Home' Greymouth Star : November 29th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, November 29, 2013
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 Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly.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 o ensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
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uLetters to the editor
1580 - Sir Francis Drake returns to England
from circumnavigating the globe.
1929 - US Navy Lieutenant Richard E Byrd
radios that he has made rst aircraft ight over
1958 - Eleven more people are
sentenced to death for their part in
Nigerian political riots in March
bringing the number up to 48.
1961 - Enos the chimp is launched
from Cape Canaveral aboard the
Mercury-Atlas 5 spacecraft, which
orbits Earth twice before returning.
1963 - US President Lyndon Johnson names
a commission headed by Earl Warren to
investigate the assassination of President John
1979 - Death of Canadian-born silent screen
star Mary Pickford.
1981 - US actress Natalie Wood drowns after
a yacht party.
1986 - Death of British-born lm star Cary
1989 - Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci
ees to Hungary..
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Louisa May Alcott, US author (1832-1888);
Jacques Chirac, French politician
(1932-); Brian Cadd, Australian
composer (1946-); Jackie French,
Australian children's author (1953-);
Steve Rogers, Australian rugby
league player (1954-2006); Kim
Delaney, US actress (1961-); Tom
Sizemore, US actor (1961-); Don
Cheadle, US actor (1964-); Ryan
Giggs, Welsh footballer (1973-).
"A conference is a meeting to decide where
the next meeting will take place."
"A centurion there had a slave whom he
valued highly, and who was ill and close to
death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent
some Jewish elders to Him, asking Him to
come and heal his slave." --- (Luke 7:2-3).
e death occurred
yesterday of Mr John
Blanch eld, a pioneer
storekeeper of Globe Hill, Reefton. He was
90. Mr Blanch eld was born at Dunganville,
Maori Creek. His late parents were pioneer
settlers in Westland in the heyday of the
As a young man he was general storekeeper
in the now ghost town of Globe Hill, where
the biggest quartz mine on the West Coast
operated. He had spent some years at Nelson
Creek on gold dredges during the rst
dredging boom before the turn of the century.
In later years Mr Blanch eld was in the
timbermilling industry at Kapitea, retiring 25
years ago. For the past two years he had resided
Mr Blanch eld was not married and
is survived by two sisters, Mrs E Kidd
(Blackball) and Mrs M Kennedy (Ruru). Mr P
Blanch eld, the MP for Westland, is a nephew.
e total destruction of the Rimu post o ce
was averted after the Hokitika Volunteer Fire
Brigade made a ve-mile dash to the blazing
building at 9.40pm on Tuesday. e eight-
roomed wooden building with living quarters
attached has an historical connection with
early goldmining days.
e rear portion of the building was gutted
but the front was damaged only by smoke
and water. A nearby resident, Mr Gilbert
Northcroft, aided the brigade when he opened
a dam gate which sent water down a race near
the post o ce.
e brigade was able to put this source to
good use. e re took more than an hour to
extinguish. e post o ce operated as usual
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
When he was agitating
Syrians to rise up
Abdullah dreaded the midnight knock at
the door from the secret police.
Now that the uprising has succeeded
in his home town near Aleppo, pro-
democracy activists are living in fear again
--- and this time those who brand them
"traitor" do not bother to knock.
Two years ago, after Abdullah broke o
his studies to run social media campaigns
against Assad, he was held and tortured
by security men. is summer, it happened
again --- only now it was Islamist gunmen
loyal to al Qaeda who smashed into his
family's house, broke everything in their
way and took him o to a cell where, once
more, he was blindfolded and beaten.
" e sad thing is that those who were
doing this were not Assad's police,"
Abdullah told Reuters from Turkey, where
he managed to ee after his latest ordeal.
" ey were ghters who were supposed to
be ghting for freedom, our freedom.
"Back then they called me 'traitor' for
demanding freedom. ese armed men
also tortured me for calling for freedom."
