Home' Greymouth Star : October 3rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, October 3, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1863 - US President Abraham Lincoln issues
a proclamation designating the last Thursday in
November as Thanksgiving Day.
1906 - SOS is established as an international
distress signal at the Berlin Radio Conference;
in effect from July 1908.
1918 - German-Austrian
note is sent to United States via
Switzerland for World War One
1941 - The aerosol can is patented
in the United States by L D
Goodhue and W N Sullivan .
1952 - First British atomic bomb
is detonated on the Monte Bello
Islands off north-western Australia.
1990 - East and West Germany are united.
1994 - Jordan and Israel sign peace
agreement at White House.
1995 - The O J Simpson trial ends with the
former American football star being cleared of
murdering his wife and a male friend.
2005 - British comedian Ronnie Barker, the
big half of the famous tv duo The Two Ronnies
and the indomitable Fletcher in prison sitcom
Porridge, dies aged 76.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Pierre Bonnard, French painter (1867-
1947); Sir Michael Hordern, British actor
(1911-1995); James Herriot, British author-
veterinarian (1916-1995); Gore
Vidal, US writer (1925-2012);
Neale Fraser, Australian tennis
player (1933-); Chubby Checker,
US rock star (1941-); Al Sharpton,
American Baptist minister (1954-);
Tommy Lee, US drummer (Motley
Crue) (1962-); Clive O wen, English
actor (1964-); Gwen Stefani, US singer (1969-
); Neve Campbell, US actress (1973-); Ashlee
Simpson, American singer (1984-).
“The mar vellous thing about a joke with a
double meaning is that it can only mean one
thing.” — British comedian Ronnie Barker.
“He reveals profound mysteries beyond man’s
understanding. He knows all hidden things, for
He is light . . .” — (Daniel 2:22).
Tomorrow, a new
Otira fire station
will be opened by
the chief mechanical
engineer of New Zealand Railways. Currently
the brigade is staffed by four officers and nine
Otira’s fire brigade was formed in 1924 with
the first station measuring 12ft x 16ft. The new
station, however, will possess a total floor area
of 1300 square feet, with the old one converted
into a social room with the assistance of
An experimental planting of flax on 4.8ha of
land at Seaview about 1958 has proved to be an
outstanding success and already 80 tons have
been cut from the first crop. The total yield this
year is expected to be about 100 tons and this
could be doubled next year. This is believed
to be the largest area of cultivated flax on the
Coast and it is possible that operations will be
extended next year.
Yesterday, the medical superintendent Dr A
G Couston said that when the hospital farm
was c losed, an alternative use was sought for
the land and it was decided to try flax. No
labour is required and cutters for the South
Beach mill are at present removing the first
yield. The hospital receives a royalty of £1 per
ton and this goes to the Consolidated Fund.
Greymouth girl Miss Doreen McNabb found
a means of breaking the pattern of a regular
sightseeing tour of England and the Continent.
She considers herself extremely lucky that
she was able to get a singing engagement in
Europe and because of this saw many things
which would have other wise been beyond her
uFood for thought
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It all happened very
fast, in the end. On
Putin was at the
United Nations in
New York saying that
the United States
was making “an
in not backing Syria’s
al-Assad in his war against Islamist rebels,
notably including “Islamic State” (or Isis, as
it used to be known).
On Tuesday the upper chamber of the
Russian parliament unanimously voted to
let President Putin use military force in
Syria to fight “terrorism”, in response to a
request from the Syrian government.
On Wednesday morning the Russian
warplanes started bombing rebel targets
in Syria. Moscow gave the US embassy on
Iraq one hour’s notice, requesting that US
and “coalition” warplanes (which are also
bombing Islamic State targets in Syria)
to avoid the air space where the Russian
bombers were in action.
Donald Trump, bless his heart, said
“ You know, Russia wants to get Isis, right?
We want to get Isis. Russia is in Syria —
maybe we should let them do it? Let them
For once, Trump is right. Even a stopped
clock is right twice a day.
If you want to stop Isis, you have to do
it with troops, and the only ground troops
fighting Isis in Syria are the Syrian army
and the Kurds along the northern border
with Turkey. But the US has been duped
by Turkey into betraying the Kurds, and it
will not use its air power to help the Syrian
army, which is now on the ropes.
That is why Palmyra fell to Islamic
State forces in May. Despite all the other
American air strikes against Isis forces
in Syria, it made not one to help the
Syrian forces when they were desperately
defending the historic city, and so they
eventually had to retreat. It was more
important to Washington not to be seen
helping Assad than to save the city.
