Australia toughens process to gain citizenship

Posted on 22 April 2017 by TSL

Australia, which hosts one of the largest Sri Lankan Diasporas overseas, will make it more difficult to gain citizenship in a major overhaul of its migration process, the BBC reported yesterday.

Aspiring citizens will undergo tougher tests on their English language skills and ability to demonstrate "Australian values", PM Malcolm Turnbull has said.

Applicants must also have completed four years as a permanent resident – three years longer than at present.

The move comes two days after Australia unveiled stricter visa requirements for skilled workers from overseas.

Turnbull said the changes would ensure that migrants were better integrated into the community.

"It is important that they understand that they are making a commitment to our Australian values," he said.

In explaining what constituted "Australian values", Turnbull said migrants must demonstrate support for religious freedom and gender equality.


Turnbull announces changes to citizenship test


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY3MQVZP4tc   (CLICK)


"Respect for women and children … that is a key Australian value," he said, adding domestic violence would not be tolerated.

A more stringent English language test involving reading, writing, listening and speaking is one of the other changes included in the citizenship process.

Providing evidence of integration into the community, such as employment history, school enrolment or membership of community organizations, having already been a permanent resident for at least four years, allowing applicants to apply only three times and automatically failing anyone who cheats on a test are also new changed made by the government in its migration process.

When asked about reports that applicants would be quizzed on whether they supported forced child marriage or female genital mutilation, Turnbull said it was important to "reinforce our values".

"If we believe that respect for women and children [is an Australian value]… then why should that not be made a key part, a fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen?"

The requirements would apply to all new applications for citizenship, the government said.

The opposition Labor Party accused Turnbull of making announcements for political gain.

"It seems a little odd to me that you would actually ask people whether or not they are going to obey the law when they already pledge to obey the law," said Labor senator Penny Wong.


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Who are the 8 richest people? All men, mostly Americans

Posted on 23 January 2017 by TSL

The Associated Press 
Published Monday, January 16, 2017.

DAVOS, Switzerland — The eight individuals who own as much as half of the rest of the planet are all men, and have largely made their fortunes in technology. Most are American, with one European and one Mexican in the mix. Several have pledged to give it all to charity.

The eight tycoons' net worth, as calculated by Forbes magazine, was cited Monday by anti-poverty activists Oxfam in a report highlighting income inequality. As the world's business and political elite gathers in the Swiss town of Davos this week, here's a look at who these billionaires are.

Bill Gates: $75 billion

The man whose name is a byword for billionaire. He co-founded Microsoft in the mid-70s, growing it into the world's biggest software company and helping to make computers a household item. He quit as CEO in 2000 and pledged to devote his fortune to his philanthropic activities in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has gradually reduced his ownership in Microsoft to less than 3 per cent, with the bulk of his wealth in a private firm.

Amancio Ortega: $67 billion

The richest person in Europe, Ortega opened the first Zara fashion shop in 1975. Now, the chain, part of Ortega's Inditex group, has 7,000 shops globally. Its boom in popularity is largely due to a low cost model that competes with the likes of H&M. As Zara and Inditex grew in size, Ortega held on to a majority stake of 59 per cent in the company, which has a market value of over 97 billion euros ($102 billion).

Warren Buffett: $60.8 billion

The Oracle of Omaha, as he's known for the way his every investment decision is followed by thousands. He began investing as a teenager in the '40s and gradually grew his firm, Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett, 86, is notoriously frugal personally and favours investing in companies with proven business models over new industries, such as in technology. He's said he will give away the bulk of his wealth to philanthropy and since 2006 has been donating blocks of Berkshire stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Carlos Slim Helu: $50 billion

The Mexican tycoon owes his fortune to a major ownership in America Movil, a telecommunications multinational worth $42 billion. He personally owns about 7 per cent in the company while his broader family retains a 37 per cent stake. He was ranked as the richest person three years ago, but saw his net worth hit by a downturn in Latin American economies. President-elect Donald Trump's threats to scrap free trade deals and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border have also hurt shares in his business interests. Forbes estimates his net worth dropped $5 billion in the four days after Trump's election.

Jeff Bezos: $45.2 billion

The founder and CEO of Amazon.com helped revolutionize the retail industry by popularizing online shopping. What was initially an online book shop now sells pretty much anything. Bezos has reached beyond Amazon, in which he holds a 17 per cent stake, to try his hand in other industries. He's bought the Washington Post and set up an aerospace company, Blue Origin, that aims to make space accessible to tourists and paying customers.

