Home' Greymouth Star : April 14th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Grass fires in the Russian
region of Khakassia in southern
Siberia have killed 23 people,
the Investigative Committee, a
State body that reports directly
to President Vladimir Putin, said
The region’s leader, Viktor
Zimin, put the initial cost of the
damage caused by the fires at
about $96 million ($128 million).
A local healthcare ministry
official said more than 900 people
had asked for medical help
and about 100 had been taken
to hospital, Tass news agency
reported, as fires raged across
grasslands in dry and windy
weather over several days.
A primary school, other public
infrastructure and private homes
have been damaged or destroyed
and some cattle have been killed,
Scrub fires in Russia often start
when locals set grass on fire on
rolling fields to clean them up after
the winter, a widespread practice
criticised by environmentalists as
well as State officials.
Fires in the hot summer of
2010 caused dozens of deaths in
Some scientists and environ-
mentalists suggest the number of
indirect deaths caused by the heat
wave and fires of five years ago
may have been much higher.
A security expert who once
protected the royal family says
Prince Charles and Prince Harry
will not be worried about their
safety on the Gallipoli peninsula
during the Anzac centenary
Dai Davies, a former head of royal
protection for the Metropolitan
Police, believes the princes will
treat the dawn ser vice and other
memorial events as “another day
at the office” despite reports they
could be high-value targets for
“For them it’s just another royal
visit and I have no doubt they
have great faith in the British and
related security forces who are
looking after them,” Davies said.
“It’s just another day at the office
for these two — albeit a very
The Prince of Wales and his
son, Harry, will attend the
international and commonwealth
ser vices on April 24 as well as
the Australian and New Zealand
commemorations on April 25.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will
be on the Gallipoli peninsula along with his
New Zealand counterpart, John Key, and other
high-profile leaders from the United Kingdom,
Ireland, France and Turkey.
It is expected there will be 4000 Turkish
jandarma and national police present — an
increase of 40% on previous years — as well as
the coast guard and at least 1000 soldiers from
the 2nd Army Corps.
The royal pair, like other VIPs, will have their
own personal protection details too.
They will have conducted reconnaissance
and worked closely with spies from Britain’s
embassy in Turkey.
“I’m sure from a threat assessment point of
view they (the princes) will be as safe as anyone
can possibly make them,” Davies said, adding
the Turks had a variety of security
“ layers” to deal with any threat.
“ Unlike so many countries they
are used to dealing with high-
“They ’ve had for many years,
with the Kurdish situation, a
structure and system which by and
large seems to work.
“ I think the two princes will be
very safe. ”
The former Met commander said
terrorist attacks had mostly been
in the east of Turkey and directed
at police officers or military
personnel rather than civilians.
News Corp last week quoted
an Australian intelligence source
saying Anzac Day at Gallipoli
would be a “high-value target ” for
Islamic State terrorists who have
seized large parts of neighbouring
Syria and Iraq.
It said ASIO, ASIS and
Australian Federal Police officers
had been deployed to Turkey in
recent weeks along with special
But Davies believes that would
be “very unusual”.
“The prime minister (Mr Abbott) would have
a protection team but to send all those ancillary
. . . thatwouldbeanewone.
“It’s not something the host country would
Davies stressed the real danger for VIPs was
always travelling to and from events.
He warned authorities not to publish the timing
or details of the routes to be used on the peninsula.
“That would be folly in my opinion,” he said.
Davies last year labelled New Zealand
authorities “ idiotic” for announcing details of
exactly where Prince William, Kate and baby
George would be appearing during their tour.
Australian authorities earlier insisted Gallipoli
would be one of the safest places to be in Turkey
on Anzac Day. They suggested attendees be
“alert but not alarmed”. — AAP
Grass fires claim 23 lives in southern Siberia
app may help
A new device that can be added to a
smartphone may be able to accurately
and cheaply diagnose cancer, United
States researchers say.
Known as D3, the add-on is designed
to be used by medical experts, not the
general public, and so far appears as
accurate as more involved and costly
tests in current use, but at a price of a
mere $US1.80 ($2.40) per patient.
The research is described in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.
“ We believe the platform we have
developed provides essential features
at an extraordinary low cost,” co-
author Cesar Castro, a doctor at the
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer
Centre and Centre for Systems Biology,
D3 stands for digital diffraction
diagnosis, and the system “features an
imaging module with a battery-powered
LED light clipped onto a standard
smartphone that records high-resolution
imaging data with its camera,” said the
“ With a much greater field of view
than traditional microscopy, the D3
system is capable of recording data on
more than 100,000 cells from a blood or
tissue sample in a single image.”
