President Maithripala Sirisena reshuffled the cabinet in Sri Lanka for the second time since forming a unity government in 2015 after its two main coalition partners were defeated in local government elections.
Sirisena announced changes to six cabinet ministers, three state ministers and one deputy minister on Sunday, according to a statement from the president’s office.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe added the portfolio of law and order to his responsibilities.
"The government needs to improve its policies, programs and actions to serve our people better.
" Sirisena’s office quoted him as saying in a tweet.
A new opposition party backed by former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa won local government elections on Feb.
10, defeating the parties of Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who together run the federal government.
Amid moves by Sirisena to appoint a new prime minister, Wickremesinghe said on Feb.
16 that he will restructure his party after its poll loss and would stay in his role as per the island’s constitution while discussing with Sirisena changes to the cabinet.
Sirisena ousted Rajapaksa at presidential polls in 2015 and the unity government he formed with Wickremesinghe won parliamentary elections in August that year.
With no significant changes announced, there will be no impact on the markets, said Adrian Perera, chief operating officer at EquiCapital Investments in Colombo.
"The government will have to take strong action to revive the economy and keep the cost of living down, otherwise the opposition will get activated again and the main parties will be in trouble again in future elections," Perera said.
Sirisena made his first changes to the cabinet in May, including swapping the key finance and foreign ministry portfolios in a bid to bolster the island nation’s development drive.
The central bank on Feb.
15 kept its benchmark interest rates unchanged to help bolster an economy that’s been hit by bad weather across the South Asian island.
The International Monetary Fund has said it supports Sri Lanka maintaining a tightening bias and the monetary authority should contain credit growth and inflation.
The central bank has been on hold since raising rates in March last year to bolster the currency.
The rupee is down 1.
1 percent so far this year.
A North Korean delegation led by a controversial general has crossed into South Korea for the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Pyeongchang.
Gen Kim Yong-chol is blamed for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship in 2010, with the loss of 46 seamen.
Pyongyang denies any involvement.
Families of the victims and South Korean conservative MPs held a protest, trying to block his trip at the border.
The sports diplomacy comes at a time of improved ties between the two Koreas.
At the Winter Olympics, both North and South Korea marched under one flag at the opening ceremony, and later fielded a unified women`s ice hockey team.
However, experts have cautioned that the latest developments do not put an end to underlying regional tensions, particularly following last year`s nuclear and missile tests carried out by the North.
The US delegation at the Olympics - which includes President Donald Trump`s daughter Ivanka - has ruled out meeting the North Korean officials.
On Friday, Washington announced a set of fresh sanctions against the North.
The Korean peninsula has been divided since the 1950-53 war and the two sides have never signed a peace treaty.
Geo-strategic manoeuvres at the Games By Stephen McDonell, BBC News, Pyeongchang The Winter Olympics will be bound up in geo-strategic manoeuvres right down to the extinguishing of the flame.
At centre stage for the closing ceremony in the coming hours will be political figures from the United States and North Korea.
Pyongyang has sent a military intelligence chief accused of planning several attacks on the south and dozens of protesters gathered at the border to oppose Gen Kim entering the country.
The US will be represented by the president`s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
Officials say there is no plan for the two to meet inside the main stadium as they watch proceedings.
Who is Gen Kim? The 72-year-old is a former military intelligence chief.
He is leading the eight-member North Korean delegation to the Olympic closing ceremony later on Sunday.
During his time in office, Gen Kim was accused of orchestrating attacks on the Cheonan warship and Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
He was also linked to a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 in a bid to block the release of The Interview, a comedy film based on the North Korean regime.
Gen Kim rose to prominence as Pyongyang`s chief military negotiator during inter-Korean talks, between 2006 and 2008.
He later served as the director of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, tasked with cyber-warfare and gathering foreign intelligence, from 2009 to 2016.
In 2016, he took charge of the United Front Department, the civilian intelligence agency which supposedly operates pro-North Korean groups in South Korea and handles inter-Korean affairs.
Isn`t the general under sanctions? Yes.
Washington imposed sanctions on Gen Kim in 2010 and 2015, and Seoul did the same in 2016.
However, South Korea`s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon has clarified that there are no restrictions on his travel to the Olympics.
Despite conservative protests, the South Korean government has welcomed his visit, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to meet the delegation.
