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Crippling train strike from Monday

Dec 28 (SAMN) Millions of commuters will be stranded at railway stations Monday as Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters’ Union (SLRSMU) goes on strike, crippling the train services from midnight today. The SLRSMU claimed that over 1,000 station masters around the island will take part in the strike action. “All the unions have offered their support for our cause, and 99% of the station masters will join in the strike. more..

New Bird Sanctuary in Mannar

Dec 28 (SAMN) A new sanctuary for water birds in Sri Lanka has been declared in the war zone of Mannar. Known as the Vankalai Triangle, prior to the proposal of making it a sanctuary, it is now known as the Vankalai Sanctuary. The Vankalai Triangle comprises the Vankalai, Puliyanthivu Island and Tiruketiswaram, located in Mannar. This large triangle of land is entirely uninhabited except for the Talladi camp. more..

Thamilselvan’s brother in police custody

Dec 28 (SAMN) A special police team arrested the brother of former head of the LTTE’s political wing, S P Thamilselvan, outside the Fort railway station last week. The suspect, identified as Gobi, is a resident of Vavuniya and interrogations revealed that he had trained with the LTTE’s intelligence wing and was operating under Vavuniya LTTE intelligence leader Perimban. Gobi’s elder brother had served as the driver of Thamilselvan. more..

Paradise Estate, a paradise for illicit gem mining

Dec 28 (SO) Paradise Estate at Kuruwita is in the spotlight these days with a number of gem miners being arrested for illicitly mining the land without permits. Protests launched by villagers in Kuruwita area against illicit gem mining have exposed a big racket, police sources told the “Sunday Observer”. The Central Anti Vice Striking Force (CAVSF) last week arrested twenty five persons for mechanised mining at the Paradise Estate by using Backhoe loaders without permits. more..

‘Future Minds of Jaffna’

Dec 28 (SO) Opening the Industrial and Educational Exhibition `Future Minds of Jaffna’, Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda stressed the fact that development is a vital factor to Jaffna peninsula specially for the younger generation. Hence, he said, this event gives a greater chance for the youth to seek solutions for their social problems such as unemployment. ‘Future Minds of Jaffna’, the mega exhibition and carnival commenced yesterday at Vembadi Girls’ High School and more..

Train-car collision: Family of five dead

Dec 28 (SO) A deadly train-car collision which occurred yesterday at Kurana-Katunayake rail crossing around 10.15 a.m. resulted in the death of five family members including his wife, his two children and their grandmother. The husband who sustained serious injuries and admitted to the Colombo National Hospital, succumbed to his injuries at the Colombo National Hospital, Police Media Spokesman SSP Ranjit Gunesekera told the Sunday Observer. more..

NLDB targets 50% milk requirement by 2015

Dec 28 (SO) National Livestock Development Board (NLDB) will produce a high quality affordable cattle feed by mid next year. The Chairman, NLDB Chandrawansa Pathiraja said that experiments are being done and NLDB is confident of introducing the feed by mid next year which will help around 200,000 milk farmers in the country. Speaking of the NLDB performance, Dr. Pathiraja said that since 2007 the board has been making profits. more..

Trinco power plant clears final hurdle

Dec 28 (NS) The Cabinet on Wednesday took several crucial decisions pertaining to the clinching of the joint venture between Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India, to build the country’s second coal power plant at Trincomalee, a top government official said. All remaining hurdles had been cleared with these decisions, and the deal would be signed by the two parties next month, so that the project could get underway. more..

CWC will tilt election in favour of govt in Central Province – Yogarajan

Dec 28 (NS) No matter how strong the challenge posed by the opposition parties, the balance will tilt in favour of the government at the forthcoming Central Provincial Council election, with the Ceylon Workers’ Congress backing, CWC National Organiser R. Yogarajan said. He told The Nation yesterday that the CWC, with its solid vote base, will be the deciding factor in the Central Province election. more..

Anandasangari sees sea change among Tamils, Jaffna

Dec 28 (NS) Tamil People in the North now realise that the security forces are very friendly and helpful, while it was the LTTE. that had caused all the trouble to them, says Tamil United Liberation Front Leader V. Anandasangari. Anandasangari who spent four days (19-23 December) in Jaffna. He told The Nation, that for the first time in twenty years, he was able to address a sizeable group of Tamil citizens at a meeting. more..

