5 September 2023

India’s Use of Buddhism: Soft Power, Soft Balancing

David Scott

Strategic utilization of Buddhism in Indian foreign policy is a feature that has become particularly noticeable in the last decade, under Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which took power in 2014. Modi has pushed an “Indian vision of Buddhism” which “appeals to ancient history while rooted in contemporary geopolitical concerns” (Lam 2022). The geopolitical concerns reflect the deterioration in India’s relations with China on show with confrontation, casualties and conflict along India’s Buddhist Himalayan frontier – at Doklam in 2017, Galwan in 2020, and Yangtse in December 2022.

Leading analysts were already noting by the end of 2014 that “the PM has put Buddhism at the heart of India’s vigorous new diplomacy.” Two examples suffice from September 2015. At the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Modi proclaimed:

That same month, Modi also initiated a “…‘Samvad’ – Global Hindu-Buddhist Initiative”, in which “India is taking the lead in boosting the Buddhist heritage across Asia.” This Samvad initiative was enthusiastically embraced by Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe. A Samvad framework was then pushed jointly by India and Japan in subsequent years, a geocultural use of Buddhism to offset the geoeconomic allure of China’s Silk Road project.

India is a rising power, with rising hopes for influence in and around its immediate and extended neighborhood. Its power projection is multi-faceted, with geocultural linkages sought for geopolitical purposes. Kishwar noted the “rising role of Buddhism in India’s soft power strategy” in 2018. This soft power Buddhism-facilitated diplomacy is also evident with regard to India’s strategic partnerships with Japan and Mongolia (Sarmah 2022), as well as with Vietnam and South Korea, and with regard to Indian outreach to Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Tibetan Buddhism has been “a source and strength of Indian soft power diplomacy” (Tsultrim 2020), along the Himalayas with regard to bilateral relations with Nepal and Bhutan, and further afield with regards to Mongolia.

SHARE ARTICLE The China Threat

When Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said in 2021 that his top concerns were “China, China, and China,” it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Kendall came back into government specifically because of his growing concern over competition with China, which he saw in terms of the Cold War competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The 2022 U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) pinpointed China as the nation’s pacing threat. Indeed, in May of 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described China as “the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order, and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it.”

Beijing’s multifaceted approach to changing the global world order is increasingly underpinned by military might. But the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) did not just rise to near-peer status overnight. Unless you are a China analyst or policy wonk—spending your waking hours digging through the annual DOD China Military Power Report—you might not know very much at all about the People’s Liberation Army, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, and the other components of China’s military.
The PLA began a period of accelerated growth around 2015, with the intended goal to reach near-parity with the U.S. military. From fielding the world’s largest surface fleet to developing fifth-generation fighter aircraft and hypersonic missiles, the PLA rapidly transformed itself. An army that used human wave tactics to “defeat” Vietnam in 1979 now looks radically different in 2023. China’s leader, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, has repeatedly set 2049 as the target by which he intends China to surpass the United States in comprehensive power.

Russian cyber group unleashes new malware campaign on Ukrainian military targets

Chris Riotta

A Russian cyber threat actor launched a novel malware campaign against Ukrainian military personnel, targeting Android devices to steal sensitive information from the battlefield, according to an international report published Wednesday.

Sandworm, a Russian state-sponsored threat actor linked to the Kremlin's military intelligence service, leveraged a mobile malware known as "Infamous Chisel" to infect Android devices and periodically scan files and network information for exfiltration, the report said.

The new malware consists of a collection of components that gave the Russian threat actor backdoor access to infected devices to conduct network monitoring, traffic collection and file transfer operations.

The report, which provides technical details into the new kind of malware, was published by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the FBI, the National Security Agency and several international partners, including the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre, the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

Ukraine's security agency first uncovered the Russian-linked cyberattack earlier this month when it announced that it "exposed and blocked" attempts by Sandworm to gain unauthorized access to a combat data exchange system maintained by the country's armed forces.

"Since the first days of the full-scale war, we have been fending off cyberattacks of Russian intelligence services aiming to break our military command system and more," Illia Vitiuk, head of the Ukrainian security agency's cybersecurity department, said at the time.

