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The Latest: Elvis fans mark 40th anniversary of his death

Posted on 18 August 2017 by admin



The Latest on the candlelight vigil at Graceland commemorating the death of Elvis Presley (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Elvis Presley fans in a long line are making the slow, solemn walk up the driveway of Graceland to pay their respects to the late singer on the 40th anniversary of his death.

Thousands of devotees of the rock 'n' roll icon lined up for hours to save their places in the procession Tuesday night. They held candles and walked along the graves of Presley and his relatives at the Meditation Garden at Graceland, his former home-turned-museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Priscilla Presley, the performers' former wife, and Lisa Marie Presley, their daughter, thanked the crowd for their love and dedication.

Fans from around the world come to Graceland each year on the anniversary of Presley's death to honor his life and career. He died in Memphis on Aug. 16, 1977.

For the first time in nearly four decades, fans had to pay a fee to participate in the candlelight vigil, which runs into Wednesday. Fans were able to watch the vigil from the street in front of Graceland, free of charge.


4:24 p.m.

For the first time in nearly four decades, Elvis Presley fans who visit Graceland this week to commemorate the anniversary of his death will have to pay $28.75 to walk past his grave.

Many fans are not happy.

Graceland told the Associated Press in a written statement that visitors who attend the vigil beginning Tuesday night and running into Wednesday must have an Elvis Week Property Pass wristband. The $28.75 wristband also provides access to a new $45 million entertainment complex.

Graceland, operated by Elvis Presley Enterprises, says it anticipates large crowds and it has updated its security measures for Elvis Week, the annual celebration of Presley's life and career. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis.

Some fans are saying they won't attend another vigil.

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Intel Dethroned by Samsung as No. 1 Chipmaker

Posted on 01 August 2017 by admin

Samsung's Strong Performance.

Samsung reported strong second-quarter financial results for its semiconductor unit, whose performance depends largely on memory chips used in mobile devices, The Journal reported. For the period, this unit produced an operating profit of $7.1 billion on $15.7 billion in sales. Intel, on the other hand, reported operating profit of $3.8 billion and revenue of $14.8 billion during the quarter. (For more, see also: Inside Intel: A Look At The Mega Chipmaker.)

Over the last year, Samsung has benefited from a sharp increase in demand for memory, a development that has caused the price of its memory chips to surge, according to The Journal. Because of these tailwinds, the price of NAND chips, used for data storage, and DRAM chips, crucial to multitasking speed, have climbed 50% and 115% in the last year, figures provided by market research firm DRAMeXchange show.

Continued Strength

While Samsung generated notable results in the second quarter, many believe this robust performance will continue, Reuters reported. "Looking ahead to the third quarter, the company expects favorable semiconductor conditions to continue," Samsung said when announcing its second-quarter results. However, the company noted that "overall earnings may slightly decline" quarter-over-quarter as the earnings generated by the company's display and mobile businesses decline.


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How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years

Posted on 01 August 2017 by admin

By: Ajit Kanagasundram.

The world today is desperate to attract foreign talent. Thirty percent of Silicon Valley startups are by Indians, and the same percentage is true of Microsoft employees, NASA employees and US physicians. Canada and Australia have long had a point system to attract talent and the US and the UK are thinking of adopting a similar system in place of their current family re-union system. Even Germany has a special Visa quota for software professionals from India.

Singapore preceded all these countries by being open from the inception to foreign talent as it knew that they were required for it to meet its ambition to become a regional and then global hub for trade, manufacturing and finance.Lee Kwan Yew openly alluded to the fact that he depended on Jaffna Tamils as a resource to build up Singapore in the early years. This article will try and describe their significant and unique contributions spanning the five decades of Singapore’s existence as an independent nation.

The Jaffna Tamils hail from the arid North of Sri Lanka and the only advantages they had was their native intelligence and an excellent education system set up by American missionaries. The Jaffna Tamils valued education above all else and the education system the missionaries set up emphasized the English Language and mathematics.The British valued this education and The Jaffna Tamil propensity for hard work and recruited them for the minor government positions such as clerks and station master both in colonial Ceylon and in the Federated States of Malaysia and Singapore.

