into direct contact with mercury should be discarded,” warns the EPA. By “direct contact,” the EPA is referring to clothes you were wearing if you happen to break a bulb while installing it, or if you were underneath it when it broke. If that happens, your clothes must be thrown out, in a sealed plastic bag, immediately. If you attempt to clean up the broken light bulb, you can keep the clothes you are wearing, but only if they don’t come into direct contact with lightbulb fragments or powder. Those clothes can be washed, but should be done so separately from other clothes. Whilst it is vital that your skin does not come into contact with the residue, that means you may also be up for the cost of a new pair of shoes. “Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around,” warns the EPA.
nother no-no is vacuuming. Although it might suck up glass fragments and powder residues, the mercury vapour molecules are so small the vacuum cleaner spits them back out through the exhaust into the whole atmosphere of the house, dramatically increasing the area of mercury contamination. Additionally, “agitating” the carpet via vacuuming or sweeping or even walking or playing on it throws more mercury back into the air and into your lungs. “Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury,” says the EPA. “The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure.” The Maine DEP study found there were three crucial areas of mercury exposure from a broken bulb: “This study identified several potential exposures from the breakage of a CFL. The first is the air concentration from the initial break and cleanup. The next is the source left in the flooring surface. This ongoing emission affects both those using the surface in close contact and sometimes those more distant from the flooring, especially when the floor is agitated. The final piece is the emissions from the broken lamp debris once cleaned up. The three different potential mercury exposures each impact guidance for appropriate handling of a broken CFL.” 32 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
All types of flooring surfaces tested can retain mercury sources even when visibly clean. Flooring surfaces, once visibly clean, can emit mercury immediately at the source that can be greater than 50,000 ng/m3
The report also noted that following official clean-up guidelines was still not good enough to eliminate the pollution. “Although following the pre-study cleanup guidance produces visibly clean flooring surfaces for both wood and carpets (shag and short nap), all types of flooring surfaces tested can retain mercury sources even when visibly clean. Flooring surfaces, once visibly clean, can emit mercury immediately at the source that can be greater than 50,000 ng/m3. Flooring surfaces that still contain mercury sources emit more mercury when agitated than when not agitated. “This mercury source in the carpeting has particular significance for children rolling around on a floor, babies crawling, or non mobile infants placed on the floor. “Cleaning up a broken CFL by vacuuming up the smaller debris particles in an un-vented room can elevate mercury concentrations over the MAAG in the room and it can linger at these levels for hours. Vacuuming tends to mix the air within the room such that the one foot and five foot heights are similar immediately after vacuuming. A vacuum can become contaminated by mercury such that it cannot be easily decontaminated. Vacuuming a carpet where a lamp has broken and been visibly cleaned up, even weeks after the cleanup, can elevate the mercury readings over the MAAG in an un-vented room.” In fact, the data showed that three weeks after the breakage had been cleaned to EPA standards, one vacuuming could send mercury levels in the room back up to 12 times higher than the maximum safe level, and keep them there for hours – cold comfort if you have kids in your house, and a major risk to your vacuum cleaner. Additionally (and this is why carpets have to be destroyed), the scientific team repeatedly vacuumed carpets where bulbs had broken, to see if vacuuming did eliminate the residue. They found that even after several attempts, the mercury was still trapped in the carpet fibres. To make matters worse, some of the vacuum cleaners were so contaminated that cleaning them was impossible, meaning not only was the carpet over and out, so was the vacuum cleaner.
Then there’s the problem of what to do with the toxic waste. Apparently ignorant of the latest American studies, New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment is reassuring the public that a broken CFL is not a major problem: “If your fluorescent lamp breaks, your greatest risk is being cut by broken glass. As a precaution, we advise you to wear gloves when handling the broken lamp and open doors and windows to ventilate the room. Put the broken pieces in a plastic bag then wrap with paper to prevent cuts. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any smaller shards of glass, powder or liquid. Dispose of the paper towels, gloves and any cloths used to clean the area by placing in a plastic bag with your household rubbish,” recommends the New Zealand government. But the most up to date safety study available says plastic bags are next to useless for containing a broken CFL bulb. “Double re-sealable polyethylene bags…did not appear to retard the migration of mercury adequately to maintain room air concentrations below the MAAG… The significance of this issue is that cleanup material may remain in the home for some period of time and/or be transported inside a closed vehicle, exposing occupants to avoidable mercury vapors when improperly contained,” report the Maine scientists. The best method of containing bulb waste is inside a glass jar with a hermetically sealed lid. Surprisingly, plastic jars, like large peanut butter containers with screw top lids were little better than plastic bags, also failing to prevent mercury vapour from leaking into the house. The scientific experiments proved that debris “sealed inside two polyethylene plastic bags and then placed in a clean room”, sent atmospheric mercury levels up to more than three times the maximum allowable limit, for more than eight hours – the mercury vapour simply leached out of the bags into the air. “Of the 12 different types of containers tested during the 23 different tests, the plastic bag was found to be the worst choice for containing mercury emissions. Based upon this study, the DEP now suggests that a glass container with metal screw lid with a gum seal be used to contain debris.” All of which means the current disposal advice given by New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment is dangerously faulty, based on the most recent scientific studies. If a bulb breaks, disposing of it in two plastic bags will not prevent it from poisoning your house. Only a glass jar with a hermetically sealed screw-top lid is safe enough to hold the debris. The US scientists say it is possible that one single “spike” dose of mercury could be enough to damage a baby or a child’s brain, even if there is no further ongoing exposure. With the experiments showing a 20 watt CFL (equivalent to 100 watts ordinary) bulb can produce a spike of 100,000 ng/m3 of air, 300 times the recommended allowable maximum, this could be a major safety problem with making CFLs the light of choice when ordinary bulbs are banned. “An important issue for which there are no data is the relative importance of a short spike in exposure versus a longer-term lower exposure in producing toxicity,” says the Maine report. “The U.S. EPA considers that a single exposure may be sufficient to produce effects in a developing organism because of the recognition of potential critical windows of vulnerability. This implies that any exposure over an accepted toxicity value is potentially cause for concern, since a single exposure may produce a perturbation in a single or multiple processes in discrete brain areas, depending on the developmental stage of the exposure. Any such perturbations
Of the 12 different types of containers tested during the 23 different tests, the plastic bag was found to be the worst choice for containing mercury emissions. The DEP now suggests that a glass container with metal screw lid with a gum seal be used to contain debris
may have “downstream” consequences: if A doesn’t happen, then B and C cannot happen in a normal manner. “Repeated exposures would presumably increase the probability of untoward consequences. In addition, the relative risk of various exposure metrics is unknown: whether the greatest risk is posed by short-term higher level peak exposures or by the total area under the curve including higher and lower exposures.” To further muddy the waters, the scientists note that the mercury contamination was considerably worse – nearly double in fact – at summertime temperatures (32C) than winter (23C). To put the exposure in perspective, a study4 of workers who had been exposed on a regular basis to 33,000 nanograms/m3 of mercury (roughly a third of the 100,000 ng/m3 peak caused by a broken bulb), and compared in a neurological test to a control group of 70 unexposed people, found they scored worse on “mental arithmetic, 2-digit search, switching attention, visual choice reaction time and finger tapping”. A similar study of dentists, where the atmospheric readings in their offices were 16,000 ng/m3, found similar drops in mental capacity.5 As a result of the Maine scientific study on CFL breakages, major changes have been made in recommendations around the use of CFL light bulbs. For a start, the study recommended ripping out carpets exposed to a broken CFL bulb, in order to protect the health of pregnant women, infants, children and the elderly or infirm: “Mercury sources left in the carpets, the mercury levels in the air that this can cause in certain circumstances, and the potential to irreversibly contaminate the vacuum are all factors that point toward removal of the carpet section where the lamp has broken. This is the easiest and surest means of eliminating the mercury source that remains in the carINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 33
pet. We realize this is unpleasant and could be the source of controversy. However, it seems the surest means of eliminating avoidable mercury exposure.” Formally, they reported, homeowners should be strongly encouraged to arrange the “removal of carpeting sections where breakage has occurred as a precaution in some situations, particularly in homes with infants, small children or pregnant women.” Sadly for homeowners in the US, and here in New Zealand, insurance companies won’t be covering the cost of replacing your carpet if a new energy-saver bulb breaks. You’re on your own and it could cost thousands of dollars. Nonetheless, that’s now the official recommendation in the US state of Maine, and may become the national standard in the US. If a mercury bulb breaks in your house, US officials now recommend opening windows immediately and evacuating the room behind closed doors for 15 minutes before attempting to clean up (if you leave it too long after that, however, the mercury can penetrate more of the surrounding area). “In addition, data from this study suggest that venting should continue for several hours after a lamp cleanup to be conservative.” In other words, be prepared to leave your windows open, even in winter, for up to six hours to allow as much mercury vapour to dissipate as possible. And even if you do, it still won’t be enough to clear the air.
The lack of proper safety information in New Zealand has been thrown into stark relief by the comments of Lighting Council CEO Richard Ponting to the NZ Herald on June 21st this year. Asked if the mercury in CFLs is dangerous, Ponting gave this response: “No. A current generation CFL has probably got less than five milligrams or about the size of the end of a ballpoint pen…The type of mercury in those lamps is in a semi-solid state. It’s quite soft and it doesn’t exist as a vapour after the lamp is broken or when the lamp is cold. “You can’t inhale it.” Make of those reassuring comments what you will, but they differ strongly from the results of Maine’s groundbreaking scientific study. Convinced it must have been an error by the newspaper, Investigate asked Ponting to clarify. “The mercury can only exist as a vapour after the lamp has been switched on and warms up,” he reaffirmed. “If the lamp is broken when it’s cold you can poke it around with a matchstick, the mercury is in a solid, globular form. It only exists as a gas once the lamp is hot.” Ponting was in disbelief when we read out key portions of the Maine report revealing mercury vapour readings from lamps broken while cold. “I’d like to see that study. What do they say about fluorescent tubes? The technology behind CFL lamps – the generation of UV
“Sadly for homeowners in the US, and here in New Zealand, insurance companies won’t be covering the cost of replacing your carpet if a new energy-saver bulb breaks. You’re on your own and it could cost thousands of dollars” Additionally, the Maine state government is now officially recommending that CFL bulbs are NOT used over carpeted areas, or where children play. Formally, the guidelines are that “homeowners consider not utilizing fluorescent lamps in situations where they could easily be broken, in bedrooms used by infants, small children or pregnant women, or over carpets in rooms frequented by infants, small children or pregnant women.” “If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away,” warns the US EPA. All of which, again, casts a major safety cloud over plans by New Zealand and Australia to make these lights the preferred choice next year when incandescent lights are banned. How could New Zealand officials have got it so wrong? When Absolute Power was published in April, it revealed disclosures from former MfE advisor Erin Leigh that the independence of the Ministry, and thus the integrity of its advice, had been compromised because of political interference by both Helen Clark’s office and Minister David Parker. If the light bulb policy was politically driven that could explain the massive blunder by MfE in failing to take the Maine DEP report into account; the Ministry was too busy publishing what the government and the Greens wanted to hear, and did not research the safety issues around CFLs properly. 34 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
radiation from ionized mercury impacting fluorescent powder on the inside of glass tube, that technology’s been around for 60 years. My own personal view is if there were any health hazard from that technology we’d have seen it long before now.” The same question was asked of Investigate the following day by one of Ponting’s colleagues, Leon Baard, who’s a key technical consultant on the introduction of CFLs to New Zealand and Australia. Baard says he’s seen reports on the Maine study and, like Ponting, can’t see why CFLs would be any less safe than commercial office lighting. “We’ve been living with mercury [in office lights] for 50 years, and there’s no issue with it”. At first glance it seems like a good point, but office lights are not at risk of being hit by kids playing, and office lights are usually installed and replaced by specialist lighting technicians. It’s the human factor, and accidental breakages whilst changing light bulbs, that raise the stakes on the domestic front. “I’ve got CFLs throughout my house,” explains Baard, “and had no problems with them. I have them in the children’s bedrooms as well.” Baard challenges the significance of the data from the Maine study, suggesting the deemed maximum exposure level of 300 nanograms per cubic metre is an arbitrary number “plucked out of thin air. They don’t know what that number really means. The danger level might be ten times above that, or it might be a tenth
of it. They just don’t know”. “I don’t know of any study anywhere that shows mercury vapour lights were dangerous. The older office lamps had even higher concentrations, but there’s no evidence anywhere that I know of, of people inhaling it and having any kind of problem. No evidence.” Nonetheless, Baard accepts that parental fears about mercury bulbs in bedrooms are not something for the industry to ignore. “No, look, I accept parents might have a concern, and that’s their right.” The answer, he explains gently, is not to cling to inefficient ordinary bulbs, but for people who are worried to look at some of the other lighting options outside of CFLs. “There are new generation high efficiency halogens, you can get them from Bunnings today, which have been designed to replace ordinary incandescent bulbs, for $3.69, and they last 2000 hours, and they use 40 watts but are the same as a 75 watt incandescent.” It’s a point reinforced also by the Government’s EnergyWise unit at EECA, which has just published a pamphlet this month reassuring householders that new generation halogen lights are being introduced for people worried about mercury contamination from CFLs.
erhaps the most dangerous aspect to the CFL mercury issue, however, is not the instant “spike” exposure caused by a breakage, but the effect of a string of breakages over the years on the toxicity of suburban homes. Picture a low income family in South Auckland living in a Housing New Zealand home, forced to use CFLs because of the light bulb ban and because they cannot afford even more expensive halogens. Picture a breakage, then try and estimate the odds of a stressed out (or drugged up) householder following proper clean-up and disposal procedures. Then picture a few more breakages over the years, none of them dealt with properly. Then try and figure out how much mercury might accumulate in the carpets, floorboards and walls of such a house over a 20 year span as either a Housing NZ residence or a low grade rental property. Then try and figure out the impact such poisoning might have on every family that moves through that house, and how many taxpayer dollars might be wasted dealing with the health or crime problems that erupt downstream because of mercury exposure. And in case you think we’re picking on South Auckland, there’s a substantial risk that over the next 20 years every New Zealand home will have suffered at least one lightbulb breakage and possibly several more. When you buy a house or move into a rental, you won’t know whether the home you’re moving into is contaminated by mercury, unless you go to the extreme expense of getting it tested.
Your safety, and your family’s safety, will rely on the ability and willingness of other ordinary New Zealanders to properly dispose of mercury laden light bulbs, and you’ll never really know. The real cost is not one light bulb breakage, but how badly affected homes will be after 20 years of amateur attempts to clean up one of the deadliest neurotoxins on the planet. A generation of children crawling on mercury-infested carpets would give new meaning to the phrase, “dumbed-down”. On the strength of these scenarios alone, there’s a good case for actually banning the use of CFLs in homes, outright and immediately. One of the arguments often cited in favour of energy-saver bulbs is that although they contain mercury, they cut the amount of mercury being emitted by power stations because of the electricity they save. This is certainly true of coal-fired stations, which do expel mercury into the air as part of the coal-burning process. It is not true of hydro, however, because hydro-stations don’t generate mercury. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 35
Regardless, it is one thing to have mercury vapour spewing out of a funnel into the ventilated open air. It is entirely different, and somewhat personal, to bring mercury back into an enclosed household in circumstances where the risks of breakage are very high. The chances of your child suffering serious mercury contamination from a coal-fired power station 200 kilometres away is almost nil. The chance of a child breaking a lightbulb during a pillow fight, or knocking a lamp over during other shenanigans is quite high. And the chances of mercury hanging around in the bedroom carpet to cause chronic exposure is extremely high. Not that you’d know it, if this joint news release last month from the Housing Corporation6 and Energy Mad, the company behind Ecobulbs, is anything to go by: “Negligible concerns about mercury level in light bulbs “Housing New Zealand encourages tenants to use energy-efficient light bulbs. Not only do these bulbs save tenants money on their power bills, they’re better for the environment, and last almost 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. “Energy-efficient light bulbs have a tiny amount of mercury in them – 1.5 (about the size of a grain of salt) to 5 milligrams. This level of mercury is so low it’s not deemed a ‘hazardous waste’ by landfill operators. “In fact, most dental fillings have up to 100 times the mercury contained in Ecobulbs, the energy-efficient light bulb brand that Housing New Zealand recommends. “Also, mercury in Ecobulbs is contained in an ‘amalgam’, so even if the bulb breaks the mercury is likely to remain intact.” As the Maine scientific study shows, “yeah, right.”
our months after the release of the Maine study revealing that floors should not be swept or vacuumed, and that plastic bags were useless to contain the mercury waste, both Ecobulb and the Housing Corporation were still offering out of date disposal advice: “Energy Mad, suppliers of Ecobulbs, recommend the following disposal options: “If the bulb breaks – Air the house for about 10-15 minutes. Broken bulbs fragments should then be swept into a bag (don’t vacuum) and taken to your local refuse station for recycling. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid being cut.” Because of the Maine study, we now know that following the guidelines to the letter won’t clean the mercury out of your carpet. It might look clean, but the experiments revealed looks were dangerously deceiving. We also know that being cut by a piece of bulb is probably the least of your worries. The argument from lighting manufacturers and the NZ and Australian governments that 5mg of mercury is “negligible” doesn’t hold water either. Five milligrams is about the size of a fullstop. However, the EPA limit for human exposure to mercury in the atmosphere is only 300 nanograms. To put that in context, it may help to remember that 5mg is actually five million nanograms of mercury. A 1.5mg bulb is still 1,500,000 nanograms, when the recommended maximum level for human exposure is way down on just 300 nanograms. 36 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
So the chances of inhaling something toxic if a light breaks are actually extremely high, and inhalation is actually the easiest way for a human to be poisoned by elemental mercury. The Maine discovery of dangerous levels of elemental mercury vapour being emitted from one broken light bulb also raises issues for transport and retail workers in New Zealand. A truck that crashes whilst carrying a load of CFL bulbs could release extremely hazardous levels of mercury vapour into the traffic, putting motorists, pedestrians and emergency service workers at risk. Likewise, a supermarket worker who drops a box of CFL bulbs could release enough mercury to contaminate the supermarket, staff and customers, and food. Bearing that in mind, we asked retailers whether they’d had any instructions from government agencies on how to handle CFLs and how and when to report a hazardous incident. We were unable to find anyone who’d been given any such advice. Given that CFLs have been on the market in New Zealand for years, and are highly likely to have been smashed in stores at times, this raises major safety concerns. In our efforts to nail down the Government agency responsible for this, Investigate first rang the Labour Department – once the home of Dangerous Goods Inspectors and now OSH (Occupational Safety & Health). Surely, if a supermarket staffer dropped a CFL, OSH would need to be advised. “No, it’s not us,” exclaimed the Labour Department. Dangerous Goods are handled by ERMA (Environmental Risk Management Authority), and electrical safety issues are handled by Energy Safe. We rang Energy Safe. “No, our responsibility only kicks in when an appliance is plugged in,” explained a senior executive. “CFL bulbs damaged in transit or storage, that’s not our role. You could try ERMA.” So we did. ERMA, however, likewise deny drafting any rules for transporting, storage or handling of CFLs, even though mercury is listed on the ERMA website as a hazardous susbstance. “No, the CFL bulbs are not under our jurisdiction,” said a spokesman. “They are not listed under the Hazardous Substances and Noxious Organisms Act.” Quite how light bulbs containing mercury avoided being listed under that Act is a mystery worthy of further exploration. Energy saving light bulbs have been on the market for years. But throughout that time, no cabinet minister has ever queried how the mercury lights are handled, and no government safety agency has addressed the issue. The question is, how many workers, customers and householders have been exposed to dangerous doses of mercury vapour because of a failure by the Government
“Because of the Maine study, we now know that following the guidelines to the letter won’t clean the mercury out of your carpet. It might look clean, but the experiments revealed looks were dangerously deceiving”
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 37
THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD American mother Brandy Bridges dropped a light bulb, and the scientific ripples from her experience have gone right around the world, sparking a discovery that CFL bulbs are not safe if they’re broken or cracked. IAN WISHART interviewed Bridges from her home in Prospect, Maine, about the day she dropped the bulb and made a phone call to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) BRANDY: First they recommended I have it professionally cleaned, because that was their protocol, and then when I went to the papers with that information they completely changed their protocol to say that people could clean it themselves with just paper and duct tape. I obviously didn’t do that. I sealed the room with plastic and quarantined the room – my daughter wasn’t allowed in there because of the mercury in the room. And then the DEP offered to come back out and remove the carpet for me. They removed the carpet, re-tested everything and sealed everything in containers and disposed of it as hazardous waste. INVESTIGATE: Did they replace the carpet? BRANDY: Oh gosh no, they left a huge mess. They cut the carpet only out of the middle of the floor, so there was still carpet under her bed and her couch, her dresser and her entertainment centre. They just cut out the middle and left a big mess. I stripped everything. I actually threw away all the blankets. We aired out teddy bears outside, washed them and tried everything we could that we got that stuff, and we threw most everything away because of the area that was contaminated – there were [mercury] readings from the top of the stairs all the way to her bed. INVESTIGATE: They got mercury readings all that way? BRANDY: Yep, from one tiny – it was the smallest CFL you can actually buy. It was the tiniest bulb. INVESTIGATE: What size hole did they leave in the carpet? BRANDY: Probably eight by ten. INVESTIGATE: Inches? BRANDY: No, eight by ten feet. INVESTIGATE: Eight by ten feet?? BRANDY: Yeah, it was the entire centre of her room, all except for where her bed covered, her dresser, entertainment centre and couch. INVESTIGATE: Did they make any comment about the readings that they found at the time? BRANDY: Well, it was about three months after the bulb actually broke, and we had plastic down on the floor and had ventilated with windows open up there, and had moved my daughter to a different room in the house, and when almost three months later when they came back and removed the carpet, the bag where they had placed the carpet into still had readings higher than the state’s danger level. INVESTIGATE: So I take it you’re not that fond of the CFL bulbs now? BRANDY: Gosh no. We went back through the entire house and took every single bulb out and replaced them with Thomas Edison’s great invention (the incandescent bulb). INVESTIGATE: What’s your reaction to the news that Congress has passed a recommendation that these things become compulsory? 38 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
BRANDY: I think they have a lot invested, a lot of advertising, marketing, a lot of massively huge companies backing them, G.E. being one. There’s a lot of big name companies out there, they’ve built a business and a market on these bulbs. That’s how they’re making their money. With the go-Green craze and everything, it’s really good marketing right now. They’re offering people savings on their lighting bill when oil prices are so high. They’re saying it actually helps the environment. Just in Maine, there’s over one million CFLs sold in less than a year. That’s one million CFLs (five kilograms of mercury) going into the landfills in three to five years, whenever they all burn out. So every year, now that they’ve been on the market for so long, there’s going to be over a million bulbs going into the landfills. We don’t even have a place to recycle them. People don’t even understand that it’s toxic, it’s deadly, it can cause problems from reproductive harm to cancer, lots of bad things. That’s why we got rid of mercury thermometers. We get rid of one mercury thermometer per household and put 50 CFLs in there, and if one tiny CFL can hold 1.9 million nanograms of mercury, when the state says it’s dangerous to have anything over 300 nanograms in your home. And this little bulb was measured emitting 2,000 nanograms, that’s telling you something. They say it reduces emissions, and that’s been their big selling point here in Maine that the CFLs reduce emissions from power plants, well that’s power plants that burn coal, but here in Maine we use hydro-electricity. We have so much water! They use water dams, they don’t burn coal like they do down south. So really it’s not helping us at all, it’s more hurting our environment up here than helping it. [Editor’s note: NZ coal generation normally accounts for about 8% of total electricity] INVESTIGATE: What sort of response have you had from people? I mean, really, you became the canary down the mineshaft for all of America on this because even the EPA is modifying its guidelines based on your experience. BRANDY: Yeah, there was a lot of controversy about it. Some people thought it was an over-reaction, and some people thought it was a valid point, but I just believe what the science tells me and it tells me in every piece of literature and every statistic that I’ve read that mercury is not a good thing. The mercury contained in the bulbs is completely different from the mercury our parents used to experiment with at school. That was a liquid form of mercury that has to be ingested before it really harms you, but this powder mercury is inhaled. It goes into the air and vapourises like a gas, and you inhale it and then it’s absorbed into your lungs. It’s an accumulative metal, it just keeps building and building in your bloodstream, so the more you are exposed to it the sicker you become. INVESTIGATE: I guess also the danger is that it’s very easy to
to ensure safety standards were designed and adhered to? Executives at one of the country’s largest retail chains were stunned when we told them the results of the Maine study, and the implications for retailers if bulbs break in shopping aisles or storage areas. “No one has told us anything, but now that you’ve put us on notice we are certainly going to have to address this.” There is one piece of good news. As a result of Investigate’s inquiries, the Ministry for the Environment has now obtained a copy of the Maine report and is promising to update its information bulletin on CFL safety. The Ministry has also acknowledged as we went to press the existence of a second study7, published only this month, that confirms the Maine findings: CFLs release hazardous amounts of mercury into the air when they break.
break them. Give a household 20 years to break a few and not clean them up properly, and suddenly you’ve got a major toxic problem. BRANDY: It’s becoming a really big problem and it’s more dangerous than people think it is. The God’s honest truth is, when I called Poison Control here to find out how to clean it up, they had absolutely no information at all on light bulbs. They didn’t even have the information that there was mercury in the bulbs – I actually got that information from Home Depot! I knew not to vacuum it, I remembered from a shop class, not to vacuum fluorescent bulbs because of the powders and whatever, you are supposed to clean it with a damp sponge, but this was on a rug so it wasn’t even possible. INVESTIGATE: I see the Maine authorities have recommended they shouldn’t be used in children’s rooms or over carpeted areas. BRANDY: That was one of my first comments to the newspapers, it should be a choice, it should not be mandated by government that you have to put a chemical in your child’s room. Nurseries, daycares, places where bulbs could go flying. They’re not as eco-friendly as we’d like to think. Just the fact that they’re being shipped in trucks and who knows how many cases get dropped? You’re in your local hardware store, and they’re broken on the floor, and you’re walking by unknowing that there’s mercury there, that people are just walking by and breathing in, and a lot of people don’t have a clue. Our Maine CDC (Centres for Disease Control) – Doctor Andrew Smith is the Maine CDC and also the state toxicologist – when I called him to speak to him about this matter he didn’t even know that the bulbs contained mercury. Then he started asking questions like, ‘Do some bulbs contain more mercury than others? Did you just get a weird bulb?’. I said, ‘no, I really don’t think so!’ I had a really small bulb so if it goes by size and brightness I’m assuming the larger bulbs would have more mercury.
