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Sri Lankan rupee at new life low on importer dlr demand

Aug 9 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's rupee weakened to a new all-time closing low on Thursday amid importer demand for dollars to settle trade bills, dealers said. The rupee ended at 111.92/94 per dollar, surpassing the previous life low of 111.88/111.94 hit on Monday. The local currency has hit a series of new all time lows in recent months. "There was high importer demand for dollars," said one currency dealer. more..

Police recover 106 communication sets

Aug 9 (PISL) Chilaw police on Tuesday recovered 106 communication sets and six Global Positioning Systems hidden inside a travelling bag of a commuter travelling from Colombo to Puttalam. Chilaw police held the traveller who they suspect to be an LTTE cadre, a spokesman said adding that they believe the suspect was transporting the contraband to Vauniya. He said the suspect had boarded the bus from Wattala and another commuter had alerted the police about the suspect. more..

`Casablanca` on Sri Lankan conflict

Aug 9 (LNP) An Indian filmmaker is remaking `Casablanca`, swapping the Rick`s Cafe of the Oscar-winning classic for a restaurant in south India, and the World War Two backdrop for the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. In the 1942 film, Humphrey Bogart played a club owner who romances a married Ingrid Bergman and helps her escape the Nazis with her husband, a resistance leader. `My film will be a tribute to the original,` said Rajeev Nath, the director who plans to premiere his Malayalam language remake, more..

Tigers pressure INGOs to channel funds through them

Aug 9 (LNP) The LTTE is said to be pressurizing INGOs operating in rebel controlled areas of the Wanni to channel funds to be used for development purposes in the area through the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), the Daily Mirror has learnt. Well informed sources also said two local staffers attached to an INGO operating in Kilinochchi were abducted by the LTTE some two weeks ago and subsequently released following pressure by the charity group which carried out large scale assistance programmes in the area. more..

UNP`s wild behaviour during Gnanakone expose sign of guilt - Rajitha

Aug 9 (LNP) UNP democratic group member Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said the UNP MPs` wild behaviour in Parliament during Minister Karu Jayasuriya`s `Gnanakone expose`, bared the party`s downright guilt in the affair. `Neither the UNP nor the name of the Opposition Leader was mentioned in that statement. But the UNP MPs made a big fuss throughout his entire speech, leaving us to wonder as to why they got so disturbed.` more..

Teachers to boycott A/L marking duties

Aug 9 (LNP) Teachers are threatening to boycott Advanced Level paper marking duties unless the Government rectifies their salary anomalies by August 20. `We now know the Government wants to go back on its promise to rectify the salary anomalies in the teacher service. This problem has been prevailing for years and every government, instead of finding answers, tries to evade solving it. more..

'Reporters lead public on correct path'

Aug 9 (SAMN) Journalists must lead the public on the correct path by contributing factual news, Dr. D. B. Nihalsinghe said. Speaking at the journalism awards ceremony at the BMICH organised by the Editors' Guild of Sri Lanka jointly with the Sri Lanka Press Institute Dr. Nihalsinghe said journalists have a major responsibility. "A huge and aggressive competition prevails among institutions and people for power and position", he said. more..

Shocking revelation on hoardings

Aug 9 (SAMN) In a shocking revelation the Government informed Parliament yesterday that the Agricultural and Agrarian Services Insurance Board had spent Rs. 2.2 million to put up five propaganda hoardings to mark the first anniversary of the assumption of office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, besides 17 other hoardings to promote the Suwasetha Insurance Scheme in 2006. more..

'NGOs interfering in education policy'

Aug 9 (SAMN) The JVP charged Tuesday that some NGOs had interfered with the national education policy of the country in an unlawful manner by publishing teaching guidebooks and organizing essay competitions. Posing a question to Education Minister Susil Premjayantha, in Parliament, JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti asked as to how the German enterprise GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit) had assisted in the publication of a teaching guide handbook more..

