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Thursday, March 31, 2016

who will replace Yuvraj ~ Semi finals : West Indies play two

You see lot of power punch in that !


There are two semi final matches today featuring West Indies.  West Indies have been the eternal bridesmaids at the Women's World T20. Having failed to get past the semi-final stage in three previous attempts, they have a fourth chance at redemption when they take on Suzie Bates' New Zealand, who are in rip-roaring form, having won all their group games with a touch of disdain.

In the 1st Semis, England lost by 5 runs.  Mark Robinson, the head coach of the England women's team, blamed their five-run defeat against Australia in the World T20 semi-final on the squad's poor standards of fitness, and challenged his players to improve their running between the wickets in particular, after falling short in yet another major global tournament. Speaking alongside England's beaten captain, Charlotte Edwards, at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Robinson said that the defeat was still too raw to contemplate its full implications. However, he exonerated Edwards herself from any criticism, saying that he needed "a few more warriors like the captain" to take the team to the next level.

Black caps were on a roll, just as they did in the ODI WC losing to Aussies in the finals.  Yesterday they were cruising at 107/2 in 13.1 – but eventually made only 153 !  Colin Munro was destructive with 46 from 32 balls, but Plunkett out-thought him with a deliberate line wide of off stump and Munro perished via a top edge to third man.    New Zealand managed only 20 runs from the last four overs - England's best-ever effort during that segment of a T20 innings - as Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes again put on the squeeze at the death.  When England batted,
Jason Roy electrified England's reply to far-from-imposing 153 for 8, his 78 from 44 balls ended by Ish Sodhi's dragged-down legbreak that beat his advance down the pitch and crashed into the timber. "I've got to realise I'm not a robot," Roy said earlier in the tournament.

All Indians are waiting for today’s match.  Fifty-two runs at an average of 13.00. Three overs, 19 runs, one wicket. One twisted ankle. At 34, these might well be the last set of numbers generated by Yuvraj Singh at an ICC event. A modest set of numbers for a limited-overs great, but they do not reveal the importance of some of his contributions.  India have played the same eleven right through the World T20, and Yuvraj's injury will force them into changing their combination for the first time. They have three possible replacements, none of them exactly like-for-like. Ajinkya Rahane, Pawan Negi and Manish Pandey.   

Remember India’s fortunes turned at SCG with a grand  win – the hero was Manish Pandey who shot into limelight with a century in IPL.  His century in third innings is the least by any Indian batsman.  Surprisingly, the earlier record holder is not Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly but Kedar Jadhav, who got his first century in his fourth innings, against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2015.

At SCG – the  first ball Virat Kohli faced in a tight and ultimately successful chase at SCG should have gone for four runs. Instead, the ball was called dead because it hit the spidercam on its way to the boundary.  Before that match, people were craving for Dhoni’s head  - some wrote : We don't know when Dhoni's next ODI will be, or if there will be one (can't bank on a farewell tour for Dhoni).

At SCG -  he was extremely pleased that two youngsters helped India cross the line they have been finding so difficult to chase. Manish Pandey, in his fourth ODI, and Jasprit Bumrah, on debut, finally provided the support Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli so badly needed.  Pandey remained cool. Not to mention the 10 or so runs he saved in the field.

On 23rd Jan 2016, chasing a tall 331 – Pandey’s 81 ball 104 not out ensured an Indian win.  My pick is on him replacing Yuvraj and coming higher in the order too…. what do you say ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

31st Mar 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Semi Finals line-up in T20 WC 2016 - Sune Luus who ?

That is no campaigning in election …

NZ play England today … they have used spinners extensively.  20 Wickets for New Zealand's spinners, the most by any team in the Super 10 stage of this tournament. Afghanistan are next with 15, followed by India on 12. Mitchell Santner has taken 9 for 86 in 15 overs, Ish Sodhi 8 for 78 in 15.4 and Nathan McCullum 3 for 21 in five. Santner's haul of nine is the joint highest in the Super 10 stage. England's spinners have taken only eight wickets collectively in 24 overs.

India will play WI in the other Semis tomorrow.

Meantime, the great finisher MS Dhoni reached 1000 runs in T20Is during India's nail-biting victory over Bangladesh in Bangalore last week. It was his 66th  T20I, and he was the 31st  batsman to reach 1000 - the fifth from India after Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh.  Dhoni is the first to get there without the aid of a half-century: his highest score is 48 not out, against Australia in Sydney in February 2012.

Some may not even be aware that T20WC for women is also happening alongside. Today in 1st Semis Aussie Women play England while NZ will play WI tomorrow.

On Mar 23 night at Chepauk, Sune Luus (the women in photo)  took 5 for 8 against Ireland.  The South African legspinner Sune Luus finished with the fine figures of 4-0-8-5 .. anyway SA is not there too  in the Semis line-up !

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Mar 2016

Photo and news source : cricinfo.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

terror attack on Pathankot ~ the JIT of Pakistan ..

