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Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 12 (ST) Matthew Russell Lee, an Inner City Press blogger covering the United Nations, is a longstanding critic of the Rajapaksa administration and continues to badger both the Sri Lanka mission and UN spokesman Martin Nesirky firing a volley of questions virtually every day -- relating mostly to allegations of war crimes and human rights violations by the govt and the country's armed forces. The initial blast against Lee came from more..

Soon you’ll be speeding at 15 kmph on Colombo roads

Feb 12 (ST) Roads are clogged with vehicles, with an average of 1,400 cars, vans, three-wheelers and motorcycles being registered every day. An increasing number of Sri Lankans spend more time on the roads, paying more for fuel, as the number of vehicles on the roads keep increasing. According to the latest statistics, the ratio of vehicles against the population is 1:4, with a staggering 4.4 million vehicles, more..

Punishment transfer for Karu?

Feb 12 (Island) A UNP decision to make the party’s former deputy leader, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, as party organizer for Mahara moving him from his present position of Gampaha district organizer is interpreted by the so-called `rebels’ as a "punishment transfer" following Jayasuriya running for party leadership against Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Although Jayasuriya intimates said that the decision taken at more..

Final report elicits skepticism

Feb 12 (SL) The final report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) elicited skepticism from some even before it was released to the public. After its release, it was somewhat criticised, but also, for the most part, commended by various parties, both in Sri Lanka and abroad. The question remains however, as to how far the Government will go in implementing the recommendations set out by the LLRC. more..

Maldivian crisis: Lankans safe but uncertainty continues

Feb 12 (ST) More than 8,000 Sri Lankans working in the Maldives have not been affected by the political turmoil there, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Dixon Dela said yesterday. “There is nothing to fear. Sri Lankans are safe,” Mr. Dela who is in Colombo said. He said he had briefed Govt authorities on the crisis in the Maldives and claimed there was no reason for any panic. Most Sri Lankans in the Maldives are working in the hospitality and garment sectors. more..

Plight of families of abducted fishermen woeful

Feb 12 (LB) The family members of the six fishermen who have been abducted by Somali pirates have urged the govt to intervene and seek their release. The six fishermen who saled from the Negombo lagoon were Shantha Sebastian Fernando of Katana, Weerasena Silva of Kalutara South, Madurankuliye S. Dinesh Susantha Fernando, Lyon Rodrigo and P. Selvarajan of North Pitipana, Negombo and Jude Nishantha Fernando of Negombo. more..

United States to placate TNA?

Feb 12 (NS) The TNA is likely to change its earlier firm stand that it would participate in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee(PSC) only after holding discussions with the government on matters to be taken up at the PSC on finding a solution to the ethnic problem. This change of mind could be influenced by the visit of two US dignitaries scheduled to arrive in the country today, according to political observers. more..

17 OICs transferred

Feb 12 (DM) Police Headquarters said that today that 17 OIC’s have been transferred with immediate effect. Police said that the transfers were routine transfers and they were not taken on disciplinary grounds. CI A. Somaratne was transferred to Gokarella from Piliyandala, CI V.J.P Pushpakumara was transferred to Vavuniya from Kekirawa, CI D.E.J.P Nanayakkara was transferred to Akkaraipattu from Nikaweratiya, more..

Three local banks go for foreign borrowings

Feb 12 (ST) Three commercial banks are separately planning to raise a total of US$ 800 million through foreign borrowings for local needs in the next few months in a move that should boost Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves, officials said. These loans are being raised under guidelines where the Central Bank (CB) allowed banks and private companies to independently negotiate foreign borrowings for their projects or lending purposes. more..

Public funds splurged on propping politicians: opposition

Feb 12 (Island) The Opposition alleges that the SLFP-led UPFA govt was squandering taxpayers’ money to prop-up politicians while the vast majority were struggling to make ends meet. Sources said that the government sponsored ‘Deyata Kirula’ was nothing but a ‘boru’ show, which had cost much more than what the UPFA admitted public. ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition centre had cost a staggering Rs. 61.5 mn, more..

