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NUREMBERG TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS – Part I

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HITLER AND EVA BRAUN COMMIT SUICIDE

bY JAYANTHA GUNASEKERA, PC

When the 2nd World War broke out in 1939, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was Neville Chamberlain, the President of the United States, was polio-stricken Franklin D Roosevelt, and the French President was Francois Daladier.

Hitler successfully bluffed the western leaders and Russia, by signing a Peace Agreement known as the Munich Agreement. By this the Allies were lulled into a state of complacency while Hitler was stealthily building up his war machinery. The factories of Alfred Krupp were working at breakneck speed and had the western leaders caught unawares when Hitler decided to invade Europe. After signing the Munich Agreement , Neville Chamberlain went home and was bragging about ushering peace. He was a good man, but lacked intelligence.

On Sept. 1, 1939, German armies commonly known as the Nazi, poured across the Polish frontier and converged on Warsaw, from the North, South and the West.

In 1941, the House of Commons decided that enough is enough and brought in Winston Churchill as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. Unlike most other Prime Ministers Churchill, born in Marlborough House, was a proud man of noble birth being related to Royalty. He was very conscious of his lineage, being the son of Lord Randolph Churchill. He schooled at Eton and though he was not university educated, he possessed intelligence in great measure and is now considered the most intelligent military strategist of the 20th century.

He kept up the morale of the forces and the British people with his electrifying speeches. When Germany’s air force – Luftwaffe – attempted to blow up London, and was prevented by the courageous Royal Air Force, he thanked the RAF pilots with the stirring words, “never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few”.

When the War ended, Churchill was still the PM of the UK. President Roosevelt died and Harry Truman succeeded him. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces was Dwight Eisenhower. The Commander of the British Forces was Field Marshal (later Viscount) Montgomery and the Commander of the Russian Forces was Marshal Zhukov.

Hitler enlisted the assistance of 68 highly intelligent non-military persons to plan his strategy. These men were chosen for their intelligence even more than their loyalty to him. They, with their intelligent planning, nearly conquered the whole world! It is well known that war is too serious a business to be left in the hands of the Generals alone. The main countries that joined Hitler were called the Axis Powers. They were Hitler’s Germany, Emperor Hirohito’s Japan and Mussolini’s Italy. The Japanese Forces were as ruthless as the Germans.

In 1941, without any military provocation, the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbour, destroying a large number of ships belonging to the US Navy and killing thousands of Americans. They were all taken unawares. This was exactly what Sir Winston was waiting for. For all his pleadings, the US had not come out openly against the Axis Forces and it was only after the unprovoked attack on their Navy that the US joined the Allies in the war. The Japanese did not spare even Ceylon, then a colony of the UK. They dropped bombs, but thankfully could not cause much damage.

On April 29, 1945, one of the last pieces of news to reach Hitler’s bunker from the outside world came in. it was that his fellow fascist dictator and partner in aggression Mussolini, and his mistress Clara Petacci, had been caught by Italian partisans on April 27 while trying to escape to Switzerland, and executed two days later. On May Day, Benito Mussolini and his mistress were buried in a paupers plot! In such a macabre climax of degradation the man known as “Il Duce”, and fascism, passed into history.

Shortly after receiving the news of Mussolini’s end Hitler began to make final plans for his own death. He had his favourite Alsatian dog Blondi poisoned and the two other dogs in the household shot. Erik Kempka his driver who was in charge of the chancellery garage, received an order to deliver 200 liters of gasoline in jerrycans . Hitler and Eva Braun (who he had married only two days before) retired to their room in the bunker. Revolver shots were heard. The body of Hitler was found sprawled on the sofa. He had shot himself in the mouth. At his side lay Eva, who had not used her revolver. She had swallowed poison.

On May 4, 1945, the German High Command surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery. Japanese Emperor Hirohito decreed that despite the surrender of the German Forces, the Japanese Forces should fight to the last man. These forces were as ruthless as the Germans. Peace was not to dawn though Germany had unconditionally surrendered. The US, though now in possession of the atom bomb, was not going to use it if Japan too surrendered. But because of the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbour, they decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing hitherto unheard and unseen devastation. The pilot who dropped the bombs was Captain Tibetts who flew the “Enola Grey”. Utter misery and destruction were brought on the Japanese people due to the egoistic action of Emperor Hirohito, who also should have been tried for war crimes. Captain Tibetts died only about five years ago, aged 93.

