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Tsunami survivors capture images of their own recovery

Dec 15 (RW) As the third anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami approaches, the British Red Cross has opened an innovative photographic exhibition that displays images taken by tsunami survivors in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Three years on from the tsunami, which devastated vast swathes of Asia, people whose lives were torn apart have taken part in a photography project to show how they are putting their lives back together. more..

Uncertain Fate of the Tamil Speaking People in Sri Lanka

Dec 15 (LG) November month ended leaving us all with a lingering image of a pretty young Tamil girl blowing herself up, rising the level of unease and despondency among the Tamil Expatriate communities. This is mainly due to (1) the ridiculous captions and commentaries attached by the international media, (2) the propaganda value the Sri Lankan state was extracting from this macabre-show, more..

Fierce Fighting. More on the way

Dec 15 (ISL) 32 LTTE cadres were killed in fierce fighting in Mannar north (general area Adampan) and Vavuniya on the 11th and 12th of this month. Further fierce fighting occurred in the Jaffna FDL resulting in the death of an estimated 10 LTTE cadres. One LTTE mortar launching pad was destroyed in Mannar. The majority of the LTTE killed in Mannar are from the Charles Anthony Brigade. The Army lost 3 men from the 58 Division. more..

Tamils, Muslims 'illegally detained'

Dec 15 (BBC) A London-based human rights group has accused the Sri Lankan government of illegally detaining large numbers of minority Tamils and Muslims. The government is ignoring the rights of civilians in its renewed security drive against the Tamil Tiger rebels, says Minority Rights Group International. In a report released on Friday, the group says anti-terror laws promulgated in Sri Lanka last year have led to the killing, abduction and disappearance of hundreds of people. more..

Indonesian man sentenced in Tamil Tigers arms conspiracy

Dec 15 (AP) An Indonesian caught in a sting operation trying to smuggle weapons to a Sri Lankan terrorist organization was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Haji Subandi, 70, was sentenced to 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake. Subandi had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, more..

Tea time in Sri Lanka

Dec 15 (SAP) Tea is thought to have been discovered by the Chinese emperor Sheng Nung 5,000 years ago when some leaves fell into a cup of water. It began as a medicine and grew into a social beverage. Sri Lanka now produces over 280-million kilograms of tea every year from six tea districts. The industry employs 30, 000 workers. Harvested all year, Sri Lankan tea is exported to over 50 countries. more..

Three years on from the wave, a race against time to restore jewel of Galle

Dec 15 (GU) In Sri Lanka survival means something more profound than getting through another doosra-laden over from Muttiah Muralitharan. Galle, where the England players arrived yesterday, is a three-hour drive down the psychotic coastal road from Colombo, past the somnolent village of Bentota and the surfers' sea at Hikkaduwa. With its natural harbour, magnificent 16th-century Dutch fort, colonial villas and breathtaking beaches, this is one of the most beautiful graveyards in the world. more..

Budget: Born losers expose their ' impotency'

Dec 15 (AT) Friday's voting at the third budget of the Rajapaksa Government on Dec.14 exposed to the full glare of the world two born losers in Sri Lankan politics – Ranil Wickremesinghe and Anura Bandaranaike. The event also showed the pathetic idiocy of Sri Lanka's Westernized urban elite and sections of the business community who continue to look up to Wickremesinghe as 'leader' who would protect their class interests. more..

Tamil Nadu Govt asked to take action against pro-LTTE leaders

Dec 15 (LG) Expressing concern over reports of increasing activities of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu, Congress leader and Union Minister E V K S Elangovan today asked the state government to be vigilant and take action against political leaders expressing support to the banned outfit. Referring to the reported speech of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal (VC) President Thol Tirumavalavan, an ally of the ruling DMK, in support of the LTTE, he told reporters that the Government should take action against him if there was prima facie evidence. more..

Marauding Sri Lankan Army Members Deported from Haiti

Dec 15 (LG) Girls as young as 13 were having sex with U.N. peacekeepers for as little as $1. Five young Haitian women who followed soldiers back to Sri Lanka were forced into brothels or polygamous households. They have been rescued and brought home to warn others of the dangers of foreign liaisons. The young mother of a peacekeeper's child had to send the toddler to live with relatives in the countryside after other children and parents taunted him with the nickname "Little Minustah," the French acronym for the United Nations mission here. more..

