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Ranatunga eyes changes and another World Cup

Jan 29 (Reuters) Wearing a neat suit and with his grey hair smartly combed back, Arjuna Ranatunga looks the part at a media promotion by Sri Lankan officials to draw Indian religious tourists to the island. The firebrand ex-cricket captain, who led Sri Lanka to an upset World Cup win in 1996, takes the microphone to help publicize sites in his small nation steeped in Hindu mythology. He is happy to switch to his favorite topic, however, as he reveals his plans for Sri Lankan cricket. more..

Sri Lanka court orders burial for mass grave victims

Jan 29 (AFP) A Sri Lankan judge Monday ordered the state to carry out dignified burials for 16 people who had been killed execution-style and dumped in shallow graves within a government-controlled part of the island. A magistrate in the area where the bodies were found asked the top district administrator and the police to carry out the burials at the main cemetery in Anuradhapura, 206 kilometres (128 miles) north of here. more..

Sri Lanka southern airport attracts Indian interest

Jan 29 (LBO) India's Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) says it is interested in building an airport in Southern Sri Lanka and a delegation is visiting the island this week for talks. Sri Lanka has proposed a second international airport in the Southern town of Weerawila in the Hambantota district. CIAL said its delegation which was visiting the island on the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapakse would be in Sri Lanka until February 02. more..

More Sri Lankans sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia; no legal representation

Jan 29 (LBO) Two more Sri Lankan have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, media reports said, while Amnesty International said they were convicted without legal representation on 'confessions' obtained under duress. Haleema Cadre from Kalmunai, a mother with an 8-year old son, her husband who is an Indian national and K M S Bandranaike from Kurunegala, has been sentenced to death, Arabnews reported. more..

Vaiko owes his life to Rajiv Gandhi: Congress

Jan 29 (CO) If Marumalarchi DMK General Secretary Vaiko is alive today, it is because of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress Legislator Peter Alphonse said in the Tamil Nadu Assembly today. Intervening in the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address, he said that on coming to know that Mr Vaiko had made a clandestine visit to Vavuniya, Mr Gandhi had spent a full sleepless night to ensure the safe return of the MDMK leader. more..

The govt should curb state excesses too

Jan 29 (KT) ALL'S fair in love and war. Whoever said this would not have meant that civilians are a legitimate prey of hawks. Last week, the discovery of two mass graves in Kebethigollawa in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, close to the northern war zone, indicates that this maxim is part of war strategy. Who are they? Why were they killed? Who killed them? No body has the answers. The 16 bodies discovered from the two mass graves lie in a morgue in Anuradhapura's main hospital. more..

Indian Matters Of Sri Lanka

Jan 29 (LG) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s inability to participate in Sri Lanka’s 60th Independence Day celebrations on February 4 owing to prior commitments was a big disappointment for the Sri Lankan government. While on one hand Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama lamented India’s lack of support towards his government’s recent offensive against the LTTE, on the other, he praised India’s consistent policy towards Tamils and its silence at the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement. more..

All flights to Palaly canceled

Jan 29 (SLW) LTTE fired their long range artillery guns targeting several military positions in Jaffna peninsula today. According to SLA sources, artillery fire originated from LTTE controlled territory in Pooneryn. Although there are no casualties reported yet, all flights to Palaly air force base have been temporarily suspended. The LTTE artillery attack is believed to have targeted a delegation of top military officials who were to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly formed Mechanized Infantry Division (MID). more..

Minister's Media Secretary threatened by JVP for passing Handunneththi's information to media

Jan 29 (LeN) Welikada Police filed a case in Colombo No: 04 Magistrate Court against JVP Colombo district Organizer and several others for threatening to kill former JVP activist and the current Media Secretary of Minister of Textiles Sampath Dimuthu Ketipearachchi, a close associate of JVP MP Sunil Handunneththi. more..

Stop Israel’s Nazi practices against Palestinians! – Somawansa tells Arbour

Jan 29 (LT) The JVP urges Louise Arbour, UNO High Commissioner for Human Rights, to stop Israel's Nazi practices immediately and bring to justice those who give orders and those who carry out those orders for inhuman collective punishment against the Palestinian people. In a letter to Louise Arbour JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, reminding Ms. Arbour that she had issued a statement threatening the Armed Forces Chiefs in Sri Lanka that more..

