Thursday, June 18, 2009
Another rally is planned for this Saturday
A 73-day protest involving thousands of people demonstrating over the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka has ended.
The protest featured hunger strikes, mass sit-ins blocking central London roads and people throwing themselves into the River Thames.
One of those involved, Ambi Seevaratnam said: "After 73 days, nothing has worked. The Tamils have been betrayed by the international community."
Protesters have at times clashed with police in Parliament Square.
Health authorities said yesterday that a second confirmed case of Swine Flu had been detected in the country. The new patient has been identified as the brother of the first case detected on Tuesday.
Health Ministry, Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Peiris said that the parents of the children had however tested negative for the virus. The residence of the family is closely monitored and has been quarantined, he added.
He also said that the health officials were in the process of testing other travelers who were on board the flight which the infected patients had taken from Singapore.
According to Dr. Peiris, 20 identified hospitals through out the country has presently been equipped with necessary drugs along with trained manpower to handle any suspected Swine Flu cases
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
About reports that the United States has asked India to resume dialogue with Pakistan, the spokesman said any help for resumption of dialogue is encouraging.
He told a questioner that both President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh would be attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Russia but there is no meeting planned between the two leaders.
To a question he said Mumbai attacks were reprehensible and Pakistan is sparing no efforts to bring perpetrators of the crime to book.
He said Pakistan wished that instead of providing piecemeal information India should have provided all information in one go.
The spokesman said even the latest information received on 20th of last month is in languages other than Urdu and English.
Pakistan has received a part of the document in English and translation of the remaining part is still awaited.
Replying to another question the spokesman said out of 543 million dollars pledged in response to the UN appeal, the world body has so far received about 24 percent of the amount which has been spent on relief activities for IDPs of Swat.
He said both the UN and Pakistan are in touch with the donor community to impress upon them to release the pledged amount without any delay so that there is no disruption in relief activities.
The spokesman said on the sidelines of the SCO summit President Asif Ali Zardari will have bilateral meetings with his Russian counterpart and other leaders. There will also be a trilateral meeting of the Presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia to take stock of the regional situation.
To a question he said one of the students who were earlier detained in UK has returned home on his own accord and Pakistan is providing legal assistance to others who wanted to stay there and pursue their studies.
Replying to another question he hoped that now that the composition of the Commission assigned to probe assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has been completed it would visit Pakistan soon.
Economic expansion in war-battered Sri Lanka fell to 1.5 percent during the first quarter of this year, as the global recession hurt exports, official data showed Wednesday.
The slowdown contrasted with 6.2 percent growth in the first quarter of 2008, though hopes of long-term development have risen since the government's defeat of Tamil rebels last month after decades of conflict.
"The global turmoil has directly or indirectly affected the local economy," the head of the government's statistics office Suranjana Vidyaratne said.
The growth rate was the lowest in Sri Lanka since 2003, with the industries sector, which includes key shipments of garments, growing by only 1.9 percent against 6.0 percent in the same period in 2008.
Service industries, which include telecom, banking and shipping, grew by 1.0 percent compared with 6.4 percent in the same quarter last year.
Agriculture, focused on exports of tea and rubber, grew by a modest three percent, against 5.9 percent 12 months earlier.
Following the Tamil Tigers' defeat, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka plans to revise the island's economic forecast for 2009 up to between four and five percent, from 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent announced earlier this year.
The end of the war should draw investors into construction and other infrastructure sectors, analysts say.
"When the northern reconstruction comes on stream later this year, that will add a significant impact on the economy. Things will take off," said Chinthaka Ranasinghe, head of research at John Keells Stockbrokers.
Crises boost numbers of displaced
Displacement in Pakistan has contributed to a new rise in numbers
A slight drop in the number of people uprooted around the world in 2008 has been more than offset by recent crises in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the UN says.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said global displacement stood at 42 million at the end of last year.
Of these, 16 million are refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people.
There are 5.7 million refugees "living in limbo", with little prospect of immediate solutions, UNHCR said.