Any idea of what these respected army jawans are guarding ? [photo credit : The Hindu]

Nurpur was one of the Princely states of India during the period of the British Raj. It covered an area of 180 square kilometres (69 sq mi) and is now part of Himachal Pradesh state. The state of Nurpur was founded towards the end of the 11th century by Raja Jhet Pal, who was the younger brother of the ruler of Delhi. It was ruled by Rajputs of the Tanwar or Pathania dynasty. Earlier Nurpur was known with the name of Dhameri. Pathankot  from 2011  is  the capital of Pathankot district (carved out of Gurdaspur district) in Punjab.  The name Pathankot comes from Pathania Rajput, who was the king of Nurpur.

New  year 2016 started differently for India.  On 2 January 2016, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. Four attackers and two security forces personnel were killed in the initial battle, with an additional security force member dying from injuries hours later. The gun battle and the subsequent combing operation lasted about 17 hours on 2 January, resulting in five attacks and three security personnel dead.  The attackers, who were wearing Indian Army fatigues, were suspected to belong to Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamist militant group designated a terrorist organisation by India, the US, the UK and the UN.  Further three soldiers died after being admitted to hospital with injuries, raising the death toll to six soldiers. The hijacking of a car of a superintendent of the Punjab Police the previous day was reportedly linked to the attack; the carjackers did not recognise it as a police car since its lights were turned off !

Much water has flown since… a  five-member Pakistani joint investigation team (JIT) is in India probing into Pathankot, as  India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) has decided to confront Islamabad with evidence of Maulana Masood Azhar's Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) being responsible for the January terror attack. It is stated that India has decided to ask for the voice samples of Azhar and other JeM leaders, against whom it claims to have direct evidence linking them to the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January.

Besides, India is also asking the Pakistani team why all the arms and ammunitions recovered from Pathankot siege had a Pakistan stamp on it. "Clothing, medicines, shoes, food packets, thermal wear and even wire cutters were brought from Pakistan," the NIA source said. India has also asked Pakistan to start responding to the Letter Rogatories sent by New Delhi if they "really want to cooperate" with the Pathankot investigation as the two countries began formal discussions, making it the first-ever visit of a JIT from the neighbouring country that includes an ISI official. The five-member Pakistani JIT is headed by Chief of Punjab's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai and comprises Lahore's Deputy Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence official Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer, Shahid Tanveer.

For an ordinary citizen, the real strategic significance of allowing them is not understood much. 

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of Pakistan probing the Pathankot attack will not be allowed to go anywhere near the airbase.  “We have specially denied them (Pakistan’s JIT) permission to go anywhere in the air base. NIA is investigating. They (JIT) are only allowed access to the place where crime took place. The area is cordoned off,” said Parrikar. He further added that MOD has issued directions that crime scene should be barricaded and to ensure that external entry to the NIA be given. “MOD doesn’t want to be in the receiving end for non-cooperation with the investigators or as the cause for the failure of the probe” he said. Indian Express further states quoting sources that cooperation with the Pakistani team would be based on the principle of reciprocity hoping that an Indian team would be allowed to travel to Pakistan at a later date.
Homage to slain soldiers – sand artist Laxmi – Hindustan Times photo

Now read this report in today’s The Hindu.  It is  80 days now, but constable Dalbir Singh cannot afford to lower his guard even for a minute. His job, along with 11 of his colleagues, is to protect a morgue in the only government hospital in Pathankot. Also referred to as the “Dead House” by local policemen, the morgue can be tracked from a distance because of the unbearable stench emanating from it. It has been provided security since the bodies of the four terrorists killed at the Pathankot airbase on January 2 were brought here.

With only two freezers available, two bodies are sharing space in each compartment. On Monday, a day before Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team is to visit the airbase, officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) collected the post-mortem reports and briefed the doctors, in case the JIT examines them. All the four have been identified by the NIA. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has written to the Pathankot Civil Hospital not to dispose of the bodies of the four terrorists killed at the Pathankot airbase on January 2 till it issues an order.
Head constable Vinod Kumar is on alert whenever anybody approaches the morgue. “We have clear instructions not to allow anyone near the room. If terrorists could come till the airbase, then this place cannot be beyond their reach. Our senior officers conduct daily rounds to check on the bodies and a van from the police control room is also stationed near the boundary wall every night,” Mr. Kumar said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Mar 2016.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

India beats Australia at Mohali - into Semis ...Virat Kohli class shows !

The clock just struck 11 pm – not many would have heard that – for it was crackers, shouts and more – every Indian fan feeling happy …. India has won – India has beaten Australia in the group match, a virtual QF and reached Semis – would play West Indies, while New Zealand would play England.

At Mohali, Steven Smith won the toss and chose to bat.  Both captains named unchanged teams, Australia resisting the temptation to tweak their side after beating Pakistan, and India now going through the group stage with the same XI in each match. Smith said the pitch looked good for batting but might slow up later in the game, and MS Dhoni said he too would have batted had he won the toss. Both teams had beaten Bangladesh and Pakistan, and lost to New Zealand, which made the clash a straight knockout contest.

