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ISSN 1172-4153 | Volume 2 | Issue 31 |
| 27 March 2009
Clark’s big UN donations
Did taxpayer funds help secure her new job? By Ian Wishart
Did Helen Clark’s Labour Government effectively “buy”her new job with the United Nations? That’s the discomforting question tonight after a TGIF investigation reveals a big jump in New Zealand’s donations to the UN Development Programme over the past nine years. Figures obtained by TGIF also reveal sharp spikes in the levels of NZ Government donations in the periods leading up to the 2005 and 2008 elections, both of which were tight-fought political races. According to United Nations Development Programme’s published accounts, New Zealand contributed: US$2 million in 2000, US$4 million in 2001, US$3.9 million in 2002 US$5 million in 2003 US$11 million in 2004 US$16 million in 2005 US$10.8 million in 2006 US$12.5 million in 2007 US$12.5 million in 2008 Clark is due to take up her post as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in August. A quick check of other major UN accounts shows a similar story. In 2001, Labour authorized just US$771,000 for the UNFPA, the UN’s abortion services and population control unit.The year before the 2005 election, however, New Zealand donated a whopping US$3.7 million to the agency,
WSBC OUT Tax haven twist Page 2
Volcano covers snow Page 8
and in the 2005 election year itself, New Zealand contributed US$5.2 million. Once Labour had beaten Don Brash in the 2005 poll, contributions to the UNFPA dropped again to US$2.7 million in 2006, and almost the same amount for 2007 – the latest year for which figures are available.
In 2001, New Zealand gave US$1.6 million to UNICEF. In 2005, the amount was more than US$5 million. New Zealand’s biggest contributions are to UN projects best described as“social engineering”, others are not so well supported.The UN Environment
Schools bribed to market vaccines By Ian Wishart
The Ministry of Health is paying thousands of dollars to schools who agree to push teenage girls into being vaccinated with Gardasil, the new cervical cancer inoculation. A letter sent by the Ministry of Education to school principals this week states that“To recognize the role that schools play in the programme, the Ministry of Health will provide a one-off support payment to participating schools…the Ministry of Education will assist in the funding transfer to schools, by placing the Ministry of Health funds in participating schools’ accounts in April 2009, with
the identifier,‘HPV Payment’.” The letter, published first on a major blogsite, discloses a base payment of between $200 and $300 per school depending on whether they haveYear 8 classes, plus an additional $2.50 per female student eligible to receive the vaccine (years 8 to 13). Some larger high schools could receive cash payments totaling several thousand dollars if they allow schools to be used to market and administer the vaccine to children. The news comes just as a report on adverse reactions to Gardasil has been made available, which disclosed 29 deaths in teenage girls who received the Gardasil vaccine in the US.The study, based on reports pro-
vided to the US government’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), was published by the National Vaccine Information Center, an anti-immunisation organisation in the US. The study, which compared a cohort of girls who’d received the Gardasil vaccine, with a cohort who’d received a widely-used meningococcal vaccine known as Menactra, has thrown up some disturbing results. “VAERS is a sentinel reporting system,”says the study,“designed to raise ‘red flags’for unusual numbers of serious adverse events following receipt of a newly licensed vaccine.” One red flag in 2005 was raised after five girls
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developed the debilitating Guillain Barre Syndrome after being injected with Menactra in one campaign. But it seems Gardasil has provoked even more serious reactions.Twenty five girls died soon after receiving the cervical cancer vaccine, compared with six deaths contemporaneous with Menactra. Nine girls suffered heart attacks after the cervical cancer jab, and two after Menactra. Sixteen teenage girls suffered strokes after Gardasil injections, and one on Menactra. Thirty four girls on the cervical cancer jab suffered thrombosis, compared to just one after Menactra, and a further 23 teenage girls were hospitalized with blood clots after their Gardasil injection while none of the Menactra teens had that reaction. A staggering 544 American girls suffered seizures Continue reading
27 March 2009
Commissioners plump for Auckland “super city”
Fluorescent lights newest anti-crime tool MANSFIELD, England, March 27 (UPI) – An official in the British town of Mansfield says pink fluorescent lights are being used to stop suspected gang activity by highlighting gang members’ acne. Marianne Down of the Layton Burroughs Residents’ Association said fluorescent lights have been installed at two underpasses in the Mansfield neighbourhood to stop youths from gathering together in those sites, the Mansfield Chad reported this week. “We used to have quite a problem with large groups of young people hanging around in the underpasses drinking, which felt quite intimidating, but the pink lights have really made a difference,” Down said. “The groups aren’t there as much and it feels safer walking through there now, particularly at night.” The lights are apparently making a difference by highlighting the youths’ acne and other blemishes. They’ve also reduced the number of addicts shooting up in the area because the lights make it hard to find veins. The Chad said based on the success of the lights, the association is planning on adding the pink lighting to another overpass as well as purchasing surveillance cameras. Tennessee could ban saggy pants NASHVILLE, March 27 (UPI) – A bill that would ban low-riding trousers that expose the wearer’s boxers or briefs in the state of Tennessee has won approval from a legislative subcommittee. House Bill 2099, known as the Saggy Pants Bill, would impose fines of up to $1,000 on violators, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported today. The money would be dedicated to the purchase of school supplies, including books and sports equipment. Rep. Karen Camper, a Democrat from Memphis, accused her colleagues, including Rep. Joe Towns, a Memphis Democrat who sponsored the bill, of trying to legislate fashion. She also said that teens would get misdemeanour records needlessly. “My question to you Mr. Towns is: What is the demographics you are targeting with this legislation?” she asked. Towns responded angrily that white and Hispanic teens as well as black ones have been known to expose their underwear. “It has nothing to do with fashion, he said. It has to do with decency and hygiene.” The bill, approved by subcommittee Wednesday, now goes to the House Judiciary Committee. Texas wants in on treasure hunt AUSTIN, Texas, March 27 (UPI) – A Texas commission says the state should be involved in a legal fight for the possession of a potential treasure trove spotted through Google Earth. The Texas Historical Commission said it plans on seeking entry into a lawsuit filed by treasure hunter Nathan Smith over a possible $3 billion in treasure lost in South Texas, the Houston Chronicle said today. Commission marine archaeologist Steve Hoyt said the group’s request to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is based on the Antiquities Code of Texas stance that Texas owns any historical shipwrecks on submerged lands. Smith filed his lawsuit in 2007 in an attempt to gain ownership of a possible shipwreck in Refugio County, Texas, he spotted using Google Earth. Smith suspects the buried wreckage may be a sailing vessel that got lost in a South Texas creek in 1822 during a hurricane, the Chronicle said. The owners of the land targeted by Smith have opposed his legal motion, claiming the possible wreckage and its cargo are on their lands and therefore their property. NEW AGE WHACKOS RUN SCHOOL NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) – The principal of a highly rated New York City school is reported under investigation for leading hate chants in school. Principal Philip Scharper, of the A-rated Public School 24 elementary school in Riverdale, N.Y., was accused of leading staff members in chants against eight teachers on his hate list, the New York Post said. Sharper also allegedly handed out Buddhist cards as an invitation to join his spiritual circle, officials told the newspaper. One teacher said she and others would get together on weekends for chants and sometimes would be called into the principal’s office for more chanting. Scharper declined comment, the Post said.
Auckland, March 27 – Auckland should become a“super-city”in an effort to become the most exciting, vibrant metropolitan centre in Australasia, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said today. His comments came at the release of a Royal Commission report, which found the way the region’s services are run urgently needed change. The report found that a single,region-wide unitary authority should be created in Auckland to replace its array of councils and community boards. Three commissioners -- retired High Court judge Peter Salmon QC, former public servant Dame Margaret Bazley and former World Bank and IMF public finance expert David Shand -- and a team of staff spent 17 months compiling the 800-page report. The report identified problems with Auckland’s
fragmented multi-authority system. Mr Salmon said during the time spent on the project, the commissioners heard constantly across all sectors about the need for urgent change. “We respect that willingness to embrace change is necessary in order to address what we see as the two key problems inAuckland -- weak and fragmented regional governance and poor engagement at community level. “We have found that Auckland’s current regional council and the seven territorial authorities, for good reasons, lack the collective sense of purpose, constitutional ability and momentum to address issues effectively. “There is also failure to agree or apply consistent standards and plans on urban growth and the development of key infrastructures and the sharing of key facilities. “The commission observes, however, as others have previously, that Auckland does not lack plans, it lacks the ability and the will to implement them. “And it was because of this that the commission decided a new structure was needed for Auckland’s local governance. “We adopted a design informed by several key principles, including the need for governance arrangements that fostered a regional voice, achieved value for money and fully differentiated regional and local roles,”Mr Salmon said. The commission proposed the dissolution of the Auckland Regional Council and all seven territorial authorities in the city, instead opting for a new, single unitary authority called the Auckland Council. Localised democracy would continue through six elected local councils working within the Auckland Council community, and community boards would no longer be required, apart from on Great Barrier and Waiheke islands. The new council would have 23 councillors. Ten would be elected regionally by all Aucklanders, eight
in four urban wards, and two in two rural wards. Provision would also be made for the election of two councillors by voters on the Maori electoral role, and one appointed by mana whenua. The boundaries of the region would remain unchanged to the north and for the Hauraki Gulf, but in the south,the boundary between Auckland and Waikato would undergo some territory changes. The mayor would have greater executive powers than provided under the Local Government Act 2002. “The Auckland Council will have a leadership function that extends beyond issues where it has direct powers. For example, in issues of social wellbeing, security of electricity supply and installation of broadband infrastructure ,”Mr Salmon added. Mr Hide said he could see merit in establishing a single unitary council for the Auckland region, and having one organisation to manage all the regional assets made a lot of sense. “ What is proposed here is not about the next 100 days, it’s about the next 100 years, for Auckland and for the country. “It’s important that we get it right, as the decisions that are made now will shape Auckland and shape New Zealand for the future. “As a government, we are committed to making what is undoubtedly a great city even greater. “We want a region that attracts people and investment; a region that has first class infrastructure and lifestyle; and a region that will encourage our children and grandchildren to build their futures in New Zealand,”Mr Hide said. The commission,which received 3500 submissions on Auckland’s future governance, has requested urgency in the Government’s review of the report. Mr Hide said he hoped a response would be announced within two weeks. – NZPA
WSBC Bank ordered to leave, pay costs By Ian Wishart
The tax haven bank named in an organized crime/ terrorism money laundering investigation has agreed to stop operating in the Cook Islands, abandoning a legal fight that began five years ago. WSBC Bank in the Cook Islands, which unwittingly carried out transactions for a long-time customer linked to al Qa’ida and Middle East crime boss Dawood Ibrahim, has been fighting to retain its tax haven banking licence since 2004. The money laundering involving the bank’s client, Kumar Trading Company of Dubai, is under investigation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office. Earlier this month, legislation effectively booting WSBC Bank out of the Cook Islands passed its second reading in the Rarotonga parliament, but now the Cook Islands High Court has issued a consent order revoking WSBC’s licence at the end of this year, and requiring the company to start winding down its business. As part of the consent order, WSBC has been required to pay $125,000 in legal costs to the Cook Islands Financial Supervisory Commission. WSBC is owned by a family trust; the beneficiaries of which, according to an affidavit filed by WSBC CEO Kumud Mohanty and published on the Investigate magazine website, are the New Zealand domiciled children of a Riaz Patel. Patel, through another entity, is the majority shareholder and CEO of a New Zealand company planning to list on the Stock Exchange,WSD Global Markets Ltd. WSD was asked by the Stock Exchange to withdraw its listing application after chairman Matt Robson confirmed to the National Business Review that an SFO investigation into WSBC Bank was underway.
27 March 2009
NZPA/ Mark Coote
Arise, Sir Anand Best February trade balance in 8 years, big fall in oil imports Wellington, March 27 – A big drop in crude oil imports was a key factor in a much better-thanexpected trade surplus in February. The February trade surplus of $489 million amounts to 14.2 percent of exports, and compares with the median prediction of economists in a Reuters poll for a surplus of $219m, Statistics New Zealand said. While February usually showed a surplus, last month had the highest February surplus as a percentage of exports since 2001. Exports fell for the first time since August 2007, dropping $243m or 6.6 percent compared to February 2008 to $3.5 billion.The fall was led by decreases in milk powder, butter and cheese, down $288m mainly due to a decrease in whole milk powder. The largest offsetting increase was a $120m rise in meat and edible offal exports, led by lamb cuts, SNZ said today. Imports were down $490m or 14.2 percent to $3b last month from a year earlier, the largest fall in percentage terms in 16 years. It was led by a $265m, or 70.1 percent, fall in crude oil imports, mainly due to much lower quantities being imported. Cars were down $158m or 62.5 percent to their lowest value for any month since 1994.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the decline in imports was concentrated in a couple of categories rather than a sign of widespread reduction in domestic demand. Timing, more than anything, was likely to be the cause in the drop in oil imports, which were likely to rebound in March, he said. The substantially weaker exports of dairy,crude oil and aluminium were likely to be the result of a combination of weaker volumes and recent price falls. “With strong surpluses, the preference is for them to be driven by stronger exports rather than weaker imports,”Mr Tuffley said. Some countries were running strong surpluses despite plunging exports simply because import demand had dropped to an even greater extent. ANZ said the weaker domestic economy was clearly weighing on imports, and saw indications in the trade data of an improvement to the March quarter current account. “But the recent resurgence in the currency, if sustained, could yet hamper the export recovery we are relying on,”ANZ said. For the year to February the trade deficit was $5.2b, or 12.1 percent of exports, better than the $5.5b median forecast.
