Home' Greymouth Star : January 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, January 20, 2014 - 5
French President Francois Hollande's
approval rating remained unchanged
following a news conference to announce
economic reforms and after reports of
an a air with actress Julie Gayet put
his private life in the spotlight, a poll
Twenty-two per cent of those
interviewed were satis ed with Hollande
as president, unchanged from a month
earlier, according to the Ifop poll
carried out for Le Journal du Dimanche
newspaper by phone between January 10
and January 18.
e rating was the same before and after
Tuesday's New Year news conference,
the newspaper reported overnight. Ifop
surveyed 1950 people aged 18 and over.
Hollande brushed o questions about
his private life at the event after celebrity
magazine Closer published pictures the
previous week of what it said was the
president wearing a motorcycle helmet
visiting Gayet for nocturnal trysts.
e Socialist leader's ratings have
improved slightly since hitting a post-
World War Two record low of 15% in
one November poll. --- Reuters
PICTURE: Getty Images
A model from world-famous model rail manufacturer Marklin on display.
e two Australian judicial gures
sacked and barred by the Nauruan
government believe the decision was a
politically motivated attempt to change
the outcome of two cases due before the
Yesterday morning, Nauru's president
Baron Waqa red his country's only
magistrate, Peter Law, an Australian
citizen who also acts as the supreme
Fellow Australian citizen Chief Justice
Geo rey Eames attempted to inter vene
by issuing an injunction against the
deportation, but it was ignored.
e president then cancelled Justice
Eames' visa, preventing him from
returning to Nauru, and Law was put on
a plane back to Australia.
"I'd get better treatment in the Congo,
you know, because I seriously was jostled
and pushed by the arresting o cer, it was
quite unpleasant," Law told ABC radio.
Law is now back in Brisbane and says
Waqa's actions are clearly in contempt of
"It was a very comprehensive injunction.
It's hard to imagine why it was ignored,"
Both men believe the move was
Earlier, Nauruan Justice Minister
David Adeang had declared two asylum
seekers prohibited immigrants and gave
them a week to leave the country.
e two men appealed to the courts and
Law had granted an interim injunction
against their deportation.
e cases were due to come before the
" e timing of this makes it very
obvious in my mind what this is all
about," Law said.
In a statement to the ABC, Justice
"( e actions against Mr Law are)
politically motivated, designed to have
the decisions overturned by a new
magistrate and amounted to an abuse of
the rule of law," Justice Eames said.
Toy train town takes grid in power shift
e southern German town of
Goeppingen, set in the Alpine foothills,
is a magnet for tourists and famous
for being the home of toy train maker
For activists in the German
"Rekommunalisierung" movement that
wants to take local electricity networks
away from the big utilities and put
them back in public hands, picturesque
Goeppingen now has another reason to
Last spring, the town of 60,000 paid
23 million euros ($37.74 million) to
buy back its power network from utility
EnBW, in the biggest remunicipalisation
in the southern State of Baden
Wuerttemberg to date.
"We wanted to make our essential
supply line free from speculation and
to keep the local infrastructure in our
ownership for a long time," Mayor
Guido Till, who has ruled Goeppingen
for nine years, told Reuters from his
"We will keep more jobs in Goeppingen
than EnBW would have secured in the
long term," Till, 59, said. Prices have also
come down as a result of the move.
e mayor, a former Social Democrat
who now thinks the party is too left
wing, enjoys cross party support and this
was re ected in the move to take the
town's power grid into local ownership.
Goeppingen's decision also re ects the
mood in Germany, where opinion polls
show two-thirds of voters back green
energy policies and would also prefer
power networks to be managed by local
EnBW said it had accepted
Goeppingen's decision and successfully
handed over the network to its new
owners. But it said the fragmentation
of German network ownership would
not necessarily help the expansion of
e president of the German Federal
Cartel O ce, Andreas Mundt, has also
spoken critically about buying back
"It is important that these local
companies do not shun the competitive
market. We also believe that too much
fragmentation of networks bears the risk
of becoming ine cient," he said.
Nevertheless, since 2007, some 80 new
local utilities have been set up to supply
electricity, gas, water, and heat, according
to their business lobby, the VKU, which
represents 1400 such companies.
ere could be many more to come.
Some 8000 out of 14,000 land
concession contracts, mostly granted on
a 15 or 20-year basis to private interests
in the 1990s, are up for renewal between
2010 and 2015.
In a backlash against Germany's
liberalised energy market, where power
production and distribution are in
the hands of a few large German and
international groups, activists around the
country are trying to claw back network
ass ets into the public sector and are
doing this with highly visible campaigns.
e movement is part of a Europe-
wide trend of creeping renationalisation
of the utilities industry.
