2008 what's your crisis?

The year draws to an end and there is still so much wrong with the world. It may be a pessimistic outlook but sadly the human race seems to be defined by the crises that befall it. We are naturally cynical towards the good things in life. an uncorrupt government? a war to be won? Equality and universal acceptance? Not all of us would meet these statements with complete optimism. We believe in the weaknesses of the human race. We believe in the age old tome of our lives; 'perfection is impossible', 'nothing is and ever will be perfect' we keep telling ourselves. but are we so far away from perfection as we think? I do not know. But there is hope.

After that somewhat soppy start, let me list out the major crises/ happenings of 2008 that will define the following years as i see them off the top of my head. But pertaining to the cynical nature of the race on Earth, i have referred to any significant event as a 'crisis' so you may think it’s a good thing, but somebody somewhere will suffer because of it, perhaps owing to its imperfect nature.

The War - can it be won? how many of us are really dying in Killinocchi? why are they not allowing reporters in there of everything is going our way? What’s really going on.

The Economy - Both local and global. it shifted the world around. Having worked for a US bank involved specifically in the area of lending to subprime customers, I was privileged to see firsthand what was going on. although I left that place sometime before the crisis hit. Greed and capitalism deregulation and irresponsibility plunged the world into darknessssss...

Nigeria - Here is a country absolutely loaded with oil reserves, wealthy as the wealthiest country in the world potentially, whose people are still suffering without basic living conditions. Corruption has reached astronomical heights and practically all the petrodollars are going into the private coffers of government officials.

What’s sad to see is the international community does not do much about it. They're in cahoots with the government of course; it's all about pillage, plunder and take what you can. The less powerful and helpless the people, the better. Nobody cares about the Nigerian people as long as they can get the oil. They are terrorized. and terror begets terror. Therefore arises the MEND. and they are branded terrorist. Kind of like the

FARC - originally a bunch of helpless Columbian farmers, fighting the industrialization of their forests. The loss of their rivers due to the building of dams. The world tried to run over them and they fought back, and another terrorist group was born.

The Middle East - namely Palestine, I do not know if there have ever been a single race of people so downtrodden and treated unfairly as these. I mean the actually cut off electricity and food supplies to the whole nation because o a political fight. This can only occur when the powerful are so vain and corrupt as the forces that instigated the unfortunate humanitarian crisis in the name of 'democracy'. Ironically, it was in protest of Hamas, who gained rule of the Gaza strip in democratic elections as opposed to their opponents who were more friendly to the West.

Global Warming - It wages on and things seem to be improving really slowly. We are beginning to see a major movement emerge in popular culture in support of the environment. But a part of me is cynical, because there really doesn’t seem t be a significant change happening.

Africa - As opposed to the rest of the world, Africa alone as a continent seem to be going through a lot. Inflation in Zimbabwe is reaching unbelievable levels, one wonders why the economy has not simply crashed apart. Aids is spreading like wildfire, one advice to you i'll give, if you're in Africa, feeling horny, and want to get it on, don't. For the love of sweet life, don't.

Obama - The embodiment of change, an end to Bush who incidentally is probably the worse one man crisis to ever hit the world since Satan himself, Obama seems to embody everything opposite. but his rhetoric draws out the cynic inside, is he really all that? Well, we'll see, but don't expect fire crackers right away.

The Balance of Power - We are finally reaching a point where there are clear signs of the beginnings of decentralization in the world's power base. Russia, Iran and China are in the forefront of the challengers to the US followed by India, Brazil and Sri Lanka (not). But fifty years is a long time to build a power base and the US is still by far the most powerful country on Earth. interesting times ahead.

So thats my list of where the world stands in terms of significant happenings as at the end of 2008. Now I'm curious to hear about yours, and what events of the world impacted your view of this year and the years following immediately afterwards. So unfortunately im gonna tag a few of you thinkers out there to ensure your kind response :D sorry. Indi, Dean, Aufidius, My prerogative, Jack Point, Noorie, LD And the Mathawaada crew you're it.


for one hundred bucks a few months ago may have seemed like a dream to many, well i know it was dream to me. now, thanks to lanka IOC at least, the dream seems to have materialized again.

Now here's the deal though. petrol prices still haven't 'officially' been reduced to one hundred bucks, and IOC controlling only one third of the petrol market, will soon begin to feel the demand pressure with the full market force focused on it. Since no one in their right minds would buy petrol from CPC at 122 when they could guzzle it down at 100 bucks at IOC.

This is going to put a definite strain on their operations. Also, if CPC as the only wholesale supplier of petrol to the local market, refuse to reduce their wholesale price in compliance with the SC order, then that’s going to put a tough constraints on margins.

So they've got reduced margins, but increased demand, by almost 200 percent as a matter of fact. Assuming constant supply of oil, will this still be a profitable formula for IOC? they'll definitely bring in tons of new revenue but will their cost model be able to hold it up.

They've probably thought about all this. And maybe they know something about the political situation that I don't. One thing’s for sure this was a pretty good marketing ploy. Remember back in the day when IOC had a bad reputation because of perceived exploitative motives in the SL petroleum market? They hadn't quite untarnished their image as yet but hell, this hundred bucks thing will definitely put them in the public's affectionate eye.

Going on like this while the official price remains at 122 will not last though. if they keep at it and absorb reserves from India to cover up losses made through giving oil at 100 bucks, they could completely destroy the image, market share and business of CPC's retail division and hell man I’m all for that. Not too sure of they'll be able to get away with such anti competitive practices, but the possibility definitely exists.

If they can't then they'll simply switch back to 122 bucks a liter in a little while. But there is still hope that our block headed cabinet will actually move and reduce the prices. What’s the point of law if the government doesn't adhere to it?

Dictator Rising

Watch out people. If we're not too careful soon this island could turn into a dictatorship. I am not saying it is now, neither am I saying it is definitely heading that way but look at the signs.

A quick look at the ingredients for a healthy dictatorship.

1) Consolidated power base - Gee, I don't know, like maybe family members holding almost all the positions of real power in the government

2) Winning the war - One thing's for sure, if the war is won when Our beloved President (OBP) is in power, that will be the final and most impactful element he'd use to secure;

3) The Army - Win the war and you've got a highly loyal army standing around doing nothing. Easy peacy job it'll be to use them to counter any public uprisings and to ensure a,

4) Trounced opposition- Ranil is old news man. the masses don't like him anyway. The opposition needs to be vamped up, but they're fast losing power as it is and have done next to nothing to stop the existing government from doing exactly what it wants..

5) Support of the masses - things were different when the presidential elections were held. Ranil almost won that and most say that if it wasn't for the North-East voting block he'd have been the next president but no matter, the war is going good and public sentiment is strongly in favor of it, therefore we can safely say that the support of the masses at least by a lean majority, lies with OBP. When the war is won, he'll have them eating out of his hand.

6) Disrespect for the law - Supreme court anyone? or the suspension of the constitution? I mean it's only the effing constitution after all.

And finally and most importantly

7) A Passive People - we don't give a shit as long as our bellies are full yeah? we're not going to take to the streets if we can just as comfortably sit on our couches and watch other people do it. Like I said, the masses will be taken care of, and if the masses are not angry enough, the revolution wont happen.

Mix it all together with a generous dose of lies and treachery and viola! instant dictatorship. Pretty soon you and me will find ourselves done with the 'war on terror' and fighting a war for democracy. Bon appétit.

This whole hedging thing

Basically Its a form of security, or insurance if you may. The government took out security against the prices of oil increasing and opted for a zero collar hedging base (where there is a sort of a ceiling and a floor to the price of oil, with a gap in between). So if the prices of oil increases above the ceiling or the highest set limit the bank doing the hedging would pay the difference to the government. Meaning that the maximum we'd ever essentially have to pay for oil would be that set price ceiling, no matter how high the prices rose.

