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63-year old Sri Lankan stabbed to death in Staten Island, New York

Posted on 29 November 2017 by admin

Man, 27, charged in fatal stabbing of Staten Island grandmother, 63. 

By Maura Grunlund – Courtesy of Staten Island North Shore.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Police have charged a 27-year-old man who they say fatally stabbed a grandmother in a frenzied attack on a West Brighton street, then was found cradling her body when cops arrived at the scene. Police identified the suspect as Dantey Moore, 27, of North Burgher Avenue in West Brighton. The suspect has a lengthy criminal history, mental issues and was a stranger to the victim, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. Moore stabbed Geetha Howie, 63, more than 15 times on Monday shortly after 2 p.m. in the vicinity of Bement Avenue and Bement Court, just blocks from her home on Bement Avenue, police allege. The victim was returning home from the bank, where she was getting money for an upcoming family wedding she planned to attend in Sri Lanka, according to media reports. Moore also allegedly slashed neighbor Mark Long, 56, who ran to Howie's aid.

"He heard the cries and he wasn't sure, he thought it was kids that were hanging out," said Sandra Graydon-Long, Long's wife. "When he came out he saw two people on the ground. And then as he got closer he saw that a man was stabbing a woman." 

Long questioned the assailant and "put himself in harm's way," his wife said.  Moore "lunged at him," according to the wife.

Her husband began talking to Moore again and the man eventually dropped the knife, Graydon-Long said.

 

63-year old Sri Lankan from Staten Island – Geetha Howie

 

 

The suspect was saying "that she cheated, that she cheated with everyone"

Her husband didn't know what those words meant, said Graydon-Long.

Long was treated at the scene for a cut to his right arm.

Police charged Moore with murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Howie was taken to Richmond University Medical Center in West Brighton with stab wounds to the face and torso, according to police.

She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The victim, who worked as a lab technician, was "an amazing woman" who was particularly close to her 3-year-old granddaughter, her son-in-law Daniel Fazzina, told the New York Daily News.

"They were just inseparable and it's just a senseless tragedy," he said. 

By Tuesday morning, blood remained splattered on the sidewalk on Bement Avenue.

Moore has about 34 prior arrests for a wide range of alleged offenses including burglary, robbery,  assault, criminal possession of drugs, criminal mischief and resisting arrest, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

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Manushi Chhillar, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Indian beauties who went on to become Miss World

Posted on 19 November 2017 by admin

Courtesy of India Express:

India's stint with beauty at an international level was nothing exceptionl until Reita Faria became the first Indian to be crowned Miss World. After that, the world sat up and took notice. With Manushi Chhillar being the latest addition, the world has now six Indian Miss Worlds. Bollywood beauties like Priyanka Chopra and Aishwarya Rai have been among these and to remind you of all the glorious moments at the Miss World stage, we have here a list of the Indian winners caught in their victorious moments. Check out the pics here. (Source: File Photo).

The third Miss India World was Diana Hayden, who won the ‘ Femina Miss India’ title in 1997 and the ‘Miss World’ title the same year. According to her Facebook, it still remains the most memorable moment of her life. (Source: feminamissindia/ Facebook)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reita Faria became the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss World in 1966. Faria, unlike her successors who chose Bollywood as a career option, opted to practise medicine. However, the former Miss World continued to judge several beauty pageants. (Source: feminamissindia/ Facebook)

 

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MPs picking up fight for Sri Lankan family in Queenstown

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

 

  • NZ First MP Mark Patterson will help the family if their appeal to Immigration New Zealand fails.

COURTESY: KEVIN STENT/STUFF

NZ First MP Mark Patterson will help the family if their appeal to Immigration New Zealand fails.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has written to the immigration minister requesting a temporary work visa be issued to the father of a Sri Lankan family facing deportation.

The other local representative, NZ First list MP Mark Patterson has also said he would present the case of the Queenstown-based family, if their attempts to stay in New Zealand fail.

Dinesha Amarasinghe, her husband Sam, and their three sons are facing deportation in five days, on November 21, after living in New Zealand for eight years due to Amarasinghe, the primary visa holder, developing multiple sclerosis three years ago.

After eight years of living and working in New Zealand, the Wijerathne family face returning to Sri Lanka after their ...

DEBBIE JAMIESON/STUFF

After eight years of living and working in New Zealand, the Wijerathne family face returning to Sri Lanka after their work visas were cancelled. From left: Binath, 10, mother Dinesha Amarasinghe, Senath, 8, Sam and Subath, 11. Immigration advocate Shane Robinson plans to appeal Immigration New Zealand's decision and file an appeal on humanitarian grounds.

"If both of those options fail, then the family's only hope is intervention by the minister of immigration," he says.

Walker said he had written to minister Iain Lees-Galloway asking that any matters regarding deportation of the family are put on hold and a temporary work visa be issued to Sam so he can financially support the family.

