Daily Archives: October 29, 2014

Suspicious cyber activity at White House addressed

Suspicious cyber activity has been detected on the computer network used by the White House and measures have been taken to address it, a White House official disclosed on Tuesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say who might have been responsible for the activity on what was described as an unclassified computer network used by employees of the executive office of the President.

The Washington Post cited sources as saying hackers believed to be working for the Russian government breached the unclassified computer network in recent weeks.

“In the course of assessing recent threats we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network. Any such activity is something that we take very seriously. In this case we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,” the White House official said.

The official said the technical measures to address the activity had led to limited access to some EOP network services. Some of the issues have been resolved, but the work continues.

“Our actions are ongoing and some of our actions have resulted in temporary outages and loss of connectivity for some EOP users,” the official said.

A second administration official told Reuters there were no indications that classified networks had been affected. The White House, like many government entities in Washington, frequently faces cyber threats.

HT

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10 dead, over 250 missing in Sri Lanka mudslide

A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers’ houses at a tea estate in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, officials said. The mudslide struck at around 7:30am and wiped out 120 workers’ homes at the Meeriabedda tea estate in Badulla district, 218 kilometers (135 miles) east of the capital, Colombo, said Lal Sarath Kumara, an official from the Disaster Management Center.

By early afternoon, rescue workers had pulled out 10 bodies that had been buried by the mudslide, Kumara said. More than 250 other people were missing, he said.

The military mobilized troops to help in the rescue operations.

Most of Sri Lanka has seen heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Center had issued warnings for mudslides and falling rocks.

The current monsoon season in the Indian Ocean island nation runs from October through December.

Sri Lanka’s famous Ceylon tea is produced mainly in the country’s central hills.

HT

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Sex with multiple partners cuts prostrate cancer risks: Study

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Representative photo Womanisers may now have a lame excuse! A Canadian study has revealed that men who have sex with multiple partners are less likely to get prostrate cancer.

Men who had sex with more than 20 women had a 28% reduced risk of being diagnosed with the disease, whereas those who had less partners didn’t fare as well.

Large numbers of ejaculations may reduce the concentration of cancer-causing substances in prostatic fluid, a constituent of semen, the study noted.

This would mean frequent masturbation would also reduce your likelihood of catching the deadly disease, the metro.co.uk reported citing the study.

In the case of gay man, however, the opposite is true. Hence, such people should not strive for multiple partners since doing so would double the risk of prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer and Environment Study involved 3,208 men and answered questions about their lifestyle and sex lives, the report said.

“It is possible that having many female sexual partners results in a higher frequency of ejaculations, whose protective effect against prostate cancer has been previously observed in cohort studies,” lead researcher Marie-Elise Parent, from the University of Montreal, said.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

IT

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UNP Leader’s Aspirations To Win Presidency Appears To be A Pipe Dream!

While most contestants of such competition dream of winning a Presidency during their lifetime they do so with an unblemished track record and the backing of the majority vote!! This seems hardly likely in the case of the UNP’s Ranil Wickremasinghe as he has disentitled himself to the privilege on many counts and has virtually proven himself to be a mere power hungry aspirant to the title sans the credential needed a he has already had his chance and apparently totally blown it.

What shows him in the guise of a dreamer becomes painfully apparent when scrutinising his track record where he has on more than one occassion showed the willingness to sell out the country to western powers who were prepared to use him as a pawn to undermine the present admninistration as well as his willingness to bargain away Sri Lanka to her adversaries such as the mendacious Tamil Tigers who at one time appeared to dictate terms to him and precipitated his virtual demise as a resul when he defaultedt.There could have been severe reprisals for Sri Lanka had Ranil’s covert alliance with the LTTE borne fruit but fortunately for the Nation it did not. Perhaps due to the perceptions of the present Administration itself although it did not come down hard enough on him when it should have.

Synonymously when the main opposition United National Party (UNP) in a news bulletin says ” it is confident of securing a historic victory” at the next Presidential elections they must surely be deluding themselves or contemplating a leadership change prior to that but unlikely based on the time factor involved although stranger things have happened in the political spectrum of Sri Lanka although no leadership change appears to be capable of tarnishing or altering the huge popularity ratings President Rajapaksa has in Sri Lanka today!

The simplest question needs to be asked “What Has Ranil Wickremasinghe Done For Sri Lanka To Deserve The Presidency And What Are His Credentials Which makes Him So deserving ?” to which the sad answer would be “Practically Nothing Other Than Attempt At Any Cost To Grab Power ~ by hook or by crook to put it simply!

