2 April 2018

A Mighty Wind

by Prashant Jha 

For the past five years in the world’s biggest democracy, one man, one party, and one ideological current have pretty much cornered all the hawa. A puffing guardian spirit tangibly energizes Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister; despite his modest stature, the bearded sixty-seven-year-old can fill a room with a swirling air of quiet purpose or, some would say, menace. All across the country hawa can be felt ruffling the ubiquitous orange flags of his Bharatiya Janata, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), and stirring the long-suppressed ambitions of the Sangh Parivar, the “family” of Hindu nationalist groups that is the party’s ideological home. 

Maldives lifts state of emergency, defusing China-India tensions

NEW DELHI -- The Maldives' president has lifted a 45-day-long state of emergency that had raised the threat of maritime clash between China and India over the tiny island nation. President Abdulla Yameen ended the state of emergency Thursday "in an effort to promote normalcy," according to a statement from the president's office, "though there still exists a diminished threat to national security."  Yameen imposed the state of emergency Feb. 5 after the country's Supreme Court ordered the release of jailed opposition lawmakers. The Yameen government nullified the court's decision and had two justices arrested, saying they had conspired to overthrow the government.

India takes the first step to building an AI vision

R. Shashank Reddy
Last year, the Union ministry of commerce constituted a task force to look at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be leveraged for India’s economic growth. The report of this task force, released recently, makes for interesting reading. The report focuses primarily on figuring out where AI technologies can be the most beneficial for the Indian state, economy, and citizens. To this end, it identifies 10 specific domains for rapid AI incorporation: manufacturing, fintech, health, agriculture, technology for the differently abled, national security, environment, public utility services, retail and education. Within these domains too, the report also identifies four “grand challenges” for AI incorporation: improving manufacturing, especially in the SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) sector; improving healthcare quality; improving agriculture yields; and improving delivery of public services.

A Tale of Three Coal Markets

The United States, China, and India together constitute about 70 percent of global coal consumption and 64 percent of global coal production. Each country is an important contributor to the global coal supply and demand picture and yet each stands at a very different stage in its relationship with coal.  The history of coal in the United States is predicated on a long-term decline in its share of the electricity fuel mix, but deep regional socioeconomic ties give the fuel an outsized role in national energy politics. Coal makes up 15 percent of the total U.S. energy mix and 30 percent of the electric power mix while the power sector accounts for about 90 percent of coal use in the United States. 

Trump’s China Policy Has a Flaw: It Makes China the Winner

Eduardo Porter

Since the days of the Nixon administration nearly 50 years ago, American policy has aimed to steer China out of its isolation to prosper in the global market economy. There needn’t be conflict between the established superpower and the emerging giant, the best strategic minds argued. As it grew rich, they reasoned, China could be integrated peacefully into the institutional framework built by the Western powers from the rubble of World War II.

Is Kim Jong Un Making a Visit to China?

Amid a diplomatic outreach between North Korea and other regional powers, the arrival of a North Korean train in the Chinese capital signals that Beijing is probably preparing to reach out to Pyongyang itself — perhaps through a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Ahead of its likely summits with the United States and South Korea, North Korea may try to use its position of strength to gain more equal footing with China in their relationship.
Because any lasting diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis will have to include China, Pyongyang will not be able to sideline Beijing entirely in its negotiations.

Turkey's Relationship With the EU: It's Complicated

The European Union and Turkey will seek to relaunch their bilateral relations during a summit March 26. While Turkey will not join the European Union anytime soon, the parties can still cooperate in areas such as updating their customs union agreement. However, issues such as the dispute over Cyprus, EU criticism of Erdogan's domestic policies and Turkey's increasingly unilateral action in the conflict in Syria will continue to generate friction between Brussels and Ankara.

The Ideologue’s Case Against Iran

By Jacob L. Shapiro

Imagine a country – a Muslim majority country, no less – that viewed the spread of jihadism as an existential threat, a threat so serious that it was willing to sacrifice its own people to defeat it. Assume that this country, with its large population, robust military and plentiful natural resources, was strong enough to keep the jihadists at bay. Assume, too, that this country was located in the heart of the Muslim world, ideally situated to project power into the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia – all of which are experiencing varying degrees of instability. Imagine finally that this country was also once a U.S. ally – a cornerstone of U.S. containment strategy against the Soviet Union during the Cold War – and could be again.

