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NCCSL exhibition to help producers and farmers

Feb 20 (FP) The Wellassa Krushi Udawa organised by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) will be held from June 6-8 at the Dutugemunu Central College, Buttala. The exhibition, Trade fair and seminar will bridge the gap between the producers and the buyers and find markets for their produce. In most instances they produce the goods and look for a market which is not very feasible, said President NCCSL D. Essuwaren. more..

Three arrested for threatening candidates in E Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (Xinhua) At least three people have been arrested for issuing threats to candidates ahead of local elections in eastern Sri Lanka, police said Tuesday. A police spokesman in the Batticaloa district told Xinhua by phone that three people, all Muslims from the Kathankudy area were arrested alongside printed material which had been used to issue death threats on candidates. more..

Much to learn from the Tsunami clean-up experience

Feb 20 (UCAN) Shanika Kumari was standing with her three children beside their tent in the camp that has been home since she lost everything to the massive tsunami waves on Dec. 26, 2004. Most people have moved on and the disaster is just a memory, but time stands still for the 45-year-old woman and her family. As I visited two refugee camps to see what the Catholic Church was doing to help the victims three years after the tsunami, I was struck by how real the horror remains for her and how little has been done to help her. more..

Why MR cannot afford to ignore world opinion

Feb 20 (ML) The Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Kosovo and its endorsement by the United States of America and powerful EU countries including Britain and France is set to blast the foundations upon which Sri Lanka now wages its war against both its own nationals and what some government officials like to call Western imperialists of the international community. more..

JVP warns of drastic action if CC is not appointed

Feb 20 (ML) The JVP yesterday indirectly attacked the Chief Executive for delaying the reconstitution of the Constitutional Council (CC) and warned of extreme pressure tactics unless attempts are not made to urgently strengthen the democratic institutions to prevent paving the way for a dictatorship. The JVP also alleged that the President had used the non-functional state of the Constitutional Council to make appointments willy nilly not just to the Constitutional Council but also through that, to fill the independent commissions with personal selections. more..

UNP vows mass protests from April

Feb 20 (ML) In the event the government fails to bring down the skyrocketing CoL by ending the war by March 31 as promised, the UNP is to hold public meetings and protests island wide to send the government home, the UNP assured yesterday. UNP MP Johnston Fernando at a press briefing in Colombo yesterday said that the UNP has decided to remain unruffled till the given deadline to end the war and if the government still fails to provide relief to the people from April 1 as promised, more..

Mahinda to make people powerless

Feb 20 (BL) President Mahinda Rajapakse soon faces the risk of making people powerless, with the impending shockingly high 50% increase in electricity tariff. Sri Lanka is already notorious for charging the highest tariffs on electricity and the proposed increase, as per analysts, would only ‘electrocute’ users, not illuminate. Many opine that the government was holding the public to ransom, to save the corrupt and mismanaged Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). more..

UL flight attendants threaten grounding

Feb 20 (BL) Members of the SriLankan Airlines flight attendants Union (FAU) have issued a warning of industrial action to the management, if a better deal is not forthcoming in the ongoing collective bargaining talks. FAU sources said that the 14-day notice was issued on Friday (15), meaning the SriLankan management is left with just 10 days to act or face embarrassment, as well as financial loss due to striking in-flight staff. more..

Central Bank warns public

Feb 20 (BL) The Central Bank yesterday warned the public to be aware of the dangers of getting involved in unlawful financial transactions that are detrimental to public or national interest and the country’s security situation at large. It said that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank has strengthened its capabilities to prevent unlawful financial transactions relating to money laundering and terrorist financing in terms of more..

President cancels Tender for Colombo Port’s new terminal

Feb 20 (BL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has cancelled the controversial tender for the Colombo Port’s new terminal, intensely fought by local and global giants while fresh bids are to be called soon. Sources said that the move by the President follows allegations of favouritism and various drawbacks and differences of opinion over the process, as well as conditions in the Request for Proposals. more..