With energy production more and
more localised via countless solar panels
and thousands of windmills dotting the
German landscape, remunicipalisation
enthusiasts want power grids to have the
same local avour.
"A bottom-up energy shift is to
everyone's bene t," reads a Friends of
the Earth Germany (BUND) brochure.
But not all municipalities are motivated
by environmental or ideological concerns.
Local power transport networks yield
steady fees for their public owners,
while the local management gives their
services a measure of proximity to boot.
Till said his approach was based on
economics rather than ideology.
As a private concern, his city's grid
would have to make a pro t for investors,
but as a public operation he can run it
with a modest margin and keep tari s
low, he said.
e activists' biggest catch so far is
Hamburg, Germany's second-biggest
city, where Vattenfall has just sold back
the remainder of the power grid it had
operated for over a decade.
e city in 2012 bought 25% of the
power and heat distribution grids from
Vattenfall and wants to run them alone.
It also bought 25.1% of E.ON's gas grid.
Vattenfall chief executive Oystein
Loseth said last year he was not
convinced the new trend makes sense.
"Clearly we see a political trend where
the municipalities want to take over
operation of the grids. My question is
why," he said.
"Cities can spend their money on other
things and not on buying back the grids
because we are running those grids safely
and smoothly and have done so for many
years," he said.
In December, a remunicipalisation
referendum in Berlin --- also operated by
Vattenfall --- failed because not enough
Germany's utilities --- already facing
overcapacity, falling demand, the
country's exit from nuclear power, and
competition from subsidised renewable
energy --- are ghting back, stressing
their expertise and nancial strength.
RWE chief executive Peter Terium
said his company did not see ownership
changes as a threat, as his rm's stretched
nances could actually bene t from
But distribution grids that revert to
public hands would soon nd, like their
previous private owners, "they will face
the same challenges as everyone else,"
Terium said. --- Reuters
Pope Francis will not show leniency
towards paedophile priests because
truth and justice are more important
than protecting the Church, the
Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor
said at the weekend.
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the
most authoritative Catholic o cial
on the Church's abuse crisis, also told
Reuters that the number of clerics
defrocked by the Vatican was likely
to have fallen to about 100 in 2013
from about 125 in 2012.
Scicluna said Pope Francis, despite
his merciful nature, would be very
tough on paedophile priests after an
abuse crisis that the Pope on ursday
called "the shame of the Church."
"I have met with Francis and he
has expressed great determination
to continue on the line of his
predecessors," Scicluna, who ser ved
in the Vatican for 17 years before he
was named an auxiliary bishop in his
native Malta in 2012, said.
"His gospel of mercy is very
important but it is not cheap mercy.
It has to respect the truth and the
demands of justice," Scicluna said in
a telephone interview.
e Pope, who was elected last
March, set up a commission of
experts last month to address the
sexual abuse of children in the
Catholic Church, in his rst major
step to tackle a crisis that has plagued
it for two decades.
e group will consider ways to
better screen priests, protect minors
and help victims in the face of
charges the Vatican has not done
enough to guard the vulnerable or
Scicluna was the Vatican's expert
last ursday in Geneva when United
Nations child protection experts
pushed Holy See delegates to reveal
the scope of the decades-long sexual
abuse of minors by Roman Catholic
Despite the unprecedented grilling
of Vatican delegation, he said the
experience was very helpful for the
"We have a great responsibility to
our people. I think it was a blessing
that we had this meeting (in Geneva)
before the commission is set up,"
he said. e commission is still in
the process of being formed and its
Scicluna con rmed that published
Vatican records show that in 2011
the number of priests defrocked hit a
recent peak of some 260.
He said the rise was due to
"contingent backlog problems
with some historical cases" and
that he expected the numbers were
"stabilising" at about 100 in 2013.
Scicluna said the numbers for most
years are made up of about 50% by
priests who were actively defrocked
and the rest by those who had asked
to leave the priesthood after they
"admit their crimes".
"Dismissal is imposed and
dispensation presupposes the request
of the priest but the e ect is the
same," he said.
In 2012, while he was still in his
previous job at the Vatican, he created
a stir when he uttered the word
"omerta" --- usually used to describe
the Sicilian Ma a's code of silence ---
in relation to the sexual abuse crisis in
He used it again on Saturday in
response to a question.
