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World News



Ceylinco Life's 'Family Savari' winners 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

 Thousands celebrate as life insurance leader announces recipients of holidays to Paris, Beijing and Singapore and a mass excursion to Leisure World.

Two families from Ambalantota, Sri Lanka's Deep South were among five families that won an all-expenses paid holiday in Paris when Ceylinco Life conducted the final draw for 'Family Savari 6' , the company's annual mega promotion for policyholders.

Ceylinco Life’s Managing Director and CEO R. Renganathan draws winners for the Paris tour.

A total of 450 families received news of their good fortune this week, as winners of holidays in Paris, Beijing and Singapore, as well as a day's outing at the Leisure World theme park by the life insurance leader.

Another 460 others whose names were drawn in October last year at the first draw of the Family Savari 6 programme, taking the total number of winners in this edition of the programme to 2,260.

As in previous years, all 'Family Savari' winners were selected using Ceylinco Life's sophisticated software that generates random numbers from a database within a few seconds.

The overseas tours and the local excursion is scheduled to take place in March, April and May 2013.

Speaking at the final draw, Ceylinco Life's Managing Director and CEO R. Renganathan said a total of 13,760 people belonging to the families of 3,440 policyholders had to date benefitted under the company's Family Savari series of promotions, easily the most generous and logistically challenging rewards scheme in the country's insurance sector.

"The Family Savari programme continues to break new ground with the addition of an exciting new destination or activity each year," Renganathan said. "We have already begun discussing possible destinations for 2014, and our policyholders are waiting with bated breath to hear the plan."

The promotion period for Family Savari 6 ran from August to December 2012, during which all active long term Ceylinco Life policyholders as well as holders of Ceylinco Life Retirement Accounts (CRAs) earned multiple winning chances up to a maximum of 10, for the two draws.

Emphasising the value of loyalty, policyholders received one additional winning chance for every year they had been with Ceylinco Life, up to a maximum of ten winning chances for those who had been active policyholders for a decade or more.

Independently rated as one of Sri Lanka's most valuable brands, Ceylinco Life celebrated its 25th anniversary on January 14, 2013.

The company has maintained its leadership of the country's long term insurance sector from 2004 onwards, and has won multiple international and local awards for its commitment to the community and success in brand equity building

Sampath Bank Pelawatte branch relocated

Nation's pioneer banking and financial services provider,Sampath Bank relocated its Pelawatte Branch recently at Pannipitiya Road Ppelawatte Battaramulla. The opening ceremony was attended by Aravinda Perera Managing Director Sampath Bank as Chief Guest and other senior bank officials.

Aravinda Perera Managing Director Sampath Bank together with Nanda Fernando DGM personal banking, Chandramali Dickwella Manager of the branch cutting at the opening.


HNB opens Customer Centre in Mallavi

Crysanthi Thambiah, Deputy General Manager (Network Management), HNB accepting the first deposit.

Hatton National Bank PLC the premier private sector commercial bank opened the 245th Customer Centre in Mallavi recently. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Mrs Crysanthi Thambiah, Deputy General Manager (Network Management), T. Jeyarajasingam, Regional Head (Northern Region) and a large number of senior bank officials, government officials, local businessmen and customers were present at the event.

The bank will be offering its full range of products and services in Mallavi supported by its electronic banking channels with latest technology and a service quality that is synonymous with HNB.


NB Assurance completes 11 years

HNB Assurance completed its eleventh year in the Insurance industry in Sri Lanka recently and in time to celebrate this milestone, eleven lucky winners from General

Manjula de Silva, Managing Directorof HNB Assurance along with the eleven Lucky winners of the Active Policyholders competition

Insurance and Life Insurance were selected from a Raffle Draw held at the Head Office of HNB Assurance and the winners were awarded with Return air tickets to destinations such as, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and India.

'It is with great pleasure that we have given away these air tickets as a gratitude to our loyal policyholders, and we invite all of our valued customers to stay with us, as we assure you that we will be Sri Lanka's most admired and trusted partner in meeting insurance needs professionally with a spirit of caring'' Stated, Managing Director of HNB Assurance Manjula de Silva after congratulating all the winners.

It is our duty to treat our customers in a caring manner, and we value 'Customer loyalty' stated Lalith Fernando General Manager, Marketing and Distribution of HNB Assurance PLC.

In celebration with eleven years in the Insurance industry, we are proud to announce the lucky winners A. K Gunasiri, W.A.S. Manojeewa, R. Maheswaran, S.A. AJanaka, K. T. Sirisena, K. A. U. Karunaratna, A. Harison, A. J. C. A. Fernando, H N J Shantha, N. Jamunaand K. Ranjithadevi representing various areas in Sri Lanka including Jaffna and Vavuniya.

Tremors in Ampara

Nimal Wijesinghe- Anuradhapura Additional District group correspondent

Two minor tremors were experienced in the Ampara district last morning after a lapse of nearly five weeks. A team of geophysicists and geologists were dispatched by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau( GS & MB) to Ampara to conduct surveys and tests to ascertain the scientific reasons for the vibrations which frightened the villagers.

A series of tremors were experienced in Wadinagala in the Ampara district in December last year.

Due to the torrential rains experienced in Ampara, investigations were put on hold. GS MB Chairman Dr N P Wijayananda referring to yesterday's incidents told the Daily News that the two vibrations measuring 2.7 and 3.2 on the Richter scale respectively had occured at 9.34 am and 10.38 am last morning.