The process involves adding microbeads
to a sample of blood or tissue. The
microbeads bind to known cancer-
related molecules. The sample is then
loaded into the D3 imaging module.
That data can be quickly sent via a
secure, encrypted cloud ser vice to a
processing ser ver.
Then, the presence of specific molecules,
which show if cancer is present, can be
detected by analysing the diffraction
patterns generated by the microbeads,
the study said.
Results can be returned to the doctor
in minutes or hours, rather than days or
More research is needed on a larger
number of cancers to verify the
preliminary findings of the new device.
Researchers expect the device will
break down many of the barriers that
exist in cancer diagnosis, particularly in
remote or impoverished areas. — AFP
German literary lion Gunter Grass dies
Germany ’s most famous writer, Gunter
Grass, best known for his 1959 novel The
Tin Drum, has died aged 87.
The Nobel laureate died overnight in a
hospital in the northern city of Lubeck,
the Steidl publishing house said.
Grass quickly followed his debut and
best-known novel The Tin Drum with Cat
and Mouse and Dog Years, all dealing with
the rise of Nazism in his hometown of
Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.
He won a string of international awards,
including the Nobel Prize in Literature in
1999 and continued to publish into his 80s.
Later in life, the novelist, poet, playwright
and sculptor, often seen chomping on his
pipe and sporting a walrus moustache,
courted controversy with a provocative
poem that painted Israel as the Middle
East ’s biggest threat to peace.
The prose-poem entitled What Must Be
Said, published in 2012, voiced fears that a
nuclear-armed Israel could mount a “first
strike” against Iran, triggered accusations
of anti-Semitism and a ban from Israel.
After years of urging Germany to come
to terms with its World War Two past, the
outcry further darkened the shadow cast
by his 2006 bombshell admission that he
had ser ved in the Nazis’ elite Waffen SS
after being conscripted into the corps as a
Grass remained defiant in the face of the
backlash over the poem but admitted he
found the accusations of anti-Semitism
Grass’s works have a strong political
dimension and are considered part of the
German literary movement dealing with
“coming to terms with the past ”. But he
was also not averse to commenting on, and
stirring, controversy beyond his nation’s
He likened the cartoons of the Prophet
Mohammed that appeared in 2005 in a
Danish newspaper to Nazi caricatures
of Jews, and criticised ex-United States
president George W Bush for using religious
terms to describe his “war on terror”.
Grass was born on October 16, 1927 in
the Baltic port city of Danzig to parents
who had a grocery shop.
A passionate visual artist who also
studied sculpture and graphics, Grass’s
work and psyche were marked by
His first three books, known as the
Danzig Trilogy, are set in the ethnically-
mixed region of his childhood. Danzig was
handed to Poland after the war, when its
ethnic German population fled or were
Grass defined himself in a 1969 inter view
as a humanist allergic to ideologies of any
kind “to the point of wanting to attack
any belief that claims to set absolute
Grass put his more than 60-year silence
over his Waffen SS conscription down to
wanting to use his 2006 memoir to fully
explain his past.
“ What I accepted with pride in my
younger years I wanted to keep quiet
about after the war because of my growing
shame,” he wrote in the autobiography
Peeling the Onion. — AFP
PICTURE: Getty Images
German writer and Nobel literature prize winner Gunter Grass at a press conference
for his book Peeling the Onion in May 2007 in Madrid.
Kenyan ‘grass cutter’
gang rapists jailed
When Pope Francis became
the first pontiff to publicly call
the 1915 Armenian massacre
a genocide this weekend, the
reaction from Ankara was
swift and irate: it summoned
the Vatican ambassador for a
dressing down and recalled its
Reaction in the Turkish media
overnight ranged from indignant
to indifferent, depending on how
close the newspaper is to the
government. The response on
Turkish street corners was muted,
with many Turks dismissing
the spat as empty politics and
voicing a desire to leave history
in the past.
Pope Francis sparked the row
by calling the massacre of up to
1.5 million Armenians “the first
genocide of the 20th century”,
prompting Turkey to accuse him
of inciting hatred.
Muslim Turkey agrees that
Christian Armenians died in
clashes with Ottoman soldiers
beginning in April 1915, when
some Armenians lived in the
empire ruled from Istanbul, but
denies hundreds of thousands
were killed and that this
amounted to genocide.
“The Pope’s statements, which
are far from historical and judicial
facts, cannot be accepted,”
Cavusoglu said on Twitter.