Aussies just raced in the first few overs.  After 4 overs, the last of which of Ashwin yielding 22, Australians were 53/0 – a run rate of 13.25.  Finch 21 (9b) and Khawaja 26 (off 15) were looking ominous.  Chasing 161, it was not a good start, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina all failed.  Yuvraj was struggling with injury, not middling the ball and runs were not exactly coming.

The Indian fan felt distraught with India needing 39 off mere 18 .. the only hope was Virat Kohli, standing like a rock, stroking like a champion.

The 18th over bowled by James Faulkner proved decisive.  Delivery no. 1 – short, pulled for a 4, great timing.   17.2 – a great square drive this time for 4; third, Kohli stepped out lofted through the line for a beauty hit 6.  4th they ran 2; 5th was a leg-bye and 6th milked another 2. 

Those 19 runs tilted the balance – yet some major work remained. 20 off 12 is no easy.  Dhoni seen with a trouble – Andrew Leipus who had earlier run into the field for attending to Yuvraj was at the centre again. 

Coulter-Nile bowed a dot ball; 2nd beautifully square driven for 4;  3rd was poor – on the leg – a gifted 4; 4th Kohli toyed, stepped out lofted over extra cover.  Last ball another 4 and now every one know, who the winner and how the Master has crafted that great win, which will be talked for long. 

16 off that and only 4 needed, which Dhoni finished inn style over wide long on – only a 4 off Faulkner and not a 6. 

The hero undoubtedly is Virat Kohli 82 off 51 – 9 fours and 2 sixers – strike rate of 160.78 – what an innings ! – in the end it was that glorious display of Kohli and the great running between the wickets between him and Dhoni.   Ashish Nehra bowled really well, returning figures of 4-0-20-1.

Happy Indian fan  – S. Sampathkumar

27th Mar 2016 @ 11.05 pm.

the man who fought terrorists - in charge of security of Indian Cricket team

27th Mar – a tense day (night) for Indian cricket fans ~ will India win ? and reach the Semis ??  - as India plays an unchanged side with some of its stars regularly failing..

A few years ago, Indian Express carried an article on this NSG commando - Brigadier (retd) Govind Singh Sisodia, a former DIG — who lead the commando operation and was flown to Mumbai along with his jawans from New Delhi — catching Ajmal Kasab was the biggest achievement of the operation. "If he was killed like the rest of the nine terrorists and not caught alive, India would not have been able to pin down Pakistan the way it did after so many innocent people died in Mumbai that day. Kasab's execution brings a closure to just one chapter of the Pakistan-perpetuated terrorism against India," said Sisodia hailing from Chopal area of Shimla.
Photo credit : hillpost.in
Sisodia, who also interrogated Kasab, recalled that he was "quite a sharp person". "He was very forthcoming on whatever I asked him, like how and why he came to Mumbai. I sat with him on the floor in the interrogation room and spoke in Punjabi. He replied with clarity," he added.  The task of flushing out terrorists from Hotel Taj and Nariman Point was not easy, he recalled while remembering NGO commandos Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Gajender Singh who died in action. "The sacrifice by these two commandos made a breakthrough in the operation. The terrorists were cornered and shot dead," said Sisodia.

Himachal had its own heroes. Brigadier Govind Singh Sisodia, posted on deputation as DIG Training in National Security Guards (NSG), Delhi, and Major Amit Bhardwaj were the part of core teams that lead the operation against the terror siege in Mumbai and successfully completed the operation. While Brig. Sisodia hailed from Chopal in Shimla district, Major Bhardwaj, son of retired Colonel M.R. Bhardwaj is from Hiranagar in Hamirpur.  Brig. Sisodia  was injured by a bullet hitting his arm during peace-keeping assignment in Sri Lanka in  1987; he has  lead various operations against the militants in the Kashmir valley.  Brig. Sisodia is the youngest of four brothers of the family and belongs to Bharano village in Chopal district of Shimla. His elder brother K.S. Sisodia retired as a DIG from police and the second one, I.S. Sisodia, retired as Colonel from the Indian Army. His father Sher Singh Sisodia was a retired revenue services officer. 

~ and he is out there in the middle (not exactly in the forefront but in the back) – the man who saved a hundred lives during the Mumbai terror attacks has been  the security in-charge of the Indian team, since the Australian tour early this year.  Daily Mail report puts that Sisodia’s work starts even before the Indian team arrives at a particular destination. He runs a security check of the hotel the team stays in, and the security facilities on offer there. After that, he meets the local police authorities along with the hotel security team and checks the entire security plan as well as noting the entry and exit plans of the hotel. After this, he looks at the route that will be used by the team to travel to the ground. He also works closely with the security officials inside the stadium. And once he is at the ground, security assigned for the team works under his instructions as he monitors every individual in and around the area of play and the dressing rooms.

One would imagine that his job is easier on days when the team decides to stay indoors and doesn’t train. But he is never free. After all, he also needs to keep a close eye on fans.  A member of the Indian team management feels that Sisodia’s greatest strength is his calm demeanour. India's cricketers are said to love asking Sisodia for stories about his past work in counter-terror.

