freshk >> loo
Did his song lyrics come back to bite him?
MARK STEYN First, they came for Piglet...
FIAT’S HOT WHEELS The new 500 is coming, and it sizzles
INVESTIGATE March 2008: Princess Diana • The Dragonfly • John Lennon • The Antiquarians Issue 86
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Contents 24 42
24 Who Killed Diana?
He’s a New Zealand author whose new book on the death of Diana is attracting some high level attention worldwide. Now, in an exclusive report for Investigate, JOHN MORGAN analyses the Diana inquest taking place in London and picks some major holes in its methodology
32 Mountain Mystery
A haunting object in a Google Earth photo of New Zealand’s Southern Alps set a Napier pilot on the trail of a 46 year old mystery - the disappearance of a vintage airliner in an area known as New Zealand’s Bermuda Triangle. GAVIN GRIMMER has the story
42 The Antiquarians
They’re one of the oldest scientific organisations in the world, and they’re coming downunder. SELWYN PARKER has the fascinating story of The Antiquarians
48 Is John Lennon in Hell?
You can’t put it more bluntly than that, and now con56 troversial theologian ROLLAN MCCLEARY argues that a group of young Christians who experienced a vision of the former Beatle in Hell may be bringing an important message
ALSO ON THE COVER: 60 Targeting Parents 62 Climate Hoax 54
Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point
Volume 8, issue 86, ISSN 1175-1290
The roar of the crowd
16 Simply Devine Miranda Devine on the
hounding of Tom Cruise
18 Straight Talk
Mark Steyn laments Piglet
20 Eyes Right
Richard Prosser on boot camp
22 Line 1
Chris Carter’s State of the Nation
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft NZ EDITION Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Design & Layout
Lifestyle 58 Money
Peter Hensley on the year ahead
Amy Brooke on targeting parents
The polar bears are safe
Projectors are the way to go
Chris Forster on tennis
Claire Morrow on men’s health
Julie Deardorff on first aid
74 Travel Easter Island
James Morrow on yabbies
Fiat’s new 500, and Discovery 2
The latest and greatest
Michael Morrissey’s summer picks
Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302188, North Harbour North Shore 0751, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft Advertising email@example.com Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983 SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: www.investigatemagazine.com By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 NZ 09 373 3676 By Post: To the PO Box NZ Edition: $72 Au Edition: A$96 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax. Investigate magazine Australasia is published by HATM Magazines Ltd
Chris Philpott’s CD reviews
The Bucket List, 27 Dresses
Worth a squizz
Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic
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ANGKOK, Thailand – Bangkok is a city filled with all kinds of engaging people; the challenge – as you may have heard – is getting to them. Though I found Ben with no problem. On Saturday morning, I walked out of my hotel at the end of Soi 2 to Sukhumvit Road, where I headed west – the tall Skytrain track looming suggestively above my left shoulder – to Soi 12, where I had been told to look for Crepes & Co. on the opposite side of the street from Cabbages & Condoms. Like many of the people I meet, Ben was a FOAF (friend of a friend), accompanied by a few friends: two American expats and a handsome young Thai. The Americans were working in government, law, computers; enjoying life, for the most part, in a steamy, overgrown metropolis packed with pleasant, decorous people. Though, they all admitted wearily, they were frequently asked to sing “Hotel California” (especially Ben, who hailed from San Francisco). And there was no good Mexican food around. Which, for a city with a large foreign population, in a country that also eats fire, was a little surprising. But there were a number of other distractions for farangs (foreigners). “I know somebody who works for the U.S. Embassy,” John said. “One of her jobs is to send home the bodies of Americans who die here. There is a high suicide rate in the expat community. And she told me that when she goes to the home she always finds three things: a large stash of cash, drugs and sexual paraphernalia.” Late for the movie, I grabbed a taxi, a big mistake. Unable to make a right on Sukhumvit Road, the driver headed east, then south, making a long, circuitous loop on a car-clogged Saturday night. Five minutes before show time, he dropped me off in front of the Emporium. A glittering mall, it rose up instead of spreading out. The cineplex, of course, was on the top floor. Escalators carried me in air-conditioned splendor to a maze of food islands and indoor cafes through which I hurriedly worked my way to the ticket counter. There, a young woman handed me my ticket and then brought her hands together under her chin and bowed. The uniformed young man who checked my ticket did the same. I had never been so respectfully ushered into a movie. This gesture, known as a wei, would have seemed out-of-place had the ticket been for, say, “Shallow Hal.” But I was going to see a Thai film, “The Overture,”
about a village boy who grows up to be a master of the ranad, or bamboo xylophone, playing it even during World War II when traditional Thai arts were actively discouraged by a regime bent on modernization. It was a beautifully told story that made an eloquent statement about the role of national culture in perpetuating national identity. Before the movie began everyone in the theater stood, as they do before all movies, even “Shallow Hal,” while the national anthem played and the screen filled with a photo montage of the beloved king. The taxi Sunday morning had it easy, gliding unobstructed down Sathorn Nua Road to Christ Church. Attending Holy Communion in an Asian capital gives you a whole new perspective. The interior featured wooden chairs with armrests instead of pews, and there were no kneelers, or even cushions for kneeling. The clear Gothic windows on the south side looked out on clumps of palms, bringing to mind a phrase coined by the writer Pico Iyer: tropical classical. The Anglican service, conducted by an Australian priest, was very informal, even the baptism of the triplets: Chawin, Chawit, Chawisa. (To me, the names sounded less like a family than a conjugation.) Afterwards, everyone repaired to the parish hall where tables had been pushed together for a tropical classical feast: bowls of calamari salad and curried chicken sat brilliantly next to square pans of macaroni and cheese. “Do you always eat like this after the service?” I asked a woman. “We always have lunch,” she said. “But usually something simpler. Today’s special because of the baptism.” Most of the parishioners were Anglo expats, a few with Thai spouses (predominantly wives). I asked a Canadian consultant how he liked living in Bangkok. “There are constant assaults on your conscience,” Dave said thoughtfully. “The way the disadvantaged are treated, the great gap between rich and poor. There are no retirement funds, no social welfare, no safety net. For farangs, of course, things were different. “Thais are gracious, accepting,” Dave said, “up to a point. They smile. They give the wei. It shows respect, deference to your position. I have a hard time with that at work. You and I don’t do that; we see each other as equals. Why can’t they come up to me and tell me what they think? But INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 79
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> focal point
Editorial The hijack
his month’s attempted hijacking of an Air New Zealand The truly determined will never be nipped in the bud by catchcommuter flight has thrown my colleagues in the daily news all regulations designed more to make travelers feel safe than actumedia into a tailspin over security. In the days that followed ally be safe. we were regaled with images of a TV reporter smuggling a Nobody will really be any safer if all commuter aircraft passenflashlight onto a small plane, or Sunday News reporter Jonathan gers are screened for Glocks, machetes and gung-ho journalistas Marshall going the whole hog with a knife and an imitation gun. looking to make names for themselves. All of this, whilst illustrative, is nothing new. The decision was Heck, as of 2008, we still don’t have a functioning border control made very publicly back in the wake of 9/11 that small flights would alert system capable of telling us whether known al Qa’ida terrornot suffer the same security restrictions as jetliners do. The reason- ists have boarded the plane you are on. As Investigate revealed last ing was simple, and remains sound today. year, although the Government put the anti-terror laws in place, Firstly, the big fear back then was not of hijacking per se, which nothing has been done to actually put them into action. has always been a risk, but of suicide hijackers prepared to use the As a result, people with known terror connections have indeed aircraft as a guided missile. Clearly there’s a huge difference between been waltzing in and out of New Zealand at will. a 19-seat Beechcraft hitting a skyscraper, and a Boeing 757 fully In the meantime, your 86 year old granny gets caught taking laden with jetfuel. her false teeth on board a flight from Auckland to Wellington In assessing security risks, Transport Minister Annette King must because the teeth are immersed in more than 100mls of liquid. The take into account the cost/benefit ratios. Is the cost and incon- fact that your granny gets to sit next to Osama bin Laden is byvenience of screening every the-by. For all we know, bin passenger and every piece of Laden is probably alive and Heck, as of 2008, we still don’t luggage on every tinpot flight, well and directing his worldreally worth it in terms of wide terror empire from the have a functioning border control averting risk? comfort of a luxury lodge in Obviously the victims of a Queenstown. alert system capable of telling us potential hijacking might say None of which is to dimin‘yes’, but you can probably ish the good job that our borwhether known al Qa’ida terrorists der control officers do with chalk that down to post traumatic stress disorder. In truth, the resources to hand, but have boarded the plane you are on a terrorist organization with a even they realize that there real mission has far juicier and is no such thing as “failsafe” easier targets than an Air New Zealand link flight. when it comes to security. For example, a crowded bus at rush-hour offers more scope for Let’s take the hijacking attempt as it was intended – the desperate carnage than a small aircraft with nine people on board. Or if you act of a tragic figure of the kind that is largely unavoidable. These are really wedded to the whole aircraft thing, surely hiring a light things sometimes happen. We don’t need to go to pieces over it. plane privately and packing it full of explosives is an easier way of doing things than taking your chances with a Link flight? Whilst Investigate has been at the forefront in the NZ media of covering potential terror threats, we have not been panic merchants. Our stories have been carefully researched, the threat analysed, and intelligent readers have been able to judge for themselves what the risks are. Even the security put in place since 9/11 is not foolproof. It keeps cattle-class in line, but honestly – if you wanted to you could purchase a couple of bottles of duty free liquor, smash them in-flight, and wreak havoc on a jumbo jet, having passed through all the xray machines with flying colours!
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
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> vox populi
Communiques The roar of the crowd
SUNDOWN, YOU’D BETTER TAKE CARE… Good to see your article about Vitamin D3, especially given a similar airing in the NZ Listener at the same time. I would like to share some of my own observations which have come from my personal experience. Briefly, they have come about following a motor cycle accident some years ago which, in hindsight, probably gave rise to a “Disuse Osteopenia”, a mild osteoporosis. A subsequent heavy fall on an ice slope while skiing brought a broken hip, and this condition, to light. None of my carers had, initially, mumbled anything about bone health, bone care, calcium, sunlight and Vitamin D. Consequently, I have enjoyed a very steep learning curve, a summary of which would be: 1. Two thirds of New Zealanders are probably Vitamin D deficient. 2. Anyone residing at a latitude above 30 degrees is at risk unless perhaps a Lifeguard. We may have a Vitamin D Winter for as long as 4 to 5 months of the year. Midday is the time of peak UVB radiation and it drops off quickly past 3 pm 3. It is VERY difficult to obtain adequate doses from sunlight, UNLESS you: a. believe the many who think about 400 to 1000IU’s per day is adequate b. believe that sunshine on face and arms [10% exposure] is adequate c. are very young and pale d. believe what you read/hear from the processing industry. The standard 15 minutes per day is pretty meaningless in this context. Your article notes the increasing need for Vitamin D with age. A 60 year old person who is not pale, needs about THREE times the exposure of a 20 year old person. A 10% [of body] exposure will do little for most, given the climate we enjoy, at least in the North Island of NZ. I know as I have gone to the trouble to utilize a UVB meter. It is quickly obvious, that 50% exposure of the body is closer to our needs, especially given that the mere wisp of cloud will drop the UVB index by half. We do need to rely on food sources. How many of us eat liver once a week? How many of us consume Cod Liver Oil? There is another problem; most of the sources of Cod Liver Oil [COL] have synthetic Vitamin D in them. Once again the food industry is looking, not to the health of its consumers, rather to its profits. There ARE good sources about, one just has to go to some trou INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
ble to find them. And they will cost. I have gone to considerable time and effort to raise my blood levels to a respectable figure. The normal range is 50 to 150 nm/L With my heavy reliance on the best of COL, and liver [organic] when I can get it, plus sunshine at every opportunity [upper body exposure front and back], my levels have only slowly climbed from 78 to less than 110. I have been taking COL of about 4000IU’s per day, given my 60+ years. A naturopath/medical colleague takes up to 6000IU’s per day and doesn’t bother having blood levels tested. It appears very difficult, at least for him, to overdose. His source, like mine, is of natural not synthetic Vitamin D. As a conclusion let me say, be very cautious and careful in believing what you read and hear, unless you can acquire some personal and corroborating evidence before making personal decisions for yourself. As John Connell of the Vitamin D Newsletter noted, probably with some seriousness, if consulting your GP, don’t take him too seriously if he cannot spell “cholecalciferol”. For an in-depth read about this fascinating and under-valued topic, try the Weston A. Price Foundation, online. Dr Neil G Hilford, Whangarei
MEDICAL STUDY AUTHOR WRITES Enjoyed reading your article on vitamin D. Just to point out you probably should have interviewed Robert Scragg at Auckland University as he is one of the world’s leading vitamin D researchers. There are some of us trying to fly the vitamin D flag but it is difficult. Jim Bartley, Auckland Editor responds:
Jim Bartley, an Otolaryngologist at Auckland City Hospital, is the coauthor with Robert Scragg of a paper published in the New Zealand Medical Journal last September on Vitamin D which noted: “At the moment, non-government organisations, such as the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the Health Sponsorship Council, are driving the development of policy on sun exposure, vitamin D, and health, but with the focus firmly on (avoiding) sun exposure. “As Livesey and colleagues discuss, a second strategy – increasing vitamin D supplementation – needs to be considered in New Zealand since vitamin D synthesis from the sun during winter for people in Christchurch is estimated to be only 60 IU per day. “However, a third strategy also needs to be thrown into the mix – mandatory vitamin D fortification (currently it is optional) of certain
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
foods such as margarine and milk products, which already happens in several countries, including the US, UK, and Australia. “As research continues to emerge, the Ministry of Health soon will need to engage on the broad issue of vitamin D and health, and take ownership of it.” After listening to a Cancer Society spokesman being interviewed by National Radio in the wake of our story, I’m not convinced the Cancer Society or the Ministry of Health are capable of doing the necessary about-face on this. The Cancer Society, for example said people probably only need five minutes of sun on face and hands, which is a far cry from what the international studies are showing or Dr Hilford’s comments above. I also have a problem with the Cancer Society’s major conflict of interest – it makes a massive amount of profit from selling sunscreen products (one of which, incidentally, was found not to work) on the back of their hype about skin cancer.
I am writing to you to applaud your use of fact, rational argument, frank discussion and honesty in your reporting of the sunlight ‘debate’ in the most recent LABOUR issue of Investigate. It’s duck season for Trevor fresh >> PRISON Mallard over a favour For 6 years I have worked in new look the indoor tanning industry (sunbeds, tanning booths etc) – an industry which I ventured into as purely a money making venture. Over the years, I have been forced to learn as much about sunlight as I possibly can in order to defend Sunlight key to myself and my business against reducing heart sometimes insane attacks from disease, cancer the mainstream media and my Two new studies turn peers. Nowadays, I am incredmedicine upside down ibly thankful that I ended up in this industry as I have learned so much about sunlight, Vitamin The Jiminy Cricket D and the harmful effects (and of NZ politics sounds a summer warning carcinogenic agents included for the year ahead in) sunscreens. I have recently found myself becoming more and more passionate about this He’s a major in the US topic and the attitude of the Army, a blogger for a average Kiwi towards sunlight US newspaper, and it’s the biggest frustrates the living daylights story of his life out of me (excuse the pun!). Apparently, sunbeds are killing machines and the sun is the single most dangerous thing that humans have ever faced……umm didn’t the entire human race thrive, multiply and become the most dominant species on the planet whilst running around all day naked in the continually powerful equatorial sun? This fact seems to disappear along with common sense as soon as the word melanoma falls off someone’s tongue. It stuns me that the mainstream media have not ever reported the fact that melanoma incidence has only increased since the widespread use of sunscreens! Indeed as your article mentions, the road toll is significantly higher than mortality of melanoma in NZ – thankfully your artiFebruary 2008:
The Vitamin D
Vitamin D bombshell • Mike Moore • Trevor Mallard • A Soldier’s War
A Soldier’s War
10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
cle has put some perspective into the equation. Not to mention that thousands of cancers could be prevented every year if people just got a bit more sun. Most of what your article mentions are facts and opinions that I have been spouting out for years now (to the few disinterested and narrow minded, brainwashed folk that are unfortunate enough to be forced to listen to me rant on) and it is refreshing to see know that there is at least one other person in this country who can see reason. I particularly enjoyed for the first time reading that somebody else in this country realises that the Cancer Society is indeed a huge money making machine, raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars a year from sales of its sun ‘care’ range. In what other country can a not for profit organisation make profit from selling products that it successfully frightens people into using through use of biased misinformation about a supposed health ‘epidemic’ that affects much fewer people each year than idiots on the road? Interesting also to see that you have reported the NZ Cancer Society’s poor use of ‘fact’ when stating that the mortality of melanoma is amongst the highest in the world (when in fact it is the opposite) – it seems that GRUDGE MATCH SPANISH EYES the Cancer Society has its own Deans vs Henry – the Lazy afternoon siestas, >> ultimate local derby olive groves, vineyards... set of rules. Anyway, I am not a conspiracy theorist – merely a normal, hard working kiwi guy who is sick of seeing the average New Zealander brain washed and made afraid of such a miraculous and life giving object as the sun. Name and address supplied, via email
OPEN LETTER TO POLICE MINISTER I refer to the enclosed Investigate magazine article. Taking the article at face value, then allowing for some literary/editorial license, the incident referred to would seem to indicate a third world, corrupt, and incompetent Police Force is at large in New Zealand. I am assuming that you have $7.99 February 2008 initiated an inquiry into the incident. It is unimaginable that you would allow your officers to be slated to the extent of “imbeciles” without investigating the circumstances. I would equally expect that that officers involved would be “disciplined/retrained” should your investigation support the basic premise of the article. Assuming that the article is mostly accurate, the actions of your officers would be considered by most New Zealanders to be little short of ignorant and arrogant. The problem here is that New Zealanders, by and large, depend upon the integrity of the Police Force, and they expect that ordinary New Zealanders going about their lawful business would enjoy the protection of the law. In this particular instance, officers who should have known better, that is, officers who should have
[ IN TOUCH ]
THE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
Wellington: The Embassy, 13-21 February Auckland: Rialto Newmarket, 20-28 February Christchurch: Rialto Christchurch, 26 February – 2 March If immersing yourself in le français for a couple of hours takes your fancy, the French Film Festival in the three main centres should give you plenty of enjoyment. Seventeen movies, including Claude Miller’s acclaimed A Secret – which has garnered 11 nominations in the French equivalent of the Oscars – are being showcased. Details can be found online at www. frenchfilmfestival.co.nz
DUNEDIN’S STAR ATTRACTION
Otago Museum With over 50,000 people visiting the Otago Museum’s new Tropical Forest in little over 2 months there is no doubt it is the hottest place in Dunedin! And at 28 degrees every day inside the Tropical Forest, this southern city is now guaranteed an eternal summer. Drawn in by the unusual opportunity to be immersed in a lush, living tropical rainforest, visitors have been quick to respond to this outstanding new addition to the Otago Museum which opened in November. The chance to come face to face with around 1,000 living tropical butterflies has been irresistible and the Tropical Forest is the country’s newest ‘must see’ attraction. The Museum’s Tropical Forest is the only three level live butterfly experience in Australasia. Visitors experience the hot and steamy rainforest from above, through the centre (via a unique glass swing bridge) and at
understood the liquor laws applying in Whangamata at the time, failed miserably to conduct themselves in a manner acceptable to ordinary New Zealanders, let alone the unfortunate victims of their arrogant behaviour. This is yet one more example of a sinister shift in policing practices where the rights of ordinary New Zealanders (as opposed to the criminal fraternity) are trampled underfoot through arrogance. (I’m sure that most New Zealanders would prefer that your officers are spending their time and resources in intelligence gathering and apprehending criminals, rather than harassing law abiding citizens. I hope that you have written to the individuals concerned, and apologised for the actions of your officers.
the forest floor, encountering an amazing array of flora and fauna at all levels within. A stunning 6metre waterfall adds to the atmosphere and to the humidity which sits at around 80% for the residents’ comfort. And all around the truly enchanting butterflies roam free regularly stopping on visitors to say hello! Details at www.otagomuseum.govt.nz
NZ visit Some of you may remember the 1990s movie Fly Away Home starring a young Anna Paquin as the girl who helps her microlight pilot father lead a flock of geese to safety. That pilot is Canadian William Lishman, now better known as “Father Goose”, and he’s visting New Zealand in March in support of the charity Air First Aid. “Bill was the founder of an organization called Operation Migration,” says spokesman David Faro, “and for almost a decade the organization has helped to re-establish the migratory path of Whooping Cranes by leading the birds across the North American continent each autumn. Operation Migration’s efforts have literally brought the birds back from the edge of extinction and are recognized all over the world as an example of wildlife preservation partnered with innovation and excitement. “In the last year Bill has turned his attention to another application of ultralight aviation; a humanitarian effort that he calls Air First Aid. Bill’s idea is to use a specially designed ultralight aircraft to deliver cargo in the immediate days following a natural disaster; the idea can be explored in detail by visiting our website, www.airfirstaid.com.” The website carries details of his New Zealand visit.
To my mind, the article raises a series of questions: 1. Given that the action taken against the “victims” was carried out by more than one officer, and therefore the defense of an individual officer not understanding the bylaw cannot be used, was the action a matter of policy? 2. Are officers not trained to apprise themselves of particular bylaws when embarking on a particular operation? 3. Should not the officer in charge of the operation have reviewed the charges brought and given appropriate advice to the officers involved? (Where was the leadership?) 4. Why were your officers using threats, veiled or otherwise? INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 11
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(“And if you don’t cooperate, I will charge you with obstruction as well.”) 5. Why were the “victims” restrained in their vehicle in the heat? That surely is well outside the rules! 6. Why the blackmail of the alternative “punishment”? He was either guilty of a criminal offence (otherwise the officers had no jurisdiction) or he wasn’t: when did punishment without trial for the supposed commission of an offence become the province of the Police rather than the Courts? 7. Finally, was his alcohol returned? We all understand that policing in New Zealand has shifted from the maintenance of law and order to the politics of crime; that is, let’s police according to what the politicians of the day require rather than protecting society against those who choose to act against ordinary New Zealanders. Having learned that “zero tolerance” curbs behaviours that otherwise escalate to serious crime, the policy of continuing to ignore vandalism (tagging, etc), burglary, and theft has resulted in what we see today in 2008 – serious violence and murders as a regular occurrence. Incidents such as the issue highlighted in the Investigate article simply reinforce the view of law-abiding, middle New Zealanders: New Zealand law is of lawyers, by lawyers, for lawyers and criminals; it has little to do with the protection of the citizenry at large. I look forward to your response to my comments. Rick Thame, Middle New Zealander
THE HIJACK When a 33-year-old passenger, Asha Ali Abdille, allegedly attacked the two pilots with a knife, then threatened to blow the plane up, she may have instead blown up notions that smaller airports like Blenheim do not need to conduct security checks on their passengers. However this Somalian immigrant has been well known to police for years and Winston Peters even mentioned her convictions of violence in parliament. If she had been deported at the first sign of trouble New Zealand would not have had its first hijacking attempt. New Zealanders then would still not require security checks on smaller aircraft but now we probably will because of government inaction. How many other criminal immigrants have been allowed into this country, the last newsworthy one was an Australian HIV sufferer allowed to enter NZ while on bail and may have infected numerous sexual partners while in New Zealand. Come on NZ! Harden Up! Gavin Simon, Christchurch
HOOT OWLS, MORE LIKELY I’ve just thought of a new name for this MMP government. It should be named after the New Zealand Native Owl. A nocturnal bird that says “morepork, morepork”. For those who don’t follow American politics “pork” is the term for wasteful, politically driven government expenditure. Some commentators think that the ruru will be the permanent symbol for whoever holds the government benches. After the next election the smaller parties will stand around saying “more pork more pork” and whichever bigger party promises the most will get the baubles of office. Will the electorate prove them wrong? Malcolm Jackson, via email
HYPOCRITES We condemn fascist totalitarian governments like Iran for imprisoning protesters. We now have the spectre of Kiwi political prison-
ers under new censorship laws as our government moves to crush opposition (and we elected them!) We must be concerned about many changes during the past eight years of government. A serious upsurge of crime, particularly youth crime. Courts are unable to cope with the proliferation of new cases. Punishments have become so lenient they are no longer a deterrent. Murders are commonplace. People are moving out from our new ghettos. Ignoring 80% public opposition they now prosecute good parents for disciplining their kids when they needed it. With arguably the highest tax rates in the western world our money is being embezzled, defrauding Kiwis of billions of dollars… (add PAYE + GST to get your total) The government is sitting on a ten billion dollar surplus. Watch for the handouts, of our own money, to bribe us this year. Then there’s the Kyoto fiasco costing us billions more. No wonder Kiwis are leaving the country by the thousands. Our leaders grant themselves huge salary raises, congratulating themselves as they lie to us with propaganda that all is well! All is NOT well. NZ is sinking into deep trouble. We only get one chance in 3 years to turn it around. We MUST act – to save NZ for future generations. Dennis Shuker, Hibiscus Coast
VIRTUES? Once upon a time we were taught that there were things called “Virtues”. They never changed and were properly regarded as eternal. Ranged against them, and ever ready to undermine and destroy them, were things called “Vices”, the product of Evil. To avoid this inconvenient truth the secular world has come more and more to use the cover-all word “Values”. We now hear about society’s values, Western values and even, Lord help us, Christian values. Societies and individuals place values on things, ideas and ways of life according to taste. They are subject to change and have nothing to do with eternal verities. It is therefore acceptable as well as politically correct to call a gang member’s vices values – their values. Again, once upon a time, we were taught that there was a thing called “Self-respect” – a feeling that one was doing the right thing and behaving with honour. That concept is too hard for modern Westerners to take, so the expression “Self-esteem” has been substituted. It’s easier to have a good opinion of oneself than to strive to act honourably. I have no doubt that the most vicious criminals have the highest opinions of themselves and, conversely, the lowest opinions of their victims. Bruce Farland, via email
VICE SEEKING VIRTUE My special holiday reading for flight to Los Angeles/Cancun resulted in my Divinity Code being nicked in Mexico in a “safe” luggage room (it was the only thing taken at Chichinitza) - hope someone there really appreciates it. Thought you might like to know how far it has travelled. Hope too, your special is still on offer as I had not finished reading it! Gay M, Mexico
ANOTHER SATISFIED EVE’S BITE READER
I received your book Eve’s Bite for Christmas, after hearing about it from my hairdresser and I’d just like to say that I LOVE it! In this secular world it can seem that we’re being naive, not believing in evolution and Darwinism in general, but your book opened INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 13
up a whole new world for me! I didn’t know all this information existed, I’d never even heard the phrase “intelligent design” prior to opening up Eve’s Bite. I can’t believe the rubbish we’ve been forcefed for decades by the government, and would like to thank you for providing an alternative to brain-washing. I’m sure many people disagree, but I’ve noticed from internet reviews that they have very few things to point out as incorrect, besides personal opinion. I really enjoyed your chapters on abortion, as I have been against it forever and it’s great to see so much evidence against it, like the foetus isn’t just a clump of cells. So many people are “pro-choice” which is just selfish, if they’re so for choice, how come the child doesn’t get to choose? Your book has inspired me to take a stand for things I am passionate about, so thanks heaps! Jessie Wheeler (17 years old), via email
AND ANOTHER I have been a reader of your magazine for a year or two, and I have just read your two books Eve`s Bite and The Divinity Code. I wish to congratulate you for having the courage to write these two books which I believe should be read by every thinking New Zealander. The shocking revelations about Darwinism, Marxism, Eugenics, and Islam are a wake-up call for all of us in the West who value Christianity, Democracy, and the freedom of the individual which seems to be under severe threat at this very moment , as all true believers in the Christian Gospel await the soon coming of our Great Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who will emancipate the world from all of these false and dangerous ideologies. I feel I can speak on behalf of the members of the Bay of Plenty Men’s Choir, many of whom are reading these books at the moment and wish to encourage you all in your work of awaking us Kiwis to the threats all around us. We are a multidenominational choir singing inspirational music in our concerts, and seeking to spread the good news of the Gospel in song to hundreds of people year by year. While on the subject of music, may we congratulate Malvina Major for her beautiful rendition of “How Great Thou Art” at Sir Ed Hillary`s funeral. We believe the words to be true and I finish this note to you by quoting the first verse of this great hymn. O Lord My God, when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds thy Hands have made I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder The power throughout the universe displayed Then sings my soul My Saviour God to Thee How Great Thou art, How Great Thou Art Keith Bowen, Music Director, Bay of Plenty Men’s Choir, Tauranga
THE ABORTION TOLL Right to Life is concerned that 68 unborn babies with a gestational age of 21 weeks or more were terminated in 2006. The oldest reported child was 32 weeks gestation. The information was recently provided by the Abortion Supervisory Committee to Right to Life under the Official Information Act. A total of 44 of these children had a gestational age of 22 weeks or more. Many of these children if born alive could with proper medical care have survived. The Ministry of Health does not keep records of babies born alive from an abortion. A recent United Kingdom [UK] report has shown that babies who survive abortion attempts in the UK are often left to die. According to a government report there were 66 infants in one year that survived a National Health 14 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Service abortion. In Britain the report shows that once a child is condemned to death by abortion is born alive, no medical help is offered the child. On the contrary guidelines from the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists offered doctors the recommendation that babies over 22 weeks old who survive abortion be killed by lethal injection. Do the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists support this recommendation? An abortion may be authorised in New Zealand for a child 20 weeks and over to save the life of the mother or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health. It is unlawful to authorise an abortion after 20 weeks for foetal abnormality. The Abortion Supervisory Committee refused to disclose the reasons for these abortions. Information provided in previous years revealed that post 20 week abortions were overwhelmingly authorised on mental health grounds. It is acknowledged by the Committee that abortion certifying consultants are using mental health grounds to provide abortion on demand. Unborn children are endowed at conception by their creator with an inalienable right to life. These disturbing statistics raise several important questions; 1. Why are the lives of these babies being terminated? 2. How many babies are born alive following an abortion each year in New Zealand? 3. What action is taken in our Public Hospitals to provide medical care to save the life of a baby born alive following an abortion? Ken Orr, Spokesperson, Right to Life New Zealand Inc
THE IRRATIONAL ATHEIST There is a recent book attacking atheism to be released next week. I realise there have been a few in response to the recent atheist releases however this one seeks to take on the atheists on their own turf using reason and history and showing up their fallacies. From the reviews I have read it is an aggressive attack, though my copy is still in the mail. It is called the Irrational Atheist by author Vox Day (columnist). It is available at Amazon but the author plans to place free electronic copies on his website (voxday.blogspot.com) at the same time as the release which will likely be quicker than a hard copy from the US. I just thought it would make an interesting book for your magazine to review (or if the book is really good you could interview the author). Just a suggestion if you had not heard of it. Dion Astwood, Dunedin
DEFENCE OF THE REALM The excellent article on New Zealand’s Armed Services by Richard Prosser in February’s issue of Investigate is both timely and apposite. Our Defence Force really is a joke, a very costly and sick joke. Not long before Mark Burton relinquished the post of Minister of Defence, he boasted about the Millions of dollars Labour had “poured” into Defence. In reality, not one cent of that money was spent on hardware that could actually “defend” New Zealand against foreign aggression. The Army’s LAV III’s, as the U.S. Army have realised at last, are not a front line machine, their armour isn’t capable of protecting the crew and pax above 7.62mm ball (steel jacket, lead core), and small arms fire, and they are prone to roll over and get stuck in ditches. The NH 90 helicopters, being based at Ohakea, would be no match for the mach 2 SU-33 Sukhoi air-
craft that China is buying/manufacturing for their aircraft carriers, now under construction. Our “new look” Navy with its in-shore and off-shore patrol craft would be completely outclassed and “out gunned” by any of the 25 guided missile frigates that China is building. (Looks like it’s back to the drawing board, for the Navy’s latest acquisition, Canterbury, appears it may not be able to accomplish the tasks it was purchased for.) China has at present, 80 new major surface combatant vessels. They also have 15 submarines with 16 more under construction. We must not forget that most of our trade relies on shipping, and as happened during WW2, the UBoats, almost brought Britain to its knees by the sinking of so many ships carrying vital supplies to Britain. But hey, we are trading with China aren’t we? Yeah; we were also trading with Japan until 1940, and they were “on our side” during WW1, eh? Why can’t, or won’t, our “Leaders” accept the fact that the only method for an island state, such as we are, of stemming aggression by a foreign power, is by controlling its own air space, and for this we need strike aircraft, not puny ships and wheeled armoured cars. (We also need aircraft that can detect and “neutralize” Submarines.) The Battle of Britain was won by aircraft, not tanks or ships, the battle for Crete and Singapore was lost because of lack of air supremacy. An interesting adjunct, the Waitangi Treaty. As translated by Sir Apirana Ngata, “Article the Third of the Treaty, the crown, (Government), promises to protect all the people of New Zealand from invasion by a foreign power”. It must be remembered that at the time of the signing of the Treaty, one of the major fears of Maori was annexation by a foreign power, namely the French. As yet, since the treasonous act of Helen Clark and Mark Burton disbanding the strike wing of the R.N.Z.A.F., there have been no claims lodged
with the Waitangi Tribunal over the violation of Article the Third of the Treaty by the Government. This would suggest that Treaty claimants appear to be more motivated by short term pecuniary gain rather than long term security of tenure. A comment by Jeff Head, Engineering Consultant employed by the Federal Government and member of the U.S. Naval Institute, on China’s naval buildup. “Clearly the trend shows that the PLAN, (Peoples Liberation Army Navy), is rapidly closing the gap between itself and the US Navy, and particularly when focusing on the Western Pacific, which is where the PLAN is concentrated, this is a trend worthy of watching and considering in future US Navy and other western nation’s planning and acquisition schedules.” When will people wake up and realise we don’t live in a benign environment and there’s no free lunches. It may never happen, we haven’t got a crystal ball to be able to look into the future, but, like house insurance, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Freedom isn’t free. J. Sowry, Warkworth. PS I suspect other western nations, applies to us.
