18 July 2015

Modi and the Sino-Indian Game for Iranian Gas

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Turkmenistan as part of his tour of the five Central Asian republics was a critical opportunity for New Delhi to advance the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan India pipeline (TAPI), slated to transport to million cubic meters per day of natural gas to India, helping the world’s fastest growing major economy meet its own skyrocketing demand.

However, instead of announcing a major Indian initiative to expedite the selection of TAPI’s consortium leader, the hurdle that has stymied TAPI’s implementation, Modi suggested that an alternative land-sea route via Iran for transporting Turkmen gas should also be considered. Modi’s high profile plug for an Iran-Oman-India subsea pipeline by proposing its use for Turkmen gas exports was a savvy diplomatic gesture aimed at Beijing’s April 2015 agreement with Islamabad to construct most of Pakistan’s portion of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline. Coming just days before the Iran and the P5+1 announced the Iran nuclear deal, the suggestion was the prime minister’s opening shot in a Sino-Indian mini “Great Game” to orient the flow of gas exports from a post-sanctions Iran.

Why Iran's rise holds huge potential for India (but conditions apply)

There is no denying the fact that the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers holds deep implications for India in terms of bilateral relations, energy security and regional politics. The implications need to be weighed carefully since they do not necessarily run in a unilinear fashion.

Has India prepared itself for the paradigm shift? The below-the-radar consultations in Tehran by the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in February helped. But there has been no high-level visit since this government came to power.

The good part is that the Iranian side signalled to Doval its interest to revive strategic ties. Doval made a big impression, praising Iran’s brilliant role in fighting terrorism and its positive role in preserving regional security and stability. He put on record India’s desire for an all-out expansion of bilateral cooperation.

The Iranians took note that the Narendra Modi government was stepping out of the US-Israeli orbit and reverting to India’s independent foreign policies toward Tehran.

India-Pakistan: War of words over ceasfire violations

Will take steps to contribute to peace on border: Indian Foreign Secretary
India warned Pakistan on Thursday of an "effective and forceful response" to cross-border firing and terrorism even as tensions rose between the two countries over various issues. India's message was relayed after a series of recent ceasefire violations by Pakistan across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir that led to casualties on both sides. In the most recent incident on Thursday, Pakistan accused India of killing five civilians while firing from Pakistan killed a woman and injured two Indian soldiers on Wednesday. The exchange took place a few days after leaders from both nations met for bilateral talks in Russia's Ufa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. Reiterating India's commitment to taking steps that will "contribute to peace and tranquility on the border", Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said India would retaliate in kind to unprovoked firing from the country. Jaishankar also commented on a recent controversy regarding an alleged Indian "spy drone" that was shot down by the Pakistani army on Wednesday, suggesting that the drone appeared to be of Chinese make and was freely available in the market and did not belong to the Indian army.

The Daily Fix: India and Pakistan must keep talking through the disturbances on the border

Above the Fold: Top stories of the day
1. According to unreleased data from the first urban Socio Economic Caste Census, 35% of the urban poorfall below the poverty line.

2. The Central Bureau of Investigation has urged the special task force in the Vyapam case to file charge sheets for all cases where the probe has been completed.

3. Net neutrality may have been upheld by a high level government committee but some of its recommendations have consumers worried. Domestic calls through application like Viber, WhatsApp and Skype may no longer be free.

The Big Story: Please keep droning on

U.S. Must Avoid an Iraq-Like Meltdown in Afghanistan

July 16, 2015
Two years ago, while commanding U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford convinced President Barack Obama to slow the pace of U.S. troop withdrawals from that still-beleaguered nation. Now, Obama has named Dunford to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If, as expected, Congress confirms the nomination, the general will have to continue making the case for preserving a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

The surprise success in Iraq of the self-proclaimed Islamic State over the last year offers an excellent albeit bloody example of why U.S. forces must remain in Afghanistan. The United States cannot afford a similar eruption of chaos in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

At his confirmation hearing last Thursday, Dunford told U.S. senators that his advice to President Obama on troop levels in Afghanistan would be based on ground conditions, rather than a pre-set timetable. This is welcome news, especially in light of the ongoing Taliban military offensive and the evidence of ISIS inroads into South Asia.