 

24 War Criminals were indicted by the Allies. The charges were for:

Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.

 

The War Criminals charged were

1. Martin Bormann – successor to Rudolf Hess as Nazi party secy. He was sentenced to death in absentia.

2. Karl Doenitz – an admiral and initiator of the U-boat campaign, and nominated by Hitler as his successor. He was sentenced to 10 years.

3. Hans Frank – ruler of occupied Poland. Sentenced to death.

4. Wilhelm Frick – Hitler’s minister of the interior. Sentenced to death.

5. Hans Friche – popular commentator and head of Nazi propaganda. He was acquitted.

6. Walter Funk – Hitler’s minister of economics. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

7. Hermann Goering – commander of the german air force, the Luftwaffe. Sentenced to death, but cheated the hangman by biting the cyanide pill and committing suicide.

8. Rudolf Hess – Hitler’s deputy. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

9. Alfred Jodel – sentenced to death, but was posthumously exonerated by a denazification court.

10. Ernst Karltenbrunner – commander of many concentration camps. Sentenced to death.

 

NUREMBERG…

 

11. Wilhelm Keitel – sentenced to death.

12. Gustav Krupp – nazi industrialist who churned out war machinery. Was found to be medically unfit for trial.

13. Neurath – minister of foreign affairs who succeeded Ribbentrop, later protector of Bohemia. Sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

14. Franz Von Papen – acquitted at Nuremberg but re- classified as a criminal in 1947 by a German Denazification Court.

15. Eric Raeder – life imprisonment.

16. Joachim Von Ribbentrop – nazi foreign minister. Sentenced to death.

17. Alfred Rosenberg – racial theory ideologist. Sentenced to death.

18. Fritz Sauckel – plenipotentiary of the Nazi slave program. Sentenced to death.

19. Hjalmar Schacht – pre war president of the Reichsbank. Was acquitted.

20. Baldur Von Shirach – gauliter of Vienna. Sentenced to 20 years.

21. Arthur Seyss-Inquart – gauliter of Holland. Sentenced to death.

22. Albert Speer – Hitler’s architect. Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

23. Julius Streicher – incited hatred and murder against Jews. Sentenced to death.

24. Robert Ley – German Labour Front. Committed suicide before trial

 

By this time many of the top Nazis were dead. Hitler himself had committed suicide. Joseph Gobbels followed Hitler the next day, by taking his life, the life of his wife and the their six children. Reinhard Heydrich had been killed by Czechoslovak agents in 1942. Herman Goering cheated the hangman by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

 

The war criminals were held in Spandau Prison. They argued that the International Military Tribunal was a Victor’s Justice and was a mock trial.

 

Judges who tried the German Judges accused of perversion of justice were:

 (Soviet main)

 (Soviet alternate)

 (British main), President of the Tribunal

 (British alternative)

 (American main)

 (American alternative)

 Professor (French main)

 (French alternative)

 

Chief prosecutors

 (United Kingdom)

 (United States)

 (Soviet Union)

 , later replaced by (France)

 

Apart from the trial of the Nazi War Criminals there were 12 other trials at Nuremberg, now occupied by the USA. These were held before US Military Courts and not before the International War Crimes Tribunal. These 12 trials were known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. In one trial 16 German Judges and Jurists were indicted, for

 

Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit and ; war crimes through the abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in , , of ; crimes against humanity on the same grounds, including charges and membership in a criminal organization, the or leadership corps. But the highest ranking officials of the Nazi judicial system could not be tried.

 

Franz Gurtner, Minister of Justice since 1942 had committed suicide in 1946. Roland Freuler President of the People’s Court was killed in a bombing raid on Berlin. Gunther Volmer was killed in 1945.

Between 1941 and 1944 Germans deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories and from Axis Countries to ghettos often called Extermination Camps. There they were done to death in gas chambers. They moved these Jews by trains packing them like sardines. This continued up to the day the German forces unconditionally surrendered.

