26 March 2018

Corbusier’s Modernism to the Needs of India

By Samanth Subramanian

The ninety-year-old architect, who won this year’s Pritzker Prize, believes that architecture should be informed by empathy. In the buildings of Balkrishna Doshi, the Indian architect who won this year’s Pritzker Prize, it’s easy to take the light for granted. Years ago, I visited the Ahmedabad campus of cept University, which began as an architecture school founded by Doshi. It was midsummer, and the afternoon roared with heat, but in the paths between buildings, overhangs and parapets dropped pools of shadow. The plazas were studded with neem and arjuna trees, and the design studios had sloping skylights, so that the sun was permitted only oblique entry. Most modern sections of India’s cities are all about harshness, their greenery exfoliated and the surfaces paved with naked tar and concrete. Doshi, by contrast, once said that he admired Le Corbusier’s ability “to create a soft light that makes people’s faces glow.”

China’s Forced Labor Problem

By Peter Bengtsen

In China, forced labor is sensitive topic. Years pass between the odd case of forced labor that sees the light of day in local media. Local labor NGOs rarely approach incidents of serious coercion in forced labor terms. Nobody knows the real extent, and surprisingly few, from China as well as abroad, prioritize exploring this issue. Within the last decade, a handful of cases amounting to forced labor in China have been brought to light, all with certain characteristics in common pointing to a need for closer scrutiny.

Diplomats, 'Net greybeards work to disarm USA, China and Russia’s cyber-weapons

By Simon Sharwood

Black Hat Asia The USA, China and Russia are doing all that they can to avoid development of a treaty that would make it hard for them to conduct cyber-war, but an effort led by the governments of The Netherlands, France and Singapore, together with Microsoft and The Internet Society, is using diplomacy to find another way to stop state-sponsored online warfare. The group making the diplomatic push is called the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC). One of the group’s motivations is that state-sponsored attacks nearly always have commercial and/or human consequences well beyond their intended targets.



China tested unmanned tanks this week in hopes of eventually arming the vehicles with artificial intelligence, according to Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times on Wednesday. Footage of the tests was shown on state television. It depicted converted unmanned versions of a Soviet-era Chinese tank driven by remote control. This was the first time the Chinese public has been shown testing of the unmanned version of the vehicle, according to Reuters. The original Type 59 first entered into service in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the end of the 1950s.“A large number of due-to-retire Type 59 tanks can be converted into unmanned vehicles if equipped with artificial intelligence,” said Liu Qingshan, editor of Tank and Armored Vehicle, to the state paper.

Foreign Fighters who Travelled to Syria and Iraq Since 2011

Saudi Arabia Goes Shopping for a Nuclear Deal

Saudi Arabia will strive to develop a civilian nuclear energy program due to the need to diversify its energy mix away from oil. But Saudi Arabia's push for ownership of the nuclear fuel cycle will open up the possibility that Riyadh will use its greater nuclear capabilities to satisfy its security imperatives, including defending itself from its biggest nemesis, Iran.
The United States will weigh its desire to maintain leverage over Saudi Arabia by helping it develop a peaceful civilian nuclear program against its concerns about Riyadh's security motives.If an agreement is not reached, Saudi Arabia will look to other nuclear powers such as Russia, whose limits on enrichment ownership are weaker than those of the United States. 

Why Offense is the Best Defense Against Russia and Iran in Syria

by Tony Badran

In January, the Trump administration unveiled its strategy for Syria. In an address at the Hoover Institution, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out five key objectives, in the process, made clear that the top priority was containing Iran. The US, he said, would deny Iran the “arch” it is building from Tehran to the Mediterranean, and it would prevent Iran from using Syria as a springboard from which to threaten neighboring countries.

Russian Analytical Digest No 214: The Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

By Nikolaus von Twickel, Gwendolyn Sasse and Mario Baumann for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

The three articles in this edition of the RAD look at 1) the “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, arguing that though they may be best described as Russian puppet states, Moscow’s denial of formal ties to these entities makes a comprehensive analysis difficult; 2) the attitudes and identities of the Donbass region’s population, including both the Russian and Ukrainian controlled areas; and 3) key factors driving the recurrence of violence in eastern Ukraine and the potential for peacekeeping efforts to address them.

To Russia With Cauti

By Scott Stewart

Tensions between the West and Russia are ratcheting up in the wake of the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal. The heightened hostilities will make day-to-day operations more challenging for foreign companies, nongovernmental organizations and journalists working in Russia. In addition to the threat of government surveillance and harassment, foreigners will likely be the targets of increased violence from nationalists and nationalist gangs.


