Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Human Rights Watch: Prosecute US war criminals including George Bush

This week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 159-page report titled, “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture.” This detailed report sets forth a compelling legal case for the criminal prosecution of senior US officials for their roles as conspirators and accomplices in the illegal Central Intelligence Agency torture program (2001-2009).

The report names names: “US officials who created, authorized, and implemented the CIA program should be among those investigated for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes. They include: Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Jay Bybee, OLC Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, an individual identified as ‘CTC Legal’ in the Senate Summary, CIA Director George Tenet, National Security Legal Advisor John Bellinger, Attorney General John Ashcroft, White House Counsel Legal Advisor Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the Vice President David Addington, Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush. In addition, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, CIA psychologist contractors who devised the program, proposed it to the CIA, and helped carry it out, should also be investigated for their role in the initial conspiracy.”

“We believe there is also sufficient evidence to investigate others who were not necessarily part of the initial conspiracy but who later joined it,” the report states. “Others should not only be investigated for torture but also for offenses such as war crimes, assault, and sexual abuse.”
The report reads like a criminal indictment. It provides point-by-point highlights of the CIA program in all its depraved and sadistic detail. The report also covers the attempts by the Bush administration to provide a pseudo-legal cover for the program, as well as attempts by the Obama administration to cover it up and shield the perpetrators from liability.

The report identifies specific US officials, victims, dates, documents, and other particulars, with emphasis on the roles of the senior officials who orchestrated the program. The report brings together material from numerous sources, including the heavily redacted executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, media reports, internal executive department memoranda, investigations by Human Rights Watch and other institutions, and even chilling hand-drawn images of the implements of torture by the victims themselves.

More at

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hypocritical Self-righteousness Power of Samantha

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

"Now is not the time for the U.S. to deprioritize the issues which could help heal a war-torn nation. Transitional justice, including accountability" writes Taylor Dibbert

For a start Samantha Power could help heal war torn Libya. The invasion of Libya was promoted by Samantha Power because of what she saw as "the failure of the United States to prevent massacre and genocide, time and time again" in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Now that Libya is a failed state, because of a War of her own promotion, where Hillary Clinton said we "We came, we saw, he died" and then laughed. Now that the US does not even have an embassy Libya,  it seems Samantha Power is no longer interested in helping heal war torn Libya.  Absolutely no responsibility for consequences of her actions.

"The bitter truth is this: as a country Sri Lanka has never properly functioned for its numerical minorities".writes Taylor Dibbert

So, have the numerical minorities fared better in the US.

Sri Lanka has just 92 prisoners per 100,000. The US has 698 prisoners per 100,000 of which close to 50% are black AfricanAmericans. The US black AfricanAmerican population and the Sri Lankan Tamil population percentages are approximately of the same order, around 15%.  So even if every single person in Sri Lankas prisons was a Tamil (Tamils are under represented in the prison population), it still would not equal the brutal inequality that the US metes out to its black African American minorities.

Lets do a mental exercise. Consider Internal Displaced Persons (IDP's) as per 100,000 population of Sri Lanka. (note:  IDP's are not prisoners, they are free to leave. Unhappily their homes are in places with mines, homes that have been destroyed or in High security zones).  There are at maximum 73,700 IDP's (as of July 2015) in Sri Lanka according to the  Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).  IDP's then are 369 per 100,000 of Sri Lankas population.   Even so less than half the prison population of the US. 

There is a total 5,281,872 IDP's in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, respectively 4,000,000,  847,872 and 434,000.   The total population in 3 countries is 70,886,000.  (Populations for Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, respectively 32,105,000  32,358,000 and 6,423,000).

Thats a staggering 7,451 IDP's per 100, 000 population  for whom the US is responsible in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  What is the US doing about it. 

Every week we hear of a black person being shot by the police. There are more black men in the U.S. prisons than the total prison population in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.  
I don't think the US treatment of minorities is one that Sri Lanka should emulate.  If any the US should learn from Sri Lanka.

We can forgive not too smart Bush of continuing to ignore the consequences of his policies and action of his "War on Terror".

However, the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of the "anti war" Nobel prize winning Obama and Pulitzer Prize winning Samantha Power is simply astounding. Both two intelligent people in ther self rightesoness simply ignore their culpability in the misery and wretchedness they have wrought on millions in Libya and Iraq among other places. Not only do they disown their culpability but continue to pursue policies of interference, which will lead to more destabilization and misery.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Payback is a Bitch (Paris Massacre)

Indira Gandhi/India armed and trained the LTTE. They went on to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.
The July 83 riots allowed the LTTE become become stronger and better funded and resulted in a 30 year war.

Europe and France were instrumental in overthrowing Gaddafi. Now Libya is a failed state and one of the gateways for migrants and refugees to enter Europe in the millions.