Be less generous to SLMC at PC polls says UNP Muslims

Dec 28 (Island) The SLMC and an influential Muslim group in the UNP are at logger heads over nominations for forthcoming elections to Wayamba and Central Provincial Councils. Well informed political sources said that they had clashed over the number of Muslim candidates each party should field in the two Provinces. The SLMC has insisted that its decision to contest the polls on the UNP ticket would be entirely depend on the number of slots it received. more..

'We want to stop the country from being driven towards separatism'

Dec 28 (NS) Former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) strongman, Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa was once instrumental in forming the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and bringing it into power. The vociferous ex-JVPer is yet again getting ready to sign another Memorandum of Understanding with the UPFA, but this time heading the newly-formed National Freedom Front (NFF). more..

Sights and sounds along the railroad

Dec 28 (Island) I was ten years old then, and living with my parents in our ancestral village of Galwadugoda, Galle. Our house was situated besides the railway track - the Coast Line that ran from Colombo to Galle and Matara. As many a child of that age would do, I spent long hours of my leisure near the wall of our front compound, watching trains pass by. Some of the trains - the smaller rail cars bringing children to the nearby schools- would stop at the rail car halt very near our house. more..

Prabhakaran still in Kilinochchi?

Dec 28 (Island) LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is still in hiding somewhere in Kilinochichi district and has not escaped to South India as speculated, Tamil political sources said yesterday. Amidst heightened military operations, Prabhakaran would not be able to move about freely, as he used to do, the sources said. "Prabhakaran believes he can achieve his goal of Eelam and therefore would continue fighting till the end. As his sister said recently, he would not abandon a mission once begun." more..

Eelam War IV: Which way the last phase next year?

Dec 28 (ST) In just three more days, the dawn of 2009, will usher Sri Lanka into a new era though what it portends exactly remains unclear. Throughout the old year, 2008, the ongoing separatist war has remained the major issue to preoccupy the Government and Sri Lankans alike. The country received the most number of references in the media worldwide on this one single issue. more..

Govt. defies SC, what next?

Dec 28 (ST) A head-on confrontation between the Government and the Supreme Court over lowering petrol prices became inevitable this week after Ministers agreed there will be no revision. Certainly not for the moment. After a special Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Government said, "all Ministers unanimously agreed to study the directive in depth and present their observations" at the next meeting. more..

Fertiliser prices slashed to help prop tea industry

Dec 28 (ST) In response to growing demands from tea small-holders, the government has announced that it will reduce the price of tea fertiliser from next month as one of several relief measures to help the declining tea industry. From next month, a 50-kilogram bag of fertiliser will be priced at Rs. 1,000, said Plantation Industries Minister D. M. Jayaratna. A 50-kg bag of fertiliser now costs between Rs. 5,200 and Rs. 5,600, in 2005, a bag cost Rs. 760. more..

Wars and woes of 2008

Dec 28 (ST) As another year winds down, it is perhaps timely to look back and also ponder what lies ahead for us. Clearly, the 'war' in the North-East theatre has been the single-most crucial issue before the country. It is costing lives, money and the destruction of the habitat - but there is overwhelming consensus that it has to be endured, and finished. It has gone on for far too long -- its terrible legacy a whole generation that more..

Jayawardene puts Sri Lanka in dominant position

Dec 28 (CI) A fine hundred by Mahala Jayawardene and half-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera effectively shut Bangladesh out of the first Test as Sri Lanka extended their lead to an imposing 406 with six wickets in hand at the end of the third day. Much like yesterday, Bangladesh struggled to maintain their intensity after claiming the opening session with an impressive display of swing and seam bowling. more..

India unhappy with Sri Lanka's cricket tour to Pakistan

Dec 28 (IANS) India is not happy with Sri Lanka's cricket tour to Pakistan, media reports said here Sunday. The tour was hastily arranged by Pakistan after India refused to go ahead with the scheduled visit following last month's terror attacks in Mumbai. The then interim committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) headed by Arjuna Ranatunga, which was later dismissed by the government, accepted the invitation to fill in for India. more..

