Friday, December 27, 2013

Subaskaran Allirajah: Conservative Party Funder

Apparently reports that Subaskaran Allirajah is the one who is funding the British Conservative Party and points out that the Subaskaran gave 420,000 Sterling Pounds to the Conservative Party as one time donation.  It says that he has given over 20 million to Prince Charles Foundation as well.

David Cameroon’s visit to Jaffna and his statements against the Sri Lankan government were made on the behest of Subaskaran.  It points out Cameroon’s Jaffna visit was facilitated by Ganam Foundation established by Subaskaran in Jaffna to steer their Anti-Sri Lankan Government activities.

Who is Subaskaran Allirajah.  According to the wiki Subaskaran Allirajah (born 2 March 1972) is the Group Founder and Chairman of the Lycatel and LycaMobile Groups of companies. It also says his mother language is Sinhala (that has got my head scrtching).

Lycamobile is an international mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). To quote
MVNOs offer consumers cheap calls using pay-as-you go mobile Sim cards. Calls between Lycamobiles are free while calling UK landlines costs 5p a minute and other mobile networks 10p a minute.

But the real savings come when calling abroad. For that reason the firm’s marketing is aimed at ethnic minorities with families and friends in their home country. You’ve probably seen Lycamobile advertising on the high street – it offers calls from 1p a minute from the UK to destinations such as India, China and Nigeria under the slogan “Call the world for less.”

Tax Avoidance and Donations to Conservative Party

But despite being popular with migrants looking to call home, Lycamobile’s hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. It’s come under attack both for its tax arrangements and its links to the Conservative party. Despite a £120million turnover a year, Lycamobile hasn’t paid corporation tax in the UK since 2007 and doesn’t expect to for at least another year.

Tax is only payable on company profits – and Lycamobile has not reported a profit on its UK operation. Michael Landau, Lycamobile's chief financial officer, said the firm ploughs its profits back into the business.

Lycamobile's tax arrangements have drawn criticism from politicians. Labour MP Paul Flynn described the situation as “outrageous”. To make matters worse, Lycamobile is a big Tory donor; it’s donated more than £420,000 to the Conservatives since 2011.

Margaret Hodge MP and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has criticised both the Government and Lycamobile for the arrangement.

"No political party should accept donations from a company that avoids paying its fair contribution to the common good,” she told the Huffington Post, “The Government loses credibility if it says it condemns tax avoidance and then accepts money from obvious offenders."

Am I a Seyyid, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad

A recent blog at Harappadna discusses DNA of Sayyid (plural Sadah) who are considered to be descendants of Prophet Muhammad. One of the comments links to a study on Iranian Sadat (Sayyid)  population. The study found the most common haplotype values for seven marker, and I too have most of the common markers.  One small issue, paternal ancestry is Jaffna Tamil and oral history says our paternal line originated from Kalinga (orissa) in the 12th century.  The Y-DNA haplogroup is J2b2* (not a,b.c.d or e),

Marker Most Common DYS Value My Value
dys 393 12, 13 12
dys 390 23, 24 23
dys 394 14, 15 not tested
dys385a 13, 12 13
dys 385b 15, 13, 17 17
dys 392 11 11
dys 389-2 29, 30 28

As Razib Khan states
The Syed lineages don't exhibit a "Syed modal haplotype." What you should see is a Syed haplotype of ~50%, and then a range of other lineages which introgressed through people lying about their origins or women being unfaithful to their husbands. Instead there are a wide range of haplotypes. Being Syed is an honorific.
I guess there is a cautionary tale somewhere it is along the lines of not being too hung up on lineages. Also possibly if you are wedded to being of a particular lineage/race better not get your DNA tested.

Anyway you can read article and comments at link below

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pipelineistan: Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Qatar (Afghanistan ?)

Ever wondered if there was more than met the eye with all the events in the Middle East.  Here is an article
Reason for the longest war in American history
that makes you think. Next you wonder if the Hambantota Harbor is a reason for some of the foreign power efforts to destabilize Sri Lanka.
Construction is nearing completion on a natural gas pipeline linking Iran and Pakistan, a project that portends a huge geopolitical shift. As regional powers strengthen ties in this key energy market, they're looking to China, and away from the West.

This – among other developments – is what it’s all about, the conclusion of the final stretch of the $7.5 billion, 1,100-mile natural gas Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, starting from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, and expected to be online by the end of 2014.

IP, as a key umbilical (steel) cord, makes a mockery of the artificial – US-encouraged – Sunni-Shia divide. Tehran needs the windfall, and the enhanced influence in South Asia. Ahmadinejad even cracked that “with natural gas, you cannot make atomic bombs.

Islamabad decided not only to hand over operational control of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, in ultra-sensitive southwest Balochistan, to China; crucially, Islamabad and Beijing also signed a deal to build a $4 billion, 400,000 barrels-a-day oil refinery, the largest in Pakistan.
Gwadar, a deepwater port, was built by China, but until recently, the port's administration was Singaporean.

The long-term Chinese master plan is a beauty. The next step after the oil refinery would be to lay out an oil pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, parallel to the Karakoram highway, thus configuring Gwadar as a key Pipelineistan node distributing Persian Gulf oil and gas to Western China – and finally escaping Beijing’s Hormuz dilemma.

Gwadar, strategically located at the confluence of Southwest and South Asia, with Central Asia not that far, is bound to finally emerge as an oil and gas hub and petrochemical center – with Pakistan as a crucial energy corridor linking Iran with China. All that, of course, assuming that the CIA does not set Balochistan on fire.

