Shameless government information department..

Today I visited governments official news web site I was amazed after seeing it has given a prominence to "Kolonne Jaggery" while LTTE terrorists massacred 12 sinhalese vilagers in Welikanda. And LTTE's tamilnet has already begun counter propaganada to divert from the blame. When I search googles news website for "Sri Lanka" I found countless news items regarding Sri Lanka, yet Government Information Department couldnt find a news except "Kolonne Jaggery"
Shame on you officials at Info Dept!!!


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I found very nice online font designing web site..Its worth trying..


The man who stood up for Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, there is no war, it is terrorism.

The enemy is by no means an invading force from overseas, they are a bunch of Sri Lankans who have been brainwashed by some foreign ruling elite and their social, religious and business institutions, to ask for Tamilnadu National rights in Sri Lanka.

This is a story that proves the charisma of the men in blues; the Officers and men of the Sri Lanka Navy's premier fighting force, the Fourth Fast Attack Craft(FAC) Flotilla which is based in Trincomalee.

One of the Officers who was commanding one of these top of the line FACs, was Lieutenant Commander Ediripulige Lalith Prasanna Edirisinghe. A seemingly calm & quiet character, married and with two very young children, he had all the reasons to live than risking his life in a highly demanding environment where National security has gone to dogs due to foreign advice and pressure made possible by corruption, incompetence, and lack of action by the authorities.

Being the Officer-In-Command of P 418, a Colombo Dockyard built FAC, he was responsible for the lives of 18 men; His decision was sure to affect the fate of the other FACs whose lives depended on eachother.

On 11th May 2006, P 418 was assigned to patrol the seas off terrorists dominated coastline Chalai in the North-eastern coast of Sri Lanka. His crew comprised of 18 men, including one Signalman from Sri Lanka Army. His Third-In-Command, Sub Liuetenant Dinesh Harshjeewa Rathnayake was a batchtop cadet who was trained in Britannia Royal Naval College, Dratmouth UK. He was by his side when they sensed that the terrorists were up to something.
The terrorists, LTTE sea tigers were observed to be gathering off the coastline of Vettalaikerni, a fishing village at the coastline since mid afternoon by the patrolling FACs. They observed terrorists fibre glass boats fitted with medium calibre weapons and lethal weapons gathering very close to the coastline about 50-100 meters from the shoreline and also the presence of at least four suicide craft. The suicide craft distinguishable from their features had been the most lethal weapon terrorists used and Navy have good experience in encountering them in earlier confrontations.

Since terrorists intentions were hostile, the patrolling FACs requested re-enforcements and another two FACS arrived at the location. Having assessed the tactical picture they decided to form a barrier at a distance of 5 Nautical miles from land since Passenger Vessel Pearl Cruise was on the way from Trincomalee with 710 Service, Police personnel and few civilians. This vessel sails almost on daily basis, transporting Service personnel from Kankasanthurai to Trincomalee and back. The vessel was escorted by another two FACs and one Fast Gun Boat. They were about 25 miles from the terrorists gathering which by now has increased to 16 attack craft and 4 suicide boats.

FACs could only observe the gathering and report since attacking the terrorists boats at that close to shoreline could hurt innocent fishing folks of the fishing hamlets along the coastline. SL Navy men has to look after all Sri Lankans.

It was the terrorists that made the first move by speeding towards the passenger vessel. Having realised the gravity of the situation the four FACs singlehandedly decided to confront the terrorists without waiting for further re-enforcements. Against overwhelming numbers of terrorist boats fitted with wide variety of weapons such as 23mm, 14.5mm and supported by terrorists's never-to-operate-without suicide boats, the balance of power favoured the terrorists.

Undeterred men in blues took up their position, donned their body armours and allowed terrorists to come away from land. One of the FACs, P 497 commanded by Lieutenant Lakshitha Rathnathilake reported over the radio that whilst increasing to combat speed one of his main engines had stopped. Senior most officer on the scene. Commander Lalith Prasanna Edirisinghe who was just 1500m away from his troubled buddy promptly responded and manoeuvred his craft between the approaching cluster of terrorist boats and the troubled P 497. Proving his valour and outstanding officer qualities he engaged the terrorists cluster in order to give time for his buddy to get the engine re-started.
Having done the re-starting well under two minutes, Lakshitha Rathnathilake informed his superior officer, Lalith Edirisinghe that he is ready once again. By this time Lalith Edirisinghe has spotted the unusually big suicide boat coming out with the terrorists cluster. With his experience he knew what the big suicide boat was for.

Whilst Lakshitha Rathnathilake was pulling out, he observed that his senior officer was heading straight to this large suicide boatwhile avoiding several terrorists attack crafts. Before he could speak over the radio, there was a cracking in the communication set and with that a huge explosion was observed at some 1500m away from him. As the smoke cleared he could not see P 418, not even the wreck.

It was Lalith Edirisinghe, being the senior officer in the theatre of operation, took charge of the developing situation and decided to sacrifice his life and the 18 of his men in order to ensure that the Pearl Cruise with 710 lives is safe.

Although out numbered heavily; 20 terrorists boats against 4 FACs, the chances of terrorists slipping through the Navy boats was high. He had made the decision that saved the lives of 710 men at the risk of crew of FAC. His parting instructions to other two FACs was to engage and stop the terrorists dash to Pearl Cruise. And the two FACs did exactly that.

Many Lankan movie directors and actors have gladly and foolishly accepted foreign-funded opportunities to portray nation's defence force heroes as useless cowards in many movies. The statement of the SLMM representative onboard P 421, Mr Lars Bleymann commending the outstanding performances of Lieutenant Ranjith Walgampaya and his crew is a living testimony to the fighting bravery of the men in blues. Undeterred by over whelming numbers Ranjith Walgampaya & Lieutenant Arunashantha Wijayawardena blocked the advancing terrorists clusters by repeatedly engaging terrorists whilst mutually covering each other.

Sooner they heard the cracking voice informing that Lalith Edirisinghe's boat had come under a suicide attack they altered to the explosion site in order to hit terrorists and recover own personnel if any is in water. However Lalith edirisinghe's boat had sunk without a trace of any survivors. Quickly they focussed on their mission, although having experienced a devastating loss, time was not for grieving and lamenting, and the terrorists still could regroup and push for their target.

However terrorists seems to be reluctant to press further despite the presence of the three smaller suicide boats. Three remaining FACs placed a barrier line and waited to terrorists to advance but terrorists seems to be bewildered and unsure what to do after losing the large suicide boat which was to hit the passenger ship.