My heart goes out to the victims and families. The average Joe who is having to bear the consequences of the US and Europe's politicians support for terrorists in Syria.

What Preceded The Islamic State Attacks In France - Some Links

This happened last night: At least 120 dead in Paris attacks, Hollande declares emergency
Gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at locations across Paris on Friday, killing at least 120 people in a deadly rampage that a shaken President Francois Hollande called an unprecedented terrorist attack.
The Islamic State claims responsibility (English version) for the attack.
But who weaponized and financed the Islamic State or prior organizations in Syria and Iraq from which this terror attack grew? Is this cartoon justified?
Cartoon of the day by Carlos Latuff
In 2012 - Hollande admits arming Syrian rebels in breach of embargo - book
The French president has admitted delivering weapons to the Syrian rebels during a period of EU embargo, a new book about to be published in France reveals. The deliveries took place in 2012, before the embargo was canceled in May 2013, according to François Hollande's last year interview with journalist and writer Xavier Panon. "We began when we were certain they would end up in the right hands. For the lethal weapons it was our services who delivered them," Hollande told the writer, ...
Okt 2012 - Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria
WASHINGTON — Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.
Dec 2012 - France funding Syrian rebels in new push to oust Assad
France has emerged as the most prominent backer of Syria's armed opposition and is now directly funding rebel groups around Aleppo as part of a new push to oust the embattled Assad regime. Large sums of cash have been delivered by French government proxies across the Turkish border to rebel commanders in the past month, diplomatic sources have confirmed. The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against loyalist forces.
Aug 2014 - France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms
President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.”
Nov 2015
Murad Gazdiev @MuradoRT
French APILAS rocket launcher supplied to #syria rebels fall into hands of #ISIS. Pics from #Deraa, Southern #Syria
12:09 PM - 6 Nov 2015

Jun 2014 - 'Thank God for the Saudis': ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback
[T]wo of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”
France benefited from its support for the U.S.-Wahhabi regime change project in Syria and Iraq by getting huge orders for military equipment from the medieval Wahhabi regimes:
Apr 2015 - France and Qatar seal $7 billion Rafale fighter jet deal
Qatar has agreed to buy 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets in a 6.3-billion-euro (4.55 billion pounds) deal, the French government said on Thursday, as the Gulf Arab state looks to boost its military firepower in an increasingly unstable region.
June 2015 - Saudi Arabia and France ink $12bln deal
Saudi Arabia and France agreed Wednesday to sign $12 billion of deals, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair said during a landmark visit by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Paris.
Even after it became obvious for everyone that the regime change project in Syria has led to an expansion of terrorism Hollande was still demanding the end of the Syrian state.
Sept 2015 - François Hollande of France Says Assad Must Go
President François Hollande of France told the United Nations General Assembly on Monday that his country would “shoulder its responsibilities” in global efforts to end the fighting in Syria, but that the conflict could be resolved only if President Bashar al-Assad was removed from power.
Can Hollande now change his tune?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Powdered Quartz for Semi Conductor Chips: Value Addition for Pennies

This is graphite sorting. Breaking Quartz into chips is more labor intensive
From Power Point presentation on Economic Geology.
Quartz is mined in Sri Lanka and exported mainly for the use in the micro chip/silicon wafers in the semi conductor industry.  There is very little value addition even though some of the mining companies are BOI.  Basically the women workers break the stone into little pieces and then it is crushed into powder and exported.

Powdered Quartz is Rs. 3,600 (~US $ 32) a ton whereas one kilo gram of the purified product is worth nearly US $ 50,000 according to an article in the Asian Tribune. This same article reports on a proposal for a semi-conductor plant to be built by Toyota. Wonder what happened to that project.

In terms of value addition and providing jobs its worse than tea/rubber estate workers. How can this be an BOI investment when Sri Lanka is getting pennies in value addition.

When will Sri Lanka create such value added products such as lenses (camera, watch etc), Crystalline carvings, micro chip/silicon wafers for the semi conductor industry.

So what is Quartz:
Quartz  it is SiO2 or sand in a special crystal structure. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the world. However, naturally occurring quartz crystals of extremely high purity needed for growing silicon wafers in the semiconductor industry is rare. In Sri Lanka there are formations where 99.9% pure quartz is available.  These quartz and and other gem formations are associated with metamorphic rocks and are thought to have happened 1,000-3,000 million years ago during the creation of Rondina the “mother” of all subsequent continents.

When quartz has impurities in its crystal structure then colored gems such as citrine, rose quartz, Amethyst and Topaz are formed. See this article for more info on color centers (natural or artificial) that will make quartz a valuable gemstone.

Sri Lanka has very good value addition for quartz and related stones as gems. Read this article (and many more) from the Gemological Institute of America  for a good overview of the gem industry in Sri Lanka.

