Home' Greymouth Star : July 18th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, July 18, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
64 - Great fire of Rome begins.
1536 - Pope’s authority declared void in
1872 - Britain introduces voting by secret
1923 - British Matrimonial Causes Act gives
women equality in divorce suits.
1947 - US President Harry S
Truman signs the Presidential
Succession Act putting the speaker
of the House and Senate pro tem in
line after the vice president.
1969 - Car driven by US Senator
Edward M Kennedy plunges off
bridge in Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts, and
passenger Mary Jo Kopechne drowns.
1994 - Terrorists bomb a Jewish community
centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 95.
2007 - An underground steam pipe explosion
tears through a Manhattan street near Grand
Central Terminal, swallowing a tow truck and
killing one person as hundreds of others ran
for cover amid a towering geyser of steam and
2014 - World leaders demand that pro-
Russian rebels give independent investigators
unfettered access to the eastern Ukraine crash
site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was
shot down with 290 people aboard.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
William Makepeace Thackeray, English
novelist (1811-1863); Hume
Cronyn, Canadian actor (1911-
2003); Nelson Mandela, South
African president (1918- 2013);
John Glenn, US astronaut (1921—);
Ricky Skaggs, US country singer
(1954—); Vin Diesel, actor (1967—
); Kristen Bell, US actress (1980—).
“ Miracles are propitious accidents, the natural
causes of which are too complicated to be
readily understood.” — George Santayana,
American philosopher (1863-1952).
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have
forgiven our debtors. ” — (Matthew 6:12).
a hazardous time
Cobden hill and bridge approach. Thick ice on
the road caused anxious moments and a few
A Mini Minor travelling in the direction
of Runanga skidded on the icy surface and
crashed into a bank. Damage was confined to
the front fender and grille. A girl travelling on
a scooter came into collision with a van and
suffered minor injuries.
One motorist who uses the road daily said
“dozens of motorists” had near misses while
negotiating the hill and bridge approach
yesterday morning. “ Until you get on the road
it looks quite innocent, just like a wet surface,”
Some form of memorial should be erected to
the four policemen and two Home Guardsmen
— “they were brave men” — who lost their
lives in the Graham tragedy, said the chairman
of the Westland County Council Mr Mark
Wallace, at this week’s meeting. Mr Wallace
was speaking to a Historic Places Trust request
for a list of historic features in the area.
He said there was local sentiment which
would not be happy, but it would not be a
monument to Stanley Graham, and would one
day be of historical significance. Mr Wallace
also suggested the site of the Jackson Bay or
Arawhata settlement could be marked.
“An effort was made to establish a settlement
there about 90 years ago. Some of the settlers
died and are buried there. They had to put
up with a lot of hardship. It is worthy of
commemoration,” said Mr Wallace.
uFood for thought
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he judge settled his gaze on
the homeless man accused
of sleeping beside an office
building in downtown
It was a Saturday
afternoon in April at DC Superior
Court, and Alfred Postell, a diagnosed
schizophrenic, stood before Judge
Thomas Motley. Postell’s medium-length
hair and tangled beard were greying. His
belly spilled over his pants.
“ You have the right to remain silent,” a
deputy clerk told Postell. “Anything you
say, other than to your attorney, can be
used against you.”
“I’m a lawyer,” Postell replied.
Motley ignored the seemingly
bizarre assertion, mulling over whether
Postell, charged with unlawful entry,
posed a flight risk. “I have to return,”
Postell protested, offering a convoluted
explanation: “I passed the Bar at Catholic
University, was admitted to Constitution
Hall. I swore the Oath of Office as an
attorney at Constitution Hall in 1979;
graduated from Harvard Law School in
That got Motley ’s attention. “Mr Postell,
so did I. I remember you.”
This homeless man — who totes his
belongings in white plastic bags, haunts
a downtown intersection and sometimes
sleeps at a church — studied law
alongside US Chief Justice John Roberts
and former Wisconsin Senator Russ
Feingold. All of them graduated from
Harvard in 1979.
In a city with thousands of homeless
people, Postell may be its most
academically distinguished. He holds
three degrees: one in accounting, one in
economics, and one in law. On a summer
evening, he sits inside a McDonald’s, a
white towel wrapped around his head
like a turban. Listening to him talk
about his life is like dive-bombing into a
dream. Everything at first sounds normal.
But things quickly fall into disorder.
The chronology hiccups. Incongruous
thoughts collide. “Charleston. I owned
property there, in the city proper. The
cotton fields were past the city limits.
The cotton fields: They were past the city
limits. I picked cotton once in my life.
But the cotton fields were past the city
limits. I lived within the city. We had
property there. We inherited the property.
Shortly thereafter, I drove to San Diego,
California. I was in love with a girl.”
But these pronouncements always arc
back to a single idea. It anchors Postell in
the turbulent waters of his schizophrenia.
