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INVESTIGATE February 2010:
S A t om op cli e ma In te sci co en n tis v te e xp n lai ie ns the nt co T n ru th s
the clink meron Slater risks
Ca s ope es H am Delhi? ’s G ady for NZ be re
l we Wil
Pushing Marijuana • An Inconvenient Scientist • Haiti’s Black Money Hole
The billionaire trying to manipulate NZ’s new drug policy
Where Does Aid Go? Haiti’s missing billions
$8.30 February 2010
Denzel Washington Issue 109
Talks about his apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli
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INVESTIGATEdigital This is the Adobe Flash edition of Investigate magazine. To zoom in, simply click the mouse on the page, then use the mouse to move the page. Whilst back issues will appear publicly online after they’ve gone off sale at the newsstands, you can purchase a premium digital subscription and get a link to the latest editions as they’re published. If you prefer, you can also purchase a fully functional PDF of the magazine to save to your disk – putting the text of the entire issue at your fingertips. For all these options and more, visit our webstore: http://www.tgifedition.com For access to our news feeds, story archives and blogs, visit our main site: http://www.investigatemagazine.com In the meantime, enjoy, and feel free to share this edition with friends and colleagues.
CONTENTS Volume 10, Issue 109, ISSN 1175-1290
F EATURES The Push To Sell Dope
Most of us are too busy to be aware of all the little agendas at play behind the scenes, but quiet moves to heavily liberalise NZ’s drug laws appear to be driven by billionaire George Soros. IAN WISHART backgrounds the leadup to this month’s release of a major drug policy discussion document
The Climate Con
Haiti’s Missing Aid Cash
Latest polls show the public starting to wise up about the unsettled science behind claims of global warming. Now, top Australian climate scientist WILLIAM KININMONTH reveals how his colleagues misled you
It’s the poorest country in the western hemisphere, scene of devastating hurricanes, rampant HIV rates, and some of the worst poverty you’ll see. Yet despite recieving billions in Western aid over the years, Haiti has nothing to show for it. SCOTT HIAASEN asks whether Haiti will blow its chance at a brand new start this time around
The New Slavers
The Coming China Crisis
Would you believe it if we told you there are more human slaves in captivity today, than during the whole 300 year history of slave trading combined? PETER CURSON has this disturbing story
A leading financial expert is picking China’s boom has come to an end, and has a headsup for the West. CHRIS OLIVER reports
EDITORIAL & OPINION
Focal Point Editorial
Vox-Populi The roar of the crowd
Miranda Devine on Avatar
Mark Steyn ‘We’re still gonna kill you’
John Costella on Climategate
Richard Prosser on frozen food
Chris Carter saves a Whale
Matt Flannagan on judging others
Amy Brooke’s poem of the month Peter Hensley on LAQCs
Amy Brooke on Christmas yobbos
Why did the big one hit Haiti?
Windows 7, PaperPort 12
Chris Forster on the Commonwealth games
Claire Francis on ‘nootropics’
FDA moves on BPA
In search of Santa
James Morrow on Beef Wellington Michael Morrissey’s summer reads
Chris Philpott’s CD reviews
Invictus a must-see
Cutting Room Denzel Washington in Book of Eli
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart | Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart | NZ EDITION Advertising Fuller Media, Richa Fuller, 09 522 7062, email@example.com | 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 Francis, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom | Art Direction Heidi Wishart | Design & Layout Bozidar Jokanovic | Tel: +64 9 373 3676 | Fax: +64 9 373 3667 | Investigate Magazine PO Box 188, Kaukapakapa Auckland 0843, NEW ZEALAND | AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor Ian Wishart | Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org | 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: $85; AU Edition: A$96 EMAIL: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com 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
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Come in Rajendra, your 15 minutes is up IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE A MORE EMBARRASSING
error for the UN IPCC and its climate change minions, than the one that broke into the mainstream media this month: the Himalayan glaciers won’t be melted by 2035 after all. UN IPCC boss Rajendra Pachauri, whose private business interests were negotiating a lucrative multi-million dollar contract to “study” Himalayan melt, ironically, lashed out and described as “voodoo science” claims by Indian glaciologists that the Himalayas were not showing excessive melt because of global warming, and would not be gone by 2035. Perhaps Pachauri sensed that backtracking on Himalayan melt might hurt the financial interests of the organization that pays his wages, we don’t know, but we do know that Pachauri is having to eat humble pie by the truckload after an admission that the science underpinning the mighty IPCC reports on glacier melt was not peer reviewed, it was guesswork. Yes, after all the huffing and puffing about having thousands of independent reviewers and how the world’s governments could trust the IPCC reports, we now find the claim about Himalayan glaciers came from a little known Indian scientist shooting the breeze with a journalist back in 1999. That journalist, writing for that hotbed of global warming panic, New Scientist magazine, published the “pure speculation”, which was then picked up by the World Wildlife Fund and incorporated into a report in 2005. The UN IPCC, looking for “peer reviewed science” with which to scare the public, saw the pamphlet from the wildlife charity and thought, “that’ll do, we’ll plonk that in”, and suddenly an unfounded and utterly wrong guess became “settled science” for Al Gore and his cronies. Now, the scientist who shot the breeze
admits he was just shooting his mouth off back in 1999 and had no evidence. New Scientist has admitted it didn’t bother factchecking the claim and has publicly retracted the error this month. World Wildlife Fund has just issued a statement apologizing for not fact checking either, and correcting the error on its websites worldwide. Faced with the collapse of its evidence, the UN IPCC has no option but to retract the “glaciers are melting” claim in a huge backdown. It couldn’t come at a worse time for Pachauri. Hard on the heels of news reports about how the policies he is pushing for
And now we have Glaciergate, where the UN IPCC published false information about melting glaciers, refused to listen when scientists told them it was a load of old cobblers, and then lashed out when it looked like the story might threaten the business interests of Pachauri’s associates. Sorry Rajendra, it’s time to quit. You have no dignity left, and no reputation left. This happened on your watch. It stinks. And to all my media colleagues who have faithfully swallowed everything the IPCC told them: maybe now you’ll wake up and realize how much this crowd lies to you, every day.
Pachauri is having to eat humble pie by the truckload after an admission that the science underpinning the mighty IPCC reports on glacier melt was not peer reviewed, it was guesswork as IPCC chairman are coincidentally benefitting companies he is associated with to the tune of millions and millions of dollars, this revelation that his team didn’t do peer reviewed science after all should be the nail in the coffin of Pachauri’s term at the IPCC. We’ve seen Climategate and the proof that IPCC scientists lied and fudged climate data to hide the truth from the public. We’ve seen proof that they bullied and extorted to prevent other scientists publishing studies that contradicted global warming theory, then had the nerve to boast that no rival studies had been published so “the skeptics obviously don’t have any evidence”.
6 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
With trillions of dollars and the entire world economy at stake, the public deserve total accuracy, not corrupt science, from the IPCC and its team.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 7
Communiques The roar of the crowd
The right to debate
In his December article “Down Syndrome, Search and Destroy,” Mr. Ken Orr makes a crucial mistake which is prevalent amongst discussions on Right to Life. He speaks to the “right to life” of an embryo/fetus, yet has no consideration for the right to life of the adults whose own preferences he ignores and whose lives will be impacted by the birth of a full-term Down-syndrome baby. He is ready to impose a life-time sentence on the parents and family of an incapacitated baby, and also dictate a financial and societal burden on every tax-paying adult who is to be enslaved by the cost of providing “services necessary to assist…for the special needs of their child.” In Mr. Orr’s world, rights apply to a malformed fetus, but not to adults who must earn their lives in the daily struggle to achieve their own values. It is understandable (although unjustified and misapplied) to want to invoke feelings of sympathy for a defenseless embryo, but in considering the concept of rights and the crucial application of it to human life, one must recognize that life requires, as the primary, the defense of the those rights belonging to the adult who must think and act to support of his own well-being. To force the support of a Down syndrome fetus on the unwilling, is to negate the concept of “right to life.” The “right to life” requires clarification. Rights belong to human beings. The “right to life” is derived from the metaphysical nature of the world, and the epistemological nature of the human being; that is: a) man is mortal b) man has a certain nature and must behave in a certain manner in order to sustain his life c) “right to life” means retaining the freedom to take the necessary actions to sustain one’s life d) [Freedom from physical compulsion,
coercion or interference by other men. – Ayn Rand “Man’s Rights” – The Virtue of Selfishness]. Rights belong to human beings, and have as the standard a fully functioning adult equipped to act independently and self-sufficiently. This fact is acknowledged in law by the limitations to actions placed on, for instance, children (minors), people who are legally deemed incapacitated through medical, psychological and/or age-related illnesses, and various other instances and circumstances where full human function is not possible, be it on a temporary or permanent basis. Because man is mortal he must make decisions and take actions that do not kill him; because he has a certain nature, he must learn about the world and himself; because he must understand his world he must have the freedom to act and learn. Because man is mortal and because he must be free to act and learn, his right to life must be protected in a social environment thus enabling all men equal access to the freedom of action. This social protection is circumscribed in the branch of philosophy, namely, Politics, and leads to the institution of a government whose purpose it is to protect the freedom of individuals so they can interact through voluntary association without encroaching on the rights of others to exist and live. A fetus within the womb of a woman is totally dependent upon another entity to sustain it – it is not independent. An embryo, a developing fetus up to the time of birth, is not a fully functioning human and nor can it sustain itself without the aid of adults for several years even after birth. The concept of “the right to life” does not apply to a fetus, let alone a malformed fetus that does not have the potential of becoming a fully independent adult human. And after birth, the concept of rights does not apply in full until the age of emancipation.
8 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
Mr Orr is wrong when he purports, “human life begins at conception…” and that at that point therefore has all the rights proscribed to a fully functioning adult. An adult with Down syndrome, would not enjoy full rights even as an adult, but would still be subject to the authority of someone, or an institute, who can exercise rights on their behalf. Conception is simply the potential for an independent being. We could as well say that life begins with the sperm, and/or the egg, being that these components also hold the potential to result in an independent human being at some time and under appropriate conditions. We could thus also say that every biological component of life holds the potential to result in an independent being, ad infinitum ad absurdum, which is where the logic of Mr Orr’s argument must necessarily arrive. Note also the terms that Mr Orr utilizes in order to make his misguided case. One can hardly call a fetus a “child,” yet that is the word Mr Orr chooses, in order to manoeuvre the reader into accepting certain characteristics that belong to a child that cannot belong to a fetus (eg: independent mobility – to name one). With that, what would be perfectly rational action by concerned would-be parents to terminate a malformed fetus is projected as barbarism against an actual independent child. Of course Mr Orr knows this which is why he enlists the aid of all the guilt and horror an act of murder would rightly attract. However, just as masturbation is not an act of murder, neither is terminating a fetus. Then Mr Orr throws out a wildcard in the form of eugenics, which is irrelevant to the general discussion on the right to life and which may or may not influence a man and women as they determine whether they will procreate or not. The values and beliefs of the couple are nobody’s business but theirs, certainly not the business of politicians, nor Mr Orr. Which is another reason why the
option to terminate a pregnancy should be out of the reach of coercion by third parties. This then brings us to the point in Mr Orr’s letter where he wishes the government to not provide services whereby a couple may access all the information relevant to the health of the pregnancy. If we must accommodate government intervention in health issues, surely the provision to promote accurate and timely information to citizens would be a primary and desirable requirement. Mr Orr’s conclusion that this service must necessarily result in the social conditioning or duty to act in only one possible way, is to discount entirely the intelligence and private concerns of people seeking to make the right choices for their own lives. A government policy to provide information is a long way from a government policy that dictates who or what would be a useful and productive member of society. Admittedly that perverted view can unfortunately become government policy – witness Nazi Germany – which only goes to underscore why the decision whether or not to bring a Down syndrome pregnancy to term is the province of the couple alone,. Only they can best determine their own financial, emotional and family resources, and the value that a Down syndrome baby may or may not bring to their family. For Mr Orr to categorically state that a Down syndrome pregnancy and birthed baby should be the responsibility of every adult, through government resources (taxes, administrators, compassion???) is to deny the right to life of every adult affected. A functioning adult’s right to life necessitates the right to use his own mind to make decisions, and also incorporates the right to protect himself from insupportable burdens. This is the individual’s responsibility. And, yes, exercising his right, requires discrimination (thinking), benefiting positively from the quality of information. In Mr Orr’s world, a fetus has the right to exist because it can’t, and an adult does not have the right to exist because he can. In Mr Orr’s world, he can dictate to you what you will do and pay for, but won’t allow you to determine that for yourself. Mr Orr claims the moral high ground for saving a malformed fetus at the cost of ignoring the parents and enslaving everyone. Judith Hill, via email
What a great expose’ of “Climategate” in the January issue of Investigate. Surely the mainstream media will soon pick up on this ETS
scam here in NZ, when it starts to hit the back pockets of the taxpayers during 2010. As I see it, the plot so far runs something like this. ‘Chicken Little’ of sky is falling fame (Warming alarmists), has somehow managed to panic the Farmers (Governments), into imposing a tax (ETS) on the farm animals farting (citizens emissions), to pay for ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ (something non existent) and to pay for the construction of the ‘Tower of Babel’ (a corporate structure to nowhere), so they can pretend to play God (human climate control). I think the final line to the plot will be delivered by the main actor (Nature), ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’. I can only imagine the finger pointing, gnashing of teeth and wailing as the planet naturally cools again and the huge political and scientific ego’s all try to fit through the exit door at the same time. Keep up the good work Investigate, I’m a new subscriber. John Mack, Timaru
They’re reading it in OZ
Congratulations on an excellent book. I am promoting it to all my contacts, and the media up here in Queensland. You may be interested to know that I flew over Kilimanjaro in Sep ‘04 and was horrified about how little snow there was (I grew up in Kenya). I flew over it again in Feb of this year and was gratified to see that the snow is back. As you say, precipitation. Rob Ryan, Atherton, QLD
They’re reading it in London
I’m glad I’ve found someone who, like me thinks that anthropological global warming is all a big con. The problem is though, that now that I’m reading your book Air Con, I’m even more frustrated by the deceit of our government. How do we fight the scandalous propaganda that is regularly spouted? Emma Hurd on Sky was the latest last night :-( Do you have any plans to make a documentary of your book? Is there anything I can do (other than get others to purchase your book too) to help counter the lie. Eric Hall ( just an average bloke), UK
They’re reading it in snowdrifts
Happy Christmas from a freezing England and just to say I was most impressed by your book with which I am in total agreement.
10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
However, I would like to get more involved in campaigning for climate change realism, and am finding it hard to make contact with organisations pursuing this cause. I have emailed the organisation you suggested in Air Con, climatescienceinternational.org several times but apart from an initial acknowledgement asking where I was from, they have never got back to me, so that doesn’t seem very likely. If you can point me towards any others I shall be grateful. Peter Arnold, UK
Try emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “subscribe CCNet News” in the subject line. It’s a free email alert with a wrap-up of climate change news each day by Benny Peiser, who’s just set up a British lobby group with Nigel Lawson.
The education debate
It is fortuitous, to say the least, especially for parents whose children are having difficulty learning to read at the tender age of five, that amidst the perpetual experimentation and angst that has always characterised education, the research of Doctor Sebastian Suggate of Otago University is now in the public forum. Educational professionals who see education as a purely intellectual process and even many idealists who understand that changing oneself is the only way to “change the world”, appear to unthinkingly accept the dogma that the earlier a child can be snapped out of the precious world of childhood and led into “reality” and intellectualism the better. Now at last we have some real evidence that this is not necessarily the case, and the question arises – “what other incipient human qualities are compromised by prematurely awakening the intellectual faculty by means of precocious reading”? The world does not lack intelligence – it lacks imagination, inspiration, a sense for truth and goodness, all inherent human qualities which in later life, (if not crushed in childhood), mature into free-thinking, morality, and compassion. A child is not just a miniature adult. He lives in a magical world which most adults have long forgotten and it is his birthright to remain there for the appropriate “season”. Nor is it anything but a presumption to believe that a child is a blank slate or an empty vessel to be filled with “facts”. Those who are genuinely drawn to the vocation of teaching will have probably
we protect your digital worlds
have a sense for the truth of such things and will give Dr Suggate’s findings all due consideration. Colin Rawle, Dunedin
Emanating from the latest issue of your magazine (January 2010) is a recapitulation of the various ways in which our politicians and their lackey bureaucrats ignore the wishes of the people. Trying the traditional peaceful ways to change or amend policies – submissions, complaints, reasoned argument or referendum – appear to be a waste of time. The politicians continue to take the country down roads we do not wish to go – the bureaucrats continue with their idiot schemes and demands safely insulated from the stress, chaos and failure these may lead to. So what are we to do? We know what the problems are both from the contributors to Investigate Magazine and from our own day to day experiences. We did send a PC left wing government on its way but its counterbalance has yet to emerge. I have the strong impression that John Key is confident that he can continue doing what he is doing because he assumes that because we don’t want a return to Labour he has a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to go. I believe that our best option would be to adopt some elements of the Swiss political system where the power of central government is confined, where more decisions are made at the local level and where the citizens have the power of veto over unpopular and unmandated legislation. Of course those in power are not willingly going to give it up. Nothing will be done unless there is a groundswell which removes them from office. I maintain that at present we have a flawed democracy and, if I had a wish for 2010, it would be that the citizens engage in a peaceful revolution and establish a real democracy. Denis McCarthy, Invercargill
A note to wish you and yours good health, peace and happiness in 2010. Be assured that Isabella remains in my thoughts and prayers for complete recovery of her damaged right finger. Many thanks for the consistently informative and interesting content on your web site and, additionally, in Investigate magazine. I have the latest issue and it is, as usual, excellent reading. Kathie Weller, via email
Thanks Kathie, and to everyone else who has inquired here’s the back story (Isabella is doing really well as of today): For those of you who weren’t aware, last Friday (18 Dec) our three year old daughter Isabella’s middle finger on her right hand was amputated down to the first joint, in an accident at her daycare centre (see the editorial in TGIF). It’s one of the reasons I’ve been quieter this week as we deal with the medical dramas associated with the trauma. Sadly, it wasn’t a clean amputation. Isabella had climbed onto the middle of a plank being used as a makeshift see-saw across a metal rail acting as the pivot point. At the same time as she gripped the board, a bunch of other kids, two at each end according to the staff, raced for the seats on the plank, and as the board swayed under their weight it crushed, shredded and then amputated the finger. In the words of Middlemore Hospital, NZ’s best plastic surgery unit, the wound was “disgusting”, so much so that the senior ED doctor made a judgement call on her own that the finger stood no chance of reattachment and therefore no priority was given my daughter for a plastics assessment when she arrived. The ED didn’t inform us of its decision until three hours after we arrived in the ambulance. Needless to say there was some fairly heavy foot-stamping going on from my part at this point, and at 4pm Isabella was finally seen for the first time by a plastic surgeon, more than four hours after the accident. She informed us that it wasn’t ED’s call, but nonetheless there was little chance of a successful reattachment. She took the fingertip upstairs to a senior surgical consultant and gave us three options: amputate finger cleanly (hospital’s preferred option), sew the stump of the finger to the groin in the hope of growing flesh back around the bone that might later be moulded into what looked like a finger, sans nail, or reattach the finger and essentially pray for a miracle. There was never a question. We took the reattachment option. “The likelihood of this surgery succeeding is almost impossible as her finger is too badly damaged,” the senior surgeon later told us just as Isabella was wheeled in to theatre, “but we’ll give it our best shot because you’ve asked us to do this option.” While the surgeons worked, we and others prayed hard for the miracle the hospital kept telling us we were not likely to get. This week, on the eve of Christmas Eve, those prayers were answered. The dressing was
12 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
changed, and the fingertip was alive and thriving. The surgeons believe there’s now an excellent chance Isabella’s finger will survive intact, albeit as part of a long healing process. I saw the reattached finger myself, and couldn’t believe it. A baby in a manger 2000 odd years ago has delivered us, via the hands of skilled but doubting surgeons, a Christmas miracle for our baby who’d been mangled. She won’t have a comfortable Christmas – the wound, the drugs and the confined to barracks, no swimming, not much playing – will see to that. We are mindful that others have far less this Christmas, and our hearts go out to you. For all those who sent prayers and good wishes, our thanks. For us, the spirit of Christmas has a truly different depth this year.
Is it poetry? Then send submissions to Poetry Editor Amy Brooke: email@example.com
The Gulls With singleness of soul they glide, Brazen, uninvited visitants On outstretched pinions, in wide Descending spiral arcs, avidity of eye Their mutual affinity on high, Unslaked hollow hunger behind The calculating coldness of each mind. Serenely and silently they near, Sudden arrivals from nowhere Scavenging minions from nowhere appear, Each brassy look, each defiant glare A latent challenge borne on air, Curving on eddies unseen, they rise And fall on every proffered prize. In oneness of purpose they dive Shrieking the tantrums of unsated children, A squabbling vociferous band, alive with menace, in singular advance or pack, In strutting silence or attack, Each squatter’s singular boldness brings A clamorous cloud, a hellion pack on wings. Ron Kaye
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Whalek oil Saving Slater risks the clin
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Pushing Marijuana • An Inconvenient Scientist • Haiti’s Black Money Hole
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Where Does Aid Go? Haiti’s missing billions
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Talks about his apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli
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Miranda Devine Hit by a leftie sledgehammer SINCE HOLIDAY MOVIE-GOING IS ONE OF LIFE’S GREAT
pleasures, it’s tempting not to put a dampener on Avatar, the sci-fi 3D semi-animated blockbuster that’s raking it in at the box office. After all, the creativity of the director, James Cameron, inventing a lush new planet peopled by hauntingly beautiful blue aliens can only be admired. But, for all its technological brilliance and the talent that went into the creation of Pandora and the Na’vi characters, the movie ruins itself with Cameron’s sanctimonious hippie sensibility. It is impossible to watch Avatar without being banged over the head with the director’s ideological hammer. About the time the baddest bad guy – a US marine, of course – launches an unconscionable attack on the Na’vi with the words “Shock and awe”, “pre-emptive war” and “fighting terror with terror”, you realise you’ve been had. The snarling vipers of leftwing Hollywood have been let off the leash in a way previously unmatched in a highpriced blockbuster. In fact Avatar is reputed to be the most expensive movie ever made, with a budget of $US500 million. Cameron has a simple formula: Humans bad. Planet (Gaia) good. Noble savages good. Flaky pagan worship good. America bad. American military very bad. Capitalism bad. Mining bad. Raping planet. The only good soldier is a traitor. Try as you might, by the second half of the movie, having sucked you in with its rich visuals and the sweetness of the disabled US marine Jake Sully (played by the Australian Sam Worthington), it’s impossible to ignore the heavy-handed jibes. One gleeful Hollywood blogger sums up by say-
ing the conservative pro-life US politician Sarah Palin would hate the movie “because Avatar hates her and her kind”. Cameron proudly declares Avatar is some sort of allegory for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the capitalist, imperialist Christian West the villain. He portrays the US soldiers who arrive on Pandora in the service of some multinational corporation as moronic, sadistic and determined to wipe out the peace-loving, nature-worshipping natives just so they can mine the valuable substance under their home. “We know what it feels like to launch the missiles,” Cameron told The Times. “We don’t know what it feels like for them to
of a female helicopter pilot who switches sides during the battle, the Na’vi’s puny bows and arrows manage to foil the superior firepower of the arrogant humans. They also get a little help from the goddess-spirit of Pandora. The blissful irony, I am not the first to point out, is that Cameron has used the most advanced technology known to man to create an anti-technology movie about how much better are the ways of the noble savage. He also lets his Na’vi run rampant around Pandora, raping fauna with their ponytails before subjugating them. The flying dinosaurs seem particularly unimpressed at being leapt on and plugged into the Na’vi braid.
It’s extraordinary that, while American soldiers are dying in dangerous wars on foreign soil, a mainstream movie would show such cartoonish contempt for them land on our home soil, not in America. I think there’s a moral responsibility to understand that.” A self -described “child of the ‘60s” the Canadian-born director claims he is “opening” American eyes. (Spoiler warning: plot revealed next.) The triumph at the end of the movie occurs when the Na’vi slaughter the Americans, shooting down their helicopters and gunships. It’s extraordinary that, while American soldiers are dying in dangerous wars on foreign soil, a mainstream movie would show such cartoonish contempt for them. Under Jake’s leadership, and with the help
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A minority of critics have dubbed the movie “Dances with Wolves in space”, “cynical and deeply unpatriotic propaganda”. That’s not to deny Avatar’s success. Its nature worship theme mines a rich vein. In a world suffering eco-fatigue, in which advertising clever dicks have pronounced blue the new green, Cameron has judged the zeitgeist well. We all like to be Zen with the world. And Cameron has tapped into the religious impulse hardwired in his audience in the same way airport bookshops abound with New Age bestsellers such as The Secret. But he defeats the purpose by indulging in the rancid partisanship that character-
ised the anti-Bush/anti-Howard left of the last decade. The pity is Avatar’s in-your-face preaching only serves to annoy people, who will soon shrug off Cameron’s accomplishments and forget whatever it was he was trying to say. By contrast, District 9, a comparatively low budget ($US30 million) movie produced by The Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson, which explores similar themes, haunts the viewer. Aliens arrive in Johannesburg, are locked in camps and are treated appallingly. The movie plumbs the worst of human behaviour, of xenophobia and ignorance, without being unrealistically misanthropic. Avatar takes glee in the destruction of the humans on Pandora and an I-told-you-so smugness in the humans’ “dying world” back
home. “They have killed their mother.” Thankfully movies with more humanaffirming themes increasingly are being made, from Juno, Knocked Up and The Blind Side to the young Sydney filmmaker Claire McCarthy’s upcoming The Waiting City, about a couple waiting in India to take delivery of their adopted child. These stories you will remember long after Avatar has faded to blue. Incidentally, for all the hype about Avatar’s global box office domination, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel managed to knock Avatar off the top spot in Britain after only one week. And that’s without the inflated ticket price charged for 3D glasses. At least, on one non-blue note to take home for the new year, what the success of
Audiences watch the 3D film Avatar through 3D glasses at a cinema in Taiyuan, Shanxi province of China. ( Hu Yuanjia/ChinaFotoPress)
Avatar and the Chipmunks proves is that movies are far from dead. One of the main reasons we keep going to movies is that it’s a communal experience. Rather than watching some pirated download on your home theatre, you can share the experience with hundreds of strangers, part of one big symbiotic system, even though we’re not plugging our ponytails into the seats just yet. email@example.com
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Mark Steyn We’re still gonna kill you NOT LONG AFTER THE AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI
announced his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the British novelist suddenly turned up on a Muslim radio station in West London late one night and told his interviewer he’d converted to Islam. Marvelous religion, couldn’t be happier, Allahu Akbar and all that. And the Ayatollah said hey, that’s terrific news, glad to hear it. But we’re still gonna kill you. Well, even a leftie novelist wises up under those circumstances. Evidently, the president of the United States takes a little longer. Barack Obama has spent the last year doing bigtime Islamoschmoozing, from his announcement of Gitmo’s closure and his investigation of Bush officials to his bow before the Saudi King and a speech in Cairo to “the Muslim world” with far too many rhetorical concessions and equivocations. And at the end of it, the jihad sent America a thank-you note by way of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s underwear: Hey, thanks for all the outreach! But we’re still gonna kill you. According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world’s superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can’t blame the world’s mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion. For two weeks, the government of the United States has made itself a global laughingstock. Don’t worry, “the system worked,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Incompetano. Don’t worry, he was an “isolated extremist,” said the president. Don’t
worry, we’re banning bathroom breaks for the last hour of the flight, said the TSA. Don’t worry, “U.S. border-security officials” told the Los Angeles Times, we knew he was on the plane and we “had decided to question him when he landed.” Don’t worry, Obama’s chief counterterrorism John Brennan assured the Sunday talk shows, sure, we read him his rights and he’s lawyered up but he’ll soon see that “there is advantage to talking to us in terms of plea agreements.” Oh, that’s grand. Try to kill hundreds of people in an act of war and it’s the starting point for a plea deal. In his Cairo speech, the president bragged that the United States would “punish” those in America who would
who’d accused the commander-in-chief of failing to grasp this basic point. Again, to be fair, it isn’t just Obama. Last November, the electorate voted in effect to repudiate the previous eight years and seemed genuinely under the delusion that wars end when one side decides it’s all a bit of a bore and they’d rather the government spend the next eight years doing to health care and the economy what they were previously doing to jihadist camps in Waziristan. On the other hand, if we are now at war, as Obama belatedly concedes, against whom are we warring? “We are at war against alQaeda,” says the president. Really? But what does that mean? Was the previous month’s “isolated extremist”
You can’t win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners. All you can do is lose slowly “deny” the “right of women and girls to wear the hijab.” If he’s so keen on it, maybe he should consider putting the entire federal government into full-body burkas and zipping up the eye slit so that henceforth every public utterance by John Brennan will be entirely inaudible. Americans should be ashamed by this all-fools’ fortnight. On Thursday, having renounced over the preceding days “the system worked,” the “isolated extremist,” the more obviously risible TSA responses, the Gitmo-Yemen express checkout, and various other follies, the president finally spoke the words: “We are at war.” As National Review’s Rich Lowry noted, they were more or less dragged from the presidential gullet by Dick Cheney,
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– the Fort Hood killer – part of al-Qaeda? When it came to spiritual advice, he turned to the same Yemeni-based American-born imam as the Pantybomber, but he didn’t have a fully paid-up membership card. Nor did young Umar Farouk, come to that. Granted the general over-credentialization of American life, the notion that it doesn’t count as terrorism unless you’re a member of Local #437 of the Amalgamated Union of Isolated Extremists seems perverse and reductive. What did the Pantybomber have a membership card in? Well, he was president of the Islamic Society of University College, London. Kafeel Ahmed, who died after driving a burning jeep into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, had been
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a bomb attached to his body on Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25. He was overpowered by passengers and crew before setting off the explosive device. UPI/U.S. Marshals
president of the Islamic Society of Queen’s University, Belfast. Yassin Nassari, serving three years in jail for terrorism, was president of the Islamic Society of the University of Westminster. Waheed Arafat Khan, arrested in the 2006 Heathrow terror plots that led to Americans having to put their liquids and gels in those little plastic bags, was president of the Islamic Society of London Metropolitan University.
