Home' Greymouth Star : October 13th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, October 13, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1815 - British occupy South Atlantic island
of Ascension to prevent Napoleon’s escape
from St Helena, the closest island.
1844 - Greenwich Mean Time introduced.
1923 - Ankara, formerly Angora, becomes
new capital of Turkey.
1933 - Australia’s first traffic lights installed
1952 - Egypt reaches agreement with Sudan
on Nile waters.
1965 - Congo President Joseph Kasavubu
dismisses 15-month-old government of
Premier Moise Tshombe, and names Evariste
Kira as new head of government.
1968 - New military government in Panama
names civilian cabinet.
1969 - Soviet Union sends third spacecraft
into orbit in as many days, putting seven
cosmonauts in space.
1970 - Canada and China
announce they will establish
diplomatic relations. Taiwan
promptly breaks ties with Canada.
1974 - Death of American TV
personality-columnist Ed Sullivan.
1985 - Tamil guerrillas attack government
troops in two ceasefire violations in Sri Lanka.
1987 - Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias
Sanchez wins Nobel Peace Prize for sponsoring
plan to end civil wars in Central America.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Yves Montand, Italian-born singer-actor
(1921-1991); Margaret Thatcher,
former British prime minister
(1925-2013); Lenny Bruce, US
comedian (1925-1966); Frank
Gilroy, US playwright (1925-);
Nana Mouskouri, Greek singer
and politician (1934-); Paul Simon,
US singer-musician (1941-); Marie Osmond,
US singer (1959-); Kelly Preston, US actress
(1962-); Sacha Baron Cohen, British comedian
(1971-); Ian Thorpe, Australian swimmer
“One man’s transparency is another’s
humiliation.” — Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn
Fein, political ally of the Irish Republican
“She... began to bathe His feet with her tears
and to dry them with her hair.” — Luke 7:38
uFood for thought
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03 769 7900 (office)
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It ’s the petition-
signing season in
week one has been
launched in town against the current national
link programmes involving station 3YZ.
Sponsored by the Member for Westland
Mr P Blanchfield, it states that as Coast radio
listeners have no alternative station to turn to,
the Minister of Broadcasting should either
revert 3YZ to its former type of programme or
considerably increase the number of hours on
the 3ZA commercial station as an alternative.
The petition has caught on. One shop where
it is available reported 25 people in to sign it
this morning. “And judging by the comments
I’ve heard there will be hundreds of names by
the end of the week,” said one shop owner.
A 5lb 50z trout caught by N Burn, of
Cobden, won the senior section of the Ashby
Berg fishing competition, conducted during
the first week of the 1964-65 season. The
women’s section winner was Miss O’Malley,
of Cronadun, who landed a 4lb 5 1⁄2oz trout,
while J Stanton, Brunner, who caught a trout
weighing 4lb 15oz, headed the junior section of
A group of Greymouth residents, on
Saturday, saw the final matches in this year’s
Davis Cup series. They viewed the tennis from
within the old walls of Stewart’s Brewery, on
the Cobden hill.
The group included members of the West
Coast Television Investigation Committee,
electricians and power board employees.
Through their joint efforts a television link was
established from the building with Channel 3,
taly legalised marijuana
for medical use last year,
but the high cost of
buying legal pot in a
pharmacy meant few
people signed up.
Now, the government has found
a solution — get the army to grow
Starting next year, a
high-security lab in a military
compound in Florence will grow
cannabis for Italy’s health care
system in an experiment the
government says could bring safe,
legal and affordable marijuana to
The new army supply should
allow the government to lower
the price for consumers, who now
have to pay up to 10 times as
much at a pharmacy for marijuana
officially imported from Holland
as they might for a bag on the
street from a local drug dealer.
Regional health authorities are
expected to offer it to qualified
patients cheaply or for free,
helping to put mafia-linked
drug dealers out of business. But
whether large numbers sign up
will depend on cultural factors in a
Catholic country with an historic
stigma against drugs.
About 60km from Venice, Italy’s
top cannabis expert, agricultural
scientist Gianpaolo Grassi, is
trying to grow the perfect pot
plant on his 70ha research farm,
the only place in the country
authorised to grow marijuana
outdoors with more than 0.2% of
the psyochactive chemical THC.
His breeds, also blooming
indoors under powerful lamps
and behind armoured doors,
are expected to be grown in the
Florence military lab, which
already produces so-called “orphan
drugs” to treat rare diseases.
