NO ONE GETS CLOSER
GET ‘AIR CON’ – IAN WISHART’S NEW BOOK – DETAILS INSIDE
INVESTIGATE June 2009:
WILL THE NATS SIGN US UP TO EXPENSIVE NEW TREATY?
KEY-OTO Entreaty • Rewriting History • The New Nazis
Erasing the past, to appease migrants
Europe’s New Nazis
Mark Steyn profiles a dangerous turn of events
Can Hackers Hijack Elections? Issue 101
$8.30 June 2009
CIA warns electronic voting ‘insecure’
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26 Key-Oto Fallout
In six months’ time, world leaders will converge on Copenhagen to thrash out a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. It could cost New Zealand households thousands of dollars each, and kill jobs. IAN WISHART profiles the submissions the government will be weighing up over the next couple of months
36 Erasing History
Should a country bend over backwards for new migrants by erasing historical records from museums, art galleries and school classrooms that migrants might find offensive? HAL G. P. COLEBATCH finds that’s exactly what’s happening, to devastating effect
46 The New Holocaust
As further proof that Britain has become the canary down the mineshaft for the rest of the West, MARK STEYN discovers the Muslim birthrate there is ten times higher than the British average, and that Jews are now being run out of London
52 The God Debate, Part II
Is it rational to believe in God, asks agnostic SIMON GEMMILL while IAN WISHART takes the counterpoint
60 Hacking Elections
Electronic voting is capable of being hacked by cyber criminals and foreign governments, according to a new CIA study that will give election centres around the world pause for thought. GREG GORDON reports
Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point
Volume 9, Issue 101, ISSN 1175-1290
The roar of the crowd
16 Simply Devine
Miranda Devine on 111 failures
18 Mark Steyn The end of America
20 Eyes Right
Richard Prosser writes to Obama
22 Line 1
Art Direction Design & Layout
Amy Brooke’s poem of the month
Peter Hensley on borrowing
Amy Brooke on flawed thinking
68 Science Aye Robots
Smart phones the new frontier
Chris Forster on the All Whites
Claire Morrow on over-medicating
The cure for the common cold
Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic
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Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom
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The fallout from Napier
t is beyond cliché for the media and everyone else to see are outlawed, and ten times higher than Vermont where virtually in hindsight what could have been done better in the Napier everyone is allowed to carry concealed automatic pistols. siege of Jan Molenaar’s house. Why are crime rates so low in US states that permit concealed There are endless inquiries to go through, both official and weapons? Simply because you are mindful you may be shot if you unofficial, as police, psychologists, the public and the media try try and rob or mug someone or break into their home. Sure, you to make sense of what triggered the events and why. might automatically pull out your weapon first to get the jump Predictably, some have called for guns to be banned, while oth- on a robbery victim, but then you don’t know whether a passerers have called for police to be armed all the time. by mightn’t see what’s going on and shoot you dead. It’s not that simple. As a long term beat reporter on the police End result? Vermont is as close to crimeless as a place can get. round, my gut instinct in the wake of the Molenaar incident and To watch New Zealand journalists and commentators pontificate Don Wilkinson’s tragic murder last year is to suggest that all police about US gun laws, when our own crime rate is higher, is an exeron drug searches should be armed. cise in cringe-worthiness. Two officers were shot in the Wilkinson case – neither was armed In unarmed New Zealand, where guns are frowned on because and therefore neither was capable of defending their partner. it is not “PC” to be armed, an entire city was in lockdown for Three officers attended the Molenaar incident that cost Len Snee three days because of one man who’d done his nut. his life. It is beyond a fair bet that if officers two and three had What cost to the taxpayer of the massive police and milibeen carrying Glock pistols, tary operation? If one false Molenaar would have been alarm fire callout can justify Embarrassingly, New Zealand’s dead at their feet and three a $3,000 bill, what can three people would not be fighting days’ worth of martial law be violent crime rate in places like for their lives trying to escape worth? a hail of bullets. Yet the cost of solving the Manukau City was comparable to It’s not rocket science. The Molenaar siege if all officers drug scene of 40 years ago was had been armed would have Washington DC, where guns are reasonably tame compared to been merely the cost of the today’s meth-fuelled, dogbullets used to subdue him. eat-dog underworld. It just outlawed, and ten times higher than The circumstances in isn’t safe to assume that drugNapier are tragic for all Vermont where virtually everyone growers are going to be ratioinvolved, for the police, for nal people when you turn up the civilian who attempted is allowed to carry concealed and invite yourself in to their to rescue them, and for the homes for a quiet chat. partner, son and family of the automatic pistols Additionally, we now know man who lost control. cannabis use can seriously There are no winners, but increase your risk of becoming mentally ill and paranoid, which if the hopeless Police Commissioner Howard Broad doesn’t get off Molenaar seemed to be exhibiting signs of. his chuff and actually start protecting his frontline officers, things But the same argument for arming police in certain circum- will just continue to get worse. stances actually also works in favour of allowing the public to carry guns. Two years ago, in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacres and calls for tighter gun control by leading lights in the NZ media, Investigate did a survey of violent crime in New Zealand compared with the US. Embarrassingly, New Zealand’s violent crime rate in places like Manukau City was comparable to Washington DC, where guns INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
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> vox populi
Communiques The roar of the crowd SUNDAY WAS TRAGIC
No doubt you watched Sunday and Gareth Morgan last night. As an ordinary Kiwi I am concerned with the one-sided promotion of the global warming debate, in fact it is not a debate, rather a one sided lesson in so called science. The Australian Government appears to have delayed the introduction of an ETS for a year and as John Key seems to consider we should be aligned to any scheme introduced in Australia, this may have bought some more time for the so called ‘deniers’ to convince Mr Key and Co. How do we convince the politicians, Rodney seems to be a lone voice. I am currently reading Absolute Power, stunning book. Maureen Carter, via email Editor responds:
Anyone who watched the TVNZ Sunday programme segment on climate change will be heartened to hear the state broadcaster has been slammed with formal complaints on the grounds of accuracy and balance. The documentary opened with claims that the island of Takuu, near Papua New Guinea, is being overrun by the ocean because of rising sea levels. The segment included dramatic video footage of ocean waves sweeping across the island and washing houses and gardens away. But here’s what TVNZ didn’t tell you: the island of Takuu is welldocumented in geological files because it is sinking. That’s right, sea levels are not rising dramatically, the island instead is sinking dramatically back into the Pacific Ocean. Takuu, you see, is poised on the junction of tectonic plates, and subject to earth movements and volcanic activity. Those submarine volcanoes could also be the cause of a 5C rise in ocean temperatures around the island reported by the programme, especially as recent data suggests there has been no warming of the global oceans since 2002. Of course, those of you who’ve read Air Con will already have sniffed a rat in the TVNZ coverage, but it serves as a strident reminder that some in the media are so wedded to the idea of human-caused global warming that they don’t properly check their facts. Air Con, meanwhile, has struck a resounding chord with readers, rocketing straight to number one on the bestseller list in its debut week on sale.
ANOTHER AIR CON FAN
I am in process of reading your book. My approach is to skim fairly fast, then having got the flavour, re-read in detail. My background is science – now 20-years retired – and I started getting interested 3 years ago when I read about IPCC’s basis being INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
computer models. My concern was – is - where’s the proof, because computers can do only what they are told. Thanks for an excellent summary of a lot of the issues. Unfortunately, as you know, you will probably get ignored as a “denier”. I have assembled 14 major areas of concern – factors the AGW people appear to ignore. I see two underlying issues, which I may have missed in your book so far. There is no theory of climate, and no definition/ measure of it. Well, back to reading it in detail. Peter Foster, Collingwood
NO, IT’LL BE SCEPTICS AT THE STAKE NEXT Thanks for the book and further enlightenment to an already denier. Is it all deja vu ? “During the cumulative sequences of coldness” in the years 15601574, 1583-1589 and 1623-1630, again 1678-1698 (Pfister 1988, 150) people demanded the eradication of the witches whom they held responsible for climatic aberrations. Obviously it was the impact of the Little Ice Age which increased the pressure from below and made parts of the intellectual elites believe in the existence of witchcraft. So it is possible to say: witchcraft was the unique crime of the Little Ice Age.” – Climactic Change and Witch Hunting: The Impact of the Little Ice Age on Mentalities, Wolfgang Belinger, 1999 I suppose while carbon is being blamed, I remain safe from the stake this time round! June Dawrant, Waitara
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL We bought our first copy of your magazine today because we found the subject matter very informative. I heard about your book over talk radio last week and found that even more interesting. I’m writing because I heard something else on talk radio in Philadelphia about 10 years ago, which may add to what you already know. The host of that radio program on WWDB was Rollye James. I don’t recall the name of the man she interviewed, but he had been hired by the UN to oversee the work of thousands of scientists they hired to find evidence of global warming over a span of several years. When they completed their work around 1998, 95% of them said they found no evidence at all of global warming. The other 5% said they didn’t find any evidence either, but they wanted more time to be sure. Thus, 100% of them could not prove it. All of them signed their names to their work before they submitted it to the UN. About a year after they submitted their reports, the UN completely rewrote their evidence to make it say the opposite of what
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they really said. But the UN attached the pages where they signed their names to give the rewrite the appearance of authenticity. All of them felt betrayed and used. That was why he went public on the Rollye James show. Several times during his answers to her questions, he made reference to a fanatical religious zeal that seemed to be motivating the people he dealt with at the UN. When the show opened up for questions, someone phoned in to ask if the religious fanaticism had anything to do with the Lucifer Pub. Co., which began operating from the UN Plaza in 1953, which was founded by Alice Bailey. He answered in the affirmative and went on to say the Lucifer Pub. Co. closed its office at the UN Plaza in 1990 and merged with the Lucis Trust, which was located across the street. He also said they were still involved with the UN, particularly with environmental affairs. During that same period of time, I was acquainted with an aide to Congressman Ron Paul, who told me that when Gorbachev was the head of the KGB, he instructed communists all over the world to stop identifying with the color, red, and start identifying with green. Within the next few years, Green Parties sprung up all over the world. After Gorbachev retired from politics, George Bush Sr. gave him control of a navy base at the Presidio from which to conduct environmental research. A few weeks ago, I read a book by Constance Cumbey entitled “A Planned Deception.” She said that Alice Bailey also founded the Lucis Trust in 1922 for the purpose of supporting plans for a world government under the League of Nations. When that failed, they started over with the UN after WW II and then she worked with them. Considering what the Bible says in Revelation 13 about a world government and a world religion, which worships the devil, it does not surprise me that the Lucifer Pub. Co. was established at the UN in 1953. Nor does it surprise me that Tony Blair is now working toward a world religion via the Vatican. This is because I saw a video in 2000, which was filmed by the Vatican at the Vatican that showed the Pope meeting with the Dali Lama and other religious leaders to form a world religion. You can get a copy of this video/ dvd from Gary Kah or Sid Roth to check it out for yourself. If you aren’t already of aware of these things, I highly recommend Gary Kah’s film and Constance Cumbey’s book. I like to close my email correspondence with the title of your national anthem because I believe God wants to answer this prayer. God defend New Zealand, David Scott, via email Editor responds:
Strange as it may seem, the Lucifer Publishing Company was indeed based in United Nations Plaza New York, for many years, at 866 The Plaza. It has indeed changed its name to the Lucis Trust, with offices in New York, London and Geneva, and according to Wikipedia remains an advisor to the United Nations through a subsidiary organisation’s membership on the UN Economic and Social Council, which was referred to in last month’s Investigate. Its publishing company was named after “Lucifer”, the organisation’s original journal which began in the late 19th century, and the journal (naturally) was named after the Big Guy with the horns. The organisation’s religious beliefs have often been praised by senior UN officials. Make of it what you will.
LET THEM RUN A CAKE STALL FIRST I have a simple proposal that should be put to the people who want the UN to become a supranational one world government, 10 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
with precedence over the sovereignty of individual nations. The U.N. should be given the opportunity to give us a demonstration of how good it is at government. It should start with Zimbabwe, or Sudan, or Somalia, or perhaps Burma; some nation for which there is the most justification for the imposition of benign multilateral sovereignty in place of what currently exists. They can send in their military, their police, their legal system, their economic experts, their social engineers, and so on. They can install Helen Clark as the President, and instil the gospel of secular socialism into the citizens of that country, with no lack of money and power to achieve their objectives. Then when they have turned their first experimental country into the envy of the rest of the world, and there are people queuing up at the borders in their millions asking to be let in, there might be some justification for their conceits about running the whole world. But, you can hear these people cry, that would be a violation of the sovereignty of Zimbabwe (or Sudan, Somalia, or Burma). Oh? So are their plans regarding MY country, or the USA, or Britain, or Australia, or Ireland, or Europe, or Israel, not “violation of sovereignty”? Philip G. Hayward, Naenae
WE GET THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE ‘The Dumbing Down of Britain’ part two (Investigate 100, May 2009), reminded me of the prediction made thirty/forty years ago by the Christian philosopher, Dr Francis Schaeffer. He forecast the demise of science in the West as a result of the increasing rejection of the Biblical worldview and its replacement by Secular and Eastern worldviews. Schaeffer said correctly that the latter views with their inherent meaninglessness, and rejection of objective truth and the idea of the universe being a creation established on the basis of law by its Maker, provided no philosophical support for a scientific enterprise. That it was only a matter of time before the popularity of the hard sciences as fields of study and vocation, lost out to those of a more subjective nature. This article by Colebatch documents the ongoing fulfillment of Schaeffer’s prediction. The likes of Warwick Don who obsess with ranting endlessly against creation and asserting that their atheistic evolutionary religion is a scientific fact etc, shoot themselves in the foot, apparently without recognizing it. Atheism, at root meaningless and without purpose, doesn’t even provide a basis for their ranting, let alone science. The only way Don and co can rant so, is on the basis of intellectual capital they have flogged from the worldview they hate and reject. Sweet irony. Renton Maclachlan, Porirua
DID SOMEBODY MENTION MR DON? What follows are brief responses to points raised by Malcolm Ford (May 2009) in reply to my letter in the April issue of this magazine. Your correspondent appears not to understand the specific meaning of a ‘selective quotation’. The term refers to a quotation extracted from the original text so as to convey an impression not intended by its author. Context and any qualifying statements typically are conveniently ignored. His confusion as to the nature of selective quotations explains why he is resentful of being associated with what I have deemed “a persistent but dishonest creationist ploy” used in creationist attacks on evolution. Consequently, I am now prepared to regard him as an inadvertent conveyer of this tactic.
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in his opinion, “should be well filled with fossil examples of transitional intermediates between species”. Not only is he apparently ignorant of the vast amount of evidence for evolution derived from many other fields of research, but he is clearly unaware of the numerous factors contributing to a necessarily incomplete fossil record. Yet, in spite of this incompleteness, much has been revealed about past life, including the existence of transitional species, each showing a mixture of traits characteristic of organisms that lived before and after it. The creationist claim that such species are absent from the fossil record is patently false. Warwick Don, Dunedin
MIGRAINES Migraine frequently has been shown to be a food intolerance (the Lancet, in an 80s study of children). If it is modified by B6 and folic acid, helpful in poor homocyteine levels, shouldn’t food intolerance be investigated in other vascular disorders? After all, high blood pressure can be managed when poorly tolerated foods, specific to the individual, are removed and electrolytes corrected. And this can usually be safely done under the instruction of a medical practice nurse or a naturopath. It’s not rocket science. Inconvenient, as one is usually addicted or at least dependent on the culprit but minor compared to say up to three days of misery. Eventually that food may be eaten as a rare treat. Vitamin D is apparently only present in useful levels for effective exposure when the sun is high overhead – the time we have been exhorted to avoid the sun. Part of the sun avoidance may be the commercial opportunity to sell the sun cream – also the sunglasses that may soon be recognised as harmful except in special situations. High latitude northern populations use winter lamps providing (almost) the entire spectrum of sunlight, to avoid depression and mood disorders. Marie Lockie, Invercargill
Poetry Is it poetry? Then send submissions to Poetry Editor Amy Brooke:email@example.com The Search When Krakatoa roared I listened for your name; Halley’s tail had whispered by but no shining traces came. Surges high around the Horn carried nothing of you to me: but in quiet dawn notes from feathered throats I heard you set me free... Gerard Standing
Letters to the editor can be posted to: PO Box 302188, North Harbour, North Shore 0751, or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What I won’t concede is that I deliberately linked him with this tactic because I had “run out of objective answers to honest questions”. After all, my letter began with the reference to selective quotations. What is more, I explained why tabulating a number of negative statements from Ernst Mayr’s text (What Evolution Is) only serves to convey a false impression of how far we have come in the elucidation of the pathway from ape to man. Mr Ford persists in translating Ernst Mayr’s critcisms over early attempts at reconstructing the pathway from ape to man to the present-day situation. As I have pointed out to him, we now have a far richer fossil record than was available to the pioneers in this area. Mr Ford refers briefly to a passage in Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker (pp. 229-230) in which the author is discussing the nature of a very large gap in the fossil record before the first appearance, in Cambrian strata, of many groups of invertebrates. As Dawkins puts it: “It is as though they were planted there, without any evolutionary history. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists.” What creationists invariably fail to acknowledge (either deliberately or through ignorance) is a perfectly logical explanation for this gap provided by Dawkins further on in the same passage – that many of the animals before the Cambrian “had only soft parts in their bodies: no shells or bones to fossilize”. Note the Precambrian is not devoid of fossils; there are just fewer of them. Mr Ford quotes Steven M. Stanley (Macroevolution, p. 39) without any understanding of the issue under discussion. Stanley is not questioning evolution, but is simply stating that the fossil record does not support the view that gradual evolution over long periods of time brings about major morphologic changes within lineages (single lines of descent). On the other hand, the fossil evidence strongly points to such changes occurring in association with the branching of lineages (speciation events) (op.cit. p. 37). This Stanley citation is a classic in the creationists’ collection of selective quotations.. Mr Ford outlines a series of alleged problems in relation to the acquisition of a bipedal gait. I use the word ‘alleged’ because Mayr, for one, is of the opinion this major shift “may not be as difficult for a primate as is sometimes believed” (What Evolution Is, p. 241). In support of this contention he relates to having seen South American spider monkeys move considerable distances bipedally in the Phoenix (Arizona) Zoo. A predilection for bipedalism could well have been a take-off point in the transition from ape to man. Furthermore, there appears to be no validity to your correspondent’s contention of serious survival problems brought about by the gradual change to bipedalism. To take just one of these perceived anatomical problems, the so-called mis-aligned spine. I see no difficulty in envisaging changes in vertebral alignments (each modification favoured by natural selection) in an overall trend towards an upright stance, particularly in an animal already predisposed to bipedalism. As for loss of hair creating a survival problem for a baby ape which normally clings to its mother’s coat for protection, Mr Ford has obviously overlooked the fact that with the arms and hands no longer required for climbing and ground locomotion, they could now be used for the care of infants. Mayr himself makes this point (op.cit. pp. 248-249). In spite of Mr Ford’s objection, I stand by my statement regarding the reality of evolution. He again attempts to damage evolution’s factual status, this time by referring to “yawning gaps” that,
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 15
> simply devine
Emergency service’s callousness killed boy
t’s always difficult and sometimes pointless to apportion receives 1 million triple-0 calls each year, of which many are hoaxes, blame for a tragedy in hindsight. In any tragedy it is often the hang-ups or not emergencies. But reporters who heard David’s case that many little things have gone wrong, and it is the accu- distress calls played to the court say they would never have mismulation of errors which leads to catastrophe. You only fully taken them for hoax calls; that in the final calls, in particular, he appreciate the gravity of a mistake by its consequences. sounded frantic and distressed. But in the inquest into the death of 17-year-old schoolboy Of course, the court is hearing all five calls which were patched David Iredale, who died of thirst after becoming lost in the Blue through to the ambulance service (the first went to police) in Mountains on a bushwalk, it seems that the failure of triple-0 to sequence, and the operators heard, at most, two calls. But at trirespond in any useful or compassionate way to his calls of distress ple-0 you would have thought, no matter how many bogus calls was a major factor. came through, you would err on the side of gullibility. David had dialled triple-0 six times and told NSW ambulance The operators who did not send help to David bear personal service operators which walking track he was on, that it was an responsibility for their inaction. However, they are in some senses “emergency”, that he was hot, felt like fainting, couldn’t walk far prisoners of a culture of callousness which has been allowed to and they should send a helicopter. His information, while impre- develop in their call centre. cise on location, would have been invaluable to searchers with What emergency operators – most of them women – do 24 local knowledge [and in fact to police with cellphone position- hours a day is a crucial, life-saving job, whether it’s talking a ing data], before they finally parent through resuscitatfound his body in a dry creek ing a child who has fallen Reporters who heard David’s bed eight days later. in a swimming pool, or Detective Senior Constable efficiently dispatching an distress calls played to the court John Fasano testified that ambulance to a heart-attack David, who had become sepvictim. arated from his two Sydney say they would never have mistaken If they save just one life Grammar schoolmates duramong the thousands of them for hoax calls ing the walk on December 11, stupid, puerile, offensive 2006, might have been found calls they field, their job has that afternoon if his triple-0 calls had been heeded. meaning. They should be regularly shown examples of the good Instead, each of the three operators who answered David’s calls they do, and be treated with respect, so that they treat callers with before his mobile phone battery ran out treated him with indiffer- respect – even those who don’t deserve it. ence and even sarcasm. They scolded him for shouting, put him Instead, as the Ambulance call centre manager, Superintendent on hold, repeatedly demanded a street address, behaved as if he Peter Payne, told the inquest, apathetic, uncaring, dismissive attiwere an annoying teenage boy, and then neglected to record or tudes were prevalent in the Redfern emergency call centre at the pass on any of the information he had provided about his loca- time, and this had been a “disease” in the organisation. The tripletion to the police who were searching for him. 0 operators who took David’s call were still working at the call One operator – Laura Meade, 26 – admitted to the inquest centre but had been “counselled” and “retrained”. in the NSW Coroner’s Court at Penrith: “I certainly could have The excuse is that after listening to people’s traumas every day, done a better job.” She said her treatment of his call could be emergency operators become hardened to human suffering. “construed as insensitive”, though she denied she was being sarBut that is a terrible view of human nature. If being exposed to castic to David. human suffering makes people callous, what hope is there? Every “OK, so you’ve just wandered into the middle of nowhere, is that nurse, doctor and ambulance officer would become hardened, and what you are saying?” she had said to him, while repeatedly asking the world’s suffering would increase exponentially. him for his street address. Another operator scolded him: “There’s In fact, the opposite is the case. Most people in the so-called carno need to yell.” In his final call he was reprimanded for saying ing professions are, in my experience, kind and compassionate, and “sorry”: “Don’t keep saying that … tell me where you are.” have a lightness of heart and sweetness that comes from doing good In its defence, the NSW Ambulance Service has said that it for people. They might grumble about the conditions they work in, 16 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
but they know they have the power over vulnerable people’s wellbeing and they almost always use it well. They might indulge privately with colleagues and friends in black humour about the gruelling aspects of their work but that helps to maintain emotional clarity, not to impede their duties or harden their hearts. The default is that most humans are hardwired for empathy. No amount of “retraining” will instill the sort of empathy required to heed the distress of a dehydrated, scared boy lost in the wilderness. If you don’t have it, you can lead a productive life in another way – just not where you have power over life and death. email@example.com
The operators who did not send help to David bear personal responsibility for their inaction. However, they are in some senses prisoners of a culture of callousness INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 17
> straight talk
The end of the world as we know it
ccording to an Earth Day survey, one third of schoolIt would be reassuring to think so. But I wonder. children between the ages of six and eleven think the earth What’s the greater likelihood? That, in ten years’ time, things will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. That’s in Pakistan will be better? Or much worse? That nuclearization great news, isn’t it? Not for the earth, I mean, but for “envi- by basket-case dictatorships from Pyongyang to Tehran will have ronmental awareness.” Congratulations to Al Gore, the Sierra advanced, or been contained? That the bleak demographic arithClub, and the eco-propagandists of the public-education system metic at the heart of Europe and Japan’s economic woes will have in doing such a terrific job of traumatizing America’s moppets. accelerated, or been reversed? That a resurgent Islam’s assaults on Traditionally, most of the folks you see wandering the streets pro- free speech and other rights (symbolized by the recent U.N. supclaiming the end of the world is nigh tend to be getting up there port for a global Islamic blasphemy law) will have taken hold in in years. It’s quite something to have persuaded millions of first- the western world, or been forced to retreat? graders that their best days are behind them. A betting man would check the “worse” box. Because resisting Call me crazy, but I’ll bet that in 15-20 years the planet will the present careless drift would require global leadership. And still be here along with most of the “environment” – your flora 100 days into a new presidency, Barack Obama is giving strong and fauna, your polar bears and three-toed tree sloths and what- signals to the world that we have entered what Caroline Glick of not. But geopolitically we’re in for a hell of a ride, and the world the Jerusalem Post calls “the post-American era.” At the time of we end up with is unlikely to be as congenial as most Americans Gordon Brown’s visit to Washington, London took umbrage at have gotten used to. an Obama official’s off-the-record sneer to a Fleet Street reporter For example, Hillary Clinton that “there’s nothing spesaid the other day that Pakistan cial about Britain. You’re The president of the United posed a “mortal threat” to . . just the same as the other . Afghanistan? India? No, to 190 countries in the world. States is telling us that American the entire world! To listen to You shouldn’t expect special her, you’d think Pakistan was treatment.” Andy McCarthy exceptionalism is no more than as scary as l’il Jimmy in the secof National Review made ond grade’s mom’s SUV. She the sharp observation that, national chauvinism has a point: Asif Ali Zardari, never mind the British, this the guy who’s nominally runwas how the administration ning the country, isn’t running anything. He’s ceding more and more felt about their own country, too: America is just the same as the turf to the local branch office of the Taliban. When the topic turns other 190 countries in the world. In Europe, the president was up in the news, we usually get vague references to the pro-Osama asked if he believed in “American exceptionalism,” and replied: crowd controlling much of the “northwest,” which makes it sound “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the as if these guys are the wilds of rural Idaho to Zardari’s Beltway. In Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in fact, they’re now within some 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad Greek exceptionalism.” – or, in American terms, a couple of I-95 exits north of Baltimore: Gee, thanks. A simple “no” would have sufficed. The president In other words, they’re within striking distance of the administra- of the United States is telling us that American exceptionalism tive center of a nation of over 165 million people – and its nuclear is no more than national chauvinism, a bit of flag-waving, of no weapons. That’s the “mortal threat.” more import than the Slovenes supporting the Slovene soccer What’s going to stop them? Well, not Zardari. Nor his “sum- team and the Papuans the Papuan soccer team. This means somemit” in Washington with President Obama and Hamid Karzai thing. The world has had two millennia to learn to live without of Afghanistan. The creation of Pakistan was the worst mistake “Greek exceptionalism.” It’s having to get used to post-exceptional of post-war British imperial policy, and all that’s happened in the America rather more hurriedly. six decades since is that its pathologies have burst free of its borIt makes sense from Obama’s point of view: On the domestic ders and gone regional, global, and soon perhaps nuclear. Does scene, he’s determined on a transformational presidency, one that the Obama administration have even a limited contingency plan will remake the American people’s relationship to their national for the nukes if – when – the Pakistani state collapses? government (“federal” doesn’t seem the quite the word anymore) 18 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Barack Obama is giving strong signals to the world that we have entered what Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post calls “the post-American era”
in terms of health care, education, eco-totalitarianism, state control of the economy, and much else. With a domestic agenda as bulked up as that, the rest of the world just gets in the way. You’ll recall that, in a gimmick entirely emblematic of postexceptional America, Hillary Clinton gave the Russians a (mistranslated) “Reset” button. The button has certainly been “reset” – to September 10th, to a legalistic rearview mirror approach to the “War on Terror,” in which investigating Bush officials will consume far more time and effort than de-nuking Iran. The secretary of Homeland Security’s ludicrous re-classification of terrorism as “man-caused disaster,” and her boneheaded statement that the September 11th bombers had entered America from Canada (which would presumably make 9/11 a “Canadian man-caused disaster”) exemplifies the administration’s cheery indifference to all that Bush-era downer stuff. But it’s not September 10th. In Pakistan, a great jewel is within the barbarians’ reach, the first of many. At the U.N., the Islamic bloc’s proscriptions on free speech will make it harder even to talk
about these issues. In much of the West, demographic decay means the good times are never coming back: Recession is permanent. Hey, what’s the big deal? Britain and France have been on the geopolitical downward slope for most of the last century and life still seems pretty agreeable. Well, yes. But that’s in part because, when a fading Britannia handed the baton to the new U.S. superpower, it was one of the least disruptive transfers of global dominance in human history. In the “post-American era,” to whom does the baton get passed now? Since January, President Obama and his team have schmoozed, ineffectively, American enemies over allies in almost every corner of the globe. If you’re, say, India, following Obama’s apology tour even as you watch the Taliban advancing on those Pakistani nukes, would you want to bet the future on American resolve? In Delhi, in Tokyo, in Prague, in Tel Aviv, in Bogota, they’ve looked at these first 100 days and drawn their own conclusions. Mark Steyn, an Investigate magazine columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 19
> eyes right
Richard Prosser A letter to President Obama
ear Mr President of service in the Senate, distinguished service in your nation’s miliI write to you not with any expectation that my words will tary, and five years in an enemy prison camp, all of which I believe ever find an audience within the far-off halls of American must give a man an insight and humanity which you, with respect, power, let alone with you yourself; but rather, in the hope have yet to prove. You are younger than he, granted, and perhaps that the sentiments I express here, echoing as they do the concerns more vigorous; but there is a lot to be said for a leader having a of others, will come to prevail, amongst the myriad wise – and few grey hairs gained in life, and, genetic predisposition aside, it some perhaps not-so-wise – counsels which you will undoubtedly is my view that these are better collected as a qualification for the receive during your tenure in office. trials of high office, than as a result of them. You are not my President, but I shall address you as such, as That said, with the selection process over, your fellow Americans much from a respect for both your nation, and for the status of have rallied behind their new President whether they voted for you the office you hold within it, as from a recognition of the position or not; this is a phenomenon we are unused to, in the Westminster that your nation itself holds, in an undeniable if de facto sense, Parliamentary world. In New Zealand, certainly, we continue the with regards to my own and to many similar countries. adversarial nature of our partisan loyalties on through the entire term As the United States of America leads the Free World, so it is that of whomever has won the great contest, and sometimes beyond it. the President of the United States becomes, in a way, the President Americans, after the ballot, appear to embrace a higher ideal, the of all that World. We who played no part in your election to office concept of the Presidency transcending sectarian politics to reprehave, nonetheless, a vested interest in the manner and outcomes of sent the people and the nation as a whole. It is a sentiment more your execution of that office. closely akin to the manWe trust that the United ner in which we regard our We expect a very great deal, and Monarch, and I am humbled States will address the concerns of our World, political, by their example. offer precious little in the way of economic, military; concerns And so, on that basis, and which we, the rest of the world, being no more entitled to thanks or recompense in return have not the strength, the will, foist my opinion upon you nor the unity of purpose to than any other upstart foraddress for ourselves. We trust, indeed we expect, that America will eigner, I write to criticise, and to offer direction. solve the problems which Europe cannot solve, which neither comI do not seek to chide you, or your country, for your involvement merce nor religion has the authority or altruism of motive to solve, in any of the world’s various and seemingly endless procession of which the United Nations does not appear to want to solve. We wars. Such decision is any nation’s sovereign right to make, and its expect, without grounds or even explanation, that America will do reasons for initiating military action may forever remain as secret these things, at her own expense and in the face of our very criticism, as its private acceptance of any of the consequences thereof. for no reason other than that America has done this before, and that Nor do I seek to find fault with America’s much debated and oft these are things which no other nation can do. maligned foreign policies, for I have benefited greatly because of We expect a very great deal, and offer precious little in the way them. My nation has prospered under the Pax Americana, and the of thanks or recompense in return. Yet expect we do, and on top hegemony of the United States has crafted a world most favourof it, we offer critique and advice which we further expect you ably disposed towards the English language and the Christian trato heed. Ours is a galling attitude at best, and although I am not dition. If, as some commentators portend, the American Century proud of our approach, it is one that I am about to contribute is drawing to a close, then that close is one which I personally will to, as I write this letter. view with some bitterness. The peace and security enjoyed by our I should, in fairness, preface my commentary by stating that world these past three generations, imposed and maintained by I would not have voted for you had that been an option for me. American strength, is unprecedented in modern times, and I do I am essentially a right-winger and a conservative, and were I an not relish the prospect of its passing. Twice in recent history the American voter, I would be a Republican. I would have given my United States has come to rescue the rest of humanity from tyrsupport to John McCain for that reason, and because, in my opin- anny and oppression, and it is a heavy realisation indeed that we ion, he has experience which you do not; many years’ greater length may not reasonably expect a third such intervention. 20 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
I do not, in fact, seek issue with any American dealings with tyranny in the outside world. Rather, my concern is with what I perceive to be a growing tyranny inside America’s own borders, a tyranny created by her own forces of Government, and directed towards her own peoples. Already, we see in such insidious legations as the Patriot Act, a diminution of American freedoms; freedoms hard won and long defended, freedoms to which many of the peoples of the world may only aspire. In their erosion we see fear, paranoia, and that most un-American response of all, a cowing in the face of adversity. In America’s reply to terrorism I see an evil met with the most terrible of reactions – the creation of an even greater evil. The United States, browbeaten away from boldness by the incessant harping of her many enemies, internal and external, retreating behind her own walls and denying herself the trust of her friends, is at risk of becoming precisely the like of that which she reviles. The Framers of the Constitution did not see Americans as bowing to tyranny, as shying from danger in pursuit of their rights, as shirking the responsibility of action in the face of the irrational demands of the credulous or the weak of heart. Rather, they gave Americans the tools that free and honest men needed to protect that freedom and that honesty. Most powerful of these tools was, and is, the Second Amendment. The right of Americans to bear arms lies at the heart of American democracy, of the creation of the Republic itself; repressive Governance was overthrown by free men in the pursuit of self-determination, personal risk ignored for the sake of the greater good. Such has been the embodiment of outward-looking America since the ending of its self-imposed insularity after the First World War. Attempts to revise or overwrite the Second Amendment cut to the very soul of the essence of freedom which gave birth to the United States. Those Framers, in their wisdom, foresaw that a time might come, when the Government so necessary to the service of the new nation, might seek power for its own sake, might look with envy on the very liberty of free men and free states which it was created to protect; might become corrupted in the manner that men may become corrupt. The Second Amendment gave free men the power to enforce their self-evident right to that freedom. It was not included in the Constitution merely to enable the citizens of the Republic to hunt for food, or to shoot targets, or to defend the borders of the United States – that latter responsibility was the preserve of the new nation’s Army. Rather, the militia of which the Constitution speaks was intended to preserve the rights and freedoms of the individual States of the Union. Indeed, as the District of Columbia Circuit Court found, when it overturned Washington’s unconstitutional ban on handguns, “the people’s right to arms was auxiliary to the natural right of self-preservation,” which was “understood as the right to defend oneself against attacks by lawless individuals, or, if absolutely necessary, to resist and throw off a tyrannical government.” The militia was intended to guard against the enemy within, not the enemy without. I would respectfully submit, Mr President, that it is not the place of politicians to oppose or seek to limit that power. It cannot be excused on the basis that arms available to the people may, and will, be used in the commission of crime; that horse has long since bolted, never to return, and it is a fact that an armed citizenry is able to protect against the actions of armed criminals. By Constitutional intent, all and any arms available to the Federal Government, must also be available to the militias of
the States. There is no risk or evil inherent in this desire for balance; a good and honest Government has nothing to fear from an armed population. Why should a foreigner hold such concerns, and sufficiently dear to express them, Mr President? Because, selfishly if nothing else, I should very much not care to endure a world in which the freedoms of Americans, and more particularly the example which those freedoms set to the Governments of other nations, were ever undone by political forces, disingenuous or humanistic, promising in that undoing the strengthening of liberty and security, and delivering instead the diminishing of both. If such should come about, then the shining light which has long been America will have been transformed by stealth into the very same evil Empire which once it purported to oppose; and if that were to happen, then I fear that a great darkness would be upon the world. Take America forward, President Obama; keep her true to the ideals of her founding fathers, keep her flag flying, keep her ramparts safe and proud, that she may always be the inspiration she has become, a citadel of hope and freedom in our time of troubled civilisation. But leave the Second Amendment alone, Mr President. I would humbly remind you that yours is not the legal authority nor the moral right to tamper with it; and remember, always, that the essential and inspiringly selfless paradox of its existence, is that it was authored by those who crafted the office you now hold, solely to ensure that they themselves, and you, their heir, would never have sufficient monopoly of physical strength to do so either. Good luck with your Presidency, Mr Obama, and may God Bless America.
