3 March 2017

*** For Mexico, the U.S. Immigration Stance Overshadows All

An uproar in Mexico over shifting U.S. immigration policies dominated this week's visit to Mexico City by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

The acrid political atmosphere between the United States and Mexico created by the issue of immigrant deportation dominated the visit to Mexico City by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and John Kelly, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The shifting U.S. stance toward immigration enforcement will play a significant part in shaping Mexico's domestic political landscape and will affect future relations between the two countries.

The most recent dispute between Mexico City and Washington revolves around memos written by Kelly to his department and made public Monday concerning how to implement executive orders issued by President Donald Trump that give authorities greater latitude to deport foreigners who break U.S. immigration law. Under Kelly's instructions, the United States could send those people to the contiguous country nearest to their point of detention — meaning Mexico in tens of thousands of cases — until their immigration hearings were resolved, although he said people whose cases were decided would be transported directly back to their home countries.

** A future for mobile operators: The keys to successful reinvention

By Guido Frisiani, Jay Jubas, Tomás Lajous, and Philipp Nattermann

By transforming their networks and operations with the newest technologies, mobile operators could double their cash-flow conversion within five years. 
A future for mobile operators: The keys to successful reinvention 

The past several years have been tough for telecom companies. Their revenue and cash flows1have dropped by an average of 6 percent a year since 2010. Consumption of mobile data boomed, as masses of new wireless customers used their handsets to spend ever-increasing amounts of time online. Companies responded by investing heavily in their wireless networks, even as subscriber growth slowed. As a result, the average ratio of capital spending to revenues has remained stubbornly high, at around 15 percent, for the major players (Exhibit 1). 

Exhibit 1 


** China Moves To Put North Korea In Its Place

By Rodger Baker

In response to North Korea's latest missile test, and perhaps to the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China has declared it will cease coal imports from North Korea for the entirety of the year. Beijing's threat to North Korea could significantly impact Pyongyang's finances, already stretched as the North continually seeks ways around international sanctions.

But it also shows the limits of Beijing's actions toward North Korea. Even as China takes a more assertive role internationally, in finance, politics and even militarily, it views its global role - and potential responsibilities - far differently than the United States or earlier European empires.

Above image: North Korean houses rest in front of the Great Wall of China near the town of Sinuiju. (GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Submerged in the Cosmic Kingdom

David ShulmanJ. Poncar/Peter van Ham

Detail of the swimming competition for Gopa, in the Red Assembly Hall, Tholing, 1436-1449

Among the Shangri-Las scattered through the remote mountain valleys and passes of the Himalayas and the Karakoram, the most exotic may well be the once flourishing medieval kingdom of Guge. It’s not so easy to go there; the closest airport is at Ali (Ngari) in far western China, still a grueling ten-hour drive or more from the great Guge sites. The roads south from Lhasa, some 1,200 miles away, are a challenge. The altitude is high, the climate harsh, the entire route rough as a real pilgrimage should be.

Guge was once home to a major inner-Asian dynasty whose artists and craftsmen produced a plethora of masterpieces over some five centuries. Although many of these works did not survive the Chinese Cultural Revolution, those that did—including some large-scale murals and exquisitely carved and painted sculptures depicting Buddhist visions of the cosmos and its deities—give us a tantalizing sense of the lost world that imagined them into being. These works, little known in the West largely because of Guge’s inaccessible location, have now been richly and systematically documented in the photographer and art historian Peter van Ham’s astonishing new book, Guge: Ages of Gold.D. Bendak//Peter van Ham

Water Wars: Military Muscle Moves In

By Jimmy Chalk, Sarah Grant 

Chinese, US Militaries Take Positions as ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet

This week, as ASEAN foreign ministers met in the Philippines, satellite photographs revealed that newly installed surface-to-air missile sites on artificial islands have approached completion, and an American carrier strike group arrived in the South China Sea.

After a trio of Chinese warships concluded a week-long series of drills in the South China Sea, the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group arrived amid expectations that it plans to conduct the first U.S. freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the region since late 2016, and the first since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang bristled at the FONOP prospect, stating, “we oppose relevant countries threatening and undermining the sovereignty and security of coastal states under the pretext of such freedom.” The next day, however, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang expressed a more moderate position: "China hopes the U.S. earnestly respects the sovereignty and security concerns of countries in the region, and earnestly respects the efforts of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Pentagon chief presented counter-IS plan to White House


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday gave the White House a plan to "rapidly defeat" the Islamic State group, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday. The strategy includes significant elements of the approach President Donald Trump inherited, while potentially deepening U.S. military involvement in Syria.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Mattis, who traveled to Iraq last week to help inform his thinking, presented the results of a 30-day strategy review at a Cabinet-level meeting of the National Security Council. It's unclear whether the meeting included Trump, who said last week his goal is to "obliterate" IS.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Mattis was ensuring that he had input from other Cabinet agencies.

