Home' Greymouth Star : September 16th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1498 - Death of Tomas de Torquemada, first
Grand Inquisitor of Spain.
1736 - Death of Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit,
German physicist. He was the inventor of the
alcohol and mercury thermometers.
1810 - Mexico begins its revolt
against Spanish rule.
1857 - The song Jingle Bells is
copyrighted by Jane Pierpont of
1953 - The Robe, the first movie
filmed in the widescreen process
Cinema Scope, has its world
premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York.
1955 - Argentine President Juan Peron,
ousted by military coup during second term in
office, begins 18-year exile.
1963 - Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and
Singapore form Federation of Malaysia.
1974 - US President Gerald Ford announces
a conditional amnesty programme for Vietnam
war deserters and draft-evaders.
1977 - Death in Paris of Maria Callas, the
American-born soprano. She was 53.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Gay, English poet (1685-1732); Janis
Paige, US actress (1922-); Lee Kuan Yew,
ex-prime minister of Singapore (1923-);
Lauren Bacall, US actress (1924-
2014); B B King, US blues musician
(1925-2015); Peter Falk, US actor
(1927-2011); Ed Begley Jnr, US actor
(1949-); David Bellamy, US country
singer (1950-); Mickey Rourke, US
actor (1956-); David Copperfield, US
magician (1956-); Marc Anthony,
American singer (1968-); Madeline Zima, US
actress (The Nanny) (1985-); Nick Jonas, US
singer, one of The Jonas Brothers (1992-) .
“He who loves himself best need fear no
rival.” — Latin proverb.
“The Lord looks down from Heaven on
humankind to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God. — (Psalms 14:2).
John Gibbens died
in the Greymouth
Hospital this morning
from injuries he received in a car crash at Coal
Creek on Monday night. Mr Gibbens was one
of three 18-year-olds in the crash, all of whom
were injured, though the hospital reported
today that the other two, Peter Shirley and
Douglas Corrin are improving.
John Gibbens was educated at the Marist
Brothers’ High School in Greymouth. He was
employed by West Coast Motor Bodies and
played fourth grade rugby for Marist — his
last game against Westport on Sunday. John
was the eldest son of Mrs Esther and Mr
Bill Gibbens of Preston Road, Greymouth,
and loved brother of Eileen, Diane, Jennifer,
Patricia, Colleen, Maurice, Stephen, Esther
From driving a truck for Greenhills to
managing a bulldozer on a new Thailand
airstrip under temperatures of up to 49degC
has been the recent experience of lance
corporal Joe Campbell, of Blaketown. Back
at home for a six-week stay, lance corporal
Campbell, a member of the Royal New
Zealand Engineers, will be travelling overseas
early next year to assist in building a 240km
road, 321km north-east of Bangkok.
The former Coaster loves the life and the
work done under the Seato programme. He
described the people of Thailand, who are
predominantly Buddhist, as very friendly and
poor by our standards, though they appear
contented. Each village has a temple for
worship and the Coaster inspected several,
describing them as “very ornamental and
uFood for thought
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Paul Carrel and Noah Barkin
urope’s refugee crisis is
revealing the changing soul
Back in 2010, Chancellor
Angela Merkel declared
in Germany had been an abject failure;
today the nation is opening its arms to
hundreds of thousands of refugees, many
of them Muslims from Syria, Iraq and
The same year, politician Thilo Sarrazin
published his book Deutschland schafft
sich ab (Germany does away with itself ),
warning that Muslim immigrants were
ruining German society. It shot to the top
of the best-seller lists.
And yet in the past week crowds of
Germans have greeted migrants arriving
in the country with cheers, while
volunteers are turning out in droves to
“This is the moment where Germany
has recognised it has a global role,” says
Harold James, an economic historian
at Princeton University. “ The country is
changing very, very quickly.”
The government expects 800,000 people
to seek asylum in Germany this year,
nearly twice as many as in any other year
since reunification 25 years ago.
Merkel, known for her caution, has
taken the high-risk step of opening
Germany ’s doors wide, and implored her
European Union partners to follow the
Encouraged by her, tens of thousands
have arrived in the last week alone, many
making the arduous and dangerous
journey from the Middle East through
Turkey, across the Aegean to Greece
and then by land through the Balkans,
Hungary and Austria.
She took the lead, her advisers say, to
avoid an imminent humanitarian disaster,
and German society seems ready to back
her for the moment.
A poll earlier this month showed 33% of
respondents wanted fewer refugees. But
collectively they were well outnumbered
by the 37% in favour of Germany
continuing to take a similar number in
the future and the 22% who believed their
country should accept more.
