Home' Greymouth Star : November 21st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, November 21, 2015
Zuckerberg takes time handing out billions
After making their fortunes from new
software or social networks, some Silicon
Valley entrepreneurs have vowed to apply
their skills to “hacking” philanthropy
and “disrupting” old models for funding
Not so Facebook chief executive and
co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is
not afraid to take a more conventional
approach to giving.
Local officials will gather in San
Francisco this weekend to dedicate a new
public hospital building, furnished and
equipped in part by a $75 million gift from
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, a
paediatrician who did medical training at
the old San Francisco General Hospital,
now to be known as the Zuckerberg San
Francisco General Hospital.
The 31-year-old social media mogul,
worth an estimated $46 billion,
made waves with his earlier forays in
philanthropy in particular, a controversial
$100m donation to public schools
in Newark, New Jersey. This time,
though, Zuckerberg and Chan made a
comparatively traditional donation that
funded the purchase of cutting-edge
equipment for treating some of San
Francisco’s poorest residents. It ’s not
exactly “move fast and break things,”
Facebook’s early slogan.
“I ’d say that we’re trying to help
people” rather than disrupt philanthropy,
“Just like anything else you want to do
well, investing in social-good projects
takes practice,” he added. “ This is the
reason why we’re starting when we’re
The couple has transferred billions of
dollars in Facebook stock to a non-profit
community foundation that helps them
dole out the funds. Zuckerberg said the
gift to the San Francisco hospital, which
ser ves many poor and minority patients,
meets the couple’s goals of “unlocking
human potential” and “promoting
But it is also clear that the donation
stems partly from personal reasons,
particularly for Chan, 30. The
hospital “has been a critical part of
my development as a person and as a
physician,” she said in an inter view,
explaining she chose to do her residency
there because it offers special training
in treating underprivileged children and
A spokesman said the renovated hospital
is San Francisco’s only trauma centre and
the primary provider for residents who
are uninsured and cannot pay for medical
treatment. It ser ves more than 100,000
patients a year. “ This is the people’s
hospital,” the hospital’s chief of staff,
Dr Jim Marks, said.
Officials said the couple’s gift, the largest
in the hospital’s history, helped furnish and
equip the hospital’s new, nine-storey main
building, after construction was financed
by an $887m public bond measure. The
old building, built in the early 1970s, will
become an outpatient centre.
Charity experts say Zuckerberg
and Chan are among a new wave of
billionaires, including tech figures like
Napster co-founder Sean Parker and
Google’s Sergey Brin, who started giving
away large sums in their 20s and 30s,
rather than waiting until they are older.
Critics of Zuckerberg’s first big donation,
at 26, say too much of his gift to Newark
schools went to high-priced consultants
and outsiders who failed to improve
local classrooms. Zuckerberg defended
the effort, citing recent statistics that
show improving graduation rates. But he
said the experience taught him that “we
need to engage with and learn from the
Last year, Zuckerberg and Chan
announced they would give $120m to
public and charter schools closer to
home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Instead of attempting to overhaul an
entire school district, they are doling
the money out to smaller programmes
which provide teacher training, classroom
technology and attempts to develop more
personalised instruction for individual
Separately, Chan is launching a private
grade school in the low-income city
of East Palo Alto. It will offer free
tuition and work with a local clinic
to address student health needs and
related problems. Chan said she hoped
to develop a model other schools could
That is version 2.0 of their education
efforts, Zuckerberg said. “ We’ll make
mistakes again,” he added, “and learn.”
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uLetters to the editor
1783 - First successful flight made in a hot
air balloon when Frenchmen Francois Pilatre
de Rosier and Francois Laurent, Marquis
d’Arlandes, fly for 25 minutes above
1877 - Thomas A Edison
announces invention of the
phonograph in United States.
1916 - Death of ruler of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire since
1848, Emperor Franz Josef. His
attack on Serbia helped precipitate
World War One.
1920 - The Irish Republican Army shoots
dead 14 British agents in what becomes known
as the country’s first Bloody Sunday.