"That can help guide where we go from here," Spicer said.

Davis said details of the report are classified secret.

"It is a plan to rapidly defeat ISIS," Davis said, using the Pentagon's preferred acronym for the group, which has proven resilient despite losing ground in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

De-Conflicting Turkish, Kurdish, and American Aims in Syria

Aaron Stein

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has toned down its criticism of the United States after President Donald Trump took office in January. Before resigning from his position, Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, directed the National Security Council to re-think the Obama plan for the forthcoming campaign to take Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. In parallel, Trump signed an executive order directing Secretary James Mattis to review the air and ground war against the Islamic State by February 28. For many in Turkey, these twin reviews, combined with the routine meetings with senior officials from the new administration, have prompted considerable speculation that the United States is prepared to drop its support for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in favor of a Turkish-backed force to take the city.

The Trump administration’s decision to rethink the approach to the war against the Islamic State is a normal and healthy aspect of the peaceful transfer of power. Mattis, according to multiple interviews I’ve conducted, is indeed challenging the commanders in charge of the campaign to justify the assumptions underpinning the current U.S. approach. The plan to take the city is straightforward. The politics are not. The SDF is a multi-ethnic force, but its main component, the Kurdish YPG, is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgent group that has fought the Turkish state for more than three decades. The United States, the European Union, and Turkey classify the PKK as a terrorist group.

Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation: al-Bab and Beyond

By: Göktuğ Sönmez

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels have claimed almost complete control of the Syrian town of al-Bab, including the town center, pushing back Islamic State (IS) fighters who have held the area since late 2013 and opening up a path to Raqqa, IS’ de facto capital in Syria (Hürriyet, February 23).

That battle has been hard fought, but the defeat of IS is only part of the Turkish objective, the other being to halt the territorial gains of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (PYD), the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Rather than immediately pursue IS to Raqqa, Turkish success in al-Bab, according to Turkish officials, is likely to be followed by an offensive on Manbij to ensure the PYD withdrawal there is completed. Afrin and Raqqa may then follow.

However, whether the diplomatic, political and military dynamics will allow these next steps requires further analysis. Meanwhile, the anti-IS coalition’s unwillingness to engage in the al-Bab offensive, despite Turkish calls for air support, has put strains on an important counter-terrorism alliance.

Defense Minister Shoigu Promotes Russian Cyber Warfare Troops and Declares Victory in Syria

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu used the shortened workweek before Red Army Day (February 23—officially rechristened “Defender of the Fatherland Day,” following the collapse of the Soviet Union) to promote Russia’s military successes. Dressed in an army general’s uniform decorated with military ribbons, Shoigu addressed an all-Russia youth forum in Moscow on February 21. The following day, Shoigu, again in military uniform and backed by his top brass army generals, addressed the State Duma. In previous years, Shoigu as well as his predecessors addressed plenary sessions of the Duma behind closed doors; those proceedings were always declared state secrets, and deputies were instructed not to disclose anything to journalists. But this week, Shoigu’s address and question time in front of Russian legislators were open to the press and streamed live on the Internet by the Ministry of Defense.

Speaking before the youth forum, Shoigu asserted that Russia has achieved a resounding military-political victory in Syria by defeating the opposition, which was armed by the United States and its allies. He added that the wave of so-called “colored” pro-democracy revolutions, allegedly sponsored by the West, has been decisively crushed and reversed by heroic Russian soldiers fighting in Syria. Yugoslavia, Georgia, Iraq, Ukraine and Libya have been the victims of Western-sponsored pro-democracy “colored revolution” insurgencies, according to Shoigu. He asserted that while opposition fighters and mercenaries in Syria have been receiving arms and munitions from abroad, Russian weapons and soldiers have stabilized the situation by supporting the legitimate government in Damascus (Militarynews.ru, February 21).