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www.stressless.co.nz INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 21
> line one
The rise of the robber-barons
e seem to have finally reached a time when crime Enron, headed up by some of the most talented crooks ever to really pays, and not only amongst the more traditional wear a suit, had built up a multi billion dollar business based burglars, robbers and their ilk, but now includes virtu- almost entirely on scamming the US electricity business. Sure, ally all sectors of society. their schemes were multi faceted involving just about every scam So widespread, for instance, has become out and out robbery, that has ever been invented, but their finest hour came, when in that the small scale attacks on an individual’s money and prop- desperate need to produce multi billions of dollars very quickly to erty by Bill Sykes and friends fades into complete insignificance stop the whole crooked business crashing around their ears, one alongside the Grand Theft being daily perpetrated upon us by sil- of Enron’s top guys had a very bright idea. ver haired bandits, draped in five thousand dollar suits. The State of California, so rich it’s amongst the top half dozen We have all been alternatively shocked, and then perhaps amused, economies in the world, had a plentiful and cheap supply of elecat the ongoing reports out of the USA about the wretches who have tricity that not only drove this monster economy, but was also systematically stolen the savings, the pensions and even the shirts reliable, and very well managed… off the backs of their hard working fellow citizens over there. This was a power system so good that it qualified in every respect Of course we at least are shielded from such goings on in good to become Enron’s golden goose. And it was all so simple. For the old Green Clean New Zealand. Would that this was true, because first time since electricity came to California at the turn of the it’s now becoming abundantly clear that whilst our own execu- century, Enron created power shortages that brought about rolling tive hoodlums enjoy the same blackouts. They introduced general reputation amongst breakdowns and failures Why are our main transmission Kiwis, that our rogues at least in transmission lines and are relatively small time, it now switching equipment that lines in such a state of disrepair? seems that we have amongst us quite naturally led, in a now people so skilled in the black privatised market, to masarts associated with large scale Why are the Cook Strait cables more sive price rises. business scams, for them to be By various means, power or less stuffed? easily able to lecture on corpostations suddenly required rate crime at any London or unexpected maintenance New York university and grant PhDs. and all manner of other events very quickly turned the Californian We really are babes in the wood aren’t we when it comes to the power system into a nightmare. Consumer charges went through innocent trust that we unconditionally give to some of the greedy the roof and the cost, plus the lack of reliability of supply started bastards who, with highly polished shoes and an apparent contract to drive industry out of the State. Fortunately for Enron, the State with Old Nick himself, have turned many areas of commerce into Governor, Gray Davis, and apparently most of the State’s elected being little better than that engaged in by a masked man holding representatives, were either on the take from Enron or were just too a knife to your throat while taking your wallet. stupid to see what was going on right under their noses. And thus it In fact, so smooth and sophisticated are these corporate scam was that with de-regulation of an essential service, in this case elecartists that most of us don’t even realise how they are stealing our tricity, came the inevitable opportunity for Enron to make billions. money. We prefer much simpler, common criminals, and getting All it took was organised graft and corruption, and politicians so all excited about locking them up, and then perhaps, losing the key. dumb that frankly they had no idea at all what was being done to Meantime of course, we completely overlook the guys and girls who them and the people that they were meant to represent. through their more upmarket dodgy behaviour make the total take The question that perhaps we should now be asking ourselves of our entire criminal population look like chump change. here in New Zealand when it comes to the extraordinary and As a handy example shall we begin perhaps, by examining our indeed astronomical power charges we now have to suffer, is, hugely inflated power bills, which in recent years, and especially what parallels can be drawn as to what could very well be a near over the last decade, have been shamelessly manipulated by events identical situation? Questions like: Why are our main transmistaken directly, it would appear, from the play book of one of the sion lines in such a state of disrepair? Why are the Cook Strait crookedest corporations ever to operate in the United States. cables more or less stuffed? Why is Auckland’s power infrastruc22 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
ture so old that it was probably installed by people now living in rest homes? And seeing that NZ’s power companies quite plainly haven’t been spending their vast profits on plant and equipment, where’s the money been going? The Americans have a wonderful saying, “Follow the money” which is something right now we sure should be doing. Fact is, despite all the gobbledygook from the power company suits, something quite plainly is very, very wrong. Electricity prices are crippling this country, and, if we want to get real morbid, even killing off our old folk who no longer can afford to keep warm come winter. We need to have immediately, a genuine enquiry, not one conducted by the usual cover up specialists, but one by independent forensic accountants, that could very well lead to a few greedy CEOs here feeling the cold this winter. Otherwise, despite perhaps some of our own personal political beliefs, maybe we should just re-nationalise the whole power system, because, one thing’s for sure, letting the wolf run loose amongst the sheep really hasn’t turned out that well has it? OK, let’s now turn to another bunch of people who also quite shamelessly are picking our pockets...The supermarkets and some of their main suppliers, who now appear to have entered a new phase of deceptive marketing that is both clever and unethical, but very effective. Apart from engaging in continual price gouging, which is after all a skill that anyone selling food learns at mother’s knee, their spin doctoring or marketing, packaging and display techniques are now so sophisticated in their cunning that even Machiavelli would be hard pushed to figure out the scams…Just a few examples of the now common practise of seeing the customer ripped off by sheer illusion. Take a given product being offered in the package or container that’s been around for years, only now it contains far less of the actual product. Sure if you look at the fine print on the shelf you may pick up the fact that you’re being tucked up, but the even bigger sign that tells you that “just for this week you can save 20 cents” is all that’s generally needed for it to end up in your basket. “How to sell less for more” takes apparently much skill. We used to call it false pretences! Then there’s the scam based on straight out confusing the customer. This works well by recognising that our now total reliance on calculators has essentially atrophied our abilities to do mental arithmetic. So, the shelves are stacked with say bacon or cheese as just
examples of lots of other products. These goods are packaged in a bewildering array of weights, types, packaging, quality, and then of course price. And you thought that this was done to offer the customer choice didn’t you? Tell me how long do you have to spend to figure out what brand of bacon is the best buy? The week’s special of course is always sold out, so typically we end up grabbing what appears to be the best deal as the all seeing camera on the ceiling records that yet another successful customer manipulation has taken place. In other words we are now being steered towards products that the supermarket operators have essentially rigged to provide them with a maximum profit, and of course we in our turn get far less for our money. Biscuits a bit thinner, maybe fewer of them, but also at a higher price, did we notice that? They blamed the price of fuel for a while didn’t they? Oil is currently well under half the price it was. Are food prices now going down? Meat and dairy products in particular can now only be afforded by the people who are robbing us! Virtually every single product is now inching up and up in price, every second or third week, but of course being Kiwis do we ever complain? I wonder, has it ever occurred to us to agree amongst ourselves to just stop shopping at one of the big supermarket chains? Doesn’t matter which one but can you imagine how long it would take for food prices to drop back where they should be if one of the chains suddenly found that it had no customers. What would happen to prices as they panicked and then slashed prices to get their customers back, or the other big chain who then tried to hang on to all the new customers that had been flooding into their stores. This is how the free market/capitalism is meant to work. It needs our input, we need to be far stroppier and let these roosters know that we are on to them when they quite blatantly rob us blind or pick our pockets. Then again you can always call talk back and have a moan, maybe write a letter to the editor. Stuff all will happen of course, excepting that the rogues and con artists will have a bit of a chuckle as they move onto their next scheme to ease you out of your money. Talk about being authors of our own misfortune! I’m sure the Good Book when it exhorted the faithful to turn the other cheek didn’t expect us to lift our shirts as well! But then again, apparently the meek are expected to inherit the earth, so we should have no trouble at all being at the front of the queue in that department. Happy shopping and do enjoy your early winter power bills won’t you. Chris Carter appears in association with www.snitch.co.nz, a must-see site.
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ur new National led government finds itself in power from hostile aircraft. It was seen as quite acceptable by the previafter three terms of Labour, taking the reins for better or ous government that the mandatory cueing radar be a separate worse in a world of increasing disarray, from economic and belated acquisition. The reactionary purchase of the Javelin crisis affecting the world to an Asia Pacific region far from anti-tank system in response to Kiwi Company’s experience in being stable. Anzac Day having just passed it seems an apt time Bosnia is a frightening example of political ineptitude. to consider the issues as they presently stand. Project Protector, a substantial commitment to modernise the From Gallipoli, to the Long Range Desert Group and the bat- Royal New Zealand Navy’s fleet, is well behind schedule. New tle of Crete in WWII, to counter insurgency in the jungles of Zealand is an island nation with a vast coastline, fisheries and shipBorneo and Malaya, renowned reputations forged in Vietnam, ping lanes that need to be secured. The first priority of a governto arguably the most successful United Nations operation in East ment in regards Defence is that of national security. With key assets Timor one could easily assert, as a nation, we have enough experi- absent, lives, resources and protectorates are put at undue risk. ence to draw on as to what works and what does not, despite the Noted was the somewhat diplomatic response of the current broader environment in which it all takes place. From an excep- president of the Fighter Pilots Association when quizzed on the tional yet frequently ill-fated military history New Zealand should current state and capacity of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in not lack the necessary motivation to remain vigilant, competent an interview on Anzac Day. There are plenty of examples in modand prepared. ern warfare, and Peace Support Operations, where there remains a These lessons seem contrary culture of excuses over preto the current state of the New paredness and acknowledgPeaceful negotiation and Zealand Defence Forces and ment of conflict reality. the decisions that have been It is not without irony diplomacy does not always work. made on the body’s behalf in that the Labour opposirecent years. The impacts of tion now says of the Army’s To ignore this fact is to court those decisions are now blindLight Armoured Vehicle ingly evident. With clear fail(NZLAV), in response to a disaster. To not be prepared for ures in key acquisitions we are proposal some of that fleet clearly not learning from hismay be sold off as they conthat possibility is far worse. The tory. Once more we find ourtinue to sit in storage, that selves guilty of not reading the might be required in geopolitical climate of just the last they political terrain, having illthe future. Their primary equipped personnel expected argument for the disbandfew years makes this to do far more than should be ment of the Skyhawks was humanly expected of them. their lack of operational eminently clear In this way we dishonour the deployment. Yet, as per memories and the sacrifices of Australia’s request, these airthose who have gone before, by not doing our very best to avoid craft were on operational standby for East Timor, without which conflict in the future. the deployment could not have gone ahead. Peaceful negotiation and diplomacy does not always work. To The RSA Review (2005) makes it quite evident that; based on ignore this fact is to court disaster. To not be prepared for that GDP expenditure we could afford everything we require, includpossibility is far worse. The geopolitical climate of just the last ing modern combat aircraft. The real consequences of ignoring few years makes this eminently clear. East Timor to Afghanistan this are yet to be felt. All that is being asked for is a well-rounded has proven those who serve are not provided for in a reasonable Defence Force capable of taking care of itself. It is unlikely that manner. And, it should be pointed out; the consequences are not any politician or diplomat can see into the future any better than the cheque signer’s load to bear. their counterparts of the past. Therefore it would be prudent to The New Zealand Army’s Mistral air defence system can only provide the NZDF with what it needs to do the job expected of be considered a last ditch resort for ground troops under threat it rather than face the consequences of failure head-on. 24 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Soapbox is an occasional column in Investigate. If you have an issue you’d like to sound off about, email 750 words to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lessons of history unlearned
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Can New Zealand afford the costs of emissions trading? In Copenhagen at the end of this year, world leaders are due to thrash out a new climate treaty replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which the UN and lobby groups are hoping will introduce compulsory cuts in carbon emissions and a worldwide trading scheme. IAN WISHART examines some of the submissions to a parliamentary select committee on the hidden costs of following the UN’s grand plan
t’s the hospital pass from Helen; it could equally be called the hospital pass from Hell. In a parliamentary select committee room, officials and members of the public mingle – a parade of witnesses from opposite ends of a very heated (no pun intended) debate about the existence of human-caused global warming. Except, as everyone “knows”, it’s not really about that, it’s about the merits of the previous government’s proposed emissions trading scheme. This is, to all intents and purposes, a de-facto trial of the evidence for and against global warming, under the cover of less sensational terms of reference.
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It’s little wonder the topic is heated – vast fortunes stand to be made or lost trading in carbon markets, using money sucked from the wallets of those at the end of the food chain – consumers. With the world currently in recession, there are those who argue introducing new tax systems to further burden world economies is insane. On the other hand, there are those of a green persuasion who argue failing to rein in CO2 emissions is equally insane. In the middle of all this, John Key’s new National government must navigate the treacherous waters, trying to keep favour with globalist entities like the UN, the World Trade Organisation and others, whilst likewise keeping the public, farmers and business community in the loop. What’s interesting is the weight of opposition to the emissions trading scheme, as evidenced by the submissions published on the parliamentary website this month. Take Dr John Maunder, a former President of the Commission for Climatology of the World Meteorological Organisation from 1989 to 1997 – the ‘lightning years’ of the climate debate that saw the Earth Summit in Rio and later the Kyoto Protocol. In other words, Maunder is no slouch and has been heavily involved in investigating climate change as a top meteorologist. Here’s what he’s just told the Emissions Trading Select Committee: “It is my considered opinion that, despite the findings of the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the science of climate change is not settled, and that all countries including New Zealand should act with considerable caution, particularly in regard to policies that are intended to control the climate. “The extreme measures proposed in the original Bill to ‘mitigate the risks associated with increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere’ would be justified only if there was a very high level of confidence that human and animal produced greenhouse gases cause adverse ‘global warming’. I consider that the science does not provide the needed confidence.” Maunder’s view, like a growing number of top scientists, is that natural factors – particularly the sun – are the primary drivers of climate change on Planet Earth, not humans. “If it really is ‘Nature’ in control of our climate from, for example, solar variations including sunspots…then we really will have to adapt to whatever climate changes arise, and our ability to control such changes will be minimal if not zero,” says Maunder.
nother to warn of the dangers of emissions trading was an industry group representing manufacturers. Oh-ho, you might say, they’re a vested interest! Well, yes, just like every other New Zealander who currently has a job, pays taxes or breathes. Naturally, this industry group, the Greenhouse Policy Coalition is opposed, but its submission contains interesting factual nuggets: “New Zealand produces relatively few industrial emissions (around 29%) compared to other industrialized countries, with the balance coming from agriculture (49%) and the domestic sector (20%). Our emissions profile is more like that of a developing country (Brazil, Argentina) than an industrialized country.” They make the point that major industrial producers have already done their bit: “Most Greenhouse Policy Coalition (GPC) members went through international “World’s Best Practice” benchmarking as part of the preparation to enter into Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements under previous policy and were found to be already 28 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
at world’s best practice or very close to it in their energy intensity. Many of the energy intensive companies have made impressive emission reduction efforts since the 1990’s and some even have their emissions back to 1990 levels despite impressive growth since that time.” The GPC also rejects claims that New Zealand must sign up to Copenhagen or risk a trade backlash: “We heard from the previous government and from environmental group submitters such as Greenpeace, that if New Zealand did not take a leading role in putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, we would risk trade barriers and do untold harm to our “clean green” image, impacting negatively on exports and the tourism sector. “To the extent that such rhetoric has any basis in reality, the specific industries involved are far better placed to respond to their customers’ concerns than is the government. It is also highly unlikely that any foreign consumer buys on the basis of a country’s domestic climate change policies rather than in respect of their views about a particular product. “Where New Zealand produces products more efficiently (from an emissions point of view) than its competitors it should continue to do so, whether these are primary products or otherwise, for the overall global benefit. “It is of course interesting to note in this context that there are other trading countries that will not meet their Kyoto targets (such as Canada) and who have no intention of doing so, yet we do not hear that they are concerned about trade barriers being applied to their exports,” said the GPC submission. At the other end of the political spectrum is the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), an organization representing, as the name suggests, large multi-nationals who stand to make a large amount of money as carbon trading markets are introduced around the world. “IETA has been the leading voice of the business community on the subject of emissions trading since 2000. Our 173 member companies include some of the world’s largest industrial and financial corporations,” begins IETA’s submission. “Governments need to act promptly in order to shift economies onto a low-carbon pathway, with an aim to halve global atmospheric GHG concentrations by mid-century. Emissions trading is continually affirmed as the tool of choice for society to place a price on GHG emissions.” If you had any doubts about the PR push behind this submission, it comes from the “There Is NO Alternative” school of bulldozing: “IETA recommends that New Zealand should commit to an emissions trading scheme in a swift manner, in order to effectively and efficiently place a price on GHG emissions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Lord Nicolas Stern has called climate change the ‘greatest market failure the world has ever seen’ in his renowned Stern Review, and has therein calculated that the costs associated with immediate action are far less than that of delay.” There was also a warning to the John Key government that New Zealand would be forced to mould its policies to that of the globalists when it comes to climate change, including paying international carbon prices: “On 28 January 2009, in its proposal for an international climate agreement to follow the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the European Commission released its vision of an OECD-wide emissions trading scheme in 2015. The proliferation
How much should New Zealand taxpayers spend to save the Northern Hemisphere’s polar bears? Especially when polar bear numbers have grown from 5,000 to 25,000.
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of proposals for cross border trading schemes and the inclusion of potential border trade measures in cap-and-trade design policy, such as those found in the Lieberman-Warner ‘America’s Climate Security Act’ of 2007, show that GHG pricing will increasingly become a major international relations issue.” It’s not surprising that price will “become a major international relations issue”. If international carbon prices increase just a fraction to US$40 a ton, the cost to each NZ household will be somewhere in the region of $3,000 a year. If, as some European Union experts are now suggesting, the price increases to US$120 a ton by 2020, the cost to NZ households will triple to around $9,000 a year. “Moving to a global price, and a global GHG market, is one of IETA’s fundamental goals,” concedes the IETA submission. The political lobby group Oxfam, which may also stand to benefit from greater UN NGO funding if emissions schemes go ahead, is another urging the New Zealand government to immediately combat the perils of climate change. “We must take urgent international action - now- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help poor countries adapt to the likely impacts of global climate change. Rich countries with high per capita emissions, like New Zealand, produce most of the greenhouse gases.” Except, as we’ve seen, New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are tiny. Then there’s South Island truffle fancier Gareth Renowden, an “immediate past president of the NZ Truffle Association” and self-appointed ‘expert’ on human-caused climate change, who in March had told one tribunal: “Action to restrict emissions in NZ will have no discernible impact on climate change in either NZ or the globe.” But despite this glaring admission, Renowden made a submission to the parliamentary committee saying: “Emissions reductions in NZ will need to mirror those of our key trading partners, whatever our local circumstances.” That could be interpreted as good news, because Australia has shelved its emissions trading scheme in the meantime. Renowden’s key line of reasoning appears to be that even though the US and Europe have created most of the CO2 emissions, that New Zealand should shoulder a much bigger burden than we’re responsible for so as “we are seen to be playing our part”. The costs to New Zealand families of bearing this extra burden, says Renowden, are nothing compared to the costs of global warming. To justify his claim, Renowden then tells Parliament’s ETS committee: “Recent indications are that the pace of climate change has speeded up. Summer sea ice decline in the Arctic has been steep in recent years, ice mass loss in Greenland and Antarctica has increased, and expert views on likely sea level rise over the course of this century now run from lm upwards.” Unfortunately, Renowden’s testimony was out of date before he even delivered it, as this extract from the journal Science three months earlier embarrassingly reveals. “Ice loss in Greenland has had some climatologists speculating that global warming might have brought on a scary new regime of wildly heightened ice loss and an ever faster rise in sea level. But glaciologists reported at the American Geophysical Union meeting that Greenland ice’s Armageddon has come to an end,” reported Science. 30 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
If this stunning revelation had only been published a week before Renowden’s April submission, you could overlook the error. But this report dated all the way back to January. “‘It has come to an end,’ glaciologist Tavi Murray of Swansea University in the United Kingdom said during a session at the meeting. ‘There seems to have been a synchronous switch-off’ of the speed-up, she said. Nearly everywhere around southeast Greenland, outlet glacier flows have returned to the levels of 2000…no one should be extrapolating the ice’s recent wild behavior into the future.” As for sea level increases of “1m upwards”, Renowden was also dumped on by a series of studies published last year and whose findings are in the book Air Con. “For Greenland alone to raise sea level by two metres by 2100, all of the outlet glaciers involved would need to move more than three times faster than the fastest outlet glaciers ever observed, or more than 70 times faster than they presently move,” reported Colorado scientist, Tad Pfeffer, in a joint Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research/Scripps Institute of Oceanography study published in September last year. “And they would have to start moving that fast today, not 10 years from now. It is a simple argument with no fancy physics.” So how much is Greenland currently melting, after the “hottest” period in recent history? “It is now estimated that Greenland is accountable for a half millimeter rise in global sea level per year,” Air Con quotes one recent scientific study taken before the ice Armageddon suddenly stopped. For the uninitiated, at its peak melt Greenland would have contributed 50 millimetres to global sea level rise by the end of this century, or roughly two inches. As for Antarctica melting, which Renowden referred to, latest satellite data (cited in Air Con) shows Antarctic sea ice at record levels and scientists admit the ice continent is mostly cooling, and cooling quite rapidly.
nd what about Renowden’s assurances to the select committee that “experts” were agreed we were heading for sea level increases of a metre or more? “Sea level rise is not only seen in the record, but is accelerating,” said the truffle farmer, whose knowledge of climate change has been praised by the Royal Society of New Zealand. Well, according to the latest satellite data from the TOPEX/ Poseidon and Jason 1 missions published in late 2008, despite the 2000s being the hottest decade in recent memory according to Renowden’s 2009 testimony, the rate of sea level increase has dropped by 30%, from 3mm a year down to 2mm a year since 2005, or 20cm for the entire century if extrapolated out – a slow down, not an acceleration, in rising sea levels. The irony is that Renowden had told the select committee that they should expect high standards from submitters: “I think the committee might like to reflect upon the factual accuracy expected of those making submissions. It is of course perfectly proper for a submitter to offer an opinion upon any matter related to the committee’s remit, but I have to suggest that when it comes to matters of fact the committee should hold submitters to a suitable standard of evidential accuracy.” The submission from Federated Farmers, meanwhile, gathered major media attention because agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy. Farmers are adamant that joining an emissions trading scheme will send New Zealand jobs overseas, destroy
Up until this year scientists believed greenhouse gases were causing the Atlantic to warm up, adding to the stress on the Arctic and intensifying hurricanes. However, studies released in April this year revealed 70% of Atlantic warming is a direct result of how much dust is blown across from the Sahara Desert. Carbon dioxide is no longer thought to play a major role.
