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Christmas message from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Dec 24 (DM) It is the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem that we celebrate at Christmas. It is God’s entry into human history in the person of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. In this mystery of the Incarnation, God revealed to us the depths of his love for humankind. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16). Thus, Christmas is the manifestation of God’s unfathomable love for us. more..

SLFP gives Maithri powers to take legal action against members campaigning for..

Dec 24 (CT) Unblemished diplomatic relations maintained between Russia and Sri Lanka have reached a threatening juncture, allegedly, due to a beetle which was said to be found in one carton carrying famous Ceylon Tea. President Maithripala Sirisena is said to have contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting to end the temporary ban on SL's tea imports. President announced his decision to write to Prez Putin, more..

Christmas past, present and future

Dec 24 (Island) The miracle of Christmas is the sparkle in the eyes of a child. I suspect I was born an agnostic because I cannot recall, even at the earliest, taking religious instruction, faith in the Almighty, prayer, chapel, or the exertions of my mother, grandmother and Father Bowyer Yin, as anything but chores to be quickly got out of the way. There were more exciting things to run off and do. At 15 when I stumbled on Marx’s Manifesto and few simpler writings, they fell on fertile soil. more..

Changing faces of Christmas & Christianity

Dec 24 (Island) Will there be Christmas even if there are fewer and fewer Christians in future years? Christmas without Christians is a growing topic of discussion in western Christian countries especially at Christmas time. While the connection between Christmas and Christians is never going to be broken, no matter how tenuous it may seem from time to time, the celebration of Christmas as a secular holiday by non-Christians is manifestly gaining currency. more..

Selling Sri Lanka agenda: 1200 acres allocated for Hambantota Industrial Zone

Dec 24 (Island) A total of 1200 acres would be allocated for the Hambantota Industrial Zone. Announcement comes close on the heels of China Merchant Group paying US$ 300 million to the govt, being the first tranche of US$ 1.12 billion for an 85% stake in the Hambantota Port, as per the Joint Venture Agreement entered into with SLPA. He said that the agreement to establish Hambantota Industrial Zone as a JV more..

President makes observation tour to Moragahakanda Project

Dec 24 (PSL) President Maithripala Sirisena has made an observation tour of the Moragahakanda Project, yesterday (22). At present, the testing works of the Moragahakanda hydro-electricity plant, which will generate 25 Megawatt hydropower to the national grid, are being carried out successfully. During this observation tour the President inquired about in this regard. Moragahakanda hydro-electricity plant built within a shortest period of time in the history of the country. more..

Sri Lanka to combat forest fires with fire belts, education

Dec 24 (EN) Sri Lanka is planning to take a series of measures to prevent forest fires, most of which are due to deliberate or accidental human activity, the environmental ministry said. President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the minister of Mahweli (River) and Environment, has proposed to set up fire belts, and also education programs to combat forest fires, which had been approved by the cabinet of ministers. In 2016, over 2,945 hectares of forest had been consumed by fire. more..

Govt to refurbish Lakvijaya power plant to avoid breakdowns

Dec 24 (DM) Power and Renewable Energy Ministry is to refurbish the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant (LCPP) for the first time since it was built in 2012, which the govt hopes will put an end to the continuous power failures that occur when it breaks down. Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has received cabinet approval for the maintenance of the Turbine Auxiliary Unit 2 at the Lakvijaya Power Station. The LCPP consists of 3 units of 300 MW capacity. more..

Me and the parish Christmas crib

Dec 24 (Island) In my early teens I fancied watching adults prepare our church crib. Today I see them busy from early December each year in St. Peter’s Square, Rome (vide above from Dec. 2016). When neighbourhood friends used to gather for cricket in the church compound, I drifted indoors. Near the minor chapel by the main altar, few seniors shared views on a new design for the parish Christmas crib. Each had brought his tool pack and a paper sketch. Next weekend a farm-house type structure more..

England women's cricket team due next year

Dec 24 (Island) England women's national cricket team is also scheduled to tour Sri Lanka in the new year. British High Commissioner to SL, James Dauris said that on the cricketing front, he awaited England's tour of Sri Lanka in 2018. I am not only looking forward to welcoming the mens team, but just as much to welcoming our womens team. The UK and SL, he said were long-standing friends and shared strong ties in many areas including sports, education, defence, trade and investment. more..