Mark Zuckerberg: $44.6 billion

Founded Facebook in 2004 while a college student to connect Harvard students. The company went on to become popular globally and listed its shares publicly in 2012, making Zuckerberg, now 32, a multibillionaire. He's managed to make Facebook profitable where rivals like Twitter have lagged, and expanded it with targeted acquisitions. He and his wife have pledged to sell 99 per cent of their holdings in Facebook — over 400 million shares, worth about $50 billion — to support philanthropic causes.

Larry Ellison: $43.6 billion

As a young programmer in the '70s, his first big client was the CIA. The name of the project was "Oracle." In 1977, Ellison and associates used the name of that product for their company, which creates software that helps manage databases and has since become an industry standard. Ellison has recently focused more on cloud computing, in which data is stored and managed across a network of computers. His fortune comes from the 27 per cent stake he still owns in Oracle, currently worth $160 billion.

Michael Bloomberg: $40 billion

Created the eponymous financial information provider in 1981 after getting laid off from an investment bank. Bloomberg made it a lucrative business in particular by selling data terminals to financial services firms. The multi-screen terminals became essential tools in the industry, incorporating real-time market information with a news service. Bloomberg, who reportedly retains an 88 per cent stake in the privately held company, turned to politics in 2001, becoming mayor of New York City for three terms.

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Posted on 01 January 2017 by TSL

The messages that we give to others is in a combination of actions and words. Once spoken, harmful things cannot be taken back and instead can create a darkness for all. Elevate yourself above the realm where negativity exists and dwells. Make a vow to live your life with dignity and decorum so that it can be the platform for your light.

In taking a higher path you can continue on your own quest


There will be those that want to stir the pot and embroil you in their cause. Examine what their purpose is and if it doesn’t bring positive, turn around and walk away. They will continue to try to draw others in, but for you it will not bring you hope. This is the life they have chosen and you are not required to participate in it. In taking a higher path you can continue on your own quest.


Mulling in the details can entrench us in confusion. It can cause frustration and the loss of thought and in that we can lose our way. Step outside the darkened clouds and look out to view the larger scope of things. In this you can tap into your calm and reach out in a positive way. In dignity and honor you can live your life and know in your heart you chose true.



The Times of Sri Lanka wishes our readers’ a Happy New Year 2017

Posted on 31 December 2016 by TSL

The Editor and his team wish all a Happy New Year 2017. 

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. – Oprah Winfrey

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day – Edith Lovejoy Pierce

As you count down the final ten seconds until 2017, it may not register that 24 other parts of the world have already done it. 

Some places are 14 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, the international time standard located on the Greenwich meridian – so who will be first to observe the new year?

The island nations of Samoa, Tonga, and Kiribati will be the first to see 2017.


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The Times of Sri Lanka wishes our readers’ Compliments of the Season & Happy New Year

Posted on 24 December 2016 by TSL

Season’s Greetings. In warm appreciation to our readers' during the year, we extend our very best wishes for a happy holiday season and a splendid New Year. 

2016 was a year of mixed blessings – good news for some and bad news for others. 

In June the country voted to leave the European Union, with 52 per cent of votes cast in favour of Brexit. This new word was one of the most used of 2016, but still no one is quite sure what it means. Theresa May said “Brexit means Brexit” in July. But will it be hard or soft?

The mechanisms for enforcing it are still being worked out. Businesswoman Gina Miller used her own money to bring a legal challenge to ensure that Mrs May cannot trigger Article 50, which will start the disengagement process, without a vote in Parliament — and won. Others tried to stop it with petitions to call for another referendum. But the confusion looks set to continue.

As we look forward to a new year, there’s always a little pang of nostalgia when saying farewell to 365 days of memories. The U.S. Presidential Election and Brexit Referendum captured global attention throughout the year and would certainly take the title of “Most Interesting Events of 2016”. Throughout the year, these two events took centre stage and evoked tremendous interest from east to west, south to north globally.

2016 – Year of the Monkey. The Monkey is the ninth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. It was a crazy year outside the political arena. From nuclear tests in North Korea to a bloodbath in Aleppo, bomb blasts in New York and New Jersey, disturbing home fires, jet plane crashes, the year had it all. As is expected, this year had its highs and lows like any other and let us try and capture the highlights of what happened in 2016.

