Home' Greymouth Star : April 29th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, April 29, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1587 - English admiral Sir Francis Drake
enters Cadiz harbour and sinks the Spanish
fleet, an action he referred to “as singeing the
king of Spain’s beard”.
1770 - British navigator Captain James Cook,
aboard the Endeavour, lands at Botany Bay
(originally named Stingray Bay) in Australia.
1916 - The Easter Rising in Dublin collapses
as Irish nationalists surrender to British
1944 - US forces attack Truk in the Caroline
Islands, dropping over 800 tonnes of bombs.
1945 - Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler
marries Eva Braun in a Berlin
bunker, and designates Admiral Karl
Doenitz his successor.
1965 - Prime Minister Robert
Menzies announces Australia will
send an infantry battalion to Vietnam.
1975 - In the closing hours of the
Vietnam War, United States task
force evacuates foreigners and Vietnamese by
helicopter from Saigon.
1980 - British-born film director Sir Alfred
Hitchcock dies, aged 80.
1981 - Truck driver Peter Sutcliffe admits in
a London court to being the Yorkshire Ripper,
killer of 13 women in northern England.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Arbuthnot, English physicist-satirist
(1667-1745); Arthur Wellesley, first Duke
of Wellington, English soldier and politician
(1769-1852); William Randolph Hearst, US
publisher (1863-1951); Margaret Preston,
Australian artist (1875-1963); Sir Thomas
Beecham, English conductor
(1879-1961); Duke Ellington, US
band leader (1899-1974); Japan’s
Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989);
Fred Zinnemann, Austrian-born
film director (1907-1997); Peter
Sculthorpe, Australian composer
(1929-2014); Lonnie Donegan,
Scottish entertainer (1931-2002);
Willie Nelson, US singer (1933-); Bernie
Madoff, American investor and fraudster
(1938-); Phillip Noyce, Australian film
director (1950-); Jerry Seinfeld, US comedian
(1954-); Daniel Day-Lewis, British actor
(1957-); Michelle Pfeiffer, US actor (1958-);
Andre Agassi, US tennis player (1970-); Uma
Thurman, US actor (1970-).
“ If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is
still a foolish thing. ” — Anatole France, French
author and critic (1844-1924).
“ For He is our God, and we are the people of
His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. O that
today you would listen to His voice!”
— Psalms 95:7
“ I was very pleased
to win in the
— it was a great thrill
winning for the Coast,” Dave McKenzie told
about 1000 of his fellow citizens at a civic
reception outside the Greymouth Borough
Council chambers this morning. McKenzie
spoke of his worried reaction to the Boston
snow and of how he felt when seeing over 600
runners of several nations being massaged for
what is regarded by many as the most famous
marathon in the world.
In conclusion he thanked the people of
Westland for their suppprt of athletics which,
he said, assisted greatly in both his and Eddie
Gray’s climb to the top.
Greymouth Mayor Dr B M Dallas said he
had had no doubt McKenzie would win the
Boston Marathon but considered his time and
winning margin was “fantastic ”.
After McKenzie’s address, Eddie Gray
thanked the public for its support and spoke
of the different attitudes of many people to
long-distance running. “ Five years ago we were
looked down upon by many as a pack of hacks,”
grinned Gray. “ Happily, it is a different story
Holy Trinity Church, Greymouth, will
celebrate its centenary from Friday, July 28 to
Sunday, July 30. The Bishop of Nelson Rt Rev
P E Sutton will be in attendance throughout
the celebrations, as will the Venerable Paul
Kirkham, the only former vicar of Greymouth
The celebrations will begin with a get-togther
on Friday night and conclude on Sunday with
church ser vices in which the bishop will be
sharing, followed by supper at 8.20pm.
uFood for thought
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03 755 8422
So much for the populist wave
In his victory speech on Sunday night
Emmanuel Macron, the next president
of France, said: “I want to become . . . the
president of the patriots in the face of the
threat from the nationalists.”
The distinction would be lost on most
Trump supporters in the United States
and on the “Little Englanders” who voted
for Brexit in Britain, but it is absolutely
clear to the French, and indeed to most
In the US the preferred word is
“patriot ”, but it usually just means
“nationalist ”, with flags flaunted and
slogans chanted. “America First ” says
Trump, and the crowd replies “USA all
You cannot imagine a British election
rally doing that — the United Kingdom
is too close to mainland Europe, where
that sort of thing ended very badly —
but the English nationalism behind
Brexit was painfully obvious. For some
in both countries it is actually “white
nationalism”, but even the many non-
racists who voted for Trump or Brexit
draw the line at the border or the water’s
edge. There is “ us”, and on the far side
there is “them”.
