NEW DISCOVERY ON JFK ASSASSINATION
INVESTIGATE Rex Haig case
Captured on candid camera
NZ Immigrants End of the West
10 years in jail for a crime he did not commit:
Lebanon: Red Cross Hoax
The new evidence in the Rex Haig case
How the West was lost:
“If Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican vicar in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an ‘Arms are for Hugging’ sticker...”
RED CROSS HOAX – dirty PR tricks in Lebanon AUSTRALIA’S OTHER WILDLIFE HUNTER – Ben Cropp
$7.95 October 2006
Peter Davis & a mystery man
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Volume 6, Issue 69, October 2006
Three people dead. A man jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. IAN WISHART has the new evidence in the Rex Haig case
WHY I CAME HERE...
HOW THE WEST WAS LOST
Four immigrants explain what drew them to New Zealand, what they can offer, and what they believe. RACHEL ROBINSON has more
In Japan, the birth rate is so low that electronics companies are making robots to keep people company, and in Europe, seventeen countries will cease to exist inside our lifetimes thanks to aging populations without children. At the going down of the sun, asks MARK STEYN, will we remember them?
RED CROSS HOAX
It was one of the news stories that broke Israel’s resolve to keep pursuing Hezbollah: an alleged Israeli airstrike on civilian Red Cross ambulances. It caused world uproar and provoked protest marches here in New Zealand, but now there’s new evidence that the story was a hoax, swallowed hook, line and sinker by western TV reporters
Also on the cover this month: THE PETER DAVIS MYSTERY 6 THE GRASSY KNOLL – scientists find new evidence in JFK assassination 64 AUSTRALIA’S OTHER WILDLIFE HUNTER – Michael Morrissey talks to shark diver Ben Cropp 78
EDITORIAL AND OPINION Volume 6, issue 69, ISSN 1175-1290
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft NZ EDITION Advertising
Colin Gestro/Affinity Ads
Contributing Writers: Ross Ewing, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Lidia Wasowicz, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Design & Layout
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Editorial The vocal majority Women pulling the plug Laura Wilson on school zoning Mark Steyn visits Auckland Airport Richard Prosser on water rights Chris Carter catches a cereal offender Conversions at gunpoint
Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic
Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302188, North Harbour North Shore 0751, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor James Morrow Customer Services Debbie Marcroft, Sandra Flannery Tel: +61 2 9389 7608 Tel: +61 2 9369 1091 Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983 Investigate Magazine PO Box 602, Bondi Junction Sydney, NSW 1355, AUSTRALIA SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: www.investigatemagazine.com By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 New Zealand 09 373 3676 By Post: To the respective PO Boxes Current Special Prices: Save 25% NZ Edition: $72 Australian Edition: A$72 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax.
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MONEY EDUCATION SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY SPORT HEALTH ALT.HEALTH TRAVEL FOOD PAGES MUSIC MOVIES DVDs TOYBOX 15 MINUTES
Investing in property More on the NCEA The JFK assassination The return of the turntable The new glamour sport Back pain Are lawn chemicals harming you? New Orleans, post-Katrina; Ben Cropp Ravioli Michael Morrissey’s spring books Chris Philpott’s CD reviews World Trade Centre Match Point, Star Wars, Inside Man Sound & Vision Asia
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EDITORIAL Pay it back, Helen
here is an arrogance that sets into first term governments elected on landslides, a belief that they’re invincible and that they have a public mandate for everything they do. When I worked as press secretary for third-ranked Labour cabinet minister Mike Moore in 1986, the rot already had the Beehive well and truly covered. Not so much with Mike, who would turn up to work at 7am and often not leave until 1am, and who was more of an ideas guy than a political Machiavelli – but certainly with his colleagues. Back then, Helen Clark was just an ambitious back-bencher who’d been given some select committee responsibilities to shut her up. But she was scheming, as were a number in the Labour party, already planning for “Labour was warned, weeks life after Lange, counting before the election, that its pledge the numbers, figuring out had to be sucked up to card spending was out of bounds who in order to get ahead. and would need to be included in Second term landslide governments take the arrothe party spend” gance to a whole new level. By midway through their second term they’re generally totally cynical about the political process and its perks – backbenchers start to play up, sensing that if they don’t get promotions now they never will. It is during second terms that dodgy deals start to surface, although the government of the day generally tries to keep up appearances of honour in the vain hope of surviving through the next election. Third term governments hit the wall, almost without fail. By the time they’ve won a third term, they’re generally out of fresh ideas and fresh talent, the economy is usually starting to weaken, and only the most naïve of optimists within the party dares to believe they can get a fourth term in office. Third termers know the game’s up. They know they’re dead men walking, and that whatever else they want to accomplish they have to do it now and damn the consequences. As a second term prime minister facing oblivion at the last election, Helen Clark knew she had to shoot first and worry about inconvenient questions later, if she wanted any chance of becoming the first Labour leader to go three terms in power. That’s why she bought the election. Labour knew, Labour was warned, weeks before the election, that its pledge card spending was out of bounds
, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
and would need to be included in the party spend. At that point, Labour still could have reined in its other spending to stay within the legal limits. But it chose not to. Instead, Labour spent like there was no tomorrow, gambling all or nothing on the election night result. National MPs are calling it “corruption”, and on top of everything else this current administration has done – including criminal acts – one would be hard-pressed to come up with a better definition. New Zealanders believe in fair play. They may not believe it in parliament, but out in the community there’s still a sense of the need for a level playing field. Because the alternative is simply too horrendous to contemplate: a continuing slide into more and more serious political corruption until anything, including political favours, is for sale to the highest bidder. Kiwis have cut the Clark administration an incredible amount of slack over the years, but there’s a real sense this time that Labour’s deep belief that the electorate is too stupid to know and too bored to care has taken the government one bridge too far. The sleeping dog has awakened, with polls showing 81% want Helen to “pay it back”. The total amount owing is probably somewhere near $800,000 – money owed to New Zealand taxpayers by cynical Labour politicians. National and the Maori Party have already paid back what they overspent. Labour, in a fit of petulance, is threatening to dish dirt on the private lives of National MPs if they don’t back off demanding financial accountability from Labour. Meanwhile, Investigate continues to probe the Peter Davis case. As part of that ongoing investigation, the photo adjacent shows the Prime Minister’s husband with a man wearing a blue suit on election night. Investigate is keen to know the identity of the man in the blue suit, and details of any other social contacts of either Davis or Clark. Information can be posted to the magazine’s PO Box or emailed to our international office: australia@ investigatemagazine.com
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006,
COMMUNIQUES WRONG MAGAZINE, BUT WE SYMPATHISE
Metro’s featured article on “The Best Schools in Auckland” last month did not appear to provide the fair and accurate list that it promised. For starters, most of the points made were based on incorrect information. A large percentage of the statistics used in the study, and their interpretations, were simply wrong. One part of the article alleges that only 60-65% of students from Auckland Grammar who apply to universities are accepted. I asked the Headmaster about this, and he informed me that the correct overall figure is actually between 86% and 88%; among Cambridge students, the figure is around 95%. I also learned that Gilbert Wong never bothered to check with Grammar to ensure that his figures were right. A major part of the ranking system was based on a formula that divided a school’s total NCEA scores by the total number of students in a given form level, producing an average score. However, this formula did not account for the fact that in some schools, up to 60% of students don’t take NCEA; they instead take higher level exams such as Cambridge. As a result, the total scores were divided by numbers up to 2.5 times as large as they should have been. Cambridge schools consequently suffered a substantial negative skew on their ratings. Another interesting note is that 14 of the “Top 25” schools were either private or integrated. Unlike state schools, these have the benefit of choosing which students may attend, and if students fail to meet the required standard, they may be removed from the school. Of course, state schools do not have this option, creating a disadvantage for them when academic achievement is assessed. The methods of interpreting statistics used to carry out this “research” make me question whether or not Mr. Wong has any credentials or experience in the fields of education or data analysis. The issue at hand is not whether Auckland Grammar or Westlake Boys’ High are good schools, or whether St. Cuthbert’s deserves its place at the top of the list. The point is that any publicized study regarding a topic as sensitive as education should be based on well-researched facts instead of some questionable statistics and hastily developed formulas which were never double-checked for accuracy or efficacy. Every parent wants meaningful advice on where they should send their children, but
, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
none deserve to be mislead on such an important subject. Unfortunately, this article is even more misleading than the marketing schemes that it criticizes. Spencer Schwacke, Form 5 Student, Auckland Boys’ Grammar School
PAY IT BACK, HELEN
What a sad spectacle it is to see this government so bereft of all feelings of accountability that they now claim ignorance as their latest excuse for illegally spending taxpayers’ money on their electoral campaign. We all know that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, unless it seems, one is of sufficiently high rank in the employ of the taxpayer. Why should we be surprised? The person that leads this pack is the same who has already successfully dodged prosecution for crimes that would see the rest of us bailed in court, and who has even managed, when seated in speeding motor vehicles, not to notice the offences which other people are racking up, heroically, as she named it, on her behalf. Our nations lowest point below sea level must at this moment be the underside of the Labour Party’s collective belly. Peter Tashkoff, Auckland
THE NEW STATE PRAYER
I am writing to say a wise soul once said that when people abandon belief in God they don’t believe in nothing – they’ll believe in anything. In the light of the banning of prayer in schools I have the following modest secular alternative proposal. Our Mother, Who is in parliament; Helen is your name; May Labour reign, while others wane, and the Socialist Credo be done. Give us this day our daily benefit, so that hard work is not rewarded; And lead us not into speeding, unless we have a police officer at the wheel to blame; Protect us from the pain of parental discipline, so that we may violently express ourselves on our fellow pupils and teachers,
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006,
For yours is the judiciary, the police force and the tax take Until the UN beckons, Amen. Steven Dromgool, Auckland WISHART RESPONDS:
You could try it in King James English: “Our Mother, whose art in parliament”. But then, it wasn’t her art at all.
When the missionaries came to this country, many Maori chiefs readily accepted the new message. There may have been many reasons why they did so, but one was their realization that this new mode of thinking might prevent the self-destruction of the Maori race, that was inevitable if the continual inter-tribal wars continued with the additional killing power of the musket. Indeed the race did survive, and the acceptance of Christianity played a great part in this. Yet today, our present atheist government, through their Education Ministry wanted to ban the saying of The Lord’s Prayer, and other Christian observance from state schools. However, pagan prayers [said in Maori] were to be permitted. This government-driven return to paganism would surely cause Tamati Waka Nene and the other chiefs to turn in their graves. Will the caging, fattening, killing, and eating of enemies come to be permitted also? John Mills, Waikato WISHART RESPONDS:
Judging by Parliament lately, possibly only within the confines of the Ninth Floor and its immediate environs.
WE WELCOME THE FATWA…
Thanks be to God someone in New Zealand media is willing to speak out and expose the truth behind Hizbollah, Hamas and Islam’s extremists. This nation needs to know more about Iran’s President. Here is just one disturbing quote from the man – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Speaking on the virtues of suicide bombing, “Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity.” Iran is governed by Shiite Muslim clerics committed to a stern interpretation of Islamic law. Hatred of the United States has been a key component of Iranian foreign policy since the 1978 Islamic revolution. Iran’s distaste for the U.S. is surpassed only by their utter loathing of Israel. Iran’s political and religious leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s complete destruction. As you point out, the last anti Jewish fascist was Adolf Hitler and how many millions of Jews did he murder! I am ashamed that fellow Aucklanders protested in Queen against Israel, a democratic nation-state with the right to defend its borders from the threat of terrorist, militant groups who seek to destroy this people and claim their land. Wake up New Zealand and smell the coffee. Our government needs to adopt a foreign policy which supports Israel and stop appeasing Islamofascism (as you succinctly put it.) What bothers me is if the world sits by, watches and does nothing, history will repeat itself. I’m sick of the anti U.S. sen-
10, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
timent stirring up. At least the U.S. has the balls to stand up against dictators and I’m glad they did or else how many more millions would have died in World War II. Kate Cassin, Auckland
BUT CRIMINALS ARE VICTIMS TOO…
I find it most illuminating that those who so vehemently oppose the use of the Taser by police are the same people who would be the last to defend the victims of crime. Lawyer Marie Dyhrberg’s stock-in-trade is defending recidivist criminals; Green Party MP Keith Locke defends the civil liberties of those who seek to infringe upon the civil liberties of law abiding citizens; and Maori Party MP Hone Harewira has already “fessed up” to theft as a servant (via “koha”). If the police can’t first defend themselves, then they won’t be able to defend me and my family. Hooray for the Taser, and Hooray for the police who place themselves in danger, so that I and mine can sleep a little easier at nights. Steve Taylor, Auckland
REVENGE OF THE NERDS
Having read your recent article on Telecom unbundling, I’d like to know why those scumsucking cockroaches at Xtra insist on insulting the general public by pretending to post a network status report on the Xtra home site. Every time a coconut, whenever Xtra is playing up, which is most weeks, the big corporation continues to post “no problems” on its status page, presumably so that new customers won’t get frightened away. If you ring the help desk, they’ll blithely look at the same website and tell me “there are no problems”, before burying me in a queue and forgetting about me. These guys would put the band on the deck of the Titanic to shame. They’d keep singing happy songs and even selling connections to Xtra whilst their headquarters burnt down around their ears. Every time I see one of the Xtra-ordinaries on TV, I realize that this state of affairs is what happens when geeks play with buttons. I can post messages to and from my Gmail account to other people no problem – received instantly. But try and send anything to an Xtra email address and you’re better off dialing 111 and ordering a taxi. I had emails coming through the other day 18 hours after they were first sent. Good on ya, Telecom! C Jensen, Christchurch
CIVIL HANDS UNCLEAN
The author of Civil Hands Unclean is well known to all in civil aviation in New Zealand. It is therefore a pity that he did not take the time to speak to the Aviation Industry Association. I am always available to speak to Dr Ewing or for that matter any one else in the Investigate team regarding our industry. Openness and transparency are a hallmark of the safety culture of civil aviation and it is a pity that Dr Ewing does not practice what he so eloquently preaches. If he did, civil aviation would be much the better for it. Irene King, CEO, Aviation Industry Association, Wellington
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The NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) would like to offer the author of “Civil Hands Unclean” (Investigate, September) the opportunity to learn about working conditions for NZ topdressing pilots directly from those professional pilots who have spent a lifetime in the industry. We promise that the message Dr Ewing will get will not qualify for a sensational headline. At NZAAA, we realise that this was most likely why we were not approached to verify the facts in the first place. Pity. Ken Mackenzie, Chairman, New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association
DISSECTING HUMAN BABIES
The Bioethics Council online discussion regarding Human Embryos for Research is now officially open. The Council’s discussion booklet entitled “The Cultural, Ethical and Spiritual aspects of using Human Embryos for Research” was launched on 24 July and has created significant interest from a wide range of enquirers. The document has now been followed by the opening of a web-based discussion forum on the Council’s website, http://www.bioethics.org.nz/dialogue/ forum/index.html Interest has been running high, with over 5,000 hits per day in the first week after the discussion document was launched. We are hoping that a wide range of people will now go online and share their thoughts and opinions and ask questions.” The web-based discussion on human embryos will run from 15 August to 30 September 2006 and on 25 September, exbroadcaster Linda Clark is to chair a seminar entitled “Talking Embryos” in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre. Later in the year, the government Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ACART) will be advising the Minister of Health on using human embryos for research. Members of the public are encouraged to join the e-discussion on the Bioethics Council website (www.bioethics.org.nz), and later to make a written submission to ACART (www.newhealth.govt.nz/acart) Chappie Te Kani, Bioethics Council
For all the moments we’ve shared
THE SMACKING DEBATE
I am writing to say I have read the various comments of CEO Peter Hughes where he defends CYFS’ stand in the Timaru ‘horsewhip’ case. I have also read the detailed reply from the woman in question to Mr Hughes assertions. It seems obvious to me that Mr Hughes has fabricated a litany of lies and inaccuracies, and this coming from the CEO of CYFS is shocking, putting a question over his fitness to be CEO of CYFS! It is no wonder that so many in New Zealand do not trust CYFS with the care of our children. Kerry Sharp, Palmerston North
DROP US A LINE Letters to the editor can be posted to: PO Box 302188, North Harbour, North Shore 0751, or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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MIRANDA DEVINE Women pulling the plug…
hen 42-year-old mother of two Helen Kirwan-Taylor wrote a newspaper article recently saying she finds motherhood boring, she became the most vilified woman in Britain. “Sorry, but my children bore me to death” was the title of her article in the Daily Mail in which she confessed to hating reading bedtime stories and spending two hours texting her girlfriends while watching a movie with her children. Readers condemned her as a selfish princess who shouldn’t be allowed to have children. But her confession also broke a taboo around the modern female’s dissatisfaction with family life. Whether it is offloading the kids to day care or filling “Some discussion at the forum their hours with structured mothers may be revolved around a six-year US activities, losing the art of enjoying study of 65 married couples that their children. But to William Doherty, found the secret to a lasting a professor of family social marriage was a husband who did science at the University what his wife says” of Minnesota, KirwanTaylor’s crie de coeur may have been part of a healthy backlash against “excessive child-centredness”. Doherty, who’s been in Sydney this past month to speak at the National Christian Family Conference, is the marriage therapist who coined the term “overscheduled kids” to describe the phenomenon of children whose parents make them the centre of the universe. But at a forum on marriage here he explored the more fundamental problem of modern families – marriage breakdown. It is not so much female unhappiness with motherhood that is causing problems for children, but the increasing willingness of mothers to walk out on marriage. As the latest Bureau of Statistics figures show, more than ever it is women who are the ones filing for divorce. The shift of power in marriages over the past 40 years has led to a stampede of women leaving the institution. How to put the genie back in the bottle without reversing female emancipation was the question hovering in the background at the forum. Doherty says the first “divorce generation” of young
14, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
people, now in their 20s and 30s, “still aspires to marriage, across all income levels”. We live in such an “atomised world” where wider community social connections and extended families are disappearing so there is more hunger than ever for the intimate institution of marriage. Certainly, a rise in marriage rates here and in the US, and corresponding dip in divorce rates, would suggest marriage is coming back into vogue. Anne Hollonds, the chief executive of Relationships Australia, says she perceives a real desire by people to form a “solid, sustainable relationship”. There has been a 50 per cent increase in inquiries about her pre-marriage education courses this year. “These are younger people in first-time marriages, who are highly educated and value education as a means to ensure success in later life.” Others at the forum discussed the idea of pre-marriage education at school, focusing on how to nurture friendships, an art that may be lost to generations with iPods connected to their ears. Researcher Barry Maley, whose Taking Children Seriously project for the Centre for Independent Studies has been the best of its kind in Australia to state the case for marriage, says family law is fundamental to the strength of the institution. He advocates re-introducing the concept of fault, in some form, into divorce. “The most egregious conduct by one of the spouses is completely ignored at the moment. The justice of taking it into account is unarguable … A victim of misconduct in marriage would have the possibility of a settlement that mitigates that loss of investment.” Some discussion at the forum revolved around a sixyear US study of 65 married couples that found the secret to a lasting marriage was a husband who did what his wife says. While the idea of advocating husbands become doormats is doomed to fail, clearly tension in marriage has emerged as power has shifted from men to women. Doherty gave the example of a post on an online chat site, thenest.com, in which a mother complained that her husband had smacked their toddler. She did not believe in physical punishment for children and reprimanded her husband, saying if he did not change his behaviour she would kick him out of the house. Of 19 mothers who responded, only one was not supportive. But what made her think she had the sole right to throw the husband out? Her attitude, said Doherty, was as if “she were hiring
Photography: Sara Hammarbäck
a babysitter who did something you did not agree with”. Doherty is most concerned about the ever widening “marriage gap”, in that highly educated, high-income people are sustaining lifelong marriages with involved fathers, leading to the emergence of a two-tier society – the marriage haves and have-nots. Lowly educated, low-income women are “apt to try serial relationships with multiple fathers – the kinds of complex family forms which would tax people who had more interpersonal competence than most of us have”. He believes the social change required to reinvigorate marriage could take cues from other grass roots movements such as the push against drunk driving or domestic violence. But it is vital
that in a secular society, religious groups aren’t seen to hijack the conversation. Best, says Doherty, to base the “marriage movement” on common language of research which shows that children raised in an intact marriage do better in general on all scales than those who aren’t. A new generation burnt by the experience of their parents’ failures, yet longing for love because of it, are on the threshold of embracing marriage or rejecting it. This makes more urgent the task of “selling” the institution as the foremost protector of children and ultimately the best vehicle for human fulfillment, even if reading bedtime stories gets tedious at times.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 15
LAURA WILSON First, we need to tame them…
oning is a concept designed to make access to state schools egalitarian, rather than merit or income based. Prior to zoning schools were able to interview prospective students and deny them entry if their grades weren’t up to scratch, or perhaps for more insidious reasons such as their culture, sporting ability, attitude etc. High profile schools were in this way able to maintain their reputation by screening out students who might tarnish a healthy academic record. Nowadays location ensures access, which in itself is a form of screening based on the affordability of houses within the zone. Yet being forced to take all in-zone enrolments has not dented the reputation or academic success of schools like Auckland Grammar “I left the school after one year, and Rangitoto College. formula for success tail between my legs. But I Their is clearly not based on left a changed person, with an being able to hand-pick understanding of education I could their students. Alan Peachey, fornever have gained from limiting my mer Head of Rangitoto perspective to easier schools” College, believes zoning is an attempt to smokescreen the failings of a multitude of ineffective high schools by denying parents the right to choose the best school for their child even if it means bussing them to the other side of a city. Forcing kids to go to the local school regardless of its merits ensures that even bad schools get a cross-section of student abilities and types. If parents and students were able to handpick the school of their choice, poorly-run schools would be exposed like sand-banks in a receding tide, left high and dry with falling rolls. Schools like Grammar would be able to forge ahead at even greater speed thanks to having attracted all the bright young moths to their flame. Peachey is disgusted that poorly performing schools are allowed to get away with low levels of student achievement year after year, because he believes that a well run school full of passionate, excellent teachers should be able to wring high achievement out of students from any kind of background, culture or economic group. I wish it were possible to test his theory by taking him and his handpicked bunch of passionate staff from decile nine schools, and transplanting them directly into a large
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decile 1 school, then standing back to watch them work their magic on the student raw-material. I have taught in schools at both ends of the decile spectrum, starting my career in a decile eight school comprising 96% pakeha children from middle to upper income families. In this environment I was a brilliant teacher, so appreciated by students and parents that I considered myself a ‘natural’. Off I went in later years to conquer a decile 2 school with 86% Maori children of lower income and beneficiary families. I swathed in full of the passion, skill and dedication described by Peachey, determined to turn around the lives of my underachieving students by believing in them, raising the goalposts and going for excellence. By the end of that first year it took all my courage each morning to simply enter my classroom. My educators-ego had been deflated and I had gained enormous respect for fellow teachers who managed to make progress in a situation that felt more like war than education. I left the school after one year, tail between my legs. I simply did not want to cope with such difficult circumstances. But I left a changed person, with an understanding of education I could never have gained from limiting my perspective to easier schools. The criticisms of Peachey, blaming poor academic achievement on lacklustre staff could not be further from the truth. Lacklustre staff exist in the same proportions in any profession, but to my surprise I found that the tougher the school, the greater the presence of firebrand educators, full of passion and zeal. Quite simply, these qualities are needed in abundance to merely survive in our toughest schools. I can only imagine that Peachey is used to dealing with students who come from homes where they are expected and encouraged to do well at school. Such students actually endure quite a number of less than brilliant teachers, but tend to do well anyway because their supportive greater environment assists them through. I would love to see Peachey succeed in an environment where school is regarded the enemy. Where parents see the system as Pakeha imperialism and bolster their children to not take any **** from white teachers. Where attendance is scratchy due to anything from hangovers, to missing the bus because the student (13 year old girl) didn’t finish milking the herd on time, to embarrassment
because Dad threw the student’s schoolbooks in the fire in a fit of rage. I would love to see him wring high achievement out of classes of sleep-deprived, nutritionally depleted, sexually active minors whose lunchtime discussion covers whom among them got ‘the Bash’ last night. For a lot of these kids, success at school is something that becomes possible only once they have successfully navigated their way safely through a scary world of many untrustworthy adults, strange messages about sexuality and drugs, and feeling disadvantaged by the colour of their skin. In such schools, a successful teacher often looks very different from their counterpart in a Rangitoto College. They look and behave more like a parent than a teacher, for the primary need of their charges is love and trust. Only once these are established in the adult-child relationship can academic development gain a foothold. To earn the love and trust of a group of very confused, aggressive and disenfranchised teenagers takes an unusual set of skills not taught in Teachers College, but rather gained through exhaustive effort and genuine compassion.
