Home' Greymouth Star : January 24th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, January 24, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1547 - Earl of Surrey, poet and cousin of
Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard, is
executed for treason.
1798 - Irish rebellion breaks out.
1848 - James Marshall finds a gold nugget
in the US state of California, touching off the
1895 - Death of Lord Randolph
Churchill, British politician and
father of Winston.
1907 - First Boy Scout troop is
organised by Sir Robert Baden-
Powell in England.
1915 - In World War One, a
British fleet under Admiral Beatty defeats the
Germans under Von Hipper at the battle of
1965 - Death of Sir Winston Churchill,
statesman and wartime British prime minister,
1966 - Indira Gandhi is sworn in as Indian
prime minister following the death of Sri
1989 - Confessed serial killer Theodore
Bundy is put to death in Florida’s electric chair.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Hadrian, Roman Emperor, born Publius
Aelius Hadrianus (76-138); Ernest Borgnine,
US actor (1917-2012); Neil
Diamond, US singer (1941-); Sharon
Tate, US actress (1943-1969); Helen
Morse, Australian actress (1946-);
Warren Zevon, US singer (1947-
2003); John Belushi, American
actor (1949-1982); Nastassja Kinski,
German-born actress (1961-);
Jimeoin (McKeown), Northern Irish comedian
(1966-); Mischa Barton, US actress (1986-);
Callan McAuliffe, Australian actor (1995-).
“ Honesty is the best policy, but he who
acts on that principle is not an honest man.”
— Richard Whately, British theologian
“ Happy are those who make the Lord their
trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those
who go astray after false gods. — (Psalms
At the Hokitika
centennial air pageant
tomorrow, the Mayor
and Mayoress, Mr and
Mrs W J Richards, will arrive in a horse-drawn
coach not much younger than the town.
The air pageant has been arranged by the
Hokitika Aero Club and will feature aircraft
from Ohakea and Wigram RNZAF stations.
After opening the display, the mayor will
officially name a new aircraft which is to be
permanently on the Hokitika run. The name
chosen is “Hokitika Skyliner”.
Trial runs at the newly completed briquetting
plant at Ngakawau near Westport, the first
in the South Island and the second in New
Zealand, which were to have started on Monday
have been postponed indefinitely following a fire
in the furnace room yesterday afternoon.
The plant, which the Minister of Mines Mr
Shand said in Parliament last year would cost
in the vicinity of £320,000, was to have started
production late next month. A full assessmant of
the damage will be made as soon as possible.
Customers in the bar of the Red Lion
Hotel, Hokitika, were startled at 5.40pm on
Wednesday evening when a bullet shattered a
top window near the hotel’s bar entrance. At
the time there were 40-odd in the bar four men
standing in the proximity of the window were
showered with glass. Fortunately no one was
For several minutes following the incident
customers edged clear of the windows seeking
more substantail shelter.
Two youths shooting on the island of the
river were questioned by the police who said
yesterday that shooting in the area is an offence.
uFood for thought
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A little bit of Latin
always raises the tone of
an article, so here (with
thanks to the classical
correspondent of The
Observer) is a sentence
that may prove useful
to Pope Francis: “agite
tentaque si fortiores vos
putatis.” It means “come
on then, if you think you’re hard enough.”
It is the manly thing to say if you have
just punched somebody, and he looks
like he is thinking of hitting you back.
Francis has recently expressed the view
that “if anyone says a curse word against
my mother, he can expect a punch.” So
he should be ready for some retaliation,
and saying that in Latin might deter the
victim from hitting the Supreme Pontiff
In real life, of course, the Swiss Guard
would give the poor sucker a good
kicking for attacking the Pope’s knuckles
with his face, and then drag him off to
jail. But Francis was not really talking
about himself. He was just saying that
the satirists of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ who
were massacred in Paris last week had it
“It’s normal,” Francis explained. “ You
cannot provoke, you cannot insult the
faith of others. You cannot make fun of
the faith of others.” He was defending
the right of believers of any faith to be
exempt from harsh criticism, caricature
and indeed any comment that hurts their
feelings — and also their right to use
violence against those who transgress.
I’m exaggerating, of course. Francis did
not say that he would shoot the person
who insulted his mother, or blow him
up. Just punch him, that is all. (I am
assuming it is a “him”, since I am sure
the Pope would not punch a woman.)
But does he think that violence is
justified in defence of the honour of your
mother, or your religion? Yes he does.