Therefore when UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at a UNP rally held at Hyde Park in Colombo recently , says that his party has just a short way to go in its climb to the top of the mountain, he must either be dreaming or very persevering in his attempt to climb to the top of this mountain he refers to and virtually an attempt at Mt. Everest ( the outcome of that needing no rocket science to interpret!).

On a more realistic note UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa when saying that “the UNP cannot win without the support of the party organisers and supporters around the island and calling on them to rally around the UNP to attempt rather than ensure its victory which seems more plausible than the exhortations of pipe dreamer Wickremasinghe and perhaps in a hypothetical sense had the former been the leader of the UNP the outcome might prove to be indicative that the voting public may be more favourable towards him relatively although hardly strong enough to grant him incumbency over the present regime as the Nation truly appreciates what it has done for Sri Lanka under the present leadership.

When musing that I can tell you we will secure a historic victory be it at a Presidential or General election,” Premadasa seems to have done exactly that( Muse) with a bit of wishful thinking attached to it albeit softer toned than Mr.Wickremasinghe who sounds as though he it attempting to fool all the people all the time with nothing substantial to offer them beyond his rhetoric!

To add to what many believe is his deceit and duplicity, Wickremesinghe has insisted that” he never met the pro-LTTE diaspora in London during his recent visit to the UK.” when all the news reports indicated that he had done exactly that and that his mission was to coincide with the EU’s lifting its ban on the proscribed LTTE or be part and parcel in its execution confirmed by very reliable sources.There are many who have drawn conclusions given his track record that this was yet another attempt on his part to discredit the present Sri Lanka Administration, so is this the kind of leader the Nation needs? one might ask, to which the answer is self providing in a very negative sense !

The denials of his culpability to barter with as well as compromise the best interests of Sri Lanka towards his own gain is nothing new with the UNP leader where there is more than one situation during his political career indicative of this. That he has not been taken to task for such is a remarkable portrayal of tolerance on the part of the Administration where there are some who insist that his actions are treasonous which to the more conservative observer might seem debatable!

While he has said that some newspapers had published a photograph claiming it was his meeting with the diaspora he has insisted that he had never met such groups. either in London or in any other country indicative of his capability to stare one right between the eyes and deny blatant facts with all the incriminating evidence staring him right in the face. The information obtained was posted with confidence and credibility that traversed the international Press where had it been innuendo would hardly be worth a second glance. It seems to have caused quite a furore instead which attests to its veracity!

At the appropriate time Sri Lanka should and will have a regime change but in all probabilities never accommodate the likes of Wickremasinghe who should gracefully bow out of aspirations beyond his capability as it would certainly be in the best interests of Sri Lanka!

LW

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Rajapakse Ancestry: Rajapaksa’s are born Catholics of Malaccan origin..!

Rajapaksa is a ‘name’ that the British Raj gave to people that did a good job in Negombo/ Seeduwa area, close to Katunayake.

The same way the British did, give fancy names to people in the Hill country and South, that did a good job!

Rajapaksa’s are born Catholics of Malaccan origin (this explains the strong ‘gob looking’ Mongoloid phenotype features in all of them).

His father’s name was Don Alwin Rajapaksa. His son (the President now) is Percy Mahinda. They ‘converted’ their Religious belief’s to gain Political mileage.

This was no different to SWRD and JRJ, who were all from strict Christian backgrounds and converted to exhibit Sinhala Buddhist Extremism to gain Public Popularity. (Goes to show the basic insincerity and the manipulative methods used to gain power!)

The Rajapaksa family is now one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful families in the land.

Led by President Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa, all his ‘kith and kin’ now occupy senior positions in the Sri Lankan state.

The family controls around 70% of the national budget.

The Rajapaksa family, originally from Seeduwa/Negombo later migrated with their Malaccan Catholic ancestors to the villages of Sippukulam and Giruwapattuwa in the southern district of Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota).

Their Malaccan relatives were banished by Islamic Rulers of Malacca for helping the Portuguese conquest of Malacca.

They were feared, and known for their brutality and ruthlessness.((nothing seems to have changed!)

The Malaccan family forcibly possessed fertile paddy fields and coconut lands belonging to natives, (nothing seems to have changed!) by enforcing their brutality through rape and murder. (nothing has changed!)

Some of the residum of the Malaccan Catholic relatives remain in the Seeduwa/ Negombo area, such as the Lansa Family (no relation of Mario Lansa??!!) of Negombo who are cousins of the Rajapaksa’s.

Members of one section the of the Southern migrant Malaccan family’s later converted to Islam to blend with the Muslims of Malay and Arab descent, in order to receive trade benefits and credit from Muslim traders who monopolized the southern trading ports of Galle and Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota). (p.s. History repeats itself- this time, with the ‘Chinks’ as well??!!)

