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Parties get ready for nominations

Jan 24 (DM) The JVP would kick off its local government election campaign on January 29 in Anuradhapura, sources said yesterday. The party has already finalized its nomination papers to be handed over to the Commissioner of Elections on January 26 and 27. However, the JVP has already handed over nominations for the local bodies in the Polonnaruwa District. more..

Trishaws banned from taking school children

Jan 24 (DM) Transporting school students by trishaws would be banned in future, National Child Protection chairperson Mrs. Anoma Dissanayake said yesterday. During a meeting organized to educate the school transport services in Kurunegala Mrs. Dissanayake said that transporting students over the capacity of SLTB buses as well as private transport services would also be banned. more..

Import duty on Petrol reduced by Rs 10/Letre

Jan 24 (NN) The government has decided to reduce the tax imposed on petrol in order to ensure prices remain stable despite a hike in the world oil price. The tax imposed on petrol has been reduced from 15 percent to 5 percent. With Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) seeking a price hike in petrol the government had decided to reduce the customs import tax in order to maintain the existing price. more..

Prageeth to UN Panel

Jan 24 (NN) Wife of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda today handed over a submission letter to the UN Panel of Experts detailing how her husband’s whereabouts are still unknown despite over a year since his abduction. Mrs. Sandhya Ekneligoda handed over the submission letter to be sent to the Panel in New York to the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Neil Buhne at the UN office in Colombo. more..

Netherlands: Italy, France felt US behind move, opposed LTTE proscription by EU

Jan 24 (Island) A classified US diplomatic cable, captioned ‘Tokyo co-chairs pre-meetings’ has revealed an attempt by the Netherlands to thwart an EU statement targeting LTTE over continuing terrorist attacks in spite of the CFA. According to the document, dated May 25, 2006, originating from Colombo, ahead of the EU ban on the LTTE, the grouping had been sharply divided. This came to light during a meeting attended by more..

Sri Lanka witnesses the largest Tamil music choir ever

jan 25 (MN) History was created in Sri Lanka as 21,000 singers gathered together to sing the ‘Thevaram’, the richest Tamil devotional poetry sung over centuries. The event was organized by several hundred youth volunteers of the Art of Living in Sri Lanka. The grand event was attended by Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is on a three-day tour of the country. Speaking at the gathering, Sri Sri urged people to drop the past and move ahead. more..

More cracks in Matale; more families move out

jan 25 (DM) Thirty more families in Matale were evacuated due to the fear of a landslides with the cracks appearing on the road between Raththota and Riverston, Disaster Management Centre of Matale District said. In a separate but seemingly similar development cracks have also been reported in the Trincomalee area. In Matale the area where the cracks are stretched through Maussakalle, Bodhikotuwa, and Punchi Raththota in Raththota Divisional Secretariat Division, more..

Food security and livelihoods hit in flood-affected east

Jan 25 (IRIN) Food security and livelihoods have been severely hit in Sri Lanka, specialists say, after heavy rains caused widespread flooding and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes, left 43 people dead, and damaged or destroyed close to 30,000 homes. Agricultural production is the main source of livelihood in the affected area and this season's rice harvest has been badly damaged, leading to increased food insecurity. more..

Parts of A15 no more

Jan 25 (NN) With the floods in the eastern province receding further, parts of the A15 road at Watawan and Verugal linking Batticaloa and Trincomalee which was also submerged has been found to have been washed away. At Watawan in Trincomalee the A15 road has been completely washed away bringing public transport to a complete standstill. Meanwhile at Verugal the A15 road has been several damaged by flood waters affecting tarnsportaion along the route, more..

Sri Lankan religious leaders form peace body

Jan 25 (UCAN) The prime minister and religious leaders in Sri Lanka have jointly formed a peace body to promote communal harmony within the country. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders inaugurated the National Assembly of Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace (SLCRP). “Our aim is to play a dynamic role at the national level (and) to build peace, harmony and justice in Sri Lankan society,” more..

