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What is Christmas without helping the poor?

Dec 25 (CP) Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The date of the celebration is traditional, and is not considered to be his actual date of birth. Christmas festivities often combine the commemoration of Jesus’ birth with various secular customs, many of which have been influenced by earlier winter festivals. Modern traditions have come to include the display of Nativity scenes, Holly and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards and the arrival of Father Christmas or Santa Claus on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. more..

Get out of your comfort zone

Dec 25 (CI) What makes our series win against England special is that we were coming back from a disappointing series in Australia, where as a team we had failed to make any headway. To come back and prove to ourselves as well as the spectators that we were still a good side, we needed a strong performance, and we couldn't have done any better than coming back from 42 for 5 on the first morning and showing the character and the fight that we did. more..

3 years into tsunami, nearly 9,000 families still homeless

Dec 25 (LD) The third anniversary of the Asian tsunami falls tomorrow (Dec. 26th). However, an estimated 8,865 families who were displaced after the devastation still live in welfare camps, while a total of 21,899 families are yet to be provided with permanent housing. These figures were given by Secretary to the Ministry of Nation Building K.K.W. Kumarasiri at a media briefing at the Government Information Department yesterday. more..

Jaffna Bishop in Xmas msg. asks govt. to give “acceptable solution”

Dec 25 (LD) In a Christmas message, Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Saundaranayagam has called upon the government to put forward an acceptable solution that can create understanding and unity among communities. “Please start the stalled peace talks without any delay," he called on both parties, and told them to seek reconciliation and peace. “We are facing this year’s Christmas in an environment of fear. more..

Prima ups flour price by Rs. 9

Dec 25 (LD) Prima Company has increased the price of wheat flour by Rs. 9.00 per kilo effective from midnight yesterday. However, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said he was neither aware nor granted permission for a flour price hike. The Company previously raised the price on September 29th by Rs. 13. This, in effect, saw a drastic increase in the prices of all flour-based products, with an ordinary loaf of bread costing between Rs. 35 to Rs. 40. more..

Anura B. writes to IGP on withdrawal of his security

Dec 25 (LD) Parliamentarian Anura Bandaranaike has written to the IGP regarding the withdrawal of his security moments after he crossed over from the government at the vote on the third reading of Budget 2008. In the letter, Bandaranaike says his life is in serious danger following the removal of 70 of his 72 security personnel even before 10 minutes elapsed after he sat in the opposition. more..

Fmr. Airport & Aviation chief arrested

Dec 25 (LD) Former Chairman of the Airport and Aviation Services Limited Kurukulasuriya Gregory Anslem Peiris has been arrested and produced before courts in connection with an alleged financial irregularity. This follows a complaint lodged by “The Organization to Protect the Airport and Aviation Services Limited” with the Bribery Commission on February 13th this year. more..

Govt. 'trying to rob' east elections

Dec 25 (BBC) Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka have accused the government of trying to rob Tamil votes in the eastern province. The Sri Lankan government has decided to hold the local body polls in the eastern province. Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Rauff Hakeem told BBC Sandeshaya that the government is trying to win the elections at any cost. However, the SLMC would contest the elections, the former Telecom Minister in Rajapaksa administration said. more..

President approves Rs.50 m for flood relief

Dec 25 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has approved Rs. 50 million to carry out relief work in flood affected districts, according to Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Badiudeen. Addressing the media at his Ministry yesterday, the minister said that 54,841 families numbering 209,038 persons have been affected in Ampara, Badulla, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura and Anuradhapura districts. more..

Peace on Earth, the Christmas message - PM

Dec 25 (GDI) Peace on Earth is the message of Christmas. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem he was called the Prince of Peace, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka said in a Christmas message. The Prime Minister added: "Jesus Christ was instrumental in changing the social patterns of his time by devoting his life to propagate the ideals of universal peace, kindness, compassion and human love. more..

Pope calls for end to conflicts

Dec 25 (BBC) Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for just solutions to the conflicts in Middle East, Iraq, Africa and elsewhere in his annual Christmas message. He denounced terrorism and violence that victimised children and women. His address came as millions of Christians around the world celebrated the traditional day of Christ's birth. Earlier, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the biblical site of Jesus's birth, thousands of worshippers celebrated midnight Mass. more..

