8/29/2009

 (August 29, 2009 - Lanka Polity) In a press release issued to mark the 26th International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August, Reporters Without Borders has provided a grim reminder that nothing has been heard, sometimes for years, of scores of journalists, who have been kidnapped, arrested or simply kept “appointments” that turned out to be traps in many countries including Sri Lanka.


Mexico, where eight journalists have disappeared since the year 2000, has been identified as the country most affected by this plague while Sri Lanka is mentioned next to that country.


Press release says "In January 2009, The International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka condemned the “culture of impunity and indifference” surrounding the disappearances of journalists in the country. Soldiers arrested Subramaniam Ramachandran, correspondent for Tamil dailies Thinakural and Valampuri, close to a military camp, Kalikai Junction, in the north of Jaffna, in the north of the country on 15 February 2007. His family has heard nothing of him since then. He had been reporting on the illegal trade in sand, implicating a businessman and members of the military. The Jaffna office of the Human Rights Commission handled the case and it was referred to the military authorities, including the commander in chief for the Jaffna region. But as lawyer Mudiyapu Remedias explained, in this type of case “everyone is afraid of challenging the army, which denied any involvement”.


"Vadivel Nimalarajah, a sub-editor on the popular Tamil daily in Jaffna, Uthayan, which is highly critical of the government, has not been heard of since 17 November 2007 when, colleagues believe, he was abducted while cycling home after working overnight at the paper."


“Whether carried out by agents of the state or local criminals bent on settling scores, the many disappearances of journalists highlights the fact that the enemies of press freedom have no hesitation in using the most cowardly and despicable methods to gag journalists. We restate our support for the families of the disappeared and we share the pain they suffer in the waiting and uncertainty about their fate”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.


“We urge the relevant authorities to systematically take these disappearances seriously and to open the badly-needed investigations to find these missing journalists and punish those responsible. It is moreover incredible that cases of ‘enforced disappearance’ implicating agents of the state or those acting with its support can still be going on around the world. We urge countries that have signed the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance to ratify the law as quickly as possible so that it can be put into force”, it added.
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8/28/2009


(August 28, 2009 Lanka Polity) The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has condemned the death threat made to one of Sri Lanka’s leading human rights activists Mr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the Executive Director of the Colombo-based think tank Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).Concerned by this serious threat to Mr Saravanamuttu’s personal safety,the IBAHRI has today written to the Sri Lanka authorities urging them to protect his fundamental rights and physical security, and to conduct a full investigation into the anonymous death threat received by Mr Saravanamuttu at his home on 20 August 2009.

The IBAHRI says it understands that the threat comes under a belief that Mr. Saravanamuttu divulged information to the EU Commissioner for External Relations which could cause the European Union to suspend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus; preferential trading benefits to Sri Lanka due to expire in October. The death threat apparently stated ‘come October and Sri Lanka is denied GSP Plus you WILL be killed…’

However, the IBAHRI notes from a 21 August news release on the CPA’s website that it has ‘consistently argued that the GSP Plus benefits MUST be renewed, and that Sri Lanka should use the opportunity to also strengthen its human rights protection framework by complying with international law.’

The IBAHRI May 2009 report 'Justice in Retreat: A report on the independence of the legal profession and the rule of law in Sri
Lanka' concluded that there was a pattern of intimidation routinely expressed against members of civil society, including journalists, academics and NGO workers who are perceived to be critical of the Government or its policies, particularly with respect to the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

‘The IBAHRI fact-finding delegation to Sri Lanka in March found that the lack of prompt and effective investigations into threats and attacks against members of civil society has fostered a sense of impunity surrounding these incidents and has created a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Sri Lanka,’ said Alex Wilks, IBAHRI Programme Lawyer and member of the delegation. *‘It is a matter of great concern that members of civil society continue to receive such threats, despite the end of the conflict. Mr Saravanamuttu and the CPA have a right to lobby and campaign on rule of law issues without fearing for their lives.’

‘The rights to freedom of expression and security of the person are well-established in international law and are of fundamental importance to a free civil society,’ stated Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair of the IBAHRI. ‘We call on the Sri Lankan authorities to show that such insidious threats against free speech cannot be tolerated by ensuring there is a swift investigation and that steps are taken to protect Mr Saravanamuttu and other members of the CPA.’

The death threat made to Mr Saravanamuttu follows a number of reports of similar threats made to leading members of civil society. Such threats to prominent human rights activists endanger the fragile freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.
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8/16/2009

(August 16, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka government has made labeling compulsory for polythene products with effect from August 15.

All polythene product manufacturers should label their products with information such as license number of the Environment Protection Authority, registration number, name and address of the manufacturing company, thickness in microns, length and width of the product in millimeters and the product’s generic name.

Polythene production factories mushroomed in the island during the recent past. Before Sri Lanka imposed ban on less than 20 micron polythene in 2007, there were around less than 300 hundred factories. The number increased around ten fold after the ban as the polythene manufacturing became a cottage industry. According to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), there are only a very few eco-friendly bag producing factories in the country.

Central Environmental Authority and the Consumer Affairs Authority are monitoring the polythene manufacturing and sales.Last year they raided and prosecuted nearly 30 factory owners last year, for selling polythene below 20 microns.
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8/15/2009

(August 15, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lankan polity seems at the brink of the limit of the patience on the ongoing spate of police atrocities.