No one should be allowed to topple govt

Aug 9 (SAMN) A Government elected with a clear mandate has every right to defeat all sorts of conspiracies to topple it, JVP leader Somawansha Amarasinghe said yesterday. The Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa has every right to take legal action against the parties who are trying to topple his Government, Somawansha Amarasinghe said adding that no one should be allowed to topple the Government. more..

Wickremesinghe, Samaraweera to appear in court on MoU

Aug 9 (TN) The Colombo District Court Tuesday issued notices on Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, leader of the main opposition UNP, and Mr.Mangala Samaraweera, leader of the newly formed Peoples Wing of the SLFP to appear in court on August 21 to show cause on why an interim injunction should not be issued against the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by them on July 19, legal sources said. more..

Huge response for $ 500 m bond offer

Aug 9 (DN) There has been a tremendous response from banks to the Government’s bond offer of US $ 500 million which will be channelled for the development of the Eastern Province, Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said yesterday. Several foreign banks including HSBC have indicated a positive response to this, he told the weekly briefing at the Government Information Department. more..

Prof. Ratnapala enriched Lankan literature - President

Aug 9 (LM) I was deeply moved at the death of Prof. Nandasena Ratnapala who though rightly ranked among Sri Lanka’s most distinguished academics continued to keep the common touch to the end, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a condolence message. He said: “Among the numerous academic achievements of Prof. Ratnapala were doctorates from prestigious universities in Germany, USA, UK and Sri Lanka. more..

No dirty war tactics by Forces - SCOPP

Aug 9 (DN) Statistics indicate that the Sri Lankan forces have been far more careful about civilians than many governments which HRW does not seem inclined to criticise with the same personal intensity, SCOPP Chief Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha said yesterday. HRW should also be interested in the manner in which the Sri Lankan armed forces conducted themselves throughout the operation in the East. more..

Even if UNP wins general election, Rajapaksa will reign: Jeyaraj

Aug 9 (DM) Even in the event of a UNP victory in an election in the near future the Head of State would still be President Mahinda Rajapaksa and most probably he would appoint a Cabinet comprising members from both the UNP and the PA on a 50 – 50 basis, Chief Government Whip and Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told the media yesterday. In a future Cabinet following a UNP victory the Defence Minister would still be President Rajapaksa, he said. more..

Grade 1 admissions in further muddle

Aug 9 (DM) Education Minister Susil Premajayantha informed Parliament yesterday he would take steps to call for applications for Grade one school admissions according to the previous circular with necessary amendments since political parties stressed the need to ignore guidelines set by the Supreme Court. The House took up the issue as an adjournment motion proposed by the JVP which noted that there would be a serious threat to free education if the Supreme Court guidelines were implemented. more..

JVP student leader physically threatens ISSE campus team

Aug 9 (wsws) In an act of political thuggery, members of the JVP broke up an International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) campaign at the Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka on Tuesday with threats of physical violence. The JVP’s actions are a desperate attempt to suppress discussion and opposition among students to the Sri Lankan government’s resumption of communal war against the LTTE and its savage attacks on living standards. more..

Karuna group must be disarmed: Army

Aug 9 (Hindu) The Army has officially informed the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that the Karuna group has to be “disarmed” for restoration of normalcy in the east. The intimation acquires importance after the recent Government announcement that it intended to hold local bodies election in the east. The intent to hold the elections followed the ouster of the Tamil Tigers from all its bases from the east in July. more..

Visiting U.N. official calls for probe into Sri Lanka aid workers deaths

Aug 9 (AP) A top U.N. official called on Sri Lanka's government Thursday to investigate accusations of human rights abuses and to urgently conclude a probe into the killing of aid workers here. John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, said his four-day visit to war-wracked regions of the country was "positive" and he received government assurances that aid workers would be given better access to the conflict zones. more..

Four Sri Lankan commandos shot dead: rebels

Aug 9 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels killed at least four police commandos and wounded several others in a confrontation in eastern Sri Lanka, the guerrillas said Thursday. The LTTE said they launched counter attacks Wednesday against the police Special Task Force units in a jungle area known as Westminster Abbey. "More than four STF personnel were killed and several others were injured in the one-hour confrontation," a statement said. more..