"We have kept a portable seismic monitoring unit installed at Wadinagala to detect any vibrations and have gathered further details. "We are confident that these vibrations originated from the direction of Inginiyagala. Our team of experts are in Ampara to conduct further investigations," the Chairman explained.

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eDoctor - a home made elixir

Most global health web sites which are very popular amongst Lankans, are not tailor made to Sri Lankan lifestyles and health conditions.

Now Lankans don't have to visit foreign web sites, as there is local eDoctor team very familiar with all types of Lankan medical conditions through their vast knowledge and experience gained from daily routine work at our Govt. hospital wards and OPDs, for a long number of years, as family physicians.

"From the comfort of our homes or offices we could reach the eDoctor of course, is not a replacement for your family doctor or a consultant, but eDoctor's initial medical advice and guidance will help us to alleviate our fears and we will be in a proper frame of mind to face the doctor, as we are well armed with the medical information of our condition."

"We can even put forward our questionable doubts to the doctor or the consultant, with the information obtained. eDoctor will educate and lead us to the best and most appropriate solution, depending on our medical/surgical condition," an official from eDoctor said. Some of the services available at can be seen by visiting the FREE visitor's portal of

Most valuable service is for regular globe-trotters - people who spend most of their time visiting foreign countries or living here and abroad alternately.

For membership holders eDoctor will provide advice and multi-faceted services, according to member's choice.


Commercial Bank unveils new look corporate website

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon unveiled a revamped corporate website to enhance the experience of visitors as well as on-line customers.

Combining rich content and modern design, the re-designed website enables even easier navigation than before, and offers a range of improved features.
 Commercial Bank’s Director/COO Jegan Durairatnam, re-launches the website in the presence of the Bank’s Deputy General Manager, Marketing Hasrath Munasinghe, Chief Information Officer, Roan Muttiah and Manager, Marketing Aparna Jagoda.

Commercial Bank’s Director/COO Jegan Durairatnam, re-launches the website in the presence of the Bank’s Deputy General Manager, Marketing Hasrath Munasinghe, Chief Information Officer, Roan Muttiah and Manager, Marketing Aparna Jagoda.
The new website which can be accessed via the site's original address was formally re-launched by Jegan Durairatnam, Director/COO of Commercial Bank. Among the improved features of the website are the 'Search' function that enables users to find information on the website through keywords or phrases; a facility to download application forms related to loans, account opening, deposits and similar requirements; 'loan calculators' related to specific products and details on interest rates for deposits and loans.

The site also offers news blogs, foreign exchange rates, an easy to find locator for Commercial Bank's Holiday Banking centers and 365-day Banking centers, branches that offer extended banking hours and Supermarket banking centers.

"The re-design of the site was based on research findings which helped us to identify the most visited areas and pages of the site," said Hasrath Munasinghe, the Bank's Deputy General Manager Marketing.

"We have made them more accessible by positioning them on the main page and on other specific pages.

We have also studied the viewing patterns and visitor profiles and benchmarked the new site against the most technologically advanced international websites." The site also provides access to Commercial Bank's sophisticated online banking facility.

It is the most popular bank web site in Sri Lanka, averaging over 600,000 searches annually from Google Search according to Google statistics.

About 75% of the visitors are from Sri Lanka while the others are from countries such as Australia, the UK, USA and UAE.

Sampath launches ATM to change foreign currency

Sampath Bank recently scored yet another 'first' with the opening of Sri Lanka's first ATM with the facility to exchange Foreign Currency. The ATM has been located at the Bank's head office at Colombo 2.

Sampath Bank account holders as well as non- account holders can exchange foreign currency through this ATM.

An ATM card is not necessary to access the ATM. The user can do so by inserting his or her Passport number or the National Identity Card number. While at the initial stages only US Dollars can be used for transactions, the bank hopes to extend the facility to other foreign currencies as well in the near future. There is no need to be a customer of Sampath Bank to obtain the service of this ATM machine.

Among the key benefits of the transactions through this ATM is the attractive conversion rate. The user will receive Sri Lankan rupees.

The ATM will be commissioned by the Governor of the Central Bank, Ajith Nivard Cabraal. Deputy Governors of Central Bank, Sampath Bank Chairman Dhammika Perera, Managing Director Aravinda Perera, and members of the Board of Directors also will grace this occasion.

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Jaye Container Terminal heralds first 11,000 TEU container vessel

Making a yet another significant landmark in the container handling saga of Sri Lanka, the State-owned Jaye Container Terminal (JCT) received an 11,660 TEU capacity Container Carrier, “MV MSC LUCIANA”, operated by the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). “MV MSC LUCIANA” which made a history as the largest ever container vessel thus far called over at the port of Colombo yesterday.

In celebration of this historic event to JCT, SLPA and to Sri Lanka at large, a plaque exchange ceremony was held on board the vessel “MV MSC LUCIANA” on her maiden voyage at JCT/SLPA, on January 23, 2013.

Plaques were exchanged between SLPA upper echelon comprising Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Managing Director, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, and the Master of the Vessel Capt. Kojicic Veselin in the presence of MSC top brass including Managing Director, Rohan de. Silva, General Manager (Operations and Logistics), Shamal Perera and other senior SLPA and MSC officials.

