Home' Greymouth Star : July 22nd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1376 - According to legend, the Pied Piper
removes all the rats from the German town of
Hamelin. When the town refuses to pay him,
he plays his pipe and entices the children from
1620 - The exiled British Pilgrims set out
from Holland for the New World on their ship
Speedwell. They land at Plymouth, England,
and transfer to the Mayflower.
1933 - US aviator Wiley Post completes first
solo aircraft flight around world in seven days,
18 hours and 45 minutes.
1942 - Beginning of the battle of the Kokoda
Trail, New Guinea.
1950 - King Leopold III returns to Belgium
after six years of exile, but abdicates in August.
1962 - Algeria declares independence from
France following protracted war of
1976 - Japan completes its World
War Two reparations payments with a
final payment to the Philippines.
1995 - Death of Harold Lar wood,
English fast bowler. He spearheaded
the attack on Australia’s batsmen in
the notorious “ bodyline” cricket series
of the early 1930s.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Gregor Johann Mendel, Austrian botanist
(1822-1882); Edward Hopper, US painter
(1882-1967); Rose Kennedy, wife of former
US ambassador and mother of President John
F Kennedy (1890-1995); Alexander Calder,
US sculptor (1898-1976); Alan Moorhead,
Australian author (1910-1983); Licia Albanese,
Italian-born soprano (1913-); Oscar de la
Renta, Dominican fashion designer (1932-
); Terence Stamp, English actor (1939-);
George Clinton, US singer (1940-);
Bobby Sherman, US actor-singer
(1945-); Danny Glover, US actor
(1946-); Albert Brooks, US actor-
director (1947-); Don Henley, US
singer (1947-); Willem Dafoe, US
actor (1955-); John Leguizamo, US
actor (1964-); David Spade, actor/
comedian (1964-); Rhys Ifans, Welsh actor
(1967-); Daniel Jones, Australian pop musician
(1973-); Rufus Wainwright, Canadian singer-
songwriter (1973-); Selena Gomez, American
actress and pop singer (1992-).
“ When fate hands us a lemon, let’s try to
make lemonade.” — Dale Carnegie, American
“Let the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O
Lord, my rock and my redeemer. “
— (Psalms 19:14)
Borough Council is
with the replacemant
of other staff besides that of the post of borough
engineer. In his monthly report to the council
last night, the acting engineer Mr W R Hall
said of the staffing position; “Reserves are
now down to two men. Difficulty is being
experienced in obtaining suitable replacements.
There has been a fair amount of temporary loss
of time through sickness during this period.”
The Greymouth Borough Council has made
a move on the Chamber of Commerce’s
suggestion that the librarian might hold stocks
of tourist publicity literature for distribution to
The library and bylaws committee chairman
Cr S J Hayden has been instructed to
hold further discussions with the chamber
representatives to establish the amount of
attention likely to be required by the library
Greymouth is to lose its town clerk Mr N E
Clemens, the town’s sixth in its 96 years. He
resigned this morning to take up a similar post
Mr Clemens has given three months’ notice
and expects to leave in late October. By then he
will have completed 15 years as Greymouth’s
leading municipal officer. His departure adds
another staff problem to the council’s growing
Debutantes presented to the Reefton branch
of WDFF at Reefton recently are: Pauline
Bennett, Mary Young, Donna Barkle, Judith
Heaphy, Mary Helson, Carol Buckingham,
Pauline Banks, Joyce Robinson, Marea
Loughnan, Rosalie White, Barbara Mulligan,
Lynda Helson and Jan Agent.
uFood for thought
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nstead of enjoying celebrations
and night time feasts, Palestinians
in Gaza are spending the Islamic
holy month of Ramadan cowering
in their homes and temporary
shelters from Israeli bombs.
Muslims fast during the daylight hours
in Ramadan and sundown would normally
bring a carnival atmosphere to Gaza’s
crowded streets, with lanterns strung
above alleys and children fuelled by sweets
playing until the early hours.