It was said that in the 1930s you could travel by train from Singapore to the Thailand border and every station master enroute would be a Jaffna Tamil! It was their descendants who were to play such a significant role in the history of Singapore as an independent nation. The contribution of the Ceylon Tamils were in four main areas – politics and government, law, medicine and sports and I will describe each separately.

In politics,the first major Ceylonese participant was S.Rajaratnam, who was Lee Kwan Yew’s comrade-in- arms in the struggle for independence and closest confidante. He was Foreign Minister for many years, one of the founders of ASEAN and wrote the National Pledge which is still recited in schools today. In later years when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, LKY visited him at his home and despite being normally undemonstrative, came away in tears. Today the descendants of Ceylon Tamils in politics are Tharman Shanmugaratnam the Deputy PM in overall charge of the economy, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Mrs Indranee Rajah.

No account of Singapore politicians howeveris complete without a reference to J B Jayartanam, the first opposition MP in parliament. He was a thorn in theside of the government and ended as a bankrupt because of the law cases he lost. Though a failed politician, when he died the Economist wrote a special obituary about him praising his courage and steadfastness to his principles – a rare tribute accorded usually to major statesmen.

In administration, the most prominent example was J Y M Pillay, who was the first Chairman of SIA, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Chairman of DBS and Managing Director of MAS, holding many of these posts simultaneously! He was later the High Commissioner in London. LKY referred to him as his most efficient and outstanding public servant – rare praise from a man who expected nothing less than superior performance from all his subordinates. He is now in the Presidential Council of Advisors and a special advisor to the Pope on financial matters. Many Ceylonese were attracted to SIA – I have already talked of the first Chairman J Y M Pillai but there were others like Vijendran Alfreds who was the area manager for North America, Captain Kandasamy, an early Chief Pilot and Maurice de Vaz ( a Ceylon burgher) , who was Director of Flight Operations, and Kulaserkeram who was the Finance Director.

Another area was law. Four Supreme Court judges till the mid 1980s were Ceylon Tamils – Justice Sinnadurai, Justice AP Rajah ( also later High Commissioner in London), Justice Punch Coomaraswamy (also later the Speaker of Parliament ), and justice Kulendran the most senior Supreme Court Justice. There were many in the private bar, and many of them took on the cases of the marginalized like drug cases and did it pro bono. They also excelled in Commercial law likeSharmilaGunasingham( who is also a talented Barathanatyam dancer) and KayalViswalingam. The number of Ceylonese law graduates dropped significantly from the early eighties as it was said that the government restricted their entry into the law faculty for the entirely sensible reason thatthey would become troublemakers!

In medicine, a quartet of medical professionals paved the way to Singapore becoming a medical hub in Asia. Professor S.S Ratnam, who pioneered in–vitro- fertilization, Professor JeyarajJeyaratnam, who did the seminal research work on the link between using pesticides and human health and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Medal by the World Occupational Health Association, the only individual to be thus honoured so far. Professor Arul Kumar Sabaratnam, born in Jaffna and educated at the Ceylon Medical College, who is a citizen of Singapore and went on from a teaching post at NUS in Singapore to be Professor of Gynecology at Birmingham University. Hewas also elected as the President of the Royal Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the President of the British Medical Association and the President of International Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was knighted by the Queen recently.

Dr. Puvenendran – another Sri Lankan bred and trained doctor – was for many years the head of Neurology at the Singapore General Hospital, which he made a center of excellence not only for Singapore but for theregion and trained many generations of young doctors. He also set up the Sleep Disorder Clinic and still consults for it. Another prominent Ceylonese doctor was my namesake Professor Kanagasundram, who taught Anatomy in the Singapore Medical College and whenever I visit a doctor here, I am asked if we are related – unfortunately we are not – as he left such an indelible memory of good teaching. He later retired to teach in Jaffna, even during the War!

In sports,Vijayratnam, the Chief Engineer of the PSA,also designed the layout of Changi Airport . He captained the Singapore hockey team at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 while also representing Singapore in cricket, rugby and football as well. Jegathesan, who won gold medals for Singapore in the 100 metres, 200 meters and 100X4 relay in the Asian games in 1962 in Jakarta. His American coach said of him that if he would come back with him to train in the US, he would guarantee a medal in sprinting in the forthcoming Olympic games in Tokyo. Instead Jegathesan preferred to concentrate on his medical studies and retired as the head of the MRI in Malaysia and is an internationally recognized expert on sports medicine and especially doping. At the next Asian games, Kunalan, another Sri Lankan Tamil, won gold for Singapore in the 100 meters and 200 meters sprint.