Doesn’t this sound like a bigger problem than “al-Qaeda” – whatever that is? The president has now put citizens of Nigeria on the secondary-screening list. Which is tough on Nigerian Christians, who have no desire to blow up your flight to Detroit. Aside from the highly localized Tamil terrorism of India and Sri Lanka, suicide bombing is a phenomenon entirely of Islam. The broader psychosis that manifested itself only
the other day in an axe murderer breaking into a Danish cartoonist’s home to kill him because he objects to his cartoon is likewise a phenomenon of Islam. This is not to say (to go wearily through the motions) that all Muslims are potential suicide bombers and axe murderers, but it is to state the obvious – that this “war” is about the intersection of Islam and the West, and its warriors are recruited in the large pool of young Muslim manpower, not in Yemen and Afghanistan so much as in Copenhagen and London. But the president of the United States cannot say that because he is over-invested in a fantasy – that, if only that Texan moron Bush had read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his Miranda rights and bowed as low as he did to the Saudi king, we wouldn’t have all these problems. So now Obama says, “We are at war.” But he cannot articulate any war aims or strategy because they would conflict with his illusions. And so we will stagger on, playing defense, pulling more and more items out of our luggage – tweezers, shoes, shampoo, snowglobes, suppositories – and reacting to every new provocation with greater impositions upon the citizenry. You can’t win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners. All you can do is lose slowly. After all, if you can’t even address what you’re up against with any honesty, you can’t blame the other side for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions about your faintheartedness in taking them on. After that cringe-making radio interview, Salman Rushdie subsequently told the Times of London that trying to appease his wouldbe killers and calling for his own book to be withdrawn was the biggest mistake of his life. If only the president of the United States were such a quick study. © 2010 Mark Steyn
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John P. Costella
Why Climategate is so distressing to scientists THE MOST DIFFICULT THING FOR A SCIENTIST IN THE
era of Climategate is trying to explain to family and friends why it is so distressing to scientists. Most people don’t know how science really works: there are no popular television shows, movies, or books that really depict the everyday lives of real scientists; it just isn’t exciting enough. I’m not talking here about the major discoveries of science – which are well-described in documentaries, popular science series, and magazines – but rather how the process of science (often called the “scientific method”) actually works. The best analogy that I have been able to come up with, in recent weeks, is the criminal justice system – which is (rightly or wrongly) abundantly depicted in the popular media. Everyone knows what happens if police obtain evidence by illegal means: the evidence is ruled inadmissible; and, if a case rests on that tainted evidence, it is thrown out of court. The justice system is not saying that the accused is necessarily innocent; rather, that determining the truth is impossible if evidence is not protected from tampering or fabrication. The same is true in science: scientists assume that the rules of the scientific method have been followed, at least in any discipline that publishes its results for public consumption. It is that trust in the process that allows me, for example, to believe that the human genome has been mapped – despite my knowing nothing about that field of science at all. That same trust has allowed scientists at large to similarly believe in the results of climate science. Until now. So what are the “rules” of the scientific method? Actually, they are not all that different from those of the justice system. Just as it is a fundamental right of every affected party to be heard and fairly considered by the court, it is of crucial importance to science
that all points of view be given a chance to be heard, and fairly debated. But, of course, it would be impossible to allow an “open slather” type of arrangement, like discussion forums on the Internet; so how do we admit all points of view, without descending into anarchy? This question touches on something of a dark secret within science – one which most scientists, through the need for self-preservation, are scared to admit: most disciplines of science are, to a greater or lesser extent, controlled by fashions, biases, and dogma. Why is this so? Because the mechanism by which scientific debate has been “regulated”
cular process is fundamentally flawed; but, borrowing the words of Winston Churchill, it is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried. Science is not, of course, alone in this respect; for example, in the justice system, judges are generally selected from the ranks of lawyers. So what is it that allows this form of system work, despite its evident circularity? The justice system again provides a clue: judges are not the ones who ultimately decide what occurs in a courtroom: they simply implement the laws passed or imposed by the government – and politicians are not, in general, selected solely from the ranks
The mechanism by which scientific debate has been “regulated” to avoid anarchy – at least since the second half of the twentieth century – has been the “peer review” process to avoid anarchy – at least since the second half of the twentieth century – has been the “peer review” process. The career of any professional scientist lives or dies on their success in achieving publication of their papers in “peer-reviewed” journals. So what, exactly, does “peer-reviewed” mean? Simply that other professional scientists in that discipline must agree that the paper is worthy of publication. And what is the criterion that determines who these “professional scientists” should be? Their success in achieving publication of their papers in peer-reviewed journals! Catch-22. It may seem, on the surface, that this cir-
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of the legal profession. This is the ultimate “reality check” that prevents the legal system from spiraling into navel-gazing irrelevance. Equivalent “escape valves” for science are not as explicitly obvious, but they exist nonetheless. Firstly, a scientific discipline can maintain a “closed shop” mentality for a while, but eventually the institutions and funding agencies that provide the lifeblood of their work – the money that pays their wages and funds their research – will begin to question the relevance and usefulness of the discipline, particularly in relation to other disciplines that are competing for the same funds.
This will generally be seen by the affected scientists as “political interference”, but it is a reflection of their descent into arrogance and delusions of self-importance for them to believe that only they themselves are worthy of judging their own merits. Secondly, scientists who are capable and worthy, but unfairly “locked out” of a given discipline, will generally migrate to other disciplines in which the scientific process is working as it should. Dysfunctional disciplines will, in time, atrophy, in favor of those that are healthy and dynamic. The Climategate emails show that these self-regulating mechanisms simply failed to work in the case of climate science – perhaps because “climate science” is itself an aggregation of many different and disparate scientific disciplines. Those component disciplines are extremely challenging. For example, it would be wonderful if NASA were able to invent a time machine, and go back over the past hundred thousand years and set up temperature and carbon dioxide measurement probes across the breadth of the globe. Unfortunately, we don’t have this. Instead, we need to infer these measurements, by counting tree rings, or digging up tubes of ice. The science of each of these disciplines is well-defined and rigorous, and there are many good scientists working in these fields. But the real difficulty is the “stitching together” of all of these results, in a way that allows answers to the fundamental questions: How much effect has mankind had on the temperature of the planet? And how much difference would it make if we did things differently? It is at this “stitching together” layer of science – one could call it a “meta-discipline” – that the principles of the scientific method have broken down. Reading through the Climategate emails, one can see members of that community – usually those with slightly
different experience and wisdom than the power-brokers – questioning (as they should) this “stitching together” process, particularly with regard to the extremely subtle mathematical methods that need to be used to try to extract answers. Now, these mathematical and statistical methods are completely within my own domain of expertise; and I can testify that the criticisms are sensible, carefully thought-out, and completely valid; these are good scientists, asking the right questions. So what reception do they get? Instead of embracing this diversity of knowledge – thanking them for their experience (no one knows everything about everything) and using that knowledge to improve their own calculations – these power-brokers of
climate science instead ignore, fob off, ridicule, threaten, and ultimately black-ball those who dare to question the methods that they – the power-brokers, the leaders – have used. And do not be confused: I am here talking about those scientists within their own camps, not the “skeptics” which they dismiss out of hand. This is not “climate science”, it is climate ideology; it is the Church of Climatology. It is this betrayal of the principles of science – in what is arguably the most important public application of science in our lifetime – that most distresses scientists. Australian physicist John Costella has compiled a must-read detailed analysis of the Climategate emails at www.assassinationscience.com/climategate
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Richard Prosser Frozen foods
THE COPENHAGEN CLIMATE SUMMIT JUNKET FARCE has
been and gone, predictably generating little more than lots of the very same hot air which it was ostensibly intended to reduce. A wise blogger opined that he would become concerned about the state of the climate when the people who were telling him he should be concerned, began to act as if they were concerned. And plainly they were not; a hundred or so countries sent a staggering 15,000 delegates, or thereabouts, to grapple with our supposed impending global warming catastrophe, when perhaps a mere few hundred snouts in the taxpayerfunded trough would have sufficed. They were accompanied by twice that number of reporters, observers, and general hangers-on, who swanned around in Hawaiian shirts in their centrally-heated luxury hotels and conference venues whilst the Arctic cold descended on the Danish capital. The faithful came to Denmark by plane, by train, and by automobile, all of them fuelled, directly or indirectly, by the fossils of old; 140 private jets amongst that number, and so many limousines that the Nordic nation ran out of its own, and had to call for reinforcements to be driven in from Sweden and Germany. Together they created a carbon footprint so colossal as to be reminiscent of the impression which Al Gore’s well-nourished backside might leave in a giant bean chair. Even the happy hookers of København were there, putting out free nookie for anyone with a delegate’s pass; prostituting their art, you might say, for the sake of the grand glittering sham which is the theory of man-made Global Warming and the Climate Change cult. In fact if there’s a more delightfully appropriate metaphor for the whole concept of Kyoto and the IPCC, than the example of the Whores of Copenhagen, then this writer has yet to hear it.
Why anyone at all professes faith in the failed ideology of AGW continues to puzzle your favourite commentator. Some, I know, are genuinely motivated but sadly misinformed, driven by a desire to save the planet from mankind’s pollution, but lacking the understanding that this, the climate, and carbon dioxide, are not connected. Some, including politicians, journalists, and radio talkback hosts, are driven by ego; desperate for public adulation, they pontificate in haughty tones about a nonexistent consensus concerning the supposedly settled nature of science of which they have no personal understanding, and parrot claims about “empirical evidence” and “peer
them, are just that; theory. None of them have proven to be accurate in the real world, none of the ones from ten years ago managed to accurately predict the cooling we are experiencing today, and many of them disagree with one another on even basic presumptions. Some, it is possible, do genuinely want a world Government, created initially under the auspices of the United Nations, and see this issue as the perfect excuse to begin clamouring for one. And some, of course, are just plain thick, though I confess that there may be more than a small degree of overlap between certain of the above categories.
If we have a couple of bad seasons, or a crop failure of any significance, in the world’s great granaries, humanity is in serious trouble review”, seemingly without knowing what the terms actually mean. If it helps, I can explain that “peer review” means that your work is independently assessed for accuracy of method and logical conclusion, anonymously, by impartial scientists of comparable qualification and experience to yourself. It doesn’t mean that your politically motivated lies get ticked off by your own pre-approved cronies. And “empirical evidence” means evidence which has been gathered from observation and experimentation – such as the study of ice cores and tree rings which show that we are in fact cooling – rather than from untested and unproven theory. Climate models, all of
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As usual, I am digressing. This month’s column is not about poking fun at those still foolish enough to believe in the ludicrous idea that man is somehow affecting the earth’s climate, however much they deserve it. No, the time for that is passing, partly because it’s becoming boring, but mostly because there is a more pressing issue confronting us. It is of course the coming cool period, the possible ramifications thereof, and more importantly, what we should be doing to plan for it. Earth has been through these before, as I have discussed, and the science and regularity of them is well known and well doc-
umented. Our planet warms and cools in response to changes in the amount of solar radiation we receive (expressed as watts per square metre), both because the sun’s output varies, and because our distance from it varies with the irregularities of our orbit. Sunspot cycles and Milankovitch cycles, the Dalton Minimum, the Maunder Minimum, numerous ice ages – these historical processes and events are common knowledge. What makes them important is that during periods of climate cooling, plant growth on planet earth diminishes. In human terms, this means that agricultural production is reduced. Winters become longer and harsher, growing seasons become shorter, and crop yields are affected by cold wet conditions during both spring germination, and autumn harvest. Summer growth is reduced because of cooler temperatures and lessened rainfall; a colder climate means there is less evapo-transpiration, and hence a reduction in precipitation. Drought is a symptom of cooling, not warming. As I write, the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing its coldest winter in more than 40 years, on the back of twelve years of cooling temperatures. Canada’s grain harvest for 2010 is tipped to be 20% down on the 2009 season thanks to lower temperatures. Annually, Canada grows around 4% of the world’s wheat production; but more significantly, it provides for better than 14% of global wheat exports, just ahead of France. The United States, similarly, generates about 9% of the global wheat crop, but furnishes 30% of the total available to international buyers. Australia’s 3.8% provides for 17.5% of exports. Argentina, which doesn’t even make the top ten in terms of production, stumps up a full 10% of export availability. The two largest producers, China and India, consume almost all their own grain domestically, but they import as well; China alone picks up nearly a sixth of the wheat sold internationally. All five major grain exporting countries are forecasting reduced yields in 2010. Factor into this equation the reality that world grain stocks have been falling relative to demand for more than a decade, and the mix becomes potentially tenuous. Never before in the history of cold climate cycles has the earth had such a huge and burgeoning human population. Thanks to this and to diminishing production, the world grain reserve, mankind’s food supply, is down to around 48 days, from 115 days in 1999.
Things may be even worse than that if, as rumoured, the 60 million ton Chinese strategic grain reserve doesn’t actually exist other than as propaganda. What all this means is that if we have a couple of bad seasons, or a crop failure of any significance, in the world’s great granaries, humanity is in serious trouble. It isn’t just bread, pasta, flour, maize and rice for direct consumption which are at risk – corn, sorghum, grains for stock food and brewing, soy beans and other staples will be hit by the same growing conditions. Grain-fed chicken, corn-fed beef, everything from pork bellies to beer production depends on the weather down on the farm. And the farm is getting colder. This writer spent a good part of his ten years in the wine industry in Central Otago retrofitting frost-fighting systems to vineyards which hadn’t needed them ten and twenty years earlier. Already this growing year, in Florida and California, unseasonal frosts have decimated crops of oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes.
irrigation, which are already experiencing greater demand due to the requirements of growing populations and industry. If it is severe, or prolonged, or both, it will inevitably lead to conflict. Countries with small populations which are pretty much self-sufficient in grain and other food production, such as New Zealand, may fare reasonably well. Big importers however, the likes of Spain, Italy, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, as well as the aforementioned Indians and Chinese, may go hungry, and there’s nothing quite like an empty belly to turn your nicest neighbours nasty in very short order. Might this be of concern for an isolated little nation with a relatively temperate climate, lots of empty fertile land, better than adequate groundwater, plenty of fish, and no defence forces? It is a bitter irony that a country like Britain, which cannot feed itself, is gripped by her coldest winter in a century even as her flakiest Kyoto acolytes rave about food miles,
Never before in the history of cold climate cycles has the earth had such a huge and burgeoning human population Tomatoes are down in Turkey as well, potatoes in Russia, fresh vegetables in China, peanuts across the globe. Such food as is available, will also be expensive, which is good for the farmers, manageable for the consumers of wealthy regions such as Europe, but potentially disastrous for much of the third world. Already in the last year we have seen food shortages and price riots, confined thus far to West Africa and other bits of deepest Wogistan which are out of sight to genteel middle class New Zealand eyes; perhaps not for much longer. Artificial crises such as swine flu and the credit crunch can be ignored, but imminent starvation cannot. Inevitably, declining production will bring increased pressure on remaining temperate forest lands to be cleared for agriculture. Inevitably, it will bring increased pressure on dwindling fish stocks, and on the convention by which nations recognise the sovereignty of others’ claims to exclusive economic zones. Inevitably, it will bring increased pressure on existing aquifers for
and clamour to penalise products from far away New Zealand. Naturally they ignore the fact that it takes more energy to keep foodstuffs refrigerated on the shelves of the UK’s supermarkets than it does to ship it from the other side of the world, energy provided by supposedly dirty old coal, at that; but before we get too smug, it is worth remembering that around two-thirds of our own electricity currently comes from rainwater, which as we have seen is likely to be in short supply itself. Neither have we – yet – had to worry about building a fleet of icebreakers to keep our ports and sea lanes open. Our policy makers and their various advisers need to take time out from the silly fantasy world of warming climates and world Governments, and take a long cold sober look at the possibility that the sunspot watchers may be right, and that the earth may be facing a new solar minimum and an extended period of significant global climate cooling. By the time there is nothing left to eat apart from frozen humble pie, it will be too late to tell them “I told you so.”
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Chris Carter Saving a harpooned whale SAVE THE WHALE, BLOGGER THAT IS; APPEARS TO ME
to be a very worthy cause indeed, especially as not involving the dangerous lunatics currently involved in common piracy in the Antarctic. Quite reasonable New Zealanders can take pride in Supporting the Whale as he single handedly takes on the legal protection racket that rich and famous scumbags use to remain anonymous as they variously assault women or fiddle with little kids. For as long as I can remember, ordinary people have been outraged as famous or powerful people have conspired amongst themselves to shelter their more disgraceful behavior from the public view by getting their mates in the judiciary to pull the right strings and to toss a favorable name suppression order their way. Despite, of course, even having spent many years endeavoring to construct an image of being a non elitist and truly fair profession worthy of the public’s respect and trust, it has become increasingly obvious that from top to bottom our whole Judicial process has degenerated to the point where the charge “Contempt of Court” is now more of a commonly held public opinion rather than of an isolated event. As a defendant, for instance, it seems that you will place yourself at considerable risk these days to tell the truth, the whole truth etc, as you may very well find that you will be the only person involved in the proceedings who will be telling the truth and, even worse of course, as a butcher/baker/candle stick maker, your chances of name suppression are as likely to be worse than winning Lotto. So the question arises, just how does the ordinary person set about reforming our morally reprehensible judicial system and returning its operation into the hands of the people who it’s meant to represent, bearing in mind that the legally privileged few have had a free run for decades, within which time they have constructed a legal maze of laws and regu-
lations designed to make this very difficult indeed. Perhaps even more alarming to the average citizen as we gaze upon our broken justice system is the very ancient premise that “Justice delayed is Justice denied” – in which case the vast number of people appearing in court each year are being clearly not receiving justice at all; the inexcusable huge delays almost guaranteeing fading witness memories making any evidence given to being unsafe to say the very least. But to sort out this whole unsatisfactory if not actually corrupted system, one has to start somewhere, which is where we now return to the current and well publicized activities of one Mr Cameron Slater aka Whaleoil,
conviction) or none at all. To allow a Public Servant the luxury to choose, for whatever reason, certain individuals the luxury of name suppression, especially permanent suppression surely is wrong and at the very least based on a highly suspect rationale. “To protect innocent parties” is the most common excuse for offenders to receive name suppression yet in many respects children who have been victims of all manner of offenses, sexual and otherwise, would very likely receive much more community love, understanding and support from the community at large were the whole business right out there in the open. New Zealanders are a kind and generous people who are much
Whaleoil has felt that this current set of judicial practices is just plain wrong and to his credit has stuck his neck out and has said so in spades who thankfully – still aware of the difference between right and wrong, and at great personal risk – is nevertheless starting the ball rolling by publicly naming various miscreants whose activities the “authorities” are currently conspiring to withhold from us. Raises an interesting question does it not? Who is wrong here, those who try to conceal the truth or those who choose to reveal it? The public it appears are expected to meekly accept a highly suspect ruling from a judge, yet condemn anyone at all who questions or, even worse, actually reveals to the public the name of the offender that the Judge is trying to hide. Clearly here, either all offenders should have total name suppression (until
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more likely to help child and women victims than the hand wringing so called professionals who currently farm these poor souls currently delivered in much secrecy onto their highly profitable plates. Conversely, bearing in mind the many well documented cases where completely innocent people have had their lives ruined as a result of being wrongly accused of all kinds of charges, especially involving children or offences against women, where under our currently flawed system is their protection? For sure if you happen to be an ordinary citizen you have absolutely no protection at all, you apparently have to just grin and bear bare it, no compensation of any kind,
the false accuser invariably just walks away; a Policeman probably won’t even get a telling off, none of which problems will ever occur if you are a current “Name” in society or perhaps a member of the right club. Whaleoil has felt that this current set of judicial practices is just plain wrong and to his credit, using the new but enormously powerful medium of the Internet, has stuck his neck out and has said so in spades. The support for his cause has been quite extraordinary with literally thousands of comments and emails supporting his views to the hilt. OK, we’ve all known for years that in this country there has long been a view that there is a set of separate laws for the rich and the poor, it’s just that over the last decade this has increasingly been seen as not just a popular legend but more now of an established fact. Of course taking on one’s “betters” is always fraught with danger, as the game, legal and otherwise has always been rigged to keep the peasants in their place. But the times they are a changing, no longer does the power structure enjoy semi control of the means of communication, the communication cat is now well and truly out of the bag where even Rupert Murdoch the most powerful media Baron of all has recently stated that the way of the future is the Internet, along of course with Twitter, Facebook, and a multitude of personal web collectives so any real control over what we see and read is now largely a thing of the past. I wonder how long it will be before the men and women in suits suddenly wake up
to the fact that control of the masses has just about completely slipped from their grasp. That secret squirrel government edicts, slovenly and ineffective Courts, big corporation rip offs etc will now become common knowledge right throughout the country and even the world within a matter of hours, as we indeed will now be able to see how Cameron Slater gets on as the Police do as their masters say and try to shut him up. Good on you Whaleoil, your blood is worth bottling!
Blogger Cameron Slater arriving at Auckland District Court to answer charges of breaching name suppression orders on his Whaleoil internet blog. NZPA / David Rowland.
Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
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Matthew Flannagan The judgmental Jesus
FEW THINGS ARE THOUGHT TO BE MORE MORALLY
pernicious than the edict to not judge others. Sometimes this is given a theological spin with people citing the Sermon on the Mount “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2). It is common for this imperative statement to be used as a kind of rhetorical club to silence moral critique of various cultural practices. When a particular practice is subjected to such critique those who engage in the practice will complain they are being “judged.” If the alleged judgers are Christian, the claim that “judging is contrary to what Christ taught” is typically added to the charge. I think this is a misrepresentation of the passage and an affront to common sense. I will address the latter point first. The claim that it is wrong to judge other people is problematic; it is so problematic that it is amazing that anyone gives it credence. For example, if it is wrong to judge other people then since Hitler was another person, it is wrong to say that what he did was wrong. To claim that his actions were wrong is to make a judgment about them and if judging is wrong then it is wrong to judge Hitler. Similarly, Martin Luther King Junior was wrong to criticise racism and doing so judged the actions of racists and William Wilberforce was wrong to make moral judgments about the slave trade as in doing so he was judging slave owners. Taken consistently, the claim that “it is wrong to judge” entails that we should have no legal system, no laws and no courts as all these things involve judging others by deeming certain conduct as wrong. The problems with this interpretation of Matthew 7:1-2 do not stop there. A little
reflection will demonstrate that the claim that it is wrong to judge other people is incoherent. To claim that it is wrong to judge others is to make a moral judgment; in making the statement one is judging that a particular action is wrong. Moreover, when a person announces this to other people he or she is implicitly making a judgement about other people’s actions. To utter that it is wrong to judge others is to engage in judging others. This kind of thinking can easily induce a kind of intellectual vertigo, it is analogous to the person who states, in English, “I can’t speak a word of English” or a person who tries to convince you of the
right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:9). It is evident that Jesus is not advocating self-mutilation but simply making his point about not lusting, in a vivid, hyperbolic fashion. Similarly, when he commands people to, “do good deeds before men,” (Matthew 5:16) but a few verses later he tells us, “not to do good deeds before men.” (Matthew 6:1). Taken in a strictly literalistic sense this is a contradiction. However, a reading of the context shows these apparently opposing statements are simply vivid illustrations of the same point; one’s good deeds should be motivated by a desire to honour God, to do the
Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” truth of the claim “there is no truth.” Fortunately, one does not need to attribute to Jesus such absurd, incoherent, platitudes because it is doubtful that Jesus meant anything quite so stupid. Several factors bear this conclusion out. First, one should note that the claim, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” occurs as part of the Sermon on the Mount. In this Sermon, Jesus regularly used hyperbole to vividly illustrate a point. One should note that interpreting these hyperboles too literalistically leads to obvious absurdities. For example, Jesus states, when referring to the act of looking at another person’s spouse with lust, “If your
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right thing and not by a desire to advance one’s own reputation. In light of such contexts the phrase, “do not judge,” should be seen for what it is, a hyperbolic statement illustrating the point elaborated in the surrounding verses. Second, when one seeks out this context one can see quite clearly the point being made. The phrase translated in the NIV as, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” was originally written by Matthew in Koine (a Greek dialect). The Interlinear Bible gives the literal translation here as, “do not judge that you be judged.” In other words, do not judge others in a way that leads one to put
oneself under judgement. The surrounding words support this conclusion, For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:2-6) Here the qualifications are evident. One is not to judge in a way that brings judgment on oneself. The reason for this (“for”) is that the standard one uses to judge others is the standard that one’s own behaviour will be measured by. Jesus goes on to illustrate, with a sarcastic example, precisely what he is talking about; a person who nitpicks or censures the minor faults of others (taking the speck out of their brother’s eye) who ignores the serious, grave, moral faults in their own life (the log in one’s own eye). His point is that such faults actually blind the person’s ability to be able to make competent moral judgments. This suggests that Jesus is focusing on a certain type of judging and not the making of judgments per se. In fact, the conclusion that Jesus does not mean to condemn all judging of others is evident from the proceeding sentences in the above quote. Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words one should try to rectify the serious moral flaws in one’s own life precisely so one can assist others with theirs. One needs to avoid hypocrisy in order to make constructive and effective moral judgments about others. This would make no sense if Jesus meant to condemn all judging by this passage. The reference to “pigs and dogs” in verse 6 further bears this out. Dogs and pigs, to Jews, were unclean animals and the term was frequently used to designate people considered to be of low moral character who were “unclean” before God. In this verse Jesus is simply repeating the Old Testament teaching to “not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you: rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8). The implication, again,
Jesus tells his disciples to judge whether a person is a false prophet or not by their “fruit.”… “fruit” is a metaphor for character
is that one should try to make constructive judgments rather than simply provoking anger. Constructive judgments involve making judgments. Just in case I have not belaboured the point enough, my interpretation is further reinforced by what follows after these passages. While reading a passage in its context is not the strength of many popular critics of Christianity, immediately after the cited passage Jesus goes on to warn about the dangers of religious charlatans, which he, rather judgmentally, refers to as “ferocious wolves” in “sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). In the age of Osama Bin Laden, David Koresh and Jim Jones the danger of such charlatans needs little further elaboration. In exhorting the requisite discernment, Jesus actually instructs his disciples to make moral judgments about others. He tells his disciples to judge whether a person is a false prophet or not by their “fruit.” Anyone familiar with Old Testament prophetic literature, as Jesus’ hearers were, would know that “fruit” is a metaphor for character. Isaiah’s use of the metaphor is paradigmatic; Isaiah famously described Israel as a vineyard that did not bear fruit. In the metaphor, fruit quite clearly referred to such things as right conduct, justice, morality, etc. Paul uses the same metaphor when he states that “the fruit
of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a). Jesus makes it clear that he is utilising this metaphor. He goes on to stress that in this context the fruit of a prophet is whether he or she “does the will of my Father” and is not an “evil doer.” It is clear then that Jesus here is exhorting his disciples to make moral judgment about other people, to critically evaluate other people’s lives, choices and actions and to make judgments about their spiritual authenticity based on this evaluation. All of this would be very odd if Jesus thought it was wrong to judge. Moral judgment of religious leaders, of oneself, of the organisations one is contemplating joining, of people one considers associating with, of the political leaders one supports at the ballot box and broader issues in wider culture is a task essential to both authentic spirituality and the competent navigation of everyday life. Dr Matthew Flannagan holds a Doctorate in Theology and a Masters with First Class Honours in Philosophy. He researches and publishes in the area of Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Ethics. He is an adjunct lecturer in Philosophy for Laidlaw College and Bethlehem Tertiary Institute. He blogs with his wife at www.mandm.org.nz.
