4 April 2018

The end of privacy

Kaushik Deka 

"Both the public and the private sector are collecting and using personal data at an unprecedented scale and for multifarious purposes. While data can be put to beneficial use, the unregulated and arbitrary use of data, especially personal data, has raised concerns regarding the privacy and autonomy of an individual. Some of the concerns relate to centralisation of databases, profiling of individuals, increased surveillance and a consequent erosion of individual autonomy."

The Decline of the American Brand

Source Link

For the first time in decades, America is consciously squandering the gifts of its geography.
What is the United States in functional, geopolitical terms? In the words of the great British geographer of a century ago, Halford Mackinder, the temperate zone of North America is the greatest of the island-satellites of the Afro-Eurasian land mass, able to deeply affect the Old World while protected from its daily political eruptions at the same time. World War II damaged or decimated the infrastructure of every great power—except that of the United States.

Moreover, bordering not one ocean but two, the United States since its emergence on the world stage in the Spanish-American War of 1898 has been a naval power. Because of the moral taboo against the use of nuclear weapons, the Navy has always been America’s principal strategic instrument. One cannot deploy tens of thousands of American soldiers or marines overseas without a great public debate, but aircraft carrier strike groups—with their colossal firepower and thousands of sailors—move regularly from one geographic theater to another with barely any media notice. The deadliest navy in history aligned with a unique, resource-rich geography has made America a natural leader. After all, naval power by itself indicates a certain security on land, allowing for the luxury of liberal ideals in the first place.

For decades, the United States Navy has in large measure protected the sea lines of communications and maritime choke points, encouraging a free world trading order and universal access to hydrocarbons. Indeed, without the services of the U.S. Navy, globalization as we know it would be impossible to imagine. Historically, sea powers have fostered liberalism more than land powers. There are no places on earth more conducive to cosmopolitan values than ports and harbors. The empires of Venice and Great Britain, with all of their faults, are examples of this. “Without the Athenian navy,” writes Cambridge-educated historian John R. Hale, “there would have been no Parthenon, no tragedies of Sophocles or Euripides, no Republic of Plato or Politics of Aristotle.”

To Win the Peace, Afghans Must Be in the Driver’s Seat

By M. Ashraf Haidari

In “The U.S. Needs to Talk to the Taliban” a New York Times op-ed run on March 19, Borhan Osman mistakenly reduces the popularly elected National Unity Government (NUG) of Afghanistan to one of the internal “factions.” To the contrary, the NUG enjoys a broad popular mandate and support. Like any democracy, Afghanistan is hardly devoid of political differences, which underpin the very essence of democracy: recall tensions in the U.S. two-party system or in the multiparty coalition governments of Europe.

Pakistan financial woes exposing more cracks in Belt and Road?

The China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is putting strain on Pakistan’s public finances and currency, some are saying, casting a shadow over Xi Jinping’s signature connectivity plan.Jonathan Rogers writes in The Asset on potential hiccups for the grand infrastructure scheme. “[Pakistan’s] current account worsened substantially last year on the back of a sharp increase in imports due to trade activity related to the Belt Road initiative. “This in turn has put pressure on the Pakistan rupee, which was the worst performer in the Asian currency complex last year and which has experienced downside revaluation pressure since December, with two sharp legs down met with a depletion of the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: The Uyghur Challenge and the Chinese Security Model

By Veena Ramachandran

Recent news reports on the alleged arrest and detention of 50 Uyghur women married to Pakistani men from Gilgit Baltistan and a resolution passed by the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) demanding the federal government in Pakistan take steps to release these women exemplify the escalating on-ground mistrust between the so-called “iron-brothers.” Gilgit Baltistan is significant for both China and Pakistan since the region serves as the gateway to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which has seen a $62 billion investment by the Chinese.

China Is Filling the Africa-Sized Gap in US Strategy


The Trump administration is hardly the first to give Africa short shrift in its national security considerations. The continent received a measly three paragraphs in the 2015 National Security Strategy, mostly concerning epidemic diseases and intrastate conflict, with bare mentions of economic and political engagement. But the stakes are higher now. China is spreading its economic influence across the continent, and securing the production of minerals key to modern electronics. The Africa-sized gap in U.S. strategic thinking must be closed with comprehensive policy before it threatens the interests of Americans and Africans alike.

