23 January 2018

The future belongs to biopharma. Can India catch up with China?


China and India together account for close to 40 per cent of the global population. They are among the three largest economies -- on a purchasing power parity or PPP basis -- in the world, and are the two fastest growing emerging economies in the world. They are also the two countries that will most likely be the world’s largest hubs for manufacturing biological drugs. It’s been evident for a decade now that biological drugs are the future of medicine. (A biopharmaceutical, also known as a biologic(al) medical product or a biological or a biologic, Wikipedia says is "any pharmaceutical drug product manufactured in, extracted from, or semisynthesised from biological sources -- therefore different from totally synthesized pharmaceuticals -- they include vaccines, blood, blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapies, living cells or tissues, recombinant therapeutic protein, and living cells used in cell therapy).

Five months on, understanding Doklam ‘disengagement’, a few other issues

Written by Sushant Singh 
Source Link

On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a clarification on Doklam: “It may be recalled that last year, the faceoff situation that had arisen in the Doklam region was resolved following diplomatic discussions between India and China, based on which both sides arrived at an understanding for the disengagement of their border personnel at the faceoff site.” The careful choice of words echoed the Ministry’s statement issued on August 28, 2017, when the “disengagement” ended the 73-day face-off in the Dolam plateau of Doklam area.

‘China pursuing missile defenses; Indian nukes are main worry’

By DOUG TSURUOKA EDITOR AT LARGE

India conducted a successful test of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a nuclear-capable Agni-5, on Thursday, underscoring a potential threat to China as well as Pakistan. China is also within range of nuclear-armed North Korean missiles and Japan is mulling whether it should develop similar capabilities. But there has been surprisingly little focus on Chinese efforts to develop a missile defense against these threats.

A Visit to One of China’s First Nuclear Weapons Plants

Chris Buckley and Adam Wu

China — Among the yak herds and Tibetan Buddhism prayer flags dotting the windswept highlands of northwestern China stand the ruins of a remote, hidden city that vanished from the maps in 1958.  The decaying clusters of workshops, bunkers and dormitories are remnants of Plant 221, also known as China’s Los Alamos. Here, on a mountain-high grassland called Jinyintan in Qinghai Province, thousands of Tibetan and Mongolian herders were expelled to create a secret town where a nuclear arsenal was built to defend Mao Zedong’s revolution. “It was totally secret, you needed an entry pass,” said Pengcuo Zhuoma, 56, a ruddy-faced ethnic Mongolian herder living next to an abandoned nuclear workshop, whose family once supplied meat and milk to the scientists. “Your mouth was clamped shut so you couldn’t talk about it.”

How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms

By ETHAN EPSTEIN 


Last year, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made an announcement to great fanfare: The university would soon open a branch of the Confucius Institute, the Chinese government-funded educational institutions that teach Chinese language, culture and history. The Confucius Institute would “help students be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly globalized world,” says Nancy Gutierrez, UNC Charlotte’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and “broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community,” according to a press release.

MAKE CHINA GREAT AGAIN: COMMUNIST PARTY SEEKS TO SEIZE ‘HISTORIC’ MOMENT TO RESHAPE WORLD ORDER

Nectar Gan

The world is in chaos, giving the Communist Party a “historic opportunity” to make China great again and reshape the world order – at least that was the message the party sought to drive home in a high-profile opinion piece in its flagship newspaper this week. needed China so much as it does now,” a commentary on Monday’s front page of People’s Daily asserted.
The world has never focused on China so much and needed China so much as it does now
The 5,500-word article is the latest rallying call for the country to unite around President Xi Jinping – its most powerful leader in decades – to rejuvenate China and achieve its global aspirations. Under Xi, Beijing has become more confident than ever in how it sees itself in the world. It has repeatedly vowed to take on more global responsibility and provide a “China solution” to the world’s woes, at a time when the United States under President Donald Trump is retreating from its global leadership role and Europe is distracted by Brexit.

Resource-hungry China is in overdrive as it wages water wars by stealth

Brahma Chellaney

China’s hyperactive dam building is a reminder that, while the international attention remains on its recidivist activities in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, it is also focusing quietly on other waters – of rivers that originate in Chinese-controlled territory like Tibet and flow to other countries. No country in history has built more dams than China. In fact, China today boasts more dams than the rest of the world combined. As part of its broader strategy to corner natural resources, China’s new obsession is freshwater, a life-creating and life-supporting resource whose growing shortages are casting a cloud over Asia’s economic future. Dams are integral to this strategy, although they have wreaked havoc on the natural ecosystems.