1938 - Western border areas of
Czechoslovakia are forcibly incorporated in
1953 - The British Museum publishes a
scientific report proving the Piltdown Man
discovery by Charles Dawson in 1912 was a hoax.
1963 - Roman Catholic Vatican Council
authorises use of vernacular instead of Latin in
1974 - Twenty-one people are killed and
162 injured in Birmingham, England, when
bombs explode in two pubs. The IRA claims
1995 - Former Nazi SS Captain Erich
Priebke is extradited from Argentina to Italy
to face charges in the massacre of 335 Italian
civilians in Nazi-occupied Rome.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Voltaire, French poet-philosopher (1694-
1778); Sir Samuel Cunard, Canada-born
shipowner (1787-1865); Adolph (Harpo)
Marx, second oldest of the US Marx brothers
comedy team (1888-1964); Vivian Blaine, US
actress (1921-1995); Victor Chang,
Australian heart surgeon, (1936-
1991); Natalia Makarova, Russian
ballerina (1940-); Harold Ramis, US
actor-director (1944-2014); Goldie
Hawn, US actress (1945-); Lorna
Luft, US actress-singer (1952-);
Glenn Ridge, Australian television
Sheridan, US actress (1963-); Bjork, Icelandic
pop singer (1965-); Alex James British rock
musician (Blur) (1968-); Chris Moneymaker,
US professional poker player (1975-); Carly
Rae Jepsen, Canadian singer (1985-).
“ Modesty is the only sure bait when you
angle for praise.” — The fourth Earl of
Chesterfield, English author (1694-1773).
“This is the victory that conquers the world,
our faith.” — 1 John 5:4
is back in business.
This kindly door-
an iconoclast if ever there was one about his
own career, goes a step further this week and
next towards premiership in New Zealand
landscape painting. Opening last Monday is
his third Auckland one-man show, this year at
the Barry Lett Galleries in Victoria Street.
There is much of the imp in this 56-year-
old painter — he is ever ready to tear down
and poke fun at popular or arty snobbery in
any form and at ignorance of his work and of
painting in general.
“ My mother said she doesn’t like your
painting,” said an ingenuous child to
Woollaston the other day. “ You go home and
tell your mother I don’t like the colour of her
curtains, so I wouldn’t expect her to like my
painting,” was the prompt reply. She did.
The newly opened Haast Pass road was the
scene of a road fatality last night. Hit by a
Ministry of Works truck, a roadman, Thomas
Walter Faith, was killed instantly.
Mr Faith was returning at 9.30pm to his
living quarters at Potters Creek, two miles
south of Paringa, when he was hit by a
Landrover vehicle. A single man, he had been
walking along the highway in the dark.
The fatality is the first on the Haast highway
since it was fully opened, but deaths have already
occurred on the Otago leg of the new route.
A road accident occurred in Greymouth last
evening. A visitor from Ruatapu, Joseph Hibbs,
66, was knocked down by a power-cycle near
the Dispatch Foundry. He was admitted to the
Greymouth Hospital with a fractured right leg.
uFood for thought
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“Of course, the whole point of a
Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a
secret,” Dr Strangelove said to the Soviet
ambassador in Stanley Kubrick’s classic
film of the same name. Fifty years later,
it would appear that the Russians have
finally watched the movie.
In Kubrick’s film, a rogue American
air force commander orders a nuclear
strike on the Soviet Union — but he
does not know that the Russians have
built a Doomsday Machine that will
automatically explode and spread lethal
radioactive contamination all over the
world if American nuclear weapons land
on the USSR. So everybody dies.
Moscow does not want the United
States to make the same mistake in real
life, so it has just let us know that it is
building a mini-doomsday machine. It
would not destroy the whole world, just
a half a continent or thereabouts — like,
say, all of the United States east of the
Mississippi River, or all of China within
1500km of the coast.
It is awkward to say this sort of thing
through diplomatic channels — “ I have
the honour to inform Your Excellency
that we can now destroy half of your
country with only one explosion” — so
the preferred method is to get the word
out by an accidental “leak”. In this case,
the leak occurred on November 10 in
the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where
President Vladimir Putin was meeting
with his senior military officers.
