23 NZTONIGHT October 2009
Carter’s ‘dictator’ jibe misfires page
British actor filming here
Wozniacki under investigation
Nancy: Doing it her way
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ISSN 1172-4153 | Volume 2 | Issue 48 |
| 23 October 2009
Helen Clark’s US$250-a-head speech By Ian Wishart
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is at the centre of a growing controversy at the United Nations over allegations guests were charged up to US$250 a head to hear her speak in her capacity as head of the UN Development Programme. The scandal echoes this week’s fracas over Act leader Rodney Hide speaking at a $45 a head breakfast, but while Labour leader Phil Goff waxed lyrical about the ethics of cabinet ministers charging, it seems he was unaware Clark has been doing it on behalf of her women’s network even more spectacularly in New York. The story was broken by New York’s Inner City Press, which covers the UN beat, and which has been trying to get Helen Clark to front questions on the controversy since July. To make matters worse, the $250 a head speech by Clark was publicly listed as supported by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC, which drags the NZ government into the fray. The event was headlined the “Women in Power Luncheon”, with Clark the keynote speaker as third in line to the throne at the United Nations. NZ Ambassador to the US, Roy Ferguson, was listed as a guest and the embassy as“a supporter in kind”. At a UN press conference, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Lee sought clarification about whether Clark was using her position to help financially benefit supporters: Inner City Press: “The head of UNDP, Helen Clark, gave a speech in Washington at the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and they charged $250 admission. Is there any kind of rule applicable to UN officials speaking in a for-pay environment and who reviews, obviously it was a fund-raiser, but what comment do you have on that?” Inner City Press:“Is there any UN system rule, Associate Spokesperson Haq:“I don’t.I would sug- to your knowledge?” gest that you talk to UNDP for any comment on this. Associate Spokesperson Haq:“Well, UN officials It’s their event and I don’t have any of the details of it.” do not receive payment for the speeches that they
“We are anxious to find him as soon as possible, and we’re asking people to get in touch with us if they have seen Paul or have any information about his whereabouts.” Paul was a high risk offender, wanted for breaching his bail. He was originally from Kawerau, 32km southwest of Whakatane, but had also lived in south Auckland.
BBC UPROAR Commies complain Page 8
EDGY BLACKS Team uncertain Page 11
SEVEN give. But I don’t know about what kind of event this is.Whether this was an outside group that was charging or whether UNDP was. For that you really have to get the details from UNDP.”
Keep a lookout for this guy WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – Police are scouring the North Island hunting a violent offender with gang insignia tattooed across his face. Ernie O’Neal Paul had a violent history, was known to carry weapons including knives and firearms and should not be approached, Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen, of Whakatane police, said.
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He might be travelling outside the eastern Bay of Plenty area, and could be in Tauranga, south Auckland or Northland, Mr Standen said. Paul was described as Maori, of medium build, 34 years old and 1.74m tall. He had several highly visible and distinctive Mongrel Mob Rogue tattoos on his face, neck and back. – NZPA
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MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CRASH PROCTOR, MINN., OCT. 23 (UPI) – A Minnesota man pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated – in a motorized easy chair he crashed into a parked car. Dennis LeRoy Anderson, 62, of Proctor, who pleaded guilty this week in St. Louis County District Court, was fined $1,000 and given two years of probation, the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune reported today. Judge Heather Sweetland of the 6th Judicial District stayed two years’ jail and half of a $2,000 fine. The criminal complaint against Anderson said he tried to drive the motorized La-Z-Boy chair home from a Proctor bar after drinking eight or nine beers. Police arrived after he hit a parked car with the chair, powered by a converted lawnmower, and his blood alcohol content was 0.29 percent (290mg), more than three times the legal limit for driving. No one was injured. FLORIDA BURGLARS RETURN VIAL OF ASHES ORLANDO, FLA., OCT. 23 (UPI) – Burglars in Florida returned a vial containing the ashes of a woman’s son two days after ransacking and stealing property from her Florida house, police said. Emely Santana, 37, of Orange County, said she could deal with everything else stolen from the home, but that she was relieved to have the vial back. It contained some of the remains of her 18-year-old son, Giovanni Perez, who was killed while watching a street race in June, the Orlando Sentinel reported this morning. Santana said her 17-year-old daughter came home from school Monday to find the house a mess. Money, shoes, jewellery, and electronics had been stolen. The burglars returned the vial of ashes yesterday to Santana’s car, which was parked at her house. “When I’m really down, I grab the urn (the vial) and I start praying,” Santana said. “It gives me peace. I feel him closer.” She added that she had planned to give her mother the vial as a remembrance of her grandson. MAN BEGS FOR JAIL TO ESCAPE NAGGING WIFE PALERMO, ITALY, OCT. 22 (UPI) – An Italian man who violated his house arrest requested jail to get away from his wife, but the judge sent him back home. Santo Gambino, 30, who was arrested for dumping construction waste in March, was taken to court after he was caught violating his house arrest and asked to be given a jail sentence instead to escape his wife’s nonstop nagging at home, the Italian news agency ANSA reported this morning. However, the judge sent Gambino, who lives outside Palermo on the island of Sicily, back home on house arrest and ordered him to try to get along with his wife. BOY, 5, SLEEPWALKS TO HIS SCHOOL AT NIGHT ST. CHARLES, ILL., OCT. 23 (UPI) – A 5-year-old Illinois boy who apparently sleepwalked to his elementary school was safely returned to his family, authorities said. Kane County sheriff’s deputies said the boy was discovered unharmed but disoriented at Anderson Elementary School in St. Charles about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the Aurora (Ill.) Beacon-News reported. Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said the boy was having trouble remembering his address and told officers he was at the school to watch a movie with his mother. Gengler said the boy’s mother had discussed a movie night with him Saturday. The boy was taken to Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Ill., where a school district official identified him and determined his address. Gengler said the child’s parents were sleeping when deputies brought him home. “This is just kind of one of those way-out-there things,” Gengler said. “We’re lucky and we’re happy it turned out this way. If it was December or January [midwinter], it could have been a sad ending.”
23 October 2009
Echoes of Erebus still ring AUCKLAND, OCT 23 NZPA – Families still grieving nearly 30 years after New Zealand’s worst air crash were not given enough support, Air New Zealand admitted today. Air New Zealand flight TE 901 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica on November 28, 1979. Airline chief executive Rob Fyfe apologised to the families of the 257 victims, at a service in Auckland today to unveil a sculpture commemorating the disaster. He told the gathering the airline had made mistakes and apologised to families who did not get enough support after the crash. “Sorry to all of those who suffered the loss of a loved one or were affected by the Erebus tragedy and did not receive the support and compassion they should have from Air New Zealand. “If we turn the clock back 30 years and reflect on the events following the Erebus tragedy, sadly there appears to be a different priority – the pursuit of someone or something to blame,”Mr Fyfe said. Prime Minister John Key also spoke about the “terrible waste of human life”. “We cannot bring them back, but we can honour and remember these brave people and we can learn from our past,”he said. “I know that a lot of the families who lost loved ones at Erebus did not feel as well cared for in the wake of that tragedy 30 years ago. “I would expect them to be treated much more sensitively and compassionately today. So it is with great poignancy that I note how far we have come,” Mr Key said. Families who lost relatives in the Erebus tragedy and the airline’s Airbus crash off the coast of southern France last year were at the unveiling today. Kathryn Carter, whose father Captain Jim Collins piloted the doomed DC-10 aircraft to Antarctica, said Air New Zealand handled the situation very badly after the crash. “It has been a hard 30 years for us. It was a culture of blame back then,”she said. “The crew were blamed for the accident, which wouldn’t happen today.”
She said the sculpture represented forward thinking and moving on in a positive way. Mr Fyfe added that the hardest thing he’d had to do in his time at Air New Zealand, was to listen to Maria Collins, the wife of Captain Jim Collins, and Anne Cassin, wife of co-pilot Greg Cassin, describe their experiences in the days, months and years after flight TE901. The pilots were chosen at the time because they were two of Air New Zealand’s best pilots, Mr Fyfe said. “Captain Collins and first officer Cassin, along with three other members of the flight crew, Graeme Lucas, Gordon Brooks and Nick Moloney, were highly regarded aviators. They deserve our respect and they certainly have mine. “Ultimately, hundreds of families lost loved ones in this tragedy and all suffered equal loss. “The enormity of the tragedy was overwhelming for Air New Zealand and the nation. “We had fewer resources available on so many levels than we have today.As a result,Air New Zealand inevitably made mistakes, and undoubtedly let down people directly affected by the tragedy. “I can’t turn the clock back. I can’t undo what has been done, but as I look forward I’d like to take the next step on our journey by saying sorry. “As we approach the 30th anniversary when 257 lives were lost on the slopes of Mt Erebus, and the first anniversary of the loss of five New Zealanders and two German pilots in Airbus A320 off the coast of France on November 28 last year, we acknowledge that it is these events which most of you here today
Margaret Modricker has never removed her mother’s engagement ring since it was recovered from the Mt Erebus crash site in Antarctica. Her mother, Jean Holloway and 256 other passengers and crew died when an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed on November 28, 1979. NZPA / Wayne Drought
will connect with at this dedication ceremony, and so it should be.” Mr Fyfe added he thought the events following the Airbus A320 crash have shown Air New Zealand has learnt from the past. – NZPA
Labour and its unions attack over ACC WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – The Government is being accused of breaking an election promise on ACC and trade unions say the scheme will be destroyed if it is opened to private competition. Ministers yesterday signalled a clear intention to open ACC’s work account to private insurers and Prime Minister John Key said a steering group which will report on the merits of the change would examine other aspects of the scheme as well. The work account covers personal injuries in the workplace, paid for by employer levies. National campaigned on investigating opening it to private competition but the Government showed no enthusiasm for that until this week, when ACC Minister Nick Smith needed the ACT Party’s votes for a bill that increases levies and cuts some entitlements. The deal between the Government and ACT was that in exchange for votes to ensure the bill passes all its stages, the work account would be opened up if the steering group recommends it. Dr Smith yesterday talked about“the anticipated decision” to allow private competition and said it would be enacted as soon as possible after the steering group delivered a final report in June next year. Labour leader Phil Goff said today National promised during the campaign to investigate opening only the work account to competition. “John Key now admits National is looking at privatisation across the whole of the ACC,”he said. “Privatisation means money from ACC levies will be diverted into profits and marketing costs. “Hard working Kiwis will be the losers.They will pay more and get less when they are already struggling with their bills.” Council of Trade Union (CTU) president Helen Kelly predicted ACC would soon be replaced by a
private insurance scheme. “Taking ACC down this privatisation road will destroy it and dismantle all the protections it currently provides,”she said. Business NZ has welcomed the move and today Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said that during the short time ACC was open to competition in the 1990s, premium costs halved and there was a substantial reduction in claims. The previous National government opened the work account to private competition in 1998 and Labour returned ACC’s monopoly after it won the 1999 election.
Mr Barnett said the shake up of ACC was an opportunity to address“underlying issues”including why New Zealand had one of the highest accident rates among developed countries. “Our scheme is unique, but is it as efficient and effective as it could be or should be?”he said. “If it was truly a world-class scheme, by now you would think that other countries would be adopting it.” Mr Barnett said an independent claims review authority should be part of any move to open the work account to competition. – NZPA
23 October 2009
Accident-prone Carter rues Mussolini jibe WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – Labour MP Chris Carter is in trouble for comparing Prime Minister John Key with Italy’s fascist wartime dictator Benito Mussolini. Mr Carter yesterday saw Mr Key standing on a Beehive balcony for a photo shoot and called out to him“you look just like Mussolini”. Carter, whose own partner Peter Kaiser carries the name of a German dictator from WW1, thought this was so funny he put it on Labour’s Red Alert blog, along with a photo of Mussolini standing on a tank. Blog editor Trevor Mallard wasn’t amused and took it down, but by then it had spread through the internet and was raising comments on other political blogs. Left wing blog The Standard said Mr Carter had been unwise. Respondents had more forthright
opinions and one said the MP was a buffoon. Labour leader Phil Goff didn’t think it was funny either and is understood to have suggested Mr Carter apologise. Mr Carter explained himself on TV One News tonight. “I called out `John, you look like Mussolini’.We had a laugh, it was a light-hearted moment,”he said. “Trevor was sensitive to people who found it offensive.There are people in New Zealand still alive who suffered under fascism.That wasn’t something I thought about when I put the blog up.” Mr Carter said he had offered an apology if he had caused offence. Mr Key laughed it off. “I don’t really take anything Chris Carter says seriously.” – NZPA
Rodney on rates warpath ahead of 39% rise WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says he will soon announce changes to legislation which will help stop rates spiralling out of control. Mr Hide said he had analysed the 2009-2019 longterm council plans and discovered operating costs would increase overall by 39 percent over the next 10 years. During the same period, capital expenditure would total $31.4 billion and total debt was forecast to rise to $10.8b.That meant people were going to face big increases in their rates bills, he said today. “To help ratepayers stop their rates continuing to spiral out of control, the Government will soon announce changes to the Local Government Act 2002,”Mr Hide said.
“These changes have come from the review I set up to improve the transparency, accountability and financial management of local government.” Mr Hide said the review was about local government focusing on core functions, managing within a defined budget, and adopting transport and accountable decision-making processes. “In these challenging economic times councils need to think carefully about the impact of rates increases,”he said. “There needs to be some serious thinking about the trade-offs between the services local communities want and what is an acceptable level of rates increases.” – NZPA
23 October 2009
ComCom rings four CORNERS Vodafone’s bell ‘NZ’ QUAIL TURN OUT TO BE AUSSIES WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – Quail on Auckland’s Tiritiri Matangi Island are not remnants of a New Zealand species extinct for more than 100 years, a Massey university researcher has discovered. The birds were suspected of being survivors of the New Zealand quail, but they were actually genetically identical to Australian brown quail, PhD researcher Mark Seabrook-Davison from the Institute of Natural Sciences at Albany said. He made the discovery after a two-year project analysing ancient DNA from museum specimens of the extinct New Zealand quail and living Australian brown quails. New Zealand quail were declared extinct by 1875. The Australian brown quail was introduced as a game bird to replace it.
WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – The Commerce Commission has laid charges against Vodafone alleging breaches of fair trading law in broadband and mobile phone advertising campaigns as far back as 2006. Vodafone has taken umbrage at the move, releasing a statement claiming a strong track record for innovation in the New Zealand market. “This legal action feels to us like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,”Mark Rushworth,Vodafone’s director of marketing, said. “We are surprised by this action,”he said. The lawsuit relates to six advertising campaigns. Vodafone said it had addressed issues when raised by customers or the commission. The commission said the charges related to representations made by Vodafone regarding the extent of the coverage of its wireless broadband network in its everywhere marketing campaign between October 2006 and April 2008. They also relate to advertising relating to the availability of a $10 free airtime credit for custom-
NZ dollar closes little changed
ers who registered their details on Vodafone’s website between May 2007 and September 2008 and the cost of using the Vodafone Live mobile internet service between February 2007 and August 2008. The cost of using a $1 per day casual data charge for the mobile internet service between July 2008 and November 2008, and the size of Vodafone’s mobile phone or 3G mobile phone network between September 2008 and February 2009 is also being disputed. The charges also relate to the price of a Sony Ericsson W200 mobile phone between July and August 2007. “We take these allegations seriously and have co-operated with the commission throughout.We have never deliberately misled our customers,” Mr Rushworth said. “We strive to deliver great value and outcomes for customers. It has always been our practice to work with our customers to continually improve our processes and explanations around our offers.” The commission is a regulator of both competition and fair trading issues.
WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – The New Zealand dollar was steady today due to little direction from global markets. The dollar traded at a high of US75.98c and low of US75.56c, closing at US75.61c at 5pm from US75.25c at the same time yesterday. BNZ Capital currency strategist Danica Hampton said lack of fresh information and people settling down for the long weekend caused the local dollar to stay stable. But BNZ expects the NZ dollar to be knocked down next week with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s review of the official cash rate on Thursday. The money market is anticipating rate rises over time but BNZ doesn’t expect the central bank to move next week. ` `We do see a readjustment of those interest rates,”said Miss Hampton. The NZ dollar closed at 0.5031 euro at 5pm from 0.5020 at 5pm yesterday, and lifted slightly to 69.24 yen from 68.57 yen. Against the Australian dollar, the NZ dollar went down to A81.42c from A81.83c at local open at 8am. The trade weighted index eased to 67.50 at 5pm from 67.23.
Rubberworkers to hit the road
Sharemarket firm for Labour weekend FILM TO START SHOOTING IN NZ WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – A major motion picture starring leading British actor Ray Winstone starts shooting next week in New Zealand. Tracker stars Winstone who featured in the Oscarwinning Martin Scorsese film The Departed and New Zealander Temuera Morrison of Once Were Warriors, as a Boer War soldier and a Maori seafarer. The soldier is hunting for a bounty. Englishman Ian Sharp directs the film described as a tense action thriller. Part of the shooting will take place in scenic mountain areas near Queenstown from mid-November. Tracker is a British and New Zealand co-production. WGTON COUNCIL TAKES OVER CARTER OBSERVATORY WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – Wellington’s Carter Observatory will soon be in city council hands. The Carter Observatory Act Repeal Bill passed its first reading in Parliament last night. It provides for observatory assets to be handed over to the Wellington City Council. The Government provided $2.2 million for the move from Crown ownership. The council has been managing the observatory since 2007. It is being refurbished and is due to reopen early next year. Research, Science and Technology Minister Wayne Mapp said the observatory has evolved from a national research place to focus on public education about space. Parliament established the observatory in 1938 with funds gifted by Charles Rooking Carter. It opened in 1941. PASSENGER NUMBERS DOWN AT WELLINGTON WELLINGTON, OCT 23 NZPA – Passenger numbers were down 2 percent in September at Wellington Airport but available seats were down 7.7 percent, indicating average load factors increased materially. An update by majority owner Infratil also noted international passenger numbers rose 3 percent, while domestic numbers fell 2.6 percent. Infratil said Air New Zealand’s domestic fare reductions were a positive development for the airport. NZPA WGT pjg nb
WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – The New Zealand sharemarket was firm today ahead of the long holiday weekend. There was good volume in Pyne Gould Corp existing shares today with 3 million trading and the price ending at 44. The company raised $30 million in a placement with institutions at 43c on Thursday. The ACC disclosed a 6.61 percent stake in the company today and holdings by other institutions are expected to emerge as a result of the company’s recent capital raisings. Overall, the market edged ahead with gains across a broad range of stocks. The benchmark NZSX-50 index closed up 13.238 points, or 0.413 percent, at 3214.934.Turnover was worth $107.88 million. There were 56 rises and 24 falls among the 113 stocks traded. “It’s been a reasonable day across the board. New Zealand has probably lagged to some extent,”said Adrian Vance, director at Hamilton, Hindin, Greene. “Volume has been good on a couple of stocks.” Fletcher Building rose 10c to 842,Telecom rose 1c to 250, and Contact Energy rose 9c to 628. Yesterday ,Telecom fell 6c, Fletcher Building fell 8c, and Contact dropped 8c after holding its annual meeting. NZ Refining Co rose 10c to 555, adding to a 15c gain yesterday. Mainfreight was unchanged at 560.Toll Holdings of Australia announced the purchase of freight forwarders Express Logistics today. Dual-listed Telstra fell 5c to 387.
SkyCity fell 5c to 339, after falling 2c yesterday when $18.7m worth of its shares traded. Vector shares were up 1c to 201 after the company said that in line with expectations growth in overall connections fell in the first quarter, compared to a year earlier, and overall energy volumes were down. Port of Tauranga fell 15c to 705 on light volume and Infratil fell 2c to 161. Tower rose 3c to 171, Hellaby also rose 3c to 171 and Restaurant Brands rose 6c to 155. Also up were Pike River Coal 1c to 115, TrustPower 5c to 755, Auckland Airport 1c to 200 and SkyTV 2c to 480. There were 1.48 million Smartpay shares traded and the stock rose 0.3c to 4.8. In the United States, stocks rose after several companies reported solid earnings that lent credence to the idea corporate profitability has stabilised. Financials were among the top gainers after insurer Travelers Cos Inc raised its full-year outlook and New York Fed president William Dudley said the Federal Reserve may not lose money on the emergency programmes it put in place to fight the financial crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.3 percent to end at 10,081.31, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.1 percent to 1092.91, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 14.56 0.7 percent to 2165.29.
WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – The closure of Christchurch’s Bridgestone tyre factory has left many workers devastated, their union says. The closure, set to take place at Christmas, will see 275 people lose their jobs. Bridgestone Rubberworkers union secretary Kerry Pearce said the company had said it would pay out full redundancy and holiday entitlements. Workers had a redundancy agreement of seven weeks pay for the first year of employment and two weeks for each following year, uncapped.“There’s a lot of history on this site with some members having worked here forty-five years and some being the second and third generation of their families to have worked here, so it is a very sad day for all of us.” Bridgestone had also said it would help staff find other employment, he said. “They are going to speak with support services and they are getting hold of government departments to come and chat with people. “There’s a lot to be negotiated between now and closure, actually.” Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell said the announcement was a blow to workers. “We’re not happy with the way this has been done just hours before Labour weekend started...” Bridgestone’s owners in Japan announced the closure of two plants today, blaming intensifying cost competition globally. The other plant to close is in Adelaide,Australia, where 600 jobs will be axed. The Papanui plant is one of the biggest employers in the Christchurch area.The factory opened in 1947 and produced the first tyre in New Zealand.
Charges laid over failed finance company WELLINGTON, OCT 23 – The Serious Fraud Office has laid charges against two men atAuckland District Court for their roles in a failed motor vehicle finance company. National Finance 2000 Ltd collapsed in 2006 owing investors more than $21 million.Three years later, director Allan Ludlow and a second man who has interim name suppression face charge s. The defendant whose name is suppressed is charged with making false entries in a statement to auditors and incorrectly recording the payments of a property in Fiji.
Both men face a joint charge of lending $1.3m to related parties, breaching the company’s trust deed, and two other charges of lending more than $2.6m to related parties, in amounts that exceed the 2 percent prescribed ratio of the company’s total tangible assets. As required under the Securities Act and Regulations, National Finance operated under the terms of a trust deed, common to all finance companies. The trust deed laid restrictions on how investors’ money could be used, to whom it could be lent, and how much could be lent to parties relating to direc-
tors, such as spouses and relatives. SFO director Grant Liddell said there were several investigations looking into failed finance companies. “Where offending is disclosed, the Serious Fraud Office is determined that such offending will be prosecuted with the full force of the law,”he said. “Dishonestly using investors’ funds contrary to terms of the trust deed is a criminal offence and it will be prosecuted where available evidence exists.” – NZPA
23 October 2009
Leopards don’t change their spots The news this week that Helen Clark has been misbehaving politically in New York at the United Nations will come as no surprise to readers of the unauthorized biography,Absolute Power. Clark has set tongues wagging in the US press corps that covers United Nations events, by her steadfast refusal to hold any news conferences at all. It is unprecedented for the number three executive at the UN to be so invisible to the media. Well, invisible isn’t quite the word, and this is where the misbehavior comes in. As New York journalist Matthew Lee told National Radio this week, Clark’s mini-me, H2, Heather Simpson, has
been screening media access to Clark, only allowing those who’ve been handpicked by Clark or her team access to the Great One. It might have worked with a tame and gullible parish pump New Zealand media, but it’s not going down so well in New York. Over there, the media don’t like being told which of their journalists is ‘permitted’ to approach the throne. Surprisingly, the story hasn’t gained media trac-
By Bob McCoskrie
tion in New Zealand beyond National Radio and a brief column in the National Business Review. Although the UN has now leapt to Clark’s defence, seasoned Clark-watchers know the pattern only too well – an empire is being built, networks are forming, and Clark fully intends to control proceedings. As commenters at David Farrar’s Kiwiblog have noted, this fiasco could yet come back to bite New Zealand on the backside if Clark becomes further identified with the NZ brand. And that would be a shame. Still, don’t let it spoil your Labour weekend. SUBSCRIBE TO TGIF!
What screamers lack: The art of persuasion By Mark Bowden The Philadelphia Inquirer
We are living in a time when honest discussion is often drowned out by the noise of partisan cheerleading. More and more, cable TV shows, blogs, radio stations, Web sites and magazines exist to openly advocate a political agenda, ideology, candidate or product. Journalistic institutions are in decline, and many professional reporters are looking for new careers. As an old reporter who has done his share of railing against this trend, I thought today I might try going with the flow, and offer some advice to the legions of advocates who are fast replacing my profession. So listen up, you partisan bloggers, angry mass e-mailers and assorted media pontificators (I mean you, Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh,Ann Coulter, etc., etc.). If your aim is to do something more than to draw attention to yourself and increase your ratings (which, alas, rules out the above list), if your goal is to actually move the world in your desired direction, I have a new word for you:“Persuasion.” It is one thing to give a speech before a cheering crowd of supporters, to blog or broadcast to an eager audience of the like-minded, and quite another to address someone who disagrees with you and actually change his mind.The former is what we get from partisan mouthpieces, a plague of our age, and the latter is something of a lost art.The former is easy; the latter is hard. Hard, but not hopeless. My first encounter with the basics of this lost art was a man of my father’s generation who had begun his working life as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. I told him that sounded like a very difficult and unpleasant job, knocking on doors and trying to sell something most people already had. “Not at all,”he told me, as I recall the conversation.“It was a great job. Where’s the challenge of standing around the appliance section in a department store, selling to people who have already come in looking to buy? The challenge was turning ‘no’ into ‘yes.’I was good at it, and I learned lessons that have helped me throughout my life.” The quick lessons he offered in salesmanship I later found spelled out in greater detail in the disciplines of classical rhetoric. Persuasion is an art. It draws on an understanding of human nature and a facility for empathy, for seeing and understanding how the other guy feels. The door-to-door pitch my old friend memorized contained the basics. Rule One is to be likable. Be presentable. Be pleasant. Say something nice, tell a joke or a self-deprecating story, put your potential customer at ease, let them know you appreciate their point of view; i.e.,“You must be sick of people trying to sell you things.”
In political argument this means acknowledging up front whatever truth or strength there is in an opposing point of view. It’s there. Smart people disagree with you for a host of reasons, some of them good. Graciously give ground where you can, such as, for Republican diehards,“You know, I’d have to agree that the Bush administration poorly handled that Katrina flooding,”or, say, a pro-choice advocate in the abortion debate, who might concede at the outset that ending a pregnancy is a graver matter than having a tooth pulled. The worst thing you can do is begin with an insult, as do so many of the e-mails I receive after stating an unpopular opinion, those that begin with, to use printable terms, “You are a blithering idiot.”You might as well stop writing at that point, because no one is going to bother sticking around for the rest of your pitch. For the door-to-door man, it means the door has just slammed in your face. The salesman next would make his pitch. It wasn’t enough to say how wonderful the product was, he had to show the customer how wonderful it was. He was well-trained for this, armed with a tried-and-true pitch, which he knew word-for-word. That was the easy part. Next came the inevitable objections:“I just bought a vacuum cleaner,” or “I can’t afford it.”My old friend’s company had done an amazingly good job, he said, of preparing him for every conceivable obstacle to the sale. “It was very rare for a customer to offer a reason not to buy that I could not answer,”he said.“If they already had a vacuum cleaner, this one was better. If they couldn’t afford it, we had easy payment plans.You name it, whatever objection they raised, I was ready.” This is the hardest lesson for advocates to learn.To persuade, you must anticipate and refute objections.
IT IS ONE THING TO GIVE A SPEECH BEFORE A CHEERING CROWD OF SUPPORTERS, TO BLOG OR BROADCAST TO AN EAGER AUDIENCE OF THE LIKEMINDED, AND QUITE ANOTHER TO ADDRESS SOMEONE WHO DISAGREES WITH YOU AND ACTUALLY CHANGE HIS MIND It means exposing your convictions in advance to thorough, skeptical scrutiny.This is a lot harder than making emphatic statements of belief designed, consciously or not, to draw cheers from those already in your camp, which is what passes for political argument for the loudest voices in public debate. Being persuasive is hard, because it demands you consider, even if only momentarily, for purposes of argument, you might be wrong. For anything beyond closing the sale of a vacuum cleaner, it requires broadening your mind.To refute opposing points of view capably (and winningly) means you must first be willing to listen to them.To really hear opposing points of view, you must make yourself open to them. There’s a catch here. Sometimes you might find that after really “hearing an opposing viewpoint, you can’t refute it.Then you must do the unthinkable: Change our own mind. Grow. Mark Bowden is a journalist and author, most recently of The Best Game Ever. He wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
-Secret health letter angers parents It is hugely concerning that doctors and practice nurses are contacting young teenagers with information on the Gardasil vaccine without the knowledge or consent of parents. A Christchurch parent has contacted Family First objecting to a letter sent directly to their just-turned 13 year old daughter encouraging her to make an appointment to receive the Gardasil vaccine. The letter offers advice to be sought from the Practice Nurse, but not from the parents. Parents are right to be offended and completely outraged by this approach. It is incredible that a parent has to sign a letter for their child to go on a trip to the zoo or to be excused from wearing their PE gear at school, but can be completely ignored when their daughter is accessing a vaccine, contraception, or even an abortion. This completely undermines the important role of parents, and places children as independent decision makers on issues that parents should be involved in – especially for the long term safety and welfare of the child. Some teenagers may simply not have the maturity or knowledge to make these important health decisions. We’re calling on the government and the Ministry of Health to respect the role of parents, and to keep parents fully informed and an integral part of the consent process in decisions affecting the health and welfare of their own children.