Education was another area to which the Ceylonese gravitated to and where they excelled as teachers, particularly of Mathematics. About ten years ago, Goh Chok Tong visited Raffles Institution at a tribute gathering for MrThambyah, his former mathematics teacher (who also later tutored my eldest son). Two well know educationists were Sigamoney and Eugene Wijesinghe( a Sinhalese), who were the headmaster of Raffles Institution, the premier secondary school. My wife’s Uncle, Nathan Vanniasingham, was the Deputy Director of Education and there were many others I do not know of. When we arrived in Singapore,the headmaster of the nearest Primary school was Ratnagopal, who admitted my three children without a test as they had so far been educated only in Tamil. After struggling for a year they excelled in their studies and later got admission to ACS Secondary and Junior College.

Many Ceylonese Tamils, up to thirty , were recruited to help design the early HDB flats as were lecturers for the Engineering faculty. These young men, common to many in their homeland, excelled at Cricket and made the Celylon Sports club the inter-club champion for many years. Sadly all of them without exception moved on to Australia to allow their children to be educated in a less competitive environment.

The only area that the Ceylonese did not play any significant role (except JYM Pillay who was Chairman DBS) was in Banking and Finance. The only exceptions are myself and Alan Pathmarajah, who was the Secretary to the Board of OCBC after Tony Tan and later Chairman of its Subsidiary, Great Eastern Life. This may have been due to overt discriminations as when I came to Singapore, virtually as a refugee from the communal violence in Sri Lanka in 1983, and applied for Citibank, I was denied a position as the Senior local management did not want to recruit a “Third World candidate “. I was however recruited on the insistence of the Head of the bank, an Englishman called Nick Greville who was impressed by my Cambridge University credentials, and by Annie Wee (the Financial Institution Head) who said “He is not an Indian but a Ceylonese and they are different!”. I went on to head technology for all twelve Citibank businesses in Asia Pacific , including Japan and Australia, and establish Citibank’s largest technology hub developing software for global operations, employing at its height 1800 staff in high paying jobs – just one example of what immigrants can contribute.

There were other areas where Ceylonese contributed, like B P de Silva( Sinhalese), whose family still run an upscale jewelry shop and are the agents for Omega watches and contributed to making Singapore a shopping magnet for tourists. The Bishop of the Methodist Church is Bishop Rennis Ponniah.

No essay on Ceylonese in Singapore is complete without a reference to those of mixed race. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Mrs. Indranee Rajah are examples. The most remarkable is the family of Dr. Murugasu, all of whose children not only did brilliantly academically but two were President’s scholars. A unique achievement. One of the family, Christopher, worked with me in Citibank and was talented enough to have reached the top. But he preferred to leave in his forties to do pro-bono work on behalf of charitable causes for the Catholic church!

Four recent weddings I attended were marriages of young Ceylonese descended boys to Singaporean Chinese girls. This is a growing and welcome trend and the off spring will be truly integrated Singaporeans with the best qualities of both parents’ lineages.

I hope my brief description has given readers an idea of the special and indeed unique contribution to Singapore’s economic and social fabric of a small minority from Sri Lanka. Today the Singapore government rightly have stopped unrestricted migration, except for entrepreneurs who will bring in new technology and jobs.But it is important to remember our history and our rich and varied heritage.

(To be Continued)

The writer welcomes feedback on email which he will respond to individually ~ 

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The Coconut Tree exporting SL culture to Cheltenham, UK

Posted on 31 July 2017 by admin

Fascinating story behind Sri Lankan restaurant ranked no.1 on Trip Advisor in Cheltenham.

The Coconut Tree is a popular Sri Lankan restaurant in Cheltenham which is rated 5 stars by Trip Advisor. It’s known for its freshly made, authentic cuisine and friendly staff. But what is exactly is the story behind the restaurant? How did it come to be? In December 2016, five young Sri Lankans opened The Coconut Tree.

The friends met at school aged 11, near their home in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Parveen Thangiah, the chef, was the first to move to the UK in 2004 with the rest of his family to live in Croydon, because he wanted to be closer to their family that already lived in the area.