“We Cannot Be Deterred or Daunted By Any Force” – UNP

Dec 15 (LG) "It is only the United National Party that had the courage and uprightness to fearlessly and frankly express its opposition and vote against the most vicious Budget of the Rajapakse regime .As always, the UNP has been a Party that has shown primary concern for the people. Therefore, it had to represent the will of the people by rejecting the wavering, anti national and despotic policies of the Govt. trampling and crushing the masses with untold burdens and hardships. more..

LTTE Key Arms Dealer Jailed in US

Dec 15 (LG) A federal judge in Baltimore Friday brushed aside prosecutors' calls to impose a hefty prison sentence on an Indonesian arms dealer who attempted to send almost $1 million worth of American military-class weapons to a Sri Lankan rebel group the LTTE. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake instead imposed a prison term of slightly more than three years for Haji Subandi, describing the recommended guidelines calculated for the case -- a prison term between 46 and 57 months -- as "somewhat higher than neces sary." more..

JVP members desperate at party's betrayal

Dec 15 (LeN) JVP is facing a severe ideological conflict due to its 37 MPs abstaining of voting at the third reading of the budget. JVP MPs had to vote against the budget at the second reading since the majority of the JVP-affiliated trade unions and student organizations protested the budget. After that, the JVP was repeatedly stating that their stance on the budget would not change and the party had no need from the people's side to defend the Prsident Mahinda Rajapakse or the Government. more..

BOI accused of massive wastage of funds

Dec 15 (LD) The Board of Investment has been accused of mismanagement, wasting funds and curtailing the rightful privileges of its employees. The “Organization to Protect the BOI” claims that the state-owned investment promotion body spends Rs. 60 million every month for the maintenance of its head office that occupies six floors of the World Trade Centre. This is despite the availability of three floors of empty space at a BOI-owned five-story building at Sir Baron Jayatilake Mawatha. more..

Sri Lanka Jan-Oct trade deficit narrows to $2.85 bln

Dec 15 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's trade deficit narrowed slightly to $2.85 billion in the first ten months of 2007 from $2.96 billion in the same period last year, the central bank said on Friday. However, analysts warned that the recent appreciation of the rupee plus high inflation and interest rates could undermine the trade performance in the near future. "Exports have done well, but the question is: can it be sustained, with the currency losing its advantage while high inflation and high interest rates affect the cost of production?" more..

Transfer of top Bribery Commission police officer raises eyebrows

Dec 15 (LD) The transfer of the police officer in charge of assets investigation of the Bribery Commission sends a signal of intimidation to its other officials who probe the assets of the top government hierarchy, Director-General of the Commission Piyasena Ranasinghe says. The official, Chief Inspector P.A. Premashantha, has been posted to the Ampara Police Division with immediate effect by the IGP. more..

Anti-Sri Lanka moves deterred at Human Rights Council

Dec 15 (GDI) The resumed Sixth Session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva from 10th to 14th of December '07 concluded with no resolution moved or any action taken on Sri Lanka despite an intense campaign. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in a joint open letter had called upon the Council to 'press' and 'push' Sri Lanka into accepting a UN human rights monitoring mission. more..

China to assist Kandy development

Dec 15 (GDI) The Government of China has expressed willingness to assist Sri Lanka with several development projects in the district of Kandy. This decision of the Chinese Government was conveyed to Central Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa by the visiting Chinese Minister of Construction Weng Guwanto at a meeting held in Kandy yesterday (14). The visiting Minister has considered supporting the relocation of Peradeniya town as proposed by the Urban Development Ministry and more..

Astronaut Alexey Leonov Guest of Honor at Sir Arthur C. Clarke felicitation

Dec 15 (GDI) World renowned Astronaut Alexey Leonov wil be in Sri Lanka as a Secial Guest of Honour at the 90th birthday ceremony of Sir Arthur C Clarke, which falls on December 16. The ceremony, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be held at the Central Bank Auditorium tomorrow (16) at 5.00 p.m. under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama will deliver the welcome address. more..

Government to introduce biometric system to combat illegal migration

Dec 15 (GDI) A new biometric system will be introduced by the Government as a mean of combating illegal migration and the amendments would be made to the Foreign Employment Act to facilitate this move. The Ministry of Child Development and Women's Empowerment in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched a consultation on December 13, to bring together stakeholders to share information and collaborate more closely on interventions of human trafficking, smuggling, transnational crime and exploitation. more..