MSC, in a very bold move switched over to the state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) operated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) in December, 2009 expecting to carry out more than 1,500 moves per vessel. And MSC has been able to achieve this average throughout the years following.

MSC brings import cargoes from the Eastern Seaboard of US to Colombo and delivers local exports and transshipment cargo from the Indian sub continent to the Far East.

MSC is the world’s second-largest container shipping line, providing an unparalleled service network via dedicated offices throughout the world and remains a truly independent and private company able to respond quickly to market changes and implement long term plans.

With a streamlined management structure via Geneva, MSC has become a leading customer-focused, cost effective global transport solution provider for many a shipper worldwide.

Commenting at the ceremony, SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama said “The MSC LUCIANA’s call at Jaye Container Terminal brings us great significance for it is the largest ever container vessel to visit Colombo.

This heralds how the container shipping will be like in the coming future with economies of scale becoming the major concern in ship building. More often than not, the pursuit of economies of scale in liner shipping has been cited as the major reason behind carrier’s motivation to form strategic alliances, engage in mergers and acquisitions and to increase vessel capacity by building larger vessels. When the Panama’s new locks are inaugurated in 2014, channels will allow transit of bigger vessels, removing another impediment against mega ship building.”

“I am glad to say that Colombo will be ready to handle any mega vessel on the order book. With the construction of Colombo South Harbour, the first stage of which is to be completed in 2013, we will have the capacity to entertain largest triple E class vessels and Sri Lanka will be the only port in South Asia to handle large vessels.” he further said.

Managing Director of SLPA, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola expressing his views at the ceremony said “Today is a historic day for SLPA. The MSC, one of our oldest and loyal container shipping business partners has made the SLPA achieve another accolade. Today we have demonstrated to the shipping community that we have the ability to handle an 11,000 TEU class vessel, the largest ever to have called thus far at Colombo. MSC has always been with us in crests and in troughs of our business and I am confident that they will continue to be with us in the future.”

He added , “We need to be the change that we wish to see in the world. Let me attribute our ambitious development projects and our determination to change the organizational culture to our vision to be the Logistics excellence in the Silk Route”. Capt. Keppetipola praised the current Port Chairman as a leader par excellence by saying “Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determinations.”

Capt. Keppetipola highly appreciated the role of Rohan de Silva, the Managing Director of MSC Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, as a man who lives upto his dreams quoting “Never let your memories be greater than your dreams”.

“Under our wing, we are confident that MSC will thrive and grow from strength to strength in the future. Your success indeed is the SLPA’s success too. That means you our customer are our most valuable asset and I take this opportunity to wish MSC and their local agent Messrs. MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. All the Best.” he further said

The vessel operates under Cheetah service with port rotation of Durban, Port Louis, Colombo, Singapore, Far East, Singapore, Durban and Europe.

Lucky Homes commits Rs. 2 bn in '13

Shirajiv Sirimane
Lucky Homes Pvt limited will be investing over Rs. 2 billion this year on two unique housing and recreation projects.
Kalawila and Director, Christina. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe
Chairman Lucky Homes, Capt. Sumith Kalawila said plans are afoot to build Sri Lanka's first Water Park and an unique hosing colony in Piliyandala.

He said that the company which opened two years ago already has a land bank to the tune of over Rs. 300 million and they are contemplating on build the Water Park bordering the Southern Expressway. “We have already consulted a European company to install equipment for the Water Park.”

He also mulled plans to introduce another first to Sri Lanka, a cable car to travel to this recreation facility. The company also hopes to have a mini hotel and many other entertainment facilities in this venue.

Lucky Homes is also Sri Lanka’s only single owner company to build and operate a star class property in the Philippines. “We have a 65 room hotel to which we invested Rs. 500 million.

We are looking to add more facilities to this Sheavens Sea Front Resort Hotel and would be investing a further Rs. 30 million this year,” he disclosed.
 Kalawila and Director, Christina. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

He also said that they would also build another Water Park in Philippines and the success in the Philippines has enticed him to invest in the Sri Lankan hotel sector. “We are looking to invest between Rs.500 million to Rs. 900 million on a hotel project in Sri Lanka. We prefer to ‘buy’ an existing property rather than building a new one.

However if we do not get a ‘unique’ property we will build a new hotel close to a river,” he said.The wide knowledge he gained as a Captain of the Navy, enabled Sumith Kalawila and Christina Kalawila, who also has a broad knowledge in business, to establish Lucky Homes Investments (Pvt.) Ltd.

“Our goal is to deliver a luxury house, which is built once in a lifetime and the necessary supervision and guidance, the assistance, the engineering contribution and even the documentation will be provided by us,” he added.

To go in line with their creativity, Lucky Homes has selected the creative duo in Sri Lanka's pop music Bathiya and Santhush as their Brand Ambassadors.

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Tina Turner to give up US passport

SWITZERLAND: US pop legend Tina Turner, who has been living in Switzerland since 1995, will soon receive Swiss citizenship and will give up her US passport, Swiss media reported Friday.

"I'm very happy in Switzerland and I feel at home here. ... I cannot imagine a better place to live," Turner told German language daily Blick.

Turner, 73, who was born Anna Mae Bullock, lives in picturesque town of Kuesnacht, on the shores of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland, and has passed a local civics test and interview, according to an official announcement published in the Zuerichsee-Zeitung daily.

