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World News



Permanent appointments to all graduates recruited to state service

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ridma Dissanayake
Arrangements are in place to grant permanent appointments to all graduates newly recruited to the state service, Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W D J Seneviratne said.

Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W.D.J.Seneviratne hands over a permanent appointment letter to a graduate recruited to the state service
There are around 10,000 surplus graduates in the state service after appointments were made in Kurunegala, Matara and Ratnapura districts. The ministry is planning to appoint them to their nearest districts according to requirements, the minister said.

Seneviratne was addressing a ceremony held to distribute permanent appointment letters among graduates who completed their one year training period in state service.

"Experience in dealing with the public is of top most priority in the government service. New recruits should be honest and serve anywhere they are appointed. They should develop their skills and serve the public in both rural and urban areas. This will help them to become skillful government officers," the minister said.

Government officers are a group who have earned public respect since the past. They have a major responsibility to serve the public and solve their issues in a peaceful manner. These officers should know how to serve the public in a correct manner and protect the dignity of the government service, Minister Seneviratne said.

Ratnapura District Provincial Council Member Salitha Karunaratne, Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry Additional Secretary Jagath Chandrasiri and Ratnapura District Secretary Sunil Kannangara were also present.

China promises further trade and investment promotion in Sri Lanka

To work together to reduce trade deficit:
Vice Minister of China's Ministry of Commerce Chen Jian expressed interest in boosting two-way trade between the two countries and further promoting investments during a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday.

Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce Chen Jian called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday. During the discussion Jian told the President that China is interested in boosting two-way trade between the two countries and further promoting investments. Finance Deputy Minister and International Monetary Cooperation Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, President’s Chief-of-Staff Gamini Senarath, Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Anura Siriwardena and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China Ranjith Uyangoda were also present.

Picture by Sudath Silva
President Rajapaksa thanked the Chinese Vice Minister for continued assistance and noted that most of the major landmarks around Colombo remind the Sri Lankan people of that support.

The delegation from China's Commerce Ministry is in Sri Lanka to take part in the joint economic and trade commission during which the delegations of the two countries will discuss plans for the next three to five years. "Our bilateral relationship is in very good shape," Jian said. "China and Sri Lanka have a long-standing and traditional friendship. There is no barrier to further cooperation between us."

In order to further enhance bilateral relation Jian said China hoped to focus on two areas. While China-Sri Lanka two-way trade is growing, "the two countries should work together to reduce the trade deficit," he said.

The Chinese officials informed President Rajapaksa that Sri Lankan products are becoming more popular in China and that they hope more Sri Lankan products will be introduced to the Chinese market in the future. With regard to investment promotion, Jian indicated that China, in addition to collaborating on large-scale projects would also like to invest in small and medium-scale projects.

A delegation of high-ranking officials from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce participated in the discussion.

Finance Deputy Minister and International Monetary Cooperation Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama, Secretary to the Treasury Dr P B Jayasundera, President's Chief-of-Staff Gamini Senarath, Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena and Sri Lanka's Ambassador in China Ranjith Uyangoda were also present.

UK visa applications online from May 6

Rasika Somarathna
Applicants and dependants applying for a UK visa will need to make their applications online from May 6, British High Commission sources in Colombo said yesterday. The High Commission said from this date, manually completed application forms will no longer be accepted.

Online applications and appointments will be mandated for all applications under the points based system, visitor

and settlement routes. This means applicants will need to complete and submit the application form by visiting Applicants will then need to print off a hard copy of their application form and make an online appointment to attend their nearest visa application centre (VAC).

They should bring the application form printout to their appointment at the VAC, along with the supporting documentation. Applicants will need to give their biometrics (finger scans and digital photograph) at the VAC in line with the current practice, the HC described.

According to a High Commission release, completing and submitting a visa application online helps the customer save time than attending for it at the visa application centre.

This is because information about the application has been received and recorded. It is also possible for the relatives of applicants to assist them to complete their application online, they added. Home Office Regional Director, Thomas Greig, said: “We along with our commercial partner, VFS Global, are committed to providing our customers with an efficient visa service, and we introduce changes to our processes with this in mind. In this case, completing and submitting applications online saves time.

“We have been introducing the use of online applications gradually so that customers have been able to get used to the process. Customers already need to make online applications for visas under the points based system. We are now extending the requirement to all categories of UK visa application.”

Customers have to go to: to make an online application. Applicants may continue to make an appointment separately to use the Premium Lounges to submit their applications, and should refer to for further guidance, the High Commission said.

Fire at Russia psychiatric hospital kills 38

RUSSIA: Thirty-eight people, mostly psychiatric patients, were killed in a fire that raged Friday at a psychiatric hospital in the Moscow region, trapping the inmates inside behind barred windows.

The deadly blaze raised new questions about security standards at Russia's medical institutions, in particular psychiatric hospitals, after a string of fires in the last years. The fire broke out on the roof and spread rapidly throughout the hospital in the small town of Ramensky around 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Moscow, the health ministry said. "According to preliminary reports, 38 people were killed, including two medical staff," said ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai, cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.

The emergency situations ministry said in a statement that 41 people were in the building at the time. It listed those missing as two female members of staff and 36 patients.


Sharp rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan - UN

AFGHANISTAN: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by almost 30 percent in the first three months of 2013, a UN envoy has said, describing a recent Taliban attack on court staff as a “war crime”. Jan Kubis, UN special representative for Afghanistan, said the “troubling” rise, compared to the same period last year, followed a 12 percent drop in civilian casualties over the whole of 2012. He told a NATO ministerial briefing in Brussels on Tuesday that 475 civilians were killed and 872 wounded from January to March.