New mother longs for husband to come to Canada

Feb 20 (IT) Anusa Balamurali is trying to put on a brave face. She is failing. Tears well up in the 25-year-old Scarborough woman's eyes as she sits in the office of Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis. The mother of a newborn daughter, Balamurali came to his office last Friday, not for the first time, hoping to determine the status of her husband's immigration application. Balamurali has been waiting for almost three years to find out when her spouse, Balamurali Thadsanamoorthy, will arrive from Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka pull stumps on Jayasuriya’s career

Feb 20 (AAP) Sri Lankan cricket selectors have dropped opener Sanath Jayasuriya for the tour of the West Indies starting next month, all but ending the 38-year-old’s international career. Jayasuriya, who has retired from Test cricket, still plays in one-day matches but the decision to replace him with left-arm fast bowler Thilina Thushara Mirando suggests the explosive batsman’s career is over. more..

Consensus among Sinhalese essential for a solution

Feb 20 (IL) In regard to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Sinhala politicians, community leaders, businessmen, NGOs, as well as Buddhist monks, need to arrive at a national consensus. The battle between the government and the LTTE has raged for more than three decades, taken the lives of over 80,000 and driven the country into a mire of economic and political disaster. All signs are that it may never return to normalcy. more..

50 million fraud in Maithripala’s Fertilizer Corporation! – JVP reveals

Feb 20 (LT) A Rs. 50 million fraud has occurred in Fertilizer Corporation under Minister Maithripala Sirisena states JVP Parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake. Addressing a media meeting held in Colombo today Mr. Dissanayake said the crisis in the Fertilizer Corporation cannot be solved by removing its chairman. The Chairman has been removed basing a very minor offence said Mr. Dissanayake pointing out that there were severe frauds that has taken place in the Corporation. more..

Kosovo, UDI & Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (LG) Rightfully and predictably Sri Lanka has opposed the Unilateral Deceleration of Independence by Kosovo. It has to be emphasised that the so called UN and international forces were present in Kosovo when UDI was declared and it is very likely that these forces finally helped secession and this is a good lesson for Sri Lanka. We have to oppose any attempt to bring any army under the guise of international or UN or using Right to Protect concept which is nothing but colonialism in another name. more..

Religious Conflicts – Some Concerns

Feb 20 (LG) The killing of a Pastor and the serious injury to his wife in Ampara, by unidentified gunmen must be condemned by all true adherents of all religions. This violent act calls for a prompt and impartial investigation by the Police who must deal with the perpetrators under the law. I extend the condolences of our Clergy and Congregations to the Pastors family and pray for a speedy recovery for his wife. more..

Sri Lanka tourist arrivals steady in January

Feb 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka received 56,916 tourists in January, around the same level as last year with a sharp increase in visitors from Russia which the tourism promotion office has identified as a new target market. January numbers were boosted in both 2007 and 2008 by the arrival of a spiritual leader of the Bohra community and his followers. Arrivals from Western Europe increased 9.9 percent to 20,814 in January 2008 compared with the same month last year. more..

Sri Lanka coconut palms hit by deadly yellowing disease

Feb 20 (LBO) A bacteria spreading the lethal yellowing disease on coconut palms has entered Sri Lanka destroying more than 200,000 trees in the southern coast of the island, coconut experts say. The bacteria known as ‘phytoplasma’ came through a shipment of ornamental palms that were not quarantined before entering the island, Salinda Dissanayake, minister of coconut development and nation building says. more..

Civilian escape routes before final push for Wanni

Feb 20 (LD) The military is establishing escape routes for civilians from the Wanni before a final push to liberate the area, Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella says. “We will drop leaflets to educate the public on our strategy, which includes escape routes for them like we did when liberating Sampur,” he said. However, it is reported that a large number of civilians who fled Sampur, Trincomalee in September 2006 in the face of advancing troops are still living a life of misery in welfare camps. more..

Businessman gunned down in Negombo

Feb 20 (LD) An owner of fishing trawlers, identified as W. Christie Fernando, was gunned down in Negombo last night (Feb. 19th). Fernando, 50, had been taken away from his home at Kuda Paduwa by a group who claimed to be police in civics on an illicit liquor raid, and shot him. He had been accused two yeas ago of having links with the LTTE, and arrested by the CID. After a detention of around a year, he had been granted bail. more..

