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Religion as a force for good

Sep 29 (LAT) It has become fashionable in certain smart circles to regard atheism as a sign of superior education, of highly evolved civilization, of enlightenment. Recent bestsellers by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others suggest that religious faith is a sign of backwardness, the mark of primitives stuck in the Dark Ages who have not caught up with scientific reason. Religion, we are told, is responsible for violence, oppression, poverty and many other ills. more..

CMC Chairman refutes claims

Sep 29 (SAMN) Chairman of the Commission probing the charges against the Colombo Municipal Council Friday refuted the claims that he has been partial in conducting the commission proceedings. Chairman Chandradasa Nanayakara pointed out that lawyers can make a complaint to courts and remove him from the chairmanship if they wished. Nanayakara said some have alleged that he had been partial in handling the Commission and said it is the first time that such an allegation was made against him. more..

10,000 vacancies for Lankans in Korea

Sep 29 (DN) Sri Lanka has received 10,000 employment quotas in Korea following talks with the Korean Labour and Employment Ministry, said Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on Thursday. Addressing the media at the Foreign Employment Bureau auditorium, Rambukwella said: “Although 10,000 job quotas were received, only 2,000 employment opportunities are available on the website. more..

Sripathi’s concern over President’s safety contradicts allegations

Sep 29 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa was a target of the LTTE during the Presidential election as vouched by non other than SLFP(M) MP Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, Minister S. Chandrasena said yesterday. He said CID and NIB reports too confirmed this fact adding that all documents and evidence pertaining to threat on the life of UPFA Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa would be tabled before the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to probe allegations of illegal monetary transactions between the Government and LTTE. more..

War will not be left for the UNP says Keheliya

Sep 29 (DM) In a sarcastic response to views expressed by UNP front-liner Ravi Karunanayake that a UNP government would pursue a military solution if need be, defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said yesterday the current regime would not leave the war for the UNP. “The main opposition has taken a u-turn in its policy and my good friend Ravi Karunanayake has said a UNP government will pursue a military solution if necessary. Well, it will not be for him. That is not his mandate,” a laughing Minister Rambukwelle said. more..

Wap Magul under food programme on Oct. 4

Sep 29 (DM) A Wap Magul Ceremony’ organized under the ‘Let Us Grow to Build the Nation programme launched by the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services will be held under the auspices of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Balagollagama Viharagama Welyaya, of the Nikaweratiya Magalla Project on 04 October, 2007. A large number of Ministers and MPs are expected to participate at this Wap Magul Ceremony organized more..

LTTE surrender 'claim' denied by Jaffna human rights

Sep 29 (UNI) Rejecting the claim of new military spokesman Udayar Nanayakkara regarding surrender of 42 LTTE cadres during the past few weeks, Jaffna Human Rights Commission (JHRC) has said those who surrendered were youths who feared abduction or recruitment by the ultras. "The youths are those who fear the LTTE and they will be handed to the police to be produced before the magistrate," the 'Daily Mirror' quoted a JHRC official as saying. more..

Sri Lanka says fighting kills 10, bombs rebel base

Sep 29 (Reuters) Sri Lankan warplanes pounded Tamil Tiger targets in the far north of the island on Saturday, and nine rebels and a soldier were killed in a series of battles in the same region, the military said. The violence in the north, focus of renewed civil war between the state and the LTTE, is just the latest in a series of near-daily clashes over recent months. "The army killed nine LTTE terrorists in four different confrontations in Vavuniya on Friday," more..

Anura slams Govt for silence on Myanmar

Sep 29 (HT) The Sri Lankan Minister for National Heritage, Anura Bandaranaike, has lambasted the government and the Buddhists in the island for their silence on the developments in Myanmar, where a military government is ruthlessly crushing a pro-democracy movement spearheaded by Buddhist monks and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. "What do our self-appointed custodians of Buddhism in parliament have to say? Not a word about the attacks on fellow Buddhist priests in Yangon, who took to the streets in utter desperation. Silence is the finest form cowardice. more..

Ram Sethu is too big an issue for science alone

Sep 30 (AT) A view is gaining currency in Sri Lanka, particularly in Buddhist circles that the country should support the call emanating in from India for the protection and preservation of Ram Sethu – the historical rock bridge also called by Westerners as Adam's Bridge - linking the island with India. Reasons for this view are apart from (a) serious environmental concerns (b) threats to fishermen's livelihood (c) doubtful economic benefits to India and more..