Now, at the time the government ventured into this deal prices were skyrocketing and there was talk of $200 oil. So no regrets there right? We were all on the fast track saving a lot of money while the banks bore the burden. But the moment the price of oil started falling and kept falling past the price ceiling, the gap in between and the price floor? It became pretty apparent that the government would have to pay a significant premium on a barrel of oil that was going dirt cheap and getting cheaper by the day.

So we shat in our nappies and started beating our feet on the ground kicking up a fuss crying 'corruption!' at the top of our lungs. It's pathetic really. They got themselves a scapegoat, and no matter what I may have said about Fowzie sacking him was not exactly solving the problem. Its just another example of the bullshit the government resorts to, to try and cover its own ass. If the hedging thing was a bad idea in the first place, then the blame should be on everyone involved, Cabraal, the Chairman and the freaking cabinet. Oh yeah, they've all forgotten about who actually approved of the whole thing.

This Central Bank press statement sheds some light on how the whole thing started off, as well as some basic information on hedging itself.

Specific figures relating to the whole things are suspiciously unavailable so I don’t know as to the exact date when this was implemented and how much of our import volumes were actually hedged. Also no idea as to the price ceiling or the floor that was taken up (please let me know anywhere where some numbers can be found), and why exactly these buggers didn’t complain about corruption when they were getting cheaper oil when it was trading $150 per barrel.

And in the meanwhile, screw the credit ratings and investor confidence. We can probably win them back with our natural charm and a cup of white tea yeah? Long live the Banana Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Will Dialog kick the bucket?

There is, surprisingly (?) an overwhelming level of confidence within the company it will survive through the oncoming onslaught. So far all it's been is a war of hype.

Like a playground bully threatening unbelievable physical damage if the lunch box is not handed over, but never really having to go through with it due to the fear induced in his victims, the mere news of Airtel, biggest player in India, massively profitable, phenomenally experienced etc entering the market has succeeded in turning the telecom sector upside down over the past few months. rates have dropped to hitherto unheard of levels. Dialog's revenues have dropped, share prices have dropped further and they reported a loss for Q3 2008 for the first time ever after 40 quarters of operations.

Truth be told, Mobitel would have played a much bigger role in bringing down Dialog's profits than threats of new entrants. Propelled by big capital infusions, great marketing campaigns and technological innovations Mobitel had started gaining a substantial chunk of Dialog's market share by the time the giant actually woke up to realize that Jack was out the door and fast on the way to the beanstalk already.

Also, major reasons for cuts in revenue are attributed to diversification strategies that are yet to turn into cash cows which require a substantial amount of group revenues to maintain. DTV, CDMA and Broadband segments are performing well, and there is expectation that they will soon break even and yield profits.

Some would say the timing is bad, that Dialog needed all its financial clout to focus on a suddenly volatile market. Time will tell if it was a stupid move or a brilliant one. And now is the time that the mettle of Dialog's charismatic leaders Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya and Nushad Perera will be really tested and proven. Anyone can lead when cruising, but real leaders shine out during a crisis.

There is however, a lot of readjustment required. Dialog suffers from a bureaucratic and heavily process driven culture and some may say that it's already too big for its own good. Airtel, on the other hand is rumored to sport and extremely lean operation outsourcing everything from customer service to engineering and are said to be entering the local market with around 200 direct staff vs. Dialog's 4000 or so. They operate in India with 2000, for a customer base of 80 million or so.

Heavy reorganization started taking place inside Dialog Telekom more than a year ago, but a fully operational smooth internal culture is yet to emerge.

So if you chaps are licking your lips waiting for December's end when Airtel is finally supposed to launch with a massive event including Shah - Rukh Kahn and A.R. Rahman and think they'll sweep the floor with the existing players with one blow, wait and see, and I will join you. These are interesting times indeed for those working in the telco sector.

Bring the violence, insignificant.

Violence seems to have taken over the world man. We as human beings have an amazing capacity for evil. Inside each one of us there's a Ripper waiting to break out. We're not born this way. It's our lives and how we live it that shape us, so next time you look in the mirror, know that there's a devil inside just waiting to jump out.

I was just watching this jarring video clip. What makes ordinary university students act so brutally? probably a petty territorial dispute? The e-mail warned 'not for the faint of heart!' so i'll simply transmit that message to you. Please share any insight below.

The Kassippu Conundrum

As a friend quite rightly pointed out, recent increase in taxes in hard liquor will potentially have some crazy socio economic affects mainly as a result of the seemingly ignored existence of locally brewed illicit liquor a.k.a kassippu.

Increasing prices of hard liquor will only drive the poorer consumer towards illicit liquor. Increasing health hazardz in an already not-so-healthy workforce. And as prices in general continue to rise this will only increase. This will cause loss in productivity which will in turn reduce economic growth. Also, growth in the kassippu market will mean an encouragement to crime, which will increse in power thus effectively discouraging honest citizens from contributing to the economy.

The government can have avoided this with more stringent controls on brewing illicit liquor. But they convineitly pass the buck to the cops. And the cops wont do anything about it cos the illiegal breweries are usually in cahoots with a politician or two. Funny place we live eh?

The government seems like its stuck in a mire of sorts. Stuck in quicksand if you may. With no one to pull it out. So it needs to somehow get out of the quicksand all by itself. Now struggling to get out will only make it sink deeper in to the quicksand, but if it doesn't struggle, it wouldn't reach that branch to pull itself out.

Desperate attempts at pulling itself out are translating into badly thought out tax policies that will do more harm than good in the long run.

Sri Lanka has a badly skewed alcohol consumption model. It is absolutely convoluted. When most of the rest of the world is consuming 98% of soft liquor and 2% of hard. We consume 94% of hard liquor and 6% of soft. 64% of that hard liquor is illicit. For more, read this intriguing LMD report here.

Number 44

Damn! That was fast. And well, you could say I was an Obama supporter if you like. Personally I don’t think things would have been a lot different in many areas even if Mccain came into power but well Obama was, interesting. The man is full of theatrics and I was kind of expecting a nail biting finish. Instead he just breezes through.

I will not give you a blow by blow of it since you’re probably already plugged in to CNN from morning or something. Still wish I could’ve stayed back at home though. It’s great entertainment. Probably the last bit of drama that we’ll get in a while. And that’s what this race has been so far, super entertainment! I’m sorry it’s over. I guess we can all go home now.

Obama. Huh. He’s got the hype alright. But if people are imagining him to be a Jack Black in high school and shake everything up in the While House then I think we’re all in for a bit of an anticlimax. Nope, now it’s going to be back to the old routine of bill passing and legislation. A bit scarier ‘cos the democrats seem to have an overwhelming majority now. Personally I’m more concerned about the war. Destabilization the Middle East and South West Asia has to stop. Human rights violations in the Gaza strip have to stop. Give me a president who will change that.

A Note to Mr. Fowzie

I mean what is this place coming to? We have a petroleum corporation that claims it’s making losses no matter how much the Oil price fluctuates in the market and the consumer prices raised nevertheless. They claim the cost of oil is too high and that we barely pay for it with 150 rupees a liter! Well I’ve got news for you my dear Mr. Fowzie, when a corporation such as the PET Corp operates; the costs that are incurred are not just those of purchasing of the forsaken oil barrels. It’s the fixed and operational costs of the petroleum corporations itself. And you have massive inefficiencies on your PET ORG that will probably see you making losses even if oil rises to 500 effing dollars per barrel.

I heard that there are around 600 employees in your so called organization signing and out of every day and peacefully taking home their month end salary without putting in an ounce of work. Chiefly because they are never really physically present to work! I’ve heard about free petrol to hordes of mostly unnecessary top officials and their family members driving massively fuel inefficient SUVs (duty free I might add) which obviously incurs the necessity to transfer the cost of their maintenance upon us, the average Siripala of the Sri Lankan economy.