In Canada, the federal Liberals started the year with so much hope and optimism, freshly elected and full of positive messages. Nearly a year later, the government faces allegations that donors can buy access to Justin Trudeau and some of his cabinet, the firm promise of electoral reform by 2019 seems bound to be ignored, and the economy remains stagnant. Yet Trudeau remains strong in the polls, due in part to having three temporary leaders opposing him: the Conservative, NDP and Bloc Québecois leaders are all either interim or departing in 2017.

January started off on a brutal note when Dubai skyscraper “The Address” burns as the New Year is rung in. World's best chef" French-Swiss Benoît Violier is found dead after apparent suicide weeks after being named world's best. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announces the recapture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, six months after he escaped prison. Winter storm conditions strand 500 motorists for 24 hours on the New Jersey turnpike in Pennsylvania. Blizzard delivers record snow to 80 U.S. states, New York 30 inches of snow. Washington 28 inches at least 15 killed. On a lighter note, three winning tickets were presented for the $1.6 billion record Powerball lottery held in the U.S. In sports – the Australian Open Tennis saw Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams in the 104th Women’s Singles Championships. Novak Djokovic outlasted Andy Murray to win the Men’s singles. Jimmy Butler breaks Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls record for points in a half, scoring 40 of his 42 points in the second half to lead the Bulls in a 115-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

February saw Pope Francis begin his visit to Mexico, arriving at “Benito Juarez” International Airport in Mexico City. Pope Francis meets Patriarch Kirill in Havana – first meeting between Catholic and Russian Orthodox church heads for nearly 1,000 years. Florida Governor Jeb Bush drops from the U.S. Presidential Election. Lock of John Lennon’s hair sells for $35,000 at an auction, Dallas, Texas. At the 88th Academy Awards, Leonardo DiCaprio bags the Best Actor’s award, Brie Larson wins Best Actress Award, “Spotlight” is the Best Picture and Alejandro G. Inarritu is Best Director. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits Taiwan and kills at least 59 people. U.S. President Barack Obama announces plans to visit Cuba next month. It is another major step in renewed relations between Cuba and the United States since the last and only president to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge in 1928.


March welcomed the World’s Richest Man – Bill Gates with $75 billion as per Forbes Richest List. Longest non-stop scheduled commercial flight by distance, Emirates A380 flies 14,200km (8,824 miles) Dubai to Auckland in 17 hours, 15 minutes. U.S. astronauts Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko return to earth after nearly a year (340 days), setting an ISS record. President Valdimir Putin order Russian troops out of Syria.  Barak Obama becomes the first US President to visit Cuba since 1928, arriving for a 2-day tour. English footballer Adam Johnson sentenced to 6 years in prison for sexual activity with a schoolgirl.


April breaks in as Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigns after the Panama Papers leak show a conflict of interest. San Francisco becomes the first US city to mandate paid parental leave.  Iranian run-off elections give moderates and reforms a majority in parliament. ICC World Twenty20 Tournament won by the West Indies, beating England by 4 wickets with 2 balls to spare at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.


May welcomes the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city as Sadiq Khan (L) is elected Mayor of London, England. Rodrigo Duterte wins Philippine presidential election, promising war on drug trade and killing of criminals. Indian fertility clinic announces that a 70-year old woman has successfully gave birth to a baby boy.  EgyptAir flight MS804 goes missing over the Mediterranean on route Paris to Cairo. Independent Alexander Van der Bellen defeats Freedom Party's Norbert Hofer by just 31,000 votes to become President in Austrian elections.


June saw United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union in their "Brexit" referendum. British Prime Minister David Cameron resigns after the UK votes to leave the European Union. U.S. President Barack Obama officially endorsing Hillary Clinton as Democratic Presidential nominee. Rome elects its first female Mayor Virginia Raggi (Five Star Movement) and its youngest at 37. Ceasefire agreement signed between Colombian government and Farc rebels – ending more than 50 years of conflict. Portuguese Professional Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first footballer to top Forbes’ Highest-paid Athletes List, $88 million. NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers win their first title defeating Golden State Warriors 4–3 – 1st team to overcome 3–1 deficit.


July ushered in Theresa May as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by Conservative Party MPs. Islamic militants storm a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 20 hostages and 2 police, country's worse terror attack. Large lorry bomb in Baghdad kills at least 125 people and wounds 150, Islamic State claims responsibility. Attempted military coup in Turkey fails, nearly 300 killed, 6,000 then arrested. South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to 6 years in jail for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. 123rd Wimbledon Open Tennis tournament, Serena Williams beat Angelique Kerber to win the championships. Williams equals Steffi Graf’s 22 grand slam singles titles. Britain’s Andy Murray beats Canadian Milos Raonic to win the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championships.