In today’s first match thought to be of little significance, Afghanistan bid T20WC goodbye by beating table-toppers West Indies by six runs in a low-scoring thriller. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khanbacked up their captain's confidence with figures of 2 for 26 each and kept West Indies to 117 in their chase of 124. West Indies finished as the No. 1 team in Group 1 and will take on either India or Australia in the semi-final, but they will go to Mumbai with a sobering defeat.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Mar 2016.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Is demolition tougher than construction ~ tornado and wrong demolition

Standard Fire & Special Perils  Policy specifies the ‘insured perils’ ….. “STFI” is a named peril… it actually is a group of wind and water perils …. “Storm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Hurricane, Tornado, Flood and Inundation”. As could be deciphered, only such damages caused by the action wind, the speed of which could be classified as ‘storm, cyclone, typhoon, tempest, hurricane, tornado’ is indemnifiable.

Everyone makes some mistakes at work sometimes. Many a times, someone else would alert /stop before something wrong occurs !  ~it also depends on the activity.  As they say, it is difficult to construct / make something – easier to destroy / demolish !! – and one generally does not make mistakes destroying something. 
photo credit : National Geographic

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cloud.  They are often referred to as twisters or cyclones, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology, in a wider sense, to name any closed low pressure circulation. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, but they are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris and dust.   The vast majority of tornadoes occur in the Tornado Alley region of the United States, although they can occur nearly anywhere in North America and elsewhere.

In end Dec 2015, 8 people reportedly died in the Dallas area after tornadoes and severe storms tore through, according to police.  Collin County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to  news agencies  that people had died in Collin County  as a result of Saturday night’s extreme weather system. Cops also said that there were numerous injuries and that there were numerous buildings destroyed…. –in such situation Insurers are inundated with claims to property.

It was a small  one story brick house that had been severely damaged on 26 December, 2015, when violent tornados swept through north Texas.  On Tuesday, a crew from Billy L. Nabors Demolition travelled to 7601 Cousteau Drive in Rowlett, Texas, and tore down a duplex that had been damaged by a tornado.  In India, most often we see it is construction [and destruction] is more of manual activity.  Over there it was technology aided – not only the tools of destruction but also the aide for reaching.  .. they used the ‘Google maps’, which many drivers  here too especially on the highway.
Sadly, “Google Maps did indeed show incorrect information for the house to be demolished.  A wrong house was identified and demolished wrongly.  Compounding the initial foul-up, it seems Nabors Demolition went  out of its way to commit every public relations sin in the book. The company’s CEO told ABC affiliate WFAA the mistake was “not a big deal.” The Verge reports that the company told the mistakenly destroyed home’s owner, Lindsay Diaz, to get ready for “’a nasty fight‘” for damages.

It was the day after Christmas last year, tornadoes tore through Rowlett, Texas, a quiet suburb of Dallas. The aftermath was the image of destruction: splintered wood, metal and brick - once the foundation of homes - covered the streets. Nearly 450 buildings were damaged or destroyed; hundreds lost their homes; one person was killed. 

At the time, Lindsay Diaz and Alan Cutter considered themselves lucky. The duplex they owned needed repairs, but it was structurally sound. In the meantime, Diaz and her family were living in a rented home. This Tuesday, Diaz received a frantic call from Cutter's wife, ABC affiliate WFAA reported. Their duplex was gone, she said.

Gone?..  Disbelieving, Diaz hurried to her house. .. "I pull up, and - sure enough - it's gone," she told WFAA. "There's nothing left."

Earlier that day, a demolition crew had arrived to tear the house down, KTVT reported. But it was all a mistake: Their intended target was another duplex one block over, a house bearing the same number on a different street. Diaz and Cutter's duplex occupied 7601 and 7603 Calypso Drive. The house that was supposed to be demolished was left standing, at 7601 Cousteau Drive.

Diaz said when she tried talking to the president of the demolition company, Billy L. Nabors Demolition, he was unsympathetic. "I didn't believe he was telling me this," she told KTVT. "I was hoping for an apology - 'I'm sorry my company did this, we'll make it better,' and instead he's telling me how the insurance is going to handle it, and telling me that it's going to be a nasty fight."

 Rowlett City Manager however disagreed. "I think this is a huge deal," Funderburk told WFAA.  "The homeowners were in the process of trying to figure out what it was going to take to repair their home and now they're looking at rebuilding it instead. I think this is a very big deal." Diaz is currently waiting to hear back from Nabors's insurance carrier about making a claim.  "That's what their job is - to wreck it in demo, and they really wrecked my life," she told WFAA. "I feel farther away from moving into a home today than I did after the tornado hit."

The company's slogan, according to its website, is "We could wreck the world."

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Mar 2016.

News inputs taken from NZ Herald.

Friday, March 25, 2016

British border guards banned from X-raying lorries - can cause radiation harms to migrants !!!