The Syrian Pipelineistan angle

This graphic Iranian success in South Asia contrasts with its predicament in Southwest Asia.
The South Pars gas fields –  the largest in the world – are shared by Iran and Qatar. Tehran and Doha have developed an extremely tricky relationship, mixing cooperation and hardcore competition.
The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in July 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West.

More at


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mandela: South Africal Low Life Expectancy and Parakrama Bahu I
Mandela has died and he was a great leader.  However, even great leaders cant solve all problems in a country. Case in point was the devastation on life expectancy in South Africa caused by the AIDS epidemic.  Mandelas response and had very little effect on Life Expectancy. In effect Life expectancy was no different from neighboring Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe who most would agree was not a great leader.

When you look at GDP//capita another story appears. During Mandelas Presidency, 1994-1999   GDP/capita stagnated between USD 3,546 and USD 3,102.  However since 2002 GDP has risen from USD 2,439 to USD 7,942 in 2011.  I am no economist to say whether this GDP/capita 200% rise over 9 years was due to inflation or because of economic policies put into place during Mandela Presidency.

If we take Sri Lankas history Parakramabahu the Great was a great leader who united the country oversaw the expansion and beautification of his capital, constructed extensive irrigation systems, reorganized the country's army, reformed Buddhist practices, encouraged the arts and undertook military campaigns in southern India and in Myanmar. The adage "not even a little water that comes from the rain must flow into the ocean without being made useful to man" is one of his most famous utterances.
However such success came at a price. Relentless warfare took its toll on the country and Parākramabāhu's reliance on Tamil mercenaries proved to be a destabilizing force after his death. Taxation was high under his reign and high-value coinage all but disappeared towards the end of his rule, a sign of increasing poverty. One of his successor Nissanka Malla's (a non Sri Lankan from Kalinga) most popular actions was reducing taxation.
The chronic instability of the years after his reign undid many of his accomplishments and developed into a crisis that the country never recovered from.
His ultimate weakness was the lack of restraint in his spending, taking Sri Lanka to greater heights that it had reached in a long time, but exhausting the island's resources in the process.
To me the take home message is that however great a countries leadership can be, the leadership can only solve some of the problems facing a country.

Read this for a negative view of Mandelas legacy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Software Glitch: 28 Deaths

This post is to emphasize that understanding rounding errors are paramount in writing code. In older versions of Excel and on older versions of programming languages if you did the following in two steps 10/ 3 x 3 you would get 9.999.  Modern compilers have apparently fixed most such issues.

On 25 February 1991, an Iraqi Scud hit the barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers from the U.S. Army.
A government investigation revealed that the failed intercept at Dhahran had been caused by a software error in the system's clock. The Patriot missile battery at Dhahran had been in operation for 100 hours, by which time the system's internal clock had drifted by one third of a second. Due to the closure speed of the interceptor and the target, this resulted in a miss distance of 600 meters.
The radar system had successfully detected the Scud and predicted where to look for it next, but because of the time error, looked in the wrong part of the sky and found no missile. With no missile, the initial detection was assumed to be a spurious track and the missile was removed from the system. No interception was attempted, and the missile impacted on a makeshift barracks in an Al Khobar warehouse, killing 28 soldiers.
At the time, the Israelis had already identified the problem and informed the US Army and the PATRIOT Project Office (the software manufacturer) on 11 February 1991, but no upgrade was present at the time.
As a stopgap measure, the Israelis recommended rebooting the system's computers regularly. However, Army officials did not understand how often they needed to do so. The manufacturer supplied updated software to the Army on 26 February, the day after the Scud struck the Army barracks.

For more in depth on Rounding Errors see

Education Fever causing Low Birth Rates ?

Is the push for more education pushing down birth rates in East Asia ?.  So far Sri Lanka fertility rate has not fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1

There is a body of scholarship showing that the collapse of the fertility rate to dangerously low levels across east Asia is the direct consequence of school cramming and "education fever".

In this paper we argue that East Asia’s ultra-low fertility rates can be partially explained by the steadfast parental drive to have competitive and successful children…

Obsession with education in Korea has become an integral part of contemporary Korean culture and affects all aspects of social life. Deeply rooted Confucian values stress education as the best way for achieving high social status and economic prosperity. A collapse of the hierarchical social class system coupled with egalitarian ideas from the West have created the notion that any Korean child can achieve personal advancement, economic prosperity, and social mobility through education.
Variants of this education fever are visible across East Asia. Some 97pc of children in Singapore receive extra private tutorials. Very young children are sent to "cram schools" in Taiwan after normal school is finished. It is no surprise that one of the consequences observed by psychologists is delayed or incomplete emotional development.
Over-schooling is not the only reason why East Asian fertility has collapsed, but it is a big reason. There clearly comes a point when it is unhealthy. So as in all things in life, moderation and common sense are advised. And plenty of play.

Capital Gains Tax on UK Properties

Cash strapped countries will resort to desperate measures. The UK is proposing capital gains tax on properties sold by non residents. When will the US follow suit.
Sky News television reported a month ago that the government is considering extending capital-gains tax to foreign investors. Treasury minister Sajid Javid indicated last month an announcement was likely when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne makes his Autumn Statement to Parliament tomorrow.
Foreigners and out-of-town vistors, none of whom vote locally are a soft target.

