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New Zealand’s best cur rent affairs magazine
INVESTIGATE BREAKING NEWS
We see them on the nightly news, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the daily parade of lives through the country’s District Courts. CLARE SWINNEY spends a day in the courtroom and talks to a Black Power ‘avenging angel’ about crime and punishment
THE WISH LIST Back in 1973, a radical group of feminist socialists drew up a blueprint to smash New Zealand society, once they’d infiltrated the Labour Party. Three decades later IAN WISHART discovers the ‘velvet underground’ now have only one goal left to achieve on their list
HELEN’S BIGGEST TEST It all seemed so easy just a few weeks ago, but now the Prime Minister is not only battling the fallout from John Tamihere, she’s also being sued, the Maori Party looks set to rob her of at least five parliamentary seats, the economy is heading for rough seas, and IAN WISHART believes it is now almost certain she will face a leadership challenge next year
TAMIHERE - WHY WE DID IT Last month we published the country’s most controversial political interview in more than a decade. Here’s our side of the story
FACE-OFF From implanting human brains into mice to introducing face transplants, is medical science finally going off its rocker? JAMES MORROW looks over the cutting edge
THE GLOBAL FREEDOM CRACKDOWN Western governments are using 9/11 terror fears to crack down on traditional freedoms and introduce a new surveillance society. JAMES ROBERTSON reports on the new dark age that’s coming
THE GUN DEBATE The acquittal of a Northland farmer for shooting an intruder has rekindled the gun debate. Libertarian PETER LINTON interviews gun expert GARY MAUSER
5/3/2005, 1:20 PM
EDITORIAL AND OPINION
5 issue 53 ISSN 1175-1290
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft NZ Edition Advertising Jacques Windell Contributing Writers: Neill Hunter, Peter Hensley, Clare Swinney, Chris Carter, Laura Wilson, Ann Coulter, Tim Kerr, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, and the worldwide resources of Knight Ridder Tribune, UPI and Newscom Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302-188 North Harbour Auckland 1310 NEW ZEALAND
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Focal Point Vox-Populi Simply Devine Political Heat Eyes Right Break Point Doublespeak Line 1 Tough Questions Short Circuit
Editorial Readers sound off on Tamihere Finding the cherub within Winston Peters in full flight Flagging changes The purposeless-driven left The safe sex myth The IRD and organised crime God needs a Rottweiler Then and now
Australian Edition Editor James Morrow Customer Services Debbie Marcroft, Sandra Flannery Advertising Jamie Benjamin Kaye Tel: + 61 2 9389 7608 Tel: + 61 2 9369 1091 Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983
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Peter Hensley on investment Bright, shiny things Claire Morrow on obesity Pat Shiel on space tourism Mt Kilimanjaro beckons Michael Morrisseyâ€™s autumn harvest Shelly Horton & Tim Kerrâ€™s reviews
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5/3/2005, 1:21 PM
ORIAL AND OPINION Editorial Can you hear the people sing? I am woman, hear me roar Goat-herders who take bribes The gun-control debate My curling wand is a lethal weapon Nationalism vs Globalism Campbell, Wood & Holmes The Resurrection - why is it important? Murphy’s Law, in technicolor
TYLE Peter Hensley on investment Bright, shiny things Claire Morrow on stress James Morrow on the latest green myth In the footsteps of Darwin Michael Morrissey’s autumn harvest Shelly Horton & Tim Kerr’s reviews
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NZ’s international cancer ranking a wake-up call
ancer. The very word strikes fear and trembling into the hearts of mere mortals everywhere, and a study released in the past few weeks has revealed that New Zealanders have the third-highest cancer rates in the world. The United States, Hungary, New Zealand and Israel all tussle for the top spots, while the lowest rate of cancer in the world can be found in the world’s poorest nations, Niger, Gambia and Congo. Sure, an arguable case can be made that poor nations may not be fully recording their cancer data, but nonetheless that doesn’t get Nearly 2,000 NZ women a year around the reality that develop breast cancer. Imagine how cancer is largely a first world disease. And sig1,000 women a year would feel if nificantly, among first that threat was lifted from them world countries who do properly tick all the checkboxes, New Zealand pretty much leads the way. Good old clean, green New Zealand...who’d ‘ve thunk? Well, a lot of people, actually. Is it a coincidence that one of the world’s leading per capita users of herbicides and pesticides and artificial additives and preservatives should have high cancer rates? Is it a coincidence that a country where dioxins are almost as prevalent as table salt that we have high cancer rates? And how come the millions of dollars we mugs donate to the various impressive-sounding cancer research charities every year don’t ever end up making a blind bit of difference to our cancer rates? All these things are valid questions, and perhaps I stand to be corrected in some of my perceptions, but sometimes I wonder. Researchers, for example, were quick to try and play down the large volume of published medical evidence that there’s a strong link between abortion and breast cancer. That’s because this issue is a politically-incorrect 6, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
“no go area”, in just the same way that the cause of cervical cancer is. Yet what do the figures tell us? Since 1975, just after the Roe vs Wade case in America that opened the floodgates on abortions worldwide, the number of breast cancer cases has doubled. Women who don’t have children are statistically far more likely to die of breast cancer. That’s why the international study published by Cancer Research UK warned: “Breast cancer rates in developed countries could be half...if women had large family sizes and breast-fed for longer.” Nearly 2,000 NZ women a year develop breast cancer. Imagine how 1,000 women a year would feel if that threat was lifted from them. How easy is it? Depends how much they value their lives. The other part of the problem in this equation is the naive Western belief that medical nightmares like this can be cured simply by throwing more doctors, more drugs and more money at them. We have built entire pharmaceutical empires on the mistaken belief that we can cure anything that arises, when in fact taxpayer and consumer dollars would be far better spent on an ounce of prevention by recommending dietary and lifestyle changes. We have at the moment the madness of the Labour Government trying to smash the dietary supplements industry in NZ so that international drug manufacturers and their own herbal offshoots get control of the NZ market. Suddenly, my right to buy a supplement with a range of vitamins and minerals is under threat because some wally in Health Minister Annette King’s office wants food supplements reclassified as medicines. Just what we need. More men in white coats earning fat salaries while all around us health problems escalate. Pass me another pill.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 7
LEADING LIGHTS The fire within
One of Investigate’s veteran contributors, book reviewer Michael Morrissey has not missed an issue with his reviews in five and a half years. The author, poet and university lecturer published his first collection of verse back in 1978, and has been prolific since then with more than a dozen works, most recently slotting in books like The Flamingo Anthology of New Zealand Short Stories and Heart of the Volcano around his reviewing committments to Investigate’s New Zealand and Australian editions. “Michael’s reviews are always a pleasure to edit,” notes Ian Wishart, “because essentially we don’t edit them. They’re great, they’re entertaining, and they’re a window to a range of fascinating subjects.” 8, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
James Morrow first arrived down under from New York four years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. The editor of the Australian edition of Investigate, in this issue Morrow looks at the growing surveillance state emerging in the Western world, and how a Canadian judge’s attack on personal weblogs foretells a greater conflict between personal liberty and government interference in the 21st century. Before taking the helm at our sister magazine, Morrow was regular contributor to The Australian newspaper, worked as a food critic in New York City, and was an associate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where he was a member of the traveling White House press corps during the Clinton administration.
OK, it’s not every day that an Investigate columnist makes the front cover of Time magazine, but Ann Coulter is no ordinary columnist. With three New York Times bestsellers under her belt, the attorney-turned-commentator has become the voice of conservatives in the Western world with her punchy, no-holds-barred style. “Despite the constant threat of the ‘religious right’ in America, there is evidently no such thing as the ‘atheist left’. “In a typical year, the New York Times refers to either ‘Christian conservatives’ or the ‘religious right’ almost two hundred times [or nearly every working day]. But in a LexisNexis search of the entire New York Times archives, the phrases ‘atheist liberals’ or the ‘atheist left’ do not appear once.”
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 9
COMMUNIQUES GOOD, HONEST CHOCOLATE What were you feeding John Tamihere at lunch, Ian? Whittaker’s Chocolate? Well done! Mary E. Hindmarsh, via email
& JUST A LITTLE ALCOHOL... Congratulations on a bombshell interview. I’ll put it forward for a Tui ad – “Sure I’ll have a relaxing lunchtime discussion with you, Mr Wishart – Yeah Right”. Stephen Franks, Act MP, Parliament
BROADCAST NEWS My quote of the week: “As a journalist, I’ll happily swear on The Code of Journalistic Ethics that the interview was not on the record and the recording device on the table looks like a phone.” Wishart, you have broken all the rules, lied, kicked a good man when he was down, done devastating disservice to Tamihere, journalism, democracy and New Zealand. No politician speaks in that manner on-the-record and in our politically correct and accountablity (sic) obsessed times, a realist likes (sic) Tamihere needs to let off steam under pressure. It is a time honoured privelege (sic) of trusted and respected journalists to provide that outlet in an off-therecord capacity, sometimes prior to or following an onthe-record discussion for publication. Your actions have eliminated this sacred relationship for all New Zealand journalists for all time and the consequences will be grave and far reaching. You will contemplate this at some stage. Tamihere, Kia Kaha. You are better off out of the Labour Party anyway; they are all like Wishart. Name and address not supplied WISHART RESPONDS
Dear Mum, lahst munth I culdnt spall jurnilst, now I are won. Go back to counselling – it’s obviously your real calling – and 10, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
leave journalism to those of us who actually know what the word means and have done the hard yards.
THE MACHINE’S FAILED EXORCISM In your article on John Tamihere, “The Ghost in the Machine”, your title was apparently lifted from Arthur Koestler’s 1967 (first) publication. His book, analyzing the tension between reason and imagination, addresses man’s “built-in error or deficiency which predisposes him towards self destruction” (preface). Could John Tamihere’s erratic behaviour be a more classic demonstration of this condition? The ghost has turned out to be not some nebulous apparition inhabiting the machine or some virus-like infection of the software. It has fleshed itself into a true saboteur shouting “queer” slogans and tossing ‘boots and all’ (with smarmy) into the intricate mechanism of the Labour team machine hoping “she’ll go to pieces”. Well, like the true politician he is, Tamihere claims he was gagged by “tape” and has now been softened by a generous dose of ‘smarmy’ to be re-cycled back into that same machine. This is what ‘team’ politics does to a man who appeared to show some principles of character. Malcolm Ford, Whangarei
HELEN CLARK IS NOT A LEADER The Tamihere episode and the Berryman bridge debacle have demonstrated one truth: Helen Clark is not a leader. Just a feminist self-serving political position-holder, as are the otherwise undistinguished women she had appointed to almost all senior positions. Underlying Tamihere’s outburst is his disrespect for his ‘boss’, (note, not ‘leader’). This is understandable. The more Clark abuses her office, the more there are those who recognise she has few genuine leadership qualities. The Berrymans’ case is a national disgrace. The bureaucracy’s treatment of them is immoral, to the
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 11
JT FAMOUS IN NEW YORK I’m a Latina from New York. I say “Right on!! Tamihere! You go!” You, sir, have stated EXACTLY what I feel. So many people I know agree with you. And if I am called anti-Semitic, it’s ok. It’s time the Jewish people stop feeling sorry for themselves. It has been long enough! They’re not the only ones that have suffered, so many other races and nations have had holocausts. The Native Americans for one, the Armenians, the Cambodians, the Tibetans, etc. Ms Vazquez, New York
PLEASE STOP APOLOGISING extent it is an indefensible travesty of justice. It is yet another of Clark’s leadership failures. She seems incapable of challenging the bureaucrats who control her. If the courts pillory Dr Rob Moodie with contempt action, for elevating justice above bureaucratic corruption, they will deserve everyone’s contempt. By placing our trust in the courts, to uphold our right to justice, we have all traded-off our formal natural right to seek just resolution of our grievances by taking matters into our own hands. If the courts abuse society’s trust – and the jury is out on the court’s independence – they will deservedly reap a whirl-wind of contempt and condemnation. Who is going to wrest power back from the ruling cabal of bureaucrats? Clark is demonstrably incapable of doing so. The bureaucrats’ brotherhood covered-up the Cave Creek debacle – which cost 14 innocent lives – obviously because their negligent fellow bureaucrats, in DOC, were responsible. No DOC bureaucrat has been charged by the OSH bureaucrats. We know why – cover-up. There is a double standard. The Berryman’s case has a further corrupt dimension – persecution, by OSH, of the innocent. The army is responsible for the bridge collapse. The Berrymans are persecuted innocents. Everyone knows that. The Defence (there’s a laugh!) Department is trying to obstruct justice, by suppressing evidence to which the Berrymans are entitled, to obtain overdue justice. Our morally leaderless government is cynically aiding and abetting the crime against justice. The government, the courts and the bureaucrats must accept the public’s contempt – and the consequences, when some decide to take matters into their own hands. I distinctly recall Clark cynically using the Berryman’s case for electioneering purposes. If elected, she promised to deliver justice to them. She has typically broken her promise. She is without true leadership qualities. Tamihere, by his crudely conveyed contempt for his Labour colleagues, obviously recognises that reality too. S T Jones, Hamilton
12, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
Go for it John. Don’t let them muzzle you. You are articulating what many of us think, believe and know to be true. Only please stop apologising. If the “precious brigade” get offended, resurrect them and offend them again. Some-one has to drag that holier-than-thou, condescending, finger wagging, patronising bunch of politicians, journalists and talkback hosts back to the muddy slimy pits where they belong. Don’t look back. John Davenport, via email
NAH, WHITTAKERS IS ALL YOU NEED It just makes me sick how the whole bunch of PC socialists get into a huff about some politician who, for once, voices what everybody thinks: everybody who has not yet succumbed to Labour’s PC acquiescence terror or given up their right of free thought and free speech. And if it needs an off-the-record record or a couple of wines to speak the truth, so be it. Maybe the whole Beehive should go into a boozy ‘truth’ weekend retreat. A new kind of Reality Show, a “Polit Survivor”, where politicians fight for the right to represent you. And where YOU have a right to vote them OFF. Mind you, there will be more skanky butch dykes, more fat-ass mental low fliers and more lethargic polit-suckers and associated social phagocytes who will be ticked off that reality check has caught up with them. Sadly, if anyone had the idea to nominate Tamihere for president they will have to think again after his disappointing weaseled retraction following his spinal surgery by Helen Clark. Name and address not supplied
TAMIHERE AND RESURRECTION Congratulations on the Tamihere scoop and on your analysis in Tough Questions. As a Progressive Jew I do not see it my place to comment on the Resurrection except that there seem to be other choices between miracle and deliberate untruth. James Carroll’s discussion of the subject under “The Healing Circle”
in his US National Book Award volume “Constantine’s Sword” a history of “The Church and the Jews” seems to find other possibilities, including relating to the psychological trauma suffered by Yeshua’s disciples. James Carroll was a practicing Catholic priest for a number of years and ended up very concerned that untruths were used from Constantine’s time onwards, to sell a message which is still causing undeserved hatred of the Jewish people. It is because this is a continuing process, threatening to both individual Jews and the State of Israel, that the Nazi genocide remains such a sensitive issue. Harold Baker, Milford
DID THE COVEN KNOW? Lest we forget. Last time John Tamihere cut loose, with that famous speech on ‘red-blooded males’, he first cleared his remarks with the coven in the Prime Minister’s office. Helen being such a control freak, as even admirers admit, it’s beyond belief that this time the Clark support system didn’t give permission for Tamihere to be interviewed by Investigate. And that the wimmin had absolutely no idea what a potent combination Tamihere, Wishart, a tape recorder and a vineyard would turn out to be. Pull the other leg, girls. With Brash being married to an Asian, Labour can’t take for granted the loyalty of its thousands of imported Asian voters. Many would quite fancy the idea of one of their own being the power behind the Nats in government. Meanwhile, Turia has thoroughly bitten the hand that promoted and patted her. She looks set to make a sweep of the Maori seats. It’s election year and Labour strategists must be panicking. Really panicking. Which ungrateful minority will abandon ship next? The environmentalists are restless and it seems only the gays can be counted on. One Maori seat is better than none. Let Tamihere off the leash. It all makes great spectator sport. Ann Macrae, Wairarapa
WHILE WE WERE SLEEPING John Tamihere’s statements confirm that New Zealand has been duped by a campaign of a collection of crusading minorities that took over Labour and then when Labour became Government took over the reigns of power. For two terms of Government our nation has been under the tyranny of these minorities who have worked systematically to dismantle what makes New Zealand the wonderful place to live and raise children. Their key weapons have been ideological arrogance (feminism, socialism, unionism and rightsism), over-taxation, political manipulation and social engineering. My only regret is that people like John Tamihere did not speak up earlier to let the electorate know what truly is hiding in Labour’s closet. David McKenzie, Edendale
TOP GUNS Congratulations on your magazine that shoots straighter than the F-16s that we don’t have. I have no doubt that when Aunty Helen finally declares herself to be Supreme and Absolute Ruler of Aotearoa New Zealand your magazine will be banned, all extant copies burnt, and the staff declared Unpersons. Jachin Mandeno, Auckland
DEATH OF TAXES Ian Wishart’s article “The Death of Taxes” which tells of a George Bush look at the possibility of abolishing Income Tax makes astonishing reading. A move to replace it with perhaps a 23% sales tax would May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 13
indeed put control of personal financial management into the public’s own hands and must be a huge incentive to save and invest. With the concerns raised all over the world about a fast growing older population this could be part of the answer. While I do not doubt America’s ability to make such a change, and do it cleanly, I am less optimistic about New Zealand’s changes. I think the record shows that with every tweaking of the tax laws in this country the government in power has always ended up with an ever larger tax grab. I believe Arnold Nordmeyer’s “Black Budget” of 1957 that hit Labour’s chances of re-election like a 10 pin bowling knockout caused our pain. My sister-in-law (at the time) did secretarial work for Walter Nash till his death in 1968. She said that he told her that after the 1957 fiasco governments would be very reluctant to be openly seen to be increasing taxes. “From now on Kath (he said) they will have to do it by increasing government charges and various other less confronting means”. Has this happened? It certainly has and under both National and Labour - with their coalitions. Did GST decrease our tax burden? Not likely, that tax is seldom even mentioned. So what’s the likely outcome here if the United States makes the move Ian outlines? I predict any government here would try to have it both ways. A sales tax and some Income Tax – and another chance to fiddle things. Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, too many government accountants cook the books and it’s never to the public’s advantage. Dale Tooley, Upper Hutt
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS? Once there was a happy family of people living on an island. Life was simple and very pleasant. As their numbers grew they appointed a person to organize their affairs on the island. It cost them 2% of their income for his wages and costs. This person began to organize others to help. Soon they formed a committee. The committee now charged 15%. Then one time the committee grew and grew until more than 40% of the people now worked for the committee. They charged the people 45%. They began telling the people how they must live. They introduced terms like “PC” and “Civil Union” and they increased their numbers. The people became very unhappy but the committee ignored them. The committee stashed away massive amounts of money taken from the people to buy their loyalty on E day when the people got just one opportunity to throw out the committee. But will they have the sense to do it? We will know by September. Denis Shuker, Hamilton
A MAGAZINE WITH BITE Wow! Talk about impact. This is the first time that I have picked up a magazine under the usual underlying presumption that what I am going to receive is the same sort of filtered down, weakened version of PC crap that we the public of New Zealand have not so slowly been conned into expecting and accepting as the norm in readership material these days, only to be gob-smacked at the intensity delivered in every article. It is so gratifying to finally find an avenue of influence within the media as you are, giving ‘sensitive’ topics and/or their writers an equally hard push back (and a few good shoves) in response to what they keep dishing out. At last, a magazine with real guts, prepared to say it out loud, with excellent argument, logic and tactic to support its ideas, clearly passionate about your standpoints, ready to give it as good as they give it. Awesome job, guys, thanks for a fantastic read. Gin Williams, Tauranga 14, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
BRAINDRAIN OR LOBOTOMY? I am writing to thank you for the excellent article in your April 2005 edition that examined the struggles of parents wishing to adopt children in this country. Our organisation runs a crisis pregnancy centre that supports women in all manner of ways so that they do not have to abort their babies. Our work is well established and many women have benefited from the support of our counselling team yet we receive absolutely no government funding. Our counsellors have experienced first hand the administration hoops that one needs to jump through when pursuing the adoption option. On top of this many government social agencies have policies that encourage women towards abortion rather than adoption. Is it any wonder that so many children pay the ultimate price of their lives every year in New Zealand? The fact is that many couples in New Zealand are desperate to adopt unwanted children but our social policies offer more hurdles than help to them. One also has to ask the question “where are the pro-choice” feminists decrying the lack of funding for organisations like ours that empower women to choose life for their babies? Without funding and support for organisations that allow women to keep or adopt their newly conceived babies can we really say that women have freedom of choice? There is also the often overlooked fact that abortion denies unborn women their freedom to choose life. Our government waxes lyrical about the brain drain New Zealand is facing yet at the same time they continue to fund the abortion machine that takes the life of our future scientists, doctors and business owners. Maybe if they made it easier for women to keep or adopt their babies then we wouldn’t be facing the grim spectre a decline in much needed population growth. Brendan Malone, Family Life International
THE GERM OF AN IDEA With respect to your response to my letter (April 2005), I cannot recall Pennock’s logic being exposed in previous correspondence. Can you be more precise? With regard to the matter at hand, I have not argued “that ID theory is unscientific because it does not yet have all the answers” to the questions posed by Pennock. (My emphasis.) He is simply asking for some precise and testable hypotheses from ID theorists that answer “the obvious questions”, if ID is ever to be taken seriously by the scientific fraternity. Which renders irrelevant your reminder “that evolutionary theory has no final answers to those either”. In fact, no field of science should ever claim to have final answers, given the provisional nature of science itself. Even the design hypothesis itself is lacking any scientific explanatory value, unlike evolutionary theory that does contain precise, testable hypotheses that attempt to “answer the obvious questions”. Inferring that the bacterial flagellum “appears, on the face of it, to be designed ”, does not provide a scientifically testable hypothesis. An appeal to some unknown agent is simply the classic argument from ignorance – it is scientifically worthless. In light of the above, your claim that ID theory is “unleashing the spirit of discovery once again” can only be regarded as wishful thinking. In any case, I wasn’t aware the spirit of inquiry had been lost, given that it is the very essence of the scientific enterprise. Surely the scientists who recently discovered the soft tissue in some T. rex bones are proof of this? Your mention of the bacterial flagellum reminds me of some recent scientific findings that strike at the very core of ID theory. The relevant implications of this research are discussed in an article: “The Flagellum Unspun” (in Debating Design. From Darwin to DNA) by Kenneth R. Miller. It has been demonstrated that the type III secretory system (TTSS) in certain pathogenic bacteria apparently enables the injection of nasty toxic proteins into a host cell. Once inside the cells, these poisons destroy them, causing illness and sometimes death.
It turns out that “the TTSS does its dirty work using a handful of proteins from the base of the flagellum”. The existence of this secretory system “in a wide variety of bacteria demonstrates that a small portion of the “irreducibly complex” flagellum can indeed carry out an important biological function.” Which means that “the contention that the flagellum must be fully assembled before any of its component parts can be useful is obviously incorrect”. Furthermore, there is even a suggestion that the TTSS may be an evolutionary precursor of the bacterial flagellum. Something I’ve noticed whenever the bacterial flagellum crops up in ID writings – invariably it is praised for its intricate structure (quite beyond any natural origin, we are informed), but there is never any mention of the fact that some of its possessors have been described as the most deadly bacteria in existence. Warwick Don, Dunedin WISHART RESPONDS
Warwick, with respect, what part of the word “design” does Pennock fail to understand? The very word implies intent, and I guess that’s why die-hard evolutionists want no part of it in public debate because it shatters the assumption that all that exists must have arisen purely naturally. As I outlined in my previous response, and which you have sidestepped, as humans we can inherently recognise design because we are, ourselves, designers. As I said, biologists may have problems getting their heads around a definition of design, but engineers will have no such difficulty in their own branch of science. Ask virtually any professional engineer what they make of the molecular rotary engines discovered in cells, and they’ll have no difficulty with the design analogy. Ask a biologist and they’ll bend over backwards to give you a million reasons why the molecular rotary engine is really a piece of toast. If biology researchers can’t get to grips with how nature might exhibit evidence of design, they’re obviously out of their depth. Bring in some engineers for an objective assessment: does this molecular structure appear designed – according to the human concept of design as we know it – yes or no? And finally to the TTSS. Is the secretory system not another irreducibly complex mechanism in and of itself?