Health Department lorry arrested while transporting high explosives

Jan 29 (LT) Security forces manning a road block at Vavuniya yesterday nabbed a lorry attached to Kilinochchi Hospital along with two Health employees while attempting to smuggle C-4 high explosives, sources said. According to latest reports, more explosives and three electrical detonators were found laden inside a wooden wedge this morning (29). During the investigations Police also uncovered a "Jack" with more C-4 explosives, the sources said. more..

Sri Lanka exporters face prospect of higher freight costs

Jan 29 (LBO) A grouping of shipping lines calling at Colombo port have given notice of a sharp increase in freight rates to Europe, citing rising fuel prices and port delays in the region. But exporters have raised doubts whether the 19 container shipping firms, known as the India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ceylon (IPBCC) Conference, operating between the Indian subcontinent and Europe, could sustain the higher rates. more..

Sri Lanka Brandix in organic apparels

Jan 29 (LBO) Sri Lanka's top apparel maker Brandix has penetrated the 'organic' garment market with a number of top international labels placing orders, the company said. Brandix has already supplied more than 10,000 ladies 'semi-cargo' pants for the spring and summer collection of the retailer NEXT. The Group has also received orders for 37,000 pieces of organic apparel from Marks & Spencer (M&S) the top notch UK retailer, and from Woolworth in South Africa. more..

Probe allowed into death threats for exposing JVP

Jan 29 (LD) The Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court has permitted the police to investigate death threats allegedly received by Dimuthu Ketapearachchi, Media Secretary to the Minister of Textile Industries. Additional Magistrate Ajith Anawaratne also ordered the relevant telephone companies to furnish necessary information to the Welikada Police today (Jan. 29th). Police informed the court that statements were yet to be obtained regarding the complaint. more..

Rs.2 billion fly-over for Kelaniya

Jan 29 (GDI) Rs. 2 billion worth fly-over will be built across the railway line near Vidyalankara Pirivena in Kelaniya in a joint effort between the Ministry of Highways and Road Development and the Road Development Authority (RDA). The fly-over will be 600m long and 14m wide. Once completed it is expected to ensure smooth transport on the Colombo-Kandy highway at all times and would eliminate traffic delays due to the closure of the rail-gate. more..

15th SAARC Summit in Kandy

Jan 29 (GDI) The 15th SAARC Summit will be held in Kandy from July 27 to August 3 this year and President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed officials to ensure that the Kandy city development project is completed in time for the event. Chairing a meeting to discuss the organisation of the 15th SAARC Summit at the President's House in Kandy yesterday, President Rajapaksa instructed his officials to do away with time consuming meetings and conferences pertaining to the project and instead get on with the job to ensure its completion on schedule. more..

WFP biscuit story: Trico Chairman clarifies

Jan 29 (GDI) D. Ariyawansa Kannangara, Chairman, Trico Terminals (Pvt.) Ltd., has clarified the position with respect to the news item titled ‘WFP food packs meant for LTTE?’, appearing on our website as well as other media yesterday. According to Mr. Kannangara, Trico was merely carrying out the responsibilities of a transport contractor and to the best of its knowledge all necessary clearance had been obtained. “UNICEF asked us to provide a lorry and we did so,” he said, more..

Sri Lankan IT grads to be employed in India

Jan 29 (GDI) Steps have been taken to enable Sri Lankan IT graduates to secure employment in India. To this end MAS Holdings is launching MAS Institute of Management and Technology (MIMT), located at the MAS Fabric Park, Thulhiriya. MIMT, which will be officially opened on January 31, will be a public training institute with exceptional facilities and infrastructure, including a fully equipped auditorium seating 300 people, 17 training rooms including more..

Massive development plan for North and East

Jan 29 (GDI) The Government announced yesterday (28) that the Eastern Reawakening programme will consist of a comprehensive plan to restore livelihoods through new agriculture and irrigation projects aimed at a sustainable social and economic integration of the community in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The programme is made of four key components: village development and rehabilitation, essential rehabilitation and improvement to select major irrigation schemes, cluster level livelihood support activities, and more..

