South Africa secure draw against Sri Lanka to reclaim top test ranking

Colombo: South Africa reclaimed top spot in cricket`s test rankings after grimly hanging on for a draw in the second and final test against Sri Lanka on Monday to win the series 1-0.

It was South Africa’s first series win under new captain Hashim Amla and only their second series victory in Sri Lanka in 21 years, and sees them overtake Australia as the world`s number one team.

Set 369 for victory South Africa, who started the day at 38-1, finished on 159 for eight with Vernon Philander holding firm with an unbeaten 27.

That was despite a marathon bowling effort fromspinners Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera who sent down 89 overs between them, including 54 maidens, to claim all eight South African wickets.

Sri Lanka had to fight not only against the strong defence put up by South Africa but also the weather that interrupted play three times during the day, including in the final session with South Africa on 118-6.

However the sun came out strongly and Sri Lanka grabbed the wicket of JP Duminy in the first over of the final hour when Perera trapped him lbw for three.

Herath picked up his 18th five wicket bag when he had Dale Steyn caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella for six.

There was no further joy for the hosts, however, as Philander and Imran Tahir played out the remaining 27 minutes.

Amla had led South Africa’s resistance when he scored a fighting 25 off 159 balls before falling to Perera in the fourth over after tea when he edged an attempted drive to Mahela Jayawardene.

Herath also found the outside edge of Faf du Plessis` bat on 10 to give Jayawardene his 200th test catch.

Herath had also dismissed Quinton de Kock for 37 and AB deVilliers for 12 in the afternoon session, but the rain delays, which saw only 30 minutes play in the morning session, hindered Sri Lanka`s push to level the series.

South Africa had lost the number one ranking to Australia in May.

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N Korea threatens nuclear strike on White House

A top-ranking North Korean military official has threatened a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon after accusing Washington of raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The threat came from Hwang Pyong-So, director of the military’s general political bureau, during a speech to a large military rally in Pyongyang on Sunday on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Hwang, who holds the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People’s Army, said a recent series of South Korea-US military drills, one of which included the deployment of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, had ramped up tensions.

“If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival… our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon — the sources of all evil,” Hwang said in his speech broadcast on Monday on state television.

It is not the first time that North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric has included threats of nuclear strikes on the continental United States and US bases in the Pacific.

But most experts believe it is still a long way from developing a viable intercontinental ballistic missile with the required range.

The North has conducted three nuclear tests, but is not thought to have mastered the miniaturisation techniques necessary for mounting a warhead on a missile.

It does possess a range of short-and mid-range missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan, and has conducted a series of test firings into the Sea of Japan (East Sea) in recent weeks.

The latest test on Saturday — guided by the leader Kim Jong-Un — simulated a short-range missile strike on South Korea where 28,500 US troops are stationed, the North’s state media said.

It defied censure by the UN Security Council which officially condemned Pyongyang on July 17 over the recent tests as violations of UN resolutions prohibiting the North from using ballistic missile technology.

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Apple acknowledges that iPhones allow extraction of deep personal data

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Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicised techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week.

The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the “trusted” computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple’s admission.

In a conference presentation this week, researcher Jonathan Zdziarski showed how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple now says are diagnostic services meant to help engineers.

Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections.

“There’s no way to `unpair’ except to wipe your phone,” he said in a video demonstration he posted Friday showing what he could extract from an unlocked phone through a trusted computer.

As word spread about Zdziarski’s initial presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, some cited it as evidence of Apple collaboration with the National Security Agency.

Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.

“We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”

But Apple also posted its first descriptions of the tools on its own website, and Zdziarski and others who spoke with the company said they expected it to make at least some changes to the programs in the future.

Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spies. But he said that they extracted much more information than was needed, with too little disclosure.

Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate.

“They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security,” said Mogull, chief executive officer of Securosis.

Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.

“They’ll take advantage of every legal tool that they have and maybe more,” Mogull said of government investigators.

Asked if Apple had used the tools to fulfill law enforcement requests, Apple did not immediately respond.

For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc’s rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

Tech2

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Twin tragedies push Malaysia Airlines to the brink

Any airline would struggle with the devastating impact of losing one jet full of passengers, especially if it had already been bleeding money for years.

But losing another just months later is pushing crisis-hit Malaysia Airlines to the brink of financial collapse, airline experts said, spotlighting whether it can steer its way out of extended turmoil as once-troubled carriers such as Korean Air and Garuda Indonesia did before.

The flag carrier needs an immediate intervention from the Malaysian government investment fund that controls its purse strings, and likely deep restructuring, to survive the twin tragedies of flights MH370 and MH17, analysts added.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) was already struggling with years of declining bookings and mounting financial losses when MH370′s mysterious disappearance in March with 239 people aboard sent the carrier into free-fall.

The July 17 downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board, deeply compounds those woes.

“The harrowing reality for Malaysia Airlines after MH17 is that if the government doesn’t have an immediate game plan, every day that passes will contribute to its self-destruction and eventual demise,” Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia -based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, told AFP.

Shukor said MAS was losing “one to two million US dollars a day,” and has “the bandwidth to stay afloat for about six more months based on my estimates of its cash reserves”.

While the MH17 disaster was beyond the airline’s control – pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine stand accused of shooting it down with a missile – bookings are expected to take a further significant hit, as they did in MH370′s wake.

“I’m not considering going to Malaysia in the next few years. Not unless Malaysia Airlines acts or does something in the future that will allow people to feel more relaxed about travelling there,” said Zhang Bing, a Chinese national in Beijing.

Jonathan Galaviz, a partner at the US-based travel and tourism consultancy Global Market Advisors, said “perception is key in the airline industry”.

“Unfortunately for Malaysia Airlines, potential international customers are now going to link the brand to tragedy.”

The airline already has announced refunds for ticket cancellations following MH17, which Galaviz said would cost millions of dollars.

Speculation is rife that state investment vehicle Khazanah Nasional, which owns 69 per cent of the airline, will delist its shares and take it private, which could set the stage for painful cost-cutting measures and other reforms. Analysts have long blamed poor management, government interference, a bloated workforce, and powerful, reform-resistant employee unions for preventing the airline from remaining competitive.

Source:Deccan Herald

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China begins trial production of world’s largest amphibious aircraft TA600

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The aircraft, with a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons and a maximum range of more than 5,000 km is larger than a Boeing 737 and could be used for fire fighting and air-sea rescue, Fu Junxu, general manager of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd’s Zhuhai branch said.

China began developing the aircraft five years ago, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a company executive today.

The trial production started following completion of the design process, he said.

Its maiden flight is expected to happen in late 2015, Fu said.

“After a period of trial flights, the aircraft will be put onto the market,” he said.

Upon completion, it will replace Japan’s Shin Maywa US-2 aircraft as the largest amphibious aircraft in the world. I T

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