The Judge’s Trial was depicted in a movie shot in 1961, called “Judgement at Nurembrg”, with a star studded cast, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schelle, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift. These were some of the best known film stars of the era.

 

NEXT PART 2 TRIAL OF THE NAZI WAR CRIMINALS

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ROYAL COLLEGE CADET PLATOON 1980

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An extract from the book

“G R A T I T U D E”

By Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne

(Retired from Sri Lanka Navy) Former Chief of Defence Staff

The School Cadet Organization of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) was established in 1881 by Mr. John B Cull, the Principal of Royal College, Colombo 7. The idea of introducing Cadetting to Royal was to train the students on drill to make them disciplined and responsible. Mr. Cull believed that well trained and disciplined youth at school will later become more responsible citizens with leadership skills and eventually will be better prepared for success in life.

History says that about 320 Ceylon school cadets at the ages of 16 to 20 years had volunteered to fight alongside the Allied Forces in the Great War from 1914 to 1918. Royal, St Thomes, Trinity and Kingswood sent their cadets to war. The contingent was consist of Royalists – 88, Thomians – 86, Trinitians – 74 and Kingswoodians – 72.

Even though very limited records on Royal College Cadets available on participation in Great War, first Ceylonese Cadet to paid supreme sacrifice was young Royalist W E Speldewinde who was drowned when troop ship “Villa Dela Ciotat” was torpedoed by Germans and sank in Mediterranean Sea.

First Ceylonese cadet to win a military decoration for bravery and valour was Captain O J Robertson, who was awarded with Military Cross. Other Royalist recipients of Military Cross in World War I were Second Lt H E Speldewinde de Boer, Lt C W Nicholas and Second Lt J Robertson.

Almost 30 per cent of them had paid the supreme sacrifice for the British Crown and many had been severely wounded in action. In 1917, a District Judge in Badulla, Mr. Herman Loos had presented a Challenge trophy to be awarded to the best school cadet platoon in the Island. This was the beginning of the Herman Loos trophy competition for Cadetting in Sri Lanka, and it was first won by the Kingswood College, Kandy.

When we joined the Royal College Cadetting in the late 1970s, the Cadetting legacy of Royal College was reaching its 100th anniversary. I was a member of the 1980 Royal College Cadet platoon. Our Sergeant was Naeem Mahamoor. Lance Sergeant of our Platoon was Arosha Jayawickrama who was an outstanding cadet and the best Commander of junior Cadetting. Supun Hennayaka, C K Rajapaksa and I were the three senior Corporals. Later in our lives, Naeem went on to Airline Management and held high positions in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Arosha migrated to the USA soon after leaving the College. Supun became a well-known specialist medical Doctor in the country. CK and I joined the Armed Forces.

We were very fortunate that Lieutenant (NCC) H M Dharmaratne, came to Royal College in 1979 on a transfer from the Ananda Shastralaya, Kotte. He was a young and energetic Cadet Master who had brought several cadetting achievements to Ananda Shastralaya. Royal College finally had a very good Cadet Master. We began planning for our “Operation Herman Loos” at our Cadet room known as the ‘Armoury.’ Our ultimate goal was to win the prestigious Herman Loos trophy for the Best Cadet Platoon in Sri Lanka. We had our plan carefully reviewed and crafted by our Sergeant and Master in Charge. We knew that both the Commandant’s Test (which tested the First Aid knowledge and the Field craft & Map-reading test) offered 300 marks. All the other competitions namely ‘Hut Inspections’, ‘Squad Drill’, ‘Physical Training (PT)’, ‘Athletics’, and ‘Drama’ offered either 100 or 50 marks each. We also knew with past experiences that most of the other schools concentrate and spend much time in practicing and training of the Squad Drill and PT.

Instead of focusing a lot on training for the squad drill and PT, we spent more time in learning first aid, fieldcraft theories, and map reading. I, being a President’s Scout at the time was tasked with teaching first aid to the platoon.

Captain (then) Parakrama Pannipitiya, a distinguished old Royalist (who later rose to the rank of Major General) from Sri Lanka Army’s Sinha Regiment agreed to teach us field craft and map-reading during evenings and weekends. He was working at the Army Headquarters at the time. With these arrangements, we knew our knowledge on first aid, and field craft & map reading subjects would be much superior to other cadet platoons.