For Domestic Agriculture Protection

Just a few hours ago Jack Point had an article against Tariffs that protect the local farmer.  One of the arguments he uses are the Corn Laws of 1840''s that protected aristocrat large landowners in the UK.

For a start there is no comparison because Corn Laws were protective for large aristocrat landowners in UK, whereas most agricultural land in Sri Lanka are small holdings of about 2-3 acres (except Tea/Rubber). 
 Note: Sri Lanka has one of the highest population densities  #43, (309/km2, 800/km2), and one of the lowest rates of urbanization with a 15% urban population # 191 out of 198

The other is that Jack Point is probably unaware of the history prior to the creation and repeal of Corn Laws.

In point form,
  • Law (Enclosure Acts  (also here) 1750-1860) pushed rural poor out of countryside.
  • Cheap Labor for factories. (Think life described by Dickens and Thomas Hardy)
  • Oligarch/aristocrat consolidate land.
  • Oligarch/aristocrats Pass laws (Corn Laws) to get higher prices for their products.
  • Laws to keep Factory Wage Slaves in check.
  • By time the laws were repealed the damage was done. It was near impossible for one time rural poor, now factory wage slaves to move back into and buy property in the villages. 
  • To Quote
    The lands seized by the acts were then consolidated into individual and privately owned farms, with large, politically connected farmers receiving the best land. Often, small landowners could not afford the legal and other associated costs of enclosure and so were forced out
Win win situation for the Oligarach/aristocrat/Factory Owner.
Similar laws were enacted in the US too to ensure urbanization and cheap factory workers.

All that Free Market stuff is bullshit.

In Sri Lanka, most land holdings are small holders 2-3 acres. When you see large acres  of paddy land it does not belong to a single owner.  There would be many owners in this paddy tract, Also agricutural workers are not just 24% of population.  Many Govt workers, police officers/constables, private sector employees in cities towns except for Kandy/Colombo  have an acre or two, typically paddy land in their ancestral villages.  They would not be classified as agricultural worker, even though they take leave and go and work on planting and harvesting.

Yes, rice and other agricultural produce is cheaper from India Pakistan and Bangaladesh.  And produce imported is taxed for revenue and hopefully protect agriculture in Sri Lanka.

At least one of the reasons for  cheap agricultural produce from India Pakistan and Bangaladesh is because large land holdings with dirt cheap labor in those countries. 

Do we want Sri Lankas small holder farmers to live a life of poverty like in India/Pakistan/Bangaladesh.
Do we want small holder farmers to flock to cities and become wage slaves.

What was said in England should also be applicable in Sri Lanka

Every cottage shall have his porcyon [portion, ie plot of land] assigned to him according to his rent, and then shall not the riche man oppress the poore man with his catell, and every man shall eate his owne close at his pleasure.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Iraq to US: We dont need troops

Now Iraq (you know the country the US liberated/occupied 13 years ago) says to the US, " This is an Iraqi affair and the government did not ask the U.S. Department of Defense to be involved in direct operations," spokesman Sa'ad al-Hadithi told NBC News. "We have enough soldiers on the ground."  Meanwhile the US has been considering sending more troops and Apache helicopters into Iraq.

i.e. Maybe Iraq will be asking Russia to help.  Time for the US to do a UNHCR investigation into "war crimes" and send UN observers/invasion into Iraq.  Oops, maybe that's out of the question, the US also might be implicated in "war crimes".

From NBC
The Iraqi government said Wednesday it didn't ask for — and doesn't need — the "direct action on the ground" promised by the Pentagon.

The revelation came a day after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the U.S. may carry out more unilateral ground raids — like last week's rescue operation to free hostages — in Iraq to target ISIS militants.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's spokesman told NBC News that any military involvement in the country must be cleared through the Iraqi government just as U.S.-led airstrikes are.

"This is an Iraqi affair and the government did not ask the U.S. Department of Defense to be involved in direct operations," spokesman Sa'ad al-Hadithi told NBC News. "We have enough soldiers on the ground."
and in the US from the Wall Street Journal
The White House is seriously considering deploying a small squadron of Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of a package of new assistance programs to counter Islamic State, according to U.S. officials.

The move could ultimately require the deployment of hundreds more U.S. service members to Iraq. Among other proposals, U.S. officials said some in the military recommend openly deploying a small number of forces on the ground in Syria, embedded among moderate rebels or Kurdish forces there, for the first time.