FIRE RISK Just a few weeks ago, on April 30 this year, US truck driver Rick Jenkins found out the hard way about the safety limitations of CFL bulbs. Last year, he kitted out the family home with the latest generation of high performance CFL lights, in order to save money via their longer lifespan. Now, he’s US$165,000 worse off after one of those CFLs caught fire and burnt his house to the ground in the state of Maryland.8 Jenkins, his wife Angie and six year old daughter Haley escaped with their lives, but that was all. The CFL had been installed in a dimmer. But they don’t work in dimmers, and the light eventually caught fire. Another who suffered a similar failure was Canadian Charmain Miles of Toronto, who smelt smoke coming from the second storey of her home, and traced it to a smouldering CFL bulb. “I was horrified,” she told a Toronto TV station. “I went through every place upstairs and took out every bulb.” In Miles’ case, reported WorldNetDaily, the CFL was in a tracklighting fixture. There was no warning on the box or the bulb about track-lighting, but it turned out the CFLs could not be used in track, recessed or dimmer fixtures. Now, even in ordinary light fittings, increasing numbers of people have discovered their CFL energy-saver bulbs smouldering or on fire. But according to the experts, get used to it. That’s exactly what CFLs are supposed to do when they reach the end of their tether, burn out in a pall of acrid plastic smoke and carcinogenic fumes. “Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority will issue a warning later this week to notify users of the unexpected way compact fluorescent light bulbs expire at the end of their long lifespan,” reported Canada’s CBC TV network last year.9 “Ted Olechna, a provincial code engineer with the Mississaugabased authority, said he plans to post the warning on its website. The bulbs come to an end by charring around the base, producing smoke and emitting a bad smell. “That has scared some homeowners into calling fire departments, he said. But there have been no reports of fires resulting from fluorescent bulbs in Ontario, Olechna said. “The upcoming advisory will explain that this is the normal way for these energy-efficient bulbs, which can last up to 10,000 hours, to die.” The problem is, as the photos show, that not only is the smoke dangerous to householders, but if the glass tube cracks in the heat mercury vapour will be released as well. One Canadian technician, Doug Hembruff, has dedicated a INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 39
Jenkins, his wife Angie and six year old daughter Haley escaped with their lives, but that was all. The CFL had been installed in a dimmer. But they don’t work in dimmers, and the light eventually caught fire
blogsite10 to documenting issues with some of the CFL bulbs. It’s full of stories from customers like this one: “There was no actual flame, but it filled the globe (sealed light fixture) with very acrid smoke and then the smoke began to fill the hall. We were moving about in the hall at that particular moment and discovered the problem almost immediately. Whether the bulb will actually flame if left in a socket I don’t know. It was powerful hot in that globe when I took it out and still actively belching smoke...” Or this one: “To date three bulbs have failed and the last one overheated and burnt the plastic housing filling my bedroom with acrid smoke. The bulb did not shut down and continued to smoke until I shut 40 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
down power. The model number of the bulbs failing is EDXO23. What really spooked me about this issue was this bulb was directly over my bed. When I saw the plastic beginning to melt and start to bubble, I turned off the power. I don’t know if the bulb would have begun dripping burning plastic or not, but if it had then it would have fallen onto the bed blankets producing a possible fire hazard. Notice the bulb got hot enough to crack the glass near the melted area.” Or this one: “Thanks for the article. Just wanted to add that a Luminus 23W 2923-L02 just started flickering and belching acrid smoke at me in the last half hour. Examining the bulb closer, it was glowing orange around the base and sizzling. I unplugged it before a
fire could really take hold. The glass was melted and black goo emerged from the base. This CFL was purchased last year…and I have about 8 of these in the house in various places. Now I am nervous. I think the manufacturer is liable for selling a dangerous household item here. I am a professional engineer and appreciate the effort you have made here to increase public awareness of an obviously serious consumer problem. I am shocked (no pun intended), that this device has CSA approval.” Even well known brands like G.E. are not immune: “My lamp burned out with a loud fizzle (heard in the next room with the TV news turned on, and I have significant hearing loss) and terrible odor of burning plastic. It looks much like the photo with your article--discolored and charred around the base of one of the sets (of three) of the glass units, and the bottom third of the glass unit is darkened on the inside. There was only a bit little smoke. I figured out what had happened and immediately turned off the fixture. The bulb was very hot, but I did not want to damage the fixture, so I used kitchen hot pads to gingerly remove the bulb from the fixture. I developed a severe headache about 10 minutes after the incident and realized I needed to turn on vent fans to clear the air. I hope there will be no further repercussions from the incident. I have no idea if this unit has an “End of Life” sensor, since I don’t know what what to look for on the lamp. The lamp was used in a wall-mounted hall light fixture with an open metal sconce than is angled down towards the floor.” The problem seems to be that 90% of the world’s CFLs, including big name brands, are ultimately manufactured in China, where quality control has been somewhat of an issue across the board in recent years. Ideally, CFLs should have some kind of sensor that detects overheating and blows an internal fuse before the lamp starts to melt or smoulder. Many, however, do not. Burnouts have been reported to the Energy Safety Service in Wellington already, along with reports of acrid smoke. REDUCED LIFESPANS One of the biggest selling points for energy-saver bulbs has been the claim that they last far longer than incandescent bulbs. The
average incandescent will last about a year (1,100 hours, being 365 days @ 3 hours a night). On the other hand, CFLs are claimed to last at least 6,000 hours, and some are claimed to last up to 12,000 hours (11 years). This, claim manufacturers and the NZ Government, well and truly offsets higher cost of buying the bulbs. But a briefing paper prepared for the Australian government11 (New Zealand and Australia are implementing the switch to CFLs simultaneously with the same standards), reveals the Aussies are pitching a lifespan standard of only 2,000 hours. That’s because most if not all the CFL bulbs are manufactured in China, where production standards vary considerably and what’s on the box doesn’t necessarily equate to real performance. Indeed, if you Google the words “CFL” and “lifespan”, you’ll find the internet abuzz with dissatisfied customers. “My bedroom has outlets for 8 recessed 100W lamps across the ceiling,” writes one complainant to Yahoo Answers. “As they started burning out a few years ago, I started replacing the traditional incandescent lamps with CFLs. Now I’ve replaced two of the three new CFLs within two years. I still have three original incandescent lamps that are several years older that are still working on the same circuit. “Bottom line – are CFLs just another gimmick to sell a product many times more expensive than the commodity product using claims that are patently untrue? Does anyone have real figures on how long CFLs last, how much energy they really consume, and whether it makes economic sense to anyone other than the seller? Has there been any legal action to get more truth into the advertising?”
ne of the biggest boasters on the New Zealand market is Ecobulb, which claims on its website that its CFLS can “last 10-15 times longer than standard incandescent or halogen lamps”. That’s a claimed lifespan of up to 15 years as far as the consumer is concerned. But Ecobulb hasn’t put its money where its mouth is, and offers only a two year warranty. Philips NZ, on the other hand, is offering a warranty of four years based on 4.5 hours use per day, meaning they guarantee their lamps to burn at least 6,500 hours or your money back. Osram NZ was unavailable at press time, but Osram’s global website claims a lifespan of up to ten years and a warranty of five years. An Osram Australia spokesman told Investigate that the company would honour the pledges on its global website, provided it was for the same basic lightbulb model. Lighting Direct sells its own imported brand of CFL, Envirolux, with a claimed lifespan of 8,000 hours, or seven years. However, it is only prepared to offer a 12 month warranty. Lighting Plus stores sell the G.E. lights, made by the US giant General Electric. Surprisingly, while the G.E. lamps in the US carry a five year consumer warranty, G.E. Australasia is refusing to offer any warranty at all on the lights sold downunder, despite the claims on the box of an 8,000 hour life (seven years). Investigate asked the Ministry of Consumer Affairs whether the public would have any protection under the Consumer Guarantees Act if a CFL bulb blew outside of the stated warranty period. The Ministry told us: “Manufacturers have obligations under the CGA, independent of any warranty they may choose to give. Of relevance to your enquiry, is the guarantee under the CGA that goods must be of acceptable quality, meaning they must be: INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 41
• fit for purpose • acceptable in appearance and finish • free from minor defects • safe • durable. “The test is what a reasonable person would consider acceptable quality, given the nature of the good, the price paid, any representations made on or about the good and all other relevant circumstances. “Manufacturers cannot contract out of the above quality guarantee – durability under the CGA is not affected, or limited by any warranty period a manufacturer specifies.” In other words, keep the receipt if you buy a CFL, put it in a special place and be ready to wave it if you don’t get at least five years’ normal usage out of your bulb. Part of the problem, it turns out, is that the “lifespan” of a CFL bulb has been artificially measured. International standards currently require a manufacturer to run the bulb in three hour cycles in the lab, only switching it on at the beginning and off at the end. In other words, the bulb burns for three hours straight with no interference. In the real world, things are very different. Many householders, particularly in these energy-conscious times, switch on and off lights frequently as they enter and leave rooms. Many modern CFLs are not built to withstand short switching cycles (although Ecobulb claims theirs are). One recent study shows the lifespan of
bought them from & then call the EPA. Pay back is hell!” Another key to the short lifespans of many CFLs is that, despite what they promise on the box, they are not ideal for all light fittings, including some overhead lights. Unlike a normal bulb, which screws into the ceiling and hangs down, CFL lights actually work best (and are lab tested this way) pointing up, not down. That’s because the “ballast”, the unit at the base of the light, contains complex electronic components that normal light bulbs don’t have. When CFLs hang down, particularly the 100 watt equivalents or greater, the heat generated in the bulb travels back up to the base and slowly fries the electronics, bringing on early failure and/or physical burnout. Unfortunately for homeowners, most basic light fittings involve a lamp hanging from the ceiling, rather than based on the floor pointing up. Recessed ceiling lights, such as those common in many newer kiwi homes, may focus even more heat on the base of the CFLs. As a result, there’s no guarantee householders will get anywhere near five to ten years’ life out of a CFL in the home, which may be why manufacturers are reluctant to back up the hype with a warranty. “It has been my experience that CFLs fail prematurely due to heat build-up,” wrote one US blogger. “I noticed that I had a high failure rate in certain fixtures in my home, but not others. Generally speaking, I had a high failure rate in fixtures that place the CFL's electronics above the fluorescent tube, and in those that trap heat inside. After correcting my "fixture" issue, my CFLs tend not to burn out.”
“Ideally, CFLs should have some kind of sensor that detects overheating and blows an internal fuse before the lamp starts to melt or smoulder. Many, however, do not” a CFL can be shortened by a massive 85% under normal domestic household use conditions. In other words, if the lab lifespan was 2,000 hours, you might get only 300 hours (four months) out of that CFL if you were unlucky. A 6,000 hour bulb (five years) would give you only 12 months or so of light before dying unceremoniously. The Australian Government, which is jointly introducing CFLs with NZ, acknowledges the problem. “Frequent switching on and off will shorten the life of most CFLs. However, as an adjunct to the incandescent phase-out initiative, the Australian Government will introduce MEPS for CFLs that will include a basic standard for switching. This standard requires over 1000 switching cycles per 6000 hours of lamp life.” Before you get excited, however, that’s a standard that only allows one switching cycle (on/off) during a six hour stretch. Back on Yahoo Answers, one respondent also targeted the apparently short lifespan of CFLs: “I'm not sure about how long CFL lifespan is, either, but I have observed the same phenomenon at my house. I have noticed that the bulbs which are in a protected fixture (such as an outdoor lamp) last far longer than ones on my ceiling. All my ceiling fixtures have one CFL and one incandescent bulb (so the fixture lights quickly), and invariably the CFL burns out faster.” “I've had the same experience,” remarked another, “some whack out in less than a year & others keep going.... take the burnt out ones & break them in the parking lot of the store at which you 42 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
That’s great for countries where CFL use is not compulsory, and householders can pick and choose the best locations for CFLs. But where ordinary bulbs are being banned, and CFLs are not suitable replacements, homeowners have a massive problem. Nor do the CFLs have the record for longevity. The oldest working incandescent light bulb in the world is still burning in a Los Angeles firestation. It was put into service in 1901, making it 107 years old this year. The light burns continuously, which lessens the stresses of switching. Even so, the record books disclose another incandescent bulb in the fire station at Magnum, Oklahoma, which has been burning for 82 years under normal use (it gets switched on and off). CFL technology, on the other hand, shows the fluorescents start to lose power. Under the new standards being proposed for New Zealand lights next year, CFL bulbs will be required to still burn at 80% of their original brilliance once they reach 40% of their claimed lifespan. Overseas tests have revealed however that the CFLs can quite quickly slide after that, dropping to just 66% of their original brightness once they’re past the halfway mark. So even if the CFL light actually lasts as long as the promise on the packet, by the time it reaches the end it is unlikely to be shedding anywhere near the amount of light it did when new. Homeowners who need working lights in their houses may still have to buy new CFLs long before the claimed end of life, simply to maintain brightness levels. While the NZ Government-approved “Ecobulb” admits on its
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 43
WHAT TO DO IF IT BREAKS?
THE LATEST ADVICE FROM CALIFORNIA’S DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL Fluorescent lights are energy efficient and help reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. These lights are able to accomplish this because they contain small amounts of mercury. Mercury is a natural element that has many uses. However, mercury is a powerful neurotoxin and causes a variety of adverse health effects due to exposure. Those who are at most risk from mercury exposure are pregnant women and developing children. The leading consensus from environmental organizations and government is that although fluorescents should be handled with care and managed properly to avoid breakage, they are still recommended for business and residential use due to their many benefits. That being said, people should handle these products with care and common sense – much like you would when driving to avoid crashing your car. By taking simple steps to prevent breaking fluorescent lights, consumers can avoid exposure to mercury. Due to the possibility of mercury vapor being retained in carpets, you may want to consider using and handling fluorescent lights only in areas above hard flooring as well as areas with lamps that are not easily knocked over by children or animals. The following guidelines are based on recommendations from the U.S. EPA and the recent study conducted by the state of Maine for cleaning up after a CFL or fluorescent tube breaks. Please note that in California, these lights are not allowed in the trash and must be managed as Universal Wastes. It should also be mentioned that if you break a CFL that no longer works or has been used for a while, as opposed to a new CFL, the amount of mercury vapor released during a break is likely to be significantly less. This is because much of the mercury will be bound to the glass rather than released as vapor. When a fluorescent light breaks please refer to the following guidelines: • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the area for at least 15 minutes. 44 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
• Turn off your AC/Fan/Heater so as not to circulate any mercury vapor • Young children and pregnant women should leave the area during cleanup. • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as a dust mask and gloves to keep bulb dust and glass from being inhaled or contacting your skin. • Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container. • Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. It is recommended that you use two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or one of the many commercial mercury spill kits available. • Put all material into a sealed container. Pat the area with the sticky side of duct, packing or masking tape. Wipe the area with a damp cloth. • Put all waste and materials used to clean up the bulb in a secure closed container and label it "Universal Waste – broken lamp". • Take the container for recycling to the household hazardous waste facility (HHW) nearest you. • If the bulb breaks on carpet, the State of Maine’s report suggests removing the area of carpet that has been contaminated as a precaution. If this is not feasible, it is recommended that you ventilate the area for several hours as well as during the process of vacuuming because vacuuming can circulate the vapor. If you vacuum, make sure to dispose of the bag along with the broken CFL at your local HHW. You should also ventilate the room during the next few times you vacuum the area. • To read the entire study that the state of Maine did on handling broken CFLs visit http://maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/ cflreport.htm (SOURCE: California Department of Toxic Substances Control, July 2008 http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/UniversalWaste/ Fluorescent_Lights.cfm )
website that “the light of an Ecobulb does decrease over its life,” the company tries to assert that “this rate of decrease is less than an ordinary bulb.” Unless the Chinese manufactured Ecobulbs have overcome the technical issues plaguing CFLs generally, the bold claim is not true, as EECA consultant David Cogan’s report notes, “the degradation of light output [in an ordinary bulb] is not so severe as for a CFL”. Then there’s the cost associated with a short lifespan. Figures from a Dutch study in 2001 suggest a CFL light bulb requires 1.7kW of energy to manufacture, compared with only 0.3kW to make an ordinary incandescent bulb. So a CFL is already nearly six times more expensive in turns of energy consumption to make. Nor did the study take account of the energy and carbon footprint generated by mining to obtain the rare earth phosphors necessary for fluorescent tubes. And what about the cost of recycling the CFL lights? Like New Zealand and Australia, the Labour Government in Britain is also pushing to ban ordinary light bulbs in favour of CFLs. Recognising the toxic waste problem, Britain is examining recycling schemes. The cost, however, is prohibitive. One environmental agency report suggests it could cost US$1,300 to recycle one wheelie-bin full of CFL light bulbs. It’s a cost that will ultimately fall on ratepayers.12 POWER DISRUPTIONS As if all of the above were not enough, briefing papers prepared for the New Zealand Government reveal a massive technical hitch that does not appear to have an easy solution. The problem centres around what is known as “harmonic distortion”. Because of the way fluorescent lights operate – igniting a gas (rather than heating up a wire as electricity passes through as conventional bulbs do) – the new lamps place an uneven load on the electricity grid, setting up harmonic distortions in the power lines and power stations. New Zealand’s already creaking national grid is designed to tolerate total harmonic distortions (THD) of no more than 5%, but a 2006 study by Parsons Brinckerhoff Associates for the Electricity Commission warns that the widespread introduction of CFL lights could collapse the grid, causing power cuts and equipment failures. The cheapest CFLs on the NZ market have what is called a “nominal power factor” (NPF) rating. They certainly deliver energy savings to consumers, and they can even outperform more expensive bulbs in other areas. But they’re a power company’s nightmare. “The high harmonic currents inherent in nominal power factor bulbs pose a major primary risk to power distribution companies and system users in terms of a negative effect on power quality,” PB Associates have advised the Electricity Commission. “A New Zealand study,” they continue, “aimed to estimate how many CFLs per household would cause the THD limit of 5% to be reached. The study results indicated that the THD…reached 5% at a load of…14 lamps per household.” In other words, making CFLs the mainstay in every house could certainly push New Zealand’s national grid to its limits. PB Associates cited a 1992 study by Lincoln University which was looking to install 2,500 CFL bulbs on campus, and wanted to measure the harmonic impact. “A number much less than the proposed number of CFLs would
push the THD well above the 5% limit prescribed in the NZ Standard.” The report detailed the case of a road lighting scheme using one megawatt of total lighting power. Despite all the fluorescent lamps meeting European harmonic standards, “the harmonic currents were so high that the lamps could only be run at 70% full power without overheating the transformer.” “Harmonics can cause a variety of network problems – transformer and cable overheating (hence lowering lifespan), motor overheating, premature ageing of capacitors, interference with telecoms systems, possible disturbances in ripple control systems (hot water).” Yes, the prospect of cold showers once all households are converted to CFLs next year is being taken as a risk factor by electricity authorities, partly because NZ’s ripple control technology is older and more likely to suffer stress from harmonic interference from lightbulbs. “Power quality problems caused by CFLs dispersed throughout residences will be more difficult to identity and tackle,” warns the PB Associates study, “and will raise a debate about who will pay for the expensive compensation equipment.” There is a partial solution. Although nominal power factor bulbs cause the most harmonic distortion, high power factor (HPF) bulbs cause less, but they are more expensive for consumers. PB Associates is recommending HPF as the emerging standard for New Zealand, but admits “There are concerns that the HPF bulb has a higher probability of failure than the NPF bulb due to the increased number of electronic components (in the ballast at the base) exposed to heating effects.” Furthermore, the report to the government warns that those heating effects on HPF lamp ballasts may substantially degrade the power factor anyway, thereby rapidly increasing harmonic INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 45
distortion in the power grid as the bulbs age. “No conclusive evidence yet exists in the public domain that clearly illustrates the ageing effects of different types of electronic ballasts,” warns the report. In other words, the political decision to make CFLs compulsory from next year has been taken despite scientists not yet having enough evidence to assess the likely risks to households and the power grid. The PB Associates report acknowledges that even with the low penetration of CFLs so far, “there have been some documented cases of CFL use and related power quality implications.” The study notes in passing that “over the years, the Benmore transformers have been unreliable and problematic,” but adds that engineers have so far “not proven” what this has been caused by. In the US, they’re already starting to notice the impact of kitting out entire homes with CFLs. One blogger last December13 recounted how a workmate had a problem with the gas heating system at home: “The first thing the repair man asked him was if he had recently replaced any bulbs with a CFL bulb. He told him that in the last week since it had gotten really cold he had received several calls that people’s furnaces were not working. He had found in 6 cases that there was a new CFL bulb installed in the home that was the problem.”
