The California State Assembly has passed a resolution declaring August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. The resolution — officially called HR 59 — marks the first time any state has set aside a month in recognition of the Islamic faith.
Sri Lankan ambassador to Ankara: There is no good terrorism
In an interview with Daily Sabah, the Sri Lankan ambassador to Ankara, Pakeer Mohideen Amzarecalled his country's struggle against terrorism and drew attention to the terrible side of it, adding that ‘Turkey will soon defeat terrorism'
At his maiden press conference, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy explained away his connection with Raj Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison term in federal prison after being convicted in the biggest insider trading scandal, saying he only produced macro economic research papers and that he stopped working for the hedge fund tycoon nearly an year before he was charged. How credible is the explanation of new governor who has made “upholding credibility the primary responsibility” of his position?
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal will travel to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka this week. Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia Manpreet Singh Anand will accompany her.
In Colombo she will meet with senior government officials, political leaders, and civil society epresentatives to discuss bilateral economic cooperation as well as democratic governance and reconciliation. (Source: US State Dept.)
Regime change in Sri Lanka is not serving US interests says Gota
Former defense secretary at meeting with expats in Los Angeles
Developments in Sri Lanka after the "regime change" and their impact on US interests in the Indian Ocean were the topics of discussion when former Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa met with a group of Sri Lankan Americans in the Los Angeles area, June 23.
“The US supported the change of government purely because they thought Sri Lanka was moving too close to China. They failed to analyze the situation properly. They were worried that we were supporting China. But now look at who is supporting China and even more than we did,” he said.
He said US lawmakers should be made aware of how things have been developing in the past year and that a divided Sri Lanka would be detrimental to US interests.
On the subject of reconciiation, the former defense secretary had this to say: “What they’re doing is not reconciliation. You cannot have reconciliation by alienating the majority community.”
New York City Buddhist leaders are sounding the alarm to tourists to beware of the growing number of 'fake monks' aggressively panhandling on the city's streets.
Men in orange robes claiming to be Buddhist monks are approaching visitors to some of the city's most popular attractions, handing them shiny medallions and offering greetings of peace.
They then hit them up for donations to help them build a temple in Thailand, and are persistent if their demands are refused.
Reports of the fake monks spiked two years ago, then waned. But now they are back in force and not just in o New York City. Reports of the men have surfaced in San Francisco, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India and Nepal, officials said.
US Ambassador hosts Iftar in Colombo
U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap hosted leaders from the Sri Lankan Muslim community, government officials, civil society activists, and media representatives for an Iftar in Colombo, June 29.
This is one of three U.S. Embassy-hosted Iftars in Sri Lanka during the month of Ramadan this year, including one in Jaffna and another for girls at the Fathima Welfare Center in Colombo.
“As we reflect on these core values of Ramadan, we also look to the future of the country – and the dedication Sri Lankans have shown in seeking to transform their country into a united, reconciled, peaceful, prosperous nation with equal opportunity for all,” said Ambassador Keshap. (Source: US Embassy)
Ambassador Keshap with Muslim guests at the Ifthar.
\ Source: US Embassy
Rajiv Fernando sent Hillary flowers, promised to make her "look good"
Rajiv Fernando sent flowers to Hillary Clinton and promised to make the then Secretary of State “look good” if appointed to the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), newly released Clinton emails reveal.
Fernando who is of Sri Lankan descent contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and once traveled with former President Bill Clinton to Africa.
“If there is any way I can be a part of the list of the final 25 I would be grateful. Please let me know if there is anything you need me to do,” he told Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin in one of the 2009 emails.
Asian Groups vow to Continue Immigration Fight after SCOTUS Blow
Asian-American advocacy groups and elected officials voiced disappointment with a 4-4 Supreme Court split Thursday that will prevent President Barack Obama from carrying out an executive action on immigration but vowed to continue the campaign for change.
The U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked on the question of whether President Barack Obama’s use of executive action to suspend deportations and grant work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants was constitutional. The deadlock lets stand an order by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the actions, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), from taking effect.
Indiana Buddhist Temple: Spreading the Compassion across America’s Heartland
Located near the city of Fort Wayne in the northeast part of the state, Indiana Buddhist Temple was founded on 28 June 2003 by Bhante Devananda, who was in Los Angeles when he received an invitation from the Sri Lankan community around Fort Wayne to share the Dhamma. The temple’s stated purpose is “. . . to teach meditation for the local people and through meditation spread loving kindness throughout society.” (Indiana Buddhist Temple) Since that time, the temple has not only grown but thrived, and now has over one thousand members.