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farming and cripple the New Zealand economy forever. “New Zealand farmers operate in an unsubsidised environment and are viewed internationally as highly efficient. Currently available mitigation measures are simply destocking (growing fewer cattle or sheep). The local economic and social impact of a destocking strategy is ably demonstrated by the impacts of recent droughts. A lose, lose situation for New Zealand. “Environmentally it simply does not make sense to introduce a regime for New Zealand agriculture that forces production to less efficient jurisdictions- again a lose, lose situation for New Zealand and for the global environment . “Farmer opposition to government efforts on climate change policy has been consistent over the years. At the heart of such opposition is an understanding of the farming sector being expected to shoulder a burden that neither makes sense nor leaves this sector and the country as a whole, economically-viable. This is why Federated Farmers of New Zealand has consistently opposed the government’s decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, the proposal to introduce a levy on livestock to fund agricultural emissions research in 2003, the proposal to introduce a carbon tax in 2005, and more recently the introduction of the emissions trading scheme in 2008. “It is abundantly clear to the federation that the current emissions trading scheme is unsustainable for New Zealand and on this basis it should not proceed. Over the last twelve months the federation has gained greater knowledge about the economic effect of such a scheme on the farming sector and our country. This organisation is also acutely aware of the severe global economic recession and the subsequent impact this will have on global trade, both now and in the future.”
ne of the key areas of concern is that ratifying Kyoto, and later this year Copenhagen, will have no measurable effect on world temperatures – supposedly the whole point of the exercise. Climate advisors to US President Bill Clinton spelt out that even if all countries in the world ratified Kyoto, temperatures would only drop 0.07C by 2050 – not even inside the margin of error for measuring temperatures. While carbon traders get rich, there’s no guarantee that emissions trading would have any environmental benefit. “Chief among those flaws,” says the Federated Farmers submission, “was the insistence that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was quite separate from the domestic policy response New Zealand would have to undertake to honour the Protocol’s obligations, and the absence of any effort to quantify the environmental benefits of ratification. “Federated Farmers argued then, and continues to argue now, that it is irresponsible for any government to commit to honour treaty obligations without first having a clear idea of how that could be done in a fair and just manner. The resulting policy failures for the agricultural emissions research levy in 2003, the carbon tax in 2005, and now the emissions trading scheme highlight the political problems for blindly taking action. “To ensure that New Zealand undertakes action that is in the country’s long-term interests, Federated Farmers supports the select committee considering it a priority for robust regulatory impact and cost-benefit analysis to be completed as part of its review into the emissions trading scheme. “That the environmental benefits of ratification could not be clearly outlined then and continue to remain largely unknown is 32 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
an indictment against government process around climate change. Federated Farmers argued that where the environmental benefits of ratification cannot be described, that the government should instead focus on the more easily discernible effects of New Zealand being a party to the Kyoto Protocol. This clearly has not happened with any robustness over the years since New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Protocol.” In other words, New Zealand has blindly followed the advice of those who argue we have to join international movements regardless of whether it actually works, purely so we can be seen to be “playing our part”. One thing farmers are demanding is that the New Zealand government do more to correct the false image that food airfreighted to Europe from New Zealand is a big contributor to GHG emissions: “New Zealand has often been picked out as a poor choice for sourcing food because of false perceptions of the unsustainability of sending food halfway across the globe to market. Research more recently from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (Distance Isn’t Dead, NZIER, 2009) highlights how erroneous this is when such claims take no account of the production of food, or the emissions footprint of how it is sent from New Zealand. The distance a product travels is by no means a helpful indicator of the sustainability of that product. “Page five of the NZIER report draws comparisons between the energy involved in transporting product to market and the energy involved within the market and finds the energy consumed by a family driving 6.4km to collect 20kg of food at the supermarket is the same as that consumed by sending that same amount of food over 8,500km by sea. “New Zealand is able to produce high quality food products in off-peak seasons to the production of similar foods in the Northern Hemisphere and New Zealand is able to do so at lower cost and lower impact on global emissions than production elsewhere in the world. This is something that the world should celebrate. New Zealand should not be constrained by narrow rules under the Kyoto Protocol. For every space on Northern Hemisphere supermarket shelves that isn’t satisfied by New Zealand food, there is a very real risk that that will be filled by food from less efficient production closer to market. This is hardly a good result for consumers, our markets or the environment and does not meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol. “New Zealand must ensure its world leadership in low emission farming is reflected in the rules for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This means that the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol must not capture biological emissions generated by farm animals. “Climate change is a global issue and it demands global solutions. New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally and that is how we are able to feed almost one percent of the world but generate only a tenth of that in emissions. This efficiency must be the starting point for negotiations. “Simply put, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol must exclude or exempt countries from responsibility for agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions,” states the Federated Farmers submission. But what about the science underpinning human-caused global warming theory? Australian geologist and author of more than 100 climate-related scientific papers, Dr Bob Carter, gave the select committee some
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of the skeptical scientific overview of why modern warming is not unusual, or anything to panic over: “Natural climate change occurs on a range of time scales from millions of years down through millennial and centennial scales to the 11 year sunspot cycle and the several-year El Nino-La Nina oscillation,” says Carter. “With respect to these climate changes, extensive geological databases (including lake, ocean and ice-cap cores) and meteorological records show that: “A. Over the recent geological past, the global average temperature on the planet has varied between 2-3 deg. C warmer and 6-8 deg. C cooler than today. Changes between colder (glacial) and warmer (interglacial) climatic states have often taken place rapidly. “B. Neither the rate nor the magnitude of warming during the late 20th century, nor the cooling since 1998, are in any way exceptional; both fall well within the normal bounds of natural climate change. “C. The best available meteorological records show that there has been no significant net global warming at all since 1958, nor since 1979 apart from a small step across the 1998 El Nino event, and that stasis and gentle cooling has occurred since 1998. “D. Since 1958 there has been an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, partly due to human emissions, of more than 20%. That there has been no concomitant increase in global temperature invalidates the IPCC hypothesis of dangerous global warming being caused by carbon dioxide emissions.” What are we to make then of the UN IPCC reports? “Since 1990, the IPCC has presented four major assessment reports. In the meantime, thousands of scientists have spent more than US$50 billion in climate related research in attempts to recognize the signature of human-caused warming. “Humans have a demonstrable (i.e., measurable) effect on local climate, which is sometimes warming (the urban heat island effect) and sometimes cooling (land clearing and cropping). Adding these effects all over the globe, therefore, must result in a global human climate signal. However, the magnitude (and even the sign) of this global signal remains unknown. “Despite the expenditure of large amounts of time, money and research effort, no global human climate signal has ever been isolated or measured. Its magnitude is therefore small, and it must lie obscured within the noise and variation of natural climate change. “Mitigation or adaptation? Before a process can be mitigated, it has to be accurately identified and specified. As no human global climate signal has yet been unequivocally identified, the potential signal can only be mitigated on a precautionary basis. “But, equally, you can only take precautions against a known phenomenon. Global temperature has not increased since 1958 (radiosonde record), and the slight warming that occurred between 1979 and 1998 has been followed by stasis and, since 2002, cooling. Application of a precautionary approach must then now require taking precautions against cooling rather than warming. “The main thing that is known about future climate change is that it will continue. Coolings, warmings, abrupt changes and severe weather events are all certain to occur, and are unpredictable in detail. “No known policy option can mitigate all these different processes; adaptation is therefore the only feasible option. “That increases in emission of carbon dioxide have failed to produce measurable warming does not invalidate the fact that carbon 34 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Rather, it shows that at recent past, present and near future concentrations, the temperature sensitivity of carbon dioxide increases is very small. This is in accord with empirical evidence of the logarithmic relationship between increasing carbon dioxide and increasing temperature (IPCC), and with theoretical calculations that doubling carbon dioxide from pre-industrial levels will result in warming of about one degree or less. “Given the very low climate sensitivity of increasing carbon dioxide over the likely range of atmospheric concentrations of c. 280-600ppm, making cuts to human emissions, or even stopping them altogether, will make no measurable difference to future global temperature. “In other words, mitigation of even theoretical global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions is not a feasible policy option,” warns Bob Carter’s submission. “Even large cuts in emissions would have a negligible effect on that warming. For example, if NZ terminated all human carbon dioxide emissions the theoretical cooling that might result is of the order of 1/1000 of a degree.” For fruit and vegetable growers, the impact of any emissions trading scheme could be disastrous, and the warning they give about increased building costs will apply equally to the costs of residential housing: “Growers rightly anticipate that new building, plant and machinery costs imported and locally produced will all rise as suppliers of these products will have to account for (pay for) the emissions associated with the manufacturing of these inputs,” warns the Horticulture NZ submission. “The horticultural sectors are presently struggling to export profitably due to the deteriorating global financial situation, and are battling cost increases - mostly energy, transport and labour. “Additional energy related production costs cannot be absorbed or passed on by our growers. They are price takers not price makers. “All horticultural sectors fear that our ability to compete both on export and domestic markets will be compromised, as buyers of our products seek alternatives from nations which do not have an emissions trading scheme and hence buyers can buy for a lower cost. “Similarly imported horticultural products from nations without an ETS or carbon tax will outperform New Zealand products on our supermarket shelves.” The end result, says Horticulture NZ, could be larger growers transferring more of their operations to Australia with the loss of jobs in New Zealand. “Some major greenhouse owners have stated that their business growth plans are orientated to expansion in Australia not New Zealand fearing the additional costs of an emissions trading scheme in New Zealand. This will result in lower job growth in places like Auckland especially.” The parliamentary select committee on the Emissions Trading Scheme clearly has a tough job in front of it, but that’s just the start. Whatever the committee recommends, the National Government has to make a final decision whether it will accept the advice. The question is whose voices will be heard the most? Environmentalists? UN and multinational interests? Local NZ businesses and farmers? The NZ public? With the proposed Copenhagen Treaty now just six months away, the pressure is mounting. n
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Re-writing history gains momentum
The culture-war against Britain’s naval and maritime traditions is an attempt to erase national memory, HAL G.P. COLEBATCH writes
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he attack on military and naval history and traditions is important for the Britain’s increasingly triumphalist Adversary Culture, abetted by the “New Labour” regime which took power in 1997. The BBC refused to televise celebrations of the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday or a one-off Royal Military Tattoo (apparently introduced to quieten protests about the scrapping of the Royal Tournament until it was all forgotten) on the grounds that it would not make “good television.” Veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby said the pageant would evoke emotions unacceptable to “those same television executives who fashionably adopt a football team and chant with fervour from the terraces to demonstrate their blokish credentials.” Admiralty Arch, from which the campaign against the U-Boats was masterminded in World War II, was chosen to quarter a small group of homeless people – it was too small to provide accommodation to an economically sensible number, and there were larger empty buildings all over London better suited for the purpose. It was plainly put to this use to distress, humiliate and demoralize traditionalists and patriots. Beating Retreat, one of the most famous British military ceremonies, involving the massed bands of the Household Division, was scheduled to follow the Royal Tournament and the field-gun race into oblivion. This was in spite of even the merely commercial fact that it was a major tourist attraction. (Tourism is one of the key drivers of the British economy). The much-loved Naval field-gun race was abolished in 1999 as being too rough, boisterous and traditional for the modern armed services. One commentator wrote of it: “What the public see is a field-gun barrel being thrown around as though it were balsa wood. For a lark some years ago we dropped it from a tree on to a clapped-out car. It cut the car in half.” The Queen possibly boycotted, or at least did not attend, the last tournament in what was coming to be seen as a typically ineffectual, or perhaps imaginary, Royal protest. The 2000 Tattoo, commencing with King Alfred rallying the English against the Danes, dissolved into pop songs and the “sentimental pacifist slop” Where Have All The Flowers Gone? In 1997 I wrote a science-fiction novella, “Telepath’s Dance,” published in The Man-Kzin Wars. It was set in a coercive, politically-correct future and began with the heroine learning the British National Maritime Museum at Greenwich had got rid of hundreds of old model warships as politically-incorrect History. I was too cautious a prophet. I set my story in the middle of the 25th Century. The Greenwich National Maritime Museum has had one of the most comprehensive exhibitions in the world of Trafalgar and the Nelsonian Navy, including Nelson’s last uniform complete with bullet-hole, the bullet which killed him, and discshaped layers of fabric the bullet carried into his body (there are also Naval museums at Portsmouth with HMS Victory and specialised museums for gunnery, submarines, etc., but these are less accessible to many people and the ordinary flow of tourists than is that at Greenwich). It has kept hundreds of intricate and perfect scale models of wooden and metal merchant and fighting ships and a superb gallery of classical maritime paintings, and has told the story of Britain at sea, including the century between Trafalgar and Jutland of relative International peace and progress in many parts of the world, of Britain’s literally epoch-making initiative in giving its 38 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
incomparable maps and charts (previously generally regarded as trade and State secrets) to all nations, the unparalleled achievements of its explorers, scientists and navigators in literally every sea and ocean, its lead in suppressing the slave-trade, and of its defence through sea-power of itself and other nations against world-threatening tyrannies. On visits over more than 20 years I have spent many hours wandering its galleries and grounds. On every occasion the only complaint I had was that it was too crowded with other tourists. It was announced in January, 1999, that the museum would be Modernised. Richard Ormond, the new director, announced that it was “old-fashioned” and must change with the times. He explained in a classic combination of historical inaccuracy, sociobabble and New Labourspeak that: [W]hen this museum was created the Red Ensign ruled supreme [sic. The Red Ensign is only for merchant ships] and as a maritime nation we were on the crest of a great wave [sic. The Museum opened in April, 1937, when British was still recovering from the Depression. Much of its merchant fleet was still laid up. Britain carried 56% of the world’s trade in 1900 and 26.5% in 1939]. We are in a different world today ... Unless we find new intellectual purpose and bring home to people that the sea is still central to their lives, we will become a side-
“On visits over more than 20 years I have spent many hours wandering its galleries and grounds. On every occasion the only complaint I had was that it was too crowded with other tourists”
show museum dealing with traditional artefacts to an increasingly limited market. In obeisance to this diktat most of the paintings and scale models would be replaced by politically-correct exhibitions about slavery and history “from the position of the colonised.” One display would show a woman in 18th Century costume with a manacled black person reaching out to her, and poor proletarians. Mr Ormond’s suggested text was: “The slave trade was driven by the need for an English cup of tea.” The Atlantic slave trade was to provide labour for West Indian sugar plantations, the sugar largely used for making molasses and rum, and for American cotton plantations. Tea came from India and China. There was possibly some confusion between the slave-trade and that other potent source of guilt, the China opium trade, since opium had
been traded for tea, the two merging into one all-encompassing miasma of historic British evil. There were also to be large displays on global warming, damage to the ozone layer, marine pollution, threatened fish stocks and the “danger of rising sea levels” all apparently designed to attract and excite the school-children who were already being harangued ad nauseam if with sometimes questionable accuracy about these matters in their classes. One would have thought even the teachers who spent so much of their salaried time taking school-classes to museums in preference to more intellectually-demanding pedagogical tasks would have welcomed a change in the form of a few model ships, Nelsonian uniforms and traditional dioramas. Mr Ormond believed care of the sea was a “Number One international issue.” It sounded like a repeat, on a permanent INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 39
“Museums contained physical objects that real people once made and used, and helped tell us who we were and what we might be again, particularly the National Maritime Museum. The new museum would remove this physical link. Nelson’s uniform would remain, but without the context that gave it meaning” 40 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
basis, of the British pavilion at the Lisbon “Oceans” Expo in 1998. This had started with a T-shirt pinned to the wall bearing the inquiry: “Britain: What springs to mind now?” It was, journalist Ross Benson said, a question which clearly defeated HPICM, the “creative consultancy” which designed it and which was charged with doing the Body Zone in the Millennium Dome. A moving walkway had gone through an electric blue darkness to some model umbrellas which popped up and down in front of a video of people dancing and eating. The next chamber contained peep-holes which revealed slogans proclaiming Britain’s commitment to keeping the seas clear of pollution. It concluded with the story-board of a ship which made one voyage to Lisbon before foundering in 1690. That, Benson commented, to all intents, was the sum of it. But where Britain ignored the likes of Drake and Raleigh and Captain Cook, the Spanish had put together an eight-minute planetarium-style display dedicated to their explorers and navigators. “We are proud of our heritage,” a Spanish official explained. As the cream of modernity at the New Greenwich Museum, there would be works by the Sensations generation of young British artists. Works of this general school have included cut-up animal carcasses, soiled beds and tinned turds (Is the term “poop-deck” to have a whole new meaning?). As it turned out, the Greenwich Museum did not, in 2002 pay £22,300 for a tin of excrement produced by the artist Piero Manzoni – however, the Tate Gallery did. At Greenwich one Tacita Dean had been commissioned to make a “video sculpture about the sea,” and someone with the somehow equally appropriate name of Stefan Gek had already made a sculpture by crushing a buoy in a diving chamber. There was to be a “Caribbean folk sculpture” and a video about weather forecasting was to use “poetry” and talking fish. The destruction of what Greenwich Museum had been and stood for could be seen as an important blow against the traditions and values of middle-culture and against Britain’s historical memory. It seemed the maritime paintings of Turner, like “The Fighting Temeraire”, represented a culture that was to be superseded by that of the Turner Prize, or of Tracey Emin’s urine-stained bedlinen. At a time when Sir Ernest Shackleton was being discovered in America and held up as a hero and exemplar, Shackleton’s boat James Caird had been removed from display at Greenwich to the relative obscurity of Dulwich College. This attack was wide-ranging, the ultimate targets including images of gold-braided captains climbing through the backs of wardroom chairs in guest-night games, ships’ crests and tompions over bars, spade-beards, reefer-jackets and gin in yacht-clubs, scrubbed teak decks, school-boys building model ships from kits and absorbing the statistics of Jane’s, flags whipping in the wind, polished brass letters spelling out FEAR GOD, HONOUR THE KING, carved figure-heads, Long John Silver and Hornblower and even that French creation, Captain Nemo ... Writer Sean Gabb commeted of Mr Ormonde’s claim to be saving the museum from an increasingly limited market that if he believed more people would want to look at his talking fish than at the bullet hole in Nelson’s uniform, he was a fool. There was no need for the museum to be changed, and the changes that were to be made would repel visitors once word got around. Since then these predictions have been fulfilled. The late Professor Leslie Marchant, a former ship’s officer and internationally-known scholar, told me that the last time he visited the museum, in contrast to every previous visit he had made, and in contrast to my own earlier experiences, there was only a small
sprinkling of people, though the Cutty Sark in dry-dock nearby was still attracting its usual crowds. Gabb argued that the real reason behind this cultural vandalism was not to attract more visitors but to stop the museum being what it had been. He suggested the real agenda sprang from an idea that patriotism was a Bad Thing and its destruction was a Good Thing. He commented on how cleverly the old Naval exhibitions have been replaced. There would, he said, be much dwelling on the commercial interests that benefited from the slave trade, but hardly any on the unique importance of the Royal Navy in suppressing that trade or on the uniqueness of England as the first country to abolish slavery. The aim was not to convey information, true or false. It was to use race to frighten people from complaining until what they had lost had been forgotten. Museums must be primary in this war against the past. They contained physical objects that real people once made and used, and helped tell us who we were and what we might be again, particularly the National Maritime Museum. The new museum would remove this physical link. Nelson’s uniform would remain, but without the context that gave it meaning. As the centrepiece of a museum with guns and scale models of Dreadnoughts, it was the secular equivalent of a saint’s relic. As an appendage to a PC circus of modern art and moans about racism and the environment, it was at best a piece of blue cloth with a hole in it, at worst tainted with all the sins alleged against British history. Gabb said that after complaining to the BBC he
an island or had had modern Navies remotely comparable to the British. None had ever built a Dreadnought or an aircraft-carrier. They had not left their names covering the charts of all the seas. They had created neither the Plimsoll line nor the screw-propeller, the carronade nor Time Interval Compensating Gear. I n the Napoleonic wars Britain had kept about 120 Ships of the Line, 200 frigates and thousands of smaller naval craft at sea, from the Nile to Elsinore, from the Arctic and the Saint Lawrence River to Tasmania and the Philippines, and its naval and merchant fleets had defeated Napoleon’s Continental System. When, with considerable exertion and ingenuity, French forces in Egypt transported of a gun-boat in pieces across the isthmus of Suez and assembled it at the Red Sea to assert French sea-power there, the British response, before its keel ever kissed the water, was to sail past a squadron of Ships of the Line. Greece and Norway did not exist then as independent nations and the Dutch Navy had been captured by the French. The Dutch did not discover the means of determining Longitude at sea (the West Australian coast where I grew up is littered with wrecks of Dutch ships which crashed into it heading East along a rhumb-line from the Cape of Good Hope and failing to turn North in time). The Greenwich Meridian testifies that Britain led the world by an incomparable margin in Navigation. Longitude and the world’s time-keeping is not based on an Athens, Amsterdam or Oslo Meridian. In January, 2000, it was reported that a display of 300-year-old antique clocks at the Greenwich Observatory, used
“The Greenwich Meridian testifies that Britain led the world by an incomparable margin in Navigation. Longitude and the world’s time-keeping is not based on an Athens, Amsterdam or Oslo Meridian” was invited to debate Osborne on television and as a result had received a lot of support. However, he asked, why was he the only person available to argue? Where were the Tory MPs, the maritime historians, the retired naval commanders? Skulking in the clubs, I have no doubt – terrified to oppose the prevailing opinions, and hoping those opinions would not fully prevail while they were still around to suffer the consequences. At the museum’s new website the introduction, signed by Roger Knight, the Deputy Director, stated in childish, patronising style: No other facet of national life has changed so radically than [sic] Britain’s relationship with the sea. There is no lifeline to the Empire to maintain because there is no Empire ... [loading and unloading ships] is done away from the public eye in great fenced sites away from cities; and a good thing, too, for a container port is a dangerous place for the unwary ... Out of sight, and largely out of mind, the sea is remote form [sic] the ordinary citizen. It claimed, with spelling, grammatical and factual errors (“we burn carbons” presumably meant “we burn hydrocarbons”), that the British had lost interest in the sea, and possibly Britain had never been a maritime nation anyway, but “a fringe culture which is fascinated by the sea.” The “intuitively maritime nations” had been, as far as one could gather from the unclear prose, “the Norwegians, the Dutch or the Greeks”, though none of these were founded on
to discover the method of calculating longitude, had, in contrast to the poor attendances at the Millennium Dome, attracted the astonishing attendance figure of 30,000 people in two weeks. We were told: “’Trade and Empire’ ... does not flinch from the slavery issue.” Why might it “flinch from” it? Does the museum fear outraged slavers will descend on it with kurbashes? Anyway, Britain’s lead in abolishing slavery and suppressing the international slave-trade was something to be proud of, as even Hollywood (in some ways traditionally vaguely anti-Royal Navy) made plain in the film Amistad. Lord Chief Justice Mansfield ruled in 1772 that slavery, taken for granted under various names in most of the rest of the world, was “so odious” as to be incompatible with the Common Law of England. When a black slave who had escaped from a visiting ship was brought before him, the owner demanding the restoration of his property, the slave begging to stay, Lord Mansfield stated somewhat crustily that: “The air of England is too pure to be breathed by any slave.” This dictum may have momentarily lifted the slave-owner’s hopes, however His Lordship did not mean that the runaway was to be returned but that any slave who set foot on English soil was thereby automatically free. Sierra Leone was set up as early as 1787, two years before the French Revolution, as a colony for freed slaves. E dmund Burke, very much against his own political interests, attacked the slave-trade in his electorate of Bristol. Denmark INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 41
banned the slave-trade in 1802, five years before England, but England was the first nation to enforce the ban with international action, spending much public money on it and putting very determined pressure on the other great powers, even risking war by stopping their ships at sea, and even amid the pressures of the Napoleonic and American Wars. At times the suppression of slavery cost 40% of the entire Royal Navy’s budget.
ne of the greatest black leaders of the early 19th Century, the Haitian Pompee Valentin de Vastey, wrote in praise of “noble and generous England” and said blacks would be “most ungrateful and unjust were we ever deficient in gratitude to the government and people of England.” Slavery was made illegal throughout the Empire in 1833. Canada was a haven for escaped US slaves. (Nothing is said about the recent re-introduction of slavery in the Sudan, where the authorities appear to take a lenient if not actually supportive view of the enslavement of Christians and animists by Moslems). There was modish gibberish, combining didacticism with a peculiar deadness of language and feeling: One fact, above all others, links this varied and colourful menu: we believe that the sea is a key part of shaping British identity, and that by presenting the collections through a modern frame of reference some of the recent agonising over national identity may be more understandable. Not exactly Kipling’s: The south wind sighed, From the Virgins, my mid-sea course was ta’en over a thousand islands, lost in an idle main. Where the sea-egg flames on the coral, and the long-backed breakers croon, their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon ... Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone but over the scud and the palm-trees, the English flag has flown .. A treasure-house of poetry might have been made available by the Museum’s guardians to awake a sense of richness, wonderment, action, daring, achievement, a sense of the world’s width and romance. They might have turned to Ernest Favenc’s “Song of the Torres Strait Isles” which begins with the magnificent, rolling line, deep-laden with imagery in simple words: “Bold Torres the sailor came and went, with his swarthy, storm-worn band,” and its evocation of the monsoon sweeping, year in, year out, “the isles of the coral shore,” building to its triumphant: A rattle of arms and a roll of drums, And the meteor flag flies free, And an English voice proclaims King George Lord of that tropic sea. The parrots scream as the volleys flash, The gulls their haunts vacate. And the “South-East” fills the Endeavour’s sails As she heads through the northern strait .. If somewhat Nationalistic verse was beyond them, for prose the powers behind the museum might have done worse than go to the sea-rat in The Wind in the Willows: [W]as it speech entirely, or did it pass at times into song – chantey of sailors weighing the dripping anchor, sonorous hum in the shrouds in a tearing North-Easter, ballad of the fishermen hauling in his nets at sundown, chords of guitar and mandolin from gondola or caique? Did it change into the cry of the wind, plaintive at first, angrily shrill as it freshened, rising to a tearing whistle, sinking 42 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
to a musical trickle of air from the leech of the bellying sail? ... the hungry complaint of the gulls and sea-mews, the soft thunder of the breaking wave, the cry of the protesting shingle. Back into speech it passed, and with beating heart he was following the adventures of a dozen sea-ports, the fights, the escapes, the rallies, the comradeships, the gallant undertakings; or he searched islands for treasure, fished in still lagoons or dozed day-long on warm white sand. Of deep-sea fishing he heard tell, and mighty silver gatherings in the mile-long net; of sudden perils, noise of breakers on a moonless night, or the tall bows of a great liner taking shape overhead through fog; of the merry homecoming, the headland rounded, the harbour lights opening out: groups seen dimly on the quay, the cheery hail, the splash of the hawser; the trudge up the steep little street towards the comforting glow of red-curtained windows ... The introduction continued, identifying false consciousness and consigning it to the rubbish-heap of history. It gloated that “Traditionalists may be uncomfortable” and continued:
Where are the reassuring, massed displays, consistent reminders of British supremacy, when the biggest and best ships carried British naval power, trade and irresistible traditions to that part of the world upon which the sun never set? The answer must be, that if they were ever there, those values were never a reality for a large part of the population and will never be accepted by the citizens of the next century. Note, apart from the strange paragraph structure, and the segue by which the word “values” is introduced, the patronising word “reassuring” with its suggestion of comforting neurotic or childish fears and insecurities. The “reassuring” massed displays are, it is implied in an almost subliminal sub-text, something only a neurotic, a child or a Blimp would want. Who but a Nazi at a Nuremberg rally would want “reassuring, massed displays ... reminders of supremacy”? However inept some of the museum’s literature is, language is used with some subtlety to convey a message here. Everything we know of British 18th and 19th Century history shows widespread fascination and feeling of relationship with the
sea, intimately a part of British culture and tradition and giving an extra dimension of richness and meaning to the imagination. Ship-paintings of artists like Turner and the descriptions of ships in prose had to be accurate down to minute details. Naval and maritime songs and ballads proliferated. Robert Southey’s Life of Nelson was a great best-seller. Britain was one of the first countries to take up yachting for pleasure, and in a previous incarnation the Mirror newspaper created the Mirror sailing-dinghy to make a small, transportable sailing-boat for people on small incomes. In the early 20th Century a very large part of the community was involved in debate on the 12-inch-gunned Dreadnought and technical aspects of the Naval building programme. Not only of a Kipling or a Henty, but also of a socialist like H. G. Wells, could write of: “the lyric delight in sounds and colours, in the very odours of empire ... wonderful discovery of machinery and cotton waste and the under officer and the engineer.” Wells, born in 1866, also made the point that as an 11-year-old, on his way back to his “dismal bankrupt home” from INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 43
school, if anybody had “confronted me with a Russian prince or a rajah in all his glory and suggested he was my equal, I should have laughed him to scorn.” How paranoid is it to see a very certain political agenda behind the great National maritime museum being changed to suggest that Britain’s relationship with the sea was not really all that special, and, by implication, that Britain is somehow not really an island, among European countries uniquely related to the sea and with a culture shaped by that relationship, but just another part of Europe?