ccording to another briefing paper prepared for the New Zealand Government, interference with other appliances is a common side effect of CFL bulbs, and the more bulbs you have, the greater the risk. “CFLs with electronic ballasts…also interfere with wireless devices and, in New Zealand, ripple control systems (hot water). Harmonics may also interfere with or even damage other equipment, especially electronic appliances,” consultant David Cogan warned in his paper.14 “There have been cases of a CFL mimicking an infra-red remote control and causing unwanted changes to other appliances, such as changing channels on a television. This is probably related to poor harmonic performance, but is still under investigation.” The interference can run from crashing wireless networks, to increased static noise on radios, televisions and the like. In the US, engineers refer to the output of CFLs as “dirty electricity”. The purpose of the briefing papers has been to identify likely trouble spots and see if they can be worked through. While the standards eventually imposed early next year are likely to be strong, there’s no guarantee they’ll prevent some of these problems emerging. There are also grumblings within the industry, with some expressing the belief that Energy Mad, the company behind Ecobulbs, managed to get the front-running on the introduction of CFLs because one of its top executives, the coincidentally-named Peter Watt, had previously worked for the Government helping to draw up the standards and guidelines for the Electricity Commission on CFLs. In fact, the documents show that while Watt worked for the Electricity Commission he was a key figure in the tender process15 that ultimately ended with Energy Mad being named as preferred supplier of CFLs for next year’s compulsory roll out. For the sake of avoiding doubt, Investigate is not suggesting Watt has misused his position in any way, but the magazine does believe that it isn’t a good look for a government official administering a tender pro46 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
cess to suddenly end up working for the company that wins the tender. Energy Mad, whose executive team also includes a Green Party candidate at the last election, has made large amounts of money by getting the Electricity Commission and other government agencies to subsidise the sale of a million of their CFL bulbs to the public. Having produced a bulb that just happens to almost exactly fit the standards the Government has laid out so far, Energy Mad also boasts on its website about getting a 15 month head start on its rivals: “Other light bulb manufacturers have attempted to develop high power factor CFLs…it is likely that they will eventually produce viable high power factor CFLs to compete against the EcobulbTM. However, the EcobulbTM then has a 15 month first mover advantage.” Late as this issue was going to press, the lighting industry, in the form of Lighting Council CEO Richard Ponting, questioned the significance of the mercury readouts taken by the Maine scientists: “We note from the detailed study undertaken in Maine of Mercury Vapour densities, that the results are measured in nanograms/m3. All the internationally accepted guides to hand set the advisory thresholds in micrograms/m3, and you will appreciate the large factors involved between these two scales. The concentration values quoted in the study are therefore well below those widely regarded as a health hazard. In fact the report indicates that even the authors themselves are not sure if the values obtained actually do represent health hazards. “The guides referred to above include advisories from NEWMOA, an organisation of which the State of Maine is a member, the USEPA and the World Health Organisation. We are therefore confident that based on literature available at present, the operation of, or even the very occasional breakage of, a CFL will not expose the user to undue levels of mercury provided sensible precautions are taken with its disposal.” Unfortunately, the Lighting Council’s counter-argument was based on a serious misunderstanding of the Maine study figures. Firstly, we explained to them, ng/m3 is the usual measurement system for elemental mercury in the air. Micrograms are more commonly used for blood and urine tests. It actually doesn’t matter, however, as both are units of measurement. You will find the EPA RfC limit for daily ongoing exposure to mercury is 0.3 micrograms per m3 (using the Lighting Council’s preferred reference framework), which is expressed by the EPA as 300 nanograms/m3. The figures mean the same in terms of the real quantity involved. The 5mg (milligrams) of mercury in a bulb is 5 million nanograms, or expressed in another way: five thousand micrograms. More than enough to do damage. Investigate referred the Lighting Council to a recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)16 , which – contrary to Ponting’s belief – measures hazard levels in nanograms as well. The report details how a Kentucky High School became the centre of a HazChem alert after a student was found playing with mercury in the school cafeteria. The CDC reported mercury vapour samples in the air similar to those caused by a broken CFL light bulb, and as a result the school was closed while toxic waste teams were brought in to clean it up. US EPA rules specify that if a non-residential site has an ambient mercury vapour level exceeding 3000 ng/m3 (or three micrograms per m3), then the site is deemed “unrecoverable” according to the
The political decision to make CFLs compulsory from next year has been taken despite scientists not yet having enough evidence to assess the likely risks to households and the power grid
CDC report and shut down permanently. The limit for homes is even lower: 1000 ng/m3, because of the higher lengths of time people spend in a home. Readers will recall that three months after Brandy Bridges house was cleaned, it was still recording ambient mercury of nearly 2,000 ng/m3 – which is why the carpet had to be removed and destroyed. The CDC report says blood and urine samples were collected from anyone “who spent one hour or more in rooms or vehicles during periods in which those places were known to be contaminated.” And how contaminated were the rooms and vehicles? “The school cafeteria contained mercury levels ranging from 5,280 ng/m3 to 36,600 ng/m3. The school was closed by the school superintendent to limit the potential for exposure of children and to facilitate cleaning of the cafeteria. After 2 days of cleanup, heating, and venting, EPA deemed the school safe for students to return. “Approximately 15 school buses were also tested and/or cleaned. The family’s mobile home and possessions were deemed unrecoverable (ambient mercury was >50,000 ng/m3 at outset of investigation and later reduced to 11,550 ng/m3) and were removed and destroyed. The family van (14,950 ng/m3 reduced to 1,285 ng/m3)
and an additional vehicle (>50,000 ng/m3 reduced to 174 ng/m3) were eventually cleaned and returned to the family. However, a third vehicle (41,275 ng/m3 reduced to 36,610 ng/m3), belonging to the family of a friend of the student, was determined unrecoverable and removed by EPA.” Now compare those figures with the up to 100,000 ng/m3 of mercury leaking from one broken CFL bulb in a bedroom, and ask yourself the obvious question: is the lighting industry in denial? If it is good enough for a school cafeteria to get the full EPA HazChem emergency response team because of contamination measuring 36,000 ng/m3, why is an even higher contamination of a private house treated with a shrug of the shoulders by NZ health officials? And what of the fate of the student who’d been bringing the mercury to the Kentucky school, and his family? The CDC report contains more damning information. “Blood concentrations were obtained for the student and seven family members who were living in the mobile home. Blood mercury levels ranged from 32 µg/L to 72 µg/L (normal: 0--10 µg/L). The 24-hour urine mercury concentrations obtained from seven of these patients ranged from 28 µg/L to 496 µg/L (normal: 0-19 µg/L) (4). The student had the highest mercury levels for both INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 47
blood and urine (i.e., 72 µg/L blood and 496 µg/L for initial urine concentration). Urine mercury concentrations were directly associated with amount of time spent in the mobile home. Three of the children, including the student, lived in the contaminated home for 15 months and had urinary concentrations ranging from 193 µg/L to 496 µg/L, whereas three of the children who lived in the home for only 10 weeks had urinary concentrations ranging from 28 µg/L to 68 µg/L. The additional family member, a woman who had not been in the mobile home since June 2004, had a urine mercury concentration of 241 µg/L. “Several of the children living in the mobile home experienced itchy rashes and headaches. In late 2003, one girl aged 13 years residing in the mobile home had experienced several months of illness consistent with mercury exposure (e.g., unexplained tachycardia, hypertension, desquamation of soles and palms, rashes, diaphoresis, muscle pain, insomnia, vomiting, and behavioral and psychiatric changes). She was hospitalized for approximately 30 days.” In a different mercury contamination crisis from 2006, another major federal US agency17 reviewed the impact of exposure to the neurotoxin, given that inhalation is the most dangerous form of exposure: “Inhalation of high levels of elemental mercury can cause permanent neurological damage and kidney impairment. The MDCH and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recommends that breathing zone mercury levels not exceed 1,000 ng/m3 for long term exposures as would be likely in a residence, nursing home or other place where people spend a large amount of time. They recommend levels not exceed 3,000 ng/m3 in non-residential settings where nobody spends more than a workday and mercury is not usually handled. This recommended level is based on both animal studies and human epidemiology studies that describe the health effects of inhalation of mercurycontaminated air. Workers who were exposed to mercury vapors in an occupational setting exhibited hand tremors, increases in memory disturbances, and slight subjective and objective evidence of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. “Children exposed to similar amounts of mercury vapor as adults may receive larger doses because of greater lung surface area relative to their body weight. Their lower body weight and higher intake rate can result in a greater dose of mercury per unit of body weight. Children tend to be shorter in stature than adults, thus their breathing zone is nearer the floor where higher mercury levels are typically found. Children also engage in activities such as crawling and rolling around on the floor. Given that mercury affects the nervous system and that the neuropathways of children (<15 years old) are still developing, children can sustain permanent damage if the mercury exposure reaches toxic levels during critical growth periods. “Children who inhale significant amounts of metallic mercury vapors may develop a disorder known as acrodynia, or “pinks disease.” The symptoms of this disorder include severe leg cramps; irritability; and abnormal redness of the skin, followed by peeling of the hands, nose, and soles of the feet. Itching, swelling, fever, fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, excessive salivation or sweating, rashes, fretfulness, sleeplessness, and /or weakness may also be present. This disorder may occur, in some cases, when exposure lasts for only a few days.” [Investigate’s emphasis] The Lighting Council’s Richard Ponting told Investigate his members have faith that international standards will protect the public: 48 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
“The LCNZ membership accounts for approximately 80% of the CFLs imported into New Zealand. We are therefore confident that the majority of CFLs entering the country are manufactured to specifications widely accepted as in accordance with good international practice in all respects including the maximum mercury content. They would also be RoHS compliant or of similar quality if imported from the US.” Except, the Maine study involved bulbs manufactured to current US standards. Based on the very latest scientific data, unless those standards include manufacturing an unbreakable light bulb, they’re probably not worth the paper they’re written on. New Zealand’s new CFL standards will be equally worthless. Regardless of the power play over CFLs, there is some light at the end of the tube for householders. Firstly, National leader John Key has signaled that compulsion is not part of National’s vocabulary, and that he’s also concerned about reported safety issues. Key told Investigate magazine a National Government will revisit the “compulsory” rollout of CFL bulbs next year, and that it could well be changed. “Our main view from the National Party is why should it be a blanket ban? We should encourage people to have them, but not necessarily a blanket ban.” Additionally, for people who want to save power but don’t want to risk mercury poisoning in the home, high efficiency halogens are coming on the market to replace incandescent bulbs. Given that two scientific studies now warn of the risks of mercury poisoning in the home from CFLs, the smart money in lighting says it’s a good time to buy shares in a halogen bulb manufacturer. Endnotes 1. “Technical specifications for compact fluorescent lamps with integral ballast”, report to EECA by David Cogan BSc, CEng, MIEE, MIPENZ, MIESANZ, APEC Energy Efficiency Standards Co-ordinator 2. http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/waste/disposal-householdlamps-mar07/disposal-household-lamps-mar07.html 3. http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/index.htm 4. Environmental Research, 60:320-327, 1993 5. http://www.chem-tox.com/pregnancy/mercury.htm 6. http://www.hnzc.co.nz/hnzc/web/about-us/news/top-stories/mercury-in-energy-efficient-light-bulbs.htm 7. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/fluorescents.cfm 8. http://www.times-news.com/local/local_story_121093606.html 9. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2007/03/21/florescentbulbs.html 10. http://www.execulink.com/~impact/fluorescent_lights.htm 11. “Phaseout of inefficient incandescent lighting”, prepared by Melanie Slade, director, Lighting & Equipment Energy Efficiency Unit, Australian Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2008 12. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59554 13. http://kittytigerskitchen.blogspot.com/2007/12/cfl-bulbs-are-notperfect.html 14. “Technical specifications for compact fluorescent lamps with integral ballast”, report to EECA by David Cogan BSc, CEng, MIEE, MIPENZ, MIESANZ, APEC Energy Efficiency Standards Co-ordinator 15. http://www.electricitycommission.govt.nz/pdfs/opdev/elec-efficiency/CFL/CFL-conference-Dec06.pdf 16. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5432a2. htm 17. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/WorldMedMercurySiteWorld MedMercurySite.pdf n
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the revolution The Hidden Networks Behind the “Urewera 17” Veteran blogger and revolutionarywatcher TREVOR LOUDON unveils the most detailed analysis yet published of the group behind last year’s “terror raids”, and warns of what may be yet to come
hen heavily-armed police arrested 17 people on October 15th 2007, accusing them of participating in “quasi-military” training camps in the Urewera mountains, most New Zealanders were shocked. When stories began to circulate of molotov cocktails, IRA and Al Qa’ida manuals, automatic weapons and sniper’s rifles, talk of political assassinations and of bombing campaigns – most found it too hard to believe. All of those arrested have since maintained silence or protested their innocence. Activists such as John Minto, Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos quickly jumped to defend the “Urewera 17” as they soon became known. Every shocking charge was met with a counter claim, or was ignored. Every sinister explanation of the arrestees activities was met with talk of “survival training” or camps for “at risk” youth. When the police were denied permission by the Attorney General to press charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, many claimed vindication. The police had over-reacted. A few people playing soldiers up in the Bay of Plenty backblocks had been blown up out of all proportion. Now, the 17, (plus three more arrested since) face only firearms charges. Public attention has moved onto more pressing matters like the rising cost of fuel and the upcoming General Election. Several questions remain unanswered however. Who were these people and what were they actually doing with illegal weapons 50 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
up in the Ureweras? Why were Maori activists (many with extensive criminal records and gang connections) allegedly playing wargames with young urban, mainly pakeha “peace” and environmental activists? Who brought them together? What was their common purpose?
Origins of the “Urewera 17”
Those arrested fell into two main overlapping groups. The larger group consisted of mainly Maori militants with family, friendship or activist ties to Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. A smaller group consisted of mainly pakeha activists involved in the ‘peace,’ animal rights and anarchist movements. Most were
PHOTOGRAPHY: One News/ Ian Wishart (file photos of street protests involving anarchist movement)/ NZPA/ Archival material
involved with several overlapping groups including Peace Action Wellington, the Save Happy Valley Coalition, the Wellingtonbased Wildcat Anarchist Collective and the anarchist news’ website Indymedia. It has long been known that Tame Iti was trying to build support for a Tuhoe homeland and was very well connected internationally. The anarchist movement also has strong international ties and has long been supportive of “indigenous rights”. Far from being a gathering of disaffected Kiwi malcontents, my research shows that the “Urewera 17” were connected to a worldwide anticapitalist movement linked to some of the most militant and violent activists on the planet.
The alliance of Tame Iti’s Tuhoe nationalists with a rag tag bunch of urban anarchists has its origins in an international coalition of radical organizations called the PGA. This is no golf club: the acronym stands for Peoples Global Action, which is itself descended from the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico. This armed protest against the North American Free Trade Act, ended in the death of 150 people and the formation of a semi-autonomous Zapatista state in the isolated highlands of southern Mexico. The Zapatista worldview, blends Maoism, anarchism and “indigenism” into “a new revolutionary philosophy for the 21st century.” This “philosophy” is demonstrated in the kidnappings and killings still carried out sporadically by Zapatista thugs. In 1996 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 51
the Zapatista rebels, after reaching stalemate with the Mexican government, held an “encuentro” of invited radical organizations from around the world – six thousand revolutionaries, anarchists and indigenous activists from around the globe pow-wowed and schemed for several days in the southern Mexican jungle. This “encuentro” and subsequent meetings brought together some of the planets most militant grass roots organizations and activists. They included the Landless Movement of Brazilian Peasants (MST), an appendage of the crypto-communist Workers Party of Brazil; the Karnataka State Farmers Union from India, infamous for burning fields of genetically modified crops and Libyan-rained French activist and anti-McDonalds campaigner, José Bové.; It was effectively the incubator of the global “Anticapitalist” movement that has grown exponentially over the last decade. The next step began with the formation in Geneva in February 1998 of the organization Peoples Global Action, with delegates from 300 movements from more than 70 countries. According to the PGA website, the “First Conference of the Peoples’ Global Action against ‘Free’ Trade and the WTO,” held in Geneva, February 1998, laid down “the definitive basis of the Peoples’ Global Action.” Its objectives are discussing and amending the manifesto of the PGA, coordinating decentralised protest actions all over the world during the Ministerial Conference of the WTO in May, promoting the creation of local, national, regional and topic-based platforms, and setting up the basis of an information and press network to give more international projection to the work of peoples’ movements.” The conference was convened by a committee comprising: • Foundation for Independent Analysis / Foundation for an Independent Aotearoa, New Zealand • Frente Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (FZLN), Mexico • Indigenous Women's Network, North America and the Pacific • Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS), India • Mama 86, Ukraine • Movimento Sem Terra (MST), Brazil • Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria • Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), Philippines • Central Sandinista de Trabajadores (CST), Nicaragua • Play Fair Europe! (PFE!), Europe
Note the prominent role played by a tiny Maori organisation, Foundation for an Independent Aotearoa and the presence of the KMP (a well known front for the Maoist oriented Communist Party of the Philippines), the Mexican Zapatistas and the Cubanaligned Sandinistas, pinup boys for a whole’ generation of yesteryears’ socialists, including Prime Minister Helen Clark While the followers of PGA are mostly anarchists or Zapatista supporters, they have always co-operated with Marxist-Leninist organisations. Some former intelligence professionals I have discussed this subject with are adamant that Cuba has been the main funder and covert director of this movement. Certainly the New Zealand section of the movement has been linked to Cuba in recent times. After its foundation in 1998, PGA began a series of mass demonstrations and violent attacks on global financial institutions. The first was the famous "Battle in Seattle" protests against the third WTO summit in Seattle in November 1999. Next came the huge protests against the IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague and the G8 meeting in Genoa in 2000. PGA affiliates have led violent actions against virtually every major international financial meeting since. 52 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
By 2000, the New Zealand component of PGA, Foundation for an Independent Aotearoa, had been succeeded by Aotearoa Educators, a small organisation dedicated to training a new generation of Maori activists. Members of Aotearoa Educators took part in the 2000 PGA convergence in Prague and also in the subsequent anti-World Bank/International Monetary Fund protests. At the time, New Zealand was working towards a free trade deal with Singapore. This irked the Maori activists then in Prague, prompting them to threaten "Prague-style protests to hit Aotearoa if Singapore deal continues”, said South Pacific Aotearoa Educators convenor, Teanau Tuiono.”The fight against globalisation and neoliberalism is the continuing struggle against colonisation, and like our ancestors before us we will resist!" Aotearoa Educators kept up their international connections by participating in the 3rd Global Conference of PGA in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in September 2001. Locally the group were actively networking with Maori radical groups and building the ties to the anarchist movement that were revealed so explosively in October last year.
Formation of New Zealand PGA
Aotearoa Educators and the tiny New Zealand anarchist community both drew inspiration from the Mexican Zapatistas. Both supported Maori “self-determination”, so it was logical they should eventually work together. Wellington anarchists mainly worked through the Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation (CEC). Aotearoa Educators and CEC met in Wellington in March 2001 to plan the New Zealand branch of People’s Global Action. According to the anarchist ‘zine Thrall, A diverse range of activists attended, representing Tino Rangatiratanga, animal rights, anarchism, socialism, trade unionism, and the peace movement, to name but a few… It was explained that the PGA is not an organisation, and so PGA Aotearoa would not be involved in recruiting members and swallowing them into some broad activist bureaucracy... It would also put us in contact and in sync with the anti-globalisation movement around the planet. Setting up a PGA Aotearoa may take a lot of energy, so we agreed that Wellington based groups would come together and work on global resistance for May Day as a first step towards working together under a PGA umbrella.
In November 2002 members of Aotearoa Educators and CEC again met in Wellington to firm up plans for the New Zealand branch of PGA. Thrall again: In Aotearoa PGA was initially picked up by indigenous Tino Rangatiratanga collectives, firstly with Foundation for an Independent Aotearoa in 1998 culminating in the indigenous Hikoi against the MAI, (Multilateral Agreement on Investment -and then in 2000 when [AE!] Aotearoa Educators took up the kaupapa. Non-indigenous involvement in PGA, in Aotearoa, began when the Wellington CEC independently and autonomous of the Tino Rangatiratanga movement, picked up the PGA callout for May day and organised the first Carnival against Capitalism in 2000. The Aotearoa People’s Global Action Convergence was held at Victoria University, Wellington and was hosted by Te Mana Akonga (the federation of Maori student organisations) Ngai Tauira (the Victoria University Maori student’s organisation, Wellington Indymedia (anarchist news site), Aotearoa Educators, Anti-Bypass Action and the Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation.
The gathering discussed the hallmarks of PGA, which the magazine described as:
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 53
1. A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation; 2. We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds… 3. A confrontational attitude…; 4. A call to direct action and civil disobedience…; 5. An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.
According to the New York based pro-Zapatista blog Zapagringo of 15th November 2007: A month ago, under New Zealand’s 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act, over 300 police raided houses across the country seeking up to 60 activists in Aotearoa’s Tino Rangatiratanga, peace and environmental movements. Among the 17 people arrested in the sweeps were some of these same founding PGA members, along with current Zapatista solidarity activists.
So they were. Several of those arrested or questioned by police in the October 15th 2007 anti terror raids were associated with PGA New Zealand, including Valerie Morse, Emily Bailey and Tim/Ira Bailey – the latter two, as late as 2005. The Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation dissolved around this conference with most of its activists moving into the already formed Wildcat Anarchist Collective. Wildcat has long been based at 128 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro, Wellington – the house famously raided by police during the October 15th 2007 anti-terror raids. Of the “Urewera 17” arrestees, Emily Bailey, Rongomai/Simon Bailey, Tim/Ira Bailey, Valerie Morse, Marama Mayrick and Urs Signer, either had lived at, or were associated with 128 Abel Smith Street. Auckland “Urewera 17” arrestee and anarchist militant, Omar Hamed also has close ties to the 128 Abel Smith Street set.
The Zapatista Connection
Some of the “Urewera 17” arrestees are known to have visited Mexico and the Zapatistas. Marama Mayrick and Emily Bailey visited the Zapatistas in Oventic, Chiapas, probably in 2005, during the making of their radical film Kotahi Ao. Shortly after the raids, Wellington journalist and “Urewera 17” support activist, Julie Webb-Pullman noted on pro-Zapatista website Narco News Bulletin; Two peace activists compas from the Wellington Zapatista Support Committee are amongst these supposed “terrorists” – both of whom have been active in Oaxaca and Chiapas in the last year supporting the struggles in Mexico, and fundraising in New Zealand for health services for Zapatista communities.
Tim/Ira Bailey visited the Zapatistas in 2006, with Save Happy Valley Coalition activist Jen Bell and Julie Webb-Pullman. All were members of the 128 Abel Smith Street based Wellington Zapatista Support Group. The involvement of Webb-Pullman. a leading campaigner and propagandist for the “Urewera 17” is interesting. Far from being the independent journalist she likes to portray herself as, WebbPullman is a creature of the far left. She is a fawning admirer of Castro’s Cuba and a great friend of Mexico’s anarchists and Zapatista rebels. In the early ‘00s Webb – worked with the Committee in Solidarity with TV3 Latin America and the Caribbean, in Brisbane. Images courtesy This was a front for Australia’s largest Marxist-Leninist organi54 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
sation, the Democratic Socialist Party, an organization in which Green Party co leader Russel Norman held membership for several years. By 2004 Webb-Pullman was back in New Zealand using Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade money to send New Zealand films to Cuba. Webb-Pullman spent much of 2005 in Havana, where she supported herself by editing and writing for Prensa Latinathe Cuban state news agency. In 2006 Webb-Pullman spent her time flitting between Cuba and Mexico. Much of her time in Mexico was spent in the southern state of Oaxa covering the anarchist inspired rioting that resulted in several deaths. At the beginning of January 2007 Webb-Pullman attended a several thousand strong Zapatista gathering or “encuentro” in Oventik, Chiapas. In August 2007 she covered the Second Zapatista Intergalactica-a huge international gathering of anarchists and indigenous revolutionaries-addressed by Zapatista leader, Subcomandante Marcos.
The Cuban Connection
Julie Webb-Pullman has close ties to the recently appointed Cuban ambassador to New Zealand Senor Robaina Garcia, through her membership of the Latin American Solidarity Committee. WebbPullman is a senior member of the group which is led by senior Wellington Green Party official, Paul Bruce. Robaina, once the Cuban ambassador to China, was from 2004 until coming to Wellington, director of the Centre of Asia and Oceania Studies within the Department of International relations of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. The Center for Studies on Asia and Oceania is an “academic institution promoting the study of Asia and Oceania, as well as exploring the interconnections between Cuba and this region… CEAO does academic research along with facilitating the flow of information between Cuba and the Asia-Pacific, in order to educate both the Cuban public about Asia and Oceania and increase knowledge of Cuba in the Asia-Pacific region. The Center pays particular attention to exploring the effects of capitalism, socialism, and globalization on this third world region, to discover what lessons can be learned for the Cuban situation”. Robaina is no second rater, sent to vegetate in a South Seas backwater. His former posting to Cuba’s key ally, the Peoples Republic of China, indicates his high ranking in the Cuban communist hierarchy. The Minutes of the Wellington Latin American Solidarity Committee (LAC), of 9th December 2007 give some idea of the quality of the relationship between the group and the new Cuban amabassador. Cuban Embassy – discussed opening of Cuban Embassy in NZ, how LAC can work with them. Decided to invite the new Ambassador and his wife to a social event at Havana Bar in the next two weeks, to welcome them and explain what LAC does, investigate ways of working together. Carla said her father is very interested in meeting them, helping set up a Cuban Friendship Society here, but he is only in NZ for a few months more. Some discussion about LAC as umbrella for other groups such as Zapatista Support Group, Cuba Friendship Society, danger of spreading too thinly. Needs more discussion in January/after speaking with Ambassador. Action: JWP to contact Ambassador to find which day suits him for welcome, notify LAC list.
The highlighting is in the original. JWP is the group’s minute-taker, Julie Webb-Pullman. The
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 55
Robaina is no second rater, sent to vegetate in a South Seas backwater. His former posting to Cuba’s key ally, the Peoples Republic of China, indicates his high ranking in the Cuban communist hierarchy
“Carla” referred to is Carla Batista, daughter of Chilean exile and former member of the pro-Soviet New Zealand Socialist Unity Party, Victor Batista, a founder, in the early ‘80s, of the New Zealand/Cuba Friendship Society.
