Friday, November 7, 2008

Top US military official commends Sri Lanka’s war against LTTE

New York, Nov 6 (IANS) A top US military official Wednesday commended the Sri Lankan military for its recent successes against the Tamil Tigers, whom Washington has designated as a terrorist group.”We are hopeful that the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) would be a decreasingly important factor of much less reach than they are and have been in the past,” Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander of US Pacific Joint Command, told foreign correspondents in New York.

As head of the US Pacific Command, with its headquarters in Hawaii, Keating is responsible for the US military operation ranging from Australia and New Zealand to China, Taiwan and Japan to India and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka said early this week in Colombo that LTTE’s “80 percent” of the fighting capabilities have been eliminated. He also claimed that the Sri Lankan troops were just seven kilometers away from the Kilaly lagoon, which links northern Jaffna peninsula to the Wanni mainland along the western coast.

“We are very pleased the Sri Lankan Navy has been able to wage an increasingly effective campaign against the LTTE,” Keating said.

“We are assured and gratified by the progress that the Sri Lankan military is making, and I think, the Sri Lankan military would be the first to admit that there is work to be done.”

At the same time, Keating observed that the Sri Lankan military needed more capability and capacity to be successful in its endeavour to defeat the LTTE.

“I am confident the Sri Lankan military has very best intentions in the world (to defeat LTTE). Surely, they would like to have greater capability and capacity, but the progress they are making is commendable,” he said.

Budget at a glance

The price of a liter of Diesel will be reduced by Rs.30, Kerosene by Rs. 20 and Petrol by Rs.15, under the new budget proposals, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Parliament today. Accordingly there is a possibility of reducing the bus fair by 25%.

President also noted in his budget speech that the Cost of living allowance for Public servants is to be increased by Rs. 1000 and that of pensioners Rs. 560.

Meanwhile a 30% discount on electricity for those who consume less that 90 units and a 20% discount on water bills for those who consume less than 10 units have also been proposed.

The President said that the existing 6% mobile phone tax will be extended to landlines as well.

Valued Added Tax will also be reduced from 15% to 12%, VAT on liquor to remain at 20.

>> Full Budget Speech

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

'Change has come to America'

Obama to be first African-American president

Barack Obama told supporters that "change has come to America" as he claimed victory in a historic presidential election.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there," Obama said in Chicago, Illinois, before an estimated crowd of 125,000 people.

With Obama's projected win, he will become the first African-American to win the White House.

Obama had an overwhelming victory over Sen. John McCain, who pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead.

President-Elect Barack Obama's Victory Speech in Chicago

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bruce Fein Compares Sinhalese Buddhists to Hitler

By Stephen Long, Los Angeles

Bruce Fein has gone a wee bit too far this time. Just when we thought the former US Deputy Attorney General and Washington DC lobbyist/public relations mercenary was happily on to greener pastures representing the Turkish Government against its Kurdish rebels, he resurfaces today in defense of the LTTE with his most audacious accusations – using his most arrogant and insulting tone – ever.

In an incendiary, challenging letter to Dr. Subramanian Swamy, the President of the Janatha Party in Tamil Nadu, he writes: “Evidence is conclusive that Sinhalese Buddhists practice and celebrate a culture of genocide against any and all persons who differ in either ethnicity or religion…followed by a curtailment of food, medicine, education, shelter, and other humanitarian aid…schemes fueled by a Sinhalese-Buddhist supremacist philosophy constructed largely from the Mahavamsa and the creed of Dharmapala that deifies a racially pure Sinhalese Buddhist race just as Hitler saluted Aryan racial purity. Today, the culture of genocide found grisly expression in the club and knife attack launched by Sinhalese Buddhists against a Tamil family in the south while chanting, ‘All Tamils in Sri Lanka will be eliminated.’”

First of all, Bruce Fein is outright lying when he speaks in his letter of this club and knife attack, and tries to make it sound like it happened yesterday. If any such incident ever occurred it was undoubtedly back in 1983 when tensions and emotions unfortunately got the better of people and deadly riots broke out. The same thing happened here in Los Angeles with the riots in 1992. Hear this: there have been no recent documented attacks of this nature in Sri Lanka whatsoever.

Secondly, to challenge Dr. Swamy in such a way follows completely in line with the recent strategy of the LTTE as it crashes and burns. It has been implementing a last-ditch effort to try to stir up racial solidarity in Tamil Nadu as a way to get the Government of India to step in to stop the Sri Lankan war. This letter is a way to get back at Dr. Swamy for consistently and vehemently opposing the LTTE and strongly urging the Indian Government not to interfere at this time. Bruce Fein, your letter only proves that you are the LTTE puppet that you are. You had better watch yourself or you’ll have the Government of India chasing your Tiger’s tail for trying to incite racial hatred and foment a separatist revolution on its sovereign soil.