Cargo gets transported by various modes -  one among the most popular ways is ‘containers’ –   and how would authorities check what is inside that big metal box ?

X-radiation (X-rays) is a form of electromagnetic radiation. In many languages, X-radiation is referred to with terms meaning Röntgen radiation, after Wilhelm Röntgen. The heart of an X-ray machine is an electrode pair -- a cathode and an anode -- that sits inside a glass vacuum tube. Cargo scanning or non-intrusive inspection (NII) refers to non-destructive methods of inspecting and identifying goods in transportation systems. It is often used for scanning of intermodal freight shipping containers.

Away in UK, at least 24 of the migrants who made it to Britain hiding in the back of two lorries have already been given their freedom. All 51 stowaways had claimed asylum and the remaining 27 men, women and children who were discovered sneaking into the country were expected to have been let out shortly after they were held.  One of the trucks arrived in the UK on Wednesday, hours after Home Secretary Theresa May announced toughened border security following the Brussels suicide bombings in which 31 were killed and 270 wounded.

Photographs of stowaways crammed like sardines in the back of one lorry were published in many British dailies. It was a damning illustration of how Britain has lost control of its borders – and fuelled fears about the rigour of security checks during the current terror alert. All 51 migrants are understood to have claimed they were fleeing war, persecution and humanitarian disaster in Iran, Iraq and Syria.

A day later, most had been processed at the Kent Intake Unit, where they were offered food, drink and medical attention, and underwent security screening. After this was completed, they were officially classed as asylum seekers – then released from the centre to specialist accommodation or to live with family with instructions only to report in intermittently. The whole process took no more than 96 hours.

More curious is the news that British border guards have been banned from X-raying lorries while searching for illegal immigrants at French ports in case the radiation harms the stowaways' health.  MailOnline quotes Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union as stating  that her members are only permitted to use the scanners at ports in France when searching for smuggled or illegal goods. The revelation comes as it emerged that at least 24 of the migrants who made it to Britain hiding in the back of two lorries earlier this week have already been given their freedom.

Mrs Moreton told The Times: ‘The French will not allow us to use them for looking for illegals. They only allow us to use scanners to search for contraband, not people.’ Speaking to the newspaper’s reporters, she added that the machines are 'very, very slow to operate, taking about an hour per each vehicle'. She also suggested that increased borders checks in the wake of the Brussels attacks are likely to only last for two weeks because the ‘stepped up’ level cannot be maintained.

Asked if there was the political will, she replied: ‘Experience from past would suggest that it isn't. The increased checks at the border last about two weeks, or that's how long they lasted after the Paris attacks.’ Meanwhile, an independent report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found plans to remove foreign criminals and illegal immigrants were cancelled in 40 per cent of cases.

That truck carrying stowaways arrived in UK on Wednesday, hours after Home Secretary Theresa May announced toughened border security following the Brussels suicide bombings in which 31 were killed and 270 wounded.

Another time, another case of rules improperly interpreted.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Mar 2016.

Can Govt get data from Apple phone ~ when it that of a mass killer .. terrorist !!

Sivaji the Boss – the Rajnikanth starrer ran packed houses in 2007.    Produced by  AVM Productions, Shriya Saran was the heroine, Suman, the villain played roles.  It was a Shankar film on corruption and money laundering … A software systems architect, Sivaji, returns home to India with dreams of doing good for the society. However his plans face a roadblock in the form of the influential businessman, Adiseshan. When corruption also arises, Sivaji is left with no option but to fight the system in his own way.  Following Sivaji's "death", Adiseshan and the CBI still try to open Sivaji's laptop by trying to fool the voice-detection program, they use couple of mimicry artistes too ; this fails and all the data in the laptop is erased.

Dan Brown’s ‘Digital Fortress’ published in 1988  was a real techno-thriller…… one of the main characters was - Ensei Tankado —a disgruntled former NSA employee.  The story was about the theme of government surveillance of electronically stored information on the private lives of citizens, and the possible civil liberties and ethical implications using such technology.  When the United States National Security Agency's code-breaking supercomputer (TRANSLTR) encounters a new and complex code—Digital Fortress—that it cannot break, Susan Fletcher, the head cryptographer discovers that it was written by Ensei Tankado, an employee displeased with the NSA's intrusion into people's private lives.

A federal magistrate Judge postponed a highly anticipated Tuesday hearing over the Justice Department’s request for Apple Inc. to help unlock a terrorist’s iPhone, after the government said it may have found another way to view the phone’s contents. In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., the government said an “outside party” on Sunday demonstrated to the Federal Bureau of Investigation a possible method for unlocking the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who, along with his wife, killed 14 people in a December attack in San Bernardino, Calif. The government said it must test the method, but that if it is successful, “it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple” in unlocking Mr. Farook’s phone.

The sudden move, less than 24 hours before the scheduled hearing, is the latest twist in the high-stakes legal battle between the Justice Department and the world’s most valuable company in a closely watched case over the balance between privacy and national security in the digital age.

