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INVESTIGATE January 2010:
Climategate: The Full Story • Obama’s Missing Mojo • Banning Piglet, and other stories
Are we witnessing the breakdown of a presidency?
Climategate What the mainstream media failed to tell you – the full story
Confessions of a Biology Teacher The retirement speech that gave ‘em hell!
The Banning of Piglet
And other stories from Olde England
$8.30 January 2010
INVESTIGATEdigital This is the Adobe Flash edition of Investigate magazine. To zoom in, simply click the mouse on the page, then use the mouse to move the page. Whilst back issues will appear publicly online after they’ve gone off sale at the newsstands, you can purchase a premium digital subscription and get a link to the latest editions as they’re published. If you prefer, you can also purchase a fully functional PDF of the magazine to save to your disk – putting the text of the entire issue at your fingertips. For all these options and more, visit our webstore: http://www.tgifedition.com For access to our news feeds, story archives and blogs, visit our main site: http://www.investigatemagazine.com In the meantime, enjoy, and feel free to share this edition with friends and colleagues.
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18 Obama’s Missing Mojo
Six months ago Newsweek magazine was comparing President Obama to God. Now? Not so hot. MARK STEYN opines on the distintegration of a presidency
46 The Banning of Piglet
There are so many politically correct horror stories emerging from Britain as it succumbs to civilisational suicide that it’s hard to keep up. But HAL COLEBATCH manages to pull some intriguing strings together
28 Climategate: The Full Story 52 Abolishing Income Tax 2 It’s the scandal that has rocked climate science and the UN IPCC to its core. So why haven’t the mainstream media told you the full story on Climategate? IAN WISHART reports
42 Confessions Of A Teacher
Many of us dream of telling our colleagues what we really think when we leave. MARTIN HANSON does exactly that in this extract from his retirement speech as a biology teacher
Tax lawyer BRUCE GRIERSON has an idea – abolish income tax and replace it with something new. Exactly what, he explains right here in Part Two
62 American Jihad
As radical Islam spreads its tentacles deeper into the West, JOSEPH TANFANI explores the strange story behind one jihadi Cover: Newscomo
Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point
Volume 9, Issue 108, ISSN 1175-1290
The roar of the crowd
16 Simply Devine
Miranda Devine on the Sisterhood
18 Mark Steyn The Obama Problem
20 Global Warning Terry Dunleavy on NIWA
22 Eyes Right
Richard Prosser on race
24 Line 1
Chris Carter on climate crime
26 Contra Mundum
Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom
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Peter Hensley on retirement plans
Amy Brooke on political games
Tsunami warning systems
74 Technology Digital recording
Chris Forster on 2009 highlights
Magnetic therapy for depression
Acne drug linked to teen deaths
April sun in Cuba
James Morrow on family meals
Michael Morrissey’s summer reads
Chris Philpott’s CD reviews
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96 Last Word
Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic
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The end of the noughties
here 1999 ended with a bang, the start of a new milTechnically, only a revolution in the streets overthrowing parlialennium and a worldwide Chicken Little scare about ment – before the treaty is ratified – could deviate New Zealand the Y2K bug, here we are ten years down the track from this path. There is no chance of the deal not being ratified and little has changed. We’ve only just gotten around under the current parliamentary makeup: Labour want it, the to saying twenty-ten instead of two-thousand-and-ten, and 2009 Greens want it, and the National Party leadership want it. There (did you say twenty-oh-nine?) has ended with the world still shak- are enough MPs either scared of their bosses or who are genuing off a financial bang and facing the global warming Chicken ine believers in global warming that our sovereignty will be sold Little scare. down the river. Frankly, I still don’t understand why the entire English speaking But the people of New Zealand won’t be the only ones considerworld got hung up on pronouncing each year of the noughties in ing a quiet revolt. There is so much disquiet in the United States full. What was wrong with twenty-oh-one, twenty-oh-two and so that an armed revolt over ratifying a global governance treaty canon? Perhaps our collective inability to get our heads around some- not be ruled out. In Australia, public opposition to the political thing so minor is indicative of a wider malaise afflicting western machinations behind climate change is growing as well. culture – we’re no longer certain of what we should do or say in Here at Investigate, we firmly believe that important decisions various situations. cannot be made in an information vacuum. That’s why we helped Hal Colebatch makes much of this in his latest article for break the Climategate story to the world, and it’s why this issue Investigate where, again, he contains the detail behind analyses with the finesse of Climategate that the daily The truth in the climate debate a cold steel blade the fuzzy media refused to run. political correctness destroyWe are being asked to doesn’t actually matter – the ing Britain literally before bankrupt the New Zealand our eyes. economy on the strength globalists have an agenda and Colebatch pulls together of what is now shown to be a series of threads, each of shonky science and shonkier inconvenient facts are not going scientists. them a horror story in their own merit, but collectively Are we really prepared to to derail it symbolic of something much stake our future on that? The bigger. He likens it to the government’s attitude is that parable of the blind men and the elephant – they can all feel dif- New Zealand has to be seen to be playing its part internationferent parts and come up with different ideas about what they ally or we will suffer. Yeah, right. That’s a cop-out. We risked a are touching, but none of them get a proper handle on what they trade backlash over our anti-nuclear stance and our anti-apartheid are dealing with. stance, yet suddenly we’ve lost our courage? It’s a bit like that with Copenhagen too. The daily media for the Copenhagen is a fuse to a summer of discontent. If that fuse is most part don’t seem to have clue what Copenhagen is really about. not extinguished, it will ignite a winter of far more than ‘disconFormer UK prime minister Tony Blair told the Copenhagen tent’ all over the world. summit that even if the science was not correct, as indicated by Twenty-ten promises to deliver what Confucious once called the Climategate emails, that the world should still act regardless. “interesting times”. In essence, his comments show that the truth in the climate debate doesn’t actually matter – the globalists have an agenda and inconvenient facts are not going to derail it. The limited agreement reached at Copenhagen is not the end of the matter – there will be more talks in 2010 with a view to making it globally legally binding. At that point, once ratified by the New Zealand parliament, we will become part of – in their own words – the ‘new world order’ whether we like it or not. 6 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
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> vox populi
Communiques The roar of the crowd THE ARGUMENT EVOLVES I thought your readers might be interested in a frank admission by philosopher of science, Michael Ruse: “I still remember arguing in the Arkansas court house with one of the most prominent of the literalists (now generally known as creationists). Duane T. Gish, author of the best-selling work, “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!,” resented bitterly what he felt was an unwarranted smug superiority assumed by us from the side of science. “Dr Ruse,” Mr. Gish said, “the trouble with you evolutionists is that you just don’t play fair. You want to stop us religious people from teaching our views in schools. But you evolutionists are just as religious in your way. Christianity tells us where we came from, where we’re going, and what we should do on the way. I defy you to show any difference with evolution. It tells you where you came from, where you are going, and what you should do on the way. You evolutionists have your God, and his name is Charles Darwin.” “At the time I rather pooh-poohed what Mr. Gish said, but I found myself thinking about his words on the flight back home. And I have been thinking about them ever since. Indeed, they have guided much of my research for the past twenty years. Heretical though it may be to say this – and many of my scientist friends would be only too happy to chain me to the stake and to light the faggots piled around – I now think the Creationists like Mr. Gish are absolutely right in their complaint. “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion – a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint – and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it – the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” – Michael Ruse How evolution became a religion, National Post Saturday, May 13, 2000 John, via email
AND EVOLVES FURTHER In quoting Duane Gish, correspondent Warwick Don finds a reference to “God” which leads him to claim that creation science is unscientific. If we were to quote-mine the fathers of science we would find many references to God, not least Kepler’s profession that in his studies he was “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. If we apply Mr Don’s arbitrary criteria we could reach the ridiculous conclusion that the fathers of science did not do science. 8 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Taken in context Dr Gish was simply saying that pushed back far enough creationists would expect to find families of animals (baramin or created kinds) that have no ancestor. Mr Don can hardly regard that as unscientific when he himself believes all living things are descended, by a mechanism unknown to him, from a single cell whose origins are unknown to him. Ironically the situation Dr Gish describes is one that is quite consistent with the present state of scientific knowledge. Even New Scientist, a magazine in no way supportive of creation, has printed articles by evolutionists questioning whether Darwin’s classic tree of life has any authentic structure. Accurate representations of that tree show the trunk and most of the branches dotted in as hypothetical whilst only the furthest extremities of the branches have any solidity. This is consistent with the creationist “orchard of life” where the baramin diverged over time into a range of species through variation and selection. Mr Don claims that the near universal genetic code is evidence for common descent. It is better evidence for a common creator. An analogy for this can be found in the PC. Of the millions of computers worldwide the majority run on the Windows operating system which can be described as a two bit digital code. However there are also PCs running on Linux which is also a two bit digital code but different enough for us to know that it had a different creator to the Windows code. The genetic code is a four bit digital code and is nearly universal. From a creation perspective therefore it is strong evidence for a common creator of organisms with a genetic code. Of course evolution did not predict the genetic code either, it merely accommodated it. Jason Clark, Waitakere
MEANINGLESS, WITHOUT PURPOSE Warwick Don (Nov 2009) should read more carefully. I did not say evolution was an ‘atheistic evolutionary religion’. I said ‘The likes of Warwick Don who obsess with ranting endlessly against creation and asserting that their atheistic evolutionary religion is a scientific fact etc…’ ‘Evolution’ is the ‘creation story’ of his atheistic religion and provides for him the answer to one of life’s fundamentally religious questions, ‘Where did I come from’. It tells him of his place in the universe, and what preceded him in the history of the world. It tells him he is a chance product of a mindless universe, and if he followed the logic of the origin he postulates, he would agree with me that on the basis of such an origin, life is at ‘root meaningless and without purpose’. Beats me why he objects on this point because plenty of athe-
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ists have spelt it out. For example, William Provine said, “Let me summarise my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear and I must say that these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods. No purposive forces of any kind. No life after death. When I die I am absolutely certain that I’m going to be completely dead… There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans either.” More importantly however, in his letter Warwick made an attempt to escape the headlock I put him in regarding the origin of life. This attempt dismissed my charge that ‘…if life could not get going naturalistically, then evolution is dead on the starting blocks’, as a ‘hoary old chestnut’, because ‘…organic evolution is a process concerned with what has occurred (and is occurring) after the appearance of life and the genetic code’. Thus, because ‘organic evolution’ does not deal with the origin of life (his claim), he doesn’t have to answer my charge! Apparently Warwick evades the question today just as he did fifteen odd years ago when I first put it to him. His reply then was ‘…any difficulties encountered by those concerned with chemical evolution and biogenesis [origin of life] are irrelevant to the status of organic evolution itself.’ The evidence from zoology and biology, he said, ‘is such that we can be highly confident that evolution did indeed “get going”’. Anybody who’s done any thinking about it knows ‘evolution’ doesn’t just refer to ‘organic evolution’ but the origin of the universe, the evolution of galaxies, stars, planets, the origin of life, biology, cultures, religions, and morals. It is a total/all encompassing explanation of the universe. What sort of specious thinking is this that for the sake of maintaining his position, seeks to persistently evade the hard question? However, his tactic does not work! Within Warwick’s view, the origin of genetic information is not confined to the time the genetic code originated. No, throughout the whole history of life, from the very first encoding that must have occurred, up to the present, the genetic information has been increasing in content and complexity until it now codes for all aspects of all biology on earth. Even granting some naturalistic events which could have originally brought about the existence of the genetic code – events Warwick refuses to address, the origin of the new informational content of genomes throughout the history of life is something he does have to address as this ‘process’ is the absolute guts of ‘organic evolution’. Without new, novel, genetic informational content, there would be no new body plans or structures, or biological functions. These are all information derived, and so Warwick, please tell us how new, original genetic information is brought about naturalistically. In other words, please tell us what the ‘process’ of ‘organic evolution’ is. I do not recall ever hearing Warwick explain this, either to my satisfaction or not. Warwick then went on to say: ‘ The near universality of the genetic code strongly supports the view that life has arisen only once on this planet and that therefore all organisms are related to one another through common descent.’ For goodness sake, Warwick knows, as I do, that that is only one possibility – and actually it’s not one supported by the evidence at all due to its total inability to explain the origin of new genetic information naturalistically. The other option of course is that a Creator used a common language of life with which to build all the various forms of life there are. Thus what the ‘near universality of the genetic code’ points to is 10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
not ‘common descent’ but the mind of the Maker of the various organisms. Thus there is not one ‘tree of life’ (common descent) but a ‘forest of trees’, each tree having a separate origin through the Creators design and activity. In a similar way, all the various sorts of wheels utilized in cars and trucks, for example, are not similar because of common ancestral descent, but because of the utilization of a common idea by designers. Renton Maclachlan, Porirua
ENTER THE DON In response to Jason Clark (November 2009), I still maintain that using as a definition of evolution Kerkut’s linking of the origin of life with the hypothesis that all living forms are descended from a single form, rather than avoiding confusion simply adds to it. Problems associated with the elucidation of how life arose naturalistically are really not the concern of organic evolutionists. What has occurred since the appearance of the first organisms, and how, are their concerns. Another point worth making is that Kerkut’s Implications of Evolution, in which he outlines what he calls his Special and General Theories of Evolution and where he discusses several problem areas in biological evolution, was published in 1960. Suffice to say, half a century is a long time in such a rapidly advancing field of research. I suggest that the aspect of evolution most relevant in the current debate is Darwin’s theory of descent with modification, dealing with the occurrence of evolution and the evidence for it. Mr Clark has chosen to reject, without justification, the explanation I gave (October 2009) of how ‘prediction’ is applied in the historical sciences, in this case to the nested hierarchy as conceived by Linnaeus and now seen by evolutionists as further confirmation of Darwin’s principle of common descent. Your correspondent writes: “…the general theory [presumably a reference to the hypothesis above] predicts only one pattern. That is a clearly defined lineage from ancestor to descendant. That is the pattern necessary to establish evolution as a viable option. It is this pattern of a clear lineage that is lacking from the evidence.” Since the aforementioned nested arrangement of life translates into a complex bush of relationships, there are obviously many lineages of descent within the overall pattern of life, lineages of varying degrees of elucidation. As for claiming, with reference to the fossil record, that “the evidence for evolution remains as scanty as it was in Darwin’s day”, this is arrant nonsense. I recommend he read Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald R. Prothero. It is worth noting here that the establishment of evolution “as a viable option” is not dependent on the fossil record, as Richard Dawkins so brilliantly demonstrates in his latest tome, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. For Mr Clark’s information, bestowing transitional status on a particular fossil species, far from being a totally subjective process, is based on specific (diagnostic) morphological structures. In the case of major groups, such fossils show a mixture of features characteristic of an earlier evolved group and derived features characteristic of a later or descendant group. I’m pleased Jason Clark mentions Tiktaalik because not only is it a highly valued additional “inhabitant” of a vital transitional zone in vertebrate evolution, but its discovery was predicted – the culmination of a deliberate search in sediments from the most likely ancient environment (rivers) and time (early Late-Devonian) to find an intermediate between Panderichthys, a tetrapod-like lobe-finned fish and tet-
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rapods, such as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega. [Tetrapods are all the “four-footed” or “four-legged” vertebrates.] Your correspondent writes: “Mr Don ought to know the difference between a scientific statement about the galactic location of the Earth, and the philosophical question of the Earth’s place in the cosmos.” Just three observations on this typically mixed-up statement: ‘galactic’ pertains to a single galaxy, usually to our Milky Way Galaxy, not to the cosmos as a whole; “Earth’s place in the cosmos” i.e. its location in time and space, is a scientific question (within the province of cosmology), not a philosophical one; any implications derived from a scientific conclusion (which necessarily must always be provisional) are of a philosophical nature and may become incorporated into a particular belief system or life stance. Mr Clark concludes with: “Mr Don wants to see science taught in the science classroom. So do I. However, he has yet to establish that evolution is science.” A vital ingredient of any science is the ability to test explanations against the natural world. The theory of common descent with modification has been tested numerous times and has yet to be found wanting. Mr Clark has chosen to reject without good reason the two perfectly valid examples of testing through prediction I have already provided in this correspondence, the occurrence of a nested hierarchy of groups, and the presence of transitional forms between major groups in the fossil record (October 2009). However, here’s another legitimate test for good measure: evolution would be falsified if even one authentic out of sequence fossil were ever found in the fossil record, e.g. a fossil ‘human’ in the Carboniferous or, to cite J.B.S. Haldane’s famous example, fossil rabbits in the Precambrian. No such anachronistic fossils have ever been found. Evolution is scientific and, because of its pre-eminent status in biology, it is rightly regarded as a key component of any science curriculum. Warwick Don, Dunedin
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION Have just read your excellent book Air Con which just about says it all for me. However I read an article in the London Sunday Times (13/12/09) by Charles Clover stating that CO2 is the major cause of ocean acidification and for that reason alone levels should be 12 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
reduced. This guy appears to be a full on bigot anyway but is this just a theory or could it be fact? John Powles, UK WISHART RESPONDS:
Thankfully, the ocean acidification scare is a con as well, attackable from a number of angles. Firstly, technically it is not ‘acidification’, because there is not enough free carbon in the system at present to push the ocean pH levels low enough to actually become acidic. Instead, it is a reduction in alkalinity. The question is why. The scare story says so much CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans that the net effect is to de-alkalinise the sea. As the story goes, this will lead to the hard calcium-based shells of shell fish and other marine organisms to weaken, causing mass extinctions etc and killing the food chain. The story says that it takes millions of years for alkaline calcium carbonates created by plankton and other organisms to re-balance the pH level, so a turnaround cannot be hoped for in our lifetimes. However, a peer reviewed study in the journal Science this year suggests by implication that over-fishing could actually be the biggest culprit in so-called ‘ocean acidification’. http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/pressreleases/20090116-flounder.html That’s because it turns out fish may be one of the biggest creators of alkalinity in the sea through a previously little understood biological mechanism that creates alkalines rapidly to help fish regulate their environment immediately, not over millions of years. Given that we have strip-mined fish from the oceans in recent decades, this could be the biggest reason the oceans are getting less alkaline. The problem is easily solved – cut back on bad fishing practice. There are, as I said, other ways of looking at the problem, including that climate scientists and their hangers on took an overly pessimistic view of the ability of marine life to adapt to changing conditions in the oceans. All the evidence from evolutionary biology is that adaptation is rapid, not slow, and indeed the latest studies are showing some species are already thriving on the changes.
A BELIEVER WRITES I’ve seen countless accounts of all skeptics and would like your opinion on if all the Himalaya snowfall, glaciers and polar regions melt how will the people live. If you and all your skeptics friends are in self denial please live in Tokelau, Greenland, Tibetan high country and other regions being ravaged by climate change:-Ban-
gladesh would be good for all of you lot. Personally I’d love nothing better than to live and breath [sic] clean air on a city corner, drink and eat green tea and chemical free produce. I’m with the world activists as their time is now and will be for my children [sic] sake. Idon’t [sic] believe anything to do with the solar sun and concurrent mickey mouse ideals of those other fools in the opposing camp and look forward to buying my first electric car powered by solar electricity off my roof and investing in cleantech energy shares as fossil fuels will be on their way out by 2015 or sooner if the USA and Iran don’t go to war. Garth Spooner, via email WISHART RESPONDS:
Good of you to take the time to inquire. Don’t know if you have read Air Con or not but you should, as it cites the specific peer reviewed studies in journals like Nature and Science that answer some of your questions. HIMALAYAS: Indian scientists have rubbished the IPCC suggestion that the Himalayas are melting due to global warming. The Himalayas, like other major glacier systems around the world, are giving up the area they gained during the Little Ice Age that ran from 1300 thru 1850. This is a natural die-back, not CO2 related. The Himalayan situation is aggravated by dust from the Asian Brown Cloud which cloaks the glaciers making them absorb more sunlight. Yes, they are in poor shape. But you could stop the world’s carbon usage tomorrow and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the specific problem in the Himalayas. ARCTIC SEA ICE: currently increasing from its 2007 lows. Has actually been above the 30 year average at various times this year. Antarctic sea ice is at record levels in modern history, so overall planetary sea ice balance is good. Peer reviewed study in Science a month or so back confirmed Arctic was actually 30% hotter than it is now, back in the 1930s. Naturally. We may have been a bit premature jumping to conclusions about human influence on the Arctic. TIBETAN HIGH COUNTRY: See Himalayas TOKELAU: And other Pacific atolls. If you recall your high school geography lessons, you may vaguely remember learning about the life cycle of coral atolls. Volcano blows up to become island, gradually erodes over time. Coral grows around crater rim, then coral atoll sinks beneath the waves as volcanic seamount sinks into the Earth’s mantle under its own weight. Atoll disappears. Granted, the atolls shouldn’t be affected as much as they are, but if you get a UNDP official in a dark room alone, as I have, you’ll find the UN knows the real reason: most of the islanders thought Pakeha bang-sticks were a great way to fish, so they used dynamite in their coral lagoons to stun fish for easy collection on the surface. Over the decades, the repeated explosions killed and disintegrated the coral. Once the coral began to fall away, the inner lagoons no longer had protection from ocean rollers and islands have increasingly been eroded, like Takuu. Chemical fishing in the lagoons is a variation on the same theme…it too killed the coral. And of course in many islands the dead coral was dredged and used to build roads. UNDP official was personally present when seniors from head office in NY arrived to tell islanders not to bother mentioning dynamite fishing but to blame their erosion on global warming, as they would then be eligible for climate assistance. Sea levels are not rising uncontrollably in the Pacific, instead, damaged atolls are eroding away and or sinking (Takuu is going down at the rate of almost 30 centimetres a year…far in excess of the 1.7mm average increase in sea level each year). GREENLAND: The journal Science has reported this year
“Greenland’s ice Armageddon has come to an end”, that the rate of melt has slowed dramatically as the planet begins to cool again. By the way, even if Greenland did start to melt ‘uncontrollably’ it would take more than a thousand years to do so. THE SUN: You may not “believe” it is the sun, but inconveniently it appears to be. Solar activity in the past century was much higher than the previous 1000 years, and additionally there’s been more sun hitting the planet surface because we’ve cleared the sky of much pollution. This is cited by the UK Met Office. The leaked emails from the climate scientists show they themselves acknowledge they can find no evidence of human impact on climate prior to 1970, and the only evidence of human involvement after 1970 is based on computer projections, not empirical scientific data. I don’t think they confide inconvenient details like that at Greenpeace rallies, but you can read it for yourself in the leaked emails.
Poetry Is it poetry? Then send submissions to Poetry Editor Amy Brooke:firstname.lastname@example.org MS GREY Her Mona Lisa smile is tucked away in the attic. Looking out of dormer windows, pale and cocooned, she seems aloof , enigmatic. Her attic is festooned with paraphernalia from her past, a teddy bear, faded objets d’art, a wilderness of mirrors. Heavy-headed daffodils of genus Narcissus poeticus are drooping thoughtfully towards her marble-topped table. She stares at herself in a gilt-framed mirror, discovers a crack running across her face and confronts her broken identity – the thickness of an artery wall from the edge of eternity. Erling Jensen
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 15
> simply devine
Abbott’s real trouble is the sisterhood
pparently, Tony Abbott has woman trouble. Despite the fact he has three daughters, a wife, two sisters and a mother who adore him, the popular perception of the new Opposition Leader is that women can’t stand his blokeish, confrontational style. In just about every interview since he was elected to the Liberal leadership this month, he has been asked about his lack of appeal to the fairer sex. Kerry O’Brien on The 7.30 Report asked: “Coming back to that hardline image of yours, for a lot of women, you’re not exactly a pin-up boy, are you, as a political leader?’’ On A Current Affair, Tracy Grimshaw gave him a hard time about contraception, abortion and making divorce harder to get. The Business Spectator e-zine claimed: ‘’Abbott’s aggressive approach will do little to sway the female vote at the next election . . . a significant number of women only see an arrogant hardliner . . . it’s not surprising that young women are loath to support him.’’ Women journalists across the country railed to each other that Abbott was ‘’the devil’’. The female twitterverse was almost universally condemnatory. Former Cleo editor Mia Freedman’s attitude was typical: ‘’Oh, Tony Abbott also antiIVF,’’ she tweeted. ‘’Seems like his Speedos are the least reprehensible of his crimes against women.’’ The ex-Dolly editor Marina Go tweeted: ‘’I would rather eat my first born than vote for Abbott . . . what concerns me most [is] his anti-free choice views . . . [Tweetfems are] outraged that a man with Abbott’s beliefs could possibly head up a major political party in Australia in 2009.’’ Yet, as Abbott pointed out to Grimshaw, polls shows his women problem is a myth. “The last poll showed me somewhat more popular among women than men,’’ he said. “People will make judgments based on what they see now, not some caricature they heard some years ago.’’ A Newspoll taken recently shows, while Abbott’s overall popularity is low compared with Joe Hockey, there is no significant 16 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
gender gap: Abbott had a 19 per cent following among women, and 18 per cent among men. And when it came down to a choice between Abbott and his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, whose appeal to women went unquestioned, guess who was the clear front runner, especially among young females? Abbott was more popular with women at 41 per cent, compared with Turnbull’s 39 per cent. For women aged 18 to 34, Abbott picked up 43 per cent, compared with Turnbull’s 35 per cent. One female Coalition MP, an Abbott fan, said that support for him in the party room was ‘’gender neutral’’. ‘’Tony’s the quint-
essential Australian bloke . . . but he’s matured a lot. In the end people will judge Tony for his ideas as a conviction politician.’’ The fact is, Abbott’s so-called woman trouble is with a particular subset of female – the aggressively secular, paleo-feminist, emasculating Australian broad, for whom unabashed red-blooded blokeishness is an affront of biblical proportions. They are unrepresentative of women, and disproportionately influential, because they either work in the media or politics or have high-profile, heavily networked careers, which mean they are quoted in the media, and their opinions sought after.
