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Prince Philip: Not-so-good side

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A cartoon of the Royal Couple that appeared in a British tabloid displaying with the Queen carrying a book titled ‘Eugenics’ and a remark made by the Prince.

by Parakrama Waidyanatha

The late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was an amiable man and much praise has been showered on him in the media following his death earlier this month. Regrettably, he missed ‘scoring his century’, which many expected, passing away a few months before reaching his hundredth birthday.

There has also been his ‘unpleasant side’. He was famous for making derogatory remarks about people and places, some of them being rude quips and jokes! In fact, a tabloid had listed some 90 of them, some of which are excruciating and derogatory! Let me just quote three. When visiting a London community, he apparently asked a group of women, “Who they sponge off”! On a visit to China, meeting a batch of English students studying there, he told one of them that if he stayed too long in China he might go home with “slitty eyes”! ‘Do you still throw spears at each other’ he had asked an official of aboriginal descent in Australia! Queen Elizabeth, too, has been known to make derogatory gaffes, witting or unwittingly. In fact, even a book titled ‘The Wicked Wit of Queen Elizabeth II’ is in print!

Prince Philip was made the President of the Worldwide Fund for Nature in 1961. In that very year he was reported to have slaughtered 39 tigers, 18 rhinos and four bears in a hunting spree in Nepal. He was known in his young days as the ‘trigger happy Prince’! The dead tiger shown in the picture was one of two, which some 200 beaters chased into a clearing where the Duke was perched on a wooden tower with his gun. The tiger he shot dead was taken to the Maharaja’s palace in Jaipur, where it was stuffed and shipped to the Windsor Castle for display! It is reported that he once remarked that he was not ‘killing but culling’! At the start of the 20th century, it is reported that India was home to 100,000 tigers, but the numbers rapidly crashed following independence in 1947. There are now a mere 3000 in the wild! Even at that time, the tiger hunt caused a furor both in India and Britain, but not heeded by the killers. Such wild tiger hunting is, of course, now totally prohibited.

It is reported that not only Prince Philip but Prince Charles and one of his sons, Prince William, are of the same trait! On one occasion the young Prince William procured a large collection of birds (parrots?), brought them to the Windsor Castle, released them, one by one, into the air and shot them in a shooting practice exercise!

 

Emblem of the Eugenicists

Before talking about Prince Philip, the eugenicist, it should be useful to enlighten the reader a little on the subject, as it is not known to many. Eugenics is a culture that believes in improving the human genetic traits by excluding individuals or groups thought to be genetically inferior, and promoting those identified to be superior. Plato (400 BC) apparently proposed the application of selective breeding for human populations. However, in current usage it is simple scientific racism or white supremacy! Although the concept dates back to the epoch of ancient Greece, the more recent emergence of it is in the 19th century, when a popular eugenic movement emerged in the U.K, and later spread to many European countries, and the U.S and Canada. Many countries too adopted eugenic policies hoping to improve the quality of their populations, by encouraging individuals deemed to be fit and intelligent to reproduce, and adopting negative means such as marriage prohibitions, forced sterilizations of unfit people with mental and physical weaknesses and also marginalising minority groups.

New impetus to the movement was provided by Francis Galton, a half cousin of Charles Darwin, misinterpreting Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution. Galton believed that desirable qualities in humans, animals and plants were mere hereditary traits, despite Darwin’s objections that his views were badly misinterpreted by his cousin! Soon after Darwin’s death, Galton labelled his research as eugenics, in which he implied that human character is entirely or mainly determined by genes, unaffected by education or environment! However, throughout human history eugenics has remained highly controversial!

Nazi Germany and the Holocaust boosted the eugenic movement. Many defendants of the 1945/46 Nuremberg trials, argued to justify their human rights abuses claiming that the Nazi and the U.S eugenics activities are comparable. However, following World War II, with growing human rights concerns, many began abandoning eugenic policies, but some countries, such as Canada, the U.S, and Sweden continued to carry out forced sterilizations. More recently, with new reproductive technology advancements, the possible revival of eugenics cannot be overruled.

In fact, eugenics has become an academic discipline in many colleges and universities with funding received from various organizations. Organizations were formed, seeking public support especially for eugenic values in parenthood. Two of the leading societies were the British Eugenics Education Society (1907) and the American Eugenics Society (1921). There were also three well attended international Eugenic Conferences in 1912, 1921 and 1932. Subsequently, the International Federation of Eugenics gave impetus to the movement and even created several research organizations. The Federation advocated sterilization laws and rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal! Its racist elements included the pursuit of the Nordic race and the Arian gene pool and eventual elimination of the unfit races.

