Home' Greymouth Star : September 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, September 30, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1791 - Mozart ’s opera Die Zauberfloete (The
Magic Flute) premieres in Vienna, Austria.
1846 - American dentist William Morton
uses ether as an anaesthetic for the first time on
a patient in his Boston office.
1888 - “ Jack the Ripper” butchers two more
women, Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes, in
1929 - The first rocket powered aircraft,
the Opel-Hatry Rak-1 glider, is tested by its
inventor, Fritz von Opel.
1939 - Britain sends a 150,000-man force to
France after the start of World War Two.
1955 - Actor James Dean is killed
in a two-car collision near Cholame,
1966 - German war criminals
Albert Speer and Baldur von
Schirach are freed at midnight from
Spandau prison after ser ving 20
1968 - The Flintstones premieres on
1980 - Israel takes a step back to Biblical
times with the introduction of the shekel as its
currency, replacing the pound.
1982 - Cheers premieres on American
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Hans Wilhelm Geiger, German physicist
(1882-1947); Park Chung-hee, South Korean
president (1917-1979); Deborah Kerr,
Scottish-born actress (1921-2007); Truman
Capote, US author (1924-1984); Angie
Dickinson, US actress (1931-); Cissy Houston,
US singer (1933-); Marc Bolan, of T-Rex pop
group (1947-1977); Ehud Olmert, former
Israeli Prime Minister (1945-); Barry Marshall,
Australian scientist and Nobel
laureate (1951-); Fran Drescher, US
actress (1957-); Monica Bellucci,
Italian actress (1964-); Marion
Cotillard, French actress (1975-);
Martina Hingis, Swiss tennis player
(1980-); Cecelia Ahern, Irish author
(1981-); Kieran Culkin, US actor
(1982-); T-Pain, US rapper (1985-);
Adam Cooney, Australian footballer (1985-);
Martin Guptil, New Zealand cricketer (1986-).
“After three days without reading, talk
becomes flavourless.” — Chinese proverb.
“ Judas, who betrayed Him, said, ‘Surely not I,
Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so’. ”
— Matthew 26:25
Mr W B Hutton,
a man known to
thousands of former
School pupils in New Zealand and abroard,
died in Greymouth this morning. He was 69.
The teaching career of Mr Hutton at the high
school spanned the history of the school from
its establishment in 1923 as the Greymouth
Technical High School, to a few months ago.
Educated at Timaru Boys’ High School,
Mr Hutton, fondly known as Snowy, came to
Greymouth in 1923 to become a master at the
Greymouth Technical High School where he
taught for 42 years. In the classroom he will
be remembered by thousands of students as a
teacher of outstanding ability and captivating
He is sur vived by his wife Violet Graham,
three sons, Peter (Wellington), Graham
(Greymouth), Donald (Christchurch); one
daughter Jocelyn (Christchurch); and six
A 45-year-old railcar driver, Mr Stanley
George Crowe, was injured in an accident in
the Greymouth railway yards late yesterday
afternoon. Mr Crowe, of 138 Shakespeare
Street, suffered a back injury and fractured ribs
in the mishap though the Greymouth Hospital
reported this afternoon that his condition is
It is believed Mr Crowe was hurt when he hit
a railway points system.
A self-employed bushman, Marshall
Edward Woolhouse, 35, was admitted to the
Greymouth Hospital yesterday afternoon
following injuries he received in a bush
accident. The hospital this morning said
that Mr Woolhouse’s condition was now
satisfactory after the injury he received when a
tree struck him on his right shoulder.
uFood for thought
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Haj row deepens rift
Deaths worsen old animosities
or regional adversaries at
loggerheads over the crises
in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the
disaster at the haj is unlikely
to be a game changer in the
contest between Iran and
Saudi Arabia, merely adding
venom to their mutual acrimony.
But a deepening of already profound
mistrust between the conser vative Sunni
kingdom and the revolutionary Shi’ite
theocracy will make the task of stabilising
the Middle East ’s many trouble spots even
harder to achieve than it already is.
While the Gulf rivals have managed to
put aside bad blood after past flare-ups,
such moments of detente happened in
a much more stable Middle East, years
before turmoil in Iraq and Arab Spring
uprisings unleashed sectarian hatreds
across the region.
Today, Iranian and Saudi participation
would be crucial in stabilising Iraq, Syria,
Yemen or Lebanon, where the two sides
back sectarian proxy forces that are either
at daggers drawn or openly at war in
conflicts killing thousands each month.
Riyadh also accuses Tehran of fomenting
trouble in Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia
itself. Tehran accuses Riyadh of plotting its
destruction with Washington.
The animosity worsened in the wake of
the deadliest disaster to befall the annual
haj pilgrimage in 25 years.
Iran says it lost at least 169 pilgrims
when two large groups of pilgrims
converged at a crossroads in Mina, a few
kilometres east of Mecca, on their way to
perform the “stoning of the devil” ritual at
Jamarat last week.
Iran demanded an apology.
Demonstrators protested in Tehran,
chanting “Death to the Saudi dynasty”.
