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Major initiative to kiss and make up with Uncle Sam

Apr 7 (ST) It was just this week that top govt officials scoffed at suggestions that Sri Lanka too play a role in the US pivot, a new foreign policy initiative by President Barack Obama towards East Asia. The suggestion to include Sri Lanka in that endeavour came in an article Jaliya Wickremesuriya, Ambassador to the US, wrote to a US Congressional website and was quoted in this column last week. He called for closer more..

Pass system abolished – fishermen relieved

Apr 7 (SO) The pass system for fishermen that was in practice for over two decades in the North, East and North Western provinces, restricting fishing activities was abolished last week. Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that this was a great relief and victory for the fishermen who had staged protests and agitations demanding the abolition of the Navy’s pass system. The system was introduced two decades ago to restrict and monitor the LTTE’s activities across the Palk Straits, he said. more..

Wimal calls for probe on human skeletons in Matale

Apr 7 (SO) Minister Wimal Weerawansa said that a full-scale investigation should be conducted on the human skeletons found in a mass grave at Matale which have been identified as those disappeared during the 1988-1989 insurrection. The UN says that the Government should conduct credible investigations on the alleged human rights violations. Why can't the UNHRC conduct a similar credible investigation on the mass grave at Matale, the Minister told the Sunday Observer. more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Apr 7 (ST) Minister Arumugam Thondaman visited the Anuradhapura Prison with gifts to see a group of more than 15 South Indian fishermen. Together with police officials, bodyguards and cameramen, he held a meeting inside the prison with the fishermen who had been arrested while in Sri Lankan waters in the west coast near Mannar. Minister Thondaman asked the fishermen for their own version of the events that led to more..

UNP May Day rally in three places

Apr 7 (ST) The UNP will hold three separate May-Day rallies this year. Party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the three rallies will be held in Badulla, Kurunegala and outside the party headquarters in Pita-Kotte. “The main rally in Colombo will be held in Pita Kotte at 9 a.m., where we will be supported by four trade unions along with our supporters” Mr. Attanayake said. He said the rally in Kurunegala will be a coalition meting more..

Tobacco company lures 110,000 into smoking

Apr 7 (NS) Against a backdrop of delays in making pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs mandatory, almost 110, 000 new smokers have taken up smoking within the last five years. Senior House Officer at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Samadi Rajapaksa said according to statistics from the tobacco industry itself, between 80-90 persons either die from tobacco related illnesses or quit smoking every day. more..

Sri Lanka Anti-Muslim Campaign Threatens Tensions

Apr 7 (AP) A red-robbed Buddhist monk calmly picked up stones and hurled them at a security camera. Then, as police looked on, his followers smashed up a popular, Muslim-owned clothing store. Last month's attack on the Fashion Bug chain near Colombo, filmed by a local television station whose cameraman was attacked by the mob, was the most public outburst in a growing anti-Muslim campaign by Sri Lanka's Buddhist more..

Sri Lanka says British travel advisory distorts reality of ground situation

Apr 7 (Island) Sri Lanka has protested to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office against its travel advisory saying that it distorts the reality of the ground situation and hence misleading. Though the travel advisory is based on information and assessments submitted by the British High Commission in Colombo, it is compiled and issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, the latest of which more..

India spent Rs 100 cr in 2nd phase of Lanka housing project

Apr 7 (PTI) India has processed more than 15,500 transactions and disbursed Rs 100 crore in the last six months to beneficiaries in Sri Lanka under the second phase of the housing project there with the help of five Indian banks. New Delhi, which launched the direct cash transfer on October 2 last year, has planned to spend Rs 1,000 crore for construction of 43,000 house units in the second phase of the housing project. more..

Tamil MPs not part of delegation visiting Sri Lanka

Apr 7 (Rediff) A six-member delegation of Indian parliamentarians will visit Sri Lanka from April 8 to 12. The multi-party delegation visiting Colombo and Jaffna will not, however, include MPs from Tamil Nadu. Jyoti Malhotra, a journalist and coordinator of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, foreign cell, which is organising the visit, said that the delegation will include more..

