Home' Greymouth Star : January 31st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, January 31, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1606 - Guy Fawkes, chief plotter in the
attempt to blow up the British Houses of
Parliament, is executed.
1747 - The first venereal disease clinic opens
at London Lock Hospital.
1788 - Bonnie Prince Charlie, leader of the
failed Jacobite rebellion against the
English, dies in Rome.
1876 - The US government orders
all Native Americans to move to
reser vations or be declared hostile.
1929 - Leon Trotsky is expelled
from Soviet Union.
1943 - German troops surrender at
Stalingrad in World War Two.
1949 - First tv daytime soap opera, These
Are My Children, is broadcast from the NBC
station in Chicago.
1950 - US President Harry Truman
announces he has ordered the development of
the hydrogen bomb.
1956 - Death of A A Milne, British children’s
writer and author of the Winnie the Pooh
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japanese shogun (1543-
1616); Franz Schubert, German composer
(1797-1828); Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina
(1881-1931); Eddie Cantor, US singer (1892-
1964); Mario Lanza, US singer
(1921-1959); Norman Mailer, US
writer (1923-2007); Jean Simmons,
British actress (1929-2010); KC,
US singer-musician of KC and the
Sunshine Band fame (1951-); Lloyd
Cole, Scottish singer-musician
(1961-); Minnie Driver, British
actress (1970-); Justin Timberlake, US singer
“ We live in a moment of history where change
is so speeded up that we begin to see the present
only when it is disappearing.”— R D Laing,
Scottish psychiatrist (1927-1989).
“ For if you love those who love you, what
reward do you have? Do not even the tax
collectors do the same?” — (Matthew 5:46).
Jean Hansen was
first equal in New
Zealand in the State
examination (final professional) for nurses.
She was one of 10 West Coast nurses who
passed the examination. Miss Hansen passed
in obstetrical, medical and surgical nursing. She
gained honours in the latter two.
She is the first nurse from the Greymouth
Hospital ever to top the Dominion in general
nursing examinations — though three have
succeeded in maternity nursing alone. Educated
at the Greymouth High School, she would go
no further this morning than to say modestly
that her marks in completing School Certificate
and University Entrance there were “quite
good”. She is now 20 years old. She is the
daughter of Mr and Mrs G C Hansen, of
Flashing lights and alarm bells are being
installed at level railway crossings at Karoro
Road, Nelson Street and Tasman Street. The
work is currently being carried out by the signals
branch of the Railways Department.
When the three level crossings are completed
it will mean that all level crossings in the
borough will have warning devices — with the
exception of the crossing near the south end of
the Cobden Bridge, which has a crossing keeper.
The Rev Father T R Hunter, of St Patrick’s
Catholic Parish, Greymouth, is to transfer soon.
Father Hunter who has served in Greymouth
for several years and is a keen tennis and rugby
league supporter, is to go to the Hoon Hay
Parish in Canterbury.
The Rev Father R Falconer, of Beckenham,
will replace Father Hunter in Greymouth.
uFood for thought
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Did you hear about the
agnostic dyslexic insomniac?
She lay awake all night
wondering if there was a dog.
But she is a pretty rare bird.
According to a large survey
carried out in the United
Kingdom by Professor David
Voas of the University of
Essex, more than half of
British men who are now in their early
40s (54%) are agnostics or atheists, but
only one-third of women of the same age
(34%) hold similar views.
The gender difference was even more
striking when the 9000 respondents
were asked about their belief in a life
after death. Only 35% of the men said
they believed that there was some kind
of individual sur vival beyond the grave;
60% of women said they did. That is
a difference of almost two-to-one in
the level of belief, among people who
other wise have similar backgrounds.
Now, this is obviously a topic on which
a wise commentator would be very wary
of offering an opinion. Much safer to
keep your mouth shut and write about
something else. Which may explain
why this whole question about gender
differences in belief in God came as a
surprise to me, because when I looked
into the literature it turns out that the
social scientists have known about it for
There is a thriving academic industry
dedicated to proposing reasons for this
huge belief gap. One theory holds that
men are just more likely to be risk-takers
(except Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century
French philosopher whose famous
‘ wager’ stated that we should live our
live as if God exists in order to escape an
eternity of torture in Hell. If He turns
out not to exist, we have not really lost
all that much. It was a breakthrough in
Another theory is that men who score
relatively high on the autism scale
are also more likely to be atheists or
agnostics. But that does not really get
us very far, since the great majority of
men are not autistic, and yet a majority
of British men do not believe in
You will note that I am only quoting
speculations on male character traits
here. Some of the above-mentioned
social scientists also speculate on aspects
of ‘female’ socialisation and character
in their search for reasons for the great
disparity in belief, but that is a minefield
I do not plan to enter today. Let us
instead go beyond prof Voas’s statistics
for Britain and see whether the same
difference persists across cultures and
Belief in God is much higher in the
United States, although it is dropping
rapidly. A Harris poll in 2009 found that
82% of Americans had never doubted
the existence of God; the same poll in
2014 found that the number had fallen to
74%. This is due almost entirely to a fall
in belief among younger Americans — a
Pew poll of ‘millennials’ in 2007 found
that 83% were believers; the same poll in
2012 found only 68%.