5 ways the Fourth Industrial Revolution transformed 2017 (and 5 ways it did not)

Nicholas Davis, Anne Marie Engtoft Larsen,

In a fast-paced world it can be difficult to see the big changes even as they unfold in front of us. Looking back at 2017, in what ways did emerging technologies significantly impact the world in the past 12 months? We found five signposts indicating that the Fourth Industrial Revolution indeed transformed our lives and societies in 2017 — and five areas where transformations are yet to come.

1. Ethics: addressing biases and assumptions in technologies

President Trump's New Defense Strategy Is a Return to the Cold War

By W.J. HENNIGAN

President Donald Trump is bracing the Pentagon for a long-term, strategic competition with the world’s major powers that puts the U.S. military on a Cold War footing with Russia and China for the foreseeable future, the administration said on Friday. The National Defense Strategy, set to be rolled out by Defense Secretary James Mattis at John Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, directs the U.S. government to engage in a multi-year build-up of the military involving more troops, more weapons and stronger foreign alliances. he document, which serves as the Administration’s roadmap for global security, says China and Russia aim to upend the global hierarchy that the United States has sat atop of since World War II. The strategy serves as the latest sign the Administration wants to pivot from the morass of violence and counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East to intensify great power competitions in the western and eastern hemispheres.

Tracking Global Terrorism In 2018


In some ways "the global jihadist movement" is a misleading phrase. Rather than the monolithic threat it describes, jihadism more closely resembles a worldwide insurgency with two competing standard-bearers: al Qaeda and the Islamic State. To make matters more complicated, grassroots extremists have been known to take inspiration from each group's ideology - and, in some cases, both. This complex network of international organizations, local militancies and individual adherents cannot be dismantled by simply killing its members and leaders one by one. Instead, governments around the globe will have to split off local groups from the Islamic State and al Qaeda ideologies they have chosen to adopt and tackle them separately using the principles of counterinsurgency if the jihadist movement is to be eradicated once and for all.
Al Qaeda: Surviving Under Pressure

Really? We’re Gonna Nuke Russia for a Cyberattack?

By GEORGE PERKOVICH 

The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times contained an alarming headline: “Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms.” The article, by David Sanger and William Broad, reported on a leaked draft of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which determines what the role of nuclear weapons should be. This draft departs from previous posture reviews by broadening the range of attacks that could trigger a massive U.S. retaliation, including with nuclear weapons.

Containing Russia, Again

By Robert D. Blackwill and Philip H. Gordon
Source Link

With each passing week, the evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—and in U.S. politics and society more generally—grows. Since at least 2014, in an effort to influence the election and undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, Russia has hacked private American citizens’ and organizations’ computers to steal information; released that information in ways designed to affect electoral outcomes and divide Americans; planted and disseminated disinformation in U.S. social media, through its own state-funded and -controlled media networks and by deploying tens of thousands of bloggers and bots; cooperated with Americans, possibly including members of Donald Trump’s campaign, to discredit Trump’s opponent in the election; and probed election-related computer systems in multiple states. We will never know for certain whether Russia’s intervention changed the outcome of the 2016 election. The point is that it tried.

Inside a European Center to Combat Russia’s Hybrid Warfare

BY REID STANDISH
Source Link

HELSINKI — Located in an unassuming office building filled with boardrooms, lecture halls, and projectors in the Finnish capital, a new entity under the joint auspices of the European Union and NATO was founded with a herculean mission. Tasked with a 1.5 million euro budget, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats was created to find new ways to defend against hybrid warfare: the blending of diplomacy, politics, media, cyberspace, and military force to destabilize and undermine an opponent’s government.

Age of Ignorance


Charles Simic

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit. 

Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Patter

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Lake Urmia, in northwestern Iran, has diminished by nearly 90 percent since the early 1970s. In each country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war. Protestors in Tehran on Jan. 5. “Water is not going to bring down the government,” one analyst said. “But it’s a component — in some towns, a significant component — of grievances and frustrations.” In the era of climate change, their experiences hold lessons for a great many other countries. The World Resources Institute warned this month of the rise of water stress globally, “with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040.”

