• Fri
  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:21pm

Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am

Rupert Murdoch, it is safe to say, has had better months. The world was watching last week as the frail father of six (below) told a British parliamentary hearing he felt humbled by the response to revelations that one of his newspaper titles had run stories based on the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl's phone. He denied responsibility, instead pointing the finger at employees of his conglomerate, News Corporation ...

Created in 1979 as a holding company for assets inherited from Murdoch's father, News Corp has grown to incorporate assets ranging from Tattoo magazine to 20th Century Fox, and myriad titles and companies in between. So diversified are the conglomerate's interests, they persuaded 'the Middle East's Warren Buffett' to become its second-largest shareholder. That man is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal ...

The 26th-richest person on the planet, bin Talal, of Saudi Arabia, is a big fan of the West ('we feel very at home with your traditions, cooked breakfasts, teas'). Illustrating the relationship between Saudi and Anglo-Saxon societies, bin Talal has said his countrymen are 'beguiled' by history while white folk enjoy 'the romance of Lawrence of Arabia' ...

T. E. Lawrence's untimely death may have saved countless lives: the neurosurgeon who treated him after his fateful motorbike accident in 1935 in Dorset, England, was so affected by the experience he devoted himself to campaigning for the compulsory use of crash helmets. The army officer's remarkable life also proved to be a rich vein of intrigue and a Pulitzer prize was awarded to the man who documented it, biographer John Mack ...

Despite such an accolade, writing was not Mack's first passion: the Harvard Medical School professor is best known for his work examining the effects of alien abduction. He is the only tenured Harvard professor to have had his work investigated by a secret university panel, which ultimately found nothing untoward. Defending himself against any allegations proved to be expensive and it's unlikely he could have continued without being bankrolled by UFO fanatic Laurance Rockefeller ...

The crop circle enthusiast unabashedly pursued his interests in the unknown, going so far as to lobby the Clinton administration to declassify information relating to extraterrestrial activities. His suspicions were only inflamed when Hillary Clinton gently asked him to not raise the subject again with her husband. After his death, in 2004, at the age of 94, the Rockefeller estate swiftly liquidised his assets. His three-storey apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue was sold for US$44 million, a then record in New York - to Rupert Murdoch.

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