Home' Greymouth Star : December 5th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
Pedals versus horsepower, two wheels
against four: cycling has the upper hand in
Europe with bike sales now outpedalling
car sales across the old continent, from
Rome to Copenhagen.
More bicycles were sold than cars last
year in 26 of the European Union's 28
members, the exceptions being Belgium
and Luxembourg, according to data from
the cycle industry body Coliped and the
auto industry association ACEA.
Car sales have been slumping since the
start of Europe's economic crisis, in what
the head of FIAT Sergio Marchionne
has gloomily dubbed a "Carmageddon",
settling at 12 million units for the EU
excluding Malta last year.
By contrast bikes have proved pretty
much crisis-proof with 19.7 million
sold Europe-wide in 2012 according to
e phenomenon spreads well beyond
the traditional 'bicycle capitals' of northern
Europe, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
In southern European countries --- many
of them traditionally car-mad --- the shift
is striking, with Italians buying 1.6 million
bikes against 1.4 million cars in 2012.
" e economic crisis has had an impact
on all areas of people's lives, including on
transport," said Giulietta Pagliaccio, head
of the Italian cycling federation Fiab.
"But there has also been a small
revolution in terms of lifestyle."
Italy's cycle manufacturer Bianchi agrees
that change is on the march.
"Customers these days want bikes
they can commute with, and top of the
range. ey are looking for long-term
investments," said Bianchi's head Bob
Ippolito, whose rm recently branched out
into electric bikes.
" at backs up the sense that people are
turning away from cars."
Milan has been one of the latest
European cities to roll out a bike-sharing
scheme, dubbed "Bikemi",
on the model of the Parisian "Velib", as
well as extending its network of cycle
For the Bucharest in-crowd, cycling is
now the way to roll, with fashionable bars
featuring bicycles as design objects and
collective bike rides staged on a weekly
In Spain, 780,000 bikes were sold last
year against 700,000 cars, in spite of
complaints from bike users who say the
country's cities remain dangerous on two
Madrid is rolling out a new bike rental
scheme next year, and has unveiled plans
for a "green ring" of cycle paths looping
10km around the city centre.
According to Spain's road tra c agency,
while the number of cyclists is steady,
they are using their bikes more and more
often. Cycle use for everyday journeys has
jumped from 17 to 30%.
In austerity-hit Portugal cyclist numbers
are on the rise in cities like Lisbon and
Porto, although not so much in the
country's mountainous regions.
Bike sales reached 350,000 last year,
against just over 95,000 cars.
" ere are more and more people cycling,
as a fashion thing, but also for economic
reasons," said Pedro Carvalho, head of the
magazine "B-Cultura de Bicicleta".
On the streets of London, bicycles are
now as common a sight as black cabs or
red double-decker buses, with journeys by
bike up 66% over a decade.
e city is now under pressure to provide
more safe, segregated cycle lanes, despite
a pledge to invest $2 billion over the next
As young Europeans switch to two
wheels in droves, the car may be losing
some of its appeal as a status symbol.
at was certainly true for 23-year-old
Parisian Hugo Clair, who gave up his car
and replaced it with two bicycles.
"With fuel costs going up, it was really
grating to have to spend $166 a month
just to keep a car on the road."
4 - Thursday, December 5, 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
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Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
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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
1492 - Christopher Columbus discovered
Hispaniola (now Haiti).
1766 - James Christie, founder of the famous
auctioneers, held his rst sale in London.
1797 - Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Paris
to command forces for the invasion
1848 - US President Polk
triggered the Gold Rush of '49 by
con rming the fact that gold had
been discovered in California.
1876 - e Stillson wrench was
patented by D C Stillson. e device
was the rst practical pipe wrench.
1904 - e Russian eet was destroyed by the
Japanese at Port Arthur, during the Russo-
1933 - Prohibition came to an end when
Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st
Amendment to the US Constitution.
1945 - e so-called "Lost Squadron"
disappeared. e ve US Navy Avenger
bombers carrying 14 Navy yers began a
training mission at the Fort Lauderdale Naval
Air Station. ey were never heard from again.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Martin Van Buren (1782);
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830); George
Armstrong Custer (1839); Walt Elias Disney
1901 Little Richard 1932; Joan
Calvin Trillin (1935); J J Cale
(1938); Jeroen Krabbe (1944);
Jose Carreras (19470; Jim Messina
(1947); Morgan Brittany (19510;
Brian Backer (19560; Jack Russell
(1960); Ty England (1963); Carrie
Hamilton (1963); John Rzeznick (1965); Gary
Allan (1967); Margaret Cho (1968); Frankie
Muniz (1985); Ross Bagley (1988).
"Everyone you will ever meet knows
something you don't." --- Bill Nye
"Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid; do not
be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. is
is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you
are going to ght." --- ( Joshua 10:25).