August was the hottest month measured since contemporary records began in 1880, according to a NASA analysis. It was not only the hottest August ever, but also it ties July 2016 as the hottest month ever—an extraordinary occurrence. In other words, we just lived through the hottest month in meteorological history and likely in human history. And then you did it again.  A 6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes central Italy, killing at least 290 people. The 6.2 magnitude quake, which sent residents fleeing their homes and running into the streets, is Italy's deadliest since a 2009 quake in the same area. It is now feared that Wednesday's quake could claim even more lives than the 2009 one.

September saw  Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who devoted her life to helping India's poor, is declared a saint in a canonization Mass held by Pope Francis in the Vatican. North Korea claims to have detonated a nuclear warhead. A Brazilian judge rules that there is enough evidence for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his wife and six others to stand trial on corruption charges, relating to the state-run oil company Petrobus.

October turned out to be unpredictable. There were a few natural disasters that shook the world. Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti, tearing through the small Caribbean nation with 125 mph winds and heavy rains that flood villages, raze crops, sweep away cattle and cut off parts of the island. The official death toll is more than 500. At least 61 people are killed and 117 injured when militants attack a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan. More than 70 people are killed and 600 others injured when an overloaded train derails in central Cameroon.

November was an important month from a political viewpoint. Two historical events occurred. First was the unprecedented victory of Republican candidate DONALD TRUMP at the U.S. General Election. The first half of month belonged entirely to president-elect of the United States of America – DONALD TRUMP.  He did the impossible to win the election defeating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on November 8. A plane crashes near Medellin, Colombia, killing more than 70 people, including members of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense. The Chicago Cubs won their first Baseball World Series since 1908, by defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a 10 inning Game 7 at Progressive in Cleveland. The second half of the month belonged to Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro who passed away on November 25. Castro governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976, and then as President from 1976 to 2008.

December – Lawmakers in South Korea's National Assembly vote, 234-56, to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. Forty-four people, mostly police officers, are killed and 155 wounded in twin bombings in Istanbul. The explosions, one large blast followed by a smaller one, occurred after a heavily attended soccer game at Besiktas Vodafone Arena.

Celebrity deaths in 2016: The famous faces gone too soon – from Leonard Cohen to Prince and David Bowie to Muhammad Ali and Gordie Howe.

We remember the famous people who have sadly passed on this year and reflect on the lasting memories they have left behind. Natalie Cole, R&B singer and daughter of music legend Nat "King" Cole, died New Year's Eve at age 65 from heart failure caused by lung disease. David Bowie died Jan. 10, two days after his 69th birthday, after an 18-month secret battle with cancer. Rene Angelil, husband and manager of Celine Dion, died Jan. 14 of cancer at age 73. The "My Heart Will Go On" singer's brother Daniel Dion died two days later. Alan Rickman, "Harry Potter" actor and "Die Hard" villain, died of cancer at 69 on Jan. 14. Glenn Frey, The Eagles guitarist and co-founder, died at 67 on Jan. 18. Frey co-wrote hits like "Hotel California" with Don Henley. George Martin, the "Fifth Beatle" best known as a producer for The Beatles, died March 8 at 90. Frank Sinatra Jr., singer and son of Ol' Blue Eyes, died March 16 of cardiac arrest at 72. Patty Duke, Oscar and Emmy-winning actress, former child star and mother of "Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin, died March 29 of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at 69. Merle Haggard, country music legend who had more than 30 No. 1 hits, died April 6 on his 79th birthday. Prince, music legend behind hits "Purple Rain," "When Doves Cry," "Batdance," "1999," "Kiss" and others, died April 21 at 57. Muhammad Ali, the boxing legend born Cassius Clay, died June 3 at 74 after a long battle with Parksinson's disease. Gordie Howe, the four-time Stanley Cup champion and NHL legend known as "Mr. Hockey," died June 10 at 88. Ricci Martin, singer and youngest son of Dean Martin, died Aug. 3 at 62. Gene Wilder, comedy legend who starred in classic movies like "Young Frankenstein" and "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," died Aug. 28 at age 83. Arnold Palmer, golf legend known as "The King," died Sept. 25 at 87. Bobby Vee, '60s teen idol who replaced Buddy Holly and helped Bob Dylan get his start, died Oct. 24 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease at 73. Alan Thicke, TV dad on "Growing Pains," died Dec. 13 at 69 after a heart attack. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and a former U.S. senator, died Dec. 8 at 95.