Or if not actually justified, at least quite
At this point in the discussion, western
journalists normally wander off into an
extended debate in which some defend
freedom of speech at any cost and others
insist that you must refrain from mocking
other people’s religious views, either
because you should not hurt their feelings
or just because you are afraid they will
It is a great opportunity to pontificate
about weighty philosophical matters
(even the Pontiff himself could not resist
it), but it has almost nothing to do with
the case at hand: the terrorist attacks in
Paris and the various western responses
to them. Or do you really think that the
attacks would stop if everybody promised
to say only nice things about Islam?
It is unlikely that Said and Cherif
Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly were
regular readers of Charlie Hebdo. The
target was picked for them either directly
by some operational controller in
al Qaeda, ISIS, or some other Islamist
jihadi group — or, if they were acting
independently, then indirectly by the
editor of some Islamist website who was
highlighting that magazine as particularly
insulting to Islam.
The fanatics who run the extremist
networks and websites need insults to
Islam, threats to Islam, attacks on Islam
in order to recruit and motivate the
impressionable young men and women
who will do the actual killing and dying
for them. If Charlie Hebdo did not exist,
they would have found something else.
It probably would not have been quite as
crassly insulting as Charlie, but it would
have served the same purpose.
As a popular slogan on the extremist
websites has it, “media is half of jihad.”
High-profile targets that will upset
the western public are what they want,
and nothing gets the western media’s
attention like an attack on the media.
For most of a week, that one event in
Paris — 17 people killed by three young
fools with guns — virtually monopolised
international news coverage in the
European and North American media.
But what was so surprising about it? That
you can get Kalashnikovs in Paris? That
there are quite a few foolish, lost young
Muslim men in Paris? That some of them
will be seduced by Islamist propaganda?
This was a small skirmish in a long ... I
was going to say a long “war”, but actually
the strategic objective of France and all
the other western target nations should
be to prevent it from turning into a real
war. It is the extremists who want a war
in which the west “attacks Islam”, because
that is the best and probably the only
route that might bring them to power in
the Muslim world.
Unfortunately, western media can
not resist turning stories like the
Paris killings into a media circus. To
make matters worse, western leaders
cannot resist the temptation to do little
pantomimes of defiance for the cameras.
“ We’re not on our knees. We’re standing
tall. In fact, look: we’re bravely walking
down the streets together.” As if the
terrorists wanted them on their
So you get the ridiculous demonstration
of “solidarity” among 40 world leaders
that led the march in Paris. At least
Barack Obama had the good sense to
dodge that event, although he was sharply
criticised for it by all the usual idiots at
home who think a war with Islam is just
what the west needs.
Come to think of it, Pope Francis did
not go to Paris either. Maybe there is
hope for him yet.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
A punch from the Pope
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Imagine you are driving down the road.
You have your destination in mind, you
know how to get there and how long it
should take you. You are eager to arrive.
Then you come across a sign on the road.
‘Detour Ahead ’ — two words that can
cause major inconvenience. It can cause a
two-hour drive to take up half of the day.
It causes frustrations to rise and anger to
Often we get like this in life too.
We have dreams and goals that we are
working toward. We think we know
how to get to where we need to be.
Everything is going along just smoothly
and then all of a sudden we reach a
‘Detour Ahead’ sign. It might come in
the form of losing your job, an accident,
ill health, the death of a loved one.
Whichever form it takes on, the detour
causes us to have to re-evaluate our
plans and take a slightly different
route than planned.
Something happens as we are going
along the road to ‘success’ that throws us
off our intended course.
But do not worry. A detour is just that.
It is still going to get you to the place
that you need to go to. It just might take
a little longer than expected and lead you
down some roads that you would have
never travelled along otherwise. And
who knows what trouble you avoided
in not going down your intended
Yes, it can be an inconvenience but
relax, God is in control. He knows where
you need to get to and how to get you
there at just the right time in one piece. It
might not work out exactly as you want,
but hold tight and make the most of the
different scenery along the way.
Paul and Julie Kenny
Elim Church, Greymouth
audi Arabia’s King Abdullah
bin Abdulaziz, born the year
the first motorcar bumped
through the dusty streets of
Riyadh, left a modernising
legacy of cautious social and
King Abdullah, thought to have been
born in 1924, had ruled Saudi Arabia as
king since 2006, but had run the country
as de facto regent for a decade before that.
State television reported early yesterday
that King Abdullah had died.