I’ve heard of fantastically inefficient red taped management cultures, tedious process driven operations, excess staff, yawny HR policies (I don’t even know if you have an HR department) and every single textbook management practice that is typical of a stone age corporation. You Mr. Fowzie need to wake up and smell the garbage under your bed.

Do you think we are fools Mr. Fowzie that we cannot see the idiotic logic behind your argument? Do you think we are brainless? Well apparently you do. And apparently we are. Because the vast majority of us Lankans haven’t actually realized exactly why you are making losses. It has largely nothing to do with the prices of international oil. It has however, a lot to do with a corrupt and staggering government bureaucracy.

What shall we do Mr Fowzie, go out into the streets and riot? Riot against the burden of pampering your useless corporation which eats up reserves like a king having his breakfast? Oh but to do that we’ll need to have the support of the masses at large now wouldn’t we? We’ll need to have the farmers and various artificers and small time traders that make up almost 80% of this country’s economy. And you’ve got them nicely tied up to a coconut tree eating pani rambutan off your hand and believing that your government is actually doing the best it possibly can for the country now haven’t you?

Is that why Mr. Fowzie that you and Mr. Rajapakse’s government are suppressing technological development in the vast rural areas of Sri Lanka? Is that why IT is so restricted in its spread in this country? Is that why the internet is so little used except by us city-slickers with nothing better to do than browse Facebook and surf porn? Is that what you are afraid of? Are you afraid of knowledge?

Is that why u are clamping down on the media? So that you and your cronies can keep milking the country’s masses till the economy is just taut skin on a mass of bones? Are you using the war as an excuse? I must admit, as far as excuses go, it’s a great excuse.

You’ve sold patriotism to everybody; everybody is buying into your definition of it. Well I’ve got news for you, this place is still supposed to be a democracy. And in a democracy patriotism need only be defined as sense of love for your country, and that does NOT necessarily mean Mr. Fowzie that patriots need to support the war or be behind the government in every single thing they do. But you obviously think otherwise don’t you? Oh yes, anyone who speaks out against the administration’s policies is obviously a scourge on society, he deserves to be kidnapped, decapitated and dumped in the Kelani river. And I’m with you on that, like I was with George frigging Bush-eater when he invaded Iraq.

Change A Coming??

We are just a few days away from the US presidential elections people and Obama just launched a half hour television commercial. Later on we are going to be all about how Obama, probably the candidate with the toughest chance at winning, grabbed the oval office by the sheer power of a stupendous marketing campaign. Probably the most effective in the history of the presidential elections since time immemorial etc. etc.

But is this chap really going to win? I remember asking indi about this once. Back when Obama had just managed to catch up with Hillary in the democratic primaries and was struggling to maintain a marginal lead, when it looked unlikely that he would do so, and when many a pundit was talking about how Hillary will just rise back up after a ‘temporary setback’. Indi seemed pretty confident that he would win the primary, and I think that he’s pretty much confident that he’s gonna pull off the presidential campaign as well and personally, I think I'm with him. (Indi, I hope you don’t mind the airtime and content.)

But is Obama really going to make a change? Is he really going to turn the world as we know it upside down? Or will he have more of a ‘Sarkozy affect’ (my own term) and simply strengthen politically the power of America and take practical positive steps to push forward the economy? Time will tell I suppose.
Meanwhile, ominous notions of John F. Kennedy-esque assassinations circulate (and I don’t mean dumbasses like these). JFK was a reformist, possibly the best thing that happened to the States in the context of genuinely ‘wholesome’ global policy. Obama seems to have built his campaign on top of reformist pro-change rhetoric (As for his foriegn policy, well, McCain just may be striking a soft spot or two IMHO), will he practice it?  And if he does, will he have to pay for it? After all, as a friend of mine said, he’s just the president. Or will be, if McCain doesn’t win, or the ‘aliens’ decide to grab him or kill him with oh say, two bullets before the elections.

Who murdered the financial system?

Turns out we all dunnit, according to this chap. Many thanks to Deane for the pointer to Swaminomics.

Big Brother

The Island wants you to live! Linc, The Company is after your son! Hiro, the virus! It was unleashed in the future by The Company. You need to save the bloody world. Again.

The Big Brother is watching you. Wiretapping is scary...they are LISTENING!!!

Damn. What is this thing about popular culture that simply ices your testicles? Or at least my testicles cos ‘The Company’ (pronounced with full emphasis on the capitals and the inverted commas) is all I’ve been hearing about lately. ‘The Company’ is unleashing a virus, ‘The Company’ wants you dead. I mean, ‘Lost’ is a Robinson Crusoe-esque shipwreck (ok, planewreck if you will) story and it turns out that the very island they are stranded on has got a hidden agenda, and uses all the stranded people as pawns to achieve its goals. I’m talking about an Island here. I mean it’s an inanimate object.

I don’t know exactly why, but the notion that there is a higher unseen entity controlling your every move and attaching strings to you every way you turn, has reached a level of mainstream popularity that to me is quite novel. Think about it, not so long ago it was only the stoners, the UFO people, and my A/L english master who waxed lyrical about ‘hidden agendas’, things that are ‘not what they seem’ and ‘they have got you fooled’ etc.

I was, and am one of those people mind you, no not a stoner or an english master. Well correction, not always a stoner, and as for the UFO's well, all I can say is that i believe in the possibilityof aliens existing. Another post on that maybe  But i've always been a conspiracy nut. If being intrigued by a possible conspiracy makes me a nut.

Someone once told me that the American people were being ‘prepared’ for a black president. He was of course referring to the black president seen in the first season of 24. This post 9/11 trash TV show if you ask me. The first season was great and Elisha Cuthbert was hot but then the whole thing got boring. Kind of noticed that the black president disappeared rather quickly in the following seasons too, I don’t know, maybe Obama should watch out.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ is a great book. And a must read for all you ‘Company’ skeptics and fanatics out there. It sets out the true story of an ‘Economic Hitman’ working for big corporations involved in exploiting mainly third world/developing counties. Read that, and you’ll get some good insight into how the whole thing worked (this mainly concerns the mid to latter decades of the 20th century), and possibly get an inkling as to how modern mega-powerful corporate interests work too.

Popular culture reflects general sentiment among the larger public. So this is really where Wall Street meets Main Street, inside people's minds. People are increasingly suspicious about big organizations and corporate interests controlling goverments and are increasingly wondering how much privacy and control they really have in their lives. Obama is popular in the polls and Obama is the one promising to cut down the power of Big Organizations. The world is caught in a Big Brother frenzy.

All that of course is primarily in the Western world right? You may ask or you may not. Here is SL, we peacefully navigate our ways through the occasional military checkpoint and avoid the occasional drunk driving rap by refusing to ‘blow the balloon’ and casually slipping the ‘ralahami’ a few hundred bucks. But nevertheless, we too are caught up in the whole global corporate game. Just how do we think we are funding our war? Just how do you think those politicos are getting their filthy hands on billions of dollars? This money has got to come from somewhere right? And the people giving it to us obviously know we are not going to pay them back. So what have they already reserved as collateral? Our natural resources? Our UN votes? Its anyone’s guess. Existing governments can simply sell the country's soul to the devil (read, The Company) and temporarily live it up and then transfer the debris of their spoils on to the poor chaps who come into power next (who will probably in turn carry on with the grand traditions of the first) but I digress.

So has capitalism fuelled this and presented to us a world where governments are mere pawns on a chessboard ruled by the multinationals? I don’t know, I haven’t found out yet, I’m still waiting for Lost Season 5, and the rest of Heroes season 3 and Prison Break 4.

Outsourcing, Obama’s Folly

There’s a lot of American outsourcing going on. And not just to Mexico. In addition to Sri Lanka, there’s Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, I’m not too sure about Pakistan but there’s definitely India. Gazillions of Indians work in call centers, and there are more queuing up. Lots of labor availability means lower wages (by US standards), meaning lower costs, translating into higher profits/lower prices. Mostly the latter due to high competition in developed markets.

