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Biden Navigates Treacherous Waters

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Trump’s attempted coup: Neo-fascism’s last warning to all the world

by Kumar David

Cities across the US erupted in joy to celebrate Trump’s defeat but before you open your best Single Malt and launch out on a spell of revelry take a breath and consider the following. Though that pig-headed, oral-peat splurging, loathsome man has been booted out the picture remains murky. He polled the second highest number of votes (72 million) by any US presidential candidate – let that sink in, the second highest ever! He lost because Bidden with 76 million polled higher. He won three big states Texas, Florida and Ohio. A majority hate him but his admirers stay loyal. Let me pour cold water if you imagine America has come in from the cold (sorry, lousy pun). The Democrats despite strenuous efforts did not seize a single state governorship or state legislature from incumbent Republicans. Most states, in a hugely devolved federal system, remain locked in Republican hands. More bad news, the GOP retains a majority in the Senate till two run-offs are decided in Georgia on Jan 5, 2021. Democrats just managed to retain control of the House of Representatives but the upper house is more powerful in Congress (Congress is both Houses together). The Senate can block appointments to Cabinet, other key positions and the Supreme Court and it can be a thorn in the flesh as Congress controls the purse strings – that is financial allocations and the budget.

Trump lost, but the transition is hazardous. His vote-base did not collapse; it held up, his poll rising from 63 million in 2016 against Hilary Clinton to 72 million in 2020. More disturbing, about half of that belongs to the Trump Base which inhabits an alternative universe presided over by their boss from which he refuses to return to earth. Trump and his looney fringe make false allegations of voter fraud that never occurred. He is inciting his thugs to violence; don’t underestimate what they may do in the transition. This man has no human empathy, he has a Frankenstein streak which is why many doubt his sanity. Extremists are on TV brandishing guns, threatening violence and “civil war”; they demand that the election results be annulled. He is hated for his lies and indecency but he has turned the Republican Party into a Trump Party; the entire GOP melts before his obnoxious persona. This makes the transition, the next 70 days, fraught and the next few years contentious

The Biden Presidency is not going to be a walk in the park. The Trump adoring GOP is determined to undermine climate policy, but Bidden cannot go back on a compact with a Task Force headed by John Kerry and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and endorsed by Bernie Sanders. A 110-page plan drafted by six task forces appointed by Biden and Sanders lays out a roadmap that Biden is committed to despite the declaration of war by Republicans. Healthcare, on which there is a tenuous agreement between the Biden-Harris and the Sanders-Elizabeth Warren-AOC factions will lead to a compromise, but Biden’s wish to be “president for all” will be rejected by Trump’s Base. A bitter defeated Trumpist who introduces himself as Brian C. Joondeph, M.D says “Trump needs our support and prayers as he is the last line between America the Beautiful and the Peoples’ Republic of Biden”; any treachery is ok for the spurned! Biden’s call for calm is wise but make no mistake it will be spurned and America needs to prepare itself for no-holds-barred conflict. ‘Success goes to those who dare and act, it seldom goes to the timid’; will the Biden-Harris leadership measure up? Will Biden mobilise people, the ultimate guardian of their own freedoms?

Never discount the fundamental reason underlying the rise of Trumpism; blue collar workers fear job and income loss in the face of advances in technology and globalisation. Poor whites in the Midwest and across the country are losing out, getting poorer and falling behind. The lower-three income quartiles know that power, income and wealth are in the hands of the top 10%. The Productivity Pay Tracker shows that the fruits of technology, productivity advance and wealth creation have gone to the top. The Democrats are seen as the party of the middle class gentry, climate change, racial equality and the home of culture-elites, removed from the hardships of the poor. My fear is that the Biden-Harris Administration will stay institutionally conservative and in the pockets of Wall Street.

If so, they will miss the boat as yahapalana did. Even when driven out of the White House, Trump like the Rajapaksas is not going away and who knows he may storm back on the backs of the working class, poor whites and maybe blacks and Latinos if the Bidden-Harris team fails to deliver. Kamala Harris is a more troubling than Biden unless she is balanced in the Cabinet by the inclusion of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders like figures, and unless people like AOC keep up mobilisation and hold Biden to his promises. A big mistake would be to imagine that America can return to business as usual; that is business as in the Clinton and Obama eras. Trump and Republican leaders are methodically undermining the transition of power, even refusing the de facto President Elect access to national security briefings. This is dangerous; it is an attempt at a palace coup; it is the road to a Banana Republic. This time it will fail but it is the last warning before the triumph of American neo-fascism, more dangerous than Nazim and inter-war fascism because of US world dominance and hence potentially it can be world transformative. If America goes neo-fascist there will be nowhere for the world to hide; Trump was the last warning.

