by Vijaya Chandrasoma
Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the day that white supremacist terrorists, egged on and incited by the sitting president of the United States, stormed the Capitol of the United States, was one of the darkest days in American history.
Thousands of these terrorists had been assembling in Washington D.C. before the day scheduled for the ceremonial certification of the electoral victory of Joe Biden and his formal anointment as the 46th President of the United States.
Trump knew this day represented, in his deluded mind, his last opportunity to overturn the results of the November election. He had spent weeks whipping up members of his cult with lies of voter fraud, culminating in a call to a march on the Capitol, the nerve-center of American democracy, on the day that the final nail into the coffin of his ambitions was being driven.
On December 20, Trump tweeted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild”.
Over 3,000 pro-Trump thugs, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the Proud Boys, gathered in DC days before January 6. Trump and his attorney, Rudy Guiliani addressed thousands who were to participate in the assault of the US Capitol. Trump spoke for nearly an hour during the “Stop the Steal” rally, at the Ellipse, a park near the White House, one hour before the attack on the Capitol.
Extracts from his rant:
“Our election victory was stolen by the radical left Democrats and the fake news media….We will never give up. We will never concede. When you walk down to the Capitol, I will be there with you.”
There was, in fact, no election theft involved. Vice-President Biden won the November election by a landslide, by 81 to 74 million popular votes, and 306 to 232 Electoral College votes, in what has been described as the most secure election in history. Trump’s spurious allegations of voter fraud have been thrown out by the courts, including his hand-picked Supreme Court, because of the lack of a shred of evidence.
Guiliani also raised allegations of widespread election fraud, saying, “Let’s have trial by combat”. He neglected to explain what exactly he meant by “trial by combat’, but the implication is obvious.
And so began events of violence and anarchy which has reduced the greatest standing democracy the world has ever seen to just another Banana Republic, an unparalleled national humiliation. Violence that enabled terrorists to breach the hallowed grounds and building of the Capitol, while the lawmakers of the nation were in session.
Violence and anarchy that Trump had encouraged before and refused to condemn after.
Violence that has our adversaries beaming with delight at the chaos caused by a president they had helped to elect. Their work was done.
Franklin Roosevelt called the unprovoked Pearl Harbor attack by Japan on December 7, 1941 a “Date which will live in infamy”. Current Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, stated that January 6, 2021, the day the Capitol of the United States was stormed by domestic insurrectionists for the second time in its history, was also such a “Date which will live infamy”. The first time was during the War of 1812, when the British breached and burnt the Peoples House. Over 200 years ago, during a war. By the enemy. This time it was by domestic terrorists, incited by the President of the United States.
Trump has so divided the nation to an extent that “we have met the enemy, and the enemy is us”.
Perhaps the biggest scandal of this armed insurrection was the massive breakdown of security – intelligence, military and police. It was known to everyone that armed groups had been gathering in DC before the certification ceremony on January 6. It was also known that these white supremacists were present at the behest of President Trump, “standing back and standing by” on his orders for violence.
On an occasion as widely publicized and momentous as the ceremony to mark the certification of the 46th President of the United States by members of both Houses of Congress, impregnable security measures were of utmost importance.
Strangely, armed insurrectionists were able to break into the Capitol premises with impunity and little resistance. These thugs were photographed vandalizing Speaker Pelosi’s suite of offices; even the main conference hall of the Capitol, where the meetings were being held and several offices were also breached.
Most videos of law enforcement clearing the Capitol premises show the insurrectionists treated with consideration, even courtesy. One particularly brazen photograph showed a policeman posing for a selfie with a terrorist within the premises. Hardly treatment deserved by armed insurrectionists, when their apparent crimes were sedition and treason. I dread to think how law enforcement officers would have behaved had the Black Lives Matter protesters attempted to storm the Capitol. Not this courteously and gently, I dare say.