Meantime further reinforcements were speeding to the area from Kankasanthurai port and Trincomalee. Air force has taken to wings and safety of Pearl Cruise was enhanced. The first priority was the passengers, and further offensive action with three FACs was considered tactically disadvantageous. However by the time passengers were safely disembarked at Kankasanthurai port, the terrorists had retreated to their stronghold on the coast. Retreating terrorists were repeatedly engaged by Air force causing fairly high casualty to terrorists.

Another remarkable story unfolded onboard the passenger vessel Pearl Cruise. The Naval officer acting as the Liaison Officer onboard was listening to all the communication over the radio and he quickly closed the air tight doors so the passengers could not hear what was told over the radio. Then he placed the handful number of naval personnel of the security detail around the weather deck of the ferry without arousing suspicion of the passengers. No passenger knew about the unfolding situation outside and when the ferry was secured safely at the harbour just before they get down, the Officer, over the public address system onboard made the announcement that Navy had sacrificed 18 lives to save 710 lives and narrated the terrorists confrontation. It was reported that the passengers were stunned to hear the story and praised the men who gave not only their lives and their future, but also the future and the happiness of their loved ones, for them and also the Liaison Officer for his calmness and decision not to inform which obviously could have created a pandemonium onboard.


Microsoft shows off JPEG rival

If it is up to Microsoft, the omnipresent JPEG image format will be replaced by Windows Media Photo.
The software maker detailed the new image format on Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle. Windows Media Photo will be supported in Windows Vista and also be made available for Windows XP, Bill Crow, program manager for Windows Media Photo said in a presentation.

"One of the biggest reasons people upgrade their PCs is digital photos," Crow said, noting that Microsoft has been in contact with printer makers, digital camera companies and other unnamed industry partners while working on Windows Media Photo. Microsoft touts managing "digital memories" as one of the key attributes of XP successor Vista.

In his presentation, Crow showed an image with 24:1 compression that visibly contained more detail in the Windows Media Photo format than the JPEG and JPEG 2000 formats compressed at the same level.

Still, the image in the Microsoft format was somewhat distorted because of the high compression level. Typically digital cameras today use 6:1 compression, Crow said. Windows Media Photo should offer better pictures at double that level, he said. "We can do it in half the size of a JPEG file."

Not only does compression save storage space, which is especially important for devices such as cell phones and digital cameras, a smaller file can also print faster, transfer faster and help conserve battery life on devices, Crow said. "Making a file that is smaller has all kinds of benefits."

The compression technology is also "smart" -- it is possible to process only part of a huge, picture file to show a smaller version, Crow said. Additionally, Microsoft's new image format allows such things as rotating the image without the need to decode it and subsequently encode it again, he said.

The new image format was received with cautious enthusiasm by some of the WinHEC attendees. Ralf Mueller, an application planner at mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson, said he would look into the new format just as his company looked into supporting Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video.

"Considering our development cycle, I could not see us supporting Windows Media Photo before 2008," Mueller said.

Steven Wells, a part-time professional photographer, said he sees promise in the new file format. "The JPEG artefacts make it almost unusable for professional photographers," he said. "Windows Media Photo is possibly the first viable compression format."

Yet, success will depend on adoption, Wells said. Microsoft will need to get players such as Adobe Systems and Apple Computer on board to win over the graphics professionals, he noted. A major unknown is licensing, which Microsoft has not yet addressed. "Licensing can kill this," Wells said.

Windows Media Photo was developed by the same people who worked on Windows Media Video and Audio, Crow said. The image format takes a new approach to compression as well as colour space and colour conversion, he said. Furthermore, it gives a lot of flexibility, including in the pixel format and bit rate, Crow said.

Microsoft has finished the first official version of the "porting kit" software needed to build support for Windows Media Photo into devices and platforms other than Windows. It should be available soon, Crow said.

Licensing details for the technology are still being ironed out. These could be a concern, Crow acknowledged, but "the philosophy has been that licensing should not be a restriction" to adoption, he said.


Yahoo-eBay deal a Google-buster?

Yahoo and eBay are gunning for Google, whether they'll admit to it or not.
The two companies unveiled a partnership Thursday morning in the United States that could bring more advertising revenue to Yahoo, whose market share losses to Google brought angry words from shareholders at the portal giant's annual stockholder meeting later in the day.

eBay approached Yahoo to discuss working together more closely on advertising, said Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel. But the multiyear partnership centered on advertising, e-commerce and search will benefit both companies, he told ZDNet Australia sister site CNET following the shareholder meeting.

"The deal offers great opportunities for both companies to share great assets with each other," Semel said. "It's all about creating more value and a better experience for users as well as for advertisers."

Neither Yahoo executives nor shareholders mentioned the deal at the meeting, but several shareholders complained that Yahoo hasn't done enough to compete.

"It seems like you're being outsmarted by a couple of Stanford dropouts at Google," Edward Abramczyk said in addressing Yahoo's management.

"Google's business has boomed. We lost billions of dollars in revenue to Google and others," said another shareholder.

Semel reminded shareholders that although search advertising is the leading way to make money, Yahoo is ahead of its rivals in providing services, such as e-mail, instant messaging, news and music, which people spend more time using.

"We think the Internet is still in the very early days," he said. "We have a leadership position in a number of the most heavily used things on the Internet."

As previously reported, under the deal with eBay, Yahoo will become the exclusive third-party provider of all graphical ads on eBay and will also provide new text ads on some search results pages. Yahoo search and site links will be integrated into a co-branded version of the eBay toolbar.

Meanwhile, eBay's PayPal service will be the online payment method used by Yahoo customers, merchants and publishers and will be integrated into product offerings. The two companies will also explore co-developing their respective voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. That project will look at releasing "click-to-call" ad technologies on their Web sites, using both Yahoo Messenger with Voice and eBay's Skype service.

"It's a unique partnership. It's the first time we've gone off (our) network with graphical ads" said Yahoo chief operating officer Dan Rosensweig. eBay is a "huge, fertile, relevant environment" for advertisers.

Specific financial details were not released, but both companies said the deal would not be material to 2006 results and that any financial impact for 2007 and beyond would be detailed when the companies issue their outlooks for those periods.

The companies plan to begin releasing the new products this year, starting with a several-month-long trial phase, and they hope to complete the launch next year.

Both Yahoo and eBay have seen increasing competition in their core markets, most notably from big hitters Microsoft and Google. Google's Base service, for instance, which launched last year, lets people post and search for information ranging from apartment listings to recipes.

