Prodigal Jim at Labour conf.
Why marriage matters
Hermaphrodite or victim?
Ferns video nightmare
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ISSN 1172-4153 | Volume 2 | Issue 45 |
| 11 September 2009
WSD group back under investigation By Ian Wishart TGIF newsroom
INSIDE NZPA/Ross Setford
AUCKLAND - The financial services group at the centre of a TGIF investigation earlier this year is under fresh scrutiny tonight over its business dealings. WSD, based in Auckland, has reportedly been kicked out of Thailand by government agencies for trading without a proper license.. “SEC files criminal complaint against unlicensed derivatives business operators,”begins a Thai government news release. “The SEC together with the Economic and Cyber-Crime Division (ECOTEC) of the Royal Thai Police today conducted raids on the premises of five companies after having received information that they have solicited the public into making investment in futures contracts, falsely representing themselves as branch offices of brokerage houses in Hong Kong and New Zealand. “These companies are: (1) Wang Lee Global Market Co., Ltd., (2) Glory Prosperity (Thailand) Co., Ltd., (3) World Trading Prosperity Co., Ltd., (4) WSD International (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and (5) WSD Financial (NZ) Ltd.“ According to the release, it’s not a pretty sight: “Based on the documents and evidence found at the sites, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the companies have solicited the public to invest in futures contracts with crude oil, gold and foreign exchange rates as underlying products and have obtained benefits from trading fees.” Meanwhile,, documents have emerged showing depositors in a defunct tax haven bank have been offered shares in WSD’s NZ operations, despite previous claims by WSD chairman Matt Robson that there was little connection between the NZ company and the tax haven bank,. The offer was made by WSD’s managing director Riaz Patel.
New data emerges Page 3
FAST PIGEON faster than broadband Page 2
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key speaks to firefighters protesting against stalled pay negotiations at the official opening of Mount Roskill Fire Station, Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, September 11, 2009. NZPA / David Rowland
Arrest over Key firebomb WELLINGTON, SEPT 11 NZPA - Police say they have arrested and charged a man with arson following the fire at Prime Minister John Key’s Auckland electorate office. The 31-year-old man was also charged with another arson at the Helensville Rugby Club rooms and would appear in the Waitakere District Court tomorrow, said Waitakere police Area Commander Janet Hope.
A small fire broke out when an object was thrown into a room at the Prime Minister’s electorate office in Main Rd, Kumeu, about 3am yesterday. No one was in the building when it was attacked.Two fire appliances attended and those firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it got out of the room.
LOVE ME DO? Beatles re-released Page 14
‘We might have got it wrong’ sniffs Labour By Peter Wilson of NZPA
ROTORUA, SEPT 11 NZPA - The Labour Party’s new president Andrew Little opened the party’s annual conference in Rotorua tonight by telling delegates“we might have got it wrong”. The union leader praised the previous Labour government for its achievements and spoke about the party’s principles but said last year’s election
defeat was a debate that could not be avoided. “As we reflect on this party’s contribution to this great country throughout its many governments, let’s also be bold enough to reflect on where, even in our most recent time in office, we might have got it wrong,”he said. “We might ask ourselves if sometimes in the last nine years we got the priorities wrong; whether we gave as much attention to those things that lift
standards of living, that sustain productive businesses -- rather than speculative ones -- and give economic security.” Mr Little asked delegates to acknowledge that Labour in the last election“could have done better in some respects, that we could have acted differently”. He did not list any campaign mistakes, but said the previous government’s foreshore and seabed legislation was “the wrong thing”because it deprived
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Maori of the right to test their claim in court. Party leader Phil Goff has also acknowledged mistakes, soon after he became leader after the election, when he said Labour had been out of touch with some of the concerns held by voters and had been distracted by issues which should not have been priorities. Tonight Mr Little, who replaced Mike Williams Continued on P2
PIGEON FASTER THAN BROADBAND DURBAN, South Africa, Sept. 11 (UPI) -A South African company says it found a carrier pigeon carried data faster than its Internet service. The South African newspaper Beeld said staff at Unlimited IT in Durban, frustrated with the speed of its ADSL service provided by Telkom, set out to see if an 11-month-old pigeon named Winston could get a 4GB memory stick 60 miles away faster than it would take to have the same amount of data transmitted via broadband, the BBC reported today. It took Winston 1 hour, 8 minutes to fly from Unlimited IT’s call center in Howick to its office in Durham. It took another hour to upload the information on the memory stick. In the same time, only 4 percent of the data had been sent through the ADSL connection. Telkom said it was not responsible for the Durban firm’s slow Internet speeds. Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted, Telkom’s Troy Hector told the South African Press Association in an e-mail. At last report, Winston was basking in the glory of his victory. WORLD’S OLDEST DOG? SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND, SEP. 11 (UPI) – A British man said Guinness World Records is investigating whether his dachshund, age 20 years and six months, is the world’s oldest dog. Peter Jones, 68, of Shrewsbury, England, said he believes the dachshund, Otto, is the world’s oldest living dog after the death of a 21-year-old dachshund in the United States, the Daily Mail reported today. “When I saw this dog had died and he was the oldest in the world, I thought Otto must be getting on to being the oldest as well,” Jones said of the canine, who has reached 147 in dog years. “I thought it would be good to see if Otto is the oldest. My vet said to me that they hadn’t got any older dogs going to see them. “He will follow me wherever I go and doesn’t go running off. If I go out, I come back and he’s sat by the door waiting. He’s got a bit of arthritis but apart from that, he’s quite well. Jones said he has submitted a certificate proving Otto’s age to Guinness World Records. BOTTLE MESSAGE FOUND AFTER 5 YEARS GOONHAVERN, ENGLAND, SEPT. 10 (UPI) -- A British man who discovered a message in a bottle on a beach said he tracked down the U.S. teenager who dropped it from a cruise ship five years ago. Tony Hoskings, a retired electrician, said he found the bottle in July while walking his dog in Goonhavern and discovered a message inside from cruise ship passenger Daniel Knopp, the Daily Mail reported today. “I noticed paper and could just see that it said Grandeur of the Seas, which I recognized as a cruise ship belonging to the company that my wife and I took a cruise with on their liner Song of America,” Hoskings said. The message, which bore the date June 21, 2004, reads: “Hello, my name is Daniel Knopp. I am on a cruise ship. I hope whoever reads this finds great joy. God bless.” The note also identified Knopp’s home as Baltimore, Md. Hoskings said his local paper, The West Briton, contacted the Baltimore Sun for help in locating Knopp. He was found after a seven-week search and discovered to be a 19-yearold political science student at the University of Maryland. “I was 14 when I threw the message off the ship in Freeport, in the Bahamas,” Knopp said. “I thought it would be unreal if it were ever to be found, and I figured it would be destroyed by the ocean environment.