Italy to help overhaul disaster management system

Jan 29 (GDI) Sri Lanka's Disaster Management process is set for an overhaul with Italians lending their hand in capacity building efforts to upgrade disaster management systems according to international standards. The Italian President has directed its Civil Protection Department to assist in the development the emergency response capacity of the Disaster Management Centre following the recent visit to Italy by the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe. more..

Two police teams deployed to investigate stabbing of journalist

Jan 29 (GDI) The Maligawatte Police has deployed two special teams to inquire into the stabbing of Thinakaran Associate Editor, Suhaib Cassim. Cassim was stabbed by a group of five persons who had come to his house and dragged him out, according to his wife. The OIC, Maligawatte Police said that it is speculated that either a family dispute or a controversy regarding some official matter may have been the motive for the attack. more..

Gotabhaya, Fonseka forced to return as LTTE target Palaly

Jan 29 (LNP) An aircraft flying Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to Jaffna came under intense LTTE artillery attack when it was about to land at the Palaly Air base around 9.30 a.m. yesterday and had to return to Colombo, highly placed Defence sources said. The duo was due in Jaffna yesterday to officiate at the Commissioning of a Mechanised Infantry Brigade, when their chopper came under attack. more..

Prisoners guard their jails

Jan 29 (LNP) A severe dearth of jail guards has led to the Prisons authorities assigning prisoners to guard the main entrances of some prisons. Minister of Justice Dilan Perera told The Island yesterday (28) that he had learnt about this sad state of affairs very recently and believed that some officials were delaying the recruitment process though financial provision had been made available. more..

Why southern consensus eludes us

Jan 29 (LNP) The JVP is on the warpath over the government`s move to evolve a solution based on the so-called Indian model and set up an Interim Council for the Northern Province. Vowing to mobilise the people against the government`s devolution plans and not to look back until they are shot down, it has questioned the legitimacy of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), which lacks the representation of the UNP and the JVP. more..

Docs overseas: Govt to demand refund

Jan 29 (SAMN) The host countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America, which train Sri Lankan doctors in post –graduate studies and absorb them into their government service, without sending them back to Sri Lanka on completion of the training, will have to pay the expenses borne by the Sri Lankan government for the 5–year training, Healthcare Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. more..

Navy to sell its toy–Hovercraft 530

Jan 29 (SAMN) The Sri Lanka Navy has called tenders to sell its 250 million rupees worth Hovercraft - Landing Craft which was never used for its intended purpose other than ceremonial displays. The Sri Lanka Navy advertised the details of the sale in the weekend papers under the heading Navy hover craft for sale for passenger ferry purpose. This is the second time that the Navy tried to dispose its most expensive unutilized machine from its possession. more..

Japanese aid for John de Silva theatre

Jan 29 (SAMN) The government of Japan has decided to provide US$ 30,906 (approximately Rs. 3.3 million) towards the "Project for the Follow-up of the Supply of Lighting Equipment for the John de Silva Memorial Theatre" under its Grant Aid for Cultural Grassroots Project scheme, for the procurement and installation of new stage lighting equipment the Japanese Embassy announced Monday. more..

No more liquor licences: President

Jan 29 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday said the government would not issue licences for new liquor shops under the Mathata Thitha programme. Speaking at a special meeting to educate the political leadership and Police officers in the Central and North Central provinces at the President's House in Kandy, President Rajapaksa said anybody against the law should be dealt with irrespective of status. more..

Refrain from misleading tourists :PM

Jan 29 (DN) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka cautioned the media to refrain from misusing media freedom and democracy to misreport events in the country in a way that misleads tourists. Premier Wickramanayaka was addressing the inaugural ceremony of Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism, at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. He pointed out that tourism has become a crucial and a valuable foreign exchange earner for the economic well-being of the country and more..

Rice price up due to more consumption

Jan 29 (DN) Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday categorically denying certain media reports said the slight decline in wheat flour consumption and the release of rice stocks for animal feed have directly led to an increase in the prices of rice in the local market. According to figures, the total wheat flour consumption which was 882,784 Metric tons in 2006 has been reduced to 450,000 Metic tons in 2007. more..

Govt to issue title deeds to 117,000

Jan 29 (Island) The Government has set a target of 117,000 ‘Bim –Saviya’ land ownership title certificates for 2008. A survey has revealed that only 40 per cent of people who owned lands in the country had clear title and the decline of prices in the land market was due to fears among prospective buyers of the increasing number of forgeries of land titles, Secretary to the Ministry of Lands and Land Development Jayalath R. Dissanayake said yesterday. more..