Tame Iti and the Tuhoe “Nation”
Tame Iti has long been busy building a power base in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Tuhoe heartland. There are many similarities between Tuhoe country and the the Zapatista stronghold in Chiapas, southern Mexico. Both are comparitively isolated, impoverished, mountainous regions, and both are home to large indigenous speaking populations, the Maya of Chiapas and Tuhoe, New Zealand’s least assimilated Maori tribe. It is significant that a major element of the Maoism that is at the heart of Zapatista philosophy is the so called “National Question” – the art of creating revolution through the manipulation of minorities or so-called ‘oppressed’ nationalities. Himself a former Maoist student radical, the always masked, Subcomandante Marcos left Mexico City for Chiapas, where he immersed himself in Mayan culture and eventually founded the peasant army of the Zapatistas. After a brief low level war with the Mexican Army, Marcos managed to establish a semi-autonomous Mayan state within a state. Tame Iti, also a former Marxist-Leninist radical who paid homage to Maoist China, appears to be striving 56 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
for a similar Tuhoe “nation” within New Zealand. Tame Itiis steeped in “National Question” politics. In the early 1970s Iti became active in the Maori marxist group, Nga Tamatoa (Young Warriors), while serving an apprenticeship in Christchurch. Iti later joined the Communist Party of New Zealand and was in 1973 part of a five-person delegation to China, which included the communist poet Hone Tuwhare and Ama Rauhihi, “Minister of Culture” of the Polynesian Panthers. The delegation toured the outer provinces of China, learning of the benevolence of Mao’s Communist Party towards the nation’s many minority groups. Another member of the delegation, Willie Wilson, a member of Iti’s Timberlands (Bay of Plenty) branch of the Communist Party, told the Maoist/HART journal The Paper of June 1974. “Before I went to China I never had this hard-line attitude. I thought that this society was a bit racist but not totally... after being to China and seeing how the minorities are treated, how they are permitted to organise and run their own affairs, I was convinced. Minorities in China today enjoy a far more fortunate existence than Maoris in New Zealand.” Wilson obviously never heard of Tibet. In 1975, with ultra militant Maori communist, Tom Poata, Tame Iti set up a Maori Tent Embassy outside Parliament Buildings in Wellington. In the mid ‘80s, while still a Communist Party member, Iti was involved in the occupation of the sacred mountain
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Mount Taiarahia to stop Tasman Forestry planting pine trees in the area. On Waitangi Day 1988 Iti organised a road-block near Taneatua to “talk to motorists about the treaty (of Waitangi).” In February 1990 Iti appeared in a Whakatane Court charged with throwing rocks at jetboats on the Whakatane river after objecting to the “abuse and polluting of the river” by jetboating joyriders. He was involved in similar protests in 1988, 1989,1991 and 1992. In 1993 Iti travelled to the US to network with American Indian activists. In 1995 at a “Fiscal envelope” hui in Opotiki, he handed a blanket to then Minister of Justice, Doug Graham and asked for New Zealand back. The same year, Iti was involved in the Motua Gardens occupation at Wanganui. In March 1996 Iti attended the 6th General Assembly of the ‘People’s Plan for the 21st Century’ (PP21) in Katmandu, Nepal. While very little known, PP21 was a significant organisation. Founded in Japan in 1989 by Japanese communists, some of whom were linked to the Soviet KGB, PP21 linked radical NGOs across the Asia/Pacific region and Latin America. Several New Zealanders, besides Iti, have been linked to PP21. These include Aziz Choudry, recently an “Urewera 17” support activist based in Montreal and Green MP Sue Bradford. A former member of the Workers Communist League, Bradford (with several other former comrades) was – in the early ‘90s – in the People’s Assembly movement, the New Zealand affiliate of PP21. After years of activism, networking and, some would say, intimidation, Iti and his small band of followers became a significant force in the rural Tuhoe heartland country around Ruatoki. Never elected, Iti became a self-appointed spokesman for the Tuhoe “nation”. At least, unlike his Chiapas counterpart, Subcomandante Marcos, Tame Iti was native to his region.
Tame Iti’s Radical Ambassador
Chaz Doherty is a University lecturer, Tuhoe leader and friend of Tame Iti. Since the October 15th 2007 police anti-terror raids, Doherty has consistently defended the arrestees, and condemned police tactics. A voice of apparent moderation, Doherty also has a hidden radical side. In October 2006 Doherty represented “Tuhoe nation” at the Second Latin American & Asia Pacific Gathering, in Melbourne. This conference was organised by Australian Marxist-Leninists, socialists and anarchists to increase support for Latin American indigenous revolutionaries. Local guests included Martin Kingham (Socialist Alliance), Bill Deller (ex Socialist Labor League and Communist Intervention), Bill Mundey (ex Communist Party of Australia, now with the Australian Greens), David Glanz (International Socialists) and Carlene Wilson (Workers Power Australia, ex Auckland University Communist Left). From Bolivia came Gissel Gonzales, a leader of the Coalition in Defence of Life and Water in Cochabamba and a writer for the pro Zapatista website Narco News; from Brazil Maria de Lourdes Vicente da Silva, a leader of the PGA affiliated Landless Workers Movement and from Mexico, Heriberto Salas, a represenative from “The People for the Defence of the Earth” which is linked to the Zapatista’s ‘The Other Campaign”.’ Reporting the event, Melbourne based anarchist, Zapatista fan and “Urewera 17” supporter Sina Ana Brown-Davis wrote: Better to die standing, than to live on your knees. Have just had 2 inspirational days of sharing common struggle and resistance to the colonial beast that has ravaged (and continues) to ravage the world. Grassroots people Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, over the
58 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
South America. Humble revolutionaries imbued with a great love & respect for their lands peoples & way of life, actively resisting. The greed for the plunder of our resources and destruction of our identity is similar all the world. Genocide keeps on perfecting itself, so you get a clear picture of what’s in store for us if we don’t assert our right to be and live as Maori on Maori land. NZ settler govt just keep perfecting killing us off slowly. Chaz was a mercurial ambassador for Tuhoe and gave a moving korero about Mana Motuhake, and our colonial history & continuing resistance... It was good to be reminded that around this planet, we the colonised, the oppressed, exploited & marginalised are the majority and the time has come for us to stand up.
The Venezuelan Connection
The Cubans are not the only Latin American revolutionaries with an interest in New Zealand. Venezuela’s neo-Marxist president Hugo Chavez, often dubbed the heir to Fidel Castro, also appears to be concerned with our oppressed minorities – particularly those led by Tame Iti. In March 2008, during a nationwide tour of New Zealand, Canberra based Venezuelan diplomat Nelson Davila held a meeting in Rotorua with a Tuhoe delegation led by Tame Iti. Iti claimed the meeting as a significant diplomatic occasion. Iti told Te Kaea News of 18.3.08 “This is a great occasion for Tuhoe welcoming our visitor. He is from the government of Venezuela, a government which strongly supports indigenous issues”. Iti and Davila allegedly discussed “recent terrorist allegations, Tuhoe self-determination and self rule, water, land and environmental issues...” Iti went on to portray the meeting as the beginning of a significant relationship. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a bond between Tuhoe and Venezuela. Maybe a Tuhoe embassy could be established over there... As Tuhoe strive to assert their selfdetermination, forging relationships with other countries is imperative.” Nelson Davila, Venezuela’s charge d’affaires for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, is regarded as a trusted member of Hugo Chavez’s inner circle. A self described “revolutionary for 35 years” Davila’s career has moved through student mobilizations and indigenous rights activism to founding membership of Hugo Chavez’s secret revolutionary group inside the Venezuelan armed forces. Davila has also been a member Command of Maisanto, the coordinating body for the mass campaign to defeat the opposition’s attempts to recall Chavez in the August 2004 referendum. In recent times he has also served as a Soviet style “political commissar” – an instructor in the Venezuelan armed forces’ Centre for Ideological Formation. Davila’s New Zealand tour was organized by Socialist Worker, a Marxist-Leninist/Trotskyist organization descended from the now defunct Communist Party of New Zealand. Socialist Worker is New Zealand’s leading supporter of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolutionary movement, and represented politically by the RAM (Residents Action Movement) party. The Rotorua meeting was hosted by Bernie Hornfeck, a well known Socialist Worker leader and another veteran of Iti’s Timberlands Branch of the Communist Party. Hornfeck has strong ties to Bay of Plenty Maori communities and was prominent in protests against last year’s October 15th “anti-terror” raids.
The Maori sovereignty group Nga Tamatoa, pictured on the steps of Parliament in 1972. Tame Iti is at the back, on the far right
The Wellington leg of Davila’s visit was organized by “Urewera 17” support activist and loyal friend of Cuba, Julie Webb-Pullman.
Who Brought Them Together?
Who brought these people together? Who stitched together an alliance of mainly Wellington based anarchists and Tuhoe allied Maori radicals into what some claim was an embryonic guerilla army? There were several links between Iti’s group and the anarchist community. One of the “Urewera 17” arrestees, Marama Mayrick grew up in a leftist Whakatane family and got to know Tame Iti through her radical parents. She became involved in the Wellington anarchist scene while studying there in the early 2000s. She was close to other arrestees including Valerie Morse and the three Bailey siblings, Emily, Simon/Rongomai and Tim/Ira. Another with a foot in both camps was People’s Global Action veteran, Teanau Tuiono,. While his home was searched during the October 15th anti terror raids,Tuiono was not arrested, but has continued to actively campaign for those who were. Tuiono is an active networker, both internationally and locally. He has known Tame Iti since at least as early as 1996 when both stood as parliamentary candidates for Eva Rickard’s radical Mana Maori Movement. For several years, Tuiono has worked with “Urewera 17” webmeister Te Rangikaiwhiria (Rangi) Kemara on the executive of the Maori Internet Society, Aotearoa Cafe and the pro-Zapatista Maori Independence Website. It was these website forums that the police are known to have been monitoring before the October 15th raids. In the early 2000s Teanau Tuiono’s close associate, Kalani Tarawa worked with Rangi Kemara moderating a UN financed international indigenous people’s networking website. In the early ‘2000s Teanau Tuiono linked up with Wellington based anarchists, including arrestees Valerie Morse, Emily and Tim/Ira Bailey to form the New Zealand branch of People’s Global Action. In past few years Tuiono has been involved in the anarchist run newsite Indymedia, along with two other “Urewera 17” arrestees, Omar Hamed and Swiss national, Urs Signer.
In early 2007 Teanau Tuiono and his organization, Conscious Collaborations was the leading organisor of the ‘Nice ‘n Native’ gathering at a Waikato marae. This gathering brought together Maori, Native American, Australian Aboriginal and Indigenous Filipino activists to discuss music, culture and revolution. Other activists involved in the gathering were Urewera arrestees Emily Bailey, Tim/Ira Bailey and Rangi Kemara. Another at the gathering was Tuhoe activist Ati Teepa, later questioned, but not arrested in the October 15th anti-terror raids. Ati Teepa’s brother, however was arrested and still faces charges. The Teepa brothers are nephews of Tame Iti. Teanau Tuiono also been the leading spokesman of PGA’s New Zealand affiliate, Aotearoa Educators. Maraea Teepa is AE’s latest spokesperson. She is Tuhoe and is believed to be a relative of the Teepa brothers.
The Green Party Connection
Green Party members have played a leading role in the solidarity movement that has sprung up around the “Urewera 17”. This is not surprising as many Green Party leaders have come from anarchist or Marxist backgrounds and several have worked closely with some of the arrestees in recent years. One of the strongest Green Party/”Urewera 17” connections is through the Save Happy Valley Coalition. (SHVC) Since its formation in 2004, the SHVC has cost power company Solid Energy many millions of dollars of by disrupting their coal mining activities in the West Coast’s Happy Valley. According to SHVC website: The Save Happy Valley Coalition came together at a campout at Happy Valley in early April, 2004. A group of people from around the country travelled to Westport and made the three hour hike to Happy Valley to camp for a week in protest against the proposed mine. Working alongside other organisations like Buller Conservation Group, Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae, Forest & Bird, Greenpeace and the Green Party the Save Happy Valley Coalition aims to build awareness about the proposed coal mine at Happy Valley and the environmental issues surrounding coal mining, and to actively oppose the mine and coal-fuelled energy generation.
Green Party members have supported SHVC from both inside and outside the organisation since day one. Several Green Party members such as Alan Liefting, Tara Forde and, Mojo Mathers have been spokesmen for SHVC. Frances Martin has been both a leading Canterbury University Green Party activist and Happy Valley occupation co-ordinator. According to the SHVC website, 14th March 2006 “Twentytwo members of the Green Party, of various ages, walked into Happy Valley for the weekend to show their support to members of the indefinite occupation. Green Party members tramped into the valley with packs laden with fresh fruit, vegetables, first aid supplies, and tarpaulins for the current occupiers, and cooked them dinner to show their appreciation for the courageous effort being made to protect this pristine New Zealand eco-system. The Save Happy Valley Coalition is grateful for the support shown by members of the Green Party and is pleased to be able to share interest and
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concern, as well as a decent meal, with members of the party.”
The Green Party group included Aoraki policy networker Felix Collins, Party Development co-ordinator (now co-leader) Russel Norman, Aoraki Executive Networker Natalie Cutler-Welsh (now a senior executive with Energy Mad Ltd, promoters of the new CFL mercury light bulbs) and 2005 election candidates Mojo Mathers and Alan Liefting and ex Trotskyist and now Canterbury regional councillor, Rick Tindall. Russel Norman led the outrage in May 2007 when it was discovered that a private security firm had infiltrated a spy into the SHVC for Solid Energy. Norman angrily denounced the company and called for the sacking of its management. Several Green MPs have spoken at SHVC functions, including party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and recently retired MP and long time anarchist, Nandor Tanczos. According to Green Achievements in Parliament 2007 “Both Metiria (Turei) and Russell (Norman) tramp to the Happy Valley protest site in early 2007 as part of the Greens’ ongoing support of the Save Happy Valley campaign. Turei also comes from an anarchist background and on several occasions has asked Parliamentary questions on behalf of SHVC. While the Green Party provides support to SHVC, the backbone of the organisation is anarchist. SHVC’s Wellington HQ is the infamous 128 Abel Smith Street, also the base of Marama Mayrick and Emily Bailey’s film project Kotahi te Ao- to which the Green Party generously provided “Mass photocopying of pamphlets”. Hopefully not from Parliamentary Services. Several “Urewera 17” arrestees have links with both 128 Abel Smith Street and the Save Happy Valley Coalition. Every one of them faces firearms charges. All, except Tim/Ira Bailey would have faced trial for terrorism offences had not the Solicitor General refused the police permission to lay charges. They include include Emily Bailey and her younger brother Tim/Ira Bailey, who was SHVC’s campaign’s spokesman for much of 2006. Others include two members of the Indymedia editorial collective, Omar Hamed and Urs Signer, who is also the partner of Emily Bailey. The third member of the Indymedia editorial collective, well known Wellington anarchist Asher Goldman is also a leading SHVC activist and “Urewera 17” support campaigner. Certainly the police were aware of connections between SHVC and the “Urewera 17”. When the “anti terror” raids occurred on October 15th, police also tried to search two Christchurch houses including one occupied by leading SHVC activists Frances Mountier and Kristin Gillies, but were denied entry for lack of a warrant. On February 14th 2006 SHVC was welcomed to Parliament by Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria
come along to a hui at your local freedom o anarchy.com indymedia, www. tanga.yahoogroups taitokerau@ oups.com or googlise fro the mans James bond” book, y the book set up a cell d select some suicide ombers go to it. there detailed video’s on how make suicide vests in it e oye for the cause
60 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Turei, Nandor Tanczos and co-leader Jeannette Fitzsimons The Save Happy Valley Coalition was at Parliament, complete with Great Spotted Kiwi, to talk with MPs about the destruction of the kiwi habitat in Happy Valley. State-owned Solid Energy plans to create a vast open cast coal mine in Waimangaroa Valley, one of the few stable habitats of the endangered Great Spotted Kiwi.
Green MP Sue Bradford currently runs a Marxist training school through the Kotare Trust at Wellsford, north of Auckland. Two members of Kotare’s Youth Advisory Group, Frances Mountier and John Darroch (a close associate of arrestee Omar Hamed) are prominent SHVC activists.
Don’t Talk to the “Filth”
If the “Urewera 17” and their supporters are as innocent as they profess to be, they seem overly security conscious. Kerry Tankard is a Wellington based anarchist, connected to the 128 Abel Smith Street crowd. She also worked with three of the “Urewera 17” Simon/Rongomai Bailey, Emily Bailey and Marama Mayrick, on their radical environmentalist film Kotahi Ao. Tankard is a Green Party activist and often posts on Green Forum under the name Katie. She posted this plea on ‘Green Forum’ the day after the October 15th anti terror raids [syntax and spelling are unchanged]. Activist arrests in Wellington Posted: 16 Oct 2007 21:36 In the interests of supporting those who have been arrested, discussions were held last night at 128 Able Smith St. I am re-posting a statement verbatim from Indymedia Collective, as a response to those who are concerned or confused about what is being said in media and local gossip. Quote: This morning I opened the herald to see what the bullshit the media were spinning about the raids and saw a comment allegedly from a flatmate of one of the activists arrested yesterday in Auckland. I thought it would be obvious not to comment to the media but apparently not. I guess I just want to remind people not to talk amongst themselves and speculate and especially do not talk to the media. They are not your friends and they will use you to get the inside scoop. As someone quite rightly put it last night....’if not one talks, everyone walks’. It is not gossip it is f**ken serious and some of our comrades are facing a long time behind bars, it would be good if people could remember that. Now is an important time to remember AND PRACTISE those good old rules about security culture and solidarity! The media are easy to ignore however the filth is a different story and it is likely that they will want to ‘talk’ to some people. If you are concerned about this and don’t know what your rights are etc... please seek the advise of an experienced activist who you TRUST. Maybe we need to have a workshop around this sometime in the next few days so that everyone is confident.
Obviously, supporting the New Zealand Police is not a big priority for some Greens.
In The Words of Rangi Kemara
While in public, the ‘Urewera 17’” and their supporters have tried to appear reasonable and moderate, but in their own private forums they are anything but. One of those arrested in the October 15th anti terrorism raids was 38 year old Manurewa man , Te Rangikaiwhiria (Whiri) Andrew Kemara (Ngâti Urunumia), An IT manager for a Maori owned strategic services company and former vice president of the New Zealand Maori Internet Society, Kemara was arrested at the same address as Vietnam veteran, Tuhoe Lambert. Kemara is also a for-
the title fight of the decade
mer flatmate of Tame Iti. After Iti, I believe Kemara is the most senior of the activists arrested. In May 2005 Kemara posted this article on the Maori chatsite ‘Aotearoa Café.’ It was subsequently re-posted on the anarchist run website Indymedia [syntax and grammar are again unchanged]: Thoughts and observations of the last 3-4 years from a relatively new participant in the Tino Rangatiratanga movement… I doubt there will ever be a revolt lead by ‘Maori’ per se unless we somehow have a [[massive]] shift in base thinking (notwithstanding this is still a dream prevalent in the hearts and minds of many Maori around the motu). [I have been left] under no illusion that the only real hope we have is to accept the glaring fact that there is no possibility for real justice within the realms of this system…not now, nor ever. …and I think the sooner we participants in this movement called Tino Rangatiratanga can accept this fact, the sooner we will be able to function as an effective resistance movement is supposed to. Were the Urewera camps that Mr Kemara allegedly participated in, the beginnings of an “effective resistance movement”?
The Extremist’s Extremist
On his Bebo webpage,Wellington activist (and former mayoral candidate) Geoff Karena claims a “family” link to Rangi Kemara and a connection to Teanau Tuiono. Karena has certainly been involved with Tuiono’s organisation, including playing music at a Conscious Collaborations gathering. Geoff Karena’s Bebo blog is very revealing of the extremist mindset of some Maori activists. Here are some excerpts, with commentary from me [syntax and spelling again unchanged]. From a post just after the October 15th raids, Mr Karena declares “this is the time to go to war.” well you may ask which war is that, is it like whats going on in iraq. no I tell you the war that is going on on a daily basis is here in kiwi land, NZ or aoetaroa to this supporter of independence for iwi is well on the cards and we have to be ready. yes thats right is it time to take the bull by the horns and take that final step as we want to, and start a clear-earth policy as they have tried to on us. as well as the normal take them on in the trenches, in the streets, burglarising them, home invading them, bombing them... within the baskets of knowledge are also that which is the iwi essence which is definately at risk of annihilation by these latest arrests, so we need the warriors of iwi to rise up and to take their positions… we have no alternative but to take them on.
From a 2006 post inviting ‘Nga Toa o te Motu’ activists to a Bay of Islands hui from 2 to 7 Feb, 2007 [note: ‘Nga Toa o te Motu’
roughly translates as warriors of freedom.]” the hui will discuss how we/us you and all of us are going to take back aotearoa from the baldyheads to expel the britishers, the kaupapa of the hui is to set a plan of action in place to assist in bringing this about, independence and self determination we will all decide as to what and how we move on this ideally we want to perform an action on waitangi day that will shock the world. we will be discussing how we are going to return mana motuhake of aotearoa to iwi or to the hui which ever will work for our people and what works best. for the purpose of being non hierachical making it safe for the wahine as well we thought we would come to the hui in scarves, balaclava’s etc no faces allowed whether we continue that during the hui will be up to the first hui of the week no leaders, we are all the leaders we can elect spokes people or representatives or kai mangai kaikorero.
In another 2006 post Karena comments on a “report from our trusty iwi reporter Ana Brown Davis”, the Melbourne based anarchist/indigenous activist and “Urewera 17”supporter. “there was great resolve in the aboriginal peoples council of war towards
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 61
achieving this goal indeed with the help of all the indigenous peoples and now resident kiwi’s kiwi pakeha Samoan, all peoples of the pacific that there has to be freedom in the pacific. to effect this there are going to be a series of massed rangatahi young people protests on the doorsteps of the wto November 2006, 7, and 8, the world bank, imf, un headquarters, the G8, as well for the next twenty years. till they give it up, wherever there is oppression said davis we will be there to effect change however way that is achieved. we want thousands no millions to march in brussels in 2008. it will be the year for change said URS anarchist in protest over the united states, nz, and canada’s non ratification of the decolonisation act of 1960, and the non ratification of the indigenous peoples declaration 2006. this shows how these fake governments run by crooks and thieves left over after the elite the gentry, kings and queens fled to escape beheadings from the peoples in the twelve to eighteen hundreds onwards or they escaped to other colonies to wreak their madness.....are able to get away with the murder of our people for the last 170 years. come along to a hui at your local freedom shop or go to anarchy.com indymedia, www.tinorangatiratanga.yahoogroups taitokerau@yahoogroups. com or googlise fro the “poor mans James bond” book, buy the book set up a cell and select some suicide bombers go to it. there are detailed video’s on how to make suicide vests in it oye oye for the cause. go to the one in wgtn at the oblong left bank cuba street that’s where you can find out about the fake us, canada, america and english pernicious resource stripping war mongering industrialists nations and how to overthrow them.
Suicide vests!? Suicide bombers?! Note the fevered resentment, the wild-eyed destructiveness and of course the anarchist connections. Indymedia is an anarchist operation, while “Oblong” is a meeting place at the anarchist run Freedom Shop in Wellington. The ranting continues in that post and many subsequent to it, including this one: Full and final settlement is theft it’s all very well to say that “the united nations” inspired waitangi tribunal is the only game in town that will heal all the ills of iwi. but in the long run what do Iwi get for taking the few pieces of silver they are offered and to admitting to a “full and final settlement”, nothing absolutely nothing.
