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Sri Lanka success whets international appetite for mangrove conservation
3 August 2016 - Sri Lanka's pioneering nationwide program to save its damaged mangrove forests is bearing fruit a year on, prompting the U.S. conservation group backing it to look for another island country to launch a similar effort. Mangrove trees grow in saltwater, forming a vital part of the natural cycle in coastal lagoon. The forests protect coastal communities from abrupt tidal shifts and storms, while slowing shore erosion. Mangrove swamps also store carbon, helping to curb planet-warming emissions -- another reason to keep them intact. (more)

Sri Lanka to conserve climate-friendly mangroves ecosystem
26 July 2016 - Sri Lanka's government and environmentalists are working to protect tens of thousands of acres of mangrove forests -- the seawater-tolerant trees that help protect and build landmasses, absorb carbon from the environment, and reduce the impact of natural disasters like tsunamis. There are 22 species of mangroves in Sri Lanka, a third of all mangrove species found around the world. They grow in brackish water estuaries which are not favorable for other plants to grow, and create many environmental and health benefits: (more)

Thousands celebrate Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka
22 February 2016 - Elephants in decorated costumes ambled through the streets of Sri Lanka on Sunday accompanied by dancers and musicians during the annual Buddhist pageant in Colombo, the capital. (more)

Enormous blue star sapphire found in Sri Lanka
7 January 2016 - A blue star sapphire, said to be the world's largest of its kind, has been discovered in Sri Lanka. According to the gem's current owner, gemologists from Sri Lanka's Gemological Institute of Colombo say that what is believed to be the world's largest blue star sapphire has been certified as weighing 1404.49 carats. (more)

Owner of world's largest blue sapphire ponders its fate
7 January 2016 - The owner of the world's largest blue sapphire, which he says is worth more than $100 million, said on Thursday he is deciding whether to auction the Sri Lankan gem or display it as an international attraction. The polished oval sapphire is as large as a person's palm and weighs 1404.49 carats (281 grams), according to a local industry body that certified it, the Gemmological Institute of Colombo. The National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka confirmed the stone was the world's largest blue sapphire. It was mined in Sri Lanka's central district of Ratnapura and is a classified as a natural corundum un-heated blue star sapphire. The three largest blue sapphires have all been found Sri Lanka. (more)

Women to power Sri Lanka's mangrove conservation plan
8 June 2015 - Sri Lanka's new mangrove protection scheme, the world's first country-wide initiative, is relying on women like Michel Priyadarshani, head of a fisherwomen's group in eastern Ambantotam village. Priyadarshani and her colleagues did not understand the importance of mangroves for the ecosystem, including the fish population, until they benefited from a program offering microcredit in return for looking after the coastal forests. (more)

Sri Lanka's new President makes India his first visit abroad
15 February 2015 - Sri Lanka's new leader is underlining India's importance as a regional ally by making it his first official foreign destination as President, following years of uneasy relations with New Delhi and international pressure to speed up post-civil war reconciliation efforts at home. President Maithripala Sirisena's four-day visit, beginning with his arrival Sunday evening, has been welcomed by Indian officials. (more)

Train service back in former Sri Lankan war zone
13 October 2014 - Cheered by tens of thousands of people, a train decorated with banana plants and colourful flower garlands arrived in Sri Lanka's northern Tamil heartland on Monday, 24 years after the 'Queen of Jaffna' was suspended due to civil war. 'Yarl Devi', as it is known in Tamil, was once a popular mode of transport between the ethnic Tamil-majority north and the Sinhala-majority south but was scaled back in 1990 because of the heightening of the civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels. Before the civil war erupted in 1983, the train was the most convenient way to travel between north and south. India loaned $800 million for the project. (more)

Sri Lanka fares well at Fairtrade awards
6 July 2014 - Three awards won by Sri Lanka were among eight awards presented by Fairtrade International -- part of a fair trade movement that works towards ensuring fairer trade and treatment for millions of smallholder farmers and workers. The awards recognize the achievements of farmers and workers, traders and companies, campaigners and staff across the world. Pioneer Sri Lankan fair-trade entrepreneur Sarath Ranaweera was conferred the title of 'Fairest Fairtrader' while the Marginalised Organic Producers Association (MOPA) in Sri Lanka won in the category 'Small Producer Organization -- Asia' and the Stassen Bio Tea Project in Sri Lanka secured an award for 'Workers' Premium Committee Asia'. (more)

Sri Lanka's June tourist arrivals up 14.3 per cent yr/yr
2 July 2014 - Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka jumped 14.3 per cent year-on-year in June, government data showed on Wednesday. Total arrivals hit a record high in 2013. Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka's $67 billion economy. (more)

Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Sri Lanka: Transcendental Meditation boosts student achievement at computer institute
3 September 2011 - Many students and faculty at a computer institute in Sri Lanka have learnt the Transcendental Meditation Programme, which has contributed to their academic success, as demonstrated at an international conference. (more)