Wellington, March 27 – Governor-General Anand Satyanand has been knighted, Prime Minister John Key has announced. The Government announced on March 8 it was going to restore the titles of Knights and Dames to the New Zealand honours system and Mr Key said today the Queen had finished the formalities needed for the change. He said the Queen had approved the redesignation of the Governor-General from a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit to a Knight Grand Companion of the Order, effective immediately. “It is fitting that the Governor-General, as Chancellor of the New Zealand Order of Merit, has a
titular honour,”Mr Key said in a statement. “I am also pleased that the Queen has given her formal approval to the changes I announced on March 8.” Mr Key said the Governor-General’s new title and style would be His Excellency the Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO. The titles were dropped from the honours system in 2000 by the previous Labour government. When he announced they were being reinstated, Mr Key said they were recognition of service to New Zealand. New Zealanders who were awarded honours that previously carried a title have until June this year to decide whether they want to be knights or dames. – NZPA
the ordinary becomes
But recession continues… economy would shrink by 2 per cent this year, with a gradual recovery over the medium term. The GDP figures followed data Thursday showing the country’s current-account deficit – the gap between what it earns from selling goods and services to the rest of the world and what it buys – reached 16 billion New Zealand dollars (9.2 billion US dollars) last year. This was equal to 8.9 per cent of GDP, and analysts said it was one of the largest deficits in the developed world.Economists said that consumers were buying less, companies were investing less and exports were falling, hit by the global financial crisis and widespread downturn. – DPA
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Wellington – New Zealand’s deepening recession was confirmed Friday when official figures were released showing the economy had contracted for the fourth consecutive quarter last year. Gross domestic product (GDP) was down 0.9 per cent in the December quarter, Statistics New Zealand said, with a 3.8 per cent slump in manufacturing the main contributor. The one bright feature of the report was a 4-percent rise in agricultural output in the last quarter, driven by increased production of dairy products, which account for about 27 per cent of New Zealand’s total export income. Visiting officials from the International Monetary Fund this week predicted that New Zealand’s
27 March 2009
Rise and fall of the kiwi Wellington, March 27 – Better than expected economic figures gave the New Zealand dollar a boost today, but any gains were quickly eroded. At 5pm today it was worth US57.57c, little changed from US57.53c at 5pm yesterday. It capped a week that saw the kiwi start at US55.82c on Monday, reach a low of US55.47c and a high of US58c, which was its highest against the US dollar in more than 10 weeks. Today saw the announcement of a February trade surplus of $489 million, or 14.2 percent of exports. The median prediction of economists in a Reuters poll was for a surplus of $219m. The currency market was expecting an awful number but it wasn’t quite that awful after all, said Westpac senior market strategist Imre Speizer. “It probably pushed up the kiwi by about 30 pips. But having said that it’s clawed it all back and then some. So it’s essentially back to where it was early this morning at about US57.5c.” Often the end of the quarter saw a rally in risk assets which could possibly push up the kiwi for another leg over the next few days, he said, but after that it would probably come back down again. Mr Speizer said interest rate markets didn’t usually outdo the currency for volatility, but they did for the last two days as a number of banks raised their longer term mortgage rates. That had tightened monetary conditions in the economy just when it did not need it, which would put the pressure on the Reserve Bank to think about what it could do to alleviate that, he said. Meanwhile,the kiwi was little changed against other currencies today,down to A82.19c at 5pm today from A82.30c yesterday against the Australian dollar. Against the euro it was up to 0.4244 euro today from 0.4240. It climbed as high as 57.14 yen, its highest since November 11, on the Reuters dealing system, before retreating to 56.60 at 5pm from 56.24 yesterday. It also gained against the British pound to 39.75p from 39.44p. The trade weighted index rose to 57.15 from 57.07. The Japanese yen rose against the US dollar on Friday, recovering some losses made the previous day, as a major Japanese investor repatriated funds from overseas ahead of the business-year end this month. The yen had fallen against major currencies the previous day and hit a near five-month low versus the New Zealand dollar earlier in Asian trade, as investors grew more comfortable about buying risky assets including higher-yielding currencies. The US dollar fell 0.2 percent from late US trade on Thursday to 98.55 yen. – NZPA FROM FRONT PAGE
Programme, for instance, only received US$195,000 from New Zealand in 2008 despite the country’s high profile posturing on environmental issues. There are also discrepancies regarding New Zealand’s contributions in comparison to Australia’s. On a pro-rata basis, New Zealand’s donations should be around one-fifth of Australia’s given the population difference, but that difference doesn’t show up in the figures. In 2007 Australia gave US$3.6 million to the UNFPA birth control programme. New Zealand gave $2.8 million. In election year 2005, New Zealand’s donations to, at $5.2 million, were far ahead of Australia’s at $3.7 million. In 2006 New Zealand donated US$2.8 million to the UNAIDS programme. Australia gave $2.3 million. Current Labour leader Phil Goff was Foreign Minister in the Clark government. TGIF Edition asked his office if he knew of any reason why NZ’s donations to the United Nations skyrocketed ahead of two tough elections for Labour. There was no Back to the front page response by press time.
FROM FRONT PAGE
in proximity to the cervical cancer injection, and while 158 given Menactra suffered seizures as well, doctors later discovered that 73 of those had also been given Gardasil. “Compared to Menactra,”says the study,“receipt of Gardasil is associated with at least twice as many Emergency Room visit reports, four times more Death reports, five times more Did Not Recover reports and seven times more Disabled reports. “It is unusual for there to be such a big discrepancy between two vaccines used in similar populations involving serious and relatively rare life-threatening adverse events and autoimmune disorders such as death, blood clots, cardiac arrest, lupus, thrombosis, stroke and vasculitis,”says the study. “Fainting, which has been attributed by doctors and health officials as ‘fear’ of needles in teenage girls is reported six times as often… after receipt of Gardasil than Menactra, even though Menactra is also given to girls in the same age group. “In pre-licensure clinical trials, Gardasil was only tested in fewer than 1200 girls, 16 years and younger.Through November 30, 2008, in girls 16 or younger, there were reports of 9 deaths, 3 blood clots, 4 cardiac arrests, 9 cases of lupus, 6 strokes…after receipt of Gardasil.” The National Vaccine Information Centre has also called on the US Congress to “investigate the fasttracking of Gardasil vaccine without adequate long term safety studies in American pre-adolescent and teenage girls between ages 9 and 16 and the safety and efficacy of Gardasil vaccine in all age groups.” Meanwhile the US Centers for Disease Control has belatedly begun investigations into Gardasil after a 15 year old girl died this month from com-
plications of what appears to be a particularly rapid and aggressive motor neurone disease (like physicist Stephen Hawking’s), which developed after she first received the Gardasil vaccine in 2007. Jenny Tetlock’s father, a psychology professor at UC Berkley, is now among a number of parents asking why, as vaccine maker Merck faces lawsuits over the dangers of Gardasil – dangers the vaccine company denies. Several other teenage girls developed the same paralyzing illness after being vaccinated against cervical cancer, and Jenny’s parents suspect “it could be just the tip of the iceberg”. Jenny’s family are holding her memorial service this weekend. Part of the reason for the ‘tip of the iceberg’claim i is that many adverse vaccine reactions, although treated by medics, are not reported to the VAERS centre, meaning that although VAERS can indicate problems, it can’t necessarily tell you how widespread they are in relation to total vaccine doses. The type of illness that struck Jenny Tetlock, for example, should only strike one in five million girls, yet from a survey of their 30,000 website visitors the Tetlocks are aware of three verified cases.With only just over six million girls vaccinated in the US (three shots per child), the odds of three in a sample of 30,000 developing aggressive motor neurone disease naturally are very unlikely. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health steers well clear of the Tetlock case but rejects generally claims that girls have died after receiving Gardasil shots: “The NVIC reports that the vaccine has caused deaths in the US.These were rigorously investigated by the Centers for Disease Control who have not established any causal links between the deaths and the vaccine,”says he Ministry’s Dr Greg Simmons, NZ’s
Chief Advisor on Population Health.“ Their findings are publicly available (www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/) and support the ongoing availability of the vaccine. “On their website, the US Centers for Disease Control [CDC] state that ‘As of December 31, 2008, there have been 32 US reports of death among females who have received the vaccine. Each of these deaths has been reviewed and there was not a common pattern to the deaths that would suggest they were caused by the vaccine. In cases where there was an autopsy, death certificate, or medical records, the cause of death was explained by factors other than the vaccine. Some reported causes of death received to date include illicit drug use, diabetes, viral illness, and heart failure’.” Despite the assurance, the CDC’s statement fails to address why vastly more deaths have been reported in the wake of Gardasil injections than Menactra injections. If the deaths were all random and unrelated to the vaccines at all, then similar death rates should apply across all vaccines. Instead, of the six million US girls vaccinated against Gardasil 32 have died soon after, whilst of the approximately ten million girls given Menactra shots, only six have died. Statistically, the Gardasil death rate appears to be highly significant. Of the more than 10,000 adverse reports on Gardasil, NZ’s Ministry of Health says “94% of these considered minor such as injection site pain, nausea or dizziness.”The remaining six percent, or more than 600 cases, are implicitly acknowledged as medium to serious. The Ministry of Health statement did not address specific allegations regarding blood clots, heart attacks or strokes, but made a general statement about the reality of side effects. “US authorities, as well as health regulators around the world including Medsafe in New Zealand continue to monitor the adverse events reported in association with the vaccine and consider that the benefit – risk profile remains positive. “Although Gardasil, as with any vaccine, has the potential to cause some adverse effects, the decision to vaccinate needs to be made on an individual basis keeping in mind the potential benefit of preventing cervical cancer being balanced against the potential risks of adverse effects.These potential adverse effects are discussed in the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet which can be found on the Medsafe website at: http://www.medsafe.govt. nz/Consumers/cmi/g/Gardasil.htm ” On the allegation of ‘bribing’ schools, Dr Simmons says paying schools to help market vaccines to children has been done here before: “Each school’s Board of Trustees was responsible for deciding if the immunisation programme could be delivered at their school. Schools have received support payments for allowing immunisation clinics to be provided on their premises before.” For further information on adverse reactions linked to Gardasil, see http://www.newsinferno.com/ archives/5267
Back to the front page
Urewera accused face High Court trial Auckland, March 27 – The 18 people arrested in controversial police raids in in October 2007 will be tried in the High Court. In the High Court at Auckland, Justice Helen Winkelmann today granted an application from the Crown to transfer the case from the District Court to the High Court. Police initially intended to charge some of those arrested under the Terrorism Suppression Act, but the Solicitor-General ruled against that and the suspects now face firearms and drugs charges. The October 2007 raids centred around the eastern Bay of Plenty but extended to other centres.Among those arrested was Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. Earlier this week the Crown had argued there were jurisdictional difficulties in pre-trial applications,the proceedings were complex and it was in the interests of justice for the charges to be transferred. All but one of the accused consented to the application or indicated they would abide by the court’s decision, lawyers for the 18 accused told the High
Court at Auckland which heard the application earlier this week. The case was due to be called again in the High
Court on April 23 but those charged were excused from attending because they lived out of Auckland. – NZPA
27 March 2009
The UN job So former prime minister Helen Clark has her dream job (almost).You can bet she still has her eye firmly set on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s role, but she’s now perfectly placed to springboard into that position when Ban announces his retirement in a few years’time. The media today have focused mainly on the role of the UN Development Programme in the Third World.Yes, that’s been one of its primary missions, but the UNDP is preparing for expansion, and the significance of Clark’s appointment – as the first politician to lead the organization rather than a diplomat – should not be underestimated. The UNDP is tasked with implementing climate change policy.After this year’s Copenhagen Treaty has thrashed out a new compulsory worldwide climate deal, you can bet Helen Clark and her multibillion dollar organization will be smack bang in the middle of it. The UNDP is also about gender equity,interfaith, social conditioning – all of those issues near and dear to Clark’s heart.Educating the entire Third World to think like the Labour Party. God save the world. Look, too, at the stars aligning around this fortuitous event.
By Bob McCoskrie
A worldwide economic collapse that’s given world fresh budget for the United Nations to commit to leaders the chance to openly boast that capitalism world peace, security, poverty and climate change. is dead, banks and key industries must be placed It was also the UNDP that proposed a carbon tax under state control and there’s even talk now at as a way of funding the UN’s social agenda. G20 level of a world currency. Some of this I discuss in more detail in the new President Obama is a political kindred spirit of book Air Con, being released in April.There is every Clark’s. Obama is a globalist, as is Helen and most reason to believe however that Helen Clark’s rise of the European leaderto the top is no acciship. Ban Ki-moon, who dent, and the timing is The UNDP is also has already predicted perfect. the rise of the UN in a I’ll wager that within about gender quasi-world government four years, Clark will be equity, interfaith, social role, must be delighted sitting on a much fatter that all his ducks are conditioning – all of budget and the UNDP lining up so nicely in a those issues near and will be bigger and more row. intrusive than ever.And Under the proposals dear to Clark’s heart Helen Clark, having for dealing with climate revolutionized it, will change, there’s a very good chance that significant be poised to take charge as the new UN secretarynew taxes and levies on carbon consumption will general, probably coinciding with Obama’s second be introduced, and a chunk of those will go to the term as president. United Nations. Helen Clark’s UN Development Clark hasn’t taken this UN job because her vision Programme was itself at the core of just such a plot, is limited to Africa. Her vision is global. Make no proposing adoption of the Tobin Tax worldwide, mistake. SUBSCRIBE TO TGIF! which would generate around US$1.5 trillion in
USA Free Trade with NZ
which take 50% of the money allocated. USA then has the audacity to blame other countries for being ones of mass destruction, when their subsidies are destroying many countries and families. A USA official in New Zealand two decades
-Cash-back leave will hurt family time The temptation for low income families to sacrifice their 4th week of annual leave for urgent cash needs, funerals and medical expenses, or educational expenses will be huge – but at what cost to children who need and want time with their parents. While choice is an important factor, annual leave and statutory holidays are an important ‘anchor’ in our work-life balance to ensure that families get quality and quantity time. This is becoming increasingly difficult as the retail industry is required to work almost every day of the year, and other industries expand to six and even seven days per week. An Equal Employment Opportunity Trust on-line survey on fathering and paid work found that 82% of respondents said their paid work negatively affects the amount of time they spend with their children. And an Auckland University’s Adolescent Health Research Group report found that 40% of students said they didn’t get enough time with their parents each week. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, New Zealanders work longer than any other nationality, apart from the Japanese. 21% of NZ workers work more than 50 hours a week. In most EU countries the number remains well under 10%. In Australia and America the rate is 20%. More money is often at the expense of family time. Taking annual leave may not make economic sense but it does make sense. We should do everything we can to preserve this important benchmark. -Self defence law needs clarification The Virender Singh case along with previous self defence cases has highlighted confusion in the self defence law, but victims and members of the public need to know that they can use reasonable force to stop and detain offenders and to protect their families. The self defence law needs clarification so that families defending themselves know with certainty what they can do legally. The use of ‘self defence’ and ‘reasonable force’ has not been defined in detail and this is causing angst for both the public, and the police when deciding whether to prosecute. Unfortunately, some people no longer have confidence in the ability of the police to defend them and their property and as a consequence are likely to be tempted to take the law into their own hands. When a shop owner or a parent has a millisecond to make a judgement call of how best to protect both themselves and their family, they need to know that the justice system will work on their side when they are simply trying to do the best thing in the circumstances. Those who intervene in a crime should not be forced into inaction because they are concerned that they’ll be the subject of a police investigation. The government should clarify the law relating to a citizen’s right to defend his family, home and property.