Rashinthe Rodrigo, the General Manager of the Coconut Tree, chose to join the chef in 2006 after being given the choice to continue studies in Australia or the UK. In 2008, Danushka Fernando and Tiranjan Fernando moved to the UK and the four began to share a house in Croydon whilst they completed their studies.

Mithra Fernando joined the crew in 2015, and living in Cheltenham, he offered Rashinthe a job in accountancy which led the boys to all move to Cheltenham together. In 2016, the crew had to move out from their flat together and came across the flat above St. Pauls Tavern, combined with the rental of the pub. With the cheap rent and motivation to get out of the 9-5 box, they began planning for The Coconut Tree. Their original idea was a small Sri Lankan inspired tapas bar, so students could have a trendy place to eat and drink. They moved in to the building in May 2016, and spent six months renovating the bar and flat by themselves, as an evening project after work. The team worked together from day one as they designed the interior by themselves, taking on their own tasks such as Tiranjan doing the tiling, and Rashinthe painting the walls. Parveen, a born feeder, kept supplying the team with food as they worked, which lead to the inspiration behind the menu.

After six months of opening, the team became no.1 on Trip Advisor in the local area. Due to their success, they have plans to expand to Bristol, to continue their journey of introducing people to the Sri Lankan culture.

They want to take the same concept to give people more opportunities, and supply their unique food and cocktails to new people.

Rashinthe Rodrigo said: “One thing you can expect from us is good hospitality, culture and a smile. We want to bring our culture to Cheltenham.”


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Judge declares mistrial in Bill Cosby trial

Posted on 17 June 2017 by admin

Courtesy: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today Published 9:35 a.m. CT June 17, 2017.


 NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The judge in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial has declared a mistrial, several news outlets are reporting.

Deliberations broke off deliberating late Friday after a fifth day with no verdict, but were to resume in an effort to resolve an impasse among jurors.

After the jury retired for the night, Cosby for the first time spoke to supporters outside the courthouse, according to video on Twitter. Earlier in the evening, a group of supporters sent up an impromptu chant of “let Bill go,” punctuated by shouts of “hey, hey, hey,” in the style of Cosby’s Fat Albert comedy character, in a demonstration near the front steps of the courthouse.

When Cosby left the courthouse, he paused and spoke to media cameras, thanking the jury for its work and urging supporters to remain "calm."

The jury has deliberated more than 50 hours since it got the case late Monday. Friday was Day 10 of the trial, another grueling 12-hour day during which an exasperated Judge Steven O'Neill rejected multiple motions for a mistrial from Cosby's defense team while dealing th a slew of questions and requests for testimony read-backs from the jury.

The seven men and five women on the panel announced they were deadlocked on all three counts at lunchtime Thursday but O'Neill sent them back to try again. Repeatedly, the jury has come into court seeking guidance or read-backs; repeatedly he has tried to accommodate them and then sent them back to the jury room.

Meanwhile, Cosby lead defense attorney Brian McMonagle kept demanding a mistrial, arguing that the jury would never be able to reach a unanimous verdict.

O’Neill told McMonagle that he has no authority to interrupt a jury that is actively deliberating, no matter how long they go on. He said McMonagle should provide legal precedents to show when a judge interrupted and ended ongoing deliberations.

"You’ve given me no cases…that a judge has a right to stop a jury from deliberating when they are actively deliberating,” O'Neill said.

McMonagle countered that jurors may believe they are obligated to continue hashing out a unresolvable dispute, following O’Neill’s statement from yesterday directing the body to continue after they announced the deadlock.

But O’Neill did say he “intends to act” if jurors indicate again they are hopelessly deadlocked.

The jury has requested multiple read-backs of trial testimony. They heard extended excerpts of testimony by Cosby in a police interview and a deposition, by accuser Andrea Constand on the stand, and by her mother, Gianna Constand, on the stand. They heard the definition of "reasonable doubt." They re-examined testimony about what Cosby said about his use of the now-banned sedative Quaaludes to give to women he sought for sex.

“Question: When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you would use these Quaaludes to give to women you wanted to have sex with? Answer: Yes. Question: Did you ever give the Quaaludes to women without their knowledge? Answer: No. Question: Did you know at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs? Answer: Yes.”