This is the same Bruce Fein, an attorney who represented three LTTE front organizations in the US and Canada this year. I guessed incorrectly when I thought he had stopped fighting for the LTTE when he moved on to the Turkish issue. I figured it was simply because they had offered him more money than donors from the Tamil Diaspora who had been paying his monthly $30,000 retainer fees. I also figured that by now the wealthy overseas Tamils had finally wised up to the fact that they had been duped and dumped by this creature of unmitigated greed.

Please note that before he joined any of the three Tamil organizations Bruce Fein once received $5,000 per month from a group of Sri Lankan patriots in Washington DC, and wrote articles for the Washington Times and other publications against the LTTE and in support of the Government of Sri Lanka. He told this group directly that if the Government would be willing to pay him a retainer of $5,000 per month he would continue to write and campaign in support of the Government. When the Government declined his offer he went over to the other side and became an advocate for the LTTE. Hence my endearing term for him: a Beltway prostitute, one of Washington’s finest.

By the way, for his new Turkish client he flipped back over in terms of his point of view. Now he advocates the exact opposite position he’s taken against the Government of Sri Lanka: he supports the Turkish Government’s right to defend itself against rebellious terrorists – while he outspokenly condemns the Sri Lankan Government’s right to defend itself against its terrorists – the LTTE. Can you believe it? He’s supporting both sides of the same issue working for two different clients: one a sovereign government, and one a terrorist group. What the hay? Morals, schmorals. Who cares as long as the money’s good? Besides, Mrs. Fein may want a new thoroughbred horse.

His latest PR gig (at least in terms of LTTE front organizations is concerned) is representing “Tamils Against Genocide,” whose mission is to convince the world that it is the intention and practice of the Sinhalese Buddhists majority in Sri Lanka to eradicate Tamils from the face of the earth. It seeks to haul the Defense Secretary, the President’s Senior Advisor, and the Military Commander in front of the world courts to stand trial for genocide.

Coming back to his comments in his letter to Dr. Swamy, he speaks so falsely of the Anagarika Dharmapala, and in such an insulting way, that Sri Lankans and Indians alike should cry “outrage!” The “creed of Dharmapala,” as you arrogantly refer to it, Mr. Bruce Fein, eventually led to both the Indian and the Sri Lankan independence movements. It was a creed based on the universal brotherhood of all humans – regardless of race, creed, caste, religion, or culture. Mahatma Gandhi was a close friend of Anagarika Dharmapala, and they worked together promoting their mutual creed of freedom and tolerance for all. Gandhi even declared himself a Buddhist through his relationship with Dharmapala – recognizing the fact that Hinduism and Buddhism were so closely related in history, culture, and spirit, and the fact that Buddhism was a philosophy of peace. Gandhi called the Buddha “a Hindu of Hindus.”

Anagarika Dharmapala was also the founder of the Maha Bodhi Society, which still has its headquarters in India. Dharmapala was mentored by an American, Col. Henry S. Olcott, who was co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Shortly after its inception Col. Olcott moved the TS headquarters from New York City to Adyar, near Madras, in Tamil Nadu. Dharmapala began his long ties with Tamils and Tamil Nadu at the age of twenty when he went with Olcott to live in Adyar, and worked tirelessly for the Society for many years. Anagarika Dharmapala maintained his ties with India for the rest of his life, and in his last will and testament he said that he wished to reborn an Indian in India in his next rebirth. In addition to Mahatma Gandhi, the Maha Bodhi Society was guided by many of India’s political and spiritual luminaries, including Nehru, Tagore, Radhakrishnan, Indira Gandhi, Rao, Shastri, Giri, and others.

For you, Mr. Fein, Esq., to refer to the, “creed of Dharmapala that deifies a racially pure Sinhalese Buddhist race just as Hitler saluted Aryan racial purity” is to desecrate the teaching and memory of one of the greatest peacemakers that ever lived. It has often been proposed that an “Anagarika Dharmapala Peace Prize” be established much along the same lines as the Nobel Peace Prize. How dare you! And besides, have you ever even read the Mahavamsa? I didn’t think so…

Tamils and Sinhalese have been living together in Sri Lanka in peace and harmony for a thousand years. They are still living together in peace and harmony in the South of Sri Lanka, and hopefully very soon will live that way in the North. Bruce Fein, you are making trouble in a land far away from your own home simply to line your own pockets. This is a grave offence, Bruce Fein, and according to the Buddhist philosophy you so disdain your karma is likely to suffer for eons. You bring pain suffering to many people, Bruce Fein, by promulgating your deceptions and lies. Indirectly or directly you are supporting the suicide bombers that have plagued Sri Lanka for twenty-five years.

To quote from the Buddha: “According to the seed that is sown, so is the fruit you reap. The doer of good will gather good result, the doer of evil reaps evil result. If you plant a good seed well, then you will enjoy the good fruits.”

Plant some good seeds for a change, Bruce Fein, and tell your wife she’ll have to do without a new horse – or at least wait until the Turks pay their bill.