The fact is, Abbott’s so-called woman trouble is with a particular subset of female – the aggressively secular, paleo-feminist, emasculating Australian broad
For them, abortion on demand, no matter what the circumstances, is a bedrock article of faith. This is the essence of their visceral, red-fanged rage against him. They hold firm to an outdated, 1970s view of feminism that requires unquestioning belief in abortion as a social good. Abbott’s pronouncements on abortion in the past have been considered, mild and unthreatening to the legal status of the procedure, but to paleo-feminists, the fact that he is a male practising Catholic who dares to express his private beliefs is secular apostasy punishable by social and political death. His actual words are unobjectionable. In his book Battlelines, he wrote he “never supported any move to recriminalise abortion, because that would have stigmatised millions of Australian women’’. “Every abortion is a tragedy and up to 100,000 abortions a year is this generation’s legacy of unutterable shame,’’ he said in 2006. Two years earlier, he honestly grappled with a taboo subject that affects the Christian majority of Parliament, including the ostentatiously Anglican (formerly Catholic) Kevin Rudd, in a speech. “Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year . . . I fear there is no satisfactory answer to this question . . . Governments can’t legislate for virtue but shouldn’t be indifferent to it either.’’ This led to protesters hurling themselves at him, wearing T-shirts with slogans such as “Get your rosaries off my ovaries’’. But he was echoing the feelings of many people, whose opinions have been suppressed as successfully as in any totalitarian state. Polls have found Australian support of abortion on demand vacillating between about 53 and 61 per cent for 20 years, according to the 2007 Australian Election Study by Australian National University and Deakin University researchers. But drill down and attitudes are more nuanced. A 2006 poll commissioned by the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations found, similarly, that 60 per cent of Australians support abortion on demand. But it found just 39 per cent support abortion for financial or social (non-medical) reasons; just 20 per cent agree with partial birth abortion; 54 per cent believe abortion involves the taking of a human life; and 57 per cent believe a 20-week-old foetus is a person with human rights. And, reflecting the change Abbott introduced as health minister, to fund a pregnancy support national phone counselling service, 95 per cent of those polled agreed women should receive free independent counselling before abortion. The extremist viewpoint is not Abbott’s but that of abortion fundamentalists posing as feminists who are his most strident critics. firstname.lastname@example.org
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 17
> straight talk
Obama needs a new speech
t wasn’t so long ago that Barack Obama’s speeches were being his voice and their one interminable tinny tune with its catchhailed as “extraordinary” “rhetorical magic” (Joe Klein in Time penny hooks. magazine) that should be “required reading in classrooms” (Bob The usual trick is to position their man as the uniquely insightHerbert in the New York Times). Pity the poor grade-schoolers ful leader pitching his tent between two extremes no sane person who have to be on the bus at 5 a.m. for a daylong slog through the has ever believed: “There are those who say there is no evil in the 4,000-word sludge of the president’s Nobel thank-you. world. There are others who argue that pink fluffy bunnies are the Rich Lowry, my boss at National Review, writes that Mr. Obama spawn of Satan and conspiring to overthrow civilization. Let me be has become a “crashingly banal” bore. The good news is that he “is clear: I believe people of good will on all sides can find common not nearly as dull as, say, Herman Van Rompuy.” Who? ground between the absurdly implausible caricatures I attribute Oh, come on. Herman Van Rompuy. He’s some Belgian guy to them on a daily basis. We must begin by finding the courage recently appointed “president” of “Europe,” whatever that means. to acknowledge the hard truth that I am living testimony to the He’s hardly a household name, even in the Van Rompuy household. power of nuance to triumph over hard truth and come to the end I’m not sure if Belgian TV has a “Belgian Idol” or “Dancing With of the sentence on a note of sonorous, polysyllabic if somewhat The Belgians,” but, if so, he would be knocked out in Round One. hollow uplift. Pause for applause.” Nonetheless, Mr. Lowry does “President” Van Rompuy a grave It didn’t come but once at Oslo the other week, where Mr. injustice. The boringness is, as the computer chappies say, not a bug Obama got a bad press for blowing off the king of Norway’s but a feature. Like everything luncheon. In Mr. Obama’s in Europe, the “presidency” honour. Mr. Obama’s sagging numbers was a backroom stitch-up, Can you believe this line and neither the French nor made it into the speech: “I are less a regular presidential the Germans wanted a chardo not bring with me today ismatic glamourpuss in the a definitive solution to the gig stealing their respective “approval rating” than a measure of problems of war.” thunders. A Belgian nonenWell, there’s a surprise. the ever-widening gulf between the When you consider all tity was just what they were looking for. the White House eyeballs messianic ballyhoo and his Being a nondescript yawnthat approve a presidential eroo was the minimum entry speech, it’s truly remarkable actual performance qualification. And, by those there’s no one to scribble on standards, Herman Van the first draft: “Scrub this, Rompuy is performing brilliantly. Fred. It makes POTUS sound like a self-aggrandizing buffoon.” By contrast, the point of President Obama is to dazzle. That’s It’s not even merely the content, but the stylistic tics: “I do not why he got all the magazine covers of him emerging topless from bring with me” – as if I, God of Evan Thomas’ Newsweek, am the Hawaiian surf as if his beautifully sculpted pectorals were long- briefly descending to this obscure Scandinavian backwater bearvanished Pacific atolls restored to sunlight after he had fulfilled ing wisdom from beyond the stars. his pledge to lower the oceans before the end of his first term. Mr. Obama’s sagging numbers are less a regular presidential The squealing Obammyboppers of the media seem to have got- “approval rating” than a measure of the ever-widening gulf between ten more muted since those inaugural specials hit the newsstands the messianic ballyhoo and his actual performance. For Americans back in late January. His numbers have fallen further faster than interested in not pre-crippling the lives of their as yet unborn chilthose of any other president – because of where he fell from: As dren and grandchildren, his windy leave-’em-wanting-less routine Evan Thomas of Newsweek drooled a mere six months ago, Mr. is currently one of their best friends. To return to wossname, the Obama was “standing above the country ... above the world. He’s Belgian bloke, Van Rumpoy, just because he’s a nonentity doesn’t sort of God.” That’s a long drop. mean he’s not effective. In his acceptance speech the other week, The Obama speechwriting team don’t seem to realize that. They he declared: “2009 is the first year of global governance.” seem to be the last guys on the planet in love with the sound of Did you get that memo?
18 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
US President Barack Obama poses with the insignia of the Nobel Peace Prize, the medal and the diploma, in the City Hall in Oslo, Norway/Patrick Van Katwijk/NEWSCOM
Me neither. But he has a point. The upgrading of the G20 group of leading economic countries, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plans for planetary financial regulation, and the Copenhagen summit (whose inauguration of a transnational bureaucracy to facilitate the multitrillion-dollar shakedown of functioning economies would be the biggest exercise in punitive liberalism the developed world has ever been subjected to) are all pillars of “global governance.” Right now, if you don’t like the local grade school, you move to the next town. If you’re sick of Massachusetts taxes, you move to New Hampshire. Where do you move to if you don’t like “global governance”? To what polling station do you go to vote it out? America has its Herman Van Rumpoys, too. Harry Reid is really the Harry Van Reidpoy of Congress. Very few people know who he is or what he does. But, while Mr. Obama continues on his stately progress from one 4,000-word dirge to the next, Mr. Reid is beavering away advancing the cause of Van Rumpoy-scale statism. The news this week that the well-connected Democratic pollster, Mark Penn, received $6 million of “stimulus” money to “preserve” three jobs in his public-relations firm to work on a promotional campaign for the switch from analog to digital TV is a perfect snapshot of Big Government. In the great sucking maw of the federal Treasury, $6 million isn’t even a rounding error. But it comes from real people – from you and anybody you know who still makes the mistake of working for a living; and, if it had been left in your pockets, you would
have spent it in the real world, at a local business or in expanding your own, and maybe some way down the road it would have created some genuine jobs. Instead, it got funneled to a Democratic pitchman to preserve three non-jobs on a phony quasigovernmental PR campaign. Big Government does that every minute of the day. When Mom ‘n’ Pop Cola of Dead Skunk Junction gets gobbled up by Coke, there are economies of scale. When real economic activity gets annexed by state and then federal government, there are no economies of scale. In fact, the very concept of “scale” disappears, so that tossing 6 million bucks away to “preserve” three already existing positions isn’t even worth complaining about. At his jobs summit, Mr. Obama seemed, rhetorically, to show some understanding of this. But that’s where his speechifying has outlived its welcome. When it’s tough and realistic (we need to be fiscally responsible; there are times when you have to go to war in your national interest; etc), it bears no relation to any of the legislation. And, when it’s vapid and utopian, it looks absurd next to Harry Reid, Barney Frank & Co.’s sleazy opportunism. For those of us who oppose the shriveling of liberty in both Washington and Copenhagen, a windy drone who won’t sit down keeps the spotlight on the racket. Once more from the top, Mr. Obama. Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller America Alone (Regnery, 2006), and a regular Investigate columnist © 2009 Mark Steyn
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 19
> global warning
Can we trust NIWA?
evelations that New Zealand officials from NIWA Peter said that advice he gives to the Prime Minister will be peer were involved in the so-called “Climategate” emails hacked reviewed by the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ). from the UK Climatic Research Unit begs the question of These two pronouncements warrant some closer analysis. whether and to what extent similar manipulation of cliSetting aside the obvious question of how independence can mate data may be happening in this country. be equated with peer review, it is not unreasonable to expect that While there is yet no direct evidence of this other than the RSNZ peer review of Professor Gluckman’s position paper on involvement of three NIWA officials in an attempt to discredit a climate change would have been undertaken by the society’s clipaper by one New Zealand and two Australian independent sci- mate committee. According to its website, this committee is comentists published in the Journal of Geophysical Research demon- prised of Dr David Wratt (chair), Dr JA Hall, Dr WA Matthews, strating that climate variation shows a much closer correlation Dr Brett Mullan, Dr Jim Renwick and Dr PJH Sutton all from with the El Niño Southern oscillation than it does with emissions NIWA, along with Assoc Prof R Warrick and Dr SA Weaver. of man-made greenhouse gases, there is evidence of a monopoly (Note: two of these, Drs Renwick and Mullan feature in the and distinct lack of contestability in advice to the Government “Climategate” emails). on climate issues. With six of the eight members of this committee from NIWA it That lack of contestability has not been solved by the recent is therefore no surprise that the professor’s position paper almost appointment by exactly mirrors the views expressed by NIWA’s climate people. Prime Minister John Key of Similarly, there is no surprise Professor Sir Peter Gluckman that NIWA relies for its cred The position paper on climate as his Chief Science Adviser. ibility on the reports of the Soon after Sir Peter’s UN Intergovernmental Panel change released by the adviser appointment, Climate on Climate Change (IPCC), Change Minister Nick Smith the most recent of which, in stated that the vast majority of the 2007, has Dr Wratt as one of circulated to all members of Parliament, the Chief Science the 33 drafting authors of the world’s climate scientists believe Adviser’s first position paper, Summary for Policymakers that addressed the topic of (SPM), the cornerstone docthe current warming trend is of climate change. It broadly ument with which all other supported the Minister’s sections of IPCC Assessment human origin recorded view that the UN Reports are required to agree. Intergovernmental Panel on The net result is that the Climate Change (IPCC) is the fount of all wisdom on the subject, desired independent advice to the Prime Minister, at least on cliand therefore the basis of New Zealand’s official policy. mate issues, turns out to be the IPCC line recycled by NIWA, In announcing Sir Peter’s appointment on 20 May, Mr Key said: while NIWA itself, in addition to its reporting channel via Science “I campaigned on creating this role because I recognise that New Minister Wayne Mapp, acquires its own new and separate pipeZealand’s prosperity rests on our ability to make full use of the line to the Prime Minister; a win-win situation for the tight litexpertise that our scientists can contribute. Professor Gluckman tle beltway cabal that has uncontested control of official climate will provide me with a direct line to advice when I need it. He will policy advice. be an independent voice that will complement existing channels If the Prime Minister really wants “to make full use of the experof advice such as government departments and the Royal Society.” tise that our scientists can contribute”, and if he values “an indeThe reality, at least in the field of climate science, suggests that pendent voice that will complement existing channels of advice this independence is nothing more than a smokescreen. such as government departments and the Royal Society, ” he would The position paper on climate change released by the adviser be better advised to ask Professor Gluckman to enquire into the stated that the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists believe lack of contestability in advice the government currently receives the current warming trend is of human origin. About the same on science matters, with particular emphasis on RSNZ. time, in a speech to the AgResearch Institute in Hamilton, Sir Among our members, the NZ Climate Science Coalition num-
20 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Climate activist stage a demonstration on the sidelines of the UN World Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmar, 12 December 2009. More than 500 organisations had called for the rally. Photo:Kay Nietfeld
bers an honorary fellow and several qualified scientists members of RSNZ, who are all annoyed by the custom of RSNZ issuing public statements of belief, ostensibly in the name of the members it represents, when their advice has never been sought. Professor Gluckman himself ought to reconsider this reference in his climate position paper: “nevertheless there are some scientists, although few of these are active climate researchers, who dispute the generally held conclusions,” by comparing the 33 drafting authors plus 18 drafting authors responsible for IPCC’s 2007 SPM, with the numbers who oppose IPCC’s “scenarios”(remembering that IPCC pointedly and expressly does not “do” predictions, just “scenarios” and “projections”): the 31,478 Americans with univer-
sity degrees in science – including 9,029 PhDs, who have signed the petition of the Ohio Institute of Science & Medicine (http:// www.petitionproject.org/index.php), the over 700 signatories to a US Senate minority report (http://tinyurl.com/6oqu3m), the 103 scientists who signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/2y94k9), the New Zealandinspired Manhattan Declaration of 2008 (http://tinyurl.com/ mjj3me), the 60 German scientists who wrote to their Chancellor Angela Merkel recently (http://tinyurl.com/lndon5). Terry Dunleavy MBE, of Takapuna, is honorary secretary of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and executive vice-chair of the International Climate Science Coalition, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 21
> eyes right
Richard Prosser A day at the races
up and Show week is just finishing in Christchurch, as of which is technically European. White Man will do just fine as I sit and type. The Grand Finale, New Zealand Cup Day, a label, thank you very much. Call me a Pakeha if you insist, but is a ritzy affair; the belles are out in their finest, the beaus by the same token, please don’t take offence if I call you a nigger are similarly attired, plenty of bubbles are opened and con- in response. It’s the same thing. You know? sumed, and a rollicking good time is had by all. Many a feathThe relative lack of darker-hued attendees at the nation’s premier ery hat might end the day looking a little the worse for wear, and horse racing carnival is broadly indicative of the general state of no shortage of inappropriately long heels are destined to meet race relations in this country as a whole. Maori aren’t banned or their demise in the gently yielding lawns of Addington Raceway, discouraged from taking part, and nor did their invitations get their wearers invariably yielding, themselves, to the effects of the lost in the post; it’s simply that very few Maori actually live in aforementioned bubbles. But aside from a little dented pride, and the South Island. Racial disharmony in New Zealand is largely a perhaps a good few too many avoidable hangovers, almost no- North Island issue, because, well, most of the South happens to one ever gets really badly hurt during Cup Day, which can’t be be by far and away a fairly homogenised flat white, and it’s pretty too bad a statistic for a major event in a city of 400,000 people, hard to have an argument on your own. a sizeable slice of whom make a regular and concerted effort to In the divided North, Hone Harawira would undoubtedly attend the festivities. find any given race meeting crowd to include a healthy percentYet despite the crowds, in this, the second-largest conurbation age of his “own” folk; but to accuse those of fairer skin than his in our melting pot of a counof raping the land would be try, there is scarcely a brown a bit rich, given that it was The settlers who came from face to be seen. the palefaces who not only Meantime, away to the introduced the horses and Britain were not New Zealanders North, a famously recalcitrant built the racetrack, but who Maori Party MP is getting also contributed a not insigbefore they arrived, and neither himself into hot water, and, nificant proportion of the it would appear, his undergargenetic code of every curwere the Maori who preceded them, rent living member of his ments into a twist, over a contentious matter concerning a hapu, himself included. yet both became so as the new disputed work itinerary, an Questions of race anyunauthorised trip to Paris, and where are a wee bit silly. nation was forged an email suggesting that white There is only one real race, New Zealanders were, and had that being the human historically been, sex offenders with a generalised Oedipus complex. race, and only three major subdivisions within it, those being Why are these things important, and how are they connected? Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. Negroids are sub-Saharan It’s a delicious irony, in this writer’s opinion. The races have always Africans. Mongoloids are East Asians. Caucasoids is everybody united this country, and yet, at the same time, they have always else, White People, Maori, Australian Aboriginals, Arabs, Persians, divided it. Maori and White People alike have long enjoyed a flut- Indians, everyone from the Ancient Britons to the South American ter on the gee-gees, just as they are ridiculously similar in most Amerindians to the Easter Islanders, we’re all from the same stock. other regards. Why do I say White People? Because I don’t accept Questions of race in New Zealand are farcical, because we are the term Pakeha. It’s racist and derogatory in my understanding, today an irrevocably blended nation. Matters of colour are misbut more importantly, it isn’t my name for myself, and I would represented as issues of race, and used as an excuse for division appreciate it if other peoples could have some respect for that fact and disharmony. Yes, people with more Maori ancestry in their in their dealings with me. I’m also not a Caucasian. The Caucasus lineage tend to be browner of skin than those with less or withare a mountain range in modern day Russia. I don’t come from out. So what? We’re all New Zealanders – aren’t we? there and I’ve never been there. Caucasoid maybe, but that’s a I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again; it is time for New different story. Likewise I’m not a European, or even a European Zealand to put the past behind us. The continuing pretence of New Zealander. My ancestry is British and Scandinavian, neither racial separateness cannot ever work and must be put to rest.
22 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Yes, there were people living in these islands before the white man discovered them. But this wasn’t New Zealand back then, and nor was it Aotearoa. There was never any united Maori nation, or even the concept of one, let alone a name for it. The term “Maori” didn’t even exist. Maori was the name which those pre-European tribes who shared the same language gave themselves, in order to distinguish them from the newer arrivals. And the British arrivals made a Treaty with some of the Northern tribes, which allowed for a more peaceable settlement, and unified governance, of the colony which would become the nation known as New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi smoothed the process of colonisation, but colonisation would have happened anyway, with it or without it, and pretending otherwise is naive and unhelpful. Britain had claimed possession of these territories with Cook’s proclamation seventy-odd years before the Treaty was signed, and settlement and ownership was always going to happen on that basis, whether anyone living here at the time liked it or not. That was simply the way of the world back then; right was the divine right of Kings, and might was military might, and questions of legality did not even enter into the equation where territory, possession, and colonisation were concerned. For us to revisit the issue in the 21st century and apply the morality and judgements of today, is a singularly pointless exercise, and is actually wrong. We cannot undo the past; and indeed, why would we want to, given that the New Zealand we know today has been created by the amalgamation of all the peoples who came together here 170 years ago, shaped by the changing world around them? The settlers who came from Britain were not New Zealanders before they arrived, and neither were the Maori who preceded them, yet both became so as the new nation was forged. New technologies appeared at the same time for both of them, as did shifts in social mores and advancements in thinking; the advent of steam powered ships, sealed roads, the telegraph, railways, and later, the internal combustion engine and powered flight, arrived as new and unheralded to the British and European colonists as they were to the Maori, as did concepts such as universal suffrage and the acceptance of women as equals. An industrial age awoke, the Empire went to war, and New Zealanders of every hue and heritage went with it. The White Man did not rape the islands he found to the east of Australia, whatever Hone Harawira might like to think; he built a nation upon them, and Maori worked right alongside him as he went. And through it all, Maori and the settlers intermarried, so that today, every last living Maori has an element of the later arrivals’ blood in his or her whakapapa. Times change, and so do peoples and nations. Clinging doggedly to a past that no longer exists, seeking redress for wrongs never suffered by those who claim to be aggrieved, from people who never committed them, is pointless and destructive. And yet people do just that. This writer has relatives in Wales who are still, to this day, embittered about the fact that their country was invaded and annexed by the English. My response is to say for God’s sake, get over it. It was nearly a thousand years ago. Let it go. Move on. So must it be for Maori. The culture, the way of life, the technical realities of the world of two centuries ago is gone, as are the divisions of pure racial separateness beloved of Hone Harawira and other racists. It is time for Maori to stop being Maori and start being New Zealanders, as they agreed to do when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi – accepting the duties of British subjects, along with the rights and privileges conferred at the same time. Language and history can continue to flourish and be celebrated
without anyone pretending that the bloodlines of Kupe’s migration continue unsullied to this day. But that history has to be the complete and truthful version. Of particular relevance here in the South is that our Waitaha and Moriori peoples deserve to have their stories told, as much as any of the early arrivals to this land; their real stories, not the bastardised adaptations which have been doctored to suit the modern agendas of political correctness and the Waitangi gravy train – and in Waitaha’s case, usurped a second time by white supremacists bent on inventing a pre-Maori Celtic history for New Zealand. As usual, I have digressed somewhat. I make no apology for telling people like Harawira to grow up and move forward. Most Maori don’t have any desire to be racists or separatists, as I have discussed before, and a cursory glance at the ever more whiteskinned, red-headed, freckle-faced line-up of the Maori All Blacks, should tell even the most ardently anti-white Maori activist that assimilation is happening anyway. Hone has now supposedly apologised for pulling a sickie from his taxpayer-funded job to go sightseeing in Paris, even if not for being a fascist. Frankly I couldn’t care less whether he means it or not, because people like him are irrelevant. Calm, reasonable statespersons such as Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, are the leaders who will take New Zealanders of all colours forward into a positive future. Ignorant embittered racist thugs who behave like Hone Harawira are not, and history will record them as such. In any event, it rained on the last day of cup week in Christchurch, which didn’t make it a particularly good day for the race. Hone Harawira’s vitriolic hate-filled diatribe didn’t help much either. Despite that, his Party have decided to let him back into the stable; personally I can’t help thinking that they may have backed the wrong horse.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 23
> line one
Gore must regret inventing the internet
he big lie, an infamous propaganda technique usually and Great bit of thinking this, guaranteed to register with any who wrongly attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of have been already exposed to the World’s great religions know full Propaganda was in fact a people manipulation technique well that if we sin we’re all for the high jump. going right back to Plato and probably even beyond. Even Al Gore and friends have spun this well established fear concept little Joseph had shamelessly pinched the concept from his boss’ and have replaced being punished for sin to being punished for probook Mein Kampf, in which Adolf had spent some time outlining ducing CO2.Even further, they’re pursuing tried and true old money the ease by which the telling of absolute whoppers could so easily making concepts, like Father Tapsill flogging off Papal Indulgences be believed by the public at large; Adolf himself obviously having during the Middle Ages, where for a goodly sum you could rape studied Lenin’s mastery, indeed love of such political porky telling and pillage away all you liked as long as you paid the Pope for the to his legions of useful fools. So, with such well proven evidence of privilege, and who in his turn would still be able to guarantee you a how a well constructed and enormous lie could so easily be sold good seat amongst the cherubims when you finally fell off your twig. to a largely innocent public it is no small wonder that a cabal of Archbishop Al simply wants you to sin as you produce CO2 greedy, conniving and totally ruthless politicians,using one Albert even as you actually breathe and then to pay his new Church a Gore as their front man set about to create, arguably, the greatest tithe for the pleasure. And to think that at school we used to think scam ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. that people in the Middle Ages must have been a bit thick to be The End of the World is Nigh has always been right there at taken in by this scam that the then Pope was using to pay for the top as a favourite device St Peters in Rome which he beloved of every charlatan was struggling to build and Archbishop Al simply wants you to finance. Using the Gore wishing to line his pockets by simply playing on man’s plan that same Pope could to sin as you produce CO2 even as still lingering primitive fears have built a Church to cover of the unknown. Even worse, the whole of Italy within a the almost incomprehensible you actually breathe and then to pay couple of years even allowbelief that some smooth talking for the billions in back his new Church a tithe for ing modern day climate scihanders that Al’s bent mates entist shaman, if his palms in the UN are due for forcthe pleasure are well crossed with silver, ing this scam into being. can save us all from some In some respects may be it well advertised and grisly fate. Examples of the ease with which would be a great idea to simply sit back and let these crooks get unscrupulous operators can become multimillionaires by playing their scheme into full operation, at which point we get Interpol on largely self manufactured imaginary fears are legion. to use the time honoured police tactic of “following the money”. Indeed the shameless manner with which mainstream religions It seems to me, we would very quickly discover the names of just have been manipulated to provide a cash cow for various smooth about every crook currently breathing on earth. Seize all their talking con men can be seen on most TV channels world wide, illegally gained assets and we would more than likely solve world although to be fair at least these so called God Shows are usually poverty, lock up a whole lot of politicians, reactivate common played in the advertorial time slots in and amongst dentally per- sense as a virtue rather than as a symptom of just being a “denier” fect chicks apparently obsessed with their abs or the current size of of plain lies being sold as a “truth”, we might even get lucky durtheir “buns”! Nevertheless these relatively minor scams provided ing this great moral clean up to tar and feather those other great a blueprint for those with much more grandiose plans for wealth deceivers who also prey on the more simple souls in our midst as creation and psychotic dreams of international power domina- they peddle lies and distortions world wide, using irrational fear tion. Firstly create an entirely new fear although one that should as vehicle for great personal enrichment. encompass well-sold fears already lodged in most people’s psyche, It’s funny, fortunately, that even in times of great tribulation like the world is going to heat up and we will all die of heatstroke, humour can be found even as the best laid plans of even masor drown as the seas rise and flood our homes (note the heat as ter con men such as the aforementioned Albert Gore seem to be in Hell,and the drowning alliteration as per Noah’s great flood). dropping into place; that right out of left field a convenient, per24 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
sonally engraved petard pops up, all set to hang it’s owner thereupon. I’m sure that many of you remember another of Al Gore’s very well published massive lies that he was putting about a few years back, the one where he, personally, invented the Internet. In many respects it’s almost a shame that he didn’t as during this last month it’s been the tens of millions of hits on “climate-gate” world wide on the Internet that are fast unraveling the nonsense that Al and his eager and similarly greedy followers had previously been successfully selling to the unwary. People simply needed a common means of communication to swap thoughts and ideas on Al
and friends hysterical nonsense, then out of the woodwork came literally thousands of very smart people who finally gained the courage to loudly shout in unison, “the Emperor has no clothes”, and better yet, (figuratively thank heavens) with data and photo’s to prove it. Certainly the battle against this latest in a long line of false priests has yet to be concluded but I’m becoming very confident now that once again common sense will triumph over mass hysteria and even being taken for a ride by a scammer that makes Ponzi king Bernie Madoff look like an amateur pick pocket. Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 25
> contra mundum
Matthew Flannagan Confessions of an anti-choice fanatic