Defeat sent Mangala out of his mind - Wimal

Dec 25 (LNP) JVP Propaganda Secretary and Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa said SLFP (M) wing convener and ousted Minister Mangala Samaraweera was out of his mind in the aftermath of the the December 14 debacle in Parliament. He was commenting on remarks made by Samaraweera, that he (Weerawansa) was a pet of arms dealers, in an interview with a weekend newspaper. `Those who dared to dream of usurping power through illegal means and to win portfolios have gone mad after the December 14 loss. more..

Palihakkara appointed to UN advisory panel

Dec 25 (LNP) UN sources in New York report that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has invited former Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka H. M. G. S. Palihakkara to be a member of the Secretary General`s Advisory board dealing with arms control and related international security matters. The 22 member advisory body created by the UN general assembly to advise the Secretary General also acts as the Board of Trustees of the United Nation`s arms control research institute (UNIDIR). more..

Sri Lankan names cause Italian computers to break down

Dec 25 (LNP) December 15 was `D Day` for most Sri Lankans living in Italy, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, who had always dreamt of working in Italy. The Italian government, having considered the representations made by the Embassy for Sri Lanka in Italy, increased the quota of jobs for Sri Lanka to 3,500. The immigration authorities also made some changes in the application format. Last year, the applications were received from Sri Lankans and their sponsors at the Post Offices in Italy where thousands queued up in the bitter cold days before the appointed date. more..

Some Christmas thoughts

Dec 25 (LNP) It never rains but it pours! Floods have displaced thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of houses. Some bridges have given way and many roads are still under water. The flood level continues to rise in some areas aggravating the suffering of the victims. Eight districts have been badly hit. Wrath of weather gods seems to know no bounds. In the North, the military and the LTTE are girding up their loins for what is considered an imminent showdown. more..

Nominations called for Batti polls

Dec 25 (SAMN) Nominations for nine local government bodies in the Batticaloa District will be accepted from January 14 to 21, Local Government Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon said Monday. The gazette notification calling for nominations from recognised political parties and independent groups fielding candidates will be released on January 4 he said, adding the date of the election will be announced by another gazette notification. more..

100 cars for Police

Dec 25 (SAMN) The Defence Ministry has decided to purchase 100 cars for the use of the Police Department soon, officials said. “The Chairman, Cabinet appointed Procurement Committee, on behalf of the Police Department will receive sealed bids in respect of supply of 100 Cars – 1298cc-1498cc- for the Sri Lanka Police Department,” a paper advertisement published by Ministry of Defence, Public Security Law and Order said. more..

LTTE should accept IEC: Devananda

Dec 25 (SAMN) Social Services and Social Welfare Minister and EPDP leader Douglas asserts the LTTE will have no choice but to accept proposals for an Interim Executive Council (IEC) to conduct the affaires in the North East as it is agreeable to all stakeholders to the conflict. Minister Devananda who has proposed the IEC to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, however emphasised it is not the final solution but will be a start towards the final solution and more..

Floods displace 175,000

Dec 25 (SAMN) Flash flooding in east and central Sri Lanka has forced 175,000 people from their homes, with many seeking refuge in makeshift welfare centres in schools and temples, officials said Monday. Heavy rains on Sunday and Monday caused a reservoir to burst its banks in the eastern district of Batticaloa, where more than 40,000 families comprising around 150,000 people were displaced, said Ramya Siriwansa, deputy director emergency operations at the National Disaster Management Centre. more..

Programme to prevent epidemics in flooded areas

Dec 25 (DN) Health Ministry epidemiologists will visit flood-hit areas in the Eastern province to check if there are any epidemics after the floods. Health Ministry Director General Dr. Ajith Mendis said yesterday that the Ministry epidemiologists were despatched to flood-hit Ampara to check for any potential widespread disease, be it diarrhoea or fever. Torrential rains in Ampara, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa districts during the last few days have triggered floods and landslides causing damage to property and displacing more than 30,000 people. more..

Serious attention should be paid to uplift Indian Tamils - Chandrasekaran

Dec 25 (DN) Indian origin people in other countries should think seriously about uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the community, Community Development and Social Iniquity Eradication Minister P. Chandrasekaran said. He was addressing the ninth International Conference of World Indian Origin People in Malaysia from December 14-16. It is a historically important programme to meet and discuss with the representatives of Indian Origins living in developed countries and developing countries representing 200 million people, he said. more..

