Sri Lanka faces more bloodshed ahead unless govt acts

Nineteen days before it marks a decade since the end of the civil war between Sinhalese and Tamils, Sri Lanka is again in turmoil following a co-ordinated series of bombings by Islamic terrorists on Easter Sunday, nine days ago.

The Sri Lankan authorities appear to have become quite lackadaisical in their attitude towards security on the island, given that so many people could be killed in what appears to be a well-organised bombing campaign with simultaneous blasts in different parts of the country, all aimed at Christians celebrating Easter.
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Kashmir is a problem that will never be solved

Kashmir has been a flashpoint in Indo-Pakistan relations since the two countries were formed in 1947 and was recently in the news, when a terrorist from Pakistan killed 40 members of the Indian Central Police Force.

The two countries are both nuclear powers and apparently had to be pulled back from the brink by the Americans for a second time, the first being in 1999.

There is a great deal of misinformation around the Kashmir issue and that’s why this piece is written, more for my own remembrance than anything else. If you keep hearing lies and have no chance to hear the truth, one tends to believe the lie.
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Three weeks on, Pell supporters retain their blinkers

“It is a capital mistake to theorise without data.” Sherlock Holmes, the creation of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and still the most famous detective of fiction.

It is not surprising that nearly 20 days after after the verdict on Cardinal George Pell was announced, the Australian lobbyist Gerard Henderson keeps trying to cast doubt on the verdict. Henderson is a staunch defender of the Catholic Church and one who thinks he knows all about journalism – even though he is just a lobbyist who rallies to causes on the right of politics.

Henderson runs an organisation known as The Sydney Institute which he characterises as “a privately funded not-for-profit current affairs forum encouraging debate and discussion”. Two of the companies that supply those funds are the airline Qantas and the telco Telstra. There are other organisations that fund Henderson’s war against the left too.
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Did Pell ever consider what Jesus said about children?

“If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.” The gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 6.

In December 2018, a jury found Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official in Australia and the third most senior official at the Vatican. guilty of sexual abuse of minors. The judgement was suppressed until February 26 as a second case against Pell had to heard and the judge felt that announcing the guilty verdict could influence the direction of the second case.

But given that Pell is a globally known individual, numerous foreign newspapers reported the verdict right away as they were not in any way bound by an Australian suppression order. Some Australian newspapers carried big headlines to the effect that a big story was being suppressed; many of these publications now face sanctions from the judge.
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Twenty-five years after Oslo, there is nothing to show for it

Thursday, September 13, marked 25 years since Israel took the (then) radical step of recognising the Palestine Liberation Organisation in a Norway-brokered deal that many thought would ultimately lead to a two-state solution in the Middle East and bring an end to one of the most bitter feuds between nations.

Alas, it was not to be. Twenty-five years on, what remains of land that could have been a Palestinian homeland is bantustans, and things seem to be going from bad to worse. With the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it is now inconceivable that Tel Aviv will ever countenance giving up part of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

It brings back memories for me, as it was the biggest news event that I have managed in nearly 40 years as a journalist in three countries. In 1993, I was deputy chief sub-editor at the Khaleej Times in Dubai, and that September I was producing the daily editions as the chief sub-editor, my good mate T.K. Achuthan, was on leave.
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Abbott ratchets up the fear factor to boost poll standings

When a prime minister has discovered that only one tactic — ratcheting up the fear factor — helps to boost his poll numbers, and his poll standing is desperately low, what does he do?

Tony Abbott has made a profession of demonising asylum-seekers and Muslims and pretending that the world faces an existential threat from the terrorist Islamic State group.

In recent times Abbott has gone back to similar tactics. First, he engineered a “request” from the US, for Australia to join in air strikes on Syria.
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Back to the good old Mubarak days in Egypt

SO Egypt’s mild flirtation with democracy a la West is over. And it is unlikely to ever return. It’s happened on a good day too – the US celebrates its independence day and Egypt celebrates military rule. What a coincidence!!!

The problem is that the West wants its own systems imposed on other countries – in order to benefit economically. The idea that one cannot bring in a Westminster system and superimpose it on a different model does not really register with people at the US state department.

Mohammed Mursi is from the Muslim Brotherhood. He may be less extreme in his thinking than others in the same movement. But, obviously, he has never been a candidate of choice for the folk in Washington.
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Australia: Muslims not welcome here

THE brilliant American comedian Dave Chappelle often refers to himself as a connoisseur of racism. A keen observer of the way in which people of colour are discriminated against in the US, Chappelle is quick to use his observations in his stand-up routines.

He would certainly find plenty of material in Australia. The rich vein of racism that flows through the country is for the most part unnoticed. It is considered normal, a part of everyday life. But from time to time, we are reassured that when it comes to racism, Australia is in the front ranks.

A day back, Australia’s first Muslim member of federal parliament, Ed Husic, was promoted to the front bench. He, naturally, took his oath of office on the book of his faith, the Quran. Only a rank idiot would expect him to swear on the Bible, or the Gita or the Torah, given that these texts have no significance to him.
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Evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka

BRITAIN’S Channel 4 television screened a remarkable programme on Tuesday, the 14th of June, one that nobody would expect to see in a Western country.