DROP US A LINE Letters to the editor can be posted to: PO Box 302188, North Harbour, North Shore 0751, or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 15
> simply devine
Mugged in print by bigots in righteous masks
t is a good idea to be suspicious any time the media pack and was conceived with the late Scientology founder’s frozen sperm. decides to gang up on someone – as they have done with Tom This has been denied and called “absurd” by the church. Cruise. Sure, he belongs to a religion, Scientology, that seems “In her most reflective moments Katie might have felt as if she pretty kooky on face value, but that is his right, as in any coun- were in … a real-life version of the horror movie Rosemary’s Baby, try that is supposed to respect freedom of religion. in which an unsuspecting young woman is impregnated with the He has done nothing to deserve the ridicule and character assassi- Devil’s child,” writes Morton. nation which has reached a climax with the publication this month It doesn’t get much dirtier than that. Except for all the stories just in America of Andrew Morton’s unauthorised biography. after Suri was born, that her parents kept her hidden from the media The premise of Morton’s book is that Cruise is a dangerous nut- for three months because she had a birth defect. Cruise is criticised ter in the grips of a psychotic cult, and old videos posted on the for being litigious, but what other way does he have to protect himinternet gossip site Gawker.com of Cruise addressing a Scientology self against the religious bigotry that has focused on him? convention and inarticulately trying to convey his passion for the No better example of the media losing all pretence of dispassion religion in a TV interview seem to have sealed the impression. came last year when the BBC reporter John Sweeney went ape while While Scientology certainly appears eccentric, with its talk of researching a Scientology documentary. Asked by a Scientologist why extra-terrestrials and “thetans”, so, too, does most New Age clap- he was giving critics of the religion an “easy time”, Sweeney began trap. Many traditional religions have oddball elements, strictly shouting insanely, as the YouTube video of the incident shows. speaking, and among the most Morton explains that bigoted and dogmatic people Sweeney was “harassed” until So why pick on Cruise, who around are atheists. he eventually “lost his cool But if Scientology makes and freaked out”. But Sweeney thinks he has found a belief system had been telling interviewees Cruise happy, and he doesn’t mind donating large chunks Scientology was a “brainwashto help him achieve success and of his fortune to the church, so ing cult”. He could hardly what? From what we have seen complain about getting some to protect him from the pitfalls of of Cruise, and the account pressure back. Morton gives of his life, there Even by Morton’s account, celebrity life? is much to admire about him. Cruise comes across as a He managed to overcome a decent person, and a devoted harsh peripatetic childhood, poverty and learning difficulties to father to the two children he adopted while married to Nicole become one of the most successful men in one of the most glam- Kidman. The couple’s decision not to explain their childlessness (at orous industries. least one ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage) led to widespread We might wish his money were spent differently, but isn’t it a stories he was gay and/or sterile and their marriage was a sham. bit rude to say so? At least it didn’t disappear up his nose, as is the He protected Kidman’s medical privacy at his own expense, which case with so many other movie stars. says something for him. Plenty of religious people are self-righteous. So are plenty of Morton also describes a series of events in which Cruise has non-religious people. So why pick on Cruise, who thinks he has played good samaritan – in 1996 he stopped to help a hit-andfound a belief system to help him achieve success and to protect run victim in California and paid her hospital bills; he rescued him from the pitfalls of celebrity life? two children being crushed in the crowd at a Mission: Impossible When you see how many stars who have died prematurely or movie premiere in London, he sent the tender from his yacht to gone ga-ga in the unrelenting spotlight of the internet age, you can help five people who had abandoned a sinking boat and he “conrespect those who try to maintain a relatively normal family life. soled a sobbing housewife” who had just been mugged near his The cruellest passages in Morton’s book refer to Cruise’s marriage house. While in New Zealand he stopped on a road to change the to Katie Holmes and their 21-month-old daughter, Suri. Morton flat tire of a stranded couple. claims some Scientologists believe their daughter is a “vessel for L.Ron What can we make from that? That he’s a nice guy, who doesn’t Hubbard’s spirit when he returned from his trip around the galaxy”, think he is above helping people he sees in distress. Why make it
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Even by Morton’s account, Cruise comes across as a decent person, and a devoted father to the two children he adopted while married to Nicole Kidman
weird? Morton tries to weave these good deeds into his book as an example of Cruise’s Scientology induced monomania. But if that’s what his religion makes him do, there should be more of it. Morton sums up Cruise as “dangerous … because he stands for something, extolling the virtues of a faith that is parodied and feared in equal measure”. If it is possible for a celebrity to be a health hazard, then far more “dangerous” than Cruise is a Paris Hilton or Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan – both to themselves and those legions of misguided little girls who are aping their slatternly vacuous lifestyles.
In his 2006 book Who Really Cares, a Syracuse University professor, Arthur Brooks, found that religious people donate more money and time than secular people to charity, as well as being more generous blood donors. It has been said that religion is the best way cultures have to regulate selfishness, so even the most irreligious should see the benefit even of a religion as eccentric as Scientology. You might not agree with Cruise’s religious views or even like his movies, but it’s hard not to realise he has been treated disgustingly. email@example.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 17
> straight talk
First they came for Piglet
y favorite headline of the year so far comes from The heard on the soundtrack: “This is where our brothers attacked the Daily Mail in Britain: “Government Renames Islamic Pentagon.” Terrorism As ‘Anti-Islamic Activity’ To Woo Muslims.” “Allahu Akbar,” responds young Ahmed. God is great. Her Majesty’s government is not alone in feeling it’s not How “anti-Islamic” an activity is that? Certainly, not all Muslims always helpful to link Islam and the, ah, various unpleasantnesses want to fly planes into the Pentagon. But those that do do it in with suicide bombers and whatnot. Even in his cowboy Crusader the name of their faith. And anyone minded to engage in an heyday, President Bush liked to cool down the crowd with a lot “anti-Islamic activity” will find quite a lot of support from leading of religion-of-peace stuff. But the British have now decided that Islamic scholars. Take, for example, the “moderate” imam Yusuf kind of mealy-mouthed “respect” is no longer sufficient. So, hence- al-Qaradawi, who once observed that “we will conquer Europe, we forth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will conquer America! Not through the sword, but through dawa” will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, – i.e., the non-incendiary form of Islamic outreach. Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days What could be more moderate than that? No wonder Mr. alago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Qaradawi is an associate of the Islamic Society of Boston, curIslamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audi- rently building the largest mosque in the northeast, and also a ence. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.” pal of the present mayor of London. The impeccably moderate Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of mullah was invited to address a British conference sponsored by people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a the police and the Department of Work and Pensions on “Our certain narrow-minded type of Children, Our Future.” And, person, give Islam a bad name, when it comes to the children, Any terrorism perpetrated by and thus could be said to be Imam Qaradawi certainly has “anti-Islamic” – in the same their future all mapped out. persons of an Islamic persuasion way that the Luftwaffe raining “Israelis might have nuclear down death and destruction bombs,” he said, “but we have will be designated “anti-Islamic on Londoners during the Blitz the children bomb and these was an “anti-German activity.” human bombs must continue activity” But I don’t recall even Neville until liberation.” As Maurice Chamberlain explaining, as if Chevalier used to say, thank to a five-year-old, that there is nothing German about the wish to heaven for little girls, they blow up in the most delightful way. terrorize and invade, and that this is entirely at odds with the core The British home secretary would respond that not all moderGerman values of sitting around eating huge sausages in beer gar- ate imams are as gung-ho to detonate moppets. Which is true. dens while wearing lederhosen. But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims Still, it should add a certain surreal quality to BBC news bulle- in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s govtins: “The Prime Minister today condemned the latest anti-Islamic ernment is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in activity as he picked through the rubble of Downing Street looking self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends for his 2008 Wahhabi Community Outreach Award. In a related is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if incident, the anti-Islamic activists who blew up Buckingham Palace you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter have unfortunately caused the postponement of the Queen’s annual and apologize to you. Ramadan banquet.” Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new verA few days ago, a pre-trial hearing in an Atlanta courtroom sion of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence made public for the first time a video made by two Georgia Tech in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises culstudents. Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee went to tural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian Washington and took footage of key buildings, and that “casing community” – i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians – Hindus and video” then wound up in the hands of Younis Tsouli, an al-Qaeda Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs. recruiter in London. As the film shot by the Georgia students This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was was played in court, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee’s voice could be a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks
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The disappearance of Piglet is, argues Steyn, the heffalump in the room that no one wants to talk about
on their desks representing Winnie-the If the Three Little Pigs are verboten when Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came Muslims do not yet comprise ten percent of for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, the British population, what else will be on the I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and blacklist by the time they’re, say, 20 percent? by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare tage,” she said, “will continue to fuel an insurgency that has been to an end. framed as a jihad.” As it happens, Canada did not send troops to Just for the record, it’s true that Muslims, like Jews, are not par- the Crusades, mainly because the fun was over several centuries tial to bacon and sausages. But the Koran has nothing to say about before Canada came in existence. Six years ago, it was mostly the cartoon pigs. Likewise, it is silent on the matter of whether one can enemy who took that line, Osama bin Laden raging at the Great name a teddy bear after Mohammed. What all these stories have Satan for the fall of Andalusia in 1492, which, with the best will in common is the excessive deference to Islam. If the Three Little in the world, it’s hard to blame on Halliburton. But since then, Pigs are verboten when Muslims do not yet comprise ten percent the pathologies of Islamism have proved surprisingly contagious of the British population, what else will be on the blacklist by the among western elites. time they’re, say, 20 percent? You remember the Three Little Pigs? One builds a house of straw, A couple of days later, Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green and another of sticks, and both get blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. party (the fourth-largest political party), spoke out against her coun- Western civilization is a mighty house of bricks, but who needs a Big try’s continued military contribution to the international force in Bad Wolf when the pig’s so eager to demolish it himself? Afghanistan. “More ISAF forces from a Christian/Crusader heri© Mark Steyn, 2008 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 19
> eyes right
Richard Prosser The lost generation
o, Australia is apologising to the people who have come Our high schools had prefects and canes, our qualifications and to be known as her “lost generation”; the Aboriginal people certificates had percentages and pass marks, our universities had who were removed from their families and communities as required standards of behaviour and academic achievement. We did children, from the late 1800s through to the late 1960s, and PE and swimming and ran the cross-country whether we liked it forcibly assimilated into white mainstream Australian culture. or not, and whether we were fat or spotty (read: image conscious), Sometime in the not-too-distant future, New Zealand will have or culturally sensitive or not, because those in authority, which was a similar apology to make; not to a generation of displaced indi- everyone who was older than us, knew that it was good for us. genes, but to an entire generation of young New Zealanders who We pushed the boundaries, but y’know, there were boundaries, have been lost to the ravages of the insanity known overseas as and when we went beyond them, it hurt, so we learned not to. And “the New Zealand Experiment” – Rogernomics, the Free Market, yes, there were always reprobates, but for the most part, kids didn’t Pacifism, Feminism, and Political Correctness. go around carrying knives and baseball bats, much less using them They are the generation who were born after mine; as a child of on complete strangers. 1967, I represent the last of this country’s children to experience And then the next generation came along, and the world changed all that which our successors have been denied. We had stabil- somehow; and somewhere in between, New Zealand went mad. ity and security, because we had boundaries. We faced challenge. People with curious theories, and potentially questionable motives, We know how to succeed, because we knew that there was such took hold of the Government and the economy; they sold off the big a thing as failure. Not everyone made the grade. Not everyone Government Department employers and broke up the Civil Service, was able to be top of the class. long a bastion of impartial staWe learned of consequence bility amidst the tumultuous This thing is broke. It needs and responsibility, of right seas of politics. They tipped and wrong, of duty, humiltens of thousands of gainfully fixing, and it is we who must fix it; employed New Zealanders out ity, and respect. We learned these things because they were of the likes of the Railways and we can, but doing so will be drummed into us, because the and the Ministry of Works, generation who came before and dumped them into the neither swift nor pleasant us, like the generations before dole queues. They occupied them, knew it to be of essenthe media and the education tial importance; and they took it as their primary responsibility to system, and abandoned the established convention of apolitical coninstill in us the same values, the same appreciation of social order, duct within these institutions. They cut the safety nets from under of personal accountability, of self-control. the farmers, while at the same time laying hammocks for uncountPerhaps most importantly, and most tragically for those who able single mothers – and by definition, allowing a generation of came after us, we had discipline, where they do not. single fathers to abrogate their responsibilities. They abolished the We had discipline instilled in us, physically where and when it apprentice schemes, took corporal punishment out of the schools was necessary, and through that mechanism, we learned to be dis- and replaced it with Peace Studies, turned their backs on our famciplined in ourselves. ily of Nations, emasculated the military, and opened the doors to We lived in a New Zealand which still had a sense of community, a flood of undesirable migrants from second-rate countries with where the entire village did raise the child, where anyone’s mum or deficient cultures. dad or auntie was everyone’s potential disciplinarian, where a dose In fact, as Rudyard Kipling put it in his chillingly prophetic poem of the strap at school for poking someone with a compass in class, The City of Brass, written 99 years ago, they tore up the foundaor a boot up the backside from the neighbour for nicking apples tions of a decent and civilised society which had been centuries from the tree in the front lawn, would earn the same rebuke from in the making; mum and dad when we got home, rather than, as now, an assault “Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them – charge against the meter of summary justice, accompanied by a The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and re-laid them subconscious assurance that we could do whatever we liked withAs playgrounds of pleasure and leisure with limitless entries, out fear of retribution. And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
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...not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist or a concert pianist or the captain of the All Blacks. There is such a thing as missing the grade
And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers, They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.” And we let them; and today, we live with the legacy of that ongoing folly. Children, a lost generation of New Zealand’s youth, who grew up in homes that never had fathers, and sat in classrooms which never had discipline, watched over by silly feminist teachers who never had respect for tradition, or personal responsibility, or the rule of law, have grown up into a generation of teenagers without boundaries, or the pride of achievement, or regard for themselves or anyone else. They are becoming a generation of young twentysomethings who stalk the suburbs with makeshift weapons, living and breathing the gang culture of an animal society from the other side of the world, feeding on hate and resentment, and breeding yet another generation of lost babies, this one born into the squalor of uneducated stupidity and moral devolution. This thing is broke. It needs fixing, and it is we who must fix it; and we can, but doing so will be neither swift nor pleasant. It requires the testicular fortitude to undo many of the mistakes of the past twenty-five years. Glossing over them will not be sufficient, and neither will the policy initiatives of the major political Parties, announced this week as I write. National’s approach has a sensible foundation, but it is weak and not far reaching enough; and as for the Labour Government’s policies…well, it’s that sort of thing which got us to where we are now, and it stretches credulity to propose that more of the same will get us out of it. Boot Camp for the undomesticated thugs who roam our streets may be one necessary response, but if we are to require the Army to be the ambulance at the bottom of society’s cliff, then we must be prepared to resource it adequately for the job, and not expect it to be ready until it has undone the damage wreaked on its structure, manpower, and espirit-de-corps through two decades of downsizing by successive foolish and pacifist Governments. Rebuilding the education system will be necessary as well, including the return of corporal punishment, however much the idea of tackling the issue makes the hand-wringers squirm. Since the pitiful morons who undid discipline in the schools appear to be completely lacking in the requisite brains or stomach to redo it, I
suppose we will have to take on the task for them; along with the re-establishment of the apprentice scheme, for those who simply don’t want to be doctors or lawyers or accountants. I mean we do actually need plumbers and welders and bricklayers as well, you know, because the Knowledge Economy is as much of a myth as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny or Global Warming. Try getting an IT Manager or a Graphic Designer to unblock your drains, or replace the pole fuse, or fix the broken stub axle on the hay baler, and you’ll see what I mean. We need to replace the utterly pointless and destructive NCEA with something meaningful again, and reintroduce kids to the reality that not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist or a concert pianist or the captain of the All Blacks. There is such a thing as missing the grade. And as for keeping young people in school until they’re 18 – honestly, Prime Minister, please do give up your day job. I suppose it’s our fault for letting you stay in it for so long, but really, what were we thinking? I mean after what cloth-eared, woolly-logic, brain-fog day did we decide that it was a good idea to let child-raising laws and educational policy be decided by someone who’s never had kids? Penning up teenagers who don’t want to be there, in classrooms for which they have no respect, with teachers who have no way of disciplining them, supposedly to learn about subjects which are of no interest or value to them, is meant to be a good idea….how, precisely? Perhaps most importantly, we must stem the tide of violence engulfing the lost generation by instilling in them a little immediate respect for the rights and property of others. Tagging is not street art. It’s vandalism. Fantasising about being a gangster is neither clever nor funny, and if not the Government, nor the Courts, nor the Police, are prepared to be the answer to the problem, then quite frankly, in this writer’s opinion, they abrogate any moral authority to dictate that vigilantism isn’t the answer either. Street gangs, knife murders, graffiti, robberies, beatings, and thuggery from unemployed and uneducated youth, are the legacy of a failed experiment in political correctness, carried out by deluded ideologues and supported by foolish liberals. This lost generation have to be saved, and quickly, because at the moment they are in no state to raise the next one. We can do this thing. All that is required is a little discipline. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 21
> line one
State of the Nation address
ust be an effect of the amazing summer we’ve all been back on the streets, unpunished in about 2% of the time that it enjoying, in that, over the last several weeks, I’ve been beset took to do the paper work!” with an inordinate number of random thoughts, that, for The next “event” occurred as we drove past a crowded Taxi Rank better or for worse I’ve decided to jot down. [A Psychologist around pub kick-out time. A beer bottle described a beautiful arc as should have a ball with these, but what the heck, here goes!] it was thrown by a big Island guy and smashed on the road about Early in 1992, still involved in the radio game and wanting to three or four metres in front of the patrol car. To my horror, bearget a bit of a handle on what was really happening out there in the ing in mind that the rank was pretty well jammed up with some streets; I went out on patrol with a Senior Sergeant mate of mine very large drunks, my mate nevertheless pulled straight up, was covering Auckland Inner City in a marked Police patrol car. It was out of the car and lining up the guy who’d thrown the bottle. I’ve a Friday night and a warm summer’s evening, and to me, turned got to say, I was well impressed with the sheer guts on display as out to be a real eye opener. By the early nineties political correct- the Senior Sergeant who was half the offender’s height and build ness and the “rights” of young people had come into full swing, as quickly prevailed on him to pick up all the glass and then to apolohad of course the ditching of the copper’s previous best friend, the gise profusely. Once again without an obvious offender having been Police Summary Offences Act (1928), having been replaced by a booked, we headed off back on patrol. Why was this Pratt not in 1981 version that by consensus, over a few beers in Central’s Police chains and under arrest? “If our cars out on shift tonight booked half bar, “has pretty much cut off our nuts and more or less lets young the offenders we see all the time, we’d have to double or treble the hoons do what they like”. A numbers of prisons and the shared Plod opinion that was same with the courts”...Over It appeared that policing had well borne out over this evethe next year, having been out ning’s patrol. with him and others on patrol First example, K Road early been reduced to effectively ignoring on many occasions, it was as evening. Stopped and spoke clear as it could be, the guys the young apprentice criminals, to around half a dozen young and girls in blue simply were gang members as they were doing their very best 24/7, to that is, until they become fully behaving pretty much like a keep a lid on crime without troop of orang-utans as they upsetting either their bosses, fledged monsters milled around, on purpose, or in turn, their political masmonstering the other folk tryters, by stuffing up the crime ing to use the footpath. “What do you guys think that you’re up statistics. It appeared that policing had been reduced to effectively to” quoth Plod, in tones that I felt were very reasonable. Three or ignoring the young apprentice criminals, that is, until they become four of them shuffled their feet, then one of the assembled yobbos fully fledged monsters. simply muttered “Why don’t you f*** off...we ain’t doing nothIncidentally the Coppers back then were hardened professioning’, why pick on us?” Anyway, the group never the less appeared als, street wise and very tough, though most of them “perfed” out to get the message and wandered off seemingly flagging away their in sheer frustration at not being allowed to do the job that they original offensive behaviour. Back in the patrol car I asked my cop- knew was wanted. These “old time coppers”, have been progressively per mate how he felt as a uniformed police officer, being told to replaced, with no disrespect intended, by a new breed of recruit, go forth and multiply by a little toe rag that quite plainly would perhaps more inclined to do what they’re told, rather than what have benefited enormously from a night in the cells. Like obscene I’m sure they know deep down, should really be done. language in a public place, plus their clear intention to cause trouThen I thought about the recent and very obvious upsurge in ble, surely constitutes Offensive Behaviour, so why not call up the crimes of violence, well, that is, to everyone perhaps with the wagon and have them all carted away to appear before the beak in exception of a certain dental nurse currently masquerading as our the morning? Well it appears things had changed a bit from when Minister of Police. Once again, all it took was a couple of decades I was a young kid because every copper now knows that it’d be him of taking the boot off the throats of young crims, (A Police expresthat would be getting bird for “wasting police time and in any case sion that I think is extraordinarily apt) so otherwise quite salvagethe Court in such offences just ushers them in the front door and able young people completely without fear of consequences any
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inclination either can’t or wouldn’t ever have kids, through to those who terrify the whole NZ population so keeping their own poor Fear...fear of the inevitable consequences of little kids in line would just be a doddle. Imagine as a kid having Sue Bradford even even minor wrongdoing just frown at you...talk about terrifying! But I digress. After years of leftist social engineering we now have hordes of young people more, simply degenerated into becoming full on thugs, and all too who are measurably illiterate, who, if they can ever land a job, proboften, into much much worse. Then I thought back to when I was ably couldn’t even count their wages. They’ve had their lives ruined by young, and the other youngsters that I associated with. Some of being treated as social lab rats by these dangerous people that we so the things we got up to I still won’t admit to, because despite what carelessly put into power. Is it really any wonder that we now are seeyou hear from some oldies, a lot of us kids were sure as hell about ing a steeply increasing number of young people who to put it quite as angelic as the feller who got tossed out of Heaven! Mind you no simply are now clearly engaged in a full on revolt, against a society one that I ever knew stole stuff, pinched cars, mugged people etc, that wickedly believes that a life on a benefit of some kind is all they although we were given to favourite pursuits like fighting and the deserve or should ever expect. like, which in fact was a sort of weird ritual way back then, where John Key in his recent address on youth crime, and the kids that after a real good punch up, win or lose, the protagonists invariably just aren’t likely to make it, had some reasonable plans to help turn became very best friends. around the lives of a very small percentage of these essential victims One thing however, was always at the forefront of our still develop- of our indifference, but as usual in NZ politics, we won’t end up ing brains, which simply revolved around the dreadful punishments going nearly far enough. We have to turn around several decades of that existed then for serious wrongdoing. Mind you here, perhaps, the dumbing down of education, so why not go as far as scrapping, we have to redefine the word wrongdoing as it applied in the fifties till the end of primary school, the teaching of anything other than and sixties. Be anything other than quiet, industrious and hard work- the three R’s? Aim for a totally literate bunch of eventual school ing at school, let alone shouting abuse at a teacher which was pretty leavers, even if they leave school early, then at least they will have much a near hanging offence, just play up and you were invariably the opportunity in later years to learn or study what they like! At whipped! Sure it was called caning but believe me it hurt like hell. the moment, as functional illiterates, many of these young people Made for a simple choice really, and I was a bit of a slow learner in can scarcely be blamed for beating up on those, who they quite this department. Behave yourself, and barring accidents or a real nasty reasonably blame, as being the people who sat back and abandoned bastard of a teacher, and then chances were that you’d make it to the them to a miserable existence. Time we woke up I reckon. end of the school year without any additional scar tissue on the bum. Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site. Similarly, another lesson was quickly learnt: Don’t give cheek to the local copper, who incidentally lived and worked our suburb for years and years and knew the whole lot of us kids, as opposed perhaps, to Stressless® living the shaven headed Ford Falcon abusers who tear up the street these – it’s all about comfort days completely unaware of what might be going on, or for that matter the posted speed limit. THE INNOVATORS OF COMFORT Anyway, most boys with any spirit will always try it on, test out the boundaries and all that sort of thing, which, with our local copper, unless you were a budding young sadomasochist, you only ever did once. For a really big guy he could sneak up behind you and kick your backside hard enough to nearly make your nose bleed. Worse, he would then tell your mum and dad, always the same day, what it was that he had caught you doing. End result? Group family conference be buggered, it was simply Mum and Dad’s turn eh? So what kept us from going off the rails? Fear...fear of the inevitable The taste of good company! consequences of even minor wrongdoing, which, I’m sure you will all agree, is, in these so called enlightened times, now completely missing. Indeed as we have recently seen, getting caught giving What would you your own kid a correctional clip around the ear will almost guarbe doing in yours? antee the modern parent a conviction or a police record. Instead, herds of invariably bearded or sandal-wearing and hand-wringing Government employees will “counsel” supposedly rotten kids NZ DISTRIBUTOR STRESSLESS STUDIOS until they meet the current Government’s agenda, which I suspect WHANGAREI Fabers Furnishings AUCKLAND Danske Møbler HAMILTON Danske Møbler TAURANGA Greerton Furnishings is to mould all the little girls into becoming blokes and the little ROTORUA Van Dykes TAUPO Danske Møbler Taupo GISBORNE Fenns Furniture NAPIER Danks Furnishers boys to play with dolls and develop an overwhelming desire to be NEW PLYMOUTH Cleggs Furniture Court WANGANUI Wanganui Furnishers a principal dancer in Swan Lake! MASTERTON Country Life Furniture WELLINGTON Fifth Avenue BLENHEIM Lynfords CHRISTCHURCH D.A. Lewis • McKenzie & Willis The Anti Smacking Bill indeed. I can well see from those who proTIMARU Ken Wills Furniture DUNEDIN D.A. Lewis posed this appalling bit of legislation why, from their own experience, www.stressless.co.nz they thought it would be a great idea. Apart from those who from
So what kept us from going off the rails?