His story is increasingly familiar across
northern Syria, where Assad's government
has ceded territory to a bewildering
array of rival militias. e rising power
is militant Islam and men who see
democracy as the work of the devil, or the
west, a system contrary to their hopes for a
state ruled by religion.
Abdullah's experience also highlights the
fragmentation of Syria's opposition, which
greatly complicates new international
e orts to end a civil war that has killed
Reuters spoke to 19 Syrians who
describe themselves as activists for
democracy. All gave similar accounts of
violence and intimidation by militant
Islamists in northern areas no longer
controlled by Assad's "mukhabarat"
security ser vices.
Most were students when Syria's Arab
Spring protests began in March 2011. All
got involved in publicising demonstrations
--- and documenting Assad's crackdown
on them --- using social media. ey went
on, as self-taught journalists, to provide
images and reports for Syrians and
international media as the war spread.
Some, like Abdullah, have now had to
ee for their lives.
ey, and those still inside Syria, say
Islamist militants have begun a campaign
to silence them and free speech in general.
Last month, two media activists were
shot dead in broad daylight in Aleppo,
Syria's biggest city. Some have been seized
and are being held. Others have simply
In particular, those who spoke recounted
the fear spread by the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant (ISIL). e al Qaeda-
linked group, dominated by foreigners
blooded in other wars, from Libya to Iraq
and Afghanistan, does not tolerate critics.
"It is impossible for me to go to Syria
now. I am wanted by the regime and by al
Qaeda," said Rami Jarrah, who ran a radio
station in the city of Raqqa until early
October, when ISIL gunmen shut it down
and took away one of his colleagues.
Now living in Turkey, from where
Radio ANA continues to broadcast into
Syria, Jarrah won early fame among
"media activists" in 2011, employing the
English of his British education to forge
an international reputation blogging
from Damascus, where foreign news
organisations had little access.
When a pen-name --- "Alexander Page"
--- failed to shield his identity, he ed the
country but returned later to "liberated"
northern Syria, where he helped set up
broadcasting in Raqqa.
e station's mistake, he said, was to
open its airwaves to phone-in callers
venting grievances against the Islamists:
"People were calling in and saying ISIL
did this and did that. ' ey closed my
shop' or 'attacked my wife and forced the
hijab on her'," Jarrah said. e militants,
online themselves, accused him of
"atheism" and put a price on his head.
Journalists have long faced suspicion and
harassment from rebels, gunmen forcing
them to stop lming, sometimes seizing
equipment or raiding apartments and cafes
where they have set up "media centres" to
share and distribute videos and reports.
But in recent months, events have taken
a more sinister turn. Several of those
working in Aleppo have gone missing. In
some cases, their bodies have been found
--- tortured, shot and left on the street.
Friends and relatives of others have been
told by militants that the activists have
Hazem Dakel, from Idlib, described
what that could mean.
Now also living in Turkey, his ordeal
began when two men on a motorbike
forced his car to a halt after he had been
lming in an area run by ISIL. Held in
a house, they accused him of "opposing
Islam". He was lucky, and escaped through
If he had any doubt what would have
happened had he stayed, a call from one of
his captors to an acquaintance still in Syria
has since removed it: " ey were planning
to execute me on the night I escaped,"
Dakel said. " ey were going to take me
to a notorious abandoned factory where
they execute people."
e militant Islamists have won respect
among Syrians in the north, partly by their
ghting mettle, party by imposing order
where feuding among rival rebel warlords
had broken out, partly by ensuring
supplies of food and medicines. But for
democratic activists, that does not excuse
"Our problem with them is ideological,"
said Jarrah. " ey want to force their
ideology without asking our opinion.
" e regime deprived us of freedom
of expression and they are doing the
same," he added. "Anyone liberal --- or
not Islamic enough according to their
standards --- is getting arrested. ey want
all local radios to broadcast from a centre
Jarrah said he knows of at least 60
activists who have been detained by al
Qaeda gunmen or have simply gone
One man still living in rebel-controlled
territory near the central city of Hama
described the fear that still forces him to
conceal his identity --- as he did when
Assad held the area.
