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Parliament crisis: Ranil proposes way out



By Saman Indrajith

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday (7) thanked UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for proposing a solution to the crisis prevailing in the House following alleged assault on Galle District SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara by government MPs.

UNP Leader Wickremesinghe proposed that the Speaker should immediately name the MPs from the government and the Opposition ranks for the committee to investigate the alleged incidents in Parliament last Friday and Saturday. “They could sit together and decide a way out. That is the best option before you with regard to this matter.”

Chief Government Whip: We are thankful to the UNP leader for proposing a solution to the crisis and attending Parliament today soon after your return to the country. I was contacted by an SJB MP, who said Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa was disturbed by your presence in the House today. Your attendance of Parliament compensates for the absence of the entire SJB group. So, they may return to the House earlier than expected before it becomes known that they are redundant.”

The Chief Whip brought to the notice of the Chair that TNA MP Charles Nirmalanathan who is in the opposition ranks has complained that he was continuously overlooked when time was allocated for the Opposition MPs to speak. “So much for the internal democracy of the Opposition. Today, the JVP with only three members has got time for two of them and this is not fair.

Leader of the House, Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that UNP leader and former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was the best person to guide the SJB and Opposition. “Now, there are only a few opposition parties while the SJB is absent. You are the acting Opposition Leader in this House with your calibre and experience. You can use that to instruct the Opposition MPs protesting out there to return to the chamber and take part in the debate. You have all the qualifications to advise the entire Opposition.”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena called on MPs to attend Parliament sessions and undertook to appoint a committee to look into the recent incidents and submit a report. The committee would consist of senior members of both sides. “We could not yet contact some members who have been nominated to know whether they would accept the responsibility. I hope to contact and speak to them and most probably we could announce the names for the committee on Wednesday.”

The UNP, the TNA, the JVP, the SLMC, Ven. Aturaliye Ratana Thera and SJB MPs who had voted with the government in recent votes in Parliament including Diana Gamage were present in the House.

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Earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027 – Dr Bandula Gunawardena




Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena at a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Center today (30) said that the earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027, at which time it is envisaged that the countries foreign reserves which stand at USD 3.5 billion at present would increase to USD 14 billion..


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Pope Francis to evict Cardinal Raymond Burke from Vatican




US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

Michael Matt, a columnist for the right-wing Catholic newspaper The Remnant, wrote that the most recent action taken against Cardinal Burke showed that Pope Francis was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”. He accused the Pope of putting critics into “forced isolation”.


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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


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