From Comments
This happens in the US as well. In my state they re-wrote the real estate tax laws to put unoccupied (e.g. second homes) and rented homes in a different tax class than owner-occupied homes. Once this was done, smaller vacation communities (which have a high percentage of second homes) taxed the shit out of that classification while cutting the owner-occupied class a break; they were able to do this because the second home owners couldn't vote in local elections that passed the tax increases. Never underestimate how quickly your government and neighbors will fuck you over if there's something in it for them.
After all, what better way to "honeypot" and trap foreign capital than by making inbound cash transfers easy, and then once the real estate "reserve currency" has been acquired, to change taxes and force foreigners to pay up for the privilege of having been allowed to park their illegal capital there in the first place. 

In effect not much different from "Nationalization" in 70's of foreign owned estates and companies in Sri Lanka.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Buddhas Birthplace: 600 BC Temple Excavated

Archaeologists have found in Lumbini, Nepal a 600 BC temple with tree roots in the middle.  This tree may
possibly validate the claim that Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Buddha under a tree.

Excerpts from NY Times
In traditional narratives, Queen Maya Devi, the mother of Buddha, gave birth to him while holding on to a branch of a tree in a garden at Lumbini, in what is now Nepal. Accounts vary as to when this occurred, leaving uncertain the founding century of one of the world’s major religions.
Until now, archaeological evidence favored a date no earlier than the third century B.C., when the Emperor Asoka promoted the spread of Buddhism through South Asia, leaving a scattering of shrines and inscriptions to the man who became “the enlightened one.” A white temple on a gently sloping plateau at Lumbini, 20 miles from the border with India, draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year to read a sandstone pillar documenting Asoka’s homage at the Buddha’s birthplace.
But new excavations by archaeologists at Lumbini have uncovered evidence of a much earlier timber shrine and brick structures above it — all of which lay beneath the temple that is a Unesco World Heritage site long identified as the birthplace. Dating fragments of charcoal and grains of sand, researchers determined that the lower structures were erected as early as the sixth century B.C.
The international team of archaeologists said the lower structures were laid out on the same design as the more recent temple. The timber shrine even had an open space in the center that suggested a link to the Buddha’s nativity tradition. Deep tree roots in the center space may even have been from the tree his mother presumably held on to.
Although much is known of the Buddha’s teachings and half a billion people are Buddhists, there is little to document his life, Dr. Coningham said, except through textual sources and oral tradition. He said, “We thought, why not go back to archaeology to try to answer some of the questions about his birth?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and a new form of head and neck cancer

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is considered the cause for Cervical and Genital cancers. In Sri Lanka Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer among women.  Now it appears HPV can also cause throat and neck cancer and associated with those who have had many oral-sex partners.

the next year, she released a study showing that HPV-positive and HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancers had completely different risk profiles.

People with HPV-positive cancer tended to have had many oral-sex partners, but there was no statistical association with tobacco smoking or drinking;

those with HPV-negative cancers were heavy drinkers and cigarette smokers but there was no association with sexual activity.

“These were two completely different diseases,” says Gillison. “They might superficially look similar — a patient comes in with a neck mass and their throat hurts — but I realized what drove the pathogenesis was completely different in the two cases.”
more at

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DNA and Skin Color

Recent study shows association rs1426654 SNP with skin pigmentation, explaining about 27% of total phenotypic* variation.  Previous studies have showed that rs1426654 SNP accounts for lighter skin in Europeans but not in East Asians.

Basically for South Asians if rs1426654 SNP is AA then light skin, if AG then medium dark and GG dark (see graph).  My rs1426654 is AG and I am medium dark. Also see this post on my DNA and heroin addiction etc.

We date the coalescence of the light skin associated allele at 22–28 KYA. Both our sequence and genome-wide genotype data confirm that this gene has been a target for positive selection among Europeans.

One of the key pigmentation genes in humans is SLC24A5.  That a non-synonymous variant (ref SNP ID: rs1426654) in the third exon of this gene explains 25–38% of the skin color variation between Europeans and West Africans. The ancestral (G) allele of the SNP predominates in African and East Asian populations (93–100%), whereas the derived (A) allele is almost fixed in Europe (98.7–100%)

In India here is a general trend of rs1426654-A allele frequency being higher in the Northern (0.70±0.18) and Northwestern regions (0.87±0.13), moderate in the Southern (0.55±0.22), and very low or virtually absent in Northeastern populations of the Indian subcontinent (Figure 2, Table S6). Notably, the Onge and the Great Andamanese populations of Andaman Islands also showed absence of the derived-A allele.

Loss of pigmentation in eastern and western Eurasia seems to be a case of convergent evolution (different mutations in overlapping sets of genes), the H. sapiens sapiens ancestral condition of darker skin is well conserved from Melanesia to Africa.

More at


*Genotype vs. Phenotype:
Very important concept. Even if the genes are identical (genotype) the outward expression / looks (phenotype) could be different. Example would be identical twin, who have the same genes will have differences and fingerprints will be different. Another example would be children of short parents (and also have the sort genes) could be taller because of better nutrition.

