1 July 2019

India wins solar case against US at WTO

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Ravi Kanth

Geneva: India on Thursday won a major trade dispute against the US at the World Trade Organization, with a dispute settlement panel pronouncing that subsidies and mandatory local content requirements instituted by eight American states breached global trade rules.

In a significant 100-page report, the three-member panel largely upheld India’s claims that subsidies and local content requirement in 11 renewable energy programmes in eight US states violated core global trade rules. The panel also asked the US to ensure that these states are in conformity with trade rules.

India had claimed that the “domestic content requirements and subsidies instituted by the governments of the states of Washington, California, Montana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Michigan, Delaware and Minnesota in the energy sector" violated several provisions of the Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) Agreement and Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement.

Trump demands India withdraw "very high tariffs" on U.S. products

President Trump called on India Wednesday night t0 withdraw its tariffs on U.S. products, ahead of meeting with the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this week's G20 summit.
I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!

The big picture: India imposed higher tariffs on 28 U.S. products this month, after the Trump administration withdrew the South Asian country's preferential trade status under the Generalized System of Preferences scheme. India was the biggest beneficiary of the scheme, which allowed duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion, per Reuters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in New Delhi on Wednesday, where he said he's "very confident" that the 2 countries could find a solution to the trade standoff.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in President Trump's trade war, designed to cut U.S. deficits. The tariffs on products including almonds and apples are as high as 70% on some items and are in response to Washington's refusal to exempt Delhi from higher taxes on steel and aluminium imports.

Ghani To Discuss Four Key Issues In Pakistan Trip

Chakhansuri says four issues will be discussed during in Ghani's visit, including regional connectivity, trade, transit, investment, security and the peace process. 

President Ashraf Ghani is expected to discuss four key issues with the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during his upcoming trip to Islamabad which will take place on June 27, presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said on Tuesday as critics continue to blast the president over the planned trip to the neighboring nation. 

Security, peace talks with the Taliban, regional connectivity, trade ties, and investment will dominate agenda during the meeting with the Pakistani leadership, said Chakhansuri. 

The Afghan government has said that the trip will also help to find out how Pakistan can contribute to the Afghan peace process. 

According to the Afghan government, Ghani accepted the invitation by the Pakistani leader on the recommendation of members of the peace consultative Loya Jirga which was held in April. 

How the digital economy is shaping a new Bangladesh

With the advent of rapid digitalization, many developing countries like Bangladesh are focusing on the digital economy: a global market for digital outsourcing.

The digitalization of a country’s economy not only drives innovation in its service industry, it also fuels domestic job opportunities, enabling faster economic growth. In the quest to lower costs and risks, many large corporations in developed nations like the US, UK and Australia are turning to IT outsourcingfrom countries including Bangladesh, leading to a recent boom in freelancing.

Freelancing jobs include everything from computer programming to web design, tax preparation, and search engine optimization. This has generated a wide range of new opportunities for people in emerging markets that did not previously exist. Asia has become the number-one region for providing outsourcing services to the rest of the world.

China by numbers: 10 facts to help you understand the superpower today

China, home to almost a fifth of the world’s population, is a country of superlatives. Forty years of economic growth, at an average of nearly 10% a year, has transformed the country into a global leader in technology and manufacturing.

Its economy is now second only in size to the United States - larger if trade is taken into account - and it is home to six of the world’s megacities.

Despite its trade dispute with the US, China enjoyed first-quarter growth of 6.4%this year, more than double the UN’s forecast for the rest of the world.

China’s quest for soft power


Many people around the world and are thrilled by the rapid rise of China within a span of a single generation. But people’s perception of China is informed and influenced by two different schools of thought.

First, the China exceptionalism school trumpets how great, resilient, and responsive the Chinese system is with full accounts on how China plans to take over the world by stealth. For the proponents of this school, the Chinese regime is not only flexible but exceptional enough to overcome the enormous internal and external challenges the country faces.

Second, the China imminent collapse school, on the other hand, argues that China will be the victim of its success. Huge ecological damage, an insurmountable pile of bad debt – in both the public and the private sector – and simmering dissent over corruption and crony capitalism are put forward to assert the rationale of China’s looming collapse. The proponents of this school tend to forget the potential opportunities as China climbs the industrial, scientific, and cultural value chain.

America Has Been ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ on China’s Rare-Earth Threat

By Lara Seligman

On the eve of a highly anticipated meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during this weekend’s G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Congress is growing increasingly concerned that the supply of critical rare-earth minerals found in every advanced weapon in the U.S. arsenal could be a casualty of the escalating trade war.