Next Monday week,
December 16, is the
likely date for the
start of drilling for
the rst West Coast well of Shell-BP-Todd
Oil Ser vices Ltd, at Kumara Junction. e
combine's driller in charge of operations at the
Taramakau A site, Mr Bruce Adams, told the
Evening Star that as far as the rst drilling
goes a deadline has been set and December
16 was the probable date for the "spudding in"
Company sta now here totals 15 in all.
Another eight men will be arriving by plane
from the north on Monday. " is will be all
we will need on the job until after Christmas,"
added Mr Adams.
Of the 13,288 West Coast electors who went
to the polls in last Saturday's general election,
10,282 favoured national continuance in the
licensing referendum. For State purcahse and
control there were only 1216 votes, and 1672
is gure represents a 77.41% poll for
continuance. e percentage of the vote for
prohibition was 12.59%. Not one of the 102
polling booths in the electorate polled more
than 74 votes for prohibition or more than 59
for State control.
All State coalmines worked as usual
today and it is safe to assume that few of
the underground workers recognised the
signi cance of the date.
Today, December 4, is St Barbara's Day. St
Barbara, a third-century martyr who legend
says was killed by her father, is the patron saint
of coalminers and armourers. French miners
still commemorate the day with a holiday but it
is hardly recognised elsewhere.
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
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Jonathan Allen and
Nicolas Medina Mora Perez
In early 1953, Merrill Newman
and Allen Hedges were among
a small group of United States
ser vicemen hunkered down on a
tiny, frequently shelled island o
the west coast of North Korea.
ey had orders to never make the
dangerous journey across the narrow strait
of water on to the mainland. And so,
Hedges said, they never did.
Why Newman felt compelled to set
foot in North Korea more than 60 years
after the end of the Korean War remains
a ba ing question to Hedges and several
other surviving members of the US Army
Newman, now an 85-year-old retired
business executive living in California, was
detained in late October while visiting
North Korea on a tourist trip. e former
rst lieutenant has been held ever since.
e North's KCNA news agency said
he was a mastermind of clandestine
operations and accused him of killing
civilians during the war.
"I can't believe it," Hedges said in a
telephone interview from his home in
Vanceburg, Kentucky. Hedges was not
aware his former comrade had been
detained until contacted by Reuters.
"If I know Newman, he went up there to
do something good, because I know he's
a good man. His philosophy was we did
good up there, we shortened the war and
saved lives," Hedges said this week.
e White House and the US State
Department have both called for
Newman's release, although Washington
and Pyongyang have no diplomatic
relations. North Korea allowed Swedish
diplomats to visit him at the weekend.
Hedges said he was 19 or so when he
and Newman arrived in early 1953 on
Cho-Do, a few miles out into the Yellow
Sea o the North Korean coast. eir
mission was to train and co-ordinate
a battalion of Korean anti-communist
guerrillas called the 6th Partisan Infantry
Regiment, Hedges said. is was one of
the main functions of the 8240th Unit,
according to published histories and
accounts of other former members.
Hedges, now 80 years-old, said he and
Newman would dispatch teams of the
guerrillas by boat to try and disrupt a
North Korean coastal supply line.
A US Army spokeswoman said she was
unable to con rm the details of personnel
and missions that pre-date 1999. e State
Department said their records only date
back to 1970.
O cial documents at the National
Archives in Washington DC, along with
various historians' accounts, con rm the
basics of the 8240th Unit's deployment
and its missions. ey do not give speci c
details about the roles of Newman and
Hedges says he and Newman lived in
mud houses and the Koreans in tents,
lling their days and nights with leading
the guerrillas in physical exercises, training
them in weapons use, and advising them
Downtime, when it unpredictably
arrived, was passed with cooking army
rations on portable gas stoves and, in
Hedges' case, short joyrides on an army
"You don't sleep much in an environment
like that," Hedges said, recalling frequent
night bombing raids by North Korean
light aircraft called "Bed Check Charlies"
by the allied forces. "We had to stay way
on the other side of the island." Cho-Do's
eastern ank, where the allied forces had
built a radar station, was just about within
the range of guns from the North Korean
People's Army on the mainland's coast.
Newman and Hedges helped coordinate
the 6th Partisan Infantry Regiment with
other forces ghting on behalf of the
US-backed South against the China- and
Monthly reports by the Combined
Command For Reconnaissance Activities
Korea (CCRAK) show the 6th Partisan
Infantry Regiment did not contribute
a high proportion of enemy casualties
compared to other units of the partisan
division. For instance, the unit caused 150
out of 2650 casualties --- killed, wounded
and captured --- done by the division in
April of 1953. In July, it was none out of
Hedges said sometimes the boats of
guerillas would return emptier than when
they had departed.
"I just hated to see the kids getting
killed, 17, 18 years-old, all getting blown
up," Hedges said. "It wasn't very nice."
Planes from a nearby British aircraft
carrier also conducted aerial raids on
the supply line, and the guerrillas would
attempt to rescue pilots who crashed or
who were shot down on the mainland.
"We lost a few, we got a few," Hedges said.