Eugenics as a social movement reached its highest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. Many British parliamentarians, including Churchill, supported the philosophy. He believed that it could solve the race deterioration problem and reduce crime and poverty. Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean Prime Minister, too, promoted eugenics in the 1980s, attributing his success to genetics. He claimed that intelligence is 80 percent nature and 20 percent nurture!

However, in 2015 the UN took up the position that eugenics challenges the principle of human equality. The movement is still active, but secretively. Many, especially some very affluent and reputed people think that serious population control via eugenics is vital for sustainability as natural resources are rapidly dwindling.

The reputation of eugenics began to decline in the 1930s partly because it was used as justification for racial politics of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925. Eugenic practices at the time led to the Holocaust. Largely because of the association of eugenics with the latter, many began abandoning it.

Coming back to Prince Philip and his links with eugenics, he and the royalty in general covertly supported eugenics. For example, his remark ‘the bloody useless eaters, I say’ in the above cartoon apparently refers to his attitude towards poor African and Asian populace, whom he considers a threat to future global food security.

Finally, the BBC quoted the Prince that if he were to be reincarnated he would like to be born a deadly virus that can devastate 90 percent of the global population, probably implying that it will make available more resources for the elite to live comfortably!



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Opinion

Minister Gamini Lokuge’s damage to people’s health

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Two consecutive editorials, published in The Island on the 7 and 8 May, lambasted the despicable intervention of the Minister of Transport, Gamini Lokuge, for being instrumental in lifting the lockdown, in Piliyandala, against the advice of the health authorities.

A team of health officials, led by the MOH Piliyandala, backed by PHIs, and the DGHS, based on the recommendations of his officers, decided to lock down the Piliyandala town, as it had taken a turn for the worse, due to the rapid spread of the epidemic.

Minister Lokuge is reported to have admitted, at an interview with Hiru News, that he influenced the lifting of the lockdown in Piliyandala, and The Island, of May 10, highlighted the circumstances that led him to influence the lifting of the lockdown. The Minister accepted that he influenced the lifting of the lockdown for the sake of the daily wage earners, a claim which has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Close on the heels of the Minister’s arrogant countermand, a cluster of 138 patients was detected from the Piliyandala market.

A vendor collapsed in the market itself and his post-mortem proved that he was afflicted with the coronavirus.

The female MOH, who deserves to be praised for the adroit manner in which she has been performing duties in Piliyandala, said over the television that the cluster could have been averted, if the lockdown had not been lifted.

Hence, the Minister’s overzealous attempt to look after the livelihood of the daily wage earner, is certainly humbug, which cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

Readers would remember that the High Courts of Madras and Calcutta lambasted the Election Commission of India for their failure to ensure the recommended protocol meant for Covid-19, and openly said the ECI should be put on murder charges.

Could we reasonably expect that the authorities institute murder charges against the Minister, in the resplendent island, so that legislators, with bloated egos, could be reined in this hour of calamity.

Undoubtedly, idiotic action on the part of the Minister has endangered the precious lives of the people living in the Piliyandala area.

The childish manner in which the Minister responded to the questions, as reported by The Island correspondent, raises a number of issues. The foremost issue is whether he, as a senior Minister of the government, is capable of running an important Ministry, as he has messed up a vital epidemic issue, involving his own constituents.

Secondly, he has caused much embarrassment to the Commander of the Army and Head of the Presidential Task Force who has undertaking an arduous operation.

His argument that if the lifting of the lockdown was wrong then it should have been imposed again, is ridiculous.

All in all, what I could say is that the Minister’s high-handed intervention has left a bad taste in many a mouth, and it has caused an irrparable damage to the government at a time when its popularity is plummeting at a rapid pace.

 

RANASINGHE

Septuagenarian, Piliyandala

 

 

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Opinion

Glyphosate Reality:

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Non-science used as science

I have read with interest the article on “Science, Non-science and Nonsense” written by Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva in “The Island” of 11.3.2021. In this article “Dr. Sarath Gamini”, as he is popularly known in the medical circles, refers to me (without mentioning my name) and my research and a lecture given by me to the Sri Lanka Medical Association. This is my response to him, particularly, on the issue of glyphosate pesticide.

