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Rupee at 5th straight low, shares fall

Sep 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's rupee weakened to a fifth straight closing life low on Tuesday amid high importer demand for dollars to settle trade bills, while stocks fell as small investors sold select blue chip shares, dealers said. The rupee closed at 113.57/113.62 per dollar, surpassing the previous all-time low of 113.48/113.54 hit on Monday. "Importers bought dollars to settle trade bills while some banks bought for short-covering," a currency dealer said. more..

World Bank, UN join battle to claw back corrupt leaders spoils

Sep 18 (AFP) The World Bank and United Nations on Monday threw their backing behind developing nations seeking to recover assets pilfered by corrupt leaders, unveiling a scheme to lend muscle to their claims. "There should be no safe haven for those who steal from the poor," World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said, adding the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative was a warning to corrupt leaders "that they will not escape the law." more..

JR-style satyagraha to topple government: Ranil

Sep 18 (LNP) Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinge yesterday called on all parties including the JVP and the LSSP to join hands with the UNP in its struggle to establish the sovereignty of the people. Speaking at a ceremony held at party headquarters to mark the 101st birth anniversary of late President J.R. Jayewardene, Mr. Wickremesinghe said the UNP would launch a J.R. Jayewardene-style sathyagraha to topple the government. more..

Monk Killed By Robbers

Sep 18 (LNP) An 84-year-old Buddhist monk was found dead in his temple at Ihala Morawatte in Ruwanwella on Saturday (15). OIC Ruwanwella police Sanjaya Irasinghe told The Island yesterday (17) that investigations revealed the monk, Ven. Ganegoda Janananda Thera, the chief incumbent of the Sri Wickrama Rajasingharamya, had been murdered. It was suspected that two men had broken into his temple and killed him in the process. more..

SC halts driving licence for 5 monks

Sep 18 (LNP) The Supreme Court yesterday halted five petitions filed by Buddhist monks seeking permission to obtain driving licence. The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Shirani Thilakawardena and Saleem Marsoof made the order following an application filed by the Commissioner of Motor Traffic. Earlier Ven. Paragoda Wimalawansa Thera filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal asking that the Commissioner of Motor Traffic be given an order to issue him an application for a driving licence. more..

More interest in indigenous goods: PM

Sep 18 (SAMN) Local industries which crashed with the influx of foreign goods to the market are now slowly picking up. People accustomed to foreign goods are today showing a keen interest in indigenous goods. Programmes to uplift the handicrafts sector and local industries launched by the Government has brought about an attitudinal change among the people creating a sense of patriotism and interest for indigenous goods and items, more..

UNP Condemns Mervyn’s actions

Sep 18 (SAMN) The UNP decided Monday to bring a motion in Parliament this week to condemn the continued misconduct of Non- Cabinet Minister of Labour Mervyn Silva during the past few days. The party’s parliamentary group which met Monday evening decided on this move as at times even top ranking government officials try to protect Silva despite knowing that he is out of control. more..

Conference to Unite World's Religions

Sep 18 (SAMN) Mark Amaru Pinkham, a leader of a Knight Templar organization based in Scotland and Sedona, Arizona, has organized an international conference on Sri Lanka in February, 2008, that he hopes will promote more peace and understanding among the world's religions. Persons from all races, faiths and countries can attend and participate in this conference in Sri Lanka. more..

Milk crisis: Bandula to meet Treasury

Sep 18 (SAMN) The Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operative and Consumer Service Minister Bandula Gunawardena will meet Treasury officials to discuss the milk powder crisis. The Minister told the Daily News that milk powder importers have requested an increase in the price of a 400g of milk pack up to Rs. 270. "We don't agree to this increase but we are looking at the possibilities of providing relief to milk powder importers through methodologies acceptable to both parties," he said. more..

Monk nabbed with heroin

Sep 18 (DN) A Buddhist monk believed to be the chief incumbent of a temple in Deberewewa town in Tissamaharama was arrested for possessing Heroin. The 44-year-old monk who has been remanded pending Court action, was arrested inside the temple premises, together with another accomplice by Excise sleuths last week, following a tip off. According to an Excise spokesman, the officers had also taken into custody Rs. 141,000 from the two suspects in addition to 1,630 mg of heroin. more..