ity, purpose/s for which it was made, appropriate components, shape and form, functionality) speaks for itself. And if there is design, then did some intelligence in the cell, radiation, or environment draw up the plan, organise and supervise the building, check the completion of it and finally its efficient functionality? Even Warwick’s letter was not written by the alphabetical letters coming together by chance. John Fong, Hamilton
LA-LA LAURALAND If Ms Wilson believed what she was writing and quoting as statistical evidence, (Investigate April 2005) she must also believe in the tooth fairy. New Zealand is by no means corruption free or even closely approaching that holy state. Corruption may take many forms, including gender preferences, the “old school tie” or Party organisation. The lack of responsibility accepted by those in charge, e.g., the Cave Creek debacle where no-one was prepared to accept the blame; and yet this event caused many deaths and a deal of residual grief. The INCIS debacle that cost this country 84 million-plus dollars and no-one was held responsible and called to account. The odd bottles of whisky for the Health Inspector doing his rounds of inspection. Recurring wasteful expenses in Government, covered up and hidden from the public. Members of the House wasting taxpayers’ money when indulging in facetious debates and childlike shouting and not bothering to be in charge of their portfolios. Public servants having a vested interest, whether in financial affairs or real estate and allowing this to cloud their better judgement. Racial and financial preferences when meting out judgements in the Courts. Gender equality and distribution in government has nothing to do with honesty and men are no more likely to be dishonest than women. What will influence the flourishing of a corrupt society is a lack of morality and leadership in Government. Dot Parsons, Richmond
MENINGOCCAL LAB WORKER INTELLIGENT DEBATE Warwick Don (Letters, April 2005) makes two claims about Intelligent Design. First, that those proponents of ID are religiously and philosophically motivated. I would agree if ID could not be logically and reasonably held. Evolutionists are often guilty of this claim. Remember Richard Lewontin’s famous words (he was an atheist geneticist): “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life… because we have a prior commitment to materialism….Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” (“Billions and Billions of Demons”, The New York Review, January 9, 1997, page 31). Secondly Warwick quotes Robert T Pennock : “If ID is to have even a shot at being a real scientific alternative, one should expect to see some precise, testable (and eventually tested) hypotheses that answer the obvious questions: what was designed and what wasn’t; and when, how, and by whom was design information supposedly inserted?” This argument is fallacious, an Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. First we have to define what science is. Briefly, it is the objective observation and experiment of how things work. In other words, God created and we humans are trying to find out how His creation works. Secondly, the fact that we cannot test as to when, how, and by whom things were created relate to our inadequacy of knowledge (procedure) rather than to the absence of ID and a Creator. (Will science ever satisfactorily explain creation ex nihilo?) Suppose a stone-age tribe came across a computer. Their ignorance does not disprove that the computer was not designed and that no one made it. The object (its complex-
I find it really hard to swallow the current line of BS & mind-control this government is sticking to our kids in school. The news that an experienced researcher at Chiron’s own lab succumbed to the disease had me immediately asking “Surely she was vaccinated?”. The media didn’t seem to ask this question at all and when, after 3 days, the Ministry of Sickness announced that she had NOT been, I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the equally ridiculous & somewhat contradictory reasons given: 1) she didn’t fall into the Ministry’s criteria for receiving a vaccination (due to age, not her non-citizen status!), and 2) there’s no point in vaccinating someone such as her, as they’d have to give several hundred vaccinations…oh, really??? a) The Ministry’s criteria are irrelevant because her employer (Chiron) OWNS the vaccine and b) If I were working with a deadly bacterium, I’d expect to be vaccinated as part of my employment terms. Surely this warrants a little investigation? Either she was or she wasn’t vaccinated. If she wasn’t, then where’s the faith of the producing company? If she was, why doesn’t it work (and why won’t they admit it doesn’t work)? Mike King, Dunedin
Letters to the editor can be posted to: PO Box 302-188, North Harbour, Auckland, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 15
MIRANDA DEVINE Finding the cherub inside the horrors
t is clear from the extraordinary success of TV programme Supernanny that Australian parents are suffering a crisis of confidence in their childrearing skills. And judging by a study released last month by the Australian Childhood Foundation, insecure mums and dads are crying out for guidance on how to control the brats who rule their lives. The study revealed that 38 per cent of parents surveyed say parenting does not come naturally and 63 per cent are “concerned about their level of confidence as parents”. Perhaps the trend of permissive parenting, launched by Dr Benjamin Spock in the 1950s and ’60s as a reaction against the authoritarian child-rearing practices of the past, has gone too far, leaving The transformations worked by a generation of laxly parented parents clueless Frost in each show after a “healthy about how to manage dose of discipline” are all the more their own children and for advice. remarkable when you see how desperate If you take the pathetic happy and calm the children are American families on after their autonomy and dignity Supernanny as an example, it seems modern parents have supposedly been stripped are afraid to set any kind from them of rules for their children for fear of damaging their self-esteem and losing their love. So you have situations in which a 10-year-old flips the finger to his mother and tells her to “f... off ” , a four-year-old spits in his mother’s face, children refuse to go to bed, eat their dinner or stop screaming and swearing at their parents, as happens every week on Supernanny, and the parents do nothing more than say, “That wasn’t very nice”. “Oh honey,” says one mother when she finds her wild three-year-old son wandering around outside with a pair of lethal-looking secateurs. In steps British “supernanny” Jo Frost, 34, whose seemingly magical ability to control the brats in these 16, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
desperate families is really just old-fashioned discipline and common sense. She makes judgements about right and wrong. She uses such politically incorrect words as “naughty” and “discipline” and “tames” and “authority”. Bad behaviour she deems “unasseptable”, a mispronunciation that has become her trademark. Her methods have been criticised by child psychologists who regard them as anti-child, brutalising, unnatural, psychologically destructive and eroding the dignity and autonomy of children. The Sydney University anthropologist of human development Stephen Juan has gone so far as to describe Frost as a “devil Mary Poppins”. But then, you would expect the experts to disapprove. After all, they have replaced the mothers, grandmothers and neighbours of old as dispensers of child-rearing advice, and their theories are the reason a generation of parents don’t trust their instincts. But as most real-world parents will attest, children crave boundaries. The transformations worked by Frost in each show after a “healthy dose of discipline” are all the more remarkable when you see how happy and calm the children are after their autonomy and dignity have supposedly been stripped from them. Angry, out-ofcontrol brats become adorable, smiling cherubs. The Orm family’s “trio of wild boys”, Chandler, 8, Caden, 6, and Declan, 3, for instance, started out in a recent episode as aggressive, rude, angry and disrespectful. Chandler treated his mother with contempt, talking back and hissing at her under his breath. Her response was to plead, “Chandler, honey, don’t yell at me, sweetheart”, which made him more contemptuous. “Please, please, please,” she begged her children, watching helplessly as they smashed their toys and ran wild though the house. “These children are ruling the roost,” Frost tells the TV audience. “They do nothing but constantly snack through the day.” Frost pointed out to the mother that all that snacking made the kids hyperactive and said that was why they wouldn’t eat dinner. “Mum has to assert
“But the self-confessed insecurity of parents and their hunger for guidance indicate that several decades of permissive parenting aren’t working. The chaos in schools as hapless teachers try to discipline children whose parents can’t control them, and the pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs to regulate these children’s wild behaviour, are symptoms of the problem” herself,” Frost tells us. “She doesn’t hold authority with her children … They don’t look at her with any respect.” To the tearful mother she says: “You feel guilty if you have to discipline your children. You [fear] you won’t be close if you put your foot down.” The poor exhausted mother cries: “I want to be supermum.” Another mother with a plumber husband who is rarely at home, a two-year-old who won’t go to sleep at night and a tantrum-throwing six-year-old who thinks his parents are a joke is near breakdown. “I haven’t a clue,” she weeps. “It’s a horrible feeling because I love my boys so much and I don’t want to screw it up.” The nanny sets a routine for each family, with a timetable mapped out from morning to night. She sets up an area called a “naughty mat” or a “naughty room” where children are sent for time out if they misbehave, and she trains parents to nip bad behaviour calmly and firmly in the bud. Lo and behold, the children respond by controlling themselves. The two-year-old learns that screaming and getting out of bed will not be rewarded with cuddles on the couch at midnight. The six-year-old treats his parents with new respect.
It’s a lesson the parents in the Australian Childhood Foundation survey may want to heed. Asked what strategies they used to teach children the difference between right and wrong, 98 per cent or more think it is about making children feel loved, spending time with them and setting a good example; 82 per cent favour rewarding good behaviour and 78 per cent reason with their children. All are admirable qualities, but pointless unless backed by firm discipline, something just half the parents employed. Only 53 per cent of parents surveyed used Supernanny’s favourite “time out” strategy, 46 per cent created a diversion if the child was misbehaving, 38 per cent grounded the child and just 4 per cent used a smack. But the self-confessed insecurity of parents and their hunger for guidance indicate that several decades of permissive parenting aren’t working. The chaos in schools as hapless teachers try to discipline children whose parents can’t control them, and the pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs to regulate these children’s wild behaviour, are symptoms of the problem. Supernanny may not have all the answers, but at least parents are beginning to ask the question.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 17
It’s the vision thing
everal years ago there was a popular movie called ‘City Slickers’. It told the story of a group of city dwellers including Billy Crystal, being escorted across outback America herding cattle, by a weathered and wrinkled old cowhand named Curly played by Jack Palance. In one of the more poignant moments of the film, the wizened old character Curly turns to Billy Crystal’s character and tells him that the meaning of life came down to just one thing. And he then held up a single craggy weather-beaten finger to reinforce his point. These were to be Curly’s final words as he New Zealand has experienced closed his eyes, passed the most aggressive period of away, and left Billy Cryssocial reform in living history, tal’s character to ponder with almost every social norm on what he meant. What was this one that we once accepted now thing that mattered turned on its head most? Let me tell you today that the election in 2005 will ultimately be about one thing and one thing only. Unlike Curly, I am quite happy to tell you what that one thing is – it is leadership. Leadership, particularly in a political context, is often hard to define. Some people describe it as effective management – and the current Prime Minister is certainly adept at managing the flow of spin surrounding Labour’s agenda of social engineering. And now thanks to Mr Tamihere if we were in any doubt about this agenda it is now out there for all to see. This Prime Minister has made a virtue of managing her people and resources to see that agenda through. As a consequence New Zealand has experienced the most aggressive period of social reform in living history, with almost every social norm that we once accepted now turned on its head. 18, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
From gay marriage, which actually came into effect yesterday, through to legalised prostitution. From banning our old soldiers from having a smoke at their RSA through to open door immigration policies. From the burgeoning treaty gravy train through to the feminising of every key position in the country – every thread of what we once recognised of being a New Zealander has changed under this government. One could say that the Prime Minister has cynically and deliberately managed this agenda. In the other tired old party in New Zealand, we see the last vestiges of the ‘born to rule’ mentality as a form of leadership. It is not based on merit or skill, but rather an arcane view that simply because they exist they should be in charge. Sadly, much of our media still fall prey to this thinking and grant this party far more time and coverage than they deserve. They are constantly trying to breathe life into a political corpse, which has long since passed from political relevance and is now nothing more than a pale shadow of a once great party. There is of course another type of leadership which will be one displayed during this election campaign. It is not one based on cynical management or on a born to rule mentality – but it is one based on a vision which will inspire and uplift New Zealanders. Ultimately it is this style of leadership which gives people hope. It is this type of leadership that the current Prime Minister fears most. She knows that if the people have hope, her subversive social agenda will be compromised. Her government is like a black hole which devours light and hope and replaces it with first complacency and then despair. We raise this point because it will be the defining element of this campaign. This is because Don Brash is simply not capable of taking the Prime Minister on. He is not strong enough – he is a political hitch hiker. Politically impotent, devoid of original ideas, he lacks any spark or charisma.
In fact there is only one leader capable of taking on this Prime Minister and he is staring you in the face. There is only one with the experience, skill and political aptitude to tackle her head on. Political leadership is not a game for novices. You would have thought the National party would have learnt from the last two novices they put forward to tackle this Prime Minister. They have made the same mistake again. We in New Zealand First know that there is no substitute for experience and political nous. There is another reason this Prime Minister does not want to have to confront New Zealand First. We are not like the doormats she is used to dealing with – like United Future. What sort of Christian party allows prostitution to be legalised and gay marriages to go ahead on their watch and then has the gall to claim it provided the stability for the government to do it? This Prime Minister knows she can placate these minions with a soothing word here and there – or perhaps it is as Mr Tamihere describes and she sends Dr Cullen to outwit them. Either way, this Prime Minister knows that if it is New Zealand First she has to deal with then all the tossers, tuggers, and smarmers in the world will not stand in the way of us achieving what we promise those who support us. We will be campaigning on providing hope to those people who have been forgotten – and that includes our seniors. Earlier this month at the Greypower AGM we outlined our senior citizens policy. It is a policy based on providing the deserving elderly with some optimism for their future. We highlighted our intention to introduce a Golden Age Card which encapsulates many of those aspects necessary to improve the quality of life for our seniors. The first point was to raise the level of superannuation from the current rate of 32.5 percent of the Net Average Wage individually for each married superanuitant to 34 percent. This will put nearly $10 a week extra in your pockets. In the long term our aim is to lift superannuation to 72.5 percent of the Net Average Wage for couples. We will also address the anomaly which exists in relation to the non-qualified spouse and bring their rebate rate down from 70 cents in the dollar on income over $80 to 30 cents like other benefits. The card also includes improved subsidies for healthcare and pharmaceuticals. We intend to ensure that the subsidies currently available to those enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation are extended to all GPs to ensure that location does not dictate the cost of your doctors’ visits. We also intend to: ■ improve the rates rebate scheme; ■ lower charges for power, gas and telephone; ■ improve access to savings incentives in the form of bonus interest rates on term deposits; ■ and extend transport and other discounts available to seniors. We are proposing that the card be developed as a ‘smartcard’ as this will enable the card to be ‘loaded’ with all of the relevant information associated with the benefits available to the cardholder. For example when you go to the doctors or the chemist, all the benefits and subsidies you are entitled to will be automatically recorded on the card so you won’t have keep filling out forms. This will also apply to your lower charges for power, gas and telephone – it will all occur automatically by swiping the card. The current rates rebate scheme is not accessed by all who might be eligible because many people are not aware of its existence or how to access it. It provides too little to too few. Labour has belatedly acknowledged this, but has done absolutely nothing about accessibility.
With our plan a swipe of the card will establish eligibility and credit the appropriate amount. You won’t have to play hide and seek with officials to get your entitlement. Our aim is to see this card become a universally recognised symbol for all of the associated discount schemes, including travel. What it means in brief is this – “the holder of this card is a valued member of our society. Please give this person every courtesy”. Also included in our policy, but not part of the Golden Age Card, is the need to dramatically increase funding to the eldercare sector and to remove income and asset testing. This policy is based on a vision of our seniors living with dignity. We do not want to manage them, but rather we want to empower them to manage their own affairs. This is the type of leadership we need, leadership which inspires our people to a better way of life. It is the type of leadership that others shy away from. Already the leaders of the two tired old parties have come up with umpteen reasons of why we can’t afford to treat our seniors with dignity. We say with a little leadership and refocusing priorities it can be done. Helen Clark won’t provide this type of leadership and Don Brash can’t. Only New Zealand First can and will. Leadership with vision, leadership with hope. They say why it can’t be done – We say why not! With your collective voting power, remember there are nearly one million of you over 55, you can make this vision a reality. But it is not only our seniors that require genuine leadership. We have a confused situation among Maoridom unfolding, with some offering a vision of the past and others offering no vision at all but token gestures. Maori are crying out for leadership to inspire them and as our track record shows we are the only party capable of providing Maori with the leadership they need. We strip the political correctness away and promote strong educational standards, improved health outcomes and positive employment prospects. This is the vision Maori need. We do not denigrate their culture, but nor do we allow race to be an accepted excuse for failure. We provide leadership that understands what it means of be a New Zealanders of mixed heritage. We are the only party willing to show leadership on immigration issues. When others hide behind the shroud of political correctness, we say that the numbers and type of migrant are all wrong. We say that if you want to address the skills shortage, bring in migrants with skills, or better still train a young New Zealander. We don’t want people who will only build ghettos in South Auckland and abuse the family reunification policy to bring in more of their ilk. As the strain of this on our infrastructure becomes clearer all we can say is that we told you so and that we will fix it when we are in the next government. You will probably see National produce another borrowed policy, this time on immigration, in the near future. After all they have tried to pilfer our Treaty, law and order and roading policies. But we suggest you read the fine print of what they are saying and look at their track record. Your choice now is to decide which type of leadership that you want to follow. A party vote for New Zealand First will secure you strong and effective leadership. It will deliver you leadership committed to seeing through its promises. If it is leadership and vision backed by action that you want then you really only have one choice – a party vote for New Zealand First. We look forward to rewarding your trust. Every month from here to the election Investigate will publish a leader’s speech, as a public service May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 19
RICHARD PROSSER Flagging the changes
t is the week before Anzac Day, another vintage is almost upon us, and Central Otago is changing colour as the grapes ripen through the hazy days and cool nights of autumn. Ninety years ago next week, young men from right here, and from all over New Zealand, were fighting and dying on the beaches of Gallipoli. There were no vineyards here then, but the peaceful freedom which has allowed them to flourish these past thirty years is testament to the sacrifices made by that great generation, and by those who followed them through the terrible wars and conflicts of the twentieth century. And something else is changing colour, perhaps; the New Zealand flag, the colours under which those patriots of yesteryear wrought their piece of the Sword of Liberty, on the anvil of Thirty years ago, my primary tyranny and oppression. emotive? Maybe, school day began, every day, with a butToo a flag is an emotive whole school assembly, flag break, thing, not just a piece of and a rousing rendition of God cloth. Our flag tells a story, the story of our Defend New Zealand . It probably past, of who we are, and sounded awful; so what, it felt great where we are, and from whence we came. People don’t fight and die for a piece of cloth, or even for the design on the piece of cloth. They fight for what that design represents. The New Zealand flag represents us all, in that respect. The stars of the Southern Cross mark us as a Southern People, they tell of what we share with all our Pacific neighbours, and with the other nations of this newer hemisphere. The red, white, and blue show that we are a proud and patriotic people, unapologetic in our love of justice, unafraid of the traditions of our heritage. The Union Flag of Britain tells that we are, or were, a British people; that we were once a colony, that our nation was forged by pioneers and visionaries, and that 20, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
the spirit of adventure still burns within us. The Union Flag says that we were once part of a great Empire, and that we are still part of a great Commonwealth. And it belongs to us all; when Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi, they also signed up to becoming British subjects. The Union Flag is as much theirs as anybody’s and, of course, it tells a story of it’s own; a history of peoples and places far older than our young country, and of the values and traditions inherited from them, which have made our nation the free and prosperous place we all love and call home. But is our present flag the only design which can represent our changing nation and its diverse peoples? The New Zealand Ensign was gazetted in 1902, and the New Zealand of today is not the New Zealand of a hundred years ago. Perhaps it is time for a change; which begs the question, to what other design? Proponents of change offer a number of reasonings to support their argument. High on the list of these is the supposed similarity between the flags of New Zealand and Australia; it is claimed that it is too hard to tell the difference. They are probably right, in this day and age. Far too many – particularly young – New Zealanders, have too little in the way of recognition of their country’s flag, our National Anthem, or a sense of pride in their nationhood. Why is this? In this writer’s opinion, it stems from the same insidious campaign of social engineering which has crept through New Zealand’s social, educational, and media establishments these past few decades, quietly instilling socialism, globalism, and liberalism, and stifling celebration of our glorious, raucous, bloodied past. If people can’t tell the difference between our flag and that of Australia, perhaps they should fly it a little more often. Thirty years ago, my primary school day began, every day, with a whole school assembly, flag break, and a rousing rendition of God Defend New Zealand . It probably sounded awful; so what, it felt great.
“Political Correctness, globalism, pacifism, and the politicisation of the media, the military, and the Police, are the greatest insults we can offer to the memory of the fallen. I would doubt that many of those fine patriots would object to the adoption of the Silver Fern on Black, so long as it still represented the New Zealand for which they fought and died”
Do kids today do the same thing? No way – so why not? Who, when, where, and more importantly why, did someone decide that our children were no longer to have a daily dose of healthy pride in their country? I would guess that it was about the same time that the school system and social service providers were infiltrated by the same genderless, internationalist, academics who today are running the country. I traveled Europe for three years with one New Zealand flag on my Swanndri (as if it needed one) and another on my backpack. Fellow Kiwis recognised it instantly. Hardly surprising, as my generation grew up with it, just as we grew up learning, and having pride in, our country’s military history (and capabilities), and the Kiwi traditions of hunting, rugby, and running over possums in the car, which back then was a good old six-cylinder, column-shift, Australian gas-guzzler. Remember that? In those days the educational system, and the boys which it taught – who would grow into men – had not forgotten that the way to deal with bullies, whether in the playground or on the battlefield, was to thump them, good and hard. Today’s young erectile dysfunctionals are more likely to be advised to button up their cardigans, and go tell the United Nations. “Oooh, no, you can’t hit anyone, and aren’t guns nasty? Hurry up now, you’ll be late for your Peace Studies Whanau Group.” Some also argue that having the Union Jack on our flag is outdated and demeaning, that we are no longer a British “colony” but an independent Pacific Rainbow society, multi-ethnic, diverse, and blah blah blah. I say rubbish. If people don’t like the values and traditions of the world’s English-speaking societies, perhaps they should go and live somewhere that doesn’t have them. If the diversity of foreigners we have allowed to migrate here in recent times didn’t think our way of life was better, they would have stayed at home, y’know? But for all that, the flag is not the only symbol which represents us, as a nation and a people. If the truth be known, the New Zealand ANZACs, and our WWII veterans for that matter, fought under the Union Jack as frequently as they did the New Zealand Ensign, and identified themselves in the field with the Silver Fern and the Kiwi more often than not. We do not dishonour these men by changing the flag of their country. We dishonour them by dispensing with the values for which they fought and died – Truth, Justice, Courage, Sacrifice…and Honour. Political Correctness, globalism, pacifism, and the politicisation of the media, the military, and the Police, are the greatest insults we can offer to the memory of the fallen. I would doubt that many of those fine patriots would object to the adoption of the Silver Fern on Black, so long as it still represented the New Zealand for which they fought and died. If there is to be a change, that is what New Zealanders will vote for, however afraid Helen Clark and others may be of the power and elegance of Jet Black. It will not be any of the other ridiculous designs suggested, with their Greens, and Pinks, and browns, and silly amalgams of little-known Maori motifs and meaningless wavy lives.
I believe a change in the flag will come, for better or worse, just as I believe Republicanism will come, with the same misgivings. I must confess to being somewhat ambivalent on both subjects. What concerns me most, is that so many people appear to believe that it will make some mystical difference to our nation and to their daily lives. Those individuals – or organisations for that matter – who have no respect for the lives, rights, or property of their fellows, or for the values on which our society was founded, will not suddenly gain it if the Union Jack is removed from our flag. Likewise, those politicians, of all hues, who have no regard for the truth, spirit, and meaning of democracy, will not abandon self-interest or corruption, simply because we have replaced one figurehead with another. And if we were to have a President rather than a Queen, what would be the advantage? If we desire an Executive President, we may be better advised to select the holder of the office of Prime Minister – who effectively fills that role in New Zealand anyway – by universal ballot – rather than add another layer of politicians and their accompanying corruption to that which we already have. If we are to remain with a figurehead, perhaps we could take a step outside the box, and make a gesture which may just have the potential to unite our fractious and resentful nation. Perhaps we could opt to select the Maori Queen as the person to be our Governor General, our Queen’s representative, and in so doing, provide ourselves with a truly New Zealand Head of State? Republicanism versus Monarchy, in our Parliamentary democracy, is not really about a major philosophical choice, however much the social engineers and theorists of the political left would like us to believe so. This is a human world, and in our human reality, the choice still comes down to personality, or more to the point, about the perceived capabilities of personality. And the truth is that if Princess Anne – her mother’s daughter, as we know her to be - were next in line to the throne, the whole subject of republicanism would be a non-issue. Thankfully, outside of the unworldly academic Left and their broadcast media toadies, there is little enthusiasm for republicanism, so the debate, and its associated costs and bitterness, can stay off the agenda for the time being. In the meantime there are more important things with which we need to concern ourselves. The Treaty isn’t going to go away all by itself, and we still need a written Constitution to temper the excesses of unfettered power as it is exercised by the Executive at present. We still need to restore confidence in the Police, and halt the dangerous slide towards the politicisation of the Armed Forces; and above all we must, as a nation, take responsibility for, and action against, the ethical corruption spreading through big business, education, the State sector, and even the Churches. If we do not do this, our nation and our society will crumble and fall; we can change the flag if we choose, but we must not fall into the trap of believing that doing so will amount, in itself, to anything other than a coat of paint over the rust. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 21
ANN COULTER The purposeless-driven left
t’s been a tough year for the secular crowd. There was Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the moral values election in the U.S., the Christian hostage subduing her kidnapper by reading from The Purpose-Driven Life, and the Christian effort to save Terri Schiavo. And now, for all the hullabaloo in the media, you’d think the Pope had died. In defense of one of the Catholic Church’s most ‘controversial’ positions, I wanted to return to a story from a few weeks ago that passed from the headlines far too quickly. The ‘controversial’ position is the ban on girl priests. I’ll leave it to the Catholics to explain the theological details, but we have a beautiful pair of bookmarks to the exact same incident illustrating women’s special skills and deficits. The escape and capture of Brian The escape and capture of Brian Nichols shows women Nichols shows women playing roles playing roles they they should not (escorting dangershould not (escorting dangerous criminals) ous criminals) and women playing and women playing roles they do best (making roles they do best (making men better people). men better people) Nichols’ murderous rampage began when he took the gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother who was his sole guard at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia. It ended when an otherwise unremarkable 26-year-old woman appealed to the Christian conscience of this same violent killer holding her hostage. At 2 a.m. one Saturday night, Ashley Smith went out for cigarettes while unpacking her new apartment. Returning from the store, Smith was grabbed by a man at her front door, who put a gun in her side and told her not to scream. In Smith’s apartment, Nichols bound Smith’s feet and hands and put her in the bathtub. Later, at Smith’s 22, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
request, Nichols allowed her to hop into the bedroom, where she began talking to him. In short order, Smith was reading aloud to Nichols from the Christian book The Purpose-Driven Life – in direct violation of his constitutional right to never hear any reference to God, in public or private, for any reason, ever, ever, ever! After reading the first paragraph of Chapter 33 aloud, about serving God by serving others, Nichols asked her to read it again. Smith read to Nichols some more, both from the Purpose book and from another popular book that’s been dropped from all news accounts of this incident: the New Testament. (In the Hollywood version, Smith will be reading from the Koran.) Nichols told Smith she was ‘an angel sent from God’, calling her ‘his sister’ and himself her ‘brother in Christ’. Nichols said he had come to Smith’s home for a reason, in Smith’s words, that ‘he was lost and God led him right to me’. This lasted long into the night. They watched Nichols’ shooting people on TV. Nichols said he couldn’t believe he was that man. In the morning, Smith made Nichols eggs and pancakes. Then she left the apartment to call the police. When the cops arrived, Nichols surrendered, utterly transformed. Heaven help the average liberal if this ever happens to him! What would an urban secularist do? Come, let me read to you from Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men. It’s also another example of how universities are failing students. Today’s university women would be dead: They know nothing about Jesus Christ and can’t cook a good meal. Smith saved the soul of a man on a killing spree by talking to him about Christianity. But liberals think this won’t work with the Muslims? We ought to fly this Ashley Smith to Saudi Arabia. We could just make her a box lunch every day and send her on her way.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 23
IAN WISHART The safe sex myth
lmost twenty years ago now, at the height of the 1980s AIDS scare, I submitted an article to Metro magazine debunking the hype that had grown up around HIV contagiousness. Essentially, mainstream media had been falling over themselves – with the help of the AIDS lobby groups who wanted the (largely heterosexual) world to pour money into finding a cure – to portray AIDS as a syndrome that would eventually affect all heterosexuals. They extrapolated out HIV infection rates – already artificially-inflated because everyone who’d had the mysterious illness for the previous ten years turned up to their doctor to be officially The ‘no rubba, no hubba’ diagnosed in a short space time – and earnestly campaign deliberately fails to of reported that New Zeawarn teenagers, or anyone land could have 900,000 else, that condoms will not HIV cases by 1995. As the billboard says, save them from the most “yeah, right”. So the premise of my common STDs article was that the media spin was wrong, that HIV would never be a significant threat to the heterosexual community, and that promotion of condoms as a means of “safe sex” for gay men was a load of old cobblers. And before any of my vociferous critics cut in here and say it was my “Christian bias” manifesting itself, I’ll add that I was not the evangelical then that I am now, and only a couple of years previously had spent five months flatting with a group of gay men. “Homophobia” was not the motivating factor of the article: smelling a good old-fashioned rat disguised with lashings of PR-spin was. The central issue that scientists were discovering was this: HIV is actually very hard to catch on a one-off basis, unless a number of pre-conditions exist. Those 24, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
pre-conditions make sex a whole lot riskier, but it was politically-incorrect to publicise them in the mid-eighties and remains so today, judging by newspaper reports last month on the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and the need for people to use condoms. Here’s the news that was true in the 80s and remains so now: in unprotected sexual intercourse between an HIV positive male and a woman, neither of whom have any other STDs or any open cuts on their genitalia, the chances of HIV transmission were about one in 500 based on research data out of the US. However, if either or both parties had other STDs, the chances of HIV transmission jumped dramatically to an almost certainty. Conversely, the chances of an HIV-infected woman passing the virus to a healthy male in heterosexual intercourse were about one in 3,000, unless either party had an existing STD or engaged in sex acts that broke the skin, such as anal intercourse. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if the HIV-infected partner was married or in a ‘committed’ relationship, that the risk to the other party greatly increased over time because of the ongoing nature of the unprotected sex, but nonetheless this was not going to lead to a heterosexual explosion of AIDS unless the innocent victim was also as promiscuous as an alley-cat. The reason HIV has decimated Africa is partly cultural and partly medical. In many parts of Africa, tribal healers told men that the cure for their HIV status was to rape a young virgin. Women in Africa are routinely subjected to gang rapes and other indignities, often on a regular basis. To make matters worse, the Africans were already carrying very high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and other non-sexual tropical skin infections that made the risk of transmission between any two people exponentially higher. And let’s take a closer look at the condom issue. Back in the eighties, researchers very quickly worked out that while condoms should work, on paper, in practice they were highly unreliable, and here’s why. Firstly, they were
“Why aren’t the Family Planning authorities telling the media that condoms don’t actually work? Because the only option left if condoms don’t work is promoting either abstinence or monogamy, words that make dyed-in-the-wool liberal social engineers choke”
prone to breakage when used anally in as many as one in four uses. Do the math on potential HIV risk yourself: anal intercourse is already highly likely to break the skin, and hence a huge danger, and if condoms break in 25% of cases then that’s a lot of potential HIV transmission, which probably explains the ongoing HIV explosion in the gay community. Gay men statistically have far more sexual partners in a 12 month period than heterosexual men, so spread through the particular community will be faster. Nor are condoms a get-out-of-jail free card for heterosexuals, despite what the media and family planning associations would have you believe. A Sunday Star-Times article on Anzac weekend quoted Family Planning warning that Chlamydia is now epidemic in NZ and the most common communicable disease after the flu. Yet nowhere in the article did Family Planning confess that this is because condoms do not protect against Chlamydia, or herpes, or genital warts – all of them dangerous pre-conditions if you ever are exposed to HIV.