The new report assesses how Sandworm leveraged Infamous Chisel in an attempt to establish a persistent presence on impacted networks and includes indicators of compromise for affected devices.

Indonesia’s economy will surpass Russia’s sooner than expected. Here’s what that says about the global economy.

Josh Lipsky and Niels Graham

In 1890, Russian prince Nicholas Alexandrovich, who would soon become Czar Nicholas II, took a trip across Asia. In February his cruise ships dropped anchor in the Bay of Batavia (modern day Jakarta Bay) on the island of Java. He spent several weeks touring the island, complaining about the heat, and hiking volcanoes. Little could the prince imagine that over a century later the island—and its neighbors—would be poised to leapfrog Russia as one of the largest economies in the world:

In 2026, Indonesia is expected to surpass Russia to become the world’s sixth largest economy (in PPP terms)—about two years earlier than if Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had never happened. (We reached that estimate by comparing the IMF’s growth projections pre- and post-invasion.)

This is not directly a sanctions story. Yes, financial sanctions and lack of access to advanced technology through export controls have significant negative long-run effects on the Russian economy. But Russia’s slide and Indonesia’s ascent are both driven in large part by the same thing: people. Russia is suffering from acute brain drain while Indonesia’s labor force is growing. In particular, Indonesia’s educated professional class is growing while Russia’s is shrinking. That contrast is what makes their soon-to-be swap on the list of the world’s largest economies notable. The world’s center of economic gravity is shifting.

Warfare in Ukraine Shows How Small UAS Can Work in Battle


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Ukraine’s furious response to it, have opened the eyes of militaries around the world to the role small UAS can play in warfare, an Army requirements chief said.

That includes the U.S. Army, which is looking for ways to do SUAS warfare better.

“The first thing I do in the morning, I wake up, roll out of bed, have my coffee and I’m on the Telegram app looking at open-source intelligence of what’s going on in drone warfare, both from the Russian and the Ukrainian side, as well as non-state actors around the world,” said Lt. Col. Michael Brabner, the Air Branch Chief in the Maneuver Capability Development Integration Directorate’s Robotics Requirement Division.

His team is writing requirements for seven SUAS programs under the Joint Small UAS architecture, including the short-, medium- and long-range reconnaissance systems, tethered UAS and first-person view systems.

“We’re trying to look to not only change doctrine, how we’re going to fight in the future, just kind of emulating what we’re absorbing watching Ukraine and Russia right now…,” he speaking at the AUVSI Pathfinder chapter annual conference earlier this week.

Reports have indicated Ukraine having three out of five drones shot down, losing up to 10,000 of them a day. “Those are commercial, off-the-shelf DJI drones, they’re not connected to a mesh network, they’re not connected to ATAC, they’re not utilizing our tactics, our doctrine, so we can do it better,” he said.

The Expansion of BRICS: Challenges and Uncertainties

William Daldegan

Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Iran were announced as new permanent members of BRICS. The announcement was accompanied by a promise to define criteria for future new memberships. The negotiations for expansion faced significant pressure from the Chinese, who advocated for a broader opening and encouraged the candidacy of dozens of countries. In contrast, Brazil and India resisted this movement and, along with South Africa, negotiated for a more assertive stance from Russia and China in favor of a broader reform in the UN, especially within the Security Council. However, this expansion raises uncertainties about the future of BRICS.

Twelve years after the first expansion with South Africa, and six years after the Chinese idea of expansion in 2017, which gained momentum in the last year, 2022, the decision to integrate six new members, each with diverse characteristics, maintained the group’s operating logic: it depends on its members’ perceptions of the international situation, preserves independence for individual strategies and initiatives, and makes no effort towards institutionalizing the group.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have been working over the years to establish joint positions on important issues in the international agenda through consensus. This includes a demand for more representative financial governance, which directly criticizes the quota and voting structure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Amid the Crimea crisis in 2014 and the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, these countries advocated for resolving the conflict through dialogue and did not support proposals for sanctions against the Russians. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the absence of uncoordinated actions, which many consider a strategic mistake, they utilized their bank, the New Development Bank (NDB), to provide emergency credit lines to address the effects of the health crisis.