Sweden is often misunderstood. But Trump’s views subvert the truth

Andrew Brown

Progressives used to think everything in Sweden was perfect; now rightwingers believe it’s a crucible of Muslim violence – despite all evidence to the contrary

Donald Trump’s outburst about “that thing that happened in Sweden last night” – which turned out to be a Fox News report he had seen on the difficulties of integrating refugees – is only the latest illustration of the role that Sweden plays in the fantasies of the outside world.

The wonderful thing about Sweden is that you can believe what you like about it. For much of the 20th century it was a place where foreign progressives could only believe that everything ran perfectly smoothly and everyone got laid, thanks in part to the exploits of Ingrid Bergman and the Swedish arthouse film I am Curious (Yellow). In the 21st century it has become the country where foreign rightwingers can believe that nothing works and that rape is widespread.

Trump is not the first American president to use Sweden to prove a domestic point. In 1960, the president, Dwight Eisenhower, gave a speech to a Republican breakfast meeting at which he said that Sweden “has a tremendous record for socialistic philosophy, and the record shows that their rate of suicide has gone up almost unbelievably and I think they were almost the lowest nation in the world for that. Now, they have more than twice our rate. Drunkenness has gone up. Lack of ambition is discernible on all sides”.

Maintaining U.S. Leadership on Internet Governance

Author: Megan Stifel

After almost two decades of overseeing the internet naming and addressing system, the U.S. government transferred the responsibility to a coalition of industry, civil society, and government stakeholders in October 2016. The United States relinquished its role to demonstrate to emerging countries its commitment to significant private sector involvement in the operation of the internet. The move had overwhelming support from industry and like-minded governments, but some policymakers, including Donald J. Trump when he was running for office, saw the announcement as an ill-considered loss of direct control over the most important communications medium ever developed. Given that the transition is effectively irreversible, the United States needs to respond to new institutional and political realities and find alternative ways to maintain its influence on internet governance. The U.S. government should do this by collaborating with industry to enhance the internet’s reliability and resilience by tackling vulnerabilities that permit foreign governments to question the current governance approach. Additionally, it should expand efforts to foster and train leaders in emerging internet markets.


A collection of technical actions, known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, ensures that the internet works. The U.S. government sought to privatize the IANA functions by 2000, hoping to streamline and keep accountable the hodgepodge of U.S.-funded research agreements, individuals, and companies that were responsible for them. However, the government missed its deadline and a U.S. government agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), contracted with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the execution of the IANA functions. The contract led some to believe that the U.S. government controlled the internet.

How ‘New Cold Warriors’ Cornered Trump

By Gareth Porter

February 25, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - "Consortium News" - Opponents of the Trump administration have generally accepted as fact the common theme across mainstream media that aides to Donald Trump were involved in some kind of illicit communications with the Russian government that has compromised the independence of the administration from Russian influence.

But close analysis of the entire series of leaks reveals something else that is equally sinister in its implications: an unprecedented campaign by Obama administration intelligence officials, relying on innuendo rather than evidence, to exert pressure on Trump to abandon any idea of ending the New Cold War and to boost the campaign to impeach Trump.

A brazen and unprecedented intervention in domestic U.S. politics by the intelligence community established the basic premise of the cascade of leaks about alleged Trump aides’ shady dealing with Russia. Led by CIA Director John Brennan, the CIA, FBI and NSA issued a 25-page assessment on Jan. 6 asserting for the first time that Russia had sought to help Trump win the election.

Brennan had circulated a CIA memo concluding that Russia had favored Trump and had told CIA staffthat he had met separately with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey and that they had agreed on the “scope, nature and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.”

In the end, however, Clapper refused to associate himself with the document and the NSA, which agreed to do so, was only willing to express “moderate confidence” in the judgment that the Kremlin had sought to help Trump in the election. In intelligence community parlance, that meant that the NSA considered the idea the Kremlin was working to elect Trump was merely plausible, not actually supported by reliable evidence.

Our Animal History

Jenny UglowLinnean

The first instinct of an eighteenth-century naturalist when he (and they were usually “he”) saw a bird or animal that he didn’t recognize was to shoot it. Then draw it, dissect it, stuff it, identify it, and name it. Cabinets in country vicarages, grand mansions, and learned societies were full of “skins”—of fish, birds, reptiles, mammals. The naturalists felt part of the great Enlightenment drive to order nature, an ordering that was in its way both as arrogant and as humble as accepting the Biblical “great chain of being.” In both systems humans came top, whether in the Garden of Eden or a scientific collection. (Indeed Genesis makes Adam sound like the earliest taxonomist: “whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name therof.”) The fascinating exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London, “Making Nature,” investigates our long history of trying to comprehend the wealth of the animal world, while also making us dizzily aware that we are, after all, animals ourselves. Where do we fit? How have our visions of nature changed? How responsible are we for today’s rampaging loss of habitat and species?