The ‘no rubba, no hubba’ campaign deliberately fails to warn teenagers, or anyone else, that condoms will not save them from the most common STDs. Little wonder our STD rates are going through the roof even though condom use has risen hugely since the 1980s. Why aren’t the Family Planning authorities telling the media that condoms don’t actually work? Because the only option left if condoms don’t work is promoting either abstinence or monogamy, words that make dyed-in-the-wool liberal social engineers choke. How is it that these people can look gullible young journalists in the eye without blinking, and keep promoting condom use as the answer to “safe sex”, when researchers know, and I know, it just isn’t true? Take New Zealand’s cervical cancer epidemic. It is entirely caused by promiscuity. A staggering 98% of cervical cancers are caused by the same virus that causes genital warts. If a woman has genital warts, or has sex with someone who has them, she greatly increases her risk of developing cervical cancer. Yet where are the news articles and TV ads reminding us of this? We spend, as John Tamihere noted, millions on screening campaigns and nothing in prevention. Cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease. Like HIV or Chlamydia, it is entirely preventable. Perhaps if high school sex education was based around pointing out the inherent risks of either serial promiscuity (a string of one night stands) or parallel promiscuity (ongoing sexual relationship with two or more different partners), we might actually start to see a reduction in STDs and thus a reduction of the risks of HIV pre-conditions becoming entrenched here, as in Africa. Sure, it won’t stop young people from taking risks, just as they do with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and cars. But at least they won’t be able to say they were not told just because a bunch of liberal social engineers didn’t want to face up to the dark downside of the sexual “revolution”.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 25
Organised crime? Let loose the dogs of the IRD
t could well appear that, almost alone, in a country awash with newspapers, the New Zealand Herald of recent times has rejoined the small number of internationally respected newspapers that actually are involved in some serious investigative reporting. This, certainly as far as New Zealand is concerned is probably not that surprising, in that, whilst simply repeating verbatim or with minimal re-writes the pre-packaged dross that pours forth from the wire services appears to be the daily bread of so called journalism in NZ, to actually research out a story of worth appears now to be the sole preserve of Is the Finance Minister, Michael the Herald, and indeed it Cullen frightened of the criminal is one of their latest investigative pieces that I gangs, or is it perhaps that there is feel should have our so some kind of feeling of brothercalled government hanging their heads in abject hood and respect between folk shame. Criminal gang who share a common desire to drug-generated cash takes rob the population at large? now exceed, by hundreds of millions of dollars, the entire police budget...which should also I guess go a long way towards explaining, as the ever spiraling number of druggies finance their newly discovered drug habits, why our property is now being stolen in ever increasing amounts! I clearly remember in the early 1980s interviewing on radio a very bright young policeman who, by his academic brilliance, won a year’s study course to the United States, for the sole purpose of studying in some depth the exponential growth of drug-based criminal gangs in American society. This officer returned to New Zealand with a very clear message, that unless immediate and well planned steps were urgently undertaken, within a decade we would quickly be seeing the establishment of a gang-based criminal empire almost beyond our imagination. Naturally, as is so often the way in this 26, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
country, his dark, if very well informed warnings, though very well publicised at the time, were simply dismissed by his police bosses as being alarmist, and of course by the then politicians, who then, as now, insisted that not only was everything in Godzone’s garden lovely, but furthermore that she’ll be right, using the usually honeyed, weasel-words to ensure that a largely innocent citizenry would believe that all was well. The Police Association at this same time, incidentally, brought to New Zealand a senior NYPD police officer, who essentially gave us exactly the same message, but also had first hand experience of the New York based ‘Broken Windows Policy’, where in short, in the Big Apple, break the law, no matter how small that law, the book is simply thrown at you, the theory being, jump on low level crime and people are less likely to progress to the big stuff. (A system that for New York has been spectacularly successful, taking that city from being virtually the crime capital of the United States to one of the safest)! Here in New Zealand, for some strange reason or another, most of us seem to be afflicted with a very unhealthy concern as to the manner in which we should treat our burgeoning criminal population, from the ultra liberal belief that ‘patter-cake’ punishments will somehow rehabilitate young thugs as they commence an almost guaranteed life time career of rape and pillage, to the adoption of a touchingly innocent if patently dishonest system of prison sentencing, where even the perpetrators of the most appalling crimes of violence are back out in society committing exactly the same kinds of offences after serving a remarkably short sentence, usually made even shorter by a parole system that would have had Jack The Ripper very likely put forward for Sainthood! As any of the few remaining real men left in this country will tell you, fear is the key if you want to keep young guys on the straight and narrow, not repression, just a healthy fear of the consequences of breaking the predetermined laws that society has put in place for the
community’s general peace and wellbeing. Water the fear factor down, as in recent years we most certainly have, then you can absolutely guarantee a rise in youthful offending. Same rule applies actually to just about everyone. For instance, despite all the blood and guts ads that various government agencies bombard us all with re the dangers of drinking and driving, huge numbers of people still do it don’t they? Reason? Well it’s pretty simple really...the punishment for DIC first time up is a joke, like usually around an $800 fine and loss of license for six months, where, if you come up with a good story you can usually score a daylight or working license easy as. But if you got caught driving pissed and the car you’re driving goes straight in the crusher regardless of who actually owns it; DIC would become unknown over night. But don’t worry, it will never happen mainly because you can pretty well guarantee that as many people making the laws drive around the place tanked up as the people that they are supposedly trying to catch, as we well know from the regular reports of MPs, Judges, coppers etc who are caught behind the wheel tight as ticks. But I digress, with young fellers, (the real ones that is rather than the ones whose inherent lack of testosterone condemns them to a lifetime of goody two shoeism) young fellers of vim and vigour from time immemorial have always tested society’s boundaries, with the only known way to keep them in any sort of order, being penalties for wrongdoing that they really fear or at least have much respect for. Take, as we undoubtedly have done in recent times, these sanctions away, and quite predictable human nature dictates that young folk will kick over the traces. Problem today is of course that with the huge new industry of ‘counselling’ and other branches of the sharing and caring racket to be fed, nurtured and of course paid for, there is very little real chance of us abandoning the need for the hordes of bearded and sandal-wearing folk to occupy themselves tut-tutting either with the victims of various crimes, or for that matter with the perpetrators. ‘Social’ agencies now employ thousands of otherwise hopelessly inadequate producers of either goods or useful services, what else could really be done with these folk? Which reminds me of a cartoon doing the rounds in the States at the moment...At the scene of a tragedy out there on the prairie, a couple of cowboys eye something out there in the distance...“Hard to tell from here” says one, ”Could be buzzards, could be grief counsellors”...How very true! But back to the now crystal clear, at last undeniable truths that confront us all...New Zealand’s criminal bike and various ethnic gangs are now making well over a billion dollars a year out of the manufacturing, importation and distribution of drugs… The police, according to the Herald’s investigation currently have a mere forty officers attached to a dedicated anti-drug squad, and even some of them are being detached from these duties during times of
emergency…like when silly old George Hawkins the Munster of Police is being embarrassed yet again in Parliament. Brings us, as parents I guess, to ask a pretty simple question. With the country now quite clearly awash with drugs, pray tell us, apart from trotting out more weasel words and indeed outright lies, what does the Government intend to do to immediately turn this very dangerous state of affairs around? I am always reminded as to what it is that a Government’s top two priorities are always meant to be. One, to provide the means to ensure national security, two, to ensure through the law and adequate policing of the law a peaceful internal situation where the people may enjoy safe and tranquil surroundings to go about their business and their lives. Well, would I be wrong in thinking that with the essential emasculation of our armed forces, the Government’s first bounden duty is a complete failure, and that locally, despite the most appalling lies that Cabinet Ministers now tell us on a very regular basis, that their second main duty to the people of this country is in an even worse state of disarray! OK, easy to criticise is it not. How about some ideas to sort these criminal gangs out and where better than with an entirely new approach? Which government department has by far and away the most draconian powers of all? That’s right you got it in one. The Inland Revenue Department. Alright then, we all know that throughout the country various gangs have gang headquarters, sometimes large and presumably very expensive properties to boot. Gang members frequently ride thirty thousand dollar plus Harley Davidson Motor Cycles or drive late model cars etc etc. A simple visit from the IRD to these people and a demand as to where the hell the money came from to pay for all of this, and it should quickly be game set and match. Put it this way, if the average Kiwi over a short period, especially if purportedly unemployed or on a ‘sickness benefit’ suddenly bought an expensive property or a string or expensive motor vehicles, you very quickly would find yourself done over like a dinner by the IRD, would you not? Well, a further question. Is the Finance Minister, Michael Cullen frightened of the criminal gangs, or is it perhaps that there is some kind of feeling of brotherhood and respect between folk who share a common desire to rob the population at large? Certainly, no one will ever persuade me anything otherwise than the unsavoury fact that NZ’s criminal gangs have enjoyed almost a form of political protection if not patronage for a number of years now. That the IRD, with police help and protection of course, could largely shut down gang operations within twelve months I think there is little doubt. The mere fact that NZ’s criminal gangs are in essence almost officially tolerated, certainly not in any real or effective way being targeted and destroyed, perhaps is the real scandal, making it vital for all of us to ask. Why not?
“Gang members frequently ride thirty thousand dollar plus Harley Davidson Motor Cycles or drive late model cars, etc etc. A simple visit from the IRD to these people and a demand as to where the hell the money came from to pay for all of this, and it should quickly be game, set and match”
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 27
IAN WISHART Why God Needs A Rottweiler
he newspaper front pages said it all when Pope Benedict XVI ascended the throne in the Vatican late last month: “God’s Rottweiler”, “Panzerkardinal”. Here in New Zealand, Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams tried to suggest to Bishop Pat Dunn that the Catholic Church had “missed its chance to enter the 21st century”. As if, somehow, the church has to reflect modern secular attitudes to stay relevant. There’s news for many of the media commentators and fringe lobby groups who resent another conservative at the helm of the paand that news is all The idea that religion should pacy, bad: Christianity doesn’t change itself to reflect human have to stay relevant to trends, rather than God, is survive in the modern age – instead, citizens of the almost a given in some sectors of modern age need to return society these days – usually the to Christianity to survive. That modern liberals sectors who would never darken a seek a religion that reflects church doorway even at Easter their own views and behaviour, rather than core values, is no surprise. That desire explains the massive rise in Eastern and New Age beliefs in the West, where people are soothingly reassured by spiritual snake-oil salesmen that “there are many paths to God, find what works for you”. For a generation that has trouble getting out of their armchairs to change a TV channel, such anything-goes religion is non-threatening, easy to comply with and really cool if you love mung beans. Pope Benedict himself wasted no time declaring that Western secularism is the biggest threat to Christianity. “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” the new Pope warned. The idea that religion should change itself to reflect 28, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
human trends, rather than God, is almost a given in some sectors of society these days – usually the sectors who would never darken a church doorway even at Easter. No longer having faith, they would prefer the Church join them by abandoning its faith as well, “lightening up a little”, and what’s wrong with abortion as a form of contraception anyway? But the times they are a changing. Few could have failed to note that many of the mourners for Pope John Paul 2, and many of those who cheered at the news of Joseph Ratzinger’s election as the new pope, were young. Many of the cynics and critics are baby-boomers. There is not just a culture clash underway on religion, there is an intergenerational clash as well. The children of the baby boomers think their parents are immoral, inept and bereft of basic values. While mainstream liberal protestant churches in the West are dying a horrible death, Pentecostal protestant churches are booming, as GenXers return to the faith their parents abandoned. Pope Benedict knows this too. His choice of the name Benedict is significant for a number of reasons. The Benedictine order of monks were primarily responsible for the Christianisation of Europe during the dark ages. The original evangelists bringing light to the world. Many observers say this Benedictine papacy will be a battle for the hearts and minds of Europe again. Yet it will be a battle without compromise. Pope Benedict staunchly resists the notion that Christianity should somehow be watered down to appeal to Western liberals. Better, says the Pope, to remain true to your core beliefs than set yourself adrift in the sea of relativism where truth is meaningless. If that means the Catholic Church continues to shrink in Western Europe (it is exploding in Latin America and Africa), then so be it, as Britain’s Independent noted. And there is another fascinating twist to Ratzinger’s choice of “Benedict”. Back in the year 1140, a monk known to history as St Malachi is said to have received visions from God of 112 future popes.
According to those visions, the man just elected will be the second to last pope: “111. The Glory of the Olive. The Order of St. Benedict has said this Pope will come from their order. The Olive branch is a sign of peace and he may be a peacemaker or dark skinned. It is interesting that Jesus gave his apocalyptic prophecy about the end of time from the Mount of Olives. This Pope will reign during the beginning of the tribulation Jesus spoke of. The 111th prophesy is “Gloria Olivae” (The Glory of the Olive). The Order of Saint Benedict has claimed that this pope will come from their ranks. Saint Benedict himself prophesied that before the end of the world his Order, known also as the Olivetans, will triumphantly lead the Catholic Church in its fight against evil.” According to Malachi’s prophecy, this pope will have a short reign, marking the start of the tribulation leading to Armageddon. At 78 years old, Pope Benedict XVI will not remain in power for long. The liberal wing of the Catholic Church, which tried to mobilize against Ratzinger in the conclave of cardinals but failed, now has a few years to regroup and be better placed at the next conclave, perhaps
within a decade, to give us a Pope of enlightenment and liberation from the shackles of the past. Which brings us to the last of St Malachi’s prophetic visions. “112. Peter the Roman – This final Pope will, it is argued now by theologians, likely be Satan, taking the form of a man named Peter who will gain a worldwide allegiance and adoration. He will be the final antiChrist which prophecy students have long foretold. If it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. The 112th prophesy states: ‘In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End’.” Regardless of what one thinks of Malachi’s visions and end-time theology, there’s no doubt the man now at the helm of the Catholic Church will be a defender of the faith from the erosion of postmodernism, in a Europe fast losing its Christianity and returning to paganism. God needs a “rottweiler” for times such as these. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 29
FROM 1975 TO 2005 The retro years
1975: Long hair 2005: Longing for hair 1975: KEG 2005: EKG
Just in case you weren’t feeling too old today, this will certainly change things.. Each year the staff at Beloit College in Wisconsin puts together a list to try to give the faculty a sense of the mindset of this year’s incoming freshmen. Here’s this year’s list:
1975: Acid rock 2005: Acid reflux
The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1987.
1975: Moving to California because it’s cool 2005: Moving to California because it’s warm
They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.
1975: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor 2005: Trying not to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
Their lifetime has always included AIDS. Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.
1975: Seeds and stems 2005: Roughage 1975: Going to a new, hip joint 2005: Receiving a new hip joint
The CD was introduced the year they were born. They have always had an answering machine. They cannot fathom not having a remote control.
1975: Rolling Stones 2005: Kidney Stones 1975: Being called into the principal’s office 2005: Calling the principal’s office
Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show. Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
1975: Screw the system 2005: Upgrade the system 1975: Parents begging you to get your hair cut 2005: Children begging you to get their heads shaved 1975: Passing the drivers’ test 2005: Passing the vision test 1975: Whatever 2005: Depends
30, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
They can’t imagine what hard contact lenses are. They don’t know who Mork was or where he was from. They never heard: “Where’s the Beef ?”, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel”, or “de plane, Boss, de plane”. Do you feel old yet? Pass this on to the other old fogies on your list. Print it in larger type, for those of you who have trouble reading
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May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 31
COURT in the act Where the rubber of criminal justice hits the road
To most of us they’re an occasional headline on the nightly news, an excuse for a television crew to descend like buzzards on someone’s tragic story then take wing in search of the next victim. But to those on the endless cycle of crime, punishment and reoffending, this is their life. CLARE SWINNEY is inside the Whangarei Court for a day
32, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
t’s just after 10am inside the Whangarei Courthouse on a mild, sunny April morning. Maori families, interspersed with a smattering of Pakeha, line the seats in the main foyer. Most are dressed casually and while some look dazed and rumpled, others smile and laugh, seeming relaxed, as if they are accustomed to the place. Sitting in the middle of this flotsam and jetsam is a smartly-dressed Maori volunteer community worker in her 60’s. Sophie Tito’s eyebrows raise ever-so-gently at a journalist’s line of questioning, an ever-soslight twinkle in her eyes as she explains why she’s been coming here for over 30 years to give support to people awaiting hearings. “I see the concerns, the upset of the parents. I try and comfort the people and give them guidance. A lot of the young ones don’t have anyone to support them,” she says. A person might be on the wrong side of the law, but it’s customary for the Maori community to let the offender know that he or she is still loved by the whanau and the wider community. Currently, about half of the adult prison population is Maori, although they only comprise about 14% of the New Zealand population. Similarly, since the early-1990s, around half of police apprehensions of children and young people are Maori. Sophie is here today at the request of a grey-haired matriarch whose son is going before a judge. She was also here a fortnight ago. “They never settle it. It’s a minor, fiddly thing to do with his neighbours, to do with intimidation, a dispute. This case has been going on for nearly two years and has been stressful on the family,” she laments. Two Black Power members standing a few feet behind Sophie catch her eye and she asks what their family names are. The younger, whose body language is like Schwarzenegger’s, answers “Waetford.” Thirty-four-year old Charles Waetford, or “Choc” to his mates, is about to go before Judge Morris, and has removed his patch as a sign of respect. He normally keeps it on in the courthouse, so too his friends, who as a rule, thumb their noses at the ‘NO PATCHES IN COURT BUILDING’ signs, and meet with virtually non-existent resistance from the Court. The same Court security worker who warned this journalist not to take photographs in court had earlier smiled to Waetford and said, “I’m not harassing you to take your patch off today.”
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 33
Facing a charge of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, a very serious offence, Waetford’s chosen to act for himself, as his lawyer won’t do what he wants. Either way it won’t make any difference, as the case probably won’t proceed because the Crown’s only witness won’t attend the hearing. The police prosecutor, Ken Andrews, says she’s been “spooked.” If she does appear, Waetford claims he doesn’t care. He says in his bass gravelly voice: “I’ve got no problems with going to prison. It’s part of my life. I take my medicine like a man. That’s how it is. That’s why people come to me, because they know I’m honourable. I don’t take nobody with me.” He’s been in and out of prisons since he was old enough to hear the clang of metal doors being locked behind him. Waetford began offending shortly after his family moved from the country town of Maungaturoto to a rough, poor district in Whangarei called Otangarei – where he currently lives. His first brush with the law was for vandalising a stockyard at age ten, and his crimes escalated in spite of his parents’ persistent demands for him to behave. Like 75% or so of New Zealand prison inmates, he quit school without gaining any educational qualifications. He left in the 4th Form and began committing burglary with older boys at only 14, opting to join the Black Power when he saw two of its members being treated like “royalty” at a party. “I wanted to be treated with respect like that,” he says.
ike Sophie, he regularly attends Court in order to offer support, in particular to first time offenders, but his priorities differ. “They’re not criminals - nowhere near my league. I want to point them in the right direction. Some don’t know what they’re doing or what’s happening. A lot of justice isn’t served because of that. A lot of people plead guilty when they shouldn’t of,” he says. In her book The Journey to Prison, Celia Lashlie proposes that New Zealanders need to admit “the degree to which skin colour and money play a part in determining who gets to go to prison in this country.” Pakeha for instance are far more likely to be fined for offending while Maori are more likely to be given a prison sentence. According to Waetford if you don’t have money you are handicapped not only in the courtroom, but also in the prison system. He says if one employs a lawyer on legal aid, the service won’t be as good and one won’t be given the same respect as if one had paid the lawyer money from one’s pocket. And if behind bars, whether innocent or guilty of serious charges, around $25,000-30,000 will get one the best lawyer to appear in the High Court who knows the judge and bingo, you’re freed. “I’m not saying it’s a pay-off system, the judge isn’t being bribed, but justice is for sale. It’s happened to me. And my mate paid 55 grand for his lawyer – he walked free,” he says. Obviously, being a member of a wealthy criminal fraternity has its benefits, but it’s not all beer and skittles. All of Waetford’s gang mates from the early days, who were a year or two older, are no longer with us. They ‘fell off the waka’ so to speak. They slipped up. Reading between the lines it was apparent that they had been dealt to mortally. “We’ve got rules to live by too. If you don’t live by the rules…We don’t have many, but they are very important,” he says. In contrast to the Once Were Warriors stereotype about gang members, his dad wasn’t a Jake the Mus type. Waetford was raised in a loving home, devoid of violence. The only thing about being an outlaw that bothers him is that it hurts his parents. His emotions are sealed off to the many others he’s harmed in one way or another along the way. He made it apparent that the Black Power is exploiting a criminal element in society that shouldn’t be there and has been able to carve
34, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
“He left in the 4
Form and began committing burglary with older boys at only 14, opting to join the Black Power when he saw two of its members being treated like “royalty” at a party. “I wanted to be treated with respect like that,” he says”
“The same Court security worker who warned this journalist not to take photographs in court had earlier smiled toWaetford and said, “I’m not harassing you to take your patch off today’”
Photography: CLARE SWINNEY
out a niche for itself for a number of reasons, one being that its black market legal system is more effective than the police in dealing with some crimes. He said some of his offending is associated with “helping people who have problems they can’t go to the police with.” These “problems” have recently included someone’s 15-year old daughter being given free methamphetamine by a middle-aged, European man; somebody having their dope and drug money pinched and so on. “People come to us when this justice system can’t be used. There are a lot of abused, young people out there who aren’t getting sorted out [protected] by the Court, they’re getting sorted out [protected] by the Black Power,” he offers. For instance, a woman whose ex-partner beat up her daughter couldn’t realistically ask for police assistance, because the abuser said he’d inform the police of her drug taking – consequently she went to the gang. He solves “problems” using round-thetable negotiation, threats or muscle, and takes pride in it. “I don’t think I do anything wrong …well I do, but my value system is different to yours,” he says, adding that he has no inclination to reform and intends to stay with the Black Power for the rest of his life. Although the need to appear staunch is a constant weight on his shoulders, he loves the money and the lifestyle it provides. Over in Courtroom Two, Sam Paikea (not real name) is called in before the judge – he’s a middle-aged Maori, who has been charged with altering his time sheets. The hearing is put off for another date. Then Joseph Penny (not real name) is called. His hair is like a bird’s nest and he’s casually dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a baseball cap. He’s up for burglary, but his defence is that he was in May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 35
the toilet while the two others accused committed the crime. It’s not the first time he’s been here. He’s convicted, fined and ordered to pay court costs. Then Waetford is called and takes the stand. As the Crown’s witness has failed to appear, again, the trial can’t proceed today and is put off until a later date. The judge advises him that he’s not to contact the witness, nor ask anyone to contact her on his behalf. He and his heavily-tattooed friend leave the court, proven once again immune, and demonstrate that there is one law for them and another for everyone else.
n the other side of the building in the High Court, 25-year old Paul Heke, (not real name) another repeat offender, is escorted in by a security guard for sentencing. Heke has unevenly-cropped black hair, a large spider’s web tattooed on his right elbow and unearthly-looking pallid skin as a result of five months behind bars. This young man left school at only 12 years of age, has 18 convictions and a history of drug-related offending, which includes four convictions for drug dealing and one for theft of drugs. His parents, his auntie and his two young children wait at the back of the court, where he turns his head repeatedly to smile, and communicates his grief in the process. Heke fell into the methamphetamine trap and was apprehended with 192 pseudoephedrine tablets as well as utensils that are used in its production. The police estimated that the tablets could have been used to manufacture between $4,500 to $7,200 worth of methamphetamine. The judge, who called it “a rotten, horrible drug,” and “a scourge,” said he was worried about Heke’s likely future behaviour, because his track record indicated he wasn’t likely to reform. Heke’s lawyer said in his defence that his then partner was a methamphetamine addict and he had acquired the pseudoephedrine tablets to exchange for cooked methamphetamine for her to use. He wasn’t going to manufacture it she said. His partner and he had since split up and now she was living with her parents in Kaitaia. His family was caring for the two children, who were taken from her by Child, Youth and Family. Also, his lawyer said that his auntie would look after him and give him a job when he was released and he would then be given the opportunity to bond with his children, which he hadn’t yet done. She also claimed that given the changes within the whanau structure, the chance of Heke re-offending was low. Not surprisingly, nobody looked convinced, least of all the judge, who ruled that Heke would serve a prison term of a further 7.5 months on top of the five he’d already served. Judges try where they can to give people programs that have some rehabilitation component. In this case he ruled that the release conditions would include drug and alcohol counselling, relationship counselling, as well as a period of community service. Heke looking dazed but grateful, turned to his children and parents again to smile, before being escorted to the van and driven back to prison. It was a tragedy to witness. Back in Courtroom Two, spritely 48-year old criminal lawyer Kelly Johnson, quickly paces round the floor to one of his clients: a bulky middle-aged Maori man in a black coat with a shaven head. Johnson discusses his legal strategy with him after having carefully assessed the police evidence against him. The case is standard fare for the District Court, and of the variety he’s been handling for more than a decade. He says that while many people mistakenly believe that the role of a criminal lawyer is to “get people off,” their job is to give people access to the law. This might not mean that they get off, but it might mean that they have a defence.
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“People who aren’t dealing with the law, don’t always appreciate that it’s all about evidence. We focus on evidence and legal issues and help our clients to focus on those too and try and cut through the extraneous material, so that we can advise them where we think they stand and give them access to exercise their rights,” he says. Johnson, who graduated from Auckland University, deals with cases that carry a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment related to cannabis, domestic violence, burglary, drink driving and assaults. He is also an actor of considerable ability – he played ‘Spook’ in the film Spooked, based on Ian Wishart’s Paradise Conspiracy, and ‘Blondini’ in Goodbye Pork Pie. “People who come into the Court are often in an emotional state and confused. They ask me, “Why am I here? What’s going to happen? Why are they doing this?” Basic questions,” he offers. Most criminal clients are legally aided – in other words the State pays for their legal expenses. As lawyers’ reputations are based on what they achieve, it doesn’t make any difference if they are paid via legal aid or otherwise. You don’t get better results just because you’ve paid your lawyer privately he says. A significant proportion of Johnson’s clients are recidivist offenders and he and other lawyers see the same parade of faces year in year out. “The same families keep coming to the Court. When I’ve spoken to
“Often you’ll get people who want to be accepted by somebody or a group – maybe they’ve been rejected or unloved by their families, so they redirect their need to be accepted by becoming involved with the wrong crowd”
Probation Officers they say they’ve sometimes dealt with the grandparents of young offenders and the parents. So it’s a cyclic thing,” he offers. It’s a career option for some it seems as 86% of those released from jail, re-offend within five years. Frequently offenders have a low standard of education, are inarticulate, lack good personal hygiene and abuse alcohol and marijuana; the latter being particularly prevalent amongst the younger ones. “It’s a shame they don’t realise they could feel good about themselves without having to get blotto,” Johnson offers. Poor self-esteem is a problem common amongst offenders. “They don’t seem to appreciate that they’re capable of much better for themselves. If only they could see it! It’s partly their youth and immaturity that doesn’t let them see it. Often you’ll get people who want to be accepted by somebody or a group – maybe they’ve been rejected or unloved by their families, so they
redirect their need to be accepted by becoming involved with the wrong crowd,” he asserts.
ccording to Johnson, the saddest aspect of the lawyers’ job is dealing with people under the care of the Mental Health authorities, some of whom are homeless and regularly come before the court for “niggly, public nuisance charges” because they are unwell, but not so unwell that hospitalisation is necessary. The judges’ sentences often reflect an awareness of their mental health status, but not always. Overall Johnson believes offenders are treated fairly. “Our system isn’t perfect, but it tries to be fair and it’s the best one we have. The State charges somebody with a crime and in order to make sure that person has a fair trial or as fair as possible, the State then pays for that person to have a lawyer. It seems that our system does its best to give the alleged
offender as much access to the law as it can,” he asserts. While harsher penalties for crimes were introduced with the Sentencing Act 2002 they won’t solve anything in Johnson’s opinion. “It doesn’t get to the heart of the problem, which are a variety of social factors. I think jail fulfils two of the aims of sentencing, which is punishment, and to a much lesser degree deterrence, but I don’t think longer sentences make much difference in the end. I think that longer sentences are to placate the public and to win votes for politicians. Jail is expensive, but it’s cheaper in the short term than trying to solve society’s social problems.” The Ministry of Justice predicts that the number of prisoners will increase from about 6865 in 2004-05 to around 7880 in 2009-10 and like a revolving human conveyer belt, of those released, the criminal justice system will return into jail more than 25% within the first year and 35% within two years. Ironically, while politicians blame variables such as poverty, lack of jobs or government policies for the high rate of re-offending, they have provided permission for people to commit crimes by telling them they’re not responsible for the way they behave. If people were instilled with decent values to base their behaviour on in the first place, they probably wouldn’t feature in the crime statistics. But then, it isn’t PC to put the blame where it actually belongs. In the Whangarei Courthouse, they’re packing up the files at the end of the session, and the last of the prison vans leaves the cells with its collection of remand prisoners and the newly condemned. But as Kelly Johnson, Sophie Tito and Charles Waetford know, it’ll be Groundhog Day again tomorrow.
