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Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Mar 4 (ST) United States Assistant Secretary Robert O Blake was on a twitter Q&A session on Tuesday. He invited those who were following him to ask questions. The session lasted 30 minutes and Mr. Blake was highly pleased with the way the Q&A went on and pledged to have similar Q&As in the future. Among those who fielded questions was a the Sunday Times deputy editor and head of the newspaper's International Desk, Ameen Izzadeen. more..

Soaring construction costs a disincentive

Mar 4 (Island) Sri Lanka is one of the most expensive countries in the region where construction costs are concerned. Prices will further go up with building material costs climbing by 10 per to 15 percent in the recent past. International Construction Cost Report 2011 released last year indicates that India and Sri Lanka share 13th position for the most expensive countries in Asia to build, and are placed 55th in the world. Therefore, Sri Lanka’s construction industry is now in a crisis due to more..

25-year tax exemption for Indian coal power project in Sampoor

Mar 4 (ST) Minister Basil Rajapaksa has made new regulations under the Strategic Development Projects Act to give tax exemptions to the Indian company that will establish the Coal Based Power Station of 500 MW capacity, on Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis at Sampoor in the Trincomalee District. The coal power project is a joint venture project between the CEB and the NTPC Ltd, India. more..

Brutal killing in city hotel adds to increasing incidents of crime

Mar 4 (ST) Two weeks ago a businessman from Sapugaskanda off Kelaniya received several calls demanding Rs. two million as ‘protection money’. He decided to pay the money only after receiving a call threatening him with death. The businessman had however bargained with the caller and had agreed to pay half a million rupees at a location close to Sapugaskanda town. more..

New public buildings should comply with accessibility regulations for disabled

Mar 4 (Island) Access to public buildings for the disabled is a fundamental right that has been violated. Due to the manner in which some buildings have been constructed, approximately five million disabled people in Sri Lanka have been affected. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka addressed this issue at a media conference last week with the aim of creating awareness on the problems that more..

23 points, and you lose your driving licence

Mar 4 (ST) Parliament will on Thursday debate the introduction of a Driver Improvement Points system under which drivers will risk having their licences suspended for up to a year for committing motor traffic offences. The regulations under the Motor Traffic Act have been drafted by Transport Minister Kumar Welgama. In terms of these regulations, a regular driving licence holder who accumulates between eighteen and 23 driver improvement points more..

TNA, SLMC crack after UNP

Mar 4 (NS) Sri Lanka’s main opposition UNP and the major minority parties; TNA and SLMC were now cracking with heightened tensions within the rank and file, authoritative sources disclosed. Cracks that first appeared in the UNP had now spread to the hitherto solid TNA and the SLMC being the latest victim. The simmering differences of opinion in the UNP over certain actions by its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe reached more..

Granting duel citizenship will be resumed

Mar 4 (SO) Controller General of Immigration and Emigration Chulananda Perera said that the currently suspended issuance of dual citizenship by his department to eligible persons of Sri Lankan origin, who have acquired citizenship of the countries of their migration, will be re-introduced shortly with some modifications. A proposal has already been submitted on the matter to the Ministry of Defence who in turn will submit a cabinet paper soon. more..

World record attempt gone wrong

Mar 4 (DM) A man who tried to set a world record being buried alive for the most number of hours, died after he was hospitalized yesterday. The victim M Janaka Kumara (24) had attempted to set a world record with the assistance of his family and relations. Kumara had dug a pit and buried himself up to 6 hours, while his relations set a fire over the place he was buried. After six hours while his relations set a fire over the place he was buried. more..

Moves to buy fuel from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi

Mar 4 (ST) Sri Lanka is hoping to persuade Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to step up crude and refined oil supplies to the country in the wake of sanctions on Iran, a senior Petroleum Industries Ministry official said yesterday. He said talks were being held with Saudi-based Aramco, a fully integrated international petroleum company, and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on extra supplies. more..

Tea exporters want govt to act

Mar 4 (SL) The Tea Exporters Association says that the govt needs to address the impact on the tea industry following the economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran. Tea Exporters Association Chairman Niraj De Mel said that the Minister of Plantations Mahinda Samarasinghe and Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal have also been briefed on this issue. De Mel said that so far not a single bank is even lending financial support to those who export tea to Iran. more..