Hathurusingha’s blueprint for 2019 WC

Dec 24 (Island) As expected, newly appointed Head Coach of the national cricket team, Chandika Hathurusingha, called a few shots since assuming duties earlier this week. After discussions with the national selection panel, he has provided a blueprint looking at the 2019 World Cup in England and there are some very impressive moves. One of the bold decisions that Hathurusingha made was to request SLC to more..

Boteju survives a thriller

Dec 24 (ST) In a fitting final of the 65th National Snooker Championship which was played at the Moors SC billiards, Susantha Boteju of Sea Endless regained the title which he surrendered in 2015 with a thrilling six frames to five win against defending champion M.F.M. Fazil of The Cue in the 11-frame final. In the process Boteju clinched the national snooker title for a record 19th occasion. The two cueists had their supporters on the toes with Boteju going into the lead more..

Kaushal-Dimuth involved in huge 305 run opening stand for SSC

Dec 24 (ST) National discard Kaushal Silva and his national opening partner Dimuth Karunaratne sent the Bloomfield bowlers on a leather hunt in their Premier ‘A’ encounter at Reid Avenue yesterday. The experienced combination put on a huge 305 run stand in only 66 to put their side in a commanding position as SSC ended the day on a humongous 388 for 2 in reply to the Bloomfield first innings score of 263. Karunaratne was the first to get out and he made 143 with 14 hits to the fence more..

Presidential Commission to probe SriLankan and Mihin Air

Dec 24 (CT) President Maithripala Sirisena has assured SLFP candidates, contesting the forthcoming LG elections that he would appoint a Special Commission to probe the internal issues which have resulted in the finances of Mihin Air and SriLankan Airlines nosediving under the current Govt. SriLankan made a staggering loss of nearly Rs 40 billion after 2015, mainly due to mis-management. more..

Beyond the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic binary

Dec 24 (Hindu) Considering SL’s battle-scarred history, provoked in good measure by the politics of language, news of a Telugu-speaking candidate contesting polls would seem unlikely. However, a careful look at the past shows us the layers within the SL society that seldom get captured in the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic binary that the country is often portrayed in. A new political outfit — Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) — formed by the supporters of former Prez Rajapaksa, more..

No domestic cricket for national players

Dec 24 (SO) SL’s new cricket head coach Chandika Hathurusingha wasted no time after taking over the post officially on Tuesday when he requested SLC to refrain from allowing the preliminary squad of 23 players selected for the upcoming one-day tri-series in Bangladesh from playing in the ongoing domestic Premier league tournament. “The players were asked not to play domestic cricket following a request made by the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha & we have complied with that” more..

Prez hints at ditching UNP-dominated govt

Dec 24 (EN) President Sirisena, who is at loggerheads with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP, has strongly hinted at a possible split of their coalition mid-way of its five-year term. The President told his SLFP loyalists that he has decided to carry out the second stage of his daring political bravery of defecting from the then strongman president Rajapaksa’s govt in Nov 2014. A rank outsider, Sirisena quit his Health more..

Mad Drug found for first time in Sri Lanka

Dec 24 (Island) Western Province Intelligence Unit operatives nabbed two persons transporting 7,800 narcotic tablets known by the common street name Ya Ba in Kiribathgoda. Stock of tablets had a street value of Rs. 24 million police said, adding that it was the first ever Ya Ba detection in the country. One of the suspects was a court employee. Intelligence operatives had intercepted the two suspects and recovered the contraband hidden in their traveling bags, police said. more..

GMOA opposes sale of SAITM to SLIIT

Dec 24 (Island) The GMOA said it would give the govt time till next Sunday (31) to withdraw its decision to hand over the Medical Faculty of the South Asian Institute of Medicine (SAITM) to the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) and provide a justifiable solution to the medical undergraduates and graduates of SAITM. GMOA Secretary Dr Haritha Aluthge warned that the union would "teach the govt a lesson it will not forget," if it failed to do so. more..

Buying a ship just to earn commissions?

Dec 24 (CT) Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne scotched speculation that Govt had ordered a Russian warship, which was over 20 years old and corroded. He said the ship that the govt had ordered was brand new and yet to be built. "This is the truth. Govt had not procured a Russian ship which was old and corroded, but the warship which was ordered is a brand new one and is still in the process of being built," he said. more..