After the raid, Israel kept silent—and so did Assad. Syria didn’t want to admit it had violated its international commitments. Israel, for its part, figured out that if it said nothing in public, Assad would swallow his pride and not retaliate. Privately, Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and intelligence contacted or met their allies in the West—the U.S., UK, France, Germany—and in the Arab world (Egypt and Jordan) to share with them the information behind the raid. Olmert also personally called Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Israel’s calculation that Syria would not strike back proved correct, and the world seemed relieved that someone had removed a potentially serious threat to peace.

Can Syria's Kurds Hold the Ground They've Gained?

Turkey's offensive in Afrin reveals the limits of Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in northern Syria. The United States protects Kurdish fighters in Syria as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, but that protection will not last. Syrian Kurds will be exposed to a permanent threat from both Ankara and Damascus, one that threatens the future existence of their semi-autonomous Rojava region.

Don’t Underestimate North Korea’s Cyber Efforts


Cyber operations in North Korea (DPRK) are more diverse, aggressive and capable than often realized. According to the cyber security firm FireEye, “There is no question that DPRK has become increasingly aggressive with their use of cyber capabilities. They are not just focused on espionage — we’ve seen them use it for attack, we’ve seen them use it for crime. …They are showing up in places outside South Korea [and] continuing to expand capabilities.” DPRK cyber warriors regularly exploit so-called zero-day vulnerabilities — undiscovered flaws in operating systems that allow a breach of defenses.

Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society

To combat the global threat of terrorism, countries have passed and implemented numerous laws that inadvertently or intentionally diminished the space for civil society. States conflate terrorism with broader issues of national security, which is then used as a convenient justification to stifle dissent, including civil society actors that aim to hold governments accountable. As the global terror landscape becomes more complex and dire, attacks on the rights to the freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly only increase. This report analyzes the impact of counterterrorism efforts on civic space, examines its manifestations in various socioeconomic and political contexts, and explores various approaches to disentangle and reconcile security and civil society. It features case studies on Australia, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Hungary, and India.


Lionel Beehner and Liam Collins

Over the past year, the United States has dusted off its international relations textbooks from the Cold War era and prioritized “revisionist powers” like the Russian Federation and China in terms of reshaping its military strategy and doctrine. The 2008 Russia-Georgia War, nearing its ten-year anniversary, is worth reexamining to understand how these “revisionist powers” will fight in the twenty-first century.

Strategy in Postmodern Times

By Julian Koeck

After the fall of the Soviet Union, many intellectuals and politicians saw the climax of modernity itself. From now on, many thought, western democracy and capitalism would lead humanity into a golden future. No one conveyed this idea more elegantly than Francis Fukuyama in his book The End of History and the Last Man. The nations of the second and third world simply had to follow their western idols to become part of this paradise. Two decades later, we are healed from such glorious illusions. The Western World itself has changed (and keeps changing). The truths of modernism had to make room for postmodern doubt and new evolving dogmata. This does not change the core of what strategy is, but it makes things more complex and quite different for the strategist.


‘FaceBook Is Why We Need A — Digital Protection Agency — It’s Not Just The Cambridge Analytica Debacle, Ethics Don’t Scale,’ One Technologist Argues Paul Ford posted a feature article, March 21, 2018, with the title above to Bloomberg.com. Mr. Ford is a writer, computer programmer, and co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio based in New York that specializes in mobile, and web development. Mr. Ford begins, “Over and over the last 20 years, we’ve watched low-cost, or free Internet communications platforms spring from the good intentions, or social curiosity of tech folks. We’ve watched as these platforms expanded in power and significance, selling their influence to advertisers. Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Google they grew so fast. One day, they are a lovable new way to see kid pix, next thing you know — they’re re-configuring democracy, governance, and business,” he wrote.



At least he said he was sorry. Mark Zuckerberg's apology came early in his prime-time interview with CNN's Laurie Segall, after another day of insistent questions about the 50 million Facebook user profiles that data firm Cambridge Analytica may have improperly used to sway the 2016 presidential election. "I'm really sorry that this happened," Zuckerberg said at the opening of the interview, to the certain delight of however many crisis communications professionals had to coach the media-averse 33-year-old billionaire, whose company has 2.2 billion active users around the world. Clad in a gray t-shirt, sitting in front of an appropriately sunny Menlo Park, California, background, Zuckerberg tried to project the image of a well-intentioned young entrepreneur who had been ensnared by malignant forces beyond his control.