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THE TRUTH ABOUT MARIJUANA REFORM
A major overhaul of New Zealand’s war on drugs is due this year, but few people would know one of the driving forces behind its main theme is billionaire currency trader George Soros. IAN WISHART backgrounds the debate on drug policy, and how it ties in with the agenda of one of the world’s richest capitalists
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o most New Zealanders, the war on drugs is a given. It’s been with us since time immemorial, and generations have been educated about the dangers of narcotics, not just to immediate life and limb but also longer term effects like the dumbing down and mental illness associated with so-called ‘minor’ drugs like cannabis. Sure, there are still drugs around, but as supporters of the status quo point out, that doesn’t make a valid argument in favour of legalization of drugs, any more than the reality that rape still happens means we should give up and decriminalize sex offending as well. Yet, ironically, there’s a global push to inch governments towards legalizing drugs supposedly in the name of saving money, and wresting control of the drug trade from organized crime. The issue hit the headlines this month when New Zealand fringe businessman Ken Morgan, now legally known as “Dakta Green” after a deed-poll moniker change, announced plans to set up a chain of can-
nabis clubs up and down the country known as “daktories”. “It is a warehouse in West Auckland that we’ve converted with couches and other comfortable laid-back type furniture so that people in the cannabis culture have a safe haven to come and gather and enjoy our pastime,” Green told Newstalk ZB’s Tim Dower. “Get stoned?” queried Dower. “That’s part of it, there’s a whole social atmosphere that goes on with people within our culture. It’s not just about getting stoned. That raises all sorts of connotations that the media have perpetuated for years.” Morgan then boasted that members of his cannabis club included “doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, a court registrar, business people.” Morgan’s candid admission goes to the heart of the legalizing drugs argument. Do people want to be treated in hospital by nurses or surgeons who still have cannabis in their systems (it can take weeks for the active ingredient in one joint, THC, to leave the body)? Do people in court, whether criminal or civil, want to be represented by a lawyer who regularly hangs out at a “daktory” getting stoned? In an emergency situation at school, would a teacher whose wits were still under the influence of cannabis be capable of making split second decisions that could save or kill the children in her care? These are valid concerns, because the vast majority of people would readily acknowledge that drugs and alcohol affect mental capabilities. Of course, the counter argument runs: “it’s already happening”. By virtue of our
modern culture, there’s already a risk that your lawyer is a stoner, or that the truck driver overtaking you in his 18-wheeler is loaded to the eyeballs on methamphetamine to keep him awake on the long haul runs. If it’s already happening, then perhaps the horse on drug prevention has bolted and we should just accept it as a societal risk and move on. The argument behind decriminalizing or even legalizing drugs is that money will no longer need to be spent in detection and enforcement, and can better be spent on educating people about “responsible” drug use. The argument also goes that decriminalizing marijuana will only legitimize what is already taking place behind closed doors, and not lead to a growth in marijuana use. Better education should soon lead to less, not more, drug use. Interestingly, that’s the same argument that was run in the Netherlands when authorities decided to allow cannabis to be sold back in the 1980s. So what happened? “In the Netherlands, after the implementation of decriminalization in 1976, the prevalence of cannabis use among youth aged from 10 to 18 was only 4.2 percent,” reported one favourable study ten years ago in the journal International Social Work. By 1984, the number of children aged 12-18 who’d tried cannabis had crept up to 4.8%. But by 1988, the figure had nearly doubled, to 8% and by 1993 it had almost tripled, coming in at 13.6%. This was despite a ban on selling marijuana to people under 18. Much like New Zealand’s failed experiment with lowering the drinking age, Dutch children found it easier to get hold of drugs from older friends. According to an IPS news report posted on America’s HuffingtonPost blog late last year, Dutch teenage cannabis use has hit dizzying heights: “The Trimbos Institute – the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction – says cannabis use among school-goers has remained stable since 2003, but that 41 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls in the Netherlands had tried the drug by the age of 16. “A 2007 survey by the European school project on alcohol and other drugs (ESPAD) suggested that 28 percent of children aged 15 and 16 in the Netherlands were regular cannabis users, similar to the figure in 2003. The Czech Republic had the highest prevalence with 45 percent, while Romania had the lowest, at 4 percent.”
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So from decriminalisation in 1976, youth cannabis usage in Holland has shot from 4.2% to around 35% who’ve tried it in 2009 by age 16, and 28% of 15 and 16 year olds are in the category of “regular cannabis users”. Even those figures don’t tell the full story, because they are a national average across the Netherlands. In the few big cities in Holland, like Amsterdam, cannabis use in 1997 was 37% according to official figures, while dropping to a much lower 11% in the villages and small towns. The national average that year was 16%. In other words, if you live in a city in the Netherlands, cannabis use is far higher than the average figure. The bitter irony is that in the US, where the Reagan administration had a “just say NO” anti-drug ad campaign underway in the eighties (which even played in New Zealand cinemas), cannabis use amongst 12 to 18 year olds fell from 23.6% in 1984 to 11.7% by 1993 – halving during the same period that Dutch dope use tripled under permissive new laws.
ack in the 1960s, official figures suggest only a few hundred thousand regular users of marijuana existed in the US. But as the Vietnam War era came to an end and the US was flooded with Asian cannabis, usage became so widespread, around 35% of the population, that President Jimmy Carter attempted to pass a federal law making possession of marijuana for individual use a misdemeanor, rather than a crime. His bid failed, but the ensuing public debate sent a message to the public that marijuana use privately was a nudge-nudge, wink-wink affair. The same era saw the tremendous popularity of the Cheech & Chong marijuana movie franchise. That, then, is the background as to why US drug use figures were much higher in 1984 than the Dutch figures – they’d sprung from a decriminalization attempt and an already permissive social view of the drug. In the Netherlands today, whilst that country is held up as a poster child for cannabis decriminalization, regulators are now considering a crack-down, as IPS reports. “Residents are increasingly concerned that school-age children are being harmed by the long-standing policy of tolerance towards limited use of soft drugs. Children as young as 12 are ‘feeling pressured to try marijuana,’ as one parent put it. In response, government officials at both the municipal and national level are now taking steps to revise the country’s drug strategy.
“In June, the port city of Rotterdam ordered the closure of coffee shops within 250 metres of high schools and some primary schools. Coffee shops are licensed to sell cannabis, besides drinks and snacks. The mayor’s office cited a ‘worrying rise’ in the use of soft drugs by youths in vulnerable situations. The measure affected 16 of the city’s 62 coffee shops. “ ‘We talked with the schools and parents and they welcomed the closure of the coffee shops’, says Richard Anderiesse, spokesman for Rotterdam’s Social Safety Department. ‘The main goal is that we don’t want youngsters under 18 years old to use soft drugs in the vicinity of schools, so we make it harder for them to buy the drugs’, he told IPS. “Amsterdam is also taking the same strategy and, at the state level, lawmakers are debating whether to revise the distinction between hard and soft drugs and whether to appoint a drug czar to oversee policy. New rules are expected to be outlined this autumn, and they will most likely include a national policy to close coffee shops located near schools, Anderiesse said.” But it’s not just Dutch teenage drug use that’s the problem under the permissive regime. Organised crime effectively took control of supplying the many coffee houses that sell cannabis, and have used their networks to turn Holland into a major transhipment point for harder drugs like heroin, cocaine and the amphetamines. “These criminals could not have wished for a better and more stable market for their product than the Dutch coffee shops,” writes Dutch lawyer and journalist Sanne Bloemink, now based in the US. “As a consequence, the Netherlands has unfortunately obtained a key role in the international drugs trade. “I’m Dutch, born and raised in Amsterdam, so I know a thing or two about the use of marijuana. The Netherlands, my country, has long been known for its recreational marijuana use but, ironically, citizens of that country are now moving somewhat in the opposite direction.” Salon magazine found the same thing when it investigated in 2000: “Unofficially, police authorities allow “ethical dealers” – individual small-scale suppliers untainted by international trafficking rings – to handle transactions [supplying coffee shops]. But an Amsterdam city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me he believes that 90 percent of smoking coffee shops in the city are controlled by organized crime.
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Amsterdam Coffee Shop “Fantasio” Where it is legal to smoke Cannabis and where the youth of the city meet to discuss drugs, music and politic / NEWSCOM
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“This is where tolerance and ambiguity become dangerous. ‘The front-door/ back-door policy has created an enormous amount of organized crime in Holland’, confirms reporter Kurt van Es, a drug specialist at Amsterdam’s top daily Het Parool, and pro-legalization author of a book on smoking coffee shops and soft drugs. ‘The Dutch have become the Colombians of marijuana and hash trafficking in Europe’.” In other words, the Dutch experiment with decriminalizing marijuana use hasn’t worked, at least as far as Dutch citizens are concerned. In New Zealand, cannabis legalization lobby NORML has run the line that cannabis use leads to a reduction in aggression and that this is a positive that will benefit New Zealand society. The same line was run 10 years ago by an angry Joris Vos, Dutch ambassador to the US, responding to a critical report of Dutch drug policy in the December 1999 issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, by Larry Collins. “Collins reports an increase in cannabis use among youth in major Dutch cities, from which he infers that the ‘skyrocketing’ rise (for which no figures are provided) in violent crime in those cities is due to increased cannabis use. But it has been scientifically established that cannabis does not evoke aggression, making Collins’ linking of both (possibly untrue) observations highly questionable. “The drug policy of the Netherlands has evolved over the years with the consent of the Dutch people, who are, for the most part, satisfied with the results. Although our approach may differ from other countries’, our goals are the same: reducing drug use and the harm it causes both the user and society,” huffed the Ambassador.
ut if scientists were not aware of the link between dope and violent behavior ten years ago, they are now, and ironically it’s a major Dutch study that provided the proof. That major report, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2006, examined 5,500 students between 12 and 16, and found: “This study shows that at young ages the use of cannabis is already strongly associated with delinquent and aggressive behaviour, even after controlling for strong confounders such as alcohol use and smoking. The strength of the associations increased with higher frequency of use, and significant associations were only present among those who
Study shows that at young ages the use of cannabis is already strongly associated with delinquent and aggressive behaviour, even after controlling for strong confounders such as alcohol use and smoking
had used cannabis recently (lifetime cannabis users who had not used the drug during the preceding year were not at higher risk compared with those who never used cannabis).” In other words, a positive correlation exists between recent use of cannabis, and aggressive or delinquent behavior. The study concluded: “In a country with a liberal drug policy like The Netherlands, cannabis use is associated with aggression and delinquency.” When added to the context of a massive increase in teen cannabis use in Holland, despite a law prohibiting sale to minors, the scientific studies add up to a potentially large increase in youth crime. For his part, researcher Larry Collins who’d written the investigative piece that offended the Dutch government in 1999, hit back at the ambassador’s claims that he had no evidence of a youth crime wave. “I did not ‘report’ an increase in cannabis use among Dutch youth. I cited, first, sta-
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tistics compiled by the Dutch Alcohol and Drug Information Center, which showed a 25 percent increase in the number of people asking for help in dealing with a cannabis problem in 1997, and second, J. A. Wallenberg, the director of the Jellinek Clinic and probably the Netherlands’ leading expert in the treatment of addiction of all kinds. “The ambassador wants statistics? The Telegraf, an Amsterdam newspaper, published Dutch Ministry of Justice figures on January 29, 1997, showing that the number of juveniles involved in acts of violence had risen 85 percent in a decade. As I wrote, it was senior police officers in Amsterdam and The Hague – not me – who attributed much of that growing juvenile crime problem to persistent soft-drug users. This is due not so much to aggressiveness while the user is under the influence of marijuana but rather to the socially disruptive lifestyles that regular and heavy soft-drug use can produce. “There is no sound statistical basis for the
ambassador’s statement that ‘the Dutch people are for the most part satisfied with the result’ of Dutch drug policy. No nationwide poll or referendum has ever been taken to determine what percentage of the population approves, disapproves, or is indifferent to the Netherlands’ drug policy. One referendum of registered voters was taken on the subject in the Dutch-Belgian border town of Hulst – admittedly a special case, as the community is regularly invaded by Belgian hash smokers. Still, 96 percent of those polled wanted all the community’s drug-selling ‘coffee shops’ closed – hardly a ringing endorsement of the nation’s drug policy. “Finally, the ambassador’s letter fails to address the principal thrust of the article – namely, that the Netherlands’ tolerant drug policies have turned his charming country into the drug-dealing capital of Europe,” exclaimed Collins. But Ambassador Vos wasn’t the only one taking a crack at Collins’ analysis of the
Dutch law. Two social scientists, “experts” in the field, laid into him as well. “Collins attributes a ‘skyrocketing growth in juvenile crime’ and ‘acts of violence’ to Dutch drug policy, arguing that marijuana use is most prevalent in big cities – as is violent crime. But correlation is not causation. There is more of every ‘sin’ in every big city, and crime has also increased in countries with harsh drug laws,” wrote the scientists. Again, Collins hit back. “The letter from Craig Reinarman and Peter Cohen should be considered in the light of Cohen’s statements in the Dutch press advocating the legalization of all drugs, including heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy. The Center for Drug Research, with which both authors are affiliated, is an active champion of such a policy. “In view of Reinarman and Cohen’s concern for the statistics published by the government-funded Trimbos Institute, they might wish to contemplate this one, published in the institute’s January 14, 1999,
Hard Drug Policy Paper: ‘Drug use is considered to be the primary motivation behind crimes against property.’ “I did not attribute the ‘skyrocketing growth in juvenile crime’ and ‘acts of violence’ to drug use. The police officers in Amsterdam and The Hague who have to deal with the problem did.” This, then, is the background against which Dutch drug policy can be measured. Yet if you listened to the submissions of cannabis reform lobby NORML to the New Zealand parliament, you’d believe the Netherlands were a shining light for New Zealand to emulate. Around 53% of the submissions to the 2003 inquiry into cannabis law reform recommended adopting the Dutch system, but NORML’s Chris Fowlie says in a NORML analysis that this is an underestimation. “However the report largely ignores a further 1,978 postcard submissions, which supported Dutch-style coffeeshops. These were not included in the committee’s analysis of
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submissions. If they were, the number wanting change would have risen from 78.6 per cent to 95 per cent. The number in favour of licensed coffeeshops would be 90 per cent, rather than the 53.6 per cent recorded in the report.” Fowlie’s analysis claimed the Dutch policies had “resulted in very low levels of cannabis use among youth”, but that fails to acknowledge while overall youth rates might be lower than some other countries, the rate of increase of cannabis use among Dutch teenagers is far higher since decriminalization, than elsewhere. Again, the baseline NORML preference is for either decriminalization or legalization, with emphasis then on “treating” people with cannabis problems, rather than prosecuting. “One of the themes emerging from the expert submissions is the view that policies should avoid criminalising non-problematic cannabis users. The report confirms various social harms result from giving criminal convictions to occasional cannabis users, and says the law ‘should therefore contain options for dealing with minor cannabis use, which avoid criminalisation’. “Several mechanisms are recommended, including: • cautioning for first offenders • diversion to education programmes or treatment • expiation of repeat offences through fines (with flexible payment option) or compulsory education.”
ut who pays for all this? The current process of a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket, and a $200 fine plus court costs, can actually be viewed in one sense as revenue neutral and possibly even positive for taxpayers. But hiring yet more liberal “drug educators” and sending people on to courses at taxpayer expense, where the consultants are charging real-world fees and billing them back to the government, shifts the financial burden from the cannabis user to the wider society. And there’s no clear evidence that liberal drug education courses work fantastically well. One such programme, High on Life, was tested in Wanganui and Taranaki before being given wider usage. Only a third of those attending the “harm minimization” course felt sufficiently motivated by it to provide feedback to researchers. While feedback from the one-third who did bother was largely positive, there’s no way of knowing what those who voted with their feet thought. The 2003 NZ parliamentary inquiry found no evidence that decriminalization led to an increase in cannabis uptake, but despite this recent news reports have linked a British decision to downgrade the seriousness of cannabis offences with a big upsurge in crime and child slavery: “Figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveal that, as organised criminals push cannabis production to record levels, at least one child a week is being found by
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police raiding cannabis factories. Experts warn that children as young as 13 are been smuggled from south-east Asia to work as “slaves” for gangs in dangerous conditions, being kept captive in towns and suburbs across the UK. They believe there has been a five-fold increase in the trade in the past 12 months. “Police believe organised crime gangs, largely Vietnamese, have moved quickly to dominate the UK cannabis market after declassification in 2004 increased the potential rewards of growing and selling the drug and decreased the risks of punishment. “Gangs can reap up to UKP300,000 profit a year from a three-bedroom house converted into a cannabis factory. Children are brought in by gangs to tend the plants. Many have been found unable to escape through doors or windows sealed and wired to give off dangerous electric shocks. Others fear reprisals against relatives if they try to escape. “Police are currently raiding up to three houses a day where children are being discovered. ‘There is clear evidence that there are young people who are trafficked, bought and sold, for the purpose of forced labour in cannabis production in the UK’, said Christine Beddoe, director of the campaign group End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (Ecpat). ‘In the past 12 months there has been a 500 per cent increase in the number of cases being reported to us. We now get told about one young person every week being removed from a cannabis factory. But nobody knows the true scale of the problem’.” In another unwanted side-effect, the nudge-nudge approach to cannabis possession in the UK is now alleged to be fuelling a “youth crime wave”. “In some areas,” reported the Independent on Sunday, “nine out of 10 take the drug – and those who work with them say the situation Is out of control. Cannabis use among Britain’s young offenders is…up by 75 per cent in some areas and fuelling a crime epidemic, with youngsters stealing to fund their addictions, according to two studies. “A national survey of Youth Offending Teams indicates that two-thirds of them have seen an increase in cannabis use of between 25 per cent and 75 per cent since David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, downgraded the drug to class C in 2004. Some 90 per cent of all young offenders are using cannabis in some areas, a far
greater proportion than the general youth population. “Research carried out by King’s College London has indicated that 25 per cent of young offenders in Sheffield have turned to crime to fund their habit. This contrasts with previous government research which said that “cannabis use was unlikely to motivate crime”. “A rise in young people smoking cannabis openly has led to a rise in the fear of crime in the community, leading Sheffield’s police chief to warn of the threat that cannabis poses to the ‘fabric of society’. Fifty out of 51 of the youth courts in England and Wales are so alarmed that they have written to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, urging an upgrading of cannabis back to class B.” But the British government has only itself to blame. It long ago swung in behind the “harm minimization” policy now gaining ground in New Zealand, and just as sex education here has seen a massive increase in sexually transmitted diseases, and a lower drinking age has seen more drunk 12 year olds hospitalized, so too in Britain has the “harm minimization” policy sent mixed messages to young people, as columnist Melanie Phillips points out: “Yet drug education guidelines provided by the Government’s curriculum authority use the phrase ‘informed choices’ over and over again; even at age 11, children are encouraged to make ‘informed choices’. “Drugscope, says Mrs Brett, constantly states in its information materials that cannabis is not physically addictive, which is untrue. Its website contains very few facts about the harm the drug can do. “ ‘One of the booklets about cannabis, distributed by Drugscope, shows a picture of two young chaps in a field of cannabis plants. One of them is wearing a cap with the logo, ‘Have fun, take care’. What sort of message does that send?’ “Whatever Mr Blunkett thinks he is doing by downgrading cannabis, there is no doubt that a sea-change has taken place in government which has swung behind the ‘harm reduction’ agenda promoted by drug legalisers,” warned Melanie Phillips. Indeed, the harm reduction/harm minimization approach has become dominant across a range of sectors. It is heavily present in sex education where taxpayer-funded consultants have handed out flavoured condoms to schoolgirls and boys. Unsurprisingly, teen sex is now far more widespread than it was two decades ago, but the overemphasis
Drug rankings differ An evidence-based system proposed by British researchers for ranking a drug’s harmfulness rates marijuana as less harmful than many legal drugs.
What research says Rates drugs on a scale of 0 to 3 for three factors in each of three categories; higher numbers equal more harmful rating
(Out of possible 9 points)
Physical harm • Acute, chronic, intravenous
2.33 3.0 Risk of dependency • Pleasure, psychological Alcohol 1.4 1.93 2.21 dependence, physical dependence
Social costs • Intoxication, social harm, health-care costs
What laws say ... ... in the U.S.
...and in the U.K.
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance*
Some claim the ABC system does not give specific information about a drug’s risks Class A • Heroin • Cocaine (most harmful) • LSD • Ecstasy category • Magic • Crystal mushrooms meth
Some of the drugs included in Schedule I (a felony) *High potential • Heroin • LSD • Ecstasy • Marijuana
for abuse; no currently accepted medical use; lack of safety for use under medical supervision
Class A/B • Amphetamines Class C
Source: BBC, Medical News Today, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Graphic: Lee Hulteng
on minimizing ‘harm’ by using a condom has seen STD rates go through the roof, because as the World Health Organisation was forced to acknowledge, condoms don’t actually protect against most sexual diseases. A successful argument could, and has, been made that ‘harm minimsation’ in a sexual context is a failure. The idea is also used in government-funded alcohol treatment programmes, where people with alcohol problems are encouraged to consider the immediate impact of getting sloshed, as opposed to the long term health impacts. Of course, for many alcoholics, reducing
© 2010 MCT
harm merely by “drinking less” is an ideal but unattainable goal: one drink quickly becomes ten. The only answer for alcoholics is detox and abstinence; selling them anything less is a recipe for relapse, and more taxpayer funds on consultations and further detox. In drug education, and the ever-present wish by marketers to distill complex issues down to slogans and soundbites, a pamphlet published by the New South Wales Education Department highlights why harm minimization can easily be interpreted by teenagers as a nudge-wink approach to drug use.
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“The aim of harm reduction is to reduce harmful and hazardous drug use, and promote responsible and safer use of drugs.” The devil in the detail is the implied belief that drug abuse is safe and controllable. Some drugs just are not. Heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine – all can hook users incredibly quickly, sometimes from just the first taste. Marijuana can cause psychosis the first time it’s used, in some people. Some narcotics are as controllable as a game of Russian Roulette where there’s three bullets in a six shooter and the participant is required to pull the trigger three times, if possible. So if harm minimization as epitomized by the Netherlands experiment has failed, what has worked? Ironically Sweden, another bastion of progressive liberal thought, is the poster child for a successful anti-drugs policy. Unlike the Netherlands, there is a total ban on canna-
of expert commissions, the vision has not been found to be obsolete or misdirected. As shown in this report, the prevalence and incidence rates of drug abuse have fallen in Sweden while they have increased in most other European countries. It is perhaps that ambitious vision that has enabled Sweden to achieve this remarkable result.” How remarkable? In a 1999 pan-European study of teen cannabis use, 28% of 15 and 16 year old Dutch children had used the drug; only 8% of Swedish children had tried it. Which brings us back to that Dutch study from 2006 published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. That study also finds a correlation between teenage dope smoking and poor performance at school: “After adjustment for confounders, the association between cannabis use and attention problems was significant. It is therefore not unlikely that cannabis use is associated
I had physical symptoms. I was sick, I had diarrhoea. I don’t know if my body was saying ‘I’ve had enough’. That kind of lifestyle is pretty unhealthy no matter how you look at it. Any addiction that starts to take over your life, starts pretty much to drag it down bis in Sweden, where authorities administer a ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach, much like New Zealand’s approach to drink-driving by teens. Admittedly, the Swedes have adopted one of the sensible aspects of the harm minimization programme – better rehabilitation procedures to help young people kick the habit, but they have not minimized the criminality of marijuana use. In a 2007 analysis of Sweden’s tough anti drugs approach, the United Nation’s narcotics division reported: “There has been criticism, and the vision of a drug free society that is guiding policy measures has, on occasion, been derided as ‘unrealistic’, ‘not pragmatic’ and ‘unresponsive’ to the needs of drug abusers… The ambitious goal of the drug-free society has been questioned not only outside the country but in Sweden itself, as a number of research papers on the subject attest. “Nevertheless, despite several reviews
with poor school performance. Additional analyses showed that those using cannabis reported lower-than-average school performance significantly more often than those who did not use cannabis (13% and 4% respectively).” Another risk factor, then, to take into account if New Zealand’s drug laws are liberalised like Holland’s. Part of the problem, however, is that a lot of damage to young people has already been done. Twenty years of publicity campaigns by pro-reformers, coupled with a reduction in police attention on marijuana crimes (except where it is for supply), have sent the same nudge-wink message bedevilling Britain, with the result that cannabis use among New Zealanders is the highest in the OECD – 22% of people over 15 have tried the drug at least once, compared to Australia in second place with 17.9%. Sweden, incidentally, has a national cannabis use figure of 2.2%. New Zealand
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prides itself on having a socially progressive outlook, the figures certainly suggest we’ve become what we promote. One who does attribute his murderous violence to his cannabis habit is Paul Ellis, who told Donna Chisholm in a Metro article last year that 10 years of heavy marijuana use turned him into a killer: “You don’t just wake up one day and you’re fully blown mad. You become mad, slowly…I had reached the point where I had pretty much burnt myself out. I’d just finished a relationship so I was going to work and coming home and spending time by myself. I ended up not really having anyone to talk to and it became a pretty lonely existence. I had physical symptoms. I was sick, I had diarrhoea. I don’t know if my body was saying ‘I’ve had enough’. That kind of lifestyle is pretty unhealthy no matter how you look at it. Any addiction that starts to take over your life, starts pretty much to drag it down. “I started to notice most things in my life- relationships with people, my work, my family- all started to become neglected, apart from my addiction. And I think that is how addictions go; it takes over. I spent more time by myself with my drugs. I started to notice something wasn’t right with me. There was a change in my thinking. I started to fall into Paranoia.” So how, then, does all this tie in with billionaire George Soros? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the major review of New Zealand’s drug policy. Exactly a year ago, the New Zealand Drug Foundation hosted a major international conference on drug policy, with a raft of overseas “experts”. Except, as the New Zealand Herald revealed, the conference was largely subsidized by George Soros’ Open Society Institute, or more specifically its Global Drug Policy Programme. “It’s a new programme, we would have been one of their first recipients, and we would have got the grant in December last year,” NZ Drug Foundation director Ross Bell told Investigate last year. Soros is a huge campaigner for the legalization of drugs, and has poured massive amounts of money into propaganda aimed at convincing politicians to follow his ideas. “Launched in 2008,” explains the Soros website, “the Global Drug Policy Program aims to shift the paradigm away from today’s punitive approach to international drug policy, to one which is rooted in public health
Soros is a huge campaigner for the legalization of drugs, and has poured massive amounts of money into propaganda aimed at convincing politicians to follow his ideas.
