Sri Lanka Express

U.S. taxpayers' $585m splurged "promoting democracy," some of it to topple Rajapaksa

Washington spent $585 million of taxpayer funds promoting democracy and good governance across the globe in the past year, some of it in Sri Lanka, the US Department of State’s financial report for fiscal year 2016 revealed.  The State Department said the report provides an overview of the Department’s financial and performance data to help Congress, the President, and the public “assess our stewardship over the resources entrusted to us.”

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Sec of State John Kerry

Trump's victory a defeat for powerful pro-Eelam triumvirate

Soros, Clinton, Podesta:
The powerful triumvirate that would have supported Eelamists if Clinton had won

Donald Trump

Commentary/Analysis - Impact of US Elections on Eelam factor

Also ...

Channel frustrations into positive energy -Buddhist leader tells post-election protesters in U.S.

Anti-Trump protests are raging in cities across the nation for the second week in succession.  Ven. Walpola Piyananda Thera is calling for calm.  Full message
Bhante Walpola Piyananda

L.A. pays tribute to Pandith Amaradeva

Sri Lankans in Los Angeles participated in a pansakula pinkama at the Sarathchandra Buddhist Meditation Center, North Hollywood, November 5, in memory of the late Dr. Pandith W.D. Amaradeva, followed by tributes to the legendary musician and sharing of personal anecdotes.

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Wikileaks - Zuberi who took GOSL for $6.5m ride a close Clinton ally

Despite FARA violations and  warnings of a Department of Justice probe hanging over him, Imaad Zuberi the American lobbyist who took GOSL for a $6.5 million ride has done well for himself.  Hacked Wikileaks emails show the Pakistani-American venture capitalist as a close associate of the Hillary Clinton campaign.  Will the funds he bundled and contributions to the Clinton Foundation buy him an ambassodorship?



Commentary

Soccer superstar kicks up a storm over photo disrespecting the Buddha


Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has posted a photo of himself on Instagram posing with his right leg on the base of the Buddha statue, universally considered a sign of disrespect.

The post under the title “Bom Dia” (Good Morning), has unleashed an avalanche of angry comments from fans worldwide calling on Ronaldo, who captains the Real Madrid team, ten-time champions of Europe, to remove the post and apologize to Buddhists.


Read more about the Ronaldo controversy & the related "Hollywood Buddha" story from the SLE archives.

US Postal Service issues Diwali stamp

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service commemorate the Hindu festival of Diwali with a Forever stamp. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took  place October 5 at the Consulate General of India, New York.

The stamp design is a photograph featuring a traditional diya oil lamp beautifully lit, sitting on a sparkling gold background. Diya lamps are usually made from clay with cotton wicks dipped in a clarified butter known as “ghee” or in vegetable oils. 


Mangala in Los Angeles: Says no separation but leaves door open for federalism

Foreign Minister Samaraweera was in Los Angeles to announce plans for Sri Lanka's 70th Independence Day in 2018 - "Year of the Overseas Sri Lankan."

About 200 residents from Southern California were present at the September 25 event which was the first featuring a visiting government dignitary organized by Mrs. Gunaratne who took office earlier this year.

 Notably absent were Buddhist monks from the local Sri Lankan temples.

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Sri Lanka Navy Assists USS Hopper with Emergency Medical Evacuation

Guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) was assisted by the Sri Lanka navy in an emergency medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) Sept. 30 to help a Sailor in need of medical attention.

At approximately 9 p.m., Sept. 29, Hopper notified Commander, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 15 that a Sailor aboard required MEDEVAC. Hopper, over 165 miles from shore, didn't have an embarked helicopter aboard nor were they in close range to available U.S. air assets.  Officials then called the Sri Lankan Navy to assist.

Within hours of the initial report, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Engineer Karunasena Hettiarachchi approved Hopper to enter Sri Lankan territorial waters to conduct the medical evacuation via small boat. The
medical team provided continuous care for the patient while Hopper made best speed to get closer to Sri Lanka.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., two Sri Lanka navy dvoras, fast patrol boats, met Hopper three miles off the Sri Lankan coast to receive the patient in need of assistance. The Sailor was transferred to the dvoras
and taken to the mainland, where the patient is currently being treated by medical personnel at Asiri Central Hospital in Colombo.