95864 Investigate 87x120 Feb08 stressless.indd 1
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 23
PHOTOGRAPHY: Serge Arnal Romuald Rat Mario Brenna Serge Benhamou Jacques Langevin French Emergency Services
INQUEST CAN JUSTICE PREVAIL? 24 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
When Princess Diana died after a car crash in August 1997, few believed that mystery would still surround the circumstances of her death ten years later. JOHN MORGAN is a New Zealand-born author, based in Queensland, whose new book argues there’s strong evidence of a cover-up. In this exclusive report for Investigate magazine, he shows some of the holes emerging at the official inquest in London this month
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 25
s the controversial London hearings into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed have passed the halfway point, this is an appropriate time to assess the inquest’s progress and what is likely to be achieved by it. Now, over ten years since the Paris crash that took Diana and Dodi’s lives, the attaining of justice through a thorough inquest is of course a tall order. The entire process is hamstrung by the fact that witnesses are unable to clearly recall the detail of events that occurred so long ago. After four months of evidence from over 130 live witnesses, there have been countless instances where those being cross-examined have said “I’m sorry. It is ten years ago now. I cannot remember.” For the jury, this is exacerbated by the antiquated rule whereby they are unable to have access to witness statements given during the initial French investigation. It should be obvious to all concerned that the original statements taken very soon after the events would provide more accuracy than relying on witness cross-examination ten years later. On December 11 2007 the inquest jury themselves requested access to these statements. After some discussion in the Court, royal coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker’s decision was “No, you cannot have the statements”. It is evident that if this was an inquest without a jury, then the coroner would have access to all witness statements. Why should a jury be any different? Inadequacy of Earlier Investigations Affect Current Inquest
The failure of the French authorities to carry out a thorough and adequate investigation in the first place, when the events were still fresh in the minds of key witnesses, has also contributed to the difficulties facing the current inquest. Take for instance the evidence of Alberto Repossi, the jeweller who sold Dodi Fayed the “engagement ring” (cross-examined Dec 10). Repossi was never interviewed by the French, and thus his first testimony was not taken until British Operation Paget officers interviewed him in September 2005, 8 years after the crash.
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Likewise, Brian Anderson (Oct 17), a passenger in a taxi following behind the Mercedes, and thus a key eye-witness of the crash, was never interviewed by the French. His first testimony was taken by British officers on August 31 2004, precisely 7 years after the events he had to describe. To the shame of both the French and British investigators there is no record of any attempts being made to locate the driver of the taxi Brian Anderson was in. American Joanna da Costa (formerly Luz)(Oct 22), one of the first two pedestrian eye-witnesses on the crash scene, was never interviewed by the French investigation. Her only interview was taken by the British on August 23 2004, but for some unknown reason this testimony was never included in the official police Paget Report. Where delays of up to a decade or more in the hearing of evidence have occurred, it is obvious that the accuracy of testimony could have been compromised. Joanna Luz’s companion at the time, Tom Richardson, who was the first pedestrian on the scene, has never been interviewed by any police investigation and it does not appear that he will be called on to give evidence to the inquest. Inquest Highlights Failures in French Investigation
The current inquest has however helped to highlight some of the areas where the French investigation failed abysmally. For example, the inquest has shown up mistakes that were made during the initial night-time investigations. Under cross-examination French investigators have blamed some of these errors on poor lighting. Sergeant Thierry Clotteaux (Nov 6) admitted that “the lights were not so great”. Another police investigator Hubert Pourceau (also Nov 6) stated that a 19 metre Mercedes tyre mark was missed “because it was night-time and it was not very visible. They couldn’t see it.” This begs the question, where was the forensic lighting that one
would expect at any night-time crash scene, let alone the scene of arguably the most important car crash of the 20th century? Investigators revealed that during the night they had to rely on the lights of the emergency vehicles, then after those had left the scene, they were reduced to using the dim tunnel lighting – apparently they never even had their own torches! Diana’s Ambulance: “It was rocking”
On October 17 a statement given to the French investigation by Thierry Orban, a photographic reporter, was read out to the inquest. Referring to the ambulance carrying Princess Diana, Orban stated: “I...followed the ambulance, preceded by motorcyclists and followed by a police car which kept us at a distance. After the Pont d’Austerlitz, opposite the Natural History Museum, the ambulance stopped, the driver got out hurriedly and got into the back. That was when I took the only photo of the ambulance, which is in any case blurred. It was rocking, as if they were doing a cardiac massage.” This stoppage occurred within 500 metres of the hospital gates. In his statement to Operation Paget Dr Martino, who was inside the ambulance, explained the situation: “I had the vehicle stopped in order to re-examine the Princess....I did not do any cardiac massage at that moment but it is not easy to do cardiac massage or resuscitation with a vehicle moving.” The ambulance driver Michel Massebeuf ’s statement to the French investigation was read to the inquest on November 14. He described what happened: “However, in front of the Jardin des Plantes, the doctor [Martino] asked me to stop. We stopped for about five minutes, in order for him to be able to provide treatment that required a complete absence of movement.” This evidence raises the question: why did Thierry Orban witness a rocking ambulance if there was no cardiac massage taking place and “complete absence of movement” was required? Thierry Orban and Michel Massebeuf ’s statements were both inexplicably omitted from the Paget Report. Also, it is not known why Orban or Massebeuf have not been cross-examined during this inquest. In Massebeuf ’s evidence, which was taken in March 1998, he stated that there was a third crew member inside the ambulance – “a young extern whose name I have forgotten but who works at
St Louis”. This witness, who was evidently in very close proximity to Princess Diana, has never been identified or interviewed by any investigation. Key French Witnesses Avoiding Cross-Examination
The tenuous situation where French witnesses are not legally required to give evidence has contributed to the mounting difficulty in achieving the goal of justice through this inquest. As a result of this, some extremely key witnesses have not and will not be cross-examined at all. Included in this group is Professor Dominique Lecomte, Head of the Paris Institute of Forensic Medicine – she is the pathologist who carried out the first autopsy on Mercedes driver, Henri Paul. Throughout that autopsy the Paget report revealed 58 identifiable errors, including the failure to properly identify the body. Lecomte also conducted the initial external medical examinations of Diana and Dodi’s bodies. Another key witness who will evade an appearance at the inquest is Dr Gilbert Pépin, the Paris toxicologist who carried out the alcohol testing on blood samples from both of Henri Paul’s autopsies. It is the results of his testing that led to the high blood/alcohol readings that became the basis of the French and British investigations’ conclusion that the crash was caused by a drunk driver. It is difficult to overstate the importance to this inquest of the evidence of French witnesses, and particularly Lecomte and Pépin. The failure to be able to cross-examine them may contribute to the public’s perception of whether the inquest will achieve justice. If Princess Diana was murdered then these people would have played key roles in the aftermath and the ensuing French cover-up. Paparazzi and Pregnancy – Issues of Distraction
As the hearings have progressed it has become clear that the focus in the courtroom has at times been on issues that are not central to the object of the inquest – that is, to establish whether there is any veracity to the allegations of murder. Whilst dealing with the evidence relating to the final journey of the Mercedes, there has been a theme of dwelling on the actions INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 27
“There has also been a significant portion of inquest time dedicated to evidence regarding the possibility that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death. This is a proposition put forward by the conspiracy camp as a possible motive for murder of the paparazzi. Whilst this does have relevance, no one is alleging that the paparazzi – whose vehicles were not as powerful as the Mercedes – set out to murder Princess Diana. Large chunks of valuable inquest time has been used up analysing and re-analysing paparazzi photos, all taken well before or well after the crash itself – none of them able to add any knowledge to the events that took place between the Ritz Hotel and the Alma Tunnel. It is clear from eye-witness evidence given so far that there were camera flashes, both in the Place de la Concorde and on the expressway just prior to the Alma Tunnel. On November 27 Scott Baker himself stated: “I am very interested in trying to find any...photographs showing the journey of the Mercedes before the collision.” 28 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
It is evident that if these photos of Diana and Dodi’s final moments before the crash had been taken by paparazzi then they would be worth millions of pounds, and somehow they would have surfaced after the crash – whether in newspapers, TV or over the internet. But no such photos have ever been published. This raises the question: who took these shots through the untinted windows of the Mercedes S280 on its final trip? Were they men on motorbikes masquerading as paparazzi with the purpose of harming the occupants of the Mercedes, but hoping that blame would later be attributed to the paparazzi? The answer to these questions should have relevance to the question which lies at the very heart of the inquest: were Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed murdered, or was the crash simply a tragic accident?
There has also been a significant portion of inquest time dedicated to evidence regarding the possibility that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death. This is a proposition put forward by the conspiracy camp as a possible motive for murder. Whilst it has the potential to take up even more time during the inquest, it would appear to be an issue that is impossible to prove, either way. Diana’s Anti-Landmine Campaign
More likely as possible motives are other factors such as the rapidly developing relationship between Diana and Dodi, or Diana’s prominent and effective involvement in the international antilandmines campaign. Diana’s anti-landmine activity was a possible motive for murder
that was almost completely ignored by the 832 page Paget report produced by Lord Stevens in December 2006. Michael Mansfield QC, acting on behalf of Mohamed Al Fayed throughout the inquest, has provided some compelling arguments regarding Diana’s anti-landmines campaign. During his cross-examination of the former Conservative Minister Nicholas Soames (Dec 12), Mansfield quoted Soames’ Tory colleagues at the time. One told Diana, “Don’t meddle with things about which you know nothing” whilst another described Diana as a “loose cannon” when referring to her visit to the minefields of Angola. Soames himself portrayed Princess Diana in 1997 as a “totally unguided missile”. Soames is also alleged by Diana’s close friend Simone Simmons INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 29
On November 27 Scott Baker himself stated: “I am very interested in trying to find any...photographs showing the journey of the Mercedes before the collision
to have directly threatened Diana with an “accident” if she continued with her anti-landmine activities. On January 10 Simmons gave evidence of a 4 inch thick antilandmine dossier which Diana compiled in the last year of her life – she had entitled it “Profiting from Misery”. Simone Simmons stated that Diana claimed the dossier “would prove that the British Government and many high-ranking public figures were profiting from [landmine] proliferation in countries like Angola and Bosnia. The names and companies were well known, it was explosive and top of her list of culprits behind this squalid trade was the Secret Intelligence Service, the SIS, which she believed was behind the sale of so many of the British made landmines that were causing so much misery to so many people. ‘I’m going to go public with this and name names’, she declared.” London Daily Mail journalist and close friend of Diana, Richard Kay (Dec 20), received a phone call from Diana just hours before she died. He confirmed that during this call the Princess stated that she fully intended to “complete her obligations to...the antipersonnel landmines cause”. Kay said that this would have involved a future visit to the minefields of South East Asia. The Coroner’s 20 Questions
At the beginning of these hearings Lord Justice Scott Baker outlined a “list of likely issues” – it comprised of 20 questions that really need to be answered before the conclusion of the inquest. Although the questions listed cover many aspects of the case, it is interesting that they omit mention of the landmines issue, which was also left out of the Paget report. Also missing from this list are issues surrounding the conduct of the two autopsies of Henri Paul. There should be no debate over whether this is central to the case, and yet it was not specifically mentioned by the coroner. Other notable key issues that are not specifically included in the coroner’s list are the: lack of any CCTV traffic footage of the Mercedes S280’s final journey through central Paris vehicles that were chasing and blocking the Mercedes during the final journey vehicles that were seen fleeing the crash scene 30 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
actions of the French and British authorities around the time of the crash. Of course, the fact that these critical issues were left out of the coroner’s list does not mean that they won’t be dealt with in the course of the inquest, and indeed some of them have already figured in the cross-examinations of witnesses. So far there do not appear to have been definitive answers to any of the listed questions, but this inquest still has a long way to run before it concludes. Judicial Bias?
Has Lord Justice Scott Baker been impartial? This is a very difficult question for anyone to answer. On 2 October 2007 the coroner embarked on a marathon 41,000 word “opening remarks” statement, much of which was drawn from the Paget Report. During this address he left himself open to accusations of judicial bias when speaking directly to the jury, he said: “The conclusions of the French Inquiry and the Paget Report are neither here nor there, if you take a different view”. This statement implies that the earlier inquiries are only relevant if the members of the jury agree with the conclusion that the crash was caused by a drunk driver. In theory of course, the jury shouldn’t be influenced by the findings of the French and British investigations, but should be drawing their own conclusions based on the evidence presented throughout this inquest. Can Justice Prevail?
Will the inquest achieve justice for Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul? Currently there are several important factors that are affecting the quality of information available to the jury. Not least of these is the lack of jury access to the early French statements made by key witnesses and probably even more important is the failure to be able to legally force critical French witnesses to be available for cross-examination. If Lord Justice Scott Baker is not able to find a way around these problems, there is a real risk that the final outcome of the inquest will lack credibility amongst the British and international public. n
What The Critics Say: “This is a first class piece of investigative journalism that exposes the Scotland Yard report into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed as an utter sham. The book demonstrates that the cover up went right to the top.” – Mohamed Al Fayed, Owner of Harrods, London “It is a brilliant piece of research and writing which will play an important role in uncovering the truth about how Princess Diana came to die.” – Sue Reid, Daily Mail, London “The most compelling book yet published about the circumstances surrounding Diana’s death.” Paul Sparks, UK journalist & writer: “This is a masterful piece of investigative journalism which has quite properly exposed areas of the Paget inquiry which were either overlooked or not properly investigated. It needs to be read by anyone seeking the truth.” – John Macnamara, former Detective Chief Superintendent, New Scotland Yard, London “An intriguing thought provoking read that is hard to put down....I found Cover-up of a Royal Murder a highly accomplished work.” – Leanne Saunders, Zeus Publications, Gold Coast, Australia
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m o c . t o l p a n a i d e h t . www INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 31
By Gavin Grimmer y wife had booked our van and us on Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries a month after the Great Plains Flyin at Ashburton that I attended in my homebuilt aeroplane (Maranda Super 14) in February 2007. The plan was that we would spend two weeks traveling around the South Island enjoying the scenery and would end the two weeks in Omaka for the Omaka Airshow. When we arrived at Omaka we ended up staying at our friend Gerry Chissum’s flat and it was while we were there that I came across a book that Gerry had recently purchased called Lost…without trace? that was written by Richard Waugh about the DeHavilland DH90A Dragonfly, registered as ZK-AFB, that disappeared on a trip from Christchurch to Milford on the 10th February, 1962 with four tourists on board, (two were on their honeymoon) along with Brian Chadwick the pilot. I only had time to browse through it briefly but observed that it was very comprehensive and had obviously been very well researched. Around about July 2007 my mother-in-law came across a book in a garage sale Turbulent Years – A Commercial Pilots Story (by Brian Waugh – edited by Richard Waugh) and knowing that I was into aviation thought I might like to read it. Every time I saw her after that she kept asking if I had read it yet and as I was too busy at the time, (and not really one that can sit down and read books) I had to keep making excuses. I had booked in for the Aircraft Maintenance Approval Course (for Homebuilders) in Ashburton in October and ended up being down that way for a week (staying at Mike and Sharyn Fleming’s place) waiting for the weather to become fine enough to fly home again. I had fortunately packed the book in question so was able to read it while I was there. Imagine my surprise when I read in it that Brian Waugh, (Richard Waugh’s father) a close friend of the missing Brian Chadwick, had flown over the Welcome Flat area in 1967, after a report of hunters seeing supposed aircraft wreckage, and although he never saw any wreckage, two of his male passengers approached him, after they had landed back in Hokitika, to ask him if he had seen the crashed aeroplane with one of the wings off! When asked why they had never said anything at the time they replied ,“that they didn’t want to alarm the female passengers!” Brian Waugh contacted Search and Rescue and to his annoyance 32 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
(because he thought that he would have been the obvious choice) they sent a Mount Cook Skiplane to investigate – needless to say, they found nothing and called the search off! Brian later raised funds to fly in and conduct his own search but also found nothing! I, like many other people, have been fascinated with using Google Earth, so I thought, “Maybe I might be able to find it using Google Earth” so I then spent many hours going over nearly every square
The Elusive Dragonfly Mystery
The Search Continues…
Three years ago, Investigate offered a $4,000 reward to anyone who discovered the wreckage of a vintage airliner that vanished with five people on board in an area regarded as New Zealand’s “Bermuda Triangle” 46 years ago. Just before Christmas, we received a call from a man believing he might finally have found the wreckage. This is GAVIN GRIMMER’S story
inch of the Welcome Flat area, placing a marker on everything that looked out of the ordinary. I then found out where I could obtain a copy of Richard’s book Lost…without trace? and when it arrived I read it from cover to cover very intensively so as to be able to absorb every little detail in case that “little detail” may mean something very important in the future! Once again, I used Google Earth in the 3D terrain mode to “fly”
around all the areas that there were sightings of the Dragonfly on the day it went missing, and by using my own experiences of bad weather flying, managed to work out the most likely course that he had flown to see whether it was possible that he could have in fact made it to the area in question and to sum up my findings – yes, he could have! From there I went back to all the markers I had placed on the Google Earth overlay and examined each finding much more closely. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 33
You can only imagine my excitement when I observed that one of the objects actually looked like the shape of the right hand top wing and with a mangled shape that looked like a badly damaged bottom wing lying on top of it at right angles to it! Seeing as the two wings of a biplane are tied together with guy wires, then it would be reasonable to expect the two wings to remain together. On Google Earth there is also a tool that you can measure with and when I used this on the object the “top wing” measured about 19 feet – the length of the Dragonfly wing! From there I was so “hypo”, that had a lot of trouble sleeping and spent many an hour behind the computer researching whatever I could. I contacted Richard Waugh who is presently in Kentucky, USA, on a course until around June 2008 and I’m sure he also got real excited about it, and since then we have been in regular contact via email. I spent many an hour on the telephone trying to locate the two eyewitnesses of “the aeroplane with the wing off” – a Mr. Reg Gee of Renwick, and Jim Thompson, a Met. Observer at Hokitika Airport in 1967. I eventually found that Reg Gee had sadly passed on, and although I rang what must have been half of the Thompson’s in NZ (and there are hundreds of them listed in Telecom White Pages!!) I was unable to locate him. I found people that worked with him at the time (he was known as “JJ”) but they had also lost track of his 34 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
whereabouts. If anyone reading this knows of his whereabouts, please contact me as he may have information that is vital. His age would be in the range of late 60’s to late 70’s. Richard told me that recently he had found out that the Mt. Cook Skiplane pilot that had conducted the search in 1967 was Lyall Hood and he now resided somewhere in NSW in Australia and “had something to do with insurance”. I did a Google Search and managed to find him! He gave me the description of where he was told that the “aircraft” was seen and it matched where I had found this object, so I emailed him the image off Google Earth minus the GPS coordinates and he emailed me back and the following is his email dated 20-11-07: Gavin that looks like what was explained to me that they saw. All that we were able to find was what looked like a snow/ice covering on moraine that looked abit like part of an aircraft. Looks hopeful. Keep me in the loop. Good luck Lyall
On the 21st November I sent the following email to Richard: Sorry Richard but I forgot that I was going to mention that I think I have an answer to why “A” Grade Cotton could last for
Top: Missing aircraft DH90A Dragonfly. Bottom clockwise: Elwyn and Valerie Saville, newlyweds from NSW / Louis Rowan in a New Guinea Bar, 1961. After spending Christmas with family in Sydney, his trip to NZ would be his last / Darrell Stanley Shiels / Pilot Brian Chadwick
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 35
45 years out in the weather as you would think that it would have fallen to pieces by now. This object is in a Valley that would spend most of its time in the shade and probably only has direct sunlight for 2-3 hours a day, so if that being the case, then that would equate to approx. 11 years 3 months and seeing that it would be under snow for probably 6 months of the year = roughly 5 years 7 months and remembering that it is up in cold air and in the mountain ranges with lots of cloud cover then the actual UV that it would have to absorb could be a lot less than this, so I have no difficulty believing that the fabric on an aeroplane could last this long in these conditions. Hope this answers another “puzzle”! Regards, Gavin
The day after (the 22nd Nov.) I flew down to Mike and Sharyn Fleming’s again (Loburn, Christchurch) and after a restless night there, I picked my friend Sean Husheer, a fellow pilot and one that is familiar with the Welcome Flat area, up from Wigram Airport, and we flew from there down past Mount Cook, over the Copeland Pass, and down through a big hole in the cloud directly over the area that I was interested in. It was very difficult trying to recognize the correct spot as we were circling down from 11,500 ft. to about 7,000 ft and I was just pointing the camera in the general area and pushing the button in 36 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
the hope that I got something. It was fascinating seeing the Valley in real life after spending so much time in it on Google Earth! From there we carried on down the Copeland Valley and down to Haast where we landed and stayed at Sean’s friend’s house for two nights. While there I processed the photo’s on Sean’s laptop and found that of the seven photo’s that I’d managed to take, five of them were right on the spot! The only problem was the valley in question was under an estimated 30ft of snow! From there we headed home back to Hastings. Right from the start have tried to avoid too many people knowing of my “discovery” as I have been very conscious of the pain that must surely be felt by the families of the people who were aboard the ill fated Dragonfly and I don’t want them to get their hopes up of some finality in this, only to find that it was just another “red herring”! You can only imagine my shock when a day after I returned from my first trip down, I was contacted by Search and Rescue!!! They were under the impression that I had actually found the missing aircraft and that I was withholding from them the location of it, which obviously would constitute a criminal offence as there are still five souls on board! After some discussion, they came to realize that what I had found was still only a possibility and that if I could prove that it was actually there, then they would be contacted straight away. I was very concerned that if I found it, that they would go in and tear the
NEW ZEALAND’S BERMUDA TRIANGLE? By Richard Waugh
Cesna 180 ZK-BMP
Piper Cherokee Six ZK-EBU
Cessna 172K ZK-CSS
Cessna 180 ZK-FMQ
Hughes 369HS ZK-HNW
hen it departed on its tragic flight on Feb 12, 1962, the Dragonfly – piloted by Kiwi Brian Chadwick – was carrying Elwyn and Valerie Saville, a honeymooning couple from Australia (Valerie, however, was born in Gisborne), as well as Aussies Louis Rowan and Darrell Shiels. Although its disappearance sparked the largest air search in New Zealand history (17 civilian and 17 NZ and US airforce planes and helicopters flew more than 250 missions but failed to find it), the last flight of the Dragonfly is not the only unsolved mystery in the same area. A total of six aircraft have vanished totally without trace, including four other fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter. In total, including those aboard ZK-AFB, 23 persons – 6 pilots and 17 passengers – have vanished! The large area in which these aircraft and people have been lost is among the most rugged in New Zealand, with much of it having World Heritage status. Since the Dragonfly, other aircraft to disappear have been: • 16 AUGUST 1978: Cessna 180 ZK-BMP owned by Central Western Air. The pilot was Rev Cyril Francis Crosbie (aged 37) of Riversdale and the passengers were: Trevor George Collins (aged 50) of Waimea, Gordon Grant (aged 28) of Waipounamu and Peter Alexander Robertson (aged about 40) of Wendonside. The aircraft was on a flight from Big Bay, South Westland, to Riversdale, Southland. It was probably last heard at Jamestown at the northern end of Lake McKerrow and appeared to be heading towards the Jamestown Saddle. • 29 DECEMBER 1978: Piper Cherokee Six ZKEBU owned by the Otago Aero Club. The pilot was Edward James Sinclair Morrison (aged 28) and the passengers were: Earl Blomfield Stewart (aged 40), his wife Elizabeth McGregor Stewart (aged 37), their son David John Stewart (aged 18), Alec Davidson Stewart (aged 38), his wife Rosie Stewart (aged 37) and David Hogg (aged 20). The elder Stewart men were brothers and all the Stewarts were from Dunedin. The aircraft was on a scenic flight from Taieri, Dunedin, to Queenstown, Milford Sound, Preservation Inlet and then back to Dunedin. It was last seen flying down Milford Sound toward the coast. • 30 JULY 1983: Cessna 172K ZK-CSS owned by Arthur Roy Turner. The pilot was Arthur Roy Turner (aged 55) of Mt Ruapehu, National Park, and the passengers were: his wife Anne
Zelda (aged 33) and children Kim Dorothy (aged 6) and Guy (aged 4). Anne was also a pilot. The aircraft was on a flight from Tekapo to Fox Glacier. • 8 NOVEMBER 1997: Cessna 180 ZK-FMQ owned by Cascade Whitebait Ltd. The pilot was Ryan Michael Moynihan (aged 23) and he was the sole occupant. The aircraft was on a flight from West Melton Aerodrome, Canterbury to Waiatoto, South Westland. • 3 JANUARY 2004: Hughes 369HS ZK-HNW owned by Featherstone Contracting Ltd, Hamilton. The pilot was Campbell Montgomerie (aged 27) from Hamilton and his passenger, girlfriend Hannah Rose Timings (aged 28) from Cheltenham, England. The helicopter was on a flight from the Howden Hut, on the Routeburn Track, to Milford Sound. A total of 204 flying hours and 2300 man hours were reported as being spent searching the mountainous area for the missing helicopter, without success. Following the Dragonfly’s disappearance, Civil Aviation officials investigated some overseas developments regarding aircraft radio beacons. A 1962 memo entitled ‘Recommendations Arising from the Dragonfly Accident’ says in part: “Radio in the past has been out of the question, but recently appears to be becoming a distinct possibility. We are currently obtaining data on several emergency transmitters which have recently become available.” In New Zealand, the Emergency Locator Transmitter device (ELT), to assist in locating missing aircraft, was not finally made mandatory for the general aviation fleet until 1986. The beacon commences transmitting if a certain ‘G’ threshold is exceeded, as in a crash. It radiates on 121.5 MHz for civil or 243 MHz for military, but in the near future the standard will be 406.5 MHz. The signal can be detected aurally if a receiver is set to the appropriate frequency, so overflying aircraft are often the first to report a beacon. Orbiting SARSAT/COSPAS satellites operated by the United States and Russia are designed to receive the signals and within 90 minutes they can typically determine the location with amazing accuracy and so greatly assist Search and Rescue personnel. NOTE: we acknowledge the published information regarding four of these missing aircraft from the book Missing! Aircraft Missing in New Zealand 1928-2000 by Chris Rudge (Christchurch, Adventure Air, 2001) INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 37
place apart and seeing the historical nature of this, I feel that it would need to be well documented before anything was touched. They agreed that if it really was the Dragonfly, then they would allow me to be on board the first helicopter in! I spent many hours trying to work out how you could find out the date that the Google Earth satellite photo was taken and after much research discovered it on a DigitalGlobe website and that it was 16-01-2004. Since then I have found that you can find it on Google Earth itself in the “layers” section by clicking on “more” and then clicking on “DigitalGlobe Coverage”. From there you need to just keep clicking on the various “DG” icons and then “preview” and from there you need to compare the satellite photo shown, to that on Google Earth using things like shadows or clouds until you find the one that matches. I flew down to Franz Joseph airfield on the 20th December and the next day I sent this email to Richard: Hi Richard, I’m in Franz Joseph and flew up to the site last night. Unfortunately I set the altimeter to 30’ instead of 300’ before I took off for the site so of course all my photo’s were taken 270’ lower than they should have been. One actually had the site in it but there was a cloud obscuring it! I took off again at about 10.30 this morning but was unable to get up the valley as the cloud base was only at 2000’ and it was raining lightly. The good news is that the site was clear of snow but as the valley is quite narrow I was more interested in getting some good photo’s and looking for it on them as I was more interested in staying in the land of the living. It was very daunting flying up a dead end canyon straight at a sheer cliff face that towered 3000’ above you – and not a lot of room to turn around! I’m hopeing that the weather will clear this evening and I’ll try again. Failing this, the weather is meant to be clearer tomorrow so maybe then.... Many regards, Gavin
Two days later, I sent these two emails to Richard: Hi Richard, I am now home again arriving back in Hastings at 8.00pm last night. After downloading my photo’s and being able to examine them on a “big screen” I have been able to determine that I did actually get the object on the first flight into the area and I have attached one of the photo’s to this email – have drawn around it – but as you will see that it is still frozen over! To give you a perception of the size of everything the white line that I have drawn is according to Google Earth about 120 feet long! Either it is just a lump of permafrost or possibly it has remained frozen at this point due to its bulk – who knows at this point? I returned to the area yesterday morning and got closer shots of it and got a good movie of it with my movie camera mounted on a tripod in the aeroplane – did seven orbits flying up and down the dead ended valley and had to resist doing anymore as it became quite hypnotic, and cloud was forming, so I had to leave before it became too dangerous. On Friday, using Air Safaris Computer and broadband link, I discovered that Google Earth has upgraded their satellite photo of the area to one dated 4th May 2006 and sadly the object is in shade, but you can still just make it out if you know exactly where to look. 38 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Anyway, must go and mow the lawns before my wife fires me! Will keep in touch. Many regards Gavin Hi Richard, Pure supposition but if you zoom in on the photo I have just sent you will notice that the object is at the base of what appears to be a big “cavern” and if this really is the wings off one side then maybe the rest of the aircraft is inside of the cavern and the wing was knocked off as it went in..... the mind boogles!!!! Gavin
