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விவசாயி விக்

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    இயற்கை விவசாயம், இயற்கை உணவு தயாரிப்பு, சமையல்
  1. Trouble brews in post-election Sri Lanka The hardline approach of the new president and a failed reconciliation process threaten to stir ethnic tensions. 4 minutes ago Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gestures while addressing the nation at the presidential swearing-in ceremony in Anuradhapura on November 18, 2019 [File: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters] Two weeks after the election of hardliner Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka, the prospects for justice and reconciliation between the different communities on the island lie in tatters. The victory of Gota, as he is commonly known, sent shockwaves across the Tamil-dominated northeast - where memories of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa's brutal presidency, marked by mass atrocities and enforced disappearances, remain fresh. Gota, who served as defence secretary between 2005 and 2015, stands accused of war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's civil war (1983-2009). The Tamil community were hoping for a victory of Sajith Premadasa, the deputy leader of the United National Party (UNP), who was seen by Tamils as the "lesser evil". While Premadasa also adopted nationalist rhetoric during his campaign, vowing to protect military chief Shavendra Silva from war crimes accusations and pledging to give prominence to Buddhism, minorities were terrified at the prospect of a return to the brutal authoritarianism of the Rajapaksas. Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims went to the polls in large numbers, with the vast majority of the northeastern vote going to Premadasa. But it was not enough for his victory. His opponent, Gota, swept the Sinhala south, winning the election with a whopping majority. After the vote, members of the Sinhalese majority levelled accusations of disloyalty and separatism against Tamils - once again exposing the deep fault lines running between the two major ethnic groups on the island. The faint hopes for justice and reconciliation during the term of Gota's predecessor, Maithripala Sirisena, encouraged by over-enthusiastic Western governments and a Colombo-based elite, disconnected from ground realities and preoccupied with promoting superficial processes, are now gone. Sri Lanka is slipping back into chauvinistic politics which threatens to destabilise the country. Rising fears The new president wasted no time reaffirming his "strongman" credentials, immediately rallying his Sinhala Buddhist base after the election. In his inaugural speech on November 18, he pledged to lead the government based on "Buddhist philosophy" and to support the Sinhalese culture and Buddhist heritage and highlighted his role in the civil war. The inauguration ceremony was held at a Buddhist temple in the northern city of Anuradhapura built by Sinhala ruler Dutugamunu, who defeated the Tamil Chola King Ellalan and united the entire island under Sinhala rule. Gota also moved against those he saw as a threat to his government. He imposed a travel ban on police officers involved in investigations of alleged crimes perpetrated by his family after one of them fled the country to Switzerland after the election. Following his escape, an employee of the Swiss visa section was detained and questioned, a worrying development which could endanger the work of foreign embassies on the island. Tamil and Sinhala media have also faced increasing pressure since the vote. Several journalists were forced to hand their computers to the police over unsubstantiated accusations of spreading hate speech. Tamil activists have ramped up their security protocols and some are reconsidering their continued presence in the country. Self-censorship has become the norm once again. Meanwhile, hate speech, particularly against Tamils, has exploded on social media, with no action taken against those posting. In the centre of the country, Tamils were attacked by Sinhalese, who accused them of voting against Gota. It is quite clear that under the new president, Sri Lanka will continue to embrace the persistent chauvinism that has dominated its political scene since independence from Britain in 1948. The main idea behind it is that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country and those of different faith or ethnicity migrated from elsewhere and are not part of the native population of the island. Today, the Sri Lankan constitution gives Sinhala Buddhism primacy, guaranteeing it the "foremost place" and entrusting the state with protecting and fostering it. State institutions, the military and the economy are also dominated by a Sinhala supremacist ethos. Meanwhile, those perceived as "outsiders" - Tamils, Tamil-speaking Muslims, Christians and others - are expected to submit to Sinhala Buddhist primacy on the island and relent to being treated as subordinate. Any resistance to their inferior status is seen as a threat to Sinhala Buddhist supremacy in Sri Lanka and viciously attacked by the majority. A defiant Tamil community It was against this chauvinism of the Sinhalese majority that the Tamils rose in rebellion in the 20th century. The long-running war for Tamil self-rule culminated in the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009. A yet unknown number of Tamil civilians died in the final months of the war. The United Nations says there could have been more than 70,000 deaths during this time, while some activists say the figure is closer to 140,000. Calls for justice for repeated atrocities committed against Tamils by the state have fallen on deaf ears. Nevertheless, families of the forcefully disappeared during the conflict continue to raise their voices, defying a state that denies that crimes were committed against the Tamil community. Gota's victory is seen as a major setback by Tamils, but has not discouraged them. Ten days after his inauguration, Tamils turned out in droves to commemorate Maaveerar Naal, the Tamil National Remembrance Day, in moving ceremonies at multiple locations across the northeast. This, despite harassment by local authorities, arrests of a number of individuals involved in preparations for the commemoration and fears of a crackdown. Every main Tamil newspaper on the island covered the day on their front pages, sometimes with emotional tributes. In Kilinochchi, the former administrative capital of the Tamil Eelam administration, thousands took part in a ceremony, laying flowers and lighting torches at a burial ground for LTTE fighters destroyed by the army. Amid tears and wailing by those mourning the dead, songs were played promising the establishment of Tamil Eelam, as the crowd sang along. The defiance was palpable. As I joined families filing past the fragments of headstones, one man, whose sister was an LTTE fighter, killed in the fighting, told me, "We will not forget and our children won't forget. For as long as we exist as a people, the struggle for freedom from oppression will continue." Ten years after the end of the LTTE, the resistance to the state continues to define the politics of Tamils. A bleak future When Sirisena of the opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015, Sri Lanka was prematurely hailed as a success story, as the United States and the European Union swiftly re-engaged with the government, restarting trade and military cooperation, which had suffered severely under the first Rajapaksa reign. While the then-government made a plethora of pledges to enact political reforms and establish an accountability mechanism, it failed to act on them. The enthusiastic coddling of Sri Lanka by the international community post-2015 undermined the urgency for progress, by removing the pressure brought about by international criticism, which had made Sri Lanka commit to those pledges in the first place. The openness of the last five years under the internationally supported but shaky UNP-SLFP government is seen by many Tamils as an abnormality. Repression has been the norm in Sri Lanka and Gota's victory is a return to that norm. The events of November once again revealed the fundamental problem of the country and its nation-building project. The Sri Lankan political system has failed to give minority communities proper representation, while the state continues to promote an exclusionary national identity. Gota has reiterated that he will not focus on political grievances, instead putting his efforts into the development of Tamil regions. This will not appease the Tamils. Without a fundamental rethinking of the Sri Lankan state, national identity and the foremost place given to Sinhala Buddhism, the conflict that has plagued this island since independence will continue to fester. While there is no appetite among Tamils for a renewed war, the unfettered Sinhala Buddhist nationalist agenda touted by Gota, expected to include renewed efforts to change the demographic makeup of the northeast, will fuel ethnic conflict and division. As this government has made it abundantly clear that it will not initiate the necessary reforms to accommodate minorities, the international community must condition its engagement with Sri Lanka on progress on justice and political devolution. Without these political changes, Sri Lanka will remain a failed nation and a divided island. Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the positions Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa have occupied. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.
