Helen Clark • ANZUS Secret • Forgiveness • Muslim Britain
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Contents 42 26
26 Absolute Power
Helen Clark is on the ropes. For the first time in more than a decade there’s open talk of a leadership coup. And with the imminent release of an explosive new book on the PM and her government, the pressure can only be building. IAN WISHART analyses the likelihood of a palace coup
30 The ANZUS Treason
New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy has become iconic, but a new investigation suggests the policy was masterminded from Russia. BERNARD MORAN & TREVOR LOUDON have the details on who was yanking Labour’s chain
42 The Power to Forgive
Sorry seems to be the hardest word, but it can save you a fortune in shrinks and pills, according to a scientist at the cutting edge of researching “Forgiveness”. MARK JOHNSON has the story
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s hat-tip to Islamic sharia law sent shivers through Western democracies. SELWYN PARKER takes a first hand look at the Islamification of Britain
54 A Wolf At The Door
Here in NZ, the Prime Minister’s department invited a man named as one of the most “dangerous” Islamic radicals in the world to give policy advice on migrant issues. IAN WISHART has the incredible story
You’ve got the firewall and antivirus software. But it turns out you are the weakest link in your computer’s security. RYAN BLITSTEIN explains how to beat the latest bugs
Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point
Volume 8, issue 87, ISSN 1175-1290
16 Simply Devine
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft
gies and the mums who own them
NZ EDITION Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org
The roar of the crowd
Miranda Devine on “4WD” baby bug-
18 Straight Talk
Mark Steyn on Hillary Clinton
20 Eyes Right
Richard Prosser on crying Wolf
22 Line 1
Chris Carter’s smacking policy
David Clemow on oxygen
Lifestyle 64 Money
Peter Hensley on beating the bust
Amy Brooke on illiteracy
The solar system
70 Technology Mac’s cool Air
Chris Forster on pro-cricket
John Fauber on freeze therapy
Mary Jo Layton on autism
Britain’s hidden treasures
James Morrow on ducks
84 Drive Volvo’s V70
The latest and greatest
Michael Morrissey’s autumn picks
Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Design & Layout
Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302188, North Harbour North Shore 0751, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft Advertising email@example.com Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983 SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: www.investigatemagazine.com By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 NZ 09 373 3676 By Post: To the PO Box NZ Edition: $72 Au Edition: A$96 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax. Investigate magazine Australasia is published by HATM Magazines Ltd
Chris Philpott’s CD reviews
Definitely Maybe, Bonneville
Elizabeth, We’re Here to Help
Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic
Cover: NZ Herald/Presspix
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 39
> focal point
Tides in the affairs of men…
here is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the which judges to hire, which to promote, which to overlook. flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their The Greens were also partners in crime on the retrospective life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full Harry Duynhoven legislation. Now Harry’s a nice guy, don’t get sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when me wrong, but his election to parliament after the 2002 vote was it serves, or lose our ventures.” illegal because of citizenship irregularities. Thus sayeth The Bard, old Bill Shakespeare 400 or so years ago. The law is the law is the law. Politicians, contrary to Helen Clark’s But as we head into the most hotly contested election this decade, personal belief, are not above the law merely because they consider there is room for contemplation by those to whom it applies. their purpose “altruistic” and “for the good of the community”. On the one hand we have Helen Clark, the woman Margaret Pull the other one. Politics is about the exercise of power, and Thatcher might have been if she hadn’t been a Tory. While Clark if your majority is under threat because of an electoral irregularhas known an ebb tide or two in her long political career, she ity you should pay the price. Especially if you’re the party that floated in on a rising tide in 1999 and seemed to miss the outgoing later rams through draconian anti free-speech laws to try and boat every time voters tried to offer her a ticket after that. squash the public. Part of the problem is MMP. Like a mangrove swamp, MMP The Greens sold out their manifesto yet again by supporting the chokes the political beach, trapping flotsam and jetsam so that the Government on the hated Electoral Finance Act. The Greens, after rubbish stays far too long, The swamp feeds on the rich nutrients all, have previously stated that constitutional issues must go to a that dribble out of taxpayers’ purses, and pretty soon there are public referendum. But apparently your right to express an opinmosquitos and other nasties ion in election year is not a sucking beachgoers dry. right, it’s a “privilege”. And Don’t give them a mandate to sell if you interfere with the If voters are sensible at this year’s election, they’ll treat it as “rights” of politicians to your soul to the highest bidder in a referendum on MMP, the one steal your tax money to pay the Labour Government said for their election expenses, return for baubles you were not allowed to have. God help you. By leveraging support from any So in an ideal world this politician who can be bribed (yeah, go ahead, laugh), the major par- election, voters will realise that to get a meaningful election result ties have realised that they can technically remain in power forever, they will have to throw their party vote behind one of the major simply by stitching the biggest deals after the event. parties. Labour is fighting for its life and risks being annihilated. Minor parties will of course try to maintain the line that they National needs every party vote it can get to avoid being held to won’t say who they’ll partner up with until the voters have dished ransom by small parties, and of course will benefit from Rodney out the mandates. Hide’s presence for Act in Epsom. There is a tide in the affairs of Great, play the minor parties at their own game. Don’t vote for men, and this year it is John Key’s for the taking, provided he can them. Don’t give them a mandate to sell your soul to the highest convince the public that press gallery journalists won’t take him bidder in return for baubles. by surprise. It’s early days, he’ll harden up. It really is that simple. If you want to clean up a mangrove There is every sign, however, that Clark’s tide is sweeping out to sea swamp, the first step is to eradicate the mangroves. When they’re again this year. Whether the cry of lonely gulls will take her to the gone, the tide will finally be able to suck out the electoral baggage United Nations if she loses, who knows, but it promises to be one of you never wanted anyway. the most intense election campaigns we’ve seen in decades. Any minor party without an electorate seat in this election is a risky vote. Even the Greens are fluctuating below the 5% threshold on occasions. The Greens are also some of the worst offenders when it comes to propping up corruption. They supported Labour in ramming through the abolition of the Privy Council, leaving New Zealand’s courts under the complete control of a very strong government. The Government, after all, is the entity that decides INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
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> vox populi
The roar of the crowd YESTERDAY’S SCHOOLS
I can precisely identify the moment when our young were cast adrift to grow into a population of people who don’t know or can’t do anything (Richard Prosser, March 2008). It was the implementation of Tomorrow’s Schools under the Labour Government in 1989 and the years that followed. That represented the final nail in the coffin. If we go back earlier, it wasn’t uncommon for children to have a teacher who knew war. Not only could they tell you how to kill a man, but they probably had themselves. I had teachers that had been wounded and lost limbs. I recall once mentioning to my father that one teacher seemed to be a bit far fetched to be brought swiftly back into line. It turned out that my father had served in the same theatre as that teacher and whatever he had to say on the subject was entirely accurate. Teachers who know the realities of the World carry with them a certain dignity and authority. Over time they have been replaced by staff who don’t have that kind of experience. Back then, primary and district high school properties were managed wholly by Education Boards. They employed professionals accomplished in the task; architects, quantity surveyors, draughtsmen and tradesmen. Schools were not pretty. Form followed function. What went on in the classroom was ruled over by the Department of Education and their Inspectorate. No pussy footing around there either. What went on between the ears was paramount and teachers who couldn’t do the job were dealt with. The school committees performed an auxiliary role. Then the Education Boards were scrapped. The venerable Department became the Ministry and ERO. Schools were handed the keys and Boards of Trustees given wider powers. Initially enthusiasm made up for any shortcomings. However as the demands of modern day life increased, the pool from which to recruit Trustees became narrower. School management was left in limbo with little help in the practicalities. Schools became ruled by parents with a narrow agenda and followed whatever the latest trend was, while teachers were held captive in their isolation. The Ministry and ERO swanned around papering over any cracks that appeared. So there we have it today. Small interest groups pushing their barrow, incompetent or poorly trained management, and a distant oversight function uninterested in what goes on between the child’s ears. What took over 70 years to create has taken less than 20 years to destroy. Ken Horlor, Christchurch
I’d like to congratulate Amy Brooke for her well-written article on education, in the January 2008 issue of Investigate. Nevertheless I am concerned that the compelling style and overall high quality of her writing could discourage some readers from questioning the accuracy of some of what she has written. This would be regrettable. There are many bold assertions in Brooke’s contribution, and I shall describe some that are more problematic. First, she dismisses Foucault (and two other French authors) as mad pseudophilosophers, largely on the ground that their alleged adherence to postmodernism means that they are and were out of touch with something approximating the real world. While my own academic allegiances have not included adopting postmodern philosophies in my research, writing, and teaching I still believe that writers with different perspectives deserve respect; from their contributions our own intellectual vistas can be expanded and changed in important respects. Second, Brooke’s suggestion that politically Left-leaning “intellectuals” are dedicated universally to mediocrity and state funding, and are firmly wedded to postmodernism, is seriously mistaken – unless her claim is based on the results of a national survey of New Zealand academics. (I am unaware of such a survey, but that does not mean one may not exist.) Otherwise, on what grounds can such a connection be made? Why, for instance, link the provision of state money directly to mediocrity? Why not, instead, link private enterprise with inefficiency? I would have thought that TV1’s Fair Go programme has furnished abundant evidence over several decades to support such a connection. My experience, of teaching and researching in many tertiary institutions in and beyond New Zealand for almost three decades, has convinced me that associating the political Left with postmodernism, mediocrity and (perhaps) a lack of initiative is mischievous and fallacious. The one example that Brooke provides (p.64) does not a case make! It is interesting that Brooke claims Chesterton’s work “never featured in the universities.” To what era is she referring? Does Brooke mean in and across every New Zealand university? Is this observation based on a detailed survey, for instance, of the offerings of every New Zealand English Department over, say, a 40 year period? Moreover, it is possible that the twentieth century English writers who were “homosexual, alcoholic... [and] antiwar” were discussed in at least one university English Department because their work had long been marginalised or ignored, in the considered opinion of some English academics. If this is so then I believe their stance deserves praise, not derision. I am at a loss to understand why Brooke makes concerted attacks on “the Left”
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
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throughout her article? This group seems to be culpable for nearly every perceived human and/or societal ill. Brooke confidently declares that using slovenly language is a present characteristic of “intellectually-derelict, governmentappointed education apparatchiks with their foolish (and worse) theorizing...”, before claiming that “politicized educational ideology was inflicted in full force from...the 1960s.” In my experience the majority of government appointed education organisations or committees and, indeed, reports issued by the Ministry of Education, tend not to use slovenly language. In more recent times they have been written by professional report writers, who are generally conversant with good written expression. This, however, does not mean that what is written is necessarily sound educationally, a point which Brooke has acknowledged. There are numerous instances of an uncritical, official adoption of cargo-cult thinking in such documents, but the Ministry of Education does not have a monopoly over this type of thinking. It is readily apparent in both public and private sector discourse, at least for those among us who are willing to identify and critique it. As an educational historian I would like Brooke to indicate to me when, in New Zealand, there has not been a politicized educational ideology. Education, ipso facto, is a politically charged activity: it involves issues and debates about power, prestige, persuasion, institutional access, philosophies, and so forth. Furthermore, if such an ideology gathered considerable momentum from the 1960s then Brooke might like to note that a National Party was in office from 1960 until 1972, and then again from 1975 to 1984. Presumably then, National has such an ideology. In what way(s) was it distinct from that of Labour? Brooke’s claim that Dr C.E.Beeby’s appointment as Director of Education in 1940 “[sowed] the seeds of the attack on standards of literacy” reveals a profound misunderstanding of policies and practices of the Beeby era (1940 to 1960). If she had read H.G.R. Mason’s Education Today and Tomorrow (1945) – written by Beeby – and Beeby’s own writing, the Thomas Committee Report (1944), Frank Milner’s writing, as well as numerous accounts of this period, then I believe Brooke would come to appreciate that her statement is difficult to substantiate. The article goes on to say that in New Zealand there has been “[an] attack on excellence in teaching and thinking,” as if to suggest that such excellence (whatever it may entail) had been achieved earlier. At what stage was this alleged excellence in teaching and thinking a dominant feature of New Zealand’s formal education? When precisely, was this golden age, and what led to its demise? Who led this “attack”? (The reader is led to presume, once again, that “the Left” was the culprit.) In my extensive reading of historical literature in education I have yet to discover a golden age. Perhaps I have been reading the wrong literature? Brooke is on very slippery ground again when she proudly declares that “openly avowed neo-Marxists of the Left” have succeeded in gaining “near total control of education directions” (p.65). She appears to be entirely unaware of the so-called “education reforms” in and beyond the 1980s, changes that included inserting a business and commercial orientation into the school curriculum, the promotion of outcomes to the possible detriment of people’s personal education journeys, the uncritical acceptance of a globalisation agenda, the promotion of Asian langages primarily for trade reasons rather than for gaining genuine cultural and historical insights into other nations, and suchlike. These “reforms” were manifestly non-Marxist: indeed, they were antithetical to any10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
thing remotely Marxist. I can only presume that Brooke was not resident in New Zealand when these changes were being made, otherwise she would have identified them. If this is not so then I am unable to understand how “neo-Marxists” can be blamed for the alleged decline in what counts as “knowledge,” in standards of accountability, and in the quality of the curriculum. We should begin to look to the work of the radicals” and their determination to apply commercial, business, and market thinking and practice to schooling and education. At the end of her contribution Brooke states that the political Left has long sought to “[control] our education bureaucracy.” By inference, the political Right have never set out to exercise such control. Given the number of years post-WW2 that a National Party has occupied the Treasury benches compared to the Labour Party, Brooke’s assertion is clearly problematic. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the political Right were intent upon ‘controlling bureaucracy’. Furthermore, when she uses the term “a genuinely well-educated public”, what does Brooke have in mind beyond competent thinking and language use, important as these undoubtedly are. Brooke asserts at the end of her article that “accountability is overdue.” Precisely whose version of accountability is being contemplated, and to whom should it be directed? Is Brooke suggesting that state schools need to be more accountable because private ones always are? If she believes that there has been no “accountability” in the state schooling sector in particular then Brooke is unfamiliar with the substantial historical literature on New Zealand education that demonstrates convincingly that accountability – even when defined narrowly in terms of so-called standards of attainment – has been a major feature of our primary schooling system since at least 1878; later, in the case of secondary schools. This research literature is readily available for public consumption. Dr Gregory Lee, Associate Professor of History of Education, University of Waikato Amy Brooke responds:
Dr Lee is Associate Professor of Policy Cultural and Social Studies at Waikato University which itself has come under fire for producing more radicalized graduates from its courses than other institutions of higher learning. Whether this is the case or not is debatable. However, his department’s use of “Aotearoa/New Zealand” would suggest a radicalized perspective on education. His buckshot attack on my education column of January 2008 is too long for me to provide a detailed reply. However some outstanding points need to be addressed. Dr Lee’s defence of Foucault and his essentially deranged theories is not surprising. Shockingly, adherence to the discredited notions of postmodernism is constantly evidenced in the literature of both recent papers and books from New Zealand educationists. He objects to my dismissing Foucault on the grounds that writers with different perspectives deserve respect. This is feel-good thinking. On the contrary, only if their contributions are coherent: if they aren’t, they don’t. Michael Foucault’s pedigree, on his own admission, as the British historian Paul Johnson points out, centres on his admiration for Nietzsche and the Marquis de Sade. He regarded madness as a form of knowledge, and “espoused a relativism, which rejected any superiority of civilization over savagery, or of democracy over totalitarianism.”* His underlying Marxism, apparently endorsed by our education bureaucracy, “saw education in terms of power in relation to authority figures, maintaining that human relations are dominated by the struggle for power; that right and wrong, truth and falsehood are
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 11
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delusions; that there is no such thing as benevolence. He several times tried to kill himself; experimented with LSD; visited sadomasochistic clubs in California; boasted of the enormous pleasure experienced after being hit by a car and finally died from an AIDS-related illness.” *INVESTIGATE September, 2007.” How much respect do we owe his “perspectives”? Dr Lee’s claim that politically left-leaning intellectuals are not dedicated to mediocrity flies in the face of the advocacies of those neoMarxists in our education establishment whose edicts resulted in the dumbing down of what is actually taught; the phasing out of academic disciplines and rigour in our schools; and the attack on external examinations in the name of the travesty of “equality of outcome” – seeking to remove the supposed advantages of those from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Therein lies the rub: the politicizing of education to achieve aims quite apart from those of higher learning has equated to a demonstrably left-wing influence over a demonstrably undereducated population. The evidence is there in the literature I have read and reviewed for well over 30 years. It is also there in our young – primary, post-primary and school leavers I have taught and still do – whose shocking ignorance of even basic literacy, grammar and analytical skills, let alone good speech standard, are now well- known to us all. Except, apparently, Dr Lee and other locked-away educationists, seemingly completely out of touch with today’s classroom realities – and with the problems of dealing with bored, empty-headed adolescents with nothing to show, intellectually, from all their years at the mercy of academics’ ethereal politicizing. Lee’s abandoning of the real issue of education quality and standards is evidenced in his attack, instead, on private enterprise. If his assessment of the importance of this freedom is confined to what he sees on Fair Go, one can only despair. His claim that my associating the political Left with postmodernism is “mischievous and fallacious,” shows a curious disjunction from his welcoming Foucault’s “perspectives” – and one can only question his unawareness of the body of literature arguing against genuine, nationwide assessment and that quest for excellence which postmodernism has repudiated and undermined in the name of relativism. I would be delighted for Dr Lee to produce evidence that G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, John Masefield, Rudyard Kipling, Walter de la Mare and other great English writers and poets were given the place they deserved in the English departments of our universities – let alone Eileen Duggan and other New Zealand poets considerably superior to those featured – but whose lives were apparently not eccentric or deviant enough to be of interest. I am intrigued by Dr Lee’s claim that government departments do not use slovenly language. On the contrary, jargon-ridden, impenetrable writing is characteristic of these bureaucracies, not always due to actual incompetence, but also with the aim to disengage the reader by that use of jargon – to discourage actual thinking. In regard to the politicization of education, here, Dr Lee’s contention shows the change in the perspective of many educational theorists this last century, when he claims inaccurately, that there has never not been a politicized education ideology. This in itself indicates how much of the original aim of making standards of excellence available to all – regardless of race, gender, gender, class or economic background (once the ambition of fine and liberal thinkers) has been abandoned. And no, no genuine equality of opportunity is now involved at that crucial primary school level, where basic competencies are too often any longer acquired, even in reading and writing, and arithmetic, while educationists concentrate on politicized issues and outcomes. It is such theorizing – as black educationist Marva Collins pointed out – which
is part of the problem. Her call was for teachers to stop the incessant theorizing and to just teach, a view now unfashionable – not among good, besieged teachers – but among the education politburo. Contrary to Lee’s view, Dr Beeby is on record with his endorsement of Dewey’s damaging “progressive” education theories; his repudiation of our links with a rich British heritage in favour of a myopic concentration on a lesser, New Zealand-focused culture (one only, instead of both); his intention to phase out external examinations; his efforts to channel Maori into vocational-only courses, and other initiatives that dismayed fine teachers all over the country. Dr Lee writes: “The article goes on to say that in New Zealand there has been “[an] attack on excellence in teaching and thinking,” as if to suggest that such excellence (whatever it may entail) had been achieved earlier. At what stage was this alleged excellence in teaching and thinking a dominant feature of New Zealand’s formal education? When precisely, was this golden age, and what led to its demise? Who led this “attack”? (The reader is led to presume, once again, that “the Left” was the culprit.) In my extensive reading of historical literature in education I have yet to discover a golden age. Perhaps I have been reading the wrong literature?” It seems so. A vastly superior vision of what quality education could provide for all children, regardless of status and income factors, and designed to make standards of excellence available to all, was evident in the primary school syllabus of 1904. Acknowledged as “the great syllabus,” it was largely the work of George Hogben, the Inspector General of Schools and later New Zealand’s first Director of Education. The syllabuses of 1928 and 1946 were largely in the same tradition. The rot set in with the New English Syllabus of 1961 following the Syllabus of Reading in 1952, with two much longer books entitled, “Suggestions for Teaching English in the Primary school,” directing teachers towards interpreting the new syllabus. Far from containing clear statements of the aims to be specifically followed in teaching the language, it used today’s vagaries, such as that pupils “should have some idea of…” etc. It advocated social promotion, or what Emeritus Professor Dr Margaret Dalziel, a lifetime friend of Karl Popper, called “social retardation, in its bog of platitudes and relativism.” She described this new syllabus (and the cloned offspring it produced) as an enormous failure of responsibility, much of it nonsense, with an exaggerated emphasis on the importance of feeling. Space limitations prevent further analysis of the ensuing attacks on quality education, but yes, it was a golden age which Dr Lee appears to have missed, when primary school children, although leaving school unable to advance to secondary level, were almost universally able to read, to write grammatically, and to manage complex arithmetical formulae which many school leavers and university undergraduates today simply cannot. Moreover, training colleges’ academic standards in the 20s and 30s were regarded as on par with the universities in their rigour, and turned out many fine teachers later horrified at the downgrading of their profession. Dr Lee writes: “Brooke is on very slippery ground again when she proudly declares that “openly avowed neo-Marxists of the Left” have succeeded in gaining “near total control of education directions”. Dr Lee misuses the word “proudly”. However, I agree with him here insofar as the political interference of the far Left, essentially neo-Marxism in education directions, while predominant, has not been the only detrimental influence. I hold no brief for the far Right in its attempts to establish business-orientated studies that replace far more important subject matter. However, functionally illiterate New Zealanders cost the country a great deal in terms of a grossly undereducated workforce, let alone a population too brainwashed by the INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 13
political theorizing of an “Aotearoa”, issue- ridden substitute for genuine education. Its repudiation has been replaced by a fascist form of environmentalism, and the encouragement of feminism, homosexuality, the promotion of inappropriate sexuality, and other forms of state indoctrination of New Zealand children on social issues. If Dr Lee really has no idea what is involved in a quality education “ beyond competent thinking and language use, important as these undoubtedly are” or of the fact that these skills were deliberately phased out, rather than promoted, then it would take too long to enlighten him here. Moreover, his version of “accountability” occupies another world from that of parents, employers and undergraduates embarrassed by their own lack of knowledge, after so many wasted years; of primary school pupils passing into secondary school, although unable to even read competently; of New Zealanders at large who can’t demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy skills nor acceptable speech standards; who are extraordinarily ignorant, historically and philosophically; too little civilized – even boorish – underschooled in analysis, with no standards of evaluation or comparison to challenge the decisions made for them on the issues of the day; and who not surprisingly, feel humiliated, unconfident or resentful because of this. Lee’s “accountability”, apparently does not embrace the empty minds of the intellectual and moral wasteland now occupied by our rootless youth relying on drugs and alcohol, TV violence, computer games and nihilistic pop music to fill the mental vacuum of little learning of any genuine importance. The great English columnist Bernard Levin’s vision was of education reform not being possible until all the over-funded and superfluous educational establishments of the universities and teachers colleges were destroyed – only he used a much more vigorous metaphor. The real problem, as he well identified it, continues to lie with political interference in education by those who have their own axes to grind, and the thin air of too many educationist theorists.
LOVE LABOUR’S LOST Prime Minister Helen Clark’s dismissive response to a legitimate and democratic protest march against the flawed Electoral Finance Act is deeply ironic. “The problem with silent protests is that no one listens to them” she intones, while both the Labour Party and her own popularity rapidly descends towards the Opposition benches come the 2008 election, as the electorate becomes deaf to the Labour Party status quo. What the Prime Minister fails to realise is that while she continues to snigger at Democracy, it will be the drivers of the democratic process (the voters) who will have the last laugh. I therefore predict that her somewhat adolescent and ultimately cruel sense of humour will not be able to adequately sustain the result of her regular bombast, hype and hubris – being sacked with a smile and a wave goodbye on election night. Steve Taylor, Auckland
I just felt I had to let you know of the mistake particularly after someone phoned me very concerned about it. Interesting stories! Mary Dillon, Via email
POLICE RAID At 7:00 am this morning, a total of 12 police detectives and officers barged into my home to execute a search warrant. They seized computers, phones, my wallet, legal papers, cameras, digital recorders, clothes and countless other items. While no warrant was shown, the search warrant – signed by a deputy registrar with the district court – claimed they were looking for evidence related to my possessing a copy of the Police Affidavit in the illfated terrorist raids last October. Police took both myself and my wife from the bedroom where we had been sleeping and immediately forced us to sit in separate rooms where we could not see or talk to one another. Our 13 year old daughter was cloistered with my wife. For more than 6 hours we were prevented from showering, answering our phone or otherwise having free access to our home. When we realised the Police had no right to detain us in the manner they had, I left the house – but was not allowed to take my car. BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID! If you want to know why the Solicitor General has taken this heavy handed and unlawful assault on my family and property, please refer to www.kiwisfirst.co.nz. Vince Siemer, MBA, Editor, Spartan News Limited on-line NZ news: www.kiwisfirst.co.nz
Power and Control Our government are three star Fascists. Their agenda is power and control. The new Carbon Trading Bill gives them enormous powers to control us even more, confiscate land, controlling how we build homes and run our lives. Massive bureaucratic intervention, heavily increased taxes and costs of living … all based on unproven theories (not facts) about global warming. It’s insane! Second, while our health system is becoming third-world, miserly Cullen controls a massive $10billion of our money from the highest tax rates in the western world (PAYE + GST) … plus double the tax rakeoff from higher petrol prices. Yet grizzles he cannot give tax cuts. Third, having censored criticism of our own government Clark declares at a press conference in Christchurch: “the latest incidents in Fiji were a disturbing turn of events. Democracy of course involves elections but it also involves freedom of media and freedom of speech and you’re not going to be able to have a proper democratic process and elections in a year’s time unless those basic freedoms are upheld.” (NZ Herald) You figure what we need to do at elections. D Shuker, Whangaparaoa
ERRATA I am writing regarding a story in the latest Investigate magazine on page 37 written by Richard Waugh. My brother was on the Cessna which failed to return from Big Bay on August 16 1978. I had a phone call the other day from a local Riversdale man to inform me that there was a story about missing planes in this magazine and they had got my brother’s name wrong. It should read Grant Sutherland, His full name was Gordon Grant Sutherland, which is probably where the mistake came from. 14 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 15
> simply devine
The oversize baby buggy problem
he idea that the breakdown of manners leads to a gen- ger and more elaborate the pram the more cachet attaches to its eral sense of entitlement finds its ultimate expression in the pusher. The worst are the all-terrain “jogging” prams with their form of one Julie Mackenzie of Marrickville, proud owner huge wheelbase and annoying tendency to make you trip over the of an enormous double pram. front wheel in the local cafe. While there have been few sightings The mother of twins went public last month with her plight - of mothers jogging with such a contraption, they do have the State Transit will not allow her to bring her gargantuan buggy onto capacity to carry an enormous amount of shopping. its low-floor buses via the rear door, and the pram won’t fit down They are a scourge, used like a weapon to gain priority on the the aisle. So she cried discrimination, and State Transit began an footpath, and manoeuvred kamikaze-style into traffic. Some mothurgent investigation so as to “resolve this issue in favour of moth- ers seem to think that because they are pushing a pram everyone ers and babies”, a spokeswoman told the Herald last month. else has to part the Red Sea for them. Mackenzie, 44, said the only way she could get her 11-month-old Just what a nuisance they have become on buses can be seen daughters on a bus was to hand them to passengers through the by the heated discussion Mackenzie’s case prompted on the interfront door, fold up the pram, reassemble it in the rear wheelchair net bus forum on the Australian Transport Discussion board, frebay and retrieve her children, a process that would take several quented by bus drivers and bus fans, thrashing out the pressing minutes, which you bet would thrill commuters. issues of our time. While you can sympathise with the transportation challenges So unwieldy are the new mega-prams drivers have dubbed faced by Mackenzie and the them A380s, after the widemothers of young twins genbodied Boeing Airbus, and The worst are the all-terrain erally, there is just no excuse bringing them on board a for the existence of prams so bus is like landing a helicop“jogging” prams with their huge wide they can’t fit down a bus ter on an aircraft carrier. aisle. Twins have been around “The unpleasant side wheelbase and annoying tendency effect of the low-floor bus for a long time, and mothers of yesteryear managed to haul is the odious phenomenon to make you trip over the front them around without inconveof the A380 pram and the niencing the rest of the world. often horrible people that wheel in the local cafe In New Zealand buses used are pushing them,” wrote to have hooks on the front to “Bus Fahrer” last month. accommodate prams, which would then dangle over the road in an “…basically the ‘accessible bus’ has become a battle ground for undignified but practical way, while mothers and babies sat inside. the convenience of the belligerent perambulator set who demand The authority was yesterday still reviewing its safety audit of that those seated get out of the way so that they and their troupe the 75 offending Scania low-floor kneeling buses to work out how of snotty nosed ankle biters and employment bereft partners have best to accommodate big strollers. “We are hoping to resolve the free space when ever and where ever they demand.” issue in favour of the mother,” a spokeswoman said. “Our aim is A bit harsh, but that’s the view from the front line, echoed in to increase patronage … Just because someone has a large pram colourful language on the discussion board. shouldn’t mean they can’t catch a bus.” Such rancid social interactions are hardly the stuff of cohesive But really, how feasible is it to invite mammoth prams to clog societies. But just as buying the biggest, most traffic-unfriendly already overcrowded buses? 4WD is a recipe for road rage, so too is choosing the equivalent The rise of the baby buggy behemoth rivals the four-wheel-drive giant pram, provoking ripples of resentment and hostility in a feedphenomenon. Big, unwieldy, selfish four-wheel-drives have been back loop of payback discourtesy. Whether it’s prams or 4WDs, hogging the road in increasing numbers for a decade. Now the coarse language in public, not standing up on public transport for equivalent in prams, costing as much as $5000 apiece, are hog- pregnant women and the elderly, tailgating, queue-jumping, or ging footpaths, shop aisles, cafes and buses. In certain circles, sta- burping loudly, the social norms of politeness are fraying. tus attaches to the right Bugaboo, with leather seats, carbon-fibre The Sydney etiquette expert June Dally-Watkins, who has been frames, alloy wheels and disc brakes de rigueur. The pricier, big- instructing us on the finer points of courtesy and deportment for 16 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
The rise of the baby buggy behemoth rivals the four-wheel-drive phenomenon. Big, unwieldy, selfish four-wheeldrives have been hogging the road in increasing numbers for a decade. Now the equivalent in prams, costing as much as $5000 apiece, are hogging footpaths, shop aisles, cafes and buses
more than 50 years, blames a decline in civility for increasing the petty frictions of daily life. “We need manners because we are human beings,” she said yesterday. “We’re a cut above the animal kingdom … Good manners means being thoughtful, kind and considerate towards all others.” Without them, she says, “the human race is going to go downhill”. In a civilised society, courteous people make accommodation for each other. But as courtesy disappears we lose more than a few fine words or superfluous chit-chat. Good manners are not artifice and hypocrisy but the oil that lubricates society, the small rules that regulate our behaviour and negate the need for more laws which curtail our freedom.