California community college professors sue over diversity, equity and inclusion rules


California community college professors are suing state officials after new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) rules were implemented that they allege violate their First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit, filed in August, contends the rules “mandate viewpoint conformity” and “force professors to endorse the government’s view on politically charged questions regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”

Six community college professors are challenging the new DEI rules, which would affect 116 community colleges and more than 1.8 million students.

The professors are working with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech group that sued Florida last year over the “Stop WOKE Act,” which seeks to restrict instruction on race and sex and faces multiple legal challenges.

September 2023 Unlikely to Perform Monsoon Miracles As IMD Predicts Normal Rains and Warmer Days Across India

Friday, September 1: August 2023 has etched its name in the record books as India's driest August since recordkeeping commenced. The long monsoon ‘break’ saw the countrywide deficit reach 11% after the first three months of the season, thereby surpassing the dreaded drought threshold of over a 10% shortfall. The nation's collective gaze now turns to September, although early signs do not promise a miraculous comeback.

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) latest predictions for September 2023 point towards normal rainfall for India. This translates to actual rainfall levels falling within 91-109% of the country's long-period average (LPA) for the month. According to historical data spanning 1971-2020, the September LPA stands at 167.9 mm.

Through the month, above-normal rainfall is most likely over many areas of Northeast India, adjoining East India, the foothills of the Himalayas and some areas of East-Central and South Peninsular India. Most areas in the remaining parts of the country will be in for normal to below-normal precipitation.

UK creates £1.5M fund to support carbon-reducing AI projects

Ryan Daws

The UK Government has launched a £1.5 million programme to support the use of AI to reduce carbon emissions.

“The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies, and AI technology is already having a transformative impact on our economy and society,” said UK Science Minister George Freeman.

“But there is tremendous potential to do more.”

The AI for Decarbonisation programme is part of the wider £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio that aims to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies, systems and business models.

AI for Decarbonisation will consist of two initial stages:Stage one will provide up to £500,000 of funds to create a virtual centre of excellence on AI innovation and decarbonisation through March 2025.
Stage two is where the remaining £1 million will be used to fund innovative AI-powered decarbonisation projects.

The AI for Decarbonisation programme offers an exciting opportunity to leverage and develop the UK’s outstanding expertise in the field,” adds Freeman.

Key inflation measure rises as incomes decelerated in July


Prices bucked up in July in a key inflation gauge watched by the Federal Reserve as the central bank weighs the possibility of more interest rate hikes.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose 0.2 percent in July, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. It moved up to 3.3 percent ahead of where it was a year ago, up from 3 percent in June.

Annual “core” PCE, which excludes the more volatile categories of food and energy prices, moved up to 4.2 percent in July from 4.1 percent in June.

The upward move in the PCE index comes after another important price measurement, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose for the first time this year in July. Prices had been steadily declining since last summer.

Markets are currently not expecting another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

A prediction algorithm by financial company CME puts the chances of the Fed pausing at its next meeting at 88.5 percent.

The advance in the CPI was primarily driven by housing costs.

California community college professors sue over diversity, equity and inclusion rules


California community college professors are suing state officials after new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) rules were implemented that they allege violate their First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit, filed in August, contends the rules “mandate viewpoint conformity” and “force professors to endorse the government’s view on politically charged questions regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”

Six community college professors are challenging the new DEI rules, which would affect 116 community colleges and more than 1.8 million students.

The professors are working with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech group that sued Florida last year over the “Stop WOKE Act,” which seeks to restrict instruction on race and sex and faces multiple legal challenges.

“These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy,” FIRE attorney Daniel Ortner said about the California rules. “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line.”

Some students see danger in Youngkin’s policies on transgender students


FAIRFAX, Va. — When recent Fairfax High School graduate Beatrice Stutz considers Virginia’s new education policies on transgender students, she thinks about a friend of hers whose parents aren’t supportive of her gender identity.

Among Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) recently finalized policies restricting the rights of transgender students is a prohibition on school districts creating policies to withhold information about students’ gender identity from unsupportive parents.

Stutz, who is transgender, said she’s fortunate enough to have a supportive family, but other trans students like her friend aren’t so lucky.

“It’s jarring to realize that she is the one that will be directly affected by these policies,” Stotz said in an interview before graduation. “It is her life that will be uprooted because of these new regulations.”