The U.S. vs. China: A Trade War?

by Frank Li

President Trump has just practically declared a trade war against China (Trump Declares War On China's Unfair Trade Practices). There have been many publications over this matter (Did Donald Trump really just launch a trade war with China?). It's time for me to chip in my two cents: it's a bad thing for both America and China! War, a trade war or otherwise, is bad! War should be used only as the last resort - the only solution to a well-defined problem!

1. What's the problem?

Why Kim Jong Un Went to China

By Evan Osnos

As a signpost along the course of history, there is no ritual more pregnant with uncertainty than the handshake portrait. At some points, it has proved to be a marker of renewal: Robert E. Lee surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, in 1865. At others, it has been the prelude to disaster: a smiling Neville Chamberlain extending his hand to Adolf Hitler, in 1938. The medium and the wardrobe change, but the essential dynamic stays the same: powerful, sometimes villainous, figures balancing the weight of self-interest, dignity, and mutual suspicion. When the history of Asia in the twenty-first century is written, the portrait of Kim Jong Un’s surprise encounter with Xi Jinping this week may take its place in the pantheon. Kim had not left the country or met with another head of state since coming to power, more than six years ago. Despite relying on China for trade and weapons, he had flouted Beijing’s entreaties to drop his nuclear program and had even gone so far as to test missiles on days when Xi was trying to host solemn occasions, a gesture that seemed either calculated or unconcerned with Xi’s embarrassment.

Why China Is A Leader In Intellectual Property And What The US Has To Do With It

by Alice de Jonge
In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, western firms like Apple and Intel made large profits by investing in China to take advantage of the cheap labour, often at terrific human cost. As China's economy grew, and the population became wealthier, western firms were then able to profit by selling their products back to the wealthier children of the same labour force which made themThe Chinese government saw this happening, and wanted western firms benefiting from the Chinese market to give something back. It established a system of approving foreign investments on the condition the businesses involved agreed to partner with local firms and transfer knowledge and skills to the local Chinese market.

How Will China Retaliate beyond Tariffs?

As the Trump administration prepares a series of trade actions and investment restrictionsagainst China, Beijing has signaled its intention to respond. Besides reports of coming Chinese counter tariffs, with no clear timeline, possibly on U.S. agriculture exports or aircraft, there is much uncertainty about what form Chinese retaliation could take. There are credible rumors of Beijing drawing up lists of U.S. companies with strong domestic counterparts that it would block from the Chinese market (however, there is no publicly available information on this). Chinese media is awash with nationalist calls for a tougher stance against the United States. One user posted: “The US had already declared a war. Why we were only making slogans?”

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.

U.S. National Security Strategy and the MENA Region

By Anthony Cordesman

America's allies, and other states, can scarcely be blamed for being confused by the changes taking place in U.S. strategy. U.S. national security strategy has announced in three different unclassified documents at three different times, and in very different levels of detail: A National Security Strategy issued by the White House—with the authority of the President—on December 17, 2017, and focusing on U.S. domestic and civil programs as well as national security. A National Defense Security Strategy issued by the Department of Defense—with the authority of the Secretary of Defense—on January 18, 2018, and focusing on defense and national security. The U.S. defense budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. This consists of a wide range of over 1,000 pages of data in a wide range of different documents summarized in a Budget Overview document issued by the Comptroller's Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense but based on the budget and programs approved by the White House and approved by the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This summary is specifically described as presenting the budget in strategic terms. 

Foreign Fighters who Travelled to Syria and Iraq Since 2011

Climate Conflicts: Myth or Reality?

By Hayley Stevenson

The specter of water wars has long loomed large in political and popular imaginations. With the end of the Cold War, fresh concerns emerged that future wars would be fought not over ideology but over natural resources. The alliteratively appealing phrase of “water wars” began rolling off the tongue as United Nations leaders and politicians made bold claims about the inevitable carnage that resource scarcity would bring. Climate change heightens these concerns as the gap widens between what science tells us is necessary and what politics tells us is feasible.

Russia Employs New ‘Hybrid War’ Methods Against Georgia

By: Giorgi Menabde

The Moscow-backed authorities of separatist South Ossetia released, on March 23, Georgian citizens David Gerkeuli and Iosif Gundishvili (Imedinews March 23). The two men had been arrested by South Ossetian KGB agents (the special service of this breakaway republic still carries the old Soviet name) and Russian border guards (Kavkazsky Uzel, March 22). Gerkeuli and Gundishvili were accused of “violating the state border of South Ossetia.” Relatives of the detainees told reporters that they were going to church when the agents seized them in an ambush. The arrested were released after the family paid a fine (Imedinews, March 23).