The powerful odour from flowers
in full bloom permeates the air at
Grassi’s farm. A 3m-high, barbed
wire-crowned fence surrounds
the fields, and video cameras
peer along the perimeter. The
sophisticated system was installed
a few years ago to keep out thieves
who raided the farm and slashed
the walls of the greenhouses
to steal the plants. “All kids,”
Until the 1960s, this was hemp
country, where a variant of
cannabis was grown for centuries
to make rope, cloth and paper.
The 57-year-old researcher
fondly recalls the hemp fields
of his youth. Later as a scientist
he became fascinated with the
versatility of the plant.
Since 2002 Grassi has
experimented with about 330
different strains of medical-grade
cannabis, which for millennia was
used to treat pain and illness until
being outlawed in most of the
world in the 20th century.
For now, the military pot plan
is still defined as a “pilot project ”,
with details on who will qualify
for treatment still to be defined.
Italian officials have made very
clear that they don’t plan to follow
in the footsteps of the United
States, where medical marijuana
laws have been followed by
full-blown legalisation of pot
in some states, including for
recreational use. Italy wants to
make sure that “curing sick people
does not become an excuse to
expand the use of the substance”,
Senator Carlo Giovanardi, an
outspoken Catholic anti-drug
campaigner, said. L egalisation, he
added, would lead to “a society of
Because of the bureaucracy of
obtaining import permission,
ensuring purity and overseeing
sale, legal cannabis from Holland
now costs about 38 euros a gram
in Italian pharmacies, compared to
as low as five euros for illegal pot
on the street.
Even when a doctor prescribes
it, the state does not cover the
cost, which could run to about
1000 euros ($NZ1600) a month
for a typical patient. As a result,
when legalised medical marijuana
arrived last year, only a few dozen
people signed up.
Health Minister Beatrice
Lorenzin said that should change
once the military production
begins. The army should be
able to produce marijuana at a
high enough standard to satisfy
regulators for less than half the
cost of importing it, allowing the
government to offer it to patients
at subsidised prices.
At a news conference last month
announcing the army project,
the minister said it would be up
to Italy’s regional governments,
which manage the federal
healthcare system, to decide how
much to charge patients. So far,
about half of Italy’s 20 regions
have pledged to provide it for free.
There are no official estimates
of how many people may end up
taking medical marijuana in Italy
once it becomes free, or cheap
enough to compete with illegal
pot. If everyone who could benefit
from it signed up, the number
could be in the millions, according
to Grassi, the researcher.
Yet some are not so sure that
the stigma of taking a drug has
worn off. Francesco Crestani, an
anaesthesiologist and president of
Italy’s Association for Therapeutic
Cannabis, predicts the takers
to be in the thousands, because
of caution within the medical
community and because marijuana
is generally prescribed only after
a patient fails to respond to other
Medical marijuana is a
controversial idea in a country
where the Catholic Church has
powerful influence and preaches
against drugs. Only in recent
years, for example, have doctors
warmed to prescribing opiates,
and Italy still uses fewer
opiate-based drugs than most
Cannabis “is a very effective
medicine, but since it ’s also a
drug ... there’s always fear to
use it,” Umberto Veronesi, a
former health minister and one
of Italy’s top cancer physicians,
said. “ The same thing happened
with morphine, which for years
no one would prescribe for the
poor patients who were suffering
Laws against marijuana in Italy
are severe, with selling or growing
it a crime that could lead to
imprisonment. Pope Francis has
spoken out against “every type of
drug use”, including pot.
Grassi, the agricultural expert,
said putting marijuana production
under military security was a
“ logical solution” to the political
problem. “Some political decisions
are tied to country’s Catholic
mentality ... This makes growing
medical cannabis agreeable for
His work should benefit
people like 36-year-old clothing
designer Elisa Bertero, who
has a prescription to take
medical marijuana to relieve her
fibromyalgia, a syndrome that
causes body-wide pain in joints,
muscles, and tendons.
Bertero said she tried many
medicines to seek to alleviate her
pain when the condition began
four years ago. None worked.
So after doing on-line research,
she tried cannabis on her own as
“an experiment ”, and it was so
effective she never stopped.