Fishing trawler sea wrecked in Mt. Lavinia

Sep 18 (DN) A fishing trawler was yesterday sea wrecked after colliding with a sea vessel near the Mt. Lavinia coast. Three persons in the fishing trawler was rescued by crew members of the vessel. Later the trawler caught up in a huge wave was dashed onto the shore breaking in half. According to reports the fishing trawler which tried to berth at the Beruwela fishery harbour was turned back by fishermen at the harbour. more..

Hands off CMC: JVP warns Govt.

Sep 18 (DM) JVP yesterday criticized a reported Government move to dissolve the Colombo Municipal Council under emergency regulations and bring it under a competent authority, describing it as an infringement of the fundamental rights of the people’s representatives. Briefing the media in Colombo JVP parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti said a conspiracy was underway to grab vital economic institutions and public property in the city by way of political intervention. more..

UTHR slams Govt. for failing to halt violations by military

Sep 18 (DM) The Sri Lankan Government’s choice to not halt violations by its security forces is a reflection of the direction in which this Government is taking Sri Lanka, the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) said in a new report. Known for its hard-hitting reports against the LTTE and the government, the award winning rights group said that by refusing to find a settlement to the country’s long-running ethnic problem through meaningful power devolution, the more..

Verbal Bludgeoning to Subvert International Monitoring

Sep 18 (UTHR) The Sri Lankan Government’s choice to not halt violations by its security forces is a reflection of the direction in which this Government is taking Sri Lanka. By refusing to find a settlement to the country’s long running ethnic problem through meaningful power devolution, the Government has set itself on a violent and destructive path though which it envisages reaching a sort of peace. more..

ADB reposes faith in Rajapaksa government

Sep 18 (HT) The Asian Development Bank (ADB), a major source of development funds for Sri Lanka, has expressed faith in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government saying that the latter has the wherewithal to take the island country economically and politically forward. "Despite resurgence of the civil conflict, impact of the Asian tsunami, and doubling of oil prices since 2004, the economy grew at its fastest rate since 1978 last year (2006). more..

President's brother enters parliament

Sep 18 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's younger brother Basil Rajapakse is set to enter the island's legislature as an appointed member, election department officials said Tuesday. "His name has been officially conveyed to the Elections Department," an official said. Basil Rajapakse who was appointed as a senior presidential adviser in December 2005 is to take oaths as a member of parliament on Thursday. more..

Sri Lankan exporters cheer Indian clampdown on shipping cartels

Sep 19 (LBO) India's Competition Commission is moving against an alliance of shipping lines which control most of the cargo shipped from south Asia, including Sri Lanka, to Europe but which shippers have accused of acting like a cartel. The India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Ceylon Conference (IPBCC), one of the oldest shipping conferences in the world, controls about 75 per cent of the traffic between India and Europe, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said. more..

Minister 'threatens' judiciary

Sep 19 (BBC) The judiciary in Sri Lanka accused a government minister of trying to pervert the course of justice. Judicial Services Association (JSA) said a group believed to be supporters of minister Mervyn Silva have entered the residence of Mt. Lavinia additional magistrate's mother. "They have requested magistrate's mother to ask the daughter to grant bail to a minister's son," JSA General Secretary, Bandula Nissanka Karunarathne told BBC Sandeshaya. more..

Civilians 'harassed' in road blocks

Sep 19 (BBC) The Supreme Court in Sri Lanka has ordered to cite Defence Secretary and Inspector General of police as respondents in a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition. Chief Justice Sarath Silva made the order granting leave to proceed to a FR by a resident in Panadura against arresting and detaining him at a check point. The petitioner, IS Rodrigo said he was arrested by the police at Polhenagoda, in Colombo by the police accusing him for allegedly not carrying a valid driving licence. more..