TMVP: Karuna collected 8 million rupees ransom per month from Batticaloa

Sep 30 (LG) Shocking reports are seeping through certain sources in Batticaloa about ransom hunts by LTTE’s former Eastern Province leader who broke away to form Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), Colonel Karuna Amman. A figure of 80, 00,000 (eight million) in recent hauls alone has been mentioned by a top level TMVP leader in an exclusive interview with the Lanka Guardian last night. more..

Tigers ready for another air strike!

Sep 30 (LG) Sources close with the LTTE leadership have confirmed that the Air Wing of the LTTE are planning another "air strike" as soon as possible. We have been notified that the LTTE plan to launch an attack when President Rajapaksa arrives in the country from New York after attending the UN meeting and addressing the World Body, sources told the Lanka Guardian. The government have stated that President Rajapaka's visit to New York is the totally good for the country and the government's future. more..

President Rajapakse: The Greatest Leader that Sri Lanka has ever produced

Sep 30 (AT) President Rajapakse’s address to the 62nd UN General Assemby was a fearless submission of a World Leader. Terrorism should be wiped out completely. President Rajapakse with his legal acumen, skills of political analysis cleared with one sweep the allegations against Sri Lanka by carefully and analytically making a submission about the intricacies of Human Rights and the complexities of Terrorism. more..

Chair of the Los Angeles county board of supervisors tells president Rajapakse of her interst in Lanka nurses

Sep 30 (AT) Acting Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Yvonne Burke told President Mahinda Rajapakse that she was sure about the high caliber of Sri Lanka Registered Nurses and the Sri Lanka government and other California based health care trainers should make a coordinated effort to utilize the Sri Lankan nurses to address the acute shortage of nurses in California. more..

Flintoff's absence will benefit us - Jayawardene

Sep 30 (CI) Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jaywardene has said that his side would look to capitalise on Andrew Flintoff's absence when they take on England in the five-match one-day series starting at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium on October 1. Flintoff was forced to pull-out of the series due to a troublesome left ankle. He also missed the last bilateral one-day series between the two teams in 2006 where England were walloped 5-0 at home. more..

Sea Tiger Chief Soosai “Surfaces” After Accident at Sea

Sep 30 (TC) The significance of the date September 26th has become another example of differences in perception illustrating the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka. To most members of the Sinhala community it is the day on which Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike died in 1959 after being shot in Colombo the previous day by a Buddhist monk. To many members of the Tamil community it is the day on which Rasiah Parthiban alias Thileepan died in 1987 at Nallur after a 14 day fast unto death campaign more..

Rev Fr Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith: Statement by Consortium of NGOO, Mannar

Sep 30 (TC) Brothers and Sisters: We, the humanitarian community of Mannar, are deeply distressed by the assassination of a beloved and respected member of our community, the Rev Fr Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith; Director, JRS. This tragic and dehumanizing assassination took place while he was performing his duties under challenging conditions, in order to bring relief to the recently displaced communities of the Manthai West and Madhu divisions. more..

Paradigm shift needed to end war and bring Peace to all

Sep 30 (FI) There was an interesting piece of news a fortnight ago that quoted JVP - MP and Trade Union leader Lal Kantha as saying, although they have differences with the UNP he needs to say the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickramasinghe has clean hands in politics. However their spokesman, MP Weerawansa said the JVP is propping up its own National Alliance against the UNP and would also campaign against corruption of the present government and the rising cost of living. more..

The UNP Re-positions itself on Envisaged Solution For Ethnic Crisis

Sep 30 (FI) The UNP on Friday September 28th 2007 stated that the party stands for a negotiated political solution based on a credible power sharing formula acceptable to all communities as a means of settling the ethnic conflict. The UNP statement was aimed at putting to rest charges that the party had dropped its commitment to a federal solution in a bid to woo the JVP. more..

Tigers stress on recognition of Tamil sovereignty as basis for any future dialogue

Sep 30 (FI) Even as President Mahinda Rajapakse was addressing the 62 sessions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last week, the LTTE had in a pre emptive move made a call to the UNGA to rein in the Government of Sri Lanka by calling for a halt in military operations. The LTTE had stressed that the “recognition of Tamil sovereignty was the basis for any dialogue.” more..

