Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Headlines you will not see

My post about child soldiers yesterday was partially out of frustration with BBC for their reporting style of Sri Lankan civil war.I'm Sinhalese who believe that Tamil minority have been wronged in the past and the way out is only through negotiations.I firmly believe that Tigers are terrosists and should be defeated but we have take into consideration the ground realities.I witnessed how the moderates had to get in line on get killed during '87-'90 era in the south. I sympathasize with the remaining Tamil moderates who try not to antagonize LTTE in the north .This post is not about LTTE ,GOSL or Karuna.It's about the actual "Third Party" in the Sri Lankan conflict ,international media.

BBC has changed the headline substantially from yesterday.(check the google cache for news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/south_asia/6144200.stm "S Lanka 'recruits child fighters'")
Sri Lankan government forces are recruiting child soldiers to fight against the Tamil Tiger rebels, the United Nations has said.
A senior UN official said the troops had been rounding up children to fight with the renegade Karuna rebel group.
(emphasis mine)
Let's assume you are a ordinary person who checks the international news of the day.What is your first impression?
Now it has been watered down(Sri Lanka youth 'seized to fight' ).
"Elements in the Sri Lankan military are helping a breakaway rebel faction to abduct children as soldiers to fight Tamil Tiger rebels, the UN has said"(emphasis is mine)

The damage is already done .Who gives a ---- about a third world country where this headline could make life miserable for a lot of people for a long period of time?

Let's apply the same standards for another conflict ,Iraq.We can take the headline today . Since Iraqi army ,which is mainly shia ,is recriuted and trained by USA and UK(as occupiers since it is their ultimate responsibility as well ) ,I took the liberty of writing the news for the BBC guys(and gals specialy Dumeetha Luthra,Frances Harrison) !

Headline : US government is training Iraqi kidnappers
US government forces are training Iraqi kidnappers to fight against militants , the United Nations has said.
Iraqi military and Police which is recruited ,trained and armed by US and UK is fighting a increasingly brutal war, today kidnapped 150 civilians.
About 20 of the abductees were released on Tuesday evening, while Iraqi officials suggested some 40 to 50 hostages remained in captivity.
However, figures varied substantially. Initial estimates suggested that more than 100 people had been seized, but that was later revised down.
A spokesman at the education ministry said about 70 people worked in the building, but there was no way of knowing who was in the building at the time.
The attackers,initaily trained and armed by US , stormed the education ministry's research department, locked women in a room and took the men away.
Correspondents say many Iraqis believe mass kidnappings like this latest incident are committed by members of the Shia Muslim-dominated security forces, or take place with their collusion. The security forces are trained and armed by US and UK security forces .
Such kidnappings are often for ransom, but many victims are subsequently found dead.

D.B.S.Jeyaraj does a fair round up I think.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Child Soldiers

The leading news in BBC website has been a UN report on Sri Lanka (1 hrs+).
But Allan Rock, a special adviser to the UN representative for children and armed conflict, said government forces had forcibly rounded up young Tamil children to fight with Col Karuna's group.
"We encountered both direct and indirect evidence of... complicity and participation," he said of the government security services

Who is Allen Rock?Is he this guy?
Allan Rock, PC, BA , LL.B (born August 30, 1947) is a lawyer and former Canadian politician and diplomat. He was Canada's ambassador to the United Nations (2004-2006) and had previously served in the Cabinet of Jean Chrétien, most notably as Justice Minister (1993-1997) and Health Minister (1997-2002).
"In his role as Minister of Justice, Rock was heavily involved in bringing about the Canadian gun registry. This program was plagued by massive cost overruns, and is rumoured to be one of the reasons for the failure of Rock's abortive leadership bid. However Rock's tenure as a federal cabinet minister was in general characterized by controversy ranging from the handling of compensation for victims of tainted blood donations to actions of his department in the Airbus affair (which ended in a public apology and $2,000,000 settlement to Brian Mulroney)."

Looks like Tigers are getting a "little help from their friends " in Canadian Liberal Party.