-Speak up on alcohol laws It’s essential that family groups and community organisations to make submissions to the Law Commission as part of their review of the liquor laws. The culture of harmful drinking amongst some New Zealanders has massive consequences for families and children. If we really want to tackle important issues like child abuse and violence, including family violence, the harm of alcohol abuse is an obvious place to start. Every report on child abuse and family violence says that alcohol abuse is a major contributing factor. A child is hugely at risk when an adult is under the influence of alcohol, and a recent survey by Massey University found that more than half of our sexual and physical assaults occurred whilst the offender was under the influence of alcohol. Our teenagers are binge drinking at an earlier age, and our health and justice system is clogged up with the fallout from our drinking culture. In 1989 and then again in 1999, the politicians increased the availability of alcohol in our communities with more alcohol outlets and increased trading hours, lowered the drinking age, and have since failed to respond to the concerns of families regarding the harm of alcohol despite glaringly obvious problems. The Law Commission review is our opportunity to demand changes in our liquor laws which will better protect families. Some of these changes include reduced marketing and advertising of alcohol, reducing alcohol accessibility and trading hours, raising the tax on alcohol, raising the drinking age, stronger penalties for selling to underage, penalties for public drunkenness, increased treatment opportunities, and health warnings on alcohol products and advertising which has worked so effectively with tobacco use. SUBMISSIONS CLOSE NEXT FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER READ Family First NZ Submission
-Govt announces ‘confusing’ referendum The upcoming Referendum on the MMP Voting System announced by the government is confusing, and voters will not be able to cope with so many choices at the next Election. The question ‘do voters want to retain MMP’ is confusing because a voter wanting change in the Electoral system will have to vote NO. It’s a pretty weird referendum when yes means no and no means yes. Perhaps Dr Seuss could help re-word the question! Not only that, voters will have to think about what political party and local electorate politician they want to vote for at the next general election, but now they also have to vote on the whole electoral system. According to the previous Labour government, voters will simply not be able to cope with this decision making ‘pressure’, and the Electoral system will not be able to cope with counting so many votes. However it’s great that the Government is acknowledging the important of democracy by committing to accepting the result of the first Referendum. This is real democracy in action. Sign Up Now to receive FREE regular updates about the issues affecting families in NZ http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/
23 October 2009
Tides of Men: migration in the 21st Century By Peter Curson
At the commencement of the 21 century migration looms large as an issue of great debate and political controversy. The vast majority of the world’s 6.8 billion people will never leave home or cross a national border. Most people will choose to live and die in their country of birth. Despite this, the number of international migrants has reached an all time high with well over 200 million crossing international borders last year. Possibly 4% of the world’s population left their country of birth or citizenship in 2008 for an absence of one year or more. Many left permanently in search of a new life. Such population movement has reconfigured the world we live in and radically altered the population structure of many nations.There seems little doubt that the homogenous nature of many states has changed beyond recognition and that migration has transformed the world. Many developed countries have changed from major sources of emigration to attractive destinations for immigrants from developing countries. Over the last few decades, Moroccans have moved to the Netherlands and Belgium, North and West Africans to France and Spain, Turks to Germany, Africans, Asians and Poles to Britain, Asians and Pacific Islanders to Australia and New Zealand and Mexicans to the USA. Some moved as skilled labour, but many initially moved as labourers to work in coal mines, on farms, or to sweep the streets and do the labouring jobs that locals did not want to do. Others moved as students on temporary visas, while some sought asylum of refuge. Finally,some made the journey as illegal migrants. In 2008 possibly 15% of all those who migrated were illegal.Many faced extraordinary challenges in making the journey such as the 32,000 who managed to reach Spain’s Canary Islands last year. In the same journey, an estimated 6,000 drowned or died of malnutrition while trying to navigate the waters. Roughly 30 years ago, Moroccans and Turks barely totalled 48,000 in the Netherlands. Today, the figure is probably well over 700,000. In Germany, Turkish migrants totalled 616,000 in 1973. Today, the figure is well over 2.6 million. North Africans in France provide a spectacular example of the demographic impact of immigration. In the late 1950s there were roughly 313,000.Today the figure is nearer 4 million. Such movements of people have radically transformed the ethnic, religious and cultural nature of many societies. Take the case of New Zealand, for example. In 1945 almost 94% of the population could be classified as European, with Maoris making up about 6%. At the last census in 2006, Europest
ans made up only 72%, Maoris 16%, Asians 10% and Pacific Islanders an additional 7% of the total population. Critically, not all areas in New Zealand have participated equally in this migrant revolution. Compare, for example, the experience of the Auckland region with that of Tasman. In the former’s case, 56.5% of the population were classified as European, 11% Maori, 18.9% Asian and 14.4% Pacific Islander. In Tasman the rates were 83%, 7.1%, 1.3% and 0.8% respectively. The US also illustrates the demographic impact of immigration. Each year more than 500,000 illegal Mexicans cross the border in search of the American dream. In total there are probably more than 6.5 million illegal Mexicans in the US and 27 million Americans list their ancestry as Mexican. By 2050 Hispanics will probably comprise almost one quarter of the US population. Some years ago National Geographic described migration as ‘the dynamic undertow of population change, everyone’s solution, everyone’s conflict.’Such a statement sums up the ambivalence to migrants seen in many developed countries. Attitudes to the rising number of migrants in developed nations vary. On the one hand various organisations such as the Catholic Church and the World Bank lobby for more migration on the basis that people should not be confined to the countries of their birth by national borders, and that migration is an essential component of economic growth and development. Others argue that the migration of young adults to developed countries is a critical ingredient in bolstering declining work forces brought about by falling fertility and rapid population ageing among the host population. At the other extreme, in many European countries particularly in Europe, people and organisations are calling for sharp reductions in immigration largely on the basis that immigrants were ‘not wanted’ and that their presence threatened the concept of a culturally homogeneous state with a common language, culture, traditions and history.To others, migration is seen as one of the forces eroding the power of the nation-state.This they argue is to be seen in the problem of protecting the nation’s borders against illegal migrant flows. Still others remain concerned about the spread of radical Islam among the descendants of early guest workers who were expected to leave when their job contract finished rather than remain permanently. Successive waves of immigrants have produced a veritable sea of descendants and today Muslims constitute the majority of immigrants in many Western European countries. Possibly as many as 20 million now call Europe home. The National Front in France and various organisations in Britain and Belgium have been
MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETIES IS NOT A SITUATION EASILY EMBRACED BY MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. MANY CONTINUE TO DRAW DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN CITIZENS OF EUROPEAN DESCENT AND OTHERS. THIS HAS HELPED CONTRIBUTE TO WIDESPREAD IMMIGRANT SEGREGATION IN HOUSING AND THE JOB MARKET
particularly strident in calling for, not only a halt in immigration, but also for sending migrants back to their home countries. Several countries have tried unsuccessfully to convince immigrants to leave their new homes and go ‘home’ by offering a variety of financial incentives. A recent program in France in 2005 ended in total failure. Some of the countries contributing to the migrant flow have also come to realise that the loss of skills and expertise outweighs any short-term benefits from remittance flows and have tried to discourage emigration, with so far relatively little success. One plus that immigration has delivered to many European countries, however, is that it is transforming fertility. In Britain, for example, women were having an average 1.6 children in 2001. In 2008 this had increased to 1.96 – still below replacement level of 2.1 but edging closer. For the first time in 10 years the UK’s birth rate has played a bigger role in overall population growth than net migration. The reason – immigration. Almost one quarter of all births were to immigrant women.There are now more women of childbearing age, and they have come from Africa and Eastern Europe to make Britain their home. Polish migrants illustrate what has happened. In 2005 there were 3,403 births to Polish women in the UK. In 2008 there were 16,101. In the US and France much the same has happened and birth rates are now at their highest for 20-30 years. The number of international migrants is at an all time high and the flow shows no sign of abating. In fact, the number is likely to increase over the next few decades.The migration of people from the underdeveloped world to developed countries
raises a host of questions. These include – should migration be considered a ‘natural’or ‘normal’part of human behaviour that has occurred throughout history, or should it be seen as an ‘unnatural’activity that brings disruption, discord and conflict? And is migration a process that will strengthen nations rather than weaken them? And finally, is migration critical to economic growth both in the remittances it sends ‘home’, and in the skills, technology and labour in delivers to developed countries? Migration thus poses a myriad of challenges with widespread policy implications for all countries. Multi-ethnic societies is not a situation easily embraced by many European countries. Many continue to draw distinctions between citizens of European descent and others. This has helped contribute to widespread immigrant segregation in housing and the job market, with many living in impoverished ethnic enclaves feeling like third class citizens. The security implications of migration also loom large. It is the sovereign right of all countries to decide who enters their borders and remains. The question of how to achieve this in an era of mass human movement while protecting a nation’s borders from illegal arrivals and terrorism remains an unresolved issue. Finally, there is the overriding fear that disenfranchised and disillusioned by the failure of integration, some European Muslims will consider taking up jihad against the West. There seems little doubt that debate on such things will rage for some time yet. Peter Curson is Professor in Population & Security, at the Centre for International Security Studies, Faculty of Economics & Business, the University of Sydney. He is also a TGIF Edition subscriber
Police hold Indonesian people smuggler CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – Indonesian police are holding a suspected people smuggler whose wretched boats were intercepted recently by Indonesian and Canadian authorities. Abraham Lauhenapessy was discovered hiding among the 255 asylum-seekers on board a 90-foot wooden boat.The Jaya Lestari 5 was towed by the navy into the western Java port of Merak just over a week ago. Lauhenapessy is a known high-level Indonesian people smuggler who was released from an Indonesian jail in June after serving two years for human trafficking. Australian Federal Police have been keeping tabs on Lauhenapessy, 49, since his release from jail, according to a report in The Australian newspaper. He organized the latest trip aboard the Lestari 5 for a Malaysia-based ethnic Tamil people smuggler named Ruben, according to the investigators’record of evidence obtained by The Australian. Some of the crew of the Lestari 5 told police that Lauhenapessy was supposed to have gotten off the vessel with several other Indonesian crew members
as it neared Christmas Island where Australia has set up camps for boat people hoping to be allowed into Australia. But a rendezvous ship never arrived, so Lauhenapessy was stuck on board, the report said. He along with fellow Indonesians Mansur Mamero, 50, and the captain, James Israel, 43, John Palele, 53, Ramses Kathiandago, 56, and Alfrits Mashaganti, 44, are in custody. The Tamil refugees on the Lestari 5 still want to reach Australia, and some went on a three-day hunger strike last week. Lauhenapessy is also wanted by Canadian authorities concerning a boat with refugees taken to the Pacific coast Canadian city of Vancouver last week. The Canadian naval frigate HMCS Regina intercepted the motor vessel Ocean Lady ship off the west coast of the island.The 76 illegal migrants on the rusting vessel reportedly paid their smugglers up to $45,000 each for a new life in Canada, the so-called Canadian Option, one of the migrants on the Ocean Lady explained.