Sri Lankan hoodwinks police

Sep 19 (NIP) A Sri Lankan national hoodwinked the Bangalore police and immigration authorities, by slipping away with a stolen European visa to Dubai. He was later deported by the Dubai immigration authorities to Bangalore. He was arrested from the Bangalore airport on September 14, on charges of travelling on a stolen visa. The accused Nimmal Khasan (21), a Sri Lankan, came to Chennai five years ago and was in Bangalore to get the visa from an agent. more..

Mgr Ranjith meets Tamil Tigers, urges them to join peace process

Sep 19 (AN) In his visit to Sri Lanka’s Madhu area, Mgr Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, was able to examine the difficult situation of the refugees and meet S.P. Thamilselvan, head of the political wing of the LTTE. He was accompanied by Mgr Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar, and Fr Demian Fernando, director of Caritas Sri Lanka. more..

Rights group says 50 killings reported in Sri Lanka in August; 38 more unaccounted for

Sep 19 (AP) The bodies of at least 50 people were found in Sri Lanka last month alone, some of them allegedly killed by security forces, a human rights group said Tuesday, and called for the U.N. to safeguard civilians in the country's ongoing civil war. A Sri Lankan minister denied that the government had a hand in the deaths in the country's war-torn north and east. more..

Shot selection bordering on the bizarre

Sep 19 (CI) If Pakistan showed earlier in the day how a cool head and calculated approach can make a challenging run-chase against a top bowling attack appear easy, Bangladesh, later in the evening, offered a lesson in how not to plan a run-chase. In a match where both sides showed a frenetic approach to batting with little rewards, Sri Lanka kept it together better in the field and managed to remain in the hunt for a semi-final berth. more..

Sri Lanka storm to 64-run win

Sep 19 (CI) Sri Lanka's progress to 147 for 5 was often tortuous and ragged, but the value of perseverance was amply illustrated as the bowlers made short work of Bangladesh on a sluggish pitch where batsmen rarely felt at ease. While it was the slow bowlers that starred for Bangladesh, the fast men did the damage for Sri Lanka, with the new-ball duo of Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando once again outstanding. more..

Drinking tea may help prevent dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases

Sep 19 (CNW) New scientific research suggests that drinking tea may lower an individual's risk of developing dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. This data and other new research that suggest drinking tea may improve and maintain brain health and function and even help us think more clearly were presented today at the Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health in Washington, DC. more..

Wijedasa Rajapaksa challenges Ministers from UNP (D) Group

Sep 19 (LD) At the ruling party's Parliamentary Group meeting yesterday (September 18th), MP Wijedasa Rajapakse arrived early armed with several files, and was seen occupying a front row seat, political sources say. Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Mano Wijeratne of the UNP (Democratic) Group who came after him, had taken seats in the rear and observed silence for the duration of the discussions. more..

Sri Lanka to host SAARC Psychiatric conference

Sep 19 (GDI) Sri Lanka will be hosting the SAARC Psychiatric Federation (SPF) scheduled to be held from November 2-4 at the Tangerine Hotel in Kalutara. It is organized by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Psychiatric Federation in association with the Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists. The event will be hosted under the theme ‘Human Resource Development in Mental Health Services in South Asia.’ more..

An Expatriate view for way forward

Sep 19 (FI) The cycle of ceasefire, talks, and violence have been used by both parties involved in the ethnic strife in Ceylon, allegedly, for their advantage. Meanwhile, the people have seen their civil society destroyed, basic human rights denied, and standard of living diminished. Left on its own the state will continue with this process until the total annihilation of the Tamil communities as viable, strong unit and a tattered economy. more..

Power struggle surfaces in LTTE over successor

Sep 19 (TOI) Tamil Nadu's Dravidian leaders seem to have left an indelible mark on LTTE chief V Prabhakaran. So it comes as no surprise that dynastic politics is catching up within the LTTE too, with Prabhakaran eager to hand over the reins of the terror outfit to his son Charles Anthony Seelan, an aeronautical engineer. But there's growing discontent among top LTTE functionaries over Prabhakaran's plan to anoint his 22-year-old son as his successor. more..

Open Letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse: Facilitate power-sharing consensus

Sep 19 (FI) The deliberations of the All Party Representative Committee to create a new constitutional framework are stuck in controversy over two key matters: (1) whether or not Sri Lanka’ Constitution should be explicitly labelled as ‘Unitary’ and (2) whether or not the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be remerged. more..

