Home' Greymouth Star : April 19th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1775 - War of American Independence
opens with defeat of British at Lexington and
1783 - US Congress announces end of War
of American Independence.
1824 - English poet Lord Byron dies of a
fever while aiding Greek rebels fighting the
1850 - The Clayton-Bulwer agreement is
signed by which Britain and the US agree
not to obtain exclusive control of a proposed
1853 - Russia claims protectorate over Turkey
in a prelude to the Crimean War.
1882 - Death of British naturalist
Charles Dar win, who developed the
theory of evolution.
1931 - Plane carrying first load of
England-Australia airmail, crashes
en route from England at Koepang;
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith later
“rescues” the airmail and flies it to
1933 - The United States goes off
the gold standard.
1956 - Prince Rainier of Monaco marries US
film star Grace Kelly.
1966 - First Australian conscripts leave
Sydney to fight in Vietnam.
1971 - Russia launches its Salyut space
station into earth’s orbit.
1995 - A truck bomb destroys a government
building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people
and injuring hundreds.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Edward Pellew, English admiral (1758-1823);
August Wilhelm Iffland, German dramatist
(1759-1814); Jayne Mansfield, US actress
(1932-1967); Dudley Moore, British comedian
and actor (1935-2002); Lindsay Fox, Australian
businessman (1937-); Tim Curry, British actor
(1946-); Paul Reiffel, Australian
cricketer (1966-); Ashley Judd,
US actor (1968-); George Gregan,
Australian rugby union player
(1973-); Jason Gillespie, Australian
cricketer (1975-); James Franco, US
actor (1978-); Kate Hudson, US
actor (1979-); Hayden Christensen,
Canadian actor (1981-); Maria
Sharapova, Russian tennis player (1987-) .
“ We have enough religion to make us hate,
but not enough to make us love one another.”
— Jonathan Swift, English satirist
“ Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my
soul!” — Psalms 146:1
The owner of a fish
and chip business in
Mackay Street, empty
in hand, watched helplessly as his shop was
enveloped in flames and gutted shortly after six
o’clock last evening. Mr Ron Negri, proprietor
of the Norcasa fish and chip shop for just over
12 months, had just lost a battle against the
searing heat of burning boiling fat.
A passerby discovered the fire barely minutes
after it had started and ran down to the
Dominion Hotel to alert the publican and fire
chief Mr G W Nelson who promptly rang the
brigade and then went to the scene of the blaze
Mr Negri, notified before the brigade arrived,
attempted to quell the blaze with a small
fire extinguisher. It had recently been tested.
However, it quickly ran out. “ It was just bad
luck the extinguisher ran out,” commented Mr
Nelson after wards. “ The fire was just being
brought under control.”
This is the second time the shop has been
gutted by fire. It was completely destroyed in
The Grey district is looking for a new Public
Relations Officer. Messrs C R Wylde, the
mayor of Runanga, and Mr W A Harris, a
Greymouth businessman, members of the
PRO board of control, this morning advised
current officer Mr Pat Nailer that his six-
month contract would not be renewed.
Mr Wylde said they were not dropping the
ser vice. Applications would be invited for the
position. Speaking later, Mr Nailer said of the
dismissal: “It ’s a real shock. In my mind you
can say that I was fired.”
He had been given until 4pm today to leave.
uFood for thought
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Brazilians fume over levy to ousted royal heirs
ith its colonial
gardens and ornate
fountains, the town
of Petropolis, a
traditional haunt of Brazil’s last monarch
Dom Pedro II, retains a grandeur that has
not faded since he was forced into exile in
But beneath the opulent surface of
the former summer imperial capital,
resentment simmers against a special tax,
the proceeds of which continue to go
directly to the king’s descendants — more
than a century after he was ousted.
For many of the 300,000 people living
in the hill town, a 2.5% tax on real estate
transactions is a symbol of social injustice
in Latin America’s biggest country where
inequality has widened amid its worst
recession on record.
Brazil is one of the world’s most
unequal places for property distribution
with almost half of the land owned by
1% of the population. Colonial-era laws
exacerbate the problem, analysts said.
“People aren’t happy to pay this tax,”
Isabela Verleun, who works at the Imperial
Museum of Petropolis, said. “It shouldn’t
Petropolis, known as the Imperial City,
is the closest mountain resort to Rio.
Just 65km north-east of Brazil’s second
biggest city, it is a favoured getaway for
Rio residents with its forested hills and
It is well known for its 19th century
architecture and home of the Imperial
Museum, one of Brazil’s most visited
Dom Pedro II and his family spent
summers there after 1845 to escape the
sweltering heat of then capital Rio de
Inside what is now a tourist attraction,
children slide along wooden floors as
adults mar vel at a grand dining room
complete with crystal chandelier.
The town’s special property tax — known
as laudemio — dates back to before
Brazil’s independence in 1882.