For such teachers, academic achievement is a goal they can focus upon only once a basic level of socialization has been achieved. For zealous, ‘natural’ teachers such as myself, achieving acceptable behaviour in the classroom and establishing bonds of mutual respect was something unachievable in a year of trying. So I bowed out, hoping someone stronger and more experienced would fill my shoes. Auckland Grammar and Rangitoto College have not been undermined by zoning any more than low decile schools have been artificially bolstered by it. Most schools that do poorly are operating in areas more like ghettoes than we care to acknowledge. The primary attribute of ghetto-ised youth is rebellion, the sad irony being they rebel against the very institution that aims to provide a ladder out of victimhood. One thing I learnt from my teaching failure was that being part of New Zealand’s white, educated majority does not give me insight into the reasons for lower achievement amongst browner, poorer minorities. Put simply, they have a whole different experience of life in New Zealand than the likes of me and Peachey.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 17
MARK STEYN The war on terror in NZ…
was at the airport in Auckland the other day and mooching around the Duty Free shop. My little girl likes snow globes, so I picked out one showing some charming New Zealand sheep. No snow, technically, but when you shook it little stars sparkled around the ovine cuties. The Kiwi sales clerk swiped my credit card, wrapped it up, and then said, “Oh, wait. Are you flying to America?” I should have known. She consulted her list of prohibited items and informed me that, in an expansive definition worthy of the Massachusetts Supreme Court constitutional-right-to-same-sex-marriage ruling, the twinkly fluid inside the snow globe had been deemed to count as a “liquid”. In theory, I could smash the incredibly thick glass, replace the “The British Airports Authority has sparkly stuff with somenow banned lipstick, mascara and thing more incendiary, reglaze it in the airport men’s all other cosmetics, so, even if you room with help from cofly First Class, by the time you get conspirators among the networks of antipoff you’ll look like coach” shadowy odean jihadist glaziers, and board the plane to explosive effect. When I scoffed at this thesis, the lady said somewhat petulantly, “Well, it’s not my fault you’re going to America.” Which is hard to argue with. If I’d wanted to fly a souvenir snow globe to Yemen, Saudi Arabia or Belgium, there’d have been no problem. I could breeze through the metal detector with a pair of snow globes in each hand shaking them like Carmen Miranda. The jihad may never achieve global domination over the Great Satan, but it has already achieved snow global domination. At Australian airports, they’ve evidently figured out that these heightened security procedures will be with us for a while, so they’ve reconfigured the area around the detector – a row of tables with small baskets for keys and coins, a separate row of tables with bigger baskets for unloading laptops from cases, plenty of space on the other side for reassembling oneself and one’s possessions. Works very smoothly. None of that when I landed from Auckland at Los Angeles. Five years after 9/11, the line shuffles forward into the kind of chaotic shambles that would pass muster had the procedures been introduced 48 hours ago. Surly security staff yell at passengers – “BACK BEHIND THE LINE! NOW!” – and yell
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at each other – “I NEED A MALE AND A FEMALE INSPECTION! NOW!” – and bins back up on the belt and wheezing geriatrics tip forward trying to re-shoe themselves in mid-hop. In the later stages of the IRA’s long campaign against the British government, they didn’t even have to bother bombing anything. They simply had to get a man with an Irish accent to place a phone call using the agreed code words to the appropriate authorities or media outlets. Upon receipt of such a message, London’s police would shut down Tube lines and bus routes and the city would grind to a halt and millions of pounds would be lost to the economy. That’s a lot of bucks for no bang. Just a tenpenny phone call. The jihad pulled off something similar at Heathrow. It was reported that MI-5 and Scotland Yard had “foiled” the plot, but millions of people will now be inconvenienced and discomforted at airports and on flights around the world, in perpetuity. With setbacks like that, who needs victories? Next time round, they’ll foil some entirely different scheme – explosive suppositories, dirty-nuke hip replacements – and another avalanche of pitiful constraints will fall upon the hapless traveler. The British Airports Authority has now banned lipstick, mascara and all other cosmetics, so, even if you fly First Class, by the time you get off you’ll look like coach. Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport in England has banned passengers from boarding with “gel-filled bras”. People have been demanding for years now that we need to start profiling. Well, they’re profiling in Birmingham: they’re profiling women with padded bras, which is one great profile; their highly trained staff can spot gals who really stand out. I know I feel safer knowing that unusually curvaceous women are being subject to extra security screening. So gel-filled bras are out, and presumably in another year or two we’ll be preventing gel-filled breasts from boarding. This is where we came in five years ago. The airline cabin was already the most regulated jurisdiction in America – a kind of way-up-there-in-the-blue state where Ted Kennedy and Al Gore’s fondest desires on gun control, smoking and indeed free speech had all been implemented. So on September 11th three out of the four planes followed all the 1970s hijack procedures and everybody died. On the fourth, free-born citizens reclaimed their rights, fought back against the terrorists
and provided the only good news of the day. Half a decade on, the regulatory regime is even more coercive. No plastic knives, no tweezers, and, long after Richard Reid has died of old age in prison, we’ll still be removing our footwear in eternal homage to the thwarted shoebomber. The arithmetic is very simple: Can we regulate for all faster than they can adapt for some? Three of the plotters arrested in Britain turned out to be converts – or, as Islam calls them, “reverts” – part of an ever growing legion of new recruits to Islam. The jihad evidently took the view that, the US government’s protestations notwithstanding, surely not even the decadent Americans would really be so foolish as to assume the Swedish grandmother was as high-risk as the young Saudi male. So they shifted their efforts to
recruiting men of non-Arab appearance with non-Muslim names – and, judging from recent arrests from Toronto to London to Perth, they’ve had some success. Absent a determination to wage war on the ideology, the question is whether we can adapt as nimbly as they do. In the time it took to reverse the credit card transaction at that Auckland airport shop, it would have been possible to establish that I am not a terrorist. Nor are you, nor 95 per cent of passengers. But we choose not to, preferring to shuffle through the detector, sans shoes, sans gel-filled bras, sans penile piercings, and one day sans everything, cursed for eternity to react defensively to every innovation. Our enemies think they hold the world in their hands, and I can’t even hold a snow globe in mine. © Mark Steyn, 2006
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 19
RICHARD PROSSER Water of life
y bore pump died the other week. Urban dwellers may not appreciate the significance of this; but for those of us who live in the boonies, the simple matter of water coming out of the taps without a second thought, isn’t something which can be taken for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I live in the country by choice, and I embrace the relative privations thereof. The very fact that I have a source of pure, cold, crystal clear water, just ten feet from my back door, is more than enough compensation for not being able to walk to the shops. And the fact that it’s unfiltered, un-fluoridated, un-chlorinated, and all mine, to my way of thinking is far better than paying a thousand bucks “More and more, this essential of extra a year in rates, for the life, this basic human right, is falling privilege of living in town, where the water is metered, under the ownership and control of a treated, and tastes like every small number of ever-growing trans- one of the seven sets of kidthrough which it has national companies” neys passed, on the way back to the council bore field or reservoir. All of which is well and good, until the pump dies. Fortunately, I also have a well (into which the bore pump delivers) capable of holding a week or so’s worth of water, from which the house supply feeds, through a separate pressure system with a second pump. (Townies may also not appreciate that we hicks from the sticks can discuss our water supplies in infinite detail, for hours on end; it’s a bit like the fascination city folk have with rubbish collections or parking problems or gridlock, all of which is Greek to us.) The pump company guys did a sterling job, I give them real credit for that. They came out straight after the weekend, looked at the old pump, marvelled that such a museum piece could still have been operating, quoted some figures from NASA as to how much it would cost to repair, and went away again. Over the next few days, in between helping out a couple of my neighbours who happened to be in direr straits, they brought in a crane to remove the old piston pump and case pipe, blew out the bore casing with compressed air, and dropped a submersible loan pump down the hole so we could refill the well. The sludge they blew out from forty feet down prob-
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ably had enough gold dust in it to pay for a new pump; I may yet dig up, sieve, and pan the lawn where it landed. After all, the Earnscleugh does sit on an as-yet-un-mined goldfield, and the old tailings, from the 1800s, are only a few kilometres away. The upshot is that we now have a brand-spanking new submersible pump, and a flow test which tells us that there is a whole lot more water in our bore than the old piston pump was ever capable of extracting. So the silver lining is that my good lady wife can have a proper garden this year, and a real lawn as well, even in the summer when it’s 40 degrees and the town is on water rationing. The one thing I’m really not looking forward to is the bill….but the whole process did get me to thinking. We do tend to use water with little in the way of afterthought, even those of us who have pumps and wells lurking at the backs of our minds; like air, money, and sex, water only becomes important when we’re not getting any. Farmers are probably the exception to this rule, their very lifestyle and livelihood being dependent on irrigation and stock water, their daily routine dedicated to ensuring that the supply continues. In a previous life, I worked for a small company building drum pumps. They were based on an adaptation of a design created by a classic Kiwi inventor; an eccentric expat Brit, former serviceman, Post Office technician, and largely self-taught engineer, his pumps were intended to provide low-cost, low maintenance, well water for remote African villages. They defied many of the known laws of hydrodynamics, but they worked anyway. His test tower, simulating a deep well installation, was built into a treehouse, atop a large oak tree overhanging a high bank on his hillside section in Thames. It had a plastic 44-gallon drum at the bottom, connected via a garden hose to a bucket at the top, and ran off an old washing machine motor. The data and results produced by this Heath Robinson contraption and its unorthodox creator (Jones the Pump, as he was known locally) outscored many obtained by some of the world’s leading pump testing facilities, from whom he received much correspondence, and the occasional incredulous visit. But I digress. The point is that most of the world does not share our abundance of clean fresh water. While we launder, bathe, flush, irrigate our crops and frolic in our
swimming pools, with little regard to the continuity of supply of the liquid gold which allows this, all too many of our fellow humans must travel long distances, carry water pots on their heads, make do with muddy tepid water holes, or haul buckets by hand from rusty, aging wells – unless they happen to be amongst the lucky few to have been supplied with a shiny new white PVC bore lifter, crafted by a grey-haired, likeable, odd-ball pioneer from far away New Zealand. Plentiful clean water, probably more than any other advantage, has facilitated the development of our affluent and progressive Western societies. Livestock, crops, food production, industry, hygiene; all depend on fresh water, and nowadays, lots of it. And therein lies the danger. We have something which is of value, and which others most certainly want. The circling vultures are twofold. The world’s supply of fresh water is limited, and demands upon it are growing all the time. Earth’s human population has doubled these past thirty years, from around three billion to more than six billion. Livestock numbers have increased exponentially, at the same time that forest lands have been cleared to make way both for grazing and for human habitation – forests which used to provide both a transpiration source, and a filter, for the very fresh water upon which those same people and their animals depend. New industries, irrigation, and growing domestic demand, all impact on what is becoming a critically short and threatened resource. Within our lifetimes, it is entirely possible that human conflict may arise from the need to secure access to this most vital of commodities, just as past wars have raged over everything from spices and opium, to land, minerals, and that other liquid gold, oil. Once-unorthodox solutions to the global fresh water crisis have found new validity in recent times; twentyfive years ago at least, by this writer’s recollection, more than one wealthy Arab state enquired about purchasing shiploads of fresh water from this country. British water companies have suggested towing icebergs south from the Arctic, and melting them to provide drinking water for the cities of Western Europe. It is those very water companies who constitute the second, more insidious, and perhaps most dangerous of the two vultures. As with oil, gas, electricity, telecommunications, and a raft of other tangibles, the Corporate world has recognised the need and demand for water, and more importantly, the profit to be made from it. More and more, this essential of life, this basic human right, is falling under the ownership and control of a small number of ever-growing trans-national companies. Rates paid for metered water in the cities and towns of the developed world are finding their way back, not to the communities and local authorities who required and built the water reticulation infrastructures, but into the coffers of the water companies to whom the maintenance and operation of such networks is contracted. If ever there was a perfect example of the pure evil of profit before people, of inhuman global corporate greed, allowed by the ineptitude, incompetence, corruption, and blind adherence to flawed dogma of Governments, it may be found in the privatisation of water. Only this week as I write, a retired Texas oil baron has been in the news, projecting to earn, over the next thirty years, at least a billion dollars from his $75 million investment in US water companies. All credit to this man, whose name I have never heard before and don’t pretend to remember, for turning a good old-
“Once-unorthodox solutions to the global fresh water crisis have found new validity in recent times; twenty-five years ago at least, by this writer’s recollection, more than one wealthy Arab state enquired about purchasing shiploads of fresh water from this country. British water companies have suggested towing icebergs south from the Arctic, and melting them to provide drinking water for the cities of Western Europe. It is those very water companies who constitute the second, more insidious, and perhaps most dangerous of the two vultures”
fashioned capitalist profit; what rankles is the unspoken reality that along with his water companies and contracts, he has purchased the right to shut off the supply of water – life itself – to those who don’t, or can’t manage, to pay the fees. In New Zealand, we have an ironclad promise from Government (yeah, right) ensuring that ownership of water resources – if not the distribution of same – will remain forever vested in the public. Call me cynical if you will, but I have no doubt whatsoever that some future regime will seek to sell off this lifeblood of the nation just as they have done with all but the knives and forks of the family silver; I am equally sure that they will try to find a way to tax me on the stuff I pump up from under my back lawn. A wise man once said, many years ago, that there would come a time when a bottle of water would cost more than a bottle of wine. As is common with many visionaries, everyone thought he was mad, and predictably, history now appears to be lining up to prove him right. By that early reckoning, a barrel of water is also well on the way to becoming more expensive than a barrel of oil, and perhaps a great deal harder to obtain. A litre of bottled water will already cost you twice as much as a litre of petrol, with both, somewhat ironically, purchased from the same service station. So what can we do about it? As always, the answer lies at the ballot box. We must elect Governments who will provide for the adequate defence of our nation, so that others will not simply come and take our water; Governments who will enact laws to protect our basic human needs, and our rights to the essentials of life, against the machinations of corporate avarice. And we must be ever vigilant, because given half a chance, they’ll be charging us for fresh air and sunshine as well. In the meantime, so long as my new pump keeps running, I’ll be alright – but I do worry about everyone else.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 21
CHRIS CARTER A cereal offender?
ome many years ago, long before this ancient profession was more or less usurped by the Traffic Division of the NZ Police, there lurked about on various London heaths a collection of desperadoes who rejoiced in the collective description...Highwaymen. Beholden to none, the general modus operandi was to simply stick a horse pistol into the face of a passing member of the public with a view to relieving them of any valuables or money that they may have upon their person. A simple system for self enrichment, with, perhaps the only downside being that were you to be caught practicing this felonious activity then there was a distinct chance of one being hung, drawn and quartered; a particularly painful “Machiavelli would have been price to be paid by those proud to see the manner in which who had decided that robbery was a much easier way the true power brokers were now to get money rather than by able to run amok with the City’s actually working for it. Nevertheless times have cheque book” undoubtedly changed and in particular the manner in which the modern highwayman now conducts these nefarious activities. Having learned from history the undoubted perils associated from working alone, the modern highwayman has evolved into becoming a leading light in the community network that essentially is charged with the gathering of monies, to be supposedly and eventually spent to the communities betterment, i.e., roading, sewers, rubbish collection and the other similar activities once thought to be the main function of a town or city council. Fortunately, it now appears that we, more modern victims of the stand and deliver method of lightening our purses, have become much more aware of this updated version – highly sophisticated though it may well be, that nevertheless is little different in fact, to the more direct approach practiced by, say, the infamous Dick Turpin. Indeed, it is now thought that the expression “I have been Dicked” originated from the written complaints of victims of the horse pistol method of money collection, an expression now finding new currency amongst shattered ratepayers in New Zealand’s largest city, who interestingly enough just happen to currently have in office a mayor named Dick, or rather to use his more favoured
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nomenclature, Dick Hubbard, (His Worship of course). Now, at the risk of incurring the ire of those of you who currently are reeling from the extortionate rate demands being made by councils north and south of the fair City of Auckland, I would simply like to use as an example of a form of cynical extortion and – yes – out and out robbery currently being practiced in Auckland, that in a more or less similar fashion has become commonplace throughout the country. Dick Hubbard was elected by those few Auckland citizens who chose to vote...not so much as a reaction to personal charisma or indeed a circulated vision as to what this man stood for or intended to do, but rather to simply get rid of the previous incumbent, a certain John Banks, ex National Cabinet Minister and one given to actually doing things. A dangerous man indeed, Mr Banks, who, well known for rarking up the Council’s ultra comfortable civil servants, worse, was plainly a very active asp at the bosom of the socialist dominated machine that long had been making the wasting of ratepayers’ money a positive art form. So, after the usual left wing campaign of denigration was unloaded on the hapless Banks, along came the Cereal King, Dick Hubbard, a nice man, given incidentally, as an example of that niceness, to the frequent inclusion of personal “good news” little homilies in his packets of cornflakes and rice bubbles. Now here was a man that the leader of the Red Flag appreciation society Dr Bruce Hucker just knew he could control and eventually dominate, our Bruce having forgotten more about party political machinations and psychological manipulation than dear old Dick could ever learn if he indeed lived to be a hundred. With very skillful tactics Hucker predictably obtained the position of Deputy Mayor, whereupon in short order he and his cohorts effectively marginalised the new Mayor Dick Hubbard to the point where this honest sort of a bloke simply remained famous for the stuff you poured the milk over at breakfast time rather than for being the leader of NZ’s largest city. Nevertheless, Machiavelli would have been proud to see the manner in which the true power brokers were now able to run amok with the City’s cheque book, in the full knowledge that when the penny finally dropped as to what they had been up to, then guess who it was that they would be getting to carry the can. Recently, in fact just a few weeks back, an obviously bemused
and visibly upset Dick Hubbard, at his own expense no less, placed some extremely expensive full page ads that in essence said that the just-received and astronomically extortionate rates demands that had local ratepayers seriously considering jumping off the Harbour Bridge, were in fact necessary because Dick had had a vision. This may well have been true, but whether this had come about as a result of a recent trip to Lourdes or maybe someone doctoring his tea at a recent Council meeting we have yet to discover. But without a doubt Hubbard, transparently honest as he is, apparently has no idea at all that he has been well and truly stitched up to play the part of the fall guy, or if you prefer, Highwayman, towards whom the public should ascribe all blame for these appalling increases, when in fact he is probably entirely innocent. Which brings me to an opinion as to what is really going on in our land currently plagued with rampant over taxation and drunken sailor-like spending on the part of the over staffed and socialist dominated local bodies, now pretty well spread throughout the whole country. Dr Michael Cullen, the acknowledged expert in the taxational art of robbing the population blind, in fact has, nationwide, a fifth column of socialist acolytes who, with extreme political nous have managed to end up dominating parish pump politics. This has greased the path for the good Doctor of Taxation to pass over all manner of previous Central Government functions and charges to his eager fellow travelers currently mis-managing local body politics, who, then, in their turn, are able to simply hoist up the Rates (or local Taxes!) to accommodate the ever avaricious need of their master, to have the extra funds available to buy the votes necessary to win the next election. Think about it! We’ve all watched it going down, a nibble here and a nibble there, the transferring of central government charges etc to the local bodies. Nothing of course so blatant at any one time to wake up one of our semi comatose political journalists, who in the main in any case tend to be somewhat transparent as to their political leanings at the best of times! A very clever scheme indeed, although whilst here in Auckland the good citizens are now almost universally convinced that they have been well and truly “Dicked” the truth of the matter is that once again, along with everyone else, we all, in fact, have been yet again thoroughly Michael-ed by that master of debate and effortless pocket picking, the urbane and extremely clever Minister of Finance Dr Cullen. One has to have a grudging respect for the sheer animal cunning of the Clark Government, if for no other reason than that when Nicholas Machiavelli originally wrote the book on political chicanery, not only have his tactics been well absorbed and acted upon, this crew of fiscal bandits have added enough extra chapters to require several tons of newsprint to properly record in a new edition! However it can be said that there is an overall pattern in the current political double dealing that we are now so frequently exposed to. The shifting of blame to otherwise innocent people or organisations is currently very popular as we have all seen on so many occasions. The establishment, by political appointment of officials, bound by their political affiliations to turn a blind eye, at the very least, to the various “issues” that always seem to magically slide off the Teflon coated political “inquiry” skillet, are therefore allowing this Government to “move on” as our Prime Minister so often now seems to offer
“But without a doubt Hubbard, transparently honest as he is, apparently has no idea at all that he has been well and truly stitched up to play the part of the fall guy, or if you prefer, Highwayman, towards whom the public should ascribe all blame for these appalling increases, when in fact he is probably entirely innocent” forth as a verbal footnote to some soft verdict of an otherwise clear political outrage. But there you go; why are our rates going through the ceiling? Pretty simple really when you take a look at the evidence andreach about the only possible conclusion. Maybe some of you have some other explanation that I have yet to think of, especially, if you happen to be more conversant with current socialist spin, in which case I suppose it’s all a matter of considering a new perception of what we once used to call the truth, which I must grant you is now considered by many to be a somewhat outdated concept. To me, at least, the term stand and deliver, and the devious and cynical application of excessive taxation, will always remain synonymous. 89789 Stressless INVESTIGATE Mar06
Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 23
Olaf Wiig’s dilemma: ‘convert to Islam or we’ll kill you’
he devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you’, he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me’. “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’.” When kiwi TV cameraman Olaf Wiig and Fox News reporter Steve Centanni were released last month, they revealed they’d been forced to convert to Islam on videotape, at the point of a gun. Both men made it clear the conversion meant nothing – it had been done under duress – but that they did it to save their lives. At first glance it seems like a smart move, and for them it probably was. They, after all, are “In the West, we like to think we alive. But their willingness profess allegiance to a are more advanced in our thinking, to false religion at gunpoint but the rest of the world just has set off discussion on perceives us as foolish and weak” blogsites all over the internet, and raised once again the memory of 18 year old Columbine High School student Cassie Bernal, who took a bullet to the head rather than deny her belief in Christ. She wasn’t the only one – the gunmen targeted several other Christian students as well. For Wiig and Centanni, the gesture may have had no spiritual depth: if neither man were Christian, then their spiritual fate is the same regardless of how they responded to the Muslim challenge. But on another level it does, as one US blogger pointed out: “To a lot of Mohammadans, it does count. At the least, it demonstrates to them that many Westerners do not have the courage of their convictions, and they have a video to prove it. I prefer the example of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, who when he was about to be shot by his captors in Iraq, pulled off his hood and tried to stand up, shouting ‘Now I’ll show you how an Italian dies!’ Al Jazeera refused to show this video because it was ‘too gruesome’. Right.” In the modern West, being prepared to die for one’s beliefs is considered passé – “so last millennium, dahhling!”, for a range of reasons. The biggest of these however is probably that because we are rapidly losing any meaningful religious faith, why would we die for it? And on a related tangent: when you no longer believe in a meaningful afterlife, then preserving one’s existing life becomes the supreme goal of existence.
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This, of course, is a defining point of difference between the West and Islam and, for that matter, between the West and its Christian foundations. In Islamic eyes, if the West will no longer fight for the freedom to believe in Christ, then Westerners certainly won’t die in a ditch for lesser issues like gay marriage, pornography or democracy. Islam means ‘submission’, and if Islam can make Westerners kneel then the battle is already won. In the Bible, and indeed throughout history, people have valued Christianity so highly that they would willingly be torn apart by lions rather than renounce one minute portion of their faith. Yet in the West this is no longer the case. Don’t get me wrong – there are still Christian martyrs. Just not in the West. In Asia and in Africa, around 400 people a day (roughly one every three minutes) are executed for refusing to convert to Islam or renounce their belief in the risen Christ. In Indonesia, Christian schoolgirls have been beheaded by Muslim mobs for precisely that reason. What is it that allows Asians and Africans to put their lives on the line where Westerners won’t? In the West, we like to think we are more advanced in our thinking, but the rest of the world just perceives us as foolish and weak, as a civilization that no longer has the courage to fight for its beliefs and cultural values. Appeasement of terror, for the sake of keeping the peace, has traditionally only ever been a short term option, and usually a very flawed one. It didn’t work in the lead-up to World War 2, where Hitler became so convinced the Brits and Americans were pushovers that he launched the Holocaust and caused the deaths of 50 million people. Nor did it work a couple of years ago when al Qa’ida blew up the Madrid train network. The terrorists promised not to strike Spain again if voters threw out the conservative government at the forthcoming election, and instead withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq. The Europeans, gutless wonders that they are, chose appeasement and pulled out their troops. Three weeks later, despite meeting al Qa’ida’s demands, Spaniards were shocked to discover the terrorists were plotting to blow up a primary school, and carry out further attacks on public transport. There was a machinegun shootout between the terrorists and police, and a building was blown up. Making a deal with the devil is a losing bet, every single time. “For what benefiteth a man, that he gaineth his life yet loseth his soul?” Indeed.
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STOLEN The Rex Haig story
The Court of Appeal has just quashed the murder conviction of one of New Zealand’s most well-known prison inmates. IAN WISHART has full details of new evidence in the Rex Haig case
magine spending ten years of your life locked up for a crime you didn’t commit. Behind bars with rapists, killers and paedophiles, plucked from your home and family – helpless screams of impotent rage ringing through your head every night at the sheer injustice of it all, as you watch your youth, and your life, ebbing away from you like the waters of a river that will never return. Think of Tom Hanks in Castaway, without the tropical holiday aspect, and you might get just a little bit closer to the emotional rollercoaster former millionaire and fishing boat skipper Rex Haig has been on since 1994. Less than a month ago, the Court of Appeal made the shock announcement it was quashing Rex Haig’s conviction for allegedly murdering crewman Mark Roderique on a dark night in the rough waters off the South Island’s west coast. In legal terms, this wasn’t a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – it’s more akin to opening the stable door long after the horse has already been released. Haig, you see, was paroled two years ago. But he’s not bitter. Instead, he wants police to be forced to re-open their investigations into two more mysterious deaths – one a confirmed murder and the other an alleged traffic fatality – both involving key witnesses in the original murder trial. In an exclusive and lengthy interview with Investigate, Haig spells out the events leading up to his arrest, the murder of his chief witness, and the new leads in the case. It’s a prosecution, he claims, that resulted from a botched MAF investigation into paua poaching. “It was mostly vindictiveness. [Private investigator] Bryan [Rowe] hasn’t really focused on the paua case, but it was a big thing in Invercargill. The actual thing, as you’ll see when all this is uncovered, is it was a set-up. A police informant tried to set me up to flog some pauas and it became a gigantic, massive big investigation. They scrambled a frigate from Devonport to race down to Bluff! That’s how overboard they went. They
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had three SAS snipers with the Special Tactics Group from Wellington, at Ruapuke, ready to fire a thousand million bullets at us. There was no proof that we had any firearms with us, yet we had the Army, the Navy and the police after us. When they did this big bust at Bluff on the paua thing in May 1994, the front page of the Southland Times had the police admitting they had 200 fisheries officers and police in Bluff. “What had been suggested to me, by this guy who was the police informant, he said he’d been flogging pauas, half a tonne at a time, and selling them in Christchurch. He said we could go to Ruapuke, which I’d dived around before. It’s off limits, you’re not allowed to take pauas from there, there’s about a thousand tonne of pauas around it, and it’s maybe 11km from Bluff. We were looking at taking a few tonne of pauas on my boat, to go to Asia. But it was only spoken of, and about three weeks after I met this clown I just flagged it away and didn’t do any more about it. But they made out it was some huge international smuggling ring. “There was about 12 of us involved. When we were dragged into court we were sitting in the jury box, there were that many of us, at depositions. It was laughable, a bloody fiasco, and it cost them between seven and ten million dollars [to prosecute].” But for Haig in mid 1994, things were about to get worse. Already being heralded by police, MAF and naval commanders as the ultimate paua pirate, the last thing Haig needed was for Invercargill man Tom Roderique to walk into a police station in early June to report his son Mark Roderique missing. Mark, a former nightclub bouncer, had last been seen crewing on Rex Haig’s fishing trawler Antares in February that year. The MAF fisheries investigation was being headed by Geoff Clark, a former police officer from Invercargill. Now, some of Clark’s former buddies at the city police station, Senior Sergeant Brian Hewett and Sergeant Dave Evans, found themselves not just assisting in the MAF inquiry, but investigating Rex Haig’s role in the disappearance of one of his trawler crew. And it’s clear there’s no love lost between Haig and his pursuers:
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“It was such a ferocious attack by those three idiot cops in Invercargill,” he exclaims. “The triangle with the cops in Invercargill was this: Brian Hewett is the cop in charge of it. His sister’s married to Geoff Clark, who was the ex-CIB detective at MAF in charge of the paua fiasco. The other cop that was helping Hewett, Dave Evans – his best mate is Geoff Clark, who was the guy at MAF. Do you see the triangle? And they all holiday together, barbecue together, work together.” Haig believes police took the view, “ ‘we’re going to get that bastard Haig if there’s anything gone on here’, so they went on attack on me right from the first day.” So what did the police know about Mark Roderique’s disappearance before they decided to arrest Haig? Police files released to Investigate make intriguing reading.
n July 31st 1994, former traffic officer David Barr – an acquaintance of Hogan’s through Barr’s son – rang Invercargill police after seeing the Roderique disappearance featured on the TV programme Crimewatch. Barr told police in a statement that “[Hogan] said there had been a fight on the Antares and that a person had been shot and thrown over the side, wrapped with the anchor. His exact words were to the best of my knowledge after the fight, ‘I blew the c*** away, and then just threw him over with the anchor so he won’t come up’. [Hogan] said he was ‘fishbait’. “He then said that the police had hassled him about the guy that had gone missing…he said he might get charged as an accessory after the fact. He said he almost ‘f****d up’ when he was being interviewed about the boat matter.” Barr says Hogan later became suspicious that someone had ratted on him, and came up to Barr with a threat: “He told me to make sure I kept my mouth shut as he had put a $50,000 contract on me.” Hogan was only 18. Barr shrugged and told him to get lost. But one of the reasons Barr decided to ring police after the Crimewatch programme was because another mutual acquaintance of Hogan’s – a young man named Anton Sherlock – was at Barr’s house when the programme aired. He told Barr he had information about the case, and Barr mentioned this to detectives as well. However, it wasn’t until September 14, six weeks after the Crimewatch programme, that Detective Sergeant Brian Hewett got around to taking a statement from Anton Sherlock. “I have known David Hogan for about two years. Earlier this year when David Hogan was staying with David Barr…I was talking to him one night, we had had a joint and were just talking. There was just the two of us. “He said, ‘Do you want to know something?’ He said he killed someone. “I said, ‘Where?’ “He said, ‘At sea’. “He said he shot him but the way he was talking I think they beat him first. He said the guy went over the side. He didn’t say why he did it. The way he was talking he wasn’t the only guy who did it. He said he would kill me if I said anything. “There had been nothing mentioned at that time about a missing fisherman. This would have been around February or March this year.”