Chinese officials have in recent months raised the specter that Beijing could potentially cut off supplies of critical rare-earth materials—key components in products including cell phones and smart bombs—to the United States in response to Trump’s decision to impose harsh tariffs on Chinese goods and blacklist the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Experts say such a move by China could devastate the United States’ ability to wage war, as Beijing controls more than 90 percent of the global production of these minerals. 

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and former chemistry teacher, wants the Defense Department to do more to tackle this threat. She introduced legislation in the annual defense policy bill that would, if passed into law, require the Pentagon to come up with a plan to help shore up the domestic rare-earth industry and establish a secure supply chain for the materials. 

It’s time to give up on the failed trade war strategy with China

David Dollar

The U.S. has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion of products from China and is threatening 25% tariffs on the remainder of our imports from China—an additional $300 billion. The objective for the Trump administration is to reduce the U.S. trade deficit, bring manufacturing jobs back from China to the U.S., and put an end to unfair Chinese trade practices including forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and subsidies to state enterprises.

With the growing U.S. protection aimed at China, U.S. imports from China are declining. In the most recent data, from January through April, the U.S. imported $20.6 billion less from China than in the same period of 2018 (see chart). But imports from other partners have gone up. Increased imports from Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan partly reflect shifts in global value chains. China is at both the middle and end of many value chains. If final assembly shifts to Mexico (or Vietnam, or Bangladesh), then the U.S. tariffs can be avoided. China is still providing much of the value added; its exports to countries other than the U.S. are rising. Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles phones for Apple, has said that it could service the U.S. market from non-Chinese plants that it already has. Meanwhile, it will still continue to produce in China, for the Chinese, European, and other non-U.S. markets.

Hong Kong’s Crisis and Prospects for the Pro-Democracy Movement

By: Joseph Y.S. Cheng

Introduction—Disputes Over the Extradition Bill Spill into the Streets of Hong Kong

On Sunday, June 9, just over one million Hong Kong residents took part in a protest rally against the introduction of the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019” (hereafter “Extradition Bill”), which had been introduced into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council by the city administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam (Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, 林鄭月娥). The draft Extradition Bill would allow Hong Kong people to be extradited to regions subject to the full authority of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). [1] As PRC courts are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and therefore offer no genuine due process to defendants who might face charges for political reasons, the bill had aroused widespread opposition in Hong Kong.

Sanctions on Iran's Supreme Leader Go Beyond Symbolism

The United States, reacting to the shooting down of a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle last week, launched two sanctions-related salvos against Iran on June 24. It layered sanctions on top of those already targeting commanders in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which are unlikely to have more than a limited effect on the Iranian economy. The second set of sanctions, targeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his appointees, could bite much deeper than typical sanctions issued by the United States by hampering Iran's engagement with the world and damaging its economy.

An Executive Order Lays the Groundwork

An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump freezes all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction that is held by Iran's supreme leader or the supreme leader's office. In addition, the order allows the U.S. Treasury Department to similarly sanction any person or entity the supreme leader, or his office, appoints, such as a state official or the head of an entity such as a company leader. The order also extends that connection a step further, allowing sanctions to be placed on any appointment made by an appointee of the supreme leader, as well. It also threatens sanctions against anyone who provides support for people or entities sanctioned under those designations.

The U.S. and Iran are Already at War Online


When a U.S. Navy surveillance drone was shot down over the Strait of Hormuzon June 20, the U.S. blamed Iran. The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said his country was “ready for war,” and President Donald Trump responded by declaring that Iran had made a “very big mistake.” Around the world, observers worried that the two countries were headed for battle. In a sense, however, they were already at war.

Also on June 20, the U.S. military conducted a Trump-approved cyberstrike on Iran-linked computer systems, U.S. officials say; two days later, the Department of Homeland Security reported it had seen a “rise in malicious cyber activity” directed at U.S. industry by hackers with Tehran ties. These were the latest moves in a rapidly escalating cyberconflict that is proving to be a test run in the future of war. Compared with a potential military clash over the drone’s destruction, the little noticed computer skirmish may seem reassuring. But if it was an off-ramp from the highway to airstrikes and invasion, it also posed new dangers of its own.

