Home' Greymouth Star : May 10th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, May 10, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1818 - Death of American patriot Paul
Revere, famed for his warning of Boston-area
residents of the advance of British troops.
1863 - US Confederate general Thomas
‘Stonewall’ Jackson, dies eight days
after being accidentally shot by his
1865 - Jefferson Davis, president
of the US Confederacy, is captured
by Union forces in Irwinville,
1869 - The first transcontinental
US railway is completed when the
Union Pacific and Central Pacific
lines are joined at Promontory, Utah.
1924 - J Edgar Hoover is appointed director
of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations
— the FBI.
1925 - William Ferguson Massey, New
Zealand Statesman and prime minister
(1912-25), dies in office.
1977 - Death of Oscar-winning US actor
Joan Crawford, aged 73.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Thomas Lipton, English merchant-
sportsman (1850-1931); Fred Astaire, US
dancer-actor (1899-1987); Nancy Walker, US
comedian (1922-1992); Donovan, Scottish
pop singer (1946-); Miuccia
Prada, Italian fashion designer
(1949-); Sid Vicious, English
punk rock legend (1957-1979);
Bono, Irish singer (1960-); Linda
Evangelista, Canadian supermodel
(1965-); Young MC, US rapper
(1967-); Chas Licciardello,
Australian comedian (1977-).
“ Nothing recedes like success.”
— Walter Winchell, American columnist and
“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for
He has been mindful of the humble state of
His ser vant. From now on all generations will
call me blessed.” — (Luke 1:46-48).
Todd Oil Ser vices
continue drilling to
try and discover oil
below the surface of the Arahura Valley, a
problem of surplus oil exists in the Greymouth
district. The Grey County Council is to carry
out an investigation into the dumping of a
large quantity of waste oil on road property at
the end of North Beach, Cobden.
“ You can talk about teenage vandals and the
damage they do but I consider this much worse
— it could absolutely ruin cars,” said the irate
local resident who notified the Evening Star
of the presence of the unwanted oil. “In some
places it was sitting two to three inches thick
— b lack gooey stuff.”
He pointed out that an average of more than
a dozen cars would go down that road over the
weekend and the oil could make a complete
mess of them.
Greyhound Hotel, Arahura, is shortly to have
a change of management. On June 20, Mr and
Mrs D Scott, who have held the licence for
the past six years, will hand over to Mr George
Lindsay who is at present licensee of the Post
Office Hotel, Hokitika.
Mr and Mrs Scott do not intend to leave the
West Coast but plan to settle in Hokitika. As
yet it is not known who will be taking over the
Post Office Hotel.
A good deal fitter and with a feeling of
accomplishment, Blaketown teenager Ian
Webber returned home this week after
completing a 23-day course at the O utward
Bound school at Anakiwa, the second Coaster
to do so.
His foremost impression: That things he once
thought impossible he could now do, and quite
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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03 755 8422
few weeks ago, Plaza
Altamira in Caracas was
teeming with thousands of
baying for an end to
Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Now, barely a dozen activists remain in
the spacious 1940s square dabbling with
posters. Beside them, crosses, flowers and
photos lain on the floor mark the students’
“Maduro’s still there, isn’t he? And so are
all the problems. It didn’t go as we wanted,”
lamented student Eduardo Ortega,
painting resistance in black letters on a
“People got tired, civil society didn’t
support us, and the students are divided.
But this isn’t over. We’re going to a second
phase, you’ ll see,” added Ortega, 26, his
banner naming a litany of problems:
shortages, crime, inflation.
Demonstrators took to the streets across
the nation from early February, many
dreaming of a Venezuelan Spring that
would sweep Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked
successor from power and end 15 years of
socialist rule in the OPEC nation of 29
The protests snowballed, gained some
foreign celebrity support under the
catchy slogan SOS Venezuela, and gave
prominence to previously-sidelined radical
opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez
and Maria Corina Machado.
Yet the vast numbers mobilised in places
like Egypt or Ukraine never materialised
here. And crucially for the balance of
power, there was no hint military chiefs
might abandon Maduro. Disappointingly
for protest leaders too, enthusiasm did
not spread deeply from middle-class
Though he sur vived the crisis and has
declared victory over his opponents, whom
he accused of a “coup” attempt against him,
Maduro’s troubles are by no means over.
An ailing economy and rampant crime,
two of the protesters’ main complaints, are
keeping the pressure on. One poll put his
approval at 37%, the lowest since taking
power last year.
And he could face a recall referendum in
In the Catia barrio of west Caracas
on a recent morning, residents said they
shared some of the protesters’ complaints
— m ainly, high prices and food shortages,
although they virulently opposed the
They also griped loudly about Maduro,
especially when comparing him to the
wildly popular Chavez, although they
could not think of anyone else they would
rather see in power.
