10th September,  2006  Volume 13, Issue 9

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Lankan duo in search of world fame

By Kshanika Argent

Over 100 women from around the world will vie for the most cherished beauty crown - the  56th Miss World Pageant 2006.  The glitzy pageant is to be  beamed globally to an expected audience of up to two billion people on September 30 from Warsaw, Poland.....


Review more articles

 > Hearts afire in a wooden house

 > Kate and Chelsy: Princesses-in-waiting?

 > Saving lives a priority issue

 > Remembering September 11

 > Cancer  is common among meat eaters

 > Individuals and literature

Lankan duo in search of world fame

Shibani and Danniele for Mr. World and Miss World, 2006

By Kshanika Argent

Over 100 women from around the world will vie for the most cherished beauty crown - the  56th Miss World Pageant 2006.  The glitzy pageant is to be  beamed globally to an expected audience of up to two billion people on September 30 from Warsaw, Poland.

The Miss World Pageant is said to be only second to the Olympics in terms of nations that participate. 

This year, 18 year old model Rapthi Raffella Dannielle Kerkoven has been selected to represent Sri Lanka, while 19 year old popular model, Shibani Shaban Basiron will be representing Sri Lanka in the Mr. World pageant which is due to be held in November this year in Sanya, China. 

Local supporters of the event include Glow Skincare, SriLankan Airlines and Swiss International Airlines.

Record number

The selection was carried out by Ceylon Tours Ltd., the franchise holder for Miss World Limited, UK and the Mr. World Pageant.

For the first time a record 80 countries will be competing in the search to find the world's most desirable man. And the estimated global TV audience for this event is in excess of 1 billion people. Around 20 days of pre-filming will take place and added to all this, in the final week there will be a glittering  finale.

This is the first time that Sri Lanka is participating in the Mr. World pageant. Speaking to The Sunday Leader on his future plans, Shibani says he intends  becoming a successful corporate lawyer. He is also currently working on a project that will help kids suffering from cancer.

On his hobbies, Shibani says, "I love to sing and dance - especially Latin American. I also love modelling, and reading books about health and the values of life. I play basketball as well."

The 6'1" handsome young model has taken part in the second Footwork International Championships in 2005 in the Latin section which was held at the Cinnamon Grand Ballroom.

Born and bred in Colombo, Dannielle has completed her education with a diploma in airline ticketing and reservations, and is currently studying fashion design and works as a professional model.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader on how she felt about the event, Dannielle said, "It feels great being chosen to represent Sri Lanka. It's a once in a lifetime chance and my first time in a beauty pageant of this scale and I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun and bringing back loads of experience."

Loads of experience

Dannielle's modelling career started out at the tender age of 15 and since then has modelled for top designers and choreographers in Sri Lanka. Some of the big names she has worked with include, Lou Ching Wong and Shamini of Silk Wrap in Malaysia.

She has also modelled for the Hair Asia Pacific 2005 competition in which she was judged 'first' in the Bridal Make Up category and 'second' in the Evening Hair Style category.

Dannielle was also the only Sri Lankan model to take part in the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week in 2005.

Talking about her hobbies, Dannielle says that travelling, reading, music, watching movies, athletics and synchronised swimming are just a handful of what she loves doing in her free time.

Both Dannielle and Shibani embody the values and spirit of Miss World and Mr. World. They radiate warmth and compassion, which is sure to help win the hearts of millions and also help them raise money for the charity events that they will be taking part in while on tour.

This year's pageants have been hyped up and rightly so, being the most interactive ever.  A combination of star judges and a worldwide vote will decide who is crowned Miss World 2006 and Mr. World 2006. Here's hoping that Dannielle and Shibani make Sri Lanka proud!

Hearts afire in a wooden house

Sachini with her mother and grandmother

By Ranee Mohamed

Seven-year old Sachini Maduwanthi Liyanage is a very photogenic child. Thankfully so, for in real life, seeing her hit her head and face and struggling to stand on her feet are all heartbreaking, everyday features of her life.

This story comes from a wooden house, situated on the dusty inroads of Hewagama, Kaduwela, wherein dwells little Sachini with her grandparents and her parents.

No cures

"We have gone everywhere in search of a cure for this little girl, we have done everything possible. There have been times when we have paid Rs. 25,000 to vedamahaththayas and then travelled far away and lived in different places in search of those promised cures.