Anti-Govt. NGOs to be brought before law – Keheliya

Feb 20 (LD) The government is planning to bring certain NGOs before the law for their partiality towards the LTTE and for tarnishing the image of the country, Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella says. An investigation is already underway into the recent records and statements of these institutions to find out their connections, direct or indirect, with the Tigers, he said. more..

Policemen refuse to pay Rs. 15,000 bill

Feb 20 (LNP) Two police officers had allegedly refused to pay a Rs. 15,000 bill for liquor and food they had consumed at a restaurant in Colombo on Monday night and had instead arrested one of the waiters on the pretext that the restaurant did not have a licence to operate during late hours. According to an employee of Hotel Venus Lanka, a Tourist Board approved restaurant in Kollupitiya, they have a licence to sell liquor until 2.00 am and the incident involving the police officers had taken place around midnight. more..

JVP to ask Sri Lankans to boycott Indian products

Feb 20 (LNP) If India fails to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, the JVP would request the public to boycott Indian products, JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe told a rally in Anuradhapura. This was the first of a series of meetings to be held island wide requesting the Government to stop forthwith any idea of devolving power to the North and East and also give up any plan to stop the war against the LTTE. more..

Child recruitment: Flogging a lame ass

Feb 20 (LNP) A government-appointed committee which toured the Eastern Province recently on a fact finding mission has reiterated that the offence of child abduction/recruitment carries a penalty of 30 years in prison. Now we know why it is said the law is an ass! In fact, it is a lame ass! That is too lenient a punishment for so serious a crime. A snake that harms a child is crushed before you could say Jack Robinson but the ogres that prey on children in their hundreds are accommodated in the government boarding at the expense of tax payers. more..

Kosovo & Eelam

Feb 20 (LG) Heartfelt felicitations to the new and independent state of Kosovo from the Tamils of Tamil Eelam. The putative state of Tamil Eelam is itself experiencing its birth pangs but eventually nothing can stop its onward march to self-determination, independence and democracy. The birth of a new state, born out of the fire and fight for liberation is an occasion for us to celebrate and welcome to the assembly of free nations. more..

JVP Politics : Is it Marxism or Masksism?

Feb 20 (LG) That JVP's political power base is in anarchy, poverty, corruption and unrest among youth and in society as a whole is obvious. Capitalism the JVP says, is the enemy of the masses and the cause of all economic end social ills in Sri Lanka. They analyse and criticise it in debates through the media, presenting the points in support of their views on the subject as if there are no other experts in the world - to attract the down trodden, suffering masses. more..

Speaker to remind President of CC

Feb 20 (SAMN) Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara agreed Tuesday to send a letter of reminder to President Mahinda Rajapaksa requesting him to appoint the former auditor general, S.C.Mayadunne, to the Constitutional Council (CC), as the nominee of the minority parties in Parliament. The decision followed a meeting he had in the Parliamentary Complex, with representatives of minority parties who pointed out there was no legal barrier to the appointment of Mayadunne to the CC, more..

No new bldg. projects for in months

Feb 20 (SAMN) For the past 18 months they had not had a single new apartment construction project, whereas constructors previously would tender on an average for at least 2 -3 new projects every month, said Sanken Lanka Managing Director, Ranjith Gunatilleke. The occasion was when leading players in the construction industry as well as property developers held a press conference yesterday to inform the public about misconceptions that are prevalent as to developments in their industry. more..

Drugs shortage an occasional occurrence

Feb 20 (SAMN) Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva yesterday conceded that sometimes there were shortages of one or two drugs at state healthcare institutions but claimed that it was not a perennial occurrence as certain news reports were trying to make out. Addressing the media Tuesday at the ministry auditorium on certain media reports that highlighted an alleged drug shortage at state healthcare institutions more..

India and Sri Lanka fined for slow over-rates

Feb 20 (CI) India and Sri Lanka have been fined for slow over-rates during their CB Series match in Adelaide on Tuesday. Jeff Crowe, the match referee, imposed the fines after the two sides were found to be one and two overs short of their targets, respectively, when when time allowances were taken into consideration. In accordance with the ICC Code of Conduct regulations governing over-rate penalties, players are fined 5% their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, more..