Rs. 48 mn allocated for P'naruwa Hospital Director’s official residence: Prez

Dec 24 (DM) President Sirisena, while highlighting the fact that Rs.48 million was allocated to construct the official residence of the Polonnaruwa Hospital's Director, stressed the need to have proper management and fiscal policies when spending public funds. He told the District Development Programme Pibidemu Polonnaruwa in Polonnaruwa that a large morgue was constructed at the Bakamuna Hospital to accommodate 35 bodies. He said priority should be given to projects which more..

Local shoe makers lose battle to stop Indian entry

Dec 24 (ST) SL shoe manufacturers and trade unions have lost the battle to prevent a large Indian shoe maker from entering the domestic market here. When the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) met, Minister John Seneviratne informed council members that the PM had explained that it was difficult to reverse the decision and that such a move would have a negative impact on foreign investment. The concerns of local shoe manufacturers against the entry of India’s Veekesy Slippers Lanka, more..

Superpowers fight it out over Russian hacker in Colombo

Dec 24 (ST) A Russian wanted for extradition from SL by a US Grand Jury has sparked a row in Colombo with Russia also asking for his extradition – and the man’s whereabouts are now unknown after he obtained bail from the Court of Appeal earlier this month. CID has launched a manhunt for the fugitive, but believes he has fled SL. While the superpowers are fighting it out in Colombo HC for 22-year-old Manokhin Raufovich, more..

AMR Ramesh’s Rajiv Gandhi assassination tale is now a web series

Dec 24 (TOI) Filmmaker AMR Ramesh, who is known for his films that centre around real stories like Cyanide, Attahasa and Police Quarters, had announced his film on the Rajiv Gandhi assassination that was titled Asphota — The Human Bomb. Filmmaker reveals that the project has been re-christened LTTE and will be a web series, with multiple seasons. "Story required more screen time in terms of narration, which was one of the reasons we chose to make it into a web series. more..

Golden bed inquiry: CCF director fails to turn up for inquiries for the third time

Dec 24 (ST) The Central Cultural Fund’s (CCF) Sigiriya Project Director has failed to turn up on three occasions for a hearing conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) regarding an alleged theft of valuable artefacts. The HRCSL began an inquiry in September after activist Deemon Ananda lodged a complaint, alleging that a team engaged in an archaeological excavation in Sigiriya had removed, among other items, a priceless golden bed. more..

Decisive role in local polls for new generation of 700,000 voters

Dec 24 (ST) Sri Lankans, 15.7 million of them countrywide, are eligible to vote at the Feb 10 local polls – 700,000 more than the previous August 2015 parliamentary elections – to pick 8,356 councillors. That a new generation has swelled the ranks of voters is significant in many ways. In early post-independent SL, local polls were the nursery for national level politicians. J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, N.M. Perera and a host of others more..

Is Bigger Better?

Dec 25 (CT) Being a rural resident of Sri Lanka at a time of massive construction in the name of megapolises and goodness knows what else, gives one a slightly different perspective in the matter of development, the Holy Grail of people bereft of anything resembling a wider view of the fate of Sri Lankans than economic opportunity for them and their friends. In our neighbourhoods there are about six operating granite quarries, one a truly huge one which, though out of sight, more..

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Dec 25 (CT) Bethlehem is the little village in which Jesus was born. It was here, that the unseen God emptied himself to become human in the form of Jesus, so that humans could hear and know God best through the idiom of the human, and rise to a fully integrated life. The festival that commemorates this historical self-giving act of God taking flesh, known as the incarnation; is Christmas. Jesus’ life elaborates on God’s act of selfless love and the crux of His teaching calls us to live the incarnation. more..

Highly favoured, yet non-exempted from trial

Dec 25 (DN) Christmas event is all about God’s self-emptying love; God becoming man and being born of the Virgin Mary. Mary’s yes to the angel was a sine qua-non to initiate God’s climax-revelation and the human salvation. Mary was singularly favoured (Lk. 1:28) and chosen by God to be the Mother of His only Son. But, that highly favored one had to go through an abundance of trials and hardships. more..