"But nothing happened," said Sachini's grandparents, Nissanka Wickremasinghe and Chandra Liyanage. Wickremasinghe has worked as a labourer in Lebanon and Liyanage as a housemaid there so that they could bring some happiness to the life of their daughter by making their grandchild live a normal life.

"But nothing happened. Today we are back in Sri Lanka. We are now doing everything possible, by being there for her to assist in the 24 hour care that is required for this seven-year old," explained the young grandmother Chandra Liyanage.

There is no way that little Sachini's father, who is a driver of a van could find her specialised treatment in Colombo. There is also no way that her mother, who has also to take care of her one-year-old brother could get her the latest medical treatment.

These are poor, helpless people who have to watch their child suffer.  "She  cannot talk, she cannot walk, yet she can feel. She knows everything that is happening. Every morning, children of her age go to school, but my little Sachini remains at home. Seated on a chair she watches white clad children of her age pass through our road,"  said her mother.


"Little Sachini spends her time crouched on a old sofa, watching TV.  She can understand everything, she can see, but she has no way of expressing her self. She can see other children run, but when she tries to stand up, she falls down." said her mother in tears.

Sachini sits before us and begins to swing her legs and simultaneously hit out at them. Saliva drools from her mouth and she makes strange noises. Her mother tries to hold her still, but the childishly violent gestures continue. It is plain to see that all this struggling is making this child tired, but there is no way that they can be stopped.

"Is there anyway that my little daughter could grow up into a woman who is able to atleast attend to her personal needs," asks this mother in tears. "We have been told that she has been born this way as she is a product of a consanguineous marriage. But then how is my younger child perfectly normal," queries this mother in pain.

There is hardship, tears and heartache in this house. This seven-year-old needs 24-hour care. "She wakes up to the slightest sound even in the middle of the night. Be it a light or sound, she is up and then starts crying for no reason at all," says this sad mother.

Born on June 25, 1999, Sachini has known only sadness and restrictions. She is not able to leave this wooden house, not to a park, not to a restaurant and not to a party. It is a very abnormal life, for whom her mother had very normal dreams, and hopes.

A plea

Living at 199/7, Vihara Mawatha, Hewagama, Kaduwela, the plea from this family is to help make life better for their child. "We have heard of special classes, special schools and special treatments so that children like little Sachini could lead a normal life.  But we know none of these special happenings. Day in and day out, I suffer watching the sufferings of my little daughter.

She merely gulps down her food with difficulty. She has no way of asking for anything even though she may see many things that she likes on the television. When she gets hungry she gestures and sometimes she cries.  But she is never able to ask for anything or tell us what she really and truly likes to do," said this mother in pain.

There is always pain when a child is ill.  There is pain in this house everyday.

Kate and Chelsy: Princesses-in-waiting?

William, Harry, Kate and Chelsy 

Strolling casually together across the lawns of the Beaufort Polo Club, Kate Middleton and Chelsy Davy evoke memories of another era, and another pair of royal ladies.

A generation ago, the Princess of Wales and the newly wed Duchess of York cut a similar dash on the polo fields of England, two women new to royal life and still finding their feet. Looked at today, it's hard not to make comparisons between the  reserved Diana and her younger counterpart Kate on the one hand, and the flamboyant Fergie and her modern version, Chelsy, on the other. Could they both be princesses in waiting?

Whether in personality or dress, the similarities are striking. Diana very soon got the hang of handling a royal wardrobe, and her instinctive choice of what was appropriate is echoed today by Kate - whose innate sense of understated style has impressed everyone since her emergence by Prince William's side four years ago.

Fergie, sartorial judgment losing out to her youthful joie de vivre, allowed herself a freer fashion style - just as Chelsy does. Again, you might say that Kate, who is paired with the future heir to the throne, does not wish to present a provocative image whereas Chelsy, who goes out with the less constrained second son, is happy to be seen as a desirable woman - another reflection of former times.

Common bond

As yet, the girlfriends of William and Harry are not close in the way Diana and Sarah were for a time. Back in the 1980s the two young royals laughed and joked together, exchanged clothes and took refuge in each other's company. Whether at Royal Ascot,  out shopping,  or skiing together, Diana and Sarah found their similarities outweighed their differences, and that their common bond was a strength and a reassurance.