“ Religious offices are not places
to incite hatred and revenge with
The fact that Vatican City
is the world’s smallest State
may have precluded further
repercussions. When France’s
parliament voted in 2011 to
make Armenian genocide denial
a crime, Turkey withdrew its
ambassador, suspended joint
military manoeuvres and stopped
political contacts for a while.
Sitting on a ferry off the
western port of Izmir, a man who
declined to give his full name
said it was time to stop bickering
about the past.
“Every year, it’s the same
thing. April comes and all the
western politicians are talking
about genocide. There is no such
animosity between the people of
these two countries,” Ibrahim,
48, said, taking a sip of tea. “ We
must leave history behind us and
focus on the future.”
Armenia and its large diaspora
in the United States argue that
Turkey has not fully owned up to
its wartime past.
“If you ask any ordinary
Armenian or Turk, I am positive
we do not care about this as much
as people think we do,” Dursun
Okan, a 27-year-old banker, said.
Still others saw the Pope’s
remarks as interference by
foreigners and wondered whether
the United States, a traditional
ally of Turkey, would eventually
use the word “genocide”.
Unlike almost two dozen
European and South American
States that use the term,
Washington avoids it and has
warned legislators that Ankara
could cut off military co-
operation if it voted to adopt it.
“I believe Obama will call it
a genocide as well, considering
the influence of the Armenian
population in the United States,”
Serhat, a university student in
Ankara, said. “It would surprise
me if no one else called it a
Pope Francis appeared to refer
to his use of the term “genocide”
overnight, saying in a sermon
that “today the Church’s message
is one of the path of frankness,
the path of Christian courage. ”
Pope’s genocide remark ruffles Turkey’s feathers
A Kenyan court has convicted three men for
the brutal gang rape of a schoolgirl, boosting
their original punishment of being made to cut
grass to 15 years in jail.
“ Today’s sentencing is sure to have a ripple
effect across the nation, and hopefully the
region at large,” lawyer Kimberly Brown, from
the campaign group Equality Now, which
supported the schoolgirl, said.
Worldwide outrage over the punishment
prompted more than 1.8 million people to sign
an online petition demanding justice.
The then 16-year-old victim, known by the
pseudonym Liz, was reportedly attacked, beaten
and then raped by six men as she returned from
her grandfather’s funeral in western Kenya in
The gang dumped her, bleeding and
unconscious, in a deep sewage ditch.
She suffered a broken back, caused either by
the beating or by being hurled down into the
pit, as well as serious internal injuries from the
The case made global headlines after it
emerged that three of the alleged rapists whom
Liz identified were ordered by police to cut
grass around the police station as punishment.
Other suspects were on the run, with
the public prosecutor ordering they be
“apprehended and brought to justice without
Sentencing had been set for last Friday but
was delayed after one of the men skipped bail
and failed to turn up, but police arrested him
over the weekend.
Rape is a serious problem in Kenya but is
seldom taken seriously by the police, rights
“The sheer scale of sexual violence in schools,
communities and its general acceptability in
society is astounding,” Brown added. — AFP
Former Blackwater guards
in Iraqi killings jailed
A federal judge sentenced four former
Blackwater security guards to lengthy prison
terms overnight in the 2007 massacre of 14
unarmed Iraqis, closing a chapter of the United
States war in Iraq that tested relations between
the two countries.
Nicholas Slatten was sentenced to life in
prison for his murder conviction in the killings
at a Baghdad traffic circle.
US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth
sentenced three other former Blackwater guards,
convicted of manslaughter in the killings, to 30
The four guards opened fire with machine-
guns and grenade launchers on the unarmed
Iraqi civilians, including women and children, at
Nisur Square on September 16, 2007. A heavily-
armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide
convoy had been trying to clear a path for US
In addition to the killings, at least 17 Iraqis
Slatten was convicted in October, along with
ex-guards Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and
North Carolina-based Blackwater has since
been sold and renamed several times. It is now
called Academi, based in northern Virginia.
Democrats have their 2016 presidential
frontrunner in Hillary Clinton, but the
Republican field remains wide open —
and it got even wider, with first-term
Senator Marco Rubio joining the race.
Rubio, 43 — a F lorida representative
and son of immigrants from Cuba who
is equally at ease discussing foreign
policy, deficit reduction, his family’s
narrative or hip-hop
music — is scheduled to make a “huge
announcement ” in Miami today.
He is expected to cast himself as the
next-generation candidate, in contrast
with Clinton and mentor-turned-
rival Jeb Bush. He joins two other
Republican first-term senators who are
already running: Ted Cruz of Texas,
who like Rubio is Cuban-American,
and libertarian-leaning Rand Paul from
Kentucky. — AFP
Rubio joins race
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