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Rajapakasa ruling family denouement may happen faster than Egypt or Tunisia

Feb 6 (TC) Tunisia and Egypt, in revolt, are at the end of a journey Sri Lanka has just commenced. In a desperate attempt to postpone his political-demise, President Mubarak assured Egyptians that he will not re-contest the September presidential election and emphasised the need for presidential term-limits. Mubarak has been in power for 30 years, winning election after stage-managed election; he intends to install younger son Gamal as his successor. more..

Paris's Tamils thrive despite defeat at home

Feb 6 (RFI) It’s often mistakenly called “Little Bombay”, but the lively neighbourhood that stretches from the rue du Faubourg-St-Denis north to La Chapelle is actually home to Paris’s Tamil community. The air is often fragrant in this quarter – where a colourful mismatch of shops sells everything from silks to spices. This façade, however, masks the painful reality behind the area’s birth. It began back in 1983 when Paris got its first ever Tamil boutique more..

Editorial: On being truly independent

Feb 6 (NS) Sri Lanka celebrated its 63rd Independence Day on Friday. It was marked by the usual National Day celebrations, the customary newspaper supplements, displaying the National Flag in homes and places of work and broadcasting patriotic songs on radio and television. Then, the next day, it is business as usual and ‘independence’ is forgotten until February 4, next year. A little introspection then, is not out of order. How ‘independent’ are we, really? more..

Editorial: Free media - down a slippery slope...

Feb 6 (LB) The President had mentioned of special circumstances needed to secure jobs and grow the economy in the post-independence post-war phase, even as more attacks were taking place in the capital city from which he moved the Independence Day celebrations this year. A rigorous discourse on freedom of expression issues has never really taken place in this country. Freedom of expression has too often been conflated or at least confused terribly with the freedom of the wild-ass. more..

Out of Sri Lanka's trials comes a beacon of hope

Feb 6 (Guardian) Ever since the Hay festival set up shop overseas in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2006, literary festivals have been going global, like the English language. The marriage of international literary stars with local and expat audiences in exotic locations has inspired an unprecedented surge in book tourism, from Shanghai to Byron Bay, Australia. In Jaipur last month, for instance, you could bump into JM Coetzee, Richard Ford, more..

Editorial: Power posers, the public purse and plunging incomes

Feb 6 (Island) A public at the receiving end of continuously sky-rocketing living costs cannot be faulted for receiving the news of another diesel price increase with some alarm. Besides the knock-on effect of this hike on the prices of consumer goods and services, the ordinary people could be expected to be deeply apprehensive about the final effect this price increase could have on electricity tariff rates, considering the significant role played by thermal energy in more..

Editorial: Independence 2011 and beyond

Feb 6 (ST) Last year, around this time in this space, we had hoped that National Day celebrations would have been marked in the northern citadel of Jaffna "in recognition of the fact that we were, after so many years of strife, able to celebrate as one country". Kilinochchi or even Batticaloa would have done. Perhaps, the Government felt it was not correct to play on the sensitivities of the people in those areas, but then if they are the ones who have been liberated from more..

Schoolboy stuff: worst post- indepedence nomination fiasco

Feb 6 (LB) An unprecedented number of nomination papers for the local government elections have been rejected by officials. However, the reasons attributed by these political parties are in-fighting and deep rooted rivalry between party members. In addition, negligence and internal disputes together with sabotage have been said to be the other main reasons behind the rejection of a large number of nominations received for more..

Divisionary politics prevail over spirit of independence

Feb 6 (NS) As Sri Lanka celebrates the 63rd anniversary of independence on February 4, the focus of all political parties are on the Local Government Elections scheduled for March 17. The campaign has already begun in the countryside and city with numerous posters appearing on walls, depicting the candidates’ links to the members of the political hierarchy in the government and the opposition. The posters, however, do not bear the allotted numbers, more..

Intra-party discord reigns supreme

Feb 6 (NS) The local government elections scheduled for March 17 are in reality polls of no major consequence. They will not alter the national balance of power nor can it herald a government change. Yet, at least for the major parties in the fray, it has proved to be an extremely contentious contest largely because of internal political issues within these parties. On paper, the worst hit was the ruling UPFA which had the most number of nomination lists rejected. more..