Click to see a map of the world's displaced people
This includes 29 separate groups of 25,000 or more refugees in 22 states who have been displaced for five or more years, the agency said in its annual report.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don -one of his most trusted collaborators in the Vatican and a forceful advocate for justice and peace- to head the archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka.Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige DonA strong leader, he returns as head of the Sri Lankan Church in what many observers see as a particularly difficult moment. A bloody 25-year civil war has just ended with the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers rebels but which has raised many questions about the conduct of the final phase of the war and, more importantly, has not resolved the root causes of that conflict.One of only two Asians in top positions in the Roman Curia the other being Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples he succeeds Archbishop Oswald Gomis, who reached the official retirement age of 75 over 18 months ago.
The Vatican made the announcement on June 16, confirming rumors that have circulated in Rome for almost a year.The Pope has appointed the American Dominican, Father Joseph Augustine ("Gus") Di Noia to succeed Archbishop Ranjith as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and has promoted him to the rank of archbishop. Father Di Noia is well known to the Pope as they worked together in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when the future Pope was head of that Vatican office and the Dominican priest was under-secretary.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
You have lost your feet in enabling a nation to rise on its feet. You have lost your hands, eyes, flesh and blood in providing a pleasant and prosperous land to this world. Our responsibility is to honour those great sacrifices by joining to build a great nation” President Mahinda Rajapaksa said at the Victory Day Parade to pay national tribute to the Security Forces following the defeat of terrorism at Galle Face Green, Colombo today (03)
The President said that the new model may be tested on an experimental basis and if it proved workable it may be replicated.
President Asif Ali Zardari said that due to pressure on equity with the government the private sector may be induced for equity participation in the infrastructure projects.
He said that by adopting this model new avenues could be opened for undertaking new developmental projects more aggressively.
Security forces say they are close to driving militants from Swat and neighboring districts in the northwest after a five-week offensive. The fighting has forced 3 million civilians to flee the area.
The government needs “assistance in undertaking the gigantic construction phase of the operation after the return of the displaced people to their homes,” President Zardari told officials yesterday in the capital, Islamabad, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.
The government of Sri Lanka have already in the process of finding a home-grown political solution for the ethnic issue while addressing more immediate problems at hand, said Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights. Also , he said that international community has no reason to doubt Sri Lanka's capability in finding such solution as she has already overcome a challenge that the world was unable to achieve. He made this comments on Tuesday (June 2) addressing the 11th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva.
New York, June 3 (DPA) The UN Security Council plans to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka for the first time since fighting ceased in the island nation, the council's president said Tuesday.
Ban Ki-moon will brief the 15-nation council behind closed doors on Friday and it will be an 'unofficial, interactive dialogue,' said Turkish Ambassador Baki Ilkin, whose country presides over the body in June. He provided no other details.
The UN secretary general has dismissed allegations that the UN covered up a high civilian death toll during the last phase of the Sri Lanka conflict.
Ban Ki-Moon said he "categorically rejected" reports that the UN had "deliberately underestimated" the toll.
The Sri Lankan government has strongly denied the claims surrounding its recent onslaught against Tamil rebels.
The figure was also disputed by UN human rights chief John Holmes who said an investigation would be a good idea.
'Not yet known'
"I categorically reject - repeat, categorically - any suggestion that the United Nations has deliberately underestimated any figures," Mr Ban said in a speech to the General Assembly.
"In regard to some reports in the media, I should emphasise that the final total is not yet known," the UN secretary general said.
"Most of these figures do not emanate from the UN and most are not consistent with the information at our disposal," he said.
Debris was seen in the conflict zone after Sri Lanka declared the war over
The secretary general added: "Let me also say, whatever the total, the casualties in the conflict were unacceptably high."
On 23 May, Mr Ban visited a huge camp for refugees who fled fighting between Tamil rebels and government forces.
The UN secretary general toured the main government-run camp for about 220,000 refugees at Manik Farm, near Vavuniya.