Jurors’ eyes were glued to their projection screen as the reading continued. Cosby sat back in his chair, expressionless.

“We’re being asked to review the entire trial,” McMonagle protested.

By late afternoon, O'Neill rejected one of the jury's read-back requests; the material had been read only minutes earlier in another review of testimony. He told jurors they should rely on their “collective memory.”

Before denying the first mistrial motion of the day Friday, Judge O'Neill warned Cosby that if he does declare a mistrial later, and prosecutors retry the case, Cosby cannot then argue a double jeopardy defense.

Later, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents dozens of other Cosby accusers and has been attending the trial, interpreted the jury's interest in the Quaaludes question. "It's good for the prosecution," she said, flatly.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt telegraphed Thursday night the defense motions for a mistrial, t elling a mob of reporters on the courthouse steps the judge should call a mistrial even while the jury was still deliberating.

“We’re in the 40th hour and we can only imagine the emotional and physical toll this has taken on the jurors and we’re just hoping that the judge, if they don’t have a verdict by now, he would release them, and just say that this thing is a deadlock,” Wyatt said.

Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from an encounter with Constand at his nearby home in 2004. She says he drugged and molested her as she lay helpless on his couch. He says they were lovers and the encounter was consensual.

If he is convicted on even one count, he faces spending the rest of his life in prison.

The jury must be unanimous in voting either to convict or acquit. The jury could potentially vote to convict on some counts and acquit on others but that would likely be an issue for appeal. Or the jury could remain deadlocked and unable to come to a unanimous decision, which would give O'Neill little choice but to declare a mistrial.

District Attorney Kevin Steele, who ran for office promising to pursue Cosby on the long-abandoned case, would then have several months to decide whether to retry Cosby. It took 18 months for these charges to come to trial; another trial would likely take as long, thus making the case even older than 13 years.

It's not clear what the jury's current vote is: Is there only one holdout or more than one? Are the majority for acquittal or for conviction?


"The jury can always write a note to the judge what the vote is, but the courts prefer not to have that information," says New York criminal defense lawyer Stuart Slotnick, who's been following the trial. "Sometimes the jury will disclose the vote to demonstrate that the jury is far apart or that they are very close but there is one holdout. Frequently after high-profile cases, some of the jurors speak to the press and disclose all."




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Ranil Jayawardena of Sri Lanka Origin Re-Elected to UK Parliament from North East Hampshire Constituency with 28,000 Votes

Posted on 11 June 2017 by admin

Ranil Jayawardena

London-born Ranil Jayawardena whose father is of Sri Lankan origin, was re-elected from the Conservative Party to the British parliament from the North East Hampshire constituency with a healthy majority of almost 28,000 votes. Jayawardena who first won this seat at the 2015 general election got 65.6 per cent of the votes cast garnering 37,754 votes, up from the 35,573 votes he received in 2015.

His majority this time was slightly diminished but way ahead of his closest rival. Jayawardena who was previously a local councillor serving as deputy leader of the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane before he took to national politics served on the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee after he entered parliament in 2015.

The Labour Party’s Thangam Debbonaire whose father is a Sri Lankan Tamil retained the Bristol West constituency winning almost 2/3rd of the vote in a constituency that saw a huge turn out of 77 per cent.  She gained 47,213 votes over her Conservative Party rival who obtained 9,877 votes.

Rathy Alagaratnam said to have Sri Lankan connections contested as a candidate of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) but fared badly in a night that proved disastrous for Ukip which did not win a single seat.

Ranil Malcolm Jayawardena was born in London on September 3, 1986. He studied at Robert May’s School, Odiham, Alton College and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has a brother and a sister.

His wife, Alison is a solicitor and they have a daughter, Daisy. He worked for Lloyds Banking Group and serves as a Member, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – 2008 to 2015 (Cabinet Member 2011-2015 and Deputy Leader 2012-2015).

"I grew up, went to school and still live in North East Hampshire. The Halifax Quality of Life Index has named it as the ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’, and I want to keep it that way. For me, it is all about representing my constituents and making sure their views are heard", he said in an interview with Sri Express.

Ranil’s father Nalin Jayawardena said that he came to England in the latter part of the 1970s to finish his accountancy exams.  After completing his studies, he worked as a financial regulator. Later, he started his own Financial Consultancy firm.