A Blight of Unreason

Sep 30 (AT) For Ranil Wickremesinghe the volte face must seem irresistible. Killing two birds with one stone is ever an attractive prospect. Responding to the UNP’s plan to ditch its support for federalism, V Anandasangaree made a desperate and impassioned plea not to play into the hands of Mr. Pirapaharan and the LTTE. The last thing Mr. Pirapaharan wants is a political solution to the ethnic problem. more..

Jayawardene wants proper Twenty20 domestic structure

Sep 30 (CI) Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene has said that if his country was to make any headway in the Twenty20 format, the Sri Lankan cricket authorities must plan out a proper structure for it domestically. "Twenty20 is something unique and provides a lot of challenges to cricketers," said Jayawardene. "If we are to go forward we need to play more Twenty20 cricket domestically at a highly competitive level, not just clubs competing with each other day in and day out. more..

Sri Lankan shippers wants rules to promote competition

Sep 30 (LBO) Sri Lankan shippers say the government should follow the example of other countries in the region like India and China and introduce laws to curb the powers of shipping lines acting like cartels. The Global Shippers’ Forum and Asian Shippers Council at their recent meeting in Singapore called upon Asian governments to review their local regulations and introduce legislation to stop anti-competitive behaviour by lines and ensure free trade. more..

The Travails of School and Free Education in Sri Lanka

Sep 30 (LG) Yet another crisis in Sri Lanka’s education system-triggered by the drafting of new guidelines for state school admissions-drags on. That such a sensitive issue has caused such strong reactions is no surprise. What’s surprising is that it’s taken so many twists and turns in the space of just a few months. The present crisis is based on several fundamental rights petitions filed against a circular presenting a new framework for admission of pupils to grade one. more..

The Muttur Tragedy: A Re-Examination(Part 02)

Sep 30 (LG) In a paper by Mirak Raheem titled ‘Muttur: A Betrayal of a Community’ – probably the most detailed account of the tragedy published during its early aftermath – both the SLArmy as well as the LTTE have been charged with indiscriminate shelling of the town and causing immense suffering to its civilian inhabitants by way of both death and injury as well as large-scale eviction. more..

Women’s day minus maternity rights

Sep 30 (LG) To bring meaning to events such as the women’s day, celebrated world-wide including Sri Lanka, should not done for the sake of customs or to show off the fact we care for women’s issues. As with other matters the women’s day too at the conclusion is forgotten, here in Sri Lanka. Organisations that are supposed to fight women’s issues should do more on such issues as maternity leave problems faced by women at work. more..

Bid to bomb Muslim school thwarted

Sep 30 (Dawn) An attempt by the Tamil Tiger rebels to bomb a Muslim school in the eastern Trincomalee district was thwarted, the military said on Friday. “An intended bloodbath among Muslim students was prevented at the eleventh hour by the troops following information given by civilians,” a statement by the military said. The explosives had been found concealed in the ceiling of a classroom of the Zahira Muslim College, the statement said. more..

Blood shed cries for peace - Bishop

Sep 30 (BBC) Bishop of Mannar Fr.Rayappu Joseph once again has pleaded with warring parties to bring an end to the endless war in the country. Bishop Rayappu Joseph made this plea at the funeral ceremony of Fr.Nichalospillai Pakkyiaranjith held on Saturday in Mannar. Fr.Nichalospillai Pakkyiaranjith was killed in a claymore mine in the LTTE controlled area last Wednesday. more..

Passionate team spirit forged by tragedy

Sep 30 (TMG) Three years on and the memories are still clear in my mind. I can remembering us sitting glumly in our Auckland dressing room dissecting a particularly woeful performance in the first one-day international against New Zealand when Sanath Jayasuriya's Short Message Service alerts started to ring through. Sanath's mobile phone seems to receive a half-century of messages from well-wishers after every game so it was not a particular surprise – until he interrupted the meeting with the words: "The sea has come ashore." more..

England's progress is one day at a time

Sep 30 (IN) If England lose heavily to Sri Lanka in the one-day series which begins tomorrow they will fall to eighth in the world rankings. The only surprise about this, considering the poverty of their performances in the past two years, is that they are still riding so high in the charts. It would be wise to expect the worst in the next fortnight. Should England win two of the five matches – and, in doing so, take the series to a decider – they can consider themselves to have made significant progress. more..