f current media is to be believed opposition to legal abortion better. The allegation that “hundreds” (I put this in scare-quotes comes from misogynist fundamentalist fanatics who want to because actually the figures show it was significantly a lot less than impose their religious mores onto others. This string of pejora- this) of women died from illegal abortions can justify legalisation tive terms is amusing; however, it does not actually address the only if feticide is not homicide. If it is homicide then this argumore crucial question of whether laws against feticide (the killing ment reduces to the bizarre assertion that we should kill eighteen of a fetus) are just. I maintain they are and, unlike most media thousand children each year in order to prevent “hundreds” of commentators and politicians who pontificate on the topic, I will women from harming themselves by breaking the law. argue three points for this thesis. Typical consequentialist arguments also fail. Abortion prevents The first is that the typical arguments in favour of abortion unwanted children who are likely to be poor, abused or engage in succeed only if it is assumed from the outset that feticide is not a crime. It is hailed as a solution to over-population and the exisform of homicide. A couple of examples will illustrate this. It is tence of more handicapped people. It prevents adult and teenage frequently asserted that women have a right to do whatever they women from falling into economic hardship and stress. It enables like with their own bodies. This assertion is false. Women do not them to complete their education, pursue their careers. However, have a right to do whatever they like with their bodies; no one has all this is equally true of infanticide [killing of toddlers and babies]. such a right. Women cannot use their bodies to rape or commit Infanticide prevents the existence of unwanted children and their homicide or set fires. The right to do as we please is limited by the associated social costs, lowers the population, prevents the handmorality of our actions, thus icapped existing and saves whether abortion falls into women and teenagers from While the fetus lacks the category of an action we the economic and emotional are free to choose depends on stresses of parenthood. Yet whether feticide is homicide. consciousness, lack of consciousness infanticide, as convenient as If it is, then this argument fails it is, is condemned because does not make a being non-human. it is homicide. So you can but as currently used it is just “assumed” that it is not. see that, again, all these If it did, then a human being ceases arguments assume that the Some might object that such an interpretation is an fetus is not human without to exist when asleep or unconscious actually arguing for it. uncharitable reading of this contention. What is imporThis is not to say feticide and then pops back into existence tant from this perspective is can never be unjustified. that all people have a right to Utilising the justification upon awakening control what happens inside of self-defence, I think a or to their own bodies. I have case can be made for fetia right to control what happens to mine and you have a right to cide where pregnancy constitutes a threat to a woman’s life or control what happens to yours. Hence, provided the decision I perhaps in cases of rape (space prevents me elaborating the casumake does not involve me using your body in a way that you do istry [our Reader’s Digest ‘It Pays To Increase Your Wordpower’ not consent to then I have a right to do it. However, implicit in nominee of the month] here). Such cases are extremely rare and this argument is the claim that a fetus, at least until born, is part make up less than 0.5% of all cases (according to figures compiled of a woman’s body, that it is not a separate, bodily-living, human by the Abortion Supervisory Committee). So, if feticide is homibeing on its own. However, this claim is erroneous. To suggest cide, the vast majority of abortions lack justification. To defend that a fetus is part of a woman’s body entails that the mother of a permissive abortion laws on these grounds is a bit like allowing male fetus has two heads, four arms and a penis. Once again this people to murder on demand on the grounds that there exist rare argument is successful only if one assumes a fetus is not a human cases of justifiable killing in self-defence. being from the outset because if the fetus is human then it too My second point is the claim that feticide is homicide has conhas a right to not have its body harmed. siderable prima facie plausibility. Consider this scenario. A hunter The infamous illegal “back-street” abortion argument fares no is in the woods and notices some rustling in the bushes. Looking
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through his scope he sees a six-foot high, bipedal being with brown hair, blue eyes, wearing a swann-dri. He refrains from shooting. Here, the hunter makes the sensible and reasonable judgment that in firing he would risk engaging in homicide. He bases this on what the target looked like. In the absence of reasons for thinking otherwise he has good grounds for this claim. However, “[there is] a general consensus that the fetus is recognisably human after six weeks, and certainly after eight” (D Boonin A Defense of Abortion (2003) 95). This fact, conjoined with the above illustration, entails that, in the absence of good reasons to the contrary, there are good grounds for thinking that feticide is homicide. My final point is that good reasons to the contrary are not forthcoming. Here I will focus on three common examples starting with the fetus not being viable. The fact that a fetus cannot survive independently of its mother does not mean it is not a human being. Fetal viability is contingent upon the medical technology of a given culture. A fetus that is not viable in Chad is viable in Los Angeles. If viability is necessary for something to be a human then a woman pregnant with a viable fetus in Los Angeles who flies from Los Angeles to Chad carries a human being when she leaves but this human being ceases to exist when she arrives in Africa and yet becomes human again when she returns (P Singer Writings on an Ethical Life (2000) 148). Similarly, while the fetus lacks consciousness, lack of consciousness does not make a being non-human. If it did, then a human being ceases to exist when asleep or unconscious and then pops back into existence upon awakening. Shooting someone would cease to be homicide provided we render him or her unconscious first. Appeals to fetal consciousness face other problems. David Boonin notes that those who attempt to ground humanity in the amount of brain development an organism has undergone face a dilemma. “Any appeal to what a brain can do at various stages of development would seem to have to appeal to what the brain can already do. Or to what the brain has the potential to do in the future.” (D Boonin A Defence of Abortion (2002) 125). Either option leads to problems for a defender of the permissibility of feticide who does not also want to endorse infanticide. This is because “by any plausible measure dogs, and cats, cows and pigs, chickens and ducks are more intellectually developed than a new born infant”.(Boonin, 121) Suppose, then, that one takes the first horn of the dilemma and appeals to what the brain can already do. However, unless one wishes to affirm that “dogs, and cats, cows and pigs, chickens and ducks” are human beings then “appeals to what the brain can already do” will “be unable to account for the presumed wrongness of killing toddlers or infants.” Suppose, then, one takes up the second horn and appeals to “what the brain has the potential to do in the future.” Boonin notes that this will entail that feticide is homicide. “If [such an account] allows
Anti-abortion demonstrators carry rosaries during a protest denouncing U.S. President Barack Obama’s pro-choice stance /UPI /Roger L. Wollenberg
appeals to what the brain has the potential to do in the future, then it will have to include fetuses as soon as their brains begin to emerge, during the first few weeks of gestation.”(Boonin, 121) Finally, while it’s true that fetuses are not ‘persons,’ where person is defined as “a thinking, intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking being, in different times and places,” (J Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding) neither are newborn infants. In fact, a newborn cow is more person-like than an infant is. The price of a cogent pro-abortion argument is the reduction of newborn infants to the ethical level of cows. It is difficult to understand, on this view, why killing a newborn infant is any more problematic than killing a calf. In summation, except for a few rare cases, abortion is justified only if feticide is not homicide. However, there are good prima facie grounds for thinking feticide is homicide and these prima facie grounds are not overridden by reasons to the contrary. Jointly, these contentions demonstrate that feticide constitutes unjustified homicide, and, hence, should not be a practice that is tolerated or sanctioned by the state. Dr Matthew Flannagan holds a Doctorate in Theology and a Masters with First Class Honours in Philosophy. He writes in the area of Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Ethics and completed his doctoral thesis on the ethics of feticide. 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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WHAT THE MEDIA D IDN’T TELL YOU 28 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
The shockwaves from the leaked emails and documents known as “Climategate” rocked Copenhagen and have permanently undermined the integrity of science with their revelations of destruction of evidence, hiding data and corruption of the supposedly independent peer review process. IAN WISHART has the inside story on Climategate, one the mainstream media in NZ have so far failed to tell you
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 29
ate on the morning of November 20, NZ time, US climate change blogger Anthony Watts posted a message about a breaking story – reports that one of the world’s leading climate research centres, based in Britain, had been hacked into and its data leaked onto the internet. By chance, staff at New Zealand’s Investigate magazine stumbled on Watts’ post literally only two minutes after it hit the web. The story described how someone claiming to have obtained data from the University of East Anglia’s CRU (climatic research unit), had posted a link on another website to a very large 61mb file containing the leaked data. Investigate checked the second website, The Air Vent, only to find the link had already been removed, but using Google cache we retrieved a version of the page that still contained the link to a Russian webserver carrying the allegedly hacked data. We made an editorial decision to re-post that link on our own website, TBR.cc, as part of a story about the fact of the hacking. At the same time, we downloaded a copy of the data to the Investigate office. This is the post that appeared at TBR: A major story is breaking in climate science, after hackers posted a 61 megabyte data file on a Russian server that appears to be confidential emails and climate data hacked from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre. The data raises major questions about the role of scientists in what appears to be a deliberate conspiracy to mislead the public: From: Phil Jones To: ray bradley ,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000 Cc: email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm, Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray. Cheers Phil Prof. Phil Jones Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090 +44 (0) 1603 592090 +44 (0) 1603 592090 +44 (0) 1603 592090 School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784 University of East Anglia Norwich Email email@example.com
If there’s an innocent explanation, I’ll be interested in hearing it. In the meantime I’ve sent an email to Phil Jones asking if this email is genuine. For those interested, the large file can be downloaded here [UPDATE, file removed from server. Have decided not to relink in case some of the new ones around have been modified. I have a copy of the original. You can check out some of the alter30 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
native download links at Watts, but checksum the file as per their instructions to ensure it is the original] UPDATE: Am busy on the TGIF deadline so have only generally perused the leaked emails. It appears to be a collection that might have been prepared for a possible FOIA (freedom of information) request and were in the process of being scrutinized. The tone of many is quite waspish, although like others the email above seems too damning to be true. Surely they weren’t that stupid to commit such comments to writing back in 1999? UPDATE 2: One of the emails refers to stacking the peer-review
process to ensure scientific papers by the likes of NZ’s Chris de Freitas don’t make it past review into the IPCC’s 2007 AR4. The other paper by MM is just garbage – as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well – frequently as I see it. I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is ! Shocking. Lends authenticity to the documents as well – a US or European based hacker would not be likely to pluck de Freitas’
name out of thin air if they were making something up. What followed next has become the stuff of internet legend. Investigate’s coverage, directing people both to the main file and to ongoing coverage of the breaking story from WattsUpWithThat. com, was picked up and magnified by other blog sites. Within an hour, half a dozen websites around the world were carrying links to the download of CRU emails and documents, and hits on both TBR.cc and Watts were going through the roof as the world began waking up to the contents of the leaked emails. Commenters on both websites had taken the opportunity to INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 31
download and open the files, and begin posting incriminating emails and documents up in the comments thread of the respective websites. In a sense, what would have taken one newsroom a week to do – trawl through 3,000 emails and more than a thousand documents – was being outsourced to tens of thousands of volunteers around the world. One volunteer with time on his hands used his computer expertise to turn the email files into a searchable online database that readers could navigate by entering keywords and search phrases. Despite the internet catching fire with news of the devastating leak, coverage was confined to the blogosphere. No mainstream media journalist had apparently felt sufficiently motivated to pick up a phone and check out the story. Instead, that task fell to Investigate’s TGIF Edition. At 9pm, NZ time on Friday November 20, we finally made contact with CRU director Phil Jones, who starred in some of the most incriminating emails. It was 8am in the UK and he had only walked into his office five minutes earlier. “A 62 megabyte zip file, containing around 160 megabytes of emails, pdfs and other documents, has been confirmed as genuine by the head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, Dr Phil Jones”, TGIF reported a short time later in a world exclusive. “In an exclusive interview with Investigate magazine’s TGIF Edition, Jones confirms his organization has been hacked, and the data flying all over the internet appears to have come from his organisation. “ ‘It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails’.” “ ‘Have you alerted police?’ ” “ ‘Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken’.” “Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate. “Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.” The files were first released from a Russian fileserver site by an anonymous tipster calling him or herself “FOIA”, in an apparent reference to the US Freedom of Information Act. The zip file contains more than a thousand documents sitting in a “FOIA” directory, and it prompted speculation that the information may have been in the process of being compiled for consideration of an information act request. Jones, however, says the files were not contained in a “FOIA” directory at the Climate Research Unit. “No. Whoever is responsible has done that themselves.” “I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I’ll have to talk to other people here. In fact, we were changing all our passwords overnight and I can’t get to my email, as I’ve just changed my password. I’ve gone into the Climate Audit website because I can’t get into my own email. “It’s completely illegal for somebody to hack into our system.” In one email dating back to 1999, Jones appears to talk of fudging scientific data on climate change to “hide the decline”: From: Phil Jones To: ray bradley ,mann@[snipped], mhughes@[snipped] Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
32 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Cc: k.briffa@[snipped],t.osborn@[snipped] Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm, Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.Thanks for the comments, Ray. Cheers, Phil Prof. Phil Jones Climatic Research Unit
Frances M. Roberts
“DESPITE THE INTERNET CATCHING FIRE WITH NEWS OF THE DEVASTATING LEAK, COVERAGE WAS CONFINED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE. NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA JOURNALIST HAD APPARENTLY FELT SUFFICIENTLY MOTIVATED TO PICK UP A PHONE AND CHECK OUT THE STORY”
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 33
TGIF asked Jones about the controversial email discussing hiding “the decline”, and Jones explained he was not trying to mislead. “No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.” Jones told TGIF he had no idea what me meant by using the words “hide the decline”. “That was an email from ten years ago. Can you remember the exact context of what you wrote ten years ago?” The other emails are described by skeptic commentators as “explosive”, one talks of stacking the peer-review process to prevent qualified skeptical scientists from getting their research papers con-sidered. Investigate’s confirmation that the data was genuine, and not someone dummying up emails as a prank, set off a chain reaction across the world. As climatologist Pat Michaels was quoted by the Washington Post in the days following, this wasn’t “a smoking gun, it’s a mushroom cloud”. So what was the sequence of events leading up to the confirmation? US media website The Examiner soon established a more detailed timeline. “The timeline begins on November 17, when the user named “FOIA” left this comment at The Air Vent site: ‘We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. ‘We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it. ‘This is a limited time offer, download now:’ “He then continued with a link to a Russian anonymous FTP account. (That account no longer works, but this Examiner was able to obtain the archive from it when a correspondent alerted him to it.) “This is consistent with Phil Jones’ statement to Ian Wishart of Investigate magazine, dated November 20. Jones said that he had known about a security breach of his organizations computers “three or four days ago,” having heard about the matter first from the administrators of RealClimate.org. Concerning RealClimate’s immediate reaction, Jones said: “ ‘Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.’ “RealClimate’s own statement says this: “ ‘We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.’ “This indicates that the tipster first tried to submit his material to RealClimate.org, and when the administrators refused to accept it, he then established his Russian anonymous FTP account and submitted the link in his comment to The Air Vent. “The Air Vent’s administrator, Jeff Id, was out-of-contact when the comment was posted. No one said another word about it until, two days later, the user named Steven Mosher alerted The Blackboard. Initially he left only a link to the original post, not 34 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
a specific comment link. But apparently Lucia, the Blackboard administrator, followed the link and examined the files for herself. She was, however, reluctant to publish the link, but another user, Jean S, published it for her. In the process, she said this: “ ‘Seems to me that someone has hacked UAH computers. All e-mails seem to contain at least an address ending uea.ac.uk. Also all the files seem to be UAH-related. At least some of the material has to be real, there are just so many small details that were just impossible to fake (for instance under briffa-treering-external/timonen there are some file names only a Finn would use).’ “She might be referring to file names like “kilpisj” and “hossapal”, and extensions like “tuc”. The file names fail to translate when subjected to Google’s Translate routines. “At the same time, Steven Mosher published an alert to Climate Audit. Then within hours, Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That published his own brief commentary. Shortly after that, this Examiner made his initial report, which is, as far as this Examiner has been able to determine, the first report by a professional or semiprofessional journalist of this whole affair. Ian Wishart, editor and publisher of Investigate, also took note of the story at the same time and published his own initial blog entry, in which he announced that he had sent an e-mail to Phil Jones requesting an interview. “In all that time, the original poster of the Russian FTP link never made another comment in any forum. As discussed above, this is not typical of a hacker. A hacker would be boasting about his act, and loudly. Instead, his file sat in that anonymous FTP account for more than forty-eight hours, and the poster never made any further attempt to publicize his find. Hence the conclusion, by this Examiner and a host of other commenters, including IP security professionals, that this unknown user was one who had had access to CRU computers, in accordance with his duties at the CRU.” The Daily Mail in the UK, incidentally, reports police are now working on the theory it was indeed an inside job, rather than a hack. In the meantime, after being taken by surprise by Investigate TGIF’s Friday phone call and its revelations reverberating around the world, Jones and his CRU team apparently went into bunker mode, and refused to answer any further media calls, according to the Guardian’s George Monbiot: “The university knew what was coming three days before the story broke. As far as I can tell, it sat like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting for disaster to strike. When the emails hit the news on Friday morning, the university appeared completely unprepared. There was no statement, no position, no one to interview. Reporters kept being fobbed off while CRU’s opponents landed blow upon blow on it. “When a journalist I know finally managed to track down Phil Jones, he snapped “no comment” and put down the phone. This response is generally taken by the media to mean “guilty as charged”. When I got hold of him on Saturday, his answer was to send me a pdf called “WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 1999”. Had I a couple of hours to spare I might have been able to work out what the heck this had to do with the current crisis, but he offered no explanation.” While media apologists for the IPCC scientists have tried to make every excuse under the sun as to why the emails and documents don’t show anything serious, the text of the emails makes it clear in black and white, such as these two contradictory statements from CRU’s Phil Jones:
Frances M. Roberts
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 35
Phil Jones, Dec 3, 2008: “About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little – if anything at all.” Yet four days after the story broke, Jones was quoted in his second interview on the topic (Guardian, 24 November 2009): “We’ve not deleted any emails or data here at CRU.” Who are we to believe? Jones’ private assurance to a colleague a year ago that he had destroyed data, or his public claim that he hadn’t? Or was he relying on another “trick” – that by deleting data from his personal files he could, hand on heart, swear that the data had gone if someone came asking, knowing full well that storage servers still held copies if they really needed them. That would explain the two statements. Either way, it is utterly deceptive behavior potentially bordering on illegal. The infamous “hide the decline” email, quoted earlier, also turned out to be much more sinister than Jones or RealClimate had let on to the media. The “decline” was a problem caused from 1960 onwards. “Proxy” records, in this case tree ring data, showed temperatures globally started falling from 1960 onward. This was officially “an inconvenient truth” that the IPCC scientists did not want to distract ordinary members of the public with. Yes, it was well known in climate science circles (which is why RealClimate could argue the information was “hidden in plain sight), but it wasn’t widely known in public. So instead of continuing to use the tree ring data they’d used for the rest of the graph, they cut that data and bolted on temperature readings from surface thermometers – which are controversial because of their contamination from urban heat effect. These surface records showed a clear upward spike in temperature, thus hiding the decline caused by the tree rings. All of these emails, by the way, are searchable online at www. eastangliaemails.com . So what do some of the other emails show? FROM PHIL JONES TO MICHAEL MANN & RAY BRADLEY, 11 March 2003 “They have no idea what multiproxy averaging [another ‘trick’ used by climate scientists] does. By their logic, I could argue 1998 wasn’t the warmest year globally, because it wasn’t the warmest everywhere. With their LIA being 1300-1900 and their MWP 800-1300, there appears (at my quick first reading) no discussion of synchroneity of the cool/warm periods. Even with the instrumental record, the early and late 20th century warming periods are only significant locally at between 10-20% of grid boxes.”
In this email, Jones is furious over the publication of a Harvard study showing modern warming is not unusual, and in fact it was hotter a thousand years ago than it is now. The email appears to admit that the idea of 1998 being the hottest year is artificial and capable of being argued against, and it also admits that the modern warm period is actually showing warming in only 10 to 20% of the planet surface – another inconvenient fact that has not been publicly disclosed. Jones’ anger at the Harvard study being published in a climate journal led him to write in the email that he and his CRU team should pressure the journal to sack its editor as punishment for not towing the IPCC line: “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome 36 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
editor. A CRU person is on the editorial board, but papers get dealt with by the editor assigned by Hans von Storch.” You’d think Jones’ insistence that modern warming is unprecedented and the Medieval Warm Period is minor, would be based on solid science, right? It turns out he is relying, in his own words, on “gut feeling” for this fundamental issue: “Bottom line – their [sic] is no way the MWP (whenever it was) was as warm globally as the last 20 years. There is also no way a whole decade in the LIA period was more than 1 deg C on a global basis cooler than the 1961-90 mean. This is all gut feeling, no science, [Investigate’s emphasis] but years of experience of dealing with global scales and varaibility. [sic] Must got [sic] to Florence now. Back in Nov 1. Cheers Phil
Yet, on the strength of his “gut feeling”, Jones and the other IPCC scientists wanted skeptical colleagues who disagreed with them sacked! The leaked emails show a distinct willingness not only to “hide the decline” but to ensure the data is manipulated so as to keep the public and politicians in the dark. One example – the IPCC chose, for political rather than scientific reasons, to keep using a 1961-1990 baseline for atmospheric temperature measurements. We’ve all been told ad nauseum that 30 years is “a climate trend”. So by 2007’s AR4 report you’d have to ask why they weren’t choosing a more up to date 1976-2005 baseline? The answer is this: Neil There is a preference in the atmospheric observations chapter of IPCC AR4 to stay with the 1961-1990 normals. This is partly because a change of normals confuses users, e.g. anomalies will seem less positive than before if we change to newer normals, so the impression of global warming will be muted. SOURCE: 1105019698.txt
There you go. Proof you’ve been played for suckers. More modern data would have disclosed less warming in recent times, because 1961-1990 coincided with a cold cycle and that ancient baseline makes modern warming look tropical by comparison, hence it is perfect to overinflate the significance of the warming for political purposes. Now let’s look at whether we should ever consider anything less than a 30 year climate trend. Hot Topic blog contributor, geologist P Scadden, suggests never: scaddenp November 3, 2009 at 11:41 am “Boy, am I sick of reiterating this. CLIMATE is about a 30 year trend. The models predict what happens on a 30 year trend.” But here’s what a man at the climate coalface, CRU director Phil Jones says in his email about the must-be-adhered-to 30 year trend, as he made the case for picking a 20 year dataset instead: “20 years (1981-2000) isn’t 30 years, but the rationale for 30 years isn’t that compelling. The original argument was for 35 years around 1900 because Bruckner found 35 cycles in some west Russian lakes (hence periods like 1881-1915). This went to 30 as it easier to compute.” Extraordinary! All this time the global warming believers have been stridently insisting that only a 30 year measurement is valid – so as to play down the current 10 year cooling trend, and then the leaked emails disclose they plucked that figure out of the air,
we protect your digital worlds
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 37
so to speak, and the logic behind it “isn’t that compelling”. And if a ten year trend is nothing, officially, then why was USA-based ex-pat Kiwi scientist Kevin Trenberth having this heated debate in early October this year about the fact that temperature increases have hit a brick wall and stopped, in defiance of UN Policy and Greenpeace pronouncements about imminent catastrophe: “Where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January [winter] weather [in early autumn] (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather). “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate. SOURCE 1255352257.txt” Surely, Trenberth’s colleagues must have reassured him “it’s just weather, not climate”, and “short term data is irrelevant, it’s the 30 year trend that’s important”. Mick Kelly, another climate scientist with Kiwi connections, was so concerned recently about the fact that the global temperature has stopped rising that he told his colleagues he was erasing that inconvenient truth from his powerpoint presentations so the public would not find out: From: Mick Kelly <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <P.Jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx> Subject: RE: Global temperature Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2008 09:02:00 +1300 Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, used to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a longer – 10 year – period of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you might expect from La Nina etc. Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also. Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects and the recent cold-ish years. Enjoy Iceland and pass on my best wishes to Astrid. Mick SOURCE 1225026120.txt
With this sort of manipulation going on routinely, how do we know the climate “scientists” briefing us are not fudging the data to hide inconvenient truths? THE VERDICT OF THEIR PEERS “These Climategate e-mails are in my opinion the evidence of an intent to deceive. This is no longer genuine science. These are politically motivated people.” – Emeritus Professor Arthur Rörsch, Holland, skeptic. “This whole concept of, ‘We’re the experts, trust us,’ has clearly gone by the wayside with these e-mails,” Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology, told the New York Times’ Andy Revkin. British climate scientist Mike Hulme, a colleague of the CRU team, wrote this: “[It] is about raw politics, not about the politics of science. But 38 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
in the Internet worlds of deliberation and in the ‘mood’ of public debate about the trustworthiness of climate science, the reverberations of this episode will live on long beyond COP15. Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public – and maybe that is no bad thing. “But this episode might signify something more in the unfolding story of climate change. This event might signal a crack that allows for processes of re-structuring scientific knowledge about climate change. It is possible that some areas of climate science have become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when
Danish police officers deflate a huge balloon with the inscription ‘the size of one tonne CO2 / KAY NIETFELD
we find it at work inside science. “It is also possible that the institutional innovation that has been the I.P.C.C. has run its course. Yes, there will be an AR5 [fifth major report] but for what purpose? The I.P.C.C. itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production – just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive.” The Guardian’s George Monbiot,a fervent believer in global warming, nonetheless called for the resignation of CRU head Phil Jones: “If you take the wording literally, in one case he appears to be
suggesting that emails subject to a request be deleted, which means that he seems to be advocating potentially criminal activity. Even if no other message had been hacked, this would be sufficient to ensure his resignation as head of the unit. I feel desperately sorry for him: he must be walking through hell. But there is no helping it; he has to go, and the longer he leaves it, the worse it will get. “He has a few days left in which to make an honourable exit. Otherwise, like the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, he will linger on until his remaining credibility vanishes, inflicting continuing damage to climate science.” Climate scientist Dr Eduardo Zorita, a UN IPCC contributing author, wrote on his website: “CRU files: Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 39
Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process.” Zorita’s answer was simple: “Because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore.” There’s also this explosive letter published in South Africa’s Business Day. Although unrelated directly to Climategate, the criticisms by former IPCC coordinating lead author Phillip Lloyd are so serious as to utterly undermine public trust in the UN IPCC and the “consensus” it claims has been reached: PROF BRUCE HEWITSON (Uninformed vitriol, November 19) pontificates on Andrew Kenny’s assessment (Ideology and money drive global-warming religion, November 16). Unfortunately for him, there has been a reformation. The time for pontification is over. The critics must be answered. Instead Prof Hewitson stood in his pulpit and preached the gospel according to St IPCC. He says he was a lead author for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). That is not material – I was a coordinating lead author, but it gives me no mantle of infallibility. Instead, it gave me insight into the flaws behind the whole process. The IPCC claims that it has thousands of scientists and almost as many reviewers of the scientists’ work to produce their reports. There are two problems, however. In the scientific world I move in, “review” means that your work is scrutinised by several independent, anonymous reviewers chosen by the editor. However, when I entered the IPCC world, the reviewers were there at the worktable, criticising our drafts, and finally meeting with all us co-ordinators and many of the IPCC functionaries in a draftfest. The product was not reviewed in the accepted sense of the word – there was no independence of review, and the reviewers were anything but anonymous. The result is not scientific. The second problem is that the technical publication is not completed by the time the IPCC reports. Instead, it produces a Summary for Policy Makers. Writing the summary involves the co-ordinators, the reviewers and the IPCC functionaries as before, and also various chairmen. The summary goes out in a blaze of publicity, but there is no means of checking whether it represents what the scientists actually said, because the scientific report isn’t published for another four months or more. In the Fourth Assessment, the summary was quietly replaced several months after it was first published because some scientists who were involved complained of misrepresentation. In the early years of the IPCC, there was a slightly different process. The Summary for Policy Makers and the scientific reports were issued at the same time. In those years, however, the Summary for Policy Makers bore a warning that it was the last current word on the subject, whereas the scientific reports were correctly identified as being subject to continuing development. Someone smelled a rat about the “last word” story, so the process was changed, and now the summary is issued with no means of checking. It isn’t necessary to list all the changes I have identified between what the scientists actually said and what the policy makers who wrote the Summary for Policy Makers said they said. The process is so flawed that the result is tantamount to fraud. As an authority, the IPCC should be consigned to the scrapheap without delay. Dr Philip Lloyd Pr Eng FINAL THOUGHTS The bad behavior in covering up inconvenient data is not confined to the leaked emails. A Newsweek story on Al Gore in November 40 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