If enough mothers with prams find no kindness from strangers as they struggle to move around the city, for instance, they will have no choice but to become belligerent and demand ambit entitlements for fear of being marginalised. You can’t really blame them. In a world in which everyone thinks they have the right to trample on the rights of everyone else, and it is considered a sign of weakness to allow someone to push in front of you in traffic, no one can understand that not everyone can be No. 1. The meek may inherit the world one day, but without good manners to protect them in the here and now they only get flattened in the rush to be top dog. email@example.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 17
> straight talk
The rise and fall of the Clinton empire
n the day that Margaret Thatcher was toppled by her him and the stage, and the Democratic activists out in the hall were own party, I ran into an old friend, a hardcore leftist play- beginning to figure they could get dinner and a movie and still be wright, Marxist to the core, who wasn’t as happy as he back in time for the last third of his walk-on, they were nevertheshould have been. He jabbed me in the chest. “You bas- less still cheering. In effect, President Clinton dared them not to tards on the right!” he fumed. “You wouldn’t even let us be the cheer. Tom Jones wouldn’t have risked it. Engelbert Humperdinck ones to drive the stake through her heart.” would have balked. But, after eight years of talking the talk, Bill I’m sure in America’s Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy there are simi- walked the walk. In the hall, the delegates’ hands were raw, bleedlar mixed feelings this week. The Clintons have met their Waterloo ing stumps, but the Slicker knew that if he started his entrance in but it’s not some doughty conservative warrior who gets to play Idaho those Dems would cheer him every step of the way. Duke of Wellington, only some freshman pap peddler of liberal The Clintons turned the Democratic party into a star vehicle boilerplate whom no-one had heard of the day before yesterday. and designated everyone else as extras. But their star quality was Such are the vicissitudes of politics. I see from the gay newspaper strictly comparative. They had industrial-strength audacity and the Washington Blade that, as the headline writer put it, “Clinton a lot of luck: Bill jumped into the 1992 race when A-listers like Leads Among Gay Super Delegates.” Only in the Democratic Mario Cuomo were too cowed by expert advice that Bush Snr. party. I don’t know how many supergays it takes to outvote the was unbeatable. Clinton gambled, won the nomination and beat non-super primary and caucus voters from Maine to Nevada to a weak opponent in a three-way race, with Ross Perot siphoning Hawaii. They may yet pull Senator Clinton’s chestnuts out of votes from the right. He got even luckier four years later. So did the fire, but they’re looking Hillary when she embarked pretty charred and indigestible on something patently The Clintons turned the right now. Unlike the Fall of absurd – a First Lady runThatcher, it’s nothing so glamning for a Senate seat in a Democratic party into a star vehicle state she’s never lived in – orous as an act of matricide, but just the nightly hell of a only to find Rudy Giuliani and designated everyone else as tired vaudeville act that can no going into instant publonger find the spark. lic meltdown. The SAS, extras. But their star quality was Bill Clinton understood a Britain’s special forces, have crude rule of show business a motto: Who dares wins. strictly comparative – that, if you behave like a The Clintons dared, and star, there are plenty of peothey won – even as almost ple who’ll treat you like one. The apotheosis of this theory was his everyone else in their party lost: senators, congressmen, governors, interminable ambulatory entrance down mile after mile of cor- state legislators. Even when they ran into a spot of intern trouble, ridor at the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, when sheer nerve saw them through. Almost anyone else would have Slick Willie finally out-Elvised Elvis – or, more accurately, out- slunk off in shame, but the Clintons understood that the checks Smarted the opening sequence of Get Smart. Apparently, no-one and balances don’t add up to much if you’re determined not to had thought to tell him to try to get within four miles of the stage go: As at that 2000 convention speech, they dared the Democrats before the introductory video ended. He was, by my calculations, not to cheer. outside the men’s room on Corridor G27, Sub-Basement Level 6 With hindsight, the oral sex was a master stroke. Bill Clinton of the Staples Center. As he began the long, long, lo-oo-oo-oong likes to tell anyone who’ll listen that he governed as an “Eisenhower televised walk to the podium the crowd watching the monitors Republican,” which is kind of true – NAFTA, welfare reform, etc. cheered – and, 20 minutes later, after he’d strolled down the first If you have to have a Democrat in the Oval Office, he was as good three or four windowless tunnels of attractive luminous drywall, as it gets for Republicans – if you don’t mind the fact that he’s a hung a left by the water cooler, taken the emergency stairs, cut draft-dodging non-inhaling sex fiend. Republicans did mind, of across the stationery closet, moved smoothly through the boiler course, which is why Dems rallied round out of boomer cultureroom and had still only reached the Coke machine on Sous- war solidarity. But, if he hadn’t been dropping his pants and appealMezzanine Level 4 and there was at least a mile and a half between ing to so many of their social pathologies, his party wouldn’t have 18 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
She knows she would make the better president, but every time she tries to explain why it sounds prosaic and unromantic
been half so enthusiastic for another chorus of “I Like Ike.” Hillary is what the Clintons look like with their pants up. Their much-vaunted political savvy turns out to be a big nothing: The supposed masters of “the politics of personal destruction” can’t turn up anything better on Obama than some ancient essay from his Jakarta grade school, plus a few limp charges of plagiarism. And instead of getting the surrogates to crowbar the enemy every time Hillary opens up on him she looks mean and petty and he gets to do his high-minded Obamessiah routine. Their star quality was also, as noted above, mostly a giant bluff. In his heyday, Bill could channel his narcissism into a famously sure “common touch” – he liked to bask in proof of his awesome empathetic powers. But, in the years since he left the Oval Office, he’s played too many gazillion-dollar-a-plate jet-set dinners in France and Switzerland, and the “common touch” has curdled. That was plain even by the 2002 midterms, when you could more or less correlate Democratic losses by his travel schedule. He’s a bust on the stump. And, worst of all for Bill and Hill, the Dems found a new
star – their first in 16 years. Look at it from Hillary’s point of view: She’d expected to run against the likes of Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd – the usual mediocrities and misfits. Then Barack Obama came along, and did what the Clintons did in 1992 – saw his opportunity and seized it. All of a sudden, she’s the Bill Richardson – worthy but dull, earthbound, and joyless, lead weights round her ankles. She has a melancholy dignity in decline. She knows she would make the better president, but every time she tries to explain why it sounds prosaic and unromantic. Bill gave the party an appetite for slick lounge acts, and this time round Barack’s the guy delivering it in buckets of gaseous uplift. Can Barbra Streisand and the Supergays get Hillary airborne again? I doubt it. Go back to that Staples Center entrance in 2000, and try to imagine Hill walking that walk. How far would she get before the applause died away and she’d be padding that endless corridor to no audible accompaniment but the clack of her heels? © 2008 Mark Steyn
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 19
> eyes right
Richard Prosser The Wolf who cried, ‘Boy!’
uman beings are a curious species. We profess to possess town was, in all likelihood, no more than a simple widow with a intelligence, worldliness, and a healthy skepticism which, it penchant for amateur medical herbalism, rather than a baby-eatpleases us to believe, keeps us one step ahead of the odds; a ing fiend possessed of a compulsion (and the ability) to render foot in front of the charlatans, the politicians, the dishon- small boys into flying potion. This reality, however, did not save est and the predatory. The wolf is kept a good pace from the door many a supposed witch from drowning on the ducking stool, in by way of our insight and foresight, our shrewdness and cunning, a summary execution demanded by the shrieking hystericals of our wise understanding of the darker recesses of the human con- the day and sanctioned by the appropriate authorities. dition, of the desires and motivations of those who would seek And I wonder, I really do, how ostensibly intelligent folk (albeit to confound and exploit us to their own ends. without the benefit of modern toys and tools), could convince Singularly, we are surely so; in fact, I have yet to meet a fellow themselves that a person, once bitten by a suitably magically individual who was not thus endowed with a fine appreciation affected dog, could be transformed into a rabid half-wolf, half of the true character of our rulers and commentators – nor who human, bent on mayhem and thirsting for blood, by the simple was reluctant to admit it. and quite natural mechanism of the lunar cycle arriving at its Strange, then, that en masse, we display behaviours which are smiley-face stage. Too preposterous for words? Never mind, he’s almost entirely at odds with this understanding. Homo sapiens, col- a werewolf, cut his head off anyway. lectively, often appears to be reactive, gullible, and easily frightened. In more recent times, we have stampeded in fear from such Indeed, it is this propensity for varied threats as commualarmism, and a tendency to nists, satanic ritual abuse, All these panics, based on believe that the worst is immiand alien invasion. The nent, which permits the powAmerican 1938 radio broadimminent and disastrous shortage, cast of HG Wells’ The War ers that be to impose upon us the very same social manipuof the Worlds had panichave us scurrying for our wallets lation which we so gleefully stricken citizens phoning deny is even possible. the authorities, loading without a second thought American journalist Henry shotguns, fleeing their Louis “H.L” Mencken, whose homes, and hollering for assessment of US politics was that it involved ‘the worship of the National Guard; no-one, apparently, stopped long enough to Jackals by Jackasses’, described popular willingness to be led, ask whether perhaps the radio show wasn’t actually a true account conned, and saved from fictitious dangers, in appropriate terms; of a genuine happening. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace From then on, through the 1947 tales of crash-landed space alarmed, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all ships in Roswell, New Mexico, to the UFO-cultism of the 1970s, of them imaginary.” a seemingly sizeable chunk of humanity has been convinced that And he is correct, of course, as proven by the history of mankind a takeover by the extra-terrestrials was due to happen any day. In over the past few centuries. Unsubstantiated and sometimes irra- 2008, of course, now that everyone has video cameras on their tional fears in the minds of the populace, have been transformed cellphones, no-one sees flying saucers anymore; but the books, into all manner of Governmental edicts and directions, policies, movies, and doomsday cults spawned by this once-great popular punishments, laws, and even wars. culture are testament to something which was made real, and in I mean think about it. Whether you believe the Devil to be real many cases acted upon, by humanity’s need to believe – and by or not, Old Nick never once came striding through the towns someone shouting “wolf ”. and villages of yore, trident in hand and forked tail swishing; but The witch-hunts of the McCarthy era, likewise, never meant people’s desire to believe that he might, was enough to see many that the US was over-run with communists both overt and secret, a poor soul strung up, run through, or burned at the stake, for that every second person was spying for the Soviets, that there the crime of encouraging him. really were Reds under the bed. What it did mean, however, was Likewise, the old lady in the run-down house on the edge of that lives and careers were overturned and in many cases ruined, 20 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
through an all-too-willing population’s kneejerk response to someone yelling “commies!”. Perhaps some of this is understandable, and perhaps not all of it is a bad thing. This reactive behaviour may be connected with the human fight-or-flight response, an essential part of our self-preservation mechanism. Our earliest furry mammalian ancestors, faced with the dangers posed by ravenous dinosaurs, had two choices: stay and be eaten, or run away. We today, all of us, carry the genes of the ones who decided to run away. Perhaps this is why we startle easily, because we are hard-wired with a survival instinct to dash for safety first, and ask questions about the nature of the danger second. Such a response may be commendable; but maintaining a fear that something is dangerous, in the face of evidence that it is not, is probably silly. Hundreds of innocent parents in Cleveland in the UK did not, in fact, sexually abuse their children in the late 1980s – but the modern-day equivalents of the shrieking hystericals of yesteryear had the authorities up in arms simply by shouting “paedophile”, and invoking the panic gene. Naturally, we are still doing it today. All someone has to do is cry “wolf ” about a supposed impending Y2K bug, for example, and we run for the safety of hills made from new computer equipment. Cry wolf in the form of SARS, and we rush to hide behind face masks. Cry “Bird Flu”, and the result is the same….and on that subject, can anyone suggest what the nation might do with a rapidly outdating stockpile of Tamiflu tablets? This is not to say that we shouldn’t fear anything at all, nor that there are not real dangers of which we should be cautious. Rather, my point is that we are all too quick to bolt for the trees when danger threatens, but often slow to come down again when it has passed, or worse, reluctant to admit we were wrong when it is proved that the danger never was. Of course, I’m working my way towards Global Warming. I can’t leave it alone, and besides, it fits the theory very nicely. “The Globe is Warming, and it’s all our fault,” shriek the hystericals. “The polar bears will die and we’ll all be drowned by rising seas. Look, the ice is melting! Flee! Flee!” “Oh dear, whatever will become of us,” reply the rest of us, as we duck for cover behind wind turbines and Emissions Trading Schemes. After a wee while, from atop our solar-powered battlements, we can see that none of it is actually true; but the hystericals, thrashing wildly at molecules of carbon dioxide with their organic bamboo swords, aren’t listening. They’re not concerned that the earth is in fact cooling, and has been for ten years now; that polar bear numbers are on the rise, that total ice mass in both Greenland and the Antarctic is increasing, that much of the Northern Hemisphere has just had it’s coldest winter in most of a century, or that changes in CO2 concentrations actually follow shifts in temperature, rather than preceding them. No, they’re happy being hysterical, and appear quite incensed that the rest of us are refusing to stay panicked. The initial reactions to suggestions that something was up with the climate are understandable; the continued insistence on worrying that we are faced with dangerous warming, in the face of
Under the agenda of the Global Warming alarmists – today’s hystericals – such energies will be subject to the edicts of the United Nations, that final bastion of collectivism in a world which has otherwise rejected it
all the evidence that we are not, is silly at best. What, then, may be the motivation of the hystericals? Did they slip through the net, perhaps, on a day when the dinosaurs weren’t hungry? Or could there be another agenda at work here? The cynic in me has pondered this question, and wonders if there could be a buck to be made in it, for someone, somewhere. The idea of profiteering from mass panic is not, after all, without precedent. There is the Peak Oil delusion; the idea that oil is about to run out (in thirty years or so, just like it’s supposed to have been running out in, every year for the last thirty years) – unless, of course, the barrel price can be maintained at close to a hundred bucks, in which case, there’ll always be plenty of it. There’s the Global Credit Squeeze delusion, a truly brilliant con predicated on the myth that Bank loan money is taken from someone else’s savings – rather than being the newly and privately issued credit which it actually is – and which justifies the continued upward march of interest rates. Just lately, there’s the World Protein Shortage delusion, which, despite being without foundation, has rocketed the price of cheese in New Zealand supermarkets to $15 a kilo, or about twice what it was less than a year ago, and yes, I do do the supermarket shopping in our house. I’m quite progressive that way. All these panics, based on imminent and disastrous shortage, have us scurrying for our wallets without a second thought; our security is at stake, we must stock up or perish, for the survival gene has been tickled. So where, one may ask, is the money to be made from the Global Warming panic? To this writer’s mind, it lies in the control of energy; the power sources which fuel the developed world, which advance technology, learning, medicine, and the progression of the human condition. Under the agenda of the Global Warming alarmists – today’s hystericals – such energies will be subject to the edicts of the United Nations, that final bastion of collectivism in a world which has otherwise rejected it. The taxes, the carbon credits, the emissions levies paid by the confounded and frightened peoples of the world, will go to line the coffers of this new evil empire, ably – and perhaps, in some cases, unwittingly – aided by the Green activists, and their naïve, idealistic media lackeys, who come among us as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps we should all be very wary of those who cry Wolf. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 21
> line one
Child beating re-visited
number of people, perhaps for a variety of reasons, will bly unable to teach the kids to read and write, are right up there be very happy that a valid petition calling for a referendum with the best when it comes to instructing children in matters of to re-visit the passing of the “Anti Smacking” legislation sexual preference, their “rights” and of course the shortest route has made it to Parliament. Despite Labour, Bradford and to the nearest social welfare office! Co., endeavouring to paint the organisers and signatories of this Further instruction now also pre-disposes these same innocent petition as being religious nuts or perhaps folk in urgent need children to accept as a truth that to compete in education or for of electric shock treatment, the facts tend to point out that once that matter in school sport is anti social (ist) as this means we might again this Government, in choosing to completely ignore the well end up with winners and losers which must be discouraged clearly expressed will of the people, has another political disaster at all costs. The teaching of New Zealand history now appears to knocking on its door. be confined, if taught at all, to a sanitised feel good account of Indeed, the organisers of this petition appear to have timed the Gospel according to sweetness and light, in that the raw and its delivery with exquisite care, in that it now seems more than very informative lessons of yesteryear have been re-written to likely that the Government will have little choice other than to now portray our forefathers battle to settle a new land, and their include the referenda documentation with the voting papers for ensuing conflicts with the tough and very brave Maori, as being the election probably to be held in November. Poor Helen and now an account of rapacious money grabbing white people more Co., for at the very time they are running around the place on or less playing poker with a marked deck, their victims, innopolling day, they do so in the cent native people who were sure knowledge that as they yet to be counselled about A card carrying idiot even, deliver off the few remaining the danger of losing their party faithful to hopefully tick shirts. Similarly, instruction should have known that a bill of the ballot papers in the usual in the skills of wood and approved manner, each and metal work, how to cook this type would provide absolutely and to perhaps sew also every one of the voters will be reminded at this very time, went by the window lest no protection at all to the kids who children might grow up, to of the Clark and Bradford attempt to once again underbecome less dependant on are savagely beaten by their semi mine parental authority by the state, who after all, as sticking their oars into someMiss Busynickers continuprimitive mothers, fathers, thing obviously beyond their ally tells them, is now your comprehension. new “caregiver” and indeed or boyfriends Despite being neither the only entity that you Catholic nor careless I am should listen to and obey. blessed with seven children, who as nature dictates run the full Which brings us to the final Armageddon of education and gamut as regards personality, behaviour and academic achieve- indeed of any vestiges of control being left to Kiwi Parents in ment. Almost entirely due to the sterling efforts of two separate the upbringing of their children. Teachers, being essentially civil wives, (not being inclined towards Islam or bigamy, at different servants and therefore agents of the government, no longer have points in time) these children were raised in a manner that I am any choice other than to do their master’s will. Not for them in sure would horrify the likes of the anti family types currently any way, to question the edicts from the Beehive, as they now infesting Parliament. To date I am proud to relate that none of are expected to put into place a system of educational grading, the kids has appeared in Court, or for that matter have been any- the NCEA, that has managed to conceal almost entirely educathing other than children that most people would be proud of. tional results so dire as to not be out of place at a chimpanzees’ And in thinking back, it really was not all that difficult. Firstly of tea party. Naturally, to keep the poor teachers busy seeing that course the kids had not had the benefit of being lectured by the they are now being actively discouraged to actually teach the kids percentage of semi literate and hand wringing lefties who unfor- anything worthwhile, the now bloated Education Department tunately masquerade as teachers today, who although demonstra- demands a regime of paperwork almost guaranteed to send most 22 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
teachers along to the ACC for treatment for advanced RSI. But as Suzanne Paul was once wont to say,” but wait there’s more”. So we now see added to the teachers’ already inhuman workload the final phases of Aunty Helen’s “Plan Red”, to complete the social engineering of the nation’s youth, so that having completed the required amount of brainwashing they might henceforth follow the left hand path and vote Labour for ever. And how to complete this worthy project? Pretty simple really, especially, as watching it unfold, an increasing number of people are very rapidly cottoning on to the main ingredients of the Witch’s spell. “Children are getting fat”, screech they themselves, being the largely obese members of Helen’s little coven. Let us bombard the public, and especially the teachers, with much propaganda that will convince all who watch or listen as to the wickedness of the Great Satan Bush and his capitalistic henchmen McDonald’s and KFC. Cast this evil muck aside and eat but a lettuce leaf garnished crumbled wheat biscuit so that bodily size compliance will quickly be achieved, if only through semi starvation. The government has already produced an economic climate that has swept from most of the nation’s tables such harmful fare as milk, butter and cheese, which combined with mortgages now going through the roof, should soon reduce the waistlines of New Zealanders to within the range common to Ethiopians in a bad year. This plan of course is not so much to do with the reduction of weight and general tubbiness, but more to do with the removal of any lingering thoughts that “Mother Knows Best”. Mother in fact knows bugger all, for verily it is the Government and their employees, the teachers that are now the font of all knowledge in such matters. Mother and father, should they ever be seen to give a child a pie or a pizza, they MUST be reported to teacher at once! Then we have the plainly apparent wickedness of all men to firmly implant and reinforce in the minds of all school children in the Government’s daily care. If Father should pick a son or daughter up and give him or her a cuddle after school, then there is a very good chance that he is a sex fiend, well that is of course unless he happens to be Gay or a transsexual, in which case it will be unnecessary to tell the teacher. Just forward his name to the nearest Labour Party Branch Office as there is an election coming up. In short then, Mothers, sadly cannot be trusted with nutritional matters, or indeed to protect children against the depredations of any males that might be within reach, i.e., Mum and Dad are more than likely a thoroughly bad lot that are neither to be trusted or for that matter to be allowed to interfere with what any child may want to do or say. They have, the children that is, indisputable rights, which are best demonstrated and enforced by the final removal of parental controls that have existed since the dawn of time. Which brings us to one of the last nails in the New Zealand Family coffin so adroitly hammered home by these self appointed governmental surrogate parents, led into this outrageous anti smacking legislation by the pure need of Labour to toss the Greens a political bone in a year singularly bereft of the Green’s success in passing any of their other lunatic plans and ideas. A rather large and several times arrested Green’s woman well practised in the art of protest and semi violent and abusive behaviour during innumerable public acts of well publicised general disorder, never the less played the part of a political stalking horse quite admirably. Putting this iniquitous bill forward, she sold the concept to the House, and despite properly conducted polls quite clearly showing that over 80% of the public hated the idea, the bill quite naturally passed. The ever devious Prime Minister had previously told all who might care to listen
that she thought that the right of parents to legally correct their children with a smack was something that she did not wish to interfere with, when of course, she had every intention to push through Sue Bradford’s bill, it being 100% an exact fit to her ongoing agenda of interfering in every aspect of New Zealanders lives. It’s not a case of forgive the woman; she knows not what she does. To the contrary, she does know what she’s doing which makes her in the eyes of many, very dangerous indeed. A card carrying idiot even, should have known that a bill of this type would provide absolutely no protection at all to the kids who are savagely beaten by their semi primitive mothers, fathers, or boyfriends. This of course is how this appallingly inept legislation was sold; completely overlooking the effect that it would have on the vast majority of really good parents to whom this tool of reasonable punishment has now become a criminal offence. Most parents in fact hardly ever, smack their kids, but the threat that you might, has restored harmony in the home on innumerable occasions. Now, should you have a small child throwing a public tantrum, refusing to wear their seat belt, hitting their younger siblings or any of the other misdemeanours that are too numerous to relate, should they occur, then in law, you are now forbidden to even threaten to tan their little pink backsides. Who do the kids threaten to tell? Why the teacher of course, or perhaps the highly under worked local copper. Can anyone even begin to imagine, after ten years of this loopy law being in effect, the problems that kids brought up under this regime, with no real fear of the consequences of their actions will probably be like? Actually we might in fact have a wee bit of a window...Tune into Parliament on TV when you have a chance and then ask yourself, do you want your children to grow up to be like that? Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
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Is oxygen depletion Earth’s greatest danger?
24 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
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n the August 2005 issue of the prestigious National Geographic their highly permeable skin and the oxygen dissolves in an aquean article on Climate Change drew forth a comment “We will ous film on the skin and from there to the blood. The skin must run out of atmosphere before fossil fuels.” remain moist and therefore it is susceptible to toxins. However This comment would make any person concerned about the any diminishing oxygen content of the air must have a dramatic environment do a double take. impact on frogs’ survival. As frog depletion is more or less simulIt was made by Professor Daniel Kammen of the University of taneous worldwide, can toxins spread that quick or is it an oxyCalifornia, Berkeley. He is a respected authority on energy mat- gen depletion problem? ters in the US Academic and energy planning fraternity. During the 1990s, opinion was that ‘there is plenty of O2 don’t Authorities in the USA know how much natural gas, barrels of worry about it’, but lately figures of oxygen content in samples oil and tones of coal are used worldwide each year. We also know of air have revealed some alarming decreases. Some reports put the mass of the atmosphere. All this should determine how much O2 content as low as 12% in the centre of some cities, obviously of the oxygen in the atmosphere is used by fossil-fueled machin- the lack of greenery is the cause. Combustion is purportedly difery and power plants. Nowhere in all my research has this figure ficult below a content of 15% so I wonder how certain internal been revealed, but 28 billion tonnes of CO2 is being put into the combustion engines would cope unless they are super or turboatmosphere each year. However it is the oxygen content of the air charged. When the oxygen content gets to below 9% human life that is required to fuel all these fossil-fueled machines. Most use a is no longer possible. Some may remember the days when Tokyo ratio of one part fuel to about residents had to wear oxy15-20 parts of air. One report gen masks. This is a long Companies involved in solar cells, way off but any depletion states about 100 atoms of carbon burned requires about 160 of O2 is not good for aniwind and geothermal energy are atoms of oxygen. mal and human health. The only fuel that has some During the bush fires in aspect of oxygen in it is some now the fastest growing enterprises Victoria in 1983- not only forms of coal. did the fires spread through in the world Having consumed all this the tree tops (crown fires) oxygen, how much of it is faster than people can run, being replaced? As more research is done it is being revealed that but they suck the oxygen out of the air, asphyxiating anyone plants etc are not replacing oxygen as much as previous figures caught below. This is just one example of just how dramatic O2 suggest. The oceans are becoming choked up with CO2, becoming depletion can be. acidic and the CO2 absorption rate is dropping. Deforestation in Therefore it is imperative that every alternative to fossil-fueled the Amazon and tropical countries is not helping either. Research machinery be used. Companies involved in solar cells, wind and in the UK has indicated that low level ozone from the emis- geothermal energy are now the fastest growing enterprises in sions of fossil-fuelled machinery inhibits the conversion of CO2 the world. The quicker internal combustion motor vehicles are into O2 by plants. Another item of research has proven that too replaced by their electric counterparts and refueled by renewable much CO2 will literally choke some plants and slow the conver- energy, the better. Having driven a new electric car in Los Angeles sion process. Therefore there is every indication that there is far last year, the quicker acceleration, the lack of engine noise and lack less oxygen going back into the atmosphere than what has been of vibration was a pleasure. As new type of batteries and especially indicated so far. super capacitors come on to the market, the transformation will The present 20.9% of oxygen in the air has not always been at be quicker than we think. this figure. Some reports based on the study of rocks etc state that However, if we are to leave our dependants – especially those the highest content of O2 was about 35% during the days of the under five years of age – with a decent oxygenated world, the dinosaurs. Is this one reason why they got so big? A low of 15% time to act is now. has been indicated at one time. David Clemow is a retired Air New Zealand pilot, a former techniOver the last few years there are reports of frogs dying over cal director of the NZ Airline Pilots’ Association, and has meteorology the world more or less simultaneously. Frogs breathe through qualifications
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leadership CHALLENGE Will Clark Make It To The Election? 26 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark is facing the fight of her political life as a string of bad poll results and bad press put her leadership within Labour on the line. IAN WISHART, whose controversial new book on the Labour Government, Absolute Power, is about to be released, examines the likely outcome of the looming leadership crisis
t’s been a long time coming, but there are growing signs the Good Ship Labour is on a collision course with an iceberg largely of its own making. Plummeting poll ratings have taken the party vote as low as 32%, and Helen Clark’s ranking in the preferred prime minister stakes even lower – just 28%.
