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Sunday July 06th, 2008

Sonia’s Congress in crisis
The communist allies of India’s Congress Party-led government have given it a deadline to decide on whether or not it will continue with the civilian nuclear deal with... (See Inside)

Pillaiyan ‘too busy’ to meet Karuna
Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillaiyan, who is the Deputy Leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP),... (See Inside)

Security boost for President’s chopper entourage
The Air Force has decided to take additional security precautions in an attempt to ward off any unwarranted incidents... (See Inside)


               Facelift for Colombo              

With the SAARC Summit round the corner, the City of Colombo is being given a facelift, on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s initiative
                                   (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)


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NTUC to go ahead with July 10 strike
The National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) has no intention of calling off the July 10 strike, according to NTCU Convenor,... (See Inside)

Where did the US$ 10 million come from?
Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, while hearing two fundamental rights applications filed against the sale of Sri Lanka... (See Inside)

SAARC can do nothing to resolve Kashmir — Lanka
SAARC “can do nothing” to get the Kashmir issue resolved as it has no provision... (See Inside)



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Govt. mum on arbitrary detentions in north
The Sri Lankan Government continues to maintain silence on Human Right Watch’s allegations about the arbitrary detention of more than 400 civilians displaced by recent fighting at a newly-established camp in Northern Province.
The New York based right organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Sri Lankan Government of illegally holding civilians fleeing fighting in the north, last week.
A HRW spokesman disclosed to The Nation that it was yet to receive a response from the government.
“Since March 2008, the Government of Sri Lanka has detained civilians fleeing the areas controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a so-called welfare centre in Kalimoddai,.. (See Inside)

Schools to come to a standstill on July 10
The Principals and Teachers’ Trade Union Alliance (PTTUA) has decided to take part in the July 10 strike.
“We would provide our fullest support to make this strike a success because it highlights issues that are common to every sector of the society,” said PTTUA Convener Joseph Stelyn.
He pointed out that the cost of living had risen so much that it had now exceeded the bearable level. He said that they hoped that the government would provide a solution and meet their demands so that the prevailing financial problems of the employees of the government as well as the private sector would be solved. (See Inside)

UNP to fight for people’s rights on Thursday
Opposition and United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday vowed to participate in the July 10 strike in order to win the supremacy and human rights of the people.
Speaking at the Eksath Kala Sandanaya yesterday, Wickremesinghe said that it was high time to fight against the dictatorship of Mahinda Rajapaksa as it was only ruining the country to the core and tarnishing the image of the country.
“What has he done for the people or for this country so far? He has increased the price of oil more and the cost of living is increasing heavily and immensely hitting the pocket of the common man. On top of that, the government is trying to frighten... (See Inside)

Postal sector strike from Thursday
The Post and Telecommunication Officers Unions are set to launch a major trade union action from Thursday till their demands are met by the Government.
According to the President of the Union, Navaratna Bandara, the Union would take part in the July 10 General Strike, while theirs would be a continuous one commencing Thursday.
“We are planning to take trade union action from Thursday and it would continue till the Government responds to our grievances. We have been requesting the Government to give a solution to our problems and continuously, we have been taking trade union action, but they have failed to listen to our demands and as a result, we are planning to continue the strike till the Government... (See Inside)

Wickremesinghe to lead from the front
In the face of growing criticism about his style of leadership and neglecting of the grassroots level membership, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to launch a strong campaign for the forthcoming provincial council elections.
The UNP Leader was severely criticised for his not-so-impressive campaigning style adopted during the eastern elections, and as a result, the UNP leadership is trying to quell dissension by extensive campaigning, party sources said.
“The Party Leader did not do his part in the eastern elections and that led to a lot of dissension and disillusionment in the party ranks. This time around he has promised to campaign extensively and hopefully... (See Inside)

Eighteen seriously ill patients allowed through closed gateway
Irrespective of the temporary closure of the Omanthai entry/exit point, consequent to the ICRC pull-out from service citing security concerns last week, troops at this cross-loading point continue to facilitate the movement of seriously-ill Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts-based Tamil patients bound for Vavuniya or Anuradhapura hospitals, the Defence Ministry said yesterday.
At about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, two ICRC officials showed up at the security forces-held southern entrance at the gateway and received four patients, including three women, being taken to be admitted to the Vavuniya Hospital for surgery and emergency treatment after they were brought from un-cleared areas. (See Inside)



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Major trade union showdown inevitable!
The week to come will test the government’s resolve to the utmost as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) plans to stage a general strike on Thursday, the first such major trade union action since the now infamous July 1980 strike.
There have already been comparisons between the impending trade union action and the July ’80 strike, not merely because of the month they are being staged in, but also because of fears that Thursday’s strikers would be dealt with in the same manner.
The July 1980 strike did cripple the country for a while but, former President J.R. Jayewardene, then at the height of his power, crushed it ruthlessly sacking all those who participated in the trade union action, establishing a deterrent that was effective... (See Inside)

