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US gets tough with Lanka over Iran oil

Jan 5 (ST) The US has rejected Sri Lanka’s plea for exemption from the oil embargo on Iran and has asked the Govt to dissociate itself from some 30 companies, including banks and shipping firms. SL Govt’s request had been prompted by rising costs to import refined fuel products. The list of companies which the US wants the Govt not to have dealings with are those blacklisted by the US for violating the oil embargo. more..

TN fishermen call off strike

Jan 5 (Hindu) The country boat fishermen in Pamban, who had launched an indefinite strike on Dec 31 in protest against the arrest of 18 fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, called off their stir and resumed fishing on Saturday. After the district country boat fishermen association met at Pamban near here and adopted a resolution calling off the agitation, a section of more than 100 fishermen set for fishing in the south sea on Saturday evening, association president S.Royappan said. more..

NIC numbers duplicated

Jan 5 (SL) Over 150,000 National Identity Card (NIC) numbers have been duplicated resulting in the NIC holders being unable to even apply for bank loans. The NIC numbers have been duplicated owing to some errors made by the Department of Registration of Persons. The Department of Registration of Persons, when contacted, said it will investigate such claims. “If such errors are being made by the Registration of Persons Department we would take the whole responsibility more..

President Rajapaksa begins a state visit to the Middle East

Jan 5 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa left the island this morning (4), embarking on an official tour of the Middle East. Sri Lankan President will visit Jordan, Palestine and Israel during his trip. President Rajapaksa accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa arrived at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, the first stop of the tour on Saturday afternoon, beginning a two-day state visit. more..

CM orders survey of repatriates from Lanka, Bangladesh

Jan 5 (DH) Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has ordered a survey of all the repatriates from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh residing in Karnataka, to provide them caste certificates. The Sri Lanka repatriates have been seeking the caste certificates for benefits of employment and education. Forest Department minister Ramanath Rai and Urban Development Department minister Vinay Kumar Sorake said that these repatriates have been demanding the right to possess the caste certificates, more..

JVP puts party policies above popularity of cinema stars

Jan 5 (NS) The JVP said priority will be given to candidates who fall in line with their party policies and not on individuals’ popularity at the upcoming provincial council elections for Western and Southern Provinces. JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath said that they were not against nominating actors, actresses and other popular figures, but said they should adhere to the policies of the JVP. Several political parties had nominated actors, actresses and other popular figures more..

Alarm bells in Geneva: Govt. in hyperactive mode

Jan 5 (ST) The Govt has gone into hyperactive mode after signals through its own channels indicated that the UNHRC’s March sessions may take a serious turn over alleged war crimes and other issues. Hectic preparations, a feature absent in the past except a show of strength in numbers in Geneva, are under way. Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga will leave for Geneva later this month to brief envoys accredited to the UN more..

Resolving a really fishy issue

Jan 5 (CT) Troubles between India and Sri Lanka have run deeper than the narrow strip of ocean that separates them. If one observes the seemingly incessant squabbles between the fishermen of the two countries, fishing in the Indian Ocean without infringing upon each other’s oceanic territorial boundaries has become almost impossible. Neither of the transgressors is prepared to give any quarters, and a bubbling cauldron of distrust stirred to simmering point by Tamil Nadu politicians, more..

2014: Year of elections in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, but no major changes in sight

Jan 5 (Island) 2013 has quietly faded away and 2014 is upon us without much of a bang. It always happens that way despite the hype that most of us go through during the heady week between Christmas and New Year. There is much speculation and hype about 2014 being yet another SL election year – with potentially 3, 4 or 5 elections packed in one year. No one will know for sure until the President lets it be known what election plans he has for his country for this year. more..

Wind power developers ignored

Jan 5 (SL) The CEB is allegedly dragging its feet on the Non-Conventional Renewable Energy Tariff (NCRE) tariff issue in an attempt to deter local developers and hand over the renewable energy sector to foreign investors. The advisor to the National Electricity Consumer Movement Bandula Chandrasekera said that the CEB is not presenting a cost effective tariff structure for wind power developers. more..