Email dated 24-12-2007: Hi Richard, I spoke to Lyall Hood by telephone again yesterday and he said that the object on Google Earth was in the exact spot that he had seen what he believed to be just permafrost but he said he was puzzled as to why it was still exactly the same shape that he had seen it as in 1967!! At this stage I intend to conduct some experiments to see if a wood and fabric structure painted white, frozen in ice, to see if it takes longer to thaw out than an equivalent sized block of ice, and if the results are what I think they will be then it should explain a lot! You will also notice that the G.E. image looks like the right hand wings and rear stabilizer/elevator which would strengthen the theory that they could have been taken off if the a/c did in fact go into the “cavern” (for want of a better word) – only time will tell! If it did in fact go into the mountain “wall” the last thing you would do to avoid hitting would be to pull the nose of the aircraft very high which would explain why the bottom wing is badly damaged from the impact. The top right hand wing, being attached by struts and guy wires would in this scenario quite possibly snap off from the fuselage relatively intact and with little damage (as most of the inertia would have been absorbed) and as the motion of the resulting impact would cause the tail to accelerate downwards (rather than forward) and snap the stabilizer/elevator assembly off and, once again, in this scenario it is not inconceivable that this could also retain its basic shape. The rest of the aircraft would then continue nose high into the “cleft” (I think is probably a better word to describe it) in the rock and would more than likely explode from the immediate compression on the fuel tanks in the left wing and so there would probably not be a lot left. This would explain why two separate women heard an explosion 15 – 20 miles away as the dead ended valley with a cloud base covering it would tend to act as a megaphone! This is of course, is all pure conjecture, but it could explain things – something to think about! I’ve had an uncanny feeling from the start that it would take at least three trips down to the spot to get this lot sorted out one way or another, so I am not surprised that I have not got anything “concrete” yet, but I did come home with a feeling of success, in fact, if I was able to I would have done a “Victory Roll” in my aircraft over the airfield when I got home, but my aircraft is not rated for it – so I settled for a “beat up” of the runway instead! Hope you, your wife and family have a really good holiday – and watch out for the big alligators in Florida! Will telephone you if anything else comes up. Christmas blessings to you all too. Gavin
This is where the object should be, but obviously is not (rough outline in orange)
Email dated 27th December 2007: Hi Lyall, Good to talk to you again last Sunday. On reflecting on what you said, would I be correct in saying that you went on Google Earth and checked the position of the object that you saw in 1967 and discovered that it was the same as the image that I sent you? Would I also be correct in saying that you mentioned that you had even commented to your wife that it was strange that the object still looked the same after all these years? I have found that sometimes the things that people tell me, I understand them incorrectly and so come to the wrong conclusions! I’m only asking you this as your answers could be of vital importance. Presume you are on holiday so I wish you a good one. Hope to hear back from you soon, Gavin Grimmer
And his reply dated 3rd January 2008: Gavin you are correct on all three Lyall
My experiments that I conducted with ice as mentioned in the email to Richard confirmed that a fabric covered wing would in fact take quite a lot longer to thaw out due to its insulation qualities and being white, would probably help to reflect the sunlight, hence would not absorb as much heat. With all this information in hand, (and much more – there isn’t room to mention all of it here in this article) on the 29th January 2008, Greg McNicol and I set off in the Maranda down south again (from Hastings) but only made it as far as Dannevirke (for reasons that I won’t mention here). We returned home and set off again the next morning but only made it to about 10 miles south and had to return due to weather. The next week the weather forecast down the West Coast was looking exceptionally good for Wednesday and Thursday so on the Wednesday morning , 6th February 2008, I was in the air by 7.00am on my way down on my own again as Greg was unable to go then, due to work commitments. By 1.30pm that afternoon, I was in the terminal building at Franz Joseph airfield downloading my latest photographs of the object area as I had already been right up to the site and back! On examining them on my laptop (that I had bought off TradeMe especially for this project) it appeared that the object was no longer there, but I was not sure, as I had taken them from quite a distance! Trying to fly an aeroplane in a dead end canyon in very mountainINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 39
ous conditions, with 7,000ft of mountain above you, (I was already at 5,000ft!) was daunting enough as it is hard to keep some sort of horizon, and then to adjust your eyesight to looking through a camera lens, focus on a point that is moving past you quite quickly, take a photo and then readjust your eyesight to a lack of horizon before you lose control of your aircraft, and all this with your knees knocking together, is quite an undertaking, to say the least! On the previous trip down I had met a nice fellow by the name of Gerry Findlay, who owned a Bed & Breakfast home (www.knightswoodlodge.com) just down the road from the airstrip so I contacted him and he graciously came up to the airfield in his Land Rover and collected me, cameras, laptop, etc., and overnight bag. On talking to him, it turned out he was a retired 9.000hr Helicopter Pilot and he had also done a few hours in Piper Cubs. I asked him if he would like a flight up into the mountains in a very unusual V8 powered homebuilt aeroplane (mine of course), and he said he would love to. We set off at about 7.00pm that evening, we removed the windows from both doors and we just “chugged” away all the way back up to the site, in beautifully calm, cool conditions. I flew up the canyon, made the turn and he would take over the controls and just keep it straight and level while I zoomed in with the telephoto lens and took several shots. I would then take over the controls again, do the turn, fly back up the valley, turn again, and do the whole procedure again. We did this several times and I managed to get in quite a lot of real good shots! We were very pleased that we had removed the windows as com-
ing back down the valley was almost directly into the sun, which made it almost impossible to see out the windscreen! To overcome this problem we would just hang our heads out the open windows and could then see very clearly! That evening I downloaded all the latest photo’s onto my laptop and spent a little while going over them and it appeared that the object last observed on the Google Earth Image of 4th May 2006 was no longer there! On arriving back at home in Hastings, I spent hours going over the photo’s and comparing them with the Google Earth Images and the previous photo’s that I had taken and eventually came to the conclusion that it was definitely no longer there! My conclusion from all of this is: 1. Could the object seen on Google Earth now be further down the mountainside under tons of gravel that can be seen in some of the photos? 2. Could it just have been a reflection off rocks? My gut feeling is that it maybe it was a lump of ice that always thawed out the same way every year due to the channeling of the streams of water coming down the mountainside, but when you look at the dates the images were taken on Google Earth – one in January and one in May – then who knows? This whole experience has taken me on a journey of incredible fascination that I could never have even dreamed about! Although nothing has been found at this point of time… The mystery and the search continues... n
In 2005, Investigate posted a $4,000 reward (see below for conditions) for the first person to find the wreck of the Dragonfly and help get closure for the families of those who vanished. Full route information and salient witness statements can be found in Richard Waugh’s book – Lost, Without Trace
Ask for it at good bookstores, or visit www.findthedragonfly.com Investigate magazine is supporting Richard Waugh’s quest to solve New Zealand’s most perplexing aviation mystery by offering a $4,000 cash reward to anyone who discovers the wreckage and reports it exclusively to Investigate in the first instance. No reward will be payable if news of any discovery is first publicized intentionally or unintentionally in any other media than Investigate. 40 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 41
Back for the Future
Grandfathers of Science to visit Downunder
42 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
It is one of the world’s oldest scientific societies, and as SELWYN PARKER reports, we have a lot to thank them for
illiam Stukeley was incensed. A doctor with an eye for ancient monuments, in particular Stonehenge, he was furious at the way local builders cheerfully broke up the megalithic stones and used them for “more practical” purposes such as building houses in the village of Avebury. The doctor, who was regarded as eccentric, spent his spare time pottering about the area with the newly invented theodolite, taking measurements and jotting them down on a parchment. Before all the stones disappeared, he was able to show that the ancient circle was aligned to the summer and winter solstices. Having proved the significance of what had turned into a kind of quarry, he and like-minded gentlemen launched an ultimately successful campaign for the preservation of Stonehenge. Without the doctor and his fellows, there would almost certainly be nothing left today of the greatest of all pre-Roman monuments in Britain. All that began exactly 300 years ago. Stukeley was the first secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Its purpose, which was considered quite nutty at the time, was to seek out “such things as may Illustrate and Relate to the History of Great Britain.” The word “things” was the key. By it, the founders meant “Antient Coins, books, sepulchures or other remains of Antient Worship”. In a deeply religious age when much scholarship was dominated by wildly inaccurate biblical teaching, it was natural the founders would start their quest for the past through things of “Antient Worship”. But it’s a shrewd guess that they were also looking over their shoulder, hoping to escape censure from authorities everwatchful for seditious organisations meeting surreptitiously in taverns. After all, what possible harm could there be in the study of religious objects? The widely varying interests of the founders lend weight to the argument. The three men who first met for the purpose of forming a society for the study of British antiquities were the son of an architect, a student of ancient inscriptions and Anglo-Saxon, and a shoemaker and dealer in books described (inevitably) as “eccentric”. But look at what these so-called oddballs started. As Souren Melikian, an authority on this august body, points out: “So it was that at one stroke of the pen, the newly-founded society laid the foundations of history as understood today, giving precedence to material evidence over the a priori theories, largely mythical, that had prevailed until then about the British past.” In the early 18th century, there were no national libraries, no museINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 43
ums, no art galleries. It was not for another 150 years that universities established history departments. And so these cranks started collecting with deliberate abandon. Just about anything from the distant past fired their interest – books, illustrations, relics, coins, documents, Domesday records, crosses, archaeological artefacts, whatever might shed light on the past. They were the first people in Europe to do so. Sometimes their enthusiasm got the better of them. Robbing tombs for artefacts became, as Melikian points out, “a national sport in the 19th century” and some of the society’s most interesting finds date from the period. Thus a 12th century silver gilt chalice, one of the few surviving examples of church silver, was “discovered” in a tomb at Canterbury. Although widely-travelled fellows returned with all kinds of artefacts, they continued to be inanimate things rather than the once-liv44 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
The Society of Antiquarians sees its role as helping to bring the ancient back to light for a new generation
ing things of natural history. Thus the society did not go in for the toi moko, the tattooed and often shrunken Maori heads that were all the rage 150 years ago, ending up as prize exhibits in museums all over Britain. Collected in a culturally less sensitive age, mostly by globe-trotting amateur explorers, ship’s surgeons and adventurers, they held pride of place for a time, particularly in Scotland. “In my own experience antiquaries are generally rather academic and meticulous in their work,” says Jayne Phenton, the society’s communications manager. In any event no self-respecting British museum has displayed a toi moko for many years and most have been returned to Wellington’s Te Papa. To mark its tercentenary year, the society is going walkabout. It has organised a special tour Down Under where, as Phenton told
Investigate, “there is a substantial contingent of fellows”. In conformity with the tradition of an organisation that spent its first quarter century in taverns, these occasions are built around lectures followed by drinks and supper. The New Zealand leg of the programme takes in Auckland University on May 22 and Otago University on May 23. Meantime British antiquarians and anybody else who is interested can attend a series of tercentenary lectures in Britain and Ireland throughout the year. But don’t bother to turn up if you don’t know your stuff. With subjects like The Origins of Europe, The Taming of Nature, The Future of the Past and, rather stupendously, The Taming of Our World, the lecturers certainly don’t take any prisoners. (It should be pointed out that archaeology is a much bigger subject than it was. It now analyses ancient plants and animal remains, tissues, cells and even molecules.) Despite the breadth of these subjects, they are all based on the painstaking observation of historical minutiae. (Dr. Stukeley spent years making his observations of Stonehenge.) Like their predecessors, today’s antiquarians continue to operate on the basis that if it’s old it must tell us something about the big picture, however insignificant it may appear. The society’s list of recent publications explains all. As well as chronicling the results of monumental archaeological projects such as the seventhcentury royal burial ground at Sutton Hoo, there are studies of Roman brooches, the glass beads of Anglo-Saxon England, medieval decorative ironwork in England, and “early incised slabs and brasses from the London marblers”. No object, it seems, is too arcane for profitable study. Thus the latest edition of the society’s newsletter is riveted by the finding of a 14,000year old toolkit at an excavation in Jordan which provides “an insight into the daily life of an upper Palaeolithic Natufian hunter in the Near East, the discovery of deerskin shoes – the equivalent of Gucci footwear in their day – in a Roman coffin, and traces of “ancient Roman superglue” found on a helmet. The specialty interests of the fellows defy classification, if not belief. Going right back to the eccentric Dr. Stukeley, there are the intrepid modern crop of archaeologists who have spent half their lives working in sites from Maya to Indonesia. Among these are two recently elected New Zealanders – Otago University anthropologist Brian Vincent who has written “the most comprehensive study of an Asian prehistoric pottery production centre ever published”, and Richard Walter, an archaeologist from the same university who specialises in the Pacific. As there are only 2,500 fellows, it is no mean honour to be elected. (It is an even greater honour to be made an honorary fellow, like Sir David Attenborough.) But look at the wondrously eclectic scholarship of the latest crop of fellows. They include authorities on the court of Edward III, erotic Greek jewellery, bookplate art, the impact of nineteenth-
century excavation sites on the staging of ancient plays, Gothic philology, poetic metre and early Anglo-Saxon metalwork (in this case, all three are the preserve of a Japanese professor of English and Germanic studies whose latest book is called Button Brooches), ecclesiastical buildings and loose stonework, the origin of the sash window, prehistoric seafaring and ship construction, political history of Viking and Anglo-Norman England (an American professor), medieval pottery, and sugar estates in the eastern Caribbean. It is not essential to be a collector as in days of yore. A demonstrated scholarly interest in the past will suffice. However it is surprising how many collectors there are among the fellows, such as actor Robert Hardy best known for All Creatures Great and Small who is an avid acquirer of the long bows that won the Battle of Crecy and other legendary stoushes on French soil. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 45
In the seventeenth century, antiquarian had a much broader meaning than today’s collector of rare and ancient books. The original species were the Indiana Jones of their day, fossicking about for objects of the past albeit for the best of reasons. There had actually been an antiquarian society of sorts as early as the late sixteenth century, dedicated to the noble aim of preserving national treasures. The founding members included a bishop, a knight and others of impeccable credentials. These gentlemen would meet at regular intervals to try and interpret the past through the objet du jour. They wrote learned papers, which you can still read today if you go to the Cottonian library and ask for A Collection of Curious Discourses. Their binding purpose was to create, in a wonderful phrase, a “cultural longevity” for England. You would think this was a harmless enough pastime but, in an era of political intrigue, Scotland’s King James I thought antiquarians were up to no good and he abolished this worthy body. There was no right of appeal in the days of absolute monarchs ruling by divine right and a rueful note observed that “his Majesty took a little Mislike of our Society…yet hereupon we forebare to meet again.” B ut you couldn’t keep a good antiquarian down and there is evidence of clandestine meetings in taverns and coffee houses all over London for the best part of the next 100 years. It is however certain that the first formal meeting of today’s society gathered in a pub on December 5, 1707, and the inaugural minutes were duly written up. The meetings moved around th a lot for the next 20 years or so, starting in the Bear in the Strand and working their way through the Young Devil, the Mitre, rooms in Gray’s Inn, then King’s Bench before returning to the Mitre. But they stuck to the original purpose and the society gradually became the “intellectual powerhouse of London”, as David Starkey, historian of the monarchy and television pundit, puts it. It became a place where prime ministers and clergy mixed with dangerous radicals and congenital sceptics to learn about the great discoveries of the day. “When you sit in the lecture room, it is the very place where Schliemann talked to the cabinet about the discovery of Troy,” adds Starkey. As you all know, Heinrich Schliemann was the German archaeologist who in 1873 dug up, so to speak, the city whose sacking produced some of the great epics in all literature such as Homer’s Iliad as well as the recent movie starring Brad Pitt. And that particular lecture was in German which was probably understood by most of those present. The society’s refusal to be too prescriptive about what antiquities were considered “important”, in the judgement of the time, and its determination to be guided by concrete evidence has paid enormous dividends over the last three centuries. It has enabled the fellows to preserve monuments as well as antiquities that would otherwise have been lost, destroyed or vandalised. Its sponsorship of archaeology has, as the society notes, challenged accepted religious belief by “replacing Biblically-based timeframes with a clearer understanding of deep time measured in millions of years.” It also paid for excavations over the last century that revealed myth-smashing insights into the past. Stonehenge, Sutton Hoo, Mons Porphyrites
in Egypt: all of them were society initiatives. At first, the interest in antiquities tended to stop at the English Channel, if only because of the difficulties of travel. Then it started to encompass, as its royal charter of 1751 put it, “the study and knowledge of Antiquities in this and other countries.” The original antiquarians never knew what they had started. Fossicking about for old objects proved such fun, especially for gentlemen with time on their hands, that the society produced numerous offspring over the years. The first was the Society of Antiquarians in Scotland in 1780 which organised itself around a museum in Edinburgh, a city which then prided itself as an intellectual powerhouse in its own right. Indeed it liked to call itself the “Athens of the North”. Next came the American Antiquarian Society in 1812 founded by Isaiah Thomas, a printer, publisher and flag-waver for American independence. Across the Channel, La Societe Nationale des Antiquaires de France was formed just two years later, followed at regular intervals by equivalent bodies in Germany, Ireland and Denmark and other European nations. In principle, nothing has changed in the last 300 years. A silver mace is still laid before the president, minutes are composed in manuscript and officers continue to be elected every April 23, St. George’s Day. Most importantly, the original goals have been preserved. Today’s fellows are engaged, as they always were, in “the
“You would think an organisation would be slowing down a bit after 300 years. Not a bit of it, the society is as gungho as ever for a fight. One fellow is agitating to keep an English-made, 14 century astrolabe in Britain. Another urges the government to appoint an historian to every department on the grounds that “only by studying the past will we be able to avoid repeating its mistakes
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encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of antiquities and history in this and other countries.” In short, the fellows look firmly backwards, and proud of it. “Fossils looking at fossils”, jokes Starkey. You would think an organisation would be slowing down a bit after 300 years. Not a bit of it, the society is as gung-ho as ever for a fight. One fellow is agitating to keep an English-made, 14th century astrolabe in Britain. Another urges the government to appoint an historian to every department on the grounds that “only by studying the past will we be able to avoid repeating its mistakes.” Others are engaged in an eight-year battle for a tunnel to route highway traffic away from Stonehenge so a new visitor centre could be build there. (Dr. Stukeley is dancing in his grave.) But the long-term conflict, as it has always been, is about preservation. “An appetite for the fight is as necessary now as it was in the past,” said fellow Sir Simon Jenkins at the tercentenary dinner in a ringing endorsement of the society’s values. “We are facing a tsunami of change from the governing classes who demand our complicity and who are producing draconian planning legislation to get their way. It is a battle we must win for the benefit of society and for the sake of our countryside, uplands, coastline and historic urban landscapes.” So still basically a bunch of rebels. Just what we need. n
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e n i g a Im o N s ’ e Ther … n e v a e H
im? Back To Bite H e m o C s ic r y L on’s Did John Lenn
ROLLAN McCLEARY is no stranger to controversy. The Irish-born Australian with a doctorate in gay spirituality from the University of Queensland hit world headlines five years ago after New Zealand’s Hazard Press published his book suggesting Jesus Christ might have been gay. Now, he’s back with a provocative new thesis – that a vision of former Beatle John Lennon in Hell, experienced by a group of South American Christians, is real, and intended as a “sign” for humanity of what’s to come
s John Lennon in hell? The question gets periodically asked on the Net, with more than half a million page references listed by Google. But whoever asks such a question? And why ask if you can’t be sure of the answer or even trace the source of alleged dramatic claims about a Beatle’s afterlife? Actually, beyond the rumours there is a real source. And what prompts me to give reply – of sorts – to the question and highlight a real mystery around an iconic figure arises from attempts to supply a test and impose some order on a new or renewed phenomenon. The phenomenon is the growing spate of heaven and hell visions offering “evidence” for an afterlife. Of widely varying interest and value these have nevertheless been getting either published in the mainstream – bestselling vampire novelist, Anne Rice, has called Howard Storm’s My Descent into Death (2006) a book “everyone” should read – or reported on the Net. Now Tony Lawrence, a psychologist in Coventry, England, is to make the first “scientific” study of negative N.D.E.s (Near Death Experiences) in which, modern secularism and rationalism despite, unsuspecting people visit hell or fight being dragged there by demons. Lawrence’s inquiry follows in the line of the writings of former atheist
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because people claim visions including of a Beatle in hell we don’t have to believe them. At best such witness can be treated as new apocrypha. There could nonetheless be value in assessing them, not just scientifically but religiously. Yet this is something hardly done, perhaps because many churches today ignore or deny hell.
cardiologist, Maurice Rawlings, who in his groundbreaking Beyond Death’s Door (1979) recorded instances of patients reporting hell visions on the verge of death, a very different testimony from the blissful experiences emphasized in especially New Age writings. (Pioneering N.D.E. researchers like Kubler-Ross controversially excluded Rawlings’ evidence as too upsetting). The negative data remind one of the rather psychic visions of early Celtic saints who reported angelic/demonic battles around some souls just departed the body. As Lawrence realizes, hell testimonies are complicated by the fact those reporting them aren’t necessarily obvious sinners. If these visions aren’t purely illusory then, religiously at least, this looks like a situation that could link to traditional claims about right attitudes, beliefs and relation to God (not just deeds) affecting whatever happens beyond death. Obviously even the most compelling visions aren’t holy writ. Just 50 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE VISION JOURNEY Assuming that most contemporary visions represent vivid experiences of some kind and not just people’s tall tales or “lying visions” as the Bible might call them, some basic considerations would surely be: 1) Is a given vision to be understood more as an out-of- body journey to real places or visionary/allegorical symbolization of what such places/states are essentially about? (This seems like a major question). 2) In heaven/hell journeys are we seeing elements influenced (even contaminated) by readings of Dante and various medieval visions of torment and bliss? 3) Yet should similarity of report be an automatic disqualification? It could be confirmation of something. Archetypal factors can be present. Heavens and hells exist in world myth and the collective unconscious. As such they are waiting to be picked up and embroidered upon. 4) But are what looks like embellishments of core vision memory distortions or ideas added to suit church, sect or even aesthetic necessity like Dante who claimed to have been permitted to glimpse heaven but whose Paradiso consciously invents most of its details? Thus a Korean visionary (Choo Thomas in Heaven is So Real, 2003) who says a lot of unlikely things and has clearly taken Calvinistic ideas too seriously, can report seeing her mother (a good woman suffering illness throughout life) damned simply because she never heard about Jesus. While this fits narrowest Augustinian/Calvinistic beliefs which could even have children in hell, (something modern visionaries seem agreed in denying occurs) this contradicts wider scriptural witness like Corinthian Christians baptized for dead forebears (1.Cor 15:29) or St Paul saying times of ignorance God overlooked (Acts 17:30) or that the ignorant may be excused or justified by their thoughts (Rom 2:15 ). 5) Distortion can equally run in New Age, secularist or merely convenient directions. I even recall some years back the case of a boy who returned from death and telling the press he’d met Jesus then telling a TV show a month later he’d met “a wizard”. Yet with all caveats admitted there comes a point where readers
may be forced to admit something significant is getting reported even if they can’t understand what. If a clinically dead person reports their spirit body floated to the next floor ward and witnessed things medical staff there were verifiably doing or saying, evidence for something must be accepted. Some have their lives changed by N.D.E.s – Howard Storm was a rank atheist before the events described in My Descent into Death so altered him he became a pastor and missionary. AN IMPORTANT TEST So, beyond requiring high levels of consistency, here’s a test. When visionaries allege they entered other worlds they are most likely conveying truth if they can tell us something unexpected later found to be true. It’s here something nags me regarding claims around John Lennon and despite the fact the main vision that declares on his fate is not above criticism as regards what I call “contamination”. While I could hope the cited vision’s claims about Lennon are untrue – I didn’t approach this subject with the biases of a serious fan or detractor of Lennon but just curiosity – my treatment can be taken as an example of a way to read evidence in a little charted territory.
Hell proves as richly varied as Dante’s inferno (had they as Catholics been influenced by that?) and the colourful variety alone could make it seem unbiblical enough to be questionable. However as Jesus tells them, even this hell (whose tormenting variety for all we are informed may have been the devil’s invention) is only temporary. It’s not the real and final item but awaits to be thrown into Gehenna, the lake of fire (as per Rev.20:14). It’s not explained why the demons the group see are free to torment inhabitants of the abyss (shouldn’t the demons themselves be punished?) but other contemporary visions do this. (Demons supposedly vent hatred of God upon the humanity formed in his image and are free to do so prior to the Last judgment). The Colombians reveal souls suffer through an aura-like “body of death” assumed on entry to hell. JOHN LENNON IN A HOT VALLEY So on the group’s journey John Lennon is seen caught in a thoroughly Dantesque section of the Inferno described as “the valley of the cauldrons”. There, with millions of others from across time, he is seen disintegrating and reforming much like a Dali picture (his favourite artist incidentally) yet able to observe the terrified visitors and Jesus to whom he calls out. Unlike the mostly calm Dante with Virgil the Colombians report screaming and wailing their way through the inferno beseeching Jesus not to let them see what they witness. (Whoever imagined the redeemed enjoy viewing the tortures of the lost or that the saved would have heaven spoiled by its opposite? Once in heaven with its many fascinations it’s cheerfully stated: “the horrors of hell were soon forgotten”, a contrast to those whose journey only encompasses a hell from which they suffer months of trauma). If one takes this vision – truly the Dantesque experience for postmoderns! – seriously it may seem a curious detail that unlike other individuals met it’s not stated for
A TRIP FROM COLOMBIA TO HELL The source for the vision that no one seems to know is Latin American. Its story that includes on Lennon emerges through recorded interviews translated at: http://www.spiritlessons.com/ Documents/7_Jovenes/English_7_Jovenes_Heaven.htm. The seven Colombian visionaries truly exist and have their own (Spanish language) website at: http://www.minluznaciones.org/ This includes a You Tube clip of a TV interview with the group. I have deliberately not contacted the seven who don’t yet know the strange and distinctly sinister facts with which I conclude. Back in 1995 (the date of “In 1995 Lennon was fifteen years dead and not April 11th around 10am is given) particularly newsworthy. And wouldn’t there be a group of young Colombian Christians – recent converts enough figures from Nero to Hitler (not to say from Catholicism by the sound colourful Latin American dictators) for imaginative of it – are preparing for a picnic minds to pick out without once thinking of Lennon? and say prayers before departing. The picnic never eventuates. Suddenly a brilliant light shines through the window and not only are they surprised by the what, principally, Lennon, is stuck in perdition. (Unbelief, “sorSpirit falling on them so that they speak in tongues but Jesus then cery”, immorality?). What’s definite is that Jesus turns away from appears and declares he will lead all seven on a journey through hell Lennon apparently without the feelings of pity Sandra reports Jesus to heaven. Jesus says they must witness hell because even Christians as directing towards a trapped alcoholic and others. I return to this have ceased to believe in its terrible reality and they must warn and what gets said later in trying to assess probability and “justice” the world in the approach to apocalypse. Suggestive rather of out- in the case of Lennon. of- body spirit journeys almost shamanic style than trance/visions Why do I hesitate over this bizarre tale which could seem, and a kind of funnel appears in the floor through which the group be, fantasy born of some collective hallucination? Apart from the descends to the abyss. chilling facts with which I conclude it’s because the report fits my Despite their pieties, the seven are not saints, mystics or theolo- rule of the unexpected. In 1995 Lennon was fifteen years dead and gians but average Latin Americans – or just human beings. Terrified not particularly newsworthy. And wouldn’t there be enough figures and confused they can’t begin to take it all in. One chica hasn’t real- from Nero to Hitler (not to say colourful Latin American dictaized hell isn’t purgatory and purgatory isn’t in the Bible. An older tors) for imaginative minds to pick out without once thinking of group member has earlier had an affair with consequences and Lennon? Whereas other shades seen in hell could more easily be will meet his aborted offspring as a child growing in heaven. One deemed products of the group’s imagination or “contamination” chico, Lupe, imagines judgment Day must have begun so that as of a genuine vision, with Lennon we have a known person, imperthey proceed he is begging Jesus to forgive his sins as he fears he fect, but not most people’s most obvious inhabitant of hell. So, the can only finish up with the souls he’s being shown. specificity itself is noteworthy. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 51
It’s also peculiar for religious reasons even assuming Christian pictures of judgment rather traditionally and literally. One reason to question the Lennon claim would be because he had been taken from life fairly young and quickly, murdered, which to some degree could increase the grounds for mercy. But I also vaguely recalled some tale of reconciliation with God, even reports of being “born again” under the influence of Billy Graham whom Lennon had been watching on TV. If even I, no Beatles aficionado, managed to know this one imagines such details would have filtered through to people of distinctly evangelical persuasion and it would surely make them try to keep a much loved figure out of hell. Whatever, then, were these Colombians on about? Though the Beatles’ heyday was before their time were they taking extreme and belated fundamentalist revenge for Lennon’s references to the Beatles being more famous than Jesus? One of the group mentions that matter but goes much further. He refers to the Beatles as a “Satanic” group. But had their influence really been satanic? This struck me as fanatic, a sign the vision was either false or severely “contaminated” perhaps by American missionary ideas – which it’s likely to be as regards its comments about tithing. Yet remaining curious anyone could even think such things I put in just a little research. When I did my easy convictions began to unwind a little and the mystery only deepened and finally I should even say it’s upon its claim about Lennon that the authenticity of the vision chiefly stands or falls.