"Mr Rock said the fact that Sri Lankan troops were complicit in the recruitment of child soldiers meant that Tamil Tiger rebels would continue to do so, as it corroded the rule of law."
(Whoaha that's why they have been recruiting child solders all along! )

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sri Lankan Attitude

Kumar Sangakkara is writing a column at CricInfo. He is off to a great start touching the very essence of Sri Lankan experience, 'Attitude'. The column is about the recent success of the team and the attitude change that caused it.
I quote ...
"One of the huge conundrums with Sri Lanka's cricket has traditionally been the absence of the question "why?" We are generally spoon-fed from an early age. The senior players are expected to know best and you can easily get caught-up in a herd. Nobody thinks of how things can be changed. An intelligent, questioning attitude is quietly repressed. But to stay ahead you must diversify. What we need is a system from grassroots to the national team that is continuously evolving to make you better. We need to free minds. "
If you grow up in Sri Lanka and went to a Sri Lankan school and university ,you will have a first hand experience of the what Kumar mentions above .An "Intelligent Questioning Attitude " as Kumar mentions is not encouraged at all .It is usually the opposite that happens, the suppression of creativity and inquiry .
Teachers usually (there are exceptions) don't like inquiry since they sometime don't know what they are talking about. The rest of the students do not like the guy who is asking all the questions since they consider him to be a show off and a distraction from their note taking .So teachers stick to giving notes they themselves were given by their teachers .Student obediently take notes down ,memorize ,pass exams and become teachers themselves .The vicious circle continues.

There are some areas you wouldn't expect this to happen ,for instance Science and Engineering education . Hence the following anecdote I got from a really curious guy who has a very sharp mind in his field, working for an IT company .He happened to be in a design meeting with some Europeans and Sri Lankans .Both groups of members had the same background in academics and in technical experiance.A third party came to conduct a class on one of the hottest technologies at the time.He said he sat there in amazement of the quality and quantity of the questions the europeans asked.He wondered why we don't ask questions.Is it our culture?Is it our religion or is it simply that we are destined to be lazy ass third world consumers?

I have sat through my share of class room time and listening to Buddhist sermons(Bana) expousing the virtue of obeying your elders and teachers.Those sermons are good but is it good enough to come at the expense of suppressing free thought ,creativity and inquiry?

Take for instance the Guttila Jatakaya.(Recommended reading for O/Ls and you get some question in the exam ,too).Guttila ,the good guy teacher has been wronged by his student Moosila ,simply because he has surpassed him in his subject!For any other teacher that would be a compliment!Not for Guttila.Vettawe Thero ,the 15 th. Century teacher monk who wrote the set of poems based on the story was involved in a bitter power struggle with his own pupil ,Thotagamuwe Rahula Thero.So he gave an extra twist to the poems ,too. That is simply a single story out of many .Then in every sermon and class room session it is respect to elders and teachers that is emphasized over and over again ,not that much creativity and inquiry.

To be fair to Bikkhus ,I have sat through several Bana session where they emphasised the following section from Kalama Sutta.Probably it is time we stress it more and cultivate creativity and inquiry from pre-school level.
From Kalama Sutta

Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything (simply) because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conductive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.
Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya Vol. 1, 188-193 P.T.S. Ed.)

Nice clip of Kumar

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How the Tamil Ealam is run

The most common myth about LTTE run de-facto state is how it is run and funded.Most assume that Sri Lanka has cut off the LTTE controlled area and it is all out war against each other like two separate countries.
commentor context wanted me to provide the proof that government infrastructure is functioning inside Tiger controlled areas and the civil servants report both to LTTE and GOSL .In fact it is the GOSL government money that is running the essential services in those areas and it is Sri Lankan tax payer who will be paying the loans taken for rebuilding going on in the LTTE controlled area.

How the Sri Lankan Government is run.
This is a primer for the non-Sri Lankans.
GOSL consists of three branches .The executive (President and the cabinet),Legislative parliament and judiciary .Then there are 8 Provincial councils out of which the most importent one the merged North and East council is not functioning .
The Civil administration falls under the government ministries headed by a minister.For instance all the funds for education is channeled through Ministry of Education (duh!).They share the money with provincial council education departments as well as spending on the central government institution(some schools,teacher salaries,technical collages, universities etc..)

Civil administration is handled via Government Agents called GAs or Divisional secretariat (Ministry of home affairs) agents for each districts(24 districts) which has an elaborate bureaucracy.