I take strong issue with Dr. Sarath Gamini’s erroneous characterisation of my research, related to glyphosates, and the categorization of the government decisions and policies related to the glyphosate pesticide. For clarity, let me reproduce the paragraph on glyphosate in toto from Dr. Sarath Gamini’s article, highlighting the area where he refers to me and my research:

“The campaign conducted blaming the weed killer glyphosate as a cause of the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin in the farming areas, mainly in the North Central province, was one burning issue then. There was no scientific evidence to prove this, despite the efforts of some professors in the medical field to find some. However, the importation of the chemical was banned mostly due to political expediency. One is not aware of any other country in the world doing so. When a visiting Sri Lankan expatriate doctor claiming to be a researcher in the field was asked, he could name only a small country, still contemplating doing so. He was lost for words to answer probing questions on the matter. His research has since been discredited in the USA. How the ban adversely affected the productivity in the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka has never been assessed or discussed.”

I am an American Board-Certified Occupational Medicine physician, and I have worked as a tenured full professor for over 34 years in the California State University, Long Beach, which is one of the largest and most respected university systems in the United States. Second, I have published more than a dozen peer reviewed scientific articles, and have given over 50 public lectures in relation to the toxic effects of glyphosate pesticide. Except for an unsigned petition sent by some disgruntled supporters of pesticides (the contents of which were found to be completely false) my research has never been discredited in the United States, or anywhere else. In fact, I won several awards for my research, including the Research Accomplishment of the Year award from my university, the prestigious “International Award” from the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association, and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility (SFR) Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (an award that I shared with Prof. Channa Jayasumana). By the same token. As far as I know, Dr. Sarath Gamini does not have a single publication related to the toxicity of glyphosate pesticide. I raise this issue because one of the conditions that Dr. Sarath Gamini has stipulated, throughout his article, is that one has to be knowledgeable and competent in order to be able to make comments on any issue, within medicine or any other scientific field. Does that apply to Dr. Sarath Gamini, on the issue of Glyphosate as well?

Now, to get on to the content, throughout the paragraph on glyphosate, Dr. Sarath Gamini makes an assertion that the ban on glyphosate pesticide was made without any scientific evidence and “mostly due to political expediency” and he says, “One is not aware of any other country in the world doing so (the ban)”. These statements clearly demonstrate Dr. Sarath Gamin’s ignorance on the subject. Let me state the following facts for his knowledge, as well as that of the general public.

Hundreds of scientific research studies have linked glyphosate not only to Chronic Kidney Disease but also to many other health conditions, including autism, birth defects, inflammatory bowel syndrome and liver diseases. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed the scientific evidence in a 2015 report and classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Glyphosate – brand name Roundup – is primarily associated with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), a cancer in the immune system. Following this determination, in October 2015, the first Roundup (Glyphosate) product liability lawsuit was filed against Monsanto in San Francisco District courts. In August 2018, a jury awarded $289 million in damages to the plaintiff – Dewayne Johnson – who is a former school groundskeeper for a California county school system when he developed NHL after spraying glyphosate regularly for several years. This amount was later reduced, during the appeals process. During this trial, evidence released by lawyers for the plaintiff tells an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation, collusion with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate. These documents provide a deeper understanding of the serious public health consequences of glyphosate, and the false advertising related to Monsanto’s conduct in marketing glyphosate.

In a second case, the jury awarded a staggering $2 billion in damages to a couple – Alva and Alberta Pilliod. In court proceedings, the Pilliods testified to using Roundup regularly, starting in 1982. The couple used the consumer version of the weedkiller, whose label lacked any warnings about covering skin or wearing protective masks. Following these successes in courts, more than 18000 cases have been filed by people who developed cancer after regularly spraying glyphosate. According to some legal reports, Bayer – the German company that bought Monsanto in 2016 – has formally submitted a $8 billion for a global settlement. In March 2020, Monsanto also agreed to pay $39.5 million as a settlement for falsely advertising Roundup is “safe” for people and pets. The settlement, which was filed in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, resolves allegations brought by several plaintiffs who claimed Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the health risks of glyphosate.