ust possibly as a result of criticism, the National Maritime Museum’s internet site has been changed somewhat since then and political correctness seems less obvious. However, when I searched it again later it remained a show-case to the world of semi-literacy and general shoddiness. The impression gained is that whoever wrote the material has the barest knowledge of and feeling for the subject, indeed almost as little as he or she has for grammar and punctuation. What seemed even more obvious was that nobody in higher authority cared: how otherwise could it go out to the world – as the showcase of one of Britain’s and the world’s great historical and educational institutions – in this form? It began with the arch statement, redolent of Millennium Dome infantility, that: “The entrance to the National Maritime Museum has moved to the main frontage flanked by two buoys to help you navigate your way in.” The putative visitor was then informed that: “Inside Neptune Court you can see close-up everything from Royal barges that ferried Monarch’s [sic. Monarch’s what?] up and down the River Thames [so capitalised] to Greenpeace capsules. “Go upstairs to the Nelson Exhibition and get a pigeon eye [sic] view of Nelson who’s [sic] body laid [sic] in state [sic] in Greenwich just a few yards from this spot after the Battle of Trafalgar.” It continues, with capitals, apostrophes, etc. as follows: “Get close up to Robin Knox-Johnson’s’ [sic] round-the-world yacht or wander into Greenwich Park. On your way up [sic] the Royal Observatory stop by the Titanic Garden’s [sic] and look at the magnificent dolphin sun-dial. The shadow of the dolphins [sic] tail-fins give [sic] accurate time.” This passage is interesting in that, apart from the confusion of singular and plural, in every possible place where an apostrophe should be used it is omitted and in every possible place where it should be omitted it is inserted. It continues in an illiterate burble: “It has seen many famous visitors from Peter the Great through [sic] Charles Dickens to Bob Hope. This and a lot more in Greenwich Past.” This, remember, prides itself on being, and advertises itself as, an educational institution. In the section on “Weapons at Sea” we are told: “From about the mid-19th Century European weaponry began to be markedly superior at sea to that of non-Europeans, and improved naval firepower combined with steam-powered vessels were important factors in the size of empire in the second half of the 19th century.” This is nonsense. European vessels had been dominant at sea since the battle of Lepanto in 1571. Earlier, in the 15th Century, the Chinese Ming Dynasty Government had built great “treasure ships” to cruise the Indian Ocean but this had been given up, not because of superior European weapons but because of changes in domestic Chinese policy. The major empires, particularly the British Empire, were well established in the mid-19th Century. The territories that gave the British Empire its “size,” including India, Canada, Cape Colony, Australia and New Zealand had all been claimed long before. This is one of those passages, increas44 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
ingly common in populist history, even with official imprimatur, so full of interlocking errors that any proper refutation takes a good deal longer than the original to set out even barely. “A dramatic computer-animated version of the Battle of Trafalgar has been produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, of muppet fame, and the uniform worn by Nelson when he died is displayed ...” Presumably this means the uniform worn by Nelson when he was fatally wounded. It was removed while he was being examined. The next step will presumably be Miss Piggy as Lady Hamilton, who was described by some unkind critics as becoming somewhat coarse and blowsy. Given what has gone so far, there is a sort of awful plausibility about the idea of the museum casting Kermit as Nelson. As the Battle of Trafalgar may be thought the climax of Britain’s story at sea, so the site’s description of the exhibition of the battle comes to the climax of stylistic ineptitude. It is heralded in the following Goon-Show prose: The Battle of Trafalgar is described in full computer-animated colour with a voice-over describing the precise tactics which led to the outnumbered British fleet winning the battle against the French and Spanish and securing 100 years of naval supremacy at sea for Britain.” [This is presumably to correct any erroneous impression that it won naval supremacy on land for Britain]. “At this halfway point, also marked by Turner’s largest painting of the Battle of Trafalgar interpreted for the first time with spotlights and a voice-over, unusually, the hero of the exhibition is dead. Loss of historical memory was emphasised to me by a small thing: in Britain in 1973 and in 1983-85 I had often walked beside the Thames embankment where there were moored old ships, including two sloops, the President and Chrysanthemum. I came to think of them, like the Thames itself, as old friends. When I returned in 1997 there was only President. I asked several shopkeepers and stall-holders what had happened to Chrysanthemum, hoping (vainly, as it turned out) that it had been moved to a new berth or was undergoing maintenance rather than that it had been broken up. Warships from World War I are not exactly common. Nobody I spoke to had any idea it had ever been there. I took a train to Richmond and after admiring the beautiful and fascinating Thames-side scenery fell into conversation with some locals in a pub there. I several times mentioned the Second World War, in the context of the destruction of many historic buildings which had once lined the Thames. After a time one of my companions, an adult and a Londoner, remarked to me that he had often heard of the Second World War, and the thing that puzzled him about this phrase was: had there been a First World War? The BBC schools website, meanwhile, offered the following thumbnail sketch of British imperial history: The Empire came to greatness by killing lots of people less sharply armed than themselves and stealing their countries, although their methods later changed; killing lots of people with machine guns came to prominence as the army’s tactic of choice ... It fell to pieces because of various people like Mahatma Gandhi, heroic revolutionary protester, sensitive to the needs of his people. It is all bile, propaganda and self-hatred, financed one way and another by public money. A grotesquely inept, corrupt or actively treacherous government, while claiming to promote or to care for patriotism, schizophrenically promotes or actively drives this, For the past 12 years something extraordinary has been happening in Britain: large sections of its official culture, as well as of its government, have been under the control of people who hate it. n
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www.mistralsoftware.co.nz INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 45
New Holocaust More proof that London’s burning
They’re stories that happen so frequently in Britain now that they don’t make the news. MARK STEYN joins those with growing concern that the UK is on its last legs as a free country
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INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 47
n Holocaust Memorial Day 2008, a group of just under 100 people – Londoners and a few visitors – took a guided tour of the old Jewish East End. They visited, among other sites of interest, the birthplace of my old chum Lionel Bart, the author of Oliver! Three generations of schoolchildren have grown up singing Bart’s lyric: Consider yourself At ’ome! Consider yourself One of the family! Those few dozen London Jews considered themselves at ’ome. But they weren’t. Not any more. The tour was abruptly terminated when the group was pelted with stones, thrown by “youths” – or to be slightly less evasive, in the current euphemism of Fleet Street, “Asian” youths. “If you go any further, you’ll die,” they shouted, in between the flying rubble. A New Yorker who had just moved to Britain to start a job at the Metropolitan University had her head cut open and had to be taken to the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel, causing her to miss the Holocaust Day “interfaith memorial service” at the East London Central Synagogue. Her friend, Eric Litwack from Canada, was also struck but did not require stitches. But if you hadn’t recently landed at Heathrow, it wasn’t that big a deal, not these days: Nobody was killed or permanently disfigured. And given the number of Jewish community events that now require security, perhaps Her Majesty’s Constabulary was right and these Londoners walking the streets of their own city would have been better advised to do so behind a police escort. A European Holocaust Memorial Day on which Jews are stoned sounds like a parody of the old joke that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. According to a 2005 poll by the University of Bielefeld, 62 percent of Germans “are sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews” – which is a cheerfully straightforward way of putting it. Nevertheless, when it comes to “harping on,” these days it’s the Jews who are mostly on the receiving end. While we’re reprising old gags, here’s one a reader reminded me of a couple of years ago, during Israel’s famously “disproportionate” incursion into Lebanon: One day the U.N. Secretary General proposes that, in the interest of global peace and harmony, the world’s soccer players should come together and form one United Nations global soccer team. “Great idea,” says his deputy. “Er, but who would we play?” “Israel, of course.” Ha-ha. It always had a grain of truth, now it’s the whole loaf. “Israel is unfashionable,” a Continental foreign minister said to me a decade back. “But maybe Israel will change, and then fashions will change.” Fashions do change. But however Israel changes, this fashion won’t. The shift of most (non-American) Western opinion against the Jewish state that began in the 1970s was, as my Continental politician had it, simply a reflection of casting: Israel was no longer the underdog but the overdog, and why would that appeal to a post-war polytechnic Euro Left unburdened by Holocaust guilt? Fair enough. Fashions change. But the new Judenhass is not a fashion, simply a stark reality that will metastasize in the years ahead and leave Israel isolated in the international “community” in ways that will make the first decade of this century seem like the good old days. A few months after the curtailed Holocaust Day tour, I found 48 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
myself in that particular corner of Tower Hamlets for the first time in years. Specifically, on Cable Street – the scene of a famous battle in 1936, when Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, in a crude exercise of political muscle, determined to march through the heart of Jewish East London. They were turned back by a mob of local Jews, Irish Catholic dockers, and Communist agitators, all standing under the Spanish Civil War slogan: “No Pasaran.” They shall not pass. From “No Pasaran” to “If you go any further, you’ll die” is a story not primarily of anti-Semitism but of unprecedented demographic transformation. Beyond the fashionable “anti-Zionism” of the Euro Left is a starker reality: The demographic energy not just in Lionel Bart’s East End but in almost every Western European country is “Asian.” Which is to say, Muslim. A recent government statistical survey reported that the United Kingdom’s Muslim population is increasing ten times faster than the general population. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and many other Continental cities from Scandinavia to the Côte d’Azur will reach majority Muslim status in the next few years. Brussels has a Socialist mayor, which isn’t that surprising, but he presides over a caucus a majority of whose members are Muslim, which might yet surprise those who think we’re dealing with some slow, gradual, way-off-in-the-future process here. But so goes Christendom at the dawn of the third millennium: the ruling party of the capital city of the European Union is mostly Muslim. There are generally two responses to this trend: The first is that it’s like a cast change in Cats or, perhaps more precisely, David Merrick’s all-black production of Hello, Dolly! Carol Channing and her pasty prancing waiters are replaced by Pearl Bailey and her ebony chorus, but otherwise the show is unchanged. Same set, same words, same arrangements: France will still be France, Germany Germany, Belgium Belgium. The second response is that the Islamicization of Europe entails certain consequences, and it might be worth exploring what these might be. There are already many points of cultural friction – from British banks’ abolition of children’s “piggy banks” to the enjoining of public doughnut consumption by Brussels police during Ramadan. And yet on one issue there is remarkable comity between the aging ethnic Europeans and their young surging Muslim populations: A famous poll a couple of years back found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace.
“A recent government statistical survey reported that the United Kingdom’s Muslim population is increasing ten times faster than the general population” Fifty-nine percent? What the hell’s wrong with the rest of you? Hey, relax: In Germany, it was 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. For purposes of comparison, in a recent poll of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – i.e., the “moderate” Arab world – 79 percent of respondents regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. As far as I know, in the last year or two, they haven’t re-tested that question in Europe, possibly in case Israel now scores as a higher threat level in the Netherlands than in Yemen. To be sure, there are occasional arcane points of dispute: one recalls, in the wake of the July 7 bombings, the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s somewhat tortured attempts to explain why blowing up buses in Tel Aviv is entirely legitimate whereas blowing up buses in Bloomsbury is not. Yet these are minimal bumps on a smooth glide path: The more Europe’s Muslim population grows, the more restive and disassimilated it becomes, the more enthusiastically the establishment embraces “anti-Zionism,” as if the sin-
ister Jewess is the last virgin left to toss in the volcano – which, given the 13-year old “chavs” and “slappers” face down in pools of their own vomit in most British shopping centers of a Friday afternoon, may indeed be the case. For today’s Jews, unlike on Cable Street in 1936, there are no Catholic dockworkers or Communist agitators to stand shoulder to shoulder. In post-Christian Europe, there aren’t a lot of the former (practicing Catholics or practicing dockers), and as for the intellectual Left, it’s more enthusiastic in its support of Hamas than many Gazans. To which there are many Israelis who would brusquely reply: So what? Pity the poor Jew who has ever relied on European “friends.” Yet there is a difference of scale between the well-established faculty-lounge disdain for “Israeli apartheid” and a mass psychosis so universal it’s part of the air you breathe. For a glimpse of the future, consider the (for the moment) bizarre circumstances of the recent Davis Cup First Round matches in Sweden. They had been scheduled long ago to be played in the Baltiska Hallen stadium in INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 49
Malmo. Who knew which team the Swedes would draw? Could have been Chile, could have been Serbia. Alas, it was Israel.
almo is Sweden’s most Muslim city, and citing security concerns, the local council ordered the three days of tennis to be played behind closed doors. Imagine being Amir Hadad and Andy Ram, the Israeli doubles players, or Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt, the Swedes. This was supposed to be their big day. But the vast stadium is empty, except for a few sports reporters and team officials. And just outside the perimeter up to 10,000 demonstrators are chanting, “Stop the match!” and maybe, a little deeper into the throng, they’re shouting, “We want to kill all Jews worldwide” (as demonstrators in Copenhagen, just across the water, declared just a few weeks earlier). Did Aspelin and Lindstedt wonder why they couldn’t have drawn some less controversial team, like Zimbabwe or Sudan? By all accounts, it was a fine match, thrilling and graceful, with good sportsmanship on both sides. Surely, such splendid tennis could have won over the mob, and newspapers would have reported that by the end of the match the Israeli players had the crowd with them all the way. But they shook ’em off at Helsingborg. Do you remember the “road map” summit held in Jordan just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq? It seemed a big deal at the time: The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the U.S. president, all the A-list dictators of the Arab League. Inside the swank resort, it was all very collegial, smiles and handshakes. Outside, flags fluttered – Jordan’s, America’s, Saudi Arabia’s, Egypt’s, Palestine’s. But not Israel’s. King Abdullah of Jordan had concluded it would be too provocative to advertise the Zionist Entity’s presence on Jordanian soil even at a summit supposedly boasting they were all on the same page. Malmo’s tennis match observed the same conventions: I’m sure the Swedish tennis wallahs were very gracious hosts behind the walls of the stockade, and the unmarked car to the airport was top of the line. How smoothly the furtive manoeuvres of the Middle East transfer to the wider world. When Western governments are as reluctant as King Abdullah to fly the Star of David, those among the citizenry who choose to do so have a hard time. In Britain in January, while “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators were permitted to dress up as hook-nosed Jews drinking the blood of Arab babies, the police ordered counterprotesters to put away their Israeli flags. In Alberta, in the heart of Calgary’s Jewish neighbourhood, the flag of Hizballah (supposedly a proscribed terrorist organization) was proudly waved by demonstrators, but one solitary Israeli flag was deemed a threat to the Queen’s peace and officers told the brave fellow holding it to put it away or be arrested for “inciting public disorder.” In Germany, a student in Duisburg put the Star of David in the window of an upstairs apartment on the day of a march by the Islamist group Milli Görüs, only to have the cops smash his door down and remove the flag. He’s now trying to get the police to pay for a new door. Ah, those Jews. It’s always about money, isn’t it? Peter, the student in Duisberg, says he likes to display the Israeli flag because anti-Semitism in Europe is worse than at any other time since the Second World War. Which is true. But, if you look at it from the authorities’ point of view, it’s not about Jew-hatred; it’s a simple numbers game. If a statistically insignificant Jewish population gets upset, big deal. If the far larger Muslim population – and, in some French cities, the youth population (i.e., the demographic that riots) is already pushing 50 percent – you have a serious public-order threat on your hands. We’re beyond the 50 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
anti-Semitic and into the ad hoc utilitarian: The King Abdullah approach will seem like the sensible way to avoid trouble. To modify the UN joke: Whom won’t we play? Israel, of course. Not in public. One Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, a group wearing “BOYCOTT ISRAEL” T-shirts entered a French branch of Carrefour, the world’s largest supermarket chain, and announced themselves. They then systematically advanced down every aisle examining every product, seizing all the items made in Israel and piling them into carts to take away and destroy. Judging from the video they made, the protesters were mostly Muslim immigrants and a few French leftists. But more relevant was the passivity of everyone else in the store, both staff and shoppers, all of whom stood idly by as private property was ransacked and smashed, and many of whom when invited to comment expressed support for the destruction. “South Africa started to shake once all countries started to boycott their products,” one elderly lady customer said. “So what you’re doing, I find it good.” Others may find Germany in the ‘30s the more instructive comparison. “It isn’t silent majorities that drive things, but vocal minorities,” the Canadian public intellectual George Jonas recently wrote. “Don’t count heads; count decibels. All entities – the United States, the Western world, the Arab street – have prevailing moods, and it’s prevailing moods that define aggregates at any given time.” Last December, in a well-planned attack on iconic Bombay landmarks symbolizing power and wealth, Pakistani terrorists nevertheless found time to divert one-fifth of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city’s poor in a nondescript building. If this was a territorial dispute over Kashmir, why kill the only rabbi in Bombay? Because Pakistani Islam has been in effect Arabized. Demographically, in Europe and elsewhere, Islam has the numbers. But ideologically, radical Islam has the decibels – in Turkey, in the Balkans, in Western Europe. And the prevailing mood in much of the world makes Israel an easy sacrifice. Long before Muslims are a statistical majority, there will be three permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, France, Russia – for whom the accommodation of Islam is a domestic political imperative. On the heels of his call for the incorporation of Sharia within British law, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave an interview to the Muslim News praising Islam for making “a very significant contribution to getting a debate about religion into public life.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. The urge to look on the bright side of its own remorseless cultural retreat will intensify: Once Europeans have accepted a not entirely voluntary biculturalism, they will see no reason why Israel should not do the same, and they will embrace a one-state, one-man, one-vote solution for the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. The Muslim world has spent decades peddling the notion that the reason a vast oil-rich region stretching thousands of miles is politically deformed and mired in grim psychoses is all because of a tiny strip of turf barely wider than my New Hampshire township. It will make an ever more convenient scapegoat for the problems of a far vaster territory from the mountains of Morne to the Urals. There was a fair bit of this in the days after 9/11. As Richard Ingrams wrote on the following weekend in the London Observer: “Who will dare to damn Israel?” Well, take a number and get in line. The dust had barely settled on the London Tube bombings before a reader named Derrick Green sent me a congratulatory e-mail: “I bet you Jewish suprem-
“It may be some consolation to an ever-lonelier Israel that, in one of history’s bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews” acists think it is Christmas come early, don’t you? Incredibly, you are now going to get your own way even more than you did before, and the British people are going to be dragged into more wars for Israel.” So it will go. British, European, and even American troops will withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bomb will go off in Madrid or Hamburg or Manchester, and there will be nothing left to blame except Israeli “disproportion.” For the remnants of European Jewry, the already discernible migration of French Jews to Quebec, Florida, and elsewhere will accelerate. There are about 150,000 Jews in London today – it’s the thirteenth biggest Jewish city in the world. But there are approximately one million Muslims. The highest number of Jews is found in the 50-54 age group; the highest number of Muslims are found in the fouryears-and-under category. By 2025, there will be Jews in Israel, and Jews in America, but not in many other places. Even as the legitimacy of a Jewish state is rejected, the Jewish diaspora – the Jewish presence in the wider world – will shrivel. And then, to modify Richard Ingrams, who will dare not to damn Israel? There’ll still be a Holocaust Memorial Day, mainly for the pleasures it affords to chastise the new Nazis. As Anthony Lipmann,
the Anglican son of an Auschwitz survivor, wrote in 2005: “When on 27 January I take my mother’s arm – tattoo number A-25466 – I will think not just of the crematoria and the cattle trucks but of Darfur, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Jenin, Fallujah.” Jenin? You can see why they’ll keep Holocaust Day on the calendar: In an age when politicians are indifferent or downright hostile to Israel’s “right to exist,” it’s useful to be able to say, “But some of my best photo-ops are Jewish.” The joke about Mandatory Palestine was that it was the twicepromised land. But isn’t that Europe, too? And perhaps Russia and maybe Canada, a little ways down the line? Two cultures jostling within the same piece of real estate. Not long ago, I found myself watching the video of another “pro-Palestinian” protest in central London with the Metropolitan Police retreating up St. James’s Street to Piccadilly in the face of a mob hurling traffic cones and jeering, “Run, run, you cowards!” and “Allahu akbar!” You would think the deluded multi-culti progressives would understand: In the end, this isn’t about Gaza, this isn’t about the Middle East; it’s about them. It may be some consolation to an ever-lonelier Israel that, in one of history’s bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews. n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 51
Factor Belief may be rational, but what to believe?