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Worldwide Travel Inc. announces special return airfares from Washington DC to Colombo, Sri Lanka

Posted on 06 September 2016 by TSL



PERSONAL ATTENTION: CALL MINI 202-355-9901 Extension 908


Call 866-585-2960 and book your return flight from Washington DC to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Book your Washington (DCA) to Colombo (CMB) flight with our Best Price Guarantee.

Qatar Airways – $849.00 U.S. Includes all taxes
Emirates – $939.00 U.S. Includes all taxes
Etihad Airlines – $869.00 U.S. Includes all taxes


Worldwide Travel Inc. is an enterprising travel and tour company interested in breaking into the thriving South Asian market in North America. Worldwide Travel Inc. was established in 1975 in the capital city of Washington in the District of Columbia. With its head office in the District of Columbia and our various branch offices, Worldwide Travel Inc. covers the entire span of the United States from the east to the west coasts. Visit their website www.goflyhome.com 

Since its humble beginnings in 1975, Worldwide Travel Inc. has become one of the largest airline consolidators in America serving travel destinations to India and the Subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Africa, Indonesia and the rest of the world.

Worldwide Travel Inc. has special contracted fares with most major airlines operating to and from the United States and also represents all airlines in the world. 



1026 16th St NW #104, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Live help –  1-800-343-0038

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KAREN USHA GRAY – An accomplished soloist turning heads in Canada

Posted on 07 August 2016 by TSL

Versatile soprano Karen Gray

Versatile soprano Karen Gray

By Upali Obeyesekere – Editor, The Times of Sri Lanka.

There are but a few Canadians of Sri Lankan Origin who possess latent talent in music – be it vocals or playing an instrument. Most leave this God-given gift at home while a handful reaches out for the stars! One such person who has reaching out is Karen Usha Gray. She has entered into a musical collaboration with Silver Lining Promotions and launched a 12-track album titled, “Rainbow in the Cloud”. Karen is an accomplished soprano with the ability to transcend her classical training and bring her versatility to the genres of gospel, jazz & contemporary music. She is hoping that her dream will become a reality with your support. The songs reflect her life and faith; she wants to share her passion for music with the world. The CD will launch just in time for Christmas!

Tracing the life of this talented soloist was quite revealing. Karen Usha Sabaratnam was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and showed promise from an early age. As a child, Karen had her baptism in singing while at Mt. Lavinia Methodist Church which led to voice training at age 4. Her performance at age 8 in 1985, at BMICH at the International Youth Festival of Song where she opened the show with Somehere Over the Rainbow from Wizard of Oz brought in rave reviews. This also marked the beginning of Karen’s musical journey that has been quite rewarding.

Two years later in 1987, she took part in The Young Performers’ Concert and was highly commended. Extract from a news item in the mainstream local print media states thus, “We have a promising young soloist with a bright future before her. She is Karen Sabaratnam, a 10 year-old from the Tiny Tots School. She has a wonderful voice for one so young”. In 1994 she was picked as the Most Promising Artist at the Island Music Awards. She also won the top prize in the vocal category in the Kandos Talent Search that earned her a singing contract at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

A leading newspaper had this to say after this performance, “Classical singer Karen Sabaratnam is the type of performer who feels very comfortable in any atmosphere and really sings with ease without imitating the original”.

In 1990, she took the lead role in the musical Oklahoma as “Laurie” which further demonstrated her natural talent as a classical singer. In 1992, she had the distinction of been selected Queen of Karaoke organized by The Sunday Times & Mount Lavinia Hotel. Her fans loved her genial demeanour. In 1993, she represented Sri Lanka in the International Choir organized by the “World Scholar Athletic Games” held in Rhode Island, USA. She was picked the most promising artist and carried away the Coca Cola Trophy for The Most Outstanding Artist at the Island Music Awards. She also had a lead role in the production of “Tribute to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber” the same year. This period saw her emerging as a classical vocalist of repute.

Well known Sri Lankan Features Writer Sukumar Rockwood had this to say about Karen Sabaratnam in the Sunday Observer of December 27, 1992. “The songs she sang – one from the play Cats and the other from a Whitney Houston album amply justified the original songs. However, she gave the songs her own style which resulted in a brilliant performance. She sings like a nightingale”.