The French men and women who voted
for Macron understand the difference
between patriotism and nationalism very
well. They will have to vote for Macron
again in the run-off election on May 7,
when his opponent will be the neo-fascist
candidate, Marine Le Pen, but in that
round they will be joined by almost all the
people who voted for other presidential
candidates in the first round. She is a
nationalist; they are patriots.
In Europe, nationalism is linked in the
collective memory with the catastrophe
of the last century’s great wars, and the
racism that is often associated with it
triggers images of Nazi extermination
camps. Not all Europeans are immune
to that kind of nationalism or political
phenomena like Le Pen in France, Geert
Wilders in the Netherlands and Beppo
Grillo in Italy could not exist, but they
remain a minority almost everywhere.
That was not obvious four months
ago. After the Brexit vote last June and
Trump’s election in November, Europe’s
ultra-nationalists were convinced that
their moment had finally come — and
many obser vers feared they were right.
Brexit seemed like the first step towards
the break-up of the European Union, and
from the Netherlands to Austria it felt
like the fascists were at the door.
Not so. Wilders’s party gained only
a few seats in last month’s Dutch
election and remains very much a
minority taste. Marine Le Pen is no
closer to the French presidency than her
openly fascist father was 15 years ago;
the National Front vote never breaks
through the 25% ceiling. The hard-right,
anti-immigrant, anti-EU “Alternative
for Germany ” party has lost its leader
and one-third of its popular support in
the past month.
Some of this is simply disillusionment.
Significant numbers of Europeans were
initially tempted to back local populist
parties by the sheer flamboyance of
Trump’s US electoral campaign. After all,
Europeans also worry about immigration
and terrorism and unemployment, and
his rude and crude rhetoric seemed to
validate the similar language of their own
But the reality of the dysfunctional
Trump White House has turned off
most of those recent European converts
to populist politics. By and large the
hard-right parti es of Europe are back
where they were before The Donald burst
upon the scene, with almost no chance of
gaining real political power. It was a false
The “populist wave” that seemed to
be sweeping through western politics
turns out to be merely a storm in the
much smaller teacup known as the
“Anglosphere”. It is only known this
way to Europeans, who use the word,
often tinged with contempt, to describe
the deregulated economies and market-
obsessed politics of the post-Reagan
United States and post-Thatcher United
Kingdom. (Australia occasionally gets an
honourable mention too).
For a quarter of a century the politics
of the Anglosphere has been consistently
subser vient to “the market ” even when
purportedly left-wing leaders like Bill
Clinton and Tony Blair were in power.
The result, as you would expect, has been
somewhat higher economic growth rates,
and a rapidly widening gulf between the
incomes of the rich and the rest.
The rest of the west has not been
immune to this political fashion, but
it has been far less prominent in the
countries of the European Union (and
even in deviant Anglophone countries
like Canada and New Zealand). Now
the disparity in incomes between the 1%
and the 99% has grown so great in the
heartlands of the Anglosphere that the
political chickens are coming home to
The response in both the US and the
UK is not real populism, which for
all its faults does at least try to shrink
income inequalities. It is standard right-
wing politics in a populist style, using
nationalism to distract the victims from
the fact that these governments actually
ser ve the rich.
Move along, please. There is nothing
new to see here.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Losing the lingo
Technology threatens Icelandic native tongue
hen an Icelander
arrives at an office
building and sees
they need no further
explanation for the
empty premises: The word means “ when
staff get an unexpected afternoon off to
enjoy good weather. ”
The people of this rugged North Atlantic
island settled by Norsemen some 1100
years ago have a unique dialect of Old
Norse that has adapted to life at the edge
of the Artic.
Hundslappadrifa, for example, means
“ heavy snowfall with large flakes occurring
in calm wind.”
But the revered Icelandic language, seen
by many as a source of identity and pride,
is being undermined by the widespread
use of English, both for mass tourism
and in the voice-controlled artificial
intelligence devices coming into vogue.