Match 3: Ice-cool Dhoni downs Australia

Feb 12 (CI) A supremely calm MS Dhoni guided India to victory, with two balls to spare, over a sluggish Australia in the ODI at Adelaide Oval. Dhoni's composure was best measured by how he paced his innings. It bordered on the statuesque early, before he raised tempo with swift running between the wickets. He saved his one stroke to the boundary - a towering six over long on - for when he most needed it: the third ball of the final over delivered by Clint McKay, more..

Sri Lanka Navy arrests three Indian fishermen

Feb 12 (PTI) Three Indian fishermen have been arrested by Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly poaching in the country's waters while six others were rescued in a separate instance. Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that three Indian fishermen were arrested along with their boat for poaching in Sri Lankan waters last night off the coast of Kankesanturai (KKS) in the north. They are to be handed over to KKS police today. Separately, the Navy rescued six distressed more..

Naek for enhanced cooperation between Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Feb 12 (APP) Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naek on Saturday stressed the need to further broaden cooperation between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in political, economic and cultural fields with an aim to cement friendship between the two countries on high pedestal. “Pakistan greatly values its ties with Sri Lanka as these are based on mutual trust and shared interest”, he said while talking to the visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa here. more..

SEP open letter to the defence minister

Feb 12 (wsws) To the Minister of Defence, The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) condemns the illegal action of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in banning the party’s scheduled public meeting in Jaffna on January 29. The decision is an attack on the basic democratic right of the SEP, a legally recognised party, to carry out an entirely legitimate and lawful political activity. MoD officials, accompanied by military personnel, visited the management of Weerasingham Hall, more..

Lee threatens Sri Lanka with barrage of 150 kmph bullets

Feb 12 (ANI) Australian pace bowler Brett Lee, who is set to return in Sydney for the February 17 game, has warned Sri Lanka of a barrage of missiles exceeding speeds of 150 kilometre per hour. Lee was expected to miss the rest of the summer when he fractured his toe on his right foot during Australia's Twenty20 defeat to India in Melbourne. He expected his return at the Sydney Cricket Ground would come down to his pain threshold. more..

'Increase in fuel prices brings Govt. & IOC big profits while masses are burdened'

Feb 12 (LT) The price hike of fuel this time is the highest in the history of Sri Lanka and the govt and Indian Oil Company are earning a large profit from the price hike says the JVP MP Vijithe Herath at a press conference held today to apprise the media regarding the stand of the JVP on the latest increase in fuel prices. He said the govt is burdening the masses to find money for its frauds, corruption and waste and more..

Pop queen Whitney Houston dies at age 48

Feb 12 (AP) Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was tarnished by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died on the eve of the Grammy Awards she once reigned. She was 48. Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said Houston was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. "There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent," more..

Indian port officials visit Sri Lanka

Feb 12 (PTI) ploring the probability of resuming the suspended ferry services between India and Sri Lanka, top officials of the Shipping Corporation of India and Tuticorin Port Trust today visited Arichal Munai, a point very close to 'Ram Sethu', near here. Ferry services between Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka were halted in the early 1980s due to civil war in the neighbouring country. Tuticorin Port Trust Chairman Subbiah, who visited the areas along more..

Minister Arumugam Thondaman in drunken brawl made to leave Kovai

Feb 12 (AA) Minister Arumugam Thondaman allegedly misbehaved with the women staff of a five star hotel in an inebriated condition here on Friday, police said. They said a team from the Race Course police station rushed to the hotel following a SOS call from its staff and got him back into his room, using ‘mild force’ when its plea for calm was brushed aside by the abusive guest. The minister was on a personal visit and more..

Blake and Otero in Lanka

Feb 12 (DM) US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O. Blake and Under Secretary for Civilian Protection, Human Rights and Democracy Maria Otero arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday night and this morning respectively, officials confirmed today. The two top US diplomats will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister G.L. Peiris and other govt officials during their stay upto February 14, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said. more..

Kattankudy abduction “A total lie”

Feb 12 (SL) The People’s Movement for Good Governance (PMGG), has sacked one of its executive committee members, after discovering that he had lied about being kidnapped late last month. PMGG, the main opposition party of the Kattankudy Urban Council, last week made a public apology, after discovering that their member, Mohammad Azam, had “fully fabricated” an account of how he had supposedly been abducted, questioned, threatened and even assaulted, by unknown men. more..

