Fence sitting; frank comment; front-paged on NYT
‘SJB challenges Vasu. Udaya and Wimal to leave Cabinet’, so read page one headline of Monday’s The Island. Cass adds her vote to this proposition as will so many other Lankan Ordinaries. At least will they vote against the Yugadanavi deal which they are protesting about? The deal was signed and sealed and we thought the entire Cabinet of Ministers had agreed to the project, promoted by the Finance Minister. But then these Cabinet Ministers said no vote nor discussion had taken place. So, Cass’ hypothetical questions remain valid, since a vote might be taken on the deal.
What Cass gathers from this headline and preceding incident is that while the inhabitants of this Isle are lazy lotus eaters, they are also fence sitters with an eye for dinun paththa so they can fall thataways with a cry of hoiya. The three critics who are vociferous now will meekly nod agreement or cast an ‘aye’ vote if the project is discussed again and put to the vote. Consequently, to Cass’ jaundiced eye, the three Ministers are branch hangers, like monkeys, who want to jump on to another branch but stay put as they are instinctively aware the other branch may not be safe. The monkey considers his safety; the politician considers his skin, power and perks and ignores the tempting branch he wanted to jump on to. If he jumps, he may lose all material goods but gain in popularity and be considered honourable. He may well ask himself ‘honour kantada?”
Tuesday, December 14 The Island has this headline: “Yugadanavi mess: Group led by Ministers stepping up campaign, won’t heed SLPP warnings.” So, it looks like Cassandra was wrong, jumped the gun in her remarks above. The three are not monkeys clinging onto one branch, wanting to jump on to another, but afraid to sever safe hold on the former branch. They seem to be poised to take the plunge, come what may. OK, let’s wait and see.
Justice Minister speaks truth, so help him God!
Ali Sabry has said he is fed up with the Parliament; he has had enough of the Parliament and will not re-enter it after serving the current term. We applaud him for speaking the truth and not being scared to do so. Most MPs and Ministers, especially on the government side, keep their lips clamped about internal matters, more particularly dissatisfaction with the status quo, which translates to dissatisfaction with how government is carried on. It is a judgement on the leaders. We admire Sabry for his arguments in the House, his apparent decency and honesty, standing out as a genuine man among such a motley of government MPs. He is definitely not a fence sitter. He says he will serve the time he was elected to serve and then leave.
Ooh la la! We’ve made it to one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers. On December 7, 2021 Sri Lanka was featured on page one of New York Times with a long article carrying three pictures. The sure-to-have-been glaring headline was “Sri Lanka’s Plunge into Organic Farming Brings Disaster: the economically troubled country banned chemical fertilisers without preparing farmers; prompting a surge in food prices and worries about shortages,” reported by Aanya Vipulasena and Mujib Mashal. A vegetable seller from Colombo, a Ratnapura farmer and an ice cream vendor were pictured and interviewed. Cass will not summarise the article or comment on it, but it was objectively written with no blame laying, not at all. It is so sad, since we should have been applauded for being the first country to ban inorganic stuff but that would and should have been at least twenty years in the future. Now, instead of applauding us and holding our little island as an example and a first-to-do-it, we are touted pathetically and our troubles made internationally known. Bad advice; very bad decision. A single tree was seen by the powers-that-be ignoring the vast wood of consequent disaster. The worst is that we are yet to experience the full impact of the unwise and too hasty decision. Oh well! Tighten your belts. But how to, when we are already at can’t-breathe point.
Bombs in guise of gas cylinders
The deplorable, shocking, disgraceful, wanton killing of people through faulty mixture of gases in household cylinders still continues. Cass told you two weeks ago she was near starving, without a replacement gas cylinder. She cooked just a curry or two for both daily meals. Now she has to be more niggardly and has no money to spare for food packets. The scenario is worse in more disadvantaged homes. At least she transferred recently to a better gas dealer, one who seems to care about his customers. She phoned the gentleman (noun used deliberately) and he said all his stocks was returned and he expected new stocks in four days. Consequently, Cass has to lose weight for a further four or five days. Pity the helpless!