What Areas are the under LTTE control?
2002 ceasefire agreement depends on the fact that there are LTTE controlled areas.(from LTTE )
Please check the map in Wikipedia
Districts in LTTE control are Killinochchi and Mullaithiv.
Then they control a big part of Vavuniya and Mannar as well as some small areas in Trincomalle,Batticolo and Ampara

How the LTTE administration is run.
LTTE is running a their own administration in the areas under their control.It includes police,courts,education and other civil functions.Of course the government doesn't pay salaries to LTTE judges and policeman but what about the others?
Let's take a simple example of paying a salary to a teacher in Kilinochchi.Government money ends up in the hand of the teacher via education director/principal appointed by the Govevrnment.Education director might report to both LTTE representative(LTTE education head) and his boss in Colombo.Same goes for other functioning things such as hospitals,social welfare (food stamps for the poor and displaced).

This article is from The Hindu . They are quoting SCOPP.It is a government agency but I wanted it to be the first quote since it shows enormity of the issue.Their deputy director who happnens to be a Tamil was killed recently.(check DBS Jeyaraj )

Then check the others.......................

Instead the visiting NDTV team was taken on a guided tour that only exposed the charade of a separate country, with Tamil Eelam district court, the Eelam police station and finally the Bank of Tamil Eelam.
On the surface, the bank seemed normal with customers busy taking loans and withdrawing cash, except that the bank used Sri Lankan currency and had only one other branch in the LTTE-held town of Mulativu.

UTHR(J) is an human rights organization which is critical of Government,LTTE and other paramilitaries. Here are several quotes.
Take some of its ramifications. At a regular meeting of principals in one district, a matter came up under any other business. It was reported that several principals had already received letters from the LTTE to collect 8% of the salaries paid to the staff to be handed over to them. The question put to the chairman was what should they do. The chairman who had a family to think about was being asked to decide for everyone. After a pause the chairman blurted out, “This situation may not last for more than a few months. Don’t add to your troubles needlessly.” Everywhere, the principals decided to surrender.

quote2 (This when LTTE controlled Jaffna 1990-95)
In fact, the LTTE has already vastly expanded its control. In Jaffna it virtually controls the Sri Lankan Police, administrators, local councils and educational officers. It controls schools and through the education department in Batticaloa has distributed portraits of Prabhakaran to be hung up in schools in lieu of the Head of State. The LTTE already has an army, navy, police, courts, administrative structures and prisons.

The distortions regarding VeerasingamÂ’s case in the LTTE media should alert us to something deeper. According to local sources Veerasingam had approached the Vavuniya Kacheri trying to defer a transfer order to an LTTE controlled area and had been severely warned by them. From our sources the murder has much to do with the LTTEÂ’s programme to appropriate the government administration. There being government controlled areas and LTTE controlled areas in the North, the LTTE by using its virtual control of the District Administrations or Kacheris could dictate transfers and get the lower level officials moved around, monitored and ensure they work the way they want them to work.

Controlling village headmen (GSs) is also to control the people. The government’s social welfare measures, ration cards, identity cards and voters’ lists are all routed through the headman. From the 1990s the LTTE has used the headmen under its control to police the people, force them to attend demonstrations, perform compulsory military service as auxiliaries, impose punitive cuts of rations, fiddle government aid and report on those coming in and going out. Veerasingam had no political connections. The LTTE evidently would not allow him to set a precedent to headmen who disliked taking instructions from them. The Sri Lanka government may pay them, but whoever wished to live must understand that there is only one ‘who must be obeyed’. The stakes are too high.

This is from Sangam (US tamil association pro LTTE) quoting Sunday Leader which is pro UNP and pro LTTE newpaper in south )SundayLeader from 2003
It mentions how the government agancies were run in 2003.Also note the 900 million A9 road rehabilitation project which is ADB funded.The money is a loan which needs to be payed back by the government (not LTTE).

This how the health infrastruture work work under LTTE
India donated money to Sri Lankan government which is running Killinochhi hospital.It's the government who pays the salaries and bears the cost .

This about the same hospital

Here is how LTTE opened the hospital with pomp and pagentry.
Check the news from LTTE's Tamil net to get the idea of the infrastructure.
Dr. K Nandakumar said the decision to build a hospital in Kilinochchi was made by a previous Kilinochchi district health services officer, Dr. Sathiamoorthy and the Government Agent (GA) Mr. Rasanayagam with a proposal for funding from ADB.

He requested the GA to make arrangements for medical specialists to make regular visits to the facility. Without the needed doctors patients have to suffer the inconvenience of travelling to the Jaffna General Hospital or to the Vavuniya Hospital. Ambulances are forced to make five to six trips a day, he said.

So who funded whole project ?

Who is paying back the money?
Please check the screen shot on the top or read the whole document.

LTTE administration is running the Sri Lankan government administration by the gun.Government has to bear costs ,pay salaries and pay back loans .LTTE gets to cut the ribbons.
I'm not trying paint a rosy picture here .Areas under LTTE is the least developed in sri lanka and has been neglected for decades.What I'm trying to say is all the money LTTE collects goes to buying arms while government has to prop up the LTTE administration with their money.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sri Lankans in Iraq?

Right after reading this article about an op-ed piece by Ted Koppel ,I came across this.
The story says...
American forces in Iraq have recruited former as well as serving military officers from many countries. The Sri Lankans thus recruited receive a monthly salary ranging from 300,000 to 500.000 rupees according to their ranks and are also entitled for a life insurance of 50 million rupees. Around 300 Sri Lankans are currently in Iraq under the US forces and some have returned home at the end of their contract periods.

A lot of guys from all around the world are going there to make some money.Good to hear that our guys got a piece of action ,too!Way to go Amarapala!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Forsaken Land will be released in US

Looks like Vimukthi Jayasundera's The Forsaken Land will be coming to town,soon.NYT movie critic Manohla Dargis is looking forward to seeing it.

Update 1:
Please check the mutlimedia presentation.There are two critics (A.O.Scott and Manohla Dargis) commenting on their picks for the summer.It is in Manohla Dragis commentary with a picture of Vimukthi.
About the actual release dates ,I couldn't find much.What I guess is it will do the art house circuit after July 21st.If it will be screened in NYC ,it will probably do the tour of rest of the major metropolitan areas.I will update this post again as soon as I find exact details .
(If it is only a single screening in NYC she would have mentioned it .Some distributor must have given her the details)

Update 2:
Manohla Dargis does Forsken land, again
'The Forsaken Land
Opens today in Astoria, Queens.
Written (in Sinhalese, with English subtitles) and directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara; director of photography, Channa Deshapriya; edited by Gisèle Rapp-Meichler; music by Nadeeka Guruge; produced by Philippe Avril; released by New Yorker Films. At the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria. Running time: 108 minutes. This film is not rated"

Friday, April 28, 2006

Aksharaya and Freedom of Expression

I am not a fan of Asoka Handagama.I have seen two of his stage dramas ,"Hena" and "Magatha".Both were propaganda pieces for JVP in late 80's ,if my memory serves me right .Then I have seen "Dunhinda Addara " tele-drama which basically was unwatchable but had to tolerate some episodes since there was only one TV at home.

After dramas and tele-dramas(!) Handagama decided to conquer cinema !I watched "Chanda Kinneri" at Regal cinema in a box suite ,making out with a bird the wholetime ,so I don't know what the hell went on.Partially, it was a personal protest against his mediocrity .On the other hand it was a necessity since I couldn't afford a hotel room at the time (The situation didn't go further than third base ).The film was hyped by most of the Sinhala film critics as the next best thing to sliced bread and pol sambol.

Then there was the case of "Me Mage Sandai".I happened to be in a particular US city when the international film festival of that city had two screenings of the film.I went to one screening with several friends .There were 8-9 people in the audiance ,out of which 6 were Sri Lankan.By this time Handagama has found the next issue after promoting JVP ,namely the ethnic conflict.I have no special sympathasies for Army or rogue Buddists monks but the film was simply unwatchable.All the super-partriots who shouted against it can sleep well since not many non - Sri Lankans saw the film.Also the people who saw it at the screening I was at , sarcastically laughed it off and left early.

Being true to himself by finding the most exploitable issue of the time,it was only matter of time that he came across "The Sri Lankan Homosexual".I haven't seen "Thani Thatuwen Piyabanna " but heard it was local "Boys Don't Cry" version.More power to him!

