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.