As America and Iran inch closer to war, new talks are needed

For nearly four years Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon was blocked. The deal it signed with America and other powers in 2015 limited its nuclear programme to civilian uses, such as power-generation, and subjected them to the toughest inspection regime in history. The experts agreed that Iran was complying and that its nuclear activities were contained. But then President Donald Trump ditched the nuclear deal and Iran resumed stockpiling low-enriched uranium. It is now poised to breach the 300kg cap set by the agreement. Iran may hesitate before crossing that line, but it is also threatening to increase the enrichment level of its uranium, bringing it closer to the stuff that goes into a bomb.

Fortunately, Iran is not about to become a nuclear-weapons power. Its breakout time is over a year. But it is once again using its nuclear programme to heap pressure on America. That adds an explosive new element to an already-volatile mix. America accuses Iran of attacking six ships in the Strait of Hormuz since May. On June 20th Iran shot down an American spy drone. America insisted the aircraft was above international waters, not Iran’s, and sent warplanes to strike back. Ten minutes before they were due to hit targets inside Iran Mr Trump called them off and contented himself with a cyber-attack instead.

Istanbul Shows How Democracy Is Won


ISTANBUL – When the Turkish High Election Council, dominated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointees, annulled Istanbul’s all-important municipal election on May 6, the world was right to be concerned. But now that another vote has been held, it is Erdoğan who should be worried.

This year’s local elections – originally held on March 31 – have been widely regarded as a referendum on Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule. With the re-vote in Istanbul, the full results are now in. The opposition coalition, led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), won in Turkey’s three most important metropolitan areas: Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul. As the country’s economic capital and most populous city, Istanbul was the real prize. In addition to its symbolic importance, it also confers significant power and resources (and opportunities for corruption) on those who control it. As Erdoğan himself has said, “whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey.”

Like populist leaders in the Philippines, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere, Erdoğan, who began his own political career as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990s, seemed prepared to do what was needed to reverse an electoral outcome that didn’t go his way. But the opposition ignored those who wanted it to boycott the re-vote, and instead went into the new election with even stronger resolve, soundly defeating Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, and Istanbul since 1994. The new mayor, Ekrem Imamoğlu of the CHP, captured over 54% of the vote against former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım of the AKP.


The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. AQI had around 700-1000 fighters then. ISIS had as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria in August 2018 according to a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate. ISIS built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years. It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today.

The slow-motion reduction of ISIS’s territory and strength initiated by President Obama and continued by President Trump gave the group plenty of time to plan and prepare for the next phase of the war. It had a plan to recover ready before the “caliphate” fell and has been executing it during the anti-ISIS campaign conducted by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the U.S.-Led Anti-ISIS Coalition. ISIS deliberately withdrew and relocated many of its fighters and their families from Mosul, Raqqa, and other important cities into new and old support zones in Iraq and Syria. ISIS’s forces are now dispersed across both countries and are waging a capable insurgency. ISIS retained a global finance network that funded its transition back to an insurgency and managed to preserve sufficient weapons and other supplies in tunnel systems and other support zones in order to equip its regenerated insurgent force.

Iran and Cyber Power

James Andrew Lewis

Iran has rapidly improved its cyber capabilities. It is still not in the top rank of cyber powers, but it is ahead of most nations in strategy and organization for cyber warfare. Iran has a good appreciation for the utility of cyber as an instrument of national power. Its extensive experience in covert activities help guide its strategy and operations using cyber as a tool for coercion and force, and it has created a sophisticated organizational structure to manage cyber conflict. This means any attack on the United States will not be accidental but part of a larger strategy of confrontation. 

Iran sees cyberattacks as part of the asymmetric military capabilities it needs to confront the United States. Iran’s development of cyber power is a reaction to its vulnerabilities. Iran is the regular target of foreign cyber espionage. Iran and Israel are engaged in a not-always covert cyber conflict. Stuxnet, a cyberattack on Iranian nuclear weapons facilities, accelerated Iran's own cyber efforts. What Iran’s leaders fear most, however, is their own population and the risk that the internet will unleash something like the Arab Spring. Iranian security forces began to develop their hacking abilities during the 2009 “Green Revolution” to extend domestic surveillance and control. These domestic efforts are the roots of Iran's cyber capabilities. 