  2. How BBC star Jimmy Savile allegedly got away with abusing 500 children and sex with dead bodies Terrence McCoy Jimmy Savile with some of the children who took part in his series of ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ on BBC television in 1974. (Evening Standard/Getty Images) Jimmy Savile was never a handsome man. His face, even in his early days at the BBC, was all sharp edges — the hook of his nose, the jagged-tooth grin, the boggle-eyed look of eccentricity, humor and derangement. At times, he seemed almost make believe. He had platinum hair. A fat cigar perpetually hung out of his mouth. He seemed to communicate exclusively in catchphrases: “now then, now then,” “howzabout that then,” “as it ‘appens.” The kids just loved his gags. There was always something off about Savile, who hosted the BBC’s “Jim’ll Fix it,” palled around with the royal family, reportedly spent holidays with the Thatchers and was knighted not only by Queen Elizabeth but by Pope John Paul II. But most forgave his idiosyncratic nature. He was, after all, a great man. He raised $5.2 million for a hospital in Leeds, one of the United Kingdom’s largest. He volunteered countless hours as a hospital aide, busing patients to and fro. He helpedscores of young doctors get their starts. Sure, there were rumors. Whispers that he wasn’t everything he seemed. Murmurs he was really a sexual predator and had abused dozens of children. But they never stuck. Not Jimmy Savile, people told themselves — not “fix-it Jim.” On October 29, 2011, Savile died at his home in Leeds. “Most of all, I remember him as just a totally flamboyant, over-the-top, larger-than-life character,” radio presenter David Hamilton told the Guardian, praising his “tireless” philanthropy. “And as he was on the air, he was just the same off.” But he wasn’t. And just how wrong that assessment was emerged this month. Savile, according to a U.K. National Health Service investigation released Thursday, was a prolific pedophile. The health service investigation only confirmed behavior described in several earlier probes since his death. In all, Savile is believed to have abused at least 500 girls and boys, some as young as two, most between 13 and 15, as well as countless adults ranging up to 75 years old. With unfettered access to Leeds General Infirmary, the health service report said, he raped and fondled boys, girls, men and women in offices and corridors. He also allegedly committed sexual acts on dead bodies, and even told several hospital workers that he made jewelry out of one man’s glass eyeball. As shocking as the findings are, even more shocking is the fact that Savile got away with it for so long. That realization has “shaken our country to the core,” U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday. For decades, while Savile hosted show after show and glad-handed, the abuse went on. Numerous columns have asked: How? How did no one know? Why wasn’t he stopped? The answer, according to the National Health Service, psychologists, and academics, lies in the pervasive and intimidating power of celebrity. He was so well-known that even when his behavior struck some as strange or lewd, he was allowed to carry on because he was Jimmy Savile and was raising millions. “I don’t know if he were a law unto himself, but because of his celebrity status, he sort of basically had the run of the place,” one hospital worker told investigators. One woman recalled Savile sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Even decades later, she told investigators, she remembered it vividly. After he was done, he turned an imperial eye to her. “You won’t talk about this,” he told her. “Nobody will believe you. I’m Jimmy Savile. I can get you.” The girl said she told her mother, but she didn’t believe her. The girl never talked about it again. Savile, wrote Ian Robertson, a professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin, had a “super-sense of being able to sniff out the most psychologically vulnerable who would either not tell or not be believed. … Here we have an associate of the highest echelons of British society. This halo likely acted like a protective force-field around him, not because of any collusion by any of the elite necessarily, but simply because of his repeated association with their own super-status.” In 1960, when Savile was 34, he arrived at Leeds General Infirmary to begin a relationship with the sprawling institution that would last five decades. At first, he mostly dealt in fundraising. But in 1968, he had an unusual request: He wanted to become a “porter” and bus patients. “When Mr. Savile offered his services as a voluntary porter I was a little concerned about the press implications and how he would fit into a busy teaching hospital,” a hospital director later said. “My concern was wholly unfounded and he has done an extremely good job and is accepted by all sections of the staff.” Soon Savile, who described himself as the “chief cheerer-upper” and wore and a “distinctive white coat” embroidered with his name, ingratiated himself. He assumed a greater collection of privileges that included his own parking space and nearly limitless range of the facilities. He frequently parked his camper van overnight at the hospital, and workers would dispatch 8 a.m. coffee to its door. Jimmy Savile visiting the patients and staff of Leeds General Infirmary in Leeds, England, in 1972. (AP/PA) That power dampened some suspicion — but not all. When one woman “went to shake his hand … he took my hand and kissed me on the back of my hand then sort of multiple kisses going up my arm towards my shoulder,” she told investigators. “I didn’t feel confident enough to say, particularly because he was famous, to say, ‘That’s inappropriate.'” Then, in a flash, Savile would revert back to his television persona. His behavior — mania, dissociation with his victims, split personalities — evinces something psychologists call a “dark triad of personality characteristics.” Psychologist Oliver James wrote that Savile was likely afflicted with psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. “Such people often are able to slide effortlessly between personas. … Savile must have had a fantastical inner life — grandiose, wild and desperate.” But for the most part, that’s where it stayed: on the inside. And that obfuscation is what perhaps perpetuated the reported abuse. In a New Yorker piece on Jerry Sandusky, entitled “In Plain View: How child molesters get away with it,” Malcolm Gladwell said the most prolific pedophile is rarely the “disheveled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers.” Rather, pedophiles can be agreeable members of the community. “People didn’t believe that [he] was a pedophile because people liked [him] — without realizing that [he] was in the business of being likeable.” And few in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s were more liked than Jimmy Savile. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/27/how-bbc-star-jimmy-savile-got-away-with-allegedely-abusing-500-children-and-sex-with-dead-bodies/
