Home' Greymouth Star : October 9th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, October 9, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1967 - Latin American guerrilla leader Che
Guevara is executed while attempting to incite
revolution in Bolivia; British police begin
using the first portable breathalyser to measure
1974 - German businessman
Oskar Schindler, credited with
saving about 1200 Jews during the
Holocaust, dies in Frankfurt.
1985 - The hijackers of the Achille
Lauro cruise liner surrender after
the ship arrives in Port Said, Egypt.
1995 - Alec Douglas-Home,
former British prime minister, dies.
2002 - Sniper attacks kill three people in
northern Virginia, bringing to 11 the total
number of victims killed or wounded in a
string of related shootings in the Washington,
2012 - Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai,
a teenage children’s rights activist, is shot in
the head on her school bus by the Pakistani
2013 - Australian crime figure Mark
“Chopper” Read dies following a battle with
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Miguel de Cer vantes, Spanish author (1547-
1616); Karl Wilhelm, D uke of Brunswick
(Germany) (1735-1806); John
Lennon, British pop singer (1940-
1980); John Entwistle, English
rock musician of The Who (1944-
2002); Jackson Browne, US singer
(1948-); Sharon Osbourne, English
music manager and wife of Ozzy
Osbourne (1952-); Scott Bakula,
US actor (1954-); P J Har vey, English singer
(1969-); Sean Lennon, US singer (1975-);
Chris O’Dowd, Irish actor (1979-).
“All generalisations are dangerous, even this
one.” — attributed to the son of Alexandre
Dumas, French author (1824-1895).
“ I have hidden Your word in my heart that I
might not sin against You. ” — Psalm 119:11
In 1918 a High
Street building was
converted into a
temporary hospital to
take victims of the influenza epidemic. Many
died within its walls. Still earlier, it housed
early immigrants coming to the West Coast.
On June 17, 1929, two school teachers and
their charges rushed from the building as it
lurched wildly. Tremors from the Murchison
earthquake had struck it. It withstood the
quake although its walls were cracked from
window to window.
Next year the building, the manual training
centre in High Street, will retire from active
ser vice. It will be 50 years old.
In about 1917 the centre came under the
auspices of the Canterbury Education Board.
It drew in pupils from as far afield as Otira
and Hokitika in its early life. Although the
Greymouth High School moved into its
present location in 1923, the manual block
continued to ser ve secondary school pupils as
well as primary children. It was not until 1939
that the high school manual block fronting
Shakespeare Street was opened.
The search for missing Karoro woman Mrs
Mary Pearl Dunwoodie ended when her body
was found washed up on Cobden beach this
morning. Mrs Dunwoodie vanished overnight
from her Tasman Street home nine days ago.
Born at Blackball, Mrs D unwoodie was a
kindergarten teacher before turning to nursing
at Greymouth Hospital. She was a very popular
sister at the hospital for a number of years.
The only daughter of the late Isobel and
Samuel Simons, she is sur vived by her husband
Duncan and two daughters, Gail and Isobel.
uFood for thought
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he children of refugees who
fled Lebanon’s civil war
for peaceful Australia in
the 1970s form a majority
of Australian militants
fighting in the Middle
East, according to about a dozen counter-
terrorism officials, security experts and
Muslim community members.
Of the 160 or so Australian jihadists
believed to be in Iraq or Syria, several are
in senior leadership positions, they say.
But unlike fighters from Britain, France
or Germany, who experts say are mostly
jobless and alienated, a number of the
Australian fighters grew up in a tight-knit
criminal gang culture, dominated by men
with family ties to the region around the
Lebanese city of Tripoli, near the border
Not every gang member becomes an
Islamic radical and the vast majority of
Lebanese Australians are not involved
in crime or in radicalism of any sort.
Australian Muslims say they are unfairly
targeted by law enforcement, especially
after the surge in fighting in Iraq and
Syria, and that racial tensions are on the
verge of spiralling out of control.
