Wintersports: Sri Lankan Usuph impressive at Asian Winter Games

"When I got to the starting gate, I was so scared and I fell over straight away," Usuph told AFP, after becoming the first Sri Lankan woman to compete at the Asian Winter Games. Sri Lanka is better known for producing cricketers than skiers, but the sun-kissed South Asian island is developing a winter sports programme. Usuph's brave foray came as part of a drive to promote winter sports across the entire Asian region, which will host Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang and Beijing in 2018 and 2022. Sri Lankan Olympic officials insist Usuph won't be the last woman from her country to take on similarly hair-raising challenges. At the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, tropical Jamaica made headlines by entering the bobsleigh competition, inspiring the 1993 comedy "Cool Runnings".

February 22, 2017 03:08 UTC

SL in Aus: Niroshan Dickwella banned for two games

Australia is the only country where Sri Lanka hasn’t lost a T20, and they are the only team unbeaten in Australia. It was during this match that Niroshan Dickwella scored his career-best at 68. Pursuant to Article 7.6 of the Code, when Dickwella reaches four or more demerit points within a 24-month period, it will be converted into suspension points and will be banned. Two suspension points equate to a ban from one Test or two ODIs or two T20s, whatever comes first for the player. Dickwella will miss the next T20 match against Australia however, as Kusal Mendis is tipped to keep wickets.

February 22, 2017 03:08 UTC

Football: South Asia-Japan U-16 Tournament from March11 to 14 in Colombo

SportThe South Asia-Japan Under-16 Football Tournament is organised by Japan Football Association along with Football Federation of Sri Lanka for the first time in Sri Lanka. The four countries participating in this tournament are Nepal, Bhutan, Japan and Sri Lanka. The tournament is scheduled to be held from March 11 to 14 in Sri Lanka at the Race Course grounds, Colombo. On March 14 Sri Lanka take on Nepal. The Japan Football Association proposed FFSL to organise this tournament as a preparation of the upcoming SAFF Under 16 Championship and AFC Championship.

February 22, 2017 00:49 UTC

Weightlifting: Five medals expected at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

SportSri Lanka has targeted to bag five medals including two gold at the Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to 15, 2018. “In the history of the Commonwealth Games, Sri Lanka has won one gold, two silvers and one bronze. An 18 member pool taking aim at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games has now been formed and training is now being conducted without a break. For the Malaysian Championships the Asian Junior, Asian Senior and Asian Youth events have been included. Sri Lanka tried to stage the Commonwealth Games in Sri Lanka in Hambantota but failed the bid by 27 votes to 43 to Australia.

February 22, 2017 00:49 UTC

Cricket: Mathews, Gunaratne picked for IPL franchises

SportSri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and the latest Twenty20 sensation Asela Gunaratne were picked by two leading franchises for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 season. In the IPL auction which took place at Bangalore on Sunday (19) Mathews was picked by Delhi Daredevils for a thumping amount of US$ 300,000 while Gunartne was brought by Mumbai Indians for US$ 45,000. Other Sri Lankan cricketers listed at the auction Dinesh Chandimal, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella and Akila Dhananjaya went unsold.

February 21, 2017 17:37 UTC

Europe dodges Trump's defence spending ultimatum

By current standards, Washington funds about 70 percent of NATO spending. Italy is in Afghanistan,” said one senior European NATO diplomat. It aims to reverse a trend that saw defence research spending in the European Union fall by a third, or more than 20 billion euros, since 2006. Spurred on by Britain's decision to leave the European Union, Germany and France are leading plans to build a so-called European Defence Union that would allow countries to develop and share military assets together, as well as deploying troops. Governments spent in isolation and missed out on savings worth 25 billion euros a year, according to EU data.

February 21, 2017 14:18 UTC

Indian PM urges U.S. to keep an open mind on visas for skilled workers

WorldPrime Minister Narendra Modi urged the United States on Tuesday to keep an open mind on admitting skilled Indian workers, in comments that pushed back against Republican President Donald Trump's “America First” rhetoric on jobs. Modi's comments reflected concern that India's $150 billion IT services industry would suffer if the United States curbs the visas, known as H-1B, it relies on to send its software experts to the United States on project work. The actual number of Indian nationals working in the United States under the H-1B programme is significantly higher, however, because many visas are rolled over. The sector, led by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, employs 3.5 million people and is lobbying against proposed U.S. visa curbs - including increases on salaries that H-1B visa holders must earn. A senior Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said India hoped to resolve the visa issue with the United States but declined to be drawn on the details.

February 21, 2017 12:56 UTC

As he turns 93, Mugabe dismisses corruption allegations

WorldAs he celebrated his 93rd birthday on Tuesday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe brushed aside persistent allegations of corruption against senior officials, saying rumour-mongers were merely targeting “big fish” in his administration. “I think the big fish, more of it has been talk, talk and talk. People have not come out and actually said here is a case against a big fish,” Mugabe said in the pre-recorded interview. “Or are people afraid to come out and even come to us and say 'This one is stealing so much, investigate the person?' The opposition says corruption has flourished under the leadership of Mugabe, whom they accuse of running a patronage network that rewards supporters and turns a blind eye to graft.