11 September 2009
Kiwi dollar skyrockets up WELLINGTON, SEPT 11 NZPA - The rise and rise of the NZ dollar continued today. It climbed above US70c just before 5am and rose through the day to be worth US70.40c at 5pm. It hit a new one-year high and at the end of the day, was still rising, hitting US70.52 a few minutes after 5pm, despite Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard’s clear concerns about the dollar’s relentless rise, The ascent of the kiwi came amid improving risk appetite as world stock and commodity prices rose, and as the US greenback fell to its lowest level in nearly a year against a basket of major currencies. Announcing yesterday that the official cash rate was remaining at the record low 2.5 percent, Dr Bollard said the sustainability of the present “patchy”recovery would be brought into question if the exchange rate were to continue its recent rise. Today BNZ analyst Danica Hampton said that “huffing and puffing”would not be enough to talk
down the NZ dollar exchange rates. If the trade weighted index (TWI) -- which climbed to 64.21 points today -- continued to appreciate over the coming months to around 70 points she expected the Reserve Bank to again start adding to foreign reserves. Last summer, over November to February, it bought about $1.2 billion of the NZ dollar. But Ms Hampton noted the TWI was still 20 percent below its 77.25 peak in mid-2007, and said that though the Reserve Bank was uncomfortable with the strength of the economy, it“appears almost resigned to the fact that there is relatively little it can do about it”. The ANZ bank said it shared Dr Bollard’s concerns about the sustainability of any recovery and the need for the economy to rebalance. The kiwi looked like it had the momentum to push higher,ANZ said. “At present, markets are ignoring NZ’s domestic
economic fundamentals and trading is driven more by risk appetites and hopes of reflation. “Something will have to give eventually. But knowing when and what the catalyst will be is incredibly difficult.” The NZ dollar was still at A81.46c against the Australian dollar at 5pm -- on a par with its 8am rate -- from A81.11c at 5pm yesterday. It fell slightly to 0.4820 euro from 0.4823 earlier in the day, and to 64.29 Japanese yen from 64.50 over the same period.The trade weighted index was 64.24 at 8am and 64.21 at 5pm. BUY SELL Australia.......... 0.8225 0.8040 Canada.......... 0.7658 0.7445 Euro.............. 0.4887 0.4727 Great Britain. 0.4265 0.4147 Japan........... 65.19 63.01 United States 0.7127 0.6938 NZPA WGT hsp
Eight hurt in Nelson crash tonight WELLINGTON, SEPT 11 NZPA - Eight people have been injured after their 4WD ran off the road and rolled into a ditch near Nelson tonight. The family group was heading to Blenheim when the accident happened just after 6pm on the Gentle Annie hill on State Highway 6, about 13km northeast of Nelson, said St John Ambulance spokesman
Ian Henderson. One male and one female suffered serious injuries, two girls, two women in their 20s and one man in his 20s suffered moderate injuries, while another girl suffered minor injuries. All eight were taken by road to Nelson Hospital. Nelson Fire Service station officer Grahame
Kurth told NZPA firefighters found the vehicle upside down in a ditch about 5m from teh road. All eight people were out of the vehicle and had suffered a range of injuries. The accident happened on a 100kmh stretch of road and the people were“very lucky”, he said.
as president earlier this year, said Mr Goff was the only MP in the Labour caucus who could take the party to victory. Looking to the future, Mr Little said political parties around the world were looking for alternatives to the “madness”of the last 30 years. “The idea that banks and finance houses will act in the public interest has been shown up for the fantasy it was,”he said. “The idea that taking rights and conditions off working people will help the economy, and conversely that shoring up rights and improving incomes will wreck it, has been exposed for the contempt that underpins it.” Mr Little criticised the policies of the present government, saying it did not stand for all the people. “All of this gives us the opportunity to start afresh, to look at the next generation of ideas and to reassert our principles and our values,”he said. The conference will spend most of tomorrow dis-
cussing policy and on Sunday Mr Goff will give his keynote speech. He is expected to set a new agenda for Labour and stamp his style of leadership on the party.
Labour Party president Andrew Little with leader Phil Goff. Little says Labour ‘might’ have been too nanny state. PHOTO: NZPA Back to the front page
Prodigal Jim returns to Labour conf. ROTORUA, SEPT 11 NZPA - Jim Anderton has made his first appearance at a Labour party conference since he split with the party over policy direction in the 1980s. In a speech to Labour’s conference in Rotorua, Progressive party leader Mr Anderton pledged his
party’s support for Labour saying the two parties shared common values and goals. Mr Anderton backed Phil Goff as Labour leader and said with organisation and recruitment Labour could win the 2011 election. He believed the electorate had not rejected the last Labour g ov e r n m e n t because of its values. “ T h e y rejected us because they believed we had moved onto other priorities. They tired of controversies, mini-scandals and mistakes we should not have made,” Mr Anderton said. The former
Labour party president and MP currently leads the Progressive party and is it sole MP. Mr Anderton left Labour over the party’s economic policy under David Lange and Roger Douglas. It was a turbulent split, which tore the Labour party apart and Mr Anderton opened his speech today with a joke. “Its been 21 years since I last spoke at a Labour Party conference. Did anything happen while I was away?” After leaving Labour, Mr Anderton formed New Labour which later become part of the Alliance. When the Alliance splintered over the 2002 invasion of Afghanistan, Mr Anderton formed the Progressive party and he continued to sit in the Labour Cabinet. The party has always been close to Labour -- Mr Anderton shares office space with his old party, and Progressive party members were recently allowed to hold dual Labour party membership. The party is expected to be wound up when Mr Anderton retires, probably at the 2011 election.
11 September 2009
NZ eagle ruled the skies, then did a dodo WELLINGTON, SEPT 11 NZPA - A new study shows that New Zealand’s giant -- and now extinct -- Haast’s eagle ruled the skies until 500 years ago, swooping down on moa. Scientists have known about the existence of Haast’s eagle since 1871 based on excavated bones, including bones carved by early Maori, but their behaviour was not entirely clear. Because of their large size -- they weighed up to 18kg with wingspans up to 3m -- some scientists believed they were scavengers rather than predators. Earlier research has indicated the eagle had enough strength in its talons to kill a moa weighing 180kg, attacking at up to 80kmh, or even to attack a human child. The latest study throwing new light on this was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Researchers Dr Paul Scofield,curator of vertebrates
at the Canterbury Museum,and Professor Ken Ashwell of the University of New SouthWales used computerised CT and CAT scans to reconstruct the size of the brain, eyes, ears and spinal cord of the Haast’s eagle. These details were compared to values from modern predatory and scavenging birds to determine the habits of the extinct eagle. “This work is a great example of how rapidly evolving medical techniques and equipment can be used to solve ancient mysteries,”said Dr Ashwell. But the latest study showed that not only was Haast’s eagle a fearsome predator that probably swooped on its prey from a high perch, it also it evolved over a relatively short period of time from a much smaller-bodied ancestor. This is similar to findings by Michael Bunce, of Oxford University, in 2005, which showed it underwent a rapid evolutionary transformation and was
originally related to some of the world’s smallest eagle species two million years earlier. It is the only eagle known to have been the top predator in an ecosystem on land. The eagles are thought to have struck their prey from the side, tearing into the pelvic flesh and gripping the bone with claws the size of a tiger’s paw, so that the moa could be killed by a single strike to the head or neck from the eagle’s other claw. The new research is also an example of how the oral traditions of ancient peoples and scientific research can sometimes reach the same conclusion,
said Dr Scofield, the lead author on the project. “This science supports Maori mythology of the legendary pouakai or hokioi, a huge bird that could swoop down on people in the mountains and was capable of killing a small child,”he said. Haast’s eagle became extinct a mere 500 years ago, probably due to habitat destruction and the extinction of moa by early Maori, who are thought to have arrived in New Zealand, about 1280. Dr Scofield has previously said that people living on the Wairau Bar around 1300AD co-existed with the eagle.
Warehouse reaches end of tunnel Wellington, Sept 11 NZPA - Having made it through the year of recession in good enough shape to pay a special dividend, retailer The Warehouse is now pushing ahead with expansion plans and proposals to earn more from its existing stores. The company today reported a 15.4 percent fall in full year net profit to $76.8 million, affected by a $7.4m post tax charge relating to the company’s exit from fresh food and liquor. Net profit excluding unusual items for the 53 weeks to August 2 was up 5.3 percent from the previous year to $85.2m. For the second half net profit excluding unusual items rose 17.8 percent to $28.4m. Group sales for the year slipped 0.8 percent to $1.72 billion. A final dividend of 5.5c per share is to be paid, bringing the total ordinary dividend for the year to 21cps, unchanged from last year.A special dividend of 10cps was also declared. In July the company opened the first of its new style Warehouse Local stores in Mosgiel, and today it said it was planning between $65m and $85m on capital spending in the present year. The amount spent would be influenced by property development initiatives now being considered. Chief financial officer Luke Bunt said The Warehouse was now being proactive in looking to identify land suitable for development of small box and big box stores. Sites throughout the country believed to be suitable for Local format stores had been identified and negotiations were under way with the owners. Five to seven sites had been identified where Local format stores could be established in the next three years. Group chief executive officer Ian Morrice said some Local format stores would be aimed at local catchments outside major centres, such as Mosgiel. Others would be fill-in stores in Auckland, in particular, where the company had relatively less space than elsewhere. A store in Auckland to test that approach was being built. While the number of completely new big box
stores to be opened in the next few years would be relatively limited, the total number of such stores could rise to 90 from the 85 now. The company was also reprioritising how it used space to generate higher sales and gross margins per square metre, Mr Morrice said. It had become clear the company’s 17 largest stores, of more than 6500sq m, were a significant opportunity for The Warehouse. It was looking at putting the Extra name on those 17 stores, even though it had pulled back from the sale of fresh and frozen food and liquor that had been offered in the first three Extra stores. Already extra products and services were being put into the largest stores, and that would continue during the next two to three years, Mr Morrice said. He was confident the company could drive up its profit per sq m in the very large stores. “We’ve got a clear catchment-based organic growth plan going forward. We’re back into space growth, albeit modest, but we’re also very clear about how we’re going to fully leverage our existing footprint, and we see plenty of opportunity there,”he said. Nick Dravitzki of New Zealand Funds Management said the real attraction of The Warehouse was that it had stopped being something it was not. “It’s not an Australian bargain business and it’s not a supermarket.It is a retailer of general merchandise and a giant in the New Zealand market,”he said. “It has stores in every sizeable centre in the country and has the scale to ensure it is the lowest cost provider of almost anything it stocks.” Its market share and scale enabled The Warehouse to generate market leading margins and excellent earnings, Mr Dravitzki said. Now that it appeared to be focused on its core business, it offered the prospect of being able to turn its advantages into highly defensible, ongoing incremental earnings growth. Shares in The Warehouse were up 17c, or 4.2 percent, to $4.21 around mid-afternoon. Earlier in the day the price climbed as high as $4.28, its highest level since the middle of 2008.
