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Political setbacks for UPFA Govt in North

Jan 30 (ST) As nominations ended Thursday for the local polls on March 17, there were shocks equally for the two main contenders, the ruling UPFA and the main opposition UNP. The UPFA was unable to field candidates for as many as 35 local councils -- the largest number -- in twelve districts. The District Secretaries rejected the UPFA's nominations on various grounds. Compounding the situation was the rejection in 16 local bodies in the Jaffna district alone, more..

A date with our Cricketers

Jan 30 (ST) As much as having breakfast with the Sri Lankan World Cup cricket team sounds like a treat, a media event isn’t the best opportunity to learn more about them. Friday morning, it was a date at the Cricket Board as the team members moseyed in, calm and casual but ready to take on any cutting questions the reporters hurled at them. Entering in twos or threes, each cricketer spared a few moments with the journalists, sharing their thoughts on the upcoming World Cup tournament, more..

When writers met and mingled

Jan 30 (ST) It was opening night, Wednesday. With introductions over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the participants at the Galle Literary Festival had the opportunity to mix and mingle and get acquainted as they looked forward to four more days at Galle. Over the chatter and laughter phrases like ‘Sri Lanka is like India without the hassle” and “how was the Jaipur Festival?” rang out above the hum of voices. Dressed in flowing gowns, evening dresses, shirts or even t-shirts the group was a more..

UPFA partners allege SLFP responsible for rejection of LG nomination papers

Jan 30 (Island) Some partners of the SLFP-led UPFA government and the SLFP are on a collision course over the rejection of an unprecedented number of nomination papers for the March 17 local government elections for 301 local government bodies. Ruling party sources say that some powerful SLFP politicians had forced the ‘party machinery’ to alter nomination lists just before they were handed over to more..

Church with a miraculous beginning celebrates 175 years

Jan 30 (ST) It is a cold and rainy Sunday morning and many are braving the weather, umbrellas in hand, to devote a Sabbath hour to God. As they straggle in, the devotions in this place of worship have already begun. The devotions are to Mary, considered the most important human being in the Roman Catholic Church. She is next to the divine Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – for she was the ‘Chosen One’, through whom God became Man. more..

British-born Sumudu Jayatilaka releases her maiden music album

Jan 30 (island) British born Ms Sumudu Jayatilaka released her maiden music album "Waiting For You" in London recently. ‘Music has been close to my heart from an early age. There was always music in the house and there are tapes of me singing and sometimes even harmonizing when I was just three or four years old. Music came quite naturally to me and I've been singing and performing for as long as I can remember", more..

Gota regrets appointment of Fonseka

Jan 30 (ST) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa this week told the High Court Trial-at-Bar in the ‘White Flag’ case that initially he thought former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was the correct choice for the job, but later felt it was a wrong decision. During cross examination by Senior Defence Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti, Mr. Rajapaksa said that the statement made by the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to The Sunday Leader newspaper caused problems for more..

Beggars to be evicted, trained in self-employment

Jan 30 (LB) In a bid to rid the city of Colombo of beggars, the government has decided to identify beggars and have an immediate project plan to house them and give them a training in self- employment so that there will be no need for them to take to begging again. Minister Felix Perera confirmed that the government is geared to remove the beggar community from the city while reforming them in the process. more..

Sri Lanka poised to become the regional financial hub

Jan 30 (ST) Sri Lanka is ‘actively engaged in' the process of becoming the regional financial hub, K.G.D.D. Dheerasinghe, Deputy Governor, Central Bank told a gathering of bankers at a discussion forum; “Road-map – Monetary and Financial Sector Policy for 2011 and Beyond”, on Tuesday in Colombo. He said the Central Bank was strengthening its global and regional financial links. more..

Religious Affairs Minister muddles Wakf Board

Jan 30 (NS) The Wakf board, which is the governing body of all mosques in Sri Lanka, still remains muddled in controversy over irregularities taking place in the Department of Muslims Religious and Cultural Affairs, where a seven-member panel has been chosen for the board but not a chairman. The Wakf board is where all mosques, Muslims shrines, places of religious resort and charitable trust in Sri Lanka are to be more..