But Bertero said she then ran
into resistance by some 10 doctors
who were unwilling to prescribe
marijuana even though it was legal
as of last year. Eventually she went
to anaesthesiologist Crestani, who
examined her, listened to her story,
and prescribed cannabis.
“For a long time I took it every
day. It was the only thing that
allowed me to get out of bed in
the morning,” Bertero siad. She
now takes it only a few days a
week, making marijuana tea in
the morning or inhaling with a
vaporiser in the evening.
Bertero says that while cannabis
makes her feel “happy and light”,
it does not get in the way of her
work measuring, cutting and
sewing garments. Sometimes she
even pays the official cost of 38
euros per gram, even though it is
so much cheaper on the street.
“ When I have the money,
I buy it from the pharmacy,”
Bertero said. “But since I’m not a
millionaire, I often arrange to buy
it for five euros a gram.”
A production assistant inspects a cannabis plant in a state-owned agricultural farm near Venice.
A solemn minute’s silence has
been held in Brighton to mark
the 30th anniversary of the IRA
bomb that ripped through the
Grand Hotel, killing five people
and seriously injuring 34 others
in an attack aimed at then prime
minister Margaret Thatcher and
her Conser vative government.
Thatcher and her cabinet
were staying there during the
Conser vative Party conference.
The flag flew at half mast over
the hotel as staff and members of
the public gathered in the lobby
for a minute’s silence to remember
the injured and the dead.
The brief ceremony took place
in front of a plaque marking the
bomb’s 25th anniversary, which
was unveiled by former Tory
minister Lord Tebbit.
The Grand’s general manager,
Andrew Mosely, said: “ The 60
staff who are on duty today
gathered around the plaque that
was unveiled by Lord Tebbit. I
said a few words to pause and
reflect and remember the five
people who were killed and 34
injured, the guests at the hotel,
members of the community, the
emergency ser vices and so many
other people who were affected by
what happened that night.
“Then we stood for the minute’s
silence, which was conducted
solemnly and correctly. Hotel
guests joined us as well as
members of the public, one of
whom had bought a bunch of
flowers to lay at the base of the
plaque. It was the right thing to
do, the bomb blast happened here
and we should remember it and
the reasons why it happened.
“The message we want to send
above all else is that we have not
forgotten what happened here 30
Patrick Magee, who planted
the deadly device, returned to
the city to take part in a panel
discussion following a screening
of a documentary.
The film follows the story of Jo
Berry, whose father Sir Anthony
Berry was killed in the explosion,
and her reconciliatory journey
Magee was handed eight
life sentences in 1986, with a
recommendation he serve a
minimum of 35 years.
He was released in 1999 under
the Good Friday Agreement —
having ser ved 13 years for the
Ms Berry believed it was
important Magee attended the
“For me, inviting Pat to be there
is to show a living example of
reconciliation and the power of
empathy,” she said.
“It is really important to have
him there to demonstrate that.
Yes, some people will be upset but
I think that for peace sometimes
you have to take these risks.”
Magee, who has declined to
speak to the press ahead of the
event, has changed considerably,
according to Ms Berry.
“ When he planted the bomb, he
wasn’t seeing human beings,” she
“It was a strategy and now he
sees human beings and wonderful
human beings. It has been about
him getting his humanity back.
That has changed him, definitely.
He regards me as a friend.
He knows that my dad was a
wonderful human being and he
knows that some of the qualities
I have came from my father and
that weighs heavily on him.”
Lord Tebbit, writing in Britain’s
Sunday Telegraph newspaper, said
he could not forgive the bomber.
The then trade and industry
secretary was severely injured in
the blast and his wife Margaret
was left paralysed from the neck
down and needing 24-hour care.
“I am often asked if I can find
it in my heart to forgive the
creature, Patrick Magee, who
planted the bomb,” he wrote.
“That, of course, is not possible,
for Magee has never repented.
It was not he who decided to
commit that crime in Brighton,
financed it and procured the
bomb that he planted. If he was
repentant and wanted to see
justice done, he would have told
the truth and named those guilty
of those crimes.
“ Yet, for many victims of the
conflict, including my wife, justice
has not been done. Think of the
disappeared, who are denied even
the dignity of a decent burial by
the silence of those who know the
truth. And without that justice,
peace in the province is not as
secure as it might be.” — PA
The Grand Hotel, in Brighton, after it was bombed in 1984, killing five people.
IRA bomber returns for Brighton 30th
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