Agnostic SIMON GEMMILL concedes a design argument, but claims that doesn’t tell us which of humanity’s gods, if any, is the designer
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here are many reasons people believe in God. We shall examine some of them, and weigh them up. There is a vast majority of human beings who do believe there is a God, and who believe in multiple gods, a small minority are atheists. However, as stated in my previous article: people believing in something does not make it true; thus, even if you are on the side of the billions, it has nothing to do with whether or not you are right. We must weigh the arguments and ‘evidence’, and decide what to believe for ourselves. Emotions and Experience The emotional grounds for belief: there are positive and negative manifestations of emotion-based belief. The positive can include feeling that one has experienced the Divine. Some people believe they have seen God, felt his influence in their lives, etc. The basis of mysticism, unlike fundamentalist religion, is experiencing God for oneself, rather than learning screeds of doctrines. The Whirling Dervishes are one such group, as are the Sufis. In Christianity, there are those who profess to have experienced stigmata – manifesting the wounds of Christ – there are those who claim to speak in tongues, heal the sick, be healed, etc. The more negative emotional response, as you may have guessed, is fear. Some atheists reject religion purely based on this ground: that it’s all about fear. Personally, when I was a fundamental-
ist Christian, fear was the main motive for faith. I even used to try to convert friends, out of fear that they were going to go to Hell if I did not convert them. An early eye-opener, however, was that my friends were not scared. It was an epiphany, eventually, that some people were not scared of eternal hellfire, because they didn’t think they would ever experience it. Fear, however, is not just fear of going to Hell if one does not believe. Most – or all – of us are dreadfully afraid to die – the fear comes on many levels, including fear that there is an afterlife, in which we could end up in Heaven or Hell, or be reincarnated well or badly; and also fear that there is no afterlife. The pure fact that it is an unknown quantity motivates many to believe in God, so that at least, they can feel some comfort, when facing death, that there is a better place after this one. The flaw in all of this is that – apart from Hindus and Buddhists, who believe that animals are reincarnated, not just humans – it is generally assumed that only humans experience an afterlife, a judgment day, and more – not animals of plants. The assumption is that humans have souls, and get to live on after death, whether for good or for bad, whereas animals do not. For the positive emotions, if you have experienced God directly, good for you. If that belief makes you happy, and even makes you a better person, then there’s no harm sticking with it, whether you are right or wrong. On the other hand, if you are believing out of fear, my brother and I came to the same conclusion around the time we grew up and left home: the Bible
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says that God is love; it also says that perfect love casts out all fear. If you are believing out of fear, please, for your own sake, reevaluate your beliefs. You are allowed to pursue logic and reason. Believing out of fear implies duress and intimidation. Personally, if I were to believe in God, I’d have to believe that he would not scare me into believing. As I’ve been saying since 1996, if God gave us brains to think surely he wants us to use them; and surely it is an insult to him, to throw them back in his face, and say, “I’m too scared to use it, please take it back.” Perhaps this even relates to the parable of the talents, in which Jesus says the man who buried his money and did nothing with it was worst of all. Those who bury their talents, and suppress the gifts and/or intellect they’ve been given, are the most offensive to – the hypothetical at this stage – God. One last comment about emotions: hope is a reason many people believe in God. Hope that there’s an afterlife, hope that God is watching over us, hope that God has plans for us, and that, even if we are suffering, things will get better. This hope is not to be sniffed at: the world can be cold and bleak, and death, above all things, can be incredibly daunting. It is little wonder that we hope for better things. Faith and hope are not products of reason, nor can they be tested scientifically. However, it has been found that those who pray fare better than those who do not. This could mean one of two things: either a) God heeds their pleas and delivers, or b) that because they hope, they do better. Either way, one would struggle to see the harm, or the fault, in such behaviour. If you like to pray, by all means, continue to do so. Logic and Reason The logical basis comes from philosophy or science. This in itself is interesting, for as the Man from Mars (in Stranger in A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein) says, on Mars they use the same word for science, philosophy and religion. Many would disagree that the three disciplines are the same thing, however, they cross over at many points: they are all, on some level about the search for Truth, answers, meaning… to make sense of the world and the universe as a whole, to find out place in it, and to work out what we both a) are capable of, and b) should do. Now, one can use philosophical reasoning and logic to explain why they hold the beliefs they do, or they can turn to science, and tie their beliefs to what science has revealed to us. The logical basis for belief can be said to be above the emotional and cultural reasons: while multiculturalism may confine us to repeating the customs of our forefathers, logic gets us above that, and lets us choose, after weighing the evidence and the options, what we will do, and what we will think. It is superior to the emotional because, while on one hand it may be true that unbelievers go to Hell, and on the other hand perhaps we really have experienced the Divine through some experience, where we felt God was with us, or we believe we have seen or heard something supernatural, opinions ultimately require grounds, just like a detective who accuses a criminal. A belief is close to an opinion, or view, and as such, we feel the need to base our belief upon something. Philosophy Philosophy has a long history of arguments for and against belief in God. The argument from design is the most reliable today, and also closely ties in to science. An argument based on design may run thus: Premise one: All things have a designer. 54 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Premise two: I have a clock a car, and a television set (that’s all I own, honest). They are all made up of carefully assembled parts, and could not have assembled themselves and worked by pure chance. The plants and animals also have a precise, atomic structure, and are at least as technically clever as my home appliances. Conclusion: Therefore, living things were designed by a conscious person. This is not a fact, it is a valid argument. As my Philosophy 101 lecturer Ken Persyk said, about a thousand times in the first week of the course: “A valid argument is one in which you cannot have both premises true, and the conclusion false.” The argument above is valid, not necessarily sound. To be sound, both premises have to be true. (One could argue that not all things have a designer, for example.) Science Science, while it has come up with the big bang, has not managed to explain why the big bang even happened. The above argument could be used, in a similar way, and claim that the fine-tuning of the universe – shown in precise laws of physics that came into being and have existed ever since shortly after the big bang – is evidence of a very clever Creator, much smarter and more able than one of our engineers or scientists on Earth. Interestingly, Christians like Wishart, while claiming that the universe is fine-tuned for life, also claim that there is no other life in the universe. I’d rather side with Carl Sagan, who said that if there are no other planets out there with life on, it seems like an awful waste of space. John Gribbin (in Stardust) says that, since the elements you need for life are released whenever a star supernovas, rather than us being lucky we have one planet with life on in our solar system, we should consider it unlucky there are not more; since the possibility for life was there. Ian Wishart claims that scientists referring to a multiverse to explain our existence is the equivalent of crediting our origins to God. I agree. We don’t know that there are multiple universes. We also do not know that there is a God. While scientists may fight to defend their multiverse theory, and theologians struggle to prove that God exists – both are merely hypotheses, mere guessing; the truth is simple: that we do not – and cannot possibly – know what the truth is. Flaws in Intelligent Design Theory Science’s relationship with religion has been turbulent, including the Church telling scientists what the truth is and what they are allowed to do for centuries. It could be argued – without much rebuttal – that the reason Europe endured the Dark Ages, the crusades, the witch burnings, and the rest; while the Eastern world were fine-diddly-ine compared to our ancestors (studying science, philosophy, medicine, etc, and, as we were later to do, when we got this information from the Arabs, studying Greek philosophy); was because of the Church. Pushing Creationism on schools in the USA is not about science, but about the Church trying to get science back in line, like a miscreant canine. And yes, by the way, invoking God to explain the big bang is a classic case of the God of the Gaps theology: find a hole, find a question science cannot answer, and postulate God as the answer. It’s all well and good, until science finds the answer. The we find out that sunflowers point towards the sun for a reason, that things evolved by chance, and that millions of species did not survive, because they were poorly designed. Bringing up God as an explanation for the big bang is a fine
idea, as long as – just as Wishart says people should not claim that multiverses are real even when science cannot possibly test their existence – we do not call our belief in God the First Cause that caused the big bang a scientific belief. Surely, Dawkins and others are offering a hypothesis when they proffer the multiverse; similarly, Wishart is hypothetically stating that a Divine being could have created the big bang. Before that, there was nothing. A scientific theory is usually tenable, such as the big bang been confirmed by the discovery of the microwave
background radiation, at the exact temperature that scientists predicted it would be, that confirmed that the big bang had indeed happened, around fifteen billion years ago. In science, a prediction is called a hypothesis, until it is tested. God is a hypothesis, not a theory. Surely, you can infer that God exists because the universe exists, if you work backwards and say that the universe must have been created. However, you could interpret this to be the God of the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, a Hindu god, a Maori god, a Greek god, a INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 55
Roman god, etc. For argument’s sake, it could be a god none of us have heard of us. For argument’s sake, this god has not revealed him/her/itself to us at all; and religion is really, after all, made up by self-seeking individuals. And our Creator – just as we may be able to create life, and indeed, another universe one day – may have been something like a human in a previously existing universe (like the Simpsons episode in which Lisa creates life in a petri dish – unintentionally – and the small creatures think she is God; well, she is, to them). The reason that people object to this assertion is weak. They claim that God is the First Cause. The hardcore atheists say that the big bang was First Cause. On the other hand, no one knows why the big bang happened, just that it happened. We could be humble, like Xenophanes, and admit that none of us knows the truth, and concede that all is merely guessing; and that even if we were to utter something utterly correct, we would not know it. If God designed our universe, he also made it so that we could not ever see the universe, as it’s too far away and we cannot breathe in outer space; he made it so we could not breathe under water, even though most of the planet is covered in water. He must have also, as Monty Python sang, created all things dull and ugly. Every snake that poisons, every crocodile that eats a person. All the cruelty that goes on in the animal kingdom, before you even get to Man, the most savage beast upon this planet; must be the artwork of God. If we give him credit for helping us work things out in our lives (when things are going well), we must also blame him for letting all those people suffer; if he’s helping us, he obviously can and does, therefore, he is wilfully neglecting the millions who are starving and being tortured, wrongfully imprisoned, sold as slaves, etc. So, invoking God is not as pretty a picture as Wishart thinks it is. By Their Fruits You Will Know Them Having said all that: if believing makes you happy, and makes you a good person, then by all means, go on doing it. I do not believe in transcendental meditation. Yet a friend told me recently that they were teaching it at a handful of high schools in the USA, and it has turned the students – who’d been violent and delinquent before – around. Perhaps then we are asking the wrong question. We should not be asking: is it true? We should be asking: does it work? If it does, by all means, follow it. Perhaps the tenability of a religion is more important than its veracity. Perhaps testing the fruits (as Jesus himself recommended) would be a better use of our time, when considering whether one’s religious views are valid: does it make you good? Certainly Christianity – in spite of the crusades, witch burnings, science persecution and Dark Ages of the past – bares much good fruit in this present day, in terms of social welfare, human aid, and so on. Then again, so do other religions. So does Humanism, when it is practised, rather than just professed – but once again – that’s true of all religions: practise what you preach, otherwise your words are, as St Paul said, no more than a resounding gong. The Continuities Between Science, Philosophy and Religion The Man from Mars, Michael Valentine Smith, in Stranger in A Strange Land (by Robert Heinlein), says that on Mars, they have the same word for science, philosophy and religion; and that he could not understand why we drew a distinction between the three. Perhaps Heinlein had a point: they are all a search for truth, for 56 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
meaning, for answers, for ethics, and so on. Perhaps if we compartmentalised them, rather than pitting them against each other (as the Creationists do in the USA, pushing science out of the classroom in favour of a religious creation story; and as atheists do, using the big bang and evolutionary theory to try and prove that God does not exist), we could just compartmentalise them a bit: science for truth, knowledge, understanding, medicine, space travel, technological advances, etc; religion for meaning, purpose, values and ethics; and philosophy, as a medium of sorts, to allow us to discuss the uncertainties of life – such as ethics within religion and science, or across cultures. Perhaps we do not need to choose between science and God. Or at least, we should keep our theories about God separate from science, which we must have made an empirical practice for a reason. Debates about God come more into the realm of philosophy – it’s more about valid arguments than objective, irrefutable truth. Conclusion Ian Wishart could be right. There really could be a Designer. The universe is certainly so fine-tuned for life that invoking a Designer is a rational thing to do. However, if this Designer exists, it does nothing to support the assertions of the Christian religion. There are thousands of religions around the world; all similar is some ways, all different in significant ways. With all these claims to know who the Designer is, either some of them are true, just one is true, or none of them are true. Then there’s also the possibility that there is no Designer. No afterlife, no soul. Plants and animals die. It may be sad, but life feeds on life, and we have to make way for the next generation to inhabit the world. Surely, if there is an afterlife, the universe is so big that God, if he exists, could create a Heaven (and/or Hell) big enough, and nice (or nasty) enough for everyone to enjoy (or hate) in the next life. But this begs the question – who says that after you’re dead, you’re still alive? If you stop to think about it, it actually sounds rather nuts (it’s a contradiction, for a start). When your dog dies, or you pick a carrot from the garden, you accept that it’s dead. Perhaps we should get on with living, and accept that dying’s something we’re going to have to do. As long-standing punk rock band Bad Religion sing: Life begins when you accept your fate. Denying that there are aliens is like claiming there is an afterlife; all brawn and no brains. Science requires that we look for proof, rather than commit to our hypotheses. Praising God for all the wonders in the universe also requires that we blame him for all that’s wrong with our world. Some people would rather do neither. On one hand Intelligent Design is a plausible idea; on the other hand, it demands that we answer who created God. And for that matter, why the aforesaid Designer is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As Wishart states: Intelligent Design is as reliable a scientific theory as that of the multiverse – all conjecture; they are both unfalsifiable claims; therefore scientifically invalid: They get us no closer to the answer to Carl Sagan’s question: why is there something, rather than nothing? Why are we here? A multiverse you say? Why was that there in the first place? Why did the big bang happen? If God made it, why did God exist? Reality as we know it could have started with one thing, such as either the big bang or God; or it may have – even if we don’t like thinking it – existed forever. Xenophanes was right: we know nothing. All is merely guessing.
Counterpoints G IAN WISHART reviews the central arguments of Simon Gemmill
emmill accepts that a deity might exist and indeed might be the most rational explanation for the existence of life and the universe. However, he argues there’s no guarantee it is the Christian God or any other deity known to humankind. It could be one of those, or it could be entirely different. He’s right, there’s no guarantee, just as there’s no guarantee that Buddhists are not correct when they claim the universe is an illusion. However, not many Buddhists are willing to put that central tenet of belief to the test by leaping in front of a bus in the hope that the impending collision will be only “imaginary”. We put people in prison, and in some countries execute them, not on a standard of absolute proof, but beyond reasonable doubt. That’s the point where reasonable people accept that there is no rational reason not to accept the weight of the evidence in front of them. Gemmill is a rational man, so he accepts that a God probably does exist on the basis of design in the universe: if it looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck and if it waddles like a duck, the rational stance is to assume that, indeed, it’s a duck. But how do we get from “A” Designer-in-Chief to “the” God of Abraham and Moses?
Like everything else approached rationally, on the weight of evidence. It is too easy to wave one’s arms at the world’s divergent religions generally, and proclaim that it’s too hard to pick a winner. Is it really that hard? In The Divinity Code I explored this area, which is known as “comparative religion”. What I found was that the Judeo-Christian belief of one Creator God, existing in timelessness prior to creating the world, is in fact the oldest religious belief known to history. The ideas of multiple gods (polytheism) came later, probably as a direct result of each different tribe that worshipped the one original God with a unique name in their language, being forced to live alongside and work with other tribes who’d given that God a different name. For the sake of keeping the peace, it’s easy to see how one God seen from a hundred different perspectives could eventually become a pantheon of a hundred gods. So as the archaeological record clearly shows, the oldest known belief matched the Genesis story but pre-dated it by more than a thousand years. This should come as a relief to Gemmill, because it means we can wave aside all those religions with beliefs in multiple gods, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 57
unless there is a very good reason to keep them in the mix. They were a path on the evolution of religion, not its source belief. Arguably that’s Hinduism out for the count, but just to avoid doubt it fails for another good reason. Both Hinduism and Buddhism are anchored in a belief that the universe is eternal. We now know, not just through the Big Bang but also the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that the universe had a beginning, and it is progressing to entropy (eventual breakdown to inactivity) as the laws of physics suggest it will. It had a beginning, it will have an end. Again, the science remains consistent with the biblical picture, but the science does not support Hinduism or Buddhism.
n a rational basis, then, best evidence leads us toward religions that believe in one Creator God – monotheistic faiths. There are very few of those. Although many primitive religions began with belief in one Creator (the Maori deity Io would be an example), they have added on numerous deities and spirits over the centuries and millennia. There are only three major faiths that still adhere to the purity of one Creator, in accordance with the most ancient recorded beliefs. Those three are, of course, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. That alone is not the final determining factor, however. There is also the matter of historical record. The Christian scriptures are the best-attested ancient historical records we have for any religion. The first documents and fragments of documents date from closer to the events they record than the writings of any other religion. Hindu writings, for example were allegedly first written down 5,000 years ago, but the earliest copies we have in existence date from hundreds of years after the birth of Christ, some 3,500 years after the events they purport to record. Does that mean we can’t trust the Hindu scriptures? Not automatically, but it means they are more likely to have grown in the telling. Take this extract from the Bhavashya purana- Prathisarga parva: “Know that I am the Son of God. I am born in the womb of a virgin. Easa Maseeha is my well known name.” Easa Maseeha/ Jesus Messiah, geddit? Clearly, whoever was responsible for the earliest copies of sacred Hindu writings we can lay our hands on had the infrastructure of other religions to borrow from, and did so. Christianity’s claims are anchored in actual historical events. We know Christ was crucified because the Romans write about it. We know Christ was worshipped “as if to a God” because the Romans write about it. We know an event took place big enough to convince the disciples to come out of hiding and proclaim Christ as the risen God, even to the point of their own deaths and those of their wives and children. Gemmill may or may not be aware, but even the world’s leading agnostic and atheistic New Testament scholars – people like Gerd Ludemann – have conceded they don’t have a rational explanation for what transformed the disciples. You see, it’s one thing to die for something you believe in, but if the disciples were killed for proclaiming the resurrection if in fact they knew that to be a lie, that’s a whole new ballgame. It is accepted by about 99.8% of the more than 12,000 specialist NT scholars that whatever happened on Easter morning, it was powerful enough to leave the disciples in absolutely no doubt that Christ had risen, and to willingly die proclaiming that. Now Gemmill mentions the issue of fear as a motivating religious factor. “Fear” is a subjective emotion that has no bearing on objective truth. If the objective truth is that God exists and humans 58 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
are going to hell in a handcart unless they accept the offer of a hand-up, then it remains true regardless of whether people are fearful or not. However, let’s feel the fear and argue it anyway. It depends, I guess on a number of factors. One, perhaps the biggest as I’ve just outlined, is truth. If in fact the end destination for humanity is spiritual train-wreck, then is Christ’s warning to believe and be saved really so bad? Is it any different from those who tried to warn the express train at Tangiwai in 1953 that the bridge was washed out? The end destination was indeed something to be feared. Is it wrong to warn people of the consequences of their choices, simply because you might scare them? If that’s the case, then all those road safety and smoking ads are out the window. The fear debate also hinges on whether people properly understand the doctrine of Hell. Gemmill’s writing suggests a classical, “God punishes” line of thought. CS Lewis takes a more sophisticated approach, suggesting that Hell is really the utter absence of God, a place peopled by those who of their own choice didn’t want God in their lives. If true, the problem this poses for people like Gemmill is that you have no idea who your compatriots on Planet Hell will be. Some might be honourable atheists who, apart from utterly rejecting God, have led what we humans might call good lives. Others will be mass-murdering scum, torturers, rapists and worse, whose only common denominator might be that they too rejected God. Is this fair, one might ask? Well, it might not be fair in a subjective sense, but it may be the logical consequence of the disappearance of God from your equation. If God withdraws completely and leaves non-believers to fend for themselves, at their request, is that his fault or ours? In modern society, we try and bend over backwards to impose “informed consent” on choices that may impact on us personally. Doctors warn us of things that “might” happen, adventure tourism operators make us sign our rights away if we contract to undertake something risky. We choose not to be fearful of the outcome, because we want the activity more than we fear the risk. And so it is with faith. You are not compelled to believe through ‘fear’, you are merely warned that a consequence of rejecting God is ending up in a society, either now or the hereafter or both, where God is utterly AWOL. If that’s the kind of world you want,
then you have the right to make that choice. Some people, who perhaps haven’t considered the issue deeply, may appreciate the “warning” and reflect on what kind of society and afterlife they’d prefer to see. But why fear Christianity, as opposed to making another faith your fear of choice? Well, unlike other religions, Christianity at its centre has a character who claimed to be God, and as proof of that rose from the dead in front of hundreds of witnesses. No other religion on the planet has that. The historical evidence allowing us to test this particular religion is first rate, in comparison to the evidence for the other religions. So on a rational basis, the quality of the evidence lends authenticity to the Christian claims. Then there are the perplexing words of Jesus, “Before Abraham was, I am.” How on earth does that make sense grammatically, let alone chronologically? It’s not until you go back to Moses and the Burning Bush, where God called himself “I AM”, that you can start to join the dots. Only a deity existing outside a timebound
universe, in a place where time does not exist, could get away with simply calling himself “I AM”. It suddenly makes perfect sense. Which brings us back to the Big Bang. Cosmologists are now confident the laws of Time were created after the Bang, and apply only within the universe. By definition, anything that created the universe must exist outside it as I explained last month. And here, in 2,000 year old Jewish writings, is a reference to deity that matches the logical implications of what we know of the Big Bang, yet was written long before science discovered the principle that allows timelessness. That’s why the “who created God?” line of reasoning is faulty. Things that have a beginning by definition are governed by linear time. Eternal things are not governed by time, and don’t have beginnings. They just AM. This is just a once over lightly. For anyone seeking the nittygritty of the argument laid out here and further detail on comparing religions and who borrowed what from whom, see The Divinity Code by Ian Wishart, from all good bookstores or online at ianwishart.com. n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 59
Cybercrime: The New Frontiers Hackers Target Voting Systems It’s heralded as the way of the future, but a new CIA study finds most electronic voting isn’t secure. We’re vulnerable, it seems, to those who would rig elections as well as those who want your money, report GREG GORDON and ALEX RODRIGUEZ
ASHINGTON – The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries’ use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines’ vulnerability to tampering. Appearing last month before a U.S. Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, Fla., a CIA cybersecurity expert suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his 60 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
allies fixed a 2004 election recount, an assertion that could further roil U.S. relations with the Latin leader. In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. His remarks have received no news media attention until now. Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that Congress created in 2002 to modernize U.S. voting, that com-
puterized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results. “You heard the old adage ‘follow the money,’ “ Stigall said, according to a transcript of his hourlong presentation that we’ve obtained. “I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that’s an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to ... make bad things happen.” Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren’t connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn’t always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines. While Stigall said he wasn’t speaking for the CIA and wouldn’t address U.S. voting systems, his presentation appeared to undercut calls by some U.S. politicians to shift to Internet balloting, at least for military personnel and other American citizens living overseas. Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure. The commission has been criticized for giving states more than $1 billion to buy electronic equipment without first setting performance standards. Numerous computer-security experts have concluded that U.S. systems can be hacked, and allegations of tampering in Ohio, Florida and other swing states have triggered a campaign to require all voting machines to produce paper audit trails. The CIA got interested in electronic systems a few years ago, Stigall said, after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems. He said he couldn’t elaborate “in an open, unclassified forum,” but that any concerns would be relayed to U.S. election officials. Stigall, who’s studied electronic systems in about three dozen countries, said that most countries’ machines produced paper receipts that voters then dropped into boxes. However, even that doesn’t prevent corruption, he said. Turning to Venezuela, he said that Chavez controlled all of the country’s voting equipment before he won a 2004 nationwide recall vote that had threatened to end his rule. When Chavez won, Venezuelan mathematicians challenged results that showed him to be consistently strong in parts of the country where he had weak support. The mathematicians found “a very subtle algorithm” that appeared to adjust the vote in Chavez’s favor, Stigall said.
Calls for a recount left Chavez facing a dilemma, because the voting machines produced paper ballots, Stigall said. “How do you defeat the paper ballots the machines spit out?” Stigall asked. “Those numbers must agree, must they not, with the electronic voting-machine count? ... In this case, he simply took a gamble.” Stigall said that Chavez agreed to allow 100 of 19,000 voting machines to be audited. “It is my understanding that the computer software program that generated the random number list of voting machines that were being randomly audited, that program was provided by Chavez,” Stigall said. “That’s my understanding. It generated a list of computers that could be audited, and they audited those computers. “You know. No pattern of fraud there.” A Venezuelan Embassy representative in Washington declined immediate comment. The disclosure of Stigall’s remarks comes amid recent hostile rhetoric between President Barack Obama and Chavez. On Sunday, Chavez was quoted as reacting hotly to Obama’s assertion that he’s been “exporting terrorism,” referring to the new U.S. president as a “poor ignorant person.” Questions about Venezuela’s voting equipment caused a stir in the United States long before Obama became president, because Smartmatic, a voting machine company that partnered with a firm hired by Chavez’s government, owned U.S.-based Sequoia Voting Systems until 2007. Sequoia machines were in use in 16 states and the District of Columbia at the time. Reacting to complaints that the arrangement was a national security concern, the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States launched an investigation. Smartmatic then announced in November 2007 that it had sold Sequoia to a group of investors led by Sequoia’s U.S.-based management team, thus ending the inquiry. In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Stigall said, hackers took resurrecting the dead to “a new art form” by adding the names of people who had died in the 18th century to computerized voter-registration lists. Macedonia was accused of “voter genocide” because the names of so many Albanians living in the country were eradicated from the computerized lists, Stigall said. He said that elections also could be manipulated when votes were cast, when ballots were moved or transmitted to central collection points, when official results were tabulated, and when the totals were posted on the Internet. In Ukraine, Stigall said, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko lost a 2004 presidential election runoff because supporters of Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych “introduced an unauthorized computer into the Ukraine election committee national headquarters. They snuck it in. “The implication is that these people were ... making subtle adjustments to the vote. In other words, intercepting the votes before it goes to the official computer for tabulation.” Taped cell phone calls of the ensuing cover-up led to nationwide protests and a second runoff, which Yushchenko won. Election Assistance Commission officials didn’t trumpet Stigall’s appearance Feb. 27, and he began by saying that he didn’t wish to be identified. However, the election agency had posted his name and biography on its Web site before his appearance. Electronic voting systems have been controversial in advanced countries, too. Germany’s constitutional court banned computerized machines this month on the grounds that they don’t allow voters to check their choices. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 61
Stigall said that some countries had taken novel steps that improved security. For example, he said, Internet systems that encrypt vote results so they’re unrecognizable during transmission “greatly complicates malicious corruption.” Switzerland, he noted, has had success in securing Internet voting by mailing every registered citizen scratch cards that contain unique identification numbers for signing on to the Internet. Then a voter must answer personal security questions, such as naming his or her mother’s birthplace. Stigall commended Russia for transmitting vote totals over classified communication lines and inviting hackers to test its electronic
voting system for vulnerabilities. He said that Russia now hoped to enable its citizens to vote via cell phones by next year. “As Russia moves to a one-party state,” he said, “they’re trying to make their elections available ... so everyone can vote for the one party. That’s the irony.” After reviewing Stigall’s remarks, Susannah Goodman, the director of election reform for the citizens’ lobby Common Cause, said they showed that “we can no longer ignore the fact that all of these risks are present right here at home ... and must secure our election system by requiring every voter to have his or her vote recorded on a paper ballot.”
Russia’s hackers pose growing global threat By Alex Rodriguez / Chicago Tribune OSCOW – Not long ago, the simple, anonymous thrill of exposing chinks in American software was enough of a payoff for a Russian hacker. Today it’s cash. And almost all the targets are in the United States and Europe, where Russia’s notorious hackers pilfer online bank accounts, swipe Social Security numbers, steal credit card data and peek at e-mail log-ins and passwords as part of what some estimate to be a $100 billion-a-year global cyber-crime business. And when it’s not money that drives Russian hackers, it’s politics – with the aim of accessing or disabling the computers, Web sites and security systems of governments opposed to Russian interests. That may have been the motive behind a recent attack on Pentagon computers. A new generation of Russian hacker is behind America’s latest criminal scourge. Young, intelligent and wealthy enough to zip down Moscow’s boulevards in shiny BMWs, they make their money in cyber-cubbyholes that police have found impossible to ferret out. From behind the partition of anonymous online hacking forums, they boast about why they use their programming savvy to spam and steal, mostly from the West. “Why should I take a regular job after graduating and exert myself to earn just $2,000 a month, rather than grab this chance to make money?” says a Russian hacker on a cybercrime forum that specializes in credit card fraud. “It makes sense to get as much as you can, as quickly as possible, rather than wasting time working for someone else.” Cybercrime, by some estimates, has outpaced the amount of illicit cash raked in by global drug trafficking. Hackers from Russia and China are among the chief culprits, and the threat they pose now extends far beyond spam, identity theft and bank heists. Besides the recent attack on computers at the U.S. Defense Department, which may have originated in Russia, according to military leaders in Washington, Russian hackers also are believed to be behind highly coordinated attacks that brought down government Web sites in Estonia in 2007 and in U.S.-allied Georgia when war broke out between Russian and Georgian forces in August. They’re even suspected of hacking into the computer systems of Barack Obama and John McCain during the presidential campaign; technical experts hired by Obama’s campaign suspected the attacks may have come from Russia or China, according to Newsweek. So far there has been no evidence of a link between the Russian government and any of the attacks on American, Georgian and Estonian Web sites and computers. Russian authorities denied any involvement in the Georgian and Estonian attacks, and they recently said that speculation about a Russian link to the attack on U.S. Defense Department computers was “groundless” and “irresponsible.” Nevertheless, the need to ramp up security of American cyberspace is being discussed with greater urgency in Washington. Earlier this month, a commission on cyber-security delivered
A senior State Department official told the commission that the department had lost thousands of gigabytes of data due to computer attacks, and among the Homeland Security divisions reporting computer break-ins was the Transportation Security Administration, which provides airport security. Hacking attacks compromising intellectual property have cost U.S. companies billions of dollars, the report stated. “The damage from cyber attack is real,” the report continued. “Ineffective cybersecurity, and attacks on our informational infrastructure in an increasingly competitive international environment, undercut U.S. strength and put the nation at risk.” After the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russian hackers were primarily motivated by mischief. They crafted viruses and worms simply for the delight of revealing weaknesses in security systems and software. “Back then, it was simple hooliganism,” said Vladimir Dubrovin, a hacker in the late 1990s and now a Russian computer security expert. Today, however, most hackers in Russia are in it strictly for the money. Cyber-crime gangs approach computer programming graduates from Moscow’s technical universities with offers of making sums of $5,000 to $7,000 a month, a far cry from Russia’s average monthly salary of $640, says Nikita Kislitsyn, editor of Hacker, a glossy Russian magazine with how-to information for budding hackers. Yevgeny Kaspersky, chief executive of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s leading computer security firms, says Russian hacking flourishes as “a cyber-criminal ecosystem” of spammers, identity thieves and “botnets,” vast networks of infected computers controlled remotely and used to spread spam, denial-of-service attacks or other malicious programs. A denial-of-service attack floods a Web site with inquiries, forcing its shutdown. To ply online bank accounts, Russian hackers rely on viruses that record keystrokes as customers type log-ins and passwords. Russian-made viruses are believed to be behind several major online heists, including the theft of $1 million from Nordea Bank in Sweden in 2007 and $6 million from banks in the United States and Europe that same year. The huge amount of money cyber-crime generates has created a vast underworld market that so far has proved to be virtually impregnable by Russian police. Viruses and other types of so-called “malware” are bought and sold for as much as $15,000, Kislitsyn says. Rogue Internet service providers charge cyber-criminals $1,000 a month for police-proof server access. Botnets relied on for cyber-crime can also be used to lash out at political enemies, computer security experts say. Most analysts agree that criminal botnets were used by Russian hackers to shut down Estonian government and banking Web sites after the tiny Baltic republic angered Russians by moving a Soviet war memorial from downtown Tallinn in 2007. In countries such as Russia and China, where criminal botnets are highly developed, such a resource could evolve into a potent cyber-warfare weapon, experts say.
a report to Congress calling for the creation of a new White House office that would gird the United States against computer attacks from hackers and foreign governments. According to the commission, “unknown foreign entities” in 2007 hacked computers at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce, as well as NASA. Hackers broke into Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ unclassified e-mail and probe Defense Department computers “hundreds of thousands of times each day,” said the commission, a panel of leading government and computer industry experts.