Duff loses, but wins Wellington, Sept 11 NZPA - A High Court judge has upheld a police appeal over a District Court’s acquittal of author Alan Duff on traffic charges, but ruled that the charges should remain dismissed. Police had laid charges after Duff drove off while an officer called police communications to check his identity against computer records,after being stopped for speeding north of Taupo in September 2007. Duff, who lives in France, was found not guilty in
Taupo District Court in June last year. Two further charges of resisting arrest were dropped with Judge Chris McGuire criticising police for laying them in the first place. He dismissed the charges of failing to stop and failing to remain stopped. Justice Paul Heath, in a decision released from Rotorua today, said an officer was empowered to require a driver to remain stopped for as long as
Food prices falling Wellington, Sept 11 NZPA - Food prices fell by 0.9 percent in August from July, the largest monthly fall in 3-1/2 years. Lower prices for grocery food, and fruit and vegetables accounted for nearly all of the drop in the food price index, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said today. In August grocery food prices fell 1.3 percent, with bread down 2.7 percent, chocolate biscuits down 6.3 percent, and cheddar cheese down 6.2 percent. Prices for cheddar cheese, milk, and butter returned to levels last seen in late 2007 or early 2008, SNZ said. Fruit and vegetable prices dropped 3.3 percent, driven by a 10 percent fall in tomato prices, a 21 percent drop for strawberries, broccoli down 21.8
was reasonably necessary to undertake a query on any issues relevant to enforcement powers or duties under the Transport Act. He found Judge McGuire erred in his interpretation of the law, but he was not prepared to interfere with the judge’s decision to dismiss the charges. “In the exercise of my discretion, I do not order a rehearing of the informations,”he said. The facts of the case did not justify another hearing and there was no clear evidence on the extent of inquiries undertaken by the arresting constable, he said.
percent, and avocados down 25 percent. For the year to August, food prices rose 4.6 percent, the smallest annual increase since January 2008. Four subgroups recorded increases for the year, with grocery food up 4.4 percent, meat, poultry and fish up 9.2 percent, non-alcoholic beverages up 7.9 percent, and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food up 3.7 percent. The fruit and vegetables subgroup fell 1.1 percent in the year to August 2009, the first annual fall since February 2008, SNZ said. The most significant downward contribution came from a 15.9 percent fall in the price of lettuce, which was particularly high in August 2008 due to unusually wet weather.
11 September 2009
Family Matters By Bob McCoskrie
Petition to fight ETS scheme: sign it You may think I’m hammering global warming, but there’s a very good reason - come 2012, it’s going to be costing you a fortune each year, and with no proven bang for your buck. It would be all very well to fork out $7,000 a year after tax per household if you knew the money was actually going to reduce world temperatures and save the polar bears. But when you hear it will only reduce world temps by 0.07C by 2050, one seriously has to ask what the agenda of the global warming supporters really is. To that end, as if on cue, the United Nations again signalled this week it is nursing serious fantasies about becoming a world government, by declaring it wants to see a new world currency introduced to replace the US dollar.This new currency would be under UN control - no surprises there. This comes just a week after a key UN report
announced it wants western taxpayers - that’s you and me - to hand over up to US$1.2 trillion a year to third world governments to help them match western living standards and combat climate change.. On a rough calculation, that’s about another NZ$1,500 in taxes per person per year, over and above the $1,400 a year already signalled by National. Still getting warm fuzzies over Robyn Malcolm’s Greenpeace commercials and Lucy Lawless’insistence that “there is no planet B”? To combat this UN propaganda, an enterprising group from Gisborne has launched a nationwide petition, with its question officially approved by parliament, urging the Government to drop its Emissions Trading Scheme. This is not a referendum. It’s a petition. A show of strength from the voting public would go a long
-Govt should ‘get over it’ and promote marriage
way towards sending a direct message to Prime Minister John Key - who’s already licking his political wounds over the smacking issue. Petition forms can be downloaded from the website www.climaterealists.org.nz’ We strongly recommend you do so this weekend, sign up your friends and workmates, and send the petition forms back by November 6. In the meantime, you can also have a read of the new free climate magazine, Climate Reality, which has launched this weekend.. Download the PDF or register for free at Issuu as a subscriber to the free Flash version, and let your friends know. People ask,‘What can I do?’- well, there’s a couple of options already.
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Was Green Red? By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large
WASHINGTON, SEPT. 9 (UPI) -- From the right, Green Jobs Czar Van Jones was pro-communist and a race-baiting no-goodnik. From the left, he was an exceptional, inspired leader, just in from a little sprint on the Sea of Galilee. Such was the great divide in an age of political cliches. But where left and right agreed, Jones had committed the unpardonable by signing a tract that peddled the idea the Bush administration knew in advance about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and did nothing to stop them. So he had to go. But on the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11,Van Jones was hardly alone. Wikipedia has 27 pages on conspiracy theories, now believed by a third of Americans, according to polls. President Bush 43 and his wicked guru Dick Cheney, runs one favorite conspiracy track, cooked up Sept. 11 as a pretext to go to war in the Middle East. A Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll showed 36 percent saying it is very likely or somewhat likely that federal officials participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East. Conspiracy theories abounded in France, which took the lead in attacking George Bush. But these were largely ignored as the United States launched a punitive invasion of Afghanistan. The theories broke down into two large camps: -- LIHOP (let it happen on purpose) was proselytized by suggesting that key figures in the government had some foreknowledge of the attacks but deliberately ignored them. Some even suggested the government knew about the conspiracy and made sure the hijacked aircraft were not intercepted. -- MIHOP (made it happen on purpose) held that key government officials planned the attacks and then collaborated with, or framed, al-Qaida in the execution. A member of Tony Blair’s Cabinet until June 2003, Environment Minister Michael Meacher claimed to know the United States knowingly failed to prevent the attacks. Another ranking Brit said the entire Sept. 11 Commission Report is constructed in support of one big lie -- that the official story about 9/11 is true. Sixteen percent of Americans thought secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets, were the real reason the Twin Towers collapsed like a house of cards.Twelve percent thought cruise missiles, not a passenger jet carrying terrorists, had struck the Pentagon. Most opined that the Bush administration, backed up by palpably fraudulent evidence, lied about Saddam Hussein’s involvement with al-Qaida to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq
and that Sept. 11 was also a conspiracy to pave the way for the invasion of Afghanistan. Most of the conspiracy buffs were not regular mainstream newspaper readers. But they were regular Internet dwellers. One conspiracy-peddling site was getting tens of thousands of hits a day. But the disbelievers in what actually happened were clearly prone to other conspiracy theories -- e.g., 40 percent said federal officials were directly responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy and for withholding proof of the existence of intelligent life from other planets. Abroad, the skeptics and disbelievers represent still larger segments of public opinion. In Moscow, for the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11 a year ago, an Italian documentary titled Zero opened with great fanfare attended by high-ranking Russian officials. One of its authors, Giulietto Chiesa, a member of the European Parliament, said,The people who organized 9/11 knew the geopolitical and energy situation in the world very well.They knew exactly how the attack will change the future of the world.And they, of course, was the U.S. government, not al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden. In fact, the documentary raises doubts, not only about bin Laden’s involvement in the attacks, but it also questions the very existence of al-Qaida.And all this despite the fact that bin Laden and his deputy Ayman alZawahiri never denied their part in the planning of Sept. 11 and acknowledged the shock dealt the evil American empire. Two European books -- one in French and another in German -- each sold 1 million copies documenting the Sept. 11 conspiracy.