No Bird Flu in Sri Lanka

Mar 4 (SL) The Department of Animal Production and Health dismissed concerns which led to a ban by Kuwait on the import of poultry, eggs and chicks from Sri Lanka. Director General of the Department of Animal Production and Health Kumar De Silva said that a suspected bird flu case in Bingiriya recently led to the ban by Kuwait. The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) in Kuwait announced the prohibition of all poultry, eggs, and chicks from Sri Lanka due to more..

Australia take hard-fought 1-0 lead

Mar 4 (CI) David Warner chose a fine time to awaken from his one-day international slumber. His first ODI century set up a 15-run victory in the first final for Australia, who will raise the Commonwealth Bank Series trophy if they repeat their success in Adelaide on Tuesday. But Sri Lanka will enter the second final with some confidence after a remarkable, though ultimately futile, fightback in a chase of 322. Warner made 163, the sixth-highest score by an Australia more..

Go green or lose out

Mar 4 (LB) The Sri Lankan hotel sector has the potential to save 20% in terms of energy and water consumption, and the possibility to reduce waste generation by 20%, a study - ‘Switch-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project’ - finds. According to data collected by the 2 million euro project funded by the European Union, Sri Lankan hotels are doing their best to save energy but are not fully knowledgeable of their initiatives. Hoteliers and staff are aware that using a CFL or LED lighting system more..

Hussey hits, Welegedara misses

Mar 4 (CI) The bouncer: When Lasith Malinga generates bounce from the height he bowls at, he can be extra difficult to negotiate. Matthew Wade learned that in the third over of the Australia innings today, when one nearly exploded straight at his throat. Wade did manage to get out of the delivery's way, but he had to be lightning quick in doing so and almost lost his footing. The slower ball: This one went wrong. Malinga can sometimes overuse the slower ball. When he did so three times in a row in the fifth over, more..

Farmers in M’weli B & C regions and P’naruwa in dire straits

Mar 4 (LB) Farmers in Polonnaruwa and the Mahaweli B and C regions are in dire straits as they are unable to sell their paddy stocks at a competitive price. Paddy harvesting is currently in progress in the Mahaweli B and C regions but the government has failed to implement a programme to buy paddy stocks from farmers at reasonable prices. Most farmers in the Mahaweli B and C regions, and in areas such as more..

Couple drowns in Victoria reservoir

Mar 4 (DM) A married couple was drowned while bathing in the Victoria reservoir in the Theldeniya area this evening, the police said. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said that they were bathing with a group of people who were residents of the area. The incident was reported at around 3.00pm. According to the eyewitnesses, the woman had drowned first and then her husband had made an attempt to rescue her in which he also had drowned. The victims were 42 and 43 years of age respectively. more..

Badminton star calls for better planning

Mar 4 (BBC) The only Sri Lankan sportsperson to have qualified for London 2012 Olympics have called on the country's authorities to plan ahead to get the best out of sportsmen and women. Niluka Karunaratne, the national badminton champion for the last ten years, told BBC Sandeshaya that otherwise Sri Lanka will soon lose out to many other countries. He highlighted India as an example. "India has been far behind than Sri Lanka for a long time in athletics. more..

'Chinese Govt. should see whether its equipment is used in wire tapping here'

Mar 4 (ST) UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera who recently revealed in Parliament that equipment imported from China is being used to tap telephones and hack into peoples personal e-mails said he hopes the Chinese govt would look into the concerns raised by th UNP. “We established diplomatic ties with China in the 1950s and successive govts have maintained good relations. more..

Road to Geneva

Mar 5 (Island) "An agreement between the Sri Lankan govt and the TNA on a lasting political settlement is also critical." Under Secretary for State (US) Marie Ottero at the media conference at Colombo Hilton. Americans will throw plenty rope to hang ourselves with, as they did in urging Sri Lanka to talk peace and not make war with the LTTE, which yielded no results over years of worthless talk. They hate to admit a mistake. Instead they opt to punish us before the Human Rights Council (HRC) in more..

