Home' Greymouth Star : October 28th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, October 28, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1492 - Christopher Columbus discovers
Cuba and claims it in the name of Spain.
1835 - Maori chiefs in New Zealand declare
1841 - The first 27 settlers from the Manukau
and Waitemata Company arrive at Manukau.
The settlement will be abandoned within three
1886 - The Statue of Liberty is
dedicated in New York harbour.
1890 - New Zealand celebrates
its first Labour Day. Promoted by
Dunedin trade unions, numerous
events mark the occasion in several
centres around the country.
1902 — Thirteen lives and
almost 500 coffins containing the remains of
Chinese being returned to China for burial
are lost when the Ventnor sinks off Omapere,
1918— Czechoslovakia is founded by Tomas
Garrigue Masaryk as part of a new Europe
after World War One.
1919— The Volstead Prohibition Act is
passed by the United States Congress, which
prohibited the sale of drink containing more
than one half of 1% of alcohol.
1940 - A passenger train is derailed near
Mercer, killing the driver and fireman and
injuring 10 passengers.
1943 - Butter rationing is introduced in New
Zealand. It will continue until 1950.
1965 - Pope Paul VI issues a decree absolving
Jews of collective guilt for the crucifixion of
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Evelyn Waugh, British novelist (1903-1966);
Cleo Laine, British singer-actress (1927-); Joan
Plowright, British actress (1929-); Suzy Parker,
US model-actress (1933-2003); Jane
Alexander, US actress (1939-); Hank
Mar vin British musician (1941-);
Dennis Franz, US actor (1944-); Bill
Gates, Microsoft chairman (1955-);
Lauren Holly, US actress (1963-);
Julia Roberts, US actress (1967-);
Ben Harper, US musician (1969-);
Joaquin Phoenix, US actor (1974-).
“ Life is easier to take than you’d think; all
that is necessary is to accept the impossible,
do without the indispensable and bear the
intolerable.” — Kathleen Norris, American
“ Make vows to the Lord your God, and
perform them; let all who are around Him
bring gifts to the One who is awesome.”
— Psalms 76:11
Business Q ueen,
Kennedy has been
named winner of the
Greymouth Civic Centre’s Queen Carnival
project. Her success was announced last night
by new Mayor (and promoter of the Civic
Centre project) Dr B M Dallas. Second in the
contest was Sports Queen Beverley Lynam and
third, Arts Q ueen Patricia Low.
Dr Dallas said the Q ueen Carnival project
had raised £8200 which, together with a
subsidy, would mean a further £12,000 towards
the Civic Centre project.
To all intents and purposes the gymnasium
is paid for. Both it and the theatre will begin
to rise on the centre’s Puketahi Street site, only
the weather preventing the pouring of concrete.
The finances of the centre are such that the
doctor feels confident that most fundraising
activities can stop temporarily.
“ I think it went in,” exclaimed Mrs Marie
McBride excitedly, as her husband Charlie
finished his swing off the ninth at the Kaiata
golf links on Monday afternoon. “ It must have
gone close,” commented Charlie, pleased with
his seven-iron effort, but less optimistic over
Together they quickly strode over the
125 yards. Certainly the ball was not to be
seen on the green. Hopefully but somewhat
apprehensively they fixed their gaze into the
hole. There sitting snugly was the small white
Charlie McBride, former rugby league
international for ward, had realised the dream
of every golfer — attaining a hole-in-one .
“ It was obviously a fluke,” said Charlie
after wards in typical style.
uFood for thought
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has settled in
coups (seven in
65 years), and
Faso have been
the end of next
month. Do not be cynical about it; that is
Burkina Faso, a land-locked country
in west Africa, competes with Somalia
for the honour of being Africa’s poorest
country. You might wonder why anybody
would want the thankless job of running
such a place, but political power means
access to scarce resources (like money)
even in the poorest countries. Especially
if you are in the army.
What would have been the country ’s
eighth coup (if it had succeeded) began
in mid-September when General Gilbert
Diendere, the head of the Presidential
Guard, seized and imprisoned the interim
president and prime minister. He was
doing it, he said, because the party of the
last president, Blaise Compaore, had been
banned from running in the election.
Compaore, a former soldier who
first came to power in a coup himself,
was ousted by popular demonstrations
last year when he tried to run for the
presidency yet again after 27 years in
power. Diendere had been his closest
associate for all of that time, and
everybody assumed that his coup was
really a bid by Compaore to return to
Everybody was right, although if the
coup succeeded Diedere might have
decided to stay in power himself. When
the demonstrators who had forced
Compaore out of power last year came
out on the streets again, Diendere’s
troops hosed them down with automatic
weapons fire, killing 14 and wounding
hundreds. It was not the mob but the
institutions that thwarted his ambitions.