Anura claims now exposed to ‘Prabhakaran’s assassins’

Dec 25 (DM) Former Minister Anura Bandaranaike yesterday made his protest to the Inspector General of Police against the withdrawal of his security while claiming that he is now exposed to ‘Prabhakaran’s assassins’. “Within ten minutes of my sitting in the opposition benches 72 men of my security contingent had been withdrawn,” the former Heritage Minister said in a letter to the IGP. He also said that he was supposed to be amongst the first 40 on the LTTE’s hit-list. more..

Council Chairman to hand final report on December 31

Dec 25 (DM) The sessions of the Commission of Inquiry probing the charges against the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) came to an end yesterday with lawyer for the plaintiff reiterating his call to the Council to plead guilty as the charges can be proven beyond any doubt. However, Deputy Mayor S. Rajendran said he would submit written evidence on certain malpractices carried out by a certain official of the Council. more..

DS to take on Jaffna lads!

Dec 25 (Island) Former Sri Lanka leg spinner, Somachandra de Silva, who hails from southern Sri Lanka, and played in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England, at the Colombo Oval, in 1982, who was appointed cricket advisor to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, last week, has been tasked with developing and spreading the game in the country's war-hit north and north-eastern regions. more..

NIA an inspiration for anti-corruption movement-Weliamuna

Dec 25 (Island) The overall objective of the National Integrity Awards (NIA), held recently was to make it a source of inspiration for the anti corruption movement, Transperancy International Sri Lanka(TISL) Chairman J. C. Weliamuna said. "The NIA organized by TISL for the fourth consecutive year, sought to recognize the courage and determination of those fighting corruption against all odds and make such people a source of inspiration for the anti corruption movement. more..

Sri Lankan maids to get a pay hike from Jan.

Dec 25 (KT) Sri Lankan housemaids in the UAE will have to be paid a minimum salary of Dh825 per month from January 1, 2008. Officials from the Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai yesterday told Khaleej Times that the Sri Lankan missions have notified recruiting agents of the revised minimum wages. The Sri Lankan government has revised the minimum wages of housemaids in the entire Gulf. more..

Prachanda to Prabhakaran: Stop terror attacks

Dec 25 (PTI) In an interesting turn of events, the once-feared Nepalese guerrilla leader Prachanda has reportedly said Tamil Tiger supremo Vellupillai Prabhakaran should stop terrorist attacks on civilians and politicians. "LTTE leader Prabhakaran must stop his suicide bomb attacks on politicians and civil society," said Prachanda, whose Maoist party returned to political mainstream in Nepal after signing a landmark peace deal last year. more..

Military: 14 rebels killed in artillery fire, gunbattles in northeast Sri Lanka

Dec 25 (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers killed 14 Tamil separatists in an artillery attack and gunbattles in the embattled northeast, the military said Tuesday. Troops stationed along the northern front line in Pokkaravai village, Vavuniya district, came under heavy mortar fire by Tamil Tiger rebels Monday, a Defense Ministry official said. Troops repelled the attack with artillery fire, killing two guerrillas, the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. more..

Sri Lanka's militarism keeping tourists and investments away

Dec 25 (IANS) Sri Lanka figures intermittently in the British news media, but the coverage does not really prepare first-time visitors to the country like me who usually get a different sort of information in universities and the media. A week travelling across the country recently brought to me the reality of Sri Lanka's conflict-ridden everyday life. As a white Westerner, I was immediately absorbed by the many Colombo-based NGO workers, or 'internationals', as they refer themselves. more..

Distortions seen in Sri Lanka's tsunami recovery

Dec 25 (IANS) Sri Lanka's recovery from the devastating tsunami of December 2004 has been uneven. Rehabilitation work has notched up significant successes in the Sinhalese-dominated and more peaceful south, but it has suffered greatly in the war-torn northeast, which has a preponderance of the minority Tamils and Muslims. And it was the northeast, which took the brunt of the killer waves on Boxing Day, which destroyed about 121,000 houses and killed over 30,000 in the island. more..

Graft, fighting hinders Sri Lanka's tsunami recovery

Dec 25 (AFP) Graft and renewed fighting has blocked relief to Sri Lanka's tsunami survivors with less than a fifth of money pledged properly accounted for three years later, according to watchdogs. Sri Lanka's government claims success in rebuilding homes destroyed by the disaster, but international agencies say big problems remain. Huge amounts of foreign cash that poured in did not reach its intended destination. more..

