Home' Greymouth Star : April 18th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1775 - Paul Revere rides from Charlestown
to Lexington to warn the Massachusetts
colonists of the arrival of British troops at the
start of the War of American Independence.
1831 - Publication starts of The Sydney
Herald (later The Sydney Morning Herald),
Australia’s oldest still-existing newspaper.
1906 - A giant earthquake strikes San
Francisco. The quake and resulting fires
devastate the city, leaving more than 1000 dead
and 200,000 people homeless.
1909 - 15th-century French
heroine Joan of Arc is beatified at a
ceremony at the Vatican.
1912 - Turkey announces closure of
Dardanelles Straits to shipping.
1927 - Split develops in
Kuomintang Party between Chiang
Kai-Shek and radical elements.
1934 - The first laundromat, the Washeteria,
is opened at Fort Worth, Texas, by J F Cantrell.
1942 - US bombers led by Lieutenant
General James Doolittle attack Tokyo and
other Japanese cities in World War Two.
1948 - A Lockheed Hudson aircraft crashes
at Lae, Papua New Guinea, claiming 37 lives.
1955 - German-born physicist Albert
Einstein dies in Princeton, New Jersey, aged 76.
1968 - London Bridge is sold to American
Robert McCullough for £1 million. It was later
re-erected in Arizona.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Lucrezia Borgia, Italian noblewoman
(1480-1519); Franz von Suppe, Austrian
composer (1819-1895); Leopold Stokowski,
English conductor (1882-1977); Jessie Street,
Australian women’s rights campaigner (1889-
1970); Barbara Hale, US actress
(1922-); Hayley Mills, British
actress (1946-); James Woods, US
actor (1947-); Rick Moranis, US
actor (1953-); Melody Thomas
Scott, US actress of The Young And
The Restless fame (1956-); Eric
Roberts, US actor (1956-); Jane
Leeves, British actor (1961-); Conan
O’Brien, US talk show host (1963-); Melissa
Joan Hart, US actress (1976-); America
Ferrera, US actress (1984-); Rosie Huntington-
Whiteley, British model and actress (1987-);
Jessica Gomes, Australian model (1985-);
Samantha Jade, Australian singer (1987-).
“ Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you
want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
— Abraham Lincoln, former United States
“At daybreak He departed and went into a
deserted place. ” — Luke 4:42
West Coasters are a
breed” have recently
had Dominion and American-wide coverage.
Publicity on West Coast beer drinking habits
has been given in a New Zealand Sunday
newspaper for the second time in recent weeks.
Mike Fletcher, a reporter for the Sunday News,
recently referred to Coast coalminers and
timber workers as tough hard-drinking men.
His second article was headed West
Coast Image in Shambles! — Frothed over
Booze. His story was mainly concerned with
allegations by Baptist minister Rev G Smith
that Greymouth was Godless.
This image of the West Coast could easily
be gained by readers of the Boston Globe
in which recently there appeared a story on
Dave McKenzie’s Boston Marathon bid. In a
description of the West Coast the paper says:
“The area is mainly devoted to coalmining and
timber-milling. They are known throughout
New Zealand as the Coasters and are
characteristically tough, hospitable, genial and
renowned for their beer-drinking capacities.
“ If little Dave wins the marathon in Boston it
will be the biggest excuse for a beer binge the
Coasters have ever known.”
The adequate control of flooding of Sawyers
Creek is still held up by negotiations between
the Westland Catchment Board and the
Greymouth Borough Council though some
progress has been made.
At last night ’s council meeting a petition
was received from over 80 residents of the
Marlborough Street-Sinnott Road area.
The residents pointed to recent incidents of
extensive flooding of houses and properties in
uFood for thought
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The runner who changed the world
Kathrine Switzer defied authorities to run the 1967 Boston Marathon when it was a
men-only event, triggering a revolution in women’s sport. Now, at 70, she ran it again
together with women she has inspired, including RACHEL SMALLEY from the New
t was the word “incident ” that
jumped out at me.
