British School in Colombo presents ‘Anything Goes’

This March, the British School in Colombo hopes to take audiences back in time to style of theatre and music that will take one back to a time of nostalgia, dreamy romance and lighthearted fun with 'Anything Goes'. 

For directors Shane Meiklejohn and Shamistha de Silva Dean (music) the chance to recreate a 1930’s inspired vintage musical was a challenge that they took up with a lot of enthusiasm.

Their cast is not unfamiliar with the genres of music they will be tackling like swing, jazz and soul which Shamitha constantly encourages them in. For the Head of Drama; Shane, the decision to perform the timeless musical was more for the parents and grandparents in the audience but became instantly appealing to the youngsters as well.

These days he’s working with the kids to bring out their 1930’s swagger and poise, their character
workshops have even included props, fashion and pictures from the past to give the fresh
young cast some insight into another era.

The British School in Colombo presents “Anything Goes” on March 22 – 24 at 7.00 pm at the
British School Auditorium. Tickets priced at Rs. 2000 and 1000 and will be available at Softwave
Gallery and the British School in Colombo.

Cabinet approval sought for glyphosate ban removal

Proposals submitted by the Agricultural Ministry and the Plantations Industries Ministry for the re-introduction of glyphosate on the plantations will be taken up next week by the cabinet, Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake said at a media briefing in Colombo today (Wednesday).

He noted that the ban on glyphosate would be lifted following a decision taken by the National Economic Council headed by President Maithripala Sirisena after the recent local government polls.

Two cabinet papers had been submitted in this regard and it is expected to be taken up next Tuesday at the Cabinet meeting, he said.

The minister has been campaigning for the re-introduction of glyphosate to be used on the tea estates alone as it had a negative impact on the industry threatening even losing its traditional markets due to low yields and experimenting with unknown substances to kill weeds.

The minister made these observations at the briefing held at the Sri Lanka Tea Board to announce the assumption of duties of Lucille Wijewardena as the establishment’s new Chairman after Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda stepped down last month.

Mr. Wijewardena has been in the plantations industry, is an accountant by profession with interests in other areas like hospitality, stockbroking and finance. (Sunimalee)

JO hands over No-Confidence Motion against PM

The Joint Opposition (JO) has handed over a No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in Parliament a short while ago. 

The motion contains 55 signatures. According to reports, 51 MPs supporting the JO have signed the motion. Meanwhile, four Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MPs from the Government have also signed the motion. 

CCEM not abolished – Rajitha

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne today denied that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) had been abolished by President Maithripala Sirisena, but hinted that its power had been reduced. 

Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing, Minister Senaratne claimed the National Economic Council (NEC) under President Sirisena would take decisions related to major development projects in the country. The CCEM meanwhile, would handle functions normally given to Cabinet Sub Committees regarding other projects. 

He claimed both the President and Prime Minister were in agreement over this. 

There are reports that at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, President Sirisena once again, moved a proposal to abolish the CCEM, which functions under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The President had advised that the CCEM be abolished on an earlier occasion as well.  

Barack Obama’s Hanoi restaurant visit immortalized; table encased with cutlery turns into major tourist attraction

It was a noodle slurp seen around the world: former US President Barack Obama eating Hanoi's staple dish 'bun cha' on a plastic stool with chef Anthony Bourdain; now the restaurant where the pair famously kicked back over pork noodles has preserved their dining table — chopsticks and all — under a glass box for eternity. The move has bemused locals.


Data firm suspends CEO over Facebook scandal

Facebook expressed outrage Tuesday over the misuse of its data as Cambridge Analytica, the British firm at the centre of a major scandal rocking the social media giant, suspended its chief executive.

The move to suspend CEO Alexander Nix came as recordings emerged in which he boasts his data company played an expansive role in Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, doing all of its research, analytics as well as digital and television campaigns.

In undercover filming captured by Britain's Channel 4 News, he is also seen boasting about entrapping politicians and secretly operating in elections around the world through shadowy front companies.

Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic have demanded answers after it was revealed at the weekend that Cambridge Analytica improperly harvested information from 50 million Facebook users.

Cambridge Analytica has denied using Facebook data for the Trump campaign, but the scandal has ratcheted up the pressure on the social media giant — already under fire for allowing fake news to proliferate on its platform during the US campaign.

US media reported Tuesday evening that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook over the data scandal.

Facebook said its top executives were "working around the clock to get all the facts."

"The entire company is outraged we were deceived. We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens," the firm said.

Cambridge Analytica's board said meanwhile that Nix would stand aside immediately pending an investigation into the snowballing allegations against him.

Reuters reporters in court 100 days after their arrest in Myanmar

YANGON (Reuters) – Two Reuters reporters appeared in a Myanmar court for the 11th time on Wednesday, which marked 100 days since they were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers.

A Yangon court is holding preliminary hearings to decide whether reporters Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will face charges under the colonial-era Officials Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

“They have been detained in Myanmar since December 12 simply for doing their jobs as journalists,” Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are exemplary individuals and outstanding reporters who are dedicated to their families and their craft. They should be in the newsroom, not in prison. We call on the authorities in Myanmar to release them as soon as possible and allow them to return to their families and their jobs.”

Government spokespeople have declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing court proceedings.

The journalists have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers after being invited to a restaurant by two officers they had not met before.


President to visit Pakistan from March 22-24

President Maithripala Sirisena will undertake a three day official visit to Pakistan from March 22 to 24  to attend the National Day of Pakistan at the invitation of the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 

President Sirisena will hold discussions with his Pakistani counterpart President Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and following talks, will attend the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding on; Youth Development between Sri Lanka and Pakistan; Between the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute of Sri Lanka and the Foreign Service Academy of Pakistan; Between the Institute of National Security Studies of Sri Lanka and the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and; Between the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration and National School of Public Policy, Pakistan.

During his visit, President Sirisena will declare open the re-furbished International Buddhist Centre in the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad.

Fine increase of Rs 100,000 for non-declaration of assets proposed

A minimum of a Rs 100,000 fine has been proposed to the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act for Non declaration of assets and liabilities. The current penalty for such offence is Rs 1,000.

Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Director General Sarath Jayamanne PC was quoted by the goverment news prtal as saying far reaching amendments have been proposed to the current law of assets declaration which was last revised in 1988.

He said providing false information in the declaration form would also be an offence. He said proposed amendments are being considered by the Legal Draftsman and a preliminary draft would be made with wide consultation of local and international experts.

He said proposals have been made to widen the area covered from the asset declaration form to include loans, intellectual property, insurance, payments made for electricity and telephone bills, gifts one has received, bonus, travel sponsored by various agencies, various memberships in organisations and clubs. “These vital areas have been left out by the current law.

Those are various methods of acquiring income and assets,” he pointed out. He said the proposal has been made to make a summary of asset declaration available to the public without giving personal information or family details. “The lump sum of money in the bank accounts and one’s land and property (without giving the specific area) will be available for public perusal. These include property in other countries as well,” he added.

“UN Office on Drugs and Crime brought experts from Indonesia and Slovenia while World Bank also sent their experts. Our specialist from the Inland Revenue Department, Customs, Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank, Public Administration Ministry, Attorney General’s Department and Elections Commission too attended these meetings,” he was quoted as saying.

The category of people who should submit assets declaration will be widened to include even the provincial councilors. The Election Commission has proposed to make it mandatory for candidates of elections to submit their assets declaration form within two weeks of nomination. “As of now they have to submit within three months and the elections are over by then,” he explained.

The DG said provisions will be made shortly to submit the asset declaration forms online.“Then when you submit the form once, you will only have to update it thereafter.