Pressure is mounting on the regime to change course. Recent Russian intervention in Syria on the side of the regime, and the threat of Moscow intervening in Iraq next, has spurred the U.S. to step up its role, defense officials acknowledge.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

US Hospital Bombing because Taliban was using Civilians as Human Shield

Initially the US defended the bombing of the Afghan Hospital as "Collateral Damage".  Now the latest justification is that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.'”  Isn't that the very same thing Sri Lanka was accused of; i.e bombing places where the LTTE was using human shields, which Sri Lanka denies.  This was considered a War Crime and the US wanted a International investigation.  So, will the US also agree to an International investigation.  I very much doubt it.  Definitely sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander
U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, its official statement suggested: an airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that.

This obfuscation tactic is the standard one the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes.

But there’s something significantly different about this incident that has caused this “mistake” claim to fail. Usually, the only voices protesting or challenging the claims of the U.S. military are the foreign, non-western victims who live in the cities and villages where the bombs fall. Those are easily ignored, or dismissed as either ignorant or dishonest. Those voices barely find their way into U.S. news stories, and when they do, they are stream-rolled by the official and/or anonymous claims of the U.S. military, which are typically treated by U.S. media outlets as unassailable authority.

Fox News yesterday cited anonymous “defense officials” that while they “‘regret the loss’ of innocent life, they say the incident could have been avoided if the Taliban had not used the hospital as a base, and the civilians there as human shields.” In its first article on the attack, The Washington Post also previewed this defense, quoting a “spokesman for the Afghan army’s 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan” as saying that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.'” AP yesterday actually claimed that it looked at a video and saw weaponry in the hospital’s windows, only to delete that claim with this correction:
So now we’re into full-on justification mode: yes, we did it; yes, we did it on purpose; and we’re not sorry because we were right to do so since we think some Taliban fighters were at the hospital, perhaps even shooting at us. In response to the emergence of this justification claim, MSF expressed the exact level of revulsion appropriate (emphasis added):
“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present. 
This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as ‘collateral damage.’


Monday, September 28, 2015

Kissinger and Nixon support 1971 Genocide in East Pakistan

Bangaladesh is still having issues 40 odd years later because of civil war in 1971 fueled by American weapons.  Now they have a war tribunal that is authorized only to prosecute people living in Bangaladesh, but more a tribunal to go after the opposition.  No West Pakistani's the biggest perpetrators and their helpmates Nixon and Kissinger can be prosecuted.

Hope this stands as a warning to those who are looking for war crimes tribunals in Sri Lanka.  This is not for our good, it is to destabilize our country.

Nixon and Kissinger supported Pakistan’s (west)  fiercely anti-communist military ruler President Yahya Khan in his crackdown on East Pakistan (now Bangaladesh).  The weapons they supplied helped  the 1971 mass murder of mostly Hindu Bengalis who were seeking political autonomy and, ultimately, their own independent nation (i.e. East Pakistan into Bangaladesh). Large scale civilian suffering—mass shootings, rapes, village burnings, and a refugee crisis of almost unimaginable proportions. Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias killed an estimated 300,000 to 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 to 400,000 Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape
Nixon and Kissinger supplied West Pakistan
a) weapons, ammunition, and other military despite a long-standing arms embargo (and against the wishes of the State Department),
b) Transferred advanced fighter aircraft through third countries like Iran and Jordan.  This was like the  Iran-Contra affair, by passing Congress opposition.

NY Times: Sept 29  2013 
Nixon and Kissinger were not just motivated by dispassionate realpolitik, weighing Pakistan’s help with the secret opening to China or India’s pro-Soviet leanings. The White House tapes capture their emotional rage, going far beyond Nixon’s habitual vulgarity. In the Oval Office, Nixon told Kissinger that the Indians needed “a mass famine.” Kissinger sneered at people who “bleed” for “the dying Bengalis.” 
Telegram from Archer Blood, the U.S. consul general in Dacca, East Pakistan
Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen likely and deservedly negative international public relations impact against them... We, as professional public servants express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nation’s position as a moral leader of the free world.
For his principled stand, Blood—a longtime civil servant not normally given to such activist behavior—earned the opprobrium of Nixon and Kissinger, was sacked for his “rebellion,” and saw his promising career derailed.

NY Times: Sept 29  2013
Bangladesh, despite its recent economic growth, is a haunted country. Part of the tumult centers on the fate of defendants like Abdul Quader Mollah, who face judgment in a series of national war crimes trials for atrocities committed in 1971 by local collaborators with West Pakistan. These trials are popular, but the court has often failed to meet fair standards of due process. 


Sunday, September 27, 2015

International Olympiad in Informatics: Sri Lanka has 26 medalists

While reading about Coding Jocks got interested in checking out International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).   I was pleasantly surprised to see that Sri Lanka had won 26 medals since 1992, i.e 23 years (facebook and SL website).  The IOI  has been around for 28 years.  Thats not bad for a country of 20 million, though you have small places like Latavia (68),  Lithuania (68) and Singapore (69) having won much more.  China has won 107 and has the highest number of medals.  India has a measly 39 medalist, which is low compared to its fame as the premier outsourcing software center.  Sri Lanka has won 3 Golds, 7 Silvers, whereas India has only 1 gold and 11 Silvers. 