We boarded the train from Colombo Fort Railway station to travel to the Army camp at Boosa for our annual cadet camp and Herman Loos competition. Under the able leadership of our Sergeant Naeem Mahamoor, we were determined and confident that we could change cadetting at Royal that year. In the 99-year history of Herman Loos trophy, Royal College had won it just twice. That was in 1963 under Sergeant Weerakumar, and later in 1970 under Sergeant MR Moosa.

As expected, we won the Commandant’s test with a very high margin. Sri Lanka Army examiners were surprised by our performance and were very happy with our excellent knowledge. We also won the Hut Inspection and became second in place in the PT test. Those accomplishments helped us win the coveted Herman Loos trophy for the best Cadet Platoon in the country. Royal College won it after ten years and for the third time in 99 years.

The rest was history. Royal won the Herman Loos trophy again in 1981 under Sergeant Pradeep Edirisinghe (that was the centenary year of Cadetting at Royal), and again in 1982 under Sergeant H D Jayasinghe. Present Navy Commander Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenna was Member of College 1981 and 1982 Herman Loos Trophy winning platoons. Later he rose to the rank of regimental quartermaster Sergeant – (RQMS) of 3rd Battalion of NCC.

Mr. Dharmaratne was the Royal College Cadet Platoon Master in charge for all three years. Later he was promoted to the rank of Captain in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). Thank you, Sir, for your guidance and advice as the Master in Charge of Royal College Cadetting for a very long time.

When we look back and see what we achieved 40 years ago with a clear plan and well-executed strategy, and have a sense of pride and accomplishment. What Mr. Cull, the Principal of Royal College wanted to achieve by introducing Cadetting to Royal in 1881 has materialized.

“Long live Cadetting at Royal College!”

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Budget 2021 likely to worsen macroeconomic instability amidst COVID-19 pandemic

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By Prof. Sirimevan Colombage

The Budget Speech 2021 was presented at a time when the country is being severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP growth is projected to be down to negative 2 percent this year. Despite this economic setback, the government envisages to maintain an inclusive GDP growth rate of 6 percent per annum over the medium-term while containing inflation to around 5 percent, according to its macroeconomic programme, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.

 

Less emphasis on COVID-19

Given such optimistic targets, it is somewhat puzzling that the Budget Speech does not pay much attention to Covid-19 pandemic which has paralyzed virtually all economic activities by now. Reflecting mixed-up priorities, the Budget has given undue resource allocations at this difficult juncture to some arbitrarily selected projects such as urban townships, sports, road construction and walking paths, which have no direct relevance to revive the pandemic-hit economy, though they may have their own merits during normal times.

A coherent economic recovery strategy, apart from the fiscal and monetary stimulus already granted, is the need of the hour to revive the economy from the fallout. The pandemic has severe consequences on the Sri Lankan economy, which had already encountered multiple economic setbacks including low economic growth, fiscal disarrays, balance of payments deficits and foreign debt burden even prior to the health crisis. The pandemic has adversely affected the export sector, domestic production, inward remittances and distribution network. Poor households who are mostly working in the informal sector with irregular income sources have become extremely vulnerable in the present crisis situation.

 

Escalating fiscal imbalance

The budget deficit is projected to rise by 24 percent from Rs. 1,266 bn. (7.9 percent of GDP) in 2020 to Rs. 1,565 bn. (8.9 percent of GDP) in 2021, reflecting a severe deterioration of the fiscal position (Figure 1). It is expected that the total revenue would rise by 28 percent in 2021 as against 26 percent increase in total expenditure. Such exorbitant revenue growth cannot be expected for a single year even during normal times. The projected increase in revenue is said to be based on the assumption of 5 percent growth in GDP in 2021. This assumption seems to be over-optimistic considering the negative impact of COVID-19 in years to come, and the country’s limited growth potential experienced even before the outbreak of the pandemic. Slower GDP growth in 2021 means low level of government revenue, and consequent expansion of the budget deficit much higher than what is expected. Thus, the budget deficit is likely to be 10 percent of GDP or more in 2021.