Political columnist Chris Trotter, a man who wears his colours well and truly on his red sleeve, has argued this month that when the Prime Minister is rating lower than her party, it’s pretty clear she’s dragging the team down. But has Helen Clark’s eagle really morphed into a thoroughly plucked turkey, or is there still a bit of wind left beneath those ailing political wings? Ask Helen Clark how she’s managed to survive politically for so long, and she’d probably repeat the phrase she used in a 1984 interview: “I have a strong sense of self preservation. I didn’t come this far to be burnt out in a hail of gunfire”. Over the coming months, that statement will be sorely tested as she leads her team into the toughest political campaign of her life. Clark has indeed been lower in the polls – rating just two percent as preferred Prime Minister in the mid 1990s, with Labour polling at an incredibly low 14%. But back then, Clark was not Prime Minister and had never been given the chance to show her mettle. Now, in her ninth year as Prime Minister, there are whisperings within Labour that Clark has done her dash. Trotter, a generally reliable bellwether on political matters, claims Labour put all its eggs in one basket by rebuilding the entire party around the forceful personality of Clark. “Rogernomics broke Labour’s republic into three pieces: the Left was seized by Jim Anderton; the Right by Richard Prebble; and the centre by Helen Clark. “Shrunken in size, and terribly scarred by the fratricidal conflict that had torn them apart, Labour’s rank and file no longer warmed to their democratic responsibilities. “After the bloody deposition of the last of the Rogernomes [Mike Moore] in 1993, all the party wanted was peace and unity. The membership knew Helen – she’d been around for years – and they trusted her. If she was ready to lift the burden of democratic responsibility from their shoulders, they were only too willing to give it to her. “Like the broken Roman republic, an exhausted, strife-torn Labour Party bestowed upon the last general standing the title of imperator. Oh yes, the forms of the old party remained intact: there was still a New Zealand council, a policy council, affiliates, LECs and branches. “But Helen, like Octavian, while paying lip service to republican forms, delivered imperial substance. “Now, 14 years into the reign of Helen Augusta, the thoughts of a new generation of Labour leaders is finally turning to the succession. With opinion polls registering just 35 per cent support, the question on everyone’s lips is can the emperor be replaced without endangering the empire? “The answer is probably not. And surely, that’s the point. “Political parties, especially those of the Left, should never allow themselves to be turned into monarchies. No organisation grows stronger by ceding its most important decision- making responsibilities to a single individual,” warned Trotter. The problem for Clark is simple. She’s the closest thing Labour has to a veteran streetfighter. Having dodged the political bullets her entire career, this election campaign has the potential to bring out her native cunning, as she fights not just for her party but for her own reputation. Clark hates to lose. There’s a lot of space, as Clark told Newstalk ZB’s Paul Holmes this month, between now and November 15. And the Government has control of the Budget. Or maybe not. The revelation of a four billion dollar deficit blowout because of the global financial crunch INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 27
has put Finance Minister Michael Cullen back on the defensive over whether tax cuts remain viable. Nor is it clear whether Cullen is prepared to do Clark many favours any more. Cullen and Trade Minister Phil Goff are two men who have previously plotted against Clark, particularly when her ratings hit rock bottom a decade ago. Goff is the only clear alternative leadership contender and as heir-apparent the ball is in his court. According to Chris Trotter, Goff should be running the numbers now and setting up a leadership challenge. As he told Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams in early March, it’s no longer a question of whether Clark can win the coming election, but how big the defeat is. As Trotter calls it, Labour’s backbenchers are getting nervous about their own prospects, and will move against Clark if they get the sense Goff could limit the damage. But this is where the game gets interesting. The Labour Party’s head office has rigged candidate selection over the past few elections to try and get as many trade unionists on the party list as possible, and as many gay and lesbian candidates. Both groups wield considerable influence within the party organization itself and tend to be left leaning. Labour’s most recent entry to parliament, Louisa Wall, is an example of a fast-tracked, left-wing and proudly gay MP. The impact of these groups on Government policy has been huge. Goff and Cullen, on the other hand, come from Labour’s conservative political right wing, as does Police Minister Annette King, Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove and Health Minister David Cunliffe. For the Right to rebuild Labour, this group needs the Left-wing to be routed at the next election. Nothing less than a National Party blitzkrieg will sweep clean Labour’s stacked party list MPs like Wall, trade unionist Darien Fenton, Maryan Street (both gay and a former unionist), Lesley Soper or Charles Chauvel. For this reason, it’s in Goff and Cullen’s interests to leave Clark in place as the increasingly damaged political leader representing the increasing damaged Labour left, because the bigger the fall, the bigger the clean-out. While Labour’s backbench may want Goff to take over, and may even deliver him the numbers to topple Clark, Goff is generally considered too smart to accept the poisoned chalice of leading an unpopular three-term government into defeat. There is little doubt that Goff could probably save a few MPs from losing their seats, but the risk to him under the current party list arrangement would be the continued predominance of Labour’s left, who would then bide their time and topple Goff in favour of a more “suitable” leader from within their own ranks. And Goff will be wary, too, of senators offering laurels ahead of the vote, given that Helen Clark pulled the same stunt on Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in 1990. The details are in Brian Edward’s hagiography of Clark published seven years ago, where former press gallery journalist Dick Griffin remembers Clark coming to see him: “And she said to me without any provocation, ‘Well look, this man’s hopeless. He’s not going to make it. We can’t carry on like
this. We’ll crash and burn at the polls. There’s got to be a change to Moore…and as soon as Moore gets back it’s all over’.” Clark’s subsequent rolling of Moore is the stuff of legends, the kind of story staunch Labourites tell their kids at bedtime of a night. For this reason, Goff will circle, being diplomatic enough not to appear disloyal but strong enough to begin consolidating his power base. Expect to see continuing whispers of a leadership challenge to Clark, but nothing will eventuate. The campaign will be destabilizing, designed to underline the impression that the Prime Minister is now a lame duck leader. Backbenchers will grow increasingly panicky about their own fates as the election looms, and may attempt to apply real pressure for a leadership change. Only Goff could turn it around however, and he won’t want to bring Helen Clark and Heather Simpson’s candidates back in. While Labour’s backbenchers could conceivably choose someone else, it is hard to see any other Labour MP the public would trust as a potential prime minister. Thus any forced leadership coup without Goff would only worsen the party’s chances at the election, not improve them. Clark could, of course, resign and force the issue, but it wouldn’t help her allies unless Goff picked up the reins, and there’s no upside for him to do so. With an even weaker leader than Clark at the
“The problem for Clark is simple. She’s the closest thing Labour has to a veteran streetfighter. Having dodged the political bullets her entire career, this election campaign has the potential to bring out her native cunning, as she fights not just for her party but for her own reputation. Clark hates to lose
28 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
helm, Goff and the right wing will be even better placed to stage a coup after the election. Either way, the writing is on the wall. Many of Clark’s allies inside parliament are already deserting – Margaret Wilson and Tim Barnett are retiring, for example – and Goff and Cullen are likely to be working quietly but strategically to radically rebrand Labour in time for a fighting chance against John Key in 2011. Labour’s Left, ironically, now find themselves in exactly the same position that Labour’s Right did in 1990 – tainted by nearly a decade of hated policies, in this case social engineering policies culminating in laws telling ordinary law abiding parents how to bring up their children, and telling ordinary law abiding citizens they no longer had a basic human right to speak out in election year. Once again, Labour’s Republic is about to be torn asunder, awaiting a new Caesar and a new imperial senate. If today’s junior Labour MPs want a hope of hanging onto their political futures, they’ll be sniffing the wind over the next couple of months and applying to their own situations Helen Clark’s ode to political survival: “I’ve become more strategic about the fights I buy into…I didn’t come this far to be burnt out in a hail of gunfire.” All Clark herself can do is knuckle down, hope that Key slips up, and hope that she isn’t hit by some kind of “Hollow Men” bombshell between now and the election. n
Coming very soon, the most explosive political biography ever released in New Zealand, a book so tightly under wraps all manuscripts are encrypted, and we’re not disclosing the exact publication date. Last year we joked “buy it before they ban it” when we released Eve’s Bite. But now the Electoral Finance Act has been passed. All we can say is, if you don’t
pre-order a copy for Day One, you might not get a chance on Day Two. For guaranteed delivery straight to your letterbox of this decade’s most controversial political exposé, pre-order online today at www.helenclarkbook.com Or reserve a copy at your nearest Whitcoulls, Borders, Dymocks, PaperPlus, Take Note or good independent bookstore.
ABSOLUTE POWER By Ian Wishart
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Red ES R A U Q S
behin d The u n tol d story n w o d k a e r b US Z AN N ew Ze a l a n d’s
30 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
New Zealand’s break with the US over nuclear warship visits in 1985 has become an iconic symbol of Kiwi independence. In this new investigation, however, BERNARD MORAN and TREVOR LOUDON argue the New Zealand politicians became pawns in a much bigger game, a game they were unaware of
wenty years after the Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Bill passed into law on 4th June, 1987, the event has assumed a heroic mythology. New Zealand dared to stand up to the United States and forge its own independent foreign policy. So powerful is the myth that in early 2007, John Key, the new leader of the National Party, made it clear that his party would adhere to the status quo on any potential visit by nuclear-powered warships. He recognized domestic political and cultural realities. The success of the NZ peace movement in creating a doomsday panic was described by Merwyn Norrish, the secretary of foreign affairs, back in 1984: “There was much that was dispiriting in the way in which the public debate on nuclear matters and peace issues was conducted in the months leading up to the general election of November 1984. Assertions with no basis in fact were often made. Visitors like Helen and Bill Caldicott, the anti-nuclear campaigners, stated actual falsehoods with such astonishing self-assurance that they were uncritically believed. Prejudices, often those of small minorities were paraded as though they were the will of the majority. Factors relating to the security of New Zealand, and quite different factors relating to superpower rivalry, were presented as one and the same thing. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 31
Government policy was alleged to be different from what it actually was. The differences between the main political parties were portrayed as wide, whereas they often rather narrow. Emotion ran away with common sense.” 1 By late 1986, the NZ peace movement contained 367 disparate groups; this in a population of under 4 million. One thousand, or 20%, of NZ doctors belonged to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Town councils voted to become nuclear free, erecting notices at their boundaries that one was entering a nuclear-free zone. By 1987, 70 percent of New Zealand’s population was living in such zones. New Zealand was heralded as a shining example to the world. Its homegrown peace movement had triumphed, and is still giving most New Zealanders a sense of pride in their non-aligned status. They have created their own destiny. However, previously untold evidence indicates that the anti-nuclear movement served the strategic interests of the Soviet Union. New Zealand was specifically targeted in a clandestine political operation, designed to remove it from the Western Alliance. In the late 1970s, policy makers in the International Department of the Soviet Communist Party, the CPSU, developed doctrine about exploiting what they termed the “correlation of forces” within a particular country to achieve a specific outcome. This implied expert direction of the “correlation.”
Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in March 1986. Joint communiqués signed by Jim Knox on behalf of the FOL and by the heads of visiting Soviet delegations had been adopted by delegates at the 1984 and 1985 FOL conferences. Behind Jim Knox was Ken Douglas, the affable, competent and powerful general secretary of the FOL and chairman of the SUP. In 1986, he took two months “sick leave” in the Soviet Union. That year, Jim Knox also visited the Soviet Union where, according to the Soviet news agency TASS (February 22) he pledged to “pool efforts in the struggle to prevent a new war with which the imperialist states, above all the United States administration, threatened mankind.” He also said: “Soviet peace initiatives are highly appreciated in New Zealand and are supported by broad sections of the population.” TASS (February 1985) quoted Knox as saying that “contacts between the trade unions of New Zealand and the USSR grow stronger from year to year. New Zealand trade unionists follow with interest the Soviet people’s strides and come to see for themselves that the socialist system acts in the interests of the working people.” A vignette from that era, illustrates the relationship. Each year, the Soviet embassy in Wellington invited delegates from the FOL conference to an embassy function. During the 1986 conference, most delegates attended this reception. To emphasize the impor-
“Every financial member of an affiliated union was counted as a member of the Labour Party. This gave affiliated unions thousands of votes each, which when coordinated guaranteed the SUP’s ability to choose the Labour Party’s president, executive, policy council – and to influence policy on that council A key force to be “correlated” was the New Zealand trade union movement. It would be helpful at this point to outline the changes that were occurring. Tony Neary (now deceased), the Irish leader of the Electrical Workers Union, chronicled the infiltration in a paper he gave at a conference in Washington DC, in March 1987, organized by Owen Harries under the auspices of the Hoover Institute. Neary claimed that the Soviet Union through one of its main front organizations, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) had successfully infiltrated the New Zealand trade union movement and changed its direction. He noted that until the mid-1970s, there was a good working relationship between the NZ Federation of Labour (equivalent to the ACTU) and the United States labor federation, the AFL-CIO. The change began in May 1979, when Jim Knox was elected FOL president and regular visits by NZ trade unionists to the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries commenced. By 1986, known Communists from the Moscow-aligned Socialist Unity Party (SUP) and the Maoist-leaning Workers Communist League (WCL), along with their sympathizers had considerable control in seven of the eight largest trades councils (branches of the FOL), covering 70 percent of the FOL membership. Bill Andersen, president of the SUP and the Auckland Trades Council, attended the Twenty Seventh Congress of the Communist 32 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
tance of the NZ-USSR relationship, Jim Knox at the conference warmly presented the Soviet delegates with large expensive sheepskin rugs. The American guest from the AFL-CIO, received a small brown paper parcel. Knox from the rostrum told delegates that the parcel contained a book on New Zealand, but when the American visitor opened the paper, he found a small cheeseboard. The New Zealand Herald reported that “it was a case of hard cheese for the American delegate.”2 Tony Neary had considerable public respect for his lonely struggle, but his criticisms of Soviet trade unions as mere appendages of the State were rejected within the FOL. He was regularly accused of seeing “Reds under the bed”, to which he responded: “In the New Zealand trade union movement, those who mutter about Reds under the beds must be joking. The Reds are already in the beds and have been there for some years. By now they are sitting up and getting breakfast brought in.”3 The “Reds” were the Socialist Action League (Trotskyites) and the Socialist Unity Party. Testimony of a former Soviet Intelligence Officer Oleg Gordievsky, an officer of the Soviet security service, the KGB, was appointed in 1985, the resident designate at the Russian
Embassy in London, responsible for intelligence gathering in Britain. From 1974, he had been working as a long-serving undercover agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), until his formal defection in 1985. He recalled: “KGB activity in Australasia was increased as the result of the election of David Lange’s Labour government in New Zealand, on an anti-nuclear programme in 1984. The (KGB) Centre was jubilant at Lange’s election..”4 Gordievsky visited New Zealand on four occasions from 1986 onwards to brief the Security Intelligence Service on Soviet clandestine activities in the region. For years, he said, New Zealand:5 “…had been under massive propaganda and ideological attack from the KGB and the (Soviet) Central Committee, and the ruling Labour Party had seemed unaware of the extent to which the fabric of their society was being damaged by subversion.. “In its attempts to draw New Zealand into nuclear-free activities, the Soviet authorities had made tremendous efforts to penetrate and strengthen the Labour Party, partly through the local Party of Socialist Unity (in effect the Communist Party of New Zealand) and partly through the Trades Union Congress.” Gordievsky alleged that the New Zealand and Australian communists were being run by the International Department of the CPSU. He said: 6 “I know the situation in New Zealand very well; only 500 members of the Socialist Unity Party, but they are invaluable because each was ready to do something. It was like the KGB had 500 agents in the country.”
Gordievsky added: “Plus some of them penetrated the trade unions, and then they penetrated the left wing of the NZ Labour Party.7” Their aspirations were spelt out in a Socialist Unity Party Auckland Regional Newsletter, dated 12th November, 1980. “To date in the region the Peace Council 8 has made good progress among trade unions, but more effort must be made to build on this and take the peace question to the factory floor. “Also needed now is to broaden the Peace Council into other areas of the community, join up prominent personalities including MPs, increase church involvement, university involvement, other peace groups, community clubs etc. “Here branches and comrades can act as catalysts. We must be extremely careful that in building the Peace Council, it does not become overburdened with ‘SUP’ people, or be labeled as just another ‘SUP’ front. “If our Party is working correctly, only a few comrades, reporting back to the Region and Branches, and taking forward issues from the same sources, are necessary to ensure effective involvement in the Peace movement. The broadest possible base is needed if we are to make the Council effective.” In July 1980, Labour Party Council member and unionist Allan O’Neill, claimed that the Socialist Action League and Socialist Unity Party were infiltrating the Labour Party. “It appears to be a new tactic of these political organizations to get their members into the party, to incite from within and push their own political dogmas.” Other Labour figures made similar accusations, but nothing was done. By the early 1980s, the SUP had gained control of the INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 33
In 1987, Labour Prime Minister David Lange ordered KGB resident Sergei Budnik to leave the country for too close a relationship with the SUP
Federation of Labour and most of the major unions in the engineering, dairy, hotel and transport industries. These unions were affiliated to the Labour Party and enjoyed block voting rights at Party conferences. Every financial member of an affiliated union was counted as a member of the Labour Party. This gave affiliated unions thousands of votes each, which when coordinated guaranteed the SUP’s ability to choose the Labour Party’s president, executive, policy council – and to influence policy on that council. Understandably, the SUP took advantage of this preferential system, so that through the mid to late 1980s, the majority of Labour Party senior officials were SUP sympathizers or secret members. The same infiltration was occurring at branch level, ensuring that the SUP becoming the leading power bloc in the Labour Party. SUP members studying at the Lenin Institute in Moscow during the early 1980s were drilled extensively by their Russian tutors on the advantages to the Soviet Union that could accrue from the election of a Labour Government in New Zealand. On the 6th June, 1984, SUP National Secretary George Jackson, addressed a meeting of the Party’s Hamilton branch. He explained the rationale for supporting Labour in the upcoming national elections. According to a Party document, Jackson stated that: “The Federation of Labour and Combined State Unions, later 34 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
joined under the Council of Trade Unions banner, have more influence on the Labour Party than for many years. And the trade union structures have the ability to transform economic campaigns to political campaigns.” New Zealand activists trained in Moscow We now come to the previously untold story of how the SUP was itself infiltrated by a humble truck driver, who was later selected to attend a specialist course at the Lenin Institute in Moscow. John Van de Ven, a Dutch immigrant resembled the mythical tug boat captain, stocky, powerfully built, full of restless energy. He chain-smoked thin cigars. In the late-1970s, Van de Ven worked as a tanker driver for Mobil and belonged to the Wellington Drivers’ Union run by Ken Douglas. Van de Ven raced through his delivery rounds and received several warnings that his speed was upsetting the union’s workplace rules. Undeterred, he raced on until called into the union office and forthrightly informed that if he didn’t play by the rules, he would lose his union card and not drive trucks in Wellington again. “I was mad at being treated like this,” Van de Ven told the authors. “So I decided to get even. I had no firm plans, but I
Cabinet Ministers were so occupied with the plethora of other economic and social issues, that they were not fully engaged with the ship visit, at the precise moment when it mattered
knew the union was run by the SUP and so I thought that if I can get in – then sometime down the track I’ll get even. It was as simple as that.” Van de Ven went to the union and performed obeisance. He apologized for his misdemeanours and offered to assist with menial tasks, even hand out copies of the SUP newspaper, Tribune. After a year’s probationary period as a model unionist, his talents were recognized. Drivers’ Union official and senior SUP member, Richie Gillespie took him aside and said the union had big things planned for him, if he could prove himself. Fortuitously in 1977, Van de Ven discovered a legitimate grievance over tyre safety issues on the tankers. When the company refused to make the changes, he led a prolonged strike that paralysed petrol supplies for weeks around the lower half of the North Island. Finally Mobil capitulated and conceded that the Drivers’ Union, not the company, must have the final say on safety issues. Ken Douglas, impressed with Van de Ven’s leadership, personally invited him to join the SUP. In 1978, he joined the Porirua branch and studied Marxist-Leninist theory under a secret member (who was later appointed to senior positions in business). Within two years he took over the Porirua branch chairmanship and in 1981, was the SUP candidate for Porirua at the General Election.
Still on course to get even, he contacted the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), who asked him to stay in place. He was put on the payroll, assigned a handler and given the code name “Joe Martin”. Van de Ven’s common sense and “street smart” talents were recognized with selection for further training in Moscow from 29th October, 1983 to February 12th, 1984. The course had been shortened because of the developing situation in New Zealand. He noted that their passports had to be surrendered and were not stamped so as to leave no record of being in the USSR. He went with three other SUP members and one month later they were joined by Bill Andersen, George Jackson and Marilyn Tucker (all SUP Central Committee members). “On arrival in Moscow,” recalled Van de Ven, “we were quarantined for medical checks over four days and given new identities. I became John Van, Jim Thompson became Jimmy Brown, Allan Ware – Allan Wolf, Peter Devlin – Peter Jay.” “This took place in an old mansion near Moscow. The ten acres of woodland was surrounded by high walls so that nobody could look in or out. After that, we were transported in a mini bus with black-curtained windows to the Lenin Institute for Higher Learning in Prospect Leningradski, across the road from Metro Aeroport, an underground station.” “There were 3,500 communists from all over the world, being INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 35
trained five and half days a week, according to the requirements of their home country. We were assigned three tutors who were specialists on New Zealand. They were a (first name unknown) Venediev, who lectured on the National Question (racial manipulation) and trade unions. He was also a staff member of the World Marxist Review. Other tutors included Bella Vorontsova (doctorate in history) and Eduard Nukhovich (doctorate in economics), both of whom visited New Zealand to liaise with SUP branches.” “Peace was high on the agenda. As one tutor told us: ‘We have many clever people in the Soviet Union, but no one has even been able to come up with a weapon potentially as powerful as the Peace Movement.’” Van de Ven was told that the reason for the “condensed” 13-week course was that Yuri Andropov had initiated a strategy for taking a social democratic country out of the Western Alliance, by utilizing the “correlation of forces” provided by the Peace Movement. New Zealand was given a high priority by the Soviets, for its strategic propaganda potential. The Soviets prioritized countries according to their strategic interest. The UK, Chile, Argentina and South Africa were Category One. Tiny New Zealand was in Category Two – alongside the then Soviet client-state India. The particular circumstances of New Zealand with a national election in late 1984, was seen as providing a suitable testing ground 36 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
for this strategy. If it worked as intended, then the concept could be applied to countries like Denmark for example. There were two key aims: ★ To get rid of ANZUS ★ For the Labour Government to steer through Parliament, Nuclear-Free legislation Van de Ven described the techniques of the strategy as “brilliant”, which when applied within the trade unions, the Peace Movement and the Labour Party, worked as intended. “Our role was to influence and steer the Peace Movement, not by taking the top jobs, but to be done in such a way that the top people in the various peace groups were seen as reasonably responsible by the average New Zealander.” “So our training consisted of being able to train lesser known communists, secret members, sympathizers and fellow travelers, to take over these groups, unite them, but never take the leading roles. My own role was as a ‘nuts and bolts’ technician.” The overall project director was Gennady Yannaev, an engineer by training and later a leading member of the 1991 coup that overthrew Mikhail Gorbachev. Van de Ven got on well with Yannaev, and was several times invited to his home for meals and drinks. He found Yannaev a dedicated and honest communist, who frequently vented his disgust at the corruption within the Nomenklatura. He
was informally questioned about the other members of the New Zealand delegation and Bill Andersen and Ken Douglas. In 1985, with the Labour Government in power, the SIS released John Van de Ven. A personable, talented man with considerable drive, he became successfully self-employed. Due to circumstances unrelated to his undercover work, he gassed himself in his car in April 1992. Funding from Moscow The Socialist Unity Party, like its overseas counterparts, received funding from the Soviet Union channeled through the Embassy in Wellington. There were perks for members such as subsidized or free trips to the Soviet Union, but under Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, the SIS kept tabs on transactions and occasionally they pounced. No less than the Russian ambassador himself, Vsevelod Sofinsky, was expelled on 24th January, 1980, for handing over NZ$10,000 to the SUP. In 1987, Labour Prime Minister David Lange ordered KGB resident Sergei Budnik to leave the country for too close a relationship with the SUP. These incidents were well publicized at the time, but were mere distractions from the ongoing successes of the Peace Movement. They were assisted by Prime Minister Muldoon’s insistence that the Americans send warships on visits to New Zealand. This was revealed during a Fullbright Speech delivered in
The authors can recall one particular seminal incident. On 25th May, 1982, the guided missile cruiser USS Truxton was entering Wellington harbour, accompanied by the large protest fleet. A news team from Television NZ was allowed on board to interview the captain, which was shown later on the evening news. He sounded an idiot, as if he couldn’t understand simple questions. Indeed the captain watched the same interview and immediately called the US Embassy, complaining that he had been set up. Calls were made to Television NZ at their Avalon Studio outside Wellington and it was discovered that the news editor had deliberately spliced the interview tape. He admitted the deed, along with his sympathy for the Peace Movement. The Head of News appeared irritated that his man had been caught and allowed that he would receive – a caution. In his speech, Dr Bassett addressed a central mystery in the ANZUS breakup: “What hasn’t been answered satisfactorily to date, is why David Lange, given the commitments he made to (Secretary of State George Schultz in 1984, capitulated a few months later to those who wanted all ‘nuclear capable’ ships excluded from New Zealand. The answer, I suggest, is inextricably linked to a political struggle within the Labour Party at the time.” Dr Bassett claimed that this struggle led Lange to make a unilateral, rather than a collective Cabinet decision to rupture NZ’s defence arrangements with the United States. In early 1985, Lange was Prime Minister, but leading the Labour Party in name only.
“Peace was high on the agenda. As one tutor told us: ‘We have many clever people in the Soviet Union, but no one has even been able to come up with a weapon potentially as powerful as the Peace Movement Wellington on 5th August, 2003, by Dr Michael Bassett, a former Labour Government Cabinet Minister. A Fulbright Professor of New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University in 2002, Dr Bassett as Minister of Health in the Lange Government had a ringside seat as events unfolded, climaxing in New Zealand being taken out of ANZUS. The speech entitled “George Schultz and David Lange: The Collapse of New Zealand’s Military Ties with the United States”, received no publicity despite its sensational revelations and call for Prime Minister Helen Clark to resolve the “needless irritation” with the United States. Dr Bassett recalled the warship issue: “Many Labour politicians, myself included, objected to the way he (Muldoon) played domestic politics with American ship visits. Denis McLean, Secretary of Defence in the 1980s and later Ambassador to Washington DC, confirmed in an interview that Muldoon sought more American ship visits than the Americans felt comfortable making.” “Muldoon’s practice appeared to be to request a visit whenever he was floundering in the polls, because he calculated he could win publicly from the protests. Few people knew of the American reluctance to play along with Muldoon.” The US warship visits were a boon to the burgeoning Peace Movement and made for visual propaganda. The evening television news showed the grey warship slowly making its way into harbour, surrounded by a huge flotilla of small craft carrying protesters. The image was of a Kiwi David standing up to an American Goliath.
He perceived that by rejecting a visit by the (oil fired destroyer) USS Buchanan, he could at last win over his party. His Cabinet and Caucus were not fully in the picture, but went along with him because they too hoped to heal the rift inside the Labour Party. “Frankly as Ministers, we had increasing difficulty understanding the volume of words flowing from Lange’s mouth at Cabinet and Caucus meetings, as he performed verbal cartwheels before falling into the hands of his sternest internal critics at the end of January 1985. My notes from meetings I attended, fail to convey any consistent line in the Prime Minister’s thinking as he thrashed around the dilemma posed by the American request for a ship visit.” However, Dr Bassett admitted that Cabinet Ministers were so occupied with the plethora of other economic and social issues, that they were not fully engaged with the ship visit, at the precise moment when it mattered. There was also another bitter internal struggle diverting attention from the nuclear ships issue. “The NZ women’s movement was nearing its peak. Several on the party’s National Executive, particularly the present Prime Minister Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson, had agendas to implement. Access to abortion, pay equity, state-funded childcare and other forms of assistance to women were their principal causes, and the Labour Party their chosen vehicle. Their first objective was to capture the membership. “Set against this faction in the party was a generally older, more traditionally pro-family group, that also favoured existing defence INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 37
alliances. Most of this group were already in Parliament and their prospective leader was David Lange. Lange had no Parliamentary peer for oratory. At his best he was grand, sometimes inspiring. Even on an off day, he could entertain. The women’s movement found him intolerable. On the issues they focused on, his mercurial, witty style conflicted with their seriousness. “When Lange came within an ace of winning leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party in December 1980, his opponents moved into top gear. Over the next two years they spared no effort to capture the hearts and minds of party activists and to poison them against Lange and his allies.” A bitter struggle to seize control of Labour’s policy formation process was waged. “Meetings of the Policy Council became pitched battles between Labour Members of Parliament and party insurgents.” Then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon called a snap election. “What has this got to do with the anti-nuclear policy? It meant that when Lange became Prime Minister, he had been unable to place his stamp upon the party, or its policy. Unlike previous Labour leaders, he hadn’t risen to office through the party machine. He never fully understood its Byzantine rituals. He found himself unwelcome, sometimes insulted, at meetings of the party’s National Executive. He had neither the personal toughness, nor the negotiating experience, to bring his opposition to heel. They dismissed his oratory as empty rhetoric. “After Lange was sworn in as Prime Minister in July, 1984, he
to Washington where she lunched with NZ Embassy officials and had appointments with peace-movement activists. “The Embassy gave nothing away about discussions between the two governments, but soon after her return to New Zealand, she received a call from an American journalist who had picked up information about an imminent request from the Americans for a ship visit to New Zealand.” On 25th January, Margaret Wilson (then Party President) met with three junior backbenchers, Helen Clark, Jim Anderton and Fran Wilde. The result: Wilson proposed and had accepted by the National Executive, that no ship capable of carrying nuclear weapons should be allowed to enter New Zealand waters. Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed to Dr Bassett in March 2003, that the intention was to lock the Government into its policy. A network of peace activist was kept fully informed, as were media sympathizers. “A campaign to keep the USS Buchanan out of New Zealand was coordinated over the next few days from the back-bench offices of several Government MPs.” At this stage, Ministers were returning to Wellington from their summer holidays. There had been a brief Cabinet meeting, but no discussion of the ship issue. Dr Bassett describes what happened: “Unbeknown to us, that day (January 17th, 1985) a formal request for a visit by the USS Buchanan was received at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office. But
“In December, 1984, a visiting American diplomat discovered with alarm that Lange’s Cabinet colleagues were not in the loop about what was being negotiated. Nor had Cabinet discussed the implications of any request for a ship visit. Lange said virtually nothing to his colleagues. Instead he went on holiday and then to the Tokelaus and his allies ensured that the insurgents (Clark, Wilson and Jim Anderton) were not part of the ministry. The insurgents leaked material to the press and caused endless ructions. I penned a diary note on 23rd November: ‘They have decided to kill this Government, rather than have it run by the people they dislike.’” Two days after the election, George Schultz arrived in New Zealand from Canberra, to attend a meeting of the ANZUS Council. He was accompanied by Paul Wolfowitz (later architect of the Iraq regime-change policy) and the Commander in Chief of US Pacific Forces Admiral William Crowe. Lange promised Schultz he would negotiate a way to allow some American naval vessels to enter New Zealand waters, but asked for a “comfortable time” before the request was made. “When they eventually found out what was being proposed, Lange’s Labour opponents set out to torpedo all visits by American naval vessels. As chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Helen Clark had been hoping to influence the evolution of Labour’s ship policy, but Lange kept quiet about what was happening. “Not even Frank O’Flynn, his Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, who visited Admiral Crowe in Hawaii in October, was fully in the picture. “In December, 1984, Helen Clark visited New York on an invitation from Kora Weiss of the anti-nuclear movement and went 38 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
just as it was about to reach his desk, Lange took off on a visit to one of the most remote spots in the South Pacific – the Tokelau Islands – where no New Zealand Prime Minister had been for 40 years. “He was virtually incommunicado for several days, except for what he described as ‘garbled reports from home’ on a crackly ship radio. The ‘tramp steamer’ taking him from Samoa to Fakeolo took 37 hours. Over the next four days he met people, swam, and was entertained. He then took another 49 hours returning to Samoa. There he was collected by an RNZAF Boeing 727 and returned to Wellington.” “Was David Lange evading the issue of the USS Buchanan? The officials I’ve interviewed certainly thought so, and I agree with their assessment. Helen Clark would observe to me later that Lange always took the line of least resistance.” “One thing is for sure: Lange had done none of the political spadework necessary to fulfill the commitments he had earlier given to Secretary Schultz. Indeed Ministers were never told precisely by Lange what he had promised Schultz, nor were we asked to support his commitments.” Dr Bassett says that Gerald Hensley, former Head of the PM’s Department, told him that American sources at the Embassy in Wellington, confided that they had realized in December 1984,
Lange promised Schultz he would negotiate a way to allow some American naval vessels to enter New Zealand waters, but asked for a “comfortable time” before the request was made
that Lange was undertaking none of the spadework necessary to sell the deal which his officials were working on. “When Lange established Cabinet committees at the end of July 1984, there was none to discuss the nuclear ship issue. Nor did the Prime Minister appear to have any colleagues with whom he consulted on the nuclear ships issue. I acted as Minister of Foreign Affairs while Lange was in New York (for a second meeting with Schultz) and received no briefing about the visit. “In December, 1984, a visiting American diplomat discovered with alarm that Lange’s Cabinet colleagues were not in the loop about what was being negotiated. Nor had Cabinet discussed the implications of any request for a ship visit. Lange said virtually nothing to his colleagues. Instead he went on holiday and then to the Tokelaus.” Whilst Lange was there, far away, Margaret Wilson advised the Acting Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer about the National Executive’s new policy of no nuclear-capable ships. “On hearing this, Palmer took fright and wrote a memo to Lange (which he read on the RNZAF flight home) advising that the American request be declined. Floods of letters and telegrams, many drummed up by his Caucus critics awaited his return.” Back in Wellington and under huge pressure, Lange after failing to prepare the ground politically, was seeking a way out. Dr Bassett recalls: “It slowly dawned on the rest of us that our lack of information over such a long period, meant we had lost the initiative. Ministers turned instead to discussing how to minimize the political fallout.
