Home' Greymouth Star : December 29th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
It was supposed to be a joke. “Are you
still president?” comedian Stephen Colbert
asked Barack Obama earlier this month.
But the question seemed to speak to
growing weariness with the president and
scepticism that anything will change in
Washington during his final two years in
office. Democrats already are checking out
Obama’s potential successors.
Emboldened Republicans are trying to
push aside his agenda in favour of their
At times this year, Obama seemed ready
to move on as well.
He rebelled against the White House
security “bubble,” telling his Secret Ser vice
detail to give him more space. He chafed
at being sidelined by his party during
mid-term elections and having to adjust
his agenda to fit the political interests of
vulnerable Democrats who lost anyway.
Yet the November election that was a
disaster for the president ’s party may have
had a rejuvenating effect on Obama.
The morning after the elections, O bama
told senior aides, “If I see you moping, you
will answer to me.”
People close to Obama say he is
energised at not having to worry about
helping — or hurting — Democrats
in another congressional election on his
He has become more comfortable with
his executive powers, moving unilaterally
on immigration, internet neutrality and
climate change in the last two months.
He also sees legacy-building opportunities
on the international stage, from an elusive
nuclear deal with Iran to normalising
relations with Cuba after a half-century
“He gained some clarity for the next
two years that is liberating,” Jay Carney,
Obama’s former press secretary, said.
Still, pillars of Obama’s second-term
agenda — gun control, raising the federal
minimum wage, universal pre-school
seem destined to stand unfulfilled.
Wrapping up the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars is not turning out to be nearly the
tidy success story Obama once envisioned.
Even supporters say one of the president ’s
top remaining priorities may have to
be simply preventing Republicans from
dismantling his earlier accomplishments,
including the health care law.
The Yes-We-Can man is entering a
twilight of maybes, his presidency still
driven by high ambitions but his power to
achieve them running out.
Before the mid-term election results
arrived, Obama’s advisers say, the president
realised he would finish his presidency
with Republicans running Capitol Hill.
He concluded the status quo would mean
Indeed, 2014 had been another year of
fits and starts for a White House that has
struggled to find its footing in Obama’s
The feeble Healthcare.gov website
stabilised, but scandal enveloped the
Department of Veterans Affairs.
Syria got rid of its chemical weapons,
but the violent extremist Islamic State
group pulled the United States back into
military conflict in the Middle East.
The unemployment rate fell, but so did
Obama’s approval ratings — to the
lowest levels of his presidency.
Nearly two dozen White House
officials, former Obama aides, presidential
historians and political analysts discussed
Obama’s standing as he closes his sixth
year in office, some on the condition
of anonymity because they were not
authorised to publicly discuss their
conversations with the president or his top
For much of the year, Obama appeared
to struggle with the realisation that his
political standing had slipped.
He publicly complained about criticism
of his foreign policy by pundits in
Washington and New York. Despite pleas
from his party to stay out of November’s
elections, he said his policies were indeed
on the ballot. He desperately looked for
ways to break free of the confines of the
Obama is realistically optimistic about
what he can get done over the next two
years, advisers say. He wants to try tax
reform and sees opportunities to accelerate
growth and job creation with the economy
on firmer footing. Aides have reached out
to historians and political scientists to
solicit ideas for Obama’s next State of the
Yet the president is forging ahead
as somewhat of an isolated figure.
Congressional Democrats are increasingly
willing to go against him. In the West
Wing, Obama’s tight inner circle of loyal
advisers keeps shrinking.
The trio of political gurus who helped
direct his presidential campaigns —
David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs and David
Plouffe — have moved on.
Former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel
is now the mayor of Chicago. Other
longtime aides are eyeing exits. Bringing
in fresh talent is getting harder.
Obama is trying to branch out.
He started keeping his version of a
bucket list: the names of authors, business
leaders, innovators and others he wants
to bring to the White House for a private
lunch or dinner.
Those who have visited include inventor
and business tycoon Elon Musk, historian
Doris Kearns Goodwin and AT and T
chief executive Randall Stephenson, a
major Republican donor.
Signs that Obama’s presidency is closing
are all around.
Within weeks, the race to replace him
will begin in earnest. Democrats are lining
up to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton,
though she’s yet to declare her candidacy.
People close to Obama say he is
weighing what he’ll do when he leaves the
He is studying the paths predecessors
have taken and has expressed interest in
both domestic and international issues.
He is already imagining life with fewer
Asked in a New Yorker inter view earlier
this year whether he would want to be a
judge, Obama said that sounded a bit “too
“ Particularly after having spent six years
and what will be eight years in this bubble,
I think I need to get outside a little bit
4 - Monday, December 29, 2014
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to email@example.com
uLetters to the editor
1797 - French capture Mayence, France, from
Holy Roman Empire forces.