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Photography: NSW STATE LIBRARY
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the velvet underground Labour’s quiet revolutionaries It used to be said the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Now, people whose hands have never been near a cradle are deciding what’s best for children, and the country. IAN WISHART goes behind the Tamihere headlines to trace the roots of what he called ‘The Machine’
eni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. When Julius Caesar uttered those immortal words 2052 years ago, he was speaking militarily. Today, as hundreds of women from around the country gather for a national conference early next month to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1975 United Women’s Convention in Wellington, Caesar’s words could aptly be reapplied to an entirely different battle, a battle for hearts and minds rather than land. At no time in the past three decades has that battle been cast in sharper relief than it is now, after Labour MP John Tamihere’s decision to throw open public debate about the capture of policy and governmental power by Labour’s lesbian/feminist wing. Back in the mid 1970s, only four women were in parliament. Today, there are 34 – if you count Georgina Beyer – and as Tamihere pointed out women now have their hands firmly on the levers of political, judicial, constitutional and economic power. But there’s a twist to this Cinderella story, a quirk of irony that few have fully appreciated. Back in the 1970s, one of the primary complaints of the women’s movement was the existence of a male old boys’ network that didn’t choose the best person for the job, only the best man for the job. Three decades later, men’s groups are now making similar complaints, in reverse. Has New Zealand lurched from one unfair power to extreme to the other? And if so, did it happen by accident? The woman organising next month’s women’s conference – former Labour cabinet minister Margaret Shields - clearly doesn’t think so: “In the early 1970s a small group of women within the NZ Labour Party decided that enough was enough,” Shields posted in an internet forum called “The WomenPower Network” back in 1999. “We began the reorganization of the Women’s Section of the Party so that it could become an agent of change; through organising and encouraging and training women to take a larger, more strategic role in politics. “It is not an accident that now the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Leader of the Opposition are both women.” May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 39
John Tamihere, too, doesn’t see the power shift as a coincidence. “You see, these people think in timeframes of ten to 15 years, it’s only bastards like me that struggle through the current term. So when you’re positioning for high places, they’re thinking that far ahead,” Tamihere argues. “They don’t have families. They’ve got nothing but the ability to plot. I’ve gotta take my kid to soccer on Saturday, they don’t. So they just go and have a parlez vous francais somewhere and a latte, whereas we don’t get to plot, we’re just trying to get our kids to synchronise their left and right feet. They don’t even think about that. “I’ve got a fifteen year old whose testosterone’s jumping and he’s scrapping around at school. Now they don’t have that, and because they don’t have that they’re just totally focused. You’ve also got a fully paid organization called the union movement, who can co-opt fully paid coordinators. These people just never sleep.” If Tamihere and Shields are correct, then the sweeping social policy changes manifested by Labour have their roots deep in the distant past, in “sleeper cells” of “change agents” drafted into the Party with one goal in mind.
ack in 1973, the feminist movement organized its first-ever United Women’s Convention, to mark the 80th anniversary of women getting the vote in 1893. As well as today’s house hold names – Helen Clark, Margaret Wilson, Marilyn Waring, Silvia Cartwright – nearly two thousand other women, from varying walks of life, turned up. And among those watching with more than a little interest, feminist and communist, Kay Goodger. Goodger, who’s now a senior Government adviser (and who still mixes with Marxist organisations in Europe), authored in 1973 and 1974 a series of documents for New Zealand’s Socialist Action League which set out a long term plan for changing the face of New Zealand society. “Many women, as they become interested in women’s liberation,
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realise that a new kind of society must be built if we are to achieve freedom from our oppression as a sex…whether this will involve a socialist transformation of society is at present a subject under discussion among feminists,” she wrote. “The new feminist movement is characterized by its deep-going challenges to every aspect of women’s oppression…The once-sacred ‘family’ is being questioned and the philosophy that ‘biology is destiny’ emphatically denied.” As signaled by Goodger, an aspect of New Zealand society to come under sustained attack from the radical feminist wing over the next three decades was the traditional family. If the family could be crushed, broken down, sidelined as irrelevant or portrayed as no better than other methods of child-rearing, radical feminism could set the agenda for centuries to come. “Where else in the world do Amazons rule?,” lamented John Tamihere at his now-infamous lunch. Goodger’s plan in 1973 was for a utopian future ‘Amazonia’ reflecting what she believed had been a reality in the past. “The oppression of women began with the origin of the patriarchal family, private property and the state. Anthropological evidence [not cited] has shown that in the primitive communal society, women held a respected and important position. The basic economic unit was the maternal gens or clan, in which the family as we know it did not exist. In this clan, goods were shared among members equally. “Women…were not tied to individual men economically, nor was there any compulsion to remain with one sexual partner.” But then, claimed Goodger, the bad old days arrived when men mysteriously wrested power from the matriarchs and “introduced” the so-called “family” where “monogamy…was strictly enforced” and families had their own houses and own possessions. Thus, the world abandoned Amazonian communism, she wrote. “Today, the nuclear family unit remains as the basic economic cell of class society…The family also serves to perpetuate capitalist rule by
inculcating in children the values of the private property system. “Obedience to authority is first learned in the family. “Acceptance of the hierarchical, exploitative and alienating social relations within capitalism depends considerably upon the tremendous influence of the individualistic, patriarchal family. “With its thrust against the family institution, the women’s liberation movement is profoundly revolutionary,” wrote the woman now ensconced in Labour’s Ministry of Social Policy. Goodger then called on radical feminists to do all they can within political parties, government departments and communities to target and eliminate institutions like the traditional family. In her 1973 briefing paper, Goodger correctly identified that New Zealand’s establishment would not just throw their hands up and say “fair cop, guv”, when faced with the demands of radical feminism. So instead, she argued for a series of smaller steps, none of them big enough to wake up the slumbering majority against them, but each step big enough to achieve irreversible change, particularly in the attitudes of the wider public. Did the Socialist Action League plant the seeds now growing in Labour’s social policy advice units? If Prime Minister Clark’s recent call for a massive increase in government childcare facilities and more women in the workforce is any indication, the answer must be yes.
ack in 1973 Goodger wrote that the family would suffer a body blow if women could be freed from having children. Rather, as in Soviet Russia, the state should play a big-
ger role: “The concept that society as a whole should take the responsibility of caring for children is embodied in the demand for governmentfinanced, 24-hour, community-controlled childcare centres. This demand opens up the possibilities of replacing the family institution.” Goodger also reinforced that whoever rocks the cradle and educates the children defines what and how future generations think: “The fight for equal opportunity is also taken up in the education system, around demands such as for an end to discrimination against women in the schools and universities, for opportunities to enter all fields of education, for women’s studies programmes to teach the truth about women throughout history, and for birth control information and contraceptives to be freely available for all students. “Because of the key role played by students and young women in the feminist movement
“Goodger, who’s now a senior Government adviser (and who still mixes with Marxist organisations in Europe), authored in 1973 and 1974 a series of documents for New Zealand’s Socialist Action League which set out a long term plan for changing the face of New Zealand society”
as a whole, action on campuses and in the high schools can play an important part in helping to spark struggles by other women. “Action to win control of university and high school facilities to benefit women, such as use of classrooms and the library for women’s studies, provides an example for the general fight to win control of the resources of society away from the ruling class and its apologists. “In addition, the campuses can serve as vital organising centres for the feminist movement.” As with much Marxist rhetoric, however, it ignored inconvenient realities. The demand for more female teachers, for example, glossed over the fact that – even back then – more than three-quarters of all teachers were women in 1972. Thirty-three years later, men are almost extinct as teachers. Selling the message in a sugar-coated way to women was also seen as important by Goodger back then, with her comment that women pushing for the “right” to exterminate unwanted fetuses should join forces with women seeking taxpayer-funded childcare, as a means of uniting women who may have different views under a common socialist banner. “The real meaning of sisterhood becomes clear at such times,” she wrote. Despite that, Goodger argued that merely capturing people’s hearts and minds didn’t go far enough, that “the sisterhood” had to take control of the Government from within. “The deep roots the [Labour] party has in the working class, through the unions, makes it objectively an ally of the women’s liberation movement. Feminists working within the Labour Party can do much to further the cause of women’s liberation.” Again, John Tamihere’s account of what has happened to Labour eerily reflects that 1973 plan of action. “Oh yeah, there’s definitely a ‘machine’ all right. It’s formidable. It’s got apparatus and activists in everything from the PPTA all the way through. It’s actually even built a counterweight to the Roundtable – Businesses for Social Responsibility. Its intelligence-gathering capabilities are second to none.” Having those activists in place, with the
power to write laws and decide what children will be taught in schools, is a dream come true for what Opposition MPs are calling “the lesbian/feminist cabal” running the Labour Government. Goodger, again surprisingly prescient back in the seventies, realised that more liberal sex laws would help bring down the hated family unit. “[The family] moulds the behaviour and character structure of children from infancy and throughout adolescence, disciplining them and teaching submission to established authority. The family represses sexuality, discouraging all sexual activity which is not within marriage. “Our goal must be to create economic and social institutions that are superior to the present family institution.” As part of the list of “demands” that the Sisterhood would work towards over the next thirty years, wrote Goodger, were: ■ Abortion to be free and on demand ■ Sex education and birth control ‘integrated into the education system at all levels’ and readily accessible through ‘government-financed clinics. The government should initiate a public education campaign to overcome ignorance, fears and illusions…’ ■ An end to coercive family laws ■ De facto marriage should be considered to have the same status, legally and socially, as marriage by legal contract ■ ‘The rearing, social welfare and education of children should become the responsibility of society, rather than individual parents…All laws enforcing individual ownership of children should be abolished.’ ■ ‘All discrimination against homosexual men and women should be outlawed…laws should be repealed’ ■ ‘All laws victimizing prostitutes should be abolished’ ■ ‘Paid maternity leave of 12 weeks with no loss of job or seniority should be available’ ■ ‘The government should provide the finance for free child-care centres, open to all children from early infancy for 24 hours a day’ Thirty years later, abortion is now free and on demand. Sex education is now introduced May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 41
at pre-school level as part of the government early childhood curriculum. Laws introduced by Labour in 2002 have given de facto relationships the same legal status as marriage, and extended to gay couples by the Civil Unions Act this month. The Care of Children legislation introduced by Labour this term strips families of the ‘ownership’ of their offspring in favour of the wider community. Biological parents become merely “guardians”.
rostitution has been legalised and the number of children engaged in prostitution has increased dramatically – presumably a result of families no longer being “sexually repressed”. Paid maternity leave is in, and Helen Clark has indicated that Labour will move full steam ahead on the childcare issue if re-elected. In short, an agenda written by an offshoot of the Communist Party in 1973 has been met in full by the women it infiltrated the Labour Party and public service with all those years ago. As noted earlier, Kay Goodger is now a senior adviser on government policy initiatives, and is mentioned in dispatches on the website of the Portuguese Communist Party as recently as three years ago. Which brings us back to the latest incarnation of feminism, next month’s Wellington conference. Margaret Shields is a former Minister of Customs in the 1984 Labour Government of David Lange. Shields’ biggest claim to fame
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back then was perhaps her insistence that she could see a phallic symbol in a glass of liquor on the rocks used in a magazine advertisement, in much the same way as kids see the shapes of animals in the clouds. It has fallen to Shields to organize this year’s conference, and although now well clear of national politics, the Wellington Regional Councillor proudly retains her membership of “the Sisterhood”, based on her advice to a woman overseas recently. “We need to find ways of “making it for a purpose”, and supporting women who have made it into the executive wing. If women do not support other women we can hardly expect men to do so! Moreover, support is a two way street. The fervour with which women scrutinise and criticise women who are in positions of influence is, at times, terrifying. It says a great deal about the pent-up desires of women for a better world but fails to acknowledge the real difficulties for one woman, or a small minority of women in a sea of men. “We need to make sure that we have mechanisms and networks to support those lonely women who are in positions of authority. They need to be kept in touch with the organisations from which they have come. Especially, if they are in the political arena, they will find their life very difficult unless they have trustworthy support networks to provide the encouragement and reinforcement to stick with some of the issues that fired them up in the first place.” In comments analogous to Tamihere’s rage against the ‘Machine’,
Shields confirms the web that exists within Labour: “The systems that work best to keep women leaders going are, in fact, informal networks of old friends who can be trusted to tell the truth out of kindness rather than malice and who are there when life is really tough. It is important to remember that no minority group can win without compromise and trade. Women in power are seldom a majority. “Don’t expect the world to change overnight because one woman became a manager or a member of parliament. However, if you work with her she may be able to make a real difference over time especially if she knows which are the critical issues and has a group around her to help support a shared long term strategy. “Yes, we can make a difference but sometimes we need patience and sometimes we need to find more subtle ways of achieving our goals.” Those “subtle ways”, advises Shields, include disguising the real reason for taking a particular position on an issue: “To give but one small example, I never talk about equality in decision-making as a human rights issue – although it undoubtedly is. Instead, when working in developing countries, in particular, I always approach the question of inclusion of more women in decision-making as an issue of commonsense – to avoid the problems of things not working properly because all experience has not been brought to the table. Most men (and women) accept that logic whereas they will rail against the idea of ‘human rights’.” Writing in 1979, feminist author Christine Dann also talked of this method of persuasion, taken to a new level, and fine-tuned by the thought-police of communist China: “Which brings me to a second major radical feminist organising method – consciousnessraising. As pioneered by radical feminists Kathie Sarachild and others, consciousnessraising is used by women as an extremely effective way of making the vital connections between their personal lives and political oppression. The technique has been used before principally by the Chinese in the ‘speak bitterness’ campaigns they conducted among the peasantry. “In consciousness-raising a group of people who are dissatisfied with their lives as women (or workers, or blacks) meet to find out what is wrong, work out why it is wrong, and consider ways in which wrongs can be righted. Once a group establishes trust, so that everything can be discussed freely, consciousness usually rises fast. Participants come to realise that problems which the dominant ideology characterises as personal (lack of beauty, money, security, employment etc) are not a
“While feminism has achieved some very worthwhile goals for New Zealand society as a whole, simply swapping a political patriarchy for a matriarchy doesn’t achieve balance”
result of personal inadequacy at all, but are due to deliberate political manipulation. “As each woman tells a similar story of abortion and contraception problems, as each worker repeats familiar tales of boss trouble, personal histories take on political significance. A good consciousness-raising group does not stop at the level of heightened awareness, but goes on to study and discuss the reasons for and the mechanisms of oppression, and to take part in actions and groups which aim to end it.” Dann describes the technique as “vital” if socialism wants to control New Zealand society and thought.
nterestingly, Dann pings another woman who may be familiar to Investigate readers – lesbian feminist and ‘family’ psychologist Sarah Calvert, a very close friend of Speaker Margaret Wilson and the woman at the centre of a major investigation by this magazine back in December (now on our website). It was Calvert, says Dann, who was the brains behind the last United Women’s Convention back in ’79. “The feminist ground work of the 1979 United Women’s Convention was actually laid by a woman who is well-known as a leader inside the women’s movement and virtually unknown outside it – Sarah Calvert. Calvert was one of the few who was opposed to [Marilyn] Waring being on the 1979 UWC Committee, on the grounds that political party interests are not compatible with wider feminist interests. It is interesting to note that as the UWC came closer Calvert’s influence declined and Waring’s increased, with Waring being used as the chief UWC spokeswoman. (Thus enhancing her political mana with women the same illegitimate use of her status on the UWC Committee which Calvert and others sought to prevent.)” It is unclear whether Christine Dann will be at this year’s Women’s Convention, but Marilyn Waring – now a social policy lecturer
at Massey University in Auckland – certainly will be: she’s one of the guest speakers. So what will this latest convention achieve? On the face of it, perhaps nothing major. After all, society has moved a long way from the genuine unfairness and grievances that women endured in the sixties. But as Tamihere articulated so elegantly, it is not what is done in public that is dangerous, so much as what the “smarmy…queer…tossers” get up to in the back rooms as they engineer policy. Old-school feminists have long complained that today’s women don’t appreciate the politics of feminism or its goals. Given that oldschool feminists like Margaret Shields are the organizers of this conference, it is not unfair to speculate that they see it as an opportunity to rekindle the flame, ready for the next battles – perhaps those already alluded to by Helen Clark. So the power of this event will not be measured by the keynote speeches, so much as by the networking and politicking that goes on behind the scenes. While feminism has achieved some very worthwhile goals for New Zealand society as a whole, simply swapping a political patriarchy for a matriarchy doesn’t achieve balance. On the other hand, to see what has happened to New Zealand society and politics in the past three decades as merely a ‘Marxist revolution without the blood’ is to miss a lot of the subtleties entirely. As Dann wrote before it happened, “If we learn anything from revolutionaries such as Mao it should be to break the rules of revolution as successfully as he did. To show as little respect for Mao and his ideas as Mao did for the Comintern and the theories of the Russian experts on revolution. To place more confidence on the insights and experience of the radical women of New Zealand today than in the words of 19th Century European men.” In other words, an iron fist inside a velvet glove revolution. A very female coup.
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Even if she wins, she loses She’s been called a Teflon dame, a Prime Minister to whom nothing sticks. But as Helen Clark girds her loins for this coming election, she’s attempting a feat that no Labour leader has ever succeeded: a third term in power. And, significantly, this time she’s carrying six years’ worth of baggage that – while it may have slid off her back – is now a growing puddle of sludge around Labour’s knees. Can Clark wade through it to victory later this year? IAN WISHART analyses the past and what it spells out for the future
magine this scenario. Your party is three weeks out from a general election. You are already one week into the political fight of your life, pounding the hustings drumming up support for your policies, yet the latest polls have just come out and show a horrific slide from 44% support two months ago to just 35% support today. And as we just noted, election day is now only three weeks away. Sound like the crisis facing National leader Don Brash? Perhaps it does, but the star of this particular story is none other than Helen Clark, in the lead-up to the 1999 election. It was a make or break campaign for Clark. Having staged an “Et tu, Brutus?” type coup against Mike Moore 44, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
six years earlier, this was the moment in time that should have been Clark’s. New Zealand had endured nine years of National Government rule, surely the country was ready for a change. Yet the polls showed support for Labour and its Opposition Leader plummeting. It wasn’t as if Clark wasn’t aware of the karmic hounds snapping at her own heels. She’d been persistently dogged by rumours of a leadership challenge from Phil Goff on Labour’s right wing. That Labour turned its fortunes around and won the 1999 election is now a matter of public record, but it shows how a week can be a long time in politics, and an election campaign is an eternity. So where is Labour in 2005, what are the issues and scandals it has to overcome, and can Helen Clark’s leadership survive regardless of whether she wins or loses this year? THE LEADERSHIP Despite Clark’s strong popularity now, it hasn’t always been the case. For much of her political career she languished towards the margin of error as preferred Prime Minister, and as her official biographers have noted her success owes more to her support networks within Labour’s machine than any personal charisma. Strip the Prime Minister of executive assistant Heather Simpson and media maestro Mike Munro, and Starship Clark’s defence shield would start to falter. Just seven months into her Prime Ministership, Helen Clark had to put out a fire started by Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton in a newspaper interview. Labour was again slumping in the polls and there was speculation of an early leadership challenge from Phil Goff who, like John Tamihere, is part of Labour’s right wing. Although Anderton later adopted the Tamihere defence, saying he was only speaking to the paper “hypothetically” (vehemently denied by the paper, incidentally), it forced Clark and Goff to appear publicly together for several days as a show of solidarity. Tamihere’s interview with Investigate, where he revealed a support bloc in caucus of up to 25 MPs who might support him in a future leadership battle with Clark, may reflect over-optimism in regard to his own support, but is probably reflective of the bigger divide between Labour’s left and right. Like John Howard in Australia, Helen Clark’s leadership is now on the ropes regardless of whether she
“If Labour cuts and runs for an early poll, voters can take it as read that the party has no confidence in its own ability to manage an economic recession and wants to get re-elected before anyone realises” wins or loses this year. If she loses, a challenge is inevitable, and if she wins a third term for Labour, a challenge is also inevitable from a reinvigorated right, and probably early rather than later. The logic for this is simple. Most of Labour’s social engineering goals have now been achieved. Labour MPs know that to win a fourth term they’ll have to offer something fresh to voters, and they’ll want to bed the new team in long before any election. A Goff/Shane Jones ticket? It’s now a strong possibility, particularly if something new emerges in the near future further tarnishing the Prime Minister’s honesty in the eyes of voters. INTEGRITY Clark made integrity an election issue in 1999, and Labour’s ferocious attacks on National in its final eighteen months are testimony to Labour’s willingness to exploit any personal failing in its rivals. Yet right from the time of the 1999 campaign, National could never fully return the favour. Helen Clark, for example, was found to have breached broadcasting standards by making statements in her campaign-opening broadcast that were “untruthful and inaccurate”, and left viewers with a “false impression”, according to TVNZ’s Complaints Committee. At the heart of it were two examples of state house tenants used by Helen Clark, where the Complaints Committee found Clark had failed to disclose how much money the tenants were receiving in other benefit entitlements, thus leaving viewers thinking the tenants only had $40 or $50 left after paying rent instead of the $185 they actually had left. “Helen Clark used taxpayer-funded broadcasting time to mislead voters,” complained National’s Roger Sowry at the time. Clark, in what became a trademark of her ninth floor “Machine”, refused to comment and left it to MP Pete Hodgson to take the rap, when he was forced to admit that “a strict reading of the advertisement would show it to be incorrect”. There was no political fallout for Labour,
The art fraud passed off as an original by TAFKAC, and the man who paid $1,000 for it. despite National’s win on points. Then, of course, there was “Paintergate”. “It really was a shocker,” remarked the Herald’s John Roughan. “As my wife remarked after reading the story, it’s not as if she simply put her name on somebody else’s painting, she actually commissioned it. “This was no momentary lapse of judgement; it was a deliberate, patterned response to a request for personal work. “When a second bogus Helen Clark [piece] turned up this week, the Prime Minister admitted she had probably done it half a dozen times.” When police finally completed their inquiries, despite stonewalling from politicians and their staff involved, they’d found enough evidence to criminally prosecute the Prime Min-
FOTOPRESS ister of New Zealand for fraud, but chose not to do so. This despite the fact that the Prime Minister’s staff had bought back the forged artwork and destroyed it before police could get to it. Although polls at the time showed many New Zealanders were prepared to forgive TAFKAC (the artist formerly known as Clark), how would the past three years have transpired if justice had taken its course? For one thing, if a conviction had been entered against Clark, her political career would have been over. The publicity of a prosecution could have also threatened Labour’s reelection hopes in 2002. Would the legalizing of prostitution and Civil Unions have been able to proceed if Clark had fallen? May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 45
newspaper something that now turns out to be false? Did she know that she was repeating a falsehood? This affair, too, promises to be messy for Labour. Although Doone signed an agreement not to sue the Government or its servants as part of his resignation package, he could not have known that the Prime Minister had been engaged in some media manipulation against him. While Crown lawyers will try to argue that the Prime Minister was a “servant” going about her duty in terms of the severance deal, constitutionally they will be hard pressed to show that secretly leaking information to the media (as opposed to giving a news conference) is part of the PM’s official duty.
Former Police Commissioner Peter Doone. Clark now claims he was always going to be history regardless of the false witness she allegedly bore against him. THE DOONE AFFAIR An interesting sidebar to the Paintergate affair was thrown up only a week or so back with the news that former Police Commissioner Peter Doone is planning to sue Helen Clark for defamation. If Doone had remained in the job as Police Commissioner, would he have looked the other way on the Prime Minister’s alleged career as an art forger and fraudster? The man who replaced Doone in the top job, Rob Robinson, only achieved his unscheduled promotion because, it is now alleged, the Prime Minister had leaked a false statement about Doone to the news media, resulting in Doone’s resignation. Full details of what happened are yet to emerge, but so far the story goes like this: Doone and his partner Robyn were pulled over by a rookie cop in Wellington on election night because Robyn was driving without her headlights on. Apparently it is a matter of routine to breath test drivers in such circumstances, but this didn’t happen. Someone within the 46, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
FOTOPRESS police organization leaked details to the media, and for some mysterious and as yet unexplained reason the Prime Minister was a secret source for the Sunday Star-Times newspaper when they wanted to verify that Police Commissioner Doone had allegedly told the young constable “That won’t be necessary” when he wanted to breath test the driver. Just how the Prime Minister would know what Doone had said when she was 650 kilometres away in Auckland basking in her election victory at the time, was not explained. But Helen Clark reportedly secretly spoke to the newspaper five times before they were brave enough to run the story that cleared the way for Rob Robinson to take over as the new Police Commissioner. The newspaper has now admitted in court that the comment it attributed to Doone, and verified as true by the Prime Minister, was false – Doone never said it. Which raises a number of integrity questions: why was the Prime Minister commenting on the case at all? Why did she tell the
THE SOCIAL ENGINEERING It was gay Labour MP Tim Barnett who urged his supporters to make hay while the sun shone in the Beehive. “We won’t have a Queerfriendly government forever,” he told them, although he later feigned deep offence at John Tamihere’s colloquial description of him as “Queer”. Barnett and team subsequently hammered through some of the most wideranging social engineering legislation New Zealand has ever seen, in what will come to be regarded by historians as the biggest legacy of the Clark administration. It has been a dangerous gamble for Labour. There are now thousands more prostitutes, some as young as 12, selling their bodies for as little as five dollars a time to buy drugs, so they can numb their minds to the souldestroying rape-me-for-cash cycle they’ve become caught up in. Barnett remarked that he’d like to see chains of brothels up and down New Zealand, a view that illustrates the developing rift between the gay and feminist wings within Labour. While Helen Clark straddles both camps, it won’t take much of a swing in Labour’s caucus – perhaps more photos of child prostitutes on cold street corners - to leave the Rainbow wing and its free-sex ambitions more isolated. Hamilton East MP Dianne Yates, for example, is a staunch feminist who joined with Sandra Coney and social conservative groups to lobby strongly against the prostitution reforms, because they were so degrading to women and children. If Labour wins its third term this year it will introduce legislation to free up the adoption of children by gay men, but that could be the last flutter in terms of the party’s social engineering. There is simply little else left that hasn’t already been altered. THE MAORI PARTY With virtually every major poll predicting a very strong showing for the Maori Party in this year’s election, the possibility of Labour
“Labour MPs know that to win a fourth term they’ll have to offer something fresh to voters, and they’ll want to bed the new team in long before any election. A Goff/Shane Jones ticket? It’s now a strong possibility”
losing up to seven seats in Parliament is suddenly a real nightmare under active consideration in the Beehive. Despite the rhetoric, it is likely the Maori Party could forge a working alliance with National on the common ground of respect for property rights and respect for the justice system. After all, if Labour had not pre-empted a minor court case, the foreshore and seabed snake would probably never have risen up to bite it. GOOD ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT OR JUST GOOD LUCK? As this issue of Investigate went to press, news broke of a massive fall in business confidence. Regardless of whether businesses have good reason to be gloomy, the danger for Labour is that “feelings” can very quickly become real, self-fulfilling, prophecies, in the same way that political polls can. Labour has enjoyed a dream run since 1999, one minor recession coinciding with its own fall in the polls mid-2000, but otherwise New Zealand has coasted along nicely on the back
of booming US and Australian economies. Now that the heat is going out of those, however, New Zealand is likewise going off the boil. Labour has made much of its own skill in economic governance but, as critics have pointed out, a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board outperformed New York’s best fund managers a few years ago. The real test for Labour and Finance Minister Michael Cullen comes in his budget later this month. Will Labour panic in the face of international market pressures, or can Labour genuinely navigate the country through a sea of international recession? The proof will be in the election date. If Labour cuts and runs for an early poll, voters can take it as read that the party has no confidence in its own ability to manage an economic recession and wants to get re-elected before anyone realises. On the other hand, if Labour holds out until the end of September, regardless of the economic bad news, it sends a signal of confidence and business as usual. It promises to be a fascinating election.
