Home' Greymouth Star : December 16th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, December 16, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1653 - Oliver Cromwell becomes lord
protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1773 - American colonists, dressed as Indians,
dump 342 chests of tea overboard from a British
ship in the Boston Harbour, staging a protest
against British taxation. The event
becomes known as the Boston Tea
1916 - Gregory Rasputin, a monk
who wielded powerful influence over
the Russian Czar, is murdered by a
group of noblemen in St Petersburg.
1960 - A United Air Lines DC-8
and a TWA Super Constellation collide over
New York City, killing 134 people.
1972 - US Apollo 17 spacecraft heads for
Earth after the last US manned exploration of
1985 - Reputed organised-crime chief Paul
Castellano is shot to death outside a New York
1996 - A car bomb explodes outside the home
of a prominent opposition leader in Medellin,
Colombia, killing one person and injuring 48
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Selden, English jurist (1584-1654);
Jane Austen, English novelist (1775-1817); Sir
Noel Coward, English dramatist-
composer (1899-1973); Margaret
Mead, American anthropologist
(1901-1978); Liv Ullmann,
Nor wegian actress (1937-); Benny
Andersson, Swedish musician-
composer, former member of
ABBA (1946-); Benjamin Bratt,
US actor (1963-); Georgie Parker, Australian
actor (1964-); Miranda Otto, Australian actress
(1967-); Zeljko Kalac, retired Australian soccer
“ Life means progress, and progress means
suffering.” — Hendrik Willem Van Loon,
Dutch-born journalist and lecturer (1882-
“The Virgin will be with child and will
give birth to a Son, and they will call Him
Immanuel” — which means, ‘God with us’.”
— Matthew 1:23.
None of the
St Andrew ’s Cross
railway warning signs
within the borough
of Greymouth complies with the letter of the
law. To meet the requirements will cost the
borough council £250. This was revealed in the
report of the traffic committee presented at last
night’s council meeting.
Though some of the crossings do have signs,
none of them complies with the regulations
which demand that they be luminous material.
Mr W R Hall, acting engineer to the council
said in his report: “ The required crossing signs
are missing in some cases, others require repair
and all, since they are not of luminous material,
do not comply. The total cost of erecting
required signs would be £270 approximately.”
With the New Zealand flag draped across
the council table, another new New Zealand
resident was last night enrolled into the
citizenship of the British Commonwealth.
The ceremony took place during last night’s
meeting of the Greymouth Borough Council
when Mr Johannes Gerard Abelen was granted
citizenship by the Mayor of Greymouth
Mr F W Baillie.
After Mr Abelen had taken the oath, the
council adjourned for an informal supper with
the new citizen, his family and a group of
The death occurred in Greymouth last
evening of Mr Joseph William (Banger) Ayres.
Born in Victoria, Australia, Mr Ayres came to
New Zealand 55 years ago and settled on the
West Coast. A single man, he was employed by
the State Mines Department at Rewanui until
1927, then by Downer and Company on hydro
projects all over the Dominion.
uFood for thought
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This following list was compiled by my
wife Stevie, myself, and a few other guilty
parties whose names will be protected until
my death. They know who they are, and
they do not feel guilty either.
I have been trying to use up the gross
generic peanut butter that we bought a
while ago. When we make sandwiches, the
children get generic. I get the brand names.
I’m choosy ... and selfish.
the kids always get the butt. They think it is
the “special” piece.
I eat the filling out of Oreos and give
my son the gross cookie part.
When the kids ask for more food
after dinner, I tell them that food before
bed gives them nightmares. The second
their heads hit the pillow, I make a second
dinner — an icecream dinner. I sleep like
We take batteries out of annoying toys
and say that they are broken. Then when
we put the batteries back in, we act like we
are toy-fixing gods. Love us, for we have
fixed your toy!
If someone at a party gives my children
juice, I sneak it away and water it down
until the only thing juicy about it is the
colour. If my kids ever taste real juice their
heads may explode.
I steal my son’s favourite toys so he has
to sit with me.
I eat all the good Halloween candy.
My kids are unaware of the existence of
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
I stare at her while she sleeps.
I have a special signal that tells my
husband to unplug the wireless modem.
Then I pretend to be really sad when we
cannot watch Winnie the Pooh on Netflix
for the third time that day.
I have avoided teaching my kids about
clocks and time just so I can put them to
bed at 6pm in the winter. I am hoping this
lasts until their early teens.
I have not told my daughter that she
writes the letter J backwards every time,
because I secretly do not want her to stop
doing it. Ever.
I tell my kid Santa exists. Not because
I like having them believe in magic
and giving them presents, but because
I find it convenient to have a made-up,
mythological being whose arbitrary
judgment of right and wrong can be used
to manage my children’s behaviour.