Dinesha had been the primary visa holder as she was employed in "skilled work". Without her visa, her husband was not allowed to continue in his job as a taxi driver.

"I've asked for an exception to policy so they can stay in New Zealand," Walker said.

"I'm doing absolutely everything I possible can to try and help these people stay in New Zealand. The Government has the power to intervene."

Patterson said he met the family at the request of the local community and Queenstown Primary School, where the boys – aged 11, 10 and 8 – are pupils.

"The school are obviously quite distressed with the situation. It is pretty unfortunate circumstances they are in," he said.

"Obviously there's a lot of emotion but with these things there's also a lot of rules."

He had been further briefed on their situation and would not intervene with a plea to the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway unless the appeals failed, he said.

"I'm not giving any indication whether it will be successful or not but there's no doubt than no one can be failed to be moved by their personal circumstances."

The family had been moved by the large number of people who had expressed support for them after their story was published on Stuff on Tuesday.

Sam Amarasinghe said they had had offers of assistance and support from many people in the community, including an offer to cover their legal fees.

"I know everybody around town but they didn't know our situation previously. Now they know everything and they are happy to help."

The family also have an appointment to meet with Clutha-Southland MP and National Party representative Hamish Walker next week.

Walker, who has written a letter of support for the family, said "I know they [they family] are held in high regard in the Queenstown community, the children are high achievers at school and they have a lot of support.

 "I really do feel for them. It must be an incredibly stressful time for the whole family. Immigration law is complex and when the strict criteria meets with extraordinary personal circumstances like this, I think there should definitely be flexibility." 

 Walker said he wanted to get an understanding of their circumstances and provide the support and advocacy that was appropriate.

 – Stuff

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Canada’s Global Brand Ranks Fourth in Study of 50 Nations – Ties with Japan

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Nov. 16, 2017.

Canada’s Global Brand Ranks Fourth in Study of 50 Nations – Ties with Japan

  • Germany reclaims top overall “nation brand” ranking
  • Canada maintains #1 status in People, Governance and Immigration/Investment categories
  • US slides to sixth place – only country showing overall decline in 2017

NUREMBERG, Germany–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Canada’s global brand remains among the top 4 in the world, tying Japan for fourth place with a strong showing in the latest Anholt-GfK Nation Brands IndexSM (NBISM) study.

Germany retakes the top ranking from the US, which fell to sixth place from first. France climbs to second, with the UK holding onto third place.

Canada remains number one in the world for the second consecutive year in three of six categories measured in the study – People, Governance, and Immigration/Investment.

Go to www.gfk.com/en-us for more information

The data shows:

  • People worldwide say they would want Canadians as close friends; they also feel they would be welcome when visiting the country and would willingly hire a well-qualified person from Canada.
  • Canada is seen as having a competent and honest government – one that has a high respect for citizens’ rights and fair treatment. Canada is also highly rated in other aspects of the Governance category, such as behavior in the areas of international peace and security, as well as environmental protection and world poverty reduction.
  • Canada is thought to have a high quality of life and equal opportunity that strengthens its ability to attract talent and investment capital.

In the other 3 categories, Canada’s rankings slipped slightly from 2016 to 2017. In Exports, Canada fell from 5th to 7th. Its Culture ranking dropped from 10th to 12th; and in Tourism, it fell one spot, from 8th to 9th.

US loses ground in global perception of its Governance

Of the 50 countries measured in the study, only the USA saw its overall NBI score drop this year. However, it still ranks among the top five nations for three of NBI’s six categories: namely, Culture (where the USA is ranked second), Exports (also second), and Immigration-Investment (fifth). But it fell from 19th place to 23rd for Governance, a notably poor score for one of the world’s leading countries.

“The USA’s fall in the ‘Governance’ suggests that we are witnessing a ‘Trump effect’, following President Trump’s focused political message of ‘America First’,” said Professor Simon Anholt, who created the NBI study in 2005.

Vadim Volos, GfK’s Senior Vice President of Social & Strategic Research, said, “Nations are able to influence global perception of their national brand by promoting positive aspects that drive up areas such as inbound tourism and investment. Our Nations Brand Index allows our clients to understand where – and why – their nation stands in terms of their current image, momentum and potential. And this in turn, shows them where they need to focus, to build an increasingly stronger nation brand.”

For more information about the Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index, please visit nation-brands.gfk.com.

About the study

GfK conducted 20,185 interviews online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over. Data are weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender and education of the 2017 online population in that country. Additionally, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing in the USA, UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil. Fieldwork was conducted from 7 to 25 July 2017.

The 50 nations measured by the survey are as follows, listed by region:

North America: Canada, the U.S.

Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Norway*, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK

Central/Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine*

Asia-Pacific: Australia, China1, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru

Middle East/Africa: Botswana*, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates.

1Chinese respondents are asked to rank all nations except their own.