revealed staff working for the man on track to become the world’s first carbon billionaire asked a scientist to hide information suggesting the CO2 problem could be easily solved: “If we feed the biology and manage grasslands appropriately, we could sequester as much carbon as we emit,” says Timothy LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute, who presented at two summits. The political clash is this: if you tell people soils can be managed to suck up lots of our carbon emissions, it sounds like a get-outof-jail-free card, and could decrease what little enthusiasm there is for reducing those emissions—as one of Gore’s assistants told LaSalle in asking him to dial down his estimate.” Gore, who was caught out at Copenhagen making false claims about Arctic ice loss – which he has now admitted were false, is accused above of fudging data for political reasons. One of the biggest myths promoted by politicians, Greenpeace and TV3 is the claim that thousands of scientists who worked on the IPCC report in 2007 all supported its claims. “This is the conclusion of 4,000 scientists appointed by governments from virtually every country in the world,” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said recently. Rudd was drawing on a UN IPCC statement that reads: “2500+ expert scientific reviewers 800+ contributing authors and 450+ lead authors from 130+ countries” The statement was a marketing one, designed to give the IPCC report the aura of credibility. Nothing in the statement itself is wrong, but the inference Rudd and others took was false. Author Lawrence Solomon took the claim to task: “Unfortunately for Mr. Rudd, he has made a blunder in citing this number. As he can confirm by contacting the secretariat of the IPCC, the thousands of scientists upon whom he rests his case never endorsed the IPCC’s report. Rather, the secretariat will advise him – as the Secretariat advised me when I inquired in 2007 – that the great majority of those scientists were merely reviewers. Worse for Mr. Rudd, those scientists had reviewed only a fraction of the report. Worst of all, far from endorsing the IPCC’s conclusions, many of the reviewers turned thumbs down on the IPCC sections that they read and only a handful actually endorsed the IPCC’s claims that man-made global warming represents a threat to the planet. “The upshot? Australia has turned its economy inside out largely on the basis of imagined endorsements.” In fact, of the 3,800 or so scientists who actually worked on the IPCC report, only around 60 scientists fully endorsed the IPCC’s AR4 claim that global warming is dangerous. “The 53 authors and seven favourable reviewers,” says Solomon, “represent a total of 60 people, leading McLean to conclude: “There is only evidence that about 60 people explicitly supported the claim” made by the IPCC that global warming represents a threat to the planet. Sixty scientists among the 130-plus countries that the IPCC cites amounts to one scientist for every two countries.” So next time you hear authorities in this country appealing to mysterious authority figures by claiming thousands of scientists endorsed the UN report, you’ll know the real figure was actually only 53 scientists, and 7 reviewers. With Copenhagen over, and the parties needing to regroup later in 2010 for follow-up negotiations, there is still time for public pressure on the political process. n
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Evolution of the
‘Educationist’ THE STORY OF DUMB & DUMBER
42 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
THIS MONTH A SNAKE MADE WORLD HEADLINES BY ATTEMPTING TO SWALLOW ITS OWN TAIL AND CHOKING TO DEATH IN THE PROCESS, A N D A TO P E D U C AT I O N I S T S U G G E S T E D PARENTS SHOULD ASK BABIES’ PERMISSION BE F O R E CHANGING A NAPPY. YET ANOT H E R SUGGESTED CHILDREN SHOULD REFER TO TEACHERS BY THEIR CHRISTIAN NAMES. THERE’S NO TRUTH TO THE RUMOUR THAT THE ILL-FATED SNAKE HAD RECEIVED A NEW ZEALAND EDUCATION, BUT AS THIS RETIREMENT SPEECH FROM BIOLOGY TEACHER MARTIN
S H O W S , I T D I S P L AY S A L L T H E S Y M P T O M S …
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s an aging biology teacher, I find it interesting to look at the creatures in the education business from the evolutionary point of view. The ancestral species, from which all the contemporary ones have evolved, were the schoolmaster and schoolmistress. Both occupied broad ecological niches, which in layperson’s language means they were multi-talented, taking two or three sports, producing plays, conducting orchestras and running debating – and all that on top of imparting knowledge in the classroom. Though they have been driven to extinction in most schools, such paragons still exist in some ‘elitist’ schools, and on a few other tiny offshore islands, where they are generally still held in high esteem. Elsewhere, however, they are only to be found as fossils in rest homes. Evolving from the schoolmaster and schoolmistress was the teacher. This became the dominant species, until pupils discovered – and began to exercise – their rights. In response, many teachers relinquished their defensive armour and evolved into a new species, the slippery, soft-bodied educator. From the educator evolved an even more boneless and worm-like form, the facilitator. Facilitators regard any form of authority with horror, and many do their best to divest themselves of it by asking their pupils – who by now had evolved into students – to address them by their first name. The most jelly-like species has evolved as a slimy, mutant derivative of the facilitator, known as the educationist. Though most educationists hatch out as facilitators, they can’t get out of the classroom fast enough – some after as little as a couple of years – before bolting into some peaceful refuge such as a College of Education, NZQA, or the Ministry of Education. No sooner has an educationist escaped from the real life of the classroom that she undergoes a rapid metamorphosis and enters a world of make-believe – and just can’t wait to tell the original inhabitants of the classroom how they can also become facilitators. Educationists are rarely seen in the open, preferring secluded habitats such as under stones, where light, and fresh air, rarely penetrates. They have a strong preference for each other’s company, and on those few occasions when they have been observed in their natural habitat, can sometimes be seen grooming each other. So rarely do they mix with others that inbreeding is inevitable, with all the attendant deleterious consequences. Another distinguishing feature of educationists is that they use a strange language called eduspeak. Though no one can understand it, it has one essential rule: never use plain English when pretentious, vacuous waffle will do. It is interesting to note that the distinction between teacher and facilitator is not as clear as one might suppose. Many teachers adopt a protective device called mimicry, in which one species adopts the appearance of another. Thus, in private conversation, a teacher may refer to a particularly obnoxious pupil as “a little bastard” or, in the words of an ex-colleague of mine, “the quintessential slimeball”. However, when speaking on the record, that same teacher mysteriously transmogrifies into a facilitator, referring to the malefactor as “a student with behavioural difficulties”. The difference between teacher and educator can best be illustrated by a certain gentleman whom I will call David. Suffice to say that before he departed some years ago, he was a no-nonsense type who taught my younger son, so I’m privy to some of his unorthodox pedagogical techniques. 44 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Not for him the wiffly-waffly, feel-good-about-yourself, College of Education garbage. One item in his toolbox – a novel variant on the Benson-Pope gambit – was to draw a small circle at head height on the whiteboard, on to which the wretched offender had to place his nose, and keep it there for the rest of the lesson. Nowadays this teacher would be whisked off to a re-education camp in the Chatham Islands run by some humourless PPTA obergruppenführer. Another pre-educator approach was to use boys as living models. A geography teacher at my old school had a novel way of illustrating folding in the Earth’s crust. He would place his hands on the forehead of a boy on the front row, kneading his scalp like dough to produce deep furrows. Nowadays it would lead to a charge of assault, but in those days it was seen for what it was – an entertaining way of imparting knowledge. It’s New Zealand’s tragedy that starry-eyed educationists are now running the show, and in this connection I can’t resist one last stab at the whole incestuous lot of them. I’d like to quote a couple of paragraphs from a two-part article in the New Zealand Science Teacher, published in 1993. The author is one of the top brains in the New Zealand education industry – she must be, because she’s an associate professor, and for many years she was one of the biggest cheeses in science education. In Part I we read this literary gem: “Planning was done by the research project teachers who took into account students’ thinking in their teaching. Their planning was different to what they would normally have done, and overall it involved planning the unit of work and the teaching and learning activities to take into account students’ thinking. They had a goal of the students learning some science and they planned their teaching to enable this to occur. They planned teaching, learning and assessment activities to find out what the students were thinking, to get the students thinking and to respond to and interact with students’ thinking.” Hanging with bated breath on every word of this intellectual tour de force, readers had to endure an agonising wait of several months before they could savour the delights of Part II, in which they were treated to even more profound insights: “The teachers on the teacher development programmes, as part of the research project, were encouraged to take into account stu-
dents’ thinking. One aspect of this was the responding to and interacting with students’ thinking. To do this, the teachers had to create the opportunities to do this and then to actually do it. Both facilitation of students thinking for themselves and telling and explaining the science were aspects of teachers responding to and interacting with students’ thinking.” My first reaction as a taxpayer was that over the last 30 years or so it must have cost well over $2 million in today’s money to keep this particular educational guru in employment. What about
paying teachers – who do actually earn their crust – a bit more? But then I got to thinking. It is precisely this kind of drivel that drives parents to send their sons and daughters to private schools. With every new outburst of educationist nonsense, support for private education zooms upward. Indirectly, the professor and her fellow educationists help to pay our salaries. So, rather than roasting the educationists, perhaps we should be toasting them. So, I ask you to charge your glasses and drink a toast: To educationists! n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 45
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Author and commentator HAL G. P. COLEBATCH likens the latest events in the UK to the parable of “The blind men and the elephant”
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s Britain approaches a general election, commentators on the present “British sickness” or “British crisis” usually dwell on one of several areas. Given the space at their disposal I do not blame them: they could hardly do otherwise. Here is a quick overview of some of the issues:
Destruction of trust in the parliamentary and political system About half Britain’s MPs have been found to have broken either the spirit or the letter of the law with dodgy expense claims, “flipping” primary and secondary residences to avoid capital gains tax and in other ways showing contempt for the tax-payer – a contempt now being heartily reciprocated. It is hard to see how any major party will be able to find enough cleanskins to form a ministry after the next election. Coupled with this is the rise to power of bizarre figures like Lord Mandelson, virtually de facto Prime Minister although elected by no-one, once a young farleftist activist, now a friend (if that is the word) of Russian oligarchs and recently a shooting partner of Colonel Gadaffi’s son on the Rothschild Estate. The threat to Britain’s political and national identity posed by integration into the European Union This will, it is predicted, be irrevocably sealed by the Treaty of Lisbon, and it has already had far-reaching consequences in British domestic law. Despite numerous promises, there seems no prospect of a referendum being held by either a Labor or Conservative government. The threat to Britain’s historic cultural identity through massive and aggressive Muslim immigration This has already created large no-go areas for non-Muslims and particularly unveiled women in London and some other cities. This has been connected with selective attacks, in the name of Multiculturalism, on Christian institutions (a nurse of 40 years’ experience who suggested prayer to a distressed patient on a training exercise recently was not rebuked or corrected but instantly sacked). Other Christian workers have been sacked for displaying small crucifixes as necklaces or lapel-badges. There is also a rising tide of anti-Semitism, the last particularly at some universities. Jewish, or to be correct Israeli, students have actually been banned from attending some courses and a journal refused to publish contributions from Israeli academics until protests came from America. Ironically, the only party to support Israel over its last military actions in Gaza (though disavowing British involvement) was the British National Party, widely attacked as Nazi or fascist. Various government and private organizations have banned staff from displaying toy pigs in deference to alleged Muslim sensibilities. Police ordered one householder to remove a display of toy pigs from her window lest they be seen by Muslims passing on the road, though no Muslims had actually complained. Even ‘Piglet’ from Winnie The Pooh fell victim. British police forces were recently described as having become the paramilitary wing of the far-left Guardian newspaper. Young British Muslims appear to be becoming much more extreme than their parents, probably largely in reaction to the cultural decadence they are daily confronted with. A recent poll found 36% of British Muslims aged 16 to 24 believe those who convert to another religion should be punished by death. Forty per cent of British Muslims would like to live under Sharia law and 48 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
20 per cent have sympathy for the London tube bombers. Masked Muslims marched through London carrying placards proclaiming “Behead those who insult Islam” and promising another 9/11 and another Holocaust while protected by massive numbers of British police. Anjem Choudary, Principal Lecturer of the London School of Shariah, declared recently: “There is a spark that has ignited and its flame has become unstoppable. We find ourselves in the year 2009, waiting for Rome to fall, waiting for the White House to fall and indeed waiting for Buckingham Palace to fall.” Buckingham Palace, he foresaw, would become a mosque, with suitable architectural re-design.
Then there are the revelations in October of Andrew Neather, speech writer for Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett. Neather claimed a secret government report in 2000 set out to deliberately change Britain’s national identity and cultural makeup irrevocably and forever: “I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date,” he said. This is not only a matter of votes, as many migrants do not vote for years, but also a matter of jobs, prestige and perquisites for the Laboursupporting caring professions.
The “broken society,” with rates of family breakdown and teenage drug abuse, drunkenness and pregnancy among the highest in Europe Teenage pregnancy has often tended to increase most rapidly in the areas with the most extensive and expensive sex-education programmes. The taxation system seems – without any exaggeration at all – deliberately created to reward unmarried motherhood and family break-up. Harriet Harman, Labor’s “Minister for Equality,” has attacked Conservative plans to give tax breaks to married couples as a “philanderer’s charter.” Miss Harman has for decades led a campaign to brand family structure irrelevant, The taxation system seems – without any exaggeration at all – deliberately created to reward unmarried motherhood and family break-up
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fathers unnecessary for childrearing and marriage outdated, and has dismissed Conservative support for marriage as “hypocritical moralising.” This is despite the fact innumerable studies have show beyond doubt the social benefits, including and especially the benefits to children, of intact marriages. Even Russia, a by-word for dangerous, drunken chaos, has a lower rate of teenage drunkeness. Violent crime by girls, generally operating in drunken gangs, is also increasing rapidly. Material and moral weaknesses in the armed forces Many deaths of servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan have been blamed on inadequate equipment, a situation that remains unrectified after years of complaints and official findings by coroners’ courts and others and complaints and resignations by senior officers. For the first time in many years the actual quality of troops, as distinct from leadership or equipment, is being questioned. According to many accounts the British Army’s performance in Basra left much to be desired. The Royal Navy is now smaller than the French Navy and cannot even arrest Somali pirates in case Britain is then forced to grant them asylum under EU Law. It recently emerged that on 28 October, 2009, the armed British Naval auxiliary tanker Wave Knight, with a force of marines on board, stood by and did nothing while pirates a few yards away seized and kidnapped the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, transferring them from their yacht to a hijacked Singaporean container vessel. At the time of writing the Chandlers are being held for a $9 million ransom. For the first time since Admiral Benbow’s captains were shot in 1703 for deserting him in battle the Royal Navy has been publically accused of cowardice, though if it makes any difference the real culprit has been the culture of political correctness. Other kinds of pirates have been dealt with more sternly however: local councils have prohibited pirate flags being flown at children’s parties as “unneighbourly.” Handing power to local councils, an article of faith for both major parties, has resulted in an overweening Nanny State with a peculiar combination of wimpishness and Draconianism. To take one recent example among countless others: when a coastal footpath was built by a Rotary Club to allow ramblers to enjoy the scenery along Loch Ryan, in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council would allow only organised groups to use the footpath, and only if supervised by a “trained outdoor specialist.” Christmas lights outside shops have been forbidden both on grounds of multiculturalism and for health and safety reasons. In “Operation Napkin” undercover police have been sent to dine at Chinese and Indian restaurants, prersumably with concealed truncheons and handcuffs at the ready, to arrest diners asking for “flied lice” or otherwise mimicking the accents of staff. Nanny-state draconianism An ex-soldier who found a shotgun and handed it in to police the following day was arrested, tried before a jury, convicted and at the time of writing faces a minimum of five years prison for possessing it, the judge having instructed the jury that the law against possessing fire-arms was to be construed strictly and the fact the possessor was acting innocently and with public-spiritedness was irrelevant. Police are routinely arresting people simply to record their DNA profiles on the national database, according to another recent report. At the same time overcrowded jails and raciallybased sentencing guidelines (magistrates have been directed to 50 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
regard black burglars and muggers as “quirky Lenny Henry characters”) mean large numbers of serious criminals remain at large. One columnist wrote recently: “What do a fish and chip shop in Chatham, Christmas lights in Brighton and St Paul’s Cathedral have in common? Give up? “Apparently, they all need protecting against terror attack. “Which is why police officers have felt able to use Section 44 stop-and-search powers to prevent journalists and members of the public taking photographs in these ‘zones’. Yes, really. “Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000 includes a proviso known as Section 44. This empowers police (and the Home Secretary) to define any area in the country as a place where they can stop and search any vehicle or person. “Before this, police could delay, frisk and harass passers-by only if they had ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspicion and certain criteria were met. “Not any more. Still, it was supposedly made clear to the police that anti-terrorism measures should be used only when there was evidence of a specific threat – not as an addition to the day-to-day powers of officers policing protests, for example. “How have we sleepwalked into a situation where a man can die after being assaulted on our streets by armed police in broad daylight – as happened earlier this year at the G20 protests in London – with officers then having the right to stop journalists taking photographs in the area?” She continues later in the same article: “One couple, worried by their toddler’s falling weight, sought medical help. Suddenly social services were on the case and the advice was to give their child junk food to get his weight up. When the parents refused, the boy was put into foster care.” Oh, by the way, the author of the above, Lauren Booth, is Tony Blairs’s sister-in-law. A drastic decline in teaching standards, and at tertiary level a collapse in the hard subjects Lesley Ward, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers claimed recently that countless children are not even toilet trained when they started school, are unable to dress themselves, can only eat with a spoon or their fingers and could scarcely spell their own names, still less pass basic literacy or maths tests. Regarding higher education, a third of Britain’s university physics departments have closed in the last few years. Darkness and ugliness in a wide field of arts The greatest names in British art are the likes of Tracey Emin and Damian Hirsch, whose work dwells upon squalor, death and hopelessness. Ugliness in architecture is obviously and violently progressive, with Newest meaning Worst. TV crime shows, once Whodunnits, basically intellectual puzzles, now seem to concentrate on themes which it would have been considered impossible to make public entertainment from a few years ago, including incest, sexual abuse of children, torture, and animal cruelty, along with frequent shots of decaying or mutilated corpses. Continuing national health scandals A few months ago it was reported that up to 1,200 patients had died unnecessarily due to bad conditions at the Mid-Stafforshire Foundation Trust NHS hospital. Ministers, including the Prime Minister, apologized abjectly and claimed it was an isolated occurrence and that such a thing would never happen again. Now it
Countless children are not even toilet trained when they started school, are unable to dress themselves, can only eat with a spoon or their fingers and could scarcely spell their own names, still less pass basic literacy or maths tests
has emerged that similar conditions of poor nursing care, filthy wards and lack of leadership at Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust have led to the deaths of up to 400 patients a year. A general attack on traditions and values A survey found three-quarters of teachers believed it was their duty to warn pupils about the danger of patriotism. With pupils possibly taking them at their word, war memorials have been reported vandalised at the rate of more than one a week for the past year. Ex-servicemen have found that Union Jack tattoos, even if invisible under clothing, have cost them the chance of jobs with police and fire departments, lest they be found intimidating. This links to a general decline in historical memory, with many surveys indicating that large numbers think the likes of Winston Churchill or the Duke of Wellington are fictional if they have heard of them at all, though they often display exact and pedantic knowledge of the history of rock-bands. One in 20 of 2,000 children aged nine to 15 surveyed recently believed Adolf Hitler was a football coach. All this is before even considering the more conventional stuff of political debate – monetary and fiscal policy, levels of taxation and spending – but here matters are in a more-or-less comparable state. Britain remains in recession, lagging behind other major economies such as France, Germany, the US and Japan.
The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that the public finances are in such chaos that Britain’s credit rating may be cut. Abuse of honours The Honours system has been blatantly abused, with peerages going to obscure Labour Party hacks and knighthoods to dissolute popular entertainers, etc. In The Cruel Sea author Nicholas Monsarrat wrote of the wreckage of a sunken ship washing about on the oily water the morning after its sinking and all the pieces merging into “the same vague and pitiful design.” So it is here. A unity may be recognised. Many of the comments on apparently diverse social and political dysfunction in Britain today are like the tale of the blind men and the elephant: one touched its trunk and thought it resembled a snake, one touched its tusk (“a spear!”) one its side (“a wall!)”, the others its tail, (“a rope!”), its ear (“a fan!) and its knee (“A tree!”). But diverse as these parts seemed, they were all of a whole. The British elephant today is the result of 11 years of Gramscian leftism in power, not only or perhaps even principally at the level of the National government, but in all sorts of quasi-governmental institutions, and with an Opposition often unable to acknowledge or recognise what is happening, and indeed sometimes actively conniving with it. A few of the results are almost comic, many are very serious, but they are part of a single whole. n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 51
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The Death of INCOME
TAX PART II
In this final section of his argument for the end of income tax, tax lawyer BRUCE GRIERSON argues persuasively for a turnover tax and points to its success in Switzerland
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n the 1930s war clouds were gathering again. The Swiss had no reason to trust Hitler to respect their neutrality, anymore than the Poles, the Belgians, the French, etc. Militarily Switzerland was not totally defensible against the Panzers and the Luftwaffe, but the interior mountainous areas could be fortified and defended. But military expenditures are the worst to have to meet. Switzerland is, since the 19th century, a Federation of former kingdoms and dukedoms, now called “cantons”, similar to selfgoverning provinces. Each canton levies a low-rate income-tax, with generous thresholds of no tax. 15% (Zurich) down to 3% (Zug) and rates in-between in each canton. The emergency called for a Federal Tax. A simple turnover-tax (TOT) was imposed. 8.5% on retail sales, 5.5% on wholesale sales became the general range (on all goods and services – and even within a (now) VAT system that simple TOT system remains available in practical terms for tax payers with businesses and professions. A 1% Federal income-tax has been imposed to help maintain to this day a standing army, and compulsory military training (up to age 40) remains in force. Nor is social welfare neglected, the Swiss social welfare services could be better than New Zealand’s. The cantons retain their income-taxing powers, but almost compete with each other to have the lowest rates. Also, as Amy Brooke points out in Investigate magazine (Vol. 9, Issue 105, page 40) the Swiss constitution has for nearly 140 years imposed a 100 day moratorium preventing new legislation from being immediately enforceable, and permitting (if desired) a citizens’ referendum on that legislation first. As she says, that 3 month scrutiny period has successfully prevented rushed legislation and helped make a smart country very prosperous. Before we weep, that it’s too late to catch up with fortunate Switzerland in past bad-governance tax-terms, let’s go to the opposite extreme. After the inevitable end of the USSR’s ghastly Total Economic Socialisation experiment, Russia, rediscovering capitalism, has given its taxpayers an interesting option. They can pay a 15% corporate income tax (very low by international standards) or instead a 5% turnover-tax (TOT). The comparative two rates are obviously necessarily somewhat arbitrary, but the option exists. I used to use a simple example of the difference, in my pre-GST days radical tax-reform addresses. No-one needed pencil-and-paper (and the general public audiences were ample and included many accountants). The example supposed that a medium-sized New Zealand business sold $1m of its goods and/or services in a year, and earned a respectable 10% net profit ($100,000). Company income-tax (then a flat 45%) produced $45,000. After much statistical study (and adding), I found that a TOT of 7.5% would have replaced all the income-tax, wholesale sales tax, estate duty, gift duty and stamp duty for the 1976/7 year. So a TOT would have produced $75,000 to the Revenue. Today, on similar assumptions, the comparison would be $33,000 (33%) with that $75,000. Government wins again. But, you should ask, aren’t there two questions? First, what would the TOT rate be today, since GST? Second, why would any business, whether corporate or owned by a firm or individual, wish to pay more tax? I will deal with the second question first. The principles have been raised in the Nero-Claudius exchanges, which are not mythical as to the principles. It’s a matter of knowing – or not knowing – where one is going. A TOT of a known percentage can be added to a business’ sales – and priced-in, as with GST – and so
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long as (only so long as) there will be no income-tax to pay on the net profit, there will not be an end-of-year financing problem caused by further Government imposts. Best of all, there won’t be a recovery from a working-capital loss to be budgeted for (usually at the Bank). The TOT payable will resemble an overhead, as nearly as any tax-payment could merit that name. Think of GST. Most business accounts are prepared on a “GST-exclusive” basis – i.e. the 12.5% is subtracted first from all the figures shown in the accounts. That is, the GST content is pre-deducted so as to show the actual trading results. GST – which has to be added-on to all registered persons’ individual sales and paid to Government, less the input tax content, is not a “business-expenditure.” Even less
is it any sort of a loss. GST (I said prior to 1986) is at least a half step in the right direction. If GST did not credit the “input-tax” GST already paid to a business’ suppliers, we would be nearing (but not reaching yet) a true TOT regime. No deductions, just a simple add-up of gross sales, multiplied by the TOT rate. (I fear it would not any longer be only 7.5%, but, depending on what was subject to TOT, a much lower rate than the income-tax percentage is plainly possible). Also, realistically, a considerably higher government taxtake would be within reach – without causing businesses, however owned, to suffer a capital-loss in the form of a heavy non-deductible payout, whether in one sum or instalments. I empathise here
“A TOT of a known percentage can be added to a business’ sales – and priced-in, as with GST – and so long as (only so long as) there will be no income-tax to pay on the net profit, there will not be an end-of-year financing problem caused by further Government imposts
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“All wage and salary-earners could expect a substantial drop in tax-deductions and a corresponding gain in after-tax take-home pay. The present sad spectre of households having to have two income-earners to break even (if they can) would retreat
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the consequences. For too long politicians have assumed that (say) one-third of the net profit leaves two-thirds in the owner’s pockets. That never actually happens because all working-capital is tied-up in stock, wages, plant – a host of needed items for the business. It is not lying around to be – ah – pillaged. There are only three ways to recover from a capital loss caused by tax – or fire – or burglary (ignoring insurance). One, get more capital from the owners. Two, get it from the Bank. Three, get it from more net profit (and suffer another capital loss in consequence). The inevitable consequences in the next year of the pres-
letting the Banks’ interest and other revenues escape (as they did with GST), and also domestic sales of houses and vehicles, but with a threshold allowance (exemption) to be built-in. I prepared a schedule of it all and added it to the back of my “Nero Tapes” address (it was the Watergate era) and asked anyone to fault the categories (which were many) and my totals which gave a possible 7.5% TOT rate. Exports (by the actual exporter) would be exempt (as with GST). No-one challenged my arithmetic. To counter evasion of the TOT, all contracts which did not charge it would be made legally unenforceable. But today we now also have the useful GST registration system to assist with enforcement. Of course penalties would apply to evasion. Also, the TOT rate could apply differently to (e.g.) house sales, or domestic sales, at a lower-rate. The tax-net must not have “holes” in it (as with GST), but the rates can vary. I wish I believed that domestic sales could be exempted, but the Government expenditure has so hugely increased, (and will increase much more yet) that I doubt whether today’s business turnovers alone would allow fixing a tolerably low TOT rate (I hope I am wrong about that). However, with today’s computerised records and research abilities the task of finding out the rate would be much easier than it was for me in 1978 (with necessary considerable Statistics Department help). The seas may be uncharted today, but that need not mean we cannot sail there to explore all this. The total of NZ’s turnovers is plainly ascertainable today. The Herald once promoted my proposal under the heading “NZ could be the Switzerland of the South Pacific.” Well, I suppose it could, but we could also learn from the Russians, and offer New Zealand taxpayers the option to pay TOT instead of income-tax. For each taxpayer (though not necessarily immediately the whole country) it must be one or the other, not a bit of both. Which is where GST never went far enough – it didn’t replace income-tax, and I never expected it would. Of course GST would be absorbed into the changed (or changing) system.