By Vaughan Jones
Some are wondering why America has backed off a ‘Free Trade’agreement with us. It is likely to be because once their farmers heard about it they got into gear and stopped it. Anyone who knows anything about USA, knows that their farming lobby has control over the country, which was a reason for the massive lamb tariff on ours a few years ago, a reason for the 50% subsidies to their farmers continuing (our average before Rogernomics was only 7%), and a reason how their rice growers decades ago, got tariffs removed into Haiti, and dumped theirs into that poor little country, breaking their rice farmers, and later their sugar growers. Googling for“USA rice tariff + Haiti”found that in the 1980s USA subsidised rice poured into Haiti, below the cost of what their farmers could produce it, causing them to go broke and rural people to lose their jobs and move to the cities. Haiti is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, most living on less than $1 a day, partly because of America. Rice subsidies in USA totalled $11 billion from 1995 to 2006. One producer received over $500 million dollars in rice subsidies between 1995 and 2006. There are three different subsidies together averaging over $1 billion a year since 1998 and projected to average over $700 million a year through 2015. The result? Tens of millions of rice farmers in poor countries are now in poverty. In addition to three different subsidies for rice farmers in USA, there are also direct tariff barriers of up to 24 percent, the very same ones that the U.S. and the IMF required Haiti to eliminate in the 1980s and 1990s. USA protection for rice farmers goes even further. A 2006 story in the Washington Post found that the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all, including $490,000 to a Houston surgeon who owned ‘set aside’ land near Houston that once grew rice.Also, Haiti, once the world’s largest exporter of sugar and other tropical produce to Europe, had their farmers put out of work by dumped sugar from USA. Doing this opened the EU market for USA. USA pledged $200 million extra for worldwide hunger relief, but does it in such a way that only half actually reaches the hungry people. It is processed and bagged in the US and shipped on USA vessels
ago told us that they would eliminate all subsidies within seven years. The total figure is now higher than ever. Vaughan Jones – International Agricultural & Marketing Consultant, Author of http://www.grazinginfo.com
-Porn parade should be prohibited The porn industry head and organiser of Auckland’s controversial Boobs on Bikes parade, Steve Crow, is determined the event will go ahead in September despite new moves to stop it. The Auckland City Council has written to the local government minister asking for a legislative change. The politicians need to amend the Summary Offences Act and the Crimes Act so that topless public parades are deemed offensive and indecent, and thereby illegal. The current law is far too liberal and vague. The court decision last year regarding the Boobs on Bikes parade effectively means that a topless parade could become part of the Santa parade and the police would not take any action. It goes against prevailing community standards demonstrated by the fact that we would not allow topless teachers, office workers or McDonald’s staff. There is also a concerning inconsistency in the application of the law by police. The day before the Auckland parade, three women were banned from parading topless in Hamilton. Yet up to 30 women paraded topless in Auckland with the sanction of the police. It is time that the rights of families to not be exposed to offensive material are put before the rights of the pornography industry to promote themselves. Sign Up Now to receive FREE regular updates about the issues affecting families in NZ http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/index. cfm/Sign_Up
27 March 2009
European Superstate held in Czech By Martin Walker
FRANKFURT, Germany – Normally the defeat of a Czech government on a vote of confidence would not cause any great stir around the world. Little will change in the Czech Republic since the government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is likely to remain in office as a caretaker at least until the Czech presidency of the European Union comes to an end on June 30. But the government’s defeat now makes it unlikely that the Czech Senate will ratify the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which is supposed to streamline its ponderous decision-making. Hitherto, the biggest threats to Lisbon have been the German Constitutional Court, which may rule that it erodes fundamental German rights, and Ireland’s no vote in a referendum. The Czechs now pose a serious third hurdle to the treaty, which is intended to give the EU a permanent and powerful president and a permanent foreign minister. Without such a president (and Britain’s Tony Blair is probably the front-runner) the EU is stuck with its rotating presidency, in which the affairs of the world’s largest economy are run for a six-month period by successive premiers of the 27 member states. This is cumbersome and inefficient, and it helps solidify the EU’s reputation as an economic giant and political dwarf. Europe’s deepening economic crisis makes the problem of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty more troubling because Europe needs the kind of stable and credible political leadership that its current institutions cannot provide. Only a strong president could forge a consensus, whether on stimulus spending between the hesitant Germans and the assertive Britons or on supporting the battered Eastern European member states. And by weakening the government that holds the current presidency, the Czech vote means that there will be no political coherence or leadership coming from Europe. Next week’s G20 summit will see Europe once again represented by the squabbling cacophony of Britons, French, Italians and Germans, all of them pursuing different policies in the economic storm. And storm it most certainly is. After the World Trade Organization forecast a 9 percent drop in world trade this year, Germany’s Commerzbank this week said it expected the German economy to shrink by 7 percent this year, with exports down more than 20 percent. Germany’s purchasing managers’ index is at a depression-level 32.4 percent. (Anything above 50 is growth.) France’s index is slightly higher, at 36.3 percent, but that still means
Europe’s deepening economic crisis makes the problem of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty more troubling because Europe needs the kind of stable and credible political leadership that its current institutions cannot provide contraction, with Commerzbank suggesting a decline of 3.5 percent in gross domestic product. Britain expects a 4 percent drop. The policy responses are glaringly different.The British central bank, like its American counterpart, believes that the immediate problem is keeping the economy on life support by pumping in money and worrying about inflation later.The European Central Bank by contrast sees inflation as the priority. Moreover, the French and British are suffering like the United States from the collapse of the housing bubble; the Germans had no such bubble. Olivier Blanchard, the Frenchman who is chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is not impressed by his country’s policies. In an interview with French business daily Les Echos this week, he warns that the French stimulus package is worth a lot less than it appears and that the Europeans have yet to tackle the staggering fall in
demand. If they do not stimulate now, he goes on, the Europeans will have to stimulate even more in the following two years or they will have even more than inflation to worry about. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown,in a strikingly pro-European speech to the EU Parliament on Wednesday, called on the EU to rise to the challenge of the crisis.With its history of international cooperation and consensus-seeking and its strong democratic values he said that Europe is uniquely placed to help chart the way out of the international hurricane that is sweeping the world. “I propose that we in Europe take a central role in helping to craft a new principled economy for our times,”Brown said before heading off on a world tour to see other leaders of G20 countries before next week’s summit. Above all, he stressed, Europe and the G20 had to stand firm against the protectionist temptation.
Britain’s anti-terror plans revealed By Stefan Nicola
BERLIN – Britain may soon have the largest antiterror force in the world. London’s new anti-terror strategy includes teaching 60,000 ordinary Britons – including shop owners, hotel staff and people working in sports stadiums – how to spot potential terrorists and how to best react in case of a terrorist attack. Critics said the move is turning Britain into a Big Brother state by making people snoop on each other.Yet British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith defended the strategy, arguing London could not rely on its excellent police and intelligence officials only; rather, she said, a more vigilant public could help stop attacks and contain their worst effects. “That’s not about snooping,”Smith said.“That’s about the widest range of people helping to keep us safe in this country.” The controversial Project Argus is part of Contest Two, Britain’s new anti-terror strategy, which London unveiled Wednesday. It is an update of a previous strategy the British government drafted in 2003, two years before suicide bombers attacked London’s mass-transit system, killing 52 people. Contest Two now pays tribute to the lessons
learned over the past six years and to new threats that have emerged.These include dirty bombs, the homemade nuclear, biological or chemical weapons assembled from parts obtained on the black market. The report warns that failed states such as Iraq and Afghanistan make it easier for terrorists to obtain materials to build dirty bombs. Britain, according to the paper, is home to the most al-Qaida terror cells in Europe; at the same time, many new, self-starting groups have formed that have no ties to al-Qaida at all.The report also identifies groups from Africa, the Middle East (particularly Iraq and Yemen), Afghanistan and Pakistan as threats to British security. Pakistan has been a major source of concern for Western anti-terror officials,with al-Qaida allegedly having several camps and hideouts in the region bordering Afghanistan.More than 20 Britons trained by terrorists in Pakistan are already back in Britain and could plot attacks, Sky News reported Wednesday. To help counter all these threats, London will be spending roughly NZ$9 billion per year on antiterror efforts by 2011; over the past six years, it has already increased the number of anti-terror police from 1,700 to 3,000. But it’s not only about boosting resources.
London also aims to support pro-democratic Muslim groups and individuals at home, while at the same time challenging undemocratic voices in Britain – a strategy crucial to create an atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate radicalism, Smith said. “We have said that where people may not have broken the law but nevertheless act in a way that undermines our belief in this country in democracy, in human rights, in tolerance, in free speech, actually there should be a challenge made to them – not through the law, but what we’re calling a civil challenge,”she told the BBC on Wednesday.“We should argue back, we should make clear that those things are unacceptable. “That should help to eventually reduce the number of potential extremists in Britain,”Smith said. “We think that we need to tackle the causes of terrorism early,”she added.“We have a program of work to prevent people turning to violent extremism and supporting terrorism in the first place and we will develop that and we will grow that.” And this program won’t stop at Britain’s borders. London is spending some NZ$900 million until 2012 to launch a campaign that conveys positive sentiments about Britain to Muslims all over the world. – UPI
“I know that the temptation for some is to meet this new insecurity with retreat, to try to feel safe by attempting to pull up the drawbridge or turn the clock back,” Brown said.“I tell you if there’s anything we know from history, it is that protectionism is the politics of defeatism, retreat and fear and in the end protects no one at all.” Brown also called on the Europeans to forge a policy consensus, not only among themselves but with the new U.S. presidency. “Never in recent years have we had an American leadership so keen at all levels to cooperate with Europe on financial stability, climate change, security and development, and seldom has such cooperation been so obviously of benefit to us and to all the world,”Brown said. But the implication of the Czech vote and of the German government’s short-term obsession with the politics of the elections now less than six months away is that building a consensus among the Europeans will be tougher than ever.And without a European consensus, a coordinated policy approach with the United States and with the G20 as a whole will be very difficult indeed. Like so many modern equivalents of the Emperor Nero, Europe’s leaders are fiddling while Rome burns down around them. – UPI
27 March 2009
Is the financial crisis the revenge of the nerds? By Kevin Horrigan St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Last week we read a lot about those guys at AIG who were paid $165 million in bonuses largely because (we were told) that, having screwed up the company, they were the only guys who could unscrew it. Many of these people were bond traders. Others were“quants,”an occupation of whose existence most of us were blissfully unaware until last year, when the financial markets began to come unravelled. Stop any 20 people on any street in America not named Wall and odds are 19 of them couldn’t tell you what a quant does. In that last sentence, you’ll note a question of probability – a 1 in 20 probability of knowing what a quant does, a figure I made up off the top of my head. What a quant would do is create a formula testing that probability, using complex mathematics, and then tell bond traders how to make money off of it. Quant is short for quantitative analyst. In the ‘80s and ‘90s they began to be all the rage on Wall Street. “A quant designs and implements mathematical models for the pricing of derivatives, assessments of risk or predicting market movements,”said Mark Joshi, a former quant at the Royal Bank of Scotland who has written the book (actually several of them) on quants and how to become one. At the risk of oversimplifying things, quants are the math nerds who you used to beat up in high school.The world economic crisis is their revenge. In my quest to understand quants, I am com-
forted by the fact that I was an A student in math in college – I made an A in freshman calculus some 40 years ago, having guessed right on the first test of the semester, whereupon the school burned down and no further tests were administered. I quit while I was ahead; I never took math again. Still, I was able to fight my way through a fascinating piece by Felix Salmon in the Feb. 23 edition of Wired magazine in which he lays the blame for the financial collapse at the feet of a mathematician named David X. Li. In 2000, while working at JPMorgan Chase, Li published a paper in a financial journal.The paper was titled “On Default Correlation:A Copula Function Approach.” I would explain his formula in all of its complexities except I know that many readers weren’t A students in college math. So here’s Felix Salmon’s explanation: “For five years, Li’s formula, known as a Gaussian copula function (in math,“copula” describes relationships between variables; Gauss was a 19th century mathematician), looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modelled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels. “His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched – and was making people so much
money – that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.” The beauty of Li’s formula was that it appeared to take the risk out of risk.Traders no longer had to look at historic default patterns. Instead they just had to consider how prices of financial bets correlated over time. As prices boomed in the early 2000s, default correlations stayed low. Bonds could all be rated Triple A. The number of credit default swaps – in effect, bets on whether bonds would perform or not – went from $920 billion in 2001 to $62 trillion in 2007. Nobody stopped to consider what would happen if the mortgages on which all these derivatives were based suddenly went south at the same time. Wall Street was like a horse player betting on a 10-race card filled with 20-1 to favourites. Who could imagine all 10 favourites breaking down on the same day? This is why quants say they shouldn’t be blamed for the financial collapse:They just did the math. They didn’t say it was foolproof. Besides, if just a few traders had used Li’s formula, we wouldn’t be in this mess. The trouble started when it was adopted almost universally. Bankers and brokers were making so much money that no one wanted to stop. What we need then are not fewer quants but better quants, people who can write a formula unravelling this mess without creating a bigger one. They’re the guys who ought to get the bonuses.
Bookshops endangered by digital? By Diane Evans DelMio.com
Cuts in the publishing industry continue, whether it’s a round of layoffs at National Geographic, or the University of Michigan Press abandoning print to go digital. The pattern is clear: As a society, we’re opting for digital reading formats.And that’s been hell on local booksellers. It’s the cost of progress. Progress brings change, and change disrupts old ways of doing business. But there is a solution, and that’s to change with the times. In short, evolve or die. That’s why it’s getting old to hear local,independent booksellers cry about hard times.Yes, we’re talking about many great places. But as digital formats
continue to grow in popularity,and broadband infrastructure opens up previously unimagined possibilities,merchants need to change how they do business and find ways to remain relevant and profitable in an economic environment reliant on technology. In a recent blog posting,Arsen Kashkashian, head buyer of the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo., unwittingly told why clinging to old ways won’t work. In a blog post titled “Hachette Gets Cheap, Real Cheap,”Kashkashian lamented Hachette Book Group’s decision to eliminate a program that benefited independent booksellers. The program allowed booksellers to receive credit for promoting Hachette titles. Kashkashian estimated the loss would“cost many independent stores $3,000 in the upcoming year.” “In most businesses, $3,000 might be a fairly insignificant amount,” he wrote.“In the booksell-
ing world where a profit of 2 percent is considered stellar, it is a critical sum.” He went on,saying a bookseller makes so little that $3,000 is enough to pay for one hour of work every Monday through Saturday all year long.He also added that some booksellers are already trying to recoup by buying cheaper toilet paper and paper towels. Dear Mr. Kashkashian: Saving on toilet paper won’t help you. Neither will some of the tips you’ll find on the Web site of the American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independent booksellers since 1900.The ABA site offers tips such as, “Give your customers something to think about: Ten reasons why shopping local and independent is so important.” As times change, the appeal of a local bookseller must go beyond emotional, altruistic reasons. The appeal must relate to new approaches, made possi-
ble through 21st century technological advances. One example:Improved literacy is a goal of broadband network expansion. How can local booksellers work with schools and other civic organizations to collaborate on new solutions to meet community literacy needs? Are there ways for these booksellers to become leaders in offering online literacy programs for adults? The answers are far less clear than the questions. However, to survive, local booksellers need to get in the game. Becoming part of the discussion is a first step toward becoming part of 21st century solutions that can keep more local merchants in business and contributing to the vitality and fabric of their local communities. Diane Evans is a former Knight Ridder columnist and is now president of DelMio.com, a new interactive online magazine on books for writers and readers.