Earlier this week, Wall Street analysts speculated that a tie-up between eBay and Yahoo would make sense, explaining that pooling their resources would give the companies more leverage in search, advertising and customer breadth.

Reports had surfaced earlier this year that eBay was in talks with both Microsoft and Yahoo to form a partnership to fight off Google.

Analysts said the partnership was a big win for eBay in particular.

"This deal should improve the position of an already very strong PayPal franchise," Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a research alert. "But what's potentially most needle-moving/thesis-changing here is eBay tapping into display advertising."

Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said the deal should boost both companies' bottom lines but this doesn't necessarily mean either one will start taking market share away from Google.

For Yahoo, Devitt noted, the deal brings a "massive ad client" in the form of eBay. And for PayPal, "the ability to cross-sell a payment platform on the largest traffic network on the Internet is significant to, and very beneficial to, the market value of the PayPal piece of eBay," he said.

"It's not so much about shifting query share as taking undermonetised components and filling holes with partners," he said. "Unless there's something over time which shifts query share, it's not that big of a strategic move (in relation) to Google."

Alexia S. Quadrani of Bear Stearns said the main concern that has weighed on Yahoo's stock has been the increased competitive marketplace online.

"We believe a partnership with the No. 5 destination site on the Web helps bolster Yahoo's competitive position," Quadrani wrote in a research note. "This deal may also weaken competitor MSN's position given speculation by newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal (4/21/06) that MSN might partner with eBay."

Safa Rashtchy of Piper Jaffray said the deal gives eBay the ability to monetise its huge amount of traffic and allows Yahoo to reach the 75 million or so users within the eBay network. "The partnership is a loss of potential partnership for Google and as such it is a negative, but we believe it is unlikely to undermine Google's position," he wrote in a research note.

Yahoo had a 69 percent active reach among Internet users in April, with 105.9 million unique visitors, and eBay's active reach was 39 percent, with 60 million unique visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Also at the shareholder meeting, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang declined a request by stockholder activist Amnesty International USA that the company ask the Chinese government to release Internet dissidents jailed in China. Yahoo has been accused of providing information on users that led to the arrest of several people in China.


Dell builds Google PCs, sort of

Mountain View (CA) - Dell and Google apparently have reached an agreement to ship PCs that come with a standard installation of a Google software package. According to media reports, the cooperation will be only the first in a series of deals.

The rumor of the Google PC has been making its rounds in Internet forums for several years. So far, we have not seen those speculations to transition into a real product and even Google executives typically take question about such a device with humor: "Is there a rumor?" said, for example, co-founder Larry Page at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year. On a more serious note, spokespeople told TG Daily back then that those rumors were "an idea out of the blue sky."

But Google does not necessarily need to build a system to get its name onto a desktop. Media today reported that the company in fact followed up on an announcement made by Google and Dell last February, which said that Google software would be installed on Dell PCs. Details of the negotiations have been kept secret, but some sources suggested back then that Dell would put Google on up to 100 million computers at the factory level.

According to Bloomberg News, Google will be paying Dell a fee for every PC that is shipped with Google software. Google is likely to be able to regain the cost through an increased user crowd that will boost the firm's already strong advertising sales. Jordan Rohan, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York told Bloomberg that "a payment by Google of $5 for each PC would be made back in about 12 clicks by users on a Google ad."

The Dell-Google deal is considered widely as a setback for Microsoft, which had its place on Dell desktops for several years. In any case, a standard Google installation on Dell computers represents yet another challenge for Microsoft to gain dround on Google's dominance in the search market and may weaken the firm's strategy to attract users through a richer serach capability in Windows Vista.


Prepare to decommission weapons

Calling on EU member States to `to do everything in their capacity in order to stop all illegal attempts by the LTTE to uphold a system of forced taxation among sections of the Tamil Community living in the European Union`, the European Union Parliament Thursday requested the member states to freeze the assets of the LTTE associated bank accounts, holdings, companies or undertakings.

The EU parliament also reiterated that it does not recognize the Tigers` claim of being the sole representatives of the Tamil speaking people.

The EU also urged the LTTE to resume negotiations with the government without delay, and to be prepared to decommission its weapons and to set the state for a final political settlement of the conflict.

Severely condemning the stepped up LTTE attacks; the EU slammed both parties for the high level of human rights violations and the constant breaches of the CFA.

The resolution condemned the LTTE for targeting a troop ship carrying 710 unarmed personnel thereby endangering the lives of Nordic truce monitors accompanying the navy and the suicide attack on Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and recruitment of child soldiers.


EU bans LTTE?

This will have far reaching consequences for the Sri Lankan terrorist organisation which has exhausted the patience of the international community with its belligerence.

The ban is expected to freeze the terror group`s assets, shut down its operations and raids by law enforcement authorities of the member states. Such actions will seriously deplete the terror groups support base and deprive it of the oxygen of civilian support. LTTE fund raising both voluntary and via extortion will drastically reduce.

The LTTE is rapidly getting isolated and its latest ally Norway is also disillusioned. Norwegian Police has already begun carrying out raids against Tamil criminal activity and arrested and deported 28 Tamils within the last few weeks. Computers and files were seized and the Oslo Police are holding onto them.

The European Union was to consider the proscription of LTTE on 17th and 18th May 2006. Quasi Group meeting considered submissions by Euro MP`s on 17th and was in favour of a proscription. A decision is expected shortly with details of the implementation of the proscription.

The current impasse in the peace efforts played heavily on the deliberations of the EU and in whether a full scale ban should be imposed on the LTTE. The EU had already imposed travel ban on the LTTE leaders following the assassination of the former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Until recently, three Nordic countries Denmark, Finland and Sweden who are members of the EU is said to be opposing total ban against the LTTE. Sources in Brussels state that their position changed as a result of the intransigent position taken by the LTTE and the recent Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission Report.

The LTTE has been trying to intimidate the SLMM, with threats against the physical security of Nordic peace monitors who were travelling on Sri Lankan Navy vessels. The LTTE were particularly aggrieved that the SLMM referred to the LTTE as a non-state actor and the terrorist leaders are reported to have severely reprimanded the SLMM head, Major General Ulf Henricsson. The conduct of the LTTE is not one of a non state actor, but of a non state comedian.

The terrorists also tried to intimidate the SLMM in forcing it to release reports favourable to it, criticising the Sri Lankan army of extra-judicial killings when there was no evidence to support such allegations. The LTTE is known to kill Tamils and put the blame on Sri Lankan security forces in order to bring about international pressure on the Sri Lankan state. The LTTE has a history of never acknowledging its war crimes.

