Home' Greymouth Star : July 6th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, July 6, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1483 - King Richard III crowned.
1535 - Sir Thomas More is executed in
England for treason.
1553 - King Edward VI of England dies and is
succeeded by Queen Mary I.
1699 - Captain William Kidd, the pirate, is
taken into custody at Boston, Massachusetts. He
is later hanged in England.
1885 - Louis Pasteur performs first inoculation
of a human being: a young boy bitten
by a rabid dog.
1917 - Arab forces led by T E
Lawrence capture the port of Aqaba
from the Turks in World War One.
1919 - British dirigible lands at
New York’s Roosevelt Field, marking
first crossing of Atlantic Ocean by an
1928 - The first all-talking feature film, The
Lights of New York, premieres in New York.
1942 - Diarist Anne Frank and her family take
refuge from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
1962 - US novelist and Nobel Prize winner
William Faulkner dies.
1964 - The Beatles movie A Hard Day ’s Night
premieres in L ondon.
1967 - Biafran War erupts in west Africa.
1971 - Louis Armstrong, jazz musician, dies.
1998 - Death of singing cowboy star Roy
Rogers in California, aged 86.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Flaxman, English sculptor (1755-
1826); Maximilian, archduke of Austria and
emperor of Mexico, (1832-1867); Annette
Kellerman, Australian swimmer (1886-1975);
Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist (1907-
1954); Nancy Reagan, former US
First Lady (1921-); Bill Haley,
rock’n’roll pioneer (1925-1981);
Ruth Cracknell, Australian actress
(1925-2002); Dalai Lama, exiled
Tibetan leader (1935-); George W
Bush, former US President (1946-);
Sylvester Stallone, US actor-producer
(1946-); Geoffrey Rush, Australian actor (1951-
); 50 Cent, US rapper (1975-).
“Growing old is no more than a bad habit
which a busy man has no time to form.”
— Andre Maurois, French author (1885-1967).
“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought
forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty,
some thirty.” — (Matthew 13.8).
the mayoral seat
and positions on
Borough Council close at noon on September
17. As yet the borough office has received no
nominations. Town clerk Mr G C Hayter, who
is returning officer, said this morning that it
was usual for nominations “to come in at the
last moment ”.
A recent round of inquiries directed at
present councillors regarding their availability
for re-election revealed that many are still
giving the issue considerable thought. One or
two will definitely not be standing.
The position of mayor will be wide open.
After a record four terms as the town’s head,
Mr F W Baillie has announced that he will not
Greymouth man Herb Petrie has been bitten
by the vintage car bug. In his possession is a
1918 Buick which he will restore to its former
glory. He did not find the car in a cow paddock
as has been the case of many other Coast
enthusiasts, but in a shed on a farm just out of
The machine was formerly the property
of a Mr Plaskett who converted the old car
into a truck and, after its usefulness ended,
stored it in a shed. Mr Petrie had it brought
from Christchurch on the back of a truck. He
will do the repair work at his home and then
veteran car rallies will have an addition.
Mr Robert Wall, of Kowhitirangi, bought a
144-acre dairy farm at Kowhitirangi offered at
auction on behalf of Mr LG Allan. The farm
was sold for £15,000. The sale included a three-
bedroomed house, outbuildings, cowshed,
pigsties and 63 Jersey and Jersey cross heifers
uFood for thought
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The ferocious sabre-toothed cat Smilodon
was a star in Hollywood long before
it became Tinseltown, with extensive
remains of this Ice Age predator that
prowled North and South America
preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los
“If you think about it, Smilodon fatalis
likely left their paw prints on what is
today Hollywood Boulevard long before
Marilyn Monroe left her hand prints at
the Chinese Theatre,” said paleontologist
Z. Jack Tseng of the American Museum
of Natural History in New York.
Scientists recently offered unique insight
into the big cat ’s most famous feature —
its dagger-like upper canine teeth.
Using sophisticated x-ray imaging and
an analysis of oxygen isotopes in the cat ’s
tooth enamel, they determined that its
canines grew at twice the rate of those
in today’s African lions and that the
Smilodon was at least three years old
before its canines were fully in place.
These cur ved and serrated canines,
reaching 18cm long, were quite a weapon.
Smilodon is believed to have used them to
bite the neck and sever crucial arteries and
veins to kill prey quickly, paleontologist
Robert Feranec of the New York State
Smilodon was about the size of a
modern lion or tiger but more heavily
built, with a stiffer back, powerful limbs
and a stubby tail, “basically a lion on
steroids with knives coming out of its
mouth,” Tseng said.