But although the worlds of Kate and Chelsy - the one formal, the other exotic - seem very far apart, there is much they have in common. While Kate grew up in rural Berkshire, and Chelsy in southern Africa, they are both products of the British public school system, with William's girlfriend having attended Marlborough College, and Harry's partner, Cheltenham Ladies' College and Stowe.

 Chelsy is just 20 while Kate is now 24, but they have mutual friends. Both, it would seem, are deeply in love with their respective Princes and, in these more enlightened times, have been allowed to keep their relationships semi-private in a way that was unthinkable a generation ago, when each new escort on the arm of the bachelor Prince Charles or Prince Andrew was subjected to  terrifying scrutiny.

But then, times have changed. Once, it was deemed vital that new recruits to the royal ranks should themselves be able to boast blue blood. Now it seems there is a positive virtue in being classless if you are hoping to marry into the House of Windsor.

Distinguished ancestors

Both Diana and Sarah could claim long and aristocratic family trees, but there is something refreshing in the fact that, along with Kate's more distinguished ancestors, there are some pretty ordinary folk as well. And nobody for one moment is claiming Chelsy is a toff which is perfect.

The House of Windsor long since abandoned its hopes for dynastic alliances with other royal houses, as happened habitually in previous centuries. Once, it was a given that royal princes could marry princesses - but the last such marriage took place in 1947, when the future Queen married Prince Philip of Greece.

When it came to Prince Charles's turn to look for a bride, courtiers' sights were lowered to take in the daughters of British dukes; and when even the ducal ranks failed to turn up a suitable match, they plunged further down the Debrett's league table until they came up with Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of a mere earl.

By the time Prince Andrew was ready to marry in 1986, an even more pragmatic approach had been adopted, and the single fact that Sarah Ferguson had been around the periphery of the royal court - for many years her father had been Prince Philip's polo manager - made her acceptable.

It would have seemed laughable, then, that a middle class girl from the home counties - whose father runs a mailorder business - be proposed as a bride to the future heir to the throne. But, in this day and age, and in the guise of Kate, such a choice is far from laughable: with each new, assured appearance we are seeing in her the very model of a thoroughly modern princess.

Business links

There's something about Chelsy Davy that traditionalists continue to baulk at - the blonde hair, perhaps, the curvy figure, the late nights in nightclubs, and the fact that in Zimbabwe her father Charles Davy has business links with the much-reviled Robert Mugabe's government.

A very different animal from the demure Kate, Chelsy's relationship with Harry has nonetheless stood the test of time - they've been together for more than two years - and it can be strongly argued that she has helped his emergence as a newly mature figure - she has helped the once accident-prone Harry get himself sorted.   Meanwhile, there will never be the same pressures on the younger son to find himself a 'suitable' bride.

Nonetheless, the reservations felt about Chelsy by senior courtiers mean that, unlike Kate, she has yet to meet the Queen. And no doubt among the old guard there remains a wish that she never will. Couldn't she just go away...

But that's not going to happen. In his 21st birthday interview last year Harry said: "I would love to tell everyone how amazing she is." But despite this protestation of love, there perhaps remains, among more diehard courtiers, a hankering after the old days when faceless emissaries would offer very large sums of money to 'inappropriate' girlfriends to quit the country. (It last happened in the case of the Queen's uncle, the late Duke of Kent, but the policy was abandoned after the lady in question noisily threw the courtiers and their money out, and stayed put.)

The fact that Harry and Chelsy have managed to continue their long-distance romance - she is studying accounting at the University of Cape Town and her time in Britain is strictly limited - shows just how unassailable a relationship they enjoy. Their recent stolen kiss on the Windsor polo ground is a gratifying sliver of evidence of just how much in love they truly are.

No doubt attitudes will soften towards Chelsy, if only because at Buckingham Palace they always do. Rarely at the forefront of changing trends, courtiers nevertheless are forced to recognise that the world moves on - and nowhere more graphically than in the sphere of personal relationships.


For example, when Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles it was a given that, as future Queen, she would be a virgin. Ridiculous as that may now seem, those with long memories will recall the fuss when, in the weeks leading up to Diana's engagement, a blonde was reported to have spent the night on the Royal Train with Prince Charles.

Diana, only too aware of the damage it would do her reputation if it were proved she had broken the royal golden rule, hastened to assure everyone it was not her (in fact, it was Camilla). These days, no such diktats prevail; nobody expects William and Kate, or Harry and Chelsy, to have anything other than a full and loving relationship - as befits young people of their age. The fact that William and Kate openly shared a house while studying at the University of St. Andrews did not even give rise to comment.