A cameraman for State-owned Channel
One television “accidentally” filmed
a general studying a poster of a new
weapon called “Status-6”, a giant torpedo
(a “robotic mini-submarine”, the poster
called it) that can travel up to 10,000km
at high speed carrying a huge payload
— like, for example, a truly gigantic
thermonuclear weapon. The film clip
was broadcast all over Russia before the
“mistake” was discovered.
The text on the poster was clearly
legible. The “oceanic multi-purpose
Status-6 system,” it said, is designed to
“destroy important economic installations
of the enemy in coastal areas and cause
guaranteed devastating damage to the
country’s territory by creating wide areas
of radioactive contamination, rendering
them unusable for military, economic or
other activity for a long time”.
“It’s true some secret data got into
the shot. Therefore it was subsequently
deleted,” President Putin’s spokesman,
Dmitry Peskov, said. But the complete
text and a cutaway diagram of the
Status-6 are now available on a hundred
websites, and the Kremlin does not seem
Indeed, the government newspaper
Rossiiskaya Gazeta later reported details
of the weapon, without showing the
diagram, and speculated that it would
carry a gigantic cobalt bomb — just
like the Doomsday Machine in Dr
Strangelove, although a little smaller.
The explosive core of the warhead would
be a massive thermonuclear bomb —
perhaps as big as 100 megatons, almost
twice as big as any bomb ever tested.
Around this core would be wrapped
a thick layer of cobalt-59, which on
detonation would be transmuted into
highly radioactive cobalt-60 with a half-
life longer than five years.
“ Everything living will be killed,” the
paper said. Konstantin Sivkov of the
Russian Geopolitical Academy helpfully
explained to the BBC Russian Ser vice
that a warhead of up to 100 megatons
would produce a tsunami up to 500m
high, which together with the intense
radiation would wipe out all living things
up to 1500km deep inside US territory.
This is crazy talk, but the Russians
have always lived in fear that the
United States might somehow develop
the ability to destroy Russia without
suffering serious retaliation. The truth
is that the American military has never
stopped looking for some way to do
Back in the 1950s, when US Strategic
Air Command really could have destroyed
the Soviet Union with impunity, physicist
Andrei Sakharov (later the winner of the
Nobel Peace Prize) actually proposed a
weapon rather like Status-6 so that Russia
could take revenge from the grave.
The latest US gambit is anti-ballistic
missile (ABM) defences to be based
in eastern Europe, allegedly to defend
against nuclear missiles coming from Iran.
But Iran does not have any nuclear
weapons, and it may never get them.
Yet the American ABM system is going
to be deployed in Poland and Romania
in the near future. Moscow is therefore
convinced that the whole project is really
intended to shoot down its own missiles
shortly after launch.
There is no realistic possibility that the
American ABM defences could really
destroy all or even most of Russia’s
missiles, but that is exactly what Putin is
saying to his generals on the sound-track
just before the television clip focuses on
Status-6 is not scheduled to be
operational until 2019-20, and it may
never be built at all. But the old game
of nuclear one-upmanship goes on
even though the two countries are no
longer really enemies. It is pointless and
potentially very dangerous, and President
Obama might usefully spend the last of
his political capital putting an end to it.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Doomsday Machine ‘leak ’ subtle caution to US
Burning question answered
35 years ago: The moment Dallas fans found out who shot J R
hirty-five years ago today,
viewers learned the truth.
They got the answer to
the question that bedevilled
them for months.
They found out who shot
J R Ewing as 90 million of them massed
in front of half the nation’s television
sets watching Dallas that evening of
November 21, 1980.
Not that it really mattered whodunit.
What mattered was, the issue was settled.
The mystery solved.
Dallas fans could finally move on. So
could Dallas, which, by the time the
shooter’s identity was disclosed, had
rocketed from its prior status as a mere
television hit to the far reaches of cultural
A saga of the Texas tycoon Ewings,
Dallas was epic, ostentatious, outrageous
and addictive, with its at-each-other’s-
throats clan ruled by J R Ewing, a
charmingly loathsome oil baron.