Visualization tools could be the future of electronic warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau

Some in industry believe the future of electronic warfare will have to incorporate a visualization capability for operators and commanders to better plan effects in a non-physical domain. The electromagnetic spectrum environment has become increasingly complex in recent years. Electronic warfare and the jamming of radio signals was a large concern reaching back to the Cold War, and a proliferation of emitters, jammers and overall devices in the past few decades has made understanding and planning effects an even more difficult task for operators and commanders. For that reason, some believe the future of electronic warfare will require the development of visualization tools that conceptualize the non-physical effects in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Resources-strapped agencies are leaving networks vulnerable to cyberattack

By: Jessie Bur  

Limited resources at federal agencies and critical infrastructure industries are forcing IT departments to prioritize the cybersecurity of certain systems while leaving others more susceptible to breach, according to Jeanette Manfra, National Protection and Programs Directorate assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security. “We cannot apply all of our resources equally across all of our systems,” said Manfra at a Consortium for IT Software Quality event March 20, 2018.

New bill would prepare US for artificial intelligence threat

By: Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, introduced legislation Wednesday to prepare the government for the national security impact of artificial intelligence. In this Sept. 28, 2017, photo, Hanson Robotics' flagship robot Sophia, a lifelike robot powered by artificial intelligence, holds an apple in Hong Kong. Sophia is a creation of the Hong Kong-based startup working on bringing humanoid robots to the marketplace. (AP/Kin Cheung)


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SOCIAL NETWORKS WALK a fine line between being a useful tool and a crippling addiction. Whether you want your free time back or don’t like your information scattered about on the internet, you may be considering deactivating some accounts. Wanting to delete your account is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, the biggest networks have made it overly complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.

AT&T Won Secret $3.3 Billion NSA Contract Despite More Expensive Bid

Frank Konkel

AT&T was awarded one of the National Security Agency’s most coveted classified tech contracts despite a bid that was $750 million higher than the other competitor’s bid. According to redacted legal documents released March 20, the telecommunications giant bid $2.55 billion on a contract to “technically evolve” the NSA’s IT environment, significantly more than a $1.79 billion bid from DXC Technology. The subsequent bid protest resolved in AT&T’s favor in January. Called Regional Infrastructure Services I, the contract is the second of three massive tech contracts called Greenway that follow-up the agency’s classified Groundbreaker program. The infrastructure services contract is worth up to $3.3 billion over 10 years if all options are exercised, according to the protest documents.

Artillery, Drones, Missiles Will Help FVL Penetrate Air Defenses: FVL CFT


PENTAGON: “We’re not yielding the air domain to anybody, so we’re going to build those capabilities that we need to dominate,” the head of the Army’s aviation Cross Functional Team told reporters yesterday. While Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen heads what’s officially called the Future Vertical Lift CFT, his portfolio extends well beyond the FVL aircraft program itself. Rugen wants: New “modular” missiles with plug-and-play warhead options and longer range; New drone designs “purpose built” to penetrate advanced anti-aircraft defenses; New manned aircraft — the FVL itself — 60 percent faster than current helicopters, with Artificial Intelligence to assist the human crew. 

Raytheon Lasers, Microwaves Target Counter-Drone Market Worth Billions


Lasers burn a hole in the target; microwaves fry its electronics. Both types of weapons run off electricity, so the cost per shot is potentially pennies, and the ammunition doesn’t run out as long as there’s gas in the generator. The market for weapons that can shoot down small drones, used by the likes of Hezbollah and Daesh, should rise from almost nothing to “several billion dollars” over the next five years. Raytheon is pushing hard to lock in as much of this market as it can, building both High Energy Laser (HEL) and High Powered Microwave (HPM) weapons that can find, fix and kill or disable the increasingly cheap and capable drones.

CGSC tests board-based strategy game

By Capt. Charlie Dietz

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- If you've seen groups of military officers at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College circled around a map using pointers and pushing around tiny plastic pieces lately, don't be alarmed that they are playing Risk or reenacting scenes from Patton. Students ditched the computer screens and PowerPoint slides to gather around tables and evaluate their tactical planning by test-piloting a new board game March 9-15. The hex-style, map-based simulation, titled "Landpower: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey (GAAT)" was developed last year by Lt. Col. Patrick Schoof, an Army Simulations officer, and Shane Perkins, team leader of four classes, both instructing at the staff college. "Landpower" builds upon a scenario the students have worked through continually during the course, putting their strategies against one another to expose potential gaps and shortfalls they had previously not accounted for.