Clearly Mr Karena sees no hope in the current system. What then can one do? Therefore, this is not the “only game in town” there are others. Much like all those who refer to this as a game they also know that there are other games that will achieve for iwi the self-determination and independence outcome we are all striving for, of which the following examples can be seen to be practised with much success all around the world. Example 1 The warlord game: this is where a group of whanau or hapu begin in their rohe a campaign of terrorising and confiscating their own lands from the local farmers and land stealers. Using ex-colonial soldiers and the thousands of disenfranchised youth of their whanau as the enforcers, and the local hapü as their suppliers, with their local Iwi parliamentary member as their exonerator or supplier, a method that has been used successfully in: Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Columbia, Togo, Uganda, Somalia, now Caledonia etc. Example 2 There is also the occupation method, this is similar to the first one and includes the use of high powered long range weaponry. It uses military methods to lock down areas such as road-blocks delineating tracts of land to certain hapu and no trespass signs and declarations of independence and have their people defend their area’s against incursions by the state. These were used successfully in Chechnya, Kenya, Yucatan,
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Georgia, Siberia, etc. Example 3 Then there are the suicide bomber games, this requires complete commitment to the cause of iwi self-determination and independence. Example 4 Then there are the games the iwi gangs play, who amongst all iwi they are the best at, hook up with them influence them lead them to our way of thinking. Example 5 There are the petty crime games, steal anything and everything it is muru. Burn it or destroy whatever you steal or distribute it if this is for example 1&2. It there is any profit from it give ten to 20% of it to any iwi political organisation, like the whanau. Example 6 Kidnapping is another game that has found favour with indigenous freedom fighters. Snatch rich people, government officials, MP’s, foreigners, tourists, cabinet ministers etc., hold them for millions of dollars, make it impossible for them to refuse and if the governments or families of the kidnapped do not pay up decapitate them, video it and send it to tvnz. Assassination is another way to appeal to a recalcitrant government to leave a territory or a series of assassinations if they do not heed the warnings. For extra info try this site for articles of how to wage war on the invaders where you can maximise you destructive capabilities, which will help you with your peoples aspirations. http://www.deltaforce.com/catalog/pa... two four six eight what do we appreciate iwi independence and self-determination
Are Geoff Karena’s views unique to himself, or are they more widespread among the maori radical community?
Where to Now for the “Resistance”
It’s clear that the “Urewera 17” arrestees are more than an isolated bunch of fantasists playing soldiers up in the hills. The evidence indicates that they are dedicated activists who see themselves as part of an international resistance movement against globalization and capitalism. These modern day ant-state, anti-colonization and anti-globalisation “resistance” fighters apparently see themselves at war with international capitalism. In their minds they are underground warriors, patriots and freedom fighters. Whether they planned to confine their protests to peaceful means, or were training for something more sinister, they certainly warrant close scrutiny. What is very clear is that the movement they represent is not going to go away because a few of them may be jailed or fined on firearms charges. Media reports have stated that up to 200 people may have participated in the Urewera camps. Many were observed by police surveillance but were never identified. Genuine terrorist organizations such as Germany’s BaaderMeinhof Group or the Italian Red Brigades traditionally functioned with extensive ‘legal” support networks. If the “Urewera 17” were indeed bona fide terrorists in the making, where are their support networks now? What are they planning? The police won round one. They dealt the “resistance” a huge blow and perhaps even saved some lives. We should however, be prepared for the inevitable retaliation, and for the spin surrounding the arrests to rev up several gears as we get closer to trial. n
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think life | money
The taste of financial advice Peter Hensley hatches a plan over some bevies St Mungo’s Tuesday Night Beer Club came about following a discussion about equality between the sexes. Martin did not mind that Melissa disappeared to her book club on the first Monday of each month, and it was more that she said that if he found a similar hobby then he would be allowed to follow it in a similar fashion. Martin thought it through and St Mungo’s was formed. Membership was limited to twelve founding members, which happily coincided with 12 beers in a dozen, and conveniently meant a different venue each month. The second Tuesday of each month was easy to remember and each member could invite one guest with a maximum of three allowed at any one meeting. The Chairmanship would rotate every year and if any issue could not be resolved by a majority vote, then he would have a second casting vote and his decision was final. Because Martin was a practicing solicitor he drafted the rules and constitution along the lines of a private club. On any 64 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
one night six members, on a rotating roster, would bring enough beers so that each person attending would receive their own unit of beer. This would limit their expenditure to a maximum of fifteen beers and each attendee would only consume six beers during a meeting. Transport from the monthly meeting venue was an individual’s responsibility, however the constitution contained a zero tolerance clause in relation to drink driving. In the six years that the members had been meeting, it was yet to be invoked. Membership has remained exceedingly stable with only two resignations over the six years due to employment relocations. The limited membership clause in the original constitution meant that the application process for these vacant positions was hotly contested, with a secret ballot overseen by an outside authority. Over the previous six years the boys had learned a lot about beer and because they were all professional people they also discussed at length the wider issues affecting
the economy. Because of their work disciplines the boys eagerly discussed the issues relating to the world wide credit crunch and the impact it was having on the local environment. Following the conclusion of the most recent St Mungo’s meeting, the discussion centered on the forthcoming election and effects it might have on the wider economy. Jonny Bravo, whose real name was Kane, contributed that he had read that the Royal Bank of Scotland had issued a crash alert for all their investment customers, suggesting that world stock markets could possibly take a sudden swan dive. The RBS senior credit analyst went on public record warning their clients to brace themselves for a fully fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months. He added that this was after our local market had already dipped in excess of 20% in the last month. John (a founding member) added that his contacts in the farming industry were concerned that farm values were reaching
unstainable levels with newcomers relying solely upon capital values increasing in the future as the cash flow being generated was not enough to service the debt levels necessary to buy the farms in the first place. He asked the wider group, why would anyone buy a farm, or anything for that matter, with debt when it did not generate enough cash to service the loan repayments. Paul, a real estate agent, chipped in and said that both the residential and commercial property market were suffering from an over supply of homes and buildings with many of them being mortgagee sales. He went on to say that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a property’s rental income stream is finite, but many enthusiastic buyers chose to ignore the basic rule that the asset, no mater how it was funded, needed to pay for itself, otherwise it would end in tears. An LAQC company is great for getting a tax rebate, but in order to qualify for the tax refund, you first have to make a loss which has to be funded out of private cash flow. Pete chipped in and shook his head stating why would someone want to buy something and purposely lose money on it. It did not sound like a wise long term investment decision. David, a recently appointed member
and a senior investment analyst with the Government, kept the theme alive with a comment from the worldwide investment bank Morgan Stanley which, like its counterpart Royal Bank of Scotland, recently warned of a potential “catastrophic event” that could affect world investment markets. The European Central Bank appears to be heading for a showdown with the US Federal Reserve. That will be a tough one, with the USA needing to borrow $2 billion a day just to keep its home fires burning. It appears that the US dollar could be heading for trash status, just like Warren Buffett suggested might happen five years ago. On hearing Buffett’s name mentioned, Peter quickly added that the man is quite a character. Not only is he is the second richest man in the US (behind Bill Gates), he recently bet a hedge fund manager a million dollars that the S & P 500 index would be worth more than an equivalent investment in the manager’s family of hedge funds in 10 years time. The proceeds from the bet would be donated to charity. Mr Buffett says, at 83, that he still expects to be here in 10 years to collect the bet and donate the money to a charity of his choice. Des was concerned about the contagion effect the perfect storm was having in the
finance sector in New Zealand. Over the past two years the vast majority of third tier finance companies which were categorized by low levels of capital and average management had gone into receivership, now the effect of the credit storm was spreading to the second tier companies. Many commentators were being surprised by the deeds of arrangements being proposed by larger companies with substantial capital reserves and quality management. Companies with sound business strategies and competent people were being caught up in a cash flow crisis which is not only impacting on mum and dad investors but also the building and development sectors of the economy. It was getting late and Jonny Bravo thought it was time for the remaining members of the St Mungo’s Tuesday Night Beer Club to taxi themselves home to their respective partners and wait another month for the next club night. He thought to himself that if NZ Incorporated appeared to be going to hell in a hand basket then he just might buy some gold as he knew that was always considered to be a safe haven in times of economic crisis. A copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available upon request and is free of charge. © Peter J Hensley July 2008
THE DIVINITY CODE
“…the most politically incorrect book” in New Zealand. He is absolutely right…Prepare to be surprised and shocked. Wishart may ruﬀle a few feathers but his arguments are fair as his evidence proves. If you are looking for a stimulating mental challenge, or a cause to fight for, Eve’s Bite will definitely satisfy. – Wairarapa Times-Age
Wishart takes up the gauntlet laid down by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and in fact, uses Dawkins own logic and methodology to launch a counter-attack against unbelief. Challenging…thought provoking…compelling – keepingstock.blogspot.com
Discover the truth for yourself. Get these two books today from Whitcoulls, Borders, PaperPlus, Dymocks, Take Note, and all good independent booksellers, or online at
I’m having a cracking good read of another cracking good read – The Divinity Code by Ian Wishart, his follow-up book to Eve’s Bite which was also a cracking good read – comment on “Being Frank”
www.evesbite.com INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 65
think life | EDUCATION
Erasing history Amy Brooke accuses left-wing academics of deliberately wiping out the cultural memory If language is the both the light of the mind – and a crucial index of the health of a society – we are a sick, increasingly crudelyspoken society. Apart from the ubiquitous f*** and c**** words – either deliberately or casually offensive with their in-yourface connotations – women now demean themselves talking about their boobs, tits, bum and arse. Piss, farting, shit – as well as the once-avoided posh and flash, with their chip-on-the shoulder connotations – are endemic. And I recently heard from a scientist with a PhD, accompanying his equally qualified wife to ante-natal classes where they listened in disbelief to an earnest female using infantilized words like poos and wees – to grown adults. We have reached a nadir when a newspaper leader writer casually tosses off the phrase “to expose a sweaty builder’s crack to schoolgirls.” Such crudeness has become widespread in our society. The question is – are we more than overdue to ask why? For the degradation of our language reflects a disintegrating society, a social decay of his66 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
toric proportions. Moreover, this new barbarism is not the fault of a working class which, by the beginning of last century, wanted to become respectable. Workers attended evening lectures given by great writers, kept a copy of Everyman’s classics in their pockets, and learned great poetry by heart, believing they could transform their lives through education. Is it simply that the education politburo for so long has not seriously thought about the reality of what happens when people are deprived of competence in speaking and writing their own language? If so, the totally lightweight individuals contriving this should have been sacked long ago. However they have been very comfortably accommodated by both National and Labour Ministers of Education, and we can have no confidence whatsoever that National, for all its brouhaha, will do any better this time. But there has been something far more ominous afoot. For an education bureaucracy to be run by fools is one thing. For
it to have been dominated and manipulated so long by knaves is another thing entirely. Yet it’s hard to think of a more suitable description for those deliberately using the area of education to manipulate our children with their own far-Left political beliefs – while dumbing down standards to achieve a more compliant, unquestioning school leaver product. But what about the consequences for so many? Why do so many adult New Zealanders feel inadequate even to write a letter to the newspaper? Why do so many speak so very poorly? Why were good speech standards never even offered to them – all the way through what should have been a creditable education system? Are we naive enough to believe that the education bureaucracy had, and has, no idea that some of our young will be discriminated against as school leavers, not only because of their deplorable written English, but because they seem to have no idea of how badly they speak? Why have they been exposed to humiliation, to hopelessness, even to anger – as
an inevitable result? I’m not referring to those whose parental antagonism to universal education standards – deliberately fostered among some Maori, for example – has pupils fighting the system – but to those who started hopefully with a blank slate and leave school with one almost equally blank. Why? Why are so many of what should be the crème de la crème of our university youngsters unable even to write a coherent sentence? Why are they barely literate, after all these years of immersion in what should have been a first-class education system? Why don’t they even know what a paragraph is? Giving them pass marks at university erodes what were once standards, now obviously much degraded – when one looks with incredulity at those who have emerged to teach a subject in which they have no genuine competence? Why do so many teachers themselves (while buying into absurd titles such as “syndicate leaders”) have no idea, even, of what a noun or verb is – let alone their functions and those of other parts of speech in achieving coherency within a sentence? What precisely have most New Zealanders been taught all those years in primary school, let alone in secondary school? Why was the phonic teaching of the alphabet deliberately withheld? – students no longer taught to add, subtract, multiply and divide? Why was almost every competency downgraded – including even the teaching of cursive writing, rather than mere printing? Teaching writing was suspended in the 80s, condemning many school leavers to the inadequacy of having to print quickly instead. Is it mere coincidence that the ominous withholding of these and other very basic skills invokes George Orwell’s warning that if we cannot use language well – we cannot think well – and if we cannot think well, others will do our thinking for us. This, of course, is the education politburo’s agenda, planned over half a century ago, with the results all round us, and the rubbishy NCEA system simply one of its most recent end products. What happened, and the determined hijacking of formerly sound education syllabi in this country is illustrated in this recent email extract from a former senior inspector, although by the 1960s, the onslaught was well under way. “In the 1960s and early ’70s, several of us in the secondary inspectorate, seeing what was happening in the department, tried to stem the tide of left-wing liber-
alism, but failed. We were outflanked by appointments and promotions only of those who embraced the new philosophy. I am not an English language person, my fields being in the sciences, but I recall the setting up of “The New English Syllabus Committee” [NESC ] consisting of these sorts of people, and leaving out all the experienced and knowledgeable ones. Meetings of people who were following this bandwagon were held at a property in the Sounds owned by the department. These were very discreet and held over week-ends, and the new “innovative” syllabus was finally launched. These moves, and others, have produced the gutless, non-challenging subject prescriptions we have today. In contrast, I can recall my days at Auckland Grammar with an English teacher who had us all learning screeds of Shakespeare “Why are so many of what should be and many of the poets, including Byron, Keats, the crème de la crème of our university Shelley, etc. It was quite youngsters unable even to write a a sight to see some hairy-legged fifth-for- coherent sentence? Why are they mer reciting a love poem barely literate, after all these years of to an attentive and quiet immersion in what should have been a class.” Contrast the long first-class education system? Why don’t respect for the best of our heritage with a recent they even know what a paragraph is? ridiculous statement by a Victoria University Acting Professor of Socio-Linguistics – a provide access to the best of our past, our give-away title in itself – condemning the educationists continue to undermine the important clarifying use of apostrophes as “a possibility of quality education. Basically, symbol of oppression”, by which the super- their politicized takeover depends on wipcilious “assert their arrogance” . ing out the cultural memory, actively or What better illustration of the huge gulf passively. The question is whether we have between pompous academic nonsense – passed the point of no-return. and reality? And what better time than now © Amy Brooke to look at why we are letting this takeover www.amybrooke.co.nz continue? While our libraries, nationwide, www.summersounds..co.nz are discarding important books which http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/ INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 67
think life | SCIENCE
The secret to good science For Motorola scientists, nosiness can be a virtue, reports Wailin Wong
Crysta Metcalf has eavesdropped on the conversations of strangers, pored over their personal photographs and grilled them on their closest relationships. Such nosiness is all part of her job of studying people and how they communicate. Metcalf is the principal staff anthropologist at Motorola Inc in the US. Her responsibility is to spot long-term trends in how people socialize and interact, then help translate those findings to engineers and designers for use in inventions from three to 10 years into the future. Motorola has employed social scientists 68 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
like Metcalf for 15 years, putting them alongside engineers and technology specialists. She prefers having people with different science backgrounds collaborate over the traditional “throw it over the wall to the engineers” approach to research. “I think this model of working is so important to successful innovation,” says Metcalf, 42, a fast talker with a wide grin whose neat cubicle sports a “Hippie Chicks Rule” sign and a Rosie the Riveter picture. She joined Motorola in 2000. In her seven-person team, PhD computer scientists and engineers conduct field
research associated with traditional anthropological study. Their current undertaking is a project called Social TV, which studies how people bond over television. Research and development is the core of any technology firm. But Motorola’s financial problems have seeped into the research division. Two weeks ago the company says it was cutting about 150 of its 630 Motorola Labs employees, and there is more uncertainty ahead as Motorola plans separating its cell phone business from the rest of the company in 2009. Executives haven’t said how they will
divide intellectual property and research staff between the two new companies, though the good news for Metcalf’s team is that Social TV survived the latest round of cuts. Daniel Moloney, the executive vice president who oversees the Labs, says the firm is focusing on certain projects and reassigning other groups to specific business divisions, such as handsets and cable TV set-top boxes. “There’s no question that innovation is at the heart of Motorola – it’s always been a key part of our heritage and is important to our business competitiveness,” Moloney says. “Now, more than ever, we recognize the importance of strategic R&D for the future of our success.” VEERING INTO THE ABSTRACT
Sometimes it’s difficult to connect fast-moving product development with Metcalf ’s work, which often veers into the abstract. For example, participants in past projects have kept digital photo and video diaries. In one study, people photographed objects that symbolized connections with their closest friends and relatives. One person shot a loaf of gluten-free bread baked by a loved one, while another chose a tape recorder because her traveling husband would leave messages for her. But out of such experimentation grew new ideas about social communication. Another important step occurred several years ago, when researchers observed how people talked on the phone while watching the same TV show. Metcalf ’s team wanted to further study social interaction around TV. And that’s when the most rudimentary concept of Social TV began to take shape. The researchers designed a prototype and recruited friends of friends for the first phase of testing. “It looked like a PC attached to a television with a big microphone on a coffee table,” Metcalf says. In the first trial, participants watched different TV programs and spoke through the microphones as if they were on speakerphones. Metcalf’s team recorded the activity on video cameras, then interviewed participants afterward about their experience. “We learned universally that people watch TV with their feet up and no socks,” says Guy Romano, the group’s project leader. “We couldn’t use that data.” The team did draw other useful information. Viewers engaged in small talk to pass time during commercials or swapped trivia
during sports games. Enthusiasm for the system was high for sports programming, but the audio connection could be distracting in large group settings. Metcalf and the other researchers then designed a second prototype that left out the audio but added a small orb that glowed blue at one house when the Social TV system was switched on at the other home. The second-round participants says they wanted more communication features. So for the third phase, researchers brought back the speakerphone and added messaging. The earliest type of messaging was sending a simple thumbs up or thumbs down to the other home, using a repurposed TiVo remote. Later, participants could use a keyboard for real-time chatting or invite friends to watch a show. The orb changed colors to signal how many households had turned on Social TV or an incoming invitation. PATTERNS IN BEHAVIOR
Metcalf ’s team is still combing through the latest testing data but observed some general behavior patterns. Elaine Huang, senior staff researcher, says “conversations are pushing out beyond TV,” with one group of users proposing a pizza outing over chat. Joe Tullio, senior research scientist, saw that male viewers were chatting more with their friends’ significant others. The Social TV team is a largely selfcontained unit. The researchers design the prototypes, set up the equipment in
living rooms and transcribe the responses from live interviews or having participants answer questions on a voice-mail system. When the glut of raw data arrives, the challenge is how to make it useful. Metcalf ’s organizational method involves sticky notes – a lot of them. The researchers print important quotes or observations on notecards, which are then tacked on the walls of a conference room in the Galvin Center at Motorola’s Schaumburg, Ill., campus. Noel Massey, principal staff research engineer, came up with the idea of printing bar codes on the cards so they could be easily scanned into a computer database. If the researchers detect a common theme among several cards, those cards are grouped and the theme is written on a pink sticky note that sits on top. Pink ideas are summed up on blue notes, which are in turn summed up on green notes. Product design ideas go on orange notes. Metcalf invites employees from outside the Labs to survey the walls of the conference room, which also houses a faux living room set-up for Social TV testing. It’s a “great way to transfer ownership” of the data, she says. It’s not clear how Social TV will proceed or whether the system will become a commercial product. But the team has a green light for further research, which feeds into the company’s broader efforts to study TVrelated technology.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 69
think life | TECHNOLOGY
Smart move Antivirus software is moving onto top-range mobile phones, reports Ian Wishart The world’s internet security companies are warning smartphone users they’re next in line to be hit with new wave computer viruses designed to spread via mobile devices. Although the vast majority of hacker and virus activity is directed at personal and notebook computers running Microsoft software, increasing convergence between cellphones and computers has created a breed of mobile phones with more grunt than an eight year old laptop computer. That leaves mobile devices vulnerable as their use escalates exponentially and prices drop for entry level smartphones. Particularly vulnerable are expected to be those devices running on the Windows Mobile OS, given its close similarity to the main Windows OS. The latest major player to throw its hat in the ring to protect smartphones is ESET, whose NOD32 antiviral software for ordinary computers is widely regarded as one of the industry leaders. Now ESET has announced the launch of Mobile Antivirus, a new security solution for mobile devices. The software is based on the company’s 70 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
existing ThreatSense® heuristic technology, a form of advanced proactive detection, and optimizes it for the mobile platform. “Widespread mobile attacks are inevitable in the near future and yet it is likely that these first attacks will be hard to find before they’ve done their damage,” says Brian Burke, program director, Security Products, IDC. “Companies like ESET who are effectively applying their proactive protection to the mobile platform are most readily-equipped to identify and prevent the risks that will slip by most signature-based AV solutions.” One of the biggest challenges for mobile security is the limited memory, processing and bandwidth capabilities inherent with a small platform. Traditional antivirus approaches, with large and frequent signature updates, cannot be successfully applied to a mobile environment without significantly impacting the phone’s performance. Available now in Beta for Windows Mobile users, ESET Mobile Antivirus with ThreatSense is able to proactively detect the most sophisticated mobile malware attacks
while delivering the same highly-effective, non-intrusive experience on handsets as on PC platforms. The company claims the new package includes: Heuristic threat detection – Based on ESET’s heuristic engine, ThreatSense, ESET’s mobile antivirus is optimized for the mobile platform and provides realtime protection against existing and future threats. On-demand Scanning – Contains scanning and cleaning of integrated and exchangeable memory media, and a full memory/running processes scan. Specific folder scanning is included and results are displayed after a scan. Advanced On-access Scanning – Scans all created/used files with enhanced virus detection capabilities at access time. Mobile antivirus scans incoming files via wireless connections as well (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Infrared). Activity Log – Stores statistics about accomplished scanning tasks and latest database status in a user-friendly format. A variable range of scan results-history is included. Variable In-depth Scanning of Cab Files – Enables users to set the level of cab files scanning to the preferred extent. Automatic/On-demand Updates – Ensures up-to-date protection against all threat types. Users can schedule updates on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Daily updates are set by default, and users are also allowed to switch-off automatic updates if they prefer. Intuitive User Interface – Users experience is enhanced by easy-to-set dialogs and intuitive menu. Compact updates – ESET’s update files are typically a fraction of the size of solutions that are more dependent upon signatures, consuming less bandwidth to the mobile device (this benefits carriers and users). The $64 million question is how well it will cope when the first major mobile viruses and malware start to spread. To that end, ESET has released the Mobile Antivirus programme for free as a Beta version, meaning smartphone users can put it through its paces without forking out a cent. Their experiences will go towards fine-tuning the software for an upgraded release, probably later this year. The web address if you want to download the new software for your phone is: http://www.eset.com/emabeta Investigate has obtained a copy and will be testing it soon.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 71
feel life | SPORT
Personal best Nick Willis and Marina Erakovic are single-handedly rescuing New Zealand tennis and middle-distance running from the doldrums. As coverage of the historic Olympics in Beijing starts to saturate the world media, Chris Forster profiles two contrasting athletes – hitting top form at exactly the right time. Willis is a practising Christian who doesn’t preach to the unconverted. His crowning achievement was an inspired run to 1500 metres gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, capped by an open-armed embrace to the heavens. It was reminiscent of John Walker’s celebration after his Olympic triumph in Montreal in 1976, the last great moment for the famous black singlet. Now Willis is hell bent on making the medal dais in Beijing, and recent results add weight to his case. In late May he finished fourth in a lightning fast 800 metres event in New York, fast enough to qualify in the event for the Games. Then in his specialty 1500 metres the 72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
lean 24 year old frame of Willis nipped to second behind America’s world champion Bernard Legat at a meet in California. His crowning pre-Games glory was an inspired, aggressive run at the famed Prefontaine Classic mile in Eugene, Oregon. Willis left a flock of African hotshots in his wake with a withering back straight burst, only to be pipped at the tape by one of the many Kenyans in the field. “It turned out even better than I expected. The world’s top ranked runner (Daniel Konen) requested a world record pace. “I was caught in two minds. I wanted to be aggressive, but if I raced out in front I’d be committing proverbial suicide out there, and fade at the end”. Willis kept his cool.
