Kerry meets TNA leaders

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US Secretary of State John Kerry ended his visit to Sri Lanka Sunday after pledging support for minority Tamils following decades of ethnic war, a local Tamil politician said.

 


Kerry met heads of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main political party from the ethnic minority, a day after holding talks with Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena.

 


"He (Kerry) said he will do his best to support us to resolve outstanding issues," TNA lawmaker Suresh Premachandran told AFP after their 30-minute meeting at Kerry's hotel in the capital Colombo.
"They (US) will also keep pushing for reconciliation, justice and accountability," he added, referring to alleged war crimes committed by government forces in the final stages of the conflict that ended in May 2009.

 


On Saturday Kerry, whose presence in Colombo marked the island's return to the diplomatic fold, heaped praise on the new administration of Sirisena, who toppled strongman Mahinda Rajapakse at January elections.
The diplomat pledged support to ensure "true reconciliation" in Sri Lanka six years after the end of its 37-year Tamil separatist war which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

 


He echoed a longstanding Tamil demand to investigate the cases of thousands who went missing towards the end of the conflict.
"Try to find wherever the truth may lead. No matter how painful that truth is," Kerry said. "It's the right and the humane thing to do -? and it is, believe it or not, an essential part of the healing process."
Sirisena's administration has promised to investigate allegations that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by troops under Rajapakse's command.

 


Kerry has promised technical assistance for any probe and also urged Sirisena to free hundreds of Tamils who are still being held without any charges against them.
During Rajapakse's decade-long rule, Washington was close to imposing sanctions on Colombo for refusing to allow investigations into claims of mass killings and rights abuses at the end of the war with the separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

 


As Sri Lanka's relations with the West and regional powerhouse India soured, Rajapakse turned increasingly to Beijing, with Chinese-funded investments projects springing up across the island.
Since coming to power Sirisena has tried to reset the diplomatic balance, choosing India for his first foreign visit and offering the hand of friendship to other key players who fell out with his predecessor.
Kerry flew to Nairobi Sunday after meeting US embassy staff in Colombo. (AFP)

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Solidier arrested over carrying firearm at President’s event

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The army corporal who allegedly carried a firearm with him at an event which was presided by President Maithripala Sirisena has been arrested by the CID, police told Ceylon Today Online.

 

 

The suspect has been produced before the Angunakolapelassa Magistrate and remanded till 12 May. It has been revealed that the corporal was attached to the Commando Regiment of Sri Lanka Army and was serving in the security of Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.

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20th A before Cabinet in mid-May

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The government is planning to get the Cabinet approval for the drafted 20th Amendment before next Parliament sessions.

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution which will introduce a new electoral system is now in the process of being drafted at the Legal Draftsman’s Department, sources confirmed.

According to government sources President will most probably present it to the Cabinet in the week before next Parliament sittings which is scheduled for the week starting from 19 May.

Sri Lanka Freedom Party led UPFA refused to vote for the 19th Amendment unless and until the 20th Amendment was also presented in the House, but later changed their stance following an assurance by President Maithripla Sirisena that he will personally see to that the electoral reforms are introduced. 

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Mayweather beats Pacquiao in Las Vegas

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Floyd Mayweather emerged victorious from the most lucrative fight in history, beating Manny Pacquiao via a wide unanimous decision in Las Vegas.

 


American Mayweather, 38, delivered a defensive masterclass against his Philippine rival, making the necessary adjustments after only a few rounds before disappearing out of sight.

 


Mayweather, who added the WBO welterweight title to the WBC and WBA titles he already owned, was awarded the fight 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112 by the three judges.

 


With his victory, Mayweather also cemented his status as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of his generation.
The five-weight world champion is now undefeated in 48 professional fights, stretching back 19 years.

 


Six-weight world champion Pacquiao, 36, falls to 57 wins, six losses and two draws.(BBC)

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Today is Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

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Vesak is a festival celebrated by Buddhists worldwide. Vesak is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of May.

 

In Sri Lanka Vesak is celebrated as a religious festival as well as a cultural festival.On this day Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment and the Parinibbana (passing away) of Lord Buddha.

 

 

Devotees obtain "Atasil" on this day and engage in many religious activities. Pandols, lanterns, bakthi gee are significant items during the Vesak season. People also organize "dansal" to give away free food for devotees.