"I live in a liberated country area near
Hama and I walk around looking over my
shoulder all the time," he said. "It is like
we are back to the old days when we were
running from the mukhabarat. But now we
are running from our Islamist brothers."
ough he himself favours an Islamic
state, the activist said that his on-line
condemnations of sectarian killings of
civilians who belonged to Assad's Alawite
minority prompted warnings from Islamist
militants that he should keep quiet.
Like the government's security service,
Islamist groups keep a close eye on what
activists are saying on the Web.
" ey know everything," an activist
from Deir al-Zor said. "One word can
get you killed or make you disappear ...
ey look for our names, what we said to
this newspaper or to that magazine. ey
watch us like hawks. And then they act."
Rami Jarrah and others were publicly
condemned in an on-line post under the
headline: "Western agents in Raqqa, or
democracy activists? In religious terms, is
there much di erence?"
In the middle of a civil war that shows
little sign of abating despite international
plans for a peace conference in January,
Syrians have limited means to oppose the
Jarrah said those who campaigned for
free speech must bear some blame for
their predicament: "We used to say 'It's
okay, they believe in God and ght on the
frontlines'," he said.
"So we ignored their atrocities."
Abdullah, the activist who ed Aleppo
province, argued that the experience of
standing up to the Assad family after four
decades of submission would mean Syrians
may more quickly break the new "barrier of
fear" to speak up against al Qaeda.
ere have been signs of anti-Islamist
Some people lmed themselves
marching this month outside a building
in Aleppo where they believed ISIL was
holding fellow activists. A video on You
Tube shows about 30 of them chanting:
"Shame! Shame! Kidnapped in free, rebel
But, just as Assad accuses his opponents
of playing stooges to foreign powers,
militant Islamists in Syria say they will not
heed complaints from activists they also
view as traitors.
One Syrian blogger who is close to
another al Qaeda-linked group, al-Nusra
Front, dismissed accounts of oppression
and intimidation from democratic activists
as exaggerated and intended to "please the
west" by slandering Islamists.
" ose who accuse Islamists of
violations," he said, "Are following a
western agenda." --- Reuters
Syrians fear al Qaeda
A ghter from Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra inspects a resident's identi cation papers at a checkpoint in Aleppo's
Coasters or greenies?
Many West Coast residents will be
surprised at the inference that they can
either be concerned about protecting
the natural environment or they can be
a 'Coaster', but not both --- according to
your recent front page headline ('Plan puts
Coasters before greenies', Greymouth Star,
e region very much needs job
opportunities, and it is good that this
should concern the West Coast Regional
Council --- so long as its 'bottom line'
remains the protection under law of the
environment on which truly sustainable
social development depends.
As for the so-called 'Bathurst debacle',
the West Coast's own conservation
board concurred with other groups and
individuals, both on and o the West
Coast that the environmental cost was too
Even the Environment Court, which
ultimately approved the project, admitted
that the issue was ' nely balanced' and
the original consent was granted with
'considerable reservations and anguish'.
With the current hoop-la surrounding
the opening of the Amethyst power
scheme you could be fooled into thinking
that Westpower could do no wrong.
Be warned: eir next plan is to do a
similar scheme on the Waitaha River,
taking water from the top of the Morgan
Gorge, through a tunnel to a power
generation building further downstream.
You may say "Great --- more jobs
and more locally produced power" ---
but unless you have stood above and
gazed down into the awe-inspiring
Morgan Gorge canyon, gouged out over
thousands of years, please do not make
Do not be misguided by the Westpower
Waitaha website, which compares it to
the Amethyst as having a small footprint.
e Morgan Gorge is a pristine area of
supreme beauty and should remain so,
and I am sure that the blue ducks that
live there would agree.
e word Waitaha can be broken down
into: wai = water, and taha = beside.