The woman behind such hits as "Private Dancer", "Simply the Best" and "What's Love Got to Do With It?" will still need a green light from the canton of Zurich as well was federal authorities before she can receive red passport, the two papers reported.

Turner spokeswoman Karin Rhomberg told the Zuerichsee-Zeitung that the singer wanted to "clarify her situation". "Tina Turner will therefore also give back her US citizenship," she said.

Turner, who has learned German, reportedly moved to Switzerland in 1995 when her longtime partner, German record executive Erwin Bach, was transferred here.


American Mumbai plotter gets 35 years in prison

US: An American man who admitted to scouting targets ahead of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and then cooperated with US authorities to avoid execution was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison.

David Coleman Headley, 52, pleaded guilty in 2010 to 12 charges related to the carnage in Mumbai and a second plot to attack a Danish newspaper that sparked outrage over its publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

He convinced US federal prosecutors to let him live after he was caught on tape plotting the Danish attack by telling them all he had learned in seven years of working with Pakistani militants.

Former US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who brokered the plea deal, said the information Headley provided "saved lives" as he urged Judge Harry Leinenweber to be lenient rather than imposing the maximum sentence of life in prison.

In handing down the 35-year prison sentence, Leinenweber however told Headley he would much rather impose the death penalty, saying: "That's what you deserve."

Heavily-armed militants rampaged through Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more over nearly three days of carnage in a prolonged assault on the Indian financial capital.


French planes destroy Islamist bases in Mali

MALI: French warplanes have destroyed two Islamist bases in northern Mali as an Al-Qaeda-linked group there split, with the splinter group calling for talks to end the offensive against the militants.

There were also fresh reports of Malian troops carrying out summary executions, with one rights group saying at least 31 people had been killed in the central town of Sevare and some bodies dumped in wells.

Bombing raids overnight targeted Ansongo, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the town of Gao, and extremist bases in the nearby village of the Seyna Sonrai, a Malian military source said Thursday on condition of anonymity.


Arab world takes centre stage at Davos

SWITZERLAND: The Arab world takes centre stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday with Jordan's King Abdullah II set to address global political and business leaders.

The premiers of Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and the Palestinian Territories will discuss transformations in Arab countries, while US Senator John McCain is taking part in a panel on the future of conflict-torn Syria.

Abdullah's speech comes after preliminary election results Thursday showed pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen set to sweep a parliamentary vote in Jordan. The poll was touted as a focal point of pro-democracy moves by the king, but was shunned by Islamists who want wholesale reforms.

On Thursday, UN leader Ban Ki-moon used his trip to Davos to make a fresh appeal to members of the Security Council to overcome their divisions and find a solution to the civil war in Syria.

Ban said it would be an “abdication” of the world body's responsibilities if it fails to unify over the crisis that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

“It will be essential for the Security Council to overcome the deadlock, and find the unity that will make meaningful action possible,” Ban told the annual gathering of the global elite in a Swiss ski resort.

“The alternative -- letting the sides fight it out, resigning ourselves to Syria's destruction with all its regional implications -- is too costly and unacceptable,” he added.


Kerry urges ‘fresh thinking’ to tackle global woes

US: Probable next US secretary of state John Kerry called for “fresh thinking” Thursday as he outlined his foreign policy agenda and plans for relations with Iran, China and the Middle East.

“American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must decide whether to not to confirm Kerry in the post of America's top diplomat.

“We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role that we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us,” he said.

US foreign policy is also about aid, and food security, fighting disease, poverty and repression, and giving “voice to the voiceless,” Kerry said.

Kerry -- a Democratic senator best known outside the United States for his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign -- was nominated last month by President Barack Obama to take over from Hillary Clinton.

During his almost four-hour hearing, he laid out his thoughts on some of the world's top challenges.

British troops face fresh Iraq torture charges

Sunday, January 20, 2013

British troops, who were stationed in southern city of Basra during Iraq war, face fresh charges of breaching international law over alleged torture and killing of Iraqi prisoners from 2003 to 2008.

The troopers should address charges such as "systemic" policy of abuse over five years in the English High Court during a three-day hearing from 29 January, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday.

“Lawyers for 180 Iraqis who claim they are victims of abuse, or that their family members were unlawfully killed, will place a file of statements before two judges presiding over the court in London accusing British soldiers and intelligence officers of unlawful interrogation practices,” the report said.

The use of "stress positions", sexual abuse, beating and religious abuse of illegally detained prisoners are among the accusations that will be unveiled in the high court.

“In some cases, the testimonies allege, the torture led to the death of the prisoner,” the British newspaper added.

"This is the crucial moment of decision," said Andrew Williams, a law professor at the University of Warwick, who wrote a book on the killing of Baha Mousa -- an innocent hotel worker killed while in British custody in Basra in 2003.

"This is our last chance to get to the truth of what happened. This is what we demand of others, but we do not demand it of ourselves. What kind of message does that give the world about who we are?" he added.

Public Interest Lawyers group also has called for a public inquiry into what is presented as “an orgy of sadism, outlawed interrogation methods and unlawful killings by soldiers and intelligence officers against Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war between 2003 and 2008.”

The hearing comes just weeks after the tenth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Britain was the second largest contributor of troops to the Iraq war. At least 179 British troops were killed during the US-led invasion of the country.

DB/MA /Press TV

Militants mortar attack kills three, injures five in Damascus

The violence occurred on Saturday when the mortar shell fired by foreign-backed militants hit a club in Damascus.