1895 - L Starr Jameson stages raid into
Transvaal from Bechuanaland in South Africa.
1940 - German bombers inflict
greatest damage on London since
Great Fire of 1666.
1989 - Czech parliament elects
dissident playwright Vaclav Havel as
its president without opposition.
1994 - A Turkish Airlines jet
crashes in Turkey with 76 people
aboard. Twenty-three people sur vive.
1999 - The charismatic leader of the Aum
Shinrikyo cult is freed from prison and vows to
resume his place in the doomsday-preaching
group that five years ago released ner ve gas on
2001 - A series of fireworks explosions sparks
a massive fire in downtown Lima, Peru, killing
291 people. The blaze, fuelled by dozens of
footpath stands selling illegal fireworks, quickly
spreads throughout the crowded commercial
2003 - International Atomic Energy Agency
Director General Mohammed ElBaradei
says Libya’s attempts to build a nuclear
weapon were in very early stages, and many
components of the nuclear programme were in
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Jeanne d’Etoiles, Marquise de
Pompadour, mistress of France’s
King Louis XV (1721-64); Pablo
Casals, Spanish cellist (1876-1973);
Viveca Lindfors, Swedish-born
actress (1920-95); Mary Tyler
Moore, US actress (1937 — ); Gelsey
Kirkland, US ballet dancer (1952 —
); Ted Danson, US actor (1947 — );
Jude Law, British actor (1972 — ) .
“The time will come when winter will ask us:
What were you doing all the summer?
“ You are My Son, the Beloved; with you I am
well pleased. ”
The West Coast ’s
record could have
easily been marred
this morning by what appeared a signal
breakdown at the Tainui Street railway
crossing. It was a frightening example of the
danger of taking level crossing warning signals
As the Hokitika railcar was approaching
Greymouth the lights and bells on the Tainui
Street crossing came to life. A line of cars was
halted and then the lights stopped. Thinking
the line was clear, motorists began to move
across the crossing when the railcar came into
sight. One taxi pulled up just short of the line
as the railcar went by. One car just got over
ahead of it.
Motorists, as a general rule, usually regard the
railway warning systems as infallible and there
have been very few breakdowns to the system
reported. That it can happen was illustrated in
Greymouth this morning.
Tr a ffi c officers on the West Coast have been
working long hours over the last four days, but
they have won for themselves the bonus of not
one traffic accident reported in this area so far
in the holiday period.
The West Coast being accident free while the
national scene has been strewn with accidents,
many fatal, is not inducing the Transport
Department here to let up its efforts or
Sharks, the scavengers of the sea who
terrorised New Zealand bathers last season
following a surfing fatality off Dunedin, are
again infesting West Coast waters. Cobden
resident Mr J V Keating, surfcasting over a
three and a-half-hour period yesterday, landed
14 sharks in all.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
n April, an inquest into the
deaths of Grant Roberts, 43, of
Timaru, and Dennis Pederson,
54, of Tauranga, was held in the
Queenstown District Court before
coroner Richard McElrea.
He heard 20-year-old Kejia Zhang,
originally from China, was not a
competent driver — she had “negligible
independent driving experience’’ since
gaining her driver’s licence and none at all
in the 10 months before arriving in New
Zealand on November 24, 2012.
After arriving in Christchurch from
Sydney, Zhang hired a rental car the next
day and made her way to Tekapo.
Just before midday on November 26, a
*555 call is made, reporting Zhang’s erratic
and dangerous driving.
Police at Twizel can’t locate her.
Less than two and a-half hours later,
Zhang loses control of the vehicle after
drifting too far to the left on State
Highway 9, about 20km north of Tarras.
Heading north is a group of 10
motorcyclists who have been at the Burt
Munro event in Invercargill.
Mr Roberts and Mr Pederson are unable
to take evasive action and die at the scene.
Following Mr Robert ’s death, his son,
Sean, launched a petition aiming to
prevent tourists driving on New Zealand
roads without sitting a test.
To date, that petition has been signed by
more than 29,000 people.
Senior sergeant John Fookes, of
Queenstown, told the coroner, Mr
McElrea, at the inquest police should be
given the power to remove drivers deemed
incompetent from New Zealand roads.
The story made national headlines —
it sparked debate; it prompted various
agencies to work together to try to
address the problem; it heightened public
It — anecdotally at least — prompted
increased reporting to *555.
But did it cause us to become fixated on
rental car drivers?
Are we guilty of turning a blind eye to
our own failings behind the wheel?
Police estimate 75% of all fatal and
serious crashes in the central and lower
South Island are not caused by drivers
They are caused by New Zealanders.