“Through Lange’s political career he hated confrontation. It sometimes made him physically ill. And he naturally craved acceptance and endorsement form the party he led. His opponents knew all these things. While, as Gerald Hensley observed to me, Lange was angry that the National Executive was ‘running this pin into his bottom’, he decided it was easier to live with the pain than with his commitment to Schultz. “After Cabinet on 28th January, Lange received a deputation from some members of Labour’s National Executive. He seems not to have disputed Margaret Wilson’s unilateral re-definition of Labour policy, although he recognized it for what it was.” The Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Bill passed into law on 4th June, 1987. Dr Bassett indicates the strength of feeling with this account: “At a gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the end of 1992, Schultz was approached by Dennis McLean who introduced himself as New Zealand’s new ambassador to Washington. Schultz glared at him and barked: ‘Your Prime Minister lied to me!’, then walked away. “Why did Lange take so few steps to deliver on his assurance to Schultz? It is my belief that Lange’s desire to be loved by the Labour Party got the better of him in the end. He was never much interested in party policy, and had neither the political instincts, the negotiating skills, or the capacity to use his leader’s authority that other like Peter Fraser, Norman Kirk, Bob Hawke and Helen Clark, possessed in abundance.” “Lange took virtually no political counsel from his Cabinet colleagues, probably knowing that they would recommend confrontINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 39
agencies in Washington, accompanied by Simon Murdoch (then a counselor at the NZ embassy). It was like an excommunication. Michael Armacost, the Under Secretary of State told them that it was not the US which was filing for divorce. It had been told that it couldn’t come into the bedroom. A senior official in the State Department commented, “I thought you guys must have been smoking pot, you were in some dreamland.” He said that the overriding American interest now in the Cold War, was to protect its other alliances. In an intriguing aside, he mentioned that the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher herself had stressed to President Reagan, the importance of maintaining New Zealand’s intelligence flow, “The British have been all over us.” David Lange died on 13th August, 2005, honoured as the nationalist leader who stood up to the United States for New Zealand’s independence. But as Hensley observed: “What could be more independent than quarrelling with our old friends and our wartime saviour.” The Cold War is now a distant memory, but in the 1980s the Soviet Union was still engaged in a relentless struggle to gain hegemony over the West. The source of the strategic initiative to remove New Zealand from ANZUS has been revealed as the International Department of the CPSU. A key question is, to what extent those people on the Labour Party’s National Executive, who played a leading role in taking NZ out of ANZUS; understood that they were serving the strategic interests of a hostile foreign power.
ing people, something of which he was incapable. Lange allowed himself to become isolated from his closest allies, who had promoted and protected him in the past. As a result, Helen Clark, Margaret Wilson and Jim Anderton cornered him. They eyeballed him till he blinked. It became easier for him to sacrifice the American connection than to fight. “He would settle for what he was beginning to sense could be a popular diversion at home, something with theatrical potential. While his ministers were re-structuring the economy, he’s become a ‘Nuke-Buster’. They could look after the bread, he’d handle the circuses.” After the famous Oxford Union debate with Rev Jerry Falwell in March 1985, Lange returned a national hero. His retort to Falwell: “I can smell the uranium on your breath!” delighted the country. Dr Bassett observed that now Lange was slowly parted from his original Cabinet and Caucus supporters. Margaret Wilson suggested weekly meetings and he found himself beguiled and embraced by his former mortal enemies. End of the Alliance Gerald Hensley published his memoirs Final Approaches in 2006. A former diplomat, he served as Head of the Prime Minister’s Department under both Muldoon and Lange, and was Secretary of Defence 1991-1999. In his chapter entitled “The Elusive David Lange”, he gives an intimate account of the nuclear ships issue, but also the aftermath. He acknowledges that the Americans felt deceived and mentions meeting Paul Wolfowitz in Honolulu, ten years later and still angry. “I went out on a limb for you guys,” he complained. Hensley described the bleak task of doing the rounds of the 40 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Footnotes: 1. Merwyn Norrish, Prospects for New Zealand, International Review 9, no.5 (September/October 1984) 24-25 2. Tim Donoghue, Hard Cheese, New Zealand Herald, May 23, 1986, p.8 3. Anthony Neary and Jack Kelliher, The Price of Principle (Harlen Publishing 1986, p.2060.w 4. Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (London: Hodder&Stoughton, 1990), p.513 5.Oleg Gordievsky, Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky (London: MacMillan, 1995), pp.356-6 6. Gordievsky, quoted by Greg Ansley in the New Zealand Herald, 15th October 1990. (Ansley was quoting interviews that Gordievsky had given to Australian journalist James O’Brien, which had appeared in the Melbourne Herald Sun and Brisbane Courier Mail.) 7. Ibid 8. The “Peace Council” here refers to the New Zealand Peace Council for World Peace (NZCWP), the SUP-controlled affiliate of the Soviet-run World Peace Council. The NZCWP later became the Peace Council of Aotearoa/NZ. Investigate magazine clashed heavily with the Peace Council in early 2007 over its ongoing role in compromising news media through “the Media Peace Awards”. See http://www.thebriefingroom.com/archives/2007/08/the_rise_of_the.html ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Bernard Moran, a freelance journalist, is an occasional contributor to Investigate. Trevor Loudon, a Christchurch businessman, is a specialist on the hard Left in New Zealand. His blog and website can be reached on NewZeal.blogspot.com n
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 41
to forgive The Power
One scientist’s battle to unlock the secret
42 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
To err is human, to
forgive, divine. Or so the saying goes.
Now scientists have put the concept to
the test, and found those who can
forgive others – even for the most horrific
crimes – go on to live the happiest lives.
MARK JOHNSON has this fascinating
n the autumn of 1984, Robert Enright sat at his desk behind a stack of books, lost in uneasy thought. Why am I doing what I’m doing? He had spent almost a decade studying how children view justice, publishing dozens of papers. The subject was to be his life’s work. Now, on sabbatical from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was plowing through the books, the fruits of a century of progress in his field. Except that what he saw wasn’t progress at all. The same ideas were being recycled every few decades. Research papers were so thick with jargon that no one outside a small circle could understand them. His own work was no better. All these years he’d been writing for a handful of people. “I decided to throw all of my work over the cliff,” recalls Enright, who was 33 at the time and married with a young son. “I had two to three grants a year. I had the respect of my colleagues. I was on Easy Street and I was bored with it. Easy Street was killing me.” He abandoned a decade of his life in boxes and file cabinets, and never looked at the work again. He had no plan for what to do next. The following spring, in a rare moment of prayer while driving to the university, an idea came to him. He had a student in crisis, running out of money, in desperate need of a subject for her dissertation. As he prayed, for reasons he still cannot explain, a single word materialized, a topic for his student. And for himself. Forgiveness. In the years that followed, Enright, a professor of educational psychology, studied the word, sifting through its layers of meaning. Working with graduate students, he placed forgiveness under a microscope and made a science of it. He brought the word to suffering populations: incest survivors, abused wives, the terminally ill and the children of Belfast. He came to believe this simple idea had the power to change lives and perhaps even transform societies. Forgiveness made Enright the pioneer of a new field – and tested him in ways he had not bargained for. He explains something we don’t understand. When Amish families forgive the gunman who killed their schoolchildren, reporters track down Enright to ask what so many wonder: How can they forgive? The Amish, he says, have spent years building their “forgiveness muscle.” When President Clinton admits “I have sinned,” and asks wife and country to forgive him, Enright tells National Public Radio that dramatic acts of repentance are unnecessary. Forgiveness, he says, is not to be earned or manipulated by the wrongdoer, but given freely by the victim. “Forgiveness is a Choice” becomes the title of his 2001 book. The book arrives in stores on the day the Pentagon burns. Driving into the smoking capital that morning, Sept. 11, 2001, Washington Times reporter Julia Duin glances at the hardcover edition on her passenger seat and decides to call Enright. “Forgiveness,” he tells her, “starts with rage.” INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 43
and hope more than women who did not receive the therapy. In 2006, Enright and another student, Gayle L. Reed, reported that emotionally abused wives who received forgiveness therapy showed a similar improvement, compared with wives who received a different therapy. His work has propelled the forgiveness field through a decade-long growth spurt. A 1998 analysis found just 58 forgiveness studies up to that point. By 2005, the number had risen more than tenfold to 950. Enright’s status in the field spawned a nickname: the father of forgiveness research.
The media calls come to Enright, and so does the criticism. There are those who believe that forgiveness research is religion masquerading as science. Others insist there has been too much emphasis on forgiveness lately, as if it were the only way to let go of anger. And still others question whether letting go ought to be the goal at all. “Rape victims who have a lot of anger may use that anger to work in a rape crisis center or a battered women’s shelter,” explains Sharon Lamb, a professor of psychology at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. “Anger can be productive and energizing.” Still, among colleagues in the field, the 56-year-old Enright is revered. To write about forgiveness studies without mentioning him, “is like doing a paper on psychoanalysis and leaving out Sigmund Freud,” says Frederick A. DiBlasio, who teaches clinical social work at the University of Maryland. Everett L. Worthington Jr., a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, calls Enright “the unquestioned scientific pioneer” of forgiveness research. Such praise raises an intriguing question about science and forgiveness – concepts that seem to grow on opposite branches of the academic tree. How does one treat forgiveness as a science? “We have to think of science as being able to objectify anything that exists on this earth,” Enright says. “If we wanted to do a scientific study of angels we couldn’t do that. But if somebody was interested in angels, they could do a study of peoples’ images of angels, and their sense of when angels help them. That’s a scientific question. I’m studying living and breathing, flesh-and-blood people.” He and a former student, Suzanne Freedman, carried out a two-year study testing forgiveness as a therapy for incest survivors. The study, published in 1996, found that women who sat through weekly sessions encouraging them to forgive their abusers reduced their anxiety and depression, and increased self-esteem 44 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
As a boy, he loved being tossed by waves When the family lived in southern California, Enright’s father would take them to the beach at Playa del Rey to bodysurf. Although one of his friends had drowned at the same beach, Enright could not resist the unsettling thrill of feeling himself pulled under water, dragged over sand and shells, then finally released, gasping for air. He fell in love with risk. Those jolting moments in the waves stood out in a childhood that passed gently, without the emotional turbulence that leads children to confront forgiveness. His older brother, Bill, treated his demands – the front seat of the car, the largest helping of dessert – with patience. At school, Enright, who was tall for his age, never had to endure bullying. “That was one of the gifts of my life,” he says. “I didn’t know the wrath of other kids.” His father, William Enright, an elementary school principal, was a no-nonsense disciplinarian who relied on his firm voice rather than threats or physical punishment. His mother, Margaret Enright, preferred empathy: Look at your brother. You hurt him by what you said. In his teen years, Robert Enright’s family moved across the country to Massachussetts, where he graduated from high school in 1969. At nearby Westfield State College, he majored in education until he grew “horrendously bored.” In the middle of his junior year, Enright switched to psychology and found a new way of looking at the world. Psychology took him below the surface of human behavior to an inner world of motives and morals. After graduating in 1973, he moved to the University of Minnesota and apprenticed with a professor named Norman Sprinthall, well-known for his work in high schools. Sprinthall studied how children become fair, then devised ways of steering adolescents toward justice. Enright launched a similar project of his own, developing lessons to help elementary schoolchildren think about fairness and justice. He knew what he wanted to do with his life. In just three years, he sped from bachelor’s degree to doctorate – a passage that takes many students six years or more.
“In the classroom, he picked up everything with the speed of light,” says Sprinthall, now retired and living in North Carolina. “I knew that he was going to break new ground.” At Minnesota, Enright met his wife, Nancy, a quiet psychology major from rural Iowa with a gift for seeing the humanity in everyone. They married and moved to Louisiana, where Enright spent an unfulfilling year teaching at the University of New Orleans. He applied to other schools, and in the fall of 1978, landed the job at University of Wisconsin. Over the next six years, he wrote papers, won grants, earned tenure. He built a reputation. Then he turned to forgiveness In the spring of 1985, Enright asked a University of Wisconsin librarian to look up the general research history of forgiveness. The librarian found articles in the fields of theology and philosophy. But after searching psychology, she returned with an empty piece of paper. Enright had been seeking a fresh topic. At the same time, he knew that novelty is something academics both cherish and resist. “He must have just taken a deep breath,” Sprinthall says of his former student. “That’s almost the bugaboo of educational psychology – when people come along with new ideas, it’s very difficult to get them published.” Enright had told his wife when he decided to abandon the justice research. Now he told her about the new work. He never asked. He never phoned Sprinthall or another colleague for advice. “I felt no need to be affirmed by anyone,” he says. He began by forming a forgiveness study group with some of his graduate students. Every Friday, they gathered at long rectangular tables facing one another: a Muslim man from Saudi Arabia, a Greek man, a Jewish woman, a Korean woman, an evangelical Christian man, a Catholic priest and a Catholic woman from Brazil. And then there was Enright, raised Catholic but now entering a period of spiritual searching. Together they examined the earliest stories of forgiveness. From the Hebrew tradition, the story of Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers. From Buddhist writings, the story of a philosopher who forgives the king for having him whipped. From Christianity, the prodigal son, welcomed home by his father after squandering his inheritance. Mapping this new field led Enright’s group to the fundamental question: What is forgiveness? In freewheeling discussions, they tested definitions from philosophy, asking: What is missing? Does this definition confuse forgiving with something else? They debated whether a forgiver, a battered woman for example, must be good to her offender, or whether it is enough to stop being resentful? (The “good” camp prevailed.) Gradually, they eliminated the things that forgiving is not: condoning, forgetting, reconciling, denying justice. After two years, they settled on this: Forgiving occurs when people who have been treated unfairly reduce their resentment and are good to offenders who may be undeserving. The study group would go on to examine how people forgive and what happens to them. “It was a time of extremes,” Enright recalls. “The students and I were excited. We were coming up with new ideas all the time. And my fellow professors, here and elsewhere, thought I had lost my ever-loving mind.”
The study found that women who sat through weekly sessions encouraging them to forgive their abusers reduced their anxiety and depression, and increased self-esteem and hope more than women who did not receive the therapy
He seemed an odd candidate to become the father of forgiveness research. He was studying something most people encountered in their lives, yet he was almost a stranger to it in his own. “I was a naive person,” he says. “Until that time, I’d never had many hurts in my life.” That would change. Each Friday, he walked out of those dynamic group meetings into a world that showed little enthusiasm for the study of forgiveness. Agencies would not fund his research. He mailed dozens of applications and inquiries. Six years went by without a single grant. Enright’s forgiveness papers took twice as long to publish as his previous work. One article appeared in print 10 years after he first submitted it. His own colleagues were deeply skeptical. A fellow professor once asked: Do you really think forgiveness therapy is going to reduce depression? Enright replied that he did. The colleague shook his head and walked away laughing. Another professor warned one of Enright’s students against studying forgiveness. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 45
“He thought it would negatively affect my career and it might be hard for me to get a job,” says Suzanne Freedman, who would go on to work with Enright on the incest study. “My friends would joke, `What is this forgiveness group? We’re going to start a revenge group.’ We were told it was soft science.” Freedman, who now teaches human development at the University of Northern Iowa, ignored the jokes and warnings. Enright tried to do the same. “I threw my energies into building the house,” he says of his field, “and I let them laugh.” He and his students were building a science, examining the process people follow to forgive, learning whether they do so unconditionally or require apologies. The latter question prompted Enright’s first paper in the field, published in 1989 in the Journal of Adolescence. He and students Maria Santos and Radhi Al-Mabuk conducted two experiments in which they posed moral dilemmas to participants and asked what they would require in order to forgive someone. Unconditional forgivers, they learned, are rare. In each subsequent study, Enright and his students focused on a group of people in similar circumstances – elderly women, incest survivors, college students deprived of parental love. Participants were not told they were entering “a forgiveness study,” a label that might prejudice them before the experiment began. Enright’s team then randomly assigned participants either to an experimental group that received forgiveness therapy or a control
FOUR PHASES OF FORGIVENESS PHASE 1: “Uncovering your anger” It requires that participants ask themselves a series of questions: How have you avoided dealing with anger? Have you faced your anger? Are you afraid to expose your shame or guilt? Has your anger affected your health? Have you been obsessed about the injury you received or the offender? Do you compare your situation with that of the offender? Has the injury caused a permanent change in your life? Has the injury changed your world view? PHASE 2: “Deciding to forgive” Decide that what you have been doing hasn’t worked. Be willing to begin the forgiveness process. Decide to forgive. PHASE 3: “Working on forgiveness” Work toward understanding. Work toward compassion. Accept the pain. Give the offender a gift. PHASE 4: “Discovery and release from emotional prison” Discover the meaning of suffering. Discover your need for forgiveness. Discover that you are not alone. Discover the purpose of your life. Discover the freedom of forgiveness.
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group that did not. They tested people before and after treatments using established tools for measuring anxiety, depression and anger. They conducted follow-up tests to rule out the possibility that any benefits of forgiveness might be temporary. If critics and grant agencies viewed the field as soft science, Enright would make sure experiments followed the most trusted methods. Work would be his response to skeptics. Any anger or frustration he resolved to keep to himself. At home in Madison, he played tennis with his two sons, coached Shawn’s basketball team, helped Kevin with his baseball. He told them, “Dad studies forgiveness,” and left it at that. Sometimes, though, when the criticism hurt most, he would confide in his wife. You study forgiveness, she would remind him gently. Now it’s time to put it into practice. At her urging, he tried to understand his critics. Many were coming from the mainstream and he remembered being there: the feeling of comfort, the fear of change. The study group had been working on a pathway to forgiveness, and Enright followed his own steps as best he could. Uncovering anger. Deciding to forgive. Working on forgiveness. “I took my own medicine,” he says of forgiving. “And sometimes I’d say, `Bob, your medicine is hard medicine.’” He was becoming two men: the scientist and the advocate. The scientist guarded against prejudice and fiercely resisted any suggestion that he had become a booster of forgiveness. He tested the therapies – rigorously tested them, he believed. And in one experiment after another, he saw the same result: People felt better after letting go of anger and forgiving. Not that everyone reached the same conclusion. “The research has never adequately teased out the difference between letting go of anger and forgiving,” says Lamb of Saint Michael’s College. Others saw no ambiguity. In 1998, psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons wrote: “The research on forgiveness by Robert Enright and his colleagues may be as important to the treatment of emotional and mental disorders as the discovery of sulfa drugs and penicillin have been to the treatment of infectious diseases.” The way Enright saw it, pioneering doctors often become advocates. Once they establish that a medicine is good, they feel dutybound to share it. In 2000, Enright and his students began working on a forgiveness curriculum for children in troubled regions. They searched for the perfect laboratory: an entrenched conflict, a culture steeped in grudges and revenge. They looked, too, for the presence of churches, where people might learn the foundations of forgiving. Belfast, Northern Ireland, topped the list. In early 2001, the plan received a financial boost when the Greater Milwaukee Foundation approached Enright, offering to fund graduate fellowships in world peace. The Belfast project emerged at a particularly difficult time for Enright. Back in 1997, his wife, Nancy, had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Twice he’d taken her to Germany for cutting-edge treatments. By 2000, she was bedridden. For the next two years, their lives centered on the family room where she slept in a hospital bed, he in a cot. Several times a night, he was up to help her through pain and upset stomachs. The forgiveness group stopped meeting. Still, Enright man-
aged to complete two books and lay some of the groundwork for the Belfast project. One of his students, a physical education teacher named Jeanette Knutson, took the lead in devising the curriculum. At home, the professor was learning the limits of his subject. He thought hard about the injustice of Nancy’s illness, but there was no one to forgive. Not Nancy, of course. Not the doctors who did their best. Not God, who, Enright told himself, cannot be unjust. On April 8, 2002, Nancy Enright died. At the end, he placed his cheek against hers and she took her final breath. The pain he felt was the deepest he had ever known. A few months later, the forgiveness program began in the Belfast schools. That fall, feeling both grief and exhilaration, Enright journeyed to Northern Ireland with Knutson and other students. To win support for the project, they met with parents, teachers, community leaders, even paramilitary soldiers. At Ligoniel Primary School, ringed by a fence topped with barbed wire, Principal Claire Hilman had worried about using “forgiveness” in the project’s title. “We thought,” she says, “that there would be a deep historical feeling that there is no forgiveness.” The program started in first grade at five Belfast schools. Knutson’s curriculum used the books of Dr. Seuss to convey a simple message: All people have worth. The idea was embedded in the famous line from “Horton Hears a Who”: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” At Ligoniel, Hilman saw the message reach her children. A 7year-old boy, small for his age and deeply troubled, listened to the story of Horton. Then, says Hilman, “he told the teacher, `That means I’m as good as ...’ and he named another, larger boy in class.” In the second year, the curriculum was expanded to include firstand second-graders in 15 to 20 classrooms. Knutson and Enright, now good friends, added a new program each year for the next grade. By 2006, the lessons were reaching 1,200 students in more than 50 Belfast classrooms, Catholic and Protestant alike. On a recent visit to Ligoniel, Enright passed walls decorated with “forgiveness quilts” made by the children. A study this fall in The Journal of Research in Education showed that Belfast students taking the forgiveness lessons reduced their anger more than other students. In the last few years, Enright and Knutson have brought the same curriculum to schools in Milwaukee and Madison where hundreds of students now learn about forgiveness. On June 30, 2006, at the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome, Enright and Knutson were married. On a warm evening in September, he paces vigorously in front of the blackboard, a middle-aged professor with graying hair, introducing the new crop of students to his field. “When I come in to the university each day about the only thing I think about and talk about and write about is forgiveness,” Enright says. “I’m immersed in it. I’m the quintessential academic where my learning has gotten narrower and narrower and narrower as I’ve aged and aged and aged.” He thinks about his subject in the relaxed moments of the early morning – “forgiveness play,” he calls it. He thinks as he lifts weights and rides his bicycle and at the day’s end when he and Jeanette are alone, exchanging ideas in a final mental burst before sleep.
Forgiveness, Enright has learned, tests both individuals and societies. “The rehab is painful,” he says. “That, in essence, is what we’re doing when we’re forgiving. We’re trying to rehab our heart. And what we’re trying to do in Belfast and central city Milwaukee is rehab a community.” In his own life, the test was humbling. Pioneering a new field required more than the confidence to cast his old work over a cliff. He had to learn to forgive. n
GROWING FIELD Admittedly, few parents are likely to hear a child say: “When I grow up, I’d like to be a professional forgiveness researcher.” But today, there are more than 1,000 forgiveness researchers who have come to the field from a wide range of specialties, says Everett L. Worthington Jr., a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Most come from the field of psychology. However, there are some neuroscientists, and even a few economists, political scientists and primatologists. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison came to the study through educational psychology, a diverse field that tries to apply psychological approaches to the classroom.
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a girl’s name” Muslims in today’s Britain
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When Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams kicked off the sharia law debate worldwide last month, it served as a touchstone for a much deeper issue: how far modern immigration policies are pushing cultural and democratic boundaries. Investigate’s London bureau chief SELWYN PARKER reports on how Britain is handling “the Muslim issue”
ou would not think the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, occupies a particularly controversial job. Apart from seemingly endless disputes over the role of women and gays in the Church of England, he largely confines himself to ceremonial appearances, erudite speeches on ecclesiastical issues, church politics and numerous administrative duties. It is not like the old days when, like Thomas a Becket, you could get hacked to death at the altar for crossing the king. Now, more than 800 years later, an Archbishop of Canterbury can expect to think out loud and not get into trouble. Except, that is, when the good archbishop expressed a few thoughts about the advisability of incorporating Muslim law into the British legal code. What he actually suggested – well, said – was that the adoption of some elements of the Islamic code “seems unavoidable”. Dr. Williams was referring in particular to sharia courts in marital disputes or finanINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 49
A survey showed that 40 per cent of British Muslims want sharia law introduced in parts of the country
cial matters. Now, the archbishop was not suggesting a parallel Islamic code existing alongside England’s Judaeo-Christian tradition, but he was at the very least airing the notion that Muslims might be able to call on their own legal system on specific – and, as it happens, very common – issues. The archbishop had obviously put a lot of thought into his observations. For a start, he made the remark in a lecture on civil and religious law at the Royal Courts of Justice. And he clearly believed what he said. For the record, here is the crucial paragraph: “If what we want is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of diverse and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it seems unavoidable.” I don’t know about you, but I see that as meaning it is unfair for people of different faiths in a multi-cultural society to have to abide by the institutions of British culture or law. Anyway, it quickly turned out that the courteous, even inoffensive, churchman had put his sandal right in it. The press reacted with uproar. Prime minister Gordon Brown gave him what might be safely assumed to be a blistering phone call. His counterpart in the Catholic church was horrified. Dr. Williams’ predecessor said the introduction of any aspect of Sharia law would be a disaster. Not even the (moderate) Muslim community were 50 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
impressed. Oxford’s professor Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar and a Muslim, said: “These kinds of statements just feed the fears of fellow citizens.” Muslims had to find their own way of observing Islamic principles while abiding by the common law. But others took comfort in the notion that Muslims might, uniquely of all the religions accommodated within Britain, get a foot in the legal door. A survey showed that 40 per cent of British Muslims want sharia law introduced in parts of the country. Since that uproar the archbishop has not returned to the subject, except to say he was only trying to “tease out” the issue, and it is most unlikely he will. Apart from the prospect of Britain’s hard-won legal code – democratic, highly inclusive, anti-discriminatory in terms of race, sex and religion – having a few bits of another one bolted on to it for no obvious reason, this is a highly sensitive subject. This is not just because Britain’s police are engaged in a war against terrorism. It is mainly because, so far, all of the convicted terrorists have been Muslim. Not your typical, good-citizen Muslims, of which there are 1.7 million in Britain, but Muslim fanatics eager to blow up planes, trains, buildings and of course their human contents in a glorious repeat (in their eyes) of the attack of July 7, 2005. The conviction in February of five terrorists, all Muslims, shows what British society is up against. One of the convicted was a smartly-dressed teaching mentor in a secondary school, two were
committed members of the al-Qa’eda network living undercover in Birmingham, one was a dupe who had allowed himself to be recruited, and the fifth, the heavily-bearded Parviz Khan, was a 37 year-old father of two. Khan loved nothing more than to give his five year-old son and three-year old daughter instructions in terrorism, all while banking £1,669 [$] a month in benefits for looking after his elderly mother. “Who do you kill?” Khan asked his son. “America kill”, the boy said. “Who else you kill?” “Bush I kill”, the boy said. “And who else?” “Blair kill, both people kill”. And so on. All this was picked up by a bug planted in Khan’s home. It also recorded him plotting to behead a kidnap victim “like you cut a pig”. The plan was to send the video of the atrocity to the chacha [uncles] of al-Qa’eda in Afghanistan, presumably so they could see he had the right stuff. Although he was living off the state, Khan seemed to have plenty of money. He made several trips to Pakistan (a flashing red light to the anti-terrorism squad) and sometimes took his children with him.
erhaps most alarming is the attitude of Khan and his fellow accomplices. Although they lived in Britain – and in Khan’s case, lived off it, they appear not to have been a part of it. They walked the streets, did the shopping, attended government agencies, watched television. And yet they appear totally desensitised to their adopted nation. Far from having any sense of obligation to their fellow citizens, they saw them as essentially worthless, objects of hate and, as such, perfectly legitimate targets. Even though he was barely of school age, Khan’s son was well on the way to acquiring the same attitude. As one authority wrote recently of Muslim terrorists, the process of desensitising starts early and takes a long time but, once it is done, the individuals are so far gone they have lost all normal sense of humanity. Police estimate there are about 2000 Muslims like this in Britain, all working towards acts of terrorism within extremist networks. In early March, a street preacher named Mohammed Hamid, was convicted of organising paramilitary training camps across the country in which he groomed groups of young men, including five convicted of attempting to carry out failed suicide bombings in London on July 21, 2005. The radical cleric lived in Hackney, London – indeed he liked to call himself “Osama bin London” – and used to hold meetings at his home where, police said, he urged his acolytes to take up arms and defend the faith. A shining example of the fanatic’s capacity for self-isolation, Hamid was disappointed at the death count that resulted from the tube and bus bombings of July 7, 2005. The loss of life was “not even breakfast for me”, he said. Hamid and similar nutcase clerics are rapidly turning into a disaster for Britain’s long-established and, until now, lawful Muslim community. Every time they bellow about jihad on street corners or in mosques under the protection of the right to free speech, they undo 200 years of good behaviour. In fact, it could be more than 1300 years of good behaviour. The golden coins minted by the Anglo-Saxon king Offa around 760 bear Arabic Kufic script in what is now seen as a kind of homage to the economically superior Arab world. Offa wanted to encourage commerce in people and goods with these people. After all, Arabs were far nicer to Britain
than were the Romans. Nor did they ever invade Britain, unlike the English kings who rampaged through the Middle East, slashing and pillaging, during the crusades. Muslims began settling in Britain in numbers from the early 1800s – sailors, merchants, servants, students, professionals and princes. Many were refugees attracted by Britain’s liberal attitudes and legal freedoms. In the main they moved into Manchester, Cardiff, East London and Liverpool. Some Britons were so impressed by the Muslim community that they took up the faith themselves. One, Liverpool lawyer William Quilliam, launched a weekly paper for the Islamic community called The Crescent. Another was Sir Marmaduke Pickthall whose 1930 book, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, is still widely read. All that hard-won goodwill is now being rapidly eroded by the fanatics. Despite knowing the Koran backwards, they have a perverted sense of history that tramples on the sensitivities of fellow citizens with disastrous effect. If anything concerns Britons more than the fear of being blown up (passenger numbers on the underground are pretty much back to normal), it is attempts by Muslims to force their views on what is generally a tolerant society. And the insistence on the right to wear fundamentalist dress in contravention of a school’s uniform code is a prime example. There has been a series of these stunts over the years and they are still going on, albeit in more subtle ways. One school, Denbigh INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 51
“Nobody, for example, would have predicted that two terrorists, one a doctor, would try and crash a 4WD through the front door of Glasgow airport, as they did on June 30 last year. As the security-conscious airport manager told me, not even he expected anything like that
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High in Luton, Bedfordshire, bent over backwards (as the judge said) to accommodate traditional dress in a school with a 75 per cent Muslim roll. The rules were perfectly acceptable to mainstream Muslims, who had been fully consulted before they were drawn up. The pupils were allowed to wear a shalwar kameez – a trouser suit with a covering jerkin – but this wasn’t good enough for 15 year-old Shabina Begum. She insisted on donning the full Islamic couture including the head-to-toe jilbab. Her argument was essentially religious; she was required to cover her womanly curves. The complainant was sent home and told to change into school uniform. She refused and took a case to the High Court over, you’ve guessed it, her allegedly violated human rights. There she won but the case went to appeal. After the expenditure of £50,000 of legal aid, much hot air and needless hours of teachers’ time, the law lords overturned the decision. The girl’s counsel was Cherie Booth QC, otherwise known as Mrs. Tony Blair.