In a separate attack in the capital, armed men fired an RPG at civilians entering the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, leaving a number of refugees injured.

In the northern city of Aleppo, army forces killed several militants, including a commander of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Nusra Front, and demolished a militant hideout.

The Syrian Army said it also arrested several terrorists behind civilian killings in the fourth largest city of Hama. The militants have reportedly confessed to killing security personnel as well as raping and kidnapping women in Homs and Hama.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.

Damascus has repeatedly said that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and that a very large number of the militants operating in the country are foreign nationals.

According to a UN report, militants from 29 countries - most of whom are extremist Salafists - have filtered into Syria to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.


Palestinians plan another tent village

PALESTINE: Palestinian activists have devised plans to set up another tent village in the occupied Palestinian territories as a sign of protest against Israel’s settlement policies.

The exact location of the planned tent village has not been announced yet, but it is expected to be set up at the site of Israel’s future settlement projects, referred to by the Israelis as E1. The move came following a forced evacuation of some 200 Palestinian and foreign activists, who had set up makeshift tents in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank on Friday to confront a recent Israeli plan to construct new settlement units in the area. It is the second time that the pro-Palestine activists are using the tactic to protest against Tel Aviv’s settlement construction policies.

On Sunday, Israeli forces attacked the activists’ tent camp and forcibly evacuated them.

Palestinian protesters said that at least six activists were wounded in the attack.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday slammed Israel’s attack on peaceful Palestinian protesters, calling the protest non-violent. Ban reiterated that the Palestinians reserve the right to stage peaceful demonstrations, urging Israel to respect the inalienable right of the Palestinian people.

The UN chief also called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon his new plans of settlement construction in the West Bank.

Despite international condemnations, Israel has announced new plans to construct 170 new settler units and 84 “guest rooms” in the West Bank region.

The E1 project aims at connecting the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim to the occupied Palestinian territory of East al-Quds (Jerusalem), about six kilometers away. The plan will cut off the northern part of the West Bank from the south.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The UN and most countries consider the Israeli settlements illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.


Rape cases in New Delhi jump 23 percent in 2012

Saturday, January 19, 2013

NEW DELHI: Rape cases in New Delhi jumped 23 percent in 2012 from a year earlier, according to official figures, highlighting rising crime against women in the sprawling metropolis.
The numbers were released as the trial of five men was set to begin tomorrow on accusations of murder, rape and kidnapping over the death last month of a 23-year-old gang-rape victim, whose assault sparked nationwide protests,

The case against a sixth defendant, who says he is 17, is being heard separately by a juvenile court.
“The rate of conviction in rapes in Delhi is much higher than the national rate,” Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told reporters on Friday.

“(But) we are not taking solace in this. We need to do much more,” said Kumar, who has faced fierce public criticism for the perceived failure of his police force to check mounting crime against women. For 2012, some 706 rape cases were registered — a 23.43 percent leap from the previous year, police said.

Some 45 cases of rape and 75 cases of sexual molestation were reported to police in the two weeks after the brutal gang rape attack on the physiotherapy student on Dec. 16, police said.
The victim died in a Singapore hospital from massive internal injuries nearly two weeks after the assault.

New Delhi, a city of 16 million people, has long been called the “rape capital of India.”
It is known as the least safe major Indian city for women with more than twice as many rape cases registered in 2011 than commercial hub Mumbai.
Since last month’s gang-rape, protesters across India have demanded stronger punishment for crimes against women and better safety.


Kingdom to Help Build Part of Afghanistan’s Road Network

RIYADH, 4 August 2003 — Saudi Arabia, the United States and Japan have pledged $180 million to rebuild a portion of Afghanistan’s road network. The work on the project, which was suggested immediately after the US-led war on Afghanistan, has already begun, according to Afghan Ambassador Mohammed Anwar Neko Omar.

“The project, which will link Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, will be completed within a year,” said Ambassador Neko here yesterday.

“Saudi Arabia has also pledged a new credit facility of $20 million for building other access roads in the country. A delegation from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) will visit Kabul shortly to discuss the details of the credit facility,” the ambassador said while thanking the Saudi government for the assistance.

Referring to the jointly-funded road project, Neko said that it, along with other roads connecting Afghanistan with its neighbors, will set the scene for a complete transportation system in the country. This will also help the business sector lower tariffs and eliminate other trade barriers.

To launch the reconstruction, the US has contributed $80 million, Japan $50 million and Saudi Arabia another $50 million, said the ambassador. The Kingdom has always been in the forefront of nations who have provided aid and loans to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has extended Afghanistan a $15-million loan to finance construction of a road.

The road will connect the southern city of Kandahar to Spin Boldak further to the east, close to the border with Pakistan, according to a KFAED statement.

The fund will be managed on behalf of KFAED by the Islamic Development Bank, an offshoot of the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference.

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Russia, Bangladesh seal ARMS DEAL

RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday met the prime minister of Bangladesh for talks that included the signature of a $1 billion arms contract, the Asian nation's biggest since its 1971 independence.

Bangladesh has recently been expanding its defence capabilities, building a new air base close to neighbouring Myanmar and adding frigates to its navy.

“Our countries intend to expand their military and technological cooperation,” news agencies quoted Putin as telling Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a Kremlin ceremony.

“Russia will extend Bangladesh a credit of $1 billion, which will be spent on the purchase on Russian weapons and military technology,” the Russian leader said.