Interview: Robert Kaplan

Robert D. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor atThe Atlantic. He is also the former chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. He is the author of many books, including Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific and the forthcoming In Europe’s Shadow.

Following a speech on Asia at the Polish parliament on July 9, he spoke with Rafał Tomański. A shortened version of that interview follows.

Do you think that the age of the Asia is coming?

I don’t believe that’s that simple. Asia can go through a big shock. If the Chinese economy was to implode – which I don’t believe, but it might happen – Asia would suddenly matter less. Such an implosion of the Chinese economy would affect Asian countries much more than it affects Europe and the United States. You have to remember that power is relative. One can be declining as a power but still have a lot of influence. It’s not going to be really an Asian century. Asian languages may also become more prevalent not as a main ones but as a secondary languages.

Excluding the implosion of Chinese economy, what do you think could surprise Beijing most? They seem to expect everything.

China Warns Japan against 'Crippling Regional Peace'

Agence France
Jul 16, 2015

China on Thursday urged Tokyo to avoid "crippling regional peace and security", after the lower house of Japan's parliament passed bills that could see Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since World War II.

"It is fully justified to ask if Japan is going to give up its exclusively defence-oriented policy", China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

"We solemnly urge the Japanese side to... refrain from jeopardising China’s sovereignty and security interests or crippling regional peace and stability," Hua said in the statement posted on the ministry's website.

Hua described the passing of the bills as "an unprecedented move since the Second World War".

Japanese forces launched a full-scale invasion of China in 1937 and the wartime history between the Asian powers still heavily colours their relations today.

China's Hegemony in South Asia

July 15, 2015

Chinese influence in South Asia is set to expand again with the recent investment announcement in Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port and development of a China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Because both the U.S. and China are keenly interested in the shifting power alignments in South Asia for economic and security reasons, the development of this port and CPEC by China via Pakistan has significant implications on U.S. interests and strategy in South Asia. This announcement is of particular importance as it comes at a time when the U.S. is tilting towards India and is drawing down its presence in Afghanistan. 

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi proclamation that China’s relationship with Pakistan will “never go rusty” is not a surprise since the two countries have had strong ties since 1951 but historically their relationship security centric. Yet in recent months the two governments made strategic decisions to grow economic ties. As mentioned the most concrete sign of this was the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2015 launching the 2,900 km China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. The government of China promised to invest $46 billion in the CPEC that will eventually connect Gwadar Port in Pakistan to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang. The highlight the new investment is Gwadar Port that China took operational control over in April 2015. Beijing is expected to invest $1.62 billion in the Gwadar Port.

China confronts Islamist terrorism

16 July 2015 

Despite recent turmoil on the stock markets, the Chinese economy continues to grow at a breathtaking pace. Yet, its politics remain backward and oppressive. Now, it has to wake up to a threat the West is acutely aware of: the threat to it posed by militant Islam

The attention of the world has been focused on the Middle East and on the nuclear agreement with Iran that almost certainly will lead to that country becoming a nuclear power.

Less attention has been paid to the link between a Muslim ethnic group in China and Islamist terrorists, and even less to the need for American-Chinese collaboration in the fight against Islamist terrorism. 

China has the world’s largest population and remains the fastest growing major economy. The Chinese economy has been slowing down over the last year, yet the growth has been estimated at 7 per cent during 2015.

China Destroyed Its Stock Market in Order to Save It

During the Vietnam War, surveying the shelled wreckage of Ben Tre, an American officer famously remarked, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” His comment came to epitomize the sort of self-defeating “victory” that undoes what it aims to achieve.

Last week, China destroyed its stock market in order to save it. Faced with a crash in share prices from a bubble of its own making, the Chinese government intervened ruthlessly, and recklessly, to turn those prices around. Its heavy-handed approach seemed to work, for the moment, but only by severely damaging far more important goals and ambitions.

Ambassador's Reflections on Syria and Iraq

July 15, 2015

Robert Ford was one of the State Department’s leading Middle East experts. He joined the Foreign Service in the 1980s serving across the Arab world including appointments to Bahrain, Egypt and Algeria . During the 2000s he served three tours in Iraq as a political adviser and Deputy Ambassador before going on to be the Ambassador to Syria from 2011-2014. Ford is now a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute . This is an interview with Ford about his time in Iraq and Syria and some lessons learned for American foreign policy.