During a visit to Sri Lanka earlier this year, Staten Island resident Hilton Joseph Dias was stabbed to death when he confronted a group of people who were trespassing on his property. Now his family is facing hard times and could lose their home. While several Sri Lankans have contributed online more is needed to help the Dias family stay in the house. A Staten Island news website has highlighted the family’s struggle.
Hillary’s latest corruption scandal involves American of Sri Lankan descent
An American of Sri Lankan descent is at the center of a growing corruption scandal that accuses Hillary Clinton of appointing a totally unqualified person to a sensitive State Department security intelligence board only because he was a major donor to the Democratic Party and gave as much as $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The scandal first publicized by ABC News is once again in the spotlight with details that have emerged from the latest set of Clinton emails released to the public.
Muslim liaison appointed by White House says he will represent Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs
Zaki Barzinji promises to reach out to all communities
The White House has appointed Zaki Barzinji (27) to the recently-created position of American Muslim Community Liaison. Barzinji the former Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said that in addition to Musims, he will reach out to the Sikhs, Buddhists, and Hindus to ensure that the communities are represented at a federal level.
Nirmana - An evening of nostalgic Sinhala music in the Southland
Sri Lankan artistes in Southern California presented an evening of nostalgia as they launched into a series of popular Sinhala music spanning several decades. “Nirmana” held June 4 in Buena Park also attracted a sprinkling of younger Sri Lankans who seemed to enjoy the music of their parents’ generation. The lineup included enduring songs made popular by the big names of yesteryear such as Sunil Shantha, Latha Walpola, and C.T. Fernando. Photo above shows "Nirmana" artistes in performance.
Muhammed Ali: A superstar is gone but the light shines on
He was one of the heroes of my youth, not just because he was a great boxer but also because of his "big mouth" as we said. He was Muhammad Ali who in the exuberance of his own youth, boasted he was "the Greatest", a claim that we thought, at the time, was nothing but an exaggeration, born of arrogant brashness, the very qualities for which we loved the "Louisville Lip."
Animal rights activists plan a Memorial Day vigil for the gorilla killedat the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy slipped into an exhibit and a special zoo response team concluded his life was in danger.
500,000 women and girls are at risk of undergoing, or have already been subjected to, female genital mutilation in the US. The FBI has dedicated a new unit to stop the practice which has been illegal since 1996.
A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge after authorities say he grabbed a Muslim woman’s hijab on a Southwest Airlines flight in December and pulled it off.
Japanese Buddhists join Memorial Day Service
Salt Lake Buddhist Temple's Reverend Masami Hayashi, a veteran with MIS, reads the "Sen No Kaze" (A Thousand Winds) poem during the memorial service Sunday, May 29, 2016, honoring the achievements and sacrifices of Japanese American men killed in action fighting for the United States in World War II and other Japanese American veterans who have passed on. Read full story in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sri Lanka has a new honorary consul in Chicago and his name is Ronald James Sorini.
If the headline sounds familiar, this is Mr. Sorini’s second time being appointed to the same position. His first stint was in 2004 when, again, the United National Party led by Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe was in power.
Vesak celebrations continue in Southern California
The Sri Ratana International Buddhist Center in Anaheim, California held its Vesak celebrations May 28 with a lineup of traditional religious and cultural activities.
Sri Ratana serves the growing Sri Lankan Buddhist community in Orange County and has a large number of devotees participating in its regular religious programs. The temple's daham pasala (Sunday School) offers Sinhala language classes in addition to Buddhist studies.
Vesak activities in progress at Sri Ratana, May 28.
"Los Angeles Remembers" - Anniversary of the end of the LTTE War Commemorated
Sri Lankans in Los Angeles gathered May 19 at the Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara for a ceremony commemorating the defeat of the LTTE who waged a brutal 30-year war for a separate state.
The traditional Bodhi Puja led by Ven. Pandith Ambalantota Kolitha Thero was followed by Anusasana delivered by Ven. Walpola Piyananda Mahathero. Ven. Dr. Medagoda Abayathissa, a senior lecturer at Sri Jayawardanapura University who is currently following a course of study in the US delivered a special sermon reflecting on post-war Sri Lanka.