Has a New Cold War Really Begun?

By Odd Arne Westad

For about four years now, since Russia’s occupation of Crimea and China’s launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, there has been much speculation about whether another Cold War between East and West is coming. In the last month alone, headlines have proclaimed that “The New Cold War Is Here,” heralded “Putin’s New Cold War,” and warned that “Trump Is Preparing for a New Cold War.” But are we really returning to the past? Contemporary politics is full of false analogies, and the return of the Cold War seems to be one of them.

Europe’s AI delusion


When the computer program AlphaGo beat the Chinese professional Go player Ke Jie in a three-part match, it didn’t take long for Beijing to realize the implications. If algorithms can already surpass the abilities of a master Go player, it can’t be long before they will be similarly supreme in the activity to which the classic board game has always been compared: war.

Expulsions of Russians are pushback against Putin's hybrid warfare

Patrick Wintour

The expulsions of Russian diplomats on Monday reflect how widely Vladimir Putin has attempted to wage his brand of hybrid warfare and how many leaders and their intelligence agencies he has angered in the process. Even before the Salisbury poisoning, many governments had lost patience with Vladimir Putin’s grey war for domestic reasons of their own. Their response is not just an act of solidarity with the UK but a collective pushback.

Data Thieves

The Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS.edu) is the largest public policy Ph.D. program in the nation and the only program based at an independent public policy research organization—the RAND Corporation.

Dynamic Security Threats and the British Army

RUSI Whitehall

General Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, elaborates on some of the increasingly real threats that pose a risk to the UK’s way of life. He considers the implications of the evolving threats to the role of the British Army in assuring national security as part of the Joint Force.

The Speech

As delivered, Monday 22 January 2018 

Are Corporations Poised to Overtake Countries?

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow. Corporations such as Facebook and others will continue to outdo the state in accruing massive amounts of personal data on individuals, particularly in the West. Massive firms could use such information as part of an effort to reshape people’s allegiances. As states perceive corporations as potential threats to their power, they will take action to keep such companies at bay.



After embarking on exactly the kind of cringe-inducing apology tour one would expect following the revelation that Cambridge Analytica plundered the data of millions of Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg has yet another mess on his hands. Over the weekend, Android owners were displeased to discover that Facebook had been scraping their text-message and phone-call metadata, in some cases for years, an operation hidden in the fine print of a user agreement clause until Ars Technica reported. Facebook was quick to defend the practice as entirely aboveboard—small comfort to those who are beginning to realize that, because Facebook is a free service, they and their data are by necessity the products.

The role cyber defenders play in the future Army tactical network

By: Mark Pomerleau   

After the Army made the decision to halt major portions of its tactical network, the service began looking at how to build a next-generation tactical network that can survive against a peer adversary.

This is a dauting task.

“We’re looking to get a dedicated liaison from Army Cyber [Command] just because we want … to make sure [cyber resiliency is] baked in on the front end of everything we’re doing,” Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, the network cross functional team lead told C4ISRNET at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama March 26. “I need a red team helping us as we go through this experimentation and demonstration as part of our assessment team.”

Life Inside S.C.L., Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company

By Sam Knight
Since last week, when stories ran in the Observer, the Times, and on Britain’s Channel 4 News about Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the S.C.L. Group, the organizations have been portrayed as possessing frightening ability and power. According to a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, who helped set up Cambridge Analytica, in 2013, the company managed to obtain the Facebook data of fifty million Americans, creating a digital platform of unprecedented influence and accuracy—“Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool,” in Wylie’s phrase—that was deployed by the Trump campaign in 2016. S.C.L. and its subsidiaries have also been linked to the two main Leave campaigns during Britain’s E.U. referendum of 2016, which boasted of their digital prowess. S.C.L. denies those links—which include documents, witnesses, and its own employees acknowledging their existence—to the point of incredulity. Which leaves you wondering exactly what it means when a political consultancy boasts of its methods in “behavior change,” “military influence campaigns,” “psychographic segmentation,” and other euphemisms for messing with your mind.