ent system have been insufficiently regarded. Sometimes, some limited relief has come from (e.g.) disaster relief – (e.g a drought) by tax – postponements, but the annual “disaster” has been the capital-loss being a non-deductible tax-caused loss, caused in turn by good profits, on paper which loss has needed to be overcome next year to get liquidity back to “square one.” (I’ve noticed, in untold clients’ balance-sheets over several years, that “square one” is never got back to). (In net current-asset terms – i.e. liquidity). Returning to the first question now. A TOT rate depends on the TOT-base. In my pre-GST studies I included all revenue, not
WHAT ABOUT THE WORKERS? Theirs could be the best news of all. Without knowing it, their employers have for decades been paying TOT – turnover tax – on their wages to the Government. No deductions are allowed. Even though a 7.5% TOT rate is not (I believe) attainable now, it is unlikely to exceed 20% and probably would be around 15%. At any rate it won’t be the average workers marginal rate of 30%. Given that, or something like that, all wage and salary-earners could expect a substantial drop in tax-deductions and a corresponding gain in after-tax take-home pay. The present sad spectre of households having to have two income-earners to break even (if they can) would retreat (man-made spectres can retreat). The obvious question – where will Government get that PAYE money from then? is answered – “from the turnovers of the businesses which employed them.” After all, the wages and salaries come from there now. Calmly contemplated (without any “jealousy-principle”), the Government has been attempting to get all its Revenue from businesses at around an inordinate 30% rate from the expenditure upon wages and salaries, supplemented by the company or individual tax on the profits at the bottom of the page. No tax is now collected on the other expenditure-items – interest, rent, rates, repairs, vehicle expenses etc, etc, a long list – unless those expenditures turn in total into net profit in another taxpayer’s accounts – which for the same reasons (deduction reasons) doesn’t happen. Nero’s wisecrack about a chariot race is true INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 57
– the income-tax (profit tax) which we know, is like betting on the winners and not paying-out on the losers. (In fact the Totalizator Tax is (aptly) a TOT – the Government gets its low percentage share on all the bets laid, win or lose, and is far better off doing that than trying to tax race-winnings as such. Most bets lose anyway – let the punters pay for that). But before writing-off the idea of a TOT tax-base as the ravings of a (somewhat experienced) radical, remember this. No deductions have been permitted from employment-income for decades, since under a dull moon one night such deductions (of any sort) from wages and salaries were illegalised at one stroke. Numerically, most New Zealand taxpayers are presently paying TOT on their whole remuneration. At a fearsome rate too. It would be a great joy to give that class of galley-slaves a big tax-reduction and some light at the end of their household tunnels. (I ignore here the jealousy-inspired publicised criticisms of huge CEO salaries, this is about the many “little guys” and their future opportunities. We learned at school, “jealously gets you nowhere”). WHAT ABOUT LOSERS? First, they don’t contribute anything to the present income (profit) tax-take now, except in the PAYE portion of their wages, which portion would still contribute under TOT, if a bit less. Second, the losing businesses are often liquidated now for tax by the IRD, which seems to be the petitioner for liquidations or bankruptcies in the High Court regularly in 30-40% of the cases. There is no magic wand to fix the tax-take problem, only a better wand. But there is another potential “loser” to consider. WHAT ABOUT THE CONSUMER He, (or more often she) is directly relevant. What effect on household necessities would TOT have? That has to be part of any study, but in 1978-80 I did review comparative prices of food and basic necessities comparatively between New Zealand and Switzerland and found that except for meat, the Swiss prices were actually lower than ours – quite a lot in some categories. Today, with New Zealand meat and fish being sent even more to export markets, there might be no real difference under TOT. We absorbed GST. I used to compare my GST (at 12.5%) with what it would represent as a turnover-based calculation and interestingly it regularly came out at 7-8% of turnover. No conclusion can be drawn from that, but it was a hellish chore to calculate the GST with the need to total all the GST-charged expenditures which I had paid, to deduct the input-tax paid. Hours went into that GST return, instead of a few minutes to simply add-up my fees received as under a TOT, then pay-up. WHAT ABOUT INVESTMENT-INCOME? Well, aren’t they the “revenue” of the interest or dividend-receiver? Of course they would incur a TOT – but hopefully at a far lower rate than today’s 30% or 39%. Not “hopefully” – surely! Why? Well, think in national totals. Today, New Zealand is a “village” in the “cities” of the larger nations, into which overseas “cities” New Zealand’s profits are going, often as interest which is subject only to New Zealand’s 15% withholding tax. Going in fact to the multinational parent companies which own New Zealand subsidiaries or New Zealand businesses. The so-called “thin capitalization rules” of the IRD have not (and cannot) really stem this bleeding of local profits and New Zealand’s income-tax system. And attempts to stem it by further IRD rules only incur contempt 58 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
in the multinational companies’ overseas boardrooms and a natural aversion to doing business here at all. By contrast, if New Zealand imposed no profit-tax, those same companies would see the advantage of centering their operations (and their final sales) in New Zealand because their overall profits would be tax-exempt here. What else can company directors hope to achieve, besides a bigger profit? Well, a bigger after-tax profit, isn’t it? And, ultimately for whom? Well, the shareholders, isn’t it? And if, as usual, those shareholders are companies, where would they prefer to be registered and taxed when it comes down (as it always must) to after-tax profits? In turn, where would the human shareholders prefer to reside? In
a high income-tax country or a low tax (TOT) country? Ignoring the drama of “secret” Swiss bank accounts, how did Switzerland gain such favour with the international investors who are using its banking and financial facilities for over 150 years by comparison with other countries? If it wasn’t mainly due to lenient taxation by international standards, what was the cause? (The world’s bank-depositors aren’t all ex-Nazis, or drug-runners). Also, it’s not easy, even as a legitimate depositor, to open a Swiss bank account. It is even harder (expensive) to gain residency there – too many want to! Let’s get real about why people – and companies – choose “where to live.” It’s not just the climate, or the clean green image. Money always talks.
“If New Zealand imposed no profit-tax, those same companies would see the advantage of centering their operations (and their final sales) in New Zealand because their overall profits would be tax-exempt here. What else can company directors hope to achieve, besides a bigger profit? Well, a bigger after-tax profit, isn’t it?
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 59
Locally, a 30% (or more) tax-deduction from investment-income of those who have saved and invested their capital here, is simply daylight robbery! The general international withholding tax-rate is 15%. WHICH WAY TO GO? A new way, a complete change of tax-base from profits to turnover, is a big ask. When, after question-time at the end of only about 20 minutes outlining the suggested reform, I was asked; “Why don’t you go into politics?” I would reply; “Because I’d have to fit into a committee.” It wouldn’t matter what sort of “committee” – a party, a caucus, a cabinet, or even a “tax review committee.” One doubter is enough to spoil following a New Way. (1 out of 12 was enough on one notable occasion). Having said that, committees are still necessary to tidy up and steer the details of a New Way. That’s only commonsense. I have a useful looking draft Turnover Tax Act (drafted by another man himself – a Knight), but the political decisions come first. As for Nero, a plainly tyrannical despot, I never told my audiences that he couldn’t have changed the Roman tax system anyway. Only the Senate could do that (think our Parliament). Nero was a useful speech-device to get listener’s minds off the man with the microphone (me) and onto the subject-matter. Probably I didn’t need Nero as a “sounding board,” because everyone present easily understood the problem, and then (from their sharp questions later) the suggested solution. Of course the introduction (against my reform – desires) of GST, made any further address of that sort a bit academic, until we saw how far GST solved it all (not far). In giving a brief history of the graduated income-tax, which only became generally adopted in several Western countries at once in about 1913 (and that wasn’t really coincidental, there’d been toplevel “climate-change” type talks going on with the barons of oil, steel, railroads, banking, shipping etc just before that). I would mention Marx’s 10 – Article “Communist Manifests” of 1848, the “road plan” to collapse capitalism by internal political action internationally (a bit like “climate change” talks again in that international context). Marx didn’t aim to collapse capitalism by force, (though force was employed later in USSR and China etc). Article 2 of this nasty document enjoined international communists to “introduce a heavy progressive income-tax” (incidentally Article 1 was to “bring about the abolition of private property and the transfer of all rents to the State”). That’s the company the graduated income-tax was in originally – Marx’s road plan to destroy capitalism altogether. The other 8 articles were to like effect. Whether the extremely wealthy lobbyists who by 1913 had orchestrated the income-tax into the Western World (while exempting their own capital gains) ever read Marx’s “Government Manifesto” I do not know. What is obvious though, after a century of the graduated income-tax, is that it is economically an instrument of destruction of businesses and employment. Profitable businesses – local, not overseas-owned ones, are the key to national prosperity, jobs, savings and our citizens’ children’s futures. Robbing profits is destructive, causing frustration, despair, broken homes, suicides, and everlasting business-debt and much knavery. A low tax, TOT, on the “top-line” – the sales – could be the New Way out of this century-old tangled tax mess. Derek Quigley heeded this in 1980, and if his “Colonel’s revolt” had succeeded in changing the then Cabinet – and it nearly did – NZ could have become the “Switzerland of the South Pacific” by now. Given there are some problems with profit-tax, weren’t they fixed by the reductions in the top-rate from 60% to 33% (or 39%)? 60 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
What is “fixed?” From whose standpoint? The problems of the business, or the National Revenue? First, consider business. It still has to finance a 33% loss of its profit, turned into a capital-loss. Not once but every year. Also, any increased profit causes a 2 x 33% = 66% loss to be financed in the current year (final tax plus provisional tax). There’s no way that that is “good business” for any business. Second, has that “fixed” the Minister of Finance’s problem? Well no – at least not initially. Not until and unless all business-profits (companies, firms, or individuals) increase. Let’s use the usual example of a $1m turnover, with a $100,000 net profit after all business-expenditures. A TOT of (say) 15% would produce to Government $150,000, compared with $33,000. Even a TOT of 10% would produce $100,000, compared with $33,000. Before even adding-in the TOT on the wages/salaries. It’s obvious that the Minister of Finance wins with a TOT. It’s also obvious that the TOT-rate should be as low as possible. Which is obviously possible. What requires consideration is whether the businesses could stand the TOT. However, except for direct exporters the whole business economy would be competing in the same tax environment, as concerns all local (NZ) sales. The tax-net (this time) should have no holes in it (unlike GST) – but the huge incentive to earn tax-free profits would be the stimulus this little country certainly needs. Not to mention attracting overseas business centres-of-operation into New Zealand, plus some more higher-income residents. Instead of waiting to equal any tax-cuts which Australia may invent, we should cut-through first and run out well-ahead, in the tax-comparison game. And we sure do need to collect the Revenue and avoid deficit budgets and overseas banker’s terms (that’s another story). We need the healthy local businesses to become healthier. (The effect of a TOT on our local sharemarket would be electric). It’s high time to rise above the “politics of jealousy.” We’re all in this together in this fair land. Was it ever “fair” to “fine” the profitearners? Now, how do you answer my three original questions? CONCLUSION Question 1: Was the graduated income tax system a good one? – is answered firmly – no. Question 2: Is there a new and better total alternative tax, is answered – yes – for at least all of the following reasons: 1. New Zealand’s internal economy is by world standards a small marketplace, but not small when its exports are considered (which would be exempted from TOT); 2. a small marketplace is at a natural disadvantage in terms of attracting productive employment-producing capital; so 3. New Zealand can, and should, become attractive to the investment of productive capital (by World standards of such choices); therefore 4. remove the disincentives of a profit-tax altogether (which is affordable with a TOT); and 5. enable government to balance its budgets with a better taxtake; and 6. minimise (or repay) its emergency borrowing; and 7. radically simplify all tax-administration; and 8. lift New Zealand from mediocrity to a land of opportunity and prosperity at all levels of its economy. Question 3: Is a new and total alternative (TOT) system entirely unprecedented – is answered – no. So theres’ the solution, replace income tax and GST with TOT. Nothing less will do. This time.... for our children and grandchildren... n
CHRISTMAS IS COMING A N D
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F U L L
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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 January 2010 61
The strange story of David Gilani THEY LIVE AMONGST US, TICKING BOMBS WAITING TO EXPLODE. IN THIS SPECIAL INVESTIGATION FROM THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, JOSEPH TANFANI TELLS THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN JIHADI
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 63
ne June day in 1988, customs agents at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport pulled aside an intense and striking young man waiting to get on a plane back home to Philadelphia. They suspected he had heroin in his suitcase. They were right – 2 kilos’ worth from Pakistan, hidden under a false bottom. He wasn’t tough to crack: Before the day was out, Daood “David” Gilani decided to save his own skin, agreeing to betray his drug-dealing partners by helping U.S. drug agents set up a sting. It was the beginning of a complicated, off-and-on relationship as a confidential informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration – one that lasted more than a decade. In fact, Gilani was so helpful as a DEA informant in the late 1990s on heroin imported from Pakistan, according to records and Philadelphia Inquirer interviews, that prosecutors made a rare move: They ended his probation years early, allowing him to travel freely. Within weeks, investigators say, he began training with terrorists in Pakistan. His latest arrest ended just like his first. On Oct. 3, FBI agents in Chicago approached the man – by now, he had changed his name to David Coleman Headley – just before he stepped on a plane for Philadelphia. This time, the FBI had questions about terrorism, not heroin. Once again, Headley immediately switched sides. Prosecutors say he admitted taking trips to the jihadist camps and performing surveillance and photo reconnaissance for terrorist plots in Denmark and India, including preparations for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks. Today, the man who came to Philadelphia as a teenager and grew up over an Old City nightspot is in federal prison in Chicago, charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty. The FBI says Headley’s videos and photographs were used by the squad of terrorists who killed 170 people in Mumbai, India, last year. By talking this time, Headley might escape the death penalty. New details are emerging about the strange double life of Headley, the son of a Pakistani broadcaster and a Main Line socialite who would spend evenings holding court and drinking splits of champagne in her bar, the Khyber Pass. He was briefly married to an American woman in the 1980s whom he met at the bar, who, like a lot of other young women, was mesmerized by his dark skin and piercing eyes – one blue, the other brown. He later became a heroin addict, and twice was caught smuggling the drug into the country by the DEA, in 1988 in Frankfurt, Germany, and in 1997 in New York. Both times, he got off with a lighter sentence by testifying against his partners. It quickly became clear to federal law enforcement officials in New York that Headley knew a great deal about the heroin trade between the United States and Pakistan and was willing to cooperate. Headley went to work for DEA, making heroin cases against at least three Pakistani men, according to records and interviews. In one, as agents recorded the conversation, he began yelling at a man who was reluctant to get involved. “Oh, brother, I do not want to do anything illegal,” said the man, who was eventually acquitted. “You know that if anything happens (my wife) is sitting with little, little kids.” Immediately after his release from federal prison in 1999, he traveled to Pakistan with government permission, court records show. 64 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
“We don’t identify any of our confidential sources,” said Erin McKenzie-Mulvey, a DEA spokeswoman. To the agents who knew him then, he was a common drugdealing “opportunist,” someone who knew how to forget about loyalty, cut his losses and get the best deal. “Wow! Get out! I would have bet my last $100 he wouldn’t get involved in terrorism,” said one law enforcement official who worked on the 1988 Philadelphia case. “Guys like this, they know the system,” the official said. To relatives and family friends, it was no surprise that Headley ended up torn between different worlds. “David and Daood; they’re like two different people,” said his uncle William Headley of Pennsylvania. He said his nephew had “an upbringing that was irreconcilable.” David Headley was born in 1960 in Washington to a couple who met while working at the Pakistani Embassy. His mother, Serrill Headley, was a 19-year-old with a memorable laugh and a taste for adventure. The family soon moved to Pakistan, but Serrill Headley chafed at the strictures of life with Syed Saleem Gilani, who, her friends said, had a traditional Islamic view of a woman’s place in the home. She left in 1968, without 8-year-old Daood and a younger daughter. “She was too young, too free, too independent,” said William Headley, who operates a day care center. He said his family was devastated by his nephew’s alleged involvement with terrorists. “We don’t deserve to be linked to terrorism,” he said. Serrill Headley went to a bartending school and later bought an old pub on Second Street near Chestnut that she rechristened the Khyber Pass. “Beautiful woman,” said Ron Horsman, who owned the bartending school. “She had snow-white skin, and then the dark hair. She was like Rosalind Russell in the old movies.” Horsman and other friends said she talked constantly about getting her children back. In 1977, she finally succeeded in persuading Daood to leave his military school in Pakistan to come live with her in Philadelphia. The reunion wasn’t a smooth one. She would talk to him lovingly in Urdu. William Headley remembers a young man watching “Happy Days” when he was alone above the bar. But Daood, shocked at his mother’s wild ways, struggled to fit into his new life in America. He enrolled in the Valley Forge Military Academy but lasted only one semester; one family friend said he got involved with drugs there. He later took accounting classes at Philadelphia Community College, but did not earn a degree. He reminded one of his mother’s friends of Holden Caulfield, the main character in “The Catcher in the Rye,” trying to fit in and not succeeding. He quickly attracted a flock of girlfriends, though. “In those days he was a rare plant compared to the guys from Kensington,” said Kiki Olson, a friend of Serrill Headley’s. In 1985, he married a woman who had recently graduated from Pennsylvania State University and began working at the Khyber as a bartender. Like his parents’ marriage, Daood’s quickly ran aground on the couple’s sharp cultural conflicts. “When he would go to Pakistan he would get all riled up again,” said the woman, now a real estate consultant in Chester County. Long since remarried, she spoke on condition that her name not be used. “Infidels. He would use words like that,” she said. “When he
Fida Khattak/PPI PHOTO INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 65
would see an Indian person in the street, he used to spit, spit in the street to make a point. “I guess he was torn between two cultures,” she said. “I think he liked both. He didn’t know how to blend them.” They divorced in 1987. By the next year, he was in business as a drug mule for Philadelphia dealers. In Frankfurt, Germany, the DEA agent stationed there was summoned to the airport and interviewed Headley, then still named Gilani, whom he remembered as “very, very quiet and very controlled.” The agent told him he could help himself by cooperating. Gilani agreed. Two days later – after his apartment had been wired for sound and video – he delivered the suitcase to Richard Roundtree and Darryl “Tarik” Scoggins. “Is this all ours?” Scoggins asked, pointing to the pile of heroin on the coffee table. He gave Gilani a high five. Gilani got his sentence cut in half to four years. At his sentencing, the judge said he was giving him a break because of his cooperation, because he didn’t have a record – and because he had a heroin habit. “It’s up to you, Mr. Gilani, to do what you can with the rest of your life,” said the judge, the late James McGirr Kelly. “You are still a young man.” Released from prison in 1992, he asked the judge for his passport back. “In accordance with his heritage,” he planned to go to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, his probation officer wrote. But he had trouble staying clean and flunked drug tests. He was sent back to drug treatment in 1994 and, in 1995, got an additional six months in jail. Two years later, Headley was arrested for nearly the same crime – moving heroin from Pakistan to America. This time, he was caught by the DEA on his way to deliver heroin to New York dealers, and once again, he agreed to cooperate, wearing a wire as he delivered the heroin in a hotel room. Headley pleaded guilty and received a 15-month sentence. The dealer he turned on, James Leslie Lewis, got 10 years. To get such a reduced sentence, Headley didn’t only testify against Lewis. According to court records, he worked for the DEA as a confidential witness, setting up at least three heroin deals. “It was easy for him because he was of both worlds,” said a law enforcement source who was involved in the New York heroin case. Just a month after he pleaded guilty to the New York crime in 1997, Headley worked with the DEA, records show, to induce a fellow Pakistani living in New Jersey into buying heroin. The man, Ikram Haq, had a low IQ and didn’t speak much English. Headley had befriended him when they served together in prison. At the 1998 trial in New York, it was Headley’s word against Haq’s. The jury acquitted Haq, providing a rare victory to a defendant claiming entrapment. Headley “was a common run-of-the-mill drug dealer informant who got caught and was simply trying to save his own neck,” recalled Haq’s attorney, Sam A. Schmidt. What made it unusual, he said, was how the DEA allowed Headley to “overreach” to target a vulnerable man. In another 1998 case, Headley worked as a confidential informant against Zaheer Babar, who pleaded guilty to flying to Lahore, Pakistan, and smuggling 1 kilo of heroin into New York, hiding it inside seven books in his luggage. Babar got 3.5 years. Headley began serving his 15-month sentence at Fort Dix in November 1998. But within six months, records show, Headley 66 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
was out of jail and headed to Pakistan for a monthlong trip – all with the approval of a federal judge and the Department of Justice. The original sentence called for Headley to remain on probation five years, until mid-2004. But at the end of 2001, his attorney and the prosecutor together asked the judge to end his probation early. The judge agreed. “Eight or nine times out of ten, when you see a scenario like that, it’s because he’s cooperating or being rewarded for past cooperation,” said former federal prosecutor Rocco Cipparone. “If he’s still an informant, it makes it easier for everyone – for example, you don’t need the court’s permission to travel.” Less than 60 days later, the FBI now alleges, Headley was back in Pakistan, this time doing more than dealing drugs: He was training with the terrorists. The U.S. government alleges that Headley attended camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba, “The Army of the Good,” in February and August 2002 and three times in 2003.
Dhiraj Singh/ RAPPORT
“Last year, 10 Lashkar terrorists attacked the hotels and train station, killing 170 people, including six Americans. Headley potentially faces the death penalty for those six murders” In February 2006, he went to court in Philadelphia to change his name from Gilani to Headley, saying he wanted to take his mother’s name to match “the name he has been known as in business for approximately the previous 10 years.” According to the FBI, though, he admitted that he did it so he could travel more easily in India. He also picked up a new passport. Starting in 2006, Headley traveled to Mumbai to perform surveillance for Lashkar, prosecutors allege. They say he videotaped targets, including the train station and Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. Last year, 10 Lashkar terrorists attacked the hotels and train station, killing 170 people, including six Americans. Headley potentially faces the death penalty for those six murders.
AMERICANS LINKED TO TERROR CASES
The Headley case is just one of a number of recent cases in which Americans have been linked to terrorist acts here and overseas. Last month, officials alleged a plot by Minnesotans to recruit
American teens for terror cells in Somalia, and a U.S. Army major, Nidal Hasan, was charged with killing 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. This followed arrests this year for alleged terror plots in Denver, Boston, and Dallas. Last year, five foreign-born men raised primarily in Cherry Hill were convicted of plotting an attack on Fort Dix soldiers. “It’s really disturbing – Americans becoming radicalized,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on South and Central Asia. “It’s not something we’re used to, even after the attacks of 9/11.” Five young Americans were arrested last week in Pakistan for allegedly planning to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-Pa., a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, said the recent cases demonstrated that “this jihad movement is a global threat – we’re more susceptible than we thought.” Additional reporting John Shiffman and Kathleen Brady Shea n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 67
think life | money
Life is not an endless summer Peter Hensley on the need for retirement income Summer holidays were always full of sunshine and great times. The annual trek to their friends’ holiday bach seemed to get better each year. Ann recalled that they had been coming for nigh on fifteen years. In the early days their girls, April and Sarah would have been just on eight and ten. A lot of water had been washed under the bridge since those days. She remembered the kids playing in the river, coming home sunburnt and proud of their attempts to dam the stream. It had started out as a safe place for the kids to learn to swim and they never seem to tire of the attraction that it held. Now, Sarah was in her last year of university and April had a job working as a graphic artist for an advertising firm. It was early evening as the sun hung low in the 68 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
west, the quiet stillness making her think about the future. Their lawyer had recently died from a heart attack. He was 43 and twelve years their junior. Ann was working with his wife at the time and had been amazed to find out that they still had a huge mortgage and no funds put aside for emergencies or the future. She had assumed that because he was working as a professional that money would not be a problem. She had assumed incorrectly. Ann had always worked to live. She made sure that she and the girls always had the right clothes with matching sun-glasses. They enjoyed an annual holiday and went skiing every second year. It was Michael’s job to work out how to afford it and he always seemed to come up with the right amount
of money at the right time. She thought he was wonderful. She never queried how he did it or how much their mortgage was. He was the man of the house and as long as he continued to do as he was told there would never be an argument at their place. Michael would move heaven and earth for Ann and the girls. To prove it, he had moved house five times in the past fifteen years. And in the years they were not moving he spent a large part of the summer doing up old cars to sell. This was the only way he knew to produce enough cash to keep both the bank manager and the girls off his back. At 55 he was tired. He was having trouble keeping up with advances in the car industry, technology was moving faster than he was. He was sick of moving house. The Government had eradicated inflation which was his underlying reason to move. Their mortgage was still high and the only respite he had enjoyed recently was a decline in interest rates. There had to be a better way. Michael convinced Ann to go along and visit a financial planner in an attempt to get their finances under control. He wanted to know the answers to just three questions: How much do we need to retire? How much are we going to have?, and how can we bridge the gap? Maurice had been in the financial planning industry a long time and was wise enough to understand that there was no clear cut answer to the first question. He immediately asked Michael what was their annual expense budget. He knew from experience that less than one person in ten actually knew how much they spent in a year. He also understood that “all of it” was not a correct answer. Michael was different, he knew the amount. This meant that they were already in front of the vast majority of the population. Maurice always used a crude multiple of 15 times. This meant that if Michael and Ann could live on $30,000 pa, then they would have to have a lump sum of $450,000 at retirement, preferably more. The extra for most would come from New Zealand Superannuation, however many have learnt from experience not to trust the Government when it comes to keeping promises. Especially those that cost money. Once Maurice had worked out how much they were going to need, it became pretty obvious that they were way off track. The designer clothes, sunglasses, holidays and desire to assist April and Sarah with university had crippled their retirement
plan. Their mortgage meant they were starting at the back of the grid. Debt in anyone’s language is expensive. People with financial intelligence work out early in life that debt is something to avoid. It can be useful at times, however when you are in your mid fifties, then it should be eliminated. Ann did have an elderly Aunt who conveniently left her a small legacy which meant they were able to extinguish their debt, replace their car and still have enough to retain as a cash reserve. Now this was a new experience that took Ann a while to get used to. She had a lifetime degree in retail therapy. If she knew that there was money in the bank, she and the girls had an uncontrollable urge to electronically transfer these funds to various store owners bank accounts. Michael knew this and placed their rainy day money into a liquid but inaccessible investment. The fact remained that they were still way short of their target. They were aged 55 and had dreamt of retirement at 60. Maurice worked out that they needed to save almost $3,000 per month for the next seven years to even come close to achieving their dream. This was in excess of half their combined income. This was serious money in anyone’s language and they soon realised
that saving for retirement was serious business. They also realised that if they were currently working and living on $80,000 pa (and spending all of it), then they had little to no chance of not working and living on $30,000 pa. The math was simple, however they had never sat down before and done the calculation. Retirement was another word for unemployment. Damn.
tively squeeze some extra money from their employers and also qualify for some free money from the Government. The free money came in the form of tax credits which is really a misnomer as they are effectively cash money added to their KiwiSaver account each year if they meet certain conditions. Once Ann understood what Maurice
“Debt in anyone’s language is expensive. People with financial intelligence work out early in life that debt is something to avoid. It can be useful at times, however when you are in your mid fifties, then it should be eliminated Maurice then explained the eighth wonder of the world, compound interest. Initially they had to curb their spending and arrange to save a healthy chuck of their income. Michael was a bit dubious at first but once Ann learned that many millionaires spent time clipping coupons then if it was good enough for rich people to do it, then they could learn to do the same. Maurice then took time to educate them where and how their savings could be best invested. He also encouraged them to sign up for KiwiSaver so they could effec-
was explaining, they were on their way to answering question three, how they could reach their retirement savings goal. She decided that she had to adjust her spending habits, curb her retail therapy urges and spend less than she earned. The balance initially had to be saved, and then invested. Michael and Ann knew that at retirement, all that would be there when they got there is what they sent on ahead. © Peter J Hensley January 2010. A copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.
