Home' Greymouth Star : May 16th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, May 16, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1568 - Mary Queen of Scots takes refuge in
1770 - Marie Antoinette, 14, is wed to
France’s King Louis XVI, 15.
1868 - US Senate fails by one vote to convict
President Andrew Johnson on one of 11
articles of impeachment.
1881 - The first electric tram goes
into public ser vice, near Berlin in
1920 - Joan of Arc is canonised in
1932 - Japan’s Premier Tsuyoshi
Inukai is assassinated in Tokyo.
1941 - Icelandic parliament ends
treaty with Denmark, proclaims independence.
1943 - In World War Two, British Lancaster
aircraft bomb the Mohne and the Eder dams
in Germany ’s industrial Ruhr basin, using a
1961 - Major General Park Chung-hee
stages a military coup in South Korea.
1969 - A Soviet space ship reaches the
vicinity of Venus and drops a capsule that sends
back information on the planet ’s atmosphere.
1975 - Japanese climber Junko Tabei becomes
the first woman to reach the summit of Mount
1987 - The leader of a military coup in Fiji,
Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, calls
for a new constitution to block the Indian-
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Maria Agnesi, Italian mathematician
(1718-1799); Henry Fonda, US actor (1905-
1982); Betty Carter, US jazz singer
(1929-1998); Pierce Brosnan, Irish
actor (1953-); Debra Winger, US
actress (1955-); Mare Winningham,
US actress (1959-); Janet Jackson,
US pop singer (1966-); Gabriela
Sabatini, Argentinian tennis player
(1970-); Danielle Spencer, Australian
singer/actress (1970-); Tori Spelling,
US actress (1973-); Megan Fox, American
“ Ideas won’t keep; something must be done
about them. ” — Alfred North Whitehead,
“Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer
be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have
striven with God and with humans, and have
prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell
me your name.’ But he said, ‘ Why is it that you
ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.”
— Genesis 32.28-29
“I can still hear her
voice in the ceiling.”
These are the words
of ex-Brunner Mayor
Mr F Williams, now of Greymouth, who this
morning recalled memories of Miss Mary
Elizabeth Watson, better known as Mamie
Watson, who was looked upon as the West
Coast ’s top musician during the early years of
Today, Miss Watson is a patient at the
Grey Hospital, but years have not dulled the
memories of those who heard her sing or play
the piano. She was an excellent singer as well
as being a first class pianist. Various musical
companies which visited the Coast approached
Miss Watson to join their ranks. “But she
always stayed here,” said Mr Williams.
Miss Watson, an ex-Taylor ville woman,
was a member and the conductor of the now
disbanded Brunner Brass Band for many years.
Miss Watson was also a regular attender at
farewells for men going overseas to ser ve in the
New Zealand forces during World War One.
“She sang at all the going away ceremonies
and would not take a penny for it,” said Mr
Two-year-old Peter Adrian Sadler had been
missing for less than 15 minutes when he
was found drowned in a creek 50 yards from
the house of his parents at Kotuku yesterday.
The boy, who is the son of Mr Raymond and
Mrs Maureen Sadler, went missing from the
house on the Bell Hill State farm about noon
Mr Sadler himself discovered the tragedy
when he went in search of his son. He found
the boy drowned in the creek which runs at the
back of the farmhouse.
uFood for thought
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Joan of Arc
He just misheard the question. A
basically friendly inter viewer on Fox
News asked Jeb Bush, now seeking the
Republican nomination for the United
States presidency: “Knowing what we
know now, would you have authorised the
invasion (of Iraq)?” He replied: “I would
have. ” When the storm of protest, even
from Republicans, swept over him, he
explained that he thought the inter viewer
had said: “Knowing what we knew then.”
An easy mistake to make. “ Know now ”
sounds an awful lot like “knew then”.
Besides, Jeb Bush is on record as claiming
that he is Hispanic (on a 2009 voter-
registration application), so the poor man
was struggling with his second language.
If only she had asked the question in
Spanish, he would have understood it
Enough. When you listen to the entire
inter view, it is clear that Bush did not
want to say a flat “no” to her question,
because that would be a condemnation
of his brother’s decision to invade Iraq
in 2003. But as soon as he could, he
switched to talking about the “ intelligence
failures” that misled his brother into
invading the wrong country. Anybody can
make a mistake. So nobody’s to blame.