Ranil shouts about defeating Govt, but wont face EP polls - Sirisena

Jan 29 (Island) “UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and his supporters went to markets, fairs and signed petitions demanding elections. Now there is an election in the Eastern Province but he did not nominate UNP candidates willing to contest. The result will be another defeat for them. They boasted that they were the only party that had the power from the Point Pedro to Dondra but were not coming forward to contest the elections in Batticaloa,” more..

Alavi and CM to meet President

Jan 29 (DM) Western Province Governor Alavi Mowlana and Chief Minster Reginald Cooray are to meet President Rajapaksa to decide the fate of the crisis ridden Colombo Municipal Council, on Wednesday, amidst differences among key members of the government on the issue. Mr. Mowlana, who holds the view that some action should be taken to put the council on the right track, told the Daily Mirror that they would meet the President on Wednesday to decide on the issue. more..

Sri Lankan Muslim issues raised in UK Parliament

Jan 29 (DM) On the initiation of the SLMC UK General Secretary Faizal Sulaimalebbe, a discussion was arranged between the visiting SLMC Secretary General M T Hasen Ali MP and UK Parliamentarian Andrew Love MP on January 11, 2008 at his office in Edmonton, North London. At the discussion Secretary General M T Hasen Ali explained the grievances of Muslims in Sri Lanka in general and the recent unpleasant violence unleashed against them by paramilitary forces in the Eastern Province in particular. more..

Government urges public to curb energy wastage

Jan 29 (GDI) It is imperative that the public take the initiative to conserve energy to prevent power cuts in the future, warned the Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA), Ananda Gunasekera. Gunasekera said that the current wastage in the country stands at Rs 35 million per day which could be easily saved by using energy efficiently. He elaborated that wastage from the industrial and commercial sectors amouts to approximately Rs. 20 million while domestic wastage stands at Rs. 15m. more..

Iran Asked to Defend Sri Lanka's GSP Plus Status

Jan 29 (FNA) Sri Lanka's Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Sarath Amunugama appealed to Iran to help defend the country's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus status when it comes under review by the European Union later this year. At a meeting with the Iranian Minister of Commerce Dr. Massoud Mir Kazemi and his delegates last week, Amunugama said that Iran should defend her friend by lobbying for the EU to retain Sri Lanka's GSP plus status, more..

Tamil statehood?

Jan 29 (WP) Applying the "self-evident" truths celebrated in the Declaration of Independence, the United States should recognize the right of Sri Lanka's long oppressed Tamil people to independent statehood from the racial supremacist Sinhalese. To deny the statehood right — sought by the Tamil people since 1976 — would mark one of the United States' most ill-conceived hours. Double standards beget enmity or contempt, a steep price even for a superpower. more..

Sri Lanka says soldiers seize small area of rebel-held territory, kill 22 Tamil rebels

Jan 29 (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers captured a small area of rebel-held territory after pushing across the front lines in the country's embattled north on Tuesday, triggering battles that left 22 insurgents dead, said the military. Backed by artillery and mortars, army troops destroyed 10 rebel bunkers and seized about 1 square kilometer (0.39 sq. miles) of territory in the village of Viyattankulam in Mannar district early Tuesday, more..

Sri Lanka says captures rebel positions, kills dozens

Jan 29 (Reuters) Sri Lankan troops have captured 16 Tamil Tiger bunkers in the northwest and killed at least 22 rebels in fighting on Tuesday, the military said, a day after clashes killed at least 28 Tigers and two soldiers. The military says it has killed scores of rebels since a six-year ceasefire between the government and LTTE was scrapped on Jan. 16. "The troops captured 16 LTTE terrorist bunkers in Viyattankulam and Pallikullam in Mannar. The ground troops confirmed at least 22 terrorists were killed," more..

Ranatunga calls for sledging ban

Jan 30 (DT) FORMER Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga wants sledging banned from cricket following the problems it has caused in Australia. His comments come as Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh appeals a three-Test ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds when he allegedly called him a "big monkey". "Australia have had these issues with some of the touring sides," more..

Indian tourists keep Lankan tourist industry afloat

Jan 30 (IANS) Tourist arrivals from India and Britain are keeping Sri Lanka's tourist industry afloat amid war and hostile travel advisories from several Western countries. Giant neighbour India as well as Britain, from which Sri Lanka got freedom in February 1948, accounted for over 40 percent of the 494,008 tourist arrivals in the scenic island nation in 2007. India accounted for 21.4 percent of the arrivals and Britain 19 percent. more..

Sri Lanka may have quit one-day series too

Jan 30 (SMH) AUSTRALIA were in danger of losing not one but two opponents play in this summer's tri-series, with leading Sri Lankan officials yesterday refusing to commit to the tour pending the result of the Harbhajan Singh racism hearing. Before the charge against the Indian spinner was downgraded yesterday evening, Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Arjuna Ranatunga told the Herald his board would "wait to see what happens" before making a decision on whether to fulfil its touring commitments in Australia. more..

Clearance assists 30,000 IDPs

Jan 30 (MAG) The areas cleared since MAG restarted operations in Sri Lanka in September 2007 will allow more then 30,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their communities. MAG remained committed to the continuation of operations last year, despite an escalation in fighting between government troops and the LTTE. The renewed hostilities led to a more complex and volatile situation in country that did little to augment the already fragile peace process agreement in place. more..

Sri Lanka needs more agricultural investment to boost productivity, cut poverty: World Bank

Jan 30 (LBO) The World Bank says Sri Lanka's agriculture needs more investment to diversify into high value products and boost productivity in order to reduce rural poverty. "Governments around the world and donors such as the World Bank have been under-investing in agriculture," says Derek Byerlee, a rural strategy adviser to the World Bank. more..

Sri Lanka business group to boost soft skills

Jan 30 (LBO) A top apparel group in Sri Lanka has started an education institute to boost soft skills in English, information technology and apparel manufacture to the bridge gap in the island's education system. "My vision is to see Sri Lanka recognized as a destination for knowledge and innovation within the next five years," MAS group chief Mahesh Amalean said. "This is one step towards that goal,” he said more..

Irresponsible comments and actions by ministers endanger journalists

Jan 30 (RSF) Reporters Without Borders appealed today to President Mahinda Rajapakse to rein in various government ministers whose inflammatory comments and incitements to violence have serious threatened the safety of dozens of Sri Lankan journalists. "Mr. President, it is not yet too late to restrain those of your close associates and political allies who sow trouble and fear among journalists," the press freedom organisation said. more..

Travels in a Militarised Society — 1

Jan 30 (GV) I am waiting for a bus holding a small transparent plastic bag of fruit for my mother. As usual, the buses are sounding their horns, conductors are shouting out the stops on their route, lottery ticket sellers are offering fortunes. In the middle of Boralla Junction there is a Bo tree by a little temple from which a loudspeakers project Pirith chanting. On every corner of the busy crossroads large posters bless our three military forces – air, land and sea — faithfully pursuing their duty until the final victory. more..

Congress stages walkout in TN Assembly on LTTE issue

Jan 30 (PTI) The "friction" between ruling DMK and its ally, Congress, over the LTTE issue came to the fore on Tuesday in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, as Congress MLAs staged a walk out seeking arrest of supporters of the banned outfit, despite Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's assurance to take action. The Congress, which received unusual support from opposition AIADMK on the issue, staged the walkout a few minutes after the AIADMK members walked out of the House, expressing dissatisfaction over Karunanidhi's reply. more..

Government restricts poultry imports to avert bird flu

Jan 30 (IRIN) Sri Lanka is curbing poultry imports and stepping up surveillance of migratory birds in a bid to avert an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) which has flared up in neighbouring countries. Trained veterinary teams are collecting the saliva and droppings of migratory birds; and customs officials are especially watchful of poultry imports and travellers with respiratory illnesses entering the country, according to Health Ministry officials. more..

Seventeen civilians killed by mine, Tamil rebels say

Jan 30 (DPA) At least 11 school children were among 17 civilians killed and 17 wounded when an army unit triggered off a claymore mine explosion on a bus in a rebel controlled area in north- western Sri Lanka, a pro-rebel website claimed Tuesday. The Tamilnet website said the bus carrying school children and clergy was returning from a sports event in Madu, 280 kilometres north of the capital, on Tuesday afternoon. They were reported to be from the Sinnapandivirichchan school. more..