Post-Nuclear Security Summit Process: Continuing Challenges and Emerging Prospects

Reshmi Kazi

The Nuclear Security Summit process was an unprecedented event that achieved phenomenal success in drawing global attention to the danger of nuclear terrorism. The Summit process panning from (2010-2016) focussed on the urgency to secure nuclear materials and facilities. It highlighted the need to develop newer mechanisms that can help mitigate nuclear risks. The development of the concept of nuclear centres of excellence is one such aspect. Despite the phenomenal success of the Summit process, newer threats continue to challenge the security of nuclear materials and facilities. Emergence of new threats like the Islamic State; continuing nuclear proliferation trends; increasing incidents of nuclear thefts; weak links in transport security, existing legal instrument of nuclear security and protection of our fissile materials pose serious threats to nuclear security. It is important that the international community addresses the existing threats to nuclear security not only to mitigate the dangers of nuclear terrorism but also to strengthen the achievements of the Summit process.

Counter-Terror Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms ‘Soon’

By Patrick Tucker

An upcoming competition will spotlight systems for downing enemy UAVs attacking solo or in groups. 

Militaries could face a new threat: swarms of cheap enemy drones, according to one of the nation’s counter-terrorism officials.

“It is conceivable that some day soon we will see someone’s otherwise capable military security force penetrated, defeated or even overrun by such technologies,” Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, director of Strategic and Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, said at the recent Special Operations Forces / Low Intensity Conflict summit.

Nagata has had his share of run-ins with terrorists and extremists. He led President Obama’s ill-fated program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

“What could you do with a swarm of weaponized unmanned aerial systems?” asked Nagata. “We need to remember that aerial vehicles are not the only rapidly growing capability when it comes to robotics. Ask yourself what could a robot the size of a penny that can cut through computer cables do to a command control room?”

ISIS has deployed a variety of weaponized consumer drones in recent months, from off-the-shelf DJI Phantoms modified to carry grenades to larger surveillance drones reminiscent of the Russian Eleron-3SV.

In October, a booby-trapped ISIS drone killed the Peshmerga fighters who shot it down.

Army on shopping spree, commandos to get deadlier

Rajat Pandit

Defence ministry sources said "restricted" tenders have been issued to select foreign arms companies for acquisition of new assault rifles. 

The elite Special Forces in the 1.3-million Army constitute just nine Para-Special Forces and five Para (Airborne) battalions. 

The need for lighter, new-generation weapons was felt during the crossborder raid.

NEW DELHI: After conducting "successful cross-border surgical strikes" against terrorist hubs, first in Myanmar in June 2015+ and then in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September 2016+ , India is now fast-tracking some long-delayed modernisation of the Army's Special Forces to make them even more lethal and mobile for clandestine warfare. 

Defence ministry sources on Tuesday said "restricted" tenders have been issued to select foreign arms companies for acquisition of new assault rifles, sniper rifles, general purpose machine guns, light-weight rocket-launchers, tactical shotguns, pistols, night-vision devices and ammunition. 

Must It Always Be Wartime?

by Rosa Brooks 

Rosa Brooks moderating a discussion on ‘the next generation’s human rights challenges’ during a program that was cosponsored by The New York Review, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., April 2014

Societies often go to great lengths to separate war from peace. Wars are declared, sometimes with elaborate ritual. Soldiers wear uniforms and are part of specialized hierarchical organizations. Battlefields are often delineated. Maintaining this distinction is important because what is permissible in wartime is often prohibited in peacetime. Preventing the rules of war from infecting views of moral conduct in times of peace is essential for preserving civilization. 

Yet particularly since September 11, 2001, the line between war and peace has blurred. The “war” on terrorism that President George W. Bush chose to declare was very different from, say, the confrontations between large national forces of World War II or even traditional counterinsurgency battles on a nation’s own territory. Al-Qaeda is a shadowy organization, many of its offshoots and successors even more so. The global and decentralized threat posed by the self-declared Islamic State presents a further complication. 