Jail Havoc

Jan 30 (NS) Launching agitation campaigns to win their demands is a popular method among the working community and it is also not alien to university students, but in recent times, country experienced an unprecedented phenomenon where prison inmates opted for such methods to win their ‘unacceptable’ demands and with prison hierarchies gave into such demands. It has now become a habit for prisoners to fast, picket or even launch attacks on prison guards to change the regulations in more..

Oil hedging: Lanka to pay Rs. 10 billion

Jan 30 (ST) An arbitration panel in Singapore is to direct the Sri Lanka Government to pay a staggering US$ 94 million or Rs. 10.3 billion to the Citibank over oil hedging deals together with interest. The ruling is expected to be conveyed to the Government shortly. Petroleum Minister Susil Premajayantha said that he was aware that the hearings in the Singapore arbitration had been concluded. However, he said, the Government was yet to hear the findings. more..

Another FP blunder: Lanka loses BIMSTEC Secretariat

Jan 30 (ST) Sri Lanka’s foreign policy was dealt another major blow when its diplomatic bid to have the BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation secretariat established in Colombo was out-voted and the offer bid went to Bangladesh instead. Sri Lanka had launched a major diplomatic campaign to have the BIMSTEC secretariat established in Colombo, but lost in a secret ballot among BIMSTEC member-states. more..

JVP blames Ranil

Jan 31 (NN) The JVP today blamed the main opposition UNP for the crisis in the coconut industry which has resulted in the government now importing coconuts. JVP member K.D Lalkantha said that while UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe is pointing fingers at the government he also must take part of the blame for the policies he introduced when the UNP government was in power. The JVP member said that it was as a result of those policies that the coconut industry is now facing a severe crisis. more..

BJP to take SL Tamil issue to UN

Jan 31 (EB) Stating that Sri Lankan Tamils issue is not related only to Tamil Nadu, BJP national pr­e­sident Nitin Gadkari on Sa­turday promised that his party would take up the miseries of Sri Lankan Tamils wi­th the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR). Presiding over the valedictory of the TN BJP's 'Ta­marai Yatirai,'Gadkari said, "We always support the de­mand of Sri Lankan Tamils for getting fundamental rights. They are part of our family," more..

Shavendra denies accusations

Jan 31 (MNT) A Sri Lankan diplomat and former military official whom many accuse of war crimes spoke at Edwards Church yesterday, denying the claims against him and asking Sri Lankans to move forward. Former Sri Lankan Major Gen. Shavendra Silva was appointed Sri Lanka's permanent deputy United Nations representative in August, a decision that angered human rights groups that allege Silva played an important role in the killings of more..

Moves to create unrest - IUSF

Jan 31 (DM) Certain elements with the assistance of some university students are trying to create unrest among the university students, Inter University Students' Federation President Sanjeewa Bandara said. He added that two university students who were volunteering for the World Cup 2011 were attacked brutally and stabbed on Friday and that the President of the Ruhuna IUSF who was visiting them at the Matara Hospital was also attacked by another masked group. more..

Lankan midwife amongst 10 most outstanding health workers

Jan 31 (AD) A Sri Lanka midwife has been selected to be presented the Special Recognition Awards (for health workers) by the Global Health Workforce Alliance. The midwife, Lalitha Padmini and 09 others will receive the award recognizing health workers for their exceptional work carried out in rural or hardship areas. “For the past 13 years Mrs. Lalitha Padmini has demonstrated outstanding innovations in the remote Sri Lankan village of Medagama” a release by the organization states. more..

Preview: Sri Lanka v West Indies, 1st ODI, SSC

Jan 31 (CI) West Indies and Sri Lanka can thank the rain that wreaked havoc during their Test series last year, causing the ODIs to be postponed to a date less than a month before the World Cup in the subcontinent. The delay allows both teams, having finalised their 15-man squads for the World Cup, to test their combinations and the players, several of whom have been playing domestic cricket in the recent months, more..

TNA nomination stirs a hornet’s nest

Jan 31 (SO) The prime Tamil political party, TNA has run into conflict following the nomination of M.K. Sivajilingam of Velvettiturai for the forthcoming Local Government polls, informed sources said. The TNA MPs Suresh Premachandran and Selvam Adaikalanathan in a media release condemned the decision taken by TNA General Secretary Mavai Senathiraja, over the inclusion of M.K. Sivajilingam as a candidate under the TNA’s party symbol-House. more..