 

Monetary implications of fiscal imbalance

With the rise in the budget deficit, the government is compelled to rely increasingly on the banking system to finance the deficit. Net bank credit to the government rose by 46 percent from Rs. 2,732 bn. in September 2019 to Rs.3.980 bn. in September 2020. The Central Bank has accommodated government finance requirements by directly purchasing Treasury Bills at primary auctions. The Central Bank’s net credit to the government rose by 50.8 percent from Rs. 383.2 bn. in September 2019 to Rs. 577.7 bn. in September 2020.

The monetary easing policy adopted by the Central Bank to relieve the households and businesses adversely affected by Covid-19 too accelerated the annual money growth from 7.4 percent in September 2019 to 19.2 percent in September 2020 (Figure 2). The monetary easing measures included sequential reductions of the policy interest rates and Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR), which led to inject substantial liquidity into the market, and to reduce borrowing costs significantly. Concessional credit schemes were also introduced to facilitate the activities of Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), alongside debt moratoria granted for businesses and individuals distressed by the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the annual growth of commercial bank credit to the private sector has remained stagnant around 5 percent reflecting the slow pick up of economic activities. In contrast, net commercial bank credit to the government rose by 44.9 percent in the 12-month period ending September 2020. In this background, the excessive money supply growth is bound to create demand pressures augmenting inflation and imports in the coming months.

 

Inflation-targeting monetary policy missing

Surprisingly, the Budget Speech does not make any reference to monetary policy which is vital in achieving macroeconomic stability, and sustaining economic growth. The Central Bank made concerted efforts about two years ago to launch the inflation-targeting monetary policy framework with the expectation of close coordination with fiscal authorities while regaining its independence. I categorically warned in these columns that such efforts would be suicidal for the Central Bank, unless the fiscal sector is aligned with such process committing to low budget deficits.

It is evident by now that inflation-targeting monetary policy is a remote possibility, as such policy is completely neglected not only by the fiscal authorities in the latest Budget Speech, but also by its architect, the Central Bank. Inflation-targeting monetary policy framework is not focused in the Central Bank’s publication, ‘Recent Economic Developments – Highlights of 2020 and Prospects for 2021’.

Understandably, it is not feasible to implement such rule-based policy amidst the current economic crisis, but the Central Bank should have displayed its long-term commitment to run the inflation-targeting monetary policy framework, which was declared with much grandeur not so long ago. That would strengthen the Central Bank’s independence, which is vital to operate monetary policy without undue political interference.

Demand pressures mounting

The easy monetary policy implemented by the Central Bank under the Presidential directive following the pandemic is unlikely to boost production activities significantly as expected, given the inherent weaknesses of enterprises, uncertain macroeconomic environment and imperative health-related precautionary measures imposed by the government including curfews, lockdowns and travel restrictions.

The global economic downturn resulting from the pandemic has dampening effects on the export sector. Further, business decisions in the private sector are mostly based on comparisons of the expected rate of return on investment vis-à-vis opportunity cost of investment. Interest rates represent the opportunity cost while expectations are influenced by many factors including macroeconomic economic environment, technological changes, exchange rate volatility, capacity utilization, export competitiveness, aggregate demand, fiscal stability, inflation, political stability, business confidence, and cost of production.

The present low interest rate environment encourages consumption, as savings yield low returns. Thus, low interest rates have negative effects on domestic savings. This is reflected in the downfall of domestic savings rate from 24.8 percent of GDP in the first half of 2019 to 20.8 percent in the corresponding period of 2020. Meanwhile, private consumption rose from 66.7 percent of GDP in the first half on 2019 to 70.5 percent in the same period of 2020. Given the low returns on savings, the surplus-fund holders tend to move to alternative assets such as commodities, real estate and risky financial instruments. Such fund diversions lead to distort investment decisions, and to create asset bubbles harming financial stability.

The rising consumption demand has spill-over effects on domestic production and imports exerting pressures on inflation and balance of payments deficits. Inflation, in addition to cheap credit, makes imports attractive and exports unprofitable, causing further deterioration of the trade balance. Unless the exchange rate is allowed to depreciate freely to achieve external equilibrium, import restrictions become imperative to avoid deterioration of the trade deficit. This type of inward-looking foreign trade policy seems to be the government’s policy choice at present, as can be evident from several import controls imposed in recent times. Although such measures are inevitable amidst the pandemic, it must be noted that they have adverse consequences on competitiveness, productivity and export-led growth in the long run. Hence, it is important to phase out import restrictions and to allow free trade.