THE JT INTERVIEW What really happened
t should be, by now, fish and chip paper. But Investigate’s controversial interview with Labour’s John Tamihere has reset the political clocks in Wellington and made newsrooms around the country debate how they cover political news. Did we set out to dig a hole for JT? Emphatically no. When an opportunity arose close to deadline before Easter to find a new cover story, the magazine’s editorial team threw around some ideas for a replacement feature. JT had just been cleared by the SFO, was outspoken and we felt he would appeal to Investigate’s readership. So we rang up, asking if he would give us an interview for our April issue. “Of course I will,” he laughed down the phone. “It’s election year, I’m a politician. When do you want to do it?” We set a time and date for the interview at Soljans Vineyard Café on the Wednesday before Easter. I greeted Tamihere carrying an SLR digital camera; the digital voice recorder; and a couple of back issues of Investigate. “I’m already familiar with your propaganda,” Tamihere joked as we entered the restaurant. As we sat, Tamihere put the magazines on the table to his right, and I picked up the digital recorder, in full view of John, turned it on, checked the red light was on, and placed it on top of the magazines. The recording we
obtained clearly begins while we were sitting at the table, not before Tamihere arrived. An analysis of the sound excerpts available on the internet shows there is no rustling, which would be expected if the recorder were hidden in a pocket, nor is the sound muffled. While the recording is plagued by background noise from the café and nearby State Highway 16 traffic, the voices of interviewer and interviewee can clearly be heard. At the end of the interview, the recording released to the Sunday Star-Times and other media (and now on the Investigate website) clearly ends with the words “Let’s go get some photographs,” as Tamihere and I can be heard rising from the table. So what went wrong? Why two apparently different versions of events? From Investigate’s point of view, Tamihere knew he was being interviewed because that’s what we’d asked him for, and what he’d agreed to. Did he know it was being recorded? He should have. The recorder was right under his nose for 70 minutes with a red light on and the words “Voice Recording” scrolling continuously across the screen the whole time. Nearly a week after he’d given us the interview, Tamihere launched an attack on TV3 News under parliamentary privilege. It has now been confirmed that he was spoken to by Helen Clark after that attack, and it was then that he told “the Boss” that he’d spoken to
Investigate. However, it appears Tamihere promised Clark that it was only an “off the record” discussion and would not be published. For Tamihere to change his position now would be political suicide because he would then be admitting he had lied to his “boss”. The following Sunday, just as the magazine was going on sale in the shops, I picked up the spare cellphone that I’d used the day of the interview and which was in my glovebox. When I turned it on, it transpired Tamihere had left a voicemail message a few days earlier suggesting he “might have been a bit frank” and asking me to call him. I did, but by then it was too late. The rest is history. Should we have published it? Turn the question around a little. If the interview subject had been Don Brash or even George Bush, would the Labour supporters who’ve been so critical of Investigate instead have been singing our praises? The reality is we’re a news magazine, and well-known to be a hard-hitting one at that. John Tamihere is a lawyer, a former cabinet minister and experienced politician touted as a potential leader. He’s not a debutante. The public are better informed about the inner workings of Government today than they were two months ago. We did our job. Ian Wishart
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Unhappy with your looks? Forget a nosejob, go get a whole new face. It sounds far-fetched, but face transplants are soon set to leave the realm of fantasy and become reality. Along with human cloning and stem cell research, it’s one of the most ethically tricky medical procedures to come down the pike in decades but, hey, you can’t stop progress. How are doctors responding to the ethical challenges? Will face transplants be the new botox? Are embryos the only place to get stem cells? JAMES MORROW sorts through the medical facts and Hollywood hype and looks to see if medical technology is
GOING TOO FAR?
hen cricketer David Hookes died last year after being bashed to death outside a Melbourne hotel, it was a tragedy – but one with some degree of a silver lining. While Hookesy, at 48, died too young, his senseless death was ultimately not for nothing: the former batsman and radio commentator had signed up as an organ donor, and as a result, as many as ten other Australians were given the gift of life. And it didn’t stop there. According to Australians Donate chairperson Marcia Coleman, the publicity surrounding Hookes’ death and the subsequent formation of the David Hookes Foundation to promote organ donation caused a 21 per cent spike in the number of registered organ donors. In a country where nearly 1,700 people at any given time are on years-long waiting lists for vital organs, Hookes’ death took on a new meaning. But even if most people feel good about organ donation as it currently stands, new frontiers of medicine are being explored in America and Europe that are pushing the limits of both technology and ethics. Right at the top of the list would have to be the controversial exploration of face transplantation – an idea first introduced to the general public via the 1997 John Woo shoot-‘em-up Face/Off.
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While doctors and scientists around the world have been pursuing went on to profit from the surgery by making paid appearances to this holy grail of plastic surgery for years, at the moment the Americans show off his new hand, often one step ahead of the law. What’s are leading in the race to be the first to perform a full facial transplant. worse, he also had terrible trouble coping with the regime of antiDoctors at both the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Louisville rejection drugs he was required to take. Ultimately, Hallam successfully campaigned to have the new hand say they are working hard to figure out the nuts and bolts of the procedure and are seeking the right candidates for the procedure. In removed, saying that he felt ‘mentally detached’ from the limb. If it all sounds sort of ghoulish, well, that’s because it sort of is. Cleveland, doctors have been experimenting with face-to-face transplants on rats, while in Louisville, researchers have been perfecting their Especially because faces are, by definition, incredibly personal things, it is only natural for people to worry about the implications of moving techniques on dead humans. ‘When plastic surgeons talk about the face and doing a face trans- them from person to person – even if the recipient is badly scarred or plant, what they are talking about is using a freshly-harvested flap of otherwise deformed. ‘The face is such a powerful identifier of a person that once you start skin and underlying fat from a donor who recently died – usually in an accident, but possibly from a pathological condition, and attaching it talking about transplanting a face, you are talking about transplanting to someone else’, explains Dr. Alf Lewis, Vice President of the Aus- an identity’, says Dr. Greg Pike, who serves as acting director of the tralian Society of Plastic Surgeons, when asked to explain the mechan- Southern Cross Bioethics Institute in Adelaide. ‘In purely surgical terms, all you’re talking about is a situation where ics of the procedure. ‘The procedure itself would involve taking this skin and underlying you have a damaged faced here, a new spare face there, and simply fat and possibly a little bit of muscle, and then reattaching it under swapping them. This is a purely material way of looking at the situamicrovascular conditions [similar to the sort of microsurgery that is tion without considering the consequences that might go with the element of the new identity that used to re-attach, say, fingers sevthe individual is receving, which ered in an accident] through the The face, it really is you. It’s how you’re is tied up in the meaning of the microscope to the major blood vessels of the recipient joined to identified. They don’t put a photo of your life that was. These things can’t be ignored.’ the donor. backside on your driver’s license, they put This is where what Pike calls ‘This is all technically possible in the present state of play’, adds your face. That is you to you and the rest ‘the “yuk” factor’ comes in. To go around with some form of Lewis, who notes that ‘there is of humanity the identity of someone else, no doubt that it could all be and to have to think about what done any sophisticated medical community, of which Australia is an example, and the microsurgery that person might have done or been, is potentially very disturbing. and plastic surgery involved is already being practiced here every day of Doctors and ethicists agree that if a face transplant is ever performed, the recipient will need to receive extensive in-depth psychological the week.’ But who would the recipient of the face look like? Themselves, the counseling to cope with the mental side of things just as he or she will donor, or some combination of the two? And, perhaps more impor- need anti-rejection drugs to deal with the physical consequences. ‘Whilst sometimes the yuk factor can be problematic if taken alone, tantly, could they handle looking in the mirror every day and it can also act as a sort of primal warning system’ that can set off ethical seeing…someone else? alarm bells and tell doctors and researchers to tread carefully about a hile to the casual observer, a rat is a rat is a new procedure, he says. ‘The average Joe on the street has a pretty good view of right and rat, the Louisville team in the United States which has been practising on rodents be- wrong, even if they haven’t necessarily thought it out to the point lieves that a facial recipient would wind up where they know why. Ultimately, an ethicist isn’t that different; all an looking like some sort of combination of their ethicist does is unpack those views.’ Dr. Lewis agrees, saying that there really are profound ethical and old self and their new face. Dr. Lewis agrees, and notes that muscle tone, which is a key component in how any face looks, ‘would be psychological concerns with a procedure like this, for both donor and recipient – factors which all but guarantee such a procedure would only dependent on the muscle being attached to the fat.’ ‘The facial muscles are quite unique in that they originate from bone be used in the most extreme cases, and certainly never for run-of-thebut insert not back into bone, like in limbs, but into skin in the face. mill vanity cosmetic surgery. For one thing, the side effects of antiThat means that if you put this new donor skin and fat over the rejection drugs used in such a procedure would potentially be very muscles which would be exposed after you remove the scar or growth serious; for another, unlike a hand transplant, there’s no undoing a or whatever, it will attach by scar-tissue adhesion and produce some new face. ‘I suppose you could argue the recipient would become accustomed element of movement,’ says Lewis. ‘It wouldn’t be as good or strong or subtle as normal, but there to not looking like their original self, and they would have to have a lot of psychological counseling and education to cope with the fact that would be some return of movement.’ As to how the recipient of a new face, no matter what they looked they would never look like themselves’, says Lewis. ‘We know from our cosmetic surgery experiences on the face and nose like before, might cope with their new look, earlier procedures involving transplanting other parts of the body suggest it’s not as and other parts of the body that patients often have deep psychological (relatively) simple as replacing a heart or liver. In fact, at least one person concerns about their appearance. And I think that the psychology of this whom a procedure was supposed to help was eventually been forced is a profound topic that needs to be discussed very carefully.’ More challenging, adds Lewis, is the problem of finding anyone to say, ‘thanks but no thanks, this has all gone too far’. The world’s first hand transplant, performed on New Zealander Clint Hallam in who would even be willing to donate such a personal part of themLyons, France, in 1998, was famously a disaster. Hallam had a dodgy selves, noting that ‘it’s a big ask to get someone to sign their face away criminal background (he lost his hand in a circular saw accident in a on their drivers’ license, and a big ask to ask the relatives of an 18-yearChristchurch prison while serving a two-year stretch for fraud) and old girl who just died in an accident about something like that.’
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Concludes Lewis, ‘The face, it really is you. It’s how you’re identified. They don’t put a photo of your backside on your driver’s license, they put your face. That is you to you and the rest of humanity.’
ut if face transplants are still the stuff of rats and research labs, research into other controversial therapies such as cloning and stem cells derivatives have both the potential to change many more lives, while at the same time raising even hairier ethical concerns. Researchers in several countries are currently exploring the idea of what is technically known as somatic cell nuclear transfer technology, which involves taking the nucleus from one cell and
implanting it in an egg cell that has had its nucleus removed. Currently banned in Australia, this is the technique that was behind Dolly the Sheep – the world’s first cloned mammal. What is still legal in Australia, however, is stem cell research – a technically complicated and often ethically messy arena where public perception is manipulated not so much by the ‘yuk’ factor as the celebrity factor. If stars like John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, however unwittingly, introduced the notion of face transplants to the wider world, it is the tougher cases of celebrities like Christopher Reeve which are being used – and sometimes abused – to push for more work with stem cells, specifically embryonic ones. To start off, stem cells are special kinds of
cells that exist in very particular circumstances and which have the potential, theoretically, to turn into just about anything – a liver, a kidney, bone tissue. They are often tough to come by, and for some time one of the most popular places has been from frozen embryos that were created by fertility clinics and no longer needed. Their use opens up a minefield of debate not just about when a human life is worth respecting, but also whether these forms of stem cells are all they’re cracked up to be. And until very recently these embryonic stem cells have long been considered superior to adult stem cells, which can be derived from a variety of other sources. ‘Typically when embryos are harvested for stem cells, we’re talking about blastocytes that May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 51
are five to six days old, and consist of a couple of hundred cells’, explains Greg Pike. Pike opposes embryonic stem cell research and believes that the debate over the size of an embryo or the number of cells that make it up fundamentally misses the moral point. ‘I recall a senator during the debate over stem cells saying, “well, it’s just a few cells and it’s smaller than a full-stop, so what’s all the fuss about?”, and I felt like saying back, “you’re just a clump of cells, too, only you’re trillions of them.” Stephen Hawking’s universe was once that tiny; how do you put a value on that?’
or ethicists like Pike, ‘the significance of the early embryo is that we’re talking about a new member of the human family’ – a stance he readily admits puts him at the opposite end of the spectrum from people like Peter Singer, an ex-pat Australian who is now a professor of bioethics at Princeton University in the United States. Singer, who is as much a professional avant-garde controversialist as he is an ethicist, believes that ‘just because [embryos] are biological members of the species Homo Sapiens doesn’t give them the right to live’, a position he happily takes to its horrifying logical extremes. (Among other things, Singer believes that each life is valuable in terms of its rationality and consciousness, and argues that for that reason the life of an adult chimp is more valuable than that of a
human infant. Of course, Singer also argued in an infamous essay entitled ‘Heavy Petting’ that the taboo against bestiality should be done away with.) But between these two extremes stands a lot of misin-formation, much of it perpetuated by a media that is more interested in anythingis-possible whiz-bang technology on the one hand and compassion (particularly for celebrities) on the other. When people started talking about a paralyzed Christopher Reeve being able to walk again thanks to embryonic stem cell research, the barn door was swung wide open for just about any piece of well-intentioned misinformation to run free. ‘I think part of the problem with embryonic stem cell research is that there has been a lot of publicity around celebrities pushing stem cells for research and suggesting the definite promise of therapeutic outcomes’, says Dr. Adrienne Torda, a senior lecturer in medical ethics at the University of New South Wales. ‘But the nature of research is that it is open-ended. You can’t promise definite outcomes, and there are many hurdles in developing a therapy that often take decades to resolve.’ Pike has similar concerns as Torda, and worries that feel-good celebrity involvement in ethical and scientific issues can stifle debate. ‘I for one found it very difficult to talk about stem cells when Christopher Reeve and the idea that stem cells can make Superman walk again was being pushed by the media’, he recalls. ‘Anyone who
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had anything different to say felt like that had to keep their mouths shut.’ There are other ways to get stem cells – for example, from the blood in umbilical cords of newborn babies, which is often donated by parents, as well as from hair, bone, and other body tissues. Research involving these adult stem cells does not have any of the same ethical quandaries surrounding it as that which revolves around embryonic stem cells or human cloning (after all, no new human life is created or destroyed, no matter how small). Even better, after years of being thought of as second-rate, at the moment these cells also are showing the most promise in the lab.
esearchers in Israel, for example, are currently working on a treatment that borrows stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow to produce a chemical that could restore muscle movement to Parkinson’s Disease patients; human trials are slated
to begin next year. In Britain, meanwhile, work is being done that could see the end of dentures as adult stem cells are being used to grow new human teeth. Closer to home, researchers at Griffith University in Queensland recently discovered that adult stem cells taken from the nose had just as much potential to be grown into any other type of human tissue as the far more controversial embryonic ones. ‘Our experiments have shown that adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa have the ability to develop into many different cell types if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment’, Prof. Alan Mackay-Sim told The Australian recently, further shaking the conventional wisdom that only embryonic cells are useful for research. In speaking to Australian doctors and ethicists, one thing that comes through is a desire to break bioethics out of the ivory tower and into the wider community – even if it means letting other countries take the lead in
some areas of research – so that the public is comfortable with and informed about where researchers are heading. ‘We don’t say yes to everything we can do, and we are way behind many other nations that are doing these things. We need to engage many more people in the discussion and figure out how people feel’, notes Adrienne Torda. ‘Legislation has to be constantly moving, and the more you educate people, the better you can make decisions about moving those legislative boundaries’. While this sort of approach may be frustrating for those who see medical technology as just another high-tech space race, it is also the safest route ethically – and when one is dealing with human lives, no matter the size, doctors cannot be too careful in observing Hippocrates’ ancient edict: First do no harm. And, as recent Australian discoveries in adult stem cells have shown, sometimes the safe route is also the more successful one.
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Biometric passports. A worldwide database tracking one billion people. Cameras on every street, tracking every move. Opinions that must be registered to be published â€“ if they are legal at all. Is this a vision of some fictional Orwellian hell, or the world just around the corner? JAMES ROBERTSON and JAMES MORROW look at the growing tension between webloggers, privacy activists, and ordinary citizens and the worldâ€™s governments in the post-9/11 era
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he story read like it could have come from China, or Iran, or any number of totalitarian states: an individual’s testimony to a government inquiry breaks open a massive scandal involving the ruling party, allegations of corruption, and as much as $100 million dollars in false payments – all tied in to an effort to undermine a separatist group seeking their own state. Thanks to an official order, though, the testimony is secret, even though (or perhaps because) it has the power to bring down the national government. Despite everyone in the highest circles of the capital city knowing the story, the press can only barely allude to it, under pain of prosecution. But that doesn’t mean the information doesn’t make it out to the wider world. In a neighbouring country, a few individuals with their own weblogs, or blogs, throw the damning information out onto the Internet, allowing anyone with a computer and a web browser to find out the whole story. Anyone, that is, except those in the place where it is happening: in the country where the scandal is taking place, individuals are not allowed to post any of the information on their own sites, or even link to a site in another country that details the charges. ‘Anyone who takes that information and diffuses it is liable to be charged with contempt of court’, warned a government official. ‘Anybody who reproduces it is at risk.’ Amazingly, the scandal – and the subsequent threat to crack down on anyone disseminating crucial information about it – took place in Canada, a country that likes to think of itself as one of the most liberal, tolerant, and enlightened nations on the planet. An interesting story on its own, the tale highlights the growing tension between individual citizens and their governments as technology allows each side to keep ever-closer tabs on one another. Even in free and democratic states like New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Great Britain, technology is radically changing the way government relates to people and vice versa. What political philosophers call the ‘night watchman state’ – in which the government’s roles, as Harvard’s Robert Nozick once defined it, are ‘limited to the functions of protecting all its citizens against violence, theft, and fraud, and to the enforcement of contracts, and so on’ – is a thing of the past. Instead, politicians on both the left and right are using technology, the threat of terrorism, and a natural desire to increase their own power to slowly but surely turn liberal democracies into ‘panopticon’, or ‘all-seeing’, states with the sort of surveillance powers the old Soviet Union and her satellites could have only dreamed of. ARE YOUR PAPERS IN ORDER? Already, anyone wishing to travel to the United States will soon require a passport embedded with biometric and RFID (radio frequency identification) tags which are not just expensive and intrusive, but also open up a huge Pandora’s box of privacy issues. For one thing, the RFID tags will contain a wealth of unencrypted data and will be readable by anyone within range with the proper scanning equipment, creating a huge new opportunity in the growing identity theft market. Business and tourism groups in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe are all asking Washington to back off from the new requirement, but so far the response from the U.S. State Department has been, ‘our country, our rules’. Which might be fair enough were there not plans to, by 2015, make the new biometrically-encoded, radio-tagged passports standard around the world and create a global database of one billion travelers, their movements, and their personal details. Ironically, while these measures are all being enlisted in the fight against the very real threat of international terrorism, the data in the new passports will actually create a boon for identity thieves and their customers, including terrorists, drug smugglers and the like. Furthermore, at a practical level, much of the technology that the US is leading 56, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
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The company Gemplus presented a new sort of passport at the CEBIT 2005 exhibition on March 14th. The passport includes biometric data of the individual owner and Gemplus produces the necessary RFID chip and antennas that need to be implemented into the passports. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 57
A digital camera photographs Diana Cano, 19, a non-immigrant from Guadalajara who is visiting Sacramento from Mexico, in the International Terminal at Sacramento International Airport. Most foreigners who enter the United States will now be photographed and fingerprinted. the international push for is actually quite unreliable. Some 39 international human rights groups from NZ, Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America have all signed a letter protesting the technology, noting that ‘even the most reliable uses of this technology – one-to-one verification using recent photographs – have been shown in US government tests to be highly unreliable, returning a false non-match [where technology doesn’t recognise people with a valid photo] rate of five per cent and a false match rate of one per cent’.
ore worryingly, they point out that while free countries may use this technology to keep an eye out for bad guys, more repressive regimes could also use it for their own evil purposes, such as cracking down on dissidents. ‘We hope that the choices of biometrics have been driven primarily by logistical and commercial concerns and were not intended to facilitate the conversion of travel systems into a global infrastructure of surveillance’, the letter concludes. ‘But we are deeply concerned that this may become their unintended consequence.’ And indeed an ‘infrastructure of surveillance’ is what is cropping up,
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slowly but surely, even in free countries. Be it the near-fanatical push by the United Kingdom’s Home Office for national identity cards that may wind up including DNA fingerprints of every citizen or hidden cameras, often with face-recognition technologies linked to police stations everywhere from American suburbs to (as is now being proposed) Sydney’s King’s Cross, government agencies are using everything from the threat of terrorism to the fight against day-to-day street crime to use technology to be everywhere and see everything. Which is one reason why the current tensions – not just in Canada – between webloggers and their governments represent the thin edge of what could be a very large wedge. Exposing the old canard that ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about’, cases in Canada and elsewhere are showing that when it comes to technology, governments are increasingly worried about the power of technology to keep an eye on them, and would rather keep it in their own hands. CANADA’S WAR ON WEBLOGS In a bygone era of print media supremacy Canada’s ban would have gone unchallenged; indeed, the Canadian daily the Vancouver Sun made
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“I just won’t do it, it’d take the fun out of the entire concept. All this law will do is make more people host their websites overseas’, says one blogger of potential Australian regulations” its reluctance to defy government orders clear in an editorial, writing, ‘It’s a shame [we] can’t publish anything that’s going on in the…inquiry. When the publication ban is taken off we can all talk freely about what’s going on in our country. Until then our collective lips are sealed’.
ut weblogs are changing all that. Already a thorn in the side of totalitarian states like Iran, China, and Burma, where dissidents use the internet as a way of challenging the government’s media monopoly, bloggers in the democratic world are about to learn that an unfortunate consequence of their growing influence is greater attention from governments, as regulators worldwide begin to consider the possibility of reigning in a medium that had previously
been a forum for unbridled free expression. The problem for bloggers is the fine line they tread between fulfilling the role of legitimate journalists and, as their detractors term them, pyjama-clad partisans. This group of supposed dilettantes, many of whom lack any traditional journalistic qualifications, are beginning to challenge the establishment media for its reach of influence. Readers have embraced the openly partisan format of blogs, the most popular of which can boast daily readerships comparable to the national newspapers and lay claim to having broken some of the biggest stories of the past year. There are no barriers to internet publication, however, and anyone with a computer and the inclination to do so can establish their own blog free of charge within minutes. Blogs are also free from any external editing which allows their author’s to diarise, write political
commentary and deliver a mix of observations, criticisms or updates on a limitless array of subjects without paying attention to concerns about political correctness, bias or even readability. Governments are pointing to this lack of professionalism across the internet as justification for not giving bloggers and online publishers the same freedoms as members of the traditional press. While print journalists and contributors to the mainstream media are protected by legal precedent that enshrines their free political communication, the law has been slow to respond to the explosion of online political content, giving legislators a chance to fill the void and place clear limits on their freedom of expression. Leading the Australian push is Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, Special Minister of State and newly appointed head of the Australian May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 59
Government Information Management Office, who says he is giving ‘very active consideration’ to introducing reforms that would make bloggers and online publishers subject to the provisions of the Australian Electoral Act. The legislation, expected to be introduced after the coalition takes control of the Senate on July 1st, would place bloggers in the same category as political advertisers, requiring them to include the name and address of the person authorising their website content and making publishers of unauthorised political material subject to fines as large as $5,000.
details freely available over the internet. For Ruth Brown, a 19-year-old university student who came to prominence last year by blogging under the name John Howard, a typical entry will include a satirical recount of the day in the life of the Prime Minister: ‘Just got back from APEC. This year it was in this place called Chilly which is in this country called South America, except it’s nothing like Real America, ‘cause it’s full of poor foreign people. Like Centrelink.’ Brown fears that any regulation will stifle political satire, which she describes as being an ‘essential part of any democracy’. Claiming she will refuse to abide by any regulations that force her to reveal personal details, Brown says, ‘I just won’t do it, it’d take the fun out of the f particular concern to most bloggers is the broad entire concept. All this law will do is make more people host their definition of what constitutes political or ‘elec- websites overseas’. toral’ material as it is defined by Australian ElecBut overseas options for bloggers are fast running out, with similar toral Law. Section 4(1) of the Electoral Act says legislation being mooted the world over in an emerging alliance that electoral material may include ‘any […] reference between legislators and the media establishment – all of whom seek to, or comment on: the election; the Government; the Opposition; a to limit the reach of blogging, which is becoming a serious rival for the political party or candidate; or any issue submitted to, or otherwise mainstream media. before, the electors in connection with the election’. In the United States bloggers are facing a challenge from the Federal The issues that fall under the definition and be subject regulation Election Commission, which is considering a similar set of regulations include the performance of the government, taxation levels – even to those being proposed in Australia. The proposal, supported by tradigay marriage. tional media outlets like National Public Radio and the American ProsAn Australian Electoral Commission official, who declined to be pect, is an extension of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and is named, told Investigate that the application of such a wide ranging billed as a response to ‘the increased use of the internet by federal candidefinition to online content would be ‘difficult, broad…and poten- dates, political committees, and others to communicate with the general tially dangerous’. public to influence Also problematic is federal elections’. Politicians on both the left and right are using the interpretation of Early indications what constitutes an show that lawmakers technology and the threat of terrorism to slowly advertisement under could treat political but surely turn liberal democracies into Australian electoral speech like campaign ‘panopticon’ – or ‘all-seeing’ – states with the sort law. Defined as being contributions by any form of publicameasuring and limof surveillance powers the old Soviet Union and tion or notice that iting, in dollar terms, her satellites could have only dreamed of contains ‘electoral the amount bloggers matter’ the act could contribute to campotentially to any expression of political opinion, regardless of whether paigns by writing about them: ‘We’re talking about any decision by an the author has any links to a political party. individual to link [to a candidate], set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, The traditional media are exempt from the regulations and the law no any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet,’ said Republican longer places restrictions on those who write letters to the editor or callers FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith. to talkback radio; creating a legal situation where opinion expressed within A 44-page draft released by the FEC early last month indicated that the pages of a newspaper is considered legitimate free expression but all websites that display political content would be immediately reguself-published material on the internet is subject to regulation. lated by default upon approval of the legislation. The proposal sparked Senator Andrew Bartlett, deputy leader of the Australian Demo- uproar from civil libertarians who have forced the FEC to reconsider crats, has a rare vantage point on the issue, as both a sitting member of their position, but bloggers are still nervously awaiting the Commisthe Senate that is expected to approve the legislation when it is intro- sion’s final decision on online content regulation in July. The Australduced and as a blogger himself. ian government is said to be keeping a close eye on proceedings. Bartlett, who uses his blog to communicate with his electorate The problem for citizens in a democracy, wrote the American directly, suggests that bloggers should be afforded the same freedoms essayist A.J. Liebling is that, ‘freedom of the press is only guaranteed and protections as journalists, noting that he often looks to blogs for by those who own one’. Blogging, at least for now, has changed that; analysis in preference to the traditional media, ‘The problem with the acting as a countervailing force against the media’s ability political coverage in the mainstream media is that it lacks substantial to set the political agenda and placing the power in the hands of citicoverage of policy…they’ve tried to turn parliament into a soap opera.’ zens again. Bartlett warned that any legislation is likely to have ‘unforseen conseMost disconcerting of all, then, is not the immediate impact of the quences,’ impacting on ordinary, private citizens while politicians and global move to regulate the internet but the fact that governments public figures will have few qualms about making their identities known. want to move against a forum that encourages free expression at all. These restrictions will have a significant impact on the way in which Considering that much of the resistance to the growing influence of people use the internet as a publishing medium; the government will the government on individual lives is coming from bloggers, the fact effectively make anonymous political or social commentary illegal. that the charge is being led by the world’s leading democracies is parThe announcement has sparked outrage amongst bloggers, many ticularly worrisome. of whom publish their thoughts under pseudonyms and almost all of whom would feel uncomfortable about making their personal
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May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 61
THE INVESTIGATE INTERVIEW
N U G e h T DEBATE
on for shooting at intruders er rm fa nd la th or N a of ittal to The prosecution and acqu sic rights of all citizens ba e th t ou ab te ba de e ned th , the Libertarianz spokes his property has re-ope N TO N LI R TE PE . ty er r their prop gun expert Gary Mause defend themselves and an di na Ca ng iti vis d we ly intervie man on firearms, recent rol on the merits of gun cont
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INVESTIGATE: What got you interested in guns, gun control and hunting. MAUSER: Well there are two things – first of all I turned 40 and went back to pick up the rifle that my dad had given me as a 21 year old. I had refused to pick it up at that point – I was a student at Berkeley and I’d been in the anti-war protests and all the standard student stuff for the 1960s. At the time, I had rejected it pretty smugly. But when I turned 40, I figured I should go back and pick it up, just to reach out to my father. I didn’t know anything about guns – so I went back, picked it up and then I had to ask him, “what is it? Why should you give me a rifle, what is this kind of rifle, and how do rifles work, anyway?” As he began explaining, I could see that one of the things he really missed as a father, since I was such a snotty college kid, was being a teacher to me and having a son who would look up to him so he could teach him things. I could see that this was something I had forgotten; fathers like to teach their children. Anyway I had to figure out what the rifle was. So I took it home and I started to clean it and take it apart, then I couldn’t get it back together again. I asked one of my students to help me. Yeah, I learned the basic mechanics, and then I learned what it was and who had used it historically. That got me interested in military history and got me into marksmanship. Once I got this rifle, I was motivated to ask how do you use it? That was the beginning. I just started getting more and more interested. INVESTIGATE: So what was the rifle? Was it a Garand? MAUSER: It was a World War II German K98 – the standard German battle rifle for World War II – it’s a Mauser. That’s why my dad thought it was important. It was a link with history, and it was an education for me. I knew nothing about guns, I’d never owned guns, never shot guns – I knew nothing. This gift came from outer space. I didn’t know why he wanted to give me this thing. At the same time as I picked up this rifle I was at a turning point in my career. I’m a social psychologist and I research propaganda essentially. For most of the first 20 years of my research career I studied election campaigning. For example, how do politicians position themselves in order to get themselves elected? What should they say, what should they claim? This is called political marketing or electioneering. 64, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
INVESTIGATE: Are they pretty heavy with propaganda? MAUSER: Propaganda – I know it’s sort of an insulting word but it means how do you talk to people in order to get what you want? How do you use language, not to search for truth, but to get people to believe what you want them to believe? Yeah – that’s propaganda. So my first interest in gun control was to consider it as just one more issue that the government uses to keep in power. There’s a political science question: Where does government policy come from? How much of government policy is invented for the benefit of elites, and then sold like a product to the citizens by convincing them that this is a good thing because now its been decided for them? Alternatively, how much does government policy bubble up from the bottom, that is to say, do the people lead the government to do what the citizens want to have done? Given that democracy is about popular control, this is an important political science question. INVESTIGATE: But given the fact that modern gun control is based on two key components – one is the British gun laws of 1920, which was a response to the scare of Bolshevism or Communism as we now know it, and the other is, and a lot of countries have adopted this, most gun control that we know today is either entirely or a part of Hitler’s Nazi Germany’s gun laws. Why should it be promoted as a good thing?