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That was the first statement of Anton Sherlock to the police. Again, further corroboration that Hogan was boasting of having murdered Mark Roderique. On August 19, 1994, a senior fisheries officer investigating the paua case visited Stephen McBrien and Apoua Fuatavai at their Invercargill home, but instead of paua, he ended up discussing the Roderique disappearance: “McBrien stated he wished to provide some more information and while over a cup of coffee he told me that someone (whom he would not name) … had told him that ‘David Hogan had apparently told his father, Neil Hogan, that they had shot Mark Roderique aboard the Antares’. “McBrien and Fuatavai stated they had something further they wanted to tell me about a visit they recalled they made down to the Antares in Bluff between Xmas 1993 and mid-January 1994, prior to Mark’s last trip away up the coast. “Fuatavai recalled she was very pregnant at the time accompanying McBrien…arriving at the Antares berth alongside the Island Harbour, quite late at night. Mark was the only one still aboard, remaining behind with the fish. Both McBrien and Fuatavai went aboard with Roderique who showed them around. “Apoua Fuatavai stated, ‘Mark was really proud of his job aboard the Antares, showing us over it as if it was his second home, sort of thing’. While they were in the wheelhouse area … Mark produced a handgun described by both McBrien and Fuatavai as a ‘cowboy colt 44 pistol’ type handgun with white handpiece and silver barrel, describing its size as being in excess of 30cm in length. “McBrien stated, ‘I didn’t look at it too hard as I don’t like guns’. Fuatavai stated, ‘Mark played with it in his hands, twirling it like a cowboy. I told him to put it away as it made me feel uncomfortable’.” Further in the same interview, after the officer asked about whether their suspicions had grown when Mark never returned from his February fishing trip, the pair confirmed that another Antares crewman, Tony Sewell, had given them three different versions of events. Firstly, he told them that Roderique had jumped ship at Haast in favour of another job on a boat heading
up to Fiji. On a second occasion he varied the story slightly, and on the third he admitted there had been trouble on the boat: “The third story Sewell has come out with mentions Mark Roderique and David Hogan not seeing eye to eye. Sewell had told them that Mark had been baited all day over Maori fishing rights, with Mark taking the side of the Maori argument, being part Maori himself. Sewell said they had gone up to the Haast hotel for their first drinks for some time while in Jackson’s Bay, with the bantering resulting in a fight back aboard the Antares in the galley, between Mark Roderique and David Hogan, with Mark pulling a knife on David Hogan.”
he fisheries officer concludes his report by saying he proceeded “directly to the Invercargill police station, speaking with Detective Sergeant Brian Hewett, recounting the various matters raised in my interview.” F ascinating stuff, especially in regard to the Colt 44 which – as you’re about to see, the police failed to latch onto for years because they didn’t ask the right questions. You’ll recall David Barr’s testimony that he phoned police and spoke to Brian
Hewett after seeing Roderique’s disappearance mentioned on Crimewatch in July 1994. Barr told police Hogan had boasted about shooting Roderique with a gun, but surprisingly, Hewett didn’t ask him what kind of gun. That detail didn’t emerge until Barr filed an affidavit in 1999 where he said this: “When I made my statements to the police telling them what David Hogan had told me about killing Mark Roderique, I did not tell the police details supplied to me by Hogan about the type of gun he had used, and I was not questioned about that aspect by the police. “What David Hogan actually told me about the gun was that it was a pearl-handled Colt [Investigate’s emphasis]. I asked Hogan if the gun was for sale and he said ‘No’ and that the gun had been thrown over the side of the boat. Hogan also told me that he had two rounds of ammunition left for the gun.” The police could have had that information in July 1994, three weeks before interviewing Apoua Fuatavai about the Colt 44 with a white handle she’d seen on the boat. Would detectives have been so quick to assume that Rex Haig was really the killer, had they asked the right questions? Haig believes police wanted him regardless. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 29
“They weren’t looking for the truth, they couldn’t give a s**t about Mark Roderique in my view.” It seems police just didn’t ask enough questions of David Barr either – the man who first tipped them off about Hogan using a Colt 44 to shoot Roderique. In a 1999 affidavit obtained by former top cop turned private eye – Bryan Rowe – Barr elaborates on the relationship between David Hogan and Anton Sherlock. “Hogan had a real problem with Anton Sherlock because he felt that Anton Sherlock had narked on him. Hogan threatened Anton Sherlock one night in my house and I had to pull Hogan off Anton and tell him to bugger off. Hogan accused Sherlock of being a ‘nark’ and that he was going to get him. “He attacked Sherlock, had him up against a sink in the kitchen, and was punching into him. We had to pull Hogan off Sherlock. That happened a few weeks before Sherlock was killed.” Ah yes, the second murder in this twisted murder mystery. By this time, early 1995, police had already arrested Rex Haig and charged him with murder despite all the witnesses pointing to Hogan.
ogan, sensing the heat, had voluntarily shown up at a police station in late September 1994 and offered to turn Queen’s Evidence against Haig, in return for immunity from prosecution and the $20,000 reward being offered on Crimewatch. As a Crown Solicitor’s letter provided to Investigate shows: “As to inducements, I understand that the witness Hogan was offered and has now accepted protection under the witness protection scheme. The matter of the reward of $20,000 which was mentioned in the Crimewatch programme has also been discussed with him, as has the possibility of immunity from prosecution.” The Crown Solicitor added a telling line: “While I appreciate that immunities are given reluctantly, in this instance, without the evidence of the two witnesses, it would not be possible to prosecute the accused Haig for murder.” This was, of course, the same Rex Haig the police had called in a naval warship against, and who’d been involved in a major row with police, MAF and the crown law office over the paua charges (later thrown out in court). The question that arises, is whether the crown allowed its feelings about Rex Haig to cloud its judgment in firstly one murder investigation, and then another. Both police witnesses, Hogan and Sewell, had admitted being accessories after the fact to the murder of Roderique. For all police really knew, their two star witnesses may in fact have been the real primary killers, seizing a chance to not only get immunity but to get paid thousands of dollars, if the agreed to testify against Rex Haig. But there was still the inconvenient issue of witnesses like Anton Sherlock, who’d told police before they arrested Haig that Hogan had in fact confessed to the killing. Unlike Hogan, Sherlock wasn’t paid to say it, and nor was Barr. But somehow news of Sherlock’s ‘narking’ made it onto the walls of a prison cell in Invercargill. Sherlock, you see, was Rex Haig’s prime defence witness. Sherlock was prepared to stand up in court and testify that Hogan, not Haig, had confessed to murdering fisherman Mark Roderique on the Antares by shooting him and dumping his body overboard. Sherlock was one of the keys to Haig’s freedom, and if Haig went free there was
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a chance police would look to pin the murder on Hogan (the immunity was void if Hogan was discovered to have lied about his real role in the killing). But if Rex Haig thought Sherlock would be his get out of jail free card, his hopes were about to be dashed. Just days before Haig’s depositions hearing on the murder charge, key defence witness Anton Sherlock disappeared. His body was later found in the Lumsden river, weighed down by rocks. Haig, at the time, was in custody, and here was his main witness murdered – the second murder in a grisly chain of events. To Haig it seemed obvious: Sherlock had been killed to prevent him from testifying against Hogan. But Hogan was, by now, on the police witness protection programme and living in Greymouth, doing some periodic detention. Ostensibly, according to detective Brian Hewett, it was impossible for Hogan to have been involved in any way with the murder of Anton Sherlock. Instead, police attention very quickly centred on local Invercargill man Nigel Johnstone – one of the last to see Sherlock alive, on the morning of March 25. His de facto wife at the time, Julie Duggan, explains what happened in her affidavit: “The police interviewed myself and Nigel Johnstone on various occasions about Anton Sherlock. The Police wanted me to tell them everything I knew. They questioned me about the movements of Anton Sherlock and Nigel Johnstone. On one occasion, Sergeant Ian Johnston started punching the desk and telling me that he knew Nigel Johnstone murdered Anton Sherlock. I didn’t think that had happened, and I didn’t even think that Anton Sherlock was dead. I thought he was still alive. “I remember another occasion a different police officer came to my house and I told him quite a few things about Greg Iverson, and they just disregarded what I told them. They didn’t even write it down. They didn’t want to know about Greg Iverson. They told me he had an alibi. All they wanted to know about was Nigel Johnstone.” Just as police seemed not to want to hear about Hogan’s complicity in the Roderique murder, now the boys in blue were being accused of turning a blind eye during their investigation into the murder of Rex Haig’s star witness. So who was Iverson, and what was his role in all this? Iverson, also known as Greg Butterfield, was a small time hood and drug dealer in Invercargill who has signed an affidavit saying “I did not know Anton Sherlock”. Let’s put that theory to the test: Witness Kimberley Sluce told Christchurch police (where she’d since moved), “I knew Anton Sherlock…I went out with him a few times…some of his friends were Nigel Johnstone [and] Greg Iverson. It wasn’t until after Anton was found that we found out who had done it and what had gone on. Tim and Kenny [also friends] said that it wasn’t Nigel, because at that stage Nigel had already been arrested, and that it was Greg Iverson. David Hamilton approached Greg to ask if it was true or not and Greg admitted it to Dave but warned him not to open his mouth. I was standing right behind him when that was said…he told Davey that he had killed Anton and that Davey wasn’t to tell anyone else. He didn’t say anything about where he had buried the body.” The Invercargill police evidently didn’t ask any hard questions of Iverson, because he simply denied knowing Kimberly
Sluce. Christchurch police went back to pressure Kimberley and obtain a second statement, where she says: “I have been warned numerous times by Detective Constable Reid of the need to tell the truth and the offences committed by lying in a statement, especially with regard to such a serious matter as murder. I understand all this and want to repeat that what I have previously said is the truth.” The Christchurch police believed her, and noted on their file: “[Spoke] to Detective John Whiting of Papanui police who initially interviewed Sluce over this matter. After speaking with him I was confident in my own mind that Sluce was telling the truth as there appeared no motive for her to lie regarding these matters. Detective Whiting expressed similar views.” Strike one against Iverson, but miraculously he was never charged with Sherlock’s murder. Then there’s the evidence of Julie Duggan, the then-partner of Nigel Johnstone, who police had swiftly arrested and charged with Sherlock’s murder. “At the time Nigel was arrested I was about 4 and a half months pregnant. I later gave birth to a baby boy.” She told police that Nigel frequently purchased marijuana from Iverson, and that Iverson and Sherlock often came around to the house. On the day Sherlock was killed, she remembered seeing him drive off with Johnstone on a trip up to Lumsden. When she caught up with Nigel later in the day, there was no sign of Sherlock even though his Ford Fairmont car was sitting in the driveway. “I asked Nigel Johnstone where he was going and he told me that he was going to Greg Iverson’s house. He didn’t say why but he seemed to be in a real hurry and didn’t seem to want to talk to me.”
t transpired that Johnstone and Sherlock had picked up Iverson that morning – as prearranged – and driven up to Lumsden ostensibly to raid someone else’s cannabis plot. What happened next was, during the murder trial of Johnstone, largely a matter of conjecture. Johnstone had denied the charge but didn’t testify in his own defence, and didn’t nark on Iverson. The reason for that didn’t become clear until two years later, when he filed a new affidavit about how Anton Sherlock was killed, and the threats that followed. While he was on remand, waiting trial, Johnstone says he heard Iverson’s voice yelling “Nigel” from the street outside the prison cell he was in. “Bloody keep your mouth shut,” Iverson allegedly said, “Remember you are in there and your family is out here.” The noise was loud enough to attract the attention of prison guards, who noted it down themselves. A short time later, Julie Duggan’s home was broken into, as was her parents house. Johnstone remains convinced Iverson was reminding them of his threat. Iverson had also been seen by Julie Duggan and one of her girlfriends, putting his hands around Johnstone’s throat at their house and threatening him to stay quiet and take the rap, prior to his arrest. As to Sherlock’s murder, Johnstone explained that when the three men arrived at the site of the cannabis plot near Lumsden, Iverson asked Sherlock to come with him while Johnstone was sent in a different direction in the search for plants. “I had only been looking for two or three minutes when I heard a voice shout ‘Aargh!’. My first thought was that one of them had either fallen in the river or come across a trap.”
Johnstone retraced his steps in the direction of the scream. “When I was about halfway down I saw Greg standing and Anton lying on his back down under the trees. I carried on down and as I approached I could see Anton more clearly on his back and Greg was holding a large branch or piece of wood. “As I approached I could see redness on Anton’s face and as I got closer I could see that the bony features of his face were out of shape. I said, ‘What the hell happened?’, and then, ‘What did he do to deserve this, Greg?’. “Greg said, ‘Dirty, nigger nark’. I looked at Anton again. There was blood coming from his ears and nose. He was not moving. His head was on an angle. There was no noise coming from him but there was blood pouring from his mouth.” Johnstone says he ‘freaked out’ and ran, but returned at Iverson’s insistence. However, after helping gather some heavy rocks, he refused to further help Iverson dump the body of his good friend in the river, and told him it was “his doings”. So now, at least, there appears to be extremely strong evidence that Greg Iverson, aka Butterfield, is the real murderer of Rex Haig’s star witness, Anton Sherlock. But what was the motive? According to Haig, Iverson was put up to it by Hogan. Iverson has admitted in an affidavit that he knew Sherlock was a witness in the Haig case. He denies knowing Hogan but, again, other witnesses – like former traffic cop David Barr – strongly dispute his denials: “I know a person named Greg Iverson. I got to know him when I was living in Invercargill. I know that he was friendly with David Hogan and used to get around together with Hogan and a group of other male persons about the same age. It was David Hogan that told me that he was involved in criminal activities with Greg Iverson and others.” And Julie Duggan, now married and under a different name, filed a new affidavit in May this year for the Court of Appeal hearing where she recalled Iverson mentioning Hogan’s name on one of the occasions that he threatened Nigel Johnstone at their house, in the days leading up to Johnstone’s arrest in April 1995. It was some of this new evidence that convinced the Court to vacate Rex Haig’s conviction – there are now too many fresh questions about both the Roderique murder and the Sherlock killing, not to mention the Invercargill police investigations into them. Today, free from jail and his conviction quashed, Rex Haig says he’s not looking for revenge, but he does want the Sherlock murder investigation re-opened, both for Johnstone’s sake and to bring who he believes are the real murderers, David Hogan and Greg Iverson, to justice. “Who will take responsibility if either of these two psychos kill again?” poses Haig. The other player in the Roderique murder, Tony Sewell, died in a motorcycle crash which Haig claims has also never been properly investigated. Three deaths, and a huge mystery remains. Rex Haig is now trying to rebuild his life, and says he was lucky enough to be looked after in jail. But he says there are other innocent inmates, and New Zealand needs an independent legal agency capable of investigating complex cases and determining whether justice has truly been done. Until then, he doesn’t intend to rest. For a full transcript of the Rex Haig interview with Investigate, see our blogsite, www.thebriefingroom.com
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NEW VOICES NZ’s new migrants, and why they came here
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T Photography: corey Blackburn
We often see immigrants in stereotypes: the Muslim refugee plotting world domination, or an African spreading HIV deliberately. But as RACHEL ROBINSON discovers, the real story is usually one of people willing, and wanting, to become New Zealanders
he Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill is an intriguing study in contrasts. One of the city’s migrant hotspots, at any given hour different hues of skin and styles of clothing can be seen, making it a fascinating place to people-watch. The black and silver fronds on an All Blacks flag curl in the wind overhead as Muslim schoolboys walk down to the local mosque. Two women walk down the street, one blonde in business clothes, the other dark and draped in a sari. Different colours, cultures, religions – and yet, neighbours and friends. Strolling the suburbs you get the feeling you could be almost anyone anywhere in the world. One of the popular drawcards of this diverse neighbourhood is Apna Bazzar, a food market specialising in Middle Eastern and Indian foods. Run by Pakistani brothers-in-law Intikhab Ahmad and Nasir Manzoor, the Bazaar’s authentic food products provide a way for migrants to keep in touch with their culture and have also found favour with many Kiwis. The range is wide and a little overwhelming for the untrained eye. The brothers have a handy hint for those who aren’t sure where to start: “The redder it is, the hotter it is!” Nasir says with a chuckle. Indeed. The buckets of chilli powder sitting innocently in one aisle are organised by colour. The reddest one is marked with an ominous thick black ‘X’. Tones of different languages and the rich fragrance of various spices eddy around the small warehouse. The atmosphere here is one of variety and texture, of different ethnic and religious groups coming together over a shared appreciation of good food. This thriving business came into Nasir and Intikhab’s hands two years ago. Both came to New Zealand after deciding that Pakistan did not offer their children the best life. “Our country, I’m sorry to say – the governance wasn’t good,” says Intikhab. “Policies and economics affect the commoner, everything trickles down, so you suffer or you enjoy. We asked ourselves could we give to our kids what our parents had given us, and the answer was no.” Nasir’s wife, Saima, and Intikhab’s wife, Uzma, are sisters, and the decision was made that both families would emigrate together. Both couples had settled lives, with Nasir involved in a commuter business and Intikhab rounding out 16 years in the Pakistan navy as a communications and electrical specialist. With three young sons between them, uprooting their lives and traversing the world’s oceans required a deep-rooted conINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 33
viction that life in another country would be better in the long run. After bypassing Europe, Canada and Australia, the families eventually decided to apply to migrate to New Zealand. “Europe and Canada were too cold, Australia we had heard that there is a lot of discrimination there. New Zealand was the one place that we’d heard was good.” Both Intikhab and Nasir qualified under the skilled migrant points system to come to New Zealand. This system is part of the government strategy to attract highly skilled and experienced migrants to our shores. Potential migrants earn points on their age, skills, qualifications and experience, with a points threshold deciding who is accepted. The Manzoor family made the journey first, and six months later the Ahmads followed. Living in the same house to begin with provided confidence in their new lives as well as easing the financial strains. With families to support and a livelihood to build Nasir and Intikhab started looking for work. Unfortunately they quickly came up against the wall of not having the New Zealand experience employers look for. Masir began lawn mowing with Green Acres, and Intikhab tried his luck with the navy. However the transition into naval work in New Zealand proved to be difficult, and after assessing the time and money it would take to requalify, Intikhab decided to leave charted waters behind him. “We have here a pool of talent from the rest of the world, but the local industry is reluctant. Those who come here are mostly married and settled with kids,” explains Intikhab. “We have responsibilities and can’t just start over on minimum wage. So we will do what brings in quick cash – you have doctors and lawyers driving taxis and buses.” During this time a golden opportunity fell into the co-brothers* laps. The Apna Bazaar, already well-established in the heart of the migrant community, was up for sale and they decided to take the plunge. Buying the business provided both families with the livelihood essential to setting up and staying in New Zealand. “It is hard, and we know friends who tried to establish themselves and couldn‘t. But for us – we left everything behind, we quit our jobs, so there was no going back,” Intikhab says. “It is a risk, but we came here for a peaceful society, not dollars in the pocket.” The brothers credit teamwork for the continued success of Apna Bazaar, and they enjoy the flexibility the current arrangement allows them in spending time with their families. Financially stable, they now live in separate houses, still within close proximity of each other and the business. The hours are long and the labour hard, but the teamwork is seamless and it is clear that family values are very much a cherished ideal for this duo. Devout Muslims, the Mt Roskill Islamic Centre down the road is often visited for the five-daily prayers. “But we don’t have to go, we can pray wherever we are,” says Intikhab. They haven’t yet experienced the ugly tones of racism that can be apparent in the post 9-11 world, something which they are thankful for. The only criticism of New Zealand, Intikhab ventures, is that past immigration policy has seen a highly qualified migrant community underutilised in the New Zealand workforce. Recent changes have seen these issues addressed, with a higher English language requirement and points granted for job offers and comparability of the labour market. *co-brothers = the Pakistani expression for brothers-in-law 34, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Overall Intikhab says that despite the challenges they have settled well into their new lives and vibrant community. “So many cultures are here together, it’s the richest community in the world!” he says. This thought, so evident in the everyday scenes played out on the streets, captures the ideal of immigration; new lives for those seeking a radical change, and localborn Kiwis literally have the world at their doorstep.
t’s not hard to track down Marika Sutinovska, one of the North Shore’s favourite taxi drivers. When faced with a description of “a very friendly European lady, drives on the Shore, late 40s or early 50s” the Discount Taxi operator breaks into a laugh and says he knows exactly who she is. The same charisma that marks Marika as memorable is apparent when being interviewed. A highly-qualified architect with 20 years of experience tucked away, she is matter of fact and positive about her new life in New Zealand. Macedonian born and bred, Marika immigrated here in 2000 with her two adult sons. Accepted under the skilled migrants scheme, Marika was looking for a new life and “New Zealand was the furthest you could go!” She describes New Zealand as being fairly similar to Macedonia 20 years ago, before war started fraying the edges of society. Growing up in a well-off family of four, Marika’s youth was an easy one. Travel throughout Europe was common, and became even more so upon embarking on a five year Bachelor of Architecture. “I like travelling, so I was travelling all round Europe”, Marika says with a smile, hands gesturing as she tries to find the exact words to convey her thoughts. “The first lesson of architecture is to see Greece, and the second lesson is to go all around Europe – it was a very hard life,” she laughs. “We have the most beautiful buildings, and the oldest too.” After graduating, Marika began work as an architect, merging drawing and designing with project management on site. “It’s a bit different to New Zealand – in Macedonia we are much more out on the site, almost as a civil engineer as well as an architect.” Marriage to a doctor and two children followed. Later on the dark patch of divorce marred this charmed European life. “Everything turned upside down for me for a while,” Marika says. This prompted thoughts of starting afresh elsewhere in the world. The rapidly spiralling political situation, with the outbreak of war, was also causing concern. The geographical distance from Macedonia first attracted Marika to New Zealand, and a family friend living in Auckland was also a bonus. After careful thought the application was made and approved in a matter of months. “The points system was very easy – I have high qualifications and experience, you know, so it wasn’t hard for me. The hardest part was passing the IELTS English language test – standard 5.5 was difficult.” Arriving to “a great welcome” of a sunny summer day, New Zealand’s lush landscapes and quiet, relaxed lifestyle instantly appealed to Marika. Nevertheless she and her sons, Vladimir and Mitske, were faced with the challenge of building a new life in a country far from even the very echoes of home. The first step was buying a house just down the road from the only person they knew in Auckland. It took a few months for the Sutinovska family to settle into the patterns of New Zealand life,
â€œThe Apna Bazaar, already well-established in the heart of the migrant community, was up for sale and they decided to take the plunge. Buying the business provided both families with the livelihood essential to setting up and staying in New Zealandâ€?
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 35
although they experienced relatively little culture shock. “We really just needed time to figure out the little things of normal life. Lydia showed me what to do all the time,” says Marika. Scraping together the basics of living was easy enough. Finding work within the field she is qualified and experienced in was a completely different story. “It was always the same answer; ‘You haven’t got New Zealand experience’,” Marika explains. This is despite her qualification being recognized by the NZQA as on par with any New Zealand architectural degree. “It is easier for younger people, my sons had no problems finding work. But for me, I’m 53 you know, so I taxi drive,” she says, without a trace of bitterness. “It was hard not finding a job at first, but now I understand. They give us a chance to start a new life and the rest of the work is yours – it depends on you.” Without a partner to fall back on, supporting her family and paying the bills became the focus. Marika bought a small cleaning franchise and began a punishing routine of fulltime cleaning, and part-time taxi driving and studying. She completed both a diploma of Interior Design from the Sheffield School in the United States, and a Certificate in Computing Levels 2 & 3 from the Te Wananga O Aotearoa. Eventually she decided to sell the franchise and give herself a break. “I’m still friends with some of my clients. I enjoyed seeing the insides of so many people’s homes, but the work became too much.” After the franchise changed hands Marika began fulltime work with Discount Taxis. She also sold her first house and bought her second in the nearby suburb of Birkdale. Her brother, who migrated a few years after Marika, lives just over the fence. There are special traditions the family observes that help keep their culture alive, entwining with the Kiwi customs and lifestyle they have come to love. Macedonia is strongly orthodox Christian, so days celebrating saints are common. “You have Saint Patrick’s here, and we have many days like that!” The Sutinovska family often congregate at the Dalmation Club in central Auckland to relax with their fellow migrants from the broad sweep of South-East Europe. Ethnic dance classes, holiday celebrations, typical culinary treats and fun events are all offered at the popular centre. “There’s always something interesting going on down there, and for very cheap too. Anyone is welcome, Kiwi’s too,” Marika says animatedly. She nurses a steaming cup of Turkish coffee throughout the interview, both an antidote to a 5am finish to her shift and a cherished Macedonian ritual. She will be able to stock up on more of the aromatic brew when she visits Macedonia to see her parents for the first time since immigrating. The month-long trip will be a welcome holiday before looking again for architecture-related work. She is established in her new life here, and is optimistic about her future here. “I will look for a job but cover my back with the taxi!” she says.
he assortment of people and cultures residing in New Zealand is the first thing that springs to Mary Prema’s lips when she is asked about the subject of her new homeland. “I love it – there are so many different people everywhere, we can all learn from each other and we become better people ourselves,” she says. This embracing attitude was evident from the moment Mary
36, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
and her two children arrived in Auckland after taking the step to migrate from India. Born into the large town of Palayamkottai in South India, Mary and her two siblings experienced heartbreak at a young age when their father was killed in a motorcycle accident. After this tragic start Mary’s childhood and teenage years were pretty typical. Married at 18, Mary and her husband moved into an apartment in Bombay, one of India’s largest cities. She says Bombay is not just made up of the slums that come to mind whenever India is mentioned in the West. “Sometimes I feel like shooting the ‘Best of India’ to give to the Western media,” she explains. “The picture of India is largely negative, with poverty and corruption and so on. But there are so many positives that are not seen – there are a lot of very highly qualified people, excellent universities and organisations, the housing and infrastructure is often very sophisticated.” Mary began studies at Bombay University, emerging after seven years at the top of her class with a Masters in Business Administration. From there she started work in human resources, progressing steadily from entry level to management positions. “I was very passionate about my area of work, very enthusiastic and determined. Those qualities saw me go far in my career,” Mary says. Like Marika, Mary’s life underwent a radical upheaval with a divorce from her husband. Suddenly she was a single parent of two young children, and the transition was tough. “It was a huge, long journey – I felt like starting my life over from scratch.” It would be some years before Mary applied to immigrate to New Zealand, but the seed began to work its way into her thoughts. “I’ve heard a lot about New Zealand being a beautiful, peaceful place,” she says. “I’m a landscape artist and I was very attracted to the scenery.” With her creative spirit awakened by the nature she saw in Bollywood films shot in New Zealand, Mary applied and qualified under the points system to immigrate to our shores. Such a huge step to move permanently into the unknown was not taken lightly, especially with 17-year-old Ansi and 12-year-old Frank in tow. Winding up life in Bombay was not an easy or short process. However humorous moments arose along with the emotional challenges, and Mary’s story-telling is punctuated with fond laughter. “Although we were preparing to go for a long time beforehand, still 45 minutes before we could leave we felt that we needed another suitcase to fit in some left over clothes. So we rushed to the shops to buy another suitcase!” Mary smiles at the relief she felt once she relaxed at last into the airplane seat. “I was so physically tired – you have two children leaning on you, and you are the main person.” Though it was scary to leave the familiar behind and traverse the world, not knowing what life would be like here and not knowing anyone, Mary maintained a positive approach to her big adventure. The friendliness of Kiwi’s certainly helped to settle the family, and is something Mary really appreciates. After finding her feet in Auckland Mary began a job selling security systems door to door, and rented her first house in Avondale. Like many migrants from that time, work within the appropriate field was scarce. “Every employer wanted to hear New Zealand experience on the applications – I was either overqualified or had no local experience.” Though frustrating, Mary found work in other arenas. After
“It is easier for younger people, my sons had no problems finding work. But for me, I’m 53 you know, so I taxi drive,” she says, without a trace of bitterness. It was hard not finding a job at first, but now I understand. They give us a chance to start a new life and the rest of the work is yours – it depends on you”
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 37
“With her creative spirit awakened by the nature she saw in Bollywood films shot in New Zealand, Mary applied and qualified under the points system to immigrate to our shores. Such a huge step to move permanently into the unknown was not taken lightly, especially with 17-year-old Ansi and 12-year-old Frank in tow”
becoming the top security systems seller in the company, unheard of for an Indian woman, Mary moved on to a customer service job at the Auckland DHB, before starting fulltime study of the visual arts at MIT. During this time Mary decided it was cheaper to buy a house in West Auckland and pay a mortgage than to rent again. With her children growing up, maintaining their Indian culture while also embracing Kiwi life became a challenge. However she says they came to New Zealand with open minds and were determined to stay that way. “It’s never easy adjusting to a new country. Bringing up kids in a western culture while still being open to new ideas is a challenge,” she says. Her softspoken confidence and warm smile show that she is genuine in what she says. Mary is now well settled into life here and the increasing fusion of different cultures swirling through our towns and cities is one of the parts she loves the most. “New 38, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Zealand is so ethnically diverse – it’s like adding a different colour and flavour to your social life. It’s completely different from India in that way”, she says. With a new management job at TEAR Fund Mary is thrilled with the opportunity to jump back into full time work and make use of her many skills. As with most migrants, the ability to work and contribute is something Mary values highly. “While we stand out because of our colour, accent and culture, we also believe we can stand out on our skills, knowledge and abilities. If employers can believe in us and give us the opportunity then we can really make a difference.” For help with any issues relating to immigration, or if you are a migrant wanting to help other migrants transition successfully into New Zealand life, the Migrant Action Trust in Mt Roskill is available to help. Migrant Action Trust provides employment skills, mentoring, and microenterprise for migrants. Agnes Granada can be contacted on email@example.com .