Suhair Abu Jalilah and her two
daughters are among the some 17,000
Palestinians who fled their homes in
Gaza to crowded United Nations schools
after Israel warned it would bomb their
“There’s just no joy this season. We’re
sleeping on mattresses in a crowded
hallway. They provide us our Iftar (the
evening meal to break the fast) but
other times we’re eating porridge and
thyme,” she said as Israeli drones buzzed
“ We’ve been so tired and afraid. We hope
so much to return and feel some kind of
The Gaza Strip already faced a
bleak Ramadan because of soaring
unemployment and poverty, but the
holiday coincided with a battle between
Hamas militants launching rockets at
Israel and Israeli aircraft pounding the
At least 440 Palestinians have been killed
in the fighting, and a truce proposed by
Egypt failed to take hold.
Stores are now closed and people stay
indoors, listening out for the shriek of
rockets and thud of bombs.
Mosque prayers which usually follow the
evening meal have mostly been abandoned
after Israel destroyed one mosque and
damaged another 34, according the local
Al-Mezan Association for Human Rights.
Nearly 260 civilian homes have been
destroyed and 1034 damaged, the group
Israel said the mosque was used to store
rockets and says its attacks only target
militant weapons and personnel and strive
to avoid civilian casualties.
The Hamas Islamist group which runs
the Gaza Strip would usually mark
Ramadan by setting up kitchens for the
needy and disbursing stipends to public
But its political members have now gone
into hiding while fighters have taken to
the front, leaving more humble employees
to cope with the crisis.
Like most other government workers,
doctors in the trauma ward of Gaza’s main
Al-Shifa hospital have not received a
salary in three months and just half their
wages for four months before due to a cash
crunch in the Hamas government and
internal Palestinian political squabbles.
Still, medics have worked 24-hour shifts
every other day, treating the inflow of
bloodied and limbless patients. They keep
their fast by not drinking-water or eating
in daylight and sit down for a modest Iftar
when work allows.
“The meal in the hospital isn’t great of
course, but seeing the condition people are
in you’re grateful for what you have,” Dr
Mohammed Belami said.
“ We know we’ll get our wages eventually,
as well as our rights as a country. In the
meantime, it feels good to help people and
it helps me forget the psychological stress
and low morale I’m going through,” he
Mohammed Silmi sat in the hospital bed
next to his prostrate 14-year old nephew,
who periodically grunts and writhes in
pain, a cast covering his arm and much of
his left side.
An air strike, his uncle said, landed in an
alley near where he and a group of other
boys were playing.
“For us, Ramadan is ruined. He’ ll always
remember it as the worst in his life.” Silmi
said. — Reuters
No joy in war
Ramadan delight a casualty of conf lict
Palestinians react to destroyed homes in the Shejaia neighbourhood, which was heavily shelled by Israel during fighting, in Gaza
Despite levying six rounds of increasingly
tough economic sanctions against Russia
for its actions in Ukraine, President
Barack Obama has left two rich targets
untouched: Moscow ’s natural gas export
behemoth and its main weapons exporter.
Financial warfare against Gazprom or
Rosoboronexport could invite Russian
retaliation against United States European
allies and negative consequences for
Washington — highlighting the dilemmas
Obama faces as he weighs how to respond
to the shooting-down of a Malaysian
airliner over eastern Ukraine on Friday.
“The problem is that there are really
limits on what Obama can do,” Matthew
Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Wilson
Centre think tank in Washington, said.
“ Even if the impulse is to punish the
Russians, you can only go so far in hitting
them because of the wider repercussions”
for European energy supplies and the
US officials said they believe the
Malaysia Airlines tragedy was the work
of Moscow-backed rebels in Ukraine
and that they hoped it would unite the
28-member European Union, whose
sanctions on Russia have lagged well
A US official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said Washington wants the
European Union to speed up its timetable
for drawing up a new list of Russian
targets for its own sanctions. The EU
deadline is now the end of the month.