The decision to treat the September 11 attack as an act of war rather than a horrible crime was a policy choice (one opposed in these pages by Philip Wilcox, a former American diplomat*). We could easily imagine a President Al Gore making a different choice. But once made, the decision to pursue “war” against al-Qaeda and its associated forces had major implications. 

Future of Army Combat: McCain Wants Ambition, Army Offers Caution

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

CAPITOL HILL: Sen. John McCain wants an ambitious plan for new ground vehicle designs and new kinds of combat units from the Army. So does the Heritage Foundation, which has provided much of the brain power for the Trump administration. But the Army isn’t on board: Burned by past program meltdowns like FCS and GCV. the service is focused on incremental upgrades to existing weapons,

McCain & co. have plenty of suggestions. As Senate Armed Services staffer (and retired Army colonel) James Hickey reiterated today at a Lexington Institute briefing on Capitol Hill, McCain’s recent white paper calls for
leap-ahead investment in new technologies “such as electronic warfare (jamming) and unmanned ground vehicles (robots)”; 

new unit organizations such as “Multi-Domain Combat Brigades” with long-range missiles and offensive cyber, or reconnaissance-strike brigades riding new combat vehicles, such as 
a new design for a multi-mission ground combat vehicle, albeit using existing components to save time and money; 

Reshaping the US Military

By Bryan Clark

Bryan Clark thinks the United States is at an inflection point when it comes to its national security. As a result, the country needs to redesign its military and implement new ways to deter aggression. It should privilege, for example, fresh operational concepts that focus on air and missile defense, electromagnetic spectrum warfare, strike and surface capabilities, and much more.

Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reed, thank you for inviting me to testify today on this important and timely subject. The United States is at an inflection point in its national security. After enjoying almost three decades of military superiority, the United States now faces competitors with strategies and capabilities that could circumvent, undermine, or defeat the defense posture and forces of America and its allies. In some regions and mission areas, the U.S. military is already behind those of its potential adversaries. If we fail to reshape our military and implement new ways to deter aggression, respond to provocation, suppress terrorism and insurgency, and protect the homeland, we risk the security assurances upon which our alliances are based and, with them, the security and economic health of the United States.

I applaud Senator McCain’s recent white paper, “Sustaining American Power,” which recognized the loss of U.S. military overmatch. The paper’s recommendations to rebuild U.S. forces would significantly improve America’s ability to counter the efforts of its competitors and adversaries.

Entering the Era of ‘Unmanned Terrorism’

By: Scott N. Romaniuk, Tobias J. Burgers

Over the past four decades, suicide attacks has become the weapon of choice for terrorist organizations from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the Islamist fundamentalists of Islamic State (IS). However, with the advent of consumer drone use by terrorists groups in the Middle East – which has risen significantly in the past year, particularly on the part of IS militants – that may now be on the brink of changing.

Data collected by the Chicago Project on Security & Terrorism (CPOST) on suicide attacks over the past 40 years shows how more than 100 militant groups have experimented with and adapted this form of assault. The data shows how, at different times, different methods have found favor among terrorist groups. Crucially, it also demonstrates a willingness by militant groups to experiment. [1]

Adaptation and Experimentation

Suicide attacks have been undertaken by individuals using various types of devices and methods of delivery. Some examples include wearable devices such as belt bombs, car bombs and other vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) and explosive devices taken on board airplanes.

The use of car bombs spiked in 2004 (see chart) after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and was followed to a lesser degree by an increase in the use of other VBIEDs and “unspecified” forms of suicide attack, as militants explored other newer and possibly more efficient forms of attack.

Source: CPOST, Suicide Attack Database

Chart: Statistics of Suicide Attacks by Weapon Type (1990-2015)

Now that experimentation is taking a different form. On October 2, 2016, IS militants flew a small, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) affixed with an IED on an attack mission, killing two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and wounding two French paratroopers (Haaretz, October 13, 2016).

Cyber isn’t all that special, says NSA chief

by Mark Pomerleau

For all the concern of cyber as a new domain and a new unique tool set, the nation’s chief cyber military officer is warning against putting cyber on a pedestal.

Cyber is an operational domain in which the military does a variety of missions and functions, many of which are traditional, said Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego on Feb. 23. He noted that the military executes reconnaissance and fire and maneuver activities in cyberspace much like the branches do in the physical world.