*This indicates nations newly added into the NBISM in 2017. Also, three nations (Cuba, Iran, and Kazakhstan) were measured in 2016 but not in 2017.

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Queenstown family face deportation to Sri Lanka after eight years in New Zealand

Posted on 15 November 2017 by admin

 

After eight years of living and working in New Zealand, the Wijerathne family face returning to Sri Lanka after their ...

COURTESY: DEBBIE JAMIESON/STUFF

After eight years of living and working in New Zealand, the Wijerathne family face returning to Sri Lanka after their work visas were cancelled. From left: Binath, 10, mother Dinesha Amarasinghe, Senath, 8, Sam and Subath, 11.

Living in a one-bedroom former camping ground cabin in Queenstown are three brothers, their mother and father.

There's not much space but the family's priorities are clear. On the walls are maps and mathematics charts. Desks and chairs cluttered with books and papers sit in a line under the window. Cricket bats and guitars are piled in between.

The Wijerathne boys – aged 11, 10 and 8 – attend Queenstown Primary School, where they are regarded as excellent students. Two made it to the recent finals of the Otago-Southland spelling bee. They were invited to sit Australian academic exams. They are swimmers and cricketers, playing for the Queenstown Club where dad Sam coaches. They go to church every Sunday.

It isn't an easy life. Their Sri Lanka-born parents have worked long hours as a chef and a taxi driver in one of the most expensive places in the country to support them and their mother has developed health issues. But it is better than the life they left behind eight years ago.

However, that is set to change. The family have been told they have to leave New Zealand on November 21.

The boys' mother, Dinesha Amarasinghe, tells her story through the tears that flow through her day, every day, since her latest application for a temporary working visa was declined.

She says the boys are angry with her. Her eldest son, Subath, wants to know why he can't join his friends at the new Wakatipu High School, which opens next year. Eight-year-old Senath wants to go to school camp. He was a year old when the family left Sri Lanka. New Zealand is his home.

"I blame myself all the time," Dinseha says. "They're very good kids at sports and studies. We are not doing any wrong things. We are helping at the school . . . everywhere. My kids, they can't go back there [Sri Lanka]."

Looking for a better life for their children and with Sri Lanka undergoing civil war for 25 years, Dinesha applied to come to New Zealand as a hospitality student in 2010. She had 10 years of industry experience and started working as a cook in Auckland in 2011, under Immigration New Zealand's skilled migrant category.

Late in 2011, the family moved to Queenstown, where she worked as commis chef at the popular Lone Star restaurant. Based on Dinesha's visa, Sam was granted an open work permit and worked at New World supermarket, the Hilton and as a taxi driver.

In 2014, Dinseha slipped on the floor while working and was later diagnosed with a lumbar sprain. Despite the pain in her leg, she continued to work while awaiting treatment but in January 2015, continuing problems forced her onto ACC. In May 2015, she had a brain scan and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

In October this year, because Dinesha was unable to work, her skilled worker temporary visa was declined. Without it, Sam can no longer work and the family have to leave the country by November 21.

BATTLE WITH IMMIGRATION NZ 

The family have an application for residency sitting with Immigration NZ. They applied in April 2013. Their immigration advocate, Shane Robinson, was not involved with their case then but says that for the application not to be resolved to date is unusual.

Immigration NZ area manager Marcelle Foley said it usually took between six and 12 months to process a residency application. However, it was not unusual for longer processing times in complex cases "as is the case in the situation".

The processing of their residence visa has now been suspended as they have been unlawful in New Zealand since July, she said 

Robinson said a large part of the delay was because Sam overstayed a working visa in Japan in 2006 and was deported. Despite that, he was given a visa in New Zealand as a special direction in 2012 but a dispute over the facts was continuing and was unresolved. However, Dinesha's health has now taken over as the key issue.

Confusing the family though is the fact that Dinesha was granted a new temporary work visa in 2016, despite her MS diagnosis. Robinson says Immigration NZ's operational instructions state MS disqualifies someone from getting a temporary work visa but Immigration NZ allowed it in this case partly because it was unclear what degree of her health issues were caused by the 2014 fall and there was the ability to grant a waiver in the case of a residence visa (which was still in progress).

"In hindsight, it may have been fairer on the family for INZ to decline the applications then and not give them false hope."

Foley said the organisation was aware in 2016 that Dinesha had MS. However, it was not until this year they became aware she had had a prolonged absence from work and she acknowledged that she would be unable to work in full-time employment for some time.

Dinesha was advised she was likely to impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand's health services or special education services, Foley said.

"All non-New Zealanders coming to New Zealand must have an acceptable standard of health so as not to impose undue costs or demands on New Zealand's public health system," Foley said.

Still, when the family's application to renew the visa was declined in October, they were taken by surprise and plunged into the desperate situation they are now in. Dinesha cannot work to the extent that is required. Sam can work but was declined for a work visa-partner and doesn't fit the "skilled employment" category.