Times have changed, and lessons have been learnt along the way. Those sympathetic to Princess Diana will always point to the almost complete lack of preparation she was given for royal life, and the fact that until she became officially engaged to Prince Charles, she was afforded no protection against an increasingly curious public and press. Some argue that this cool 'them-and-us' attitude by palace officials started the rot that was to lead to the breakdown of her marriage.

History to repeat

History is not about to repeat itself. Since February this year, Kate has been afforded 24-hour cover by the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department - a facility she is not entitled to since she has no official status, but one that Prince Charles, perhaps with an eye to his own history, is happy to pay for personally.

Chelsy is not yet in that position of semi-official recognition, but the view is that she is much younger, with no guarantee that her relationship with Harry will last,  and in any event is only in Britain from time to time.

In the case of Prince William and Kate, it would appear it's no longer a matter of if, but when, they will marry. The hurdle facing all students who fall in love at university -  can that love survive in the grown-up world - seems to have been effortlessly surmounted. The couple graduated a year ago and are as close as ever.

Unlike his father, who left the choice of marriage partner until dangerously late in the game, there has been no pressure on 24-year-old William to find someone and marry her. As a result, there is nothing contrived about his relationship with Kate, as it might be argued there was between Charles and Diana. It bodes well for the future.

Marry for love

One can only guess that Princess Diana, had she still been around to meet William's girlfriend, would have advised her son to marry for love. And doubtlessly she would have approved of the stylish and confident Kate.

As for Chelsy and Harry, we can only wait and see. Now a serving officer in the armed forces and ready to lay down his life for his country, the Prince is no longer a boy. Therefore, it can be argued, he is old enough to many - even if he is only 21. However, it may not be a terribly popular move; even on the unofficial Chelsy website, a question asking whether the couple should wed, received a very definite 62 per cent 'No' vote.

Even so, many predict a double wedding announcement next spring. Royal protocol dictate that in an important year, such as this one, when the Queen celebrated her landmark 80th birthday nothing should detract from the focus on the Sovereign. Up ahead, too, are the inevitable distractions of the inquest into the death of Princess Diana.

Once the dust settles, though, we can expect some better news. And a royal wedding, if not two, would bring pleasure to countless millions.

- Christopher Wilson 

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

Saving lives a priority issue

By Shezna Shums

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and every year the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation,  call attention to suicide which is  a leading cause of premature and preventable death, on this day.

This year's theme is 'With Understanding, New Hope' and the focus is on translating current scientific knowledge and research about suicide behaviour into practical programmes and activities that can reduce suicidal behaviour and save lives.

It has been found that since year 2000 there have been over five million suicide deaths worldwide. Suicide is the cause of death of one million people in the world each year

Suicide is an important public health problem in many countries, and is a leading cause of death amongst teenagers and young adults. Local statistics showed that between the years of 1985 to 2000 there were a recorded 50,000 deaths owing to the war and a total of 106, 000 deaths by suicide.

"Suicide is a loss to society," pointed out doctors who spoke at a seminar regarding the prevention of suicides. They went on to add that  there may be a combination of causes that lead a person to suicide, rather than one incident that makes them attempt suicide.

Another important fact that came into focus is that communities ought to be dealing with suicide and the  government and private sectors too ought to be more accessible whereby the people who feel suicidal know that there is help and that they have someone to seek help and treatment from.

Common among youth

Suicide is also common among the youth. Thus it was brought to light that  teachers and elders should not embarrass youngsters or neglect them, thereby making them prone to committing suicide.

Depression is a factor that affects a person's thoughts and thereby lead to suicidal tendencies, but depression can be treated and suicides avoided,  highlighted  doctors at the seminar.

Additionally it is estimated that there are about 10-20 times as many suicide attempts as suicide deaths. At a personal level, all suicide attempts regardless of the extent of injury are indictors of severe emotional distress, unhappiness or mental illness.

Suicide and suicide attempts have serious emotional consequences for families and friends.  The burden of bereavement by suicide can have a profound and lasting emotional impact for family members. The families of those who make suicide attempts are often anxious and concerned about the risk of further suicidal behavior, and  seem to become more aware of their  responsibilities in trying to prevent further attempts.

Mental illness is the most important factor that predisposes people to suicidal behaviour. People with mental illness have a 10-fold increased risk of suicide compared with people without such illness. The disorders commonly associated with suicidal behaviour are depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, and schizophrenia.