He met his wife Indira, who is of Indian origin, in the UK. She did her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She works as an Educational Welfare Officer in Hampshire County Council. Ranil is the eldest child. He has a sister, Thushani and a brother, Ravindra.

"Our ancestors had a lot of connections to politics in Sri Lanka. Henry Jayawardane was a Village Council Chairman for Munwatta in the Bulathsinhala electorate. Daisy Abeywickrema had three brothers in politics.

Her elder brother, Simon Abeywickrema, won Udugama electorate and was a Deputy Minister in the D. S. Senanayake government. Her second brother, Henry Abeywickrema won Baddegama electorate and was the Deputy Minister for Transport in SWRD Bandaranaike government. Daisy’s youngest brother Vincent Abeywickrema was a village headman.


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UPDATE: Sri Lankan passenger Manodh Marks subdued on Malaysian plane after bomb threat

Posted on 01 June 2017 by admin

Malaysia Airlines plane threat foiled by 'heroes', witness says

  A witness has described how passengers tackled a man who allegedly made a false bomb threat on a Malaysia Airlines plane. Flight MH128, bound for Kuala Lumpur, was forced to return to Melbourne after the man tried to enter the cockpit. The flight landed safely and the passenger was arrested, police said, adding it was not terror-related. One passenger said the suspect was carrying a "very unusual object", which police later said was not explosive. "He ran down the back aisle and three great Aussie heroes wrestled him to the ground and totally immobilised him," the witness, Andrew Leoncelli, told the BBC. The suspect was a 25-year-old Sri Lankan man who was released from a Melbourne psychiatric facility earlier on Wednesday, said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. Police initially treated it as a possible terrorism incident before determining it was "a case involving a mental health issue", the commissioner said. Police said the man was carrying a bluetooth speaker or something similar.

Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz bin Kaprawi described it as a "powerbank", the AFP agency said. Mr Leoncelli, a former professional Australian Rules football player, said it had two antennae and what appeared to be a smartphone input. He said the suspect told airline staff he needed to see the captain before becoming "really agitated" and making threats, including making button-pressing motions. "I went back to tell the other passengers there was a real threat here, we need to do something," Mr Leoncelli said. Of the passengers who then overpowered the man, he said: "I cannot tell you their names but they are good fellas." Earlier, Mr Leoncelli told Melbourne's 3AW radio station that the man threatened to "blow the plane up", prompting staff to scream for help. Malaysia Airlines said the Airbus A330, carrying 337 passengers and crew, was in the air for just 30 minutes of its eight-hour flight time before landing. Heavily armed police boarded the plane just before midnight local time (14:00 GMT) and placed the man under arrest. Mr Ashton defended what local media said was a 90-minute delay between the plane landing and police intervention. He said counter-terrorism officers had feared there may be other explosive devices or potential suspects on board. "If we had an incident where there were further explosives that were triggered, we could have had a mass casualty incident," he said. "Decisions had to be made about what was the safest way to get passengers off the plane." Mr Ashton said man had been living in Melbourne on a current visa, clarifying earlier information he was an Australian citizen. A number of flights were diverted following the incident, but the airport confirmed it was operating as normal. (BBC)

Malaysia Airlines attack: Lankan fails to appear in court.

Courtesy: Daily Mirror.

The 25-year-old Sri Lankan who was accused of threatening to blow up a Malaysia Airlines flight en route to Kuala Lumpur has failed to appear in court as he felt unsafe, International Business Times reported today quoting the lawyer of the accused.

Manodh Marks, a Sri Lankan living in Australia on a student visa, has been charged at the Magistrate’s Court in Melbourne with endangering the safety of an aircraft and making false threats. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

The MH128 flight carrying over 330 passengers was forced to turn back to Melbourne just a few minutes after it took off when Marks tried to enter the cockpit. He had also threatened passengers with a device, claiming it to be explosives.

It was initially thought that Marks was carrying explosives, and the police had termed the incident on the plane as an act of terrorism. However, it was later revealed that Marks was just carrying a "speaker-type" object, authorities said.

Marks had been in custody but his lawyer has said he felt "vulnerable" in detention and asked for medical help.

"He has concerns for his safety in custody. He needs to see a mental health nurse urgently," his lawyer Tess Dunsford said after being questioned by Magistrate Susie Cameron over the reason for his helplessness.