Hell man, they’re even outsourcing war right now. And not just to American firms it seems.

And now Barrack Obama wants to stop all that. He wants to provide Americans with jobs he says, but is outsourcing really the demon of unemployment to developed nations like they seem to think?

I would say no. Outsourcing is great for the economy, its ‘spreads the wealth around’ (one of Obama’s axioms as a matter of fact, but I think he was talking in a more local sense as opposed to a global one). But then you’d argue that it may be okay for the global economy, but is it alright for countries taken individually? More importantly, is it good for America? Cos people in the US are losing their jobs to Pakis, curries and brownies faster than you can say ‘Joe the Plumber’.

I would say yes it is. Here’s why.

• Importing labor means outflow of foreign exchange translating into more demand for American exports. Cos the dollars that go out have to eventually end up back in the US right? So this will fuel American industry and actually increase employment there.

• Regular American consumers pay less for services due to reduced prices of goods and serviced whose functions have been outsourced to other countries, leaving them with more disposable income which they will in turn channel towards other industries making them more prosperous increasing employment there as well.

So Americans can only get more prosperous. Sure we’re looking at a group of immediately affected former white collar workers without jobs, but in the longer term, the US and everybody else, would be far better as a result of outsourcing, which after all is probably one of the most visible affects of globalization on the planet.

America, to prosper again will need to focus its energies on those industries I which it is strongest in. The credit collapse seems to have blinded everyone onto thinking there’s something wrong with everything in the damn economy. That’s not the case here. It’s funny; they forgot the one thing that the great guru of modern American free market economic policy, Milton Friedman, advocated when he preached a free market policy approach; ‘Regulate the Banks!’ and look where they are now. Friedman never really offered a concrete explanation as to why, of all industries, only banks needed to be regulated, but I’m pretty sure we can all see firsthand what can happen when the heavily intertwined and confused financial industry, like a Gulliver after a bit too many drinks, hurls on the Lilliputian economy of the world. (for a simple and informative look at at how the subprime crisis happened click here).

I sure hope Obama is just saying that to get the votes in man, cos if he wins and really does do away with outsourcing, all that’s gonna do is cripple the American, and the global, economy a little bit more.

Joe the Plumber, The story behind

With McCain joking about replacing his entire team of senior advisers with Joe the Plumber, this pretty much says it all.

Karuna Amman; On Life, Loves, and Career

Karuna Amman took some time off of his busy schedule to have an interesting little chat with us recently.  Here are some choice excerpts;

On his latest career move...

'Ah well its been an interesting career move, joining the Sri Lankan parliament. Sure we all had our good times running around in the jungles of Vanni shooting both the LTTE and the Government troops but my rebellious days are over, i have realized that it is time to shoulder responsibility and take a stand. I had been contemplating it for quite a while and can safely say after being on both sides that the perks are much better over here! Prabha even skimps on the AC. and we all know how hot it is over there. I think we can be extremely proud of how this nation treats its public servants. when even in England, as i observed when i was there, they are made to travel in (face contorting with painful remembrance) public transport. Eww!'

On his critics..

'People will always criticize anyone if it is advantageous to them. I don't really care about my critics. it is now time for us all to get together and develop the nation. And if they have a problem with me, they can pay me a visit on the east coast and i will show them what real hospitality is. When im done with them they wouldn't be able to walk straight or sit down for the rest of their term in parliament would surely see the error of their ways and work towards my goal of peace and development.'

On life in general..

'Ah life? well i have always been a trigger happy gun toter an engaging person. That's what I was born to be and my life has been an interesting heavy duty tank roller coaster ride so far. The days I spent in the jungles as a rebel running from both sides were some of the best in my life (smiles fondly with a faraway look in his eyes), but I eventually realized that I couldnt pursue what I felt was my ultimate purpose in life, and that is to destroy the rest of humanity help my fellow human beings, and feeling that i had outgrown the LTTE in terms of my capabilities as a person i was on the lookout for new opportunities. That's when my good friend the president approached me and offered me a post in his bloodthirsty noble institution. And here i am!'

And the Future?

'Ah the future is full of opportunity! i have plans to eventually take over the country launch a campaign to develop the East. Those good people really need to be killed for their own good to be assisted. And i am calling all my fellow politicians and new countrymen to forget the past. I have big plans for you. Embrace me and my policies we shall greet the golden age of Karunaland Sri Lanka together!'

Certain sections in this post have been subject to censorship. Mr. Amman was a bit maerry just after his parliamentary initiation bash and might have er, 'blabbed' a bit.

The Vadai Index

The real price of everything, what everything costs to the man who wants to acquire it is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. Whats everything id really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself, and which it can impose upon other people.
That was Adam Smith.

I have always been a fan of vadais, if you don’t know what a vadai is, then you've probably not hung around a lot of Sri Lankan trains, roadsides or bust stops much. They are small, made of dhal and flour, fried, crispy and can usually include a little piece of maldive fish or a prawn or two. The prawn variety is known as an isso vadai, isso meaning prawns, and are extremely popular around Galle Face, before it was shut down that is (by shut down i mean Galle Face, not the isso vadai industry har har).

Excuse me while I clear up my watering mouth. Now vadais are generally very popular in crowded areas and a pack of 5 small maldive fish vadais (back when I was schooling, which was not so long ago) cost about 10 bucks. you'd get some fried chilies to much along with them and iv always considered them to be a tasty treat.

What do vadais have in common with indices and the theory of value? I hear you ask. Well I’m getting there so please do be patient.

So recently I was in Ratnapura on a Saturday for a funeral. Bussed it there alone and when i got there what did I see? You guessed it! a chap selling vadai in a little cart. So i walked over and asked for a pack of 5 maldive fish vadais (generally a bit smaller than your average chicken egg) and i dig out my wallet expecting it to cost about 20 bucks (allowing for inflation) and guess what? chap asks me for 30.

Ok. well I guessed times were hard and the vadais did look pretty crisp. So I shelled it out. So that was a 300% increase in price over a period of oh say, 3 years or so.

So the next day, im driving back from Galle with a couple of friends after catching some test cricket action and we stop at the Aluthgama bridge ‘cos of some accident of some sort and lo and behold, we have vadai seller walking his walk and talking his talk. How much? 5 for 10 rupees! I am like wow so inflation hasn't hit this area of the island has it? We enthusiastically buy 3 little paper bags worth of it. I take one out and suddenly get a bit confused when i realize that I am holding something that looks about the size of a Jumbo Peanut. Pop it into my mouth and can find absolutely no trace of maldive fish either. So that’s roughly a 300% decrease in size (factoring in the missing maldive fish) in vadai sizes over the past 3 years. Times are hard indeed.

So we have two contrasts under close to perfect conditions needed for empirical analysis.
Case 1- The size of the vadai remains roughly the same, while the price escalates to 300%.
Case 2 - The price remains at 10 rupees while the size shrinks to almost 1 third of its former size accentuated by the lack of a piece of maldive fish.

So thats either a 300% increase in price or a 300% decrease in size. So my common sense lead me to conclude, that since these prices and sizes would seem to be rather reasonable in the eyes of a vadai patron (afterall demand must exist, for them to keep selling) it looks like there has been a 300% decrease in value of money over thelast 3 years.

Sounds like a good indicator of the real level of inflation in the country to me. Maybe the Central Bank should consider initiating a vadai index. Or maybe even a basket index of all roadside ‘fast-food’ items if correlation is as obvious as it is with the vadai. Maybe I should start an island wide campaign to generate awareness. This could be a start.

The Sardine Factor…

Life, is a salmon tin.