The police point out that the IRA tried to limit casualties for political reasons while “modern terrorists” (Muslims are never specifically mentioned) seek the opposite. Nor do they select particular targets but aim at random, making it much harder to beat them to the punch
“Who do you kill?” Khan asked his son. “America kill”, the boy said. “Who else you kill?” “Bush I kill”, the boy said. “And who else?” “Blair kill, both people kill”.
However Muslims might be winning this battle. A Muslim high school in Leicester, which will this year be required to take a quota of nonMuslims, has insisted with the local council’s approval that the newcomers must wear headscarves. “I can’t see why if a student wears a head scarf it should be an issue,” argues assistant principal Zainab Elgaziari. “It’s the same as a shirt or tie. It’s just part of our uniform.” A head scarf is not of course the same as a shirt or tie, both of which are items of clothing bearing no religious significance whatsoever. My own experience of Muslims is mixed. Most longestablished Muslims, it seems to me, are gregarious, courteous, often extremely hardworking and mix reasonably well, like the Bangladeshis who run a successful restaurant around the corner. But others appear socially warped, totally indifferent to all but their own. When I made a grab in a London bus to stop an elderly, jilbab-clad woman in a wheelchair from flying out the door, she and her helper looked at me as though I was crusader wielding a broadsword. How dare I, an infidel! Not a word of thanks, the ingrates. It could be argued that the boot is on the other foot. The Oxbridge-educated elite of the British Foreign Office behaved in much the same way in the old Empire, especially in India. But it did not do them any good in the long run and it won’t do fundamentalist Muslims any good now. While the archbishop is exercised over sharia law, the police say they are stretched
to the limit in combating a very different kind of terrorism from the IRA-led atrocities of the seventies. The police point out that the IRA tried to limit casualties for political reasons while “modern terrorists” (Muslims are never specifically mentioned) seek the opposite. Nor do they select particular targets but aim at random, making it much harder to beat them to the punch. Instead of standard explosives, they may be prepared to employ chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear methods with horrifying implications. At any one time, there may be 30 live plots being planned in 200 terrorist cells. In an example of the difficulties of the modern brand of terrorism, right now Britain’s law-makers are turning themselves into knots over the issue of exactly what is the correct period of detention for suspects. Police say they need 58 days, more than double the present 28 days. They give a variety of what look like sound reasons. Terrorism networks are always international, which stretches police logistics. Enquiries typically take them “from Hyderabad to Hounslow”. They often have to track down specialists in remote dialects and fly them into Britain for interpreting purposes. Because passports and other documents are often highly skilled forgeries, identities take much effort to confirm. Encrypted data on computer hard drives takes a long time to unravel and, similarly, mobile telephony companies may take weeks to locate vital messages. Investigations are slowed down because suspects are permitted regular prayer. Also, it is not insignificant that these are suicide terrorists bent on random mayhem. The police say this requires them to intervene early, on the least sign of suspicion, because they cannot be sure where the danger may be. Nobody, for example, would have predicted that two terrorists, one a doctor, would try and crash a 4WD through the front door of Glasgow airport, as they did on June 30 last year. As the security-conscious airport manager told me, not even he expected anything like that. Now the entrance to the airport is ringed by an iron barricade. It is incidents like these that explain why the police originally sought 90 days – the dreaded old law in apartheid South Africa. Although the vast majority of Muslims are keeping their heads down, some describe the 58-day issue as a witch hunt. The leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, talks of a “climate of fear” created by “misguided legislation”. The government is not however intent on banging up every bushy-bearded man walking down Oxford Street in flowing robes while reciting the Koran. The Home Office has quietly deployed a road show around Muslim communities to beat the ranting clerics to the hearts and minds of their youthful raw material. The main strategy, explains Lord Falconer, secretary of state for constitutional affairs, is to “combat radicalisation at home.” As he elegantly put it: “Counter terrorism is there for the protection of every law-abiding man, woman and child in the country – Muslim, Jew, Christian alike. Indeed as the prime minister said last month ‘we have the most comprehensive panoply of antidiscrimination legislation in the world.’ One law for all. This is the principle that underpins our justice system. Which is why we will not consider permitting Sharia law or any other religious law to determine what constitutes criminal behaviour.” To the average Briton, that seems fair enough. Even if Muslims were the best-loved people in the nation, a Sharia-adulterated English law is a dead duck. And the longer the terrorist campaign goes on, the deader it will be. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 53
WOLF AT THE DOOR Labour seeks migration policy advice from Islamic radical
A suspected Islamic terror supporter named as one of the most “dangerous” Muslim intellectuals in the world has been asked to provide advice to the New Zealand government about integrating Muslim immigrants here. IAN WISHART has the exclusive full story
ariq Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan alBanna – the founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood organization, but while he publicly disavows links with the Brotherhood, British writer Melanie Phillips argued this month that “in the case of Tariq Ramadan the apple has not fallen far from the tree”. So who is he? A Swiss national, Ramadan is banned from entering the US because he donated money to the Palestinian terror group Hamas. His home mosque, the Geneva Islamic Centre, has been associated with Algerian Islamic extremists from the GIA terror group. 54 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Spanish police allege Ramadan has had frequent meetings with Ahmed Brahim, an al Qa’ida leader now in prison. Ramadan denies the link. He is, however, possibly the western world’s most popular Islamic intellectual, because publicly he preaches a message of integration and tolerance. As recently as last month, when the sharia law debate rolled out across Britain, Ramadan was calling for calm and telling Muslims not to rock the boat. These are the kinds of reasons he was invited to New Zealand by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this month, on a taxpayer-funded lecture tour. “The visit was sponsored under the MFAT Overseas Visitors
Fund (OVF) programme,” confirmed the Ministry to Investigate, “which allows for the payment of international and domestic airfares, ground transport and meals and accommodation in New Zealand. (The OVF provides support for a broad range of visits to New Zealand, including by “influential academic or other leaders.”) “Other funding, eg for specific events – including the public talks – was provided by the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA), the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA), MFAT’s Asia Security Fund and Domestic Outreach Fund, Victoria University of Wellington and Auckland University.” Briefing notes for Foreign Minister Winston Peters tell a rosy story about Ramadan’s views and credentials. “Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born grandson of Hassan Al Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), is a widely published theologian and Islamic reformer, who is considered a leading advocate of a “middle way” to adapt Islamic values within modern, pluralistic western societies, while seeking to better explain Islam to a Western audience. This “middle way” explains the need for Muslims – like any citizens – to comply fully with the laws of the land and to respect, in their entirety, the values of western democracies (such as human rights, the rule of law and the renunciation of all forms of violence.) “He is a citizen of Switzerland and currently a resident of the United Kingdom as Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Theology, Oxford. He is also Visiting Professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University (The Netherlands), Senior Research Fellow, Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and Senior Research Fellow at the Lokahi Foundation (London). “Professor Ramadan strongly rejects terrorism and works with various governments, including the UK and a range of other EU member governments, on issues of extremism and radicalisation (including working with Scotland Yard on various investigations.) In the wake of the July 2005 bombings in the United Kingdom, Professor Ramadan joined a government-sponsored taskforce established to explore and tackle issues of radicalisation in British Muslim communities, and a “roadshow” of scholars talking to young people about these issues. “Professor Ramadan is a member of several working parties concerned with Islam in the world and on the European continent, including, Deutsches Orient Institute, British Council, Vienna Peace Summit, Parliament of the World’s Religions, the European Muslim Network and the “Laïcitě et Islam” Commission of the French Education League. “Professor Ramadan holds an MA in Philosophy and French Literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars. Professor Tariq Ramadan is currently President of the European think tank, European Muslim Network (EMN), in Brussels.” But let’s examine some of those details more closely, firstly MFAT’s claim that Ramadan “is considered a leading advocate of a ‘middle way’ to adapt Islamic values within modern, pluralistic western societies, while seeking to better explain Islam to a Western audience. This ‘middle way’ explains the need for Muslims – like any citizens – to comply fully with the laws of the land and to respect, in their entirety, the values of western democracies (such as human rights, the rule of law and the renunciation of all forms of violence.)”
That’s what Ramadan tells the Western leaders. But speaking to Islamic groups, behind closed doors, he says something else: “I will abide by the laws, but only insofar as the laws don’t force me to do anything against my religion…If any given society should take this right away, I will resist and fight that society,” Ramadan said in a tape recorded speech to his followers. It is hard to reconcile that statement with the MFAT briefing suggesting Ramadan advocated complying “fully” with western laws and “the renunciation of all forms of violence”.
ow could the New Zealand MFAT officials be such patsies? Well, it’s not the first time. In 1998 they invited Indonesian businessman James Riady to New Zealand for meetings with National Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and business leaders, apparently blissfully unaware that Riady was at the centre of political bribery allegations in the US, corrupt practices and spying for the Chinese government. In MFAT’s defence, however, Ramadan is a chameleon who has only recently been exposed, thanks largely to the work of left-wing French investigative journalist Caroline Fourest. She analysed hundreds of audio and video recordings of Ramadan’s meetings, more than a dozen books and 1500 pages of interviews that he’d carried out. She made a chilling discovery: Ramadan’s public face as a moderate is a far cry from his private one, documented on the cassette tapes: “One here discovers Ramadan the warlord, giving orders and spelling out his political objectives: to modify the secular state and help matters evolve towards ‘more Islam’. Unfortunately the Islam in question is not an enlightened and modern Islam but a reactionary and fundamentalist one,” Fourest writes. “He radicalises the Muslims under his influence by introducing them to the thought of Hassan al-Banna (this constitutes the introduction to his recorded seminars), then he brings them into contact with the present-day ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood: Youssef al-Qaradhawi, one of the few Muslim theologians openly to approve suicide attacks, or Faycal Mawlawi, who is not only a Muslim Brother but also the principal chief of a Lebanese terrorist organisation. “And that is not all. He weakens secular resistance to fundamentalism by forming alliances with secular anti-racist associations. He has accomplished a sort of tour de force: to make Islamism seductive in the eyes of certain militants of the anti-globalisation Left. His tactic is simple: to send young partisans of his cause to register in anti-racist associations and left-wing parties.” Investigate readers may recall last year’s clash with left-wing protest groups over our coverage of Islamic preachers of hate slipping into New Zealand and giving lecture tours. British MP George Galloway is another who forged close links between his own leftwing supporters and Islamic radicals. There is a doctrine within Islam known as “taqiyya”, and essentially it permits a Muslim to lie to a non-Muslim for the sake of furthering the aims of Islam. Caroline Fourest, as bloggers have noted, has caught Tariq Ramadan out in more than one lie: “Thus, she cites the interview that Mr. Ramadan gave in November 2003 to “Beur FM”, France’s communitarian radio station “for Muslims”, and in which he openly identified himself with the rigorist “Salafist” current in Islam, claiming to be for a “salafist reformism”. Only four months later at an UNESCO colloquium, when challenged by a prominent advocate of liberal Islam – of which Mme. Fourest is careful to point out there are INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 55
many in France, but Mr. Ramadan is not one of them – Ramadan would protest: “I am not a Salafist! ‘Salafi’ means literalist and I am not a literalist.” In a televised debate watched by six million French viewers, many of them Muslim, Ramadan refused to condemn the practice of stoning women to death for adultery. He has also failed to condemn deliberately targeted Palestinian suicide bombings directed at Israeli schoolchildren, calling the practice “inevitable”. During his visit to New Zealand this month, Ramadan was briefed on Helen Clark’s UN project, the “Alliance of Civilisations” which aims to make westerners tolerant of an increase in Islamic migration to the West. As part of the project in New Zealand, a new “religious studies” curriculum is being drafted by the Government to incorporate the aims of the AoC project. MFAT confirms Ramadan is being kept in the loop: “The visit to New Zealand was not directly part of New Zealand’s engagement with either the Alliance of Civilisations initiative or the Regional Interfaith Dialogue (see also background below), although an update on New Zealand attitudes towards these two initiatives (as well as domestic interfaith and intercultural activities) was provided to Professor Ramadan during his visit,” the Ministry told Investigate.
owever, in answer to the question, “Why was he invited here?” the Ministry admitted it was Alliance of Civilisations driven, with input directly from the Prime Minister’s Department (DPMC): “Professor Ramadan was invited by the New Zealand Government to, but unable to participate in, the May 2007 Alliance of Civilisations Symposium, which involved a broad cross-section of prominent leaders, thinkers and experts from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, including three members of the Alliance of Civilisations High-Level Group itself (the report of proceedings is available on www.mfat.govt.nz). (In his previous visits to the region, including to Australia, Professor Ramadan had not been able to extend his visit to include New Zealand.) “Professor Ramadan was invited by Victoria University Wellington to participate in a seminar on counter-radicalisation in November 2007 (which had been organised also by NZ Police and DPMC), but was unable to travel to New Zealand so contributed by video-link, a presentation that was very well-received by participants and organizers. The Government confirmed a follow up invitation to Professor Ramadan to visit New Zealand this year. “Professor Ramadan’s visit offered an opportunity to engage with a leading voice in the debate over interaction between Muslim and Western societies – someone described by Time magazine as one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ in 2004. It also allowed us to explore the relevance of his thinking for New Zealand’s engagement with Muslim societies in our region, as well as for strengthening connections between Muslim and other communities in New Zealand. The visit provided a valuable opportunity to discuss New Zealand’s own experience of inter-cultural and inter-faith initiatives both at home and in our region.” As for what he actually did here: “Professor Ramadan’s programme included public lectures in Wellington and Auckland, meetings with Ministers and officials from various government agencies, a keynote address to an Office of Ethnic Affairs ‘Building Bridges’ forum, interaction with academics (from the University of Auckland, the University of 56 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Waikato, Victoria University Wellington and Otago University), Maori, Muslim and wider faith communities and youth leaders, as well as media interviews.” On the same day Ramadan was giving a lecture at Auckland university, an international critic of radical Islam, Ibn Warraq, was giving Ramadan a serve in America’s The City Journal: “In the 1990s, Western liberals, alarmed at the presence of Islamic fundamentalists in their midst, turned in desperation to Muslims whom they dubbed “reformers” or “modernizers.” They hoped that these figures would have a moderating influence on disaffected Muslim youths who refused to integrate into Western society. One such “reformer” is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born academic. Ramadan has won the confidence of many in the West, including the British government, which asked him to serve on its task force for preventing Islamic extremism. But as Caroline Fourest shows in her superbly documented book, which first appeared in French in 2004, Ramadan is not a worthy figure. “Fourest reveals Ramadan’s art of duplicity, which encompasses an entire repertoire of rhetorical subterfuges, from doublespeak and equivocation to euphemism and lies of omission. Ramadan claims that he accepts the law in Western democracies – so long as the law “does not force me to do something in contradiction with my religion.” He calls the terrorist acts in New York, Madrid, and Bali “interventions.” He claims to be a “reformist,” but defines the term to exclude the concept of “liberal reformism.” “He criticizes Saudi Arabia as “traditionalist and reactionary,” but fails to mention that his own revered father helped the Saudis become the sponsors of Wahhabism. It’s no surprise that, according to the Belgian Permanent Committee for the Control of Intelligence Services, “State security also reported that the moderate speeches that Tariq Ramadan gives in public do not always correspond to the remarks made in confidential Islamic settings, where he is far more critical of Western society.” “Ramadan’s doublespeak is part of a carefully calibrated, longterm strategy of dissimulation, perfectly justified by the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, a doctrine of “pious fraud” or religious dissimulation. That Ramadan is an impostor is evident even in the titles that he freely accords himself. He claims that he is “Professor of Islamic Studies (Faculty of Theology at Oxford),” and the biography in the inside flap of his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam describes him as “Professor of Philosophy at the College of Geneva and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.” But as journalist Gudrun Eussner has shown, Ramadan is merely a research fellow at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, where has has given just three lectures. Nor is he a professor at Geneva, especially not at the university there. He was a teacher at a sub-university level in the Collège Saussure, and he served as a “scholarly associate” at the University of Fribourg, teaching a two-hour course every two weeks, “Introduction to Islam”,” writes Warraq. British writer Melanie Phillips, summing up a commentary piece on Ramadan this month, says: “Wherever he goes, Ramadan is a pied piper leading the young to jihad by his mesmeric tunes. Through his appeal, he is probably the most dangerous Islamist in the Western world. The irony that a New Zealand Prime Minister who faked a painting, should be relying on advice from an Islamic radical who has faked his resume, is amusing but will be cold comfort if the “dangerous” Ramadan is allowed to play any further part in New Zealand affairs. n
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 57
Cybercrime Been Stung Yet?
You might have antivirus software and a security suite on your PC, but chances are you’re opening up trapdoors that let cyberspiders from the Web into your home and your life. RYAN BLITSTEIN puts your computer security in perspective
eginning in March, 102 employees of the United States IRS received phone calls, purportedly from the computer help desk, requesting their user names and suggesting they adopt a new password. The callers were actually U.S. Treasury auditors testing how easily hackers could access Americans’ personal financial information. The result: Too easily. Sixty-one tax workers complied. The auditors, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, conducted similar exams in 2001 and 2004, recording failure rates of 71 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Both times, the IRS took “corrective actions” to raise awareness about data protection among agency staffers. But, as Treasury auditors dryly noted, those actions “have not been effective.” The appalling IRS performance highlights a crisis within our elaborate systems to protect sensitive data: Internet users, businesses and guardians of information alike are doing a terrible job of self-protection. From eBay to Ford, from universities to the laptop on your kitchen table, people have left themselves vulnerable to vicious cybercriminal assaults. Citizens unwittingly click on Internet links that drop malware on their computers; major corporations allow PCs inside their firewalls to be taken over remotely by criminals; bureaucrats in charge of our precious private information can easily be duped out of their passwords. In the past few years, about one private record for every two citizens has been stolen via US data breaches alone. Internet crime’s total yearly cost to U.S. businesses, including indirect expenses like paying employees to repair hacked systems, has risen as high as US$67 billion, according to an FBI analysis last year. Hundreds of millions more are lost by those who fall prey to online scams or malicious software. Many who 58 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 59
don’t consider themselves “victims” may face higher bank fees or depressed investments from companies that took losses as a result of Internet crime. Rick Wesson thought Oracle would be alarmed when he told Mary Ann Davidson, its chief security officer, that online criminals were assimilating several Oracle computers into robot networks, or “botnets,” then using them to send malicious e-mail to PayPal customers. Wesson, who has testified before Congress on cybersecurity, runs Support Intelligence, a start-up that helps businesses identify and track malicious traffic spewing out of their systems. His firm has reported finding bot invasions inside companies such as Intel and Aflac. Davidson was hardly alarmed. She directed Wesson and his partner to the Oracle security group that manages the door locks and cameras, and watches the parking lot. An Oracle spokesman recently shrugged off Wesson’s charges, suggesting the spammers may have cloaked their e-mails to make it seem as if they came from Oracle computers. But Wesson said his firm corrects for such spoofing. To him, the episode was the latest in a disappointing series of incidents of avoidance and neglect on the part of big business in responding to botnets. A few computers sending out spam may seem harmless to many organizations, but compromised corporate machines could allow thieves to access documents rife with trade secrets, insider data in executives’ e-mail, and databases of private employee information. (Intel and Aflac both confirmed isolated problems in which no data was compromised, and have taken measures to correct the vulnerabilities.) Others support Wesson’s findings. Symantec estimates 4 percent of malicious Internet activity comes from networks of the nation’s 100 largest companies. “This has gotten deep inside corporate America; this is in government; this is everywhere,” said Ashar Aziz, chief executive of Menlo Park, Calif., anti-botnet start-up FireEye. Botnets are only the most recent Web threat to hit corporate America. If companies fail to regularly update their Web sites with software patches, hackers can take information or leave malware behind.
ust before the Super Bowl in Miami, sports fans who visited the Dolphin Stadium Web site received a nasty surprise. Criminals had hacked the system, implanting malware designed to infect the computers of unwitting visitors. The attackers then could log their keystrokes to steal credit card and banking information. Jeremiah Grossman, founder of White Hat Security, a Californiabased start-up that businesses pay to hunt down vulnerabilities in their Web sites, says his company often finds holes that should have been patched years ago, even in its big-name clients’ sites. Corporate users often put their own convenience ahead of safety. Even senior executives find ways around security protections – such as using instant messaging to move files from one computer to the next. These same executives also limit how many millions of dollars they spend to prevent cybercriminal intrusions. In a 2005 survey by trade publication Secure Enterprise, 44 percent of security tech folks described their teams as “moderately” understaffed, with 21 percent calling themselves “severely” understaffed. The problem is especially pronounced at smaller companies. But PCs inside car 60 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
dealerships, travel agencies and community credit unions all hold sensitive data attractive to hackers. Even the most alarmist security experts concede that corporate are moving in the right direction. But the mounting list of successful cybercrime attacks are indicative of too many executives who have failed to take the problem seriously enough, or to act quickly enough to solve it. More than 150 million US records, from bank accounts to credit card numbers, have been exposed due to security breaches since January 2005. While only a fraction have led to fraud or identity theft, security experts agree that thousands of attacks go unreported each year. Many companies still don’t shield their most important information from outside hackers or rogue employees inside their own businesses. In fact, many are unaware how frequently sensitive digital files are left unprotected. Douglas Merrill, Google’s chief information officer, says many businesses are stunned, after installing a Google device that searches through companies’ digital documents, to learn how many files with critical information have been left unsecured. Once criminals obtain account data, they can sell it on the black market, or use it to steal the identities of customers. And often the victims will never know exactly how it happened. To this day, Emilie Johnson cannot say for sure how her identity was stolen, causing an US company to bill her $800 for mobile phone charges in Pennsylvania. Months later, Johnson, an environmental consultant, learned an impostor posing as a Ford Motor Credit employee had taken people’s credit reports from credit bureau Experian – mostly from affluent areas like Newport Beach, Calif., where she lived then. Johnson had financed the purchase of a 1999 Ford Explorer with a loan from the auto giant’s credit subsidiary. Johnson, like many identity-theft victims, spent hours convincing the phone company that she hadn’t run up the charges. And like many others, she never reported the matter to police, though she did alert credit agencies. The Experian impostor was caught and convicted, and Johnson thought the matter was behind her. But early last year, a collection agency pursued the debt yet again. “You feel violated. Invaded,” Johnson says of the experience. She now rarely makes purchases on the Web, worried that someone might break into servers somewhere and filch her information again. One American company, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, revealed that during an 18-month period ending in January last year, hackers had stolen 45.6 million credit card numbers and other sensitive customer information. Many privacy advocates hoped the colossal attack would serve as a rallying cry for data security, just as a meltdown at Three Mile Island woke Americans to the dangers of nuclear power in the late 1970s. But the flood of news stories abated, and most Americans either forgot about the TJX attack or never knew it happened. “TJX was not Three Mile Island,” says Paul Ferguson, a network architect for Tokyo security vendor Trend Micro. “It was like a radiation leak in a government lab that they covered up.” In the three years since California and more than three dozen other states began passing breach disclosure laws, the vast sum of notifications has illuminated a disease that’s infected many of America’s most prominent businesses. EBay, Pfizer and Monster. com are among the most recent of hundreds of corporations that
have disclosed breaches of their customers’ or employees’ sensitive data, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. But because data breaches are expensive, and because privacy breach laws vary from state to state, nearly one in three security incidents goes unreported outside the affected corporation, according to the Computer Security Institute’s annual survey of several hundred companies. “Nobody reports unless they have to,” says Bruce Schneier, chief technical officer of BT Counterpane. Disclosures of breaches rose as states passed notification laws. But, he says, “you know you had just as many breaches before there was a law.” In some ways, public entities – from the Department of Education to the local school district – have a much greater challenge than corporations in protecting their information “Botnets are only the most recent Web threat to hit from cybercrimes. Compared with most businesses, they’re corporate America. If companies fail to regularly update short on cybersecurity money, and suffer from sluggish, bureau- their Web sites with software patches, hackers can cratic cultures. take information or leave malware behind The federal government has an embarrassing collective performance: One-third of executive branch agencies received a grade of “F” in Congress’ Federal software vulnerability to steal data. The university runs hundreds Computer Security Report Card for 2006. The departments of of Web applications; at the time of the breach, the hacked server Defense, Commerce, State and Treasury all failed, even though was scheduled for a security patch. an “A” grade requires only basic protection measures, such as an The forensics team later deduced that the hackers were clever, inventory of technology systems and proper reporting of secu- blending stolen data in with normal Web traffic. It was just one rity incidents. slip-up by the crooks – an atypical surge of data on Nov. 21 – that Even public institutions conscientious about protecting data revealed a yearlong hack had even taken place. find the battle difficult. And an isolated mistake can have terIt’s the nightmare scenario of any official in charge of guarding rible consequences. personal data. Davis worried about how the breach could have “It’s almost hard to find the words to describe how stressful it occurred, what the criminals might do with the information, and was,” Jim Davis, a UCLA associate vice chancellor, said months how the school should respond. after the university suffered a gigantic breach. He and his colleagues went far beyond what California law Davis was first notified of the intrusion by technical staff required – they notified all 803,000 potential victims, rapidly last November, as he was sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. setting up the equivalent of a nationwide direct mail and marCriminals had hacked into a university database that housed the keting campaign. personal information, including Social Security numbers, of the They are not aware of any fraud as a result of the attack, which entire student body, along with alumni, applicants, faculty and remains unsolved. administrators, including Davis – 803,000 people, all told. Nevertheless, Davis said of the experience, “I use terms like ‘lifeThe technical staff in charge of the network discovered that an altering.’ People who go through this are not the same anymore.” abnormal amount of information was flowing out of one set of If businesses and government agencies with million-dollar inforservers. They unplugged the computers from the Internet and mation technology departments are failing to adequately protect notified their bosses. themselves, imagine the plight of private individuals who simply do By the time Davis returned to UCLA after the holiday, they not understand the risk, or momentarily let down their guard. knew the basics: Hackers had taken advantage of a single Web At times, the victims are Internet-savvy people like mortgage INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 61
“Criminals had hacked the system, implanting malware designed to infect the computers of unwitting visitors. The attackers then could log their keystrokes to steal credit card and banking information broker Robert Friedberg, who was tricked last year by a professional-looking e-mail that appeared to be from eBay. Friedberg typed in his personal data: his Social Security number, bank account, ATM code. But as soon as he clicked “send,” he broke into a cold sweat. Friedberg contacted eBay, learned he was the victim of a phishing scam, and put an alert on his credit record. He turned out to be one of the lucky ones; no money was taken from his account. One survey, by Gartner, estimated the average phishing victim lost $1,244 last year; another, by Javelin Strategy & Research, set the total five times greater. Gartner projected the total phishing losses to Americans last year as high as US$2.8 billion. And that’s just one of many crimes that result from Internet users’ own errors. There is an endless pool of inexperienced potential targets: Almost three in five Internet users admitted they had little to no knowledge of current online threats and scams, according to a Harris Interactive poll sponsored by Microsoft. About three new users worldwide log onto the Internet for the first time every second, according to Jupiter Research. 62 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
While nearly all PC owners have some kind of security software installed, less than half subscribe to a virus or security update service, according to preliminary data from an upcoming Gartner report. That leaves them vulnerable to the thousands of new Internet threats discovered every day, and those using unprotected wireless connections are even more at risk. Even when they’re aware of a threat, many still let their curiosity, fear and greed get in the way of Internet safety. Almost one in five Web users in the Harris-Microsoft poll said they had been the victim of an Internet scam, and 81 percent said they had taken an action that helped lead to the crime. No doubt many people remain unaware of the danger. “Most people understand that if your car hits a wall, you are going to keep going through the window if you’re not wearing a seat belt. But you kind of have to understand how a computer works to understand why a botnet matters,” says Jose Nazario, a researcher at Arbor Networks. While analysts quarrel over the true cost of cybercrime, the most conservative estimates place the amount, worldwide, in the tens
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS A state-of-the-art security suite will go along way towards making you safer, but only if you recognise there are still dangers. Chillisoft NZ’s Steve Rielly, whose company distributes ESET’s NOD32, points out the problem areas locally INVESTIGATE: The recent joint FBI/NZ Police operation to bust a botnet being run out of the Waikato...how significant is this kind of threat, what is a “botnet”? RIELLY: Botnets are collections of computers infected with malicious code that can be controlled remotely through a command and control infrastructure. A “bot” is an individual computer infected with malicious code that participates in a botnet and carries out the commands of the botnet controller. Bot-nets can be hired for, and are the main source of spam, D-Dos (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. They play a very significant role in the security problems being faced on the internet. INVESTIGATE: How good are hackers at penetrating firewalls? Most people run some kind of security package, but often those packages ask highly technical questions of the user about whether to permit various arcane types of behaviour on a case by case basis. Once you tick the yes box, how do you know you haven’t compromised your security? Are hackers able to get through backdoors created in this way when users effectively put their firewall back on a leash? RIELLY: Personal firewalls are becoming more intelligent, but still require user input to open ports for applications they don’t know about. If a user has an application that is not working, or perhaps they have just installed, and the firewall prompts them to open or close the port most are just going to select to open the port assuming that it is the application they are using that is asking the question and its necessary for the application to work. By default the ports required for web surfing are going to be enabled, and with drive-by downloads becoming more sophisticated there is only so much a personal firewall is able to protect against. The personal firewall can block applications from opening non-standard ports, assuming the user says no, but it can’t stop an application that is going to use a standard port. There are security suites that will
of millions of dollars – and some analysts peg the total at more than US$100 billion. The experiences of eBay lend credence to the more aggressive guesses. In its 2006 fourth-quarter earnings report, eBay said the fraud loss rate at its payments subsidiary PayPal “increased significantly” during the second half of 2006 – in a single quarter, eBay estimated losing more than US$45 million on PayPal fraud alone, including cybercrimes. The problem continued in the first half of 2007, though it declined during the most recent quarter. At many companies that do business online, expenses like these are adding up. Banks and other financial services businesses, entities that stand to lose billions of dollars from cybercrime, are especially tight-lipped about the problem; they’re required to submit reports of suspicious activities only in certain circumstances. It’s an issue the banks rarely discuss publicly, outside of campaigns to convince their customers that Internet banking is safe if they take proper precautions. “We don’t believe that online banking or brokerage or insurance are any more risky than offline ones. In fact, we generally believe
ask if an application is allowed access to the internet, and if that application has a name that remotely looks like it should be there, like a Microsoft update etc the user will say yes to it. Your average user simply isn’t going to know what they should so yes or no too, so they’ll just say yes to ensure their systems are working. Businesses should use an IT partner that can provide them with security expertise, to educate and guide their security policies, procedures and solution purchases. INVESTIGATE: You have an anti-virus and security suite on your computer – is that the end of the matter or is that only the beginning of security? RIELLY: It’s just the start, although security suite’s available cover you from most of the threats out there, you are not protected from everything. Gateway and perimeter security is a must for any organisation, and not just rely on desktop and end point security solutions. Education and awareness are still key, as human error is still the weak point in the security link. Ultimately you’re the only system that can stop you from giving your personal information and credit card number to a suspect website. INVESTIGATE: What about websites whose pages contain malware code, how on earth do we protect ourselves against something we can’t see? RIELLY: Think before you click. Just because a pop up window tells you you’re the 1 millionth visitor and are going to win a free trip, the odds are you’re not. In saying that there are many legitimate sites on the internet that unknowingly contain malware and are being used in driveby downloads. Google recently reported that 1 in 1000 web sites contain malicious code. Al Gore’s site, the Miami Dolphins and MySpace profile of Alicia Keys were those attacking the people who visited them. A good patch management process to keep your operating systems, applications and security solutions up to date is going to help a lot. As this is where you are relying on your security suite, and that of your internet provider to protect you. INVESTIGATE: What general advice for punters? RIELLY: Even if you have the ‘best of breed’ gateway and perimeter security solutions in place the biggest security risk is still internal – organisations need to have policies, audits, and tools to monitor and take action on internal risks.