As recently as March 10, the Justice Department said in a court filing that “without Apple’s assistance, the government cannot carry out the search of Farook’s iPhone.” But many information-security experts had been skeptical of that claim, suggesting several ways investigators could extract data from the phone without Apple’s help.

Only hours earlier, at an event to introduce a new iPhone, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple had a responsibility to protect its customers’ data and privacy and restated why it was important for the company to take a principled stance on refusing the government’s order. “We will not shrink from this responsibility,” said Mr. Cook. “We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy.” Even if Apple’s assistance in this case is deemed unnecessary, it seems likely that the Justice Department and Apple may clash again in the future. Smartphones are storing valuable information for everybody including criminals, making it an important avenue for investigations while also making it critical for Apple that it keeps hackers out.

The San Bernardino case appeared tailor-made for the government’s case, since it involved a phone used by a deceased terrorist and mass killer, rather than a run-of-the mill criminal as is more typical in such encryption fights. The Justice Department had spent weeks making the case for Apple’s cooperation as a matter of principle. 

        The government had requested that Apple disable security features that impose delays between successive attempts to enter a phone’s password, and erase the phone’s data after 10 unsuccessful attempts. Investigators would then enter every possible password to gain access to the phone.

Apple has said it is technically capable of doing this, but that would entail creating a new operating system that would ultimately make hundreds of millions of iPhones less secure. It is contended by them that Judge Pym’s order would set a dangerous precedent by forcing a company to write software meant to weaken the security of its product. The government has said the case is about a single phone used by a terrorist that might contain information about other plots.  

To an ordinary reader, there is no doubt and seems  crystal clear that the Govt. is right this time and the Company not !!

Further reports suggest that Israeli company Cellebrite has been appointed by the FBI to find an alternative way to unlockthe iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino shootings, according to Israeli newspaper the Yedioth Ahronoth and Reuters. Cellebrite has been developing forensics solutions for law enforcement and intelligence.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Mar 2016.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Zealand referendum rejects change of their old flag !!

A flag is not merely  a piece of fabric  - it is not a mere decoration either.  It is the potent patriotic symbol with varied wide-ranging interpretations, often including strong military associations due to their original and ongoing military uses. We often see National flags waved in games and winners choosing to display their National flags.

The Great Indian National Flag,  is a horizontal rectangular tricolour of deep saffron, white and India green; with the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, in navy blue at its centre. It was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, when it became the official flag of the Dominion of India. The term  "tricolour" (Tiraṅgā) always refers to the Indian national flag. The flag, by law, is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth, or silk made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The right to manufacture the flag is held by the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission, who allocate it to the regional groups.

Elsewhere, the  national flag is defined in legislation as "the symbol of the Realm, Government, and people of ……. " and like most other laws, can be changed by a simple majority in Parliament.

March 24, to Cricket fans (no match in ICC T20 WC today) would recall that composed stroke - Dale Steyn gave Grant Elliott width outside off stump with the short-of-a-length penultimate delivery. Elliott, like a baseball batter, was poised to strike with five runs required off two balls.  NZ created history beating South Africa in the Semis and moved to Finals.

At New Zealand, the judges weighed 10,292 options — including a flightless kiwi bird firing lasers from its eyes — and the country spent two years thinking about it; but in the end, New Zealanders chose decisively to keep their century-old flag, a blue ensign with Britain’s Union Jack in the upper left corner and the four stars of the Southern Cross in red on the right.

Preliminary results of a nationwide postal vote, which pitted the incumbent against the final challenger — a flag known as the Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) — showed on Thursday that 56.6 percent had voted to keep the existing flag flying, despite the assertion by Prime Minister John Key that it symbolized a colonial era whose time had passed. “Naturally, I’m a little bit disappointed,” Mr. Key said at a news conference after the result was announced.  Thousands of submitted designs — including the laser-equipped kiwi bird and a woolly sheep with stars for eyes, among less unconventional entries — were reduced to five finalists last year by a panel of 12 judges. Four of the five featured variations on a fern, a plant of symbolic importance in the native Maori culture (and the logo of the national rugby team).

In December, Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) won the first nationwide postal referendum and the support of Mr. Key, who had floated the idea of a new flag in an election campaign speech in March 2014. At the time, Mr. Key said that if his National Party won the elections in September (as it did), he would hold a referendum on the flag.

Those opposed to changing the flag argued that soldiers had died fighting for it and that it represented history and tradition. Winston Peters, a lawmaker who leads the New Zealand First Party, noted that recent polling had found the strongest support for the existing flag among people under 29.  So, the New Zealand's flag will not change, referendum has decided. The existing national flag won 56.6 per cent of the vote, compared to 43.2 per cent for the silver fern flag. The total number of votes received was 2,124,507 - a turnout of 67.3 per cent.
The flag of New Zealand is a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right. New Zealand's first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, was adopted in 1834, six years before New Zealand became a British colony following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The current flag was designed and adopted for use on Colonial ships in 1869 following an Imperial statute and became New Zealand's national flag in 1902.