“The Internet can now be used to attack small countries,” Kaspersky said. “There are Russian and Chinese hackers that have the power to do that.” Russian police departments have cyber-crime divisions, but arrests of major cyber-criminals are rare. “It comes down to a question of volume,” said Steve Santorelli, investigations director at Team Cymru, a Burr Ridge, Ill.-based Internet security research firm. “In Russia, there simply aren’t the resources.” n
62 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
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www.danskemobler.co.nz INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 63
think life | money
Putting your home on the line Peter Hensley has two words for people thinking of using their home as collateral
“Are you ready yet” asked Moira. Jim was trying to get himself organised, however Tiger was playing his third round and was right up near the top of the leader-board, consequently he had one eye on the television and the other on the shoe cleaning rag in his hand. “Won’t be long now” Jim responded. “Tiger only has two holes to go and then I am with you all the way”. Jim thought quietly that early Sunday morning was a stupid time to arrange to visit someone for morning tea, especially when Tiger was playing. It would be all right if they had 64 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Sky, but he knew that their budget did not stretch that far. Jim finished buffing his shoes while Tiger was in between shots. He consoled himself that he would be up early tomorrow morning to catch the whole of the final round. Jim considered it to be a privilege to be alive at the same time as Tiger Woods. He marveled at the man’s talent both on and off the golf course. A true professional sportsman with superior ability does not come around too often and to be able to watch him topple longstanding records was indeed a treat. Moira tolerated Jim watch-
ing golf but she did not share his passion for the sport. Morning tea today was to be at their good friends Janet and Michael’s place. They were undertaking their allocated task as babysitters for their first grandchild. Their daughter and son in law were scheduled to take part in a fun run / cycle to promote their local surf club. Janet wanted some moral support from Moira and to show off their first granddaughter. Michael did not object to them coming over as he was always keen to sample some of Moira’s legendary home baking. Because of a rain delay in the golf, they arrived a little late. Janet was putting the baby down just as they arrived when she discovered the cat asleep in the pram in the spare room. Moira was quick to offer to change the sheets so that the baby could settle. She also suggested that Janet put a piece of tinfoil in the pram when it was not in use as she had read somewhere that cats hate the feel of it and will quickly retreat when they encounter it. What a wonderful idea thought Janet and she was instantly pleased that she had invited their friends over. With the new baby sleeping in the pram, Michael was doing his best to get under Janet’s feet in the kitchen by offering to help with the preparations for morning tea. The cold south easterly wind put paid to the idea of enjoying the autumn sunshine on the back deck, so he had put a clean table cloth on their dining room table. Janet quickly put him in his place and told him to sit at the table and to stop being a nuisance. Being a good husband he did as he was told. Jim always looked forward to visiting with friends as he also had a chance to enjoy Moira’s legendary baking. In keeping with his weight management program he was not allowed to sample her cakes and pastries unless they had company. This policy allowed her to support people in need by delivering either whole meals or just some cup cakes as required whilst at the same time attempting to control Jim’s ever expanding waistline. It did not take long for Michael to raise the topic of money or rather their lack of it. Jim and Moira knew that they relied on New Zealand super, but did not know just how big this reliance was. It turns out that Michael and Janet could never learn to say no to their children. The kids always seemed to lurch from one crisis to another and every time they required financial assistance they turned to mum
and dad. By not being willing to turn off the tap they gave the outward impression that they were eroding the nest egg they had put aside for their retirement. Michael and Janet had used the ruse of showing off their first granddaughter to get Jim and Moira around so they could ask for some financial advice. They went on to explain that they had worked harder than most as they were aware that the average kiwi couple go into retirement with a debt free home and approximately $50,000 in the bank. They effectively had over seven times this amount and that was after helping the kids out from their various predicaments along the way. The latest request came from their youngest child Paul who wanted his mum and dad to sign as guarantor for a new business franchise. Moira was not surprised that they had such a tidy nest egg as it was a testament to their frugality, however Jim couldn’t understand that if they had that much put away, why didn’t they subscribe to Sky sport. That was one of life’s little luxuries that he thought everyone should enjoy. Moira was much more practical and understood that they were financially secure because they did not spend their money unnecessarily. But the idea of signing the title of
their home to back a business venture was something else. Once Jim had reconciled himself to the fact that not everyone aspired to watching sport as much as he did, he said that their dilemma could be solved in two words, Blue Chip. As he was on to his third cup cake he gave others an opportunity to speak as he had his mouth full at the same time he shared his words of wisdom. At first Janet did not connect the concept of helping their son out with people losing money by investing in Blue Chip. Moira knew instantly what Jim was talking about and gave Michael and Janet a opportunity to catch up with Jim’s short statement. The look on their faces suggested that they still could not make the connection. Moira took it slowly. Eager investors had signed up to Blue Chip by effectively raising a mortgage on their home and using the money to buy a yet to be built apartment with the expectation of selling the apartment for a profit. This profit was supposed to repay the mortgage plus all outstanding payments and penalties. The apartment building never materialized, and therefore nor did the profit, however the mortgage was real and the banks were now calling in the collateral used for the mortgage, i.e. the family home.
Janet got there before Michael and sat in stunned silence. They had never minded helping their kids out before because they always used the rationale that it was better to see them enjoy the assistance rather than leaving it until they were dead. However this was a different kettle of fish. The size of the guarantee meant that the family home was being used as collateral. This would mean that not only were mum and dad signing up in support of their youngest son, but his four siblings were effectively doing the same. Jim verbalized what they were all thinking. He said that they should think long and hard prior to agreeing to the deal and that it was something that he and Moira would never do. Even though they loved their kids dearly, this was putting the family home on the line and if the Blue Chip investors had been fully advised, they very likely would not have signed the papers either. Michael beat Jim to the last cup cake and Jim consoled himself by looking forward to the next morning when he would see his golfing hero tee it up in what would likely be another notch in the winners belt. A copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge. © Peter J Hensley May 2009
THE DIVINITY CODE
“…the most politically incorrect book” in New Zealand. He is absolutely right…Prepare to be surprised and shocked. Wishart may ruﬀle a few feathers but his arguments are fair as his evidence proves. If you are looking for a stimulating mental challenge, or a cause to fight for, Eve’s Bite will definitely satisfy. – Wairarapa Times-Age
Wishart takes up the gauntlet laid down by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and in fact, uses Dawkins own logic and methodology to launch a counter-attack against unbelief. Challenging…thought provoking…compelling – keepingstock.blogspot.com
Discover the truth for yourself. Get these two books today from Whitcoulls, Borders, PaperPlus, Dymocks, Take Note, and all good independent booksellers, or online at
I’m having a cracking good read of another cracking good read – The Divinity Code by Ian Wishart, his follow-up book to Eve’s Bite which was also a cracking good read – comment on “Being Frank”
www.evesbite.com INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 65
think life | EDUCATION
Nothing changes Not forward thinking, but flawed thinking, writes Amy Brooke
How do worried parents find a path through the vexed question of what really is the state of education in governmentrun schools in our country? Conflicting reports clash head-on in their assessments. Dr Len Restall, for example, was recently unequivocal in his praise – “one of the best systems in the Western world.” Contrast this hyperbole with the damning assessments of numerous well-informed commentators, illustrating the shocking intellectual poverty widespread among school leavers. The latter stands as a sober reality check on the undermining of education systems in the West – a stark contrast to the utopianism and hype of the educational establishment in this country – along with the actual collapse of genuine educational standards in most state schools. And again the wheel is rediscovered with the University of Canterbury’s April Administration Newsletter recording that “too many students who are going to 66 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
university should be going elsewhere.” What really changes? By chance, I recently came upon an article I had written over two decades ago for the Christchurch Press, taking issue with the District Senior Inspector of Primary Schools, Barry Nelson. That same year, 1987, saw nearly the whole intake of first-year law students at Auckland University – those who should have been from the crème de la crème of school leavers – given remedial work in English. From memory, approximately 4 out of 200 passed a competence test in correct usage. What was already well under way two decades ago was the deliberate refusal to teach children to write and speak well – and in this respect, little has changed. Grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation – actually teaching children well – had become frowned upon – in line with the radical activist Noam Chomsky’s dismissal of the need for formal teaching in favour of children “generating” their own tools
– learning them at their mother’s knee. The fact that if a mother had been shortchanged by the same now-institutionalized insidious thinking, then her child, if not taught well, was not going to have the same chances of a child from a more advantaged home, apparently didn’t count. Such a shortfall in thinking had to mean not just idiocy, but that some other agenda was at work. And so it was and still is. In effect, the government that controls the curricula controls the minds of the majority of the young in the country. Moreover, the brainwashing of an intellectually-abused population best starts very early – facts not ignored by the far Left. I recall one bored son asking an astonished teacher to be actually taught something in English classes. Another was enduring the tedium of so-called “process writing”, where, in the first hour of every school day, his class free-wheeled in what was meant to be a “creative” process. The
newest notion was that children learn best by actually writing – no input was necessary. Even gifted and imaginative children found this ritually vacant hour tedious. It must have been purgatory for children whose basic gifts and potential skills lay elsewhere. Whereas an enthusiastic teacher can awaken an appreciation of his/her area of learning in otherwise uninterested children, the chance to actually learn was not offered to these children. Flawed “individual discovery” theories held the day. The result of course was, and still is, so very many children leaving primary school without good writing, reading, speaking and comprehension skills – not taught properly in the first place. At that same time, back in 1987, classes in remedial reading were springing up all over the country as a result of the education establishment cheating children of its easy pathway, i.e. learning the letters of the alphabet, the sounds they make – and how interestingly they fit together! It was replaced by the shonky system of expecting unprepared children to memorise whole words – Look and Say. Teachers refusing to abandon phonics teaching were actually threatened with career reprisals. Forward two decades to 2008, and visiting a school to see specially-selected, overfêted “young writers” at work, I found little changed. A well-meaning, admiring teacher overpraised the banalities of primary children uninhibited by any concerns about punctuation, spelling or competence in language use. Some of their stories were promising, some simply disturbing, precocious, or scatological – children having the teacher on, knowing that all must be praised: not a hint of less than perfection in their writing would be aired. At the school assembly afterwards – with a “ Stand up, the writers!”… these wunderkind read out their marvels of composition. Whether mediocre or illiterate , they were paragons in the eyes of their classmates. So much for egalitarianism. In contrast to the 1987 claim by the same senior inspector that lists of words, if they were used to teach spelling, must be “relevant to the child’s writing”, Dr Margaret Dalziel, later Otago University Professor of English, rightly condemned the restriction of the content of education to “the suffocating region of the here and now”. Today’s still current PC emphasis, rather than accessing for young New Zealanders the treasury of our forebears from the West, has a distinct over-emphasis on a biculturally-envisaged approach to teach-
“The politicisation of education has been a major factor in the decline of the rigorous study of English, maths, science, and history in our schools in recent years. Anything that might offer a precise rating of performance had to be binned ing. Divisive and minimalistic, it lacks balance, directing an inappropriate reverence towards all things Maori, bowdlerising and mythologising a culture which merits genuine appraisal. The parallel denigrating of “the British tribe” leaves its descendants, the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders (including Maoris, who are, of course, no longer full-blooded Maori) woefully ignorant of, and even antagonistic to, a great cultural inheritance – a body of greatly important learning from which they are being excluded. In essence, these past decades the education establishment has learned nothing from the idiocies of its failed policies and shockingly inadequate thinking. Back in 1975, even, the Australian Council for Educational Standards produced a magazine called Ace’s Review. This first report of the Whitlam Government Australian Schools Commission planned the egalitarian transformation of Australian society “by eliminating from schools any emphasis on excellence and standards” – a programme, in the view of the Australian poet James McAuley, “for undermining the free society”. Only 12 years later the Australian News Weekly noted the internal collapse of education standards, urging an emphasis on basic academic skills for all children.
At the same time, the Commonwealth Schools Commission was recommending the phasing out of external examinations and their replacement with new forms of student assessment – a scenario very familiar to New Zealanders. The politicisation of education has been a major factor in the decline of the rigorous study of English, maths, science, and history in our schools in recent years. Anything that might offer a precise rating of performance had to be binned. James McAuley’s statement that “Under cover of social equalizing, the populist egalitarians are taking away the chance of the best education from those who have no inherited privilege” is a credible assessment of what is still happening in New Zealand. We should not hold our breath for any real reform by the present education minister’s proposed national standards – which are, of course not national standards at all. Like her predecessors, Anne Tolley is taking advice from the wolf in charge of the sheep. The supposed forward thinking is, in fact, the now only too prevalent flawed thinking. © Amy Brooke www.amybrooke.co.nz www.summersounds..co.nz http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 67
think life | SCIENCE
Aye, Robot Robots are narrowing the gap with humans, reports Robert S. Boyd Robots are gaining on us humans. Thanks to exponential increases in computer power – which is roughly doubling every two years – robots are getting smarter, more capable, more like flesh-and-blood people. Matching human skills and intelligence, however, is an enormously difficult – perhaps impossible – challenge. Nevertheless, robots guided by their own computer “brains” now can pick up and peel bananas, land jumbo jets, steer cars through city traffic, search human DNA for cancer genes, play soccer or the violin, find earthquake victims or explore craters on Mars. At a “Robobusiness” conference in Boston this month, companies demonstrated a robot firefighter, gardener, receptionist, tour guide and security guard. You name it, a high-tech wizard somewhere is trying to make a robot do it. A Japanese housekeeping robot can move chairs, sweep the floor, load a tray of dirty dishes in a dishwasher and put dirty clothes in a washing machine. 68 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Intel, the worldwide computer-chip maker, has developed a self-controlled mobile robot called Herb, the Home Exploring Robotic Butler. Herb can recognize faces and carry out generalized commands such as “please clean this mess,” according to Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer. In a talk last year titled “Crossing the Chasm Between Humans and Machines: the Next 40 Years,” the widely respected Rattner lent some credibility to the oftenridiculed effort to make machines as smart as people. “The industry has taken much greater strides than anyone ever imagined 40 years ago,” Rattner says. It’s conceivable, he adds, that “machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason in the not-so-distant future.” Programming a robot to perform household chores without breaking dishes or bumping into walls is hard enough, but creating a truly intelligent machine still remains far beyond human ability.
Artificial intelligence researchers have struggled for half a century to imitate the staggering complexity of the brain, even in creatures as lowly as a cockroach or fruit fly. Although computers can process data at lightning speeds, the trillions of everchanging connections between animal and human brain cells surpass the capacity of even the largest supercomputers “One day we will create a human-level artificial intelligence,” wrote Rodney Brooks, a robot designer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass. “But how and when we will get there – and what will happen after we do – are now the subjects of fierce debate.” “We’re in a slow retreat in the face of the steady advance of our mind’s children,” agrees Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. “Eventually, we’re going to reach the point where everybody’s going to say, ‘Of course machines are smarter than we are.’ “The truly interesting question is what happens after if we have truly intelligent robots,” Saffo says. “If we’re very lucky, they’ll treat us as pets. If not, they’ll treat us as food.” Some far-out futurists, such as Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and technology evangelist in Boston, predict that robots will match human intelligence by 2029, only 20 years from now. Other experts think that Kurzweil is wildly over-optimistic. According to Kurzweil, robots will prove their cleverness by passing the so-called “Turing test.” In the test, devised by British computing pioneer Alan Turing in 1950, a human judge chats casually with a concealed human and a hidden machine. If the judge can’t tell which responses come from the human and which from the machine, the machine is said to show human-level intelligence. “We can expect computers to pass the Turing test, indicating intelligence indistinguishable from that of biological humans, by the end of the 2020s,” Kurzweil wrote in his 2005 book, “The Singularity Is Near.” To Kurzweil, the “singularity” is when a machine equals or exceeds human intelligence. It won’t come in “one great leap,” he said, “but lots of little steps to get us from here to there.” Kurzweil has made a movie, also titled The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About the Future, that’s due in theatres this summer. Intel’s Rattner is more conservative. He says it will take at least until 2050 to close the mental gap between people and
machines. Others say that it will take centuries, if it ever happens. Some eminent thinkers, such as Steven Pinker, a Harvard cognitive scientist, Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, and Mitch Kapor, a leading computer scientist in San Francisco, doubt that a robot can ever successfully impersonate a human being. It’s “extremely difficult even to imagine what it would mean for a computer to perform a successful impersonation,” Kapor says. “While it is possible to imagine a machine obtaining a perfect score on the SAT or winning ‘Jeopardy’ – since these rely on retained facts and the ability to recall them – it seems far less possible that a machine can weave things together in new ways or ... have true imagination in a way that matches everything people can do.” Nevertheless, roboticists are working to make their mechanical creatures seem more human. The Japanese are particularly fascinated with “humanoid” robots, with faces, movements and voices resembling their human masters. A fetching female robot model from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology lab in Tsukuba, Japan, sashays down a runway, turns and bows when “she” meets a real girl. “People become emotionally attached” to robots, Saffo said. Two-thirds of the people who own Roombas, the humble floor-sweeping robots, give them names, he says. Onethird take their Roombas on vacation. At a technology conference last October in San Jose, Calif., Cynthia Breazeal, an MIT robot developer, demonstrated her attempts to build robots that mimic human and social skills. She showed off “Leonardo,” a rabbity creature that reacts appropriately when a person smiles or scowls. “Robot sidekicks are coming,” Breazeal says. “We already can see the first distant cousins of R2-D2,” the sociable little robot in the “Star Wars” movies. Other MIT researchers have developed an autonomous wheelchair that understands and responds to commands to “go to my room” or “take me to the cafeteria.” So far, most robots are used primarily in factories, repeatedly performing single tasks. The Robotics Institute of America estimates that more than 186,000 industrial robots are being used in the United States, second only to Japan. It’s estimated that more than a million robots are being used worldwide, with China and India rapidly expanding their investments in robotics.
“Roboticists are working to make their mechanical creatures seem more human. The Japanese are particularly fascinated with “humanoid” robots, with faces, movements and voices resembling their human masters
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 69
think life | TECHNOLOGY
Mobile users get extra features Smart phones are transforming the way we shop, writes Jen Aronoff
Bart Farrell bought an Apple iPhone a little more than a year ago, and it has since become his device of choice for tasks he could have only dreamed of performing on his old flip phone: Checking movie showtimes and paying for admission. Buying tickets to a coming Metallica concert. Looking up maps on the fly to find nearby stores and restaurants. With its Internet access and range of clever applications, the phone is helping influence how and where Farrell, an oral surgeon, spends money – making him part of a shift that’s changing the way we shop. The growing popularity of Web-enabled smart phones-that is, cell phones that har70 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
ness the power of the Internet to do far more than send text messages and make calls-means consumers increasingly have access to a world of information at their fingertips, at the moment they’re making buying decisions. Software developers are responding by introducing new cell phone programs that help compare prices or list coupons, and retailers are also working to adapt. But, just as happened after Internet shopping dawned more than a decade ago, experts say, there’s much more to come, as people become comfortable with smart phones. Farrell, 36, and a colleague were driving during lunch recently, he said, and realized
they needed a computer monitor splitter. Using Google, they found the manufacturer’s Web site, which listed local stores that carried the item. They made a U-turn toward a shopping plaza and had the part within four minutes. “It just becomes second nature,” Farrell said. Though other manufacturers had introduced Web-capable phones before Apple did, the iPhone’s debut and subsequent popularity re-emphasized just how much a smartphone could do. Of the roughly 270 million cell phones in use in the U.S., smart phones make up roughly one out of eight, or 13 percent, and
annual smart phone sales are projected to double by 2013, said David Chamberlain, principal analyst for wireless at market research firm In-Stat. Because smart phones are limited by small screens, occasionally spotty data connections and often-slow methods of typing, they’re not soon going to replace computer-based online shopping, said Tarun Kushwaha, a marketing professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. But, he said, the devices are handy for quick, time-sensitive tasks such as ordering pizza or downloading a song. Smart phones can also empower customers while they shop, offering the ability to
compare prices, look up reviews and find products at nearby stores. “There’s less of an opportunity for them to get talked into buying something that isn’t right for them,” said Bonnie Cha, a smart phone editor at technology Web site CNET.com. “They have the knowledge to say, ‘I want this product, I’m looking to spend this price, it’s right here on my phone.’” That can happen through a simple Web search. But the application stores – or “app stores,” in tech lingo-that have sprung up to provide software programs for various mobile operating systems also offer a growing range of price comparison tools. iPhone program Save Benjis – as in Benjamin Franklin, star of the $100 bill – allows users to enter either a keyword or bar code number to see what an item is selling for online. Take an iPhone photo of a book or CD cover using SnapTell, meanwhile, and it will return a list of online and local stores that sell the product, with directions and prices. Similar programs exist for Google’s Android mobile operating system, and other platforms and carriers are also rolling out their own application stores. BlackBerry opened one last week, and Palm is planning one for its new Pre smart phone, said Jessica Dolcourt of CNET’s Download.com. Price-checking programs are far from comprehensive. They depend on what databases are available online and lean toward big chains. But they have the potential to develop further and include more precise, local results over time. Smart phones present an opportunity for retailers and marketers to have more customized contact with consumers, Kushwaha said. But for that to work, they have to maintain privacy and offer enough benefits that people feel it’s worthwhile to provide their cell phone numbers, he said. Mobile coupons, for instance, are gaining favour in US marketing campaigns. Though many began as text alerts, marketers have found that they’re more effective in a form that customers access on demand. Cellfire, which was founded in 2005 and works on most Web-enabled phones, allows people to look up mobile coupons available in their area. Though the company keeps personal data private, it shares general demographic information so advertisers know who they’re reaching, CEO
Brent Dusing said. The cell phone coupons have higher redemption rates than paper coupons, Dusing said, because they’re targeted and a lot harder to forget to bring along. The result is more cost-effective marketing, he said. The company is working with supermarket chain Kroger and has seen strong growth in its grocery offers, he said. Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, praised Amazon. com’s TextBuyIt, in which customers send a text message with the name of a product and receive its Amazon selling price-and more information, if they want-in return. Conversely, Rosenblum said, bricks-andmortar merchants aren’t yet doing enough to adapt to the rise of smart phones. They’d be wise to do so, she noted, as the technology puts more pressure on them to be honest, competitive on price and serviceoriented. Among other things, they can optimize their Web sites for use on mobile phones and use the technology to deliver promotions and information customers value while they shop. “If you do not want your stores to become showrooms for online stores, you will provide a better customer experience in the store,” she said. Connecting with people through new technology can help engage, excite and retain existing customers, which is especially important in the current economy, she said. Shoppers “have very short attention spans and they still have a lot of choices,” Rosenblum said. “It’s not a social experiment. It’s at the end of the day about making money.” Most shopping-related smart phone tools either help you check prices or locate coupons. There are others outside those bounds, including grocery lists to store on your phone. So far, the bulk of the programs (known as applications, or “apps” for short) are for Apple’s iPhone, which is on AT&T, and Google’s Android platform. However, the trend is quickly spreading to other carriers and devices, so if apps for your handset don’t exist yet, chances are good they soon will. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 71
feel life | SPORT
The NZ All Whites in practice for their 1999 campaign in Mexico. /NOTIMEX
All Whites now New Zealand football will never have a better shot of qualifying for the World Cup finals. It’s the chance of a generation to match that magical ride to Spain, 27 years ago. Ricki Herbert is the man in charge. The head coach reveals his hopes and fears to sports columnist Chris Forster FIFA has a very generous view of Oceania’s place in world football. The game’s ruling body has New Zealand and its island neighbours on a level playing field with the five other Confederations from Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. Australia is lumped into the more challenging Asian qualifying group. The Socceroos are currently on the brink of making the grade to try and match their impressive World Cup campaign in Germany in 2006. That gifts the All Whites a pretty smooth 72 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
passage through the first stage of qualifying against the likes of Vanuatu, Tahiti and the Solomon Islands. It also made it a whole lot easier to make the grade for June’s Confederations Cup in South Africa, representing Oceania. The big challenge is yet to come. At the end of the year they’ll face a home and away series against the 5th or 6th best side from the Asian qualifying groups – and a huge step-up in quality against the likes of Bahrain, North Korea or Saudi Arabia.
For Herbert it’s far more achievable than the old qualifying routine of trying to beat Australia and then a top South American team. “When I came on board in 2005 the goal was to qualify for the Confederations Cup and have a shot at the World Cup. We’re right where we wanted to be. It’s a massive year really”. This smooth passage moves them into illustrious footballing circles, and a couple of plum ties in South Africa.
Their warm-up schedule for the ConFed Cup includes matches in Tanzania and Botswana before meeting the current World Champs, Italy. Four days late the competition itself gets underway against the world’s top ranked side and reigning European Champs, Spain. That’s followed by hosts South Africa and Asian champions Iraq. It doesn’t get any bigger than that for a small country where the round ball code ranks a distant third behind Rugby Union and Rugby League. “It’s ideal for us to have the players for that length of time ahead of the World Cup qualifiers at the end of the year”, enthuses Herbert. But there is an extra challenge for the 48 year old former international. He has to merge the cream of the country’s footballing crop plying their trade in America, England, Europe, Australia and at home. “We haven’t had a chance to play our absolute best side for the last 3 or 4 years. But we have to be careful. “Some players are coming out of season – i.e. Ryan Nelsen (with English club Blackburn Rovers). Some are going into season – in their pre-season – the Phoenix players. Some are in competition – the American-based players. “Unfortunately we have a spread as opposed to the top teams whose players are all from the same league”. You get the feeling Herbert has to get everything exactly right, and get his players at the absolute peak to put in a respectable showing at the Confed Cup – and avoid hidings by the millionaire footballers from Italy and Spain. Then the All Whites have to peak again for the World Cup qualifiers at the end of the year. By that stage Herbert will be in the middle of an A-League campaign with the Wellington Phoenix, his regular day job. He’s quick to parry away any attempt to prioritise between his two coaching responsibilities. Probably one of those questions he’s burdened with scores of times every week. Competing on the world’s biggest football stages has predictably been tough going for the All Whites, in three previous attempts. Herbert was in his prime as a powerful young central defender at the heart of that memorable World Cup campaign in Spain in 1982, where they were humbled by Brazil but gave Scotland and Russia a run for their money. In Mexico in 1999 they qualified for the
Confederations Cup for the first time and gave a pretty good account of themselves – narrowly beaten 2-1 by U.S.A before holding the might of Germany and Brazil to a pair of 2-0 defeats. The wheels fell off in France four years later though. They were hammered by the hosts 5-nil after comprehensive 3-0 and 3-1 defeats to Japan and Columbia. Herbert believes he’s got a better balanced side than his predecessor and will be playing his top side in the more winnable games against South Africa and Iraq. “We’ll probably start with the top side against Spain, then make changes”. He’ll show his hand for the first time in the Italian friendly four days before the competition gets underway, but may have to sacrifice a few goals against the Spaniards to be competitive in the rest of pool play. They’ll be underdogs in just about every game. “That’s a real blueprint for New Zealand. There’s probably not a lot of expectation form a lot of people. But internally there will be some strong expectations”. Nearly 3 decades after Adshead and Rufer became household names, Herbert could become a modern day sporting legend by the end of the year. Herbert has a 23 strong squad to choose from at the Confederations Cup and for the World Cup qualifiers. Most of his top players are full-time professionals earning a decent or exceptional living in the States or the UK, along with top performers in the A-League. Shane Smeltz is the top gun striker from the A-League. He won the Golden Boot in the 2008-2009 season with a record-equalling 12 goals for the Wellington Phoenix and is now based at the new franchise on the Gold Coast.
Ryan Nelsen is the captain of club and country. Leading his Blackburn Rovers club through the intensity of the Premier League and FIFA demands mean he will be back at the heart of the New Zealand defence this year, after fleeting appearances in recent years. Glen Moss is likely to be the first choice goalkeeper, ahead of Mark Paston. The 26 year old shot-stopper will be an extremely busy man trying to keep the score-lines respectable against Italy and then Spain.
L or SOCCER FOOTBALin me? – What’s a na The Americanised description of football is soccer. It’s also the common word for the world’s most popular game in oval ball countries like Australia and New Zealand. Media hacks call it soccer, on Saturday mornings Mums and Dads call it kids’ soccer, the banter around the water cooler at work is about soccer. But the international language calls the roundball code football. The A League’s realised this and New Zealand Football after many years of boardroom arguments switched from Soccer New Zealand to the more correct phrase. It’s a bit like the old Mt Egmont v Mt Taranaki argument. Soccer may always be the term the masses prefer but the purists and the decision makers stick with football.