The tax was imported to Brazil by its
former colonial master Portugal to ensure
land was passed from European settlers
to their heirs. In colonial years, Brazil’s
land was deemed the property of the
Despite becoming an independent
republic in 1889, the special tax has
never been repealed and is now criticised
for continuing to earn money for a few
“This ancient tax is hereditary and
perpetual,” Vitor Fernandes, a property
law expert at the University of Campinas,
Marco Antonio de Melo Breves, a
senior official with Brazil’s federal tax
department, could not provide figures on
how much revenue is paid annually under
the royal property tax or how much it
costs the average homeowner.
“There is not a unified database where it’s
possible to obtain this,” Breves said.
Payments are generally made through
notaries, or private lawyers who
certify documents, Breves said, so the
government does not have information
on how many royal descendants are
receiving benefits from property
Dom Joao Henrique de Orleans
e Braganca, a businessman and
photographer popularly known as
Prince Bishop Johnny, is the great-great-
grandson of the final monarch, and counts
prominent politicians and artists among
In an inter view with the Brazilian
newspaper Valor, Braganca acknowledged
some resent the royal family’s continued
The prince said he received “very
little money ” from Petropolis under the
special tax, without giving an amount,
but added payments must continue as
they are part of a “legal contract ” in the
A fan of the British television series
The Crown which showcases the hectic
schedules of the British royal family,
Braganca said that he does useful work
“travelling all over Brazil doing talks
in favour of respect for democracy and
The former royal family is not the only
institution to benefit from the laudemio
and a related land tax known as enfiteuse.
The navy and the Catholic Church also
levy similar property taxes, Ely Machado, a
lawyer in Rio de Janeiro who helps clients
navigate Brazil’s complex housing rules,
A lack of clear property ownership and
complex land registration policies are
ongoing problems in Brazil, government
Half the population cannot prove full
legal ownership of their homes, according
to the Ministry of Cities.
While taxing homeowners based
on colonial history may seem archaic,
removing the special land tax would
require a series of complex legal changes,
said Ana Paula Bueno, a lawyer with the
Land Governance Group at the State
University of Campinas.
When Brazil emerged from military
dictatorship and launched a new
constitution in 1988 some people
pushed for the tax to be abolished,
Verleun said, but their lobbying was
“ We have to live with it,” Ana Paula
Bueno said. — Reuters
Once the summer home for Brazil’s rulers, the city of Petropolis 65km north-east of Rio de Janeiro has become a popular tourist
attraction due in part to its restored colonial-era buildings, public squares and gardens.
Ross Brownlee was well respected in
the West Coast timber industry and
was also regarded as the guardian of
Ruru, where he worked in the family-
owned Lake Brunner Sawmill.
Ross, or Rocky as he was also known,
began working at the mill upon leaving
school and over the years became fully
versed in every aspect of the milling
operation. He was the master of his
trade, from the slab pit and tailing
out through to the bush, logging,
sharpening circular saws, workshop
repairs, driving the steam locomotive,
dozers and trucks to eventually
managing the whole milling operation.
“Ross was a very honest and loyal
person,” good friend, neighbour and
workmate Richie Thomas said.
“He was a good man, a very hard
worker and highly skilled. Very
conscientious and a great boss to work
In later years, with the closure of the
Ruru sawmill, Ross worked for Crofts
Transport clearing the road at the Otira
As a community man he was a
member of the Moana Domain Board
and Lake Brunner School committee,
and was also the Marine Department
launch warden at Lake Brunner.
An accomplished pilot, his favourite
pastime was flying planes with his late
friend Jimmy Whitmore.
Ross is sur vived by his wife Wanda,
two sons Tim and Alex, and daughter
Ross Patrick Brownlee
1932 — 2017
Goldrush fever leaves trail of destruction
Tarka Forest (Zimbabwe)
Thousands of unemployed Zimbabweans
have turned to illegal gold panning in a
bid to sur vive the country’s deteriorating
economy, leaving a trail of destruction that
has alarmed farmers, timber plantation
owners and the country’s environmental
Peasant miners have set up makeshift
mines on farmland and timber plantations
in the country’s eastern provinces, which
border Mozambique where gold fetches a
Deep tunnels have been dug beneath
roads, railways and buildings in the
Kwekwe area of the Midlands province.
In some parts of Manicaland province,
water ways have been diverted and roads
With more illegal miners likely to exploit
the area as the economy continues to
slump, and the State placing responsibility
to act on landowners, farmers are fearful of
irreversible damage to their land, and the
risk of losing their livelihoods.
“Kwekwe is under siege from illegal
miners and some of these miners are
very violent. We don’t know what to do,”
resident Jonas Dube said.
Simon Simango, an illegal gold miner
in Chimanimani, Manicaland province,
acknowledged that the excavations
were having a negative impact on the
But many workers had run out of
options, he said.