This is a fine moral position, as Assad ’s
regime is a deeply unattractive dictatorship.
Indeed, the great majority of the four
million Syrians who have fled the country
were fleeing the regime’s violence, not
that of Isis. But if you do not want the
Islamist extremists to take over the country
(and maybe Lebanon and Jordan as well),
and you are not willing to put troops on the
ground yourself, who else would you help?
Washington’s fantasy solution to this
problem has been to create a “third
force” of rebels who will somehow defeat
Islamic State while diplomacy somehow
removes Assad. But the other big rebel
organisations in Syria, al-Nusra and Ahrar
al-Sham, are also Islamists, little different
from Isis in their ideology and goals. In
fact al-Nusra is a breakaway faction of Isis,
now affiliated with al Qaeda. (Remember
al Qaeda? Chaps who did the 9/11
If Assad goes down, it is Islamic State,
al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham who will take
over Syria, not the pathetic little band of
fighters being trained by the US in Turkey.
In fact the first group of them to cross back
into Syria were immediately annihilated by
Isis, which had probably been tipped off by
America’s not very loyal ally, the Turkish
If the Russians believed the US was
willing to do the heavy lifting needed to
defeat the Islamists and save the Assad
regime, they would probably be more than
happy to stand back and let America do
it. It was the American invasion of Iraq,
after all, that created Isis, and almost all of
Islamic State’s leaders are veterans of the
resistance in Iraq.
But Putin hears only high-minded
rhetoric utterly detached from reality when
he listens to Barack Obama. Russia has a
large Muslim minority at home, and it is
very much closer to the Middle East than
the US is. So if the Americans will not do
what is necessary, he will.
Putin does not make the same
meaningless distinctions between Islamic
State and the other Islamist groups that
the US insists on. The first Russian air
strikes were on territory held by al-Nusra,
not Islamic State. But the Russians will
hit Isis too. In fact, the first big operation
will probably be an attack by a re-equipped
Syrian army to retake Palmyra, heavily
backed by Russian air power.
Putin has said that he will not commit
Russian ground forces to combat in Syria,
for the Russian public does not want to see
its soldiers involved in another war against
Islamists after their miserable experience in
Afghanistan in 1979-89. But the resolution
in the D uma did not make any promises
about that, and we may yet see Russian
ground troops fighting in Syria too.
Whether Putin’s intervention will be
enough to save Assad remains to be seen.
The carping comments in the western
media about how he wants to distract
attention from Russia’s involvement in the
Ukrainian civil war and restore Russia’s
position as a great power are true enough
— indeed, he is probably shutting down
the fighting in Ukraine mainly to clear
the decks for Syria — but that is not his
He is just doing what needs to be done.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Russia goes to war in Syria
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
A Russian Sukhoi SU-30 fighter.
hether it is a
diamond ring, a
designer watch or
a first edition of a
Tintin cartoon, every
one of the rising
number of lots to go under the hammer
in the auction room of Belgium’s oldest
financial institution tells a poignant tale.
Even the auctioneer says he feels the pain
of the reluctant seller, who has parted with
a prized possession to pay a medical bill,
finance a school trip or, in extreme cases, to
Etienne Lambert, head of the centuries-
old State-backed micro credit institution
Le Mont de Piete (literally the Mount of
Piety), says it troubles him that business is
“The poorer the city, the richer the Mont
de Piete. And we are uncomfortable with
that,” Lambert said.
Set up nearly 400 years ago in 1618 to
combat usury and lend at the lowest rates
to the indigent, Brussels’s Mont de Piete,
a State-regulated pawnbroker run on a
charitable basis, used to be one of many.
Now it is the sole sur vivor in Belgium
and has the monopoly on what is known as
“ le pret sur gage” (pledge-backed loan). No
other pawnbrokers are legal in the country.
It says the monopoly allows it to avoid
commercial interests and loan below the
To protect its status, the Mont de Piete
has begun legal action against Cash
Converters, an Australian firm with outlets
in Belgium that buys second-hand goods
and gives clients an option to buy them
back within a month.
In an e-mailed statement, Cash
Converters said the buy-back option was
an extra ser vice that responded to client
needs and in no way a pledge-backed loan.
It is unclear when the case will be
Lambert says the city’s Mont de Piete has
rarely been needed more as the financial
crisis of 2007-2008 made it harder for
people to get credit.
“I come here when I have worries,” said
one woman, who asked not to be identified
because her husband did not know she was
there. Her pledge was a gold necklace.
Loans from Mont de Piete rose above
$12.2 million ($13.6 million) in 2007 for
the first time and above $15.7 millions in
2011, although they fell back to just above
$13.9 million in 2014.