Law College inquiry 'not yet over'

Jan 31 (BBC) Sri Lanka's Chief Justice says investigations are yet to be concluded over allegations of exam malpractices at the country's leading academy for legal studies. DM Thushara Jayarathne, a final year student of Sri Lanka Law College (SLLC), has lodged a complaint over an alleged leaking of a question paper and special treatment to some of the candidates. Chief Justice Asoka N de Silva is the chairman of the Incorporated Council of Legal Education (ICLE). more..

Chooti Putha lives to rob another day

Jan 31 (ST) About 30 policemen from the Mt Lavinia Police, some of them in civvies, spent nearly a month last year looking for one of the most wanted criminals involved in over 100 robberies, and were successful at the end when they arrested Sarath Chandana Silva alias ‘Chooti Putha’, from a house in Raddolugama. But this week, the Mt Lavinia Police was forced to launch a fresh search for ‘Chooti Putha’ as he made a dramatic escape from prison custody, more..

England Under-19s fall to heavy defeat

Jan 31 (ECB) England Under-19s fell to their second defeat in three days as they were heavily beaten by their Sri Lankan counterparts, who took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series at Colts Cricket Club Ground. The hosts set a commanding total of 325 for six from their 50 overs, with Dhananjaya de Silva the pick of their batsman with a quickfire 79 from 59 deliveries, including 10 fours and a six. Wickets regularly undermined the tourists’ run chase and more..

Karunanidhi to take up killing of fishermen with PM

Jan 31 (PTI) With two Indian fishermen being allegedly killed by Sri Lankan Navy in the past 15 days, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi will raise the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow and ask him to tell Colombo not to resort to firing. Karunanidhi, who arrived here today on a three-day visit, said he has been raising the issue with Singh now and then and will broach the topic again tomorrow. more..

The power of biodiversity

Report sought on Egypt

Jan 31 (NN) The Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry has sought a report from the Sri Lankan mission in Egypt over the status of Sri Lankans in that country following the ongoing violence. A spokesperson at the Ministry said that so far they have not received any reports of Sri Lankans being affected by the incidents in Egypt. “We have sought a report from our Mission in Egypt. So far we have not heard of any Sri Lankans being victims of the incidents in Egypt,” more..

'Quality assurance board for higher education institutes'

Jan 31 (NF) Plans are underway to establish a quality assurance board for higher education institutes, says the Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake. The Minister made this statement at a function held to declare open a new Higher Education Institute in Malabe, yesterday. “Demand for higher education has increased remarkably in Sri Lanka. If we look at the number of students who get registered for the external degrees, more..

Sluice gates opened

Jan 31 (NN) The sluice gates of the Kantale water tank were opened this afternoon as heavy rain lashed parts of the eastern province today. Engineers attached to the tank said that eight sluice gates were opened today to let out excess water after the water levels in the tank reached spill level. They said that water gushing from Minneriya to the Kantale tank had resulted in the excess water forcing the authorities to open the sluice gates. more..

A Different Voice

Jan 31 (LG) I have neither knowledge nor the educational background to write a review moving in tandem with what Dr Sarvan wrote. He quotes the entire high-end of the literary world of which I know very little. Even the lines in italics above about the three sides of a story I only remember the words and do not even know who wrote them. My reaction to the book is simply that of an ordinary Sri Lankan; we have a more than valid opinion of things that happened in our more..

10th death anniversary : An Apology to my mother

Jan 31 (LG) In the clear, cold, grey blue light of this winter’s morning in Paris, one remembers that Camus’ L’Etranger, in the original French Gallimard edition, was among my mother’s bedside reading. Lakshmi Sylvia de Silva, nee Fernando, died ten years ago at the age of 73, and I owe her an apology. Not for dropping out of my Fulbright scholarship and doctoral studies in upstate New York after the first class honours degree and CL Wickremesinghe prize for more..

Bruce Fein to Sri Lanka: “I’m Back!!”