Of these, depression is the most common. Nevertheless, the vast majority of persons with a mental illness will not die by suicide; despite the increased risk associated with mental illness, most persons with a mental health problem do not experience the life stresses or other risk factors that contribute to suicide risk, or they receive adequate help to deal with their problems.

Family history

A family history of suicide is a strong factor for suicidal behaviour, while people who have made a previous suicide attempt have increased risks of making further attempts and of dying by suicide.

Poor socio-economic, educational and social circumstances as well as poor physical health are also associated with suicidal behaviour. Stressful events such as a break-up in relationships, deaths, arguments, financial and legal problems, shame or humiliation can also lead to suicide attempts.

 In order to help prevent suicides an important factor would be restricting access to lethal means of suicide. Today children are able to go to the stores in many villages and buy pesticides and insecticides. The kaneru plant is also a common means of committing suicide.

Educating physicians about recognising, treating and managing depression and suicidal behaviour can reduce suicide rates. Educating community leaders who work in schools, prisons, workplaces and homes for the elderly can improve identification and referral of people at risk of suicidal behaviour. Improving mental health treatment and management will be effective in providing long term mental health care and support in order to help prevent suicides.

It is necessary that  support and help is given to individuals who have attempted suicide as there is always a risk of making further attempts, and of eventually dying by suicide. The Health Education Bureau  a seminar last week highlighted several issue regarding suicides in Sri Lanka.

Remembering September 11

Construction continues around the World Trade Centre site, which was destroyed during the attacks on September 11, 2001

Dr. Herbert  London is president of Hudson Institute in New York City. The former John M. Olin University Professor of Humanities at New York University, he founded the Gallatin School there in 1972 and was its dean until 1992. His social commentary has appeared in major newspapers and journals throughout the United States

From the building I reside in, I can see the World Trade Centre (WTC) site, where a hole in the ground is a constant reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.  But in the area surrounding the WTC site, what we local residents call `our hole,' there is extraordinary development.

The Goldman Sachs building is going up across the street.  A supermarket is being built two blocks away. High-rise buildings seem to rise magically, as if defying construction requirements. Battery Park, where there are sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, has been refurbished with a magnificent fountain and new gardens. A dramatic tunnel is under construction, connecting the subway system to the Staten Island ferry terminal.

A metaphor for US

Despite  'our hole,' downtown New York is alive, prospering, and electric with possibilities. In many essential ways this description is a metaphor for the United States five years after the 9/11 attacks.

Our country has been scarred but remains resilient. The attack has clearly affected American attitudes.  People are wary about unidentified packages in the subway system, and September 11 continues to be a day of remembrance and sadness. However, the dynamism that characterises the United States is undiminished.

As I stood on Church Street staring at the WTC site last September 11, five tourists asked if I would join them for a spontaneous rendition of 'God Bless America.'  My wife and I sang as tears rolled down our cheeks. We were united with strangers who wished to recall what America stands for. We were sad but steadfast; united in our appreciation of America and determined to resist those who would destroy our way of life.

Spirit intact

To some degree,  9/11 has faded from our collective memory. Patriotic sentiment is recalled, as my experience would suggest, but it has lost its immediacy. What is most noteworthy is that the spirit of America remains intact.

William Tyler Page wrote in American Creed,  "I . believe it is my duty to my country to love it, support its constitution, to obey its law, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."  Surely there are many in this land of the free who have the constitutional  right to disagree,  but, in my opinion, the overwhelming majority of Americans embrace this sentiment. Pegged into this position are words such as love, honour, loyalty,  pride, devotion, and sacrifice - words that suggest an emotional attachment. But patriotism for most Americans is not only reflexive emotion; it is also reasoned argument.

Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy In America  claimed that customs, traditions, and a reverence for the past are emphasised, but that patriotism for Americans is a state of mind in which "citizens. grapple with various aspects of America which are not so rose-coloured."

Liberal patriots

As I see it, 9/11 has brought to the fore liberal patriots who believe that they must work for political change consistent with their interpretation of the national creed and conservative patriots who maintain an allegiance to the nation based on what the Founding Fathers intended. The differences are textured, representing perspective rather than the basic concepts, which remain largely undisturbed.