Sri Lanka inflation 4.8% by citizen index

Jan 5 (LBO) Sri Lanka's inflation measured by a private consumer price index rose 4.8% in the 12 months of 2013 in line with the 4.7% measured by the state statistics office. The CAL Urban Price Index, compiled by CAL Research, a Colombo-based consultancy, uses prices in several urban areas in the country and is based on a fixed basket. The state statistic office uses Colombo based pries. Sri Lanka is recovering from more..

British Tamil Conservatives lobby for travel bans & assets seizure

Jan 5 (Island) British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) are urging the UK govt to adopt a policy mix including travel bans and foreign asset seizures of Sri Lankans alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, Arujuna Sivananthan of BTC said last week. He said they are fully affiliated to the Conservatives and claimed to be "the driving force behind PM David Cameron’s visit to Jaffna" during CHOGM more..

Civil Aviation DG awaits info on UL 503’s cracked windshield

Jan 5 (ST) The Director General of Civil Aviation was not provided with sufficient information about what happened on Wednesday’s London-bound SriLankan Airlines flight which returned to Katunayake after pilots observed a crack on the plane’s left windshield. “The Mandatory Occurrence Report had very little information,” said Civil Aviation Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri. “It only said there was a windshield crack on the left side. more..

Health sector in disarray

Jan 5 (SL) The absence of a comprehensive pricing formula is what contributes to escalating prices of medicines and medical devices, Dr Jayantha Bandara Convener of the Prof. Senaka Bibile Foundation said. Dr Bandara held Health Ministry officials responsible for the increase in prices by a margin of 20% to 30% at the end of 2013, when compared to end 2012, in allowing drug suppliers to decide on prices. more..

From Mayor in Germany to monk in Mihintale

Jan 5 (ST) Far removed from his duties as the Mayor of the small German town of Oberndorf, Hermann Acker decided to get ordained as a Buddhist monk at the Mihintale Rajamaha Viharaya recently. Mr. Acker (55), who has served as Mayor for over 14 years developed an interest in Buddhism after he heard about the teachings of the Buddha from two of his friends who were frequent visitors to SL and keen students of the more..

No milk powder: CAA says not considered ‘essential’

Jan 5 (ST) Amid an acute shortage of powdered milk, the Consumer Affairs Authority said it did not consider milk powder an “essential item” and hence would not take immediate steps to end the crisis. CAA Director General J.M.A. Douglas said that as powdered milk was not considered an ‘essential’ item, the CAA would not take swift action but it was checking whether the shortage was created by milk powder companies. more..

Sri Lanka evacuates people in northern coast as storm nears

Jan 5 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka has begun evacuating people living along the coast in the northern parts of the country as a major storm threatened to create havoc in the area, officials said on Sunday. The Early Warning Center of the Department of Meteorology said that strong winds of about 100 kilometers per hour and very heavy rain are expected over the Northern Province and the northern sea areas. more..

'Hang me if I am proven guilty'

Jan 5 (CT) PM D.M Jayaratne, has told frontline Buddhist clergy that he would volunteer to be hanged, irrespective of the official position that he holds, if he was deemed guilty of being a party to the import of the container of the largest haul of heroin in South Asia. Premier had made his position known to the Chief Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter, Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera, more..

'Minister forced me to resign'

Jan 5 (CT) Former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and the Presidential Spokesman, Mohan Samaranayake, refuting claims by Minister Kehiliya Rambukwella, said he was forced to resign from his post as the head of SLRC by the minister. He said, he cannot disclose why the minister forced him to resign. However, Minister Rambukwella said that he did not force Samaranayake to resign. more..

Chandrika, Mahinda, Rats, and our future

Jan 5 (CT) It is possible to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa in the next presidential elections by appointing Chandrika Bandaranaike—Sri Lanka’s only female president, the daughter of two former prime ministers, the former leader of the SLFP—as the common candidate. There is another possibility: Chandrika can split not only the SLFP but also the other parties in the current UPFA and all the parties in the opposition and walk away with the members who are not happy with the current regime more..

Elderly Lankans

Jan 5 (Island) The persons whose recent gatherings brought these thoughts to mind are the old Royalists who have moved beyond seventy, the CCS men now grown old, and my own compatriots, all in their mid-seventies, from school days. Whatever their vocations and avocations may have been they belong, as such measurements go, in a more or less privileged social stratum. And, whatever their bank balances may show, they are all distinguished and distinguishable by the modesty of more..