Now for ‘Millennium Consumption Goals’

Jan 25 (IPS) A Sri Lankan scientist is calling for the drafting of "Millennium Consumption Goals" to force rich countries to curb their climate-damaging consumption habits, in the same way the poor have Millennium Development Goals to get them out of poverty. Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, expert on sustainable development and climate change, says, "We now have Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for the poor. more..

Chick takes over pups

Jan 25 (NN) In a rare incident reported from Kandalama a chicken has virtually taken over a group of puppies and will not even let their mother get anywhere near them. The chicken is owned by L.P. Premaratna, a resident of Kandalama and the puppies as well as their mother are also in the same house. According to Premaratna, the chicken began to show extra care to the four puppies and even places them under her wings like caring for little chicks. more..

Naveen, group clash

Jan 25 (NN) A clash broke out between Minister Naveen Dissanayaka and his supporters and another group at the Mahaweli Center a short while ago. The clash was over the nominations for the upcoming local government elections on behalf of the ruling UPFA government from the Nuwera Eliya district. The nomination papers for the UPFA candidates were being accepted at the Mahaweli Center when the clash broke out. Minister Dissanayaka and another UPFA member from the Nuwera Eliya district clashed over more..

Tamils urge Australia to reject diplomatic nominee

Jan 25 (ABC) Australia is under pressure to reject Sri Lanka's nominee for its top diplomatic post in Canberra because the candidate could be implicated in war crimes. The allegations stem from the 2009 offensive ending the war with Tamil separatists. Neither Sri Lanka's high commission in Canberra nor the Australian government will discuss the issue. But Sri Lankan news reports say the nominee for high commissioner is the former head of more..

U.N., Sri Lanka to release joint plan of development for north

Jan 25 (Hindu) United Nations and the Sri Lankan government were together preparing a joint plan for assistance for the north of the country. This plan will be ready by early February and will be a comprehensive “to-do” list that was essential to make sure that the needs of the people were met, a senior U.N. official said. The plan was prepared in consultation with the Sri Lankan government and was being given the final touches. more..

New digitalized identity cards for Sri Lankan Citizens

Jan 25 (MoD) The Department of Registration of Persons, which operates within the purview of the Ministry of Defence has taken steps to issue new digitalized National Identity Cards for Sri Lankan citizens. Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa revealed this last Saturday during an opening of a new high-tech information centre for the Department of Registration of Persons. Speaking at the event the secretary said that the NIC is the valid proof for one's identity more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 24.01.2011

Lanka denies vessels at 'killing sites'

Jan 25 (PTI) The govt today denied that the Sri Lankan Navy had been present at two locations where it was accused of killing two Indian fishermen, as it sought more information to carry out further investigations into the row. Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry said its navy had not been present at the two locations where it was accused of killing two Indian fishermen on two separate occasions this month. "There were no Sri Lanka Navy vessels in the vicinity of the locations, more..

Prisoners shot dead

Jan 25 (NN) Atleast three prisoners were killed and over 20 people were injured after a shooting incident was reported from inside the Anuradhapura prison this evening. According to sources, the injured have been rushed to the Anuradhapura hospital for further treatment. Sources said that two prisoners were found dead inside the prison while another died on admission to the Anuradhapura hospital. The shooting took place when a security contingent was deployed to more..

US backs Galle Literary Festival

Jan 25 (NN) The US is backing the Galle Literary Festival to be held at the end of this week saying events like this can help bring about fuller freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. The US Embassy in Colombo said that it hopes for broad and engaged participation at this year’s festival and has given a grant of $ 5,000to bring 30 students and teachers from all over Sri Lanka to attend it. The participants come from the University of Ruhuna, Southeastern University, more..

'Don't politicize health'

Jan 25 (NN) The government today blamed the opposition for the failure of National policies on health in 2008 and 2009, as false allegations led to several health programs ending unsuccessfully. Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, speaking at the launch of a new National health policy today titled ‘let sleeping demons sleep’, warned that if a national health policy ends in failure it will have repercussions on the whole country. more..