"A heroic effort occurred across many commands and governments, and it happened within 10 hours to save a Sailor's life," said Cmdr. J.D. Gainey, commanding officer of Hopper. "This controlled urgency with
precise execution was possible based on trust and interoperability, which has been established through previous exercises and exchanges with our partner. My thoughts and prayers are with our Sailor, and I want to
extend a sincere 'thank you' to the Sri Lankans for the quick and professional response to aide a fellow mariner upon the seas." 


Hopper is a multi-mission ship with anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants capabilities; designed to operate independently or with a surface action group or
strike group. Homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hopper is currently underway in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a independent deployment, headed toward the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). (Source: Commander, US 7th Fleet)


USS Hopper

Death of Sri Lanka's First
Honorary Consul in LA

Dr. Tony Don Michael
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Watchdog group suing to get Rajiv Fernando’s records from State Dept

What was the “issue” that prevented the Clinton donor from getting the top level secret clearance?
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New book on Rajiv's assassination reveals dirty secrets of RAW

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August is "Muslim Awareness Month" in California

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.

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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'
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Gov. Christie's slammed Hillary at RNC over Boko Haram, but  her Tamil Tiger connections need even closer scrutiny

Orlando, San Bernardino Massacres would be OK with Hillary if the Tigers had carried them out?
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Has CB Governor been truthful about Rajaratnam connection?


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? 
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Asst. Sec. Nisha Biswal heading to Sri Lanka
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.”   
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"Fake monks" aggressively panhandling in NYC, SF

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.


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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.

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   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.
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Plight of family of murdered Lankan highlighted

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.
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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.

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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.


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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."


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SL Embassy Announces Appointment of New Honorary Consul in Chicago



Vigil planned at Cincinnati Zoo in tribute to slain gorilla

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.


FBI reaching out to stop female genital mutilation

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.



Man pleads guilty to pulling off Muslim woman's hijab

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.   
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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.  

 

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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. 
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Is our gratitude in deep slumber?

Hassina Leelarathna on
"Los Angeles Remembers"

Ven. Medagoda Abayathissa
Consul Gen. Ms. Swarna Gunaratne
Ven. Medagoda Abhayatissa's speech (video)
Flowers in remembrance of Sri Lankan troops

Floods: International Relief Pouring in, USA Chips in $50k, China zilch

America gives Sri Lanka $50,000 for flood relief, Nepal $100,000. 

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Vesak 2016 - Messages from President Obama & Governor Brown ( Click here)
Children singing Vesak Bakthi Gee at Sarathchandra Buddhist Vihara, May 21
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US Probes Corruption in David Miliband’s Refugee Aid Group
International Rescue Committee, headed by the former British Foreign Secretary, sees funding suspended amid allegations of systemic corruption in Syrian refugee projects.
 Miliband is  best remembered  in Sri Lanka for his failed attempts to save the Tamil Tigers from defeat in the last stages of the war in 2009.
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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.
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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.


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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.
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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. 
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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.
43.5 m
Number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 who have children. These mothers gave birth to 95.8 million children.
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3.9 m
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.
5.2 m
Number of stay-at-home moms in married couple family groups in 2015
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Source: US Census Bureau
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

Oregon Buddhist Vihara greenlighted for expansion

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. 
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Secretary of State John Kerry's New Year Greetings
On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I join you in celebrating the Sri Lankan New Year.

The past year's accomplishments have been historic, demonstrating the deep commitment of the Sri Lankan people for reconciliation, tolerance and peace.

I offer my best wishes for a happy New Year and continued success as you move ahead with the new constitution and further efforts to strengthen Sri Lanka's democracy and prosperity.
PANAMA PAPERS BOMBSHELL!

Sri Lankan Airlines - Who is the real Phoenix Duty- Free Contractor ?

Mangala Wants SL to Join TPP

It hasn't even been ratified yet!
Sri Lanka Express Archives Gallery

Take a walk down memory lane
Open Gallery
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More on Panama Papers: Clinton's campaign manager & Tamils' lobbyist Podesta involved Read full story

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US Elections

Most Asians favor Bernie
"We came, we saw, he died"

Hillary Clinton's emails & new scrutiny of her role in Libya
Selections from the world of the arts & entertainment
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“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