Turkey to allow female soldiers to wear headscarves

WorldTurkey will allow female soldiers to wear a headscarf with their uniforms, defence ministry officials said on Wednesday, marking a symbolic shift for a military that has traditionally seen itself as a guardian of state secularism. Since coming to power in 2002, the Islamist-rooted AKP has fought to bring religion into public life in Turkey. Although a majority Muslim country, Turkey is officially secular. Headscarves were long banned in the civil service and in universities, something the AKP successfully overturned. Last July, a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, and attacked parliament in an attempt to overthrow the government.

February 22, 2017 15:41 UTC

Russia sets up information warfare units

WorldRussia's military has created a force tasked with waging information warfare, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, in a move likely to heighten the West's concerns about what it sees as Moscow-sponsored “fake news”. Russian military planners, like their counterparts elsewhere, see the spreading of propaganda as a crucial part of modern warfare. European intelligence agencies have also said Moscow is seeking to destabilise governments and influence elections in Europe with cyber attacks and fake news. In an address to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, Shoigu said the new troops tasked with information warfare are more potent and effective than those used in the past. Deriving from that, Russia has made an effort to form structures that are engaged in this matter,” he said.

February 22, 2017 15:15 UTC

Syrian army takes district near Aleppo

WorldThe Syrian army and its allies took a small district on the outskirts of Aleppo from rebels on Wednesday, a war monitor and a military media unit run by Damascus ally Hezbollah said. “The Syrian army and its allies control Souq al-Jibs, west of Assad suburb in southwest Aleppo,” said the Hezbollah military media unit in a message. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said the army had taken the district. Clashes on the western side of Aleppo and its surroundings as the army and its allies advanced were accompanied by heavy shelling and aerial bombardment, said the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor. After the rebels were driven from their Aleppo enclave in December, Russia and Turkey - important foreign backers for the opposing sides in the war - sponsored a ceasefire aimed at being a prelude to peace talks.

February 22, 2017 14:37 UTC

WTO chief does not foresee "unmanageable" U.S. trade policy

WorldWorld Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Wednesday he had not yet discussed trade issues with the new U.S. administration but was confident the WTO could cope with any new U.S. trade policy. Azevedo said he did not know what trade policy President Donald Trump would adopt but had heard his concerns about “unfair trade” and suggestions he might withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and maybe the WTO itself. Trump, whose policy motto is “America first”, has already pulled the United States back from creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that many experts thought would give a big boost to the U.S. economy. “I dont think that we are facing anything that is unmanageable because different views and different opinions have been part of our work on a daily basis,” he said. He has not said anything publicly about leaving the WTO since becoming president.

February 22, 2017 14:16 UTC

EU says Germany should do more to help economy

WorldEurope's top economy Germany should help its EU partners out, the European Commission said Wednesday, after the Trump administration attacked Berlin for using the bloc to boost exports unfairly. Germany has racked up enormous trade surpluses over many years, with its EU peers pressing Berlin repeatedly to help their weaker economies by investing more at home to boost consumption and therefore imports. Unveiling a regular review of member state public finances, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said this situation was not good for anyone. - France 'more to do' - ======================= Compared with the strength of Germany, France has struggled with persistent low growth, high budget deficits and debt. The Commission polices member states to see they meet these rules but has stopped short of imposing punishments on member states who have mostly breached the limits for years.

February 22, 2017 13:41 UTC

Iran ready to give U.S. "slap in the face" - Commander

WorldThe United States should expect a “strong slap in the face” if it underestimates Iran's defensive capabilities, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, as Tehran concluded war games. “The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake,” said General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards ground forces, quoted by the Guards' website Sepahnews. On Wednesday, the Revolutionary Guards concluded three days of exercises with rockets, artillery, tanks and helicopters, weeks after Trump warned that he had put Tehran “on notice” over the missile launch. “The message of these exercises ... for world arrogance is not to do anything stupid,” said Pakpour, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim. Iran says its missile programme is defensive and not linked to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

February 22, 2017 13:14 UTC

Presidential Commission suspends hearings into CBSL bond issue

NewsThe proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Central Bank bond issue were suspended today in order to seek the advice of the Attorney General. Reports say the proceedings were suspended as the Commission wanted to seek advice from the AG's Department regarding the presence of lawyers from Perpetual Treasuries, the primary leader under probe in the bond issue at the hearing. The Commission comprises Supreme Court Judges K. T. Chitrasiri, Prasanna Sujeewa Jayawardena and former Deputy Auditor General Kandasamy Velupillai.