Oil-hedging payments: Crucial talks tomorrow

Apr 7 (ST) Officials of the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) are due to meet Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera tomorrow to clarify a Cabinet decision to settle a five-year old payment dispute over flawed oil hedging deals, with a US$ 60 million (Rs 7.5 billion) payout. Fresh issues have emerged with banking industry sources close to the negotiations saying there has been no agreement between the bank and the CPC, as yet, more..

BASL disturbed by unusual transfers

Apr 7 (ST) The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has appointed a subcommittee to look into the recent transfers of several district court judges and magistrates who have not even completed their tenure of three years in their courts. The transfers were made by the Judicial Services Commission chaired by Chief Justice 44 Mohan Pieris. The BASL subcommittee includes its President Upul Jayasuriya, Vice President more..

Presidential commission on Matale grave

Apr 7 (CG) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to appoint a special commission to investigate the mass grave at Matale. Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said this morning that the investigations by the commission will be in addition to the investigations being carried out by the police. Over 150 skeletal remains and human bones have been unearthed from the mass grave in Matale. more..

Editorial: Reality check on media freedom

Apr 7 (CT) It is indeed ironic the Sri Lanka Army should blithely declare there is no threat to media freedom in Sri Lanka, almost in the immediate aftermath of what is being acknowledged as the 32nd attack on the Jaffna based Uthayan newspaper office. The Army’s claim is near mendacious, given that the security forces pretty much head the list of alleged culprits responsible for the 3 April attack and many others that has made Sri Lanka one of the most dangerous countries more..

Fonseka refuses to plead for civic rights

Apr 7 (SL) Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka says he will not plead for his civic rights from President Rajapaksa. Fonseka said that the govt must give his civic rights back to him and he is not ready to formally request that they be given back. He accused the govt of removing almost everything he had after he contested the 2010 Presidential elections. Fonseka had last week challenged the govt to restore his civic rights so that he can contest the next elections after his more..

No concrete signs Jihadis are gaining ground in Sri Lanka – G8 ambassadors In SL

Apr 7 (CT) “There was general agreement that the possibility of increased radicalization of the Muslim population in Sri Lanka, especially on the east coast, exists given that the community is marginalized in many ways and has suffered during the twenty-five years of fighting between the govt and the LTTE. That said, there was also general agreement that there are no concrete signs that “jihadis” are gaining more..

Searing danger: death clouds over the Sri Lankan cricketers at the IPL

Apr 7 (CT) A gnawing fear resides today in my guts. I fear that one or more of the Sri Lanka cricketers at the IPL matches in India will end up maimed or dead. This is an imminent and distinct possibility – a slim one I admit, but not wholly fanciful. I earnestly wish I am wrong; but I think that either a lone ranger or a clique of Tamil zealots is quite capable of carrying out such an attack in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi or Calcutta. Security precautions can go only so far. more..

Tea Board and EDB participate in Cairo International Fair

Apr 7 (Island) The Sri Lankan Embassy in Cairo in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tea Board and the Export Development Board participated at the 46th Sessions of the Cairo International Fair last week as part of trade promotion work undertaken in Egypt and the North African region. Cairo International Fair, considered one of the largest trade platforms in Africa, is an annual event attracting high-profile business delegations and buyers from many countries, especially in the African and more..

Approximately 31,029 unexploded ordnance recovered

Apr 7 (SL) The Sri Lanka Army recovered approximately, 31029 unexploded ordnance during demining operations carried out since May 2009 in the war affected areas. The UNs’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was observed last week. Established by the UN General Assembly in 2005, this day fosters awareness of the mine-action capacities in countries where mines and more..

TNA to take resettlement issue to court

Apr 7 (SL) The TNA is to go to court over the resettlement of war displaced Tamils in the north. TNA MP Appadurai Vinayagamoorthy said that his party will seek the intervention of the court to resettle hundreds of people on their original lands in parts of the north. He also said that the TNA will support a demonstration set to be staged by families who are yet to be resettled on their original lands. According to the Ministry of Resettlement, as of last month 17,749 war displaced people are living more..

Toxic gas kills 2 in Attidiya

Apr 7 (CG) Two people were killed and one person was hospitalized after inhaling, what was believed to be, toxic gas in a gully in Attidiya, Dehiwala last night. According to the police, the men had removed a pipeline and attempted to clean the gully near a hotel in Dehiwala. Initially one man who went down the gully to clean it lost consciousness and he was followed by another man who also fell unconscious. A third person then went down to rescue the other two and felt faintish but was lifted up more..

