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Miss World crowned amid calls for peace in Ukraine

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Poland’s Karolina Bielawska was crowned the 70th Miss World on Wednesday, with contestants and organizers expressing solidarity with Ukrainians during an on-stage candle tribute at the televised finale.

Bielawska, who works as a model and is studying for a master’s degree, claimed the title in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, three months after the contest was delayed due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Miss USA, Shree Saini, was named first runner-up, while Ivory Coast’s Olivia Yacé took the second runner-up spot.

As well as the usual performances and live judging, the glitzy ceremony featured messages of support for Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the country, which shares a border with Poland. In one segment, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh, who won Miss World in 2019, sung a rendition of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” as those on stage and in the audience held candles aloft.

The words “a prayer for peace” appeared on a screen behind the finalists. The official Miss World Twitter account tweeted that the performance was part of the pageant’s efforts to “stand with Ukraine.” Organizers also said that more than 7,000 candles had been prepared for the show, which was broadcast in over 100 countries.

In a statement published prior to the pageant, CEO of Miss World Ltd., Julia Morley, said: “We must do something, even if it may seem never enough to light one candle, if we all light a candle together we can change the world,” while inviting people around the world to “shine their light for Ukraine” and post images to social media.

Earlier this week, Miss World organizers published a video message from 2016’s Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Kucherenko. Against a virtual backdrop of footage from the conflict, she appealed to countries around the world “to support us, to close the sky above Ukraine and to save the world (from a) nuclear catastrophe,” adding: “Our peace is your peace.”

The current Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Yaremchuk, who did not qualify for the final event, is currently in Kyiv, the organization said.

Initially scheduled for December, the Miss World pageant was postponed after multiple people linked to the event — including 23 of the 97 contestants — tested positive for Covid-19 with just days to go.

Only the 40 semi-finalists were invited back for Wednesday’s rearranged event, which was hosted by the English singer and TV personality Peter Andre and the Mexican singer and actor Fernando Allende.

Preliminary competitions had already taken place by that time, with Yacé named winner of the pageant’s Top Model portion, Mongolian representative Burte-Ujin Anu winning the Miss World Talent content and Mexico’s Karolina Vidales named Miss World Sports. – CNN



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Speaker proposes how to steer SL out of crisis

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has handed over a set of proposals to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, spelling out how to resolve country’s economic crisis.The proposals made by the Speaker pertain to a number of important sectors and highlight the importance of providing relief to low income groups.

The Speaker has said Sri Lankans working or doing business overseas or foreign investors depositing USD 100,000 with the Central Bank for a period of two years should be paid a 10% interest per annum in Sri Lankan rupees and allowed to credit the interest to any account preferred by the depositor. He also proposes that the government issue a vehicle import licence worth USD 25,000, six months after an individual makes a fixed deposit while also allowing him to pay a standard tax of USD 10,000 to the government for that vehicle.Speaker Abeywardena has proposed how to reduce energy costs, release adequate stocks of LP gas to the market, boost domestic production food production, stabilise the banking system.

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MR had not decided to resign on 09 May, says Weerasekra

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera says Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had not decided to resign on 09 May 09 although the SLPP MPs had been asked to bring supporters to Temple Trees for a meeting.Weerasekera said so when The Island asked him why he had skipped the Temple Trees meeting.One-time Public Security Minister said that the then PM Rajapaksa had, during a conversation with him on 08 May had denied reports that the latter was planning to resign the following day. MP Namal Rajapaksa, however, had asked a group of MPs and others to bring supporters to express support for the PM, MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera said he had been among those contacted by MP Namal Rajapaksa.The former Navy Chief of Staff said that the failure on the part of law enforcement authorities and the military to respond swiftly and decisively to a threat of breach of law and order had led to a disaster at time global attention was on Sri Lanka due to the deteriorating financial situation.MP Weerasekera questioned why police had refrained from firing at least once into the air when mobs arrived at some MPs’ houses, which were destroyed. For over 48 hours mobs had ruled the country, the MP alleged, demanding an explanation why shoot-on-sight orders had not been issued as soon as mobs started to attack MPs’ houses.MP Weerasekera said that serious accusations made by SLPP members, particularly Wimal Weerawansa, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Mahindananda Aluthgamage couldn’t be ignored. They accused some sections of the SLPP of conspiring to unleash violence and the police and the armed forces turning a blind eye to countrywide retaliatory attacks.

Newly-appointed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said that he would order a thorough probe into the May 09 incidents. Minister Alles said so when The Island asked him what he would do against the backdrop of allegations of the police facilitating attacks on protesting public in the Kollupitiya and Fort police areas.MPs, Weerawansa and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana alleged in Parliament that Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and C. D. Wickremaratne, Inspector General of Police prevented Deshabandu Tennakoon, Senior DIG, Colombo from mob attacks on the protesting public.

Former Minister Weerasekera said that the government, the SLPP and the police should come clean on this matter. MP Weerasekera said that the government mishandled the challenge posed by those who cleverly exploited the economic crisis. “Perhaps one of the major blunders was allowing the public to block roads. Now, it has become a style. Interested parties also exploit the media and social media. The government seems clueless,” MP Weerasekera said, urging the government to review the developments.MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, too, told The Island, the top SLPP leadership ignored repeated warnings. The former Agriculture Minister questioned whether those who had advised the Cabinet of Ministers chaired by the President deliberately deceived them.

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Lankan-born Cassandra elected to Australian Parliament

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She beat another candidate of Sri Lankan origin, Ranj Perera

Cassandra Fernando of Sri Lankan descent has been elected to the Australian Parliament.Cassandra, an advocate for essential workers and the Federal Labor Candidate for Holt.She migrated to Australia with her family when she was 11.She began working at Woolies Dandenong Plaza as a teenager. She now represents workers in the retail and fast food industries, fighting to improve their pay and conditions. She has also volunteered to tutor migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds so they can make the best of every opportunity.

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