But the gender gap in belief also exists
in the US, although it is less dramatic:
77% of American women say they have
an absolutely certain belief in a God
or universal spirit, but only 65% of
American men say the same. Indeed,
the gap exists in every country of the
developed world, although there are
intriguing national differences in how
wide it is.
In former West Germany, where 48%
of the population believe in God, the gap
between men and women is eight points.
In former East Germany, the cradle of
the Protestant Reformation, where four
decades of Communist rule eroded the
hold of Christianity on the population,
only 16% believe in God — but the gap
between men and women is less than
Fifty-eight per cent of Russians believe
in God, but the gender gap is bigger than
it is in Britain: 25 points. Whereas in
Turkey, a relatively developed Muslim
country where almost 95% of the
population believe in God, there is no
difference at all between the beliefs of
men and of women.
What are we to make of all this? Start
with the fact that decisions of this sort
are rarely made on an entirely rational
basis. Just as the great majority of
believers everywhere never chose their
original religious beliefs — they were just
born into them — so any later changes
in their beliefs are probably driven more
by their personal circumstances than by
conscious choice. Consider the difference
between the two Germanies, for example.
So what are the differences between
the personal circumstances of men and
women that might lead to different
outcomes in terms of belief ? That will
obviously vary from one country to
another, but women still suffer from
greater social and economic disadvantages
than men almost everywhere.
If you have less control over the course
of your own life, then belief in an
all-powerful God who is just, and will
ultimately put all the injustices right,
is a very attractive proposition. In that
case, the gender gap in belief is neither
intellectual nor emotional. It is simply
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Faith and gender
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
In the Amen, November last year I
mentioned the Doomsday Clock and
that it was at five minutes to midnight
Low and behold in the Greymouth
Star January 23, 2015 they ran an article
about the time changing to two minutes
to midnight, due in part to 2014 being
the hottest year on record. The article
said: “ We are not saying it is too late to
take action, but the window is closing
Recently it was stated on the radio that
1% of the population control 95% of
the wealth and it is getting worse. Can
anyone be so blind as to consider we do
not have a problem?
John Key recently stated “New Zealand
was settled peacefully” Has the man not
read about Parihaka? In late 1878 the
government began surveying the land and
offering it for sale. Te Whiti and Tohu
responded with a series of non-violent
campaigns. The Hall government began
planning a military assault at Parihaka
to close it down. Pressured by Native
Minister John Bryce, the government
finally acted in late October 1881 while
the sympathetic Governor was out of
the country. Led by Bryce, on horseback,
1600 troops and cavalry entered the
village at dawn on November 5, 1881
fully intending to wipe out (kill) the
Maori. The National Radio ran a radio
programme about December last year
using only Parliamentary records
about this event; it was chilling to
The mining industry was told “Health
and safety will not suffer with these
changes with Pike River we know
politicians are often wrong.”
Te Whiti and Tohu were years ahead
of Gandhi with the Christian principle
of Luke 6:31 And as ye would that men
should do to you, do ye also to them
Day Adventist Church.
What time is it? It’s later than you think!
Andrew Cawthorne and Diego Ore
fter finishing a routine
Edgar Perez was walking
home from the bus stop
when two armed men
pulled up on a motorbike.
Perez, 41, had time to draw his gun and
injure one of the attackers in the shootout
near his modest home in the town of
Ocumare del Tuy outside Caracas, but
the other shot him in the head and took
The officer died shortly afterwards in a
nearby clinic, leaving a widow and three
That same week in November, five other
police officers were shot dead across
Venezuela — among 268 murdered
in 2014 in one of the world’s most
dangerous places to be a cop.
Most of the officers were killed for their
guns, cars, motorbikes or even telephones,
according to local monitoring and rights
group Foundation for Due Process, or
The rest were victims of revenge killings
or shootouts with criminals, and one
officer was killed during political protests.
With gangs running poor
neighbourhoods, weapons easily available,
judges and police often on the take,
and prosecution rates low, Venezuela
is the world’s second worst country for
homicides overall, the United Nations
Lawlessness and violent crime have for
long plagued daily life in Venezuela, and
police are increasingly at the sharp end.
“The criminals have conflict weapons,
their firepower is infinitely superior to
ours,” said a friend and colleague of Perez,
still upset over the death and asking not
to be named.
“If I put a criminal in jail, he’ ll be out
within days, and without doubt, he’ ll look
for me in my house to shoot me dead.
And on police salaries, we can’t live in
luxury mansions but in ‘barrios’ or lower
middle-class zones right next to the
Police murders rose 25% in 2014 and
have accelerated so far in 2015 to a rate
of nearly one a day, Fundepro says.
Under pressure to beat crime after
President Nicolas Maduro declared it
his priority at the start of his term, his
socialist government does not give official
data on police killings.
Government officials did not respond to
requests for comment.
The public is aware of the police
murders via media and talk on the street,
but sympathy does not run deep because
of disgust at well-known corruption and
crime within police ranks.
“In the US, if one policeman is killed,
there is an outcry. Here, no-one raises a
voice to support policemen,” Jackeline
Sandoval, a former police lawyer and
public prosecutor who heads Fundepro,
said. “If there’s no security for police,
what does that say for the rest of us?”
Her Twitter feed, chronicling police
deaths, often draws distasteful comments.
“For me, let them all die, they’re
mistreating the students,” someone wrote
this month, referring to last year’s clashes
International comparisons show the
depth of Venezuela’s problem. In the
United States, which has a population
10 times bigger, the FBI says 27 law
enforcement officers were killed in 2013.
In Venezuela, the number that year was
Even the world’s worst homicide hot
spot, Honduras, has far fewer killings of
policemen than Venezuela.
Ravaged by gang and drug violence,
Honduras had a murder rate of 90.4 per
100,000 people in 2012, versus 53.7 in
Venezuela, United Nations data shows.
But Honduras’ government says there
were 35 police killings in 2013 and 32 in
the first 11 months of last year.
Though murders of policemen have
been shockingly high for several years
now in Venezuela, Fundepro said
criminals are becoming ever-more
brazen with some assaults on whole
police stations in order to steal
In November, 30 men stormed a police
base in Guarico State before dawn to
carry off weapons, bullet-proof jackets
Among the victims so far this year,
Alvaro Blanco was buying bread in the
small town of Tacata when two men
followed him in.
One shot the 49-year-old policeman
counter, a security camera video showed.
The gunman then coolly leant over
Blanco’s body to take his gun before
fleeing. Both men were later tracked
down by police and killed in a shootout,
local media said.
Blanco’s boss, Elisio Guzman, who
runs Miranda State’s police force,
complained impunity for criminals was
endangering his men. He said his force
last year arrested 1073 people in the act
of committing crimes but 653 of them
quickly returned to the street unpunished.
“On top of this, the prisons are
overflowing, the police’s weapons are
inadequate, there are constant death
Private monitoring groups say only
about 10% of murder cases end in
convictions in Venezuela.
The government concedes that police
are often involved in crimes themselves
and it recently inter vened in several units
around the country, meaning they were
raided and had their super visors removed.
In one, a senior detective was caught
cashing a ransom for a kidnapped
businessman, said Freddy Bernal,
head of a presidential commission to
“revolutionise” Venezuela’s police said.
As well as working to root out bad
apples, Bernal’s team is making proposals
to improve wages, insurance, training and
equipment for policemen. “ We need to
recover the authority of the state ... give
security to the police,” he said.
The government has also launched a
disarmament drive, but only brought
in a tiny fraction of the estimated 9-15
million guns circulating in the nation of
30 million people.
Despite the perils of the job and
starting wages of around 7000 bolivars
($1628 at the strongest official rate but a
mere $39 at the black market rate), police
recruitment days still draw huge numbers
of unemployed young men.
“I know it ’s dangerous,” said Martin
Gomez, 21, a youth from Caracas’ Petare
slum who was heading to a recruitment
event for the Bolivarian National Police
Force set up by Maduro’s predecessor
Hugo Chavez. “But I have to eat, don’t I?
And I’d love to help my country.”
Lawmen living in fear
Police officers stand near the body of Anzoategui state policeman Mario Figueroa, after he was shot dead in Barcelona.
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