1. You first went to Iraq in 2003 to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Paul Bremer’s original plan was for a long term occupation that would include institutional reforms to Iraq’s politics and economy. That contrasted with the view of many in the American military leadership that believed the U.S. presence in the country was the cause of violence and therefore advocated for a speedy withdrawal. Was either of those a viable plan right after the invasion?

100 British SAS/SBS Commandos Ordered to Iraq and Syria

July 16, 2015

Special Operations: SAS Ordered To Syria And Iraq

In early July Britain decided to send up to a hundred SAS and SBS commandos to operate in Syria and Iraq against ISIL. This was largely in reaction to the June 26 ISIL sponsored terror attack in Tunisia where a university student smuggled an AK-47 (hidden in a folded beach umbrella) onto a popular tourist beach and killed 38 people before police shot him dead. Three-quarters of the victims were British and the British government was under pressure to do something. In Tunisia police soon arrested several local ISIL members who turned out to be involved with planning and carrying out the attack. The investigation also found that the shooter had recently received several months of weapons training in Sabratha (an ISIL stronghold in western Libya between Tunisia and Tripoli). 

Britain has had aircraft bombing ISIL since late 2014 but no ground troops fighting ISIL. The SAS and SBS operators join American SEALs and Delta Force in Syria and Iraq, along with commandos from several other nations (some of them Arab) who prefer to remain unidentified just now. The only reporting on the activities of these commandos is when they stage a raid and capture or kill someone. In fact, most of their time is spent on reconnaissance and seeking out high-quality targets for the bombers and UAVs overhead. In some cases a commando team will find a target and immediately call in a missile or smart-bomb strike. Keeping quiet about these operations protects the operators (who do not want their tactics and methods known to the enemy) and increases the fear among the Islamic terrorists being sought. 

Interview With the Captured Leader of ISIS Suicide Bombers, Abu Abdullah

Christopher Reuter
July 16, 2015

‘I’m Not a Butcher’: An Interview with Islamic State’s Architect of Death

The heavy gate slowly opened, but only after the guards had called in to headquarters to confirm the identity of the SPIEGEL team and its 10 p.m. appointment. Inside was an obstacle course of four-meter-high concrete walls with Humvees, equipped with mounted machine guns, parked at two different corners. Only then did the actual prison gate appear.

The high-security facility is in Baghdad, but its name and exact location cannot be revealed. These were the conditions for an interview with its most prominent inmate: a gaunt man in his late 30s known by his nom de guerre, Abu Abdullah. For one and a half years, he was the head logistician for suicide attacks carried out by Islamic State in Baghdad. Abu Abdullah is one of the few Islamic State leaders to have been taken into custody alive. Most either blow themselves up or swallow the capsules of poison many of them carry so as to avoid capture. Or they die in a firefight. Being captured alive is not part of the terror group’s concept.

But Abu Abdullah was overpowered so quickly that he had no time to kill himself. He had been under surveillance for some time before he was arrested in late July 2014, and his bomb factory, camouflaged as an automotive garage, was taken intact by the authorities. Surprisingly, the man himself is also talking from prison.

NSA Document: Israeli Naval Commandos Killed Senior Syrian Military Official in 2008 in Targeted Assassination

Matthew Cole
July 16, 2015

Israeli Special Forces Assassinated Senior Syrian Official

On Aug. 1, 2008, a small team of Israeli commandos entered the waters near Tartus, Syria, and shot and killed a Syrian general as he was holding a dinner party at his seaside weekend home. Muhammad Suleiman, a top aide to the Syrian president, was shot in the head and neck, and the Israeli military team escaped by sea.

While Israel has never spoken about its involvement, secret U.S. intelligence files confirm that Israeli special operations forces assassinated the general while he vacationed at his luxury villa on the Syrian coast.

The internal National Security Agency document, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is the first official confirmation that the assassination of Suleiman was an Israeli military operation, and ends speculation that an internal dispute within the Syrian government led to his death.

A top-secret entry in the NSA’s internal version of Wikipedia, called Intellipedia, described the assassination by “Israeli naval commandos” near the port town of Tartus as the “first known instance of Israel targeting a legitimate government official.” The details of the assassination were included in a “Manhunting Timeline” within the NSA’s intelligence repository.

