Home' Greymouth Star : December 8th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, December 8, 2015
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1776 - George Washington’s retreating army
crosses the Delaware River from New Jersey to
Pennsylvania during the American Revolution.
1854 - Pope Pius IX promulgates
the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception of the Blessed Virgin
1914 - British destroy German
naval squadron off Falkland Islands.
1925 - Adolf Hitler’s book Mein
Kampf is published.
1962 - Brunei rebellion collapses after British
1978 - Golda Meir, Israel’s first woman prime
minister (1969-74), dies.
1980 - John Lennon, former member of The
Beatles, is shot dead in New York by Mark
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587); Horace,
Latin poet (65BC-8BC); Eli Whitney, US
inventor of cotton gin (1765-1825); Sammy
Davis Junior, US singer-actor (1925-1990);
David Carradine, US actor (1936-
2009); James Galway, Irish flautist
and conductor (1939-); Jim
Morrison, lead singer of US group
The Doors (1943-1971); Gregg
Allman, US rock musician (1947-);
Bill Bryson, American author
(1951-); Kim Basinger, US actress
(1953-); Teri Hatcher, US actress (1964-);
Sinead O’Connor, Irish singer (1966-).
“The unknown is what it is. And to be
frightened of it is what sends everybody
scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions,
wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is
what it is. Accept that it ’s unknown and it ’s
plain sailing. ” — John Lennon (1940-1980).
“ For a child has been born for us, a son given
to us; authority rests upon His shoulders; and
He is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
— (Isaiah 9:6).
A former apprentice
jockey donned his
running shoes on
Saturday and raced
away with the fifth Great Westland Marathon.
Dobson’s Coleman Creagh, with barely a year’s
experience in athletics, caused quite a stir when
he galloped along at a steady pace to easily win
the 26-mile test in his first marathon attempt.
Creagh was an apprentice jockey until
about two years ago, when increasing weight
forced him to give up race riding. He turned
to running for recreation and Saturday ’s win
brought him a big reward for this move.
Retiring today as traffic foreman at the
Greymouth railway station is Mr Ian Dey. Mr
Dey has been with the railways for more than
40 years — more than half of that time spent
in the ser vice in Greymouth.
He will actually be at work tomorrow when
he will be entertained at a function at which a
presentation in recognition of ser vice will be
A former resident of Puketahi Street,
Greymouth, Christopher John Pugsley, who
now lives in Christchurch, was the only
Canterbury-Westland youth selected by a
military panel at Waiouru Camp to attend a
four-year officer training course at Duntroon
Military College, Canberra, Australia.
He received his early education at the
Marist Brothers’ School, Greymouth. His
father was employed at the Dispatch Foundry,
Sergeant J A W Wright, of Hokitika, will
commence duties at Greymouth tomorrow.
Sergeant Wright was with the Greymouth
police as a constable before being transferred to
He was recently promoted to sergeant and
Greymouth will be his first posting as such.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
t the 2012 London
Olympics, before 80,000
roaring fans and a
constellation of camera
flashes, it took Oscar
Pistorius 45.44sec to
become a global icon.
His sprint around the 400m track was
the first time in history that a double-
amputee had raced at the Olympic Games.
The race capped a triumph over adversity
for Pistorius. His journey from disabled
child to world-class athlete seemed
to embody the very best of sporting
endeavour and the human spirit.
Then on Valentine’s Day in 2013,
his achievements were just as quickly
In the early hours of the morning at
his upmarket Pretoria home he shot and
killed his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva
Steenkamp, apparently believing her to be
For months he sat in a windowless
courtroom, and watched as his world was
His sparkling career was cut short,
sponsors dumped him and he was forced
to sell his homes amid mounting legal
He was found guilty of murder last
week by South Africa’s Supreme Court of
Appeal, which dramatically threw out his
earlier conviction of culpable homicide,
saying his testimony had been “vacillating
He had ser ved one year of a five-year jail
sentence before being released to house
arrest in October.