Sri Lankan government imposes new taxes to fund war

Sep 19 (wsws) In a desperate attempt to raise money for its renewed war, the Sri Lankan government rammed five finance bills through parliament on September 6 increasing taxes on a range of goods and services. With the 2008 budget due in early November, these bills are a stopgap measure to raise around 10 billion rupees ($US88 million)and plug a hole in the government’s finances. more..

LTTE's patience intentional - Thamilchelvan

Sep 19 (TN) "Without caring for International policies and passive requests, the Government of Sri Lanka is continuing its genocidal war against the Tamil people. The concerns raised by the International Community have failed to make any dent on the ethnic cleansing by Colombo government which has proved itself a terrorist-state. more..

The dirty business of politics

Sep 19 (ML) I recall the Second World War and aeroplanes flying over Ceylon but I did not have a true understanding about the implications of war as I was just four years of age then. I remember Ceylon gaining independence, and in 1956 S.W.R.D Bandaranaike becoming prime minister. It was much later in my university entrance class, that I studied ‘government’ as a subject and learnt about democracy. To define democracy was simple then. more..

JVP warns of general strike before budget

Sep 19 (ML) The JVP yesterday said that they would launch an islandwide general strike if the government fails to implement their proposals for a Rs. 3000 salary increment for state, private and estate sectors before the budget. JVP Parliamentarian and Chairman, National Trade Union Centre (NTUC), K.D. Lalkantha urged the government to pay the CoL arrears together with the proposed salary hike immediately or face serious consequences. more..

Basil asked to answer charges on Tiger deal in House

Sep 19 (ML) The Opposition is to demand that newly appointed UPFA National List MP Basil Rajapakse reply the charges on the pre presidential election secret deal with the LTTE when parliament debates the issue tomorrow. In terms of the UPFA Constitution, the vacancy had to be filled by a member of the party from which the vacancy arose and the slot should have gone to a member of Minister M.L.M. Athaullah's National Congress. more..

Enter Basil the Third Musketeer

Sep 19 (ML) Just weeks after President Mahinda Rajapakse announced that the SLFP did not belong to one single family, his brother Basil Rajapakse was appointed as a National List MP to fill the vacancy created by the death of Non Cabinet Irrigation Minister Anwer Ismail. Basil’s name was dispatched to UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayanth Monday to be sent for nomination as an MP by the Elections Commissioner. more..

EPF members to be re-registered under NIC Numbers

Sep 19 (GDI) The Department of Labour (DOL) and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) have launched a joint project to re-register all the Employment Provident Fund (EPF) members under their National Identity Cards (NICs). Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Senevirathne stated that this step was taken with the aim of eliminating the mismatches in the database of the CBSL and the DOL and employers. more..

5300 buses for CTB - Transport Minister Dullas Allahapperuma

Sep 19 (GDI) Central Transport Board (CTB) currently operates with a capacity of only 4600 buses. This is a marked reduction from 5200 buses which were on service in 1975. The Government will be taking steps to increase the number of busses to 5300 in two months period. This was stated by the Minister of Transport Dullas Allahapperuma today in Parliament. more..

New Military Spokesman

Sep 19 (GDI) Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara assumed duties yesterday (18) as the new Military spokesman at the Media Center for National Security. He takes over from Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe who is to leave for the UK to take up position as the Defence Advisor to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London. Brigadier V.U.B. Nanayakkara, was the Commander Area Headquarters Kandy, before he took over as Military Spokesman cum Director, Directorate of Media at the Army Headquarters. more..

Basil Rajapaksa takes oaths as MP

Sep 19 (GDI) Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa took his oaths before the Speaker W J M Lokubandara this morning as a national list MP. He has filled the slot fallen vacant due to the demise of Irrigation Minister Anwer Ismail. There were unruly scenes at the Parliament this morning and the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes. However, when the Parliament reassembled the normal proceedings continued uninterrupted. more..