From Iran to Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Trump’s Economic Focus Misses the Point

Ellen Laipson

President Donald Trump views foreign policy through the narrow lens of economic self-interest. He has reduced the notion of American power and influence to a question of whether the United States is getting a “good deal,” measured only in terms of who is paying for what—say, the cost of basing U.S. troops. Gone are any references to the intangible benefits of international cooperation, let alone the common good. It’s how he has approached relations with NATO and with America’s allies in Asia. In recent days, this economic-centric view of U.S. foreign policy has been on display in Trump’s clumsy and erratic Iran policy, and in the underwhelming rollout of his so-called plan for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

Economic incentives and economic pressures are, of course, legitimate tools of international relations and fall along a continuum from positive inducements and peaceful transactions to coercion and pressure that, if insufficient in achieving their aims, can be precursors to open hostilities and war. Think U.S. oil sanctions against Japan in the run-up to World War II, or, at the other end of the spectrum, the Marshall Plan as an American investment in Europe’s postwar economic recovery that created huge political and security benefits to the U.S. that lasted for decades. 

EU to run war games to prepare for Russian and Chinese cyber-attacks

Daniel Boffey
The EU is to conduct war games to prepare for Russian and Chinese cyber-attacks, in response to a series of incidents that alarmed European governments.

Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s foreign minister, said an increase in the prevalence of meddling required a reaction from the 28 member states. During meetings in Helsinki in July and September, EU interior and finance ministers will be asked to manage fictional scenarios.

Finland, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on 1 July, believes Russia was responsible for blocking GPS signals last October when Finnish forces took part in Nato military exercises in Norway.

The Kremlin was also accused of trying to launch a cyber-attack on the headquarters of the international chemical weapons watchdog in an operation that was ultimately foiled by Dutch military intelligence.

Rethinking US-China competition: Next generation perspectives

From a potential “responsible stakeholder” to a “strategic competitor,” the U.S. government’s description of China has changed dramatically over the past years. Once a de facto partner in the Cold War, Beijing is increasingly seen as an economic rival at home and a challenge to American power in Asia and perhaps abroad. Furthermore, as knowledge of China’s social controls and treatment of ethnic Uighurs spreads, many Americans wonder what role values and human rights should play in U.S. policy toward Beijing. The discourse around China and its role in the world is changing.

In spring 2019, Brookings Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Bruce Jones convened four Brookings scholars and affiliates—Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Ryan Hass, and Mira Rapp-Hooper—to probe how the rising generation of foreign policy scholars think about the evolving debate around China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship.

The edited transcript below reflects their assessments of China’s evolving foreign policy intentions, their debates on how to define the changing U.S.-China relationship, the dynamics of strategic competition between Washington and Beijing, as well as potential policy responses.

On U.S.-China trade, America is off track

Ryan Hass

One of America’s greatest strengths is its ability to self-correct. Unlike China, with its one-party state and its censored media, the United States fosters a constant competition of ideas, which enables it to adjust course when it veers off track. And right now, the United States is off track in its approach to addressing trade problems with China.

President Trump was directionally correct in prioritizing efforts to address China’s unfair economic practices. There is broad agreement that Beijing’s policies of shielding Chinese companies from foreign competition, pumping them full of subsidies, and then unleashing them on the global market where they can undercut market-based competitors are unfair. But the tactics President Trump and his team have pursued to change China’s behavior have done more harm than good for American farmers, workers, pensioners, and business owners.

Here are the facts: Tariffs will cost the average American household $831 this year; farmers have suffered over $1 billion in lost exports, mostly to China; farm foreclosures are spiking across the Midwest; businesses that rely on imports of intermediate goods from China are getting squeezed; and Chinese purchasing patterns are shifting from U.S. firms to foreign competitors. For all these reasons and more, the American Chamber of Commerce has urged the Trump administration to end its trade war with China, warning that continuing down the current path risks costing the U.S. economy $1 trillion over the next decade.

U.S. Versus China: A New Era of Great Power Competition, but Without Boundaries

By Edward Wong

WASHINGTON — When President Trump meets President Xi Jinping of China this week to discuss contentious trade issues, they will face each other in another nation that was once the United States’ main commercial rival, seen as a threat to American dominance.

But the competition between the United States and Japan, which hosts the Group of 20 summit this week for the first time, settled into a normal struggle among businesses after waves of American anxiety in the 1980s. Japan hit a decade of stagnation, and in 2010, China overtook it as the world’s second-largest economy.

There is no sign, though, that the rivalry between the United States and China will reach the same kind of equilibrium. For one thing, Japan is a democracy that has a military alliance with the United States, while China is an authoritarian nation that most likely seeks to displace American military dominance of the western Pacific. In China’s competition with the United States, a rancorous trade war has persisted for a year, and issues of national security are bleeding by the week into economic ones. Some senior American officials are pushing for “decoupling” the two economies.

