Home' Greymouth Star : January 27th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
A small plane crash on a remote
mountain would not normally be enough
to anger an entire country or threaten
the government. Romania, however, is
dealing with just this scenario.
So far, four senior o cials including the
interior minister have resigned or been
red after all those on board a medical
ight initially survived the crash in thick
fog. One of the pilots and a medical
student later died of hypothermia among
other causes after waiting for hours in
deep snow to be saved.
Romanians reacted with fury, taking
to social media and talk shows to accuse
the government of incompetence and
complacency after it emerged the least
injured of the survivors called emergency
services six times.
It took four hours for local villagers
and a woodcutter to locate the plane in
Transylvania after it lost altitude and
crashed at 1400m above sea level. But
medical teams arrived hours later and
were reportedly ill-equipped. e plane,
carrying two pilots and ve medical
workers, was on its way to pick up a liver
for a transplant.
" e government generally does
nothing, and in this case they did nothing
to locate the plane. A woodcutter had to
nd them," aviation professor Nicolae
Serban Tomescu said. " e rescue
operation was like Swiss cheese. ere
were holes everywhere."
But some o cials have defended the
government's response to the crash,
saying rescuers were working in di cult
weather conditions and in darkness.
Nonetheless, public ire has reached
a crescendo because many believe the
government was unable to muster
up-to-date equipment to rescue the
crash victims, but is willing to invest
its resources heavily on surveillance.
Romania, a country of 19 million with no
foreign enemies, has seven intelligence
agencies, including the main domestic
and foreign spying agencies. Democracy
activists claim that those in power use
intelligence to gain
over opponents and
dig up compromising
A political cartoon
on the front page
of Romanian daily
suggested the crash
victims would have
been found sooner
if someone on the
ight had been
under sur veillance.
e caricature had
secret agents joking,
"How the hell can
we locate the crashed
had there been a
journalist, a deputy
or a Senator on it,
ere is also anger
because the elite
agency one of the
agencies invested 40
million euros in the
and the six calls one of the survivors
made did not appear to be enough to get
help there quickly enough.
e blowback has taken its toll on
the government, which is vying to win
a presidential election in November.
Interior Minister Radu Stroe handed in
his resignation to the prime minister to
become the highest-ranking government
o cial to leave his post in the scandal.
e country's air tra c control chief,
the head of the emergency services and
another senior Interior Ministry o cial
have also lost their jobs.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta red
two of those o cials and called for the
resignations of others not under his
authority. Addressing the national mood
ursday, he used his strongest language
to date pointing to "serious errors in
the rescue operation . . . particularly
the techniques used for identifying the
wreckage." He promised that in the
future authorities would be "much more
Ponta is also trying to save face because
initially say all seven people on the ight
had survived. Romanians had been glued
to tv news bulletins, and the story was at
rst presented by the government as one
with a happy ending.
" e pilot did everything he could
to save their lives but the authorities
were negligent," said Iuliana Popescu, a
security guard. "Why did it take them so
many hours? Even if they got lost, they
should have got their earlier. Nobody had
But former emergency ser vices chief
Ion Burlui, who resigned last week, said
authorities had done their job properly in
di cult conditions, including deep snow,
dense fog and darkness.
"Winter is not like summer and the
mountain is not like the plains," he said.
" ese people intervened . . . risking their
lives to save other people."
e pilot who was killed, Adrian Iovan,
had 30 years of experience and was well
known in Romania as an aviation expert
who went on tv whenever there was an
accident. He died of hypothermia and
from numerous fractures. Aurelia Ion, a
23-year-old volunteer medical student
in her fth year, died from hypothermia
and multiple injuries. No o cial has said
that their lives could have been saved if
rescuers had arrived earlier, but many
blame the slow response on their deaths.
Cristian Tudorica, a 36-year-old bank
clerk, summed up the public mood.
" ose doctors were on the ight to
save others," he said. "It is right that the
(interior) minister resigned. ese people
should not have died."
4 - Monday, January 27, 2014
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
email to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1340 - Edward III of England declares
himself king of France, a claim that leads to the
Hundred Years' War.
1880 - American inventor omas Edison
receives a patent for his electric
1901 - Death of Giuseppe Verdi,
1944 - Soviet city of Leningrad is
liberated from Germans.
1945 - Soviet troops liberate
the Nazi concentration camps
Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland.
1951 - Era of atomic testing in the Nevada
desert begins as a US Air Force plane drops a
one-kiloton bomb on Frenchman Flats.