“I’m not happy with things at all. I can
hardly feed my family with these crazy
prices for everything,” Jorge Mendez, a
carpenter and father of four, said referring
to Venezuela’s 60% annual inflation rate,
the highest in the Americas.
“But you don’t solve these things by
using violence and barricades. And you
certainly don’t help the poor putting a
right-wing capitalist in power instead of
Chavez’s man,” he said, watching his son at
a football game on a dusty field.
Maduro, a mustachioed 51-year-old
former bus driver who rose to be Chavez’s
foreign minister and vice-president, has
used the protests to unite his disparate
socialist coalition around a common enemy
in hallmark Chavez style.
His offers of dialogue at the height of the
trouble helped appease foreign pressure.
It also widened a split in the opposition
between moderates who favour talks and
hard-liners who say meeting Maduro is
akin to negotiation with murderers.
Often provoked by masked youths
hurling stones and petrol bombs, National
Guard soldiers and police reacted with
endless volleys of teargas in scenes of chaos
unseen in Venezuela on such a scale for a
At least 41 people died, with victims on
all sides, including a local beauty queen
shot dead protesting, a Chavista on a
motor-bike whose throat was slit by a
cable set up by demonstrators, and nine
members of the security forces.
Another 800 people were injured, and
more than 2700 arrested, with 197 of those
still behind bars.
The talks have helped calm emotions and
drawn approval from abroad, including
the Vatican and South America’s Unasur
block who are helping mediate. But they
have led to few concrete changes beyond
agreements in principle to set up a truth
commission and investigate the situation of
Venezuela’s moderate opposition leaders,
most notably twice-presidential candidate
Henrique Capriles, are deeply frustrated.
They think the protesters have
unwittingly played into the hands of the
government and shattered a new solidarity
within opposition ranks that took years to
create and gave them their best showing in
the 2012 and 2013 presidential elections.
Previous bouts of street violence — such
as those that helped trigger a brief 2002
coup against the late Chavez — had
given them a reputation as power-hungry
The moderates argue the opposition’s
main achievements since then have come
from grass-roots organising and addressing
day-to-day concerns like trash collection
and public transport.
Now, with a 2015 parliamentary election
and possible 2016 presidential recall
referendum on the horizon if they can
garner the four million or so signatures
needed to trigger that, opponents need to
unite again or face further frustration.
Though sporadic violence continues,
including near-daily protests like burning
or seizing buses, Maduro’s biggest
challenge now is a range of economic
problems such as soaring inflation and
Shortages of staple goods continue to
leave people stuck for hours in supermarket
lines. Even when State-run shops manage
to quell the scarcity of a product such as
toilet paper, another staple such as wheat
flour then goes missing.
The government will use the recent
protests to justify poor economic data.
March’s 4.1% inflation data, for example,
was squarely blamed on the disruptions
But Maduro has also vowed to turn the
situation around through a combination of
new currency measures and an “economic
offensive” to lower prices.
He is loathe to roll back the currency
controls, price caps and nationalisations
of private businesses — touchstone
economic policies of the Chavez era that
economists routinely identify as the causes
of Venezuela’s economic dysfunction.
Back at Altamira Square, children play
around a fountain, but the scars of a
traumatic last three months are everywhere.
Maduro, murderer is vividly painted on
one road. A slogan on a nearby wall, made
popular among demonstrators, could apply
to either side in the conflict: “If you tire,
you lose.” — Reuters
Venezuelan coup fails
PICTURE: Getty Images
Thousands of protesters came on to the streets during the recent demonstrations.
If you are trying to get rid of the
legitimately elected government of
your country, it helps to have the
Constitutional Court, the National Anti-
Corruption Commission and the Election
Commission on your side.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court has
come through for the opposition once
again; it has just ousted Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her
cabinet ministers for improperly removing
a civil servant from office.
This is the latest move in an eight-
year campaign by the old political
establishment and its middle-class
supporters in Bangkok to destroy a
populist party, twice renamed and
currently called Pheu Thai, that has won
every election since 2001. The street
protests by the People’s Democratic
Reform Committee (PDRC) that have
intermittently paralysed Bangkok since
last November get the headlines, but the
courts remain an indispensable weapon
The civil ser vant who lost his post,
Thawil Pliensri, was the head of the
National Security Council. He was
appointed by a previous government that
was deeply hostile to Yingluck’s party, and
he was publicly critical of her government.
So after winning the 2011 election she
moved him to a different post and put in a
national security head of her own choice.