The others entered into Village politics.

One of its members- Don David Rajapaksa, held the feudal post of Vidanarachchi in Ihala Valikada Korale.

The family entered the political scene by first feigning their Religious beliefs aligning more to the majority inhabitants beliefs of Theravada Buddhism!

Thereafter, Don David Rajapaksa’s son Don Mathew Rajapaksa was elected in 1936 to represent Hambantota district in the State Council.

Don Mathew died in 1945 and at the resulting by-election his brother, Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected without a contest. At the 1947 parliamentary election two members of the family were elected to represent both of the constituencies in Hambantota district.

Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected MP for Beliatta and Lakshman Rajapaksa (Don Mathew’s son) was elected MP for Hambantota.They yet maintained the subtlety of their staunch Catholic beliefs but appearing to be Buddhists on the outside!

The Rajapaksas continued to dominate politics in Hambantota district for next three decades with two other members of the family (George Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa) also entering parliament.

The Rajapaksas were represented in the country’s legislatures continuously from 1936 till 1977.

The family wasn’t represented in parliament after the UNP landslide at the 1977 parliamentary election.

The Indo-Lanka Accord shed light on the Rajapaksa family to adopt a more headlined” Sinhala Buddhist” policy.

This helped the Rajapaksa family to re-emerge as the dominant political force, in Hambantota district, when Mahinda and his brother Chamal Rajapaksa were elected in 1989 to represent Hambantota Electoral District.

They were later joined by Nirupama Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa.

Although the Rajapaksas had dominated politics in the Hambantota district, Nationally, politics were dominated by other families (Senanayake’s, Wijewardena’s and Bandaranaike’s – also hypocrites of Christian origin).

With the country having faced more than two decades of war (made even worse by the ‘Hoodlums of the JVP), the Presidential Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa opted to take the more radical Sinhala Buddhist extremist path.

He was opposed to Ranil Wickramasinghe, who had already created resentment from the Sinhala Buddhist majority and was considered to be ‘light veined’ and pro- Western.

This paid off well in 2005, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President.

There are claims that in the 2005 and consecutive Presidential Elections his Victory was bequeathed by the sordid tales of manipulation, thuggery and corrupt malpractices.

None of these allegation were proved, leaving them only as “tales of the disappointed”, although many still believe the contrary!

Since then, members of his family have been appointed to senior political positions.

Immediately after being elected President, Mahinda appointed his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary (the most senior civil service position in the Ministry of Defence).

Another brother, Basil Rajapaksa, was appointed Senior Presidential Advisor and later Minister of Economic Development.

Between them the three Rajapaksa brothers are in charge of five government ministries: Defence & Urban Development, Economic Development, Finance & Planning, Highways and Ports & Aviation.

This means that they directly control 70% of the national budget.

None of these relations had the decency, honour or self respect to decline accepting these ‘high offices’ if only to squash the obvious embarrassing ‘accusations’ that followed by the thousands.

They went on to acquire colossal amounts of wealth.

The Rajapaksa’s deny having control over such amounts!( Naturally!) Numerous other members of the ‘extended family’ have also been appointed to senior positions of the state.

The entire family seems “set for life”!!

After the successful ‘wiping out’ of the murderous Northern terrorists (also known for their brutality and ruthlessness), he empowered his Military brother to be in charge of Defence, and begin to infiltrate into the ‘Urban Development Authority’ (UDA), which has inexplicable ‘Land powers’, to override even the Judiciary of the country!

The accumulation of so much power and wealth by just one family, has inevitably led to the belief of blatant nepotism.

Incidentally, the UDA was formed initially, by the former President Premadasa when he was Prime Minister, and placed under his direct purview a notoriously corrupt civil servant named Paskaralingam! (pundi koottee)

Since then, the UDA has always been a powerful ‘control weapon’ of the Head of state.

Now the majority of the country, completely ignorant of facts and honest information, act like ‘lambs to slaughter’, under the command and discretion of the Rajapaksa family.

To enhance their so called ‘power’ they have recruited former menials,ex-cattle thieves, illicit alcohol brewers and “father unknown” village thugs, to execute matters of ‘law’ summarily!

All this whilst the country enjoys a reputation of having the” best Police Force in the world- that money can buy” !!!!

Now, the UDA is alleged to be forcibly acquiring Private and State Property and transferring them on to questionable tri-pâté agreements to their own family members and their ‘foot and mouth’ soldiers!!

Re-living their ancestral history of conquering the deep south, and now the whole nation!

Let us all sincerely hope that the “wheels of Karma would turn slowly, but surely”!