27 March 2009
in 60 seconds
ASH COATS SNOW San Francisco (DPA) – Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano erupted twice today in what the Alaska Volcano Observatory termed a “major explosive event,” sending razor-sharp ash over the city of Anchorage. The second eruption reached a height of around 20 kilometres, following an eruption earlier Thursday that send a plume of ash about 9 kilometres high. The volcano, roughly 160 kilometres southwest of Anchorage, last erupted during a four-month period in 1989-90. The ash will pass over the city of Anchorage but is not expected to fall to the ground there, the National Weather Service said. TRAGIC DEJA-VU Singapore (DPA) – The body of a newborn baby boy was discovered in a rubbish bin in the transit area of Singapore’s Changi Airport, the Straits Times reported Friday. A cleaner made the sordid discovery just before 9 pm on Wednesday. Close-circuit television footage from the terminal was being reviewed to trace the person who dumped the fairskinned baby, who had his umbilical cord still attached. It is believed that drops of blood were found in a toilet near one of the terminal’s gates. The airport management has also been asked to check if any of the staff had shown signs of pregnancy. It is the second case of a newborn being dumped in Singapore this month, the paper said. Nurasyikin Mohamed Ismail, 23, was arrested for dumping her newborn in a housing estate earlier this month. She was charged with concealing the birth of her child by secretly disposing of the body. SPECTRE OF JAIL HAUNTS SPECTOR Los Angeles (DPA) – Jurors in the murder case against legendary music producer Phil Spector began considering their verdict today, after the prosecution and defence attorneys presented their closing trial arguments. Spector, 69, is accused of killing B-movie actress and nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson at his house in 2003. His first trial ended in a deadlocked jury, with the 12 member panel splitting by a 10-to-two vote in favour of guilt but unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Prosecutors claim that Spector shot Clarkson, 40, at point-blank range after he became frustrated when she resisted his advances following a night of heavy drinking. Spector’s attorneys contend that she committed suicide. Spector, who worked with The Beatles, Tina Turner and many other stars after devising the “Wall of Sound” production technique, faces a maximum of 18 years in jail if found guilty. COPS HAND OVER COKE San Jose (dpa) – Heavily armed gunmen stormed a police evidence facility today in southern Costa Rica, making off with 320 kilogrammes of recently seized cocaine, authorities said. The cocaine was originally been seized Sunday in Sirena in the Corcovado national park, in Costa Rica’s southern Pacifico Sur region. Five men armed with machine guns and revolvers struck early this morning in Golfito, 300 kilometres south of San Jose, subduing two police officers guarding the facility. Police were trying to track down the drug traffickers, though authorities did not rule out that they might have fled into neighbouring Panama.
US: ‘We’ll seize control’ Washington – President Barack Obama’s administration, in a massive overhaul of the US financial regulatory system, is seeking the power to keep watch on all types of financial firms and to seize failing companies integral to the health of the system. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the plans in congressional testimony this morning, arguing that the current financial turmoil has proven the system is “too unstable and fragile” to be allowed to manage itself. “To address this will require comprehensive reform. Not modest repairs at the margin,but new rules of the
game,”he said in testimony before the Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives. The Obama administration wants to task a single government regulator with broad oversight over the entire financial industry, including over derivatives markets and major non-banking financial firms such as hedge funds and insurance firms that have effectively remained outside the reach of government. Geithner did not say which regulator would take on the task of monitoring the financial industry. Many have suggested the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, is best suited for the job. The regulatory overhaul marks the latest element
of Obama’s efforts to stabilize a financial industry that has led the United States and wider world into recession. It also fulfils a key demand of other governments, especially in Europe, who have pushed the United States to outline its regulatory reforms ahead of a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) nations on Tuesday in London. Geithner said the US would be pushing for a “common approach” to regulation across governments during the G20 summit. One of the suggestions on the table includes a so-called college of supervisors that could monitor the largest multinational firms. But many US lawmakers in both political parties are uneasy about granting the government broad new control over major financial firms, fearing that too much regulation could choke off innovation and growth of the US economy. “It is important that as we rush to save our economy that we do not suffocate our economy,” said David Scott, a Democratic congressman from Georgia. A number of major US financial firms have failed since September and others have been given hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency government loans to preserve the stability of the US financial system. The financial collapse has been blamed on unnecessary risks taken by Wall Street firms in the US mortgage market, but also on government regulators who failed to warn of an impending crisis. “This crisis has made clear that certain large, interconnected firms and markets need to be under a more consistent, and more conservative regulatory regime,”Geithner said.
US stimulus plan ‘road to hell’ Brussels – European Union officials were today struggling to douse a diplomatic fire with the United States after the bloc’s top political leader called US economic policy a “road to hell”just a week before a major meeting with the US president. The EU and US responses to the current economic crisis are “increasingly converging,”and the EU is “working hard with our American and other international partners” ahead of a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) economies, European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told journalists in Brussels. The EU itself is“fully united”ahead of the summit, she stressed. Her comments came the day after the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, the Czech Republic’s fallen premier,MirekTopolanek,told the European Parliament that the US decision to prop up its economy with ever larger stimuli was the“road to hell.” The EU’s refusal to contemplate a similar move is a “clear success,”he said. His comments came just days before top EU leaders, including Topolanek, are set to meet US President Barack Obama face-to-face in London for a G20 summit on the economic crisis. They came just as European diplomats said that they had defused a potential row between the EU and US, after Europe rejected US calls to pump more public money into economic stimulus measures. And their undiplomatic tone sparked a diplomatic scramble as Czech and EU officials strove to distance the bloc from its current chairman. Hours after Topolanek’s outburst, his deputy, Alexander Vondra, blamed the furore on a translation error, saying that the Czech leader had never used the word “hell.” Czech journalists who listened to the speech in the original rejected that claim. The scandal looked set to deepen as Topolanek was reported asaccusing the US of funding its spending by selling bombs. That, however, did turn out to be the result of a mis-translation, the parliamentary interpreter having heard the Czech word “bomby” (bombs) when Topolanek in fact said “bondy”(bonds). – DPA
27 March 2009
Hopes fade for Zimbabwe Harare – Expectations that decades of violent repression meted out by President Robert Mugabe’s henchmen would end with the creation of the new coalition government have been bitterly disappointed, a leading local human-rights body said today. Instead,“not much has changed yet”to the“almost inherent Zimbabwean culture of political victimization and discrimination,”said the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum in its latest report. It catalogued “continued heavy handedness”by police in handling peaceful protests, the upsurge in invasions of white-owned farms and the forced evictions of farmers, and the “selective arrests” of supporters of new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s supporters in incidents where they had clashed with backers of Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party. The report cited the blanket amnesty for perpetrators of “the gruesome crimes” committed by Mugabe’s supporters in the bloody campaign for Mugabe’s re-election in June 2008, and the arrest of Roy Bennett, the white ex-farmer appointed by Tsvangirai to be a deputy minister. Most of the incidents occurred after Tsvangirai, the leader of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was inaugurated as prime minister on February 12, ushering in the new government partnered with Mugabe, it said. “The swearing-in of the prime minister ... created optimism for a new political dispensation,”it said, but it did not bring an end to repression. In a series of demonstrations, protesters – one with an appointment with the new MDC education minister to hand over a petition over the collapse of the education system – were “unlawfully arrested,”
and many of them assaulted. Observers say that the continuation of the violence and repression is the key reason for Western governments’refusals to help finance the bankrupt new government’s desperate attempts to restore Zimbabwe’s economy, shattered after years of misrule by Mugabe. Western leaders have said that they want to see far-reaching reforms in human rights before they contribute toward the 5 billion US dollars the government says it needs to rebuild ruined infrastructure. Bennett’s arrest on allegations of plotting insurgency contravened“the spirit and the letter”of the agreement setting up the coalition government, the report said. Bennett was arrested after a month in jail on the orders of the Supreme Court. The harassment of the white farmers was“in complete disregard”of a ruling last year by a regional Southern African court, which ordered the Zimbabwe government to protect the rights of the farmers and denounced as “racist” their persecution since the start of Mugabe’s notorious “land reform programme,”which has left scarcely 400 of the original 5,000 farmers still on their land. Mugabe on Wednesday said there were “no invasions,” but that white farmers were “resisting” attempts to evict them so that their land could be given to landless blacks. Human-rights bodies say the farmers’land has instead been parcelled out to members of Mugabe’s ruling clique and his family, and millions of hectares of once productive land now lies fallow. – DPA
Big US papers lay off staff By David B. Wilkerson MarketWatch
CHICAGO – A depressed economy and a shift in consumer behavior have taken another toll on the newspaper industry, with the latest round of job cuts planned at the NewYork Times and the Washington Post, two of the most widely read and influential dailies in the world. NewYork Times Co. shares rose 9 percent to close at $4.98 on today, while Washington Post Co.’s stock rose 2 percent to $384.28. NewYork Times Co. will eliminate 100 jobs on the business side of its flagship paper and cut employee pay by 5 percent over the next nine months in exchange for 10 days of leave, according to internal memos obtained by MarketWatch. The 5 percent reduction in pay will affect staffers at The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Boston. com and the company’s corporate unit. At About.com, the company’s regional newspapers, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and other subsidiaries, salaries are being rolled back by 2.5 percent, with five additional days off. “We have reported in our own newspapers and on our own Web sites that the economy is likely to continue struggling throughout this year and possibly longer,”said Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Chief Executive Janet Robinson in their letter.“Given this economic outlook and the changes occurring in the media business, we, regrettably, must take even more steps to lower costs.” Sulzberger and Robinson said that, while the company plans to restore salaries to former levels in 2010,“such a decision depends on the state of our business.” The New York Times had also cut a number of jobs last year. Meanwhile, the Washington Post said it plans to offer buyouts to employees this year at the paper, affecting workers in its newsroom, production and circulation areas, as well as a small number of positions in the advertising and information-technology departments. Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Post and chief executive of its media group, cautioned staffers
that layoffs could occur if certain targets aren’t met through the voluntary retirement plan. “I need not tell you that our industry is undergoing a seismic shift as readers face an array of media choices and our traditional advertising and circulation bases decline,”Weymouth wrote in a memo. “The good news is that the appetite for news is as robust as ever. Thanks to our presence on the Internet and on mobile phones and other devices, our audience includes more readers now than we have ever had. But while online revenues have been growing, they have not yet grown fast enough to offset the declines we are seeing in print revenues.” Weymouth pointed out that the buyouts being offered are not “as generous”as previous plans. The Washington Post also had a staff reduction in 2008. Fortunately for Washington Post Co., its primary revenue driver is now Kaplan Inc., a provider of higher education programs, professional training and other services to students of all ages. For decades, newspapers relied on classifiedadvertising revenue to sustain themselves, and they generated plenty from retailers, financial services, movie studios and many other businesses that found newspapers to be their most effective ad tool. With little competition for classified-ad dollars, profit margins of 30 percent or more were not uncommon, even as the 21st century began.
However, a number of factors have combined to take away this advantage. Using online classified sources such as Craigslist and Monster.com, consumers quickly discovered that they could find sortable, timely listings, and those who wanted to place the ads could do so far more cheaply than they could in newspapers. At the same time, readers of print newspapers began a steady shift toward online sources of news and information. Still, while the economy was healthy, real estate
and help-wanted classifieds were still strong for newspapers. Once the economy began to decline in 2007, however, those revenue streams eroded. Then, as various problems festered among traditionally heavy buyers of newspaper ads such as airlines, automobile makers and retailers, the newspaper industry was thrown into an abyss by the worldwide financial collapse. Last week, Hearst Corp. opted to shut down print operations of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, turning it into a Web-only publication with a small editorial staff. In February, it warned that it might shut down the San Francisco Chronicle unless it could find a way to drastically cut operating costs. Also in February, E.W. Scripps & Co. shut down Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, while Philadelphia Newspapers LLC and Journal Register Co. filed for bankruptcy. Last December,Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and other major dailies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The parent of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune followed suit a month later. Also in January, Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said it would shut down the Tucson Citizen if it could not find a buyer for the Arizona publication.
OZ minister’s China trips’ scandal Sydney – Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was fighting to keep his job this week after admitting he failed to declare trips to China paid for by family friend and prominent local businesswoman Helen Liu. “This was a mistake, and for that, I apologize,” the embattled minister said after being carpeted in Canberra by Education Minister Julia Gillard, who is standing in for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd while he tours abroad. The embarrassing apology came after military top brass launched an investigation into allegations that junior officers spied on Fitzgibbon and leaked
details of his ties to the China-born Liu. According to the leak, Fitzgibbon rents his Canberra flat from Liu.The leak also claimed Fitzgibbon was a security risk because of his ties to China. The Liberal Party’s Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the opposition, is pushing for the sacking of the defence minister. “We need to have a defence minister in whom the Australian Defence Force has confidence, in whom the Australian public has confidence and who can work effectively with his department,”Turnbull said. “Joel Fitzgibbon can do none of those things.” – DPA
ishia Moats said.“Honestly, I don’t think I cared that he had a gun pointed at me. My train of thought is that I’m going to see my mom in the hospital before she dies.” Tamishia Moats and her great-aunt ignored the officer and headed into the hospital. “It was almost like a movie,”she said,“It felt like we had robbed a bank or something.” Ryan Moats, who stayed behind with the father of the dying woman, said Powell also pointed his gun at him. He said he put his hands on the car because he was afraid that he might get shot. “I put my hands on the car so he couldn’t say I reached for something,” Ryan said.“He didn’t ask me to put my hands on the car. I just did it to try to protect myself. I was pleading with him.” He tried to explain the situation to the officer. “I waited until no traffic was coming,”Moats told Powell, explaining his passage through the red light. “I got seconds before she’s gone, man.” Powell demanded his license and proof of insurance. Moats produced his license but said he didn’t know where the insurance paperwork was. “Just give me a ticket or whatever,”he said, beginning to sound exasperated and a little argumentative. “Shut your mouth,” Powell told him.“You can cooperate and settle down, or I can just take you to jail for running a red light.” There was more back and forth. “If you’re going to give me a ticket, give me a ticket.” “Your attitude says that you need one.” “All I’m asking you is just to hurry up.” Powell began a lecture. “If you want to keep this going, I’ll just put you in handcuffs,”the officer said,“and I’ll take you to jail for running a red light.” Powell made several more points, including that the SUV was illegally parked. Moats replied “Yes sir”to each. “Understand what I can do,”Powell concluded.“I can tow your truck. I can charge you with fleeing. I can make your night very difficult.” ICON “I understand,” Moats responded.“I hope you’ll be a great person and not do that.” Hospital security guards arrived and told Powell that the Moatses’ relative really was upstairs dying. Powell spent several minutes inside his squad car, in part to check Moats for outstanding warrants. He found none. By Steve Thompson and Tanya Eiserer of an investigation from Dallas police officials. Another hospital staffer came out and spoke with The Dallas Morning News “There were some things that were said that were a Plano police officer who had arrived. disturbing, to say the least,”said Harvey. “Hey, that’s the nurse,”the Plano officer told PowDALLAS – The Dallas Police Department confirmed Moats’ mother-in-law, Jonetta Collinsworth, was ell.“She said that the mom’s dying right now, and today that an officer drew a gun on NFL running struggling at 45 with breast cancer that had spread she’s wanting to know if they can get him up there back Ryan Moats and his wife after he stopped throughout her body. Family members rushed to her before she dies.” them to give them a ticket even as they begged to bedside from as far away as California. “All right,”Powell replied.“I’m almost done.” hurry to the bedside of their dying mother. On March 17, the Moatses had gone to their As Moats signed the ticket, Powell continued his As he rushed his family to the hospital, Ryan Frisco home to get some rest.Around midnight, they lecture. Moats, 26, rolled through a red light.A Dallas police received word that they needed to hurry back to the “Attitude’s everything,” he said.“All you had to officer pulled their SUV over outside the emergency hospital if they wanted do is stop, tell me what room at the Baylor Regional Medical Center at to see Collinsworth was going on. More than It was the weirdest Plano. before she died. likely, I would have let feeling because I’ve you go.” “He was pointing a gun at me as soon as I got The couple, along out of the car,”said his wife,Tamishia Moats.“It was with Collinsworth’s never had a gun pointed It had been about 13 the weirdest feeling because I’ve never had a gun father and an aunt, minutes. at me before under those pointed at me before under those circumstances.” jumped into the SUV Moats and CollinsSeconds later, Ryan Moats and his wife explained and headed back toward circumstances worth’s father went into that her mother was dying inside the hospital. the hospital.They exited the hospital, where they “You really want to go through this right now?” the Dallas North Tollway, just down the street from found Collinsworth had died, with her daughter at Moats pleaded.“My mother-in-law is dying. Right the hospital. her side. now!” Moats turned on his hazard lights. He stopped at The Moatses, who are black, said Wednesday A Dallas police spokesman said that Officer Rob- a red light, where, he said, the only nearby motorist that they can’t help but think that race might have ert Powell told his commanders that he drew his signalled for him to go ahead. He went through. played a part in how Powell, who is white, treated gun, but did not point it. Lt. Andy Harvey said it Powell, watching traffic from a hidden spot, them. is not unusual for officers to draw a gun without flipped on his lights and sirens. In less than a minute, “I think he should lose his job,”said Ryan Moats, pointing it. Drawing a gun is not unusual in traffic he caught up to the SUV and followed for about 20 a Dallas native who attended Bishop Lynch High stops where officers feel threatened. more seconds as Moats found a parking spot outside School and now plays for the Houston Texans. Officer Powell could not be reached for comment. the emergency room. Powell was hired in January 2006.Assistant Chief Powell, 25, spent long minutes writing Moats a Tamishia, 27, was the first out. Powell drew his Floyd Simpson said Powell told police officials that ticket and threatened him with arrest during the gun and yelled at her to get back in. he believed that he was doing his job. He has been incident. “Get in there!” he yelled. “Let me see your re-assigned to dispatch pending an investigation. “I can screw you over,”the officer told Moats.“I’d hands!” “When people are in distress, we should come rather not do that.” “My mom is dying,”she explained to him. to the rescue,”said Simpson.“We shouldn’t further The scene last week, captured by a dashboard Powell was undeterred. their distress.” video camera, prompted apologies and the promise “I saw in his eyes that he really did not care,”TamCollinsworth was buried Saturday in Louisiana.