September 11, 2001, was a fateful day for the nation, yet remarkably the notion of  'my country,  right or wrong' has not gained a foothold.  Americans may be justifiably angry about those who would attack our land and people, but we are perpetually self-critical, as any viewing of television news would suggest. We also have a well-ensconced  memory of the good and a faith in our ability to change when that is necessary.

Hence my recollection of the horror of five years ago evokes a belief in human possibility and the  stirring example of Americans who pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and look to shape the days ahead.

Jacques Maritain once noted that what set the United States apart from other nations is that it is in 'a continual state of becoming.'  The destruction the nation endured has forced Americans to look in the mirror to see strengths and warts, to regard the remarkable achievements and the challenges over the horizon.

There are, of course, those who embody the  'historical grievance' position. What they see are only flaws. In each overheated claim they make, there is an incremental decline in the spirit  that sustains patriotism.  After all, why should anyone care about a nation of colonisers and imperialists, words that have been transmogrified into crimes?

Refurbished  belief

Five years of reflection after the 9/11 attacks have refurbished Americans' belief in their country. In the end, even reasoned patriots who carefully weigh errors, mistakes, tragedy, and accomplishment will find something positive on which to hang patriotic sentiment.

That hole in the ground sits as a reminder of human frailty and imperfectability, but it has not sapped a belief in ourselves or the will for regeneration.

There is a park soon to be completed where the World Trade Centre once stood majestically. Several days ago I walked on this newly constructed path, and in the shadow of the Twin Towers that remains embedded in my mind,  I noticed a row of seedlings about to blossom.

Five years ago there was only dust on that ground, now flowers are about to bloom. Here is the United States five years after 9/11:  In the midst of despoliation, life appears doggedly fighting for a place in the sun.

Health on Sunday

Cancer  is common among meat eaters

It is common knowledge that meat eaters have higher cancer rates compared to people who avoid it. I am quoting a few paragraphs from the international journal Good Medicine from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 2006 summer issue, volume 15, page 6-8 in support of the above hypothesis that non-vegetarians are more prone to cancer compared to vegetarians.

Carcinogenic ammines

"Experts now know that grilled meat especially chicken produces carcinogenic heterocyclic ammines (HCAs) which are formed from the creatine, amino acids and sugar found in muscle tissue. In 2005, federal government (USA) added HCAs to its list of carcinogens. More HCAs are produced by long cooking times and hot temperatures which make grilling, pan frying and oven broiling particularly dangerous cooking methods."

"Many people who eat chicken especially grilled chicken and broiled chicken are unaware that carcinogen HCAs lurk in cooked meat and HCAs can bind directly to DNA and cause mutations, the first step in the development of cancer. Grilling is also problematic because when fat from meat drips onto an open flame, carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) form and are deposited back onto the meat through smoke."

"Scientists have discovered more than 16 different HCAs. One type commonly found in grilled meats is Ph1 P which has been on the California list of cancer causing chemicals for more than a decade. Scientists have not determined a safe consumption level of Ph1P meaning that any amount is believed to potentially increase cancer risk."

"Recent studies have shown that the consumption of well-done meat which contains Ph1P and HCAs is associated with an increased risk for colon, rectal, oesophagus, lung, larynx, pancreas, prostate, stomach and breast cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma."

Link to colo-rectal cancer

 "In a recent review of 30 epidemiologic studies on the link between eating well-done meat and cancer at various sites, 80 percent of the studies showed a positive correlation. HCAs have also been specifically linked to colo-rectal cancer. One review found that high cooking temperature increased colon cancer risk almost twofold and increased risk for rectal cancer by 60 percent."

"HCAs are not the only cancer risk that comes from eating meat. Countries with a higher fat intake especially fat from animal products have a high incidence of breast cancer.  One hypothesised reason is that low fibre, high fat foods increase the amount of oestrogens in the blood stream which encourages breast cancer cell growth. A similar phenomenon can occur when men eat a high amount of  fat leading to risk of prostate cancer."

"The consumption of meat and other fatty foods is strongly linked to colon cancer.  Recent studies have shown that red meat - even red meat cooked at low temperature - can increase colon cancer risk by as much as 300 percent."

The dilemma

"These facts seem to pose a dilemma for poultry consumers. Cook chicken too little and you could easily end up with a bacterial infection. Turn up the heat enough to kill the bacteria and you may create cancer -causing compounds."

"Choosing plant-based food can lower cancer risk in other ways as well. Not only are plantbased foods low in fat and high in protective fibre, but they also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals which have been shown to prevent cancer."