`KP` triggers fresh dispute

Sep 30 (LNP) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday accused the UNP of undermining the battle against terrorism as part a wider campaign targeting the government. `A section of the UNP seems to be hell-bent on weakening the government,` the retired Colonel said, `Unfortunately, in their haste to grab power they are playing pandu with the war effort.` Dismissing the latest allegation that the Rajapaksa administration had facilitated the release of an LTTE frontliner in Thai custody under a pre-presidential poll deal between more..

Let the truth be known!

Sep 30 (LNP) The killing of Rev. Fr. Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith has shocked the civilised world beyond measure. The 40-year-old priest was well known in Mannar for his selfless service to the displaced and orphans as the co-ordinator of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in that district. He was on his way to an orphanage in an LTTE-held area carrying relief on Wednesday at the time of the deadly blast. more..

UNP opts for credible power sharing

Sep 30 (SAMN) United National Party (UNP) Friday announced that it stands for a credible power sharing and added that while terrorism needs to be militarily defeated, the grievances of minority communities requires a political solution. The Ceasefire Agreement should be amended taking into account the ground situation and experience during the past several years, the UNP said in a statement, adding that a Muslim delegation must participate at the peace talks and the entire peace process has to be restructured. more..

Suspend Myanmar ties: Monks to Govt.

Sep 30 (SAMN) Buddhist monks last week demanded that the government suspend diplomatic ties with Myanmar and condemn the military junta in the secretive nation which used brute force against pro-democracy protests led by monks. The statements of the Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka comes in the wake of protests in front of the Embassy of Myanmar in Colombo. Expressing revulsion at the violence used against peaceful protestors, leading Buddhist clergy in Colombo asked the government to condemn the military junta adding that the silence on the part of the Sri Lankan government is “most painful”. more..

Top officers to testify via satellite

Sep 30 (SAMN) Top Sri Lankan military, legal and law enforcement officials are set to testify via satellite link from a secret location in Colombo in an Australian court case against three key LTTE activists in that country. Among the officials who will testify in the committal proceedings which began two weeks ago in Melbourne are the Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda, Police Chief Victor Perera, Deputy Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe and several other senior military, police and STF personnel. more..

Rice crisis looms

Sep 30 (SAMN) A rice shortage is looming, following a decision taken by rice importers to immediately cease further imports as a result of the new taxes slapped on the product by the government. Rice importers are finding it difficult to foot the high tax and duty, which has seen a drastic increase in recent months. The increased tax had forced an increase rice prices with, superior quality samba rice, which used to cost between Rs. 46 – 47 per kilo, now being sold at approximately Rs. 53 – 55. more..

Attempts to block aid, loans will not succeed

Sep 30 (SO) Attempts by certain elements to stop aid and loans granted to Sri Lanka by donor countries and international banks will not succeed, President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted on Friday. "They have labelled Sri Lanka as a failed state. They are protesting opposite international banks asking them not to grant loans to the country. They try to paint a false picture of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka to stop the flow of aid. more..

Tourism Development Authority, a shot in the arm for industry

Sep 30 (SO) The Tourism Development Authority set up under the new Tourism Act which will come into force from tomorrow will infuse new blood to the industry with a vibrant public private partnership. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, George Michael said the Tourism Development Fund set up under Section 25 of the Tourism Act is one of the most far-sighted recommendations in the new Act. more..

Jaffna students want to live in peace with those in South

Sep 30 (SO) The students of the present day Jaffna do not want the war to continue and they want to live in peace with more interaction with the South, according to W.I.Jackson of St.Patrick College Jaffna who was in Colombo captaining a team of fifteen cricketers from the North and the East. The fourteen member North and East cricket team, comprised eight players from the leading schools in Jaffna such as St Johns, Central, St.Patrick's, Jaffna College Union, Tellipalai, Manipay Hindu and Mahajana. more..

Railway fare hike inevitable - Dept. sources

Sep 30 (SO) The Railway Department will increase train fares to offset an annual loss of Rs. 3,981 million as a result of the soaring world oil prices and an accumulated loss for the past three decades, a spokesman for the Railway Department told the Sunday Observer. The annual loss the Railway Department has been increasing for the past three decades. In 1997 the loss stood at Rs. 712 million and today it has increased to Rs. 3,981 million, he said. more..

