Home' Greymouth Star : June 13th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, June 13, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1381 - The Peasants’ Revolt, a popular
uprising led by Wat Tyler and sparked by the
implementation of a poll tax, begins in Britain.
1835 - Batmania is suggested as named for
proposed settlement which later becomes
1878 - The phonograph is demonstrated for
the first time at the Royal Society of Victoria.
1886 - Mysterious death by drowning of
Bavaria’s “Mad” King Ludwig.
1917 - Fourteen German Gotha
bombers carry out the first large-scale
bombing raid by planes on London,
1927 - US aviator Charles
Lindbergh is honoured with a ticker-
tape parade in New York City after
his pioneering transatlantic flight.
1940 - With German troops not far off, Paris
is declared an open city.
1945 - Australian forces capture Brunei.
1951 - Death of Ben Chifley, Australian
Labor prime minister (1945-49).
1971 - New York Times begins publishing
the Pentagon Papers, a secret study of
America’s involvement in Vietnam.
1983 - US spacecraft Pioneer 10 crosses the
orbit of Neptune and becomes the first man-
made object to leave the solar system.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Richard Barnfield, English poet (1574-1627);
Thomas Arnold, English educator-historian
(1795-1842); William Butler Yeats, Irish poet
(1865-1939); Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese
writer (1888-1935); Basil Rathbone, British
actor (1892-1967); Slim Dusty,
Australian country singer (1927-
2003); Siegfried, magician with
Siegfried and Roy (1939-);
Malcolm McDowell, British actor
(1943-); Ban Ki-moon, the current
UN Secretary General (1944-);
Red Symons, Australian musician
and television personality (1949-); Dennis
Locorriere, US singer of Dr Hook fame
(1949-); Richard Thomas, US actor (1951-);
Stellan Skarsgard, Swedish actor (1951-);
Tim Allen, US actor-comedian (1953-); Ally
Sheedy, US actor (1962-); Steve-O, American
stunt performer (1974 -); Elli Overton,
Australian swimmer (1974-); Ashley and
Mary-Kate Olsen, US actresses (1986-).
“One is easily fooled by that which one loves.”
— Moliere, French actor-playwright (1622-73).
“ Do you not know that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” — 1
would be no sport.
It is not always easy
to find a willing and efficient administrator,
but the West Coast Softball Association is in
a more than fortunate position to have such
a spirit as Mrs Betty Stone. The West Coast
Rugby League also claims a share in the doyen
of behind-the-scenes workers.
Mrs Stone is the first to admit that it was
not after a prominent sporting career that
she branched out into adminsitration. On
the contrary, it was after starting out on the
administration side of softball that Mrs Stone
was enticed to play. “But while I enjoyed
playing, I soon found I wasn’t much good,” was
her comment on her softball playing career.
Mrs Stone has been connected with softball
for 10 years, but this is not the only sport to
have benefited from her ser vices, rugby league
too has shared the ser vices of this capable
administrator. It was also Mrs Stone who
reintroduced the Miss West Coast contest.
Westland’s Mr Mark Wallace, one of the
most well-known personalities in the district,
has been awarded an MBE in the Q ueen’s
Birthday honours announced yesterday. Mr
Wallace has an impressive record of ser vice in
local body and community affairs extending
over some 40 years. He is particularly well-
known for his contribution to farming.
For more than 40 years he has been a
member of the Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi branch
of Federated Farmers, and for the past 22 years
has been a member of the Westland County
Council, of which he is at present chairman.
uFood for thought
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Turkey may stop backing Islamists in Syria
For Turks, the burning question after
last weekend’s election is whether they
will now get the fully democratic, pluralist
country that so many of them want.
The defeat of President Tayyip Recep
Erdogan’s AK Party does open that
prospect, although translating it into
reality will be very difficult.
But for everybody else, the question
is whether Turkey will stop backing the
Islamist insurgents who are on the brink
of winning in Syria.