“I once again call on anti-government groups to cease targeting civilians, using children in suicide operations and attacking public places including places of worship,” Kubis said, in a copy of a speech released by the UN in Kabul.

The UN official described an April 3 attack on a court complex in the western city of Farah as “nothing less than a war crime”. Taliban statements that courthouses and judicial staff are now considered targets “are of extreme concern”, he said.


Indian man held for selling baby grandson on Facebook

INDIA: Police in northern India said Wednesday they had arrested a 47-year-old man for selling his newborn grandson to a local businessman in a deal that was struck on Facebook. Feroz Khan, a resident of Ludhiana city in the northern state of Punjab 300 kilometres (200 miles) from New Delhi, had allegedly kidnapped his grandson shortly after he was born earlier this month.

Khan sought help from two temporary employees at a local hospital where his daughter gave birth, who contacted the buyer on Facebook and arranged the deal for 45,000 rupees ($830).

“All three people who conspired to sell the child have been arrested and we will be interrogating the businessman who paid the money to buy the baby,” Satish Malhotra, a senior police officer in Ludhiana, told AFP.


Hackers cause panic with ‘Obama injured’ AP tweet

US: Hackers spooked markets Tuesday after breaking into the Associated Press’s Twitter account and falsely reporting President Barack Obama had been injured after two blasts at the White House. A brief alert on the news agency’s @AP account read: “Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

Almost immediately the wire service posted via its corporate communications feed that its @AP Twitter account had been hacked, before promptly suspending the service.

“Advisory: @AP Twitter account has been hacked. Tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible,” @AP_CorpComm posted.

AP spokesman Paul Colford later said the wire service had disabled other Twitter accounts following the attack and was working with the micro-blogging site to investigate the breach.

The FBI also said it was investigating the incident.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the President was unharmed. “I can say that the President is fine,” Carney said shortly after the fake tweet.

“I was just with him.” Stock markets plunged just as the report came out, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 130 points, or 0.9 percent, and the S&P 500 dropping 12 points, or 0.8 percent.

Just as quickly they rebounded to where they were before the tweet, all within three or four minutes.

Online activists backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later claimed responsibility for the hack -- the latest in a series they have orchestrated against high-profile news organizations.

The group -- the so-called Syrian Electronic Army -- also successfully hacked the Twitter feeds of AFP and CBS News earlier this year.

“Ops! @AP get owned by Syrian Electronic Army! #SEA #Syria #ByeByeObama,” the group posted after Tuesday’s hack.

The group has also previously claimed credit for hacking the websites of Sky News Arabia and Al-Jazeera Mobile.


Bangladesh building collapse kills 82

An eight-storey building on the outskirts of Dhaka containing several garment factories and thousands of workers collapsed yesterday, killing at least 82 people with many more feared dead. Only the ground floor of the Rana Plaza in the town of Savar outside the Bangladesh capital remained intact when the block -- which one minister said was illegally constructed -- imploded at about 9.00 am.

A Bangladeshi firefighter carries an injured garment worker after an eight-storey building collapsed. AFP
Armed with concrete cutters and cranes, hundreds of fire service and army rescue workers struggled to find survivors in the mountain of concrete and mangled steel which resembled the aftermath of an earthquake.

Corpses and the injured were evacuated from the higher reaches of the pile of flattened floors with makeshift slides made from cloth which just hours earlier was being cut into shirts and trousers for export to Western markets. Hiralal Roy, a senior emergency ward doctor at the nearby Enam hospital where victims are being taken, told AFP that the death toll was 82 and at least 700 injured people had been treated at the hospital. “The toll will rise as conditions of some injured were critical “ he told AFP.

Some workers complained that the building had developed cracks on Tuesday evening, triggering an evacuation, but they had been forced back to the production lines by their managers. “The managers forced us to rejoin and just one hour after we entered the factory the building collapsed with a huge noise,” said a 24-year-old worker who gave her first name as Mousumi. “I am injured. But I’ve not found my husband who was working on the fourth floor,” she told AFP, estimating that 5,000 people worked inside the building, which also housed apartments, a bank and shops. Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan told reporters that the building was illegal and violated the country’s building code. The huge death toll was likely to raise further questions about safety in the garment industry.


New Fidel Castro biography planned

CUBA: Former president Fidel Castro will be the subject of a new volume of memoirs about his life as a Cuban revolutionary, the country's larger-than-life leader and a longtime nemesis of the United States.

In the twilight of his life, the latest tome about Castro will be written by Katiuska Blanco, a former reporter with official newspaper Granma who penned two earlier books about the 86-year-old. Castro's much documented life has been the subject of several books, perhaps most famously one written a quarter-century ago by his close friend, Nobel Prize-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Blanco, 48, his newest biographer, is also the self-described "polisher" of Castro's own writings. She has been a perennial collaborator with Castro on various writing projects, as the author of two biographical books about him and his family, one written in 2003 and the other in 2008. She also collaborated with Castro on an account he wrote in 2010 about his efforts to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista, and his autobiography that appeared in 2012.

Blanco said Castro has been an avid user of the Internet, which he has used with gusto since May 2001, but he jots down many of his thoughts by hand. He "never writes or does anything without giving it all of his passion, his interest and the force of his entire spirit," Blanco said.


North Korea rejects dialogue with South

SOUTH KOREA: North Korea has rejected South Korea's offer to open formal talks on restarting operations at the Kaesong joint industrial zone, Yonhap news agency said Friday, citing the North's National Defence Commission.

Seoul on Thursday had given the North 24 hours to agree to formal negotiations on the Kaesong complex, warning of unspecified “significant measures” if Pyongyang declined.

“If the South Korean puppet force continues to aggravate the situation, it would be up to us to take any final and decisive grave measures,” Yonhap cited the Defence Commission statement as saying.

