Home' Greymouth Star : June 26th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, June 26, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1284 - One hundred and thirty children in
the German city of Hamelin mysteriously
disappear. The reasons behind the event are
obscured by legend, including that of the Pied
Piper, who lured them away in revenge for not
being paid for clearing the town of rats.
1483 - Richard III of England
begins his rule after deposing his
nephew Edward V.
1830 - Death of George IV of
Great Britain, king since 1820.
1959 - St Lawrence Seaway,
connecting North America’s Great
Lakes with the Atlantic, is opened by
Queen Elizabeth II and US President Dwight
1963 - US President John Kennedy visits
West Berlin, where he makes his famous
declaration: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a
1977 - Elvis Presley performs his final
concert at Indianapolis.
2000 - Proclaiming a “historic point in the
100,000-year record of humanity,” scientists
announce the human genetic code has
essentially been deciphered.
2013 - Julia Gillard is toppled by Kevin
Rudd in a leadership vote.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
George Morland, English artist (1763-
1804); Baron William Homson Kelvin,
English physicist (1824-1907); Robert Borden,
Canadian prime minister (1854-1937); Pearl
Buck, US novelist (1892-1973); Wilhelm
Messerschmitt, German aircraft
designer (1898-1978); Eleanor
Parker, US actor (1922-2013);
Georgie Fame, English singer-
musician (1943-); Mick Jones,
British singer of The Clash and
Big Audio Dynamite fame (1955-
); Chris Isaak, US singer (1956-);
Chris O’Donnell, US actor (1970-); Gretchen
Wilson, US country singer (1973-); Ariana
Grande, US singer and actor (1993-).
“ When a diplomat says yes, he means
perhaps; when he says perhaps, he means no;
when he says no, he is no diplomat. ”
“ You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind.” — Matthew 22:37
A further step
towards church unity
will be taken in
at the Holy Trinity Chuch. It will be “a ser vice
for the act of committment to seek a basis of
union and ways of common action” and follows
up a similar ser vice held and televised in
Wellington on May 10.
In Greymouth tomorrow evening four
churches will be taking part. They will be
the Associated Churches of Christ in New
Zealand, the Church of the Province of New
Zealand, the Methodist Church of New
Zealand and the Presbyterian Church of New
On Wednesday, a team of senior socioliogy
studenrs from the University of Canterbury
will arrive in Hokitika to conduct the second
and last stage of a sur vey to measure the effects
on the town of the opening of the Haast Pass
About 200 people will be inter viewed.
Among those chosen will be members of the
business community, representatives of local
bodies and a large number from the general
public. The names and addresses have been
picked at random from the electoral roll of
The Education Department has given the
Canterbury Education Board authority to
call tenders for a new school at Franz Josef to
replace the building gutted by fire on June 8.
The project is being viewed as an emergency
Tenders will be called as soon as plans for
the school are completed. The 26 pupils who
attended school in the old building are at
present having their lessons in the supper room
of the hall at Franz Josef.
uFood for thought
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hortly before 8am on a sunny
spring morning, Mafia boss
Giuseppe Dainotti was cycling
down a quiet street when two
men on a motorbike drew
alongside and shot him three
times, killing him on the spot.
It was a classic mob hit in the heart of the
Sicilian capital. People claimed to have seen
nothing and only one person admitted to
even hearing the gunfire. A month on, no
one has been arrested.
Released from prison in 2014, Dainotti,
67, had served more than two decades in
jail for murder. The motive for his own
murder are not clear but police say the first
high-profile Mafia hit in Palermo since
2010 may signal renewed internal strife.
“The Mafia today is in search of a new
leadership at a time when a lot of the old
bosses are coming out of prison,” said
Palermo police chief, Renato Cortese.
“The danger is that some bigwig will
be released and try to put the Mafia back
together again,” he told Reuters.
Once all-powerful on Sicily, the world’s
most famous crime gang, known as Cosa
Nostra, “O ur Thing”, has been squeezed
over the past two decades, with many
bosses put behind bars, many of its
businesses sequestered and many locals
ready to defy it.
Despite these setbacks, no one believes it
is dying. Indeed, after years of decline, with
the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta overtaking it as
Italy’s most powerful mobsters, prosecutors
believe it is trying to rebuild, starting with
its drug trade.
“The mafia organisation is once again
looking to develop and maintain a total
monopoly on the extremely profitable
narcotics market,” Matteo Frasca, the
head of Palermo’s Appeals Court, said in a
speech in January.
Italian prosecutors say the ‘Ndrangheta
has a stranglehold on cocaine trade, but
Cosa Nostra is a major player in the Italian
hashish market, often importing the
drug from northern Africa and selling it
In March, police found 400kg of hashish,
worth an estimated 3 million euros ($3.4
million), floating just off the Sicilian coast
after a drop-off went awry. In May, police
seized around 300kg of hashish in a single
raid in Palermo.