Compared to the head-choppers of
Isis and the only slightly less extreme
Al Nusra Front that now dominate
the military campaign against Bashar
al-Assad’s regime in Syria, Erdogan —
the “Sultan”, as his devoted supporters
often call him — is a very moderate
Islamist. But his support for those two
organisations is the main reason that
they have been winning so many battles
Turkey shares a 800km border with
Syria, and for four years Erdogan’s
government has left it open for arms,
supplies and foreign recruits to flow to
the Syrian Islamists. When Al Nusra
seized most of the strategically important
Idlib province last March after three
years of trying, Damascus claimed that
a major reason for its loss was that
Turkey had jammed the Syrian army’s
In March, according to reports by the
pro-rebel Al Jazeera network, Erdogan
even made a pact with Saudi Arabia
to co-ordinate assistance to the Syrian
rebels — most of which flows through
Turkey. But all that could change quite
quickly if Erdogan’s party cannot form a
government that supports this policy —
and the signs are that it cannot.
The Turkish election was not about
Erdogan’s policy in Syria. It was, above
all, about his ambition to become a
mini-Putin who would dominate Turkey
into the foreseeable future. In order to
achieve that goal, he gave up the prime
ministership and got himself elected to
the relatively powerless and ceremonial
office of president in 2014. But his
intention was to transform the presidency
into the all-powerful centre of political
power in Turkey.
Changing Turkey from a parliamentary
system to a country ruled by an executive
president would require a constitutional
change, which can only be done by a
“super-majority” of three-fifths of the
votes in the 550-seat parliament. Since
2002 Erdogan’s party had won three
successive elections with ever-increasing
majorities, he was confident that he could
pull it off. He was wrong.
Turkish voters did not give him even
a majority of the seats in parliament.
Too many people had turned against
this always angry and abusive man who
condemns his political opponents as
“terrorists, marginals, gays and atheists,”
and who now wanted to consolidate his
position as the unchallengeable “Sultan”
Erdogan began as a reformer whose
entirely reasonable and legitimate goal
was to end the Turkish State’s open
hostility to the more pious members of
its over whelmingly Muslim population. It
was an historical leftover from the time,
some 90 years ago, when Kemal Ataturk
was trying to build a modern, secular
State in the face of huge opposition from
religious conser vatives, but it had no place
in a 21st-century democracy.
Erdogan broke the power of the army,
which had repeatedly carried out coups
in alleged defence of the “secular” State,
and deeply conser vative and religious
Turks who had felt excluded from that
State rewarded him with their votes in
three successive elections. But as his
confidence grew he stopped bothering to
accommodate the views of the younger
and mostly urban half of the population
whose values were liberal and secular.
The Turkish media, once relatively free,
came under such concentrated attack that
by 2012 there were more journalists in
jail in Turkey than anywhere else in the
world. The Government ’s response to
public protests became more and more
violent, and Erdogan’s determination
to gather all power into his own hands
became more and more evident.
More than one-fifth of AK Party’s
voters abandoned the party in this
election. They were not abandoning their
religion; they were just still committed to
the party’s original aim of a democratic
Turkey that respected everybody’s rights
(including their own). Most of them
migrated to the new People’s Democratic
Party, which also welcomes Kurds, gays,
and non-Muslim religious minorities and
strongly promotes gender equality.
Erdogan will find it hard to form
a coalition with any of the three big
opposition parties in parliament — none
of which support his policy of backing
Islamist extremists in the Syrian civil
war. He will have 45 days to try to form a
government, and if that fails Turkey will
probably face another election before the
end of the summer.
It is unlikely that the AK Party can
improve its position in a second election;
once the illusion of invincibility has been
shattered, it is very hard to rebuild. What
follows may be a coalition government
made up of opposition parties that find it
hard to agree on most things — but none
of them share Erdogan’s fondness for Isis
and its friends. If Assad can hang on in
Syria until the end of the summer, he may
yet sur vive.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
A member of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front inspects a burning self-propelled anti-aircraft
gun in the town of the north-western city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent
groups seized the area in Idlib province late last month.
‘Survival game’ fans play at combat, cautious of war
ressed in camouflage
fatigues and sweating
in the summer heat,
Kento Atari and
his comrades sneak
through the woods
trying to outfox their
enemies in a mock military exercise.
“I ’ve been hit,” yells one, emerging with
hands held high.
The young Japanese, armed not with real
weapons but air guns that shoot plastic
pellets, are devotees of so-called “sur vival
games”, which are increasingly popular in
a land whose soldiers have not gone into
battle since defeat in World War Two.