During the insurrection, one woman was shot in the chest, and died in hospital. Another woman and two men died in “medical emergencies”. A policeman was killed and several others injured.
A few arrests were made, mainly on curfew offences. The insurrectionists were released and allowed to go home. Perhaps they were treated to a five-course farewell dinner at the Trump International Hotel in DC before their departure. With the bill sent to the taxpayer, of course.
Prosecutors are said to be looking at all actors, including Trump, as charges are being filed against some insurrectionists. The post mortem of this total failure in security is also ongoing. The Chiefs of Police of the Capitol have resigned. Too little, too late. The horse has already bolted.
While the violence at the Capitol was in progress, Trump remained silent, until he was persuaded to address the anarchists in a call to end the violence. Predictably, he expressed his sympathy and encouragement for these terrorists. “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. But you must go home now, we must have peace now. So go home. We love you. You’re very special”. Hardly sentiments to be displayed in addressing terrorists who had just breached the symbol of Democracy of the nation.
Several White House officials have already resigned from their posts after this insurrection, and many more, notably Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, former Chief of Staff, Mike Mulvaney, Education Secretary, Betsy Devos, some of Trump’s most vocal defenders in the administration, and many others are seriously considering resigning. The rats are jumping from the ship which sank on January 6. Where were they when the ship was sinking, the past four years?
It is now becoming increasingly obvious that Trump is no longer mentally fit to carry out the functions of the presidency. He has been diagnosed to suffer from malignant narcissistic pathology, a polite, psychological way of saying that he is batshit crazy. Although he will be removed in two weeks’ time, he is still capable of causing serious damage to the country, and to President Biden’s fledgling administration. It is too late to impeach him or invoke the 25th Amendment. He should be arrested on mental grounds and installed where he belongs, in a lunatic asylum.
Trump is the Frankenstein, the creation of the modern Republican Party. The GOP, the Party of Lincoln, will be grappling with the abominable legacy of Trump for generations to come. The Party has been so completely emaciated by Trump to an extent that it may not be able to exist in its present form.
The US Congress, led by Vice-President Pence, has now formalized the election of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. Biden as the 46th President, and Kamala Devi Harris as the 49th Vice President, of the United States. Harris is the nation’s first woman Vice-President and the first Vice-President of color. Objections made on the basis of election fraud in Pennsylvania and Arizona were shot down in flames by both Houses. Vice-President carried out his constitutional duties flawlessly, no doubt awaiting the tweeting wrath of President Trump.
Trump’s desperation to remain in the White House reveals his terror of the dozens of prosecutions on a variety of crimes he will face when he will no longer have the immunity of the presidency. He may be able protect himself with a self-pardon, which will only give him immunity against federal crimes. Presidential pardons do not give protection against state crimes. He will face a multitude of charges on state crimes, including the New York District Court investigations into tax and bank offences, hush-money allegations, real estate fraud, emoluments and sexual misconduct cases. Georgia also may be considering charging Trump with abuse of power in threatening election officials to subvert state elections. And charges of sedition may also be on the table after his complicity in Wednesday’s insurrection.
President Biden’s task has just been made easier by the almost certain election to the Senate of two Democrats from Georgia. Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff beat off the incumbent David Perdue, at the run-off Senate elections on Tuesday, January 5. The Senate is now tied at 50 – 50, but Vice-President Harris acts as the President of the Senate, and has the casting vote in case of a tie.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will be the Majority Leader, and the obstructive shadow of Mitch McConnell will disappear into the impotent hell of the Minority Leadership. This unexpected flip of the Upper House presents President Biden with a wonderful opportunity to push forward the progressive agenda of the Democratic Party.
I would like to take the liberty of ending on a personal note. I have, since Trump’s comments at Charlottesville when he described white supremacists and neo-Nazis as “very fine people”, labeled Trump as one of the most evil men in the history of mankind. I have long been perplexed by those Trump supporters, especially of the brown-skinned Sri Lankan variety, who have been in awe of an obviously narcissistic, criminal, ignorant, raving white supremacist. I hope recent events have persuaded them to open their eyes. I take no pleasure in this “I told you so” moment. But I did tell you so.