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“In political science, there’s big discussion about how is it that governments earn legitimacy, earn the people’s trust and respect and how do they violate it? So in some countries the trust is very large, as in many of the British Commonwealth countries, particularly the ones that we’re most familiar with – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland”
MAUSER: The notion of gun control – as many people, it’s not just me, have said – is more about control than about guns. Essentially it’s a social control mechanism that the government uses to control the people that are under it. One of the funny notions of government is that people trust the government to look out for their interests and the government trusts the people not to overthrow it. In political science, there’s big discussion about how is it that governments earn legitimacy, earn the people’s trust and respect and how do they violate it? So in some countries the trust is very large, as in many of the British Commonwealth countries, particularly the ones that we’re most familiar with – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s a historical relationship that comes from hundreds of years of tradition and that tends to be a Tory approach, where the nobility or the higher and better sections of society look out for their peasants and the peasants accept this and even welcome it. This is particularly effective when there is opportunity for social mobility so that the harder working peasants can aspire to being better off and to winning greater respect. That is not meant to be insulting – this is a very stable and trusting social arrangement. It can be broken however. There are traditions as you suggested in the fear of Bolshevism and later on labour unrest – in Canada the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) were used to put down what we would now call legitimate
strikes. You might think of it as reasonable to put down rebellion like Louis Riel. Although even that rebellion is a classic situation of a rupture between the respect of the people and the government so it remains a legitimate question whether it should have been put down, or whether the government should have said something like, “oh well, maybe we can compromise”. These are very complicated questions. How much trust has failed or is intended to fail – one never knows. INVESTIGATE: Given the relationship you described between the nobility, the ruling class, or as we call it today the establishment; and the peasants or what colloquially is known now as a Joe Public, over the last 50 years we’ve seen that relationship breached on numerous occasions and today we now have tremendous government interference in our lives. We have horrendous amounts of taxation, which is forcibly taken from us and we have very little say in how that is used or what purpose it is used for. Is it fair to say that cosy relationship of the ruling class, the establishment looking after Joe Public is coming to an end and we’re now seeing an establishment that says they know better than anyone else and to Joe Public – “you just shut your mouth, pay your taxes, don’t trouble us and you will be OK”. MAUSER: I think that’s overstated and wrong in at least one sense. The relationship between the ruling class and the peasants has been transformed into something different now that Labour is the ruling class. We have socialists who have supplanted the old landed aristocracy that conquered the country a thousand years ago. We have a welfare state that is run for the benefit of the peasants because the unions claim to represent the peasants – we have a parallel kind of structure of legitimacy – unionisation as the new aristocracy now consists of socialists rather than the landed aristocracy or the mercantile class. An even more radical argument is supplanting the traditional government by old landed aristocracy – the new argument is Public Health. Here, the people who control us are not the labour unions, nor the landed aristocracy, but it is our doctors, who see us all as patients. They know what is good for our health, and since their goal is to help us, we should comply to their dictates. We have democratic arguments. “We had a vote – you lost – you should comply.” Medical arguments – “I am the doctor – I know best – you follow my rules.” And we have May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 65
the landed aristocracy social class notions of “I’m better than you – you follow what I say”. Those are all different types of ways of justifying elitist structures and the common person doesn’t have much say. But each of these arguments has ways of getting the peasants to buy into it. For example, the Labour argument is one that they’re taking care of us, providing for our welfare and livelihood, and so practically it becomes “the peasants are quite happy, thank you”. INVESTIGATE: They may be happy but now we’re seeing that the beneficiaries and bludgers, in terms of people who do not work in private enterprise, create no wealth whatsoever – they actually add no money – they are starting to outnumber the productive and the productive are becoming rather irate about this. How long can this continue? MAUSER: That’s a good question – no one ever knows – many people would have not predicted that the English colonies on the East Coast of the United States would have rebelled. There were many people – Whigs and Tories alike in England – who thought this was a mistake. There were many Americans, who then of course called themselves Englishmen, who thought this was a mistake to rebel. That is not – and in hindsight it seems obvious that the American Colonies would have rebelled but it’s not at all historically necessary. One could have imagined that not to have happened, so when conditions and leadership is right, societies can rebel and there can be revolutions.But revolutions are bloody – there are horrible things that happen. The alternative way to think about it is a balance between the kind of the elitist structures that I’ve talked about and the democratic, more egalitarian structures that coexist in many ways. So in a mixed society, with socialists, capitalists, elitists, egalitarians, some people begin thinking, how do you push forces and increase the individualist responsibility – and, how do you work it so that there is more emphasis on egalitarian structures than elitist structures. There’s a huge argument about how to do that and I think the extremes put some bookends on the very issue – that’s normal – but we’re in the middle of a funny mix of all this. INVESTIGATE: Now with the paper you’ve presented at the Australian and New Zealand society of criminologists (ANZSOC), can you tell me the essence of that paper? MAUSER: The basic idea of the paper is quite simple. I wanted to see if the Canadian effort to register firearms was effective in improving public safety; did it meet reasonable standards of fiscal accountability. So it’s basically a managerially-oriented paper. The government of Canada, before they decided on registration, consulted widely and ignored the advice of many people. Some of those people that they consulted with were representatives of the New Zealand government and New Zealand Police who said – this was in the early 90’s – that New Zealand had tried registration and given it up. New Zealand argued that licensing was a sufficient control mechanism, that registration was very difficult to do with a low error rate, it was very expensive, and, most importantly, it was only of limited use – that you really wouldn’t get much, if you did achieve a low error rate. The New Zealand government recommended that Canada not adopt firearm registration. Canada ignored that advice, and threw themselves at attempting to register firearms. My research shows that the New Zealanders were right – Canada has botched registration pretty badly. INVESTIGATE: Now you mentioned the New Zealand Police recommending against registration. At the 1980 firearms symposium here, Inspector Cook stated that the New Zealand Police wanted to drop registration because it had a 40% error rate and had never solved a crime for them and that was universal worldwide. MAUSER: And he’s right!! INVESTIGATE: OK – and that’s the case with Canada? MAUSER: There’s been several times in which the Canadian government or the police have admitted firearm registration has never 66, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
solved a crime. They say it is useful marginally now and then but they have never been able to give a clear example where it has been critical in solving a crime. The error rate is now a cabinet secret but prior to this, a few years ago, they’ve done checks in the error rate, depending on the sample – it’s between 50% and 90%. INVESTIGATE: Sorry – the error rate is? MAUSER: The error rate is that 50 to 90% of the records that were checked had errors. INVESTIGATE: That makes the whole exercise of registration a fiasco. MAUSER: That’s true. Even though they had a virtually unlimited budget, they found they can’t do everything they’d like. Their argument is “We will accept gun owners who have guns to be licensed without giving them a criminal check. We will accept guns described as the owner describes them,” and so on without any checks. They just key the data in – it’s clear you can get a lot of mistakes that way. And this costs $2 billion. INVESTIGATE: Now of that $2 billion I’ve seen in the Edmonton Journal and in other parts of the media that the original cost of the Canadian Gun Registry was $2 million and it’s now exceeded $2 billion? MAUSER: The government hasn’t conceded it – no. The fiscal costs of the Canadian Gun Registry are hidden from public scrutiny as cabinet secrets. INVESTIGATE: Because it’s so embarrassing? MAUSER: I believe so, but only they know their reasons for doing things. The best argument that I can imagine for why they’re hiding it is that there are some politically sensitive deals they’ve made that in buying support. They probably have made offers to the Quebec government or to the chiefs of police that they don’t want people to know about. And the worst argument is that it is corrupt – that they have just booted off with a couple of hundred thousand here and a couple of hundred thousand there and they don’t want to admit it for those reasons. That’s the worst possible explanation. INVESTIGATE: Now with registration – here in New Zealand there have been four occasions when the New Zealand police have used the gun registry to steal the private property of New Zealanders or as they call it “confiscation”. Do you see the move of the Canadian government to register people’s private property – in this case guns – as being a precursor to disarming them and making them defenceless in accordance with the UN’s agenda? MAUSER: I don’t think the government knows itself precisely what its long-term objective is. Everything I can uncover suggests that it is a short-term partisan effort. The Justice Minister who proposed thought that it would help him run for Prime Minister; the Prime Minister at the time thought it would help him win votes in urban constituencies; particularly from the feminists whose support he needed – he thought this would attract support from them. So it’s a variety of very short-term kinds of motives. I think they’re just as happy having a dysfunctional system as a functional system. INVESTIGATE: But let’s say if they did continue and disarm Canadians, do you think Canadians would fight back like the Australian shooting community has – where in Australia it’s immensely difficult to own firearms and consequently a very high quality black market has been developed where local engineers regularly manufacture arms to meet the sporting needs of people in Australia. Could you see that kind of scenario happening in Canada? MAUSER: I don’t know Australia so I can’t talk about Australia. But certainly Canada – my estimates are something like half of all gun owners have complied and gotten licences, and roughly half or slightly more than half of all guns are registered. It’s hard to know those kinds of numbers. Just prior to registration being launched the government of Canada estimated that there were seven million gun owners; but
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Criminals don’t bother registering their guns. once they launched it, they then said there were 2.2 million – so I can’t imagine how it went from one third of all the households in the country, with one or two people in these households being gun owners, down to 5% – 10% of the population is amazing. Their estimates changed enormously. Some sort of drop is reasonable. Since these estimates were made there’s been very little recruitment and gun owners are getting older. People are selling and exporting guns, and so I’m sure there’s a shrinkage. But I don’t think it has dropped quite that much. My estimates are that there are something around four million gun owners and there may be as little as three million, or there may be more. But part of it is – what’s a gun owner? If you live in a rural household and there’s a gun in the house, you live in a household and there’s a refrigerator in the house – this is common property. So the male and the female and the husband and the wife are co-owners of the refrigerator and co-owners of the gun. Is that one or two gun owners in the household? And the other notion that I think is a bit confusing is – you can talk about black market and grey market. There’s a huge pool of criminal guns in Australia and New Zealand, and certainly Canada, that are used by criminals – shared amongst them and most of them have never been in this registration system. This is the black market. Guns are bought and sold and bartered by criminals in order to commit crimes. The grey market is where you have an otherwise solid citizen, like a judge or a professor or a workman or an electrician, who has a gun that he got from his aunt or his uncle or deceased grandfather but just never quite bothered registering it. A lot of citizens feel that a lot of laws are not particularly reasonable. They feel that it is acceptable to not follow rules that they think are stupid. Some of these violations can get peo-
ple in serious trouble, and some of them we all just blow off as ‘normal.’ For example, I never met a person who didn’t break the speed limit at one time in their life. INVESTIGATE: That is interesting the type of people you mentioned there, because I have had a mid-level police officer, not a constable, an actual officer who owned an M16, or the civilian equivalent, a Colt AR15 semi-automatic rifle – and you need a very special licence to own that here and you have to be a very special person to get that licence. Now what he actually said and this is a serving police officer – that there is no way he would ever register that rifle. He doesn’t care what kind of licence you need to get – he’s not getting it and he’s not registering his gun. MAUSER: There’s a lot of people who feel similarly in Canada about similar rules. A couple of estimates – the RCMP thinks there are twice as many handguns in the hands of normal non-criminal Canadians than are actually registered. And the estimates of handguns in criminal hands is separate and distinct. This is what I was calling the grey market. When Kim Campbell passed her bill in 1991 registering semi-automatic military style rifles in Canada, I did a quick Vancouverarea count, I called up gun stores and found out how many they had imported, and then I called up the RCMP and found out how many were registered. I estimated that 9% of this number were registered. Then I found out after I’d done that the RCMP had a done a separate but somewhat similar analysis and found it 12%. And that’s pretty standard – so I’m sure there are lots of laws that people basically ignore cause they don’t think they are acceptable to them? INVESTIGATE: Those figures you’ve just mentioned – we’ve got similar parallels here. I was talking with Inspector Joe Green who’s May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 67
head of firearms here and he was saying at a seminar that around 70,000 military style automatics were imported here – maybe 100,000 – they don’t quite know – and they have registered 3,000 of them. So they didn’t get very many guns. MAUSER: And the question we were talking about is do people conform to laws that they don’t like, but people don’t conform to a lot of laws – the question of social interest is “so what?”. What problems will this pose? Are these unregistered firearms more dangerous or less dangerous than registered firearms and again it goes back to intent – it goes back to the nature of the person. If these are just kept in the attic or walled up or hidden in the basement, there’s a chance of accidents, there’s a chance of somebody running amok – but is this a large social problem, a trivial social problem, or no problem at all? It’s something that we need to check on. I don’t think it’s a big problem. INVESTIGATE: The answer would be that it isn’t a problem at all and it’s not worth wasting time or money on. MAUSER: Prior to the current gun legislation in the 1990’s – by that I mean both the bills – I talked to RCMP and they would say that once a week in their detachment, a community police station, somebody would bring in an unregistered handgun saying “my uncle died, my grandfather died, my father died and I found this in the attic, what is it?” And it would be unregistered – once a week, so if you multiply that by the number of detachments in the country, the number of weeks – that’s a hell of a lot of unregistered guns. INVESTIGATE: You mentioned that a lot of people routinely break laws for instance like the speed limit or laws that are of little consequence. That was first written by Plato in “The Republic” when he wrote “that it’s only a corrupt man who obeys corrupt law”. Based on that rationale, people aren’t going to obey corrupt law. MAUSER: It needn’t be corrupt. Go back to a much simpler principle – not basically different – just a little bit softer – in 1829 when Sir Robert Peel introduced the British Bobbies, he had some basic principles of effective policing. And England at that point had deep strong experience with the British public’s unwillingness to accept laws they thought were ridiculous. The British Indian Tea Company had a price for tea and it was illegal to import any other tea by any other company, but smugglers brought in all sorts of tea and sold it at a half or a third price. It was illegal to buy this tea but the British didn’t seem to listen. Just on policing grounds it is incredibly difficult to get people to follow laws they don’t want to follow. This is marijuana or tea or gun ownership – basically if people don’t want it, it ain’t going to happen. INVESTIGATE: We talked previously about why people own arms and that if you only own it for sport and hunting, as soon as that’s banned, you have no legitimate reason for owning arms. But historically, I understand that the right to own arms comes from the English Bill of Rights and also it goes further back to the Magna Carta. Given that there’s no law in the world that requires police to protect or defend private individuals & their property, surely there’s a very strong case for the continued ownership of arms – not just for sport – and for selfdefence – but also for protection of the greater community. MAUSER: I would agree with that and I would think that in most of the British Commonwealth countries, it is or should be accommodated in those relationships between the public and the police and the government. People as a moral right have the right to defend themselves against a violent attack, and to have the moral right in theory but not in practice is a hollow right. So letting people have the means to defend themselves would be a logical corollary and then unless your laws are not just for the rich who have the wherewithal for lawyers, this must not necessarily lead into a five year $50,000 legal battle before your name is cleared. So it’s much like criminologists have argued that women don’t report rape because the process after they report is worse than the process before. The courts are dragging them through embarrassing 68, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
stuff, it costs them tons of money, and if that’s what it means to defend your life against an attacker, that is not much of a right. The real problem is a practical problem – how do you build trust in the citizenry by the government? To what extent does the government trust the average person to have dangerous powers in his or her grasp? For example if citizens of all these countries can have sex with whoever they want, they can have bank credit with whoever they want, they can really – right now we have a lot of power at our fingertips that the government is nervous about. But people can do some evil stuff because of their freedom. How much evil will the government tolerate before it cracks down on things? What is politically correct, what is acceptable? And certainly one of the downsides of freedom, although libertarians don’t like to talk about it very much is that more freedom means more badness. You give everybody freedom – some of those turkeys are going to misuse it. But I think freedom is important regardless. INVESTIGATE: Well as a libertarian myself, I have to say you are sounding like a libertarian. One of the defining things about libertarians is they promote freedom of individuals to pursue the things they want to do on the proviso that they do not initiate force or fraud against someone else. Now if you are foolish enough to do that in a free society those people may very well have the means to prevent you from initiating force or fraud. MAUSER: And that is the essential lever for a hell of a lot of restriction on freedom and there are 600 kinds of libertarians as well as lots of other kinds of philosophies of government, who worry about that balance between freedom and restriction of freedom. That is the heart of the problem and the source of many a good argument. It’s a legitimate, fruitful question where can you restrict and where should you give freedom instead, because human beings are capable of and do bad things. So if you give people freedom, you’re going to have some bad things happen. One of the reasons there is so much crime in the United States is simply they are the freest people on the planet. Despite that, I think freedom is well worth the risk. I think giving people more freedom is an excellent choice, but we still have to decide where we restrict. If the New Zealand government or the Canadian government, in trying to restrict, steps over my boundary and other people’s boundaries, then it’s a political debate where we then must have a policy debate within the country to see we can find a reasonable place for restrictions. And as a small democracy New Zealanders have to go along with this in their behaviour, but you don’t have to accept the limitations the policy or argument impose upon you; indeed you shouldn’t – you should keep arguing and keep politically active.
DISCLAIMER No comments made in this interview should be taken as incitement to own firearms without first obtaining a firearms licence & the required endorsements.It is STRONGLY recommended that anyone interested in firearms obtain a Firearms Licence from the NZ Police as well as the necessary endorsements. It is further recommended that people join a club that is active in the type of firearm ownership they are interested, in to learn more about this subject. For further information on the ANZSOC conference and Gary Mauser, please visit: www.vuw.ac.nz/anzsoc/callforproposals/#streams www.sfu.ca/~mauser/ www.libertarianz.org.nz
Unhappy with your looks? Forget a nosejob, go get a
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FRONTLINE Photography: HULTON GETTY ARCHIVE 70, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
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British secretary of war Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850 - 1916), famous for the ‘Your Country Needs You!’ recruiting posters, visits the ANZAC trenches at Gallipoli. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 71
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Seaborne troops, including the Royal Munster Fusiliers, landing at Gallipoli from the troop ship, the ‘River Clyde’, during an amphibious attack on the Dardanelles area of Turkey. By the end of the abortive landing, the decks of the Clyde were knee deep in blood and bodies, men cut down by Turkish machine guns in the nearby fortress. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 73
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Anzac troops scattered over a hillside at Gallipoli. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 75
WHAT’S GOING ON IN OUR HEALTH SYSTEM? A report by the New Zealand Health Trust
ou’ve heard that question asked so many times but this is one story that has nothing to do with DHB’s, PHO’s or waiting lists. It asks instead why it is that products like Vioxx and Celebrex make it on to our shelves only to be later recalled because of serious safety concerns. And why the same regulators that happily allowed those products have shown no mercy toward the natural health industry despite its largely blameless record. Independent research has shown that 62% of New Zealanders use Natural Health Products (NHP’s)1 and the international experience bears out that this is steadily increasing. That’s not surprising when you consider that appropriate natural health products can provide a natural approach to the prevention and management of many ailments. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which are by themselves one of the leading causes of death in western countries, natural health products have a lower risk profile than most foods. So why aren’t the regulators who control our health system rushing to embrace this low risk alternative, if nothing else as a first approach? It has the potential to noticeably reduce the funding currently being poured into health care with few of the risks to the patient that pharmaceuticals have. The regulator’s answer is predictable – natural health products, they say, aren’t scientifically proven, they don’t come with the clinical trials, FDA approvals and all the other outward appearances of efficacy and safety that the pharmaceutical industry has devised but then again, neither do the foods we eat. How much protection though did all those labels give to the users of drugs like Thalidomide and others now recognised to have significant and serious safety risks? Questions start to be asked about just how independent and thorough the research and trials into these new wonder drugs are? And how willing are the regulators to believe what the massively powerful pharmaceutical companies choose to tell them to get their products onto the market? The system seems clear – develop a new wonder drug, commission your research and trials, present the evidence in the most flattering way, get the regulatory approval, patent it and stand back and make billions of dollars every year. Better still, in some countries you’re virtually immune from any consequences if people start dying. Not that you can really blame the drug companies, they’re in business, it’s their job to make money. But what about the regulators – shouldn’t they have some accountability for not demanding more vigorous independent testing before approving these drugs for sale? Recently the safety net of the doctors own assessment has also been reduced. Direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals has skyrocketed in recent years despite reports by distinguished academics strongly advising against it.2 Another decision by regulators that could be seen as prioritising the interests of the pharmaceutical companies over those of health consumers. Now maybe this seems a little cynical but consider a report out of the UK in April. The British House of Commons Health Committee recently released its report into its drug regulators3 . That report found that the regulators appeared to place the interests of the pharmaceuticals companies above the welfare of the patients. It identified that the interests of the two groups were often irreconcilable. Similar concerns have also been expressed about the Canadian health regulator.4 It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that a similar situation may exist in most countries, including New Zealand. In addition we have also recently seen in Britain a move to force those on supposedly independent review and testing panels to declare their financial interests in pharmaceutical companies and in the US a recent attempt to ban such links5 . Most of us would be shocked to learn that this hasn’t always 76, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
been the case but in fact such financial links have tended to be the norm rather than the exception. Against this background we begin to get a picture of why it is that the Ministry of Health has now agreed to let some of the Cox 2 inhibitors back on the shelves despite acknowledging that they double the risk of heart attacks and strokes in users6 , but leapt to recall natural health products after the Pan Pharmaceuticals problems in Australia despite the only problem in that case being with a pharmaceutical product and none of the recalled natural health products ever being tested or shown to have any safety issues. So what are New Zealand regulators doing about the increasing numbers of people looking to natural health products as a first choice health alternative? Well they are trying to hand control of the industry to the very Australian body who handled the Pan issue so badly. During 2003 Parliament’s Health Select Committee held hearings into the proposal to hand control of all therapeutic products (pharmaceuticals and natural health products), along with medical devices (all medical equipment and supplies) to a joint Trans Tasman agency by joining forces with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). That Select Committee is made up of representatives of all significant political parties in Parliament and is chaired by Labour MP Steve Chadwick. After many months of hearings and submissions into the proposal the Committee unanimously decided that the Government should not proceed with this proposal as the same would be damaging to New Zealand industry and consumers. You may well think the story would end there. A proposal was put forward, a discussion document released for public and industry comment and after hearing all the evidence (including Medsafe’s own evidence in favour of the proposal), the Committee unanimously recommended that it not proceed. But instead health minister Annette King, under fire in the House, announced just days before the report from Select Committee would be released that she would be signing the treaty with Australia to press ahead with her plans whatever the Select Committee reported. Not surprisingly this provoked outrage. In one statement Ms King showed her contempt for the Parliamentary process. Not only did she display her willingness to dismiss any report that didn’t suit her purposes, she did not even have the courtesy to wait for the report release so she could consider its recommendations before making her decision. Needless to say the submitters and politicians alike who had committed many months to properly considering the implications of the proposal were horrified at the arrogance of the Labour Government, refusing to even pretend to be listening to those that their proposals would actually effect. Instead on 10 December 2003 Ms King and her Australian counterpart signed a Treaty by which they agreed to implement this Joint Therapeutic Goods Agency with an intended start date of 1 July 2005. Already this planned start date has had to be delayed for 12 months as the strength of opposition to the proposal continues to build. But no actual change can be effected unless an Act of Parliament is passed and to do this Labour, as a minority Government, needs the support of at least one of the other parties. What should be a simple exercise has so far continued to elude the Government. To date as well as facing opposition from traditional foes ACT, National and New Zealand First on this issue, Labour has also failed to win the clear support of usual allies United Future and the Green party meaning that they cannot, at present muster the numbers to turn their proposal into law. So just why is there such opposition to this proposed Trans Tasman Agency and what has it got to do with the pharmaceutical companies?