Robinson said a request was being made for visas to be granted as a "special case" but the chances of that succeeding were low.

"We have also been instructed to file an appeal on humanitarian grounds . . . If both of those options fail, then the family's only hope is intervention by the minister of immigration."

THE FIGHT TO STAY

The family dread the prospect of returning to Sri Lanka. Last year they visited for the first time since they have been in New Zealand. Subath, 11, has sad eyes and speaks quietly of the trip. "I don't like to go back to Sri Lanka," he says. "I don't like the mosquitos and we have don't have many friends there."

His parents are even more desperate to stay. "I'm not thinking about my future as a rich man but I'm thinking about education for my children another few years. We are asking for a chance," Sam says.

Life is hard in New Zealand but if they return to Sri Lanka they will have no money – it has all been spent on immigration and lawyers. Dinesha will not have access to the medicine she needs. Pay rates are low – not enough for Sam to support his children and wife – and the children, who are having great success at school now, will struggle with the native Sinhalese language and likely be finished school at 14 and become fodder for the gangs that are rampant in poorer communities.

"I'm not asking anyone for money. I've brought money from Sri Lanka to live here . . . now everything is gone but [in Sri Lanka] I have no house. I don't know where to start. Our parents are old, we can't ask them for help. They don't have money – we need to help them."

They are proud people but with Sam no longer permitted to work and with rent to pay, the $2500-a-month cost of Dinesha's medication and mounting legal costs, they have become reliant on charities, friends and the kindness of others.

"I can manage everything if they give me a chance," says Sam. "That's why we don't ask anyone for a hand. But with both not working it's really hard."

Dinesha questions why after years of working and paying taxes in New Zealand, the family should be treated this way.

"I came to New Zealand along with my family holding heaps of hopes and ambitions."

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Reassuringly for the family, they have already had massive support from their community.

Robinson says he has received numerous letters and phone calls from people who want to support them. People such as the Salvation Army, Queenstown Primary School and Queenstown Cricket Club president Daniel Gibbons, who writes of the time Sam has given as a coach and player at the club over the seven years they have been involved: "It would be a great loss to our club and community to lose such a family, so we implore you to re-consider their case."

Baskets of Blessing co-ordinator Tam Schurmann has picked up the family's cause and started a Givealittle page in the hope of providing some of the continuing support they need.

"I feel that their treatment now is not humane treatment of a family." 

They are not the kind of people who ask for help, she says.

"They have been managing on their own. It was doctor's orders for her to stop work. I think the reason the MS has been so bad recently is that she's so stressed."

Immigration NZ had "kicked them in the teeth", she said.

Queenstown Primary School principal Fiona Cavanagh says the school is also doing what it can to support the family, including lobbying on their behalf.

"Those boys come to school to learn. They put in the effort and should be able to reap the benefits . . . Ultimately, we will have to follow the rules but in this instance there's a humanitarian aspect that needs to be seriously considered."

 – Stuff

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Oscar winning actress Halle Berry visits India

Posted on 14 November 2017 by admin

Halle Berry’s Indian beach holiday!

In yet another stunning picture, Halle can be seen wearing a head turban complete with henna designs on her hand, she quotes RH Sin for the caption, "Some women fear the fire, some women simply become it. #rhsin." During her visit, she enjoyed a houseboat ride, visited the beach and also a few establishments here.

As reported by Mumbai Mirror, Berry, who landed in Mumbai on 8 November, spent two days in Mumbai before heading off to Kochi on 10 November, where she checked into the Carnoustic Ayurveda and Wellness Resort in Alappuzha with at least four of her friends.

Bond girl Halle Berry has taken a trip to India leaving her fans wondering if Bollywood is on the cards for this X Men actor. While earlier the actor was spotted in Mumbai, now she is off to have a gala time in Kerala. Halle has posted a few pictures from her vacation on her Instagram account and it looks like she is up to some fun. Have a look! During her time in Kerala, actress reportedly went on a houseboat ride.

Oscar-winner Halle Berry reportedly enjoying a quiet holiday in Kerala.

An official at the beach resort where she and her five-member group are staying said: “She and her group were here with us for two nights and checked out. She spent time at the beach and had no problems moving around. Yes, none knew who she was and we were also told that since this was a private visit, none should also come to know.

“She really enjoyed the stay with us and the places she visited.”

During her time in Kerala, Berry, 51, reportedly went on a houseboat ride and spent time on the beach.

The actress has been posting updates from her India trip on Instagram.

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Danielle de Niese: a high-octane soprano comes home

Posted on 07 November 2017 by admin

The Aussie star won Young Talent Time at age eight. We caught up with the soprano ahead of her debut in The Merry Widow.

You have a unique genealogical background. What do you think of yourself as nowadays?