Expat children showcase Sri Lankan culture at Asian Pacific Heritage Celebrations, George Mason University
Sri Lankan children thrilled the audience with traditional dances such as Ukusa Vannama and Wadiga Patuna at the Asian-Pacific Heritage celebrations held at George Mason University Center for Arts , May 5.
The opening address for the evening was given by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Prasad Kariyawasam who referred to the rich culture and traditions the Sri Lankan immigrants and their children bring to the mix from the small island of 20 million people.
Australian Diaspora Groups call for Restoration of Mahinda Rajapaksa's Security
Several Sri Lankan diaspora groups in Australia are appealing for the restoration of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s military security which was removed effective May 2 and replaced by police security.
In a letter to the Sri Lankan government, the groups said they were “extremely perturbed” by the decision to replace the elite Army Commando Unit with a police unit and called on the authorities to provide fitting security arrangements for the former president.
Disgraced Billionaire Raj Rajaratnam in Latest Trove of Panama Papers
Billionaire Raj Rajaratnam who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in the US for insider trading is among the names found in the massive Panama Papers database released May 9. The Sri Lankan-born founder of hedge fund Galleon Group who is known to have provided support to the Tamil Tigers was sentenced in 2011 to an 1l-year sentence on nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy.
First SL Theravada Temple in USA Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser attending the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Washington Buddhist Vihara on May 1, 2016 declared the day as “the Washington Buddhist Vihara Day”, recognizing in the Declaration that the District of Columbia is the home to the first Theravada Buddhist Temple in America and that the Vihara has been dedicated to presentation of Buddhism and extending welcome to all. Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam joined Mayor Muriel Bowser on this occasion.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser with Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayake Thero and Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam
Mothers Day May 8, 2016
Mothers by the Numbers in the USA
"Dheepan" Action Thriller about LTTE Refugee Showing in US Theaters
“Dheepan” the Jacques Audiard crime action thriller about an LTTE militant who gets asylum in France opened in theaters in the US May 6. The highly-acclaimed movie which received the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year focuses on three Sri Lankan refugees (Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby) who pretend to be a family as they try to make better lives for themselves in a Parisian housing project.
Number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 who have children. These mothers gave birth to 95.8 million children.
Number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 who gave birth in the past 12 months.
Vatican calls on Buddhists to Join Christians to Save the Environment
In a Vesak Day message, the Vatican has called on Buddhists worldwide to join hands with Christians to work for the environment.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a message to the Buddhists of the world to mark the “Feast of Vesakh, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha,” Vatican Radio reported.
Number of stay-at-home moms in married couple family groups in 2015
It’s been a long time coming but the Oregon Buddhist Vihara ‘s is finally primed to expand.
The Theravada temple in Hillsboro, about 20 miles west of Portland, has just been greenlighted by the city for a 3,172 square foot, two-story building, its first expansion since opening in 2004 in a one-bedroom house.
“We are more like the US now” – Ambassador Independence Event
Career diplomat Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, no stranger to many who had known him during his tenure in Washington (1995-1998) received an enthusiastic welcome at an Independence Day event at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles last weekend. But he also had his work cut out trying to convince his compatriots that things are moving in the right direction in Sri Lankan-US relations. After all, many here suspect the US had a hand in the “regime change” that ousted President Rajapaksa last year. Read Full Story
FM Samaraweera in DC for US-SL Annual Partnership Dialogue
Washington, DC - Secretary Kerry welcomed Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to the State Department in Washington, D.C., on February 25 for the inaugural U.S.-Sri Lanka Annual Partnership Dialogue, which the two had announced during Secretary Kerry’s visit to the country in May 2015.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon led the U.S. delegation for discussions on democratic governance, development cooperation, people-to-people ties, economic cooperation, security cooperation, international and regional affairs, and other issues of mutual interest. Read Full Story
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera pose for a photo before their bilateral meeting at the U.S. Department of State [State Department photo]
Bandula Gunawardane Slams US Double Standards
Opposition parliamentarian Mr. Bandula Gunawardane speaking to expatriates in Los Angeles accused the US government of double standards saying that despite egregious violations of democratic and human rights the US has nothing but praise for the current Sri Lankan regime. Read Full Story
US 7th Fleet Flagship in Colombo
The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Colombo for a port call March 26, the first visit by a U.S. Navy ship since October 2011. The USS Blue Ridge team consists of more than 900 sailors, who will interact with their Sri Lanka Navy counterparts... Read Full Story