  3. Sri Lanka bans re-export of minor export crops to protect local farmers Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 10:19 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka. Dec 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Ministry of Finance has banned the importation of spices and minor crops from midnight Thursday (05) to protect the local farmers. As a measure to protect small export crops growers and small and medium scale industrialists, the importation of several commodities is restricted through two gazetted notifications with effect from midnight Thursday (Dec 05) on the orders of the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Minister of Finance, Economic and Policy Development, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. Accordingly, the importation of black pepper, dried areca nut, tamarind, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, ginger and cloves has been banned while the gazette notifications issued under Commercial Hub Regulations in the Finance Act, Direct Re-export and Import of spices for the purpose of re-export after minor processing are prohibited. The purpose of the ban is to protect and encourage small export crop growers and small and medium scale industrialists. Farmers who cultivate agro products in about 9 districts will benefit from the ban. A second gazette notification issued in accordance with the Regulation of the Import and Export Control Act has taken steps to regulate the importation of products of highly competitive domestic industries of higher quality such as Wesak lanterns, kites and incense sticks Furthermore, any project related to garbage and garbage processing and recycling for the purpose of reshipment or re-export will not be permitted. . However, there is no prohibition on domestic projects on recycling. This restriction will prevent the mixing of low quality imported ingredients with high quality local ingredients and re-exporting. The Prime Minister, as the Minister of Finance, has taken this step to prevent the damage to Sri Lanka's reputation as an export brand due to substandard re-exports. http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19B/Dec06_1575607764CH.php
  4. ACMC leader Bathiudeen requests President to probe alleged Wilpattu deforestation, Easter Sunday attacks Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 10:49 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka. Dec 06, Colombo: Leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen has called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appoint Presidential commissions to investigate the Easter Sunday attacks and the alleged destruction of the Wilpattu National park. In a letter to President Rajapaksa, MP Bathiudeen said certain groups using various media outlets are engaged in leveling "baseless and unfounded allegations" against him for narrow political gains and to fan "communal flames". "Among the most prominent false allegations aimed at me were clearing the Wilpattu Forest Reserve to settle Muslim refugees and maintaining links with Easter Sunday bombing terrorist Sahran," the MP said. He said the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to investigate Easter Sunday Attacks cleared him of any wrongdoing with regard to the Easter Sunday attacks. Regarding the Wilpattu issue, MP Bathiudeen pointed out that the original lands where the refugees lived had turned into forests after abandoning the lands for 30 years and the lands were declared as Forest Reserves by the Forest Department. However, the Task Force appointed by the then President Mahinda Rajapakse managed to identify original Muslim owned lands that later became jungles and methodically and legally took action to resettle them in such lands. The MP said despite the clarifications, some groups continue to level allegations causing problems and urged the President to take necessary action to appoint an independent Presidential Commission to investigate and uncover the truth behind these false allegations and also to identify individuals responsible for destruction of Wilpattu forest. Following is the full text of the MP Bathiudeen's letter to the President: Appointment of a Presidential Commission to Investigate Allegations on Wilpattu National Forest Reserve and Easter Sunday Terrorist Bombings I, with the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and its supporters, wish to sincerely congratulate Your Excellency on the achievement of being elected as the seventh Executive President of Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka. However, it is with deep disappointment and sorrow that I inform Your Excellency that certain groups of Sri Lankans are actively engaged in fanning communal flames and working for narrow political gains by leveling baseless and unfounded allegations against me - a leader of a recognized political party in Sri Lanka - among the general public using various electronic, print and social media outlets. These groups were actively engaged in making such allegations against me when I was a Cabinet Minister in the previous government as well. Among the most prominent false allegations aimed at me were clearing the Wilpattu Forest Reserve to settle Muslim refugees and maintaining links with Easter Sunday bombing terrorist Sahran. I wish to stress that these allegations too were baseless and unfounded, imaginary and false and are fabricated for narrow political gains. Further, the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to investigate me - among others - on allegations that I maintained links with Easter Sunday bombers too cleared me of any wrongdoing after learning that Police and the former Inspector General of Police�s report for the Speaker, had already cleared my name from such allegations. However, these offending groups continue to re-enact these false allegations on me by wrongfully, repeatedly and freshly making the same accusations against me in the local mass media, thereby continuing to publicly harass and push me and my community towards a very unpleasant situation. I wish to stress that they are clearly attempting to destabilize our country by creating dissension on the lines of ethnicity, religion, and caste by their acts. Further I wish to clearly stress and also call for Your Excellency�s special attention to the fact that I had not destroyed any parts of Wilpattu Forest Reserve by abusing my powers. In 2009, the Muslim refugees displaced in 1990 received the opportunity to re-settle in their original lands and I am most appreciative and thankful to Your Excellency for your valuable support extended to those displaced Muslims and giving them the opportunity. The original lands where the refugees lived, being abandoned for thirty years, had turned to become forests. Thereafter these forest lands too were named as Forest Reserves by the Forest Department. However, understanding the reality of this natural change, the Task Force appointed by the then HE President Mahinda Rajapakse managed to identify original Muslim owned lands that later became jungles and methodically and legally took action to resettle them in such lands. Through many public discourses, fora, discussions, and analyses the truth about Wilpattu was, revealed with environmentalists too agreeing on the facts. Despite such, baseless allegations continue to be leveled against this incident and I kindly urge Your Excellency to take necessary action to appoint an independent Presidential Commission to investigate and uncover the truth behind these false allegations and also to identify individuals responsible for destruction of Wilpattu, which is an invaluable resource that Sri Lanka has. Further, even though all official investigations clearly proved that there had not been any links between me and the heinous terrorists behind the Easter Sunday bombings, I wish to sincerely urge Your Excellency that should another investigation is required on these attacks, then to kindly set up a special Presidential Commission and commence a special investigation as well. http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19B/Dec06_1575609581CH.php