From a certain point of view, then, Lennon’s thoughts ran from one denial, dismissal and defiance of things divine to another and even from earliest years – by eleven he’d been debarred from church choir for constant profanities (Rock Lives, 1996) though before this he’d almost lived in church and at art school he would make obscene Jesus images. As regards the Beatles more widely, though not overtly either atheistic or satanic as such, one must absorb that due solely to Lennon’s fellow Beatle George Harrison’s financial support the otherwise rejected, Life of Brian film, which makes light of Christ’s life, got before the public. It has helped to reduce respect for Jesus in society; its crucifixion song, “Always look on the Bright Side” almost become a British anthem. Harrison himself opted (in JudaeoChristian terms) for the idolatries of Hare Krishna cult. Lennon critics like to cite the Beatles’ Press Officer, Derek Taylor: “They’re [the Beatles] completely anti-Christ. I mean, I am anti-Christ as well, but they’re so anti-Christ they shock me which isn’t an easy thing” (Saturday Evening Post, August 8-15, 1964, p. 25). Interestingly, the Colombian vision dates from 1995, i.e. many years before the true and detailed story of Lennon’s religious development came out. It has only now been recorded in any detail in Steve Turner’s recent, The Gospel According to the Beatles 2006). In the wake of admitting to evangelist, Oral Roberts, that he wanted freedom from “a drug hell” it emerges there was a Lennon “born again” phase, even to the point of church going and witnessing for A SATANIC INFLUENCE? and writing songs about Jesus in a way astonishing to friends and Satanic? What about the fact that Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts unacceptable to Yoko Ono. Ono, who had opposed her second Club Band had presented arch Satanist, Aleister Crowley, to the husband’s conversion to Christianity, was/is herself obsessively into public as one of the “people we like” and had helped make him certain varieties of the occult i.e. what Revelation would designate and perhaps Satanism respectable? For the Yellow Submarines pic- “sorcery” (Rev 22:15). In her globetrotting quests for rituals and ture Lennon has provocatively put his hand into the mano cornuta magical artifacts Colombia was a port of call where Ono consulted devil’s salute as though to make the point, (even if only jokingly). witches (she now calls herself a witch) and threw out US$60,000 What about the rather insulting lines of Lennon’s 1970 “God” lyric, for elaborate rites culminating in the magical sacrifice of a dove. “[I] Don’t believe in Hitler, don’t believe in Jesus” (as though there Ono worked on Lennon’s chief doubt which had been regarding Christ’s divinity, a subject about which she and Lennon engaged passionate argument “The more famous Imagine lyric invited imagining including with Norwegian no heaven or hell to exist but instead a utopia that missionaries. The upshot is that under his wife’s arguably would implicitly exclude God (though Lennon controlling influence Lennon himself said he believed God was in everyone and lost or denied his new faith apparently to the point he was that half of him believed he was God Almighty) joking about the crucifixion at a re-run of the Zefferelli Jesus was some reason to mention the two together) and the sugges- of Nazareth film that had earlier been a factor in his conversion. tion God is “a concept by which we measure our pain”. The more In a tirade against Christianity he declared himself a “born-again famous Imagine lyric invited imagining no heaven or hell to exist pagan” and his final belief system appears to have been some but instead a utopia that would implicitly exclude God (though form of paganism. His reclusive last years included a lot of mediLennon himself said he believed God was in everyone and that half tation and fasting sessions towards becoming a psychic-cumof him believed he was God Almighty). guru with messages for the world, an aim he had given up on Commenting on the enormous popularity of Imagine, Lennon later only in the last few rather peaceful months before his death, but said the song was “an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conven- both he and Ono were deeply into the occult. tional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it’s sugar-coated, it’s accepted.” He’s also described it as “virtually the Communist Manifesto”. BAD STRIKES FOR LENNON? The later, less famous and very dark Serve Yourself lyric was a If we accept this picture as true then things become more seridenial Jesus or anyone could save us. These kind of overt decla- ous in strictly Christian terms. In another context than Lennon, rations could be said to fall foul of gospel warnings to the effect the visionaries mention seeing (but possibly influenced by bibthat those who deny Christ before the world will be denied before lical statements about those who fall from grace Heb.10:26-27), God (Mt.10:33). that worse perdition is reserved for those who deny a faith once 52 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
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WHICH HELL AND WHOSE? In effect the issue is more complex than such popularized either/ors make it and one must at least try to grasp the logic and background of the beliefs involved no matter what one concludes. One point much overlooked in theology of recent centuries (which seems to put responsibility for just about everything onto God!) is how much the increasingly ignored and disbelieved in devil and evil generally could be responsible for the nature of any hell in a free will universe complicating things by dismissing traditional beliefs that Christ “ransomed us from Satan’s power” as the carols have it. However even an “almighty” God is necessarily somewhat self-limited by the existence of the free will which must allow evil (temporary) scope. Because God is portrayed as having the last word at a Last judgment the common, but surely false, idea is that God therefore wants, (even sits around inventing!) punishments for offences to himself. Yet it’s specifically stated God wants no one to suffer perdition (2 Pet 3:9) and hell was only reserved/made for the devil and fallen angels (Matt 25:41), not humanity. One of the Colombians makes the point : “Many of us on Earth think there’s a God up there, just waiting for us to commit a sin, so He can WOULD HELL MAKE GOD A COSMIC SADIST? punish us and send us to hell. But that’s not the reality”. Yet if hell Even given traditional reasons for the Colombian visionaries to like the one the Colombians visited and saw Lennon exists, what see John Lennon in hell, the real issue for us reading their con- would be the reality? fronting testimony today is this: wouldn’t God be merely a cosmic The more subtle truth, the subtext, seems to be that while God sadist to leave anyone to roast for eternity? If God is love? As Jung may pronounce the final doom (formalizing it, so to speak, and pointed out: on one side a sea of grace and on the other a lake of because God has the last word in everything), within a free will fire. Whatever is this about? universe for the time being the forces of evil can pretty much A familiar, rather pat, “shut you up” kind of answer is, God is love take and do what they like with whoever doesn’t choose God. If but he’s also holy, his holiness can’t stand sin so “justice” against the God is life and heaven, the Satan is death and hell. Recall that the rebellion sin represents must be satisfied. Sin destroys the fabric of picture Christianity inherits and develops from Judaism is of a life so God must destroy who and whatever destroys life….. OK, Satan (the accuser), rather as depicted in the Book of Job, claiming rights against individuals. He/she is only freed from the death principle (which sin/evil “The official Lennon website citing Lennon says most essentially represents and he loved to sleep because it gave him opportunity invokes) by death itself (of sacto visit the worlds of Hieronymos Bosch and Dali rificial animals under one dispensation, of the Christ under that mainly composed his dreams. Bosch is not another). just surrealistic but quite hellish, so is this where Especially if the Satan has claims, then, as numbers of Lennon liked to visit? thinkers have periodically maintained, to that extent people but, please!... God may indeed require holiness and some sins wreak could damn themselves by explicit or implicit refusal of whatever terrible havoc, and most people probably wouldn’t mind if Hitler God represents. This would also mean that once passed from the went to hell and/or that there was some kind of judgment rather divine sphere to its opposite no further protection, (such as even the than none to make justice. But what about the many ethically and half- way house of present life affords) is possible. Divine “wrath” spiritually middling cases? Do you mean God can’t stand souls fall- itself is really divine withdrawal, a refusal to prevent evil’s natural ing short to the point he would have them tortured beyond any- course. While any pains of hell are obviously never desired unless thing people have ever tortured anybody, would want to, or even by madmen, the place/state apart from any (active, organizing) could do? Most of the time the theological line runs that God is God is nevertheless where the lost soul may “want” to be. The offiyour parent, your Father (albeit the Bible affirms that more condi- cial Lennon website citing Lennon says he loved to sleep because tionally than some claim – one could, like the Pharisees, be “chil- it gave him opportunity to visit the worlds of Hieronymos Bosch dren of your father the devil”) but this doesn’t square. and Dali that mainly composed his dreams. Bosch is not just surWhat sort of parent if, say, a child broke a toy in a rage would realistic but quite hellish, so is this where Lennon liked to visit? In throw the child out of the house forever and never let the child that case Cauldron Valley sounds as though it might almost suit learn from its mistakes? Isn’t this what’s being claimed for God him! “Where your treasure is there will you heart be also” as the if, despite the reports of overwhelming love, deity can’t toler- gospels tell us (Mt.6:21) ate your errors even one instant? Even granted holiness means Moreover in this place/state the devil would have a free hand, at something religious reasoning has got to be inadequate here! least until such time as he himself is overcome and at least partly possessed. Even if in his heart Lennon didn’t completely do that, mocking the crucifixion bespeaks the bully streak in him – Albert Goldman’s controversial The Lives of John Lennon, 1988, has him mocking cripples and spastics and attacking people in murderous rages. Such behaviour if truly the case only major fame causes to be forgiven and forgotten. God would be less likely to forget and if we are supposed to see Christ in others then to put it mildly it’s the opposite of everything spiritual. The same might, alas, have to be said about Lennon’s moral score card in the sex/marriage stakes since he controversially left a young and devoted wife with a baby for an older twice divorced woman who arranged a mistress for him because the marriage proved so tempestuous. Prior to marriage prostitutes featured widely in the picture. Clearly Lennon was no saint. Yet even if Lennon’s character left much to be desired does it make sense if he’s in perdition ? For moderns the credibility of hell is a major question and can people respect, love or believe in a God to whom the idea of anything like a literal and eternal damnation is attributed?
54 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
by his own derivative nature and hence self contradictions. The devil in his “bottomless pit” represents eternal fall, dynamic withdrawal into nothingness. So the satanic pleasure is to be revenged on God through what reflects the divine image, namely humanity. So instead of love hell presents you the torments devised by hate. Such at any rate would be stage one of a perdition process visionaries claim to see in their hell inside the earth. Then too, the Colombians’ record of a divided Christ, pitying the damned yet accepting that they must be so (because at some deep level it’s effectively their choice?) becomes consistent and plausible in its way. This could perhaps explain what’s most difficult and unacceptable in the Columbians’ report about Lennon. He sees Jesus and reportedly calls out: “Lord have mercy! Lord give me a chance! Lord take me out of this place!” But the Lord Jesus didn’t want to look at him. Jesus simply turned his back on him. When Jesus did this, the man started to curse and to blaspheme the Lord” .���������������������� But if this is true, why would Jesus, who has at least muted sympathy for others encountered, turn away from Lennon? Cynics would say it’s hardly surprising Lennon curses Christ – being in his state so ignored, why not? If Jesus were only human he would have reason to reject the Lennon who mocked even his crucifixion but Jesus is not just human. So dismissal would presumably represent the impossibility of doing anything about a perdition linked to a fixed attitude in someone perhaps also judged a false prophet to his generation. In Jesus’ horror parable of the beggar Lazarus and Dives the rich man in Hades (Lk 16), in calling for relief noticeably Dives expects Lazarus to fetch him water like a servant. There is neither remorse expressed for having made Lazarus’ life living hell nor recognition God has rewarded Lazarus; ethical/spiritual blindness has become fixed. If Lennon did call out to Jesus as reported noticeably it’s without stated regret for having mocked Jesus from childhood onwards; Christ merely exists to get him out. But without repentance no deliverance. There is nothing Jesus can now do, only a warning he can give via revelation of Lennon’s situation. So Jesus passes on presumably and tragically, forever… except that hell itself must die. Lennon’s cauldron isn’t forever even if perdition itself is, a theme which gives us more problems to be briefly metaphysical about before I supply the final shocking facts that deepen mystery around this horror vision.
FIRES OF WHICH KIND AND SOURCE? Once the devil and hell are overcome there’s said to be only Gehenna, the lake of fire. What might this truer hell, the “second death” mean? Arguably it’s linked to the fact that the eternal God is himself portrayed as “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29). He’s also portrayed as other things including refreshing rains but water is what no one gets in hell. To exist at all beings must exist through God and to that extent are always part of God; even not wanting God they must experience the Absolute somehow, somewhere. And eternity is an eternal present, not ongoing time. A Gehenna that swallows Hades, depriving any devils their power within it and resolves everything into an eternal present could even be considered a mercy of sorts. What’s certain is that God won’t suicide over evil nor annihilate some individuals while preserving others. Indeed, God being Life cannot annihilate anyone. God is not a murderer and death itself is only a change of state. God can only banish those who don’t choose the divine to some furthest reaches from the divine, a place where those who likewise don’t choose God can behave as they will and apparently do. The intrinsically immortal human species must remain in existence somewhere and hell sounds like experiencing eternal deity as fire eternally but nothing else. Other than fire hell is the precise opposite, or absence, of whatever God is. So if God is love, hell is hate, if heaven is commuINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 55
nion, hell is solitary confinement, if heaven is peaceful and super fragrant (as the Colombian visionaries report) hell is a shrieking bedlam and stinks. THE NECESSARY ROLE OF OPPOSITES This play of opposites perhaps explains why the Colombians and others can report such extremes of bliss and torment. Hell and the place of such as Lennon within it sounds so ghastly one asks couldn’t God tone it down? But perhaps not. That would require God modify divine qualities that heaven contains so, if God is fire, fire is what you will have to feel. Moreover once outside the corporal into the infinite it seems the soul (subtle body/aura or whatever one calls it), will experience each pleasure or pain sensation more keenly. That point gets made by individuals with no interest in Christian afterlife zones like Rosleen Norton, Sydney ’s notorious witch, who described her astral travelling to a psychologist as experience greatly magnifying whatever we normally experience (Pan’s Daughter, 1993). Numbers of contemporary hell visions supply rather standard information about who’s stuck there, information that maybe comes 56 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
out of the last sermon or undue absorption with the vice lists of St Paul’s epistles themselves modelled on the work of moralists of his period. This isn’t to say that under the scriptural rules such as drunkards, murderers and seducers (the Colombians report on such) wouldn’t qualify to be where they’re reported to be. Even so, I think reading enough visions might leave one with the impression it’s especially vice with attitude that insures the perdition. It’s not just what people do but what they intend and think that’s involved – as even St Paul mentions regarding Gentiles in ignorance (Rom 2:13). This in turn reflects Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats which appears to suggest there is always an implicit acceptance or refusal of Christ through deeds and attitudes. So, one notices it’s especially those who like the attitude-ridden Lennon deny, defy or challenge God or conscience who seem at especial risk. Again, not perhaps because God seeks vengeance on them but because the attitude aligns their souls more closely with the dark side that claims it for itself. AN AUTOMATIC PRODUCTION OF HELL Finally on the justice theme for Lennon and others I have this
idea. Dualistic thought patterns which separate thought and action imagine God as sitting down and throughout history working out punishments for sinners with specific vengeance for lack of belief, holiness or whatever. Some hell visions, including the Colombians’ strain credulity and are problematic for Inquisition-like variety. Whatever, we shouldn’t think of God within infinity acting in terms of our finite experience of time, nor even imagine that God “thinks”. God acts rather in accordance with divine nature immediately and spontaneously. Any divine “thought” is like a reflex action that’s part of a larger whole. Which surely means any heaven/hell for souls would spring into existence as a sort of indivisible recto/verso of a single page. God would not so much invent hell bit by cruel bit as that certain attitudes towards God invoke certain responses and infinity negatively. In their production they trigger a creation of hell which is the experience of God negatively then demonically amplified. “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). One doesn’t stand in the way of a hurricane nor if one is sensible, call a hurricane “evil” simply because it can do you harm. Since God is not measurable by human standards neither are heaven or hell. You maybe just need to count on such incommensurables and negotiate accordingly. Lennon who “imagined” no heaven or hell and told society so to imagine failed to do that, blocking his own spiritual development and perhaps that of his generation – for which he must take some responsibility. May God rest John Lennon’s soul. Though the more one learns the less attractive Lennon seems to become one may hope he isn’t in a bad place. And we can, to be generous, assume some of his attitudes resulted from childhood traumas. But we must also allow the visionaries, whose hell vision one can neither like nor enjoy, could be right and practically – and my starting point was practical – if we want to assess visions we must start by demanding consistency. So I find an element of troubling consistency in this story. I also find troublingly exact consistencies of another kind in support of the Colombians’ claims even if it’s not the kind of support they and others might care to acknowledge… SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF A HELL JOURNEY. To follow culture historian, Richard Tarnas, who traces religious movements against planetary cycles (Cosmos and Psyche, 2006) the season would foster revelations. Indeed just April ’95’s aspects of Pluto to Uranus alone would carry explosive visionary potential. Uranus (anything to do with the Spirit) had recently entered its natural sign, surprising Aquarius, exactly aspecting Pluto in the religions associated sign, Sagittarius. As the vision commences, the timing/trigger moon has just entered Virgo conjuncting fixed
star, Regulus – helpful for the vision’s fame – and asteroid Logos (Jesus/Logos speaks?). Anyway, this moon in its tension aspect to Uranus/Pluto can release their energies. Recall that just before Jesus appears and the journey begins the group had started to speak in tongues. Suitably, the sign of youth (they’re a youth group) of languages and journeying, Gemini, is rising at 10am. This means the event’s “ruling” factor has to be communicating Mercury. Appropriately it’s making degree perfect aspect to asteroid Beatles. Not surprisingly, a memorable communication of this otherworld journey will concern the Beatles but negatively so since Beatles is closely afflicted by restricting (sometimes Satanic) Saturn. Behind the rising point from the hidden mystical twelfth sector the basis of a remarkable pattern has formed that bespeaks what will shortly happen. Asteroid Paradise, (itself conjunct Joya and joys of Paradise will be revealed) is degree exact challengingly opposite Isa (Arabic for Jesus) and making close aspect to the hell asteroid, Hella. Since the ruling Mercury factor is associated with two of anything unlike most people experiencing other worlds the group can visit both heaven and hell. Interestingly too, since the group report a golden cross in the sky of heaven as a reminder of how and why they can enter paradise, noticeably Paradise falls in the same degree as Saturn at the time of Christ’s crucifixion (something as theologian and astrologer I claim to know though I’m unable to get media or publishing to look into it). So we’re looking at a crucifixion degree. Actually, other features I’ll omit link the time to Christ very fittingly for a Christ epiphany. However, clinching the pattern as easily its most controversial, bone-chilling feature, is this. The Christ asteroid, Christa (asteroids were traditionally named in the feminine form) not only exactly aspects Luce (light) in line with Jesus’ reported arrival appearance, but closely conjuncts asteroid, Lennon in the death/hell eighth house besides, a house that manages at this time to turn up besides what’s called the Arabic Part of Revelation . So the company reveal Jesus encountered Lennon in hell that day. They also maintain Jesus turned away from him. Why? Because Lennon is in extremely close denial square to the Sun (21.17 Capricorn to 21.16 Aries) and in this pattern the sun, besides generally signifying light and life, “rules” the 3rd sector of walking and talking. So Christ refuses to talk and walks away. By implication forever….ominously, asteroid Semper (Lat: always/forever) makes denying aspect to Lennon and the Sun. There’s something else. Pluto, planet of death and transformation, takes a slow 248 years to circle the zodiac. At Lennon’s birth his name asteroid stood at 0.03 Sagittarius. In April ‘95 Pluto was minutes from exact conjunction with Lennon implying something could happen that bright April day which could somehow transform his image for ever. But what if he was fifteen years dead? Will it have been the Colombian event? Far from Penny Lane in the smoke of an unimaginable place did Jesus turn away from Lennon? The skies imply the visionaries haven’t merely invented. No matter what one decides as regards the literal truth of all or parts of the Colombians’ vision it hauntingly remains like an enacted parable denying the Lennon worldview “no hell beneath, above us only sky”. The seven fall into a hell presently in the centre of the earth and rise to a heaven spiritually located wherever in or beyond our universe. The core message of their vision is surely to stop “imagining” and get real to the life of the soul which is not about “all the people living for today” but rather people living for eternity. n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 57
think life | money
One helluva ride Financial commentator Peter Hensley watches as the chickens of less savvy investors come home to roost
In Warren Buffett’s 2007 annual letter to his investors he stated amongst other things that five years previously he purchased a company called Gen Re. Gen Re at the time insured bond issues. It had and still has an AAA credit rating. In the USA if a local county (district council) wanted to borrow money from the public by issuing a bond they could do it in one of two ways. They could issue a prospectus and rely on their own credit rating or they could insure their bond with a company with a higher credit rating. The council could then rely on the credit rating of the bond insurance company and thus reduce the coupon interest that would have to pay on the loan. The council would pay the insurance company a fee, which was lower than the savings they would make by paying a lower rate of interest and everybody was happy. The council received the money for the new water treatment plant and were not paying an unduly high interest rate for the money. The investors were happy because they had 58 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
loaned their money to a local government body who had the foresight to insure the repayment of the loan though a reputable third party. The insurance contracts are known as credit default swaps or CDS’s. From 2001 until 2006 Warren Buffett’s company, Gen Re reduced its exposure to CDS’s from 23,218 to just 197. They sold these contracts on the open market and in his 2007 letter to shareholders Mr Buffett apologised to his investors for losing $400 million. If they only knew how good a deal this would turn out to be. Over the same time period, the bond insurance companies took to insuring interest payments on CDO’s and CDO’s squared. The number of issuances to market of these new synthetic bonds was beyond anybody’s expectations. Bill Gross, the CEO of the largest bond manager in the world – PIMCO – states in his January 08 client newsletter: “According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), CDS totalling $43 trillion were outstanding at year end 2007, more
than half the size of the entire asset base of the global banking system. Total derivatives amount to over $500 trillion, many of them finding their way onto the balance sheets of SIVs, CDOs and other conduits of their ilk comprising the Frankensteinian levered body of shadow banks.” Now $43 trillion is a large number in anybody’s book. And a large amount has been insured by major bond re-insurers. The dominoes are starting to fall. The credit agencies are re-rating the bond insurance companies, once this happens the bonds they have insured also suffer the same reduction in credit rating. ACA Financial Guaranty Corp, a large bond insurer has recently seen its credit rating reduced from A to CCC, which virtually puts it out of business because no-one is going to pay it a fee and have their bond issue rated as junk. Its listed capital is shown as $425 million and it has insured $69 billion worth of bonds. Note that is billion with a “B”. Ambac Financial Group (another bond
insurer) has recently had its credit rating drop two notches from AAA to AA, however it relies on its AAA rating for business. In the middle of 2007 its share price was $96 a share, at the time this article was drafted it had dropped to $6.20. In a recent quote about another bond insurer MBIA, this from Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital, author of the regular and highly respected HCM Letter. “MBIA’s total exposure to bonds backed by mortgages and CDOs was disclosed to be $30.6 billion, including $8.14 billion of holdings of CDO-squared (CDOs that own other CDOs, or mortgages piled on top of mortgages, or, to quote Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park again, ‘a big pile of s***’). MBIA was being priced as a weak CCC-rated credit when it issued its bonds last week; it is now being priced for a bankruptcy. MBIA’s stock, which traded just under $68 per share last October, dropped another $3.50 this morning to under $10.00 per share The impact of these dominoes falling are being reflected in the unit prices of synthetic bond funds around the world. Fixed interest bond funds full of AAA rated insured bonds was music to the ears of punters looking for a safe place to invest. For the past decade they had been bashed around by turbulent
international share markets and punished by irrational exchange rates which always seem to adjust returns downwards. Now the bashings of punters have recommenced and it looks like they will continue unabated. What had been sold as safe, low risk AAA rated bonds which were insured by large well capitalised AAA rated US companies are turning out to be just the opposite. The attempts of modern day Alchemists, masquerading as new age bond managers, are being reflected in rapidly reducing unit prices of hi-yield diversified bond funds. But the dominoes have further to fall.
public would adopt them as quickly and as enthusiastically as they did. Mr Buffett’s company Gen Re is likely to see an un-crowded market place when cash strapped municipalities start looking to borrow money from the investing public. They will very likely emerge to be one of the winners from this restructure. The implosion of this credit market is in its early stage. The initial impact and fall out will be reflected in the balance sheets of banks and financial institutions around the world. The shock waves from these credit write downs are yet to be fully
“What the legislators don’t know is that their economy has already been on serious steroids for the past decade. Addicts know that the effect of each stimulus reduces over time New age synthetic bonds were sold to endowment funds and institutions around the world as AAA credit paper. Re-pricing of this paper will take years. Initially the financial institutions will feel the brunt of the losses, but it won’t end there. It took well over a decade for these new age bonds to infiltrate global financial markets and the creators of the initial CDO’s could not have dreamt that the investing
felt. The US Government is drafting emergency legalisation to provide its economy with a fiscal stimulus. What the legislators don’t know is that their economy has already been on serious steroids for the past decade. Addicts know that the effect of each stimulus reduces over time. A slowing economy combined with a serious injection of inflation is good for the price of gold. Sit back and watch it shine.
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”
think life | EDUCATION
Whose children? Amy Brooke asks, when are New Zealand parents going to claim back their children? The great G.K Chesterton reminds us that “it ought to be the oldest things that are taught to the youngest people.” This wise comment should not only lead us to take the time to think about its meaning: it also illuminates the mischief-making of our either utterly inadequate, or worryingly malevolent education system, long controlled by those who regard a teacher actually teaching as “imposing” on pupils. I use the word, malevolent, deliberately. It has long been the mad or bad mantra of the Wellington education bureaucracy that knowledge is out, skills are in – that all learning should be child-centered: children should merely be shown how to access any information they may need. This same bureaucracy even deliberately withheld the teaching of phonic reading (later lying about this), so that children were no longer taught the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. I can’t think of a way more deliberately designed to condemn confused children to huge problems with learning to read – and this was what lay ahead, of course. Thousands of young New Zealanders, failing to master even this basic skill, were finally, and too late for many – directed into Reading Recovery programmes – with no realistic consideration given to why they 60 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
had failed – no acknowledgement by the education comptrollers of the underlying problem. Naturally, educationist Marie Clay, who devised the ridiculous displacement activity of flashing one-word cards at bemused children to memorise – e.g. elephant...elephant...elephant… known as – Look and Say, or the jargonized Whole Language Reading – was made a Dame, while the brave, well-qualified Doris Ferry of Raumati, long fighting the establishment to successfully teach phonic reading to hundreds of discarded youngsters, was ostracized in her lifetime. The big question is – was the bureaucracy just stupid? Or did it have an agenda? And in the writings of those who have so long been leading its directions, this agenda of neo-
Marxism was well and truly laid out; promoted by tenacious Labour governments; insufficiently challenged by largely ignorant, and captured National Party Ministers of Education; and promoted by the stupid – i.e. the well-meaning majority of teachers and apparatchiks who can always be relied upon to follow an authoritative-sounding voice. Some fought on and still do, isolated by their compliant peers. Many others left in despair, targeted by some of the inspectorate and threatened with no future promotion – or because they could not bring themselves to short-change the youngsters they wanted to actually teach. The abysmal literacy standards of many New Zealanders, including television and radio journalists, broadcasters, commenta-
libraries’ traditional “It has been a social spurious New Zealand role of “warehousing indigenous culture – large book collections” crime for state schools books in excellent nevertheless finds that to deliberately withhold repair that will never not only school pupils, be reprinted, apparbut most older stu- from our young that deep ently because they dents, exhibit “erratic knowledge which a society retain those links with information browsing our forebears that the behaviour, visiting must pass on to remain radical Left, long only a few web pages, civilized – and centered dominating our instiand spending little tutions, is anxious to time reading their discard. contents.” Google and Yahoo are the only It has been a social crime for state schools ports of call in searching for information. to deliberately withhold from our young Not only do our young spend little time that deep knowledge which a society must evaluating information for relevance, accu- pass on to remain civilized – and cenracy or authority: they also show minimal tered. At the very least, it is extraordinary capacity to evaluate the contents of what behaviour by educationists – supposedly they find, wanting simplistic solutions to appointed to teach youngsters the basic their study needs. skills of literacy and numeracy. These are In the jargon of the report, what these merely the doorway into a world of knowlchildren show is that they lack “a mental edge that encapsulates the best of what has map of the information landscape.” In other been thought and said by those ancestors words, they are untaught; simply regurgi- of the mind that belong to all races, all cultate the contents of pages they skim; and tures. This world, now long withheld from can’t distinguish a credible information our children, also shows the consequences source from one that isn’t. No surprises in the follies of the past, those of both thinkan age when the inanities ing and doing. of The Da Vinci Code, let But above all, it holds what every avid Our young ... show alone its embarrassingly child reader knows – i.e. those who have minimal capacity to gauche writing, are cred- access to quality reading – to great, imagievaluate the contents of ulously accepted by what native stories, not third-rate, politicized and what they find, wanting used to be called “the trivialized junk reading now unloaded on simplistic solutions to great unwashed” – those them by brainwashed teachers and librartheir study needs without any ability to crit- ians anxious that children prematurely enter ically evaluate and judge, the adult world of “tackling issues” – i.e. let alone possess genuine literacy skills – of being propagandized – while compretoday, both teachers and pupils. hensively cheated of anything remotely We should also note the move to refer approaching a quality education. to pupils as “students” – to give them the Meanwhile, state intrusion into families’ apparent dignity of scholarly individuals, lives creeps on, as fits the Left’s agenda. able to acquire knowledge on their own Noting the new, presented-as-innocuous tors and teachers, whose profession lies in account – rather than youngsters who start proposals that New Zealand children as the field of words, is constantly brought with a blank slate, intellectually, needing to young as three should be “screened” for antisocial behaviour to identify future criminals, home to me, including by former teachers, be systematically taught. The ominous thrust of this report lies we should not only be wary – we should be principals, and recently a school inspector, despairing of either the utter incompetence in its disparaging libraries as mere “ware- outraged. One of the signs of these potential – or the agenda – of government educa- houses” of books, replaceable by simplifying criminals is: “interrupts others when speaktionists. A former teacher, horrified at the access to data for “information consumers” ing”. The brightest, most enthusiastic, sharcontent of a 1963 NZ Teachers Refresher – in other words, people – ignoring the ing child will bubble over into conversation Course, specifies what they were told never to fact that if libraries no longer retain their while others are speaking… But then the smooth-tongued Left has teach. The alphabet, phonics, spelling, hand- role of preserving the supremely important writing, and grammar were outlawed – (ital- heritage of the written word, in tangible always feared the insights of the intelligent. ics mine) combined with the introduction form, there is no other body to do so. The The killing fields of Pol Pot simply carried of 12 new Little Coloured Readers to be report facilely argues that the problems it targeting them to extremes. When, oh when, are New Zealand partaught only in a specific way. The Labour highlights can be solved by simplifying web ents going to claim back their children? Party now expects employers to teach what access procedures. Ominously, New Zealand public libraries www.amybrooke.co.nz its teachers were forbidden to… www.summersounds..co.nz Moreover, a new, confused Guardian are now also discarding thousands of quality http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/ report, while regarding as “redundant” books not regarded as specifically targeted to a INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 61
think life | SCIENCE
Ken Taylor has had easier jobs than this one. It’s not like the good old days chasing rhinos, climbing into bear dens and wrestling beluga whales in shallow water. These days, sitting at a desk as Alaska’s deputy commissioner of fish and game, the veteran wildlife biologist has to muster the best science he can find to argue that Alaska’s polar bears are in good shape and need no special protection from hypothetical doomsday scenarios. This requires Taylor to stand up to the prevailing wisdom about global warming in most of the world’s scientific community and the public – not to mention some pretty strong opinions in his own department. But Taylor, point man on polar bears in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration, argues that the scientific justification simply isn’t there – at least not yet – to declare the polar bear “threatened” and touch off a cascade of effects under the Endangered Species Act. A decision on the bears is expected from the U.S. Department of the Interior in the next few weeks. “From my perspective, it’s very difficult to put a population on the list that’s healthy, based on a projection 45 years into the future,” Taylor says. “That’s really stretching scientific credibility.” The state’s own scientific credibility hasn’t been helped by the fact that the Fish and Game Department no longer has any polar bear experts of its own. Nor did it help that, when state officials found a scientific study reinforcing their polar bear stance, a congressional committee called a hearing to decry “phony science” and Exxon Mobilfunded “climate deniers.” Still, Taylor has helped produce two reports in the past year arguing against an endangered species listing. 62 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Polar bears not doomed Alaska is at loggerheads with the US Government over claims that global warming is endangering polar bears, reports Tom Kizzia from Anchorage The state argues that there’s too much uncertainty about the future of the Arctic ice sheet on which the polar bears depend. Explanations for global warming other than greenhouse gas emissions, such as sun spots and variations in the earth’s orbit, need to
be considered, the state says. And despite experts who call the idea “fanciful,” the state argues that polar bears forced onto land might be able to adapt quickly by eating birds, caribou and other terrestrial species.