Sri Lanka a top danger spot for aid workers - U.N.

Aug 9 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers, the UN's aid chief says, calling on the government to probe civil war abuses and consider an international rights monitoring mission. Aid agencies say 34 humanitarian staff have been killed in Sri Lanka since January 2006, including 17 local staff of Action Contre La Faim shot dead in the restive northeast a year ago more..

UN urges Sri Lanka to disarm group

Aug 9 (AFP) The United Nations on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to disarm a pro-government paramilitary group operating in the east of the island to ensure safety and security for aid workers and residents. John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, ended a four-day tour of the country urging de-militarisation of the troubled eastern region. more..

A visual journey to the emerald isle

Aug 10 (Hindu) They may have been born out of a troubled legacy, but civil strife has only made the Sri Lankan creative intellect sharper, if one goes by the line-up of films on offer at the Sri Lankan Film Festival that opened here on Wednesday. There may be a streak of tragicomedy or bathos about most of them, but for the discerning Chennai film audience, the next three days offers a never-seen-before view of the emerald isle, more..

Sri Lanka faces selector trouble

Aug 10 (AFP) A depleted selection panel picked Sri Lanka's Twenty-20 World Championships team Thursday following a spate of no-shows and resignations from the committee, sports minister Gamini Lokuge told AFP. Authorities had wanted five selectors on the panel, but only two were available to pick the team for the 12-nation tournament in South Africa next month. more..

Wealth gap 'spreads across Asia'

Aug 10 (BBC) The gap between rich and poor has widened sharply in China and many other Asian countries as their economies have boomed, research has suggested. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) found that relative inequality had widened more substantially in China than any other Asian country except for Nepal. Other countries with rising wealth gaps include India, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka Boss Sticks Up For Murali

Aug 10 (C365) The secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket has hit out at former India captain Bishen Bedi after he accused Muttiah Muralitharan of chucking. Ex-bowler Bedi was critical of modern spinners in recent remarks, with Muralitharan bearing the brunt of his outburst in which he compared the Sri Lanka star to a "shot-putter". It is not the first time Bedi has been disapproving of Muralitharan's action, but SLC secretary Kangadaran Madivanan has leapt to the defence of his player. more..

Power devolution to Province, President agrees

Aug 10 (LeN) President Mahinda Rajapakse has agreed to the province as the unit of power devolution. The President's consent came following a lengthy discussion with the major leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Thissa Vitharana. SLFP proposed to take up the district as the unit of devolution in its proposals submitted to the APRC. more..

UN satisfied over development activities in the East

Aug 10 (GDI) The United Nations has expressed its satisfaction over the rehabilitation, resettlement and the marked improvement of Development Projects in the east. UN Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination, Sir John Holmes said in the course of a discussion,with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today (09). A media release issued by the Presidential Secretariat informs. more..

UN official says Sri Lanka pledges to improve security, access for aid workers

Aug 10 (IRIN) At the end of a four-day mission to Sri Lanka, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the Colombo government had pledged to ensure more security for humanitarian workers but said he would wait to see how well the commitment is kept. Holmes, who ended his visit to the island today after talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse, also said the government had promised to improve access to resettlement and conflict zones for aid agencies whose movements are now hampered by strict regulations. more..

Sri Lanka’s Diplomacy: a Response to Kalyananda Godage

Aug 10 (AT) Kalyananda Godage, a former senior diplomat in Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service, in several of his recent articles, seemingly questioning Sri Lanka’s current diplomatic thrust in its fight against LTTE terrorism, has in fact centered his barrage against the current Foreign Secretary, Dr. Palitha Kohona, the motive of which might not be so difficult to guess. more..

Free Media Movement meets the President

Aug 10 (FMM) Today, 9th August 2007 delegation of FMM met with the president at Temple trees and discussed burning issues related to media freedom in the country. The FMM discussed the killings of journalists in recent past, problems and restrictions faced by journalist working in the war zone, issue of media accreditation card and threats and intimidation directed to journalists. more..