My parents were born in Sri Lanka and they’re mixed with Dutch and Scottish heritage, but they met in Australia and that’s where I was born, so I definitely consider myself an Australian. We moved to the US when I was ten, but I always think Australia gave me wings because had I not gotten those opportunities I would have never continued my training. At the same time, America with its pre-university age conservatories that can really harness people who are training at that age, allowed me to continue.

Courtesy: LIMELIGHT by Clive Paget on November 6, 2017.

TSL Editor's Note: Danielle de Niese is the grand-daughter of Douglas & Estelle de Neise

Are either of your parents musical?

My mother took voice and piano lessons, but she never wanted to actually be a singer. She’s incredibly musical and I’m still learning so much from her. The quickest way to describe it is that I feel she taught me the difference between singing and interpreting. You can just sing the notes on the page and you can have a beautiful voice, and then there’s all of the other things that come with interpretation, with making something your own, putting your own fingerprint on the music and giving it a life that feels organic to you. That I learned from her, without a doubt.

Danielle de NieseAustralian soprano Danielle de Niese. Photo © Chris Dunlop/Decca

Your Met debut was age 19 as Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro under James Levine. Was that daunting for you at the time?

I remember everybody else being really concerned for me, and I remember me being rather cool as a cucumber. That’s because I’d already been singing in public from my Australia days. But it was a big deal. I was quite nervous actually on the inside, but on the outside I was sort of ready. I can remember somebody saying to me, “this is the dream team of casts you’re in. That’s what everybody’s calling it and it’s only going to be downhill from here.” And I thought that was so funny. But it was an amazing cast – Cecilia [Bartoli] and Renée [Fleming] and Bryn [Terfel] and Dwayne [Croft] and Susanne Mentzer. It was just the dreamiest. The other thing I remember so strongly was that there were no issues in the rehearsal room. Everybody was so prepared, so willing, so well-rehearsed. Really proper colleagues, no diva antics, no irresponsible activities going on. It was just a brilliant conducive atmosphere because it was all A-listers. You kind of go, “okay, with people who get to the top, I get why they got there.” They have the greatest work ethic and they’re the nicest people and the hardest working, so I was thrilled to be a part of something like that.

So what are the most challenging things you’ve had to overcome in opera?

It’s difficult to answer, because often when I’ve been in a tough piece I’ve not wanted to embrace what is negative about the production or what is challenging. I’ve definitely had shows where strange things have been asked of me. It has also been tough to sing hanging upside down or somersaulting, but that’s also kind of fun. My general rule when it comes to risk taking is to try it first and then say no if you can’t do it. Sometimes I end up doing wild things, but also I hate the idea of just doing wild and crazy things for the sake of it, just because it’s sensational. It becomes a gimmicky thing. I remember after Julius Caesar, everybody was going, “wow, she’s a soprano and she can dance”, and I was thinking, “well, I’m not going to dance in every show now just because that’s what I do. I’m not a one-trick pony.” 

What is really tough is when you do a show and other people don’t know the part. That’s incredibly draining and have been some of my harder experiences. When you see your colleagues, and so many other people, have been responsible and know the part, but there’s one or two people who don’t, they’re so irresponsible. If they don’t know the music or they don’t care to prepare they just drag the energy out of a show and that drains the poor director who is trying to balance all the needs of his actors. All the energy ends up going to the person who is doing the least. But we always get there, and even in those situations, it all works out in the end. That’s something people don’t really know about most people who do art. The back stories you hear are wildly different from the final product. 

When you married Glyndebourne’s Gus Christie, did you feel like you might become embroiled in the family business? 

When Gus was courting me, we kind of didn’t speak about it. We just wanted to get to know one another on our own terms. We didn’t tell anyone about our early courtship. As soon as people found out, everyone started clucking away. But Gus and I got to know each other very much on our own terms, and certainly, if I’m being frank, which I generally am, my being with Gus was not without its hiccups professionally. At first it was really upsetting – the media frenzy – and then you had the people who come out and go, “oh, is that why this is happening – so she’s just going to sing at Glyndebourne then?” Really wrong assumptions about how things work! That still happens sometimes. I still meet people who assume I sing at Glyndebourne every year when my casting at Glyndebourne has nothing to do with my husband and everything to do with the artistic administration. Or, for example, when I had my son. I worried that people were going to think, “ah, she’s going to go off and be Mrs Glyndebourne and have kids”, and I was desperate to show everybody in the business that I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to have a son and I’m going back to work, like my mum did.

Thinking about roles you’ve been particularly associated with – Cleopatra, Poppea and Hanna Glawari – they’re all strong willed, independent women. Is this a coincidence?

