Rajapaksa seeks Tamil support in polls

Colombo : Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday held election rallies in a former Tamil Tiger stronghold and urged Tamils to vote for him in next month's presidential election.

Addressing a rally in the northern town of Mullaitivu, once the hub of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Rajapaksa said people of the north faced 30 years of hardship with no hope for a future.

Xinhua quoted him as saying that his government changed everything five years ago by defeating the LTTE and giving the public a good future.


Chaos in Kenyan parliament over anti-terror bill

Nairobi : Kenya's opposition lawmakers disrupted parliamentary proceedings Thursday as a debate for a new anti-terror law kicked off in a special sitting in Nairobi.

Chaos broke out inside the Kenyan parliament after an opposition legislator grabbed order papers and trashed these while singing Swahili songs meaning the struggle was still on, Xinhua reported.

The chaos and heckling by the opposition legislators forced Speaker Justin Muturi to adjourn parliament sitting on the controversial security bill for 30 minutes.

'Most US children likely to live with unmarried mothers'

Washington : More than half of all US children will likely live with unmarried mothers at some point before they reach 18, said a study by researchers from the Princeton University and the Harvard University, the US.

The absence of a biological father increases the likelihood that a child will exhibit anti-social behaviour like aggression, breaking rules and delinquency.

"These children are 40 percent less likely to finish high schools or attend colleges," the team noted.


Hostage reveals drama inside Sydney siege

Sydney : Sydney hostage Joel Herat has revealed the drama that unfolded inside the cafe where he and 16 others were held at gunpoint by Islamist extremist Man Haron Monis.

In an interview with Fairfax Media published Thursday, his father Bruce Herat said Joel told them Monis repeatedly said "someone must die now" when the first of the hostages escaped Monday afternoon.

Three people, including Monis, died in the siege.

Monis was wide awake and highly agitated by the early hours of Tuesday morning in the Lindt Cafe in the city's central business district.


Myanmar population increases by over 200,000 in seven months

Yangon : Myanmar's population increased by 237,975 in the first seven months (April-October) of the 2014-15 fiscal, media reported Thursday.

The number of births during the seven months was 375,763, exceeding the number of deaths, which stood at 137,788, Xinhua reported citing the semi-official Global New Light of Myanmar.

Quoting statistics from the ministry of immigration and population, the report said, of the people born during the period, 191,279 are males and 184,484 are females. Of the number of deaths, 78,758 were males and 59,030 females.


Families of Sydney siege victims visit memorial

Sydney : The families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, who were killed in the Sydney cafe siege, visited a makeshift memorial in Martin Place Thursday.

Relatives of Dawson looked visibly shaken as they hugged each other and read cards left by thousands of well-wishers, Xinhua reported.

Dawson, 38, a barrister and mother-of-three, along with Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Johnson, 34, were pronounced dead after the 16-hour siege which ended early Tuesday.


UN secretary general calls for international mobilisation against terror

By Arul Louis ,

United Nations: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for “mobilising all resources and political will” to fight terrorism in the wake of the massacre of 132 school children in Pakistan and said he will consider measures to help that country combat extremism.

Answering a reporter's question at his year-end press conference here Wednesday about the attack, Ban said that terrorism was a problem spreading to several countries and those affected by it needed help.

US, Cuba restoring ties very positive: UN chief

United Nations: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday heralded restoration of ties between the US and Cuba as "positive news", thanking leaders of both countries for "the very important step".

"The news is very positive. I would like to thank President Barack Obama of the United States and President Raul Castro of Cuba for taking this very important step towards normalising relations," said Ban at a press conference here, Xinhua reported.


Toll in Indonesia's landslide reaches 79

Jakarta : Rescuers have recovered 79 bodies after a landslide in Banjarnegara district in Indonesia's Central Java and are searching for at least 29 more people who remain missing, officials said here Wednesday.

Five people were still undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital for serious injuries and nine others for minor injuries, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency, told Xinhua over phone.


Obama to sign Russia sanctions bill

Washington : US President Barack Obama intends to sign into law a bill that will ratchet up sanctions on Russia and provide additional assistance to Ukraine, the White House said Tuesday.

At a regular briefing, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest expressed the administration's concerns about the legislation because "it includes some sanctions language that does not reflect the consultations that are ongoing".