Hillary Clinton, currently the favourite
for the Democratic presidential
nomination, uses exactly the same
defence. In fact, every American politician
who voted in favour of the invasion of
Iraq at the time claims that the problem
was faulty intelligence, and maybe some
of them outside of the White House
genuinely were misled.
But the intelligence was not “faulty”;
it was cooked to order. There was no
plausible intelligence that Iraq had
weapons of mass destruction, so the US
intelligence ser vices were told to “find”
some. There were no Islamist terrorists
in Iraq either: Saddam Hussein hunted
down and killed anybody suspected of
being an Islamist activist, because the
Islamists wanted to kill him.
The US Central Intelligence Agency
agency tried very hard to create a link
between al Qaeda, the organisation
responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and
Iraq. The only thing they came up with,
however, was a rumour that a little-known
Islamist from Jordan called Abu Musab
al Zarqawi who knew Osama bin Laden
had been in Baghdad receiving treatment
for wounds received in Afghanistan in
May-November 2002. (He was actually in
Iran at that time).
If you were on the White House staff
in early 2003, you had to know that the
“ intelligence” you were using to justify
the invasion of Iraq was false, because you
were one of the people demanding that
the spooks manufacture “evidence” for it.
The decision itself had been taken even
before Bush’s election in 2000 and the
9/11 attacks in 2001, for reasons that had
nothing to do with terrorism.
The incoming Bush administration
was full of people called “neo-
conservatives”. They believed that the
Clinton administration had failed to
exploit the sole superpower status that
the US inherited after the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991 to put the
world to right.
What was needed, therefore, was a
display of US power that would make
all the “bad guys” behave. So invade
somewhere and take the local bad guy
down. Iraq was the obvious choice,
because it was very weak after a decade of
arms embargo, and Saddam Hussein was
a very bad guy.
We do not yet know just how disastrous
the invasion of Iraq was, because the
damage is still accumulating. Abu Bakr
al Baghdadi, the man who now rules
“Islamic State”, the terrorist-ruled new
country that occupies the eastern half
of Syria and the western third of Iraq,
started fighting Americans as part of the
Iraqi resistance in 2003.
By 2006 at the latest, he had joined the
group then called al Qaeda in Iraq, which
was largely made up of jihadis from other
Arab countries who had flocked to Iraq
to fight the infidel invaders. The founder
of al Qaeda in Iraq was none other than
Abu Musab al Zarqawi — who parlayed
the reputation as a major jihadi leader
that the US intelligence ser vices gave
him into a real leadership position in the
Through the years that followed,
that organisation gained experience in
guerrilla war and terrorism, and through
several changes of name and leadership
(Zarqawi was killed in 2006) it ultimately
morphed into Islamic State. Baghdadi
was with it all the way, and now styles
himself “Caliph Ibrahim”, demanding
the loyalty and obedience of all Muslims
So we owe a lot to the “neo-cons”
in George Bush’s administration who
pushed for the invasion of Iraq: people
like Dick Cheney (vice-president),
Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defence)
and Paul Wolfowitz (Under-Secretary of
Defence). They just used the 9/11 attacks
as a vehicle for their pre-existing Iraq
It was Wolfowitz, above all, who worked
tirelessly to link Iraq to terrorism. Guess
who is the most prominent name on Jeb
Bush’s current team of foreign policy
advisers (apart from George W Bush
himself ). Why, it is the very same Paul
Wolfowitz. The problem with Jeb Bush is
not the foolish answers he gives. It is the
company he keeps.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Another Bush damaged by Iraq
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Sucked in, washed up and blown over!
Chippie the parakeet never saw it
coming. One second he was peacefully
perched in his cage, sending a song into
the air; the next second he was sucked in,
washed up, and blown over.
His problem began when his owner
decided to clean his cage with a vacuum.
She had stuck the nozzle in to suck up
the seeds and feathers at the bottom of
the cage when the nearby telephone rang.
Instinctively she turned to pick it up.
She had barely said hello when—sssopp!
