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Sri Lanka to import copra for oil mills

May 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka is to import copra, or dried coconut kernel, to feed the country's oil mills which are facing high prices and raw material shortfalls, a senior minister said. The cabinet of ministers had approved the import of 45,000 tonnes of metric tonnes of copra to the country. The request to import copra was made by plantation industries minister D M Jayaratne to increase coconut oil production amidst an increasing trend to adulterate coconut oil with palm oil and other types of oil, more..

Sri Lanka trade deficit doubles in March

May 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's trade deficit doubled in March 2008 to 448 million dollars as imports ratcheted up 32 percent while exports grew only 7.8 percent, government data showed. Exports grew 7.8 percent in March with apparel growing 8.2 percent to 293 million dollars. Agricultural exports grew 29 percent with tea growing 35.4 percent to 106.5 million US dollars. Imports grew 32.5 percent to 1,129 million US dollars with consumer goods growing 37.1 percent to 255.3 million, more..

Court acquits Sri Lanka ex-cricket chief

May 23 (AFP) An appeal court on Thursday overturned a two-year prison term for breaking immigration law and dropped all charges against former cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala. Sumathipala, 43, was found guilty in April 2007 of forging travel documents to take alleged underworld leader Dhammika Amarasinghe to England to watch the 1999 cricket World Cup. After a four-year legal tussle, the wealthy businessman was also fined 50,000 rupees (470 dollars). more..

Uni. of Moratuwa students top scores on Google competition

May 23 (LBO) Search engine giant Google has accepted 24 student projects from University of Moratuwa, for an open-source software development competition, the highest from any university in the world, officials said. The universities 24 acceptances for the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) programme, beat 10 projects from Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland and the University of Campinas Brazil, eight from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and more..

Fearing shortage, Sri Lanka imports rice from Myanmar

May 23 (IANS) Building up a buffer stock to prevent a looming rice crisis, Sri Lanka is importing 7,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar and is hopeful 43,000 tonnes of rice would also be brought from that country in the near future. 'A ship with 7,000 tonnes of rice left port in Myanmar on May 20 and is scheduled to reach Colombo harbour on May 27. We are hopeful of bringing another 43,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar as soon as possible,' more..

'Government only to blame'

May 23 (BBC) New York based human rights watchdog says its only Sri Lankan government to blame for not getting re-elected to the UN’s most important Human Rights body. Commenting on Sri Lanka loosing the vote on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said “the Human Rights Council vote should be a wake-up call for the Sri Lankan government”. Asia Director at HRW, Brad Adams said “President Mahinda Rajapaksa hopefully will get the General Assembly’s message and start more..

Communities take charge of reconstruction efforts

May 23 (RC) Thirty-eight-year-old Devika Fernando lost her home in the tsunami and had no choice but to live in a temporary shelter in Ratmalana. However, in October 2007 she moved with 18 other families to create a new settlement in Raigamuwata in the neighbouring district of Kalutara. The settlement is part of an owner-driven housing programme designed to provide cash grants and technical support to families rebuilding homes that were damaged or destroyed in the tsunami. more..

Fighting in north kills 25 rebels, 2 soldiers

May 23 (AP) Scattered battles across Sri Lanka's volatile northern region killed 25 ethnic Tamil rebels and two government soldiers, the military said Thursday. A Defense Ministry official said soldiers killed five Tamil rebels Thursday in the latest confrontation near the front lines in Vavuniya district, just south of rebels' de facto state in the north. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to government regulations, said no soldiers were wounded in that battle. more..

Sigiriya- Kassapa’s Homage To Beauty

May 23 (LG) A beautiful and an exhaustive study on Sigiriya –Kassapa’s Homage to Beauty is the latest addition to the corpus of related material. The author is Siri Gunasinghe. The large sized book of 116 pages with colour photographs is a collector’s item. I like art and paintings having been a student of the arts and literature. But I am not willing to review the book for lack of knowledge on the subject. more..