The suspected asylum seekers are now being held in a jail in the city, according to the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper. One of the illegal migrants on the Lestari 5 boat in Merak, Indonesia, is said to have identified the Ocean Lady as one of several boats under contract to Lauhenapessy. The person said they took Lauhenapessy’s so-called Australian option because at $15,000 it was cheaper than the trip to Canada aboard Ocean Lady. The news comes as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is expected to arrive in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta for talks on strategies to halt the illegal trade of smuggling people to Australia. Rudd is expected to offer more money to Indonesia to improve its maritime surveillance and interception of refugee boats, The Australian newspaper report said. He may offer to relocate some of the current asylum seekers within Indonesia to third countries. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration is negotiating with the refugees on the Lestari 5 in the port of Merak to leave their boat and
move into temporary nearby shelter, the Jakarta Post newspaper reports. Indonesia has yet to ratify the U.N. Convention on Refugees that defines refugee status for migrants. This means Indonesian officials are unsure of what they can and can’t do with the boat people, whose status in the country is not clear,the Jakarta Post said. If they are deemed to be illegal visitors then Indonesia could repatriate them. But if they are declared refugees or asylum seekers they then might have claims to stay in Indonesia or be sent to a third country willing to accept them. The IOM said it is also in discussions with Indonesia’s Foreign and Justice ministries about the next step for the boat people. The IOM was set up in 1951 as an intergovernmental organization to work closely with governments and other intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to resettle refugees. It has nearly 130 member states, and 17 states hold observer status. – UPI
23 October 2009
Key flies into political maelstrom in Thailand By Ian Llewellyn of NZPA
HUA HIN, THAILAND, OCT 23 – Prime Minister John Key will be flying into a political whirlwind when he arrives in Thailand tonight for this weekend’s East Asia Summit. Security is intense with more than 18,000 soldiers and police still guarding the seaside resort of Hua Hin with military helicopters patrolling the sky and naval ships off the coast. This is despite pledges from the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) that its supporters will not disrupt the summit. The red shirt clad protesters invaded the last summit and forced an embarrassed Thai government to call it off and airlift many leaders out. However, the UDD is still sending leader Arisman Pongruengrong and supporters to submit a petition to a representative of leaders of the Association of South East Nations (Asean) tonight. They are proposing to do that at the edge of the cordon zone, many miles from Hua Hin. The zone has been set up under tough security laws which essentially ban protest and impose restraints on movement. The UDD supports ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has again returned to the centre of local politics with news that neighbouring Cambodia is willing to let him live there. Mr Thaksin has been living in Dubai since a court ordered him jailed for fraud, a charge he denies. Thailand and Cambodia already have a tense relationship and the border is heavily militarised due to border disputes and there is talk of extraditing the former PM if he does return to the region. The current Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said he will not let the offer of a new home to
his political rival by Cambodia taint the 10-member summit under way today. On his arrival Mr Key will also be told that the Asean leaders are united in their calls for developed nations to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before asking the developing world to cut theirs. The Government is currently watering down an emissions trading scheme, though Mr Key will argue it is still going further than many countries. After the Asean summit today, Asean leaders begin a weekend of meetings with the leaders of New Zealand China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Trade is at the top of the agenda with the Asean members reviewing their progress towards an internal free trade zone. Its six main countries – Brunei,Indonesia,Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – are meant to reach free trade status between themselves by 2010 with poorer and later members Cambodia,Laos,Myanmar and Vietnam reaching that point by 2015. It looks unlikely countries will meet those targets with many calling for a slowdown of the removal of trade barriers especially in sensitive areas such as rice and other crops. Asean has already signed trade deals with New Zealand, Australia and other countries in the proposed bloc, but it wants to go further still to form a “Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia”known as Cepea. It is estimated that tariff elimination and the reduction of other trade barriers in Cepea would lift New Zealand’s GDP by $500 million or 2 percent. EastAsia Summit countries currently take 52 percent of New Zealand’s exports worth $28 billion in 2008. Ian Llewellyn travelled to the East Asia Summit with the assistance of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
Mystery blasts in Lebanon heighten tension BEIRUT, LEBANON, OCT. 23 – Mysterious explosions in South Lebanon, reportedly involving covert Israeli operations to eavesdrop on Hezbollah’s secret communications network, have heightened tension after two alleged guerrilla arms dumps were blown up in recent weeks. Israeli media reports have implied that Israeli Special Forces teams were responsible for the wiretapping operations a mile or more inside Lebanese territory where Hezbollah is thick on the ground, and were behind the explosions at the supposed arms caches. There is, of course, no conclusive evidence that Israel commandos were responsible for any of these incidents, presumably intended to unnerve Hezbollah as it rebuilds its military forces after its 2006 war with Israel. But for some weeks, the Israeli military has been claiming that Hezbollah has an estimated 300 arms caches hidden in houses and other civilian buildings in most of the 160 villages, almost exclusively Shiite, dotted around the panhandle south of the Litani River, a Hezbollah stronghold. The Israelis have repeatedly claimed that the Lebanese army, deployed in the Shiite-dominated south under the U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended the 34-day 2006 war, and the 13,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in the south have done nothing to eliminate these alleged dumps, which violate Security Council Resolution 1701. So, analysts suspect, they may be doing it themselves. Since 2006 the Israelis have conducted a major intensification of their intelligence-gathering operations in Lebanon. Since late 2008 Lebanese security authorities and Hezbollah’s counter-intelligence apparatus have rounded up some 70 suspected agents – nearly all Lebanese citizens – who allegedly were spying for Israel’s intelligence services. Their main mission was to track and locate
Lebanese Moslem Shiite women carry posters of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut’s southern suburbs / UPI Photo
senior Hezbollah commanders and officials, their safe houses and command centers, as well as the movement’s arsenals, particularly its underground missile depots. These cells, which included a retired general in the internal security service, two serving army colonels and a former mayor, were also involved in the assassination of several Hezbollah leaders and Palestinian radicals in recent years, according to Lebanese authorities. One of the main targets of this vast espionage
operation inside Lebanon, unprecedented in its scope and intensity, was to penetrate the elaborate fiber-optic communications system Hezbollah has constructed to boost its capabilities in any future conflict with Israel. This has been done since 2006, linking the southern front along the border north to Beirut and on to the Hezbollah heartland in the Bekaa Valley in the northwest of the country along the border with Syria, a vital supply route for arms and supplies. The Lebanese army has said that the Israelis
destroyed two wiretapping devices themselves with remote-controlled explosive charges once they had been uncovered in south Lebanon Saturday and Sunday. A third device was blown up by Lebanese troops. The widespread arrests have undoubtedly seriously damaged Israel’s intelligence capabilities inside Lebanon. Arab military analysts suspect that the Israelis are having to engage in more aggressive and innovative tactics to keep Hezbollah off balance while trying to rebuild its secret agent networks in Lebanon – no easy task with so many operatives rounded up. It is difficult to determine whether the Israelis are engaging in actual covert operations or simply seeking to spook Hezbollah with some pyrotechnics and a lot of disinformation in the twilight war in South Lebanon. Hezbollah can no longer deny that a mysterious hand is at work destroying its weapons depots and the logistical infrastructure it has installed in South Lebanon.They believe this hand belongs to the Israeli army’s special operations units, according to Debkafile, an Israeli Web site. It specializes in security matters and is widely seen in the Arab world as a conduit for Israeli intelligence to dispense disinformation. Still, the events of recent weeks have caused some jitters in the south, for decades the only hot front in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel occupied the south from March 1978 to May 2000, when it unilaterally withdrew under constant Hezbollah attack. With Hezbollah currently armed with some 40,000 rockets – by Israeli count – that would be unleashed if Iran, Hezbollah’s master, was ever attacked, Israel will go on probing, and provoking, Hezbollah to spy out the changing battle space in south Lebanon. Expect more mysterious explosions. – UPI
in 60 seconds BRITISH BOBBIES COULD SOON BE ARMED LONDON, OCT. 23 (UPI) – London’s famed Metropolitan Police plan to put armed officers on routine street patrol for the first time, officials said today. The proposal is a response to a rise in gang violence and shootings in some neighborhoods, The Independent reported. Officials say the number of gun crimes rose 17 percent in the past six months, continuing a trend that began after tougher gun laws were brought in more than a decade ago. Under the plan, officers from the specialist firearms unit, which has the code name CO19, would go on patrol with unarmed neighborhood officers in areas, including housing projects, where gun violence is most prevalent. Since the first police forces were created in Britain in the 19th century, patrol officers have never routinely carried firearms. Some members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which supervises the police, openly opposed the plan. They said they had not been consulted. “We want fewer guns on the streets not more, and people to feel safe in their community – not scared of those who are supposed to protect them,” Joanne McCartney, a member of the MPA, said. OBAMA WANTS NAVY RUNNING ON FLOWER POWER SAN DIEGO, OCT. 23 (UPI) – U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus promises a greener fleet using 50 percent less fossil fuel by 2020. In a speech to the San Diego Military Advisory Council, Mabus said even Navy planes may soon run on fuel produced from biological sources, The San Diego UnionTribune reported. He said the China Lake Naval Weapons Station in California already relies on geothermal energy, using only 5 percent of what it produces. Mabus said fuel efficiency will be the goal on land and at sea as well as in the air. Specific plans include a strike force of nuclear-powered vessels by 2016, switching to hybrids and electric vehicles for cars and trucks and using renewable energy sources for bases. “If the Navy has a demand for it, the technology will come,” he said. The Navy is turning to the ocean for biofuel, with a plan to convert marine algae. The F/A-18 Hornet, which runs on biofuel, is scheduled to be part of a carrier wing within three years and to become a standard fighter by 2016. NWA FLIGHT OVERSHOT AIRPORT BY 150 MILES MINNEAPOLIS – A Northwest Airbus A320 flying from San Diego overshot its Twin Cities destination by about 150 miles on Wednesday, apparently when the crew became distracted, the National Transportation Safety Board said today. The Wall Street Journal reported that the NTSB was investigating whether the pilots had fallen asleep. Delta Airlines, which operates Northwest Airlines, said in a statement: “The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority. We are cooperating with the FAA and NTSB in their investigation as well as conducting our own internal investigation. The pilots have been relieved from active flying pending the completion of these investigations.” The NTSB said Flight 188 was operating without radio contact at about 37,000 feet at about 7 p.m. The flight had 147 passengers and five crew members. It overshot Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 7:58 p.m. The plane few over the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and continued 150 miles northeast into Wisconsin. Air traffic controllers re-established contact 8:14 p.m. NAZI WAR CRIME SUSPECT FIGHTS EXTRADITION PERTH, AUSTRALIA, OCT. 23 (UPI) – An 88-year-old immigrant in Australia accused of a Nazi war crime during World War II has turned himself in to police but vows to fight extradition to Hungary. Charles Zentai denies he murdered a Jewish teenager in November 1944 while serving in the Hungarian army. Zentai allegedly beat 18-year-old Peter Balasz to death in an army barracks for not wearing a yellow star on a train and dumped his body in the Danube River. The star was a cloth patch with the word Jude in the middle that Jews were ordered to sew onto their outer clothing to mark them as Jews in public. It was intended to be a badge of shame associated with anti-Semitism and failure to wear it was a crime punishable by death. Zentai was tracked down by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is heading the effort to send him to Hungary to face a military tribunal.
23 October 2009
Obama clamps down on salaries WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama’s administration has announced a dramatic clampdown on executive salaries at seven major companies that have been bailed out by the government. The Treasury Department will demand massive cuts in compensation from the top 25 executives at seven financial firms that owe the government hundreds of billions of dollars. Cash salaries for executives will be slashed more than 90 per cent on average and set at a maximum of 500,000 dollars per year.Any other salary or incentives will have to be paid in company stock, which cannot be cashed until 2011 at the earliest. The aim is to closely align an executive’s performance with that of the company, while also striking a balance that will not drive good executives out of the beleaguered firms. The Treasury said total compensation, which includes being paid in stocks, will be cut more than 50 per cent on average. The decision will curb the massive salaries that served as a lightning-rod for public anger over the financial crisis, which helped push the world economy into its worst recession in decades. “We don’t disparage wealth,”Obama said at the White House.“But it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms – firms that are struggling – pay themselves huge bonuses, even as they
continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat.” The new rules are the result of months of work by Kenneth Feinberg, a Treasury official who was charged with going person-by-person through the salaries of 175 executives. The salary caps only apply to major companies that have yet to pay back government loans received since last year. They are American International Group (AIG), Citigroup and Bank of America, as well as carmakers General Motors,Chrysler and their two financial arms, GMAC and Chrysler Financial. There was one major exception: AIG insisted it had a contractual obligation to pay out controversial cash“retention”bonuses of up to 2.5 million dollars to three of its top executives. Feinberg said there was nothing he could do to prevent the payments. The rules apply only for November and December and will be re-evaluated at the start of 2010, but Feinberg said his decisions would serve as a basis for the coming year. He also said the rules could act as a blueprint for compensation at other Wall Street firms. “In order to retain talent, let’s give these officials a stake in the future financial success of the company,” Feinberg told reporters.“I would like to think that these standards ... will be voluntarily picked up in market places.” The caps vary widely between the seven compa-
nies. Banking giant Citigroup’s total compensation was cut by nearly 70 per cent, amounting to 272 million dollars in savings. General Motors by contrast will have its compensation cut less than 25 per cent, or by 5.6 million dollars in total. Feinberg said this was because salaries had already been cut during GM and Chrysler’s bankruptcies earlier this year. GM, which is majority owned by the government, welcomed Feinberg’s ruling and said it recognized the need for“responsible stewardship”of taxpayer money. “We are focused on delivering value to our customers and stockholders, and our senior leadership will ultimately be compensated based on our success in doing so,”GM said in a statement. Feinberg said he found the salaries at all the companies he evaluated were“inconsistent with the public interest,”but he complained that his task was often“conflicting.” Feinberg said he wrestled mightily with finding the right balance between holding down executive salaries without driving the best people out of the business – and thereby reducing the chance that taxpayers will be paid back the government loans. “I’m extremely sensitive to the public outrage,” Feinberg said.“The assignment that the law conferred on me was very, very difficult.” – DPA
Fury over TV broadcast LONDON – A controversial BBC Television debate featuring the leader of the far-right,anti-immigration British National Party (BNP) went ahead late Thursday amid furious protests from anti-fascist groups. Nick Griffin, the 50-year-old leader of the openly racist BNP, was jeered and booed by the audience as he appeared on BBC Question Time, the corporation’s flagship political discussion programme. “I’m not a Nazi, and I never have been,”Griffin declared as he was being subjected to intense questioning over the party’s anti-immigration stance. During the discussion, Griffin said that Islam was “incompatible with Britain”and accused the“political elite” of imposing an “enormous multicultural experiment on the British people.” Griffin, who has in the past described Britain as a “multicultural hell hole,”said that British people were being“shut out”in their own country.“It’s time to shut the door,”he said. Weyman Bennett, representing the organization Unite Against Fascism, accused the BBC of“rolling out the red carpet”for the BNP and predicted that the party’s popularity – as well as violence against ethnic minorities – would grow as a result. However, Griffin insisted that he had led the BNP away from being a racist, anti-Jewish party.When asked why he had in the past described the Holocaust as a myth, he said:“I cannot explain why I said those things.” The first-ever appearance of a BNP leader on a mainstream TV talk show had earlier provoked furious protests by anti-fascist and anti-racist groups outside Television Centre, the headquarters of the BBC in West London.Up to 1,000 protestors attempted to stop Griffin from entering the building, but he was brought in through a back passage. At one point, some 25 demonstrators broke through police barriers and entered the lobby of the building.They were evicted by police and security staff. Police said six people were arrested and three police officers were injured. The BBC defended its decision to invite Griffin, saying that banning him would amount to“censorship”after the party won two seats to the European Parliament in June. “The case against inviting the BNP to appear on Question Time is a case for censorship,”BBC Director General Mark Thompson said. “Censorship cannot be outsourced to the BBC or anyone else.” It was up to the government to ban political parties, he said.