And to think that a couple of days ago a mother of four lost her life when a cylinder exploded in her face. The editor commented on the issue in The Island of Tuesday, December 14, lauding the husband of the tragically killed woman, who has decided to take legal action against Litro Gas and the government. He says all should help him, especially with legal aid paid for. We wondered why no court cases were brought forth earlier. Cass surmised it was a case of feeling that that course of action was hopeless, a dead end. No real punishment nor deterrent would result as most cases are just dismissed now.
So, Parliament was prorogued like the thunderbolt that shattered us in Kollupitiya on Monday afternoon at around 3.00 pm with a red light (not actually a ball of fire) shooting past Cassandra’s flat balcony. Her ear drums were nearly shattered. She surmised sadly, the gods too are angry with us. The President has gone (nearly used the rude-in-this-case term ‘fled’) on a private visit to Singapore. We are glad for his sake, as times are very bad here in this Paradise Island Like No Other. We wish him well.
ICC arrest warrant; a setback for authoritarian rule
As should be expected, the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes allegations has given rise to a widespread debate on how effective it would be as an instrument of justice. What compounds the issue is the fact that Russia is not obliged to cooperate with the ICC, given that it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which outlaws the crimes in question and envisages punitive action for signatory state representatives who act in violation of its provisions.
Predictably, the Russian side has rubbished the ICC allegations and its arrest warrant on the basis that they are totally irrelevant to Russia, considering that it does not recognize the ICC or its rulings. However, the fact remains that important sections of the international community would be viewing Putin and his regime as war criminals who should be shunned and outlawed.
The possibility is great of the Putin regime steadily alienating itself from enlightened opinion the world over from now on. In other words, Putin and his cohorts have incurred a heavy moral defeat as a consequence of the ICC’s arrest warrant and its strictures.
Morality may not count much for the Putin regime and its supporters, locally and internationally, but the long term consequences growing out of this dismissive stance on moral standards could be grave. They would need to take their minds back to the white supremacist regimes of South Africa of decades past which were relentlessly outlawed by the world community, incurring in the process wide-ranging sanctions that steadily weakened apartheid South Africa and forced it to negotiate with its opponents. Moreover, the ICC measures against Putin are bound to strengthen his opponents and critics at home, thereby boosting Russia’s pro-democracy movement.
However, the Putin administration could earn for itself some ‘breathing space’ at present by proving the ICC’s allegations wrong. That is, it would need to establish beyond doubt that it is not guilty of the crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia and other war-linked offences. It could liaise with UNICEF and other relevant UN agencies for this purpose since it does not recognize the ICC.
A wise course of action for President Putin would be to pick up this gauntlet rather than ignore the grave allegations levelled against him, in view of the long term consequences of such evasive behavior.
Besides, the Russian President would need to restrict his movements from now on. For, he is liable to be arrested and produced before the ICC by those governmental authorities who are signatories to the Rome Statute in the event of Putin entering their countries. That is, Putin’s head is likely to be increasingly restless as time goes by.
However, the gravest consequence flowing from Putin and his regime ignoring the ICC and its strictures is that later, if not sooner, they could find themselves being hauled up before the ICC. There is ample evidence from recent history that this could be so. All the alleged offenders need to do is take their minds back to the convulsive and bloody Balkan wars of the nineties to see for themselves how the ICC process, though slow and laborious, finally delivered justice to the victims of war crimes in that tempestuous theatre.
All those war criminals who have lulled themselves into believing that it is possible to escape being brought to justice before the world’s tribunals, need to recollect how former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevik and his partners in crime Rodovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the early years of this century and required to pay the price for their criminality. So confident were they initially that they would never be brought to justice that they agreed, tongue-in-cheek, to fully cooperate with the ICTY.
It is pertinent to also remember that the criminals mentioned were notorious for their ‘ethnic cleansing’ operations and other war-time excesses. Accordingly, those accused of war crimes the world over would be only indulging in wishful thinking if they consider themselves above the law and safe from being held accountable for their offences. Justice would catch-up with them; if not sooner, then later. This is the singular lesson from Bosnia.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has considered it timely to call on President Putin in Russia. He did so close on the heels of being elected President for a third straight term recently. This is a clear message to the world that Russia could always depend on China to be a close and trusted ally. It is a question of two of the biggest authoritarian states uniting. And the world they see as big enough for both of them.