On August 13, Angulana police station situated around 10 km south of Colombo was attacked by the residents of the area following the recovery of the bodies of two youths that were arrested the previous day in relation to an incident of indecency towards a woman.

The two victims, Dhanushka Udaya Kumara (21) and Dinesh Tharanga (27) were the residents of houses close to Angulana Cooperative Shop. The mother of Dinesh Tharanga, Devika Vinifreeda says that she visited her son and his friend that were in police custody in the night of August 12th. However, when she went to visit them again in the following morning, the officers had told her that the suspects were released.

The police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said that there are no entries regarding the said arrest in police files. A spokesman of Mount Lavinia police station said to Dinamina newspaper that the suspects had been the members of an underworld gang and they might have been killed by a rival gang. However, on August 14, the same Mount Lavinia police produced five suspects including the Officer-in -Charge of Angulana police station in the magistrate court with a B report related to homicide.

The bodies of the two youths were later recovered with gunshots near a bridge located close to Angulana police station and on the railway line. The angry residents of the area attacked the police station with clubs and stones injuring officials including the Officer-in-Charge T.M.D. Newton. Police Department later transferred the officials to other stations.

Before the public protest mounted the Police Department attempted to transfer the officials and to close the file of this brutal murder. Transferring of junior officials is the only action taken against the police offenders in Sri Lanka in recent times. In another incident, five police officials of the Colombo Crime Division were also transferred with regard to an incident of torture of a student of an IT campus in Malabe, around 20 kilometers away from the capital city.

the student, Nipuna Ramanayaka, was severely tortured by the wife and a offspring of the director of the Colombo Crime Division SSP Vaas Gunasekara. At the moment of the writing, the media reported that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana had been transferred to Police Headquarters with immediate effect. No action against the police officer's wife and son has been taken so far despite repeated questioning of the media.

Meanwhile, the alleged police officer is accused of staging a drama of recovering a suspected Tamil Tiger van laden with large amounts of explosives. Another senior police officer who is in charge of the area the recovery was made has challenged that the said recovery is a farce. Media accuses that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana staged this drama to cover from disgrace caused by the allegations against his wife and son that are publicly enjoying impunity.

Recently, Sri Lankan Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe spoke of police actions violating human rights of one of his staff members that was arrested in an illegal manner with weapons.

Most of the police arrests in Sri Lanka violate the law and can be categorized as abductions. No warrants are produced; suspects are not explained the causes for the arrests and no receipts are issued to the families in accordance with Presidential directions. The IT student who was tortured by the police family says that the police threatened him to be killed alleging him to be a member of an underworld gang.

Police often gun down the suspected underworld goons and say that they attempted to escape whilst they were taken to show the hidden weapons.

Human rights organizations allege that the government's measures to suppress the underworld have opened wide space for police atrocities. Summary killings of underworld figures in the guise of opening fire at them as they attempt to escape save the persons that give contracts to the underworld.
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8/13/2009

(August 13, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Internationally renowned Indian agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, who is considered the father of the Green Revolution that radically improved India's food output in the 1960s, has decided not to accept Sri Lanka President's offer to be adviser for the agricultural development in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. 


Swaminathan, 84, visited Sri Lanka and met President Mahinda Rajapaksa in June after the Sri Lankan state forces defeated the Tamil nationalist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) confining the entire 280,000 some population of Wanni in refugee camps."I don't plan to go immediately (to Sri Lanka) unless there is some kind of political settlement," Swaminathan told IANS. "There are people who feel that unless Tamils in Sri Lanka can live in dignity, other things are subsidiary. This is their viewpoint. I have no plans to go to Sri Lanka in the immediate future. There are a lot of people who have been displaced. As soon as conditions are conducive, I will see," said the highly respected scientist who has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and the World Food Prize in Washington. 

In February this year, Indian blue chip Infosys Technologies chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy declined to be the IT adviser to the Sri Lankan government citing personal reasons. Murthy was appointed Feb 13 as Rajapaksa’s international adviser on IT after he was invited to be the chief guest at the launch of “2009 – Year of English and Information Technology” at the presidential secretariat in Colombo.
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8/12/2009

(August 12, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka is planning to issue $500 million of five-year dollar bonds, aiming for a coupon rate of around 7 percent.

This is the second such loan after Sri Lanka's debut five-year, $500 million sovereign dollar bond, which was oversubscribed 300 percent when it was issued in October 2007 with a coupon rate of 8.25 percent.

The government is in close contact with the HSBC and JP Morgan with regard to the loan subject. 

Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal recently said the central bank would decide by August whether to pursue a $500 million sovereign bond, a syndicated loan or extend existing bills and bonds open to foreign investors.

A a Sri Lanka central bank official said to Reuters on August 11 that it had accepted $190 million in bids for two-year Sri Lanka development bonds at auction. The bonds will are priced at six-month LIBOR plus 4.50 percent.
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(August 12, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Reliable sources reveal that KP, a.k.a Selvarasa Pathmanathan or Kumaran Pathanathan who was captured in Malaysia and brought to Colombo by Sri Lanka government is now assisting the government to crack down on the remnants of his organization locally and internationally. KP was appointed the General Secretary of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) after his leader Velupillai Prabakaran was killed by government forces on May 18, 2009 at a location in Mullaithivu district of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. KP is the senior-most remaining leader of the LTTE.

The brother of the President Mahinda Rajapakse, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who excelled in defeating one the most sophisticated and long lasted guerrilla movement, had one to one talks with KP immediately after he was brought to Colombo, reliable sources say.