  5. Crisis of Aboriginal women in prison in Australia Aboriginal women are the largest cohort of prisoners in Australia, despite making up only 2 percent of the population. Ali MC2 Dec 2019 Vickie Roach says imprisonment disproportionately targets Aboriginal women, who are already disadvantaged in society [Sylvia Liber/Al Jazeera] Melbourne, Australia - Vickie Roach was 12 the first time she was imprisoned. Forty-eight years ago, in the early 1970s, she was arrested after running away from abusive foster homes and institutions. "The morning after you arrive, you have to go see the doctor. They would examine you to see if you were pregnant or had STDs. And if you weren't cooperative they would hold you down and do it," said Roach, now 60. For a young girl who had been sexually abused, this procedure was "traumatic". But her contact with the criminal justice system in Australia began even earlier - when she was two. Then, she was removed from her mother as part of the Stolen Generations, an era when Aboriginal children were taken from their families in order to be raised by white people in foster homes and institutions. Under the law at the time, any child removed from their family first had to be charged with an offence. As such, many Aboriginal children like Roach had criminal records almost from birth. "Any contact with the criminal justice system pretty much ensures continued contact with them," she said. She has survived heroin addiction, domestic violence, sexual abuse and repeated stints in jail. Aboriginal women in Australia represent the largest cohort of prisoners in the country, comprising approximately 34 percent of the total number of female prisoners, despite making up only 2 percent of Australia's total population. They also represent the fastest-growing prison population. Since a Royal Commission aiming to reduce the number of imprisoned Aboriginal people was conducted in 1991, the population of Aboriginal women in prison has risen by 148 percent. About 80 percent of these women are mothers, most are on remand, and few have committed any serious crime. Instead, as Roach explained, drug addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, child removal and abuse are often the untreated social conditions that lead to incarceration. For many of these women, contact with the criminal justice system began at an early age, after being removed from their Aboriginal families and placed into the child welfare system. "Being involved with the child welfare department, minor issues in a normal family would have been dealt with at home [by] mum and dad," Roach said. "But I'd often be fed into the child welfare system - they'd be the ones to discipline me." This would result in further criminal charges and a stint in juvenile detention. Yet the causes of her experience had begun the previous generation. Roach's mother had also been removed from her Aboriginal family and raised in an institution. "Mum didn't really know how to be a family because she had never been parented." After being taken from her mother, Roach would not see her again until she was 13, by which stage, "the connection was broken". At one point, Roach even lived in the same institution as her mother had the generation before. "Mum came to visit me [once] and it was the home that she was in. And I didn't know it was the home she was in. It was pretty shocking for her." As a young adult, Roach spiralled into heroin use and prostitution and would become a victim of domestic violence. In prison, her problems grew. Naomi Murphy has also experienced the negative cycle of the criminal justice system. She accrued a minor criminal record as a young woman, including the charge of theft of a motor vehicle which she says was stolen by her then-boyfriend; Naomi simply happened to be riding in it. Yet despite getting herself on the right side of the law later in life, her criminal record would come back to haunt her, impacting her ability to get a job. "There's still things that sit on my record from 1992 - theft of a motor car and evading a train ticket," she told Al Jazeera. She now works for a community legal project called Woor-Dungin, which advocates to have criminal records of 10 years or more expunged so that Aboriginal people can move on with their lives. The project addresses one of the biggest barriers - employment. "Aboriginal women are the main carers of the children - if we can't get jobs how are we supposed to feed the kids?" Antoinette Braybrook, head of Djirra, a Melbourne-based organisation that works with Aboriginal women who have experienced family violence, said: "Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women inside are in for non-violent offences related to homelessness and poverty. "Laws around unpaid fines, public drunkenness, or unfair bail laws in Victoria, are known to disproportionately impact Aboriginal women. We advocate for the immediate abolition of those unfair laws." She said prisons are not safe spaces for Aboriginal women. Ironically, however, a new wing recently built in Melbourne's maximum-security women's prison, has been named Winja Gunya, an indigenous phrase for "safe camp for women". Antoinette said: "The only safe space for our women is to be in their home, with their family and in their community, free from violence. It's by addressing underlying issues like family violence, poverty and homelessness that we are going to keep our women safe. Governments need to invest in specialist culturally safe services like Djirra, not expand prisons." 'Custody is one of the least safe places we can be' Aboriginal women are already severely disadvantaged in society. They are 32 timesmore likely than non-indigenous women to be hospitalised due to domestic violence, and one in four women seeking help for homelessness are Aboriginal. Even today, Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to be removed from their families and placed into child welfare, often due to mothers being in prison. "They [government decision-makers] think the health care's good. They think the food is good. They think we are going to have a bed. That these things get us away from an abusive partner, and get us away from drugs. If we're homeless, that when we get arrested we are going to have a bed for the night," said Roach. "For Aboriginal women, being in custody is one of the least safe places we can be." Since her last stint in prison, which ended in 2008, Roach has gained a master’s degree and is now an advocate for Aboriginal women. Women, she said, should be supported instead of being thrown in jail. Yet, despite the recent custodial deaths of two Aboriginal women - Ms Dhu, who was imprisoned for unpaid fines, and Tanya Day,arrested while drunk on a train - activists do not expect the system to change. Governments across the country heavily investing in the prison system. A recent report demonstrated that the cost of imprisoning Indigenous people in Australia was eight billion Australian dollars ($5.5bn) a year, with this cost set to hit 20 billion Australian dollars ($13.8bn) a year by 2040, should the current rates of incarceration continue to increase. "We need to stop criminalising people and locking them up in places that dehumanises them," said Roach. "We are all demeaned and belittled by the way we treat people in prison." https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/crisis-aboriginal-women-prison-australia-191105183142685.html