“The country is being hit with sky-is-falling-type articles,” says Taylor. “Very little attention is being given to those who say it’s overblown.” Palin is leading the state’s fight. In an oped column in The New York Times earlier this month, she says there is “insufficient evidence” to justify such a listing – an opinion she says was based on “a comprehensive review” of the science by state wildlife officials. With limited peer-reviewed science available that concludes the bears are doing fine, however, the state devotes most of its space to challenging everyone else’s work. That pits Taylor and his staff – and sev-
eral national consultants from the warming-is-overblown camp – against polar bear biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and leading international authorities in the World Conservation Union’s Polar Bear Specialist Group, not to mention the climatologists of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Studies by those scientists contend that Alaska’s polar bear populations are already showing signs of stress and decline linked to summer melting of their ice habitat. Ice shrinkage models suggest that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be gone by the
year 2050. Scientists now say the Arctic ice may be melting even faster than that. The Palin administration’s effort to block action by raising uncertainty has moved the state to the dubious margins of scientific credibility, according to environmentalists. “They’re not presenting a fair picture of the science,” says Deborah Williams, a former Interior Department official who now heads the climate nonprofit Alaska Conservation Solutions. “It’s a terrible disservice, to release something so irresponsibly biased.” National environmental groups sued to prompt the federal endangered-species review. They say the state is giving credibility to industry-funded dissenters whose studies are designed to confuse the public and the press. “The deniers somehow manage to get a very small number of such papers published, and then those who oppose greenhouse gas regulation or protection of the polar bear seize upon them and promote them and ignore the fact that virtually the entire scientific community disagrees with them,” says Kassie Siegel, the climate program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. At stake is the state’s credibility in other areas where a balanced view of science is important, such as predator control and oil spill cleanups, says Rick Steiner, a professor with the University of Alaska Marine Advisory Program. Some might argue, however, that the credibility of environmental groups is what’s really in question. For example, remember that famous photograph of the polar bears stranded on the icebergs, used in Al Gore’s “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth? If pictures can tell a thousand words, this one was capable of hanging an entire movie on. There were audible gasps from audiences when they saw the image, with all of its implications of sea ice breaking up and carrying polar bears to their doom. “Their habitat is melting... beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet,” Gore told his audience. “They’re in trouble, got nowhere else to go.” The truth, however, is very different. The photo was actually taken by a scientist named Amanda Byrd, very close to the shore as their research ship sailed past the iceberg. To Byrd, the photo was cute, but nothing more than that. She stored the snap in her image folder on one of the ship’s computers server, where it was spotted by a colleague who copied it INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 63
What Gore didn’t explain was that the picture was taken close to other ice floes, and that polar bears in fact can swim up to 160 km at a time, and that polar bears routinely play on small bergs as landing spots in between marine hunts
and later released it to the media. Then it took on a life of its own. What Gore didn’t explain was that the picture was taken close to other ice floes, and that polar bears in fact can swim up to 160 km at a time, and that polar bears routinely play on small bergs as landing spots in between marine hunts. Then there’s the issue of the Arctic icecap. News bulletins last year were full of reports that the Arctic ice had retreated to its smallest area in hundreds of years, down from 13 million km2 to just four million km2. Over the northern winter this Christmas, however, the ice has returned to its original size: 13 million km2. So much for the disappearing habitat of the polar bear. Yet if the federal government in the US chooses to list the polar bear as threatened next month it could have far-reaching consequences, depending on the management plan drawn up to protect the bears. Alaskan officials have expressed concern about effects a threatened-species listing could have on international hunting agreements and future oil and gas development in the Arctic. Sen. Ted Stevens echoed those concerns this month, saying bear protections could interfere with construction of a gas pipeline from the North Slope. Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski have also spoken against the listing, which has been cited by opponents of a pending federal oil lease sale in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. Past oil drilling on northern lands has not hurt the polar bears, according to federal studies. Environmentalists counter that current interest in offshore Arctic drilling presents new risks, including oil spills into water. An even bigger question, spreading far 64 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
beyond Alaska, is: How will a management plan protect the bears from anticipated habitat loss? Will it focus on new protections for the last few bears on land? Or will it provide new leverage over federal permits for projects in the Lower 48, raising challenges on everything from new freeways to coalfired power plants – all in an effort to curb greenhouse gases? “When I voted for the creation of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, I never envisioned that gas and coal plants in the deserts of Arizona could be adversely affected by the listing of polar bears in the Alaskan Arctic,” Young said this month. The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups say this is just
In other arenas, the Alaskan administration does not dispute that the globe is getting warmer. Because Alaska is so far north, the state has felt more impacts of climate change than any others. With fanfare, Governor Palin appointed a subcabinet to address climate change issues. The Department of Environmental Conservation Web site says global warming poses a serious threat to Alaska, and calls the satellite data on shrinking sea ice “convincing evidence” that change is under way. But when it comes to polar bears, skepticism is the theme. “We did not ignore any facts in our response to the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing,” Palin said this month
“National environmental groups sued to prompt the federal endangered-species review. They say the state is giving credibility to industry-funded dissenters whose studies are designed to confuse the public and the press the result they hope for: using the polar bear to address global climate issues. Anything less and the bears are doomed, they say. Federal officials say there is nothing in the law to preclude listing species threatened by climate change. They say this is the first time such a listing might be made. These are big issues, but they are secondary right now. They come to the fore later, if the bears are listed as “threatened” and a management plan must be prepared. For now, the battleground is science. The Endangered Species Act requires a listing decision to be made strictly on the basis of the best scientific information regarding the foreseeable future.
in an e-mail response to a question on the state’s scientific backup. “We simply countered the arguments they presented with factual information they did not consider in their proposal. We also critically reviewed the assumptions upon which the proposed analysis was based.” Both sides in the debate agree that polar bear population data are scarce. Scientists say numbers around the Arctic grew significantly after most hunting was banned 35 to 40 years ago. The elusive bears have not been closely monitored, however, until the past few years. Some bear populations still seem to be doing fine. But studies in Alaska between
Scientists say numbers around the Arctic grew significantly after most hunting was banned 35 to 40 years ago. The elusive bears have not been closely monitored, however, until the past few years
2001 and 2005 showed a falloff in bear survival during years with less sea ice. A few years’ data are not enough to warrant a threatened-species listing, state officials say. Broader estimates for the southern Beaufort region would seem worrying, with population declining from 1,800 bears in the 1980s to a current estimate of 1,526. But techniques used for the two surveys were different, making the comparison statistically meaningless, federal scientists say. The state emphasized that statistical problem as it declared the population stable. For evidence, the state mainly cited data from a 2006 federal study. The state did not mention that the same federal study goes on to raise concerns about increasing cub mortality and shrinking size of adult bears, details that suggest trouble for the region’s bears. The study actually concluded the population is changing for the worse. Does the lack of hard statistical proof of a decline mean the population can be called stable? “They’re certainly not necessarily declining,” says Doug Vincent-Lang, a fisheries biologist now serving as a Fish and Game special assistant on endangered species. Given the implications of a listing, he says, shouldn’t the government have better data? Biologists who contributed to the federal endangered-species process have been told
not to respond publicly to the state’s comments, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Their response will be incorporated in the final decision, the agency says. But Andrew Derocher, one of Canada’s two top polar bear biologists, says the state is presenting a “bizarre” view of wildlife conservation. “There’s a very clear consensus that the population in the Beaufort Sea is not doing well,” claims Derocher, the current chairman of the international Polar Bear Specialist Group. “Polar bear scientists without exception are very concerned about the long-term preservation of the species.” The state also pokes at studies used to predict the future of polar ice, quoting at length from the climate scientists’ own demurrals about margins of error. The chain of predicted problems following from those studies are based on “unsupported conjecture,” the state says. The state’s critique was based on the work of a consultant, J. Scott Armstrong, a University of Pennsylvania expert on mathematical forecasting who has elsewhere challenged former vice president Al Gore to a $10,000 bet on whether the globe is truly warming. The federal ice forecasts are actually considered conservative. Nine gloomy new studies released last fall by the USGS drew on the most likely projections of ice loss by the IPCC. The state contends the federal analy-
sis should have included “outlying” scenarios deemed less likely to occur. That would have required biologists to consider studies predicting more ice – and more bears. But if anything, the federal analysis was too cautious. New ice studies are showing that the IPCC models actually underestimated the ice shrinkage of the past few years. A study released this month by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the US says summer sea ice could be gone from the North Pole as soon as 2030. A widely quoted NASA scientist says it might even be gone by 2012. Fish and Game drew on other state agencies for its comments. But the state was not able to cite its own research on polar bears – despite Palin’s reassuring comment in The New York Times that “state biologists are studying polar bears and their habitats.” The state gave up polar bear research to the federal government after passage of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and now plays only a small role in those studies. “They’ve done a clever thing,” says Jack Lentfer, a retired polar bear biologist who managed the last state polar bear program, switching to the feds after 1972. Lentfer thinks the state is ignoring the consensus of active researchers. “They’ve got someone who can write in a scientific way. But if you look at it, it doesn’t have any substance. They’re speaking in generalities.” © 2008, Anchorage Daily News
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 65
think life | TECHNOLOGY
For a cinema-like movie-watching experience at home, a projector and screen are still the best bet. Not convinced? Then check out the huge price gap between projectors and flat-panel televisions of similar size. Even though TV prices have dropped dramatically, a 103-inch plasma costs about $100,000. A similar-size screen and a highdefinition front projector will cost less than $7,000. “A projector is really the only way to go if you want a true home theatre,” says Claudio Ciacci, senior project leader for Consumer Reports magazine. Molly Snyder and her family bought a projector a few years ago when they moved into their home. The high-definition InFocus projector is mounted to the ceiling, and a framed 96-inch screen is attached to the basement wall. “We wanted a gathering spot for family and friends, and this has been great because it’s like having our own little movie theatre 66 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Projections for the future Stacy Downs looks at the advantages of projectors for home theatre in our house,” she says. “The picture seems even clearer than a television. We can watch it with the lights on. It doesn’t have to be dark in the room to see the picture on the screen.” The only glitch Snyder has experienced is that the projector bulb died – just before a big sporting fixture. Part of that was her fault, Snyder says, because there’s a way to check bulb life on a screen setting. Clint Miller, co-owner of a home theatre installation and automation business that
set up the Snyders’ system, suggests that projection owners always have an extra bulb, which costs about $700. Projector bulbs typically need to be replaced every 2,000 to 3,000 hours. To get TV programming, projectors must be connected to an external tuner, such as a cable or satellite box. For movies, projectors are hooked to a standard or high-definition DVD player and for video games, an arcade system. Also, an amplifier or A/V receiver and speakers typically are needed because
most projectors don’t have built-in audio capability like televisions. A high quality home-theatre speaker system starts about $700. Here’s how to choose a projector: Go for HD. Prices have dropped significantly on projectors with 1080p resolution, the highest in the high-def world. They start at about $2,700 and go up for better, brighter projectors. “High resolution makes a huge difference when you’re dealing with a screen that’s three metres long diagonally,” Ciacci says. “Think of the screen like graph paper. If the resolution is lower, some of those squares are going to be missing and the image will be fuzzy.” Weigh the pros and cons of different technologies. Front projectors use the same technology as rear-projection microdisplay televisions: LCD (liquid crystal display), LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) and DLP (digital light processing). LCoS projectors, including Sony and JVC, received Consumer Reports’ highest ratings, Ciacci says. DLP has problems with an annoying rainbow effect, a flash of colors. All DLP projectors using a single chip are affected, and only the most expensive DLP units avoid the problem by using three chips to produce red, green and blue . LCD projectors don’t reproduce true black as well as DLP units. Other than that, LCD projectors do well. Look for bulb brightness. High-quality projectors have at least 1,000 ANSI (American National Standards Institute) lumens, Miller says. “This is particularly important when you have some ambient light in the room,” he says. See what model suits your room arrangement. When shopping, take room dimensions and anticipated seating positions. Models with short throw lenses can be placed closer to the screen; long throw lenses allow a projector to be placed farther from the screen. With a 110-inch screen and high-definition image, the optimal viewing distance is about 4.5 metres, according to Consumer Reports.
The Torpedo Entertainment Projector includes a builtin speaker and LCD projection. It can be hooked up to DVD players, game systems, digital cameras, an MP3 player, a computer, digital camcorder, TV, cable or satellite to create a digital projection size of up to 6 feet
Check the connections. Check for HDMI connections, the latest type of input, Miller says. Some of the older models don’t have them. If you want to use the projector for playing games, make sure it has a computer, or VGA, input. “That computer connection is great,” Miller says. “I love the ability to plug in my laptop, particularly with YouTube videos and other content on the Internet.” When you’re having a projector professionally installed, ask for a conduit pathway, Miller suggests. This will allow for future wiring needs. Installation of a projector and screen starts at $700. Prices start about $500 for a 110-inch matte white screen. Want to improve brightness? Try a gain screen, which has a reflective finish. Want to improve black levels? Try a dark screen. Want to hide the speakers? Try a perforated screen. Want the screen hidden?
Try a motorized screen, which adds about $700 to the price tag. On a tight budget? Skip the screen and try a white wall or sheet. The tech blog world was abuzz with this recent news flash: a projector for less than $300. No way! Way. The Torpedo Entertainment Projector includes a built-in speaker and LCD projection. It can be hooked up to DVD players, game systems, digital cameras, an MP3 player, a computer, digital camcorder, TV, cable or satellite to create a digital projection size of up to 6 feet. But the resolution is only 960 by 240 pixels, a far cry from the best high-def resolution of 1920 by 1080. However, if you don’t mind jagged edges, this could be the projector for you. Reviewers played movies on their ceiling and used it outside when it was dry to play video on a garage door. It’s marketed mostly for kids to play video games and works best in the dark. It’s available for order at target. com and walmart.com. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 67
feel life | sport
NZ’s Marina Erakovic in action at Stanley St. NZPA/Wayne Drought
Anyone for tennis? Two sweet striking weeks of the Australian Open have served up notice of a new world order in the men’s game. Serbian Novak Djokovic fulfilled his immense potential by toppling irresistible Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to a breakthrough Grand Slam title. But New Zealand’s hopes of coat-tailing a renewed surge in interest in the game globally, are remote at best. Investigate Magazine sports columnist Chris Forster serves up the lopsided equation 68 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Djokovic is still only 20 years old. It’s hard to believe this composed and assured athlete from Belgrade, with all the shots in the book, has bagged a major championship after only two years on the circuit. This dude has word perfect English and is immaculately comfortable at courtside interviews and news conferences. 15,000 paying folk in the stands and 100s of millions watching on telly can’t faze Serbia’s first Grand Slam man. He even had the cheek to entertain the fans with a parody of Maria Sharapova’s pouting persona, during a lull in the tennis. His self-belief is undeniable, and his straight-sets sweep past world number one Roger Federer in the semi-final at Melbourne Park may have ended the Swiss great’s four year domination of the hard
court championship in Australia and the tier 4 ASB Women’s Classic in Auckland, United States. by beating Russia’s Vera Zvonareva (then Tsonga will be remembered for his bril- ranked 22 in the world) in a gripping quarliant execution of the world’s long time sec- ter-final that had the fans at Stanley Street ond-ranked player Rafael Nadal in the other reliving the good old days. semi-final. The 22 year old Frenchman of A couple of days later the 19 year old Congolese descent was the revelation and struck a reality check in qualifying for the undisputed crowd darling of Rod Laver Australian Open. She was thrashed in the Arena. Ranked 38 going into the tourna- first round by former top ten player Jelena ment, he’s compared to Mohammad Ali in Dokic, and wasn’t even close to making the looks and athleticism. Tsonga took out top main draw of 128. 20 seeds Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet New Zealand’s best known tennis jourand Mikhail Youzhny before producing the nalist Dave Worsley is adamant Erakovic perfect blend of power and finesse to thrash must take the next step this year and crack Nadal in straight sets. into the top 100, or even better the top 90. Sure enough he couldn’t quire reproduce In February she was ranked 149th. that inspirational form in the final. “If she doesn’t break through in the next But the tournament climax was still a six months she’ll be extremely disappointed. memorable tennis occasion, and he had the She has to take the plunge and play WTA satisfaction of being the first player at the events, against top players on a regular basis. tournament to take a set off Djokovic. Forget about the lower tier tournaments. Tsonga’s heroics have lifted him to 18 in Sometimes you have to take a few losses, the ATP rankings, and many experts believe and a few risks to go up in the ratings”. he’s got what it takes to make the top five, Worsley reckons another sustained peror better. formance like Auckland, and a quarter-final Federer and Nadal have some serious or better against quality players could be competition at last. Nadal will still be the the making of the Croatian-born Kiwi. A hot favourite to skid and grunt his way to ranking of 90 or better guarantees her direct another clay court Grand Slam at Roland entry into the four Grand Slams, and a guarGarros. The pair are still way ahead of third- anteed pay cheque of $15,000 or more. ranked Djokovic and the rest of the chas17 year old Sacha Jones is the other posers on the official rankings, courtesy of a sibility to break the drought on the womfour year domination. But the Australian en’s side of the Kiwi court. She was given a Open has served notice of a change. Federer centre-court chance at the Auckland tennis needs three more Slams to overtake the 14 Classic only to be thrashed by Zvonareva. amassed by American great Pete Sampras She then crashed out to a player she should’ve and become statistically the greatest player beaten, in the Juniors event at Melbourne. to ever grace a tennis court. The Swiss maeBut Worsley is still a believer in the Jones girl. stro’s come a long way since his arrival as She’s currently the 313th ranked player on a 19 year old, when he toppled Sampras at Wimbledon, way back in 2001. The parallels with rising star Djokovic are uncanny. The Serbian has the complete game to The Swiss maestro’s match Federer, who wasn’t come a long way since at his “Peter Perfect” best in his arrival as a 19 year Melbourne. Throw in the terold, when he toppled rific talent of Tsonga and the Sampras at Wimbledon, renewed rivalry at the top will way back in 2001 make for compelling theatre.
the planet and he’s encouraged by the fact she “really takes losing badly”. It’s a thin act in the men’s ranks at the moment, apart from Dan King Turner, who’s approaching the top 300. King Turner was agonisingly close to toppling the top twenty ranked Chilean Juan Ignacio Chela at Auckland’s Heineken Open earlier this year. Victories like that are gold for players outside the game’s elite. They look good on the CV, and can earn invitations to lofty places. Yet New Zealand Tennis is offering scant support for the best the game can muster in 2008. It’s believed the Davis Cup player gets a paltry $850 NZ from the organisation. Barely enough for a trip down the motorway to Hamilton, never mind the gruelling circuit of singles and doubles events in Asia and around the globe. Worsley is incredulous at the lack of support. “It’s a make or break year for Dan too. He needs to get into the top 250 by August. Other than him though – at the top level, the cupboard’s bare”. Next on the rankings are Simon Rea and Ruben Statham around the 500 mark and GD Jones (older brother of Sacha) only recently cracking the top 1000. The harsh reality is New Zealand simply doesn’t have the resources, money or depth of players to compete with the likes of France, Serbia, Spain and Russia – the dominant forces of the modern game. Incremental gains by the likes of Erakovic, Jones and King Turner may be the best to hope for – along with Auckland’s regular New Year’s serving of international tournaments.
New Zealand Tennis would desperately love to unearth a star of its own. But there seems no end to the long drought since Brett Steven’s retirement in 1999, after a top 40 career. Marina Erakovic is the country’s best known tennis player, and the only realistic hope of cracking into the world’s top 100 in 2008. She captivated a nation over the New Year break – reaching the semi-final of the INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 69
feel life | HEALTH
Once again, I have a confession to make. Of the many things haven’t done, I don’t really regret not learning to drive or failing to consider my own advice about less smoking or more exercise too seriously. There is a very good chance of next month’s column being about cholesterol (mine, reaching for the sky) and I might get around to regretting that by next month. I hadn’t made any new year’s resolutions and wasn’t going to suggest that you did. I have changed my mind. I am going to be very bossy about this. I want every single one of you to email me and tell me when you have done as I’ve said or explain why you don’t think you need to. Do this. This is important. I will do it. You will do it. As soon as it is possible, try to organize it today, do a first aid course. Now. If you don’t have a current first aid certificate, get one. Now. I did used to have one. I can do first aid. I have performed a great deal of first aid and resuscitated someone in real life, out on the street with no nice senior staff or code buttons in sight and I know what to do. I am exactly the kind of busybody bystander you want to have around, because I will cross streets and run into traffic to see if anybody needs first aid. And I would have done it last week if I had had to. But luckily the woman who collapsed had the sense to fall not just on me but also onto the two friends who did bronze medallions last month. To my now-highly-motivated-shame I am not sure I’ve ever in my life been more willing to just get out of the way and let someone else get on with it. They performed CPR and I called the ambulance. They had done their lifesaving training together, they had trained in a pair and it was all fresh in their minds. Whether they were panicking inside (I am assured that they were), they were a beautifully coordinated team and even if I didn’t know them, there was enough authority in her calm order “Stand back, I know first aid” that I uncharacteristically took that to apply to me too. I was, at the time, crouched over our unconscious patient, with two fingers on her fluttery pulse, watching her breath too unevenly. I trust my training and instinct to know when something’s wrong and had assumed I was going to have to be prepared to work. But 70 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
A heartbeat away from disaster Claire Morrow discovers first-hand the need for first-aid training
they were there, quicker and keener, and I got out of their way. If you will agree to do a first aid course, I will admit that it is at least five years since I did one and my first thought, faced with someone who looked like they were going to need resuscitation was not “OK let’s go” but “aw, rats, she’s gonna need CPR in a minute…watch her, focus...oh, why me... please don’t vomit, girl”. Not exactly feeling or inspiring much confidence. Five years is too long. I used to nurse, I used to be a St John’s ambulance volunteer and I did not ever work in an area where resuscitation was routine. I am out of date and I need to do a first aid course. So they saved a life. Saved a life! Just like that. She stopped breathing, the two person team got two quick breaths into her, started cardiac compressions and she came straight back to it. At which point I did the nursey stuff, the data collection, the assessment and the hand holding and the watching carefully. She’s OK, folks, our unconscious patient who stopped breathing and needed the kiss of life is recovering and we are waiting to hear more. She is certainly not breathing today because I held her hand, or because a bar full
of people stood around aimlessly gawking at some woman on the ground and making assumptions without bothering to notice that she was not drunk, not on drugs and about to be not breathing. She is not living and well because the ambulance took 15 minutes to arrive or because she collapsed at a bar near a large teaching hospital. Two people, mates of mine, all round good guys who would have been as useless as most of the rest of the pub a month ago did a first aid course and so they saved a life. I must buy them a drink. First aid courses are mighty useful. You will learn how to best do no harm if someone breaks a leg or you find yourself at the scene of car wreck. You will hopefully learn to calmly and efficiently deal with anyone who faints or gets a bleeding nose, or lops off a finger. If your child bangs into a table and opens an artery in their head, you’ll know what to do until you get within cooee of someone with the equipment to glue them back together. If someone chokes at the table, you’ll have a sensible response to “Are they choking? What do we do!?”. Our patient had stopped breathing. Would she have started again by herself? Who knows. But by breathing for her, she
FULL OF BEANS u Ernesto Illy, an Italian chemist who pioneered the science of making coffee has died in Trieste Italy at the age of 82. Family members declined to say what he died of. DIABETES RESEARCH CANCELLED u A major national diabetes study was halted this month after researchers found that cutting blood sugar levels to near normal levels in certain patients actually increased the risk of death. The findings raise questions about the best way to manage patients with the disease. “The thought was maybe what you need to do is get even tighter with blood sugar and get these patients as close to normal as you can get – conventional wisdom isn’t always right,” says Dr. Mark Feinglos, chief of endocrinology at Duke University Medical Center and an investigator in the study. Duke is among the largest recruitment sites in the state with 174 patients enrolled in the trial. BOTOX SAFETY CONCERNS u The safety of the anti-wrinkle wonder injection Botox is being called into question, with U.S. drug safety regulators putting the product under review after reports of death or serious reactions, the most severe in children taking the product for spasms related to cerebral palsy. The FDA says there is no need for health professionals to discontinue prescribing Botox or a similar treatment known as Myobloc. Some doctors say the dosages used to treat such spasms are far higher than those used for cosmetic reasons, suggesting less reason to worry about the product as a treatment for wrinkles and facial lines. The agency did not focus attention on the risk to cosmetic users, but said the investigation is in its early stages. The most severe reactions were found in unapproved uses for “children treated for spasticity in their limbs associated with cerebral palsy.”
didn’t have to risk any damage from not breathing, and she did get back up. Is a heart attack patient going to get straight back up after a round of CPR? Probably not. They will probably need their heart problem sorted out in an ambulance and in hospital. Defibrillators, drugs, surgery, and so on are usually needed. Compressing a heart by pushing on the chest simply keeps circulation going until really technical help arrives. But that’s why it’s important. All the heart surgeons in the world won’t be much good if the patient is gone before they arrive. So – first things first – go get your first aid certificate.
of all the words that are hard to talk about
alcohol anorexia anxiety bulimia depression drugs relationship difculties trauma
one word with us or your GP can make it easier ASHBURN
The Ashburn Clinic Private Bag 1916, Dunedin, NZ. Tel 03 476 2092 Fax 03 476 4255 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.ashburn.co.nz
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 71
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY? u They say you can’t be too rich or too thin, but what about too happy? People who say they are perfectly happy don’t do as well in the workplace, in school and in the public arena as their peers who aren’t quite as blissful, according to a new study. That’s good news, researchers say – the pursuit of happiness has a reasonable finish line. “Most people are happy already, or happy enough,” says Ed Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. “We don’t want people to think that they need to get rid of every negative emotion from their life.” The study looked at data from the World Values Survey, taken from more than 100,000 people in 96 countries over 20 years.
feel life | ALT.HEALTH
Another childhood danger Element in lotions may enter babies’ skin, warns Susanne Rust Researchers are suggesting that parents hold off on the lotions, creams, powders and shampoos they apply to their babies’ skin – unless those products are medically necessary. Their study found that babies on whom these products have been used have higher urine concentrations of a family of chemicals known as phthalates than infants who haven’t had the products applied. And it’s likely that it’s through the skin that the smallest of these tots are being exposed. 72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Phthalates are found in a variety of products. They make plastics soft and pliable and are used in many personal-care products to hold fragrance and colour. These chemicals are known to cause a host of maladies in laboratory animals, including undescended testicles and malformed penises – two birth defects that are on the rise in people. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of boys born with hypospadia, or a malformed urethra, in the United States has doubled since
the late 1960s. There is no definitive evidence that phthalates can cause harm to human babies. For consumers, figuring out whether a particular product contains phthalates is difficult. Federal laws do not require companies to label chemicals if they are not considered key or critical ingredients in a product. “The consumer has no way to know when they pick up a bottle of lotion if this product contains this chemical,” says Patricia Hunt, a biologist at Washington State University, who
“The preliminary research conducted in humans, as well as the hundreds of studies on animals, has been enough to spark both the European Union and California to ban some of these chemicals in children’s products
has studied other chemicals thought to damage the reproductive system. “All a parent can do now is look for products that explicitly say they do not contain these chemicals.” The research study, conducted by a team from the University of Washington, the CDC and the Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. It has sparked a strong rebuke from the chemical companies’ trade group, the American Chemistry Council. “In 50 or more years of use, no reliable evidence has ever been found that phthalates, either alone or in combination, causes negative health effects in humans,” says Marian Stanley, the council’s Phthalates Esters Panel manager, in a statement. “We take great exception to any effort to draw unfounded conclusions that suggest human health risks are associated with the mere presence of very low levels of metabolized phthalates in urine,” she says. The Pediatrics study was designed to determine whether healthy babies from the general population were being exposed to phthalates. And if they were, says Sheela Sathyanarayana, the lead author of the paper, the question was: How? Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician and environmental health researcher at the University of Washington, and her colleagues gathered information from a group of infants and mothers they had been following in California, Minnesota and Missouri. They collected urine samples from 163 babies who ranged from 2 months to 28 months in age and asked mothers to fill out questionnaires that asked about product, toy and pacifier use. In the urine samples, which were squeezed from wet diapers, the researchers looked for the chemical byproducts, or metabolites, of nine different phthalates. They found that every baby they studied had at least one detectable phthalate metabolite in his or her urine, and more than 80 percent had seven or more different kinds. They also discovered that babies whose mothers reported using infant lotion, infant powder or shampoo on their babies in the 24 hours before the urine sample was collected had the highest levels of phthalates. This relationship was especially strong in infants younger than 8 months. “I was surprised that all of the younger infants were exposed,” says Sathyanarayana. “I would have thought that a newborn baby would have the least exposure because they
are not crawling or walking. They’re not really being exposed to the outside environment as much as older children.” She called the result particularly worrisome because newborns are especially susceptible to reproductive and developmental toxins. Sathyanarayana says with so little known about the effects of these chemicals, it’s wise not to use lotions, powder and shampoo on infants unless there is a medical reason to apply them. The researchers also found phthalates in these babies that aren’t associated with lotions, powders or creams. That means they are presumably picking up these chemicals elsewhere, says Sathyanarayana – possibly ingesting them via breast milk and formula, or inhaling them from dust in their homes. There has been enough compelling research on phthalate exposure in rodents and humans to raise some alarm, says Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, an Iowabased environmental health group. In one study, the concentration of a specific phthalate metabolite in the urine of adult men was associated with sperm damage. In another study, conducted in part by three of the authors of the current paper, the researchers found a dose-dependent relationship between phthalate concentration in pregnant women and genital abnormalities in their newborn sons. The preliminary research conducted in humans, as well as the hundreds of studies on animals, has been enough to spark both the European Union and California to ban some of these chemicals in children’s products. But Schettler cautioned that Sathyana rayana’s study was not designed to look at the health impacts of phthalates on people. “It just demonstrates that children are being exposed to phthalates,” he says, adding it also indicates that skin absorption of these chemicals may be more important than researchers had previously thought. The current study also looked at diaper rash ointments, wipes, toys and pacifiers. But the authors did not find a relationship between these items and phthalate urine concentrations. Schettler says that unlike diaper creams, which are designed to provide a barrier between a diaper and a babies’ skin, products such as lotions contain chemicals designed to be absorbed by the skin. Therefore, it’s probably the presence of these chemicals that enables phthalates to penetrate the skin. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 73
taste life travel
Easter comes early Massive statues on the world’s most remote island are clues, writes Jane Wooldridge
Even in the murk of a sullen, gray afternoon, the massive stone sentinels of Ahu Tongariki seem imperious, an uncompromising guard against the gluttonous sea crashing at its flank. The shimmer of late afternoon darts through the cloudy drape in a last heady dash before the earth edges darkward. A herd of tawny horses, branded but untamed, gallops into the valley for a late-day graze. For this golden instant, the glory days of the 74 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
earth’s most remote island return. How bizarre and otherworldly this rocky outcrop must have seemed to Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who arrived here on Easter day 1722. Many of the massive stone statues – called moai – might have been strewn on their backs and bellies across the rugged surface. Treeless and barren, the plot he dubbed Easter Island was – by some accounts – a ruin, more than halfway to dead.