It was May 2013 and I was
hosting TV3’s morning news
programme, Firstline, and
scanning my Twitter feed during a
commercial break when news broke of an
incident at the Boston Marathon.
I felt a surge of adrenalin followed
almost immediately by a sense of
foreboding. I knew what “incident ”
meant. It meant trauma. It is a term news
agencies often use when they are still
trying to determine the facts in a major,
developing news story.
Was it a shooting? Or a bomb? I
snatched another glance at Twitter and
saw a tweet from the Boston Globe saying
there had been two explosions.
For the next three hours we covered the
story. The footage from the finish line
was grim. Two bombs. Three fatalities.
Hundreds injured. Many had lost limbs.
Charred metal. Blood. Clothing strewn
across the road. It was clear this was a
terrorist attack but those responsible were
still at large.
I inter viewed emergency workers,
race officials, politicians, eye-witnesses
and runners, and many with less than a
minute’s notice. Then, as we entered our
third hour of broadcasting, my earpiece
crackled into life again.
“Got her!” my boss said. “ We’ve got
Kathrine Switzer. She’s coming to you in
30 seconds. ”
Switzer. Who was Switzer? I rolled the
name around in my head. I could not place
I typed her name into the search engine.
Of course. Kathrine Switzer had run the
Boston Marathon in 1967 when it was a
men-only event. Officials tried to drag her
from the course and Boston, on some level,
had been linked with Switzer’s name ever
On-air, Switzer was professional. She
had been part of the race commentary
team for five hours and had just returned
to her hotel room when the bombs went
off. She saw the aftermath of the attack
and it showed in her face. She was ashen
and struggled at times to find context in
what she had seen unfold around her.
“I saw it go from a scene of pure joy
and people wearing medals and taking
selfies . . . to a scene of complete and utter
bewilderment and panic.”
She spoke of heavily-armed Swat teams
arriving by truck and men leaping on to
the street, clasping M4s. That was four
years ago, and as I speak to Switzer today,
she is still struggling to accept what
happened in 2013.
“It was as if the city was being hi-jacked .
. . which I guess it was really.”
What Switzer could never have known
was that in 2017, at the age of 70, she
would again run the Boston Marathon.
And as I sat in the Auckland studio
inter viewing her that day, what I could
never have foreseen was that six months
later I would buy my first pair of running
shoes, and I too would be lining up
Kathrine Switzer was 19 and studying
journalism at Syracuse University in New
Yo r k . Th ere was no women’s running team
so she tagged along with the men and
their coach, Arnie Briggs. Briggs was 50
and a veteran of 15 Boston Marathons.
“He used to cajole me through tough
evening sessions by telling me stories of
famous Bostons. I loved listening to them
until this one night when I snapped and
said, ‘Let ’s quit talking about the Boston
Marathon and run the damn thing’.”
“No. ” Briggs said. “ No woman can run
the Boston Marathon.”
“ Why not?” Switzer asked. “ I’m already
running 10 miles a night.”
Briggs said it was a widely accepted
theory that women were too frail to run
such a long distance.
“If any woman can do it, you can,” he
said. “ But you’ll have to prove it to me
first. If you run the distance in practice, I’ll
take you to Boston.”
It was a no-brainer. Three weeks before
the Boston Marathon, Switzer ran the
distance alongside her coach. In fact, she
suggested the 26 mile distance was too
easy, and insisted Briggs run another five
miles with her. He did, and then passed
out at the finish.
The next day, Briggs turned up at
Switzer’s dorm and told her to sign up
for Boston. The only problem was that
technically Switzer could not enter. It
was 1967 and marathons were men-only
events. Switzer devised a plan. She would
enter under the gender-neutral name “K V
Switzer” and Briggs would collect her race
“I didn’t really see myself as a trail-blazer.
I just wanted to run the Boston Marathon.
I always say that capability and talent is
everywhere. You just need an opportunity.