The South's ultimatum had been seen as a thinly veiled threat of a permanent withdrawal from Kaesong, which normally employs 53,000 workers at 123 South Korean firms. The industrial zone, located about 10 kilometres (six miles) inside the North, was seen as a rare example of cooperation across the heavily militarised border.

But Pyongyang pulled out its entire workforce on April 9 and suspended operations, angered by the South's mention of a “military” contingency plan to protect its staff at the site.

The South Korean firms that usually operate at the complex have vowed to remain and fight to defend their investment whatever Seoul's decision. “We've decided to protect Kaesong Industrial Complex no matter what difficulties we may face,” a spokesman for the South Korean companies, Ok Sung-Seok, told journalists.


Obama, ex-Presidents praise ‘resolute’ Bush

US: President Barack Obama lauded George W. Bush Thursday as resolute in the face of terrorism, putting ideology aside at the opening of a library which makes his predecessor's case for history.

With all living US presidents at his side, Bush admitted some of the choices he made were unpopular, but said he was driven by a mission to spread freedom, in two tumultuous terms marked by the Iraq war and the September 11 attacks.
The dedication of the 226,000-square-foot library, museum and policy center in Dallas put a capstone on Bush's political career, and it will now be left to historians to debate his controversial legacy.

Obama, who had flagrant foreign and economic policy disagreements with Bush, chose instead to highlight the 43rd president's character, and spoke of a special bond with one of the few men alive who sat in the Oval Office.
“He's comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn't put on any pretenses ... he is a good man,” Obama said.

He remembered how Bush steadied a nation traumatized by the September 11 attacks in 2001 and began to plot the US response. “We're reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero,” Obama said, and also thanked Bush for his counsel when he became President.

“No one can be completely ready for this office,” Obama said.
“But America needs leaders who are willing to face the storm head on. That's what president George W. Bush chose to do.” Bush, who led from 2001 to 2009, wiped away a tear as the tributes rolled, in a ceremony lent added poignancy by the frailty of his father, and fellow ex-president, George H.W. Bush, 88. “There was a time in my life when I wasn't likely to be found at a library, much less found one,” Bush, 66, quipped in a reference to his wild youth.

But turning serious, he made an impassioned case that his controversial policy of pre-emptive war and regime change in Iraq was born of principle.
Like Obama, former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter chose to skip over controversy and praised Bush for battling AIDS in Africa.


Cairn India posts record revenues

Cairn India, the parent company of Cairn Lanka which is actively pursuing oil exploration in the gulf of Mannar has reported a record revenue of 175,241 million (US$ 3,223 million) a 48% increase over the previous year and profit after tax (excluding forex and impact of the reorganisation) of 116,063 million (US$ 2,135 million), a 56% increase over the previous year.

The company generated its highest ever revenues and net profit during the FY 2012-13 as production grew from the Rajasthan block and lower operating costs.The revenue, reported net of profit sharing with the GoI and the Rajasthan block royalty expense, grew by 48% at 175,241 million (US$ 3,223 million), the company said in its financial results report for the 12 month period ended March 31, 2013.

Cairn, successfully completed its second phase of oil exploration in February 2013. “The well encountered high quality reservoir sands; however these sands were water bearing. The well was plugged and abandoned and the rig was demobilized. The results of the well are being integrated with reprocessed 3D seismic data to finalize the forward programme which includes the options for appraisal of the existing two discoveries and entering exploration phase-III.

Options to appraise develop and monetise the two gas discoveries are under evaluation,” the report said.

“In Sri Lanka, data from both exploration phases is being evaluated and integrated to fully understand the block’s future potential as they evaluate options for developing the existing discoveries in the block,” the report said.


Dialog, Google team up to launch Free Zone

Dialog announced the launch with Google Inc. of Free Zone powered by Google, which will provide Sri Lankan mobile users with access to Google search, Gmail, and social networking through Google+, with zero data charges. Dialog mobile users can also visit the billions of Web sites connected through Google search without paying any data charges. Free Zone is optimized for feature phones - enabling any mobile user possessing a data capable handset to enjoy the power of web search, email and social media at no cost.

Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive, Dialog Axiata PLC exchanges the agreement on Free Zone powered by Google with Julian Persaud, Managing Director, Google, Southeast Asia. Also in the picture are Jana Levene, Emerging Market Development, Google and Azwan Khan, Group Chief Operating Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC.
“Providing our 7.5 million mobile customers with a platform to discover the power of the internet at no incremental cost, and thereby accelerating Internet literacy among Sri Lankan citizens has been a fundamental tenet of our vision for the mobile internet”, said Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC, speaking at the announcement of the partnership.

Today, our partnership with Google and the resultant launch of Free Zone powered by Google has made this vision a reality, and we are now able to empower Sri Lankan citizens with a supremely affordable route to discover the power of the internet in terms of information search, email and collaboration through social media” he added.

Free Zone can be accessed at zero data charges and empowers first time Internet users with several fundamental features of the Internet. Dialog subscribers can access the service by visiting and simply logging into Free Zone by using their respective username and password.

Any user can create a Gmail account instantly on the Free Zone homepage and enjoy a multitude of connectivity and social media services from Google’s expansive portfolio.

“Given that first time Internet user may be cautious with respect to data access charges, the open web is only as open as it is affordable. We’ve been working with Dialog to offer Internet services at no cost to anyone with a mobile phone.

This gives people easier access to information in a way that benefits everyone, whether it’s an individual or a small business that wants to reach more people on the web.

We also hope this convinces more Sri Lankans of the value of the mobile Web. Students can look up facts to help with homework. At home, you can quickly check a recipe. You could even look up lyrics to the song you want to sing along to,” said Julian Persaud, Managing Director at Google Southeast Asia.