The opposite is also true in that just because outward appearance is similar (phenotype) the genes (genotype) do not have to be similar. Example: Africans and Papua New Guineans though superficially similar are about the furthest apart genetically.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Saudi Arabia may have Nuclear Weapons before Iran

From BBC.
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight. While the kingdom's quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran's atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.
Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
I wonder if these reports are being published because of the recent fall out between the US and Saudi Arabia.
Upset at President Barack Obama's policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a 'major shift' in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

Excerpts from

Thursday, November 7, 2013

District Quota System for Higher Education: 13th Century China

One of the oldest cases I know of large scale official discrimination to even out differences in performance Ming China. In 1370, the first Emperor of the Dynasty, Chu Yüan-chang, who expelled the Mongols in 1368, reinstituted the great Civil Service Examinations, which had been suspended by the Mongols. In 1371, 75% of the degrees from the national examination had gone to candidates from the South of China. This displeased the Emperor, who believed, with many traditionalists, that Northerners were morally more worthy -- from the area where Chinese civilization had begun. The examinations were thus suspended until 1385, but then the geographical division of those who passed did not change. At a special Palace examination in 1397, all of the 52 candidates who passed were Southerners. Borrowing from the Josef Stalin school of bureaucracy, the Emperor had two of the examiners executed. In a subsequent retesting, all the successful candidates were Northerners.
between populations that otherwise do not seem very different comes from

By 1425 it was decided that places in the national examinations would be reserved by region, with 35% for the North, 55% for the South, and 10% for some places in the middle. This extraordinary provision was imposed on a nation that to us may seem to be uniform in race, language, and religion. But clearly there were cultural differences, and these were not merely of an economic character. The Chinese Civil Service Examinations did not test economic susccess or even mathematics or engineering. It was all based on the literary culture of the Classics of Confucianism. In our own time when "Asians" are generally expected to do better on IQ tests, and in mathematics and science, it is extraordinary to see that Southern Chinese of the Ming Dynasty apparently enjoyed a marked advantage in literary culture over the Northerners, to the point where "affirmative action" or "reverse discrimination" was imposed by the Government in favor of the Northerners. Of course, there was nothing "reverse" about this. Chu Yüan-chang was probably as perplexed as anyone why such a difference had emerged between North and South [cf. Timothy Brook, The Troubled Empire, Harvard, 2010, pp.36-37].

See the paragraph preceding the above to at

Amnesty International does not oppose Drone Killings.

Naureen Shah of Amnesty International explained that Amnesty International cannot oppose all drone strikes in an
illegal war, because Amnesty International has never opposed a war, because doing so would make it look biased, and A.I. wants to appear to be an unbiased enforcer of the law.

However, now the U.N. special rapporteur finds that drones are making war the norm rather than the exception.  That’s a serious shifting of the ground, and might be good reason to reconsider the ongoing feasibility of a human rights group avoiding the existence of laws against war. Shah also argued against banning weaponized drones on the grounds that they could be used legally.  That is, there could be a legal war (ignoring Kellogg-Briand) and during that legal war a drone could legally kill people in accordance with someone’s interpretation of necessity, discrimination, proportionality, intention, and so forth. 

From the comments

So it felt like a betrayal when I heard that Amnesty’s American office was headed for most of last year by Suzanne Nossel; before taking up that job she had been a deputy assistant secretary of state under Hillary Clinton. Under Nossel’s leadership, Amnesty whitewashed the invasion of Afghanistan by hosting a conference praising NATO’s
 “progress” in that country. The guest of “honor” at that event was Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state who declared that killing as many as 500,000 children in Iraq by depriving them of essential medicines was a price worth paying.


Friday, November 1, 2013

CTB Buses on Katunayake Highway

Traveled yesterday on a CTB bus on the highway from Pettah to Negombo. Very comfortable, full air conditioned,no standing passengers and the bus seats 60 people.

There are two Buses one to Katunayake airport and the other to Negombo.  The Katunayake bus makes one straight run from Pettah to the Airport.  The Negombo bus makes stops once it exits the highway at Katunayake.

Travel time around 5:00 pm was 20 mins to Highway entrance at the Kelaniya Bridge, 20 mins on the Highway and 20 mins from Highway exit to Negombo. Regular AC Buses that travel on the Negombo road can take as much as two hours during rush hour.

Had to wait about half hour on the line to get a bus. i.e. Was able to get into the third bus.  Last bus to Negombo is supposed to be at 8:30 p.m.  The bus to Katunayake apparently operates 24 hours.

Fare: Pettah-Katunayake LKR 125.  Pettah-Negombo 150.

Check with Pettah Central Bus Stand (+94) 11 2329604-5 about changes.

Info on Southern Highway Buses: Galle to Maharagama

UK: Not just Trafficking Organ harvesting

An unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them.

Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.
The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.

A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

India: Highest amount of slaves in World

India has the  most amount of slaves in the world, 14 million, mainly Dalits.
On a per capita basis Pakistan (3rd) and India (4th) have not diverged.

On the other hand Sri Lanka who are busy committing genocide on the Tamils and have not had time to enslave their population come at a lowly 118th rank.

More at:

Download Report

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UK's school leavers are among the least literate and numerate

The UK's school leavers are among the least literate and numerate in the developed
world' with millions of Britons no better at English or maths than a 10-year-old.

Standards are so poor that England is the only developed nation where those approaching retirement and the middle-aged are better at English and maths than those about to start work.

Spending on education in the UK rose from £35.3billion in 2000 to £63.9billion in 2009.  Report found despite Tony Blair declaring his priorities as ‘education, education, education’ when he swept to power in 1997, a huge increase in spending on schools led to ‘no improvement in student learning outcomes’.

The UK spends anywhere between £3,000 and £9,000 (approx 6 lakhs to 19 lakhs).  The average is 10  lakhs.  i.e 24% of GDP/capita which was USD 35,059 in 2010.