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Well lets go back to were we started. Pharmaceutical companies are driven by the quest for profit and the natural health sector increasingly seen as competition to them, eating into those profits as people look for lower risk, natural options to keep themselves well. Unlike man made drugs, natural health products can’t be patented and without a patent there is no licensed monopoly allowing them to charge as they please. Given the prices the drug companies can demand from drug buying agencies such as Pharmac, it doesn’t matter what compliance costs a Government imposes – be it testing, trials, license fees or the like. Most such costs are just incorporated into the price of the product and recovered from the same Government that imposed those costs in the first place. But for the natural health product sector in New Zealand, the proposed compliance costs can’t be recovered under the protective umbrella of a patent and would be a death blow. So, for the pharmaceutical companies, the easy answer to a burgeoning industry that’s threatening your profits is to encourage Governments to bring natural health products under drug style regulations where they have virtually no hope of survival. That’s just what the proposed joint agency would do. Natural health products would move from their current status of being controlled as part of the food regulations, to being classified as drugs, controlled by the same regulators and forced to comply with pharmaceutical style rules. This is despite the risk profiles of drugs and natural health products being at opposite ends of the spectrum.
f course natural health products need to be regulated and those rules should protect consumers from dangerous and unsafe products. The sector wholeheartedly supports stronger regulation but this can be simply achieved by prohibiting the use of dangerous or potentially dangerous ingredients and compelling businesses to follow good manufacturing practises to ensure consistent and reliable products result. If manufactures want to make claims for what those products may do, then as is the case for all retail products, those claims must be true and justifiable. What they do not need is a regime that economic evidence has shown7 will; • Drastically increase compliance costs for small companies • Increase costs to the consumer • Reduce product choice for consumers • Give Australian businesses a competitive advantage over NZ businesses and • See jobs lost as NZ businesses close or move to Australia
So why is the Government so anxious to inflict this blow on the NZ natural health industry when that industry, consumer groups, academics and their fellow politicians are all telling them it’s a bad idea? Do they really think the 2.5 million New Zealanders who use these products won’t notice? Well, some have suggested that the pressure on Government regulators to look after the interests of pharmaceutical companies already identified in the UK and Canada may not be restricted to Europe and certainly the pharmaceutical companies do seem to be the big winners under the proposal as it stands. Maybe though it’s just another example of the Government’s apparent desire to hand control of as many New Zealand sectors as they can over to Australia. A similar plan is already in place for foods, and is also on the drawing board for sectors such as banking, commerce and securities law. The good news though is that, like the rest of the word, New Zealanders are waking up to the threat to the natural health industry and are preparing to take a stand. Consumer watchdog groups like the New Zealand Health Trust who having been working against the proposal since it was first announced, are continuing to educate natural health users and provide a central focus opposition. “This is a mainstream issue for New Zealand. Having spent considerable time studying the proposal and its implications, we will not allow the natural health industry to be sacrificed” said NZ Health Trust spokesperson Amy Adams. “It is important to us to preserve the right of New Zealanders now and in the future to chose natural health alternatives and have those products available to them and at an affordable price. The Government’s proposal threatens that.” 1. Curia Research Ltd survey commissioned by NZ Health Trust, conducted over 2 weeks in March/April 2005 with a margin of error of +/- 4% 2. Report of Troop et al, Feb 2003 “Direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs – For health or profit” 3. House of Commons Health Committee fourth report of 2004/05 session 4. CanWest news service report 5/1/05 and Toronto Star 2/4/04 5. Associated Press report Washington 1/2/05 6. Christchurch Press article 30/4/05 7. Economic reports presented to select committee by– NZIER & Phil Donnelly & Assoc. Also see Australian Government Regulatory Impact Report into proposal
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THINGS THAT GO BUMP Taken a pasting on local and international sharemarkets lately? Peter Hensley explains why the bears are roaming
im heard the customary clunk which signalled the the turn of the century. All the newsletters and marketarrival of the daily mail. He was expecting their latest ing material quoted that they would be long term winportfolio report and tax statement from their finan- ners if they remained long term investors. Their probcial adviser. He was quick off the mark but was disap- lem was that they could not wait that long. They needed pointed when he found that Moira had beaten him to income and when their adviser offered them the choice of growth or income, the logic supporting the income the letter box. The report arrived as expected and he eagerly opened choice was blindingly obvious. Since the major change in investment products she it. Moira could not understand his urgency. Their adviser had restructured their investments over three has lost interest in analysing the portfolio report when years ago and she fully understood that they were fully it arrives. They have a small exposure to growth investinsulated from the recent turmoil experienced in share ments and she takes a look after Jim has devoured every markets around the world. The daily news reported that line. She has noticed that his interest in the numbers is market indexes appeared to be bouncing around like waning as well. He tends to focus on the cash account in jack-in-the-boxes. He had reassessed the investment risk order to find out the best time to do the transfer back to that they were exposed to and suggested that they adopt their working account. They are more likely to fight over the regular newsleta more conservative and consistent approach. At the time the approach he suggested appeared radi- ter that their adviser sends out twice a month. While cally different to the mainstream advice being offered in their interest in world share markets has decreased, they still play close attenthe market place. tion to economic They hesitantly The property boom went off like an events as and when agreed and since they occur. They then have been earthquake and the effects were felt understand that the incredibly pleased around the globe. Disillusioned baby US share market is with the results. boomers facing a bleak retirement in a long term bear Moira understood market. The market now that he had because of a lack of savings besieged topped out in early moved them from banks to borrow money 2000 and has been being invested in declining ever since. growth-styled managed fund type products to being directly invested in Their adviser suggests that the Dow Jones market index is more likely to get 6,000 before it gets back to income-orientated investments. The change involved learning a whole new set of 12,000, it is now around 10,000. On the way, the retirement dreams of many baby investment jargon and becoming used to seeing income accumulate in their cash account. Moira enjoyed the sec- boomers will be crushed. In their desire to avoid a share ond part and tolerated the first. She admits that this market crash, (or technical correction) authorities around income styled portfolio was her initial expectation when the world created an ocean of liquidity, known as new she first went to visit a financial adviser almost a decade money. They introduced the money to the economy by ago. She did not understand the share market and encouraging borrowing and debt. The US dropped the price of the money (overnight growth-styled fund managers. In the early years she did enjoy seeing the value of her funds increase, but was rate at which banks could borrow money) to below that not prepared when they suddenly turned south around of inflation. The carry trade allowed them to borrow
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short (@ 1%) and lend long, on products such as home mortgages (@ 5%) and credit cards. Because the share market was already fully valued punters steered this tidal wave of money into real estate and like good citizens they borrowed like there was no tomorrow. Money had not been this cheap for decades and with property prices going through the roof, they felt wealthier and borrowed even more. The property boom went off like an earthquake and the effects were felt around the globe. Disillusioned baby boomers facing a bleak retirement because of a lack of savings besieged banks to borrow money. Bank managers combined with property developers to surf this new wave of liquidity as if it was the famous pipeline break at Waikiki. Punters began to flick properties for a quick capital gain. The taste of a quick profit and amazement at the ease with which the transaction was completed encouraged them to borrow again and try for a larger piece of the cake. Stories of easy money spread quickly and added fuel to the media frenzy that ensued. Prices went higher and the boom lasted longer than most people expected giving credibility to the statement that markets can stay irrational longer than most people can remain solvent. One thing is certain, it will end in tears for the majority. Wise old heads (the vast majority of which are retired) marvel at the foolishness of youth. They lived in an era where debt was shunned and people strived to own their home free and clear. They understood that the only way to put money aside was to spend less then they earned and they saved the balance. Today, mortgages and credit card debt are the norm, the bigger the better, saving is an ideal of a bygone age. The national savings rates of most OECD countries are either zero or negative. The US Government is running unsustainable budget and trade deficits. The largest in history. The Chairman of the US Federal Reserve
has come out publicly and suggested that they must be addressed otherwise they will spell disaster for the American (read world) economy. In the same week the US Government voted to extend their line of credit by a further $81 billion to finance the ongoing war in Iraq. They did this by selling another batch of US treasury bills (IOUâ€™s) to a conglomerate of Asian Banks. The deficit grows bigger by the day and is now approaching 7% of GDP, a totally unacceptable level. Jim and Moira are pleased that they are not exposed to over valued share markets and are dubious of the property boom. The only thing it has done for them is to make their home a more expensive house, which in turn will increase their share of council rates. They understand that sooner of later Asian banks and Governments will cease buying US Treasuries. This will result in the collapse of the US dollar and economy. Nobody knows when this will happen but as sure as night follows day, it will. The US share market is dependent upon the US consumer to keep the economy running. If they alter their spending habits the system will slow. This change could be as simple as electing to reduce their debt instead of shopping at the mall. In the mean time Jim and Moira understand that they have little to fear. In the event of a shake up in world credit & share markets they know that their adviser has them conservatively invested on shore. They know that capitalism will continue to strive and conquer any adversity that may besieged world economies. Entrepreneurs will emerge to take advantage of the opportunities that the potential turmoil will create. The low part of the business cycle will be worked through and it is likely that debt will become a four letter word, again. Just like it was for the grand parents of the baby boomers.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 79
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pple has unveiled the second generation iPod mini lineup with a new 4GB model priced with a recommended price of $349 and a new 6GB model priced at $419. Both iPod mini models feature increased battery life – up to 18 hours – plus USB charging and an ultra-portable, lightweight design available in four vibrant colours. iPod mini also works effortlessly with Apple’s iTunes music software and features Apple’s patent-pending Auto-Sync system. This means it works seamlessly with iTunes to automatically download an entire digital music library onto iPod mini with just one click, keeping it up-to-date whenever iPod mini is plugged into a Mac or Windows computer using USB 2.0.
it bikes started out as personal transportation for race crews in the 1990s, and have since burst on to the mainstream. Now $3,499 including GST will buy a ride on one of the hottest pit bikes around, the 110cc Thumpstar. Featuring a 110cc flat-top piston engine, wave rotor front and rear discs, 4104 tensile front and rear axles, and 33 mm telescopic forks, the Thumpstar is just the ticket for any adrenalin junky. For further information call 0800 4 THUMP.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 81
NOT SO FAT New numbers from America suggest obesity isn’t as dangerous as previously thought. But don’t reach for that Big Mac just yet
O Claire Morrow
besity is the second-leading preventable cause time of his death he had three charred steaks, mounds of death in the United States, and it’s only a of potato salad and eight or nine beers on board. matter of time before we catch up. Unless, He also snuck off behind the shed and had five or six that is, you use their newly-revised statistics, which place Winnie Blues with his brother, but his wife didn’t catch obesity way down at number seven in the leading pre- him, so they don’t count. Always the clown, when old ventable cause of death in the US. In which case Aus- Daz grabbed his chest and fell down, it was six minutes tralia’s death rate from obesity is now almost four times before “get up, ya retard” turned to panic. The ambuhigher than that of the Americans! C’mon, that can’t be lance took fifteen minutes to arrive. Now although Dazza right. How many fatty-fatty fat-fats are keeling over, here died of a heart attack, his passing also counts as a weightand abroad? I want answers – and a burger, stat! related death and a tobacco-related death. Of course, the Well, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. There is delay in treatment contributed. Having a father and two no universal formula for working out something as uncles who died of heart attacks before 50 also contribcomplex as how many people die from diseases caused uted. Now if Dazza died at 65, he’s doing well, comby obesity. Working out how many people die from pared with his ominous family history. The statistics fail guns is relatively straightforward. As far as I know, the to take these nuances into account. leading cause of gun deaths is guns. But what about The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cancer? It might be related to obesity, but the obesity estimated in April 2005 that too much weight accounted isn’t required for for 25,814 deaths a the cancer. Skinny in the United Always the clown, when old Daz grabbed year people die of heart States, 14 times less his chest and fell down, it was six minutes than their January disease, as do the, ahem, big-boned. estimate of 365,000 before “get up, ya retard” turned If someone has a deaths. Now the to panic heart attack and dies, same number of and is also overpeople died, and weight, there may be correlation. But since we know the same number were overweight or obese. What the that skinny people have heart attacks too, how do we CDC did to get the new figures was to improve their know if their chubbier cousin would have died of a statistical analysis. They took into account a range of heart attack anyway, irrespective of his weight? factors, some of which may seem surprising. To use the example of the Australian state of VictoMuch of the problem comes from the use of the ria, their “Burden of Disease” statistics show that in Body Mass Index, or BMI. You can easily calculate your 2002, 650 overweight or obese people died from cardio- Body Mass Index, which is your weight in kilograms vascular disease, 450 from type-two diabetes and 300 (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. So if from cancer. Catch the trick? That’s how we get our sta- I am 178 cms tall (from memory) and 59 kgs (distant tistics down under. If a fat person dies from something memory), my BMI is 59 ÷ 1.782, which makes 18.62 and that can be related to excess weight, it’s an obesity- places me at the low end of the healthy weight range related death. No statistics are available on how many (BMI of 18.5 – 25). If you are very fit (muscular), under 18, experiencing the effect of age (losing muscle), or of those people might have died anyway. An example: Let’s suppose that one of those people pregnant, the BMI may not be accurate. The World was called Dazza. Dazza had a heart attack at a family Health Organisation also recommends different cut offs barbie and died in rural Victoria died in 2002. At the for south-east Asians, so if your genetic heritage is such,
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the BMI may not be accurate. If you have recently had a baby, you should substitute the lowest weight you’ve ever been for your actual weight, as I did (just for fun). Generally 25-30 is considered overweight, and over 30 is considered obese. Further confusing the matter, the cut-off may change between countries and over time. For example in 1998 the US National Institute of Health changed their cut-off for “overweight” from BMI 27.8 to BMI 25. 30 million Americans, previously “technically healthy” became overnight “technically overweight”. With limited variations this is how the statistical bodies know if you’re an obesity or weight-related death. Because of the limitations of the BMI I prefer the LBM assessment (Look in the Bloody Mirror). It should be abundantly clear (unless you have a body image disorder) whether you are healthy, overweight or obese. And I have to say, being obese is defiantly not good for you, there aren’t two ways about it. It will put you at risk for a lot of things (cancer, heart disease) that will shorten your life (you’ll die). More so than if you were trim and terrific. If you are merely overweight, however, it’s not so clear. How many people do you know (often women, but not always) who go to the gym, swim twice a week and do yoga on Saturdays and are still “big boned”? They probably have good muscle tone from the exercise, but you may not see it for the soft curvaceous coating. I personally spend a good deal of time participating in toddler aerobics and I believe you could bounce a penny off my “abs”. If you could find them under the squishy layer of stored energy, which you can’t. So if people are overweight, are they automatically at risk of overweight related death? A study in 1996 confirmed earlier research which showed that for adults over 35 attempted weight loss is associated with lower all-cause mortality, regardless of whether or how much weight is lost. So trying to loose weight is beneficial for your health, even if you don’t loose weight. It’s common sense: an overweight person who works out and eats well should be much healthier than a lazy, unfit, skinny person. Fitness generally seems to mean cardiovascular fitness, which is achieved through cardiovascular exercise, which leads to a healthy heart. If you happen to exercise until you can talk, but not easily (a useful rough
definition of effective cardiovascular exercise) for 40 minutes at a time 3 times a week, you should know for yourself that you are healthy. You may, however, still be overweight. Have a look at the people in your family. Scientists have not yet discovered the gene that causes a craving for breakfast at McDonalds, but they have discovered a small number of genes for obesity. And there are probably more. As in all things, some people are better at some things than others, even at a physiological level. Some people don’t get enough iron in their diet, but their body is very good at using what they get, and they just never get anaemic. Some people are just efficient fat burning machines, eat badly and do no exercise yet stay skinny. Not healthy, mind you, just skinny. Some people just have a hard time losing weight, but if they are doing all the right things, they could well be healthy. If a 10-metre sprint for the bus leaves you breathless, I don’t care how you look, your health is in trouble. You can be fit but overweight if you try because for all the books on weight loss out there, the whole thing is simpler than you’d think. If the energy you take on is more than the energy you expend, you gain weight. You burn calories/ kilojoules/energy (synonyms for popular purposes) all the time, to breath, to sleep – perchance to dream – to walk to the shop. And you intake energy all the time. If it’s not water and it goes in your mouth to your stomach, it counts as energy. The more energy you expend (all common sense; walking burns more energy than watching TV etc) the more energy you burn. You could get fat eating apples if you ate a lot of them and moved as little as possible. So if you are overweight, you need to eat less or exercise more. Of course, if you exercise more, you will be fit, which is good. If you just eat less, you could be skinnier but no healthier. Bottom line, fitness counts for more than weight. We don’t really know how many “overweight and obesity related” deaths happen. I’m not sure what it matters. Being overweight may cause (indirectly) death, being unfit is a better target. We shouldn’t (alas we do) judge this on how you look. It doesn’t matter what the stats are, I tell you this; if you can’t run for the bus, you’re in trouble. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 83
ORBIT OR OBIT? There’s a lot of talk of space tourism after Spaceship One, but not much about the risk
o a privately-funded manned flight has finally made announcement by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson it into space. Some see it as the greatest break- of the formation of his new ‘spaceline’, Virgin Galactic, which through in transportation technology since the is already taking expressions of interest from hundreds of Wright Brothers. Others deride it as the ultimate toy for well-heeled space cadets for the first commercial flights. the obscenely rich – the most expensive roller coaster Branson talks of a son-of-Spaceship One, a craft ride of all time. already being designed, which will carry five passengers The reality of Spaceship One and the much-heralded instead of two, and blast thrill seekers into the void for dawn of commercial space flight lies somewhere as little as US$200,000. Incredibly, he says that this could between these two caricatures. These sub-orbital hybrid all be up and running as soon as 2007. rocket planes are technically brilliant machines which serve That mightn’t sound like a cheap ticket for a four hour no real purpose other than to break records and impress journey into space, but by today’s aerospace standards the socks off techno-heads. And just possibly make that’s exactly what it is. Branson estimates that there are at money – not as serious working vehicles, but as the least 3,000 people in the world with a lazy 200 grand lying wildest fairground ride ever to make it from the draw- around and a hankering for a few minutes of zero-G, ing board to the ticket booth. more than enough to make to make the project workSpaceship One is the brainchild of radical aeronautical able. However you cut the numbers, space tourism is engineer Burt Rutan. Radical? Well, a spaceship pow- certainly cheaper than it was – the first billionaire to ride in ered by burning rubber in compressed laughing gas has space as a paying customer, Dennis Tito, paid around to qualify as an extreme $US20 million to the machine, but it works. Russians for the experiRutan’s team claimed the ence in 2001. Tito made Branson estimates that there are US$10 million X Prize in a fortune with the finance at least 3,000 people in the world September by being the company he founded with a lazy 200 grand lying around first re-usable piloted after leaving NASA in the vehicle to reach space 1960s, and while he was and a hankering for a few minutes twice in a fortnight. the 415th person in of zero-G The prize was estabspace, he was, at 60 years lished in 1995 by a group of age, the first paying of space enthusiasts and business groups in St. Louis customer. Hardly a cheap ticket, but Tito spent days in in an attempt to kick-start commercial space flight, in actual orbit, 300 kilometers up, on the International Space much the same way that the funding of Charles Station. Branson’s rocket planes will reach 100 kilometers Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis 1927 trans-Atlantic flight – the official if somewhat arbitrary boundary of space – encouraged investment in aviation through the 1930s. and fall back to earth without getting anywhere near earth The twice-in-a-fortnight stipulation was made to guar- orbit. (This is what the X-15 rocket planes of the ‘60s antee that the winning craft was genuinely re-usable. managed to achieve before they were abandoned in Spaceship One’s victory was not exactly a commercial tri- favour of the moon program’s heavy multi-stage booster umph in itself, given that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen rockets and the space shuttle. Still, you do get the zero-G poured twice the prize’s value into the project. But ever since, experience, and the view’s pretty good from 100 the hype merchants have been letting the world know that kilometers…) The view was also pretty good for another the age of affordable private space travel has finally arrived. bunch of wealthy thrill seekers on May 6, 1937, as they The boosters have now gone into overdrive with the approached Lakehurst, New Jersey, aboard what was then
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considered the grooviest, hippest travel experience on earth. Thirty-five seconds after an orange glow was spotted near the tail section, the Hindenburg, and the age of the airship, lay in a twisted pile of flaming wreckage, only two hundred metres from the landing mast. It’s hard to imagine that the consequences of a fatal accident on a Virgin Galactic jaunt would be much different. Unlike commercial aviation, space joy rides have no utility, and thus a very low level of acceptable risk. And just because they’re the ones taking the risk, does that make it OK for wealthy adventurers to blast themselves holus-bolus into the ionosphere? Ferris wheels that collapse aren’t acceptable. What’s the difference, apart from the scale of the ride? Part of the problem is that when space shots fail, they can fail spectacularly, and come down just about anywhere. The nub of the problem was simply expressed by Senator Bart Gordon of the US Senate’s Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee in July last year. Industry representatives had appeared before the Committee to insist that the US Government indemnify the industry against such disasters. ‘Commercial human space flight may be an idea whose time is about to come,’ said Gordon. ‘However, if it is to succeed, industry and government need to enter into a serious dialogue on the issues of appropriate safety standards and the extent to which it is appropriate for the Government to indemnify the companies against the consequences of launch accidents.’ In other words, ‘We’re none to sure about all this – leave it with us for a while.’ One-time exo-tourist Dennis Tito suggested to the committee that once there had been several sub-orbital launches, that would be sufficient to establish a ‘record of safety’. The committee was dubious about this. Jeff Greason of XCOR Aerospace is a possible Virgin Galactic competitor, as are a few of the twenty-odd teams who originally registered as X-Prize competitors and are still working on their launch systems. Greason unintentionally revealed the cavalier nature of the industry’s approach to safety when he breezily reassured the senators that ‘it’s safe enough when customers start showing up’. Branson’s web site is unclear as to the insurance arrangements for Virgin Galactic, though it appears at this stage that he’s hoping to get away with a simple passenger waiver of all rights against Virgin in case of mayhem. Whether such a document would stand up in court, against the well-advised relatives of very rich victims, is another thing entirely. The Canadian da Vinci team, who had hoped to snare the X-prize with their Wild Fire rocket, came up against this very problem – as well as
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a few technical hitches – last month when their Government baulked at indemnifying them against launch accidents. It’s not just the passengers and crew, either. They can take their chances, but ploughing a crippled spaceship into a crowded shopping mall is a different thing entirely. Nonetheless, there is a sense of inevitably about all of this. Spaceship One has proved that it can be done, and when it comes to new technology, nine times out of ten that means it will be done, in one form or another. And if the International Space Station manages to justify its multi-billion dollar price tag on the waffly argument that we must ‘maintain a human presence in space’ (as George W. Bush puts it), taxpayers will probably be happy to see the work contracted out to private operators if they can do it at a fraction of the cost. In the hope of long-term budget relief, NASA will next year announce its own version of the X-prize, the Centennial Challenges, which will make awards of up to $20 million for private companies who first achieve feats like robotic moon landings and asteroid sample-return missions. The Centennial Challenge program manager Brant Sponberg said recently that the agency would have to get approval from Congress first. ‘We can only make awards of up to $250,000 at the moment. Starting next year we hope to have legislative authority to award purses above this level.’ There are politicians in the United States who want NASA to make big money available for private projects. One senator on the Science, Technology and Space Committee, Republican Sam Brownback, is proposing that NASA award $200 million for the first private manned orbiting mission – a lot more than the $10 million X Prize for suborbital flights, and a good indication of the work private launch operators have to do before they break into the big time. But whatever the financial incentives, and no matter how careful the players and strict the rules, inevitably, over time, there will be accidents. It’s just a matter of whether they are bad enough to stop one or two spacecraft, or bad enough to kill an industry. Engineers and legislators received a salutary reminder of this on October 15 this year. The Chinese had announced that an unmanned test shot of the FSW-20 ‘recoverable satellite’ had ended successfully. By this they meant that the capsule had been retrieved. They didn’t – at first – admit that it had crashed into a four storey apartment building in the town of Daying, miraculously without loss of life, as all the residents were off shopping at the local market. No real harm done to the Chinese space program, either. But Richard Branson, and those who come after him, won’t be running the Chinese space program.
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KILIMANJARO IN FIVE DAYS Twice the height of Mount Ruapehu and Macon Dunnagan comes back for more
cannot see it. Even though it stands 19,385 feet a larger, central hut used for eating. I was assigned one of above me, by noon, Mount Kilimanjaro is completely the A-frame huts with the other three hikers in my group: obscured by clouds and blends in with the after- Michael Route, Travis Yeast and Jeff Warden. noon haze. Yes, it is there. It’s the highest peak in Africa. We went to the central hut for a mandatory afternoon A mountain so high above equatorial Africa that it is carbohydrate-loaded snack – hot, sweet tea and crackers. crowned with glaciers and snow. The temperature was now about 30 and humid. Still, a five-day climb from rain forest to snowbank is After what we climbed, though, it felt cool. We wannothing to be attempted lightly. And once you start, dered around the camp looking for native wildlife and there are no refunds. talking about the mountain. The last leg of my flight, from the Tanzanian capital Dinner, served about 6:30 p.m., consisted of pasta, of Dar es Salaam to Mount Kilimanjaro Park, was three potatoes and chicken, served with water and hot tea. hours late; I was already behind the other climbers who It got dark around 7:30 p.m. had signed on with the same tour. We were up by 7 a.m. to a breakfast of fruit, eggs and “This is not good,” said Joseph Meela, the guide who potatoes, and were on the trail by 8:30. met me there. It always rains in the lower elevations in Joseph took us on a short detour to see Maundi Crathe afternoon, he explained, and getting wet in a rain ter. It has some nice views, and we could see the top of forest downfall is not a super way to start a five-day Kilimanjaro from there. climb. Still, it does test how waterproof your gear is. The landscape changes rapidly from rain forest to low We started the climb shrubs and tall grasses. at the entrance to the The trail is well marked I’d never seen a glacier before, and park, at 6,400 feet, and and easy to follow but is to have seven of them encircling us, all very narrow. As we planned to hike up the Manangu Route – one reflecting the rays of the morning sun, climbed, we ran into of six routes to the others who had been to was truly awesome Mandara Hut at 8,850 the top and were comfeet. It’s a distance of ing down. We found about five miles in five hours, and an ascent that’s the out, though, that only about 75 percent had made it all equivalent of climbing a 26-floor building. the way; the rest looked tired and despondent. It rained and rained, and though I had my poncho The clouds poured in around us, and we made our on, everything but my feet became soaked. way across the rolling meadows, keeping a steady pace Colobus monkeys jumped back and forth over the for four hours. We stopped for a quick bag lunch, hot trail, calling to others in the distance. The rain forest tea and bottled water. The sun broke out around 1 p.m., closed in on Joseph and I as the trail narrowed, but we and we all put on sunscreen. talked about the mountain. My porter had already taken At 11,500 feet, the sun is much stronger than at sea my backpack up to the Mandara Hut, so I carried only a level, and sunburn is not what any of us wanted. About small daypack with a water bottle and camera. The secret 4:30 p.m., we reached the Horombo Hut, a complex to successfully climbing Kilimanjaro is to take it slow, for hikers. so your body can get adjusted to the altitude. We collected our gear from the porters, who already And that’s what we both did. After about four hours, had brought it up, and headed over to our assigned hut. we arrived at my first night’s stop, Mandara Hut. A snack was served about 5, and dinner two hours later. It’s a camp of about eight four-person bungalows with We used the intervening time to look around the camp
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and to talk to other hikers, about 60 in all. They were a combination of people who had just come down off the night hike to the top of Kilimanjaro and others, like us, who were hiking up. After talking to those who reached the top, I decided to go on to Kibo Hut the next day. I was feeling fit, confident, and very excited about getting to the top. The others in my group opted to stay another day to acclimate to the altitude. Dinner was served: chicken-rice soup, potatoes, fruit and salad. We listened to Voice of America on the radio, and by 8:30 were off to sleep. It was very cold inside our hut the next morning. My thermometer read zero degrees inside and minus one outside. Our porters brought hot water to the huts, and breakfast was served at 7 a.m. I said goodbye to my friends, and Andrea, one of the other guides, got ready to take me to the summit. Joseph gave me some last-minute instructions and advice – to take my time, watch my breathing and drink lots of water. He said he and the rest of the group would see me the next day when I was on the way down from the top. Everybody wished me luck. By 8 a.m. we were off. This was Andrea’s 26th trip to the top, and yes, he had guided some who hadn’t reached Kilimanjaro’s summit. He explained that we would hike about seven miles, get to Kibo Hut about 5 p.m., have a quick snack and rest until dinner at 6:30. Then we’d sleep for five hours before getting up at 11:30 p.m. for our go at the top. It would take another five hours of hard, dusty climbing to reach Gillmans Point by daybreak. At this point, you have actually reached the top of Kilimanjaro, but you can continue on the mountain’s ridge for about two more hours to the absolute summit, which is called Uhuru Peak. It’s much easier said than done. During our walk to Kibo Hut, we passed through a desert that could only be described as what Mars would look like on a good day. This area is in the valley between two small mountains and is referred to as a “saddle” because of its shape. The sky was deep indigo blue; the
terrain was hard-packed red clay with large and small boulders scattered across the landscape. We took a one-hour break halfway to Kibo. I noticed it was getting more difficult to breathe at this elevation, and welcomed the chance to sit down and drink some of the bottled water I had bought at Horombo that morning. I also had a cup of hot tea and a bite to eat. While we were eating, I met Nicole Green, Tina Arness and her sister, Wendy. The trio from the Seattle area had been traveling throughout Africa and were now trying to climb Kilimanjaro. Wendy had been very sick, but all three were determined to make it to the top the next morning. I was amazed I’d actually made it that far without any kind of altitude sickness. We were off again by 1 p.m., but Andrea and I took our time and had many breaks where we’d talk to people coming down the mountain. Members of a group from France said it was very cold when they set off for the summit the night before. Only half of their party made it to the top. A group from Germany said they all made it to the top, but again noted that they made the haul despite cold and wind. Andrea and I made it to Kibo by 5:15 p.m. It was just one bunkhouse with three large rooms, 15 bunk beds in each. There were about 25 others from different groups there, all to rest before trying for the summit. After my snack, I explored the camp, listened to Voice of America and just relaxed. Dinner was at 6:30 p.m. Wendy was still feeling bad, but was able to enjoy the hot soup. We talked about our impending night climb. The temperature inside the unheated bunkhouse was 47. By 11:30 p.m. – when we were to head out – it would be much, much colder. I believe you will feel pain when climbing Kilimanjaro, no matter what physical or mental shape you’re in. We woke up at 11:30 p.m. and after hot tea and crackers were on our way to the summit. There was no moonlight, but the stars were more brilliant than many could imagine. It’s like that in the thin air at 16,000 feet above sea level. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 87
The climb started out simple enough – an easy, very slow walk. But after about an hour, the trail took a sharp rise. We had to zigzag our way up the face of the mountain for the next four hours. When we rested against boulders and looked down the mountain, we saw the dance of flashlights coming up behind us. It is so beautiful that it can make you forget the strain of the climb. I coped by using this routine: First I’d get my breath, then set my climbing poles, adjust my headlamp, take another breath and push on. Andrea, my guide, told me we only had few hundred more feet to go, but the climb was nearly vertical and it had gotten very cold. My water bottle had frozen, and to get water I had to use my knife to chip shards of ice from inside it. The air was very dry and dusty from other climbers who used the gravel trail, but Andrea and I continued on through the night, one foot in front of the other, and taking short breaks. After five hours and 15 minutes of shuffling 3,149 feet uphill, we climbed over a few last boulders. We had made it to Gillmans Point – 18,630 feet. The top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing to another world. The sun came up and I hiked to the top of a big snow wall to get a better view. There was so much happening as the sun began to rise: Glaciers and the ground changed colours by the minute. I felt dehydrated but discovered I was completely out of water. I quenched my thirst with a handful of African snow. But all our climbing wasn’t over. We moved along the crater’s rim, over an icy, snow-covered path for 200 more vertical feet. This took an additional two hours. It was like another world up there. From Gillmans Point to Uhuru Peak, more vast glaciers surrounded us. They reflected the morning sun, from orange to white to ocean blue. The ground was a chocolate brown. It was like walking through a dream.