Russia`s Olympic ban will be lifted if there are no more doping violations from their athletes at Pyeongchang 2018, the International Olympic Committee has ruled.
However, the IOC says Russian athletes will not be allowed to parade under their own flag at the closing ceremony.
Russia was banned because of state-sponsored doping at Sochi 2014.
A team of 168 competed in South Korea as neutral Olympic athletes from Russia (OAR) but two failed drugs tests.
Alexander Krushelnitsky won bronze in the mixed curling but was stripped of his medal after being found guilty of doping while Nadezhda Sergeeva, who competed in bobsleigh, was banned on Saturday.
IOC president Thomas Bach said the failed tests were "very disappointing and prevented the IOC from considering lifting the ban for the closing ceremony".
But referring to the two positive tests, he added: "There is no evidence of systemic doping and no evidence of the involvement of the Russian Olympic Committee in these cases.
" The decisions on Russia`s ban and the closing ceremony were carried unanimously at a meeting of the IOC, following recommendations from its executive board.
The session heard from Nicole Hoevertsz, the head of an implementation group that reported to the IOC on the OAR delegation`s "exemplary" behaviour in Pyeongchang.
"We have to draw a line and look towards the future," Hoevertsz said.
"We need to bring this story to an end and look forward.
It is never going to be business as usual in sport again or in Russia.
" When the IOC announced Russia`s ban in December, Bach said the hosts` doping at the Sochi 2014 Games "was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport".
Only athletes who proved they were clean were able to compete in Pyeongchang for OAR, whose team was the third largest at the Games and has won 16 medals, including one gold.
Why was Russia`s Olympic Committee banned? This entire investigation was instigated by whistleblowing doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, who was director of Russia`s anti-doping laboratory during Sochi 2014.
He alleged the country ran a systematic programme of doping and claimed he had created substances to enhance athletes` performances and switched urine samples to avoid detection.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) enlisted the services of Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr Richard McLaren to look into the allegations.
The McLaren report concluded 1,000 athletes across 30 sports benefited from the doping programme between 2012 and 2015.
Wada obtained what it said was a Russian laboratory database which it felt corroborated McLaren`s conclusions, while retesting of Russian athletes` samples resulted in a host of retrospective bans and stripping of medals.
Last week Rodchenkov told BBC Sportthat the IOC faced "the most important moment in its history" over whether to allow Russian athletes to parade with their national flag at Sunday`s closing ceremony.
Letting them do so would be the IOC`s "worst decision", he said.
Reacting to the IOC`s decisions on Russia, Rodchenkov`s lawyer, Jim Walden, said in a statement: "Thomas Bach was a drowning man, but finally cooler heads within the IOC threw him a life preserver.
"Yet, in the decision, the IOC had the gall to claim Russia `respected` its decision on 5 December to institute the suspension.
This, despite Russia`s continued retaliation against the IOC`s main witness, Dr Rodchenkov, and Russia`s litany of further transgressions, including denial and obstruction toward the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency.
The acrimony caused by Bach`s mismanagement should be his undoing.
" How has Russia reacted? The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) says it hopes to be back in the Olympic fold "in the next few days" and welcomed the IOC`s decision.
"In light of the situation, we consider that the restoration of the rights of the ROC and all Russian athletes will be the main result of the Olympic Games that are ending today," it added.
However, some athletes were said to be disappointed that they would not be able to march under their national flag at the closing ceremony.
"Some athletes stayed behind later with the hope that they would be walking under the Russian flag.
I`ve heard athletes say that they were staying just because they wanted to walk with the flag and in our uniform," Elena Valbe, president of the Russian cross-country skiing federation, said.
President Donald Trump predicted the National Rifle Association will sign on to legislation he says will come together “very soon” to address increased background checks on firearms purchases, limits on gun ownership by the mentally ill and “perhaps” raising the minimum age for more sales to age 21.
“There’s no bigger champion than I am for the Second Amendment,” Trump said in an interview Saturday with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, in which he also restated his support for arming as many as 20 percent of teachers as a way to deter school shooters.
“I think you’re going to have tremendous support,” for a plan he said the White House is drawing up.
Trump also suggested he favors a combination of new gun limits and “offensive” approaches such as the controversial call to arm teachers.
“It’s time.
I think the NRA’s going to be for it.
” Trump plans to convene lawmakers from both parties next week at the White House on the issue of school safety, following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff.