Don't fall prey to conspiracies, says President

Feb 20 (DN) Terrorists are today making a desperate bid to create tension in the country by sowing the seeds of religious and communal discord. We should therefore act with foresight and patience at this juncture without falling prey to such conspiracies, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. President Rajapaksa said this addressing a daham hamuwa at Temple Trees on Monday afternoon to felicitate Ven. Dr. Julampitiye Gnanaratana, more..

No move to vest railway station management in other companies - Dullas

Feb 20 (DN) Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday assured the House that the Transport Ministry has not taken any decision to vest the management of railway stations in any local or foreign company. The Minister responding to a question by JVP Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa, said the Ministry has no intention whatsoever to hand over railway station management to the IOC or any other foreign company. more..

Mervyn in the CC a big joke – Ameratunga

Feb 20 (Island) Labour Minister Mervyn Silva’s claim of "taking up a position" in the Constitutional Council, after he resigns his National List seat and ministerial portfolio this week, is nothing but a "big joke", the UNP’s Vice Chairman John Ameratunga said yesterday. "The CC, should comprise persons who have earned the public’s respect and it is common knowledge that Mervyn does not fall into that category, even though he has the prefix ‘Doctor’," he told The Island. more..

Govt. appeals for Lankans on death row

Feb 20 (DM) The Sri Lankan government has helped the two Sri Lankan nationals to submit an appeal to the Jeddah courts which had earlier sentenced them to death. Two Sri Lankans, K.M.S. Bandaranaike and Haleema Nissa Cader, and an Indian national named Naushad were sentenced to death last year for attempted robbery and murder of an elderly woman in Jeddah. “The legal unit of the Foreign Ministry has helped the two Sri Lankan nationals to submit an appeal before the appeal deadline set for February 19. more..

FM on another tour: Appointments delayed

Feb 20 (DM) Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama who is in Singapore on yet another foreign tour was to attend the Singapore Air show which began yesterday. While he was attending the event, Foreign Ministry Secretary, Dr. Palitha Kohona was quoted on a popular website as saying, that Minister Bogollagama was yet to sign documents pertaining to the appointment of some 12 new consuls general. more..

Restrictions Tighten on Media

Feb 20 (IPS) Gemunu Amerasinghe, a photographer with the international news wire Associated Press, was shooting earlier this month in downtown Colombo for an innocuous assignment -- or so he thought. He had just finished taking pictures of students near the Isiphatana Vidayalaya and was about to leave after thanking soldiers stationed nearby, when he was suddenly confronted by members of the Civil Defence Committee (CDC), a vigilante group, at the school. more..

UNDP official demands an apology from Rama Mani

Feb 20 (PISL) The appalling situation at ICES continues to reverberate, with yet more articles claiming that it is essentially an internal dispute that has spilled over into the public domain. It is even argued that those who had for many months tried to bring honesty into the system were somehow traitors. One writer introduced the metaphor of civil society activists being trees that should stick together to survive, disaster occurring when a woodcutter has an axe with a wooden handle, ie one of the trees has betrayed the group to government. more..

IFJ Calls on Sri Lanka Police to End Harassment of Journalists

Feb 20 (IFJ) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Sri Lanka’s Inspector General of Police, Victor Perera, to investigate cases of harassment of journalists by members of the police and the Civil Defence Committees (CDC) and to prohibit authorities’ interference in the professional duties of journalists. In a letter to Mr Perera today, the IFJ expressed grave concern about reports from its affiliate, more..

Escalating war takes toll on children

Feb 20 (IRIN) Children in Sri Lanka are increasingly being killed and injured and having their education disrupted as bombing attacks attributable to the LTTE and government security forces drive families from their homes in search of safety. At least 21 children are known to have died since the beginning of this year in assaults blamed on the Tamil Tigers and government forces in the northern and southern parts of the island. more..

Sri Lanka push into rebel north leaves many dead

Feb 20 (AFP) Heavy fighting erupted in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday as government troops tried to take Tamil rebel-held territory, the defence ministry said, reporting scores of guerrillas killed or wounded. The LTTE launched a major attack against military positions in Mannar district and troops retaliated with their own fresh offensive, the ministry said in a statement. "The LTTE has suffered heavy casualties, with scores believed killed," the ministry said, more..

JVP ready to take up Sirisena’s challenge on fertilizer fraud

Feb 20 (Island) The JVP yesterday said that it was ready to take up the challenge, thrown by Agricultural Development Minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, on issues relating to large scale fraud in the import of fertilizer. JVP Kurunegala District Parliamentarian and former Agricultural Minister Anura Kumara Dissanayake, addressing a press conference, charged that the Government was trying to hide large scale frauds pertaining to the import of fertilizer by highlighting minor issues. more..

President removes Bribery Chief

Feb 20 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa Tuesday issued a controversial order transferring the Director General of the Permanent Commission Investigating Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (COIBOC), Piyasena Ranasinghe with immediate effect. Informed sources said the Director General who was a judicial officer appointed to the Bribery Commission by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has been transferred to the Presidential Secretariat. more..

Save drinking water from the roof

Feb 21 (AN) Rainwater can save lives - this is the conclusion of the British water engineer Suz-anna Lipscombe. She is working in Sri Lanka, where Malteser International especially en-gages for clean drinking water. Many regions of the country are not yet connected to the pub-lic water supply and the wells are often miles away from the villages. That is why Malteser International, together with the affected families, is building rainwater harvesting tanks. more..

Buddhist institute coming up in Bihar

Feb 21 (IANS) A Japan-based organisation is setting up a research institute of Buddhism and oriental studies in Bihar's Bodh Gaya, a city revered for being the place of Buddha's attainment of enlightenment. The institute set up by the International Buddhist Brotherhood Association (IBBA) will promote world peace and understanding of different cultures through research and learning, according to officials of the association. more..

Recruiting Easier When You Are Winning

Feb 21 (SP) The army offensive continues, with nearly 400 LTTE fighters claimed killed in the last two weeks. The government claims a 16:1 combat ratio (16 dead enemy for each deal soldier). Given the reports, from late last year, of the LTTE forcibly recruiting anyone, especially teenagers, and low morale in LTTE territory, this ratio is possible. The army is advancing, and the soldiers are better trained, and more experienced than in the past. more..

Jayasuriya retained for one-dayers against West Indies

Feb 21 (AFP) Sri Lanka's veteran left-hander Sanath Jayasuriya will be retained for the one-day squad despite being dropped from Test matches against the West Indies, chief selector Asantha de Mel said. He said Jayasuriya was not included in the team announced on Tuesday, but will be under consideration for the one day leg of the West Indies tour. "He will be under consideration for selection for the West Indies tour one day series. He will be in the team unless his form suffered a serious loss," more..

Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the Damage

Feb 21 (ICG) With Sri Lanka again in civil war, the international community must concentrate on protecting civilians from the war’s worst effects and supporting those working to preserve its embattled democratic institutions. Sri Lanka’s Return to War: Limiting the Damage*, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, explores the costs and likely course of the conflict, which has no resolution in sight. more..

Dhoni, Symonds fetch highest prices in the lucrative new Indian Premier League bidding

Feb 21 (AP) Mahendra Singh Dhoni attracted the highest price of $1.5 million or €1.02 million per season in Wednesday's player auction for the lucrative new Indian Premier League. Chennai acquired the services of India limited-overs captain Dhoni, a wicketkeeper-batsman, on a three-year contract to kickstart the Twenty20 IPL competition. The bidding for Dhoni was aggressive with the last leg closely fought between southern India's Chennai and western metropolis of Mumbai. more..

LTTE to blame, says NGO

Feb 21 (Hindu) The International Crisis Group, a multi-national NGO focusing on conflict zones, said in a report on Wednesday, “With Sri Lanka again in civil war, the international community must concentrate on protecting civilians from the war’s worst effects and supporting those working to preserve its embattled democratic institutions.” Titled “Sri Lanka’s Return to War: Limiting the Damage,” the latest ICG report explores the costs and likely course of the conflict, which has “no resolution in sight”. more..

Little cheer in Lanka

Feb 21 (TOI) This should have been a month of celebrations for Sri Lanka as it reached 60 years of independence on February 4. Instead, it was marked by battles and Tamil Tiger bombings. In January, Colombo abrogated a five-year Norwegian-brokered ceasefire, which for over a year had been undermined by violence from both the government and the Tigers leading to a human rights crisis. But as the death toll keeps rising, Sri Lanka's closest neighbour, India, has done little more than confine itself to being a spectator. more..