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Kiwi Monkey Tricks Letters Editors
What's this mischievous writer's real address?
Eric Shackle (shack)     Print Article 
Published 2009-08-20 03:31 (KST)   
An anagram reveals that MONKEYS WRITE the NEW YORK TIMES. A mischievous monkey from New Zealand named Andrew Prieditis has fooled that newspaper's letters editor into publishing a letter showing a fake address.

What's more, using other false addresses, he has similarly tricked leading newspapers in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the Philippines.

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Facing falling revenue from sales and advertising in the global economic depression, newspapers, some on the brink of bankruptcy, have slashed staff numbers. Overworked letters editors often have little time to check the bona fides of their correspondents, so Prieditis gets his opinions published by using phony addresses.

His greatest success was a story headed "My plan to be president" which made top place in the August 1 Opinion blog of the Dallas Morning News in Texas:

"If I were a Republican interested in becoming president, I'd hitch my star to Sarah Palin's wagon. She will run for president in 2012.

"I'd stay so close that after her nomination for president by the Republican Party, she'd have to choose me as her running mate. With her charisma and conservative views, our ticket would be elected.

"Then, after two years of serving as president, when she tired of a probing media, outside agitators and an uncooperative Congress -- and became convinced that she could help the nation better being outside of government -- she'd resign. Then I'd be president."
--Andrew Prieditis, Dallas."

Right alongside it was an editorial introduction: "This Blog was the first in the nation created by an editorial board to give readers a behind-the-scenes view of the discussion that goes into crafting the newspaper's daily editorials."

Prieditis' epistle, also published by The Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other newspapers, set off chains of readers' comments, for and against Sarah Palin.

In another Texan city, journalist Kevin Whited wrote:

"Although the Houston Chronicle has 'an informal 90-day waiting period between letters being published', Mr. Prieditis of Houston managed to get two letters (one on Sarah Palin on 3 August and one on Joe Biden on 7 August) published within days of each other.

"'Punking' the Hearst daily -- especially now that former letters editor Judy Minshew is no longer around... is a little like adults taking candy from children."

Dubbing Prieditis "a citizen of the world," Whited said "Mr. Prieditis isn't a one-trick pony, nor is he just a man of this nation. He has managed to get letters on various topics published all over the world."

Googling his name, you can find letters published by the New York Times from Andrew Prieditis of Hamilton, New Zealand , the London Independent, from Andrew Prieditis of Elland, West Yorkshire, and the Jerusalem Post (Israel) from Andrew Prieditis of Washington.

Down Under, Rupert Murdoch's national newspaper, The Australian, ran this letter from Andrew Prieditis of Torquay, Queensland on August 6:

"WHAT does Somalia have in common with Australia? Until recently, almost nothing. The two nations, if Somalia can still be called a nation, had basically zero historical, economic and cultural links until the Department of Immigration began accepting some Somali refugees to Australia.

"Now we are told by the Australian Federal Police there is a direct link between the violent mayhem in Somalia and an alleged plot to attack and kill soldiers at the Holsworthy army base in Sydney.

"Even if these arrests do not survive the scrutiny of the legal process, they are a reminder that our security services have a constant and difficult task of sifting through the mountain of daily communication and identifying danger.

"Tuesday셲 raids were a reminder of what they are doing and why."

In his home country, the prolific letter writer fooled Auckland's New Zealand Herald, which published a letter from Andrew Prieditis of Kaitaia, urging Kiwis to eat less sugar and take more exercise, .

Then down in Invercargill, the Southland Times ran an email from Andrew Prieditis of Hamilton urging them to "shake off the ghosts of the Rugby World Cup 2007."

He even proffered advice to New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key before Key was elected to that position. It's still there on the PM's video journal:

"John: I've recently returned from living 6 years in the United States. It is there that my eyes were opened up to the principles of limited Government in action and lower taxes.

"I do hope that in the next election, the National party pushes taxes as a big issue as I think, with enough persuasion of the NZ public, it could be the single factor which pushes the party over the winning line."

The Sunday Times in Manila published this letter from him on August 9:

"Before former President Corazon Aquino succumbed to cancer, the big story was President Gloria Arroyo셲 long-desired meeting with US President Barack Obama.

"That political triumph was also a diplomatic one, for as Ms. Arroyo herself and her various spokesmen have taken turns pointing out, she was the first leader from Southeast Asia to call on Obama.

"But the distinction did not come originally from Malacanang, it came from the White House. In other words, Malaca짯nang went out of its way to emphasize its diplomatic coup, by using the Obama administration셲 own talking points.

"I do not know whether President Arroyo considers the meeting (by all accounts a truly cordial one) to be the capstone of her diplomatic record.

"I supported her decision to remove Filipino troops out of harm셲 way in Iraq in 2004, earlier than scheduled; her continuing expression of support, despite criticism at home for alleged hypocrisy, for the cause of human rights in Burma (Myanmar).

"Ever the astute tactician, President Arroyo may be tempted to let the initial, cozy images from her meeting with Obama stand in for the substance of that meeting, now that nobody is talking about the White House visit.

"She could sell the idea that the meeting amounted to a political benediction, not only of her achievements in office, but of her desire to stay in office.

"Andrew Prieditis
432 San Andres corner
Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila
Tel. No. 834-4345"

If the letters editor had called that number, I doubt whether Andrew would have answered the phone. I believe the address is that of a restaurant.

Where does the mysterious scribbler really live? In the US or New Zealand? Perhaps the answer is on the website of his old school, Kamo High, near Whangarei, two hours' drive north of Auckland. He wrote:

"I was a student at Kamo High School in 1995 and 1996, the latter being my 7th form year (I'm amazed at how fast time has gone since then!). I then went on to study applied mathematics at the University of Waikato, graduating with a BSc in 2000.

"After that I headed for the United States, and I'm now living in the state of Maryland (near Washington D.C.), working for a real estate transaction company as a Technology Coordinator. I am now also married to a lovely American woman!"

Another verbose writer, Oscar Brittle, invaded Sydney's four daily newspapers' letter pages with a hilarious series of posts that infuriated thousands of readers. You can read about him in our earlier story: Australia's Funniest Ghost Writer.
This story has been posted in my blog: http://lifebeginsat80.blogspot.com/ in AllVoices (San Francisco) http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/3932890 and is to be published in the British daily web magazine Open Writing: http://www.openwriting.com/
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Eric Shackle

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