Hamid Gul, a former head of Pakistan’s intelligence service who hates the United States with a dark passion, was the first to launch the canard about the involvement of the U.S. Air Force in the Sept. 11 attacks. Less than one month after the attacks, he told this reporter U.S. fighters were not scrambled to allow the hijacked planes to reach their assigned targets. Informed that Pakistani journalists covering their prime minister’s visit to Washington in July 2008 believed that Sept. 11 was a Bush administration conspiracy to justify taking over Afghanistan -- nuclear Pakistan’s neighbor -- a ranking Pakistan official, raising his voice, exclaimed, But we all believe that. Clearly, he was speaking not for attribution. But the schizy paranoid reaction goes a long way to explaining the state of mind of a major non-NATO ally. Pakistan clearly needs the United States as an ally -- U.S. military and economic aid is indispensable -- but at the same time their respective objectives in Afghanistan are quite different. The United States wants to rid the country of the Taliban and its al-Qaida partner; Pakistan wants to get rid of its domestic Taliban extremists but would not be unhappy if a reformed Taliban prevailed in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s decision-makers reckon the United States and NATO are already tired of the openended Afghan conflict and sooner or later there will be a negotiated settlement with moderate elements of Taliban.This is also what Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been pushing. Perhaps to detract from what appears to be a rigged re-election?
Family First NZ is calling for a nationwide debate on promoting marriage as a result of their just-released report “21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters” which documents the psychological, social, economical and health benefits of marriage. “21 Reasons WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS” – a transtasman effort to highlight the benefits of marriage was commissioned by Family First NZ and FamilyLife NZ in conjunction with a number of family organisations in Australia including the Australian Family Association, Family Voice Australia and Dads4Kids and is an update of the report originally released in the US in 2002. It is time that government policies and rhetoric acknowledged that there is a difference in terms of outcomes between marriage and other forms of relationship. Family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates are seldom considered in debate on social policy issues, such as poverty among families with children. A recent 70-page report issued by the Children’s Commissioner and Barnardos contained no reference to marriage or divorce, despite the rate of poverty being five times higher for sole parent families. Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labeled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognizing the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research. Marriage has changed a great deal, with the marriage rate at approximately 14 marriages per 1,000 married adults, less than a third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1000 recorded in 1971. It has been impacted over the past decades by an increased level and acceptance of divorce, cohabiting, and unwed childbearing. NZ has a high teenage birth rate and sole parents with dependent children made up 30 percent of families with children. Yet in virtually every category that social science has measured, children and adults do better when parents get married and stay married – provided there is no presence of high conflict or violence. The Statement of Intent just published by the Families Commission fails to mention marriage even once. Yet domestic violence and child abuse – two pet topics of the Commission - is far more prevalent in families where the biological parents are not both present and married . Family First in conjunction with the NZIER has also highlighted the ‘marriage tax’ which penalises a married couple by up to $15,000 in their household income compared with a couple who separates or divorces. Andy Bray, National Director of FamilyLife NZ, says “Despite the decline in the marriage rate, and an increase in couples choosing not to marry, statistics prove again and again that married life, while not perfect, still provides the very best environment for personal health and wealth, for raising secure responsible children, and for a more enjoyable sex life. That’s why we invest our lives into equipping people with skills to enjoy married life. We also believe it helps build a stronger nation.” Marriage is like a ‘life quality’ insurance policy for children and parents and it’s time we were honest enough to admit that. CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE http://www.nzmarriage.org.nz/ DOWNLOAD Snapshot Summary You can order copies of the report by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies cost $5 each DOWNLOAD Family First’s research from 2008 “The Value of Family (Fiscal Benefits of Marriage and Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand)” Sign Up Now to receive FREE regular updates about the issues affecting families in NZ http://www.familyfirst. org.nz/index.cfm/Sign_Up
11 September 2009
Emissions scheme would devastate US economy TO ARRIVE AT THIS NUMBER, THE CBO HAD TO IGNORE EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME LOSSES FROM CAP-ANDTRADE MEASURES - COSTS ESTIMATED TO BE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR. AFTER FIGURING THAT IN, YES, CAP-AND-TRADE WOULD COST LESS THAN A POSTAGE STAMP PER DAY, BUT ONLY IF YOU’RE BUYING A $13.05 EXPRESS MAIL STAMP DAILY
By David A. Ridenour MCT
WASHINGTON - If you worry about what Congress could do in its health-care legislation, you should be terrified by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. It’s legislation that would gut the economy and likely cost millions of Americans their medical insurance. Nearly 15 million Americans are now looking for work, bringing the official unemployment rate to 9.7 - the highest in 26 years. If the Senate passes Waxman-Markey, that rate will go much higher. Employment and access to health insurance are inextricably linked. There’s no debating a cap-and-trade system would harm the economy.The only question is how costly it would be. The Congressional Budget Office low-balled the
costs of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed by the House in June, saying it would cost just $175 per household per year. This is the “less than the price of a postage stamp per day” figure we keep hearing. But to arrive at this number, the CBO had to ignore employment and income losses from capand-trade measures - costs estimated to be thousands of dollars per household per year.After figuring that in, yes, cap-and-trade would cost less than a postage stamp per day, but only if you’re buying a $13.05 Express Mail stamp daily. The Heritage Foundation provides a more comprehensive estimate, projecting a family of four would pay an additional $4,609 per year by 2035.Annual job losses would average 1.15 million between 2012 and 2030, with job losses rising to nearly 2.5 million in 2035. Higher unemployment rates mean more unin-
sured. In 2007, employers provided health insurance for 63 percent of Americans under age 65 and paid for nearly 90 percent of all private health insurance policies. Although the newly unemployed may extend their health benefits through COBRA, many can’t afford to.According to Families USA, family health insurance premiums under COBRA equal, on average, 84 percent of unemployment benefits received. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates that for every percentage point increase of unemployment - in present terms, the loss of about 1.54 million jobs - the number of Americans without health insurance rises by 1.1 million. For illustrative purposes, using Heritage’s job loss projections and the Kaiser figures, we estimate that cap-and-trade could lead to more than 820,000 people losing their health insurance annually, on average, between 2012 and 2030, with about 1.8 million losing coverage in 2035 alone. But that’s not the half of it. The stress and loss of self-esteem that accompanies job loss can lead to unhealthy lifestyles, including substance abuse and poor eating habits. The unemployed are more likely to be diagnosed for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and because discretionary income drops with the loss of a job, so too do routine screenings that might
prevent late-stage diseases. Researchers at the University of California, University of Oxford and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found a 28 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths with a 3 percent increase in unemployment. Associate Professor Kate W. Strully of the State University of New York at Albany, in a survey of 8,000 unemployed factory workers, found unemployed workers were 83 percent more likely to develop a new health problem than were workers who kept their jobs. Ralph Catalano, director of the Robert Woods Johnson Health and Society Program at University of California at Berkeley, found a strong correlation between unemployment and low birth weight babies. Low birth weight accounts for more than 64 percent of all infant fatalities. Catalano has also found higher incidence of advanced-stage breast tumors among women dealing with unemployment. The diagnosis is clear: If we want to move the American health-care system from the intensive care unit to the recovery room, we must first send cap-and-trade to the morgue. ABOUT THE WRITER David A. Ridenour is vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank.