In the hour before my arrival at the
Cromwell Police Station for a ride-along
with senior constable Graeme Buttar, of
the Central Otago highway patrol, five
“1U’’, or traffic complaints, have been
But despite what you may read, Mr
Buttar says the problem is not actually
getting any worse.
He should know — this month, he
marked his 21st anniversary with police.
For all but four of those years, he’s
been based in Cromwell patrolling the
There is no doubt there is more traffic on
the road, but whether driving behaviour is
getting worse is debatable, he says.
What has changed is the number of
people prepared to phone *555 and make a
Reporting bad drivers will never be a
bad thing - aside from the ability to issue
infringement notices or summons the
driver to court, it enables police to better
understand driver habits and where the
For some drivers, speed advisory signs
on corners are unfamiliar — they do not
understand it is the recommended speed
for taking that corner — they think that
is the speed limit.
They will continue driving at that speed
until they see another advisory, Mr Buttar
This month, NZTA southern region
regional director Jim Harland said another
issue with overseas drivers is that in a
pressure situation a driver will instinctively
revert back to what they know.
If a driver is not used to driving on
the left-hand side of the road, in those
extreme situations, they can revert to what
is familiar and, in doing so, make a bad
Mr Buttar says an informal
study on motorists crossing
the centre line in the
Kawarau Gorge showed of
about 350 cars “completely
on the wrong side of
the road on the double
yellow lines’’ — where
the consequences could be
disastrous — the average
age of drivers was 45, they
were predominantly male
Just 17% were from
overseas — predominantly
the United Kingdom and
“People think ‘bad driver:
Asian’ — that ’s people’s
In fact, in the nearly eight
hours I’m with Mr Buttar,
not one Asian driver is
stopped by him and two of
the 10 drivers issued either
warnings or infringement notices are from
One, a Mexican male, is lost and seems
to have ignored the 50kph sign, with the
radar locking his speed at 71kph.
He is trying to get to Dunedin.
Unfortunately, the road he is on will not
get him there and he does not have GPS.
After giving him some reminders about
driving in New Zealand, including speed
limits, and handing him an infringement
notice, Mr Buttar provides him with
directions before waiting to make sure he
gets back on the right track.
Later, the radar locks on to an oncoming
vehicle — about to enter the Kawarau
Gorge at 120kph.
The driver is Australian — he has driven
almost 500km today, starting at Hokitika,
and is now less than 60km from his
destination, Q ueenstown.
That is often a recipe for disaster. It is a
hot day, it has been a long drive and the
end is in sight.
“That ’s where the bad decisions are
made,’’ Mr Buttar says.
That Friday, several 1U complaints come
through — predominantly reports of
drivers in rental cars crossing the centre
line. On the highway between Alexandra
and Roxburgh, however, every single
motorist pulled over was for excess speed.
One New Zealand driver, with a radar
in his car to detect police officers and his
family in the back, was clocked at 123kph.
His cruise control was set at 110kph,
already 10kph over the speed limit.
A fine and demerit points were his early
Christmas presents from the New Zealand
While drivers doing less than 110kph
were simply given a warning and a quick
lesson on the police’s Safer Summer
programme, for others there is no option
but to ticket them.
Mr Buttar knows all too well the
consequences of drivers travelling too fast
or not paying attention — he’s been one
of those police officers spray-painting
marks on the road following a fatal crash.
He has been the one knocking on a door
with a heavy heart about to tell a family
their loved one will not be coming home.
“The worst job to do in the police is
going around to inform the next of kin.
You know the first sentence that ’s going to
come out of your mouth is going to change
that person’s life.’’
It is about 8pm when I leave Mr Buttar
and head back to Q ueenstown through the
I am more conscious than usual of other
cars on the road, and floored by some
of the driving behaviour — tailgating,
dangerous overtaking, speeds only
someone with a death wish would travel at.
Interestingly enough, not one of those
drivers was behind the wheel of a rental
Statistics for 2012 show, nationally, 20
overseas drivers were involved in fatal
crashes, just 5% of fatal crashes that year.
Overseas drivers were found to be at
fault in 16 of those crashes (4%). That
means, of all fatal road crashes in New
Zealand in 2012, 96% were caused by New
Otago Daily Times
“ Ten-one all units, keep an eye out for a rental vehicle . . . heading towards Queenstown. Reports it is crossing over the centre line and
travelled some distance on the wrong side of the road.’’ It is one of more than 10,000 *555 calls Police Communications receive every
year. It will, hopefully, result in the driver being intercepted by police and issued an infringement notice, or a summons to appear in
court. But sometimes the call is not to report bad driving to *555. Sometimes it is reporting to 111 a fatal or serious crash, one that in
many cases could have so easily been avoided. While the *555 calls seem to often mention “rental car’’, the reality is New Zealanders
kill and seriously injure more people on our roads every year than tourists. Media attention this year has focused on tourist drivers. But
are we painting an accurate picture of the problem or are we guilty of tourist-driver bashing? TRACEY ROXBURGH reports.