'People will vote party in power'

Feb 6 (NS) SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena says the people will always vote with the party in power when it comes to local elections and the outcome of the upcoming local election is a foregone conclusion. He answers some of the burning questions facing the party and the country: Q: A number of nomination lists submitted by the UPFA has got rejected. What are your views on this big setback for the Alliance even before the local govt election? more..

Schoolchildren to help grow coconut saplings

Feb 6 (SO) The `One Coconut Sapling in each Home Garden’ program, which was initiated by the Coconut Development and the CDJEDB to uplift the standard of the coconut industry will be launched shortly with the assistance of schoolchildren of coconut growing regions in the country. The objective of the program is to inculcate in the younger generation the importance of planting coconut saplings in their home- gardens to ease the prevailing shortage of coconuts. more..

No place for SLFPers

Feb 6 (SL) Members of the SLFP are a disgruntled lot with complaints that most of them have been sidelined when preparing the nomination lists of the governing UPFA, claiming that the government seemed to be losing control. Most of the complaints have been from local government bodies in the Northern Province. Interestingly, the President is of the view that the SLFP is growing its presence in the North following the end of the war. An SLFP member from Vavuniya who more..

'Tamil parties unite: If KP comes kapothi

Feb 6 (LB) The possibility of Kumaran Pathmanathan a.k.a KP forming a political party was a major reason Tamil political parties decided to form an alliance --- not only to contest the coming Local Government elections but also to prepare them as a unified front to negotiate a settlement to the issues faced by Tamils. The TULF and PLOTE entered into a an agreement with the TNA a party they were somewhat critical of only a few months ago, more..

Fond memories of Chandrika

Feb 6 (Island) On Friday evening, Independence Day, the main opposition the UNP was given a badly needed shot in the arm by the attack that took place on their procession in Punchi Borella. As one UNP Colombo district electoral organizer that this columnist spoke to said, this was an unexpected ‘bonanza’ for the UNP. This was the first time that the Rajapaksa government has done anything to disrupt a UNP political event. And an opposition that was starving due to more..

Heavenly Galle and down to zero Colombo

Feb 6 (SL) Whatever this Grouse and that Grump may say (all carrying language and/or class chips on their shoulders) the Galle Literary Festival is fine in every sense of the word. Menika makes her annual literary pilgrimage to this quaint maritime port city now bustling and alive with tourists and resident expats. She gets pleasantly satiated with authors and their writing; she is rejuvenated by the camaraderie in the garden of the Hall de Galle and more..

Batti under threat of being submerged

Feb 6 (NS) Local engineers based in Batticaloa have expressed fears that if all eight tanks in the area accidentally rupture due to severe water pressure, then there is a likelihood of the entire district sinking under water. Due to the torrential rains, all the tanks are currently overflowing and if the rains continue for the next 24 to 48 hours then the danger is likely, engineers have warned. They said the situation would be similar to the 2004 tsunami, more..

Menik Farm IDPs relocated

Feb 6 (NS) More than 1,500 persons in Menik Farm have been forced to be relocated at a different place due to the prevalent flood situation, government officials said. Vavuniya District Secretary (GA) P S M Charles told The Nation that people who were in Zone 1 and Kadhirgamar relief village of the Menik Farm were relocated as they were on lower grounds. She said certain parts of the two zones were flooded due to the overflowing of the Kallaru River. more..

Regulations on transporting vegetables and fruit in containers deferred

Feb 6 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided last week to give a month’s grace period until March 1 for traders and transporters of vegetables and fruit to familiarize themselves with the new methods for packing these consumer items in plastic containers. They will be prosecuted if they fail to adhere to the new specification after that. The President made this decision at a meeting of the Cost of Living and Food Preservation Committee at Temple Trees which was more..

Biometric passports on the cards

Feb 6 (SO) The Department of Immigration and Emigration will introduce biometric passports within this year. The move follows a proposal made at the first Colombo team meeting by the Regional Immigration Liaison Officer Network (RILON) last Thursday. Experts from Australia and Hong Kong are preparing feasibility reports on implementing biometric passports, said Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera. more..

