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Dr. Vajira Chitrasena conferred with ‘Padma Shri’ award

The Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka handed over the Padma Shri Award given by the Indian President to Dr. Vajira Chitrasena on Wednesday (17) in the presence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

She was recognized for her valuable contributions in the field of art further strengthening India-Sri Lanka cultural ties.

Three eminent personalities from Sri Lanka have so far been conferred with one of the highest civilian honours in India.

Earlier this month, the President of India conferred #PadmaShri upon Late Prof Indra Dassnayake posthumously for her contributions to Hindi & Indian culture.

Vatshala Dassanayake Ishtaweera received the Award on behalf of her late mother at a grand ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

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IMF team now in Colombo continues consultations on technical assistance  

Sri Lanka has dropped plans for a fresh bailout facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but discussions are underway with the donor agency on technical assistance on public financial management, tax policy and administration.

"The Sri Lankan government has decided not to pursue a new or ongoing  IMF programme, but to continue maintaining the close relationship with the Fund under standard consultation processes similar to many other member countries," Central Bank Governor Professor W. D. Lakshman said.

Addressing a media conference convened to brief journalists on the third monetary policy review of the year, he noted that a team of two IMF economists currently in Colombo are conducting annual Article 1V consultations with Sri Lankan authorities.

They will be assessing economic and financial developments and discuss the country's economic and financial policies with government and central bank officials.

The team reports its findings to IMF management and then presents them for discussion to the Executive Board, which represents all of the IMF's member countries.

A summary of the IMF Board’s views is subsequently transmitted to the country's government thereafter informed sources said.

However, according to State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Sri Lanka is eligible to receive up to USD 800 million to boost foreign reserves from the IMF as a part of a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirms it has received a request for emergency financial assistance from the Sri Lankan authorities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was stated by the Director of the Communications Department of the International Monetary Fund, Gerry Rice responding to questions during a press briefing recently.

We did receive a request from the Sri Lankan authorities for emergency financial support to help fight the COVID pandemic,” the IMF spokesman said.

He stated that the assessment of that support has taken longer than for other countries due to “Sri Lanka's daunting economic challenges and high public debt.”

Rice said they have sought, but not reached understanding, on how to fulfil the key requirements for what could be a rapid financing instrument which would include policies to continue ensuring debt sustainability to address the balance of payment challenges including from the COVID‑19 impact on tourism and to preserve international reserves.

“The USD 1.5 billion EFF arrangement approved in 2016 expired on June 2, 2020. Given that the final review under the arrangement was not completed, Sri Lanka could not avail of the last disbursement under the EFF, amounting to SDR 118.550 million which is equivalent to around USD 200 million. Disbursements under any Fund arrangement can only be made during the period between the date of its approval by the IMF Board and its expiration date," IMF mission chief Masahiro Nozaki said.   Therefore at this point, for Sri Lanka to access any additional Fund resources, the IMF Board approval of a new arrangement would be needed, he disclosed.

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Yohani to perform in Dubai on UAE National Day

Young Sri Lankan singer Yohani de Silva is set to perform in Dubai’s World Trade Centre on the National Day of the United Arab Emirates on 02 December.

Yohani will also be headlining a show at the Sri Lanka pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai in the first week of March next year.

“Yes, I have been to Dubai once (in 2019). And yes, I am coming to Dubai soon to perform,” Yohani has told City Times, without confirming any dates.

The concert is expected to be a musical showcase of Sri Lankan talent directed towards south Asian audiences.

Yohani’s set list is expected to feature a mix of Indian and Sri Lankan songs.

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Hollywood actor arrested over $690 million scam scheme

An aspiring Hollywood actor has been accused of scamming millions from film investors by tricking them with fake Netflix deals to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Zachary Horwitz, 34, was arrested on Tuesday by FBI agents on suspicion of running a $690m (£502m) Ponzi scheme.

Mr Horwitz, whose stage name is Zach Avery, allegedly raised funds from investors for film licensing deals with Netflix and HBO that did not exist.

He was charged with wire fraud.

If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 20 years.

The criminal complaint was filed by prosecutors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday.

It accuses Mr Horwitz of using investor funds for "lavish personal spending", including extravagant trips to Las Vegas, flights on chartered jets, payments for high-end cars and the purchase of a $5.7m mansion in Los Angeles.

"We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents," Michele Wein Layne, a senior SEC official, said in a statement on Tuesday.

As an actor, Mr Horwitz has not had the most illustrious career in Hollywood. Other than an uncredited part in Fury - a 2014 American war film starring Brad Pitt - Mr Horwitz has mostly appeared in low-budget films with mediocre ratings.

A lawyer for Mr Horwitz, Anthony Pacheco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the BBC.


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Veteran singer Lakshman Wijesekara passes away

Veteran singer and musician Lakshman Wijesekera, who made a significant contribution to the field of art for several decades, passed away a short while ago.

Sources say the 73-year-old had been ill for some time and was receiving treatment at hospital at the time of his death.

He became popular as an actor from the teledramas 'Ira Paya' and 'Ganga and Nissanka.'

The remains of the late musician will be kept his residence in Mount Lavinia tomorrow (13) and the final rites will be performed at the Mount Lavinia Public Cemetery on Sunday (14).

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Sri Lankan actors to play leading roles in Tamil film

The Tamil remake of the 2019 Malayalam blockbuster movie 'Android Kunjappan', renamed as 'Google Kuttappan', will feature two actors from Sri Lanka.

Tharshan Thiyagarajah and Losliya Mariyanesan, known for their appearances in the reality tv show 'Big Boss Tamil', are set to play the leading roles.