The US spends about 22% of GDP/capita which works out to be 13 lakhs/per student based on a USD 46,860 GDP/capita in 2010

Sri Lanka spends about 5.8% of its GDP/capita on a student.  Based on the USD 5,169 GDP/PPP thats about LKR 40,000 on a student.

Maybe Sri Lanka is getting value for money spent.

More at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Colombo Museum and the Post Office were built by Arasi Marikar Wapchie Marikar Wapchi Marikar Bass.
Colombo Museum

The construction of the Museum was carried out by Arasi Marikar Wapchie Marikar, born:1829, died 1925,(aka Wapchi Marikar Bass, who was descended from the Sheiq Fareed family who arrived in Ceylon in 1060 AD.), paternal grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed, Kt., JPUM, OBE, MP (born:29-Dec-1893, died:23-Aug-1984). So long as brick and mortar endure, the name of Aapchi Marikar Bass will be long remembered as the builder of the General Post Office in Colombo, Colombo Customs, Old Town Hall in Pettah, Galle Face Hotel, Victoria Arcade, Finlay Moir building, the Clock Tower, Batternburg Battery and many other buildings that are still standing today (2011). The Old Town Hall in Pettah, which is now a busy market, was built on a contract for the sum of 689 Sterling Pounds.

General Post Office at Fort
In January 1877, the completed building of the Colombo Museum was declared open by His Excellency, Governer Gregory, in the presence of a large crowd, amongst which there were many Muslims present. At the end of the ceremony His Excellency asked Arasi Marikar Wapchi Marikar what honour he wished to have for his dedication. The same question was asked by His Excellency from the carpenter who assisted Wapchi Marikar with the wood work of the Museum who desired a local Rank and was honoured accordingly. Wapchi Marikar, noticing the large number of Muslims present, feared that they would spend their time at the Museum on Friday during the Islamic congregation prayer, and requested that the Museum be closed on Fridays. This request has been adhered to by all authorities in charge of the Museum to this day.

When the throne of the last Kandyan King was to be exhibited at the Museum, the then Prime Minister, Mr. D.S.Senanayake, obtained the consent of Sir Razik Fareed, Wapchi Marikar’s grandson, to keep the Museum open on the intervening Fridays only.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

US Govt Shutdown: Possible Consequences

 1 Countdown to US default looms
  A halt of US government operations would drag the world’s biggest economy closer to bankruptcy, something unprecedented in US history. If no budget deal is done, the US would bump up against their “debt ceiling”  and run out of money by October 17. By then, the US government would have less than $30 billion cash on hand, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has calculated.
2 Hundreds of thousands of federal employees on furlough
  A one-time layoff of 800,000 people working for the US government would erode the earlier projected economic growth of 2.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013 by about 0.32 percentage points, according to a forecast by Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Analytics. That projection assumes a two-week shutdown. If it drags into a whole month, the loss of GDP would rise to 1.4 percentage points.
3 Troops’ paychecks stopped
  About 1.4 million military active-duty personnel would keep on working, but with their paychecks delayed. Approval for troops’ paychecks is dependent on Obama’s proposed 2014 federal budget being passed by Congress.
4 Women and children’s nutrition program threatened
 Pregnant women and new moms who are poor and facing “nutrition risk” won’t be able to buy healthy food, as a looming shutdown would put bracers on the $6 billion Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC).
5 $85 billion in cuts to federal programs
When a shutdown was last threatened in March 2013, it would have resulted in $85 billion in automatic cuts in spending on federal programs – many aimed at alleviating social hardship. The cuts, known as sequestration, would affect grants to local organizations and funds that keep those programs running.
6 Housing loans halted
US federal programs that provide for about 30 percent of all new loans in the housing market – a backbone of the country’s economy – will be shut down. Government funding of new businesses will also be halted, as well as workplace health and safety inspections.
7 Trade talks scuppered?
US plans to have a Pacific trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, signed with the US’s Asian partners could stall, as Obama may decide not to travel to this weekend’s Bali, Indonesia meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations. While he could still go if no deal is done by then, it could be a gift for his Republican opponents if Obama was seen to be jetting off to a tropical paradise at a time when federal employees were sent home without pay.

8 Visa delays likely
Thousands of Americans may not be able to get passports for foreign travel, and tourists travelling to the US will likely face delays in visa processing. During the last government shutdown in 1996-97, some 20,000-30,000 applications remained unprocessed daily.
9 Space program on hold
  Space agency NASA will be hit the most, as the agency will need to furlough about 97 percent of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, where the two NASA astronauts currently on board, Michael Hopkins and Karen Nyberg, may not know whether they have jobs to come back to.
10 National parks, museums and zoos would close to the public
State-funded museums, art galleries and zoos across the country would keep their doors closed Tuesday, leaving thousands of employees furloughed and visitors unable to see attractions. US national parks, from Yosemite to the Shenandoahs, as well as Washington’s National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and Constitution Gardens, would also be closed.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pumping Draws Arsenic Toward a Big-City Aquifer

Arsenic and alternative explanation to Nalin de Silvas unscientific views. 

The Red River and its surrounding aquifer is a source of organic carbon that encourages release of arsenic into groundwater further inland. (Credit: Benjamin Bostick/LDEO)
Now, scientists working in Vietnam have shown that massive pumping of groundwater from a clean aquifer is slowly but surely drawing the poison into the water. The study, done near the capital city of Hanoi, confirms suspicions that booming water usage there and elsewhere could eventually threaten millions more people.