I brought up all the above to get to this point.I am not a fan of Asoka Handagama!period.He has released a new film called "Aksharaya".I 'm not sure whether I will watch it or not.I checked the website and trailers .It sounds OK.For chrissake let the bugger show his film to the Sri Lankan audiance!If there are any "questionable" material give it a rating .Let the people make up their own mind,eat kadala ,drink fanta ,makeout and write letters to the editor.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Did CPA plagiarize the Trinco Report ?

Blogger sittingnut's analysis of the Trincomalee riots report raises some valid questions .As a member of Sri Lankan civil society , I would like Center for Policy Alternatives to clear things up.I would also like to know more about the procedures for press releases and method of including signatories names in press releases in light of the comment made by Dr.Laksiri Fernando in the community blog Moju.

Additionaly, it would be great if you could update us on the response time of the Sri Lankan security forces and rest of the world situations in similar conditions.(example :US ,Los Angeles and Cincinnati riots from recent history .Then riots in France as well as other countries including India)

e-mail sent to :cpa[at]cpalanka[dot]org

Update :
A detailed analysis from Sittingnut .

Monday, March 06, 2006


This blog has been inactive for some time and I thought of blegging for something in this post.If you have a little bit of free time and have some reasonable awareness of Sri Lankan politics,culture and arts please consider updating Wikipedia .

When Ivap asked me about Jaathika Chinthanaya ,I guessed there might be a short history I can point to on the web.Bad guess!I checked Wikipedia and realized that it might be better to update it due to the collaborative nature of the project.The plan was to create biographical sketches of Nalin De Silva and Gunadasa Amerasekara first and then move to minor players like Sooriya Gunasekera,S.L. Gunesekara ,Champika Ranawaka etc.. ,later .Looks like it is not so easy!When it comes to Sri Lankan info ,obviously Wikipedia has lot's of gaps and I started on what I thought was a good place ,"Sri Lankan literature ". Lohan did some additions ,too.I was also suprised to find that Romesh Gunasekara doesn't have an entry !

For instance ,categories like Sri Lankan Politicians ,Sri Lankan musicians, acters and Sri Lankan writers needs lot's of work but Sri Lankan cricketers and broadcasters seems to have reasonable content(go figure !).I'm still learning the basics .I created a Wikpedia Collaboration and would love to have some help .Larger the number of people joining in ,better the content will be.

All the bored geeks in Colombo ,unleash your fury!
Yes, all 4 of you guys! ;-))

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Ivap has a post on Trincomalee student murders.Just have to add that it's damn time that criminals among security forces be brought to justice.So many incidents (88-90,Bindunewewa ,Krishanthi Kumaraswamy and numerous atrocities in North and South) and nobody has been punished for any of the crimes.Anybody remember (or heard about )Premawathie Manamperi incident during 1971 insurgency ,and how the murderers were brought to justice?

Coming back to the post I was going to write ,it's highways as usual .Check this in Asian tribune.Practically these guys are begging for decent roads.
According to Gretian Gunawardana , Chairman of Hands group said that they need a better transportation network to carry out their normal operations without wasting time.“If our international buyers need to check our products they have to waste more than four to five hours to visit the factories in the rural areas.
If you summerise what they are saying,it will be "We don't need tax breaks and we don't need textile quota.Please give us a good road system.We can compete in international market".
I checked the progress of all the highways projects in the ministry web site.It's seems that they are planning on speeding up southern highway but the documents and excel sheets doesn't say much.It might be 2015 when we have at least the basic system of higways connecting Colombo Matara,kandy and airport.This is the road system we should have built in 70's or 80's!

Here is a simple plan.Put all the resources into one highway and finishing it ASAP to show the country how it can turn the things around.People will be demanding that their regions be connected within 6 months of completion of one highway.
Take for example the southern expressway.
1.Galle and Matara will be practically suburbs of Colombo.
2.Number of of industries will be starting up close to the exits of the highway which are currently underdeveloped and have very limited job oppertunites.
3.Tourism in deeper parts of South will boom.
4.Better prices and market access to the agricultural products from South and Uva .