Card. Ranjith meets Catholic artists and journalists from the Archdiocese of Colombo

Jan 25 (AN) In a meeting held at Colombo Joneth studio card. Albert Malcolm Ranjith expressed his support to about 150 artists, journalists and communications workers from the Archdiocese of Colombo. "I know that there are many problems you meet when you work in your respectable fields. Sometimes you may feel frustrations , discouragement, fed up, sad," said the cardinal. "But today I assure you that we will help you when you need a strength, more..

'This election should be made the first step of a new political journey'

Jan 25 (LT) The signing of the nominations papers of the JVP candidates for the local government elections commenced today (24th) at the party head office, nomination lists will be handed over throughout the island on the 25th, 26th and 27th and the JVP considers the local government elections as an opportunity to make a certain change in the politics of the country says the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva. more..

Ban's 'quiet diplomacy' a 'facade of action'

Jan 25 (FP) Human Rights Watch slammed U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders for relying on "quiet diplomacy" to gently nudge despotic governments to stop brutalizing their people. The rights group's special report, entitled A Façade of Action: The Misuse of Dialogue and Cooperation with Rights Abusers, acknowledges that Ban has made strong public statements on the poor human rights records of relatively weak countries like Turkmenistan and more..

Sanath refutes malicious reports against him

Jan 25 (GDI) Sri Lanka’s star batsman Sanath Jayasuriya strongly and remorsefully reject malicious reports against him and claims that these are sadistic attempts by his political opponents to damage his political career. A website published on 21st that “Former Sri Lanka Cricket captain and UPFA MP Sanath Jayasuriya has said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa have misled him with false promises that he would be included in Sri Lanka's cricket world cup team” . more..

Ambassador’s speech at American Corner opening in Jaffna

Jan 25 (USE) Vanakkam. Good afternoon to all of you, and thank you for coming to the opening of the American Corner in Jaffna. I am delighted to be here today for this important event, which expands the American partnership with the people of Jaffna. I would like to give a special welcome to Northern Provincial Governor, Major General Chandrasiri, and Jaffna Government Agent, Ms. Imelda Sukumar. more..

Sri Lankan transparency -- akin to flying in zero visibility

Jan 25 (LG) A recent report in the Sri Lankan press about the favouritism shown to Namal Rajapakse speaks volumes on the arrogance of the ruling regime and the fawning kowtowing of the Law College authorities. As a member of Sri Lanka's first family it was incumbent on Namal to show Sri Lanka and the world at large that he was prepared to 'play the game'; to get through his daily and personal life without any advantages being granted to him due to more..

Canada’s decision on Tamil refugee claims, unrealistic

Jan 25 (LG) Canada rushed to take its stance on Sri Lanka just days before the Canadians were preparing for their holidays in December. Tamils, now, no longer have the right to seek refugee status in Canada. Canada no longer considers the Sri Lankan government a threat to the Tamil people. The Canadian government feels the human rights situation on the island has improved since mid-2010, just a year after the Sri Lankan armed forces claimed to have eliminated the more..

Australian naval ship HMAS Melbourne arrives on goodwill visit

Jan 25 (MoD) The Australian Naval Ship HMAS “Melbourne” arrived in the port of Colombo on 22nd on a goodwill visit. It was ceremonially welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on arrival. HMAS Melbourne is one of the Royal Australian Navy's four Adelaide Class guided missile frigates. The ship is a long-range escort capable of area air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. more..

Streamlining of procedures connectected with duty free car permits for govt servants

Jan 25 (DM) Let me congratulate the Hon. President for his bold decision to issue duty free Car Permits for the Government Executive Officers and for the Officers of the Three Forces and the Police. It is a far sighted and a timely decision. Hitherto, the practice had been to hire vehicles for the use of such eligible Officers from a Rent a Car company, at an exorbitant monthly rent. This decision of the Hon President will undoubtly save unnecessary Government expenditure. more..

Where O where is the promised utopia?

Jan 25 (DM) As the country is grappling with the problems of devastation and displacement caused by the recent floods we yet find various Ministers making inane remarks and seeking various regulatory bans on almost every activity surrounding the lives of the people. One Minister was hell bent on appointing a committee to decide on the banning of mini skirts stating that it was against traditional culture , perhaps the next step would have been to dress up the Sigiriya frescos! more..