The United States is also encouraging the EU to proscribe the LTTE.

In a last ditch attempt the LTTE`s London based leader, Anton Balasingham has been lobbying heavily against a EU ban. Even its method of lobbying is one of intimidation, by threatening the EU, that if it is banned, the LTTE will be forced to take a more hard line attitude. Balasingham is reported to have stated `The more the international community alienates the LTTE, the more the LTTE will be compelled to tread a hard-line individualist path`.

It is doubtful if the EU or the SLMM is going to be intimidated by terrorists. Humility is a lesson that the LTTE needs to learn in place of its present shot gun diplomacy of threats, assassinations and intimidation.

The EU declaration below in relation to the LTTE proscription is arrived at after taking into consideration the recent LTTE ceasefire breaches, and in particular the attack on the Navy vessels and the suicide attack on General Sarath Fonseka and the assassination of Foreign Minister Lukshman Kadirgamar.

1. Strongly welcomed the move by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to return to the negotiating table in February, and condemns, therefore, the LTTE`s unilateral refusal to participate in the second round of negotiations in Geneva that were scheduled for April 2006;

2. Urgently calls on the LTTE to resume peace negotiations with the Government of Sri Lanka without delay, to be prepared to decommission its weapons and to set the stage for a final political settlement of the conflict;

3. Severely condemns the renewed campaign of attacks by the LTTE and the high level of human rights violations committed by both sides and the constant breaches of the ceasefire agreement;

4. Deplores the gross violations of the Cease-Fire Agreement by the LTTE through actions at sea, in particular the attack of 11 May on the Sri Lankan naval force, which resulted in many casualties and put SLMM monitors in grave danger;

5. Calls upon the parties to the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure the security of the SLMM which is an unarmed body invited by both the Government and the LTTE to monitor the Ceasefire Agreement, in order to allow the mission to fulfill its mandate and commends the contributing countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden for their invaluable work;

6. Calls on both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka to refrain from further actions liable to jeopardise the peace process, and in particular attacks on civilians;

7. Expresses its condemnation of the appalling abuse of children through the recruitment of child soldiers, which is a war crime, and calls on all rebel groups and notably the LTTE to stop this practice, to release those its holds and to make a declaration of principle not to recruit any children in the future; urges the Government of Sri Lanka to put into place legal measures to prevent and criminalise the practice;

8. Recognises that the LTTE does not represent all the Tamil peoples of Sri Lanka and calls on the LTTE to allow for political pluralism and alternate democratic voices in the north and east parts of Sri Lanka which would secure the interests of all peoples and communities;

9. Strongly condemns the particular repression against Tamil language press or Tamil organisations, and calls for a thorough investigation into the murders of Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan and Dharmeratnam Sivaram as well as the two employees of the newspaper `Uthayan`;

10. Recognises that Sri Lanka`s recent election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council places an obligation on the government to manifest its commitment to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights;

11. Calls on the Commission and the government of Sri Lanka to ensure the reactivation of Sri Lanka`s Human Rights Commission and stresses the need for an effective independent investigation into all alleged human rights violations by security forces or armed groups, bringing the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards, and insists that all parties should subscribe to comprehensive human rights agreements as a key element of future peace negotiations;

12. As an immediate gesture of goodwill, urges both sides to cease the use of anti-personnel landmines and to assist in their removal and to this end, the Government of Sri Lanka should set an example by signing the Ottawa Convention and the LTTE should sign the Geneva Call `Deed of Commitment`;

13. Worried because a deal to share international aid has still not been implemented, believes that aid sent to Sri Lanka by the EU, and other international donors, in response to the tsunami must benefit the victims of that disaster without regard to their ethnic or religious denomination; but is concerned about the distribution and use of tsunami funds, which have not had the expected impact on the everyday lives of the victims or on Sri Lanka`s recovery; notes that political gridlock on the `Post-Tsunami Operations Management Structure` has already delayed the release of a further `8050 million in aid, hindering reconstruction work in the North and East of Sri Lanka;

14. Deplores that the demands of heavy defence costs have for many years diverted resources away from urgently needed investments in economic and social infrastructure in Sri Lanka;

15. Calls on the EU Member States to do everything in their capacity in order to stop all illegal attempts by the LTTE to uphold a system of forced taxation among sections of the Tamil community living in the European Union;

16. As a part of this process, calls on the Commission and Member States to follow the example of other countries and to freeze the assets of the LTTE associated bank accounts, holdings, companies or undertakings in member states of the European Union;

17. Recognises that the EU has declared that delegations from the LTTE will no longer be received in any of the EU member states until further notice, and that the EU is actively considering the formal listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation;

18. Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to remain committed to a fair and sustainable solution to the Sri Lankan conflict and reiterates its support to all the people of Sri Lanka and their President Mr Mahinda Rajapakse as they address together the challenges that lie ahead.

19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments of the other members of the Co-Chairs Group Norway, USA and Japan, the UN Secretary General as well as the governments of Switzerland, Sri Lanka and the other SAARC countries and the LTTE.


Japan kicked in the pants by the LTTE

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

Yashushi Akashi, one of the four Co-chairs (Norway, EU. USA being the other three), represents Japan's diplomatic arm extended across Asia to make its presence felt in the region as a significant player. Japan's role was made more explicit in the latest editorial of Japan Times (May 9, 2006). In a rather assertive tone it editorialized: "Japan has a central role to play in Sri Lanka. It is the largest single donor to the country, providing 45 percent of all external aid. Former U.N. Undersecretary General Yasushi Akashi has been appointed Japan's representative for peace building and reconstruction." Clearly, Akashi comes highly recommended to play Japan's "central role". In fact, the Japan Times, added: "Mr. Akashi has a long record of work on peace building and can, with real support, help bring the sides together.

"He already has the incentives he needs. Now, he and the other peace negotiators need sticks. If the violence continues and the talks remain blocked, other governments should declare the LTTE a terrorist group, refuse to have contact with the group, and block remittances from Tamils overseas that can be used to support its activities.

The government too must be isolated and sent a clear message that it must end its support of militias that fight the Tamils and halt the violence against civilians. Enough is enough," it concluded, quoting President Mahinda Rajapakse's words.