Graphic evidence of war crimes by the Sri Lankan military and the militant group, the Tamil Tigers, during the war that led to the elimination of the Tigers in 2008-09, was screened from 11.05pm in a programme titled Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields. (The programme is also available on YouTube; just search for “Sri Lanka killing fields”.)

The programme is not for the squeamish or those who cannot bear to see what actually happens in a war. This was a war fought between sides which were not equal – as the programme shows the military had heavy hardware and was prepared to use it. All Tamils were treated as terrorists and they were fair game. Indeed, the military gathered them together in so-called no-fire zones and then killed them.

Hospitals were shelled despite the fact that their coordinates had been provided to both sides of the conflict by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Children, old women, the feeble, the sick, pregnant women, aged men – they all served as cannon fodder for the bloodthirsty Sri Lankan military.

The government had given the military carte blanche as far as the war was concerned; they did not have go fight with one arm tied behind them. This led, in the end, to soldiers killing civilians in cold blood and collecting video footage as grotesque war souvenirs. Women were raped and then killed. Half-dead corpses were thrown around like sacks of potatoes.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon visited some of the government camps where those Tamil civilians who survived were interned. He stayed a few minutes and then moved on. In April, the UN produced a damning report wherein it cited plenty of evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by both the government and the Tigers. Ban Ki-moon has refused to act on that report – he says he has no authority to do so. Doubtless, he is also conscious of the fact that with the end of his term looming, his chances of re-election will depend on having China on-side. Beijing has been Sri Lanka’s ally during the war and after; weapons were supplied to Colombo and in return a $2 billion contract to build a port and naval base in the Hambantota district, from where the president, Mahinda Rajapakse hails, went China’s way.

China, of course, is not the only country to help Sri Lanka in this manner. Israel supplied Kfir fighter jets and India provided intelligence to help Colombo destroy Tiger re-supply craft which were being used to replenish the militants’ weapons stocks. In their time of need, the Tigers found no country willing to help.

Now it remains to be seen whether there will be any action by the so-called international community. My guess is that nothing will happen. The US has shown no interest in speaking out about the atrocities and if it stays silent, every other country will hold its peace.

But unless justice is seen to be done, the situation will continue to simmer. Tamils will leave Sri Lanka in increasing numbers but there will be anger and hurt in the community which will resurface some time or the other. By going after the Tigers and ending the 26-year insurrection, the Sri Lankan government has, metaphorically speaking, sown the wind. They may well end up reaping the whirlwind.

The West wants one thing in Libya: stability aka regular oil supplies

LIBYA is in turmoil and it looks like the forces of the madman Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are slowly retaking city by city from those who rose up in protest against a despot.

For more than 40 years, Gaddafi has done what he liked with the oil income from one of the world’s major producers. Nobody was bothered about democracy or any damn ‘cracy for that matter as long as the spigots were open, the oil was flowing and Westerners could line up at the bowser and fill their tanks with cheap oil.

Now that equilibrium has been disturbed, Oil prices are up – though undoubtedly a good deal of the price rise is due to speculation in the US. Americans will not act on this though; they prefer to blame external factors. It is much more convenient to look at the mote in someone else’s eye than the beam in one’s own eye.

By the time there is any movement on a no-fly zone to protect civilians who are trying to take their county back, it will be too late. Gaddafi will be back on his throne, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people will be lying in the streets and the oil prices in Britain will be back to what they were before the Libyans started their quest for freedom.

But then why did anyone expect anything different? In 1991, encouraged by the US which had just finished the job of driving Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, the people of Iraq started agitating against Saddam Hussein. George the senior encouraged them to rise up. He was riding a wave at that point, and could afford to indulge in bluster about democracy and freedom.

But midway through the protests, George developed cold feet. The US has always had a morbid fear of Iranian fundamentalists controlling any part of the oil-rich Middle East apart from their own little patch of sand after 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and Ayaltollah Ruhollah Khomeini took over.

The strictures on Saddam Hussein flying his own helicopters, put in place by the US in order to prevent him from killing Iraqi civilians, were promptly withdrawn; the old man indulged in the most savage butchery of his own people and regained power. Most importantly, oil supplies regained their old levels and Americans could drive to the bowser and fill up at near normal prices.

Thus, any changes in Libya will be governed by just the one factor – stability. It doesn’t matter how many Libyans die. They are just, to quote Donald “rummy” Rumsfeld, just collateral.

In the rest of the Persian Gulf and the Mideast the same reasoning will be used. Bahrain is the home of the US Fifth Fleet – does one really think that the Americans want to go looking for a new home for those massive ships? Think again.

Perhaps the only country in which the Americans will encourage protesters to continue their activities will be Iran. And that is because of the perceived nuclear threat from Teheran. But there too, any dictator who will agree to submit the nuclear programme for inspection will be acceptable. Oh, and he (it is always a male in Iran) must agree to open the oil spigots as well…