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and human rights. The program strives to broaden, diversify, and consolidate the network of like-minded organizations that are challenging the state of international drug policy. The program’s two main activities consist of grant-giving and, to a lesser extent, direct advocacy work. “At present, global drug policy is characterized by heavy-handed law enforcement strategies which not only fail to attain their targets of reducing drug use, production and trafficking, but also result in a documented escalation of drug-related violence, public health crises and human rights abuses. The UN High Level Meeting in March 2009 – at which a Political Declaration was drawn up following a cursory review of the past decade of international drug policy – did not bring any major break-throughs. However, the Vienna consensus was broken for the first time by a group of 26 countries who stressed their commitment to harm reduction.”
lainly, Soros is pleased that his money is beginning to have an effect in swinging political opinion his way. Among the GDPP’s aims is the idea of forcing reform, and treating drug production as a human right and an industry: Decrease the high levels of incarceration and forced institutionalization of drug users and to ensure the principle of proportionality by supporting drug policy reform at national and international levels. Increase the availability of effective and evidence-based drug treatment for drug users both in prison and out, and insist on better guidelines from the UN on defining evidence-based treatment and pain management. Generate more in-depth economic analysis on drugs-related issues, and to scale up the debate about the economic costs of current drug policies. Document and challenge law enforcement strategies which contribute to the violation of human rights and to create a network of law enforcement and legal experts who support an evidence-based approach. Document the human rights violations of farmers involved in drug production and to advocate for a rights-based approach to illicit drug production. Increase drug users’ involvement in the global debate on drug policy and ensure that the voices of drug users are present at the national and international levels. The NZ conference received $35,000 from the Soros entity, and most of the speakers at
the event turned out to be regulars on the Soros-funded harm minimization speech circuit. Professor Scott Burris of Temple University in the States, whose biography acknowledges “the Open Society Institute” as a sponsor of his work on drug policy. Professor Steve Allsop, whose work on harm minimization has been favourably quoted on the Soros website. Deborah Peterson Small, who spent eight years working for the Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance before setting up her own organization, Break The Chains. In her bio she writes: “Ms. Small is a nationally recognized leader in the drug policy reform movement and has been a major catalyst in engaging communities of color and their leaders to address the negative impacts of the war on drugs in their communities.” If it sounds like Soros paying for his propagandists to come to New Zealand and spread their message, you’d probably be pretty close to the truth. The New Zealand taxpayer also bore some of the costs of the talkfest. Interestingly, an Australian federal parliamentary investigation by the Family and Human Services Committee in 2007 found drug policy there was being captured by what it calls “drug industry elites”, and it named the Australian Drug Foundation, the Australian National Council on Drugs and a number of other entities – some of whom attended the NZ Drug Foundation conference, as culprits. “From the evidence taken by the committee in the course of its inquiry it has become quite evident that there is no universally agreed definition of harm minimisation. It clearly means different things to different people. The greatest point of difference in illicit drug policy is between those who see minimising harm as a means of achieving the illicit drug user being drug free and those who see continued use as acceptable. The term harm minimisation has been captured by those who consider themselves to be the policy elite, who want so-called reform of drug laws, such as calling for cannabis to be treated like other legal drugs and therefore legalized and taxed and treated like any other commodity. The committee considers this to be a pro-drug stance. These people also share the view of the international movement funded by George Soros to change international treaties outlawing some drugs. “The committee considers that the involvement of the ‘drug industry elites’ in the development of national illicit drug pol-
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icy is undermining the implementation of the Commonwealth’s stated ‘zero tolerance’ approach to illicit drugs. The committee believes the Commonwealth needs to wrest back control of illicit drug policy development from the states and territories and the drug industry elites. “Many of the key national illicit drug policy documents are developed by the drug industry elite.” The Australian report notes that the fox is in charge of the hen house, because ‘harm minimisation’ programmes become long term treatment programmes for drug addicts and make-work schemes for the “elites”, “who have a vested interest in supporting harm minimization approaches that do not necessarily lead to the cessation of drug use. The committee was told that the soft harm minimisation workforce was likely to cost around $500 million annually.” That’s good money if you can get it, and there are signs of similar things, albeit on a New Zealand scale, taking place on this side of the Tasman. The Ministry of Health, for example, part funds the New Zealand Drug Foundation. Two executives of the Ministry of Health, Matthew Allen and David Clarke, quit in 2001 and ended up setting up their own consultancy business on healthy policy on drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Controversially, these two men received more than $1.3 million dollars in public funding over just a few short years, most of it in contracts never put out for tender, despite public service policy requirements. Allen & Clarke have not only worked for the Ministry of Health, they have also worked for the Drug Foundation. NZDF director Ross Bell told Investigate last year that it was a requirement of the $35,000 Soros sponsorship that NZDF provide a written report on the conference. Lo and behold, the written report is entitled “Beyond 2008, New Zealand Consultation Report” and it’s written by Allen & Clarke. Specifically, it says Allen & Clarke helped organize the conference: “The meeting was organised by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, and facilitated by Ross Bell (Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation), and Brigid Borlase (Allen & Clarke). This report has been written by Allen & Clarke for the New Zealand Drug Foundation.” The report notes that participants were urged to lobby for a more “progressive” drugs law in New Zealand.
“The Misuse of Drugs Act (1975) is currently being reviewed; a move which the panel and meeting participants felt is well overdue. Speakers encouraged participants to get involved in the review and use the opportunity to support movement toward a more progressive regulatory framework for drug control policy in New Zealand.” Specifically, the conference was briefed about the Law Commission’s review of drug laws, which coincidentally is expected to be released as a public discussion document this coming month. There are strong hints in the Allen & Clarke report as to what it will contain: “They noted that the review will provide the opportunity to begin dialogue on issues that are of concern for the Government, the judiciary, the drug control and treatment sector and the public. The issues include the types of controls and penalties that should be applied to drug‐related offences; the ways that drugs should be categorised; dealing with new substances; enforcement powers; and which agencies should be responsible for administering the legislative regime. “The Commission presenters noted that criminalisation and enforcement are only parts of drug control; however they are high profile parts with significant impacts on those involved. While the terms of reference of the review specifically exclude tobacco and alcohol, the Commission is interested in ensuring that a revised legislative structure for drug control reflects the linkages between illicit drugs and other licit substances. “Participants welcomed the opportunity that the review presents, and noted that there may be the opportunity to make innovative changes that better reflect a harm minimisation approach. Participants also noted the importance of taking part in consultation opportunities, and entering into debate to encourage informed discussion of legislative frameworks for drug policy. “The Commission will develop an issues paper, followed by a consultation process. The Commission representatives noted that they welcome suggestions from NGOs and communities on who they should consult with, and the most appropriate means of consultation. “Participants reported that New Zealand’s drug policy and the international Conventions are geared too much toward supply control, with negative consequences.” You can probably see where the review of drug laws is heading. Allen & Clarke’s reports on the overhaul
The greatest point of difference in illicit drug policy is between those who see minimising harm as a means of achieving the illicit drug user being drug free and those who see continued use as acceptable
of New Zealand’s national drug policy will be integral when the Government comes to consider the issue later this year. And Allen & Clarke favour harm minimization programmes, as it lists expertise in the area on its website: “health promotion initiatives ranging from tobacco and drug control and harm minimisation strategies”. In a 2003 report compiled for the Ministry of Youth Development, entitled “Effective Drug Education For Young People”, Allen & Clarke abandon any pretence about their own feelings on drug policy: “The overall objective of any drug education programme should be a net reduction of drug-related harm. This means that a harm minimisation approach should be adopted for drug education. Harm minimisation can include a number of objectives, including abstinence or reduction in use. However, harm minimisation also emphasises realistic, evidence-based strategies, and there is evidence that “drug education programmes having [the goal of abstinence] consistently fail to produce behavioural effects” (WHO 2002). While abstinence should be available as an option for young people, drug education programmes should have other harm
minimization objectives as their focus.” In other words, push abstinence or “reduction in use” to one side, in favour of a managed pathway. Sound like a make-work scheme for bureaucrats and NGOs, at a high cost to the taxpayer? But why would a character like George Soros have an interest in legalizing drugs and “harm minimization”? Soros would argue he has philanthropic motives, others say it’s purely business. Legalising narcotics worldwide would allow business financiers like Soros to control large chunks of the drug trade, “legitimately”. They could own the opium poppy fields, pay poor peasants to harvest, control distribution and supply of drugs to market in “coffee houses” or, as NZDF director Ross Bell told Newstalk ZB this month, even “supermarkets”. So when the drug policy discussion document is released next month, you’ll know where they’re coming from, and what they want. Bell, incidentally, insists he doesn’t want drugs legalized, but does want the issue debated publicly. Looks like he got his wish. q
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The Climate Change
HOAX A TOP CLIMATE SCIENTIST SAYS WE’VE BEEN CONNED
DR WILLIAM KININMONTH is the former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre. Now, he’s warning much of what the media reports on climate is utterly wrong, and leading politicians to make stupid decisions with taxpayer money
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he topic of this article, “The climate change hoax: why Australia should oppose the emissions trading scheme”, allows a very broad canvas. I will constrain my comments to what might loosely be called the science of climate change. Unfortunately, space will only permit me to touch on a few of the more important issues, but I hope I can leave you with the impression that we are being unnecessarily alarmed about our role in climate change. For two decades, we have been consistently warned by alarmists that our fossilfuel-based energy-consuming lifestyles are
leading to dangerous global warming. We are warned that, if we do not mend our ways, we will cause the climate system to pass a tipping point leading to runaway irreversible climate change; that, some say, will have diabolical consequences. All this conjecture is based on projections from computer models, the modern equivalent of the magician’s smoke and mirrors. There are powerful vested interests across the environmental and research domains that do not want the scaremongering climate change bandwagon stopped. Added to this is the more recent emergence of technological and financial sectors that will prosper
from government-subsidised and sanctioned activities under an emission trading scheme, activities that would otherwise be uneconomical and uncompetitive. Political activists and rent-seekers are leading the global community down a path that will hinder progress, especially for less developed countries. The outcome will have no beneficial impact on climate, and will jeopardise the safety and security of everyone as constraints on energy generation systems diminish our ability to cope with known climatic extremes. As a scientist with some understanding of the Earth’s climate system and the processes
Political activists and rentseekers are leading the global community down a path that will hinder progress, especially for less developed countries
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 41
was stunted because of dallying with the possibility of continental drift. A global programme of ocean floor drilling and analysis has confirmed that the continents are indeed drifting across the not so solid Earth’s mantle.
Misrepresentation of the greenhouse effect
We are all aware of the 16th-century dispute between Galileo and the Church over whether the Earth orbited the Sun or whether the Sun orbited the Earth
that regulate our changing climate I have to say, “Stop! A terrible mistake is being made. Decisions are being taken, based on a misunderstanding of the most basic aspect of our climate system.” This is not the first time that the conventional wisdom about our Earth system has been fundamentally wrong, and is not likely to be the last. We are all aware of the 16th-century dispute between Galileo and the Church over whether the Earth orbited the Sun or whether the Sun orbited the Earth. There can be nothing more fundamental to our understanding of our place in the cosmos, and yet Galileo was threatened with torture
for challenging the prevailing consensus. Many will be aware of the early 20th-century dispute over the permanency of the place of the continents on our apparently solid Earth. Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist and polar explorer, in 1926 went to the US and presented his views on continental drift to a meeting of the American Philosophical Society. He was received with laughter; it is recorded that the president of the Society got up at the end of the presentation and called it “Utter, damned rot!” For more than forty years, any scientist who gave credence to continental drift theory was derided; many an academic career
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In the current debate over human influence on climate change there is a fundamental misrepresentation of the greenhouse effect and its enhancement by carbon dioxide. This misunderstanding is widespread, both as it is portrayed to the public and in scientific publications, including by the authors of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The misrepresentation is best illustrated by a quotation from Tim Flannery’s popular 2005 book, The Weather Makers. He says, (p28): “CO2 acts as a trigger for the potent greenhouse gas, water vapour. It does this by heating the atmosphere just a little, allowing it to take up and retain more moisture, which then warms the atmosphere further. So a positive feedback loop is created, forcing our planet’s temperature to ever-higher levels.” Greenhouse gases do not heat the atmosphere; the greenhouse gases tend to cool the atmosphere. The rate of radiation cooling is about 2°C per day. How could such a misrepresentation come about? The misrepresentation has its origins in the middle of the 19th century and the experimental work of English scientist John Tyndall. He found that as infrared radiation passes through certain gases, including water vapour and carbon dioxide, part of the radiation energy is absorbed by the gas. And with greater concentrations of these gases more energy is absorbed. Tyndall’s observations gave credibility to an idea about the Earth’s greenhouse effect proposed in the 1820s by French mathematician Joseph Fourier. Fourier’s hypothesis suggested that radiation from the sun penetrated the atmosphere and the energy absorbed in the surface was re-radiated back to space as “earth” radiation; part of this “earth” radiation was absorbed, thus warming the atmosphere. The gases also radiated energy back to the surface, thus warming the surface. In 1896, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius drew on the hypothesis of Fourier and the work of Tyndall in an attempt to explain the occurrence of ice ages. Arrhenius carried out calculations that suggested a
doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from a period of intense volcanic activity would raise the temperature of the Earth by about 5°C. Conversely, over a prolonged period of reduced volcanic activity, carbon dioxide would be absorbed in the oceans and not replenished; if concentration were to fall to half the existing value then global temperatures would fall by about 5°C, giving rise to glacial conditions. Fourier’s 1820 hypothesis is faithfully carried forward by the IPCC to its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report. In its explanation of the greenhouse effect the IPCC states (p115): “Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is absorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to Earth. This is called the greenhouse effect.” The problem is that this explanation, like Flannery’s interpretation, could not be more misleading for the public whom it is meant to guide. The greenhouse gases emit radiant energy independently of what they absorb. In the atmosphere the magnitude of emission, both to space and back to Earth, exceeds the magnitude of the radiation absorbed from the Earth below. The cooling property of the greenhouse gases has been known for more than 50 years. An Earth energy budget that quantifies the net rate of loss of energy from the atmosphere is included in the recent IPCC reports. Yet the IPCC persists with its misleading characterisation of the greenhouse effect as warming by absorption of infrared radiation.
The greenhouse effect involves more than radiation processes. The US meteorologists Herbert Riehl and Joanne Simpson (née Malkus) in 1958 described the processes for distributing the excess solar energy from the surface to offset the radiation loss of the atmosphere. The transfer is achieved by way of clouds, particularly the deep convection clouds that we observe as thunderstorms in summer and in the tropics. These clouds are driven by the buoyancy of the ascending air in their updraughts. The cloud updraughts will only achieve buoyancy if the temperature of the air decreases with height at a rate of more than 6.5°C/km. The relatively warm temperatures at the Earth’s surface are not because of the absorption of Earth’s radiation by greenhouse gases but because of the thermodynamic requirements of buoyant convection. The radiation processes contribute to the greenhouse effect and are an essential part of the flow of energy through the climate system, but it is misleading to suggest the absorption of radiation is the dominant factor. When we come to assessing the enhancement of the greenhouse effect, then it is processes associated with surface evaporation and with clouds that are also important for regulating the magnitude of response. Latent energy is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere by evaporation of water vapour. Evaporation is significant for two reasons: First, more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is made up of oceans; and, second, the rate of evaporation increases near
exponentially with surface temperature. As ocean temperature increases, there is a rapid increase in latent energy exchange; this surface energy loss is a strong constraint to further surface temperature rise. Not only are evaporation and cloud processes vitally important in the climate system but they are also amongst the most difficult to specify in computer models. It is now recognised that computer models used in the IPCC Fourth Assessment underestimate the rate of increase of evaporation with temperature by a factor of three. As a consequence, the computer models exaggerate the projected temperature rise from carbon dioxide increase and they underestimate projected rainfall.
Earth’s climate before industrialisation
A second fallacy of the anthropogenic global warming argument is the claim that Earth’s climate was stable prior to industrialisation. A hundred million years ago Earth and its climate were much different from now. India, Africa, South America and Australia were joined with Antarctica to form the super continent of Gondwanaland. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were about 1,000 ppm, three times the current concentration, and polar regions were mild. The warm ocean currents washed the shores of Gondwanaland and rainforests with diverse ecosystems covered land that is now under kilometres of ice. With time, in accordance with Alfred
As ocean temperature increases, there is a rapid increase in latent energy exchange; this surface energy loss is a strong constraint to further surface temperature rise
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Wegener’s theory of continental drift, the super continent broke up leaving only Antarctica occupying the region of the South Pole. The last separation was South America with the opening of Drake Passage. This latter had momentous impact on Earth’s climate because it allowed the formation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that now girdles the Antarctic continent. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current effectively isolates Antarctica from warmer subtropical oceans. This separation from the warm waters caused Antarctica to cool and mountain glaciers develop. Also winter sea ice formed around the coastal margins. The cold and saline water under coastal sea ice is dense and sinks to the ocean floor. Over millions of years the once warm oceans stratified as cold waters filled the depths and occupied the ocean interior. The thermohaline circulation, with sinking cold polar water, continues today and maintains the cold ocean interior. About 3.5 million years ago the Earth’s climate took a dramatic turn that is clearly recorded in the marine skeletons accumulating in the sediments of the ocean floor. Not only did the ocean surface temperature take on a cooling trend but the temperature began to fluctuate with ever-increasing magnitude. Episodes of increasing cold were followed by brief returns to near the earlier warmer temperatures. Ice cores from Antarctica confirm the oscillation between glacial and interglacial conditions over the last half million years, each cycle lasting about 100,000 years. At the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago carbon dioxide levels had fallen to about 180 ppmv and the climate was very different from now. • Great ice sheets more than a kilometre thick covered North America and northern Europe, much as Greenland and Antarctica are covered today. The southern boundaries of the North American sheet stretched from Vancouver, through St Louis to New York, and the European sheet reached down to London. • The 130 m drop in sea level meant that there were land bridges linking Australia with Tasmania and New Guinea; the waterway separating Australia from Asia was only about 150 km wide at the Timor Trench. The now pristine coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef were then limestone cliffs. • The climate of Australia was cooler and much drier. Inland was arid and windblown sand formed extensive dunes that still
characterise much of the Central Australian landscape. During the glacial periods there were frequent periods when the climate changed very quickly, and for reasons that we do not understand. There is evidence from the Greenland ice cores of quite sudden regional temperature rises of about 10°C over a century, known as Dansgard-Oeschger events. Ocean sediment cores from the North Atlantic Ocean also identify sudden increases in the rate of iceberg formation during the last glacial epoch. These Heinrich events are characterised by sediment layers with an increase in granular soil material, or ice rafting debris, in the structure. The granular material comes from melting of icebergs whose origins can be traced to the land bounding the Hudson Strait and from eastern Greenland. A great global warming event commenced about 19,000 years ago and it changed the landscape of Earth. The temperature of the equatorial oceans rose only about 3°C, but the North American and European ice sheets melted and their place was taken by the modern boreal forests. Sea level rose about 130 metres over about 8,000 years to reach near present elevations about 11,000 years ago. Tasmania and New Guinea were isolated from the Australian mainland, and coral growth followed the sea level rise; today’s pristine coral reefs are of relatively recent origin. During much of the last 10,000 years, a period known as the Holocene, temperatures were generally slightly warmer than now and lands wetter. The semi-arid and desert lands now covering much of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Australia were, until relatively recently, better vegetated with grass and woodlands. This is the period during which human civilisation evolved. The advocates of dangerous humancaused global warming claim that the Earth’s climate has been continually mild and equable over the past 10,000 years before the onset of industrialisation. The widespread evidence for climatic variability during this period challenges their proposition. In 1966, before human-caused global warming was a matter of public debate, the English historian Kenneth Clark wrote: “There have been times in the history of man when the earth seems suddenly to have grown warmer or more radioactive. ... I don’t put that forward as a scientific proposition, but the fact remains that three or four times in history man has made a leap forward that would have
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The advocates of dangerous human-caused global warming claim that the Earth’s climate has been continually mild and equable over the past 10,000 years before the onset of industrialisation. The widespread evidence for climatic variability during this period challenges their proposition INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 45
been unthinkable under ordinary evolutionary conditions. One such time was about the year 3,000 BC, when quite suddenly civilisation appeared, not only in Egypt and Mesopotamia but in the Indus Valley; another was in the late 6th century BC, when not only was there the miracle of Iona and Greece ... but also in India in a spiritual enlightenment that has perhaps never been equalled. Another was about the year 1100. It seems to have affected the whole world; but its strongest and most dramatic effect was in Western Europe. ...” Each of these periods of flourishing human culture can be linked to climatic warmth. They were times of plenty with ample food production to sustain the populations and support trade. As the Roman legions advanced west and north during the first century BC they planted their crops and vines, eventually to northern England. Julius Caeser built a bridge to cross the Rhine River and subdue the Germanic tribes; the Rhine remained an effective barrier for 500 years. Temperatures declined during the early centuries of the first millennium. There is strong evidence from that time of advancing glaciers over the Rocky Mountains of North America and the European Alps. In England, Saxon settlements continued to decline for more than a century after the withdrawal of the Romans in the early 5th century. As the Roman Empire declined, the Vandals were able to freely cross the Rhine River, frozen in winter, and spread across south-western Europe. The period from about 800AD to 1200AD is known as the Medieval Warm Period. The Norse settled Iceland and coastal parts of Greenland, and at its peak Greenland comprised more than 3,000 individual settlements. This was also a period of generally increased food production across Europe that enabled major construction activities, including the many cathedrals that survive from the period. The onset of cooler conditions commenced in the late 1200s. There is archaeological evidence that rural Europe was in decline in the half-century before the onset of the Black Death that killed up to a third of the population in 1348. The last Greenland settlement perished about 1550. It was not constant cold during the centuries of the Little Ice Age. Cold was at its worst in the 17th century. The duration of glacier advance in the French Alps during the 15th century and their persistence from the 16th to the 18th century is well docu-
mented by the French historian Emmanuel Ladurie. During this latter period, coastal sea ice was a regular feature that prevented winter navigation around Iceland. Winter frost fairs were common as many rivers of Europe again periodically froze. The London diarist John Evelyn describes the 1683-84 freezing of the Thames River from late December to early February. He wrote: “Conditions were terrible with men and cattle perishing and the seas locked with ice such that no vessels could stir out or come in. The fowls, fish and birds and exotic plants and greens were universally perishing. Food and fuel were exceptionally dear and coal smoke hung so thickly that one could scarcely see across the street and one could scarcely breathe.” This description of life is not some Arcadian climate that we are led to believe existed in pre-industrial times. It is certainly not a climate state that we should voluntarily attempt to achieve by way of carbon dioxide reduction. There is no convincing evidence that the climate of the late 20th century is unusual or unprecedented. There is abundant evidence that Earth has warmed since the late 1600s as climate generally recovered from the Little Ice Age. The warming commenced at least two centuries before industrial emissions of carbon dioxide began their modern expansion in the early 1940s. Over the past three centuries there has been ongoing reduction in wintertime coastal sea ice in many parts of the North Atlantic; settlements have again been established in Greenland; there has been contraction poleward of wintertime freezing of European rivers; and the worldwide retreat of mountain glaciers is well documented. All these commenced well before the massive increase in fossil fuel use of the middle to late 20th century.
More recent global temperatures
The global temperature record as measured by instruments is available since 1850, but its veracity prior to about 1900 is questionable. The earliest data are sparse and of doubtful quality because they preceded the first National Meteorological Services with dedicated observations programs that only came into existence in the 1870s. International standards of instrumentation and observing procedures only date from about 1900. The global temperature record since 1900 suggests an overall rise of about 0.6°C. The warming was mainly over two periods, 1910-
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1940 and 1975-1998, with declining temperatures between. Unfortunately, the historical temperature records tend to be sparse prior to 1950 and averages may not be globally representative. In addition, since the 1980s there has been a widespread change in measuring technology as automated recording instruments have been introduced widely to replace the manually read mercury-in-glass thermometers. There are regional differences in temperature record characteristics. For example, the temperature records from Uppsala and Stockholm that are continuous from the middle 1700s identify the 1780s, the 1930s and the recent decade as equally warm periods. In the US, where records go back to the late 1800s, the 1930s were as warm as the recent decade. In Australia, the middle 1970s marks an apparent 0.5°C warming shift. Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney have temperature records extending back to the middle 1800s. Prior to “Black Saturday” of February 2009, the extreme daily maximum temperatures of each were recorded during a prolonged and spatially extensive heat wave over south-eastern Australia in January 1939. New extreme maximum temperatures over parts of Victoria were set in the days leading up to and on “Black Saturday” during another heat wave. Regularly in the press there are announcements of new indicators of so-called unprecedented global warming, mostly relating to the Arctic. On examination these are found to be unsubstantiated, or there is no historical benchmark against which to judge the veracity of the claims. Many of the medieval Norse settlements of Greenland remain icebound. This suggests that in that region temperatures were generally warmer during the Medieval Period than they are today. Satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice that commenced in 1979 has shown a diminishing trend. However, written accounts clearly identify a major warming episode that commenced about 1918 and continued into the 1940s. In 1944, the ice-fortified schooner St Roch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sailed the North West Passage from Halifax to Vancouver in one season. The written accounts indicate that regional sea ice and coastal glacier extent now are greater than the earlier period. A recent voyage into the eastern Arctic Ocean by an ice-strengthened German freighter through the Eastern Passage has been highlighted, but this ignores the Russian sum-
The passes have opened and closed as temperature and ice conditions have varied and confirm that the present warmth has precedents
mer fleet that has been operating in the same region since 1934. Some high mountain passes of the European Alps are now accessible as permanent snow and ice have melted. Archaeological studies, based on the dating of items discarded by travellers, point to these passes having previously been used as transport routes. The passes have opened and closed as temperature and ice conditions have varied and confirm that the present warmth has precedents. The evidence supports the proposition that the current warmth of the Earth is not unusual. Climate over the past 10,000 years was not steady. The wider picture is that the current interglacial was at it warmest between 8,000 and 4,000 years ago and that temperatures have been slowly declining since in a series of irregular fluctuations. The concept of a stable benign climate prior to human industrialisation is one that has little relationship to historical and proxy climate records.