The athlete had sobbed, shaken and
vomited in the dock as details of his
lover’s brutal death were examined in
excruciating detail during his trial while
the eyes of the world were transfixed.
The ‘Blade Runner’ — an epithet earned
for his trademark prosthetic legs that
powered him to fame as a Paralympic
gold medallist — became the ‘Blade
Gunner’. “ He’s not only broke, but he
is broken, there is nothing left,”
lawyer Barry Roux told his sentencing
Time and again during his trial the court
was told about “two Oscars” — one a hero,
the other a victim.
But the high-profile proceedings also
exposed the 29-year-old’s darker side:
offering glimpses of a dangerously volatile
man with a penchant for guns, beautiful
women and fast cars.
In 2009, he spent a night in jail after
allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman
at a party in a case that was settled out of
Two years later, he was accused of firing
a gun through the sunroof of an ex-
girlfriend’s moving car, although a court
found there was not enough evidence to
convict him on that charge.
Weeks before he shot Steenkamp,
he discharged a gun by accident at a
“Oscar is certainly not what people think
he is,” ex-lover and trial witness Samantha
Taylor has said.
Pistorius has long been open about his
love for guns. The sprinter slept with a
pistol under his bed at his home in a high-
security estate for fear of burglars.
Once held in Amsterdam after
gunpowder residue was detected on his
prosthetics, he also took a New York
Times journalist inter viewing him to a
The writer described him driving at
250kph, double the speed limit, and
referred to Pistorius as having “a fierce,
even frenzied need to take on the world
at maximum speed and with minimum
His passion for motorbikes, adrenalin
and speed is well documented. “He likes
fast cars. He is just built for speed,” his
trainer Jannie Brooks said. He also crashed
his boat on a river, breaking two ribs, an
eye socket and his jaw. Empty alcohol
bottles were found in the boat.
He once owned two white tigers but
sold them to a zoo in Canada when they
became too big.
Born in 1986 in Johannesburg without
fibulas (calf bones), his parents decided
when he was 11 months-old to have his
legs amputated below the knee so he
could be fitted with prosthetic legs. This
allowed him to play sports unhindered
while growing up. He excelled in many,
concentrating on running only after
fracturing a knee playing rugby.
“ It was never made an issue. My mother
would say to my brother, ‘You put on your
shoes, and Oscar, you put on your legs,
then meet me at the car’,” Pistorius said in
a 2011 inter view.
A middle child whose parents divorced
when he was six, he has a problematic
relationship with his father Henke, but is
close to his siblings who were at his side
His mother died when he was 15 and the
date of her death is tattooed on his arm.
In 2004, just eight months after taking
to the track, he smashed the 200m world
record at the Athens Paralympics.
Next up was the 2008 Beijing
Paralympic Games where he took the
100m, 200m and 400m sprint titles and
launched a battle to take part in the able-
bodied athletics, overcoming arguments
that his custom-built carbon-fibre running
blades gave him an unfair advantage.
In 2011 he made history by becoming
the first amputee to run at the World
Championships, where he took silver with
South Africa’s 4x400m sprint team.
“ You’re not disabled by your disabilities
but abled by your abilities,” he told Athlete
magazine in an inter view that year.
In 2012 he again made history by
becoming the first double-amputee
to compete at both the Olympics and
“ He is the definition of global
inspiration,” Time magazine proclaimed in
its 2012 list of the world’s most influential
Less than a year later, Pistorius featured
on the cover with the words ‘Man,
Superman, Gunman’. — AFP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Oscar Pistorius in the Pretoria High Court, in Pretoria, South Africa.