I wanted that opportunity.”
On the morning of the marathon it was
cold. Switzer had planned to run in shorts
and a singlet, but decided to start the race
wearing a grey tracksuit.
“In hindsight, I think that helped me.
That bulky tracksuit meant I didn’t stand
out as a woman. ”
It wasn’t until Switzer got to the two
mile mark that she was spotted by race
official Jock Semple. He charged at
Switzer and tried to grab her official
number and pull her from the course.
“I really was very afraid. Q uite terrified
actually. I ’d never been assaulted before.
Switzer says for a split second she
wanted to cover her face with her hands
and run home. Then her boyfriend blocked
Semple, sending him flying off the course.
Switzer, feeling humiliated and angry, ran
“ I can remember turning to my coach
and saying, ‘I’ve got to finish this race. I
don’t care if I finish it on my hands and
knees, I’ve got to finish it’. ”
Looking back, Switzer says she wonders
how her 20-year-old self made that
decision in the heat of the moment and
when she felt the world was crowding
in on her. “I often say that I started the
Boston Marathon as a girl that day, but I
finished it as a grown woman. And it was
in that moment that the transition took
place. It became the victory that no one
could take away from me. ”
Little did Switzer know, that moment
would change the course of her life and
ultimately trigger a revolution in women’s
running. The photo ran in the Boston
Herald the next day but was picked up
by the world’s media. It would later be
included in Time magazine’s “100 Photos
that Changed the World”.
“The worst things in your life can
sometimes become the best things in your
life, and that was certainly true for me
in Boston. That race gave me a laser-like
Switzer would receive accolades and
condemnation in equal measure but it was
women who were most critical. The hate
mail flooded in.
“ I often say that the only people who
really tried to drive me off the road in
those early days were women. But I knew
if they could only experience running,
they ’d be transformed. I wanted them to
have that opportunity. ”
It was another four years before the
Boston Marathon agreed to accept
registrations from women. Then, in the
1980s, Switzer’s focus switched to the
Olympics. The longest distance open
to women runners was the 1500m and
Switzer wanted the Olympics to include
a women’s marathon. “People think the
women’s marathon has always been part
of the Olympics. It wasn’t, and it didn’t
happen magically. ”
Switzer teamed up with Avon, the
make-up brand, to create a series of global
running events for women.
“There were 400 races in 27 countries
on five continents. Women turned out in
their thousands to run, and the Olympic
Committee couldn’t ignore that.”
In 1984, off the back of some fierce
lobbying, the women’s marathon was
included in the Los Angeles Olympics.
Switzer, who lives in Wellington several
months of the year with her New Zealand
husband Roger Robertson, remains a force
for women runners.
She recently setting up a non-profit “261
Fearless” that aims to empower women
around the world through running. She
came up with the idea after women began
sending her pictures of her 1967 bib, 261.
“They were wearing it on their backs,
inked on their arms, even tattoos. And
I began to ask why is this number so
important to people? And I realised
that everyone in the world can relate to
being told they’re not welcome, or they
don’t belong, or they’re not good enough,
but they do it anyway. And that ’s the
symbolism of 261. It makes women feel
Switzer will be surrounded by a team of
#261 Fearless runners when she takes on
the Boston Marathon course one last time
“ Women are driving the sport now. It ’s
Switzer anticipated feeling a “collision
of emotions” today when she rans
the marathon again — as well as an
over whelming feeling of gratitude.
“Gratitude for being able to consider
running again at the age of 70 and
gratitude for a city that has changed my
life and therefore changed millions of
women’s lives. I’m enormously grateful to
Boston for that.”
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: Getty Images
Flashback 1967: Trainer Jack Semple, in street clothes, enters the field of runners to tr y to pull Kathy Switzer (261) out of the race. Male runners move in to form a protective
curtain around her, until the protesting trainer is finally wedged out of the race.