“How bizarre and otherworldly this rocky outcrop must have seemed to Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who arrived here on Easter day 1722. Many of the massive stone statues – called moai – might have been strewn on their backs and bellies across the rugged surface
Today, dozens of 12-ton moai have been resurrected with the help of modern technology. But the romance remains, drawing explorers, scientists and tourists to ponder the mysteries of the gargantuan statues and the sophisticated civilization that built them – and all but disappeared. Even if you’ve read the books and seen the films, visiting Easter Island is stepping into a new dimension. “I cannot believe I’m seeing these with my eyes, not in a picture or a movie. It’s real,” says Sue Hobart, a visitor from the US. About 28,000 visitors per year hop the five-hour flight from either Santiago, Chile, or Tahiti, to the “navel of the world,” as locals call it. Easter Island – Rapa Nui to locals, who call themselves Rapanui – lies farthest from land of any island on Earth: 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, to which it now belongs, and 1,240 miles from Pitcairn Island, its closest inhabited neighbor. It measures 66 square miles. Despite explorer Thor Hyerdahl’s famed 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition suggesting Rapa Nui and other Pacific islands were settled by Latin Americans, scientists now generally agree with local legend, that Rapa Nui was established by seagoing Polynesians sometime between 400 and 800 A.D. Scientists still debate what followed – the how and why of statue creation, tribal conflict, deforestation, disease. Some researchers, including Collapse author Jared Diamond, see Easter’s demise as “ecological suicide” by a competition-focused culture burdened by population growth and naturally limited supplies of trees and food. Others argue that rats – brought by settlers as a food source – were the primary cause of deforestation.
Regardless of the details, it’s a sombre story. By the late 19th century, the local population had plummeted from a onetime swell as high as 15,000 – some say even 30,000 – to a mere 111, says China Pakarati, an island-born guide. Yes, island-born. Given its sad history, you might expect Easter Island to be a remnant-turnedtourist attraction: the Pompeii of the Pacific, Stonehenge of Polynesia, an island Acropolis. But come here, and you’ll find a place decidely alive, if not always thriving. About 3,800 people live here – among them most of Pakarati’s 78 first cousins. The town of Hanga Roa bustles with school children, soda stands, tourist shops, low-key guest houses and hotels, an ATM. Cowboys – sans cows – canter along the main street on ATV or horseback; “We’ve got more horses than people,” Pakarati says. Te Moana, a chic little bar on the main street, serves icy pisco sours; near the fish-
“Some researchers, including Collapse author Jared Diamond, see Easter’s demise as “ecological suicide” by a competition-focused culture burdened by population growth and naturally limited supplies of trees and food ing harbour, a French restaurant offers filet mignon. The town’s two discos crank up around 2 a.m.; horse-riding locals don’t head home until dawn. Since the airport was first built in 1967 and expanded in 1986 as an emergency landing site for the space shuttle, tourism has brought a much-needed boost to a remote isle that once saw only a single supply boat per year. Still, isolation, far-flung government, paltry natural resources and the aftermath of European ravages – a 19th century slave raid, disease, over-grazing – mean life isn’t easy. Alcoholism, a disintegrating family
structure, education limits and abuse are all issues, Pakarati says. Still, as she shows you her island, she points to progress. Since a British sheep farming company pulled out in the mid1900s, the land has rebounded. Once locals thought the earth sustained only sweet potatoes and sugar cane, but thanks to new methods, she says, they’re now farming tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce – a surge toward self-sufficiency. But it’s the statues most visitors come to see: the red-capped moai with the gleaming white eye at Tahai; the seven sea-facing statues of Akivi; the six carved guards INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 75
ahu – are sacred burial grounds; standing on them is sacrilege. The seven statues of Ahu Akivi are the only ones to face the sea, you learn, because they represent the seven explorers sent by Polynesian king Hotu Matua “into the sun” to find Rapa Nui – an island he’d seen in a dream. The gleaming white eyes – seen today only at Tahai, but likely to have existed elsewhere – are thought to activate the power, or mana – that will bring the ancestor and its protective force back to the village. Pakarati takes visitors to Orongo, where petroglyphs mark 150 years of competition to capture the season’s first Sooty Tern egg and “What happened, say researchers, is to the craters whose something like this: The original settlers volcanic explosions developed into a dozen tribes, each competing formed the island hundreds of thouto carve bigger and more impressive moai, sands of years ago. She stops at Ahu each vying for increasingly rare resources Vaihu to show a clearly-toppled moai at the beach of Anakena; the 12 elders of and at Puna Pau, quarry for the porous red stone pukao – topknots or hats that appear Tongariki. Though you can easily rent a car and visit on some later statues. At the round stone the moai on your own, Pakarati and other dubbed “navel of the world,” visitors drop local guides offer a more penetrating view, to their knees and hug the rock, said to have weaving Rapanui legend and local insight mystic power. But the most mind-jarring stop is at Rano with the latest scientific theories. The statues represent not gods, as some Raraku, whose volcanic obsidian was the early Europeans believed, but elders, judges, test tube lab of the moai. The grassy hillside seems a snapshot ancestral wise men. The platforms – called
RAPA NUI TIMELINE 400-800 (possibly as late as 1200) u First settlers arrive from Polynesia 1000-1400 (dates vary) u Most moia carved 1400-1600 u Deforestation virtually complete 1868 u All statues have been toppled
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of disintegration, clicked at the precise moment when the incubator was unplugged and hundreds of years of statue production simply stopped. Almost half of the 887 moai cataloged are still in the quarry. Half-shaped heads protrude above the ground, their finished bodies stretching a dozen feet beneath. Partly-carved statues stagger about the slope like drunkards at an out-of-control bash. Others lie still in the rocky womb, weeks shy of final formation. Stone tools found tossed aside bear witness to sudden cultural cardiac arrest. What happened, say researchers, is something like this: The original settlers developed into a dozen tribes, each competing to carve bigger and more impressive moai, each vying for increasingly rare resources. Once-plentiful seabirds all but disappeared. Huge trees required for fishing canoes became extinct. Farming on the rocky, windswept land became inadequate or was forgotten in the rush to build bigger, bolder moai. Hunger set in; civil war erupted; the religious and social structure failed. The chiefs lost power; statues were toppled. Cannibalism exploded. For many, it’s a cautionary tale of consequences. And one still clouded with questions – especially when it comes to the grand moai. How did the islanders move the hulking statues from their nursery to their stations miles away, then push them into place? Theories abound. But as with so much on Easter Island, Pakarati says, “it’s still a mystery.”
D ABOUT EASTER ISLAN Called Rapa Nui by descendants of the Polynesians who first settled here Governed u By Chile Area u About 63 square miles Population u About 3,800. The earth’s most remote island, located 5,000 kilometres west of Chile; the closest inhabited island is Pitcairn, 1,900 km away. ”Discovered” u By Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Day, 1722. Most of early observations stem from a four-day visit in 1774 by British explorer James Cook. Largest statue erected u Over 10 metres, 75 tons Largest found u Still at Rano Raraku quarry, more than 20 metres and 270 tons
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IF YOU GO GETTING THERE u Lan airlines (www. lan.com runs several flights weekly from Santiago, Chile, and Tahiti, to Easter Island. WHERE TO STAY u Easter Island’s lodgings are small-scale hotels and guest houses. Clean and comfortable is the rule. For more options, see www.chilehotels.com/easteris.htm.
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Explora: u The company that runs first-rate adventure lodges in Patagonia and Chile’s Atecama Desert has opened its newest program in Easter Island. Programs are sold as three, four, five or seven-night packages including gourmet meals, bar and guided small-group explorations. Three-day programs from US$1,230 per person, double occupancy.
www.explora.com; (00-56-2) 206-6060. Hotel Otai: This friendly, small-scale hotel offers clean, comfortable rooms set in a tropical garden within walking distance of shops, restaurants and services; meals offered. Doubles from $120. (00-56-32) 210-0250; www.visitchile.com. WHERE TO DINE u Most hotels have
dining rooms; a number of restaurants dot the main town of Hanga Roa. Worth a visit: Te Moana: Reasonably priced Indian and Polynesian dishes (around US$12) plus killer cocktails in a chic tropical setting on Hanga Roa’s main street. (0056-32) 551-578. La Taverne du Pecheur: Casual
upscale restaurant near the dive shops in Hanga Roa offers both French and Polynesian specialties (think razed barnacles and escargot.) While some dishes won raves, others were uneven. Expect to pay at least US$40 per person. (0056-32) 210-0619. MAJOR SITES u Almost 900 moai are scattered around the island, though
only a few dozen have been restored onto platforms. You can easily rent a car (about US$75 per day) and tour the island on your own – which means you can visit popular sites virtually alone. But a good guide is highly recommended for at least part of your visit. Don’t-miss sites include: Ahu Tongariki: The famed phalanx of a dozen elders tossed about by the 1960 tsunami, resurrected by a Japanese effort in the 1980s. At the far eastern end of the island, not far from the quarry at Rano Raraku. Rano Raruku: Factory of the moai, located near Ahu Tongariki. Tahai: Former religious center near the town of Hanga Roa, with three platforms – and the only site where a moai has been restored with its eye in place. Ahu Akivi: Platform of the seven explorers facing the sea. Ahu Nau Nau: Six statues on a platform overlooking Anakena Beach, likely the landing spot of the first settlers. Orongo: Home of the birdman culture, Orongo has no moai but spectacular petroglyphs and views of restored houses. OTHER THINGS TO DO: Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert, near Hanga Roa, should be your first stop. www.museorapanui.cl. Catholic Church, Hanga Roa: Visit any time to see the simple interior with wood carvings that represent both Catholic and local traditions. Locals dress in traditional clothing for Sunday services; visitors welcome. Get your passport stamped: For $1, the Hanga Roa post office will stamp your passport with an Isla de Pascua stamp depicting a moai. Catch a traditional musical show: The one at the Hotel Hanga Roa is highly recommended. Two crafts markets sell locally-made jewelry, carvings and clothing. One is near the church; the other is on the main street. Bargain. Sports: Diving, horse riding and surfing are offered; check shops in town. INFORMATION: Visit Rapa Nui: www.visitrapanui.cl. Visit Chile: www.visit-chile.org. Guide China Pakarati works with Kia Koe Tour, www.kiakoetour.co.cl. Contact her directly at email@example.com.
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taste life FOOD
The lobster claws Urban living poses its own unique set of challenges. Take bugs, for example, writes James Morrow No matter how tidy one keeps one’s house or apartment in the big city, how many times one wipes down the cupboards, how many episodes of How Clean Is Your House? one watches, tut-tutting all the while and thanking God for ancestors who had the foresight to leave a land where if reality TV is to be believed food isn’t fit for consumption until it is deeply fried and women let their teen-aged daughters smoke at the table in front of their kids, crawling insects are a fact of life. Like the poor of Matthew’s Gospel, ye have the cockroaches always with you. Cockroaches have always had something of a mysterious, almost other-worldly suggestion about them, which is perhaps what gives them the power to repel. Growing up in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s at the height of the Cold War, when allegedly well-meaning teachers attempted to scare us all into believing a nuclear war was imminent, cockroaches were held to be the only creatures who would survive the inevitable 80 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Reagan-inspired holocaust. Of course, the Cold War is over thanks largely to the foresight of Ronald Reagan (to say nothing of Margaret Thatcher and the late Pope John Paul II who together rounded out this remarkable troika of liberty), and cockroaches remain just as creepy. Not that teachers are over trying to scare kids. Today’s bogeyman is, of course, global warming – or is it climate change this week? According to this narrative, instead of being flash-fried in fireballs tens of thousands of degrees hotter than 1980’s average global temperatures, we will be slow-cooked by temperatures just a couple of degrees over and above what they are now. No wonder the Venn diagram of Al Gore fans and so-called “slow food” movementarians has about as much overlap as Michael Moore’s waistline. Never mind that such temperatures have been profitably enjoyed in the past millennium, they are wholly unacceptable now.
And anyone who thinks differently should prepare – as suggested by more than one commentator – to stand in the dock at some future Nuremburg-like trial. Global warming is such a threat that not even cockroaches will survive. Yet even if roaches don’t make it, I suspect that yabbies – freshwater lobsters – will. These remarkable ancient creatures can live in water (take that, Mr Roach!), burrow deep in drought conditions to find groundwater, do just about everything but avoid an opera trap in a muddy dam baited with half the carcass of a Christmas turkey. Over the Christmas holidays I had the opportunity to spend some time on a largeish sheep property in central New South Wales. Only large-ish because it did not have its own airstrip; such luxuries were reserved for the show-offs next door, so far away that you’d have to walk the better part of the day at least to borrow a cup of sugar.
Yabby meat can always be treated like crab or lobster and turned into a lovely bisque or pasta
And I’m proud to report that for a few days at least, this dyedin-the-wool city boy, who was raised to think that changing a light globe is the pinnacle of the manly arts, went country. By day two, I was humming John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” everywhere I went. By day three, I was belting out Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Country Boy Can Survive”. By day four, I was shutting the hell up, lest any of a long line of people made good on their threat to throw me in the sheep dip if I didn’t stifle. Over those several days I rode quad bikes, did “sheep work” (honest, your honour, it was all business), shot rabbits, and went yabbying for freshwater lobster. There are lots of ways to prepare these freshwater delights. Damien Pignolet, the great pioneer of French bistro cuisine in Sydney, likes to prepare yabbies in a celeriac remoulade (a fancy-pants way of describing a salad of seafood and mustardy mayonnaise) and is also known for a lasagne of yabbies that for my money overcomplicates what should be a simple pleasure. For once I will disagree with M. Pignolet’s approach. Freshwater lobsters are the sort of food that demands simplicity. Their sweet, delicate yet earthy flesh needs very little to bring out the best: a simple boil in salted water, a squeeze of lemon juice, perhaps a bit of cocktail sauce or wasabi mayonnaise. Or, if one is feeling particularly ambitious, yabby meat can always be treated like crab or lobster and turned into a lovely bisque or pasta (see right). In any case, I’m glad the current scare narrative is so yabby friendly. If après la deluge, c’est moi, I’d much rather that, than survive on a decimated planet with nothing but roaches to eat.
Linguini with Yabbies This recipe – simplicity itself – was originally made with crab, and developed by the lovely and talented Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of London’s River Café. I think it’s just crying out for an Antipodean twist. You’ll need 2-3 kg fresh-caught yabbies, or their meat 3 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped 3 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 4 lemons, juiced 3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with a bit of salt 250 ml extra virgin olive oil 500 g linguini Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper Method First, catch the yabbies! Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil (you may need to do this in batches). Throw your live yabbies in, return to a boil and remove – they do not require much cooking – to cool. Remove meat from tail and claws and place in a bowl. Add the chilli and most of the chopped parsley, lemon juice and garlic. Then add most of your olive oil; the result should be quite a liquidy sauce/dressing. Cook the linguini in boiling salted water and drain thoroughly. Stir into the crab sauce, but do not reheat. Serve, family style, sprinkled with the remaining chopped parsley and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
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touch life > drive
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Fiat hits paydirt Retro design heralds return of Fiat 500, and the ka-ching of dealer cash registers… Forget all those Lamborghinis, Ferraris and the super luxury Bugatti Veyron. The most irresistible car of the year is the all-new Fiat 500, a cheeky city runabout with sex appeal. In France and Italy, where the little car went on sale this summer, the Fiat 500 is well on its way to becoming an automotive icon. Around 80,000 have been ordered by customers. Meanwhile in Germany, it’s a case of “catch me if you can,” with would-be owners having to wait for anything up to four months before being able to lay their hands on one of the stylish little minicars. “Demand for this car is not just lively, it’s huge”, says Michael Kuehne, a salesman at the main Fiat dealership in the northern German port of Hamburg. “Four out of six of the cars I move at the moment are Fiat 500s”, seconds his colleague Matthias Brockmoeller, with a nod to the bright red example in his showroom. Naturally it is already spoken for. With so few on the roads, the Fiat 500 is a guaranteed head-turner wherever it appears. The sight of one whizzing through the streets of Hamburg or Berlin attracts the sort of attention normally reserved for film stars or heads of state. People stop, smile and wave, gesticulating to the driver to wind down his window so they can find out more. The first 3,500 Fiat 500s to be imported to Germany were sold within days and Fiat Germany boss Manfred Kantner is confident of finding customers for up to 15,000 annually. “This car is not simply a new Fiat model”, he told Germany’s Spiegel magazine. “It is a statement which underscores the competitiveness of the entire company.” Automotive pundits agree that the revitalised 500 is probably the best new Fiat for decades and even notoriously critical journalists are waxing lyrical. Britain’s Top Gear motoring journal said the runabout “embodies effortless Italian style and epitomises the Italian ability to accomplish miracles from simple ingredients.” Stern magazine was equally enthusiastic: “This is not just a car for travelling from A to B, it has the potential to become a dear friend”, it opined. A reporter from the journal was on the international panel of 58 motoring journalists, which last month awarded the Fiat 500 the title of “Car of the Year 2008.” The jury lauded the design and safety features which include seven passenger airbags as standard. So what is all the fuss about? Well, the Fiat Cinquecento is riding on the retro wave started INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 83
by the enormously successful new Mini “Styled by Robert Giolito, the new Fiat 500 has a well thoughtbut is much cheaper to buy. It also out modern shape unlike the new Volkswagen Beetle, a car avoids the tackiness long associated with the once near-bankrupt Italian which failed to catch the public imagination and which enjoys marque. Overall it appeals to people little of the huge popularity enjoyed by its famous predecessor who could afford a bigger car but prefer to buy a smaller one instead. The resurrected Fiat not only oozes visual charm, but is ideal for although long-legged adults will find it cramped. the narrow, often traffic-clogged streets of Europe. The shape harks The interior of the new 500 is best described as funky, with a back to the original Fiat 500 or “Topolino” (Mouse in Italian) of dashboard made up of four concentric circles dominated by a giant 1957 but the car is technically much more sophisticated. speedometer and a stubby gear lever in the middle. Styled by Robert Giolito, the new Fiat 500 has a well thoughtThe painted surface in between looks like the tin used on the origiout modern shape unlike the new Volkswagen Beetle, a car which nal Cinqucento console but is in fact a modern synthetic material. failed to catch the public imagination and which enjoys little of There is a choice of two petrol engines, developing either 69 or the huge popularity enjoyed by its famous predecessor. 100 horsepower, and a diesel unit with particle filter which turns Prices for the new Fiat 500 start at 10,500 euros (15,530 US dollars) out 75 horses. The range of trim materials, colours and accessories which is still a small fortune in India or Asia where mass motorisation is mind-boggling and Fiat claims that 500,000 permutations are is still a dream, but it is affordable by western European standards. possible. Even the ignition key comes in nine different versions. By comparison the entry-level Mini costs 15,850 euros (23,400 Public acclaim is set to continue apace later this year when a US dollars). The born-again Cinquecento is being built at a new sporty Abarth version of the 500 will make its debut. There are low-cost factory in Tychy, Poland. plans for a micro-estate, called the Gardiniera, along with a openThe baby Fiat is no family carriage but does boast enough space top version from 2009. By then a generation of frugal two cylinfor four people. Two children can travel in the back in comfort der, turbocharged engines should also be ready. 84 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Land of the free Land Rover’s 2008 Freelander 2 is a 4WD worth a serious punt, writes Larry Printz
Most of us can’t claim royal ancestry, but we may be able to afford a royal ride. Simply buy a Land Rover, and you’ll be driving the same brand as the House of Windsor. Maybe royal buying habits never held sway over you. Well, you might want to reconsider in the case of the 2008 Land Rover Freelander 2. Not just because of its price – $69,990 – but because this SUV can make anyone feel like royalty. The Freelander nicks a bit of style from its larger siblings, the Range Rover Sport and Discovery 3; it has the same grille and front fender accents, off-center rear door styling, and square, yet sporting, demeanor. And like its siblings, this littlest Land Rover performs with a stiff upper lip whether on-road or off. For the self-styled prince or princess, the Freelander 2 is ready to tackle the brambles of a favoured hunting ground, the lawn of the local golf club or the manicured streets of your own cul-de-sac. The Freelander 2 employs the same Terrain Response system used in other Land Rovers. This system uses stability control, traction control and hill descent control to adjust the suspension and driveline, depending on conditions. It engages automatically or can be changed by a driver-activated knob on the center console. There are four driving modes: general driving, mud, snow and grass/gravel/snow. Take off over hill and dale, and the Freelander 2 effortlessly adjusts, returning enough off-road motion to let the driver know what’s going on, yet absorbing the worst of rough stuff. Through it all, the handling is tops among compact SUVs.
However, be sure not to venture too far off-road. The all-wheeldrive system runs in front-wheel-drive until additional grip is needed. It also lacks low-range gearing for true boulder bashing. If your driving is limited to tackling the state highways, you’ll find the Freelander 2 keeps the ride comfy and ride motions under wraps. Cornering is fun for an SUV, with a lot less body lean than you’d expect from the company that produced the tipsy feeling Discovery SUV. Powering all this goodness is a 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder that produces 230 horsepower. The six-speed automatic transmission that can shifted manually is well-matched, proving both responsive and smooth. When power is needed, it always seems to be in the proper gear, shifting at just the right time. Fuel economy is a pleasant surprise: 19 mpg in mixed use. You’ll be equally pleased by this vehicle’s throne room, with its Eucalyptus wood accents, metallic trim and yards of leather. The elegant materials are offset by plastics and rubber-covered controls that convey an outdoorsy toughness. The Freelander 2’s styling gives the interior an airy, open feel that seems lacking in many of its competitors. Of course, just as the British refuse to accept the Euro as their own currency, so too does the Freelander 2 refuse to accept conventional dashboard design. Some controls are not intuitive. Chalk it off to quirky charm. If your home is indeed your castle, this is the vehicle to park out front. You may even be tempted to give it your own royal warrant. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 85
touch life > toybox
Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X1 The XPERIATM X1 combines a 3-inch clear wide VGA display and a full QWERTY keyboard within a quality metal-finish body. With Windows Mobile inside, the XPERIA X1 lets you choose from a dynamic range of activities at anytime and anywhere; from enjoying your favourite entertainment content to working efficiently on-the-move. Access a world of experiences simply by touching the XPERIA™ panel on the screen. “XPERIA represents the first brand that is truly borne from within Sony Ericsson. It represents our vision for a premium, energised communication experience,” said Dee Dutta, Head of Marketing, Sony Ericsson. “This launch, and the announcement of the X1, further strengthens the overall Sony Ericsson brand and places us at the forefront of mobile convergence. Our vision for the XPERIA X1 is to deliver a seamless blend of mobile Web communication and multimedia entertainment within a distinctive design,” said Rikko Sakaguchi, Head of Portfolio and Propositions, Sony Ericsson. “XPERIA is our promise to think foremost of user experience and to deliver the premium experience – anytime, anywhere, anything, with anyone.” Visit www.sonyericsson.com
The Ken Chair The past inspires the future! An original design from the mid 20th century has been re-issued by Danske Mobler. The retro shapes and lines of the design blend effortlessly with early 21st century furniture trends and lifestyles. Equally stunning in leather or fabric. Exclusively crafted in New Zealand by Danske MØbler. Ph 09-625 3900 to find your nearest showroom or visit www.danskemobler.co.nz
Stylus Photo 1410 The Epson Stylus Photo 1410 A3+ printer is suitable for a wide range of applications, from photographs through to business documents. With Claria Ultra High Definition Photographic ink, you can be assured of bright, vivid images which are resistant to fading, have smooth tonal gradation and fine detail. Other features of this printer include direct printing from a camera, CD/DVD printing, 6 individual ink cartridges and ink droplets as small as 1.5 picolitres due to the MicroPiezo print head. www.epson.co.nz
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New Pentax Lenses PENTAX Corporation is pleased to announce the marketing of five digital-SLR-exclusive interchangeable lenses. They consist of two smc PENTAX-DA-series uni-focal telephoto lenses designed to optimize the image quality and optical performance of PENTAX digital SLR cameras, one smc PENTAX-DA Limited-series macro lens designed to deliver distinctive visual expressions in digital photography, and two smc PENTAX-DAseries zoom lenses combining a compact, maneuverable design with outstanding cost performance.
This medium-class model offers superb image quality, an array of advanced features and outstanding reliability and operability to meet the specialized and exacting demands of photo enthusiasts, including advanced amateurs. It incorporates a newly developed image sensor to bring out the optimum performance of PENTAX interchangeable lenses, while offering the features and functions needed to maximize the pleasure and excitement of digital photography.
Designed mainly for family users and digital camera beginners, this popular-class model offers a host of user-friendly features and sophisticated functions like higher-class models. As a result, even digital camera beginners can enjoy advanced digital SLR photography with great ease. Pursuing image quality, user-friendliness, operability and cost performance, the K200D is expected to be a new standard-setter in the popular-class market.