In Lanka liberal-capitalism replaced Mahinda’s semi-autocracy only to be trounced at democratic elections by a very non-liberal alternative. The reasons in hindsight were twofold; initially, an inexplicable failure 

to prosecute powerful politicos of the Rajapaksa regime who were waist deep in corruption, and second, neglect by a regime chasing the non-sequitur of a liberal-capitalist road to prosperity of mass demands for better living conditions.

 

Biden must not inhibit prosecution of Trump’s financial wrong doings, and needs like a minimum wage and better healthcare must be funded by higher taxes on the wealthy. Circumstances and opportunities are good, the tasks are clear; control Corona, invest in health and education and live up to the promise of a ‘new green revolution’. The tough one is restructuring the economy; Trump’s base will wither if the problems that created it are addressed. The need is leadership; here too prospects are better than SL since the Biden-Harris team is not corrupt, nor incompetent and bickering like the Sirisena-Ranil circus. Biden’s Corona Task Force is not led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff! It is stuffed with respected and experienced professionals.

Foreign policy is where some things will change, others will not. The US will return to the Paris Climate Accord an Obama centrepiece and the WHO. The Iran Nuclear deal negotiated by John Kerry will be resuscitated in some form. China policy will not change because return of the Mandate of Heaven to the Middle Kingdom terrifies Democrats and Republicans alike. Continuing Sino-American tension is bad for Lanka. The US electoral system held up in 2020 despite ‘technical’ complications (huge mail in ballots, provisional ballots, court orders and recounts) and appalling intervention by none other than the depraved incumbent to undermine electoral processes. Am I applauding liberal democracy of which I am no great champion? Yes, I would have been more dismayed if American electoral democracy had been trashed than by even a Trump victory. Unbelievably, the Republican Party is doing just that! It is amazing that it is standing on its heads equating “a corrupt American electoral process” to a banana republic! “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Social democracy starts with common or garden justice, decency and truthfulness and adds on social equality, mass living standards and people’s control of state and economy. It’s liberal-democracy plus, not a denial of Enlightenment Values. As a leftist I applaud the resilience of US electoral democracy. Lanka too upheld it in November 2019 and August 2020. My quarrel is not with our exemplary electoral authorities; my quarrel is with the people of Lanka who were foolish in the exercise of their ballot.

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Features

Hair Growth and Thickness

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LOOK GOOD – with Disna

 

* Oil:

Oiling is an old home remedy for hair growth and thickness. Oiling is also used for the strength, shine, and length of hair, from ancient times. The use of coconut oil, especially, is very effective when it comes to the amplification of hair health. Additionally, there are many essential oils for faster hair growth which you can use, too.

* How to Use: Generally, hair oiling works best when applied overnight. You could use this therapy every night, or after each night, then wash your hair, in the morning, before heading for studies, or work.

 

* Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera has long been used as a home remedy for hair growth, thickness, and treating hair loss problems It contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins are known to contribute to cell turnover, supporting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Plus, vitamin B-12 and folic acid are also included in aloe vera gel. Both of these elements can keep your hair from falling out. Aloe vera plants can be easily grown indoors. A leaf can be plucked, occasionally, and cut open to reveal its gel. This gel needs to be applied on the scalp, basically, to provide nourishment to the roots.

*  How to Use:

Rub this gel on your head properly, leaving no area dry; wash after half an hour or so. Keeping this massage as a part of your weekly routine will eventually make your hair thick and long.

 

*  Green Tea:

Green tea is often consumed as a home remedy for weight loss. Surprisingly, it has many other benefits, including hair-related benefits.

* How to Use:

Consuming green tea once every day can add to the strength and length of your hair. If your body is extremely comfortable with green tea, then you may even consume it twice every day.

 

* Onion Juice:

A bi-weekly application of onion juice can relieve you of your tension, regarding hair health. The smell can really torture you, but divert your attention in doing something else for a while, like making a puzzle or washing the dishes. From an early age, onion juice has been used as a home remedy to control hair fall. Research has shown that onion juice has been successful in treating patchy alopecia areata (non-scarring hair loss condition) by promoting hair growth .