Chinthanaya and inflation

May 23 (LG) According to the Department of Census and Statistics, inflation, as measured by the point-to-point change in the Colombo Consumers’ Price Index was 28.1 per cent in April. It was also reported in the media that the government’s 2008 budget estimates expected Rs.700 billion in revenue, out of which about Rs. 500 billion would account for servicing foreign debt. As there is no sign of the war ending soon, the government may need about Rs.200 billion to meet the defence budget. more..

Where is the security for ordinary people?

May 23 (LG) Whilst condemning the Ampara bomb explosion, the President exhorted that the people of this country should be brave and not be afraid of bombs. This is not a statement one would expect from the President of this country. What does he mean by this? Does he think that bombs are things people can bravely stand up against or put up a fight with? He is of course making this statement from the safety of his heavily guarded military camp like residence — Temple Trees. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

May 23 (GDI) Cabinet granted approval to a memorandum submitted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to set up a grant scheme for English learners under the 'English as a Life Skill' Programm. Accordingly Rs. 10,000 will be granted to students from Samurdhi families and Rs. 6,000 to those from non-Samurdhi families. The number of beneficiaries will be proportional to the total number of Samurdhi families in the country and more..

Food crisis impacts human rights – Sri Lanka at UN

May 23 (GDI) Sri Lanka was one of 34 UN Member states that co-sponsored a draft UN resolution calling upon States to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective, and to consider the review of any policy or measure which could have a negative impact on the realization of that right. The draft resolution on “The negative impact of the worsening of the world food crisis on the realization of the right to food for all” was tabled before more..

Urgent appeal-Defence journalist missing

May 23 (TC) Keith Noyahr, Defence writer of English weekly The Nation reported missing from late evening today 22nd May 2008. He has left his office around 10.30 pm but has not reached home. His vehicle was found close to his house, head lights and engine running. Editor of the nation has made a complaint to the Dehiwala police on the incident. FMM request all press freedom orgaisations to take urgent action to save the life of journalist Keith Noyahr. more..

Sri Lanka's east hit by political violence

May 23 (AFP) A curfew was imposed in part of eastern Sri Lanka Thursday following an outbreak of deadly political violence involving Tamil Tiger defectors now allied to the government. Two members of the Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) -- a party made up of Tamil rebels who switched sides -- were gunned down near the lagoon town of Batticaloa, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. more..

On the post conflict developments in Sri Lanka - Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha

May 23 (AT) The on-going democratic process in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka has been pointed out as a model in the post conflict developments. It has been further pinpointed that the successful clearing of the Eastern Province of LTTE terrorism by the Sri Lankan security forces between August 2006- July 2007 and the subsequent restoration of normalcy in these areas, has paved the way for holding elections, more..

Labour offices to open in Sri Lanka

May 23 (GDN) BAHRAIN is expanding its efforts to regulate the labour market by opening an office in Sri Lanka to ensure employment procedures are in line with laws in the two countries. A representative office of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) will be opened in Sri Lanka and a similar office of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment will be opened in Bahrain. more..

Sri Lanka senior journalist found assaulted

May 23 (LBO) A senior Sri Lankan journalist was found severely assaulted in the early hours of Friday after being abducted from his home the previous night, colleagues at his newspaper said. Keith Noyahr, deputy editor of the Nation newspaper, was abducted from near his home in a suburb of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo when he returned from work. Colleagues said his car was found abandoned near his home in Vaidya Road in Dehiwela. more..

Dethroned for violations

May 23 (SLW) Sri Lanka has lost its seat in the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) due mainly to a disrespecting of the world system, arrogance, complete lack of counter propaganda against LTTE and bungling and rantings by a group of theoreticians and technocrats. International norms dealing with torture, disappearances, and political killings have emerged due mainly to the atrocities committed elsewhere. more..

It’s truly a wild experience

May 23 (LG) Crocodile geckos on the ceiling, snakes in the garden, flying squirrels, hundreds of flying insects during the night and trumpeting of wild elephants remind me that I am a total outsider or an invader to the land that belongs to the wild. I am at a forest lodge tucked away in the wilderness of Habarana and Galkadawala, by the ancient Galkadawala tank. Galkadawala Forest Lodge is a refuge for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. more..