Britain’s Afghan rethink By Martin Walker
LONDON, SEPT. 8 (UPI) -- When a government does not know what to do on an issue of domestic policy, it sets up a committee and stages a policy review.When it is equally baffled by a matter of foreign policy, it calls for an international conference. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s limping government in Britain has now tried both of these approaches to the unpopular war in Afghanistan in the course of a single week. Five days ago, after an internal review, Brown announced that the mission was realistic and achievable. Over the weekend,after talks in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brown called for an international political conference with the new post-election Afghan government to coordinate allies and resources in support of the U.S.-led mission. Merkel and Brown, backed up by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have written to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and asked him to organize the conference. It is supposed to agree and refine a common strategy for the Afghan mission next year and to ensure our strategy is properly supported by the resources needed to deliver it. There are now 42 countries involved in the U.S.led mission and almost 90,000 troops there or scheduled to deploy, two-thirds from the United States and another 9,000 from Britain.And yet the broad feeling is in NATO circles that the allies are certainly not winning the war against the Taliban and may be losing it by losing the support of the Afghan people. (The German officer who authorized an airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers over the weekend, allegedly killing or wounding up to 90 civilians, may have a lot to answer for.) The widespread complaints of fraud in the recent Afghan election have raised the question whether
the corrupt and ineffective government of President Hamid Karzai is worth defending. British opinion polls are pretty clear that the voters think Karzai hardly deserved the effort, which has so far cost the lives of 212 British troops. The United States has lost 813 dead, Canada 124, Germany 33, France 28, Spain 25 and Denmark 24. There are also signs of a growing back-bench revolt against the war by Labor members of Parliament, who already fear defeat at the general election that must be held before June. An unpopular and possibly losing war is not the best way to claw back voter support. Brown has made two clear arguments in favor of the war, beyond the issues of supporting the U.S. ally and a fledgling democracy and building a stable state in Afghanistan. The first is that Preventing terrorism coming to the streets of Britain,America and other countries depends on strengthening the authorities in both Pakistan and Afghanistan to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban, as Brown explained in a speech last week. For if in either country the Taliban are allowed to undermine legitimate government, that would open the way once again for al-Qaida to have greater freedom from which to launch terrorist attacks across the world, he added. Brown’s second reason for the war, at least for British ears, is to try to restrain the Afghan opium trade that is the source of most of the heroin on British streets. This does not go far to persuade those who recall that British addicts never seemed to go short of heroin before, during or after the days of the Taliban rule. Eric Joyce, a junior defense minister and former army officer, resigned from the government last week claiming that the war could no longer be justified on the prime minister’s terms and that the
British were bearing far too great a share of the burden. Repeated attempts by the U.S. and British governments to get their NATO allies to play a larger role have had little success.The French have sent an extra battalion and the Germans are to send a small, company-sized unit that is supposed to fight, rather than simply patrol. But that is all, and the Canadi-
ans start to withdraw within the next 18 months. Unless our partners start to pull their weight in terms of combat units then NATO is doomed, commented Patrick Mercer, a Conservative MP and former infantry officer.You cannot have a handful of nations doing the fighting and dying and everybody else doing the computers and the mobile bath units, without confidence in the whole alliance being eroded. The war is far too unpopular for any European government to commit much political capital to it, which means that a key component of U.S. President Barack Obama’s international strategy has crumbled.The Europeans are not prepared to do much more for him, who they like a lot, than they were for President Bush, who they disliked. In short, policy is more important in international relations than the personality of the president.The European reluctance to do more also means that Obama has failed to sell them his argument that if Iraq was the bad war,Afghanistan was the good one. With U.S. opinion polls saying 75 percent of Americans oppose the president’s plan to send more combat troops, the Europeans can hardly be expected to be more supportive than Obama’s own voters. But that raises the double prospect of a defeat for the West and the withering of NATO, which would be so much the worst of all worlds that Brown and his likely Conservative successor David Cameron would spend a lot of political capital to prevent it. So expect a discreet scaling back of war aims, along the lines being suggested by former Defense Secretary Michael Portillo, who argues that the West should scrap the talk of Afghan democracy, nation building and schools for girls.The goal is simply to keep al-Qaida from getting a safe haven.And if that means an authoritarian government with a lot of Taliban presence, so be it.
11 Septemberâ€‚ 2009
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in 60 seconds MASSIVE COST TO UK TAXPAYERS LONDON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, now living in London, is guarded roundthe-clock at a taxpayer cost of nearly NZ$65,000 a day, says the London Times. Scotland Yard has assigned a 10-member team to protect Musharraf, who has been living in a three-bedroom West London apartment about four months. The Times said while Musharraf pays for a small team of retired Pakistani commandos from his own pocket, the Royal and VIP Executive Committee decided to provide additional security. The former military general became Pakistan’s president in 1999 after a successful coup against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf resigned last year after losing in general elections. The Times report said Musharraf likes to dine at the Dorchester Hotel and enjoys golf. Britain’s Guardian newspaper said he also plays bridge regularly and being an accomplished Urdu singer, likes to host musical evenings at his apartment. The Times said in the past, Britain has been home to dissidents, dictators and princes, many of whom received government protection. The Guardian report said it is not known how long Musharraf plans to stay in London. He has insisted he is not in exile, although in Pakistan, Sharif wants him tried for treason. However, the report quoted experts as saying they don’t believe he will face trial any time soon. AUSSIE BACKYARD ABORTION CAIRNS, Sep. 11 (UPI) -- A young Australian couple who used illegally imported drugs to end a pregnancy face trial for the chemical abortion. A magistrate in Cairns ruled Friday the evidence is adequate to hold Tegan Simone Leach, 19, and Sergie Brennan, 21, for trial, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. If they are convicted, Leach could be sentenced to seven years in prison and Brennan to three. In Australia, abortion is a matter for individual states to decide, in most cases by a mix of legislative action and legal decisions. While the boundary between legal and illegal abortion is often confused, prosecutions have been rare. Leach, charged with performing an abortion on herself, used Misoprostol and RU486. Brennan allegedly acknowledged to police that he got the drugs from a sister living in Russia. The couple were apparently unwilling to have a surgical termination. The case has inspired calls to amend Queensland’s abortion laws to make them less confusing. Some hospitals are said to have stopped performing abortions because their officials fear prosecution. TRAILER TRASH COULD FACE DEATH PENALTY STOCKTON, Sep 11 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in California said today they will seek the death penalty for a woman charged with raping and killing an 8-year-old friend of her daughter. Melissa Huckaby, 29, pleaded not guilty Thursday to the murder of Sandra Cantu, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She also asked San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus to remove her lawyer, public defender Peter Sam, a motion that was denied. Huckaby lived with her grandparents in a trailer park in Tracy, where Sandra and her family also lived. Investigators say Sandra was killed at the Clover Road Baptist Church, where Huckaby’s grandfather is pastor. Officials said that San Joaquin District Attorney James Willet decided to ask for the death penalty after discussing the case with his assistants. Huckaby was indicted in July on a charge of murder with three special circumstances. Sandra’s body was found April 6 by farm workers who spotted a suitcase in an irrigation pond. She had been reported missing more than a week earlier.
11 September 2009
South Africa fury over Semenya claims PRETORIA (DPA) - South Africa’s Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile on Friday expressed“shock and disgust” at Australian media reports that tests on women’s 800m world champion Caster Semenya had shown she was a hermaphrodite and said any attempt to exclude her from competition would lead to a “third world war.” Stofile also accused world athletics body IAAF of violating her human rights by questioning her gender in the first place and said the government had referred the matter to lawyers. Addressing a press conference in Pretoria, Stofile said:“The ministry of sport and recreation has noted with shock and disgust media stories circulating around the world on the so-called results of the gender tests conducted by the IAAF on Mokgadi Caster Semenya, our 800 m world athletics champion.” Accusing the IAAF of using the media to leak the results while at the same time “pleading ignorance,”Stofile said:“It is very very clear to us Caster’s human rights are not being respected at all.” “Neither Caster nor her family deserve this kind of humiliation. None of them has done anything wrong.” “After humiliating her they come back and say she’s a woman but we (IAAF) don’t know the percentage of a woman!,” Stofile said, fingering the IAAF, which has distanced itself from the Australian media reports.“This is as disgust as it is unethical.” Saying the government had not yet seen the test results, he said: “What does it (the test results) matter? The issue is not whether she’s a hermaphrodite or not....She’s a girl.” Asked how South Africa would react if the IAAF ruled that Semenya could no longer compete against women, Stofile said:“I think it will be the third world war.” Such a decision would be “totally unfair and totally unjust,”he said. The IAAF requested a gender verification test on Semenya earlier in the season. The news broke just hours before the 800m final at the worlds in Berlin in August 19. The IAAF said Friday it has received the test results, but would not comment on the issue until a final ruling by the IAAF Council which meets November 20 and 21 in Monte Carlo.