Scanwell Logistics exports apparel from MRIA to US

Scanwell Logistics exported the largest air freight consignment of apparels weighing 5,000 KG’s uplifted to a leading buyer in New York, United States of America from Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport, Mattala.

This shipment was despatched on Air Arabia flight number G 9509 via Sharjah to the final destination, New York, on the inaugural cargo operations day from MRIA on March 22. Scanwell Logistics Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. initially incorporated in 1989 has expanded its overall operations to encompass all facets in the international logistics industry.

Scanwell in Colombo is part of an overall network of Scanwell Offices with its head quarters in Hongkong and having a network of 68 offices operating in USA, China, Far East and in Europe.

Presently Scanwell in Sri Lanka employs more than 350 dedicated logistics specialists serving in all aspects of the industry including air and ocean operations, customs brokerage, warehousing, distribution, transportation and container yard operations.

Scanwell trucks at the loading bay of MRIA
We have a totally committed team of professionals who are highly skilled to extend the highest levels of services to our customers at all times.

Scanwell has also set up its own offices in all major export processing zones and operates full time on a 24/7 basis.


Sri Lankan banking sector firm and resilient - Analysts

H.D.H Senewiratne
The Sri Lankan banking sector is quite steady and had made fabulous profits during the recent past despite the allegation by some that bank heads and major shareholders were selling their shares and moving out of the banking sector since it is going to collapse.

                                                                       Nimal Perera
However, all commercial banks both state and private made heavy profits during the last few years despite all odds, banking sources said.

Recently top investors U.K Sharma sold 10 percent of his shares in the National Trust Bank, a subsidiary of John Keells Holding, while Nimal Perera, Chairman, Pan Asia Bank sold 15 percent shares to a Japanese investment bank.

Banking sources said that these transactions by individuals were not done with the intention of departing the banking sector but to earn a higher return on their investment or for the best interests of their respective companies .

Further, Union Bank Chairman Alex Lovell who also contemplated selling his shares in the stock market had subsequently changed the decision due to manifold reasons, certain media reported. But, banking sources said these transactions occurred mainly for capital gains, as bank share prices was going up in the stock market. Pan Asia Bank Chairman Nimal Perera told Daily News Business that he had a commitment towards the company to sell 15 percent of his shares to pave the way for the leading Japanese investment bank “Bansai Securities” to enter Pan Asia.

“I sacrifice my shares for the best interest of our bank, because 15 percent shares were not available in the local market. This enticed me to sell them to Bansai Securities. Therefore, I will not get any profits since I am now trying to re-purchase them soon,” Perera said.

Perera held more than 500,000 shares in the Pan Asian Bank and would acquire them shortly despite the speculations that he was leaving the sector.

Head of Marketing and Sales, Lanka Securities Pvt Limited, Eardley Kern said that during the last few years almost all the banks in the country made profits and there is no reason for anybody to exit the local banking sector.

He said that as shareholders they buy and sell shares for capital gains. In Pan Asia's case Nimal Perera sold his shares for a particular reason but he still remains its chairman. The opinion of the majority of bankers was that Sri Lanka’s banking industry was on the right track, Rating agencies said.

Source :

Ceylinco Life leads with Rs 10.8 bn premium income in 2012

Record premium income of Rs 10.83 billion for the 12 months ending December 31, 2012 has enabled Ceylinco Life to end the year with a market share of 29 percent, a full nine percentage points ahead of the country’s second largest life insurer.

Significantly outperforming the industry, the company achieved growth of 10.1 percent in premium income and improved investment and other income by a solid 22.05 percent during the year to post total income of Rs 15.65 billion.

R. Renganathan

Gross Written Premium income grew by Rs 996 million over 2011, while investment and other income increased by Rs 872 million, the company said. Ceylinco Life sold 153,938 new life policies in this period at a monthly average of 12,828, achieving an overall improvement of 7.5 percent in new business.

The size of the company’s investment portfolio increased by Rs 3.8 billion to Rs 44.2 billion as at December 31, 2012, with investments pertaining to policyholders reaching Rs 41.7 billion, reflecting a growth of 8.9 percent.

Ceylinco Life made a net transfer of Rs 6.765 billion to its Life Fund for the 12 months, resulting in the Life Fund growing to Rs 45.11 billion at the end of the year.

Ceylinco Life Managing Director/CEO R. Renganathan said, “Our success did not come easy. Competition was intense, as it should be, and the challenges were numerous. Market conditions were not ideal, and the ever increasing impact of the rising cost of basic needs on disposable incomes continued to affect the industry. Yet, Ceylinco Life prospered and grew by focusing on fundamentals.”

He said prudent management of the company’s funds was also a key to operational success. At the end of the year reviewed, Ceylinco Life’s investment portfolio comprised of government securities (47 percent); licensed private banks (18 percent), state banks (16 percent), real estate (10 per cent), corporate debt (5 percent) and others (4 per cent).

Renganathan disclosed that Total Assets of Ceylinco Life grew by Rs 4.2 billion or 8.6 percent to Rs 52.89 billion at December 31, 2012.

A highlight of the year’s performance was the maintenance of Ceylinco Life’s solvency margin at an impeccable 10 times the legal requirement, providing shareholders and policyholders yet another indicator of its financial strength. A computation of the excess of assets over statutory liabilities, the Solvency Margin is an important indicator of an insurance company’s ability to meet the obligations arising from its insurance contracts at any time. The prevailing insurance regulations require all insurance companies to maintain a solvency margin not less than 5 per cent of their statutory liabilities at all times.