“For a while, the Mafia depended on
public work scams and extortion rackets for
much of their money, but with the economy
in such a dire straits here, they are returning
to their old drug habits,” said a senior
anti-Mafia magistrate, who declined to be
named because he was not authorised to
Sicily’s economic output fell more than
13% between 2008 and 2015 and is only
slowly recovering, while the jobless rate is
22%, twice the national average.
The deep recession has made it much
more difficult for hard-up businesses
to pay protection money, or “pizzo” in
Italian, to the Mafia and more than 1000
firms have revolted against paying that in
Palermo alone in little more than a decade.
In May, the trial started of nine men
accused of extorting cash from a dozen
stores in the city’s central Via Maqueda,
which were all run by foreigners, mainly
“It is an extraordinary affair. For the
first time in Palermo, a group of foreign
storekeepers rebelled. They rebelled
together. It was a collective action,” said
Daniele Marannano, co-ordinator of
Addiopizzo, “Goodbye pizzo”.
Addiopizzo is a grassroots civic
movement that encourages companies to
fight back against Cosa Nostra.
“ Lots of businesses still pay the pizzo,
but they now want something back from
the Mafia for their money — help fixing
prices in their neighbourhood, help
keeping difficult employees in check, help
collecting unpaid bills,” said Marannano.
A local businessman, who declined to
be named because of the sensitivities
involved, said one of the consequences
of the Mafia’s decline was a rise in petty
He complained that fruit groves operated
by his family food company were regularly
raided at night by small-time thieves.
“That never used to happen in the past. A
fly could not land on a fruit tree without
permission first from the Mafia.”
The State’s fight against the Mafia
only got serious in 1992 after the group
murdered two of Italy’s top magistrates,
Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino,
triggering national outrage and finally
forcing complacent politicians to act.
Successive governments introduced
waves of anti-Mafia laws, allowing the
State to seize mob assets, keep imprisoned
mafiosi incommunicado and far from
Sicily, and develop protection programmes
As a result, hundreds of mafiosi have
been arrested over the past 25 years,
including Salvatore “ Toto” Riina, the
boss of bosses, who ordered the murders
of Falcone and Borsellino. He is 86 and
believed to be terminally ill and likely to
die in jail.
However, many other less prominent
mobsters who were caught up in the big
anti-Mafia trials of the last two decades
have either been freed, like Dainotti, or
else are coming up for release, like Riina’s
nephew Giovanni Grizzaffi.
“The last boss of bosses was Riina. He
was never formally replaced and people
felt kept in check by him, even when he
was in jail. When he dies, you might see a
power struggle,” said police chief Cortese,
who has a photograph of Falcone and
Borsellino hanging in his office.
Dainotti was shot dead on the eve of
the 25th anniversary of Falcone’s killing,
leaving police and politicians wondering
whether the date had been specially picked
to signal that the Mafia was back in action.
Rosario Crocetta, the governor of Sicily
and anti-Mafia crusader, has been the
target of at least three mob plots to kill
him, most recently in 2010. He says the
group is much reduced, but ever evolving.
“They are chameleons,” he said, two
bodyguards standing alongside his table at
an outdoors cafe.
“ You are never going to win total victory
over the Mafia, just as you can never
totally defeat evil.” — Reuters
Sicilian Mafia regrouping
Italian police officers stand on the site where mafia boss Giuseppe Dainotti was shot dead while riding his bicycle in Palermo.
Kevin Lyes, also known as Shorty, was
a true Coaster, a respected family man
committed to caring for and assisting the
people of his Hokitika community.
Kevin left school to work at Stewart ’s
Butchery in Hokitika before taking up
a position as a general hand at Thomas
Brothers Garage and then spent time
working on the Arahura gold dredge.
He later took up contract work crushing
broom on the gold tailings around
Westland, driving a World War Two bren
In 1960 he started a long and rewarding
career as a psychiatric nurse at Seaview
Hospital. For the majority of his career at
Seaview he was a charge nurse working
across the villas, predominantly Weka
and latterly Sefton, where he ran the
rehabilitation programme which helped
support many patients out of hospital to
reintegrate into the community.
Kevin officially retired from Seaview in
2002 but stayed on as a casual registered
nurse in the acute mental health unit
once Seaview closed and the unit was
transferred to Grey Base Hospital. He
finally retired from nursing in 2007.
“There were a number of very unwell
people in hospital, needing skilled
compassionate professional care and Kevin
played his role in making sure patients
were treated with respect and compassion
and skill, no matter the circumstances,”
long-time friend and mental health
colleague Hecta Williams said.
“ Kevin had a great sense of humour and
was just such a wonderful man.”
Outside of work, Kevin was a life
member of the Kiwi Rugby Football Club
and a long-ser ving committee member as
president, treasurer, secretary and patron.