Nietzsche and Buddha

May 23 (LG) Religious and ideological pluralism pose secular liberalism with what I call the Nietzschean dilemma. The absence of universally recognized trans-religious and trans-cultural criteria for making moral evaluations means in effect that there is no basis for making ethical judgments which are binding on all members of civil society irrespective of their particular religious or ideological persuasion. more..

No party committee in Japan - JVP

May 23 (LD) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has no party branch or committee in Japan, its Secretary of International Affairs Vijitha Herath has said. Mr. Herath was commenting on a letter allegedly sent by one Saman Priyankara, identifying himself as the organizer of the JVP committee in Japan. The letter had said that the committee would stop donating funds towards the JVP in the future. more..

Dr. Rajani Thiranagama — The story of an assassinated Human Rights activist

May 23 (LG) "Men in battle garb, whether they come with swords or guns, on a horse or in armoured cars, the price of conquest seems heightened by the violation of women," wrote Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, a few months before she was assassinated in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka. And, it was exactly the subject of "woman and war" that captivated Montreal-based filmmaker Helene Klodowsky and formed the beginnings of yet another powerful film. more..

Sri Lanka reaches to Morocco to establish new economic ties

May 23 (AT) Economic and trade ties between the South Asian nation Sri Lanka and the Middle East nation Morocco is negligible when Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama visited the Kingdom of Morocco recently to fulfill one of the agenda items of his country’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa to reach out to non-traditional nations. In fact, Sri Lanka supported Morocco’s candidature to the UN Human Rights Commission this week. more..

Lanka had only SAARC nations for support - Bogollagama

May 23 (LD) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama says Pakistan secured only 13 votes more than Sri Lanka at the election of members to the UN Human Rights Council despite its having the backing of 52 Islamic countries. Sri Lanka had only SAARC member nations for support, he said at a media briefing in Colombo yesterday. The country has been recognized as one that safeguards human rights when it obtained 101 votes, despite intense lobbying by NGOs, more..

New Police Media Spokesman

May 23 (LD) Senior Superintendent of Police Ranjith Gunasekara, who was Director of Public Relations, has been appointed the new Police Media Spokesman. Mr. Gunasekara who joined the department as a Sub Inspector in 1972 served as Deputy Director Administration at Police Headquarters. He then served as a Police Advisor in Sudan with the United Nations Peace Keeping Force for a year before he returned to the country to take up the post of Director Police PPR Division. more..

Dilan urges society against JVP's 'communalistic droppings'

May 23 (LD) Minister Dilan Perera says it is the need of the hour for true proponents of communal harmony to bring the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim peoples together in brotherhood, without being buried under the 'communalistic droppings' being hurled at society by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. In a hard-hitting statement, he accused the JVP of having provoked Sinhala communalism during the eastern provincial council polls. more..

Disciplinary inquiry against Mangala indefinitely put off

May 23 (LD) The Sri Lanka Freedom Party has indefinitely postponed a disciplinary inquiry against former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Port and Civil Aviation Mangala Samaraweera that had been scheduled for tomorrow (May 23rd), sources at the SLFP headquarters said. Mr. Samaraweera, who was also treasurer of the party, was removed from all his party and cabinet positions by the President on 9th February last year. more..

Massive protest against assault of Keith Noyhar

May 23 (LD) A massive demonstration took place at the Kollupitiya Junction in Colombo this afternoon (May 23rd) against the abduction and beating up of 'The Nation' Deputy Editor Keith Noyhar. Organized by the Movement against Media Suppression, the protest was attended by members of the Free Media Movement-led media rights groups, politicians and civil society and trade union activists. more..

President orders full investigation into attack on Keith Noyahr

May 23 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed IGP Victor Perera to launch a full investigation into the abduction and attack on senior journalist, Keith Noyahr who is the Deputy Editor of The Nation newspaper. Noyahr went missing last night and his wife had lodged a complaint at the Dehiwala Police Station when his vehicle was found empty outside his house around 11.00 pm. more..

