India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

Updated 24 June 2014
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India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

The agreement to appoint Madhura Premathilake as the consultant architect for construction of the Jaffna Cultural Center was signed recently in the presence of Y. K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka.
The government of India will build the Cultural Center at Jaffna at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.2 billion in the next 36 months on a plot of land adjacent to the Jaffna Public Library, made available by the Jaffna Municipal Council, according to the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
The center and the adjoining water body — the Pullukulam will be transformed into an integrated cultural space that can also accommodate open-air performances with the help of a floating stage.  
A memorandum of understanding for this purpose was signed on June 9 between the governments of India and Sri Lanka to implement the project.
The Cultural Center will provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.  
The center, while enabling the people of Jaffna to enjoy various local and international cultural products, would also serve as a delivery center for training, instruction and education in a variety of cultural disciplines.  
The center is being developed as an iconic building that will emerge as a cultural forum that embodies coexistence and cooperation amongst the various communities on the island.
The facilities at the center include a theater-style auditorium (with projection facilities) with a capacity of up to 600 people, a multimedia library with on-line research facilities, exhibition and gallery space and a museum.  
It would also have an instructional wing, which would have facilities to conduct classes in vocal and instrumental music, dance and languages, including a language lab.  
It would also be able to serve as a hub of socio-cultural activities, for which a conference hall-cum-seminar room is included. 


Trump ex-lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison on campaign charge

Michael Cohen
Updated 18 min 18 sec ago
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Trump ex-lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison on campaign charge

  • Cohen received 36 months for the payments and two months for the false statements to Congress
  • ‘It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light’

NEW YORK: Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.
US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run simultaneously. The judge set March 6 for Cohen’s voluntary surrender.
Cohen pleaded guilty to the campaign finance charge in August and to making false statements in November. As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Cohen to forfeit $500,000 and pay restitution of nearly $1.4 million for the campaign finance law violations.
Cohen, 52, had walked into court on Wednesday morning with his wife, son and daughter, amid a crowd of photographers and reporters.
The sentencing capped the stunning about-face of a lawyer who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but has now directly implicated the president in criminal conduct. The three-year sentence imposed by the judge was a modest reduction from the four to five years recommended under federal guidelines, but still underscored the seriousness of the charges.
“While Mr. Cohen pledges to help in further investigations that is not something the court can consider now,” Pauley said.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged that Cohen, just before the November 2016 election, paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married. Trump denies having the affairs.
Prosecutors have said the payments violated campaign finance laws. Cohen told prosecutors the payments were directed by Trump, implicating the president in a possible campaign finance law violation.
Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $2,700.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen told the judge during the sentencing hearing.
“I felt it was my duty to cover up his own dirty deeds,” Cohen said, referring to Trump.
Cohen was sentenced on the separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.
“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in the country,” one of Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo, told the court on Wednesday, arguing for leniency. Cohen cooperated knowing “the president might shut down” Mueller’s investigation, Petrillo said.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller’s team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings. Russia has denied US allegations of interfering in the election to help Trump.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Trump denied the payments were campaign contributions. “If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did,” Trump said.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has argued the hush payments cannot be considered campaign finance violations because they were made to protect Trump’s reputation and would have been made even if he had not been a presidential candidate.
In his guilty plea to Mueller’s charge, Cohen admitted he lied to Congress about the timeline for discussions about plans for real estate businessman Trump’s proposed skyscraper in Moscow. The project was never built.
Cohen said in written testimony to two congressional committees that the talks ended in January 2016, before the first electoral contests to select the Republican presidential nominee, when they actually continued until June 2016 after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.