(First Published by Sri Lanka Guardian)

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Tesco’s Downfall Is a Warning to Data-Driven Retailers

Tesco’s chairman has resigned in disgrace. The company’s market value has more than halved to an 11-year low as it acknowledged overstating profits by hundreds of millions of dollars. And a humbled Warren Buffett, after opportunistically raising his stake in the company after a surprise profit warning, confessed to CNBC: “I made a mistake on Tesco. That was a huge mistake by me.”

Indeed. Britain’s biggest supermarket chain has not only seen its fortunes erode but its reputation for competitiveness, creativity and integrity collapse. Even before its accounting travails, a former chairman had sharply criticized former CEO Sir Terry Leahy, who had led Tesco to market dominance and worldwide admiration, for leaving a shambles of a legacy. Leahy’s immediate successor resigned in July; his successor from Unilever now confronts more of a turnaround than he had ever expected.

What the heck happened to Tesco?

Many analysts and unhappy investors point to Tesco’s ill-fated Fresh & Easy convenience store foray in America just as the global financial crisis kicked in. The failed expansion effort ultimately led to write-downs topping $3 billion. At the same time, dramatically increased price competition by discounters such as Aldi severely undercut Tesco’s “every little helps” value proposition. The company still declines to say whether its systemic supplier-related accounting misstatements better reflect malpractice or malfeasance. Regardless, Tesco’s collective failures feel operational, organizational and cultural. This isn’t simply bad luck.

But beyond the business cliches of “big bets gone bad” and “not keeping one’s eye on the ball” is the disconcerting fact that the core competencies that made Tesco a marketing juggernaut and analytics icon appear almost irrelevant to its unhappy narrative of erosion and decay. More than any other retailer of scale, Tesco had committed to customer research, analytics, and loyalty as its marketing and operational edge. For example, the supermarket ingeniously succeeded at Internet-enabled grocery shopping in ways that Webvan-remember them?-could not. Tesco was digital before digital was cool. Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty program was launched under Leahy in 1995 and redefined both the company and the industry. As the Telegraph recently observed, “Tesco was transformed into the market leader in the UK-with more than 30pc market share-by being able to respond to the demands of its customers.”

American supermarkets-notably Kroger-admired and sought to emulate Tesco’s success. Even Walmart-overwhelmingly focused on optimizing its everyday low-pricing supply chain logistics-took Tesco’s command of customer analytics seriously. Practically every retail Big Data and analytics case study over the past decade explicitly referenced Tesco as “best practice.” With the notable exception of, say, an Amazon, no global store chain was thought to have demonstrably keener data-driven insight into customer loyalty and behavior.

But the harsh numbers suggest that all this data, all this analytics, all the assiduous segmentation, customization and promotion have done little for Tesco’s domestic competitiveness since Leahy’s celebrated departure. As the Telegraph story further observed, “.judging by correspondence from Telegraph readers and disillusioned shoppers, one of the reasons that consumers are turning to [discounters] Aldi and Lidl is that they feel they are simple and free of gimmicks. Shoppers are questioning whether loyalty cards, such as Clubcard, are more helpful to the supermarket than they are to the shopper.”

How damning; how daunting; how disturbing for any and every serious data-driven enterprise and marketer. If true, Tesco’s decline present a clear and unambiguous warning that even rich and data-rich loyalty programs and analytics capabilities can’t stave off the competitive advantage of slightly lower prices and a simpler shopping experience. Better insights, loyalty and promotion may not be worthless, but they are demonstrably worth less in this retail environment.

A harsher alternative interpretation is that, despite its depth of data and experience, today’s Tesco simply lacks the innovation and insight chops to craft promotions, campaigns and offers that allow it to even preserve share, let alone grow it. What a damming indictment of Tesco’s people, processes and customer programs that would be. In less than a decade, the driver and determinant of Tesco’s success has devolved into an analytic albatross. Knowledge goes from power to impotence.

There’s nothing new or unusual in a one-time business strength turning into an organizational weakness or an industrial irrelevance. But when we’re talking about customer data, insight, loyalty and all the ingredients that-supposedly-go into giving digital enterprises their information edge, then it’s time to get nervous and ask hard questions.

Is Tesco’s fall from grace a typical tale of shambolic succession and enterprise lassitude as times turned tougher? Or is it a market signal that Big Data, predictive analytics, and customer insight aren’t the sustainable competitive weaponry they’re cracked up to be? The schadenfreude gang may be counting on the former; but datanauts who referenced Tesco to sell their bosses on analytic investments would be wise to consider the latter possibility. Or is it probability?

Harvard Business Review

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