Marks has a history of psychiatric illness and had just been released from a psychiatric facility, before he boarded the flight, police said.

No bail request has been filed on Mark's behalf. The matter has been listed for a committal hearing on 24 August.


Man threatening to bomb plane is the latest incident to hit beleaguered Malaysia Airlines [Olivia Harris/Reuters].

Passengers feared for lives after man with electronic device threatened to 'blow up' aircraft before being tackled.​

Man threatening to bomb plane is the latest incident to hit beleaguered Malaysia Airlines [Olivia Harris/Reuters]

Armed police stormed a Malaysia Airlines flight that was forced to return to Australia after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit claiming he had a bomb. 

"He was saying: 'I'm going to the blow the f…ing plane up, I'm going to blow the plane up,'" passenger Andrew Leoncelli told Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday.

"He was agitated, is the best description, 100 percent he was agitated," Leoncelli said.    

Passengers described fearing for their lives, but Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said a Sri Lankan national, who appeared to have been drunk, was overpowered by passengers and crew and later arrested.    

"It is not a hijack. One disruptive passenger tried to enter the plane's cockpit," Aziz told AFP news agency.    

"The passenger… claimed to have a bomb. But it was not a bomb but a powerbank. Everyone on board is safe… He was taken out of the plane handcuffed by Australian security officers."   

Police Superintendent Andy Langdon said the suspect appeared to have a history of mental illness.     

shortly afterwards when the man allegedly threatened those on board, Australian police said.    

"We do not believe this is terrorist-related at the moment," Langdon said.    

While officials tried to play down the incident, passengers told of some 90 minutes of onboard drama and fear after take-off.    

A business class passenger, who identified himself as Andy, told Melbourne radio station 3AW the arrested man had threatened to "blow the plane up".    

"The staff screamed out 'I need some help, I need some help'. So I jumped up, undid my buckle, and approached him."    

Andy said the man ran to the back of the plane, where two other men grabbed and disarmed him of a "giant black thing" and "put hog ties on him".    

Langdon described the experience for passengers as "very traumatic", adding passengers and crew were "heroic".    

Passenger Arif Chaudery said he joined several others to subdue the man.    

"Families, kids, they were very scared, and some screaming … so three or four guys, we jumped as quickly as possible," he told Channel Nine.    

"We just put him on the floor and finally staff brought the belt, so we handcuffed him and tied his legs and put his face on the floor."    

Laura, who asked for her surname to be withheld, told ABC she feared for her life.    

"I thought the plane was going to go down, I thought the bomb was going to go off. I really did think I was going to die," she said.

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Prime Minister Trudeau attends 43rd G7 Summit in Italy

Posted on 27 May 2017 by admin

May 27, 2017.
Taormina, Italy

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today concluded the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Taormina, Italy. While in Taormina, the Prime Minister emphasized Canada’s commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms, advance gender equity, combat climate change, and deliver economic growth that benefits the middle class.

The Leaders signed a joint Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism, and renewed their determination to prevent radicalization and violent extremism, and to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice. Prime Minister Trudeau highlighted the need for G7 members to refrain from paying ransom to terrorist groups.

Leaders adopted the first G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment to remove barriers to the full economic, political, and social participation of women and girls around the world. Canada is committed to advancing gender equity during its 2018 G7 presidency.

Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to take measures to transition to a low-carbon economy, and to implement the Paris Agreement. The Prime Minister emphasized that responsible development of energy resources and meeting goals under international agreements go hand in hand.

The Prime Minister also underlined the importance of fully implementing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – an important milestone in Canada’s efforts to champion trade deals that create good, middle class jobs and benefit everyone.

In 2018, Canada will hold the G7 presidency. Building on the themes of Italy’s 2017 presidency, Canada will showcase the country’s domestic and international priorities: to build a strong middle class, advance gender equity, fight climate change, and promote respect for diversity and inclusion.