'We wouldn’t ask for pardon even if both of us have to die together'

Feb 12 (LT) Ms. Anoma Fonseka in an interview with a weekend newspaper had said “We would never ask for pardon even if we both die together.” Here are certain excerpts from the published interview. When asked why they don’t ask for pardon even when it is possible to do so Ms. Fonseka said, “This is a decision taken after discussion in the family. Even our relatives and friends asked us to ask for pardon. more..

No moves to ban song – JHU

Feb 12 (SL) There are no plans to ban a song containing sacred Pali chants, Minister Champika Ranawaka said on behalf of the JHU. The Minister was responding to claims that the JHU had called for the song “Tiken Tika” to be banned. Ranawaka said that Buddhist monks had protested because the song had rapped an ancient Pali chant. “Any artist should respect tradition and the religious feelings of the people. They should be very cautious when presenting these things to the public,” more..

LPBOA to strike; other unions refuse to join

Feb 12 (AD) The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) says it will continue with the proposed strike and withdraw from operating buses from midnight today after diesel prices were increased last night. However, other bus associations say they will not join the strike action and will operate as usual. Private bus operators had yesterday warned that they will resort to strike action, after diesel prices were increased by Rs.31 per litre by the govt, and said they would more..

Pressure mounts on Sri Lanka accountability

Feb 12 (BBC) While a senior US diplomat is in Sri Lanka to discuss accountability issues, the European Parliament has called on the United Nations to establish an inquiry into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. In a motion for a resolution, the European Parliament has called on the EU presidency, among many other issues, to urge the UN to implement the recommendations of the expert panel appointed by the UN secretary general on Sri Lanka. more..

PCB will invite Sri Lanka women team to Pakistan

Feb 12 (PTI) The PCB will invite the Sri Lankan women`s team to Pakistan next month after receiving positive vibes from the Sri Lankan government on helping Pakistan revive international cricket in the country. According to the "Express" daily newspaper, the Sri Lankan government has agreed to send its women`s team to Pakistan after talks between Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse and President Asif Zardari during the former`s state visit to the country. more..

Fishermen protest fuel price hike

Feb 12 (BBC) Fishermen in northern Sri Lanka have pledged support to a 'Black Flag' protest launched by their counterparts in the south against the latest hike of fuel price by the state. While the price of a litre of diesel has been increased by Rs 31 the price of a litre of petrol has been increased by Rs.12 and Kerosene by Rs.35 with effect from midnight on Sunday. The increase is seen as a direct effect of the latest US sanctions on Iran forcing Sri Lanka which imports over 90% of more..

Minister Mervyn visits the Keppetipola Nilame Memorial

Feb 12 (NF) Minister of Public Coordination and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva arrived at the Nuwara-Kalaviya Parawahagama village on Saturday. The Minister arrived at the village with the intention of inquiring into the memorial constructed in the village for the freedom fighter Keppetipola Nilame. Considered as one of the main fighters in the 1818 freedom struggle, Veera Keppetipola Nilame was captured by the more..

Garbage system in Soysapura breaks down

Feb 12 (NF) Residents of the Soysapura flats in Moratuwa have been severely inconvenienced due to the break down of the sewage and garbage systems. They point out that this situation has persisted since Feb 1, and as a result the entire area is giving out irritable stench. Around 2000 families reside at the Soysapura flats in Moratuwa. When we inquired from the Mayor of the Moratuwa Municipal Council Samanlal Fernando regarding the situation, he expressed more..

Govt. has led people down another precipice: Ranil

Feb 12 (DM) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe charged today that the government literally led the people down the path of another precipice through the increase of fuel prices despite them already enduring numerous other hardships. Addressing people in Ratnapura and Bandaragama, Mr. Wickremesinghe said that though the govt vowed not to increase fuel prices, the price of diesel had been increased by Rs.31 a litre, petrol by Rs.12 and kerosene oil by Rs.35 a litre. more..