As embodied by Larry Hagman, J R
was a bottomless well of corruption who
deployed a Lone Star twang, cold hawk
eyes and a wicked grin. By the evening
of March 21, 1980, Dallas devotees were
already smitten with his villainy.
But then, on that third-season finale,
Dallas threw them a cur ve unlike anything
witnessed before: J R was gunned down by
an unknown assailant and left for dead on
his office floor.
Thunderstruck fans were left with the
awful possibility (and somehow it seemed
like a possibility) that the series’ leading
man — its main attraction — might have
been disposed of.
Even more unsettling: They were left in
the dark as to who pulled the trigger.
Obvious persons of interest included Sue
Ellen Ewing (played by Linda Gray), J R’s
long-suffering, cheated-upon wife, and his
snivelling arch-enemy Cliff Barnes (Ken
Kristin Shepard, J R’s sexy scheming
sister-in-law/mistress, was also an
But Dallas producers, who had cooked
up the “Who Shot J R?” twist as an
effective way to satisfy a last-minute order
by CBS for two extra episodes to close
out season three, had not even settled on
whodunit when they decided that the deed
Or, if they had, they were not talking.
Mary Crosby says she had no idea. When
she got the script, Crosby, who played
Kristin, thought only, “ What a great
way to end the season. And J R certainly
deser ves it!”
To ensure the big secret stayed a secret
to everyone, including the doer, everybody
got a turn on-camera pulling the trigger.
“It was a really fun day,” Crosby recalls.
“The producers got to shoot J R The
make-up artist got to shoot him. Larry got
to shoot himself. ”
Then, after they wrapped, Hagman, ever
the jokester, changed into a novelty-shop
vest and toasted the company with a glass
As he drank, liquid spouted from
numerous “ bullet holes” in his chest.
“There was never a dull moment with
Larry,” Crosby chuckles.
The mystery, unleashed on viewers in
March, ran rampant much longer than
intended: An actors strike would shut
down all television production and push
the start of the networks’ autumn 1980
season into November, imposing an extra
three months for the nation’s favourite
guessing game to rage.
“It was extraordinary that people cared
after all that time,” Crosby says.
But care, they did. Viewers scarfed up
Who Shot J R? merchandise including
t-shirts, coffee cups and beer.
They put money down betting on who
the culprit would be.
They devoured publicity about the stunt,
including a sprawling Time magazine
cover story whose headline, of course,
posed: “ Whodunit?”
Running for a second term, President
Jimmy Carter reportedly joked at a Dallas
fundraiser, “I came to Dallas to find out
confidentially who shot J R. ”
No luck. But in the new season’s fourth
episode, the answer was finally revealed
to all — including Crosby, who only then
discovered that she, as Kristin, was the
“I knew when everybody else knew,” she
declares, and watching Dallas that fateful
night “I was thrilled — and spooked. I
knew that it would change things, and it
did. I was certainly a more recognisable
figure after that.”
Needless to say, J R would recover and
resume his villainy.
He lived even beyond the series’
conclusion after 14 seasons in May 1991,
when viewers were duped into suspecting
that he had committed suicide.
In fact, J R didn’t meet his maker until
March 2013 on an episode of TNT’s
Dallas revival, following the death of
Hagman at 81 from cancer four months
Crosby, now 56, would go on acting
after her brief stint as Kristin, and last
year appeared as herself in the American
Masters portrait of her father, legendary
crooner Bing Crosby.
She remembers Hagman as a dear friend
and, on the Dallas set, “He taught me how
to have a great time being a bad girl.
“I was there during the show ’s rise, which
was very exciting,” she adds. “ None of us
imagined what the show would become. ”
She could never have imagined her place
in television history: the one who dunnit.
“ I’m still a trivia question,” she laughs.
“What can I say?” — AP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Larry Hagman as J R Ewing in the television series Dallas.
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