WORLD CUP QUALIFYERS v 5 or 6th ranked team from Asia. th
Home and Away October 10-14th November 14-18th
THE ROAD AHEAD Friendly Internationals Who
All Whites v Tanzania
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
June 3, 4pm (1am, June 4 NZT)
June 6, 4pm (2am, June 7 NZT)
Pretoria, South Africa
June 10, 8.45pm (6.45am, June 11 NZT)
FIFA Confederations Cup, South Africa v Spain
June 14, 8.30pm (6.30am, June 15 NZT)
v South Africa
June 17 (6.30am, June 18 NZT)
June 20 (6.30am, June 21 NZT)
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 73
feel life | HEALTH
Unintelligent intervention Claire Morrow argues that with the human body designed so well, throwing medicines at it is not always the best idea
Sometimes new research in health and medicine is groundbreaking or astonishing, other times it merely confirms or explains the obvious or what should be obvious. Reviewing current research in maternal health, I am struck by the latter. After a few years around the infant traps, one learns that pregnancy and baby health advice have definite fads, but the big issues seem to remain constant. It is tempting to review the many changes I have seen over the years in the dietary recommendations for pregnancy, and find out what the current warnings are, but we could surpass that with the summary statement that pregnant women should eat healthily and avoid things that might poison them. Current recommendations on food safety in pregnancy hinge on limiting fish that might contain mercury, and food with a higher than average chance of causing food poisoning. (http:// www.foodstandards.gov.au/foodmatters/ mercuryinfish.cfm, http://www.nzfsa.govt. nz/consumers/low-immunity-child-preg74 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
nancy/pregnancy-food-safety/ ). But the chances of getting food poisoning from a soft serve ice-cream are still very small; if one is tempted to panic over a rare glass of wine or piece of cheese, one might be reminded that a recent study suggested that pregnant women be counseled to avoid methamphetamine (the illegal street-drug “ice”, meth or, as New Zealanders refer to it, “P”, which sounds more like a human waste product), since it may harm their baby. Well, yes, so you’d expect: “try to avoid crack cocaine whilst pregnant“ is the kind of health advice that puts “ be wary of pre-prepared salads while pregnant“ in perspective. Before I turn to research on the oral contraceptive pill, I might remind the gentle reader that I am accused of being an antimedicine loon about as often as I’m accused of being militantly pro-medicine; I favour, in other words, a balanced approach. I am quite persuaded that medicine is often useful and important but I am equally sure that it always carries risks. If you need it
to live a decent life, you should take it. If you don’t, you should think seriously about the risks before you do so. Medicine is not candy. We very much want it to be, of course; we want magic bullets that make bodies healthy, moods sunny and pregnancies to appear only when it’s convenient, but if we’re going to achieve those things with medicine, we need to accept that there are not really magic bullets. Medicines work by changing the way the body works, we simply do not know everything we would need to know to predict every outcome of doing so. So in surprising (ahem) news, studies have linked the contraceptive pill to lupus, asthma, and atherosclerosis. The lupus risk probably only applies to the small number of women who are genetically susceptible, the asthma risk is probably small, the atherosclerosis risk applies to long term use, and no-one knows yet how significant it is. It’s worth looking into if you’re considering this as a long term contraception, (http://www. medscape.com/viewarticle/586644?src=rss)
but it shouldn’t be a surprise, really: you change the body’s hormones for 20 years, there probably will be consequences. And now, gravid with the weight of these cautionary tales of unsurprising research, there should be little surprise as to the birth. There was a time, of course, mid-century, when obstetricians got very excited indeed about how organized they could make the whole birth arrangement: set a date, and induce the labour. And if that doesn’t work out as magically as you’d think, well, then, get the theatre ready, and we’ll soon from the mother’s womb untimely rip that stubborn infant. Caesarian delivery (the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mothers abdomen) has been practiced for centuries, usually as a last resort, a last ditch effort to save the baby when the mother had died or was considered beyond help, and only occasionally would a woman would survive the procedure. But in the last century, Caesarian section outcomes improved to the point that they became so safe that they started to look convenient, planned caesarians became more common than emergency caesarians, and the indications for the surgery shifted away from necessity. The natural birth movement – which began in the 1940s, only a few decades after birth became a hospital-based procedure – gained widespread popularity in the 1960s and 70s, when feminism was burgeoning and hippies were birthing, and fought against the medicalisation of a natural procedure (birth). The truth turned out to be somewhere in the middle: the safest place to give birth is a medical facility, because that’s where they keep the stuff you need if there’s an emergency. But if there are no complications, you’re best off with a natural birth. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the rate of Caesarean sections should not exceed 15% in any country, the percentage of mothers having caesareans in New Zealand was 23.7 per cent in 2004 (7949 emergency procedures and 5045 planned surgeries). This figure is lower than Australia’s 29.1 % in 2004, lower than Italy and Brazil’s 75-90% Caesar rate, but still higher than Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, where the caesarian rate is under 10%, at least in part because they have policies designed to avoid unnecessary surgical births. Research persistently demonstrates that in developed countries with low infant mortality, caesarian delivery is associated with a two to threefold increase in deaths and signifi-
cant injuries for the mother and baby, and increased risk during subsequent pregnancies, and that this difference is not altogether due to underlying conditions such as age or maternal illness which make birth more risky. I don’t favour the absence of all intervention (after all, (natural) “childbirth” was once a fairly ”natural” cause of death) and Caesarians are life saving operations. But surely we are becoming arrogant indeed if we are surprised that surgery has a level of risk associated. When it comes time to feed the baby, research again demonstrates that humans are just not as knowledgeable as we like to believe. Only a short time ago, infant
formula was thought to be at least as good (probably better) than breast-milk, but studies consistently show otherwise: women who breastfed their infants are (for some reason) less likely to develop heart disease or breast cancer in later life and breastfed infants are healthier as infants and in later life, and have a real increase in IQ. No one is quite sure why this is, of course, it just happens that humans are very well designed. Aside, of course, from a few flaws. Like the optimistic arrogance of reasoning that allows humans to look at a good system, fail to quite figure out how it works, and then carry on under the assumption that we can do it better.
HEALTHBRIEFS Testosterone gel causes safety concerns u WASHINGTON, (UPI) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will require makers of two prescription testosterone gel products to add boxed warnings to their labels. The federal agency said it is requiring the action after receiving reports of adverse effects in children who were inadvertently exposed to testosterone through contact with another person being treated with the topical products – AndroGel and Testim. The gels are approved for use in men who either no longer produce testosterone or produce it in very low amounts. Precautions on the current labels instruct users to wash their hands after using the product and to cover the treated skin with clothing. Despite currently labeled precautions, as of Dec. 1 the FDA had received reports of eight cases of secondary exposure to testosterone in children ranging in age from nine months to five years. Since that time, additional reports of secondary exposure have been received by the FDA and are presently under review, including inappropriate enlargement of genitalia, premature development of pubic hair and increased libido and aggressive behavior. AndroGel is manufactured by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, and Testim is made by Auxilium Humans blamed for Australia’s dengue risks u BRISBANE, Australia, (UPI) – Australian scientists are blaming humans for their nation’s dengue risks and say installing large water tanks in urban regions might make the problem worse. The researchers, led by Nigel Beebe from the University of Queensland, said such domestic water tanks would enable the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) to regain its foothold across the country and expand its range of possible infections. Beebe and colleagues from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Australian Army Malaria Institute and the Communicable Diseases Branch of Queensland Health, challenge the common assumption that climate change will drive the spread of this mosquito, suggesting the real driver is human behavior. Dengue risks will not be driven directly by warmer temperatures or changes in rainfall patterns, Beebe said. “Our summers already provide ideal conditions for dengue transmission around the country. But the introduction of government-subsidized water storage devices now adds the ideal breeding ground for the dengue mosquito to re-emerge. While research is properly focused on the impact of anthropogenic climate change, this study highlights the need to look also at our responses to those changes and the outcomes they generate, he added. The study appears in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 75
feel life | ALT.HEALTH
Need a cold remedy that works? Ian Wishart revisits the latest data on herbal cold remedy Kaloba NOTIMEX
As the winter flu season, H1N1 and other bugs start to roll around, there’s fresh research backing up the efficacy of a natural product we hailed as “a cure for the common cold” last year. Kaloba, which is based on a plant extract known as Pelargonium sidoides that’s been enhanced by a pharmaceutical company in Germany, works by boosting the body’s natural immune system to help fight off the effects of colds, pneumonia and bronchitis. Yeah, well, that’s what they all say, you might object. The difference with Kaloba is that it’s been extensively tested in randomized double-blind scientific clinical trials. In one search of medical databases on the subject of acute bronchitis, for example, six controlled trials were found, five of which pitched Kaloba against a placebo, and the sixth against a pharmaceutical drug used to treat acute bronchitis, mucolytic acetylcysteine. Patients taking P. sidoides were significantly more likely to experience a decrease in bronchitis symptoms, compared to those taking a placebo. So those studies show the extract works, but they don’t reveal just how powerful Kaloba is. The direct comparison trial between P sidoides and the medical drug found the following, according to the Journal of Complementary Medicine in Sept/Oct 2008: 76 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
“In the one comparator trial, P. sidoides was found to relieve bronchitis symptoms (cough, sputum, rattling noise, chest pain and dyspnoea) more effectively and quickly than the mucolytic acetylcysteine.” That trial involved 60 children aged between 6 and 12, who were given either large doses of Kaloba (In this trial, 60 children aged between 6 and 12 yrs were divided, with one group given 20 drops every hour up to 12 times on day 1 and 2; 20 dropsx3/ daily from day 3–7, compared with the other group who received Acetylcysteine granules on the recommended dose for seven days). At the end, Kaloba kids were happier and more symptom-free than the ones on conventional medicine. If it seems strange that a herbal product is now outperforming hospital drugs, think again, says the study. “Perhaps due to the limited success of antibiotics, substantial cost, associated adverse effects and antibiotic resistance as a result of overuse and misuse (Bent et al.,1999) more attention is now focused on alternative treatments for acute bronchitis and other upper respiratory tract infections; hence the search for effective herbal options (Kligler et al., 2006). “Pelargonium sidoides is an herbaceous perennial that is popular in South African traditional medicine for the treatment of
infectious respiratory diseases (Watt and Breyer-Brandwyk,1962). Pelargonium containing phytopharmaceuticals are currently widely used in Europe to treat respiratory tract infections (Matthys et al., 2003).” The good news is Kaloba is not only effective against major respiratory infections, it’s also great against the common cold symptoms – runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throats etc. As the Journal of Family Practice reported in March last year, a randomized controlled test of P. sidoides and a placebo on people with cold symptoms found: “After 10 days, 78.8% versus 31.4% in the … placebo group were clinically cured.” The study went on to conclude: “[It is] an effective treatment of the common cold. It significantly reduces the severity of symptoms and shortens the duration of the common cold compared with placebo.” With so many warnings about children’s over the counter cough and cold preparations, the discovery of one which (as we first reported a year ago) doesn’t just relieve symptoms but has actually been scientifically proven to help the body kill the infection safely is a real boost in parental arsenals. When our kids start getting snuffly, we’ve now become used to the catch-cry, “can we have some Kaloba?”
Worried about your family’s health this winter? Worldwide Authorities are concerned about the overuse of antibiotics, development of resistant strains of bugs and the appropriateness of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals for children.
Help from nature .... scientiﬁcally proven for all the family Kaloba® EPs® 7630, a natural plant-based product, helps the whole family ﬁght winter ailments, ills and chills and also supports recovery. Kaloba® EPs® 7630 is well established and is scientiﬁcally proven to be safe and suitable for children aged one year and over. It is important to take Kaloba® immediately you feel your body and immune system is threatened, and continue for 2 to 3 days once you feel back to normal.
Naturally soothes the throat, and helps clear airways in the nose and sinuses. Helps the body maintain optimum health and supports the immune defences against winter ailments. Kaloba® EPs® 7630 is registered in more than 20 countries worldwide. Sold as Umckaloaba® in Germany where sales exceeded 5,700,000 units last year.
Available from all Pharmacies and selected Health Stores Supplementary to and not a replacement for a healthy diet. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Distributor: Pharma Health NZ Ltd, PO Box 15-185, New Lynn, Auckland 0640. Fax 09 827 4105. www.pharmahealth.co.nz Information phone: Apotex 0800 657 876 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm or firstname.lastname@example.org
If your pharmacy does not have Kaloba in stock, please tell them the pharma-code for ordering is 2251264
INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 77
taste life travel
Istanbul: Exotic city of a thousand enchantments Patti Nickell gets intoxicated by the remains of empire
ISTANBUL, Turkey – If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have believed it. Over the course of an evening, I watched a woman catch her hair on fire (it was quickly doused), a group of angels abandoning any angelic traits to get down and dirty with a group of devils (they turned out to be members of a bachelorette party), and a transvestite belly dancer cavorting on a revolting stage. I was in Istanbul, watching as the city’s predominantly Muslim populace carried on as they do most nights here at Al Jamal. Al Jamal, a restaurant/nightclub frequented by locals and visitors alike, is a microcosm for Istanbul itself, a city full of contradictions. The first lies in its identity crisis. It is the only city in the world that straddles two continents, with the main business and tourism sectors in Europe and most of the residential areas in Asia. The struggle over whether it’s inherently 78 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
European or Asian can be seen in its two major palaces. The Topkapi, once the residence of sultans, is straight from “The Arabian Nights,” and the white marble Baroque Dolmabache Palace, with its 4ton chandelier and luxurious gardens, is a testament to those same sultans’ desire to introduce European savoir-faire to their Middle Eastern domain. It is, likewise, torn between its past and present. McDonald’s Golden Arches overlook the fabled Golden Horn, a waterway through which, over the centuries, have sailed hordes of invaders (Istanbul is also the only city in the world that has been at the centre of three major empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman). If its past is the legendary Pera Palas Hotel – built in 1892 to host passengers from the Orient Express train; in whose bar Mata Hari sipped sidecars; and where in Room 411, some papers
and a key were found that shed light on the mysterious 11-day disappearance of novelist Agatha Christie – its present is the sleek, ultra-chic Park Hyatt Hotel, where guests sip rose-petal martinis before doing their own disappearing act back to their luxurious spa suites. Then there is the question of religion. During a city tour, my guide told me that although 99 percent of Istanbul’s population is Muslim, only a small fraction go to the mosque daily, with the vast majority considering once a week sufficient. In Turkey, where the constitution mandates a secular government, there is a high tolerance for other religions, as can be seen in two of Istanbul’s premier sites. The 400-plus-year-old Sultan Ahmet Mosque – better known as the Blue Mosque for its magnificent interior decoration of 20,000 blue Iznik tiles – is spiritual home
to several million Muslims. This bastion of Islam faces the basilica of Hagia Sophia (St. Sophia), begun in the fourth century by the emperor Constantine the Great, who was a Christian. Neither place should be missed. St. Sophia, now a museum known for its splendid mosaics, is generally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world, although it’s not Constantine’s original. It’s the third incarnation of the church, built between 532 and 537 A.D. by Emperor Justinian I. The Blue Mosque also is a magnificent structure, with six minarets rather than the usual four. The design oddity is the result of the mosque’s first architect misunderstanding the order of the sultan to make the minarets gold, or altin in Turkish. Thinking the sultan said alti, the word for six, he complied, and was summarily executed for his gaffe. Perched on a hilltop overlooking both is
a third incomparable building: Sulemaniye Mosque, considered by many the most splendid of all the imperial mosques. The burial place of Suleyman the Magnificent, most famous of the Ottoman sultans, it is conspicuous for its size (the architect wanted to surpass St. Sophia) and its four minarets (presumably this architect paid attention) rising from each corner of the interior courtyard. Heading into the old part of the city, you’ll find a labyrinth of narrow, crooked alleys lined with colourful shops. Sidewalk vendors peddle everything from Turkish cuisine to Turkish carpets (although you should beware of buying either unless you know with whom you are dealing). You can easily spend a day at the Grand Bazaar, a medieval mall with some 4,000 souks under one gargantuan tent. Here, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of Turkish crafts: sheepskin coats, bursa silks, puzzle rings, copper pots and jewellery.
It’s exotic but I found it overpowering, with too many people and too many shops. I much preferred the smaller Egyptian Spice Market, near the Galata Bridge. It’s where the locals shop, and it’s compact enough that you don’t need a guide dog to manoeuvre through the maze of stalls. Its namesake arrays of spices in every shade of the rainbow are the main draw, although I was most fascinated by the purveyor of leeches lurking in the shadow of the stalls. Dominating the Old City is the marvellous Topkapi Palace, seat of Ottoman sultans for 400 years. From here they ruled an empire that stretched from Vienna to the Persian Gulf. If you have a full day to spend here, you won’t be disappointed. Overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with views to the Bosphorus, this is a vast complex, where beyond the mosaic-decorated Gate of the White Eunuchs you can explore INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 79
feel life |
IF YOU GO WHERE TO STAY u Park Hyatt Macka Palas. A historic 1922 Art Deco building, inspired by the elegant palazzos of Italy, this upscale hotel puts you in the centre of Istanbul’s shopping and entertainment district. If available, book one of the 25 spa rooms, which features its own Turkish bath. There’s also an on-site spa, the steakhouse The Prime, and Gucci and Emporio Armani stores. Rates start at US$465 for a deluxe room. www. istanbul.park.hyatt.com. WHERE TO EAT u Pandeli is at the Egyptian Spice Market and serves traditional Turkish cuisine. Try it for lunch after a busy morning of shopping. Another popular lunch spot is Hamdi Restaurant, where the mouth-watering kebabs vie with the incomparable view. At Al Jamal, the decor is Arabian Nights fantasy, the food is delicious, the crowd lively and the show, wildly entertaining. Al Jamal makes for a fun, though far from subdued, night. If you want to splurge on dinner, do it at Tugra, the fine dining restaurant at the Ciragan Palace Hotel, once a seaside retreat of Ottoman sultans. This is more than a dining experience of classical Turkish and Ottoman cuisine; it is an aesthetic experience: subdued lighting, classical music, impeccable service. Throw in a table by the window, with a view past marble columns to the Bosphorus and even the sultans didn’t have it any better. www.kempinski-istanbul.com. Where to shop u The Egyptian Spice Market is a great place to find (naturally) spices, especially saffron; authentic worry beads; and very inexpensive caviar. If you are in the market for a carpet, I was told that Mehmet Cetinkaya Gallery is the place to go. It is on a hard-to-find lane near the Blue Mosque, 7 Tavukhane Sokak. You can be sure that the carpets here are high quality, although far from cheap.
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four courtyards, with buildings housing everything from the Harem to the Library to the Imperial Throne Room. If you don’t have a full day, you should probably go straight to the Imperial Treasury, whose highlights include the Topkapi Dagger and the Spoonmaker Diamond. The dagger, a gift from Shah Nadir of Iran to Sultan Mahmud I, contains four large cabochon emeralds surrounded by diamonds and gold. The 86-carat (yes ladies, you heard correctly), pear-shaped Spoonmaker Diamond, surrounded by a double row of 49 cut diamonds, was supposedly found by a peasant in a rubbish heap in 1669. In what has to go down as the worst trade in history, the peasant swapped it to a spoonmaker for three wooden spoons. The spoonmaker didn’t fare much better: He sold it to a jeweller for 10 silver coins, but at least he lives on in the fabulous bauble’s name. Istanbul is a city so deeply rooted in antiquity that nearly every structure has a story to tell. But one institution synonymous with Istanbul dates back only to the beginning of the 18th century. It’s the hamam, or Turkish bath. The baths originally were designed for the use of the sultan and palace officials, but outside the palace walls, such famous folk as King Edward VIII, Kaiser Wilhelm, Franz Liszt and Florence Nightingale indulged in this sybaritic pleasure. It is an experience not to be missed. The hamam is divided into two bathing chambers, one for men and one for women. In the vast, steamy chambers, you can sip jasmine tea, soak in a large bathing pool and enjoy the services of your own masseuse. An even more recent addition to the Istanbul scene is the Sabanci Museum. I was hard put to decide which was the more impressive, the stunning location on a hilltop overlooking the Bosphorus Straits or the impressive collection donated by the Sabanci family, last owners of the mansion. That collection includes paintings, sculpture and an Ottoman calligraphy exhibit that spans five centuries. One of my favourite excursions was to the out-of-the-way village of Camlica on the Asian side, formerly a retreat of the sultans. There is a small glass-walled tea house in a fragrant garden atop a high hill that offers a breathtaking view. Here, as I sipped tea, I recalled the words of the French poet Lamartine, who wrote, “In Istanbul, God, man, nature and art have together created the most marvellous view that the human eye can contemplate.”
Antarctica - The Explorer’s Route falkland islands, south georgia & the antarctic peninsula ex-ushuaia, argentina / / 1 - 20 december 2009
wildlife in abundance with incomparable scenery, largely unchanged since early explorers and whalers. Join us on a voyage to the Falkland islands with its nesting albatross and diverse penguins found throughout the islands. Further south south georgia island is one of the planets most precious wildlife oasis offering the rare privilege of visiting colonies of king penguins with their ever diverse population dynamics. Hillsides of macaroni and rock-hopper penguins and islands of tussock grass dotted with albatross add further dimensions to the historic atmosphere left by the whalers and explorers such as sir ernest shackleton. the antarctic peninsula is one of the last wilderness areas left on earth, pristine and vast. our voyage explores the scenic and wildlife wonders of this iconic continent.
combining the very best of the wildlife and scenery of
south georgia, falkland islands and antarctica Black-Browed alBatross colonies in Falkland islands Historic capital oF Falkland islands - stanley // iceBergs large king penguin colonies // sir ernest sHackleton’s grave grytviken wHaling station // comFortaBle staBle vessel witH staBilizers www.wildearth-travel.com
antarctic house, 53b montreal street, po box 7218, christchurch
tel: 03 365 1355
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taste life FOOD
Stale yourself James Morrow says that when it comes to old bread, don’t be a tosser New Zealanders may not know it, but just quietly, Prime Minister John Key is becoming something of a hero in many parts. As wave after wave of financial panic washes over the globe, Mr Key is seen as the one leader in the English-speaking world who has not pushed the panic button, phoned VISA to request a $10 trillion credit limit increase, and sent everyone out for some good old-fashioned retail therapy. In Australia, the national daily has lauded Key’s disciplined approach – in contrast to the increasingly schizophrenic policies of that nation’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who proclaims himself an economic conservative one day, a free-spending Whitlamite the next, and who sees no contradiction between rhetorically burying neo-liberalism on the one hand and ordering up longrange missile systems with enough range to ruin a Vladivostickian’s day on the other. In the free market think-tanks of London and Washington, DC, one quietly hears Key’s name uttered with hushed reverence: 82 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
At least one man is standing firm against the tide. So perhaps Kiwis have less of a long-term need for advice on culinary recession chic than the rest of the world, which will spend the next several decades adding and chopping zeros from the renamed bank notes they send to service their Chinese loans. Now before you get nervous about where this is heading, do not worry. Yes, this is about thrift. But no, this is not going to be another one of those horrible columns that have lately begun to fleck the world’s broadsheets like so many bugs on a windscreen. You know the ones: already nostalgic for the great recession to come, and looking forward to how our all being out of work will get us in touch with such long-lost arts like meeting the neighbours, darning socks, and making soup out of Marmite. But just as I still throw the empty wine bottles in the recycling as a nod to the environment, even though I know they all wind
up in the same landfill, I also do not think it is a good idea to wantonly waste food. Without sounding like a dad who wanders from room to room turning off light switches and asking anyone who will listen if they think he “owns the electric company” (guilty as charged), every rotten, uneaten piece of fruit in the bin may as well be money out the door. That’s why I have embraced not leftovers so much as things that might, well, be a little past their prime. A few months ago a British journalist (naturally) did an experiment, the upshot of which being that plenty of supermarket foods are more or less perfectly safe to eat days, even weeks, after their indicated expiry dates. Now I am not that extreme – or that British. But one does not need to be a practiced dumpster diver to make do with things that are a day or so past their prime. Take bread, for example. Just about every culture in the world that enjoys bread has figured out ways to utilise those bits that didn’t get eaten. And in the days before modern preservatives and refrigeration, that could have been a lot of bread. Hence the vast numbers of recipes that call for “stale” or, more euphemistically, “day old” bread, with its greater dryness and rigidity. French toast and fondue both call for the old stuff, as does the wonderful Italian dried bread salad, panzanella. When a leftover half a loaf that did not get turned into garlic bread beckons, I have been known to quickly whip up a salad of cubed bread, oil, balsamic vinegar, Spanish onions, capers, tomatoes and whatever else is tangy and to hand, and top it with a neatly seared off filet of ocean trout. Nor is the eating of stale bread simply a Mediterranean affectation, though it can often seem as such. One H. D. Renner, writing in 1944, believed it to be a Commonwealth habit: “Village life makes stale bread so common that toasting has become a national habit restricted to the British Isles and those countries which have been colonized by Britain”, he wrote in his Origin of Food Habits. Bread pudding (add some over-ripe bananas and see why being cheap never tasted so good), bread crumbs (believe me you’ll never go back to the store-bought powder once you’ve made a schnitzel with proper bread whizzed through the food processor), the bread in gazpacho – it all calls for stale bread. On other words, it’s time to ditch the old mantra. When in doubt, don’t throw it out!
“Lasagna” of stale bread and eggplant or zucchini Not all stale bread recipes are simple affairs: take this elegant “lasagna” which substitutes stale bread for pasta, developed by the great Italian chef Lidia Bastianich. (Interesting trivia: I went to high school with her daughter, along with Drea De Matteo, who would go on to star in The Sopranos). You’ll need For the Zucchini or Eggplant 1kg firm zucchini (6 small or 4 medium) or eggplant 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil For Assembling the Lasagna 2 tablespoons soft butter, for the baking pan 12 or so day-old slices of crusty bread 6 cups Tomato Sauce (or left over gravy_ 2 cups grated Grana Padano (or locetilli, or fontina) Method 1. Rinse and dry the zucchini or eggplant, slice off the stem and trim the blossom end. With a sharp long bladed knife (or a mandolin if you have one) cut very thin lengthwise slices, about an 1/3cm thick. Put them in large bowl, sprinkle over the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat the slices with the seasonings. 2. Arrange a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees. Cut the crusts off the bread slices. 3. Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow casserole or baking pan generously. Spread a cup of the tomato sauce in a thin layer in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom with a single layer
of bread slices. Trim the slices and cut them in pieces so they fit close together and lie flat (but you don’t have to fill every small crack or hole). Spoon about 2 cups of sauce onto the bread and spread it evenly. 4. Make a layer of zucchini (or sautéed eggplant), using half the slices. You can lay them crosswise or lengthwise in the pan, whichever way fits best. Overlap the slices as necessary to make an even layer that completely covers the sauce. Press down gently to condense the lasagna and make more room in the pan, then sprinkle 1 cup of grated cheese evenly over the top. 5. Now repeat the layering: Arrange another layer of bread slices and trimmed pieces. Cover the bread with 2 more cups of sauce, spread evenly. Lay out the rest of the zucchini (or eggplant) slices in an overlapping layer. Spread the remaining tomato sauce, about a cup, in a thin layer. Sprinkle another cup of cheese (or more!) in a generous layer over the top of the lasagna. 6. Cut a sheet of aluminium foil about 2 feet long—preferably from a wide roll of heavy duty foil. Press the foil so it hugs the sides of the pan and bend it to make a “tent” over the lasagna that doesn’t touch the surface anywhere. 7. Bake the lasagna covered for about 45 minutes, giving the zucchini plenty of time to cook. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully unfold the foil from the sides of the pan and lift it off completely. Don’t get burned by the pan or the steam that is released—keep your face and hands out of the way. And don’t let the foil mess up the cheesy topping! (In a glass casserole, you should be able to see the sauce bubbling up around the sides of the pan.) 8. Return the lasagna to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is deep golden-brown. Let the casserole settle for a few minutes before serving (it will stay hot for some time). Cut in squares or rectangles of whatever size you like and lift out individual pieces with an angled spatula. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 83
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touch life > toybox
EH-TW3000 projector Epson has released the EH-TW3000 highdefinition home theatre projector, an outstanding upgrade of its very successful EMPTW1000 HD projector, which delivers a superior home theatre experience for just $4499 RRP. With a spectacular dynamic contrast ratio of 18,000:1, the Epson EH-TW3000 projects ultra bright whites and rich blacks, controlling the optimal brightness and contrast of every scene with its advanced Auto Iris function and Epson’s latest generation D7 LCD panels with larger apertures that increase the native contrast of the projector. The high speed auto-iris function in the EH-TW3000 adjusts lamp brightness levels 60 times every second as it monitors the native brightness levels in the scene resulting in a bright image when needed and for darker scenes delivering richer blacks than are possible with less advanced systems. The new Auto Iris feature on the EH-TW3000, allows you to select either Normal or Fast Speed giving the viewer even more control over the picture. To complement Epson’s market leading 3LCD technology the EH-TW3000 also has a new 200W energy efficient Epson E-TORL lamp that delivers a light output of 1,800 lumens. www.epson.co.nz
Nikon D5000 Nikon has introduced the new D5000, a digital SLR camera with a host of features and capabilities that deliver superior performance and image quality along with amazing versatility for photo enthusiasts and those new to digital SLR photography. The D5000 boasts a versatile 2.7-inch Vari-angle LCD monitor that encourages shooting with a fresh perspective, Nikon’s revolutionary D-Movie Mode and expanded automatic Scene Modes, delivering superior Nikon innovation in a compact, userfriendly design. The D5000’s D-Movie Mode allows users the exciting ability to record HD movie clips (1280 x 720) at a cinematic 24 frames per second with sound. Photographers will appreciate the quality produced whether creating vacation clips or intertwining still photographs and movies in a post-production creative montage. Additionally, the D5000 is compatible with a comprehensive assortment of AF-S NIKKOR interchangeable lenses to provide users with the ability to capture perspectives not possible with typical consumer video recording devices. www.nikon.com
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Nokia E52 The Nokia E52 boasts astounding talk time – eight whole hours before you need to recharge. It also makes the most of Nokia’s email functionality thanks to Nokia Messaging, making email set-up on the device simple and fast. What’s more, the new Nokia E52 comes with noise cancellation, so now you’ll be heard clearly no matter where you’re calling from. All this comes on top of the features we’ve come to expect from E-series devices including A-GPS, high-speed HSDPA and HSUPA connections, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. The impressive battery provides plenty of power to keep you going through the working day. Alongside marathon talk time comes generous standby time in excess of 23 days. The Nokia E52 could easily replace your desk phone. Mobile VPN is built in to make it easy to access company intranets. This comes with Call Connect support, which enables businesses to integrate Nokia mobile devices with corporate phone systems, enabling users to be contactable through a single number, have a single voicemail box and offer least-cost call routing. www.nokia.com
wireless SD memory cards Eye-fi has announced that users can now upload videos directly from their digital camera to Picasa Web Albums, Photobucket or SmugMug, in addition to YouTube or Flickr, without ever having to turn on their computer. The 4GB Eye-Fi Share Video and Eye-Fi Explore Video cards can upload photos and videos directly to the computer and to one of more than 25 online photo and video sharing sites. The Eye-Fi Explore Video card automatically geotags photos and videos with location information about where the moment was captured, and offers hotspot access. http://www.eye. fi. [Source: photographyblog.com]
SAMSUNG HMX-H106 The best way to relive special moments is by watching them in amazing high definition on your HDTV. The best way to do this is with the SAMSUNG HMX-H106 camcorder. It offers 1920x1080 resolution which delivers breathtaking detail in brilliant color. It also includes 10x optical zoom so you can get close to the action and optical image stabilizer for blur-free video. The SC-HMX-H106 has 64 GB of built-in flash memory so you never miss anything. Samsung’s SSD technology is faster than HDD, including quicker boot-up and read/write speeds. Samsung’s SSD technology consumes approximately 1/8th of the power of a comparable HDD. You’ll never miss a shot with the 2.7” touch screen LCD display. Catch more of the action and guarantee that the entire image is recorded. Want a still photo instead of video? Leave your camera at home and snap 28800 x 1620 resolution images and then watch them with family and friends on your TV screen. www.samsung.com
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see life / pages
War and peace Michael Morrissey’s looks at peace of mind, and stories of war HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE: A Father’s Memoir of Love and Madness By Michael Greenberg Bloomsbury, $39.99 While mental illness is usually apparent to those on intimate terms with the afflicted, it remains a mystery. When we read that manic depression or bipolar disorder is caused by an upsurge of dopamine we think ... aha, so now we know the cause. This explanation for the singular state of bipolarity is however only tentative and it does little to clarify the disconcerting dazzle of the condition. In everyday human terms, the change of behaviour that often signals the arrival of bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a volatile urgency and unstoppable velocity while talking – what is called by psychiatrists “pressured speech”. It can be like hearing an auctioneer in full flight. Michael Greenberg, a contributor to the Times Literary Supplement observed a dramatic change in Sally, his 15-year old daughter’s way of talking which he expertly describes thus: “..her performance is so powerful it’s tormenting her. Each individual word is like a toxin she must expel from her body”. Greenberg and his wife initially speculate that their daughter has been taking drugs – hardly a foolish surmise. But when they realised that the effects of any drug intoxication should have worn off and their daughter continues to talk at a rate of ninety to the dozen, they reluctantly shift to another explanation – psychosis. It took a psychiatrist only five minutes to diagnose Sally’s condition. And what, pray, is Sally talking about? A rather marvellous idea – that everyone is born a genius and that society drums the genius of childhood out of us. Of course it’s not this intriguing notion 88 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
that proves Sally is crazy but the peculiar intensity with which she espouses it, the total obsessiveness with which the idea takes over her mind, plus her misreading of other people’s responses, including her father’s. Apart from the drama of Sally’s behaviour, Greenberg includes or refers to several other powerful and comparable dramas of mental disturbance. There is Lucia, James Joyce’s daughter, deranged by a condition of high but unusable verbal skill attributable ambiguously to either schizophrenia or mania depression, and analogous to Joyce’s own, but more intense and uncontrollable. She was also violent, destructive and flirted with suicide. Then there is Greenberg’s brother Steve, a raging schizophrenic, living a sordid sad and self-neglected life – so socially isolated that the only friends he can acquire are drug-taking freeloaders. Steven’s state is more abject than Sally’s and his condition more unrelenting. Sally was put on a repressive regimen of drugs including the dreaded Haloperidol, an equivalent of chemical lobotomy which drastically slowed her up, “normalised” her. I remain baffled why this drug was chosen as it is usually given to schizophrenics but as it turned out lithium, the usual treatment for the bipolar, did not work on her. Eventually, thanks to a sympathetic psychiatrist she was taken off Haloperidol and gradually returned to her normal cheerful self, though still mildly medicated. In a footnote to his moving, superbly well-written account, acclaimed as a classic of its kind by Oliver Sacks, we learn that Sally has subsequently had a couple of additional episodes – not unusual for manic depressives. And she is now resolved to learn to anticipate her worst bouts of psychosis and take steps to avoid them. Let us, like her father, wish this still young woman, the very best for the survival of her mental well being.