THE DIVINITY CODE
“…the most politically incorrect book” in New Zealand. He is absolutely right…Prepare to be surprised and shocked. Wishart may ruﬀle a few feathers but his arguments are fair as his evidence proves. If you are looking for a stimulating mental challenge, or a cause to fight for, Eve’s Bite will definitely satisfy. – Wairarapa Times-Age
Wishart takes up the gauntlet laid down by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and in fact, uses Dawkins own logic and methodology to launch a counter-attack against unbelief. Challenging…thought provoking…compelling – keepingstock.blogspot.com
Discover the truth for yourself. Get these two books today from Whitcoulls, Borders, PaperPlus, Dymocks, Take Note, and all good independent booksellers, or online at
I’m having a cracking good read of another cracking good read – The Divinity Code by Ian Wishart, his follow-up book to Eve’s Bite which was also a cracking good read – comment on “Being Frank”
www.evesbite.com INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 69
think life | EDUCATION
The big question Why on earth have we let politicians run/ruin our education system – our country, asks Amy Brooke
Something very damaging has happened to New Zealand these recent decades. Most of us instinctively know this. Most would be very happy to get on with their own lives, to look after families, to safeguard time to follow special interests and hobbies, to get outdoors more, garden, read more – even to just sit outside in winter sunshine – or lie back in long grass in the summer watching the clouds go by… Something interferes with all this. Although we willingly interact with others with common values, humour, with good neighbours and workmates, stressful interactions are increasingly thrust on us. The two most damaging, gobbling up what little free time we have left, are government, both central and local – and the politically correct, 70 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
mis-using power in positions of authority. The sheer fatigue that comes as a result of individuals less and less able to find stressfree, private time to call their own has its inevitable result. Tired minds switch off. The avoiding of confrontation to be left in much-needed peace has many now simply walking away from playing their part in what is no longer a participatory democracy. A doctor tells me he is now serving approximately seven various governmentrelated agencies in his practice, trying to cope with their intrusive, never-ending, time-consuming demands getting worse and worse –while still doing justice to his patients. Overloaded practitioners are dominated and dictated to by the health bureaucracy, including by other doctors
who, unable to cope with the burdens of general practice, escape sideways into management. There they increasingly expect their hands-on co-frères to comply with even more requirement criteria. Throughout the professions and trades, oppressed by government intrusion, New Zealanders now feel like Sisyphus, condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless tasks, deluged with tedious paperwork, reports, requirements, the demands of state officials inappropriately intruding into, and taking the joy from the lives of those who simply want to get on with their jobs. But as in the field of education, the state has no intention of allowing this. A builder friend responsible for keeping his business viable to employ excellent
tradesmen finds it difficult to sleep, telling me that he finds it intolerable thinking about what our political parties have done to the country, with the massive, never-ending “compensation” payments to manipulative part-Maori iwi well bearing in mind Hone Harawira’s mother’s reminder of Malcolm X’s – the squeaky wheel gets the most grease… Grease they are certainly getting on held-out palms as falsified claims of injustice are added to those that were fair. With “full and final settlements” again and again resettled, the squeaky wheel goes round and round and round – as with the John Key-led National Party’s buying of (part-)Maori leaders’ votes in return for support for its outrageous Emissions Trading Scheme.
Governments and bureaucracies are comprised of individuals who share responsibility for many New Zealanders’ anger against politicians turning into fatigue, and their determination to walk away from trade-offs seen as amounting to a soft corruption. However, the problem that faces a New Zealand at the crossroads, is that, as the great GK Chesterton put it, “A tired democracy becomes a dictatorship.” The Prime Minister’s extraordinary disregarding of the resounding, over 80% No vote against the infamous anti-smacking legislation smacks of a markedly dictatorial attitude, together with National’s buy-in to the worldwide rort of carbon trading, and the global warming scam. The lesson of these recent years is that not only society, but our elected representatives are dominated by strong-minded individuals determined to have their own way and good at getting it. Moreover, our position at the far end of the world, away from the constant interaction of neighbouring countries rubbing up against one another’s forms of government and education systems, has us too easily dominated by our politicians. Now virtually a selfcontained class of their own, these react far more comfortably with one another than with those they now fail to represent – while maintaining a symbiotic relationship with a largely supine media depending on them for favoured or exclusive interviews, special access to high-ranking politicians’ private phone numbers, overseas junkets for media promotion and photos, invitations to special events, plus the cosy thrill of in-house gossip, and being at the supposed heart of things. The result is our over-arching control by national and local governments, including their politically correct bureaucracies, draining a country of potentially self-sufficient individuals of initiative and vitality – so very much the New Zealand character. However, Wellington creative ad-man, John Ansell, finds that New Zealand has now become “the poor man of the Anglo world” performing worst in terms of average pay packets than 72 other countries, recently overtaken even by Prince Edward Island. Behind all this dumbing down have been the politicians. And within or controlling the political parties, a few very determined individuals have been holding the country in a headlock. Nowhere is this more obvious than in education. It is largely because of this left-wing establishment that we are now into the third
generation of New Zealanders deprived of anything remotely resembling quality education. The response of National in power is always inept, its ministers so intimidated by the bullying education politburo that National dares not implement a genuine national standard for basic literacy and numeracy skills. Schools can cherry-pick from options and mark their testing internally, with all the potential for cooking the figures some have been adept at in the past. Moreover, when Minister Anne Tolley tells a former senior Inspector, John Mills, very cognisant of the decline throughout the education system, that with the implementation of national standards “students will not be required to meet a specified level of attainment before progressing…” and that “the quality of teachers is not an issue…” one can only marvel at her ignorance of the twin problems of dull, undereducated teachers and hapless children expected to move on to master new learning – while failing to understand what they should already have been taught. Ah, but Trevor Mallard is planning a comeback – the politician responsible for ordering even primary school children to be inappropriately steeped in compulsory sex education classes from which their own parents (and we are talking about grown individuals…) are refused permission to move them, because this politician knows best. Standards will go anyway, he declares, once he is back running the show. So it’s all rather a waste of time planning for education reform in this small country -while the politburo and its bureaucracy run the show. Right around the world genuine education reform is taking place – but passing us by. The only possibility of reform here is to face up to removing the power that politicians inappropriately hold over the country’s children, over what goes into their minds, and what has been deliberately withheld. The grass roots movement to claim back New Zealand as a democracy will receive much of its support because of the one thing that energises tired people – the mistreatment of their children. Our education politburo is using them to advance its own agenda – one basically deeply hostile to democracy, and to a country of well-educated, independently thinking individuals, well qualified to stand up to the encroaching state. © Amy Brooke www.amybrooke.co.nz www.summersounds..co.nz http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 71
think life | SCIENCE
Ready for the big one? A DPA special report documents progress on early tsunami warnings The biggest tragedy of the December 26, 2004 tsunami was that had people been properly warned half an hour in advance, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved. As it was, an estimated 230,000 people died in the disaster. Five years later, although systems are finally falling into place, there are still serious questions about the readiness of the AsiaPacific region for a similar-scale disaster. For example, on September 30 the Jakarta-based Earthquake and Tsunami Centre failed to issue a tsunami warning after a powerful earthquake struck West Sumatra, said Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a senior geology researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. 72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
The quake, whose magnitude was initially measured at 7.6 on the Richter scale but later was revised up to 7.9, killed more than 1,100 people, mostly trapped in collapsed buildings and landslides. It also triggered a small tsunami, according to tide gauges off Sumatra. “Fortunately there was no big tsunami. If there had been a tsunami, I can’t imagine how many people would have died,” Natawidjaja said. The 2004 tsunami was caused by a 9.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. An unusual vertical lift, caused when two undersea tectonic plates collided, triggered the killer wave that claimed 230,000 casualties in 11 countries around
the Indian Ocean. More than 168,000 of the dead and missing came from Indonesia, mostly in Aceh province. Fauzi, head of the Jakarta-based Earthquake and Tsunami Centre who like many Indonesians only uses one name, said an integrated tsunami warning system – comprising seismometers, GPS instruments, tide gauges and buoys, as well as ocean bottom pressure sensors and satellite communications – should be ready by 2010. The system involves data collection from equipment placed in the field, transmitting it to a processing centre for analysis and sending early warnings to authorized parties and communities. So far, Indonesia has only completed the
first level of the system, which primarily involves collection of data from seismometers installed in several regions, on which a tsunami warning is based, Fauzi said. A tsunami warning buoy off the coast of Sumatra, a donation from the US government, has been out of commission most of this year. “The buoy was vandalized, probably by fishermen, in March 2008,” said David McKennie, a senior advisor to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Until then it had operated very reliably.” A quick glance at the NOAA’s tsunami website shows that the buoy placed off Nicobar Island, in the Indian Ocean, which is supposed to issue tsunami warnings to Thailand and India, has also been out of operation for months. Donated by USAID to Thailand, which lost 8,000 people in the tsunami – half of them foreign tourists – the Nicobar buoy was launched in December 2006 and worked fine until November 2007, when data retrieval became erratic. As of September 10 this year, the device has been totally out of commission after its battery expired. Thailand, which was responsible for maintaining it, has decided to buy three new buoys at the cost of about 200 million baht (6 million dollars) to replace the now defunct USAID-donated one and place two more in the Andaman Sea that will better cover the country’s southern coastline. The Nicobar buoy is due to be replaced on December 15, and the old one will be repaired and kept as a spare. The two new ones will be put in place some time next year. “When all three are in the water, Thailand will be 100 per cent prepared to issue tsunami warnings,” said Viriya Mongkulveerapan, director of the National Disaster Warning Center. Viriya claimed that Thailand’s system can provide a tsunami warning to beachgoers in resorts like Phuket and Phang Nga within three minutes of detecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, allowing for 25 minutes to evacuate people. Thailand has had its own problems with theft. The cables of one of the warning towers in Phuket were stolen prompting the, disaster warning centre to allow the towers (about 200 in total) to be used for community announcements on a daily basis. “This shows everyone that they are still working,” Viriya said. Phuket residents note that most people on the island don’t really seem to care, given what
Tsunami warning weather satellite to system 3 GOES ground station
Relays radio signal; computers at ground station calculate tsunami’s starting point, speed and arrival times; real-time warning sent to areas in danger
6 ft. (1.8 m) tall man
8 ft. (2.5 m) tall
2 Communication buoy
Receives data from sensor; sends radio signal to satellite Also sends data from weather instruments on buoy Control unit
3.2 ton float
1 Bottom pressure recorder
Senses pressure change as a tsunami as small as 0.4 in. (1 cm) passes
Computer Pressure sensor
Data encoded into sound waves
Chain and nylon line
About 20,000 ft. (6,000 m) deep Acoustic
3.4 ton anchors
720 lb. (330 kg) anchor underneath recorder
Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, U.S. National Data Buoy Center Graphic: Jutta Scheibe, Morten Lyhne, Todd Lindeman
is deemed a remote possibility that another large-scale tsunami will hit and a general amnesia about the 2004 disaster. There are no commemorative events planned to mark the tragedy on the resort island. There is a similar lack of a “culture of disaster preparedness” in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequent, Natawidjaja said. “I don’t think any region is ready for a major disaster like the 2004 tsunami,” he said. “The recent earthquake in West Sumatra is an example that despite warnings, little was done towards mitigating the impact of earthquakes, such as strengthening buildings, enforcing building codes and identifying areas prone to landslides.”
© 2004 KRT
“Thailand’s system can provide a tsunami warning to beach-goers in resorts like Phuket and Phang Nga within three minutes of detecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, allowing for 25 minutes to evacuate people
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 73
think life | TECHNOLOGY
A digital recorder to die for Ian Wishart is impressed by Olympus’ top line LS-10 linear recorder For those old enough to remember this magazine’s infamous interview with John Tamihere in 2005, you may also recall that it was the first occasions a digital recording device made news headlines. Instead of a clunky old tape recorder or microcassette dictation machine, Investigate was tooled up with what, then, was a state of the art digital MP3 recorder. The rest of the news media were in awe, and I suspect that was part of the reason they gave us such a hard time: how come we had the cool kit and they didn’t? Well, times have changed. Anyone watching the TV news each night will have cottoned on to the fact that most parliamentary media scrums feature reporters holding digital recorders as their weapon of choice. With good reason. The versatility of the 74 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
machines makes it easy to put an audio grab directly online or into the news computer system. That’s one of the markets Olympus is now targeting with its new LS-10 digital recorder. This is actually a studio quality stereo recording device, packed in a frame you can fit in your palm, or even mount on a tripod using the socket on the back. Sleek, stylish and solid-feeling, the LS-10 oozes quality from every pore. None of this cheap and nasty plastic, the LS-10 is encased in aluminium. It has on board memory of 2GB, and can take SD memory cards up to 8GB. Utilising USB 2.0, it’ll download a 1GB file to your computer in around three minutes, and because voice and music recordings are much smaller in size, they’ll transfer in fractions of a second in many cases.
The LS-10 comes with windsocks for the two built in microphones for outdoors use, but also features both mic and line-in jacks. The device offers a range of recording qualities and formats, depending on need. MP3 and WMA is the bread and butter option, but for full studio quality you can utilize its PCM WAV capabilities up to 96KHz and 24-bit. On the side, selector switches give swift access to high or low mic sensitivity, while the onscreen display, although monotone, is easy and intuitive to use, with recordings saved to folders accessed by the four-way dial switch on the front. The same switch covers all the functions, simply by navigating forward or backward, up or down through menu choices. So who will find the LS-10 useful? Journalists and news organisations, obviously. The convenience and reliability of this machine make it a no brainer for news conferences or one-on-one interviews. But the news biz is just one potential market. This is a pocket-sized recorder that parents can use at school concerts or plays – the quality is so good, aided by a “zoom mic” feature that helps boost sound from further away, that the LS-10 becomes an essential supplement to the ubiquitous home video camera. When you come to edit your home movie on the computer, lay in the sound track from the LS-10 which is guaranteed to be superior to anything on your camera. Being a separate unit, you could even place the LS-10 at the corner of the stage to record the sound up close while you’re further back recording Johnny on video. Musicians, and budding musicians, will likewise find the LS-10 invaluable, providing studio quality recordings capable of being uploaded to the web or burnt to CD. Unlike many other dictation machines, this is the first offering from Olympus in the high-res end of the audio production market. Twenty years ago, recording quality at this level cost upwards of ten thousand dollars, not the $799 on the ticket here. In essence, if you are shopping around for a dictation machine, which is already going to set you back a few hundred dollars, it’s worth seriously thinking about utilizing the top range LS-10, if only because of the extra multimedia opportunities it opens up for work and family use. NEXT MONTH: We put Windows 7 through its paces, and check out the new PaperPort 12 Professional document management system from Mistral Software.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 75
feel life | SPORT
Kay Nietfeld /NEWSCOM
2009 – a rare bloom New Zealand’s sporting year was ignited by a string of world-beating achievements and genuine surprises. Sports columnist Chris Forster savours the highlights and chucks in a few lowlights for good measure ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT Football stole the show from the major codes on a brilliant Saturday night in midNovember at the “Caketin” in Wellington. The roar of 35 thousand ecstatic fans when their team held firm for a famous 1-nil victory over Bahrain to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, could be heard loud and clear in Auckland. It was one of the century’s great sporting moments on New Zealand soil. Ricki Herbert’s charges – lead heroically 76 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
by their only star, Ryan Nelsen – played their hearts out to defy the underdogs tag and revive memories of the legendary campaign of 1981. Sure they had an easy run through the Oceania group. Sure they were lucky to escape the first leg in Manama with a nilall draw. But to deservedly beat one of the top teams in Asia – when they had to – sparked a wave of patriotism and created a new legion of household names. Goalkeeper Mark Paston’s penalty save in
the second half was the toast of the nation. The incisive running down the left flank and dangerous crosses from Leo Bertos were critical and striker Rory Fallon’s majestic leap and unstoppable header on the stroke of half-time pushed the bumper crowd into fever pitch. The $13 million dollar windfall from FIFA for making the grade is the icing on a rather illustrious gateau. The World Cup Gods have drawn the All Whites in the same group as defending champions
Italy in June this year, as well as a game against fellow long shots Slovakia (their opening game on June 16) and the thirdranked South American team, Puerto Rico. They’re playing all three games at altitude on South Africa’s high veldt and you wouldn’t bet against this team pulling off another shock or two on the biggest sporting stage of them all. Not bad for a code ranked behind rugby, rugby league and netball. UNBEATABLE VAL-UE It’s hard to believe the reigning Olympic, World and Commonwealth Shot Put Champion is still only 25 years old. But Valerie Vili’s fierce focus and stunning ability to throw the 4 kilogram sphere of metal further than anyone else has put her on a mighty pedestal. The Olympic Gold in Beijing in 2008 goes down as a career-high – and the tears of emotion on top of the medal podium made us all feel a little closer to a genuine New Zealander. In 2009 Vili lifted her game to another level. She successfully defended her world crown in Berlin in a tight three way contest with German and Chinese athletes. She then set a new personal best with her last competitive event of the season in Greece – topping 21 metres for the first time and beating her own PB by 39 centimetres. South Auckland’s finest is starting to close the gap on the phenomenal distances achieved by the steroid-enhanced “women” from East Germany and Russia in the 70s and 80s. There are no world championships in 2010 – but Vili has another season in Europe and gets to chance to defend her Commonwealth crown in New Delhi. PEDAL TO THE MEDAL 2009 was the year Alison Shanks kicked clear of the shadow of Sarah Ulmer and found some clear air on cycling’s world stage. After narrowly missing out on a medal in Beijing, Shanks backed-up a World Cup gold by topping the podium in her Individual Pursuit event at the World Championships in Poland. She backed that up with silver alongside Lauren Ellis and Jaime Nielsen in the women’s Team Pursuit. Cycling’s powers-that-be might pull the pin on Shanks dreams of matching Ulmer’s feat in London in 2012 though with their plans to axe pursuit track cycling from the Games programme.
ARISE SIR MAHE He’s not quite a Knight of the realm yet – but Mahe Drysdale might as well be. The towering single sculler made the New Year’s Honours list and surged to his fourth consecutive World Championship gold, to lead a record haul of 4 gold medals and a bronze. The London Olympics are a driving force for Drysdale, but first there’s a small matter of defending his world crown on Lake Karipiro in October and November. Special mentions too for the other world champion crews of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray in the coxless pairs, lightweight single sculler Duncan Grant and the lightweight pair of Peter Taylor and Storm Uru, who also topped the podium in Poland. THE TUAMAN DELIVERS The sceptics tried their hardest to undermine New Zealand’s mega-hyped Fight of the Century. But they couldn’t deny David Tua’s triumphant return to the heavyweight stage. A brutal flurry of punches sent Shane Cameron onto his backside three times and it was all over early in the second round at Mystery Creek. What’s more the one-time contender for the world crown announced he’s back in the ring for bigger offshore prizes, even at the advanced age of 37. He’s also came of age as a showman, effortlessly and humorously dealing with the doting media. Rather handy traits in an occupation like boxing. ON THE BUTTON No-one could’ve predicted Jenson Button would be Formula One World Champion in 2009. The Englishman’s career was heading for the scrapheap when cash-strapped Honda pulled the pin on its team. But the genius of Ross Brawn came to the rescue and Button made the most of the lifeline. The 29 year old won six of the first seven Grand Pris in the Mercedes-powered Brawn GP car to build up a lead in the Drivers’ Championship that was never toppled. Button’s added International Racing Driver of the Year to his achievements. But the lure of racing alongside compatriot Lewis Hamilton and a much bigger annual salary – will see him race under the McLaren banner in 2010. LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE Yes it’s that freakishly quick Jamaican again. Usain Bolt followed up his Beijing brilliance with another speed spectacular at the World Champs in Beijing. The laid-back
“The sceptics tried their hardest to undermine New Zealand’s mega-hyped Fight of the Century. But they couldn’t deny David Tua’s triumphant return to the heavyweight stage
sprinting dude destroyed class fields in the 100 and 200 metres finals to break his own world records and helped Jamaica take the 4 by 100 relay gold. Still only 25, Bolt is now targeting the 400 metres as well and you wouldn’t bet against him blitzing the opposition. DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS No end-of-year wrap on sport would be complete with a list of misdemeanours and malfunctioning teams. TIGER WOODS We don’t need to go into the indiscretions which have become public property here. But needless to say there will be intense scrutiny when the world’s best golfer teesup for his first PGA Tour event of the year in Hawaii. Woods will be heckled by the boorish American crowds and driven to drink by the tabloid journalists. Somehow he has to regain his composure and take aim at Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major Championships. THE WARRIORS Failed to fire a shot in the NRL in 2009 when many were picking them as Grand Finalists. Centre Brent Tate will be back from his devastating knee injury to focus the stuttering backline, there’s a new captain in Simon Mannering relegating Steve Price to mentor in his last season, and a new Australian halfback with a rocky past in Brett Seymour. NZRU BACKFLIP The national game was in cull mode after the best Air New Zealand Cup in years. But the outcry from provincial unions like Manawa, Northland and Tasman pushed the rugby union into yet another backflip. Poor crowds and performances from main centre teams didn’t help their case, and their unenviable bid to add a dose of commercial reality into the mix. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 77
feel life | HEALTH
Magnets helping those with severe depression A revolutionary new treatment for depression has been approved by US authorities, reports Jan Jarvis
Tiffany Marable was taking nine medications a day, and the depression still would not lift. She could not get out of bed or stop crying. Holding a job was impossible. Just doing the dishes seemed overwhelming. “I felt doomed,” says Marable, 32. After years of taking heavy doses of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other medications at a cost of $3,000 a month, the Texas mother of four agreed to try a new treatment that sounded like something out of a science fiction novel. Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, or TMS, is one of psychiatry’s newest tools in the treatment of severe depression that is unresponsive to medication. It uses short, highly concentrated pulses of mag78 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
netic energy to stimulate the part of the brain that is believed to control moods. The magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by magnetic resonance imaging machines, or an MRI. The magnetic field is applied above the left prefrontal cortex and does not affect the whole brain, says Dr. Gary Malone, medical director and chief of psychiatry at Baylor All Saints Medical Center. For 37 minutes, patients sit in what looks like a dentist’s chair as 8,000 pulses target an area of the brain about the size of a golf ball. In October 2008, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the device, made by NeuroStar, for the treatment of severe depression. Almost two years earlier,
an FDA advisory panel found that the device was safe but questioned its efficacy. Side effects include headaches and lightheadedness. It could be an alternative to medication for some of the 15 million Americans who have major depression. For Marable, who was first treated for depression at age 13, the results were life-changing. “I could do homework with my kids or go to a game and not be afraid to be around people,” she says. “I just felt normal.” The treatment, given five days a week for six weeks, is effective in 50 to 60 percent of patients and is well-tolerated, says Dr. Deborah Kim of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is researching the
use of TMS on pregnant women. About 8 percent of people treated with antidepressants do not respond. Electroconvulsive therapy, also known as shock therapy, is very effective for severe depressive episodes but has serious side effects and requires hospitalization. Even those who improve with medication often find the side effects intolerable. In Marable’s case, the medications triggered a 40 kg weight gain over a year and still didn’t relieve the depression. In clinical trials for TMS, half the patients experienced an improvement and a third were able to go off medication, Malone says. Of the three patients he has treated with TMS, all responded within two weeks. The treatment holds promise for pregnant women because antidepressants are not safe for fetal health, says Kim, a member of the American Psychiatric Association. It has also been shown to relieve the pain and depression of fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread pain. How long treatment works is unclear because long-term research isn’t available, Kim says. About 50 percent of patients being treated with TMS at the University of Pennsylvania do maintenance treatment, Kim notes. There’s no reason why they cannot repeat the therapy at a later time if necessary. Still, it’s not for everyone. “If you’re depressed because you had a fight with your wife or you have addictive issues, this will not help,” Malone says. For those like Marable whose depression makes it difficult to function, relief comes at a price. The six-week treatment costs about US$12,000 and is generally not covered by insurance. But those who selfpay have successfully fought to get coverage, and NeuroStar guides patients through the reimbursement process, Malone says. Whatever the cost, Marable and her husband, Thomas, say it’s worth it. She has started doing volunteer work, plans to get a job and is able to take care of her children. She also quit smoking. Before the treatment, she couldn’t go to a movie theatre without taking anti-anxiety medication. She could not drive because of the medications she took, and family outings often left her in tears. “A year ago, we went to Six Flags and all of the sudden we had to leave because she couldn’t stand it,” Thomas Marable says. “Now we have season passes.”