Risky tourist driving
‘Yes-we-can’ president faces twilight of maybes
New Zealanders love ham, but what
exactly is a ham, anyway?
Gregor Fyfe, co-founder of Freedom
Farms, and all-round porcine expert,
explains: “Hams are typically made from
the rear legs of the pig. The front legs are
actually not called legs at all, they ’re known
as the shoulders, and because they have a
lot of intramuscular fat they do not make
good hams. Most pigs are about five or six
months old when they go to the abattoir.
The main way of curing the leg meat to
produce ham is to brine it with a salt, sugar
and water solution. It is critical to make
sure the brine gets right into the deepest
part of the leg next to the bone. After
brining the hams are smoked and cooked
before being packaged.”
It is likely that it stretches back to the
Norse tradition of feasting on boar at
celebrations, as a sacrifice to the God Freyr.
In the merging of pagan and Christian
traditions, the feast day of St Stephen on
December 26 meant piggy was on the table
for Yuletide, and somewhere along the way,
the more tricky-to-source wild boar got
ditched in favour of farmed pigs.
Nowadays, it is less a question of
hunting down a wild boar, and more a
question of bone in or bone out.
The former is known as ‘cooked on the
bone’ and the latter as ‘Champagne ham’.
Fyfe has this to say about the choice: “The
traditional ham cooked on the bone has
a more meaty texture than a Champagne
ham. With a Champagne ham the main
leg bone is removed (leaving only the hock
bone) and then the meat is massaged and
reshaped with a netting back into the
original shape. The champagne ham has the
advantage of being very easy to car ve.”
Ethical issues over the way pigs are
farmed is, for many customers, a primary
If you want to ensure your ham had a
happy life, Fyfe has the following tips.
(Though we strongly advise against the
actual playing of basketball with your ham):
Check to see where it was farmed. Most
hams are made from imported pork. Does
the label say farmed in NZ? Be sure you
know how it was farmed. If the label
doesn’t say, you can assume it was farmed
intensively (in cages or concrete pens for
example). Look out for the SPCA blue
tick. Generally a cheaper ham is cheaper
because it has had a lot of water added to it.
Christmas deser ves a high quality ham that
doesn’t bounce if you drop it.
Give leftovers some love
No matter how greedy you are on the big
day, there’s always ham left over. Store it
in a ‘ham bag’ or the free version: a clean
cotton pillowcase, in the refrigerator. You
can keep ham like this for a week or so —
every few days you can dampen the ham
bag with a little water and vinegar to keep
your ham fresh. You can, if you like, freeze
leftover ham but it will deteriorate a little
Fighting the ham fatigue
After a day or so, ham sarnies get tres
boring. Try out these hamazing recipe ideas
to keep the happy ham times rolling:
Brush thick slices of ham with a little
butter, palm sugar and lime juice then grill
on the barbecue and ser ve with a piquant
salsa made with diced pineapple, red onion,
chopped mint and a Thai-style dressing of
fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and finely
chopped red chilli.
Make a shakshuka-like dish by sauting
chopped onion and garlic with Moroccan
spices in olive oil in a heavy-bottomed
frypan. Add diced tomatoes and ham
then crack eggs into the tomato sauce and
cook on a medium heat until the eggs are
poached through. Serve with fresh parsley
and a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top.
Make breakfast burritos: heat a can of black
beans with diced ham and a little chipotle
sauce and use along with scrambled eggs,
coriander and a little sour cream, to fill
warmed wheat or corn soft tortillas. Cut
croissants in half, and layer on a good
grainy mustard, slices of ham and a nutty
cheese like Gruyere or Emmentaler. Pop
the top back on and bake in hot oven for
several minutes to melt the cheese and
toast the croissants. The combination of
sweet garden peas and smoky, salty ham
is a winner in this dish. Sautee garlic and
shallots then add a little unsalted chicken
stock, a pinch of sugar and a splash of
dry white wine. Add fresh garden peas
(and other summer veg if you fancy —
zucchini, scallopini, sliced flat beans for
example) and small dices of ham and let
braise until the peas are cooked through.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a few
mint leaves scattered over and serve with
crusty sourdough to mop up the delicious
New Zealand Herald
Ham: What is it and why is it festive?
Are we fixated on rental car drivers?
Links Archive December 27th 2014 December 30th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page