Tuesday, June 3, 2008

News Updates

I have the perfect story for how crazy this country is: we just imported rice from...wait for it...Myanmar. Yep that is right; sure they just suffered a horrible cyclone, which many experts are saying was actually more devastating than the 2004 tsunami, but Sri Lanka made them keep their commitment to send us rice. And Sri Lanka doesn't technically have a rice shortage, just so you know. We just want to force some rice into the market to deal with all the people hoarding right now.

Since I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to update you on other crazy bits of news coming out of this country. For instance a Sri Lankan journalist was "hacked to death" in Jaffna. All of the media that reported this story used the word "hacked."

There have been several bombings recently, but most disturbing was a bomb on the train in Dehiwala. This is our closest train station. There goes my belief that the train is safe (and thus any plans to go to Nuwara Eliya anytime soon). The train station in Fort is often a target, but this was the first train to be bombed. Nine people died.

In natural disaster news, we've had a lot of rain lately. This is actually monsoon season, so I'm not sure if this is a lot more rain than normal, but it is causing flooding and upsetting the low-country tea crop. Since we already had a bad rice crop due to unseasonable rains a few months ago, having a bad tea crop would mean disaster for Sri Lanka. They say right now it isn't a huge problem, but if the rain continues it will be. Another report said we can expect rain for a few more days.

Which brings us to the economy. Sri Lanka just raised train rates by 90 percent. O.k. the minimum fare is doubled and the price per kilometer has gone up 90 percent to be more accurate. While we are discussing the economy I'll just mention here that inflation hit 26.2 percent in May. Is it any wonder why I'm always complaining about money here?

In energy news, the government has banned the use of light bulbs over 75 watts.

Finally the big news here is that Sri Lanka lost its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Somehow Sri Lanka was surprised they lost their bid, despite at least a year of people complaining about Sri Lanka's human rights abuses.

So that's what is going on here. It has rained for about three, maybe four, days straight. Barbara, who is technically a housemate at this point (she has been here for about two months), is leaving soon. Luckily she just got dengue (I've diagnosed her) so she has to stay a bit longer than she had planned. Hopefully I don't catch it.

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