Unconfirmed reports say that KP was captured and brought to Colombo following an undisclosed understanding between him and the government.

KP was handling a major military supply and business wing of the LTTE. In the last phase of the military onslaught against the Tiger movement, LTTE leader appointed him as the plenipotentiary of the organization. He was consolidating as the leader of the organization amidst resistance of some other LTTE seniors by the time he was captured at a hotel in Kuala Lampur last week.

Meanwhile, the sources say that the government has prepared a plan to suppress the military, organizational and fund raising networks of the LTTE even without leaving space for the Tamil nationalist separatism to raise its head.
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8/11/2009

(August 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) British Tamils Forum says that the Sri Lankan Government has once again exposed its arrogance as a ‘democratic state’ apparently unbound by international law and order, extending their practice of illegal abductions, kidnap, disappearances and violations of human rights with impunity, this time across international borders. The military establishment’s disrespect and disregard to international law and order in Sri Lanka is now being permitted internationally, it seems, the British Tamils Forum says.
Through the statement issued, British Tamils demand:
•        UK Government to, along with other governments, demand from the Sri Lankan Government that Mr Pathmanathan must be produced immediately in a court of law and charges made against him as soon as possible
•        The ICRC must be given access to Mr Pathmanathan immediately and Article 3 Convention against torture must be followed to protect Mr Pathmanathan’s human rights and safeguard his wellbeing
•        Mr Pathmanathan must be given access to legal representation according to international laws
•        Any breach of international law by governments, government institutions or agencies involved in this illegal abduction and extraordinary rendition should be investigated and action taken to establish law and order

•        UK government, along with US and other administrations with firm belief in international law and order, should speak out against such international acts of crime by a state
•        Foreign and Commonwealth Office must review its stance on supporting suspension of member states from the Commonwealth, whether breach of law without precedents can go unpunished
•        Media that values human rights and respects law and order should promote action against such acts of crime by a state
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(August 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Amnesty International has launched a campaign called "Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka."  
The campaign also includes a Facebook application and a 34-page briefing paper, both of which can be found at:  http://blog.amnestyusa.org/asia/unlock-the-camps-in-sri-lanka/.  An online letterwriting action for the campaign can be found at http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=12651.  
Please consider taking action, through the Facebook application and/or the online letterwriting action, to help the displaced civilians in Sri Lanka, AI appeals.
"These (camps) are effectively detention camps. They are run by the military and the camp residents are prevented from leaving them; they are denied basic legal safeguards. The government's claim that it needs to hold people to carry out screening is not a justifiable reason to detain civilians including entire families, the elderly and children, for an indefinite period," says AI in a press release.

The press statement adds, "Displaced people have even been prevented from talking to aid workers. With no independent monitors able to freely visit the camps, many people are unprotected and at risk from enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrest and sexual violence.

"According to government figures, the fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) displaced over 409,000 people. At least 280,000 are displaced from areas previously under LTTE control. A dramatic influx of people fleeing the fighting and crossing to government controlled areas took place from March 2009.

"The displaced people, including at least 50,000 children, are being accommodated in 41 camps spread over four districts. The majority of the displaced are in Vavuniya District where Manik Farm is the biggest camp.

"When United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited some of the camps in May, he said: "I have travelled around the world and visited similar places, but this is by far the most appalling scene I have seen."

"While some progress had been made on providing basic needs, much still needs to be done on the right to health, food, water, family reunion and access to relatives.




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(August 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) On August 09, an unknown group of treasure hunters exploded a stone bed in 'Mihindu Guhava' caves in historic Mihinthale archeological site in Sri Lanka. Buddhists believe this bed was used by Arhath Mahinda Thero, the monk who is believed the person that introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka in 3rd century BC.

The treasure hunters damaged three of the four circular carvings at the four corners of the stone bed, site sources say.

The officials of the Archaeological Department point out that there are not sufficient watchers to guard this site. An entire Army will not be sufficient to guard the archaeological sites that are scattered all over Sri Lanka including forests.

These archaeological sites can be protected only by educating public that these places are not the treasure caches or the items that can be sold to foreigners for a lucrative income. Instead the public should be motivated to identify them as heritage from the past that should be protected for the future generations.

This cannot be done by mere preaching of the archaeologists via media. Both media and scholars of Sri Lanka have lost faith among people thanks to their own conduct.

The authorities like politicians, officials, archaeologists, historians and Buddhist monks should stop mystifying the past for the present gains. People must be able to see the brethren of the past as ones who were also human beings like themselves and not like the supernatural human beings that performed miracles and hid gold in every nook and corner.
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8/10/2009

(August 10, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Nobody seems astonished with the massive victory of the ruling united People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) at the Uva Provincial Council election. The 'democratic'way the Rajapakse regime conducts election campaigns manipulating public property as unlimited party resources is a blatant daylight robbery of public consent. However, it is unequivocal that the UPFA is popular enough to register a landslide victory in an election in south in the aftermath of the defeat of the Tamil Tigers even if the elections are conducted actually democratically. Government needs not only victory but also the destruction of the opponents.

Writing to the The Island today, Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka says, "While a municipal election does not usually qualify as historic, the elections to local authorities in Jaffna and Vavuniya certainly are. They are the first elections to be held in the centers of Tamil political life after the end of the Thirty Years War of secession with the conclusive defeat of the Tigers."