Freedom: A luxury we can’t afford!

Feb 6 (ST) Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what is all this fuss about independence?” “Why, Bindu,” Bindu’s father Percy explained, “we are celebrating the freedom we won after being under British rule for over a hundred years…” “But thaaththa,” Bindu asked, “are we really free?” “Why do you say that, Bindu?” Percy was puzzled, “we have been free for the last sixty three years…” “We may have been ‘free’ from foreign rule, thaaththa,” Bindu argued, more..

Do you have visuals of attack on Punchi Borella?

Feb 6 (NF) The Newsfirst media team covering the protest march last evening at Punchi Borella was set upon and their video camera was taken away by a certain group that attacked the protest march. It was done when the team was recording the event on video. Newsfirst was covering the event with its established theme of providing news to our viewers as it happens in an unbiased manner. However, the assailants belonged to a group that simply did not tolerate more..

Further fuel price increases inevitable

Feb 6 (ST) The Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), which runs one third of Sri Lanka’s fuel outlets, warned yesterday that further price increases in diesel and petrol would be inevitable. This was because the govt has failed to reduce taxes on the latest consignment of crude oil imported by LIOC, its MD Suresh Kumar said. “We have urged the government to further increase petrol and diesel prices in view of rising world market prices,” more..

EPDP confident of victory if Court upholds application

Feb 6 (SO) UPFA constituent EPDP leader and Jaffna district MP Minister Douglas Devananda expressed confidence that they would win a majority of the 16 Local Government bodies in the Jaffna district, if their application filed in the Court of Appeal against the rejection of nominations is upheld by the Court. The rejection of nominations was over the issue of the Tamil rendition of the party name UPFA under whose symbol they are contesting the polls, he said. more..

Ton-up boys Tharanga, Barath talk of WC prospects

Feb 6 (NS) The third and final match of the on-going One-Day International series between Sri Lanka and West Indies takes place at the SSC grounds today with the hosts holding onto a 1-0 lead which they hope to extend. The series serves as the final preparation for this month’s mega event the ICC Cricket World Cup which will be played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from Feb 19 - April 2. The first two ODIs produced two centuries from openers from either side. more..

Reporter who worked for Tamil Tiger paper among Sun Sea migrants released

Feb 6 (NP) A Sri Lankan newspaper reporter who worked for a publication controlled by the Tamil Tigers rebels was among the 492 refugee claimants who arrived in Canada last summer aboard the smuggling ship MV Sun Sea, according to a court ruling released on Thursday. The Canada Border Services Agency is alleging he was a member of the Tamil Tigers and that his refugee claim should therefore be denied but his lawyer said more..

Kalpitiya resort bids cancelled

Feb 6 (ST) Another major government tender has run into trouble. The Cabinet-appointed Procurement Committee for the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project (KITRP) has recommended that the Expressions of Interests (EOIs) that were called last year to develop this zone should be cancelled. At the same time direct negotiations between the Treasury and interested parties have been encouraged by Treasury officials, according to informed sources. more..

No more digging of Galle Road

Feb 6 (NS) With the Colombo Municipal Council’s (CMC) road network project on the Galle Road nearing completion, government institutions are strictly warned not to dig up roads for any purposes for the next five years. According to the new plan, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, the Ceylon Electricity Board and Sri Lanka Telecom will not be allowed to excavate the road for the purposes of laying cables or pipes during this period. more..

The politics of floods and the food crisis

Feb 6 (ST) The forces of nature repeated their wrath for a second time in three weeks in the North Central Province, the country's largest and an important 'food basket', and the Eastern Province. If the surging floods last month left thousands homeless and destroyed vast extents of food crops, the remnants that escaped were badly hit while the homeless number has now risen to nearly a million people. The worst affected areas from a second bout of floods are more..

UNP accuses govt. of pre-poll terror tactics

Feb 6 (Island) The Opposition says the government, fearing reversals in the forthcoming local elections, will unleash more attacks on the UNP and the JVP in the run-up to the March 17 polls as part of its campaign strategy. Despite having an overwhelming majority in parliament and all Provincial Councils the government is under heavy pressure for failing to tackle rising cost of living, senior opposition leaders noted. They said people in flood-hit districts are more..