“This (illegal mining) is our only source
of livelihood. Look, there are no jobs in
the country,” Simango said.
“ We sell most of our gold to illegal
buyers from Mozambique who are
offering us very good prices.”
Miners report that buyers in Zimbabwe
paid about $30 per gram of gold while
buyers in Mozambique were paying,
double at about $60 per gram.
Zimbabwe has never fully recovered
from an economic slump that began in
2000 with the violent seizure of thousands
of white-owned farms. Unemployment
runs at 80%, and even those with jobs face
unpaid wages and an acute shortage of
There is no official data on the number of
illegal miners in Zimbabwe.
However, a report by the United Nations
Industrial Development Organization
estimated that between 2007 and 2012,
some 500,000 illegal, artisanal gold miners
were operating in the country.
Experts believe these numbers could
grow as the economy continues to falter.
In Tarka Forest, a timber estate owned by
Allied Timbers in Chimanimani district,
more than 600ha of prime timber have
been damaged to make way for the illegal
digs, according to company executives.
Manicaland’s minister of provincial
affairs, Mandi Chimene, said in February
that illegal gold mining in Tarka Forest
had reached “alarming levels”, and resulted
in the pollution of streams and rivers, and
destruction of standing timber.
“ What is happening in Tarka (Forest)
is shocking,” Chimene said. “ We wonder
who is benefiting from the illegal gold
because as a country, we are not. Such gold
is not going to the legal market. ”
The government says it is the
responsibility of landowners or affected
businesses to evict the illegal miners.
“ If it’s a forest plantation, it is the
responsibility of the timber companies to
remove the illegal miners,” Minister for
Mines and Mining Development Walter
“ If an area belongs to the timber
plantations, the government cannot
legalise goldmining in the area. The
companies must put measures in to stop
illegal mining in their plantations.”
The same rule applies to illegal miners on
privately-owned farmland, he said.
Darlington D uwa, chief executive of the
Timber Producers Federation, warned
of lasting damage as a result of the
disappearing forests and water pollution
caused by illegal mining.
“ It (illegal mining) reduces the timber
resource, thus affecting direct and indirect
employment, economic development,
foreign currency earnings and leads to
environmental degradation and reduced
resilience to climate change effects,” D uwa
“ In some areas illegal miners (settlers)
uproot young trees that have been
planted,” D uwa said. “At this rate, the
industry is bound to suffer irreversible
damage.” — Reuters
‘We want to learn’
Iraqi schoolgirl Manar Mahmoud is
eager to resume classes after years of life
under Islamic State in Mosul, ignoring the
nearby rattle of artillery fire.
The 13-year-old is back at her old school
in the eastern part of the city, which Iraqi
forces recaptured from the Sunni Muslim
militants in January.
Within earshot, fighting is still raging.
Just across the River Tigris, government
troops, artillery and aircraft are attacking
Islamic State’s last stronghold in the Old
City in western Mosul.
But with the first new textbooks having
arrived last week, teachers are wasting
no time restarting classes. The girls have
years of catching-up to do: most of them
stopped going to school after the militants
overran Mosul in June 2014.
“We want tolearn,we do not wanttobe
ignorant,” said Manar, assembling in the
courtyard with other girls before classes.
The militants had forced the teachers to
continue working but most parents pulled
out their children, fearing they would be
brainwashed with an extreme version of
“They were bad. They used to teach us
about jihad (holy war), how to fight,” said
Manar, wearing the school uniform with
a white veil. “O ur families prevented us
from coming to school.”
With little interest in girls’ education,
the militants quickly gave up, closing the
school but not destroying it as they did
with other public buildings.
They searched the library and teachers’
rooms, stripping them of valuables and
removing books they disapproved of. A
room full of Arabic-language teaching
books sur vived — the militants had tried
to shoot open the lock but gave up.
In another room are new books on
subjects like English and Biology that
were halted by IS.
The pupils are keen. “ I’m very happy,”
eight-year old Sara Umar said. “ It ’s better
to go to school in the morning instead of
staying at home. ”
The biggest challenge is that the 150
girls enrolled at the school have different
knowledge levels after missing almost
three years of education.
“ We have to put girls of different ages
and knowledge in one class which creates
many problems,” the director of the school
said. “ We are seeking more guidance from
the ministry of education but not a single
official has visited us yet.”
With Islamic State just gone and the
front line a few blocks away, she and
some other teachers asked not to be
named, unsure what the future may
The teachers all work for free as the
government has not yet resumed paying
“The school has no running water
and electricity,” said teacher Umm
Mohammed, standing in front of her
packed classroom. “God willing, we
will try to help the children and the
pupils forget the suffering they have
experienced. ” — Reuters
Iraqi girls back at school after years under Islamic State
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