Now for some non politically correct stuff.  In a previous post on winners of the Google Science Fair, I noted there was large amount of South Asian among the winners.   However,  in the IOI the south Asians are severely under represented.  Even in the US there seems to be more East Asians (Chinese/Koreans etc) as winners, specially in recent years. Only one lone name recognizable as of South Asian origin.
Now for the hot potato; looking at the SL winners, there isnt even one name that recognizable as of Tamil origin.  What gives, Tamils cant code or more to the point cant code to compete?.

Fox News: Iranian and Russian Military in Iraq

Fox News reports that "Russian, Syrian and Iranian military commanders have set up a coordination cell in Baghdad in recent days to try to begin working with Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).   However, The  Russian embassy in Iraq denies role in any anti-ISIS ‘coordination cell’ based in Baghdad.

So far none of the Main Stream Media (MSM) such as  NY Times, CNN, BBC have reported the docking of a Chinese Aircraft Carrier and Guided Missile Cruiser in Tartus, Syria.

Chinese Military and Aerial Assets to Syria

Chinese PLA in Yemen
Things are becoming interesting, Game Changer ?.  

Apparently a pro Assad newspaper reports that Chinese Military personnel and Aerial assets are on the way to Syria.  (Update: Sep 26th: Debka reports that Chinese aircraft carrier and a guided missile cruiser have docked in Tartus, Syria.  Pravda also reports China Joining Russia in Syria)

As far as I know this is the first time the Chinese have sent troops to a war zone.  That is other than the rescue operation by the Chinese PLA in Yemen.  Also other minor issues of sending 5 Navy ships of the coast of Alaska while Obama was visiting the state and getting read to deploy nuclear sub that can hit the US mainland.
On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.
Apparently the Chinese are in Syria to stop Turkestan Islamic Party, Uighur Islamists who were smuggled by Turkey from China to Syria.
 Here's what China had to say at the May 22, 2014 meeting about the war in Syria: Note the bold words, in context of Sri Lanka. Probably a little to late now.
Mr. Wang Min (China) (spoke in Chinese): For over three years, the escalation of the conflict in Syria has inflicted deep suffering on the Syrian people and posed a serious challenge to the countries of the region and the international community. China has always maintained that all parties in Syria should respect human rights and international humanitarian law and prevent innocent people from being harmed during the conflict. China is firmly opposed to all violations of international humanitarian law or serious violations of human rights committed by all parties to the conflict in Syria. However, with regard to draft resolution S/2014/348, on which the Council voted earlier, China has some serious reservations. First, China believes that any action to seek recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute the perpetrators of serious violations should be conducted on the basis of respect for State judicial sovereignty and the principle of complementarity. China is not a State party to the Rome Statute. China always has reservations concerning the referral by the Security Council of particular country situations to the ICC. This is our principled position.

What is most urgently needed now is to urge the Government of Syria and the opposition to immediately implement a ceasefire and put an end to the violence in order to start a third round of negotiations in Geneva so as to advance the political process and embark on a political transition. In the current circumstances, to forcibly refer the situation in Syria to the ICC is not conducive either to building trust among all parties in Syria or to an early resumption of the negotiations in Geneva. It will only jeopardize the efforts made by the international community to push for a political settlement. 

Thirdly, for some time now, the Security Council has maintained unity and coordination on the question of Syria, thanks to efforts by Council members, including China, to accommodate the major concerns of all parties. At a time when seriously diverging views exist among the parties concerning the draft resolution, we believe that the Council should continue holding consultations, rather than forcing a vote on the draft resolution, in order to avoid undermining Council unity or obstructing coordination and cooperation on questions such as Syria and other major serious issues. Regrettably, China’s approach has not been taken on board; China therefore voted against the draft resolution.


Friday, September 25, 2015

$25 Ebola Test: Science Win for 16 year old

Olivia Hallisey.16 yrs, from Greenwich Connecticut won the Google Science Fair. Her invention: a test for Ebola in 30 mins,  even in patients not displaying symptoms . The test cost just $25 and does not need refrigeration.  Previous tests took up to 12 hours and cost a few thousand dollars.

Other finalists for the fair included Pranav Sivakumar, 15, from Aurora, Illinois, who devised an automated method for discovering and analyzing gravitationally-lensed quasars; 14-year-old Krtin Nithiyanandam from Surrey, England, who designed a test for detecting Alzheimer's in its early stages (there was also another test by Anika Cheerala, 13 USA) ; Lalita Prasida Sripada Srisai, 13, from India, who found a way to make waste water clean by filtering it through corn cobs; and a French 14-year-old, Eliott Sarrey, who built a robot capable of tending to gardens.