Saudis commentators insinuated that
Iranian pilgrims themselves were at fault.
Invective poured on to social media.
“It’s a lie that Satan’s representative,
Khamenei, mourns the Mina incident
victims,” Saudi prince Khaled Al Saud
tweeted, referring to Iran’s Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“His dirty hands are stained with the
blood of the children of Syria and the
Sunnis of Iraq,” the prince told his nearly
quarter of a million followers.
A cartoon published by Iran’s Tasnim
news agency showed King Salman
of Saudi Arabia as a camel trampling
Even before the haj tragedy, prominent
figures in both countries exchanged critical
tirades. In May, Khamenei denounced
Saudi Arabia for its military campaign in
Yemen by comparing the kingdom to the
pagans who ruled the Arabian Peninsula
before the advent of Islam in the seventh
At the United Nations, Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani on Sunday lamented that
Riyadh had rebuffed his repeated attempts
at reconciliation since his election in 2013.
“ We are disappointed about the cold
relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia,”
he said. “ The rift between Tehran and
Riyadh is not in the interest of either
“Also when Saudis started killing people
in Yemen, Riyadh drifted even further
away from Iran and many other Islamic
countries,” Rouhani told an audience of
United States think-tanks and journalists
on the sidelines of the UN General
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, a
longtime adviser to the kingdom’s rulers,
wearily accused Tehran of playing politics.
“ We will reveal the facts when they
emerge, and we will not hold anything
back,” he said.
Iranians are sceptical about that. But
analysts across the region agree the depth
of the crisis may be determined largely by
the results of the Saudi probe and how
much is published.
Former Iranian lawmaker Elias Hazrati
said by phone from Tehran that Iran was
not playing politics over the haj.
“ Tehran is simply asking Riyadh to take
responsibility,” he said. “If this incident
happened only once we could call it an
accident, but this is happening every few
years. The Saudis’ mismanagement is the
problem of all the Islamic world, not
Saudi commentators point the finger at
Jamal Khashoggi, head of a Saudi
news channel owned by a prince, said
investigators were looking at the actions
of a large number of Iranian pilgrims who
“ happened to be in the wrong place in the
“ I think Saudi Arabia will speak very
loudly on the issue when the result of the
investigations come out. No statement
has been made officially, but now it
seems that the Iranians will be blamed
because they took their hajis in the wrong
direction at the wrong time. That was very
irresponsible,” he said.
The rivals have overcome previous crises
in their relations.
A late 1990s rapprochement followed a
1996 truck-bombing in the kingdom that
killed 19 US ser vice personnel and clashes
at the 1987 haj between Iranian protesters
and Saudi police that led to the death of
400 people, mainly Iranians.
Saudi Arabia and the United States
accused Iran of orchestrating the 1996
attack. Iran denied any role.
But the rapprochement happened at a
time of relative Gulf stability, above all
when Iraq was ruled by a Sunni, Saddam
Hussein, seen by Gulf Arab states as a
buffer against Iran. Now a worsening
of Iran-Saudi rivalry could have broad
Not only are the two competitors
openly tussling for influence in Arab
countries, but Saudi Arabia is worried
that Washington has realigned with
Tehran at Arab expense by backing a
deal settling Iran’s long-standing nuclear
Alive to what he sees as a US-Iran
detente, Saudi Arabia’s new monarch,
King Salman, is pushing for Sunni
Muslim Middle East countries to set aside
differences over political Islam and focus
on what it sees as the more urgent threat
The diplomatic heft that Riyadh
employs in such efforts is rooted in its
prestigious role as custodian of Islam’s
Iranian commentator Hazrati said
Riyadh appeared to believe that if it
accepted blame for the disaster it would be
seen as weakness and lead to calls for the
kingdom to give up its custodianship to an
Saudi Arabia’s critics in the past urged
Riyadh to transfer management of the haj
and holy places to the Organisation of
Islamic Co-operation, the world’s largest
OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen
Madani, a Saudi cleric and former haj
minister, issued a statement after the
disaster expressing confidence in Saudi
Arabia’s hosting of the event.
In a statement, he expressed the
hope that “no party would seek to take
advantage of the pilgrimage and pilgrims
in a controversial context that would
divide rather than unite”. — Reuters
PICTURE: Getty Images
A sea of Muslim pilgrims wait to stone a pillar representing the devil in the valley of Mina, east of the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Catalonia’s breakaway blues
The Catalan and Scottish independence
movements, the two strongest in Europe,
are entering a new phase, with lessons to
be learned from each other’s experiences
Separatists won a clear majority of
seats in Catalonia’s parliament in a
regional election on Sunday, deepening
its confrontation with the Madrid
Despite the passions and raised hopes,
both the Scots and the Catalans face a
tricky road ahead, with stubborn central
governments as well as business, banks and
European Union officials arrayed against
Neither side enjoys over whelming
support from their own population. But
they will at the very least remain a thorn
in the side of politics in Britain and Spain
for some years.
“Anyone watching events in Catalonia
right now will be experiencing a strong
sense of constitutional deja vu,” Scottish
commentator David Torrance wrote in
Sunday ’s Glasgow Herald.
“A coalition of independence supporters
promising secession on an 18-month time
scale, scaremongering about the EU and
pensions, talk of federalism as a possible
compromise. It’s tempting to say been
there, done that.”
Catalan regional president Artur
Mas, addressing jubilant supporters in
Barcelona after Sunday ’s vote, said a
democratic mandate now existed to move
for ward with independence.
But Spain’s constitution does not allow a
region to break away and Prime Minister
Mariano Rajoy strongly opposes any
attempt to hold a referendum on secession.
The Scots’ independence drive, led by
the Scottish National Party, (SNP) lost a
referendum in September a year ago.
But the SNP then won a sweeping
victory in a British election in May, taking
all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats in
parliament, and says a second referendum
must be held at some point in the future.
Many Catalans saw Scotland’s
referendum as exemplary because Prime
Minister David Cameron respected the
Scots’ right to have their say. Rajoy ’s
strategy has largely been dismissive of
Catalan nationalist arguments, describing
them as “nonsense”.
Michael Keating, professor of European
politics at the University of Aberdeen, said
the Catalan experience would have only a
small impact on Scotland, but Scotland’s
would weigh on the Catalans.
“The ‘yes’ side in Catalonia will now say
that we’ve got a mandate to go down the
Scottish road, because like the Scottish
nationalists we’ve got a majority,” he said.
Before the Catalan vote, the
independence camp said a good result
would allow it to unilaterally declare
independence within 18 months.
However, the more practical way for ward
is a period of negotiations with the
government that emerges from upcoming
national elections in Spain, possibly
resulting in a more favourable tax regime
and a federal-style relationship.
As far as Scotland goes, the timing of
another referendum is crucial as the SNP
needs to make sure it wins this time,
other wise the issue will be dead and
buried for a generation.
Its position should be spelled out in its
manifesto for Scottish local elections in
Cameron says Scotland has had its
referendum and Westminster is unlikely
to permit another. SNP leader Nicola
Sturgeon says it is for Scotland to decide
on whether to have another vote and says
certain triggers could bring one on.
Chief among these is if Westminster
fails to deliver on promises of greater
devolution for Scotland. Also important is
the result of a promised vote on whether
Britain should stay in the European
Union, with Scotland wanting to stay in.
EU officials have been cool to both
In the run-up to the Catalan election,
the separatists experienced the same kind
of offensive that the Scots weathered
before their referendum. Banks threatened
to pull out of the region. They were told
independence would mean Catalonia
would be out of the euro zone and out of
the European Union.
Both movements have kept a close eye
on each other but have been wary of
trumpeting a common cause, largely out
of concern not to antagonise the respective
Before the Catalan vote, however, the
SNP urged Spain to allow a referendum,
with MEP Alyn Smith saying attempts to
block one would be “anti-democratic, anti-
European and potentially explosive”.
That was possibly payback for Madrid’s
forceful inter ventions against Scottish
independence last year.
The Scottish government ’s response to
the Catalan election was careful. While
congratulating the winners, it also said
Scotland’s referendum was part of a
process agreed by both the Scottish and
“The constitutional arrangements in
Scotland and the United Kingdom are
clearly different to those of Spain and
Catalonia but should we be invited we
stand ready to share our experiences with
Spain and Catalonia,” External Affairs
Secretary Fiona Hyslop said.
There are also many differences in their
situations. Not least in their economies.
Catalonia is the engine of Spain,
accounting for almost 19% of Spain’s total
Whether an independent Scotland
would be economically viable, with or
without North Sea oil, was the subject of
much debate during the referendum.
“The fact that we are such a big economy
in Spain will help us,” Erola Pairo, 33,
president of the Catalan Centre of
Scotland in Edinburgh and a supporter of
Scotland, on the other hand, is already
widely seen as a separate political entity.
“ Nobody doubts that Scotland is a
nation, it is more accepted that it is
separate,” Pairo said.
Narcisco Michavila, a pollster and adviser
to Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP), said
that the half of the Catalan population
that wanted to separate was generally
richer and better educated than those who
wished to stay within Spain.
“ In Scotland, it is precisely the other way
around, in Scotland the unemployed voted
for independence a year ago with the
criteria ‘I’m having such a bad time that if
I switch flags my life will improve’.”
Keating said that had Scotland voted
to leave the United Kingdom last year, it
would have been accepted by Westminster.
But Spain would fight hard to keep hold
“There’s a feeling that Catalonia is what
makes Spain, without Catalonia there is
no Spain. Losing Catalonia would really
be quite fatal, while Scotland is seen
in England as ultimately dispensable,”
Keating said. — Reuters
Catalan President Artur Mas, centre, answers a question next to Oriol Junqueras, left, leader of Esquerra Republicana de
Catalunya (ERC), and Raul Romeva, a former university professor and member of the European Parliament, during a news
conference in Barcelona, Spain.
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