Nov-March season among many pluses, a minus too

Mar 5 (SL) Now that the SLRFU’s executive committee has legislated a new calendar for inter-club competitions, it’ll mean fans will have rugby virtually year round. Traditionally, the club season has been between May and September, and ran concurrently with the inter-schools season. As the inter-club season is moved to the November-March period, the schools will have the traditional May to September season all to their own. What this means is rugby goes off the radar for more..

'We produce far in excess of domestic rice requirement'

Mar 5 (SO) The Agriculture Development Ministry has designated Ampara, Mannar, Hambantota and Polonnaruwa as rice export zones in the efforts to achieve target of exporting 200,000 mt by 2015 as pledged by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Agriculture Development Ministry Secretary Wijeratna Sakalasooriya. Sakalasooriya the former Govt Agent, Galle and former additional secretary to the Agriculture Development Ministry more..

The saga of Somali piracy

Mar 5 (SL) It was reported in the media that a Sri Lankan delegation was expected to travel to Somalia to negotiate the release of six Sri Lankan fishermen abducted by Somali pirates. The Somali pirates, who have demanded the meeting with the Sri Lankan Authorities, abducted the fishermen four months ago when they trespassed into Somalian territorial waters in a trawler owned by a businessman. The pirates, who initially demanded a ransom of $6 million, threatened to kill the fishermen if more..

Geneva A-2 and sovereignty

Mar 5 (NS) The US resolution at the UN HRC in Geneva has deepened the schisms in Sri Lankan society. The dominant elements of the centre-right Opposition, the UNP (apart from its ‘Reformists’, that is) opine that there is nothing wrong, or particularly anti-Sri Lankan, with a resolution that calls on the state to implement its own LLRC recommendations. The TNA has, after a sporadic show of realism, finally taken the line of the Tamil Diaspora’s pro-Tiger lobby by calling on more..

'I serve no politicos'

Mar 5 (NS) Ven. Elle Gunawansa thera has been known to the general public for a long time. Though he was not a politician, he was known to the country as well as to the international community as a character influencing giants in politics. Ven. Thera says that he has been involved in social work all over the island from his twenties rubbing shoulders with all the rulers of the country starting from Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike, presidents J. R. Jayawardene, more..

Battling blunders in diplomacy

Mar 5 (NS) While most headlines this week focussed on the diplomatic war being fought in Geneva in Switzerland where Sri Lanka was facing censure from the UNHRC, another diplomatic battle was also raging, thousands of miles away in New York. While most headlines this week focussed on the diplomatic war being fought in Geneva in Switzerland where Sri Lanka was facing censure from the UNHRC, another diplomatic battle was also raging, thousands of miles away in New York. more..

Editorial: What a crime!

Mar 5 (Island) Traders at the Dambulla Economic Centre are reported to have recently destroyed about 30,000 kilos of vegetables, which they could not sell due to a glut. Paddy farmers are protesting, unable to sell their produce. They are demanding that the govt ensure a fair price for their paddy which unscrupulous private traders are purchasing for a song. It was only a few months ago that the Dambulla traders destroyed truckloads of vegetables in protest against more..

Tripping along the path to liberation

Mar 5 (NS) Women’s liberation is about a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’. It is about celebration and critique. It is based on assumptions too, about the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ and about what is celebratory and what warrants censure. Every year on the 8th of March, the world wakes up, as it were, to women. Women’s issues including oppression and rights are talked about. Empowerment is advocated. Relevant laws are critiqued, new ones proposed and assessments are more..

The Geneva Equation

Mar 5 (Island) A little less than three years ago, at the end of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, this writer made the following observations in the columns of this newspaper: Having won the war Sri Lanka must not lose the peace. To analyze this cliché carefully we should first be clear about what has been won. The LTTE has been defeated and destroyed. Given the proven capabilities of the armed forces it is unlikely that any other group would attempt the direct military route to more..

Left’s stance on Lanka’s economic mayhem

Mar 5 (Island) The material published in the last four weeks on the madness that has taken possession of Lanka’s economic decision makers can fill a bookshelf. So if I tell you by what percentage kerosene prices rose or foreign reserves plummeted, you would be justified in strangling me for wasting time. No, what I intend to do is to explain that the Left has a different perspective of what went wrong, what is likely to happen in the next period, and its own vision of what should be done. more..

Oh Sri Lanka!