Ceylinco Life also paid net claims and benefits in excess of Rs. 3.9 billion to policyholders during the year, an increase of 1 billion or 35 percent over the previous year. This included maturity and other survival benefits, claims, and annual bonuses.

Independently rated one of Sri Lanka’s most valuable brands, Ceylinco Life has maintained its leadership of the country’s long term insurance sector from 2004 onwards. The company operates the largest branch network among local life insurance companies, and has won multiple international and local awards for its commitment to the community and success in brand equity building.


SL continues ICT progress ( Ranked 69 out of 114 countries:)

The Global Information Technology Report has placed Sri Lanka at the 69th position two positions up than last year.“Sri Lanka’s NRI ranking 69th out of 144 proves its great ICT strides,” said ICTA Agency of Sri Lanka, CEO Reshan Dewapura. He said that the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) 2013 reflects the great and multiple strides reached in the country’s ICT sector.

“The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) published for the 12th consecutive year corroborates that Sri Lanka continues to make huge progress in the ICT sector,” Dewapura said.

Sri Lanka has improved its ICT standing including the overall position by two places in the Global Networked Readiness Index (NRI) published in the ‘Global Information Technology Report (GITR)’ 2013. Last year this overall position stood at 71. This year it stands at 69.

The NRI assesses the comparative impact of ICT in the countries concerned (144 economies in 2013) under four sub-indices and 10 pillars coming under these sub-indices and several indicators under the pillars.

The sub-indices are environment, readiness, usage, and impact. The pillars are: political and regulatory environment, business and innovation environment, infrastructure and digital content, affordability, skills, individual usage, business usage, Government usage, economic impacts and social impacts.

The World Economic Forumÿ(WEF) is based in Cologny, Geneva.

INSEAD is a world-renowned graduate business school headquartered in New York with campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The NRI was originally developed by the Information Technology Group which worked at the Harvard University Centre for International Development until 2002

As indicated above this time 144 countries were surveyed in preparing the NRI 2013 and Sri Lanka fetched the 69th place improving from the 71st place it occupied last year. Sri Lanka’s NRI (2013) also makes it the second highest ranked among South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, trailing India by just one rank. However the absolute value or score for both Sri Lanka and India is the same. Sri Lanka and India are the only two SAARC countries ranked higher than the 100th mark. Out of other SAARC countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal stand respectively at 105, 114 and 126. South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines rank behind Sri Lanka as per the Networked Readiness Index 2013.

Sri Lanka has scored very high in the affordability measure (4th pillar) with mobile cellular tariffs ranking at 5th place based on purchasing power parity and second for fixed broadband.

At the core of the report, the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) measures the preparedness of an economy to use ICT to boost competitiveness and well-being. In this edition, Finland (1st), Singapore (2nd) and Sweden (3rd) continue to lead the NRI, with the Netherlands (4th), Norway (5th), Switzerland (6th), the United Kingdom (7th), Denmark (8th), the United States (9th) and Taiwan, China (10th) completing the top 10.

Musharraf in Pakistan court over Bhutto killing

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf appeared before an anti-terrorism court on Tuesday over the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, officials said.

Musharraf was driven to the court in Rawalpindi from his plush villa on the outskirts of Islamabad where he is serving a two-week arrest order for other charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.

Musharraf faces charges of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in 2007, one of three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.

On Monday, Pakistan's caretaker government refused to put Musharraf on a separate trial for treason, telling the Supreme Court that it was beyond its mandate.

Security at the court was tight with journalists barred from entering. Armed police and paramilitary rangers stood alert and blocked all approaches, an AFP reporter said.


Michael Jackson's ex-doctor files appeal

US: Michael Jackson's jailed former doctor filed an appeal Monday against his conviction for involuntary manslaughter over the US star's 2009 death.

Conrad Murray said prosecutors failed to prove the self-styled King of Pop was on a propofol drip the day he died from an overdose of the powerful sedative, which he was using to treat chronic insomnia. In a 231-page appeal filed by his lawyers in Los Angeles, he also alleged that the original trial judge excluded critical testimony used to convict him in November 2011.

"The jury was not allowed to learn that when Jackson died, he owed (concert promoter) AEG close to $40 million, there were more than 30 lawsuits pending against him and he owed millions of dollars" to US tax authorities, it said.


Nigeria clashes: 187 dead, 77 injured

NIGERIA: Heavy fighting between Nigerian troops and suspected Islamist insurgents has killed 187 people, including scores of civilians, while massive blazes left nearly half the town destroyed, the Red Cross said Monday.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a "full-scale" probe into the clashes, a statement from his office said. "Having received preliminary briefings from the military high command on the incident, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a full-scale investigation into reports of high civilian casualties in the confrontation between Nigerian soldiers and insurgents at Baga," it said.


Architect of India's new anti-rape law dies

Saturday, April 27, 2013

INDIA: The architect of India's tough new anti-rape law, former Chief Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma, has died only a month after the legislation was approved by parliament, officials said Tuesday.

The 80-year-old Verma died on Monday in a hospital just outside the capital New Delhi as a result of multiple organ failure, doctors said.

The judge was appointed as the chairman of a special panel last December with a brief to recommend changes to existing laws on sexual violence following the deadly gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi.

The main recommendations, including an increase of the minimum prison term from seven to 10 years and provisions for the death penalty in the most extreme cases, were included in a new law approved by parliament in March.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among those who paid tribute to Verma, describing him as a "man of vast understanding".


Boston bomb suspect blames brother

US: Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told investigators his brother was the leader in last week’s deadly attacks, and that no international terrorist groups were behind them, CNN reported.

The network cited an unnamed US government source as saying that “preliminary interviews with Tsarnaev indicate the two brothers fit the classification of self-radicalized jihadists.” “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, has said his brother (Tamerlan, 26) -- who was killed early Friday -- wanted to defend Islam from attack,” CNN quoted the source as saying.