It went extinct about 10,000 years ago,
The study looked at Smilodon fatalis,
one of three species of this cat, using
remains from the La Brea Tar Pits, a
treasure trove of Ice Age fossils including
mammoths, mastodons, wolves, ground
sloths, bison and camels. Smilodon was
drawn to the Tar Pits to feed on large prey
trapped in the gooey asphalt seeps, and
then also got stuck.
Smilodon grew a set of baby teeth before
permanent ones grew in. Its “baby sabres”
were shed at around 1 to 11⁄2 years of
age. The adult sabres, beginning to erupt
before the baby ones were shed, finished
coming in at approximately 3 to 31⁄2 years
of age, Tseng said.
The growth rate of Smilodon’s
permanent canines, which were three
times bigger than those of a lion, was
found to be about 6mm per month.
The research was published in the
scientific journal Plos One. — Reuters
s the sun sets over Gaza,
there is not a table to be
found on the terrace of the
Roots hotel, with views
overlooking the port and
the gently crashing waves
of the Mediterranean.
Crowds have gathered for Iftar — the
nightly breaking of the Ramadan fast
— a nd the atmosphere is excited; young
men and women taking photos on their
iPhones, puffing apple-scented nargile
pipes and watching a dance troupe as they
dine on hummus, pita, chicken and sweet
It is a far cry from the death and
destruction that consumed Gaza a year
ago, when Israel launched an air and
ground assault to put an end to constant
rocket fire by Hamas militants from Gaza.
The July-August conflict left more than
2100 Palestinians, most civilians, and 73
The scene on the hotel terrace is not a
sign of how far Gaza has come since —
quite the contrary, as not a single one of
the estimated 100,000 homes damaged or
destroyed in the war has yet been rebuilt
— but of the stern resilience of many
It reflects too the striking contrasts the
territory throws up — outside Roots, a
stylish hotel that would not look out of
place in Europe, there are smart cars parked
two or three deep. A few kilometres away
in the district of Shejaiya, there are whole
neighbourhoods lying in ruins, families
sleeping rough in makeshift shelters amid
the smashed rubble of the war.
If the former is an image of what Gaza
might aspire to be, the latter is closer to
what many parts have become.
Since the end of the war, the flow
of reconstruction materials into the
territory has been greatly restricted, with
Israel insisting on tight monitoring of
all imports of cement, iron and other
materials that could be employed by
Hamas to rebuild secret tunnels that were
used to attack Israel.
So slow has the influx of goods been that
the United Nations last week said it could
take 30 years to rebuild the damage.
Last month, the International Monetary
Fund described Gaza’s economy as
being on the verge of collapse, with
unemployment nearing 45%, GDP
down 15% in 2014 and the once-strong
manufacturing sector dying.
Of the 1.8 million people who live in
Gaza — a population growing by 50,000
a year — nearly two-thirds are dependent
on aid in some form or another. It is the
UN’s longest-running relief operation, set
up in 1949.
The head of those operations, Robert
Turner, will leave his post next month after
three years in Gaza. Since the war, he has
been witheringly critical of the obstacles to
reconstruction. But ahead of his departure,
he tried to sound a positive note.
“I refuse to yield to pessimism,” he said.
“Gaza is a place where the human spirit
has shown its indomitability time and
time again. ”
To many Gazans, that is part of the
So adept have they become at getting
hours of power cuts a day, smuggling in
everything from live animals to cars via
tunnels, scraping together an existence
amid militant rule and war — that people
begin to regard the extraordinary as normal.
“O utsiders think ‘Well, if they ’re
managing to get by, maybe it ’s not so bad’, ”
one life-long Gaza resident said.
Sitting on the terrace of Roots, where
young men and women, many not wearing
Islamic headdress, were comfortably
chatting and smoking together, it is easy
to forget that Gaza has been run by the
Islamist movement Hamas since 2007.
At night, after Iftar, masked Hamas
militants, many of them bearing arms,
walked through the streets of Gaza in a
military-style parade, urging young men to
sign up to the movement.
Rather than clamping down on the
freedom on show at Roots and other
beachfront hotels, Hamas’s priority is to
retain power and deliver something to
those battling to make ends meet.
In recent weeks it appears to have made
some progress. After more than a year
of keeping its border with Gaza mostly
closed, Egypt has in recent days opened
the crossing at Rafah to allow people and
goods to move in both directions.
There is talk of Hamas offering Israel
a long-term truce, which would free up
the flow of goods and people across their
shared border. In recent weeks, up to 2000
Gazans a day have been crossing, a marked
increase from a trickle months ago.