"I think there is a clear signal that
'omerta' is not the way the Church
should respond," he said. "I am
convinced that the best thing for the
institution is to own up to the truth
whatever it is."
e Church has had to pay
hundreds of millions of dollars in
compensation in sexual abuse cases
worldwide, bankrupting a string of
dioceses. Last ursday the Pope
said it was right to pay damages to
Victims' groups have said that
more has to be done to protect
children and that bishops who have
been accused of covering up crimes
by shuttling priests from parish to
parish should be held accountable.
No leniency for paedophile priests
Russian President Vladimir Putin has
o ered new assurances to gay athletes
and fans attending the 2014 Sochi
Winter Olympics next month.
Yet he defended Russia's anti-gay law
by equating gays with paedophiles and
said Russia needs to "cleanse" itself of
homosexuality if it wants to increase its
Putin's comments in an interview
broadcast overnight with Russian and
foreign television stations showed the
wide gulf between the perception of
homosexuality in Russia and the west.
A Russian law passed last year banning
"propaganda of nontraditional sexual
relations" among minors has caused an
Putin refused to answer a question
from the BBC on whether he believes
that people are born gay or become gay.
e Russian law, however, suggests that
information about homosexuality can
in uence a child's sexual orientation.
e law has contributed to growing
animosity toward gays in Russian
society, with rights activists reporting a
rise in harassment and abuse.
International worries about how gays
will be treated in Sochi have been met
with assurances from Russian o cials
and Olympics organisers that there
will be no discrimination, and Putin
reiterated that stance.
" ere are no fears for people with this
nontraditional orientation who plan to
come to Sochi as guests or participants,"
Putin declared in the tv interview.
He said the law was aimed at banning
propaganda of homosexuality and
paedophilia, suggesting that gays are
more likely to abuse children.
Making another favourite argument
against homosexuality, Putin noted with
pride that Russia saw more births than
deaths last year for the rst time in two
decades. Population growth is vital for
Russia's development and "anything
that gets in the way of that we should
clean up," he said, using a word usually
reserved for military operations.
e law on propaganda has been used
to justify barring gay pride rallies on
the grounds that children might see
them. is has raised the question of
how athletes and fans would be treated
for any gay-rights protests during the
When asked about this by the ABC
TV channel, Putin said protests against
the law itself would not be considered
Putin then hit back, accusing the
United States of double standards in its
criticism of Russia, pointing to laws that
remain on the books in some US States
classifying gay sex as a crime. e US
Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2003
that such laws were unconstitutional.
Homosexuality was a crime in the
entire former Soviet Union, which
collapsed in 1991. It was decriminalised
in Russia in 1993.
e Sochi Winter Olympics run from
February 7 to 23. --- AP
Putin links gays
of cosmic web
Astronomers say they have for the rst
time seen the gas strands theorised to hold
the universe together in a "cosmic web".
ey had used the intense radiation
generated by a quasar --- a by-product
of a supermassive black hole --- acting as
a type of cosmic ashlight to illuminate
part of the vast lament network.
Cosmologists believe matter between
galaxies is distributed in a network of
strands known as the cosmic web.
e vast majority of atoms in the
universe are thought to reside in this
web as hydrogen left over from the "Big
Bang", and galaxies are believed to form
at network nodes.
" is is the rst time anyone has been
able to capture an image of the cosmic
web, demonstrating its lamentary
structure," astronomy doctoral student
Fabrizio Arrigoni Battaia, who took
part in the observations at the Keck
Observatory in Hawaii, said.
e team had focused on massive
nebula, or deep-space cloud, where the
ey could study the nebula thanks
to illumination provided by a quasar ---
radiation generated by cosmic matter
falling into a galaxy's central massive
black hole --- with the aid of computer
light lters. Quasars are the most
luminous objects in the universe.
"In this case, we were lucky that the
ashlight is pointing right at the cosmic
web, making some of its gas glow,"
researcher Sebastiano Cantalupo, of the
University of California in Santa Cruz,
said. --- AFP
A bomb struck a military convoy
in Pakistan's restive north-west
overnight, killing 20 soldiers and
wounding more than 30, o cials
"We are trying to ascertain the
exact nature of the explosion,
whether it was a planted device or
a suicide attack," a senior security
o cial said about the attack in the
town of Bannu.
" e explosion took place in one
of the vehicles of the convoy killing
20 soldiers and wounding more
than 30," he said.
e o cial said "the convoy was
about to leave for Razmak town in
North Waziristan when the tragedy
struck", adding the blast occurred in
one of the civilian vehicles hired for
the movement of troops.
A Frontier Corps o cial also
con rmed the attack and casualties.