But the surviving suspect indicated that international groups were not part of the brothers’ acts, the report said. The younger Tsarnaev, 19, could face the death penalty after being charged Monday for his alleged role in the attacks that left three people dead and 200 wounded.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev was arraigned in his hospital bed on charges of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, and malicious destruction of property by means of deadly explosives, the US Department of Justice said.


Canada nabs two in alleged Qaeda-backed train plot

CANADA: Two foreign nationals have been arrested in Canada in connection with what federal police said Monday was a plot backed by Al-Qaeda to derail a passenger train in the Toronto area.

“Today’s arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews warned.

Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, were allegedly planning to carry out an attack on a Via Rail passenger train, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) told a news conference. A bail hearing was set for Tuesday. Charges filed against the two include conspiring to carry out an attack and conspiring with a terrorist group to murder persons, though very few details about the plot were revealed.

Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia told reporters the suspects “were receiving support from Al-Qaeda elements located in Iran” but added: “There’s no indication that these attacks were state-sponsored.”

When asked to describe the kind of support offered, he replied: “Direction and guidance.” Malizia said the suspects are “not Canadian citizens” but declined to reveal their nationalities. One of the two men lived in Montreal for several years, he added, without saying which one.

The suspects’ plans were “not based on their ethnic origins but on an ideology,” police said.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan said the duo -- who had been under surveillance since last August -- planned “to derail a passenger train” in the Toronto area, though she would not specify which route.

“We are alleging these individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack. They watched trains and railways in the Greater Toronto area,” Strachan added.

However, police emphasized that an attack had not been imminent.

“While the RCMP believed that these individuals had the capacity and intent to carry out these criminal acts, there was no imminent threat to the general public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure,” said an RCMP statement.

The arrests come one week after the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded 200, and as Canada’s parliament debates a proposal to beef up anti-terror laws, including criminalizing the travel of Canadians abroad in order to participate in an attack.

It appeared there was no link between the Boston bombings and the alleged train plot.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved in the Canadian investigation, though the extent of the information-sharing was not immediately clear.


N. Korea demands recognition as nuclear state

SOUTH KOREA: North Korea renewed its demand Tuesday for recognition as a nuclear power, saying it was a pre-requisite for the start of any dialogue with the United States.

A commentary in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as “totally unacceptable” a US demand that North Korea commit to abandoning its nuclear weapons and missile programme before any talks can begin.

Any meeting at the negotiating table must be “between nuclear weapons states”, it said.

The United States has made it clear that it will never formally accept the North, which carried out its third nuclear test in February, as a nuclear power.

After a month of escalating military tensions on the Korean peninsula, Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang have begun skirting around the possibility of dialogue.

For the moment, however, most energy is being expended on rejecting each other's pre-conditions.

During a trip to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Pyongyang must first prove it was serious about reining in its nuclear programme.

North Korea responded by demanding the withdrawal of UN sanctions and an end to all future South Korea-US joint military exercises.


Samsung Galaxy Win, Galaxy Trend II and Galaxy Trend II Duos Leaked

Friday, April 5, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Win is Powered with Android 4.1 Jelly Beans and 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with Adreno 203 GPU. There is no any type of RAM and Internal Storage available in Samsung Galaxy Win. It also has 4.7 inch screen with WVGA  TFT Display. About the camera it has a 5 Megapixel Rear and 3 Megapixel front camera. Samsung Galaxy Win has a Dual Sim Smartphone. It also includes GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. It is available only in China so we can’t say anything about the World Release. Expected that These mobiles will have cheap prices.

When we Talk about Samsung Galaxy Trend II , This Smartphone is available in Two types with Single Sim and Double Sim. Display of Samsung Galaxy Trend II is 4 inch WVGA screen. This phone is loaded with 1.2GHz dual-core processor with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Camera of this phone is 3 Megapixel. There is no any information in regards to when these smartphones will start retailing and for what Price. More Details…

Technical Specifcations of Samsung Galaxy Win :

4.7-inch TFT capacitive touch screen with 800 x 480p display
1.2 GHz quad-core processor
5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Dual SIM (GSM + GSM) with dual standby
3G, Wi-Fi , Bluetooth v 3.0, GPS
2000 mAh battery

Rihanna Is OWNING Her Audrey Hepburn Moment (PHOTO)

We kind a feel like its a rite of passage for every girl to have their "Audrey Hepburn" moment. It's like, maybe you're rocking the fake pearl necklace and glasses and dressing up as Audrey for Halloween. Or, perhaps hosting a "dress like Audrey"-themed movie marathon at your apartment where "Breakfast At Tiffany's" is on repeat and you only eat dainty, rose-colored finger food? Or maybe, if you're Rihanna, you take a clearly topless selfie (we missed you, naked Rihanna, it's been a minute!!) in what we presume to be a five-star hotel while wearing the TOTALLY REAL version of Audrey's classic pearl necklace. We assume those giant pearls are real because honestly, on what planet is Rihanna rocking a fake anything?

Truth be told, we kinda already thought Rih had her "Audrey moment" when she posted this classic Old Hollywood selfie. Obviously, we were totally wrong, because Rihanna's current interpretation of Audrey is so dead-on that she could for SURE be the top Audrey impersonator on both the bat mitzvah and wedding circuit (that's if she wants a side gig). Oh, and one more thing: it's entirely possible that Rihanna's Audrey-themed selfie is dedicated to her maybe-on, maybe-off boyf, Chris Brown. Along with the above photo, Rihanna captioned: "I don't think about you at all #cccertified," which is half of a classic Coco Chanel quote.