Filmmaker K.S. Ravikumar, who will also play a lead role in the movie, will also be seen producing the project, Indian media reported.

The story of the film is based around a lonely aged man, who is gifted a robot by his son. It has been speculated that Tharshan will play the role of the son in the Tamil version.

The original Malayalam sci-fi comedy-drama was directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval and is said to be inspired from the Hollywood flick Robot & Frank.

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The 1st Athugala Air Gun championship

The 1st Athugala Air Gun championship (youth & junior) 2021of was held from 22 Oct 2021 to 26 Oct 2021 at the Athugala 10m Air Gun range, Uhumeeya, Kurunegala ending the competition drought of almost two years due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was organized by the Athugala Shooting Sports Club, which is the first of its kind, being the inaugural competition dedicated to Youth and Junior shooters of the country.

The age groups for shooters under-18 years falls to the Youth category and those who are under-21 years will come under the Junior category. Event segments included Air Rifle and Air Pistol for male and female under both Youth and Junior.

The top six shooters of each of the four categories were considered for national Youth and Junior pools provided they achieve the The National Shooting Sport Federation of Sri Lanka (NSSF) minimum qualifying standards, stipulated by the organisers.

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World's only known albino giant panda spotted in China

A giant panda reserve in China on Friday released rare videos of the world's only known albino giant panda roaming its natural habitat in Wolong, Southwest China's Sichuan. The giant panda is believed to be three years old and has started an independent life.

The Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve Administration said that the two videos recorded in February 2020 and released on Friday were the second time in more than a year the albino panda had been spotted by infrared trigger cameras.

In the first video, the panda is seen roaming in the snow, sitting with its back to the camera close to the tree where the camera is installed.

Three days later, it passed through dense forests and crossed small rivers and was recorded by  another camera on a mountain ridge a kilometer away. It was seen in the video for about 10 minutes.

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Infrared camera image taken on April 20, 2019 shows an all-white giant panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province. File photo:Xinhua

The panda was shown to have bright white fur, steady steps, a strong body, leading experts to determine it is healthy and about three years old.

While extremely rare, albinos can occur in numerous groups of vertebrate animals, according to Li Sheng of the IUCN Bear Expert Group and the Peking University School of Life Science. The genetic mutation prevents melanin from being synthesized.

The panda was first documented in May 2019 and has grown and appears stronger in the videos released on Friday.

In the two video clips taken last February, the panda is living on its own and experts believe it has left its mother's care and living independently.

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Actress Samantha Epasinghe succumbs to Covid-19

Popular actress Samantha Epasinghe has succumbed to Covid-19, reports say.

She was being treated at the Horana Base Hospital when she had passed away.

Samantha was a vibrant presence in the Theatre, mini screen and cinema and is perhaps best known for her role of 'Kumari' in the 1989 teledrama - Asalwesiyo.

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The world’s oldest animal paintings are on this cave wall

In the Western imagination, ancient cave paintings tend to conjure images of Lascaux, the cave complex in southwestern France that is famous for its exceptionally detailed depictions of humans and animals. The Lascaux paintings, however, are a mere 17,000 years old.
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Actress Sureni Senarath has passed away

Sri Lankan actress Sureni Senarath has passed away at the age of 62.

The actress who has been suffering from illness for a long period of time had passed away early this morning.

Her body has been placed at the Jayaratne Funeral Parlour in Borella, while the final rites are to be conducted at the Borella Cemetery tomorrow.

Sureni Senarath was well known for her performances in both television dramas and movies.

The actress is popular for her performances in Chandi Raja (1990), Dalulana Gini (1995) and Salupata Ahasata 2 (2000).

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Reddit's most popular movies and TV shows of 2020

There wasn't much to do in this horrible year besides consume entertainment and use the internet. So it will probably not shock you to learn that an awful lot of people were talking about entertainment online this year.

Reddit has unveiled a heap of data about users' activity in 2020, showing that basically everything was way up compared to 2019, with more daily active users, posts, comments, and upvotes. The data also detailed the most-discussed entertainment topics among users, though the overall most popular TV show was not revealed as in previous years. Instead, Reddit disclosed a handful of the most popular shows in various genres, including reality, comedy, drama, anime, and sci-fi.

Among these top titles were juggernauts like The Office, Game of Thrones, The Bachelor, and Rick and Morty, along with a smattering of cult favorites like Community, which debuted on Netflix in April, and BoJack Horseman, which concluded its run in January. Meanwhile, Tenet was the most-discussed movie of the year, edging out (presumably) more widely-seen titles like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Hamilton.

Other fun tidbits from the year-end data: the r/animalcrossing subreddit saw a more than 1700 percent increase in activity from 2019, Making a Murderer and Unsolved Mysteries were the top two true-crime TV shows by community activity, and the most popular TV community created in 2020 was, of course, r/tigerking. Thanks, Reddit, for giving us the year in miniature.

See the full lists of Reddit's most popular entertainment below.

Most Popular Television Shows By Community Activity

● Reality TV: Big Brother, 90 Day Fiancé, The Bachelor, Survivor, RuPaul’s Drag Race

● Comedy: The Office, Rick and Morty, Community, BoJack Horseman, The Simpsons

● Drama: The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Grey’s Anatomy, Breaking Bad

● Anime: One Piece, My Hero Academia, Naruto, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Boruto

● Sci-fi: Star Trek, Westworld, Doctor Who, The 100, Dark

Most Discussed New or Upcoming Films in r/movies

    Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
    Sonic the Hedgehog
    Wonder Woman 1984
    Birds of Prey
    Black Widow
    The Invisible Man

Most Popular Video Games of 2020 by Community Activity

    League of Legends
    Animal Crossing

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