Sitting beside this river canyon is nothing
short of magical and I urge everyone to
do it. Unfortunately, the new DOC track
on the northern side completely misses
this view, except crossing the swingbridge
at the breathtaking head of the gorge ---
where a concrete weir is planned.
e name Morgan also relates to
water. One interpretation: 'beautiful
but dangerous' is apt. Take the 'wai'
out of Waitaha and the name becomes
meaningless. Tamper with the ow in
the gorge, and Morgan will never be the
Shark n cruelty
I am glad you put the shark nning issue
in the paper.
I think they should put themselves in the
sharks' shoes, well ns actually.
Anyway, how would they like it if they
were cut up and dumped in the sea?
ank you for your time.
James Smith, 11
I read in the Greymouth Star where
West Coast DHB chief executive David
Meates said the emergency department at
Grey Base Hospital consistently topped
the country's 20 district health boards for
What a record to be proud of, and it is
one that they will never relinquish, as the
rst question they always ask before they
even assess the patient is: 'have you got
anyone to take you home?'
While John Key claims the GCSB Act
is within the New Zealand law, that only
happened after the Government changed
it to make what was illegal now legal, as
the Kim Dotcom case proved. en, John
Key says he can not really comment on
issues of national security in general when
questioned about what the USA's National
Security Agency (NSA) gets up to here.
It should be obvious what happens, so
here is what I think. All these agencies
share information with each other and
work globally, within reason, so what can
not be done legally within New Zealand
by a New Zealand agency I bet the
NSA does for him and then shares that
information with the GCSB after wards.
John Key has no responsibility for what
the NSA does even within New Zealand,
so therefore that creates "plausible
deniability" for him should it all go wrong
and the NSA gets caught. I am sure our
GCSB would do the same for the USA,
as well as any of the other networks of spy
agencies or partners --- in the name of
terrorism, of course.
We can only ever have John Key's word
on what the GCSB really does, for all it
is worth. Come election time I bet the
GCSB help out John Key by keeping an
eye on Labour, the Greens and NZ First
election campaigns and give him advanced
warning of their strategies.
I write in support of Te Nikau Resort in
Punakaiki for its innovation in providing
unique accommodation for tourists. After
staying two nights in peace, privacy and
tranquility in among the ferns and nikau
palms I was surprised to learn the place
was full of tourists both nights.
I felt shock when I read the news
headlines by your paper dated Wednesday,
October 23 'Boozing tourists a worry at
Paparoa'. I felt this article did not re ect
the high esteem in which this tourist
destination is held throughout the world.
It did not re ect the positive experiences
we had over the weekend staying there.
Many of these tourists travel by small
buses. ey leave footprints and take
photos. Unlike some freedom tourists who
travel by other means and litter, of which
you have little control.
My roots are on the Coast. I work in
tourism and also own unique tourist
accommodation. e natural beauty of
the West Coast especially the Punakaiki
area, is your strength and is re ected
in the demand for Te Nikau type
accommodation. Support Te Nikau and
embrace these extra tourists. eir positive
experiences are the best advertising you
e concerns about 'boozing tourists' were
raised directly by neighbours in the public
resource consents process, concerned that the
expanded resort was targeting the youth
backpacker market on Stray buses.
You would think it would be easy for
the Health Department to answer basic
questions about uoride. I raise this as
uoridation is in the news again.
So, using the O cial Information Act,
I asked the Health Department just two
questions. Firstly, what does the Health
Department claim uoridation does for
Secondly, advise me of the scienti c
evidence to support these claims. List
all the evidence from reputable scienti c
I think every New Zealander would like
to see those questions answered.
e Health Department has failed to
supply this information after two attempts
by me to obtain it.
I invite the investigative journalists of
New Zealand to demand this information,
if it exists, on behalf of their readers.
And, to quote Justice Mahon: Be
prepared for an 'orchestrated litany of lies'.
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