  6. Sri Lankan official fined over throat-slitting gestures in London Brig Priyanka Fernando convicted of public order offences in private prosecution Diane TaylorFri 6 Dec 2019 16.00 GMT A senior member of the Sri Lankan military has been convicted of public order offences in London and fined thousands of pounds after a court ruled he was not protected by diplomatic immunity. Brig Priyanka Fernando was filmed making throat-slitting gestures towards Tamil protesters outside the Sri Lankan high commission in London on 4 February 2018. The demonstrators were highlighting concerns about human rights violations against Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. Footage of the incident went viral. The Sri Lankan government condemned Fernando for behaving in an “offensive manner” and suspended him from his job, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) protested over his actions. Fernando left the UK shortly afterwards. Westminster magistrates court heard on Friday that he was understood to still be employed by the Sri Lankan state. Three Tamils who have refugee status in the UK brought a private prosecution against Fernando. Majuran Sathananthan, Palliya Perera and Gokulakrishnan Narayanasamy, who were all involved in the protest, argued Fernando’s behaviour caused them harassment, alarm and distress. The court found Fernando guilty and ordered him to pay more than £4,000 in fines, costs and compensation. The chief magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, said: “My view is that his actions were really rather disreputable. I gather he was recalled to Sri Lanka, one hopes in disgrace to some extent. His body language appeared to be arrogant and intimidating. He must have known it would be alarming at the very least.” The case could be of note to the family of Harry Dunn, who was killed in a collision involving a US official’s wife, who claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the UK. The FCO was involved in the case and provided information to the court about Fernando’s diplomatic status in the UK at the time of the incident. Paul Heron of the Public Interest Law Centre, who represented the three Tamils, said: “The case has significant implications for the issue of diplomatic immunity. It may be worth the family of Harry Dunn investigating whether they could bring a private prosecution against Anne Sacoolas and prosecute her in her absence.” During Sri Lanka’s civil war, Fernando was a senior officer in the army’s 59 division. The UN has accused the unit of involvement in war crimes in the final stages of the conflict. At least 40,000 Tamils are estimated to have died in the war. The Sri Lankan high commission has been approached for comment. Since you’re here... … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. Unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart. Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power. We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/dec/06/sri-lankan-official-fined-over-throat-slitting-gestures-in-london
  7. ‘Vanni’: A devastating graphic novel about two Sri Lankan Tamil families torn by war The 260-page novel by London-based author Dr Benjamin Dix and illustrator Lindsay Pollock is on the Sri Lankan conflict, focused on the 2009 genocide. Anjana Shekar Wednesday, December 04, 2019 - 18:27 Share @Whatsapp Share @Facebook Share @twitter Share When Art Spiegelman came out with Maus during the 1980s, his work was considered revolutionary, ground-breaking. A graphic novel serialised from 1980 to 1991, Maus is a compilation of Art’s interview with his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Holocaust survivor, and his own journey of coming to terms with his family’s past. Using a similar style, London-based author Dr Benjamin Dix and illustrator Lindsay Pollock have come out with Vanni, a graphic novel on the Sri Lankan conflict, focused on the 2009 genocide. The 260-page novel closely follows two Sri Lankan Tamil families torn by war. For the uninitiated, the book begins with a brief history about the country and its conflicts. The story of Vanni Benjamin, who was working as a photojournalist in Delhi and Mumbai, was 28 years old when he arrived in Vanni, the mainland in the northern province of Sri Lanka, for the first time in 2004. Vanni covers the entirety of Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya districts, and most of Kilinochchi district. During the war, Vanni was part of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) northern stronghold. Benjamin was invited by a friend, who was already working in Vanni, to document relief efforts post the 2004 tsunami. He would then go on stay in Vanni for four years, working as Communications Officer with the Norwegian People’s Aid from 2005 to 2006 and as Communications and Liaison Manager with UNOPS between 2007and 2008. It was during his stay in Vanni, Benjamin writes in the Afterword, that he was inspired to work on a graphic novel. “Whilst spending many hours sitting in a UN bunker in Kilinochchi under air attack from the Sri Lankan Air Force, I read two graphic works: Maus (Art Spiegelman) and Palestine (Joe Sacco) that inspired me to produce something similar about what I was witnessing in Vanni,” he writes. Benjamin Dix When Benjamin had no choice but to evacuate in 2008, he shares that he was heartbroken and angered at the failings and hypocrisy of the UN and the international community. Back in London, coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he was finding ways to channel his negative emotions into something positive. That was when he was put in touch with Lindsay Pollock through a mutual friend, a meeting that would slowly culminate in the finished book almost 7 years later. Vanni tells the story of two families – the Ramachandrans and the Cholagars – through the 2008-2009 battle of Kilinochchi, of unimaginable horrors, at the end of which thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils were killed and the LTTE was forced to surrender. Vanni begins with the devastation of the tsunami of 2004 and from there the story covers the constant displacement, war brutality, hunger and death, told with the help of detailed yet minimal drawings. Illustrating Vanni Lindsay who had not been to Vanni had to be acquainted with the story, its people and the landscapes. The two then made a field trip to Tamil Nadu in 2012 to observe Tamil culture and interview Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Zurich and London were also interviewed for this book. Frances Harrison’s book Still Counting the Dead and Callum Macrae’s documentary No Fire Zone were useful materials in the making of Vanni. The story of Vanni therefore was an amalgamation of many threads of experiences drawn from several interviews the two did over a period of time. And there’s always the question of translating bone-chilling events into illustrations. Lindsay, a self-taught artist with a penchant for illustrating animals and children’s stories, shares that he hoped for the “beguiling, friendly appearance of the art” to draw in the reader. “I wanted them to develop a quick affection for the characters – who have winning smiles and bouncy mannerisms. They are sweet drawings – and in many ways I want it to hurt the reader when brutal things begin to happen to them. Violence should always feel jarring. So I’m clashing terrible violence against relatable and warm aesthetics, to try and emphasise how perverse war and torture are,” he explains. Lindsay Pollock For scenes of torture, rape and killings, Lindsay used recovered footages. “I tried to be plain. Let the twisted nature of torture speak for itself. I just depicted it blankly,” he shares. He refers to an especially brutal and difficult to digest scene involving rape and murder in the book. “I tried my best to show nothing explicit, and instead to break the whole page into fragments, representing the shattering, out-of-body horror of the scene. Whether I succeeded is for the reader, and particularly for survivors of sexual assault, to judge. For me as an artist this was an exceptionally difficult undertaking,” he tells us. The heart-breaking charm of Vanni lies in this: As you flee from one camp to another along with the characters, your eyes flitting from one panel to another, eager to know the fate of each one of them, to know if the children ate, to know if their wounds are healing, to find out if the rains stopped, you pause. You take a deep breath and weep when the woman hurriedly hands over her son to the man while crossing a river, at the sign of imminent danger. You turn away from the black botches on the panel, depicting blood, away to the man who sits near the bank, waiting for someone to come asking for the child. Is it possible to depict this agony on paper and make the reader feel torn? Vanni does just that. Vanni, published by Penguin Random House India, is available at Rs 799. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/vanni-devastating-graphic-novel-about-two-sri-lankan-tamil-families-torn-war-113465