“On the third lap it started to slow down. On the back straight no one was doing anything, so with 250 metres left I decide to go. “The crowd started getting into it, then they all started standing up and cheering … 18,000 people. I thought this is a chance to make a name for myself. “I was battling and battling down the home stretch thinking this is mine. This is mine. But right at the finish the Kenyan Shadrock Korir dipped me on the line and beat me by one tenth of a second”. Ouch. It was the ability of Willis to take it to the Africans and almost win, that’s given him a huge bolt of confidence for the Games. “Here I was wearing a white singlet for my
This is my first main draw here, I can only move on from here – take a lot of confidence out of it
sponsor Reebok, in a Nike-sponsored event, with my white skin passing all these African guys. I finally had the belief I could do it at the big one in Beijing. I’ve established myself and proved I can run an aggressive race in an Olympic final, when there’ll be even more good guys running”. It was a watershed moment in the life of the recently married Nick Willis, just rewards for the relentless diet of training, athletic meets, travel and tiny hotel rooms. He travels with his bible and travel scrabble to wile away the lonely hours at night. Truly committed. The hard truth though is Willis ranked well down the batting order at 22 in the world, even after his impressive run of results. Ahead of him are a staggering six Kenyans, including Komen and Korir at the top of the list. Throw in a couple of Algerians, a handful of Europeans, a couple of adopted runners for the oil-rich state of Bahrain, the omnipresent track threats of Morocco and Ethiopia, and you get some idea of the mountain Willis has to climb if he‘s to take that short step up to the medal dais. Faith in his own ability, elevated by that stunning run in Oregon, gives him a chance of matching the feats off Walker, Quax and Dixon all those years ago. Marina Erakovic was rated 149th in
the world at the start of the year. For years she has been well-known in New Zealand sport as our brightest tennis prospect, but there were lingering doubts she could climb into the fiercely competitive top 80 or so of the women’s game. The Croatianborn Aucklander has proved the critics wrong and then some in 2008, with a string of impressive results and Grand Slam debuts to rocket into the world’s top 50. The 20 year old has almost over-achieved her way onto the world stage, and she’s turning heads. Noted tennis writer Michael Burke’s compared Erakovic with Belgium’s pocket dynamo Justine Henin, the former world number one who suddenly called it quits on her sparkling career before the French Open. New Zealand Tennis eventually answered calls to reward her with a nomination to play for her country in Beijing, given dispensation from the usual “top 16 or better” criteria slapped on by the New Zealand Olympic Committee. Her achievements speak for themselves. n Semi-finalist at the ASB Women’s Classic in Auckland, upsetting world number two Vera Zvonareva. n Semi-finalist at the Tier 2 tournament in Memphis, winning six qualifying and main draw matches before losing to Lindsay Davenport. World ranking moves inside the top 100 for the first time. n Earns a wildcard into the Tier 1 Sony Ericsson Open, winning her first two matches before succumbing to the brute power of Venus Williams. n First ever Grand Slam appearance at the French Open, beating Tathiana Garbin in the first round and giving eventual finalist Jelena Jankovic a fright in the second round. n Switches to grass winning a lower tier ITF tournament in London then mak-
ing her third semi-final of the year at the DFS Classic in Birmingham. n At Wimbledon reaches the third round, iu impressive style, only to narrowly miss-out on the last 16 in a three-setter to Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn. Those achievements make Marina statistically the best ever women’s player from New Zealand, and she wants to go on from here. “There’s a lot of positives to take out of making the third round”, she told reporters after her Wimbledon loss to the tenacious Tanasugarn. “This is my first main draw here, I can only move on from here – take a lot of confidence out of it”. She’ll have her work cut out in Beijing – switching to the hard court surface, and with most of the top players in the world itching for their share of the Games limelight. But Erakovic has come-of-age, and most importantly proved to herself she can compete and beat the best tennis players in the world.
LYMPICS BEIJING Oce at a glan Beijng 2008 – One World, One Dream.(all events four hours behind NZ time) Opening Ceremony u Friday, August 8, 8;08 pm Closing Ceremony u Sunday, August 24, 8 til 11 pm 28 sports, 37 venues, 302 gold medals, 10,708 athletes 9 million tickets available – 7 million for sale 550 thousand foreign visitors expected in Beijing 25 thousand foreign journalists National ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium – track and field/football venue – seats 91 thousand/constructed from 36 kilometres of unwrapped steel 203 countries competing (not all independent) – including debuts for the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu
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feel life | HEALTH
Haem sweet haem? Claire Morrow develops a taste for blood
It was hard to avoid the vampire associations of bloodletting when World Blood Donor Day was held on Friday the 13th of June this year, but this time the theme of the New Zealand Blood Service was “Give Blood Regularly, For Many Happy Returns”. They want you to return, in other words. Blood drives apparently do quite well, people are willing to give blood, but very few do so regularly. I can’t say I’m any exception. I have given blood. And I’ve been deferred a few times too or unable to donate. But often enough, well, I’ll give blood in principle. The next time they call and ask. If the supplies are low or something. It’s on the list. Blood donation is a special kind of charitable act, though. It’s purely altruistic, in this country you get drinks and cookies but cannot be paid for the donation, and it’s unique. There is no trade to be made. You can give money to one charity but not another, not give cash but donate old clothes, some big corporate sponsor or gov74 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
ernment funded welfare program might step in and assist a good many of our good causes. Blood is special, though. All the blood and blood products used in New Zealand come from blood donations. Go on, pat on the back. In 1997 the World Health Organization set a goal for all blood donations to come from unpaid volunteer donors but as of 2006, only 49 of 124 countries surveyed had established this as a standard and many had made no little or no progress. The United States still pays for some of their donations. Some countries import blood. Some less developed countries simply don’t have enough and “save” blood and blood products, hoping to avoid using them “unnecessarily”. There is no substitute for human blood. Magical stuff, blood. Most people’s ideas about what blood is and what it does are a bit hazy, I think, partly because it does... well, a lot. Blood is made up of about 55% plasma and plasma, in turn, is made up of about 90% water. The other 10% is vital pro-
teins, including clotting proteins. Plasma is the part of blood that carries important nutrients around the body to where they are needed and picks up waste from cells so that it can be gotten out of the body. If you think of the kidneys as “cleaning” the blood, you can think of the blood as the garbage collector of the body, flowing around picking up all the waste that all the cells in all the organs create in the course of their everyday activities. Clotting factors, it should be clear, ensure that your blood is the right consistency so that it can do its job effectively. When you get injured, the clotting factors have a role in stopping blood flowing out of you, and so do platelets, which make up about 5% of your blood and are vital to the clotting process. The other 40% of your blood is red and white blood cells, manufactured within the bone marrow of healthy humans. Red blood cells give blood its red color and they deliver oxygen to vital organ systems and remove carbon dioxide from organ tissues
to the lungs (so it can be exhaled). If you lose a lot of blood, you lose the ability to get oxygen to the body’s tissues and carbon dioxide out. There are a number of different types of white cells, all of them involved in preventing infection. Diseases that lower the white cell count reduce one’s ability to fight off and prevent infection. Unfortunately, white cells are not readily transfusable. The first blood transfusions occurred in the 17th century using whole animal blood. In a few cases the amount of blood was small enough that the patient did not have a massive allergic reaction, and they lived. This led to some false optimism about the success of the procedure, but it was outlawed in 1670 as a result of the less than successful outcomes that tended to result. Blood transfusion did not again have much success until 1818, when a British obstetrician performed a series of transfusions for postpartum hemorrhage. Five of his ten procedures were successful, and so medical interest was again sparked. At the time, blood typing was not understood, and a good number of patients would not be able to withstand their reaction to the wrong type of blood being transfused. But these tended to be last ditch cases, they were better off taking their chances with the blood than dying of blood loss. In these cases, blood was literally transfused directly from one patient into another, with the aid of gravity. Such devices were still in use during World War Two for direct (straight out of my arm and into yours) transfusion. But times have changed, of course. The ABO blood grouping system is universally understood; rheas typing (whether your blood is “positive” or “negative” for
the rheas antibody) changed transfusion medicine again in the late 1930s, and today blood can be further typed and matched in minute detail to ensure the best possible match. Since early last century blood has been treated and stored, allowing blood banking. Although not all blood products have a long shelf life, some parts of blood can be stored frozen for 10 years. People need blood donations for a number of reasons. Often, in trauma or following surgery, a transfusion is required simply to put back the blood which has been lost. Many recipients require blood products or just one part of blood due to a congenital clotting condition (such as hemophilia)
immune system who will do best if they don’t need to come into contact with any foreign antibodies. And if you are – like me – the universal donor (blood group O), then they always want your blood, because anyone can have some of the O blood products in an emergency. Not everyone can donate blood; if you are ill, anemic, have lived in the UK for a long period, are pregnant, or it is thought that you are in a group with a higher risk of having a blood borne infection, or becoming anemic if you donate, then you will be deferred (ie, they won’t take your blood). You can call and ask, if you’re not sure. But at the moment in New Zealand it is
“At the moment in New Zealand it is estimated that 5% of people who could give blood, actually do. And 80% of us will receive a transfusion during our lifetime or because they have a medical condition such as kidney disease or cancer. A significant proportion of people will need a blood donation at some point in their life. If you have a rare blood type, your local blood bank will want to keep you on a register and never let you go. Some patients, for example neonates, need very, very special blood, as a rule. In their case it is not just a question of matching the type of blood, but finding blood which doesn’t have antibodies to common human diseases. About 95 of us have antibodies to Cytomegalovirus, a common human infection most of us will come into contact with at some point. If you for some reason don’t, your blood will be very special to someone with a weakened
estimated that 5% of people who could give blood, actually do. And 80% of us will receive a transfusion during our lifetime. The easiest way to donate blood is to organise an office blood drive. The NZ Blood Service will help to organize this if you call and ask them to, and then you can all be in on the team building blood-letting. Go on. It doesn’t hurt much, you get to sit down for 15 to 20 minutes (how often does that happen?) and someone will give you a drink and a snack. And you provide a life saving donation, which doesn’t cost you anything, for which there is no substitute. Good on ya. The number for the NZ Blood Service is: 09 523 5744 or 0800 GIVEBLOOD (0800 448 325)
HEALTHBRIEFS Study: Newborns Need More Pain Relief u A U.S. researcher said doctors need to do more to ease the pain of newborns treated in intensive care units. A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said newborns face an average of 16 painful or stressful procedures each day, USA Today reported this month. Most of the time the procedures, such as needle sticks or bandage removals, are done without painkillers. SILENT STROKES HIT ONE IN TEN u Routine brain scans in a group of middle-aged people showed that 10 percent of them had suffered a stroke without knowing it, raising their risk for further strokes and memory loss, U.S. researchers said this month. People with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heart beat in people over 65, had more than twice
the rate of these silent strokes, they said. Silent cerebral infarctions or SCIs are brain injuries caused by a blood clot that interrupts blood flow to the brain. “The findings reinforce the need for early detection and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in midlife,” Dr. Sudha Seshadri of Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues wrote in the journal Stroke. ALMONDS GOOD FOR YOU u British study suggests almonds, as well as being a vitamin and mineral source, might present other health benefits, such as producing good bacteria. The study by scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Colney, England, identified potential prebiotic properties of almonds that could help improve digestive health by increasing levels of beneficial gut bacteria.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 75
feel life | ALT.HEALTH It’s a reasonably well known fact that while medical science has, for most of last century, been winning the battle against bacterial and viral infections, it’s been losing the war against cancers, heart disease and some of the other lifestyle illnesses now plaguing the west. Whether that’s because of the increasingly frenetic pace of life, or merely because we’ve moved away from natural towards heavily processed foods, no one really knows. But what we do know is that heart disease is now a major killer. For decades, herbalists have been pitching hawthorn as a remedy and preventative factor in coronary care but, like many natural remedies, medical science has been slow to catch on. Perhaps because common plants don’t lend themselves to market exclusivity for the big pharmaceuticals. That’s been a shortsighted view, however, because the secret to commercial and health success can often lie in taking the base herb, and extracting the specific concentrations and ingredients that actually play the role in treating these modern illnesses. Another misconception has been that synthetic drugs are necessarily better than those sourced out of nature. At the end of the day, all medicines and remedies are chemicals. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing mystical about using certain herbs for health, if the bottom line is that particular chemicals in those plants play a key role in fighting disease. In hawthorn’s case, the blend of natural and medical is a new product called Cardiomax, based on a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) extract known as WS 1442. Studies analysed by the American Journal of Medicine showed a significant improvement in heart workload (as measured by exercycle tests) amongst patients taking daily supplements of WS 1442, compared with the placebo group. In 2007, a German pharmaceutical journal reported on another trial where around three quarters of participants taking WS 1442 had noticed a significant improvement in their physical fitness after five to six weeks of treatment. Perhaps one of the most telling studies was a three year cohort trial (Eggeling et al, 2006) comparing NYHA II (stage two heart failure) patients being treated with cutting edge pharmaceuticals, and an identical group being treated just with WS 1442, and a third group getting both the pharmaceutical and the herbal extract. The study found a “drag race” over the 76 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Heart remedy gets the thumbs up The use of a hawthorn plant extract to treat heart disease has been given the tick of approval by a string of medical trials, writes Ian Wishart
first 12 months, with 44.5% of patients on pharmaceuticals-only reporting a “great or very great improvement” in their condition. In contrast, 51.3% of people on the herbal remedy reported such benefits. By the end of the three year study, 54.9% of WS 1442 patients continued to report a great or very great improvement in their health, whilst the number of satisfied patients on ordinary heart drugs had dropped to 41.2%. Disturbingly, patients taking standard medical drugs were three times more likely to report their conditions had worsened. Patients taking WS 1442 were significantly more likely to have improved enough to be downgraded back to NYHA Stage 1 heart disease, while pharmaceutical only patients were more likely to progress to the more serious Stage 3. Given the current climate against natural remedies, and hostility from the Government as it tries to reintroduce a clampdown on herbal supplements, it is
perhaps no surprise that the test results for Cardiomax slipped between the cracks as far as the wider news media were concerned, despite endorsement for WS 1442 by one of Australia’s top cardiologists, Professor David Colquhoun, when he toured New Zealand last year. For kiwis over 40 however, confirmation that the long suspected preventive heart benefit of hawthorn extracts has now been proven in double-blind medical trials, whilst welcome, will only be of benefit for those who actually bother to take the supplements. As always in heart issues, reaching for a remedy after the event tends to be a modern version of Russian Roulette. The studies that show giving someone an aspirin a minute or two after a heart attack for example, are all very well. Provided the attack wasn’t serious enough to make taking an aspirin impossible. With WS 1442 available for around a dollar a day, the old “ounce of prevention” theory may be worth following.
Depression is very disabling - but there is hope! Depression - Recovery & Prevention Seminar Seminar led by
Dr. Grant Mullen, M.D.
Medical Doctor from Ontario Canada who specialises in Mood Disorders
Topics covered include • Causes and symptoms of depression • difference between discouragement and depression • Post Natal Depression • Youth Depression • ADD/ADHD, Manic and Bipolar
August 2008 Seminar Venues: Auckland:
10.30am to 5pm Sat. 2nd Aug. Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Rd., Greenlane,
2.00pm to 9.00pm Tues. 5th Aug. SouthLife Church, 24 Union St.,
Christchurch: 2.00pm to 9.00pm Thurs.7th Aug. City Church Christchurch, 336 Manchester St., Central City
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. The presentation of them here is not intended to diminish the seriousness of the issues concerned, BUT help us see the real need and to work to make a difference.
10.30am to 5.00pm Sat. 9th Aug. Assembly of God Church, 22 Marsden St., Lower Hutt
Venues hired for their access, parking, comfort and proximity to lunch places. Many adults are still wounded children inside.
Registration information on the website www.jubilee.org.nz/flyers Hosted by Jubilee Resources International Inc.
Samples of Dr. Mullens Resources - Books, DVDs and CDs
More resources on
www.jubilee.org.nz/shop INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 77
taste life travel
Time travel Something different: the Galapagos Islands through the eyes and via the quill of Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit
This archipelago consists of ten principal islands, of which five exceed the others in size. They are situated under the Equator, and between five and six hundred miles westward of the coast of America. They are all formed of volcanic rocks; a few fragments of granite curiously glazed and altered by the heat can hardly be considered as an exception. Some of the craters surmounting the larger islands are of immense size, and they rise to a height of between three and four thousand feet. Their flanks are studded by innumerable smaller orifices. I scarcely hesitate to affirm that there must be in the whole archipelago at least two thousand craters. These consist either of lava and scoriae, or of finely-stratified, sandstone-like tuff. Most of the latter are beautifully symmetrical; they owe their origin to eruptions of volcanic mud without any lava: it is a remarkable circumstance 78 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
that every one of the twenty-eight tuff-craters which were examined had their southern sides either much lower than the other sides, or quite broken down and removed. As all these craters apparently have been formed when standing in the sea, and as the waves from the trade wind and the swell from the open Pacific here unite their forces on the southern coasts of all the islands, this singular uniformity in the broken state of the craters, composed of the soft and yielding tuff, is easily explained. Considering that these islands are placed directly under the equator, the climate is far from being excessively hot; this seems chiefly caused by the singularly low temperature of the surrounding water, brought here by the great southern Polar current. Excepting during one short season very little rain falls, and even then it is irregular; but the clouds generally hang low. Hence, whilst
the lower parts of the islands are very sterile, the upper parts, at a height of a thousand feet and upwards, possess a damp climate and a tolerably luxuriant vegetation. This is especially the case on the windward sides of the islands, which first receive and condense the moisture from the atmosphere. The “Beagle” sailed round Chatham Island, and anchored in several bays. One night I slept on shore on a part of the island where black truncated cones were extraordinarily numerous: from one small eminence I counted sixty of them, all surmounted by craters more or less perfect. The greater number consisted merely of a ring of red scoriae or slags cemented together: and their height above the plain of lava was not more than from fifty to a hundred feet: none had been very lately active. The entire surface of this part of the island seems to have been permeated, like a sieve, by the sub-
terranean vapours: here and there the lava, whilst soft, has been blown into great bubbles; and in other parts, the tops of caverns similarly formed have fallen in, leaving circular pits with steep sides. From the regular form of the many craters, they gave to the country an artificial appearance, which vividly reminded me of those parts of Staffordshire where the great iron-foundries are most numerous. The day was glowing hot, and the scrambling over the rough surface and through the intricate thickets was very fatiguing; but I was well repaid by the strange Cyclopean scene. As I was walking along I met two large tortoises, each of which must have weighed at least two hundred pounds: one was eating a piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared at me and slowly walked away; the other gave a deep hiss, and drew in its head. These huge reptiles, surrounded by the black lava, the leafless shrubs, and large cacti, seemed to my fancy like some antediluvian animals. The few dull-coloured birds cared no more for me than they did for the great tortoises. The “Beagle” proceeded to Charles Island. This archipelago has long been frequented, first by the Bucaniers, and latterly by whalers, but it is only within the last six years that a small colony has been established here. The inhabitants are between two and three hundred in number; they are nearly all people of colour, who have been banished for political crimes from the Republic of the Equator, of which Quito is the capital. The settlement is placed about four and a half miles inland, and at a height probably of a thousand feet. In the first part of the road we passed through leafless thickets, as in Chatham Island. Higher up the woods gradually became greener; and as soon as we crossed the ridge of the island we were cooled by a fine southerly breeze, and our sight refreshed by a green and thriving vegetation. In this upper region coarse grasses and ferns abound; but there are no tree-ferns: I saw nowhere any member of the Palm family, which is the more singular, as 360 miles northward, Cocos Island takes its name from the number of cocoa-nuts. The houses are irregularly scattered over a flat space of ground, which is cultivated with sweet potatoes and bananas. It will not easily be imagined how pleasant the sight of black mud was to us, after having been so long accustomed to the parched soil of Peru and Northern Chile. The inhabitants, although complaining of poverty, obtain, without much trouble, the means of subsistence.
“As I was walking along I met two large tortoises, each of which must have weighed at least two hundred pounds: one was eating a piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared at me and slowly walked away; the other gave a deep hiss, and drew in its head In the woods there are many wild pigs and goats; but the staple article of animal food is supplied by the tortoises. Their numbers have of course been greatly reduced in this island, but the people yet count on two days’ hunting giving them food for the rest of the week. It is said that formerly single vessels have taken away as many as seven hundred, and that the ship’s company of a frigate some years since brought down in one day two hundred tortoises to the beach. We arrived at James Island: this island, as well as Charles Island, were long since thus named after our kings of the Stuart line. Mr. Bynoe, myself, and our servants were left here for a week, with provisions and a tent, whilst the “Beagle” went for water. We found here a party of Spaniards who had been sent from Charles Island to dry fish and to salt tortoise-meat. About six miles inland and at the height of nearly 2000 feet, a hovel had been built in which two men lived, who were employed in catching tortoises, whilst the others were fishing on the coast. I paid this party two visits, and slept there one night. As in the other islands, the lower region was covered by nearly leafless bushes, but the trees were here of a larger growth than elsewhere, sev-
eral being two feet and some even two feet nine inches in diameter. The upper region, being kept damp by the clouds, supports a green and flourishing vegetation. So damp was the ground, that there were large beds of a coarse cyperus, in which great numbers of a very small water-rail lived and bred. While staying in this upper region, we lived entirely upon tortoise-meat: the breast-plate roasted (as the Gauchos do carne con cuero), with the flesh on it, is very good; and the young tortoises make excellent soup; but otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent. One day we accompanied a party of the Spaniards in their whale-boat to a salina, or lake from which salt is procured. After landing we had a very rough walk over a rugged field of recent lava, which has almost surrounded a tuff-crater at the bottom of which the salt-lake lies. The water is only three or four inches deep and rests on a layer of beautifully crystallised, white salt. The lake is quite circular, and is fringed with a border of bright green succulent plants; the almost precipitous walls of the crater are clothed with wood, so that the scene was altogether both picturesque and curious. A few years since the sailors belonging to a sealing-vessel murdered their captain in INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 79
When a tortoise is caught, the man makes a slit in the skin near its tail, so as to see inside its body, whether the fat under the dorsal plate is thick. If it is not, the animal is liberated
this quiet spot; and we saw his skull lying among the bushes. During the greater part of our stay of a week the sky was cloudless, and if the tradewind failed for an hour the heat became very oppressive. On two days the thermometer within the tent stood for some hours at 93 degrees (34C); but in the open air, in the wind and sun, at only 85 degrees (29.5C). The sand was extremely hot; the thermometer placed in some of a brown colour immediately rose to 137 degrees (58C), and how much above that it would have risen I do not know for it was not graduated any higher. The black sand felt much hotter, so that even in thick boots it was quite disagreeable to walk over it. We will now turn to the order of reptiles, which gives the most striking character to the zoology of these islands. The species are not numerous, but the numbers of individuals of each species are extraordinarily great. There is one small lizard belonging to a South American genus, and two species (and probably more) of the Amblyrhynchus – a genus confined to the Galapagos Islands. There is one snake which is numerous; it is identical, as I am informed by M. Bibron, with the Psammophis Temminckii from Chile. (17/2. This is stated by Dr. Gunther Zoological Society, January 24, 1859, to be a peculiar species, not known to inhabit any other country.) Of sea-turtle I believe there 80 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
are more than one species, and of tortoises there are, as we shall presently show, two or three species or races. Of toads and frogs there are none: I was surprised at this, considering how well suited for them the temperate and damp upper woods appeared to be. It recalled to my mind the remark made by Bory St. Vincent, namely, that none of this family are found on any of the volcanic islands in the great oceans. The tortoise is very fond of water, drinking large quantities, and wallowing in the mud. The larger islands alone possess springs, and these are always situated towards the central parts, and at a considerable height. The tortoises, therefore, which frequent the lower districts, when thirsty, are obliged to travel from a long distance. Hence broad and well-beaten paths branch off in every direction from the wells down to the sea-coast; and the Spaniards, by following them up, first discovered the wateringplaces. When I landed at Chatham Island, I could not imagine what animal travelled so methodically along well-chosen tracks. Near the springs it was a curious spectacle to behold many of these huge creatures, one set eagerly travelling onwards with outstretched necks, and another set returning, after having drunk their fill. When the tortoise arrives at the spring, quite regardless of any spectator, he buries his head in the water above his eyes, and greedily swallows great mouthfuls, at the rate of about ten in a minute. The inhabitants say each animal stays three or four days in the neighbourhood of the water, and then returns to the lower country; but they differed respecting the frequency of these visits. The animal probably regulates them according to the nature of the food on which it has lived. It is, however, certain that tortoises can subsist even on those islands where there is no other water than what falls during a few rainy days in the year. The inhabitants believe that these animals are absolutely deaf; certainly they do not overhear a person walking close behind them. I was always amused when overtaking one of these great monsters, as it was quietly pacing along, to see how suddenly, the instant I passed, it would draw in its head and legs, and uttering a deep hiss fall to the ground with a heavy sound, as if struck dead. I frequently got on their backs, and then giving a few raps on the hinder part of their shells, they would rise up and walk away; – but I found it very difficult to keep my balance. The flesh of this animal is largely employed, both fresh and salted;
and a beautifully clear oil is prepared from the fat. When a tortoise is caught, the man makes a slit in the skin near its tail, so as to see inside its body, whether the fat under the dorsal plate is thick. If it is not, the animal is liberated; and it is said to recover soon from this strange operation. In order to secure the tortoises, it is not sufficient to turn them like turtle, for they are often able to get on their legs again. The Amblyrhynchus, a remarkable genus of lizards, is confined to this archipelago; there are two species, resembling each other in general form, one being terrestrial and the other aquatic. This latter species (A. cristatus) was first characterised by Mr. Bell, who well foresaw, from its short, broad head, and strong claws of equal length, that its habits of life would turn out very peculiar, and different from those of its nearest ally, the Iguana. It is extremely common on all the islands throughout the group, and lives exclusively on the rocky sea-beaches, being never found, at least I never saw one, even ten yards in-shore. It is a hideouslooking creature, of a dirty black colour, stupid, and sluggish in its movements. The usual length of a full-grown one is about a yard, but there are some even four feet long; a large one weighed twenty pounds: on the island of Albemarle they seem to grow to a greater size than elsewhere. Their tails are flattened sideways, and all four feet partially webbed. They are occasionally seen some hundred yards from the shore, swimming about; and Captain Collnett, in his Voyage says, “They go to sea in herds afishing, and sun themselves on the rocks; and may be called alligators in miniature.” It must not, however, be supposed that they live on fish. When in the water this lizard swims with perfect ease and quickness, by a serpentine movement of its body and flattened tail – the legs being motionless and closely collapsed on its sides. A seaman on board sank one, with a heavy weight attached to it, thinking thus to kill it directly; but when, an hour afterwards, he drew up the line, it was quite active. Their limbs and strong claws are admirably adapted for crawling over the rugged and fissured masses of lava which everywhere form the coast. In such situations a group of six or seven of these hideous reptiles may oftentimes be seen on the black rocks, a few feet above the surf, basking in the sun with outstretched legs. (For more of Darwin’s diary entries from “Voyage of the Beagle”, read it online at www. markcarey.com/galapagos/charles-darwin/)
No place on Earth fills travellers with such a strong sense of the planet’s immense creative forces than the ‘Enchanted Islands’ of the Galápagos Archipelago. If you have a passion for natural history and want to maximise your time amongst the islands, then this is the ideal trip for you.