Policy concerns

Given Sri Lanka’s long track record of low economic growth and macroeconomic imbalances, it is a major policy challenge to mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19. Budget 2021 does not contain any coherent policy strategy to overcome the crisis. The budget deficit in 2021 is likely to be much higher than what is given in the official projections due to inevitable revenue shortfalls and expenditure overruns amidst the pandemic. In financing the widening budget deficit, increased reliance on bank borrowings results in liquidity injections, and consequent pressures on the money supply, inflation and balance of payments. The import restrictions imposed recently to arrest the balance of payments deficit might give wrong signals to the market depressing outward-oriented growth. Meanwhile, recourse to foreign borrowings escalates the already heavy external debt burden.

The response of the private sector to monetary easing seems rather weak due to structural factors while cheap credit has tended to encourage extravagant consumption, speculative asset holdings and risky financial dealings. The neglect of inflation-targeting monetary policy launched by the Central Bank about two years ago is a matter of concern from the viewpoint of optimal monetary-fiscal policy mix. A systematic growth strategy, backed by a realistic macroeconomic framework, is essential to recover the economy.

(The author is Emeritus Professor in Economics at the Open University of Sri Lanka)

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Good news about vaccine

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Cassandra, like so many others of her ilk, has locked herself down and voluntarily shut herself in the confines of her home. Being of mature age, she does not fret at self-imposed stay-at-home-ness and actually finds plenty to do to occupy the alone-hours. Such persons also know they are abiding faithfully by medical guidelines. Most sally forth on walks, masked and all, and keep in contact with friends and relatives via electronic wonders and that old faithful – the telephone. It needs effort to stave off fears and bouts of sinking spirits, and at night a further boost is needed. But being essentially optimistic, such persons give praise to the Task Force that is battling COVID-19 night and day. Also greatly appreciated are many helpers who are available to shop and run errands for them. Those who had no time to chant pirit or be prayerful do so now, with benefit, for it sure ensures a nightmare free night’s sleep.

We refrain from political talk as we have heard it is dangerous. Hence too Cass’s disinfected Friday articles. We spoke free and criticized where criticism was due during the yahapalanaya regime. The then Prime Minister, Ranil W, took criticism, even barbs and insults in his stride so we felt free to write about government and matters thereof. But no longer.

Return of the respected and trusted voice, though no longer heard

One radiant shaft of sunlight however, shone through recently. Newspapers announced Dr Anil Jasinha was back in the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force, at meetings at least, though sadly not visible on TV. We do miss him as when he spoke to the public we listened with full confidence in him, and were inspired. This is not meant to insult or demean others who took his place, and advise us on TV, all dedicated medical men, but personality and that earnest sincerity that came through when Dr J spoke was missing. It is not only what is said, but how it is said and received that make for effective communication. We were very suspicious of the ‘kick up’ he was given to move from the Health Ministry to Environment. Welcome back, respected Dr Jasinha and we hope we will see you again making announcements over TV. You called a spade a spade and that we appreciate. We are sick of being fed euphemistic news; good tidings all round and reams about the good our government is doing for the ordinary men and women of this fair isle. Spoons of salt are inbibed! Enough of treating us like fools! That really is how many politicians treat us, while in most cases, the boot is on the other foot.

We who have family overseas have resigned ourselves to leaving this life without seeing them. Terribly tragic but true and realistic. We are thus doubly interested in the manufacture of vaccines – for their sakes more than ours; those vaccines that have been tested and proved effective. Not those released before full testing is completed. Skyping a person in the US, I commented the Pfizer vaccine would cost much. He said the government over there has promised free distribution. Sure that’s a promise of Biden and not the barnacle clinging onto his residence in the White House and swinging more and more his golf club. He should swing himself out; that way of exit of orangutans seems suitable.