I locked my kids in my car once. It was
cold outside and the car was running with
the heater on, so I just hung out and waved
at them through the window for a half an
hour while we waited for the locksmith to
When I am mad at my daughter, I fart
on the way out of her room after putting
her to bed.
Sometimes I will mess up the last line
of the lullaby and tell her that it did not
count, just so I can sing one more song
I fell asleep with a Sharpie marker in
my hand and it got all over the microfibre
couch. I tell everyone it was my three-year-
On occasion, when playing pretend
with my son, I just tell him that my pretend
character is pretending to take a nap.
Batman takes a lot of naps in our house.
When our child was little, we use to
clap and cheer when he took a tumble. We
found that if we gasped and ran to him he
cried, but if we cheered he bounced back
up, proud of the show he put on. Now he
has no fear and we have created a monster.
I love my children too much. Like
way too much. The kind of love that is
like an open wound. The kind of love
that is like an exposed ner ve. I am 100%
vulnerable. My children could destroy
me, and sometimes I act just a little more
pissed than I need to be just to throw them
off from the truth. The truth is that they
win even when they do not know they
are winning. And the truth is that I am
strangely okay with it.
John Kinnear is a blogger and dad from
Salt Lake City, Utah.
Some less ethical parenting tactics
O’Malley says we
must talk to Islamic
State, he is speaking
mediator, O’Malley brought together
warring parties in Iraq at the height of
the sectarian conflict in 2007 and 2008,
resulting in an agreement that formed the
basis for political reconciliation in Iraq and
helped curb the violence.
He did this with the aid of negotiators
from South Africa, and from Northern
Ireland, where he had been instrumental
in organising the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement that ended 30 years of sectarian
“A way in time must be found to talk to
Islamic State. You simply will not wipe
it out. It ’ll just re-emerge in a different
form,” he said in a telephone interview
from Boston, Massachusetts, where he is
a professor. “I don’t think we in the west,
or maybe anybody, fully understands the
phenomenon of Islamic State, and the
degree of its sophistication in attracting
young people from all over the world.”
O’Malley, who is John Joseph Moakley
distinguished professor of peace and
reconciliation at the John W McCormack
Graduate School of Policy and Global
Studies, University of Massachusetts
Boston, is originally from D ublin and has
four decades of experience as a mediator.
He quoted a recent opinion poll carried
out in six Arab countries by the Qatar-
based Arab Centre for Research and Policy
Studies, which found that Palestinians were
the strongest supporters of IS.
This is striking because IS is focused
on establishing a caliphate and has no
particular eye on destroying Israel — and
the finding could open a Pandora’s box,
“Is this because they (the Palestinians)
have reached such a level of hopelessness
regarding their own future that they will
turn to anything? That IS can offer them
something that will give meaning to their
Contact with IS would have to begin
with intermediaries close to the group —
wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar
and other Arab countries “who shovel
money ” to the fighters.
Persuading any armed group to talk to its
enemies takes a long time. It begins with
developing relationships in the community,
building trust with people in the lower
levels of all the warring parties, and
gradually working your way up. “It’s very
personal,” O’Malley said.
“Part of our problem in the west is that we
think these things can be resolved quickly.
Well that ’s fine, except that people in other
parts of the world don’t think that way, or
we don’t have a sufficient appreciation of
the depth of the divisions among them,” he
The Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle
East, for example, runs very deep, he said.
The divide is one reason for Islamic State’s
rise, supported by Sunni tribal leaders in
Iraq who feel disenfranchised by the Shia-
dominated government in Baghdad.
“This divide is ugly, it goes way back in
history, so there is no such thing as closing
this with a few gestures or conferences, or
huggings ... It ’s not the way human beings
He predicts that Iraq will not exist in its
current form in 10 years’ time. The Kurds,
emboldened by their successes against
Islamic State, will in the near future declare
their independence from Iraq, he said.
The 2008 Helsinki Agreement that
O’Malley helped broker was signed by
political parties across the Sunni-Shia
divide. It stipulates an end to corruption
and to sectarianism in public office, among
other things, but it was never implemented.
The government has been dominated
by Shia politicians, and Sunnis have felt
“Like most things in Iraq at that point,
while everybody shook hands, nothing ever
happened with that agreement,” he said.
O’Malley said he plans to return to
Iraq when the recently appointed Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi is “more secure in
his position”, and to suggest that al-Abadi
reconvene a meeting of all the signatories to
the agreement — who include the current
president, prime minister, members of the
cabinet and leaders of all parties in the Iraq
“ What I would be emphasising is
something that is very important to Arabs
— their honour ... Will you honour your
signature or will you not?”