Following the lawsuits and the expert epidemiological evidence that was presented in courts, more than 20 countries have now banned, or restricted, the use of glyphosate. Although Monsanto’s new owner, Bayer, is fighting hard to limit these restrictions, the list is growing day by day. Some of these countries include Belgium, Denmark, France, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Mexico. There are many cities and institutions in the U.S., including, New York, Key West, Los Angeles, the Universities of California and Miami who have now regulations to restrict the use of Glyphosate-based pesticides. (For a complete list of these restrictions please see Where is Glyphosate Banned? | Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman (baumhedlundlaw.com)

In his article, Dr. Sarath Gamini describes the revocation of the ban on glyphosate for the use in tea and coconut cultivation as a “fortunate” one. In my mind, this was one of the most “unfortunate” Cabinet decisions for several reasons: First, this policy decision was taken without much scientific advice. There was an Expert Committee that was appointed to provide advice on this matter. I was invited as an expert to testify. However, two weeks before the hearings were scheduled, the Cabinet paper was approved hastily. The main argument put forward was that there was not enough of a labour force for the removal of weeds, manually. However, many weeds have now developed resistance to glyphosate, so that one has to use manual labour to complete the process of weed removal. Second, there is no tracking and post-marketing monitoring process available in Sri Lanka to ensure that this toxic pesticide does not end up in the hands of fruit and vegetable growers and in our food. Third, the regulatory costs of protective equipment, biomonitoring and the certification of the tea and coconut products to ensure that their glyphosate levels are within acceptable limits is costly – a cost that outweighs the benefits. By now it should be clear to the reader that I have a completely opposing view on glyphosate to that of Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva.

Furthermore, in this article Dr. Sarath Gamini describes how, over the past few years, we have seen many untruths, hypocrisy and myths being propagated by professionals misleading the ignorant public and creating social unrest and even violence. As examples, the author describes, among others, several recent incidents, including the alleged sterilization of women without consent in Kurunegala, the propagation of a questionable local medicine that was touted as a cure for Covid-19, and the issue of compulsory cremation of deaths due to Covid. I will not comment on any of these issues for two reasons: First, I was not present in the country when most of these incidents took place; Second, I have not studied the social and political dynamics, surrounding these incidents, and the policies.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to say this to Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva: Now that you have talked about glyphosate, please “walk the walk” and demonstrate that you have the expertise on the subject and that you know what the “established knowledge” is. Dr. Sarath Gemini’s view of the established knowledge on glyphosate is completely antithetical to that of mine. Therefore, I would like to invite Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva to a public debate about the toxicity of glyphosate and the appropriateness of using the pesticide in Sri Lanka agriculture.

Dr. SARATH GUNATILAKE

Professor, California State University, Long Beach, California

Diplomate, American Board of Occupational Medicine

Email – sarath.gunatilake@csulb.edu )

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Opinion

Mindset of Arts Graduates

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Hasini Lecamwasam’s article Why are Arts Graduates Unemployable (The Island of 11 May) is an excellent analysis of the topic.

For decades, our universities have turned out Arts Graduates, very well knowing that with most of the basic subjects offered by them, they become unemployable; but what have the authorities done to rectify this waste of government funds which could have been diverted to other educational areas?

In one way, it boils down to falling values, the objective of just obtaining a degree and being a “Upadhi Dharee” being the main purpose. I have come across this myself and have hands on exposure to this.

About a decade ago, the then Government approached some of the large business organisations (Just before a general election) and made an appeal for them to employ at least two graduates, under a special scheme, at a salary of Rs 6,000/= per month. The company I work for, also agreed to consider this, and informed the Ministry concerned accordingly. The Ministry had short listed 12 graduates for us and they were called for interviews. The company wanted me to interview them to see whether we could select two.

All the applicants were Arts Graduates, and seven were over the age of 35 years. Although all our company work is done in English, I made it a point to interview them in Sinhala, just to make them comfortable. All 12 applicants had some avenue of income and some of them were married. There was one who was looking after their own paddy lands (Govithan), another looking after their plots of tea and rubber, selling green leaf and latex, there were two who ran their family grocery shops and businesses, and one other female who had started a small shop (Kade) initially selling eight loaves of bread a day along with other items, and soon ending up selling over 40 loaves of bread and turning the business into a village grocery shop. The others also were engaged in some vocation.

I had one common question for them, that is; why do they want to give up what they were doing at their villages without improving them, and to come to Colombo and get boarded and work for a salary of Rs 6,000.00 per month? You will be surprised that they all had one common answer, ie “Mama Upaadhi Dhaariyek Ne” (Cos I am a degree holder.) My attempt to tell them that the salary would hardly be sufficient to pay for their boarding and food, and that it would be very much more sensible for them to improve what they were already doing, was like pouring water on a duck’s back. This was their mindset.

SARIPUTHRA

Colombo 05

Chief Financial Officer of a

Leading Group of Companies

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