Still, there is a clear nexus between
criminals and radicals within the
immigrant Lebanese Muslim community,
New South Wales Deputy Police
Commissioner Nick Kaldas told Reuters.
“It is good training,” said Kaldas,
himself an immigrant from Egypt and a
native Arabic speaker.
The ease with which some hardened
criminals from within the community
have taken to militant extremism, and
the prospect of what they will do when
they return home from the Middle
East battle-trained, is a major worry for
authorities, he said.
Kaldas oversees the State’s Middle
Eastern Organised Crime Squad and
was the United Nations-appointed chief
investigator into the assassination of
former Lebanese prime minister Rafic
Hariri in a car bomb attack in Beirut in
In recent years, he said, the divide
between criminal gangs and radicals in
Lebanese community, who were driven by
different motives, had narrowed.
“I do worry about those who may be
extremists infecting more people who
were just pure criminals,” said Kaldas.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that
at least 20 of the fighters are believed by
authorities to have returned to Australia,
and that more than 60 people believed
to be planning to go to the Middle East
have had their passports cancelled.
Last month, the national security agency
raised its four-tier threat level to “high”
for the first time and about 900 police
launched raids on homes in Sydney ’s
predominantly Muslim western suburbs
and in Brisbane.
Only about half a million people out
of Australia’s 23.5 million are Muslims,
making them a tiny fraction in a country
where the final vestiges of the “ White
Australia” policy were only abolished in
1973, allowing large scale non-European
At least half of Australia’s Muslims
live in Sydney ’s western suburbs, which
were transformed in the mid-1970s
from white working-class enclaves into
majority-Muslim outposts by a surge of
immigration from Lebanon.
The inhabitants of low-slung suburban
villages like Lakemba, which now hosts
the Imam Ali Mosque, Australia’s largest,
soon replaced the greasy aroma of fish
and chips - and beer - with the scent of
grilled meat and cardamom, the staples of
the Middle East.
A broad sampling of the areas in Sydney
most associated with Lebanese ancestry
on the 2011 national census — Auburn,
Lakemba, Punchbowl, Granville — show
them lagging far behind the rest of New
South Wales State on indicators such as
income and employment.
After the raids and an intense media
focus on the community, most Lebanese
Australians are wary of public comment.
In the western suburbs, outsiders are
looked on with suspicion and few were
willing to speak to Reuters.
“It’s a troubled community as a group,”
said Greg Barton, director of the Global
Terrorism Research Centre at Monash
University. “So they ’re over-represented
in petty crime, in organised crime, in
When the civil war erupted in Syria in
2011, the fighting was a draw for many
Lebanese Muslim families in Australia.
Clannishness and old family networks
made it easy for youngsters from the
community to slip away and join the
“ You had people from the
neighbourhood and you flew into Tripoli
or flew into Beirut and drove up to
Tripoli and were taken across,” Barton
“It was a very smooth, easy pathway in.”
Both police and academics, however,
struggle to explain what would draw
second-generation Australians back to
the violence which their parents had fled.
Aftab Malik, a Scholar-in-Residence at
Sydney ’s Lebanese Muslim Association
who has spent years living in western
Sydney ’s Muslim community, said he
believed the convergence between radical
Islam and organised crime was unique to
“I haven’t come across that in the
United States or in Great Britain. It’s
quite specific here and I don’t know why
that is,” he said.
The fighters from Australia include a
radical using the name Abu Sulayman
al-Mujahir, who left for the Middle East
with what intelligence officials say was
the task of ending an internecine war in
Syria between al Qaeda and the Islamic
State, and a suicide bomber who killed
three people in Baghdad in July. The
Islamic State named the bomber as Abu
Bakr al-Australi on its Twitter feed.
It also includes two men from Sydney,
Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar,
who have posted images from Syria on
Twitter, showing them posing with the
heads of executed fighters, holding guns
and standing over bloodied bodies.