Two final points There are two final points that I would like to make in relation to climate science. First, although carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas, its additional potency with increased concentration is declining. The radiation forcing from doubling concentration from 50 ppm to 100 ppm is the same as doubling from the current concentration of near 400 ppm to 800 ppm. Additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a rapidly declining impact. Second, it is important to emphasise that the Earth’s surface is 70 per cent ocean. As the ocean surface warms there is a rapid increase in evaporation and exchange of latent energy that constrains surface temperature rise. A critical failing of the computer models used to project future temperatures is their underestimation, by a factor of three, of the rate of increase of evaporation. As a consequence they exaggerate future temperature rise and underestimate future increase in rainfall. Additional carbon dioxide in the atmo-
sphere can only cause limited enhancement to the natural greenhouse effect. The constant replenishment of the cold water of the ocean interior means that the concepts of tipping points and runaway irreversible global warming are absurdities. This article first appeared in Australia’s National Observer. William Kininmonth is a meteorologist who has had a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years. For more than a decade, from 1986 to 1998, he was head of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, with responsibilities for monitoring Australia’s changing climate and advising the Commonwealth Government on the extent and severity of climate extremes, including the recurring drought episodes of the 1990s. He was Australian delegate to the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology (1982-98), including two terms on its management board. William Kininmonth is author of the book, Climate Change: A Natural Hazard (UK: Multi-Science Publishing Co, 2004), ISBN: 9780906522264.
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Where did the aid money go? In the aftermath of this month’s devastating Haitian earthquake, there’s a unique opportunity to rebuild the country from the ground up, but not before we find out where billions in previous aid payments went, writes SCOTT HIAASEN
ith a fleet of naval ships and a $100 million pledge from President Barack Obama, the United States has committed not only to lead emergency relief efforts in Haiti, but to shepherd the country’s long-term recovery from this month’s earthquake.
But over the years, billions of US dollars in aid – often delivered after hurricanes or political coups – has failed to produce any signs of lasting progress in a country that remains the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Half a billion dollars to improve roads, for instance, largely went to waste as the Haitian government failed to follow up with maintenance. Tens of millions for new electricity was squandered as the power company went bankrupt – amplifying an environmental domino effect that has left Haiti painfully vulnerable to natural disasters. U.S. revival plans drawn up for Haiti have continually shifted course, as new emergencies forced the donor community to halt one project midstream only to tackle the next. Even with Haiti among the largest recipients of U.S. aid, the money flow has barely touched the nation’s poor, studies, interviews and U.S. relief reports show. “Invest in everything and hope it works,” Terry Buss, a public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Miami Herald last year. “There are hundreds of projects in play at any given time in Haiti. They are generally too small to make a difference in most cases, but they look good in donor agency annual reports.” There are reasons for donor nations to at least hope the coming tidal wave of aid won’t be squandered. Before the earthquake, the international community had
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TOP:The Rejouis family in happier times. Husband Emmanuel and older daughters Kofie-Jade, 5, and Zenzie, 3, died in the earthquake. Youngest daughter Alyahna, 2, and her mother Emily Sanson-Rejouis are now recovering with relatives./NZPA. MIDDLE: People crash the gate after the United Nations’ World Food Program completed distribution of supplies to earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. BOTTOM: Earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince try to resume some semblance of normal life with shortages of food and clean water / NEWSCOM
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noted increased stability under President Rene Preval. Some groups are pressing for a commission to oversee the flow of assistance, similar to one created in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch killed 9,000 in Nicaragua. As the special U.S. envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton has the star power to both drum up dollars and pressure Haiti to insist they be used properly. But in freeing up the $100 million, the U.S. did not announce safeguards to ensure past mistakes aren’t repeated. And the sheer scope of the tragedy makes this, most assuredly, the most challenging recovery effort ever in Haiti. Even before the massive earthquake, Haiti struggled to provide the most basic services to its people. Almost half the country had no access to safe drinking water. The electric company reached just 10 percent of the people. The grid of passable roads shrank between 1991 and 2004 – while the population swelled past 9 million in a nation smaller than Maryland (about the size of Otago). At times, the donors themselves have questioned whether their efforts in Haiti have done any good. “Lending has had little impact,” concluded a 2002 World Bank review of eight years of redevelopment work in Haiti. “It would be hard to argue that, with few exceptions, the country is any better off for having borrowed at all.” Donors have largely blamed these failures on Haiti’s government, alternately described as weak or corrupt. In recent years, the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $20 million annually to bolster the government, providing finance experts to ministries, coaching the parliament and trying to reform the paralyzed justice system. Yet corruption remains “endemic and systematic,” according to a 2006 USAID report, and the country is ranked 168 out of 180 in a corruption index compiled by the watchdog group Transparency International. Because of these concerns, the U.S. has refused to give money directly to the Haitian government; instead, it funnels aid through nongovernmental organizations. But the two largest other donors to the country, the World Bank and the InterAmerican Development Bank, deal directly with the government – often with frustrating results. Take, for example, the history of Haiti’s road system – declared “abysmal” by the World Bank. Bank experts have said the lack of paved roads in the country’s rural areas has
An Act Of God
Haitians look to the heavens for explanation after church crumbles, writes Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The woman wails outside the ruins of Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Portau-Prince, the iconic Roman Catholic cathedral that symbolized Haiti’s religious fervor. “This is what God did,” she cries. “See what God can do!” The earthquake brought down the roof of the enormous pink-and-cream church, filling the apse and nave with tons of rubble. The quake punched out its vivid stained glass windows, twisted its wrought iron fencing and sliced brick walls like cake. The western steeple, which had soared more than 30 metres in the sky, toppled onto parishioners praying at an outdoor shrine to St. Emmanuel. Flies buzz around the pile of copper, plaster and felled columns. The senior Catholic figure in the country, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, was killed in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake. As many as 100 priests were still missing, says sacristan Jean Claude Augustin. By the cathedral’s ruins, a small blue copy of the New Testament lies to one side. Sheet music from Christian hymns is scattered through the street. Haiti is, officially, predominantly Catholic, with some Protestant faiths. But across the board is an underlying belief in, or respect for, voodoo and other occult traditions, which are often mixed in with formal religious practices. Former Haitian President Bertrand Aristide was at one time wildly popular in part for his blend of superstitious spirituality, social activism and Catholic faith. Many have turned to God for an explanation of this catastrophe visited upon Haiti. Tens of thousands of earthquake survivors have been spending the nights in the streets, singing hymns and calling out the Gospel. Dudu Orelian, whose brother and nephew were killed, stands outside the cathedral. “God is angry at the world,” Orelian notes, sadly. Jack Fisner, a Haitian seminarian who lives in the Dominican Republic, came to Port-au-Prince to begin coordinating aid and prepare a report for the pope. “This has been a terrible blow to the church and the people. You have to question your faith, but hopefully not lose it.” Augustin, the sacristan, clambers like a billy goat into the interior ruins of the Cathedral, skillfully scaling the mounds of rubble and downed chandeliers. He finds a young man attempting to raid the collection box of its money and persuades him to stop. Instead, the two men work together to salvage the tithes, gathering up the coins and bills in a sheet.
The statue of Notre Dame, familiar to anyone who ever worshipped in the cathedral, is gone, either destroyed or stolen. Behind the cathedral, the church’s pastoral center, which gave religion classes, and the residences of most of the church leadership and its priests are also destroyed. As we stand here, hope remains that the church’s general vicar, an active, popular Haitian priest in his 80s, might still be alive. Father Charles Benoit, buried under a collapsed four-story building that contained his residence, had managed to get a cellular telephone call out to Francois Voleile, a lifetime parishioner, two days earlier. He said he was unharmed and had water and juice, but no way out. Voleile has been keeping vigil at the site ever since, while a couple of other survivors armed with a tiny mallet and pocket flashlight, tried to work their way into a small opening on the side of the mountain of rubble. But 55 hours later, they were getting nowhere. At mid-morning, a group of search-and-rescuers arrive from Mexico, the so-called “topos” (moles) who go around the world to extract disaster survivors caught in terrible circumstances. The Mexican team send the rescue effort at the cathedral into full gear, using ropes to pull off sheets of laminated roofing and expose more rubble below.
With local residents helping, they use pick axes and shovels to tear into the top of the mound and create three possible entry ways. They thought they heard occasional sounds to indicate life. They clear plaster, beams, drawers full of papers and clothes, tossing everything into a widening heap; only occasionally does one of the crew members pause to salvage something – a red priest’s stole, then a copper chalice. He gingerly hands them to other members of the team. “It is overwhelming, such destruction in a place already destroyed,” says Sister Berta Lopez Chavez, who adds that, the day before, the team had worked at a Catholic school, pulling out three live children and the bodies of about 30 others. “Haiti lives two realities: this catastrophe, and their catastrophe of every day, of poverty and ignorance and daily hunger. It’s like, what else can happen to them? The little they had is gone.” About three hours after the team from Mexico launched its efforts, a team from Lincolnshire County, England, arrives with their black Labrador, Holly. Everyone is ordered off the hill and the dog runs back and forth to inspect the scene. But Holly finds no definitive sign of life. The team from England abandons the search, leaving a smaller Russian team with a dog to do a second survey. “We are not discouraged,” parishioner Voleile shrugs. “We are still alive and we can go on.”
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stifled economic growth, forcing many farmers to get their goods to market by foot or mule. Since 1956, the World Bank and the IDB have approved at least $500 million in road projects in Haiti, records show. Yet the road network – much of it first built by U.S. Marines during a 19-year occupation that ended in 1934 – continued to deteriorate over the decades. Why? The banks blame the Haitian government for refusing to pay for road maintenance. Spending on road maintenance nationwide dipped as low as $14,000 in 1995, records show. Expansion projects financed with foreign aid were instead cannibalized to repair existing roads, leaving no money for new roads. Similarly, the two development banks have approved $136 million since 1976 to improve the country’s electric system. By 2008, the electric company was financially bankrupt, and serving less than one million of the country’s nine million citizens with only five to eight hours of power per day. “We are spending a lot of money to repair roads we have financed in the past. The same with electrical lines,” Phillipe Dewez, the head of IDB’s Port-au-Prince office, said last year. “There is no policy of maintenance.” In some cases, the Haitian government failed to follow through at all, and left tens of millions of dollars sitting in the bank, before donors took the money back. The lack of reliable power has left the country with a rudimentary economy, and forced the populace to turn to charcoal for fuel. This has fed a vicious environmental cycle rendering this tropical country devoid of 97 percent of its tree cover, making barren hillsides vulnerable to flooding and mudslides. Before the earthquake, Haiti was already among the largest recipients of U.S. assistance in the world, with about $280 million budgeted this year for HIV/AIDS prevention, food aid, security, agriculture, economic development and other programs. Haiti has received at least $2.7 billion from the U.S. since 1990, records show. Some critics say the U.S. and other donors have employed a “shotgun” approach to aid, touching a litany of problems without making an impression on any of them. The U.S. has also repeatedly shifted its goals in the country, often in response to natural disasters or political chaos, and making long-term success less likely. In 2006, for example, USAID signed the nonprofit CHF International to a $100 mil52 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
Widespread damage to residential areas in Portau-Prince
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lion contract to bring jobs – both short-term and long-term – to some of Haiti’s most volatile urban neighborhoods. In the first year – at a time of high tension when U.N. peacekeepers struggled to control the dangerous slums – the NGO provided short-term jobs through small-scale road and canal construction projects, a timetested method using cash to curb violence. The project then shifted, to focus on training for potential textile jobs in Port-au-Prince. Then, last year, USAID changed the focus again, and told CHF to concentrate on food production. CHF had to move much of its operation from Port-au-Prince and southern Haiti to the country’s agricultural region to the north. The CHF project, first intended to create 10,000 long-term jobs, had created just 1,000 before the earthquake. Haiti has been so volatile in recent years that the country – and the foreign aid community – have been in a state of perpetual emergency response. Rebellion forced former President JeanBertrand Aristide from power in 2004, sparking two years of political chaos. Tropical Storm Jeanne also struck the country in 2004, killing more than 3,000 people near the city of Gonaives. Four more storms in a two-month span displaced more than 150,000 people in 2008. Along with additional money, donors typically responded to each of these crises by shifting their aid to deal with the latest problem – such as storm-warning equipment and flood barrier projects on the rivers around Gonaives after the storms, or financing elections after Aristide’s ouster. The U.S. and other donors will likely respond the same way to the earthquake, which hobbled the country’s capital and crippled every major institution. The IDB is already planning to shift $90 million from existing development programs to postearthquake reconstruction. The World Bank has also pledged an emergency $100 million grant devoted to long-term recovery efforts. The Haitian government will choose how to spend the money, but the bank expects it will be used to enhance existing development projects, said World Bank spokesman Alejandro Cedeno. The White House did not detail how the president’s $100 million pledge would be used, but it appears aimed at immediate emergency efforts: USAID said it had already committed $85 million to disaster 54 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
TOP: The presidental palace displays heavy damage. BOTTOM (L-R): A young woman prays at the site of the collapsed National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince / Destroyed building in the seaport of Jacmel / A man covers his face from the constant smell of death in downtown Port-au-Prince NEWSCOM
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relief by the end of the second week. Obama suggested this is just the first round of aid. Audits of USAID’s responses to past Haitian disasters have generally given the agency good marks for dispensing needed food and supplies through NGOs and accounting for it. But USAID has been less successful at reconstruction. A study by the Government Accountability Office following Tropical Storm Jeanne found that USAID had repaired less than 500 homes in Haiti – not the 3,000 originally planned – and the agency failed to meet its 2005 deadline to repair 20 miles of road. USAID said the $34 million project was hampered by threats of kidnapping to contractors and escalating construction costs. Donors say coordination among themselves and with the Haitian government has improved since the election of Preval in
2006, and since United Nations peacekeepers brought better security. U.S. and foreign donors say better financial practices by the government have given them more confidence, leading to a marked increase in foreign aid in recent years. Before the earthquake, special envoy Clinton said the country was in the best position for improvement in decades. The World Bank is now financing 14 projects in Haiti worth $308 million, building new schools, bridges and roads. Cedeno said the projects were “working well” before the earthquake – their status is now unknown – and the bank was confident Preval’s government, though wounded, would be able to manage the recovery in the long term. “What this situation is giving us is an opportunity to build better,” Cedeno said. But Haiti’s past offers a caution. In 1994, after U.S. soldiers dispatched a
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10 year-old Naika Snyder has her bed inclined by rocks in a makeshift clinic outside a Port-au-Prince / NEWSCOM
military dictator and restored Aristide to the presidency, Haiti’s fledgling government began receiving vast sums of aid from around the globe. The World Bank later concluded that all that money was too much, too fast, that the Haitian government was unprepared for the scale of reconstruction, and most of the money had gone to waste. “The large amount of aid that poured into Haiti in the mid-1990s accomplished little, and may have even had a negative impact by overwhelming government’s capacity,” a bank study found. q
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The New Slavery EPIDEMIC
They live among us but, as PETER CURSON writes, we just don’t see them
hen we think about slavery, if indeed we ever think about it at all, we tend to think about the period prior to the 20th century when millions were forcibly transported from Africa to the Americas and beyond. Few would think that slavery continues to exist in our 21st century world. But nothing could be further from the truth. Indenture and the global slave trade are alive and well and continue to be important in at least 135 countries in the world, and it is probable that the numbers of people being trafficked across and within borders is greater than at any time in human history. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promised that no one should be held in slavery or servitude. Today, more than 60 years later and 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade, it is estimated that there are more people in bonded and forced labour in the world than the total number who were transported during the 300 years of the slave trade. Human trafficking can be found all around the world in China, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, Russia and the former Soviet states, the EU, America and Australia. It involves moving people across
and within borders and placing them in conditions of forced labour. The practice includes forced prostitution, domestic servitude, sweatshop labour, agriculture labour, as well as construction and restaurant work. Trafficking differs from people smuggling which involves the consent of the individual to be illegally transported across borders to a destination. There is little doubt that human trafficking has become big business and may well now represent the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It may also now produce the third largest source of profits for organised crime after drugs and guns, generating billions of dollars every year. The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) most recent global report indicated profits in excess of $31billion flowing directly from human trafficking. Human trafficking is a process which evolves through a number of significant phases. The first, involves a ‘recruitment’ or ‘abduction’ phase in the country of origin or another country, usually via a variety of methods involving deception, indebtedness and coercion. The ‘transportation’ phase may involve smuggling or normal transportation which may involve bribery of officials and document forgery. ‘Receipt’ involves the bedding down of people into a forced labour
situation, the objective being exploitation during which the individual is forced into sexual or labour servitude. Finally, ‘Return’ is marked by income generation and inevitably, profit laundering. In trafficking, one common form of coercion is by the use of a bond or debt which locks a person into a lengthy period of servitude. Debt bondage enslaves huge numbers of people trafficked in the world. Another common form of forced labour is where domestic workers are locked into a form of involuntary domestic servitude, where their passports are confiscated and they are often involved in informal shared accommodation. Child soldiering is a more recent, unique and severe variant of trafficking, whereby children are forcibly recruited as labourers, soldiers or for sexual exploitation. Trafficked people are migrants, but they are migrants with a difference. Like most migrants they seek to escape poverty and discrimination and secure a better life in another place. But they have been procured, deceived, mislead, and sometimes terrorised, by a raft of promises and actions, into a situation of indenture, servitude and exploitation. Even when there is an element of consent it is often submerged under a cloak of deception.
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Once trafficked, most people become cut off from the wider community and often suffer a variety of physical and psychological health problems. Ignorant of local laws, and forced to engage in work that is poorly paid, if at all, they are kept in a secluded environment of physical violence and continual threat. Trafficking is not new. In the 16th century it was associated with trading and by the late 19th century it had swept up large numbers of vulnerable individuals. In the last few decades of the 19th century European pimps and ‘white slavers’ established a hugely successful global market in trafficking people for commercial sex. Gangs from London to Buenos Aires and from New York to Cape Town organised the rape and indenture of young women from Eastern Europe who were then traded and exported to various parts of the world.
ne of the key questions remains – just how significant is human trafficking globally? The ILO estimates that there are 12.3 million people in some form of bonded or forced labour in the world at any given time. Other estimates range from 4 to 27 million. While it is impossible to get accurate figures on the numbers involved, it is more than likely that between 800,000 and 1 million people are trafficked across borders and millions more traded domestically each year. At any one time there may well be at least 5 million people who have been trafficked and are currently in some form of forced labour. While most attention has focused on trafficking for sexual exploitation, between 25 and 33 percent of all those trafficked are destined exclusively for domestic labour, agricultural work or labouring in an industry such as food processing or catering. The majority of those trafficked today are women and children from Asia, more than one-third of whom are under the age of 18 years. Not all are escaping poverty, a rural background or are uneducated. Many have completed some years of formal schooling. In Hong Kong, for example, many Filipinos in domestic service were once teachers and nurses. In Russia and Eastern Europe many trafficked women come from urban backgrounds and some have University degrees. In our immediate region, Asia remains the most important origin and destination area for trafficking. China and Thailand rank very highly as points of origin followed by Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand,
Nepal, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. As destination areas, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore rank highly. Often the actual route undertaken involves multiple transit points and coordination by organised crime groups. One example, documented by the UN’s project on human trafficking, indicates the complexity of the route of people trafficked from the Philippines. Small groups, recruited by Filipino crime networks were flown from Manila to Bangkok, where apparently it is easier to successfully apply for a Hungarian visa, and then by air to Budapest. From there they were taken in small groups by van to Slovenia and from there by van or on foot to Italy. But what of Australia and New Zealand? There seems little doubt that Australia is a destination for under age young women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation from Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan and China and possibly Eastern Europe. It is possible that there are more than 1,000 young women trafficked into Australia every year. Some are encouraged by unscrupulous recruiters to apply for student visas in real of false names or to file asylum claims. On a more modest scale the same would seem true for New Zealand where some young women are recruited or elect to engage in prostitution under the control of pimps and gangs. In both countries some young women who have migrated legally to work in prostitution have found themselves swept up in a cycle of debt bondage and enforced servitude. It is not unusual for such women to have to repay debts in excess of A$40,000. This would also seem to apply to some Pacific Island and Asian men illegally recruited for temporary work, who eventually find themselves locked into forced labour situations, where their travel documents are often withheld and they are subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Even those who make the journey legitimately to engage in seasonal agricultural labour or as health-care workers can sometimes find themselves placed in positions of debt bondage or ‘restricted servitude’ by recruitment agencies charging them extortionate fees and confiscating their passports. While both Australia and New Zealand recognise the need to eliminate trafficking and have laws that prohibit all forms of human indenture and servitude, Australia has gone further by legislating specific antitrafficking laws with high penalties, chan-
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Today, more than 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade, it is estimated that there are more people in bonded and forced labour in the world than the total number who were transported during the 300 years of the slave trade
Elisa Lopez lived in Postville, Iowa, through the sixth grade, but returned with her family to San Jose Calderas, Guatemala, before the Agriprocessors raid in 2008. In her small highland village, she has had no school to attend. Lopez stands in a shed behind the family’s home where water is heated over an open fire./Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT
nelling aid to countries in the region in an effort to alleviate the conditions that nurture trafficking, pursuing offenders and by campaigns to raise public awareness about child sex tourism and the sexual exploitation of children. While New Zealand complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking it needs to follow Australia’s example by enacting and enforcing laws with high penalties and implement a more active anti-trafficking campaign in the region as well as among the general New Zealand public. The bottom line, however, remains the fact that human trafficking to Australia and New Zealand remains poorly understood and poorly documented. Much of the information we have rests on guesswork and hearsay. Obtaining detailed information is severely hampered by the environment of threat and violence that surrounds trafficking and the lack of cooperation of victims stemming from fear
and the shame and stigma associated with prostitution. Trafficking is steeped in human tragedy. It involves a commercial transaction in which humans are simply relegated to the status of traded goods. Most people remember the 58 Chinese found suffocated in the back of a truck bound for Dover from Belgium in 2000, or the 21 Chinese cocklepickers drowned by an incoming tide on a Lancashire beach in 2004. But what about the tens of thousands of young girls traded into the brothels of Mumbai or Bangkok or the thousands of bonded labourers in Pakistan forced to work long hours to repay impossible debts. Or indeed the thousands of young Bangladeshi girls forced to work in brothels in Eastern India or the boys sold from impoverished Indian families to weave carpets in Varanasi and Badoi? The list is endless and attests to the human tragedy involved in the trafficking industry. Compared to the total number of peo-
ple being trafficked and the huge profits involved, the number of convictions remains pitifully small. It is clear that slavery has never been abolished but was simply driven underground and continues to persist in many forms to this day. Despite growing public awareness and governments’ acknowledgment of the problem and the need to do something about it, human trafficking remains a poorly understood and researched phenomenon. There remains a lack of hard data and only a very hazy understanding of the level, patterns and routes of this illicit activity. All this hinders government intervention and mitigation. But in the final analysis it remains to our shame that we continue to regard those trafficked as criminals rather than as victims and that we continue to do little to stop this trafficking in humans. New Zealander Peter Curson is Professor of Population and Security, at the Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney. q
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The COMING CHINA CRISIS A leading financial expert says China’s boom will end soon, and the world needs to be prepared, as CHRIS OLIVER reports
fter more than a quarter-century of rapid growth, China’s factoryto-the-world economy could now be set for a major slowdown, even as it tries to spend its way to strength, according to an expert on the causes of the global financial crisis. Noted economist and author Richard Duncan believes that, faced with sluggish global growth and a tapped-out U.S. consumer, there’s little hope that China can keep its factory-geared economy in motion much longer. “China has followed an export-led growth model for the last 25 years, and it has just hit a brick wall when the U.S. economy went into crisis,” Bangkok-based Duncan says in an interview with MarketWatch. Duncan is the former London-based head of global investment strategy at ABN Amro. In 2003 he wrote The Dollar Crisis, which warned that imbalances in global trade would lead to a meltdown of the financial system. Duncan now believes China is caught in a jam created by excessive credit. Years of easy lending and booming investment inflows have saddled its economy with surplus industrial capacity to the point where China out-produces what it consumes. Expectations that Beijing can spark up domestic consumption to fill the void are bound to disappoint, he says, as wages
are too low to support enough meaningful demand to lift the corporate sector to profitability. Beyond that, Duncan doubts China can avoid its day of reckoning after years of super-heated credit growth. Dubai’s debtinduced implosion last year significantly shortened the list of those who’ve manage to avoid becoming casualties of financial history, he said. “Every boom busts ... and China is not going to remain an exception indefinitely,” Duncan says. China is not alone in facing up to a slowdown in economic growth. Most of Asia’s export-dependant economies will struggle as the global slump proves structural rather than merely cyclical, he argues. Keeping currencies weak relative to the dollar in an effort to bolster exports is no longer a viable option for economic growth, Duncan says. Duncan’s latest work – “The Corruption of Capitalism: A Strategy to Rebalance the Global Economy and Restore Economic Growth” – looks at why the global financial system imploded and comes to some stark conclusions. He says that there’s no hope of resuscitating a global trade system underpinned by “monetary LSD” – borrowing a phrase used by a French economic minister during the 1970s
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to describe the floating exchange-rate system that followed the end of the gold standard. The credit bubble which drove U.S. home prices to their heights of 2006 – the same year the U.S. current-account deficit swelled to nearly $800 billion – was the culmination of monetary disorder that began with the demise of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s, Duncan says.
he subsequent crash that wiped out most of the U.S. banking system amounts to a “New Depression,” where the global economy still teeters on the edge of an abyss – held up by the life-line of government aid. And that government support, Duncan believes, is likely to become a permanent part of the financial landscape for years, if not decades to come. “Japan serves as a very good example of what’s likely to happen in the U.S. and China.” The good news is that the U.S government should be able to finance huge budget deficits without resorting to printing yet more money, he says, adding that Japan has been able to do just that since the 1990s. The breathing room from such deficitfunded spending will provide the former engine of the global economy a window of roughly five to 10 years to restructure around high-tech industries of the future. The key, he says, is not to squander the stimulus. Japan’s public debt ballooned from 65 percent to more than 200 percent of its gross domestic product during its two-decade long crisis, mainly through public-works programs sometimes derided as “bridges to nowhere.” While such projects helped to cushion joblessness, they did little to fix core economic problems. Duncan advocates an aggressive approach of trillion-dollar-plus backing for industries such as solar energy and biotechnology. The idea would be to give the U.S. an “unassailable” lead in frontier technologies. That means producing goods that the world needs and which can’t be produced elsewhere at cheaper prices. Nations that benefited most from globalization are, conversely, the most at risk in the new era, with China barreling down a dangerous path of well-intentioned but misguided policy. Beijing’s combined stimulus spending and government-directed bank lending amounted to a staggering 40 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 – that’s just a few percentage points short of outlays by
the U.S. government during the height of World War II. Duncan is worried that as China tries to spend its way out of the problem, it’s really just making things worse. Last year’s stimulus package, he says, gave a jolt to the economy much like shot of Red Bull that will wear off over time. “It tells you how terribly wrong things are there.” To maintain growth of 8 percent this year, banks will need to crank out another round of lending equivalent to 30 percent of GDP. Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren said earlier this month that his country is planning something along those lines. The central government has budgeted 992.7 billion yuan (US$145 billion) on public investment this year, according to reports by the staterun Xinhua news agency.