In July, the Youngkin administration released a finalized version of policies governing the treatment of transgender students in Virginia public schools. That followed a draft version released last year that sparked statewide protests from students.

They require students to play on sports teams and use bathrooms associated with their sex assigned at birth, with modifications offered only to the extent required under federal law, and they prohibit school staff from referring to a student by a new name or pronouns without the permission of a parent.

But the move to allow school staff to share information with unsupportive parents is particularly concerning to LGBTQ advocates.

The proposed policies emphasize the importance of parental rights, something Youngkin campaigned on. They say school districts may not “encourage or instruct teachers to conceal material information about a student from the student’s parent, including information related to gender.”

Interest on student loans is back: Here’s what to know


After more than three years, interest on student loans is back on beginning Friday as part of the Biden administration’s “on-ramp” repayment plan.

The start of September brings the return of interest on the loans, which unlike other types of debt accrues daily instead of monthly.

Like payments on the loans, the interest had been on a pause that began at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was renewed several times.

While payments themselves don’t resume until October, here is what borrowers need to know as interest resumes:

How student loan interest works

“I think practically, the most important thing about interest on a student loan is that because of how it accumulates, it can cause the value of your loan, the overall amount that you have to pay back, to increase pretty significantly,” said Jacob Channel, senior economist and student loan repayment expert at Lending Tree.

The interest rate of a student loan is set when a borrower takes the money out, so it will be the same as before the COVID-19 pause. Even for borrowers who graduated during the pandemic and haven’t paid on their loans at all yet, the interest rate is still set at what it was when the loan was taken out.

Parents’ school safety concerns dip slightly: Gallup


Parents’ school safety concerns have dipped slightly in the past year, though concern still remains higher when compared to years past, according to a poll.

The survey results, published Thursday by Gallup, found 38 percent of parents polled fear for their child’s safety while at school, down slightly from the 44 percent measured last year after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults.

While it is slightly lower, the new data exceeds Gallup’s measurements after the 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting in Pennsylvania, the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut and the 2018 Parkland, Fla., high school shooting.

Gallup noted that Thursday’s results mark one of the highest’s percentages since the organization began tracking the measurement in 1977. The historical high is 55 percent, which was measured immediately after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado where two students shot and killed 12 students before committing suicide. After a dip in 2000 to 26 percent, fear spiked back up to 45 percent following a March 2001 school shooting in Santee, Calif.

The organization added that its measurements have shown parental concern has typically risen following a “prominent mass shooting.”

Japan Plans Counter-Cyber Attack Grid for Indo-Pacific


The Japanese government plans to build an information network for the Indo-Pacific to counter cyberattacks from Russia, China, and North Korea.

The network’s focus would be on the Pacific island nations with relatively weak countermeasures, Nikkei Asia revealed.

It includes sharing of signs and methods of attacks to deploy appropriate countermeasures.

Chinese Cyber Attacks

China is suspected of having targeted 200 Japanese organizations through cyber attacks, including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, according to the outlet.

Chinese military hackers have also reportedly been able to gain Japanese defense secrets.

Two Fronts in the Future of Drone Warfare


As reported at The Daily Beast: One of Mexico’s most violent cartels has just created its own elite unit of drone operators, a highly trained group of sicarios dedicated to tweaking commercial drones and turning them into flying bombs to use against rival cartels and Mexican authorities, according to U.S.-based security analysts, Mexican officials, and cartel members who spoke with The Daily Beast.

The ruthless Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG for its Spanish acronym) began weaponizing commercial drones more than four years ago, according to researchers and Mexican authorities. The creation of specialized drone units, however, indicates that the cartel is shifting its drone operations into high gear.

OODA Network Member John Sullivan was also quoted in The Daily Beast coverage:

“The significance of the institutionalization of weaponized aerial drones by criminal armed groups… can as a result present a more profound threat to the state and its security forces,” John P. Sullivan, researcher at C/O Futures, told The Daily Beast. “Future potentials might include targeting law enforcement and customs and border patrol officials on the frontier,” Sullivan said.