Don’t be intimated by the technical aspects of cyber, he told conference attendees. “Don’t make this thing so specialized, so unique, so different that it just gets pushed to the side. That will sub-optimize our ability to execute cyber operations, and quite frankly it will minimize or at least negatively impact, in my view, the operational outcomes, which is the whole reason we’re doing this in the first place,” he said.

Rogers asked how cyber can be framed in a way that brings a broader sense of recognition and makes it easier to integrate this into a broader set of operational activities, because if it doesn’t generate operational outcomes at the operational level, it is a waste of time and investment.

Buckle Up For The E-Commerce Bloodbath

Vivek Kaul

India’s e-commerce sector, whose workings resembled that of a classic Ponzi scheme, has finally started to unravel

A spate of newsreports in the recent past clearly show that Indian e-commerce companies are in trouble.

A newsreport on Moneycontrol.com points out: "With an aim to cut costs, struggling e-commerce firm Snapdeal is likely to downsize its team by around 1,300 employees." This is around one-third of the company's total workforce of 4,000 employees.

On the other hand, Flipkart has shutdown its courier service and hyper-local delivery project, less than a year after launching it. There are other examples as well. The question is why are companies doing this? They are trying to cut down their costs and at the same time conserve all the money they have raised from investors.

Over and above this, investors have made a spate of mark-downs to their investments in these firms. A 27 January 2017 news report on Reuters points out that Fidelity Investments has marked down its investment in Flipkart by around 36 per cent. In December 2016, Morgan Stanley, had marked down its investment in Flipkart by 38 per cent.

The Japanese investor Softbank recently marked down the combined value of its shareholding in Ola and Snapdeal by $475 million. What does all this mean? It essentially means that these investors do not accept these e-commerce firms to be as successful as they expected them to be in the past. And given this, they have been writing down the value of their investments.

Expect many more 300Gbps DDoS attacks

Akamai has released its Q4 2016 State of the Internet Security Report, which shows a dramatic increase in the number of DDoS attacks greater than 100Gbps.

The report uses data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform and provides an analysis of the cloud security and threat landscape.

“As we saw with the Mirai botnet attacks during the third quarter, unsecured Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices continued to drive significant DDoS attack traffic,” said Akamai.

With the predicted exponential proliferation of IoT devices, threat agents will have an expanding pool of resources to carry out attacks.

Highlights from Akamai’s Q4 2016 report relating to DDoS attacks included: 

Attacks greater than 100Gbps increased 140% year-over-year from Q4 2015. 

The largest DDoS attack in Q4 2016 peaked at 517Gbps and came from Spike – a non-IoT botnet. 

Seven of the 12 Q4 2016 attacks greater than 100Gbps can be attributed to Mirai. 

The number of IP addresses involved in DDoS attacks grew, despite DDoS attack totals dropping overall. The US sourced the most IP addresses participating in DDoS attacks – over 180,000. 

12 DDoS attacks exceeded 100Gbps in Q4 2016

Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.”

—Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784)

The digital revolution is in full swing. How will it change our world? The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In other words: in 2016 we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Every minute we produce hundreds of thousands of Google searches and Facebook posts. These contain information that reveals how we think and feel. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years’ time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Many companies are already trying to turn this Big Data into Big Money.

Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. Should we also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet?

World Order 2.0: The Case for Sovereign Obligation

By Richard N Haass

Operating an international order that’s premised solely on respect for sovereignty and a complementary balance of power system is no longer appropriate, argues Richard Haass. Indeed, today’s circumstances call for an updated operating model — call it World Order 2.0 — that includes not only the rights of sovereign states but also those states’ obligations to others. Here’s what such a world would look like.

For nearly four centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, the concept of sovereignty—the right of nations to an independent existence and autonomy—has occupied the core of what international order there has been. This made sense, for as every century including the current one has witnessed, a world in which borders are forcibly violated is a world of instability and conflict.

But an approach to international order premised solely on respect for sovereignty, together with the maintenance of the balance of power necessary to secure it, is no longer sufficient. The globe’s traditional operating system—call it World Order 1.0—has been built around the protection and prerogatives of states. It is increasingly inadequate in today’s globalized world. Little now stays local; just about anyone and anything, from tourists, terrorists, and refugees to e-mails, diseases, dollars, and greenhouse gases, can reach almost anywhere. The result is that what goes on inside a country can no longer be considered the concern of that country alone. Today’s circumstances call for an updated operating system—call it World Order 2.0—that includes not only the rights of sovereign states but also those states’ obligations to others.