Qatar, a major financial supporter
of Hamas, has nearly completed the
construction of a new road along the
beachfront and has other projects in the
pipeline. Yet there are threats.
Militant Salafist groups claiming ties
to ISIS have started to agitate in Gaza,
firing occasional rockets into Israel and
carrying out attacks. They have threatened
to overthrow Hamas and the rival Fatah
party. As well as a threat to Palestinian
authority, they are of deep concern to
Egypt and Israel.
While Hamas may turn a blind eye to
the small liberties taking place at Roots
and elsewhere during Ramadan, ISIS
and its sympathisers are unlikely to be
anywhere near as accommodating.
Robert Turner has no quick and easy
answer when asked to name the worst
of times in his three years running the
United Nation’s relief effort in Gaza.
“The worst day? It will be hard to rank
the worst day,” the Canadian diplomat said
as he prepares to leave Gaza, where two-
thirds of the 1.8 million people receive
some form of aid. “ There were many -
mostly during last summer’s conflict. ”
The 51-year-old’s deployment with the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
in the Hamas-run territory included two
wars — an eight-day conflict in 2013 and
the devastating seven-week war last July
and August that left tens of thousands of
But Turner, in an inter view summing
up his Gaza experiences, sounded a
rare optimistic note, saying housing
reconstruction, long delayed by Israeli
and Egyptian border restrictions and
Palestinian political infighting, could begin
“Finally, last week the minister of
public works and housing announced
that technical issues related to total
reconstruction have been resolved,” he
said. “ We are going to start putting money
in people’s pockets next week, they will
have access to materials, they can start
On the ground, some districts of Gaza
remain in ruins, particularly Shejaiya, one
of the worst-affected by Israeli shelling.
While most of the rubble has been cleared,
none of the estimated 100,000 homes
damaged or destroyed has been rebuilt.
Turner said no return to war between
Israel and Hamas appeared imminent,
with the enemies showing little interest
in renewed hostilities after last year’s
bloodshed in which more than 2100
Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.
“I don’t think parties want it and in fact I
think the parties are doing what they can
to avoid it,” Turner said.
He noted, however, in an indirect
reference to jihadist groups that have
launched rockets at Israel in recent weeks,
that “there are spoilers” who want to
“It is very important that responsible
actors do not get drowned in something
that they do not want. Two guys with a
mortar tube should not be able to decide
that there is going to be a conflict between
Gaza and Israel,” he said.
Turner assailed what he described
as the lack of effective governance in
Gaza, saying only the West Bank-based
Palestinian Authority could fill any
Donors, who have pledged $5.4 billion
towards Gaza’s reconstruction, most
of which is yet unpaid, want to see the
Authority, led by President Mahmoud
Abbas, take a role in governing Gaza and
overseeing aid. Hamas, which seized the
territory from forces loyal to Abbas in
2007, has resisted powersharing in Gaza,
despite a unity deal signed last year.
Neighbouring Egypt, whose military-
run government views Hamas as an
Islamist enemy, has destroyed a network
of smuggling tunnels and has largely kept
its Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main
gateway to the world, c losed.
Israel allows in hundreds of truckloads
of goods a day to
Gaza but imposes
materials it says
could also be
used for military
destroyed by the
said. “But I don’t
see that is getting
worse. It is already
The IMF last
the economy to
be on the brink
of collapse, with
nearing 45% and
contracted 15% last
250 schools in
Gaza and has
problems of its
own, has been
refugees in Gaza since 1949, a year after
Some 1.2 million people in the
enclave are dependent on its assistance,
and with no political solution to their
plight in sight, Turner said the agency
needs to move for ward “in a financially
UNRWA’s operational budget in Gaza
and elsewhere in the Middle East is
about $680m a year, and it is running a
deficit of $101m. The organisation has cut
international staff, frozen recruitment and
is looking for other savings.
“ We hope that we will be able bridge the
gap,” said Turner. “ If we can’t then very
difficult decisions will have to be taken
in August as to whether or not we have
enough funds to open the schools.”
Gaza’s story of survival
A partially fossilised jaw from an adult
Smilodon fatalis sabre-toothed cat is
pictured in this photo courtesy of the
American Museum of Natural History.
Sabre-tooth cat a star in Ice Age Hollywood
Gaza UN aid chief ends tenure on optimistic note
A Palestinian woman holds her daughter as she walks past the ruins of houses, that witnesses said were destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in Khan
Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operations in Gaza, Robert Turner,
speaks with displaced Palestinians, who fled from their houses, at a UN-run school in Gaza City.
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