The Rise of OSINT: Few Rules, Many Opportunities


Today, with almost infinite sources and publicly available sensors, open-source intelligence (OSINT) collection has achieved high sophistication and allows, for example, the ability to follow battlefield movements in Ukraine in real time. While the practice has been refined since the days of phone books and news monitoring, the requirements to acquire and process information are ubiquitous and cheap. And the key factor behind this is artificial intelligence to collect and process material at speeds only recently imaginable.

U.S. law defines OSINT as “intelligence that is produced from publicly available information and is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement.”

The agencies working with OSINT are both law enforcement and intelligence. Law enforcement is where most rights activists have expressed their concern.

Currently, 80% to 90% of all intelligence activities carried out by Western law enforcement and national agencies is OSINT, according to a compilation paper by Riccardo Ghioni, Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi.

The activity touches various aspects of the law, and these changes depend on where the investigator and the target are located.

The state of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s breakout year

The latest annual McKinsey Global Survey on the current state of AI confirms the explosive growth of generative AI (gen AI) tools. Less than a year after many of these tools debuted, one-third of our survey respondents say their organizations are using gen AI regularly in at least one business function. Amid recent advances, AI has risen from a topic relegated to tech employees to a focus of company leaders: nearly one-quarter of surveyed C-suite executives say they are personally using gen AI tools for work, and more than one-quarter of respondents from companies using AI say gen AI is already on their boards’ agendas. What’s more, 40 percent of respondents say their organizations will increase their investment in AI overall because of advances in gen AI. The findings show that these are still early days for managing gen AI–related risks, with less than half of respondents saying their organizations are mitigating even the risk they consider most relevant: inaccuracy.

The organizations that have already embedded AI capabilities have been the first to explore gen AI’s potential, and those seeing the most value from more traditional AI capabilities—a group we call AI high performers—are already outpacing others in their adoption of gen AI tools.1

The expected business disruption from gen AI is significant, and respondents predict meaningful changes to their workforces. They anticipate workforce cuts in certain areas and large reskilling efforts to address shifting talent needs. Yet while the use of gen AI might spur the adoption of other AI tools, we see few meaningful increases in organizations’ adoption of these technologies. The percent of organizations adopting any AI tools has held steady since 2022, and adoption remains concentrated within a small number of business functions.

Open Source Software: Contributions , Challenges, and Future Prospects


As a software developer you should get into open-source because it’s the future of software development.


Open source software has fundamentally transformed the world of technology, sparking innovation, collaboration, and accessibility on an unprecedented scale. Imagine a world where software isn’t locked behind proprietary walls but is freely available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. This is the essence of open source software — a concept that has not only shaped the digital landscape but also democratized it.

In this article, we will delve into the world of open source software, unraveling its significance and exploring its intricate ecosystem. We will discuss the core principles of open source, the incredible contributions it has made to various industries, and the challenges it faces in sustaining its growth. Moreover, we will peer into the future of open source software, examining the emerging trends and technologies that promise to shape its trajectory.

As you read on, expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of open source software, its impact on the tech world, and the exciting prospects it holds for the future of software development. Whether you’re a seasoned developer, an enthusiast, or simply curious about the evolution of software, this article will provide valuable insights into a phenomenon that continues to shape our digital world.

Strategic Intelligence Analysis and Foreign Policy Surprises in Kautilya’s Arthashastra

Dheeraj P.C.

Why are nations surprised? National security surprises take the form of traditional military attacks such as the Pearl Harbor attacks (1941), the Yom Kippur War (1973), or the Kargil War (1999), or non-traditional surprises such as the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, 7/7, and 26/11, to name a few. How do nations guard against such surprises? Generic perception around the world points to better intelligence and forewarning. Indeed, intelligence bureaucracies around the world found their births owing to some form of military surprise. However, academic studies on strategic surprises remain divided between the inevitability of surprise versus its preventability owing to timely and precise intelligence. Where modern scholars have largely built their arguments on the postmortems of alleged intelligence failures and instances of strategic surprises, ancient Indian treatises on statecraft engaged this question at a theoretical level. Against this backdrop, this article presents a brief on Kautilya’s approach to strategic intelligence for foreign policymaking as espoused in the text—Arthashastra. Kautilya’s intellectual engagement with strategic intelligence is elaborate and cannot be captured entirely in this article. Therefore, what follows is a limited exposition on Kautilya’s ideas on intelligence analysis to avoid strategic surprises, extracted from a chapter of my book.