'We can deal with any crisis of confidence'

Dec 28 (Island) Central Bank Governor Ajit Nivard Cabraal yesterday assured that the authorities will take all possible steps to avert any crisis of confidence in the financial services sector following the Golden Key Credit Card Company’s problems which led to Mr. Lalith Kotelawala announcing that he would "divest the investment" in the Seylan Bank. The Central Bank statement stressed that the Monetary Law Act No.58 of 1949 provides more..

All's not clear with Kotelawala on Golden Key

Dec 28 (LD) Seylan Bank has clarified on the sale of Ceylinco Group shares in the bank as the Group wanting to raise funds to pay off Golden Key depositors and that the bank is not being sold as speculated earlier in the media. Ceylinco Group is said to hold major shares in Seylan Bank and Deshabandu Dr. Lalith Kotelawala had not indicated what amount of shares would be sold to raise funds to pay off an estimated 10,000 depositors and what exactly the actual amount required is. more..

'Centre to soon send Pranab to Sri Lanka'

Dec 28 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Congress President K V Thankgabalu on Sunday said the Centre would 'soon' send External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka to try and bring about an immediate ceasefire in the island nation. "The Centre will send Pranab Mukherjee 'very soon' to Sri Lanka to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to implement a ceasefire in the island nation and to bring about a solution to the Sri Lanka Tamil crises," he told reporters on the sidelines of party's 124th Foundation Day here. more..

Sri Lanka Association of New England celebrates 10 years

Dec 29 (WE) The Sri Lanka Association of New England (SLANE) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a holiday party for the community. The mission of the association which was founded in 1998 is to foster friendship, goodwill, peace and unity among all Sri Lankans living in Massachusetts and neighboring states. SLANE strives to sustain cultural traditions and activities among Sri Lankans in New England and more..

Mahinda’s fallen angel—Satan

Dec 29 (LG) It was by no means a serendipitous year. Calamitous is the more appropriate adjective. When the end of the year 2007 approached, the Rajapakse government’s prediction was that the 25-year-old bloody conflict would end. But that was not to be as the goal posts shifted in 2008, and Sri Lankans involved in the conflict kept dying in unspecified numbers. But now once again we are told, the end is near. more..

"Good governance" is key for moving toward solutions

Dec 29 (FI) Why did this happen? what are the causes? How to bring peace and serenity to the country? We should move towards solutions rather than continue to express or analyze the problem. The main cause for all the ills of any country and every country is the present democratic system of governance which allows "corruption" of all forms to thrive unchecked. In my opinion "Corruption" includes any kind of waste, more..

Whither leadership qualities among Sri Lanka politicians

Dec 29 (FI) Leadership is one of the most salient aspects of the organizational context whether it is politics or business. Leadership is difficult to define but it can be described as facing the challenges by demonstrating various qualities accepted by civilized societies. The Bhagavad Gita while providing means and ways of leading people, emphasizes that leadership qualities focuses on motivation, meaningful decisions and framing plans thereto, more..

Hospital 'functioning' after shelling

Dec 29 (BBC) The government hospital that was damaged in shell attacks on Christmas day evening is functioning once again, authorities said. Dr T Sathiyamoorthy, Regional Director of Health Services, Kilinochchi, told the BBC that the consultation room s in outpatients’ department was badly damaged in the attack. “The shell fell by the side of main building complex. The big explosive sound was dreadful and many window glasses were broken,” he said. more..

LTTE agent held

Dec 29 (Hindu) The ‘Q’ Branch police on Saturday arrested a Sri Lankan national who allegedly acted as an agent of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Chennai. Police said that the accused Ameer Anthony Paranthaman of Jaffna had planned to transfer communication devices and chemicals to Sri Lanka via Rameshwaram. He and his wife had settled in Chennai and were running a travel agency. more..

'No transport' for injured soldiers

Dec 29 (BBC) The UNP has accused the government of not providing proper transport facilities to injured soldiers in the Vanni battlefield. Leader of the opposition and the UNP, Ranil Wickramasinghe, told journalists in Colombo that Sri Lanka Air Force does not have enough airplanes to transfer injured soldiers. The SLAF was not given enough funds to repair seven Antonov aircrafts it had and as a result the SLAF currently has only two aircrafts, he said. more..