For several decades there has been debate about changing the flag. A two-stage binding referendum on a flag change  closed on  24 March 2016 and the results have emerged strongly in favour of the old one !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Mar 2016.

Who will bowl the last over ? - the Chaos Manager

Chaotic behaviour exists in many natural systems, such as weather and climate.Chaos theory is the field of study in mathematics that studies the behaviour and condition of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect The deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable.  It is when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

This is a grab from an IPL finish in 2013, when Kedar Mahadav Jadhav keeping for Delhi ……in the final over was seen having removed his right hand glove and keeping with only one glove on! –Dhoni had done that earlier and did that with precision yesterday too !

Score card reads : India 146 for 7 (Raina 30, Mustafizur 2-34) beat Bangladesh 145 for 9 (Tamim 35, Ashwin 2-20) by one run  ~ only those of us who watched will remember that drama behind. It was not about a great delivery, but more about that extraordinary sprint of the ageing warrior 15 years beating the already steaming non-striker, that breathed life India’s chances of qualifiying.

Kapil Dev running backwards to take a great catch getting rid of Viv Richards off the bowling of Madanlal on 25th June 1983 – and this scoop on 24th Sept 2007 remain etched in memories of Indian Cricket lover.  We have now seen that ‘ who will bowl that last over ’ – umpteen times – having been at the helm for only 22 days Mahendra Singh Dhoni took that crucial decision to go ahead with Joginder Sharma in T 20 no. 46 at New Wanderers.  It was a cracker – 13 off last over.  Misbah on strike – Joginder the bowler, who bowled a poor wide – big one at that ! – then came a dot ball; 19.2 full toss, hit straight back for a six reducing the target to a simple 6 off 4.   Then came that fatal scoop that Misbah would rue for rest of life – moved in, tried hitting over fine leg, ball went up in air and came down into the waiting hands of Santhakumaran Sreesanth, who too became part of history. 

The same Q yesterday too…. who will bowl the last over – Ashish Nehra 4-0-29-1; J Bumrah 4-0-32-0 (he did bowl a great 19th over); Ashwin 4-0-20-2; Ravi Jadeja 4-0-22-2; Suresh Raina 1-0-9-1 ….. the boy left Hardik Pandya

It was Dhoni’s ability to stay calm under intense pressure. With India in danger of falling short of the semi-final stage, Dhoni's charges held their nerve and when asked afterward about the end of game situation he said it was important to keep cool in such hectic situations. "In a situation like this, it's literally chaos. What you are trying to do is you're trying to manage chaos," Dhoni said after the match. "Everybody will come and he'll have his own opinion. --  one could see Nehra offering loads of advice to the tense Pandya.

MS Dhoni lauded allrounder Hardik Pandya's "fantastic execution" of the last ball, which led to Mustafizur Rahman being run out by Dhoni in a mad-cap final over. The equation ultimately boiled down to two needed off the last ball. After a lengthy chat with Dhoni and Ashish Nehra, Pandya sent down a back-of-a-length ball outside off, which Shuvagata Hom could not reach. He attempted a bye, and Mustafizur responded, but Dhoni was too quick for him. He sprinted and broke the stumps down as India edged Bangladesh.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza admitted that his team lost it under pressure, in the last three balls. "I think the last three balls actually, we lost three wickets and needed only two runs," he said. Though there was lot of drama – with India not setting a great target, it was sort of easy last over – it was 17 off 12 and 11 off 6.

Of that boiling cauldron of last over – Mahmudulla scored a single; Mushfiqur Rahim, picked up the slower one, smashed through extra cover for a 4; 3rd was scooped past for another 4 – simple 2 needed off 3.  Mushfiqur was all celebrating, had a win a match by his heroics.  Next ball held out to deep midwicket, Dhawan completing the catch. Mahmudullah having crossed over slogged a full toss, Jadeja ran in, took the catch, rolled and rolled as Indians celebrated.  That last ball, Shuvgata Hom missed a wider delivery, Mustafizur was already running and so was Dhoni who was keeping with a single glove…………the aged workhorse ran faster, broke the stumps and it was celebrations …

In the third over of Bangladesh's chase, Hardik Pandya at long-on, snatched  the ball flying overhead. In the next few seconds, as the Chinnaswamy Stadium erupted around him,as  Pandya appeared to undergo a series of eruptions himself. He had another night to celebrate !

Hail Dhoni, the Captain, the glove man (those great stumpings), the fastest runner in between wickets, the Chaos Manager!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Mar 2016.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

poor of Manila, Phillipines live in make shift homes inside concrete pipes ... and Madras !!

“I take you all on time-machine (in a boat) to a period aeons ago … started a great novel written in 1950” … the wonder *Ponniyin Selvan* of Kalki – much happens here  – the story  starts with the description ‘bounded by Chozha kingdom and Thondai naadu, nearer Thillai Chirrambalam is a vast ocean-like lake ……….-and on that 18th day of Aadi – a young horse rider ‘Vanthiya Thevan’ was …… ’


Does this photo tell you something ?