- D. P.  Atukorale

Perth Diary  

Individuals and literature

For years, people have been arguing over what is good literature and what is not. Is good literature that which appeals to the masses? Or what appeals only to those with sufficient education to be in the right frame of mind to theorise its actual meaning?

This was why a canon of literature was created - a list of so called 'good books' or books that were deemed appropriate to read because they would improve one's mind. The tenets of a classical education if you will.

The debate has never really gone away. It took a long time to induct Jane Austen into the canon - because for a while it was seriously considered that women could not possibly write good literature if they had no educational background on the level of men which for quite a while they actually didn't no matter how well off they were. Hence Virginia Woolf's argument to enable higher education for women at the start of the 20th Century.

Big issue

The last two times it really became a big issue was when;

 a) people start trying to determine if you could classify children's literature as good literature especially with authors like Rowling and Dahl appealing to so many, even having adults choose to read their works  and

b) when people from non Western backgrounds began writing in English - a controversial thing even today.

Is Michael Ondaatje's work an example of post-colonial literature and if so, is it considered to be good literature?  There is still contention on whether this is the case or not in academic circles. And it is true for lots of people who came from non-Western backgrounds and ended up at Oxford and Cambridge or at Ivy Leagues and started writing such as Rushdie and Rao. If former alumni cop that much flak from their peers, one can only imagine how hard it must be to convince certain people that your work is good literature even if it sells well and you went to a completely different educational institution.

Where does this idea come from - this paradox that if you write very well at all, then your book cannot sell that well and only the upper echelons of society would be able to appreciate it?  It comes from the history of literature itself when the only people who could read were those with sufficient education and wealth to afford such a pleasure. Any attempt from the lower classes to better themselves was seen as a threat. Is it the case that some of that class ideology remains? Is that why there is still such a debate?

Chick lit

Forget post-colonialism and children's literature for a moment. The new and best thing to watch these academics, feminists and even writers fight over is... chick lit.  You heard me - chick lit. Bridget Jone's Diary, and In Her Shoes type stuff were best selling chick lit novels before they were filmed. Some writers are complaining that women who write chick lit are not allowing for those who write more serious literary novels. I am not so sure that's a valid statement.

First off, who won the Pulitzer Prize this year? A woman. And she didn't win it for a chick lit novel - she won it for March - a literary novel about the constantly absent father of the March girls in Little Women. She had only one interview in Australia via satellite television and she still managed to knock Dan Brown off the bestseller lists for a few weeks - which is quite an achievement.

I was so happy to see something other than Dan Brown for a change. She sold a lot of books even though she wrote a serious (read boring to some) literary novel that usually are quite hard things to sell.

But yes, chick lit has a higher profile than literary fiction written by women. Crime fiction  has a higher profile than literary fiction written by women. So do Harlequin romance novel series' though no women will admit to reading them so you do wonder who must be buying them in such loads while conveniently ignoring all the literary fiction on the shelf next door.

Who says that's going to change? Who says that is indicative of good literature? Chick lit writers are linking themselves to Jane  Austen who wrote about nothing but society women and their parties, but nevertheless wrote it as satire and commented on the fallacy of the whole era and setup.

Defining what's good

I don't know if the literary writers on the other side of the fence are linking themselves to Charlotte Bronte who hated Austen's writing for her apparent frivolity - Bronte wrote dramatic bordering on the gothic fiction - quite the opposite of Austen. Excuse me while I laugh at this debacle.

It is Austen and Bronte all over again isn't it? Each completely different - each probably catering not to different groups of women but to the different moods of the same women. Good literature is when the writer puts his meaning into his work - syntax, language, subject, sales - maybe all that doesn't matter so much.

After all, shouldn't one be attacking the publishers for operating on an economic basis and not being fair to willingly publish on equal basis works from amongst all genres? Anything can be sold if the marketing is good, so perhaps publishers should endeavour to put in more effort into revaluating their marketing schemes. Maybe the writers shouldn't have argued so much that they have resorted to publishing anthologies of anti chick lit and chick lit in order to make their respective points or stances.

So what has more merit for you? Are there times when you need to give your happy half a break to read literary fiction or give your sad half a break to read chick lit? Are you firmly opposed to one or the other?

 In the end it comes down to the individual. Maybe the writers and the publishing industry would do well to remember that.

- Marisa Wikramanayake

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