Lankan golfer Mithun wins Goodricke Eastern India title

Dec 26 (IANS) Sri Lankan Mithun Perera rallied from being two holes down after the first 18 to beat Gagan Verma in the 36-hole final Goodricke Eastern India amateur golf. Perera, son of Nandasena Perera, the most famous golfer from Sri Lanka, won 4 & 3 to take the 11th leg of the LG Indian Amateur Golf Tour. Gagan, who was 2-up after the first 18, not only lost his tempo but the match and title to Perera who was brilliant on the greens. more..

Living under the shadow of tsunami in Sri Lanka

Dec 26 (KT) THREE years ago on December 26, tsunami struck Sri Lanka. Not many people knew the word, tsunami, then. A joke that was doing the rounds even before the country could come to terms with the worst catastrophe in its annals said it all. It went like this: An aide to our then prime minister told him, “Sir, tsunami has come to Sri Lanka.” The premier, who thought it was an unannounced visit by a dignitary from Japan, Sri Lanka’s biggest donor, responded by saying, “rush a welcome party to the airport”. more..

Chiefs to testify against Tamils

Dec 26 (TA) SRI Lanka's most senior military figures will give evidence against three Melbourne Tamils accused of raising money in Australia to fund a terrorism campaign in their homeland. The trio - Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, Sivarajah Yathavan and Arumugam Rajeevan - have been committed to stand trial in the Victorian Supreme Court next year. They have pleaded not guilty. The men, who were accused of being members of the LTTE group, entered their pleas last week after about six weeks of sporadic hearings, which began in September in Melbourne Magistrates Court. more..

Narasimhan takes over as new chairman of Lanka IOC

Dec 26 (PTI) S V Narasimhan has taken over as Chairman of Lanka IOC from Sarthak Behuria who relinquished office recently. A chartered accountant and a management expert by profession, Narasimhan has rich experience of working in the oil sector for over three decades, says a company statement. Narasimhan joined Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, India in 1975. Before joining as Director (Finance) in Indian Oil Corporation Ltd on July 1, 2005, he had been holding the position of Managing Director in Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd since November 2002. more..

Sri Lankan minister visits NLC

Dec 26 (PTI) Sri Lankan Water Resources minister Mahendra Amara Veera, along with a team of scientists, has undertaken a visit to the Neyveli Lignite Corporation(NLC) and its lignite mines to study the groundwater recharging system. The team, which left NLC on Monday evening, winding up their two-day visit, inspected the water treatment plants, excavation of lignite in open cast mines and also power generation in the thermal plants, NLC Assistant Manager S Venugopal told PTI. more..

'Release' French journalists

Dec 26 (BBC) Media watchdogs in Sri Lanka have strongly protested the arrest of French video journalists by the military on the eve of Christmas in a southern Sri Lankan city. The Free Media Movement (FMM) says two French journalists who were video recording a road block together with a Tamil family of 11 were arrested near Boossa military camp, near Galle. Journalists Capucine Henri and C. Siomon of France 24 news channel were filming a Tamil family visiting their detained relatives on Christmas eve at the time they were arrested by the military. more..

Israel's post-tsunami work in Sri Lanka bears fruit

Dec 26 (JP) "When the stage of the immediate disaster relief is over, the media, the celebrities and even most of the donors are gone," Dr. Yehudah Paz, chairman of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPD), said last week. Not so the NISPD, one of several Israeli organizations that initiated a program to assist Sri Lankan cooperatives to get back on their feet after the 2004 tsunami ruined their livelihood. more..

CIA firmly rooted in Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse Administration

Dec 26 (AT) There was very little reference to Sri Lanka’s military operation which has partially de-stabilized the once invincible Tamil Tigers. As to why the UNP took a step or two back from its once declared policy plank of ‘Federal Solution to Sri Lanka’s National Question’, the Sri Lankan expatriates here in Las Vegas were told that the party was not in favor of labeling the unit of devolution but will decide on the unit as political developments progress. more..

JVP attacks the Kamikaze ideology of UNESCO

Dec 26 (AT) In critical statement of the role played by the Director General of the UNESCO, K. Matsura, the JVP, the third largest party in Sri Lanka, has questioned "the Kamikaze ideology and the partisan posturing for selective bombing of radio stations." Matsura released a statement criticizing the Sri Lankan Air Force bombing the Voice of the Tigers (VOT). This statement raised a howl of protest from Sri Lankans who objected to the partisan role played by Matsura. more..