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Will history remember the West? 40, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Our children will grow up in a savagely different world, warns MARK STEYN, as the West follows Rome and Athens into the dustbin of dead civilizations and a new ‘dark ages’ looms INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 41
’m honored to be asked to give the C D Kemp lecture before members of the Institute he founded and which lives on after him. I’ve been in Australia for a couple of weeks on what I like to think of as my “Head for the hills! It’s the end of the world!” tour. But don’t worry, it’s like Barbra Streisand’s farewell tour, I’ll be back to do another end-of-the-world tour in a year or two. Whether or not the western world is ending, it’s certainly changed. It’s a very strange feeling from the perspective of four decades on to return to a famous book C D Kemp wrote in 1964, Big Businessmen, a portrait of a now all-but-extinct generation of Australian industrialists. They were men whose sense of themselves in relation to the society they lived in was immensely secure. They had an instinctive belief in the culture that raised them and enriched them. To have pointed out such a fact at the time would have seemed superfluous: it was still shared by many forces in society – bank managers, kindergarten teachers, even Anglican clerics. None of these pillars of what we used to regard as conventional society is quite as sturdy as it was, and most of them have collapsed. Many mainstream Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbelieving to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political cliches. In this world, if Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican vicar in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally-friendly car with an “Arms Are For Hugging” sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams. Yet, if the purpose of the modern church is to be a cuttingedge political pacesetter, it’s Islam that’s doing the better job. It’s easy to look at gold-toothed Punjabi yobs in northern England or Algerian pseudo-rappers in French suburbs and think, oh well, their Muslim identity is clearly pretty residual. But that’s to apply westernized notions of piety. Today the mosque is a meetinghouse, and throughout the west what it meets to discuss is, even when not explicitly jihadist, always political. The mosque or madrassah is not the place to go for spiritual contemplation so much as political motivation. The Muslim identity of those French rioters or English jailbirds may seem spiritually vestigial but it’s politically potent. So, even as a political project, the mainstream Protestant churches are a bust. Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity. As for many teachers, they regard the accumulated inheritance of western civilization as an unending parade of racism, sexism, imperialism and other malign -isms, leavened only by routine genocides. Even if this were true – which it’s not – it’s not a good sustaining narrative for any nation unless it’s planning on going out of business. And, speaking of business, even the heirs of those Big Businessmen C D Kemp wrote about feel obliged to join the ranks of the civilizational self-loathers. I notice that in its commercials the oil company BP – that’s to say, British Petroleum – now says that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum”: the ads are all about how it’s developing environmentally-friendly ways to conserve energy; in other words, it’s ashamed of the business it’s in. The question posed here tonight is very direct: “Does Western Civilization Have A Future?” One answer’s easy: if western civilization doesn’t have a past, it certainly won’t have a future. No soci-
42, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
ety can survive when it consciously unmoors itself from its own inheritance. But let me answer it in a less philosophical way: Much of western civilization does not have any future. That’s to say, we’re not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding. Spain’s population is halving with every generation: Two grown-ups have a total of one baby. So there are half as many children as parents. And a quarter as many grandchildren as grandparents. And an eighth as many great-grandchildren as great-grandparents. And, after that there’s no point extrapolating, because you’re over the falls and it’s too late to start paddling back. I received a flurry of letters from furious Spaniards when the government decided to replace the words “father” and “mother” on its birth certificates with the less orientationally offensive terms “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B”. This was part of the bureaucratic spring-cleaning of traditional language that always accompanies the arrival in law of “gay marriage”. But, with historically low numbers of progeny, the designations of the respective progenitors seem of marginal concern. They’d be better off trying to encourage the average young Spaniard to wander into a Barcelona singles bar and see if anyone wants to come back to his pad to play Progenitor A and Progenitor B. (“Well, okay, but only if I can be Progenitor AŠ”) Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room. So large parts of the western world are literally dying – and, in Europe, the successor population to those aging French and Dutch and Belgians is already in place. Perhaps the differences will be minimal. In France, the Catholic churches will become mosques; in England, the village pubs will cease serving alcohol; in the Netherlands, the gay nightclubs will close up shop and relocate to San Francisco. But otherwise life will go on much as before. The new Europeans will be observant Muslims instead of post-Christian secularists but they will still be recognizably European: It will be like Cats after a cast change: same long-running show, new actors, but the plot, the music, the sets are all the same. The animating principles of advanced societies are so strong that they will thrive whoever’s at the switch. But what if they don’t? In the 2005 rankings of Freedom House’s survey of personal liberty and democracy around the world, five of the eight countries with the lowest “freedom” score were Muslim. Of the 46 Muslim majority nations in the world, only three were free. Of the 16 nations in which Muslims form between 20 and 50 per cent of the population, only another three were ranked as free: Benin, Serbia and Montenegro, and Suriname. It will be interesting to follow France’s fortunes as a fourth member of that group. If you think a nation is no more than a “great hotel” (as the Canadian novelist Yann Martel described his own country, approvingly), you can always slash rates and fill the empty rooms – for as long as there are any would-be lodgers left out
“Much of western civilization does not have any future. That’s to say, we’re not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding”
there to move in. But there aren’t going to be many would-be immigrants out there in the years ahead – not for aging western societies in which an ever smaller pool of young people pay ever higher taxes to support ever swelling geriatric native populations. And, if you believe a nation is the collective, accumulated wisdom of a shared past, then a dependence on immigration alone for population replenishment will leave you lost and diminished. That’s why Peter Costello’s stirring call – a boy for you, a girl for me, and one for Australia – is, ultimately, a national security issue – and a more basic one than how much you spend on defence. Americans take for granted all the “it’s about the future of all our children” hooey that would ring so hollow in a European election. In the 2005 German campaign, voters were offered what would be regarded in the US as a statistically improbable choice: a childless man (Herr Schroeder) vs a childless woman (Frau Merkel). Statist Europe signed on to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s alleged African proverb – “It takes a village to raise a child” – only to discover they got it backwards: on the Continent, the lack of children will raze the village. And most of the villagers still refuse to recognize the contradictions: You can’t breed at the lethargic rate of most Europeans and then bitch and whine about letting the Turks into the European Union. Demographically, they’re the kids you couldn’t be bothered having. One would assume a demographic disaster is the sort of thing that sneaks up on you because you’re having a grand old time: You stayed in university till you were 38, you took early retirement at 45, you had two months a year on the Cote d’Azur, you drank wine, you ate foie gras and truffles, you marched in the
street for a 28-hour work week. It was all such great fun there was no time to have children. You thought the couple in the next street would, or the next town, or in all those bucolic villages you pass through on the way to your weekend home.
ut the strange thing is that Europeans aren’t happy. The Germans are so slumped in despond that in 2005 the government began running a Teutonic feelgood marketing campaign in which old people are posed against pastoral vistas, fetching young gays mooch around the Holocaust memorial, Katarina Witt stands in front of some photogenic moppets, etc., and then they all point their fingers at the camera and shout “Du bist Deutschland!” – “You are Germany!” – which is meant somehow to pep up glum Hun couch potatoes. Can’t see it working myself. The European Union got rid of all the supposed obstacles to happiness – war, politics, the burden of work, insufficient leisure time, tiresome dependents – and yet their people are strikingly unhappy. Consider this poll taken in 2002 for the first anniversary of 9/11: 61 per cent of Americans said they were optimistic about the future, as opposed to 43 per cent of Canadians, 42 per cent of Britons, 29 per cent of the French, 23 per cent of Russians and 15 per cent of Germans. I wouldn’t reckon those numbers will get any cheerier over the years. W hat’s the most laughable article published in a major American newspaper in the last decade? A good contender is a New York Times column by the august Princeton economist Paul Krugman. The headline was “French Family Values”, and the thesis is that, while parochial American conservatives drone on about “family values”, the Europeans live it, enacting poliINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 43
fewer hours than Americans, they don’t have to pay for their own health care, they don’t go to church and they don’t contribute to other civic groups, they don’t marry and they don’t have kids to take to school and basketball and the county fair. So what do they do with all the time? Forget for the moment Europe’s lack of world-beating companies: They regard capitalism red in tooth and claw as an Anglo-American fetish, and they mostly despise it. And in fairness some of their quasi-state corporations are very pleasant: I’d much rather fly Air France than United or Continental. But what about the things Europeans supposedly value? With so much free time, where is the great European art? Assuredly Gershwin and Bernstein aren’t Bach and Mozart, but what have the Continentals got? Their pop culture is more American than it’s ever been. Fifty years ago, before European welfarism had them in its vise-like death grip, the French had better pop songs and the Italians made better movies. Where are Europe’s men of science? At American universities. Meanwhile, Continental governments pour fortunes into prestigious white elephants of Euro-identity, like the Airbus 380, the QE2 of the skies, capable of carrying 500, 800, a thousand passengers at a time, if only somebody somewhere would order the damn thing, which they might consider doing once all the airports have built new runways to handle it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s a swell idea. It’ll come in very useful for large-scale evacuation operations circa 2015.
“In those 17 European countries which have fallen into “lowest-low fertility”, where are the children? In a way, you’re looking at them: the guy sipping espresso at a sidewalk café listening to his iPod. Free citizens of advanced western democracies are increasingly the world’s wrinkliest teenagers: the state makes the grown-up decisions and we spend our pocket money on our record collection.”
cies that are more “family friendly”. On the Continent, claims Professor Krugman, “government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff – to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family.” How can an economist make that claim without noticing that the upshot of all these “family friendly” policies is that nobody has any families? Isn’t the first test of a pro-family regime its impact on families? As for all that extra time, what happened? Europeans work 44, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
hen life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do,” writes Charles Murray in In Our Hands, “ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome.” The Continent has embraced a spiritual death long before the demographic one. In those 17 European countries which have fallen into “lowest-low fertility”, where are the children? In a way, you’re looking at them: the guy sipping espresso at a sidewalk café listening to his iPod. Free citizens of advanced western democracies are increasingly the world’s wrinkliest teenagers: the state makes the grown-up decisions and we spend our pocket money on our record collection. Hilaire Belloc, incidentally, foresaw this very clearly in his book The Servile State in 1912 – before teenagers or record collections had been invented. He understood that the long-term cost of a softened state is the infantilization of the population. The populations of wealthy democratic societies expect to be able to choose from dozens of breakfast cereals at the supermarket, thousands of movies at the video store, and millions of porn sites on the Internet, yet think it perfectly acceptable to demand that the state take care of their elderly parents and their young children while they’re working – to, in effect, surrender what most previous societies would have regarded as all the responsibilities of adulthood. It’s a curious inversion of citizenship to demand control over peripheral leisure activities but to contract out the big life-changing stuff to the government. And it’s hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latterday Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in. Australia has more economic freedom than the EU and fewer distorting demographic problems, so, along with America, it’s one of the two countries with a sporting chance of avoiding
the perfect storm about to engulf the rest of the west. But at some point it too will have to confront these issues – not just the falling birth rate and aging population, but the underlying civilizational ennui of which the big lack of babies is merely the most obvious symptom. I feel bad running around like a headless chicken shrieking about this stuff. But let’s face it, scaremongering is the default mode of the age. We worry incessantly, because worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue: He feels good about feeling bad. So he worries mostly about what offers the best opportunities for self-loathing – climate change, or the need to increase mostly harmful foreign aid to African dictatorships. This is a kind of decadence. September 11th 2001 was not “the day everything changed”, but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On September 10th, how many journalists had the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their rolodexes? If you’d said that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century’s principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.
ut it’s important to remember: radical Islam is only the top-eighth of that iceberg – it’s an opportunist enemy taking advantage of a demographically declining and spiritually decayed west. The real issue is the seven-eighths below the surface – the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and call into question the future of much of the rest of the world. The key factors are: ; Demographic decline; ; The unsustainability of the social democratic state; ; Civilizational exhaustion. None of these is Islam’s fault. They’re self-inflicted. If you doubt that, forget about fast Islamifying Europe and look at the most geriatric jurisdiction on the planet. In Japan, the rising sun has already passed into the next phase of its long sunset: net population loss. 2005 was the first year since records began in which the country had more deaths than births. Japan offers the chance to observe the demographic death spiral in its purest form. It’s a country with no immigration, no significant minorities and no desire for any: just the Japanese, aging and dwindling. At first it doesn’t sound too bad: compared with the United States, most advanced societies are very crowded. If you’re in a cramped apartment in a noisy congested city, losing a couple hundred thousand seems a fine trade-off. The difficulty, in a modern social democratic state, is managing which people to lose: already, according to The Japan Times, depopulation is “presenting the government with pressing challenges on the social and economic front, including ensuring provision of social security services and securing the labor force.” For one thing, the shortage of children has led to a shortage of obstetricians. Why would any talented ambitious med. school student want to go into a field in such precipitous decline? Birthing is a dying business. At the beginning of the century, the country’s toymakers
noticed they had a problem: toys are for children and Japan doesn’t have many. What to do? In 2005, Tomy began marketing a new doll called Yumel – a baby boy with a range of 1,200 phrases designed to serve as companions for the elderly. He says not just the usual things – “I wuv you” – but also asks the questions your grandchildren would ask if you had any: “Why do elephants have long noses?” Yumel joins his friend, the Snuggling Ifbot, a toy designed to have the conversation of a five-year old child which its makers, with the usual Japanese efficiency, have determined is just enough chit-chat to prevent the old folks going senile. It seems an appropriate final comment on the social democratic state: in a childish infantilized self-absorbed society where adults have been stripped of core responsibilities, you need never stop playing with toys. We are the children we never had. And why leave it at that? Is it likely an ever smaller number of young people will want to spend their active years looking after an ever greater number of old people? Or will it be simpler to put all that cutting-edge Japanese technology to good use and take a flier on Mister Roboto and the post-human future? After all, what’s easier for the governing class? Weaning a pampered population off the good life and re-teaching them the lost biological impulse or giving the Sony Corporation a license to become the Cloney Corporation? If you need to justify it to yourself, you’d grab the graphs and say, well, demographic decline is universal. It’s like industrialization a couple of centuries back; everyone will get to it eventually, but the first to do so will have huge advantages: the relevant comparison is not with England’s early 19th century population surge but with England’s industrial revolution. In the industrial age, manpower was critical. In the new technological age, manpower will be optional – and indeed, if most of the available manpower’s alienated young Muslim men, it may well be a disadvantage. As the most advanced society with the most advanced demographic crisis, Japan seems likely to be the first jurisdiction to embrace robots and cloning and embark on the slippery slope to transhumanism. The advantage Australians and Americans have is that most of the rest of the west is ahead of us: their canoes are already on the brink of the falls. But Australians who want their families to enjoy the blessings of life in a free society should understand that the life we’ve led since 1945 in the western world is very rare in human history. Our children are unlikely to enjoy anything so placid, and may well spend their adult years in an ugly and savage world in which ever more parts of the map fall prey to the reprimitivization that’s afflicted Liberia, Somalia and Bosnia. If it’s difficult to focus on long-term trends because human life is itself short-term, think short-term: Huge changes are happening now. For states in demographic decline with ever more lavish social programs and ever less civilizational confidence, the question is a simple one: Can they get real? Can they grow up before they grow old? If not, then western civilization will go the way of all others that failed to meet a simple test: as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1870, “Nature has made up her mind that what cannot defend itself shall not be defended.” Mark Steyn is a regular opinion-page contributor to publications across the western world, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Wall Street Journal, The London Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Investigate. This is the text of his 2006 CD Kemp lecture at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne in August 2006.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 45
râ€Ś a w f o y lt a u s a c t s ir The f How the western media fell for a Hezbollah hoax intentionally On the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircr aft fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. Or so says the glob al media, including
Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and
thousands of other outlets around the world. If true, the incident would have been an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva
itted by the state Convention, and would constitute a war crime comm of Israel. But thereâ€™s one problem: It never happened, according to this investigation carried out by the US WEBsite zombietime.com:
46, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
f all the exposés and scandals surrounding the media’s coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, the Red Cross “Ambulance Incident” stands out as the most serious. The other exposés were spectacular in their simplicity (photographers staging scenes, clumsy attempts at Photoshopping images), but often concerned fairly trivial details. What does it matter whether there was a big cloud of smoke over Beirut, or a really big cloud of smoke, as one notorious doctored photograph showed? The fact that the media was lying was indeed extremely important, and justified the publicity surrounding the exposés – but what they were lying about was often minor, a slight fudging of the visuals to exaggerate the damage. The ambulance incident, however, was anything but trivial. The media accused Israel of the most heinous type of war crime: intentionally targeting neutral ambulances which were attempting to rescue innocent victims. Take this editorial from the New Zealand Herald on August 1: “That destruction has not been confined to refugee traffic. Clearly marked ambulances have also been attacked. Pictures of shell holes wrought large in red crosses carried a strong hint of indiscriminate bombing. Whatever the protestations of Israel’s political leaders, it seems apparent that elements of the armed forces have few scruples about the conduct of the conflict.” Anti-war protestors, from Los Angeles to Pakistan to Auckland, have waved placards decrying Israel’s bombing of the Red Cross as a war crime, and in fact in the Auckland protest a replica of the bombed ambulance was paraded. If the ambulance incident were true – and it is almost universally accepted as true – then Israel would lose any claim to moral superiority in the conflict. The commanders who ordered the strike should be brought up on war-crimes charges. As it is, the worldwide outcry over Israel’s purported malfeasances grew so strident that the country was pressured into a ceasefire. The media’s depictions of Israel’s actions so influenced public opinion that Israel felt compelled to end the fighting right at the moment it was starting to gain the upper hand. And as a result, Hezbollah has now claimed victory. The Red Cross Ambulance Incident was perhaps the most damning of all the evidence against Israel, and the most morally indefensible. Other incidents were open to debate: in those cases where Israel bombed buildings that turned out to have civilians inside, Israel claimed either that it didn’t know the building was occupied, or that it was trying to hit a Hezbollah stronghold elsewhere in the same building; or that the strike was a mistake, an errant missile. But targeting clearly marked
ambulances, and hitting them directly – there’s no possible excuse for that. So this specific incident contributed to the outrage over the war, eventually causing Israel to stand down. Which makes it all the more shocking to learn that the attack on the ambulances most likely never occurred, and that the “evidence” supporting the claim is in fact a hoax. First, let’s review exactly what is supposed to have happened, by looking at the media’s coverage of the incident; next, we will examine how the evidence does not hold up under close examination.
What Supposedly Happened: The +Media Accuses Israel of War Crimes If you’re already familiar with this incident, it might be worthwhile to see just exactly how the story unfolded, chronologically from the very beginning, and how it acquired new details with every retelling. Here is a step-by-step outline of the media’s case against Israel: July 24: Red Cross press release This is where the story apparently first broke: in a newsletter press release issued by the Red Cross itself: “…The latest of these incidents occurred on 23 July, at 11.15 pm in Cana, a village in southern Lebanon. According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions, although both vehicles were clearly marked by the red cross emblem and flashing lights that were visible at a great distance. The incident happened while first-aid workers were transferring wounded patients from one ambulance to another. As a result, nine people including six Red Cross volunteers were wounded.” Notice how this initial description is fairly neutral: no mention of who fired the munitions, or what type they were, or the extent of the damage. July 24: Associated Press The story went global when Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press included a description of the incident in a human interest story filed just a few hours later. The story ran in dozens of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. The AP version of the incident is much more elaborate than the initial report. Here is the relevant section: “...the Lebanese Red Cross suspended operations outside Tyre after Israeli jets blasted two ambulances with rockets, [key points in this article are italicized to allow easy comparison between reports of the event] said Ali Deebe, a Red Cross spokesman in Tyre. In the incident Sunday, one Red Cross ambulance went INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 47
south of Tyre to meet an ambulance and transfer the wounded to the hospital. “When we have wounded outside the city, we always used two ambulances,” Deebe said. The rocket attack on the two vehicles wounded six ambulance workers and three civilians – an 11-year-old boy, an elderly woman and a man, Deebe said. “One of the rockets hit right in the middle of the big red cross that was painted on top of the ambulance,” he said. “This is a clear violation of humanitarian law, of international law. We are neutral and we should not be targeted.” Kassem Shalan, one of the ambulance workers, told AP Television News that nine people were injured. “We were transferring the wounded into our vehicle and something fell and I dropped to the floor,” he said. Amateur video provided by an ambulance worker confirmed Deebe’s account of damage to the vehicles, showing one large hole and several smaller ones in the roof of one ambulance and a large hole in the roof of the second. Both were destroyed. July 24: ITV News That evening, Britain’s ITV News ran a breathless report about the attack, accusing Israel of serious war crimes. Significantly, however, the ITV report states that journalists did not see the ambulances themselves, and instead shows a film taken by a “local amateur cameraman.” It’s important to watch this entire video if you can, because it not only contains the fullest account of the incident – with scenes of injured ambulance drivers, and videos of the ambulances – but it conveys the typical inflammatory tone of the media coverage of this conflict. For those who can’t view the video, here is a partial transcript of the noteworthy sections of the report: ITV reporter Julian Manyon: ...Lebanese ambulance men, shocked and bleeding, brought in as casualties to a hospital in Tyre. They were hurt when Israeli aircraft rocketed two ambulance crews. ... On the face of it, it is difficult to understand just how the Israeli military could possibly have mistaken two clearly marked ambulances for a legitimate military target. ... ITV host: Well we’ve seen it there, haven’t we, Captain Delall? This can’t go on, this indiscriminate slaughter of Lebanese civilians. Captain Delall: “We have nothing against the Lebanese civilians. We never intentionally target civilians, and certainly not ambulances or aid workers. ITV host: Excuse me, but with the greatest respect, we’re talking about the Israeli army. Do you accept that hitting a Red Cross ambulance and a convoy of civilians fleeing are acts that are flagrant breaches of the rules of war? Captain Delall: We never intentionally target civilians or ambulances. ... Julian Manyon: ...I would say that those ambulances were strafed from the air by helicopter fire. ... ITV host: ...The U.N. tells ITV News that Israel is breaking the rules of war. Julian Manyon: The air attack on two Red Cross ambulances has increased the controversy surrounding the Israeli assault on Lebanon. ... It’s noticeable that one burst of fire struck the exact center of the cross on the roof of one of the ambulances. ... Because of the extreme dangers of the roads, journalists have not visited the scene. These pictures were taken by a local amateur cameraman. 48, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
ITV host: Israel’s enemies are saying attacks like that one are tantamount to war crimes. July 25: Time magazine The following day, Time was the first American publication to print a full account, with even more details not yet reported anywhere else: “But on Sunday night, the emblem of the Red Cross was not enough to deter an Israeli helicopter gunship from firing missiles into a pair of ambulances loading casualties in the village of Qana” ... “As Shaalan closed the back of the ambulance, however, a missile punched through the roof of the vehicle and exploded inside. “There was a boom, a big fire and I was thrown backwards. I thought I was dead,” Shaalan recalls. ...”Then a second missile struck the other ambulance.” ...”The father’s leg was severed by the exploding missile.” ... “There was no immediate comment from the Israeli authorities on why a helicopter gunship had attacked a clearly marked Red Cross ambulance.” July 25: The Guardian Britain’s Guardian weighed in on the same day, with a worshipful article about the ambulance crew, as the damage continued to mount: The ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag when the first Israeli missile hit, shearing off the right leg of the man on the stretcher inside. As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke, patients and ambulance workers scrambled for safety, crawling over glass in the dark. Then another missile hit the second ambulance. Even in a war which has turned the roads of south Lebanon into killing zones, Israel’s rocket strike on two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances on Sunday night set a deadly new milestone. ... Two ambulances were entirely destroyed, their roofs pierced by missiles. ... One of the members of the three-man crew from Tibnin radioed for help when another missile plunged through the roof. ...He was adamant that the ambulances, with their Red Cross insignia on the roof, were clearly visible from the air. “I don’t think there can be a mistake in two bombings of two ambulances,” he said. The detailed specificity of the descriptions – who was injured, their ages, their exact injuries, a second-by-second account of what happened, and so on – make the report seem extremely credible. After reading the Guardian’s account and watching the ITV News video, who could question the veracity of the incident? July 25: The Austin American-Statesman On July 25, there was a brief flurry of three articles providing the same vague or paraphrased quote purportedly from the IDF acknowledging the strikes. All three are cited here. But strangely, none of the hundreds of subsequent articles mention the IDF acknowledgement. As one reader pointed out, “The Israelis routinely offer apologies for incidents that they haven’t even made cursory investigations into. So even if this were to turn out to be a factual quoting about that incident I wouldn’t give it anything other than a cursory consideration.” Anyway, the embroidery on the tale of woe becomes ever more elaborate with each retelling. Now, the driver reports that he had a psy-
chic premonition of the attack: “Kasem Chaalan had an inkling that something bad would happen. Chaalan, 28, was hurrying out of the headquarters of the Tyre chapter of the Lebanese Red Cross late Sunday evening to pick up some wounded people. As he rushed toward the door, he asked his colleagues lounging in the office to forgive him for any wrongs he might have done them. It was the first time in 13 years of volunteering for the Red Cross that he had ever uttered such words. “I don’t know why I said it,” he recalled Monday, hours after Israeli rockets hit his ambulance and another, wounding him and eight others. ... Late Sunday, Chaalan and two other volunteers drove their ambulance 10 miles southeast to the town of Qana, where they met another Red Cross ambulance from the village of Tebnine on its way to hospitals up north. Chaalan and his crew loaded the three wounded people into their ambulance. As he closed the vehicle’s rear door, an Israeli rocket hurtled through the roof of the ambulance. ... Within seconds, an Israeli missile tore through the roof of the second ambulance. ... “The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles,” an Israeli army spokesman said Monday. July 25: The Boston Globe The same day, the Boston Globe had an equally detailed article on the incident, among the first to also show a photo of the damage to an ambulance’s roof. Here are a few relevant quotes from the Globe version: “But inside their ambulances, the paramedics of the Lebanese Red Cross, Station 702, felt safe. So Kasim Shaalan, who thought nothing more could shock him in this 13-day war, was shocked Sunday night when he closed the rear door of his ambulance and it exploded, seriously wounding two patients inside. ... The Israel Defense Forces said last night that Israeli fire hit an ambulance during fighting in the Qana area, east of Tyre. “The IDF never intentionally targets civilians, much less ambulances,” a spokesman said. “It should be noted that the area in which the incident took place is one from which there is intensive missile fire” directed toward Israel. ... Shaalan said he was swinging the back door shut when everything around him was engulfed in a flash of light. “A big fire came toward me, like in a dream. I thought I was dying, at first,” Shaalan said. ... A rocket or missile had made a direct hit through the roof, Shaalan said, severing one patient’s right leg. July 25: Spero News Spero News cites the same quote as the Austin AmericanStatesman, then amps up the accusations considerably: now two missiles hit each ambulance, the son has lost a leg, and there had been at least ten Israeli strikes on ambulances: “Six ambulance workers and their patients were wounded when Israeli missiles struck Red Cross ambulances on a rescue mission in south Lebanon. The attack took place near Qana when an ambulance from Tyre arrived intending to evacuate three patients from the border town of Tibnin. Two ambulances were completely destroyed as their roofs were pierced by missiles. According to one of the drivers, two guided missiles were fired at each ambulance. ... The patients, the Fawaz family, all had minor injuries before the missiles struck the ambulance.
Now the son is losing his leg and the other is treated for shrapnel wounds. ... An Australian correspondent reports from the city of Tyre that at least 10 Lebanese ambulances bearing the International Red Cross emblem have been targeted in Israeli air strikes in the south of Lebanon that have killed more than a dozen civilian passengers on transport to hospitals. An Israeli army spokesman said, “The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles.” July 26: The Age The Australian newspaper The Age idolizes the ambulance drivers, who now state explicitly what before they had only been hinting at: that Israel is doing it on purpose: Qasim Chaalan thought he had died in the burning haze of the missile strike. ... Then the roar and smash of the missiles shattered the night. Both ambulances were hit, directly and systematically, by Israeli bombs, the medics said. July 26: MSNBC Kerry Sanders of NBC was next in the line of reporters waiting to interview the driver Kassem Chaalan (his name is transliterated different ways), who now spices things up even further by saying he flew through the air 25 feet after the missile went right through the center of the cross on the roof: At the Red Cross headquarters in Tyre, I spoke to Kassem Chaalan, 28, who told me about being in an ambulance that was struck by a missile. When the armament struck the vehicle, he says, it hit the Red Cross symbol on the roof dead-on. The volunteer thought at first that had died – he said the blast blew him back 15 to 25 feet. July 30: The New York Times The story finally reached the The New York Times on July 30, again repeating the by-now-accepted fact that a missile went through the center of the cross: Missiles hit two Red Cross ambulances last weekend, wounding six people and punching a circle in the center of the cross on one’s roof. ... “We heard on the news they were bombing the Red Cross,” said Zaineb Shalhoub, a 22-year-old who survived the bombing. As the final quote above indicates, the media coverage in the Middle East about the ambulance incident was much more widespread and partisan than the Western coverage described here: it was a major story immediately, and the Middle Eastern media declared in no uncertain terms from the very start that the attack was not just intentional, but part of a systematic campaign to strike Red Cross ambulances. By the beginning of August, the story had spread to the rest of the world’s media outlets, and became accepted as an unquestioned fact about the war: Israel is targeting ambulances.