it’s less risky,” says Leigh Williams, former chief privacy officer at Fidelity Investments, now president of BITS, the technology arm of industry trade group the Financial Service Roundtable. But many companies that provide security for banks say cybercrime is hitting the financial-services industry harder than it lets on. “I don’t think we’re being alarmist,” says SophosLabs global director Mark Harris. “The banks won’t say it publicly, but privately they are very concerned about it.” While Williams claims that banks shoulder most fraud losses, outside analysts expect that, sooner or later, those costs will be recovered in higher ATM fees or finance charges for all customers. The real cost may be yet to come, as the money that cybercriminals gather goes toward staging even more damaging attacks. Every time a bank gives a refund to a customer who is a victim of a phishing attack, “they just financed some hacker in Romania to the tune of 10 to twenty thousand dollars per month,” argues former Gartner analyst Richard Stiennon, now at California security vendor Fortinet. “That’s a lot of money that’s going to be refocused on bigger and bigger targets.” n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 63
think life | money
Swimming in the shark tank Peter Hensley searches the ripples of the investment crisis for signs of fins
Moira said: “Do we have to go, we haven’t lost any money and have no reason to sue our adviser?” “I know that”, said Jim, “But it will be interesting to hear what he has got to say”. “You only want to go to see who else is in the audience, you shouldn’t be so nosy. If we go people will think that we have lost money and don’t trust our adviser. He would be disappointed to see us there. If you want to go, you can go on your own, I won’t be going”. And with that Moira ended the conversation. 64 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Jim thought to himself that Moira sometimes knew him better that he knew himself. He did want to go and see who else turned up, however he also knew that it was a small town and she was right, people would take it as a vote of no confidence in their adviser. Jim had not been shy to tell anyone who would listen that they were very pleased with the investment strategy their adviser had implemented on their behalf. Their adviser had been invited to be the guest speaker as the New Zealand wide road show for EUFA Inc (Exposing Unethical
Financial Advice) rolled into town. He told Jim that he planned to keep his speech short and to the point. There was a lot of noise surrounding this emotive topic. Articles from the USA hinted at huge law suits being prepared and some big names are in the gun for providing poor advice. The numbers being quoted in the US support the use of lawyers, as Goldman Sachs suggest that the total loss in the mortgage security world could exceed $400 billion. The loosely connected two trillion dollar Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) market appears to be frozen with further write downs being inevitable. One of the major issues in both the subprime and CDO/CDS markets has been the credit ratings agencies. Standard & Poors, Fitch and Moody’s being the main players in the rating business are obvious targets. When issuers of credit derivatives went to them requesting that they rate these new innovative financial products, they saw the burgeoning market as a new source of revenue and accordingly devised a process which was perceived by the market place to be similar, if not exactly comparable to their existing rating systems. The fine print suggested that there was a fundamental difference. A triple A rating for a bread and butter bond issue of Government Stock differed markedly from a triple A rated CDO. The trouble was that the market place, did not fully understand the difference between a bond contract and a CDO. When the rating agency issued a similar stamp of approval to both, they were perceived to be the same. The fine print of the CDO should have carried a warning label – “not for widows or orphans”. The sad part is that such a warning was likely to be buried in the issuing credit rating agency’s report. This is what the high priced US lawyers will be paid to argue about. The credit crisis in New Zealand over the past two years has given rise to a cry of similar ilk. There is no doubt that investors will be out of pocket and if international trends are anything to go by, they will be looking to someone to compensate them for their loss. Jim and Moira’s adviser has been approached on numerous occasions by non clients to review portfolios and he had told Jim in confidence that it was increasingly difficult to find a portfolio that had not been exposed in some manner. Not only to defaulting finance companies, but to managed funds which have decreased in
value markedly. This led Jim to reflect on the income based investment strategy that he and Moira were exposed to. At times he had complained that it was boring, and every time Moira had replied that she liked boring. Apparently so did a lot of other people as their adviser’s business had grown noticeably over the past couple of years. The EUFA road show was highlighting that whilst there were some serious cases of poor and undisciplined advice, it appeared that these cases were concentrated around particular individuals or collective advisory chains. The impact and influence of so called professional investment committees recommending poorly researched products on portfolios was astounding. Readers would be interested to know that many advisers are legally obliged to deny any wrong doing because doing so would invalidate their professional indemnity insurance. They would also be interested to know that generally the loss has to be quantified prior to a claim being allowed to proceed. The Government is also in the firing line for not acting sooner in this area. Their ultimate goal is to protect the consumer from inadequate and unscrupulous advice. Their record is sadly lacking because New Zealand is the only first world country that
does not have any Government controls over the provision of financial advice. There are no barriers to entry to the financial advisory business. This will change over the next couple of years with the first stage being implemented on 29th February 08. From that date, advisers and brokers will be obliged to disclose and quantify their income sources. Not only direct income related to the sale of a particular investment product but indirect income as well, such as incentive trips for reaching a set sales quota. In addressing the EUFA meeting Jim’s adviser will attempt to help investors help themselves. They should query to see if the adviser is qualified both academically and by experience, and that they are be able to demonstrate in depth knowledge of the products they are promoting. Their disclosure statement should outline if any special relationship exists between the product supplier and themselves. In some cases highlighted to the press it was obvious that several advisers did not understand the meaning of portfolio diversification or if they did, they did not practice it. Finance company failures appear to make up the bulk of the complaints, however sector specific managed funds have
also been the cause of some serious write downs in value. The most noticeable being Macquarie Fortress notes which have lost more than half their capital value. Other managed funds exposed to the US derivative & CDO market are down in excess of 25%, this is serious money. Investors have to remember that lawyers don’t work for free. Their best course of action is to join a class action and this empowerment of individuals into a group is one of the underlying principals of EUFA. There has been a small number of individual confidential settlements, however each claim will be based on the merits of individual circumstances. The parameters of each case will vary and for the majority whose portfolios have been appropriately diversified, the answer is likely to contain the words, buyer beware. For others, a prima facie case could justify legal action. Jim and Moira’s adviser has been fortunate enough to avoid the land mines and they hope for their sake his luck continues. They feel confident that it will. It is a requirement under Part 4 of the Securities Market Act (1988) that readers are aware that Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available upon request and free of charge. © Peter J Hensley March, 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”
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think life | EDUCATION
More smoke and mirrors? Let’s celebrate our ignorance, and pass the buck to employers – Amy Brooke analyses the Government’s approach to illiteracy
Helen Clark has a nerve. If we weren’t already aware how intellectually lazy and analytically substandard our mainstream media are, we would no doubt be amazed that she hasn’t been challenged over the brazenness of her call for employers to address the fact that reportedly half the New Zealand workforce is functionally illiterate. Nor should we be planning to needlessly keep pupils even longer in state schools, learning basically little worthwhile, after so many years of enduring exactly the same non-productive process. Miss Clark is setting up a smokescreen to obscure the fundamental question – why so many of our young are basically emptyheaded, bored witless, and adrift morally and spiritually – issues to be examined in 66 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
a subsequent column. Our schools have long been failing young New Zealanders and their parents. It seems she doesn’t want us examining why. Left wing ideologist Chris Trotter, too, indulges in diversionary tactics when pointing out that every business benefits from the existence of a highly educated, professionally trained workforce. He’s totally wrong in arguing that therefore all businesses should be required to pay an education “levy” based on the number of people they employ. Another tax, of course – but “levy” sounds more innocuous, doesn’t it? – with the Left, it’s always in the wording. How easy it is to blithely argue for yet another burden to be loaded onto the backs of small businesses and professional
employers, by far the majority in this country, and already close to being crippled with compliance costs. And no – tertiary institutions are not the places for undertaking the basic education of those attending. Their role is as institutions of higher learning in either vocational (for polytechnic) or academic (for universities) areas. The fact that polytechnics are now aping the universities’ roles, and the universities are being squeezed by ever tighter State controls – with funding research now, shockingly, largely directed towards outcomes leading to business opportunities – or an entrenched sector dedicated to Maori-only, targeted benefits – is another issue. An important fact stands. The blame for a substandard and functionally illiterate
workforce has to be sheeted home to the schools, especially to primary teachers who have several years to impart basic literacy and numeracy standards to their pupils for their secondary counterparts to build on. Neither are fulfilling their roles. Where were the hard questions from the media about why an education politburo long controlled by the Left has so dismally failed to impart the very basic standards of literacy without which children once did not even graduate from primary schools? If half our workforce is functionally illiterate, this is the fault of Miss Clark’s own Ministers of Education and most of their predecessors, including weak, underinformed National Party ministers and the bureaucracy which manipulates them with its jargonized theorizing. I well recall the long fight, in vain, to persuade a gullible and captured Dr Lockwood Smith, who regarded my request as “extreme”, to reinstate the systematic teaching of grammar and syntax in the new English syllabus of a decade and a half ago. Although George Orwell had reminded us that – if people cannot write well, they cannot think well – and that if they cannot think well others will do their thinking for them – this was the period – it still is, from the education bureaucracy’s point of view – that any-old-how was fine as long as you could “communicate”. This deliberate downgrading of education standards – ensuring a workforce, indeed a population at large, not very good at thinking for itself – well suited a socialist government and its supporters, advisers and fellow travelers within the education bureaucracy. All except the most deluded know that there has been something very wrong, not just intellectually wrong, but morally wrong, about the attack mounted by the State on our children in these recent years. Not only has the education politburo abandoned any notion of what genuine education is about: it has brazenly and quite openly opted for a celebration of ignorance. It’s not just that the subliteracy of text messaging is good enough in formal examinations. At least this advocacy has shocked some into looking more closely at a system openly claiming that knowledge is superfluous – that teachers should not actually teach (“not the sage on the stage”) but that “equality of outcome” is the aim – i.e. essentially to ensure as many young, and not so young, New Zealanders know as little possible.
And how reluctant the education bureaucracy has been to actually test teachers for competence before letting them loose on their pupils
They’ve certainly succeeded. The headlines daily shriek of ignorant and inadequate teachers. Nearly three-quarters of teachers short-listed for jobs are “poor” or “very poor” in quality. But then what’s new about that? Let’s not forget that Emeritus English professor and former headmistress Dr Margaret Dalziel pointed out in her 1962 Landfall article that most English teachers by then, even, knew no more about the subject than their pupils. And that’s nearly 60 years ago. The rot had already well and truly settled in. But we’ve paid these people – ignorant teachers, and those in charge of what is to be learned, or not learned – to continue to cheat New Zealand children of body of knowledge essential to become competent to use their own language with the degree of complexity which is necessary to learn to think well. How could they, when most of them don’t have that competence themselves? And how reluctant the education bureaucracy has been to actually test teachers for competence before letting them loose on their pupils. Shouldn’t parents and employers be wondering why? So we now have a situation where primary schools are so desperate that they are “considering people who don’t speak adequate English”? What breathtaking cheek they have using the word “considering”. Our primary and secondary schools are already full of teachers and principals whose English is sub-standard, and this has long been the situation. Again, recently, I’ve encountered a young
secondary teacher hired to teach English, although he worriedly confesses he knows nothing at all about the teaching of English – his degree was in another subject entirely. He has been told not to worry – barracking for the school is the important thing – he should just keep a step ahead of his pupils. There is no longer realistic recognition of the fact that, to teach well, one needs an expertise in one’s subject which comes from a lifetime of learning, and an enthusiasm about its value which stimulates pupils’ interest in it. The rot continues in yet another book Schooling for the Knowledge Era, by David Warner, which wallows in the usual jargon. “Schools are currently premised on an industrialized paradigm of control of the curriculum, learning, assessment and credentialing, all of which are based on a very traditional view of what constitutes knowledge –predominantly traditional learning in subject disciplines.” Naturally, he maintains that: “We need to get past pitting against each other the concept of formal learning of a body of knowledge …” Would that our schools were still doing what he disparages – and note that this is yet another neo-Marxist attack on the notion of actually learning. All very familiar – that advocacy of ignorance. We’ve heard it all before. That fact that we’re still hearing it should anger us. © Amy Brooke www.amybrooke.co.nz www.summersounds..co.nz http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/
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think life | SCIENCE
By Jupiter! Our solar system isn’t what it used to be, warns Robert S. Boyd
Move over, Copernicus. Your once-revolutionary idea – that the Earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around – has been eclipsed. Recent years have brought a sweeping new revolution in solar system astronomy. The Earth still orbits the sun, as Copernicus declared 400 years ago, but the planetary system in the textbooks you studied is now out of date. “The entire view of astronomy you learned in high school has changed dramatically,” says Alan Stern, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “We’re really in a new age of discovery.” The changes go well beyond the 68 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
International Astronomical Union’s controversial decision to demote Pluto, the baby of the solar system, from the familiar list of nine planets. The organization ruled that Pluto is now a “dwarf planet” or “Plutino.” The decision, announced on Aug. 24, 2006, upset millions of children and their parents. “For six years I got hate mail from children who loved Pluto,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, who’d moved Pluto out of his solar system display years ago. Stern and other astronomers offered a revised description of the solar system at
a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last month in Boston. Stern says it differed from the previous understanding in several major ways: First, until recently, people thought that there were two parts to the solar system: four small, rocky inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – and four gas giant outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. Then there was Pluto, a “lone misfit,” Stern says, with a highly eccentric orbit and a rakish tilt of its axis. “That was the old view,” he says. “Now, there are no more misfits. Plutos abound.” Under the new definition, the International Astronomical Union has officially recognized 11 planets: eight traditional ones plus three “dwarf planets.” The dwarfs are Pluto; Ceres, which was thought to be an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter; and Eris, an object that’s slightly larger than Pluto and farther from the sun. At least 40 more dwarfs have been spotted even farther out and are awaiting official recognition. They bear names such as Quaoar, Sedna, Orcus, Varuna and Ixion. Dozens of others are known only by code numbers. Stern says the solar system now was thought to be composed of three zones instead of two. The four rocky planets make up the inner zone. The gas giants form a “middle solar system.” Beyond them lies an enormous third zone composed of the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, both named for the astronomers who predicted their existence. “This third class of planets vastly outnumbers the terrestrial planets and gas giants,” Stern says. The Kuiper Belt, which was discovered in the 1990s, is a ring of dwarf planets, including Pluto, and smaller icy objects that range from 3 billion to 5 billion miles beyond the sun. More than 1,000 Kuiper Belt objects have been detected, and astronomers think that there may be 50,000 to 100,000 more. Most are small, but some rival Pluto in size. Some have atmospheres and moons of their own, and some may have warm, wet interiors. Far outside the Kuiper Belt looms the Oort Cloud, which Stern calls “the solar system’s attic.” The cloud is a gigantic sphere with an outer edge almost 5 trillion miles from the sun and is nearly a quarter of the way to the next nearest star, Proxima Centauri. “If the Oort Cloud were the diameter of a football stadium, the inner solar system
would be the size of a washer one-eighth of an inch in diameter,” says David Aguilar, a spokesman for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The Oort Cloud is thought to contain at least 1,000 planetary bodies, some as large as Earth or larger, and as many as a trillion comets. Periodically, a passing star knocks an Oort comet loose and sends it diving toward the sun. A second upheaval in planetary science is the realization that most members of the solar system weren’t born where they are now. Instead, gravitational forces forced them to migrate from their birthplaces to their present homes. “This is a true revolution,” Stern says. “The planets didn’t necessarily form where we see them today,” says Douglas Lin, an astronomer at the University of California-Santa Cruz. “They move all over the place.” For example, the giant planets Neptune and Uranus formed where Saturn now lives and drifted outward to their present orbits. Michael Meyer, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, says “forensic evidence” proved that there used
to be large objects in the solar system that no longer were there. For example, Uranus was struck and knocked on its side by a long-gone object that must have been as large as Earth or bigger. Triton, Neptune’s largest moon, revolves backward around its planet, evidence that it formed elsewhere, probably in the Kuiper Belt, and that Neptune’s gravity later captured it.
forming miniature solar systems – have been detected orbiting other stars. One such system has at least five planets. Astronomers discover an average of 25 planets each year. According to Meyer, dusty disks that may be nurseries for planets surround many, perhaps most, sun-like stars. He estimated that as many as 60 percent of these stars have rocky planets orbiting them, and 20 percent host gas giants.
”A second upheaval in planetary science is the realization that most members of the solar system weren’t born where they are now. Instead, gravitational forces forced them to migrate from their birthplaces to their present homes “There were many more planets that were born and swept away,” Meyer says. “The Oort Cloud was entirely formed by objects not born there but ejected outwards.” The third revolution in planetary science is the realization that making planets is a common process in the universe. In the past dozen years, 276 planets – some of them
“I think every low-mass star (like the sun) will have rocky planets around it,” he says. NASA will launch a new spaceship, named Kepler, next year hoping to find hundreds more of such faraway planets. More on dwarf planets: www.gps.caltech. edu/~mbrown/dwarfplanets
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think life | TECHNOLOGY
Cool Air The new MacBook impresses the family, says Anne Krishnan Apple created quite a buzz last month when it announced the MacBook Air, an ultra-thin, lightweight laptop that Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously fit into an interoffice mail envelope. Within a couple of days, my husband and I had placed our order – the first Mac for our PC family. We’ve been putting it through its paces for the past few weeks.
vides fun multimedia software such as iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie and iWeb). Upgrading to a 1.8-GHz processor adds several hundred dollars, while opting for faster booting, better battery life and quieter use with a 64-GB solid state drive adds more than $2,000. We also bought Apple’s external DVD drive and Apple ethernet adapter.
DESIGN This computer is thin. Really thin. If you’re not careful, it can get lost in even a small stack of papers. And it’s light. At 1.3kg, it’s easy to handle with one hand and weighs next to nothing in a shoulder bag. It has great features such as a full-size backlit keyboard and a 13.3-inch LEDbacklit screen. Like other MacBooks, the Air has a builtin camera and microphones at the top of the screen. Apple made this equipment remarkably easy to use, so that when my father called one night over Skype, it didn’t take any setup at all to answer and hold our first-ever video conversation. That’s one of the great things about Macs; while similar equipment is available for PCs, Apple makes it simple for novices to try using multimedia features and succeed. Other design touches include a sleek and sturdy brushed aluminum casing and a magnetic power plug.
PORTABILITY We’re already a household of small laptops; my Dell has a 12.1-inch display, and my husband uses a 10.6-inch Fujitsu that often makes people over 50 squint while reading the screen. So it’s with some experience that I can say the MacBook Air has been ideally designed as an ultra-portable laptop – it’s light and easy to transport, but the spacious screen eliminates the squint factor. It compares favorably with ultra-portable PCs on price and processor speed, and it comes with 2 GB of RAM, more than the base configuration of many other similar laptops. However, its battery life of three to four hours is low for ultra-portables, and its battery can’t be replaced by the user. That means you can’t swap out the battery with an extra, charged one on long trips.
COST The base price for the MacBook Air is NZ$3,000. That configuration includes a 1.6-GHz processor, an 80-GB hard drive and the i-Life software suite, which pro-
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DRAWBACKS Unfortunately, not everything about the MacBook Air is well-designed. The bottom of the wrist support has a sharp edge that chafes my wrists if my sleeves ride up. And we’re not the only users to find that the computer doesn’t always sit level on the desk.
The major drawback for many users is that the laptop lacks the connectivity of many others, with no built-in optical drive, FireWire port or card reader and just one USB port. The lack of an optical drive is one feature in particular that could make the Air a no-go for some buyers. If you like to watch DVDs on your computer, having to use an external drive would understandably rub you the wrong way. Because we don’t watch movies on our laptops – and we rarely burn DVDs – it hasn’t been much of an issue. SOFTWARE The Air does come with RemoteDisk software that allows it to harness the optical drives on nearby computers. It works for installing software but not for playing copyrighted movies. And with an Intel Core 2 Duo chip, the Air has the capability of running both the Windows and Mac operating systems using Apple’s built-in BootCamp software. That’s handy for the programs that don’t have a Mac version yet. Also, somebody who loves the laptop’s design but doesn’t like the Mac OS could theoretically set it to always boot to Windows. But Mac software is easy to use, intuitive and likely to make a believer out of anyone who gives it a shot. For instance, in about five minutes, my father and I put together a professional-looking photo slideshow with background music using iPhoto. BOTTOM LINE Apple combines portability with functionality to create a great laptop in the MacBook Air. But some features are a little too streamlined, and the Air doesn’t offer enough to be right for everyone, especially if it would be your only computer. As for us, you can expect to see the Fujitsu on eBay shortly.
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feel life | sport NZPA / Ross Setford
Lou Vincent incurred the wrath of his New Zealand Cricket bosses when he was lured to the dark side. The livewire Black Caps batsman had taken up a mega-Rupee offer to join the Indian Cricket League. Who could blame the 29 year old’s indecent haste to join the gravy train that’s been paying out phenomenal sums of money for a couple of weeks work. Vincent’s problem was he’d signed up to the rebellious Indian Cricket League (the I.C.L), was still on full-time salary and had been shown extraordinary patience and understanding for his battle with depression. His old mates Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle were already part of the privately funded venture, an unexpected boost for their retirement years. New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan could have sued Vincent for breach of contract, instead he publicly rebuked the young man with a “black mark forever against his name”. Essentially it was international career over and out. The affable Vincent pleaded for little peace, love and understanding from the New Zealand public as he flew out for India, the day after the bombshell exploded. “I have a young family to support. I have to look after our future”. But his ill-advised decision to take the money and run had exposed the middle stump of greed and desire created by two rival private enterprises on the sub-continent. Cricket’s ruling body – the I.C.C. – has thrown all of its considerable weight and power behind the Indian Premier League (the IPL). It’s the archangel to the devilish ICL. 72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
It’s cricket, but not as we know it Million dollar salaries are rapidly becoming common place for the world’s best exponents of this once genteel sport. So are torn-up contracts and divided loyalties. The ultra-abbreviated 20-20 form of the game is providing riches and friction, as India’s rich and ambitious pour truckloads of money into two rival competitions. Investigate magazine sports columnist Chris Forster gets a handle on cricket’s brave new world
The Premier League has eight franchises in eight major Indian cities – and launched the venture by holding a crazy money auction for the game’s biggest drawcards in late February. Indian wicketkeeper/batsman Mahendra Dhoni will be paid $1.5 million dollars for about 7 weeks of allegiance to the Chennai Super Kings. Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds fetched $1.35 million to front for Hyderabad. Black Caps master-blaster Brendon McCullum will earn $700,000 at Kolkata with team-mates Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori not far behind. These are fantasy figures akin to the sort of sums top footballers command in the English, Spanish and Italian leagues. The difference is they’re still obliged to play for their country. So in McCullum, Vettori and Oram’s cases they’ll leave midway through the IPL season to join their New Zealand team-mates on the tour of England. It’s suddenly become a rather complicated and increasingly messy business. The bottom line is players and their agents are striking first division LOTTO prizes, and everyone wants a ticket. Zee Telefilms is the biggest media company in India, the world’s second most populous nation. It’s also been the catalyst for this high-rolling sporting drama. Zee’s bid for a slice of the international cricketing action in the cricket-mad country has been constantly thwarted by the Indian Cricket Board (the BCCI). After its 2007 offer was spurned the broadcaster essentially decided to damn the consequences and moved onto plan B – setting up the ICL and making instant enemies with the Indian board and International Cricket Council. There’s already been a first edition of the League, featuring a host of recently retired stars like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Brian Lara. This is the league Lou Vincent’s cashing in on – with a second edition due to run through March and April. First prize for the winning team is US$1 million. Not long afterwards the BCCI launched its own version – the IPL – with the blessing of the game’s ruling body. Game on. The extremely popular 20-20 cricket is again the preferred flavour. An officially sanctioned version will run from mid April to early June, again with whopping salaries, prize money and endorsements.
The bottom line is players and their agents are striking first division LOTTO prizes, and everyone wants a ticket
The victims from all of this flash money will inevitably be the poor, developing and languishing cricketing nations like Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. They’re currently propped up by the ICC, with the bundle of cash it earns from the World Cup, Champions Trophy and ironically the inaugural 20-20 World Cup in South Africa. These private enterprise leagues will demand a change in the way the bottomless pool of fans in India support their game. They’ll start getting behind their city franchises, rather than their national team. Many young people will only follow the wham-bam-thank-you-Ma’am lure of the 20-20 format. This could diminish the power base of administrators at the ICC, and that in turn threatens 130 years of history, test matches and the all the other extraordinarily English traditions. How this leaves little old New Zealand is anyone’s guess.