Arsenic is moving." The good news, he said: "It is not moving as fast as we had feared it might." This will buy time -- perhaps decades--for water managers to try and deal with the problem, he said.
Arsenic is found in rocks across the world, but it seems to pollute groundwater only under specific conditions. The huge scale across south Asia came clear only in the 1990s, when researchers from universities, nonprofit agencies and governments started testing wells systematically. Van Geen has been working in the field for 13 years, and is leading a new collaborative effort in the region under the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program.


Also see

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

US: Depositors in Foreign US Bank branches will have No Deposit Insurance

Starting today, following a 5-0 vote by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) , depositors in foreign US bank branches will officially no longer have recourse to a $250,000 in deposit insurance. The notional amount of deposits at risk: $1 trillion. This is not a new development: the FDIC rule to curb insurance on this category of deposits was proposed earlier this year, and today was the formalization.

I think Citibank is the only major US bank with branches in Sri Lanka.

The FDIC's action was prompted by the move last year by U.K. regulators to propose changes in the way deposits held at overseas branches should be treated. FDIC officials said.

If the UK proposals are implemented then HSBC deposits in Sri Lanka will no longer be insured.

More at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Poland Confiscates Half Of Private Pension Funds To "Cut" Sovereign Debt Load

First Cyprus Bailed in by freezing deposits over EUR 100K to reduce its debt load to comply with ECB mandates. Now Poland confiscates private pensions funds.  Indian are busy trying to smuggle diamonds into Singapore. What next

To summarize the Polish Pensions fund confiscation
  1. Poland Government has too much debt to issue more debt
  2. Government nationalizes private pension funds making their debt holdings an "asset" and commingles with other public assets
  3. New confiscated assets net out sovereign debt liability, lowering the debt/GDP ratio
  4. Debt/GDP drops below threshold, government can issue more sovereign debt
To quote
In the aftermath of Cyprus, we now know what the two most recent European blueprints for preserving the myth of solvency are: bail-ins, which confiscate deposits, and pension fund "overhauls", which confiscate, well, pension funds.

More here

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Economist Jayati Ghosh: India's Woes Foretell 'Chaos and Violence'

Excerpts from an article by Jayati Ghosh on Der Spiegel

China is fundamentally strong; it has a huge trade surplus. India, however, suffers from a huge current account deficit, which we are trying to partly fill with hot money, or speculative investment, from abroad. China first and foremost has to control its illegal shadow banks, but that is not at all comparable to the mess that we are now facing in India.

Our government reacts with panic measures. For example, it desperately attempted to attract more capital into the country by easing rules for external commercial borrowing. This, however, only worsens the structural causes of the rupee crisis. Our much vaunted economic boom was essentially a debt-driven consumption spree, financed by short term capital inflows. Those who profited were mostly construction companies and the real estate sector. India's boom was also peculiar in that it did not generate any new jobs, but instead deepened the gap between rich and poor.

I am fundamentally in favor of a bigger role for the state in order to direct investments and control banks. However in China, as in the rest of Asia, a big real estate bubble was created. Instead, China should have strengthened domestic consumption in order to free itself from the dependence on exports.

 If I look at the 21st century I see a huge imbalance. The most important economic currents flow from South to North: the trade in ever-cheaper products which the emerging markets produce; the capital investments -- because these countries invest their surpluses in US bonds; the cheap labor which they export, and with which they help solve the problems of those aging societies. But why does the North still dominate? Because it still invests a lot of money into research and development, and it controls intellectual property.

We can't manage the simplest things, because our starting point was completely different. When China began its reform process at the end of the 1970s, almost everybody there already had enough to eat. There were roads in almost every village, and there was medical care. In China, society was by and large equal. In contrast, a third of Indians still don't have electricity. We fight against the legacy of a caste system which condones inequality and discrimination. India's elites put up with conditions which are extremely damaging

SPIEGEL: Your government promises to open up the country further for big foreign corporations like Wal-Mart and Ikea. Is this really the way to create enough new jobs?
Ghosh: These measures only destroy jobs. Everybody knows that retail multinationals employ much fewer people per product and per turnover than the small shops that dominate in India. Instead, we have to invest in the basics, in infrastructure: A road to every village. Water, electricity and housing for everyone. Access to bank credit for everyone -- not just for rich entrepreneurs. We have to concentrate on things that create jobs. Then India's economy will grow on its own.

SPIEGEL: Ahead of the parliamentary election next year, nobody believes the government has the courage to reform. What happens if your country falls even further behind in the process of catching up?
Ghosh: Then we will face political and social chaos on a mass scale, and an increase in violence against women, as we are already seeing. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

PC/Laptop HDMI to LCD TV

Recently had to attach an old laptop thru a HDMI port to a large LCD TV.  Had issues with bad sound and also erratic movie picture (Netflix) and sound.  Searched the Internet and there was no comprehensive location to trouble shoot the problem. So a post with what I had to do to get the Laptop HDMI output to work properly on a LCD TV.

Graphics Card
First and Foremost is to check if your Graphics card software has been installed.
 Do a Right-Mouse click on the Desktop.  A menu will come and and the top most choice should be the place to activate your Graphics card.  Something like AMD Vision Center or ATI Radeon Graphics.  If you see the software control, go to the next, i.e. Connect HDMI cable to LCD TV.