The Ambulance With a Hole in Its +Roof: Dismantling the Visual Evidence If you even skimmed the media quotes above, by now you’re probably pretty convinced that Israel did indeed attack the Red Cross ambulances, most likely on purpose. What other conclusion could the average reader possibly reach? Dozens of reporters from prestigious publications interviewed survivors. The INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 49
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wounded were shown in the hospital. There was video of the injured drivers arriving back at the Red Cross office. Pictures of the damaged ambulances proved beyond doubt that there must have been an attack. And if the missile struck dead center, there’s no way it could have been accidental. Right? Fortunately, you don’t need to trust the words of the reporters, or the claims of the Red Cross workers. Because you can inspect the evidence yourself, and draw your own conclusions: photographs of the damaged ambulances are widely available on the Internet. Although at first the Red Cross workers kept reporters away from the vehicles, a “local cameraman” did take pictures of the damage starting just hours after the attack; and after a few days, at least one of the ambulances was towed and parked in front of the Red Cross offices in Tyre, where anyone could photograph it. As a result, there are plenty of images to choose from. Will the story withstand an examination of the evidence? The answer, as you will soon see, is a devastating “No!”. (A big thanks to Infinitives Unsplit blog for being the first to raise questions about this event; to Reihl World View for being the first to examine some of the pictures in detail; and to zombietime reader Tom P. for some of the links used in this report.) If the media and Red Cross accounts are to be believed, here is a summary of what happened, pieced together from the articles cited above: On the night of July 23, an ambulance left Red Cross station #702 in Tyre to rendezvous with another ambulance ferrying patients from further south. While transferring patients from one ambulance to another on a road in Qana, a missile fired from either an Israeli jet or helicopter pierced the exact center of the cross on the roof of the ambulance from Tyre, severing the leg of one of the patients inside, and causing a huge fire and explosion that knocked the driver as much as 25 feet away. Immediately afterward, a second Israeli missile pierced the roof of the second ambulance as well. All the patients sustained major injuries, and all the Red Cross workers received lesser injuries. After hiding out for a while in a nearby building, they were later picked up and brought back to Tyre by a third ambulance. Let’s look at each claim one by one, and see if any aspect of the story stands up to careful analysis of the evidence. Claim #1: An Israeli missile pierced the exact center of the red cross on the roof of the ambulance. This photo (1) published in the Boston Globe is among the best-known of the images depicting damage to the ambulance. The roof is dented and scarred, obviously, and yes, there is a circular hole right in the middle of the roof, caused (we are told) by the missile. Notice, for later identification purposes, the three irregular white blotches next to the hole, and various distinctive gashes and marks – as well as the number “782” in the background. Since this is the only picture that most people saw of the ambulance, they might be willing to accept that the hole was caused by a missile. (A lightened version of the same photo ran in the Sydney Morning Herald.) But this view of the same hole (2), tells a completely different story. First of all, notice that the irregular white blotches
and other gashes match those in the first picture, doubly confirming that this is the same ambulance, but with better lighting and at a better angle, photographed from the right side. Now look carefully at the edges of the hole. There is an unpainted flange of consistent width around the perimeter, with small screw holes at regular intervals. Also, the metal around the edges is not bent inward, as one would expect from a missile puncturing through the roof. In fact, the hole looks unmistakably like a pre-existing circular hole in the roof, to which some feature – such as a light or a vent cover – was attached, and then removed. (We’ll see this same photo again later when discussing other elements of the story.) Lo and behold, when we look at other pictures of undamaged Lebanese Red Cross ambulances, we see that many of them just happen to have a ventilation cover of the exact same diameter as the “missile” hole right in the center of the cross on the roof. This picture (3) is taken from the Lebanese Red Cross site itself. As is also confirmed by some of the other images that follow, it’s obvious to the naked eye that the hole in the center of the cross on the roof of the “damaged” ambulance was simply a standardized pre-existing hole to which a ventilation cover had originally attached, and then been roughly stripped off. The Virginian blog summed it up nicely: “NBC shows a picture of an ambulance with a hole in its roof as ‘proof ’ that Israel is attacking ambulances. The problem is that the hole, which is right in the middle of the Red Cross on the roof, could not possibly be the result of a hit by any weapon. A shell or missile that size hitting the ambulance would not leave the rest of the vehicle intact. All that you would see would be twisted wreckage and a debris field. A more reasonable explanation for the hole is the removal of the emergency light or siren which also explains why the hole is centered precisely on the cross.” Since the other ambulances have visible sirens and lights toward the fronts of the vehicles, the function of the red dome in the center of the roof is almost certainly for ventilation. Conclusion: The hole in the roof was not caused by a missile strike. Claim #1: FALSE. Claim #2: The attack happened on July 23. Here are more pictures of the same ambulance roof. The one on the top (4) comes from the BBC. When looking at it, keep one word in mind: rust. Both images appear to show that the roof is rusted wherever the paint is scratched away. At least, as far as can be determined at the level of resolution in both pictures. Notice carefully again how this is indeed the same ambulance in all the photos: there are three white splotches adjacent to the hole in each image, as well as all the other distinctive marks. All these pictures were taken within a week of July 23. Fortunately, an extremely high-resolution version of the photo that appeared on the BBC was found on the Red Cross’s own official site (4). [Unfortunately, after this essay was published in the US, the picture was suddenly ‘pulled’ from the Red Cross site] This (5) is a close-up of the central part of the roof. Suddenly, the rust appears vividly, unmistakable and widespread, when the roof is shown in clear focus.
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Photo (6) is another extreme close-up of the roof. Notice especially how the rust appears to be quite old in some areas. Rust that extensive does not appear in a matter of hours or days. It usually takes months to develop, especially in dry climates such as Lebanon in the summer. Notice the blue sky in the BBC picture – it had not been raining. The presence of rust on every part of the roof where the paint has been scratched away proves that the damage to the metal happened long before July 23 – most likely several months earlier, or more. And if that’s the case, then the damage we’re seeing did not happen on July 23, and was thus not the result of an Israeli missile strike. Conclusion: the rust on the dented areas of the roof proves the damage must have happened long before July 23. Claim #2: FALSE.
Claim #3: There was a huge explosion inside the ambulance. Here are two photos showing either side of the ambulance. The picture on the top (7) comes from Indymedia and the next one (8) was taken by a Lebanese photographer and posted online. Looking at the picture on the top, it might appear at first glance that the ambulance could indeed have been blown up. But look again carefully. When there is an explosion inside a vehicle, things get blown outward. Yet the windshield is caved inward. In fact, assessing both pictures, nothing looks blown outward at all – the metal frame is pretty much intact and unscathed, and not buckled in any way. Furthermore, aside from some of the ceiling material hanging down, nothing on the inside of the ambulance looks damaged either. All the seats, gurneys and even the floor appear to be untouched, not bent or twisted as they ought to have been if 52, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
a missile had exploded literally just inches away. (Note: As the original media reports said, there were supposed to have been two damaged ambulances, yet most of the published pictures say that they depict “the” damaged ambulance. But as the picture on the right reveals, there may actually indeed have been two damaged ambulances parked in front of the Red Cross offices in Tyre. Also, the ITV News video above taken by a “ local cameraman” also shows two damaged vehicles. So it is possible that one of these two pictures shows the other ambulance. However, since the drivers claim that both vehicles were struck by missiles, the analysis remains valid, since they both should have suffered the same damage. More likely, as can be gleaned from the few scenes of both vehicles, is that the second ambulance was even less damaged than the one shown here, and consequently was ignored by photographers wanting to confirm the missile attack.)
In fact, the only part of the vehicle that seems to have suffered any kind of significant trauma was the roof. But as is revealed in this version (9) of the well-known first picture (from the Australian newspaper The Age), all the dents and shrapnel holes are bent inward; if there was shrapnel coming from a blast inside the vehicle, they should be bent outward. Yet we’re tiptoeing around the real problem. The ambulance above isn’t even close to having been blown up. In reality, when a missile strikes a vehicle, it looks something like any of these seven examples (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16), all of which actually were hit by Israeli missiles (when Israel was targeting Hamas leaders in Gaza). Conclusion: The damage to the ambulance is completely unlike the damage that would have been caused by a missile strike. Claim #3: FALSE. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 53
19 54, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Claim #4: There was an intense fire inside the ambulance. Since the ambulance driver described both an explosion and a fire (remember these quotes from the articles cited above: “There was a boom, a big fire and I was thrown backwards”; “A big fire came toward me, like in a dream”; “As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke”), let’s address them as separate issues, even though concussive damage (from an explosion) and heat damage (from a fire) often happen simultaneously. These three photos are all versions of ones shown earlier. The first one (17) (courtesy of Reihl World View) is an enlarged look at the inside of the ambulance. Notice how the gurney, and the light blue cloth on it, are completely fresh and untouched. The plastic seat covers are not melted. There doesn’t seem to be any smoke discoloration of any kind. The pieces of fabric hanging from the ceiling show no indication of being burned in any way (the one darkish piece appears to simply be material that was brown to begin with, not burned; the other pieces are all light-colored). The second photo (18) shows the floor from above. Again, no burn marks. The cables have not melted. The third picture, a small version of the Indymedia picture shown full-size above (19), is included here to demonstrate that the entire vehicle displays absolutely no hint of burning, scorching, smoke damage, or anything else that would indicate a fire had erupted inside or outside the vehicle. Conclusion: There is no evidence that the ambulance has been damaged by fire. Claim #4: FALSE. Claim #5: A man lying on a gurney inside the ambulance had his leg sheared off by the missile. For this claim, we can again rely on the same three photos shown immediately above. First of all, we already demonstrated that no missile ever penetrated the roof of the ambulance to begin with, so this claim is already facing serious credibility issues. But aside from that, is there anything to indicate that a missile cut off the leg of a man who was lying in the ambulance? Look once more at the gurneys in the picture on the left above. The front gurney’s cloth is unstained, and its frame is intact. The back gurney also appears to be undamaged. As Reihl World View says, “From the accounts, there was a man lying on one of the built-in gurneys pictured – his leg severed by the missile. So how is it that neither gurney shows any damage at all? What was this, laser surgery?” And as the pictures show, the floor seems to be undamaged as well. If a missile sheared off his leg, where did the missile go after that? And lastly: losing a leg is an extremely bloody affair. Where is the blood? If the injury happened as described, the inside of the vehicle should have been drenched in blood. But there is not one drop visible. Yet the ITV News video above purports to show evidence of the leg amputation. A picture flashes by very quickly as the narrator says “Two of the injured civilians in the ambulances received terrible additional wounds.” When the video is viewed online, the image goes by too fast to be seen clearly, but I managed to get a freezeframe screenshot of the scene [not shown in Investigate because of its graphic nature]. What ITV implied was an amputated leg on one of the ambulance’s gurneys appears, under closer inspection, to be a human hand on a stretcher that may or may not have anything to do with the ambulance in question. None of the accounts said anything about a hand being cut off. So what does this picture have to do
with the ambulance incident? Nothing, most likely. Even so, various videos and pictures show a man in a hospital who really does seem to have part of a leg missing. (A BBC video for example shows the three civilians supposedly injured in the attack, but the video only works sporadically for viewers not in the UK.) The journalists repeat uncritically the ambulance driver’s assertion that the man had his leg cut off by an Israeli missile as he lay in the ambulance. But what proof is there that this man’s unfortunate injury had anything to do with the ambulance incident? Might he simply have been a hospital patient whose injury was completely unconnected to the ambulance in question, but who was paraded before the cameras as a victim of an Israeli missile? Conclusion: Though there exists a man who indeed lost part of his leg, all evidence indicates that his injury did not take place in the ambulance and was not caused by a missile strike. Claim #5: FALSE. Claim #6: You’re analyzing the wrong ambulance, you idiot. What with all the debunking of the photos above, readers still determined to believe the original ambulance-attack story might think, “What’s going on here? Yes, your analyses may be valid, but how do you know this is even the right ambulance? These pictures obviously show that an ambulance was not hit by a missile strike – so you must be wasting your time analyzing the wrong ambulance.” That would be a convenient way to brush aside all the evidence shown above, but unfortunately this is indeed the correct ambulance. Many articles that specifically describe this incident use photos of ambulance #782 that are explicitly captioned as being the ambulance in question. For example, the Boston Globe article about the “attack” shows ambulance #782, with the three white blotches, and captions it “An Israeli airstrike destroyed the roof of this Lebanese Red Cross ambulance as even paramedics came under fire in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. (AP Photo)” Similar captions describing the exact same ambulance appear in dozens of other articles. And the distinctive code numbers, white blotches and other markings leave no doubts whatsoever that the ambulance depicted in all the pictures here is indeed one of the ambulances that the Red Cross drivers claim was hit by an Israeli missile attack. Furthermore, the “amateur video” (in the ITV News report) which was supplied by the Red Cross itself definitely shows the same ambulance. And that gallery of ambulance pictures by an independent Lebanese photographer confirm beyond all doubt that the ambulance depicted, now parked in front of the Tyre Red Cross office, is the same one involved in the incident, since the driver himself (21) is standing front of it pointing to the damage – and it matches all the other pictures from the other media outlets. And lastly: if this is the wrong ambulance, then why is it being displayed to the public as evidence of an attack? Where is the right ambulance? Why hide away the authentic evidence, and present obviously fake evidence? If there was an as-yet-unknown truly damaged ambulance, then the Red Cross workers would have shown it (or its remains) to the journalists. But they haven’t done so, meaning that the ambulance shown is all they have to offer. (22) Conclusion: The ambulance shown in all the pictures above is most definitely the ambulance that the Red Cross claims was attacked. Claim #6: FALSE.
22 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 55
25 56, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Claim #7: The ambulance driver who reported the incident was injured in the attack. The bandaged man in these pictures is Qasim Chaalan/Kasim Shaalan/Kassem Shaulan (his name is transliterated several different ways), the driver of the Tyre ambulance and the original source for most of the story. The image on the top (23) is a screenshot from the ITV News video cited above; the middle picture (24) is taken from the Los Angeles Times. He was filmed staggering into the hospital, and then later lying in a bed with large bandages on his chin and right ear. All the media reports state that he was injured during the missile attack. These photos were all apparently taken on July 24 or 25. Here he is again (25) six or seven days later, posing for a sympathetic Lebanese photographer after all the Western journalists had left. Notice how his chin is not only miraculously healed after a very short span of time, no kind of scab, scar or discoloration of any kind. The last photo also shows his chin to be in perfect condition. Since these photos are used to accompany two articles posted on the same Web site (www.justice4lebanon. wordpress.com/hard_news/archives/lebanon/000446.php) on August 1, in which the author describes seeing the driver and the damaged ambulance the day before, the pictures must have been taken on July 31. Note also that the second linked article states that he has “stitches” on his chin, indicating a deep wound. Does Qasim Chaalan have the world’s fastest healing skin? Or did he put on bandages as a prop to fool the foreign journalists? Lending credence to the “prop bandages” theory is this freezeframe from the ITV News video with Chaalan on the left side of the picture, showing his right ear when he first arrived at the hospital just hours after it was “wounded,”, before he appeared in the hospital bed the following day with a bandage on it. Yet, as the picture shows, his ear was not even wounded in the first place. Since both his chin and his ear seem to have suffered no injuries in the incident, the bandages served no medical purpose, other than to say, “Look, I’m injured!.” Conclusion: Either the ambulance driver had such a minor injury that it completely healed in a matter of days, or he was never injured at all. Claim #7: UNLIKELY. Claim #8: The Lebanese ambulance drivers are politically neutral and would have no motivation to lie. In this story from Inter Press Service News Agency, (www. ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34187) one of Chaalan’s fellow Red Cross workers had this to say: “As a Red Cross volunteer I need to be very clear that we are not political – we rescue anyone who needs help,” the 32-yearold Zatar told IPS. As a colleague unloaded bodies from bloody stretchers, Zatar said “whether they are civilian, a resistance fighter or an Israeli soldier, our policy is to help any human who needs help. But the Israelis seem to be attacking us now.” In the very sentence where he’s trying to proclaim his neutrality, he reveals his political stance: Hezbollah militants are referred to as “resistance fighters.” But perhaps that’s just one man’s opinion. It does not prove that all ambulance drivers, or all Lebanese Muslims, harbor a special hatred for Israel because of its supposed targeting of ambulances – does it? This photo (26) – taken months before the 2006 Israeli-
26 Hezbollah conflict even began – had the following caption: Beirut, LEBANON: A Lebanese man shows 18 April 2006 his son a model of the Mansouri ambulance, which was bombed on April 18, 1996 during the Israeli operation “Grapes of Wrath,” displayed in downtown Beirut to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the “Qana massacre.” The ambulance belonged to the Mansouri village, in the southeast of the southern port city of Tyre, and was carrying members of a family escaping the fight between Israel and Hezbollah when struck by Israeli planes. AFP PHOTO/RAMZI HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/ AFP/Getty Images) Imprinted on the national psyche of Lebanon is the first “Qana massacre,” which happened almost exactly a decade earlier. The supposed 1996 Israeli attack on an ambulance is considered such a significant event that a mock-up of the scene was displayed in the center of Beirut to mark the 10th anniversary. Could it be that – just maybe – the ambulance drivers of Tyre decided to re-create a duplicate Israeli ambulance attack to mark the anniversary of the first one, in the exact same spot (Qana) where it had happened ten years earlier? Significantly, this photo (27) of the original incident in 1996 purportedly shows a young dead girl in the wreckage of the ambulance, but the vehicle appears to have panel damage inconsistent with a missile strike and there is a ‘posed’ feel to the image. Conclusion: Ambulance attacks are (and have been for quite some time) highly significant to the Lebanese as symbols of national martyrdom. The ambulance drivers, who were apparently sympathetic to Hezbollah, conceivably could have staged the entire incident. Claim #8: UNKNOWN.
27 “if the entire incident turns out to have been an elaborate but clumsy hoax, where does that leave the reputation of the media? Not a single reporter or editor doubted the story for a second. Or if they did, they certainly didn’t inform readers of their doubts”
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 57
Conclusion: How a Hoax Became News
o, what really happened? The Lebanese and the global media insist that the ambulances were deliberately targeted by Israel, for the specific purpose of killing civilians and rescue workers – a serious war crime. Israel, for its part, has stated repeatedly that it never intentionally attacks rescue vehicles, but otherwise has stayed mostly silent about the incident, apparently awaiting further information. But what would the average reasonable person conclude after reading and viewing all the evidence in this article? What do you think is the truth behind this incident? This story, as presented in the media, seems to have more holes than the ambulance roof. Not a single aspect of it holds up under examination. But then what did occur? Consider the following scenario: Two ambulances that had been somehow damaged long before the July Israel-Hezbollah conflict even began, were dragged out of a salvage yard, where they had been rusting for months or years. They were taken to a parking lot and smashed up even more, inside and out. Then fresh gurneys were placed inside one of them. An intentionally amateurish video was then taken of the two vehicles, in order to show the damage. That night, as planned, some Red Cross workers feigning minor injuries rushed into a hospital in Tyre, and recounted a tale of horror: their ambulances had been attacked by Israeli missiles. The media was notified. The next day, reporters from around the world interviewed the ambulance drivers as they lay in the hospital sporting prop bandages. The one driver who spoke the best English was quoted the most in the English-speaking press. The journalists, however, were not allowed to inspect the ambulances themselves; instead, the pre-packaged video was supplied to them, freezeframes from which were used as illustrations to accompany the articles. Three patients in the same hospital were identified as also being victims of the attack, even though their injuries had actually happened elsewhere. Every single Western reporter accepted the ambulance drivers’ story without question. Emboldened by the media’s credulity, the drivers exaggerated the severity of the incident with each new interview, until it no longer even vaguely matched the staged evidence. The story was broadcast to the world, and accepted as fact. A few days later, after the Western press had wandered away to find other stories, the damaged ambulances were towed and parked in front of the Red Cross office in Tyre, as a martyrdom exhibit for the sympathetic local press and residents. Few if any mainstream journalists ever attempted to verify any of the claims made by the ambulance crews, despite the seriousness of the charge. Could it be that the entire incident is a fabrication? All signs point to “Yes.” 58, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
If so, the implications are enormous, both for the outcome of the war and for the credibility of the media. Most analysts agree that Israel was pressured into a ceasefire due to international outcry over how it was conducting the battle. The media informed the public that Israel was intentionally targeting civilians; the public insisted that their governments demand that Israel stand down; international pressure was applied, and Israel caved in. And of all the incidents decried in the media – taking out infrastructure, destroying Hezbollah-associated buildings that had not been fully evacuated, and so on – only the ambulance incident could be held up as having no possible military purpose; all the other attacks were pointed out by Israel as being intended to degrade Hezbollah’s ability to fight. Aside from a handful of stray missiles and accidents or misunderstandings for which Israel apologized, only this incident was “proof” that Israel was purposely aiming at noncombatants. So reports that an Israeli missile attack destroyed two ambulances played a role in shaping global opinion, which led to a ceasefire leaving Hezbollah intact. But if the entire incident turns out to have been an elaborate but clumsy hoax, where does that leave the reputation of the media? Not a single reporter or editor doubted the story for a second. Or if they did, they certainly didn’t inform readers of their doubts. Why did the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker? In their zeal to bash Israel, did they allow themselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be duped by Hezbollah supporters into broadcasting propaganda as news? Or is the media so eager to jump on any fresh scandal that they simply switch off their critical thinking and become absolutely credulous of any juicy tale thrown their way? It took the blogs and non-professional independent researchers to shine the harsh light of forensic analysis on this case, in the process debunking just about every aspect of the allegations. And this was done merely with the meager scraps of evidence left over by the “professional” journalists, and by squeezing the maximum amount of information out of the subtlest of clues. But if the journalists who were right there on the scene had even the slightest interest in actually investigating the story, they had access to all sorts of information that could have blown the lid off the case. How hard would it have been to go back to the Red Cross office after a few days to inspect the ambulance carefully in person? To look at the hole in the roof, to photograph the rust up close, to search for burn marks or blood on the gurneys, to notice the driver’s healthy chin? Wouldn’t that have been a scandal worth reporting? Is the media that gullible – or does it have a political bias? Either way, its credibility has now been lost. The full transcript, with linked photos, can be found at www. zombietime.com
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Mathematicians would argue that either the average wage has to increase or house prices will have to come back
All good things…
Peter Hensley’s concerns about the share and property markets continue to grow
lmost a decade has gone bye since the Governor of the US Federal Reserve, Mr Alan Greenspan came out and suggested that the stock market was getting ahead of itself. On 05 December 1996, he gave a speech at the Washington Hilton hotel and inferred that asset prices (read share market) could be reaching bubble-like proportions. The next day the market was down 5%. It then went on an uphill tear for another four years. It is just on two years ago when central bank governors of Australia (McFarlane), New Zealand (Bollard) and the United States (Greenspan) came out within three weeks of each other and warned that property prices in their respective countries were overinflated and individuals were exposing themselves to excessive levels of debt. They have been on a tear ever since. Using generally accepted valuation
60, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
principals, share markets around the world and especially the US are overvalued. The historic price earnings multiple for most markets is roughly 13. This P/ E ration is simple to work out. It is the price of a share divided by the company’s profit (earnings) that can be attributed to that share. It is a straightforward calculation and can be easily calculated for both individual companies and the market as a whole. Mathematicians are aware that it is difficult to fudge a P/E ratio. The price of a share is public information and is difficult to alter. The earnings figure however can be manipulated and analysts have been known to utilise a range of earnings figures which in effect reduces the P/E figure so that the market will appear to look less expensive than it really is. True P/E ratios are worked out by using reported or
trailing earnings. When a share market is overvalued (as it is now) analysts will substitute reported earnings with either core earnings or forward earnings. The effect of these variations on market valuations is better explained with an example. Remember that the long term average P/E for a market is 13. Using reported/trailing earnings the P/E ratio for the wider S & P 500 is currently 26. If the analyst used forward P/E’s the ratio comes down to 17. In 1982 the ratio (using trailing earnings) was 6. Another adage to remember is that markets can stay irrational longer than most people can stay solvent. History is full of examples to suggest that the market will move from overvaluation (P/E higher than 13) to under valuation (P/ E lower than 13). The unknown is when this might occur. Technically this process is known as ‘regression to the mean’ – the more common term is a Bear market. Share prices and stock markets attracted a lot of money in the late 1990s, well after the market was already fully priced. The P/E ratio for the wider US market approached 40. The new age of the internet added to the euphoria and merchant banks fuelled the investors demand by floating companies with flash names and zero earnings. In ratio terms the share market has since retreated from 40 in 2000 back to 26 in 2006. The bull market in shares in the late 1990’s introduced the concept of easy money to a swelling number of affluent baby boomers. Medical advances and a corresponding lack of wars and plagues has extended their life expectancy by
at least 20 years. Boomers know that in order to sustain their lifestyle through this extended retirement, they will have to seriously grow their asset base. The easiest way to do this is via capital gains. Capital gains typically come from shares and property. Early in the new century the plug was apparently pulled on the share market and so the boomers moved into the property market. The sheer numbers quickly saw demand outstrip supply and so prices then went through the roof. The average price for residential property has historically been approximately three times annual income. Has been for generations. At times it has lagged behind, other times it has gotten ahead of itself, overall it has always regressed to the mean of three. Currently the average is five. Over the past five years the average annual income has not moved, it is approximately $50,000. Mathematicians would argue that either the average wage has to increase or house prices will have to come back. When asset prices are over valued, many novices would argue that prices have to retreat dramatically in order for the his-
torical average to be maintained. This is not necessarily so. In respect to share prices, if one waits long enough, company earnings will increase over time which in turn will reduce P/E values to more normal levels. Similarly property prices may remain stable and wages may increase over time. The six most dangerous words in relation to investment are “But it is different this time”. It is different this time. There are more investors whose thirst for capital gains is keeping the market buoyant for longer than most participants thought possible. In order to extend this even further, merchant bankers have taken investment to entirely new level. In order to cater for the demand they not only created new products but they also created an entirely new market in which to trade them. This new market place has no restrictions or boundaries. Specialist hedge fund managers now trade derivative-based synthetic products and charge investors obscene management fees for doing so. Warren Buffet calls these products financial weapons of mass destruction.
In respect to property prices, again it is different there too. Baby boomers are accessing the wealth built up in their own homes and leveraging themselves by borrowing huge amounts of money. Because demand is out stretching supply, prices have increased. These price increases have fuelled the budding property magnates thirst for debt and allowed them to borrow even more money, thus further increasing demand and pushing prices even higher. Common sense suggests that these imbalances cannot go on forever. Economies and individuals cannot keep spending more than they earn. The circumstances may be different this time but as long as this globe keeps spinning in space asset prices will revert to their long term averages. At some stage in the future house prices will once again become affordable to the average age earner and p/e ratios will be counted in single figures. It will happen in our lifetime, just don’t count on it happening tomorrow. In the mean time, readers are encouraged to be debt free, conservative and to diversify their investments. History has shown that gold is good to own in times of uncertainty.
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NCEA – panacea or headache? Education expert Dr Len Restall Ph.D identifies some problems and offers solutions
he current National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), seen possibly as a world-beater within the corridors of education is not turning out to be the panacea for ills within education as it was first thought to be. It certainly has many features that commend it to students, teachers and parents but also leaves many disillusioned, particularly with students of good or above average ability. The heavier workload for teachers is not particularly enchanting for them and may be causing stress that must have some effect upon them maintaining standards required to support such a scheme. A discrepancy found within and between schools in internal assessment standards does not give room for confidence in accepting them, especially by outsiders to the scheme such as employers, parents, and educational authorities i.e. universities, polytechnics and tertiary institutions. In the United Kingdom several of the high prestige universities have resorted to conducting their own entry exams because they do not have confidence in their current ‘A’ level Certificate of Secondary Education exams. One serious comment made and given within a recent study on the NCEA said that teachers were inclined only to ‘teach to the test’ level required, which is not necessarily bad but will be inclined to operate at a superficial shallow level of learning for the students. Although this could be very suitable for some students, it will hardly satisfy or motivate the very able students. Possibly the major and most serious problem emerging within the NCEA programme is one relating to the age old one of motivation for high achieving students?
62, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
The axiom that one will satisfy their own desires with the least possible exertion is clearly seen with students having gained the required 80 credits early within their schooling. They are very likely to coast for the remainder of a school year and not improve or increase their learning to any substantial level, which could be detrimental in their example to other students. Also, there was not a sufficient incentive to achieve a merit or excellence level beyond the basic achieved standard. Bright students will recognise that the extra work will be required but may not be worth the effort and cause them to ‘slack off’ and they will find other thing to interest them, which may not always be educational things. Motivation is a major prerequisite for learning but is a concept not realised or completely understood by students and even by many teachers. It is a major causal factor for underachievement and one that I have majored in. I completed a B.Ed, M.Ed (hons) at Massey and a Ph.D at Curtin University, with much of my professional education in the field of learning problems and intervention methods to reduce, prevent or overcome underachievement, and have been offering professional development seminars for secondary school teachers: ‘In Pursuit of Excellence – Overcoming Underachievement’ based upon my teaching experience and academic research. Two major findings emerged from my research, which need to be recognised and acted upon: one, motivation was a major cause given by all the students involved in my research for their underachievement, and secondly, individuality or individual type was also found to be a significant factor. This was shown that certain ‘types’
are prone to underachieve more than others unless some intervention strategies were used. The possible reasons will not be covered here but are related to perception and judgement characteristics associated with individual types. You may find that there are some things you like to do and others you dislike, or you may find that you like learning on your own rather than within a group. Each of these two characteristics, for example, is related to a preferred learning style, and these are related to individuality. Whenever there is a mismatch, or a big difference between the teaching style and the preferred learning style then serious learning problems usually occur. If the teaching style does not suit your preferred learning style then a learning problem affecting motivation will occur – this will show out in the general attitude shown by the student towards the learning, which is called achievement motivation. Although my research was with senior science students identified as underachieveing, similar results could be expected within other subject disciplines. I had found earlier that achievement motivation, a process form, was highly correlated with achievement, which also was related to individual type. All types are capable of achieving if sufficient motivation exists within the student. All the students involved in my research did not know what was required, and thought this was the responsibility of the teacher, which is partly right but only in a transactional sense between them and the students. The present three scales for NCEA is likely to be a major cause for a drop off in motivation and it is suggested that either a 5 grade scale, similar to the UK ‘A’ level exams, be used or/and a percentage range
be used so that students could measure and compare their performance to other students. A student gaining a merit grade on the current NCEA and may be satisfied but not inspired to go further` or may not know how far away from an excellent grade he or she is. Alternatively if the present three grades were kept, then some relative performance within the grades to stimulate motivation to improve their position would be useful. It is also possibly a more useful measure that can be understood by parents or employers. Extrinsic, and intrinsic motivations are two forms with some important differences. These may be recognised as things external from the student acting as a motivator, or internal within the student being the motivator. Whenever you reward a person with something, you are
using an extrinsic motivator that will usually last for a short time, but when a person is rewarded inwardly by the sense of achievement by having gained something good or useful, or achieved something greater than previous, then their ‘self’ concept is rewarded, they will feel better and this will last for a much longer period of time. The NCEA criteria tend to affect extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation by the mode of approach to learning. There are three basic approaches to learning: a surface approach, in which students are directed towards selected details, which they are expected to reproduce accurately, a deep approach, and an achieving approach. Each of these approaches is progressively demanding but also likely to raise intrinsic levels of motivation. The
surface approach generally affects extrinsic motivation that is generally not longlasting, the result is being seen now in many students. This is a short account of some of the problem areas, but all is not lost. The Ministry of Education is very much concerned about the motivation difficulties and has completed a report on this aspect. The main thing is that somehow within the NCEA there needs to be ways to increase intrinsic motivation. Sure, some extrinsic form may need to be used first, but this is rather like using a plaster wound dressing to start the healing process and prevent further loss or deterioration. Let us look seriously for the means to prevent ‘headaches’ and promote good learning health within a potentially excellent examination scheme.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 63
Science wades into JFK conspiracy It’s the controversy that refuses to die, and as Betsy Mason reports, science has given new weight to conspiracy claims
ore than four decades after his death, John F. Kennedy’s assassination remains the hottest cold case in U.S. history, and the clues continue to trickle in. Now scientists at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory say a key piece of evidence supporting the lone-gunman theory should be thrown out. A new look at evidence gleaned from studies of crime-scene bullet fragments shows previous clues may have been misinterpreted. “It basically shatters what some people call the best physical evidence around,” says chemist Pat Grant, director of the lab’s Forensic Science Center. Grant and Livermore Lab metalurgist Erik Randich found that the chemical “fingerprints” used to identify which bullets the fragments came from are actually more like run-of-the-mill tire tracks than one-of-a-kind fingerprints. “I’ve spoken with people on both sides of the conspiracy divide, and there’s no
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question but that (Randich and Grant’s) work is going to be very difficult, if not outright impossible, to refute,” says Gary Aguilar, a San Francisco ophthalmologist and single-bullet skeptic who has studied the Kennedy assassination for more than a decade. “It looks impregnable.” The government’s claim that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed President John F. Kennedy spawned a vitriolic debate between conspiracy theorists and lonegunman supporters that rages to this day. In 1964, the Warren Commission, established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination, concluded that Oswald fired just three shots from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. The first missed entirely. The second passed through the president’s neck and into Texas Gov. John Connally’s body, entering under his right arm and exiting his chest, then splintering his wrist and wounding his left thigh. The
third fatally hit Kennedy in the head. Even though three bullets were involved, this scenario became known as the “singlebullet theory” because it requires the second bullet to account for all the nonfatal injuries to both Kennedy and Connally. The injuries to Kennedy’s neck and to Connally happened within a split second of each other. So either the injuries to both men came from a single bullet from Oswald, or from at least two bullets from more than one shooter. Oswald’s rifle couldn’t have fired two shots in such rapid succession. So for Oswald to be the lone gunman, it had to be a single bullet. Skeptics and believers alike say the bullets amount to the most important piece of physical evidence for the singlebullet theory. But Grant and Randich say the bulletlead analysis was faulty. Both are forensic scientists at Livermore Lab, but researched
The FBI claimed that like a fingerprint, each batch of lead has a unique chemical signature, so the specific amounts of impurities in a lead bullet could match it to other bullets from the same batch
the JFK case on their own time. Their work is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga. In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, the FBI analyzed five bullet fragments recovered from the limousine, the governor’s wrist, the president’s brain and from a hospital stretcher. The FBI used a technique known as “neutron activation” analysis to find the precise composition of the fragments. By determining the exact amounts of impurities in the lead, such as antimony and silver, they hoped to be able to tell which fragments came from the same bullet. In 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives formed an assassination committee to investigate the deaths of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. The committee called in nuclear chemist Vincent Guinn, one of the world’s foremost experts on neutron activation, to reanalyze the bits of bullet lead. Unlike the FBI, Guinn drew a very clear conclusion. He said the antimony in the fragments clearly showed they all came from two, and only two, bullets of the type used by Oswald’s gun, which supports the Warren Commission’s lonegunman theory. According to Guinn, one set of fragments from the president’s brain and from the limousine in front of the president had around 0.06 percent antimony, and all came from the bullet that killed JFK. The other set of fragments from the governor’s wrist and a nearly intact bullet found on a stretcher at the hospital had closer to 0.081 percent antimony and were pieces of the infamous “single bullet.” From evidence including the bullet lead, the committee concluded in 1979 that all three shots had come from Oswald’s gun. It did not, however, rule out the possibility of a conspiracy. In fact, it strongly suspected a second shooter was present that day, but according to Guinn’s data, any second shooter had missed the target. Randich and Grant’s study grew out of work Randich did in 2002 that exposed a fatal flaw in the FBI’s use of bullet-lead evidence to connect suspects with crime scenes in thousands of cases over the past three decades. The FBI claimed that like a fingerprint, each batch of lead has a unique chemical signature, so the specific amounts of impurities in a lead bullet could match it to other bullets from the same batch. Randich’s training as a metallurgist
told him there was something wrong with this reasoning. By analyzing years of data kept by lead smelters, Randich found that batches are not unique, bullets from different batches of bullets poured months or years apart could have the same chemical signature, and bullets poured from the start of a batch could differ slightly, but measurably, from those at the end. Randich has testified in about a dozen cases. Because of his work, courts now reject bullet-lead analysis, and the FBI no longer uses it as evidence. The JFK case has similar problems. According to Guinn, unlike most ammunition, the type of bullets used by Oswald happened to have highly variable amounts of antimony. Guinn says the variation between bullets of this type was so great that he could use it to tell individual bullets apart, even from the same batch of lead. Randich and Grant say that assumption is dead wrong. They analyzed the same type of bullets and discovered that within a single bullet, there is a significant variation in impurities on a microscopic scale. The range of concentrations of impurities in each bullet is large enough to make small fragments from different parts of the same bullet have very different chemical fingerprints. Some of the fragments in the JFK case are so small that the differences in antimony could be explained entirely by this microscopic variation, instead of by differences between bullets, they says. “There could have been two bullets, but the lead composition data shows there could be anywhere from one to five bullets,” says Randich. The bullet found on the stretcher is missing some lead, but not enough to account for all the other fragments. So there had to be more than one bullet, Grant and Randich say. Losing Guinn’s bullet-lead evidence is a major blow to the single-bullet theory. That evidence “knits together the core physical evidence into an airtight case against Lee Oswald,” according to a 2004 paper by Larry Sturdivan and Ken Rahn in an issue of Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry that celebrated Vincent Guinn after his death. “It is, thus, the key to resolving the major controversies in the JFK assassination and putting the matter to rest,” the paper says.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 65
The return of vinyl
Audio guru Don Lindich chronicles the reappearance of the turntable in the iPod age
hough many may think turntables have gone the way of the dodo in this digital age of CDs and iPods, nothing could be further than the truth. Did you know that last year more turntables were sold than in 1984, when the compact disc was only one year old and CD players were still very expensive? And that there are more makes and models of turntables available for sale new today than there were then? How can this be? For one, audiophiles never abandoned the format. Almost all purist audiophiles prefer the warm, natural sound of a record on a good turntable over digital sources such as CDs or music downloads. Others are rediscovering their record collections, and new enthusiasts are finding a treasure trove of great music on vinyl. This music spans decades of history and pop culture, and much of it that will never be available on CD. Many of these albums can be found at used bookstores and garage sales for less than a dollar apiece, making growing your music collection inexpensive and fun. And instead of a tiny plastic jewel case with an insert, with a record jacket you get a nicely sized piece of art, often
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with lyrics and information about the artists on the record sleeve. More and more new music is being issued on vinyl, as well as reissues of classic rock titles. At the Virgin Records stores in the U.K., vinyl outsells CDs 80 percent to 20 percent for albums available on both formats. Surprisingly, young people are discovering vinyl and helping drive the resurgence. A study done by David Hayes at the University of Toronto found many young fans collecting vinyl records. You can read more about the study at www. musicangle.com. Though most laypeople think the phonograph “needle,” correctly called the cartridge, is responsible for all of the sound quality, that is far from the truth. To get the most out of the cartridge the turntable must rotate the record smoothly and without vibration, and the arm must allow the cartridge to precisely track the grooves. It is far better to buy an expensive turntable with an inexpensive cartridge than vice-versa. If you have a fixed or limited budget, get a good turntable with an inexpensive cartridge and upgrade the cartridge later.
For a sample of a modern turntable I looked to Pro-Ject. Pro-Ject was founded in 1990 by Austrian audiophile Heinz Lichtenegger, who lamented the lack of high-quality, mid-priced turntables available at the time. Accidentally discovering a simple audiophile turntable in the corner of a factory in what was then Czechoslovakia, he knew he had found his manufacturer, and Pro-Ject was born. Pro-Ject is now the world’s largest producer of turntables and record-playing equipment, delivering a wide variety of great-performing, reasonably priced gear. The entry-level Pro-Ject is the Debut III, priced at NZ$499 including an Ortofon cartridge – a good choice for those looking to experience quality record playback without breaking the bank. Top of the line is the RM-10, which sells for $3,800 without cartridge. I tested the RM-5 turntable, in the middle of the line at less than a thousand dollars without cartridge. The RM5 has a modern, minimalist design. The plinth (base) is teardrop-shaped, with the thick inert platter conforming to the round shape. The tonearm is made of car-
bon fiber for light weight and stiffness. Fit and finish is excellent. A record clamp and two interchangeable mats, one felt and one cork, are provided. All in all, an attractive, simple and sound design meant to maximize sound quality. The suppliers provided their $449 Blue Point No. 2 cartridge for the test, claiming excellent compatibility with the RM-5. My experience bore this out. I used the RM-5/ Blue Point No. 2 in systems (speakers and amplification) ranging in cost from $1200 to $10,000, using recordings from a 1964 Disneyland choir recording and the 1971 MGM “Fiddler on the Roof” soundtrack, to records from Bryan Adams, Journey and The Fifth Dimension. The RM-5 quickly demonstrated how very good recordings and record pressings over 40 years old can be. No matter the record, the RM-5 made sound that was magical – clean, warm and natural, with powerful, defined bass and crystalline highs that were not too bright. The music emanated from a silent background, the system providing all the clarity, quietness
and impact one associates with CD, but with a far more natural, engaging and delicate sound. A British magazine said the RM-5 is “already becoming a legend.” I can see why. That the RM-5/Blue Point No. 2 system is available for under $1,600 total is quite an achievement and a testament to Pro-Ject’s high value equation. My only criticism has to do with the tonearm. The counterweight is a little hard to adjust and it does not have a stop, allowing it to rotate counterclockwise far past the armrest. I find that a bit disconcerting, though it does not affect playback. For some, $1,600 for a record player may seem like a bit much – but it’s not if you take a long-term view. It will provide noticeably better sound quality than a CD player and a good turntable will last decades, even a lifetime. In that time it will bring great musical enjoyment while allowing you to expand your music collection at very low cost, having fun while you do it, sampling music you may never have tried before.
Most people don’t think twice about dropping $1,600 for a laptop computer that will be obsolete and replaced in two or three years. The RM-5 will bring you enjoyment for decades. If the price of admission still seems steep, you can start with the RM-5 and an inexpensive cartridge to get your foot in the door and upgrade the cartridge later, or start with Pro-Ject’s excellent $499 Debut III to sample the vinyl experience. If you get bit by the bug, you can look forward to a cartridge or turntable upgrade as your record collection grows. Playing records requires a bit more investment in time and effort to keep your records clean, but the payoff is worth it. Besides the beautiful music, there is the fun of searching for records at garage sales, Real Groovy Books and Music (a great place for used vinyl), and specialty shops. It adds up to a rewarding, engaging experience. Don Lindich is the author of the Digital Made Easy book series and his passion is helping people get the most out of audio, video and digital photography
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 67
he triathlon, endurance, or multisport events, are making a dash for a mass, discerning audience. It seems 21st century upwardly mobile types are a bit fed-up with all that domestic rugby and league clogging up the sports channels, and can take or leave the Black Caps’ latest one day or test exploits. Sure they’ve got more than a passing interest in the all-conquering All Blacks. But the 30 to 55 year old set with spending power, and a few coordinated kids in tow, really crave the clean, green and healthy sport of triathlons. They like the idea of splashing through icy waters for 1500 metres – hopping on a bike in their wet togs for another 40k’s, then pushing their bodies to the limit with a 10 kilometre sprint to the finish line. There are plenty of role models and a sparkling international record to encourage them onto the course and back-up the growing optimism at Triathlon New Zealand offices. Medals aren’t just expected at this month’s World Championships in Switzerland, they’re demanded. It’s even a sport which where we can outshine the Aussies. No red-blooded Kiwi will ever forget that magical August night two years ago. Olympic hopes Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty featured early – showed their mettle during the punishing hill climbs in the cycling leg, then ran away from the pack in stifling heat to lift a remarkable gold and silver over their Athens rivals. It surely goes down as one of our overachieving nation’s finest hours on the global sporting stage. Carter’s easy going nature was a good fit for the Kiwi psyche as he brushed aside his previous failures at the highest level. At 35 years old, Carter’s considering his swansong, possibly at the Worlds in Lausanne. He’s still in fine fettle as proven by a recent victory in a top meet in Edmonton, Canada. The lure of defending his Olympic title in Beijing in 2008 must still be tempting. But the advancing years, family life and the swell of talented triathletes nipping at his heels may make up Carter’s mind. There’s no shortage of pretenders to his crown. Docherty’s a gutsy performer with plenty of gas in the tank. Still
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The rise and rise of endurance sports
It could be the new glamour sport of the decade, argues Chris Forster
only 29, he’s a former World Champion and multiple World Cup winner, including last November’s thrilling race in New Plymouth, as well as a silver medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March. The eloquent Kris Gemmell is another class act after a recent Canadian victory to go with a string of top ten finishes in World Cup events. Four times world junior champion Terrenzo Bozzone is finding his feet at senior level and is rated extremely highly by the decision makers at Triathlon HQ after a record-breaking romp at the Wildflower Half Ironman, in California. He’s a Rangitoto College student from Auckland’s affluent East Coast Bays –
prime territory for the sport’s bid for a bigger slice of the New Zealand sporting pie. The same college has sprung another star in the making, possibly with an even bigger future. She’s 17 year old Rebecca Spence – an intimidating physical presence - who’s aiming for an unprecedented three world titles across different endurosport disciplines. Spence followed up her World Junior Duathlon title in Australia with a stunning ride to gold in the time trial at the World Junior Cycling Champs in Belgium. The determined teen beat a bunch of budding European and American cycling specialists with a powerful ride on a testing course. The junior title at the world triathlon event in Switzerland would cap the hat-trick. Women’s elite
Carter’s easy going nature was a good fit for the Kiwi psyche as he brushed aside his previous failures at the highest level. At 35 years old, Carter’s considering his swansong, possibly at the Worlds in Lausanne. He’s still in fine fettle as proven by a recent victory in a top meet in Edmonton, Canada. The lure of defending his Olympic title in Beijing in 2008 must still be tempting Rangitoto College students Anna Hamilton, Rebecca Spence (centre) and Kate Mitchell, competing at world duathlon championships. PRESSPIX/Chris Skelton
stocks have never been stronger. Sam Warriner – the English-born 35 year old – is in career best form including a Games silver in Melbourne, a gold in the English WTU event, her seventh podium finish of the season. Debbie Tanner and Evelyn Williamson have also hit the headlines on international shores and there’s Andrea Hewitt. The 24 year old is a former under-23 world champion and dashed to a Melbourne bronze medal behind Warriner. Then there’s the epitome of guts and determination – Ironman Cameron Brown – who’s never going to give up on his obsession with lifting the greatest prize in the most punishing of any sport on the planet. You’d have to be a masochist to put your-
self through a 3 kilometre swim, 200 K bike ride and then a full marathon. But Cameron loves the challenge and a recent triumph in the highly regarded Ironman Germany has the 34 year old in pole position to finally conquer the uber-tough world event on Hawaii’s big island - Kona. Not a bad lineup. In fact you could say the future’s so bright you gotta wear wraparound swim goggles. No wonder the new CEO of Triathlon New Zealand is upbeat and talking expansion in the claustrophobic Kiwi sporting environment. He’s Dave Beech. A former commercial lawyer and businessman both here and in London, who’s dabbled in Ironman and Coast to Coast competitions, Beech is a highly motivated and successful young
father, who’s taken on the challenge of promoting a sport he sees as “a great fit with the New Zealand lifestyle”. He’s unlikely to be bogged down with his athletes getting in trouble with all night drinking binges, or the blight of professional sport ... performance-enhancing drugs. Beech’s boys and girls are ideal role models and bloody successful. No bloated egos looking to takeover the world. Even the once-cocky young Terenzo Bozzone’s settled into the humble Kiwi role model. No other sport, with the notable exception of New Zealand’s other major success story, rowing, can boast such world-beating results globally. Beech has cash in the bank to promote his wares too. Triathlon’s one of six elite sports reaping a share of an 11 million dollar high performance kitty from the Government-funded agency SPARC, alongside cycling, rowing, swimming, athletics and yachting. They’ve expanded from a two person budget operation to a nine strong organisation based in a brand new office in Newmarket. The new CEO’s been in the job for a couple of months and is relishing the challenge of a sport on the cusp of something special. “It’s always going to be a challenge competing with rugby, cricket and netball. But triathlon appeals to kids and their Mums and Dads – no matter what age. There’s tens of thousands of boys and girls taking up the sport around the country. Triathlon seems to the flavour of the moment”. Beech’s job is to take it the next level. His right hand man, chief operating officer Tom Mayo’s trying to get live coverage for ITU World Cup events and keep those elite athletes in the spotlight. But it’s teenager Rebecca Spence who’s recent world-beating enduro-sport feats suggest a legend in the making. Beech rates her a special talent, and he’s relieved she’s committed to triathlons rather than cycling, right through to the London 2012 Olympics. The seventh-former was poised and humble after her stunning ride to cycling gold in July. Her Mum and Dad travel the world to support her career and cheer her on from the sidelines. She also epitomises the clean, green and healthy image which make multi sport events and triathlons – a sport for modern Kiwis.
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Back to the wall
Claire Morrow’s guide to handling back pain
hey say you should not even consider marrying someone until you’ve seen them with the ‘flu. The codicil should read “if they ever hurt their back, it will be many times worse”. I – I will have you know – am an excellent patient. And I have hurt my back several times, mostly from lugging bad patients around. But nothing compares to the dearly beloved, who recently hurt his back and – I can assure you – suffered more than any other human being has ever suffered. Further, of course, he is not a believer in medical advice. Had he been he would have been in more pain, but probably for less time. Around 80% of people will complain of back pain severe enough to seek treatment at some point. By the time you add in neck and shoulder pain, headaches caused by pain referred from the back and people who have other medical conditions that incline them to live with back pain, it is a common condition and – as I have learned – poorly misunderstood. It’s not really a condition, though, it’s a symptom.
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The amount of pain isn’t even a great indicator of what the underlying cause is and – this may surprise you – the exact cause of the pain is often not found. It will normally go away. Now although I am a brilliant patient, and I am actually familiar with the usual treatment course for acute back injury, I must confess to a less than professional attitude when I had whiplash. I had sat stoically through the stitching up of my head (don’t ask), and was being perfectly reasonable, until I demanded that my dear GP hand over some Valium, and inform my husband that he was taking a day off work, because I was going to bed. She didn’t – ahem – respond in kind. She refused. Refused! I was shocked too. And I wouldn’t have been at all shocked if this advice had been given to anyone else, I can assure you. I am well aware that the best course of treatment for most muscle or ligament injuries is a combination of mild painkillers, movement, heat/cold packs and patience. I, however – in my
pain-addled self-centred mind – considered myself to obviously be in more pain than everyone else who has a sore back. Still, her foot was down. I took two panadol, saw a physiotherapist once and got gentle exercise without overdoing it. The pain went away. Eventually. Doctors – and also physiotherapists – are so militant about this “move it or lose it” approach because the advice used to be that you should rest in bed. But then, you used to get 10 days in hospital after you had a baby. 10 days! – They can’t have all been depressed. What do you do in bed for that long? Well, actually, if you stay in bed you usually get sicker. Muscles waste, tense, lose function. Mobility becomes impaired. And maybe a bedsore for good measure. The modern nurse is renowned for her lack of sympathy for the allegedly bedridden. The brutal truth is that early, gradual exercise is important. You don’t run the marathon the day after you hurt your back. But you don’t lie in bed either. This usually causes a small increase in
pain in the short term, and then you recover. People agonise and argue over whether to put hot or cold on it if it hurts and I suggest this general rule – swollen things and new injuries – ice, otherwise warm. Of course, I am not so wedded to this system that I request you to persist if you are uncomfortable. If you don’t like hot packs and find them ineffective, don’t use them. Likewise, no drugs are terrifically successful and all drugs have side effects, so you can take an over the counter medicine with anti inflammatory properties, or plain old paracetamol. Talk to your pharmacist. I would favour a gin and tonic and two panadol, myself. And time. Don’t over do it, don’t under do it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t whine. It doesn’t help. I suggest conjuring up bloody images of Joan of Arc. Think what fun it will be to regale friends with stories of your bravery. If the back pain lasts longer than 3 months, it is a chronic condition. About 10% of the time the cause is easily identified. Sometimes the cause is known, but cannot be resolved. There is increasing recognition that highly specialised tests can sometimes find a root cause for the pain, but – of course – not always. Not even usually. And you’d have to know which highly specialised test to run. See the problem? It is important for chronic back pain to be investigated, firstly to get the best possible advice – even if it isn’t great news – and secondly to rule out the small chance that there is a serious cause. Of course all pain is serious for the person experiencing it, but sometimes there is a degenerative or other condition that needs treatment. If there is no particular cause, for chronic pain – of all types – management, rather than cure – is usually the call. Willow bark, exercise, mild painkillers and massage seem to be the most effective treatments. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise – or massage – is prescribed, so far as studies have shown. Chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, homeopathy are all ineffective except when they stick to exercise and massage. Surgery is somewhat more effective, but still poor, Opiate analgesic is a last ditch call. Antidepressants often provide some relief, but not as much as you’d think. It is – frankly – most important that patient and practitioner understand that there will be some pain, and the aim is to make life livable, not to make the pain go away forever. It is also the sad truth that most of us will have some kind of mild chronic pain eventually. With age, the joints wear out, the muscles are lazy (if you let them), and some degree of aches and pains becomes inevitable. Management is important. Unsurprisingly, nurses and football players get arthritis earlier than – say – office workers. They do, though, cope a little better. But try to look after yourself. Bend your knees (not your back) to pick things up, don’t lift and drag things that are too heavy, get some kind of regular exercise, and see your doctor if you do get hurt. And don’t whine. Think Joan of Arc.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 71
The grass is greener Are lawn chemicals harming you? Marie Rohde investigates
my Joyce is a woman on a mission. Her crusade is to persuade friends and neighbours to stop using chemical lawn-care products that she says are hazardous to the health of humans and animals and destructive to the environment. Joyce is a co-founder of the Healthy Communities Project, an American group formed in 2001 to promote the cause. The group has worked with its local school district to eliminate the use of lawn chemicals and persuaded town officials in 2003 to stop spraying two small parks in tiny Whitefish Bay, Milwaukee. A small strip of grass in the middle of the main road has plunged Joyce and her group into a turf war that is being played out in other communities across the state, the nation and in neighbouring Canada. The battle: whether to use chemicals to get rid of those dandelions immediately or to naturally groom lawns with organic material and wait a few years for results. Not everyone thinks Joyce’s efforts are worthwhile. “I’m not for just using pesticides and herbicides,” says Jim Tylicki, who lives on Santa Monica Boulevard, directly across the street from the boulevards that he says contain more dandelions than grass clumps. “We just spent between $3,000 and $4,000 on landscaping, and those weeds are destroying it. If something else works, fine. But what they’ve done so far hasn’t worked.” Joyce is an advocate of corn gluten, a natural product that prevents seed germination, and is pushing Whitefish Bay to use the product on Santa Monica Boulevard. It doesn’t kill existing perennial weeds, however, and she recently rounded up a brigade of weed pullers to work on the boulevard. Joyce says corn gluten is only a part of a program that will restore the grassy public area to health and that the process could take up to five years to complete. She points to her own lush lawn as
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proof that it works and adds that the process will be cheaper in the long run, but not right away. “Whitefish Bay is a sidewalk community,” Joyce says. “That’s why we moved here. We breathe in these chemicals. We drag them into our houses on our shoes.” A hundred kilometers away, Dane County and the City of Madison adopted ordinances in 2004 banning lawn-care products that contain phosphorus. Brett Hulsey, a County supervisor and chairman of the county’s Lakes and Watershed Commission, says the ban was prompted by health and environmental concerns. “Three or four years ago, a young man died after swimming in a pond on a golf course that was filled with bluegreen algae,” Hulsey says, adding that the growth of the algae is associated with the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus. “Then two or three years ago, a dog died after getting in the same stuff. If a dog – an animal that drinks out of your toilet – dies after swimming in a lake, you have a problem.” Across the USA, those involved in producing and selling lawn-care products – they call themselves the green industry – dispute claims that lawn-care products cause health or environmental ills. Brian Swingle, executive director the Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, blames fertilizers used on farms and urban sprawl. “There are a lot of people out there who are activists and love the environment who have no scientific background,” Swingle says. “Phosphorus is in every living thing, and the problem is not coming from lawn fertilizers.” Several green-industry businesses filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Madison and Dane County bans and lost both at the district court level and on appeal. Joyce and others promoting the cause
cite studies correlating lawn chemicals with cancer, Parkinson’s disease and asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are concerned about damage to waterways caused by the chemicals. Harvey Bootsma, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has studied the outbreak of Cladophora algae that causes a stink along Lake Michigan’s shore, says phosphorus contributes to the problem, but the research tracking its source is incomplete. “We know agriculture is a source, but we’ve also seen an increasing phosphorus load in the Milwaukee waterways, and I’ve seen no good explanation for that,” Bootsma says. Concerns raised about chemicals in lawn-care products have prompted discussions of bans from Minnesota to Florida, notes Eileen Gunn of the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns in Washington, D.C. “What we’re seeing is a sea change in how people view lawn care. Even the lawncare industry is catching on and offering organic products.” Swingle acknowledges that major companies have begun offering organic options but says the move is driven by economics, not science. Most people still prefer the traditional chemical products, and they are not harmful, Swingle says. He adds that those promoting bans are “liberal zealots who are anti-science.” But Joyce is convinced that the evidence is in her corner and that people are catching on. “I can’t go anywhere without people stopping me to ask about it. I think we’re at the same place the people who were fighting Big Tobacco were at 25 years ago. Today, you’d be laughed at if you went out and said smoking doesn’t cause heart disease. We’ll get there. It’s just a matter of education.”
