Political meddling the cause
Despite millions of rupees being spent for the live telecast of the week-long celebrations to felicitate the President on her completion of ten years in office, the Media Minister is unhappy with the way the programmes played out on the idiot box. Several directors of the state-run television station were summoned to the Ministry recently and lambasted by the angry minister for the poor quality of the programmes which looked more like "funeral houses" and were not lively enough. The directors in turn summoned the technical crews involved and lambasted them. The prompt reply from the technicians was that new entrants to the Corporation with political backing have been given high posts while the experienced personnel have been kept languishing in the same old position for years and hence their lack of motivation to work well.

Anyone's guess
A reader has written regarding the our Odds & Ends of last week with regards to Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena turning up at the airport at the same time that the Sri Lankan who was taken hostage in Iraq was returning to the country. He writes that as the departures and arrival areas are separate and because one has to pass the departure area to get to the arrivals, there was no need for Dr. Jayawardena to go the arrivals if he was leaving the country and to suddenly spot Mr. Rajaratnam and speak to him. It is true that the departures and arrivals are some distance apart but Dr. Jayawardena did turn up when the freed hostage arrived as could be seen in many of the television shots taken at the airport. It was also the same day that Dr. Jayawardena was leaving for Bangkok to attend a conference. Whether the appearance of the publicity-loving politician at the arrivals area at the same time as Mr. Rajaratnam is a mere coincidence or not can be anyone's guess.

Cruelty to animals
Dogs were also in the news last week. Firstly, some animal rights groups were screaming foul at the UNF for using canines as part of their protest campaign to denounce the Supreme Court ruling that sent S.B. Dissanayake to jail for two years. The dogs were tied to posts and were adorned with the now famous words used by the UNF to decry the Court ruling. This was seen as cruelty to animals by some animal rights groups and was highlighted on state-run TV along with allegations that the stray dogs used were ones that had been gathered by the Colombo Municipal Council to eliminate, a charge denied by the CMC.

Unfortunate canines
The only dogs to be troubled were not those used in the protest. The environs of Parliament too had a dog problem but the Speaker had requested that the dogs be captured and taken elsewhere and not eliminated as is done in case of stray dogs. Despite the orders, it now emerges that canines were eliminated. So at least for a while there will be no dogs barking around Parliament.

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