February 22, 2017 10:09 UTC

SL in Aus: Sri Lanka elect to field in 3rd T20 game in Adelaide

SportSri Lanka won the toss and elected to field against Australia in the third and final Twenty20 match which will begin shortly at Adelaide today (22). Seam-bowling allrounder Dasun Shanaka replaces Niroshan Dickwella, who was handed a two-match ban by the ICC following an incident which took place in the second game at Geelong. Australia has recalled Adam Zampa in place of Andrew Tye. Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Michael Klinger, Ben Dunk, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Tim Paine (wk), James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa. Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (Captain), Dilshan Munaweera, Kusal Mendis (wk), Asela Gunaratne, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedara, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Vikum Sanjaya.

February 22, 2017 08:50 UTC

Mo’ Mojo, American Pardis Gras band tours the island

FeaturesThe Mo’ Mojo, a Zydeco based Pardi Gras band, is currently touring Sri Lanka. They also performed at the Mardi Gras Music festival, which was held at the Park Street mews, last week (16). Sri Lanka is their ninth country. After their visit to Jaffna, the band decided to put together a world video, featuring a song they had done, with vocalists from different countries. To this, their percussionist/ rub board player, Leigh Ann Wise, tells us, “it’s that little sensation of a new adventure.

February 22, 2017 07:27 UTC

Indo-Sri Lankan film maker Anila SK's 'Orazhcha' to be screened

Features“Orazhcha” a film by Indo-Sri Lankan film maker Anila SK will be screened at the Indian Cultural Centre today (February 22) at 6 p.m.Premiered at the recent Jaffna International Film Festival where it charmed the audience, the Malayalam language film offers a peek into the outwardly placid but inwardly surcharged world of a retired middle-class couple living in present day Kerala. As is typical of Kerala and indeed of many other parts of India, the young of the household had gone away to distant lands in search of greener pastures leaving their aged parents to fend for themselves in an increasingly indifferent, and at times, hostile environment.

February 22, 2017 07:18 UTC

A Conservative Plan to Combat Global Warming

Individuals and businesses would internalize the carbon tax without the inconvenience of paying a tax on each transaction. A carbon tax of $40 per ton would produce enough revenue to give a four-person household a $2,000 annual dividend. Because a carbon tax would raise the cost of US exports, the legislation that we propose calls for a rebate to exporters equal to the amount of carbon tax built into their product. Democrats applaud Republicans for proposing a plan to reduce CO 2 emissions and combat global warming. Republicans like the idea of dealing effectively with global warming while eliminating the existing environmental regulations.

February 22, 2017 07:05 UTC

Navy Commander gets service extension

NewsPresident Maithripala Sirisena has given Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne a six month service extension effective from today. He was appointed as the 20th Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy in July 2015. Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne joined the navy on November 1, 1980. He was instrumental in forming the Navy's elite Special Boat Squadron (SBS).

February 22, 2017 06:52 UTC

Indian migrant labourer charged with murder of Lankan colleague

NewsAn Indian immigrant labour was charged at the Magistrate’s Court here today with the murder of his Sri Lankan colleague two weeks ago, New Straits Times of Malaysia reported. No plea was recorded from the accused, Durga Rao Ketali, 30, when the charge was read by the court interpreter before Magistrate Adibah Husna Zainal Abidin. Durga is charged with the murder of Sumith Nishantha Silva Appu Kankanamalage at Padang Buluh Estate, Jalan Sidam Kiri here, about 9pm on Feb 9. He is charged under Section 302 of Penal Code which carries mandatory death penalty if convicted. It was reported that the victim, in his 50s, died on the spot when the accused smashed his head with a concrete slab following an argument at the workers’ hostel.

February 22, 2017 05:01 UTC

US Congress Representatives make a courtesy call on President Sirisena

NewsA bi-partisan group of Representatives of the United States Congress visiting Sri Lanka paid a courtesy call on President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (Feb. 21) at the Presidential Secretariat. Accordingly, Congressman Peter Roskam (Chair – Republican), Congressman David Price (Democrat), Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (Democrat) and Congressman Adrian Smith (Republican) met the President, the government news portal reported. He said that measures taken for reconciliation, development of the country, good governance and citizen’s right are laudable. He said that USA will stand by Sri Lanka in its challenging journey towards economic development. The delegation was accompanied by Atul Keshap Ambassador for USA, and Prasad Kariyawasam Sri Lanka Ambassador in USA.

February 22, 2017 04:23 UTC

Malaysian activist found guilty of screening unapproved Lankan documentary

NewsMalaysian activist Lena Hendry was convicted by a magistrate’s court for screening a Sri Lankan civil war documentary that had not been approved by the Censorship Board. Hendry, 32, who stood expressionless in the dock upon hearing the verdict, later said she was disappointed with the judgment, the Star reported. Hendry, who was also the programme coordinator for human rights group Pusat Komas, claimed trial in a magistrate’s court on Sept 19, 2013, to illegally screening the documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka. Hendry committed the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at Jalan Maharajalela in 2013. The charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both upon conviction.

February 22, 2017 04:09 UTC

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