Atari and other engaged in faux combat
at Camp Devgru, a “war field” east of
Tokyo, say their hobby does not equate
with fondness for real conflict, reflecting
an enduring public allergy to war that is
a hurdle for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
as he pushes for a more muscular defence
“ You can get a thrill that you can’t in
everyday life . . . it’s fun and it’s like a
sport,” Atari, a tall 24-year-old, said during
a lunch break at Camp Devgru one recent
Saturday. “ But it’s separate from war. I am
Atari and his mates say they play
sur vival games to blow off steam, get some
fresh air and exercise and indulge their
fascination with military gear, albeit fake.
Most are men, but couples also come on
dates, women tag along with friends, and
Camp Devgru sponsors a Fathers’ Day
event for dads and kids.
“This is just a hobby,” another 24-year-
old, Takuya Oki, said. “ I myself oppose
Polls suggest most Japanese share such
sentiments, despite worries over threats
such as from an assertive and rising China.
A sur vey of 64 countries by WIN/Gallop
International showed Japan ranked lowest
in the%age of people willing to fight
for their country — 11%, versus 71% in
China, 44% in the United States and 27%
Those numbers disguise more complex
attitudes, however, that can be seen in
the comments of the “sur vival games”
enthusiasts — less a simplistic pacifism
that rejects all use of force than a desire
not to be dragged into others’ fights.
Japanese have long lived with the
paradox of a post-war, United States-
drafted constitution whose pacifist Article
9 bans any armed forces, existing alongside
a military that has grown bigger than that
Successive governments have said the
constitution allows “Self-Defence Forces”
devoted exclusively to defending Japan,
even as they loosened constraints on
“The Japanese are more anti-militarist
than pacifist,” Brad Glosserman, executive
director of Pacific Forum CSIS, a
Honolulu-based think-tank, said.
“They ’re prepared to accept the necessity
of self-defence”, he said, but object to “the
use of force as an instrument of power
Now Abe wants to expand the
scope for military operations abroad,
reinterpreting the constitution to allow
defence of friendly countries under
attack, or “collective self-defence”. Bills to
implement the change are being debated
The debate has split and confused
the public. Forty-eight per cent of
respondents to a Yomiuri newspaper
poll opposed the change while 40%
backed it. Eighty per cent complained
that the government ’s explanation was
Abe’s ruling bloc can force the security
bills — which opposition critics say are
unconstitutional — through parliament
given its majority, but any perception
it had done so without enough debate
would risk denting his now robust support
Prodded to contemplate their response if
Japan were invaded, some “sur vival game”
fans at Camp Devgru said they would flee,
while others pinned their hopes on the
Atari said he would fight.
“ We can’t always keep relying on the
United States to protect us,” he said,
adding he might back dispatching troops
to defend a friendly country - if the reason
were made clear.
“ When would ( Japan) get involved? If
we were to exercise collective self-defence
after making that clear, I’d agree,” he said.
“But I don’t want to be caught up in an
unnecessary war.” — Reuters
“The history of the race, and each
individual’s experience, are thick with
evidence that a truth is not hard to kill
and that a lie told well is immortal.” —
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep
saying it, and eventually they will believe
it.” — Adolf Hitler.
Trying to decide what to believe from
the “ latest study” on raising your children
what is really nutritious . . . will
smoking really kill you — just because
the “experts” say so. Who exactly are these
Thank God for the internet.
While we wade through a lot of
opinions and conspiracies at least we can
look through wide lenses of information.
As long as we do not stop at the first
thing we see or only that which we have
already determined for ourselves, we will
see the big picture.
Just believing what you are told, without
question, is both lazy and irresponsible.
If this is so in the community we live in
today, it should also be within the church
We “experts” also have opinions and
interpretations limited by our experience
and understanding. I am personally only
an amateur, constantly learning.
Acts 17:11 (Living Bible): “But the
people of Berea were more open-minded
than those in Thessalonica, and gladly
listened to the message. They searched the
Scriptures day by day to check up on Paul
and Silas’ statements to see if they were
really so. ”
The Hebrew mind was not searching
for knowledge alone; their discussion of
scripture was all about how to put these
words of God into practice. Not just to
know but to do.
Own the truth you know, take
responsibility for what you believe.
Keep on learning.
Pastor Steve Fox
New Life Church
Finding truth in a world of deception
Participants of a “sur vival game” raise their hands high and yell “hit ” after they are shot by plastic pellets during a game at a field
in Chiba, Japan.
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