Russian Military Chief Lays Out the Kremlin’s High-Tech War Plans


The U.S. military isn’t alone in its plans to pour money into drones, ground robots, and artificially intelligent assistants for command and control. Russia, too, will be increasing investment in these areas, as well as space and information warfare, Russian Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov told members of the Russian Military Academy of the General Staff last Saturday. In the event of war, Russia would consider economic and non-military government targets fair game, he said.

This is how new technologies could improve education forever

Mark Esposito, Harvard University, Division of Continuing Education 

In this era of machine meritocracy, the traditional systems of learning and education must be changed to match the reality of a future dominated by phenomena such as blockchain and artificial intelligence. Self-education at home is already a reality, as web-based learning through the likes of Khan Academy, Coursera, TED, Wikipedia and YouTube are among the most prominent free knowledge hubs in the world.

Russia’s Unhappy Energy Marriage with China

By Nicholas Trickett

As Putin has become the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin, the country’s economic and political stagnation is drawing more and more comparisons to the Leonid Brezhnev era. Putin’s political system cannot survive the stresses imposed by major reforms needed to improve the economy, creating a deepening dependency on foreign policy in all its forms to secure legitimacy and, more importantly, money. By all appearances, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is tightening his control of the state and policy. This dynamic poses problems for the Kremlin’s most important relationship with a non-Western power.

Debating a Shared History in Eastern Europe

In 2014, Ukraine’s Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted from power after refusing to sign an association agreement with the EU. Since then, two parts of Ukraine’s history have been brought to the forefront in Ukrainian politics, and both have been used as symbols of Ukrainian resistance and its fight for independence. The first is the Holodomor, a famine imposed by the Soviet regime in the early 1930s that killed millions of Ukrainians and was intended to eliminate Ukraine’s independence movement. The second is the paramilitary Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, and Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Both groups were involved in the massacre of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, two regions that were at the time split between Poland and western Ukraine, during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Exclusive: On board the 'Doomsday' plane that can wage nuclear war

By Jamie Crawford and Barbara Starr

Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (CNN)If Russia aimed a long range missile like the "Satan 2" it just tested or North Korea suddenly targeted the headquarters of the US nuclear arsenal, top commanders would have a small window to get to safety. But the US is ready for such a scenario and the four-star general tasked with executing the US response to a nuclear strike would take to the air within minutes. He'd be able to carry out the President's orders and launch a nuclear attack in response from the safety of a specially equipped jet, known as the "Doomsday" plane. "I have a certain amount of minutes to get on that plane and for that plane to get off and to a safe distance before a nuclear weapon went off here," John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command, told CNN in an exclusive interview earlier this month from his headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in eastern Nebraska.

Some Reflections on Journalism

By Roger Cohen

When I was young and in Buenos Aires, fair city, melancholy city, a friend said to me: “Journalism’s a cheap shot for you.” I never asked what she meant but I never forgot it either. I think she meant that journalism tends to stop where artistic creation begins, and that is the realm of deeper truths. Buenos Aires was awakening to the scope of a national nightmare. Every conversation seemed to end in tears as parents, haunted by terrible imaginings, recalled their children who had been “disappeared” by the military junta. That many of the thousands of corpses were dumped from planes into the Atlantic between 1976 and 1983 was not yet known.

The Challenge of Bias in AI

One of the most prominent topics at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive this year was Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has seen an explosion of interest over the last five years. A good AI application requires sifting through copious amounts of data in order for the AI platform to train itself and learn to recognize patterns. The challenge here, and one that several panels at SXSW focused on, was bias in data sets. When data sets are developed by humans, AI will mirror the biases of its creators. In 2015, for example, Google Photos auto-tagged several black people as gorillas because it lacked a database large enough for proper tagging. Other examples illuminate gender biases in machine learning.

Legal Implications of Discriminatory Algorithms

Protecting critical infrastructure from dire threats

By: Deborah Lee James  

In this file photo, a concrete pole carrying feeder lines stands outside an electric company substation in the U.S. Hackers likely linked to the North Korean government targeted U.S. electricity grid workers in September 2017, according to a security firm that says it detected and stopped the attacks, which didn't threaten any critical infrastructure. But the attempted breaches raise concerns. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)  IP NETs, a technology that fits well with plug-and-play devices and software, are increasingly the go-to for multiple types of communication. But recent events show that IP NETs have opened communications and operations to truly dire cyber-threats.