Everyone coming out of conflict suffers
from post-traumatic stress, which gives
rise to a host of problems, ranging from
domestic abuse to addictions and drinking,
to a large segment of the population being
dysfunctional, O’Malley said. “On their
own they cannot resolve their problems,
because they ’re sick, they ’re actually sick.
And no one is treating them,” he said.
“ You have to ask how many people in
Iraq were killed as a result of the American
intervention there in 2003 ... how many
were displaced, how many were lost? This
country never thinks about them, never
thinks of the effects that might have had on
sur viving members of those families.”
O’Malley describes being stuck in traffic
in Baghdad two years ago, because bombs
had gone off that day.
The Iraqis in the car did not complain
about the bombs, what they complained
about for two hours was being stuck in
traffic, he said.
“They had so internalised bombings and
death that ... it ’s no longer a significant
cause for any kind of shock,” he said.
In O’Malley ’s experience, one divided
society is in the best position to help
another. Which is why he asked South
African negotiators to help those in
Northern Ireland, and both groups to help
And now he brings together divided cities
— including Baghdad, Belfast, Jerusalem,
Kirkuk, Mitrovica and Sarajevo — each
year to listen to each other’s experiences, in
the Forum for Cities in Transition.
“Our small contribution is for them to
recognise their sickness and to help each
other.” — Reuters
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust — and
corpses to crops?
In Seattle, a local non-profit group
wants to become the world’s first
organisation to offer as a ser vice human
composting, in which the departed are
turned into nutrient-rich soil that can be
used to grow flowers, trees or food.
Getting there might not be easy.
The Urban Death Project is the
brainchild of Seattle architect Katrina
Spade, who came up with the concept
in 2011. Spade calls composting a
meaningful, sanitary and ecological
alternative to burial and cremation.
“The idea is to fold the dead back
into the city,” she said. “ The options we
currently have for our bodies are lacking,
both from an environmental standpoint,
but also, and perhaps more importantly,
from a meaning standpoint.”
Spade said she hopes to get the service
up and running in three years. But
the project has significant legal and
regulatory hurdles to surmount before it
can get under way.
While the Urban Death Project has
developed architectural designs for a
human composting facility, the group still
has to complete fundraising and find a
site to build its facility.
Beyond that, the project would need
to obtain a licence to operate a funeral
home, according to the Washington state
Department of Licensing. It would also
have to tackle local zoning restrictions,
which require composting facilities to be
outside populated areas.
But before those issues can be
addressed, the group and its proponents
would have to push through a change to
state law, which requires that all human
remains be buried, cremated, donated to
science or transferred out of State.
“For this project to work in Washington
state, at a minimum there would need to
be a change in State law,” James Apa, a
spokesman for Seattle and King County
Public Health said.
Spade said she was undeterred by the
“There will be some regulatory work to
do, but I’m confident,” she said. “People
want this option.”
The Urban Death Project ’s plans
call for a three-story-high polished
concrete composting structure called “the
core”, which would be surrounded by
contemplative spaces for visitors.
Bodies would be refrigerated on site for
up to 10 days.
No embalming would be necessary,
since decomposition is the goal.
After a ceremony — religious or not —
friends and family would help insert the
body into the core. O ver several weeks
a body would turn into about one cubic
yard of compost, enough to plant a tree or
a patch of flowers.
The compost could be taken by the
family or left for use or donation by the
Urban Death Project.
“In this system, we transform from
being human to being something else,”
Spade said. “And at the end, what ’s
coming out, the material that we use —
it’s special and it’s sacred, but it ’s not
Spade said human composting uses the
same process as animal composting, in
which deceased cows, horses and other
animals are buried under wood mulch,
sawdust and wood chips.
Thomas Bass, a livestock environmental
associate specialist at Montana State
“The science follows,” he said, adding
that livestock composting has grown in
popularity because it is less expensive
than incineration and is more ecological.
The prospect of feeding an apple or
avocado tree in her post-life appeals to
Grace Seidel, 55, a Seattle artist who
has announced to friends and family her
desire to be composted after she dies.
“The idea of being reduced to dirt and
being able to be put under a tree sounds
lovely to me,” she said.
Spade said the reception to the idea has
been positive — mostly.
“People love the idea of growing trees,”
she said. “ They get really squeamish with
tomatoes.” — Reuters
A relative mourns over the grave of a Kurdish People’s Protection Units fighter, who was killed during clashes with Islamic State
fighters, inside a cemetery in the countryside Syrian town of Derbasiyeh.
Compost made out of people?
An artist ’s rendering shows the Urban Death Project facility.
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