After outliving two designated heirs, his
younger half brothers Sultan and Nayef,
Abdullah is succeeded by Crown Prince
The new king is thought likely to
persevere with Abdullah’s efforts over
nearly two decades to nudge powerful
conservative clerics to accept cautious
changes aimed at reconciling Islamic
tradition with the needs of a modern
Plain-spoken and avuncular, King
Abdullah was born in the court of his
father King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud in
1924, according to the Saudi embassy
in Washington. The capital Riyadh was
at that time a small oasis town ringed
by mud-brick walls at the centre of
an impoverished but rapidly growing
By the time he became de facto regent
in 1995 when his predecessor King Fahd
had a stroke, he was known to foreign
diplomats as devout and conservative
with strong ties to the kingdom’s Bedouin
That reputation was soon blown away
by the then-crown prince’s reforming
zeal as he tried to curb the indulgent
habits of his large ruling family and
address the alarming problem of youth
unemployment by liberalising the
economy to stimulate private sector
However, his response to the Arab
spring — a domestic security crackdown,
populist economic measures and a
hawkish foreign policy — disappointed
some liberal Saudis.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks
on the United States, in which 15 of the
19 hijackers were Saudi, and an al Qaeda
bombing campaign against westerners
inside the kingdom, he took on the
conservative clergy who had promulgated
an intolerant Islamist message in schools
“The State is proceeding, with the help
of God, in its gradual and studied course
of reform,” he said, vowing to ignore both
conservatives calling for “stagnation and
immobility” and liberals seeking a “leap
into darkness and reckless adventure”.
The reforms were slow and only partly
successful, but they skewed the dynamic
of Saudi policy towards gradual change
and made King Abdullah a popular leader
among an increasingly young population
where 60% of Saudis are under the age
Abdullah left the kingdom’s political
system largely untouched, however.
Apart from introducing elections for
town councils that hold little real power,
his only major political reform was to set
up a council of the ruling family to make
the royal succession more orderly.
King Abdullah was staunchly opposed
to the pro-democracy protests in
neighbouring countries during the Arab
Spring, reflecting Saudi concerns that the
fall of old allies might create opportunities
for regional rival Iran and al Qaeda.
His order to spend $110 billion on
social benefits, new housing and new
jobs helped to avert any significant pro-
democracy unrest in Saudi Arabia.
In recent years activists who have
demanded change through petitions
ended up in jail, and political parties and
public demonstrations are banned.
Yet even among those Saudis who called
for a “day of rage” to protest against the
lack of democracy, the king appeared
to remain popular. Critics of the ruling
family said that was because of his
government ’s lavish spending during his
reign, a period of historically high oil
In a ruling family known for lavish
excesses, his fondness for retreats at his
desert camp distinguished him from
Saudi princes who prefer to spend
summers in Mediterranean palaces.
One of his first acts as king was to
rein in spending on the royal family,
demanding princes start paying for phone
bills and air tickets rather than treating
state bodies as a personal valet service.
His efforts to overcome a stutter,
supposedly acquired after he was punished
as a child, have further cemented his
image as a man of the people.
When he visited Saudis living in slum-
like conditions shortly after becoming
king, he was applauded for a first public
recognition by the state that poverty
King Abdullah also aimed to improve
the position of women in his ultra-
conservative country, trying to offer
them better education and employment
prospects and saying they will be allowed
to take part in municipal elections in
He said women would be selected as
members of the next Shoura Council,
the appointed body that advises the
government on new laws.
Women are still barred from driving and
must seek the approval of a male guardian
to work, travel abroad, open a bank
account or undergo surgery in some cases.
In recent years, the king’s foreign policy
was increasingly focused on efforts to
contain what the Sunni monarchy sees
as the rising influence of Shi’ite Muslim
power Iran across the Middle East.
That policy reached its high point in
March 2011 when Saudi Arabia sent
troops to Bahrain to support the island ’s
Sunni Muslim monarchy against an
uprising by the Shi’ite majority.
It was an unpopular decision among
Saudi Arabia’s own Shi’ite minority, but
many of the sect ’s leaders in the kingdom
said that King Abdullah did more than
his predecessors to reduce discrimination.
Riyadh feared that the United States
invasion of Iraq in 2003 had already
altered the regional balance of power,
giving Iran more sway from Beirut to
Those concerns were underpinned by
Iran’s nuclear programme, which the
west suspects is aimed at making nuclear
In a 2009 diplomatic cable released by
Wikileaks, King Abdullah was quoted
repeatedly as urging the United States
to “cut off the head of the snake” by
attacking Iran. — Reuters
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
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