Interestingly, China is having the world believe that it has a peace plan for Ukraine. While in Russia, though, XI did not spell out in any detail how the crisis in Ukraine would be resolved with China’s assistance. However, China has drafted what is termed its ‘Position on the Ukraine Crisis’. It contains 12 points which are more in the nature of a set of principles.
Seen against the backdrop of the developments in Ukraine, some of these principles merit close scrutiny. For instance, the first principle lays out that the sovereignty of all countries must be respected. Besides, International Law must be universally recognized, including the ‘purposes and principles of the UN Charter’. However, ‘double standards’ must be rejected. Hopefully, the West got the hint.
Principle 4 has it that ‘Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis.’ Principle 8 points out that, ‘Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought’.
Needless to say, all the above principles are acceptable to the international community. What is required of China is to evolve a peace plan for Ukraine, based on these principles, if it is in earnest when it speaks of being a peace maker. The onus is on China to prove its credibility.
However, China could be said to be characteristically pragmatic in making these moves. While further cementing its alliance with Russia, China is placing the latter on notice, though in a subtle way, that its war in Ukraine is proving highly counter-productive and costly, both for the states concerned and the world. The costly economic consequences for the world from the war speak for themselves. Accordingly, nudging Russia in the direction of a negotiated settlement is the wisest course in the circumstances.
In the limelight again…Miss Super Model Globe 2020
Those who are familiar with the fashion and beauty pageant setup, in Sri Lanka, would certainly remember Shashi Kaluarachchi.
Three years ago, she was crowned Miss Super Model Globe Sri Lanka 2020 and then represented Sri Lanka at the Miss Super Model Globe International, held in India.
Shashi won two titles at this big event; she was placed second in the finals (1st Runner-up) and took the title of Best National Costume.
Very active in the modelling scene, in the not too distant past, Shashi went silent, after dazzling the audience at the Super Model Globe contest.
Obviously, those who are aware of her talents were kept guessing, and many were wondering whether she had prematurely quit the fashion scene!
Not quite so…and I had a surprise call from Shashi to say that she is ready to do it again.
The silence is due to the fact that she is now employed in Dubai and is concentrating on her office work.
“When I came to Dubai, I was new to this scene but now I do have some free time, coming my way, and I want to get back to what I love doing the most – modelling, fashion and beauty pageants,” she said.
Shashi indicated that she plans to participate in an upcoming beauty pageant, to be held in Dubai, and also do some fashion shoots, and modelling assignments.
“Dubai is now buzzing with excitement and I want to be a part of that scene, as well,” said Shashi, who had her early beginnings, as a model, at the Walk with Brian Kerkoven modelling academy.
“I owe my success to Brian. He made me what I’m today – a top model.”
Shashi, who 5’7″ tall, says she loves wearing the sari for all important occasions.
“The sari is so elegant, so graceful, and, I believe, my height, and figure, does justice to a sari,”
Shashi has plans to visit Sri Lanka, in April, for a short vacation, adding that if the opportunity comes her way, she would love to do some photo shoots, and a walk on the ramp, as well.
* Shorter Showers
If you have dry skin, do not take long showers, or baths. Staying in the water for a longer time can dry it out more. You should also use warm, instead of hot, water, when you wash. Hot water can strip your skin of the fatty substances that give it hydration. As soon as you finish cleansing yourself, apply a body lotion, all over your body, to moisturize. Don’t wash yourself more than once a day
Applying a daily moisturizer can do wonders for dry skin, and there are products in your kitchen you can use which are natural and effective. Try coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or sunflower seed oil
Olive oil and brown sugar have amazing properties for the skin. Both of these substances deeply hydrate. Olive oil is also a known wound-healer, while sugar contains glycolic acid, which allows it to have anti-aging. You can make a natural scrub, using these ingredients which can be as good as the best anti-wrinkle creams.
* Mix one tablespoon of brown sugar with a teaspoon of olive oil.
* Blend them, and spread the mixture on your face, and neck, using a circular motion, for a few minutes.
* Then leave it to sit for another couple of minutes, and wash it off with warm water.
You can do this twice a week for amazing results
Taking care of your lips is important. Lips can also get dry and chapped, which is why you need to keep them hydrated, daily. If you’re looking for a natural balm, try sugar and lemon, or honey, sugar, and butter.
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