War in Lanka brings more tourists to the state

Dec 29 (TOI) The ongoing war in Sri Lanka may actually be beneficial on one count bringing more foreign tourists to Tamil Nadu. According to industry sources, foreign tourists preferred peaceful destinations to the island nation. Foreigners generally avoid destinations wracked by strife or political turbulence and Tamil Nadu, considered a relatively safe destination in the country, is an obvious choice, says Tourism Commissioner M Rajaram. more..

DMK condemns threat to TN Congress office

Dec 29 (TOI) Amidst tension between the state Congress and pro-LTTE outfits, the ruling DMK on Sunday condemned remarks by a prominent Tamil Tiger sympathiser allegedly threatening the destruction of the TNCC headquarters. "Utterances threatening to capture or destroy the offices of parties recognised by the Election Commission are completely unacceptable in a democracy," DMK principal secretary and more..

Delusions of Impunity

Dec 29 (AT) Is President Rajapakse planning a showdown with the judiciary a la Pervez Musharraf? A clash with the judiciary, at this time, and over the issue of fuel prices seems too irrational and excessive an enterprise even for the Rajapakses. Yet the administration has not only refused to abide by the Supreme Court verdict; it has also forced the IOC to follow suit and sell patrol at old and higher prices. more..

'They were only protesting to the Video cameras'

Dec 29 (AT) "I use to make annual pilgrimage with my family to 'Lourdes of the East' Annai Velankanni Church. Similarly I made the pilgrimage to Velankanni temple on this 27th December, with my family – my wife and three children, said Deputy Minister of Fisheries Neomal Perera. He said that after the prayers in the temple he used to go and meet Sri Lankan fishermen who are held in custody in prisons in Tamil Nadu for the offence of unintentionally straying into Indian waters. more..

Wattala suicide bomber had "Kola Kenda" at "Irida Pola"

Dec 29 (TC) The suicide bomber who caused havoc at Wattala by exploding a bomb strapped to his body was seen devouring a dish of “Kola Kenda” (leafy porridge) at the “Irida Pola” (Sunday fair) minutes before the attack occurred. After having kola kenda at the Sunday fair near St.Anne’s church the killer had tried to enter the Civil Defence Force camp in the adjoining premises. When prevented from doing so he had detonated the explosive device attached to his body. more..

The UPFA tie-up and the truth behind Wimal Weerawansa's trip to Italy

Dec 29 (TC) JVP defector and leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF), Wimal Weerawansa is known to be a manufacturer of news from time to time. However, the level of appeal of the news generated by Weerawansa is an issue that needs to be considered as well. The various exposes done by the media on Weerawansa as a public figure has opened the people’s eyes on his true nature. People are now aware of the truth behind all the patriotic statements made by Weerawansa. more..

President and Minister Fowzie in heated argument over Chief Justice issue

Dec 29 (TC) Interesting details have come to light about a heated argument during the cabinet meeting between President Mahinda Rajapakse and Petroleum minister AHM Fowzie with consumer affairs minister Bandula Gunewardena also intervening. Despite Fowzie's entreasties that the Government should abide by Chief Justice' Sarath Silva's ruling that the price of petrol be reduced by 22 rupees per litre a defiant President firmly ruled out any flexibility on the issue. more..

A new year resolution...

Dec 29 (ML) Every noble achievement ever made in the journey of mankind has always been a destination of a noble dream.We Sri Lankans have been struggling to portray a cultural and national destiny to our small Nation ever since we became a colony of the West in 1505. Every battle we fought for independence was a stroke of the brush with which we have been trying to paint our destiny on the canvas of time. Of course there were grand victories. more..

Palestine signs agreement with Sri Lanka to train teachers

Dec 29 (AT) Ramallah, the Minister of Education and Higher Education, A. Lamis Alami at the headquarters of the ministry with the Representative of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka in Ramallah Dr. T. Jayasinghe signed an agreement (MOU) to train and develop the skills of teachers in first grade and kindergarten on the issues of early childhood, a way that would help smooth the transition for a child from kindergarten to first grade. more..