“At the G7 this weekend, we had some excellent discussions on issues of security, climate change, gender equity, and economic growth that benefits the middle class. We talked about the global anxieties around inequality and how governments must help people deal with the uncertainty of a changing world. On this, I echoed my previous statements, calling on governments to work with their citizens to develop real, lasting solutions, together.”
— Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The Leaders of the G7 – united by common values of freedom and democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law – come together each year to discuss issues of domestic and global concern. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Representatives of the European Union also attend meetings.
  • The G7 dates back to the mid-1970s, and the G7 presidency, which rotates annually between member countries, sets the agenda for the year in consultation with G7 partners. Italy holds the presidency in 2017, and Canada will hold it in 2018.
  • G7 ministerial-level meetings are also held each year to build on the Leaders’ agenda. Italy will convene a total of twelve G7 ministerial meetings in 2017.
  • The Prime Minister met with his counterparts from France, Guinea (Chairperson of the African Union) along with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Japan, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States of America.
  • During the Summit, Leaders committed to address inequality, harness innovation, and help workers bridge skills gaps. They also examined ways to support innovation across economies, and improve access to education and training relevant to today’s changing world and digital economy.
  • The Prime Minister emphasized Canada’s continued support for Ukraine and the need to maintain G7 solidarity regarding sanctions on Russia. Leaders also reaffirmed their commitment on non-proliferation and disarmament, including in North Korea.
  • The Prime Minister is deeply concerned by the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution globally. Canada is committed to providing assistance and protection for refugees, and to addressing the root causes of their plight.
  • While at the G7, Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan welcomed reaching substantial agreement on an acquisition and cross services agreement, and have agreed to sign it as soon as possible. Such an agreement will facilitate cooperation between Canadian and Japanese forces, notably during joint training exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
  • Following the Summit, G7 Leaders issued a joint communiqué on key global priorities and challenges, including countering terrorism and threats to security, driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and strengthening the foundations for gender equity and the empowerment of women.

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UK parliament dissolves ahead of election

Posted on 04 May 2017 by admin

London (CNN)The UK parliament officially dissolved at one minute past midnight on Wednesday (May 3) and will not resume work until after the general election on June 8.

UK Parliament approves Theresa May's snap vote 03:05

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union.

On Wednesday she will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to gain formal approval for the dissolution.

In late March, Theresa May signed the official letter triggering divorce proceedings with the EU.

In late March, Theresa May signed the official letter triggering divorce proceedings with the EU.

The UK voted almost a year ago to leave the 28-nation EU in a referendum and the so-called Brexit issue is set to dominate the election campaign.

May's Conservative Party is currently leading the opposition Labour Party by a large margin according to the latest opinion polls.

Three polls published at the end of last week suggested that about twice as many people plan to vote Conservative as Labour.

May warns of chaotic Brexit in final Prime Minister's Questions before election

May warns of chaotic Brexit in final Prime Minister's Questions before election

May has been criticized, however, for not taking part in television debates and for only allowing loyal supporters to her campaign meetings.

The Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party and Scottish National Party trail behind the two main parties.

By law, parliament is dissolved 25 working days before an election takes place.

Lawmakers are stripped of the privileges of being a member of parliament, and if standing for reelection, must campaign alongside other candidates.

Government ministers remain in charge of their departments until after the result of the election is known and a new administration is formed.

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Prince Philip retires from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces!

Posted on 04 May 2017 by admin

Queen's husband to step down from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces!

Prince Philip, who is 95, will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The Palace said in a statement it was the The Duke of Edinburgh's decision taken with the support of the Queen. 

It said: "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen. "Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.

Courtesy: London Daily Telegraph

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, smiles during his visit to Lord's Cricket Ground  on Wednesday

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, smiles during his visit to Lord's Cricket Ground  on Wednesday CREDIT: AFP

"The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

"Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

Philip has generally been in good health in recent years and On Wednesday when he opened a new stand at Lord's cricket ground in central London looked relaxed, lively and walked confidently down a flight of uneven steps when he strode onto the outfield.

But it appears the Duke has decided that, now in his advanced years, the time has come to step back from royal duties that can involve extensive travel.

Prince Philip's farewell tour to include Chelsea Flower Show, trip to Ascot and state visit of the King and Queen of Spain

 Robert Mendick, chief reporter – London Daily Telegraph (Courtesy)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s busy ‘farewell tour’ will fittingly include a dinner and reception for the charity he founded and bears his name.

Prince Philip will host a dinner for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in a fortnight’s time and follow that with a Buckingham Palace reception for youngsters who have achieved its gold standard.

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