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I strayed off the narrow trail to Decken Glacier, where the ground was a reddish orange. And I looked at the powerful wall of blue, green and white ice in front of me. I’d never seen a glacier before, and to have seven of them encircling us, all reflecting the rays of the morning sun, was truly awesome. I noticed there were about 25 hikers on the top with Andrea and me, all heading to the Uhuru Peak. I walked slowly now, but with more determination. I felt better after eating more snow. With every minute and every turn, something new and fantastic greeted me – a kind of reward for the pain that I was feeling in my head and lungs. It reminded me of the pain experienced when I ran 10K races and sprinted toward the finish line. As we approached Uhuru Peak, we walked past Heim Glacier, a large, curved mass of frozen green and white. I looked across to the other side of the crater and saw the jagged, eastern ice field. Finally, we reached Uhuru Peak. We took the obligatory pictures, and then I decided to wander around the top of this magical setting. At that moment, a Virgin Atlantic 747 made a complete circle around Kilimanjaro, and I hoped its passengers were as excited to see the summit as I was. Andrea reminded me we should be thinking about our climb down: There were seven or eight hours of hiking back to Horombo Hut. Another 30 minutes on top and I was ready to go. The cold finally started to get to me, and the temperature gauge was reading – 10 degrees. It had been a very successful climb and I felt very lucky to have made it with little problem. We began to make our way back down. Andrea and I continued on the trail to Gillmans Point, took another picture and headed down another three hours to Kibo Hut. That was where I noticed how swollen my face and hands had become from dehydration. I really needed to concentrate on drinking a large amount of water on the way back across the desert. I took two Advil and in 30 minutes, I was on my way to Horombo. About one mile outside the camp, I met up with my initial guide, Joseph, with the original hikers in my party in tow. They had waited a day before trying the top, and were now on their way up. We shared hot tea and talk, but time was working against me. It was almost 1 p.m. in the desert, and Andrea and I had four or five hours to go. So we went. We talked about the climb; I’m sure he was trying to get my mind off my body, which was becoming sore. We arrived at Horombo around 6 p.m. and while my bunk was being set up, I was besieged by questions from hikers who would start their journey up the mountain the next day. There was no time for dinner. By 6:30 p.m. I was in my sleeping bag and a few seconds from ending a truly long day. I awoke to another cold morning. It was 6:30 and I was ready to go down the mountain with three blue toenails, and every muscle in my legs and back hurting. I was grateful for the steaming cauldron of water; I washed up for a breakfast of fruit and potatoes. Andrea and I packed and were on our way within 30 minutes. It was all downhill and only took four hours to reach Mandara Hut. After a quick lunch, we continued to the park entrance. It began to rain as hard as it did five days earlier, and this cooled the forest to a comfortable 84 degrees. Monkeys were all around us as we started the final mile. Land Rovers at the park entrance waited to take us to the tour headquarters in the town of Moshi. The owners of the tour company, Zainab and Roger Ansell, were there to meet me and were eager to hear about the climb. A goodbye to Andrea, and then we were off to the hotel and dinner with other guests. I retired by 9:30 p.m. The next morning I was off to Nairobi, and eventually, home. Does the story end here? Not quite. I leave again for the top of Kilimanjaro soon.
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OF MEN & MYTHS Michael Morrissey meets Alexander the Great, and has a shocking encounter with the binding force of the universe
ALEXANDER THE GREAT By Robin Lane Fox, Penguin Books, $31.95 The recent justly-panned film about Alexander the Great, history’s greatest general and conqueror of the then known world, has prompted a re-issue of this magnificent one volume history of the enigmatic Macedonian. According to some critics, it is the finest history so far written and though I am not a professional historian, I am inclined to agree. A scholarly work, it has 50 pages of microfiche-sized footnotes. In the main text, it’s all here in dazzling detail – the fantastic siege machines that stormed the island fortress of Tyre, the wheeling feints and massive concentration of attack that defeated every military adversary, the brutal methods used to defeat King Porus’s elephants (javelins in the eyes, hamstrings cut with axes, hacking off trunks with razor-sharp scimitars) plus the founding of cities, the grand Hellenic vision, the spontaneous acts of kindness and generosity, the ruthless treatment of enemies, not to forget alcoholic and sexual indulgence. Historians like Schachermeyer, Tarn and Hammond praise Alexander while others like Badian, O’Brien and Green condemn him. Depending on one’s cultural and historical perspective, Alexander’s life and deeds lend themselves to either favourable or denunciatory interpretation. Among ancient historians Callisthenes, Aristobulus, Arrian and Plutarch praised Alexander while Curtius Rufus and Cleitarchus were harsher in their assessment. Plutarch saw Alexander as a civilizer of barbarians – an attitude with which we no longer feel comfortable. When Fox writes warmly of the spread of Hellenic or Greek culture, I am tempted to ask, isn’t this Plutarchian praise in a more sophisticated form? On balance, Fox admires Alexander and there are numerous incidents of his nobility of character as well as the darker side. At times, so overwhelming is the mass of Alexander’s achievements both cultural and military in such a short life, one feels a kind of admiring historical vertigo. Did the man never sleep? Apparently, very little. Fox writes with angelic erudition throughout his closely detailed book. He excels in outlining military tech90, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
nicality but is even more outstanding when he offers intensive psychological analysis – the exact motives and circumstance of Cleitus’s murder by Alexander; the acute examination of the controversial proskynesis or homage with prostration paid to social superiors; the intelligent consideration of Alexander’s “godhood” – are all masterly, superb. The wonder of it is, Fox wrote this book when he was in his mid twenties – an eerie parallel with the youthful world conqueror whose blazing career lasted from 21 to 32. Now for some brick bats – the maps are ridiculously poky affairs and printed in such a way that it is hard to read place names. Also the maps show only Alexander’s journeys not his battles. Why such an important omission? The new issue – save for a changed cover – is
exactly the same as it was 30 years ago – surely a missed chance to improve and extend the maps as well as an opportunity for Fox to update his views. Fascinatingly, Fox was historical consultant to Oliver Stone’s recent film and made a “nonnegotiable” demand that he be included in the front ten of every major calvary charge on location. Fair enough. By now, of course, Fox is as old as the hardy veterans of Alexander’s concluding campaigns – nearing 60, yet still a champion horseman. But why oh why did he apparently sanction a major rewrite of history in the film – King Porus is shown as wounding Alexander with a spear whereas in actuality Porus was captured by an unwounded Alexander – the wound occurred later in a different Indian location. Prior to Jesus Christ, Alexander was probably the most famous and written about of men. Curiously, no one has ever doubted that Alexander existed even though nearly all the original documents written about him were lost and recast some three to four hundred years after his death. The consequence is that many of his famous (and infamous) deeds exist in variant accounts. Thus he has become partially mythical though indisputably a real figure. In the case of the Gospels, they are all written close together, soon after Christ’s lifetime and are consistent with each other. Yet some nineteenth century historians suggested that Christ never existed. The same theory applied to Alexander would never have gained an inch of traction. Such are the paradoxes of history.
THE FULL CATASTROPHE By Edna Mazya, Picador, $29.95 Thrillers are like fast food – they fulfil a need with suspicious ease but leave you undernourished. On the other hand, there is the deeper psychological thriller more or less invented by Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment, one of the world’s greatest novels. This wonderful first novel by Israeli playwright Edna Mazya aspires more to the Dostoyevsky “genre” than the usual airport trash. As in the great Russian novel, we know who the murderer is – it’s the main character, Professor Ilan Nathan, who kills his wife’s lover, not with a knife, gun or heavy object but with – you’ll never guess – his pipe. If the unlikely death of Oden Safra is black humour, it’s difficult to mourn the demise of such a callous smug bastard. What is gripping about this book is the way Nathan keeps drawing attention to himself, his guilt is an inner motor that drives him to perpetrate the most infelicitous of actions. He leaves a trail of self incriminating actions that a blind man could follow. The superbly detailed sequence where Nathan keeps trying to dispose of the body is both nail-biting and
blackly funny. This book, along with countless movies – including Unfaithful (which it strangely parallels) makes one thing perfectly clear – never take a stiff to the rubbish tip. Apart from the expert plotting, black humour and acute psychology, the novel’s outstanding feature is its unusual style. The sentences are disconcertingly long rolling affairs, yet once you get used to their rhythm they carry you along like giant surf. This eminently readable yet in depth novel is a good antidote to the trashy Hannibal Lecter books. I’ve never quite believed in Hannibal but Ilan Nathan is more credibly human – complete to an unemotional mother who loves him and saves him in the end. Just how, you will have to find out by treating yourself to the book.
OLD SCHOOL By Tobias Wolff, Bloomsbury, $21.95 Some years back, I enjoyed Back in the World, a fine collection of short stories by this American author. This is his first novel, a short but also fine work. Wolff writes the kind of smooth lucid window pane kind of prose that seems effortless (though I’m sure it is not). It contrasts nicely with the surging, complex and ambitious prose of The Full Catastrophe (reviewed above). Wolff tells the story of an adolescent writer so desperate to win a short story competition which will enable him to meet the world-famous Ernest Hemingway as part of his prize, that he decides to steal a plot, character etc from a previous winner. Though he does not copy the story word for word, it is justly considered an act of plagiarism so he is duly expelled in disgrace. As everybody knows, the glories and humiliations of school years can seem as tough as what travails adult life subsequently throws
our way. So though the plot may not sound like nail-biting stuff, competitions, rivalry, young hopes of success, are always a good page turner. I read it at one sitting. Generally, it tasted as good as Feijoa sparkling wine. What are particularly good are the (as it were) real life, breathlessly vivid character renditions of poet Robert Frost and philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand who visit the school to meet with short story prize winners. Frost is portrayed as a shrewd, crusty old fellow who misses nothing and gives a creditable defence against charges that rhyme in poetry no longer cuts the mustard in a brutally modern world. Frost’s argument that grief can only be told in form, that lack of form means grievance not grief, is so convincing that I began to wonder if Wolff doesn’t secretly agree. But I could be wrong about this. I have no doubt, on the other hand, that he certainly does not sympathise with the neo-fascist Ayn Rand (and who needs the neo?). Rand chews the boys out for not looking after Number One (one’s self). Unsurprisingly, she tears into the school motto – Give All – and urges everyone “to ignore such drivel and live for themselves alone”. When asked by the headmaster to name the single greatest work by an American author – she replies Atlas Shrugged – her own novel. Second greatest, is her other novel, The Fountainhead. Even apart from the morally unacceptable so-called capitalist message they espouse, the writing in these books is so bad they are virtually unreadable. After the young anti-hero falls from grace and Hemingway falls sick and does not attend, I felt the work, fine though it is, became anti-climactic. To this reader, it would have been infinitely more dramatic, if Hemingway May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 91
had visited the school, and only then, the young writer’s deception discovered. Hemingway could have administered a stern reprimand ... From the rapturous reviews the book has been receiving, it appears other critics do not share my view. Despite what I perceive as a lost dramatic opportunity, the book is warmly recommended, particularly to fans of The Dead Poets’ Society.
VILLAGES By John Updike, Hamish Hamilton, $55 It’s been more decades than I care to remember back to when I read my first Updike – from memory Rabbit, Run – a language-sensuous work which impressed, though not as much as the meticulous short stories of Pigeon Feathers – a collection that affirmed Updike as a leading light among the post-war New Yorker school. Since then, Updike has never slowed up – this is his twenty first novel and nearly sixtieth book. Updike’s favoured fictional terrain is rural, prosperous small town America, particularly in the Pennsylvania-Connecticut region. While some might see it as a limitation, another way to look at is Updike has made it is own. Just as (say) our own Updike – equally meticulous-in-detail Owen Marshall – has made South Island small towns very much his own. Any serious social historian would do well to look into these authors’ large volume of short stories to catch the flavour as well as the precise details of these zones, both socially and geographically. Updike began his prolific career with The Poorhouse Fair, published when the author was 26. Set in a retirement village, critics marvelled at how accurately the then youthful author captured the nuances of old age. Now Updike himself is in his seventies and the
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central character of his new novel of comparable vintage. Owen McKenzie, a man as uncolourful as his name, is more or less happily married to second wife Julia (though the nagging scenes are wonderful) but, like many elderly, he spends much time reflecting on his past – particularly his sexual past. Naturally, Updike describes these sensual memories with the same painstaking detail he might use on a period Chevy or Chrysler. Car and sexual descriptions are sometimes intertwined – a circumstance that recalls the hidden history of the American auto as an early mobile bedroom for highly hormoned teenagers. Owen also spends much time remembering his first wife, the tragic circumstance of her accidental death. The question is – is Updike getting better, holding steady or deteriorating in his skills as a writer? A bit of all three. If a writer continues to till the same social soil, critics eager for new terrain are prompted to say we’ve read all this before, nothing new here etc etc. Since I have the advantage, so to speak, of not having read any Updike for some time, his vision – his 70 plus eyes – seem just as sharp as ever. If it is true, as some have commented, that the sexual descriptions are more physical than psychological, more cool than passionate, it could be argued that this style of writing is more in character with Owen’s personality and the male psyche at large. Sex-obsessed critics may have also overlooked that this novel is also an expertly detailed account of how computers developed during the protagonist’s lifetime. This is, I venture to surmise, a new territory for the ever observant Updike. On balance, Villages shows the scintillant talent for which Updike has been justly known for five decades, and perhaps we should be thankful for that.
ELECTRIC UNIVERSE: The Shocking True Story of Electricity By David Bodanis, Little Brown, $35 Almost on the first page, Bodanis tells us that electricity is a far more awesome force than the juice in kitchen light sockets. Without it, he writes, “All the Earth’s oceans would gush upward and evaporate as the bond between water molecules broke apart. DNA strains within our body would no longer hold together. Any air-breathing organism that was still intact would begin to suffocate, for without electrical attraction, the oxygen molecules would bounce off the haemoglobin molecules in blood”. And I thought amps and volts were only found in torch batteries and live wires. Bodanis doesn’t stop there – minus electricity the ground would open up, mountains would collapse, continental plates tear apart and the sun switch off. In other
words, the universe would be a blowout, kaput, entropic. One thing for sure – from now on, I’m gonna pay my power bills. The forces that Bodanis describes are of course invisibly locked away in matter. Apart from lightning strikes or a spark of static electricity in flaxen garments in dry air, electricity remained mysterious and unknowable - until the founding father of humanly-created electricity appeared: Alessandro Volta. He created the first battery by pressing a copper disc against one side of his tongue and a zinc disc against the other, then touching the coins together producing a tingling sensation. Volta had made history. We honour his name still. Bodanis is of the no nonsense English school that believes that science is such a complex business, it needs to be explained in terms that someone in Form One, i.e. aged eleven, can understand. Not being a scientist, though having a desire to know what science and scientists are up to, I don’t have too much of a problem with this approach. (The explanation of how the human voice is turned into an electric current and back again into sound is masterful.) I have no quarrel with clear explanations as long as they are accurate – which I assume Bondanis’s are. The story of electricity is in an exciting and moving story of knowledge ever expanding but it can be almost a “shock” to learn Morse was a paranoid bigot who hated Negroes, Jews, Catholics and Jesuits; that Edison was a clever but cold unscrupulous swine; that Faraday had to support himself from age 12 by being a bookbinder, that brilliant-but-unhappy Turing, code cracker supreme, chewed his fingers so much they festered. Electricity’s pioneers were all too human. What is disturbing about this lucid book is its blatant Anglophilia. It is larded with British achievement during the Second World War era but, apart from Edison and Bell, leaves out the great Americans of the late nineteenth century like Tesla (born in Croatia) who invented the alternate current motor (plus radio-frequency magnetic waves before Marconi) which led to
the harnessing of Niagara Falls. While there is ample mention of English Colossus and Enigma machines there is nothing about American ENIAC. The moral focus on “Bomber” Harris seems misplaced. And why the sudden leap in chapter sequence from 1887 to 1939? Also the “Electric Mood” chapter covering the present era is too brief. Despite these omissions and imbalances, this is a switched-on book that deserves high currency.
May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 93
MOVIES & DVDs
CRASH IS NO TRAINWRECK Also: Nicole Kidman’s latest is not what you think it’s about, and Australia (finally!) produces a decent movie
Released: April, 2005 Rated: PG
Released: April, 2005 Rated: PG
aaaay! Finally, an Australian film that had me laughing more than cringing! The Extra is a funny romantic romp with the loveable Jimeoin starring as…well, he doesn’t have a name in the film. Extras never do. The premise is simple. Normal dude wants to be a movie star. Movie stars are rich, get all the chicks and go to great parties. Unfortunately, because of an outstanding lack of talent, all he can manage is a few roles as an extra. Viewers travel along with Jimeoin in all of his wide-eyed innocence as he meets jaded child stars, pompous lead actors and money sharks in pursuit of his dream. It’s the same old crew Jimeoin always surrounds himself with, but when you’ve got a great cast, why mess with it? Jimeoin has the simple bloke routine down pat. His sunny optimism makes him a loser one cares about. But it’s not just about the star: there’s also a great supporting cast to back up The Extra. Rhys Muldoon nearly steals the show as Curtis Thai-Buckworth, a former child star who’s now a ‘writer-slash-director’: his desperation is palpable. Katherine Slattery is luminous as Jimeoin’s love interest. Forget Julia Roberts – Katherine has the best smile in the biz. Bob Franklin is up to his usual standard as the underworld gangster with a brain. Kristy Hinze is beautiful but vacant. And Shaun Micallef is at his arrogant best as Detective Ridley, a cop with his own TV show who wants to be an actor. Seriously, just to see the flare with which he his flicks open his police badge is almost worth the price of admission alone. The Extra is fun, it is well made, and it shows there’s still a faint pulse in the Australian film industry yet.
’m not racist, but…’: That’s the sentiment which best sums up this gripping emotional drama about just how horribly people can treat each other. It also shows a side of Los Angeles that’s not in any tourist brochure. In Crash there are a number of stories that intertwine (think Magnolia), each one more spiteful than the next. First there’s the carjacking: Larenz Tate and rapper Ludacris are totally believable as carjackers who think they are modern-day Robin Hoods because they only steal from rich white folks. Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock are pitchperfect as the white-bread middle-class carjacking victims. Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito are exceptional as the police officers investigating the crime. Next, you love to hate Matt Dillon as a racist cop who molests a black woman (Thandie Newton), putting rookie cop Ryan Phillippe in an emotional and ethical dilemma. But for me the most powerful storyline concerns a Persian immigrant (Shaun Toub) who is trying to run a small shop and Michael Pena, who plays an unlucky locksmith who finds himself the target of years of repressed anger, frustration and despair. This pairing leads to one of the most powerful scenes I’ve seen on a movie screen in a long time. Written and directed by Paul Haggis (who adapted Million Dollar Baby), Crash could have been an unwieldy mess. But he’s a maestro who crams tension into each scene and brilliantly juxtaposes and links the stories until they build into the kind of crescendo that leaves you struggling for breath. Crash is emotional and thought provoking. I left the cinema promising to be a nicer person.
Shelly Horton can be seen on the Today show, Prime, Tuesdays at 9.40am NZ time 94, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
HALLELUJAH! Jimeoin sees the light and makes a film worth watching
Birth Released: April 28, 2005 Rated: M
orget what you may have heard. Anyone who claims Birth promotes incest or paedophilia has missed the whole point. Nicole Kidman’s latest film is a powerful story about loss, love and grief. There has been so much hype surrounding Birth that the actual story has been lost in the furor. Nicole Kidman was booed at the Cannes Film Festival because in the film her character has a bath with 10-year-old boy who says he’s a reincarnation of her dead husband. Later she kisses him. And I’m not talking a motherly peck. I know ewww! But somehow it works. Let me explain why. Birth is all about reincarnation. Anna (Nicole Kidman) lost her husband, Sean, to a heart attack a decade ago. Imagine the shock when ten-year-old Sean (Cameron Bright) waltzes into her life and claims to be a reincarnation of her dead love. Anna’s family, headed up by matriarch Eleanor (Lauren Bacall), treats the boy and the idea of reincarnation with the right amount of contempt and jaded realism you’d expect rational folk to display. But here’s the creepy thing: young Sean knows all sorts of facts that only the husband Sean could have known.
There’s a stand-out scene where Anna is at the opera and the camera stays on her face for a full three minutes – a long, long time in movieland. As the music soars, emotions play across her face, and we realise at the same moment she does: she actually believes him. Now I’m certainly not a card-carrying member of the “Our Nicole” fan club. I think she’s generally over-rated and definitely too skinny. And I certainly don’t think she deserved an Oscar for donning a fake nose in The Hours. That said, this is one of her finest performances yet. In Birth, she isn’t trying to be a movie star, she is doing what she does best – character acting. Kidman throws herself headlong into Anna’s mind, which is one faulty unit. Watching her you yearn for the intense all-consuming love Anna felt for her husband. I think it helped that she lost her signature red locks and, with a nod to Rosemary’s Baby, goes for a dark Mia Farrow-esque pixie cut. Cameron Bright is actually ten years old. His performance as Sean is measured and wise beyond his years. He plays an adult in a child’s body so well you start thinking…well…maybe…he is a reincarnation. Lauren Bacall is powerful as always. The music is superb. The cinematography is classy. Did I like the film? No. It gave me the willies. I rushed home from the cinema to scrub myself under a hot shower. But the story sticks in your head for weeks and not many films do that these days. May 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, 95
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA PG, medium-level violence, 141 minutes In the words of the old Coke ad, it’s the real thing. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s cathedralistic rock-opera soundtrack finally meets a celluloid version that loses nothing in the translation from stage to screen. So often, movies based on musicals plummet like the chandelier in this one, because directors fail to appreciate that what works on stage with a captive audience won’t necessarily work at home, in an armchair on a small screen. Thankfully, director Joel Schumacher compensates for this with a massive, lavish production Lloyd Webber could be proud of. The DVD version opens on an aerial view of old Paris, similar in style and set to the opening of Baz Luhrman’s equally lush Moulin Rouge. In fact, leaving aside Luhrman’s own frenetic directing style, the two movies are strikingly similar in their subdued yet intense colour tones and effects. This is not a movie with an all star cast. Apart from Minnie Driver stepping outside her comfort zone in an all-singing opera role as the Italian prima donna Carlotta, the leads in Phantom are not household names, and the movie is all the better for it; the story and the music carry the day, as they should. For those who are only dimly acquainted with the plot, a disfigured musical genius (Gerard Butler, Lara 96, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, May 2005
Croft: Tomb Raider) haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, resurfacing from his self-imposed exile when he hears the voice and sees the beauty of young chorus girl Christine (Emmy Rossum, The Day After Tomorrow). Engineering the downfall of the Opera’s leading lady Carlotta (Driver) in order to thrust Christine into stardom, the Phantom engages in a fatal tangle with Christine’s would-be suitor Raoul (Patrick Wilson). Enjoy the top class performances, reflected in three Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe nominations, including Best Actress and Best Picture. The stage show has played in more than 100 cities and 17 countries worldwide with a box office take of $3.2 billion and counting. If you’re buying the woman in your life a huge Plasma TV or an ICE AV projection screen for Mothers Day – as you do – wrap a copy of Phantom up with it and you won’t go wrong. Special Features: The Opera Ghost; A Phantom Unmasked; and feature commentary with film historian Scott MacQueen. Ian Wishart
LEMONY SNICKET PG, some scenes may scare very young children, 108 minutes Blending grand, impressionistic sets with high-energy – and highly imaginative – adventure, the movie challenges the traditional definition of “family film.” It’s rated PG, but this story about a greedy madman trying to kill three orphans so he can get his hands on their family fortune stands in stark contrast to the sugary feel-good fodder that typically represents the genre. Jim Carrey plays the devious would-be murderer with over-the-top villainy. It’s a role that allows him to assume multiple personas – including a demented spinoff of Popeye – a task he attacks with glee. Helping mitigate the fear factor is the movie’s smartalecky attitude. Jude Law, providing voice-over narration, sounds like a stand-up comic firing off wisecracks. Another anti-macabre aspect is the elaborate production design. Every element is exaggerated, from the tape player in Uncle Olaf ’s car – a reel-to-reel device mounted on the dashboard – to the home owned by Meryl Streep, which defies gravity by clinging to the side of a cliff. Not only are the sets amazing visually, but their makebelieve flamboyance makes everything seem less real. Jeff Strickler