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Fight of the Century- Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

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It's a fight that has been years in the making. Within hours, Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Manny "the Pacman" Pacquiao will go head-to-head at the MGM Grand Garden arena.

 


Mayweather has told fans to be ready for an epic battle when he faces his rival in Las Vegas on Saturday night. It'll be Sunday morning in Asia when the bout is beamed to millions of ecstatic Pacquiao fans in his home country, the Philippines.
With the time for talking all but done, 38-year-old Mayweather told CNN: "He's going to come and bring his best -- and his best is going to bring the best out of me.

 


"My job is to go out there and be Floyd Mayweather and do what I do best. Both sides have said a lot, but it's all about the two competitors."
Unbeaten in 47 professional fights, Mayweather played down claims from some quarters that he had appeared subdued in the build-up to what some are calling the "Fight of the Century."

 


"I feel good," he said. "I'm very, very happy. My team have done a tremendous job.
"I have grown and matured over the years. I'm not far from 40 years old, and I have been in this sport as a professional for 19 years. You outgrow some things.

 


"I know I can fight, and I know the guy I am fighting. It is not an easy task, but this is my job. This is what I chose to do."
Pacquiao said he was "ready for the challenge" and had "peace of mind."

 


But the 36-year-old Filipino admitted that his 65th -- and most eagerly-awaited -- professional fight would be "different," adding: "I'm excited, and I'm sure the fans will love it.
"It means a lot to me to be representing the Philippines -- people are excited to watch this fight.
"I don't have a prediction, but I will do my best to make the fans happy. They deserve a good fight. They are paying more than double than for a regular fight."

 


Getting a ticket for the MGM Grand has proven to be a difficult and massively expensive undertaking, with the price of a ringside seat rocketing.
As Mayweather put it: "Tickets are going for between $8,000 and $400,000 to $500,000. You know, we call this the billionaire boys' club."


But plenty have stumped up big bucks to be there, with Tony Buzbee, an attorney who paid $74,000 for a pair of 12th-row seats, telling CNN: "It's going to be a once in a lifetime type of fight, and I'm going to be there just for the event of it all.
"Growing up loving sports, to be in a position where I can go to this type of event... it's just wonderful."
Pacquiao fan Mark Sarmiento, who paid $7,500 to be there, agrees.

 


"It was a little out of budget but once I got it, it sunk in -- I'm pretty much going to this fight," he said.

 


Here's a look at the numbers behind the boxers:

 

60:40 -- revenue split in favor of Mayweather.

$300-400m -- the estimated total revenue for the May 2 bout.

38 -- Mayweather's age; two years older than his opponent.

5 -- The number of years it took to strike a deal between the two boxers.

$1.5m -- How much Pacquiao's shorts alone will be worth after six companies bid for sponsorship space.

$25,000 -- The value of the mouth guard adorned with diamonds and gold Mayweather will wear on fight night.

$1,500 -- starting price for tickets in U.S. dollars.

8 -- Pacquiao is the first and only eight-division world champion with 10 world titles to his name.

1 -- Mayweather's ranking on last year's Forbes highest-paid athletes list.

$105m -- The amount "Money" earned last year.

$180,000 -- The price ringside tickets had skyrocketed to by April 27 (5 days before the fight.)

16,800 -- Capacity at the MGM Grand Garden arena where the fight will take place.

5 -- The number of boxers Pacquiao and Mayweather have both fought. The "famous five": Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.

$100 -- The fee pay-per-view subscribers will shell out to watch the fight, which will be aired jointly on Showtime and HBO.

$300m -- Expected pay-per-view buys with the most sales coming from U.S., Puerto Rican and Canadian markets, according to Repucom.

$5.6m -- The winning bid for official fight sponsorship by Tecate beer.

57 -- The number of wins throughout Pacquiao's career. Mayweather has less at 47 wins, but...