Vaiko demands referendum for Tamils in Sri Lanka

Apr 7 (ANI) MDMK leader Vaiko has called for an independent international investigation into war crimes allegations agaisnt Sri Lanka and also demanded that the Tamils in Sri Lanka should be allowed a referendum to decide their fate. "There should be an independent international investigation about the crime of genocide committed by Sri Lankan gov. And the settlements of the army and police who're deployed in the traditionally more..

Du Plessis reveals secret behind Lanka’s rugby success

Apr 7 (NS) Sri Lanka coach Ravin Du Plessis believed that changing the attitude of the players was the key to his team’s success in the HSBC Asian Five Nations division one rugby tournament which concluded at Havelock Park yesterday. Sri Lanka completed their campaign in style by defeating the top seeds Kazakhstan by a convincing margin of 49 points to 18 points in the tournament decider and to gain a much needed promotion into the Top Five from next year. more..

Govt embroiled in endless ARs and FRs cause for downturn

Apr 7 (Island) The Society for International Development (SID) held its 4th seminar last week on ‘Skills Mismatch in the Sri Lankan Economy and Challenges ahead’. Two keynote speakers, Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Dr. Nisha Arunathilake and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Planning, Dr. Suren Batagoda, addressed a selected gathering of leading academics and business people. At question time, although consensus of views was that the more..

TN rumblings keep Lankan shoppers and sightseers away

Apr 7 (ST) Large numbers of Sri Lankans travel to South India during the April holidays but tour operators said last week that their bookings were marginal due to protests in Tamil Nadu. “For the last one month, we have not conducted any tour packages to Chennai,” said Mali Ariyarathne, Manager of Outbound Tours at the World Travel Centre. “And we have hardly any inquiries for April which is usually a peak month.” more..

Car park charges by hospitals challenged

Apr 7 (Island) With many private hospitals and supermarkets charging customers for the use of their car parks and toilets, a motion has been presented to the Western Provincial Council (WPC), with a view to ending the practice, which has been termed as "illegal". Niroshan Padukke, UNP member of the WPC said that his motion which has been listed in the order paper and was scheduled to be taken up shortly, seeks to end what he called the "illegal" practice by many hospitals and more..

Ranatunga rejects Fonseka’s offer

Apr 7 (SL) Former Democratic Party member Arjuna Ranatunga says he has no intention of rejoining the party at this moment. Democratic Party leader Sarath Fonseka had last week told reporters that Ranatunga and former party member Tiran Alles could rejoin if they accept the policies of the party. “As far as I am concerned, I am very happy and content with whatever I do and let time take its own course, as it will be the best way to handle this issue. However at the moment I have more..

Somawansa to step down in due course

Apr 7 (DM) Hinting at a leadership change in the party, the JVP announced it would set an example to the country by handing over the reigns of the party to the younger generation, which had the ability to take the party to greater heights. This announcement was made by JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe at the commemoration of the April ‘71 Heroes, over the weekend. The JVP leader said he did not want to lead the more..

We will establish a Socialist Sri Lanka - JVP

Apr 7 (LT) The 42nd Commemoration of April Heroes to commemorate heroes who laid down their lives in the 1971 uprising was held by the JVP. The ceremony, headed by the Leader of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe, its General Secretary Tilvin Silva and all its senior leaders was held at YMBA hall at Kurunegala with the participation of a large number of JVP members. Tilvin Silva said the hope of the April Heroes was a red Sri Lanka with a victory for Socialism. more..

108 ‘Green’ homes in Anuradhapura

Apr 7 (NS) A ‘Green’ housing project consisting of 108 houses is due to be declared open by President Rajapaksa in Anuradhapura today. The project titled ‘Thuruithurumgama’ has been established in Katukeliyawa, Perimiyankulama in Anuradhapura. It is part of the Janasevana one million housing program undertaken by Minister Wimal Weerawansa. The total expenditure of this project is Rs.86 million. The project consists of 102 housing units built in plots of land consisting more..

More Indians arrested for poaching

Apr 7 (CG) The Navy arrested a group of Indian fishermen for poaching in Sri Lankan waters, some 24 hours after another group of Indian fishermen had also been arrested. The navy said that 30 Indian fishermen were arrested along with 05 Indian fishing Trawlers while they were engaged in illegal fishing in the Northern seas late last night. The fishermen were handed over to the Talaimannar Police for legal action. more..

Major tax sweeteners for $220m Hambantota refinery

Apr 7 (ST) A US$220m (Rs. 27.6 billion) joint Indo-Lanka sugar refinery project planned for the Hambantota Free Port Area has been granted numerous tax concessions by the Minister of Investment Promotion, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena. These will include exemptions from customs levies, import and export regulations and as well as exchange control acts and regulations. The refinery will import raw sugar for refining and sale both here and for the export market. more..

SL Navy denies presence of Chinese submarines

Apr 7 (CT) Sri Lanka Navy has denied the presence of any submarines in the country’s territorial waters, after the Indian media reported Indian and the US naval vessels had detected Chinese submarines on at least 13 occasions just south of Sri Lanka. “We have not detected any signals from submarines in our waters,” a senior Navy official said, when asked about the Indian media reports. India’s ‘Headlines Today’ reported, citing a report from the Indian Navy to the Indian Ministry of Defence, more..

Jayanthi asks FICCI to cancel MPs visit to Sri Lanka

Apr 7 (PTI) Opposing a FICCI-sponsored Sri Lanka visit of a team of Parliamentarians starting tomorrow, Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan today said it would deeply hurt the cause of Lankan Tamils and asked the industry body to cancel it in expression of solidarity with them. "I feel that this is a trip which if undertaken, will be deeply hurtful to the cause of innocent Sri Lankan Tamils. I feel very strongly that FICCI more..

Minister controlling distilleries as ‘Mathata Thitha’ goes on - Hemakumara

Apr 7 (AD) Former Minister and Mawbima Janatha Party leader, Hemakumara Nanayakkara today said that although religious observances are conducted at Temple Trees on Poya Days while the ‘Mathata Thitha’ policy is ongoing, a certain Cabinet Minister is controlling 4 liquor distilleries giving ‘Thithata Matha’. Nanayakkara said he had come to know through sources that the government is preparing to introduce a new Gazette which will allow the import of ethanol without restrictions. more..

Bus operators ready to strike

Apr 7 (LB) President of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association, Gemunu Wijeratne says that a bus strike will take place between April 20 and 30 based on several demands, however refused to give the exact date of the union action. The date of the strike cannot be revealed to media, however relevant authorities will be informed regarding it, he said on Sunday. When asked why the exact date of the strike is only revealed to relevant authorities, Wijeratne said it cannot be revealed more..

Plantation sector wage hike unsatisfactory

Apr 7 (CT) The All Ceylon Estate Workers’ Union (CEWU) has demanded that the collective agreement for plantation workers signed last week be abolished. The agreement was signed by Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) with Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union (LJEWU) and Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre. President of the CEWU, Ramalingam Chandraseker said the more..

BBS: 21st Century Devadattas?

Apr 8 (DBS) We entered Peradeniya university way back in the late 1970s with the hope of creating a future for our families and also to enjoy life while contributing to the progress of society, since it was the people of this country who sustained us in the universities by way of direct and indirect taxes paid to the govt to provide us free education. However, all our hopes and dreams were shattered with the birth of LTTE terrorism and Pirabaharan and his inhuman partners almost destroying our social and more..

Buddhist fundamentalism misunderstood

Apr 8 (CT) ‘Buddhist fundamentalism’ has been the buzzword in English media for the past several months. They labelled Bodu Bala Sena as a Buddhist fundamentalist fascist group. The group that attacked the Fashion Bug warehouse in Pepiliyana was referred to as Buddhist fundamentalist thugs. A decade ago, they used the same term to identify the JHU. The blanket usage of the term ‘Buddhist fundamentalists’ reflects the writers’ lack of understanding of more..

Nidhanaya: Retrieving the lost cinematic ‘Treasure’ of Lester James Peries

Apr 8 (DBS) Moviemaker Maestro Lester James Peries celebrated his Birthday yesterday. Sri Lanka’s pioneering director of authentic Sinhala cinema was born in Dehiwela on April 5th 1919. The nonagenarian auteur in a cinematic career spanning more than five decades has stamped his indelible imprint on Sinhala films and in the process elevated Sri Lankan cinema to global heights. If everything goes well the more..