February 21, 2017 12:43 UTC

India arrests heads of adoption centre over trafficking

WorldIndian police said Tuesday they have arrested the heads of an adoption centre suspected of selling at least 17 children to foreign couples, the latest trafficking scandal to hit the country. “Two people were arrested after raids in three charitable homes on Saturday night,” Sashi Panja, state women and child development minister, told AFP. India has an estimated 30 million orphans, but the rules governing international adoptions are strict and domestic adoptions remain relatively rare. Only 4,362 children were legally adopted in 2014 and 3,677 in 2015, according to the Central Adoption Resource Authority. Experts say couples wanting to adopt in India are often frustrated by lengthy bureaucratic delays and complex rules, pushing them towards the thriving illegal adoption market.

February 21, 2017 11:54 UTC

Seven killed as three suicide bombers attack Pakistan court

WorldAt least seven people were killed when multiple Taliban suicide bombers attacked a court complex in northern Pakistan Tuesday, the latest in a series of assaults which have raised fears militants are regrouping. Earlier this month the group vowed a fresh offensive on targets in Pakistan including the judiciary. Among last week's assaults was a bomb blast targeting a van carrying judges in Peshawar, which killed their driver. Police and troops had been on high alert in Pakistan after last week's wave of attacks, which killed more than 100 people. Most, including the Lahore bomb, were claimed by JuA, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistani Taliban) group.

February 21, 2017 11:38 UTC

Azerbaijan strongman appoints wife vice president

WorldAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his glamorous wife as first vice president, the latest move seen as tightening the family's iron grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation. Mehriban Aliyeva “is appointed the first vice president of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the leader said in a decree published on his website. Prominent socialite Aliyeva, 52, has been a ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party lawmaker since 2005 and head of the influential Heydar Aliyev Foundation -- named after her father-in-law and former president. The appointment follows constitutional changes made after a tightly-managed referendum last year that introduced the powerful position of first vice president. Such steps were denounced by regime opponents as a ploy to cement the Aliyev family's dynastic rule.

February 21, 2017 11:29 UTC

Bodies of 74 migrants found on west Libyan shore

WorldThe bodies of 74 migrants have been found washed up on a beach near the western Libya city of Zawiya, a Red Crescent spokesman said on Tuesday. Mohamed al-Misrati said the bodies had been recovered on Monday and that the migrants appeared to have died during the past two days. The migrants were all adults, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, and all but three of them were men, Misrati said. Libya is the main departure point for migrants hoping to reach Europe by sea, and the bodies of those who drown attempting the risky crossing are frequently found washed up on Libyan shores. TRIPOLI, REUTERS

February 21, 2017 11:13 UTC

Compensation for Katukurunda boat tragedy victims

NewsCabinet approval has approved a proposal to award compensation to victims of the Katukurunda Boat tragedy in Beruwala. Accordingly, a sum of Rs.100,000 would be awarded for each of the deceased while Rs.20,000 will be given to each injured person, Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told Parliament today. Eleven people have so far been confirmed dead after a multi-day fishing trawler overturned during the annual St. Lazarus boat procession on Sunday. The Government says that the fishing trawler was not authorized to ferry passengers. Search operations are continuing to locate four persons who are still reported to be missing.

February 21, 2017 10:48 UTC

Iran leader backs liberation from Israel 'tumour'

WorldIran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Tuesday for the “complete liberation” of Palestine from the “tumour” of Israel, renewing his regime's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist. “It continues to advance towards its other objectives, ultimately the complete liberation of Palestine,” he added. Ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran has been implacable in its opposition to Israel and has provided extensive support to Palestinian militant groups. But Khamenei's renewed reference to Israel as a “tumour” comes as new US President Donald Trump fills his administration with appointees with hawkishly pro-Israel and anti-Iran views. Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has gone on the record calling on Sunni Arab states to ally with the Jewish state against Shiite Iran.

February 21, 2017 10:39 UTC

Japan zoo kills 57 monkeys carrying 'invasive' genes

WorldA Japanese zoo has culled 57 native snow monkeys by lethal injection after finding that they carried genes of an “invasive alien species”, officials said Tuesday. But the operator and local officials discovered about one-third were crossbred with the rhesus macaque, which in Japan is designated an “invasive alien species”. Junkichi Mima, spokesman for conservation group WWF Japan, said invasive species cause problems “because they get mixed in with indigenous animals and threaten the natural environment and ecosystem”. The zoo started feeding wild snow monkeys in 1957 and held dozens in a rough fence, the city official said. The Takagoyama zoo conducted DNA testing on its snow monkeys and discovered the mixture.

February 21, 2017 10:12 UTC

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