In most democratic countries that
would be seen as a normal part of politics.
Even in Thailand, where the non-elected
official bodies are all dominated by people
sympathetic to the opposition, it is hard
to deny that the government has the right
to choose its own senior officials. So the
actual complaint the Constitutional Court
ruled on was that Thawil’s transfer was
motivated by nepotism.
The prime minister actually replaced
Thawil with a general called Paradorn
Pattanatabut, who is not a relation — but
his promotion allowed a distant relative
of hers, also a general, to move up one
rung in the hierarchy. It did not give him
political power or more money, but any
old accusation will do if the court works
for the opposition. The Constitutional
Court found Yingluck guilty of nepotism
and ordered her to step down.
Meanwhile, the National Anti-
Corruption Commission has brought
corruption charges against 223 members
of parliament belonging to Pheu Thai, and
the Election Commission has ruled that
the party’s victory in the February election
was invalid because the main opposition
party boycotted the election and disrupted
voting in 10% of the polling stations.
Yingluck Shinawatra had actually
called another election for July 20 before
she was dismissed, but the opposition
party and its supporters in the streets of
Bangkok have already rejected it as Pheu
Thai would just win yet again. What they
want first is political reforms that would
prevent the rural poor, Yingluck’s biggest
source of support, from
voting at all.
Meanwhile the PDRC’s
street protests continue,
and Suthep Thaugsuban,
the movement ’s leader, is
brutally frank about their
objective: “From a western
point of view, ‘democracy ’
is an elected government
ser ving as the people’s
representative,” he said. “Unfortunately,
elections in Thailand do not represent
people’s (real) choices because their votes
What he means is that the parties led by
Yingluck, and earlier by her exiled brother
Thaksin Shinawatra, have “bribed ” the
poor, and peasant farmers in particular,
with policies like a universal health-care
system, micro-credit development funds
for villages, price supports for rice, and
low-interest loans for farmers.
In other countries, such policies are seen
as normal and legitimate political tools
in the competition for votes. They have
outraged the prosperous middle-class
in Bangkok and the south, who were
accustomed to having the government
devote most of its time and money to
their own needs, but they have delivered
five election victories in a row for the
Pheu Thai party and its predecessors in a
country where the majority of voters are
still poor farmers.
The PDRC’s solution is to prevent any
more elections until an unelected People’s
Council, made up of good people chosen
by the elite institutions that support
the opposition, can reform the political
system by excluding voters who are
poorly educated or simply poor. Then the
conservative opposition parties would
finally be able to win elections.
Relying on their allies in the judiciary
and the various official commissions
to prevent elections or set their results
aside has ser ved the right-wing parties
well since the original military coup that
overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. In
the past four months, however, they have
returned to the streets in Bangkok, and
their next step may be to ask the army for
That is the only thing that could give
them their cherished People’s Council and
the disenfranchisement of a substantial
part of the electorate. All their street
demonstrations and legal obstructionism
are ultimately intended to create a
political paralysis that will provide the
pretext for such a coup, and they are now
probably quite close to achieving that
The only little problem is that a whole
generation of Thais has now grown up
to expect that they will have a political
voice in the government of their country.
Another coup, in these circumstances,
could well be the trigger for civil war.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Thailand: Waiting for the coup
PICTURE: Getty Images
Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives to meet her supporters.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
It is interesting to hear when
inter viewing many people on the radio
about science and the stars they almost
always without exception talk about the
Big Bang (explosion) that was the start for
our world and the millions of years when
this happened, to the year 13.82 billion
years ago (1). How would they know that,
did they get a receipt?
Not withstanding the impact that
industrialisation has had on the world, we
actually live in a world of order not chaos.
Explosions destroy, not create.
The complexity of our environment and
its inter-relatedness suggest design.
Rain is a major component of the water
cycle and is responsible for depositing
most of the freshwater on the Earth. It
provides suitable conditions for many types
of ecosystems (1).
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels
caused by the combined effects of the
gravitational forces exerted by the moon and
the sun and the rotation of the Earth.(1).
Seasons, a division of the year, marked
by changes in weather, ecology, and hours
of daylight. Seasons result from the yearly
orbit of the Earth around the sun and the
tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis relative to
the plane of the orbit (1).
The three things I have mentioned,
and there are a lot more, are complex yet
reliable systems that have to be working
from day one for life to exist.
Mankind does not want to acknowledge
there is a God so needs to create another
way, however implausible that is, to provide
the answer to “how did we get here?”
In Genesis 1:31 Then God looked over
all He had made, and He saw that it was
Greymouth Seventh Day Adventist
Big Bang (yeah right)
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