India may change power equation in Lanka

Aug 10 (ET) Power deficit India may soon become a major energy supplier to neighbouring Sri Lanka. Power Trading Corporation (PTC) is considering laying submarine cable linking the two countries for supplying seasonal power surpluses to the neighbour. If the project goes through, power woes of the island nation could be mitigated in the shortest possible time. more..

Lankan accident victim’s body to be sent home

Aug 10 (GT) THE body of the Sri Lankan expatriate who fell to his death last Thursday in a building site accident is to be flown home tonight. Kannavathy Pillai Sathyaroopan, 31, a bachelor, died when temporary steps at the under-construction high-rise building collapsed as he and his co-workers “rushed out” after his night shift, at 2.30am. Eight others were injured in the crash at the building, near Doha’s City Center. more..

Ajith Samaranayake-A tribute by Lester James Peries

Aug 10 (TC) With much spluttering of engine and tooting of horn the three wheelers would sweep into No. 24 (formerly Dickman’s Road) like the famed ‘Chariots of Fire’. Over the years this heralded the arrival of our brilliant young friend to our home in Colombo 5. Unlike many Sri Lankans who would drop in with no agenda to darken the early morning sunlit hours with idle prattle, Ajith would phone and say, “I’ll be there in half an hour-Ok?” more..

Can we have informed, non-emotional discourse about critical issues?

Aug 10 (FI) The subject Ranjit Wijewardene prescribed for me was The Press and Politics and I am thankful to him for his instruction that I could use as broad a brush as I wished, roam as broadly within the prescribed subject as I cared or even to tread (warily) outside it. Bearing in mind the nature of the occasion, the distinguished audience- and the time - I propose to limit myself to some general reflections on three points; more..

People Fighting “Lost” Battle For Survival In The Eastern Province

Aug 10 (FI) The Eastern province was always going to be our success story. It was where the country was going to test the formula for peaceful co-existence and development. The success of any Sri Lankan government at a long term solution to the ethnic conflict was going to be proven in the East. But today, the province stands devastated, desolate and alienated. The effects of a three decade old war are all on show here. more..

Sri Lankan and other scouts missing in Britain: police

Aug 10 (AFP) Thirteen scouts who came to Britain for the 100th annivesary of the international youth movement have disappeared, police said Thursday. "Since the start of the Jamboree, we've had 13 people reported missing," an Essex Police spokesman said, referring to the centenary celebrations of scouting that took place in Chelmsford, east of London, last month. more..

Tribunal allows Sri Lankan asylum appeal

Aug 10 (ISL) The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) has allowed LP's "country guidance" case appeal. Refused Sri Lankan asylum seekers may be able to make fresh claims as a result. Being fully aware of the targeted civilian killings, the extortion, the use of child soldiers, and the mass-displacement in Sri Lanka, the UK 'Foreign Office' suspended aid payments to Sri Lanka and put Sri Lanka on the 'don't go to' list of countries in its travel advice for British travellers. more..

Lakshman Kadirgamar 2nd death anniversary to be commemorated

Aug 10 (ISL) An Alms giving will be held on the 12th of this month to commemorate the second death anniversary of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar at the Lakshman Kadirgamar International Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. It is organised on the instructions of Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama with his private funds, more..

Pope tricked into believing Tiger propaganda on bombing of Tamil Church

Aug 10 (AT) In the offensive to recapture Jaffna the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) dropped leaflets urging the people to move to places of worship for safety. By July 9, 1995 St. Peter’s Church and the adjacent St. Peter’s School in Navaly were packed with hundred of civilians seeking shelter. On the day after the attack, 56 bodies were retrieved from the debris, many of whom were women and children. The death toll in this incident later increased. more..

This economic system has dispossessed Rizana Nafeek's right to live! – Wimal Weerawansa

Aug 10 (LT) 'The open economic system, which prevailed 30 years, has dispossessed poors of this country of their right to live.' Wimal Weerawansa, JVP Propaganda Secretary and parliament group leader says. He said this at the parliament today, making a special statement in protest to government's inability to save the life of Rizana Nafeek, Sri Lankan domestic maid condemned to death in Saudi Arabia. more..