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What’s troubling is that the expanded spending and new loans from state-owned banks will bolster production capacity, fuelling excess, and inevitably compounding deflation. “So now they have expanded that capacity by that much more, and they have no one to sell it to,” Duncan says, adding that the mood in Beijing must be one of “panic” as they assess the unfolding situation. But he was also careful to point out that China is not on the verge of collapse. In fact, further gains in Chinese asset prices are possible. Stocks and property prices in mainland China, as well as those in Singapore and Hong Kong, could extend their rallies, depending on the policy response from Beijing. But, to soften the pain of the inevitable reckoning, he advises Beijing’s central planners to recognize that the era of high growth is over. About the best approach is to start
LEFT: Investors stare at an electronic board showing stock information at an exchange in Shenyang, Liaoning province of China. RIGHT: A man works in a factory making gardening equipments for export / NEWSCOM
guiding expectations lower. Annual growth of 2 percent to 4 percent for the next decade would be more realistic, Duncan said. To its credit, China’s debt burden is quite low at just 24 percent of GDP. That means it can ramp up government spending to support the economy and a fairly high standard of living, he says. Among things Duncan suggests investors watch out for is a revaluation of China’s currency. Beijing will allow the yuan to rise in an attempt to help cool growing protectionist sentiment in the U.S. and Europe, as unemployment rates remains stubbornly in double digits, Duncan says, adding that other Asian currencies are likely to appreciate alongside the yuan. Talk of currency reform began circulating earlier this month, when a Chinese policy
institute floated the idea of a one-off 10 percent revaluation of the yuan and an annual appreciation against a basket of currencies of up to 3 percent. China has held its currency stable against the U.S. dollar since mid-2008. See story on call within China for yuan appreciation. The outlook for asset prices is less clear. Duncan believes the fortune of the world’s property and stock markets will depend upon the size and timing of government stimulus packages. The need for sustained deficits to prop up the economy means gold prices will rise about 10 percent a year for the “rest of our lives,” he says, although fears of inflation that have led some to buy the metal are overblown. Land is another of Duncan’s recommended investment. “Over the long run, you want to own
things that the government can’t debase,” he notes. That advice doesn’t extend to commodities, especially crude oil, where Duncan believes prices been manipulated to unwarranted levels by sophisticated traders. He expects prices to fall sharply across a broad range of commodities if efforts to regulate derivatives gather steam. Meanwhile, Duncan says the outlook in Japan remains dire, even in spite of its already-two-decade slump. The nation’s corporations are unlikely to fare well in an environment of weak global demand, rising competition from low-wage producers in China, and a shrinking population at home. “There is no reason for Japanese industry in the long run,” Duncan says, adding wage rates in China are about one-tenth of Japanese levels. q
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n THINK LIFE
Money for nothing Peter Hensley finds there’s no such thing as a free lunch with LAQCs
im loved the long summer days and the endless stream of visitors that came with them. Their house seemed to be a people magnet. Whilst he enjoyed catching up with friends and family, he also enjoyed Moira’s home baking. She had a reputation for being able to provide an expertly prepared meal for all and sundry who appeared on their door step. Whilst Jim enjoyed the camaraderie and the food, many of their guests came for the wisdom and common sense that Jim and Moira dispatched openly with the folk they shared their meals with. They had lived a full life, endured many hardships, raised a large family and had achieved financial independence. In their early years Jim and Moira worked extremely well with each other financially. Like most couples of their generation they did not start out with much, but they learnt early on that they had to spend less than they earned. They attributed their financial success to this one simply-applied factor. They helped their children understand this fundamental principle and encouraged them to strive to achieve this goal each and every week. Jim used to tell stories to the kids that invariably started with “When I was your age …”. Now he was telling similar stories to the grand children in an effort to encourage them to be frugal. Jim admitted to having a problem getting the grandies to understand and believe that their grandparents’ current affluent life style was generated from a lifetime of being careful with every penny. By all accounts their current lifestyle did not reflect their humble beginnings and it was the stories of how they applied some fundamental fiscal laws that was the most talked about topic with their endless stream of guests. Jim and Moira still maintain their lifetime tradition of spending less than they earn, it is just that their current passive income is greater than the average household with two earned incomes. By continually spending less than their earned income, they were able to choose what to do with the surplus. In the early days it was an easy decision. They used it to fast track any debt they took on.
They tried to limit their debt exposure to just the mortgage, but a large family also at times created financial needs that could not always be met from their humble salaries. In every case they had repaid all debts incurred early in order to reduce any interest expense. Ron and Myrl were down for their annual holidays and had booked in for dinner several months ago. They were in their early fifties and Jim was keen to learn how they were getting on. Their two boys were just finishing university and by all reports their solid grades suggested they had bright employment prospects. Jim and Moira’s house had been built on a rise not far from the ocean. The north east aspect meant they enjoyed the morning sun and were protected from the prevailing westerly wind. Jim knew that the kitchen was off limits to him prior to dinner, but he was permitted access in order to set the table. He would be allowed back in to do the dishes later. They had a long standing house rule, whoever prepared the dinner did not have to clean up afterwards. Jim didn’t mind as Moira’s cooking skills were legendary.
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It was a perfect summer’s evening and their guests arrived late afternoon. Jim ushered them onto the deck to enjoy the last of the golden weather and to listen to their latest stories. Both the boys had steady girlfriends and were enterprising enough to go and investigate job opportunities prior to finishing their degrees. John (their eldest) had been smart enough to look for a summer internship during his first summer holidays and it seemed that his enthusiasm and work ethic was going to pay off. Myrl was brimming with pride as she shared this story. It wasn’t until after the dishes had been cleared away and dessert was being served that Ron brought up the topic of money and their finances. Jim and Moira were aware their friends had several rental properties but were also aware they were negatively geared. Myrl had shared the benefits of how an LAQC – Loss Attributing Qualifying Company worked on their last visit. Moira could never quite get her head around the concept. Myrl explained that by using the equity they had built up in their own home, they could buy several rental properties and
because they were bought under an LAQC they could transfer the loss over to their personal incomes and reduce the amount of tax they were paying. Moira had been wise enough to keep her own counsel at the time, but she was smart enough to know that if you were reducing your tax payments to the IRD, then you must be losing money, which by all accounts did not have a long term future. She remembered talking about the concept to Jim once they had gone and she could not work out why any one would want to reduce the amount of tax they paid. They would be far better off increasing their tax bill because if you paid more tax it followed that you must have earned more money. With Jim’s encouragement Ron had finally sat down and completed a cash flow budget. After several drafts he worked out that owning the rental properties and subsidizing mortgages from their own incomes was a slow way to go broke. The major beneficiaries of the LAQC scheme were the mortgage providers and real estate agents. The process worked if the price of the properties increased at a rate greater than the interest rate, but that was not happening and both their lifestyle and retirement plans were suffering.
Ron and Myrl had learnt from Jim and Moira that they had to go into retirement debt free, with as much cash as they could possibly accumulate. This was not going to happen with the huge mortgage they had taken on in order to buy the rentals. Both of them had reasonably secure jobs, but they also recognised they only had approximately twelve years until their
Government was handing out to those people with KiwiSaver accounts. Ron sheepishly explained that they had been too busy trying to find the extra money to cover the mortgage payments that they had neglected to enrol. They came down to share the news that both rentals were on the market and once they were sold they would both be joining.
Owning the rental properties and subsidizing mortgages from their own incomes was a slow way to go broke chosen retirement age. They still had debt and had mistakenly bought into a scheme that guaranteed them to lose money. It had sounded great at the time, but they now realised that a simple cash flow projection exercise would have revealed the flaws. When Moira passed out the dessert plates she inquired if either of them had signed up to collect the free money the
Jim thought it would be a good time to share one of his old “when I was your age stories”, but a quick look from Moira told him it was time for him to get the dishes done and put the kettle on for coffee. A copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge. © Peter J Hensley February 2010
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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n THINK LIFE
Celebrating Christmas, or Yobboville? The dereliction of educationists Amy Brooke wonders where we are heading
n Christmas Day, sitting down to dinner with family come a long way to be together at this traditionally joyful time of the year, I answered an unexpected phone call. My first reaction of pleasure, listening to the tentative voice of a young mother whose new baby was not even three weeks old, turned quickly to dismay, sadness, then a deep concern. Through the phone, clearly audible, I could hear a tirade of menacing shouting, of abusive and disgustingly foul language. For this gentle young wife and her husband there was to be no Christmas dinner, the abandoned celebration chicken discarded the next day.
What had happened? Over the back fence, a mere four metres or so away, a couple of Pacific Island descent were holding an outdoors party so noisy, the music on full volume with the deep thud-thud of bass amplification, that her little 17 month old daughter in her cot had began to cry. The father, whose wife’s and his intention to be good neighbours extended to previously inviting them to this toddler’s christening party, had gone to the fence to explain that their little ones needed to sleep, and pleasantly asked for the music to be turned down. Not only was the music promptly turned up, but the male neighbour then came to the
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fence challenging him to call noise control, calling him a fu**ing c**t, and telling him (a sixth generation New Zealander) to go back to where he came from. Then, hearing the little girl’s quizzical enquiry tones from her bedroom close by, he addressed her by name, bellowing “…, your dad’s a fu**ing c**t… You’d better swap bedrooms with him ’cos you’re not getting any sleep tonight…” proceeding to address the father as “you fu**ing white prick…” Then, out of the blue… “Are you praying to Christ? He’s not going to save you… oh, you’ve got washing on the line? I might light a fire…”And, still bellowing on the fence top… “You think this is bad? You wait until the New Year’s Eve, you fu**ing prick!” These disgusting threats were recorded the same evening as this young couple began to fear for the safety of their children, when various others began jumping up and banging on the fence. With their little girl was now noticeably frightened, agitated, and increasingly tired, Christmas dinner was abandoned while the parents tried to comfort her. Locking all doors and pulling the curtains they called faraway family whom they had wanted to be with at Christmas. But for the sake of the newborn baby – and the mother with a recent Caesarian advised to rest and avoid carrying weights – they had judged it better to stay home. Now extremely concerned for the safety of their children, the husband called the police, explaining the neighbours were drunk, abusive and threatening. We should be past casually taking for granted the message from the 111 operator that Auckland was “bedlam” – with no chance of an immediate response. They were simply to call back if anything more occurred – which it did. Drunken partygoers continued climbing on the fence, yelling more abuse. Yet because of “the lack of relative seriousness of the situation” – ignoring the fact that baseball bats, knives, and the escalating use of firearms have become almost commonplace in suburbs – it took an hour of increasing vituperation for two strikingly young, seemingly under 25 years old police officers to arrive, one with a heavily tattooed forearm. Listening politely they set off down the road to an address they apparently wrongly recorded, ignoring the din only metres away, then returning to say nobody was at home. Redirected, they returned with an admission from the aggressive male that this young family were good neighbours, but claiming
they had “spoilt” his Christmas. Apparently, that inflicting maximum noise on these “good neighbours” with children needing to sleep might well spoil their Christmas simply didn’t count. His sheer selfishness – that all too typical attitude of self-esteem and special entitlement promoted by the education politburo – is now very much part of our disintegrating society. And no, the police officers had not given him a warning even, because “there are two sides to the story.” And so there very often are – with one a tissue of lies. Not just in New Zealand, but throughout Western societies, the only too successful bullying of the innocent; the minimizing of the plight of those victimized; the prosecution, even, by the police of those trying to defend their homes and families from burglars, drug addicts and thugs of various kinds, has meant the rebuking and betraying of the innocent in favour of the “rights” of the bullies, the antisocial, of criminals with abusive, predatory, and vicious behaviour. Apparently, in spite of the threatening language, the climbing on the fence and promises of more to come, no “threat” had been made. Soon after the police left the neighbour’s wife was at the fence, shouting “You’ve gone too far this time!” No doubt in the eyes of the police this was merely a pleasant observation. I can still hear the inconsolable sobbing of the young mother bewilderedly saying that she thought Christmas was about peace and quiet…as she realised that there would be neither protection nor peace for them that night. Loading the car with a now deeply upset toddler who had heard her parents being threatened, they left for an exhausting night sharing with the disturbed child a bed generously offered by a couple who moved outside to a tent. Returning home the next morning they were heard by the neighbour who yelled; “Hey hey – they’re up! Let’s get the party started!” The sequel to this story was the sight of a young man – over-heavy packs strapped to both his back and front, carrying a toddler in one arm – the baby’s carrycot in the other – bringing his wife and newborn baby to safety and rest on a late-booked, unaffordable flight to escape the noise, abuse, and implied violence promised to ensue from these neighbours from hell over the rest of the Christmas period. What has this to do with the state of education in New Zealand? Everything, basi-
cally. Society’s standards are disintegrating as the result of the Left’s determined invasion of all our institutions. Its sly, constant undermining of once dearly-held values – Christian beliefs in particular – is advanced by an aggressive atheism attacking any except its own anti-values. By no means the richer for this, we can point the finger directly at our education bureaucracy. What education is all about is not just minimum standards of literacy and numeracy – but far, far more. It is the inculcating of a deep-reaching, moral and intellectual sensibility now demonstrably lacking in so many New Zealanders. To preserve any democracy – to preserve civilisation itself – from attacks constantly mounted upon it by those with their own agenda, genuine standards of excellence must be regarded as minimum keystone values. Over recent decades these have been whittled away until too many New Zealanders – with the connivance of education careerists
“Hey hey – they’re up! Let’s get the party started!”
– speak, sound and behave as under-educated, ignorant, loud-mouthed yobbos. We are rapidly becoming a broken society. [Editor’s footnote: In London this month 31 year old Myleen Klass, a TV presenter alone in her home with her young daughter, waved a kitchen knife through the window at a group of aggressive youths standing in her front garden peering through her windows. She was later visited by police and told that waving a knife at trespassers, even in one’s own home defending one’s child, was “illegal” in Britain. Welcome to socialist, nanny state-controlled stupidity] © Amy Brooke www.amybrooke.co.nz www.summersounds..co.nz http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/
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n THINK LIFE
Waiting for the big one Quake in Caribbean had been predicted for years, writes Fred Tasker
hen news spread of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, most of us probably said: “What? They have earthquakes in the Caribbean?” But it was no surprise to geologists. For years, they had been predicting a quake in Haiti – possibly as powerful as magnitude 7.2. The problem was they couldn’t say when. “It could have been the next day, it could have been 10 years, it could have been 100,” said Miami geophysicist and earthquake expert Dr. Tom Dixon. “This is not an exact science.” Geologists had long warned about seismic pressures building up along the Enriquillo Fault Line that runs from Jamaica eastward through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and into the Enriquillo Valley in the Dominican Republic. The fault line is part of the boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. The earth is divided into about a dozen tectonic plates that float and shift, moving past each other at geologically slow rates. The North American plate, which includes the United States and Canada, moves west relative to the Caribbean plate, at a rate of about an inch a year. And there was a chilling, if imprecise, prediction in a paper by a group of U.S. geologists presented at the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in March 2008. That inch-per-year movement had built up to six lateral feet of unrelieved pressure since the last major quake, in the south-central Dominican Republic in 1751. In a reference to Port-au-Prince, the conference report said: “This means that the level of built-up stress and energy in the earth could one day be released resulting in an earthquake measuring 7.2 or more on the Richter scale. This would be an event of catastrophic proportions in a city with loose building codes, and an abundance of shantytowns built in ravines and other undesirable locations.” As far back as 1998, Dixon, a professor of geophysics at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, says he and five colleagues published a paper in the
NEWSCOM/Joshua Lee Kelsey
Long beset by poverty, political unrest, HIV and chronic hurricanes and floods, Haiti lacked both the technical expertise and the resources to study earthquakes Journal of Geophysical Research warning of seismic trouble brewing in Haiti. But again, they couldn’t say when. One geologist, Patrick Charles, formerly of the Geological Institute of Havana, called the danger imminent. Even then, what could Haiti have done? Long beset by poverty, political unrest, HIV and chronic hurricanes and floods,
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Haiti lacked both the technical expertise and the resources to study earthquakes, let alone take action to withstand them, Dixon said. Dr. Amy Wilentz, professor of politics at the University of California, Irvine, and author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier,” agrees. “A lot of the buildings are made of bricks and cement and tin roofs,” she said.
On shaky ground The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti was the strongest earthquake in the area since 1770.
North American Plate
300 miles 300 km
Port-au-Prince Shelf edge Caribbean Plate
Caribbean oceanic plateau
South American Plate Strike-slip fault
Plates grind past each other sideways
Source: ESRI, US Geological Survey
“It’s hard to envision programs like the ones we have in California to reinforce buildings and do earthquake stabilization, much less projects to make new buildings safe. It’s hard enough to put up a building at all; the idea of making it perfect is Kafka-esque.” Susan Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami, asked: “This is the poorest country in the hemisphere; what are they supposed to do and with what resources? ... Most of them are dirt-poor and living in makeshift houses.” Richer countries can do a lot to mitigate damage from earthquakes, but even they can’t entirely prevent it, experts say. In California, building codes have become stricter after each earthquake from the San Fernando quake in 1971, the Loma Prieta
Graphic: Melina Yingling
quake in 1989 and the Northridge quake in 1994, said Jeanne Perkins, an earthquake consultant for the Association of Bay Area Governments in San Francisco. Even then, insurance-company estimates say that if a 7.0 quake like the one that hit Port-au-Prince happened today in San Francisco, it would render 150,000 buildings uninhabitable and kill hundreds or thousands of people, Perkins said. Another question arising from Haiti earthquake is whether it presages more damage in Haiti and elsewhere along the fault line in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica. “It could increase the chances,” said Dr. Paul Mann, senior research scientist for the Institute for Geophysics at the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas, and co-author of the study presented at the
Plate slides under edge of the other © 2010 MCT
2008 earthquake conference. “The rupture in the fault line was only 50 miles long,” he said. “The areas to the east and west that did not rupture are under greater loading, greater stress accumulation.” But he, too, can’t predict a time – even within 30 or 50 years. For what it’s worth, Dixon, the Rosenstiel geophysicist, says the fault line that caused the quake in Haiti runs too far to the south to be a danger to Cuba or Florida. “There’s no chance of an earthquake here,” he says. But he added a chilling thought: The years-long warnings of an earthquake in Haiti of magnitude 7.0 or greater – which came true – were almost exactly the same as the current earthquake warnings for California.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 71
n THINK LIFE
Upgrading to 7? Ian Wishart loads Windows 7 onto a two year old laptop, and explores the advantages of the latest PaperPort release
f you’ve been wondering about making the splash and upgrading to Windows 7, jump in – the water’s fine. After its release in the fourth quarter of 09, companies and individuals have been nervously waiting for cracks to appear in the latest Windows incarnation, but they haven’t materialised. Instead, the transition for most users has been utterly pain free and the word used to describe Windows 7 is “robust”. Having said that, it was with a sense of trepidation that I unpacked Windows 7 Ultimate over the summer and opened the CD-ROM drive of the Toshiba Tecra laptop I’m writing this review from. As my main production computer, there’s a lot at risk if something goes wrong. Conversely, the XP Pro installation on this machine has been getting increasingly unreliable as patch after patch from Microsoft took its toll on the overall integrity of the Toshiba. I toyed for some time with using Laplink’s well-reviewed PCMover, Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant software to handle the migration. That’s because Microsoft chose not to provide a direct upgrade path from XP to Windows 7. That corporate decision came as something
of a surprise, given the heavily negative reaction to Windows Vista that saw most businesses refuse to upgrade and instead keep XP creaking along until a successor to Vista emerged. Given that background, and the large number of companies waiting for Windows 7, you’d have thought Microsoft would have made it easier, not difficult, to upgrade from XP. Not to worry, however. The people at Laplink spotted the gap in the market and produced a specific tool that essentially copies all your programmes and settings from XP to a hidden folder, and then reinstalls them automatically once Windows 7 has installed. I got very close to doing that, but after using Microsoft’s Windows 7 upgrade advisor to pre-check my system I found some of our crucial software was not fully compliant with 7. That led me to Plan B. Using Laplink, customers have reported upgrading to Windows 7 in less than half an hour – a far cry from the up to 90 minutes that was customary with earlier incarnations of Windows. While an upgrade from Vista to 7 can also take a while, a clean install is swift. With two partitions on my hard drive, I opted for a clean install of 7 on the second drive, turning the Toshiba into a dual-boot
72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
machine: when it boots up each time I turn it on, I have the choice of loading either the old XP installation, or choosing Windows 7. For many readers, this may offer the best of both worlds. Partitioning a hard drive is not difficult provided you use the correct utility and follow the instructions, and it does give you the flexibility to keep XP as a back-up, whilst providing a bug-free pristine installation of 7 that you can gently migrate to at your own pace. For those with near new computers, Windows 7 does offer an optional XP compatibility mode allowing programmes designed for XP to run comfortably, although it requires extra disk space. So what’s good about 7? The Vista Aero display is a generation shift ahead of XP, and another thing that cheered me immediately was Windows 7 instantly finding the wireless and wired networks and configuring connections without me lifting a finger. Instant connectivity, and incidentally 7 is extremely fast booting up. But I digress. Aero Peek is an innovation allowing users to quickly preview the contents of open windows without having to minimize the existing screen. Simply hover your cursor over the programme icons on the
Paperport Professional 12
UPI/Alexis C. Glenn
bottom taskbar, and minor preview screens will pop up for each open programme. It can save valuable seconds, particularly if you have lots of documents or web pages open. Another useful feature is the ability to work in two windows simultaneously, side by side, without one minimizing the instant you touch the other as currently happens in XP. Microsoft boasts a massive improvement to the indexing system that came in with Vista (and was subsequently available on XP upgrades. Files are now instantly searchable, even moments after they’ve been uploaded or downloaded to the computer. The previous Windows search was good, this one is muscular. For those whose XP installations have become increasingly ‘buggy’, Windows 7 is a dream so far – extremely stable and no serious issues (probably a result of the long beta-testing that went on after the XP and Vista fiascos). There are three main versions of 7: Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. It’s this latter incarnation that Microsoft have supplied for testing. I will update you again with a progress report at the three month mark.
Another regular on the test benches here at Investigate is innovative software giant Nuance – whose office and home-office organization software is honestly without equal. We’ve used Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition in the Investigate office for more than a decade, eventually persuading the NZ distributors that if their programmes were useful to us, chances are our readers would find them useful as well. Well, arguably one of the most useful is PaperPort, the document organization system that – with the addition of a scanner – can rapidly de-clutter your desk by consigning important documents to a computerized library, instantly searchable (particularly if you have Windows 7). For me, the task at hand is converting a mountain of printed reports and articles on climate change into a digital database. Like Dragon, PaperPort is a veteran programme now in its twelfth incarnation, but that’s a plus. Some companies reinvent the wheel each time they update, but Nuance works via evolution. That allows the software to build on its strengths without sacrificing innovation. In the latest version, PaperPort takes on a more familiar look for new users, adopting a Microsoft style interface for more intuitive usage. Essentially, PaperPort Professional 12 works by users ftwarer home-office organisation here at Investigate is innovative software giant Nuance – whose t.nd economic policy (which scanning documents into PDF format. The PDFs can then be collated in masterfilesa as chapters in a larger PDF, or simply as items in a folder. Because it copes with networked environments and integrates efficiently with Microsoft Sharepoint, the programme is ideal for offices where a number of team members are working on the same project. One of the new tweaks to 12 is a much better native compression on colour document scans, making files more manageable and storage less of a problem. There’s also an upgrade to the PDF viewing system built into PaperPort; it’s now faster than its predecessor. The real power of PaperPort lies in automating a lot of work. Apart from adding documents to your scanner, if you’ve set
Over a weekend you can probably scan in the paper mountains that have been awaiting your attention
up the programme well it does most of the donkey work smoothly, meaning less time wasted in document processing. But the key qualifier here is “set up the programme well”. Unlike Dragon which is easy to use well, straight from the box, PaperPort is easy to use, but far easier to use well if you spend a little time learning the ropes. It’s a great programme for the small office/ home office environment also, because over a weekend you can probably scan in the paper mountains that have been awaiting your attention, and from then it’s just a case of making a regular scan to process the mail each day. Household bills, letters, stuff you printed off the net – all of this is capable of being turned into a text searchable PDF and tucked neatly away in a digital file somewhere. By the time I’d finished typing the name “Knorr” into the Windows 7 search engine, the document had already appeared in the list at the top of the page. Customer orders? Copies of invoices? Same instant search result. For more details on where you can purchase PaperPort Pro 12, contact the NZ distributors, Mistral Software.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 73
FEEL LIFE SPORT
here are many wonderful moments etched in New Zealanders’ memories from the 76 year history of the Commonwealth and Empire Games. This stoic Pacific outpost shook off its inhibitions to shed tears of joy with Dick Taylor, as he raised his arms and flopped over the finish line in a joyous, sweaty heap at the QEII Stadium in Christchurch in 1974. In 1998 the planet’s best known rugby player, Jonah Lomu blitzed the opposition as New Zealand marched to the first of its three Sevens titles. A haul of 17 gold medals exceeded the host’s expectation in Auckland in 1990 – including Nikki Jenkins’ famous vaulting triumph in the gymnastics. THERE’S the Kenyan domination of middle distance running in the 70s and 80s and the diminutive, bald figure of Precious McKenzie lifting his way to his fourth bantamweight gold in Edmonton in 1978. In Melbourne four years ago, it was Valerie Vili’s first major success and Nick Willis raising his arms to the heavens after recapturing the glory days of the 1500 metres at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. There has always been an element of surprise, of underdogs and of small nations ruffling the feathers of all-conquering England and Australia. The Aussies always seem hell-bent on amassing enough gold to prop up the national treasury. In Delhi they’ll be trying to match the astonishing Melbourne haul of 221 medals, including 84 gold. There’s no doubting the standard of competition is world class in some events. Caribbean and African countries give the track and field real zip and glamour and the swim meets always yield Olympic-class times. A new trans-Tasman edge to the New Zealand programme may add a bit of turbulence to the pecking order in the pool as well. Sevens has been a real crowd-pleaser since
The friendly games In October this year the Commonwealth’s swiftest and strongest will settle into Delhi, the uncertain venue for the latest instalment in the four-yearly event. Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt is one of the major drawcards but may sidestep this curious sporting antiquity. Chris Forster wonders if this gathering of colonial athletes is still relevant in the second decade of the 21st century its addition in 1998, and you could argue its success has helped the elevation to Olympic level in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. These elite sports are a stark contrast to the quaintly British pastime of lawn bowls, the pure participation sport of squash and the puzzling inclusion of yet another tennis tournament – at the expense of the thoroughly modern Triathlons. DELHI will also be an exercise in geographical obscurity, as usual. The Turks and Caicos
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Islands, Gibraltar, the Seychelles, Nauru, Lesotho and Guernsey are all classed as nations in the 71 flags to fly at the new Delhi stadium. Rwanda, Sudan and the Pitcairn Islands have yet to be persuaded to send their first ever teams. In 2006 the sports-mad city of Melbourne’s infrastructure seamlessly coped with the hordes competing for 247 gold medals in 16 different sports. But the rumblings over construction
Usain Bolt’s the biggest name on any sporting stage right now. But the Jamaican sprint sensation’s making noises of a no-show
delays and security en India won’t go away. There’ve been veiled threats from the likes of England and Australia to pull their teams unless the organising committee gets it collective act together. A Commonwealth Games without the masters of occupation and their number one colony would be unthinkable. On the cusp of the New Year, the British Foreign Office was forced to deny there had been any advisory to its team. Even the Commonwealth Games Federation’s weighed-in with a few “hurry up please” directives over venues and facilities. The sight of half-finished construction sights and horrific traffic snarl-ups is hardly the stuff to inspire the Games hierarchy, after deciding to give the most populous nation in its ragtag family hosting rights for the first time. The brand new Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies, is the length of the back straight behind schedule. There may only be 10,000 rooms for the expected influx of 100,000 visitors. Even Delhi’s chief minister is worried about the slow pace of progress. It’s a stark contrast to the grand Chinese efficiency of Beijing and the Olympic showpiece they put on for the world to gape at two years ago. USAIN BOLT’S the biggest name on any sporting stage right now. But the Jamaican sprint sensation’s making noises of a no-show. His manager Ricky Simms is using phrases like “not a priority”, “timing not right” and “planning for the Olympic cycle”. Delhi and the Games themselves will lose currency if Bolt bolts and it could spark other top athletes to save themselves for bigger stages. SWIMMING is the exception to the dubious quality rule. Australia, England, Canada and South Africa are world powers and the New Zealanders have high aspirations of improving on the solitary gold butterfly ace Moss Burmester snared on the opening night of the meet in Melbourne. SPARC is a generous supporter of the aquatics code, but its criteria demand results at Olympic, World and Commonwealth level. The New Zealanders have roped in a highly-focussed world-beating Australian to run their elite programme. Actually it doubles their quota to two.