He also held life membership of the
Hokitika RSA and in later years joined
Heritage Hokitika where he indulged
his passion for local history and spent
many hours driving the development and
installation of the information kiosk at the
Hokitika Cemetery to commemorate the
history of Seaview and Westland hospitals.
He earlier helped relocate the old
Notown church to Shantytown.
He enjoyed visiting old West Coast
ghost towns, the outdoors and hunting,
and he also owned and had a passion for
Kevin Lyes is sur vived by his wife of 64
years Emma (nee Reynish), daughter Kay
and sons David, Rex and Andrew.
1932 - 2017
For most Irish people the
most striking thing about
their new prime minister,
Leo Varadkar, is that he
is very young. (At 38, he
is the country’s youngest
leader in history). It is
mainly the foreign press
that goes on about the fact
that he is (a) half-Indian,
and (b) gay.
Varadkar himself, the son of a doctor
from India and a nurse from Ireland
who met while working in a hospital in
southern England, is definitely not keen on
being seen as a symbol of changing public
attitudes: “I’m not a half-Indian politician,
or a doctor politician or a gay politician,
for that matter. It’s just part of who I am. It
doesn’t define me.”
No, it does not, but it is still worth
focusing on for a moment to think about
what it tells us not just about Ireland but
about the west as a whole, and even about
Homosexuality was legalised in England
in 1967, and it was decriminalised in
Canada the following year (when Pierre
Trudeau, then the justice minister, told the
CBC that “there’s no place for the State
in the bedrooms of the nation”). It became
legal in Ireland only a quarter of a century
later, in 1993. But two years ago same-sex
marriage was made legal in Ireland by a
referendum in which 62% of the voters
Well, we already knew that Ireland had
changed. It has lots of immigrants now —
one in every eight people is foreign-born
— and the political power of the Catholic
Church has collapsed. So it is no longer a
surprise that an Indo-Irish gay man can
become prime minister. But what about
The only “immigrants” in Serbia are
ethnic Serbs who were stranded in other
parts of former Yugoslavia after the break-
up. The Serbian Orthodox Church is still
strong, and it has no truck with degenerate
western ideas about human rights. As one
Orthodox monk wrote: “Homosexuality is
not a problem in Serbia. There are hardly
any gay people, and society wouldn’t permit
them to organise or (publicly advocate)
Two-thirds of Serbians think that
homosexuality is an illness, and almost
four-fifths believe that gay people should
stay in the closet. But Ana Brnabic is an
out and proud lesbian, and she has just
been appointed prime minister of Serbia.
She is also of Croatian descent. How has
Brnabic was appointed by Alexandar
Vucic, who was prime minister himself
until he ascended to the presidency in
last month’s election. The prime minister
is constitutionally the most powerful
person in the government, but Brnabic is
a technocrat, not really a politician. It is
widely expected that she will concentrate
on making the trains run on time, so to
speak, and leave the sensitive political
decisions to Vucic.
The general assumption in Serbian
political circles is that Brnabic’s
appointment is window-dressing. Serbia
wants to join the European Union, and
the government would quite like to divert
the EU’s attention from a few little image
problems: Its close ties with Russia,
its hostility to refugees, and rampant
So what could be better than a woman
prime minister (a Serbian first) who is
openly gay (another Serbian first) and
even has foreign antecedents (her father
was born in Croatia)? Why, the Serbs are
even more enlightened than the Irish. We
should make them full members of the EU
as soon as possible.
so what? The EU knows that there was a
considerable amount of calculation behind
Brnabic’s appointment, but it will not
condemn President Alexandar Vucic for
trying to make Serbia look like a suitable
candidate for EU membership.
Lots of ordinary Serbs will be shocked
by this assault on “Serbian values”, but
many of them will understand that it
ser ves the national interest. Little by little,
just because Brnabic is the prime minister,
they will grow less uncomfortable with the
notion of gays — and indeed just women
in general — having a legitimate role in
This is how change really happens: not
sudden enlightenment, but a gradual
acceptance of new rules and values. The
most encouraging take-away from this
little story is that even a man like Vucic,
once an ally of the murderous demagogue
Slobodan Milosevic, understands the new
political and social rules of the west.
They are not yet the new rules
everywhere. Eastern Europe is way behind
western Europe, North America and Latin
America, largely because it spent between
40 and 70 years isolated from the rest of
the world under Communist rule. The
struggle is still intense in parts of Asia, and
it has scarcely begun in most of Africa and
the Muslim world.
Gay rights, feminism, human rights in
general are not really “western” values: 100
years ago the west was just as intolerant of
difference as everybody else. The change
has come to the west earlier mainly
because it is richer, but we are all travelling
on the same train, and the other end will
pull into the station just a little bit later.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Changing views in Ireland, Serbia
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Leo Varadkar speaks to people as he leaves government buildings after being elected
as the next Prime Minister of Ireland.
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