 

The Oxford vaccine

I had intended writing about half Sri Lankan, half Indian Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy who, having started her education in Sri Lanka, completed her medical degrees in the United Kingdom, and is now world-renowned as a member of the pioneering team of the most widely accepted vaccine against the global outbreak of Covid-19: the Oxford University vaccine. However, we have read about her great contribution in local newspapers this last Sunday, so I mean to quote from an article in the UK Guardian sent me, about the leaders of that team.

“At the heart of Oxford’s effort to produce a Covid vaccine are half a dozen scientists who between them brought decades of experience to the challenge of designing, developing, manufacturing and trialling a safe vaccine at breakneck speed.

“Prof Sarah Gilbert, the Kettering-born (in Northamptonshire, England) project leader, arrived at Oxford in 1994 to work with Prof Adrian Hill, a senior member of the team, on the malaria parasite, plasmodium. She soon fell into work on experimental vaccines, starting with one that roused white blood cells to fight malaria, followed by a ‘universal’ flu vaccine. As a researcher at Oxford, she gained a no-nonsense reputation, which some attribute in part to her raising triplets, though her husband gave up work to parent them.

“Hill, an Irish vaccinologist described by the Lancet as having ‘silent steeliness’, was first into clinical trials with an Ebola vaccine based on the chimp virus during the 2014 outbreak in West Africa. He and Gilbert patented the technology and in 2016 co-founded Vaccitech, an Oxford spin-off, to capitalise on the research.

“Oxford’s coronavirus work is built on research pioneered by Hill and Gilbert on vaccines based on a virus that causes common colds in chimpanzees. The adenovirus could be rendered harmless and then modified to smuggle genetic material into human cells. The trick was to make that material the gene for a protein on the surface of a nasty virus, one the immune system could lock on to.” The operative word here is ‘raced’ since these admirable pioneers have produced a vaccine and tested it to 70% effectiveness, to undergo one other test ensuring 90%, within a year, while the development of vaccines and full testing usually takes over at least two years. Work on the Oxford vaccine started as early as February this year. So even we oldies of Free Sri Lanka have hopes of being vaccinated as the Oxford vaccine is so much cheaper and can be transported easily. Praise be and grateful thanks to pioneers who sure would have worked against the clock.

Interesting to know about these pioneers. Adrian Vivian Sinton Hill, Irish vaccinologist, aged 62, studied in Trinity College Dublin and then at Oxford, He is director of the Jenner Institute, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, Consultant Physician and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. More interestingly: married to Dr Sunetra Gupta.

And thus, thanks to these selfless pioneers, even we Third Worlders may have a vaccine against Covid 19 fairly soon. WHO will assist of course, as Bill Gates is doing in African States.

 

Slowly giving way but as yet mulish

Yes, that is the defeated Prez of the US, still ensconced in the White House while whiling his time on golf links and sacking VIPs of his government and insulting his successor. Trump has directed that the hand-over of the presidency be facilitated but keeps reiterating that he has not been defeated and will not concede defeat. Absolutely unbelievably, masses are still behind him, flag waving and vociferous with a few Republicans on his side, while many have agreed it is time he goes. I suppose he depended on the ‘Bad Boys’ or whoever who banded themselves just prior to the 2016 presidential election. They seem to have had their fangs shortened,

We are far removed from the US but it was heartening to watch as Biden named his team, most having served under President Obama, with a number of women included. Quite a few are second generation immigrants with one having a step father killed during the Hotocuast. One contrast between his team and Trumps, the latter disintegrating, is that all Biden’s team are slim and trim while Trump had many fat cats behind him. Appearances are also very important.

Mum’s the word with sealed lips on matters Sri Lankan, if they are political! One comment, however, has to be made. We saw on TV Arjuna Ranatunge and some other UNPers wanting Ranil W as the sole nominated UNP member in Parliament. Well and good, since Ranil W is an experienced, highly knowledgeable, cleverly debating, able Parliamentarian. What Cass wishes to comment on is how ole John Amaratunge presented himself to the TV camera on Monday 23, claiming he should be the nominated MP. He is an octogenarian – just made it being born in 1940 – but seems advanced in his three score and ten plus plus. He must be having a vitamin he takes for eternal springy (imagined/induced) vitality and verve! Never say die seems to be his motto after being once accused of sitting on the fence – UNPer given gift trip to the Vatican by the then SLFP government, accompanying Prez Mahinda R, no less!

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