[Laughs] Yeah, it’s all planned. I think a woman can be both strong and vulnerable, and what’s interesting about the three people that you’ve mentioned, is that they have a deeply vulnerable side as well, which you get to see in the operas. That to me is being a human being more than just a woman. Hanna, I’m really looking forward to doing because I want to find a much deeper arc to her. One of the looming concepts for me is the idea that everybody has the one that got away, and I definitely think there’s a lot more to it. I think Hanna and Danilo are very dynamic people, and you don’t have to get to old age to have regrets. You can still be in the middle of life and still question whether you’ve made the right decisions. The Merry Widow is so luscious and frothy, but it’s got something quite deep to it and I’m looking forward to finding that. The froth is going to be easy, the great waltzes, that’s going to be fab, but I’m going to be searching and searching for all the unsaid things. This is what I love about singing – finding complexity and not basing characters on one archetype.

How will it feel returning to Australia?

It’s my debut with Opera Australia – I’ve never done an operatic role here – and I’m so excited. I met some of the singers when I came out to sing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. I always look forward to coming back, and to working with all these wonderful people. We’re going to put on quite the show and it’s quite the schedule – like Broadway style – but it will be my chance to show what I can do theatrically.


Danielle de Niese is in Opera Australia’s The Merry Widow at Arts Centre Melbourne from November 15 – 25,  and then at Sydney Opera House from January 2 – February 3.

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Australian Govt. vows to pursue citizenship crackdown

Posted on 24 October 2017 by admin

AUSTRALIA: Australia’s conservative government vowed Thursday to pursue efforts to tighten the country’s citizenship requirements after parliament refused to approve the crackdown.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull proposed the tougher rules in April, adding stringent English-language tests and a quadrupling of the residency requirement for citizenship applicants from one to four years.

The move came against a background of growing populist pressure in Australia and a resurgence of the anti-immigration One Nation party led by Pauline Hanson.

But the opposition Labor Party and other critics blocked the legislation in the upper house Senate, where a deadline for adoption passed on Wednesday.

Criticism of the bill focused mainly on the requirement that new citizens would need to show university-level English proficiency — something Labor said amounted to a “White Australia” policy by discriminating against immigrants from non-English-speaking nations.

Opponents also chided Turnbull for describing the new law as putting “Australian values” at the heart of the citizenship process.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton shrugged off the setback in the Senate, where the government needs the support of minor parties to pass legislation, and vowed to reintroduce an amended bill that would slightly ease the English-language requirements.

He also offered to push back application of the new Citizenship Act until July 2018, rather than make it retroactive to the date of Turnbull’s initial announcement in April.

But the government stood firm on the four-year residency requirement, saying it was necessary to weed out criminal elements before they became citizens.

– AFP

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US investor community hears strong case for Sri Lanka in New York

Posted on 19 October 2017 by admin

  • Macroeconomic stabilisation of economy broadly on track
  • Better, more facilitative capital market regulation across the board
  • CSE ready to play its part in national growth agenda
  • Foreign speakers offer a compelling endorsement of Sri Lanka

 

 

The ‘Invest Sri Lanka Investor Forum’ organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), in association with CSE member firms and listed companies, and supported by Asia Securities (Event Sponsor) and the Oxford Business Group (Exclusive Publication Partner), drew strong interest among the investor community in New York.

A Sri Lankan delegation which included senior representatives of the CSE, SEC, stockbroker firms and listed companies attended the forum to make a collective case for the Sri Lankan capital market as an investment destination. Remarks made by policymakers and capital market leaders on the economic outlook of the country and investment opportunities surrounding progressive reforms were well received by participants, who expressed confidence in the way forward for Sri Lanka. 

US…

One-on-one and group discussions between investors, who included representatives of the largest frontier and emerging market funds, and Sri Lankan listed companies, were well attended and featured John Keells Holdings Plc, Commercial Bank Plc, Sampath Bank Plc, Tokyo Cement (Lanka) Plc, Teejay Lanka Plc, Dialog Axiata Plc, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc, MTD Walkers Plc and Sunshine Holdings Plc. 

Addressing the forum as the keynote speaker, against the backdrop of the IMF reaching a staff-level agreement on the third review of Sri Lanka’s Extended Fund Facility, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy stated that the macroeconomic stabilisation of the economy was broadly on track and that the structural reforms implemented over the past two years were showing signs of gaining traction. 

The Governor added that the Central Bank was well advanced in putting in place a flexible inflation targeting regime and added: “The narrative is that the macroeconomics are improving. You have a tremendous location, you have a shift to a growth model which is capable of giving you more sustainable growth and the policies are being put in place to support that growth model. The growth framework is being strengthened through action in terms of the investment climate, investment promotion, trade facilitation and trade policy complemented by a pipeline of very ambitious projects. Sri Lanka has raised its ambition because it is now getting support from all corners of the world.” 