Yeah, so we're thinking the "you" here is Chris Brown, and this photo is an undercover way of saying, "You don't want THIS? You're crazy." Or, it's entirely possible that the "you" in this case is Rih's credit card bill! Because Rih is so flush that she just swipes that Black American Express and doesn't think about it at all! You know what, that's definitely it. Because if we were Rihanna, we're not sure we'd wanna know what just ONE of those pearls cost.


Michael Jackson on artists who inspired him

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"James Brown, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Berry and Little Richard - I think they had strong influences on a lot of people, because these were the guys who really got rock'n'roll going. I like to start with the origin of things, because once it gets along it changes. It's so interesting to see how it really was in the beginning."- Michael Jackson on artists who inspired him

I was 5 years - Michael Jackson

“I was 5 years old. And it was at a public school recital. We had to wear white shirts and short knickers. And I remember them saying, "Little Michael Jackson is coming up to sing 'Climb Every Mountain.'" I got the biggest applause. When I went to my seat my grandfather and mother were crying. They said, ‘[We] can't believe how beautiful you sound.’That's the first one I remember.” – Michael Jackson

People fat by Chewing gum

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By Adrienne Gilbert

London: A new study has found chewing gum could make people fat since its minty taste makes sugary food more tempting. As per the sources, scientists found people given to chew gum eat more high calorie sweet foods. This is because the chemical responsible for the minty flavor of gum makes savory foods, especially fruit and vegetables, taste unpleasant.

The study’s co-author Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University said, “The chemical change is the same reason why when you brush your teeth and then drink orange juice, it tastes bad. “We were also interested in seeing whether this helps with weight loss.”

Swoboda and her colleague Jennifer Temple of the University of Buffalo, enrolled 44 volunteers for their study and asked each candidate to play a game in exchange for food.Some played for pieces of fruit, while others played for crisps and sweets.
Before participating in the experiment, half of the volunteers had chewed either fruit gum or mint gum. During an experiment, the volunteers were asked to keep a food diary. For a part of the time, the volunteers were asked to chew mint gum before meals, while for the rest of the time they were simply asked to note down their food intake.

The food diaries showed while chewing gum, people ate fewer meals but that they did not consume fewer calories as a result. Swoboda said the explanation could be that the menthol in mint interacts with nutrients in fruits and vegetables to create a bitter flavor and that this was making healthy food seem unappealing.

Diana posed as man in gay bar

Princess Diana was once taken inside a gay bar dressed as a man by Queen star Freddie Mercury. She later sent a note saying: “We must do it again!” Cleo Rocos, who went with the princess, said Diana looked like a male model, media reported.

Disguised Diana was delighted when she was served in the bar without being recognized. She was wearing a camouflage army jacket, black leather cap and aviator sunglasses. The princess had a wine and a beer.

“When we walked in, we felt she would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared. She loved it,” TV star Rocos said. Diana was a fan of gay funnyman Kenny Everett.

Keen to escape her stuffy royal life, she earlier met him and Rocos for lunch in London’s Kensington. They had peach and champagne cocktails and went to Kenny’s penthouse. Everett called over Queen Singer and neighbour Freddie Mercury and the four spent the afternoon downing more champagne in front of TV reruns of a US comedy.

They improvised the characters’ voices, “but with a much naughtier storyline”. Diana asked about their plans for the evening and Kenny said the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in South London was not for her.

“It’s full of hairy gay men. Sometimes there are fights outside’. “We pleaded, ‘what would be the headline if you were caught in a gay bar brawl?’ But Diana was in full mischief mode. Freddie said, ‘Go on, let the girl have some fun’,” Rocos said.

“She did look like a beautiful young man. She was always a very fit girl, so they might have thought, ‘There’s a nice young man with pert buttocks’,” Rocos says in her new book “The Power of Positive Drinking”.

They got to the bar and left 20 minutes later. Next day, Diana sent a note saying: “We must do it again!” The night-out reportedly took place in 1988, when her marriage to Prince Charles was already on the rocks. Diana died aged 36 in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

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Massaging Apps, threat for youth flock to Mobile Phone in Facebook

Create personal profiles. Build networks of friends. Share photos, videos and music.

That might sound precisely like Facebook, but hundreds of millions of tech-savvy young people have instead turned to a wave of smartphone-based messaging apps that are now sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe.

The hot apps include Kik and Whatsapp, both products of North American startups, as well as Kakao Inc’s KakaoTalk, NHN Corp’s
LINE and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s

WeChat, which have blossomed in Asian markets.

Combining elements of text messaging and social networking, the apps provide a quick-fire way for smartphone users to trade everything from brief texts to flirtatious pictures to YouTube clips – bypassing both the SMS plans offered by wireless carriers and established social networks originally designed as websites.

Facebook Inc, with 1 billion users, remains by far the world’s most popular website, and its stepped-up focus on mobile has made it the most-used smartphone app as well. Still, across Silicon Valley, investors and industry insiders say there is a possibility that the messaging apps could threaten Facebook’s dominance over the next few years. The larger ones are even starting to emerge as full-blown “platforms” that can support third-party applications such as games.

To be sure, many of those who are using the new messaging apps remain on Facebook, indicating there is little immediate sign of the giant social media company losing its lock on the market. And at a press event this week, the company will unveil news relating to Android, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, which could include a new version of Android with deeper integration of Facebook messaging tools – or possibly even a Facebook-branded phone.

But the firms that can take over the messaging world should be able to make some big inroads, investors say.

“True interactions are conversational in nature,” says Rich Miner, a partner at Google Ventures who invested in San Francisco-based MessageMe, a new entrant in the messaging market. “More people text and make phone calls than get on to social networks. If one company dominates the replacement of that traffic, then by definition that’s very big.”