A Tough National Defense Strategy

By MARK CANCIAN

The National Defense Strategy, released this morning, may be the single most important document penned by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It encapsulates the Trump Administration’s defense policies in one place for the first time and provides guidance for the 2019 defense budget, to be released in a few weeks. That budget will mark the administration’s first chance to shape the defense budget from the beginning and will set the stage for the rest of the Trump Administration. Mark Cancian, who used to build defense budgets at the Office of Management and Budget and now works for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, got a detailed briefing yesterday at the Pentagon about the NDS. (Hint: Check the last paragraph.) He offers our readers this exclusive look inside the strategy. Read on! The Editor.

Infographic Of The Day: The 10 Companies That Dominate The Global Arms Trade

The world puts $1.69 trillion towards military expenditures per year, and about $375 billion of that goes towards buying arms specifically.Whether it is guns, tanks, jets, missiles, or ships that are on your shopping list, in the international arms community, there is a supplier for any weapon your country desires.

Artificial Intelligence: the impact on employment and the workforce


Although Artificial Intelligence dramatically improves our world in many ways, there are notable concerns regarding the forthcoming impact of A.I. on employment and the workforce. There are predictions talking about millions of unemployed people in the next decades — primarily due to the impact of Intelligent Automation and A.I. systems. In any case, the entire socioeconomic system is entering a phase of accelerating transformation: markets, businesses, education, government, social welfare and employment models will be severely impacted.

Future shocks: 10 emerging risks that threaten our world

Alex Gray
Source Link

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, we asked ourselves one question over and over again: why didn’t we see it coming? It rocked the global economy and threatened to destroy the financial systems that we rely on. Ten years on, some countries are still picking up the pieces. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018 says that, in our increasingly complex and interconnected world, this type of shock may become more likely.

Four new ‘superpowers’ changing our world

Pat Gelsinger, Chief Executive Officer, VMware Inc.

The term ‘superpowers’ conjures an image of major nations shaping the course of global history. But in the digital era, I believe it’s time we expanded that definition to include four extraordinary technological superpowers that promise to wield as much influence over the next 20 years as any nation state: mobile technology, the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT).

Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble


The sequence of words is meaningless: a random array strung together by an algorithm let loose in an English dictionary. What makes them valuable is that they’ve been generated exclusively for me, by a software tool called MetaMask. In the lingo of cryptography, they’re known as my seed phrase. They might read like an incoherent stream of consciousness, but these words can be transformed into a key that unlocks a digital bank account, or even an online identity. It just takes a few more steps. On the screen, I’m instructed to keep my seed phrase secure: Write it down, or keep it in a secure place on your computer. I scribble the 12 words onto a notepad, click a button and my seed phrase is transformed into a string of 64 seemingly patternless characters:

From CES: The sea is alive with cheap, powerful robots — and that will be dangerous

By: Kelsey Atherton  
Source Link

To walk the halls at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is to be bombarded by the most cloying vision of the future. Robots that dance in sequence! Segway inspired suitcases that walk behind harried travelers! Virtual reality goggles that show tiny imaginary battles over geodoes! Amidst the audio-visual assault of the show floor, there was a trend in consumer robotics that I think is worth following: underwater robots are here, and plentiful, and will likely only get better and cheaper in the years to come. Some of the advancement in underwater robotics will be custom-built for military clients, like the Boeing Echo Seeker. Other sea robots will likely have dual-use bodies, like whatever underwater scout comes from the early tests of the MantaDroid that I wrote about in a prior piece.

Congressional budget skirmishes won’t halt cyber issues

By: Jessie Bur 
Source Link

Worries that the government may shut down Friday at midnight have dominated the airwaves, but everything around Washington hasn’t been mired in deadlock. Federal agencies’ cyberspace policies and posture have seen a lot of activity in the past week, and there will be ramifications regardless of whether Congress manages to avert a Jan. 19 shutdown. Here’s a roundup of the biggest cyber stories: Kaspersky filed a preliminary injunction to counter DHS ban: Kaspersky Lab filed a preliminary injunction in U.S. federal court on Jan. 17, 2018, over the Department of Homeland Security’s binding operational directive banning the product’s use in government agencies.