Pistorius’s darker side
Do you remember
young president of
the Maldives who
dramatised the threat of
rising sea levels to his
low-lying island nation
in the Indian Ocean by
holding his first cabinet
meeting under water,
with all the cabinet ministers in scuba
“This is what will happen to the
Maldives if climate change is not
checked,” he told the cameras as the fish
swam past him. (Well, not exactly told,
because you cannot talk when you are
under water, but he held up a sign saying
that). Were you wondering where he is
now that the great conference to curb
global warming is getting under way in
Nasheed cannot be in Paris,
unfortunately, because he was overthrown
in a coup in 2012 and was then jailed for
13 years last March for terrorism. The
promise he made to set an example for
the world by achieving a carbon-neutral
economy (zero net carbon-dioxide
emissions) in the Maldives within 10
years has been modified a bit by the new
The new rulers felt that a 100% cut in
emissions by 2020 was too ambitious,
so they settled for a 10% cut by 2030.
This may or may not have something
to do with the fact that they are also
encouraging drilling for oil in the
country. But only a base cynic would
suggest that it may also have to do with
the riches that sometimes mysteriously
accrue to those who allocate drilling
How did it come to this? Every country
is different, but the changes that brought
the Maldives to this low point are a
warning about what can happen to the
promises countries make about reducing
their emissions. Since the whole Paris
negotiation is based on each country
making voluntary commitments on
emission cuts, there are 140 different
ways that whatever they agree at Paris
can be sabotaged after wards.
The Maldives has a long record of
taking the lead on climate change issues,
because it is the most vulnerable country
in the world to sea-level rise. Three-
quarters of its land is no more than
half a metre above sea level, and will be
inundated by the end of the century if
the mid-range prediction on sea-level rise
proves correct. No part of its thousand-
plus islands is more than 2.4m high.
Even Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the
dictator who ruled the islands for 30
years before Nasheed replaced him in
a free election in 2008, was a climate-
change activist. Nasheed, then a young
journalist, was arrested 15 times under
Gayoom’s rule and frequently tortured,
but Gayoom was the first national leader
to highlight the peril facing small island
states in his Death of a Nation speech at
the United Nations in 1987.
The Maldives was the first country
to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the first
international agreement on combating
climate change. Gayoom was also
instrumental in founding the Alliance
of Small Island States (AOSIS), now
44 members strong, which campaigns
internationally against global warming
and is strongly represented at Paris.
So Nasheed, who holds a degree in
maritime studies from what is now
Liverpool John Moores University, was
not really bringing the subject up for
the first time when he held his famous
under water cabinet meeting. It is hard
to be Maldivian and not care about
climate change. But it can be done, and
the current president of the Maldives,
Abdulla Yameen, is living proof of it.
To be fair, he does care about it a bit; he
just cares about power much more. After
Nasheed was forced to resign at gunpoint
in 2012, the old gang came back with a
vengeance: Yameen is Gayoom’s half-
brother, and his foreign minister is
Gayoom’s daughter. And Nasheed is in
Nasheed was making a political
comeback in the 2013 presidential
election — he won in the first round of
voting — but his victory was annulled by
the Supreme Court. After some further
manipulation of the voting Yameen
emerged as president, with third-placed
Gasim Ibrahim as his coalition partner.
When Ibrahim quit the coalition
early this year and joined Nasheed ’s
Maldivian Democratic Party, making him
the favourite to win the next election,
Yameen responded by having Nasheed
arrested on the charge of illegally
ordering the arrest of a senior judge while
he was in office.
Although no evidence was offered at
the trial that Nasheed had actually given
such an order or even knew about it, the
arrest was defined as ‘abduction’, which is
a terrorist offence under Maldivian law.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in
prison, and joined the 1700 other people
(out of a population of 350,000) now
detained on politically motivated charges.
The current government is trying to
bolster its support by playing the Islamist
card: for example, the death penalty has
been reintroduced 60 years after it was
abolished Now the thieves are quarrelling
among themselves, with Yameen’s
vice-president under arrest for allegedly
plotting to kill the president, and climate
change is very much on the back burner.
It is not just a fledgling democracy that
is going under. In the somewhat longer
term, it is the whole country. But politics
is usually a short-term game, and it can
get quite nasty. Not all the promises
that are being made in Paris will be
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Fisheries Minister of the Maldives signing the 350 declaration during the 2009 underwater cabinet meeting.
Maldives: Politics trumps climate change
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Links Archive December 7th 2015 December 9th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page