SLAF on hazardous wall, Sri Lanka Air Force has sent us the following statement……
Sri Lanka Air Force has sent us the following statement in response to an article (That hazardous Ratmalana Wall) published on 21 Jan.
It is with regret that I would like to inform you that the newspaper article titled “That Hazardous Ratmalana Wall” published in The “Island” newspaper of 21 January 2021 contains false information which has not been clarified from the Air Force Director Media nor any other official channel of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).
It should also be highlighted that the Sri Lanka Air Force does not wish to challenge the freedom of reporting information by journalists. However, news articles of this nature published with the use of unsubstantiated information tarnishes the image of Sri Lanka Air Force.
The newspaper article in concern has caught the attention of the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force. As alleged in the article, the Commander has not declared on behalf of the SLAF that there is no objection for the removal of the wall and replacing it with a fence. On the contrary he had in fact stated that a collapsible wall could be put in place of the permanent wall which should have a solid finish obstructing the view from outside due to security reasons.
In addition, to date there has been no incident/accident reported at the Ratmalana Airfield related to the wall along the Galle Road. Further, vehicles such as passenger coach/container etc; travelling on the main road would be taller than the wall in concern and according to the article, the main road would also have to be closed each and every time when an aircraft approaching of taking off from that end of the runway. International runway due to limitations which is also can be considered as hazardous to flight safety, SLAF consider Flight Safety is a paramount important factor as an organization which operates different types of aircraft over the years from this airfield.
It is pertinent to mention the wall in concern was erected by the SLAF before year 2009 with the consent of the Airport and Aviation Sri Lanka (AASL) to address the security concerns at that time and maintained to date. The outer perimeter security of the Colombo International Airport at Ratmalana is being provided by the SLAF free of charge over years. As a measure of gratitude, with the consent of AASL and the approval of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), SLAF authorized to erect hoardings along this wall and to utilize the funds generated for welfare measures of airmen.
Further, publishing of an article which has an author with a fictional name will have serious and adverse effects on the newspaper as well as the goodwill which prevails between SLAF and AASL. The goodwill which prevails between the SLAF and your esteemed Organization will also be adversely effected by articles of this nature. SLAF Directorate of Media always provide accurate and precise information to media institutions which has an impact on general public as well as to other organizations. Undersigned is contactable any time of the day through mobile (0772229270) to clarify ambiguities of SLAF related information.
In conclusion, I would like to express our displeasure regarding the newspaper article in concern and the damage which has been done to the good name of the Sri Lanka Air Force and in particular to the Commander of Air Force.
for COMMANDER OF THE AIR FORCEs
By Rajitha Ratwatte
There is an old joke that goes around regularly about Sri Lankans’ in hell. How absolutely no guards are needed to keep Lankans in hell because they do a very good job of pulling each other down into hell when anyone even looks like they will escape. When you extrapolate that into real life in the Pearl, the examples are plenty. All of us have personal experiences of neighbours, peers, relations and even our bosses “cutting us” as the popular phrase goes. It is mostly those who either realise and watch out for these pitfalls or those who clearly identify a powerful figure to “bum suck” for want of a better word that display pure unadulterated sycophancy to, that “progress” to propagate these trends in the future. This I believe is something that is triggered by the basest of all human emotions, jealousy, and probably egged on by a sense of insecurity as well.
One would expect that in a nation of devout Buddhists such reprehensible behaviour would be addressed and controlled. Alas it is not to be and looks like it never will be.