A simplistic answer that Kautilya would give to the problem posed above is to consider the inevitability of surprises and hence maximise power to achieve deterrence. Accordingly, a combination of the tangible (prabhava shakti) and the intangible (utsaha shakti) aspects of hard power is the best insurance against any enemy actions. However, in adequately utilising hard power, Kautilya emphasises another aspect of power called mantra shakti that is derived from knowledge and intellectual competence. It is in this realm that Kautilya believes that a state can and should do everything in its ability to both avoid being surprised as well as adroitly employ power towards maximisation of national interests. According to him, if the cause of the surprise is knowable, and hence, foreseeable, then it is a clear instance of intelligence failure. Such failures arise out of errors – human or structural – that ought to be rectified.

Buddhist Nationalism and Extremism in Myanmar and North America

Brenna Artinger

Across the global landscape, one does not expect to see images of Buddhist monks training pro-junta militias in Asia or practitioners spewing hateful Antisemitic and Islamophobic rhetoric online – but such scenes are not uncommon in recent years. While largely seen as a compassionate and peaceful religion across the world, Buddhism is also a source of nationalism, extremism, and violence. This article will focus on Buddhist nationalism and extremism in Myanmar and North America.

To begin I’d like to provide a brief technical note, as while I see nationalism and extremism as separate in their aims, it is clear that the goals of Buddhists in both of the countries/regions depicted in this article are to maintain an idealized version of the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha). By using the term Buddhist nationalism, I am referring to violence by individuals in predominantly Buddhist countries who are furthering and maintaining the religious identity of their state. Whereas, by using the term Buddhist extremism, I am referring to violence by largely (but not exclusively) Buddhist converts outside of Asia who feel that their personal and religious beliefs are being threatened. I argue that what unites both nationalism and extremism is a preservationist agenda, which seeks to prevent external influence from corrupting a religion that is seen as ‘pure.’

The first example or case study of Buddhist violence occurs in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar. Along the lines of religious affiliation, Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country with roughly 88% of the population identifying as Theravada Buddhist, and with minority religions Christianity and Islam making up 6% and 4% of the population, respectively. The history of Myanmar in recent centuries has been tumultuous and often dominated by conflict, beginning with three consecutive Anglo-Burmese Wars (from 1824-1885) and British colonial occupation from 1824 to 1948. More recent years have seen a military coup d’état wrestle control from the fledgling democratic government in early 2021, resulting in command by a military junta and the arrest of democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Half-Truth of Western Political Realism: A Buddhist Critique

William J. Long

The parable of the blind men and the elephant is one of the oldest in the Buddhist canon. In the story, a king has taken an elephant to his palace and requested the city’s blind men examine and describe the animal. One man, whose hand had landed on the trunk declares the elephant is like a thick snake, others, who felt the sides or legs describe it as a wall or a tree. Despite the partial “truth” captured by their subjective perceptions, they nonetheless misconstrue the elephant’s actual nature. So too, Western political realists, in describing a seemingly conflictual world of atomistic, materially real, self-interested states in anarchy, misunderstand the world as it actually exists. This fundamental failure to distinguish between their perception and reality, between the world as it appears versus the world as it exists—realism’s half-truth, if you will—is, ultimately, a delusion that helps perpetuate a world of conflict, war, and exclusion.

This article provides a Buddhist critique of Western political realism that maintains that the true nature of our existence—be it as individuals or states—is not as atomistic, independent entities. Instead, Buddhism claims our reality (including “ourselves”) is radically interdependent and impermanent. Further, when we realize this basic truth, our natural underlying social disposition is equanimity and altruism, not selfishness. Together, Buddhist ontology and understanding of human nature offer a different starting point for thinking about ourselves and the world we live in, one it characterizes as deeply interdependent and one where the prospects for political cooperation are far-reaching. A Buddhist critique of political realism counsels that the failure to appreciate the full extent of interdependence and our root nature is the ultimate source of all conflicts, up to and including interstate war, whereas an understanding of our radical interdependence and human potential is the key to imagining a different vision for politics.