 

CSE ready to play its part in national growth agenda 

 

Commenting on the capital market’s role in contributing to the national agenda, CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardena stated that the CSE was fully geared to creating capital raising opportunities for both the public and private sector, which is set to make a vital contribution to the Government’s Vision 2025 and empowerment of private investment-based growth. He added that providing a platform for State-owned enterprise reform through the stock market, facilitating the growth of SMEs through the introduction of an SME Board and providing other equity and debt capital raising opportunities to spur growth among Sri Lankan corporate entities remained a key priority at the CSE. 

A development drive focused on all investor segments, product diversification, improvements to governance and market infrastructure and further improvements to risk management was presented by Abeywardena as key facets of the way forward for the Sri Lankan stock market. 

Presenting the opportunities in the Sri Lankan capital market, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike pitched investment in the CSE as a sound diversification opportunity with attractive valuations and returns backed by strong market fundamentals for equities. 

The presentation offered a broad perspective on the unique opportunity offered through the Sri Lankan stock market for foreign investors to take part in a transformative economy through an exchange that on average performed better than most global indices in recent years. Further inducement offered in the form of relaxed repatriation of returns and regulations on capital gains also drew the interest of investors present at the event. 

 

Better, more facilitative capital market regulation across the board

 

Discussing the salient features of the new SEC Act, SEC Commission member Dilshani Wijayawardana stated that the new securities law is set to usher in an era of stability, transparency and efficacy to the capital market, adding: “The new securities law will be a pillar of strength in making the capital market of Sri Lanka attractive to both international and local investors.”

SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunerwardane, speaking on the reformist agenda of the capital market, expressed the SEC’s continued commitment to better, more facilitative regulation across the board. 

“The SEC Strategy 2020, which consists of a set of regulatory and developmental initiatives, maps an integrative growth plan for the capital market to create a robust regulatory framework which in turn facilitates sustainable development,” he stated. 

 

Strong endorsement for Sri Lanka’s economic direction and capital market 

 

Outlining that May 2009 was a turning point for the country and for foreign investors, Senior Portfolio Manager at TimesSquare Capital Management and investor in Sri Lankan equities for over 10 years, Caglar Somek stated that the country was now on a sustainable growth path after going through a significant transition, adding that present growth and future estimates could further improve if the Government continued its reform process beyond the IMF program and attracted additional foreign direct investors. 

“The investment case for Sri Lanka is getting stronger with the support of the IMF. Sri Lanka has domestic avenues for growth. According to third party estimates such as the Economic Intelligence Unit, over 70% of long-term sustainable growth will likely come from the consumption and investment side of the economy, which is encouraging,” he noted. 

Commenting on the key attractions of Sri Lanka as a frontier market, he asserted that Sri Lanka offers a more diversified economy compared to other oil and commodity heavy frontier markets.  

A fully functioning democracy, an improving balance of payments situation, independent institutions, the rule of law, promising social aspects, the absence of capital controls and Sri Lanka’s strategic location and external growth opportunities surrounding it were identified as key factors that could persuade foreign investors to consider Sri Lanka going forward. 

Adding to the positive sentiments expressed, NASDAQ Vice Chairman Meyer ‘Sandy’ Frucher said: “We believe in the Sri Lanka story, which is why we are represented here at this forum. I have viewed and watched Sri Lanka for a long time and I think that the record and story is getting out there.” 

The Invest SL event in New York was hosted on the back of a considerable level of foreign activity in the stock market in 2017 where foreign purchases during the first half of 2017 established a record for the highest foreign purchases recorded in the first half of a calendar year. Investors from the US have consistently been the leading contributors to foreign turnover in the Sri Lankan stock market, and have contributed to 40% of the total foreign turnover since 2013. 

The ‘Invest Sri Lanka Investor Forum’ organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), in association with CSE member firms and listed companies, and supported by Asia Securities (Event Sponsor) and the Oxford Business Group (Exclusive Publication Partner), drew strong interest among the investor community in New York.

A Sri Lankan delegation which included senior representatives of the CSE, SEC, stockbroker firms and listed companies attended the forum to make a collective case for the Sri Lankan capital market as an investment destination. Remarks made by policymakers and capital market leaders on the economic outlook of the country and investment opportunities surrounding progressive reforms were well received by participants, who expressed confidence in the way forward for Sri Lanka. 

One-on-one and group discussions between investors, who included representatives of the largest frontier and emerging market funds, and Sri Lankan listed companies, were well attended and featured John Keells Holdings Plc, Commercial Bank Plc, Sampath Bank Plc, Tokyo Cement (Lanka) Plc, Teejay Lanka Plc, Dialog Axiata Plc, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc, MTD Walkers Plc and Sunshine Holdings Plc. 

Addressing the forum as the keynote speaker, against the backdrop of the IMF reaching a staff-level agreement on the third review of Sri Lanka’s Extended Fund Facility, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy stated that the macroeconomic stabilisation of the economy was broadly on track and that the structural reforms implemented over the past two years were showing signs of gaining traction. 