Timor sceptical on media murders BALIBO FIVE CASE UNLIKELY TO BE SOLVED
DILI (DPA) - East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao hinted Friday that an Australian investigation into the killing of five journalists allegedly by Indonesian troops in his homeland in 1975 would prove futile. An Australian coroner’s inquiry two years ago concluded the five were deliberately killed by Indonesian soldiers to prevent news of Jakarta’s invasion of East Timor from leaking out. “When I heard it from the media I said, you can try but I believe that they will not do that, because I believe that Canberra and Jakarta will be in a bit of trouble,” Gusmao said. “Let’s see. Sometimes big countries insist on us to do justice but they themselves have difficulty realizing justice,”he said.“If they are successful I will give my applause.” Indonesia has always maintained that the journalists, known as the Balibo Five after the town in which they were killed, died in crossfire between Indonesian soldiers and East Timorese fighters. Indonesia has warned the investigation could damage its ties with Australia. “Indonesia and East Timor have agreed to get over things that get in the way of
good relations,” said Indonesian President Susilo BambangYudhoyono on Thursday.“If this thing is revived, it will be against that spirit [of good relations].” “I hope this issue can be managed well so that it won’t give rise to things that will hurt relations with Australia,”he said. Television journalists Greg Shackleton and Malcolm Rennie, cameramen Gary Cunningham and Brian Peters as well as sound recordist Tony Stewart died October 16, 1975, after trying to capture images of Indonesian troops crossing the border. East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was annexed by Indonesia in 1976 and had to wait for full independence until 2002. According to a report by a UN-sponsored truth commission, the Indonesian occupation led to about 100,000 deaths from killings, starvation and disease. Australian governments had accepted Jakarta’s assertion that the men were killed in a crossfire, but in January 2008 the Attorney General’s Department referred the case to the police after the Sydney coroner’s finding. dpa tb ahp rmc jh
11 Septemberâ€‚ 2009
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11 September 2009
Video killed the Silver Ferns stars By Mark Geenty of NZPA
BRISBANE, SEPT 11 NZPA - It made for painful viewing, but the Silver Ferns hope the video nasty of their Melbourne meltdown can jolt them awake for the third netball test against Australia here on Sunday. Like a good old-fashioned horror flick, players squirmed and covered their faces as the team viewed the replay of Wednesday’s 44-48 defeat which left the five-test series poised at 1-1. The cause of their discomfort was not so much the final quarter, which they won 14-6, but the first three which saw them trail by as many as 16 goals as they handed over 22 turnovers in all from unforced errors. “Mentally we know we can do a lot better.Watching the video is bit of hard work, a bit of salt in the wound,”senior midcourter Laura Langman said. “It’s a brutal fact, but we need to sit up and pay attention and look at ourselves in the mirror.” No one was immune from the horrors, even former captain Langman, who made a solid start on defence but struggled with her midcourt teammates to get any flow going.
“We had the ball in hand and we just didn’t look after it and we all made some uncharacteristic personal errors; myself, not taking my feet to the ball. “Just the basics like that we need to do them well and for 60 minutes.” Langman said criticism from the coaching team of Ruth Aitken and Wai Taumaunu had been constructive since their arrival in Brisbane. Simply pressing `play’ on the dvd player was enough. Now the question is whether the Silver Ferns are mentally strong enough to bounce back from such a poor showing. Backing up has never been their strength in Australia, and it became four consecutive years that they’d won the first test across the Tasman then lost the second. Langman and fellow midcourter Temepara George admitted they felt the danger signs were there before the first centre pass at a soldout Hisense Arena in Melbourne, so the early exchanges here on Sunday might tell the story. “That’s the question we’re asking ourselves, what went wrong? Some of us thought maybe we weren’t there in the warmup, but it’s definitely a question
we’ve been looking to answer.” New Zealand have only played three times in Brisbane, for two wins and a 41-43 defeat last year, but have never graced Sunday’s venue of the Convention and Exhibition Centre at Southbank, which is a sellout. Aitken may well go with the same midcourt who finished the second test, with George at wing attack, Langman at centre and Raetihi-born, Perth-raised Larissa Willcox at wing defence. It’s been tricky for Langman, who was enjoying the return to wing defence, but the untimely tourending calf strain to Liana Barrett-Chase forced a reshuffle. “It took me a wee while to warm into centre, a lot longer than I would have liked. Eventually we slotted in quite well and the links started to come really nicely. “That was encouraging but we need that a lot faster, we can’t wait until the third quarter and be 16 down before we decide to turn things around.” Going to tests four and five in Invercargill and Auckland with a 2-1 lead would be a big motivation too, Langman said. Langman’s work on impressive Australian cen-
tre Natalie von Bertouch will be key to that, while defenders Casey Williams and Katrina Grant or Joline Henry need a more effective shutdown of speedy shooting duo Sharelle McMahon and Melbourne player-of-the-match Susan Pratley. McMahon will play her 100th test on Sunday, just the third Australian to reach the milestone after Liz Ellis and Vicki Wilson.
Carter’s return could be deciding factor By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA
HAMILTON, SEPT 11 NZPA - The All Blacks’not-sosecret rugby weapon hopes he can make the difference when his considerable influence in unleashed on the Springboks here tomorrow. First five-eighth Daniel Carter enhanced his reputation as bona fide superstar with his last-minute penalty goal to beat Australia by one point in Sydney last month. It boosted New Zealand spirits as well as their Tri-Nations hopes following two emphatic losses in South Africa, tests the 27-year-old missed while he was nearing the end of a lengthy recuperation from an Achilles tendon injury. He is the only member of tomorrow’s two starting 15s not involved in the twin defeats and hoped his contribution could help launch a reversal. Carter’s performance comes in conjunction with the man who wore the black No 10 jersey in his absence, with Stephen Donald to start at second five-eighth for the first time in six years due to injuries to other midfield options. Mystery surrounds exactly how the pair will co-
ordinate the playmaking duties but Carter felt their relationship would be smooth. “Nothing much changes for myself ... but now we have two five-eighths. If one of gets caught up, the other one will slot in,”Carter said. “Obviously I am used to calling the moves and things like that which I will continue to do this weekend. “Having someone like Stephen there, he’s grown as a player and he provides a lot of options as well. I will keep encouraging him to talk and communicate and hopefully it will go well.” Marking the 60-test veteran is goalkicking ace Morne Steyn, who set a South African record when scoring all 31 points in their drubbing of the All Blacks at Durban last month. Steyn looked at sea as an attacking force when the Springboks fell behind during last weekend’s loss to Australia in Brisbane, suggesting Carter’s instincts could provide a key difference between the teams if the forward battle is an even one. Carter has looked sharp from the moment he returned with Canterbury two months ago and he will have taken heart from the problems Wallabies
No 10 Matt Giteau created for the Springboks defence in Brisbane. “I wouldn’t say I am in prime form but I am happy enough with the standard I am playing,”he
said. “To have a such long layoff like I did, it is going to take time. But the main thing is I am enjoying it and always looking to improve.”