Discovered: New Malware Espionage Campaign Infecting Thousands Around the World

Electronic Frontier Foundation

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security company Lookout have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign infecting thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Hundreds of gigabytes of data has been stolen, primarily through mobile devices compromised by fake secure messaging clients.The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.

Why mobiles could be key to solving humanitarian crises

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald

As the months of 2017 went by it became clear that the scale of humanitarian disasters was outpacing the international community’s ability to respond. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are some 130 million people globally in need of humanitarian assistance. Devastating storms in the Caribbean and protracted conflicts in countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Syria and South Sudan means need for support has never been greater. A combination of innovative thinking and greater corporate engagement will be game-changers in our ability to care for the world’s most vulnerable people in the years ahead.

Data that enables rapid response

22 January 2018

What’s Next for India’s Space Program?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

By all accounts, India’s space program had a stellar 2017. That was capped with its latest launch last Friday of India’s hundredth satellites, along with 30 other satellites, on board its workhorse space rocket: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40). Almost a year ago, in February 2017, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had launched 104 satellites on a single PSLV rocket, a world record. Last Friday’s launch included a Cartosat-2 earth observation satellite, along with 30 other micro- and nano-satellites from six different countries. These achievements have been warmly praised by India’s leaders, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeting his congratulations to the ISRO.

India Tests Ballistic Missile, Posing New Threat to China

By KAI SCHULTZ and HARI KUMAR

NEW DELHI — India tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons on Thursday, paving the way for membership to a small list of countries with access to intercontinental missiles and putting most of China in its reach.The ballistic missile, called Agni 5, was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, off Odisha State in eastern India on Thursday morning, traveling for around 19 minutes and 3,000 miles. In a statement, the Indian Ministry of Defense said that all objectives of the mission had been “successfully met.” The firing of the Agni-5 comes months after the official end of a standoffbetween China and India over a remote sliver of land in the Himalayas, a squabble that lasted for more than two months and that was one of the worst border disputes between the countries in 30 years. The launch also comes during a tense period in India’s troubled relationship with Pakistan, its nuclear-armed neighbor.

India’s missing middle class


THE arrival of T.N. Srinath into the middle class will take place in style, atop a new Honda Activa 4G scooter. Fed up with Mumbai’s crowded commuter trains, the 28-year-old insurance clerk will become the first person in his family to own a motor vehicle. Easy credit means the 64,000 rupees ($1,000) he is paying a dealership in central Mumbai will be spread over two years. But the cost will still gobble up over a tenth of his salary. It will be much dearer than a train pass, he says, with pride.

How ISIS’ Strategy Is Evolving

By Michael P. Dempsey

Over the course of 2017, the Islamic State (or ISIS) suffered defeat after devastating defeat at the hands of the United States and its allies, culminating in the seizure last October of the group’s declared capital of Raqqa, Syria. As of today, the group controls no major population center in either Iraq or Syria. Yet this does not mean that ISIS no longer poses a significant danger. With the end of the physical caliphate, ISIS’ tactics are evolving. It is more and more likely to avoid major battlefield engagements and instead resort to terrorist attacks in the Middle East, other conflict zones, and the West. U.S. policy needs to change quickly to meet the evolving threat, both in terms of its operations in the region and of its counterterrorism priorities at home.

The Pakistan Problem: Why America Can't Easily Cut Ties with Islamabad

Javid Ahmad
Source Link

Last week brought a new low for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship that began with a stormy tweet message from the U.S. president, citing Pakistan’s deceitfulness in fighting terrorism. Following the tweet, the United States unveiled a string of measures that made a clear distinction about how the Trump administration no longer views Pakistan as an imperfect friend, but as a clever enemy. The new measures included a suspension of U.S. security assistance to Pakistan, comprising $255 million in Foreign Military Financing and as much as $900 million in the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). On top of that, the State Department placed Pakistan on a severe watch list for religious freedom violations, all while Sen. Rand Paul vowed to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate to cut all aid to Pakistan. In response, Pakistan’s foreign minister furiously declared that there was no alliance between the two countries and that the United States has been a “friend who always betrays.”