Chippie got sucked in. She gasped, let
the phone drop, and switched off the
vacuum. With her heart in her mouth, she
unzipped the bag.
There was Chippie—alive but stunned—
covered with heavy gray dust. She grabbed
him and rushed to the bathtub, turned on
the tap full blast, and held Chippie under
a torrent of ice-cold water, power washing
him clean. Then it dawned on her that
Chippie was soaking wet and shivering. So
she did what any compassionate pet owner
would do: she snatched up the hair dryer
and blasted him with hot air.
Did Chippie sur vive? Yes, but he does
not sing much any more. He just sits
and stares a lot. It is not hard to see why.
Sucked in, washed up, and blown over. It
is enough to steal the song from any stout
Can you identify with Chippie? One
moment everything is going along fine
then the boss calls a meeting and you find
yourself out of a job. The doctor rings. The
divorce papers arrive. The police come to
Or, perhaps, you can identify with
the pre-disaster Chippie. Everything is
familiar and steady, you have everything
you need, everything is going well,
but there is a feeling of dissatisfaction,
boredom, a caged up feeling.
Either way, we may find ourselves asking,
“ Is there more to life than this?”
Two days ago was Ascension Day when
we remember Jesus’ return to heaven. His
first followers might have felt a bit like
post-disaster Chippie. After an amazing
three years of being with Jesus, He was now
gone and life seemed flat and scary. But
10 days after His ascension, Jesus sent the
Holy Spirit and filled His followers with
His very presence and a new and incredible
adventure began and still continues.
Following Jesus does not guarantee a
disaster free life, but it does offer a deeply
satisfying one and resources when the hard
If you are finding yourself asking, “Is
there more to life than this?” I invite you
to come to a free three course meal and
video exploring that question at 6pm on
Wednesday, May 27, at the Trinity Centre.
Phone 768-7508 to make a reser vation.
Rev Marge Tefft
Greymouth and Kumara Anglican Parish
Discovering the meaning of life
Germany turns on top firearms maker
n the lush forests of southern
Germany sits a fenced-in
compound of drab white buildings
that house a company under siege.
Heckler and Koch is one of
the most successful gun makers
in the world. Its HK416 assault rifle is
said to have been used to kill Osama bin
Laden and the G36 is standard issue for
militaries across the globe.
In years past, the company profited from
Germany ’s aggressive export policies.
In 2008, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
government approved a controversial
but lucrative licensing deal for HK that
allows Saudi Arabia to produce the G36
But lately, the mood in Berlin has
shifted. Also HK’s most important client
has become its fiercest critic.
Last year, Berlin reversed course on
arms exports following a storm of media
criticism. Tighter restrictions ground
HK’s Middle East business to a halt,
Even worse, for a company that prides
itself on engineering it likens to “fine
watchmaking”, the government is now
questioning the quality of its signature
The G36, Berlin says, does not shoot
straight in hot weather or when it heats up
through constant firing.
“This weapon, the way it is now
constructed, has no future in the German
armed forces,” Defence Minister Ursula
von der Leyen declared last month.
HK, a private company with 700
employees, has always avoided the
spotlight. Now it is front-page news
and in a fight for sur vival, its reputation
damaged and its business practices and
finances under scrutiny.
Last week it invited a small group of
reporters to its headquarters in Oberndorf
south of Stuttgart.
The message was clear: there is nothing
wrong with the G36, a rifle HK began
delivering to the Bundeswehr nearly two
decades ago and has sold to over 30 other
“ We are convinced that there is some
sort of campaign against us,” Andreas
Heeschen, a 54-year-old German investor
who bought the firm from British
Aerospace — now BAE Systems — in
2002 and recently relocated from London
to Oberndorf to take a more active
management role, said.
HK is vowing to fight back. Executives
said it is considering legal action against
the government for what it sees as
politically motivated slander.
The conflict is more than a battle
between a defence firm and a disgruntled
client. It also reflects Germany’s struggle
to define its role in a world of heightened
Seventy years after the end of World
War Two, Germany is still reluctant to
send its troops to crisis zones. Yet until
recently it encouraged companies like
Heckler and Koch to ship arms around
Berlin is now tacitly acknowledging the
hypocrisy of this stance. But reversing
course is proving messy — for the
government and the gun maker.