Jan 31 (LG) As former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced in “Terminator 2,” our old friend Bruce Fein announced to Sri Lanka that he was back in full-swing when he filed a lawsuit against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Texas this past week while the President was on a private visit to see his family. Bruce Fein, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Washington D. C. lobbyist, of course, never really went away. more..

Confusion on racism and chauvinism

Jan 31 (LG) Chauvinism or Racism? - In an earlier note I pointed out that the words we use show the way in which we conceptualize the world in which we live. Therefore new words, and shifts in the meanings of words, show that we are seeing the world in new ways. That could amount to a change in ideology, taking ideology not in the usual Marxist sense but in that of Louis Althusser: the ensemble of our ideas and values. I now provide a simple example of the way words more..

Contemplating the wheels of military justice

Jan 31 (LG) The wheels of ‘justice’ of this government certainly grind extremely fast when it is moving to punish those whom it sees as its sworn enemies. True, this country’s past has had its share of instances where the law was manipulated to serve the cause of political revenge as was the case famously when the late President JR Jayewardene moved to deprive his arch rival, one of the country’s premiers, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights. more..

'Army won’t let anyone to disturb peace in Jaffna'

Jan 31 (Cimic) “Security Forces and Police based in Jaffna won’t let any gang or individual to disturb the day to day life of peace-loving people in Jaffna and do not tolerate any breach of law within the peninsula”, reiterated Commander Security Forces – Jaffna (SF-J) Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe addressing a large gathering of Army personnel and civilians in Chavakachcheri on Saturday. more..

We stick together for the downtrodden

Jan 31 (LG) Yohan Perera of Daily Mirror reported last week “The Democratic People’s Front, led by Mano Ganesan, the New Left Front led by Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne, the United Workers’ Front led by S. Sathasivam and the Up Country People’s Front (UPF) have decided to form an alliance to contest several local bodies in the Badulla, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy Districts at the upcoming local government elections. DPF General Secretary Dr. A. N. Kumarguruparan told Daily more..

Rajapaksa State prefers wallowing in extravagant dreams to dealing with insalubrious realities

Jan 31 (TC) Minister, Professor G.L. Peiris has a dream. In his dream Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the Queen of England, arrives in Hambantota, followed by 53 three heads of state, to attend the 2013 Commonwealth Summit. With such a crop of political glitterati, Hambantota (renamed Sri Rajapaksapura?) literally glitters. The august guests disembark from the Rajapaksa International Airport and the Rajapaksa Port, confab at the Rajapaksa Convention Centre and more..

TN trawlers ‘exploiting our fishery resources’

Jan 31 (NS) Thousands of trawlers from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are raping our fishery resources on a daily basis by resorting to illegal practice of bottom trawling which not only takes away the fish but also destroys corals and sea weeds that serve as breeding grounds for fish. Now Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who has done a tremendous job with his portfolio in the short period he has held it, more..

NfR condemns arson attack on LeN

Jan 31 (LG) ‘Networking for Rights’ says in a statement that office has been set on fire around 2.00 am on January 31. A short news item posted on the site says that " About an hour ago, the LeN office premises was set on fire, NfR said in a statement. At about 2.00 am, a group of unknown persons had broken into the premises and set it on fire. By now everything that was inside the building has been destroyed. more..

The naivety of boycotting an event to ‘send a clear message’ about the plight of journalists

Jan 31 (TC) Having boycotted the Galle Literary Festival (GLF), what happens if those writers, who stayed away, say Orhan Pamuk and his partner Kiran Desai, decide to visit Sri Lanka for a brief holiday? It is a hypothetical scenario, no doubt. But can’t one argue that even such a visit would, going by the apparent ‘logic’ of Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), still give some ‘legitimacy’ to the existing ‘climate for free expression’ or more..

Batticaloa fishing casualty of floods

Jan 31 (BBC) Fishermen in eastern Sri Lankan region of Batticaloa have stopped fishing after an ulcer-like disease spotted among the fish caught from the lagoon. Journalists say people in Batticaloa are currently very cautious in eating fish after the disease was spotted in the lagoon. Batticaloa is the worst affected district by the recent Monsoon floods. 11,750 of fishermen’s families are badly affected as more..