Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sirisena to Get Total Support from TNA

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COLOMBO: The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has come out of its shell and declared full support to the Joint Opposition Candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the January 8 Presidential election.

Announcing this to the media here on Tuesday, TNA chief R Sampanthan said the Tamil question, which he called the “National Question”, can be solved only in a democratic set up and not under a dictatorship or a totalitarian system, whether of the Rajapaksa variety or the LTTE variety. Under Rajapaksa, Lanka has inexorably moved towards dictatorship and totalitarianism, he charged. The judiciary and other institutions are subverted to be subservient to the Executive Presidency. Parliament is devalued as an oversight body by “enticing” opposition MPs to join the government; and curbs are put on the media. On the other hand, the joint opposition candidate, Sirisena, has promised to restore democracy, Sampanthan said.

Sirisena is to dismantle the 18th Amendment, which had done away with Independence Commissions overseeing key government institutions. He is to abolish the Executive Presidency and reinstate the Rule of Law. The TNA leader said restoration of democracy will enable free and fair discussion of the Tamil question and help arrive at a durable, workable, generally acceptable, and just solution within a united Sri Lanka. He made it clear that the TNA does not believe in finding a solution to the Tamil question through secret and backdoor deals. It should be based on open discussions with all stakeholders, he said.

After the exit of the LTTE from the political sphere in 2009, there came into being an atmosphere for free and fair discussions. But, Rajapaksa actively subverted democratic structures to render any free and meaningful discussions impossible, Sampanthan said.

TNIE

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Lankan Star Urges Salman Khan to Stay Away From Country’s Politics

Salman Khan had called Mahinda Rajapaksa ‘an amazing man’ at an event on Monday.

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Colombo: Sri Lankan actor-turned politician Ranjan Ramanayake today asked Bollywood star Salman Khan to stay away from the country’s politics, a day after he campaigned for the incumbent President Rajapaksa.

The Sri Lankan movie idol, who is also an opposition parliamentarian, advised the Indian actor not to “sell” himself to “the corrupt politicians” and appealed him to go back to India.

“You are very popular in Sri Lanka and I am a fan of you. I am telling you please do not sell yourself to corrupt politicians. Please go back to India”, Ramanayake said on Youtube.

Salman Khan was yesterday in Sri Lanka to prop up the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election bid, the first Indian actor to be roped in for a poll campaign in the country.Khan was quoted as describing Rajapaksa as “an amazing man” after associating with Rajapaksa’s election platform.

The opposition, led by Maithripala Sirisena, claimed that Khan’s visit to Colombo coincided with an attack against local artistes by a group of Rajapaksa supporters.Young artistes campaigning for the opposition was set upon by a gang at Kurunegala in the rural north western province.

Beset by mass defections from his ruling coalition to the opposition challenger Maithripala Sirisena, Rajapaksa is believed to have suffered a loss of popular support. The Bollywood stars are expected to boost the sagging morale of the incumbent’s campaign.The Presidential election will take place on January 8, as Rajapaksa called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent attempt to seek fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further, after dropping over 21 per cent in September local elections.

NDTV

Flashback 2014: Five most inspiring videos

Bengaluru, Dec 30: We will be a year older, but our inspirations would continue to remind us what we are losing in the spree to live a ‘successful’ life. These videos are some of the most inspiring ones that will teach what exactly life is and how it is meant to be lived. The past year harped a lot on contemplation and thoughtfulness and that reflected in advertisements and videos trailing on social media.

1. Unbroken: This video justifies its title as it speaks of the game-changers in life and how they test our psyche and soul. One’s life is one’s own responsibility and breaking down in testing waters is the biggest failure. Learn to live it the way you want to live.

2. The Utah Jazz plays basketball with a 5-year old cancer patient: In a heartwarming basketball match, the Utah Jazz basketball team gave a 5-year old terminally ill patient a chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a basketball player. Watch how the 6-footers dodge the young champ’s moves.

3. Mother with Alzheimers recognizes daughter: An alzheimers patient recognizes her daughter after a long time. The movie projects the strength of human bonding, especially between a mother and a daughter.

4. The ATM that gave out surprise gifts: This video has literally brought people to tears. As the ATM machine props gifts to strangers, but loyal customers with various financial or domestic problems. And please note that these are not mere gifts, but a helpline for most of the recipients. Just click to watch them react to their surprise gifts.

5. The little girl that doesn’t want her baby brother to grow up: Watch out what made the little girl cry and what she said in this cute video that drove the audience crazy.

OI

Missing AirAsia flight’s pilot one of the best performers

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Jakarta, Dec 30: The pilot of the AirAsia flight, which went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore, was known for his extraordinary performance as a jet fighter pilot before he joined the airline, a media report said Tuesday.

Iriyanto, 53, started out his career as an F-5 and F-16 fighter pilot after having graduated in 1983, the Jakarta Post reported.

He joined the 14th squadron at Iswahjudi Air Force Base (AFB) in Madiun, East Java, and stayed there for around 10 years.

“He was one of the best graduates,” the report quoted an official who trained Iriyanto as saying.

“Iriyanto was known as one of the ‘Flight Leaders’ on F-5 Tigers, the leading fighter jet in the 1980s,” he said.

Iriyanto also served with Indonesia’s Merpati Airline and Sriwijaya Airline prior to joining AirAsia, the report added.

According to AirAsia statements, Iriyanto had logged a total of 20,537 flying hours, of which 6,053 flying hours were logged during his tenure with the airlines, while the co-pilot, French national Remi Emmanuel Plesel, had 2,247 hours.

Iriyanto has two children.

IANS

8 Ways Toxic People Poison The Best Workplaces

Oddly enough, the obviously terrible employees don’t cause the real problems.

Why? Whether clearly incompetent or unbelievably easy, they’re easy to spot. So they’re easy to get rid of.

The real problems are caused by employees who appear to be doing a reasonable job. but in fact are slowly destroying the performance, attitude, and morale of the people around them.

What do they do?

1. They frequently say, “That’s not my job.”

The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes – regardless of role or position – to get things done.

Even if that means a manager has to help load a truck or a machinist needs to clean up a solvent spill; even if that means the accounting staff needs to hit the shop floor to help complete a rush order; even if that means the CEO needs to cover a customer service line during a product crisis.

Any task an employee is asked to do — as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal — is a task an employee should be willing to do. (Of course great employees notice problems and jump in without being asked.)

In effect, saying, “It’s not my job,” really says, “I only care about myself.” That attitude quickly destroys overall performance because it turns a cohesive team into a dysfunctional collection of individuals.

2. They think they’ve already paid their dues.
You did great things last year, last month, or even yesterday. We’re appreciative. We’re grateful.

But today is a new day. The only real measure of any employee’s value is the tangible contribution he or she makes – each and every day.

Saying, “I’ve paid my dues,” really says, “I no longer need to work very hard.”

And suddenly, before you know it, other employees start to feel they’ve earned the right to coast, too.

3. They feel experience is enough.

Experience is definitely important, but experience that doesn’t translate into better skills, better performance, and greater achievement is worthless.

Experience that just is… is just a waste.

(Example: a colleague once said to us younger supervisors, “My main role is to be a resource for you.” Great — but then he sat in his office all day waiting for someone to drop by so he could cast his pearls of wisdom. Of course none of us did. We were all busy thinking, “I respect your experience. but I wish your role was to do your job.”)

How many years you’ve served pales in comparison with how many things you’ve actually accomplished. Saying, “I have more experience” is like saying, “I don’t need to justify my decisions or actions.”

Experience (or position) should never win an argument. Wisdom, logic, and judgment should win — in whomever those qualities are found.

4. They lead the meeting after the meeting.

You have an awesome meeting. Issues are raised. Concerns are shared. Decisions are made. Everyone in attendance says they fully support those decisions. Things are going to happen.

Then someone holds the “meeting after the meeting” to talk about issues he didn’t share with the group. Now — and only now — does he disagree with the decisions made. And sometimes he even says to his team, “Look, I think this is a terrible idea… but we’ve been told to do it so we have to do it.”

And what was supposed to happen never will.

Waiting until after a meeting to say, “I’m not going to support that,” is like saying, “I’ll agree to anything. but that doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it. Shoot, I might even work against it.”

Those people need to work somewhere else.

5. They love to gossip.

Before a meeting we were talking about supervisors in another department when our new boss looked up and said, “Stop. From now on we will never say anything negative about anyone unless they are actually in the room. Period.”

Until then I had never thought of gossip as a part of a company’s culture — gossip just “was.” We all did it.

But if an employee has talked to someone about something Martha is doing, wouldn’t everyone be better off if he stepped up and actually talked to Martha about what she’s doing? If it’s “not his place” to talk to Martha, it’s definitely not his place to talk about Martha.

Saying, “Did you hear what he did?” is like saying, “I have nothing better to do than talk about other people.” Not only do employees who create a culture of gossip waste time better spent on productive conversations, they also cause other people to respect their co-workers a little less — and anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated.

6. They use peer pressure to hold other people back.

The new employee works hard. She works long. She’s hitting targets and exceeding expectations. She rocks. And she eventually she hears, from a more “experienced” employee, “You’re working too hard and you’re making the rest of us look bad.”

Where comparisons are concerned, a great employee doesn’t compare herself with others — she compares herself to herself. She wants to “win” that comparison by doing better today than she did yesterday.

Poor employees don’t want to do more; they want others to do less. They don’t want to “win.” They just want others to make sure they don’t lose.

Saying, “You’re working too hard” is like saying, “No one should work hard because I don’t want to work hard.”

And pretty soon very few people do — and the ones who keep trying get shunned for a quality we need every employee to possess.

7. They hurry to grab the glory…

OK, maybe he did do nearly all the work. Maybe he did overcome almost every obstacle. Maybe, without him, that high-performance team would have been anything but.

But probably not: nothing important is ever accomplished alone – even if some people love to act like it.

A good employee and good team player shares the glory. He credits others. He praises. He appreciates. He lets other people shine.

That’s especially true for an employee in a leadership position — he celebrates the accomplishments of others, secure in the knowledge that their success reflects well on him as well.

Saying, “I did all the work” or, “It was all my idea” is like saying, “The world revolves around me…and I need everyone to know it.”

And even if other people don’t adopt the same philosophy, they resent having to fight for recognition that is rightfully theirs.

8. …. and they hurry to throw others under the bus.

A vendor complains. A customer feels shortchanged. A co-worker gets mad. No matter what has happened, it’s someone else’s fault.

Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They willingly accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it (and they know that maybe the person actually at fault cannot).

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship. Few acts are more selfish than saying, “It wasn’t me…” especially when, at least in part, it really was.

Saying, “I had nothing to do with that so you’ll have to talk to Martha” is like saying, “We’re not all in this together.”

Source: LinkedIn

30 dead, one mn hit by Sri Lanka floods

At least 30 people have died, six are missing and about a million more were affected by floods in Sri Lanka caused by non-stop rains since Friday, an official said Monday.

“At this moment, we have 30 dead and six missing, and we have 33,346 families displaced as a result of the rain in 626 localities,” Anthony Milroy of Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre said.

He said the heavy rainfall had subsided in the southern part of the country, but continued to pour down on the northeastern part, the region most affected by flood.

Milroy said about 100,000 people have been displaced by the rain and about a million have been otherwise affected, but he was unable to provide any details about relief efforts underway.

According to reports, several roads were blocked and communications were affected in practically the entire country.

Authorities have evacuated Mutur and Somapura, in Koddiyar Bay, in northeastern part of the country.

Sri Lanka commemorated Friday the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that devastated a considerable part of the country, leaving over 35,000 people dead and over another 5,000 missing.

This year, the Sri Lankan government selected the theme “Safety Sri Lanka — let us unite to eradicate disasters” on National Safety Day, which has been an annual event held Dec 26 since 2006.

IANS

Sony’s PlayStation back online after Christmas hack

Sony’s PlayStation reported that its network was back online and claimed that it had been attacked, three days after it and Microsoft’s Xbox went down in an outage.

An allegedly coordinated Christmas day hack brought down the gaming consoles, both hot gifts for the holiday season, although Xbox has been working at near full capacity since Friday.

“PlayStation Network and some other gaming services were attacked over the holidays with artificially high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay,” Catherine Jensen, vice president of consumer experience for Sony’s California-based US division, said in a blog post late yesterday.

“PlayStation Network is back online,” she added.

Meanwhile all except three of Xbox’s applications have been up and running since Friday.

Game users took to Twitter to celebrate PlayStation’s return.

“Was just about to pack this ps4 up and trade it towards an xboxone. Just in time.” Twitter user @xander63090 posted.

Hacker group Lizard Squad took credit for the disruption and has targeted Sony in the past.

Sony had earlier this month been hit by a sophisticated hacking attack that stole massive amounts of data from its servers.

The US has blamed North Korea for the attack, with the reclusive state furious at the release of Sony film “The Interview”, which parodies leader Kim Jong-Un.

However, analysts said a direct connection between the Sony PlayStation and Sony Pictures attacks was unlikely, and that the latest hack was probably the work of fame-seeking amateurs.

TIE

US marks end of 13 year long war in Afghanistan, Obama praises troops for their sacrifices

The longest war in American history has come to a “responsible conclusion” with the withdrawal of US and NATO combat forces from Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama has said but warned that the country remains “a dangerous place”.

NATO’s war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 years, came to a formal end on Sunday with a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from US-led combat troops to the country’s own security forces.

In the 13 years since US forces landed in Kabul post 9/11 to throw out Taliban out of power, some 2,200 US troops lost their lives in the war against terror in Afghanistan.

“Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” Obama said on Sunday in a statement.

During these 13 years, Obama said, US troops have “devastated the core of Al-Qaeda leadership, delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.”

Thanking the troops and intelligence workers who served in Afghanistan, he said, “We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service.”

From January 1, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission, will be replaced by a NATO “training and support” mission.

“We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service. At the same time, our courageous military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan – along with our NATO allies and coalition partners – have helped the Afghan people reclaim their communities, take the lead for their own security, hold historic elections and complete the first democratic transfer of power in their country’s history,” he
said.

Obama, however, warned that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defence of their country.

“At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the US along with our allies and partners will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counter terrorism operations against the remnants of Al-Qaeda,” he said.

“Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the US to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation,” said the US President.

Under a bilateral agreement with Kabul, about 12,500 foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan. They will not be involved in direct fighting, but will assist the Afghan army and police in their battle against the Taliban, who ruled from 1996 until 2001.

TIE

Bollywood boost for Rajapaksa campaign in Lanka pol

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Bollywood star Salman Khan is in Sri Lanka to prop up the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election bid, the first Indian actor to be roped in for a poll campaign in the country.

Khan, along with Sri Lankan-born Jacqueline Fernandez and five other Bollywood performers are set to appear on stage in support of Rajapaksa.

Khan was invited to participate in the election campaign by parliamentarian and Rajapaksa’s son Namal, the local website Asian mirror reported.

Jacqueline Fernandez, a former Miss Sri Lanka, is a friend of younger Rajapaksa.

This is the first time a Bollywood actor has been roped in for a poll campaign, analysts said.

Beset by mass defections from his ruling coalition to the opposition challenger Maithripala Sirisena, Rajapaksa is believed to have suffered a loss of popular support. The Bollywood stars are expected to boost the sagging morale of the incumbent’s campaign.

Khan is not the only Indian influence in the Rajapaksa campaign. It has been reported that Arvind Gupta, a BJP social media guru, is helping the incumbent in the social media side of the campaign.

The presidential election will take place on January 8 as Rajapaksa called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent attempt to seek fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further, after dropping over 21 per cent in September local elections.

TS

Key Sri Lankan Muslim party quits government

Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party today quit the government and decided to support the opposition in the 8 January presidential polls in a move seen as a major setback to President Mahinda Rajapakse’s bid to seek a record third term.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem said they left the government due to differences over a 2010 law that lifted the two-term limit on the presidency and gave 68-year-old Rajapakse wide powers over the police, the judiciary and the civil service. “We have decided to support the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena,” Hakeem the SLMC leader told reporters.

“We have now realised the mistake in supporting the amendment which abolished the 17th amendment,” he said.

Hakeem said he has resigned as the Minister of Justice in the Rajapaksa government, becoming the second Muslim minister to quit Rajapakse government after Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. He said his party would now hold talks with the main opposition United National Party.

The SLMC now joins a number of parties supporting Sirisena, the former health minister of Rajapaksa.

Sirisena defected to the opposition camp along with several other senior leaders of the ruling UPFA coalition last month.

Rajapaksa, who was elected in 2005 and in 2010, called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent attempt to seek a fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further, after dropping over 21 per cent in September’s local elections.

In the last presidential election held in 2010, Rajapaksa won 58 per cent of the vote without the SLMC’s support. The party had then backed the opposition challenger Sarath Fonseka.

The President relies on the support from the majority Sinhala community.

Muslims, the second largest minority in the island after Hindu Tamils, account for about 10 per cent of the electorate and could play a decisive role in the elections. The main Buddhist party has already quit the government.

TS

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