President moves strategically as elections loom
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is moving strategically to win the two provincial council elections. He has the political acumen and versatility to convince the electorate that the UPFA government is doing the best for Sri Lanka as far as the economy and the war are concerned.
According to the government, the war is on a winning note and they are closing into the northern most strongholds of the LTTE.
Under these circumstances, the people will bear the hardships thrust upon them due to the escalating oil prices and the international trends, such as the global food shortage.
Formidable candidates
The President knows very well that the UNP has fielded a very formidable candidate for the North Central Province, Major General Janaka Perera, who has fought many decisive battles. He has been a very versatile Army officer that the Sri Lanka Army has produced during recent times. (See Inside)


Unprecedented trade union strike and boycott on July 10th
Hundreds of government and private sector trade unions have been threatening to go on strike for months and their main demand has been a 5000 rupee salary hike. When all action taken by the government to deter the trade unions failed, the government offered a 1000 rupee raise in the wages of the employees of the government sector.
Several issues arose with this move to raise the wages of the government sector employees. While this move is completely ignored, the private sector, semi government sector and the estate workers, the government sector workers complain that this is just a fake move to divert their attention and prevent them from joining their comrades and winning their rights.  
Is the salary raise really Rs. 1000? 
Although... (See Inside)

Principals and teachers despair of political interference

Schools are places of discipline and teachers and principals are the agents of instilling discipline among the student population. Although political interference has always been a part of our culture, in recent times, the interference of politicians in school activities has made it very difficult to maintain discipline in schools.
“Can a principal or a teacher punish a child of a politician? See what happened at Royal College, at the end of the day the son of a powerful politician got away scot-free,” said a principal at a Colombo school. He added that when one incident of such nature happens it undermines the authority of the principal. “When children get to know that, they won’t respect us anymore,” he added.
4500 schools without heads
The convener of the Principals and Teachers...  (See Inside)


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Lanka pins hopes on Mendis
Sri Lanka will look to their new spinning sensation Ajantha Mendis to defend their Asia Cup title against batting juggernauts India when the two teams meet in the final here on Sunday.
The 23-year-old from Moratuwa has bowled impressively in a tournament dominated by batsmen, and after going wicketless in the first match took 5-22 against United Arab Emirates and 4-47 against Pakistan to lead his team into the final.
Sri Lanka rested him in the Super League match against India on Thursday after they had already qualified for the final.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene played down the hype around his unorthodox spinner, who has six different deliveries in his armoury.
“We are not going to put lot of pressure on the guy,” said Jayawardene of Mendis, who has been in the limelight since making his debut against the West Indies earlier this year. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Why is Sri Lanka Cricket keeping mum?

In another case of amateurish bungling Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) administrators have failed to counter the allegations made against the national team by two past Pakistan greats following the loss to India in a second round match of the ongoing Asia Cup which resulted in the host country Pakistan being unceremoniously booted out of the final. They questioned whether Sri Lanka had underperformed purposely to keep Pakistan out.
For Pakistan to have a chance of qualifying for today’s Asia Cup final, Sri Lanka who was already assured of a berth had to beat India. But eventually the result Pakistan hoped for did not materialise as India in a do-or-die situation came up with a strong batting performance to overhaul Sri Lanka’s total of 309 and win by six wickets to earn the right to play in the final. (See Inside)


Premalal Dissanayake poised to take on the Major General!
Berty Premalal Dissanayake is a well known name in the modern politics of Sri Lanka. Dissanayake, a veteran politician and a hardcore SLFPer, will be the main focus at the August 23, provincial council elections. He entered Parliament from the Anuradhapura district in 1989. He was re-elected to Parliament in 1994 and became the Deputy Minister of Industries. In 1996, he was appointed as Cabinet Minister for Social Services. In 1999, on a request made by the former head of state, he quit Parliament and entered provincial politics and became the North Western Province Chief Minister. In the subsequent election in 2004, he won comfortably to retain the same portfolio and this giant politician will again contest the forthcoming August 23, provincial council election as the UPFA’s chief ministerial candidate. If he wins the election, he would create history for being re-elected to the same post for three consecutive terms. Throwing a challenge to the main opposition the United National Party (UNP), Dissanayake says defeating the UNP will be the ‘simplest’ thing for him. “Retired generals are no big threat to me. The days of those generals are gone. The time is ripe not for major generals but for the ordinary ones,” he told The Nation in an interview.
Following are excerpts:
Q: Why is the election conducted this year ahead of the scheduled date, significant to you?
A: The forthcoming election becomes essential... (See Inside)


Laugfs downs, Shell ups, what’s cooking?
At midnight, on June 30, Laugfs gas surprised the public by reducing the price of a 12.5kg domestic LP gas cylinder by Rs 53, when, contrastingly, Shell increased the price by Rs 8, the same night. The price of a Laugfs and Shell 12.5kg domestic LP gas cylinder now stands at Rs. 1,668 and Rs. 1,737 respectively.
Laugfs has always been able to maintain a lower price than Shell, because they are allowed to buy a quota of their gas requirement from the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), but, this sudden price reduction needed further explanation.
Chairman, Laugfs Holdings, W.K.H. Wegapitiya, said that, since the reopening of the petroleum refinery, after maintenance, Laugfs has been able to buy their quota of gas again and sell it cheaper. (See Inside)

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