Australia has issued warrants for
their arrests, but police say they are
still believed to be in the Middle East.
Their social media accounts have been
Elomar’s brother is ser ving jail time for
assaulting a police officer, while Sharrouf
served four years for his involvement in a
2005 plot by Islamist radicals to blow up
a nuclear power plant in Victoria state.
“They were stand over men, any
everybody knew it, and that ’s it,”
Lebanese Muslim Association president
Samier Dandan told Reuters during a
drive through western Sydney, using an
Australian term for an extortionist or
For Muhammad, a young man of
Lebanese ancestry who grew up in the
western suburbs of the city, the evolution
from hard man to militant makes perfect
“ We tend to live in these clusters, and
so when media or government or any
outside organisation or group of people
say ‘look at them’ — we come together,”
he said, describing a “siege” mentality
within the community.
Although not involved in crime or
extremism, Muhammad, who refused to
give his surname, said he knew people
A schoolfriend, he said, was involved
in criminal gangs as soon as he left high
school and was killed in fighting in the
Middle East earlier this year.
Over the past year or so, Muhammad
said, his cousin, who has been jailed for
assault and who used to drink alcohol
and never prayed, had shaved his head
and grown a long beard. He also began
sharing violent jihadist videos on social
“The violence stays, it’s just that you’re
doing it for a purpose this time,” he said
of those who fight alongside Islamic State
or other groups in Syria and Iraq.
Children become jihadists
Muslim worshippers pray in the Gallipoli Mosque located in the western Sydney suburb of Auburn.
A hot war in Korea. Record prices
for New Zealand’s agricultural exports.
Overseas shipping companies waxing
wrathful over restrictive practices and
needless delays. A belligerent trade union
unwilling to back down. A National
Government slowly recovering the use
of its political muscles after 14 years on
the opposition benches. Mix all these
factors together and something’s bound
And something did.
The waterfront dispute of 1951 is
remembered now (when it is remembered
at all) as a mighty industrial stoush. The
watersiders and their allies squaring-off
against the ship-owners and the first
National government under Sid Holland
— a m an e very bit as belligerent as the
watersiders’ leader, Jock Barnes.
Not surprisingly, Sid Holland won.
But that was then and this is now.
Sixty-three years on, who cares? In 2014,
“organised labour” is a fading historical
memory. Today, outside the public sector,
barely one worker in 10 carries a union
card. For young, 21st century New
Zealanders, the tales of 1951 might
just as well be the tales of ancient Greece.
Except it is not the tale of the
watersiders’ heroic defeat that I want to
tell. That is an old story and Dick Scott
told it much better than I ever could in
his book 151 Days. No, the story I am
interested in is the story of how New
Zealanders reacted to the events of 1951.
That is a story with some very distinct
This is how the veteran broadcaster
Gordon Dryden remembered 1951 in his
memoir Out of the Red:
“In my view the emergency regulations
introduced on February 26, 1951,
slashed at everything I believed in
about journalism. It became against the
law to report both sides of the story of
the biggest industrial dispute in New
Zealand history. It became against the
law to make donations to help feed the
families of workers who were on strike.
It became unlawful for opponents of the
government to hold meetings.”
Dryden, in 1951, “was much more
concerned with the issue of press freedom
But these were not the concerns of
a clear majority of New Zealanders,
54% of whom delivered a resounding
endorsement of Sid Holland ’s draconian
regulations by casting their votes for the
National Party in the snap election of
September 1, 1951.
It was not only the ordinary voters who
declined to be outraged by the National
Government ’s sudden and unprecedented
curtailment of civil liberties. In 1951,
New Zealand boasted dozens of daily
newspapers, but not one editor or
proprietor was prepared to put his
freedom on the line for the freedom of
the press. Nor was there a single
judge willing to tender his resignation
rather than enforce a law which would
not have been out of place in Stalin’s
But, that was then.