SLMC files petitions in SC challenging rejection of 7 nomination papers

Feb 6 (Island) SLMC General Secretary M.T. Hassen Ali, MP, said yesterday the party has filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of seven nomination papers for the forthcoming local polls . He said that the SLMC nominations for Akurana, Ukuwela, Mawathagama, Chilaw, Nuwara- Gampalatha- Madya, Attanagalla and Mirigama were rejected. When asked whether the SLMC, would as an option, support an independent Group in the local body more..

Worst dengue epidemic feared

Feb 6 (NS) As the country continues to be battered by inclement weather, dengue cases and resulting deaths are soaring to epidemic proportions already. Health sources are warning that this year’s epidemic may be more severe than the previous epidemic in 2009/10, when the total number of cases stood at 34,105 with 246 deaths by end Dec 2010. From 790 cumulative cases recorded up to Feb 2, 2011, the numbers jumped by 41 in one day to reach 831 on Feb 3, more..

Ranil condemns attack on candlelight vigil

Feb 6 (NS) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in Welimada lashed out at the government accusing it of complicity in the attack on a group of UNP members. The group included several Parliamentarians who were to stage a ‘satyagraha’ in Punchi Borella calling for the release of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. The UNP sathyagraha led by UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya was on their way to conduct a ‘candlelight vigil,’ more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 6 (ST) A top level investigation is now under way to ascertain how photographs of former General Sarath Fonseka in his prison jumpers came to be taken. The photographs appeared in the media and websites. This was after media personnel were allowed access into the prisons where Independence Day ceremonies were under way. Around that time, the former General's wife, Anoma Fonseka, had visited him. more..

Eminent Lankan astrologer predicts mixed results for Sri Lanka

Feb 6 (ST) Evaluating the current planetary positions of Sri Lanka, famed Sri Lankan astrologer Piyasena Rathuwithana, told members of the Sunday Times Business Club last week that the ‘turbulent’ period for Sri Lanka in terms of its economy and politics will be between November 2011 and November 2012 as the transition of ‘Rahu and Kethu’ as well as the change of position of Saturn to Virgo is not favourable for the country during its latter stages. more..

Lanka caught in India’s fishing net

Feb 6 (ST) Has the 1974 maritime boundary agreement between India and Sri Lanka been negated by the two governments in the light of the October 2008 agreement on poaching in the northern waters? This question has arisen in diplomatic quarters following the recent visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to Colombo to discuss issues related to poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters by Indian fishermen, two of whom were shot dead recently for intruding. more..

Sri Lanka celebrates fashion week

Feb 6 (DNA) On Sri Lanka’s Independence Day, February 4, Colombo International Fashion Week kicked off with an eclectic mix of the young and the experienced from Sri Lanka and the globe, who got together to showcase a spectacular array of fashion. Some of the most popular labels of Sri Lanka, like Middle Finger, Arugam Bay and LICC denim wear took to the centre stage, along with newer names like Nadiya Iqbal, Upeksha and Indi. more..

Let the Middle East be an eye opener: Karu

Feb 6 (Island) "Let the Middle East be an eye opener," UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has said in a statement issued last week has calling on the regime to learn the needed lessons from events in Tunisia and Egypt. "It is with great humility that we call upon the leaders of our country, who are currently intoxicated with their seemingly unchallenged hold on power, to open their eyes to the reality of what is happening in more..

'Don’t be misled by unscrupulous elements'

Feb 6 (SO) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that expatriate Tamils living abroad should look way forward in the reconstructing and development process in the country instead of being misled by unscrupulous elements which are trying to destabilise the peaceful atmosphere in the country. He was speaking to a sixteen-member Tamil diaspora delegation from Germany, Australia, USA, Canada and the UK last week. more..

Sri Lanka bans laundry near World Cup venue

Feb 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka has banned people from hanging their washing out to dry near a cricket ground in Colombo where World Cup games will be played, a news report said Sunday. Residents and shop owners around the R. Premadasa Stadium, which will host seven matches, were issued the orders by Colombo city authorities this week, the island’s Sunday Times newspaper said. more..