Facebook spokespeople declined to comment for this article, citing this Thursday’s planned announcement.

Facebook’s big challenge is reeling back users like Jacob Robinson, a 15-year old high school student in Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.K., who said the Kik messaging app “blew up” among his friends about six months ago. It has remained the most-used app on his Android phone because it is the easiest way for him to send different kinds of multimedia for free, which he estimated he does about 200 times a day.

Robinson said he trades snapshots of his homework with friends while they stay up late studying for their exams – or not.

“We also stay up in bed with our phone all night, just on YouTube searching for funny videos, then you quickly share it with your friends,” he added. “It’s easy. You can flip in and out of Kik.”

Facebook “has really started to lose its edge over here,” said Robinson, who found his interactions on Facebook less interesting than his real-time chats.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Kik has racked up 40 million users since launching in 2010. Silicon Valley entrants in the race include Whatsapp, funded by Sequoia Capital, and MessageMe, launched earlier this month by a group of viral game makers. MessageMe has received seed-stage funding from True Ventures and First Round Capital, among others, and claimed 1 million downloads in its first week.

Meanwhile, Asian companies are producing some of the fastest-growing apps in history. Tencent’s WeChat boasts 400 million users – far more than Twitter, by way of comparison – while LINE and KakaoTalk claim 120 million and 80 million users, respectively. Both have laid the groundwork to expand into the U.S. market.


The growth in the messaging apps reflect the dramatic shift in Internet usage in recent years, as Web visits via desktop computers have stagnated while smartphone ownership and app downloads have skyrocketed.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has publicly called Facebook a “mobile company” to emphasize the company’s priorities. Last year, he splashed $1 billion for photo-sharing app Instagram, which has remained red hot, while Facebook also launched its own Messenger app, offering a suite of smartphone communication tools.

Still, Facebook has also been forced to play defense. Earlier this year, the company cut off its data integration with a young startup called Snapchat and then mimicked its feature with a new messaging tool called Poke, which sends messages that self-destruct. It has also shut off its integration with messaging apps like MessageMe and Voxer.

At the same time, Facebook has also hired graphic artists to draw emoticons and graphics for Messenger that emulate features of the wildly popular Asian apps like LINE, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Dave Morin, an early Facebook employee who left to found the “private” social network Path in 2010, said he recognized last summer the critical role of messaging functions in smartphone apps, and quickly began working to incorporate them.

Since Path released a new version of its app earlier this month, the number of Path’s daily users has risen 15 percent, which Morin attributed to the new messaging features.

“What’s the number one reason why people have this thing?” said Morin, holding up his iPhone. “It’s to call, to text, to communicate.”

Messaging, Morin added, is “the basis for the mobile social network.”

about its platform plans, the company has been rumored to be in talks with Asian game publishers about hosting games, according to news reports in South Korea.

Goetz declined to address the reports, saying only that because it relied on a subscription business model, Whatsapp did not need to sell games or ads to make money.

Still, he said, the Whatsapp team “spends a lot of time thinking about the developer community.”

Platform threat

While established social networks move to incorporate messaging features, the new-wave messaging apps are looking to grow into social networking platforms that support a variety of features and enable
innovations from outside developers.

“The tried and true approach for a social network is first you build a network, then you build apps on your own, then you open it up to third party developers,” said Charles Hudson, a partner at early stage
venture capital firm SoftTech VC.

The moves mirror Facebook’s younger days, when its user growth and revenues were boosted by game publishers like Zynga Inc, which made popular games like FarmVille for the Facebook platform.

In the South Korean market, for instance, eight of the top ten
highest grossing Android apps are games built on top of KakaoTalk.
Tencent announced in November that it would introduce a mobile wallet
feature enabling payment for goods with WeChat. And Tencent also makes
money in China by using the app’s location data to displaying nearby
merchants’ deals to potential customers.

If the messaging apps reach a certain scale, they could form networks that rival Facebook’s “social graph,” the network of user connections and activities that enable highly targeted delivery of content and advertising.

“The folks on your address book are very different from your Facebook friends and your LinkedIn contacts, and that’s a natural place for a very powerful graph to be created,” said Jim Goetz, a partner at Sequoia Capital.   
Ted Livingston, the 25-year old chief executive of Kik, said he developed the capability for his service to support external features in November, and he plans to open the platform to outside developers in
the near future.

Livingston said Kik and Whatsapp were “in a race to see who’s the first to build a platform.”

Whatsapp, which has been the most widely downloaded communication app for both iOS and Android in recent months, according to analysis firm App Annie, has been profitable by selling subscriptions to its service for $1 a year. Although it has remained mum about its platform plans, the company has been rumored to be in talks with Asian game publishers about hosting games, according to news reports in South Korea.

Goetz declined to address the reports, saying only that because it relied on a subscription business model, Whatsapp did not need to sell games or ads to make money.

Still, he said, the Whatsapp team “spends a lot of time thinking about the developer community.”

Deal potential

Established social networking giants could also swoop in for the upstarts – and Facebook has demonstrated its appetite for acquisitions.

Indeed, investors are eyeing a round of potentially lucrative buyouts resembling the series of deals involving group messaging applications in 2011.

Facebook acquired group messaging app Beluga in March of that year, enlisting its founders to help build its own stand alone app, Messenger, which launched six months later.

In late 2010, First Round Capital, an early stage venture capital firm, invested in GroupMe, a group messaging startup that was sold to Skype just fifteen months after it launched.

Kent Goldman, a First Round partner who has backed MessageMe, said it was unlikely that the market in the long term could support numerous independent messaging startups, which by their nature become
more powerful as they grow larger.

“You don’t want to be the smallest one when the music stops,” he said.

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