Hewitt raises final effort for world title bid NZPA correspondent
BRISBANE, SEPT 11 NZPA - It’s a numbers game for Andrea Hewitt as she bids for a world triathlon title on the Gold Coast on Sunday -- the ones stuck to the backs of her nearest rivals. New Zealand’s top-ranked woman heads into the world championship finale third on the overall rankings behind Australia’s Emma Moffatt and Sweden’s Lisa Norden. The top two look set to fight out the title, but Hewitt can still mathematically win the overall crown if they race below their best. After her best season on the world circuit, Hewitt is intent on maintaining her top-three position first, and has done all the sums. The race numbering will help, with each athlete displaying their ranking position. “I’m just going to race but I know where I am in the rankings and if these other girls are going to pass me, that’s who I’m going to be chasing. I know where I’m at there, and I want to stay on the podium,”she said this week. “We’ve all got numbers on raceday and I’ll be in No 3 so I’ll know if No 4 or No 5 are close.” One major stumbling block is out, with champion
Australian Emma Snowsill ruled out due to a hip injury. Moffatt is in pole position to win the title on her home soil, on 3140 points, while Norden is on 3020 and Hewitt 2766. It’s the first year the world championship has been decided over a series rather than one race. Hewitt’s nearest challenger, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, is 400 points back in fourth spot. As long as Hewitt can be in touch after the cycle leg she backs herself to be in the fight, in temperatures expected to rise towards 30degC. She’s been in Australia for 2-1/2 weeks adjusting to conditions. “It’s really flat and it’ll be fast. I’m fast at the moment on the run so that’s going to suit me but I don’t know how it’s going to work after the swim on the bike.” The 27-year-old from Christchurch is enjoying some of the best form of her career, with the highlight a desperate photo finish victory over Norden in Madrid in May which took five minutes to confirm. Her latest effort was a second placing to the same opponent in the penultimate round in Yokohama, Japan. “I’ve had a great season. It’s been my best so far
and I’ve had some really good results. It’ll just be how I come out on this one. “Because it’s the last race of the series a lot of girls are going to be peaking, the ones that haven’t raced so well this season. It’s just whether my running will hold up against them.”
As always, New Zealand has a strong hand in the women’s race, with Debbie Tanner, Sam Warriner, Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy also lining up. All are outside the top-15 on the world championship rankings, with Tanner the best placed in 18th.
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11 September 2009
TV & Film
All About Steve
nCast: Sandra Bullock, Brad Cooper nDirector: Phil Traill nLength: 99 min. nRated: PG-13 (sexual content including innuendo) n
A cold case and high fashion thing from Kmart doesn’t mean you’re a dumb person,” she’s trying to be warm and compassionate. We learn that Wintour’s father was the product of a strict Edwardian upbringing (“I’m not sure his mother ever spoke to him”), which explains a little By Robert W. Butler about her.And there is a glimmer of warmth in her dealings with her daughter, who ridicules the whole Watch trailer fashion industry and wants to go to law school - Robert W. Butler instead (“We’ll see,”Wintour says ominously), and with Thakoon Panichgul, a young designer whose career she helps launch. The September Issue Mostly, though, Wintour remains an enigma: nCast: Anna Wintour, Siena Miller When she looks off to the side and rolls her tongue nDirector: R J Cutler when someone dares disagree with her, you can’t nRated: PG-13, some language tell whether she’s annoyed or has just lost interest. nLength: 1:28 For personality,“The September Issue” relies on n Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, a colorful whirlwind who plays tennis with a Louis Vuitton The devil doesn’t sprout horns or bare her fangs towel fashionably draped around his shoulders, and, in “The September Issue”: She doesn’t even wear particularly, on Grace Coddington, the magazine’s that much Prada (she likes her Chanel, though). In creative director. director R.J.Cutler’s snappy documentary about the A former Vogue model who joined the staff after a making of the September 2007 issue of“Vogue”- the car accident, Coddington becomes the movie’s real fattest ever published, clocking in at more than 800 star - a passionate, endlessly creative woman who pages back when people still bought magazines - edi- labours over the most minute detail of the magator Anna Wintour exhibits an icy,unflappable veneer. zine’s photographs and layouts only to have her work If something were to make Wintour angry, she’d overruled by Wintour’s whims and tastes. just disintegrate it with laser beams shot from her The constant tug of war between the women eyes.At least that is the impression left by Cutler’s gives “The September Issue”its drama and narrafilm, which never digs too deeply into the psyche of tive spine. The movie also celebrates the considerfashion’s fascinating goddess. The film also leaves able creativity that goes into each issue. But as for you with a newfound respect for “The Devil Wears getting close to Wintour - or even explaining the Prada,”in which Meryl Streep and the set designers unfathomable mystery that can be haute couture got everything so right that“The September Issue” the film comes up empty. Some things are just not incites startling moments of deja vu. meant for us puny mortals to comprehend. When Wintour says“Just because you wear some-
Early in “Whiteout,” a murder mystery set in a South Pole research station, a federal marshal played by Kate Beckinsale strips down and takes a shower. Why? No particular reason. But enjoy it while you can, fellas. She’ll spend the rest of the film in a parka. That scene makes about as much sense as anything else in Dominic Sena’s thriller. Beckinsale plays Carrie Stetko, who requested this remote, easy assignment after a particularly ugly on-the-job incident. Her main duties involve riding herd on several dozen young scientists who behave like college freshmen during orientation week. But after two years Carrie is ready to rejoin the real world. That is until a pilot reports seeing a corpse out on the ice. The dead man, a geologist, has been murdered. The trail of clues leads Carrie to an abandoned Russian outpost - now occupied by a masked killer with an ice ax - and a Soviet transport plane that has been buried in the ice for 50 years (we saw it go down in the film’s prologue). Something important was aboard that plane. Something worth killing for. Based on Greg Rucka’s comic-book series, “Whiteout”is one of those mysteries in which every character is a potential murderer. These include a pilot (Columbus Short), an FBI agent (Gabriel Macht) who mysteriously pops up on the scene, the station’s venerable old sawbones (Tom Skerritt) and a cocky Aussie researcher (Alex O’Loughlin) whom we first see running a naked race in 57-below temperatures . Oh, did I mention that the Antarctic winter is blowing in and that once trapped, Carrie and the few remaining inhabitants will be stuck there for six months? The screenplay by Jon and ErichHoeber and Chad and Carey Hayes (too many cooks?) is confusing and leaps huge gaps in logic.
Movie picks Outstanding Worthy effort So-so A bomb
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nCast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt nDirector: Quentin Tarantino nRated: R for violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity nLength: 1:41 n
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But an unsung crew of f/x guys does a heck of a job re-creating a screaming Antarctic blizzard.This is one bone-chilling movie. It got that right, at least.