Hedges recalls Newman fondly from
their overlapping several months on the
island. He said Newman was interested in
zoology and had a habit of heading to the
island's far shore to collect sh and other
sea creatures, which he then preser ved
in alcohol in glass jars back at the camp,
taking some 40 or 50 samples with him
when he left the island. With little else
to kill time during an idle moment on
the island, Hedges recalled playing with
a snake until he was approached by an
"If that bit you, you ain't going to make
it to the doctor in time," Hedges recalled
Newman telling him. "He probably saved
Newman left Cho-Do before Hedges,
who stayed behind past the signing of
the armistice in July 1953 as evacuation
of the islands got under way, and the pair
eventually fell out of touch until a Korean
War veterans' reunion in 2001. "We didn't
talk much about the old days," Hedges
Newman worked as a manufacturing
and business executive before retiring in
1984, according to a biography of him in
a newsletter from Channing House, his
retirement home in Palo Alto, California.
Hedges worked for several decades as a
factory supervisor in upstate New York.
"I put that war right out of my head,"
Hedges said. "I didn't talk about it, I didn't
think about it. I didn't like it."
For example, Hedges says he never even
thought to tell Newman that, shortly
after Newman left the island, their main
Korean interpreter was discovered to be a
double-agent reporting back to the North
Koreans. Hedges said he does not know
what happened to the man after he was
handed over to the partisans.
A few years ago, Newman asked Hedges
if he would join him on a trip to South
Korea. Hedges declined, and said the idea
of visiting North Korea was never raised
Others in the 8240th Unit said they were
surprised one of their members would visit
the North. ey did not know Newman
personally, but said the nature of his
wartime mission meant he would never
have been on the mainland before.
"I'm in touch with a lot of people," said
Reuben Mooradian, a former 8240th rst
lieutenant. "We have an association and
we have reunions every few years, and I've
never heard once anybody say they'd like
to go to North Korea. I don't know what
in the hell he was doing," said Mooradian,
who now lives in Beech Mountain, North
Carolina. He was deployed to a di erent
island, and does not recall ever meeting
On Saturday, North Korea released
a video showing Newman reading a
handwritten confession of his role in the
war. e confession has several passages
in ungrammatical or unidiomatic English,
and it is unclear whether Newman was
coerced into writing it.
Hedges bristled at the North Korean
accusation that Newman killed civilians
during the war.
" at's a damn lie, we never killed
civilians, in fact we never killed anybody,"
Hedges said of himself and Newman,
describing their mission as being restricted
to training the guerrilla forces, an assertion
echoed by Mooradian and two other
members of the 8240th Unit. "I'll swear to
that," Hedges said. --- Reuters
Merrill Edward Newman, second left, poses for a group photo with former Kuwol Guerrilla Unit members at a port in Incheon, west of Seoul, in this undated photo.
Bike revolution takes Europe by storm
Australia is clean but New Zealand is
almost squeaky-clean, graft watchdog
Transparency International says in a just-
Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia
are seen as the world's most corrupt
countries while Denmark with New
Zealand are the least corrupt each scoring
91 out of 100 on the least sleazy list.
Australia had a score of 81 in the top 10
Worldwide, almost 70% of nations are
thought to have a "serious problem" with
public servants on the take, and none of
the 177 countries surveyed this year got a
perfect score, said the Berlin-based non-
pro t group.
Transparency International's annual
list is the most widely used indicator of
sleaze in political parties, police, justice
systems and civil ser vices, a scourge
which undermines development and the
ght against poverty.
"Corruption hurts the poor most," lead
researcher Finn Heinrich said.
" at's what you see when you look at
the countries at the bottom. Within those
countries, it's also poor people who get
hurt the most. ese countries will never
get out of the poverty trap if they don't
"Corruption is very much linked to
countries that fall apart, as you see in
Libya, Syria, two of the countries that
deteriorated the most," Heinrich told
"If you look at the bottom of the list,
we also have Somalia there. ese are
not countries where the government is
functioning e ectively, and people have
to take all means in order to get by, to get
services, to get food, to survive."
Among the "most improved" countries,
although from a low base, was Myanmar,
where a former military junta has opened
the door to the democratic process
and, facing an investment boom, has
formally committed to transparency and
" at's the only way countries can avoid
the 'resource curse', where the resources
are only available to a very small elite,"
said Heinrich. "Nigeria and other oil-
rich countries are obviously very good
Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency,
said "all countries still face the threat of
corruption at all levels of government,
from the issuing of local permits to the
enforcement of laws and regulations".
e latest survey "paints a worrying
picture", said Transparency. "While a
handful perform well, not one single
country gets a perfect score. More than
two-thirds score less than 50."
e bottom-ranked countries,
scoring 10 to 19, included Iraq, Syria,
Libya, Sudan and South Sudan, Chad,
Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
At the top, between 80 and 89, aside
from Denmark and New Zealand, were
Luxembourg, Canada, Australia, the
Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore,
Norway, Sweden and Finland.
" e top performers clearly reveal how
transparency supports accountability and
can stop corruption," said Labelle.
NZ beats Australia on the 'no graft' scales
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