On a Laptop that had the drive formatted or system re-installed its likely the graphics card software has been erased.  
You will need to find out your graphics card details.  If you dont have your computer specs try searching for you computer model.  You might also be able to get your Graphics card details from the  Display Adapters sub menu in Device Manager (Right Mouse Click-My Computer-->Properties-->Device Manager).  Download the appropriate software from the manufacturer website and install.  Check if installed by a Right-Mouse click on the Desktop.

Connect HDMI cable to LCD TV
Connect the HDMI cable to LCD TV and note the TV HDMI input port (e.g. HDMI 1or HDMI 2).   Turn on  TV and select appropriate HDMI input.

Setting Up Graphics Card
Start the graphics card software (Do a Right-Mouse click on the Desktop). 

You will see something like Displays Manager.  Select Displays Properties.  You should see you LCD TV as a Display selection. Select your LCD TV.
  •  Change the Resolution as needed (it should be automatically selected)
  • Change Color Quality (it should be automatically selected).
  • Refresh rate: Set to 24 hz (very important)
Now select DTI (HDMI) HDTV support
  •  Select the appropriate format your LCD TV supports (e.g. 1080p60 (NTSC))
Press Apply and OK. You should be seeing you laptop on the LCD TV by now.

Setting Up Sound
 On your Volume Control (Bottom right of computer) right mouse click. In the menu select Playback devices. Select or similar option.

Digital Output Device (HDMI)
You will now have the sound from the LCD TV

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Obama wears a sarong (possibly throw over from Indonesian childhood)

First thanks to Tilak Ranaweera who commented about Obama wearing a sarong and a little googling turned up a treasure trove.  The excerpts below.
When Barack Obama met Genevieve Cook in 1983 at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village, it was the start of his most serious romance yet. But as the 22-year-old Columbia grad began to shape his future, he was also struggling with his identity: American or international? Black or white? 
Genevieve Cook came from not one but several distinguished families. Her father, Michael J. Cook, was a prominent Australian diplomat. Genevieve’s mother, born Helen Ibbitson, came from a banking family in Melbourne and was an art historian. Michael and Helen divorced when Genevieve was 10. Helen soon remarried into a well-known American family, the Jessups. With homes in Georgetown and on Park Avenue at various times, Philip C. Jessup Jr. served as general counsel for the National Gallery of Art, in Washington. The Jessups were establishment Democrats. Philip’s father had been a major figure in American postwar diplomacy.
If Barack and Genevieve were in social occasions as a couple, it was almost always with the Pakistanis. Hasan Chandoo had moved back from London and taken a place in a converted warehouse on the waterfront below Brooklyn Heights. Wahid Hamid, starting a rise up the corporate ladder that would take him to the top of PepsiCo, lived on Long Island with his wife.  
Barack for the most part declined alcohol and drugs. “He was quite abstemious,” Genevieve said. She enjoyed the warmth of the gatherings, but was usually ready to go home before him. He was pushing away from the Pakistanis, too, politely, for a different reason, she thought. He wanted something more. 
There was a riff in that book (Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man) that Mahmood thought struck close to the bone with Obama. The narrator, an intelligent black man whose skills were invisible to white society, wrote: “America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain. It’s ‘winner take nothing’ that is the great truth of our country or of any country. Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.” His friend Barack, Mahmood thought, “was the most deliberate person I ever met in terms of constructing his own identity, and his achievement was really an achievement of identity in the modern world. [That] was an important period for him, first the shift from not international but American, number one, and then not white, but black.” 
In Dreams from My Father, Obama chose to emphasize a racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman he described as his New York girlfriend.
One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust,  I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.
Sri Lankan in a Sarong
In a series of diary entries from one of his lovers here in the Big Apple, a never-before-seen side of the now-guarded president is revealed — with descriptions of his “sexual warmth” and his penchant for lounging at home in a sarong
Obama even briefly moved into Cook’s Prospect Park, Brooklyn, apartment and they celebrated Christmas together in 1983, before the two parted ways.  
In his memoir “Dreams from My Father,” Obama provides sketchy details of his time in New York. He mentioned “there was a woman in New York that I loved” but never mentioned her name.
She talked about how Obama walked around his bedroom bare-chested, dressed in a blue and white sarong while working on a New York Times crossword puzzle.

“I open the door that Barack keeps closed to his room and enter in a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits — running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing,” Cook wrote.
Obama and Cook would date for a year. He was 22 and she was 25 when they met.
Cook said when she told Obama she loved him, he responded: “Thank you.”
Read the Vanity Fair article, its a lengthy description

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New York City gets own .nyc Domain

New York City gets its own domain .nyc.  To register, applicants must have a physical address in New York City.

Maybe Colombo should petition net address regulator ICANN for its own .cmb domain


Monday, July 1, 2013

Media Censorship: Catholic Priest beheaded by Syrian "Rebels"

The Daily Mail in the UK initially reported a video of Syrian "rebels" beheading a Catholic priest.  The Vatican has confirmed the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.

I am not too surprised by what the "rebels" have been doing, they definitely are high up on the brutality rankings,  What I find surprising is that none of the major news papers/outlets, the BBC, NY Times, Washington Post are carrying this story.  Not even the usually sensationalist New York Post.  The only big news outlet carrying the story is the Daily Mail in the UK and the local NY Daily News. (See  Bing search on Jul 1st).

John McCain with Syrian "rebels"
Is this self censorship of the major news outlets because the the brutal act has been carried out by the self same "rebels" the US, UK and EU  are arming and supplying arms to overthrow Assad a relatively secular dictator.  The same "rebels" with whom John McCain  had cordial discussions.