The Governor added that the Central Bank was well advanced in putting in place a flexible inflation targeting regime and added: “The narrative is that the macroeconomics are improving. You have a tremendous location, you have a shift to a growth model which is capable of giving you more sustainable growth and the policies are being put in place to support that growth model. The growth framework is being strengthened through action in terms of the investment climate, investment promotion, trade facilitation and trade policy complemented by a pipeline of very ambitious projects. Sri Lanka has raised its ambition because it is now getting support from all corners of the world.” 

CSE ready to play its part in national growth agenda 

Commenting on the capital market’s role in contributing to the national agenda, CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardena stated that the CSE was fully geared to creating capital raising opportunities for both the public and private sector, which is set to make a vital contribution to the Government’s Vision 2025 and empowerment of private investment-based growth. He added that providing a platform for State-owned enterprise reform through the stock market, facilitating the growth of SMEs through the introduction of an SME Board and providing other equity and debt capital raising opportunities to spur growth among Sri Lankan corporate entities remained a key priority at the CSE. 

A development drive focused on all investor segments, product diversification, improvements to governance and market infrastructure and further improvements to risk management was presented by Abeywardena as key facets of the way forward for the Sri Lankan stock market. 

Presenting the opportunities in the Sri Lankan capital market, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike pitched investment in the CSE as a sound diversification opportunity with attractive valuations and returns backed by strong market fundamentals for equities. 

The presentation offered a broad perspective on the unique opportunity offered through the Sri Lankan stock market for foreign investors to take part in a transformative economy through an exchange that on average performed better than most global indices in recent years. Further inducement offered in the form of relaxed repatriation of returns and regulations on capital gains also drew the interest of investors present at the event. 

Better, more facilitative capital market regulation across the board

Discussing the salient features of the new SEC Act, SEC Commission member Dilshani Wijayawardana stated that the new securities law is set to usher in an era of stability, transparency and efficacy to the capital market, adding: “The new securities law will be a pillar of strength in making the capital market of Sri Lanka attractive to both international and local investors.”

SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunerwardane, speaking on the reformist agenda of the capital market, expressed the SEC’s continued commitment to better, more facilitative regulation across the board. 

“The SEC Strategy 2020, which consists of a set of regulatory and developmental initiatives, maps an integrative growth plan for the capital market to create a robust regulatory framework which in turn facilitates sustainable development,” he stated. 

Strong endorsement for Sri Lanka’s economic direction and capital market 

Outlining that May 2009 was a turning point for the country and for foreign investors, Senior Portfolio Manager at TimesSquare Capital Management and investor in Sri Lankan equities for over 10 years, Caglar Somek stated that the country was now on a sustainable growth path after going through a significant transition, adding that present growth and future estimates could further improve if the Government continued its reform process beyond the IMF program and attracted additional foreign direct investors. 

“The investment case for Sri Lanka is getting stronger with the support of the IMF. Sri Lanka has domestic avenues for growth. According to third party estimates such as the Economic Intelligence Unit, over 70% of long-term sustainable growth will likely come from the consumption and investment side of the economy, which is encouraging,” he noted. 

Commenting on the key attractions of Sri Lanka as a frontier market, he asserted that Sri Lanka offers a more diversified economy compared to other oil and commodity heavy frontier markets.  

A fully functioning democracy, an improving balance of payments situation, independent institutions, the rule of law, promising social aspects, the absence of capital controls and Sri Lanka’s strategic location and external growth opportunities surrounding it were identified as key factors that could persuade foreign investors to consider Sri Lanka going forward. 

Adding to the positive sentiments expressed, NASDAQ Vice Chairman Meyer ‘Sandy’ Frucher said: “We believe in the Sri Lanka story, which is why we are represented here at this forum. I have viewed and watched Sri Lanka for a long time and I think that the record and story is getting out there.” 

The Invest SL event in New York was hosted on the back of a considerable level of foreign activity in the stock market in 2017 where foreign purchases during the first half of 2017 established a record for the highest foreign purchases recorded in the first half of a calendar year. Investors from the US have consistently been the leading contributors to foreign turnover in the Sri Lankan stock market, and have contributed to 40% of the total foreign turnover since 2013. 

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Swiss police say knife-wielding asylum seeker killed by officer

Posted on 08 October 2017 by admin

 

Saturday 7 October 2017.

REUTERS.

Despite first aid, the man died at the scene, the police said.(REUTERS)

A 38-year-old refugee from Sri Lanka was shot and killed by Swiss police on Saturday after he charged at two other asylum seekers with knives, law enforcement officials said.

Police in the town of Brissago in Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton of Ticino said they were called to a refugee centre after a report of an altercation after midnight.

Officers say they escorted two asylum seekers into the building, where they were rushed by a man brandishing two knives.

"To guarantee the safety of all those present, a cantonal police officer fired his gun and seriously injured the aggressor," Ticino police said in a statement.

Despite first aid, the man died at the scene, the police said.

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