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EW ORLEANS – During his entire 22 years as a tour guide in New Orleans, no one ever asked Stanley Bergeron to go into the Ninth Ward, where many of the poorest residents of the city lived. Or Chalmette, or Gentilly, or Lakeview. Those neighborhoods are not the New Orleans that brought in about 10 million people a year for carefree crawling in a legendary historic quarter where tourists amble with open drinks in their hands. These neighborhoods are where people bedded down at night, every night of their residential lives. “I can’t think of a single customer who asked me to go to any of these neighborhoods,” Bergeron was telling 12 of us a few days ago, as he drove the van we’d boarded through the Ninth Ward, and Chalmette. And Gentilly. And Lakeview. We were on what is called, in the civilized parlance of travel brochures, the post-Katrina tour of New Orleans, or the recovery tour. I call it what it is: a disaster tour. It’s one of several offered here, and one of two I took after I rolled into town the other week, a typical tourist. Although I don’t think tourists are typical in New Orleans these days. Now, we all wanted him to go to these places – block after wrenching block of overgrown weeds and dark, windowless, waterlogged houses, where rescuers had axed through rooftops to pull survivors from floods that climbed past attic floors, where National Guard troops from across America had searched place by place for the living and the dead, leaving spray-painted markings to tell what they’d found. The watermarks represent both instant flooding and a whole year of tears. We were paying US$53 apiece, and Bergeron, in turn, was making a living showing people something he never dreamed would be on the list of New Orleans attractions. The van said Tours by Isabelle on the side panels. It’s one of eight vans that Isabelle Cossart owned a year ago today, two days before The Storm, which is how people here generally refer to Hurricane Katrina, swept over New Orleans. Cossart now owns two vans. She sold the other six to keep her tour business going in one of America’s great vacation and convention cities, where suddenly there were no tourists.
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Sober in the Big Easy
Travel writer Howard Shapiro discovers what it now means to tour New Orleans
The Storm swirled the water of Lake Pontchartrain, which we were riding alongside of. That water turned into huge waves that whirled through the city’s drainage canals and other waterways, crashing through levees, forever changing the place that Americans called the Big Easy. The city that relied so heavily on tourists now is begging for them. Hotels report that business is down 10 to 20 percent this summer, and so is the number of available rooms, with 37 of the city’s 140 hotels still closed. Each day, 177 flights land in the city, 59 fewer than what had been normal. In July, the loss of a music festival called Essence took 200,000 people with it. I booked a room at the lovely, upscale Omni Royal Orleans in the French Quarter for only US$303 over three nights – and that included my rental car. Here’s the strangest thing: The New Orleans that people always came here to visit is still here, either virtually untouched or already renewed from relatively minor damage. I had a good time in New Orleans over four days. I ate well. I heard fabulous music. I grumbled to
myself about the ridiculous August heat and humidity, but bopped around town nevertheless. Other tourists appeared to do the same, but not many. On a normal summer day, pre-Katrina, the city was never jammed because it’s low season in hot weather; nowadays, the season is lower than ever. Still, the place is irresistible, heat or not. I took a fascinating Gray Line walking tour of the elegant Garden District with six other visitors, and we ooohed at its graceful homes, which had mostly suffered minor damage and have been repaired. I took a French Quarter history and architecture tour – the Quarter holds the city’s essential history, having been under French, Spanish, Confederate and United States flags – and it was a freebie. As in Old City Philadelphia, part of New Orleans’ French Quarter has a National Historical Park, the tiny Jean Lafitte park, and one of its rangers, Danny Forbis, led 15 of us around. When we stood under a gazebo at the Mississippi River bank and Forbis talked
about our being on the city’s highest land – about 25 feet above sea level – I looked along the downward sweep of St. Louis Street, and for the first time I understood how New Orleans is built in a big bowl. I walked all over the French Quarter on my own and enjoyed its cacophony and smells and wrought-iron gentility, its architectural delights and the way it has of turning a crumbling, faded wall or rickety street into a piece of American history. I also enjoyed its lack of human crunch, even though a crowd gives the place its electric ambience. You could go to New Orleans today and party yourself silly, eating and drinking and dancing until you roll out of town, and never face the bleak reality of many of the city’s neighborhoods. But you cannot escape the constant signs and talk about what happened, and is still happening, here. Not more than five minutes into my rental-car drive from Louis Armstrong International Airport into the French Quarter, the disc jockey on WWOZ, the FM station devoted to the city’s musical cultures, was talking between cuts
about the blurry future for musicians who remain and the tourists who are not there to hear them. New banners hanging from lightposts proclaim “We’re jazzed you’re here”; they could have been up any time, but now they carry a deeper meaning. Other banners say “Louisiana – Recover, Rebuild, Rebirth.” Still others are divinely defiant: “He has risen and so will we” hung on the front of the disabled Pontchartrain Baptist Church on Old Hammond Road, in a devastated neighborhood. “In the city that care forgot, Jesus remembers,” announces one on a French Quarter church. The Storm remains the city’s leading and unavoidable news, popping off the front page of the Times-Picayune from honesty boxes. During my visit, there was good news (a national survey showed that Americans had not forgotten about those still struggling) and bad (the rate of return among those who evacuated is a trickle). The city’s population, about 480,000 a year ago today, is not much more than 200,000 by the most generous estimates. As a tourist, you’re likely to see signs of help without looking for them: high school students and volunteers from religious-based or social service groups gutting houses and pulling out the wreckage, and enough cranes and heavy machines that you can’t tell whether they’re for rebuilding or just everyday maintenance. I nearly dropped my camera as I strolled outside Riverwalk Marketplace, the enormous downtown shopping mall where business was slow. While I was focusing for a shot, a SEPTA bus came into view – donated by Philadelphia’s transit system, the sign on the side said, for the city’s efforts to revive. My first night, I noticed two T-shirts. One commanded “Make levees, not war,” and the other, on a bar bouncer, made me chuckle: “Rebuilding New Orleans, one drink at a time.” Funny, but close to true when it comes to tourism. Big conventions are returning at a crawl. In June, 18,000 nurses came, and this month, 16,000 psychologists. I always asked storekeepers or hotel staffers or barkeeps how things were going. Almost to a person, people said “slow,” adding something like, “but we’re coming back.” A few referred to the psychologists as if they’d been sent by God, not Freud. You can measure the destruction by the
figures you hear on the tours, generally the same as the statistics on official city Web sites, or from Homeland Security. Eighty percent of the city flooded; 160,000 homes destroyed or heavily damaged. And on. The most promising indicator of increased tourism for me came from Glenn Wild, headwaiter at the worldfamous Cafe du Monde, the airy French Quarter coffeehouse whose 144-year-old reputation rests on a $1.59 order of three doughnuts that are not doughnuts as we know them. Called beignets – no doubt you’ve feasted on them if you’ve ever been here – they are rectangular pieces of fried dough topped with about four tablespoons of sifted confectioners’ sugar, a funnel cake without any weave. Until The Storm, Wild said, the cafe was going through thousands of pounds of the sugar a month – and now the sugar order was on the rise. “I’m going to tell you a lot about that wicked storm that hit my city,” Sandra Smith was saying. “You will see more devastation than you’ll ever want to see in your entire life.” She stood at the front of a big Gray Line bus, and about 50 of us were aboard. The Hurricane Katrina Tour is by far the most popular on Gray Line’s city tour list, much scaled back these days. We paid $35 apiece, and $3 of that will go to a local charity we chose from a short list. Smith, a pleasant woman with good tour-guide gab, told us that “hopefully, we’re going to see a lot of progress out there.” To the first-time eye, it was hard to see much that could be called progress. As we rode, she told us her own story in bits and pieces, how she had left her French Quarter place and headed to the city’s highest ground, where I’d been standing with the park ranger on the French Quarter tour. And how troops had evacuated her and others from their makeshift encampment, to Houston. When our big bus began cruising the main streets of the deserted neighborhoods – it was far too large to go down the smaller cross streets, where there was also little sign of life – she pointed out some houses of people she knew, or knew about. I was unprepared for the vastness of it, and other people commented that they were, too. As I looked at this sadness and wondered how these neighborhoods could ever rebuild, Smith addressed my question in a startlingly concise way.
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“You come back to your house,” she said. “You look down your street. Every house is a wreck, like yours. The weeds are high, all over the place. And you look around, and it’s totally empty. You’re the only one around. What are you going to do? Are you going to be the only person living on your whole block or for blocks around? Are you going to come back? Are you going to walk away? These are decisions that people have to make, right now.” The next day, Stanley Bergeron’s tour was a bit different. His van was small, and he could get through places the big Gray Line bus could not. Unlike the big tour, we went into the worst-hit Ninth Ward. (Worst-hit is a matter of perspective. Everything destroyed seems worst-hit.) Taking both tours, I found I was seeing most major neighborhoods of grief. While the tours are drawing money for their operators, it was also clear that Bergeron and Smith wanted people to understand the terrible predicament their city is in – and see it through their eyes. Bergeron’s boss, Isabelle, had called him daily for weeks to get him back to work, and on this tour. “She said, ‘If we don’t try to explain to people what happened, who will?’ I thought it would get easier, doing this tour. I’ve been doing it about eight months. And it does not get easier.” I couldn’t quite figure out the other part of this equation: Why do people want to take the tours? If you’ve ever been to the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, in Italy, frozen in time when Vesuvius erupted all over it 1,927 years ago, you know the eerie feeling of seeing a place where life ended, just like that. But a lot of digging has been going on over the centuries to reveal Pompeii’s ancient mysteries. In New Orleans, those shattered homes and shattered lives could have been yours. I asked Bergeron why people were taking the tour. He didn’t seem to think it had anything to do with morbidity or sensationalism. “Maybe curiosity. Understanding, too,” he said. “The analogy I use is a car accident. Nobody really wants to see a car accident. But if you’re on the highway and you pass by one, what do you do, automatically? You slow down. It’s there, and you want to see it. You want to get a feeling for it.” It seemed right. We are all rubberneckers. This may make us drive more carefully on a rush home. It may not. Along those lines, both tour guides mentioned, as we looked out onto the desolation, that we ought to go back and check our home insurance policies. Smith asked us to tell our friends not to forget New Orleans; Bergeron asked us to tell our legislators not to forget. Back in the comfort of the French Quarter, Bergeron told us that when tours ended, “I used to tell people, ‘I hope you had a good time.’ I don’t do that no more. I don’t expect you to have a good time. I don’t have a good time.” Once home after the trip, a strange feeling came over me. The oysters, the jambalaya, the seductive embrace of clarion trumpets and sexy saxophones and drums that made me unable to keep my body from swaying, and all those beautiful gates and framings – they were in the back of my mind. In the front were the shambles of totaled homes and boarded-up shopping centers I saw on the two tours, a total of almost seven hours riding amid the ruins of New Orleans. I was in awe of the human spirit, of which the city has plenty, and which makes itself understood: We will fix this!, it declares. Even so, I got the feeling that the only way to fix much of it will be wholesale demolition. It took me a day back home to realize that something happened to me in New Orleans that was unimaginable for tourists traveling there only a year ago: I had come home depressed.
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In association with
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 77
Another Aussie icon…
Michael Morrissey catches up with shark hunter Ben Cropp
hen veteran Australian diver Ben Cropp saw, photographed and rode atop his first whale shark in 1965, he had an almost conversion type experience. The largest shark in the sea, over 40 feet long with a six foot-wide mouth, was found to be harmless and docile. He admits the size of the animal’s mouth made him a little wary. Up until then he had been a shark hunter. Following a three page fold out in National Geographic and the feedback from a world hungry to know about the docile monster, he decided to hunt sharks with a camera instead. “The trouble with hunters is they don’t stop long enough to learn about the creature. You have no bond because he’s a target – a bit like war,” says Cropp. Once he started filming with a camera, he spent a lot more time with his “target” and started to like it better. In India, back in the 1940s, the famous Colonel Jim Corbett who used to shoot man-eating tigers and leopards, went through a similar change of heart – trading in his rifle for a camera and becoming conservation-conscious. As Cropp says, “The more you know an animal the less frightening it becomes.” Forty years ago, he and other divers would swim with great white sharks then called white pointers. He said he never really trusted them as they hung on the periphery of vision as though watching him. An unnerving experience, he says. Nonetheless, no great white was ever aggressive to him. Despite this, he, like so many world-wide, was partly affected by Jaws. Thereafter, divers were filmed observing the great whites from cages and a “big deal” was made when they came out of the cages and swam with them.
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Soon after the shark media frenzy of Jaws, an American TV promoter offered him a million dollars to be filmed hunting and killing one. As Cropp had quit shark hunting ten years earlier he turned own the offer. He said no once, then twice but on the third time began to weaken. Other hunters were offering to kill a shark for half or quarter of a million or even $50,000. Cropp’s girlfriend was OK with the deal but his mother wasn’t – “Are you sure you want to do this, Ben?” The SPCA and even the Wall Street Journal came out in opposition. At the eleventh hour, he used the excuse of a burst eardrum to get out of the deal. The upshot was, the promoter died and the shark lived. “There’s got to be a moral in that,” says Cropp wryly. Though most of the time sharks will ignore you if you ignore it, some sharks will confront you rather than come up
from behind, Cropp observes. “But if they become agitated – and you can see that by the way they bend their fins up – then you should back away keeping your eye on the shark. Don’t turn and run.” Cropp has used a camera or flippers to ward off an aggressive shark but says that any sudden movement will generally turn a shark away. “If one does grab you then you may wind up fighting for your life – kicking, hitting.”After thousands of shark encounters, Cropp has never once been bitten. Though he has not been shark-bitten he has been box jelly fish-stung – voluntarily. In his book Blood in the Water, he describes how once stung he tried out the so-called treatment of the day – methylated spirits and vinegar. Nowadays he writes, “we know meths make the jellyfish sting worse and the vinegar proved ineffective against the pain which lasted 20 minutes”.
He also tried the Aborigine treatment of crinum lily juice but was unable to master the knack of getting the juice from the plant. It all “made for good television.” He believes that the current practice of de-finning, killing one hundred million sharks a year – which far exceeds the number of sharks killed by fishing, hunting, meshing or sport – will have an impact on the world shark population at large. Cropp estimates he has made 150 films over 45 years – an enormous achievement which puts him in the same league as his principal hero Hans Hass who first inspired him. In 2000,. Cropp was invited to the Cayman Island to be inducted into the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame, joining such aquatic giants as Jacques Cousteau, Lloyd Bridges, Ron and Val Taylor and, of course, Hans Hass. In the early days there was no scuba, or snorkelling gear – Cropp’s first ten years of diving were done without such equipment. Instead, he improvised masks using the inner tube of a motorcycle tyre, cut some glass to see through and held it together with a copper strip. Besides diving and swimming with sharks, Cropp has been an eager explorer of shipwrecks. He estimates he has discovered over 100 but not one has yielded a treasure trove of any size. He considers the discov-
ery of the HMS Pandora, Australia’s oldest east coast shipwreck, the most significant. The Pandora was sent from England with the aim of capturing the 14 Bounty mutineers still on Tahiti but ran aground on a coral reef in Torres Strait. Cropp, has been three times married and has two sons who dive and film with him. He has no plans to retire. He can still out-spearfish younger divers and intends to keep it up until he is “too doddery”. It does not appear that will be any time soon.
Photos copyright Ben Cropp, from Blood in the Water, RRP $39.95 published by Park Street Press, distributed by Southern Publishers. First photo: Tiger shark Second photo: Whale shark with Adam Cropp Third photo: Ben Cropp
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 79
Wombat proof fence
Eli Jameson on the hunt for black gold – Tasmanian T – truffles, that is
uick: what has a fierce pong about it and can sell for as much as $1000 per kilogram? Not crack cocaine, petrol or even printer cartridge ink; the substance in question is the truffle. The ugly duckling of the food world, ranging in size from 2 centimetres in diameter to larger than a grapefruit and covered with black warts, truffles have an outward appearance that conceals their true value. In ancient times the Romans and Greeks thought that truffles had aphrodisiacal properties – though in all fairness it should be said that the Romans and Greeks might not have had the best understanding of cause and effect. In writing well over a dozen of these columns and researching one or another ingredient, it is not long before one finds out that just about anything that grew in the Mediterranean was once considered Viagra for the toga’d set. Brillat Savarin, who still shows the way through the ages on so many matters culinary, described the French black truffle as “the finest of the edible fungi and has a place in gastronomy alongside saffron, caviar, foie gras and the finest of wines. Widely considered as the jewel of French cooking, prized for its unique flavour and intoxicating aroma”. Confirming the ancient Greek and Roman wisdom on truffles, Brillat Savarin
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also said they aroused “erotic and gastronomic memories among the skirted sex, and memories gastronomic and erotic among the bearded sex”. Truffles are, in fact, mushrooms, the most highly sought-after mushrooms in the world. Considered a great delicacy, they come in black and white varieties, with the black ones being preferred for their delicacy and white ones often being served uncooked – such as shaved over pasta. It is very difficult to describe the taste of truffles without veering into the sort of language that makes aficionados of first-class Burgundies and pinot noir weak at the knees even as it puts off other punters. (I once overheard, in a specialty wine shop, a $90 bottle of New Zealand pinot enthusiastically described as “a great wine – wonderful cow dung smell!”) Suffice it to say that they are earthy and heady and one of the most powerful and unforgettable flavours one can experience. And their redolence is transferable: some chefs put a truffle in with their arborio rice, thus infusing all future risottos. One of the most incredible plates of pasta I have ever had was at Buon Ricordo in Sydney. A bowl of fresh fettucini in a simple cream sauce is presented to the table, crowned by a fried egg which has been infused with truffle. Mixed through the pasta it is one
of the most delightful dishes I have ever had the joy of tasting. Although truffles are legendary for their resistance to cultivation, it can be done. At the moment virtually all truffles come from Europe, specifically France and Italy. They grow under the roots of oak trees, and over the centuries pigs and dogs have been trained for their ability to find the expensive tubers. But Europe’s monopoly – like so many other things from the Continent – on truffle production may be coming to an end. The Chinese are reportedly figuring out how to grow truffles, though whether these efforts amount to anything or simply suggest another attempt by that country’s notalways-scrupulous entrepreneurs to make a buck by ripping off the cachet of Western luxury goods remains to be seen. Closer to home the Australians are beginning to have luck growing truffles. Over fifty truffle plantations have been started in recent years across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, where the cool climates and terrain mimic that of European regions like the Perigord where the most famous and valuable truffles in the world come from. The BBC recently took a break from its steady diet of Israel-bashing to run a heartwarming report about Duncan Garvey of southeast Australia and his truffle-finding dog, Pickles. On a plantation (appropriately named Perigord) in the southern highlands of New South Wales, a couple of hours outside Sydney, Garvey has seeded the ground around 500 trees for truffles and in his first harvest has reaped around 6 kilograms of truffles. In August, the first-ever consignment of Australian truffles was exported from his farm to a small gourmet restaurant in Tokyo. According to Garvey, it is not just his dog who has a nose for truffles. Local wombats have become enthusiastic competitors for his crop, forcing him to eventually electrify a fence built around the plantation. But as he told the BBC, the “bloody wombats were getting in over the fence...we had no idea they could climb.” In our part of the world truffles are hard to come by. Fortunately various truffle oils, butters and sauces exist to add that extra bit of luxury to dishes such as pastas and risottos. But thanks to the efforts of Garvey and Pickles, the real thing could be coming to local tables sooner rather than later.
Soft potato ravioli with truffle pan sauce
100 grams truffle butter 2 tablespoons minced chive
per to taste and beat to combine. Cover and set aside.
This deceptively elegant recipe from American chef Charlie Palmer’s Great American Food is a great way to incorporate the taste of truffle at home without breaking the bank...too much.
1. Combine stock, onions, celery and carrot, and one clove of garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve.
3. Make the ravioli by pressing together a tablespoon of filling between two circles of pasta, sealed with beaten egg. Do not overfill! You should be able to make about 25 large ravioli from this recipe, making a great starter course for four.
You’ll need: 4 cups chicken stock 1 cup onion, celery and carrots, diced 3 peeled cloves of garlic 2 pounds brushed potatoes 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion 100 gram soft goat cheese 2 tablespoons minced parsley 2 tablespoons flour 2 large eggs 4 sheets fresh pasta, your own or store bought (gow gee wrappers can be used in a pinch)
2. Peel and dice potatoes. Place in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover over medium-high heat. Add the remaining cloves of garlic, the chopped onion and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until very soft. Drain well. Run the flesh of the potato through a masher, Moulinex or whip and mash until very smooth. Add goat cheese, parsley and salt and pep-
4. When you’re ready to cook, bring a pot of well-salted water to the boil. Return reduced stock to medium-high heat in a wide pan, stir in truffle butter, bring to the boil and take off heat. Drop the ravioli in the water and after a few minutes strain and add to the sauce. Plate ravioli in individual warmed pasta bowls and drizzle with sauce from pan. Garnish with chives.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 81
Dead men’s tales
Michael Morrissey on the new New Zealand novels JOHN TOMB'S HEAD By Stephanie Johnson Vintage, $27.99
ike the famous film Sunset Boulevard, Stephanie Johnson's seventh novel opens with a posthumous narrator, namely the hero, or variously antihero, John Tomb – a dead sailor with many ancestors whose moko-ed head is to prove a skull of hot contention. The posthumous narrative voice, all seeing and hauntingly omniscient, allows Johnson to use a 18th/19th century tone interestingly at odds with her “normal” sharply satiric contemporary voice which in turn is often relieved by lashings of deft description. Johnson's multiplicity of characters, which it is possible in part to read as a wicked roman a clef – though satiric exaggeration prevents any template too precise – reminded me of Aldous Huxley's Point Counterpoint, which took a biting look at the Bloomsbury group. Though a lesser creation, John Tomb's Head evi-
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dences a rich palette and its 265 pages are so crammed with character and incident that it feels like a larger work. The plot is a complex labyrinth which in the latter half of the book tends to run away with itself. Two kidnappings seems somehow one too many and they also bring to mind the kidnapping of Mervyn Thompson which Johnson has already utilised in her earlier novel The Shag Incident. Petra Poleman-Craik, spoilt, vixenish teenage daughter of deepvoiced Prime Minister Frances Craik and handsome architect Ian Poleman, is one of the kidnappees and her abduction disappointingly occurs off stage. Historian Keith McNair's kidnap is successfully presented to us and puts new meaning into the phrase put a sock in it. The militant English descendants of Tomb who ambush McNair are a dotty fanatical lot reminiscent of animal rights activists. The novel is at its most lively when they on are stage but oddly, somewhat more tame when mildly roguish Ministry of Maori Affairs Cliff Punakaiki, ex-jail bird Jerome Rua
and Erurea Royal, master carver come into focus. In particular, Frances Craik and Cliff Punakaiki could have benefited from a more in-depth treatment. I grew fond of frumpy art patron Marnie FarrellHaig and was sorry (almost) when she shuffled off her mortal coil. Though I was entertained and informed – the text is peppered with worldly-wise references – I had the feeling there were too many characters and the plot was too complex. The consequence is a rollercoaster effect with some of the characters being too thinly treated. Like John Tombs, are they all talking heads? Perhaps this novel should have been 465 instead of 265 pages. In general, for economic reasons, New Zealand publishers shy away from larger novels and this one could have benefited from being allowed a broader canvas. Thus said, this is a showcase for Johnson's superbly waspish style which keeps both reader and – who knows? – even the subjects satirically baited (many of whom are household names) – on their
toes as well. Despite some flaws, this is probably our finest satiric work to date and will stir controversy over the heated topics it so bravely engages – which is all to the good.
THE SOUND OF BUTTERFLIES By Rachel King Black Swan, $27.99
nce upon a time the typical New Zealand novel featured sweaty bushmen in black singlets armed with chain saws. Not any more. Today's “New Zealand” novel is not infrequently set in some exotic locale and there's not a whiff of shorn sheep or any such local icon. This current wave of international novels has seen the likes of The Transformation (19th century Florida) by Catherine Cambridge, The Curative (18th century England) by Charlotte Randall and Brilliance (19th century America) by Anthony McCartney. All of these books have been favorably reviewed in this column and the latest – Rachel King's debut novel – is also impressive. The Sound of Butterflies is set in 1904 in Manaus, a river town in deepest Amazonia. Manaus was one of the most scintillating of those far-flung colonial outposts which sought to rival the metropolises of the mother culture from which they were spawned. Here, amid exorbitant luxury – horses fed with champagne, an opera house to rival Milan, dirty laundry sent to Lisbon – rubber baron Jose Santos rules by terror and mutilation. Against this horribly colourful backdrop, the drama of
the novel is vividly played out. The stage is initially set by the arrival back home of lepidopterist Thomas Edgar, whose obsession with finding a specimen of Papilio sophia, a giant multi-coloured butterfly, has driven him to far regions. It has also (apparently) made him mute. A shell-shocked victim who cannot speak brings to mind the small girl in Them!, a film about giant mutant ants, but in Edgar's case, it is eventually revealed that it is his conscience that is troubling him. The counterpoint of long-suffering Sophie trying to get her husband to speak pales against the exotic splendors of the Brazilian jungle – but the two plots nicely converge at the novel's climax. The emergence of the ruthlessly cruel though superficially charming and cultivated Santos is effectively delayed and I was reminded inevitably of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, Conrad's famous and somewhat over-rated novel which has become a de rigueur point of parallel for recent cinematic or fictional explorations into remote tropical locations, with dastardly villains ruling sinister empires like an evil god. Two outstanding features of this novel are its skillful deployment of butterfly imagery on several levels and its gripping forward-moving narrative which puts most New Zealand novels to shame in this regard. In other words, The Sound of Butterflies is a rattling good read, devoid of feminine fripperies and that bete noir of much New Zealand writing, political correctness – but then Ms King used to be bass guitarist in several rock bands – a possible factor in her no nonsense approach to writing? My only reservation is a feeling that the denouement was slightly rushed and a wish that Santos' demise ought not to have been off stage. To cap it all, King pulls off that difficult feat, a successful happy ending. Her future as a writer, looks bright.
SHANGHAI BOY By Stevan Eldred-Grigg Vintage, $27.99
ldred-Grigg is a distinguished social historian and much published novelist. Oracles and Miracles was a best seller and is regarded as a classic. I have reviewed some of his history books favourably but this is the first novel of his that I have read. Though Shanghai is often portrayed as
a glamorous city – especially in the roaring 1930 of the International Settlement – this isn't the case in Shanghai Boy. Far from the “downtown techno-skyscrapers”, in the area where Manfred Morse teaches English, there are “solid, gritty apartment blocks, crammed between gritty streets filled with petrol and diesel fumes – the pavements slippery with gobs of spit -”. “The creeks once “yellow with silt” are now “black with shit and industrial toxins”. Morse's dark view of urban Shanghai is reinforced by another character Sissy's observation, “The city is miserable, with the crowds of cold tired strangers”. The streets are like a “dead desert”. Later we encounter “acid rains”, “an overflowing sewer”, and more “dirty streets”. And so on. Almost a relief, one would think, to contemplate towers that are “fanciful fifty storeys of retro art Deco, topped with the scallops and volutes of thirties Manhattan” or “space probes for a robotic mission to Mars”. But postmodern architecture isn't enough to lift Morse's spirits. Like so many men, in such a depressing zone, he is ripe for an affair. In the case of Morse, it is to young men rather than young women that he is drawn. In contemporary China, such a relationship is criminal and he is quick to deny such a link. Indeed, at the time of his denial, he is innocent of any involvement though his roving eye has been noted by his students. Morse tells us on page 20 that the local police “are not known for kid gloves, though they are known for cattle prods”. And electric shocks to vulnerable parts of the body. So illicit involvement is likely to be severely punished. Morse's isolation, desolation and feeling of failure are ambushed by a young man who develops a crush on him. Despite the risk, a sexual relationship develops. At this point, well on in the narrative, the writing moves into the realm of gay porn and the style is at a far remove from the more elegant phrasings of (say) an Alan Hollinghurst. To counterbalance the steamy sexual passages, there are ample flashbacks to Morse's ailing father. Alas, my interest was not overly engaged by either strand of narrative – except that both emphasize the central character's unhappiness and feeling that life for him is rather like a suburban Shanghai street – grey, grim, gritty etc. Shanghai Boy is successful at de-glamourising flashy contemporary Shanghai but I suspect it is not
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Eldred-Grigg's best work. Nonetheless, I look forward to future novels with interest.