All About Steve Bandslam District 9 Extract Inglourious Basterds Ponyo Taking Woodstock Time TravelerÕs Wife © 2009 MCT
“All About Steve” is a terrible movie but an interesting study in film marketing. This misguided Sandra Bullock vehicle (she produced it, too) was to have opened late last winter. But it was yanked from the schedule; apparently 20th Century Fox execs got a look at it and decided to regroup and hope for a miracle. Well, they got one. Two miracles, actually. First there was the success this summer of “The Hangover,” which turned “Steve” co-star Bradley Cooper into an overnight sensation. And then there was the box-office punch of Bullock’s “The Proposal.” Suddenly “Steve” had a gimmick: The stars of the year’s two biggest comedies together in one film. Who could resist? Well, just about any discerning moviegoer, for starters. “Steve” finds the perky Bullock playing Mary Horowitz, a creator of crossword puzzles who has a huge vocabulary and sometimes seems determined to employ every word in each conversation. Mary is a big nerd, totally lacking in physical and emotional grace. It’s easy to see her coming because she always wears flaming red patent leather go-go boots; getting her to leave is darn near impossible. It takes TV network cameraman Steve (Cooper) about five minutes on their blind date to realize Mary is desperate and exasperating and possibly crazy. He quickly flees. Mary interprets this as foreplay and soon is following Steve all over the country as he jets from news story to news story, accompanied by a preening reporter (Thomas Haden Church) and an ineffectual producer (Ken Jeong of “The Hangover”). Along the way she picks up a couple of misfits (DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon) who have found their vocation in showing up at news stories (any story) and protesting. Kim Barker’s screenplay takes a stab at several genres - romantic comedy, satire of the news industry, black comedy - and is incompetent at all of them. Director Phil Traill isn’t any help. His idea of high humour is to signal Mary’s imminent arrival with the “Jaws” theme. Bullock, of course, has plenty of fans. Problem here is that she’s stuck with such an irritating character that, like Steve, you just wish she’d disappear. An advance screening of “All About Steve” (apologies are due that great American classic “All About Eve”) played to an audience silent save for the occasional verbal insult. Maybe a sitcom laugh track would have helped - at least it would provide a hint of where we’re supposed to chuckle. NEXT: SANDRA GETS SERIOUS After two romantic comedies in a row (as star and producer), Sandra Bullock next stars in the true-life drama “The Blind Side” (Nov. 20). She’s a wealthy Southern woman who adopts a giant homeless kid who becomes a star football player. Based on the story of Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher. Her acting/producing continues with upcoming comedies “Jingle” (about an elf gone wrong), “One of the Guys” (uhoh, she’s acting girly) and “Kiss and Tango” (she gets her groove back in Argentina). And, she said recently, she’d really really like a role in “The Hangover 2.” lBy Robert Butler
11 September 2009
Beatlemania Can the Fab Four save music games? By Dan Gallagher MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO - After a five-month decline in sales, the video game business is pinning its hope for recovery on a handful of rock bands, including one that hasn’t put out a new record in nearly 40 years. This week saw the release of the much-awaited “The Beatles: Rock Band.” Like other games in the popular genre, this one allows gamers to play along to several of the band’s most popular tracks on guitar-shaped and drum controllers. The game went on sale Wednesday. That will come just a week after the release of “Guitar Hero 5,”the latest in the blockbuster franchise that pioneered the category and has since sold nearly 29 million units in the U.S. alone, according to data from NPD Group Inc. “If the enthusiasm of our managers is any indication, this is going to be a very successful launch,” said Tony Bartel, executive vice president of merchandising for GameStop, of a recent gathering of managers from the retail chain’s 6,200 stores.“I don’t think they’ll be cancelling each other out.” These two games may help revive sales for a sector that has seen a sharp drop in sales of late. In particular, revenue in the music game category as a whole is down by 46 percent for the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to NPD data. In July, total industry sales for all video game hardware and software in the United States were down 29 percent from the same month the previous year.Year-to-date sales totaled $8.16 billion by the end of July compared with $9.49 billion for the same period last year. The slowdown in sales is blamed in part on the economic recession, and also on the fact that the industry faces tough comparisons with last spring and summer, when several of the year’s top titles were released. Sales for the month of August are expected to be released by mid-September, but analysts widely expect another month of declines in the sales growth rate. September is expected to be a strong month, thanks in part to the “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band”releases. “We expect the trend of negative industry sales to end decisively during the month of September, with the industry posting double-digit sales growth,” Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan wrote in a note to clients. The “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” franchises have spent the past two years in a sharp rivalry, which may only grow deeper with the latest releases. “Guitar Hero”was first on the scene. Developed by Harmonix and the publisher Red Octane, the first game in the series hit the market in November of 2005 on Sony’s PlayStation 2. Since that time, several versions have been launched, including two versions tied specifically to the bands Metallica and Aerosmith. The franchise came under the ownership of Activision Blizzard in 2006, when the company bought Red Octane. Harmonix was later bought by MTV in an effort to establish a video-game division.The studio developed the first“Rock Band”game for Viacom’s MTV Games unit, which published the game in partnership with Electronic Arts. The first“Rock Band”hit the market in November of 2007, which “Rock Band 2” coming out the following year.The franchise has sold about 7.7 million units in the United States, according to NPD. Last year, the “Rock Band” developers created a splash when they announced a deal to develop a game with the Beatles’ music.The game features 45 of the band’s songs, including “Helter Skelter,” “Come Together”and“Revolution.”Players can also purchase instrument controllers that are replicas of the band’s own instruments.
TOP: Les Paul is transported from Mitchell International Airport on the Gibson Bus to the Downer Theater where the PBS documentary Les Paul Chasing Sound is premiering. Paul arrived for two days and nights of activities, including a concert at the age of 92. The legendary Les Paul invented the solid body electric guitar which has become the Gibson Les Paul. May 9, 2007. GARY PORTER/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/PSG). BOTTOM: 93-year-old guitarist Les Paul responds to a rousing greeting from the audience prior to playing a benefit concert Saturday, June 21, 2008 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wis. Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/PSG
Jesse Divnich of Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, a video game market research firm, said that while the two games compete in the same category, both can be considered highly successful in their own right. “The problem with ‘Guitar Hero’and ‘Rock Band’ is that people want to pit one up against the other, and it’s not a really good comparison,” Divnich said.“There are three times as many ‘Guitar Hero’ products on retail shelves as there are ‘Rock Band’ products.That doesn’t mean ‘Guitar Hero’is better than ‘Rock Band,’ it’s just been around longer.” Divnich noted that combined, the two franchises own 85 percent of the entire music game category, which is now a $3 billion business. “There’s no other category in which just two companies have that much share,”he said. Many analysts have asked if sales in the music game category are simply maturing, and unable to deliver the same growth rates as in the past. But Divnich warns that part of the slowdown in revenue growth is to be expected, as the business transitions from a hardware model to software. Previous games were sold with the plastic instrument controllers at higher price points. But later sales will be more centered on the software, as more players already have the hardware. Bartel from GameStop agrees. He expects game sales to be strong on a unit basis, but will likely be below previous years in terms of revenue, because fewer customers will be buying the instruments. “There’s a lot of plastic out there already,”he said. “Now, people are focusing on the games themselves.” Also, the companies have worked to make their games compatible with each other’s instrument
controllers, so someone that owns “Guitar Hero” instruments could still play “The Beatles: Rock Band”without buying the whole kit, in most cases. Still, there may be some exhaustion on the genre that is starting to creep into the market.Todd Greenwald of Signal Hill Capital Group says the music genre may have matured too quickly, given its phenomenal run over the past three years. “Yes, I think there is some brand exhaustion, especially on ‘Guitar Hero,’”Greenwald said.“I think “Guitar Hero 5” is going to be significantly down from “Guitar Hero 4.”With “Rock Band,”there’s a reason we are not seeing a “Rock Band 3,” we are seeing “The Beatles: Rock Band.” In addition to this month’s games,Activision will be releasing two other high-profile music games for the holiday season. In October, the company will be releasing DJ Hero, a game similar in concept to “Guitar Hero,”but one that uses a DJ turntable and focused on the hip-hop genre. The following month will see the release of“Band Hero,” which plays like “Guitar Hero” but features a wider array of music beyond the rock spectrum. Music games are believed to have a positive impact on sales of recorded music. Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Activision’s“Guitar Hero”business, says that a song that makes it onto one of his games will see its catalogue sales grow by 50 percent. Rob Levine, executive editor of Billboard magazine, which tracks the music industry, says music games“definitely give sales a boost,”but the data is unclear by how much. However, he pointed out that the games provide a valuable promotional tool for bands, as well as a possible distribution channel. Unlike getting music
played on the radio and other promotional activities, having a song on“Guitar Hero”or“Rock Band” does not cannibalize existing music sales - it adds to it. “If you look at the various things that you can do to promote music, most of them cost you money,”he said.“This makes you money.” However, the question is more complicated for The Beatles, which remain the most notable holdout from the online music scene.As part of the launch of its game, the band is also releasing its entire catalogue of past albums in a digitally remastered format.The CDs have been popular preorder items on Amazon.com; the box sets were sold by Friday morning. The launch of the game has renewed speculation that a deal might be coming for downloads. That has also been fueled by the fact that Apple Inc. (AAPL) is holding a media event on the same day of the game launch.The gathering is widely expected to be focused on updates to the company’s iPod line, but many are speculating if the timing of the dates means a deal might be in store. Levine of Billboard does not think the band is preparing to do a deal with iTunes, given that it is still one of the best-selling music artists in the business. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the band is the second-best selling music act of the current decade, ranking just under rapper Eminem. “Why would they want to be on iTunes,” Levine said.“I don’t know what is going to happen on the ninth.That said, if you look at how well The Beatles are doing, I don’t know why they would want to change their strategy.”