Mar 5 (Island) We have our share of new widows with foul murders and disappearances now occurring everyday; with babes crying out in hunger; with the people stunned by increased prices of everything that they need to merely exist; and a muzzling of criticism and people in Jaffna not much freer than when the LTTE lorded it over them. Also mass protests with the mother of all protests having paraded the rain drenched streets of Colombo on Monday 27th, more..

Sri Lankan Americans urged to Show Solidarity with Lankan Brethren

Mar 4 (GDI) In this month’s webcast Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya provides an update on the situation regarding Sri Lanka at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 19th Session in Geneva.The United States has stated that it will support a resolution that might be brought against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. Ambassador Wickramasuriya explains how and why such resolution can jeopardize Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process that is already underway. more..

Girl kidnapped, civilian joins police rescue operation

Mar 5 (SO) It was with much trepidation that we listened to a mother who narrated the spine-chilling story of how her three-year-old daughter Swastika was rescued by policemen from the clutches of death in the Arachchikatuwa last week. She related the hair-raising story at a press conference in Colombo last week. The Police Media Spokesman, Ajith Rohana and the police rescue team that consisted of OIC Mundalama Police Station, Inspector Sujewa Alawatte and more..

Sri Lanka power utility main source of petro losses: Treasury

Mar 5 (Island) Giving subsidized furnace oil to a state-run power utility was the main main source of losses at a petroleum utility, while the private firms also made higher profits due to cheap power, the finance ministry said. The finance ministry said state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation lost 90 billion rupees in 2011 mainly due to selling furnace oil to the Ceylon Electricity Board at 40 rupees a liter when its cost was around 110 to 116 a litre. more..

Gota to share key strategies at Colombo Uni. MBA Alumni management conference

Mar 5 (FT) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be the Chief Guest at the Colombo University MBA Alumni Association annual management conference titled ‘Beyond Traditional Boundaries’ on 16 March at the Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo. This year’s focus on the conference is ‘Mastering Your Game’ and Rajapaksa, whose Ministry also includes the Urban Development, as Chief Guest is expected to share his strategy for making the moves that count in terms of ushering peace and development. more..

83rd Battle of the Maroons: Pitch Invasion the only spark in high scoring draw

Mar 5 (Island) The 83rd Big Match between Ananda College and Nalanda College ended in a tame draw as no one was willing to take a risk be it a declaration or attacking fields and the only source of spark came from an unlikely origin as the invading supporters of both schools halted the match for 25 minutes in the final session. It started when one fan was caught by the security while running to the ground and the section of fans near the trouble angered by the situation more..

Brainstorming retreat for Govt. MPs

Mar 5 (FT) A workshop for ministers and parliamentarians of the ruling UPFA was held over the weekend in Diyatalawa to enlighten the political leaders on the local and global political situation. The workshop titled ‘Our Journey’ was launched at the Diyatalawa Military Academy under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Addressing the inaugural session of the workshop Minister Maithripala Sirisena said the political situation that emerged after more..

Sri Lanka ends easy stock listings, lock-in periods tightened

Mar 5 (LBO) Sri Lanka's securities regulator has halted listings by 'introduction' a process where a public subscription of shares is not initially made and also barred promoters from selling stock immediately after a listing. Stocks of firms that were listed by 'introduction' which were necessarily illiquid due to little or no public shareholdings were heavily manipulated last year as loose monetary policy allowed stocks to be pumped up. more..

Father forces two children to consume poison

Mar 5 (Island) Two children aged eight and 11 were admitted to Peradeniya Teaching Hospital on Saturday with a history of being forced to consume a poison by their father, a resident of Digana. The father identified as Selvam was arrested by Teldeniya police and later remanded for 14 days. Inquiries by police have disclosed that the father of three who was severely addicted to alcohol had given a poison to the 8 year old daughter and the 11 years old son, intending more..

5,400 Lankan, Indian Catholics attend Kachchativu church feast

Mar 5 (SM) The annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church in Kachchativu Island, attended by nearly 5,400 Sri Lankan and Indian Catholics, came to a close today (4). Around 3,500 of them from the South Indian fishing town of Rameswaram came to the church set up in 1905 in the islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974. They thanked the Sri Lankan government for allowing them to participate in the festival and said they had been treated well during their stay. more..