We are all living inside one. It is called Earth. Previously, us Sri Lankans were living in a smaller tin called Sri Lanka or Serendib/Thmbapanni or any of the other names we called our country. Fact was, the name of the island bore no real relevance, for then we fought and killed each other to our hearts content only identifying ourselves in terms of which highly divisive feudal kingdom we belonged to. All this, of course only until some bigger fish from another tin invaded our little tin. I believe they were of the Protugese variety.

And then the Dutch. followed by the British. Thats when the whole sense of a Sri Lankan identity came into being. And we fought as a nation to take back our little salmon tin. So did external influence play a part in bringing this about? sure seems like it.

This is a phenomenon that has taken place in every single nation of the world. We only fight over what we know exists. Back in those days we only possessed a hazy idea of the rest of the world in general and therefore couldn’t get our heads around the fact that there was anything really bigger than this island of ours. Same thing happened in India, same thing in the UK, same all over the world.

Individual nations have become larger and larger. As the smaller ones have been swallowed up. Ireland was one of the last to go, most of the pacific islands were snapped up in the last world war. So where do we go to next?

What if. What if some advance alien civilization invaded our dank atmosphere and made their presence felt? Would the ensuing economic and security implications make us finally get together under a banner of a united Earth?

Would we simply proceed to identify ourselves as “Earthlings’ instead of ‘Americans’ or ‘Chinese’ or ‘Sri Lankans’ etc? We would. As the universe reveals itself to us as a very much ‘real’ place all our petty bickering over this minute planet would die down and in good old bloodthirsty human fashion, we would proceed to pool our resources and steal whatever we can from the advanced aliens to launch our own ‘war against slime’ on some underdeveloped planet on a distant star system. We would all start fighting in the salmon tin of the Milky Way. And who knows how many eons later, if we ever do survive, or live to encounter a substantial external threat, maybe even the Great Salmon Tin of the Universe.

And then only the green skinned, big headed blokes with the funny antenna would be the bad guys. The rest of us can well, rest easy.

Free the Booming Babies

Babies are a-booming in the modern world. Especially across the western hemisphere, increasing numbers of couples are looking to adopt after exhausting all other methods of procuring offspring. Therefore ‘babies’ have blossomed into a full scale industry. Driven by the same demand that say, fertility clinics are driven by.

Supply of course is monopolized by fully legalized adoption agencies. And this works like any other market in the sense that there is a cost attached to adoption, mainly when it comes to fees. And there is also a prosperous bunch of intermediaries operating such as lawyers, counselors etc. But this is a highly regularized process and with supply unable to keep up with demand, a black market for baby trade has emerged and is prospering resulting in kidnappings and even blatant baby selling.

The incident that triggered this post happened in good old Ceylon. And we’re well-known to have a highly de-regularized baby trade market. We’ve been hearing about it for years. Ever since i was a kid, I remember it as being a part of popular culture, there were countless numbers of Singhalese tele-dramas I’ve watched that talked about how this baby was sold to (for e.g. a family in UK) and how the kid returns after long years of absence to a remote village in a sunny island etc to find its birth parents in a poor little house built of clay etc.

The point being that due to poverty and various other reasons like loose sexual habits among rural youth and the lack of reliable abortion options lot of babies were being born that were unwanted. Many of these babies were literally being treated as garbage with numerous incidents of unwanted offspring being found dumped by the sides of roads (apparently baskets and doorsteps are an alien concept over here) and even murdered.

As discussed, at the same time, there was burgeoning demand for babies in many Western states. In states where populations were on the decline and prosperity was on the rise, couples were increasingly looking choosing adoption as an option instead of giving birth or due to impotency.

So now we have the demand for babies as well as the supply of babies which are the main ingredients of any industry right? But much of the fees potential adopters have to pay (which sometimes number in the thousands, and I am talking hard currency) go to all the intermediaries and to adoption agencies. Poor parents will only have the satisfaction of knowing that that cuddly little bundle of love will have found a (hopefully) happy home.

But why does this have to be the case? Why can’t we make sure the baby gets a good place to grow up and make a buck at the same time? i guess most of them started to think that way and i think despite popular belief, rural Sri Lankans do have a grasp of market economics for this has been happening for quite some time. The latest going price seems to have been Rs. 66,000. But then again, that was a domestic sale. If it was a foreigner the price would undoubtedly have doubled (just like tuk tuk and bus fare and basically anything else a white skinned person tries to buy on our golden shores). Clever aren’t we?

But it’s not only here where this is happening; Africa is major supplier of babies, also countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam (just look at the celebrity list of adopters).

So why don’t they just de-regularize the whole thing and let babies be treated as just another export good? We could have separate baby commodity markets as well, maybe diversify our investment portfolios now that oil is on the drop, stock markets are crashing and even gold isn’t as reliable as it used to be. Hell, babies could end up saving the world from a Great Depression. And Friedman would be happy too. A free market should, after all, be a free market. What do you think?

Sweep ticket dealers needing a bit of luck?

So the All Island Lottery Dealers' Society (AILDS) is going to strike on Thursday and bring to a standstill one of the main contributors to the Sri Lankan economy is it? 35 million in revenues per day im told. taken at an average of 10 bucks a sweep ticket. thats 3.5 million sweep tickets sold per day and i suppose it would be safe to assume that approximately 3.5 million people buy those tickets (excluding the few who are more addicted and maybe blow a good proportion of their paycheck on them).

whats my point? well i dont really have one to tell you the truth, except to explore this whole business of sweep ticket selling and how it affects a country like ours. So lets see, the AILDB (The dealers netwok) says that they are currently only entitled to 1.5% of the revenues from a ticket and out of that, 1.35% goes to the sweep ticket seller. so out of 35 million thats about an average of Rs. 525,000 for the dealer network and about Rs.472,500 for the ticket sellers as a whole, per day.

Well do the math and consider the massive amounts of tickets sellers that the dealer network has an it is pretty apparent that they only make a pittance compared to the total revenue generated by the lotteries board. After the planned increase if ticket prices this might change and double their revenues. So that would probably keep them happy.

Meanwhile, the lottery board continues to contribute to the economy and infrastructure of the country and also dish out gazillions to the occasional jackpot winner. So that is the current set-up and it doesnt look like its going to change any time soon.
I wonder how much of these 'funds' are being absorbed by corruption though eh

Of Rupavahini, and Irony

k now here's some news. woke up early this morning and switched on Rupavahini to maybe catch a glimpse of the Olympics and there is apparently a 'Live' foreign news program going on at that forsaken hour. Who would watch Rupavahini for foreign news that early? well i suppose they must have some viewer segment somewhere that does it or they wouldn’t have it would they? I mean Rupavahini is the most sensible of all Sri Lankan stations right? er, Right?

Anyways i was up watching it but what’s with the Live gimmick? I mean surely just cos those poor presenters are coming all the way from home to be there at 6 am sharp to project yesterdays news live from the studio doesn’t warrant calling it Live?? i mean, where’s the consumer benefit from labeling the news Live? when the only things that are live are the slightly bleary eyed, overly bright presenters trying way too hard to look really cheerful and here's the stinky part, righteous.

So first there was a segment on the Spanish plane crash. Conflicting views. Tragic incident. over 150 people dead. Crazy the plane crashes we get these days. Then onto Georgia, and get this, they show the Russian point of view. I mean why not the US? are'nt we, or at least our giovernment, supposed to sucking upto Bush? and as the government's media machine isnt Rupavahini supposed to exemplify thise vews? So i was waiting for a couter argument. heavy with western views.. But it never came.

They talk about how the US is condemning the attacks but how Russia is defending them and paint the Russians in an innocent light claiming that their sovereignty was breached first. While technically that might be correct, the incidents that followed painted the Russians hands with a significant amount of blood that would IMHO, definitely warrant some mention from a media organization that values integrity and freedom of expression. Then they go on about the US attacking Panama and Iraq and so on and so forth and ask if those attacks were justifiable as a response to US bad talk with regard to the whole conflict. Those facts are not irrelevant and I support their sentiments. But you can’t use them as an excuse to carry out your own killings can you?