How a hunch led to stunning claim on Buddha birth date

Jan 5 (AFP) The two archaeologists had a hunch that the Buddha's birthplace in southern Nepal held secrets that could transform how the world understood the emergence and spread of Buddhism. Their pursuit would eventually see them excavate the sacred site of Lumbini as monks prayed nearby, leading to the stunning claim that the Buddha was born in the sixth century BC, two centuries earlier than thought. more..

Turning a blind eye…

Jan 5 (ST) With the new school term starting last week the issue of transport for children has come to the fore again. Children are ptompted to take risky rides in open vehicles while parents are often seen taking two or more children on the pillion of motorbikes, despite the risks posed by this mode of transport. Student Janith Priyantha said that most of the time they were forced to wait for between half an hour to 45 minutes to get a bus, in Horana, though buses are scheduled to operate every more..

Sri Lankan refugee return falls in 2013

Jan 5 (Island) 2013 witnessed a considerable decline in the number of refugees returning to Sri Lanka, especially when compared to previous years. While 1,480 persons voluntarily repatriated to Sri Lanka in 2012 and 1,728 in 2011, only 718 did so in 2013. It is difficult to determine the reason for the 51% drop in returns from 2012. "The decision whether or not to return rests with each individual family" said UNHCR Representative Golam Abbas. "Repatriation should be voluntary and more..

Secretary reviews Kurunegala Regional Development Project

Jan 5 (MoD) Secretary Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in Kurunegala today (3) on an inspection tour. Upon arriving in the city this morning, he laid the foundation stone for a Day Care cum Pre-School and Multi Purpose complex at the old Maligawa ground. He also unveiled a plaque there. A number of development projects are underway in the Kurunegala district including Kurunegala city more..

Army denies having had any camps near Mannar mass grave site

Jan 5 (NS) A total of 15 human skulls have been unearthed so far from the mass grave that was discovered in Mannar recently, SSP Ajith Rohana said. The excavations at the grave site located near Thiruketheeswaram Hindu temple in Mannar is currently being conducted under the supervision of Mannar Magistrate Ananthy Kanagaratnam, the Consultant Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of Anuradhapura General Hospital, and a soil expert from the University of Peradeniya, he noted. more..

Lasantha, five years on

Jan 5 (SL) Five years have flashed by since Lasantha was eliminated. Five long years and the Police have failed. Nay, they have not been instructed to bring the murderers to court. Lasantha left his imprint indelibly embedded within the print and electronic journalistic history of this country. Those who gave orders to snuff out his probing pen did not envisage that he would continue to have a presence, perhaps larger than life, within and outside Sri Lanka. more..

Dishonorable discharge for Army Captain

Jan 5 (DM) A General Court Martial (GCM) of the Army, has imposed a two-year rigorous imprisonment plus dishonorable discharge from the Army on a Captain A.M.U Samarakoon of Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force for bringing the Army into disrepute by attempting to rob the National Savings Bank at Mahaiyyawa, Kandy on 6 Feb 2013, disguised as a Muslim female. The Army Headquarters said in a statement that, more..

India assures full transparency

Jan 5 (SL) The Indian Govt has assured complete transparency in the Indian Housing Project in Sri Lanka for IDP. The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that the entire list of the over 10,000 beneficiaries who have completed their houses during 2013, has been placed on the official website of the High Commission. It said that the second phase of the Indian Housing Project, involving the construction of 43,000 housing units for IDPs in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, more..

Protest against Prime Minister in Embilipitiya

Jan 5 (AD) A large gathering of Buddhist monks and laymen marched through the streets of the Embilipitiya town this morning protesting against Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne. The protest march commenced at 8.00am today from the Kawantissa Rajamaha Viharaya in Embilipitiya while shops located in the town were reportedly closed and black flags hoisted in support of the stir. The protesters condemn the Prime Minister’s allegedly derogatory comments regarding the Leader of the JHU, more..