Private sector wrath on Mahinda

Dec 26 (BL) The country’s private sector is fuming over President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s failure to intervene and prevent his Foreign Minister from effecting what appear to be ill advised moves to recall envoy in Brussels, amidst crucial negotiations for trade concessions from the European Union (EU). The victim is Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Brussels and former Director General of Commerce K.G. Weerasinghe, who is a top public servant. more..

Emirates-Govt. fiasco to fly into international court?

Dec 26 (BL) Speculation was rife that Emirates Airlines was considering taking the fiasco with the Sri Lankan Government to international court. Last week, Emirates, which manages and part owns SriLankan Airlines, fired a letter to the government that it has violated the shareholder agreement between the two parties. The specific violation is the cancellation of the work permit of Emirates-seconded CEO SriLankan Airlines, Peter Hill. more..

Govt., LTTE snub church call for ceasefire

Dec 26 (BL) Marking an end to an uninterrupted tradition, the government and the LTTE have openly snubbed a call from the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka to announce a temporary ceasefire during Christmas, as practised during the last few years. Media Centre for National Security Director General Lakshman Hulugalle blamed the LTTE for the government’s failure to announce a cessation of hostilities during Christmas, as practised in the past. more..

LTTE is a one-man-show

Dec 26 (BL) “If LTTE leader Prabhakaran is killed, the LTTE would collapse because it is a centralized organisation. As its leader, Prabhakaran is the sole decision maker, and within the LTTE there isn’t a second leadership.” This comment was made to The Bottom Line by Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka. “After Prabhakaran’s demise there will be a struggle for leadership,” he said, adding that the Army was heading towards its targets. more..

Perspectives on Politics and Prabhakaran in Sri Lanka

Dec 26 (FI) The recent success of President Rajapaksa in cruising his budget proposals with a combination of carrot, stick, muscle power, rhetoric and backroom deals (ultimately they always come to light in Sri Lanka) through a divided house has underlined his strategy of ‘hastening slowly.’ This phrase, an oxymoron (a rhetorical figure of speech in which contradictory terms are used together), aptly describes not only the budget process but also the happenings in Sri Lanka, more..

Federalism and the ‘Federal Option’ for Sri Lanka (Part 01)

Dec 26 (LG) When the LTTE leader Prabhakaran declared in the course of his ‘Heroes’ Day Message’ of 27 November 2002 that: “We are prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offers substantial regional autonomy and self-government in our homeland on the basis of the right to internal self-determination”, many observers believed that it represented a major change in the core objectives of his “liberation movement”. more..

Sri Lanka meets reserve money targets, inflation goes haywire

Dec 26 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank kept its policy rates frozen in December with inflation raging close to 20 percent a month before, but said reserve money targets have been met this year. The Central Bank's policy rates remained unchanged at 12.00 percent, far below inflation as the monetary authority kept rates frozen for nearly 10 months in a row. However access to its discount window has been tightened and more..

South Sri Lanka moves on from tsunami, war curses north

Dec 26 (Reuters) Sri Lankan housewife D.W. Leelawathi can still picture the 2004 tsunami as if it were yesterday, but three years on she and thousands like her are finally back in homes they can call their own and are moving on. Standing among piles of sand, earth and rock in her front garden, the smell of fresh-cut wood still permeating the air as her new home nears completion, Leelawathi, 69, gestures to a nearby rail track, torn up as the tsunami swept away a passing train killing 1,270 people on board. more..

Hopefully a new Sri Lanka with contradictions and a new God

Dec 26 (ISL) Dull it may look this Christmas, there is a glittering trend of holiday travel with government Ministers flying off far on official visits and extending the stay for private reasons. A few opposition Ministers too have resorted to these extended stays abroad. Ah yes! There is a group who are officially still in the UNP that’s in the opposition but sit with the President at cabinet meetings, a privilege no other democracy would allow in any other country. more..

Project Beacon in perspective

Dec 26 (ISL) At a closed-door session held in the Norwegian capital Oslo in December 2005, the then newly elected government of Sri Lanka presented Project Beacon to its international donors. After enjoying planned success for just over a year, Project Beacon has began to go pear shaped amid stiff resistance from the LTTE and increasing agitation from the international backers for strict adherence to timeline. more..