The hidden pitfalls of digital regulation

Regulation that hampers product innovation or user experience will help Facebook, which already benefits from network externalities  Facebook has been at the centre of public debate since the news of Russian trolls influencing the 2016 US presidential elections. The Cambridge Analytica controversy has given new life to calls for government regulation. Most tech companies are usually wary of government involvement and adopt a proactive approach to self-regulate instead. But Facebook founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has come out in favour of some government regulation. He told Wired, “The question isn’t, ‘Should there be regulation or shouldn’t there be?’ It’s ‘How do you do it?’”


Source Link

SATELLITE DISHES MARK the main gate of Fort Gordon, eggshell white and lasering up at the moon. It’s a modest shrine, as these things go. Many military bases put machines of might on the front porch—tanks or helos or jumbo artillery guns—but the dishes fit Fort Gordon just fine. They’re subtle. They’re quiet. Inside the gates it’s more of the same. Fort Gordon sits in a soft Georgian basin, the traditional home of the US Army Signal Corps. Signal has been around since the Civil War and has long been responsible for military communications—flags and torches back in the day, radios and cables and mesh networks in the more recent past. Recently, this staple of warfare started sharing its digs with a new branch: cyber. Find the right Signal old-timer, maybe one feeling cranky or deep in their cups in a bar along the dark Augusta riverfront, and they’ll talk candidly about this new branch. They say it with envy, and sibling affection. Still, though. They say it.

Cyber-Attack Now Largest Threat For Swiss Banks

Tom Jowitt 
Source Link

Swiss watchdog FINMA warn that cyber-attacks now pose the biggest risk facing banks in Switzerland Cyber threats are now the biggest threat to the Swiss financial system, that country’s watchdog has warned. Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued the warning on Tuesday and urged the Swiss government to step up its national defences against the menace. Earlier this week, Europol arrested the leader of the crime gang behind the Carbanak and Cobalt malware attacks that had targetted over a 100 financial institutions worldwide. This gang is thought to be responsible for the loss of over 1 billion euros (£870m) for the financial industry

Digital Countries - Like the US and the UK - Make the Best Cyberwarfare Targets

Steve Andriole 

While these countries are deservedly proud of their rankings, they should also be fearful: the greater a country’s digital maturity, the greater its vulnerability. This simple equation makes the US, the UK, Japan and other digitally competitive countries far more vulnerable to cyberwarfare than those that are digitally underdeveloped. This irony is not to be discounted.

Is Anyone Home? 


Source Link

Violence, like Twitter, is a means of communication. If we do not understand it as such, its place in international relations makes no sense. As Thomas Schelling wrote in 1966: “The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy — vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy.” Thinkers such as Joseph Nye and John Arquilla have argued that future wars will be determined by “whose story wins” more than who wins on the battlefield. Any analysis of narratives affecting war, however, must explain how violence itself shapes and destroys narratives. Violence may be a terrible way of communicating, but it will always be the ultimate way for states to signal their intentions and capabilities when discourse fails.

Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR)

Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) reveals that not only has the sheer volume of threats increased, but the threat landscape has become more diverse, with attackers working harder to discover new avenues of attack and cover their tracks while doing so.

The Perils of ‘Big Data’: Secretive California Firm Palantir Technologies Helped Build App Used by Cambridge Analytica to Harvest Facebook User Personal Data

Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg

As a start-up called Cambridge Analytica sought to harvest the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans in summer 2014, the company received help from at least one employee at Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon. It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Where People Are Working Beyond 65

There is a huge disparity in employment rates among over 65s across different countries.

A recent OECD report found that the highest rates of people working beyond 65 are in Asia with Indonesia particularly notable as having a 50.6 percent employment among those in the 65-69 age group. That figure is high elsewhere in Asia, standing at 45 percent in South Korea and 42.8 percent in Japan.