Security beef up for Magistrate handling Malaka

Sep 19 (BL) Security has been beefed up at the residence of Mount Lavinia Additional Magistrate Dharshika Wimalasiri after she was threatened by an unidentified group last week, who demanded she gave bail to controversial Minister Mervyn Silva’s son, Malaka. Peliyagoda Police was instructed to provide security for the Additional Magistrate’s residence after she lodged a complaint with regard to the threat she had received. more..

Basil boost for ‘Rajapaksa Company’ – UNP

Sep 19 (BL) The country’s main opposition party yesterday lashed out at President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to appoint his brother Basil to Parliament, terming it as yet another move to boost the ‘Rajapaksa Company.’ UNP MP Johnston Fernando noted that, “This move proves that the government is doing nothing effective for the country, except strengthening the families of their own ministers and the Rajapaksas themselves.” more..

UNP request fails to impress mobiles users

Sep 19 (BL) Contrary to claims made by the United National Party on Monday that their appeal to the public to switch off their mobiles off was successful, leading mobile operators claimed otherwise with reportedly no significant drop in mobile phone usage during 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday morning. The UNP last week called on the masses to switch off their mobile phones for two hours in protest against the five financial bills passed in Parliament recently, which also imposed a new levy for all mobile phone users. more..

No visa for Minister Ranawaka

Sep 19 (BL) Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka failed to attend an award ceremony in Montreal, Canada on Sunday (16) after the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka allegedly delayed granting him a visa. Sri Lanka received the international award for the best country, out of 191 states, for implementing the Montreal Protocol towards saving the ozone layer and Minister Ranawaka was scheduled to visit Canada in order to accept the award on behalf of the state. more..

Kothalavala Defence Academy to be elevated to status of Defence University

Sep 19 (GDI) Parliament yesterday asked an amendment to Sir John Kothalavala Defence Academy Act naming it General Sir John Kothalavala Defence University. This amendment was moved in Parliament by Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake and passed unanimously. Attention would be paid what role the University Grants Commission could play in elevating this institution in a manner that it would retain its autonomy. more..

Canvassing by Dallas & Champika to appoint Basil a deputy PM

Sep 19 (LD) Attempts are afoot to handover the Foreign Affairs or the Nation Building Ministry to Basil Rajapaksa, who took oaths as a National List MP today (September 19th), sources at the President’s Office said. Later, he is reported to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister. Ministers Dallas Alahapperuma and Patali Champika Ranawaka are canvassing support from other ministers for all these attempts, the sources said. more..

UNP members display '10%' placards as Basil takes oath

Sep 19 (LD) The swearing-in of Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Presidential Advisor and a younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as a National List MP took centre-stage when Parliament resumed sittings this morning (September 19th). As the oath-taking before Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara was underway, UNP parliamentarians launched a protest, displaying placards with the mark '10%' on them and shouting 'ten percent'. more..

Lankan maid prefers to forego Rs. 1 m dues to be with family

Sep 19 (LNP) A Sri Lankan maid rescued from 10 year-bondage, opts to go home without eight years` salary to see her family. `I do not want to wait anymore for my dues from my employer. I am desperate to see my children since I have not seen them for the past 10 years,` Anista Marie told the Daily News yesterday. `I am happy that I am a free woman now and thankful to Arab News which initiated the move to get myself released from the clutches of my sponsor,` she added. more..

Landmine-detecting bees

Sep 19 (SAMN) A man from Kandy is claiming that he could train bees to detect landmines as done in Croatia where bees are being used to detect hundreds of landmines buried around the countryside. Deeman Ananda i training honey bees, wasps and other varieties of bees with the hope of detecting landmines in Sri Lanka. AHe now trains these bees outside his home to come at specified times and also to live with him in an open space. The bees hang around on his body as well. more..

Private remittances soar

Sep 19 (SAMN) Private remittances into Sri Lanka from migrant workers and others have soared in 2007 so far thereby having a positive effect on the overall Balance of Payments. Central Bank (CB) said Tuesday that private remittances grew by a whopping 19% to $ 1.53 billion in the first seven months of this year. The average inflows have been over US$ 200 million. The Bank said higher inflow has helped contain the current account deficit. more..