It is reasonable to assume that this reflects Japan official policy. Akashi's actions so far too confirm this. Two main issues arise from this statement: 1) the validity of Akashi's role since there are no visible gains on the ground to prove his expertise in conflict resolution in Sri Lanka and (2) Japan's intention of using "sticks" to the worsening situation caused by the LTTE tactics of increasing its demands (accompanied by violence) each time the Government moves to accommodate them. The second aspect has to be dealt separately. But first it is important deal with the role of Akashi's "long record of peace building" in Sri Lanka and his "help to bring both sides together," as lauded by the Japan Times.

Akashi, no doubt, has a long record of going on pilgrimages to the Vanni shrine and returning empty handed. Oftentimes, he is not even received by the decision-making Vanniar. Without the Vanniar's consent no peace-builder can get both sides together. Apart from the Vanniar's declaration made in his last annual speech to go to war (there is no ambiguity about that!) his sign language alone is sufficient for Japanese readers of Sri Lankan politics to understand the extent to which the Vanni leadership is committed to negotiate peace. But Akashi never fails to visit the Vanni shrine despite his repeated failure to persuade the LTTE to either meet him or come to talks.

To all intents and purpose the Vanni shrine is similar to the infamous Yakusuni Shrine in Japan. It is a military burial ground that contains the remains of the top Japanese war criminals responsible for atrocities in China and Korea in the 1930s and '40s. The right-wing Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi's defiant visits to this shrine repeatedly to pay tribute to the Japanese war criminals have invariably outraged international opinion. Ichida Tadayoshi, head of the Japanese Communist Party, condemned this tendency to commemorate the imperialist horrors of Japan, saying: "Far from expressing remorse for the war of aggression, the current prime minister visits the Yakasuni Shrine [with] some exhibitions actually glorifying the war." He added: "To resolve the differences between Japan and China, it is necessary to put an end to the
arrogant and belligerent attitude of the Koizumi cabinet."

Asian neighbors too who have been victims of the atrocities committed by the invading Japanese forces view these visits as a sure sign of the resurgence of Japanese militarism. So is there a difference in Koizumi's visits to a shrine of war criminals in Japan and Akashi's visits to the Vanni shrine?

It seems that the Japanese Foreign Ministry is yet to advise Akashi that Amnesty International, in its latest report on Sri Lanka (February 3, 2006), has listed the war crimes and the crimes committed against humanity by the Vanni leadership. As the leader of the banned terrorist organisation the finger points directly to Prabhakaran as a war criminal for (1) forcibly abducting children and (2) abducting adults and torturing them. Does Akashi care? On the odd occasion he met Prabhakaran he came out grinning to praise the crab curry he shared with him.

Of course, he would argue that he does it in fulfilling the role of a "peace builder with a long record." But what have his visits to the Vanni shrine achieved other than Akashi sharing crab curry once with Prabhakaran? So far the public has only seen the unmistakable footprints of the Vanniar in the seat of his pants each time he comes out of Vanni. So why does Akashi keep on going back to Vanni when he knows
beforehand that nothing is going to come out of it?

With his long record of peace building he could not even persuade the Vanniar to visit Tokyo (no obstacles there of Government providing transport!) to get a share of $4.5 aid for the Tamils.

If Akashi could not get the Vanniar to visit international donors in Tokyo distributing goodies for the welfare of the Tamils what chances has he of bringing him to Geneva to talk about peace? His last visit last week was the same as his futile visits before. Will his future visits make a difference?

Why then does he keep on going to the Vanni shrine? Is it an exercise in sado-masochism where he enjoys the kicks in the pants? Or is it an exercise to lengthen his futile record in peace-building? Does he realise that each time the Vanni leadership kicks Akashi they do it to humiliate not only him but also the pride and dignity of Japan?

But does Akashi care? Why should he? After all, if the history books of Japan are wiping out the shame of the infamous "rape of Nanking" in 1937, in which up to 300,000 Chinese were systematically slaughtered by Japanese imperial troops on the orders of Emperor Hirohito why should Akashi have any shame about visiting Prabhakaran? The Japanese can always rewrite their history to cover up their shame.

The stark facts of the so-called peace process are staring in the face of both Akashi and Solheim -- the two key players involved in direct negotitions with the state and the non-state players. After all their failed attempts to convince the Vanniar to abandon violence this pair should know by now who is for peace and who is not.

Their consistent appeasing has even emboldened the Vanniar to demand that the Truce Monitors should not board the Naval vessels. After receving this diktat and after the latest naval clash off the coast of Jaffna Truce Monitors came out saying:

"This sort of reckless behaviour can only lead to a dangerous escalation resulting in growing hostilities and jeopardising any possibility for future peace talks."

So what have the two experts done to curtail "the reckless behaviour jeopardising any future peace talks? Neither the international community nor the general public - both in Sri Lanka and the diaspora - believe that the LTTE has been genuine about pursuing peace through negotiations. The opinion poll of the Asian Tribune concluded lst week with 83.23% saying that the LTTE is NOT genuine in achieving peace through negotiations. Simultaneously, 75.99% agreed that the Sri Lankan government is genuine about achieving peace through negotiations. Indian media too reported that Delhi had told Mangala Samaraweera, during his visit to the Indian capital last week, that the LTTE is not genuine about peace talks.

Unable to face this reality Akashi, like Erik Solheim, has washed his hands off saying that the "ownership of making peace is with both parties" and not with the intermediaries who came with boastful claims of possessing excellent expertise in conflict resolution.

Each time they hit a stumbling block in the Vanni both Akashi and Solheim back off palming the blame to the Sri Lankan government. In other words, their success depends not on pushing the Vanniar to advance towards peace but in forcing the Sri Lankan government to make concession after concession to make them look good. If the Sri Lankan government has been as intrasignet as the Vanniar they would have ended with eggs on their faces. So far they have managaed to look good because the Sri Lankan government has accommodated them with a genuine interest in restoring peace and normalcy to the nation.

When they stepped into the Sri Lankan crisis they came as equal stake holders in the business of making peace. But they shed all responsibility when they fail to persuade the Vanniar to compromise even on minor technicalities like the mode of transporting their commanders to a central committee meeting.

To begin with, a meetng of military commanders is totally rrelevant to a purely political decision of going or not going to peace talks. In any case, the responsibility of the making the decision to attend the Geneva lies entirely with the head of state, President Mahinda Rajapakse and the head of the non-state rebel group, Velupillair Prabhkaran. Given these hard realities, what should be the role of the Solheim and Akashi? Is their role to repeat the excuses trotted out by the Vanni leadership or to say enough is enough?