தொண்டை நாட்டுக்கும் சோழ நாட்டுக்கும் இடையில் உள்ள திருமுனைப்பாடி நாட்டின் தென்பகுதியில், தில்லைச் சிற்றம்பலத்துக்கு மேற்கே இரண்டு காததூரத்தில், அலை கடல் போன்ற ஓர் ஏரி விரிந்து பரந்து கிடக்கிறது. அதற்கு வீரநாராயண ஏரி என்று பெயர். அது தெற்கு வடக்கில் ஒன்றரைக் காத நீளமும் கிழக்கு மேற்கில் அரைக் காத அகலமும் உள்ளது. காலப்போக்கில் அதன் பெயர் சிதைந்து இந்நாளில் வீராணத்து ஏரிஎன்ற பெயரால் வழங்கி வருகிறது.புது வெள்ளம் வந்து பாய்ந்து ஏரியில் நீர் நிரம்பித் ததும்பி நிற்கும் ஆடி ஆவணி மாதங்களில் வீரநாராயண ஏரியைப் பார்ப்பவர் எவரும் நம்முடைய பழந்தமிழ் நாட்டு முன்னோர்கள் தங்கள் காலத்தில் சாதித்த அரும்பெரும் காரியங்களைக் குறித்துப் பெருமிதமும் பெரு வியப்பும் கொள்ளாமலிருக்க முடியாது.

ஆடித் திங்கள் பதினெட்டாம் நாள் முன் மாலை நேரத்தில் அலை கடல் போல் விரிந்து பரந்திருந்த வீர நாராயண ஏரிக்கரை மீது ஒரு வாலிப வீரன் குதிரை ஏறிப் பிரயாணம் செய்து கொண்டிருந்தான். அவன் தமிழகத்து வீர சரித்திரத்தில் புகழ்பெற்ற வாணர் குலத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவன். வல்லவரையன் வந்தியத்தேவன் என்பது அவன் பெயர்.

Sri Vaishnavaites have more to know about this lake. The Veeranam lake derived its name from the nearby place ‘Veera Narayana puram’ which is of great significance to Srivaishnavaites.  It is here that our Acharyars Nathamunigal and later Sri Alavanthar were born.

This is no post on history or story – but on a  desperate place to call home: MailOnline has this article with heartrending pictures showing  families forced to live in pipes in Manila's sprawling slums.

Cramped, dirty and without even basic of facilities, these concrete pipes are the most unlikely of homes. But for the desperately poor of the Philippines, they offer a tiny refuge. Families can be seen sleeping and sheltering inside the structures lining the streets of Manila as young children play on the filthy floor. Some have tried to create privacy by draping fabric over the entrance. Makeshift beds are formed from wood jammed across the pipes while washing hangs from string.

Many of the Philippines' desperate citizens dwell in whatever makeshift shelters they can find in the slums in Manila, including concrete pipes. Roughly one quarter of the nation live in poverty, which is defined as surviving on about one US dollar a day. The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in Asia for several years.  But despite increased government efforts to raise living standards, the country of more than 100 million still faces considerable challenges including its vulnerability to typhoons and other natural disasters, poverty, corruption and poor infrastructure.  The country's inexhaustible list of natural disasters is largely due to its location along the Ring of Fire, a basin in the Pacific Ocean where a large number of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest often happening towards the end of the year.

Statistically many typhoons have  devastated Manila the city resulting in hundreds of deaths. The flooding, which was neck-deep in some areas, forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for high ground. World Bank has given the country money a couple of times  to help deal with such catastrophes. The reports has photos of people living inside those cramped concrete pipes ……..

…back home – the photos bring back different kind of nostalgia at least to those middle aged. In 1967, C.N. Annadurai, then freshly elected Chief Minister of the State, mooted the idea of supplying water to the capital city from Veeranam. He died in 1969 and it was left to his successors to execute the plan. The project, estimated at Rs. 21 crore, was then the biggest to be sanctioned in independent India. The contractor put up a plant at Tirukazhugukundram in collaboration with a Greek firm for making the pre-stressed concrete pipes. What followed  reflected no credit on any of the parties involved. There were allegations of corruption, delays in sanctioning foreign exchange and quality issues. With the DMK government being dismissed in 1976, the matter was taken to court, and in the middle of it all, the contractor suddenly died. The pipes were abandoned all along the Cuddalore-Madras route and were put to good use — entire families were raised in them, sadly portrayed in magazines time and again, as living houses for the poor.  The project languished thereafter for over three decades only to be revived in 2000, and by then, the cost had ballooned to Rs. 720 crore. The local ryots were none too happy at the metropolis guzzling their precious resource, but water began flowing into Chennai in 2004.

More than 3 dozens of years  after it was first conceived, the Veeranam project, which was to deliver water to the parched metropolis of Chennai, finally started delivering water to metropolis.   Presently, the city gets water to Porur lake from Veeranam as seen from the daily storage details in Chennai Metropolitan water supply and sewerage board’s website.

So have you seen Veeranam pipes ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2016.