U.S. Intensifies Airstrikes Against ISIS Targets in Afghanistan

Joseph Goldstein
July 16, 2015

U.S. Steps Up Airstrikes in Afghanistan, Even Targeting ISIS

KABUL, Afghanistan — The American military has intensified its airstrikes inAfghanistan in recent weeks, expanding them to include a bombing campaign against Islamic State militants who defeated the Taliban in fighting over a sliver of territory in the eastern part of the country.

Throughout June, American drones and warplanes fired against militants inAfghanistan more than twice as much as they had in any previous month this year, according to military statistics.

The increase in the use of American air power comes more than six months after President Obama declared that the American combat mission in Afghanistan had ended. The vast majority of the strikes appear to remain focused on Talibanforces, the traditional targets of American airstrikes here for more than a decade. But several have targeted insurgent commanders who defected from the Taliban to swear allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Army wants to double tanks, boost soldiers in Europe

By Michelle Tan
July 15, 2015

The Army wants to send a second brigade's worth of tanks, Bradleys and other heavy equipment, and dedicate an entire division to exercises, training and assurance missions in Europe amid growing concerns over Russian aggression.

These moves come as the Army continues a massive drawdown of forces that has already cut 10,000 soldiers — including two brigade combat teams — from Europe. Another 1,700 soldiers will be cut over the next three years as part of the latest round of reductions, leaving about 30,000 soldiers forward-stationed in Europe.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno discussed his desire to place a second brigade's worth of tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Howitzers and other equipment in Europe during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.

His remarks come as senior U.S. military leaders voice their concerns about the threat posed by Russia, which in the last year has annexed the Crimea region, secured a vital port in the Black Sea and sponsored a civil war in Eastern Ukraine that has claimed thousands of lives.

Syrian pilot details helicopter operations

Mohammed Najib, Ramallah and Jeremy Binnie
12 July 2015

Col Aboud's Mi-14P after it crashed in Idlib province. The main difference between the Mi-8/17 and the Mi-14 is that the naval variant has a boat-like hull and retractable landing gear so it can land on water. Source: Sham News Network

The Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) is suffering from a serious shortage of Mi-17 transport helicopters, according to Colonel Ali Aboud, a pilot who was captured by the Jabhat al-Nusra jihadist group after his helicopter crashed in March.

Jabhat al-Nusra, which is Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, allowed Al-Jazeera to have an interview with Col Aboud that the Arabic news channel aired on 8 July. The pilot said he was being treated well, but described his experience in detention as difficult and asked SyAAF intelligence chief Major General Jamil Hasan to organise a prisoner exchange that would secure his freedom.

Col Aboud said he was an Mi-17 pilot for 27 years, but three years ago he was transferred to flying naval helicopters. He said the Syrian military had been forced to use its naval helicopters to support its ground forces because the SyAAF had only 45 operational helicopters after 90% of them had crashed or been destroyed.

Obama’s Nuke Deal Makes Israel The Enemy And Iran Our Ally

JULY 14, 2015

Isn’t it odd how every pundit and politician who’s been antagonistic towards Israel is also super excited about an Iranian deal that’s allegedly going to help protect the Jewish State from the threat of nuclear Iran?

All the peacemongers love it.

“We are satisfied that the solution found is based on the principle of phasing and mutuality which our country has been consistently supporting at every stage of these complicated negotiations,” says Vlad Putin, the leader of the country that made Iranian nuclear power a possibility. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he’s confident his ally in Iran will now step up its efforts to back his “just causes” after the nuclear deal is wrapped up. And really, why wouldn’t it?

The backing of a war criminal doesn’t necessarily mean we have a bad deal. The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” is a bad deal because it’s the first time the United States has offered extensive concessions to a nation that openly seeks to destabilize our interests. It’s the first time we will be offering an oppressive theocracy (one that still holds American hostages) hundreds of billions of dollars to menace our (former) allies via its proxies throughout the Middle East. For the first time in history a president has legitimatized an openly anti-American state with expansionist aims to help him expand political legacy at home.

Americans Flew the Confederate Flag in Foreign Wars

July 15, 2015
The Pentagon just can’t let go.
In the wake of the Charleston massacre, Amazon and Walmart have announced that they will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. Ebay says it will stop offering Confederate items for electronic auction. Mississippi’s Republican speaker of the house calls his state flag, which includes the Stars and Bars in the top left corner, “a point of offense that needs to be removed.”