Taliban Fighters Using High-Tech Gear Kill Afghan Forces

By NAJIM RAHIM 

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents using sophisticated night vision and laser targeting equipment overran Afghan Army positions near the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding five more, Afghan officials said. The officials blamed what they said was a Taliban Red Unit, an insurgent formation that has increasingly featured in attacks on government positions, especially at night. “The unit is equipped with American weapons and night vision,” said Imamuddin Rahmani, a spokesman for the police in Kunduz. “The Red Unit carried out several attacks on check posts in Kunduz, captured the check posts and killed several soldiers. The Red Unit is a headache for security forces in Kunduz.”

Despite Two-Child Families, China’s Birthrate Falls


The birthrate in China fell last year despite the country easing its family planning policies and allowing all couples to have two children, a result parents say of the stresses of urban life.
There were 17.2 million births in the country last year, down from 17.9 million in 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday. With almost 1.4 billion people, China has the world’s largest population but it is aging fast even before reaching its expected peak of 1.45 billion in 2029. China changed its longstanding one-child policy in 2015 in hopes of increasing the size of the younger working population that will eventually have to support their elders. The number of births rose nearly 8 percent in 2016, with nearly half of the babies born to couples who already had a child.

Don't judge China with a fossilised mindset


'There is no Buddha or Gandhi among countries, existing for the service of others; they all exist for the good of themselves.' 'For each country, its own interests should be paramount, and it is futile and churlish to expect China to be an exception to this rule,' says B S Raghavan, the distinguished civil servant and long-time China-watcher. People's Liberation Army soldiers at a drill in Beijing. Ever since China rediscovered itself after the first few decades of tottering during the Great Helmsman's regime and began reaping the abundant benefits of 'market socialism', taking its place alongside the world's most advanced economies, it has rolled out a series of innovative blockbusters in the domain of foreign policy.

China Forces Big Tech to Make a Choice: Play By Beijing’s Rules, or Be Left Out

Zach Montague

When WhatsApp users in China started noticing technical problems with the mobile messaging application this past September, nothing seemed unusual at first. The slow sending speeds and inability to deliver video and audio files could have easily been due to a spotty internet connection or a bug. Many users in China had experienced such issues before; these were usually limited and localized, and they were resolved in a matter of days. But there was also the possibility of government tampering. A few years earlier, in 2014, users of Gmail and other email services in China had reported similar problems, right up until these services were banned outright.

China’s Bid to Upend the Global Oil Market

BY KEITH JOHNSON
Source Link

Sometime soon, after the close of the Chinese New Year, officials in Shanghai will flip the switch and start trading in an arcane new financial product — one that could presage a huge shift in global energy markets and advance China’s quest to play a bigger role in the global economy. After years of false starts, a long-awaited Chinese oil futures contract will make its debut on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, likely in late March. It will be the first crude oil benchmark in Asia, which is important because that’s where oil consumption is growing the most. And it will be the first contract priced in Chinese currency, known as the renminbi or yuan. Currently, the main global benchmarks for crude oil are in New York and London — and priced in dollars.

China Wants To Dominate The World's Green Energy Markets - Here's Why

by Chris G. Pope

If there is to be an effective response to climate change, it will probably emanate from China. The geopolitical motivations are clear. Renewable energy is increasingly inevitable, and those that dominate the markets in these new technologies will likely have the most influence over the development patterns of the future. As other major powers find themselves in climate denial or atrophy, China may well boost its power and status by becoming the global energy leader of tomorrow. President Xi Jinping has been vocal on the issue. He has already called for an “ecological civilization". The state’s “green shift" supports this claim by striving to transition to alternative energies and become more energy efficient.

Trump’s Iran Reset

WILLIAM J. BURNS, JAKE SULLIVAN
Source Link

Recent protests across Iran offer a new opportunity for American policy — just not the one to which President Trump is instinctively drawn. Over the next few days, the president has to decide whether to continue the nuclear deal with Iran. Trump and his team may be tempted to argue that abiding by the deal while the Iranian government cracks down on protesters is a fool’s errand. But that would amount to a strategic own goal. It would make the issue about us, not the vulnerability and wounded legitimacy of a regime out of touch with its people. It would also miss the real policy opportunity before us — to renew international pressure against the Iranian leadership’s threats to the region and its people, while still constraining its nuclear ambitions. The Trump administration could reset its Iran policy in a way that puts Washington back in the lead and Tehran on the diplomatic defensive.