THE IMAGINARY MUSEUM OF ATLANTIS By Jack Ross Titus Books, $27.95
ired of airport books? Bored by Tom Clancy and Dan Brown? Wearied by puerile web sites? Seeking a challenge? Try a “novel” by Dr Jack Ross. I use quotes here because rather than a novel with identifiable characters, a plot, realistic detail etc this is an assemblage, a collage of texts of the most extraordinary variation. Ross's method variously reminded me of Borges, Eco and Nabokov though he pushes the boundaries of the avant garde further than any of the above – further also than the reviewer who enjoyed something of a reputation as an avant gardist back in the 80s. Like Borges, Ross seems to have read everything and among many other sources draws on neo-New Age writers like Ignatius Donnelly – who almost as much as Plato – put Atlantis on the map. Plato, one might argue, has either invented the greatest fiction in history or now that his original siting of Atlantis is much doubted – unwittingly set us the most engaging archaeological puzzle of all time – the precise location of Atlantis. By implication, we are invited to re-locate it among Ross's erudite pages. And where better to look than on an un-numbered (naturally) page located – depending on your perspective – near the front or the back of the book which lists some 29 aspirant geographic claimants for the true Atlantis. Using Cartesian logic (hardly Ross's bag), 28, or indeed the entire 29 of these must be in error – or can Atlantis exist in more than one space-time continuum? Such might be the muse that tickles Ross's imagination for there is much about time travel here as well as a potpourri of historical and geographic texts. Atlantis, it may be remembered was a Utopia, supposedly the first and grandest, and in its disastrous wake has come Mu, Lemuria and other such fabled semi-continents – written of by James Churchward – and, naturally, noted by Ross. In case any one reading this doesn't see too much of problem with comprehension thus far, have I mentioned that half the book is printed upside down? In
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other words, you can read this book in several different ways. Just how many is anybody's guess. Obviously, you can start from the front (“front”?) and read through the right hand pages, while noticing out of the corner of your eye that the left hand “hieroglyphic” is merely an inversion of type. You can read it a page at a time turning the book on its end as you go, or read it backwards first. Or open and read at random, whether trying to follow a footnote (another maze) or not, as the case may be. In other words, if you have the kind of mind that enjoys cryptic crosswords, codes, and esoterica, this book can keep you busy for hours. Better make that days, weeks, years. Ross's book won't be for everyone but it's more than challenging. You might think of it as The Atlantis Code – with footnotes.
26.2: MARATHON STORIES By Katherine Switzer and Roger Robinson Allen & Unwin, $40
rom the original marathon from Athens to Sparta in 490BC to today's marathons – often attended by tens of thousands of runners – the fabled race has become one giant step for a man (or a woman) and one giant stride for mankind. Though fanaticism often produces an evil result, the health and spiritual improvements experienced by these “fanatics” who run marathons can only be for the general good. The authors – both dedicated runners of distinction – write of the joyful tears, the almost mystical feeling of well-being that accompanies the conclusion of a marathon. Which is just as well when the aches, pains, exhaustion – the now famed “Wall” – take their toll. While the inner feelings are obviously the most powerful for the individual, the outward expression of the crowd can be spectacular too. The first winner of the revived marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896 – Spiridon Louis – tasted the fruits of victory to the full – “Nothing could diminish the zeal for Spiridon. It was national ecstasy. He was showered with gifts that included meals, clothing, haircuts, jewels, watches, a sewing machine and from the King, a new horse and cart for the water-carrying business.” This epic race also graphically illustrated the folly of running too fast too soon. Albin Lermusiaux, of France, “his white gloves twinkling”, surged into the
lead by almost two miles, stopped half way for a glass of wine and announced that he would win. A few miles later, he collapsed and never finished. In all probability, the cocky Frenchman hit what has become known as the Wall. The term refers to the phenomenon that commonly occurs around 20 miles – “A kind of grey pain spreads from the legs up until the whole body stings and aches and becomes enfeebled. There is mutiny of the legs – they stop running of their own accord”. So the runner is suddenly walking. What happens is the glycogen stores dwindle and there is a painful energyless gap before the body switches to burning fat. It's at this cruel time that the will, courage and the training of the athlete must be called upon to keep going. Whereas marathon runners of the past might become heat-exhausted or suffered painful blisters, today's runners are much better trained and equipped. The latest product to help them run more easily and efficiently being a computerised shoe that adjusts the sole to different foot strikes – some 50,000 being made while running a marathon. Marathon running is now conducted in every quarter of the globe – in such inhospitable regions as the Sahara, Death Valley and (almost) incredibly at the North and South Poles. In a time when the efficacy of the United Nations is sometimes questioned, the international marathon increasingly looks like a potent force for international good will, unity and even peace. As the authors enthusiastically write, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go and watch a marathon”. Better still – after suitable training – take part. The gradual entry of women into the rigors of marathon running is also charted. It started with German physician Ernst von Aaken who pointed out that women's smaller size and fat-burning abilities were advantageous in the long run. It took a while for women to be accepted. Author Switzer was attacked when she participated in a man's marathon. Today's super star, Paula Radcliffe, has run the astonishing time of 2hrs 15 minutes, over seven minutes faster than the great Emil Zatopek, back in 1956. Men's running has also been taking giant strides – the latest time has been clipped down to 2 hours 4 minutes. And so, the unthinkable – a sub two hour marathon – is now being talked about. Lavishly illustrated, this is an inspiring book.
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Darkness at the edge of town Chris Philpott keeps it mostly Kiwi The Black Seeds Into the Dojo
Whirimako Black Soul Sessions
The Veils Nux Vomica
sk any Kiwi music fan what albums they were looking forward to most in 2006, and undoubtedly The Black Seeds latest release, Into the Dojo, would have been at the top of the list. For good reason too, since their previous album, On The Sun, will be remembered as one of the better reggae/dub albums in New Zealand history. The only question is whether lightning could strike twice. The answer to that is more complicated than you would think. Into the Dojo is different to its predecessor, being a much more serious album and definitely more laid back overall than anything the Seeds’ have done before. Gone is the light-heartedness of “Sort It Out” or “Fire”, but in their place are the equally catchy and infectious grooves of first single “Sometimes Enough” and the bluesfused sound of “Give and Take”. Into the Dojo is a great album even though its not as instantly-catchy as the Seeds’ earlier work, but put in the time to let yourself get sucked in to its groove and you’ll find it every bit as satisfying. Get it soon though, because this is definitely an album you’ll want in your car and at home come summer.
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s you may be aware, Whirimako Black is a fantastic Kiwi talent whose music is simply captivating – additionally, since all her work to date has been recorded in Te Reo Maori, it carries a uniqueness that makes her standout from other local songwriters and singers. However, it was with some scepticism that I listened to Soul Sessions, Black’s new album of jazz standards translated in to Te Reo Maori, as well as her first Englishspoken tracks ever. So I could tell you how classic tracks like “Black Coffee”, “Georgia On My Mind” and “Stormy Weather” have never sounded so good in a whole other language, or how Black’s voice is only highlighted and enhanced by the presence of New Zealand’s best jazz musicians on each track. But to be totally honest with you, Soul Sessions really just bored me. I can appreciate the talented musicians, appreciate the smooth sound of Black’s exceptional voice, and the songs really do sound great, but I just didn’t really enjoy the album overall, and found it hard to listen to. Undoubtedly, this is an album for Whirimako Black fans or jazz enthusiasts, but as a regular guy I didn’t find it appealing at all.
etween Finn Andrews’ often crazy vocals, which front a collection of impressive songs, its pretty clear that it has been 5 years and several new band members since the release of The Runaway Found. However, the most important aspect of The Veils’ debut release is present here. Nux Vomica is a work that invites listeners to partake rather than spectate. From the jangly acoustic guitar throughout to the gentle strings of “Calliope!” to the minimal sound of “Under the Folding Branches”, you can’t help but soak in the low rumble of Andrews’ voice and be totally immersed in each track. As soon as I heard the desperate wailing on “Not Yet”, the opening track Nux Vomica, I could tell I was in for an experience rather than a listen. There is a tendency for some of the tracks to slip into a kind of ‘indie auto-pilot’ and rely on clichés of the genre to get them through, particularly on title track “Nux Vomica”. In those moments comparisons to artists like The White Stripes or Beck are unavoidable. Fortunately the originality of this instant classic manages to overshadow what are minor slights on an otherwise brilliant album.
World Trade Centre Oliver Stone’s heartfelt 9/11; and one for the kids these holidays World Trade Center Rated: M Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff Directed by: Oliver Stone
n a glorious late summer morning, blue and crisp as a freshly ironed shirt, Port Authority cops Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin report for work. Not long into their shift, the ground groans and their hearts stop. A plane hit one of the trade towers? Hastily, Sgt. McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) assembles a rescue unit including Jimeno (Michael Pena) and heads for the World Trade Center, already a billow of ash. The crunch of steel and the thud of bodies greet them at the concourse connecting the twin towers. Reluctantly now, the men gather fire extinguishers and first-aid equipment and proceed on their mission. There is no plan, McLoughlin admits. When the ground groans again, the men are swallowed by the crumbling foundation, their shirts crusted in blood and soot. Trapped underground in what would be christened ground zero, the rescuers need rescue.
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Anguished and heartfelt, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center is a hushed prayer of deliverance – for McLoughlin and Jimeno, for their wives and families, and for their nation. The prayer goes something like this: Light is better than darkness. Hope is better than despair. Love is stronger than death. It’s an Oliver Stone movie, but an unusually subdued one, free of bravado, conspiracy and melodrama. The script by Andrea Berloff is stunning in its simplicity and aching details, such as the unfinished kitchen in the McLoughlin home and the debate about what to name the new Jimeno baby. With its unvarnished filmmaking and unassuming performances that get inside the heads and hearts of its characters, World Trade Center honestly and honorably earns its emotions. Entombed by concrete slabs crushing their limbs and vital organs, scarcely able to see above the rubble, McLoughlin and his men now have another mission: staying alive. The three most important words in movies are perspective, perspective, perspective. And though the perspective of World Trade Center is about 6 inches wide, the miniverse McLoughlin and Jimeno can see immediately before their eyes, it runs marrow-deep. The men’s
entrapment and tunnel vision is one metaphor of 9/11. The event is so enormous that the reflexive response is: Will they get out? Will we? Who will rescue the would-be rescuers? As they mentally grasp for the lifelines of family, Stone introduces Donna McLoughlin (Maria Bello) and Allison Jimeno (Maggie Gyllenhaal). In a stingingly fine performance, Bello’s Donna valiantly reassures her children of their father’s safety while struggling with her own growing doubts. Gyllenhaal is likewise superlative as Allison, five months’ pregnant with a 4-year-old daughter clinging to her, awash in hormones and fear. Given that they act from the necks up, that their performances rely almost completely upon the inflections of voice, Cage and Pena are very moving. If United 93 is the equivalent of the Air Force drama regarding the events from command central, WTC is like the combat story told from the grunt’s limited perspective. It serves Stone well here, as it did in Platoon. In this humanist movie of enormous empathy, there is just one moment that rings false. Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon), a former Marine called to ground zero by conscience and faith, pledges a few good men to avenge the
attacks. Through even this discordant moment beats the cadence of Stone’s prayer. Light is better than darkness. Hope is better than despair. Love is stronger than death. Death redefines life. Reviewed by Carrie Rickey
Barnyard Rated: PG Voices: Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes and Andie MacDowell. Directed by: Steve Oedekerk.
teve Oedekerk, the wacky wit behind the Ace Ventura movies, Bruce Almighty and the upcoming Evan Almighty, sure can spin laughs to gold. Oedekerk makes his animated directing debut with Barnyard, a high-energy computer-animated film about what animals really do when the farmer’s away. And it’s clear that he had a hand in the zaniness of “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” which he co-wrote with John A. Davis of DNA Productions Inc. Now Oedekerk’s Barnyard goes up against Davis’ more serious and sensitive The Ant Bully, which had a disappoint-
ing debut in the US. Those poor little ants must be getting mighty nervous watching Oedekerk’s big ol’ cows stomp around the multiplex right now. Barnyard offers up some original twists amid derivative touches. At first take, it’s Toy Story meets The Lion King. Like the toys, the animals have a life that they keep secret from their human owners. As in The Lion King, Otis the cow (voiced by Kevin James) has issues with living up to his father, Ben (voiced by Sam Elliott in a voice that exudes gravitas, especially when he sings I Won’t Back Down). But instead of going The Lion King’s Shakespearean route, Oedekerk’s tale focuses on Otis’ unwillingness to give up being a party cow to look after others on the farm. Then he adds an adoption twist as Ben talks about finding and taking on Otis as a calf. Later, Otis has to sort out his feelings about taking care of Daisy (Courteney Cox), a pregnant cow without a husband, and the calf she’s about to bear. There are some things that you shouldn’t expect to understand in Barnyard, such as how cows suddenly got to be male as well as female. And what kind of creature is Wild Mike, a frenetic fur-ball figure that the other denizens of the barn lock in a box until it’s time to do some really crazy dancing? And unlike Pixar and the best of
There are some things that you shouldn’t expect to understand in Barnyard, such as how cows suddenly got to be male as well as female
the Disney films, which play to all ages, this skews to the younger, Nickelodeon crowd (which is where a spin-off television series is headed in the spring). But it looks great, and it’s bright and colorful, fast and fun, with terrific voice talent that include Danny Glover as a wise old mule and Wanda Sykes as Daisy’s protective girlfriend. You may know from the opening where the story’s heading, but it’s a fun ride and there’s a lot of heart between the laughs. Reviewed by Nancy Churnin INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 89
The return of the Woody
Match Point is the best from Woody Allen in years INSIDE MAN M, 123 minutes
ulling off the perfect heist is the contemporary equivalent of the search for the Holy Grail. In director Spike Lee’s cops-and-robbers thriller, brooding British actor Clive Owen plays a crafty thief whose perfect caper goes wrong. Denzel Washington is the NYPD detective who tries to defuse the resulting hostage situation. With Jodie Foster as a powerbroker. Reviewd by Jami Bernard
Match Point M, 124 minutes
fter making a string of brilliant thrillers in England during the 1930s, Alfred Hitchcock moved to America and directed what was then his greatest film – the story of an ill-fated love triangle – Rebecca. With Match Point, Woody Allen reverses not only Hitchcock’s course, but also his own, leaving the overly familiar terrain of New York for England, and with it the downward spiral of his career. Allen has concocted a romantic triangle of his own that snakes disarmingly through English
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upper classes, before winding up in the realm of the Hitchcock thriller. On its own, Match Point is a work of remarkable sophistication and accomplishment, but Allen’s long, hyper-productive career invites comparisons, and practically demands context. Match Point is so much better than anything he has done since Crimes and Misdemeanors – the 1989 film to which this bears a more than passing resemblance – that it hardly seems it could be the work of the same man who wrote and directed such deciduous dreck as Curse of the Jade Scorpion”and Anything Else. There is a size and a shapeliness to Match Point that has been missing from most of Allen’s work since his lengthy collaboration with cinematographer Gordon Willis ended in 1985. Working here with a new director of photography, Remi Adefarasin (who shot Elizabeth), Allen’s canvas feels larger and livelier than at any time since such sainted early comedies as Annie Hall and Manhattan. It’s as if air had been let into his ideas. Fresh air. Some of this comes from the wonderful performances, and the way Allen allows the characters to reveal themselves. His storytelling is much more subtle – and his method more supple – than it has been in a long
time. It may be that he feels relieved of the burden of having to write for Woody Allen, the actor, who must always have something clever to say, even when he doesn’t. England clearly agrees with Allen – who has already completed Scoop, his next film there, starring Johansson – and in Match Point he has hit a top-spin winner. Reviewd by Bruce Newman
V for Vendetta R13, 128 minutes
ime magazine likened Vendetta to The Matrix, largely because of its futuristic, us-vs-Establishment plotlines. Although the movie didn’t perform as well at the box office as its investors would have liked (largely thanks to strong competition from Inside Man), it certainly has provoked massive debate over whether its revolutionary stance is justifiable, or simply promoting terrorism. Set in a grim, Orwellian 2020 version of the U.K., but without the Sex Pistols’ music, Vendetta endorses blowing up the Houses of Parliament, or any major governmental institution, only because the rotting, amoral world cannot be changed any other way. Besides, V is a smart, cul-
tured fellow, as well as a lovable movie nerd who sits in front of his television mouthing Robert Donat’s dialogue while watching The Count of Monte Cristo. This, the year of V for Vendetta, marks the centenary of the movies’ first feature-length enterprise. The Story of the Kelly Gang, released in late 1906, told the tale of “the last of the bushrangers,” a revered outlaw figure in Australia, where the film was made. Only nine of the original 70 or so minutes survives. But its notorious reputation lives on. Pitting a good/bad outlaw against society and those who have wronged him, the film found a wide, appreciative audience. Amoral! Rabble-rousing! Up went the cry from Aussie politicians and law-enforcement officials. Why, this “Kelly Gang” flicker was nothing but a glorification of the bad guy. Thus, in Benalla and Wangaratta and, later, in Adelaide, the film was banned. That sealed it: Officially labeled a controversial, violence-mongering diversion, the film played Australia for 20 years, and made a lot of money in Britain as well. Outlaws fighting for their lives, and for an ideal: This is the heart, soul, blood and guts of story after story, across time and mediums. V for Vendetta may not do it for me, and it’s too messed-up in the head and
slow on its feet to set the world on fire. But like that Aussie bushranger blockbuster a century ago, it proves that mixed messages and cheap thrills aren’t incidental to the medium. They’re the reason for it. Reviewed by Michael Phillips
TWO FOR THE MONEY M, 117 minutes
n engaging tale inspired by the true story of former athlete turned sports tout Brandon Lane/Link/Whatever (his real surname remains clouded in mystery), played by McConaughey, who’s picked up and turned into a national cable TV star by a sports betting agency boss (Pacino) after his small-time 0900 sportsbet tipline gets a reputation for accurate predictions. Ride the rollercoaster of a seemingly impossible winning streak and the punters it pulls in, followed by the losing streak and the wreckage it leaves behind. I don’t normally talk about the extras on a DVD, but the interview with the real Brandon is priceless. Pacino is great, McConaughey captures the agony and the ecstasy, and you get a real insight into sports betting. Reviewed by Ian Wishart
STAR WARS, SPECIAL EDITIONS PG, 389 minutes
early 30 years after the originals first flickered onscreen (and I was there on day one), the Lucas empire is back with three double-disk editions of Episodes IV, V and VI. The twist this time is that one disk contains the original version, and the other contains the digitally-remastered version. With the school holidays here, this is a great way to keep the kids entertained. Reviewed by Ian Wishart
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TOYBOX Epson’s EMP-TW600
Epson’s in-built Auto Iris samples the scene brightness 60 times a second and automatically adjusts the iris to produce the optimal contrast level for all scenes – from a bright beach and snow to night time and dark interiors. The Auto-Iris can deliver a dynamic contrast ratio of up to 5000:1 while projecting the best ambience and detail available from the image. The TW600 has 10 bit colour processing components, allowing the creation of more than a billion colour tones, for smooth and gradual colour changes across the spectrum. Sharpness adjustment has been refined to allow users to change sharpness of details in both the high and low frequency band signal areas on the horizontal and vertical axes, giving four independent adjustments. RRP is $3499. www. epson.co.nz.
Sound and vision New for summer
Samsung Bordeaux LCD TV
A topical and vital feature of Samsung’s LCD televisions, including the new Bordeaux LCD, is digital and high-definition (HD) capability. HDMi is a vital compatibility function that can encode HDCP (High-Definition Copyright Protection), a format that many production houses may use in their fight against piracy. It also has an amazing 12.8 billion colour display, a higher level than competitor TVs currently achieve, meaning more depth and detail of viewing in your picture. Through Samsung’s Digital Natural Image Engine (DNIe) the Bordeaux LCD can offer digital perfection in the form of crystal clear images in which even the smallest details are captured. Images appear as close to real life as they can possibly be. Another key feature of the Bordeaux is Samsung’s True Off Angle element. This revolutionary feature means viewers can see a clear picture, both horizontally and vertically, from any angle or position in the room. This was a common objection in certain viewing conditions and is no longer the case. The Samsung Bordeaux LCD TV is available nationwide from all major electrical retailers. The recommended retail price is $4,999 (incl. GST) for the 40” model, $3,999 for the 32” model, and the 26” model with a Dynamic Contrast Ratio at 3000:1 is $2,299. All models are available in striking black or alluring white with the Bordeaux red base. 92, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006
Samsung’s new K5 MP3
Sophisticated and clean when switched off, the K5 comes alive when switched on with its vivid, animated organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen. However, there is more. Imagine everything you thought you knew about MP3 was to slide away right in front of your eyes with the K5’s slide out 1.5 Watt speaker. This built-in speaker allows you to share your collection of songs with friends and family and even have a dance party in your own living room! Other key features include a FM radio to tune into your favourite station and speaker alarm clock with a music option. The K5 also has an impressive battery life of up to 35 hours (13 hours if running on speaker), meaning you will never have to worry about your battery running out again. The K5 will be available in 1 GB ($379), 2GB ($489) and 4GB ($549). www.samsung.com
NAD C325BEE amplifier
Utilising new technology developed in its top of the range Masters Series components, the C325BEE is the creation of head designer Bjorn Erik Edvardsen. It offers many advanced features, including the latest adaptation of the company’s Power Drive Technology, a technology that affords huge reserves of Dynamic Headroom by ingeniously matching the amplifier to the speaker load. This fully automatic operation adjusts power supply parameters of the amplifier to best cope with the actual musical signal and specific speaker loading characteristics. The end result is an open, effortless and smooth musical presentation that allows the music to emerge, recreating the atmosphere of the original musical performance. NAD also features their renowned ‘soft clipping’ technology that eliminates the harsh sound that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven, similar to the sound of valve amplifiers. Boasting 50-watts per channel, the NAD C325BEE offers inputs for: tuner, CD, cassette deck and other line input A/V components. It also features MP input for iPod™, MP3 and other media players employing 3.5mm headphone sockets.RRP is $599. Available in both titanium and grey finish. For more details contact John Murt on 07 5471 1062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navman iCN 720
Navman has launched the new iCN 720, an innovative portable navigation product featuring NavPix™ – a breakthrough technology which offers a unique and intuitive way to navigate to a destination using just images. Simply, a photograph is taken with the iCN 720 and the location is automatically georeferenced by Navman’s GPS technology. Available in New Zealand in September 2006, the���������������������������������������������������������������������� system offers the very latest ��������������������������������������� high-definition, 4-inch widescreen and brand-new navigation software, together with the very latest in GPS technology. RRP of just $1199. For more information on the features of the new Navman iCN 720, Navman New Zealand or any other Navman GPS products please call Navman on (09) 481 0500 or visit www.navman.com
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Long way proving best route for Asia’s 25th anniversary tour, says John J. Moser
ynthesizer-based disco and new wave music ruled the airwaves when arena rock supergroup Asia rose from the ashes of progressive rock heavyweights Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1981. “Everyone said about the music we recorded, ‘Oh, that’s not going to fly,’ because it was, I suppose, a hark back to prog-rock with one step in pop,” recalls vocalist-bassist John Wetton. “And people said, ‘No, that’s not going to work. It’s all keyboards now. It’s all synthesizers.’ I think A Flock of Seagulls was No. 1.” Against the odds, as well as critics’ brickbats, Asia’s self-titled debut, released in the spring of 1982, zoomed to No. 1 and stayed there nine weeks, selling seven million copies with the hit “Heat of The Moment” and three other singles, “Only Time Will Tell,” “Sole Survivor” and “Wildest Dreams.” “Actually, what we did was make a sound that blew synthesizers out of the water,” Wetton says. “Everyone said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. A prog-guitar band ain’t gonna work.’ But it did.” A quarter-century later, Wetton figures the musical climate is much the same, with genres fractured. And so the four original members of Asia – Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes – are back together for the first time in 23 years, ready to give it another go with a 25th anniversary tour that started early September in Rochester, New York. “At the moment, I don’t think anybody knows which direction music’s going, so we just do what we do and see what happens again,” Wetton says over the telephone from England, where the band had just finished rehearsals for the tour. Whether Asia – whose members together, in the earlier bands and in other groups such as King Crimson and The Buggles have sold 200 million records – can work another miracle remains to be seen.
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1985 But Wetton says just for the four original members of Asia to even be in the same studio is a miracle, so acrimonious was the band’s breakup. The multiple platinum success of the first album – Billboard named it Album of the Year – was followed by a second disc, Alpha, that also went platinum and had hits with
the power ballads “Don’t Cry” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.” But egos and slower sales led to cracks in the band even as they sold out 1982 and 1983 tours. Wetton says he was replaced by former ELP bassist Greg Lake before a huge MTV satellite concert in Japan in 1983 without even being told. “I wasn’t even
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!WARDED PRESTIGIOUS @,UXURY 4RAVEL AWARD AND NAMED h/NE OF THE 7ORLDS 5LTIMATE (OTELSv BY ,UXURY 4RAVEL -AGAZINE INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, October 2006, 95
consulted about it,” he says, laughing. And when other band members asked him to return in 1984, Howe quit. “It all got – it got incredibly immature,” Wetton says. “We were all in our 30s – we weren’t spring chickens even then, you know? – but still behaved like teenagers. ... You’d think that we would have been used to it and could have taken the blows, the slings and arrows. “But, in fact, the trajection of the first band was so phenomenal that it caught everyone off guard, including managers and the record company, and nobody was prepared for quite that level of success. And yes, I am one of the first to stick my hand up and say, `Yeah, I spiraled out of control.’ “So hopefully we’re a little bit more grown up now.” Howe was replaced and the band released a disappointing third album, Astra, but the four never played together again, and Wetton and Palmer also eventually left. As the last original member, Downes continued on as Asia with other players through 2005 – although none of the albums or singles charted in the United States after 1990. Downes even kept the name when Wetton and Palmer, in a band called Qango, had more original Asia members. Wetton says he thinks the later work detracted from Asia’s reputation, but says, “For most people, they would still think of the original band as being Asia. ... It’s got to be those four or none at all.” Wetton says the reunion came about after he and Downes, who remained friends and to whose daughter he is godfather, finished the second album of a new band, Icon, as Asia’s 25th anniversary loomed. In addition, “Heat of the Moment” was used in the 2005 movie, “The 40-YearOld-Virgin,” and in the Canadian version of the “American Idol” television show. “(People) would say, `Well, you know, what are you going to do – the 25th anniversary would be a perfect opportunity for everyone to get back together again,’” he says. “We thought, `Oh, my God, you know, maybe it’s worth asking the other two.’ But we didn’t really expect anyone to say yes. It was a long shot.” The band met Jan. 9 “with a view to sit the four of us down in the same room again,” Wetton says. “I mean, um, a lot of people wouldn’t have even put money on that, you know?” he laughs. “So we stood in the same room
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2005 and we just talked for a couple of hours and decided there weren’t any sort of insurmountable personal problems and we all got a genuine desire to do this.” Wetton says the reunion was planned as a four-week jaunt to simply acknowledge the anniversary, “but as we’ve been kind of solidifying as an entity again, things have started moving on. People want us to do a bit more.” The U.S. tour has been extended through November, followed by a UK tour, and one in Japan in March 07. Wetton says he also expects the reunion to result in new music from Asia. Universal Records is releasing greatest hits and video compilations, and a DVD of the tour is planned. “And then we’ll move it along from there,” Wetton says. “I’m sure there’ll be a move to record at some stage. ... I think
…then and now, ASIA founder John Wetton the vast majority of the people ... want to see us go on and do some more stuff and make a record. Wetton says the show will be nearly two hours, with a set list of the entire first album, two songs from the second album and “an obscure track that the diehard fans will absolutely adore.” But he says no songs will be played from any of the subsequent 10 albums released as works of Asia. But Wetton says Asia also will play a few songs from the members’ other bands, such as “Roundabout” by Yes, “Fanfare For The Common Man” by ELP and The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” – ironically, a synthesizer-based song like those Asia swept to the wayside when it first emerged. Asked how that song sounds played by Asia, Wetton says, “Come and see.”