So far not a comment on the beheading by the major supporters, John Kerry, John McCain, Obama, and David Cameron.

What do our Sri Lankan journalists think of this. So far not a word by the those who have issues with media censorship.

Update: The BBC has just reported the incident. However, it can only be found by a search, it is not listed on the front page for the Mid-east. Note the wording, nothing like brutal etc, is used. Compare that to a report on police brutality in Sri Lanka.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two US bloggers banned from entering the UK

Two US blogger, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been banned from entering the UK.  The  Sri Lankan aspect is that Pam Geller and her Atlas Shrugs website were at the forefront in preventing Rifqua Bary, a Sri Lankan girl in the US being re-united with her parents.  Pamela Geller paid and fueled the controversy to headlines by insisting Rifqua would be killed if she returned to her parents, i.e. honor killing.  Pamela Geller went on on to denounce honor killing was common practice in Sri Lanka.  Background on Pam Geller here.

Excerpts from BBC article
Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer co-founded anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America.

They were due to speak at an English Defence League march in Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby was killed

The letters, (Page 1 and Page 2)  both dated Tuesday, claim that both activists have fallen within the scope of a list of unacceptable behaviours by making statements which may "foster hatred" and lead to "inter-community violence" in the UK.

Both letters gave examples of anti-Muslim views stated by both and went on to say that should they be allowed to enter the UK the home secretary believes they would "continue to espouse such views".

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Leopards in Mumbai, yes Mumbai

Saw this article today about video of a dog being attacked by a leopard in Mumbai.  I was just curious as to how Mumbai of all places have leopards in their backyard while Sri Lankans have to spend hours running around in National Parks to get a glimpse of a leopard. 

So did a little googling and found this gem of an article from 2007 explaining the why and wherefores. The main reason being that they are a spillover from the Borivali National Park, which also has an approx 80 acres fenced area for Lions and Tigers.  

50 People Killed Since 200023 Leopards Caught Roaming The City World's Highest Leopard Density
The leopards stray from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), commonly known as Borivali National Park, 103 square kilo meters of jungle (for comparison Kumana National Park is 181 square kilo meters) that lies surrounded by the city's overcrowded areas and desirable northern suburbs. The only large protected area to be located inside a major metropolis, SGNP holds more than 1,000 species of plant, 251 species of bird - more than in the entire UK - and 40 species of mammal. It also boasts the world's highest density of leopards.

The Park's two major lakes, Vihar and Tulsi, provide eight per cent of Mumbai's drinking water, while its forests act as a vital sink, absorbing the city's choking pollution. Some call SNGP the "lungs of Mumbai", and without it, scientists believe the city would drown in its own poison.

The population of the leopard's natural prey-wild pig and chital deer-began to dwindle. Faced with a food shortage, the world's most versatile felid took to hunting on the fringes of the slum villages, preying largely on the stray dogs that roam in packs among the uncollected rubbish.

Hunting so close to human habitation have meant that some leopards have lost their natural fear of people, leading to incidents where children have been snatched from their homes while their parents slept.

Given that the human disturbance in the park had been reduced, why then have the attacks on humans increased so sharply over the past five years?

Most experts agree that one of the root causes for the trend was the closure by the building boom of important corridors that had previously allowed leopards to migrate and disperse to other suitable habitats. Hemmed in by development, young leopards seeking to establish their own territories had little choice but to move into industrial grounds and even gardens on the park's periphery.


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Amartya Sen: Why India Trails China: Lessons for Sri Lanka

This was a NY Times op-ed by  "Nobel Memorial Economics" prize winner Amartya Sen.  Amartya Sen  covers most of the known issues such as
  • a) India has done worse than China in educating its citizens and improving their health?
  • b) Death by Famine in China (I will address this issue at end)
  • c) Education at all levels of society.
One aspect Amartya Sen does not cover is the role of religion.  China may have followed Confucianism and Buddhism in the past, but under Mao it was made secular.  India remains religious, and even tolerant of the base (pun intended) ideas of the "Varna Dharma".  The Asian Tigers: Japan, Taiwan, Korea too are now to a great extent secular regardless of their original/present religious affiliations.

What are the take home messages for Sri Lanka,  which is in transition. 

Excerpts of NYT article

In China, decision making takes place at the top. The country’s leaders are skeptical, if not hostile, with regard to the value of multiparty democracy, but they have been strongly committed to eliminating hunger, illiteracy and medical neglect, and that is enormously to their credit.
Unlike India, China did not miss the huge lesson of Asian economic development, about the economic returns that come from bettering human lives, especially at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid.
India’s growth and its earnings from exports have tended to depend narrowly on a few sectors, like information technology, pharmaceuticals and specialized auto parts, many of which rely on the role of highly trained personnel from the well-educated classes
For India to match China in its range of manufacturing capacity — its ability to produce gadgets of almost every kind, with increasing use of technology and better quality control — it needs a better-educated and healthier labor force at all levels of society.

India has not had a famine since independence, while China had the largest famine in recorded history, from 1958 to 1961, when Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward killed some 30 million people.
India may not have had a famine since independence.  In reality what happens is attrition by  malnutrition and starvation. In India 27 million children are born each year , but nearly 2 million of them are dead by the age of five.  Also as the Wall Street Journal reports (read comments too) the most tragic and outrageous consequence of India’s failure to feed its people adequately: starvation deaths.

NYT Op-Ed: