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Ban Ki-moon Should Reject the Report of the Panel on Sri Lanka and Restore Confidence in the UN

An analysis of notices published by the UN Panel of Experts (POE) calling for submissions and email correspondence this writer has had wit...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Blind Boy

I have little interest in most of the trivia that are circulated by friends and colleagues and end up in my inbox. Occasionally though, I must admit there are gems. Here's one that I received today which I guess would be appreciated by many, but particularly those in the media and humanitarian sectors. Thanks Charika.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blind, please help." There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way. "What he had written was: "Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it."

Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing?
Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.

Invite others towards good with wisdom. Live life with no excuse and love with no regrets. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear.

Great men say, "Life has to be an incessant process of repair and reconstruction, of discarding evil and developing goodness…. In the journey of life, if you want to travel without fear, you must have the ticket of a good conscience."

The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling… And even more beautiful is, knowing that you are the reason behind it!!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Floods cause humanitarian crisis in South Asia

Heavy monsoonal rains have triggered a humanitarian crisis in south asia. India is so far the worst hit with at least 2 million people reportedly displaced. Television reports showed Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh speaking to journalists following an aerial survey of flood affected regions with Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi. The floods are reported to be India's worst in half a century. BBC News reported that the Prime Minister has described the floods in Bihar as a 'national calamity' and released an aid package worth $ 230 million.

Other countries affected are Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The situation has worsened with initial relief efforts proving inadequate due to the large scale flooding of areas not normally prone to floods. The disaster followed a breach in the banks of the Kosi river which originates in Nepal and Tibet and flows down to the Ganges river in India. The Kosi river has reportedly shifted 120 km in the past 250 years.


IFRC Information Bulletin August 14, 2008

UN Nepal Information Platform

Indian Red Cross Society Flood Situation Weekly Update

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Etihad to be main codeshare partner of SriLankan Airlines

Etihad Airlines will be made the main codeshare partner of SriLankan Airlines, Lanka Business Online reported today. Read all about it here ...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Running the media race?

Is the competition in the mainstream media worldwide causing a drop in standards? I’m beginning to think so. Look at the coverage of some recent events.

Georgia vs. Russia. Who invaded and who acted in self defence? Many TV reports carried voice-cuts from persons identified as victims. Local officials and persons with authority in the regions were conspicuously absent. It is however possible that they were not available. Even with a multitude of reporters seemingly camping out at every checkpoint in Georgia, the picture is still hazy.

Plane crash in Madrid. Unsubstantiated figures were being quoted for at least a day before the government figure of nineteen survivors was given. Why the rush to quote a figure before it is authoritatively known. Competition no doubt.

Right now it’s the Obama VP. Who will it be? Speculation is rife. Free Press calls it ‘what passes for big time political journalism’. Read all about it here …

Monday, August 18, 2008

UAE Web Awards Entry Deadline Extended

The UAE Web Awards Committee has extended the deadline for entries till 30th September 2008. An announcement posted on its website states, ‘Due to a large number of requests to extend the period of web submissions because of Summer Holidays and Month of Ramdan Al Moubarak, the UAE Web Awards Committee decided to extend the registration date till 30th September 2008’.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are human beings becoming irrelevant?

The four-day war between Georgian and Russian forces has highlighted the challenges faced by the media as well as the great influence the media has in shaping world events. Unfortunately, the way the world events are shaping, human beings may no longer be relevant.

On August 8th as the world was excited about the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing came the breaking news about Georgia; the eruption of fighting between Russian and Georgian forces in south Ossettia.

Live footage of the opening of the Olympics showed several world leaders including US President George Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the audience at Beijing’s Birds Nest Stadium. As the story unfolded in the next days, the CNN and BBC portrayed the conflict as a Russian invasion of Georgia. Al Jazeera however, put it in context as a brutal Russian over-reaction to a Georgian adventure in Ossettia.

Even after Tuesday’s (August 12) declaration by the Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that he had ordered a halt to the military operations and a defiant speech by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at a rally in Tbilisi that Georgia was withdrawing from the CIS, it was still unclear as to who pulled the trigger first and whether offensive operations had indeed ceased.

Reports aired by CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera suggested that the civilian and military casualties could be high. The damage to property and the displacement of the population in the conflict areas in Georgia appear to be considerable.

The UN Security Council which debated the issue struggled and failed to even come out with a statement on the issue. The Official communiqué of the 5954th (closed) meeting of the Security Council is testimony to how ineffective it is in dealing with problems such as the conflict in Georgia. Although the permanent members of the UN Security Council have veto powers, they represent only 30% of the world population at the figures for the year 2000 carried on the UN website.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that both Russia and Georgia were armed not just with guns but with PR Agencies, and the battle was one to win hearts and minds both in the respective countries and beyond.

In the reporting of modern conflicts the who, why, what, when, where and how seem to be a huge gray area where the audience has to separate the facts from the spin.

Thomas Meaney and Harris Mylonas writing in Australia’s The Age could be closer to the truth in trying to analyse the reasons for the intensity of the conflict in Georgia.

It's clear that Mr Putin considers this payback time, not only for Georgia, Russia's meddlesome neighbour to the south, but also for President George Bush.

In February, Mr Bush and most leaders in Europe backed the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, which Mr Putin vociferously opposed. At the time US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave the assurance that "Kosovo cannot be seen as precedent for any other situation in the world today"

Was Kosovo the only thorn in Russia’s side? The writing has certainly been on the wall that something was waiting to happen. CNN has published an AP report on July 8, of a Russian Foreign Ministry statement:

Russia will be forced to make a military response if a U.S.-Czech Republic missile defense agreement is ratified, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Nobody appears to have taken Russia seriously even though according to the US State Department’s website President Saakashvili in the presence of Secretary of State Rice is reported to have said this about Russia in Tbilisi on July 10:

Now what is the motivation? What’s the way – the Russians have been explaining this publicly as well as privately to us. This is their reaction to NATO expansion plans. This is their reaction to the independence of Kosovo. And this is their reaction to increasing U.S. presence here in the region. Looks like some people have not noticed that the Cold War is over.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disclosed at a Press Conference in Moscow August 12, that discussions had been going on with the US Secretary of State and others to avoid the confrontation for several days before it began, including the day before the confrontation erupted.

President Bush and Prime Minister Putin were both at the Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics as the death and destruction was beginning in South Ossettia. Could they not have discussed among themselves and prevented the unnecessary death, suffering and destruction that occurred? Was the EU unaware that there was an explosive situation in its backyard?

Or are we at an age when diplomacy is no longer relevant and only high-tech arms, ammunition and a grand super-power world order takes precedence over human beings?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Careful about those text messages you send!

A Sri Lankan court has ruled that text messages from mobile phones are admissible as evidence in court cases according to a report in the local Sunday Times.

Although the case relates to a money transaction the newspaper has speculated on the possibility of the ruling having a long-term effect on court cases arising from broken relationships. Anyone know of any such situation around the world? Read Full story.

Olympic swimmers glide through the water in swimsuits made in Sri Lanka

Stretchline Holdings, part of MAS Holdings Group, is taking Sri Lanka into the international limelight, as two of its innovations have been instrumental in the development of the world’s fastest swimsuit -- the Speedo LZR Racer. This cutting edge creation is all about reducing drag in the water, and the key to the success of the suit are two very unique products developed solely by Stretchline -- stay4sure and Bondelast, according to a company spokesman, the Sunday Times published in Colombo reported today.

In an exclusive to The Sunday Times FT, Timothy Speldewinde, CEO of Stretchline Holdings said his company is “proud to be a part of this amazing partnership bonded together for Olympian heights.” Mr Speldewinde, a Sri Lankan national swimmer of repute in the late 1970s, said it is “also a proud day for Sri Lanka with this innovative creation.”