  8. Sri Lankan court blocks Swiss embassy worker from leaving Dec 3, 2019 - 15:49 State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl said Switzerland takes its responsibilities to its staff very seriously (Keystone) A Sri Lankan court has blocked a Swiss embassy employee from leaving the country until she gives a statement to police about allegations that she was abducted and threatened in order to disclose embassy information. Colombo’s chief magistrate issued the order on Tuesday at the request of police. This comes a day after Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Switzerland was summoned to Bern to explain a factual dispute over the incident. The Swiss foreign ministry has complained that a local employee at the Swiss embassy in Colombo was held on the street on November 25 and threatened by unidentified men to force her to disclose “embassy-related information”. The embassy reported the incident to the Sri Lankan authorities, calling for a swift and thorough investigation. On Sunday, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry issued a statement that questioned Switzerland’s presentation of the facts. According to that statement, “the sequence of events and timeline of the alleged incident, as formally presented by the Swiss Mission on behalf of the alleged victim to the CID, did not in any way correspond with the actual movements of the alleged victim on that date, as borne out by witness interviews and technical evidence, including Uber records, CCTV footage, telephone records and the GPS data”. Summoned On Monday State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl summoned to Bern the Sri Lankan ambassador to Switzerland, Karunasena Hettiarachchi, who is based in Berlin. Baeriswyl asked Hettiarachchi to explain the purported evidence that contradicts Switzerland’s version of events. Baeriswyl emphasised to the Sri Lankan ambassador that while Switzerland had no interest in delaying investigations by the Sri Lankan authorities, the foreign ministry takes its responsibilities to its staff very seriously. She added that Switzerland supported measures to investigate and settle the matter by due process of law. However, the employee concerned still cannot be questioned on health grounds, the foreign ministry said in a statement. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/colombo-case_state-secretary-gets-involved-in-sri-lanka-embassy-incident/45408144
  9. India to get its second spaceport, land acquisition work begins in Tamil Nadu Surendra Singh | TNN | Updated: Dec 2, 2019, 5:15 IST NEW DELHI: The work on the country’s second spaceport has started in Tamil Naduas Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up for increased launch activities in coming years. Days after Union minister for department of space Jitendra Singh informed the Rajya Sabha in the current session that “the government has a proposal to set up a rocket launching pad near Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu”, Isro chairman K Sivan confirmed to TOI that the “land acquisition process has started in Tuticorin for the second spacesport”. Major space-faring countries have multiple rocket launch centres. Sivan said the Tuticorin spaceport will “mainly cater to launches of newly developed Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV or mini-PSLV). The initial launches (around two) of the SSLV will be from Sriharikota but once the second spaceport is ready, subsequent SSLV launches will be shifted there”. The Isro chairman also confirmed that the first launch of SSLV with “payload-lifting capability of around 500kg is due in the first quarter of 2020”. He said depending upon demands later, other rockets could also be launched from the proposed spaceport. Listing advantages of the TN spaceport, the Isro chairman told TOI that “straight southward launches will be possible as the launch centre in Tamil Nadu is on the seashore. Because of the straight path, we can carry more payloads. Currently, we can’t launch rockets southwards from Sriharikota (Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh) and all rockets have to fly around Sri Lanka. The rocket trajectory is not straight but has to be manoeuvred around Sri Lanka. That is the reason why we can’t carry more payloads in current launches from Sriharikota.” The TN spaceport will be ideal for putting satellites in the polar orbit through a PSLV and not for GSLV launches to the geostationary orbit. Another advantage of the proposed TN spaceport is that it will be closer to Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri in TN’s Tirunelveli district, which assembles the second and fourth stage engines of PSLV. “Area-wise, the launch centre in Tamil Nadu will be smaller than SHAR,” Sivan said. According to an estimate, the land requirement for the Tuticorin spaceport will be around 2,300 acres whereas Sriharikota is actually an island covering 145 sq km area with a coastal length of 27 km. If the country’s first Thumba equatorial rocket launching station in Kerala is also taken into account, the proposed TN spaceport will ideally be India’s third launch centre. Currently, no big rockets is launched from Thumba. https://m.timesofindia.com/india/india-to-get-its-second-spaceport-land-acquisition-work-begins-in-tamil-nadu/articleshow/72323869.cms
  10. Families of Sri Lanka's missing Tamils still wait Sri Lanka’s civil war ended 10 years ago but there has been little progress in tracing those who disappeared during and after the violent end to the war. About 20,000 people, mostly Tamils, are thought to still be missing. Many believe their relatives are alive and in the hands of the security forces - a view rejected by the government. These families meet and hold daily vigils to protest and to keep their relatives’ memories alive. Many of them now fear the return to power of Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and what it will mean for the future of the country. While supporters hail Gotabaya Rajapaksa for playing a crucial role in crushing the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels and bringing to an end to the civil war when he was defence secretary, opponents fear the return of the dynasty could spark a new crackdown on critics. Mr Rajapaksa denies any wrong doing and both sides have been accused of human rights abuses. The BBC has been to the northern Sri Lankan town of Killinochi to talk to those Tamil families still waiting for answers. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-50635090/sri-lanka-families-waiting-for-news-from-their-children
  11. ஓம் 30 வருசமா அமெரிக்கன் சரக்கு கறிக்கு அரைச்சு கொண்டு காவல். நண்டு விரைவில் சட்டிக்குள்.