Police to appoint 18 DIG’s

Feb 12 (DM) The Police Departments is to appoint 18 Deputy Inspector General (DIG) officers within the next two weeks, the Police Headquarters said today. 58 Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) were interviewed to select suitable officers for the positions. The list of the officers selected to the positions will be sent to the Public Services Commission next week. The appointments are to be given following the approval of the names of the selected more..

Davis Cup team face of the future or compelled selection?

Feb 13 (SL) IF the importance of today’s reverse singles in the Davis Cup Group 2 tie hasn’t already diminished to only of academic interest, then Sri Lanka tennis has a lot to cheer about. The young national team doing duty is virtually second-string, and for them to have kept the raging favourities and bottom seed Thailand guessing the outcome until the final day represents a triumph, never mind that the tie is eventually conceded to the Thais. more..

Dirt cheap designer wear

Feb 13 (SL) Often in Sri Lankan clothing stores you can find designer wear going dirt cheap. Most of these clothes come from garment factories. They are either rejected shipments or a result of surplus production. It is illegal for the factories concerned to sell these items under the names of their original brands, so most of the clothes you will see have labels cut off, or unconvincingly painted over. This is alright though because it does not really take an expert eye more..

LTTE still active abroad - Hulugalle

Feb 13 (NS) The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) was established for the purpose of disseminating national security and defence-related information and data to the media and the public from one co-coordinated centre when the war with the LTTE was taking place. By today, the LTTE has been militarily defeated. Even after two years of the victory, the MCNS is still functioning. The Nation spoke to its first and present Director General more..

Facing bitter truth

Feb 13 (NS) Dr. (Ms.) Sudarshini Fernandopulle, UPFA MP, and widow of slain UPFA minister Jeyaraj, has my deep sympathy for her loss, during the war. Her husband was blown up by a LTTE suicide bomber. Nevertheless, my sympathy extends also to all victims of the war, and I worry quite bit about her recent statement, “I must specifically mention I have no faith in the LLRC or its report… They have forgotten the victims of LTTE terrorism”. I do disagree with this characterisation of more..

Profit sans investment

Feb 13 (NS) Time was when a frequent term of abuse hurled across the Parliament was ‘cattle-thief’ or, in current parlance, harak-hora. As we know, the origin of ‘capital’ in Europe was cattle. In most agrarian societies it is still so. In the mis-developed or industrialised countries cattle and other livestock have been taken over by banks and other money-makers and the farmers evicted. Many of the wars in northern America had to do with land and water for cattle; so too with the more..

Judicial Intervention to Control Lawful Rallies: Subverting democratic rights

Feb 13 (GV) When court orders are frequently obtained by the police to restrain lawful protests and meetings, the public begin to wonder whether there is any legal basis for such actions, particularly when the Constitution guarantees freedom of association and freedom of speech. From colonial days until recently Sri Lanka has not seen the police making such unusual applications to courts to prevent mass protests, processions, strikes or peaceful meetings more..

Prevention of the escalation of fatal accidents

Feb 13 (SL) This column dedicated to the notion on the recent spate of fatal accidents and methods of their prevention as Sri Lankan society would aspire to rid our country from such accidents. It was reported in the media recently that a person under the influence of liquor driving a vehicle at very high speed had run over two cyclists one after the other and finally ran over a motorcyclist. The two cyclists met with their deaths, whereas the motorcyclist suffered serious injuries. more..

Higher Education: Getting more and more into a mess

Feb 13 (CT) Sri Lankan higher education seems to be getting more and more into a mess. While the govt is desperate to encourage private higher education and faltering badly in these efforts, it seems to be unable to deal with student protests and labour disputes in the Universities. The student leadership which is not totally representative of the students and unable normally to mobilize student activism is being provided with rallying points by govt action. more..

The core of power has to change

Feb 13 (TC) In the morass of confusion worse compounded that Sri Lanka currently finds itself in regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC, it is important to reiterate and underscore certain valid truths. As said previously in these column spaces, carrying out the LLRC's recommendations must be the first basic step that the govt should take in order to indicate its bona fides. The govt may find its fundamentally undemocratic power structures in total disarray more..