Karen has earned voice performance certificates from programs conducted by the Royal & Trinity College Schools of Music, London, England and Royal Conservatory of Music, Canada. In addition, she has picked up numerous awards for vocal, speech and drama. Her passion and innate talent for the theatre has led to lead roles in popular musicals and operatic performances in Sri Lanka, New York and Australia. She is highly regarded as a soloist in classical and contemporary music.

Karen immigrated to Canada in 1996, and has made Toronto her home. She is the daughter of triple international sports star Mahes Sabaratnam (Rugby, Boxing & Weightlifting) and his wife Vasundera. Rugby fans would recall the dashing wing three-quarter from Kandy Lake Club, Kandy Sports Club and CR & FC who dazzled the crowd in the sixties with his brawn and speed. Mahes Sabaratnam was called, “The Kandy Express” for his daunting speed and sizzling runs on the rugby fields in Colombo, Kandy and up-country.

In Toronto, Karen teaches children’s music programs through Toronto and Markham Public Libraries. She shares her natural talent by performing as a soloist at Concerts and places of religious worship for Charitable Organizations. Karen is confident that she could continue her musical journey following the success of the launch of the CD. She would like the support of the Sri Lankan community in Toronto. 

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Novartis asthma pill shows promise in small trial

Posted on 06 August 2016 by TSL

ReutersThe first new asthma pill in decades has produced promising results in a small clinical trial, potentially paving the way for another treatment option for patients by the end of the decade.

Fevipiprant, which is being developed by Novartis, reduced a biological marker of asthma nearly five-fold in the 12-week trial involving 61 patients, researchers said on Saturday. No serious adverse events were reported.

Larger and longer studies are now needed to prove that the twice-daily pill can also reduce severe asthma attacks, known as exacerbations. Novartis believes the medicine could be filed for regulatory approval in around 2019.

Pills for asthma used to be standard treatment 40 or 50 years ago, but those older products were often associated with worrying side effects. They have since been replaced by inhalers that deliver small amounts of drugs directly into the lungs.

The Novartis pill works in a very precise way to block the action of inflammatory cells called eosinophils.

The latest research, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, comes at a time of considerable innovation in asthma care, with the recent launch of new injectable drugs for severe asthma that also target eosinophils.

At the same time, many drugmakers are developing improved asthma inhalers, including "smart" devices with sensors that monitor use.


(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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History of the Colombo Plan

Posted on 05 August 2016 by TSL

Colombo Plan



By: Upali Obeyesekere – Editor, TSL.

The Colombo Plan is a regional organization that embodies the concept of collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary focus of all Colombo Plan activities is on human resources development.

HISTORY – The organization was born out of a Commonwealth Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in January 1950. At this meeting, a plan was established to provide a framework within which international cooperation efforts could be promoted to raise the standards of people in the region. Originally conceived as lasting for a period of six years, the Colombo Plan was extended several times until 1980, when it was extended indefinitely. Initially it was called the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. It has grown from a group of seven Commonwealth nations – Australia, Britain, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand and Pakistan – into an international organization of 26, including non-Commonwealth countries. When it adopted a new constitution in 1977, its name was changed to "The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific" to reflect the expanded composition of its enhanced membership and the scope of its activities.

In the early years, Colombo Plan assistance from developed to developing countries comprised both transfer of physical capital and technology as well as a strong component of skills development. Hence, while infrastructure by way of airports, roads, railways, dams, hospitals, fertilizer plants, cement factories, universities, and steel mills were constructed in member countries through Colombo Plan assistance, a large number of people were simultaneously trained to manage such infrastructure and the growing economies.


The Colombo Plan is not intended as an integrated master plan to which national plans were expected to conform. It is, instead, a framework for bi-lateral arrangements involving foreign aid and technical assistance for the economic and social development of the region.


  • To promote interest in and support for the economic and social development of Asia and the Pacific;
  • To promote technical cooperation and assist in the sharing and transfer of technology among member countries;
  • To keep under review relevant information on technical cooperation between the member governments, multilateral and other agencies with a view to accelerating development through cooperative effort;
  • To facilitate the transfer and sharing of the developmental experiences among member countries within the region with emphasis on the concept of South-South cooperation.