On Obama’s orders, the US Treasury
has carefully tailored sanctions to inflict
maximum pain on Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and
entities backing the Ukrainian rebels,
while minimising the hurt to European
economies and American business.
Republican critics have accused him of
being too restrained toward Russia.
At a press conference, Obama warned
that he was prepared to tighten sanctions
on Russia if deemed necessary but
acknowledged the risk of sanctions’ harm
to the US economic recovery and the
broader global economy.
“It is a relevant consideration that we
have to keep in mind. The world economy
is integrated. Russia is a large economy,”
The US president did not signal that
new American sanctions on Russia are
For now, Obama and his aides appear
to be waiting for an investigation to pin
responsibility for the downing of flight
MH17, and hoping the global outcry will
prompt Putin to withdraw support for the
rebels without further economic pressure.
Still, said a second US official: “ We have
plenty of room to escalate and hurt their
The latest US sanctions on Russia were
announced the day before the Malaysian
flight was shot down by a surface-to-air
missile. They targeted two Russian banks,
energy firms and defence-related entities.
Notably absent was Gazprom, a
significant energy supplier to Europe and
to Ukraine itself. US officials acknowledge
they have not targeted Gazprom to date
because of concerns it could retaliate
by curbing gas supplies to Europe, with
significant economic impacts.
Also off the list was Rosoboronexport,
which could cause a different kind of
boomerang. In a quirk of geopolitics, the
United States buys Russian helicopters
from the State-run firm to outfit US-
backed Afghani security forces. Cutting
off that flow could be “catastrophic” for
Afghani forces fighting the Taliban, a top
US general told Congress.
“If the US and the EU go the next step
into broad-brush sanctions, Russia will
retaliate,” possibly by withdrawing support
for critical nuclear talks with Iran, Gary
Hufbauer, a former Treasury official, said.
Additionally, US energy companies
and other foreign firms in Russia “will
pay the price in one way or another,”
Hufbauer, now at the Peterson Institute
for International Economics, said.
Hufbauer predicted the next phase of
US sanctions, if it comes, will involve
more surgical targeting of Russian
oligarchs and others close to Putin,
not sweeping curbs on entire sectors of
That would essentially mean adding
more individuals and entities to existing
lists of those frozen out of the US financial
system. But it is unlikely to satisfy US
lawmakers demanding stronger moves if
Russia or its proxies are found responsible
for the destruction of flight MH17, which
killed 298 people.
“ When you have a bully in the
playground, you’ve got to stand up to
him. You can’t sit there and calculate the
potential economic risk,” Senator Dan
Coats, an Indiana Republican and former
US ambassador to Germany, which plays a
key role in EU sanctions policy, said.
“Better to do it now than to pay a much
tougher price, a much harder price, later,”
Coats said in a telephone inter view.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut,
from Obama’s Democratic Party, said
lawmakers are considering introducing
legislation calling for additional sanctions
Murphy, chairman of the Senate’s
Europe subcommittee, echoed many
other US legislators in saying it would
be especially useful if European nations
would join in any more assertive US
It remains unclear how hard Obama is
willing to push European allies, or how
they would respond to such pressure. But
current and former US officials said they
hope European anger over Friday ’s tragedy
will help unify the 28-member EU bloc,
which does 10 times as much trade with
Russia as the US.
More than half of the dead passengers,
189 people, were D utch. Britons, Germans
and Belgians and one American were also
among the dead.
EU leaders agreed — before the
downing of the Malaysian airliner — to
sanction Russian companies that help
destabilise Ukraine and to block new
loans to Russia through two multilateral
lenders. But they held off until the end
of the month on identifying those being
John Herbst, US ambassador to Ukraine
from 2003-2006 and now director of the
Eurasia Centre at the Atlantic Council,
said the Obama administration must push
the Europeans to do more and if necessary
move out even further ahead of its EU
allies despite the risk of causing friction.