‘Master Plan’ to ease traffic congestion in Colombo and suburbs

Jan 5 (DM) The Ministry of Transport is formulating an Urban Transport Master Plan for the Colombo metropolitan regions and the suburbs due to traffic congestion problems in these areas. The feasibility study for this ‘Master Plan’ is done in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Acting Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Transport Thilakaratna Banda said from the studies more..

Lankan seafarer feared dead after being swept overboard

Jan 5 (ST) Parents of a Sri Lankan seafarer are struck by grief, as their son- sole breadwinner of the family, has gone missing and is feared dead, after he was swept overboard off a foreign ship while entering a port in Lisbon on Christmas Eve, a maritime union said. Third Officer Gayan Wickramatarne (24) on container vessel, SAF Marine Longa, was caught up in a massive wave that hit the upper deck of the vessel in choppy sea conditions, Ranjan Perera of the more..

Ambassador Athauda unanimously elected to chair three key global organizations

Jan 5 (Island) Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Buddhi Athauda was unanimously elected to chair three world renowned organizations based in Hague recently. He was unanimously elected by 115 fellow member states to lead The Budget Committee as Chairman for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), as Chairperson for the year 2014 for the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) at the 25th Annual Meeting of Governing Council and as Vice Chairman of the 18th more..

Looking for a scapegoat from under the ‘rubble’

Jan 5 (NS) The blame game for the mishap on New Year’s Eve bash at Hilton, Colombo, continues with the organizers, Cantaloupe Playground, holding the contractor who built the stage responsible. The name and details of the contractor were under wraps for reasons best known to the organizers. Repeated phone calls to Cantaloupe officials proved futile with none of them willing to divulge the contractor’s name or details. more..

Rs 2.7 billion in default

Jan 5 (SL) State institutions owe the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Rs 2,700 Million in taxes and stamp duties, the CMC said. CMC treasurer K. D. Chithrapala said that of the Rs 2,700 Million owed to the CMC by Govt institutions Rs 1,200 Million is in municipal taxes and Rs1,500 is for stamp duties. Chithrapala said that CMC has sought the advice of the Attorney General (AG) to recover the money. The AG has given consent to confiscate Govt property operated by co-operations if more..

Red alert from paddy farmers

Jan 5 (SL) Paddy farmers claim that overall paddy production in the country will decrease by 25% in mid 2014 as a result of the govt’s decision to do away with chemical fertilizer. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Namal Karunarathne, National Organizer of the Socialist Farmers’ Union said the decrease in production would inevitably result in a steep increase in prices, as the rice supply would not be sufficient to meet consumer demands. Karunarathne asserted that farmers were more..

25 countries earmarked for vigorous Ceylon Tea promotional campaign

Jan 5 (Island) With a US$ 30 million budget, the Sri Lanka Tea Board has identified 25 countries including Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Libya to embark on a vigorous campaign to promote Ceylon Tea, a senior Tea Board official said last week. The promotional campaign will also cover Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australia in the Far East and Germany, Netherlands and France more..

Weerawansa calls for attitude change regarding popular schools

Jan 5 (NS) Any changes to the Grade 5 Scholarship Exam should be made only after ensuring that the rights of children from low income families in rural areas to enter popular schools with all facilities, are protected, Minister Wimal Weerawansa said. He made these comments while participating at an event in Siddamulla, Kottawa on Friday where exercise books were distributed. Weerawansa’s comments underscored the strong disagreements that had arisen between sections of more..

Tourists throng Mirissa for whale-watching

Jan 5 (SO) Mirissa, the tourist destination in the south now bustling with a growing number of whale and dolphin watching-enthusiasts recorded the highest number of whale-watching excursionists on January 2 and 926 tourists on 24 boats left the Mirissa Fisheries harbour on whale and dolphin watching excursions. According to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, which monitors whale and dolphin watching activities in Mirissa, a record number of 18,051 tourists visited Mirissa for more..

Abortions in the guise of 'womb washing'

Jan 5 (CT) Abortion may be a criminal offence in this island paradise of ours, but, like many other things, banning it completely does not mean it does not happen. In fact, the prohibition of it just serves to hide the number of abortions that actually takes place in the country. Thanks to its clandestine nature, there are barely any statistics available. In spite of the high level of secrecy, abortion procedures are an intensely 'happening' more..