0 -- Mayweather remains undefeated in his fight career (Pacquiao, on the other hand, has suffered 5 losses.) (CNN)

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Ex-constable arrested for impersonating an ASP

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A person has been arrested for allegedly impersonating an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) during a procession (perahera) of a Buddhist Temple in Badulla. MORE.. Read the Full Article

1,400 prisoners released under general amnesty

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The Department of Prisons says that a group of 1,400 prisoners will be given a general amnesty in lieu of the Vesak Poya Day which marks the three noble events of Buddha's life. MORE.. Read the Full Article

Kerry holds talks TNA, backs justice for Tamils

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ended a visit to Sri Lanka Sunday after pledging support for minority Tamils following decades of ethnic war, a local Tamil politician said. MORE.. Read the Full Article

FUTA condemns attack on former president

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Condemning the Friday's attack on Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, the Federation of University Teachers' Associations today said that the incident is a grim reminder of the political culture that people thought they had defeated on January 08. MORE.. Read the Full Article

Second Rescue and Relief Contingent Fly on SLAF C 130 to Nepal to Assist Earthquake Victims

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The second section of the emergency rescue and relief contingent aboard an SLAF flight, left the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport for the earthquake-stricken Nepal Today morning (02 March 15) to assist ongoing rescue and relief operations in Kathmandu. Read the Full Article

Getting closer to Dharma will help build a society of Maithriya - President

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President Maithripala Sirisena says that getting closer to Dharma that transcends all time and making it part of our lives, will help build a society of Maithriya or Tolerance and Goodwill. MORE.. Read the Full Article

Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to daughter

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The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a girl, Kensington Palace has announced.

The baby - who is fourth in line to the throne - was "safely delivered" at 08:34 BST, the palace said in a statement.
The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth of the baby, who weighs 8lbs 3oz.

 


Both Catherine and her daughter are "doing well", the statement added.

 


The duchess had earlier been admitted to the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital where Prince George was born in July 2013.

 


Catherine travelled from the palace with her husband Prince William and was admitted at 06:00 BST.

 


The statement from Kensington Palace added: "The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news."

 


The latest royal joins the line of succession behind her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William and brother Prince George. (BBC)

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SLAF sends more aid to Nepal

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Sri Lanka Air Force today (2) deployed another C 130 cargo flight to Kathmandu carrying 13000kg of drinking water, dry rations and medical items for earth quake victims.

Over 6,500 people were killed in the 7.9magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal on 25 April. Search and rescue missions are still on to find the missing persons in the rubble.

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Govt. assures a domestic accountability mechanism

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The government today assured the visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry   that a domestic accountability mechanism with international technical assistance is underway.

“Today, Sri Lanka is well on its way to becoming a fully-fledged Parliamentary democracy, laying the foundations for a new Sri Lanka, built on the pillars of democracy and ethnic harmony.  This will allow us to reap the fruits of increased economic growth and prosperity, which have been eluding us for nearly two decades,” Minister Samaraweera said after meeting Secretary Kerry.

Ensuring accountability in the New Sri Lanka, will feature as a key component of the reconciliation process, and the architecture of a domestic accountability mechanism with international technical assistance as promised by our manifesto are now being planned, he added.

“ In this context there are also several areas where the United States can assist us by enhancing local capacity and providing technical expertise.”

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Five jailed in The Hague for supporting LTTE

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Five Dutch nationals of Sri Lankan origin have been jailed for between 19 months and six years and three months for raising money for the LTTE, Dutch News reported yesterday. Read the Full Article

President unveils replica of Avukana statue at Bimbarama temple

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The President Maithripala Sirisena declared open a replica of Avukana Buddha Statue auspiciously at the Sri Bimbarama Temple in Kadawatha today (2nd May). Read the Full Article

US for stronger partnership with Sri Lanka - John Kerry

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American Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States appreciates the firm steps taken by President Maithripala Sirisena to strength democracy and ensure transparency and accountability and promised the government all possible assistance to continue this process in the coming months and years.. Read the Full Article

Man arrested with foreign currency at BIA

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A 39- year – old man who was trying to smuggle out foreign currency concealed in his baggage has been arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport this morning (2) by CID officers, Customs Media Spokesman Leslie Gamini told Ceylon Today Online.

 


The man has been handed over to the Customs for further inquiry and it has been revealed that he was trying to smuggle out the currency to Dubai via QR 669 flight.

 


The suspect had USD 45,420 , UAE Dirham 5,225 and Rs 19,000 which were valued at Rs 6,362,746 in total.