There is, no doubt, that they have to handle controversial issues that bog down both parties gingerly. They must be sensitive to the claims of the both sides. But that doesn't mean that they must cover-up for one side or the other. One way of breaking down the intransigence is to call a spade a spade.

When 83.23% of a global survey of public opinion say that the LTTE is NOT geuniune about peace it shoud send a clear singal to Solheim and Akashi that they can no longer hide the belligerecne and intrasigence of the man presiding over the Yakusuni Shrine in the Vanni. Public opinion indicts these two experts for not exercising their legitimate moral authority to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table.

After all, they were brought in do precisely that job. Instead of which Akashi comes out saying that (hold you breath readers!) that it is the duty of the Government to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table.

If that is so why doesn't Akashi pack up and go home and let the Sri Lankan government handle the issue the way it sees fit? No, they don't want to that either.

They want to be in it, get the credit for any successes and when they fail put the blame on the Sri Lankan government. Will not their moral authority be enhanced and will not their role be more effective if they, even at this late stage, put their cards on the table for all to see? Hasn't the sitution deteriorated to the prevailing scenario because of the incompetence of the Solheim and Akashi to deal with the realities facing them? What earthly purpose do they serve if they come out of Vanni blaming the Sri Lankan government?

There is a mood of despondency and weariness not only about the whole peace proces that has gone awry but also about the roles played by Solheim and Akashi who had jointly steered this peace process into a miserable dead-end.

Consequently, it is legitimate to ask whether Sri Lanka needs experts like Akashi and Solheim to repeat the Vanni excuses when they can get it less expensively from the local media. Both are in the habit of imitating Pontius Pilate when things go wrong, or when things don't go their way. Both say that they are there only as a go-between and they are not responsible for failures arising out of the intransigence of the LTTE.

But whenever there is a dubious success (notorious example: the failed Ceasefire Agreement) they and the countries they represent crow claiming respectability for their expertise in conflict resolution. Solheim and Akashi came with highly advertised claims of knowing the art and science of negotiating peace. They even go around the world touting for jobs in peace-making. Now Solheim has moved into Nepal. Has he moved into Nepal to play a constructive role in peace-making or to lie back passively, at the foothills of Himalayas, for both parties to get together and talk?

And how many more times will Akashi visit Sri Lanka to pay pooja at the local Yakusuni Shrine in the Vanni?

- Asian Tribune -


Shane Warne, Coralie, Eicholtz Photos..

THE good news, after a long and intensive search to find even some shred, is that Shane Warne's latest sex scandal has disappeared from the front pages of the British tabloids to a nice, cosy home on pages 8-9.

That's about as good as it gets. The bad news is that Warne's escapades now come complete with a photo spread guaranteed to outshine the obligatory text messages. Their grainy nature only adds to the delicious sordidness.
Still, as Warne falls headlong into another sex controversy there comes the time to fight the natural instincts of tabloid journalism for balance and fair play, no matter what you think of Warne and his previous indiscretions.

Warne is guilty of nothing more than stupidity this time around, admittedly something he has shown a dab hand at in the past.

Whereas in previous years Warne has acted terribly and irresponsibly, humiliating those closest to him in his pursuit of carnal pleasures, the boundaries have changed. He no longer has a clean-skin reputation, so he can hardly have sullied that.

He no longer has a wife, so who is there to be left upset?

That Warne's indiscretions no longer demand front page coverage could be less to do with the dog-bites-man newsworthiness of it all than something far more relevant: who, exactly, is he offending?

Naturally, he has broken all the rules of decent behaviour.

This issue has less to do with his three-in-a-bed romp than the goofy photos that have surfaced to support the claims.

There can be no defending images of the world's greatest bowler being whacked by a giant, inflatable appendage, no matter how naked the woman is that is doing the said whacking.

And few people can ever claim to look good standing full-frontal naked with the gut out, the least of them being a man who once took his mother's fluid tablets to bring down the swelling. Yes, there is a punchline there that will remain untouched.

Truth is, Warne was suckered by the women involved, and for a man with his profile and background he should have been smarter.

If they didn't release the photos, who did? Both women, according to reputation, are quick to realise the potential a sexy romp with the likes of Warne would demand.

Yet he walked right into it, even if this incident was a little different.

Whereas in the past Warne's women have been mostly anonymous and have sold their stories for a sizeable sum, the price this time around appears to be no more than the guaranteed publicity two women on the fringe of celebrity could generate by being associated with a guaranteed headline.

Coralie Eichholtz is a model and MTV presenter, a solid C-lister last seen pushing up against Robbie Williams at a London hotel a little more than a week ago, with unconfirmed success.

Her pal Emma Kearney is the host of Nice House, Shame About The Garden. Enough said.

The women reveal that, as usual, Warne's mode of seduction failed to vary from the usual routine - an expensive bottle of champagne following a barrage of text messages.

Yet it had the desired effect all the same. This time, though, the story is no more than salacious gossip, and you have to feel for a bloke who time and again can't seem to help but lead with his chin.

Stupidity is not a hangable offence.


After routing Tigers in Sampur, Trincomalee, Karuna vows to continue attacks until LTTE leaves the east

Colombo, 09 May, ( routing the Tigers from their forward defence camps in Sampur, Trincomalee on Sunday night, Col Karuna presided over a conference of his commanders and decided to continue their attacks until the Vanni Tigers leave the East.

Thooyavan told the Asian Tribune that Senior Commander ‘Sinna’ Jeyam, Special Commander Kuperan alias Pilliyan, Overall military commander Markan and commanders Mangalam Master, Sinnathamby, Riyaseelan and Iniyabarathi participated in the special conference. The Vanni Tigers were caught off guard in the lightning strike on Sunday. Asian Tribune reported exclusively that while they attacked the TVMP camps located in the Kandalkaadu on 30 April, Commanders Sinnathamby and Marckan were deployed on a special mission on 29 midnight. The team led by Commander Marckan passed through Thoniththandavil to reach the Muthur area for this planned attack. The Tigers were focusing on their attacks on TVMP camps. TVMP admitted loses in this attack. But the Tigers were totally unaware that the TVMP forces were on their way to attack them in Sampur.

The blitzkrieg in the Tiger-controlled areas in the Trincomalee districts has left a dozen of Vanni Tigers dead and scores of them injured. The attack was so sudden and swift that it broke down the defence lines of the Vanni Tigers in the Muthur area.