Price pressures

Jan 25 (NS) The escalating cost of living in the country continues to be a matter of concern with prices of essential items expected to increase in the coming weeks as well. Economists predict that the inflation, which was on the lower side during the post-war period, could increase in the coming months due to various factors that had affected Sri Lanka and several other countries. According to economists, the past year had been economically healthy, more..

Solheim/TGTE: Wins in Sudan- FailED in Sri Lanka

Jan 25 (DM) With the blessings of the Triple Gem and of many Gods of Great or Small Things, Solheim failed in Sri Lanka but with the aid of European funded NGO’s and Western govts, Norwegians at last made its first success story in bifurcating Sudan. Norway assured it will be the first to recognize split South Sudan as a nation state. Reminder of a route Norway would have taken had Sri Lanka being as dormant as Sudan. Norway came to the assistance of the Khartoum more..

Reflections on the year following that ‘close’ election

Jan 25 (DM) This time, one year ago, the country was at the height of election fever. It was as though only two people existed, two names mattered, that of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, and not without cause for we are trapped in a constitution which confersso much power to the executive president that it is reasonable to say that it is made to make dictators, at least in terms of prerogative reach. It was thought to be a close race by those who had an more..

Surge in auto imports in 2010, up by ten-fold

Jan 25 (ST) Sri Lanka's United Motors has nearly doubled (98.5%) its third quarter consolidated revenues to Rs. 3.42 billion, from Rs. 1.72 billion in the last financial quarter, according to unaudited financials for the nine months ending December 31, 2010. The third company to release its results in the current earnings season, United Motors also showed a significant increase (70.5%) in consolidated revenues for the nine months to end-December 2010, more..

Writing against the RSF/JDS appeal to boycott the Galle Literary Festival

Jan 25 (GV) Editors note: We were sent this personal letter from Sunila Abeysekara addressed to a leading signatory of the RSF/JDS appeal to boycott the Galle Literary Festival. She kindly agreed to publish it on Groundviews for a wider appreciation. As noted in our response to the RSF/JDS appeal, Sunila is an outspoken and award winning human rights activist. Amongst a number of other awards recognising her work, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan more..

Is Ban’s inquiry panel coming?

Jan 25 (LB) After a flurry some weeks ago there is no more talk of Ban Ki Moon’s inquiry panel into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka coming here. The stand-off is for the obvious reason that the government says the panel will be allowed in only to “make representations to the LLRC” set up by Rajapaksa, while the UN says ‘go to hell we will meet whoever we like’ or sounds to that effect. The expectation that a panel of inquiry set up by the more..

Water supply tanks for irrigation in full capacity

Jan 25 (N360) The Department of Irrigation says heavy rains in the recent weeks which caused massive floods have helped fill up almost all the major tanks which supply water for irrigation purposes. Director of Irrigation H.J. Jayathilake said, “Most of the dams are at full capacity”. He said out of 69 such dams 66 tanks are in full capacity and are in a position to supply ample quantities of water to cultivate the upcoming “Yala” Season. more..

Sri Lanka's floods, dam breaks and senior ministers

Jan 25 (LBO) On one side the big story is about the floods. On the other side is the political debate around “Senior Ministers.” Are they connected? The rainfall was excessive. Floods were unavoidable. But we had more than just floods. The most serious damage was caused by breached reservoirs and by the opening of sluice gates to avoid further breaches. More than 200 reservoirs were damaged as a result of bund breaks (bund is the common term for the smaller dams that more..

International food crisis and domestic food shortages

Jan 25 (ST) Is the country on the verge of a serious food crisis? The unfolding international food crisis is likely to result in skyrocketing food and commodity prices. The sharp decline in domestic food production and an increase in oil, fertilizer and other intermediate goods, are likely to bring about inflation in the country. It will strain the trade balance, cause a dent in the balance of payments, increase the rate of inflation and cause severe hardships, more..