Transcendental Meditation as an effective treatment for PTSD - Sri Lanka Guardian
12 April 2011 - The Sri Lanka Guardian recently published an article titled 'Find the best way for combating PTSD in the Sri Lankan military'. The article explores the value of using meditation to reduce post-traumatic stress suffered by active duty military personnel and veterans. Citing research findings that different meditation practices have different effects on the brain, and lead to different benefits, the authors encourage research on the Transcendental Meditation Technique--which has been shown by extensive scientific research to reduce stress--as a promising treatment modality for PTSD. (more)

Sri Lanka looks to Consciousness-Based Education to create invincibility and self-sufficiency: Raja Ior Guglielmi
18 July 2009 - On 11 July 2009, during a series of special presentations following the global Guru Purnima Assembly in MERU, Holland, Raja Ior Guglielmi, Raja of Invincible Sri Lanka for the Global Country of World Peace, reported trends towards the establishment of national invincibility in his domain through education, building construction, and agriculture. (more)

Offering Invincible Defence in Sri Lanka: Eliminating the root cause of violence, terrorism, and war
10 May 2009 - Lasting peace can be achieved through group practice of Yogic Flying, which effectively removes collective stress--the breeding ground for violence, terrorism, and war. The principles of Maharishi's Invincible Defence were featured last month in the Sri Lanka Guardian as part of an interview with Colonel Gunter Chasse, International Deputy Minister of Invincible Defence for the Global Country of World Peace. Col Chasse is a retired German Air Force officer with 40 years of decorated military experience. (more)

Buddhist monks enjoy Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation Programme
24 January 2008 - Reverend Koji Oshima, a Buddhist monk from Japan, has reported outstanding achievements from Sri Lanka and Thailand, where thousands of Buddhist monks have learned Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation Programme. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Sri Lanka's flood survivors threatened by dengue, disease: aid workers
29 May 2017 - Thousands of survivors of devastating floods and landslides in Sri Lanka are at risk of potentially fatal diseases such as dengue fever, charities warned on Monday [29 May] as the death toll from the disaster continued to rise. Torrential rains over the last four days have sparked widespread flooding and triggered landslides in southwestern parts of the Indian Ocean island. At least 177 people have died and almost half a million others have had their lives disrupted. (more)

Mystery kidney disease killing Sri Lankan farmers
18 January 2015 - The cause of a deadly mystery kidney disease, which affects an estimated 70,000 to 400,000 people in Sri Lanka's rice basket, has baffled doctors and researchers for two decades. Even the World Health Organization hasn't been able to pinpoint what's killing as many as 10 people a month in Konketiyawa village in Padaviya, as it creeps farther and farther into neighbouring areas. The disease mirrors equally confounding conditions plaguing thousands of farmworkers in parts of India, Egypt, and Central America. Suspected causes include chronic dehydration and the heavy use and misuse of agrochemicals. In Sri Lanka, fertilizer use is among the heaviest in the world. The latest paper blames glyphosate, the country's top weed killer that's well-known worldwide as Roundup. That hypothesis, published in a little-known open access journal last February, suggests the agrochemical, introduced by US-based Monsanto, forms a bond with heavy metals in food and drinking water that eventually destroys the kidneys. Glyphosate has been detected by the WHO in 65 per cent of those sickened by the mystery kidney disease. (more)

Questions and answers about Sri Lanka mystery kidney disease
18 January 2015 - A mystery kidney disease is killing Sri Lankan farmers. The first cases surfaced some two decades ago in the country's North Central province, the main rice-producing area. Since then, the disease has killed up to an estimated 20,000 people on the Indian Ocean island nation. As researchers work to unravel the cause, and doctors continue to diagnose new patients, here are a few questions and answers about the illness. (more)

UN says Sri Lanka illegally returning Pakistani asylum seekers
2 August 2014 - Sri Lanka must stop deporting Pakistani asylum seekers, a practice banned under international law, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Saturday. Sri Lanka began arresting asylum seekers and refugees on 9 June and has since detained 214 Pakistanis and Afghans in two asylum centres, UNHCR said. Authorities in Colombo said the influx of illegal immigrants in the past year had become a burden on state resources and potentially compromised state and regional security. The Sri Lankan government also blamed people trafficking networks for the recent rise in asylum seekers reaching its shores. In the past two days, Sri Lanka had deported 18 people, with another 10 deportations expected on Sunday, UNHCR said in a statement, adding that the repatriations breached a 'no forced return' principle. (more)

First stop police station for Sri Lanka asylum seekers handed back by Australia
7 July 2014 - A boatload of asylum seekers intercepted by the Australian navy and returned to Sri Lanka are to be handed over to the police, a Sri Lankan naval spokesman said on Monday, a move bound to fuel concerns about Australia's hard-line policy and rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Australian border patrol personnel intercepted the vessel carrying the Sri Lankan asylum seekers west of the remote Cocos Islands last week after they were suspected of entering Australian waters illegally. The 41 people on board were transferred to Sri Lankan authorities on Sunday, Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement. Sri Lankan navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said the group would be handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department. Rights groups and some Western countries have raised concerns with Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations during the final phase of the war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009. Sri Lanka says many asylum seekers are economic migrants, but rights groups say Tamils seek asylum to prevent torture, abuse, and other violence at the hands of the military. (more)