Organizational structure

The principal organs of the Colombo Plan are – the Consultative Committee, the Council and the Secretariat. Administrative costs of the Council and Secretariat are borne equally by the 25 member countries.

  • The Consultative Committee (CCM), comprises all member governments and is the highest review and policy making body of the Colombo Plan. Its biennial meetings provide a forum for the exchange of views on current development problems facing member countries and review the work of the Colombo Plan in economic and social development within the region.
  • The Colombo Plan Council, comprises heads of diplomatic missions of member governments who are resident in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The President of the Council is nominated from among member countries annually on an alphabetical rotational basis. The Council meets every quarterly to identify important development issues facing its members and ensure the smooth implementation of the Consultative Committee's decisions.
  • The Colombo Plan Secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General is located in Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 1951 and functions as the secretariat for the Consultative Committee and the Council. The Secretariat is responsible for the effective administration and implementation of the programmes of the Colombo Plan, in partnership with member countries and collaborating agencies.


A special characteristic of the Colombo Plan is that the administrative costs of the Council and the Secretariat are borne equally by all member countries. However, the training programmes of the Colombo Plan are voluntarily funded by traditional as well as newly emerging donors among its member countries. Developing member countries are also encouraged to meet local currency costs whenever training programmes are held in their respective countries. The Colombo Plan training programmes are also funded by contributions from non-member governments and regional/international organizations.

In a speech made in Colombo on 5 July 2010, current Secretary General Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia said: "The gearing up of the level of our activities is made possible through the voluntary contributions of member countries and international agencies such as OPEC fund. Last year our programming was over US$10 million and we expect a more than US$12 million programming this year with almost another US$2 million in terms of cost-sharing from our member countries. With funding from the United States Government and 13 other member countries, the Colombo Plan is now the biggest stakeholder in drug demand reduction in the Asia-Pacific, with a special initiative in Afghanistan."


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Niagara Falls, Canada – my favourite place to visit

Posted on 29 July 2016 by TSL

By: Upali Obeyesekere - Managing Editor, TSL

By: Upali Obeyesekere – Managing Editor, TSL

Niagara Falls, Canada is an exciting city on the edge of the Niagara Gorge, at the site of the famous Niagara Falls. The city itself can best be described as quirky, with a carnival atmosphere showcasing all kinds of amusements, but its strategic location has made it one of the top tourist centers in Canada. The falls are easily reached by just a short walk along the main street that runs down Clifton Hill leading to the gorge. Three bridges link the city of Niagara Falls with its American counterpart, all of them with fine views into the gorge that divides the two.

Below are some of the fascinating attractions that makes Niagara Falls my favourite tourist spot in Canada.

1 Niagara Falls are some of the largest, most beautiful, and most famous waterfalls in the world. There are three parts to the falls, but the two main sections are the concaveHorseshoe Falls, 640 meters across running from the Canadian shore to the American shore, and the American Falls, about 330 meters across, in the State of New York. There is also a small third section located between these two, known as Bridal Veil Falls. On the Canadian side of the falls, a walkway stretches from above the falls all the way along the edge of the gorge, providing spectacular views. At night, the falls are lit up in different colors.

Visitors can stand along a railing close to where the water tumbles 57 meters over the edge into the gorge. Just behind the viewing area is the Table Rock Welcome Centrewith a restaurant overlooking the falls, shops, and an information and ticket booth where visitors can purchase tickets to the various attractions and tours.

Below the falls, the Niagara River flows through the deep walls of the gorge, between 80 meters and 300 meters across, forming the Whirlpool Rapids as the gorge narrows. The waters eventually flow into Lake Ontario.

2 Journey Behind the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls offers a close up view of the falls from the base of Horseshoe Falls. From the Table Rock Welcome Centre, an elevator takes visitors down 45 meters to tunnels with viewing portals behind the falls and an observation deck near the lower edge of the falls. From here, visitors can look up at the wall of water coming over Horseshoe Falls and feel the rush of mist on their faces. This view offers a unique perspective and a completely different experience than viewing the falls from above.

 3. Skylon Tower

Skylon Tower

Skylon Tower

At a height of more than 235 meters above the falls, the Skylon Tower offers a spectacular bird's eye view of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Escarpment, and the city. The tower features an indoor/outdoor observation area and two restaurants. TheRevolving Dining Room is an upscale revolving restaurant, while the Summit Suite Buffet is a more mid-range family oriented establishment. Access to the observation decks is free for those who are dining at the tower.