It seems front-line Aussie coaches love taking on jobs with theirAntipodean neighbours and transforming them into Ocker-beaters. Mark Regan is the new man immersing himself in the head coaching role at Millenium Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore with an impressive resumé in high performance roles with national swim teams. He forged his reputation as head coach at the famed Australian Institute in 1998 before taking charge of the world-beating women’s team in two Olympics. Most recently he lifted Denmark from European obscurity to four medals at last year’s world championships. Long-time swimming figurehead of the sport in New Zealand Jan Cameron used her South Island-based coach Don Talbot to lure Regan from a stint of unemployment in Sydney to have a crack at the Kiwis. “The countries are similar. The only difference between the two is New Zealand is very isolated … compared to Denmark being in Europe. You can fly for three hours and be anywhere in Europe – competition is pretty easy to get there. The 49 year old’s measured, professional and he’s got the lingo off pat. He rates swimming as a sport built around teamwork, wants to set structure in place for the long term and “set a legacy in place for the future” Regan won’t name individual swimmers but is sure the pool of talent is there to succeed. Cameron’s relinquishing her role as coach to drive home the new set-up. “We’ve got tremendous sport, through Swimming New Zealand and SPARC with the Millennium Centre and the Q E II pool in Christchurch. We want to make real gains in high performance. Podium finishes would be nice, but competition is the key. “We have the talent, tremendous talent. There are currently no swimmers in the world’s top eight, but we have 6 swimmers in the top 16. Mark’s role is to push the top 16 into the top 8 … and the top 25 into the top 16 and the top 50 into the top 25”. It’s to create competition from within, and to change the attitudes, raise the standards It they can top the decent haul of a gold, a silver and four bronze from Melbourne, where they outshone cycling, hockey and even lawn bowls – it will make these uncertain Games a watershed for the sport and its new regime.
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FEEL LIFE HEALTH
A need for speed?
Claire Francis examines the growing craze for work-performance drugs
or those unfamiliar with the term, “nootropics” (“nO-ot-trO-pik) are substances that enhance mental function, including nutritional supplements, brain foods or drugs. Vitamins, minerals, herbs and foodstuffs that improve mental function (memory, cognition, focus, and so forth), and also pills made in labs can said to be nootropic, or to have a nootropic effect. The word was coined in 1964 by a Romanian doctor, Corneliu E. Giurgea, to describe a hopeful new class of pharmaceutical drug, of which his teams’ newly synthesized compound – Piracetam – was perhaps the first1. The word itself is derived from the Greekwords nous, or “mind,” and trepein “to bend/turn”, but Giurgea gave quite a specific definition than is generally given, emphasizing the requirement that such drugs have several positive effects on cognition, without any other significant effects or side effects. Intuitively it makes sense that such things should exist. Most people are aware that calcium is needed for healthy bones or perhaps that vitamin K is important for blood clotting. You can probably come up with a good number of such facts, and most of them are likely to be correct. What’s good for the brain? Many people have some belief that fish is brain “food”, and this is borne out by research indicating omega 3 fatty acids (found particularly in oily fish) have a positive effect on memory and cognition. However, one of the studies done in England – which showed a significant improvement in memory and focus in children with a diagnosis of ADHD and poor learning outcomes – demonstrated that many children with learning disorders have undiagnosed nutritional deficiencies, sometimes quite severe. It is not certain whether Omega 3 and zinc supplements are of benefit to all people, only people with a low nutritional intake, only people with learning disorders etc. The summary of the data doesn’t rule
The search for foods or nutritional supplements that actually aid mental ability, as opposed to making up for deficiencies caused by inadequate nutrition, makes the issue murkier out a positive effect for all people, but nor does it rule it in. So the search for foods or nutritional supplements that actually aid mental ability, as opposed to making up for deficiencies caused by inadequate nutrition, makes the issue murkier. Increasingly, the ideal of nootropics is shifting towards a drug that doesn’t just improve a damaged brain, but improves any brain.
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The first pharmacologic nootropic, Piracetam, belongs to a class of drugs called racetams, whose mechanism of action is not fully understood. The drugs are unusual in that they have fairly global effects within the brain, and seem overall to increase oxygen and blood flow throughout the brain, perhaps by increasing the activity of the brain in general, and increase communi-
cation between the two hemispheres of the brain. Launched in the 1970s, the drug is prescribed to treat myoclonus (twitches), and clotting problems, but is also used to enhance cognition and memory, aid stroke recovery, and ameliorate Alzheimer’s, Down’s syndrome, dementia, and dyslexia, and autism. But while there is good evidence that these drugs improve the functioning of the damaged brain with very few side effects, there is very little research concerning the effect of such drugs on the normal brain. The same goes for Modafinal (Provigil), a different type of drug altogether that is held to offer the same kind of promise. Modafinal is marketed as an alternative to amphetamines for the treatment of excessive sleepiness and fatigue related to narcolepsy, shirt-work sleep disorder and sleep apnea. It appears to effectively suppress the need for sleep, negate the effects of sleep deprivation and improve specific mental functions (working memory and pattern recognition), with limited or equivocal evidence that it has an effect on attention, and spatial memory; there is speculation that it is more effective in individuals with poorer cognitive function than in those who already do well. Modafinal, however, has significant potential side effects, similar to the amphetamines. Australia and New Zealand regulate the licensing of vitamins, supplements, and over the counter medication quite strictly, but both the US and the UK allow individuals to import Piracetam – amongst other things – for personal use, without a prescription. Modafinal is regulated more heavily, but is available with a legitimate prescription, or (less legitimately) over the internet, and it’s relative Adrafinal is not regulated, and can be imported without prescription. So people – being people – do so. It’s a funny kind of drug use, I think, and one feels an odd sort of nostalgia for the type of drug user who just wanted to get high. There is turning on and dropping out and tripping the light fantastic about this. People go to some trouble to get nootropics, and take them, so they can…work. Or at least get more work done. Students have always stayed up late the night before their work is due (often because they stayed out drinking the week before it was due). These kind of drugs make it easier to do so. They don’t – perhaps – make your report for your boss as good as it would be if you’d worked hard, but they perhaps make it better than the dogs’ breakfast you’d produce once the sleep deprivation kicked in. Some people report that their output improves, they can work for longer, they produce more. An
online poll by the prestigious scientific journal “Nature” found that one in five respondents used cognitive enhancing drugs. The case can be made, I think, at the extremes. The mathematician Paul Erdos, was prolific and brilliant, and an unashamed amphetamine addict, claiming he couldn’t otherwise have achieved the insights or output that he did. If the silver bullet would make you the next Einstein, it might be worth a very high risk of side effects. But the trend towards cognitive enhancing drugs is a gamble risking unknown long-term effects for what? Rarely anything brilliant. Remember coffee? Caffeine, like nicotine, is a cognitive enhancing drug. It’s relatively cheap, it’s legal, it’s safe in low doses and it’s long term effects are known. Want one? ENDNOTES 1. original definition: of Nootropic : a. They should enhance learning and memory. b. They should enhance the resistance of learned behaviors/memories to conditions which tend to disrupt them (e.g. electroconvulsive shock, hypoxia).
c. They should protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries (e.g. barbiturates, scopalamine). d. They should increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/subcortical control mechanisms. e. They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity. (NOTE: section 5. of Giurgea’s original definition has been gradually dropped by most researchers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Corneliu_E._Giurgea Same page quotes him as saying: “Man is not going to wait passively for millions of years before evolution offers him a better brain.” INTERESTING READING http://www.johannhari.com/2008/05/06/ my-experiment-with-smart-drugs http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1869435,00.html http://www.newyorker.com/ reporting/2009/04/27/090427fa_fact_ talbot?currentPage=all
HEALTHBRIEFS RESEARCHERS SAY IT’S OFFICIAL: TGIF! People are happier and feel better on the weekends, according to new research. Now that may be obvious to you. However, on closer examination, the study reveals some interesting observations about leisure time. For example, everyone is happier on the weekend – even people who love their jobs and no matter what type of profession one is in or how much one is paid. The study found that people love the freedom associated with weekends and even feel better physically. Perhaps the most surprising finding is that people say they feel more competent during the weekend than they do while at their day-to-day jobs. Researchers based their findings on responses from 74 volunteers age 18 to 62. Participants monitored their experiences three times daily for 21 consecutive days using simple forms or pagers. The study reinforces what is known as the “self-determination theory,” which means that well-being is based on one’s personal needs for autonomy, competence and social relationships. People can tap into those needs more readily on the weekend. Conversely, they may experience time pressures, work demands and unpleasant relationships while at work. “Far from frivolous, the relatively unfettered time on weekends provides critical opportunities for bonding with others, exploring interests and relaxing – basic psychological needs that people should be careful not to crowd out with overwork,” the lead author of the study, Richard Ryan, from the University of Rochester, said in a news release. The study was published in the January issue of Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. The research reaffirms how important leisure time is to well-being. But, the authors note, it also shows that work really can be a bummer. “These results point to possibilities for improving wellness both through enhancing need satisfactions at work and providing more time for adults that is free from work,” the authors wrote. So, it’s true. Down time is really up time. Enjoy your weekend. And if you’re working, I’m truly sorry. – By Shari Roan
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 77
FEEL LIFE ALT.HEALTH
The chemical is used to line nearly all food and beverage cans. It is used to make hard, clear plastic for baby bottles, tableware, eyeglasses, dental sealants, DVDs and hundreds of other household objects.
Baby-bottle toxin withdrawn in US
The chemical BPA found in babies bottles, as well as many other food containers, is now the subject of FDA action, reports Meg Kissinger
fter earlier statements that declared bisphenol A safe for all uses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now says that BPA affects human development and says it is working to take the chemical out of infant formula cans and baby bottles. The agency is also working to require BPA manufacturers to report how much of the chemical they are producing and where it is being used so that it can more easily regulate the chemical. This month’s action follows three years of investigative reports by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel into the government’s failure to limit the chemical’s exposure, despite hundreds of studies that found BPA to cause harm. In a news conference, the agency
announced these steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply. The steps, posted on the FDA Web site, include: •• Supporting the industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market; •• Facilitating the development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans; and •• Supporting efforts to replace BPA or minimize BPA levels in other food can linings. “The FDA is supporting a shift to a more robust regulatory framework for oversight of BPA,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced. More than 6 billion pounds of the chemical are manufactured each year, accounting
78 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010
for nearly $7 billion in sales. The chemical is used to line nearly all food and beverage cans. It is used to make hard, clear plastic for baby bottles, tableware, eyeglasses, dental sealants, DVDs and hundreds of other household objects. The chemical, which leaches into food and drink when it is heated, has been linked to prostate and breast cancer, reproductive failure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and behavioral problems. BPA manufacturers, however, have maintained it is safe. Indeed, the FDA ruled in 2008 that the chemical was safe for all uses – a decision based on two studies, both paid for by BPA makers. The Journal Sentinel found that lobbyists for the chemical industry wrote entire sections of that decision. E-mails obtained by the newspaper found that the FDA relied on chemical industry lobbyists to examine the chemical’s risks, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage. Linda Birnbaum, who now heads the National Toxicology Program, told the Journal Sentinel in December that people should avoid ingesting the chemical – especially pregnant women, infants and children. “There are plenty of reasonable alternatives,” she said.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING A N D
N E W
Y E A R
F U L L
H O P E !
SO YOU DON’T WANT DARK, EDGY, POLITICALLY CORRECT STORIES FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN…
Remember the real stories of your own childhood – imaginative, hopeful and wonderful?
There are still the born story-tellers Check out New Zealand children’s writer AMY BROOKE’S brilliant stories at www.amybrooke.co.nz FOR INTERMEDIATE READERS, JUST RELEASED!
In this stand-alone, stunning sequel to Who will speak for the Dreamer? set between Nelson and Kent, the heartland of England…Rowan finds himself in mortal danger. A trap has been laid for the Dreamer, and the bait is Badger, his beloved English bull terrier…it is the red-gold fox who again brings Rowan to the children through the passages of space and time, their fate inextricably entwined, while overhead, Scorpio rises... A highly imaginative and moving story from an outstanding children’s writer, intriguing and engrossing. “You do write beautifully. ‘Scorpio Rising’ is you at your best….the imagination!’ – J.D.
“A most original idea, extremely cleverly conceived, and most successfully brought off, with great brio. I am sure children will love the book because it has such narrative drive, and because you don’t write down to them. Do you feel it is your best one so far? It certainly reads as if it arrived all-of-a-piece, spontaneously…Deeply satisfying.” – C.N.
Who will speak for the Dreamer?
a great wrong and prevent the re-enactment of a great tragedy. But with the forces of darkness again reaching out, will Rohan join Rowan in time? “I have read it twice. It is wonderful. Why have I not read your books before? Your story-telling skills are superb…” – Kerry Greenwood, award-winning Australian author. FOR JUNIOR READERS
When 12 year old Rohan first sees the faces peering from the old blackwood, and his small dog, Badger, senses that something is amiss, then the dreams begin. •What do they mean, the strange rhymes repeated in the night? •What happened to the old house on the hill? •Why does he see a little girl in a red polka dot dress on the path that leads nowhere? •Who is the silvered archer at his windowsill in the moonlight, and what is the fox in the painting trying to tell him? •Only the Dreamer has a final chance to right
The Third Star & Other Stories
Magical stories for younger children where the Little Folk come back again, a grey cat is not what it seems, a hungry little mouse has a wonderful surprise, and a spoilt little girl learns a lesson just in time! And if you loved the Milly Mandy Molly stories of your childhood, don’t miss the happiness of Jasper and Granny May Again, The Golden Firepot or the poignant and moving The Duck Who Went to Heaven.
AMY BROOKE | WWW.AMYBROOKE.CO.NZ | AVAILABLE AT WWW.NATIONWIDEBOOKS.CO.NZ OR THOUGH ANY GOOD BOOKSHOP! INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 79
TASTE LIFE TRAVEL
In search of Santa
A trip to Finland takes you to the polar edge
Chris Welsch/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT
here are many ways to get to know Finland’s Lapland region – for example on snowmobiles, trekking on snow shoes or outings in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Those athletic enough may strap on their cross-country skis for their tours north of the Polar Circle. The Yllas region offers 330 kilometres of trails and the neighbouring resort of Levi is also well-geared for skiing tourists. But the best way of all is to explore the vast reaches of Lapland via dogsled. For vacationers, an unforgettable experience and for the huskies, pure pleasure. The moment the reins have been put in place, the peace and quiet is over. The huskies Eliviira and Njalla are tugging at the reins and barking, and behind them, Pastis and Pommac are going crazy, tails wagging and howling away. Huskies live simply to run. Once let loose, they can hardly be stopped. One of the visitors, Hannes, has to put his entire weight on the sled’s snowbrake to keep the dogs from racing away without him. “I would wish every company to have such motivated employees,” says husky trainer
Ralph Etzold. The 41-year-old German who has been working in Lapland for the past six years then gives the starting signal – and in a chorus of yelping and barking, the dogs start racing across the snow as if driven by the devil. Ralph leads the way, while visitors Hannes, Uli, Steffen and Sandra try to keep pace with their sleds. Even after a kilometre they must permanently keep one foot on the snowbreak. The dogs’ urge to race forward is simply too great. If it weren’t for the fear that the sleds could topple over while taking the next sharp curve, then the temptation would be great,
simply to let the wild team of huskies keep on running. The hope is that the animals might soon start to get tired. But what an illusion: huskies always run. Always. “In the wilderness, they are used to surviving the toughest conditions and to covering great distances in order to find food,” Ralph explains later that night, sitting in front of the fireplace. From one husky farm in Munio, some 80 kilometres north of the Polar Circle, the first day’s route covers more than 25 kilometres to a cabin on Lake Torasjarvi. After a few hours, the tourists have got-
Huskies live simply to run. Once let loose, they can hardly be stopped. One of the visitors, Hannes, has to put his entire weight on the sled’s snowbrake to keep the dogs from racing away without him
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Statistically speaking, there are just 0.5 humans per square kilometre in Lapland – but around 200,000 reindeer.
ten the hang of how to lean into the trail’s curves. That’s when it becomes possible for them to take in and enjoy the snowy landscape of Finland’s extreme north-western region. After a while, the last houses and cross-country skiers have been left behind and the husky expedition then enters Lapland’s deepest wilderness. But it’s a short-lived pleasure. Once at the cabin, the visitors have work to do. For, the cabins have neither electricity nor running water. Steffen and Sandra have the task of fetching water: equipped with an ice-drill and a shovel, the couple from Leipzig make their way to the lake. The ice must first be broken through, in order to get at the water. Meanwhile, Austrian travellers Hannes and Uli are hacking away with an axe. But not for firewood – that comes later. First, they must chop up the frozen meat. “The dogs are always served first. Only then is it our turn,” Ralph says, explaining the rules. Each day, the total of 32 sled dogs need 30 kilograms of meat. Half an hour later, Steffen and Sandra are pouring water into the sauna’s pail and are
using the firewood to heat up an oven. The cabins may be rustic, but each one comes with a sauna – and a visit to the sauna is obligatory after the ice-cold day out on the dogsleds. The distance to the next cabin on Lake Suasjanka is 33 kilometres – the longest single-day stretch. Travelling along the Pallas Ounas National Park, the run is one over frozen lakes and through pine forests, where the trees are bent over almost to the ground from the weight of the snow. The next day, a sunny one but 18 degrees below zero, the route leads to Saukkoja. At noontime, the travellers are sitting on reindeer pelts around a campfire. Ralph is frying up a meal of “Lapland-burgers” made from salmon. In the distance, foxes and reindeer are spotted, but no humans: statistically speaking, there are just 0.5 humans per square kilometre in Lapland – but around 200,000 reindeer. That evening, Ralph cooks up a meal of poronkaristys – mashed potatoes with reindeer meat and cranberries. Uli is regaling the others about the curve he didn’t manage to master. Human con-
versation is the only activity in the evening – there’s no television, no radio, no mobile phone reception. Hannes says the solitude “touches the soul,” while Uli, who is from Vienna, takes a deep breath: “Wow, this air is fantastic.” The last day, the stretch returning to Muonio, is a trying one. For hours the sleds race across frozen lakes, straight into an icecold wind. Then, suddenly, there is the first road to be crossed – a sign of approaching civilization. The huskies also notice that they are homeward bound and start running faster. When the group reaches the husky farm, they are greeted with a deafening reception of barking by 400 of their canine cousins. Husky safaris are only one of many ways to experience Lapland in the winter. But most visitors come mainly for the winter sports offerings in Yllas and Levi. One of the attractions in Yllas is a sauna like no other in the world: a “sauna gondola” in which visitors can combine a sauna experience while taking in the scenery riding up to a mountain top on a ski-lift.
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TASTE LIFE FOOD
Where’s the beef?
James Morrow discovers his inner Wellingtonian
he cricket was, for all intents and purposes, a washout. There we were sitting in the Ladies Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground, rain spitting on us at regular intervals, cold, miserable, and with jumpsuited, baton-wielding members of the NSW Police Force gazing menacingly into the crowd at thirty metre intervals to prevent the formation of beer snakes, the Mexican waves, and the threat to public order and morality that is the bouncing beach ball. Covers were rolled on to and off of the pitch, practice equipment set up and dismantled, and the coin toss was put back another half hour every half hour. By 11am we had retired to the bar; by 12:30pm we had pulled stumps and retired to lunch, to a very ye olde English pub in
the city’s eastern suburbs. And on the menu was something I had not seen for a while, at least not in its classic form: Beef Wellington. Sure, ironic or deconstructed versions of the dish show up here and there. Indeed one of the best iterations of the dish I ever had was at the still-missed MG Garage, which actually steamed the thing (counterintuitive, given the pastry crust, but trust me: it worked). But seeing it offered unapologetically was a great treat, especially on cold and blustery supposedly summer’s day. Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that speaks of another era – one of macand-cheese and casseroles. It was the elegant thing to order on a night out, but too often these days it is dismissed as a “retro” phenomenon, like Mad Men and martinis.
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Gradually though it fell out of favour, like vol-au-vents: A big hunk of beef, wrapped in rich ingredients and puff pastry no longer was able to resist the assaults of fern bars, healthy eating, nouvelle cuisine and the feminisation of society. On one level a Wellington can be thought of as nothing more than a really huge ravioli, a dumpling on steroids. After all, for centuries if not millennia chefs from Chartres to Chiang Mai have been wrapping savoury treats up in dough. (One of my favourite iterations of this would have to be the Shanghai soup dumpling, which is sealed from the inside with a gelatin, which prefigured the spherification later pioneered by molecular gastronomists like Heston Blumenthal). Another theory holds that the dish – an Anglicised version of filet de boeuf en croute – was so named during the Napoleonic Wars, much the same way in some corners of the US French fries were rechristened “freedom fries” in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. (There is, however, no suggestion that the dish has any relation to the New Zealand town of the same name). The question of what to wrap the beef in remains somewhat controversial. Like car enthusiasts who insist that the 928 is not a real Porsche “because it does not have the engine in the back”, there are some who insist that it is not a real Wellington if pate is not involved. And while I am not one to hold back on the use of pureed fatty fowl livers, in this case I believe it is a case of gilding the lily, and uneconomical to boot. Instead, my method is largely borrowed from that foul-mouthed Tiger Woods of the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay. The beef is trimmed and slathered with English mustard, quickly seared, and wrapped in mushrooms and prosciutto before being encased in pastry and baked. Make sure to really fry your mushrooms; you’ll be surprised at how much water they hold. The more you get out , the crisper the end result. As well, don’t be afraid to try variations on this: the last time I did this was with a tenderloin of veal (I just dropped the cooking times a bit), and with some variations the same principle can be used to cook pork. Oh, and the cricket? Apparently the match opened about the same time we sat down for lunch, and in the drizzle Australia fell apart, giving away 10 wickets to Pakistan for 127 runs. The only thing more spectacular was the way they came back three days later. We were just happy to be eating the Wellington.
Beef Wellington You’ll need 400g Beef fillet 400g Flat mushrooms 4 slices Parma ham English mustard for brushing meat 200g puff pastry 2 Egg yolks To make: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c. 2. Heat some oil in a large pan and quickly fry the seasoned beef all over until it’s brown. Remove and allow to cool. The point of this is simply to sear the beef and seal all those juices in, you don’t want to cook the meat at this stage. Allow to cool and brush generously with the mustard. 3. Roughly chop the mushrooms and blend in a food processor to form a puree. Scrape the mixture into a hot, dry pan and allow the water to evaporate. When sufficiently dry (you’ll be surprised how much water mushrooms hold), set aside and cool. 4. Roll out a generous length of cling film, lay out the four slices of Parma ham, each one slightly overlapping the last. With a pallet knife spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the ham. 5. Place the beef fillet in the middle and keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edge, neatly roll the parma ham and mushrooms over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends to secure the clingfilm. Refrigerate for 10 -15 minutes, this allows the Wellington to set and helps keep the shape. 6. Roll out the pastry quite thinly to a size which will cover your beef. Unwrap the meat from the cling film. Egg wash the edge of the pastry and place the beef in the middle. Roll up the pastry, cut any excess off the ends and fold neatly to the ‘underside’. Turnover and egg wash over the top. Chill again to let the pastry cool, approximately 5 minutes. Egg wash again before baking at 200c for 35 – 40 minutes. Rest 8 -10 minutes before slicing.