How many for UN sessions? WHO KNOWS

Sep 30 (LB) With classic lack of transparency, the Government has failed to disclose the actual number of people who used public funds to visit New York — and other US States — under cover of representing Sri Lanka at the UN General Assembly sessions(UNGA). This has led to widespread speculation on the figures. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told LAKBIMAnEWS last week that a grand total of 106 had gone to USA. Other sources said the tally may be around 65. more..

CBK ordered to quit residence

Sep 30 (LB) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has been ordered to vacate her official residence at Independence Avenue.Secretary to the President, Lalith Weerathunga has written to former President Kumaratunga’s Secretary P.Dissanayake informing him that President Kumaratunge should vacate her official residence including the office at Independence Avenue, Colombo. The latest communication comes following the Supreme Court decision given on May 03, this year, more..

Double talk by President?

Sep 30 (LB) Let me begin this column this week with two comments President Mahinda Rajapaksa made on different occasions. Three weeks back, in an interview with IANS, headlined “Tamil aspirations are fine but Sinhala votes are crucial”, the President was quoted as saying: “I was elected primarily by a Sinhala constituency on an election manifesto which made it clear that an ultimate solution to the ethnic crisis could be evolved only on the basis of a unitary state. In any peace settlement I have to carry the Sinhala voters with me”. more..

Federal? What federal?

Sep 30 (LB) No sooner than news broke that the UNP was dropping its federal idea, party leader Ranil Wickremasinghe was flooded with phone calls. Despite phrasing their questions in diverse ways, all enquirers got a stock answer: “We always supported the devolution of power but we never mentioned the word ‘federal’. It was Chandrika who introduced this word ‘federal’. Subsequently, this government resurrected the word and used it to level allegations against us. But we never said ‘federal’. more..

Bush will veto Leahy’s resolution-FM

Sep 30 (NS) An optimistic Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama believes that US President George W. Bush, will veto Senator Patrick Leahy’s resolution, which if passed, will block military and other aid to the country. “We are not worried about this resolution. The Sri Lankan government strongly believes that the US authorities will continue their military assistance to our country,” Minister Bogollagama told The Nation in New York, more..

Prohibited list of military items named

Sep 30 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared several high security zones around key defence and economic installations, including the Colombo Port and Katunayake International Airport. He has also banned a list of prohibited items and equipment, making it an offence for any Sri Lankan national, resident here or overseas, from procuring these items, aiding or abetting or providing financial assistance for their purchases. more..

Resolving Lanka’s ethnic issue still a distant dream

Sep 30 (NS) The fine art of doublespeak came into vogue last week as both the government and the opposition grappled with contentious issues, possibly with the same objective-that of securing power for themselves in the immediate future. The government’s posturing was enacted in far away New York where President Mahinda Rajapaksa was attending the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations. more..

Buoyant Ranil poised to strike in November

Sep 30 (NS) Has the main opposition, the United National Party, woken up to reality? This is the question being posed by many, in the aftermath of the remarks that were made by Colombo District UNP Leader Ravi Karunanayake last week. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Karunanayake announced the UNP’s desire to stick to the unitary nature of the Constitution when devolving power to the strife ridden northern and eastern provinces of the country. more..

Policy shifts or policy shows

Sep 30 (ST) It is strange but true. Some of the key stakeholders in the country's festering ethnic conflict -- the Government, the main Opposition UNP and even their protagonists, the LTTE -- were making fresh policy pronouncements this week. It comes after more than a five-year long ceasefire that remains only on paper. An undeclared Eelam War IV is raging. In the light of all this, more military and political wars are inexplicably a certainty. President Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa is for both war and peace. more..

Heavy casualties as battles in north intensify

Sep 30 (ST) For the past eight days the Security Forces have continued a major thrust from their defended localities near the Western seaboard town of Mannar. Though it is premature to discuss details related to the aims and objectives since the offensive is ongoing, a look at the overall scenario in the North, including the Wanni, reveals a stark picture. The military thrust northwards, along the landmass west of the Giant's Tank and the seas of the Gulf of Mannar began on Monday September 24. more..