Traffic cop stopped sports star on mercy dash
27 March 2009
‘God set me free, really’ By Heather Ratcliffe St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS – Darryl Burton wrote hundreds of letters from behind bars to judges, lawyers, politicians and journalists before he penned the one that changed his life. He wrote to God. “You know I’m innocent,”Burton wrote, although he didn’t believe in God at the time.“Help me get out of this place, and I’ll tell the world about you.” Burton, 47, said God came through, and now he’s trying to hold up his end of the bargain.“I told Jesus that I’d go anywhere,”he said.“I plan to do just that.” Since his St. Louis murder conviction was overturned in August, Burton has visited colleges, radio stations, churches and the Missouri capital to tell his story. Invitations have come from as far as Russia. He said many expect to hear anger. But, he said, “I’m not bitter. I’m better. I have peace that surpasses understanding.” Experts say Burton benefits from two key advantages: faith and family. “The folks who do the best have strong family ties when incarcerated and when they are released,”said Kate Germond,director of the Centurion Project,in Princeton,N.J., an advocacy group for the wrongly convicted. Said John Wilson, a psychologist at Cleveland State University who works with the exonerated, “That is so restorative, to reconnect with loving people who didn’t reject you.” Burton’s story starts in 1984,when neighbours whispered his name to St.Louis police after a man was shot at a gas station. Burton, then 21, thought it would be cleared by the end of the day. It took 24 years. While waiting for a miracle, Burton learned to survive prison. “Some of the things I saw in there and had to live through are unbelievable,”he said.“I did whatever I had to do to survive.” With little hope left, Burton said, he found peace in penning his request to God. He began reading his Bible and studying Jesus. “He spoke about forgiveness to people who harm you,”Burton said.“I knew I had to follow this man. I started praying for the people who hurt me, and I was free.” Two years after his conversion, lawyers from Centurion took his case.They won a hearing based on evidence that key witnesses lied in court. In August, a judge overturned the conviction. Burton found that freedom wasn’t easy, either. He didn’t qualify for state compensation. He reentered society with a change of clothes, release papers and $1,000 he saved from prison wages. Burton moved to Kansas City to be near his attorneys.They helped him find counselling, health care and housing, and bought him his first cell phone. “I’m like a child,”Burton said,“learning how to do everything again.” He said he filled out dozens of job applications but got no calls. No one would give him a chance to explain his lack of work experience. He got his first break in December from a sympathetic manager at a business that slaughters hogs. “I just couldn’t do it,”he said.“I’m a vegetarian.” Despite his struggles, Burton hopes to do more than cope. He said he has a mission to spread the Gospel and help friends he left behind. “I want to continue to tell the story because I’m not the only one,”Burton said.“There are other people in prison who are innocent.”
27 March 2009
Result of Melbourne F1 already in doubt Melbourne – Race stewards turned down protests filed by Preliminary lineup Main driver in bold; helmet of main driver only: several Formula One teams today against rivals Brawn GP, WilLewis Hamilton liams and Toyota over their cars Heikki Kovalainen two days ahead of the Australian Grand Prix Nico Rosberg Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Renault Kazuki Nakajima and Red Bull complained the three teams’ diffusers – a part of Nick Heidfeld Robert Kubica the car which improves its aerodynamic performance – gives Jarno Trulli them an unfair advantage Timo Glock The protest, which was lodged after stewards in Melbourne said Sebastien Bourdais the cars conformed with Formula Sebastien Buemi One’s rules, was turned down by the three race commissioners Fernando Alonso The teams now intend to appeal Nelson Piquet Jr. the decision to motorsport’s ruling body FIA, which would likely not Felipe Massa Kimi Raikkonen hear the case until after the second race of the season in Malaysia on Mark Webber April 5.It remains unclear whether Sebastian Vettel this would make the results of the first two races conditional on the Adrian Sutil outcome of that appeal Giancarlo Fisichella The dispute centres around the rear diffusers, a part of the bodyJenson Button work between the rear wheels Rubens Barrichello © 2009 MCT and under the rear wing which Source: Formula1.com, F1wolf.com, F1fanatic.com Graphic: Scott Bell NOTE: All helmets without ads disperses air from under the car It is claimed the designs of the Brawn GP,Williams and Toyota cars will give them a than Brawn GP,Williams and Toyota, who will now speed advantage of up to 0.5 seconds a lap as a result run with the controversial set-up at Albert Park of the extra downforce which boosts a cars grip on the “We interpret the rules differently and don’t see track New regulations limit the size of the diffusers the leeway which the three teams are using but the three teams have found a potential loophole “If this is ruled to be legal there will be much in the rules by designing the rear bodywork to effec- more scope than has been made use of so far by tively act as part of the diffuser, increasing its size the three teams.” “It’s nothing personal against the teams, it’s simIt would lead to new and expensive efforts by ply looking to clarify regulations – our interpreta- teams to redesign their cars to give them a similar tions and others have been different,”said Red Bull aerodynamics advantage, he added team principal Christian Horner The BMW protest was later rejected on a formal“Our purpose in all of this is to establish the ity but the other teams’protests were accepted clarity of the regulation, because it has significant McLaren-Mercedes didn’t lodge an official protest impact on how we channel our development.” but Mercedes motorsport director Norbert Haug comBMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said his mented that the issue“has to be clearly regulated.” BMW-Sauber team understood the rules differently – DPA
2009 F1 teams and drivers
New Zealand’s Jesse Ryder celebrates his 200 runs against India on the 2nd day of the 2nd international cricket test at McLean Park, Napier. NZPA / Ross Setford
India 79-3 at stumps, trail NZ by 540 runs Napier, March 27 – India are 79 for three in reply to New Zealand’s first innings of 619 for nine declared at stumps on the second day of the second cricket test at McLean Park here today. Rahul Dravid will resume tomorrow morning on 21 and Sachin Tendulkar has yet to score when they set about erasing a 540-run deficit. The follow-on mark is 420. Virender Sehwag made 34, Gautan Gambhir 16
and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma a duck as they all fell in the 23 overs available before stumps. New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori had figures of two for 16 from five overs and offspinner Jeetan Patel one for six from four. Earlier, Jesse Ryder topscored for New Zealand with 201 and Brendon McCullum made 115 to follow on from Ross Taylor’s 151 yesterday. – NZPA
Condensed super rugby competition mooted By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA
Wellington, March 27 – A condensed version of Super rugby has been mooted as another way to resolve the impasse between Australasia and South Africa as Sanzar looks to expand and improve beyond 2010. A New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) delegation returned from Johannesburg this week confident that progress has been made towards a united front between the three Sanzar partners before a June 30 deadline to present a new-look competition to broadcasters. Chief executive Steve Tew didn’t want to discuss specifics today and admitted the issue remained a work in progress. “We believe we’re quite close to having something that is quite compelling for all three countries but obviously the other countries would have to agree with us,”Tew said. A sticking point remains New Zealand’s desire to push the Super 14 start date back at least a month to March. South Africa are happy with the existing February start or earlier as it allows the competition to flow into their domestic Currie Cup starting in late June. It has sold its television rights for the Currie Cup from 2011 until 2015 and agreed to refuse any proposal which waters down the competition. Tew did not dismiss a suggested compromise that
would see the competition start in March and finish by late June. “We are looking at some alternative competition models that will enable us to achieve those two things,”he said. Such a competition would be shorter in time than the existing Super 14 and may not suit Australian officials,who have called for a long competition due their country’s lack of any domestic level competition. Whatever the outcome,Tew said the NZRU would be hard to budge from its March start date for every year that doesn’t feature a World Cup. “We are of a very strong view the competition needs to start later,”he said. “Our fans are telling us, by voting with their feet, that February is too early for rugby.The fact you’re all watching test cricket today would suggest we might be right. “Ultimately these things will come down to trade-offs.” A Super 15 competition featuring three conferences of five teams has previously been mooted. However, the NZRU and its Australian counterparts have begun work on alternative trans-Tasman or Asia-Pacific options if South Africa can’t come to terms. “Our very strong preference remains a transIndian Ocean Sanzar competition that involves teams from all three countries,”Tew said. More talks are scheduled for next month.
Rugby, softball pitch Oly. Ctte By Frank Schwab
DENVER – There’s a chance the International Olympic Committee won’t take any new sports for the 2016 Games.At most two will be added.But the stakes are too high for the seven sports that have been shortlisted for consideration to be discouraged. Federations for squash, baseball and softball have booths at SportAccord conference, as they lobby for an Olympic bid. Rugby, golf, karate and roller sports are the others under consideration.The seven sports will make a presentation to the executive committee this June in Switzerland,in August the executive committee could recommend two or three sports for a vote, and they will wait for the final vote in Copenhagen, Denmark,in October.The process is long and difficult, and there’s not a guaranteed payoff at the end. “It’s like climbing a mountain,isn’t it?”said Natalie Grainger, a former top-ranked squash player who came to SportAccord to promote squash.“But it’s the pinnacle of everything, so I guess it should be hard.” The door is closed pretty tight, as a group trying to get women’s ski jumping in the 2010 Olympics has found. It held a press conference Tuesday morning in a hotel less than a mile from the SportAccord headquarters, pleading again for IOC president Jacques Rogge to meet with them. Last week they sent a letter to Rogge’s office, with confirmation of
receipt, and sent him a fax.They didn’t hear back, and they didn’t get a meeting with Rogge before they had to leave Denver at 3 p.m. “It’s very disappointing and it’s hard to take because we’ve put our lives into this,”said Canadian team member Katie Willis about the difficulty in getting accepted to the Olympics. The representatives at SportAccord gave reasons why their sport should be picked.Women’s ski jumpers point to their growing participants and gender equality. Squash legend Jahangir Kahn, who once won 555 straight matches over a five-year span and is also at SportAccord, said 175 countries and almost 200 million people play squash. Softball’s pitch centers around the sport’s values, such as the lack of a positive drug test when it was in the Olympics. There are Web sites devoted to the causes (www. backsoftball.com and www.wsj2010.com among them). This week, International Softball Federation representatives will split up, with one going to New Zealand and another to Vancouver to speak to Olympic committees, with another staying in Denver. Every sport feels it should be included, but there is no way to tell which – if any – will be selected. “There’s really nothing to go by,”said Jessica Mendoza,a two-time U.S.softball Olympian.“I wish there was a specific formula, like if you meet this criteria you’re back in. But it’s a lot more subjective.”