• We spend more time on the islands than most tours – a full 11 days – allowing you to make the most of everything that the islands have to offer. • Our tours are accompanied by an expert tour leader/biologist with a thorough knowledge of the natural history of the islands, as well as a Galápagos Islands National Park guide. • This trip is also accompanied by Wild Earth programme manager Gill Scott-Douglas. • There will be daily lectures on varied topics such as wildlife, geology, evolution and Darwin. • Our two daily island visits are longer than most tours and our morning visit is usually earlier in the day in order to enhance 22 October 2008 - 4 November 2008 viewing and photographic opportunities. Twin share with private facilities on the • Our 16 passenger vessel is Galápagos owned & operated, so luxury motor launch Tip Top III benefiting the local economy. • Itinerary also includes time in Quito so you can experience the We also have a range of wildlife & cultural pre / post tour options available, so you get the most out of your time in South America. culture and history of South America. South Plaza
www.wildearth-travel.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 0800 262 8873
Other Wild Earth Travel Destinations: Antarctica Madagascar
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 81
taste life FOOD
Easy rider James Morrow finds the Slow Food movement tedious, tendentious – and very, very tasty
We sit at a very odd, very precarious, moment in our civilization’s history. After several centuries which have produced an Enlightenment, not one but two Renaissances, a scientific revolution, an industrial revolution, the wonders of the Victorian age, the marvels of the 20th century, and the putting to rest of the twin totalitarian terrors of communism and Nazism, there is a growing chorus building from within calling out, ‘Stop!’. For a growing number of people, all our successes, all our liberties, are just too much to bear. In Canada, Mark Steyn is in the 82 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
dock for exercising that most cherished of Western freedoms, the freedom to offend. In Europe, the illiberal forces of fundamentalist Islam are driving honest, law-abiding folk to hide under the covers, whether it is the increasing reports of “no-go” areas for Christians in London or the fear of being set upon by Muslim youths now experienced by gays in that once most tolerant of cities, Amsterdam. And across the West the secular religion of environmentalism has taken hold of vast swathes of the population, with well-heeled commentators and politicians acting like
nothing so much as priests and bishops in the corrupt days of the medieval Catholic Church, jetting from place to place while telling the common folk how glorious it is that high gas prices and the humble living that will necessarily follow is all for the good of the earth goddess, Gaia. All that is keeping a modern-day Savanorola from leading us in a new bonfire of the vanities is the problem of offsetting the carbon from all those burning 4WDs and flat-panel TVs. This reaction against all the advances of previous ages is also being felt in the way we eat. “Fast” food is looked at with
the same horror earlier eras reserved for masturbation: a terrible, sinful practice that degrades the body, mind and soul. Never mind that we all enjoy a nice Big Mac now and again. Today the role of Heironymous Bosch, whose oeuvre famously depicted the dangers of eternal hell, is played by the likes of Morgan Spurlock, whose Super Size Me purports to illustrate the temporal hell that awaits all those who fall for the crafty tricks employed by that modern-day Lucifer, Ronald McDonald, to tempt the weak. The only way to slay this beast, to remain pure, is to let only natural, organic, biodynamic foodstuffs pass our lips. The push to nudge the world in this direction comes from many places – never mind that all the Malthusian fantasies of the hard green Left would come true if the world was forced to abandon modern farming methods – though one of the more powerful centres of this neo-Arcadian gastronomy must be the Slow Food movement. Founded by Italian chef Carlo Petrini in the 1980s explicitly as a reaction against “fast” food, the Slow Food movement at first glance has a lot to recommend it. At its best its adherents promote an ethic of eating that is more about base consumption and fueling the body and instead returns the act to being one of celebration of culture and community. “Slow Food” believes in local traditions, local knowledge, local taste, and small-scale production. Which is all very well and good, yet to scratch the surface of the movement is to find real and practical problems around many of the movement’s doctrines. Robust global distribution networks and modern production methods mean that today famine is almost uniformly caused by political, rather than natural disaster, and the variety they create leads to more rather than less culinary creativity. The costs involved, and the restrictions of choice that necessarily attend, Slow Food doctrines means that it is ultimately regressive. And anyway, so much of our modern world is the result of the fact that the work involved in the drudgery of survival has been pared back to allow the development of our highly-skilled economy. But perhaps that’s the point? Perhaps the only thing that saves the Slow Food movement from being consigned to the dustbin (or kitchen bin) of history is that so many of the recipes that count as being “slow food” are so tasty. Such as this simple, slow-cooked recipe for duck ragu with pappardelle. Next month: Culinary adventures in Bali, and a carbon footprint as big as the Ritz
Duck Ragu with Pappardelle This ultimate slow-food classic is best enjoyed on a cold winter’s day You’ll need: 1 large (size 18-20) or 2 small (size 1012) ducks 1-2 onions, diced 2 stalks celery, sliced 1 large carrot, peeled and diced 2-3 400g tins San Marzano tomatoes 250ml good red wine Several sprigs thyme, sage, oregano or whatever appropriate fresh herbs you have to hand 500g fresh pappardelle Method 1. In a large, oven-safe and coverable pan, sear your duck or ducks on all sides until golden brown. When completed, remove
and put aside and drain off some but by no means all of the fat. 2. In this same pan fry off your vegetables over medium heat until tender. Add red wine, tomatoes, and return the ducks to the pan. Cover and place in a low – 150-180 degree – oven for at least two hours. 3. By this point your duck or ducks should be falling off the bone tender. Remove them from the pan and remove all the meat from the carcass, saving the bones for duck stock (you’ll find it will come in handy for next month’s recipe), and set aside. 4. Strain the vegetable and wine mixture into a pan and warm over a low heat. Add some of the vegetables for texture, and return the shredded meat to this sauce. 5. Drop your pasta into a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water. When cooked through, strain and plate with the duck ragu. Serves 4-6, with lots of good red wine. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 83
touch life > drive
Cat on a hot ‘phalt route Larry Printz finds Jaguar’s XKR convertible: exquisite, exhilarating, exasperating
84 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
To paraphrase William Shakespeare (and, much later, Gene Pitney), true love never runs smooth. This famous bon mot best summarizes my week spent with a Jaguar XKR convertible parked in my driveway. The XKR is bewitching, particularly when the top goes down. It retains that allure even when it fails to start. But more on that later. The first morning that I pulled into work - top down, shades on, Chris Isaak singing, “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” - a female co-worker approached the car and said, “I just have to tell you that you look really hot.” And they say clothes don’t make the man. But such is life with this cat. Consider it automotive Botox, a $254,990 face-lift that you can drive.
What we say
True love never runs smooth
Grand touring at its finest
Mysteriously stopped working
Supercharged 4.2-litre V8
Average Fuel consumption
7km/l (20 mpg)
The XKR is the performance version of the Jaguar XK, itself a descendant of such legendary Jags as the XK-120, XK-E, XJ-S and XK8. Like those cars’ strong looks, its beauty is hard to deny, from the gently flowing lines that run from front to back to the aggressive front grille. Jaguar loyalists will see more hints of Aston Martin in the XKR’s styling than traditional Jaguar cues. This is especially true of the vertical brushed-metal trim just aft of the front wheels, a detail nicked straight from an Aston. But styling heritage becomes pointless once you get behind the wheel. To a very real extent, this is one of the finest Jaguars ever made. The XKR takes the XK’s performance and turns it up a notch. While both cars are fitted with a 4.2-litre V8, the XKR boasts a supercharger, boosting horsepower from 300 to 420. The additional horsepower alone is enough to power most economy cars. The XKR moves like a scalded cat. Jaguar claims a 0-100 km/h in five seconds, fast enough to get to the next traffic light quicker than most of your fellow drivers. But this car is more sublime than pure numbers. Just listen to the exquisitely tuned rumble from the exhaust or the delicate whine of the supercharger; this is a symphony fit for Royal Albert Hall. Or appreciate the effortless performance of 420 horsepower, with a six-speed automatic transmission changing gears just when you want it to. (You can shift manually for a more aggressive driving style.) While the XKR will handle most sports car chores, it is not a hard-edged sports car. It can take a corner without fuss, but you can feel this vehicle’s weight. The interior envelops occupants in a sea of leather, wood and metal trim, along with the appropriate luxuries one expects in this class, from nav system, advanced audio system and power everything, to parking sensors and a host of air bags. There’s even a smart key, so the driver never has to remove the key fob from purse or pocket to unlock the car. To start the car, just hit the starter button. To open the trunk, touch the small rubber pad under the trunk lip. It’s all operated electrically. Unfortunately, this is where true love gets tested. Classic Jaguars have long had a reputation for their quirky Lucas electrical systems, one that’s inspired a number of jokes. (My favorite: Why do the British drink warm beer? They have Lucas refrigerators.) But Jaguar has long banished Lucas to the dustbin of history. Recent Jaguars have fared well in reliability surveys because their electrical systems now are built by Denso, a Toyota supplier. So it was a real surprise to find the car stone dead just before returning it to Jaguar. After running through a series of emergency steps to start the car, it seemed like the car had a dead battery. Opening an access door in the left rear of the trunk should have revealed posts for jumpstarting, but there was nothing except taillight wires. Obviously, the owner’s manual wasn’t up to date. Now it was time to find the battery, which isn’t next to the spare tire, as on earlier Jags. Instead, it’s behind a trim panel at the forward end of the trunk. Once recharged, the car started without fail, and some expert analysis at the local Jaguar dealer showed that nothing was amiss. The problem never reoccurred. And while the episode was frustrating, especially considering this car’s $254,990 price tag, it proved that this was a true Jaguar, one that’s easy to love, but occasionally quarrelsome. Aren’t we all? INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 85
touch life > toybox
HDR-CX12 – WORLD’S FIRST CAMCORDER WITH SMILE SHUTTER TECHNOLOGY With Sony’s unique Smile Shutter technology you can capture smiling photos and record video at the same time. When activated the technology will detect and automatically take a photo when your subject smiles − without having to switch to photo mode or press the photo button. It also features child and adult prioritization so you can capture photos when your intended subject group smiles. This camcorder can even detect and capture a smile while in standby mode – just aim the camcorder and you’ll capture smiling moments. In addition to face detection technology, the camcorder is packed with powerful features such as ClearVid CMOS sensor with Exmor – derived technology for stunning video detail and clarity, a BIONZ imaging processor, an advanced Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T 12x optical zoom lens and Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization for smooth video and clear photos. www.sonystyle.com/handycam
Nokia E71 The E71, which replaces the earlier E61i, is a high-speed device with both quad-band GSM and dual-band HSDPA 3.6 cellular wireless, along with WiFi 802.11g, Bluetooth, and assisted GPS. Its main screen is a 2.36-by-320-by240-inch panel, and it has a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back. The E71 runs the Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 smartphone OS, which felt fast and smooth on the sample unit we tested. The new OS version has some attractive interface elements, like fade transitions between menu screens, and you can quickly switch between different home screens for both personal and business use. The E71 also has a roomy 110MB of memory and support for microSD memory cards up to 8GB, for storing music and video files. You can sync over music and video from your PC using the included software, or stream files over the Internet with the desktop-quality Web browser and RealPlayer. The E71 comes in gray and white steel, with a textured back that makes it a pleasure to hold. At 4.5 by 2.25 by 0.4 inches and 4.4 ounces, it slips easily into a pocket. This smartphone will surely be a major hit in Europe. However, it’s unlikely that it will make much of a splash in the U.S., where Nokia will only be selling it unlocked and unsubsidized. As a result, the cost will range from $500 to $700, considerably more than the BlackBerry Bold, Apple iPhone 3G, and other competitors. www.nokia.com [ Source: pcmag.com ]
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Epson Stylus C110 The Stylus C110 is a high-end single function printer designed for home office or small business consumers, as well as personal business users, who demand high performance and high quality printing. The Stylus C110 features Epson’s improved DURABrite Ultra ink which produces sharper black text and up to 50 per cent glossier photos with quality results. The Stylus C110 has five individual Intellidge ink cartridges including dual black inks, meaning users only need to replace the ink cartridges that are used for cost effective printing. With super-fast speeds of up to 37ppm, the Epson Stylus C110 has increased efficiency and with the dual black ink system, users do not need to replace black inks as frequently, boosting productivity. For immediate out-of box use, the Stylus C110 includes a USB cable for a more convenient consumer experience. The Epson Stylus C110 is RRP $179 excluding GST. www.epson.co.nz
Sony Ericsson C905 and S302 The C905 is Sony Ericsson’s first Cyber-shot slider and its most advanced camera phone yet. With an 8.1 megapixel camera and real camera flash amongst its cutting-edge capabilities, it offers easy photo-taking in a phone that derives its looks from a digital camera and offers the picture quality to match. In comparison the S302 Snapshot is for those who want it all at an affordable price – good looks, must-have features and a pocket-sized slim design. “The C905 Cyber-shot and S302 Snapshot have been developed to make us all better photographers! That means making it easier to take great shots and never missing that magic moment.” said Sven Totté, Head of Imaging Marketing at Sony Ericsson. www.sonyericsson.com
Canon EOS 450D The 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor gives you plenty of detail for poster-size prints and extra flexibility when cropping. The EOS 450D captures up to 3.5 frames per second for a continuous burst of up to 53 large JPEG images (6 in RAW). The bright 3.0” LCD provides sharp definition for checking focus and composition, with 10x magnification for finer details. When shooting from awkward positions, Live View mode gives you the option of framing the image from the LCD, and a choice of focussing modes. Renowned for its white balance accuracy, DIGIC III renders colours with brilliant, true-tolife precision. Ergonomically designed for natural and intuitive handling, the EOS 450 is housed in a compact body that weighs in at just 475 grams. www.canon.co.nz
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see life / pages
When dinosaurs ruled the earth Michael Morrisey on literary genius BOOK SELF: The Reader as Writer and the Writer as Critic By C.K. Stead Auckland University Press, $34.99 Where would New Zealand letters be without the large contribution C.K Stead has made over the last fifty years? It would be much the poorer for his absence. Overlapping with the generation of Curnow, Sargeson and part of the same generation as Frame, all of whom he knew well and admired – Stead, along with Kevin Ireland, Alister Campbell and Alister Paterson, are the last of the old guard. Like writers of another younger generation such as Ian Wedde and Vincent O’Sullivan, what strikes one is the almost obligatory wide range of genres Stead has covered – necessary to survive as a writer in New Zealand but also no doubt to express in as richly varied and formal way as possible, a highly active creative mind. Stead has been, still is, a poet, short story writer, novelist, critic, essayist and editor – the only form he has not tackled is theatre. And perhaps, following in the footsteps of Witi Ihimaera, there is an operatic libretto waiting to silently screech its way out? Stead’s life has had its theatrical if not operatic moments. He was an active protester in both the anti-Vietnam War and antiSpringbok eras and was once arrested for political protest. He has been a controversial figure in that he has had differences of literary ideology and outright quarrels with probably more writers than any other author. Stead is certainly never one to back down from a good literary punch up and rather than seeing these as petty squabbles (some might be so described), I think it livens up the literary scene which might be a mite duller without them. It would be out of place for me to comment on the various anti-Stead stories I have heard. However, I do think the one controversy that he spends some time dealing with in this essay collection – the matter of the purchase of the London flat for writers – is one in 88 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
which his version looks believable. In any case, it was a good idea that was misguidedly squashed. I also believe that a certain reflex anti-Stead feeling came to the fore over this issue particularly with a certain group of Wellington writers. And it must be asked why was the slenderly talented Ms Kidman given a Damehood and the considerably more talented Stead not given a Knighthood? Was it just a reflection of dirty Wellington literary politics, an example of the Wellington peein-the-politicians’ pockets crowd feathering their sordid little nests yet again? Like the Pope standing firm against contraception and homosexuality, Stead has not followed the all but universal (ie American) acceptance of the French post structuralists like Derrida, Barth and Foucault, and stuck to his rather old-fashioned literary Englishflavored aesthetic not to mention Orwellian clear prose – also characteristic of English criticism. This style has both advantages (clear, easy to understand) but disadvantages – sometimes Stead can seem a bit ponderous and plain – one thirsts for a more cutting aphorism, a sharper wit. With Curnow gone, Stead has had an almost too easy dominance of the local scene. With well-formed English connections (A.S. Byatt, London Review of Books contributor et al) to back him up, he has been in the enviable position of being able to survive attacks that might have disabled or destroyed a less well-protected if not insulated figure. Many a death ray has been deflected by the formidable Steadian force field. Yet also, and I must do some overdue shin-kicking here, Stead’s reputation as a poet has been viewed through a distorting magnifying lens – he has written one superb poem as a young poet, “Pictures in a Gallery Undersea” but much of the remainder of his considerable output (I have not read his most recent work) has bordered on pastiche and possessed little verve or originality. In other words, Stead has been on cruise mode for much of his poetic career and no one seems to have noticed – or at least no one had the impudence to say
so. Until now. Let it be said one superb poem can take a lifetime to produce – I’ve only produced one such myself (well, at a stretch two) and I’m not overly noted for self modesty. I view Stead’s fiction with a more generous eye. His first novel, Smith’s Dream was so politically apposite, it led to a famous film – yet as a novel it was a very slight work indeed. All Visitors Ashore, his second novel, was a minor masterpiece – his finest work I believe – and will survive and could well wind up making his reputation more than any other work. Other notable works in the Stead fictional canon – which increasingly seems stronger than the poetry – include The Singing Whakapapa, The Secret History of Modernism and I Was Judas. These novels I believe are more substantial achievements than his poetry oeuvre. Is C.K. Stead our local Thomas Hardy who always mistakenly valued his poetry over his fiction? Stead’s list of the New Critics which includes the likes of Allen Tate, I. A. Richards and R.P. Blackmur might well have included himself though Stead is a lesser figure. It is also rather odd to read Stead airily dismissing eminent American critic Harold Bloom for declaiming his Olympian Western canon (Moses on the Mountain is the actual Steadian comparison), when Stead is more or less our own version of Harold Bloom making Olympian statements right here in Aotearoa – an excellent antidote to the poststructuralist relativism that allows the instructions on the back of a bus ticket to possess the same gravitas as a paragraph of Dostoyevsky. Stead should have perhaps noted that the main omission from the Bloomian canon was Allen Curnow, while alive very likely the greatest poet writing in English. Like Bloom, Stead also dislikes fashionable left wing ideologues who seek to find political affirmation in literature rather than literary and aesthetic excellence. Bloom is a contemporary Yankee-enhanced version of F.R. Leavis (whom Stead was influenced by – and weren’t we all fifty or more years back?). Personally, I am attracted to grand canons as a necessary foil to more fashionable Feminists, Afrocentrists, Marxists, Foucault-inspired New Historicists or Deconstructors which Bloom quite rightly (pun?) describes as the School of Resentment. Stead is very much our local Bloom which in a left-handed way he admits in a provocative footnote. This brings to mind (to switch back to Stead’s defence), the notion that Stead’s actual phrasings are often more subtle and less provocative than his critics and adversaries give him credit for. But in the neo-Bloomian sense, Stead is a dinosaur (an appellation once thrown at me by that triceratopian academic Mark Williams). Alas and alack, dinosaurs (Bloom, Stead, myself ), despite possessing very large teeth, are destined to pass from this earth. Soon the Internet will run our culture and the Steads and the Blooms will be as distanced from the current literary zeitgeist as Ruskin or Arnold. And damn it, Karl, I will, in some sense, lament your passing. At least, you have tried to save us from being swamped by the cavernous maw of the Now – but like Bloom, you should have gone that extra mile. Give us your canon (or your cannon) and don’t bother with grapeshot.