4 Hornblower Cruises

Hornblower Cruises

Hornblower Cruises 

Hornblower Cruises take visitors on close up tours to the base of all three falls in 700-passenger catamaran boats. There are different tour options, but cruises run all day and into the evening. This is a wet experience, and rain jackets are provided. Since the Maid of the Mist stopped operating out of Canada, this is the only boat tour option from the Canadian side that takes visitors to the base of the falls.

5 Whirlpool Aero Car

Whirlpool Aero Car

Whirlpool Aero Car

The Whirlpool Aero Car is an antique cable car in continuous operation since 1916 suspended above the roiling waters of the Whirlpool Rapids. Visitors can take a ten-minute trip over this portion of the Niagara River for a unique view of the powerful currents swirling around in a massive whirlpool below. The Niagara Aero Car travels approximately one kilometer from one side of the gorge to the other and can hold 35 standing people per trip.

6 Niagara Parkway

Niagara Parkway

Niagara Parkway 


The Niagara Parkway is a scenic drive running from Niagara-on-the-Lake, past Niagara Falls to Fort Erie, following the gorge. The road, lined by parks and green space, has many interesting sights along the way where visitors can stop. Some of the most popular features along the parkway are the Floral ClockWhirlpool Rapids, and the Butterfly Conservatory. A paved pathway for walking and biking runs alongside the Niagara Parkway.

7. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours Desrosiers Photo


Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours operate out of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a short drive from Niagara Falls, and take visitors on thrilling jet boat rides through class 5 whitewater rapids. Tours are in open boats during the summer and dome covered boats in the spring and fall. Visitors should prepare to get wet! Tours are also educational, offering information on the geology and history of the area.

Address: 61 Melville Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake

8 MarineLand




MarineLand is one of Southern Ontario's biggest summertime family attractions. The facility is both a full scale amusement park with all kinds of rides and games, and an impressive marine park with shows featuring whales and dolphins. Located in Niagara Falls, Marineland is also a popular day trip from Toronto and the surrounding area.

Address: 7657 Portage Road, Niagara Falls

9 Niagara-on-the-Lake

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel   

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a quaint little town on the shores of Lake Ontario just a 20-minute drive from Niagara Falls along the Niagara Parkway. The town has a strong mid 19th-century appearance owing largely to its history. During the war of 1812, part of the town was razed and as a result, much of the original architecture was built in the years following the war. Building by-laws have since ensured that newer architecture is built in similar style, resulting in this charming town where horse-drawn carriages pulling tourists through the streets blend beautifully with the old-style buildings. Some tours of Niagara Falls, particularly those from Toronto, include stops in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where visitors can wander through the shops or enjoy a meal. The area is particularly lovely in fall with the changing color of the leaves.

Where to Stay in Niagara Falls for Sightseeing

While it may seem obvious, the best place to stay in Niagara Falls is as close to the falls as possible, preferably within walking distance. This will also put you in the vicinity of Clifton Hill, the main tourist area, where there are many restaurants and other attractions. Below are some highly-rated hotels in good locations:

  • Luxury Hotels: Offering spectacular views of the Horseshoe Falls, the Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa has well-appointed rooms and a highly regarded steakhouse. The Sheraton on the Falls also offers amazing views and, with an indoor waterpark, is a very good option for families. This hotel lies in the heart of the attractions of Clifton Hills and within walking distance to the falls themselves. The well positioned Hilton Niagara Falls is a large property with falls-view rooms and suites, and the WEGO shuttle to local attractions stops right in front of the hotel.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: The Radisson Hotel & Suites offers oversized rooms and suites with views of the falls through large windows, as well as two restaurants and an indoor pool. A 10-minute walk from Clifton Hill and 20 minutes from the falls is the recently renovated and centrally located Courtyard Niagara Falls. This hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool. Two blocks from the falls, theDoubleTree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton features an indoor saltwater pool, rooms with mini refrigerators, and some rooms looking out to the American Falls.
  • Budget Hotels: A five-minute drive to Clifton Hill and the falls is the The Rex Motel, a small property with themed rooms at a budget rate. The Country Inn & Suites is a short walk from Clifton Hill and a longer walk to the falls. This hotel features standard rooms, suites with separate living areas, an indoor pool, and a complimentary hot buffet breakfast. A 10-minute drive from Niagara Falls, but ideally situated close to Marineland, is the Niagara Parkway Court, with clean and comfortable rooms.

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