In August 2014, the investigative
journalist, Nicky Hager, published a book
exposing the manner in which a person
employed in the office of the Prime
Minister, and Judith Collins, the Minister
of Justice, colluded with a prominent
right-wing blogger and a slew of working
journalists to undermine, discredit and
attack opponents of John Key ’s National
The many thousands of New Zealanders
who read Mr Hager’s Dirty Politics were
convinced that its revelations could not
fail to erode the voters’ support for Mr
Key and his colleagues. Like Gordon
Dryden, their concerns were about “the
issue of press freedom and democracy ”.
But they were wrong.
The contemporary conser vative voters’
faith in the policies of their prime
minister is no more susceptible to being
undermined by dissident journalism
than their predecessors’ was by militant
unionism. New Zealanders, it seems,
will forgive many sins in the name of
maintaining stability and preser ving
Not even the news that, just 12 days
after the 2014 election, Mr Hager’s
house was subjected to a 10-hour search
by five police officers, responding to the
complaint of the right-wing blogger
whose hacked e-mails constitute the
core of the Dirty Politics expose, is likely
to impair the celebratory temper of the
In his celebrated essay, Fretful Sleepers,
written in the months following the
1951 confrontation, former Blackball
writer, Bill Pearson, obser ved: “ The New
Zealander delegates authority, then
forgets it. There is no one more docile in
the face of authority.”
If that was true then, is it still true now?
Chris Trotter is an independent
Voters docile in the face of authority
It is no secret that if your dad is
tall and your mother is tall, you
are probably going to be tall. But
fully understanding the genetics
of height has been a big order for
Researchers have unveiled what
they called the biggest such study
to date, analysing genome data
from more than a quarter million
people to identify nearly 700
genetic variants and more than 400
genome regions relating to height.
How tall or short a person
becomes is estimated to be 80%
genetic, with nutrition and other
environmental factors accounting
for the rest. The world’s people on
average have become taller over
the past few generations because
of factors including improved
“ We study height for two main
reasons,” said Dr Joel Hirschhorn,
a geneticist and paediatric
endocrinologist at Boston
Children’s Hospital and the Broad
Institute of Massachusetts Institute
of Technology and Harvard
“ For over 100 years, it’s been
a great model for studying the
genetics of diseases like obesity,
diabetes, asthma that are also
caused by the combined influence
of many genes acting together. So
by understanding how the genetics
of height works, we can understand
how the genetics of human disease
works,” he said.
In addition, short stature in
childhood is a major clinical issue
for paediatric endocrinologists.
Knowing genes and their variants
that are important for height
eventually may help doctors
diagnose children who have a
single major underlying cause for
short stature, Hirschhorn added.
The international team of
researchers analysed data from
the genomes of 253,288 people of
European ancestry, all from Europe,
North America and Australia. They
2 million common genetic variants
in these individuals and identified
697 gene variants in 424 gene
regions as related to height.
Many genes pinpointed in the
study, published in the journal
Nature Genetics, are probably
important regulators of skeletal
growth, but were not previously
known to be involved, the
Some were related to collagen, a
component of bone; a component
of cartilage called chondroitin
sulfate; and growth plates, the area
of growing tissue near the ends of
the body’s long bones.
The researchers said there is much
more to learn.
“ We’ve found the genetic variants
— the pieces of DNA that vary
from person to person — that
account for 20% of the genetic
component to normal variation in
height,” said geneticist Timothy
Frayling of Britain’s University of
“This compares to a situation in
2007 when we knew absolutely
nothing about the genes and
regions of the human genome
involved in normal height
differences despite everyone
knowing height is very strongly
The team’s previous 2010 study
involved a smaller number of
people and identified 199 genetic
variants residing in 180 genome
“By doubling the sample size,
we doubled the number of gene
regions that are connected to
height, and greatly increased by
about seven-fold the number
of actual genes where we can
make a connection to the biology
of normal skeletal growth,”
The genetics of height
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