The figure of 20,000 - published last week by the French newspaper Le Monde and then the Times newspaper in the UK and quoting official UN documents and witness accounts - is far higher than previous estimates.
The UN has said that there were no confirmed estimates of civilian casualties, and its last estimate two weeks before the end of the war said 6,500 people had died.
On Saturday, leading human rights group Amnesty International called for an urgent inquiry into claims of civilian deaths.
The group also urged the UN to publicise its estimate of the death toll.
The UN's senior humanitarian affairs co-ordinator John Holmes queried the figures but said the claims needed to be examined.
"I think a lot of the figures which are floating around don't have much justification behind them.
"But nevertheless, there have been serious charges against the [Tamil Tiger rebels]... for holding civilians as human shields for such a long time, and thereby being indirectly responsible for their deaths.
"And against the government for using heavy weapons in an area where there are so many civilians and thereby, not deliberately, but again causing many civilian deaths."
He added: "No-one was there, no-one knows and we may never know. And that's why an investigation would be a good idea."
Foreign journalists and humanitarian groups were barred from the conflict zone and although the Red Cross entered, it does not give evidence in international courts.
Senior Sri Lankan officials have consistently denied the accusation.
India to have first woman Speaker
India's parliament is to have its first woman Speaker after a sweeping win for the Congress party in recent elections.
Meira Kumar, 64, filed her nomination papers on Tuesday and is expected to be elected unopposed on Wednesday.
Ms Kumar belongs to the low-caste Dalit - formerly untouchable - community. Her nomination has been welcomed by members of political parties across the house.
She had been sworn in as a cabinet minister, but resigned on Sunday after Congress offered her the Speaker's job.
India's newly-elected lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, began its first session on Monday.
Ms Kumar, who has been elected to parliament five times, is the daughter of the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, a prominent Dalit leader and former deputy prime minister of India.
She confirmed to reporters that she had filed her nomination papers on Tuesday.
"Tomorrow is the election and it is a historic moment and it is a very overwhelming moment for me," Ms Kumar was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying.
"Historic because a woman has been considered for this very important and august position."
Congress won a decisive mandate in the recent general elections and Ms Kumar has emerged as a consensus candidate, with the main opposition BJP and other parties also supporting her.
Ms Kumar was earlier sworn in as a minister and given charge of the water resources ministry.
Analysts say naming her as Speaker works to the advantage of the Congress as it helps the party position itself as pro-women.
It also projects Congress as a party which is concerned about the welfare of the low-caste Dalits who have faced discrimination from upper-caste Hindus for centuries.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Later he was found left on the road side by some people. He had been severely assaulted. Later he was admitted to ICU of the Colombo general hospital. Reports say that he is out of danger.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The last survivor of the 1912 sinking of the "Titanic," Millvina Dean, has died in a nursing home in England at the age of 97, the Titanic International Society said on Monday.
Dean was just nine weeks old when her family sold a pub they owned in London to travel on the maiden voyage of the passenger liner and begin a new life in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States, where her father Bertram hoped to open a tobacconist shop.
Her father was one of the 1,517 people who died after the supposedly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank.
Dean, who was wrapped in a sack to protect her from the cold and lowered into a lifeboat, was the youngest of the 706 Titanic survivors. Her mother Georgetta and two-year-old brother Bertram also survived, dying in 1975 and 1992 respectively.
Dean, who never married, said she had no memory of the disaster but was told of the event at the age of eight when her mother was about to remarry.
It wasn't until Dean was aged in her 70s that she became a Titanic celebrity, appearing at conventions, exhibitions and in documentaries and other media about the ill-fated ship.
The Titanic International Society said on its website that Dean passed away in her sleep early Sunday at a nursing home near Southampton. She was recently released from hospital after a bout with pneumonia.
Last month the stars of the Hollywood blockbuster movie "Titanic" -- Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and the film's director James Cameron -- donated $30,000 to support Dean in her last years after it was reported that she had resorted to selling her autograph to pay her nursing home bills.
The 1997 drama "Titanic" made more than $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing film of all time in figures not adjusted for inflation.
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