In fact, in relation to remarkable developments of Sri Lankan polity, the elections for the Jaffna Municipal Council and the Vavuniya Urban Council are far important than the Uva Provincial Council election. The ruling party conducted the election campaign in north in the same manner it did in Uva Province. Political repression under the state power prevails same throughout the island whilst a military pressure is added in north.

Expressing disappointment over the polls results to The Island, Ealam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) leader and Minister Douglas Devananda regretted their failure to take the Vavuniya Urban Council despite the ruling coalition implementing a range of measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people in the districts. The TNA had done absolutely nothing for them, he said adding that people should have been grateful to the UPFA for liberating them from LTTE terrorism.

EPDP initially opined to contest the Jaffna Municipal Council alone but had to join the UPFA umbrella due to pressure from the government. Media reported that over 100,000 people came to watch 'Apsaras' music band play in Jaffna with local and South Indian artistes in an election-eve pageant sponsored by the government. However, mere 22% of the voters, i.e. 22,280, turned up for voting on August 08. Of them, less than 50%, 10,602, voted to the ruling UPFA.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that the government claims partially responsible for the misery of the Tamils obtained 8080 votes to become second in Jaffna. TNA recorded an outright win in Vavuniya where People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Ealam (PLOTE) placed second and the ruling UPFA fell to third place.

Now, various individuals are analyzing this election result according to their political agendas. Yet, one obvious point is that the regime that praises itself of freeing the Tamils from the grip of the terrorism is defeated among the same 'liberated' masses while the TNA that is branded as a paw of the defeated Tamil rebels is still powerful in a context their former mentor is no more.

The feeble voice raised by the defeated Tamils via TNA, PLOTE, Ananda sangaree who elected to the Jaffna Municipal Council from Tamil United Liberation Front and even the EPDP that helped UPFA to win Jaffna is not the one that the Rajapakse regime wants.

The signal given to India by Tamils through this election is significant in political future of Sri Lanka.
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8/08/2009

The following was adapted from a speech on May 2, 2009 at The Progressive’s 100th anniversary conference and originally printed in The Progressive magazine, August 2009 issue. 

We are in a progressive moment, a moment when the ground is shifting beneath our feet, and anything is possible. What we considered unimaginable about what could be said and hoped for a year ago is now possible. At a time like this, it is absolutely critical that we be as clear as we possibly can be about what it is that we want because we might just get it. So the stakes are high.

Bailout works

I usually talk about the bailout in speeches these days. We all need to understand it because it is a robbery in progress, the greatest heist in monetary history. But today I’d like to take a different approach: What if the bailout actually works, what if the financial sector is saved and the economy returns to the course it was on before the crisis struck? Is that what we want? And what would that world look like? The answer is that it would look like Sarah Palin. Hear me out, this is not a joke. I don’t think we have given sufficient consideration to the meaning of the Palin moment. Think about it: Sarah Palin stepped onto the world stage as Vice Presidential candidate on August 29 at a McCain campaign rally, to much fanfare. Exactly two weeks later, on September 14, Lehman Brothers collapsed, triggering the global financial meltdown.

So in a way, Palin was the last clear expression of capitalism-as-usual before everything went South. That’s quite helpful because she showed us-in that plainspoken, down-homey way of hers-the trajectory the US economy was on before its current meltdown. By offering us this glimpse of a future, one narrowly avoided, Palin provides us with an opportunity to ask a core question: Do we want to go there? Do we want to save that pre-crisis system, get it back to where it was last September? Or do we want to use this crisis, and the electoral mandate for serious change delivered by the last election, to radically transform that system? We need to get clear on our answer now because we haven’t had the potent combination of a serious crisis and a clear progressive democratic mandate for change since the 1930s. We use this opportunity, or we lose it.


So what was Sarah Palin telling us about capitalism-as-usual before she was so rudely interrupted by the meltdown? Let’s first recall that before she came along, the U.S. public, at long last, was starting to come to grips with the urgency of the climate crisis, with the fact that our economic activity is at war with the planet, that radical change is needed immediately. We were actually having that conversation: Polar bears were on the cover of Newsweek magazine. And then in walked Sarah Palin. The core of her message was this: Those environmentalists, those liberals, those do-gooders are all wrong. You don’t have to change anything. You don’t have to rethink anything. Keep driving your gas-guzzling car, keep going to Wal-Mart and shop all you want. The reason for that is a magical place called Alaska. Just come up here and take all you want.

“Americans,” she said at the Republican National Convention, “we need to produce more of our own oil and gas. Take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska, we have got lots of both.”

And the crowd at the convention responded by chanting and chanting: “Drill, baby, drill.” Watching that scene on television, with that weird creepy mixture of sex and oil and jingoism, I remember thinking: “Wow, the RNC has turned into a rally in favour of screwing Planet Earth.” Literally.

But what Palin was saying is what is built into the very DNA of capitalism: the idea that the world has no limits. She was saying that there is no such thing as consequences, or real-world deficits. Because there will always be another frontier, another Alaska, another bubble. Just move on and discover it. Tomorrow will never come.

Financial crisis

This is the most comforting and dangerous lie that there is: the lie that perpetual, unending growth is possible on our finite planet. And we have to remember that this message was incredibly popular in those first two weeks, before Lehman collapsed. Despite Bush’s record, Palin and McCain were pulling ahead. And if it weren’t for the financial crisis, and for the fact that Obama started connecting with working class voters by putting deregulation and trickle-down economics on trial, they might have actually won.