Demonstrations are held outside the BBC headquarters in protest against the BNP’s leader Nick Griffin making a television apperance on “Question Time”, London, 22nd October 2009. Jonathan Short/LFI
Critics said they feared that Griffin’s participation in the programme could boost his party’s appeal, as happened in the 1980s in France with Jean-Marie Le Pen’s rightwing National Front party. “Once you treat them as equal amongst the others, they gain ground.We saw that in Nazi Germany,” said Peter Hain, a government minister and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner. British Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who was one of the panellists on the programme, accused the BNP of having “no moral compass.” “The Nazis didn’t, and I’m afraid nor does the BNP,”Straw said. Ahead of the screening, Griffin told BNP supporters that his appearance on the political discussion programme presented an “unprecedented chance”to present their views to the British public. “I will, no doubt, be interrupted, shouted down, slandered,put on the spot,and subjected to a scrutiny that would be a thousand times more intense than anything directed at other panellists,”Griffin wrote. “It will, in other words, be political blood sport. But I am relishing this opportunity.” One questioner suggested that the BNP leader should consider settling on the South Pole where
“the colourless landscape will suit you.” Other participants on the programme were US playwright Bonnie Greer – seated beside Griffin – as well as British Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne and Sayeeda Warsi, a Pakistani-born spokeswoman for community cohesion for the opposition Conservative Party. Warsi said later that Griffin’s“face of extremism” had been exposed by the programme. “This man’s was very much exposed for the man that he is.This is a person who comes from a fascist background,”she said.“Anyone who watches the programme will see exactly what he stands for.” Huhne said that Griffin’s credibility had been seriously damaged by his performance. “It is the age-old issue of attempting to build up support for a party by attacking a minority, and I think we got that across,”said Huhne. The BNP, whose forerunner was the National Front, has an openly racist platform. Griffin has publicly denied the Holocaust and, in 2004, described Islam as a“wicked, vicious faith.” Two years later, he was cleared of inciting racial hatred with his remark. – DPA
23 October 2009
United States of Asia Pacific mooted CHA-AM, THAILAND – The 15th summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off Friday in Thailand with a call for “new approach”as the 10-nation group strives to emulate the European Union. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the three-day summit in Cha-am, 130 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, with a call for a more dynamic, action-based ASEAN as it moves toward its goal of achieving an integrated ASEAN Community similar to the EU by 2015. “We have to start thinking about a new approach in the way we do things,”Abhisit said.“Our institutional structures should be strengthened so that the decisions can be made promptly whereas their execution can also be done in a timely manner.” He enumerated the group’s increasingly active role in 2009, such as agreeing to set up a regional financial “self-help mechanism” by year’s end to cope with the global financial crisis, participation in the Group of 20 summits of the world’s largest economies, joint efforts to combat swine flu and an initiative to launch a permanent emergency rice reserve with China, Japan and South Korea. The highlight of the summit is to be the inauguration of an ASEAN Human Rights Commission Friday although critics have labelled the body in a region notorious for human rights abuses as“toothless.” The much-debated commission has been faulted for lacking independence from the 10 participating ASEAN governments, which include human rights pariah Myanmar and other poor performers such
as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Commissioners on the new ASEAN human rights body are to be appointed by their respective governments, raising immediate questions about the commission’s effectiveness. The commission has no mandate to intervene in human rights violations in member countries but is to concentrate more on promoting regional understanding of human rights issues. “The ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights will have to work hard to establish itself as a credible regional mechanism and help close the gap between human rights rhetoric and the reality on the ground,” said Homayapun Alizadeh, head of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for South-East Asia. ASEAN has been widely criticized in the past for not dealing with human rights abuses in its own backyard, specifically for failing to pressure Myanmar, also known as Burma, to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 2,000 other political prisoners. Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house detention. Neglect of human rights and civil society are hardly limited to Myanmar in ASEAN. On Friday, the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar the Philippines and Singapore all rejected representatives of regional civil society organizations who were scheduled to meet with the leaders in the beach resort town of Cha-am. “It’s disturbing that this is happening at a time the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Human Rights
ASEAN Members Myanmar Laos Thailand Vietnam Cambodia
Philippines Brunei Malaysia Singapore Indonesia
Commission is being launched,”said Debbie Stothard, head of one of those groups, the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma. The summit was expected to see the association reiterate calls for Suu Kyi’s release to allow her and other political prisoners to participate in an election scheduled next year in Myanmar. “The request for the release of Madame Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners stands,” Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said before the summit’s start. The summit was also due to see the signing of
ASEAN HAS BEEN WIDELY CRITICIZED IN THE PAST FOR NOT DEALING WITH HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN ITS OWN BACKYARD, SPECIFICALLY FOR FAILING TO PRESSURE MYANMAR, ALSO KNOWN AS BURMA, TO FREE OPPOSITION LEADER AUNG SAN SUU KYI AND MORE THAN 2,000 OTHER POLITICAL PRISONERS declarations on food security, regional connectivity, disaster management and cultural exchanges. Thailand is this year’s chair of ASEAN, which now holds two summits per year. Next year,Vietnam is to chair the group, whose members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore,Thailand and Vietnam. Besides drawing the leaders of ASEAN, the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea,ASEAN’s main partners, are also scheduled to attend the summit in Cha-am. – DPA
Seven opens new vista for Windows NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO – Microsoft launched its new Windows 7 operating system around the world Thursday, hoping that the new programme Microsoft hopes users will like Windows 7 more than its predecessor, Vista, which was slow and didn't work well with existing programs. will help it recover from the flop of Windows Vista, Release dates Oldie, but goodie Market share, 2008 which was widely maligned during the three years 2000 Feb. 17 Windows 2000 it was in service. 63% 2001 Oct. 25 Windows XP Windows Early reviews of Windows 7 have been generally 2% XP • Five years before Linux positive and it has been praised as smaller, faster releasing the 3% unpopular Vista and more focused than its predecessor. Though Mac OS 28% Windows still runs some 90 per cent of the world’s 2006 Nov. 30 Windows Vista Windows 5% Vista Windows 2000 PC’s, Microsoft’s desktop monopoly is facing more • More than 80 percent of new challenges than ever from companies like Google 2009 Oct. 22 Windows 7 computers installed in offices and Apple, and from a shift towards netbooks and still run Windows XP New and improved mobile devices that don’t use Microsoft software. • Boots up • Touch• Working • Easier to find The keynote Windows 7 launch event took place faster Also screen together Organization promises to put Support Easier for users improvements in New York when company CEO Steve Ballmer computers into added for new to share files from allow users to and other Microsoft executives touted the operating sleep and wake touch-screen one computer keep track of system as“simpler, faster, more responsive.” mode quicker monitors to another open windows Source: Gartner, Microsoft Corp. Graphic: Melina Yingling © 2009 MCT “Today is an important day for the computer industry. Certainly for Microsoft,”said Ballmer.“With Windows 7, there’s never been a better time to be a PC.” “With Windows 7, you’re sure to find a PC that to be responsive, and have a longer battery life, and Ballmer promised it would bring “more choice, fits your life,”he said. “I think we’ve accomplished that”with Windows 7, flexibility and value to the market than ever before.” He said that users want their PC to fire up quickly, Ballmer said.
A better upgrade?
“The things that you do all the time need to be simpler,” Ballmer said.“You want to manage the windows on your desktop [and] make that stuff super, super simple.” He crooned over the new system’s multi-touch technology and announced that Amazon will launch a beta version of the Kindle Reader for Windows 7, an electronic book reader that will allow users to scroll through books with the touch of a finger, and zoom in or out by pinching the screen. “From the end-user perspective, you get dozens or hundreds of new features – everybody finds their own unique set of features to fall in love with,” he said. Another new feature that wowed the invited audience was when one Windows 7 machine served streaming video links to seven different screens. Analysts expect Windows 7 to provide a boost to computer sales ahead of the critical holiday season. Polls have shown business customers to be enthusiastic about the release, after many delayed upgrading their computers due to the recession and problems with Windows Vista. – DPA
Christian teen fearful of Muslim parents By Amy L. Edwards The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, FLA. – Ohio teen runaway Fathima Rifqa Bary told Florida investigators about her religious conversion, explained how and why she ended up in Orlando, and detailed a fearful life with her Muslim family, including the fact she was supposed to be in an arranged marriage. A month after she ran away from her home outside Columbus, the 17-year-old met with several Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators for more than two hours and answered questions about her journey to Florida and her family life. Rifqa ran away from home in mid-July. She said she feared that her Muslim father would harm or kill her because she converted to Christianity. Rifqa’s father, Mohamed Bary, has denied the claims made against him. FDLE investigators found
no outside evidence of threats against Rifqa, and neither did investigators in Ohio. FDLE’s interview with the teen was released by the state agency Thursday in response to publicrecords requests. Rifqa was questioned Aug. 24 – a month after she ran away and sought shelter with Blake and Beverly Lorenz, husband-and-wife pastors whom she met through the social-networking site Facebook. During the interview with FDLE, Rifqa said she grew up fearing her father. When an agent asked Rifqa what made her so afraid, she replied,“He beat me.” Rifqa detailed instances when her father “slammed” and “socked” her in the face.“My face was burning,”she said. Among the other things she told investigators: This summer the Muslim community found out she was talking about Jesus on Facebook. Rifqa said her dad confronted her and threatened to strike her
with a laptop. Later, her mom found one of Rifqa’s Christian books. Rifqa said that’s when she knew she had to leave her house. She wrote her parents a note. “These are the exact words. It said,‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I refuse to deny him. I pray and hope you find his mercy and forgiveness. Love you both dearly, Rifqa,’“ she said. Rifqa said her dad had threatened to kill her. She also told investigators of another threat: She could be sent back to Sri Lanka.“And that, I was in very much fear of,”she said. A member at the Lorenzes’ church bought her bus ticket. Rifqa said the plan was for her to stay with the Lorenzes because they knew people who could help figure out her options.The time she lived with the Lorenz family in their Orlando, Fla., home represented “the best weeks of my life,”she said. Her parents had an arranged marriage, and she also was supposed to have an arranged marriage
with someone from Sri Lanka. During one part of the interview, Rifqa said she was “really blessed. I’m here breathing.” But soon after, Rifqa said she was scared about what would happen to her. Last week in Orlando, Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson decided Rifqa’s case belonged in the Ohio court system and she should be transferred there. But before sending Rifqa home, he said, he needed her immigration documentation and proof she could continue her online education. As of last week’s hearing, Rifqa’s parents and their respective attorneys had not provided all the documents requested. The Department of Children and Families said this week it provided the education paperwork to the court. It’s unknown whether if the immigration documents have been provided because juvenile court records are not public.The parties have until Saturday to file the documents with the court.
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23 October 2009
Jamaica stun Silver Ferns AUCKLAND, OCT 23 NZPA – Jamaica has shaken a second netball superpower inside a week, adding a rare 53-50 victory over New Zealand to their onegoal defeat of world champions Australia. The world No 4 issued an ominous warning ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi by winning the second and final test against the Silver Ferns in Kingston – only Jamaica’s second test win over New Zealand in 44 attempts. Trailing by six goals early in the opening period, Jamaica forged an identical advantage at halftime after outscoring the Silver Ferns 13-5 during a dominant period to halftime. They held their nerve to carry a 40-36 lead into the home stretch at the National Indoor Stadium
and comfortably protected the buffer. Jamaica’s previous test success against the Silver Ferns was a 53-44 win, also at Kingston, in 2002. The win capped a memorable week for the Sunshine Girls, who pipped Australia 56-55 on Monday to also share their two-test series. New Zealand won the series opener 61-56 on Wednesday but the exertions of a long tour finally hit home as Jamaica regrouped from a sluggish start to win convincingly. The Silver Ferns loss leaves them with a four-win six-loss record for a season highlighted by their success at the inaugural World Series in Manchester, England, earlier this month.
THE WORLD NO 4 ISSUED AN OMINOUS WARNING AHEAD OF NEXT YEAR’S COMMONWEALTH GAMES IN NEW DELHI BY WINNING THE SECOND AND FINAL TEST AGAINST THE SILVER FERNS IN KINGSTON
Munster – easily the All Blacks toughest match on tour. While the coaches’ transition to their new roles will inevitably be a focal point of the six-match tour, for the 33 players it is their first genuine audition for the World Cup squad. While the uncapped Zac Guildford, Mike Delany, Ben Smith and Tamati Ellison will primarily be happy to have made the plane, for the likes of Rodney So’oialo, Jason Eaton, Tanerau Latimer and the recalled Liam Messam this expedition looms as potentially make-or-break. Coach and player alike admitted this tour had a different feel to their predecessors, an anxiety on the basis of the All Blacks unflattering season to date. “Because we haven’t had a great year it creates extra edge,”admitted Henry. “Players, coaches and the whole group want to prove themselves. “There’s a bit more tension and focus than last year. “We went to Hong Kong last year on the back of the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations, we got through that and went on to win a Grand Slam.”
REPORT: TENNIS INVESTIGATES WOZNIACKI LUXEMBOURG, OCT. 23 (UPI) – ASB tennis quarterfinalist Caroline Wozniacki is being investigated for her withdrawal from a match at the Luxembourg Open. The Women’s Tennis Association is looking into the top-seeded 19-year-old’s decision to retire from her first-round match Tuesday against unseeded Anne Kremer, a Luxembourg native, with a left hamstring injury, The Daily Telegraph reported. She was leading 7-5, 5-0 when she quit on the advice of her father and coach, Piotr Wozniacki. “You know you can’t play in the next round with that injury so when you get (within) one game of winning just quit,” Piotr Wozniacki, whose Danish comments were translated on an undisclosed Web site. “Just give the crowd a bit more joy first.” His advice led to complaints and allegations of heavy online betting for Kremer. “I did not think I could play the second round so I chose to let her proceed (playing at home),” Caroline Wozniacki told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. Sky Sports reported a WTA spokesman said the matter could wind up before the sport’s integrity unit.
Those exploits were a fading memory for the current All Blacks involved – atoning for three unsuccessful Tri-Nations tests with against South Africa was fresher in the mind. “We’ve had a couple of weeks to reflect on what’s happened this year and for the senior boys it was pretty tough during the Tri-Nations,”captain Richie McCaw said. “We have to put it behind us now, take the lessons and keep believing in what we’re doing.” McCaw agreed the likes of Wales, England and especially France might fancy their chances of claiming a rare triumph on home soil on the basis of New Zealand’s patchy form. “I suppose they could have greater self-belief, we have to perform good enough to shown they shouldn’t be like that.” The All Blacks kick off in Tokyo – the second offshore Bledisloe Cup test – on Saturday night before tackling Wales in Cardiff, Italy (Milan), France (Marseille) and England (London) in successive weekends before a final fling against the Barbarians, also at Twickenham. – NZPA
Footie team cops flak over jackets FRANKFURT – German football authorities today denied reports its squad for the World Cup next year in South Africa was being advised to wear bulletproof vests amid security concerns. The reports, based on remarks from the head of a private security firm, caused a stir in South Africa today, but German football federation DFB media director Harald Stenger said there was no basis to the reports. “We are aware of the reaction in South Africa, and immediately made it clear after these false reports were published that we are not considering equipping the players with bullet-proof vests,”he said.