Embracing the New Age of Automation

CHRISTOPHER PISSARIDES , JACQUES BUGHIN

With rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence in recent years, many are worried about a jobless future and sky-high levels of inequality. But the large-scale technologically driven shift currently underway should be welcomed, and its adverse effects should be managed with proactive policies to reinvest in workers. LONDON – Ever since early-nineteenth-century textile workers destroyed the mechanical looms that threatened their livelihoods, debates over automation have conjured gloom-and-doom scenarios about the future of work. With another era of automation upon us, how nervous about the future of our own livelihoods should we be?

THE METHOD IN NORTH KOREA’S MADNESS – COMMENTARY MAGAZINE


The comment highlighted in blue below is by/from Col. (Ret.) David Maxwell & his contact info is at the bottom of this page. RCP, fortunascorner.com Full disclosure: I am one of those who seriously underestimated North Korea’s resilience in the 1990s. Twenty years ago, I would have thought it almost unimaginable for the North Korean state to survive to this day. Needless to say, subsequent events have proved otherwise, and studying my own mistakes has led to the analysis under way here.

Europe Turns to Russia, and Elsewhere, to Meet Rising Gas Demand in 2017


In 2017, Europe imported a record amount of natural gas: Russia’s exports rose by 8 percent, reaching an all-time high; Norwegian pipeline exports reached an all-time high as well, up 7 percent; pipeline imports from North Africa were slightly down, but imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose by 16 percent—but still below their 2011 peak. Higher imports came largely from higher demand. After a decade of almost steady decline, gas demand in Europe has risen three years now—a major reversal. Europe pulled in more gas from most major suppliers since there are no longer any systematic differences in pricing among them. Invariably, the headline take-away is likely that Europe became more dependent on Russian gas, which is true but also beside the point. The real take-away is that demand rose—and that a continent that will rely more on gas needs to remove the final obstacles in the way of a fully functioning internal market.

Containing Russia, Again

By Robert D. Blackwill and Philip H. Gordon

With each passing week, the evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—and in U.S. politics and society more generally—grows. Since at least 2014, in an effort to influence the election and undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, Russia has hacked private American citizens’ and organizations’ computers to steal information; released that information in ways designed to affect electoral outcomes and divide Americans; planted and disseminated disinformation in U.S. social media, through its own state-funded and -controlled media networks and by deploying tens of thousands of bloggers and bots; cooperated with Americans, possibly including members of Donald Trump’s campaign, to discredit Trump’s opponent in the election; and probed election-related computer systems in multiple states. We will never know for certain whether Russia’s intervention changed the outcome of the 2016 election. The point is that it tried.

Climate-driven Migration in Africa

By Stefano Torelli

Europe is underestimating the primary cause of migration from sub-Saharan Africa: climate change. Environmental changes have a particularly pronounced impact on migration from Africa for at least four reasons: the continent is highly dependent on natural resources and agriculture, which are the first assets to be undermined by climate change; it has poor infrastructure, such as flood defences; its states are often characterized by weak institutions, which are less able to adapt to climate change; and its high poverty rate undermines the resilience of local populations to climate shocks.

Inside a European Center to Combat Russia’s Hybrid Warfare

BY REID STANDISH
Source Link

HELSINKI — Located in an unassuming office building filled with boardrooms, lecture halls, and projectors in the Finnish capital, a new entity under the joint auspices of the European Union and NATO was founded with a herculean mission. Tasked with a 1.5 million euro budget, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats was created to find new ways to defend against hybrid warfare: the blending of diplomacy, politics, media, cyberspace, and military force to destabilize and undermine an opponent’s government.

Trade Deficits: Live by the Sword…?


The end of the year brings with it the announcement of the annual trade deficit. There is always a lag, so we will not see the full 2017 results until February, but in the meantime, we got a strong hint about them via the release of November 2017 data. That showed a trade deficit of $50.5 billion, a 3.2 percent increase and the highest since January 2012. For the first 11 months of the year, it was $513 billion, 11 percent more than the same period in 2016. Now if you’re an economist, you would probably say that’s a good thing because it means that growth is picking up. Indeed, the last time our deficit shrank significantly was during the recent great recession. If you think about it, the relationship is obvious—a recession means declining growth, lower employment, and consumer retrenchment. People postpone buying things or pass them by altogether. If you look at unemployment data over the years you can see it correlates inversely with the trade deficit.