Bannu has been the site of several
attacks targeting security forces in
e Pakistani Taliban said it
was responsible for the attack
"We claim responsibility for the
attack, which was part of our ght
against a secular system," Tehreek-
e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman
Shahidullah Shahid said by
telephone from an undisclosed
"We will carry out more such
attacks in future." --- AFP
Bomb kills 20 Pakistani
soldiers in convoy
Afghanistan's National Security
Council, which is chaired by
President Hamid Karzai, has
accused "foreign intelligence
services" of being behind the deadly
attack on a Kabul restaurant, in an
apparent reference to Pakistan.
Pakistan was the main supporter
of the former Taliban regime and
Afghani o cials have long voiced
suspicions about the connections
between the hardline movement
and Islamabad's powerful
" e NSC said such sophisticated
and complex attacks are not the
work of the ordinary Taliban,
and said without doubt foreign
intelligence services beyond the
border are behind such bloody
attacks," a statement for the palace
e Taliban claimed responsibility
for Saturday's suicide assault on a
popular restaurant in central Kabul
in which 21 people, including 13
foreigners, were killed.
Desperate customers tried to
hide under tables as one attacker
detonated his suicide vest at the
forti ed entrance to the Taverna
du Liban and two other militants
stormed inside and opened re.
Among the dead were three
Americans, two British citizens,
two Canadians, the International
Monetary Fund head of mission,
and the restaurant's Lebanese
A female Danish member of
the European police mission in
Afghanistan and a Russian UN
political o cer also died in the
massacre, which was the deadliest
attack on foreign civilians since the
Taliban was ousted in 2001.
Kabul blast blamed on foreign spy service
Former basketball star
Dennis Rodman, facing
a backlash for a series of
visits to North Korea,
has checked himself into
an alcohol-rehab facility,
according to United States
"He has been in rehab
most of this week, and I am
very proud of him," Darren
Prince, his agent, was
quoted as saying by CNN.
"His drinking escalated
to a level that none of us had seen before.
When he came back (from North Korea),
I discussed with him on a personal level
how concerned I was. We sat down and
decided for him to go to rehab. It is a 28
or 30-day facility."
e 52-year-old Rodman apologised
earlier this month upon his return from
his latest visit to secretive North Korea
for saying a fellow American imprisoned
there may have caused his own fate.
Rodman blamed alcohol for his
Rodman, who reportedly entered a
rehab centre on the US east
coast on Wednesday, took a
team of former National
players to North Korea for
his most recent visit and
sang Happy Birthday to
leader Kim Jong-Un inside
a packed sports arena.
e former NBA star
was widely criticised for
refusing to bring up human
rights abuses or the plight
of detained US missionary
Kenneth Bae during his
latest week-long visit.
Rodman had said he planned to return
to North Korea next month.
Rodman has developed an unlikely
friendship with the young North Korean
leader since making his rst trip there
last February, when he declared Kim a
"friend for life."
Kim, who was educated in Switzerland,
is reported to be a huge fan of basketball
and especially of the Chicago Bulls, with
whom Rodman won three NBA titles
alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.
Rodman checks into
Local ownership push in Germany
Mankind's primordial dream of
ight is taking o with a twist as
a Slovak prototype of a ying car
spreads its wings.
Inspired by books about ying
by French authors Jules Verne and
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Slovak
designer and engineer Stefan Klein
has been honing his ying machine
since the early 1990s.
"I got the idea to start working on
a vehicle of the future at university,
but honestly, who hasn't dreamed
of ying while being stuck in the
tra c?" he said.
"Flying's in my blood --- my
grandfather and my father ew
ultralight aircrafts and I got my
pilot's licence before I was old
enough to drive a car," Klein,
who has designed cars for BMW,
Volkswagen and Audi and now
teaches at the Bratislava-based
Academy of Fine Arts and Design,
His 6m vehicle for two ts neatly
in a parking space or a garage. But
once it reaches an airport it can
unfold its wings within seconds.
"So far there have been about
20 attempts to manufacture a
ying car around the globe," the
president of the Slovak Ultra
Light Aviation Federation, Milan
"Among them, Aeromobil appears
Other models include the US-
based Terrafugia's Transition ying
car expected to be launched within
a year, while the helicopter-type
Dutch PAL-V gyrocopter could go
on sale this year.
Klein's dream took to the skies
in September when he piloted the
Aeromobil during its rst wobbly
Once airborne, it can reach a top
speed of 200kph and travel as far
as 700km, consuming 15 litres of
petrol an hour.
Klein and his team are now
working on the next generation
of Aeromobil that will go into
production in a few months and
hopefully receive Slovak Ultra
Light Aircraft Certi cation
"Pilot/drivers will need to have
both a driver's and pilot's licence
with at least 25 ying hours," Ciba
said. --- AFP
Flying car spreads wings in Slovakia
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