The coup was instantly condemned by
the African Union. “ The AU considers
the announcement by the military of the
‘dismissal’ of (interim) President Michel
Kafando and the attempt of substituting
him with ‘new authorities’ as null and
void,” the AU chairman, South Africa’s
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said
The regional organisation, the
Economic Community for West African
States (Ecowas), took a softer line,
putting together a mediation team and
offering the coup leaders amnesty despite
the killings. But when civil society
groups in Burkina Faso protested at the
amnesty offer, the Nigerian president,
Muhammadu Buhari, took the lead for
Buhari, who was a military dictator
30 years ago, coming to power in one
coup and losing it in another, now
describes himself as a “converted
democrat ”. He called Diendere’s coup a
“ brazen contravention” of Burkina Faso’s
constitution and demanded that he
withdraw. Burkina Faso’s army, which had
always resented the special privileges of
the Presidential Guard, moved into the
capital and told Diendere to surrender.
So he did, although there was a bit of
shooting first. Now Diendere is under
arrest facing 11 charges including “crimes
against humanity,” the Presidential
Guard has been disarmed and formally
disbanded, and the election is back on
again for November 29.
The election will not solve all of Burkina
Faso’s problems, but democracy might
do it eventually. The country still has the
lowest literacy rate in the world, it is still
dirt poor, and the population (now 17
million) is still doubling every 25 years.
But one thing is definitely changed for
Most Burkinabes may be illiterate, but
they have become aware of their rights
and no longer accept the dictates of
armed thugs in uniform without question.
African institutions have changed too,
and no longer turn a blind eye when a
member country faces a military coup.
They inter vene promptly and decisively,
and they generally succeed.
They are less good at dealing with
countries where dictators hold regular
elections whose outcomes they control
through bribery, a monopoly of the mass
media, or just plain police-State terror,
like Sudan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
But more than half of the continent ’s 50
countries are now more or less functional
(though still quite corrupt) democracies.
The real value of democracy is that
it requires the rule of law, which is the
most important thing you need in order
for economic growth to benefit people
outside the political and business elite.
People just will not bother to invest and
work hard if they know the proceeds are
likely to be stolen.
The rule of law is never complete —
even in the most developed countries,
there is often one law for the rich and
another for the poor — but the closer you
get to the ideal the better your growth
will be. People often miss this, thinking
only in terms of human rights, and
arguing that the economy, not democracy,
must be the first priority for poor
They are wrong. It is the rule of law that
gradually shrinks corruption and gives
people a reason to invest in their future,
and you can’t have the rule of law without
democracy. Burkina Faso in heading in
the right direction, and so is Africa.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Burkina Faso: The eighth coup fails
Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp
in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
aniel T’seleie, an
indigenous activist in
Canada’s far north, is
campaigning to help his
people wean themselves
from a worrying
dependence on imported fuel and food,
recover old traditions and win greater
autonomy from the government.
In a region with nearly 24 hours of
daylight in the summer, one way to help
meet his goals seems obvious: more solar
“Right now a lot of communities in the
North-west Territories are dependent on
diesel-generated electricity, along with
store-bought food,” said T’seleie in an open
air inter view near Behchoko, a clutch of
small wooden houses nestled along the
shores of Great Slave Lake.
Standing beside spindly jack pine trees
growing from thin soil on the hard granite
rock that covers much of northern Canada,
T’seleie sees renewable energy as the
force which could respond to the region’s
complex, intertwined challenges.
Canada’s north is particularly vulnerable
to global warming, which is making it
harder for indigenous people to continue
their traditions of hunting and trapping on
the land, as ice sheets are melt and caribou
And although indigenous people
want what they call a “nation to
nation” relationship with the Canadian
government, they largely depend on it for
diesel fuel in order to keep warm.
By harnessing renewable energy, T ’seleie
believes indigenous communities could gain
more freedom from the State and revive
ancient cultural practices, while doing their
part to combat climate change which is
hitting them particularly hard.
“Any way that communities can
produce energy at a local level produces
independence,” said the 34-year-old,
sporting a baseball cap and jeans, the
informal dress common in Canada’s rugged
The North-west Territories has seen a
surge in the use of solar power over the last
five years, after the regional government
spent about $50 million to boost renewable
energy production and improve efficiency,
said Jim Sparling, the territory’s senior
climate change manager.