The President tells us he wants to look forward, not backwards. But in order to confront the lie of perpetual growth and limitless abundance that is at the center of both the ecological and financial crises, we have to look backwards. And we have to look way backwards, not just to the past eight years of Bush and Cheney, but to the very founding of this country, to the whole idea of the settler State.

Modern capitalism was born with the so-called discovery of the Americas. It was the pillage of the incredible natural resources of the Americas that generated the excess capital that made the Industrial Revolution possible. Early explorers spoke of this land as a New Jerusalem, a land of such bottomless abundance, there for the taking, so vast that the pillage would never have to end. This mythology is in our Biblical stories-of floods and fresh starts, of raptures and rescues and it is at the center of the American Dream of constant reinvention. What this myth tells us is that we don’t have to live with our pasts, with the consequences of our actions. We can always escape, start over.

These stories were always dangerous, of course, to the people who were already living on the ‘discovered’ lands, to the people who worked them through forced labour. But now the planet itself is telling us that we cannot afford these stories of endless new beginnings anymore. That is why it is so significant that at the very moment when some kind of human survival instinct kicked in, and we seemed finally to be coming to grips with the Earth’s natural limits, along came Palin, the new and shiny incarnation of the colonial frontierswoman, saying: Come on up to Alaska. There is always more. Don’t think, just take.

Economic system

This is not about Sarah Palin. It’s about the meaning of that myth of constant ‘discovery,’ and what it tells us about the economic system that they’re spending trillions of dollars to save. What it tells us is that capitalism, left to its own devices, will push us past the point from which the climate can recover. And capitalism will avoid a serious accounting-whether of its financial debts or its ecological debts-at all costs. Because there’s always more. A new quick fix. A new frontier.

Gloomy economy forecast. Courtesy: Google.lk
That message was selling, as it always does. It was only when the stock market crashed that people said, “Maybe Sarah Palin isn’t a great idea this time around. Let’s go with the smart guy to ride out the crisis.” I almost feel like we have been given a last chance, some kind of a reprieve. I try not to be apocalyptic, but the global warming science I read is scary. This economic crisis, as awful as it is, pulled us back from that ecological precipice that we were about to drive over with Sarah Palin and gave us a tiny bit of time and space to change course. And I think it’s significant that when the crisis hit, there was almost a sense of relief, as if people knew they were living beyond their means and had gotten caught. We suddenly had permission to do things together other than shop, and that spoke to something deep.

But we are not free from the myth. The willful blindness to consequences that Sarah Palin represents so well is embedded in the way Washington is responding to the financial crisis. There is just an absolute refusal to look at how bad it is. Washington would prefer to throw trillions of dollars into a black hole rather than find out how deep the hole actually is. That’s how willful the desire is not to know.

And we see lots of other signs of the old logic returning. Wall Street salaries are almost back to 2007 levels. There’s a certain kind of electricity in the claims that the stock market is rebounding. “Can we stop feeling guilty yet?” you can practically hear the cable commentators asking. “Is the bubble back yet?” And they may well be right. This crisis isn’t going to kill capitalism or even change it substantively.

Without huge popular pressure for structural reform, the crisis will prove to have been nothing more than a very wrenching adjustment. The result will be even greater inequality than before the crisis. Because the millions of people losing their jobs and their homes aren’t all going to be getting them back, not by a long shot. And manufacturing capacity is very difficult to rebuild once it’s auctioned off.

Financial markets

It’s appropriate that we call this a ‘bailout.’ Financial markets are being bailed out to keep the ship of finance capitalism from sinking, but what is being scooped out is not water. It’s people. It’s people who are being thrown overboard in the name of ‘stabilization.’ The result will be a vessel that is leaner and meaner. Much meaner. Because great inequality-the super rich living side by side with the economically desperate-requires a hardening of the hearts. We need to believe ourselves superior to those who are excluded in order to get through the day. So this is the system that is being saved: the same old one, only meaner.

And the question that we face is: Should our job be to bail out this ship, the biggest pirate ship that ever was, or to sink it and replace it with a sturdier vessel, one with space for everyone? One that doesn’t require these ritual purges, during which we throw our friends and our neighbours overboard to save the people in first class. One that understands that the Earth doesn’t have the capacity for all of us to live better and better.
But it does have the capacity, as Bolivian President Evo Morales said recently at the U.N., “for all of us to live well.” Because make no mistake: Capitalism will be back. And the same message will return, though there may be someone new selling that message: You don’t need to change. Keep consuming all you want. There’s plenty more. Drill, baby, drill. Maybe there will be some technological fix that will make all our problems disappear.

And that is why we need to be absolutely clear right now.

Capitalism can survive this crisis. But the world can’t survive another capitalist comeback.

The writer is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine.
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(August 08, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka that boasts to be a great nation, especially following the defeat of the Tamil Ealam nationalist movement Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) is trying to be example to world in many other phenomenons as well other than 'defeating terrorism.'

But some other more backward nations are more forward in some points and Sri Lanka has to follow them, at least for some time until this 'big miracle' overtake them.

This news highlights what can happen in Sri Lanka in recent future.




DAKAR, 7 August 2009 (IRIN) - Rights groups have criticized the two-year jail sentences meted out in the Gambia to six journalists for publishing a statement criticizing President Yahya Jammeh.