Seven months completed to COPE report – corruption leaders still unharmed

Aug 10 (LT) Even 7 months elapsed after releasing the COPE report, revealing the culprits of massive corruption charges, politicos responsible for them are still unharmed, JVP parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake says. Mr. Dissanayake also said, "The Committee of Public Enterprise released its report at the beginning of this year revealing detailed revelations of frauds worth more than Rs.150 Bn but govt have taken no steps regarding the allegations based on the facts of the report. Instead, govt is now trying to protect criminals who are responsible for those frauds." more..

A govt with back bone needed to defeat White Tigers – National Bikku front

Aug 10 (LT) It is the power of White Tigers that activate to stop the govt from defeating the Wanni Tigers. So, it is a must to have a govt with back bones or real guts to face such threats. This idea was expressed by Ven Attangane Ratanapala, advisor to the National Bikku Front, at the special media conference held today. Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara addressing media said, Human Rights Watch has released a report saying that in Sri Lanka serious violations of human Rights available. more..

Sri Lankan professionals urged to prosper at home

Aug 10 (LBO) One of Sri Lanka's top professionals in the fast-growing telecommunications industry has advised his peers to stay in the island despite problems, saying developing economies have more change and opportunity. "Fast and rapid change breaks paradigms and creates uncertainty," Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO of Sri Lanka's biggest private mobile operator, Dialog Telekom, said. "The real professional should manage uncertainty and thrive on it." more..

Sri Lanka tea export documentation automated

Aug 10 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Tea Board has successfully completed the pilot run of an automated export document processing system that can speed up operations and has invited all exporters to get online. The system, designed and implemented by eServices Lanka, allows tea exporters to submit export documents for approval electronically without having to visit the Tea Board. Exporters have a pay a fee of 250 rupees per transaction. more..

Sri Lankan stocks weak amidst global rout

Aug 10 (LBO) Sri Lankan stocks traded lower on wafer thin volumes Friday but brokers said it had more to do with negative local sentiment that the fall in Asian markets. The All Share Price Index was down almost 11 points or 0.46 percent around at mid-day morning on turnover of just over 14 million rupees. "The Sri Lankan market is not that sensitive to global markets," said Geeth Balasuriya of HNB Stockbrokers Research. more..

Scores of Development Projects implemented under Eastern Development Plan

Aug 10 (GDI) Government has taken up many development projects under the ‘Nagenahira Navodaya’ – the Eastern Development Plan, including certain new areas which were not considered previously. In one of such projects the Government will be taking measures allocate funds for the rehabilitation of the rural irrigation systems which were not considered in the development phases before. This project will be initiated under the Department of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development. more..

Government expresses surprise over UN Under Secretary’s unexpected comments

Aug 10 (GDI) The Government today expressed its surprise over the unexpected comments made by Sir John Holmes, the United Nations Under Secretary General for the Office for the coordination of Humantarian Affaires (OCHA) in an interview given to the Reuters yesterday. Making a special statement at the Parliament this morning, Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake stated that the Government which facilitated the visit of Sir.Holmes with more..

Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Poland; a significant growth

Aug 10 (GDI) "A significant growth has been noticed of the bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Poland," said the President of the Sri Lanka - Poland Business Council (SLPBC) Nirmalee Samaratunga. Ms. Samaratunga stated this addressing the Annual General Meeting of the SLPBC yesterday. The exports from Sri Lanka to Poland has doubled over the last six years and on a year-on-year basis, exports from Sri Lanka to Poland grew by 40 per cent over 2005 and more..

Minister Devananda instructs to set up consumer protection committees in Jaffna

Aug 10 (GDI) The government is taking further steps to streamline distribution of goods in Jaffna peninsula in order to reduce prices of essential goods. Social Services and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda, who visited Jaffna has initiated plans for setting up of Consumer Observation and Protection Committees in the Jaffna Peninsula. Setting up of such committees would help to bring down prices of goods in the Jaffna peninsula. more..