Testing times await edgy All Blacks AUCKLAND, OCT 23 NZPA – For once an All Blacks end of year rugby tour to the Northern Hemisphere does not resemble a walk in the park. During Graham Henry’s regime the standard November journey to the Six Nations’chilly chockfull atmospheres has practically been routine, mundane even. Those itineraries have rarely taxed his leg-weary personnel – on the scoreboard at least. The head coach’s prestige was sullied at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium that World Cup October evening in 2007, but his European record is otherwise impeccable. The All Blacks have won all 16 November tests since he took charge in 2004. In fact, New Zealand have not been bettered on a northern hemisphere jaunt since John Mitchell’s under-strength side was shaded by England in 2002 – a week before they drew in Paris. With the Tri-Nations crown presented to South Africa in September, Henry will be desperate to enhance his record up north – particularly given a string of concerning performances in 2009. A five-win, four-loss record is hardly worth writing home about; those unsavoury statistics have already prompted a revamp of the coaching set-up. Although Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith are certain to co-ordinate the All Blacks tilt at the 2011 World Cup, a surprise reshuffle of their specialist roles and greater input from senior players perhaps smacks of desperation. Henry’s decision to remove a malfunctioning lineout from Hansen’s brief suggests patience had finally run out for the former forwards coach. And Smith’s command of the backline was also questionable after a modest 15 tries were recorded throughout the Tri-Nations and the June internationals against France and Italy. The former test five-eighth is now entrusted with the team’s defensive systems – Henry’s old task and one facet that has rarely let the All Blacks down during an otherwise sub-par season. Smith has a tough act to follow. on last year’s Grand Slam tour the All Blacks conceded just one try – to Barry Murphy in the midweek game against
The DFB’s security head Helmut Spahn is travelling to South Africa with a small delegation over the weekend to get a detailed impression of the squad’s base near Pretoria. Stenger said that on matters of security the DFB would not be taking any independent action. All security measures would be taken in conjunction with world governing body FIFA and the South African government, he said. “No security concept has been agreed for our team,”he added. The comments follow reports that German players would be warned to expect to wear bullet-proof
vests if they ventured beyond their hotel during the tournament. Germany’s Sport Bild weekly had quoted Guenter Schnelle from security firm BaySecur as saying that German players’movements outside the hotel boundaries “should be kept to a minimum” amid concerns over South Africa’s high crime rate. “Otherwise there must be a full escort:armed security guards and bullet-proof vests for the players,”he said. BaySecur is one of the firms hoping to be deployed by the DFB for the national squad at the June 11-July 11 World Cup. – DPA
NZ’S PGA TOUR HOPEFULS STUMBLE WELLINGTON, OCT 23 (NZPA) – New Zealand’s PGA Tour golf hopefuls, Danny Lee and Jae An suffered nightmare second rounds at their respective qualifying tournaments in the United States this morning. Lee, last year’s US amateur champion, followed up his steady even par opening effort with a bogey-filled scorecard this morning in tough conditions. Lee had just one birdie and seven bogeys for a score of 78, which left him in a tie for 38th on a six-over total of 150 with two rounds to go – six shots adrift of where he needs to be. The top 22 and ties from his tournament on the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club course at McKinney, Texas, advance to the second stage. Lee was to play the third round later today after weather conditions delayed the second round by a day. At Alabama, Jae An’s hopes of clearing the first stage vanished after a poor second round left him last in the field. Playing at the Auburn University Club course, An recorded six bogeys and three birdies in a five-over 77 to go with a first round of 79. The second stage of qualifying played over four rounds will be held from November 18-21. The six-round final stage at Bear Lakes Country Club in Florida will be held in the first week of December. OLYMPIC FLAME FOR 2010 GAMES LIT IN GREECE OLYMPIA, GREECE, OCT. 22 (UPI) – The Olympic torch that will open the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, was lit in a ceremony Thursday in Olympia, Greece. Using a parabolic mirror and sunshine, high priestess Maria Napfliotou lit the flame at the Temple of Hera, igniting the torch that will be run through Greece until Oct. 29, the International Olympic Committee said in a release. The torch will then be flown to Canada, where it will be relayed on the longest-ever run though all 10 provinces and three territories before arriving in Vancouver for the start of the games Feb 12. The Canadian relay involving more than 12,000 torchbearers will cover almost 28,000 miles, the Vancouver Sun said. The lighting ceremony was attended by several thousand people under heavy security at the ancient stadium where the games began some 2,700 years ago, the Sun said.
23 October 2009
TV & Film
0Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor 0Director: Mira Nair 0Length: 101 minutes 0Rated: PG for some sensuality, language, thematic elements and smoking
HE KNOWS HE WANTS REVENGE – “MY FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN” – BUT ISN’T SURE HE CAN GO THROUGH WITH IT
Watch the trailer
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– By Moira Macdonald
Two marvelous performances from two Irish actors turn Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Five Minutes of Heaven into a tour de force. James Nesbitt is Joe, who as an 11-year-old watched his Protestant brother being shot by a Catholic teen in 1975 Northern Ireland.Thirty years later, he is headed to the set of a television reality show, where he will be reunited for the first time with that shooter,Alistair, played by Liam Neeson. Hirschbiegel (Downfall, Das Experiment) keeps the movie so quiet that we hear the men’s breathing, letting the actors create the sometimes-unbearable tension. Nesbitt’s Joe is a haunted man, so tormented by the memory that he has a physical reaction to it, cringing and clenching as he remembers. He jokes awkwardly with the TV show’s staff, but can’t seem to connect with them; this man has for decades been living in the past. He knows he wants revenge – “my five minutes of heaven”– but isn’t sure he can go through with it. Neeson’s Alistair moves to an entirely different rhythm; though still haunted, he’s been convicted, served his time, repented, made peace. He speaks smoothly, in contrast to Joe’s jitters.Though mildly disgusted by the TV show, he welcomes the chance to meet Joe and presents a calm, polished exterior – though when he extends a hand, we see it shaking. Based on a true story, Five Minutes of Heaven is as suspenseful as any thriller, yet it’s ultimately a
beautifully measured character study. And there’s some sly humor in the depiction of the television show: Joe, filmed descending the stairs on his way to meet Alistair for the first time (they are kept separate until the cameras roll), seems to be walking toward the gallows; the world slips away and we hear only his tortured breathing.And then, a cameraman stumbles and a director asks, can we do it again? It’s reality television – which is to say, not reality at all.
0Cast: James Nesbitt, Liam Neeson, Barry McEvoy, Anamaria Marinca, Richard Dormer, Pauline Hutton, Niamh Cusack 0Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel 0Length: 90 minutes 0Rated: TBA
Five Minutes Of Heaven
Capitalism: A Love Story Cloudy with a Chance of ... Couples Retreat The Invention of Lying Law Abiding Citizen Where the Wild Things Are Whip It Zombieland © 2009 MCT
No borders, just horizons,” enthuses aviator Amelia Earhart in the new biopic Amelia. “Who wants a life imprisoned in safety?” And yet this film, coming 72 years after Earhart vanished, plays it awfully safe. Under Mira Nair’s direction, Amelia is respectable and respectful, with a solid performance from two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. It’s also bland, never going out on a narrative or stylistic limb and finally settling into an unremarkable by-the-numbers, made-for-TV approach. Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan’s screenplay employs as a framing device Amelia (Swank) and navigator Fred Noonan’s (Christopher Eccleston) ill-fated 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The story unfolds in flashbacks as Amelia flies over deserts, seas and mountains. Her childhood in Atchison, Kan., is dispensed with in about 20 seconds of celluloid; then we see the adult Amelia slowly working her way into the flying business and the consciousness of the American public. The basic big events of her life are here, like her solo flight across the Atlantic that made her the first person to duplicate Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 feat. She marries book publisher George Putnam (Richard Gere), who manages her career so effectively (some would say exploitatively) that by the time of her disappearance she is doing ads for cigarettes – though she doesn’t smoke – and has her own fashion and luggage lines. Quite daring for the times, the couple enjoy what today might be called an “open” relationship. She has an affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), an aviation bigwig in Roosevelt’s administration (he was the father of future writer Gore Vidal), but eventually returns to her husband. Through it all she tirelessly promotes the role of women in aviation and, indirectly, notions of female independence and achievement. In an era when girls didn’t have all that many role models, Earhart enjoyed the sort of devotion today reserved for teen pop stars. But the big questions that dog the legend are glossed over here. The film doesn’t address allegations that the boyish Earhart was a lesbian (or bisexual); the closest it comes is her offhand comment about a woman’s nice legs and an assertion to Putnam that she’s “not the marrying kind.” And it doesn’t even mention the many rumors about Earhart’s fate: Did she crash on a Japanese-controlled island? Did she die in one of their prisons? The crew of a Coast Guard ship loses radio contact with the pilot in the middle of the Pacific. That’s it. Amelia is always competent (although I initially found Gere’s Putnam – half patrician, half huckster – to be rocky going), but it never really soars, either. With her horsey mouth and boyish ‘do, Swank perfectly captures Earhart’s physical side – though her speaking voice has less of Kansas than Katharine Hepburn. You get a sense of the woman’s determination and bravery and her willingness to pull rank when the men around her are feeling churlish. But it’s not what you’d call a knockout performance. Technically the film is unremarkable, though there’s some pleasure to be had in the era’s primitive machines (cars and planes) and those classic ‘30s fashions. Watch the trailer By Robert W. Butler
23 October 2009
Nancy Sinatra knows that you only live once, and she’s not giving up album“Cherry Smiles:The Rare Singles,”a collection of obscure 45 sides as a digital-only release. The wonderful 14-track anthology includes a diverse Nancy Sinatra has never gotten the respect she selection of material that includes everything from deserves. covers of Neil Diamond’s“Glory Road,”Bill Withers’ The reasons for this are complex and reveal much “Ain’t No Sunshine,”and the Charley Pride hit “Is about the times in which she emerged. Sinatra made Anybody Goin’to San Antone,”to more outrageous her greatest impact on the charts during the late titles, like the song about a prostitute (as sung by the 1960s. She had more than 20 charting hits between daughter),“Annabell of Mobile,”the Faulkneresque 1965 and 1972,a time when the role of women in soci- gothic of“Dolly & Hawkeye,”and the schmaltzy“She ety was going through some serious changes.Sinatra Played Piano and He Beat the Drums,”to the more helped transform the image of women in popular esoteric, like the obscure duet with Lee Hazelwood, song from the waif who pines for her true love to the “Indian Summer.” tough gal who demands respect and attention. Complicating matters was Sinatra’s good looks, Unlike Aretha Franklin, Joan Baez and her more especially in a bikini or a miniskirt. One reason she serious peers, Sinatra declared her independence was not taken seriously as a musician was because with a smile and a hook (or maybe a whip would she flaunted her beauty. Because she was obviously be more accurate). While she’s best known for her well-endowed with attractive physical attributes, 1966 No. 1 hit“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” many thought Sinatra couldn’t be gifted musically. Sinatra continued to develop her go-go boot per- This type of sexism – can you imagine the same sona on a number of other chart songs. criticism of Jim Morrison? – was prevalent during But Sinatra was no one-trick pony. She enjoyed Sinatra’s heyday. Sinatra’s image was featured in other big successes and explored other types of fashion magazines, not to mention her iconographic music, from the romantic duet with her father album covers. In addition, she frequently appeared “Somethin’Stupid,”to the jazzy James Bond theme on television and in movies, including “The Wild “You Only Live Twice,”to the sultry “Sugar Town.” Angels” with Peter Fonda and “Speedway” with Sinatra’s sound was impossible to classify.While one Elvis Presley, so everyone knew what she looked like. could label Franklin as a“soul”artist and Baez as a Plus, she was Frank’s daughter. Detractors pre“folk”musician and the other leading distaff artists sumed she succeeded only because she had access of the day as one kind of singer or another, Sinatra to the best songwriters, musicians and producers embraced the wide range of pop music genres blos- of the time. Sinatra took advantage of these perks, soming during this period. but listening to her records reveals the depths of her This is something that’s best evidenced by her new talents. She knows how to inhabit and phrase a song. By Steve Horowitz PopMatters.com
She delivers her lines with panache and an understanding of the material. She’s equal to, if not better than, many of the artists with whom she worked. Sinatra gave up her career in 1972 to have children and raise a family. She made a few stabs at a comeback, including a duet album of country standards with Mel Tillis in the ‘80s, a return-torock album in the ‘90s (“One More Time”), and an eponymously titled Morrissey-produced disc in 2004 that featured such fan guest stars as Bono, Jarvis Cocker, Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore. With the release of“Cherry Smiles,”Sinatra seems very much at ease with her legacy. During an interview, Sinatra touched on everything from granting Jessica Simpson permission to cover her most iconic hit to expressing her wish to work with Paul Simon to reminding us all to treasure our time with the ones we love. Q.What inspired you to put out“Cherry Smiles”? What made you decide to re-release the material now? A. The truth is, I have a lot of good stuff that people haven’t heard for a whole bunch of reasons. For this first record, I was very specific.These tracks were singles that never found their way on albums. We discovered that we have enough stuff for two more CDs from cuts that never appeared as singles or on albums. I plan on calling them “From the Vaults Volume I”and “II”if I can get a label to release them. I thought the singles were very eclectic. I put them together with an emphasis on the quality of the individual songs themselves rather than how
they fit together as they came from different times, appeared on different labels, and had different players. One thing they share is that many tell a story. Q. This is a digital release.You began in an era of 45 rpm singles, as the new album reveals, and the technology has changed. What are your thoughts on this? A. Yeah, I have mixed emotions. I’m glad that songs are easily available on the computer. I download legally all the time. But I feel sorry for all the store owners. We have lost so many good stores around here (in the Hollywood area).There is nothing like the feel of a good record store or going in one and hearing what’s playing and coming out with something you never heard of before but now love. Q. The new release does have a duet with Lee Hazelwood (“Indian Summer”). He died just a few years ago.What are your thoughts about your work with him? A. Lee and I had a love/hate relationship. It was a love relationship until he left for Sweden the first time in 1970 without giving me a word of warning. We were in the middle of an album. It took us a while to become friends again, but when we did we became better friends than before. When Lee recorded his last album, “Cake or Death,”he sent me an early copy. But I couldn’t play it. It was crushing. He understood he was going to die. He knew so much about music and taught me so much. Q. Why do you think your music doesn’t get the respect it deserves? A. The public always loved our music, but there were some people who just didn’t take the work seriously, even back in the day. I was never part of that inner clique that critics praised, like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, because I was sloughed off as an airhead. My music was different than theirs, but we worked hard at what we were doing and did it well. I few years ago I was talking to Phil Spector about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was on the Board of Governors and he told me,“You don’t have a prayer. It’ll never happen.”He didn’t go into details, but I knew what he meant. There are artists in there that do not have my track record, who have not accomplished what I have, but that doesn’t matter. When I die, I already know what my obituary will be:“Frank’s daughter died with her boots on!”Hah. Look, I never won a Grammy. The “Movin’ with Nancy” television shows introduced some of the earliest modern music videos, but they never won an Emmy.You don’t want to go through your life working you’re a-- off, sweating through every release, thinking all of that was for naught. Q. How do you feel when other artists claim you as an inspiration or cover your songs? A. I love it and take it as a compliment. I get a thrill seeing my music and my image live on. When Jessica Simpson recorded her version of “These Boots are Made For Walkin’,”she called me and asked for permission. I told her yes, only if she contacted the original bass player Chuck Berghofer and paid him royalties for the bass line. Lee dictated the bass line to Chuck, but the way Chuck played it was psychotic! I called Chuck to make sure, and Jessica was honorable and kept her word. He got paid. Mariah Carey copies my album covers. I know Zooey Deschanel just did“Sugar Town”in the movie “(500) Days of Summer.”I own my own masters and keep track. Q. Do you have any regrets about giving up your career to have a family? A.Not one. I wouldn’t trade my time with my two kids for anything, although there was a time I used to feel so jealous of Linda Ronstadt! Look, we only go through life once. I only met Michael Jackson once, but I regret I didn’t reach out to him when I had a chance. I sent flowers to Teddy Kennedy last year with a note, but we lost him before I said more.We have so many friends in life that we don’t have a chance to be with more, so we have to treasure our time with those we love. I have an ego about my music, but I know what’s important. These Boots Are Made For Walkin
23 October 2009
NEW CD RELEASES
A marriage dissolving like the Dickens
Bebel Gilberto 0All in One 0Verve
The daughter of bossa nova god João Gilberto has a sweet supple voice and a sandy sense of Brazilian musicality whose serene flavorful sway never lets you forget that she’s daddy’s little girl. Carlinhos Brown’s shoulder-shifting ballad“Nossa Senhora”and a breezy, piano-heavy version of her pop’s “Bim Bom”with Daniel Jobim (grandson of Antonio Carlos Jobim) do the beach trick nicely. But rather than roll blithely through nothing but samba, the slight vocalist makes some interesting non-bossa choices. The weirdly Beatles-like title track, an electro-slinky Latin take on Bob Marley’s “Sun Is Shining,” and a Mark Ronson-produced version of Stevie Wonder’s “The Real Thing” that manages to mash up the Motown Sound with blaxploitation-worthy theatricality are delicious. – A.D. Amorosi
0Revolution 0Columbia Nashville “I ain’t the kind you take home to mama,”Miranda Lambert warns on “Heart Like Mine.”With her third album, the 25-year-old Texas native embellishes her image as a no-nonsense firebrand who can give as good as she gets from any guy.And she pulls it off with more bite and conviction than just about any other young female in mainstream Nashville. That’s evident from the get-go with“White Liar” and “Only Prettier,” and is bolstered later with scorchingly rocked-up versions of Buddy Miller’s “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go” and John Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round.” Lambert does take the tough-chick attitude too far with the idiotic“Time to Get a Gun,”continuing her fascination with firearms (she really does pack heat). But it’s not all one-dimensional, as the singer balances“Revolution”with a sensitive side: Moving and well-drawn numbers like “Dead Flowers,”“Me andYour Cigarettes,”and“The House That Built Me” get well beyond the bravado.