Did anyone notice how smoothly the US went ahead with their missile plan in Poland and Putin kept shut like little mouse? After all that big talk of 'we will not let you belittle us in our own region' etc etc? signs of a bit of a deal? bit of a 'if you turn the blind eye on our atrocity , we let you go ahead and build a missile defence center right next to us' sort of deal?

Then onto the presidential race of the US. Our national TV station states that the US media is highlighting the fact that McCain is ahead of the polls by 7% a little bit too much and (this is what cracked me up) Rupavahini says that 'the US media is famous for such propagandist activities that go against the nature of unbiased media'

So righteous. So disgusting. Audacious. But plain ridiculous if you ask me. Rupavahini can’t even fool the people properly. As a government propaganda machine, they absolutely suck.

Clean Energy by 2010; Will Marketing save the World?

I just read this awesome blog post on clean energy and Al Gore's ominous target of achieving all energy from green sources in 10 years. Sure i dont think scientists alone can achieve such a goal alone. Besides with the majority of the world struggling for their very survival investing what little income they get on greener sources of energy mught seem impractical.

But in raising funds from the rich and affluent classes by invoking a guilty sense of responsibility towards the health of the planet, marketing and entreprneurship can probably play a great role. Transferring some of the economic imbalance towards saving the planet sounds a great idea to me. if the Richies can be coerced to part with their dough, then maybe they could make the world a better place for the rest of it's population, or at least prevent it from being a much worse place in a few years.
Have a look at it here.

Nimal Siripala Silva; We are not ready to accept any ceasefire that would supply 'oxygen' to the LTTE

Quite right too. I mean you can't expect to be in a war and suddenly expect the other side to give you a break just as they start kicking your ass. And the Tigers have been recieving quite a yammering over the past few weeks (if intelligence reports are anything to go by). But i think even the somewhat sceptical have to believe that the government have taken a few positive steps in the war with the capturing of the naval base in Veditthaldivu and the major base 10 clicks or so north of it.

But statements like Mr. Silva's could end up antagonizing the tigers and make them malignant enough to damn the international community to hell and deploy what resources they have to do what destruction they can next week in Colombo. Sure, they will be risking quite a lot. The SAARC is a set of countries that the Tigers would not want to piss off. but if the are desperate enough or pissed of enough, who knows what they could do.

Historically, the LTTE have been adept at using ceasefires to regather their strength and retaliate strongly. The Sri Lankan government has been sucker punched before, so it seems madly irrational to accept a ceasefire when you are trouncing your opponents. There doesnt seem to be any indication of them doing so at least yet, with the Air Force confirming the killing of 22 LTTE 'black tigers' today as the result of an air strike at Udayankattikulam. but military top brass has reasserted the commonly held belief that this insurgency can never be completely wiped off although they can be largely conquored, at least for the foreseeable future and that is, if they manage to finally win the war.

Meanwhile, more and more Sri Lankans are getting bogged down with the increasing costs of basic commodities and as the economy slips further into gloom there is an increasing sense of being a citizen of an autocratic rule rather than a democracy. The last thing we want is for us to have a permanent ruling family headed by a president with enough siblings and offspring to rule the country for a long time to come.

LTTE declares ceasefire for the duration of the SAARC summit

Now wait a minute, why are they getting all excited? The governmrnt is whoring the whole country to the summit as it is, i mean, whats in it for them?

The general opinion seems to be that they are scared shitless of offending any of the nations coming down for a visit here. So while the governement tightens up security and makes up roads and gives the visiting countries the feather cushion of luxury and prays and hopes to god the LTTE does not do anything silly and make ma-hinder look bad, heres the LTTE playing right into our hands and saying ' Aww c'mon, do you really think we'd harm our fellow SAARC nations? we're not THAT bad, look here, we're going to declare a ceasefire just to reassure you'

hmmm.. will somebody please enlighten me?

Barack Obama is an urban terrorist with a secret agenda that is aligned with al-Qaeda!!

Or so says the New Yorker who claims that these rumors and smear campaigns inspired it to produce this controversial cover page which is meant to ridicule such attacks on the democratic candidate.

The page shows Obama in traditional Muslim dress and his wife as a terrorist while an American flag burns in the background in a room with portrait of Osama Bin-Laden.

Needless to say, it was not well received by the Obama campaign...

From CBS news;

”...political author Jeffrey Feldman said in an interview with CBC News.

"The idea [is] that somehow Barack Obama is an urban terrorist with a secret agenda that is aligned with al-Qaeda and the second he gets in the White House, he's going to launch some covert plan in order to bring down the United States," Feldman said.

"It's such a ridiculous claim, but no matter how many times people fight back against it — including on the Obama website [where] they have an entire section dedicated to just fighting these smears…it still seems to be gaining ground. There's almost an exhaustion, a frustration that this type of smear campaign is working to spread these ideas."

Hmmm, so the New Yorker is just helping out Obama? Or was it helping to fire up and give more credibility to these 'Smear Campaign'?

The idea of Obama as a secret al-Quaeda opeartive, to me, is bit hard to imagine. lol but then again, who imagined the twin towers would go down right? This is porbably just the sort of thing that's just too ridiculous to believe and for that very reason, might create a significant subconcious impact and succeed in taking away those crucial independent and non-hardliners away from him. McCain in the meanwhile, has quite righteously disapproved of the cover. I wonder of he thinks it's good or bad for his campaign?

IPL Shocker! Unknown player tests positive for D.O.P.E!

Skimpily clad cheerleaders offending ‘traditional’ Indian values, Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth and making the poor chap cry (and getting banned for 11 matches in the process) and now in the latest controversy surrounding India’s IPL, it has been revealed that one player has tested positive for a banned substance. (The reason for the delay in carrying out the tests of course was based on advice of doctors who said that new players might not be aware of the specifics and that they needed to be informed prior to conducting them.)

Anyway, the identity of the player in question has not yet been revealed. Indeed, officials are in the process of matching the sample with the player identity and will then compare his list of pre-declared drugs (if any) to see if he is in the clear. If not there will be another sample sent in for testing and if that tests positive, kerrthump! Down on the chopping block.

Prime suspect  of course is recently notorious Mohammed Asif who had a bit of a mash up with drugs in Dubai and was detained for a while as a consequence. Asif has claimed that since he had cleared two doping tests during the IPL, it proved he had not consumed the drug. Also under suspicion is the Rawalpindi Express Akhtar who is alleged to have been carrying around syringes along with him during the time of the league (diabetes, I bet). Another high profile former offender is the ultimate winning captain Shane Warne. All this however, Is speculation for now and we will not know for sure who the offender is until (and if) the tests are taken to the next level and the players identity is eventually revealed.

The substance also, remains unknown for now. We’ve seen the sex(-y cheerleaders), violence(at least some bitch slapping), rock’n’roll(or as close as Shah Rukh can get) and now it appears that the Drugs are in the ball game as well.. Rock on!

Ajantha Mendis Promoted?? I don't see the sense in that...

Excuse me, but are'nt soldiers supposed to be promoted and 'recognized for their achievements' based on how they do their actual jobs? i.e. being a soldier?? here's the official statement;

"GUNNER Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis (S/158405) of Sri Lanka Artillery
who created history in the Asia Cup Tournament, bringing laurels not only to the
Sri Lanka Army but also to the entire Nation was promoted to the rank of
Sergeant last evening (7) on the instructions of Commander of the Army
Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka in recognition of his achievements." states
the official website
of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.

Now dont get me wrong, i love cricket as much as the next Sri Lankan and watched the Asia Cup final and saw how Mendis almost sigle handedly won the match for us but the last time i checked there was no militarism involved in his actions at all! unless of course he shot the Indian players' balls with rubber bullets before the game started.