The arms purchase agreement included orders for armoured vehicles and infantry weapons, air defence systems and Mi-17 transport helicopters, a source close to Russia's state arms export agency told the Vedomosti business daily.

The source said the purchase did not include any tank orders because Bangladesh had earlier obtained those from China.

Bangladesh also opted out of its initial plans to purchase eight advanced Mig-29 fighter jets because of their $500 million price tag.

A separate part of the agreements saw Russia assign $500 million to finance the construction of Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant, to be built at a site called Rooppur.

The two planned Rooppur reactors are expected to cost $4 billion, with Russia also agreeing to continue financing construction after the first phase of the project is complete, news reports said.

Bangladesh's military spending spree follows the recent discovery of offshore natural gas deposits, which Russian officials believe means it will have no problems repaying the credit.

A.N.M Muniruzzaman, an analyst at the Dhaka-based Institute of Peace and Security Studies, told AFP it was the biggest defence deal ever to be signed by Bangladesh which gained independence in 1971.


Woman who couldn't stop growing dies at age 34

LAS VEGAS - A woman who suffered from one of the world's worst cases of gigantism passed away on Monday after a 13-year fight with the rare medical condition.

Tanya Angus, 34, from Vegas was a beautiful young woman who dreamt of becoming an actress when she was hit by a rare medical abnormality which caused her body to grow non-stop.

Before her 21st birthday, she was a normal 5-foot-11 (180cm), 115 pound (52kg) slender young woman who walked fashion runways, loved dancing and had a boyfriend.

However, when she hit 21, she began noticing that she no longer fit into some clothes, and her hands had become enlarged.

"Tanya was 21 when she started growing," her mother Karen Strutynski said. "She was perfectly normal, but by age 22 she had grown three inches."

"Nobody knew what was going on."

She added that the family noticed something was seriously wrong when Tanya's sister Susie picked her up at the airport in 2002 and noticed a significant physical change in her sister.

"Tanya was taken to a friend who is a pediatrician. A few days later, our family's lives changed forever," she said.

Tanya was diagnosed with a disorder called acromegaly, where a non-cancerous tumour causes the body to produce too much growth hormone. In children the condition is known as gigantism.

The tumour had become wrapped around Tanya's pituitary gland, causing it to release massive amounts of growth hormone into her body, The Daily Mail UK reported.

Her worsening condition got her fired from her position as a Walmart supervisor in Michigan, and heartbreakingly, her boyfriend broke up with her when his parents questioned whether she was actually a man.

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Passengers camp out at Heathrow after snow delays

LONDON - Passengers were forced to sleep on the floor at London's Heathrow Airport overnight, media said Saturday, after heavy snow grounded hundreds of flights and left thousands of people stranded.

A spokesman for the airport, one of the busiest in the world, said a further 100 flights had been cancelled on Saturday morning, on top of about 400 that were grounded Friday by the bad weather sweeping Britain.

The Eurostar train service also reported further delays on Saturday, saying snow and ice in Britain and northern France had led to speed restrictions. It also cancelled two trains on Saturday.

British media showed pictures of hundreds of people sleeping on the floor at Heathrow overnight Friday.

"There are lots of bodies lying around in the airport. If feels like there's been a natural disaster," Jerry Meng from Los Angeles, whose flight to New York was cancelled, told the BBC.

Ian Aitchison, who was due to fly to the US for a conference, told the broadcaster he was feeling "mildly hysterical" after being stuck on a plane for more than six hours before the flight was cancelled.

Runways, stands and taxiways remained open on Saturday but 67 outbound and 33 inbound flights were scrapped, largely because the bad weather meant aircraft or crew were not available, an airport spokesman said.

"We do not expect significant snowfall today, but temperatures are forecast to remain around zero degrees or below. Passengers should check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport," he said.

"There is a chance of further snow tomorrow."

Heathrow invested £50 million (60 million euros, $80 million) in improving its resilience to severe weather events after the chaos sparked by heavy snow in the run-up to Christmas to 2010, where passengers spent days stranded at the airport.

London's other major airports at Gatwick and Stansted were expecting to operate normally on Saturday.


S. African press club names rhino as 2012's top newsmaker

JOHANNESBURG - The rhino has been named South Africa's newsmaker for 2012, based on the extensive media coverage around the slaughter of the creature for its horn, the National Press Club said on Saturday.

It is the first time that such recognition has gone to an animal, as poaching figures reach all-time highs.

"Stories of rhino poaching dominated the headlines throughout the year, the story was covered extensively locally and internationally," said Antoinette Slabbert, chairperson of the National Press Club.

Poachers are increasingly targeting South Africa's rhinos, and last year killed a record 668 of them in parks across the country.

"We made this decision after a long and serious thought," Slabbert said, adding "there wasn't any other bigger story than this."

The plight of the pachyderm eclipsed the shooting of 34 mineworkers by police during a strike at Lonmin platinum mine in August, and a host of prominent political news.

"People need to understand that we selected a newsmaker not a news event, the Marikana shooting was a news event, with many faces," Slabbert said.

South Africa is home to about three-quarters of Africa's 20,000 or so white rhinos and 4,800 critically endangered black rhinos.

"While the rhino has dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons, the media has played a fundamental role in informing not only South Africans, but the world, about the massive tragedy that is unfolding in our country," Slabbert said.