  12. Iranian general: Our missiles are aimed at 21 US bases in the region Allahnoor Noorollahi declares the Islamic Republic prepared to fight its ‘greatest enemy,’ recalls Khamenei’s vow to ‘raze’ Tel Aviv By TOI staffToday, 12:00 am An Iranian general has warned that Iran’s missile arsenals are aimed at 21 American military bases in the Middle East and the country is prepared for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.” In a November 29 speech, at an event in the southern city of Bushehr commemorating 40 years since the establishment of the Basij paramilitary force, Gen. Allahnoor Noorollahi also said that Iran had the ability to raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground. Noorollahi serves as a top adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Officers College. His speech was broadcast on Bushehr TV, and was reported on and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up “Iran is the world’s fourth [strongest] missile power after the US, Russia, and China,” he boasted in his comments, which were translated Sunday by the MEMRI watchdog group. Noorollahi claimed the NATO military alliance had purportedly warned that Iran could launch as many as 20,000 missiles per day, but that the number could actually be higher in a future conflict with the United States. A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at an exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating “Sacred Defense Week” marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at Baharestan Square in downtown Tehran, Iran, September 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) “Unfortunately, some Gulf countries have become a military camp for our enemy. I must say this, 21 of their bases constitute targets for our missiles. NATO itself announced that Iran’s 110 missile bases and launching sites are capable of launching 20,000 missiles per day. This is what the enemy says. They only acknowledge part [of our capability]. When a country reveals not only its underground missile bases but also its missile ‘cities’ to the enemy – this reflects readiness and capabilities. “It means that we have capability to confront the greatest enemy,” he added, a reference to the US, which the regime has long characterized as its arch-foe and calls the “Great Satan.” He said America’s regional allies were not Iran’s enemies, and reiterated the claim by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the Islamic Republic was capable of “razing” Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground. “Saudi Arabia and the region’s countries are neither on our level nor are they our enemies. Our enemy is the [country] that came to Kuwait and built six large bases there. This enemy knows that if it transgresses… We do not want to cause harm to our neighbors unless we are forced to,” he said. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, left, the air-defense destroyer HMS Defender and the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut transit the Strait of Hormuz with the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, provided on November 19, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Pearson/US Navy via AP) Noorollahi’s comments came just days after the Revolutionary Guard’s top commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, threatened to destroy Israel, the US and other countries, as he addressed a pro-government demonstration denouncing last month’s violent protests over a fuel price hike. Salami accused the US, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stoking the unrest. “If you cross our red line, we will destroy you,” he said. “We will not leave any move unanswered.” “We have shown restraint … we have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime (Israel), and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Salami added, according to Reuters. In this undated photo released by Sepahnews, the website of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Sepahnews via AP) He said if Iran decides to respond, “the enemy will not have security anywhere,” adding that “our patience has a limit.” Iran has accused the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia of engineering large protests sparked by a 200 percent jump in the price of gasoline. Officials said the demonstrations turned violent because of the intervention of “thugs,” backed by royalists and Iran’s arch-enemies. At a pro-government rally last Monday, which state TV referred to as the “Rise of the people of Tehran against riots,” protesters carried signs bearing traditional anti-US slogans. But speakers also criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s administration for the way the fuel price hike was implemented, even as they called for capital punishment for rioters and further restrictions on social media platforms. Iraqi demonstrators gather as flames start consuming Iran’s consulate in the southern Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf on November 27, 2019, two months into the country’s most serious social crisis in decades. (AFP) During the violence, dozens of banks, gas pumps and police stations were torched across the Islamic Republic. The United Nations said it feared that dozens died, while Amnesty International said more than 100 were believed to have been killed. Iran has been gripped by an economic crisis since the US restored painful sanctions after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal. At a meeting Monday with family members of a security officer who was killed in the violence, Salami vowed that Iran will “take revenge for the security defenders on the US, the UK, Israel and their mercenaries inside Iran,” the official IRNA news agency reported. https://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-general-were-targeting-21-us-bases-in-the-region/
  13. Pakistan informs new Sri Lankan govt of critical situation in Kashmir Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday briefed his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena on the dire situation and human rights crisis in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK), said Foreign office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal. The FO spokesperson said Qureshi told the Sri Lankan foreign minister that the 100-day plus lockdown remains a "cause of serious concern" for the international community. During the meeting the two ministers discussed trade, investment, tourism and people to people contacts. 39 people are talking about this The spokesperson said, "Both countries [are] very keen to further deepen and strengthen the entire gamut of bilateral relations." Speaking to the media after the meeting, Qureshi termed his meeting with the Sri Lankan Foreign minister as "excellent" and extended an invitation to Gunawardena to visit Islamabad. In the video shared by APP, the foreign minister could be seen saying, "I'm fortunate to be the first foreign minister to have visited Colombo since the new government had been elected." Qureshi said that during the meeting the two ministers discussed the ways in which they can take the relations forward, saying, "There is a lot we can do to promote our mutual interest." Foreign Minister Qureshi is on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka and became the first foreign minister to visit the country after its elections. The foreign minister is expected to meet the recently elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/577593-qureshi-briefs-sri-lankan-counterpart-on-human-rights-crisis-in-iok அண்டங்காகம் வடையை களவெடுத்து விட்டது என்று அரிசி காகத்திடம் முறையிடுகிறார்.