For some, it is hard to reconcile Merkel’s
generous approach to the refugees with
her hard line on bailing out Greece, where
she has sometimes seemed to bow to
public opinion and put German interests
above all else.
Others view her refugee stance as a
reversal, as perplexing as her decision in
2011 to phase out nuclear power after
the Fukushima disaster, having previously
backed atomic energy.
“A handful of years ago she declared
the death of multi-culturalism. This looks
to me to be in contradiction to that, an
about-face,” said Rita Chin, a historian
and expert on German immigration at the
University of Michigan.
If Germany were not in such a strong
economic position, Merkel would
probably have thought twice about
welcoming the refugees so openly.
Public opinion might also have been less
supportive were Germany experiencing
the kind of problems that southern euro
zone nations are suffering.
German unemployment is running
at 6.4%, the lowest since reunification
in 1990, and strong economic growth
allowed the government to make a record
$24 billion budget surplus in the first half
of the year.
“Generosity is a matter of prosperity,
which France, Italy or Spain don’t have,”
said Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of
German weekly Die Zeit.
If the refugees can be successfully
integrated, German society may also
solve its problem of an ageing population
and rock-bottom birth rate: a young and
energetic population of new citizens could
help to keep the economy on track.
Germany ’s welcoming approach
has boosted its international image.
Painstakingly rebuilt since World War
Two, this has been tarnished recently by
the showdown over Greece, massive anti-
Islam rallies in the former communist east
at the start of the year and, more recently,
violent anti-refugee protests there.
Some experts believe the country’s
own experience with refugees after the
war, when over 12 million Germans
were expelled from what is now eastern
Europe, may influence the public mood
more profoundly than any guilt tied to the
Like the Syrians pouring into Germany
now, many of those expellees resettled
with next to no possessions, an experience
that shapes attitudes now.
“It certainly has something to do with
the past — family memories and the like,
bombed-out grandparents and stories
around the dinner table,” said Fritz Stern,
emeritus professor of history at Columbia
The post-war refugee experience and
a desire to atone for Nazi crimes helped
to shape West Germany ’s Basic Law, or
constitution, written when the country
was divided. This guarantees victims of
political persecution the right of asylum.
But in practice, integrating newcomers
has not always been smooth.
In the decades after the war, West
Germany encouraged immigration as
a way of tackling labour shortages, but
described those who came from countries
such as Turkey, Italy and Greece as
“Gastarbeiter”, or guest workers, as if to
reassure the population that they would
return home once the work was done.
The generous asylum laws encountered
their first real challenge in the 1990s
when hundreds of thousands fled north to
escape war as Yugoslavia disintegrated.
Back then, the German economy
was struggling with the after-effects of
reunification. In the east, refugees became
targets of the far-right.
In response, German politicians pushed
for a tightening of asylum guidelines.
This led to the European Union writing
the “D ublin” rules, which oblige migrants
to seek asylum in the first member state
they enter. The assumption was that this
would shield Germany, a country where
citizenship had long been viewed through
the prism of bloodline and culture.
That myth has been shattered over the
past weeks. Refugees have refused to stay
in often squalid, chaotic conditions in
EU states such as Greece or Hungary,
determined get to Germany or Sweden
where the welcome would be warmer.
This forced Merkel, as Europe’s
most powerful leader, to act before a
humanitarian disaster unfolded on the
“This is a major challenge, but what
was the alternative?” said a Merkel aide,
declining to be named. “Do you wait until
people are dying, until you have horrible
scenes on the highways in Hungary
before you act? Do you close the border
between Austria and Germany? There was
no other option.”
Now, Merkel must manage integration
domestically, and persuade other EU
countries to share the burden despite
resistance and resentment, bordering on
fury in some capitals, at her stance.
“It ’s acting as a huge magnet and
affecting everybody else,” historian
Brendan Simms said of Germany.
Merkel has urged Germans to show
flexibility, patience and openness. There is
reason to hope they will as the country’s
Germany won the 1990 soccer
World Cup with an all-white team.
The squad that won in 2014 included
Jerome Boateng, son of a Ghanaian
immigrant, Sami Khedira, whose father is
Tunisian, and Mesut Ozil, grandson of a
“I think Germans, once taught to be
the ‘master race’, are moving toward the
American model — citizenship by an
act of will,” said Joffe. “In my lifetime,
they have become a lot more accepting of
different colour, religion and ethnicity.”
Some worry that this openness, built on
a generation that grew up after the fall of
the Berlin Wall, is fragile.
If the economy dips, if the country
struggles to integrate the new arrivals,
or if Germans conclude Merkel’s
government can not manage the influx,
then the progress could evaporate.