Rhinos are victims of a surging demand for their horns, which some people in Asia think have medicinal properties. The claim is widely discredited.

South Africa and Vietnam last year signed a deal to tackle the trade and several Asian nationals have been arrested for involvement in poaching.

The number of rhinos poached in the country rose sharply over the last five years, from 13 in 2007 to 448 in 2011.


Pond's Femina Miss India Kolkata 2013.

Pond's Femina Miss India, the country's most prestigious and credible beauty pageant, is all geared up to set its foot in the beautiful and vivacious city — Kolkata — with Pond's Femina Miss India Kolkata 2013. The auditions will be taking place on January 21 at the newlylaunched Hotel Park Plaza, where the final contestants will be selected followed by their training. Pond's Femina Miss India Kolkata 2013 Finale will be hosted at The Spring Club on January 28.

With a dynamic and holistic training programme for the contestants, the gratifications the winners stand to gain run into crores. The selection process has been divided into five zones. The North Zone constitutes of Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Shimla, Jammu and Dehradun and the South Zone comprises Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Kolkata and Guwahati falls in the East and Goa, Nagpur, Pune, Jaipur and Ahmedabad falls in the West Zone.

The Central Zone consists of Indore and Lucknow. Pond's has had a long and successful stint in beauty since its foray into India and is synonymous with beauty in the country. Being the most credible and the largest premium face care brand in the country, they have passionately led the way in understanding women's skin and beauty needs for years. Pond's and Femina Miss India together present a platform to many aspiring Indian women to realize their dreams and make beauty a way of life rather than admiring it from a distance.

Hospitality Partner Park Plaza and Venue Partner The Spring Club will be seen playing perfect hosts to Pond's Femina Miss India Kolkata 2013.

Gear up to be a part of the most glamorous event in your city as Pond's Femina Miss India Kolkata 2013 comes to select the next beauty queen with the final auditions taking place on January 21.

SL to set up Life Sciences Parks

In the wake of Sri Lanka’s industry sector showing a strong 7.3% growth in Q3-2012, the country is mulling a dedicated park for life sciences development.

“A dedicated zone for Life Sciences is being planned for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to reduce the loss of foreign exchange,” revealed Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the Key Persons Forum (KPF) at Queen’s Hotel in Kandy on January 15, where more than 100 reps from various industries in Central Sri Lanka anxiously gathered to meet him to directly consult on various industrial issues faced by them.

The January 15 KPF was organised by the Small and Medium Enterprise Developers (SMED) arm of FCCISL and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Central Province, in collaboration with the Asia Foundation and supported by the Australian Agency for International Development.

“The government has set up my ministry with a large amount of funds to serve you, the industrialists of the country.

But we believe that Lankan industrialists are not making use of our resouces sufficiently or reaping the maximum benefits offered by our ministry. Remember, we are here to assist you,” stressed Minister Bathiudeen.

During the lengthy and in-depth Kandy KPF session, Minister Bathiudeen, along with his top officials from the Department of Commerce, EDB (regional), successfully addressed many issues faced by central regional industrialists, on the spot.

Among the issues addressed were Kandyan industries to international markets through the Export Development Board, facilitation of region’s SME sector for international trade fairs, land and tax issues faced by them.

Interestingly, during the same session, Minister Bathiudeen also volunteered to address several issues beyond his ministry’s scope –such as farming issues in various micro sectors in the region and also Kandy tourism promotion. “For today’s initiative to be fruitful, we need to continue similar sessions in future as well,” said WMR Manager of Woodworld Enterprises, Pallekele, Kandy.

“Our doors are always open for you, the regional entrepreneurs. You can directly contact us at any time for an appointment for discussion, where our officials would take up the matter immediately,” Minister Bathiudeen assured.

More than 150 firms of every scale are functioning in the Kandyan region, providing direct and indirect employment to a workforce exceeding 9000.

Plastics, woodcraft, jewellery, stationery, umbrellas, vehicle body fittings and brass are among leading medium to large scale industries in the region.

“Our industry sector has been able to show an impressive growth rate of 10.3 percent in 2011 for the second consecutive year, contributing to the year’s 8.3 percent GDP growth.

In the first, second and third quarters of 2012, the industry sector grew by 10.8 percent, 9.5 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.

We believe that the behavior of the industry sector needs to be more strategic, focused and energetic, so that it becomes a viable input to achieve $ 20 billion exports by year 2020.”

what is saying Hina Rabbani Khai Minister of Foreign

The world of tweeple is abuzz with tweets on Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's now famous comment that India is indulging in war-mongering.  Here's a selection of the funny tweets. Perhaps humour is the best anti-dote to war:

1. Hina Rabbani Khar: Beauty without brains.

2. May be we should counter Hina Rabbani Khar by making Digvijay Singh the External Affairs Minister?

3. Dear Hina Rabbani Khar (HRK), you may be glamorous like @iamsrk but when you speak, you sound more like @kamaalrkhan.

4. Hina Rabbani Khar is a hybrid of an ostrich and a kangaroo. Refuses to face the reality and carries a bag where ever she goes.

5. Thought Her To Be of Penguin Mother & Sea Horse Father.

6. Hina Rabbani Khar is having a relationship with Bilawal Bhutto? Man, she's going from Hermes to Herpes pretty fast.

7. Hina Rabbani Khar is allowed to act all arrogant and ignorant, guys. After all, she is HRK.

8. Hina Rabbani Khar. So pretty. So shrewd. What a character she'd make in a book or a movie.

9. Quit making fun of Hina Rabbani Khar for her big, expensive bags. She needs them to carry a lot of hate and stupidity.