Waiting for Skynet


This is an expanded version of an essay originally written for the National Intelligence Council. Computers were invented to augment human performance. They are powerful tools, but even as processing speeds increase and algorithms grow more sophisticated, these machines still cannot “think.” Eventually this will change. A group of leading scientists and public figures signed an open letter warning of the dangers of this moment. One famous scientist warned that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” This kind of fear is not new. 1920 saw the first drama where evil robots take over the world. A group of distinguished scientists warned President Johnson in 1964 that “cybernation” (the mix of computing and automation) would destroy jobs and create widespread poverty. Yet robots do not rule the world and fifty years of computer automation has not made Americans poorer.

The urgency of shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

In the 47 years since I founded the World Economic Forum, I have witnessed first-hand that when we change the way we talk, we begin to think differently too. Likewise, changing the way we think leads to changes in the way we act. This is true for all of us — whether you are a private citizen at home or making consequential decisions as a head of government, the language we use and the way we think about the world shapes our subsequent behaviour. The shift in attitudes and approaches toward shaping the environment agenda over the last decade is quite a good example of this. When, in 2005, the World Economic Forum began to advance cross-sector dialogue and highlight the potential for public-private cooperation to help meet pressing global environmental challenges, such as climate change and water security, there was an absence of substantive collaboration among influential stakeholders on these sorts of issues. People tended to talk about and act on environmental challenges in quite separate ways, depending if they were working in government, business or civil society organizations, for example.

Game Changer – Cyber Security in the Naval Domain

By Ralph Thiele
Source Link

The systems and networks naval forces must protect are complex and large in size. Ships are increasingly using systems that rely on digitization, integration, and automation. Offensive actors understand the naval reliance on communications, ISR, and visualization technologies, and perceive them as vulnerable to disruption and exploitation. Cyber has been moving from a supportive to a rather active role within an operational force. With today’s rapidly evolving threats, naval forces are well advised to develop a sense of urgency not only to develop cyber resilience capabilities that will enable them to “fight through”, but also cyber warfighting capabilities as these will be particularly valuable when they can be delivered reliably and in concert with other capabilities.

Op-ed: Has cyber warfare reached the age of limitation?

By: Matthew Botsford
Source Link

A senior executive arrived for work at Sony pictures and found her desktop computer had a random and slightly strange picture on her front page as she tried to log in. She sighed to herself and then reached for the phone to call the IT desk. But this was not a Ctrl-Alt-Del day, this was a hack. The “Guardians of Peace” left skulls on her desktop as the final piece of a jigsaw they started building a year before hand. This was the culminating point of a well planned operation with a clear purpose in mind. As we all know now, Sony was knee deep in a cyber conflict and what she didn’t know was that this would outgrow Sony pictures. This cyber-salvo was fired because Sony was intending to release a film on someone assassinating the North Korean leader. The anonymous hackers had broken in to Sony’s system and had erased terabytes of information including actual (unreleased) commercial footage. Sony was given an ultimatum; stop the film release or the digital attack would be followed by a physical attack in cinemas. Sony conceded. The US’s first amendment was in trouble and the instigators, aka The Guardians of Peace, had won.

Landline Phones Are A Dying Breed

by Felix Richter
Source Link

In 2004, more than 90 percent of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone - now it’s (significantly) less than 50 percent. That’s according to data provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which has been tracking phone ownership in the U.S. as a by-product of its biannual National Health Interview Survey since 2004. If the trend continues at the current pace, and there’s little reason to believe it won’t, landline phones could soon become an endangered species, much like the VCR and other technological relics before it.

Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requires an Enterprise Integration Approach


Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) have quickly emerged as mainstay assets in the arsenals of many adversaries. Though the United States military has historically led many advancements in UAS technology, recently the rapid commercialization of these devices combined with their inexpensiveness, availability and versatility have allowed even the most poorly-resourced adversaries to acquire them. Due to their relative size, composite materials and quiet operation, traditional force protection measures often cannot detect UASs. These attributes and the variety of threats they can introduce have made UASs formidable obstacles for government and military organizations.