Linguistics experts, studying the
future of a language spoken by fewer
than 400,000 people in an increasingly
globalised world, wonder if this is the
beginning of the end for the Icelandic
Former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir
said Iceland must take steps to protect its
language. She is particularly concerned
that programmes be developed so the
language can be easily used in digital
“Other wise, Icelandic will end in the
Latin bin,” she warned.
Teachers are already sensing a change
among students in the scope of their
Icelandic vocabulary and reading
Anna Jonsdottir, a teaching consultant,
said she often hears teenagers speak
English among themselves when she visits
schools in Reykjavik, the capital.
She said 15-year-old students are no
longer assigned a volume from the Sagas
of Icelanders, the medieval literature
chronicling the early settlers of Iceland.
Icelanders have long prided themselves of
being able to fluently read the epic tales
originally penned on calfskin.
Most high schools are also waiting
until senior year to read author Halldor
Laxness, the 1955 winner of the Nobel
Prize in literature, who rests in a small
cemetery near his farm in West Iceland.
A number of factors combine to make
the future of the Icelandic language
uncertain. Tourism has exploded in recent
years, becoming the country’s single
biggest employer, and analysts at Arion
Bank say one in two new jobs is being
filled by foreign labour.
That is increasing the use of English as a
universal communicator and diminishing
the role of Icelandic, experts say.
“The less useful Icelandic becomes
in people’s daily life, the closer we as a
nation get to the threshold of giving up
its use,” Eirikur Rognvaldsson, a language
professor at the University of Iceland, said.
He has embarked on a three-year study
of 5000 people that will be the largest
inquiry ever into the use of the language.
“Preliminary studies suggest children
at their first-language acquisition are
increasingly not exposed to enough
Icelandic to foster a strong base for later
years,” he said.
Concerns for the Icelandic language
are by no means new. In the 19th
century, when its vocabulary and syntax
were heavily influenced by Danish,
independence movements fought to
revive Icelandic as the common tongue,
central to the claim that Icelanders were
Since Iceland became fully independent
from Denmark in 1944, its presidents have
long championed the need to protect the
Asgeir Jonsson, an economics professor
at the University of Iceland, said without a
unique language Iceland could experience
a brain drain, particularly among certain
“A British town with a population the
size of Iceland has far fewer scientists
and artists, for example,” he said. “ They’ve
simply moved to the metropolis.”
The problem is compounded because
many new computer devices are designed
to recognise English but they do not
“ Not being able to speak Icelandic to
voice-activated fridges, interactive robots
and similar devices would be yet another
lost field,” Jonsson said.
Icelandic ranks among the weakest
and least-supported language in terms
of digital technology — along with
Irish Gaelic, Latvian, Maltese and
Lithuanian — according to a report by the
Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance
assessing 30 European languages.
Iceland’s Ministry of Education
estimates about one billion Icelandic
krona, or $8.8 million, is needed for seed
funding for an open-access database to
help tech developers adapt Icelandic as a
Svandis Svavarsdottir, a member of
Iceland’s parliament for the Left-Green
Movement, said the government should
not be weighing costs when the nation’s
cultural heritage is at stake.
“ If we wait, it may already be too late,”
she said. — AP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.
I am a great lover of nature and enjoy
getting out on the tracks, on the hills and
in the bush.
These excursions never fail to remind
me of how great and loving our God is to
have created so much beauty and such a
wide variety of plant life and creatures.
When visiting a cousin who worked in
Hong Kong I would explore the various
tracks on the hills above their home until I
heard that there could be snakes there.
I began to wonder why a loving God
created such frightening dangerous things.
But then I remembered the story of Adam
and Eve and the whole creation story and
how everything God created was good.
Then what happened?
Man in his pride and wilfulness
disobeyed God and sin entered the
world, and God, to help man realise the
consequences of sin, has allowed all nature
to be affected.
Like me, you probably wonder how
beautiful this earth would have been
before the fall.
Instead of blaming God for the
imperfections we see around us we should
thank Him that He has allowed such
things to help us realise the ugliness and
the consequences of disobedience, and
take courage that one day He will restore
everything to its perfect state.
The little beauty we see around us now
is just a foretaste of what it will be like —
heaven on Earth.
R E Honey
Reefton Union Church
Earth’s beauty a foretaste of heaven
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