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27 March 2009
TV & Film
The Great Buck Howard
Return of the King A new series of The Tudors By Luaine Lee
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers thinks he still has worlds to conquer, though he’s won five awards and been nominated for even more. Audiences and critics were stunned by his performance as the young Henry VIII in Sunday Theatre’s elegant series, The Tudors, which begins its third season soon. But, like Henry, Rhys Meyers is battling his own dragons.“Even though I’ve had the body of work I’ve had, and the success I’ve had, I do not rest on my laurels whatsoever,”he says in a quiet guest room at a hotel here. “Everything I’ve done up till now has been an apprenticeship. I haven’t even started to do my real work yet. I haven’t really hit the stride yet.” He’s always compelled to exceed himself, he confesses.“I think it’s secretly demanded of you by whoever gave you the gift. Also people demand improvement because they’re paying money to sit down and watch you, so you’d better get better.” Though he never had an acting lesson, Rhys Meyers has been working as an actor since he was 18.“I got paid 20 grand for my first film. And that’s the lowest I ever got paid,”he says. Before he donned Henry’s crown,Rhys Meyers costarred in Velvet Goldmine, Bend it Like Beckham and Woody Allen’s Match Point.But American audiences first became enamoured of his sinewy good looks and intriguing acting style on the miniseries, Elvis,where he personified the“king”of another era. Playing those roles was not as difficult as Henry, says Rhys Meyers, who’s wearing a black tuxedo
jacket with satin lapels, acid-washed jeans and tan cowboy boots. “The hardest part about playing Henry has always been the hardest part about playing Henry. It’s not like when I played Elvis or even Match Point where I could look in the mirror and I could see the character. I can’t look in the mirror and see Henry. I have to see my own version of Henry,”he says. “Yet none of the actors who are in the series look anything like the people they’re playing. But I’m the only one that gets any flak for it because Henry was so immortalized by Holbein’s paintings.That’s not necessarily what Henry looked like. It’s just great art,”he says. “History has a way of skewing people’s view. Playing Henry can be very, very difficult at times but it’s also very, very freeing because there’s not one person in the world – I don’t care how many books they’ve read – there’s not one person in the world who can tell me what Henry talked like, what he walked like, how he behaved himself. Nobody can tell me absolutely that that’s the way it was because they don’t know. It’s all guess work.” Rhys Meyers grew up in Cork County, Ireland with three younger brothers. His father is a freelance musician, who lives in the south of Spain. His mother mostly reared the children and did volunteer work. “My dad was around a bit,”says Rhys Meyers,“but as a musician, they have to travel the roads.” Maybe Rhys Meyers inherited his wanderlust from his father because he loves to travel. He’s explored Morocco, the Sudan, Egypt,Tibet, Nepal. “I liked travelling when I was younger, now I travel for work,” he says.“When I was young I just travelled. My plan was to travel, work, travel, work. So I
haven’t done some of my own travelling for a while, but I will,”he pauses. “I’ve had a lot of holidays booked and cancelled in my life which also makes it very,very difficult to have a relationship because moving the way an actor moves is the same way an arch criminal moves:they’ve got to GO (he snaps his fingers).If you get a phone call from Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese on the eleventh hour,you’ve been offered this role – bang,gone.Which is why I’ve stayed away from marriage and children so I can be the gypsy if I want to.” Though he has no sweetheart, nor is he looking, he says,“I think, I’d like to do that (marry) at some point in my life. But I just turned 31 and it’s all about my work right how. I’ve got a good body of work, a bunch of nominations and some awards and now is the time to go forward and do proper, real male roles because I worked through my 20s. “It’s very difficult to cast somebody in their 20s because you can only cast them as a teenager and they don’t really have the experience to play the male roles yet. So I think it’s when you get into your 30s that those roles actually come.” Even so, Rhys Meyers has been acting since he was a boy. “As a kid I spent an awful lot of time pretending I was somebody else,”he admits.“I think growing up in the 1980s wasn’t very exciting so you kind of create this secret life of an alternate person. You pretend to be whatever you need to be that day, so you live in that dream world. So it’s very easy to be an actor. I did a lot of acting when I was a kid. Not professionally, just to get myself in and out of trouble.” Watch the trailer
0Cast: John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt 0Director: Sean McGinly 0Length: 90 minutes 0Rated: PG (for some language including suggestive remarks, and a drug reference) There’s a pinch of magic in John Malkovich’s performance as The Great Buck Howard. Malkovich plays a once-famous mind reader hungry for a comeback. Buck, a top casino headliner and Tonight Show regular in the 1960s, is reduced to playing hick towns and community centres. Still, he refuses to accept that the world has passed him by. To reignite his career, he hires a law school dropout (Colin Hanks) to serve as his road manager and personal assistant, and a self-assured publicist (Emily Blunt) to drum up coverage of his comeback. Their mission: To book Buck on the Leno show, a sure-thing springboard back to the big rooms in Vegas. The closer Buck gets his big break, however, the more his plans backfire and his mind-reading stunts go wrong. The oddball mannerisms that make Malkovich such a live wire are tamped down here, and we see a warm - dare I say likable - personality he’s never displayed before. Buck is a pompous, self-aggrandizing ham, but his vigorous handshakes and signature audience greeting, “I love this town!” are undeniably appealing. Sporting a blonde wig and garish shirt-and-tie combinations, he looks every inch a show business anachronism, and he is an endearingly clueless bluffer about current pop culture. When he dedicates a trick “to Sulu from ‘Star Trek,’ may the Force be in you,” he gets it so wrong it’s right. Hanks and Blunt make a pleasing romantic couple, Steve Zahn and Debra Monk pop up amusingly as a couple of Cincinnati hangers-on, and the final reels of the film are chockablock with cameos by top entertainers, including Hanks’ dad, Tom. Still, “Buck Howard” is Malkovich’s show. When’s he’s off the screen, the film sputters, but while he’s on-camera, it’s magical. Watch the trailer
– By Colin Covert
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27 March 2009
NEW CD RELEASES
Echoes of war, real and tragic
0Blending Times 0Savoy Here on the follow-up to 2005’s “In Flux,”Coltrane assembles a set that alternates between band originals and tunes he calls“improvisations.”Even the lone standard,Thelonious Monk’s“Epistrophy,”comes with a more freely imagined vamp.Coltrane has been reluctant to capitalize on his huge legacy, focusing instead on his development with groups ranging from the acidic collective M-Base and its founder, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman,to trumpeter Ralph Alessi and the Saxophone Summit band. This quartet outing includes some sheets-ofsound moments worthy of Dad, yet it’s also highly melodic at times.The Venezuelan-born pianist Luis Perdomo is a welcome presence, providing a palette of lines from funk to Latin to modernist derring-do. Bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland backstop the risk-taking.
0Jeffrey Fleishman 0Arcade, US$24.95
Newspaper reporters will love this book. Editors and publishers? Well, maybe not so much. The author is Jeffrey Fleishman, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize who covered the Kosovo and Iraq wars before becoming Cairo bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. It’s no surprise, then, that his novel is set in Kosovo. Nor that the main character is a veteran war correspondent, Jay Morgan, who is trying to track down a mysterious stranger rumoured to be smuggling money, weapons and talk of jihad to the Muslim rebels in the mountains. Between forays into the war zone with his interpreter,Alija, a traumatized war victim who is looking for her missing brother, Morgan hangs out in run-down bars and seedy hotels with other report–Karl Stark ers. Inevitably, the talk turns to writing – and to editors, publishers and the state of journalism today. Keri Hilson After a hellish 24 hours witnessing the horrors of 0In a Perfect World war – “the land explodes, houses burn, women are 0Mosley/Interscope sliced and raped, dirt paths vanish into thickets, roadblocks appear like gangster lemonade stands armed with drunken or jittery guerrillas”– a story It’s no secret singer-songwriter will land on page A-10, Morgan says. Keri Hilson’s debut has been “Behind a piece on the dangers of cosmetic surgery kicking around for nearly a year and some badly written tale about cod fishing.” now, finally landing a release These days, Morgan says,“I wince when I hear an date thanks to the success of her editor or some media bean counter talk about comcollaboration with Lil Wayne, mitment to journalism. It did exist once, beautiful, “Turnin’ Me On.”One listen to “In a Perfect World” untrammelled. But now that commitment begins explains the delay.Though Hilson has had a hand in only after shareholders get their 21 percent and writing smashes like Ludacris’“Runaway Love”and incompetent CEOs wheedle the legalese of golden Britney Spears’“Gimme More,”many of the songs parachutes.” she saved for herself are way too bland. As for the journalists“chattering and saying nothThe Ciara-like ballad“Make Love”seems to go on ing” on the Sunday-morning talk shows,“They’re forever, especially following the similarly too-long, everywhere doing everything but journalism,”Mortoo-drawn-out “Slow Dance.”The Janet Jackson- gan says. styled synth-poppy epic “Alienated” also falls flat, “They speculate, they ponder, they prattle in with a wandering melody and a breathy delivery. polemics.A monkey with a thesaurus can do it. I’ve The album’s best moments come when her guest never seen these hacks and pundits in the places stars lend her their firepower.The futuristic feel of I am. I only see them in TV studios, hair stiff as “Turnin’Me On,”as well as Lil Wayne’s playful,Auto- frost...” Tuned cameo,force Hilson to sing in a different,memoBut relax, nonreporter readers. Such musings rable way to try to keep up with him. – insightful though they are – are merely asides. Hilson clearly has a lot of potential, as she showed Promised Virgins is an adventure story in the manwith her breakthrough with Timbaland. But aside ner of Graham Greene or Ernest Hemingway. It’s from a few well-crafted moments,“In a Perfect a terrific tale of action and suspense, trust and World”doesn’t come close to fulfilling it. betrayal, age-old enmity and newly forged com– Glenn Gamboa radeship. And every line is real. Fleischman leaves no doubt: He has been here, done this. James MacMillan His writing is explosive, his characters intriguing, 0“St. John Passion” Christopher their dialogue authentic – and often very amusing. Maltman, baritone; London Symphony But his message is unambiguous:This war, every war, Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Colin Davis is sordid, tragic, terrifying.
conducting 0LSO Live, two discs
Promised Virgins is an adventure story in the manner of Graham Greene or Ernest Hemingway. It’s a terrific tale of action and suspense, trust and betrayal, age-old enmity and newly forged comradeship. And every line is real. Fleischman leaves no doubt: He has been here, done this Long Lost brings back Myron for a story that seems tailor-made for him: A former girlfriend immediately needs his help in Paris.Years before, former TV reporter Terese Collins left Myron and subsequently disappeared from the public eye. Now she needs to know why her ex-husband Rick, an investigative reporter, has been murdered and what secret was he about to reveal.That secret will plunge Myron, his violent best friend Win Lockwood and Teresa in a crazed chase across France and England. One of Coben’s hallmarks has been his novels’ believability, the Hitchcockian this-could-happento-anyone feeling that the author shaped so well, but is sorely lacking in Long Lost. Despite a promising start, Myron seems oddly out of place in Long Lost as the plot encompasses international terrorists, Homeland Security and shadowy cults.A twist, while inventive, is outlandish and would be more at home in a Robin Cook novel or a science fiction. Myron still is one of Coben’s most captivating characters,but the sports agent’s personality doesn’t shine through as it has in previous novels. But Long Lost does poignantly show the depth of Myron and Win’s friendship and, without being maudlin, how being in each other’s lives has made each of them a better person. Coben has never abandoned Myron, bringing the character back several times between his standalone thrillers; the last time was the excellent Promise Me. The disappointing Long Lost was not the vehicle to mark Myron’s return after a three-year absence. – By Oline H. Cogdill
– By Jean Patteson
Religious works are anything but new to Scottish composer James MacMillan, but this is one of his most ambitious ever,partly because of the magnitude of the story (the arrest,trial and crucifixion of Jesus), partly because the composer cast a wide net to tell it. The most basic model seems to be Berlioz’ Romeo et Juliette in its use of choral recitatives to tell the story, scenes that could have been plucked from an opera as well as purely orchestral moments for more abstract contemplation.Also,early Penderecki is heard in MacMillan’s ethereal glissandos that characterize the Last Supper. But all of it melds into MacMillan at his most vital: His account of the crucifixion is more agonizing than any I’ve heard, and Christ (baritone Maltman) has plenty of anger.Only time will tell if this is a masterwork, but it’s a likely candidate. – David Patrick Stearns
Life as the ‘Birdboy’ Harlan Coben disap- of Long Island points with Long Lost Flying Long Lost
0Eric Kraft 0Picador, $18 paper
Harlan Coben has become one of the most popular authors through the alchemy of his two styles of mysteries. His award-winning series about sports agent and wise-acre Myron Bolitar, which succinctly mixed wry humour with a hard-edged plots, jumpstarted his career. Six high-concept thrillers not only put him on best-sellers lists but also established his own genre – the family thriller. Each of Coben’s novels has sealed his reputation for complex, entertaining and plausible stories. But Long Lost doesn’t live up to the high standards that Coben has established for himself.
Eric Kraft’s new book arrived on my doorstep bearing a bouquet of effusive literary comparisons: Pynchon, Proust, Borges, Nabokov, David Foster Wallace and, placed fetchingly among them like a spray of baby’s breath, Fred Astaire. Not having gotten through any full-length works by Pynchon or Borges, having assayed but not succeeded with Infinite Jest, and not really getting the Astaire, I was more cowed than wooed. Now that I’ve read it, I’ll give you the not-sohigh-culture translation: It’s as if Pee Wee Herman starred in an adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth written by Tom Stoppard and Alain de Botton. Extremely arch, extremely smart and more or less
0Harlan Coben 0Dutton, US$27.95
free of real narrative tension or emotion, Kraft’s book is less a conventional narrative than a series of fables that explores imagination and memory, makes jokes about various intellectual matters and examines how we fabricate and promulgate the Story of Our Lives. Flying contains a trilogy of novellas that comprise the 11th, 12th and 13th segments of a series – “The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences and Observations of Peter Leroy.”Peter grew up in fictional Babbington, Long Island, not far from the shores of Bolotomy Bay, about 50 years ago. (Kraft is a Long Island native.) Flying covers Peter’s legendary exploits as the“Birdboy of Babbington”– a teenager who built a plane in his garage and flew to New Mexico and back. The legend has become so central to Babbington’s identity that the town’s Redefinition Authority has made the day of Peter’s triumphant 1961 return the theme of its Historic Downtown Plaza (this is where you get your David Foster Wallace). But Peter, now all grown up and married to a woman named Albertine (here’s the Proust) is compelled to correct the much-bowdlerized story of his trip. While it is true that he followed instructions from Impractical Craftsman magazine to construct an “aerocycle,”the wretched reality is that The Spirit of Babbington never did get off the ground. Peter’s was an overland journey, one he recreates in memory while retracing it with Albertine in an electric car. Forced to rely on the kindness of strangers during his first cross-country trip, the Birdboy of Babbington often runs into trouble.At the 97th Annual Marshmallow Festival in the town of Mallowdale, Peter lands in the hoosegow. When he gets out in the morning, the sheriff delivers this lecture on the lessons of his experience: “I would hope you discovered that a readiness to perceive the state of things as pertaining specifically to ourselves is one of the ways in which our senses are often deceived. I would hope that you discovered that when we have insufficient data to know what is actually the case, we interpret the data we have in a way that suits our predilections: optimists see good news; pessimists see bad news; the timid see danger; and a nostalgic booster such as yourself is apt to see in a crowd of strangers the eager ears of friends-to-be who want to listen to him describe each and every detail about his humble hometown and its queer customs.” Philosophers are everywhere here, and the whole book is a running joke about how little anyone actually wants to hear Peter’s story.The truth is, I know how they feel. I didn’t really like the book – but the book already seemed to know that about me and come prepared with ever more charming strategies to win me over. I won’t be reading volumes 1-10, but Flying did, quite often, make me smile. – By Marion Winik
27 March 2009
medicine at a glance
Drugs in fish caught from dirty rivers WACO, Texas, March 27 (UPI) – U.S. researchers say they’ve found low-levels of antidepressants, cholesterol drugs and seizure medications in fish collected from polluted rivers. The study by Baylor University involved collection of fish from rivers in Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and West Chester, Pa., that routinely receive effluent discharges from wastewater treatment plants. The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Baylor researchers said there there are no guidelines or federal testing standards for pharmaceuticals or most personal care products in wastewater because their effects in surface waters aren’t well understood, the university said in a news release. Researchers tested fish fillets and liver tissue for 24 human medications and tested fish fillets for 12 chemicals found in personal care products. Seven pharmaceuticals and two personal care products were found in fish at all five river sites. The drugs included gemfibrozil, diphenhydramine, carbamazepine, norfluoxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline. They also found Galaxolide and tonalide, which are both fragrances used in soap and other personal-care products. Circumcision cuts STD risk BALTIMORE, March 27 (UPI) – Circumcised men are much less likely to contract human papillomavirus and herpes than uncircumcised men, U.S. and Ugandan researchers said. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Makerere University in Uganda, The Wall Street Journal reported today. The findings are based on a study of nearly 3,400 men in Africa, half of whom underwent circumcision. The data suggest circumcised heterosexual men are 35 percent less likely to contract HPV and 25 percent less likely to catch herpes. Data from that study previously showed that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV by one-half. “The scientific evidence for the public-health benefits of male circumcision is overwhelming now,” study author Dr. Aaron Tobian of Johns Hopkins Hospital told the newspaper. Possible risk for statin use is identified HALLE, Germany, March 27 (UPI) – German scientists say they have determined people with high levels of a certain enzyme who are taking statins are at increased risk of heart attack. In a study of 1,085 individuals with coronary artery disease, researchers found high levels of an enzyme called phospholipid transferprotein significantly increased the risk of heart attack in the subset of patients taking statins. The scientists, led by Dr. Axel Schlitt of Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany, said that while follow-up studies will be needed, their findings suggest levels of PLTP in the blood should be a consideration for potential statin treatment. PLTP is involved in the metabolism of cholesterolcontaining molecules such as LDL and HDL and therefore has been associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease, the researchers said. In the study, although statin patients experienced a lower overall rates of heart attack, some individuals are at higher risk than normal. Schlitt and his colleagues hypothesize the high PLTP levels may blunt the beneficial effects of statins. The research appears in the April issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.