Even Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, agrees that a statue of Confederate Pres. Jefferson Davis in his state’s capitol building belongs in a museum.

Yet the Department of Defense says it isn’t even “reviewing” the possibility of a ban on the flag, deciding instead to leave any such move to the various service branches, while military bases named after Confederate officers will remain so. One factor in this decision — the South provides more than 40 percent of all military recruits, many of them white; only 15 percent are from the Northeast.

Ukrainian Government Sites Hit by New Wave of Cyber Attacks, Including Ukrainian Intelligence Service

July 15, 2015

More government-linked Twitter accounts hacked and attacked

More Twitter accounts linked to the Ukrainian government came under attack on July 14, less than a day after the country’s National Security and Defense Council’s account started tweeting that it had been taken over by an ultranationalist group.

The personal Twitter account of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov appeared to have been hacked shortly after noon on July 14, with “Avakov” tweeting that his account was now under the control of the Right Sector group.

“Arsen: Do you remember Sashko Biliy?” read one tweet, referring to a far-right Ukrainian nationalist shot dead by police near the town of Rivne last year.

Another tweet claimed Avakov was providing political cover for smuggling in Kharkiv oblast.

A similar message had appeared on the Twitter account of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council the previous day, with the account going on to tweet spurious messages, among them ones calling for Avakov’s resignation, and for police officers in Mukavcheve to be arrested.

What Will Happen To You When You Storm a USMilitary Checkpoint?

JULY 15, 2015

The military has put a lot of effort into making checkpoint encounters less lethal, through the application of some bizarre-sounding technologies.

The setting: a checkpoint guarded by the United States military. It could be a border crossing, a base, a protected zone in a city under siege, or something else. You, a lawbreaker, want to get past that checkpoint, 300 meters in the distance. You aim your car at the gate and accelerate to 45 mph.

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ...Full Bio

You are in for quite in an experience. The military is going to stage a full-frontal, high-tech assault on your sensory system…in the hopes of not gunning you down.

The Problem

Conversations with Tavleen Singh and Pratap Mehta

Written by Amartya Sen
July 15, 2015 

The pervasive elitism of higher education institutions has to be challenged. But their further decimation must also be resisted.
Pratap may well disagree with me that the intervention of political interference in the academic independence of public institutions is much larger and more politically systematic now, in line with the authoritarianism and sectarianism of the Hindutva rulers.

Since I read Tavleen Singh’s column whenever I am in India (always with enjoyment — and sometimes also with “constructive dissent”), I am delighted to receive questions from her which she wants me to answer (‘Questions for a Nobel laureate’, The Indian Express, July 12). This I will do first, but I will then go on to respond to some very important issues that Pratap Bhanu Mehta has raised about academic freedom (‘Nalanda is a syndrome’, The Indian Express, July 14).

A critic, not an advisor

This map shows what different countries view as the greatest threat to the world

JUL 16, 2015, 07.31 PM

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Supreme Leader on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses Iranian top officials in a mosque at his residence in Tehran, Iran.

How the CIA Really Won Hearts and Minds

In Patriotic Betrayal, author Karen M. Paget meticulously documents the agency’s long infiltration of student groups around the world. But she avoids the most important question: Why?

In his 2004 memoir A Look Over My Shoulder, former CIA Director Richard Helms singled out Feb. 13, 1967, as the bleakest day of his career.

After a morning spent inspecting nuclear labs at Los Alamos, New Mexico, Helms received a message calling him back to Washington at once. The order came directly from President Johnson, who was about to brief him on the most disastrous scandal to hit the CIA since its founding in 1947.

The scoop—which appeared in the liberal magazine Ramparts—revealed that from 1950 to 1967 the CIA had been running a series of international covert operations through the U.S. National Student Association (with the now-ironic acronym NSA).

Just two years before, Karen M. Paget had been an eager and active member of the NSA, where her husband also worked as a member of the international staff based in Washington.

Overregulating Life in Greece

JULY 15, 2015

IN dominating the debate over how to address the Greek crisis, Germanyhas shown that economic success brings political influence, which it wielded last weekend to brush away requests from France and Italy for more lenient treatment of their neighbor.

Not everyone loves German rigidity, but Europe should be grateful for it. While we don’t yet know whether the latest accord will stick, let alone succeed, the requirements are necessary to bring the Aegean country back to economic health and to save its participation in the common currency.

Too often, the debate over Greek economic policy is oversimplified into a classic macroeconomic tussle between “austerity” and “stimulus.”

Prudent fiscal policies are, of course, central to a well-functioning economy. What has gotten less attention — but is equally important — is the need for structural reforms in Greece’s inefficient, overregulated economy.

NSA Director: More OPM-Type Data Hacks Coming

Robert Wall and Alexis Flynn
July 15, 2015

NSA Chief Expects More Cyberattacks Like OPM Hack

LONDON—The U.S. should brace itself for more attacks like one on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management—in which millions of sensitive government records were stolen, the director of the National Security Agency warned on Wednesday

The U.S. government last week said that two cyberattacks on the agency compromised more than 21 million Social Security numbers, 1.1 million fingerprint records, and 19.7 million forms with data that could include a person’s mental-health history.

“I don’t expect this to be a one-off,” said Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, who heads the NSA and the U.S. military’s Cyber Command.

The incident is causing the government to review cybersecurity policies, he added. “As we are working through the aftermath of OPM,” Adm. Rogers said one of the questions is “what is the right vision for the way forward in how we are going to deal with things like this.”

Welcome to the Electronic Age of the Spy: Internet is Making it Easier to Steal and Trade information.

Stephen Pritchard
July 15, 2015

Espionage and industry in the internet era

Spying may be the world’s second-oldest profession, but espionage has been quick to embrace the technology of the internet era. Just as the online economy has made it easier to buy and sell goods and services, so the net is making it easier to steal and trade information. And companies are just as likely to be the targets of espionage attempts as government agencies.

“By no means do nation states have a monopoly on espionage,” says Ed Parsons, a senior manager in the UK cyber security practice at KPMG. “We are seeing for-profit and mercenary groups, stealing information and trying to sell it, including to governments.”

Mr Parsons says that one reason cyber espionage is growing is because blame is hard to apportion. Unlike the characters of John Le Carre’s cold war-era novels, who risked arrest or worse, today’s cyber spies are hard to trace and easy for governments and others to deny knowledge of.

India's net neutrality policy seeks inspiration from an unlikely source – Buddha's Middle Path

The committee report on internet regulation tries to take the middle road but runs into a few potholes.

Net neutrality is back. The important, complex principle that dominated headlines a few months ago in India is back in the news, as the government continues to figure out how exactly the internet should be governed. Following the telecom regulator's consultation paper in the matter, which many felt was biased against the principle of neutrality, the Department of Telecom has now put out its committee report on the issue – giving us the first glimpse of language that will guide the government as it seeks to frame a proper internet policy for India.

And there's a surprising, slightly low-tech star to the report: the Buddha.

Major computer hacking forum shut down by 20 countries, U.S. announces

FBI Supervisory Special Agent J. Keith Mularski, who heads the cybercrime squad at the agency’s Pittsburgh field office, displays an image from the Darkode Web site. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest international takedown of an online criminal hackers’ forum, an illicit Web site for the trafficking of tools and talent.

Over a 24-hour period, officials said, authorities in the United States and 19 other countries jointly shut down Darkode, the world’s most sophisticated English-language Internet forum for criminal hackers.

During Operation Shrouded Horizon, the FBI infiltrated Darkode at high levels and began gathering evidence and intelligence on members, officials said.

“Through this operation, we have dismantled a cyber hornets’ nest of criminal hackers which was believed by many, including the hackers themselves, to be impenetrable,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania, whose office handled the joint investigation with the FBI and the department’s criminal division.

Pakistan Says It Downed an Indian Drone. But Did It?

JULY 16, 2015

Just days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted an invitation from his Pakistani counterpart to visit Islamabad next year, the question of whether or not Pakistan shot down an Indian drone is threatening the stability of the neighbors’ fledgling friendship.

The Pakistani military announced Wednesday it had downed an Indian surveillance drone operating over Pakistani territory, and on Thursday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned the Indian ambassador to discuss his country’s alleged intrusion into Pakistani airspace. India has pushed back hard: According to the Associated Press, Col. S.D. Goswami, an Indian army spokesman, said no spy drone “has crossed into the Pakistani side, and none of our unmanned aerial vehicles has been shot down by them.”

Photos of the crashed drone circulating in the media Thursday show a small surveillance vehicle that could reportedly be bought commercially, raising further doubts the drone would really have belonged to India’s relatively sophisticated military.

Does Europe Have a Future?

JULY 16, 2015

It took a historic deal with Iran to drive news from the European Union off the top of the past few days’ news feeds. In any other week, the continued saga of the eurozone and the latest deal with Greece would have received even more attention than it did. The news from Vienna was dramatic, but what happens in Europe over the next few years will be a lot more important than the ultimate outcome of the nuclear deal with Iran, as significant as that achievement is.

Remember: Iran is a country of some 80 million people, but the EU is a supranational community with a population of more than half a billion. As an economic unit, the EU has a combined GNP larger than that of the United States, considerable wealth, advanced industries, and significant military potential. The United States is formally allied with most of its members and has long benefited from cooperation with its fellow democracies there. Europe’s future course is therefore of considerable interest to the United States.

Uncertainty Surrounds Air Force 'Holy Trinity'

By Jon Harper 
July 2015 

The “holy trinity” of Air Force acquisition programs — the F-35A joint strike fighter, the KC-46A tanker and the long-range strike bomber — are moving forward but key questions about their future remain unanswered, according to a top service official.

The $400 billion Lockheed Martin F-35 program — the largest in Defense Department history — has been plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays and technical glitches.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act withholds about $900 million in procurement funding for the F-35A until the secretary of defense certifies that the aircraft delivered in 2018 will have full combat capability with Block 3F software. 

There’s a Sweeping Changeover Happening Among the US Military's Top Brass

By Taylor Hall
July 15, 2015 

There's a sweeping transition happening at the highest level of American military leadership, and two of the new kids on the block - the nominees for chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- are already shaking things up.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has been in his position for five months. The Senate Armed Services Committee is reviewing President Barack Obama's nomination of General Joseph Dunford as chairman of the joint chiefs and General Paul Selva as second in command as well as upcoming nominations for new service chiefs for the Navy, Army and Marine Corps.

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., on Tuesday said the new Pentagon leadership faces "the most diverse and complex array of global crises since the end of WWII."

Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years

JULY 16, 2015

Demonstrators spoke out against legislation that could send Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the bill was necessary. By Reuters on Publish DateJuly 16, 2015. Photo by Shuji Kajiyama/Associated 

TOKYO — Defying broad public opposition and large demonstrations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a crucial vote in Parliament on Thursday for legislation that would give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II.

Mr. Abe’s party and its allies in the lower house of Parliament approved the package of 11 security-related bills after opposition lawmakers walked out in protest and as demonstrators chanted noisily outside, despite a gathering typhoon. The upper chamber, which Mr. Abe’s coalition also controls, is all but certain to endorse the legislation as well.

Japan Buys Five Ospreys in Boeing’s First Export Deal

JULY 15, 2015

After years of trying, the Navy and Bell Boeing have announced the first foreign sale of the V-22 Ospreys, with five of the tilt-rotor aircraft under contract for delivery to Japan.

The $332.5 million contract for the Block C version of the Osprey included support, training, and equipment to boost the mobility of Japan’s Self-Defenses Force and provide a faster and more agile platform in response to natural disasters, Bell Boeing said in a statement Tuesday.

The five Ospreys were expected to be the first phase in the delivery of a total of 17 of the aircraft to Japan for a total cost of about $3 billion.

“The Bell Boeing team is honored to have Japan as the first international customer for the V-22 tilt-rotor,” said Mitch Snyder, executive vice president of Military Business for Bell Helicopter.

“This is an important day for the Bell Boeing team in Japan and for the U.S.-Japan alliance,” said Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. “The V-22 redefines what’s operationally possible for a country, and we’re looking forward to delivering this capability to Japan.”

8 military terms civilians always get wrong

JULY 15, 2015

We know it’s hard to keep track of military lingo and technical terms, that’s why we’ve published so many guides (Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, Navy). But there are some terms that the media — especially Hollywood — just can’t stop getting wrong when referring to the military.

1. Bazooka

Photo: US Army Signal Corps