For Sri Lanka, Lalita Srisai's project of cleaning waste water using Corn Cobs is probably very useful.  Very, very cool.  Plenty of corn cob (බඩ ඉරිඟු) in SL.

Adriel Sumathipla, 16 USA (sounds like he is of Sri Lankan descent) was a global finalist with his  Multi-Biomarker Diagnostic for Cardiac Disease:Rapid. Portable. Ultra-Low Cost.

Note: South Asians seem over represented among finalists and specially the winners.

https://www.googlesciencefair.com/en/ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3246820/Clever-16-year-old-girl-sweeps-Google-Science-Fair-cheap-fast-temperature-independent-test-deadly-Ebola-virus.html

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Saudi Arabia: Head of UN Human Rights Council Panel

Saudi Arabia's Faisal bin Hassan Trad has been named as Head (or is it Behead) of a Panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. This panel is tasked with naming experts that determine global human rights standards.

I guess Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein from Jordan (another country with exemplary Human Rights Record) will be a nice fit with the Panel.

Saudi Arabia is a great example for Human Rights.  They have the most number of executions (one every two days), Christians are not allowed to practice, the list goes on.  I am sure this panel can give Sri Lanka some pointers to get our miserable human rights record to the great heights of Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
In the first half of 2015, Saudi Arabia beheaded more than 100 people. The country is known for using corporal punishments, which include decapitations, whippings and mutilations.
Crimes which may be punished with beheading in Saudi Arabia include murder, rape, armed robbery, using recreational drugs, and smuggling, in addition to homosexuality, false prophecy, apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery. The country has also been criticised for the way it keeps women from driving and enjoying other rights, its treatment of LGBT citizens.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, Saudi Arabia continues to "try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities". HRW also condemned the systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities and claimed that the Kingdom failed to "enact systematic measures to protect the rights of 9 million foreign workers".
So far (Sept 22nd, 2015) the big news sources such as NY Times, CNN, MSN, BBC have not reported on the appointment.  The moderate news scources that have so far reported are The Independent of UK and International Business Times

The New York times however in March, 2015 thought that "Saudi Justice, Harsh but Able to Spare the Sword". Maybe they had advance notice of the pending appointment.
Saudi Arabia’s justice system is regularly condemned by human rights groups for violating due process, lacking transparency and applying punishments like beheading and amputation. Criticism has grown as Saudi cases have made news abroad: a liberal blogger caned for criticizing religious leaders; activists jailed for advocating reform; a woman held without charge for more than two months for driving a car.

Mr. Yehiya’s reprieve was the product of a justice system little understood outside the kingdom, one that is based on centuries of Islamic tradition and that prioritizes stability and the strict adherence to Islamic mores over individual rights and freedoms.
Ratification of International Human Rights Treaties - Saudi Kingdom
  • International Bill of Human Rights not signed by Saudi Arabia
  • Convention relating to the Status of Refugees not signed by Saudi Arabia
  • International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing not signed by Saudi Arabia
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination not signed by Saudi Arabia
  • Slavery Convention not signed by Saudi Arabia
And the list goes on and on.

Other Links
Record Beheadings and the Mass Arrest of Christians – Is it ISIS? No it’s Saudi ArabiaNeed a Job? Saudi Arabia is Looking for Eight Swordsmen to Keep up with Record Beheadings
Saudi Arabia executes 'a person every two days' as rate of beheadings soars under King Salman

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

US Stocks: Set for Crash ?

https://www.google.com/finance?q=INDEXDJX%3A.DJI&ei=gejbVaGBCsycUv-foJgCThe Dow Jones Index lost 3.5% on Monday 24th Aug, after an initial plunge 6.4% in minutes in early trading.  Since the 2015 Mid July peak of around 18,000 it has dropped to 16,000.   That is a 16% drop in about 3 months.   It is possible the peaks of 14,000 in 2008 are fast approaching.

Some of us have been anticipating a stock and bond market crash larger than the one in 2008.  The crash in 2008 was a 54% drop from a peak of around 14,000 in October 2008 to 6,500 in March 2009.

The US govt pumped in free money in the form of low interest rates and Quantitative Easing (QE).  This mechanism pushed up the prices of stocks.   However, in the long run this is not sustainable without a growth in the economy.

It remains to be seen if US Govt can use monetary policy to maintain stock market prices, and hence market capitalization.  The Dow Jones, an index of 30 companies has a market capitalization of 4.25 trillion at around DJI of 18,000.  The S&P which has about 500 companies has a market cap of about 14 trillion.   So a 10% drop is a loss of 400 billion in the Dow Jones and 1.4 trillion in S&P market capitalization.  