“The office of the President of the
Reich is unified with the office of the
Chancellor. Consequently all former
powers of the President of the Reich are
demised to the Fuhrer and Chancellor
of the Reich Adolf Hitler. He himself
nominates his substitute. Do you, German
man and German woman, approve of this
regulation provided by this Law?”
Adolf Hitler’s 1934 referendum,
abolishing the office of prime minister
(Chancellor) and concentrating all power
in his own hands, was the final step in
consolidating his control of Germany.
Turkey ’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
who has just won a referendum abolishing
the office of prime minister and
concentrating all power in his own hands,
is not another Hitler, but he is starting to
look like another Putin.
He did not win his referendum by
Hitler’s 88% majority, of course. He did
not even win it by the narrow 52%-
48% majority that decided the United
Kingdom’s Brexit referendum last June.
He only got a hair’s-breadth 51.3% of the
vote, against 48.7% for keeping Turkey ’s
existing parliamentary system. But it is
still a victory, and if Erdogan can go on
winning elections, he could have almost
absolute power in Turkey until 2029.
He can certainly go on winning
elections for a while, because his support
is rock-solid among the half of the
population who felt oppressed by the
secular State created by Ataturk almost
a century ago. His Islamism is the main
source of his political support, and the
devout will go on voting for him no
matter what he does. You almost wonder
why he bothered with this referendum.
He already has almost absolute power
in practice. Since the attempted coup
last July (whose origins are still murky),
the country has been under a state of
emergency. The government controls
almost all the mass media. One hundred
and fifity journalists, 13 members of
parliament and at least 45,000 other
people are under arrest, and upwards of
130,000 — academics, judges, police,
teachers and civil ser vants — have been
fired from their jobs on suspicion of
With those who urged “no” to the
constitutional changes being publicly
denounced as coup-plotters, traitors and
terrorists, it is remarkable that almost
exactly half the population still dared to
vote against Erdogan’s plan. But that does
not really help: Erdogan wanted to have
the law under write his power, and now it
He can dismiss parliament whenever
he likes. He can enact laws by decree.
He can declare a state of emergency.
He can directly appoint senior officials
and judges (handy, given the evidence
of massive corruption in his inner circle
that emerged in 2013). He can be a
democratic leader if he wants, but he
can also be a dictator if he likes. All the
checks and balances are gone.
It is a great pity, for Turkey was turning
into a genuinely democratic country. Five
years ago there was still a free press, civil
liberties were generally respected, the
economy was thriving (highest growth
rate among the G20 countries year after
year), and the country was at peace. Much
of this was at least partly due to Erdogan’s
However, democracy, as Erdogan once
famously said, “is like a train. You get off
once you have reached your destination”.
He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Now
the few remaining free media outlets
are under siege, civil rights are a joke,
the economy has plunged into recession,
and the country is at war. This is mostly
The wars in particular are his own
fault. He re-started a war against the
Kurdish minority in the east to win over
nationalist Turkish voters after he lost an
election in June 2015. (He won the re-
run in November.) He inter vened in the
Syrian civil war and eventually alienated
Islamic State (for whose members he
once left Turkey ’s borders open), so
now both IS and Kurdish terrorists are
attacking Turkish cities.
At least 2000 people have died in the
war against Kurdish separatists in the
past year, and 500 have been killed in
terrorist attacks in the big cities. Ordinary
Turks are shaken by all the violence, and
at least half of them clearly do not buy
Erdogan’s explanation that evil foreigners
who hate Turks are to blame for it all.
Unfortunately the other half, mostly
pious, rural, and/or ill-educated, believes
it all and sees him as the country’s saviour.
Erdogan is unlikely to last until 2029:
The failing economy and the wars will
gradually drag him down. But he has
divided the country so deeply with his
determination to “re-Islamise” Turkey
that an attempt to oust him, even by
democratic means, could easily end in a
civil war. What has happened to Turkey is
a tragedy, and it is hard to see a safe way
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Turkish referendum gives Erdogan absolute power
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
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