The journalists, working for The Point and Foroyaa newspapers, were sentenced on charges of sedition and criminal defamation for publishing a 11 June press union statement criticizing the president’s comments on the unsolved murder of Deyda Hydara, editor of The Point.

"Despite President Jammeh's earlier claims to respect press freedom and freedom of speech, he has now sealed Gambia’s last remaining independent voices," the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa programme coordinator, Tom Rhodes, told IRIN.

Reporters Without Borders said in a 6 August statement: “We will soon run out of words to express our outrage at President Yahya Jammeh’s government and its behaviour towards journalists. Is it a crime to express an opinion and ask government officials to explain their actions? Appealing for what is regarded as transparency in other countries is a crime punishable by imprisonment in Gambia.”

The sentences are the most recent in a string of arrests and journalist detentions in the Gambia since President Jammeh came to power.

President Jammeh said in a June statement: “They [journalists] think they can hide behind so-called press freedom and violate the law and get away with it. They got it wrong this time. We are going to prosecute them to the letter.”

The defense will reportedly appeal the verdict.
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8/07/2009


(August 07, 2009 -Lanka Polity) More than 100,000 of people reportedly flocked into the Duraiappa esplanade in Jaffna in Northern Province of Sri Lanka to see the Sri Lankan and Indian Tamil singers perform after a long time in the cultural capital of Sri Lankan Tamils.Duraiappa was a mayor of the city who was gunned down by the rebels, marking the beginning of the bloody civil strife that took around 80,000 lives in a span of three decades.

The musical show was organized by the government parallel to the elections for the Jaffna Municipal Council.The residents of Jaffna have limited freedom for cultural activities since the peninsula is under curfew in each night for years. Government has deployed 40,000 military personnel, 99% Sinhalese, to guard the Tamil dominated city. The Army to civilian ratio is one tenth there, sources say. Government media say that the tight security has been eased now for the benefit of the residents.

Following the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), that had a great influence over the Tamil populace of the country, Sri Lanka's Sinhala majority dominated government is trying to re-merge the Tamil polity to the socio-economic main stream, however without granting solutions for their long standing political demands of the minority ethnicities.

A process of gradual normalization is being taken place in the country and the government is slowly easing the sanctions that had been imposed on the Tamil dominated areas for many years. The major highway to Jaffna was once opened last week for the passengers to travel in buses. They have to make a long sea journey from Trincomalee in a ship otherwise. The affluent sections pay a high airfare to fly to Jaffna.

All vehicles to and from Northern Province are sanctioned to cross Medawachchiya checkpoint in the North Central Province and travel and transport is carried out end to end. However, the government said yesterday that the vehicles with essential commodities would be allowed to cross the checkpoint without a special pass.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the government allowed 1100 internally displaced people that were held in camps in Vavuniya to return to their villages in Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara districts. However, no civilians of Kilinochchi and Vauniya districts have been resettled yet. The government has promised to rehabilitate and resettle around 80% of the 280,000 war displaced people by the end of this year. De-mining is carried out with the assistance of the government of India.

However, the screening for the Tamil Tiger sympathizers in IDP camps is still underway and the police last week arrested Kilinochchi District Secretary Nagalingam Vedanayagam for having association with the LTTE.

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(August 07, 2009 -Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dishanayaka said at an election-eve press conference that his department spent Rs. 11.2 million to remove the illegal publicity material like posters, banners, hoardings etc. in five past elections in vain.

He said further allocations would not be granted to police since they did not perform the job well and the department funds were wasted.

The Election Commissioner leveled a scathing attack at the election system of the country that he said the people with money and muscle power are advantaged. Political ethics would not improve until the current election system was changed, he added.

Sri Lanka is to hold elections for the Uva Provincial Council, Jaffna Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council tomorrow.
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8/06/2009

(August 06, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A student of Sri Lanka's IT campus in Malabe says that he was tortured by police due to an enmity with an offspring of a senior police official. The offspring is also a student of the same campus.

The victim Nipuna Ramanayaka of Rathnapura says that a police team abducted him and took him to the house of the Director of the Colombo Crime Division Vaas Gunawardhana. Ramanayaka said while being treated for injuries in National Hospital that he was beaten by the wife of the above mentioned police officer, the son of the police officer who is also a student of the university and by others. They even uprooted his hair and beard and made him to eat them, the student said. A similar act took place in the incident of abduction and assault of the Working Journalists' Association Secretary Poddala Jayantha.

Later, the parents found the student in Dematagoda police station. The victim says that police threatened him to link him to the underworld and to commit a summary killing.

(Photo courtesy of Lanka E News)
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(August 06, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Telecom Malaysia that owns Sri Lanka's largest mobile communication network with 5.8 million subscribers and Bharathi Airtel that has invested $125 million and boasts about one million mobile connections within the launch of its operations in Sri Lanka are competing to buy the Tigo.


Tigo, owned by Luxembourg-based Millicom International, has a network with over two million subscribers. Tigo  is Sri Lanka's third largest mobile operator and it is worth $150-200 million.

India's Bharathi Airtel, Malaysia's Axiata Group, Russia's Vimpelcom and UAE's Etisalat are competing for Tigo. Axiata Group owns 85% of Dialog Telecom.

Last month, Millicom said it had received expressions of interest for its Asian assets and that it had appointed Goldman Sachs as advisor for the transaction. The company said it may either break up its Asian assets and sell them separately or may consider selling them together.
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8/05/2009

(August 05, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The operations of Sri Lanka state against the underworld goons has come under severe pressure from the government politicians as the hand has stretched 'too far' to the official staffs of the Ministers.

