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The Fitz Files: Why do we let this man prey on the grieving?

Date

Peter FitzSimons

Peter FitzSimons gets stuck in to a spiritual medium and the Minister for the Environment, and laments the death of an Australian Army legend.

The Fitz Files

<i>Illustration: Reg Lynch.</i>

Illustration: Reg Lynch.

I see that the noted fraud – you heard me – John Edwards, of the TV show Crossing Over fame, has been in Australia this week. Edwards, for those who don’t know, takes money from grieving people, claiming to put them in touch with their dead loved ones. In his chat with the Herald, Edwards tragi-hilariously cast aspersions on other spiritual mediums who claim to do the same thing, inferring that while they’re just not up to it, he personally is on the up and up and can give you the down-low on how the dead ones are doing. (Invariably pretty well.)

I call bullshit. Taking money for talking to the dead is as old as selling snake-oil to mugs, it’s just that the methods of appearing to do it these days are a little more advanced. Edwards has been exposed as a fraud many times, including on the American Dateline program. In the course of his interview with the Herald he mentioned that he has to tell his children “Don’t Google Daddy’s name . . .” and no wonder. They might come across articles like this, http://goo.gl/ymK6GL  or this http://goo.gl/xGBNL7 both of which expose Edwards’ totally fraudulent – you HEARD me, I said! – methods. No less than Time Magazine has inferred that a lot of it relies on having staff mill around among the audience before they go in, while a lot of the rest of it is base-level psychological tricks.

So here is the question, one more time. While we have all kinds of laws against false advertising, how is it that they don’t cover this? How is it that a show whose natural setting is Bumcrack, Idaho, can be brought to Australia and put in big stadiums to prey on the grieving, and take their money for him pretending to do something that he is NOT DOING?

Too harsh? So sue me, John Edwards, you fraud.  

GAG OF THE WEEK

When I took the entrance exam for medical school, I was perplexed by this question: “Rearrange the letters P-N-E-S-I to spell out the part of the human body that is most useful when erect.” Those who spelled SPINE became doctors. The rest are in Parliament.

DO YOUR JOB, MR HUNT

You know that thing about how the Treasurer looks after the Treasury, the Defence Minister looks after our defence, the Education Minister is devoted to making sure the nation’s education is strong and the Minister for Health is hopefully doing all possible to ensure the nation is in rude good health? Do you suppose someone could tell our Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, that his freaking job is to speak up for the environment? Yes, I would expect that he would lose the odd argument here and there, as other ministers press their own priorities, but does anyone, seriously, have the impression that Minister Hunt’s own starting point is a passionate concern for the environment? I ask because Minister Hunt’s performance on Sky the other night was simply staggering. As Graham Richardson reeled off atrocity after atrocity that the Abbott government is doing – and more to the point not doing – when it comes to the environment the minister did not even have the decency to look embarrassed. Most depressing was his ongoing rubbishing of the carbon tax, which was recently proven to have presided over the biggest drop in Australian emissions in the last 24 years. (Try http://goo.gl/r7mCA6 ) This from the man who, as revealed by my Fairfax colleague Tony Wright last year, in 1990 won a university prize for his thesis entitled “A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay''.

“Ultimately it is by harnessing the natural economic forces which drive society,” Greg Hunt wrote, “that the pollution tax offers us an opportunity to exert greater control over our environment . . . A pollution tax is both desirable and, in some form, is inevitable . .  . even if some Liberal's [sic] constituents do respond negatively, a pollution tax does need to be introduced to properly serve the public interest.”

Read it and weep. 

WALTZING NO MORE

Vietnam vet Paul '‘Richo’' Richardson passed away this week. A legendary figure in the Australian Army who I was privileged to dine with on one occasion three years ago, Richo will be remembered by his fellow vets for many things, but most particularly for what he did during the Battle of Coral, on the night of May 15-16, 1968. At the height of the action, just when it seemed the Australians of D Company, 1RAR were about to be overwhelmed by North Vietnamese troops, Corporal and Section Commander Richardson and his team of nine were firing their machine gun, rifles and grenade launchers for their lives, when he started singing Waltzing Matilda at the top of his lungs. The whole platoon joins in. He took a lot of stick for it, too, afterwards, but his mates loved him for it. He was that kind of bloke, and this week his platoon commander on that night, 2nd Lieutenant John Salter, eulogised: “Richo was a soldier’s soldier who thrived in the bush and created havoc in the barracks. A bloke who commanders needed when it mattered but despaired of, when it did not. An inspiration to others at war and peace and the bloke you wanted to watch your back.”

Vale, Richo, and thank-you for your service.

THEY SAID IT

“He should add a ‘y’ to his name and call himself stingy.”

Darryl Brohman, √ on Ben Fordham’s Drive Show on 2GB on the news that Sting won’t be leaving any of his fortune to his children.

“[This is] a great relief for the wild forests of the Great Western Tiers, Weld Valley, Butlers Gorge and the Upper Florentine Valley.”

Environment Tasmania spokesman Dr Phill Pullinger √ after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee denied the federal government’s request to open up Tasmania’s World Heritage Area to logging. It took them just seven minutes to dismiss the request. Bravo.

“Feeble.”

The UNESCO delegate from Portugal about the government’s attempt.

“[This is a] slap in the face and a kick in the groin to Australia and all fair-minded people.”

 Juris Greste √ after his son, Peter, was given a seven-year jail sentence by an Egyptian court. And so say all of us.

Phew. Isn’t it lucky Australia is not in the business of locking people up who haven’t done anything wrong.

Tweet from “Lou.” That’s all right, I will pause, so we can all shift uncomfortably.

“Get rid of vampires? I completely agree.”

Ernests Gulbis √ at a Wimbledon press conference, mistaking umpires for vampires when asked about John McEnroe’s belief that umpires should be abolished.

“If Hizb ut-Tahrir √ and the Islamic Caliphate are trying to improve cultural understanding, I have a tip for them: promoting honour killings is not the way to do it.”

Women’s Minister Pru Goward √  about Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar, √ whose speech,“Honour killings are morally justified,” has been cancelled by the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. What was the festival THINKING?

“We have to ask the question, what is the highest priority for schools, and I think many would say such things as wellness, obesity, positive psychology . . . As far as I know, there isn’t any evidence-based research that would provide a reputable basis for the state to take the chaplaincy program over in present form.”

Dr Bryan Cowling, √ head of Sydney’s Anglican Education Commission, after the High Court ruled the Commonwealth could not fund the National School Chaplaincy Program.

“I just think it's cruel to deny people the option just because there’s some stigma associated with it. We're going to push to try and get people on all sides of politics to back this reform. The science and the evidence is very, very clear.”

Senator Dr Richard Di Natale, √ who is a doctor, asserting that the time has come to legalise medical cannabis.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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