Girl in a Blue Dress
0Gaynor Arnold 0Crown (414 pages, $25.99) By the time Charles Dickens had grown tired of his wife, the couple had 10 children and Dickens was a rich and famous man.The two separated, unhappily and against Catherine’s will, and Dickens published a notice in the newspapers declaring her an unfit mother.She was sent away to live alone in shame,and her sister moved in to help Charles with all those kids. These sad details of a disintegrating marriage are rich fodder for fiction, and Gaynor Arnold has done a wonderful job picking up where the facts leave off and telling the story through the wife’s point of view. In her novel“Girl in a Blue Dress,”the names are changed to Dorothea and Alfred, but there is no mistaking whom Arnold is really writing about.The book opens on a day of national mourning – Alfred’s funeral, with Dorothea grieving alone, estranged from her children and ashamed to be seen in public. As the novel progresses, the story line shifts from the sad present to the ecstatic past – their courtship and happy early years. Alfred was a vibrant, exciting man – vain, yes, and always the center of attention, but also someone who elicited joy and laughter wherever he went. Dorothea, sweet, shy, alluring in a low-cut blue dress, wins his heart. Arnold’s compelling, historically true novel makes sense of the rise and fall of the marriage, and of the devotion that Dorothea felt for her husband, who treated her so badly but never lost her love. – By Laurie Hertzel
The man behind the missiles A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon 0Neil Sheehan 0Random House ($32)
On a hot July afternoon four years ago, nine of the 10 four-star generals of the U.S.Air Force marched up a hill at Arlington National Cemetery. Ahead of them was a caisson carrying the remains of a – Nick Cristiano 94-year-old Texan who oversaw the creation of a missile that threatened to annihilate much of Chris Knight humanity while enabling the United States to stare 0Trailer II down the Soviet Union. 0Drifter’s Church The man was Gen. Bernhard A. Schriever, a German immigrant who grew up tall, lean and cool in San Antonio. He was an expert golfer drawn in the Back in 1996,before he got a record hard times of the 1930s to the silk-scarf glamour deal, country-rocker Chris Knight of military aviation. cut 30 songs, accompanied just by In World War II, he showed a knack for sorting his acoustic guitar, in a trailer in his through the layers of difficulty in engineering, native Kentucky.The first batch of supply and maintenance, and for finding creative those demos saw light on 2007’s“The Trailer Tapes.” personalities. In 1946, Gen. Henry “Hap”Arnold, The new collection drawn from those perform- the father of the Air Force, told Schriever that the ances includes some of Knight’s best-known songs, First World War was won with brawn, the second from “Highway Junkie”to “Love and a .45”and “It with logistics and that the third would be won by Ain’t Easy Being Me,” which shows a rare flash of brains. He charged Schriever with keeping the servhumor (“I had to work to be the jerk I’ve come to ice close to the academics needed for the weapons be”). Once again, the stark solo setting highlights of the emerging Cold War. just how strong a storyteller Knight is: His plainIt was a mission Arnold considered crucial, and spoken songs are populated by flesh-and-blood Schriever knew it.“Bennie Schriever said goodbye rural characters shaped for better or worse by their and left Arnold’s office not just as an airman with deeply rooted sense of place and family, grappling an assignment. He left as an apostle with a calling,” with matters of the heart and outside forces press- writes author Neil Sheehan. ing on them – “While we try to stay afloat, if you It’s a promising start for an ambitious story. Sheewould, Lord, send a boat,” he pleads at one point. han tells it well, particularly in his description of the And in Knight’s always true delivery, these perform- Soviet and American policy struggles to define and ances sound all the more powerful for their lack of understand each other.This theoretical structure of adornment. the Cold War was precarious, with each side hover– Nick Cristiano ing dangerously near the trigger-lines of the other.
This brinksmanship makes for chilly reading. The American monopoly on nuclear weapons ended in 1949, thanks to treachery that carries some irony in this story. Ed Hall, a brilliant, prickly engineer who designed the quick-launch, unstoppable Minuteman missile, was the brother of Ted Hall, a Los Alamos physicist who gave the Soviets crucial information about the atomic bomb. The next race was for hydrogen bombs, then for aircraft to deliver them.This was the heyday of Gen. Curtis LeMay, architect of the Strategic Air Command. He and Schriever clashed over the use of a bomber fleet as the Soviets developed air-defense missiles. In Sheehan’s telling, LeMay was Schriever’s nemesis in a battle of bombers vs. missiles as America’s nuclear spear point. Schriever won those battles, but LeMay is the character who comes to life in their story. Schriever personifies the Organization Man in Air Force blue rather than a gray flannel suit. He brings brilliant men together to solve warhead targeting, satellite guidance and solid fuel propellants, but Schriever the man hovers in the background throughout much of this book. In an epilogue, Sheehan talks briefly of Schriever’s first marriage dissolving because of an affair, and how he met and later married singer Joni James. These might seem small moments in a life absorbed in nuclear Armageddon, but they tell more about his personality than his steadiness under the sarcastic fire of LeMay or his triumph over Pentagon bureaucracy. Sheehan is an accomplished reporter. He obtained the Pentagon Papers with their secret history of the war in Vietnam while working at The New York Times. His history of that war,“A Bright Shining Lie,”won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1989. Sheehan writes that he interviewed Schriever 52 times during the years that he researched“A Fiery Peace in a Cold War.”Schriever seems to have given Sheehan more of a good story than a good portrait. – By Jim Landers
The unending story of Shiite-Sunni conflict After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam 0Lesley Hazleton 0Doubleday (239 pages, $26.95)
When hundreds of thousands of black-clad Shiite pilgrims set out on foot early this year, they risked their lives on bomb-rife roads as they walked hundreds of miles to the holy destination of Karbala.To outsiders, these Iraqis may have harbored a death wish.To them, of course, they were fulfilling a religious duty.They were off to commemorate Ashura, the 10-day mourning period for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Scores of Shiite pilgrims died in Ashura blasts this year alone – believed to be engineered by Sunni insurgents – and it’s this centuries-old internecine conflict that Lesley Hazleton brings to light in her new book.Written in an easy and accessible narrative, the Middle East journalist tidily reconstructs a chapter in the long and battle-weary history
of Islam, from Muhammad’s death in 632 to the clashes over naming his successor to the brutal slaying of Imam Hussein in Karbala.The Shiite-Sunni story fights conclusion. “The Karbala story is indeed one without end, still unfolding throughout the Muslim world, and most bloodily of all in Iraq, the cradle of Shia Islam,” Hazleton writes. After a prologue that briefly retells what came to be known as the Ashura Massacre in Karbala in 2004, Hazleton takes her reader back to the origin of the wide-scale bombing: Muhammad’s death, of natural causes at 63, and the absence of a successor. Though the prophet had multiple wives, he had no sons to whom he could pass his legacy.And so sharp divisions between Shiites and Sunnis emerged, the former believing cousin Ali had been chosen to lead, the latter holding that the community picked the Muhammad confidant and Caliph Abu Bakr. This book is about the dangers of interpretation and the power of symbols. The Shiite-Sunni split in 7th century Arabia may seem readily familiar to Islam and Middle East scholars, but the book is almost certain to educate lay Western readers about the history of the world’s fastest growing religion (and, let’s hope, policy makers). After all, Islam didn’t occupy the same place in the Western imagination as it does in these post9/11, post-2003 Iraq invasion times. Illuminating details abound. Hazleton notes that four out of five Muslims are not Arab. Shiite Muslims, while now at the helm in Iraq, make up 15 percent of Islam’s worldwide population but close to half in the Middle East. Before appointing himself supreme leader, Khomeini invoked the Karbala story in the Iranian Revolution in 1979.And the region’s oil on which the West depends so much fuels the same Sunni insurgency that attacks Western armies. Indeed,“After the Prophet”will be held up as a primer for grasping the modern-day Middle East – mainly in Iraq but Iran, too. Understand the history, Hazleton’s book suggests, and you understand why somebody would pack a truck with explosives and ram it into a shrine. It’s a well-known premise but reminders are useful. A 2006 attack on the Askariya Mosque in Samarra – Sunni extremists, Al Qaida in Iraq, the suspected culprits – resonates with meaning in the aftermath of similar attacks on Shiite shrines. “Attack the Askariya shrine in Samarra, and you commit something even worse: you attack the Mahdi (“one who guides divinely”) and thus the core of Shia hope and identity,”Hazleton notes.“The destruction of the Askariya shrine was an attack not just on the past, or even the president, but on the future.” As much as the Arabian Peninsula’s battles and betrayals from centuries ago have informed the present, so does the West’s own history of mingling – the backing of coups and jihad fighters and even the arming of both sides in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Hazleton is careful to point this out. “Such heavy-handed intervention helped create the intense anti-Westernism that today underlies both Sunni and Shia radicalism,”she explains.“After close to a century of failed intervention, Westerners finally need to stand back, to acknowledge the emotive depth of the Sunni-Shia split and accord it the respect it demands.” – By Trenton Daniel
23 October 2009
Study of baby teeth yields new findings on nuclear fallout By Kim McGuire St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS – Joan Ketterer still recalls the button her son Edward got for donating his baby teeth to what was then a ground-breaking study looking at the effect of nuclear fallout on children born in the St. Louis-area in the 1960s. “I Gave My Tooth To Science”proclaimed the button, which Edward or“E.J.”as his parents called him, proudly wore for days. But the button was eventually put away. Edward grew up, got married and opened a successful orthodontics practice in Houston. And Joan Ketterer forgot all about the study. But Tuesday, a New York-based research group released new findings that suggest male tooth donors who ended up with cancer as adults had double the amount of a radioactive isotope created by nuclear fallout than healthy donors who participated in the original St. Louis study. The new research was spurred by the 2001 reappearance of 85,000 teeth that had been donated for the 1960s study, which was conducted by Washington University scientists. The teeth were found in an old bunker at the university’s Tyson Research Center where they had been stuffed into envelopes that included information about the donors, one of whom was Edward Ketterer. “The toll from bomb fallout is probably far greater than prior estimates,”says Joseph Mangano, the lead study author and director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.“Because 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it is crucial to understand causes such as bomb fallout, so actions to prevent the disease can be taken.” Edward Ketterer’s contribution proved to be crucial to the new study. That’s because he is one of the 77 male donors diagnosed with cancer who served as case studies. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 47, just a year after being diagnosed with invasive transitional cell carcinoma. His parents believe his exposure to nuclear fallout may have contributed to his death. “His doctor always called him his mystery patient because no one understood how he ended up with
this cancer, which is a very ugly, unpredictable kind of cancer,”said Joan Ketterer, a retired nurse. The study is a spin-off of the St. Louis Tooth Survey in which more than 300,000 kids sent their teeth to the Greater St. Louis Citizens Committee for Nuclear Information. Washington University scientists analyzed most of the teeth for strontium-90, which was created by the bomb blasts and absorbed by the teeth and bones of infants. They suspected that the children were exposed by drinking milk from cows and goats that grazed on grass contaminated by fallout.They called it the “milk pathway.” The study concluded that St. Louis children born in 1964 had about 50 times more strontium-90 in their baby teeth than those born in 1950, before the start of atomic testing in Nevada. “We were given credit for stopping nuclear testing,”said Dr. John E. Gilster, who was an associate professor at Washington University’s School of Dental Medicine during the original study.“Our work showed that prevailing winds carried radiation to our area and ultimately ended up in kids’ teeth.” When the teeth were found in 2001, the university donated them to the Radiation and Public Health Project, a NewYork-based nonprofit research group looking at the links between disease and nuclear contamination. The group has been criticized in the past for the methodology of similar studies looking at strontium-90 levels in baby teeth of people who live near nuclear reactors. The new study, however, draws many of the same conclusions of the Washington University-led study. For example, the new results show that strontium-90 levels were the highest for donors born in 1964. Of the 85,000 teeth found in storage, 6,340 teeth meet the criteria for the new study. Project officials were able to track down addresses for 2,703 of those donors Through surveys, they were able to isolate 97 teeth from 77 donors with cancer and compare them to 194 teeth from healthy donors. Of the cancer survivors, levels of strontium-90 were insignificant, the research shows. But the donors who died of cancer had about 122 percent more of the isotope in their teeth than the healthy donors.
The study concluded that St. Louis children born in 1964 had about 50 times more strontium-90 in their baby teeth than those born in 1950, before the start of atomic testing in Nevada.