1967 - US astronauts Virgil 'Gus' Grissom,
Edward White and Roger Cha ee die in a
ash re during a test aboard their Apollo
spacecraft at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
1973 - Accords are signed in Paris providing
for the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian
composer (1756-1791); Lewis Carroll,
real name Charles Dodgson, English
mathematician and writer (1832-1898); Kaiser
Wilhelm II, German emperor
(1859-1941); Jerome Kern, US
composer (1885-1945); Sir John
Eccles, Australian physiologist and
1963 Nobel Prize winner (1903-
1997); James Cromwell, US actor
(1940-); Nick Mason, British Pink
Floyd musician (1944-); Mikhail
Baryshnikov, Russian ballet dancer (1948-);
Mimi Rogers, US actress (1956-); Bridget
Fonda, US actress (1964-); Adam Brand,
Australian country singer (1970-).
"As men we are all equal in the presence
of death." --- Publilius Syrus, Roman
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and
become like children, you will never enter the
Kingdom of Heaven." --- (Matthew 18:3).
West Coast has a
Shangri-La --- but
few recognise it.
Not even a primary
school infant class teacher. e Hari Hari
correspondent of the Hokitika Guardian at
the weekend lamented the plight of the school
which, he wrote, was still hoping some fairy
godmother would send a new infant teacher.
He further lamented: "It is di cult to
understand the reluctance of young people
to come to the country. A town could hardly
o er more attractions than does Hari Hari,
which has no parking problems and no queues,
no teddy boys; boasts a drama group, a choir
and a riding school, has a river popular to the
whitebait, a boating lake and one of the best
athletics coaches in the South Island.
"Indeed it is hard to think of anything more
a city could o er except television and a pipe
e 6000ft mark scheduled as the
original drilling depth has been achieved at
Taramakau A, the Kumara Junction oil probe
of Shell-BP-Todd Oil Services, without oil
Questioned whether any prominent signs had
been received, the site superintendent Mr G
Velhuis replied: "I can't say at this stage."
e death of Mrs Violet Le Comte occurred
at Greymouth on Saturday after a lengthy
illness. She was 66. Mrs Le Comte was born at
Belfast, Canterbury, went to Waiuta with her
late husband in the early 1940s and there they
conducted the Empire Hotel. After the decline
of Waiuta she moved to the Tramway Hotel,
Taramakau. Of recent months she had lived in
Mrs Le Comte is survived by three brothers
and four sisters.
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Plane crash threatens government
All six on board this plane initially sur vived the crash --- but two perished waiting for help to arrive. Now the government faces a backlash in
Romania for bungling the rescue.
At the start of 1985, Maire
Leadbeater took her two
children for a January break
on Kawau Island.
For the peace activist
it was a break from the
business of protest --- no phone, no paper,
just the slap of Gulf waters in a tranquil
Naturally it did not last. New Zealand's
nuclear summer was about to erupt with
news that the United States wanted one
of its warships to spend a few days in New
Zealand. e anti-nuclear forces stirred
and Leadbeater, a key gure in Auckland
with CND, the Campaign for Nuclear
Disarmament, packed up her children and
dashed back to the city.
Telephone trees shook with alarm at
the prospect of a potentially nuclear-
armed United States navy ship steaming
into a New Zealand port, undermining a
momentum that persistent opponents of
ship visits felt was running their way. Even
though the Americans had settled on the
USS Buchanan, a 25-year-old ship, to test
their relationship with the New Zealand's
new Labour Government, the anti-nuclear
lobby did not care a lot for the niceties of
whether the Adams-class guided missile
destroyer might --- or might not, as defence
experts assessed --- be armed with rockets
tipped with atomic warheads.
Within 48 hours, hundreds of activists
were mobilised. On a hot midweek summer
afternoon, 15,000 protesters lled Aotea
Square. Marchers sent a letter to Prime
Minister David Lange which stated: " ere
is no room for doubt, keep them out."
All this now seems a terribly long time
ago. More than a few half-lives have passed
since anti-nuclear fervour shook New
Zealand, but Leadbeater is convinced the
passions which caused a ruckus in Queen
Street 29 years ago were instrumental in
forcing the Lange Government to act
decisively and change the law.
In a new account of how New Zealand
became nuclear-free, Peace, Power and
Politics, Leadbeater writes that politicians
and historians "often write the public
out of the story. But here --- as in the
case of almost every other major shift in
government policy in our history --- the
spadework was carried out by the little
people who wrote letters, marched and put
their bodies and boats on the line . . . It was
a David and Goliath moment, but David
did not stand alone."
e backdrop to Leadbeater's book recalls
tense political moments, the frustrations of
the military and foreign policy bureaucracy
and the superpower pressure piled on New
Zealand to whip it into line over ship visits.