New Zealanders cashing -in
Indian premier league (officially approved by the I.C.C) Daniel Vettori u Delhi Daredevils
Brendon McCullum u IPL Kolkata Jacob Oram/Stephen Fleming u Chennai Super Kings Scott Styris u IPL Hyderabad INDIAN CRICKET LEAGUE (the rebel-rousers) Lou Vincent, Shane Bond, Hamish Marshall, Andre Adams, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Cairns, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Chris Harris and Adam Parore.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 73
feel life | HEALTH
Freeze therapy Hypothermia may help with severe head injuries, discovers John Fauber
Her skin cold to the touch, Anna Kindt lay in the hospital as frigid saline was pumped into her veins for more than 10 days. A crack about one-third of an inch wide ran along the top and right side of Kindt’s skull, just one of several fractures to her head and face. Her car looked just as bad, a collapsed roof and a crushed side. While passing another car on the shoulder of a road in the US state of Wisconsin, August 2006, Kindt lost control of her Honda Civic, which turned into a front yard and bounced off a couple of trees before coming to a rest. Flight for Life transported her to Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital, where doctors faced the daunting task of preventing her brain from swelling and killing her or rendering her severely disabled. One possibility was to remove part of her skull. Another was to put a cooling catheter into one of her veins, bring her body temperature down to 91 degrees, keeping her brain and body in a state of hypothermia. When doctors started cooling Kindt, 21, she became part of a small fraternity of 74 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
head injury patients to undergo hypothermia therapy. She spent 32 days in the hospital, including about 10 days in a state of hypothermia, sedated and under the influence of a paralyzing drug that prevented her from shivering. “She was in a coma,” says her mother, Nina Kindt. “She was cold. (But) it seemed like she knew we were there.” Doctors say hypothermia therapy has become the standard of care as a way to protect the brains of people who have suffered a cardiac arrest. It’s also being used more in head injury cases, although clinical trials supporting its use have been mixed. At a few US hospitals, doctors have used the therapy on a handful of head injury cases. Whether it becomes the standard of care for those types of cases will depend on clinical trials, says Michel Torbey, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin who practices at Froedtert. Those trials using hypothermia in adults and children who have suffered brain inju-
ries are taking place in the U.S. and in other countries, but it could be a few more years before the results are known. For years, animal research and some studies in humans have hinted that putting head trauma patients into hypothermia might be beneficial. However, a 2001 study in the New England Journal of Medicine cooled interest in the use of hypothermia in brain injury cases. The study, involving 392 comatose patients aged 16 to 65, found that cooling them to 91 degrees within eight hours of their injury and maintaining them at that temperature for 48 hours did not provide any benefit. About 57 percent of patients who were cooled and a similar percentage who were not cooled either died or recovered with severe disability or in a vegetative state. And there were more complications among those who got hypothermia therapy. It was a setback for the use of the therapy in head injury cases. But encouraged by animal studies, the same group of researchers pressed on, this
time looking at a group of 102 brain injury patients who, because of cold outdoor conditions, already were in a state of hypothermia when they were admitted to the hospital. The researchers found that if hypothermia was continued in the hospital, the patients were significantly more likely to have a good neurological outcome (good recovery and only moderate disability) than a poor outcome (severe disability, vegetative state or death). In patients who were 45 or younger, the effect was even more pronounced. Among those who did not get hypothermia therapy, 76 percent had a poor outcome, compared with 52 percent who got hypothermia therapy in the hospital. “We kept seeing patients who did dramatically better than anyone expected,” says Guy Clifton, lead author on both studies and professor and chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. The finding led researchers to theorize that if cooling could be started early, it might be effective. Now Clifton and other groups of researchers are doing hypothermia clinical trials on children and adults who have had brain injuries with the goal of cooling them to about 91 degrees within four hours of their injury. “Essentially what we are doing is cooling as quickly as possible,” Clifton says. It is believed that cooling protects the brain in a couple of ways. When the brain is injured, such as in an auto accident or fall, it begins producing chemicals that can be harmful to brain cells. Hypothermia slows the production of those chemicals. A cool brain also needs less oxygen. At the same time, injury to the brain produces swelling that can be damaging or deadly. Hypothermia is known to reduce swelling. As a result, some hospitals now use it to help decrease swelling. At University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, about 20 percent of head injury patients now get hypothermia therapy, says Gregory Trost, a professor of neurosurgery and vice chairman of neurosurgery. He says hypothermia can reduce the amount of time a patient spends in the hospital. Such patients usually are kept in a state of hypothermia for three to seven days. “It’s just one other therapy that we can try,” he says. As a doctor in residence in St. Louis, William McCullough had experience with a clinical trial in which hypothermia was used in brain injury cases. “We saw evidence of what were presumed to be good results,” says McCullough, a neurosurgeon with Midwest Neurosurgical Associates who practices at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. But the evidence remains mostly anecdotal, he says. St. Luke’s does not use the therapy in brain injury cases, he says. At Froedtert it has been used on a handful of brain injury patients, Torbey says. He says it can reduce pressure in the brain by as much as two-thirds. “We can pretty much bring them to normal pressure,” he says. “The question is: Is it changing outcomes?” There is no way of knowing whether hypothermia helped Kindt recover, but her initial prognosis was bleak. “They told us there was a 20 percent chance she’d live, and if she did we’d be feeding her and she would have to be taken care of,” says her mother, Nina. Instead, her daughter has recovered dramatically, although her personality has changed somewhat, her mother says.
HEALTHBRIEFS PHARMA GIANT ACCUSED OF COVER-UP u A retired medical officer with the federal Food and Drug Administration have testified that drug maker Eli Lilly distorted the science and downplayed the health risks of its schizophrenia drug Zyprexa to make more money. John Gueriguian, who worked 20 years for the FDA and is now a consultant, was on the stand in Anchorage Superior Court as an expert witness for the state of Alaska. The state is suing Eli Lilly and Co. to recover costs to its Medicaid system for what it contends are serious health problems, including weight gain and diabetes, caused by Zyprexa. The state says the company failed to warn of troubles because it counted on Zyprexa to become its next big moneymaker. Global sales of Zyprexa approached US$4.8 billion last year. workplace bullying u Findings from two Canadian researchers indicate workplace bullying appears to be more harmful to employees than those experiencing sexual harassment. Study authors Sandy Hershcovis of the University of Manitoba and Julian Barling from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., reviewed 110 studies conducted over 21 years that looked at sexual harassment and workplace aggression, which includes bullying, incivility and interpersonal conflict. Workers who were bullied, experienced incivility or dealt with interpersonal conflict were more likely to leave their jobs and have a lessened well-being, researchers said. They were also less satisfied with their jobs and enjoyed less satisfying relationships with their superiors than workers who were sexually harassed. YOU KNOW YOU’RE SOAKING IN IT? u A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows. To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe. But the presence of so many prescription drugs – and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen – in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.
She has less patience and she is more likely to be overly crabby or happy about things, her mother says. Anna Kindt says she also has some lingering memory problems and she is taking a drug used for ADHD to help with her memory. About half her memories from 2006 seem to be gone, she says. “All of 2006 is in pieces,” she says. A former competitive gymnast, Kindt has recovered her physical function. “I can do back handsprings and handstands,” she says. “I can hold those for a good five minutes.” She’s now studying massage therapy and doing well in school, she says. “I should be dead or mentally retarded,” she says. “(Hypothermia) saved my life. I beat science. Science can’t explain me.” INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 75
feel life | ALT.HEALTH
Autism & vaccines A US court case may lead to further suits linking autism and vaccines, as Mary Jo Layton reports
A Georgia family’s legal victory this month in their crusade to prove vaccines caused their daughter’s autism could fuel similar lawsuits in New Jersey, which has the highest rate of the disorder in the nation, experts warn. In chat rooms and some support groups, the settlement is being hailed as an unprecedented victory: After years of denying the danger, many parents believe the federal government has finally conceded that vaccines may cause autism. “For the parents who believe that there’s a link between autism and vaccines, this will add fuel to the fire,’’ says Suzanne Buchanan, a licensed psychologist and clinical director of the New Jersey Center for Outreach for the Autism Community. But as the settlement was announced first week of March, attorneys and advocates in New Jersey warned that parents may be drawing the wrong conclusion. While the government conceded that childhood vaccines caused this particular girl’s injury, she had a rare, underlying genetic disorder. The narrow circumstances probably make the case an exception – not a precedent, legal experts say. The government “has not conceded that vaccines cause autism,” says Linda Renzi, the lawyer representing federal officials, who have consistently maintained that childhood shots are safe. That won’t stop parents who have long believed vaccines harmed their children 76 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
from filing their own claims. “People are going to call lawyers because they’re going to see this as the court linking autism and vaccines,’’ says Mindy Roth, an attorney and expert in vaccine litigation. “But in this particular case, the underlying disease is not typically an autism element. It’s not a concession for an autism link to the vaccine.’’ Roth and some advocates anticipate an increase in lawsuits and a renewed – and heated – debate over the causes of autism, which affects 1 in 94 in New Jersey. The national US rate is 1 in 150, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I’m sure we’re going to see an increase in the number of parents who will look at this and say, `We can sue the government,’ says Lori Shery, president and founder of the Asperger Syndrome Education Network (ASPEN), a national organization based in Edison. “I honestly don’t believe that autism is caused by a vaccine.” Nearly 5,000 families are already seeking compensation for autism or other developmental disabilities they blame on vaccines and a mercury-based preservative, thimerosal. It once was commonly used to prevent bacterial contamination but since 2001 has been used only in certain flu shots. Some cases contend that the cumulative effect of many shots given at once may have caused injuries. The cases are before a special “vaccine court” that doles out cash from a fund
Congress set up to pay people injured by vaccines and to protect makers from damages as a way to help ensure an adequate vaccine supply. The burden of proof is lighter than in a traditional court, and is based on a preponderance of evidence. Since the fund started in 1988, it has paid roughly 950 claims – none for autism. Kevin Conway, a Boston lawyer representing more than 1,200 families with vaccine injury claims, is heartened by the settlement. “Each case is going to have to be proved on its individual merits,” he says. “But it shows to me that the government has conceded that it’s biologically plausible for a vaccine to cause these injuries. They’ve never done it before.” Studies repeatedly have claimed to discount any link between thimerosal and autism, but legal challenges continue. The issue even cropped up in the presidential campaign, with Republican John McCain asserting that “there’s strong evidence” autism is connected to the preservative. The Georgia girl has a disorder involving her mitochondria, the energy factories of cells. The disorder – which can be present at birth from an inherited gene or acquired later in life – impairs cells’ ability to use nutrients, and often causes problems in brain functioning. It can lead to delays in walking and talking. According to a document from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials, five vaccines the girl received on one day in 2000 aggravated her mitochondrial condition. That predisposed her to metabolic problems that manifested as worsening brain function “with features of autism spectrum disorder.” The document does not address whether it was the thimerosal – or something else entirely in the vaccines – that was at fault. The Health Resources and Services Administration, which is in charge of the fund, argues: “HRSA has maintained and continues to maintain the position that vaccines do not cause autism.” A decision is expected this season on the first test case for a larger group of autismvaccine claims, which are being heard in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Reported cases of autism have been rising in the U.S., even after thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines. However, some experts believe the rise is due to an expansion of the definition of autism and related conditions, and a desire to diagnose children so they qualify for special services and aid.
Imagine a world without fish. New research on global overfishing indicates the world’s oceans will be virtually barren of consumable fish in less than 50 years.§
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 77
taste life travel
Hidden treasures Some of England’s lesser known tourist attractions catch the attention of Sheila Sobell and Richard N. Every If you’ve visited England’s heritage cities before, your tour may have concentrated on just the traditional cultural treasures of Stratford, Bath and Oxford. But if you dare to be a Brit different, these cities’ less-traveled delights merit a curtain call. MORPH IN STRATFORD
(www.butterflyfarm.co.uk) “Is this butterfly dead?” a little girl asked, pointing to a large blue and black specimen on the path. “No,” a staff member answered. “It’s 78 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
mud pudding, drinking plant water runoff that’s filled with minerals. For the same reason, butterflies in the wild drink animal urine.” Kids will soak up fascinating facts like this while visiting the butterfly farm across from the Royal Shakespeare Heritage Theatre. Opened in 1985, it’s a conservation habitat for tropical species from 19 different countries. Your entrance fee supports worldwide rain forest conservation; as a deterrent to deforestation, the farm buys chrysalis from remote villages, giving them
an alternative income stream. Stay for the 38-minute educational video, and go home a true lepidopterist. TALK THE TALK TRIPPINGLY ON THE TONGUE
(www.stratford.co.uk) Do you know the origin of the expression “left on the shelf?” A visit to the house of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, will help you understand how idioms, phrases that can have a totally different meaning depending on context, enter the lan-
“We took afternoon tea, a gastronomic delight of delicate sandwiches, freshly baked scones with local dairy cream, cakes and teas followed by a glass of spa water drawn from a spring fountain right in the room
guage. In Shakespeare’s time, the “shelf ” referred to the sleeping accommodations for unmarried women. Young girls slept on a rush mat on the floor, but if they remained spinsters, they graduated to a large shelf affixed to the wall. Hence the expression “left on the shelf.” PEEK INTO BATH’S REGENCY POLITE SOCIETY
(www.fashionmuseum.co.uk) Regency “polite” society had a naughty little secret – a gambling addiction, and
Bath was where the action was. According to 18th century historian William Lecky, “Physicians even recommended it as a form of distraction. ... Among fashionable ladies the passion was quite as strong as among men.” At first, they indulged their passion in private homes, then later in the New Assembly Rooms, opened in 1771. In the basement of these sumptuous rooms is the very fine Fashion Museum. With more than 60,000 items spanning 400 years of fashion, it’s one of the world’s largest collections of historic and contemporary dress. The charm is in its personal and often playful perspective of how we define our own style. A collection of shirts straight out of the closet of Sir Roy Strong, who served as director of the Victoria and Albert museum from 1974 to 1987, offers a personal footnote on the evolution of men’s fashion. One family’s matrimonial history is used to illustrate the sartorial development of the wedding dress. Displayed
below each gown is a picture of the bride on her wedding day. TEA TO BE SEEN
(www.romanbaths.co.uk) The Pump Room in the Roman Baths has been the social heart of Bath since the dawn of the 19th century. With a pianist, soaring ceilings, stunning chandeliers, sumptuousness food and slick service, it was easy to shut our eyes and imagine being Jane Austen, who lived in the city twice, but hated the snobbery. We took afternoon tea, a gastronomic delight of delicate sandwiches, freshly baked scones with local dairy cream, cakes and teas followed by a glass of spa water drawn from a spring fountain right in the room. Unlike other spas, the water was very pleasant, although the health benefits were, sadly, not immediately apparent. To hedge our bets, we downed a glass of cider made from locally grown apples. Slightly INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 79
wealthy American heiresses who traveled to the U.K. to secure an aristocratic husband and a title. This year, it’s the Titanic, where, sadly, many of them concluded their grand adventure. IN CLINK
alcoholic, it put a definite glow on the rest of the day. THE ANGLO-AMERICAN CONNECTION
(www.americanmuseum.org) The last attraction you’d expect to find in Bath is a museum highlighting the design connections between the U.S. and the U.K. In 1961, two collectors, the American psychiatrist Dallas Pratt and John Judkyn, an English antiques dealer, transformed a 30room mansion into a nonprofit museum of decorative arts to demonstrate the powerful connection between the two cultures. Every detail in each of the 15 period rooms is authentic. From floorboards to furnishings, all were imported from the States to reflect the development of American interior design as the country became more
IF YOU GO Where to Stay u Stratford The Mercure Shakespeare Hotel: www. mercure.com/mercure/fichehotel/gb/ mer/6630/fiche_hotel.shtml. This four-star hotel circa 1637 is a living museum. We loved its cozy authenticity and were surprised it was being refurbished. We saw little to improve, apart perhaps from raising the ceilings, as guests are a good deal taller today than in the 17th century. Food and beverage is managed by a French staff who deserve all their culinary and hospitality awards. The house dinner menu consists of exceptionally well-prepared, predominantly English cuisine at surprisingly modest prices. Newly opened in an annex of the hotel is Othello’s, a bar brasserie where you can taste lighter fare like exotic tapas or indulge
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affluent and taste more sophisticated. Pratt and Judkyn wanted the Brits to understand America by getting beyond Hollywood’s cowboy stereotypes, a tall order for a museum of furniture and porcelain. The Wild West and the iconic American cowboy were really just a historical flash in the pan. The era was over in less than two decades, and the cowpoke himself history after a life expectancy of just 24 years. Nor was the Civil War originally about slavery. Abraham Lincoln is famous for taking the moral high ground, but the real fighting issue was over curtailing the economic advantage slavery gave to the South. Each year the museum mounts a special exhibition. Dollar Princesses, its 2007 exhibit, followed the dazzling lives of
your taste for steak. We can only echo the recommendation of R.B. Wheeler, author of a 1795 hotel guide: “Domestic comforts of a congenial manner.” Bath – Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, www. macdonaldhotels.co.uk/bathspa. It’s high living at this five-star, 170year-old estate, where you can have your luggage unpacked and bath drawn by your very own English butler. “Sumptuous” is the only word to describe the interior design of both reception and guest suites, the result of an 18-month rejuvenation. It was hard to pull myself out of the swimming pool and the thermal suite, a ritzy cluster of steam rooms with a rock sauna, infrared cabin, salt infusion, aroma steam room and themed showers, fabulous for detoxing. In the interest of journalism, I even braved the invigorating ice
(www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk) If you were poor, a pickpocket, prostitute, petty criminal or worse in 18th century England, you were relatively lucky to escape hanging, the official punishment for more than 200 offenses. But if you were spared the gallows, you were likely to perish from disease. Beginning in 1216, Oxford Castle served as a prison for a variety of villains, from unruly university students to prisoners of war, debtors, drunks and murderers, closing in 1996. On May 5, 2006, it opened as a tourist attraction, appropriately named Oxford Castle Unlocked. Here is a rare opportunity to learn about prison life through the centuries and the reformers who tried to make it more humane. Prisoners sentenced to hard labor turned a mechanical crank handle thousands of times a day under the watchful eyes of prison wardens (called “screws”) who could make the chore more difficult by tightening a screw on the crank. Segregation of the sexes wasn’t introduced until 1848, when a separate women’s prison was built. There was no sanitation; not until 1994 were inmates given keys to use “the facilities.”
room, slathering my arms with crushed ice that looked like snow. Oxford – Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel, www.four-pillars.co.uk. Set back from the road on 20 acres of expansive grounds overlooking a horse sanctuary, this four-star hotel epitomizes a favorite British expression, “value for money.” An easy 15-minute walk into the heart of Oxford, a modestly priced stay at this property even includes free admission to its Willows Leisure Club. What you’ll remember most about your stay is the hospitality of its staff. Because it’s located in a university town in one of Europe’s most famous cities, some of the staff are students in tourism and hospitality and their enthusiasm is contagious. For more information on heritage cities, visit www.heritagecities.com.
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taste life FOOD
The other day I was browsing in my favourite bookstore when I happened upon a collection of essays by the British environmentalist George Monbiot. Now in case you don’t spend your day skiving off work and surfing political weblogs on company time, George Monbiot is one of those sensitive, dystopian souls who have managed to make a not inconsiderable pile of dough telling us how just plain awful everything is, and how we should all abandon the cities to live in isolation or in small clusters in peat bogs or other wilderness to do penance for the sins of humanity, and how it doesn’t really matter anyway if we do because all life on Earth is about to be destroyed by hellfire anyway. In other words, he sounds a lot like one of those early Christians who believed that Jesus was due back any minute, urging anyone who would listen to repent – the end is near! Of course there is one major difference between those early hermits of the Levant and this modern-day Stylite: where the Christians of old believed in God and sought eternal life, today’s modern ecologist seeks no such thing. Don’t believe me? It’s right there on the back of Monbiot’s book, which promises, among other things, to explain why (I quote from memory) “eternal death is preferable to eternal life”. Doesn’t get much more explicit than that. This is the sort of guy who plays Logan’s Run backwards so that it has a happy ending. I thought of this because I keep hearing other stories about environmentalists behaving like your more violent strains of religious fundamentalists. (Not to single anyone out, but I think we all know I’m not talking about Presbyterians). In the US, for example, a street of luxury display homes was recently torched by, authorities believe, members of the radical Earth Liberation Front, a fundamentalist green group that has caused countless millions of dollars worth of damage to ski resorts, auto lots, and anything else that represents the resource-sucking bourgeoisie (ie, you and I). 82 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Duck season James Morrow has a great recipe, but first, catch your duck…
And in England a number of restaurants that once served that great delicacy, foie gras, have bowed to attacks – real or threatened – and stopped serving the specially fattened livers of geese or ducks on their tables. Yet to anyone who has studied the issue, and really cares about animal welfare, artisinally-produced foie gras leaves little to complain about. It’s the sort of business extolled by the “slow food” movement. The fattening process is a natural one in migratory birds (ancient Egyptians first prized livers of birds making their seasonal sea change for this very reason) and the farmer simply helps along the process. Meanwhile the whole capitalist edifice that is responsible for the battery-raised
chicken, which leads a life that is truly nasty, brutish and short, is left unmolested. What this all goes to prove is that the pointy edge of the environmentalist wedge is not so much directed at changing or eliminating things that do real damage to flora or fauna, but rather things that are aesthetically displeasing to people who can’t stand the widespread prosperity of the capitalist post-World War II West. And just as with rioters who used the occasion of a few cartoons in a Danish magazine to wind back the West’s hardfought for tradition of free speech, it’s not about redressing actual torts as it is seeing how much one can get away with in the quest to remake society.
HONEY-ROASTED DUCK This is a great starter dish for anyone interested in trying out some duck breasts, which should be available from your local butcher or food hall. I always have a pair of cryovac’d duck breasts in the fridge from my local – they keep for weeks – and this is a not-uncommon semi-special weeknight dinner around my place. The key here is the slow rendering of the fat – take your time – before finishing the thing off in the oven. You’ll need: 4 175g duck breasts, with skin on Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Pinch of Chinese five spice Olive oil 1-2 tbsp honey 2 tbsp soy sauce 200g green beans 85g toasted hazelnuts 100ml hazelnut oil 200ml olive oil 100ml sherry vinegar
Too many people are afraid of cooking duck, but it’s just a question of managing your heat right
On my side of the ditch, at least, foie gras is vanishingly hard to come by. The real stuff isn’t even allowed to be produced locally, thanks to the efforts of animal rights activists years ago. What is imported has generally had to be heated or preserved in such a way as to get it through Australia’s quarantine regulations – another bane of the food-lover’s existence, but that is another story. Yet, for now, one can still have duck. Which is good, because as a meat it has a taste like no other. Slightly gamey, firm of flesh, with a delicious fat that can be rendered for use in confit, or slowly crisped to a delicious “cracklin’”. Too many people are afraid of cooking duck, but it’s just a question of managing your heat right. Well-bred ducks aren’t greasy, either, so forget about the oily, chewy stuff that featured in Chinese restaurants ages ago. Properly cooked and sliced, duck breasts present as beautiful medallions of meat and stand up well to other flavours. And there is no better match for duck than some of New Zealand’s heartier pinot noirs. What are you waiting for? Get quackin’!
Method 1. Score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss cross pattern with a very sharp knife. Season the duck breast generously with salt and the five spice and rub into the skin thoroughly. 2. Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, on a dry ovenproof pan and cook over very low heat to render down most of the fat. This may take 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fat. 3. Now turn up the heat and fry until the skin is crisp. Turn the duck breasts over and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Just before the duck is ready, drizzle the honey and soy sauce over. Toss and turn the duck in the honey and soy and cook until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze. Transfer the duck to a warm plate and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes. 4. Get a pan of boiling water for the beans with a large pinch of salt. Add the beans to the water and cook for no more than one minute. Meanwhile, crush the hazelnuts lightly with a pestle and mortar. Drain the beans thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Whisk the oils and sherry vinegar together with some seasoning. Toss the beans in the vinaigrette to taste. 5. To serve, place the bean salad off centre on warm plates. Slice the duck lengthways and place on top. Drizzle any remaining pan juices over and finish with a small drizzle of the vinaigrette. (Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food).
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 83
touch life > drive
Stylish Swede Major player Volvo keeps wagons in game, writes Jim Mateja The vehicle that first appeared in the rearview mirror a couple miles back as a tiny set of headlights shot past on an otherwise deserted country road. The bottle blonde riding shotgun spit the words out with disgust. “Want me to drive?” she said, smirking while tightening the straps on her racing gloves. The reason for her dismay is that the car that just passed was a fullsize station wagon. Worse, it was a model last offered new in the 1996 model year, which meant being beaten by a relic piloting a relic. The only thing that kept us from having to turn in the Polish Racing Club membership card was that we were loafing along that country road in a redesigned 2008 Volvo V70. Isn’t such low-profile loafing what folks are supposed to do in a wagon? For 2008 Volvo redesigned its premium midsize wagon, which is derived from its midsize S60 sedan. A 3.2-litre, 238-horsepower 5-cylinder with a smooth 6-speed automatic takes the place of the earlier, smaller engines. At the top of the range you can have the turbo variant T6, developing 285 bhp and 400 Nm of torque, with all-wheel drive, retailing at $89,990. The V70 is low-slung for almost sports-car-like handling in tight corners and turns – no lean or sway. Stability control with traction control is standard. Very secure on dry roads and no wandering on snow. So what do you get for the standard V70 at $69,990? Power windows/mirrors/locks, climate control and AM/FM stereo radio and single-disc CD player. Leather seats, rear park assist, airbags, side impact protection, built in two-stage child booster seats, information console, and a stack of other goodies. Optionals include a humidity sensor, personal car communicator with keyless entry and start, a self-opening tailgate, rain sensitive wipers and a 12 speaker CD system. Adaptive cruise [an optional extra to the standard cruise con84 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
trol] reduces engine speed and applies brakes to maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead when cruise control is engaged; lane-departure warning sounds a beep if you nod off and cross the lane dividers; and collision warning lets out a beep when it senses the vehicle ahead has slowed suddenly or you are going too fast and could hit it. If an impact is imminent, the system applies the brakes and slows the engine. The one big option on the test car was the climate package with heated seats, power passenger seat and rain-sensing wipers with heated washer nozzles. The V70 holds four adults in comfort. You can squeeze one kid in back. Seats are easy-chair soft. Second-row seat backs fold flat for added cargo room. The middle seat back folds on its own to make room for skis. The cargo hold is massive. Lift the floor, and a series of small compartments hide things. Volvo says if the wagon is struck in the
rear at only 56 km/h, a 27kg suitcase flying forward has the force of 1,200 kgs. An option is a Cargo Guard tubular metal divider wall that fastens into the ceiling behind the front or rear seats to keep items in back from coming up front in a collision. There’s also the optional Dog Gate, a metal partition that divides the cargo hold in half to hold luggage on one side and Spot on the other. In a collision the dog won’t be tossed around the cabin, and he’s secure if rescuers need to enter the car to aid passengers. Neat touches include a cell phone/iPod holder in the centre console, auxiliary power plug under the center armrest, a power plug in the back of the center console for rear-seat occupants and fold-down rear-seat armrest with cup and sandwich holders. Not so neat: You can’t use the front window defroster to direct air against the windshield and the heater to direct warm air against your body at the same time. So you have to choose between keeping fog off the windshield or ice crystals off your toes. Why?
2008 VOLVO V70 Length
3.2-litre, 238 bhp five cylinder
Price as tested
8.4 secs (7.2 secs for the turbo)
Pluses Good acceleration. Excellent braking. Low-slung for very good cornering. Lots of space for people and possessions as well as pets. Minuses It’s a freakin’ wagon.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 85
touch life > toybox Canon IXUS 80 IS Available in four colours – Classic Silver, Candy Pink, Caramel and Chocolate – the Digital IXUS 80 IS is a must-have camera. The colours and curves are enhanced by pure aluminium bodywork. An 8.0 Megapixel sensor captures images in plenty of detail for creative trimming and large size prints. Advanced Ultra-High Refractive Index Aspherical (UA) lens technology from Canon fits a 3x optical zoom lens into the compact form of the Digital IXUS 80 IS. An optical Image Stabilizer (IS), helps you capture blur-free images in lowlight and when shooting with the zoom. There’s no need to worry about blur with Motion Detection Technology. This clever feature detects camera shake and subject movement, and then adjusts ISO to combat blur while maximising image quality. Face Detection Technology ensures superb people shots by automatically setting optimum focus, exposure, flash and white balance. Face Select and Track lets you choose and track your primary subject, so you never lose a special face in the crowd. www.canon.co.uk
Stylus Photo R1900 Epson has released the new Stylus Photo R1900 A3+ printer for professional photographers who demand high quality photographs. It features Epson’s advanced UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 ink offering vibrant natural colours and long lasting prints on an array of Epson papers, making it ideal for professional photographers seeking to combine the highest possible gloss with the outstanding durability of resin coated pigment inks. The UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 ink is highly durable due to its resin coating making it smudge, water and fade resistant, lasting up to 200 years on Epson Watercolour Radiant White Paper according to Wilhelm Imaging Research. UltraChrome HiGloss2 has eight individual ink cartridges including cyan, magenta, yellow, red, orange, matte black, photo black and gloss optimiser. The addition of orange to the ink set widens the colour gamut in the most essential areas; the reds, yellows and oranges, to enable the Stylus Photo R1900 to reproduce optimum skin tones. The magenta and yellow inks have also been enhanced to produce brilliant blue and green tonal colours. The Stylus Photo R1900 has PictBridge allowing users to connect directly to a digital camera and also dual USB 2.0 ports allowing users to be connected to additional computers with ease. The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is $1299 RRP including GST and available for purchase at your local Epson stockist. For more details visit www.epson.co.nz
86 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Sony mylo Personal Communicator The Wi-Fi Sony mylo personal communicator gives you what need to stay connected. It conveniently uses wireless LAN technology so there are no monthly bills or longterm contracts. Call your friends on Skype for free or IM them on AIM, Google Talk™, or Yahoo! Messenger using the back-lit slide-out keyboard and enjoy unparalleled communication in the palm of your hands. You can also browse the Web, take photos and share them on the 3.5inch LCD touch screen. All this on a device small enough to take virtually anywhere. Sony mylo, the fun of a PC in your pocket. Also available in white. www.sonystyle.com
Casio EXILIM EX-Z9 Casio has introduced the latest addition to its stylish series of EXILIM digital cameras, the EXILIM Zoom EXZ9. This newest member of the EXILIM line features a stylish, slim and compact design to increase portability, and provides an improved 8.1 megapixels of image resolution with 3X optical zoom. This new model stays true to the user-friendly features that have become standard to the EXILIM Zoom series. The 2.6-inch wide LCD display enables users to easily navigate camera operations and enhance the review of images, while the 23 Best Shot Modes and face detection technology help users take high quality photos without having to adjust camera settings. The EX-Z9 comes loaded with other useful features including Anti Shake DSP which reduces photo blur from shaky hands or moving subjects, allowing users to shoot images with ease and confidence. www.casio.com.