It is rather disconcerting to observe that this behaviour is ‘going strong’ among the Lankan community in this the land of the “long White Cloud” as well. The more I live here and mix with the community, the more I hear about people who try to start new projects or give fruition to new and possibly brilliant schemes who have been stymied by fellow citizens born in the Pearl. They indulge in the anonymous letter method (that dates back from time immemorial) made even easier by using false identities, and “one-off” e mail addresses on the web. They inform all government authorities of what they believe are attempts to break the law of their adopted country. If there are bilateral trade agreements, they diligently contact the other parties and try to cast aspersions on the people concerned. They even inform the management of any company that these people with the new ideas may be working at, that their employee may be breaking a sub clause in his contract and thinking of doing some other business while working for them. All triggered by a wonderful sense of self-righteousness from people who don’t think twice about breaking the law when it concerns their own affairs!
As a result, those who have had a measure of success, guard their positions very carefully and a few who have tried to include other Lankans in their operations have learned hard lessons from those who stole their trade secrets and started rival businesses on their own. I daresay this happens in other communities too, but among the Chinese and Indian communities that form similar minorities in Aotearoa, there are official networks formed to help new immigrants. There are schemes and methods in place to help their people do business, especially in the field of imports, to try and reach some sort of equilibrium with regard to the balance of trade between Aotearoa and their home countries. Sri Lanka imports so much milk from New Zealand but almost nothing of our spices, gems and jewellery, tourism products or even our tea that used to have a much larger share of the market, are imported.
In these desperate economic times, shouldn’t the government be looking at ways to improve our export trade? There are so many pockets and communities of Lankans in so many different countries who are doing well enough to be able to afford some luxuries from their home countries but have to pay exorbitant prices or do without. A recent import of ‘sweet meats’ for Sinhala New Year saw such a massive offtake that great plans for expansion were disrupted by Covid-19, before the Lankan rivals could put paid to it. Although such plans were in place!
Something that is rather obvious to those observing the antics in the Pearl from outside is that there seems to be no plan. Innovative thinking, especially in the field of ‘non-traditional’ exports does not exist. We have all seen how fickle tourism is. Using our fertile soil and the artistic skills of our people to build a reputation for quality exports has been totally neglected in recent times. I daresay the relevant ministries and export bodies exist, but it is a well-known fact that they simply serve as JOBS for political catchers, who do nothing except enjoy a foreign junket or two every year on account of the taxpayer.
That brilliant marketing idea of the Ceylon Tea Centers was so far ahead of its time that no one really understood it. We had the best retail locations in some of the greatest cities in Europe and the UK and were building up a great reputation for serving quality tea and promoting our cuisine. It should have been expanded to handle handicraft products on the lines of Laksala and even spices. Of course, promoting our culture, hospitality and tourism would have followed. There are two ways to handle a crisis. We can either put up our shutters and slide deeper and deeper into the mire of debt and economic ruin, or take some bold steps, make innovative investments and take a gamble on products and ideas that are endemic to our country.
Even if the latter method fails the end result couldn’t be much worse! Go down fighting I say! Rather than ask expatriates to come back and try to work in a totally corrupt and politician dominated society, approach expatriates with ideas in other countries and back them to promote those ideas if they show real economic benefits to our land. Not everything will work but even a 5% success rate is better than nothing at all.
It is also acknowledged that RANIL has been reappointed as leader of the UNP. Now then, what does this mean? Is it that the Uncle-Nephew party has stuck to tradition or does it mean that at least some people have realized that an experienced politician with world recognition and a certain amount of credibility in the first world, is useful to have around? Search your minds all you critics who blamed absolutely everything on Ranil. Have a dispassionate look at the Muppets in parliament and think for yourself what sort of account they would give of themselves on the world stage. After you do this, place Ranil on the world stage next to those morons and realize for yourself the DIFFERENCE!
Lenin comes to town (again)
By Gwynne Dyer
When Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday after convalescing in Germany from an attempted poisoning by the FSB domestic spy agency, the regime-friendly media loyally failed to mention his arrival. With one striking exception: Vremya, the flagship news show of Russian state television.