The fighting formations of the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal led by overall Commander Markan attacked the Vanni Tigers’ mini camps at Kaddaiparichchan, and Ralkuli and the forward defence position located at Sampur on Sunday at 11.30 PM. It was, according to Thooyavan, the spokesman for the TVMP, "concentrated attacks, dealing severe blows to the Vanni Tigers."

Thoyavan told Asian Tribune that the attack by Karuna faction was launched using mortars and small arms. Vanni tigers retaliated with heavy firing. The exchange of fire had lasted for nearly an hour in the three different locations.

Thooyavan said according to the headcount by the TVMP cadres, a total of 12 Vanni Tigers were dead and many wounded in the attack launched by the TMVP in the three locations. He said that details of the wounded were not known as they were carried away by fleeing LTTE cadres leaving their weapons behind.

He further added that TMVP collected a big haul of arms and ammunitions in the three camps vacated by the fleeing Vanni cadres.

In the meantime S.Elilan, Trincomalee district political head of the Vanni in an interview with the BBC Tamil service (Tamil Osai,) alleged that paramilitaries had been brought down to Kaddaiparichchan SLA camp to launch an attack on LTTE camps.

Thooyavan refuted the allegations made by Elilan and told the BBC Tamil Osai interviewer that there was no need for them to attack Vanni Tiger camps from any Sri Lanka Army Camps.

In the interview with the BBC Tamil Osai Thooyavan explained that the people of the area have revealed that nearly 12 Vanni cadres were killed.


Jaffna Varsity Vice Chancellor flees Sri Lanka with family

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have through terror tactics caused a prominent Tamil academic and Jaffna University Vice - Chancellor Dr. Ratnajeevan Hoole to flee Sri Lanka with his family members. Dr. Hoole’s decision to seek refuge in a foreign country was due to a consistent campaign of threats and intimidation by agents of the LTTE.

The LTTE began targetting him through front organizations and tiger - controlled student bodies after the academic was appointed as Jaffna University vice chancellor by President Mahinda Rajapakse. The LTTE wanted another person to be nominated as Jaffna V- C and not Dr. Hoole. The “other” person was a weak man who was willing to dance to the tiger tune.

Ratnajeevan though academically brilliant and a dynamic go - getter was not in the LTTE’s good books for two reasons. One was due to his sturdy independence and personal integrity. He was a man who fought injustice and foul play wherever he found them In recent times Dr. Hoole has crossed swords with many prominent personalities in several Lankan universities, University Grants Commission, Professional associations and the protestant church. He was in his own way a cantankerous litigant in pursuance of what he deemed justice and fairplay.This type of honest, uprightness was anathema to the LTTE which wants weak, pliable minions to be at the helm of affairs in the North - East.

The second reason for LTTE resentment was Ratnajeevan’s political beliefs. He stood for a united, undivided Sri Lanka where the Sri Lankan Tamils could live with honour, justice ,peace and equality under a federal system. The LTTE wants a separate state. Also Jeevan’s elder brother Rajan Hoole is a prominent member of the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) a well - respected Human Rights Organization that has been strongly critical of the LTTE. Though Jeevan had nothing to do with the UTHR (J) the LTTE held him guilty by association and regarded him as hostile.

LTTE political commissar Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan condemned Hoole publicly and told the media that they did not want him in Jaffna because he was against “Tamil nationalism”. Student organizations whipped up protests and hung Dr. Hoole’s effigy. They threatened him with assaut if he stepped into Jaffna. Later on various threats including death threats were made against him and family members. Several tiger propagandists also began attacking Hoole. The religious cry was also raised and objections were made that a Christian should not be Jaffna Varsity Vice - Chancellor

Many Tamils felt that Dr. Hoole was the ideal candidate for three reasons. One was his qualifications, Two his visionary plans for developing Jaffna university. Three his dynamic ability to interact with and Confront Colombo if necessary to get the best for Jaffna. Ratnajeevan who had been a Professor At Harvey Mudd College In California for many years returned to Sri Lanka to serve his Country , region and people. He also wanted his children to grow up in a Sri Lankan environment and milieu. The Jaffna VC post was eminently suitable for him to realise his vision and uplift the institution.

But the tigers and their minions would have none of it. Tamil National Alliance MP MK Eelaventhan who like Hoole is an Old Johnian accepted that Ratnajeevan was the best candidate but refused to acknowledge him as Vice - Chancellor. Incidently Hoole is the first Sri Lankan to get a double doctorate in engineering from the London University.

Despite the opposition Hoole remained quiet and tried to convince the LTTE of his bona fides in wanting to improve the Jaffna varsity during his tenure. Several intermediaries tried to influence Kilinochchi but the LTTE was adamany. The level of threats against Hoole and family members also increased. So grave was the situation that the Amnesty International organization issued a statement fearing for his safety.The statement released on April 12th stated as follows.

” A group believed to be a front organisation for the armed opposition group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has threatened to kill an academic who has links to an anti-LTTE group. Amnesty International believes his life is in grave danger.

People claiming to represent a group called the People’s Uprising Force (Makkal Eluchip Padai) telephoned Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole’s home, in the town of Peradeniya, several times on 11 March, warning that if he stepped onto the campus of Jaffna University, where he had just been appointed Vice Chancellor (VC), he would return home “headless in a box”. The following day the leader of the Jaffna University Students’ Union (Yaal Palkalaikalaha Maanavar Ondriyam) has threatened to assault him if he steps onto the campus.

In February a group from the Students’ Union sent a letter to the President of the University Council, which was also published in Tamil newspapers the same day, demanding that “only someone loyal to the Tamil people should be appointed to the post of VC” and that “one against the Tamil race ought not to be appointed”. Soon after Professor Hoole’s appointment posters appeared on the university campus, alleging that he was anti-Hindu (he is a Christian), which would imply that he is also anti-Tamil.

On 12 March a website said to be operated by the LTTE,, posted a photo of Professor Hoole captioned “Who is this fool” together with an article entitled “Army Spy Appointed VC”. The article referred to Professor Hoole’s alleged involvement in the 1990 publication of a book called The Broken Palmyra which was highly critical of the LTTE’s suppression of alternative voices within the Tamil community. The article alleged that a shipment of the book, printed in the USA, had been found to contain weapons intended for a group critical of the LTTE, which the publishers categorically deny.

On 18 March the website published a second article entitled “Who is this fool Part 2″, which among other things accused Professor Hoole of being connected to the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) (UTHR-J), one of few civil society groups documenting abuses by the LTTE. Professor Hoole’s brother, Rajan Hoole, is a leading UTHR-J activist, but the professor himself has never been involved in writing the organisation’s reports.