10. Hina Rabbani Khar says India is war-mongering ! Go back to your birkin, love!

11. Meanwhile, darling of India's SECULAR tribe Hina Rabbani Khar says, "Outrage in India not worthy of any response"!!!

12. Pak Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar: We are a mature nation who behaves responsibly...Talk about beauty with immense sense of humour!

13. Hina Rabbani Khar called Pakistan a responsible country and a mature country...there was silence and then she collapsed on the floor, laughing...

14. Hina Rabbani Khar for Jism 4 or 5 ?

The best for the last:

15. Dear Hina Rabbani Khar, we shall accept all what you said, provided you appear on Arnab Goswami's show and win the argument!

Source :

Egypt drops hundreds of charges over post-Mubarak violence

CAIRO - An Egyptian court dismissed cases against 379 people accused of involvement in clashes with police during protests near the Interior Ministry in November 2011 in which 42 demonstrators were killed, the state news agency reported.

Saturday's decision was based on President Mohamed Mursi's offer of an amnesty for those facing charges related to events during and after the 2011 uprising that ended the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, the agency reported.

Cairo and other cities saw many violent protests against the army rulers who took over interim power after Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11, 2011.

Judge Gamal el-Din Safwat Roshdy, who presided over the Cairo criminal court, dismissed the cases against 379 suspects linked to clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the agency said.

The street, which lies next to Cairo's Tahrir Square and near the Interior Ministry, became a focus of violent protests in November 2011 by demonstrators who accused the ruling generals of employing the same heavy-handed police tactics as Mubarak.

The generals handed power to Mursi after he was elected president in June 2012.


India ruling party urges Rahul Gandhi stand for PM

JAIPUR - Leaders of the ruling Congress party on Saturday clamoured for Rahul Gandhi - scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty - to be named the prime ministerial candidate ahead of next year's polls.

Gandhi, 42, has preferred to take a back seat in the party's politics until now, concentrating instead on leading the Congress youth wing into the general elections due in 2014.

But Oil Minister Veerappa Moily hailed Gandhi as the country's leader for the "present and for the future" at a meeting of the party in the tourist city of Jaipur in northern India aimed at brainstorming for the 2014 elections.

Another veteran Congress member, Mani Shankar Aiyar, said the party would back Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all led India, should he decide to accept a bigger role.

Sanjay Nirupam, a Congress leader from the western Maharashtra state, also pitched at the meeting for Gandhi to be formally projected as the new leader and provide a fresh momentum to the party's electoral fortunes.

Gandhi "is our candidate for the post of prime minister after the 2014 elections", Nirupam told reporters at the weekend meeting where pictures of the young politician were prominently featured.

Calls for Gandhi to take a greater role within the party have become louder in recent months, especially in the wake of reverses suffered by the Congress-led government in some of its traditional strongholds.

Congress, India's oldest political party, was routed in polls in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Goa last year.

Manmohan Singh, the 80-year-old current prime minister, has been buffeted by falling economic growth and a damaging series of corruption scandals.

But Gandhi's appetite for India's turbulent political scene has often been questioned by critics due to his refusal to accept repeated requests to take on ministerial responsibilities.

Sonia Gandhi, mother of Rahul Gandhi, and Congress party president, on Friday said the meeting was taking place as Congress faces "serious challenges" in states long-considered strongholds for the party.

She also conceded that some of the left-leaning government's wide-ranging welfare subsidy programmes had failed to reap political benefits.


US position on Japan island control a 'betrayal': China

BEIJING - Veiled US warnings to Beijing not to challenge Japan's control of disputed islands encouraged Tokyo's "dangerously right-leaning" government and "betrayed" Washington's vow of neutrality, Chinese state media said Saturday.

The comments came as Japan's coastguard said three Chinese government ships had entered Japanese territorial waters around the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said the area around the islands in the East China Sea was under Japan's control and therefore protected under a US security treaty with Tokyo.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington, and without mentioning Beijing directly, she said the US opposed "any unilateral actions" to undermine Japanese authority over the islands.

But in a commentary piece, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua criticised Washington's position, saying it "cast doubts on (US) credibility as a responsible power in the region".

It was "unwise" for Washington "to throw support behind Japan in Tokyo's islands dispute with Beijing", Xinhua said, adding: "This unbalanced position has betrayed its declared intention to stay neutral on the issue."

The US proposal for "tighter military alliance with Japan will only encourage Tokyo's dangerously right-leaning tendency", Xinhua said.

Three Chinese government surveillance vessels sailed in waters around the disputed islands Saturday for nearly five hours but had all left Japanese waters by 1:52 pm (0452 GMT), the Japan coastguard said.

China has repeatedly sailed into the waters since Japan nationalised the chain in September, a move that triggered anger and demonstrations in China.

The United States insists it is neutral on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands.

"We want to see China and Japan resolve this matter peacefully through dialogue," Clinton said Friday.

"We do not want to see any action taken by anyone that could raise tensions or result in miscalculation that would undermine the peace, security and economic growth in this region."

China has persistently criticised the US position and the sending of maritime surveillance ships to the potentially gas-rich area is seen by experts as a way to contest the notion that Japan holds effective control.

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