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US Multi-Pronged Efforts to Persuade European Allies to Stay Away from Huawei 5G Tech Could Backfire
The U.S. government’s multi-pronged effort to persuade European allies to bar the Chinese firm Huawei from supplying key elements of state-of-the-art 5G mobile data networks appears to have foundered, raising questions not only about the future of key intelligence-sharing relationships but also about the future of mobile technology in the U.S. itself.
U.S. officials used warnings of potential “backdoor” technology that could give Chinese intelligence services access to critical telecommunications infrastructure to try to warn allies away from Huawei equipment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went as far as warning allies that the U.S. would have no choice but to restrict the information it shares with key allies.
In the end, the push appears to have been in vain. The EU announced Tuesday that it will allow carriers to move forward with the installation of Huawei equipment. Officials said EU countries’ sharing information about 5G security threats will be sufficient to safeguard their high-tech communication networks.
Some of the United States’ staunchest allies have made it plain that they do not see the Huawei threat as Washington does. Germany has announced that it will not ban the Chinese firm from its networks, and regulators in Britain have said that they are satisfied that any threat can be mitigated by inspection and monitoring.
Last month, an effort to block Huawei from participating in the 5G rollout in France died in the Senate, and Italy has not only embraced Huawei, but has become the first European country to accept funding from Beijing as part of China’s “Belt and Road” program of infrastructure investment.
This is not to say that Europe is ignoring potential security threats from Huawei. On March 12, the European Parliament passed a new Cybersecurity Act, creating standards for telecommunications equipment. While it did not single out Chinese firms, the language of the new law makes it clear that equipment from companies located in countries that pose potential security threats will receive extra attention.
On Tuesday, the EU’s digital chief said EU countries will have until the end of June to assess cybersecurity risks related to 5G, leading to a bloc-wide assessment by October. In the Pacific, U.S. allies in closer proximity to China have been more aggressive in taking action against Huawei. The governments of both Australia and New Zealand have already barred their domestic carriers from using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks.
Washington’s inability to create consensus among its allies on such a critical issue has puzzled many experts. Key sectors of the U.S. intelligence community identified Huawei as a major national security concern at least a decade ago. However, the concerted effort to go public with concerns about allowing the company to participate in the rollout of 5G technology only came to the fore within the past year — long after many say such conversations ought to have taken place.
“It is late in the game,” said Paul Triolo, practice head for Geo-Technology at the Eurasia Group and China Digital Economy Fellow at the New America Foundation. “I was in Europe last week and I had a German official say, ‘Gosh, I wish we’d had this debate three years ago.’ That’s the problem. The industry has moved in this direction in lockstep for the past seven or eight years and now, you’re throwing, from the sidelines, a big smoke bomb.”
Industry insiders in Europe reacted with a mix of incredulity and alarm to the U.S. proposals. Vodafone’s chief technology officer, Scott Petty, last week told the BBC that a ban on Huawei wouldn’t just be forward-looking. It would require tearing out the company’s equipment already incorporated into existing mobile networks. “The cost of doing that runs into the hundreds of millions and will dramatically affect our 5G business case,” he told the news service. “We would have to slow down the deployment of 5G very significantly.”
Concerns about Huawei
The rise of Huawei to global prominence, considered a major success story in China, has not come without controversy. The company has a documented history of industrial espionage, and benefits significantly from close connections to the Chinese government, which provides various subsidies generally unavailable to Huawei’s foreign competitors. There has also long been suspicion, bordering on certainty in some sectors, that the company cooperates with Chinese intelligence services.
“I mean they are clearly malicious actors — I don’t think there’s any doubt about this,” said Trae Stephens, a former U.S. intelligence officer, and a founder of Anduril Industries, which sells technology to the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security. “The evidence has been presented over and over and over again. The intelligence community doesn’t make spurious accusations that have no backing.”
The certainty with which current and former U.S. officials accuse Huawei of being a pawn of Beijing makes the decision to wait until the last minute to try to block the firm from the 5G rollout hard to understand — especially given how long the company has been on the intelligence community’s radar.
At least as early as the first years of the Obama administration, officials were expressing concern about allowing Huawei to provide sensitive infrastructure to the U.S. telecommunications industry. By 2012, that had hardened into specific warnings.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2012 completed a year-long investigation into Huawei and ZTE, a smaller Chinese telecom firm, and left no doubt about its members concerns. Among other things, the investigation concluded that “the risks associated with Huawei’s and ZTE’s provision of equipment to U.S. critical infrastructure could undermine core U.S. national-security interests.”
However, in the intervening years, one thing the U.S. never did was present clear and convincing evidence that Huawei was conspiring with the Chinese government in terms of ongoing espionage.
Even after the Chinese legislature passed a new law requiring companies operating in the country to cooperate, if asked, with intelligence-collecting agencies, warnings from the U.S. were all prospective — claims about what Huawei might do in the future, rather than evidence of actual espionage.
Fractured 5G future
While the late push by the U.S. to keep Huawei out of the rollout of 5G worldwide may have failed, years of warnings about doing business with the company have not gone unheeded in the United States. While Huawei equipment is not officially banned in the U.S., the 2012 report from the House Intelligence committee got the attention of domestic carriers, and Huawei has been all but shut out of the market.