MAJOR DEPRESSION • Major depression affects about 5 to 8 percent of adults in any given year. • Unlike normal experiences of sadness, it is persistent and significantly interferes with an individual’s thought and behavior. • It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. • Without treatment, the frequency and symptoms tend to increase. • Depression occurs twice as often in women as men. Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness
HEALTHBRIEFS ALCOHOL UPS BREAST CANCER RECURRENCE RISK u OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 11 (UPI) – Women who have at least three to four alcoholic drinks per week have a 1.3fold greater chance of breast cancer recurrence, U.S. researchers found. Marilyn L. Kwan of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., said women who are post-menopausal or overweight may be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence. Drinking fewer than three drinks per week was not associated with an increased risk, Kwan said. Kwan and colleagues examined the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence and mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study -- 1,897 early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer from 1997-2000. After eight years of follow-up, Kwan and colleagues found 349 breast cancer recurrences and 332 deaths. Increased risk of the cancer coming back was most predominant among those who consumed two or more glasses of wine per day. Women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to less than three drinks per week, especially women who are postmenopausal and overweight or obese, Kwan said in a statement. The findings were presented at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center, the American Association for Cancer Research and Baylor College of Medicine San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. HELMETS PROMOTE RISKY BEHAVIOR ON SLOPES u SIPAPU, N.M., Dec. 11 (UPI) – Responsible behavior on ski slopes prevents injuries more than helmets, which can offer a false sense of security, the National Ski Areas Association said. We’ve seen that when people put on helmets, they become less risk-averse. Maybe they ski faster than they normally would or take a black diamond course they wouldn’t normally try, said Dave Byrd, a spokesman for association, which represents 327 alpine ski resorts in the United States, Snowboarders and skiers should wear helmets but they won’t prevent serious head injuries completely, Byrd told The Santa Fe New Mexican in a story published Friday. Helmets help prevent head injuries sustained at speeds as fast as 14 mph, but most skiers and snowboarders travel much faster, Byrd said. Our position is that it is not any particular device that is going to save you. It is skiing responsibly, he said. No state requires helmets for skiers and snowboarders, though some ski resorts require employees to wear helmets and also require children 12 and under to wear a helmet.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 79
feel life | ALT.HEALTH
Suicide raises more questions about acne drug A teenager’s parents blame acne medicine for suicide, reports Marlene Naanes Derek Lagos was a soccer star who dreamed of going pro, a good student on his way to a prestigious prep school and a popular kid who made friends even with rivals on the playing field. The 13-year-old had no history of depression, according to his parents, who said he was by all accounts a happy, focused kid. However on Oct. 12, after a normal day of school – capped off by light-hearted joking with friends on the bus – Derek killed himself moments after arriving home. That evening, police asked his mum if he was on any medication. Immediately, her thoughts went to Derek’s acne medication, Sotret, and the dermatologist’s mention that 80 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
the son of a politician had committed suicide while taking the name-brand Accutane. “Something definitely snapped. There was no note,” says Ingrid Schultze-Lagos, Derek’s mother. “It was completely unlike Derek. If Derek would have been in his right mind, he would have never, never imposed this pain on us, on the community, on the family, on the friends.” Most people who commit suicide show signs that they are depressed or are struggling with some emotional or psychological challenge, experts say. However, it is sometimes difficult for the most devoted family and friends to pick up on the signs, says Nadezhda Robinson, director of the New Jersey’s Division of Child Behavioral Health Services. “Some youngsters are very quiet in the signals that they send and pretty good at being the person everyone is accustomed to seeing,” she says. When researchers in January evaluated previous studies of the acne drug isotretinoin, including Sotret and Accutane, they found the studies strongly suggested a link to psychological issues. In June, Roche pharmaceuticals, pulled Accutane off the market in New Jersey after more than 25 years, citing its declining market share because of generic versions of the drug. Warnings on the package of Sotret and other versions of isotretinoin say they may cause suicide, noting that some people have had suicidal thoughts, tried to commit suicide or have killed themselves. A representative from Ranbaxy, the maker of Sotret, would not comment on Derek’s death or the warnings on its packaging. It is unclear how many people taking isotretinoin have committed suicide since the drug came onto the market in 1982 as Accutane – and later in generic form. However, between Sept. 30, 2006, and August 31 of this year, 260 suicides associated with isotretinoin products in the United States and internationally were reported to the Food and Drug Administration, according to data provided by the agency. The FDA said physicians are encouraged to report suspected reactions to a drug even when there is no proof that the drug is at fault. At least 65 other commonly prescribed drugs, including all antidepressants and anti-epileptic medications, include suicide warnings on their packaging, according to the FDA. Schultze-Lagos said she did not consider Derek’s acne severe, but he asked to try the
medication because other treatments did not clear up his skin. She believes the acne drug somehow caused her son to suffer a brief psychosis and commit suicide. Although she had read the label and was told by Derek’s dermatologist about a congressman’s son committing suicide, she did not know how many people had committed suicide while taking the drug. “If they would have said to me there have been almost 200 deaths ... I would have said no,” she said. “I would have said, ‘You will be washing your face until you’re 45.’” Several studies on the risk of suicide while taking isotretinoin have had varying, sometimes inconclusive, results. While the January review of studies published in the Annals of General Psychology concluded that research strongly suggests a link between isotretinoin and psychological issues, previous studies have found no concrete link, inconclusive evidence or even that depressed people improve on the drug. In 2005, University of California, San Francisco, researchers reviewed nine studies on the risk of depression, attempted suicide and suicide in isotretinoin users. They found that other factors, such as age and gender, seem to be more likely causes for such behavior but added, “the evidence may not be sufficiently compelling to rule out a weak association.” Dermatologists feel the drug does help their patients’ self-esteem and is the best option for people with scarring acne that has not been helped by any other treatments. Dr. Neil Goldberg, a New York dermatologist, sings the praises of Accutane after taking the drug himself and prescribing it to his 17-year-old son and many of his patients. Goldberg said the drug does have side effects that include increased triglycerides and birth defects if a woman becomes pregnant while taking the drug. However, he sees it – as many dermatologists do – as a great medication and believes reports of suicide of teens on the drug are anecdotal rather than conclusive, especially considering the prevalence of suicide among teenagers. “Just because there’s a tragedy in the family of a teenager, the Accutane is not the culprit,” he said. “It’s anecdotal evidence.” The argument over isotretinoin’s possible link to suicide peaked in 2000 when Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., spearheaded the fight against it because he believed his son’s suicide was caused by the brand-name drug Accutane.
ITS BACK L8 Series For more than eight decades, Akai has proven itself to be one of the premier sources of vision and innovation for consumer electronics. Throughout this time, Akai has engaged in offering quality home entertainment products specializing in the audio and video arenas. The new L8 Series from Akai provides an affordable LCD offering for your home. Featuring four models; a 19”, 22”, 26” and a 32”, the L8 series is engineered from advanced technology, with all screens using a high quality LCD panel for improved image clarity and sharpness for superior picture quality.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 81
taste life travel
See the April sun in Cuba There are good reasons to visit this outpost of Caribbean communism
Havana – The Caribbean island of Cuba is investing heavily in its heritage after years of letting its buildings go to rack and ruin. There are now plenty of boulevards, handsome old house and theatres to be admired and the charm of Cuba’s colonial past is not only to be found in the capital Havana either. There is scope for nostalgia in other cities too, ranging from Cienfuegos and Trinidad across to Santiago de Cuba in the east. Admittedly, a lot remains to be done and visitors will find the contrast between old and new particularly crass in Havana. Between the golden dome of the Capitol and the cathedral numerous groups of workmen toil away, yet just a few streets farther on, staircases, roofs and even whole house are propped up with timber scaffolding lest they collapse completely. Those who stray from the well-trodden tourist paths in Havana will still come across much neglected architecture and 82 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
scruffiness and will no doubt frequently ask themselves: “Doesn’t anybody collect the refuse around these parts?” Trinidad on the south coast is a perfect relic of the early days of the Spanish colony, a virtual open air museum with a wealth of preserved streets and buildings. Tourists from all over the world dine on octopus or chicken with rice and beans to the sound of groups like Trinitarios. Naturally the musicians play evergreens like Guantanamera and numerous songs in honour of the late revolutionary leader Che Guevara. Streets of renovated one-storey houses fan out from the Santisima Trinidad cathedral, all of them festooned with pictures of Che and political slogans with facades decorated with wrought-iron and flowery bowers. Trinidad was founded in 1513 by seafarer Diego Velazquez de Cuellar and flourished until the first half of the 19th century dur-
ing an era when the sugar barons ruled the roost. The Valley of the Sugar Mills just outside the town offers lush vegetation and a glimpse of former plantation glory and like the old quarter of Trinidad, the location is a UNESCO world heritage site. Trinidad is popular but seldom overcrowded and visitors soon find themselves strolling alone among the picturesque squares, courtyards and cobbled streets with their tranquil fountains. One such refuge is the “Casa de la Cultura” where Susana Garcia displays her paintings. In the House of Literature close by visitors can relax while browsing the bookshelves or watching a game of chess. The historical centre of the seaport and industrial city of Cienfuegos enjoys protection from modern development too. “That really gave tourism here a boost,” said Maria de los Angeles Guillen who runs a local three-star hotel. A double room for the night costs 60 euros (90 dollars).
Her meagre foreign currency reserves do not run to providing expensive imported hams and cheeses for breakfast but she and her staff more than make up for this by their friendliness and a wide range of delicious local produce. In the evenings both locals and tourists who want to eat out are spoilt for choice. There are dozens of restaurants and cafes along the main boulevard and in the neoclassical theatre around the Parque Jose Marti a performance of Carmina Burana is about to begin. Next door a comedy troupe and a jazz band are raking in the applause. Entry to these amusements is free of charge. Over at the eastern end of the island in Cuba’s second city Santiago, a sweet melody drifts through the night from the “Casa de la Trova” in the Calle Heredia. The singer is recounting the woes of an impoverished lover. Santiago de Cuba has more of an ethic blend than almost any other city on the
island and is famed for its musical heritage, having spawned styles such as Son which became known worldwide through the film Buena Vista Social Club. Many visitors come to the so-called “heroic city” of Santiago in search of traces of the revolution. Cuban icon Fidel Castro attempted to depose dictator Batista on July 26, 1953 by storming the Moncada garrison but his forces were repulsed by troops loyal to the government. Castro survived to take his place on the town hall of the balcony six years later from where he proclaimed the triumphant revolution. The Cuartel de Mocada is now one of the many museums in the former island capital. Elsewhere, towns such as Holguin not far from the beaches of the northern coastline, Guardalavaca or sleepy Baracoa in the far east offer colonial boulevards, parks and authentic Cuban atmosphere galore. Havana remains nevertheless the essential
stop on any tourist itinerary since it contains the most extensive relics of Spanish colonial presence with countless baroque and neoclassical buildings. Restoration in the Habna Vieja is advancing rapidly, thanks in the main to one expert, Eusebio Leal. The communist official with entrepreneurial skills has known for two decades now that lovingly created historical buildings and squares act as a magnet for tourists and bring much needed foreign currency into the country which in turn enables more preservation work to be carried out. At present the Plaze Vieja,one of the oldest market squares in Havana, is being restored to its former glory. Most of the buildings are already completed and in the nearby “Taberna de la Muralla” beer is brewed on the premises. For those who like their refreshment even cooler, the “Escoria” ice-cream parlour opposite has delicious ice cream with brittle pecan chunks, a slice of cheese cake and a Cappuchino coffee. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 83
taste life FOOD
In a family way James Morrow goes in search of honest food Most aspiring home chefs are riven with internal conflicts. Can I contemplate a new relationship with a vegetarian, or will the whole thing end in tears? Should I pay the mortgage this month, or put it off to buy that immersion circulator for perfect sous-vide? And should my cooking be more cheffy – that is, elaborate plating, restaurant techniques, and the like – or should I give up the pretension that a Michelin star will ever crash through the roof and into my dining room and concentrate instead on what might be called more “honest” food? Well, experience is a hard teacher, and years of studying under its whip hand has taught me that vegetarians are generally humourless and anaemic, banks and landlords brutally unsympathetic, and that sometimes one needs to take off the toque and put away the rings and squeeze bottles. This was brought home to me with the purchase of a new cookbook, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home. Now for many of you Thomas Keller will need no introduction. As the man behind California’s French Laundry and more recently New York City’s Per Se, Keller is 84 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
recognised as one of the greatest chefs in the world (even if he does not get to spend much time on the line these days). His French Laundry Cookbook is a feast for the eyes, though it is likely that few readers attempt to make his famous torchon of foie gras. But there is another side to Keller. A few years ago, in the course of expanding his restaurant empire, the chef opened Ad Hoc, a more casual restaurant down the road from his high dining temple. Ad Hoc At Home is the product of this restaurant, and it bridges the gap between fine food and family fare: Indeed, it makes the reader look at family-style food in an entirely different light. While the recipes are familiar (fried chicken is the book’s signature dish, and it was also the last meal of his father, from whom Keller was estranged for most of his life but with whom he touchingly reconnected for a final few precious years) what makes the book is what it teaches you about the little extra steps. Vegetables are regularly blanched quickly and refreshed in ice water in a method Keller calls “Big Pot Blanching”, and meats are routinely brined, adding flavour and tenderness.
The book is sprinkled with counter-intuitive suggestions, like getting rid of one’s tongs (previously treated by this home cook as an extension of his hands) in favour of spatulas and spoons which do not tear or damage ingredients. Heat is another topic, and readers are taught that seriously high heat is nothing to be afraid of, judiciously used. Thus one feels confident enough to caramelise scallops over blistering heat, and leave them there for longer than one ordinarily might – in a regular, rather than nonstick pan, no less! My favourite recipe so far is for a sort of deconstructed paella called “mar i muntanya”, a sort of Catalan surf-and-turf. I served it recently for my family, thinking there would be plenty left over for school lunches. No such luck as a table of five, aged from three to 35, demolished a platter of prawns, chicken, beans and rice (and revealing that is possible for a kindergartner to be a mussel fanatic in the process). If your local bookshop cannot get this title in, Amazon.com can. This is, without a doubt, the best cookbook I’ve acquired in quite some time.
CHICKEN MAR I MUNTANYA Adapted from Charles Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home You’ll need: For the main dish: 1 chicken, approx 2.5 kilos, cut into ten pieces 12 large prawns, shelled Periquin or smoked paprika 1 cup thin green beans, quickly blanched and refreshed in ice water 1/2 cup chicken stock (home-made, if possible) 2 Spanish chorzio sausages, cut into 1/2 cm slices 1/4 cup dry white wine 18 mussels flat-leaf parsley Fresh salt and pepper For the saffron rice: 1/4 cup canola oil 1/4 cup finely chopped onion (cut slightly finer than the grains of rice) 1 healthy pinch saffron threads 2 cups short-grain, starchy rice, preferably Calasparra 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (again home-made, if possible)’ For the chicken brine: 3 lemons, halved 12 bay leaves 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley 1 bunch thyme 1/4 cup honey 1 head garlic, cut through the equator 1/8 cup black peppercorns 1 cups salt 4 litres water To make: 1. First, brine your chicken. Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to the boil. Stir and boil for another minute, to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and cool, then chill before using – this brine can be refrigerated for up to three days. One cool, put your chicken pieces in the brine and chill for no more than 12 hours. 2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and rinse, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels or air dry and set aside. 3. Cook your rice: heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and season with a sprinkling of salt. Reduce heat and cook gently for three minutes. Add the saffron. Reduce heat to very low, and cook
for another two minutes; do not brown the onions and saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, to toast the grains – about one to two minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups stock, stir once, and cover loosely. Bring stock to a simmer and adjust heat as necessary for about eight minutes until most of the stock has been absorbed. The rice will still be firm. Gently stir the rice, scraping it up from the bottom, and reduce heat to very low. Add an additional 1/4 cup of stock, cover again, increase heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about three minutes, until the stock is absorbed. Taste the rice and, if necessary, add remaining stock 1/4 cup at a time until the rice is almost tender and the final addition of liquid is almost absorbed. Turn heat to low, stir, and season with salt. 4. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Head some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dark meat skin-side down, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the skin is a rich golden brown and crisp,
about eight minutes. (If you turn the chicken too early, more moisture will be released from the meat and you will not get the crisp, caramelised surface you are looking for.) Turn the pieces and brown for another six minutes, or until golden brown on the second side. Set aside. Return the pan to medium-high heat and repeat the process with the white meat. 5. Spread the rice in the bottom of a large, oven proof serving or baking dish. Arrange half the green beans over the rice. Tuck the chicken into the rice, pour stock over the ingredients, and put in the oven. Meanwhile heat some oil in a pan and cook your chorizos, then your prawns. Remove, and add the mussels and wine and cover, shaking until the mussels have opened, about two to three minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange the mussels, chorizo and prawns in the baking dish, and set aside in a warm place. Return the other pan to the heat, fry off the remaining green beans, and scatter over the top of the dish with the parsley. Serves 6. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 85
touch life > toybox
EH-TW4500 PROJECTOR Top of the 2010 range is the EH-TW4500 with its contrast ratio almost trebled to an extraordinary 200,000:1, producing even deeper and richer dark tones and blacks that draw viewers into the scene. The dramatic increase in contrast has been achieved by making fine adjustments to Epson’s dynamic auto iris, combined with Epson’s innovative DeepBlack technology and Epson’s energy efficient 170W E-TORL lamp, that delivers 1600 lumen White Light Output and 1600 lumen Colour Light Output. Using its extensive experience in creating algorithms that faithfully reproduce colours in images printed with its renowned inkjet printers, Epson has fine tuned the colour Look Up Table [LUT] in this projector to ensure it accurately renders every tone in the moving image. They also have a 12 bit driver in the image processors to deliver smoother colour gradation by reproducing up to 68.72 billion colours. As a final touch Epson has added Super Resolution Technology that examines blurring and boundary effects in lower resolution images and adjusts them to create a sharper picture, producing a high definition effect in standard definition sources. RRP $6399 including GST. www.epson.co.nz
CANON POWERSHOT G11 Key innovations on the PowerShot G11 include a highresolution vari-angle LCD screen and greatly improved noise reduction. The Dual Anti-Noise System allows photographers to capture full resolution images – using up to ISO 3200 – in difficult low-light conditions. This makes it easier than ever to take stunning low-light portraits or retain the ambient light detail with latenight landscapes. Motion blur can also be substantially reduced. The PowerShot G11 introduces enhanced flexibility with a new 2.8-inch vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD – a feature introduced as a direct result of customer feedback. The adaptable screen makes the PowerShot G11 ideal for shooting in all situations, such as reportage photography where using the optical viewfinder may not be practical. Perfect for creative and macro photography, the vari-angle lens has a wide viewing angle and 461k dot resolution with natural colour accuracy, giving photographers a detailed view of their subjects – both pre and post-shoot. The premium quality Canon lens delivers picture-perfect performance, offering a 5x wide angle (28mm) zoom with optical Image Stabilizer (IS). This allows handheld shots to be taken at much slower shutter speeds (4-stops) than conventional nonIS models – allowing perfect shooting in darker conditions or at a lower ISO. www.canon.co.uk
86 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
TOSHIBA SATELLITE T100 SERIES Made for mobility, the ultra-thin Satellite T100 series is Toshiba’s thinnest and lightest Satellite laptop yet! Weighing in at a mere 1.58kgs, the petite and powerful T100 series is packed with features to handle everyday connectivity, web and digital entertainment needs. Equipped with a long-life sixcell battery, the T100 can give you up to nine hours of battery life from a single charge. The T100 has all the features you’d expect in a laptop, plus Toshiba’s value-added features such as USB Sleep and Charge for charging your devices on the go (even when your notebook is switched off), a Webcam with Face Recognition for keyless access and Hard Drive Impact Sensor to keep your documents and memories safe, among others. Additionally the T100 series is available in two screen sizes: an 11.6 inch HD or 13” HD TruBrite widescreen LED Backlit display – both with a full-sized keyboard and touchpad. Starting from $999 (RRP Inc. GST), the T100 series delivers more style and flexibility to your mobile computing experience. www.toshiba.com.au
BARNES & NOBLE’S NOOK The Nook, billed as the first Android-powered e-book reader, features not only a 6-inch E-ink screen but a color touch screen that allows you to navigate content and also can turn into a virtual keyboard for searches. At launch, no separate Android apps will run on the device, but Barnes & Noble says that one of the reasons it chose Android to power the Nook is because it’s an open platform with a large developer community and that future apps are a possibility. Like the Kindle, the Nook has a built-in 3G wireless connection (AT&T is the carrier) and a dictionary. However, the Nook also packs in Wi-Fi connectivity and a memory expansion slot--you get 2GB of internal memory, but can add up to a 16GB micro SD card. The Nook does weigh an ounce more than the Kindle (11.2 ounces vs. 10.2 ounces) and can’t match the Kindle’s battery life (10 days vs. 14 days). That said, Barnes & Noble is touting one very important new feature: the ability to lend out e-books you’ve purchased to friends for free for 14 days. The company says that you’ll be able to send e-books to a friend’s Nook, iPhone, or iPod Touch, select BlackBerry and Motorola smartphones, as well as Windows or Mac PCs that have the Barnes & Noble eReader software installed on them. www.barnesandnoble.com/nook [Source: news.cnet.com]
BELKIN’S HIGH-SPEED DOCKING STATION The High Speed Docking Station takes advantage of ultrafast ExpressCard technology, so you can get the outstanding performance today’s multimedia content demands. Connect the High Speed Docking Station to your laptop through its ExpressCard port. Then plug your devices and peripherals in. When you want to take your notebook to another room or on the go, just disconnect it and you’re on your way. When you come back, you’re a quick plug-in away from a fully operational, ultrafast, multimedia experience. www.belkin.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 87
see life / pages
A clutch of books Michael Morrissey’s New Year picks GOOD BUSINESS By Ian Wedde Auckland University Press, $25 Around 1969, just as I was dropping out of varsity to write the Great New Zealand Novel (and failing unheroically), while at the same time cautiously taking part in anti-Vietnam war protests, a group of Bohemian desperadoes began issuing eccentrically formatted issues of a poetry magazine called Freed. Today, a full set of the five Freeds in mint condition could easily be worth as much as an uncracked moa’s egg scooped out of a swamp of petrified kauri. Historical rumour has it, that C.K. Stead and his fellow University of Auckland academic colleagues (Curnow, Smithyman, Sinclair et al), were a mite disconcerted, even affronted, by this brash group of hippie bards (some of who were still students) and also, (hearsay has it), sporadically partial to consciousness-altering substances and wearing their hair– where naturally occurring hirsuteness made it feasible – in Medusa or Maenad-like bushes. (Except of course Jan Kemp who very sensibly kept her coiffure nunnishly bobbed.) The Freedites liked spelling “through” as “thru” (an early example of text messaging?) and were seriously addicted to ampersands and (so gossip greedily recalls) given to quaffing the odd quart of frothless amber fluid in the cat’s bar of the Kiwi. In other words, they were children of their time. Among the leaders of this Grafton /Parnell/Ponsonby brat-pack poetry cabal were the irrepressible David Mitchell (whose selected poems will be issued by Auckland University Press later this year); Alan Brunton, founder of the fabulously inventive theatrical group Red Mole; plus Bob Orr, Alan Loney, Murray Edmond and of course Ian Wedde, arguably the most talented of the group. In his influential 1979 lecture, “From Wystan to Carlos: Modern and Modernism in Recent New Zealand Poetry”, Stead declared Wedde the “most energetic and versatile “of the Freed ensemble though it is conceivable that Brunton may eventually emerge as the most deserving of that appellation. Good Business is Ian Wedde’s twelfth book of poetry and of course he has also been busy, though less effectively, as a novelist 88 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
– his novels can in parts come across as richly ornamented prolongations of long poems and his dialogue is often self conscious and weak. Despite the warm fuzzies showered on his ambitious novel Symmes’ Hole by Patrick Evans, a heavy-handed critic in my view who either naively enthuses with a gauche Southern hokeyism or attacks with a blunt regionalist tomahawk, it is, I believe, Wedde’s poetry that will last the distance. In all his considerable oeuvre, Wedde is never less than lyrically seductive, always acutely observational in the manner of an Antipodean William Carlos Williams, soaking in the smoky grit of randomly chanced upon street encounters, or men going about their craft of business survival.- a quiet emotion reminiscent of Alain de Botton’s recent superb account of foodstuffs traversing the world’s seaways without controversy or fuss. The casually hip Wedde writes poems that seem both effortlessly conversational and confessional, consistently retaining flavours and traces of his original 70s voice which burst forth with such meteoric confidence in his first book Made Over – probably the best first book of New Zealand poetry ever (I’ll take the accurate liberty of discounting his technical first Homage to Matisse as a chapbook) which in any event was reprinted as Made Over’s first seven pages). In this new book, Wedde’s onomatopoeic euphonies achieve a breath-takingly aural excellence – reminiscent of Curnow at his peak. Just as he dazzles you with “the kissy beasts / whose fingers smell of meat” or dubs a dog a “licky dope” he knives you with the mordantly satiric, “Ten minutes in The Warehouse is enough to make me want/ to wake up”. Then comes a shift to the prosy sounding, “The Westpac rescue helicopter has a job of work to do.” In as much as the language of the demotic has been too adroitly corralled into a poetic halter, it fits into the current trend of passing off dangerously mundane prose as poetry – alas, a fashion of our time bruited about by the well-meaning but dusty, chopped up prose that all too frequently graces the pages of the Listener. Such earnest banalities riskily approach desiccated platitudes of journalism, the cadaverous morphemes of an ur-text language more appropriate for the banal directives on the back of bus
Down you go alone, so late into the surge-black fissure. Lines penned by the Tohunga Crescent Magician in the early 80s when in his vigorous seventies. Despite their deathy ambiance, both quotations radiate a curious warmth and acceptance of fleshly finality. To adapt Robert Hughes’ remark about the painter Edward Hopper, Wedde is a poet you can trust. A MESS OF IGUANAS, A WHOOP OF GORILLAS: AN AMAZEMENT OF ANIMAL FACTS By Andy Shulman Particular Books, $36
tickets than the scenic splendours of the journey itself. But these lapses into an aggressively relaxed quotidian syntax are minimal in Wedde’s work. Even the great Curnow eased back on some of his grander rhetoric in his long maturity. And after all, isn’t the demotic part of a deliberate strategy? Perhaps it is the slide between fresh Curnovian euphonies and street-smart eye candy that Wedde consciously relishes – “It’s the anarchy of poverty that delights me” as Carlos Williams, the extraordinary master of street poetry, hauntingly wrote. But hey, if it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. Wedde uses a multitude of poetic tones and shifts, he is the musical maestro of many deliciously insistent voices. His main sequence, which gives the book its title, is a lyric celebration of the local shops and business in downtown Wellington such as Tony’s Tyre Service, Metalworkx Engineering, Wellington Scrap Metals, KFC, SPCA, etc. suggesting that Wedde has evolved beyond the complex lyricism of A.R. Ammons and thrown in his lot with a city poet like (say) Louis Johnson, a staunch observer of the Wellington environment– though ultimately, it may be Walt Whitman (with an ounce of Pound) sharing his generous embrace with Wedde who invites us to be benignly sizzled not merely by the body (and mind) electric but by the electrifying amiable and walk-accessible inner city, imbuing his poems with an urban and urbane charm. Wedde is a sauntering existentialist with a romantic eye and ear for whatever lies around the next street corner whether it be “a flaky pink building in Taranaki Street” or “finger food smelling of wine”. And when the city smacks deliciously into the sea, Wedde doesn’t shirk from conjuring up a salty couplet that Allen Curnow, our greatest poet, would not have been ashamed to have beached – and whose destination is the black sea-bed nibbled by blind, coprophagous eels. Which somehow brings to mind, though does not echo, the ending couplet (and a bit) of one of the greatest New Zealand poems, “You Will Know When You Get There”: A door slams, a wave, a door, the sea-floor shudders.