Finish the damn thing as soon as possible.
Within six months people will be protesting about the slow pace of other projects(Kandy ,Anuradhapura etc..)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Constitution Blues

I ain't no constitoosion scholar.
We had both 1972 and 1978 constitutions at home when I was a kid.I never bothered reading them ,and it bored me to death when I tried.On the other hand I actively seeked out the US constitution recently.I just had to compare both preambles to see the superiority of a document that was drafted more than 200 hundred years ago(ammended 27 times) to a one that is only 27 years old(amended 17 times).
My sudden interest in the constitution was partially due to several articles (0,1 ,2,3)by Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe . It is inevitable that we have to make some changes to the constitution within next couple of years.Why ?There could be 3 possible outcomes from current chaos.
1.Establishment of Ealam
2.A settement with power sharing
3 No war -No peace current situation continuing for ever.
Since possiblity 3 is highly unlikely it will be either first or second option. In either case there will be some changes to the way we will be governed.So I thought of listing what I would like to see in the new constitution.
Seperation of Temple(Church,Mosque) and State completely.No prefered status to any religion.

(I was planning to write a post about this, specially about a column I saw in Lakbima by Champika Ranawaka on what happened during last Diyawadena Nilame race )

2. Executive Presidential system is good .Keep it.

(In a multi ethnic society, it is healthy to have the executive elected by all the communities rather than leader of a party who represent one electrorate).

3.Seperation of Executive branch ,Legislature and Judiciary for real.

For instance have a fixed number of cabinent position and let the president appoint them from outside parliament.If they are in the parliament, they have to resign.I think prof .Wijesinghe suggestd this in one of the articles as well.IMO the best thing about this that it will reduce the cronyism a little bit .Another plus is government pork going only to a handful of areas depending on whether you have a powerful minister as your MP will stop.Since the president can look outside the parliament may be he can get real talent to run important ministries.

4.Let's have a Senate or a house of lords (or whatever it is called.How about council of elders?).

Professor also suggests this.We can limit the number to 50 like he says.I think he comes with a model of 7 members to represent each province.What about 2 members for each district for senate and we go back to the old model of 1 member one seat in the parliament and cut down 225 to a reasonable number. We had a senate earlier .It was scrapped in 1972 I think.Social studies text books (year 10 ,11) teaches that having a Senate is not good democracy and I thought that for sometime ,too.A senate could act like a control mecanism for parliamnet and we can get real diversity (close to 60-40 majority-minority) in the numbers.(For instance if we go by district model we will probably have Tamil /Muslim members from Jaffna2,Killinochchi2,Vauniya 1,Mannar 2,Mullative 2,Trincomalee 2,Batticalo 2 ,Ampara 1,Puttlam 1,Colombo 1 ,N'Eliya 1,Badulla 1,May be one or two Muslim/Tamil members from the rest of the districts which put the number close to 20 out of 50) .For every piece of law passed,there should be majority of 2/3 from senate so that any legislation that is unfair to minorities passed by parliamnet can be stopped . (if that some sounds unfair, some clever mechanism should be deviced so that the majority cannot abuse power)

5.Independent Police ,Election(we already have one) and Civil Service commisions.Also a fixed date for elections so that no astrologer cannot pull the date out of his ass.

If the above sounds a lot similar to US system ,you bet it is.What we need is a secular document with good check and balances.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Holy Oil in Senate

Kudos to Sittingnut for the great post on the conduct of Sri Lankan armed forces and police.

Although I'm little bit pressed for time these days ,This great news seems hard to let go .
"Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday
Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name."

Anybody remember how the impeachment of president Premadasa played out ?It was said that the President brought in an indian "Poosari" (or whoever) and cast a spell on Parliament and annointed some oil on the seats so that anybody who sit on them couldn't vote against him!It was "pig's oil" or "Uuru Thel" in Sinhala. I don't know the proper term in English.It is said that this mysterious oil is distilled from pork.(I guess he was chanting some mantras while he was brewing it) .The gossip columns of Ravaya ,Yukthiya and other Sinahala papers carried the juicy story.
To break the spell ,the opposition leader Sirimao Bandaranayake brought in a small vial of " pirith pan" (Buddhist holy water) to the parliament .It looks like "Uuru thel" was more powerful than the holy water.The impeachment was stopped just before it was taken for a vote.I don't know how the speaker of the parliament M.H.Mohammed ,a devout muslim and the main player in the whole saga, reacted to the pork story.

Take that America !
We did it 13 years ago!
That's so 90's!

Senator Pat Leahy ,please contact Sri Lankan embassy for details on the great spell busting oil.