AlphV group takes credit for ransomware attack on Georgia county

Jonathan Greig

One of the most active ransomware groups has taken credit for an attack earlier this year on a large county in Georgia about an hour away from Atlanta.

Forsyth County officials had acknowledged an attack in June, but offered few details about what happened. On Tuesday, the AlphV gang took credit for the attack and added the county to its leak site, threatening to expose 350GB of allegedly stolen data.

Russell Brown, director of the county’s Department of Communications, told Recorded Future News that earlier this year, the county “detected and contained” a ransomware attack on its network. Brown would not comment on whether AlphV was involved or whether a ransom will be paid.

“As soon as we learned of the cyber security incident, we began working to investigate, determine the effects of the incident and implement necessary efforts to protect the privacy and security of County residents and stakeholders,” Brown said.

“As we’ve continued to actively monitor this situation, we recently learned that an unauthorized party released some County information acquired from our network. We take this very seriously and are conducting a thorough analysis to determine what and whose information is potentially involved.”

Earth Estries Group Targets Government and IT Organizations

A new and ongoing cyberespionage campaign has been attributed to a lesser-known Earth Estries hacking group. Based on observations by Trend Micro, the attackers are using backdoors, information stealers, browser data stealers, and port scanners, among others, to enhance intrusion vectors.

Furthermore, researchers found that some TTPs used by Earth Estries overlapped with the FamousSparrow group.

About the campaign
  • Earth Estries uses DLL sideloading attacks and compromised accounts with administrative privileges to infect internal servers.
  • Consequently, the attackers deploy a Cobalt Strike beacon to distribute more malware and perform lateral movements.
  • The infection chain makes use of SMB and WMIC to propagate backdoors and hacking tools in the victims’ environment.
  • At the end of each round of operations, they archive the collected data from PDF and DDF files and upload them to online storage repositories AnonFiles or File[.]io.

Why DataOps needs orchestration to make it work

James Bourne

Data has long been the currency on which the enterprise operates – and it goes right to the very top. Analysts and thought leaders almost universally urge the importance of the CEO being actively involved in data initiatives. But what gets buried in the small print is the acknowledgement that many data projects never make it to production. In 2016, Gartner assessed it at only 15%.

The operationalisation of data projects has been a key factor in helping organisations turn a data deluge into a workable digital transformation strategy, and DataOps carries on from where DevOps started. But there is a further Gartner warning: organisations who lack a sustainable data and analytics operationalisation framework by 2024 will see their initiatives set back by up to two years.

Operationalisation needs good orchestration to make it work, as Basil Faruqui, director of solutions marketing at BMC, explains. “If you think about building a data pipeline, whether you’re doing a simple BI project or a complex AI or machine learning project, you’ve got data ingestion, data storage and processing, and data insight – and underneath all of those four stages, there’s a variety of different technologies being used,” explains Faruqui. “And everybody agrees that in production, this should be automated.”

OpenAI launches ChatGPT Enterprise to accelerate business operations

Ryan Daws 

OpenAI has unveiled ChatGPT Enterprise, a version of the AI assistant tailored for businesses seeking advanced capabilities and reliable performance.

The crux of its appeal lies in its enhanced features, including an impressive 32,000-token context window. This upgrade enables ChatGPT Enterprise to process extended pieces of text or hold prolonged conversations, allowing for more nuanced and comprehensive exchanges.

One of the most significant leaps forward is the elimination of usage limits. Enterprise users will enjoy unrestricted access to GPT-4 queries that are delivered at accelerated speeds, heralding a new era of streamlined interactions and rapid data analysis.

Jorge Zuniga, Head of Data Systems and Integrations at Asana, said:

“ChatGPT Enterprise has cut down research time by an average of an hour per day, increasing productivity for people on our team. It’s been a powerful tool that has accelerated testing hypotheses and improving our internal systems.”

Security-conscious businesses can rest assured as ChatGPT Enterprise boasts a robust security framework. Data encryption “at rest” and “in transit” ensures data privacy through AES 256 and TLS 1.2+ technologies respectively. Customer prompts and sensitive corporate data also remain untapped for OpenAI model training.