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TOUCH LIFE TOYBOX
EPSON EH-DM3 The Epson EH-DM3 All-In-One Home Theatre featuring built in DVD/DivX player, virtual surround sound stereo speakers and a host of automatic set-up features.With the EH-DM3 the DVD Player and virtual surround sound stereo speakers are built in. Simply plug the EH-DM3 into a power point, and you’re ready for the full big screen experience. The EH-DM3 automatically senses the ambient light level in a room and selects the most appropriate theatre colour mode to suit. It can even sense the projected image and adjust the vertical keystone to give you a sharp, square image. With the EH-DM3 you can connect to a multitude of devices including gaming consoles, your digital set-top box, TV tuner, Foxtel and BluRay players. Project your favourite gaming console or PC for a bigger, more exciting experience! You can even run photo slideshows from a USB memory device or CD / DVD or listen to your favourite music CDs. www.epson.co.nz
With Clickfree’s new BackupLink technology featured in the new C2N backup drive series – backing up multiple computers across your home or office network is now completely automatic. Connect the C2N by USB, only one time, to each computer on the network, leave it connected to one of the computers and C2N will automatically backup all of the computers. Clickfree delivers another industry first by completely automating the set-up of a backup device for multiple computers in the home or office – it’s truly click free. No IT or computer knowledge is required, the C2N follows the same degree of simplicity found in all Clickfree products – no set-up, configuration or reading is required to perform backup. The C2N will be available in 250GB, 320GB, 500GB and 640GB. www.clickfree.com
Late for a meeting? Ring in from the bus. They’ll never know! The Bluetooth Noise Shield Handsfree VH700’s dual microphones filter away background noise. To create the ultimate Noise Shield. Clip on the Bluetooth Noise Shield Handsfree VH700. To any outfit. Where it suits you best. Discreet. Ultra-comfortable. Bluetooth wireless freedom. Bluetooth Noise Shield Handsfree VH700. Who could ask for more? www.sonyericsson.com
BENQ M2700HD BenQ officially has entered the 27” LCD monitor segment with their Full HD 1080p M2700HD, a crossover IT/CE innovation fusing work and play into a single display. The 16:9 LCD monitor outperforms similarly-priced/-sized TVs by delivering better sight and sound via a super-high 50,000:1 DCR, 400-nit brightness, patented Senseye Human Vision Technology, and an exquisite 10-watt EmbracingSound surround sound system. Whether for work or play or both, the M2700HD has the multitasking user conveniently connected to all digital devices without the hassle of unplugging, switching, and reconnecting cables. Thirteen connectors for video in, audio in, and audio out include dual HDMI 1.3 inputs for high-bandwidth and deepcolor sources such as set-top boxes, gaming consoles, and Blu-ray players. www.benq.com
SONY Α230 DSLR CAMERA If you want to take your pictures from snapshots to memorable images, then let a Sony α DSLR put better pictures at your fingertips. The A230 makes shooting with a DSLR easy and fun with its compact and lightweight design, intuitive controls and flexible system options. It’s never been easier to capture the perfect shot. The mode dial on top of the α A230 offers instant access to six Scene Selection modes, each with a user-friendly Help Guide and example photo. You can even customize the user interface and choose from four background colors. Equipped with SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization, this α DSLR camera compensates for shaky hands so you can capture crisp, sharp images at shutter speeds 2.5–3.5 steps slower than would otherwise be possible without using a flash or tripod. www.sonystyle.com
BLUETOOTH MUSIC RECEIVER With the new Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver, you can wirelessly enjoy the music from your iPhone or iPod touch through your home stereo system. It frees you up from being tied down to docks and wires, and puts total control of your device in your hand so you can change tracks without ever getting up from your couch. Connect the receiver to your home stereo system with the included cables, and then easily pair your device to the Receiver wirelessly to listen to, share, and control your music from up to 33 feet away. The Bluetooth Music Receiver uses Bluetooth v2.0 to give you reliable, highquality sound. www.belkin.com
SEE LIFE / PAGES
A sardonic summer Michael Morrissey remembers Edna, and tries to forget moon landing conspiracists HANDLING EDNA: The Unauthorised Biography By Barry Humphries Hachette Australia, $40
Way way back in the sixties, barely after I learned how to shave, a strange character wandered into the cafe of the University of Auckland wearing a monocle, stovepipe jeans and what was utterly incredible and indelibly shocking in that far off pre-Beatle era – long hair. Every eye was agog. Who was this freakish apparition, what was he doing in the cafe of the University and what was he up to? He was handing out leaflets inviting us to watch him perform in the University Hall at lunch time. Needless to say, the hall was packed and I recall Allen Curnow, our greatest poet – who had a keen eye and ear for satire (for after all he was the pungently satiric Whim Wham in the Herald when he wasn’t writing his latest masterpiece, which, if memory serves me correctly, was A Small Room with Large Windows) – being present in the front row. His son Wystan Curnow, founder of the Society of
Independent Intellectuals, (a grandly named undergraduate group of the time) was also present, along with fellow intellectuals Bill Broughton and Max Richards. I’d like to think they were guffawing their heads off but such belt-loosening mirth was not the style of the Society of Independent Intellectuals – nor Allen Curnow, known for the dryness of his acerbic wit. Now something even more shocking happened. The monocled one came on stage dressed as a woman. In this age of hero parades and rampant drag, it is hard to convey just how radical, shocking, outlandish, freakish and unnatural this was in Auckland in 1961. Odd though it may sound to some, Humphries doesn’t see himself as playing in “drag” but simply a male actor playing a woman – which he does with weirdly accurate consummate satiric gusto. The amazing thing about this is that the very women he is sending up seem to love him the most. Actually, Edna (aka Humphries) simply bewildered us with the shock of the comically satiric cross-dressing new. In fact, Humphries, dressed as a woman actor (I
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keep wanting to say in drag because it’s the term we now use), played a down at heels housewife who mouthed cutting edge warnings about the Cold War, shortly – within a year – to reach Bay of Pigs boiling point. Edna’s 1961 dowdy drag (sorry mate, I can’t resist the more modish term this time), was modelled on a less than glam figure known unkindly as The Frump From Moonie Ponds. And the photo shown in the biography opposite page 5 gave me the weirdest frisson of recognition – I was remembering this sharp-tongued slattern from nearly 40 years ago in Auckland University’s Hall. Humphries’ fake biography is in a way a campy tilt at himself. At times, one wonders who is Jekyll (Humphries?) and who is Hyde? ( Edna?) Or is it the other way round? The wonder of it is that Humphries has been able to sustain this whole gender leg pull for over 40 years. And he only gets better at it. By now, his much practiced muscular falsetto must be ready to shatter the champagne glasses that might be sneered at by either alter ego. It seems that the gifted Humphries can not only act brilliantly, but
write with elegant excellence. Step back respectfully, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the presence of genius.
BUZZ ALDRIN: Magnificent Desolation With Ken Graham Bloomsbury Publishing, $38
Every so often I run into an undereducated nerd or horn-rimmed geek who thinks he knows it all because he sports a cellphone that can gargle in 47 languages and shows a few dozen thumbnail sketches of his puffy mug slobbering over his dumb-as girlfriend without, alas, a pixilation in sight. (If only the damn things would pixilate but they don’t – you have to see the horror in full colour and crystal-clear definition.. The average moon-denying astronaut scepticdickhead’s idea of romance is like an early Peter Jackson movie – a splatter of slobber. Or should that be a slobber of splatter?) Pig-ignorant nerds tell me that the moon shot was a hoax. Yeah, right. Like Hillary didn’t actually climb Everest, he did it in a hangar just behind Mt Hobson. Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was not a Nepalese guide, as is popularly believed, but hailed from Otara and cleans toilets to this day at the Wiri Tavern after the bros have chundered in the Big White Telephone for the seventh time. Yeah, right. When you saw Hillary
gasping on a bottle of oxygen, that was a can of coke cunningly disguised as an oxygen tank. It actually contained a Purple Goanna which was big about 1990 with teens trying to be cool-as with a drink that no self respecting drunk would be seen dead with under Grafton Bridge especially if they trying to drink themselves to death. What you thought was snow was actually camel fluff flown in from the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia after a sandstorm in ice cream cones hidden in pillowcases carried by Gold Coasters trying to trade up their squalid bedsits for a ride aboard Sir Richard Branson’s rocket. Yeah, right. In other words, teenage morons, who think cellphones are cool, when they’re nothing but techno con-artist’s pieces of useless junk ... Neil Armstrong WAS THE FIRST MAN TO SET FOOT ON THE MOON And Buzz Aldrin was the SECOND. End (or beginning) of story. Are we crystal? Or have our minds been suffocating on fake moon dust? – Aided and abetted by illthought wacko theories hatched up conspiracy nuts (often American) who are trying to score left wing Brownie points by rubbishing their country’s technological prowess. Armstrong and Aldrin’s mutual feat makes a gold medal at the Olympics look like a barrow full of cash from the Wiemar Republic.
As for those thick-as guys with bum fluff beards who wonder why the flag was flapping supposedly in an Arizona breeze, I say – get a life. Anyone who says Buzz Aldrin did not walk on the moon needs either a good punch on the kisser or to check their medication. Or has the brains of a lobotomised wombat. And those telephone number salary-earning dudes known as trick cyclists, who give you Prozac to smooth out the horrors of reality, because as we know Prozac cures everything – including the ability to make love – they don’t help a jot. After a few months of being numbed out of your skull, and your psyche turned into cotton wool by shrinks who drive Mercs, you’ll believe anything – including that Buzz Aldrin did not walk on the moon when all the evidence says he did. Got that cellphoners?. In fact, 12 men have walked on the moon. SIX expeditions. Between 1969 and 1972. I’m sorry the moonshots didn’t do chicks at the time. They were too busy head-banging to Led Zeppelin and inhaling alternative substances. Nor in 1969, did your average chickadee from East Texas have a PhD in astrophysics – nor was she capable of piloting an X etc plane at five times the speed of sound. Or even once the speed of sound. In 1969, there were no chicks with the Right Stuff. Yes, there was Chuck but he was too old for the moonshot in 1969 despite having 40/20 eyesight and enough cool to freeze helium. So there it is folks. Read this wonderful warm biography and find out why Buzz is one of the luckiest men alive Why he’s even got a beautiful wife (as he deserves to have) and on the back of the cover they look radiantly happy. In fact, they look over the moon. And at least one of them took an actual moonwalk unlike that plastic imitator who pretended to do a “moonwalk”. OK, so Michael Jackson had something – bad plastic surgery and a creepy way of talking. But he never did any moonwalking on the moon. Buzz did. He bounced in/on that one-third earthforce gravity like a kid dancing on the bottom of a shallow swimming pool lined with lapis lazuli. Read and be awed. Hey, back then Vice President Spiro Gearloose said. “We’ve been to the moon, now let’s go to Mars.” That was probably the only sensible thing the high-revving Spiro ever said and it was a beaut. It was estimated
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at the time that could have sent a man to Mars in the mid-80s for the bargain basement price of $24 billion. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War began heating up otherwise we’d have been be sipping dry martinis on the red planet right now. Alas for cellphone addicts now numbering billions, reception on Mars is less than clear. However, by the time we’ve turned Mars into a beach head, we may have to reinvent telepathy with a little help from telepathine – Old Bull Lee thought it had potential – and other Latin American substances said it would enhance the power of the mind. Maybe so, maybe not so. But hey, don’t get me wrong. Buzz was and is a good clean all-American guy who deserves to stand alongside the great explorers of history. Buzz, I d like to shake your hand any time real soon. PS. The first atomic bomb they dropped on Hiroshima was also a fake – they did it Winstone’s Quarry. But unfortunately the evidence is now buried under the rubble of a housing development. As far as I know, James Cameron directed the movie and got showered with radioactive Oscars. You ain’t altogether a bad guy James but you haven’t walked on the moon like Buzz. And to think I used to bite Buzz bars on the ice without realising I was paying unwitting tribute to a great man. I think when Neil and Buzz went walking on the moon it put a smile on the face of God. (I wonder if there is cellphone coverage in heaven?)
Sydney bridge upside down By David Ballantyne Text Publishing, $32
David Ballantyne was one of the nicest writers I have ever met. He was also a very highly principled and left-leaning moral man without a trace of righteousness in his psyche. And like all hard-bitten journos of the day he waterholed in the Queen’s Ferry and knocked the amber fluid back before the froth lost more than a molecule-thin layer of foam. With a lit fag never far from his lips, Ballantyne smoked 40 cigs a day and died of lung cancer in his early 60s. . Yeah, David, was a nice lovely man which couldn’t be said of some American writers I met like the sad old bitter cynic Saul Bellow and the cold superior Susan Sontag who should have gone to charm school for a few weeks at least to rub off some of those nasty sharp New York corners. Ballantyne corresponded with leading American writers of the
40s, like James T Farrell (a favourite model for his own work) and Calder Willingham. Ballantyne successfully applied for a green card in the 40s but never took it up partly because his wife Vivienne (a painter), was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. According to his son Stephen (also a journalist and script writer), his father really wanted to be like the famous left wing American writers (particularly Farrell) and in way he was – though never quite enjoying the same international recognition. His first novel, The Cunninghams, precociously published at 23, (and according to his son may have been written at age 18, which makes him a genius in my book), made his mark, though I have to confess this misery-making kind of kitchen sink realism was never my cup of Earl’s. None of his other seven novels had quite the same impact, until his pen, as it were, crossed Sydney Bridge Upside Down. This simple, eloquent yet complex work – the fifth of his eight novels – was published in 1968. Though he was a full staff member of the Auckland Star, his work regimen was strict – he would start writing (creatively) at 4pm after the day’s work for some two hours and would knock out a good 1000 words a session. As retired Professor Lawrence Jones – the only person to read every New Zealand novel published – accurately wrote in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, “Sydney Bridge Upside Down makes a real advance in its use of dream material and an unreliable, manipulative narrator.” He praises it as a book about growing up, worthy to stand alongside Janet Frame’s enormously famous Owls Do Cry and Ian Cross’s The God Boy. In New Zealand terms, praise can’t get any more any stratospheric. However, Ballantyne’s account of murderous adolescence has a darker and more blackly humorous tone, as critic C.K. Stead acutely pointed out when comparing Ballantyne’s haunting tale with the more celebrated works of Ronald Hugh Morrieson. Ballantyne has been a largely neglected though important New Zealand writer even though articles were published on him by the aforementioned indefatigable C.K Stead and well-known critic Patrick Evans, renown for his ingenious but hilariously inaccurate ideas about New Zealand writers. Apart from being associated with the critically well received The Cunninghams, Ballantyne has remained a little known figure. A recent biography by Brian Reid has helped dispel
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the clouds of relative obscurity and this new reprinting of SBUD, Ballantyne has squarely come back into the sun. This novel is one of those books which works its blackly humorous spell as you romp through it. Ballantyne might have written a sequel to this important and unjustly neglected work but unfortunately, like so many writers – perhaps he was again aping American models (or the hard drinking journos of the day) – the demon drink took its toll on his creative energy, as well as the 40 cigarettes which eventually killed him. By the by, Sydney Bridge Upside Down has nothing to do with Sydney or its famous bridge and the title character is a swaybacked horse. Moreover, rather than being set in Sydney, the book’s narration is centred around Hicks Bay over Gisborne way. Since this is rural New Zealand, the narrator-killer doesn’t use a Magnum 44 to dispatch his victims but gives them a good shove off a cliff. And, like that totally frightening killer in the Coen brothers recent masterpiece No Country for Old Men, our psychopathic anti-hero doesn’t get caught. Nonetheless, I believe that in some fictional Valhalla all bad guys get what’s coming to them. On the other hand, what’s coming to David Ballantyne is long overdue heightened recognition for creating two of our most important novels – The Cunninghams and Sydney Bridge Upside Down.
LAW BREAKERS & MISCHIEF MAKERS: 50 Notorious New Zealanders By Bronwyn Sell A & U, $42.99
Some time back, the famous English playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in the notes to his play Man and Superman, every man over 40 is a scoundrel. If this is so, why aren’t I listed among this copious of scoundrels (and few scoundrelettes – such as Amy Bock who used to pass herself off as a man to lay the seeds for fraud). Most of these characters are not the type one would easily take home to mother, nonetheless some plausible, even well-dressed rogues are included – like Edward Gibbon Wakefield. When many of these pocket portraits do their terse summary of a roguish life style well, there are some flaws. The famous conman Murray Beresford Roberts cunningly executed a highly sophisticated deception to pass himself off as Baron Von Krupp, a leading German industrialist and
While this book may serve a relevant introduction to some bad ass New Zealanders to the uninitiated, it is in some ways a lazily researched compilation – the kind of book you might expect from a Herald journalist
arms manufacturer yet the whole masquerade is passed off in two words. By now there is a familiar rogues’ gallery that has been visited regularly by many lightweight historians – a litany of murderers and morally challenged folk that includes such villains as eg Minnie Dean, Amy Bock, Lionel Terry (who killed an innocent elderly Chinese gentleman – our sole Asian racist killing but nowadays continually recycled on TV, radio, articles etc as well as explored in Amy Wong’s recent mediocre novel As The Earth Turns Silver. This endless panoply of recycling the sole Lionel Terry sole Asian racist murder is symbolic of that dull part of the New Zealand that seeks to prove we are not a paradise but just like any other country – look we have racist murders too just like the rest of the world. But alas, there has only been a single case and apparently Terry’s sanity was called into question. The Cohens are rather unlikely “villains” – more pathetic than sinister. And why didn’t crime historian Sell include the monstrous Bell who bludgeoned three people to death at the Panmure RSA? And the Bain case continues – by its omission – to suggest an uneasy presence that alas cannot now be legally speculated upon too boldly in print.. While this book may serve a relevant introduction to some bad ass New Zealanders to the uninitiated, it is in some ways a lazily researched compilation – the kind of book you might expect from a Herald journalist. Renown for its decades long dullness, dear old Granny Herald, as it used to be called, has never been noted for the sparkle of its writing. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM February 2010 91
SEE LIFE / MUSIC
Slaying vampires Chris Philpott drives a stake through the latest release from Vampire Weekend, but finds The Big Pink a tastier morsel Ok Go
The Big Pink
It must be hard to try and escape being tagged a ‘One Trick Pony’. Just ask Chicago band Ok Go who faced that very challenge following the 2005 release of a trio of creative music videos that went viral on YouTube – you may remember them as the lovable four-some working their way through a choreographed dance routine on 8 treadmills. As if to prove the point the group have taken 5 years to release Of The Blue Colour of the Sky – their third full length – to allow some of the hype surrounding them to pass, while venturing into deep creative territory with a concept record that they hope will add another string to their bow. The album is musically diverse, with heavily synthesized beats (such as on opener “WTF?”) and eclectic guitar work (“Needing/Getting”) proving a massive departure from the groups previous poprock sound. Singer Damien Kulash ties everything together lyrically with a loose concept based on a passage from a book by a little known 19th century army official and while it doesn’t always work, it does provide a unique, thoughtful listen. Though most will prefer the aforementioned ‘treadmill’ video, you have to at least admire the group for trying.
Relative newcomers to the international scene, The Big Pink were formed in London by Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell in 2007 (and named for the debut album by the band, The Band). While the duo tour with the support of a 6 piece band, A Brief History of Love – their debut effort – was actually recorded by Furze and Cordell with very little help from the outside. The result is a focused record that takes you on a journey as a listener, moving very little from its immense sound and scope. Singles “Too Young to Love”, “Dominos” and “Velvet” testify to this, combining electronic elements reminiscent of groups like The Prodigy and Does It Offend You, Yeah, and rock elements that hark back to the early-90s heyday of industrial rock – acts like Nine Inch Nails, The Cure and Ministry come to mind, though The Big Pink tend to stick to much more mainstream ground. Vocally, Furze channels the spirit of The Smiths, with his matter-of-fact delivery providing the perfect accompaniment for the dark, yet incredibly enjoyable music here. This isn’t an album for everyone, but if you are looking for a truly entertaining, creative listen then this could be for you.
It seems sad to me that a number of reviews of Vampire Weekend’s highly anticipated sophomore album have focused on the groups’ supposed “preppy” or “privileged” upbringing, being that the group met while attending Columbia University, a private school and member of the Ivy League. Still other reviewers have mentioned their contrived interest in African and Caribbean music; the group themselves have labelled their sound “Upper West Side Soweto”. I don’t believe either of these factors can affect a band’s ability to create good music – or even great music – any more than country of origin or gender of members. Unfortunately for Vampire Weekend, their upbringing and a shared interest in world music also don’t help protect them from creating bad music, such as that contained on Contra. Actually, it’s not so much that the music is bad than that it appears to be completely thoughtless – it just seems like the Weekend are going into a recording studio and putting down the first track that comes to mind, with little tweaking or consideration given to the end result. Since the same could be said of their debut, it almost seems insulting that the group wouldn’t at least try to offer something new on this follow-up.
Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky 3 stars
A Brief History Of Love 4 stars
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Contra 1 star
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SEE LIFE / MOVIES
Too much creep The Lovely Bones dwells on its dark side
THE LOVELY BONES
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz Directed by: Peter Jackson Rated: PG-13 (for mature thematic material and some language) Running time: 135 minutes 3 stars By turns warmly sentimental, serial-killer sinister and science-fiction fantastical, The Lovely Bones was an unlikely book to achieve worldwide success. In the film version, those mismatched elements come back to haunt the story, so to speak, making the final product more hit-and-miss than unblemished triumph. It wasn’t only the bestselling nature of Alice Sebold’s novel that made Bones one of the most anticipated films of the year. It was the participation of director Peter Jackson and his regular screenwriting collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, the team that had a considerable triumph with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And Jackson is successful re-creating parts of this story told by a 14-year-old girl who is savagely murdered in 1973 and then watches for years from a kind of in-between state that
she calls “the blue horizon between heaven and earth” as her friends, her family and her killer go on about their lives. His best move by far was casting young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, Oscar-nominated for her compelling role in Atonement, as the murdered Susie Salmon. An enormously gifted performer, Ronan is the only element of the film that is exactly as it should be, bringing naturalness, honesty and radiance to the part of a young woman just on the cusp of life. Other elements, including The Lovely Bones’ imaginative notion of what Susie’s afterlife looks like, are strong, but everything that’s good is undermined by an overemphasis on one part of the story that is essential but has been allowed to overflow its boundaries. That would be the film’s decision to foreground its weirdest, creepiest, most shocking elements, starting with the decision to give a much more prominent role to murderer George Harvey. Expertly played by Stanley Tucci, so transformed by makeup as to be almost unrecognizable, Harvey is such an unsettling, toxic individual that the actor says he came close to turning down the role. It’s not only Harvey that we see in sometimes grotesque detail, it’s the bizarre dec-
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orations of the underground murder site that we watch him ever so carefully plan and build, as well as the realistic bodies of his previous victims. And there is of course the chilling time the family spends trying to solve Susie’s murder. Though it’s unfortunate, this focus will not be a shock to those who know Jackson’s films. The director (visible in an amusing cameo examining a movie camera in a shopping mall) began his career with a fondness for splatter-type material with titles like Bad Taste and Braindead. It may even be that the chance to fool around with this kind of stuff on a more high-tone level was one thing that drew the filmmaker to the novel in the first place. Because the book was such a major success, The Lovely Bones pretty much had its choice of actors for key roles, and in selecting two strong performers, Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz, as Susie’s father, Jack, and mother, Abigail, both devastated in their own ways by their daughter’s death, the film undeniably chose well. But though both actors have their moments, the film’s erratic mixture of emotional tones, its decision to go back and forth from missing-Susie sadness to serial-killer
sadism, undercuts their ability to give resonant performances. One element of the film that is consistently involving is the dreamscape look of the in-between world where Susie spends her time watching her murderer scheme, her sister Lindsey (Rose McIver) grow up and her parents fall apart. A field of barley that changes into a rolling ocean, huge versions of the ships-in-a-bottle that were her father’s hobby, roses blooming under frozen lakes, they all speak to a world, created by New Zealand’s Weta Digital and beautifully shot by cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, that is particular to Susie but special to us all. Though The Lovely Bones never overcomes its tendency to push things too hard, there are moments, almost invariably involving star Ronan, that resonate with the book’s comforting notion of a sentient afterlife. To hear Susie speak the novel’s signature lines about “the lovely bones that had grown around my absence” as she comes to terms with “the world without me in it” is to feel what we’ve been wanting to feel for a long time. It’s also to wish that the entire film were as effective as these best moments, but that was not to be. By Kenneth Turan
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng Directed by: Clint Eastwood Rated: PG (for brief strong language) Running time: 134 minutes 4 stars Once upon a time there was a controversial black president attempting to lead a nation still struggling with old racial divisions. When Nelson Mandela won South Africa’s highest office, many Afrikaners feared turmoil and reprisals. Some of his supporters expected a stern payback for the nation’s white minority after generations of apartheid. He kept both factions off-balance while aiming for the big score: a united nation making a clean break from its past. Alongside his internal and international initiatives, Mandela sought a symbol all South Africans could rally around. He found it in the Springboks, the virtually allwhite national rugby team. Their record was spotty, and the nation’s blacks disdained the team as a holdover from the days of white minority rule. But if they could be prodded into the championship playoffs, they could be a unifying symbol of national pride.
Clint Eastwood’s Invictus tells this tale in a sturdy, straightforward, agreeably square manner. It’s a film of big themes played out on a grand scale, a story of races and generations making an effort to connect. The setting is unusual, but it’s told in a style that’s immediate and understandable, never opting for heroism at the expense of authenticity. Where others might imply, Eastwood has little concern for subtlety, at least concerning the big-picture issues. When needed, he has message songs, cheering crowds and Morgan Freeman reciting “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” to drive his point home. As Mandela, Freeman gives a performance of triumphant intelligence. His presence is commanding yet modest and decent, the sensitive father figure incarnate. Whenever he encounters a foe, he speaks in a tranquil, hypnotic tone, gently breaking his opponent as if he were a beautiful horse. When he first strides into the presidential offices, his predecessor’s staff greets him with cold reluctance. With a few conciliatory words he persuades them to stay on and do their best work for their country. He would rather convert an adversary than defeat him. This film should be required viewing for anyone who wants to run a government. Matt Damon is convincing as the captain of the Springboks, a wary fellow who becomes ever more humane as the film moves along. He’s here not to score a star turn but to serve the story with a couple of (impeccably accented) go-team speeches. His pivotal scene is one where he’s virtually silent, a soul-searching visit to Mandela’s old cell and rock quarry in Robben Island Prison, the crucible that transformed him from a hotheaded revolutionary to a disciplined pragmatist. With his blocky frame, Damon looks like he can hold his own in the bruising rugby scrimmages against New Zealand’s national side, the All Blacks. Invictus is one of Eastwood’s most uplifting and inspirational films. It’s a reminder that on the fields of sport and politics, being the coach is a lot more than diagramming plays. It’s about leadership and helping people grow and getting individuals to work together. The film keeps returning to a keynote of optimism, but it’s not facile. This is optimism of a carefully considered and convincingly argued kind, the sort that only a humanist who’s spent a long life watching civilization betray its potential can honestly express. By Colin Covert
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SEE LIFE / THE CUTTING ROOM
Armageddon-it Denzel Washington is a revelation in Book of Eli, Steven Zeitchik discovers For a guy who’s just seen the end of the world, Denzel Washington is surprisingly upbeat. The actor projects a studied, scowling quiet for much of his new post-Armageddon thriller The Book of Eli, which makes it a little jarring to meet the actor and find him in an altogether different mode: gregarious, charismatic, Denzel-ish. As he talks about his new role while sipping camomile tea in the lobby bar of a Beverly Hills hotel, he stages a charm offensive – a unique Denzel campaign designed to melt anything in his path. He jokes about razzing one of the film’s directors, an atheist who’s making a movie with religious themes. He indulges an overly excited stranger who stops by the table to gush about a house she once helped Washington’s mother rent. And then he segues into a story about how his mother offered suggestions to Donald Trump on how to handle his business as Trump gave them a ride on his jet from Florida to New York. Dressed in the Friday-afternoon casual of
a (blue) long-sleeve thermal top, (blue) track pants, (blue) retro-Nike running shoes and a (blue) Yankees cap, Washington doesn’t look like a man out to save mankind. But that’s pretty much what he’s doing in this apocalyptic, Bible-flavored Western – think The Road Warrior meets The Road with a touch of Billy Graham. Washington’s titular character wanders laconically through a war-ravaged Earth, protecting the last extant copy of the Bible from a sadistic warlord named Carnegie (Gary Oldman). As the cat-and-mouse game unfolds, Washington’s trademark magnetism is almost entirely absent, replaced by a sullen misanthropy. “You have Denzel doing something in this movie he doesn’t do much – not talking,” says co-director Allen Hughes, who with Albert is the Detroit-born team known as the Hughes brothers (and the non-atheist). The making of Eli, on the other hand, saw plenty of Washington flourishes. First came
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the preparation – before shooting, he spent four hours a day for two months with the filmmakers playing every part in the script. And production brought his usual on-set quippiness, in which he’d make exclamations like “Here goes ‘St. Elsewhere’” on the odd occasion he felt scenes were by-the-numbers. (Washington served as producer and godfather on the film.) But even by the eclectic standards of a man who’s played a professor (The Great Debaters), a detective (Training Day), a soldier (Courage Under Fire), a drug kingpin (American Gangster), a boxer (The Hurricane) and a civil rights leader (Malcolm X,), there’s a decidedly different tint to this role. It’s not just in the dialed-down charisma but the essence of the character who, instead of fighting for secular humanist justice (a Denzel specialty) uses religion and scripture as a weapon. That the actor is a self-professed Christian gives the role a life-imitating-art feel. While the movie’s religious message is ambiguous – is the use of the Bible as a key plot object meant to show its sanctity or simply that it can be exploited? – Eli represents a rare chance for Washington. It’s one of the actor’s first parts in which he gets the frequent opportunity to quote and even improvise lines from the Bible, like the one from Corinthians that “we walk by faith, not by sight,” which he added because a pastor he likes uses it. In fact, the movie could have felt more religious if not for a little studio intervention, according to Washington and Allen Hughes. Even as Warner Bros. has publicized the movie to faith-based media and played off religious themes in its campaign, the studio was sufficiently concerned that they asked the filmmakers to tone down the Bible references in Gary Whitta’s script. “I’ll just be straight about it. I think the studio was nervous about that,” Washington says. “It sometimes got ridiculous in how you were trying to hide it,” he adds. “Sometimes by trying to clean something up so much it becomes about nothing.” (Alcon Entertainment, the company behind the family-values hit The Blind Side, produced the movie and did not interfere, Washington says.) Washington’s presence, in turn, helped get the Hugheses – who return with their first feature in nine years – over the religion hump. “Denzel was the only guy who could solve the problem,” says Allen Hughes. “There are a lot of Bible quotations, and there’s a certain nobility that comes with him that mitigates that.”