The NRA, a powerful lobby, has successfully pushed back approaches to ramp up gun regulation in Congress in the wake of massacres at schools in recent years.
“It’s time to get it done and get it done right,” the president said of gun legislation.
“Somebody who’s mentally ill should not have a weapon, should not have a gun.
” The White House is considering the idea of using restraining orders to take firearms away from people considered dangerous as part of its response to last week’s massacre, two people familiar with the matter said.
Under extreme-risk protection orders, which are also known as red flag laws or gun violence restraining orders, firearms can be confiscated from people found to be at risk.
  The White House is studying an Indiana version of the law, and is considering other measures as well, according to the people, who requested anonymity to discuss policy deliberations.
Four other states also have such laws.
At the White House on Thursday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi described to Trump similar efforts underway in her state to allow law enforcement to seize firearms from someone who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
"Good," Trump responded.
— With assistance by Jennifer Jacobs.
President Donald J.
Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.
House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.
This is the first State of the Union address given by U.
President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) President Donald Trump said he plans to have a military parade through Washington including flyovers by warplanes if it can be done at a “reasonable” cost.
Trump said in an interview Saturday with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro that the parade would probably be on Veteran’s Day and take a route along Pennsylvania Avenue, a main thoroughfare that runs between the White House and the U.
“A lot of it would be flyovers,” Trump said.
“I think it’s great for spirit.
” Trump was impressed by the military display of armaments when he attended France’s Bastille Day parade last year and asked the Pentagon to come up with a plan for a military parade in the U.
  White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has estimated earlier this month that such a parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million.
Though troops participate in the presidential inaugural parade and other processions in the U.
, the country doesn’t typically have the parades of armaments more typical in countries such as France, Russia, China and North Korea.
The last military parade in Washington was in 1991, after the U.
victory in the Gulf War.
It does not seem long ago that analysts were predicting a new chapter in Latin America.
At the start of the 21st Century, the region`s politics were entering a new dawn.
For many the change was invigorating: a new socialist era in a region long-known for its gaping inequalities.
The poster boys of these new politics were Venezuela`s Hugo Chávez and Brazil`s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
And across Latin America, from Bolivia to Ecuador and Argentina, the left won out.
Happily ever after? Fast-forward nearly two decades and Lula, who once was Brazil`s most popular politician, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for crimes connected to Operation Car Wash, the largest corruption investigation in the country`s history.
Hugo Chávez`s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has run Venezuela into the ground.
People are going hungry and more than four in five people in a country with vast oil reserves are living in poverty.
Read more: When Mauricio Macri won the presidential election in Argentina in 2015, he ended eight years of Peronist rule under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Last year, centre-right candidate Sebastián Piñera won Chile`s elections.
Read more: And in Costa Rica earlier this month, an evangelical preacher won the first round of the presidential election and currently maintains the lead ahead of a second round in April.
Change is afoot.
Electoral marathon This year, six presidential elections are taking place in the region.
1 April: Costa Rica second round 22 April: Paraguay & Venezuela 27 May: Colombia first round 17 June: Colombia run-off (if required) 1 July: Mexico 7 October: Brazil first round 28 October: Brazil run-off (if required) Two thirds of the region`s more than 600 million inhabitants will be voting for a new leader and those elected could profoundly change the way Latin America looks and acts.
So are we seeing a marked swing from the left to the right? It is not that simple.
"I think it is very difficult to identify a clear narrative," says Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of International Relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo.
"Basically the entire political situation in most countries is in flux with the tendency that established parties will not be able to hold onto power and new parties will come in.
" There are however several things that unify the region.
Economy A decade or so ago, Latin America was riding high on a commodities boom.
That meant that countries like Venezuela, with its vast oil reserves, and Brazil, with its commodities such as soy, sugar, coffee and orange juice, could afford to support its generous social programmes.
The region grew on average around 6% between 2003 and 2008, helping to lift millions of people out of poverty.
It is a different era now.
Economic growth has slowed right down.
"Between 70 and 80 million people moved from poverty to the middle class," says Daniel Zovatto, the Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
"But it`s a very precarious middle class that risks returning to poverty.
" With dissatisfaction rising, political allegiances are changing.
Corruption Corruption is the buzzword of Latin American politics.
According to Transparency International, more than half of people in the region feel their government is doing badly at fighting corruption.