Minister of Transport hopes to reach compromise with private bus owners

May 23 (GDI) Minister of Transport, Dulles Alahapperuma said that discussions are being held with the Treasury to find the best possible solution to the crisis caused by rising fuel prices and the demands of the Private Bus Owners' Association. A review of fates had been scheduled for July on 12 counts such as the increase in the cost of living, operational risks, maintenance, spare part costs etc. more..

Presidential Task Force for agricultural drive

May 23 (GDI) Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the newly established 'Presidential Task Force' under the Government's "Api Wawamu-Rata Nagamu" programme, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that uplifting the national economy in the wake of rising global oil prices was as important as the fight to eradicate terrorism. The 'Task Force' has been set up to encourage and intensify indigenous food production islandwide under the auspices of the Agriculture Ministry. more..

I will support the Chief Minister -- Hisbullah

May 23 (GDI) M.L.A.M. Hisbullah who was sworn in as a minister in the Eastern Provincial Council yesterday pledged to work in cooperation with Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan for the sake of Tamil-Muslim unity, the security of Muslim community and the development of the Eastern Province. Hisbullah was sworn in as Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Social Welfare, Probation and Child Care Services, more..

East hit by political violence

May 23 (SAMN) An indefinite curfew was imposed in part of eastern Sri Lanka Thursday following an outbreak of deadly political violence involving Tamil Tiger defectors now allied to the government. Two members of the TMVP were gunned down by unidentified gunmen near the lagoon town of Batticaloa. This sparked revenge killings against a local Muslim community - which during provincial elections earlier this month had largely allied itself with the island's main opposition parties. more..

Busmen ask for more

May 23 (SAMN) The country’s transport sector, already in crisis following the unprecedented diesel price hike, plunged into chaos Thursday when the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association gave an ultimatum that they would stop running their buses if they were not allowed to increase bus fares within 48 hours of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPC) implementation of a fuel price hike. more..

EPC polls far from free and fair: CAFFE

May 23 (SAMN) The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) which monitored the Eastern Provincial Council Elections, said Thursday the gross violation of laws, blatant use of power by the government and dominance of violence overtaking dominance of rule of law had made the polls one which was far from being free and fair. The CAFFE’s final report on the provincial council polls which was put out yesterday more..

JVP to agitate for salary increase

May 23 (SAMN) The JVP has threatened to launch a large-scale agitation campaign if the government failed to implement the salary increase for the public sector in the wake of the latest fuel hike. JVP parliamentarian, K.D. Lalkantha said the increase of diesel prices by a further Rs. 20 would have a direct impact on the cost of living and in turn would be a burden on the people. more..

Daily News readers to pick Seven Wonders of Sri Lanka

May 23 (DN) 'Seven Wonders of Sri Lanka', a contest to pick the seven most popular places in the country will be launched by the Daily News next week. The contest which is open only to Daily News readers, features a large number prizes worth over Rs. three million in addition to prizes to be distributed in weekly draws. Readers can take part in the contest by sending in the seven places in Sri Lanka they consider to be the Seven Greatest Wonders more..

First rice shipment from Myanmar here on May 28

May 23 (DN) The first ship carrying nearly 7,000 mts. of Rangoon Kekulu set sail yesterday from Myanmar to Sri Lanka. The ship is scheduled to arrive at the Colombo Port on May 28. Secretary to the Trade Ministry Dr. R.M.K. Rathnayake told the Daily News that the artificial rice shortage created by blackmarketeers is expected to be totally eliminated with the release of sufficient Rangoon Kekulu rice stocks to the market from May 28. more..

Economy: Questions that beg answers

May 23 (DM) Sri Lanka’s urban poor do not pose a noticeable impact on the economy when compared to some of their Asian counterparts, a leading researcher said yesterday. Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, principal researcher for the Pedro Institution for Development said cities like Dhaka in Bangladesh and Chennai in India had crises relating to their poor while it was relatively low here. more..

Quadruplets born to unemployed man go home

May 23 (DM) The first quadruplets born this year went home yesterday accompanied by the proud father, mother and adoring sister, to their home in Nivithigala, Wettawa, Matugama. Nayani Nadeera, Nadunee Dinara, Nuwanee Pulara and Nidulee Tinara, the four girl babies, were born to Nayanajith Mutukumara 31 and Damitha Nadeeshanee 26, on April 22, at the Castle Street Maternity Home. Their five year old sister is Jaodya Oshadee. more..

State media villifying Ranil instead of thanking him – UNP

May 23 (Island) Instead of thanking Ranil Wickremesinghe for trying to resolve the GSP + issue in favour of Sri Lanka, the state media is making false allegations that he is tarnishing the country’s image, UNP’s media spokesman Lakshman Kirielle MP, said on Wednesday. He told a news conference in Colombo that Wickremesinghe was in Germany to attend "Plan 2050", being held to mark the Friedrich Naumann Trust’s 50th anniversary and more..

10,000 youth to be trained for construction industry

May 23 (Island) The Engineering and Construction Ministry has formulated a plan to recruit 10,000 youth from the Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts within the next two years, the Ministry said yesterday. Minister Rajitha Senaratne told The Island the recruitment plan would aim to train the 10,000 youths in different categories of jobs in the construction industry. Masons, carpenters, brick-makers and plumbers would be required for the development activities planned forn the East. more..

5 media orgs. condemn assault on Keith Noyhar

May 23 (LD) In a joint statement, the Free Media Movement led five media rights organizations have condemned last night’s attack on the Deputy Editor and Defence Columnist of ‘The Nation’ newspaper. “This is not just a violation of the freedom of expression and another significant blow to media freedom. It proves, as if more proof was needed, that Sri Lanka is very far from a country that protects fundamental rights and is governed by the rule of law,” the statement said. more..

Sri Lanka tourist trade lures Arab travelers

May 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's April tourist arrivals dropped ten percent to 29,747 compared to the same period last year, despite a surge in visitors from the Middle East, a market where the island is being promoted in a new campaign, the Tourist Board said. The highest drop in arrivals of twenty five percent was recorded from Australia followed by fifteen percent from South Asia, twelve percent from Western Europe and ten percent from North America. more..

Sri Lanka troops kill 19 civilians: Tamil Tigers

May 23 (AFP) Sri Lankan government commandos on Friday killed 19 civilians in mine attacks inside the Tamil Tiger-held north of the island, the rebels said. A statement from the LTTE said an army "Deep Penetration Unit" set off a fragmentation mine against a minibus packed with civilians near the rebel's main base of Kilinochchi. It said 17 people, all members of the same extended family, died in the attack. more..

Sri Lankan journalist abducted, beaten: rights group

May 23 (AFP) A Sri Lanka media rights group Friday condemned the abduction and assault of a senior journalist, saying it was motivated by his criticism of the government's war against Tamil Tiger rebels. Keith Noyahr, a deputy editor and defence analyst with the English-language weekly The Nation, was abducted on Thursday night, severely beaten and dropped off near his residence early Friday, more..

NPC: Human Rights Council defeat a wake up call

May 24 (TC) Sri Lanka’s recent unsuccessful bid to maintain its representation on the UN Human Rights Council following a vote by the General Assembly is another event that highlights the deteriorating condition of human rights in the country. Sri Lanka was one of the initial members of elected to the Human Rights Council in 2006 and might have reasonably expected to be re-elected. more..

'LTTE leaders' released on bail

May 24 (BBC) Three men charged in Britain with conspiring to procure equipment for the Tamil Tiger rebel movement in Sri Lanka have been granted bail. The fourth suspect has not applied for bail. The four accused watched the proceedings on a video link from the jail. Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, known as Shanthan, has already been charged with organising meetings to promote the Tamil Tigers who are proscribed as a terrorist group in the UK. more..

Terrorism causes impact for politics and culture – President

May 24 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapakse said terrorism has caused a harmful impact not only for politics, but also to the culture as well. He further points out there are no differences based on race, religion or cast lines for artistic taste. Language, nation and culture do not develop when you evict thousands of people belonging to another race from your region. You cannot develop or nurture language or a nation with communalism. more..