  14. Is Sri Lanka witnessing a shift in rainfall patterns? Meera Srinivasan The outcome of their November 16 presidential poll may have given Sri Lankans much to discuss in the fortnight since, but many of them are invariably discussing another topic — the intensity of the recent spells of rain. Even as Sri Lanka’s scheduled northeast monsoon is kicking in, the volume and force of the rainfall over the past week, almost every evening in many parts of the island, have drawn everyone’s attention. Especially so, with the Disaster Management Centre predicting 100-150mm rainfall every day in many parts, including the north and the east that are prone to floods during heavy bouts of rain. In a tropical country like Sri Lanka, it invariably rains at least a few days every month. Whether it is schoolchildren or office-goers, they are seldom deterred by the rain. They brave bad weather with practised ease and go about their daily routine. If the recent heavy spells came as a surprise to some locals, could there be a shift in the pattern of rainfall? “Usually the end of November marks the onset of our second main [north-east] monsoon season. Some parts of the north and the east may be prone to flooding on days with very heavy rainfall, but the season is considered a favourable monsoon,” said Anusha Warnasooriya, Director at the Department of Meteorology. At the same time, the rainfall recorded in August and September was above average, she said. Pointing to global phenomena such as the El Nino, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the La Nina — in which sea-surface temperatures tend to oscillate [rise or fall] depending on certain natural conditions — Ms. Warnasooriya said shifts in rainfall are being observed globally. “Such phenomena could either enhance or reduce our monsoon or inter-monsoon spells in Sri Lanka as well.” Around the same time last year, flash floods wreaked havoc across the northern districts of Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna, affecting tens of thousands of people. In September this year, one person died and nearly 50,000 were affected when several parts of the island’s Southern and Western provinces flooded with up to 200 mm rainfall recorded in certain areas. The instances of floods come two years after Sri Lanka experienced its worst drought in 40 years. In 2017, Sri Lankan farmers’ paddy cultivation took a severe beating, even raising concerns over food security. Of the 8,00,000 hectares of paddy that Sri Lanka had hoped to cultivate that year, about 50% was damaged due to the drought. Over a million people were badly affected in the rice-eating country. While subsequent monsoon brought some relief, the respite was short-lived. Ahead of last year’s northern floods, officials shifted from distributing drought relief to flood relief in a span of few weeks, as they tried addressing one crisis after another. While climate experts are yet to speak of any drastic departure from the usual rainfall patterns, the changes apparent are not insignificant, they say. ‘Being prepared’ Lareef Zubair, principal scientist at the Kandy-based Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (FECT), analysed data on climate captured over more than a century. “Colleagues in other countries and I found that this is the fifth occurrence of the Indian Ocean Dipole in 150 years,” he said. Rather than using “monsoon” and “inter-monsoon” that are commonly used to connote seasons of rainfall in Sri Lanka, Dr. Zubair prefers to go by the Maha (October to March ) and Yala (April to September) agricultural cycles that are linked to rainfall. Much of Sri Lanka receives 50% of its annual rainfall in the three months beginning October. In case of the north and the east, the period from October to December accounts for almost 70% of the rainfall. “We used data to study how the IOD impacts the Maha season and predicted a shift,” he said, referring to a collaborative research publication that he was part of. As of Saturday evening, the Disaster Management Centre’s situation report said as many as five people had died and nearly 1,500 affected in the recent bout of heavy rain. The Centre has also issued a warning to residents, asking them to stay indoors. Given that there is widely shared concern over a potential shift in patterns, are authorities prepared to tackle the changes around harvesting seasons and for water management? “The short answer is that a lot more could be done in terms of preparedness,” Dr. Zubair said. (Meera Srinivasan is The Hindu’s Colombo correspondent) https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/is-sri-lanka-witnessing-a-shift-in-rainfall-patterns/article30124861.ece
  15. "China Will Take Belt And Road All Over Unless...": Sri Lankan President New Delhi: Sri Lanka's new president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said his country will be forced to seek finance from China again if India and western nations do not invest in the island. Rajapaksa told The Hindu newspaper in an interview published on Sunday that other Asian nations would also turn to China's giant Belt and Road infrastructure project without alternative help. Sri Lanka has traditionally been allied to India but became close to China, securing about $7 billion in loans and investment, when Rajapaksa's brother Mahinda was president from 2005 to 2015. "I want to tell India, Japan, Singapore and Australia and other countries to also come and invest in us," said the president, who was in India this weekend on his first foreign trip since winning a presidential election on November 16. "They should tell their companies to invest in Sri Lanka and help us grow, because if they do not, then not only Sri Lanka, but countries all over Asia will have the same (problem). The Chinese will take the Belt and Road initiative all over unless other countries provide an alternative." India has been at the forefront of nations wary of Belt and Road as it may reinforce China's military and strategic clout in the Indian Ocean region. China has allotted hundreds of billions of dollars on the network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks spanning Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. India's foreign and defence ministers held talks with counterparts from Japan on Saturday in a bid to step up military cooperation. Gotabaya Rajapaksa also confirmed that he wants to renegotiate the agreement with China about the strategic Hambantota port south of Colombo that serves the key shipping lanes between Europe and Asia. "I believe that the Sri Lankan government must have control of all strategically important projects like Hambantota," he said in the interview. "The next generation will curse our generation for giving away precious assets otherwise," he said. Sri Lanka was forced to hand the port over to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease after the Sri Lankan government was unable to repay loans taken to build it. India and some Western countries have raised concerns that nations who have taken Chinese loans under the Belt and Road initiative risk falling into a debt trap. Rajapaksa said he was certain India's government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi would move past the apprehensions it had over ties between Sri Lanka and China. "Some of their suspicions were due to our ties with China, but that was a misunderstanding. We had a purely commercial agreement with China," Rajapaksa said. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/china-will-take-belt-and-road-all-over-unless-says-lankan-gotabaya-rajapaksa-president-2141623