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In 1952, like a bolt from the blue, came UP Chief Minister Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant’s order abolishing zamindari (landlordism). The abrupt drop in prestige and lifestyle caused a relative across the Ganga to hide his arsenal of a few rifles and 12 bore shotguns along with boxes of Eley cartridges with LG or Large-Goose loads.
Whenever courtiers in rags, with some previous pique, stoked his fragile ego with stories of rampant lawlessness in the villages because “huzoor’s” power had ended, “huzoor” would come out with his preferred shotgun. This sad, fake “dadagiri” (gangsterism) lasted as long as the boxes of Eleys did. This trans-Ganga tragic hero came to mind when my eye fell on a bold headline of a piece written by Graham E Fuller, Ex CIA officer, on the aggressive style of Biden-Blinken early outings in Foreign Affairs:
“Hell Hath No Fury Like A Superpower in decline,” said the headline.
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Fuller writes: “The US leadership must have set some kind of new record in managing to personally insult the powers of the world within 48 hours of each other in these early days of Biden administration’s Foreign Policy. President Biden called Vladimir Putin a “killer” and lacking “a soul”. Blinken was equally insulting to China.
“This country has some grounds for pride in its own-imperfect-democratic order. No such democratic orders are perfect. Still, how much reflection does it take to acknowledge what the Chinese communist party has accomplished in the past thirty years? Is it more worthy to bring half a billion people out of poverty into middle-class life in a mere generation? Or more worthy to maintain intact and American electoral system in which mediocre or bad leaders emerge as readily as good ones?” He goes on and on, very readably.
Fuller’s invective is focused on Biden-Blinken’s opening salvos in Russia and China. I would have scoured anything he wrote on the tenth anniversary of the Syrian crisis which has been aggressively observed by five western powers. Fuller knows the area backward. A key policy document advising the Reagan administration in 1983 for military action against Syria for strategic reasons was his handiwork. I have had this document ever since it was released in 2008, having been in secret vaults for 25 years.
After visiting Damascus and almost all the trouble spots in Syria’s neighborhood, I had written a paper for the Observer Research Foundation, “The Storm in the Arab Spring”, the eye of the storm being Syria. I feel qualified to take a critical look at the statement the foreign ministers of the US, France, Germany, Italy, and UK, issued on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the tragedy. One allegation the foreign ministers repeat is straightforward: President Bashar al Assad started the ghoulish operation against his own people who were rebelling against misrule, corruption, economic distress. Not true. I was in Damascus at the outset.
There were reports fairly early in the proceeding of the Obama administration leading the global effort to deploy “shadow” internet and mobile phone systems which “dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by shutting down communications network.” James Glanz and John Markoff of the New York Times described one operation in a fifth-floor shop in L Street, Washington, where “a group of young entrepreneurs, looking like a garage band, are assembling deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “internet-in-a-suitcase.” It was all part of the big push for the “Liberation Technology Movement”. And how comprehensively was it applied against the Syrian regime?
In the case of Syria, the so-called “moderate operation” which the “free” world was busting its guts to help, in many cases turned out to be cover for extreme Islamists like Jabhat al Nusra. One such instance Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted before the Senate Armed Services Select Committee, which is even today available on the internet. A $500 million project to train the “moderates” to fight Assad, ended up as an embarrassment for Washington. Most of the trainees disappeared, along with the lethal equipment, presumably to join groups like Nusra. Asked by members of the committee, “how many trainees are still fighting?” Austin almost lost his voice. After a long pause, he mumbled “four or five”. The US has spent $2 billion on such efforts in Syria.
Among the trick sentences in the foreign ministers’ statement is one about Daesh or the Islamic State. “Preventing Daesh’s resurgence remains a priority”, says the statement. Hadn’t Daesh, in the Administration’s word been “destroyed?” Why is its possible resurrection being posed as a threat? Because the threat, when live, can justify airstrikes and other forms of intervention?
In the US’s “Sole superpower” moment, countries were averse to calling US names: how can the US be accused of nurturing “terrorists” as possible assets in future contingencies. The free run the US and its regional allies, like Saudi Arabia, had, to alter ground realities in Syria, came to an end when the Russians arrived in 2015, boots on the ground et al. A brief background to place Baghdadi in perspective. President Obama was livid with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki for not signing the Status of Forces Agreement before the departure of US troops from Iraq. Washington wanted him out.
Just about this time, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi puts out a video from Mosul’s main mosque on July 4, 2014, declaring the formation of an Islamic Caliphate. In August 2014, Obama gives a significant interview to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. Asked why he did not order airstrikes against ISIS just when it reared its head in June-July 2014, Obama makes an admission:
Airstrikes on Baghdadi in July, “would have taken the pressure off Nouri al Maliki”, Iraq’s stubbornly anti-American Shia Prime Minister. In other words, the rapid march of the ISIS from Mosul to the outskirts of Baghdad was “facilitated” to keep the pressure on Maliki. In September 2014, Maliki was shown the door. Moral: terrorists can be assets in circumstances. (IANS/SP)
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)