A law signed by President Donald Trump last year blocking government agencies from purchasing any equipment from the company only made it more difficult for the firm to play in the U.S. market.
However, even without access to U.S. markets, Huawei remains the largest provider of telecommunications infrastructure equipment in the world. It also spends lavishly on research and development: It’s R&D budget was nearly $14 billion in 2017, more than twice as much as either of the two other major 5G players, Ericsson and Nokia, spent that year.
The combination of these two factors means that Huawei products are not only being used worldwide, but that they are often the most advanced and innovative equipment available.
Huawei, according to Paul Triolo of the Eurasia Group, is the “most competitive, lowest-cost, high performance, high-service and, critically, high-innovation” company in the mobile telecommunications infrastructure market.
This has some experts concerned about a future in which the U.S. walls itself off from the technology that the rest of the world is adopting.
Lester Ross, the partner-in-charge of the WilmerHale law firm’s Beijing office, said he believes the U.S. effort to stymie Huawei in Europe and at home will only “intensify” the company’s drive to expand to other countries around the world.
“So if the United States and perhaps a few other countries are just left then to be islands in an ocean of Chinese-led telecommunications infrastructure, what implications does that have for the world?” he asked. (VOA)
Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.
Narakasura- The great mythical demon King
Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.
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Narakasura was created, grew up to be strong and powerful but he was not satisfied with it, so he decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and was driven by the power of his penance; Lord Brahma appeared before him. Narakasura knew his mother loved him dearly so he asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he would only die by the hands of his mother, Bhumidevi. Lord Brahma smile and ultimately granted him the boon.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. He thought no mother would kill their child so Lord Brahma had made him immortal. Drunk and maddened by his own power Narakasura brought all the kingdoms under his control and targeted Swargalok (Heaven). Even Indra (King of Gods) and demi-gods had to retreat in front of Narakasura. He kidnapped and took 16,000 women from the palaces as prisoners. Troubled by Naraksura's deeds the gods rushed to Lord Vishnu for a solution.
Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama were born to kill Narakasura
Lord Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna and Narakasura's mother Bhumidevi took the avatar of Krishna's wife Satyabhama. As Satyabhama, Bhumidevi was unaware of the knowledge of Naraksura being her son. Aditi the mother of all gods approached Satyabhama crying for help with bloodied ears as Narakasura had torn off the glowing earrings from the ears of Aditi.
Satyabhama was furious on gaining the knowledge of Narakasura's atrocities she asked Krishna to fight the demon king while she fights alongside him. Krishna agreed and they attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama.
The furious battle unleashed. Krishna defeated Narakasura's general Mura and came to be known as Murari (the killer of Mura). Narakasura used several divine weapons against Krishna, but Krishna slew all those weapons effortlessly. The demon hurled a shakti towards Krishna, which mildly hurt Krishna and he fell unconscious. Upon this sight Satyabhama was enraged, she furiously pulled out a weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura's chest. Anxious Satyabhama turned to her fallen Lord, Krishna got up with a smile and he was completely fine. He was only playing his part. It was Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhoomidevi, whose hands were destined to slay Narakasura.
ALSO READ: Choosing Environment-Friendly Diwali
Lord Krishna and Goddess Satyabhama had put an end to the Narakasura's kingdom of evil. As Narakasura lay on his deathbed he realised that Satyabhama was no one but an avatar of his own mother. He requested a boon from his mother, for no one to mourn his death. Instead, he wished for people to celebrate it with light and colours. They freed the 16,000 women who later married Lord Krishna to restore them of their honour in society, retrieved Mother goddess's earrings. This day is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali - the day before Diwali as the triumph of good over evil.
Keywords: Diwali festival, goddess Laxmi, demon king, Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, the festival of light, Naraksura, Narak Chaturdashi
For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?
The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.
Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement in the 70s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Later, he even invented the sewing needles and a couple of other important inventions but never kept any of the patent rights.
When the punk rock tradition took over in the seventies, safety pins became a fashion rage. They were used as piercings and to patch clothes together. Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement. In some cultures, the safety pins have become symbols of good luck.
Keywords: Safety-pins, Punk Rock, Brass, Accessories, Walter Hunt
In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.
Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.
Women applying oil to the heads of men Photo credit: Indians in Kuwait
In some parts of the peninsula, soap is not used to wash off the oil because it nullifies its effects. Some cultures who do not like the oil to remain in any way on their skin wash it off with shikakai and herbs, which is a paste that is traditionally used as a substitute for soap. Sometimes, the oil is heated with flowers and spices as well and is less sticky than in its pure form.
The purpose of this ritual is to cleanse the body, detoxify it, and produce heat in it. Sesame is a very heaty substance and tends to heat up the body. This heat, or 'usshna' in Kannada, prepares the body to face the sudden cold that comes to the peninsula immediately after Diwali. South India has no smooth transition weather-wise from monsoon to winter. There are a few days of stable, rainless weather, and suddenly the cold winds descend.
In many ways, the celebration of Diwali is centered around preparing for winter, considering the amount of heat and light the rituals consist of – lighting lamps, bursting crackers, and consuming warm treats. Those who practice these rituals earnestly find the shift in seasons and weather quite pleasant.
Keyboards: Sesame Oil Bath, Diwali Ritual, Traditional Sesame Oil Bath