On 22 March Professor Hoole’s daughter Anbini received an anonymous call with a threat to “kill her younger brother and chop him into pieces” if their father were to take up the Vice Chancellor post at the university. The family received further threatening calls from the People’s Uprising Force.

In a letter dated 21 March 2006 Professor Hoole raised his concerns about threats against him and his family with the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), a body comprising five Nordic countries established to monitor the ceasefire.

Professor Hoole has since received messages through MPs of the LTTE-affiliated Tamil National Alliance, and others claiming to be from the LTTE, that he must resign from the post of Vice Chancellor. ”

Ratnajeevan being a determined character was inclined to stay put without buckling under LTTE pressure. Though he could not go to Jaffna he tried through other university officials to get things going in Thirunelvely. But the University staff though willing to cooperate were terrorised into staying put. Finally Hoole realised that he was never going to be allowed to ddo work in Jaffna. More importantly he and his family members were going to be at perpetual risk from the LTTE. It was this concern for the safety of his wife (herself an academic) and children that made Ratnajeevan to throw in the towel.

He left Sri Lanka quietly on April 20th with his family to an undisclosed destination. The Amnesty International on April 25th issued another statement announcing Dr. Hoole’s departure. It read as follows

” Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole and his family left Sri Lanka on 20 April and are now safe in another country. He thanked Amnesty International members for sending appeals on their behalf. The day after he left Sri Lanka, Professor Hoole received an email entitled “Warning ” from a man called Ratnarajah Thivakaran, whom he does not know, saying “we are making arrangements to kill you, if you interest in your spirit, try to leave the country as early as possible”

The AI has called off the concern for safety campaign for Ratnajeevan Hoole and asked people to stop sending letters to the LTTE urging safety of Hoole and his family.
Thus ended Ratnajeevans valiant attempt to serve his Country, region and people. The tigers have notched up another hollow victory. One more black mark to its long list of dictatorial assaults on democracy and human rights. The LTTE has also demonstrated that its followers could raise the religious cry whenever it suited them.

Ratnajeevan Hoole being forced to flee with his family is no disgrace or loss to him. The loss however is to the Tamil people in particular and Sri Lanka in general. Even more is the loss to the LTTE’s image as the so called saviours of the Tamil people. []


Skype 2.5 (beta)

Congratulations to Skype. Last week it marked quite a milestone: 100,000,000 registered users. That's just the number of downloads, though—there aren't necessarily that many regular users. Still, at any moment, several million people in the world are online using Skype whether for free Skype-to-Skype voice calls, instant messaging chat, video calls, or to take advantage of the premium services that actually earn Skype its money. That's impressive by any measure.

As of today (May 3, 2006), there's a new and modestly improved version of Skype available for download. Skype 2.5 beta is most compelling for new users, and could bring more into the fold. The software installation has been simplified from basically three clicks in version 2.0 to one and filling out a brief form (see our slide show).

The new user interface looks largely the same as the one in version 2.0, and video features haven't changed at all. Security remains the same too, with end-to-end PGP encryption of everything you do. (Skype also has regular 3rd-party security audits.) Basically, those using Skype's premium services including SkypeIn, SkypeOut, and voicemail, and those making lots of international SkypeOut calls stand to benefit most from an upgrade. Other current users may want to wait until it's thoroughly seasoned and out of beta, which with Skype, generally takes no more than a couple of months. The new version simplifies the process of adding credits to your account for premium services and is available for 15 different currencies—Skype-to-Skype calls remain as free as ever. When you place foreign calls, the service can also tell where you are calling from, and you no longer need to input access codes manually when making SkypeOut calls to other countries; there's a drop-down menu.

The new release also lets you get to your Outlook contacts so you don't have to look them up and then enter numbers manually for SkypeOut calls. Your contact info isn't uploaded to Skype or even copied from Outlook, you can just see the data from within the client if you've set up SkypeOut. This version also makes sharing contacts easier, which might make you more successful at getting family members hooked. If mom and dad have a tough time searching for and adding other family members and friends, you can easily set up a family contact group and then share it with them.

Skype also now has a call-quality indicator that gives suggestions for improving your connection, but the most common one seems to be to end your call, close Skype, open it, and try again. Still, when your call quality could be better, at least you get a visual indicator—a yellow shaded box—which is more than you previously got. Of course, the old system—feedback from the person on the other end—is still the most accurate.

Skype 2.5 lets you send one-way SMS messages to cell phones anywhere in the world , a feature I suspect will be more popular in foreign markets. Costs can range from 2 cents to roughly 25 cents per message depending on the location of both the sender and person receiving the message.

The people at Skype are excited about a new capability they call Skypecasting, which you can think of as a moderated, multi-person voice conversation that you access in real time via the Web, using Skype. Suppose you're interested in the next Mars rover landing. You could create and host a Skypecast from the Share menu on the service's home page. You can also search for casts that interest you. You'll find Skypecasts that are available immediately or in the future. As a moderator and host, you see a window similar to your address book that shows who is part of the cast and who is talking. You can click on names to decide who gets to talk and to shut people down. This feature is the result of a collaboration with blogging pioneer Six Apart. Keep in mind that this service is in a very preliminary pilot stage.

There are also several new Skype-certified devices available, including a Creative Voice Webcam ($99.99 list, with built-in microphone, noise cancellation, and wide-angle lens), a cordless dual phone from Philips (VOIP321, $100 list, for use on both Skype and regular landline calls), and the Polycom Communicator ($129 list, a USB speaker phone). This brings the total number of available Skype-certified products up to 200.

For my normal day-to-day Skype-to-Skype calling, the new Skype works just as well as version 2.0, but I rarely take advantage of the premium services, so I doubt I'll rush to upgrade to the beta. Those who do regularly use Skype premium services will find the minimal effort required well worthwhile.


Sri Lanka Governmment officially protests regarding SLMM statement

The Government officially announced yesterday that it denounces the statement made by SLMM regarding the strikes against tiger camps at Sampur.

This was stated at a discussion held between Head of the Peace Secretariat Mr. Palithe Kohona and SLMM chief Ulf Henriksson. Mr. Kohona explained the correct situation to the Head of SLMM and protested against the contradictory statements made by SLMM at different times.

SLMM chief had promised to correct the statement and re-issue it. According to government sources this was the first time that Norwegian facilitator’s action was questioned officially by the government and demanded that the issued statement should be corrected.

A government spokesman speaking to ‘Lankatruth’ said the government stand is that SLMM should make their statements based on correct information.