A prominent Minister who is eying to the foreign affairs job is now talking about human rights following one of the members of his personal staff was taken into custody with weapons due to links with the underworld.

Another Minister who is ill-famous for his notoriety had to accompany a well known drug dealer via VIP exit to board in a flight to England and had to stay in the aeroplane till it was ready to take off to save the life of his companion.

Sources say that the Ministers are pointing out to the leaders that they will need these underworld goon to run election campaigns. However, reliable sources say that the leaders are unable to hold the operation since they cannot get the officials that lead it bowed to political influence.

Meanwhile, many underworld goons are killed as they are fired at by police when they are try to escape as accused in the middle of the night as they accompany police to show the weapon caches.

Some other underworld goons are killed on streets by unknown persons.
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(August 05, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Statistics Department is preparing for a country wide population census in 2011. This is the first time in 30 years the Department is to hold a complete and accurate island wide census.

After the 1981 census, the government failed to conduct census in most parts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces that were under influence of the Tamil Tiger guerrillas who were militarily defeated in May 2009.

The population figures the state has now are inaccurate due to theese incomplete census. This was clearly displayed with the government's calculations on the number of people in the uncleared areas during the last leg of the siege against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). There are around 280,000 internally displaced persons in refugee camps now although the government calculated far less number of people in the no-fire zone during the last stage of the war.

Sri Lanka Statistics Department projects the population is above 20 million now. It is believed that 80,000 people were killed in the 30 year civil war in Sri Lanka.
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8/04/2009

(August 04, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Shan Jayasinghe, a coordinating secretary of Sri Lanka Minister of Human Rights has been abducted by a an unknown group that came in a white van. The fate of the victim is yet to be known.

The person is known as an underworld gang leader in his residential area, Mathugama in the Kaluthara district despite his being a coordinating secretary of the minister of Human Rights.

Sri Lanka government has launched an operation against the underworld.
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(August 04, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the movement that fought for a ethnic Tamil dominated separate state in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka for three decades is silently re-organizing among the Diaspora Tamils following Sri Lanka Government militarily uprooted their forces within the island.

Sources say that the new LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP is consolidating power within the structure. Sri Lankan intelligence wings recently focused attention towards the involvement of a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP who is now abroad on leave to strike a compromise between KP and the LTTE's Diaspora Affairs leader Castro who was not in good terms with the new leader.

LTTE is trying to give it a democratic face in restructuring. However, the sources say that it has become very difficult for the movement to adjust to democracy following decades of militant politics.

Meanwhile, US resident Viswanathan Rudrakumaran, an offspring of a one time Jaffna Mayor, who represented LTTE in peace talks has been assigned to form a Transnational Government of Tamil Ealam, a government in exile sans a host state. He said to Indian magazine Tehelka that elections for the new endeavor will be held in April 2010.
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8/03/2009

(August 03, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A study in markets of Sri Lanka revealed that the laws introduced by the state since the beginning of 2007 to curtail the use of polythene had completely failed and it had caused rapid increase of net usage  this environmentally hazardous material. Although the manufacturing, sale and use of less than 20 micron thickness of polythene is illegal in Sri Lanka, they can be easily acquired from all the nooks and corners of the country including the IDP camps.

All the rhetoric of the then Minister of Environment Maithripala Sirisena to introduce alternates to 'shopping bags' led the country to nowhere and the packaging industry moved to use more polythene and plastic after the introduction of these regulations. Even the curd manufacturers that traditionally used earthen pots for packaging have begun to use plastic now.

Although there were around 300 polythene manufacturing factories by the time the laws were introduced, the number has escalated by tenfold within the two years of the implementation of laws, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources sources say.The Ministry lacks resources to monitor this expanded industry, they said.
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8/02/2009

(August 02, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Following the abduction of Poddala Jayantha, the Secretary of the Working Journalists' Association of Sri Lanka, the police arrested Lanka-e-News journalists Sandaruwan Senadheera and Benet Rupasinghe. They were produced in court in relation to the abduction. The reason for the arrest is Rupasinghe who got the information about the abduction taking action to inform about it to the authorities and the family of the victim.

Later, Poddala Jayantha appealed from the hospital bed not to put the fellow journalist under pressure for an incident they are no linked to in anyway.

Following is an appeal by the Lanka-e-News team.

Dear friends,
The unreasonable court hearing against Lankaenews regarding the deliberate assault of fellow journalist Poddala Jayantha will begin tomorrow,
The editors of Lankaenews have to face charges after being wrongfully linked to this assault, whereas the authorities have no intention whatsoever to bring the real offenders to justice.
Join us for a peaceful protest in front of the Gangodawila court house tomorrow to support us against this tyranny.

Lanka E News
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(August 02, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's new Minister of Tourism, Nandana Gunathilaka has decided to give up the recently launched tagline "Sri Lanka; Small Miracle."

The Minister has made the President aware that the use of the word "small" is not suitable for a great nation like Sri Lanka. However, Gunathilaka's clan earlier opposed power sharing on the basis that Sri Lanka is a small island.

Lakbima News reported that a promotional documentary film on Sri Lanka Tourism (for marketing purposes) produced by a company named Red Ice, Bombay, claimed a staggering Rs.29 million while Phoenix Ogilvy (Phoenix O&M Pvt Ltd.) the advertising company was paid a thumping Rs.40 million for creating the brand name and producing promotional material, such as brochures and posters. The minister had pointed out that the brand launch at Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) cost Rs.17.7 million.