Kalabhooshana Awards Festival today

Dec 15 (GDI) The Kalabhooshana Awards Festival is to be held today at the John De Silva Memorial Theatre, under the patronage of Cultural Affairs Minister, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. The event is organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs in order to honour prominent artistes over the age of 60 who have made a significant contribution in varied fields of art. Today is also the National Artistes Day and 125 Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim artists will receive Kalabhooshana awards. more..

FM to discuss REMs with UNICEF

Dec 15 (SAMN) The CID and Foreign Ministry officials will meet UNICEF representatives on December 17 to discuss the controversial import of ‘ready-to-eat-meals’ (REM) packs and fixing of bullet proof plates on one of the UNICEF vehicles, Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama informed parliament Friday. The Ministry investigations into the UNICEF follows the JVP accusing it of importing a consignment of ‘ready to eat meals’ for the use of LTTE cadres. more..

Chief accused attempts suicide in court

Dec 15 (SAMN) In a dramatic turn of events the main accused in the massive Ward Place drug-find case was rushed to hospital after allegedly consuming poison while judgment was being read out against him at the Colombo High court Friday. While the High Court Judge was reading out the judgment the main accused Mohamed Shyam Mohammed Shmoon who was in the dock took a bottle of pink liquid and drank it despite the attempt by a court sergeant to prevent it. more..

I will encourage my son: Rohitha

Dec 15 (SAMN) With controversy swirling over the position of his son in the Foreign Ministry, Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Friday asserted he saw nothing wrong in his son Dhakshitha accompanying him on foreign state visits and said he would continue to take his son along with him. The Foreign Minister was responding to a query over a media statement on the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting released on Dhakshitha’s personal email recently. more..

Govt. to blame if relatives harmed: TNA

Dec 15 (SAMN) The TNA told parliament yesterday it would hold Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara and the government responsible if any harm should come to the relatives of three TNA members abducted by an armed group in Batticaloa. TNA leader R. Sampanthan said the government knows what had taken place. “The government knows what has happened,” he said. Sampanthan said the son-in-law of MP T. Kanagasabai was abducted preventing him from voting at the second reading of the budget. more..

‘A clear victory for the fight against terror’

Dec 15 (DN) The blessings of the Maha Sangha are with the Government to defeat terrorism and usher permanent peace in the country and the victory at the budget was a victory of the nation at a time the country was heading towards defeating terrorism, the Anunayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Ven. Galagama Attadassi Thera said. The Nayaka Thera pointed that though the intention of those groups who made efforts to defeat the budget was not clear, those who worked towards the victory of the budget has fulfilled a national requirement on their part. more..

Int'l religious leaders stress need for peace

Dec 15 (DN) All of Sri Lanka and all Sri Lankans have paid a high price in terms of lives lost, economic opportunities foregone and in the weakening of the moral fabric of society, says a statement issued after the conclusion of the International Summit of Religious leaders on peace in Sri Lanka. Yasushi Akashi, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan addressing the meeting referred to the irreplaceable value of the religious leadership in peace making. more..

'Increased liquid milk consumption will reduce oil prices'

Dec 15 (Island) Increasing liquid milk consumption whilst reducing the importation of powdered milk would highly impact on bringing down prevailing oil prices, said Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Asantha de Mel yesterday participating in a liquid milk promotional campaign. He said the amount of money that Sri Lanka spends for powdered milk importation is only second to that of what it spends for petroleum imports. more..

The Budget Battle is over!

Dec 15 (Island) The government has secured the passage of its budget hands down with a majority of 47 votes. The Opposition could muster only 67 votes while the government got 114. The JVP abstained as we editorially pointed out while many others speculated it would vote against the budget and bring down the government. Even if the JVP had voted with the Opposition, the government would still have won comfortably. more..

Floral wreath creates chaos in House

Dec 15 (DM) The much-anticipated budget vote ended in Parliament yesterday with rowdy scenes after some government members placed a flower wreath before the bench occupied by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, drawing an angry reaction from the UNP MPs. Shortly after Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara announced the results of the vote, Non- Cabinet Ministers Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Jagath Pushpakumara trooped into the Well of the House and placed a floral wreath before Mr. Wickremesinghe. more..