Postell, he tells himself and others, is an
educated man. He worked hard. He did
right. Born in 1948, he was the only child
of a seamstress and a man who installed
and fixed awnings. He grew up knowing
what it meant to live without. He was a
normal boy, says his mother, Ruth Priest,
but always focused and motivated. He
wanted more than what his parents had.
So after graduating from Coolidge High
School here, he juggled a day job while
working his way through an associate’s
degree at Strayer College. He passed the
CPA exam and took a job as the audit
manager at an accounting firm, Lucas
and Tucker, where he said he pulled in
an annual salary of more than $50,000
— big money back then. But Postell was
not done. He went to the University of
Maryland for a degree in economics.
Then, even before he had graduated,
he applied to Harvard Law — and was
The 1979 Har vard Law School
yearbook shows Postell at 31 with a
neatly trimmed moustache and receding
hairline. He bears the look of a man
who has already had success in life. And
expects much more. Classmate Mar vin
Bagwell remembers him arriving to
class in a coat and bow tie. “ There was
a very quiet dignity about him,” says
Bagwell, vice-president at an insurance
company. “He was brilliant and could
ask introspective questions that got to
the core of the matter.” Echoes of that
sentiment emerged in interviews with five
classmates. “He worked extremely hard
and was extremely disciplined,”
says classmate Piper Kent-Marshall,
a long time senior counsel with Wells
Fargo. And he was immaculately
dressed and groomed. “ I wouldn’t have
been surprised if someone told me he
manicured his nails,” another classmate
That is why the Har vard grads were
so surprised to learn what had become
of Postell. How could this man end up
eking out an all-but invisible existence on
the fringes of the capital?
If there are clues to what precipitated
Postell’s descent into schizophrenia, they
are buried in the years after he graduated
and returned to the District of Columbia.
He took a job at a respected law firm.
But it let him go a few years later. Three
lawyers who remembered him could not
or would not say why.
Schizophrenia creeps. Some people,
especially those as accomplished as
Postell, can hide their symptoms for
months. As the victim withdraws from
social and work life, plunging into
isolation, relatives, friends and co-workers
may not notice anything amiss. Then
there’s a snap. Psychologists refer to this
moment as a “psychotic break” or a “first
break”. It’s when a victim’s slackening
grip on reality ruptures, cleaving their
lives into before and after. “ This kind of
rapid decline is sadly not uncommon,”
says Richard Bebout, director of Green
Door, a mental-illness centre that works
with the homeless.
“He had all of these fancy things,” says
one relative, LaTonya Sellers Postell. “He
was living the rich life. Then he just all
of a sudden, he bugged out ... He lost
all of his material things. It’s been crazy.
Absolutely crazy.” Even his mother, now
85, can nott explain what happened. A
darkness one day fell over her son, Ruth
Priest says. He kept talking about getting
arrested. He thought the police were after
him. Then he had a bad breakup with
a woman he loved. Shortly afterward,
Postell had his psychotic break.
When Postell’s mother did not think
she could care for him any more, she
turned to a local pastor, Marie Carter,
who took him into her home in the mid-
1980s. Her daughter, now 60, thought
Postell would be there for a few weeks or
months. Instead he stayed decades, losing
whole days to the television or lounging
in a nearby park, watching people pass.
He picked up a theft charge in 1989.
He also got hit with some misdemeanour
charges in the 1990s. But beyond that, he
has been a ghost. He drifted. He began
haunting the same storefronts every day.
“ You get into a firm, it ’s prestigious,”
Postell says. “And when you lose that
position, it’s like suicide. It’s all over. It’s
atrophy. Or as accountants say, it’s to be
obsolete. You know what that means?
Obsolescence. Beyond your useful life. I
was beyond my useful life.”
There is hope for Postell. The mental
health team at Green Door has begun
working with him, as has Pathways to
Housing, another organisation that helps
the homeless. His mother has tried to
scrape together some money to get him
off the street. But none of that seems to
interest Postell as he sits alone on the
street. Newspapers are scattered about his
feet. He picks up one. “ The newspaper
used the term ‘troglodyte’. Troglodyte:
Postell then loses himself in memories.
“ I lived in an apartment building in
Presidential Towers. I could be considered
a cave dweller. I had a balcony. A balcony
on the top floor. An apartment on the top
floor of the Presidential Towers. I could
be considered a cave dweller.”
— New Zealand Herald
Spiral into homelessness
The thing to bear in
mind about Tuesday ’s
deal between Iran and
the P Five plus One
countries (the United
States, Britain, France,
Germany, Russia and
China) is that without
it Iran could get nuclear
weapons in a year or so
whenever it wants. It has
the technologies for enriching uranium,
it could make the actual bombs any time
it likes (every major country knows how),
and the sanctions against Iran could not
get much worse than they are now.
If you do not like the current deal, and
you really believe that Iran is hell-bent on
getting nuclear weapons, then your only
remaining option is massive air strikes
on Iran. Not even the Republican Party
stalwarts in the United States Congress
are up for committing the US Air Force
to that folly, and Israel without American
support simply could not do it on its own.
Then what is left? Nothing but the deal.
It does not guarantee that Iran can never
get nuclear weapons. It does guarantee
that Iran could not break the agreement
without giving everybody else at least two
years to respond before the weapons are
operational. Sanctions would snap back
into place automatically, and anybody who
thinks air strikes are a cool idea would
have plenty of time to carry them out.
So the deal will sur vive. Israel’s Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can
fulminate about how it is a “a historic
mistake” that will give Teheran “a sure
path to nuclear weapons,” but he cannot
Netanyahu is obsessive about Iran, but
even his own intelligence ser vices do not
believe that Teheran has actually been
working on nuclear weapons in the past
decade. The Israeli prime minister has
burned all his bridges with US President
Barack Obama, and his allies in the US
Congress cannot stop the deal either.
John Boehner, the speaker of the House
of Representatives, said that the deal will
“ hand a dangerous regime billions of
dollars in sanctions relief while paving
the way for a nuclear Iran,” and he can
probably muster a majority in Congress
against it. (Congress, as Washington
insiders put it, is “Israeli-occupied
territory”). But he cannot muster the two-
thirds majority that would be needed to
override Obama’s inevitable veto.
There will be a 60-day delay while
Congress debates the issue, but this deal
will go through in the end. So far, so good
— but this is not happening in a vacuum.
What are the broader implications for
Middle Eastern politics?
Ever since the victory of the Islamic
revolution 36 years ago, Iran and the
US have been bitter enemies. They have
not suddenly become allies, but they are
already on good speaking terms. Since
almost all of America’s allies in the Arab
world see Iran as a huge strategic threat,
they are appalled by the prospect of a US-
That is not a done deal yet. While
Iran strongly supports Bashar al Assad’s
beleaguered regime in Syria, Washington
still advocates Assad’s overthrow and
arms some of the “moderate” rebels. It
even supports Saudi Arabia’s bombing
campaign against the Houthi rebels who
now control most of Yemen, and publicly
accepts the Saudi claim that the Houthis
are mere pawns who are being armed and
incited to revolt by Iran.
But nobody in the White House, the
State Department or the Pentagon really
believes that the civil war in Yemen is an
Iranian plot. Very few believe any longer
that Assad can be overthrown in Syria
without handing the country over to
the Islamist fanatics who dominate the
insurgency there. The most powerful force
among those fanatics is Islamic State,
whose troops are already being bombed by
the US in both Syria and Iraq.
The highest US priority in the Middle
East now is to prevent Iraq and Syria from
falling into the hands of Islamic State
and its equally extreme rival, the Nusra
Front. Iran is giving both the Syrian and
the Iraqi governments military support
that is essential to their sur vival, so there
is obviously the potential for closer US-
Iranian co-operation here.
By contrast Saudi Arabia and Turkey,
currently America’s two most important
allies in the region, are pouring money
and weapons into the Nusra Front in
Syria, which is why it has been winning so
many battles against the Assad regime in
recent months. The prospect of an Islamist
regime in power in Damascus is acceptable
to Riyadh and Ankara, but it is deeply
unwelcome in Washington.
So yes, a grand realignment of
American alliances in the Middle East is
theoretically possible now that the long
cold war between the US and Iran is over.
In practice, however, it is most unlikely to
happen. The long-standing military and
economic ties between Washington and
its current allies will triumph over cold
strategic logic, and American policy in the
Middle East will continue to be the usual
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
After the Iran nuclear deal
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
PICTURE: Getty Images
United States Secretar y of State John Kerry, seated, shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Recent discoveries in the Human
Genome have found some interesting
things that gave rise to mitochondrial Eve.
Its main point was that “all mitochondrial
DNAs stem from one woman” and that
she probably lived around 200,000 years
ago in Africa.
Many suggest that Eve must have
had some vast superiority because her
offspring are thought to have conquered
the whole world without any evidence of
Another source says Ultimately, every
person alive today has inherited their
mitochondrial DNA from one single
great-great-great-. . . grandmother,
nearly 200,000 years ago. http://www.
html, nearly 200,000 years ago.
Well the Bible says Adam made love to
his wife Eve, and she became pregnant
and gave birth to Cain. She said, “ With
the help of the Lord I have brought forth
a man.” Gen 4:1 NIV
I recently obser ved Pluto and Venus
in the night sky. What is amazing is the
precision with which the planets move
according to a planned path, And God
made two great lights; the greater light
to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule
the night: he made the stars also. (Gen
How could a big bang result in such
Greymouth Seventh Day
The Big Bang Theory (Yeah, right) chapter 3
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