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Modi attends Vesak Day celebrations



Prime Minister Narendra Modi, participated in the opening ceremony of the 14th International Vesak Day celebration in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Modi, who is the chief guest, arrived on Friday morning at the venue and was received by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe amid traditional fanfare.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was also present.

The Vesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha.

The visit follows an invitation from Sirisena. It is Modi’s second trip to Sri Lanka as Prime Minister after March 2015.

This is the first time that Sri Lanka is hosting the International Vesak Day, recognised by the UN. The theme of the event is “Buddhist teachings for social justice and sustainable world peace”.

Later in the day, Modi will open an India-funded 150-bed multi-speciality hospital at Dickoya in the central hill district which is home to Tamil tea plantation workers of Indian origin.

Modi will also pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy. The golden-roofed Kandy temple houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic — a tooth of Lord Buddha.

In Pallekele, Modi will unveil a plaque commemorating the foundation laying of the Faculty of Kandyan Dance at the Sri Lankan International Buddhist Academy that will be constructed with India’s grant assistance.

Although no bilateral talks are scheduled, the visit is expected to give fresh boost to India-Sri Lanka ties.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had visited India in April.



Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

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Twitter’s chief information security officer quits




San Francisco, March 22: As tech companies reel under mounting pressure to prevent their platforms from data breach and fake news, Twitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Coates has decided to quit.

In a tweet on Thursday, Coates who joined Twitter in 2015 announced his departure from the micro-blogging website.

“Twitter has been an amazing ride, but as I mentioned internally a few weeks back, my time is coming to an end. I’m confident to leave the program with an amazing security team,” Coates tweeted.

According to The Verge, Coates’ interim replacement is Joseph Camilleri, a senior manager for information security and risk.

Coates’ departure comes soon after reports surfaced that Facebook’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is planning to leave the company by August.

Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Meanwhile, Michael Zalewski, Director of Information Security Engineering at Google, has also announced his departure from that company after 11 years.


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