Heckler and Koch traces its roots back to
1811, when Friedrich I of Wuerttemberg
ordered an armaments factory built in
Oberndorf. Sixty years later, two brothers
— Paul and Wilhelm Mauser — who
worked in the armoury set up shop for
The company thrived. At its peak in
World War Two, it produced 70,000 rifles
a month for the Nazis with the help of
thousands of forced labourers. After the
German defeat, French troops swooped in
to dismantle Mauser’s machines and put
them on trains for Alsace.
One night, three Mauser engineers —
Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch and
Alex Seidel — crept into the railyard,
unloaded a set of machines and hid
them under haystacks on the hill above
In 1955, when a ban on German arms-
making was lifted, those machines were
dusted off and began producing guns
under the name Heckler and Koch.
By the end of the 1950s, the company
was supplying the Bundeswehr with the
G3, now the second most widely used
assault rifle in history after the Russian
The G36 followed in 1997. Since then,
HK has delivered nearly 180,000 to the
German armed forces.
The first suggestions that the gun
might be faulty date back to April 2010,
when 32 Bundeswehr paratroopers were
ambushed by Taliban fighters in northern
Afghanistan. Three German soldiers were
killed in a nine-hour firefight. The G36
was said to have overheated, forcing the
Germans to retreat.
For years no action was taken. Then
Defence Minister von der Leyen
commissioned a new study of the weapon.
It was completed last month and the
results were damning.
“In demanding battle situations, precise
engagement of the enemy is not reliable,”
the confidential report reads.
In Oberndorf, the report was greeted
with fury and incredulity.
Why, Heckler and Koch asks, does
Germany suddenly have a problem with a
weapon its military has used for nearly 20
years? Why haven’t other G36 countries
complained? Why are politicians rather
than troops who use the rifle criticising
“It looks to me like von der Leyen has
jumped at the chance to send a tough
message to a company that cannot fight
back because it’s relatively small and has
an image problem,” Thomas Wiegold, a
Berlin journalist who blogs on defence
A German officer with experience in
Afghanistan, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said: “Any weapon gets hot if
you shoot it long enough. The G36 is not a
machine-gun and it ’s not made to be one.”
Some suspect HK has become a
target because of other misdeeds that
embarrassed the government. The G36
has turned up repeatedly where it was not
supposed to be sold — including Libya
and Georgia — prompting withering
exposes in the German media.
The most high-profile example is
Mexico, where thousands of HK guns
went to four States that were under an
export ban because of corrupt police
Some of the guns were discovered in
Iguala, a town in one of the banned states
where 43 students were abducted last year
by police and allegedly assassinated by
HK has dismissed two executives it said
had acted alone in facilitating the illegal
Mexican exports. But prosecutors in
Stuttgart are investigating whether more
may have known.
During the visit, the company tried to
emphasise the quality of its work, with
Martin Lemperle, a 35-year HK veteran
with a thick Swabian accent, proudly
showing off wares in the factory.
Around him, workers smoothed the
edges of rifle and pistol parts with tiny
devices that whirred like a dentist ’s drill.
“ We make a product,” Lemperle said.
“Others decide whether it is used to kill.”
Owner Heeschen is scrambling to repair
HK’s reputation and finances.
He said that to offset the stalled
Middle East business, which hit revenues
by 50 million euros in 2014, he wants
to expand in the United States civilian
In a nod to sensitivities about school
shootings, he says the focus will be on
selling pistols rather than assault rifles.
His goal is to boost US civilian revenues
to $100 million in 2015, more than double
the 2013 level.
“This will more than compensate for the
decline on the military side,” Heeschen
But concerns about the fir m’s fi nances
linger. HK is paying a whopping 9.5%
interest rate on a 295 million euro bond
that falls due in 2018. It recently secured a
new 30 million euro credit facility, but on
even more onerous terms.
Rating agency Moody’s said this month
that the firm’s capital structure was
“ unsustainable” without new capital.
But Heeschen says he is not considering
selling up. “ Who would want to buy the
company now?” he said. — Reuters
A Heckler and Koch 417 rifle. It is a gas-operated, selective-fire rifle chambered for the 7.62 x 51 Nato round.
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