Hoh hoh ho! Santa

Dec 25 (ST) My dear Santa Claus, I thought I must write to you as you prepare for your annual journey to Paradise to distribute gifts to those who deserve them. I hope you are not planning to use our train services to travel around in our lovely land because, like everything else here, you never know when they will work – and when they won’t! I should tell you, Santa, that most of our long suffering people have finally got the gift they wished for – an election. There were doubts as to whether more..

My Christmas wish for Sinhala Buddhists

Dec 25 (DM) Last weekend I read somewhere, the MEP that’s in tow with the flower bud (Pohottuwa) Party with Rajapaksa at its helm, has lost one of their strongest Urban Councils with nominations for Maharagama UC among few others getting rejected. How does Maharagama become one of the strongest JO election bids? That same report said it was because leaders like Dinesh Gunawardane, had always dominated the Sinhala Buddhist vote that decided Maharagama vote. more..

'Anti-UNP votes will not be divided'

Dec 25 (CT) The nomination period for the LG election drew to an end last week and campaigning will commence earnestly in the coming days. Ceylon Today spoke to MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara about the SLPP preparation and the setbacks the party received after a number of nomination lists were rejected. Q: The nomination period for the 2018 local govt election is over and campaigning has begun. more..

Invisible god became visible in Jesus

Dec 25 (Island) Christmas is the time when Christians remember in a very special way the humble birth of Jesus of Nazareth at Bethlehem. To all the followers of Jesus at least the event of his birth and his life is the most astounding in human history. God, who had revealed Himself and spoken to some chosen individuals at various times and in various ways in human history, clothed himself in human flesh and became visible as a man among men, in the person of Jesus born at more..

Editorial: Santa Clones

Dec 25 (Island) Santa Claus, Rudolph and other fabled reindeer must be dog-tired. They can skip their trip to Sri Lanka this year and take a rest. It is election time here and their absence won’t be felt, at all; we have many Santa Clones, who are hard at work to make us happy. We will only miss Santa’s lovely costume, but what’s in a dress? His clones are arrayed in lounge and kapati suit and move about in limos. Their vehicles are also capable of flying like Santa’s hoofed friends as more..

JVP Press Conference

Beetle in a tea crate raises storm over lifting ban on cancer causing asbestos

Dec 25 (ST) At first light, at first sight and at first read, the news seemed to be a page out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. But SL was forced to believe it, like it or lump it, when Russia announced its decision to cut down on its 400 million dollars worth of Ceylon Tea imports from SL, all because they had found a single beetle in a crate that carried SL’s economic bread and butter. Never in the field of human commerce, perhaps, would so many have faced losing so much due to one small beetle. more..

Chandi back in the ODI squad

Dec 25 (ST) SL’s new cricket coach Chandika Hathurusingha wants to spend some quality time with the players ahead of team’s tour to Bangladesh early next month and has asked a selected group of cricketers to attend a special training program. Sri Lanka set to play a tri-series involving hosts Bangladesh and Zimbabwe starting on January 15. The tri-series will be followed by a two Tests and two T20 matches against Bangladesh. Series will be Hathurusingha’s maiden tour more..

T20I: India complete 3-0 sweep

Dec 25 (CI) For the first time in the series, Sri Lanka were genuinely in the contest. The bounce at the Wankhede Stadium gave their seamers some zip that they couldn't quite manage to generate in Cuttack and Indore. In defence of 136, they dismissed the rampaging pair of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, who walloped joint-fastest T20 hundred two nights ago, inside seven overs. India's asking rate climbed to close to 8.5 per over more..

The Herald Angels sing: But is anyone really listening?

Dec 25 (CT) The nativity scene, Baby Jesus in the manger, Joseph and his mother Mary, shepherds and kings kneeling before the new born are etched in the minds of both Christians and non-Christians as emblematic of Christmas. Tonight, many Christian homes will have this tableau as a principal part of the Christmas decorations that will adorn their homes. Of course there will be a Christmas Tree and fancy gifts under that tree for friends and family to exchange. more..

Arjuna faults Dayasiri for not cleaning up cricket administration

Dec 25 (Island) Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has faulted Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera for not cleaning up Sri Lanka Cricket administration. Former World Cup winning Captain Ranatunga asserted that new coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, too, would fail unless Jayasekera effected the required changes. Ranatunga said so at a sports event at Weeraketiya Maha Vidyalaya, Tangalle recently. Alleging that his Cabinet colleague Jayasekera hadn’t been able to pave the way for an efficient administration, more..