Trump Heading to the G-20: History in the Making?

by Christian Whiton

Trump has a strong economy and solid political position to bolster his power. He could walk away from the summit with successful trade negotiations and improved relationships.

President Donald Trump heads to the G20 summit in Osaka in an enviable position, although amid much controversy over trade and Iran. The reality of his strength and America’s is a world apart from the first G20 summit eleven years ago in Washington, which occurred against the backdrop of the financial crisis and the widely held assumption that China and the rest of the G20 were supplanting the United States.

For this summit, bureaucrats from participating foreign ministries have developed what they believe is an ambitious agenda that includes climate change, “rules-based multilateral trading,” sustainable development, and other frippery to fill out a joint statement at the summit’s end that no one will ever read. The real utility of this G20—indeed of any G20—is the one-on-one and small-group meetings among leaders. With the G7’s descent into irrelevance as it drifts farther from its mid-1970s origins (capitalist nations with the money and will to accomplish real things), the convening function of the G20 is an unexpected if solitary utility of the confab.

Southern Brazil’s Economic Boom

NEP And Its Discontents – Part 2: Higher Education

by Anonymous Contributor

The tragedy about the NEP document is that it has been drafted by old fogeys who know little about today’s tech-savvy youth or what modern-day expansionist learning entails.

The document reeks of bureaucracy and not academic excellence or even innovative thinking.

Any comparison of India and Singapore on policy debates usually gets the scoffs from analysts, who point to the vastness and complexity of India vis-a-visSingapore. However, Singaporean visionaries have anticipated growth in trade, finance and now in technology and have organised their economy and society successfully. What has stopped our experts who draft policies from thinking creatively and anticipating trends? The complexity of India should not have been a hurdle to thinking!

Boston Dynamics makes robotic dogs that navigate difficult terrain and do complicated tasks with ease. Amazon is planning on drone deliveries. Khan Academy and a host of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) providers already offer fantastic courses for certification. These are not “imagined futures”, but a future that has almost already arrived. Our youngsters have embraced this future like fish to water. From accessing MOOCs and normal tutorials, to getting certifications, to accessing code from Github, Indian college students are doing it all.

Conference on the risks to the Asian peace: Avoiding paths to great power war

Richard C. Bush

The following is the text of framing remarks delivered at a joint Brookings-National Chengchi University conference in Taipei on June 17, 2019. A Chinese translation of this speech, published by the Financial Times, is also available here.

Thank you all for coming today for our conference on “The Risks to the Asian Peace: Avoiding Paths to Great Power War.” The Brookings Institution is honored to sponsor this conference in partnership with the College of International Affairs (CIA) at National Chengchi University. Let me say at the outset that I personally plus all of my Brookings colleagues are deeply grateful to Professor Huang Kwei-Bo of CIA for his tireless efforts to make all the arrangements here in Taipei and ensure the success of our conference. Brookings put a big burden on his shoulders and he bore it well and with good humor.

Regarding the title of the conference, the first part of the title—“the risks to the Asian peace”—implies that there has been s a peace and that it is significant. My colleagues and I sometimes use the term “the long East Asian peace.” The purpose of my remarks is to provide you with a brief analysis of that long peace and why it is now at risk.



U.S. hackers are routinely targeting Russia's defense and atomic energy industry to steal key data, Russian officials announced on Thursday.

Nikolai Murashov, deputy director of the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents, told reporters during a press conference that analysis of information from the Russian government's system for identifying, warning and eliminating the effects of cyberattacks against the country's IT resources, "indicates that most attacks are aimed at stealing information."

"First and foremost energy and missile building, as well as information from public administration systems," Murashov continued.

The official claimed that the U.S. was responsible for the majority of the attacks that used tactics like phishing attacks. He also stressed that thousands of attempts to compromise their systems had been thwarted.

"Thanks to such preventive measures this year alone malware attacks against more than 7,000 critical infrastructure facilities in Russia and [Collective Security Treaty Organization] member-states have been thwarted. This effective regional cooperation is highly needed," Murashov told reporters.

Five schemes for cheaper space launches—and five cautionary tales

by Konstantin Kakaes

In the closing decades of the last century and the first decades of this one, the average cost of launching a kilogram into Earth orbit simply would not change. The price stubbornly hovered above $10,000, and new idea after new idea failed to break the impasse.

This stymied innovation—after all, if it’s expensive to launch something, it becomes tricky to take other kinds of risks. But opinion was split: Had things stagnated because there was never enough money to see ideas through? Or was it because other improvements—in, say, materials science or autonomous navigation—were insufficiently mature?