The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops

Tamsin Shaw 

Apparently, the age of the old-fashioned spook is in decline. What is emerging instead is an obscure world of mysterious boutique companies specializing in data analysis and online influence that contract with government agencies. As they say about hedge funds, if the general public has heard their names that’s probably not a good sign. But there is now one data analysis company that anyone who pays attention to the US and UK press has heard of: Cambridge Analytica. Representatives have boasted that their list of past and current clients includes the British Ministry of Defense, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of State, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and NATO. Nevertheless, they became recognized for just one influence campaign: the one that helped Donald Trump get elected president of the United States. The kind of help the company offered has since been the subject of much unwelcome legal and journalistic scrutiny. 

The psychology behind Cambridge Analytica is massively overhyped

Olivia Goldhill

Cambridge Analytica talks a big talk. “We can use ‘big data’ to understand exactly what messages each specific group within a target audience need to hear,” Alexander Nix, the company’s chief executive, said at a marketing conference last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Documents circulated by SCL Elections, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, claimed to be “experts in measurable behavioral change.” The company claimed its methodology, “enables us to understand how people think and identify what it would take to change their mindsets and associated voting patterns.”

Why (almost) everything reported about the Cambridge Analytica Facebook ‘hacking’ controversy is wrong

If you follow the Guardian or the New York Times, or any major news network, you are likely to have noticed that a company called Cambridge Analytica have been in the headlines a lot.  The basic story as reported is as follows: A shady UK data analytics company, with the help of a 24 year old tech genius developed an innovative technique to ‘hack’ facebook and steal 50 million user profiles. Then they used this data to help the Trump and Brexit campaigns psychologically manipulate voters through targeted ads. The result was Vote Leave ‘won’ the UK’s Brexit referendum and Trump was elected president in the US.

Unfortunately, almost everything in the above summary is false or misleading.

The Seemingly Random and Definitely Worrisome Cyberattack on Atlanta

By Charles Bethea

Last Thursday morning, the Atlanta city councilmember Howard Shook walked into his office and immediately began following the urgent recommendation of his I.T. department: “Principally,” he recalled, “turn off everything.” Shook, who represents District Seven, in Atlanta’s northeastern metropolitan area, has three computers in his office, all of which had been infected with ransomware. “Sixteen years’ worth of information—gone,” he told me. “Every e-mail. All our contacts. All our files: city policy, district-specific projects, activities. It’s devastating.” A few days later, his office was given a clean, unused laptop from the city-council inventory. The I.T. department has since provided new passwords and strengthened the e-mail filters “to the point where there’s a lot of stuff that’s probably not getting in that should get in.”

Infographic Of The Day: The Rising Problem Of Crypto Theft, And How To Protect Yourself

With millions of dollars being stolen via crypto theft, investors and other dabblers in cryptocurrency must take precautions to protect their assets for the long haul.

A Horror Story: Facebook’s Long History of Privacy Failures and Its Inability or Unwillingness to Fix the Problems

“We’ve made a bunch of mistakes.” ″Everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times.” ″Not one day goes by when I don’t think about what it means for us to be the stewards of this community and their trust.” Lawmakers in many countries may be focused on Cambridge Analytica’s alleged improper use of Facebook data, but the social network’s privacy problems go back more than a decade. Here are some of the company’s most notable missteps and promises around privacy.

12 trends that leaders at the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command are watching

By: Mark Pomerleau   

By 2025, the Army sees ground troops conducting foot patrols in urban terrain with robots—called Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicles—that carry rucksacks and other equipment. Unmanned aircraft could serve as spotters, according to the Army’s new strategy for robotic and autonomous systems. (US Army) As the political landscape changes in Europe, the Army is considering new ways to solve problems related to weapons of mass destruction, cyberattacks, and electronic warfare. At the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama this week, Jerry Leverich, who works in Army’s Training and Doctrine Command directorate of intelligence, outlined 12 trends and technologies that his organization is watching to help with that role.

Army Outlines Futures Command; Org Chart In Flux


Army Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) test-fires a Longbow Hellfire.

AUSA GLOBAL FORCE SYMPOSIUM: Army Futures Command is meant to unify modernization efforts now scattered across the bureaucracy. But to create the new command, the Army must rip some existing organizations apart. The Army’s challenge is to close more gaps than they create. In the Army’s biggest reorganization since the 1970s, AFC will take over unspecified elements of Army Test & Evaluation Command (ATEC), Research & Development Command (RDECOM) from Army Materiel Command (AMC), and 
at least parts of Army Capability Integration Center (ARCIC) from Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC).