8 August 2022

Xi Jinping’s $920 Billion Venture Capital Push Has a Dark Side

Shuli Ren

China’s industrial policy seems to have fans across the Pacific. The US’s $280 billion Chips and Science Act is a direct response from the Biden administration to Beijing’s spending to help key industries. But just as the likes of Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. jostle for a slice of US government support, the perils of relying upon public money are sending shock waves through China’s chip industry.

In recent days, corruption investigations have engulfed top officials in a sector that is integral to President Xi Jinping’s “Made in China 2025” ambitions. At least three senior executives from a $20 billion state-owned private equity fund, set up in 2014 to invest mainly in chip manufacturing, were detained; so was Xiao Yaqing, the head of the agency in charge of the nation’s industrial policy and the most senior sitting cabinet official ensnared in a disciplinary probe in almost four years.

Observations from the Donbas Front Line


Colonel (Retired) Lee Van Arsdale and Daniel Rice

To the American military eye, the first impression of the Ukrainian Army is that it’s more a quasi-uniformed biker gang than an army. An occasional pony tail, many beards in various stages of maturity, a variety of mixed uniforms, and footwear that ranges from combat boots to flip flops. However, this impression would be dead wrong. To an individual, these are totally committed Soldiers. Life on the front line is anything but easy, but the dedication and love of country is universal. There is an easy camaraderie, and all tasks are performed with professional efficiency. From the commanding general to the brigade and battalion commanders, to the front line troops, this is a dedicated, motivated, war hardened army.

Few reporters have been to the front lines of the Russian - Ukrainian war in the east. For very good reason. The drive from Krakow to the Donbas is a challenging 18 hour experience, through Lviv, then Kyiv, and finally far out east on the Plains where the war is raging in an artillery dual. The brigade we were with, the 68th, has some mortars, which only have a range of about 4 kilometers. The Russian artillery has a far greater range, which obviously puts the Ukrainians at a severe disadvantage.

Media credits Biden for al Qaeda leader's death after attacking Trump for similar counterterror ops

Aaron Kliegman

The mainstream media is crediting President Biden for authorizing a U.S. drone strike that killed longtime al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri over the weekend, in sharp contrast to how the press attacked then-President Trump after he authorized operations to kill the leaders of two U.S.-designated terrorist organizations in 2019 and 2020.

Biden on Monday announced the death of Zawahiri, who had been the top leader of al Qaeda since 2011 and before then served as Osama bin Laden's second-in-command.

"Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said in his televised announcement. "We made it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out."

Zawahiri was widely considered both the intellectual and ideological force behind al Qaeda, with some experts dubbing him the "operational brains" behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

United States Seeking Alternatives to Chinese Cobalt

Sean Carberry
Source Link

The Periodic Table is packed with elements of critical importance to U.S. economic and national security. From lithium to iron to uranium, the nation needs a steady diet of minerals and metals, and few are as challenging to source as number 27: cobalt.

The bluish-gray metal’s widest use today is in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries, which proliferate in commercial and military devices.

Cobalt also serves the Defense Department in temperature-resistant alloys for jet engines, in magnets — used for things like stealth technology and electronic warfare — and alloys used in munitions.

And like so many materials and commodities today, China controls the bulk of the global cobalt supply.

WARNING: China Poised To Invade Taiwan’s Offshore Islands

Lawrence Sellin

Quemoy and Matsu, officially known as the Kinmen and Lienchiang Counties respectively, are groups of islands located directly off the coast of mainland Communist China, but are under the administration of the Republic of China, Taiwan.

In the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the People’s Republic of China shelled the islands of Quemoy and Matsu Islands in part to probe the extent of the United States’ defense of Taiwan’s territory.

During the 1960 Presidential campaign between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon, the defense of Taiwan, as represented by Quemoy and Matsu, became a major issue during three of their debates.

A Campaign Plan for the South China Sea

Captain Joshua Taylor

If China is engaging in a maritime insurgency to impose its rule within its illegitimate claim to the nine-dash line in the South China Sea, what ought the United States do about it? To enable allies and partners to withstand and expose Chinese coercion and fully assert their sovereignty at sea, U.S. maritime forces must think, act, and operate differently, in a deliberate campaign proportionate in response and duration to that of the opponent.

The current U.S. approach to China’s maritime insurgency is succinctly characterized as episodic high-end presence. Ongoing freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) and intermittent challenges to the most blatant instances of maritime coercion typify this approach. Rather than reassuring allies and partners, however, these activities sometimes alarm them, because FONOPs raise concerns that the United States is disproportionately “militarizing” the situation by employing high-end assets to deter a low-end threat.1 Further undercutting U.S. efforts, allies and partners may perceive episodic presence as strategic unreliability, which feeds into China’s narrative that the United States is an undependable partner that stirs up trouble and then sails away. The solution to this paradox is to balance episodic high-end operations with persistent low-end presence to deter escalation, bolster partner nation capacity, and catalyze regional will to oppose China’s coercive maritime activities.

If War Comes to Space, Who Will Control US Spy Satellites?

TARA COPP

The National Reconnaissance Office controls some of the most advanced sensing capabilities in space, which are integrated into the military’s own space intelligence capabilities.

But there’s still a division between intelligence and military operations, and two years into the U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force’s existence, there’s not a clear answer as to what would happen in a conflict that included space, and whether the combatant commander for space would lead the decision-making process

“That's something we're working through,” National Reconnaissance Office director Christopher Scolese said Thursday during a Mitchell Institute discussion.

The NRO gets its direction on how to prioritize its satellite taskings—which can detect and track missile launches or provide ground intelligence to commanders—from the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Scolese said. While those agencies take in requests from the combatant commanders, sometimes the agencies have different priorities.

Russia counterattacks in its economic war with the West

Ido Vock

BERLIN – Since February, the West has waged what amounts to economic warfare on Russia, using what the political theorists Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman have called “weaponised interdependence” between countries in a globalised world.

Western sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine have been among the most far-reaching in recent history. Fitch, a credit ratings agency, forecasts that the Russian economy will contract 12.5 per cent this year as a result, which would be the country’s largest recession since 1994.

Now Russia is counterattacking, using virtually the only sector where Western countries significantly depend on it: energy.

Strategic Export Controls Are Quietly Frustrating China’s Ambitions

Min-Hua Chiang

China’s largest chipmaker, SMIC, has acquired advanced semiconductor technology and is now producing 7-nanometer chips. It’s a big leap forward, but it’s important to keep the development in some perspective.

Beijing is pursuing several strategies to lessen its dependence on foreign technology. And when it comes to boosting domestic production of critical semiconductor chips, no company is more important than SMIC.

But Washington has refused to play ball – at least at the highest levels of technology. Concerned about China’s increasingly aggressive behavior and how that threatens both regional stability and national security, the U.S. has been pushing back against Beijing’s broader strategic ambitions for several years.

In 2020, a few months after security concerns led the Trump administration to prohibit U.S. producers from selling chips to Huawei, the Commerce Department placed restrictions on sales to SMIC. Like Huawei, SMIC has close relations with People’s Liberation Army. Its chips are essential to China’s military development and build-up. To confine Beijing’s burgeoning military capacity, Washington deemed it necessary to control exports to SMIC.

The Pelosi Visit To Taiwan: No War, But Not Good For America

Robert Farley

The United States Speaker of the House left her one-day visit to Taiwan that went counter to express and committed wishes of the People’s Republic of China. Concerns over whether Pelosi’s visit would incur immediate military reaction seem, for the moment, to have been overblown. However, the impact of the visit in the medium- and the long-term do not appear to have been carefully considered.

At this very moment, the apparatus of American foreign policy does not require an additional crisis, which Pelosi’s visit at the very least risked triggering.

Let’s Be Realistic

Many of the justifications for Pelosi’s trip have centered around the right of politically relevant U.S. citizens to visit Taiwan, the right of Taiwan to host U.S. political officials, and in general the need for democracies to push back against the growing global strength of autocracy. Indeed, Pelosi has described the reasoning for her visit in such terms. For her part, the Speaker has long had a troubled relationship with the CCP, having criticized Beijing on the grounds of human rights and its ongoing occupation of Tibet.

Stop Stock Piling, Start Developing

Stephanie Halcrow

COVID-19 highlighted the importance of a robust and resilient supply chain. Suddenly, Americans were personally aware of the impact of supply chains interruptions in everyday items like toilet paper. The importance of the supply chain for strategic and critical materials is not as well appreciated. Even less appreciated is our country’s dependence on foreign sources for these strategic and critical materials in everyday items like cell phones, vehicles, and even microchips. Imagine a scenario where cell phones and vehicles were as scare as toilet paper was in 2020.

This is not a new problem. In 1939, Congress determined certain strategic and critical materials in the United States were deficient for common defense. Congress directed not only the acquisition of stocks but also encouraged the development of mines to decrease the “dangerous and costly dependence” on foreign nations. Congress gave responsibility for the acquisition of stocks to the Secretary of War (now the Secretary of Defense) and the responsibility of the “development, mining, preparation, treatment, and utilization of ores” to the Secretary of the Interior. Over time, Title 50 was amended placing responsibility of these efforts with the President who was charged with making “scientific, technologic, and economic investigations concerning the development, mining, preparation, treatment, and utilization” for new domestic sources of supply. Even with this elevation of responsibility, the United States is more reliant on foreign sources of strategic and critical materials than it was 83 years ago.

Will Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh Clashes Lead to War?

Mark Episkopos

Deadly clashes have erupted in the Nagorno-Karabakh region over one year after the signing of a fragile Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Azerbaijan said on Wednesday that its forces suppressed an Armenian attack near the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accused Armenian forces of killing a soldier in an act of sabotage and attempting to seize territory controlled by Russian peacekeepers, according to Reuters. "We emphasize that the reason for the recent tension is the presence of illegal Armenian armed troops in the territories of Azerbaijan," Baku claimed.

Armenia has rejected Baku’s framing of the clashes, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claiming there are no Armenian servicemen in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. "Today, Azerbaijan is talking about the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army and the reasons why it is deployed along the line of disengagement. If Russia’s peacekeeping contingent and Azerbaijan provide guarantees of this line’s inviolability, the defense army, I believe, will not have to remain on combat duty. Also, I officially declare that there are no military servicemen from Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh," he said.

Zawahiri’s Death and What’s Next for al Qaeda


In the early morning hours of Sunday, July 31, 2022, a CIA-operated remote piloted aircraft fired two Hellfire missiles at a house in Kabul, Afghanistan. The lone victim of the strike was confirmed to be al Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was living with his family in a safe house approximately two miles from the site of the former U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Despite two decades of relentless counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda’s core leadership, Zawahiri’s death paves the way for only the second leadership transition in the group’s four-decade history. This CSIS Critical Questions evaluates the implications of Zawahiri’s death for al Qaeda and the global salafi-jihadist movement, for the de facto Taliban government that provided him refuge, and for the future of U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Q1: How is al Qaeda’s senior leadership expected to evolve in the wake of Zawahiri’s death?

A1: The death of Ayman al-Zawahiri raises an immediate question of who will take over the position of al Qaeda emir and how the organization will manage this transition. Despite al Qaeda’s long history, Zawahiri’s death prompts only the second leadership transition for the group. Moreover, Zawahiri was designated to succeed Osama bin Laden as emir of al Qaeda under the terms of a 2001 merger between the group and Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad. At present, al Qaeda likely does not have an established succession plan to facilitate an orderly transition of power. Rather, senior al Qaeda cadres must engage in a delicate process of internal power brokering, and then preserve the allegiance of al Qaeda leaders and affiliates worldwide.

Turning Point? Russia Claims to Capture Key Donbas Position

Mark Episkopos

Russian and Russian-aligned forces claimed to have made significant headway in their ongoing campaign to consolidate control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Troops belonging to the breakaway Russian-aligned Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced earlier this week that they captured a mine near the strategically positioned town of Avdiivka. “Our unit has completely captured the mine,” said a DPR fighter in a recorded video, according to the Wall Street Journal. The DPR fighter reportedly added that Avdiivka, located less than a mile from the mine, is next in Russia’s advance. The Russian military said it has inflicted significant losses on Ukrainian forces in the Avdiivka area and several other sites in the Donetsk province.

Top Ukrainian officials partially confirmed Russia’s reported gains. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the position of Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine as “hell,” noting that Russia has the upper hand in the east. “It’s true that we can’t fully break the Russian army’s advantage in artillery and manpower, and that is felt clearly in battles, especially in the Donbas,” he said.

Could Cyber Defense Deter a War Over Taiwan?

Lucian Niemeyer

While reading a critique of a proposed Chinese deterrence strategy in The National Interest, “Can America Prevent a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan?” published on June 5, I was struck by the author’s lack of analysis of the impact of a denial of semiconductor manufacturing capabilities on the Chinese economy. I agree that the threatened destruction of semiconductor manufacturing in Taiwan may not deter China alone, but more realistic and easily implementable denial measures could be an essential factor in near-term Chinese invasion risk assessments. Drawing from more recent Russian lessons in Ukraine, international sanctions denying certain critical materials are indeed grinding down the Russian war machine. Despite the vast difference in manufacturing capabilities between the two countries, China still has critical weaknesses, starting with semiconductors.

The world’s economy and everyday life are increasingly dependent on data, cyber capabilities, and technology. Data is the new oil fueling the engine of economic growth in wireless communication, robotics, artificial intelligence, and cyber defense. Every engine has keys and today, those keys are digital.

Islamic State’s Primed For Resurgence In Syria – Analysis

Matthew Becerra

While the US-led coalition’s breakup of the Islamic State’s proto-state – or “caliphate” – in 2019 was a significant victory, it failed to fully defeat the extremist group or remove the socioeconomic conditions that were conducive to the organization’s initial expansion. For the last three years, ISIS – The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – has demonstrated considerable resilience against persistent coalition efforts at its eradication and has been slowly adapting, consolidating, and creating an environment favorable to its potential resurgence in central and northeastern Syria. Although defeated militarily, ISIS still has large numbers of fighters that it can call upon in the Syrian Arab Republic and has been waging a low-level insurgency against a multitude of actors, designed to showcase capability, undermine public confidence in local authorities, and to prevent reconciliation and stabilization efforts in cross-sectarian areas. The Islamic State aspires to regain its lost territory and influence following the collapse of its caliphate by exploiting the fragility of Syrian state structures.

Fighting Rages In Donetsk As Russia Building Up Its Forces In Kherson Region


(RFE/RL) — Fierce fighting was under way in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk as Moscow-backed separatists attempted to push back Kyiv’s forces from the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiyivka, while Ukrainian military officials said Russia may launch a fresh offensive in the south.

Russian forces shelled a Ukrainian city close to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the regional governor said on August 4, while Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was shelled by the Russians, Ukraine’s presidential office said.

Several industrial sites were hit in the city, and in the nearby city of Chuhuiv, a rocket hit a five-story residential building.

Al-Qaida-Affiliated Terrorists in India Found With Sophisticated Communication App

Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Never before were terrorists in India found to be as tech savvy as the al-Qaida-affiliated functionaries apprehended last month in India’s Northeast. The arrested functionaries were equipped with advanced software for communication designed to keep their activities totally under wraps.

Police and investigating agencies were stunned to discover an app for internal communication on the laptops of some apprehended Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) activists. The app was reportedly manufactured by software professionals in a foreign country. ABT, which is affiliated with al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), is a banned organization in Bangladesh.

India’s New Climate Target: Paris-Compliant, But Not Much More

Tarun Gopalakrishnan


This month, India will formally publish a new climate target under the Paris Agreement. The long-awaited second Nationally Determined Contribution will commit that half of India’s electricity generation capacity will be “non-fossil” — solar, wind, nuclear and hydropower — by 2030. In addition, its emissions intensity of GDP (i.e. emissions per unit GDP) will reduce by 45 percent between 2005 and 2030.

Is the new NDC sufficiently ambitious to address the climate crisis? There are three ways of looking at that question – by comparing it to (1) India’s first NDC, (2) its “business-as-usual” emissions trajectory, and (3) the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement requires countries to submit NDCs every five years. Article 4 requires each NDC to represent a “progression” beyond a country’s current NDC. This “ratchet” mechanism nudges countries to continually improve their self-determined ambition. India published its first NDC when it joined the Agreement in 2015. It targeted a 35 percent reduction in emissions intensity of GDP and 40 percent of generation capacity to be non-fossil by 2030.

Restraint May Be the Biden Administration’s Best Answer to the Taiwan Crisis

John Brake

In visiting Taiwan, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi intended to signal U.S. resolve – that even in the face of Beijing’s threats, the United States “will not abandon our commitment” to the island democracy. For its own part, China has vowed to respond with “strong and resolute measures,” punishing Taiwan economically through import bans and menacing it militarily with provocative live-fire exercises in the waters around Taiwan. These reprisals may in turn create pressure for Washington to make some additional show of resolve, lest inaction undermine the commitments just made in Taipei.

The White House has been clear that it wants to head off a crisis. But a preoccupation with resolve has been hard-wired into U.S. foreign policy-making since the Cold War. Backing down from a confrontation, the conventional wisdom goes, emboldens an adversary and invites further challenges. Yet as rivals match each other tit-for-tat, crises can escalate.

China Suspends Military Dialogues, Climate Change Talks With US

Shannon Tiezzi

In addition to ongoing, unprecedented military drills surrounding Taiwan, China has unveiled another element of its response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week. China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that it was cancelling or suspending talks and cooperation with the United States in eight different areas, as “countermeasures” to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

In disregard of China’s strong opposition and serious representations, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited China’s Taiwan region. On 5 August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the following countermeasures in response:

Did Pakistan Help the US Take Out al-Zawahiri?

Umair Jamal

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike on the morning of July 31 in Kabul. His elimination is the biggest blow to the militant group since the group’s founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 in Pakistan’s military garrison town of Abbottabad.

As expected, Islamabad has not accepted a Pakistani role in the drone strike. However, its Foreign Office issued a carefully worded and relatively ambiguous statement on Tuesday. “Pakistan stands by countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions,” it said, without mentioning Pakistan’s role in the strike. “We have seen the official statements by the United States and media reports regarding a counter-terrorism operation carried out by the U.S. in Afghanistan,” the foreign office spokesperson, without mentioning Zawahiri’s name.

Making Sense of the Nepal Army’s Engagement With Big Powers

Biswas Baral

For the past 20 years the Nepal Army chief has been a regular presence at the annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) conference. Very few Nepalis were aware of the powwow, held under the aegis of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. But it was a different story this year.

When the Chief of Army Staff Chief Parbhu Ram Sharma recently left for the conference, held this year in Sydney, Australia, the national parliament was in an uproar.

“If indeed the program in Australia is a part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy [IPS], it goes against the spirit of our constitution,” the ruling Maoist party lawmaker Amrita Thapa remarked.

As NASA’s asteroid impact mission nears, similar Chinese efforts raise eyebrows

THERESA HITCHENS

WASHINGTON: A killer asteroid has become the subject of myriad online jokes and memes, but “planetary defense” is a deadly serious international security endeavor involving scientists around the world — with NASA set in September to undertake a world-first effort to deflect a (non-threatening) asteroid off its natural course.

Meanwhile, eyebrows were raised this month after the publication of a scientific paper by Chinese scientists that proposed placing satellites in cislunar space to act as an early warning system for asteroids, or even to physically alter their paths. That paper was theoretical, but reflects a genuine interest from the Chinese government in detecting and heading off dangerous Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) before they get too close.

Verizon: Mobile attacks up double digits from 2021

Allen Bernard

With the proliferation of mobile devices and hybrid work environments where employees often use their personal devices for work-related activities almost half (45%) of respondents of the Verizon Mobile Security Index 2022 said their organizations were subject to a security incident involving a mobile device that led to data loss, downtime or other negative outcome—a 22% increase over 2021’s numbers.

Of those respondents, 73% said the impact of the attack was “major” and 42% said that it had lasting repercussions. In 2021, less than half of incidents were described as major and just 28% were said to have had lasting repercussions, the report said.

Despite these results, 36% of respondents said that mobile devices are of less interest to cybercriminals than other IT assets—an increase of six percentage points from the 2021 MSI report.

“Mobile has historically been overlooked by information security teams, largely because these modern devices are perceived to be inherently safe and protected from legacy threats,” Michael Covington, VP of portfolio strategy at Jamf, an Apple device management company that contributed to the MSI report. “But the reality is that mobile devices are always on, always connected, and always vulnerable to risk.”
Insecure networks still an issue

Insecure networks such as public Wi-Fi accessed without a VPN or other security considerations remains a serious threat to mobile device security, the report said. Attackers can engage in man-in-the-middle attacks by tricking users into using rogue Wi-Fi hotspots or other access points set up and controlled by the hackers. Most (52%) respondents who suffered a mobile-related security breach said that network threats were a contributing factor.

With about 40% of workers away from the office most days, more business is being conducted using over home Wi-Fi and home broadband connections. Most (85%) respondents said their organizations allow the use of home Wi-Fi and cellular networks and hotspots or have no policy against them. Sixty eight percent of organizations have no policy prohibiting the use of public Wi-Fi.

According to the Proofpoint, 2022 State of the Phish survey cited in the 2022 MSI report, 3,500 working adults across Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. found that most employees or organizations did not undertake basic security measures to protect their home Wi-Fi networks.

Most (62%) respondents said they weren’t concerned about the security of their home network and close to 90% of the remaining respondents said they didn’t know how to secure their Wi-Fi connections.

“Mobile devices are now critical to how we work,” the report said. “With increased capabilities and expansive connectivity, we now have access to far more information and tools than we ever did in the days of desktops and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Partly driven by the growth in cloud-based applications, a smaller screen no longer means less powerful.”
Cloud apps a contributing factor

The use of cloud-based services likewise are causing mobile securing headaches, the report said. The simplified user interfaces of mobile devices make it easier for attackers using phishing attacks to obtain employee credentials. Employees can be targeted through multiple apps such as SMS, social media platforms and third-party messaging apps.

Likewise, as the number of apps continues to grow even non-malicious apps, including those downloaded from official stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store, can be a threat. Nearly half (46%) of respondents who suffered a mobile-related security breach said apps were a contributing factor.

The human element still a problem

Most (82%) breaches involved the human in the loop. Whether it’s hackers using stolen credentials, getting users to click on malicious links or download malware laden files using phishing, human error continues to cause incidents and breaches.

“Mobile security does not need to be another IT security headache. Organizations looking to reign in mobile risk should start with their policies and procedures,” said. “Instead of giving mobile an exemption to acceptable use policies and security requirements, businesses should treat mobile like every other endpoint.”

This is the state of world's energy - in charts

Simon 

People and businesses around the world used more power in 2021 than in the year before the pandemic, as lockdowns ended and energy demand bounced back, according to an analysis from BP.

The surge in demand is the largest in history and has helped to propel the energy system into its most turbulent period since the oil crisis of the 1970s. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to the turmoil, fuelling price hikes and threatening power shortages for some countries.

BP says emissions from energy have also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. “Considerable progress has been made in sovereign pledges to achieve net zero, but those growing ambitions have yet to translate into tangible progress on the ground… The world remains on an unsustainable path,” says the company’s chief economist, Spencer Dale.

With Al Qaeda Down But Not Out, Killing Zawahiri Is Symbolic

James M. Dorsey

President Joe Biden was not wrong when he declared that “justice has been served” with the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri in a US drone strike.

The problem is that’s only half of the truth; the other half is that Mr. Zawahiri was more a has-been than a power to be reckoned with on the jihadist totem pole. In death, he may have scored his most significant achievement since becoming head of Al Qaeda as the symbol of the failure of decades of war in Afghanistan.

Mr. Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul in a house owned by Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s de facto deputy head of state, will be touted as evidence that Afghanistan has reverted to being a base for terrorist groups. Mr. Haqqani’s son and son-in-law are believed to have also died in the drone strike.

Before We Rid The World Of Crude Oil, Is There A Backup Replacement?

Ronald Stein

Those clean renewables, like wind turbines and solar panels, can only generate ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best from available breezes and sunshine. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

In fact, these renewables cannot exist without crude oil as all the parts of wind turbines and solar panels are made with oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

Crude oil is useless unless it can be manufactured into something usable like the fuels for the heavy-weight and long-range transportation infrastructures of ships and jets and the derivatives that make the thousands of products that have made our lives more comfortable. But wind and solar cannot manufacture anything for society. Before we jump out of an airplane without a tested parachute, we need to be able to support the demands of all the infrastructures that exist today that did not exist a few hundred years ago.

‘Debt bomb’ risks: More than 40 nations are at risk of default — and that’s a problem for us all

Nikhil Kumar  and Lili Pike

Sri Lanka might be only the beginning. The South Asian country, once an economic darling hailed as a “hidden jewel,” has been sucked into a financial black hole this year as an unsustainable pile of debt crushed sector after sector. The debt crisis has triggered widespread unrest and political upheaval.

But the small island nation isn’t alone, experts warn, as a range of countries worldwide — from Tunisia to Egypt, Kenya to Argentina, and beyond — groan under their own giant piles of debt.

Put aside the economic jargon, and the story is a straightforward one. As global prices and interest rates rise, putting pressure on the finances of these countries, they are struggling to pay the interest they owe on all the loans that they have taken out in recent years. That in turn is affecting their ability to keep their economies running — to feed their people, to provide fuel — even as they try to get things back on an even keel after the blows of the covid-19 pandemic.

The 9 books that completely changed the way I see the world


I read a lot — last year I read 53 books, and I’m hoping to clear 50 again this year.

If you love learning, then in my opinion, books are the way to go. That’s because you get a wide variety of perspectives — unlike podcasts and YouTube channels, where you’re generally gonna get the same viewpoints over and over again.

But books are pretty hit-or-miss. Some of the books I read are useless. Most books I read, I learn a little bit from.

And every now and then, I read something so profound that it changes the way I see the world.

These are 9 of the books I’ve read in the past few years that have completely shaken up my worldview. They’ve forced me to fundamentally rethink something I previously believed, or they exposed me to a new idea that shaped the way I think about the world.

7 August 2022

Squeezed Global Spare Oil Capacity Limits OPEC+ Output Hike


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, has agreed to a further 100,000 barrels per day oil production hike from September as it warned of a lack of spare capacity for any greater increases.

The alliance, which includes Russia, held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss output levels amid calls from the US to ramp up production to cool the international oil market.

The increase will mean the 23-nation group, which includes Russia, will raise output by 748,000 bpd from next month.

In a statement after the meeting, OPEC+ warned that a lack of investment into the upstream sector will impact the availability of adequate supply “to meet growing demand beyond 2023 from non-participating non-OPEC oil-producing countries, some OPEC Member Countries and participating non-OPEC oil-producing countries.”

The Paradoxes of Escalation in Ukraine

Austin Carson

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a paradox about escalation has emerged. The West carefully avoids certain kinds of involvement—such as sending Kyiv MiG fighter jets, setting up no-fly zones, and putting boots on the ground—for fear that it will provoke a greater war with Moscow. But Western countries do supply Ukraine with sophisticated artillery and intelligence targeting Russian officers and ships. They have sent intelligence personnel and special forces to Ukraine to share information and move military equipment within the country. The distinctions between these kinds of assistance can seem arbitrary and change over time. Yet those differences are taken seriously by both Russia and the West, and they have helped stop the war from spreading.

In Ukraine, the two most important limits are clear: the West has not directly attacked Russian forces, and every party keeps their operations confined to Ukrainian territory. Yet such boundaries are hardly the only ones at play. NATO, for example, has refrained from involvement that would fall safely within these limits, such as providing jets or organizing volunteer units, because Moscow might see such assistance as provocative. Russia’s response would likely also remain within those proxy and geographic limits. But such caution on the part of NATO is sensible, because a harsh Russian reaction could harm Ukraine’s civilians and its government, as well as the West, in new ways.

Keys to Ukrainian victory? Logistics, heavy weapons and the ‘test of will’

Tom Nagorski

Exactly four months ago, Grid spoke about the war in Ukraine with an American general who until recently had commanded all U.S. forces in Europe. In early April, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Hodges argued that beyond economic sanctions and condemnation of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, more needed to be done in terms of military aid to Ukraine. It was, Hodges said then, a matter not only of supporting the Ukrainian resistance but arming and training its armed forces to a level that would enable them to reverse Putin’s aggression.

Much has changed since then — on the front lines and the weapons supply lines, and there are questions about the staying power of global support for Ukraine.

We asked Hodges for an update on all these fronts and how he sees the next phases of the war unfolding. Hodges said he’s optimistic that Russia can be driven back — but only if the West continues to “stand with Ukraine.”

Russia ratchets up the danger at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Dan Vergano

Russia’s nuclear brinkmanship in Ukraine is once again raising alarms — this time over the fate of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.

In March, Russia’s invading armies seized the Zaporizhzhia plant in a dangerous firefight that damaged one reactor building, seen worldwide on security cameras. The plant — and the defunct Chernobyl nuclear waste site — continued to operate with Ukrainian workers overseen under duress by Russian nuclear agency personnel.

As the war in Ukraine moved south last month, Russia turned the Zaporizhzhia complex into an artillery park for rocket launchers and in return received Ukrainian drone strikes. On Tuesday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi called the plant “completely out of control” in an interview with the Associated Press.

China blocks some Taiwan imports but avoids chip disruptions

JOE McDONALD

BEIJING (AP) — China blocked imports of citrus, fish and other foods from Taiwan in retaliation for a visit by a top American lawmaker, Nancy Pelosi, but has avoided disrupting one of the world’s most important technology and manufacturing relationships.

The two sides, which split in 1949 after a civil war, have no official relations but multibillion-dollar business ties, especially in the flow of Taiwanese-made processor chips needed by Chinese factories that assemble the world’s smartphones and other electronics.

They built that business while Beijing threatened for decades to enforce the ruling Communist Party’s claim to the island by attacking.

Two-way trade soared 26% last year to $328.3 billion. Taiwan, which produces half the world’s processor chips and has technology the mainland can’t match, said sales to Chinese factories rose 24.4% to $104.3 billion.