Patients to be given option to obtain medicinal drugs under generic names

Dec 15 (DM) Patients will have the right to obtain their prescriptions in generic name as Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry is introducing legislation to make it compulsory for doctors prescribe medicinal drugs in generic names, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nima Siripala Dc Silva said. The minister said private doctors prescribing drugs by the trade name will be required to inform the patient about the availability of the drugs by the generic name. more..

Muslim Congress expels Baiz & Nijamudeen

Dec 15 (LD) The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress has expelled Deputy Ministers K. Baiz and S. Nijamudeen from the party. The decision was taken at a meeting of the party’s High Command today. The two continued to remain in the government, while SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem and three other party MPs crossed over to the opposition recently. Hakeem said that his decision was prompted by the government’s failure to address issues of the Muslim community.

Sri Lanka eye second spot behind Australia

Dec 15 (AFP) Mahela Jayawardene's Sri Lanka will leapfrog from world number five to second behind Australia if they win the third and final Test against England starting here on Tuesday. A win would give the hosts a 2-0 series success and lift Jayawardene's men past India, South Africa and England in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Test rankings. England would take the reverse route, going down to five from the current number two, if they lost the Test. more..

31 rebels, 1 soldier killed in series of clashes in Sri Lanka's volatile north

Dec 15 (AP) Clashes between Sri Lankan soldiers and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's embattled north left 31 guerrillas and one soldier dead, the military said Saturday. Soldiers and rebels exchanged artillery, mortar and small arms fire Friday in two villages in Mannar district, just south of the rebel-held north, said Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman. The fighting left 17 rebels and one soldier dead and five other soldiers wounded, he said. more..

Sri Lanka's inflation rockets to 24.1-pct amidst record money printing

Dec 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's country-wide inflation hit a record 24.1 percent in October 2007, following one of the worst bouts of money printing seen since the island's central bank was created five decades ago. The Sri Lanka Consumer Price Index (SLCPI) devised a decade ago to reflect the modern spending patterns of Sri Lankans, has now hit the highest level since its creation in January 1998. more..

Beyond the budget

Dec 16 (LR) After all the hustle and bustle, the government won the budget by 47 votes. Now the parliament has been adjourned until January next year and there will be a period of political stability so that government can concentrate on ending the war against terrorism in winning note and also to set up basis for its economic strategy on national economy. So far the opposition had so many attempts to oust this government with various dead lines and now they should let some time for the government to full fill the mandates in Mahinda Chinthanaya. more..

Galle faces race against time

Dec 16 (CI) The newly reconstructed stadium at Galle is facing a race against time to be fit for the third Test between Sri Lanka and England on Tuesday, after heavy unseasonal rain hindered the attempts of groundstaff and construction workers to put the finishing touches to their preparations. With just three days to go until the final Test of the series, much of the playing area was underwater, while workmen were still laying paving and building ticket-booths on the concourse in front of the new pavilion. more..

Why The Muslim Congress quit the Rajapakse Govt

Dec 16 (FI) The latest decision by the SLMC to quit the Government led by President Mahinda Rajapakse has caused controversy. The timing of the SLMC’s move has led to much speculation that the party decision was tied up with the Budget’s third reading vote on Dec 14th. While this may be true to some extent it would be a mistake to regard the SLMC move ftom that perspective alone. The political compulsions that caused the SLMC to act as it did are much more complex and problematic. more..

Prabakharan Injured Slightly in Air Force Bombing

Dec 16 (TC) Velupillai Prabakharan the elusive chief of the LTTE has sustained minor injuries in aerial bombardment by the Sri Lankan Air Force in the last week of November!. Although the injuries are not of a serious nature the LTTE supremo was treated at an underground medical facility in a secret location by the Thileepan medical unit it is learnt. The LTTE is keeping the entire incident under wraps because of the demoralising effect it may have on cadres and supporters of the movement. more..

Galle's committed curator

Dec 16 (CI) No one has shown as much commitment to the Galle International Stadium that Jayananda Warnaweera has. It was his heart and soul until the morning of December 26, 2004. The tsunami came and destroyed all what he had worked for since 1998, the year when the stadium hosted its inaugural Test match. To see it spring to life on December 18 when it hosts the third Test between Sri Lanka and England, almost three years to the day after the devastation, is something Warnaweera is unable to describe in words. more..