To help ward off dementia, train your brain By Linda Shrieves The Orlando Sentinel
Timing is everything, comedians say. It’s also important when it comes to taking care of your brain.Yet most of us start worrying about dementia after retirement – and that may be too little, too late. Experts say that if you really want to ward off dementia, you need to start taking care of your bean in your 30s and 40s – or even earlier. “More and more research is suggesting that lifestyle is very important to your brain’s health,”says Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.“If you want to live a long, healthy life, then many of us need to start as early as we can.” So what can you do to beef up your brain – and possibly ward off dementia? Nussbaum,who recently gave a speech on the topic for the Winter Park Health Foundation, offers 20 tips that may help. 1. Join clubs or organizations that need volunteers. If you start volunteering now, you won’t feel lost and unneeded after you retire. 2. Develop a hobby or two. Hobbies help you develop a robust brain because you’re trying something new and complex. 3. Practice writing with your nondominant hand
several minutes every day.This will exercise the opposite side of your brain and fire up those neurons. 4. Take dance lessons. In a study of nearly 500 people, dancing was the only regular physical activity associated with a significant decrease in the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The people who danced three or four times a week showed 76 percent less incidence of dementia than those who danced only once a week or not at all. 5.Need a hobby? Start gardening. Researchers in New Zealand found that, of 1,000 people, those who gardened regularly were less likely to suffer from dementia. Not only does gardening reduce stress, but gardeners use their brains to plan gardens; they use visual and spatial reasoning to lay out a garden. 6. Buy a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Walking daily can reduce the risk of dementia because cardiovascular health is important to maintain blood flow to the brain. 7. Read and write daily. Reading stimulates a wide variety of brain areas that process and store information. Likewise, writing (not copying) stimulates many areas of the brain as well. 8. Start knitting. Using both hands works both sides of your brain.And it’s a stress reducer. 9.Learn a new language.Whether it’s a foreign language or sign language,you are working your brain by making it go back and forth between one language and the other. A researcher in England found that
being bilingual seemed to delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for four years.(And some research suggests that the earlier a child learns sign language,the higher his IQ – and people with high IQs are less likely to have dementia. So start them early.) 10. Play board games such as Scrabble and Monopoly. Not only are you taxing your brain, you’re socializing too. (Playing solo games, such as solitaire or online computer brain games can be helpful, but Nussbaum prefers games that encourage you to socialize too.) 11.Take classes throughout your lifetime. Learning produces structural and chemical changes in the brain, and education appears to help people live longer. Brain researchers have found that people with advanced degrees live longer – and if they do have Alzheimer’s, it often becomes apparent only in the very later stages of the disease. 12. Listen to classical music. A growing volume of research suggests that music may hard wire the brain, building links between the two hemispheres. Any kind of music may work, but there’s some research that shows positive effects for classical music, though researchers don’t understand why. 13.Learn a musical instrument. It may be harder than it was when you were a kid, but you’ll be developing a dormant part of your brain. 14. Travel. When you travel (whether it’s to a distant vacation spot or on a different route across town), you’re forcing your brain to navigate a new and complex environment.A study of London taxi drivers found experienced drivers had larger brains because they have to store lots of information about locations and how to navigate there. 15. Pray. Daily prayer appears to help your immune system. And people who attend a formal worship service regularly live longer and report happier, healthier lives. 16. Learn to meditate. It’s important for your brain that you learn to shut out the stresses of everyday life. 17. Get enough sleep. Studies have shown a link between interrupted sleep and dementia. 18. Eat more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, sardines, tuna, ocean trout, mackerel or herring, plus walnuts (which are higher in omega 3s than salmon) and flaxseed. Flaxseed oil, cod liver oil and walnut oil are good sources too. 19.Eat more fruits and vegetables.Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables mop up some of the damage caused by free radicals, one of the leading killers of brain cells. 20. Eat at least one meal a day with family and friends.You’ll slow down, socialize, and research shows you’ll eat healthier food than if you ate alone or on the go.
From a sadness, gifts to others By Anita Creamer McClatchy Newspapers
HeatherWheeler knows the loneliness and devastation too well.With the stillbirth of her second son, Grant KeltonWheeler,on Feb.4,2007,she entered a sorority no one would choose, a motherhood united in loss. Now she wants to help other families whose babies have died before, during or just after birth. “I wanted to make something good out of something bad,” says Wheeler, 34.“I remember saying that to one of my nurses. He will not be forgotten. But you have a tremendous amount of grief to get through first. “I came home, and I longed for that blanket he’d been wrapped in. I cried myself to sleep at night longing for something he’d touched. It was a huge regret that I hadn’t asked for it.” With Grant’s Gift, Wheeler and her husband, Kevin, 36, a school psychologist, have donated almost 300 baby blankets to hospitals in California and Oregon so that stillborn babies can be cradled in them.The Wheelers intend the blankets as keepsakes for grieving parents. A VIRAL INFECTION According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, one in every 115 American pregnancies ends in stillbirth – defined as naturally occurring fetal death after 20 weeks’gestation. The Wheelers, who live in Rocklin, Calif., have two other sons – 5-year-old Gavin and baby Graden, who was born in June. “My second pregnancy, up until the point he died, was perfect,”says Wheeler, a communications specialist for Adventist Health. When she was 25 weeks along, Grant stopped moving.At Sutter Roseville Medical Center, doctors discovered he’d contracted a viral infection, with no hope for survival. He died hours later and was delivered the next day. “Sometimes, the husbands are overlooked,”says Wheeler,“but my husband has been profoundly affected. He was there. He gave our child his first and last bath.This affects the whole family.” She put together a Web site in Grant’s memory – www.grantsgift.org – and in December began asking her co-workers and family members to help her collect nice, new receiving blankets to donate, expecting only a handful. Soon, anonymous donations were arriving in the mail, too, including a boxful of blankets someone sent from Maine. We don’t much like to talk about stillbirth, it seems, but when people have been touched by it,
they understand what it means to help other people going through the same thing. ‘SUCH A SPECIAL THING’ In early February, just in time for Grant’s birthday, Wheeler distributed the washed and neatly packaged Grant’s Gift blankets to eight hospitals in the Adventist Health chain, as well as Sutter Roseville. “We haven’t had to give them out yet, thankfully,” says Debbie Shoro, a labor and delivery nurse at Sutter Roseville.“But these blankets are such a special thing. “It’s always heartbreaking when someone loses a baby. It comes on so unexpectedly. Parents had hopes and dreams for their baby. Having something soft and special like this blanket is such a human thing, a mommy thing.” For Heather Wheeler, the blankets are a way of finding purpose in the loss of her son. “I wish my son was here,” she says.“I wish that every day, but he’s made me a better person. “All your kids teach you something. I’ve probably learned the most from the son I don’t get to spend this life with. “I want to wrap my arms around people in the same situation, because I know how hard it is.There are no words.”
SCIENCE & TECH 17
27 March 2009
Obama’s hi-tech outreach
By Trenton Daniel McClatchy Newspapers
Cute, efficient Eee Top looks like future By Brier Dudley The Seattle Times
Asus’ adorable new touch-screen Eee Top desktop computer is a blast from the past. Not from the early days of computing, but the auto industry 40 years ago. While testing the $900 Windows XP system the past few weeks, I kept thinking of how Asian car companies upended the U.S. market in the late 1960s by introducing small, cheap and charming models such as the Toyota Corolla and Datsun 510. They arrived just before a recession and a fuel crisis. Soon millions of people were deciding they would sacrifice power and size for efficiency. The same thing has been happening to the PC industry since 2007, when Asus and others introduced mini-laptops at prices starting below $500. Dubbed netbooks, these machines generally have a 7-inch screen and low-power processors originally designed for handheld devices. You could also call them a hit phenomenon. Lately netbooks have been the lone bright spot for PC makers, including Asian netbook pioneers and U.S. companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard that followed suit with their own versions. More than 10 million netbooks were sold last year, and sales are expected to double this year, according to research firm IDC. Now Asus is building new models on the Eee platform, hoping it can bring the netbook effect to the desktop market. If the Eee PC was like a hit sedan, the Eee Top – which went on sale March 9 – is a station wagon or SUV built on the same chassis. Jackie Hsu,Asus president for the Americas, said the system was deliberately designed to appeal to homemakers, as well as students and kids. He also hopes companies will use Eee Top at receptionist desks, where visitors can sign themselves in using its touch screen. Hsu believes the Eee line can take 10 to 15 percent of the desktop market, matching the Eee PC’s share of laptop sales. Asus is also pursuing another emerging segment of the PC market with the Eee Top: all-in-one com-
puters that serve as a family computing hub, or inhome Internet kiosk and e-mail station. There are suddenly lots of interesting choices if you’re looking for one of these systems. HP has expanded the category with its TouchSmart desktops.They’re full-blown PCs with powerful processors and more-refined touch applications, but they’re also much larger and start at around $1,100. Sony is now selling lovely all-in-one Vaio systems, but they also start at about $1,800 and don’t have touch screens. Next month Dell is entering the race with a svelte 19-inch model called the Studio One 19. It will start at $699 and include a built-in DVD drive, improved graphics and Windows Vista. But a touch screen will add $200 to the price. Then there’s the BMW of the bunch,Apple’s influential iMac. It also lacks touch and starts at $2,000 – twice the price of an Eee Top. Compared with those systems, the Eee Top is a bargain. It’s the lowest-price touch-screen desktop by a mile, and has some premium features, including 802.11n Wi-Fi and a gigabit Ethernet jack.The system has a 16-inch screen, an Atom N270 processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM and a 160 gigabyte hard drive. If you’ve got younger kids or space for an Eee Top in the kitchen, it will be the most-used computer your house. Almost immediately after I plugged in a white review unit, my wife and daughters were insisting we buy one. Shortly after my mother-in-law visited, she called her husband and asked him to look into the Eee Top. Yet I’m still on the fence about the Eee Top. The system is cute and welcoming, like an early Mac. Its scale feels right on a small desk or a countertop. It’s like a small kitchen appliance, although the Apple-ish keyboard is too small for me to comfortably type fast. Touch controls are handy for scrolling through a recipe without gunking up a keyboard.You can manipulate the cursor with a finger or a stylus that pops into a hole in the keyboard.
MIAMI – Chatting on late-night shows. Beaming bilingual messages via satellite. Even lingering in your inbox. If the new president is anything, he’s this: digital and ubiquitous. In a sign of the Internet age, President Barack Obama has employed a range of social networking and online devices from Facebook to the White House Web site to reach out to constituents – the latest and most direct example being an unprecedented online town hall Thursday and an address delivered via satellite through the Spanish-language Univision network. Political observers say the rise of the here-thereeverywhere president has tapped into a timely channel that connects with everyday people. More visible than his predecessor, President George W. Bush, Obama comes across as a more accessible and humanized head of state, they add. Others sniff that the commander in chief bears an unsettling resemblance to a celebrity – something that threatens to taint the gravitas of the White House. One social media expert said Obama – known as much for the BlackBerry on his hip as his quick smile – was doing his part to stay timely.The White House Web site, of course, features a blog. “It makes sense – he’s keeping with the times, following suit, or even leading the way,” said Alex de Carvalho, an adjunct professor at University of Miami’s School of Communications. On Thursday, Obama took an even more immediate engagement with his constituents in what the White House referred to as the first Internet video news conference by an American president. The “experiment”was called“Open for Questions.” Boasting of almost 100,000 participants, the session allowed Obama to answer questions ranging from job creation to health care reform and saving the auto industry. In the evening, Obama gave a bilingual address on Univision’s Premio Lo Nuestro music awards. The show was broadcast live from the BankUnited
Center in Coral Gables, Fla. – an obvious nod to the Hispanic voters who supported him. “Buenas noches,”Obama said in a pre-recorded message.“I want to thank the millions of you who voted for tonight’s winners, and I also want to thank all of you who voted in that other election back in November – even if it wasn’t for me.” One critic said she thought Obama was making use of his public-speaking skills, but that his primetime appearances ran the risk of overkill. “At some point you’d think he’s the Holy Spirit – everywhere, all the time,” said Republican consultant Ana Navarro.“At any moment, he’s going to show up dancing the mambo on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’“ One political observer said he believes the advantages to this new strategy outweigh the risks. “He can go directly to the people to make his points and he doesn’t have to go through the analysis and all the things that go along with trying to reach people from Washington, D.C.,”said Herbert Asher, a political science professor at Ohio State University and a former member of the Ohio Ethics Commission. McClatchy Newspapers correspondents Beth Reinhard and Mike Sallah of The Miami Herald contributed to this report.
Water on the moon – a legend? Some scientists believe that on the cold, airless surface of the moon, deposits of frozen water lie trapped in the polar regions, constantly shaded from the sun’s warmth; a new space probe will look for them.
The lunar ice theory Sunlight
Edge of crater
Bottoms of craters in polar areas may contain ice
2 NOTE: Drawing is not to scale
moon does not tilt in relation to the sun 1 The as the Earth does; sunlight always hits it directly 2
At the poles, craters that never see sunlight may contain frozen water that arrived long ago on comets
A water-seeking satellite
Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)
LCROSS is shown releasing spent booster rocket, which will crash into moon crater that may contain ice
Centaur upper stage Second stage of rocket that launched LCROSS to moon 4,400 lb. (2,000 kg) 10 minutes after Centaur hits crater, LCROSS cruises through flying debris to look for water
If LCROSS finds ice ...
© 2009 MCT Graphic: Helen Lee McComas Source: NASA Ames Research Center
In a future lunar colony, the ice could be melted by solar power and split into hydrogen and oxygen for breathing by astronauts
27 March 2009
Obama’s man implicated in mortgage collapse Falcon Jr., head of a federal oversight agency for Freddie Mac.The scandal forced Freddie Mac to restate $5 billion in earnings and pay $585 million in fines and legal settlements. It also foreshadowed even harder times at the firm. Many of those same risky investment practices tied to the accounting scandal eventually brought the firm to the brink of insolvency and led to its seizure last year by the Bush administration, which pledged to inject up to $100 billion in new capital to keep the firm afloat. The Obama administration has doubled that commitment. Freddie Mac reported recently that it lost $50 billion in 2008. It so far has tapped $14 billion of the government’s guarantee and said it soon will need an additional $30 billion to keep operating.
