The opposition today questioned the keen interest the United States is having on Sri Lanka with several top US officials already having visited the country this year.Opposition Parliamentarian Dullas Alahaperuma said that while the Government says it is following a middle line in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, the reality does not seem to be the case. Alahaperuma noted that even after the August 17 Parliament elections, before the cabinet took oaths, three Ministers took oaths so they could have talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal who was visiting the country at the time.US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Designate) Thomas Shannon is the latest US official to visit Sri Lanka. “I the last four months there were six US officials who visited Sri Lanka. In the past six months so many US officials have not gone to any other country. Are they coming with a good intention,” he asked. Alahaperuma said that over the past four months top US officials including Nisha Biswal, Samantha Power and Thomas Shannon visited Sri Lanka and had talks with the Government. Speaking at an event today Shannon said Sri Lanka is an example of the power of citizens to reinvigorate their democracy, to retake control – through the ballot box – of their country’s trajectory, and to set a course to a brighter future.He said the US now looks to Sri Lanka to also provide inspiration to others around the world, to show them how justice and compassion can overcome a difficult past and help create a stable and prosperous future, and strengthen a nation’s security, prosperity, and prestige. (Colombo Gazette)
Torstar Corp. will lay off 21 staff at its StarMetro office in Toronto as part of a shift of production operations to nearby Hamilton.The cuts include nine full-time editors, two full-time reporter-photographers, and 10 part-time copy editors, who will have work at the paper until the end of August, company spokesman Bob Hepburn said Thursday.The cuts are part of the company’s centralization of editing and production operations in Hamilton for cost efficiencies, he said, adding copy editors will be able to apply for jobs at the expanding office in that city.Torstar, which owns weekly and daily newspapers including the Toronto Star and the Hamilton Spectator, rebranded its Metro papers in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Toronto, and Vancouver under the StarMetro name as part of a relaunch in April.The layoffs come just days after media publishing rival Postmedia Network Inc. announced it would close six small-town newspapers and reduce print publication of four more, while slashing 10 per cent of its total salary outlay through staff layoffs and voluntary buyouts by the end of August.Last November, Torstar and Postmedia announced they had exchanged a total of 41 publications, mostly in Ontario, and would stop publishing most of them, resulting in 291 job losses, prompting an ongoing Competition Bureau investigation.Both publishers have undergone rigorous cost-cutting measures in recent years, including several rounds of staff reductions through both buyouts and layoffs as they attempt to offset the impact of declining advertising revenue in a digital world dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook.In April, Torstar announced it was doubling the pool of reporters at its western Canadian Metro free daily newspapers — an unusual move in a shrinking industry.CEO John Boynton said at the time the initiative represented a major investment in journalism outside of the company’s Toronto headquarters, where it publishes the daily Toronto Star.The company’s five Metro newspapers — in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Halifax — were rebranded StarMetro, with city-specific versions of the thestar.com for each.Aside from the Star and its affiliated website, Torstar owns daily and community newspapers throughout Ontario, a 56.4 per cent interest in VerticalScope and minority interests in a number of other companies.Torstar also holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with a subsidiary of the Globe and Mail and the parent company of Montreal’s La Presse.