The Sri Lanka Army, dont they need to get their helmets on straight? how would this boost troop morale on the battlefield? 'here we are drinking dirty water and starving. Not knowing when we're going to take a bullet for our country, and they promote some chap who's never seen the jungles of Vanni cos he played cricket and bowled some Indians out?'

Sports and War, i dont think should be mixed up. Mendis is a great cricketer. But the Army is still the Army. This is a typical Sri Lankan decision agian. lol.

Agent Orange; wreaking havoc through the annals of time.

From 1961 to 1970 the US military heavily sprayed the South of Vietnam with a powerful herbicide and a defoliant known by the codename Agent Orange. It is estimated that up to 80000 cubic meters of the stuff were sprayed over the shrub, crop and jungle areas of South Vietnam to destroy what cover that the Vietnamese rebels had. The spraying was harsh and unchecked, hell, it’s the US military doing it, the world always bends over backwards to avoid calling them wrong.

The results are here to be seen up to this day. The victims of the toxins (dioxins produced by the degradation of AO) released by this substance live up to this day and their offspring show various signs of genetic deformation even two generations later. According to the Vietnamese Government there are still up to 4.8 million Vietnamese people thought to be victims of Agent Orange. One wonders at the total number of victims. But of course no exact body counts of the total Vietnamese casualties are available from the war because Uncle Sam didn’t really care as to how many died as long as they could ‘shoot some Vietcong’. However, there are precise numbers available of US casualties during the war.

These people and their descendants mostly live mainly in a mountainous area bordering Cambodia and suffer in sub-standard conditions and various genetic diseases. The full scale of the Vietnamese impact of Agent Orange is not widely available to be read in English due to most of the research having been conducted by Vietnamese scientists, but to get an idea of what I am talking about have a look at these moving images on flickr.

And does the US care? Not a chance in hell. They have already gone on to inflict atrocities of a horrendous nature on several other peoples in this world, and are still at it. And this happened, after all, even after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which shows their utter lack of remorse. Their latest excuse? Fighting terror. Well, fighting terror is one thing, but terror does beget terror and the world would probably be a much better place to live in if countries like the US (UK, Germany etc.) stopped their own brand of terrorism. A brand of terrorism disguised as the defense of the human race only by the sheer power of propaganda.

For more information and material on related topics read Noam Chomsky.

click here for more information on Vietnam's Agent Orange victims.

Dialog Says NO to Anarkali

In more news, everybody’s favorite and Sri Lanka’s golden girl Anarkali Akarsha has suffered another blow. Sources at Dialog Telekom have revealed that there has been a directive from senior management to immediately remove all branding and promotional items containing the model/actress.

Anarkali’s pay packet was rumored to have been numbered in the millions and the Telekom giant is said to be the main catalyst behind her somewhat meteoric rise to fame after winning the Miss. Sri Lanka pageant and representing the country in the Miss. World stage.

Her recent mix-up with politician Duminda Silva seems to have cast doubts on her marketability and this seems to be the main reason behind Dialog’s decision. Although it remains to be seen if it is going to be a permanent measure or not, but according to what I heard, that does seem to be the case.

Anarkali (or Anar) has been surrounded by controversy as of late and at a time when the telecom market is increasing in competitivity and firms get increasingly sensitive towards consumer needs and reactions Dialog’s decision would appear to be quite rational in the light of Anar’s former appeal especially in rural areas.

Bio fuels burn human lives

Oxfam says so-called green policies in developed countries are contributing to the world's soaring food prices, which hit the poor hardest. The group also says bio fuels will do nothing to combat climate change. (more)

Developed countries are increasingly investing on bio fuels as an alternative to traditional energy sources and this is driving up demand for food. Further, if the prices for fuel crops exceed that of food prices, the food in question will obviously be sold to make bio fuels.

Brazil especially has been an outspoken advocate for the use of bio fuels and claims that it does not affect food prices or supply in an adverse way, Oxfam begs to differ though, claiming that up to 30 million of the worlds people have been affected already.

It seems that in its eagerness to get on with trend of enviro-friendliness and clean energy, the world is losing touch with the basics. We are acting like kids with a new toy it seems. Bio fuels are not sustainable; to meet the current energy demand with bio fuels alone would mean the use of almost all the food crop in production right now.

We need some better ideas please?

ITS ALIVE! The BMW GINA philosophy: Flexibility to the Max!

Car afficionado's have been talking non stop about this brand new baba. made out of cloth they say and maaaan, i just Love the way the hood operates. it winks, changes shape from a muscly brute to a sleek lean mean driving machine (probably at the press of a button..) BMW sure came up with a shaker.

But it remains to be seen how long its gonna take for it to actually hit production. my feelings is its gonna be a bit too delicate for most environments and myt cost a fortune to maintain. its a concept of a concept and will revolutionalize car design in the future, but the technology is way too expensive for commercial production as yet.

as for safety measures, performance specs etc nothing is for certain. And we will have to wait for some years yet to see exactly what kind of monster BMW will bury beneath that sexy hood. But for now we have this cool video to watch coutesy the German carmaker. Do check it out.

Anarkali now threatened by Duminda..Stop the Presses!

This is great i tell you, Finally some real tabloid style news stories over here..

Renowned film actress and singer Anarkali Akarsha yesterday accused ruling party western provincial councillor Duminda Silva of threatening to kill her and her mother if she refused to marry him.

The death threat allegation came following an incident at Elibank Road yesterday where it was alleged an attempt was made to abduct the actress when she in the company of her mother, was proceeding to keep an appointment at the Ramani Salon.

Silva and Akarsha were said to be in a relationship which had turned sour after the provincial councillor had reportedly started ill treating her.

The Morning Leader learns the actress had through her mother made arrangements to meet a senior lawyer tomorrow to get a restraining order against Silva.

Informed sources said Akarsha s mother had alleged, Silva had assaulted her daughter prompting her to part ways. She had also alleged, Silva was refusing to end the relationship. Silva it is learned had denied the charges levelled against him and claimed the actress owed him Rs. 5 million which was the cause of the dispute.

Yesterday afternoon a group of vehicles with several armed security personnel had surrounded the vehicle in which the actress was at Elibank Road, forced her out of the vehicle and tried to abduct her, while she was on her way for an appointment at the Ramani Salon at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

Akarsha had convinced the goon squad to (read more...)

Whats next? The Anarkali and Duminda sex tape? although i dont think this whole episode smacks of a cheap publicity stunt (ref: Jordan, Paris, Kim etc etc.), did you know that they were living together?? chee..i can picture the aunties with their hands on their chins gossipping away right now.. whats your take on it?

US defends Afghan border strike

Yesterday 11 Pakistani troops fell to US ‘friendly fire’ and died pursuing US interests. The Pentagon dismissed and defended the strike effectively saying it was their own fault for not having ‘proper communication’

I mean God forbid the Pakistani’s accidentally gunned down and bombed and killed 11 US soldiers. Then the pentagon would be all over the bloody place. I mean, when a country is your ally you take care not to shoot them accidentally in the battlefield, or am I seriously not in with the times here?

To blame it on communications is an absurdity in itself. The US was at fault for invading the border of Pakistan so they should have obtained the necessary clearance in the first place. The only problem in ‘communication’ would seem to have been with the US who seem to think it polite to just barge into anyone’s country and carry out any old military operation as they see fit.

Retaliation from the Pakistani end is not likely to be substantially outraged enough because of Pakistan’s Us policy having literally sold it’d soul to the US over the last few years of Pervez Musharraff’s rule. This coupled with the extremely unstable socio-political-legal environment in Pakistan will make it extremely difficult for them to unify internally for a strong message to the USA. Pakistan has to assert their authority and the importance of their sovereignty to the international community to avoid being treated like the Uncle Sam’s little bitch (excuse the expletive).