The company spokesman said that since the launch of the Speedo LZR Racer in February this year, swimmers have broken 52 world records while wearing it. “There will be more records broken at the Games with the help of the speediest-ever swimsuit in which Sri Lanka is a part of,” he said. Sri Lanka is competing in eight sports with Daniel Lee and Mayumi Raheem being the swimmers on the team. However the duo is not among the Speedo-sponsored swimmers though they are mostly likely to be attired in a Speedo swimsuit, like many other swimmers taking part.

Speedo is arguably the world’s largest swimsuit manufacturer and is sponsoring over 30 athletes from eight countries including the likes of Emily Seebohm and Grant Hackett from Australia and Phelps and Dara Torres from the US, the report added. Read the full story.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

That a nose view mirror?

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Plenty of water in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka: View from seaplane

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Is this control working okay?

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Graffiti in Sinhala: Tsunami, what wrong have we done?

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Awareness programme for government employees on registration of tsunami affected persons

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Awareness programme for government employees on registration of tsunami affected persons

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Mobile digital registration of tsunami affected in Sri Lanka

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External view of digital registration bus

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Mobile digital registration of tsunami affected in Sri Lanka

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The Burj Dubai reaches for the sky

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Who's complaining of traffic in Dubai?

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Dubai sunset

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Toddy tapper in Sri Lanka

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The Games Begin in Beijing

China staged the world's most glittering and glamourous spectacle to open the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing, Friday night. The show involved an excellent blend of high-tech digital displays, pyrotechnics and logistics with the grace and precision of the country's most famous gymnasts to an audience of nearly one hundred thousand people at the purpose-built Birds Nest Olympic Stadium in the presence of some of the top leaders of the world. Movie projection, laser lighting and flawless choreography fused together beutifully in a four-hour long presentation that began at 08:08 PM China time on 08/08/08. The highlight of the spectacular show was the dramatic lighting of the Olympic Torch. 'Li Ning, who as a gymnast [and] stunned the world with gravity-defying turns and somersaults, lit the Olympic cauldron after "space-walking" over the heads of 91,000 spectators at the National Stadium on Friday night,' reported China's Offical News Agency Xinhua in a story published in China's offical Olympic Games Website. That certainly was an awesome spectacle.

The BBC which had a team anchored by Mishal Husain and CNN which had a team anchored by Anjali Rao were disappointing in their lack of coverage of the opening ceremony from within the Birds Nest Stadium. In fact, anchors and newscasters of the two channels seemed totally unaware of the proceedings within, even as they were being broadcast live by others. This was despite the fact that a multitude of heads of state were in the audience including US President George Bush, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, to name just a few.

Hats off to Dubai Sports for showing the entire four-hour ceremony live.

The Medal Tally The latest Sports News Olympic Screensavers & Wallpapers See Who's at the Olympics Olympics Photo Gallery Media Operations UAE NOC

In Words

Loved and mentored by parents with values and discipline and a passion for good English; guided by teachers who wouldn't spare the rod to ensure excellence; copywriter; on-line journalist; editor-in-chief; and at long last, giving into the passion; Freelance Writer.

Nurtured in advertising and PR from freelance copywriter to account director and agency head; engaged throughout to humanitarian work in NGOs including the Red Cross and the UNDP; and experienced in both public and private sectors.

Looking forward to a future of writing on diverse subjects; sharing knowledge and experience; enriching the lives of others; but most of all, acquiring more knowledge and using it to make the world a better place for all.

More of my writing:
* Fuelling the Peace Process * Concepts for decentralisation of government * PEACE: Is it still an elusive dream? * Interview with the late Major General Trond Furuhovde first Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission * How polar bears are affected by global warming * Red Cross takes lead in clean water for Sri Lanka flood victims * The poorest hardest hit by Sri Lanka floods *