By the time Emanuel joined Freddie Mac, the company had begun to loosen lending standards and buy riskier subprime loans. It was a practice that later blew up and contributed to the current foreclosure crisis
By Bob Secter and Andrew Zajac Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO – Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shakeup, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator. One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Rahm Emanuel – now chief of staff to President Barack Obama – who earned at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort. As gatekeeper to Obama, Emanuel now plays a critical role in addressing the nation’s mortgage woes and fulfilling the administration’s pledge to impose responsibility on the financial world. Emanuel’s Freddie Mac involvement has been a prominent point on his political resume, and his healthy payday from the firm has been no secret, either.What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cosy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fuelled the nation’s present economic mess. Though just 49, Emanuel is a veteran Democratic strategist and fundraiser who served three terms in the U.S. House after helping elect Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former President Bill Clinton. The Freddie Mac money was a small piece of the $16 million Emanuel made in a three-year interlude as
an investment banker a decade ago. In business as in politics, Emanuel has cultivated an aggressive, take-charge reputation that made him rich and propelled his rise to the front of the national stage. But buried deep in corporate and government documents on the Freddie Mac scandal is a little-known and very different story involving Emanuel. He was named to the Freddie Mac board in February 2000 by Clinton, whom Emanuel had served as White House political director and vocal defender during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals. The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board’s working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate. On Emanuel’s watch, the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsized profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass. The board was throttled for its acquiescence to the manipulation in a 2003 report by Armando
Like its larger governmentchartered cousin Fannie Mae, Freddie was created by Congress to promote home ownership, though both are private corporations with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The two firms hold stakes in half the nation’s residential mortgages. Because of Freddie’s federal charter, the board in Emanuel’s day was a hybrid of directors elected by shareholders and those appointed by the president. In his final year in office, Clinton tapped three close pals: Emanuel,Washington lobbyist and Clinton golfing partner James Free, and Harold Ickes, a former White House aide instrumental in securing the election of Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate. Free’s appointment was good for four months and Ickes’ only three months. Falcon found that presidential appointees played no “meaningful role” in overseeing the company and recommended that their positions be eliminated. John Coffee, a law professor and expert on corporate governance at Columbia University, said the financial crisis at Freddie Mac was years in the making and fuelled by chronically weak oversight by the firm’s directors. The presence of presidential appointees on the board didn’t help, he added. “You know there was a patronage system and these people were only going to serve a short time,”Coffee said.“That’s why (they) get the stock upfront.” Financial disclosure statements that are required
of U.S. House members show Emanuel made at least $320,000 from his time at Freddie Mac.Two years after leaving the firm, Emanuel reported an additional sale of Freddie stock worth between $100,001 and $250,000.The document did not detail whether he profited from the sale. Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for Emanuel, said there was no conflict between his stint at Freddie Mac and Obama’s vow to restore confidence in financial institutions and the executives who run them.At the same time, Feinberg said Emanuel now agrees that presidential appointees to the Freddie Mac board “are unnecessary and don’t have long enough terms to make a difference.” Former President George W. Bush voluntarily stopped making such appointments following Falcon’s assessment of their uselessness. In an interview, Falcon said the Freddie board did most of its work in committees.Yet proxy statements that detailed committee assignments showed none for Emanuel, Free or Ickes during the time they served in 2000 or 2001. Most other directors carried two committee assignments each. Contrary to the proxy statements, Feinberg said she believed Emanuel served on board committees that oversaw Freddie Mac’s investment strategies and mortgage purchase activities. But Feinberg acknowledged she had no official documents to back up that assertion. The Obama administration rejected a Chicago Tribune request under the Freedom of Information Act to review Freddie Mac board minutes and correspondence during Emanuel’s time as a director. The documents, obtained by Falcon for his investigation, were“commercial information”exempt from disclosure, according to a lawyer for the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Emanuel’s board term expired in May 2001, and soon afterward he launched his Democratic congressional bid. One of Emanuel’s fellow directors at Freddie Mac was Neil Hartigan, the former Illinois attorney general. Hartigan said Emanuel’s primary contribution was explaining to others on the board how to play the levers of power. He was respected on the board for his understanding of“the dynamics of the legislative process and the executive branch at senior levels,”Hartigan recalled.“I wouldn’t say he was outspoken.What he was was solid.” By the time Emanuel joined Freddie Mac, the company had begun to loosen lending standards and buy riskier subprime loans. It was a practice that later blew up and contributed to the current foreclosure crisis. In his investigation, Falcon concluded that the board of directors on which Emanuel sat was so pliant that Freddie’s managers easily were able to massage company ledgers. They manipulated bookkeeping to smooth out volatility, perpetuating Freddie Mac’s industry reputation as“Steady Freddie,”a reliable producer of earnings growth. Wall Street liked what it saw, Freddie’s stock value soared and top executives collected their bonuses. Falcon said the board failed to ensure the hiring of qualified executives,“became complacent” and “failed to make adequate inquiries of management and obtain sufficient information upon which to make decisions.” Emanuel joined the House in January 2003 and was named to the Financial Services Committee, where he also sat on the subcommittee that directly oversaw Freddie Mac.A few months later, longtime CEO Leland Brendsel was forced out and the committee and subcommittee launched hearings to sort out the mess, spanning more than a year. Emanuel skipped every hearing, congressional records indicate. Feinberg said Emanuel recused himself “from deliberations related to Freddie Mac to avoid even the appearance of favouritism, impropriety or a conflict of interest.”
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27 March 2009
A reunion on the beach
Acclaimed science fiction writer Jules Verne didn’t just write Around the World in 80 Days, he also wrote an epic about New Zealand and Australia called In Search of the Castaways, published in 1867. If you missed the previous instalment of this serial, you can download it here.
Mary Grant could not reply. Sobs choked her voice.A thousand feelings struggled in her breast at the news that fresh attempts were about to be made to recover Harry Grant, and that the devotion of the captain was so unbounded. “And does Mr. John still hope?”she asked. “Yes,” replied Robert.“He is a brother that will never forsake us, never! I will be a sailor, you`ll say yes, won`t you, sister? And let me join him in looking for my father. I am sure you are willing.” “Yes, I am willing,”said Mary.“But the separation!”she murmured. “You will not be alone, Mary, I know that. My friend John told me so. Lady Helena will not let you leave her.You are a woman; you can and should accept her kindness.To refuse would be ungrateful, but a man, my father has said a hundred times, must make his own way.” “But what will become of our own dear home in Dundee, so full of memories?” “We will keep it, little sister! All that is settled, and settled so well, by our friend John, and also by Lord Glenarvan. He is to keep you at Malcolm Castle as if you were his daughter. My Lord told my friend John so, and he told me.You will be at home there, and have someone to speak to about our father, while you are waiting till John and I bring him back to you some day. Ah! what a grand day that will be!” exclaimed Robert, his face glowing with enthusiasm. “My boy, my brother,”replied Mary,“how happy my father would be if he could hear you. How much you are like him, dear Robert, like our dear, dear father.When you grow up you`ll be just himself.” “I hope I may,”said Robert, blushing with filial and sacred pride. “But how shall we requite Lord and Lady Glenarvan?”said Mary Grant. “Oh, that will not be difficult,” replied Robert, with boyish confidence.“We will love and revere them, and we will tell them so; and we will give them plenty of kisses, and some day, when we can get the chance, we will die for them.” “We`ll live for them, on the contrary,”replied the young girl, covering her brother`s forehead with kisses.“They will like that better, and so shall I.” The two children then relapsed into silence, gazing out into the dark night, and giving way to long reveries, interrupted occasionally by a question or remark from one to the other.A long swell undulated the surface of the calm sea, and the screw turned up a luminous furrow in the darkness. A strange and altogether supernatural incident now occurred.The brother and sister, by some of those magnetic communications which link souls mysteriously together, were the subjects at the same time and the same instant of the same hallucination. Out of the midst of these waves, with their alternations of light and shadow, a deep plaintive voice sent up a cry, the tones of which thrilled through every fibre of their being. “Come! come!”were the words which fell on their ears. They both started up and leaned over the railing, and peered into the gloom with questioning eyes. “Mary, you heard that? You heard that?”cried Robert. But they saw nothing but the long shadow that stretched before them. “Robert,”said Mary, pale with emotion,“I thought – yes, I thought as you did, that – We must both be ill with fever, Robert.” A second time the cry reached them, and this time the illusion was so great, that they both exclaimed simultaneously,“My father! My father!” It was too much for Mary. Overcome with emotion, she fell fainting into Robert`s arms. “Help!”shouted Robert.“My sister! my father! Help! Help!” The man at the wheel darted forward to lift up the girl.The sailors on watch ran to assist, and John Mangles, Lady Helena, and Glenarvan were hastily roused from sleep. “My sister is dying, and my father is there!” exclaimed Robert, pointing to the waves. They were wholly at a loss to understand him. “Yes!”he repeated,“my father is there! I heard my father`s voice; Mary heard it too!” Just at this moment, Mary Grant recovering consciousness, but wandering and excited, called out,“My father! my father is there!” And the poor girl started up, and leaning over the side of the yacht, wanted to throw herself into the sea. “My Lord – Lady Helena!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands,“I tell you my father is there! I can declare that I heard his voice come out of the waves like a wail, as if it were a last adieu.” The young girl went off again into convulsions and spasms, which
became so violent that she had to be carried to her cabin, where Lady Helena lavished every care on her. Robert kept on repeating,“My father! my father is there! I am sure of it, my Lord!” The spectators of this painful scene saw that the captain`s children were labouring under an hallucination. But how were they to be undeceived? Glenarvan made an attempt, however. He took Robert`s hand, and said,“You say you heard your father`s voice, my dear boy?” “Yes, my Lord; there, in the middle of the waves. He cried out, `Come! come!`” “And did you recognize his voice?”
Next day, March 4, at 5 A. M., at dawn, the passengers, including Mary and Robert, who would not stay behind, were all assembled on the poop, each one eager to examine the land they had only caught a glimpse of the night before
to examine the land they had only caught a glimpse of the night before. The yacht was coasting along the island at the distance of about a mile, and its smallest details could be seen by the eye. Suddenly Robert gave a loud cry, and exclaimed he could see two men running about and gesticulating, and a third was waving a flag. “The Union Jack,” said John Mangles, who had caught up a spyglass. “True enough,”said Paganel, turning sharply round toward Robert. “My Lord,”said Robert, trembling with emotion,“if you don`t want me to swim to the shore, let a boat be lowered. Oh, my Lord, I implore you to let me be the first to land.” No one dared to speak.What! on this little isle, crossed by the 37th parallel, there were three men, shipwrecked Englishmen! Instantaneously everyone thought of the voice heard by Robert and Mary the preceding night.The children were right, perhaps, in the affirmation. The sound of a voice might have reached them, but this voice – was it their father`s? No, alas, most assuredly no. And as they thought of the dreadful disappointment that awaited them, they trembled lest this new trial should crush them completely. But who could stop them from going on shore? Lord Glenarvan had not the heart to do it. “Lower a boat,”he called out. Another minute and the boat was ready.The two children of Captain Grant, Glenarvan, John Mangles, and Paganel, rushed into it, and six sailors, who rowed so vigorously that they were presently almost close to the shore. At ten fathoms` distance a piercing cry broke from Mary`s lips. “My father!”she exclaimed. A man was standing on the beach, between two others. His tall, powerful form, and his physiognomy, with its mingled expression of boldness and gentleness, bore a resemblance both to Mary and Robert. This was indeed the man the children had so often described. Their hearts had not deceived them.This was their father, Captain Grant! The captain had heard Mary`s cry, for he held out his arms, and fell flat on the sand, as if struck by a thunderbolt.
“Yes, I recognized it immediately.Yes, yes; I can swear to it! My sister heard it, and recognized it as well. How could we both be deceived? My Lord, do let us go to my father`s help.A boat! a boat!” Glenarvan saw it was impossible to undeceive the poor boy, but he tried once more by saying to the man at the wheel: “Hawkins, you were at the wheel, were you not, when Miss Mary was so strangely attacked?” “Yes, your Honour,”replied Hawkins. “And you heard nothing, and saw nothing?” “Nothing.” “Now Robert, see?” “If it had been Hawkins`s father,” returned the boy, with indomitable energy, “Hawkins would not say he had heard nothsimply another name for Stressless® ing. It was my father, my lord! my Words like well being, weightlessness and total relaxation come to mind the moment father.” you sit down in a Stressless recliner. The natural soft leather and cushion ooze cosy Sobs choked his voice; he comfort. The gentle swing is controlled with effortless ease. And the smoothness of the reclining function reveals the full potential of the superior technology - adding became pale and silent, and presthe right body support in any position. Stated succinctly, the comfort offered by a Stressless recliner from Norway is the key to a more comfortable you. Take our word ently fell down insensible, like his for it and try one and your local Stressless studio soon. Because feeling is believing. sister. Glenarvan had him carried to his bed, where he lay in a deep swoon. “Poor orphans,”said John Mangles. “It is a terrible trial they have to bear!” “Yes,” said Glenarvan;“excessive grief has produced the same hallucination in both of them, and at the same time.” “In both of them!” muttered Paganel;“that`s strange, and pure science would say inadmissible.” He leaned over the side of the vessel, and listened attentively, making a sign to the rest to keep still. But profound silence reigned around. Paganel shouted his loudest. No response came. “It is strange,” repeated the Stressless recliners are custom made to order in Norway. A wide range of styles, leather colours and wood ﬁnishes geographer, going back to his available, allowing you to match the decor in your home. cabin.“Close sympathy in thought STRESSLESS Studios NZ DISTRIBUTOR and grief does not suffice to DANSKE MØBLER Auckland 983 Mt Eden Road, Three Kings. Ph 09 625 3900 • 13a Link Drive, Wairau Park. Ph 09 443 3045 explain this phenomenon.” 501 Ti Rakau Drive, Botany Town Centre. Ph 09 274 1998 • Hamilton 716 Victoria Street. Ph 07 838 2261 Next day, March 4, at 5 A. M., Whangarei Fabers Furnishings Tauranga Greerton Furnishings Rotorua Van Dyks Taupo Danske Møbler Taupo Gisborne Fenns Furniture Napier Danks Furnishers New Plymouth Cleggs Wanganui Wanganui Furnishers at dawn, the passengers, includPalmerston North Turnbull Furniture Masterton Country Life Furniture Wellington Fifth Avenue Blenheim Lynfords Christchurch D.A. Lewis • McKenzie & Willis • McDonald & Hartshorne Timaru Ken Wills Furniture Queenstown H & J Smith Invercargill H & J Smith ing Mary and Robert, who would www.stressless.co.nz not stay behind, were all assembled on the poop, each one eager
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