All that has changed in the last few years as new craft broke the deadlock, most notably SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which is about a tenth as costly, per kilogram, as its closest competitor.

Now the central question is whether this is the start of a new plateau or whether, as Elon Musk hopes, it signals ever cheaper launches and ever more space innovation. The success or failure of these systems will help find an answer.

What Neil Armstrong got wrong

by Konstantin Kakaes

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, it’s hard not to conclude that he got things backwards. The moon landing was a giant leap for a man—Armstrong’s life was forever changed—but, in hindsight, only a small step for mankind.

It’s not that putting people on the moonwasn’t a difficult collective achievement—it was. But getting to the moon has done little in the long run to change human society.

As Roger Launius, an eminent space historian, writes in his new book Apollo’s Legacy, “At a basic level, the president’s Apollo decision was to the United States what the pharaohs’ determination to build the pyramids was to Egypt.” Its most resonant impact is not a particular technology, but simply the metaphor: If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we do X?

The “X’s” that usually come up in these discussions, such as figuring out how to solve climate change or poverty, “all have some potential for the application of technical solutions,” Launius notes. “But they are largely political and social problems.” And Apollo did not solve anypolitical or social problems. Other “X’s”—say, curing cancer—depend on developing whole new forms of scientific knowledge.

Does the world need a 3D-printed rocket?

by Erin Winick

Relativity Space, a well-funded startup, is going all-in on additive manufacturing. But is that too much of a good thing?

The once pristine white floors featured in Relativity Space’s PR photos are now scuffed and coated with the residue of a typical machine shop. Inside its warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles, three robot arms hang imposingly next to a container filled with a coil of metal wire. The container’s lid has a jagged hole as if someone punched through it on a bad day; duct tape has been slapped on to cover the sharp edges. This is a machine that’s been pushed to its limits, in service of a lofty goal. Led by its founders, Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, Relativity is attempting to create 95% of its rocket, Terran 1, using 3D printing, in just 60 days.

You read that right: the plan is to go from raw material to a launch-ready rocket in two months. If it sounds audacious, that’s because it is. Hugely. 3D printing is having a moment in the spaceflight industry—everyone from SpaceX to Blue Origin to lesser-known startups and old-guard rocket shops are tinkering with the technology, and some have gone so far as to print their own engines from scratch. But even engineers on the cutting edge of 3D-printed rocketry don’t know what to make of Ellis and Noone’s upstart firm. And more than one think they’re just crazy.

How to fight a war in space (and get away with it)

Last March, India became only the fourth country in the world—after Russia, the US, and China—to successfully destroy a satellite in orbit. Mission Shakti, as it was called, was a demonstration of a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon (ASAT)—or in plain English, a missile launched from the ground. Typically this type of ASAT has a “kill vehicle,” essentially a chunk of metal with its own guidance system, mounted on top of a ballistic missile. Shortly after the missile leaves the atmosphere, the kill vehicle detaches from it and makes small course corrections as it approaches the target. No explosives are needed; at orbital speeds, kinetic energy does the damage.

The idea of shooting down satellites has been around as long as satellites have. The first (failed) ASAT test, by the US, was back in 1958, less than a year after the launch of Sputnik. During the Cold War, the US and the Soviets both developed sophisticated anti-satellite weaponry. The US had missiles that could be launched from fighter jets (successfully tested in 1985) as well as nuclear-tipped missiles capable of obliterating enemy satellites. China’s own first successful ASAT test was in 2007.

Despite the posturing, no nation has yet destroyed another’s satellite—mainly because most of the countries that can do it are also nuclear powers. But as satellites become more intertwined with every aspect of civilian life and military operations, the chances are increasing that someone, somewhere will decide that attacking a satellite is worth the risk—and just possibly trigger the world’s first full-blown space war. 

Senate Report Shows Decade-Long Failure of Gov Agencies to Protect Personal Data

By Eduard Kovacs 

A new report from the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has revealed the decade-long failure of several important federal agencies to secure their systems and protect sensitive and personal information.

The report, signed by Rob Portman, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Tom Carper, ranking member of the subcommittee, is the result of a 10-month investigation covering 10 years of Inspector General reports.

The analysis targeted the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Social Security Administration. These agencies, except the DHS, have been assigned the lowest cybersecurity rating by the Office of Management and Budget.

According to the report, seven of the eight agencies failed to ensure adequate protection for personal information, and five of them failed to maintain accurate IT asset inventories.