“ By any comprehensive analysis Russia
is much more dependent on the West
economically than the West is on Russia,”
“There will certainly be some pain
involved in Europe and the United
States if we take very serious sanctions
against Russia,” Herbst told reporters
on a conference call. “ But the question
to ask those short-sighted businessmen
who worry about their profits: What ’s the
cost of a conflagration in eastern Ukraine
which spirals out of control?” — Reuters
Obama’s sanctions dilemma
National Radio’s Insight programme on
Sunday morning, repeated on Monday
night, yet again waltzed into the province
banging the tawdry drum that so often
had former Greymouth mayor Barry
Dallas and his terrier, Morgan, in a fit of
The programme addressed the downturn
in the Coast economy from yet another
round of mine closures and used
Wellington-based commentators who
did not waste time pulling their punches
about the region’s historical reliance on
digging out the black stuff from under the
mountains, and now they say it is simply
just a case of “I told you so”.
It was these types of out-of-town experts
who would queue up in front of a camera
during Dallas’s reign a few decades back,
usually with a Notown Valley decrepit and
a rusty tin bushman’s hut as a backdrop,
or a tangle of driftwood being smashed by
raging waves at the Greymouth tiphead.
Makes the viewer want to run a mile from
Journalistic licence is one thing, but bad
taste, ‘putting the boot in while the ferals
are down’ is another. It is simply bad taste.
The West Coast could be New Zealand’s
‘Gold Coast ’. It was once the economic
hub of the country through gold and later
coal, which people tend to forget. Gold
Coast conjures up images of lush growth,
pure water and easy living, and this place
has it all, though it keeps much of it secret.
You would not recognise it though, in
Radio New Zealand’s catalogue of doom
on its Insight programme on Sunday.
The programme seemed anchored on
quotes from former Victoria University
economist Geoff Bertram. The only thing
economists can be sure of is what ‘has’
happened to the economy.
When it comes to predicting the
economy, invariably they are wrong.
Economics is like the weather; you never
really know what is going to happen, you
just have to put up with it.
One would have thought that as a long
time taxpayer funded thinker, Dr Bertram
has certain duties to the community,
like advising us along positive instead of
Dr Bertram, a known conser vationist
who jumps in the media from issue to
issue like a maggot on a chop, also claims
to be something of a climate change
expert. The thing about climate change
is that all of the experts have failed to
prevent it. The globe has warmed despite
The fact has happened while the experts
debated and denied it.
It is hard to imagine Dr Bertram
offering face-to-face advice to someone
like Greymouth’s Trevor Bolderson, who
featured on the programme about his
transition from skilled underground,
former Spring Creek coalminer, to clerk at
the Greymouth District Court.
This, after emigrating from the north
of England for the Coast ’s acclaimed
Or to the shopkeepers of Westport,
where redundancies at Stockton have cut
the workforce from 1200 to around 500
in recent times. Economics 101, that I
studied under Dr Bertram 35 years ago
at Victoria University, reckoned one pay
packet passed through eight sets of hands
in a community. Then again, economic
theory is subject to as many theories as
there are economists.
Don’t slit your wrists in Tainui Street
over Dr Bertram’s comments just yet.
Economists are predicting a fall in the
dairy solids price soon and Dr Bertram
typically will drop coal for milk and use
this to hammer away at dirty dairying, like
he did on Sunday ’s Insight by linking the
coal price drop to climate change.
National Radio’s Insight programme
on the Coast ’s economic situation can
best be described as snide. Dialling in a
‘rent-an -expert ’ with no accountability for
their opinions and camouflaging them in
bewitching economic jargon, when the
agenda is something else, is mischievous
For the record, Radio New Zealand
Insight complaints can be sent to gael.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Barry Dallas would
want you to.
Radio NZ report: out-of-town and out-of-touch
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