Herbicide ban on hold in Sri Lanka
10 April 2014 - Facing political opposition and questions about its scientific evidence, Sri Lanka's government has placed on hold its decision to ban the top-selling Monsanto herbicide glyphosate based on the weed killer's alleged role in a deadly epidemic of kidney disease. The delay represents a setback to efforts by some scientists and health officials, primarily in Sri Lanka and El Salvador, to remove the herbicide for its potential link to the mysterious kidney disease that has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers. Monsanto, other agrochemical producers and Sri Lankan officials, including Registrar of Pesticides Anura Wijesekara, have pushed back. For more than two years, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has examined a rare form of kidney disease devastating agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists suspect the malady is caused by a combination of factors including chronic dehydration from hard labour in tropical heat, and exposure to toxins such as pesticides. (more)

Sri Lanka arrests two rights defenders under terrorism act
17 March 2014 - Sri Lanka arrested two human rights activists in the former northern war zone, the military said on Monday, using anti-terrorism legislation that was used to crush Tamil Tiger rebels during the final phase of a 26-year war. The UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay in a report last month expressed grave concern at the harassment and intimidation against individuals or groups who met or attempted to meet her. Rights groups have criticised Sri Lanka over the abuse, and sometimes death, of suspects held in custody. The arrest of the two activists came amid growing international pressure on the government to address allegations that tens of thousands of civilians were killed by the army in the final weeks of the war. Many more people are still missing. Western governments and United Nations have asked the island nation to investigate alleged war crimes and continuing human rights abuses. The United States has also called for a resolution at the UN's Human Rights Council to investigate 'past abuses and to examine more recent attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, and religious minorities.' (more)

Mystery kidney disease spreads in Sri Lanka
6 March 2014 - Increasing incidence of a chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKDu) is quickly turning into Sri Lanka's latest health crisis, with hospitals in the country's most affected province linking 80 per cent of patients' deaths to renal failure. Scientists have failed to identify a cause, thwarting efforts to prevent the disease which leads to renal failure, and at worst, death. The disease some refer to as an 'unknown plague' has triggered internal migration, particularly among youths living in disease-prone areas. Health officials banned the import of three pesticides (chlopyrifos, propanil and vabarly) last April after local researchers linked agrochemicals to the disease. Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told IRIN: 'These pesticides are extremely harmful to human health. Even if there is no direct link, this is preventive action.' The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are approximately 20,000 CKDu patients undergoing care in NCP, with the most densely populated district, Anuradhapura, where the disease was first reported in 2000, recording the highest number of patients. (more)

Sri Lanka killer kidney disease linked to Monsanto weedicide, phosphate fertilizer: study
2 March 2014 - An herbicide developed by US-based Monsanto and contaminated fertilizer may be behind an epidemic of mystery kidney disease in Sri Lanka and South America where rice and sugarcane is grown, a research study has suggested. N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine or Aminophosphonate a widely used herbicide better known as glyphosate, could be helping carry heavy metals toxic to kidneys, occurring naturally and in agro-chemicals such as phosphate fertilizer, the researchers said. Chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) first appeared in Sri Lanka's rice growing areas in the north central province in the 1990s and has been spreading into other areas including the South, with over 20,000 estimated deaths so far. Glyphosate was originally used as a de-scaling agent to clean out calcium and other mineral deposits in hot water systems, the study said. De-scaling agents tie themselves to on metals like Calcium and Magnesium and makes them water soluble. It was later sold as a herbicide by US-based Monsanto under the brand name 'Round up' and was under patent until 2000. The study by Channa Jayasumana (Rajarata University, Sri Lanka), Sarath Gunatilake (California State University, USA) and Priyantha Senanayake (Hela Suwaya Organization, Sri Lanka) has been published in Swiss-based International Journals of Environmental Research and Public Health. (more)

Sri Lanka drifting towards authoritarian rule - UN rights chief
25 September 2013 - Four years after it crushed a long separatist rebellion, Sri Lanka may be sliding towards an authoritarian system as President Mahinda Rajapaksa gathers power around him, the UN human rights chief said on Wednesday. The report by Navi Pillay, said the largely Buddhist South Asian state was also seeing a surge of violence against religious minorities -- Christians, Muslims, and Hindus -- while the Colombo government stood by. Pillay said she had found great disquiet 'about the degree to which the rule of law and democratic institutions in Sri Lanka are being undermined and eroded'. She said a newly created Ministry of Law and Order would come under Rajapaksa's direct control, as had happened with the Defence Ministry, and that recent changes to the Sri Lankan constitution had weakened checks and balances on his rule. She said this year's removal of an outspoken chief justice had eroded the long-standing independence of the judiciary. (more)


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