Presumably, somebody there was hoping to win favour with the Kremlin, because they briefly mentioned Navalny three-quarters of the way through Sunday’s two-hour programme. In fact, they compared Navalny’s trip home to Vladimir Lenin’s famous return to Russia in 1917, and suggested that he was as great a danger to Russia as Lenin had been.
As every Russian knows, the Germans plucked Lenin from exile in Switzerland in the middle of the First World War. He was sent across Germany in a ‘sealed train’ (so he wouldn’t spread the infection of Communism there) to St. Petersburg, then in the throes of Russia’s first democratic revolution – and he did just what the Germans had hoped he would.
Lenin overthrew the fumbling democratic ‘Provisional Government’ in a military coup, took Russia out of the First World War – and launched a 73-year totalitarian Communist regime that cost at least 20 million Russian lives in purges, famines and lesser acts of repression. Is Navalny really that great a danger?
The ambitious presenter at Vremya probably won’t get the job he wanted, because President Vladimir Putin really won’t have liked seeing his noisiest critic compared in stature to Lenin, a genuine world-historical figure. Putin himself never mentions Navalny’s name at all.
Russians cannot even put a name to the system they live under, as the poor Vremya presenter’s confusion illustrates. It’s certainly not a democracy, although there are regular elections. It’s definitely not Communist, although most of the regime’s senior figures were Communists before they discovered a better route to power and wealth.
It’s not a monarchy, although Putin has been in power for twenty years and is surrounded by a court of extremely rich allies and cronies. And ‘kleptocracy’ is just a pejorative term used mostly by foreigners, although Navalny does habitually refer to Putin and his cronies as “crooks and thieves”.
In fact, Putin’s regime is not a system at all. Its only ideology is a traditional Russian nationalism that is lightweight compared to blood-and-soil religious and racist movements like Trump’s in the United States and Modi’s in India. It’s a purely personal regime, and it is very unlikely to survive his dethronement or demise.
Putin has been in power for twenty years, and he has just changed the constitution with a referendum that lets him stay in power until 2036. But that seems unlikely, partly because he is already 68 and partly because the younger generation of Russians is getting restless and bored.
Navalny is a brave man who has gone home voluntarily to face a spell in Putin’s jails. (He missed two parole appointments for a suspended sentence on trumped-up embezzlement charges because he was in Germany recovering from the FSB assassination attempt.) But his role in Russian politics so far had been more gadfly than revolutionary.
His supporters do their homework and make clever, witty videos detailing the scandalous financial abuses of the regime (the latest is a virtual tour of Putin’s new $1 billion seaside palace on the Black Sea near Novorossiysk), but he is probably not the man who will finally take Putin down. What he is doing to great effect is mobilising the tech-savvy young.
Since 2018 the average age of protesters at anti-Putin demos, mostly linked to Navalny one way or another, has dropped by a decade, and their boldness has risen in proportion. Moreover, their attitude to the regime now verges on contempt. Rightly so: consider, for example, the last two assassination attempts by regime operatives.
In 2018, the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency, sent two agents to England to kill defector Sergei Skripov and his daughter Yulia. The agents made two trips to Salisbury because they couldn’t find the right house, they were tracked by CCTV every step of the way, and in the end, they left too little novichok (nerve poison) on the doorknob to kill the targets.
Equally crude and bumbling was the FSB’s attack on Navalny in Tomsk, where the novichok was put on his underpants. Once again, the target survived, and afterwards the investigative site Bellingcat was able to trace FSB agents tracking Navalny on forty flights over several years before the murder was attempted.
Neither agency is fit for 21st-century service, nor is the regime they both serve. Russians have put up with it for a long time because they were exhausted and shamed by the wild political banditry of the 1990s, but Putin’s credit for having put an end to that has been exhausted. He may still be in power for years, but this is a regime on the skids.
SLAF on hazardous wall, Sri Lanka Air Force has sent us the following statement……
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