More than 90 million people said they paid a bribe in 2015.
Corruption is not new, but people`s attitude to it is changing.
Brazil`s Car Wash corruption probe can take some responsibility for that.
It has implicated not just the country`s biggest politicians and business leaders but its tentacles have spread right across the region, from Peru and Panama to Venezuela.
So what is different now? Daniel Zovatto likens it to the recent controversy over sexual violence.
"Sexual harassment isn`t new either, but look at the impact now," he says.
"There`s a change in culture, a change in values," he says, adding that with the rise in the middle class, it is not as acceptable as it was before.
Social media The way people consume politics in the region is also changing.
Latin Americans are some of the biggest users of social media.
Brazil has the third-largest numbers of Facebook users in the world.
"Social media is making things quite complicated," says Oliver Stuenkel.
"A lot of people are becoming more isolated from other mainstream debate.
You now have less productive dialogue due to extreme polarization, which is quite worrying because it makes more difficult to establish compromises.
" Polarisation That is especially so in places like Brazil where Lula still has millions of followers despite the corruption charges against him.
But on the other side of the political divide, there is a growing anti-Lula movement and increasingly powerful right-wing groups are shouting down the left.
Politics is polarised and that is being echoed across the region.
No more so than in Colombia where President Juan Manuel Santos brokered a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in 2016 after more than 50 years of conflict.
The deal divided Colombians.
But beyond the division over the peace process, one thing unites Colombians and that us anger over corruption.
After President Santos had to apologise for illegal funds being funnelled into his campaign, people want change and that will be a big focus of the country`s presidential elections in May.
Populism People want a new kind of leadership.
"There is a crisis of representative democracy across the globe.
You have to be much more attentive to the different forms in which reality exists," says former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
"You can`t put them all together with a simple label.
We have to go deeper to understand what`s really going on.
" In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, an extreme right-wing politician, is polling second behind Lula who may not even be able to run because of his criminal record.
A nationalist who supports military intervention in Brazil, Mr Bolsonaro`s populist style has drawn a great deal of support from people who feel the country needs strong leadership.
The region`s second-biggest economy, Mexico, has a populist candidate of its own but Andrés Manuel López Obrador could not be more different.
While Mr Bolsonaro has been nick-named Brazil`s Trump, Mr López Obrador despises the US President and wants to clamp down on crime and corruption.
However, both men clearly show the desire in the region for a new kind of politics and a rejection of the political elite.
Democracy There is a deep distrust of institutions across the region.
According to polls carried out by Latinobarómetro, just 53% of people in 2017 thought democracy was the best way of governing.
That is the fifth consecutive year it has fallen.
Brazilians are the least happy with democracy in the entire region.
Just 13% declare themselves satisfied with democracy.
What makes people think these elections will change that? Oliver Stuenkel things the dissatisfaction will give rise to more extreme candidates.
"In many countries you have authoritarian candidates saying that the difficulty of democracy is that it takes a long time to make a decision, that it`s necessary to concentrate power," he says, giving the examples of Bolivia, Venezuela and parts of Central America.
Mauricio Fronzaglia, professor of political science at Mackenzie University, agrees.
"Democracy does not deliver what democracy once promised," he says.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso thinks the problem is more nuanced.
"We have democracy, we`re following laws, following the constitution.
What is lacking is legitimacy.
" And that cannot be solved in an election.
Democrats on the US House Intelligence Committee have released a memo that counters Republican claims of bias in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential poll.
It says the FBI and justice department did not - as the Republicans allege - abuse powers to spy on Carter Page, Donald Trump`s former campaign aide.
Mr Carter is suspected of being an agent of the Russian government.
Mr Trump dismissed the new memo as a "total political and legal bust".
He has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.
The 10-page Democratic memo was released on Saturday.
Parts of the document were redacted to avoid revealing intelligence gathering sources.
It calls a Republican memo published by Republican members of the Intelligence Committee earlier this month a "transparent effort to undermine" the FBI, the justice department and investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Republican document alleged that the FBI used unsubstantiated evidence to spy on Mr Carter, who was put under electronic surveillance by the intelligence agency.
Central to that claim was the charge that, in its application for a surveillance warrant against Mr Page in 2016, the FBI had relied upon evidence contained in a dossier complied by former British spy Christopher Steele - without revealing that his findings had been funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign.