Monthly Archives: February 2015

Kshenuka Seneviratne named Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Thailand

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The former external Affairs Ministry’s Secretary,  Kshenuka Seneviratne has been named Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Thailand.

Kshenuka Seneviratne, who joined the Foreign service in 1985, is a versatile personality. She was the first woman career diplomat to be appointed as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 2009. She has amply demonstrated her capabilities both in multilateral and bilateral diplomacy.

We wish her well in her new role as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Good luck Mrs. Ambassador. We are sure you will represent us well.

The Crew – Lanka page

Sri Lanka wary of dangerous Afghans

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It’s often forgotten that around four decades ago, Sri Lanka were exactly where Afghanistan are today.

Sri Lanka began their journey as associates and waded through rough waters before winning the 1996 World Cup and establishing themselves as one of the premier One-Day International sides around. It’s going to be a while before Afghanistan achieve what Sri Lanka have, but when the two sides meet in Dunedin on Sunday (February 22), Afghanistan would be eager to take some notes and maybe even throw in a punch or two to highlight their intent.

The likelihood of Afghanistan pulling the rug from under Sri Lanka’s feet is dependent on which Sri Lankan side comes out at University Oval. Should Afghanistan face the side still sapped from the 98-run loss to New Zealand in the World Cup opener a week ago, they stand a good chance. But if Sri Lanka bring their A game to the table to make up for the loss and set themselves up for a spot in the knockouts from Pool A, Afghanistan are going to have a tough task on their hands.

It’s likely that the biggest factor will be Lasith Malinga. The paceman, returning from a six-month layoff due to injury, was a far cry from his devastating self against New Zealand, where he conceded 84 runs from ten overs with no wickets against his name.

Malinga must be aching to terrorise batsmen once again and a tie against the Afghans is perhaps his best chance to get back in his groove should Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lankan skipper, keep him in the playing XI.

“We believe he’ll come back strongly in the next few matches,” said Lahiru Thirimanne on Saturday.

While Malinga’s form is a concern, Sri Lanka have a lot on their minds with respect to their batting. Chasing a daunting 331, Sri Lanka were in control with Thirimanne handling the wheel, but in losing nine wickets for a mere 109 more runs, they showed just how vulnerable they could be against disciplined bowling.

As evidenced in their tie against Bangladesh – their debut at the World Cup – Afghanistan could be clinical with the ball. While their batting faltered repeatedly in their 105-run loss to Bangladesh, Afghanistan’s bowling unit, led by Shapoor Zadran, showed a lot of grit and control despite lacking threatening pace.

“Sri Lanka will be a step up, but I think my biggest message is you haven’t seen Afghanistan play yet,” said Andy Moles, the Afghanistan coach. “The issue with associate cricket is at times its inconsistency. When we’re good, we’re very good. Hopefully, come Sri Lanka, they’ll do better. It’s like a teacher with children; we have to educate them every day to get better, and you have good days and you have bad days.”

The World Cup has already witnessed an upset in Pool B with Ireland toppling West Indies.

Mathews, well aware of the repercussions should Sri Lanka crash out in the league stage, said he would be fielding his strongest side to avoid the possibility of another upset.

“They’re a very dangerous team. You can’t take them lightly because they can upset a team, and they’ve got nothing to lose,” said Mathews.

“We can’t just run through them. We’ve got to fight really hard from ball one to ball 300 probably, and fight it out and just take it as a Test-playing nation.”

Teams (from)

Afghanistan: Javed Ahmadi, Afsar Zazai (wk), Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi (capt), Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Nasir Jamal, Usman Ghani.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews (capt), Jeevan Mendis, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake.

WC

Gen Chrishantha de Silva Becomes Lankan Army Chief

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COLOMBO: Maj Gen.Chrishantha de Silva has been appointed Commander of the Sri Lankan Army following the retirement of Lt.Gen.Daya Ratnayake on Friday.

Maj.Gen.de Silva was the senior most officer in the army when he was overlooked and Gen.Ratnayake was appointed by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. He was posted in Russia as Deputy Ambassador instead.

Senior Defense Correspondent Iqbal Athas described Gen.de Silva’s appointment as al “good choice”. He belongs to the Combat Engineers Division and is the third engineer to rise to the highest position in the Lankan army.

Earlier, the media had reported that Maj.Gen Rambukpotha will be the new Commander because former Army chief and pro-government political leader Gen.Sarath Fonseka was pushing his case.Though an outstanding officer Maj.Gen.Rambukpotha’ s case was not entertained by the Sirisena government which decided to go for seniority.

TNIE

Will Apple be ready with its iCar by 2020?

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The alleged Apple car may launch by 2020. In a report, Bloomberg cites unnamed sources, who say that Apple will be manufacturing its own electric vehicles as early as 2020. Apple’s automobile efforts have been talked about a lot in the recent weeks, with speculations about the company taking on Tesla and General Motors eventually.

Further, both Tesla and General Motors have reportedly set targets for 2017 for releasing their respective new electric vehicles. These cars will be able to run for over 320 kms on a single charge and will cost less than $40,000 (Rs. 24.5 lakhs).

Of course, Apple has neither denied nor admitted that it’s working on an electric vehicle. That said, there have been multiple reports and videos claiming the same. In fact, some videos have even showed alleged Apple Car prototypes.

The only confirmed automobile-related effort that Apple has ever made is Apple Carplay. The company though has been hiring employees from reputed automobile companies recently.

TD

Sri Lanka confirms Indian PM’s visit

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The Sri Lankan government on Friday confirmed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the island nation next month.

Cabinet Spokesperson and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that Modi will arrive in Sri Lanka March 13 on a three day official visit to hold talks with the government, Xinhua reported.

Senaratne said that Modi’s visit will be the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime in over 25 years.

Modi is also expected to travel to the country’s war ravaged northern region.

The visit has been scheduled a month after the visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to New Delhi.

Sirisena who termed his recent visit to India as successful, returned Feb 18 after signing four key agreements with the Indian government, including one on civil nuclear cooperation.

The agreements will further strengthen the economic, power and energy, fisheries and cultural affairs sectors between the two countries, the health minister added.

IANS

ICC World Cup 2015: Don’t underestimate Sri Lanka, says Muttiah Muralitharan

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Muttiah Muralitharan has been a part of three World Cup finals in five attempts. But hasn’t tasted success since the Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lankan team won it for the first time in 1996. Ricky Ponting’s Australia took it far away from them in the 2007 World Cup final while MS Dhoni’s India chased their way to success in 2011. Murali doesn’t count Sri Lanka as top favourites to conquer this World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but given their World Cup track record gives out a warning, ‘Don’t underestimate Sri Lanka’. This and a lot more in an exclusive conversation with Headlines Today.

Question. How do you read the World Cup so far? No surprises.

Muttiah Muralitharan: Yes, there has been no surprise so far in this World Cup. West Indies losing to Ireland can be counted as a surprise but nothing apart from that. All the expected teams are winning. Pakistan is a lesser team than India so no surprise they lost that game.

Q. How big a factor is the ‘home advantage’ in this World Cup?

Muralitharan: Home advantage is a big factor. Australia and New Zealand are fancied because they are playing at home. Even South Africa is used to similar conditions. We had seen in the last World Cup that the sub continent teams did well. Conditions matter a lot so much so that it sometimes becomes difficult for other teams to scale them.

Q. India has got off to a perfect start to their campaign…

Muralitharan: India needed this win badly. This win would have given them some confidence. For last two and half months they haven’t won anything. But World Cup is a different competition. And once a team comes to quarters, you never know how it goes.

Q. What sort of role do you see spin playing in this World Cup?

Muralitharan: If there is a great spinner, he will do well. But in these conditions fast bowlers will always be more effective.

Q. Sri Lanka has started with a loss. Does that worry you?

Muralitharan: Sri Lanka’s first loss is not a big deal. They lost to New Zealand who is one of the favourites. It’s important now to win other games and get to quarters. Sri Lanka is always dangerous. Their performance in World Cup has been great for last 20 years. So don’t underestimate Sri Lanka.

IT

Criminal charges filed against Thai ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra

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Bangkok: Thailand’s attorney general Thursday filed criminal charges against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over a controversial rice subsidy scheme. If found guilty, she could be jailed for 10 years, Xinhua reported. Prosecutors submitted the case documents to the Supreme Court, accusing Yingluck’s government of buying rice from Thai farmers at above the market rate, costing the government billions of dollars.

Thursday’s charges came following Yingluck’s impeachment by the legislature last month, which forced her out of politics for five years. Yingluck stepped down from office by a court decision shortly before the military staged a coup in May 2014 and seized power from her government.

FPJ

Cyber espionage group `Desert Falcons` stole over 1 mln files from 50 countries

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A cyber-espionage group based in the Middle East has attacked more than 3,000 victims in about 50 countries across the globe, including India, and has stolen over one million files in the process. Desert Falcons, a cyber espionage group targeting multiple high profile organizations and individuals from Middle East countries, is believed to be the first known Arabic group of cyber mercenaries to develop and run full-scale cyber-espionage operations and was discovered by Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team.