To cope with the demand and allow
a wider variety of property to act as
guarantees, the Mont de Piete is enlarging
its building in the Marolles, a working
class district in central Brussels.
Work should be completed for the 400th
anniversary in 2018.
The three million euros of expenditure,
which includes increasing storage, creating
a museum and installing solar panels,
is as carefully calculated as the philosophy
of the Mont de Piete is to give its
clients as large a loan as it can based on the
value of their pledge at the lowest interest
“ We are obsessed with the idea of not
getting people into too much debt,”
Loans are for six months and the average
value is $611. The minimum is $52 and the
maximum is between 50 and 70% of the
estimated value of the pledge. The current
rate is 6.5% annualised.
The only conditions are the object and
an identity check. Anonymous loans, once
permitted, are no longer allowed.
The auctions are a last resort when the
customer cannot pay and are used to cancel
the debt and return any profits to the often
Adding to the drama of the auction
room, the seller remains the owner until
the hammer goes down, meaning that if
a debtor manages to pay the interest, at
the very last minute the lot is suddenly
withdrawn. — Reuters
State-run pawn shop
A cashier appraises a gold necklace left by a client in exchange for a loan at the Mont de Piete in the Marolles, a working class district in central Brussels, Belgium.
High-resolution scans suggest the tomb
of Ancient Egypt ’s boy-king Tutankhamun
contains passages to two hidden chambers,
including what one British archaeologist
believes is the last resting place of Queen
If proven, the discovery would be the
most significant this century and shed
light on what remains a mysterious period
of Egyptian history despite frenzied
Nefertiti, whose chiselled cheek-bones
and regal beauty were immortalised in
a 3300-year old bust now in a Berlin
museum, died in the 14th century BC.
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves told
a news conference in Cairo overnight that
he believes Tutankhamun’s mausoleum was
originally occupied by Nefertiti, thought by
experts to have been his step-mother, and
that she has lain undisturbed behind what
he believes is a partition wall for over 3000
“If it is true, we are facing a discovery
that would overshadow the discovery
of Tutankhamun himself,” Egyptian
Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty
said. “ This would be the most important
discovery of the 21st century.”
Reeves said radar and thermal imaging
could help establish whether secret rooms
were indeed hidden behind Tut ’s burial
chamber and what they might hold.
Damaty said the next step would be to
carry out radar studies at the site, which
could begin in the next one to three
King Tut, as he is affectionately known,
died around 1323 BC. His intact tomb,
complete with his famous golden burial
mask, was discovered in the Valley of
the Kings in 1922 by another British
Egyptologist, Howard Carter.
Experts have long sought to understand
why Tut ’s tomb was smaller than that of
other pharaohs and why its shape was
more in keeping with that of the Egyptian
queens of the time.
Egyptologists remain uncertain over
where Nefertiti died and was buried. She
was long believed to have passed away
during her husband’s reign, suggesting
she could be buried in Amarna, where her
bust was found in 1912. More recently,
most experts, including Reeves, have come
to believe she outlived Akhenaten but
changed her name and may have briefly
Reeves developed his theory about
Nefertiti’s resting place after studying high-
resolution scans he believes suggest the
presence of two rooms hidden behind the
northern and western walls of Tut ’s burial
He thinks one is a Tutankhamun-era
storage area and another may contain the
remains of Nefertiti, whose name means
“the beautiful one has come”.
But some archaeologists have urged
caution. The evidence remains scant and
others believe Nefertiti’s mummy was
found in 1898 and already lies in the
“The idea that one (room) might lead
to a pre-existing burial chamber, let alone
that of Nefertiti, is pure speculation,”
Aidan Dodson, an Egyptologist at Bristol
Damaty, who recently returned from a
tour of the Valley of the Kings with Reeves
and other senior Egyptian experts, said
he believed there was a hidden chamber
which could contain a royal woman’s
remains but thought it was likely to be Tut ’s
Nefertiti was the primary wife of the
Pharaoh Akhenaten, who introduced a
form of monotheism to Egypt in the 14th
century BC. Many Egyptologists believe
Tutankhamun was Akhenaten’s child with
his own sister Kia.
Tut himself is believed to have married his
own half-sister Ankhesenamun, one of the
six daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.
Nefertiti is believed to have sur vived
her husband and ruled Egypt herself as
pharaoh under the name Neferneferuaten.
If her tomb is found intact, it would likely
contain hidden treasures and shed new
light on a turbulent period rich in artistic
and architectural accomplishments.
Queen Nefertiti may be concealed in King Tut’s tomb
A bust of Queen Nefertiti
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