So basically the US Govt has to pump in about 2 trillion to prop up the DJI and S&P.  That is assuming retail and hedge funds and the like dont panic and keep selling.   That would be like trying to remove water with a bucket when there is 10 foot hole in a boat, a loosing proposition. Then there are secondary dominoes like Credit Default Swaps and Margin calls. That is a whole different article.

So what are the implications for Sri Lanka
  • At the first, there will be liquidation of assets (stocks)  in Sri Lanka by foreign investors to cover their losses in the US and other stock markets. So expect drop in Colombo Stock Exchange.
  • Possible price increases in agricultural products and machinery.  There are droughts worldwide and ultimately food security is a primary need.
  • Possible that foreign investors may comeback into Sri Lanka because it might be a relative safe haven, specially the agricultural sector.

Prostitutes: 3 million College going Women in US

Inequality of income, with predominantly low wage jobs for those who are lucky to have a job and
high rents and exorbitant college fees are forcing women to augment their income by finding a sugar daddy to pay the bill.

Enter SeekingArrangement.com   a website catering to men and women who exchange sex for compensation, like an allowance or paying bills like student loans and rent.  It has 4.5M registered users
  • 3.3M Sugar Babies
  • 1.2M Sponsors (aka Sugar Daddies & Mommies)
  • Average age of Sugar Baby: 21
  • Average age of Sugar Daddy/Mommy: 45
  • Average Income of Sugar Daddy/Mommy: $500K
  • Average compensation: $5K per month
The Economic Relevance of SA - It's where the 1% converges with the 99%.

Earning $500K or more and spending $60K per year on a mistress: this is the 1%.  Needing help with college loans and rent: this is the other 99%.

It's not an online dating website. 
If someone wants a relationship or a liaison, there are plenty of other sites like Craigslist and Ashley Madison.

Is it a prostitution website?  According to SA they are not, repeat not, engaged in prostitution.  Their disclaimer: "An arrangement is not an escort service.  SeekingArrangement in no way, shape or form supports escorts or prostitutes using our website for personal gain." 

Seeking Arrangement: A Form of Prostitution, for the 1%
.  As a prostitution website, it may not be as explicit as WhatsYourPrice or Backpage, but SA has at its core a business transaction: companionship with extras in return for cash and/or the equivalent.

Mainstreaming Prostitution: Beginning last year, the Bank of England included prostitution in GDP measurements.  According to the Office of National Statistics, prostitution generated $9B a year, adding 0.7% to the UK GDP.  They aren't alone: Sweden, Norway and a few other European countries already include it.  And if you can measure it, you can tax it.  And legalization is necessary for measurement.
Prostitution is legal in most of the developed world.  In fact, of the G20 countries, prostitution is illegal in just 5: China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and, of course, the United States.

From http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-24/less-10-years-federal-reserve-has-driven-millions-american-women-prostitution

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Economic Indicators: 2000 to 2015

Data presented without comment. You can click on chart for source interactive data.

              GDP         Change
       (Billion USD)
2000      16.3         
2005      24.4           8.1
2014      74.9         50.5

Change in GDP 2000-2005=49%
Change in GDP 2005-2014=200%

Comparison of GDP per Capita for India
Comparison of Debt to GDP for the US.
The US GDP also includes intangibles such as films, music, iTunes to GDP, increasing GDP by 3%.
Also see US Debt: $18 Trillion; U.S. Debt/GDP ratio over 300%


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Negombo Resources: Electrical Contractor

I hired Eric Fernando to do the electrical wiring and fittings to the apartment.  He was recommended by my sister.  Again a knowledgeable, neat efficient work.  I gather Eric also has professional qualifications in Electrical work.

You can contact Eric at 071-404-0423

Negombo Resources: Building Contractor

Got some Building work done by Kumar and ??.  They wore building a two storied house right in front of my apartment. Hired them to do some additions to the apartment.   Good work and very knowledgeable. Enthusiastic work crew.

You can contact Kumar at 077-535-9679

Negombo Resources: Polished Cement/Terrazo Contractor

 I had a good experience working with S. S.  Rajah (077 971 7244) to cut and polish the cement floor at my apartment. Like the other contractors (in other posts) I was lucky.  They all  answered phone or called back.   If they got delayed they informed me.

Good work was a plus and done in a timely fashion.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Negombo 3rd Floor Furnished Studio Apartment

Negombo 3rd Floor Furnished Studio Apartment
contact sereno/barr 077-8584009 or sbarrkum@gmail.com
(pdf flyer here)
Overlooking the Mangroves. Quiet residential area. The balcony faces the mangroves and partial views of the Negombo Lagoon.

It is very private and secluded, even while being open and airy. There are no other buildings at this height nearby. i.e. Can have all doors and windows open without having to worry about prying eyes. For those so inclined can work on their tan from the balcony.