“The truth is that it wouldn’t take much
to shift the discourse,” says Chin of the
University of Michigan.
On the margins, it may already be
Hans-Peter Friedrich, a former interior
minister and member of the Christian
Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister
party to Merkel’s conser vatives, said last
week that Germany had already lost
control of the refugee tide. One of his
colleagues, Markus Soeder, has called for
changes to the constitution so that asylum
rules to be tightened.
A survey last week by the Emnid polling
group for private broadcaster N24 showed
two in three Germans believe Berlin is
doing a “rather bad” or “very bad” job of
handling the crisis.
People close to Merkel say the
government ’s ability to house the refugees
as winter sets in, to get them learning
German and contributing to the economy,
will be crucial.
“ We could look back at this as a historic
shift for Germany, but that depends on it
succeeding,” the aide said. “ We know the
mood can turn very fast.”
Germany’s changing soul
Migrants wait near a sign reading “No Exit ” after being taken off a train at a border station in Freilassing, Germany.
Ariana Eunjung Cha
There was a time when getting your daily
dose of caffeine meant a simple cup of
coffee or tea.
Poured into a ceramic mug, the steaming
liquid tended to be enough to give most
people that extra burst of energy to get out
the door. Back then, you would have to
drink a heck of a lot — 81 cups of brewed
coffee or 317 cups of black tea, for the
average male — to reach a lethal dose. So
while you might have got the occasional
shakiness, nausea and fast heartbeat
associated with ingesting too much caffeine,
you were highly unlikely to die from it.
But somewhere along the way, caffeine
became an obsession, a need for many
Americans, and an entire industry sprang
up to try to make caffeine-ingesting more
Today, caffeine comes in all shapes and
formulations — Red Bull and Monster
energy drinks, Stay Awake pills, Jolt gum.
The most potent form, the pure powdered
kind that is meant for people to mix
into their food, is sold in bulk in bags or
canisters that can cost as little as $10 a
A single teaspoon can be packed with as
much caffeine as 28 cups of regular coffee.
The new products have led to an alarming
public health development: a rash of
thousands of overdoses and reports of
addiction and withdrawal.
While rare, there are even deaths:
Shortly after she drank two caffeinated
energy drinks in 24 hours, a 14-year-old
with a heart condition died after going
into cardiac arrest. Another fatality was a
19-year-old Connecticut resident who took
a dozen caffeine pills. And a healthy Ohio
teen who was a high school wrestler died
after consuming powdered caffeine.
The Food and Drug Administration
has mounted an aggressive effort to warn
consumers about the risks of caffeine
products and to take manufacturers to task
for the way they are marketed.
In 2012, the agency began investigating
the deaths of 13 people preliminarily
linked to the dietary supplement
five-hour Energy, whose ingredients
include caffeine. In 2013, FDA talks with
Wrigley prompted the company to stop
making its caffeinated gum. Last week,
the agency warned five distributors of pure
powdered caffeine that they are selling
products that are “dangerous” and “present a
significant or unreasonable risk of illness or
injury to consumers.”
“The difference between a safe amount
and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure
powdered products is very small,” the
FDA said. “Furthermore, safe quantities of
these products can be nearly impossible to
measure accurately with common kitchen
A bitter white alkaloid, caffeine is found
naturally in the beans, leaves and fruit of
more than 60 plants, and it is by far the
most widely consumed psychoactive agent
consumed worldwide. In the United States,
85% of people are estimated to consume
caffeine at least once a day. This number
includes children, who mostly get their
caffeine in soda. Even preschoolers are
ingesting it, studies show, and the likely
culprit is chocolate milk. (On average, an
8oz cup of regular brewed coffee has about
95mg of caffeine; black tea has 47, a cola,
25 and chocolate milk up to 16mg.)
When it is taken in moderation — usually
defined conservatively as the amount in
one to two cups of coffee a day — most
researchers have concluded that caffeine
presents little to no risk to people’s
health. In fact, some studies have found that
the stimulant may have some protective
effects from diseases like Parkinson’s and
But in recent years, hospitals have
reported an uptick in cases of caffeine
overdose, and from January 1 to July 31 this
year, poison centres across America logged
1675 reports involving energy drinks.
Nearly two-thirds were in people 18 and
The issue is so much on everyone’s
mind that in 2013, when the new bible of
American psychiatry — the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or
DSM-5 for short — was released, “caffeine
withdrawal” was added as a bona fide
mental health disorder.
Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry
and neuro-science at Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine, runs a
caffeine withdrawal treatment clinic in
Baltimore, using techniques similar to those
for drugs, to wean caffeine dependants off
the stimulant. — New Zealand Herald
America’s caffeine addiction
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