“On a per capita basis, we are second
only to Ontario (Canada’s most populous
province) for installed solar capacity,”
Sparling said in the territorial capital
The huge and sparsely populated northern
territory has fewer than 50,000 residents,
about half of whom are indigenous, many
from the Dene Nation, a tribal people who
traditionally hunt caribou.
Solar power still represents a fairly small
part of its energy consumption, though the
level is rising, said Sparling.
Private individuals and companies in the
territory are also installing solar panels
on their own to try and bring down
their energy bills and cut dependence on
imports, he said.
That combination of rising use of
renewable and better energy efficiency has
allowed the province to hold its climate-
changing emissions stable at 2005 levels
despite a rise in the population and a
growing economy, Sparling said.
The territorial government plans to
be part of a Canadian delegation going
to Paris for a UN climate summit in
December, aimed at reaching a new global
agreement on climate change.
Average temperatures in parts of the
northern territory have already risen more
than 3 degrees from pre-industrial levels,
Scientists say average world temperatures
should not rise more 2 degrees if the world
is to avoid the worst disasters associated
with global warming.
“ We have to scale up the ambition,”
Sparling said. “ We are very vulnerable if
this problem gets worse.”
North of the Arctic Circle, the village
of Colville Lake, with fewer than 200
residents, is in the midst of a major switch
from diesel power to solar.
Last year, the mostly indigenous
community faced weekly power outages.
But after a new solar power system was
set-up, the area is now nearly self sufficient
in electricity production during summer
months when the sun shines almost round
It still needs to import fuel for the winter,
but officials believe the new investments
will lead to a 30% drop in diesel
consumption, helping the environment and
Other small northern towns are looking
to mimic the project to save cash and allow
people to maintain traditional lifestyles by
being less dependent on expensive imports.
“In the last 10 to 15 years there has been a
huge push from (indigenous) communities
to try and support themselves,” said Ashlee
Cunsolo Willox, an indigenous studies
professor at Cape Breton University and a
researcher on climate change impacts.
As global warming leads to the thinning
of Arctic sea ice and changes in the habits
of northern animals, the region’s indigenous
inhabitants are struggling to adapt their
lifestyles while holding onto old traditions,
The caribou population has collapsed
in parts of the territory in a development
experts link to climate change, and melting
ice makes it harder for hunters to navigate
the land in search of other animals to hunt.
“The north is the fastest changing
geography in the world,” Cunsolo Willox
said in a phone inter view. “ There is a lot
of concern that traditional knowledge and
skills will be lost with climate change.”
Building greater self sufficiency —
including by adapting cleaner, cheaper
energy — may be a strategy for holding
onto the old ways, activists say.
T’seleie, a law school graduate, said he
previously tried to work through Canada’s
court system and treaty negotiations to win
greater autonomy for his people, after what
he considers years of colonial abuses.
In the 1920s, Canadian colonial
administrators declared the government’s
aim was to “get rid of the Indian problem”
by ending indigenous cultural practices,
corralling the population into reser ves
and forcing aboriginal children into grim
Canada’s government signed treaties with
many indigenous groups, often in return for
political support during periods of conflict,
granting them access to parts of the land
they once controlled and other benefits.
But many legal scholars and historians
say the government did not honour those
agreements in good faith.
After becoming disillusioned with the
legal process, T ’seleie decided working
towards greater self-sufficiency in food and
energy was the best way for ward.
T’seleie is part of the first generation of
indigenous people not forced to attend
residential schools usually run by religious
groups in other parts of Canada which took
children from their parents, and forced
them to speak English rather than native
languages as a means of assimilation.
Sexual and physical abuse were rife at the
institutions, the government now admits
following years of litigation.
Health experts and indigenous leaders
believe the legacy from these schools —
including that many parents never learned
how to raise children, as they were taken
from their own parents — partially explain
high rates of substance abuse, family
violence and poverty in some indigenous
Allowing people to stay on their
ancestral land, continuing hunting and
trapping practices, and learning stories and
traditions from community elders are key to
overcoming these problems, said Cunsolo
To support traditional practices and allow
indigenous communities to live off the land
as they have done for centuries, they need
access to renewable energy, T ’seleie said.
“A huge aspect of our lives, culture and
language is lost when we can’t be on the
land,” he said. “For me, that ’s one of the
biggest threats of climate change.”
Empowering indigenous people
The town of Behchoko, which is mostly populated by indigenous members of the Dene Nation.
Green energy activist Daniel T’Seleie, who believes northern Canada could improve
its energy security by investing in more solar panels, outside Bechoko, Northwest
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