This is a 3rd floor studio apt of 830 square feet living space (excluding bathrooms, washing machine space, side balconies and loft space).

The ground floor is empty and can be used as parking space. The 2nd floor is occupied by a single Female (my sister).

There are two bathrooms, one attached to the bedroom and the other open to the mangroves and lagoon. There is also separate space/alcove for a washing machine.
There is provision for an air conditioner. Probably not needed as stiff breeze and minimal mosquitoes even though next to the lagoon.
There is also a loft (230 square feet) with access by a ladder if needed.
Expected Rent: LKR 75,000/month on long term lease

Furniture etc
  • Refrigerator
  • 4 burner stove and oven (gas)
  • Living room sofa etc (old style)
  • Full Size bed
  • Almirah/Wardrobe
Nearby Facilities
  • Keels supermarket (600m)
  • Stadium/Gym (unhappily no pool) 150 m
  • NARA Mangrove Reserve (150 m)
  • Negombo main bus stand (1 km)
Attached Bathroom

Friday, June 12, 2015

mtDNA of Sri Lankans

mtDNA Tree
from http://www.phylotree.org/tree/main.htm
Summary of Ranaweera et al 2014 (for complete Figures and Tables ). Note this is just the maternal mtDNA (maternal) which is 1/24th of the genetic make up. See second box in DNA primer
  • Vedda groups (mtDNA) is much different from the rest of Sri Lankans (higher frequency of haplogroup R30b/R8a1a3 in all Vedda subgroups). 
  • There is no clear genetic separation based on the PCA map between Sinhalese and Tamils, and between Up- and Low-country Sinhalese of Sri Lanka.
  • However, the closer association of the Up-country Sinhalese with the Sri Lankan
    Tamils than with the Indian Tamils is not in agreement with the geographic distances among them.
Pretty much the same as in India. i.e. the maternal mtDNA unites the country 
Maybe  Paternal Y-DNA (yet to be done for Sri Lanka) divides by caste, groups etc.
See Vijaya Kuveni: Paradigm for M mtDNA

Haplogroup frequency in Sri Lankan population
No. of samples (%)
Haplogroup Vedda Sinhalese
Sri Lankan
Haplogroup M 13 (17.33) 25 (41.67) 17 (42.5) 17 (43.59) 40 (70.18) 112 (41.33)
Haplogroup D 2 (2.67) 1 (1.67) 0 (0) 2 (5.13) 0 (0) 5 (1.85)
Haplogroup HV 0 (0) 1 (1.67) 1 (2.5) 7 (17.95) 0 (0) 9 (3.32)
Haplogroup N 0 (0) 2 (3.33) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1.75) 3 (1.11)
Haplogroup R/U 0 (0) 1 (1.67) 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (5.26) 4 (1.48)
Haplogroup R 34 (45.33) 10 (16.67) 10 (25) 3 (7.69) 5 (8.77) 62 (22.88)

Among groups
Among populations
within groups
Within populations
Model Variance P-value Variance P-value Variance P-value
Ethnic criteriab 1.72 0.039 8.61 0.001 89.66 0.001
Linguistic criteriac 2.57 0.002 8.2 0.001 89.23 0.001
Geographic criteriad 0.55 0.677 10.56 0.001 89.99 0.001
Vedda vs others 4 0.002 8.15 0.001 87.85 0.001
Up-country Sinhalese vs Low-country Sinhalese 1.19 0.814 9.82 0.001 91.37 0.001
Sri Lankan Tamils vs Indian Tamils 0.73 0.027 2.19 0.028 97.08 0.003
b) Five groups (Vedda people, Up-country Sinhalese, Low-country Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils).
c) Three groups (Vedda dialect, Indo-European language and Dravidian language).
d) Seven provinces (North, North-Central, Central, Eastern, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and South).
NOTE: AMOVA is used to measure haplotype diversity.

indicated that almost 50% of the individuals from all the studied populations belonged to haplogroup M lineages (including haplogroup M, D and G)"

"Three haplogroups, M2, U2i (U2a, U2b and U2c) and R5, recognized as a package of Indian-specific mtDNA clades harboring an equally deep coalescent age of about 50000–70000 years, 30 were present in the ethnic populations of Sri Lanka

It is quite astonishing to see such a lower frequency of M haplogroup in the Vedda population when compared with southern Indian tribal groups (70–80%) as well as southern Indian caste populations (65%).

The Vedda mtDNA, Specially Vedda-Rathugala (VA-Rat) and Vedda-Pollebadda (VA-Pol) seems a genetic isolate. See Figure 5 in Ranaweera et al. 

Similar study (mtDNA) on a bigger scale in India Chandrasekar et al 2009