31 SLA KIA in Chilawatte

Dec 29 (DW) 31 soldiers were killed in fierce fighting at Chilawatte (Silawatte) in the general areas Mulaitivu on Saturday. 22 of those killed went MIA while the bodies of another 9 were recovered by 59 division troops. So far Tigers have recovered 17 bodies while another few are lying inside a minefield. Casualties to the Tigers is unknown. more..

BOI vehicles for government’s election campaign

Dec 29 (LT) There are reports that the government is using BOI vehicles for the campaign of North Western and Central PC elections. These reports state that these vehicles have been used for the campaign by Minister Sarath Amunugama. It has been established that a large number of vehicles belonging to BOI were used in the campaign for Sabaragamuwa and North Central PC elections. more..

JVP condemns killing of 200 Palestinians by Zionist regime in Israel

Dec 29 (LT) The JVP has vehemently condemned Killing 200 Palestinians living in Gaza on the 27th December 2008 by the Zionist regime in Israel. The JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe In a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nation's Organization has asked that immediate and meaningful action taken to stop further killing of Palestinians by Zionists. more..

'Candidates can submit nominations for PC polls till Wednesday'

Dec 29 (GDI) Accepting of nominations to the central and north-western provincial council elections is being done at District Secretariats of the two respective provinces. Candidates could hand in their nominations during office hours of weekdays till Wednesday noon (31). Time period granted for independent groups to make their deposits will end in Tuesday (30). The Elections Commissioner will announce the date for the polls after the conclusion of accepting nominations. more..

What the Boston Globe does not say

Dec 29 (PISL) A recent article in the Boston Globe is yet another example of the brilliant disinformation campaign conducted by the Tamil Tigers to save their military leadership from destruction. The article lacks precision and intellectual discrimination, but is loftily sanctimonious in tone to make up for this. It is presented here with a rewritten version of each paragraph to suggest what a more honest exposition would have included. more..

Life in Sri Lanka could be - so simple!

Dec 29 (PSM) Life in Sri Lanka could be simple. Very simple indeed, if we ‘Sri Lankans’ just outgrew the need to display superiority of our respective origins. We also need to be able to avoid the compulsion to claim the ownership of our fair land. What the likes of Champika Ranawaka forget when putting forth the argument that the Sinhalese are the only original race in Sri Lanka, is that the aboriginal Veddah communities can claim prior ownership of this land as more..

Tension in Pugoda (Gampaha) - Communal Disharmony

Dec 29 (MG) It is said, last week some persons from the majority community went to the Ashiri Hotel in Pugoda owned by a Christian of the same community and run by a Muslim on rent with bottles of alcohol to drink there. The Muslim hotelier asked them not to do so inside the hotel and they went away breaking some of the things in the hotel. The Muslim hotelier made a complaint at the Police station. more..

Mihin Air back from 1st January

Dec 29 (LP) Mihin Lanka will recommence operations from 1st January 2009. The first flight will be to Dubai from Colombo at 6 p.m. The new Boeing 787 aircraft with the capacity of 187 passengers arrived in Colombo on Saturday (27th) night from France. The Mihin logo and the branding were also done in France. The new aircraft was used in France for less than six months. The agreement is to fly 350 hours a week and there would be a mixed crew on board. more..

Police offers Rs one million to informant on suspect

Dec 29 (LP) Police seek the cooperation of the public to identify the male suicide bomber who exploded himself at around 9 AM in front of the Civil Defence Force office on the church road in Hekitta, Wattla yesterday (28) The photograph of the suspect has been released and police request the public to contact following numbers regarding any information on the suspect. more..

Talking tough and soft at the same time

Dec 29 (LG) Between them, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and LTTE Political Wing leader B Nadesan seem to be talking tough and soft at the same time. Despite the tough posturing, their recent statements have internal elements, hidden or natural, for them to take the poitical course all over again -- as long as the other side acknowledged the ground realities. more..

The plight of the elderly in Sri Lanka

Dec 29 (LG) Very often, children forget what their parents have done for them over the years. Parents give their children a good education to face the world and have them happily married. Even after marriage, they look after the grandchildren, feed them, educate them and see them grow into adulthood. If they are lucky, they might even see their grandchildren married. There is no end to the duties of parents in caring and protecting children and grandchildren. more..