The most impressive essays then, in this diverse collection, are the longer ones such as his reflections on Branch, Curnow and Sargeson while the shorter ones such as the tribute to Auckland academic Elizabeth Shepherd (whom most people would never have heard of ), are somewhat slighter, though to be fair, that is sometimes the consequence of writing a piece to a publication-tailored length. The fine classic essay on “Wystan to Carlos: Modern and Modernism in New Zealand Poetry”, the first overview of the Freed group of poets, is printed here again. The diary excerpts of a writer’s literary life are less than gripping, which was disappointing. But overall, the collection has an impressive range revealing a wide knowledge of literature and is worth reading. FROM POVERTY BAY TO BROADWAY: The Story of Tom Heeney By Lydia Morin Hodder Moa, $39.99 My father often spoke of Tom Heeney and his brothers though alas I cannot recall any specific detail. But he knew them – a personal link to an important chapter of our sports history. Some years back – along with many such schemes that never quite made it to fruition – I decided to write a novel about all but forgotten boxing legend Tom Heeney who fought Gene Tunney for the world heavyweight title in 1928. I began reading about him in the newspaper clipping folders of one of Auckland’s old boxing halls. But somehow never got started on it. Now Lydia Morin has magnificently filled the gap with this enthralling biography. Curiously, instead of being jealous that Morin had done factually what I tentatively begun to research fictionally, I felt pleased and grateful. At last, someone was telling Tom’s untold story. It turned out to be far more thrilling and significant than I had expected. Heeney was a natural for boxing – strongly built, determined and capable of absorbing an “inhuman amount of punishment”. All that was lacking, some said, was the ability to throw a knockout punch. But there was a good reason for that apparent “lack” – earlier in his career a man was killed in the ring because of Tom Heeney’s fists. At the time, it was regarded as one of those unlucky fluke events. But, not long after, Tom nearly killed a second man. Though many view boxing as merely brutal, it was at the time – and may still be – regarded as a good way for aggressive men to let off steam and also as a way to stop pigheadedness, perverseness and cocksureness growing “into a vice”. Such qualities were thought to be especially prominent in Irishmen! So wrote Hugh Heeney, Tom’s father. Heeney, of course, was Irish (as was my father). Whatever one makes of such a theory, Heeney was a gentleman out of the ring and always fought fairly in it. He lost fights now and then but steadily moved up the boxing ladder until he became the obvious candidate to challenge the great Gene Tunney who had twice bested the famous Jack Dempsey, the second occasion involving the infamously debated Long Count. While Heeney was said to be a man of culture who read Shakespeare, and a scientific boxer, Heeney was cast in a rougher more down to earth mold – a tougher than tough slugger. The epic title fight covers over 60 pages and yet not a word (or a punch) is wasted. In a fight that might suggest the model for fictional Rocky Balboa’s early career, Heeney took a terrible beating from Tunney, yet never gave in. The referee stopped the fight in the eleventh round. What added horrible spice to the fight was the rumor that Tunney had “thumbed” Heeney’s eye – an allegation that made the INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 89
champion very angry. Later, the story was denied. It seems unlikely that a boxer of Tunney’s calibre would have needed to stoop to such tactics. Like many boxers before him, Heeney unwisely fought after his peak and paid the penalty in more losses. If his defeat by Tunney was sad, Heeney’s story had a happy ending. The retired kiwi all-but-champion-of-the-world, bought a bar in Miami and was befriended by Hemingway who admired the “hard rock from down under” as Heeney was often called. When the cheeky Hemingway tried a Sunday punch, Heeney downed the famous writer with a left hook. Heeney must have had a skull made of iron, as he never suffered brain damage from his fights and lived to the ripe old age of 86. RIP, Tom – they must have broken the mold mate, after they made you. DEVIL MAY CARE By Sebastian Faulks Penguin, $37 Lads of my generation grew up with the James Bond books and movies. The books stopped with Ian Fleming’s death but the movies continue – each one seemingly more flamboyant than its predecessors. Now Sebastian Faulks, a rather literary sort of fellow rather than a thriller writer – and do the two have to be exclusive? – has written another in the series. The authorial subtitle informs us Sebastian Faulks is “Writing as Ian Fleming” just in case anyone thought the usually high brow Faulks had had a lapse in literary taste. It must be admitted Faulks has made a damn good fist of resurrecting Bond in 1967 complete to the clothing, drinks, cigarettes and gun details that were the hallmarks of Fleming’s best-selling books. There wasn’t enough time – and I felt a but uneasy about so doing – to re-read an old James Bond just to make sure the new pastiche was as good as it seems to be. I cheated by taking out Dr No – the first of the numerous Bond films for which I have an irrational fondness and partly just to see and hear once more for the first time Connery say, “Bond – James Bond,” – maybe the finest bit of cinema cool ever. One of the notable characteristics of Fleming’s villains was their physical freakishness. So here is sinister Dr Gorner (who plans to arrange nuclear war for Britain) with a monkey’s paw – a sort of hairy misshapen simian hand lacking an opposable thumb. This means the thoroughly nasty Dr Gorner can’t grip with it – just as well. Otherwise he might use it to strangle beautiful heroines like Scarlett Papava. There is also the obligatory duel in sport – this time it’s tennis which the no longer so cool nor so dapper Bond manages to win (though never without a struggle because, as we know, villains always cheat). Doesn’t it make you long for the good old early Bond days when villains were so recognizable? A hairy misshapen hand for instance, would make it a lot easier to spot terrorists. Though I enjoyed Faulk’s deft addition to the genre, I was left wondering what exactly was the point – to prove it can be done? We are told it was to mark Fleming’s centenary. I suppose that is as good a reason as any. And don’t forget the Bond books and money are closely linked – they have sold over 100 million copies – small beer compared to J.K. Rowling – but a large pint of frothing Guinness compared to most authors. At least one Bond film – and may we presume Devil May Care will be filmed? – has been seen by over half the globe. Which can only mean “shaken but not stirred” must have currency almost everywhere except in the remote regions of New Guinea. 90 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
THE FINDER By Colin Harrison Bloomsbury, $37.99 Though Harrison has only published six novels I consider him the best thriller writer working today. Readers who might like to sample Electric Bodies which put Harrison on the thriller map back in the 90s, or Manhattan Nocturne or The Havana Room and the book under review may hopefully discover why I hold him in such high regard. Like E.L. Doctorow he is fascinated, even obsessed, with that most cosmopolitan of cities – New York, Whereas Doctorow looks at New York’s past, Harrison focuses on the now. And like his first book Electric Bodies, his books still have a sizzling voltage. Most thrillers have a slightly trashy feel. The writers go for pace, violence, lurid but banal description – they are all action and little else. Their attempts at psychological depth seem shallow. But with Harrison we get excellent dialogue, real characters, real feelings plus a complicated plot and rigorous research not to mention all the trappings of the thriller including sharp doses of very nasty violence. Proving that you know your subject is something American writers often excel at – even to the point of showing off. The only English writer to approach Harrison’s fascination with realistic detail is Ian McEwan in his fine novel Saturday. Of course it doesn’t mean that English writers are shallow – they just don’t place so much emphasis on minute even arcane detail. The Finder is centered on illegally manipulating the stock exchange. I won’t pretend I can follow the extraordinary detail Harrison gives us – quite simply, it is over my head. Mind you, I have never owned a share stock or bond in my life. Bill Martz, a small time billionaire, has been robbed of about $100 million and he believes he knows the culprit, unscrupulous Tom Reilly. They are both bad eggs (and why don’t we make that evil eggs?) as is Chinese Chen chasing his missing sister who is convinced Shanghai will soon overhaul New York as the world’s leading city – and I fear he is right. In a book in which everyone seems bad or an unscrupulous schemer or both, it is nice to encounter the good guys – mainly ex911 fireman Ray Grant and his still able to think, though Dilaudinmuddled ex-detective father, dying of cancer. The scenes between Ray and his father are among the most moving and tender in the book. The compulsorily beautiful heroine is Jin Li, a young Chinese woman – a survivor of murder by excremental asphyxiation – is caught in the crossfire. I found this book unputdownable (though one has to eat and go to the toilet occasionally) but a shade too complicated in its plot and alas the ending is rather hurried with too many, too short, too snappy chapters. Maybe Harrison’s publisher bullied him into a quick ending? Nonetheless, despite this reservation, I strongly recommend either reading or buying it for at for a bloke (blokes like thrillers) – he’ll thank you for sure. MICHELANGELO AND THE SISTINE CHAPEL By Andrew Graham-Dixon Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $53 Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci are the dominant figures of the High Renaissance. I was originally so stupefied by Leonardo’s great range of ideas that I rated him much the higher
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genius of the two. Many still believe this, though possibly with less intensity than in earlier times. There have been attempts (some them quite vicious) to demote Da Vinci, the genius, to a sort of dabbler-dilettante who never finished very much – this view was expressed by Michelangelo himself in a recent TV biopic I saw. Not being a Michelangelo expert, I’m not sure how literally true this is – but I suspect it is accurate. In this film version, Michelangelo mocked Da Vinci for failing to finish any of his giant sculptural projects whereas he – Michelangelo – had just completed a 17foot high statue of David – now, and probably for some time to come, the most famous, and some would say, the most magnificent work of human sculpture ever produced – a view espoused by Michelangelo’s biographer, Vasari. Ironically, Michelangelo himself failed to produce the full version of Pope Julius II’s tomb – a task absolutely beyond the work of one man – even if a life time had been devoted to it. Let it be noted, that Michelangelo was a writer of great sonnets and later in life a great architect. But where does the indomitable Florentine stand on painting prior to that supreme challenge, the Sistine chapel? In the Michelangelo version, he was a lone completely untutored genius, who knew nothing about painting, had no help whatsoever, yet produced this astonishing and vast tableau, inspired largely by the Old Testament. The trimmed down more historically correct version is somewhat cut back to a human scale – Michelangelo did an apprenticeship in painting, had therefore learnt painting technique and did have help. Nonetheless, as this fine book makes astonishingly clear in depth, his achievement – despite the slight diminishing of heroic aloneness – still borders on the superhuman. There is, in my view, no one who could be compared to Da Vinci or Michelangelo today – and unlikely to be due to contemporary specialisation. Michelangelo once famously said he had no friends and didn’t want any – he just wanted to get on with his work. Now, of course, this all-work-and-no-play statement has prompted the theory that Michelangelo suffered from Asperger’s syndrome (as apparently did – maybe – Einstein, Socrates and Jane Austen). Yawn, yawn. A million Aspergers (or hamburgers) do not one Michelangelo make. We are left now with the full colour-restored splendour of the Sistine Chapel – a process and accomplishment approved of by Graham-Dixon. The Sistine Chapel is one of those compulsory artistic experiences I’ve yet to enjoy (though I have seen David!). As Graham-Dixon deftly argues, our over exposure to the work makes us overlook (that is if we ever knew) how revolutionary it was in its day. This was, if you like, religious pop art – this was Andy Warhol in the sixteenth century (my outrageous comparison, not Graham-Dixon’s). In this grand work, Michelangelo changed the direction of painting. For instance, we see God the Father flying – an astonishingly vital expression of weightless heavenly energy. But also, Graham-Nixon informs us, a contemporary descendant is that continually airborne comic hero, Superman. This little gem of graphic connection both surprised and delighted me. That such a sublime work could influence comic art four centuries later! Michelangelo’s work was of course, justifiably and understandably seen as an affirmation of Christian values and the Catholic faith to which he belonged. Time may well enhance its spiritual as well as its painterly impact – which has already illuminated our minds for 500 years.
see life / music
Greatest hitters Billy Idol, Coldplay, and Willie Nelson’s latest collaboration captivate Chris Philpott Billy Idol Idolize Yourself It’s easy to understate the real importance of Billy Idol to the music scene in the 80’s, given his fall from popularity during the 1990s. It’s easy to forget that – collaborating with guitarist Steve Stevens – he almost made punk-rock sexy and cool and, thanks to several well-produced videos, was one of the earliest stars of MTV in the US. Not bad for a kid from Middlesex, UK. Idolize Yourself: The Very Best of Billy Idol covers all of the peroxide blonde singers’ hits, from 1981’s worldwide smash “Dancing With Myself ” to the early 1990’s sound of “Shock to the System” and “Speed”, and includes two brand new tracks (“New Future Weapon” and latest single “John Wayne”) to boot. The only real problem is, the songs themselves sound incredibly dated, making it hard to separate Idol’s work from the elements of cheesy 80s punk-rock that formed the basis of his sound. Tracks like “White Wedding”, worldwide number 1 “Eyes Without a Face”, “Hot in the City” and “Rebel Yell” are almost cringe-worthy compared to current rock standards. Of course, it’s entirely possible that element of “I can’t believe I used to listen to this” is enough to make Idolize Yourself value for money. Coldplay Viva La Vida It would be fair to say that Coldplay’s latest album has been highly anticipated for a while – both by fans of the group, and by a large number of critics who panned their last release, 2005’s X&Y. So does it meet the hype? Listening through, the first thing noticed is that Viva La Vida is a lot different from their previous stuff, and probably about as edgy as Coldplay are going to get. Produced by wunderkind Brian Eno, of Roxy Music fame, it holds an edgy, minimal sound 92 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
throughout, experimenting with various instruments and styles to create something altogether unique. Chris Martin keeps his vocal work in a lower register to avoid the high-pitched, falsetto style which has been a staple of their work, with first single “Violet Hill” demonstrating the difference immediately, as Martin’s melancholic drawl flows over a driving bass/drum rhythm, and a peppering of distorted guitar. Title track “Viva La Vida” and personal favourite “Cemeteries of London”, with its traditional sounding vocal/drum lines, and a string of great songs to close the album, cement Viva La Vida as undoubtedly Coldplay’s best work to date, and probably one of the better pop-rock albums of the year so far. Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis Two Men With The Blues It’s not often that two legends of music team up to create an album together – other recent examples include Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – so when Two Men With The Blues, a live performance featuring country legend Willie Nelson and jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, hit my desk, I was understandably intrigued. Recorded live at the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, billed simply as “Willie Nelson Sings the Blues”, the album came about through a combined love of jazz and blues shared by Marsalis and Nelson, and grew from there. Starting with the fast-paced honky-tonk of “Bright Lights Big City”, and moving through 10 tracks including Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and “Georgia on my Mind”, to the wonderful conclusion of Nat King Cole’s “That’s All”, Two Men With The Blues is a gorgeous album. Nelson’s southern drawl lends itself well to the material, while Marsalis’ unique, engaging trumpet style and sound provide a perfect backbone to this collection of jazz and blues standards. The production is worth mentioning too, proving once again that phenomenal live shows can certainly translate into phenomenal albums, and making Two Men With The Blues an almost perfect record.
Gabriella Cilmi Lessons To Be Learned
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Let me start by saying this: the first thing I heard about 16 year old Aussie prodigy Gabriella Cilmi was that she was “the new Amy Winehouse”, and ordinarily I would have been calling a bomb disposal unit for any album which drew that comparison. Listening through Lessons to be Learned for the first time, its fair that the comparisons to Winehouse are notto completely Millionstoofsaypeople use ScanSoft PaperPort turn piles of paper into organised digital documents. At work unfounded – first single “Sweet About Me” is oozing with– the and at home we are inundated with paperwork receipts, bills, letters, tax information, memos, investment Brit’s trademark jazz-pop style but listening a little deeper andkeeps piling up. statements, contracts… You– name it, the paperwork the differences become clearer. PaperPort things.than It’sthird the track best“Sanctuary” tool available to make your all-in-one device or scanner easier and more efficient to One simplifi need goes no further or highlight ® Now” to see that Cilmi sings with a Want ToMicrosoft Go To Bed use. “Don’t It enhances Windows with large clear thumbnails of over 150 document and photo formats you can print, rangeand and share. variety that stretches far beyond her years. organise That said, Lessons comes across as really no more than a pop End the frustration for paper digital documents by searching for words inside your files with the exclusive All-in-One record designed of to looking fit the current trend,or and therein lies the prob™ Search timeacoustic and have the security of knowing that lem,. asSave track after soul-infused track inexplicably starts to important documents and photos will never be lost. PaperPort is perfect for your homebecoming or smallinane office. youbystart using PaperPort you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. melt into each other, and Once repetitive the time it reaches its conclusion. I wasn’t exactly calling a bomb disposal unit by the time I was done, but after starting out with a hiss and a roar, Lessons ultimately disappointed this reviewer. Flight of the Conchords Flight Of The Conchords Billing yourself as New Zealand’s “fourth most popular comedy-folk duo” might seem like a strange way to introduce yourself to a picky American market, but for Flight of the Conchords – the infamous Kiwi combo featuring comedian Jermaine Clement and former Black Seeds singer Bret McKenzie – it has proven a surprising path to success – and after winning a comedy Grammy award for their debut EP The Distant Future, the stage was set for the Conchords to release their debut full length album. It would 11 be fair to say it was one of the most anticipated Kiwi PaperPort releases of the year, both here and internationally. Your scanner companion Yet, despite my initial concerns, the Conchords have managed PaperPort® 11 is the easiest way to turn piles of paper and photos to add an element of catchiness to their catalogue of humourous into organised PDF and JPEG files that you can quickly find, use and tracks, and this album features both live performance staples like share. “Hiphopopotamus vs Rhymenoceros”, the groups’ riotous rap PaperPort produces perfectAbout scansIt”, every time with the pushofoftracks a button. parody, and “Think alongside a number that Your documents displayed as small on a unique visual featured onare their well-received TVthumbnails series, including my personal desktop for fast browsing. favourites “Bowie” and “Business Time”. Flight of theofConchords hilarious fromdocuments start to finish, but is also End the frustration looking forispaper or digital by searching legitimately enjoyable on a musical level, making it one of finfor words inside your files, with the exclusive All-in-One Search™.theSave est Kiwi albums of 2008. Make sure you don’t miss this one. time and have the security of knowing that important documents and photos will never be lost.
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With over 25 studio albums to his credit, it seems like Neil
The Nuance Communications product range is available through your usual computer software reseller. Nuance also makes Diamond has been around literally forever. But surprisingly enough, it easy and affordable for you to equip every member of your team with PaperPort Professional 11: special pricing applies it more seems like The Basher is producing some of his finest work. for 10 or licences.
Withsales@mistralsoftware.co.nz a back catalogue that or includes classics likereseller “Cherry Please contact your usual computer for further information. Cherry”, “Song Sung Blue” and “Sweet Caroline”, combined with a signature style and sound, one could imagine it would be
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 93
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Need to get smarter Colin Covert finds Get Smart sticks too close to its roots, and Love Guru just toilet humour without the humour Get Smart Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson Directed by: Peter Segal Rated: PG (for violence) 110 minutes Is it praise or criticism to call a movie competent? That’s the term that best describes Get Smart. It revives the old TV franchise with the same slapstick derring-do and lightweight comedy that tickled audiences in the waning days of the Cold War. It’s less a reboot or a re-imagining than a rerun. On balance, it’s not great, not bad. If you smile at the memory of Maxwell Smart’s “would you believe” shtick or the Cone of Silence, there’s a lot in the film that will please you. Should you expect a fresh, imaginative take on spy comedy, however, the movie will be about as appealing as a reheated TV dinner. Steve Carell steps easily into Don Adams’ shoe-phone as Smart. He’s a master at layering stiff, deadpan dignity on top of ineptitude, which is the perfect mix of attributes for the would-be superspy. As the film opens, Smart is an analyst for CONTROL, a secret government agency still engaged in its decades-long struggle against the nefarious forces of CHAOS. He’s a master at detecting important information in mountains of intercepted chatter. He even knows what it means if a CHAOS agent orders a muffin with his coffee: yearning for comfort food indicates stress. But (as in real-life Washington) no one reads intelligence 94 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
reports. Naturally, Max longs to be a swashbuckling field agent. When the identities of CONTROL’s operatives are exposed, the inexperienced Max is named Agent 86 and paired with veteran Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). She is not at risk because she recently had plastic surgery to change her appearance. She confesses that she also asked for a more youthful look (the better to make Hathaway a suitable romantic foil for Carell, who is 20 years her senior). The pair set out for Russia, looking for yellowcake uranium in – where else? – a Moscow bakery. The film is scripted and directed by Hollywood mid-listers who do a passable job. Screenwriters Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (of the limp Matthew McConaughey romcom “Failure to Launch”) keep the story moving along smartly but don’t approach the surreal flights of imagination that sometimes graced the TV series (which was created by comedy legends Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, after all). Director Peter Segal apparently decided that fat people are automatically funny when he made Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. He repeats the lesson here with flashbacks to a grossly overweight Max and a ballroom dance sequence that recalls the ballerina hippo from Fantasia. The supporting players keep the film’s comic energy elevated. Kiwi Dwayne Johnson brings a larger-than-life swagger to the role of heroic Agent 23. Alan Arkin is warm yet irascible as the Chief, James Caan contributes a brief, entertaining turn as the president, and Bill Murray tosses off a goofy, underplayed cameo as ever-camouflaged Agent 13. With comic resources like this, Get Smart should have been a hoot, not just satisfactory. Missed it by that much.
The Love Guru Starring: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco Directed by: Marco Schnabel Rated: M ( for ffensive language and sexual references) 86 minutes With Austin Powers and Shrek, Mike Myers has given us two of the most memorable comic personalities in years. The Love Guru won’t be so indelible. As Pitka, America’s No. 2 Near-Eastern Self-Help Expert, he is not quite a one-joke character, and the film itself is a shapeless rag bag of gags. It’s zany but too aimless to leave a lasting impression. Pitka, an American child raised in an ashram alongside his boyhood rival Deepak Chopra, is a perennial also-ran in the enlightenment racket. He has a spirituality superstore in the Hollywood hills with his name in neon, but without an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he’ll never top Chopra’s fame. The solution to his problem comes in the form of a poorly integrated plot tangent. The owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jessica Alba) offers Pitka $2 million to treat the team’s star (Romany Malco), who can’t score following a breakup with his wife. Not only will it be a tidy payday, explains Pitka’s avaricious manager (The Daily Show’s John Oliver), it’s guaranteed to get him on Oprah.
If comedy is talked about in terms of delivery, Myers is in a league of his own. No other film star reaches out to the audience with such a stockpile of winks, leers, eye-rolls and double-takes. In Myers’ comic universe, the fourth wall is a window shade that can be snapped open for a second and pulled shut again in a flash. But no amount of mugging can salvage a collection of scattershot jokes clothes-pinned to such a slender plot. It’s one thing to parody a cowboy or a detective or a spy, but is there a cultural consensus on what’s funny about Third World spiritualists? Emoting full force in a rajah’s beard and wildly embroidered costumes, Myers never creates a distinctive identity. Justin Timberlake, hiding behind a porn star mustache and an ear-bruising Quebecois accent, makes a stronger impression as Malco’s hockey adversary and romantic rival. In place of a clearly defined central character, the film offers us a barrage of bits that feels more relentless than inspired. Some hit home. Verne (Mini-Me) Troyer plays the Maple Leafs’ hot-tempered hockey coach, and a meeting in his private office triggers a half dozen uproarious visual gags. There are some good-humored spoofs of Bollywood musicals that raise a smile. But too many other jokes rely on the limited comic possibilities of elephant dung, sixth-grade sexual innuendo, and celebrity cameos. The appearance of a cross-eyed Indian guru isn’t inherently funny except that it’s Ben (Gandhi) Kingsley playing the part. As they might say back at the ashram, this is a sari excuse for a comedy. Reviewed by Colin Covert INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008 95
see life / dvds created Babe, the talking pig), and director Jay Russell (of Tuck Everlasting and My Dog Skip). The adventure builds to a thunderous, rather fright-filled climax, but young viewers will be relieved that everything ends happily. Parents are likely to be pleased, as well. The Water Horse captures the spirit of fantasy that never quite rings true in The Golden Compass and is so superior to another children’s movie currently in theaters, Alvin and the Chipmunks, that they could have originated in different galaxies. Reviewed by Colin Covert
Waterhorse a winner But reviewers aren’t so sure about Daddy Day Camp The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Starring: Alex Etel, Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin Directed by: Jay Russell Rated: PG for some action/peril, mild language and brief smoking 112 minutes The Loch Ness Monster meets Free Willy in The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. The film is what family entertainment ought to be but so rarely is: a ripping good adventure, a parable about childhood and maturity, and a romp. The film is framed as a tale told to a couple of tourist kids by Scots raconteur Brian Cox, recalling a fable from his childhood in World War II. The story centers on young Angus MacMorrow (nicely played by Alex Etel, the star of Danny Boyle’s similarly delightful Millions). The boy’s father has gone off to war and won’t be returning. Angus’ mother (Emily Watson) frets over the boy’s difficulty in accepting his loss, but just when he most needs a friend he finds one in a remarkable form. An odd-looking rock that Angus brought back from the seashore turns out to be an egg that hatches a sweet, scrappy amphibian dinosaur with webbed flippers and Shrek ears. Angus secretly raises the creature in the spare bathroom’s tub. Boy and beast bond and the animal, which Angus calls Crusoe, creates all manner of ruckus in the family’s mansion. Ben Chaplin arrives on the scene playing a gruff but kindly handyman, and David Morrissey completes the other half of the good father figure/bad father figure equation as a stern military man on the lookout for German submarines. Meanwhile, Crusoe grows by leaps and bounds and relocates to nearby Loch Ness, where he could be mistaken for an enemy U-boat by the army’s artillery squad. The story is light on its feet but grounded by some substantial ideas, coming as it does from a novel by Dick King-Smith (who 96 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM August 2008
Daddy Day Camp Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro and Tamala Jones Directed by: Fred Savage Rated: PG (bodily function humor, language) 99 minutes Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin must be the smartest men in the entertainment world. The actors had enough brain cells to know that their Daddy Day Care was an unexpected hit in 2003. That meant pushing the premise for a sequel made about as much sense as wearing a meat bathing suit in a pool of piranhas. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Rae must be the dumbest men in entertainment. Gooding adds the Daddy Day Care sequel, Daddy Day Camp, to a resume that includes Rat Race, Boat Trip and Norbit. These awful efforts have come along since he picked up the best supporting actor Oscar for his work in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire. All actors make one or two mistakes. These four movies bring a rancid smell to Gooding’s career that he’ll have trouble getting rid of. How could anyone take pride in a film with a plot that has been done so many times before and been done much better? Charlie Hinton (Gooding) learns that the day camp he attended as a young boy has fallen into disrepair. It is on the verge of being shut down by the fancy camp next door. In a bonehead move, Hinton buys the camp. He and Daddy Day Care buddy Phil (Rae) throw all of their energy and money into bringing the camp back to its previous glory. This leads to a challenge by the snobs at the neighboring camp for a head-to-head competition. The movie struggles to reach the obvious conclusion. The familiar trek would have been more tolerable if the movie had one decent joke. The script is nothing more than one bodily function gag – and I mean that literally – after another. There is more vomiting in this movie than at a seasick sufferers’ convention. Gooding’s reputation is not the only one that takes a hit. This is the directorial debut of Fred Savage, who starred in the television series The Wonder Years. Savage is so clueless about film comedy he can’t recognize a repulsive scene when he sees it. The best example is the attempt to get laughs out of a grown man walking around in his underwear in front of a group of pre-teens. There is a line between being tastelessly funny and being tasteless. Daddy Day Camp is a mess. Gooding would rather mug for the camera than actually act. The film’s young stars don’t have the talent to be cast in a fifth grade Christmas pageant. And the script is uninspired and lacking a single bit of humor. Follow the lead of Murphy and Garlin. Be smart enough to skip this painful film. Reviewed by Rick Bentley