Govt. runs helter skelter to keep its house from falling apart

Dec 16 (SL) It was the stuff thrillers are made of and the plot moved at such break neck pace it left those political heavyweights involved in the drama breathless as the drama finally climaxed in the corridors of parliament with the government getting home comfortably thanks to a double cross by the JVP and a last minute change of heart by the CWC. President Mahinda Rajapakse will no doubt rue the day he challenged the opposition on national television just weeks back to defeat the budget if they can, more..

High drama over a budget vote

Dec 16 (SL) A week ago, we predicted a photo finish and so it was on Friday. It was to be a politically tumultuous week, almost touch and go, quick sand situations and plenty of theatrics as the third and final vote on the budget scheduled for December 14 approached. While the government barely managed to salvage itself on Friday and the third Mahinda Rajapakse budget with just 114 votes in favour, the JVP again smugly showed up as the party that holds the key, more..

Basil thanks JVP for saving Govt.

Dec 16 (SL) The government on Friday thanked the JVP for abstaining from voting at the third reading of the budget in order to help pass the 2008 budget. Senior Presidential Advisor, Parliamentarian Basil Rajapakse soon after the third reading vote concluded extended a special thank you to the JVP for abstaining from voting during the third reading vote that helped the government pass the budget with a majority of 47 votes. more..

Basil Rules

Dec 16 (SL) President Mahinda Rajapakse's administration has so far become the first government to become unpopular as well as uncertain within such a short period of time. Many SLFP members have blamed Rajapakse's brother Basil for the present crisis. Basil Rajapakse paraded as the man with brains and the strategist, and soon after Rajapakse formed his government in November 2005, he became one of the most powerful men in the government. more..

JR’s Constitution, Chilcott, Crossovers and Alluringly Sri Lankan Idiosyncrasies

Dec 16 (AT) Wafer thin Parliamentary majorities deriving from J R Jayewardene’s 1978 constitution continue to breed crossovers with a vengeance. Some pundits have called them an esoteric phenomenon, an alluringly Sri Lankan depiction of political idiosyncrasy. Others called it the bane of legislative excesses. It has assumed mythical proportions, prompting the British High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott to note in a recent speech that official vehicles, bodyguards, fuel allowances can be used to persuade MPs to cross the floor. more..

Veterans on a cricket mission to Sri Lanka

Dec 16 (Hindu) Invoking the spirit with which they played the game when young and exuding confidence of performing well, a 23-member veterans’ cricket team under the banner of the Kerala Veterans’ Cricket Association (KVCA) left for Sri Lanka on Saturday. Led by the former Kerala Ranji team captain and all-rounder S. Ramesh, the team includes the former Indian wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani. more..

Statement: Religious leaders on peace in Sri Lanka

Dec 16 (Scoop) Religious leaders from Sri Lanka and six other countries (Cambodia, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa and the United States) met in Jaffna for an Inter Religious Summit on Peace in Sri Lanka on December 12-13, 2007. The meeting was organized by the World Conference of Religions for Peace in partnership with the National Conference of Religions for Peace and the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka. more..

Beyond the Budget

Dec 16 (AT) It was a repeat performance of an old movie. The JVP can be depended on to prop up the PA so long as Ranil Wickremesinghe remains the leader of the UNP. There would have been supplementary reasons for the JVP’s decision to abstain from Friday’s voting: the certitude that its parliamentary strength would be reduced by more than half in any future election and the fear of losing the Sinhala hardline soul to its bête-noir, the JHU, may have prompted the JVP to abstain from voting in any case. more..

Former Shotgun Terrorists Duck & Dive to Protect Their Seats

Dec 16 (LG) Unpredictable Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) was exposed of dilly dally dancing during the budget debates and voting. It had the determination to harp on the government over its financial mismanagement of the country throughout even to the extent of voting against the budget in the first round. When it came to the third reading, its position was no different in attacking the government, but decided to support it by playing the game of abstaining from voting. more..

The Budget Mess

Dec 16 (ISL) Sri Lanka Government under President Mahinda Rajapakse won the 3rd reading of the 2008 Budget today (14) by 47 votes. 38 MPs abstained from voting. The victory is a relief for the state engaged in a deadly duel of skirmishes with the LTTE in the Vanni. Several observations can be made of the victory today; 1. A lack of political intelligence on the part of the Opposition and the JVP- The opposition expected the Ceylon Workers Congress to vote against the budget. more..