But at its core is the story of how a popular
movement, led by determined, committed
activists, achieved an enduring change in
the country's foreign policy and entrenched
the idea of 'nuclear-free NZ' in the national
It is a colourful history, for the cause was
supported by some of the nation's leading
artists. A lot of their e orts, with the
posters pasted on urban walls at the height
of anti-nuclear activism, are reproduced in
at Leadbeater was one of the leading
lights is perhaps not surprising. As
a daughter of one of New Zealand's
pioneering feminists, the children's author
Elsie Locke, dissent is part of her DNA.
Locke, together with her second husband,
Jack, a lifelong communist, shared a
modest cottage beside the Avon River in
Christchurch with their children --- Maire
and her sister Alison, and brothers Don and
Keith, who became a Green MP.
Elsie shared her husband's communist
beliefs until she left the party in 1956,
upset at the brutal Soviet invasion of
Hungary. About then Maire, at just 10,
came to the attention of the Security
Intelligence Service, who kept a Cold
War watch on her parents. Leadbeater's
redacted and declassi ed SIS le, released
in 2008, recorded that she delivered a copy
of the People's Voice, the Communist
Party newspaper, to an address in central
Christchurch. Nearly 50 years later the
spy agency was still reporting on her. e
last le reference mentioned plans to join
a peace march in 2002, which Leadbeater
assumes was about Iraq.
e SIS le entries illustrate Leadbeater's
tireless devotion to political causes --- the
rights of indigenous people in East Timor,
the Philippines, New Caledonia, Tahiti
and now West Papua, the mountainous
Indonesian-ruled territory where New
Zealand is helping to train local police.
e activist, now 68, wrote the anti-
nuclear book partly to complete a project
her mother started. Elsie Locke's book,
Peace People: A History of Peace Activities
in New Zealand, closed o in 1975. Her
daughter carries the story through to today.
Leadbeater accepts the high tide of
activism has receded since the heady days
of the Buchanan, when 300 peace groups
ourished, otillas assembled at the hint of
a radioactive rumour and hundreds came
But she says there are plenty of campaigns
for activists to wage for ethical and
"For years we had protests at Waihopai
(the spy station near Blenheim which is
part the Five Eyes intelligence sharing
She says that the task of activists is "really
about challenging the power over our lives
that we've given away".
In the past decade or so, Leadbeater
has become more deeply involved with
independence and solidarity issues in the
South Paci c, and especially West Papua.
She argues New Zealand has dropped the
ball in its neighbourhood and could be
more actively engaged in trying to resolve
regional con icts.
Leadbeater believes the work which
helped broker peace in Bougainville after
a decade of war claimed at least 8000 lives
serves as a model worth trying elsewhere.
New Zealand took the lead in the dispute
and, against a background of Maori
protocol, invited leaders from the rival
factions for talks. e resulting Burnham
Declaration has held rm for 15 years.
Journalist John Pilger once called NZ
the west's "problem child" for standing up
for anti-nuclear ideals with "principled
audacity". "We still have that potential," she
says. "We ought to be doing far more."
--- New Zealand Herald
No nukes NZ
Maire Leadbeater with a photograph of the sunken Rainbow Warrior.
Park City (United States)
It will not cure dementia or Alzheimer's
disease, but music can help su erers "wake
up" their memories, a moving documentary
Alive Inside: A Story of Music and
Memory, by Michael Rossato-Bennett,
follows the e orts of one man to convince
Americans of the bene ts of music on
people with dementia or Alzheimer's.
Dan Cohen, founder of the non-pro t
organisation Memory and Music, arms
himself with headphones and music players
as he shows --- to the surprise of care-
givers --- how patients locked in silence
and lost in the maze of dementia seem to
nd some memories and feelings when
they hear the music they love.
With the cameras watching on, many
patients begin to talk, smile, sing and even
dance, as their families look on stunned.
"It's not a cure," stresses Rossato-Bennett,
whose lm went on show at the Sundance
Film Festival in Utah at the weekend.
"And there is no way to get back these
memory cells that have been destroyed."
But he says music has the ability to
penetrate into the recesses of the brain less
a ected by dementia, which a ects ve
Cohen's vision when he founded Memory
and Music was a simple one: to bring a
better quality of life to the elderly through
e fate of the elderly and in rm is one
Rossato-Bennett shows an intense passion
"We live in a time, in a culture, where
we're not really sure how much we care
about humanity anymore," he says.
"We know we care about industry,
progress, commerce. But maybe elders are
no longer useful. We're done with them.
"If our elders are not having a human life,
at some point we cannot ignore it. So we
"In 10-15 years in the US, we're gonna
need to double the beds in nursing homes
ifwedoitthatway.We can'tdoit.We can
barely a ord what we have now. Double
would literally bankrupt this country.
People are going to have to live at home
longer, that's the only solution.
"When you have Alzheimer's
or dementia, the world becomes
overwhelming, you can't di erentiate
what's happening outside and inside, you
can't do it." --- AFP
Documentary shows music may help elderly remember
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