* How to Use:

Take half onion and blend it. Apply the mixture on every nook and corner of your scalp and let it sit for some 60 minutes, or so. Shampoo it off when it’s time for the hair-wash.

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Fun-loving, but… sensitive

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This week, my chat is with Nilu Vithanage. She is quite active, as a teledrama actress – having done four, already; her first was ‘Pavela Will Come In The Cloud, Mom’ (playing the role of a nurse). Then Came ‘Heavenly Palaces’ (student), ‘Black Town’ (a village character Kenkaiya), and ‘Wings Of Fire,’ currently being shown, with Nilu as a policewoman. You could checkout ‘Wings Of Fire,’ weekdays, on Swarnavahini, at 7.30 pm. Nilu is also active as a stage drama artiste, dancer…and has also been featured in musical videos.

And, this is how our chit-chat went…

1. How would you describe yourself?

Let’s say, I’m a bit on the playful side, and I like to have a lot of fun. But, I do find the time to relax, and, at home, it’s dancing to music! Yeah, I love dancing. Oh, I need to add that I’m a bit sensitive.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I get angry quickly. Fortunately, that anger doesn’t last long – just five to 10 minutes. But I wish I could get rid of anger, totally from my system!

3. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Nope, can’t think of anything, in particular. Everything is fine with us, and I’m proud of my only brother, and I feel safe when he is around. Or, come to think of it, if I did have another brother, I would feel doubly safe…when going out, in particular!

4. School?

I did my studies at two schools – C.W.W. Kannangara Central College, and Panadura Sumangala Girls’ School for my higher studies. Representing my school, I won first place in a speech competition and dance competition, as well.

5. Happiest moment?

When my husband comes home, or talks to me on the phone. He is stationed in Hatton and those calls and home visits are my happiest moments

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I really find a lot of happiness feeding the fish, in ponds. I love to see them rush to pick up the tidbits I throw into the pond. That’s my kind of happiness – being close to nature.

7. Are you religious?

I would say ‘yes’ to that question. I like to go to the temple, listen to sermons, participate in meditation programmes, and I do not miss out on observing sil, whenever possible. I also find solace in visiting churches.

8. Are you superstitious?

A big ‘no.’ Not bothered about all those superstitious things that generally affect a lot of people.

9. Your ideal guy?

My husband, of course, and that’s the reason I’m married to him! He has been a great support to me, in my acting career, as well in all other activities. He understands me and he loves me. And, I love him, too.

10. Which living person do you most admire?

I would say my Dad. I truly appreciate the mentorship he gave me, from a young age, and the things we received from him

11. Which is your most treasured possession?

My family.

12. If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like as your companion?

A camel would be ideal as that would make it easier for me to find a way out from a desert island!

13. Your most embarrassing moment?

One day, recently, with the greatest of difficulty, I managed to join a one meter distance queue, to withdraw money from an ATM. And, then I realised I didn’t bring the card along!

14. Done anything daring?

I would say…yes, when I ventured out to get involved in teledramas. It was a kind of a daring decision and I’m glad it’s now working out for me – beautifully.

15. Your ideal vacation?

I would say Thailand, after reading your articles, and talking to you about Amazing Thailand – the shopping, things to see and do, etc. When the scene improves, it will be…Thailand here I come!

16. What kind of music are you into?

The fast, rhythmic stuff because I have a kind of rhythm in my body, and I love to dance…to music.

17. Favourite radio station:

I don’t fancy any particular station. It all depends on the music they play. If it’s my kind of music, then I’m locked-on to that particular station.

18. Favourtie TV station:

Whenever I have some free time, I search the TV channels for a good programme. So it’s the programme that attracts me.

19. What would you like to be born as in your next life?

Maybe a bird so that I would be free to fly anywhere I want to.

20. Any major plans for the future?

I’m currently giving lessons to schoolchildren, in dancing, and I plan to have my own dancing institute in the future.

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Features

Snail-napping sets the stage for CGI road trip

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The SpongeBob Movie:Sponge on the Run

By Tharishi hewaviThanagamage

Based on the famous and one of the longest-running American animated series that made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999, created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg, ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ is the latest addition to the SpongeBob movie franchise, coming in as the third installment after ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ (2004) and ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’ (2015).

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