Experts have multiple reasons to believe that the attackers behind the Desert Falcons were native Arabic speakers and at least 30 people, in three teams, spread across different countries, were operating the Desert Falcons malware campaigns. The group started developing their operation in 2011 with real infection beginning in 2013. The peak of their activity was registered at the beginning of 2015.

The hackers attack Windows PCs and Android-based devices using proprietary malicious tools such as, spear phishing via e-mails, social networking posts and chat messages. Phishing messages contain malicious files (or a link to malicious files) masquerading as legitimate documents or applications. The group is believed to use several techniques to entice victims into running the malicious files. One of the most specific techniques is the so-called right-to-left extension override trick.

The malicious tools used have full Backdoor functionality, including the ability to take screenshots, log keystrokes, upload/download files, collect information about all Word and Excel files on a victim’s Hard Disk or connected USB devices, steal passwords stored in the system registry (Internet Explorer and live Messenger) and make audio recordings. Experts have also found traces of activity of a malware which appeared to be an Android backdoor capable of stealing mobile calls and SMS logs.

Using these tools the Desert Falcons have launched and managed at least three different malicious campaigns targeting different set of victims in different countries.

Dmitry Bestuzhev, security expert at Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team said, “The individuals behind this threat actor are highly determined, active and with good technical, political and cultural insight. We expect this operation to carry on developing more Trojans and using more advanced techniques. With enough funding, they might be able to acquire or develop exploits that would increase the efficiency of their attacks.”

The list of targeted victims include Military and Government organizations – particularly employees responsible for countering money laundering as well as health and the economy; leading media outlets; research and education institutions; energy and utilities providers; activists and political leaders; physical security companies; and other targets in possession of important geopolitical information.

The main focus of Desert Falcons’ activity appears to be in countries such as Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Jordan, multiple victims were also found in Qatar, KSA, UAE, Algeria, Lebanon, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, France, the United States, Russia and other countries.

FPJ

Brick!! Read this today and don’t delete it even if you are too busy!! You’ll see.

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THE BRICK

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down

when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door!

He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid him up against a parked car shouting, ‘What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?’ The young boy was apologetic. ‘Please, mister….please, I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,’ He pleaded. ‘I threw the brick because no one else would stop…’ With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.. ‘It’s my brother,’ he said, ‘he rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up’.

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, ‘Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.’

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay ‘Thank you and may God bless you,’ the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar.. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: ‘Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!’ God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not.

Thought for the Day:

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.

He sends you a sunrise every morning Face it, friend – He is crazy about you!

Send this to every ‘beautiful person’ you wish to bless.

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow,sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

Read this line very slowly and let it sink in…

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

Pass this message to your internet Friends

Lanka to set up panel to probe Chinese port city project

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The new Sri Lankan government today said that an expert panel will probe all the complaints and environmental concerns regarding China-funded USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project and will take action if there are conditions detrimental to national interest.

Pointing that several environmental organisations have raised concerns over the environmental impact of the project, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament that the panel would look at all complaints and report to the Cabinet sub-committee.

Wickremesinghe said his government would take action if there are conditions detrimental to national interest.

On February 6, the government had said that it was yet to take a final call on the project, a day after it said that the controversial venture would go ahead as planned.

Wickremesinghe, however, clarified that the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena has not decided to abandon the project.

“We will consider the issue of our relations with China. We do not want to jeopardise our relations with China,” he said.

The port, expected to play a key role for China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Road project in India’s backyard, is being seen as the single largest private sector development ever in the island.

The project, would allow China Communication Construction Co Ltd, a Chinese government-owned infrastructure builder, to hold land in a high-security zone within close proximity to the Colombo port.

In the run up to the last month’s polls, President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe criticised the mega investments by China, stating that they were taken at high rates of interest and deeply indebted Sri Lanka.

Wickremesinghe said Rajapaksa government had failed to inform parliament on the deal despite queries from opposition.

The project envisages reclaiming of 230 of water front to be developed as a port city with roads, water, electricity, communication facilities to set up shopping areas, water sports area, mini golf course, hotels, apartments, recreation areas and marinas.

In September last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the construction of the project, part of China’s attempt to restore its ancient prestige and historical links along the maritime Silk Road through Southeast and South Asia.

The current Sri Lankan government in opposition was critical of the pro-China policy of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who built new sea ports, airports and highways with Chinese funds during his nine-year rule.

DH

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