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State Wesak Festival in Mahiyangana tomorrow

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The annual state Vesak festival will be held at the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya on May 3 and 4. The main ceremony will be held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena on May 4. Read the Full Article

John Kerry arrives today

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US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Colombo today for his first trip to the country, the US State Department stated in a release. Read the Full Article

Sri Lanka’s central bank allows fall in spot rupee

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Sri Lanka's central bank allowed a fall in the spot rupee on Thursday for the first time in two months, but defended it amid importer dollar demand ahead of a long holiday, while dealers expect the currency to remain under pressure from lower interest rates.

The central bank allowed a 10-cent fall in the spot rupee to 133.00 per dollar after holding it at 132.90 since February, when it set a level beyond which it would not allow the currency to fall.

Dealers, however, said the spot rupee did not trade as the central bank did not allow trades below 133.00 through moral suasion.

Actively traded two-month forwards ended at 135.36/50 per dollar, while three days above one-month forwards were steady at 134.90/135.00 as the central bank prevented it being traded below 134.90. "There are no inflows as nobody is converting due to the easy access of cheap funds in a low interest rate regime. The depreciation pressure is there, but moral suasion is preventing it," said a currency dealer asking not to be named.

Dealers said the central bank has kept the spot rupee and all forwards up to one month steady through moral suasion. Central bank officials were not available for comment.

The exchange rate is under pressure after the central bank slashed its key monetary policy rates on April 15 with market interest rates on a falling trend since then.

Yields on treasury bills fell 3 to 11 basis points (bps) on Monday at a weekly auction, extending their decline to 41-51 bps since the rate cut. (Reuters)

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Kerry arrives in Sri Lanka

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US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sri Lanka a short while ago. This is the first time a US Official is visiting Sri Lanka since 2005.

 

John Kerry and his delegation were welcomed by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

 

Kerry is scheduled to hold talks with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Foreign Minister as well.

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Kerry visit seeks to reset U.S. relations with Sri Lanka

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday to offer support for newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena. 


It is the first time in a decade that a U.S. secretary of state has visited Sri Lanka.


Sirisena unseated Rajapaksa, one of the country's most powerful leaders, in a surprise election victory in January with the support of the minority Tamils and Muslims. It ended a decade of rule that critics say had become increasingly authoritarian and marred by nepotism and corruption.

 


In recent years Sri Lanka had tilted heavily toward China as Rajapaksa fell out with the West over human rights and allegations of war crimes at the end of its drawn-out conflict with Tamil separatists, which ended in 2009.
Kerry has been credited in Sri Lanka for his role in pressing for peaceful and inclusive elections, and for calling Rajapaksa on the eve of voting to urge him to respect the outcome.

 


A senior State Department official, who briefed reporters on the visit, said Kerry's visit would focus on early efforts by Sirisena to advance democracy and human rights, tackle corruption, and launch a process of national reconciliation.
Kerry will meet with Sirisena, his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, as well as Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, who heads the main ethnic Tamil political party.

 


He will also discuss U.S. interest in expanding trade and investment with Sri Lanka, the official said. The country exports roughly $2.5 billion in goods to the United States a year.
"A lot has to do with conditions on the ground and policies undertaken by the Sri Lanka government," the official added.

 


The official said Washington was "encouraged" by the new government's cooperation with the United Nations over a U.N. report on possible war atrocities during the final stages of the country's civil war.
The U.N. said Rajapaksa's government had failed to properly investigate war crimes. In February, at the request of Sirisena's government, the U.N. Human Rights Council agreed to delay the release of the U.N. report until September.
While Sirisena appears to be more wiling to work with the U.N., his government has said it wants to conduct the war crimes investigation with assistance from the U.N.

 


"It's a real opening in terms of Sri Lanka's relations with the international community and with the United Nations," the State Department official said of the cooperation with the U.N., adding: "We'll have to see where this goes with Sri Lanka and its dialogue with the U.N."

 


John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, said Kerry should offer support and encouragement during the visit but not give the new government a seal of approval.
There were signs that the government was trying to set up a purely domestic mechanism to deal with war crimes despite assurances of international oversight, Sifton said.

 


"Kerry needs to tell Sri Lanka now that if they go down this purely domestic approach to the massive past crimes, the U.S.-Sri Lanka honeymoon is going to sour," he added. (Reuters)

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Police yet to trace Dr. Dewasiri’s assaulters

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The police are yet to disclose the unidentified mob that attacked Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri during a May Day rally held at the Lalith Athulathmudali Ground in Kirulapone on Friday (1) evening. MORE... Read the Full Article