Collective animal nouns have long had a fatal attraction for me. At a time when political correctness and the anorexic terseness of text language are impoverishing the richness of English, it is a pleasure to learn that an Intrusion of Cockroaches is what is infesting your kitchen (or bed) or that a Bazaar of Guillemots (no, I hadn’t heard of them either) dive into the sea before they can fly, then plunge down nearly 300 feet to the base of oil rigs presumably in search of a Bed of Clams who, by the way, can live up to 400 years which is a long time to stay clammed up. Did you know that a Pandemonium of Parrots cannot eat chocolate, which comes in handy as a conversation starter when trapped in a lift with a bunch of pinstriped number crunchers who have no inkling that they are about to be knee-capped by a Committee of Vultures or need their Ray-ban wraparounds to cope with a Dazzle of Zebras who have wandered into the boardroom to complain about an Ambush Of Tigers. A group of sharp-nosed voracious West Indian fish which usually make a token appearance in any subaquatic James Bond film is aptly dubbed a Battery of Barracudas. I am tempted to suspect that the authors are at ease with a Flight of Albatrosses, but how about the onomatopoeic thunder of a Crash of Rhinoceros? I am comfortable with a Bevy of Otters and kosher with a Bloat of Hippopotami. In like manner, a Laziness of Sloths or a Flotilla of Frigatebirds could hardly be more apt. And surely a wee sliver of invention may have been employed to conjure up An Implausibility of Gnus. Get off your bike promptly if you run into a Bike of Hornets and always be on guard against a Leap of Leopards. Incidentally, the author cheerfully claims Jellyfish don’t have brains, a condition shared by several other life forms, many of them bipedal, some of them literary critics at Southern universities. A Wobble of Ostriches makes good sense but a Marathon of Roadrunners sounds too obvious to be credible. An Asylum of Loons can usually be found nesting near a funny farm and it seems the best Shrewdness of Apes can muster up enough for a club of dumb sapiens is a Group of Humans I shall keep a watchful eye on a Shiver of Sharks and will definitely avoid a Murder of Crows. A bunch to be wary of must surely be a Deceit of Lapwings and clearly one should avoid a Troubling of Goldfish or an Unkindness of Ravens. Despite doing a creditable job with rich material, it’s a pity the authors failed to include a Flange of Baboons, a Chain of Bobolinks, a Clash of Bucks, a Descent of Woodpeckers and a Chine of Polecats. As inventiveness is patently the way of the collective animal noun, kiwi ingenuity could well boldly add to the canon a Plagiarism of Witi Repartees, a Brynner of Rodney Hides, a Smooth of Keys, a Snarl of Muldoons, a Chameleon of Winston Peters and a Wit of Langes. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 89
RITA ANGUS: AN ARTIST’S LIFE By Jill Trevelyan Te Papa Press, $70 It’s as predictable as sliced bread and a further Listener instalment lambasting Witi Ihimaera’s alma mater university and Penguin publishing for white-washing plagiarism. Colin McCahon – or was it Colin McKenzie? – is our greatest, most important, most influential, most significant, most internationally celebrated, etc etc, artist. Even a Trans-Tasman painter like Imants Tillers has been postmodernistically appropriating McCahon’s images in a manner that, if transmogrified into a novelist’s borrowing, would have earned Professor Ihimaera ten years in SingSing smashing up pulped copies of The Trowenna Sea rather than manfully surviving the soggy bus ticket the University of Auckland has seen fit to limp-wristedly smack him with. Ask Cardinals Curnow, Simpson, Wedde, Brown (Gordon or Warwick), Keith and a clutch of other worthy McCahonmesmerised scholars and the invariable answer for the top New Zealand Painter will be Pope Colin, the First Founder of the Church of our indigenous Modernism. For a while, Toss Woollaston was grimly holding on in second place but his star has brown dwarfed, while Colin has swollen up to a red giant– even women are sadly not immune to adding to the chap-dominated McCahonisation process, the leading miracle of which is the astonishingly high prices they now fetch. If only I’d spent a 100 quid on a McCahon back in 1962, I could have bought a villa in Ponsonby by now. The curious thing is the loudest trumpetings have come from those who have never been to art school, have no degree in art history, never painted and presumably don’t have any inner gut feeling for the language of art as understood by those who palette it onto the canvas in thick daubs – outstanding among them, Jacqui Fahey and the late Phil Clairmont. Thus relieved of its paintly base (thousands of years old), a painting become a conceptual bloodless idea, a sort of toothless two dimensional vampire offering a half life to all who bare their jugulars. The exception is Billy Apple whose steel trap mind never ceases to impress with its cool authoritative grasp and austere style of conceptual art. Meanwhile our South Sea Ruskins, all learned to a fault, can present us with whatever ponderous pronunciamentos their theory prompts. Quotations from Barthes, Foucault and Derrida were once compulsory, now it is Walter Benjamin who is de rigueur. McCahon idoltary has become a latter day theology that takes its own God for granted even though proofs of His existence are never actually attempted let alone required. The phalanx of historian-theologians has become a regiment of flag waverers beating much the same drum. Dissenters are expressionistic heretics and hoi-polloi Philistines. But along comes Rita Angus with her orgy of controlled colour and high formal composition to subvert this worship of black and white McCahon gloom. My list of New Zealand’s top artists, composed on a personal rather than a scholarly basis, includes Jacqui Fahey, Tony Fomison, Phil Clairmont (our Mandarinly handsome Van Gogh), and old Colin McCahon (who had a tonne of integrity and a certain sunken albeit post alcoholic saintliness about him, a sort of ersatz spirituality) plus – you’ve guessed, my star of New Zealand future art history, Rita Angus – ruling queen of painters (though I will allow Colin as his consort). And according to Rita, he did hang on her shirt sleeves a bit. 90 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Whereas Colin always presented as a burnt out case, Rita’s proud, aggressively up to date, strong-nosed, confrontational stare together with gloves and stylish cigarette gave her a no nonsense modern woman look. She looked ready for vigorous opinion, prisoners presumably never taken. The number of self portraits – over 50 – might have indicated a degree of narcissism but their mannered severity always hinted at a more coolly aloof agenda. Rita, always stylish and severe, was never indulgently gloomy. She became part of the well-known1927-founded Christchurch Group along with Evelyn Page, Toss Woollaston, Olivia Spencer Bower, Doris Lusk as well as the bushy-browed Leo Benseman and Colin McCahon and still later Jacqui Fahey with whom she has been compared. She also befriended composer Douglas Lilburn, and scandalously had his child (miscarried). The shock of it was Lilburn was gay but then the gay do have progeny, when for a few seconds of guilty pleasure they indulge their phantom heterosexuality and forget they are homosexual. Thus Angus became an integral part of what was then New Zealand’s leading city of arts and culture, a hegemony that Christchurch has long since lost, though dyed in the wool Cantabrians seem blissfully unaware of this. Angus had the good fortune to have parents who approved of her brave decision to be a woman artist and supported her, albeit modestly. Even so Angus led a Luddite existence and never owned a vacuum cleaner, washing machine, refrigerator, television or car. A staunch pacifist, Rita Angus belonged to that small but strong tradition of live alone female artists (her marriage lasted briefly) like Ngaio March and Janet Frame, who put art ahead of family life and even, in a sense, close friends. It was a monkish, or to be gender accurate, a nunnish dedication and whatever the cost in human terms, it paid off handsomely in artistic results. Her brave and resolute career which included a bout of mental illness (insufficiently explored), is warmly documented in this well-deserved award-winning biography. Perhaps long after McCahon has been forgotten, we will be admiring Angus’s magnificently warm, expertly textured “Central Otago”; her ahead of its time “A Goddess of Mercy”; the orangewarmed “Sun Goddess” as well as the imaginatively compartmentalised, “Journey, Wellington” – still the quintessence of modernity, though painted over 40 years ago. Rita, I wish you a long life and this loving biography will cast a benignly long shadow many years into the future. HOW TO MAKE A TORNADO Edited by Mick O’Hare Profile Books, $24.99 In general, New Zealand humour does not give me a noticeable rictus. In fact, it often makes me reach for my revolver (if I had one), in order to dispatch the hopelessly unsuccessful humourist. Diana Wichtel is our sole genuinely funny columnist [ya reckon? – Ed.] and the New Scientist editor who has drawn this selection from the archives of the magazine is another such, with a keen eye for the ludicrous, the amusing and the risible. Read: In 1967, from the research laboratories of American industry there came toothpaste which glowed in the dark and reflected the headlights of motor cars. It was the first (and the last?) toothpaste that could be advertised as making a definite contribution to road safety – so long as those who used it remembered to walk facing the traffic and to keep grinning.” But wait! There’s more! Dogs wearing cattle prods! Scales to grade the odour quotient of Australian
farts! (Men win bottoms up.) Bacteria engineered to eat odourcausing chemicals and human sweat! Firefighters human cannonballed to the top of tall buildings! Sometimes, I felt I was reading the third book of Gulliver’s Travels where “mad” scientists try to extract nutrition from excrement, or coax sunbeams from out of cucumbers. How about electrocuting the sperm of baboons? Something I’ve always wanted to do– especially on rainy Sunday afternoons. After reading this book, you may never look at scientific research in quite the same way again. Instead of it being a serious and sombre exploration, it is a series of Alice in Wonderland experiments such as a laptop computer judge to assess road accidents. Science fiction clearly exists in the present – we don’t have to wait for it. Here’s another gem – after you’ve tonged out a spray of Glock bullets from a carnage of corpses, gangsters can be distinguished from the innocent by their ulcerated enlarged organs -. presumably the ongoing fear of being shot gets to them tummy-wise. It’s not all giggles. There is a very in-depth look at the pain suffered during various kinds of death (eg drowning, bleeding to death, fire, fall from a great height and explosive decompression.) Unfortunately, none are described as painless– not even drowning, which I always thought to be the soft option– softer presumably than being burnt alive. Please don’t let this last paragraph discourage you in any way. This book is side-splittingly funny even for scientists who are not generally noted for their sense of humour. (Have you noticed any climate change advocates guffawing into their greenie beards?) In fact, I defy you to read this book and not immediately fold up in hopeless mirth like a gypsy concertina. This delightful book is a must for every Christmas stocking. And, just remember, Mr Michael Levitt has written over 200 articles on the subject of human flatus. Now that’s breaking news. McMAFIA: CRIME WITHOUT FRONTIERS By Misha Glenny The Bodley Head, $43.99 When the Soviet Empire fell apart in 1989, many must have breathed a sigh of relief. The spectre of world annihilation through the two superpowers making nuclear war had, at least temporarily, abated. The Soviets had lost the arms race because they couldn’t afford it. But the new world picture was not as rosy as it might seem. In a chaotic economy, KGB agents, secret counter intelligence officers, Special Forces Commandos, border guards, detectives and traffic cops were out of work. Bulgarian steroidpumped musclemen were wondering what to do with their muscles. Solution – find a new career in organised crime. The fat cats on the top of the pile who ran the rackets became known as oligarchs. Glenny, who could be described as an intellectual tabloid journalist who writes with stinging verve and bucket loads of alarming facts, doesn’t spare the superlatives: “The collapse of the Soviet Union is the single most important cause of the exponential growth in organised crime that we have seen around the world in the last two decades.” And remember organised crime hasn’t exactly been dragging its heels in South America, East Europe, India or Nigeria. (Disappointingly, I haven’t been receiving any more emails inviting me to help smuggle out several million dollars on behalf of some dead general’s wife but I keep hoping). So – as in numerous James Bond movies – the Russians have
managed to keep their reputation as the bad guys, though now they have become rich bad guys. With a species of almost sordid glee, Glenny informs us that the new officials who were running about somewhat like headless chooks high on P, inexplicably held down the prices of Russia’s vast natural resources – oil, gas, diamonds and metals. These new dodgy traders who make the fattest of our capitalists look like corner dairy owners, would buy these heavy industrial goodies at old subsidised Soviet prices often at forty (my italics) times cheaper than the world market values. The old cliché that this post-Communist setup “was a licence to print money” has never seemed more apt. Or, as Glenny, once again pouring on what seem like highly accurate superlatives, writes, “This was the grandest larceny in history,” Putin may not be squeaky clean by (say) New Zealand’s (almost) quaintly high moral standards, but he has acquired Russian-style mana through clipping the wings of the oligarchs and helping restore some sense of balance. In Russia some 200,000 private security officers are licensed to carry firearms. Apart from dealing in firearms and other weaponry, these heavies also deal in enslaved women, and in the eastern sector, in illegal cigarettes and caviar. And Russian gangsters have a terrifying reputation for violence. Rocket-launched grenades come first and small talk with the corpses later. Meanwhile, over in Columbia, the cocaine drug lords considered the American market to be crammed to the adenoids with nose candy, so they met in a small Caribbean island with the Mafia and other cartels to look around for new markets, especially in Eastern Europe. Crime lords, it might appear, can cooperate more efficiently than the United Nations. In India, in recent times, the gold racket-dominated relatively non-violent scene has became more corrupt and more violent. But the cops got tougher too. If you thought Wild Bill Hickok was wild, take a look at the exploits of Inspector Pradeep Sharma who has personally shot 120 gangsters. Sharma has a bullet-simple credo – “Crime is filth and I am the cleaner.” In other words, Sharma is Mumbai’s Dirty Harry. These dramatic shoot outs are called encounters – of the Terminal Kind. According to Glenny, the character of this much to be feared man displays “a controlled and focused machismo” and he is “scrupulously polite” and “deeply serious.” However, unsurprisingly, some commentators have observed that these new zealous law enforcers “are extrajudicial execution units”. Columbia has long had a justified reputation for violence. The hard thing to work out is who is doing the killing? Glenny describes an incident where a nine-strong crack Special Forces Unit was gunned down while doing a cocaine bust in the jungles near Cali. But who were the anonymous hitmen? The Marxists guerrillas or FARC were the initial suspects but this proved not to be the case. How about the paramilitary AUC, ELS or MAS or PEPES (and not all these initials are explained.)? Guess what? The Special Forces guys were wiped out by a brigade of the regular army. The hyper-corrupt army was killing its own. But despite the awesome spread of organised crime, the cocaine trade accounts for only just 3 per cent of the Columbian economy. However, globally, Glenny puts the figure of crime’s “contribution” to the world economy at 15 per cent. One wonders how these estimates are made. And one must also wonder how the intrepid Glenny, who has interviewed hitmen, gangsters and drug lords, has himself managed not to become yet another casualty of an “encounter”. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 91
see life / music
Last is not least Chris Philpott’s pick of the sounds of summer JOHN MAYER Battle Studies It’s one of the most interesting dichotomies in music. In person, John Mayer is an extrovert, arrogantly dominating interviews on any number of topics, even speaking in Japanese from time to time, dating the hottest Hollywood starlets including Heidi Klum, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston, and generally maintaining an ego that resides somewhere in the upper atmosphere. But on record, Mayer manages to come across as self-assured yet soft spoken, helped by slow, introspective ballads like “No Such Thing”, “Clarity” and even “Who Says”, the first single from Battle Studies, his fourth solo album, on which he states “Who says I can’t get stoned / Turn off the lights and the telephone / Me in my house alone”, yearning for an anonymous existence that has long-since eluded him. Despite a few sublime musical moments, such as on ballady second track “All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye” or mid-album rocker “Assassin”, Mayer all-too-often relaxes back into the intimate groove he is has proven himself a master of. But while this latest effort doesn’t stray too far from Mayer’s common ground, it certainly is worth a listen, and should prove entertaining regardless of the listeners’ familiarity with his work. SWITCHFOOT Hello Hurricane Switchfoot have had a bit of a rough ride since their 2003 highlight album, and one of my favourite records this decade, The Beautiful Letdown. First came 2005’s Nothing is Sound, an album that did little to excite fans looking for more of the same magic that made Letdown so great, while 2006 follow up Oh Gravity saw the band devolve into a less-experimental version of themselves, turning to pop-rock clichés in lieu of trying to write unique songs as they had done so well earlier in their careers. 92 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Hello Hurricane, the groups’ latest album – 7th overall – does little to appease those fans still clinging to the hope of a return to form. Even looking at Hello Hurricane objectively, without comparing it to the group’s earlier work, there are seldom few moments that showcase their proven talent for writing catchy-yet-thoughtful songs. Openers “Needle and Haystack Life” and “Mess of Me” hint at the group’s pop-rock crossover potential, while elsewhere “The Sound (John M Perkins Blues)” and “Always” provide glimmers of what could have been. Ultimately, Hello Hurricane simply doesn’t stack up to the quality that Switchfoot seemed capable of in their heyday, let alone to recent offerings from their peers. THEM CROOKED VULTURES Them Crooked Vultures So what do you get when you cross Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar/vocals, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) on drums and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass guitar? The best damn album of the year, that’s what. You might think that’s a strong statement, given the quality of work we’ve seen in 2009, especially since it would be easy to assume it would be good given the high calibre of work we’ve seen from Grohl, Homme and Jones’ individual achievements, but in fact this is a case of the whole being bigger and better than the sum of its parts. Jam packed with unique beats and rhythms – just check out hard-rocking opener “No-one Loves Me & Neither Do I”, “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” or “Elephants” – while giving occasional nods to the members’ work (highlight track “Scumbag Blues” is clearly reminiscent of Led Zep’s fantastic track “Trampled Under Foot”), Them Crooked Vultures is as invigorating and exciting a listen as you will find at the turn-of-the-decade. More than just sheer entertainment, I would go as far as to say that this is an album that provides listeners with a reason to believe in rock music again, truly offering something for everyone.
NEW: LEICA M9
Made in Germany
The freedom to capture the decisive moment. Utterly focused, the boxers dance about the ring. Rhythmic, lithe, and elegant, full of moments of beauty and power – the perfect stage for the Leica M9. Quiet, discreet, compact – reduced to the essentials – it lets the photographer become part of the action. Yet although the M9 is the world’s smallest system camera with a 24 x 36 full-format sensor, it’s a giant in terms of performance: uncompromising image quality, superior rangefinder technology, and excellent lenses make the M9 the perfect tool to capture the decisive moment. For more information, visit www.m.leica-camera.com Contact Lacklands Ltd for your nearest Leica dealer Lacklands Ltd / 09 6300753 / www.lacklands.co.nz firstname.lastname@example.org INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January /2010 93
see life / movies
Disney finds the magic again Christmas kids story goes with voodoo theme, writes Sharon Hoffmann THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Voices: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David Directed by: John Musker and Ron Clements Rated: G (occult themes) 97 minutes The last time Disney tried its hand at hand-drawn animation was Home on the Range five years ago. Remember it? Anyone? So it’s almost a dream come true to see the studio return to its roots with a memorable movie. The Princess and the Frog can’t match the brilliance of the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King renaissance, but it still shines. Unless you’ve been living in a swamp you know that our heroine, Tiana, is Disney’s first African-American princess. She’s voiced by Anika Noni Rose (the sweet one in Dreamgirls), and she even has Oprah Winfrey for a mom (going by the name Eudora here). And yet race isn’t the issue – did you really expect a Disney musical fairy tale to take on civil rights? No, the film treads safer, familiar ground, more of a Cinderella story about a poor girl with big ideas. Like her father (a silky Terrence Howard), little Tiana has always wanted to own a restaurant in their hometown of New Orleans. But the closest they come is occasionally ladling out tasty gumbo for the neighborhood. Flash-forward to Tiana all grown up in the 1920s Jazz Age and striving to carry out Daddy’s dream. She knows she can’t count on an evening star or gallant prince for start-up funds, so labor is her love. “Do your best each and every day,” she sings at one point, “and good things are sure to come your way.” Preach, Disney! Her work, work, work ethic is a far cry from that of her rich, very blonde childhood friend, Charlotte (Broadway star Jennifer Cody). (They’re friends? In the segregated South? Hey, it’s a fairy tale.) 94 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Charlotte wants to marry into even bigger money in the form of Prince Naveen, who is visiting town from far-off Maldonia. He’s on the guest list for her family’s Mardi Gras costume ball (in a gorgeously rendered New Orleans Garden District). Naveen (Brazilian actor Bruno Campos of TV’s Nip/Tuck) may be handsome, but he’s broke – a slacker cut off by his royal parents and looking for some quick cash. He falls in with the oily Dr. Facilier (say it fass-ILL-ee-ay-that’s French in the Big Easy), a shadowy voodoo shaman who ends up turning Naveen into a frog. Facilier is voiced by character actor Keith David and, like any proper Disney villain, steals every scene he’s in. Needing to kiss a princess to become human again, Naveen spies Tiana at the ball, all dolled up in one of her friend’s gowns. But in a twist on the Brothers Grimm, Tiana smooches the frog prince (reluctantly, eww) and, presto, she’s a slimy frog, too. They may be the same species now, but can these opposites attract? The frog pair must seek a cure from a voodoo priestess (Jenifer Lewis) while avoiding redneck hunters and predatory gators (one voiced by chef Emeril Lagasse). They pick up some sidekicks-a trumpet-playing cream puff of an alligator (Michael-Leon Wooley, mildly funny) and a lovelorn Cajun firefly (Jim Cummings, surprisingly charming through rotting teeth and stereotypical accent). But this slow sojourn in the swamp bogs down the film. What jumpstarts this Frog is what Disney does better than anyone: whimsical, over-the-top, eye-popping production numbers. Singer and composer Randy Newman’s upbeat jazz, zydeco and gospel tunes are varied but unremarkable. Still, you won’t forget Facilier singing “Friends on the Other Side” accompanied by DayGlo dancing voodoo masks (the creatures might scare only the youngest of viewers), or the two frogs rafting through the bayou amid swirling fireflies and blooming lilies. You can tell the film is written and directed by veterans John Musker and Ron Clements, who rescued Disney animation with
The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (let’s just politely ignore their most recent effort, 2002’s Treasure Planet). Another welcome whiff of the past: The movie isn’t crammed with potty humour or pop culture references that have nothing to do with the plot. OK, there’s a dog named-ready, Brando fans? – “STELLA!” but that’s about it. Disney and the subsidiary that overshadows it, Pixar, are still absorbed in computer-generated fare. But Pixar chief John Lasseter now watches over all Disney animation and says he’s committed to every format, be it paint or pixel. And for that we could kiss him. Reviewed by Sharon Hoffmann OLD DOGS Starring: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Conner Rayburn, Ella Bleu Travolta, Seth Green, Lori Loughlin, Sab Shimono, Matt Dillon. Directed by: Walt Becker. Rated: PG (mild vulgar language) 88 minutes 2 stars Technically there is only one old dog in Old Dogs – a 15-yearold Great Pyrenees-Shepherd mix – but even though director Walt Becker frequently cuts to close-ups of the canine grunting with befuddlement for reaction shots, the movie isn’t really about him. No, the title refers to the movie’s stars Robin Williams and John Travolta, who shot to superstardom in the 1970s, survived a series of career ups and downs over the next two decades and must now resort to starring in generic family comedies in which they play faint, PG-rated echoes of their former selves. To their credit, they do not coast through Old Dogs. As Dan (Williams) and Charlie (Travolta), lifelong buddies and confirmed
bachelors forced to learn the ropes of parenthood when Dan discovers he is the father of fraternal twins, the actors certainly give this feeble material their all. Travolta, playing the cooler, hipper one, swaggers and preens like an aged Tony Manero, still hitting on the ladies even after they mistake him for a grandfather with bladder-control problems. Williams, the more timid and insecure, is a romantic still pining for Vicki (Kelly Preston), the one-night stand he met on a whirlwind tear through South Beach seven years ago. Then Vicki reappears and informs him – through a series of contrivances too belaboured to believe – that he must take care of the children for the next two weeks. Her announcement leads to a series of episodes – a stint at summer camp, a trip to the zoo, even an interlude in Tokyo – meshed together to pass off as narrative. The script feels as if it had been plotted on graph paper, which is why the movie seems three times longer than its scant 88 minutes. Williams and Travolta are surrounded by famous faces in cameos or supporting roles. Seth Green, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, AnnMargret, Luis Guzman, Dax Shephard, Amy Sedaris, Rita Wilson and the late Bernie Mac (in his final screen appearance) all contribute to Dan’s gradual realization that he’s a family man at heart. His route to that conclusion is more than a little laborious, and if you replaced the famous names with lesser-known stars, Old Dogs wouldn’t seem at all out of place airing on the Disney Channel. But at least the movie pokes fun at the advanced ages of its stars, such as a funny sequence in which they accidentally take each other’s daily prescription pills and suffer the side effects. Anyone who grew up watching Grease and Mork & Mindy might feel a sad twinge as Williams and Travolta deal with blood-pressure medication issues or complain about stiff joints and cracked backs. But that nostalgia is part of the modest charm of this disposable but inoffensive picture. Old Dogs makes old dogs out of all of us. Reviewed by Rene Rodriguez INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010 95
see life / LAST WORD
Maximize bonding during the holidays Josh Noel’s school break survival tips The holidays are here again, which means another year of the family congregating from far and wide to ... sit in front of the TV for sport and Disney movies? Sounds like a lot of effort for a small payoff. At least family consultant Julie Buck thinks so. Buck, who specializes in communication within the home, acknowledged there is plenty of stress around the holidays but said a little planning can maximize that family time. “It does take some forethought, but I think it’s well worth the extra effort,” she said. “The holidays are all about bonding, learning about each other and spending quality time.” With Buck’s guidance, we assembled tips to get the most out of the inevitable family time this holiday season. Compromise. For instance, if some want to watch sport but others don’t want it to dominate the room, leave the game on, but turn down the sound. Fire up some music. The sports fans will get their fix, but others can enjoy too, while playing games or just chatting. “A high level of compromise and flexibility is necessary,” Buck said. “With the older (children) in the family, especially, you might meet some resistance on certain things.” 96 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM January 2010
Games. Whether board games, word games or puzzles, they stimulate interaction. Better still, make up your own games. One colleague’s niece invented a competency test to judge how adept the adults were with the remote control, grading them on a scale of 1 to 4. Bottom line: Have fun with it. “Things that involve a broad age range are a lot more fun,” Buck said. “Anything that is fun and funny and involves the group.” Go outside ... together. Don’t use the outdoors to banish the kids and get some quiet. Build time into the day to take a walk together, play sport, go to the beach. Cook together. Getting the meal on the table is often a harried mission, but getting going early enough can make it fun. Buck suggests getting kids involved to help to stir, pour and mix. “You can teach a whole bunch of skills from math to language to family tradition,” she said. Get creative. Does someone play guitar? Do an art project. Sing songs. Or spend half the day volunteering as a family. Don’t take it for granted. You never know what the next year will bring. So enjoy it.