ing a light on his bicycle and then compelled to tell a denigrating joke about himself. When he is not being religious or tyrannical, Zia is also prone what I suspect are crocodile tears – or is it a reaction to a tongue-lashing from his wife? Being in a dank prison is hardly a situation oozing comic potential, yet Hanif contrives some dark humour when the imprisoned Shigri dialogues with a sulky fellow prisoner through a hole in the prison cell wall. Brimming with odd characters, this novel has some of the baroque extravagance of contemporary Indian novels though it has a sardonicism and a darkly savage wit that the Indian novels lack. Part political satire, part social commentary, A Case of the Exploding Mangoes is also a richly imbued thriller with short punchy chapters that steer us with unrelenting narrative drive to the stormy conclusion. A rich feast of a book to be joyously consumed with a mango of the non-exploding variety.
A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES By Mohammed Hanif Jonathan Cape, $26.99 Explosions have become the dominant motif of our time. Nuclear bombs, IRA and al-Qa’ida, The World Trade Centre’s demise and war in general ensure the subject of explosions is never far from our headlines. And of course there are explosions in Baghdad almost daily. General Zia, military dictator of Pakistan, a central character of this brilliant first novel, was also the subject of a lethal explosion along with his top generals back in 1988 – though some over ripe poison gas-injected mangoes may have been the initial pre-crash cause of death. The exploding mango theory is no mere novelist’s invention but is the conclusion of Pakistan investigations. The Americans are staying with mechanical failure – and their case looks quite plausible. But if you were a novelist would you opt for exploding and/or poison gas filled mangoes or a few loose nuts and bolts? Whether VX gas or exploding mangoes is the cause, there remains the identity of the conspirators – the CIA, Israel’s Mossad, the local anti-Zia group al-Zulfikar or a jealous general have all been mooted. Hanif ’s novel focuses on local conspirators. A double narrative is a time-honoured device – think of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or John Fowles’ The Collector – and Hanif skillfully depicts a scorchingly sardonic third person view of General Zia spliced with a first person narrative by the anti-hero, Ali Shigiri, an officer in the Pakistani Air Force hellbent is on revenging his father’s death – Ali believes his father was killed on Zia’s orders. Ironically, the torture centre in which he later finds himself was founded by his father. Though the mangoes are the main deus ex machina responsible for Zia’s plane ending in a fireball, there is also a maverick crow and a blind woman’s curse thrown into the complex hurly burly of the plot. The book is blackly funny and whenever Zia is centre stage we learn something that is unflattering – the general has tape worms, is subject to rectal examination; he is smaller than he looks, overweight and looks like an impersonation of himself and so forth. One of the funniest scenes is when Zia, seeking to discover whether the people really like him (and of course they don’t), ventures forth in mufti, only to be stopped by a dutiful policeman for not hav-
A SHORT HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND By Gordon McLauchlan Penguin Books, $35 By world standards New Zealand has a short history -750 years of Maori presence and 200 of European – so McLauchlan’s account might be considered appropriate in terms of length. This hasn’t stopped the learned James Belich from delivering 1100 elegantly written pages on the same topic. McLauchlan packs it into192 pages of text plus a handy and surprisingly full timeline and index. If this second edition short history is still too long for bloggers and cellphone texters, there is the earlier Lilliputian A Short Short History of New Zealand. So how does one start a history of Aotearoa? Belich begins with the now fabled and sadly destroyed Pink and White Terraces while Michael King starts with the richness of bird life prior to European settlement. McLauchlan begins in a manner reminiscent of the beginning of James Michener’s epic Hawaii with our geology – which is fair enough since our geology is relatively young. He proceeds at a brisk readable pace and concludes with Hillary’s state funeral. Lest optimism take a premature hold, McLauchlan reminds us of five early natural catastrophes. An attractive feature of the book is short encapsulated biographies of important figures added as footnotes to their photographs in the margins of pages. These provide additional information not covered in the main body of the text. McLauchlan’s psychological profiles of politically central figures like Michael Joseph Savage and Norman Kirk are witty and apposite. An important figure dealt with at relative length is Percy Smith, an amateur anthropologist, whose erroneous accounts of Maori settlement are still popularly believed even to this day even though academically discredited from the early 1970s. There is now considered no evidence for the arrival of Kupe in 925 AD, nor Toi-te-huatahi in 1100 nor the Great Fleet in 1350. Nor proof that Moriori were here before Maori. Other accounts have Maori coming from Ancient Egypt, Arabia, Israel, India and South America – all quite rightly dismissed by McLauchlan as by other mainstream historians. McLauchlan’s account takes us briskly through the hungry grab and confiscation of Maori land, Maori military victories over numerically superior British forces, and the acceleration of pakeha population initially in Dunedin and then later in Auckland. It was a surprise to me to learn that half of Auckland’s early population came from New South Wales, hence the monicker Little Sydney. McLauchlan makes the point, in contradistinction to his INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 89
father’s view, that no one came to New Zealand who was doing well in England, that many of the young men were well-educated and some had significant capital or were remittance men like the famous novelist Samuel Butler. As a non-historian, I am not qualified to critique McLauchlan’s book in detail but it seems accurate enough from my limited reading. However, though strong on mentioning the rising place of women in important positions, it is weak on the arts. Fairburn and his contemporaries (mainly Auckland ones) are briefly covered but there is no mention of Katherine Mansfield (our greatest writer), nor Janet Frame (best known novelist) nor Allen Curnow (greatest poet) nor any reference to painters (McCahon?) or composers nor even sensationally successful filmmaker, Peter Jackson. Despite these omissions and the occasional awkward sentence, McLauchlan writes clearly and is worth reading for his even-handed treatment of various factions and figures. ABSOLUTE WAR By Chris Bellamy Pan, $29.99 When I was a boy then youth my exposure to the Second World War was made up of endless retellings of the Battle of Britain and El Alamein. Since New Zealand was ardently pro-British and our men had fought valiantly in those theatres of war this emphasis was understandable. A chance remark by my Irish and somewhat anti-British father about the dominant part that Russia played in that huge conflict was my first inkling that Britain was not the dominant factor in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Until relatively recently, Russian war archives were not available to Western historians. But from the early 1990s, the archives have been to varying degrees accessible to historians like Antony Beevor, Simon Montefiore, Richard Overy and Chris Bellamy who have reaped a rich harvest from them. Apparently, they are now virtually closed once more. Despite this fresh crop of important researchers, John Erickson’s twin volumes The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin are often still regarded as the classic works. Interestingly enough, Bellamy was a PhD student of Erickson, though the dominant figure in his researches appears to be David Glantz. The direction of this new research has to some degree resulted in making the world’s greatest battlefield even bloodier than before. The estimate of Russian casualties has now risen to 27 million. The positive effect of huge American supplies of equipment particularly trucks and tyres, is now more openly acknowledged. On the other hand Bellamy seeks to puncture some myths such as the rumour – spread by Khrushchev – that Stalin collapsed when the invasion first occurred. Further, the radical views of Major Suvorov that Russia planned to attack Germany in July 1941 are regarded as unproven by Bellamy and outrightly dismissed by Erickson. However, Bellamy, to some degree, reverses his attitude by saying that Stalin never trusted Hitler and was planning to invade Russia in 1942. Though Stalingrad is rightly regarded as the first major battle lost by Germany, in a sense their defeat began early as December 1941 when they failed to take Moscow. Russian success in pushing back the Germans was due partly to the ferocious cold and was also bolstered by the launch of the new T-34 tank with its wide tank tracks that enabled it to traverse snow drifts that stopped German tanks. No matter how many accounts I’ve read about 90 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
Stalingrad, the story of how General Chuikov held off Paulus’s Sixth Army never fails to enthrall. The fighting was so fierce that the Railway Station changed hands five times in a single day and it was at Stalingrad that the terrifying salvos of katyusha rockets became legendary. Bellamy notes that Chuikov, as tough as they come, was to prove an unlikely feminist in that he made the point in his 1968 memoir that the women fought just as bravely as the men. The Po-2 biplanes were wooden tinderboxes with no defensive armament so the women pilots would cut the engines, glide in freefall, drop their bombs then restart their engines. The planes made a whooshing sound so the Germans dubbed these intrepid pilots night witches. Then there was the legend of the snipers. Some of it, alas, was legend. The heroic story of the Zaytsev-Konig duel recently filmed in Enemy at the Gates appears – how sad! – to be untrue However, women snipers such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko is still credited with 309 kills. I personally doubt this extraordinary total. Women it was said, endured the cold better and were more patient in waiting for a kill shot. Another “myth” to be vanquished by Bellamy (much as I dislike the idea) is that the famous Prokhorovka tank battle was the largest in history. Bellamy argues that the number of tanks was not 1300 as claimed but more like 850 and therefore there were at least ten other tank battles of equal size. I was greatly impressed with Bellamy’s massive one volume history of Soviet Russia in the Second World War. Nonetheless, one Russian blogger called Kunikov has criticised Bellamy for a number of errors, some minor, some major. Kluge hands control of the Army Group Centre to himself (!) whereas it should have been to von Bock. More seriously Manstein’s Winter Storm Operation to free Paulus’s army is attributed to Guderian. Curiously, Bellamy does not list such a prominent historian as Overy in his bibliography and draws most heavily on that leading authority of the titanic conflict, David Glantz. This helps to place Bellamy’s book on a firm base despite occasional errors. GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ By Gerald Martin Bloomsbury, $79.99 It seems that contemporary biographies may involve a near lifetime commitment and result in a work of several volumes. There is Michael Holroyd’s four volume biography of Shaw and Joseph Frank’s five volume biography of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, twenty five years in the writing. And now we have Gerald Martin’s biography of Marquez – commonly regarded as the world’s greatest living writer – which took a respectable 17 years but is a mere 664 pages. Why so short? But wait! In a footnote, Martin says he reached 2000 pages and 6000 footnotes before deciding to publish this “pocket edition” while Marquez was still alive and able to read it. However, Martin warns us that a fuller biography will be issued in a few years time. I’m guessing this will be after Marquez’s death as he is now in his 80s and suffering from cancer. My favourite page in this warm almost hagiographic book is Page 306 where the obsessive dedication of a writer, convinced he is working on a major work and unable to stop, is outlined in terms of what it can do to family finances. His ever supportive wife Mercedes begins to pawn everything: television, fridge, radio, jewellery – though she kept her hairdryer, Gabo’s electric fire and the
Ready When You Are! IN THE TABLOID WORLD It seems enough just to go into rehab. Spend a little time and a lot of money and presto! All Fixed. IN THE REAL WORLD It’s quite different It needs a special ingredient, YOU. We need your personal commitment and motivation to make it all work.
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liquidiser for the boys’ meals. She persuaded the butcher and the landlord to allow them credit. Why? Because Marquez was writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. Was this hardship worth it? Absolutely! Marquez became a millionaire, world famous and won the Nobel Prize. Of course, it might not have turned out that way. (When his father learned he had quit law, he shouted, “You’ll wind up eating paper!”) Poverty does not guarantee success, but it is not infrequent with literary writers. Marquez of course had been a professional journalist but quit to write his magnum opus. (The reviewer has lived in relative poverty to write but has yet to become a millionaire, world famous, or win the Nobel Prize. Nor have I ever got credit from my butcher.) Like many a writer, Marquez had some early good luck – he secured a column in a newspaper when he was young and inexperienced. What was surprising was he was hired on the basis of a talent revealed in a few short stories and not his non existent journalism. He quickly acquired a reputation for political controversy. His involvement with politics was to last most of his lifetime though at times he pulled back from it. Martin notes that while Marquez has long been fascinated by power, power has in turn become fascinated by him – he numbers among his friends, rulers, monarchs and presidents. And this was an author who was once a communist. The influences of Kafka (“That’s the way my grandmother talked.”), Borges, Hemingway and Faulkner are all duly acknowledged. Martin finds in Marquez’s work the themes of the twin, the double, identity, and the mirror. Not to mention time, space, matter, spirit, idea, life, death, burial, corruption, metamorphosis and indeed incest, family fights, unlikely weddings, multiple children and the horrible machine gun massacre in his home town of Aracataca that helped inspire his greatest novel. Martin’s claim for Marquez’s genius as a writer are grand but I believe very probably true – though a separate book of literary criticism would be required to demonstrate that Marquez has fused the history of his entire family with the history of Latin America, that he has united all his forebears such as Borges, Asturias, Carpentier, and Rulfo with the Bible, Rabelais not to mention Defoe, Woolf, Faulkner and Hemingway. Certainly there is no other writer of our time for whom such a grandiose claim could be made. In the Spanish-speaking world to which he belongs, Marquez is widely considered to be the most important writer since Cervantes. His fame and influence far exceeds that of his gifted contemporaries such as Julio Cortezar, Carlos Fuentes, or Mario Vargos Llosa who were acclaimed as the central figures of the 60s Latin American Boom, as it came to be called. Let it be noted that Llosa once notoriously punched Marquez to the ground for allegedly advising his wife to instigate divorce proceedings. Martin says several different versions of the incident exist just as different accounts of the famous story of how Marquez decided to tun back from a motorcar holiday begin his great Solitude novel. I prefer the usual version – no revisions please! Though I am a big admirer of Marquez, some of the extracts proffered by Martin, one in particular from No One Writes to the Colonel, claimed to be among the most perfect in all literature, didn’t have quite that impact on this reader. Marquez’s virtuoso but rather ornate style needs to be read at full length for its greatness to be fully appreciated. The future and fuller biography may, in the manner of recent large biographies, examine Marquez’s complex work in greater depth. Meanwhile, we have this warmly documented account of a fully lived life to relish.
see life / music
Home of the brave Chris Philpott finds an NZ band deserving of accolades Midnight Youth The Brave Don’t Run When it comes to over-played pop music you can hear on every station from Kaitaia to Invercargill, the general rule of thumb is that it isn’t usually lifted from a great album. Consider the number of same-sounding singles from the likes of Britney Spears or Rihanna. Nevertheless, despite cracking the national airplay chart with 2 singles from their debut album The Brave Don’t Run, Kiwi rockers Midnight Youth have managed to create an album that attempts to be unique and refreshing – and more often than not, it succeeds. While singles “All On Our Own” and “The Letter” are the anthems on this record, the tracks between establish the group as a creative force. Opener “Cavalry” is a catchy rocker sure to lighten up any party, while “Dead Flowers” is a pop masterpiece, reminiscent of local heroes like Evermore or Eskimo Joe. Later on, Mexican-tinged rocker “Tijuana” shows the groups willingness to try new things with their music, and perhaps reveals the only real problem with the album: The Brave Don’t Run ultimately comes across disjointed. Despite this minor weakness, Midnight Youth have released a solid, at times brilliant, debut effort, proving themselves worthy of all the radio time they are given. Neil Young Fork In The Road It’s with some trepidation that I approach new studio albums from established legends. I felt that way when I checked out the latest album from Neil Diamond (Investigate Magazine, July 2008) and I felt it again right before the opening chords of Fork in the Road, the latest from the other great “Neil”, Neil Young. Truth be told, you never know ahead of time if you’re getting classic Neil Young – the guy who wrote “Heart of Gold”, 92 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
“Old Man”, “The Needle and the Damage Done” – or the more recent Neil Young, who has failed to really capture his success of the 1970s. Surprisingly, the album kind of straddles both extremes – you have your sing-alongs like “Just Singing a Song”, but the more anthemic tracks are countered by would-be political tracks that aren’t strong enough to hit home the way they should. But while the songs themselves aren’t particularly strong, the album does manage to capture the feel and passion of Neil’s live show, which I managed to catch at this years’ Big Day Out festival – and I can tell you that between the familiar vocal and guitar work, Fork in the Road is almost throwback Neil Young. Maybe that’s enough of a compromise. Ben Harper & Relentless7 White Lies For Dark Times Ben Harper has spent much of his 18 year career proving that he simply cannot be contained. From acoustic folk work like The Will to Live, to the reggae feel on Fight For Your Mind, to the straight rocking singles on Both Side of the Gun, to gospel work with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Harper has managed to dabble in almost everything except gangster rap. Don’t laugh – he might try that sometime too. Harper manages to tick off another style by forming Relentless7, a southern-rock band founded with Texas musician Jason Mozersky, and releasing his heaviest rocking album to date, White Lies for Dark Times. From the first few bars of opener “Number With No Name” it’s clear what you’re in for, with the southern sound of slide guitar dribbling over the top of a funky bass-line and grungy blues guitar, before giving way to Harper’s familiar vocal over a catchy chorus. In fact, it’s not too different from earlier work by current stars Kings of Leon. “Up To You Now”, “Why Must You Always Dress In Black” and first single “Shimmer & Shine” are all highlights on this great album from a proven talent, operating at the peak of his powers.
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see life / movies
Kiwi actor shines in Star Trek The new Star Trek movie series puts former Shortland Streeter in role of ‘Bones’ McCoy STAR TREK Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho Directed by: J.J. Abrams Rated: M (for violence) 126 minutes You don’t expect to find much fresh air in outer space, but that’s exactly what the reboot of Star Trek brings to the musty franchise. The film finds compelling new angles on iconic science fiction characters, thanks to spot-on casting and a young, sexy “Abercrombie & Trek” vibe. Faithful to the outlines of the classic TV series yet original, this revitalized, reimagined Trek is a gift to nerds and newbies alike. It’s engagingly acted, intelligently scripted and confidently directed. Put it alongside Casino Royale and Batman Begins as a fresh start that gets almost everything right. Take the command deck of the USS Enterprise. It’s the same, yet different. Kirk, Spock, Sulu and Chekov sit in the same relation to each other on the bridge, but the controls, instruments and displays have a cool, elegant new design. Old Trek was a PC; this is definitely a Mac. The cinematography and special effects have evolved. Space scenes feature lens flares and nebulas that look stunningly authentic, and the gorgeous landscapes on rocky Vulcan and a remote ice planet would be at home in a coffee-table book. The first mission of the Enterprise is to neutralize a time-travelling Romulan craft boasting unheard-of weaponry. That’s the basic setup of every Star Trek movie, and it’s the film’s weakest 94 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
link. Eric Bana is all right as the villainous Nero, who has his reasons. And there are nods to contemporary geopolitics that will please Battlestar Galactica fans. But the spectacular space battles are beside the point. This is really the story of how the Enterprise crew meets, hammers out its differences and becomes a team, and the telling is pure bliss. After a scene-setting space battle that opens the story at warp speed, we meet young Kirk, a juvenile delinquent before he enters his teens. He’s joyriding in a 300-year-old Corvette, blasting the Beastie Boys, anachronisms that make him easy to relate to. Chris Pine’s Kirk contrasts nicely with the original. He’s a hellion and a cock-of-the-walk wiseguy who joins the service as an alternative to doing jail time. He grows in the discipline of the Starfleet Academy, but he’s still too impulsive to make the grade as a space officer. It takes real skullduggery to get him aboard the Enterprise. He starts out with more than a dash of Futurama’s chauvinist, swashbuckling Zapp Brannigan, matures in a crisis and becomes an inspiring leader. The script is ingenious in setting hurdles for the characters and then leaping them. It’s delightful how deftly the film touches on and twists the standard ingredients of Trek lore, how it uses our familiarity for surprises and graceful storytelling shorthand. You will appreciate it if you are a casual fan, and the more Trek lore you know, the more your admiration will grow. Yes, the red-suited member of the landing party is a goner, but never has his demise been so swift and darkly funny. Of course young Spock’s logical Vulcan side and his human emotions are at war, but Zachary Quinto’s tilt is far warmer than Leonard Nimoy’s. Uhuru (Zoe Saldana) develops a romantic attachment to a shipmate,
“Who suspected that New Zealander Karl Urban, a specialist in dark drama, would make such a delightfully grumpy “Bones” McCoy? How can you hear him call Spock a “green-blooded hobgoblin” and not smile? but not the one you expected. Before you accuse the filmmakers of rewriting history, understand they anticipated your objections and used a classic science fiction idea to answer them. With the exception of Winona Ryder, wooden and unpersuasively aged as Spock’s human mother, the cast is flawless. Simon Pegg is a superb Scotty, the kind of gregarious bloke you’d hope to sit next to in a pub, but that’s no surprise. Who suspected that New Zealander Karl Urban, a specialist in dark drama, would make such a delightfully grumpy “Bones” McCoy? How can you hear
him call Spock a “green-blooded hobgoblin” and not smile? John Cho’s Sulu, Bruce Greenwood’s Pike, Anton Yelchin’s Chekov – all honour the characters’ creators but lift the roles to a new level. The quality that has kept audiences revisiting Gene Roddenberry’s universe for more than 40 years is the camaraderie between his characters, and this crew has it in spades. When the film ends, you miss them. After this exhilarating new start, Trek is guaranteed to live long and prosper. Reviewed by Colin Covert ACE INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009 95
see life / dvds Epics don’t look the way they used to, largely thanks to the digitization of things that used to be filmed the old-fashioned way – air raids and stampedes, for instance. But Australia has the best special effects of all – Australia itself, and Jackman, native son. If you’re saying lines like this, it doesn’t hurt to do them with that withering Wolverine scowl: “I mix with dingoes, not duchesses.” YES MAN Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Terence Stamp, John Michael Higgins Directed by: Peyton Reed Rated: M (for offensive language and sexual references) 104 minutes
The lucky country Australia worth watching despite carping critics AUSTRALIA Starring: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman Directed by: Baz Luhrmann Rated: M (for violence and offensive language) 160 minutes Director Baz Luhrmann’s dream project, years in the making, is a memory of his native land during World War II. An Aboriginal boy narrates the tale and shows us a hard land that hardened the people, the war “Down Under” and the racism Aborigines faced. Luhrmann tells of a love between a grizzled cattle “drover” and the tougher-than-she-looks British aristocrat who takes over her late husband’s ranch and helps the drover drive her cattle to market for the war effort. It’s 1939, the British Commonwealth is going to war and Lady Sarah Ashley has trekked to Australia to fetch her husband. He’s dead, and in an instant she finds herself in the middle of a second war, a cattle war. Bryan Brown is the cattle baron who wants to corner the market on meat for the military. Lady Ashley and her Faraway Downs are in the way. He has his ruthless right-hand man (David Wenham of 300). But Lady Ashley has The Drover. Jackman takes over the picture as a man’s man, master of his trade and catnip to the not-quite-grieving Lady Ashley. The cattle drive he leads has every cliche in the book – a Chinese cook, a drunken accountant (Jack Thompson), and a stampede. But they still work. Luhrmann reminds us that he did Moulin Rouge in giving this epic musical touches, and magical ones. Brandon Walters is Nullah, the “creamy” mixed-race Aboriginal boy who tells the tale, learns “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the harmonica and explains Aboriginal traditions. 96 INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM June 2009
“Yes is the new ‘no’” in Yes Man, a Jim Carrey comedy that has him covering much the same ground he did in Liar Liar. It’s an often engaging romance shot through with sweetness, a movie that hangs on a handful of simple, magical scenes. The first comes when Carl Allen, a morose divorced loner of a loan officer who has let “no” rule his life, lets himself be talked into attending a self-help seminar. In a room full of delirious “YES!” shouting cultists, Carl is confronted by The Yes Man himself, Terrence Bundley. The great Terence Stamp – and his menacing, owlish eyes of many a movie villain – hurls himself at Carl, urging/ ordering him to “embrace the possible. Say ‘yes’ to everything!” Carl says “yes” to giving a bum a lift. He lets the guy use his phone (John Michael Higgins is the yes “sponsor” who nags Carl into this). That leads to running out of gas with a dead phone and a sparks-flying first meeting with Allison, a real free spirit played by Zooey Deschanel. Phony free-spirit Carl signs up for guitar lessons and Korean language classes. He responds to spam from Persianwifefinder.com. He says “yes” to a Harry Potter theme party thrown by his needy, nerdy boss (Rhys Darby). And he approves loans, every harebrained business or personal loan pitch that crosses his desk. Everything Carl embraces pays personal dividends. Well, almost everything. And every time he says “no” the karma goes bad. Deschanel, she of the quirky timing and quirkier bangs, is perfectly cast as a scooter-driving flake who fronts a band named Munchausen by Proxy and leads a jogging photography club (they shoot pictures while they run). She gives the movie a shot at being as romantic as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It isn’t, sadly. Yes Man attempts to update the 46-year-old comic genius for a ruder, cruder Judd Apatow-Frat Pack comedy universe. The film surrounds him with less funny “pals” (Bradley Cooper of Wedding Crashers and Danny Masterson of That 70s Show), injects one funny but off-key sex-with-the-elderly joke and tries to make Carrey, a brilliant soloist, an ensemble player. It’s the soloist who delivers the third magical moment here, as Carl uses his guitar lessons to sing a suicidal man (Luis Guzman) off a ledge. Carrey’s comedy is aggressive but sweet. The Apatow style is crude with a hint of sweet. They don’t quite mesh. The script caves in on itself when the multiple writers (one an Apatow alum) conjure up artificial obstacles to the romance and the pitfalls of living your life through self-help slogans. And there aren’t enough Bruce Almighty/Liar Liar Carrey set-pieces to give this the zing of those, his last wholly formed comedies. Reviewed by Roger Moore