Belkin’s Desktop Internet Phone for Skype Belkin has introduced its new Desktop Internet Phone for Skype, which allows you to make free Skype Internet calls without having to turn on your computer. Simple to setup and easy to use, the new phone brings the Skype experience to more people and at an affordable price. Features speaker, speed dial, call hold/release, call pickup/park, mute, redial, hold, call-timer display, and contact list. Whether you use Skype to call friends, family or business associates, you’ll love the familiarity and simplicity of the Skype experience on this new device. Access to a broadband Internet connection is required for Skype and all Skype Certified devices and accessories. Visit www.belkin.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 87
see life / pages
Miaowch! Michael Morrissey checks out a biography of New Zealand filmmakers, a foreign travel-writer’s hissy-fit about NZ and Max Cryer’s study of cats NEW ZEALAND FILMMAKERS Edited by Ian Conrich and Stuart Murray Wayne State University Press, $85 New Zealand film makers, directors, producers, cinematographers etc must be heartened by the fact that this is the third book on New Zealand film to have appeared in a matter of months. A fourth is due out soon. Indeed the recent number of books on film currently appears to be exceeding the number of films produced! This fine collection provides a very wide coverage of New Zealand film with encyclopaedically thorough filmographies of all directors examined. It divides the film makers into three broad categories – Pioneers, New Wave and Visionaries and Fantasists. At first glance, there may appear to be an anomaly between film makers such as Peter Wells appearing among pioneers when his career began as recently as 1980 whereas Donaldson whose landmark film Sleeping Dogs (1977) is included in the later New Wave grouping. Presumably, the unstated logic is that while Lye, Hayward and O’Shea are true-blue chronological pioneers, others so included, like our first Maori (Merita Mita and Barry Barclay – sadly, recently passed away), feminist (Gaylene Preston) and “queer” (Peter Wells) are, genre-wise, also pioneer film makers. It is startling to the point of the surreal to compare the psychologically parallel but utterly disparate careers of Len Lye – experimental film maker, inhabitant of New York – with Rudall Hayward, a faithful New Zealand son, following as best as resources would allow, the silver shadows of Hollywood, necessarily rendered in silent sepia. In 1929, as the world’s stock markets were crashing, Lye was making the boldly innovative Tusalava, a plotless art film, significantly influenced by his study of Aboriginal art, while Hayward was reeling off short comedies like A Daughter of Christchurch as well as – with fertile energy – Daughters for 88 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Thames, Auckland, Timaru and Whangarei. As noted by biographer Roger Horrocks, Lye wouldn’t have been overly enthralled by even Hayward’s more major works like My Lady of the Cave which he would have viewed as “folklore fun” – possibly what the world craved in the dark time of that fateful year. The contrast between these two creative sons of Aotearoa couldn’t have been stylistically – and indeed content-wise – more extreme. Yet without the both, our culture would be the poorer. It was also heartening to see that extraordinarily charismatic figure Bruno Lawrence given a chapter to himself, written by Andrew Spicer. In my opinion, what New Zealand cinema desperately needs right now is another Bruno Lawrence which is a bit like saying Hollywood needs a new Marlon Brando. Karl Urban, come in, your time is now. The versatile career of the gifted Jennifer Ward-Lealand, arguably our leading lady of film, is examined by Barbara Cairns. Naturally the Big Three – Vincent Ward, Jane Campion and the ubiquitous Peter Jackson are each given chapters, while “quieter” figures like John Reid and John Laing are given expert analysis by Bruce Babington (whose own book, A History of the New Zealand Fiction Feature Film was reviewed in March 2008) and editor Ian Conrich, respectively. The relatively locally neglected, though increasingly internationally celebrated David Blyth, whose films are variously in the horror genre or visit fringe expressions of sexuality is also analysed by Tracey Abbot. The only significant chapter-omitted figure who readily springs to mind is Lee Tamahori, though he is mentioned in dispatches. All in all, this is a splendid reference work and an apt celebration of the proud achievement of New Zealand film and should find a place in every library as well in the satchels of students and briefcases of New Zealand film makers – and who knows?perhaps in the glove boxes of members of the New Zealand Film Commission.
EXTINCT BIRDS OF NEW ZEALAND By Alan Tennyson and Paul Martinson Te Papa Press, $65 Fifty eight. That’s the number of birds rendered extinct by human occupation. It may not sound like a lot but it represents 26 per cent of the original 223 original species. The picture is sombre but not all gloom – conservation consciousness has never been better than it is now and hopefully we can keep whatever feathered friends we have, remaining alive and well – and laying eggs. As a small boy and now, as a not so small adult, the moa has held me in thrall. Nine species of moa are charted, and illustrated here. The females were larger than the males, and in the case of the North Island giant moa, stretched their necks up to three metres high. The heaviest were the South Island giant moa with females going up to 242 kg. The authors proffer 1400 AD as the probable extinction for the moas. If this figure is correct, there is no way that Europeans saw the moa – though there are alternative historians like Ross Wiseman who argue for earlier cross-cultural encounters. If you want to avoid ornithological scorn, don’t claim – particularly in a half light – to have seen a moa. It will most likely be a deer, rooster, kakapo, [leprechaun? – Ed.] or whatever. My excitement about moa was surpassed when much later on I learnt about Haast’s Eagle – also doomed at the same time as the moa – around 1400 AD. Haast’s Eagle was not something you would want to meet on a dark night – it had claws the size of a tiger’s and could kill prey 10 to 20 times its weight e,g. moas. Can’t some clever scientist clone these fellows back into existence? A Jurassic Park aviary would do wonders for our tourist industry. My other favourite is the huia because of its feathered beauty and the music of its call. After that, shame to say, my interest falls off somewhat. Several ducks, a brace of coots, and a gobble of geese have passed on their way without me growing lachrymose. There are some species that should be mourned for their wonderfully elaborate names such as the New Zealand owlet-nightjar and the Dieffenbach’s rail – Mehoroki – someone must lie awake at night dreaming up these names. Seriously though, this is a fabulous book. It has great paintings of the departed fauna and many charts plus back up information that make it ideal for school projects and the interested reader.
sexuality, which is constantly simmering but only reaches boiling point in the latter part of the book. Committed left wingers will wince at his admiration for the fading British Empire. Committed nationalists will be offended by the fact Fallowell seems more interested in where Lawrence Olivier acted than looking at our lakes and beautiful scenery. And fancy going to Invercargill and not interviewing Tim Shadbolt – always ready with a quip or two. Fallowell’s book is a curious mix of the shallow and the deep as well the personally prurient. Yes, prepare to be shocked, offended and dragged through some steamy nightspots. So it’s an odd book – it’s disarmingly frank, a-political (except for casting wistful glances back to days of yore) and yet despite some abrasions has the charm of finely turned witty writing. One thing with which I can thoroughly agree with Fallowell – our incurable architectural vandalism. Fallowell’s quest is unabashedly that of a Europhile – apart from vanished architecture and the odd rent boy, his main quest, pursued with almost religious zeal, is to chart the almost forgotten pathway of Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh throughout New Zealand in 1948. This strand of Fallowell’s narrative has period charm – he winds up talking to a nun who knew another nun who actually nursed the locally injured actor. I sympathise with Fallowell’s almost doomed quest to find the locked up St James theatre where the Oliviers performed – but why didn’t he ask someone? He also takes a shine to learned Professor Munz who shockingly declares that New Zealanders have nothing behind that surface cheerfulness. To tell you the truth, some days I think he’s right. But there’s that pioneering spirit of course – and deep down isn’t everyone serious about themselves? Munz claims to be the only person who was a student of both famous philosophers Popper and Wittgenstein. Popper wrote his most well known book The Open Society and its Enemies while teaching at the University of Canterbury. Perhaps, Munz was unique in this regard – in any case, Fallowell would rather talk to him than Colin Meads. We are so used to people waxing lyrical about New Zealand’s scenery, it’s a little shocking when a visitor tells us that our fair green shores are eerie and the landscape is like a digital reconstruction. In one hilarious encounter, Fallowell visits a gay farm then flees in shyness or terror. One wonders what they grow on a gay farm – gay spuds? Bent carrots? Somehow, I doubt whether Master Duncan will be back for an encore trip around New Zealand.
GOING AS FAR AS I CAN By Duncan Fallowell Profile Books, $35
YOU DONT NEED TO SMACK By Glen Stenhouse Penguin,$19.95
The Listener gave this thundering coverage – editorial, full overview plus the occasionally funny Joe Bennett provoked into sombre seriousness. Joe actually liked the book though the cover of the magazine carried such shocking subtitles as Writer shocked at trashing of our European heritage and Why Brits see NZ as a “philistine hellhole”. The anticipated reception of this book reminds me of the distant furore that accompanied David Ausubel’s book The Fern and the Tiki many years ago. Kick New Zealand shins at your media peril. And kicking Kiwi shins usually means not liking scenery, rugby, fishing, glaciers, beer – not thinking we are the greatest little country on God’s earth – which on our good days we are. I have to say I enjoyed Fallowell’s campy but well-written prose and also agreed with some – though not all – of his observations. Committed Christians will be offended by his blatant homo-
I believe that on the whole New Zealanders are a moral people – they care about the welfare of children and society. Hence this passionate debate over smacking. My feelings are divided because both sides have merit in their arguments. The left wing view is that there is a gap in the criminal spectrum that needs to be plugged by legislation – some parents are getting away with an unacceptable level of minor violence and escaping legal chastisement. The right wing view (if it is really right wing) is that parents ought to be able to bring up their children – if necessary with the occasional light smack – without interference from nanny state. At one unconscious level, as it were, the entire debate is about the New Zealand desire to have heaven on earth. Or at least a state in which everything is just and every wrong made right. Is such a thing possible? Obviously not – but that doesn’t keep us from trying hard to achieve it. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 89
The timely book looks at some strategies to avoid smacking. Initially, I was surprised to read that “no parent that I have ever met wants to smack”. I would have thought there are some parents whether for sadistic, psychological or even righteous religious reasons (spare the rod and spoil the child) do have such a desire. And in case any of you readers (or smackers) are not quite sure what smacking is, Stenhouse defines it as “hitting a child with an open hand on the leg, bottom or hand for the purpose of controlling their behaviour”. If any reader thinks that Stenhouse’s book is going to be filled with touchy-feely soft love and loose homilies they would be mistaken. Some of Stenhouse’s advice is quite tough. For instance, if a parent says no then that person shouldn’t say any more and “walk away if you have to”. For real punishment – this is after three Xs are written for misdemeanours and a treat is withdrawn – Stenhouse suggests time-out which translates to “exclusion of your child from normal family life for a specified period”. He suggests ten minutes – and the child can be locked in if necessary. A bit grimmer than I expected but I guess it’s not as bad as a rough series of slaps. For the time-honoured justification for smacking – a child reaching towards an electric jug cord or putting their finger in a power point – Stenhouse suggests a firm “No!” plus moving the hand will suffice. It all sounds well and good though I still feel a bit uneasy about the locked door. Having no young children myself, I have had no practical experience with which to collaborate Stenhouse’s statements. Hopefully, they will prove workable for frustrated parents. IN PRAISE OF CATS By Max Cryer John Blake, $23 Max Cryer, versatile entertainer and author, has already published nine books – this is his tenth. Two of his previous books on the origin of words topped the local best seller list. This could well prove as popular. The allure of cats – apart from their feline grace and beauty – is their air of mystery and aloofness. One would hardly say that of dogs. And as Cryer wittily makes the point, referring to the stupendous success of the musical Cats – translated into 10 languages, performed in 300 cities across 26 countries – “It is somewhat hard to imagine that happening with a musical called Dogs”. This book is a joyous and learned compendium of folklore, sayings, quotes and historic and cultural information about cats. Plus much light verse – perhaps a tad too much for this reader but ample to keep your true cat lover satisfied. Cryer’s expertise in the origins of sayings and proverbs is put on fine display here. Cat out of the Bag? In earlier times, a dishonest vendor might put a cat in the bag instead of a piglet. When a cat emerged instead of a small pig the vendor’s secret was out. Cheshire cat? The animal’s famous wide grin did not originate with Lewis Carroll as I thought but several centuries earlier. Cat got your tongue? The squeamish should not read this. In earlier more barbaric times, a king could order a liar or traitor’s tongue cut off – and fed to the pet imperial moggy. Cat got your tongue? Perhaps the single most amazing cat fact noted by Cryer is their phenomenal hearing – they can actually hear the smallest and quietest movement of mice. Cats are a perplexing mixture of affection, remoteness and, at times, rage. As the late William Burroughs wrote, “A cat’s rage is beautiful, burning with a pure cat flame, all its hair standing and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering”. Perhaps I’ll get a stray one today. Then again, maybe not. 90 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Reviewed by Ian Wishart
A NEW EARTH By Eckhart Tolle Penguin More New Age schmaltz masquerading as life lessons, aimed at the same market who fell for The Secret or Neale Donald Walsche’s appalling Conversations with God series. Tolle’s dross would probably have failed to register on anyone’s horizon of consciousness, but for the fact that Oprah Winfrey got sucked in by it and is presenting web seminars (webinars) with Tolle. “Eckhart Tolle is a contemporary spiritual teacher who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition,” says the blurb on Amazon. “In his writing and seminars, he conveys a simple yet profound message with the timeless and uncomplicated clarity of the ancient spiritual masters: There is a way out of suffering and into peace. Eckhart travels extensively, taking his teachings throughout the world.” Yeah, right. And he undoubtedly makes far more money per customer than the average TV evangelist does. Tolle’s three basic foundations are that humanity needs to “live in the Now”, that humanity is “evolving” to a “higher consciousness” and that as part of that you will “find your mission”. In The Divinity Code I profiled the New Age movement’s push to set up a new world “religion”, ostensibly under the guise of ‘interfaith dialogue groups’ and infiltration of existing religions by New Agers looking to mount a coup from within, via this plea of evolution to a “higher consciousness”. There’s a lot at stake – power and money being two aspects that immediately spring to mind. If the New Age gurus can steer the market their way, they’ll be rolling in Lamborghinis and tropical vacations till the cows come home. Tolle’s book is dense, in a vague and waffly sort of way, and even Oprah has commented that it takes a while to “get it”. Tolle claims those who don’t “get it” were never meant to. On the other hand, it could just mean that his book is so incoherent that only he “gets it”, and everyone else is afraid to admit they were sucked in by it. FAIR TAX: THE TRUTH By Neal Boortz and John Linder HarperCollins Every month for the past six years, emails have landed in Investigate’s inbox from the team promoting the abolition of the IRS in America – the equivalent of our IRD. The group has won the support of a growing number of politicians (co-author John Linder is a congressman) and Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee took up the cause during his campaign push as well. In this book Boortz, a toprating conservative talk host, details how and why the Fair Tax idea will work, and how income tax can be abolished as a result. Essentially, the idea is for an increased sales tax and the abolition of all income tax. But the sales tax, unlike GST in New Zealand, would not apply to food, homes and public transport (relied on by low income earners). In other words, the poor would pay no tax, and the better off would pay tax only on what they consumed, not what they earnt. Somebody buy this book for John Key. Quick.
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www.mistralsoftware.co.nz INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008 91
see life / music
The soft sounds of autumn Chris Philpott gets funky and soulful with the latest releases Goldfrapp Seventh Tree Little known on these shores, but well known to electronica fans world-wide, Goldfrapp – the British dance act consisting of singer Alison Goldfrapp and composer Will Gregory – are sure to surprise fans with a shift to a more atmospheric and downtempo sound on Seventh Tree, their latest album. Since forming in 1999, Goldfrapp have established themselves as one of the premier dance acts on the planet, famed for catchy synthpop fusion like hit singles “Ooh La La” and “Ride a White Horse”, however Tree marks a return to the roots of their earlier release Felt Mountain, with Goldfrapp’s silky voice trickling over the moving ebb-and-flow of Gregory’s complex string arrangements and smatterings of synth. However, unlike the groups’ previous work, the synth is used sparingly and the dance beats remain, for the most part, locked away in the toy box, replaced with a wide range of styles including acoustic-folk (opener “Clowns”), pop (first single “A&E”, and “Caravan Girl”) and electronica (“Road to Somewhere”). Ambience is the order of the day, and Seventh Tree has it in spades – but be warned: this is not an album to play at your next party, but it is a worthwhile listen, regardless of its sometimes repetitive nature. Sara Bareilles Little Voice Picked as the next big thing, and compared to Norah Jones and Fiona Apple, Californian singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles certainly does look set to become a household name given the popularity of her debut single “Love Song”, which has proved a huge success here in New Zealand, both on radio and the charts. Definitely reminiscent of Apple (though I’m not sure how anyone could think she compares to Jones), Bareilles’ does have an undeniable knack for the catchiness that has made those singers 92 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
so popular, with some interesting piano and an incredibly strong voice providing the hallmarks of Little Voice. This is a decent enough album in itself, with the piano-driven “Love Song” and second single “Bottle It Up” leading a collection of songs that any singer would be proud of. The real problem here is that it doesn’t sound terribly unique and it isn’t really too wide-ranging stylistically – one can’t help but hear Fiona Apple’s quirky influence coming through, and the songs do seem to start running into each other as the album moves along, sorely lacking the variance you wish was there. That said, Little Voice is a great starting point and Bareilles’ star is sure to rise. Keep an eye on this one. American Music Club The Golden Age With nine studio albums under their belts, and a well-travelled frontman at the helm, its surprising that American Music Club haven’t received more recognition internationally for their achievements. Founded in San Francisco in 1982 by singer Mark Eitzel, guitarist Scott Alexander, drummer Greg Bonnell and bassist Brad Johnson, after Eitzel moved there following stints in Great Britain and Ohio, AMC released seven albums in just under 10 years, starting with 1985’s The Restless Stranger, before re-emerging with a new lineup and a new album in 2004’s Love Songs for Patriots. Typically cast in with other ‘slowcore’ bands, American Music Club is perhaps better known for bringing together the many influences that form Eitzel’s personal style, as well as crossing the lines of musical style inherent in the USA. Country, folk, Southern styles and rock are all major contributors to the typical AMC sound, and The Golden Age is no exception, with Eitzel’s smooth vocals and vivid lyrical work flowing over the gorgeous acoustic sounds that the group are so proficient in. Beautiful and melodic tracks like opener “All My Love”, my personal favourite “The Decibels and the Little Pills” and the keyboard-laced “Who You Are” shuffle along nicely, highlights that form the backbone for this interesting and absorbing release.
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see life / movies
In search of idealism Definitely, Maybe worth a look, Bonneville an easy watch Definitely, Maybe Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Rachel Weisz Directed by: Adam Brooks Rated: PG-13 (sexual content, strong language, smoking) 111 minutes Despair and heartache, disillusionment and crippling loneliness: These are not the emotions one usually associates with ideal Valentine’s Day fare. But as the wonderful new drama Definitely, Maybe reminds us, there can be a great deal of anguish on the way to finding true love. Quiet, thoughtful and often very sad, this is that rare Hollywood romance that contains both feelings and ideas; a movie that refuses to serve up the usual pandering fantasy about finding happilyever-after bliss. It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s almost entirely gone stale. Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a divorced advertising executive who is steadfastly devoted to his 11-year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin). Ryan was passionately engaged with politics when he was in college, and so at first the story seems to be a familiar one about a guy who’s lost his mojo and drifted into a life of corporate inertia. Not quite. As Will begins to recount to Maya the tale of how he met her mother, we realize that he’s a man who’s been beaten and battered down by a cynical, dog-eat-dog world he once embraced wholeheartedly. His escape to advertising, it seems, is a desperate bid to salvage his soul. This is the first of many clues that Definitely, Maybe is considerably more ambitious than the formulaic likes of 27 Dresses or Fool’s Gold. As the film continues, and Will recounts the details of the three major relationships in his life, things only turn richer and more complicated. 94 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Emily (Elizabeth Banks) is the college sweetheart Will left behind to go to work for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign in 1992. April (Isla Fisher) is the cynical-humored, free-spirited campaign office worker whom Will takes for granted as a friend. Summer (Rachel Weisz) is Emily’s college friend, a savvy journalist who’s willing to sacrifice her personal relationships in order to advance her career. The hook of the movie is that Will doesn’t initially tell Maya which of these three women became her mother. He changes all their names, and dares Maya to figure out who he ended up with. In truth, this framing device is the weakest thing about the movie, forcing a series of unnecessary and cloying interruptions into the main action. You can’t help but wish that writer-director Adam Brooks had the courage to tell this story straight. But that’s a forgivable flaw in a movie that otherwise rings intelligent and deeply true. Brooks portrays people whose lives and personalities are deeply reflected in the work they do. He also shows us how, in real life, romances rarely have a simple threeact structure, but instead are apt to carry on for years, sometimes long after a break-up, as ex-lovers drifting into and out of each other’s lives. Most audacious of all: Brooks introduces into this story a provocative subtext about how the hopefulness of so many young people at the dawn of the Clinton era eventually soured, as the 1990s carried on and national politics turned uglier and more partisan. Will’s career as a political consultant takes off, only to get brutally sabotaged by one of Summer’s articles in New York magazine.What a treat to see a mainstream romance that doesn’t need to make one female character a villain in order to uphold another as the heroine. When we do find out which woman is Maya’s mother, and which Will might still have a shot at finding true happiness with, it’s completely satisfying Reviewed by Christopher Kelly
Bonneville Starring: Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Allen, Tom Skerritt, Christine Baranski Directed by: Christopher N. Rowley Rated: PG for some mild language and innuendo 93 minutes Bonneville is a sentimental, daffy and dawdling road picture about people who have some mileage on them. Well cast, with a couple of Oscar winners and a sometime Oscar contender at its core, it’s a “Thelma & Louise & Carol Makes Three” journey of self-discovery that takes place in a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. Jessica Lange stars as Arvilla, an Idaho woman who has just lost her husband. He was an adventurous sort, an academic who showed her the world. And he made her promise him that she would scatter his ashes in Borneo when he died. His daughter from his first marriage (Christine Baranski) won’t hear of that. She wants him buried next to her mom in Santa Barbara. She’s already mad that Dad’s been cremated. If Arvilla doesn’t surrender the ashes, Francine will use her father’s outdated will to toss Arvilla out of her home. That worries Arvilla’s Mormon mom pal Carol (Joan Allen), a meek fussbudget naive to the ways of the world. And it annoys the heck out of their brassier widowed friend, Margene (Kathy Bates, in full good ol’gal bluster). But reason prevails and they resolve to take the ashes from Pocatello, Idaho, to Santa Barbara, Calif. And as predictable as this journey is, at least it’s not a boring one. They miss their flight and decide, instead, to drive that 1966 Bonneville to a memorial service to take place the next week. Christopher N. Rowley’s movie ambles over the Bonneville Salt Flats to Las Vegas, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and lots of the scenic West, picking up a handsome, helpful hitchhiker (Victor Rasuk in the Brad Pitt role) and a dashing, age-appropriate trucker (Tom Skerritt) along the way. The women have adventures, bicker and crack wise. “This thing doesn’t even have air bags,” Carol’s husband (Tom Wopat) complains. “Sure it does. Three of `em,” Arvilla cracks back, after she and her two pals take their seats. There are good clean Mormon jokes, conventional movie encounters with Vegas slot machines (they always pay off in the movies) and old-fashioned celebrations of “Magic Fingers” motel beds. The movie wears a kind of ever-present grin, even if it never breaks a sweat. Lange narrates, intermittently. And three actors who know how to play funny and sweet and sad banter away in that absurdly over-sized tribute to 1960s auto excess. Allen’s shtick is the funniest. She’s sweetly judgmental of her old friends. She and Margene may go to the same church, but the randy widow’s worldly worldview freaks Carol out. “What kind of Mormon are you?” Carol “accidentally” downs the first cocktail to pass her way in a Vegas casino. “Oh my heck. I think I just drank vodka!” Wonder how she knew? Bonneville is pleasant enough, in that undemanding Bucket List sort of way. It’s a pity this odyssey is as pre-ordained as an Auto Club TripTik. Still, the actors make us happy to be along for the ride. Reviewed by Roger Moore
By Carrie Rickey
VANTAGE POINT M (mature themes, violence, profanity) 90 minutes A white-knuckle thriller set in Salamanca, Spain, in which an assassination attempt on the U.S. president is viewed from different perspectives. With William Hurt as the president, Sigourney Weaver as a news producer, Forest Whitaker as an American tourist with a camcorder, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox as Secret Servicemen and Eduardo Noriega as a Spanish policeman.
FOOL’S GOLD M (crude humor, action violence, discreet nudity, sexual candor) 113 minutes Perennially shirtless Matthew McConaughey and untypically mirthless Kate Hudson as a couple whose marriage is in the doldrums and who get back on course when he finds traces of a long-buried treasure. If this were a treasure chest, its contents would be dross.
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL M (mature themes, sexual content, sexual violence, violence) 115 minutes Natalie Portman as high-maintenance Anne Boleyn and Scarlet Johansson as her easygoing sister, Mary, compete for the attentions of Henry VIII (Eric Bana) act up a storm in this Tudor-era “Mean Girls.” From the historical fiction by Philippa Gregory.
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see life / dvds Elizabeth: The Golden Age Starring: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish Directed by: Shekhar Kapur Rated: M, contains violence 114 minutes
David & Goliath When kiwi businessman David Henderson went head to head with the IRD, it made for a heck of a good movie, reports Ian Wishart We’re Here To Help Starring: Erik Thomson, Miriama Smith, Michael Hurst, Jason Hoyte, John Leigh Directed by: Jonothan Cullinane Rated: PG, contains coarse language 85 mins From its vaguely Pink Panther-esque opening titles based very innovatively on a tax return form, We’re Here To Help promises to deliver, and keeps its promise. The movie tracks the true story of Christchurch businessman David Henderson, whose company had filed an application for a sizeable GST refund on a deal gone wrong. Henderson’s girlfriend (played by Dancing starlet Miriama Smith) took the files into the IRD and was the butt of sexually suggestive statements by a tax official. When Henderson burst in to defend his partner’s honour, it started a war with the IRD that lasted eight years, saw him audited 27 times and bankrupted over a fake $900,000 IRD bill. With the assistance of Act MP Rodney Hide Henderson eventually prevailed, forcing the tax department to hand him a refund cheque for $61,000. The movie is both a tragically satirical commentary on IRD bureaucracy in the 1990s (when the IRD was taking a pounding over its failure to investigate the Winebox deals), and also an inspiring story on how to slay giants. In Henderson’s case, taping every single conversation he had with the IRD was the key. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. At times, hilarious. At other moments deeply disturbing. Reviewed by Ian Wishart 96 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM April 2008
Queen Elizabeth dons her armor, rallies the troops and brooks no insult from those fanatical papists, the Spanish, in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the red-blooded sequel to the more romantic Elizabeth (1998). There are more dalliances, more palace intrigues and more threats to the crown. But by this time, the overmatched girl has grown into a lady made of iron, or at least clad in it, as she thumbs her nose at those who send their Armada her way and the film thumbs its nose at history. And Cate Blanchett has grown from a thin, pale, girlish unknown into a formidable screen presence, one not unlike the lady she won her Oscar portraying, Katharine Hepburn. Golden Age is a movie set in a parallel period in Elizabeth’s life to the one depicted in Elizabeth. There is another who would be queen, Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton, terrific). There is another would-be lover that the Virgin Queen can’t let herself have, Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen, also splendid). And England is still Protestant, a half-Catholic island nation holding out against a Spanish King Phillip II who considers her damned, or worse, and would have her head. Spanish actor Jordi Molla’s interpretation of the Spanish king is one of the perverse delights of The Golden Age. His Phillip is a mincing, chicken-legged Catholic fanatic who schemes, sends another Jesuit assassin to foment revolt (Rhys Ifans, in viperous form) and builds his Armada to invade England and end the reign of this flinty “usurper.” Fortunately, she still has her trusted fixer, Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), who lets no act of treachery go un-tortured. And now she has the dashing rake, Raleigh, a pirate and opportunist who flatters her with his courage, his bluntness and his way with Spanish gold. Raleigh has eyes not just for the shiny stuff. There’s also Bess (Abbie Cornish), the beloved lady in waiting to the Queen. Elizabeth, still teasing out possible alliances with unsuitable royal suitors, lives vicariously through Bess. Director Shekhar Kapur never was able to follow the success of his 1998 Elizabeth with anything of the like, and frankly, he muddles the whole Armada confrontation here. He’s simply not up to “epic,” especially when it comes to sea battles. And his screenwriter so gilds Raleigh’s war record as to make Sir Walter blush. But he still has Blanchett, and by thunder, that’s more than enough. She rides a horse well, looks fab in shiny and has the aloof, worldly flirting down cold. In one scene with Raleigh, she turns, in a brilliant flash, from coquette to absolute monarch, from passive to bullying in a mere setting of the jaw and deepening of the voice. She’s so perfect in the part that you almost don’t mind the abrupt ending to this Golden Age. Because that means there could yet be a third Elizabeth, perhaps one that introduces her to that young romantic, Shakespeare. Maybe by then she’ll look like Dame Judy Dench. Reviewed by Roger Moore