Olympus Mju 1020 Olympus Imaging Australia has launched the new Mju 1020 – the world’s smallest, slimmest digital compact camera with 7x optical zoom. Featuring a 10.1-megapixel CCD*, and available in a stylish enamel black finish, the new camera will be available in Australia in late February for AU$499. A hallmark of Olympus design, the Mju 1020 continues the traditional combination of the smooth curvature of an arc with the functionally elegant form of a wedge. Available in enamel black, this stylish camera is a musthave for those who demand the ultimate in performance and style. For more information, please contact Lauren Kekwick or James Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 87
see life / pages
The last peak Michael Morrissey reviews Ed Hillary, and Kiwi film-making SIR EDMUND HILLARY: An Extraordinary Life By Alexa Johnston Penguin Books, $29.95 Some years ago I used to tease my fellow New Zealanders by asking who was the century’s greatest mountaineer. Invariably, they said Edmund Hillary. But they would be wrong. The world’s greatest mountaineer, not only of the twentieth century but of all time, is Reinhold Messner, an Italian who not only was the first person to climb Everest solo but the first to climb the peak without sherpas, crevasse ladders or oxygen – a feat considered flatly impossible until he did it. He then went on to to climb all 14 peaks over 8000 metres (26,000 feet) without oxygen – a feat without parallel. Hillary himself acknowledged Messner as the mountaineer. But true fame justly hovers over Hillary – like Bannister, who first broke the four minute mile – he was the first to do what dozens before had failed to do. In Clive James’ TV programme Fame, Hillary was the only New Zealander listed among the century’s 250 most famous people. After the highest peak on earth had been reached, the next peak to top had to be reaching the moon. It’s a pity Ed didn’t manage that one. “We knocked the bastard off!” would have been wonderful kiwi speak compared to Armstrong’s fluffed line, which was meant to read, “That’s one giant step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Unfortunately, He left out the indefinite article: ‘a’. Hillary didn’t leave anything out – he did it all. This very recent biography, being authorised, is dutiful rather than colourful. Though it performs its task admirably, I can’t help speculating that a posthumous biography may offer us a more philosophical view of Ed’s extraordinary career. What, however, this biography does make clear, is how Hillary’s parents were excellent role models in moral courage. 88 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Hillary’s life must now be one of the most familiar we know – from the small shy lonely boy, to the gangling youth, to his first encounter with mountains and snow, to the great passion for climbing that took hold with a crampon’s grip. From those early days, it was a dazzling set of peaks – first to climb Everest, the race to the pole on Ferguson tractors, the search for the yeti, (which Messner claims is a rare nocturnal bear), the massive schools and hospital building programme in Nepal, the jet boat ride up the Ganges. And, of course, the numerous honours – ambassador to India, Order of New Zealand, Order of the Garter (England’s highest award). The “flaw” in Hillary’s career is, it’s too flawless. He was superhuman yet supremely human. He set an example of moral and courageous manhood for us lesser mortals to emulate. Perhaps the most appealing side of Hillary’s character was the combination of confident competitiveness and complete lack of arrogance – which meant his name was in the phone book. Not only could he be rung but visited. Ed exemplified that English sportsmanlike tradition of modesty which regretfully Muhammad Ali spoiled by shouting, “I’m the greatest!” Though Ali was partly guying himself, he has left us with a legacy of boastful unsportsmanlike behaviour which continues to this day with athletes puffing out their chest when they score a win over their opponents. Ed would have none of that. His modesty meant that the world first saw a photograph of Tensing Norgay at the top of Everest and not himself. The Nepalese saw Norgay as the conqueror of Everest and paid little attention to Hillary. Typically, Hillary did not make noises to the contrary. Johnson doesn’t mention Hillary’s first rapture at meeting mountains on the North Island’s central volcanic plateau nor give much space to the tragedy of losing his first wife and daughter. The coverage of the jet boat ride is thin. Nonetheless, in many ways this
biography is strong on detail, e.g. the oxygen equipment and tabulations of the extensive building programme. It also gives generous space to appreciation of Hillary’s character from other mountaineers like Mike Gill and Peter Mulgrew whose widow June became Hillary’s second wife. Messner may have been the greater mountaineer but Hillary remains the finer moral example of a man who never was one to crow about his feats. (Reinhold is not so modest.) And Ed was, as fellow mountaineer Jim Wilson called him, always “rattling good company”. It’s a pity Ed didn’t run for PM he would have waltzed in – but then political aggrandizement wasn’t his style. RIP Ed, we won’t forget you.
in the New Zealand cultural psyche and showcased the considerable talent of the two directors that made them – Roger Donaldson and Geoff Murphy. Both have had their success in Hollywood, especially Donaldson who continues to work there. Because Babington has gone to such lengths to redress the lack of critical focus on Hayward and O’Shea plus a desire to give full due to the golden classics of our film Renaissance era, his book has paid less attention than might otherwise be the case to outstanding contemporary film makers like Vincent Ward, Jane Campion and Peter Jackson. The scale of Jackson’s success and his unparalleled achievement of (so to speak) bringing Hollywood to Wellington is duly noted. Babington also gives space to New Zealand comedies and for talented figures who at least for now seem to have faded out – the brilliantly zany Harry Sinclair and the quieter but also gifted John Reid. Of necessity, Babington gives due honour to Maori film directors like Barry Barclay and women directors like Gaylene Preston and Nicki Caro. And I was pleased to discover an analysis of the Forgotten Silver, that witty co-creation of the multi-talented Peter Jackson and the gifted Costa Botes who made, among other first-class short films, an excellent feature (Stalin’s Sickle) based one of my short stories. Babington is sceptical about the Sam Neill concept of a cinema of unease and similarly simplistic overriding theories that New Zealand films are the product of eccentric individuality, expressions of pakeha guilt, or anxiety over identity. This thought-provoking and thoroughly researched history will undoubtedly wind up being used as a text by students of New Zealand cinema. Babington’s learned book contains a confident cultural width of reference not just to film but literature, history and politics. This is academic writing unburdened by academic jargon. There is a felicity of style about Babington’s writing that reminds me of the late Leslie Fiedler, at one time considered the enfant terrible of American literary criticism, one of whose works – Love and Death in the American Novel – Babington greatly admires. Perhaps one day he will write Love and Death in the New Zealand Cinema? And let’s not forget laughter as well.
A HISTORY OF THE NEW ZEALAND FICTION FEATURE FILM By Bruce Babington Manchester University Press, $65
VOYAGES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD By Peter Aughton Quercus, $39.99
In a recent conversation I had with David Blyth, a notable though currently neglected New Zealand film director, he observed that despite the contemporary positive climate, no more films seem to get made per year than in the past – less than the fingers on one hand. Ironically, at this point in our evolving film history we have a burgeoning crop of books about New Zealand film. Among the current feast is Professor Babington’s work unique in that it devotes much time to examining and analysing the pioneering giants of yesteryear – most notably Rudall Hayward and John O’Shea. The pity of it is, films like the The Te Kooti Trail and Runaway can only be seen at archives and are not available on DVD. Perhaps the future will see this situation altered. Otherwise, they may be destined to remain, as Babington entitles another chapter, Forgotten Nitrate. The golden era of New Zealand film-making in terms of quantity and even arguably in terms of quality, was 1983-85 when some 29 films were made. Some of course were second rate tax write-offs but the period was one of astonishing productivity and vitality. In and around this period, Babington selects Sleeping Dogs, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth, Goodbye Pork Pie and Utu as crucial cinematic texts. These films have in their various ways earned a rightful place
Peter Aughton is one of many authors who have previously written a book on Captain Cook. His new book covers a broader canvas – the entirety of human exploratory history to the near present. He begins his grand survey at 50,000 BC and ends with Piccard’s bathyscaph which was the first vessel to descend to the deepest part of the ocean in 1960. With one exception – the polar expeditions of Amundsen and Scott – Aughton focuses on sea voyages. Arguably, if he was to have extended the scope beyond the sea he could have included the voyages to the moon or some of the spectacular land traverses of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, generally considered the world’s greatest living explorer. From an early age I have been fascinated by the notion of exploration. If someone asked me at age eight what would I want to be instead of giving the standard answer of fire engine driver, I would have said explorer. Alas, exploration of untrammeled seas, is sadly no longer possible – except of course under the sea. Many familiar names are here – Columbus, Magellan, Drake, Tasman, and of course the greatest of them all – Captain Cook. I was delighted to discover some wonderfully obscure names like Madoc ab Owen Gwynedd, a Welsh prince who may have reached INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 89
America four centuries before Columbus. He is said to have landed However, in this handsome volume Attenborough is focused on in Mobile, Alabama. The great weakness of this account, Aughton the reptiles of today not the giants of the past. He divides them writes, is “that there is no direct evidence prior to the the sixteenth into six broad chapters – amphibians, tortoises (plus terrapins and century to support the story”. On the other hand, the even more turtles), crocodiles (plus alligators and gharials), lizards, snakes and improbable story of Brendan, the Irish monk crossing the Atlantic salamanders. It’s a rich scaly mix lavishly illustrated as are all of in a tiny leather boat and reaching the coastline of Florida – though Attenborough’s splendid books. not quite hitting the American coast, is in Aughton’s view an even Among this torrent of crawlies we can feel a surge of national stronger contender for being authentic. Apart from whether it actu- pride that the tuatara has the coldest blood of any active reptile. ally happened, is it even possible? Yes! In 1975, Tim Severin, possibly Attenborough describes our mini-dinosaur as “somewhat like a the leading figure among reproductions of earlier fabulous voyages small Galapagos marine iguana with a disproportionately large of the past, built a hull of 57 leather ox-hides tanned with the bark head”. Sounds like a few politicians that I could name. Further of oak, oiled with cod-oil and stitched together with 23 miles of unique characteristics include that it only breathes every seven secflax thread together with two miles of leather thong treated with onds and may live to be 120 years old. I recently walked Soames tallow and fish oil – and then performed the trip. Alleluia! Island in the hope of seeing one but they remained shy – probably Most staggering, amazing etc of all are the voyages alleged by hiding in their burrows. Gavin Menzies to have been made by a quartet of Chinese explorers Our frogs are harmless little fellows compared to the kokoi frog from whose explorations amount to a total circumnavigation of the globe Colombia – the tiniest drop of its poison can kill a human being. The – including (of course) New Zealand! The key piece of evidence Amerindian people use it to tip their arrows for hunting or for war. is a map dated 1418 bought from a Shanghai book dealer. Though It’s a sad day when a long held myth is given the thumbs down Aughton treats Menzies’ claims with a measure of caution he seems – but here it is. The famous long-lived tortoise supposedly given to to accept the evidence of the map as strong. However, Professor the King of Tonga by Captain Cook in the 1770s which lived to be Geoff Wade, an Australian researcher attached to the National two hundred years of age originally came from Madagascar – but University of Singapore, lists many reasons why the map must be alas, Cook never visited Madagascar. But cheer up you antediluvian fake. He is by no means alone in his suspicions. The late Michael tortoise lovers, there is good evidence to believe that another giant King, noted New Zealand historian, did not accept Menzies’ “I was delighted to discover some wonderfully obscure names like claims. The matter is complex and still hotly under debate. To Madoc ab Owen Gwynedd, a Welsh prince who may have reached his credit, Aughton includes an America four centuries before Columbus. He is said to have landed inset block that lists the reasons for and against the 1421 voyages. in Mobile, Alabama Meanwhile, we are still left with the undisputed and impressive voyage of the tall eunuch Admiral tortoise picked up by Marion du Fresne may have lived 200 years. Zheng He who explored the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean and In his documentaries and books, Attenborough has a predilection reached Arabia and Africa. Aughton seems so bedazzled by Menzies’ for detailing the mating habits of the animals studied – perfectly claims he scarcely mentions Zheng He. legitimate for a naturist. So there is a photograph of a pair of giant Aughton succeeded in changing my view of Dampier who I tortoises engaged in making baby giant tortoises. William Dampier regarded merely as the villain who marooned Alexander Selkirk quaintly describes them as “nine days engendering” – obviously the (though Aughton says Selkirk so hated Dampier he asked to be lumbering pair don’t do anything in a hurry. marooned!). The buccaneering Dampier sailed around the globe No matter how many nature programs I watch or books I read, three times and wrote a best-selling book about his travels so if he there is always something new to tickle the mind. Glass lizards was a pirate he was an educated pirate. Other new names for me don’t just drop their tails, they break into several pieces; the blueto conjure with included John Byron, father of Lord Byron the tongued skink was considered extinct for 60 years until re-discovpoet, Jacob Roggeveen who discovered Easter Island in 1721 and ered in 1992; there are snakes that can fly – they draw their ribs Bjarni Herjulfsson the first European to accidentally set foot on the forward to increase air-resistance and therefore gliding ability. Of American mainland. So despite the odd reservation, this is a hand- such are the wonders of God’s creation. some and truly wonderful compendium and anyone who has just And as always the photography is superb – the chameleon take the tiniest drop of salt in their veins should sail down (I mean walk the prize for dazzle. I can think of no better book to give to a curidown) to their nearest quality bookshop and buy a copy. ous child – or a curious adult. LIFE IN COLD BLOOD By David Attenborough BBC Books, $65
LORDS OF THE BOW By Conn Iggulden HarperCollins, $ 36.99
The earth that gave birth to reptiles some 375 million years ago was an austere, sombre place, writes naturist Attenborough. No flowers on the ground, no grasses, no roars or yelps from mammals, no birdsong. There were however giant millipedes two metres in length quietly munching away. Sounds a bit quiet for my taste. Let us rejoice then when a few giant dinosaurs began stomping about.
More than any other would-be world conquerors, Genghis Khan’s name is one to send a collective shiver down the spine. Though hated and feared as a bloodthirsty tyrant who showed no mercy, in Mongolia he was revered as a national hero – the founder of the nation. Iggulden is no master stylist but he is a good story teller – and what a story he has to tell. The odd thing is even though any con-
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temporary person possessed of any morality ought to regard Genghis as a murderous beast – which he certainly was – when you read of his military prowess and his determination, you wind up sneakingly admiring the guy. After all, he tumbled the might of the arrogant Chin empire which considered itself to be invincible. When you read the military detail that the author lovingly outlines, you understand why the Chin had such a belief. Yenking (now Beijing), their principal city had giant bows that could fire shafts as large as small telegraph poles two thirds of a mile. The mighty walls of the city were fifty feet across at the top. The Chin had trebuchet catapults to fire missiles hundreds of yards plus gunpowder and clay pots filled with petrol. Yet Genghis prevailed. Not by customary military skill such he had shown at the battle of the Badger’s Mouth where he had defeated a vastly
superior enemy by scaling seemingly unclimbable mountains – a feat reminiscent of Alexander the Great – but by long term siege. The duration was the same as the siege of Leningrad but unlike the German campaign it succeeded – Yenking capitulated. But in style – they brought unimaginable wealth in thousands of carts. It must have been an astonishing spectacle – Peter Jackson are you reading this? Film it! Around this military drama, the author has woven an intricate plot of intrigue and treachery involving cunning magicians, devious spies, scheming generals and valorous warriors that will keep the reader racing through its breathless pages. The dialogue is a little of “They will fight with pride, my Lord” variety but I guess that’s standard for this type of sword and (just a tad) sorcery swashbuckler of a yarn.
Reviewed by Ian Wishart
IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT NEW ZEALAND By Hamish Campbell &Gerard Hutching Penguin, $49.99 An important, and intriguing, book. Campbell & Hutching raise what appears to be the strong probability that New Zealand was entirely submerged by the ocean as recently as just 23 million years ago. They reach this conclusion by examining limestone formations around the country (traditionally found on seabeds), and argue their case well. But if true, where on earth did all New Zealand’s plants and animals come from? How did the dinosaur-remnant Tuatara survive complete immersion under the ocean? Likewise the moa, the native bats, frogs, the kauri and an ark of other organisms, many of them found nowhere else in the world. The idea that New Zealand’s biodiversity could be due to evolution over the past 23 million years would break every known scientific rule, which is one of the reasons scientists are scrambling for alternative explanations – such as the possibility of a few islands remaining as outposts of life. There could have been islands, admit the authors, “however, there is no geological evidence for any.” Having been completely flooded, New Zealand re-emerged from the depths in the form we now know and love, becoming one of the hottest new mysteries for modern science in the process. ANZACS AT WAR: The Best 12 ANZAC War Stories Ever! Edited by George Low Carlton Books, $39.99 When this book arrived, I had to wrestle with my 10 year old, and I lost. I didn’t realize Commando comics were still being published, but apparently they are alive and kicking and publishing anthologies of their best stories as well. This one, with an NZ/Aussie theme, is an ideal birthday gift or late summer time-killer for either adult or
child – especially important for the latter when you consider that nearly a quarter of all Britons in a recent poll now believe Winston Churchill is a mythical person. The Commando stories are gloriously politically incorrect, “Take that, Fritz!” or “Those yellow monkeys are going to pay for this!” being good examples, but they still have power to inspire with stories of courage, sacrifice, and even honourable interaction with the enemy. With stories spanning the Maori Wars, Gallipoli, World War II and Vietnam, Anzacs At War runs the gamut of antipodean military excursions. THE IRRATIONAL ATHEIST By Vox Day BenBella Books, US$16.47 via Amazon WorldNetDaily columnist and Mensa member Vox Day turns his intellect on atheists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and delivers a literary lobotomy. Rather than arguing for the existence of God, Day argues against the rationality of atheism using one of the skeptics’ main weapons: logic. Sam Harris doesn’t make it out of the book alive, Dawkins is touch and go and Hitchens is left reeling by the end. In setting the scene, however, Vox Day throws up some useful and surprising data, such as the revelation that atheism may actually be a borderline psychological disorder: “There is even evidence to suggest that in some cases…atheism may be little more than a mental disorder taking the form of a literal autism. On one of the more popular atheist Internet sites, the average selfreported result on an Asperger Quotient test was 27.9. The threshold for this syndrome, described as “autistic psychopathy” by its discoverer, Dr. Hans Asperger, is 32, whereas the average normal individual scores 16.5.” That’s sure to put the cat among the pigeons. Whitcoulls and Borders should be able to order this title in, but if you can’t wait then you can download it (for an optional donation) from Day’s website as an e-book PDF. http://voxday.blogspot.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008 91
see life / music
Drive by Chris Philpott reckons Bon Jovi took a wrong turn on their comeback road Bon Jovi Lost Highway In this time of older bands reforming, releasing new material, and touring constantly, its easy to forget that some of the biggest acts of the 1980s, like Bon Jovi, have never really gone away. However, for those of you hoping for a return to the heights of 1986’s Slippery When Wet, consider this a word of warning. The group’s latest is nothing – repeat, nothing – like that record. It seems like Bon Jovi has gradually moved more and more into the feel-good, mainstream sector, and Lost Highway continues this unfortunate trend. Sounding more like a cheap Nickelback knockoff than a rock masterpiece in the mold of some of the groups biggest hits, like “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Livin on a Prayer” or even “Wanted Dead or Alive”, it’s abundantly clear that frontman Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, once talented superstars revered the world over, have lost their edge. It’s not all bad, as tracks like “We Got It Going On” and “Any Other Day” prove that these guys really do know how to write a great rock song, but Lost Highway just isn’t new and it just isn’t particularly inviting. Do yourself a favour and pick up one of the group’s best-of records instead. Tiki Past, Present, Future When legendary Salmonella Dub singer Tiki Taane announced that he was leaving the group that he joined in the mid-1990s, I was a little skeptical about the direction the remnants of the group would take in the time afterwards. But with Salmonella Dub successfully releasing their first album since the split, Heal Me in 2007, the spotlight turned to what Taane would do with his newfound freedom. The result is simply magnificent. Drawing on influences from all his musical pursuits – both with his former group and from various collaborations with the likes of 92 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
Concord Dawn and Hirini Melbourne & Richard Nunns – as well as the profound influence of his culture and heritage, Past Present Future looks set to be remembered as a classic Kiwi dub record and a perfect assimilation of the contemporary with the historical. The style of the record is established quickly as the Maori chanting and distinct traditional instrumentation on single “Tangaroa”, a haunting homage to the Maori god of the sea, segues into the trance/ hip-hop driven “Now This Is It”, providing a perfect snapshot of how smoothly Taane has managed to fuse these aspects of himself. Past Present Future proves that Taane truly is a unique talent worth celebrating. Highly recommended. The Mars Volta The Bedlam In Goliath Formed by singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez in the aftermath of post-hardcore group At The Drive-in, The Mars Volta seems to be one of those bands that doesn’t seem to get as much credit as they deserve. Famed for their combination of rock, jazz, psychedelic and Latin influences and their improvisational performance style, as well as a tendency toward concept albums, the Volta return with their fourth full length album The Bedlam in Goliath, a true ‘make-what-youwill-of-it’ record. Pinning down the style and themes inherent in Goliath is no easy task, with themes of mysticism and crypticism jumping out from the beginning. As fans could also expect, Goliath is reflective of the groups performance style, with extended solos, instrumental breaks and obscure timing and key changes coming thick and fast between Bixler-Zavala’s trippy falsetto vocals, and forcing the average track length close to 7 minutes. Highlights such as opener “Aberinkula”, “Metatron” and “Wax Simulacra” provide the core of an almost-schizophrenic record that is genius at times, while completely mundane and overly bizarre at others. Either way, The Bedlam in Goliath is one album to handle with care, as it definitely won’t suit the palette of the average listener.
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see life / movies
The last laugh The critics hate Jack Nicholson’s latest, but moviegoers made it number one at the US box office… The Bucket List Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman Directed by: Rob Reiner Rated: M for offensive language 98 minutes
on heaven’s door with all of your body fat intact.) Chambers is unimpressed by Cole’s demonstrations of wealth and power (he happens to own the hospital they are staying in), while Cole is mildly irritated by his roommate’s exhibitions of historical trivia knowledge. It is not long, however, before the two men are thick as thieves and conspiring to steal a few extravagant joys from their remaining days on earth. Working from a wish-list of things to do before they die (“laugh ‘til you cry,” “go sky-diving,” “help a complete stranger to the good”), they set off to on a globe-trotting excursion of daredevil adventure and indulgence, crossing off their bucket list as they go along. Justin Zackham’s button-pressing screenplay includes the obligatory spoilsport wife for Chambers (Beverly Todd) and a saucy administrative assistant for Cole (Will and Grace’s Sean Hayes, ferreting out the film’s few nuggets of zest). Marc Shaiman’s generic score milks the setup for all its inspirational laughs and tears; this
Jack Nicholson, playing a terminally ill billionaire, interrupts a board meeting to ask someone in a tone of withering impatience, “Did you ever read The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri’s journey into hell?” In point of fact, signor Alighieri also made significant stops in purgatory and heaven on his journey. But you wouldn’t think to correct Jack Nicholson once he puts on that scary mask of high dudgeon, the same one that made mincemeat of the persnickety diner waitress in Five Easy Pieces. Emulating Nicholson’s reductive version of Dante, The Bucket List never “Working from a wish-list of things to do before they die, they ascends from the bowels of tearjerk set off to on a globe-trotting excursion of daredevil adventure formula and audience pandering to a redemptive place of truth and art. and indulgence, crossing off their bucket list as they go along In Rob Reiner’s sodden comedy, Nicholson and Morgan Freeman recycle old screen personas with is the sort of slick entertainment machine you get stuck watching an abandon that borders on self-parody. on a cross-country flight, tanked up on $5 cocktails. Nicholson’s Edward Cole plays a variation on his adorable misIt doesn’t take much hooch to get woozy and combative over The anthrope (see As Good As It Gets), while Freeman’s know-it-all car Bucket List. My own breaking point came when our two intrepid mechanic, Carter Chambers, is another in his resume of unimpeach- buddies neglected to check “witness something majestic” off their ably noble and morally scrupulous teachers of life. In other words, list after seeing the Taj Mahal. he’s playing God again, God in a grease-monkey suit. Maybe it’s a little fruitless to try to deconstruct a Rob Reiner Cole and Chambers meet cute in a hospital room where they each movie, but did the writer ever visit the Taj Mahal? While we’re on learn that they have but months to live. (They are both suffering from it, did he ever read The Divine Comedy? cancer of the celluloid, that particular strain that enables you to knock Reviewed by By Jan Stuart 94 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
27 Dresses Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Edward Burns, Directed by: Anne Fletcher Rated: PG for coarse Language 108 minutes Is the long search for the new Meg Ryan over? That years-long quest to find a leading lady who could make her romantic hurt feel funny is a big reason romantic comedies have struggled in recent years. But could the new Meg be Katherine Heigl? In 27 Dresses, the Grey’s Anatomy ensemble member reveals that she was unjustly kept in the comic shadows of last summer’s Knocked Up. Heigl stands front and center in 27 Dresses and makes this effortlessly adorable if over-predictable and overlong romance the first pleasant surprise of 2008. In the best Meg Ryan tradition, when she pines, we pine. When she hurts, we hurt. And laugh. Heigl stars as not-so-plain Jane, the dependable friend that every bride leans on when that special day comes along. Jane is the ultimate bridesmaid, helping with the planning, the organizing, the cake-arranging, even the holding-that-big-gown-when-the-bride-must-go-potty. She is engagingly selfless on other women’s “big day.” “It’s their day, not mine.” James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted) finally earns a straight romantic lead role as Kevin, a slightly snarky newspaper reporter who covers weddings, writes warm and witty accounts of them, and longs for “my ticket out of the taffeta ghetto.” They meet cute. She’s injured at her umpteenth bouquet toss. She’s idealistic, lovesick for her boss (Edward Burns) and a true romantic. He’s cynical and not above using her lost Filofax to stalk her and figure out that she has a thing for weddings, and those often hideous “You can always shorten it and wear it again” bridesmaid
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dresses. Could she be a big story? Would such a newspaper account be a violation, to her? That “big story” presents itself when Jane’s dishy model sister (Malin Akerman, the only funny thing in The Heartbreak Kid) comes home and proceeds to sweep boss Burns off his feet. Will Jane be able to stay selfless, or will her heartbreak trump her concern for everybody else’s happiness? The screenwriter who adapted The Devil Wears Prada (Aline Brosh McKenna) doesn’t surprise us with her destination here. We know where this fight-fight-fight-fall in love comedy is going. Choreographer-turned-director Anne Fletcher (Step Up) serves up tried and trite musical montages of wedding organizing, wedding linedancing, even wedding toilet trips. The drunken karaoke moment is too My Best Friend’s Wedding. She also lets the movie go flat-footed at about the 90-minute mark and overstay its welcome. But there’s wit in this script, and Heigl makes the laughs land. That whole selfless thing prompts a “What about you? You don’t have any needs?” question. “No, I don’t. I’m Jesus.” Jane discovers that the guy who writes those sentimental wedding “commitment” stories for The New York Journal is her cynical nemesis. “I feel like I just found out my favorite love song was about a sandwich.” Heigl and Marsden are well-matched. To paraphrase what they used to say about Astaire and Rogers, he gives her charm, she gives him edge. He may be a bit too sweet, but we can believe Heigl would occasionally flip out and cuss a blue streak, thanks to Knocked Up. It’s not one for the ages, but this comedy about the “perpetual bridesmaid” suggests a romantic marriage between star and audience that could last and last. Meg would be proud. Reviewed by Roger Moore
By Roger Moore
27 Dresses Rating u PG-13 for language, innuendo and sexuality. What it’s about u A woman who has spent her life being the “perfect bridesmaid” begins to wonder if love will ever find her, just as she meets a cynical, smartmouthed newspaper wedding reporter. The Kid Attractor Factor u Katherine Heigl and James Marsden are the bickering wedding-goers in this romantic comedy. Good lessons/bad lessons u Hanging onto friendships means commitment, sacrifice and eventually wearing a very ugly dress. Violence u None. Language u Heigl, of “Knocked Up,” still remembers how to cuss. Sex u Hinted at, implied. Drugs u A boozy night of karaoke. Parents’ advisory u Not a bad date movie for teens, with good messages about friendship, selflessness, cynicism and love.
The Bucket List Rating u M for offensive language, including a sexual reference. What it’s about u A pair of terminally ill old men set out to have a few peak experiences, things they’ve always wanted to do, places they’ve always wanted to visit, before they “kick the bucket.” The Kid Attractor Factor u Curmudgeonly Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman act like overgrown kids as they sky dive, race cars and live it up. Good lessons/bad lessons u Everybody ought to have a “bucket list,” but not everything on it should be indulgent. Violence u None. Language u Some profanity, mostly thanks to Jack. Sex u Suggested, referred to. Drugs u Medicinal only, and some alcohol is consumed. Parents’ advisory u Genial, harmless old-guys-have-one-lastfling comedy with a few laughs, a few tears and not much other than language that would alarm parents of kids 12 and younger.
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see life / dvds mula for opposites that attract. They seem to be standing at the far ends of an unbridgeable gap. The feeble dramatic mainspring is Clement’s mission of vengeance against the tough guy who shamed him in high school. There are mildly amusing training sequences where he readies himself like a clumsy 13-year-old in ninja school. The showdown itself is rudely funny - the old bully is in no position to defend himself; Clement, frustration boiling over, flails at him anyway. And it’s entertaining to hear the actors do things to vowels with their New Zealand accents that cry out for humanitarian intervention. But the movie is so self-consciously odd and twee it’s hard to connect with the sad-sack characters. Waititi borrowed the formula for Dynamite but created a damp firecracker. Reviewed by Colin Covert
New Zealand comedy? Kiwi critics loved Eagle vs Shark, but overseas reviewers haven’t been so kind Eagle vs. Shark Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsley Directed by: Taika Waititi Rated: M for language, some sexuality, and brief animated violence 93 minutes Jemaine Clement and Loren Horsley play slackers in love in Eagle vs. Shark, a quirky romcom from New Zealand whose appreciation for Napoleon Dynamite tests the boundaries of copyright infringement. Horsley is a wan fast-food counter girl. Clement is a lunchtime regular, a narcissistic chain-store electronics salesman who makes her heart do back flips like a beef patty on the grill. She woos him with free french fries and crashes his ultra-exclusive video game party where guests are obliged to come in a costume representing their favorite animal. She arrives dressed for a grade-school production of Jaws. He presides over the glum little bash looking like a giant chicken. Although they’re incompatible on every basis except their shared nerdiness, first-time feature director Taika Waititi shepherds them through the straits of romance to a warmhearted finale. The film has a few serviceable ideas (aren’t we all playing games; aren’t we all wearing disguises?) and a daft sense of surrealism. As the mismatched pair stumble toward their happy ending, Waititi repeatedly shifts focus to the stop-motion animated adventures of two half-eaten apples whose exploits parallel the stars’. What’s lacking is the spark of inspiration. The misfit protagonists never develop much depth; we’re supposed to accept that her heart is his eternally after one comically desultory bout of sex. Horsley’s timid manner and Clement’s cocksure bravado don’t offer the for96 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM March 2008
The Kingdom Starring: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper Directed by: Peter Berg Rated: R16 for language and intense sequences of graphic brutal violence 112 minutes If a film could be medicated for schizophrenia, The Kingdom would be a suitable candidate for treatment. Almost every scene looks like it’s having a nervous breakdown, and the story plays out like a Rambo movie made by bipolar pacifists. The kingdom of the title is Saudi Arabia, America’s steadfast ally and home to most of the Sept. 11 terrorists. We are introduced to the complicated politics of the place with a little illustrated showand-tell sequence that establishes Wahabi Muslims as rogue agents inside the tenuously stable state. Americans, mostly oil industry employees, live in segregated compounds where they are free to pursue such Yankee pastimes as gender-integrated youth softball. When a squad of suicide bombers breaks through the Saudipatrolled security perimeter and reduces hundreds of residents to red mist, an FBI team led by Jamie Foxx hits the scene to investigate. They walk a diplomatic tightrope, reined in at every turn by their autocratic Saudi handlers, who would face a PR disaster if it appeared that U.S. investigators were taking command of the crisis. The local authorities won’t allow the forensics expert played by Jennifer Garner to handle the bodies of Muslim casualties and frustrate Chris Cooper’s explosives expert by trampling all over the blast scene. To add a further note of urgency to the proceedings, the FBI team has only five days to conduct its business and get out. The screenplay, which could have been assembled from odds and ends at an action-movie yard sale, lurches ahead. A highway ambush puts one of the agents in the terrorists’ hands, and as they set up the camera for a videotaped beheading, the rest of the team races to the rescue. Guns blazing, the U.S. agents raid a Wahabi zone where machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades buzz like mosquitoes. The film becomes a hallucinogenic swirl of jaggedly edited jump cuts and gut-clenching carnage that ends with a lot of people dead, but nothing really changed. The coda throws into question the noble intentions that supposedly guided the FBI team, creating a queasy moral equivalency between their actions and the terrorists’. I left the theatre completely uncertain about what the filmmakers intended to say about the orgiastic bloodshed they showed me. The Kingdom is an explosion of rage in search of a rationale. Reviewed by Colin Covert