The destabilization of Pakistan’s internal environment seems to have given the US vast liberties when it comes to cross border operations which have been going on for quite a long time resulting in a lot of unwarranted deaths. The US is making use out of a unstable situation to maximize their advantage. Or have they created that advantage and played a hidden role in Pakistan’s destabilization in itself?

Read the BBC report here.


All Hail the new Republic!

So Nepal has finally arrived. Through years of struggle against autocratic rule, through years of false democracy and strife to the people, through civil wars and a Maoist uprising, through a right royal bloodbath and a king in a coma and finally through the overthrowing of an evil monarch who by all senses of the word was a paranoid control freak, the forces of true democracy have come!

Ok, maybe that passage there was a bit too dramatic and biased by usual journalistic standards, but they just represent the general public sentiment that I believe must be prevailing in Nepal right now. The Maoist have gone as far as to ask the king to leave the royal palace within a week and they have made their intentions clear to turn it into a museum. Also they have been kind enough to allow the former king to ‘live in the country as an ‘ordinary civilian’. So if King Gyanendra was expecting British royal family like treatment then he obviously has a lot more rethinking to do. After seizing all power and dissolving parliament last year and holding what many denounced to be staged elections, the old king looks to have brought down this fate upon himself.

But the new Maoist leader Prachanda (A nick-name im sure a lot of us Sri Lankans will be wondering about) is willing to consider giving the king some sort of role within the constituency if that is the ‘will of the people.


The downfall of the monarchy was speeded up all the more after the massacre of 2001 where the then crown prince Dipendra shot and killed most of the royal family (including then king and his father King Birendra) before apparently turning the weapon upon himself and missing the shot badly enough that he was in a coma for a few days until succumbing to his injuries and was proclaimed king in the meanwhile as well.


The Nepalese seem to have never fully accepted the circumstances and the explanations widely spread with regard to the royal massacre and several conspiracy theories abound. The most famous of course named the real culprit of the killings to be King Gyanendra himself who of course being next in-line to the throne after Dipendra, stood most to gain from the killing of the existing king and the disposal of the person next in line.

Dipendra was a PHD holder and said to be quite skilled in the art of karate. He was Eton educated and was incidentally disciplined in that school for selling alcohol. This is an insignificant fact of course; we all get up to nonsense get disciplined in school. But such a fact can be used to definitely tarnish someone’s character and even make him look like he is even capable of mass murder in the hands of an artful propagandist. The most voiced of the conspiracy theorists claims are that Dipendra was a right handed man, but he shot himself on the left side of his head. Now why would that happen?

There is a new book detailing eyewitness accounts of what happened that night and a former palace worker details how she saw individuals ‘masked’ as the crown prince opening fire. Incidentally Gyanendra’s wife and son were also present that night and his wife escaped with minor injury while his son walked away uninjured. Gyanendra himself was away from the palace at the time of the incident.

If anyone was lookin for a motive; Dipendra was claimed to have been angry at his parents for their refusal to grant permission to marry his first love from a rival family. Sounds a bit like Romeo and Juliet from a parallel universe eh.

The way the wind blows

Prachanda Is said to be inspired by Peru’s Shining Path rebels and is said to be a bit on the puritanical side outlawing alcohol and denouncing 'vulgar literature' from India and the States.

Whatever the implications of this new rule will be it will not go unnoticed by Nepal’s two regional powers India and China. India has a long history of political manipulation in the Nepalese Government and obviously Maoists in rule there would provoke fears of China’s hidden influence. Meanwhile, Mr. Prachanda (Fierce one) holds the reigns of this republic and we will soon see which way she leans after she completely wakes up.

And In This Week of Hypocrisy….

Jimmy gets vocal

Former US president Jimmy Carter states that Israel has over 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. He also reiterates his belief that Israel’s suppression of the civilians in the West Bank is "One of the greatest human rights crimes on earth is the starvation and imprisonment of 1.6m Palestinians," well really Mister Carter thanks for saying that and still showing your support for Israel ‘As a country’??? (Quotes; the BBC).

The big dog

In the same story former Israeli Military intelligence chief Aharon Zeevi-Farkash has told Reuters that he finds Mr. Carters comments “irresponsible” and goes on to say that "The problem is that there are those who can use these statements when it comes to discussing the international effort to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons," he said. Oh, he must mean the few of us with a bit of sense in our heads who can somehow find the brains to ask the question; “If you can possess nuclear weapons, why can’t anyone else??”

Sir, would you please let us protect you in exchange for some entertainment for our troops?

UN peacekeeping sexually abusing children? Well that certainly seems to be the case in Africa where one 13 year old girl claims to have been gang raped by ten (that’s right TEN) peacekeeping soldiers and left bleeding cold and vomiting in the ground in a field near her Ivory Coast home. Other incidents of such a nature have been reporter from Sudan and Haiti and that’s only because a research was carried out in these areas. If that study was never done by we would go on being ignorant of these heinous crimes. And to think the UN positions itself as the savior of the world? What are they going to do about this?

Bloody Rogues

In two more interesting news stories, one Peruvian politician has come under fire for popping a bullet in a neighbor’s dog which was ‘bothering his ducks’ and Canada’s foreign minister has resigned after leaving a classified document in a ‘non-secure’ place (an ex-girlfriend’s apartment) . Man, am I glad our Sri Lankan politicians are not rogues like these. Arent you?

Obama mama jama…

Recently I saw this catchy phrase on one of my friends’ facebook status (where else eh?) and it got me thinking. Mr. Obama certainly has got some major hype surrounding him and appears to be the focus of a lot of attention right now.

His presidential rallies have the feel of rock concerts and his appeal among the young and dynamic seems universal. This has been the most spotlighted presidential race in the world so far and most of the spotlight seems to have been so far, on him. A self proclaimed prophet of change like him would obviously generate a lot of attention and that is all very well, but how much of his promised change is substantial fact and figure and how much has just been created by his charismatic persona alone?

Some say it’s the very image of Obama that makes him such a beacon-focus. He’s Black, his parents are immigrants and he embodies the very opposite in what has been the general American presidential stereotype. So when Obama promises change, everybody believes him because Obama embodies change. He is probably going to be the most different American president in history. But does ‘difference’ actually mean ‘change’? Or does it mean just a superficial change for a seemingly superficial difference?

On the other hand if threats to a candidate’s security are any indication of his/her potential for revolutionary status quo overturning change, then Mr. Obama seems to have a lead there over anyone else. He was the first to accept secret service protection last year long before it is offered to most presidential candidates, because of unspecified threats. But talks of threats to the life of a candidate leads to uncomfortable talk of assassination and incidentally Hilary Clinton succeeded in angering Obama supporters when she tactlessly brought up the Bobby Kennedy assassination to indicate (of all things under the sun) how unpredictable a nomination race is.

Now on a more ominous note, let us look at two previous democrats John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Robert. Both were assassinated for reasons for the explanation of which various conspiracy theories have been put forward. But both had a cult following born of their charisma and inspiring rhetoric both, context shows us, were strong agents for change.

Anyone who really thinks the US of A is solely ruled by the president and no other probably needs to get to their nearest clinic to get a reality check. Sure there is congress and the rest of the politicos but the large American corporates have a bigger part to play than their low profile in politics might indicate. Lobby groups aside, presidential campaign funds don’t totally come from small time donors. And if and when a particular candidate comes into power he will be expected to repay these donors by granting them political favors. Not democratic? Well of course not, how can democracy be democracy when it is commercialized and there is good money at stake. Money invested almost always means interest in getting a benefit out of that investment and even if that benefit might mean just a ‘better place to live in’ for small time donors it could hardly mean the same for the big –time corporate who contributes in the millions.

If Barrack Obama is such an agent for revolutionary change as most of his supporters seem to think, then that change would have to be the same plans on the agenda of the corporate and the other power players in the American political scene for it to have any success in implementation. So far, all we have seen from the man is brilliant rhetoric and little evidence of his actual plans for change, a fact that even his followers seem to agree with.