The Minister sees that this as an extravagance. As far as we know, the international marketing of tourism is not "a simple task" as the Minister sees it. "If leading scholars in the country involve in creating a brand name, it could be done within few days," says the Minister. The marketing specialists will definitely be amused with the Minister's naivety.

It is true that the capitalist advertising is too much bragging and full of falsehood. Yet, Gunathilaka's "socialist" option is sure to be failed. International tourism marketing should be based on a science and should not be like the production of "Ayuboweva - Maharajanane" song.

We will not wonder if this new venture will finally end up with a new multi-million contract offered to the advertising company owned by Minister Sarath Amunugama's daughter.

View Sri Lanka; Small Miracle documentary
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(August 02, 2009 Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka state is reportedly planning to sell sovereign bonds to raise funds possibly US $ 500 million soon, government sources say.

In 2007, Central Bank of Sri Lanka  sold $500 million of bonds due in October 2012, at a yield 397.2 basis points higher than U.S. Treasuries of similar maturity.

HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Capital had arranged Sri Lanka’s debut overseas bond sale.  Investors placed orders for more than three times the amount of debt sold.

The government has already in touch with the HSBC and JPMorgan to arrange meetings with investors in the U.S., India, Hong Kong and Singapore to highlight prospects in the island nation after the end of its civil war.
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(August 02, 2009 - Lanka Polity)

Have you always dreamed about studying at The New York Film Academy? This is your opportunity, regardless of where you live, work and film. The Put it On Picture Show Contest is awarding just that: a free scholarship to the New York Film Academy and a cash prize of $5,000 USD for the first prize in Best Feature, Best Short, and Best Achievement in Acting categories. Second prize in Best Feature and Best Short is an HD Prosumer digital video camera.

www.putiton.com

Put it On is a brand new web showcase and gallery for artists in four different areas: fashion, film, music and art. Artists get 1 free GB of virtual storage space, and can chose to make their work available for download or purchase at whatever price they chose. The site is available in 10 different languages through automated translation.

To enter the competition, just submit one film showing your best work. Any topic from any part of the world is acceptable for entry. Videos can be in any language too, but subtitles in English are required. You can submit a film in only one category: either Best Short or Best Feature (longer than 45 minutes).
For more details about the competition, visit Put it On. The competition opened on July 30 and closes for entries on November 26. The top 10 short and feature finalists will be chosen through online voting. A panel of judges including a member of The New York Film Academy and Max Fraser, co-founder of Put it On will announce the winners on January 7, 2010. Best Achievement in Acting will be decided separately by the judges from all the submissions.
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8/01/2009

(August 01, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The government has taken a wise decision to de-list the deserters of the armed forces. It can be considered a positive step towards de-militarization of the society in the post-civil war era.

They can formally retire from service between August 24 and September 14 at centers set up by their respective regiments after producing the necessary documents, Army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

It is believed that there are around 70,000 armed forces deserters throughout the country. Their access to normal life is restricted and some of them are compelled to illegal activities due to this reason. Thousands of deserters have left for foreign employment and they should also be given this opportunity.  

Government is burdened with millions of rupees that cost to coffers to take legal action against these deserters. 
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(August 01, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Press Trust of India reported that the former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga had strongly favored reservation for women in Sri Lanka's Parliament. 
Speaking on women’s vote in politics in India she had said “Sri Lanka is one of the countries in the whole world that has the lowest representation in Parliament, we have only about 13 per cent representation and is not satisfactory".
Actually, the women’s representation in the cabinet is less than 2%.
Chandrika was the President of Sri Lanka since 1994 to 2005 and did next to nothing to change the situation. 
Chandrika Kumaratunga had contended that women by nature were more caring and better negotiators in matter of state and governance, said the PTI report.
However, she is known among her one time associates as a personality with none of the above mentioned qualities. She lost all her luster all of a sudden she had to vest in her powers to her successor current President Mahinda Rajapakse. Almost all of the birds that were flocked around her flew away abruptly to perch on the branch of her successor and many resorted to insult her to curry favor with the new leader. Thus, another aspect of the fate of the women in politics was also shown.
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(August 01, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Although Sri Lanka, a country near equator that suffers immensely due to mosquito-born diseases, widely uses mosquito coils as a repellent, no proper scientific research has never been conducted about the side effects of the chemicals used in them.

The sale of mosquito coils have excalated sharply in recent years in Sri Lanka. We have observed that
the companies that market mosquito coils spend lavishly to stop researches regarding the side effects of the mosquito repellents. On the other hand, the media is also highly dependent on the advertisement income of these companies and the voice against the mosquito coils is internally suppressed. 

Doctors do not recommend any mosquito repellent but the mosquito net, but the low income groups have no other option to use coil in slums and refugee camps etc., there are no proper sleeping places to use a mosquito net.

The scientists – Bob Krieger, Travis Dinoff and Xiaofei Zhang of the department of entomology – sampled coils from Indonesia and Asian markets in Southern California and found that the contained "S-2" or octachlorodipropyl ether, banned for sale in the United States, reported the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2003.


"It is very possible that the coils are exposing users to bischloromethyl ether, also called BCME, a potent lung carcinogen," said Krieger. "High exposure can occur if the coils are used overnight, as they often are."
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