Most often caused by blows to the head, these traumatic brain injuries usually result in temporary disorientation or short-term memory loss, but more serious concussions can do permanent damage.
1 Initial impact,
or coup, causes a countercoup when brain strikes inside of the skull
disrupts the brain’s normal chemical balance
Levels of severity Grade 1 Confusion lasting less than 15 minutes Grade 2 Confusion and amnesia lasting more than 15 minutes
Grade 3 Brief unconsciousness, more serious amnesia
Guidelines for athletes
BRUSSELS – EU governments have agreed to make babies’ duvets, cot mattresses and sleeping bags safer after a report suggesting that such products may cause thousands of injuries each year, officials in Brussels said Wednesday. The need for new safety standards arises from the fact that current European Union rules only cover certain risks, such as hygiene requirements for feathers and downs. Standards also vary within the 27-member bloc. For instance, while Britain introduced strict requirements for cot bumpers following a string of highly-publicised deaths, other EU countries do not have similar rules. The EU executive in Brussels, the European Commission, will now have to come up with spe-
Grade 1 May return to sport after 15 minutes if symptoms are gone
3 Brain swells; in severe cases, it puts pressure on the brain stem, which controls breathing and other basic life functions
Grade 2 May return to sport after one symptom-free week Grade 3 May return to sport after two symptom-free weeks
© 2009 MCT Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Graphic: Andrea Machietto, San Jose Mercury News
cific proposals, which will then be submitted to the European Parliament and to national governments for approval. These could include ways of ensuring that there are no gaps between cot mattress and the cot bases to minimise the risks of entrapment or asphyxia. Baby sleeping bags, children’s duvets and cot bumpers would not be allowed to have cords, loops, small detachable parts or sharp edges that could lead to strangulation, suffocation or other injuries, officials said. According to the European Injury Database, 17,000 accidents involving children from 0 to 4 years happened in the cot in the EU’s member states between 2005-2007. – DPA
23 October 2009
Q and A to help you decide if you should use Windows 7 After lots of hype and repeated saccharin-sweet TV commercials, Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7, finally arrives this week. The release on Thursday raises the question, “Should I buy Windows 7?”In order to help readers make that decision, here is a guide: Q: Is Windows 7 a giant step away from Windows Vista? A: No. In fact,“under the hood,”Windows 7 is Vista, but tweaked in almost every way to be faster and better than Vista. Some disparagingly call it “Vista done right.” Q: What version of Windows 7 should I buy? A: Most home users have Vista Home Premium and will want Windows 7 Home Premium. The upgrade price is $120. If you have the 32-bit version of Vista, get the 32-bit version of 7, and the same with the 64-bit.You can upgrade from Vista Home Premium to any higher version of Windows 7. Q: What if I have XP? A: To move from Windows XP, you must do what Microsoft calls a “migration.” XP owners can buy the cheaper $120 upgrade package (the full install package is $200), but migration is a bit more complicated than an in-place upgrade from Vista. You must use a utility called Windows Easy
Transfer to copy the settings, documents, and data. Then you install over top of XP.The biggest disadvantage is that your installed applications cannot be saved, so be sure you have your install discs ready to reinstall any programs you had on your computer. Q: What is in Vista that is missing from Windows 7? A: Quite a bit. In a tradeoff for increased speed and smaller size, Windows 7 has unbundled some programs. Examples are Live Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Live Messenger and Movie Maker. The good news is that these and more applications can be downloaded free as Windows Live Essentials at windowslive. com/desktop. Also, features that remain in Windows 7 have been upgraded. Internet Explorer is version 8 (available for several months as a free-standing download) and Media Center is version 12. Many other included features have been polished. Q: What about security?
A: Windows Vista was a leap forward in security over XP.Windows 7 has built on that.And Internet Explorer 8 is more secure than its predecessors.Also, Windows has just brought out a new free antivirus program called Security Essentials, which you can get at microsoft.com/security_essentials. It is getting good reviews, and with Windows’ free spyware program, Windows Defender, and the built-in Windows fire wall, you should be pretty buttoned up. However if you do thoughtless surfing to dangerous Internet sites, you still could have problems. Q: Will my software and hardware work with Windows 7? A: Yes. Because Windows 7 is Vista under the hood, any piece of hardware or software that runs with Windows Vista Service Pack 2 should run with 7. If you want to be sure, windows.com has a compatibility tool you can download.
Q: Will Windows 7 run on my old computer? A: It probably will. For the first time Microsoft has brought out an operating system that requires less computing power than its predecessor.Windows 7 will even run on a netbook, something Vista cannot do. Unless you are running Windows 95 on a Pentium 2 or something ancient like that, it should not be a problem. Q: What is new in Windows 7? A: There are new features including a redesigned task bar, new ways to share data on a home network, better power management for mobile devices and enhanced support for touch-screen computers. TechMan’s advice: If you are using Vista and it annoys you – upgrade. It will be a better experience. If you are using XP and are pleased, sit tight. But know that XP is 8 years old and two versions behind now and with Windows 7 replacing Windows XP on netbooks, Microsoft won’t support it much longer. It is also much less secure. In fact, if your machine is old enough to be running XP, you might want to think about getting a new computer with Windows 7 installed. For everything you could possibly want to know about Windows 7, read Paul Thurrott’s multipart review at winsupersite.com.
Electronic books may transform publishing industry they are going to control prices,”said Victoria Barnsley, chief executive and publisher of HarperCollins UK.“All the indications are that consumers are FRANKFURT, GERMANY – Electronic books may going to expect prices to go down.” transform not only the publishing industry, but the Barnsley said there’s likely to be a“menu”of pricing very definition of what constitutes a book. models,including ownership,rental and subscription. E-books – whether read on an iPhone, a Kindle or “There’s a slight concern for our industry in this,” a laptop – were a hot topic at last week’s Frankfurt she said, adding that most people tend to read books Book Fair. only once.“There’s going to be quite an issue for us “Books are just devices.Wikipedia is the new Bri- if a lot of people choose to go to the rental model.” tannica,”said Ronald Schild, managing director of HarperCollins Publishers is a subsidiary of the Germany-based MVB- Marketing und Verlagsserv- Corp., which also owns MarketWatch, the publisher ice des Buchhandels GmbH. of this report. “Digital content is superior in many ways,”Schild “Apple has been huge for us,”said Andrew Savisaid Thursday at a panel discussion on electronic kas, vice president of digital initiatives at O’Reilly books at the fair.“Reading today is solitary proc- Media, a privately held company based in California ess, but there are many other ways of reading. (In that publishes computer books and software. the future) it may become more of a conversation.” “Part of it is just the sheer numbers (of iPhones),” While electronic books still account for only a Savikas said.“I think it’s going to continue to be a small part of global publishing, their popularity bigger opportunity than standalone book devices.” is growing. Amazon.com Inc., which sells the elecCommenting on the business opportunities that tronic-book reader Kindle, is facing growing com- come with digital books, Savikas said:“These are petition from other e-reader producers. In addition, enormous marketplaces and they never close.” many users are reading electronic content on their Barnsley of HarperCollins said:“E-books offer laptops, PCs and multi-functional mobile devices us impulse buying on a much great scale. But prices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone. are going to come down.” “It’s very arrogant of publishers to think that Richard Charkin,executive director of Bloomsbury By Polya Lesova MarketWatch
Saturn’s new ring Ring facts • Orbit tilted 27 degrees from main ring plane
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Amazon.com Inc., which sells the electronic-book reader Kindle, is facing growing competition from other e-reader producers. In addition, many users are reading electronic content on their laptops, PCs and multi-functional mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered an enormous ring around Saturn — by far the largest of the giant planet's many rings.
• Vertical height is about 20 times the diameter of the planet
Publishing,thinks publishers can learn from successful transitions to electronic from print. In scientificjournal publishing,for example,print and electronic publishing has been separated, he said. “One of the problems we have is that we’re pretending that digital is another version of print,” Charkin said.“In 10 years, there will be very little printing in scientific publishing.” Also, the costs of archiving paper books in libraries are“huge”and electronic books can be very helpful in that respect, he said. Savikas of O’Reilly Media said “that efficiency point is the critical one.”E-books can be very beneficial for publishers when it comes to managing inventories and cash flow, he said. Bloomsbury, which publishes the Harry Potter book series, said earlier Thursday in a statement that “trading is in line with management expectations although this is still dependent on the level of demand between now and the end of the year.” The group’s cash position at the end of last month was 32.3 million British pounds which was after payment in September of royalties due to authors. With major authors such as John Irving and Margaret Atwood being published in the autumn, the program for the trade publishing division is second-half weighted, Bloomsbury also said.
It would take about one billion Earths stacked together to fill the ring
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colors can code cell type or stage of cancer; doctors then use a scanner to pick up the results © 2009 MCT
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The name’s Page. OmniPage. Text recognition and document organising software is finally allowing offices and households to get on top of the ongoing paper war, writes Ian Wishart If novelist Ian Fleming had given James Bond the box of tricks that Nuance’s latest offering of OmniPage Professional 17 includes, book and movie reviewers of the 1960s and 70s would have called him a fantasist. But such is the rapid progress of computer technology in the early 21st century,that fantasy has become reality.Motorola gave as the“Star-Tac”flip-top mobile phone in the 1990s to emulate the communicators used in the TV show Star Trek. And now OmniPage delivers what could reasonably be described as the superspy’s toolkit – with the added bonus that it’s excellent around the home and office as well. Here’s why. As readers of this column may already be aware, OmniPage is probably the world’s best software for scanning incoming documents directly to archives,or into Microsoft Word format. Essentially, driven by a state of the art optical character recognition (OCR) engine, OmniPage Professional 17 can accurately read scanned typewritten documents and convert them instantly to ordinary text for MS Word.
The paper copy of the incoming letter can be safely confined to an archive box or binned in“File 13”, thus reducing office clutter, while the digital copy of the letter is now stored on your computer in a file of your choosing. The software can be set up for one touch processing, so that pushing the scanner button sets in train a process where your incoming Bills,for example,can be automatically scanned, turned into PDF documents and saved in a folder marked“October bills”. In the office setting, OmniPage is effectively creating electronic in-trays for staff so documents can be moved off the desk and into organized electronic folders where – thanks to the beauty of OCR – the files are fully text searchable.You remember getting a letter from someone offering your company distribution rights on the new“McGuffin”, but can’t remember who sent it? Do a keyword search on McGuffin and the letter will pop straight up, saving you a fortune in time normally wasted ferreting through manila folders. OmniPage 17 Professional boasts accuracy of
more than 99% in its text recognition, and the new version is significantly faster than the already fast previous incarnations. News agency DPA places Omnipage at the top of the scanning, converting and archiving tree, saying that while other programmes attempt to do the same, they“won’t be as accurate or preserve as much formatting”as the“heavy duty commercial OCR package…Omnipage”. Which is a useful point. It is heavy duty, it takes virtually anything you can throw at it, and it has more functions than a Swiss Army knife.Which is where James Bond comes in. Suppose you have your little flip-top mobile phone with its two megapixel camera, and you see a document that you desperately want a copy of. Snap the photo on your mobile, download it to OmniPage 17 Professional when you get back to the office, and the programme is so good it can convert the text in the photograph from your cellphone into a Word document. Imagine the fun the KGB could have had with Omnipage 17.The software has built in correction for camera tilt or skew, based on its recognition that
text should flow in straight lines so it digitally alters the image to render it scannable. Unlike other OCR programmes, this one retains much of and in many cases all of the layout and formatting of the original document, meaning context and accuracy is vastly improved. The programme doesn’t just rely on scanning, either. You can set it to automatically monitor incoming emails and process copies to specific people or folders. The inclusion of bundled versions of the awardwinning PaperPort document organizing system, and PDF Create, makes OmniPage 17 Professional the complete package for organizing your home, home office or business environment to get rid of the paper clutter that builds up every day. Now you can biff much of the paper, secure in the knowledge that accurate digital copies are stored and instantly accessible. New Zealand agents Mistral Software have details of the retail outlets stocking OmniPage. Highly recommended.
“UNDP Administrator Helen Clark spoke at the Women’s Foreign Policy Group’s first event in its “Women in Power”series in Washington DC on July 24 in her official capacity. UN officials often speak at events that share the goals and ideals of the UN. Miss Clark received no compensation for speaking at this event and obtained clearance from UNDP’s Ethics Office prior to accepting the invitation. Miss Clark spoke about development issues and achievement of the MDGs.You can find her full remarks here.” Lee also asked:“Please state when Ms. Clark will finally hold a press conference Q&A in Room 226, and why this has not yet been done.” Lee, who gave an interview to New Zealand’s National Radio this week on the bad impression Clark is apparently making with US media, has continued to hound the UN on why UNDP boss
Clark refuses to hold press conferences, preferring instead one-on-one chats with favoured journalists. “UNITED NATIONS, July 27 – At the UN Development Program, one hundred days after former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark took over the top job, she has yet to hold a press conference for correspondents at UN headquarters. To mark her stealth one hundred days, she appeared from New York on New Zealand television.When asked how much she gets paid, she answered “I think you can go into the website.” “It’s not that there is not real news about UNDP. The organization was targeted in Somalia by Al Shabaab essentially for taking sides in a civil war. Conflict extended into UNDP headquarters itself, where as exclusively
arm. In Panama, UNDP is in damage control mode faced with
Those answers didn’t impress Matthew Lee, who wrote,“Despite UNDP still refusing to answer longpending questions including about its programs in Cyprus, Inner City Press sent a few questions to two of the agency’s spokespeople,including to Administrator Clark’s personal spokesperson Christina LoNigro: “ ‘Please comment including on compliance with all applicant UN and UNDP rules and principles on Helen Clark speaking recently in DC at a fundraising for which $200 or $250 entrance was charged: how are the beneficiaries of such UNDP fundraising chosen? Who reviews the beneficiaries? Which similar invitations has Ms. Clark, or Mr. Dervis in 2008 and 2009, declined? On what basis?” Clark’s spokeswoman Christina LoNigro eventually sent an email that didn’t answer most of the questions:
reported by Inner City Press a staff member complaining of hiring irregularities and nepotism was maced and taken to the local police precinct after biting of UN Security Officer on the
criticism of paying consultants there more than the president of the country.
“Weeks after asking Clark’s UNDP for responses on its programs including in Cyprus, but receiving no response, Inner City Press on July 27 asked the UN system’s Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq questions about UNDP, from the man bites man incident to Helen Clark having given a speech at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington from which the public was excluded until they paid at least $200.”
At the end of last week, Inner City Press again noted that Clark had still not done any news conferences, and added after the latest no-show in the briefing room:“UN correspondents marveled that Helen Clark, the UN system’s third highest official, has yet to come do a press conference at the UN.” Back to the front page
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