19 August 2019

China’s Future Naval Base in Cambodia and the Implications for India

John Foulkes, Howard Wang

At the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, People’s Republic of China (PRC) Defense Minister Wei Fenghe dismissed a question on whether the PRC is seeking a future military presence in Cambodia (VOA Cambodia, June 3). This question arose following an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community that autocratic developments in Cambodia—particularly the single-party dominance of Cambodia’s legislature, which has extended Prime Minister Hu Sen’s tenure and made possible a constitutional amendment permitting a foreign military presence in the country—had increased the possibility of a Chinese military presence on Cambodian soil (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, January 29). Cambodian officials exacerbated these concerns in June when they withdrew a 2017 request to the United States for funds to upgrade facilities at the Ream naval base near Sihanoukville (Radio Free Asia, July 2; Observer Network, July 2).

Recent media reports have indicated that Cambodia signed a “secret agreement” giving the PRC use of Ream, where it may station military servicemen and warships, for 30 years (WSJ, July 22). Although Cambodian and Chinese officials vehemently deny the existence of this agreement, gaining access to Ream is broadly consistent with Chinese foreign policy. The PRC appears to be employing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) funding to further strategic cooperation with Cambodia through the construction of potential dual-use infrastructure. Ream naval base is the latest in a network of regional security projects—including Cambodia’s Dara Sakor investment zone and Thailand’s Kra Canal—which, taken together, significantly improve Chinese power projection into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

China Appears to Understand the Risks in Kashmir More Than India or Pakistan

Candace Rondeaux

It’s too early to say what India’s breach of the status quo in Kashmir will mean for long-term stability in South Asia. There are, of course, many fears of where revoking the semiautonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir could lead—from another retaliatory insurgency by militants in Kashmir backed by Pakistan, or worse still a destabilizing war between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Ultimately, though, it is China—not India or Pakistan—that will likely tip the balance in a region teetering yet again on the brink.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party view downgrading Kashmir’s status from a state in India to a union territory directly governed by New Delhi as a decisive blow to Pakistan’s claims over the disputed territory. But everyone stands to lose if regional tensions escalate further, starting with the 8 million residents of the Kashmir Valley now living under a total Indian security lockdown and communications blackout. China, more than any other player in this dangerous game of Risk, seems to understand that best.

J&K: A New Reality

Ajai Sahni

There is an evident element of constitutional skulduggery in the Government’s rescinding of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370, as well as the division of the State and its reduction to two Union Territories. The matter has already been taken to the Supreme Court, with several petitions already filed. Significantly, the Supreme Court has declined an ‘urgent hearing’ on the case.

The debate on constitutionality is likely to linger on till the Supreme Court pronounces on the subject. The debate on ‘sentiments’ of the people of Kashmir will persist indefinitely. Neither is likely to impact significantly on reality. There are new “facts on the ground” in J&K and the now separate Ladakh. A fait accompli has been established and in the environment of a majoritarian juggernaut, it seems unlikely that this will be reversed. Shocked adversaries will simply have to deal with these new realities as best they can.

The reaction has been divided between triumphalism in the Hindutva Right, and extends along the spectrum from dismay to dire imaginings among those opposed. On both sides, there is much wishful thinking. Votaries of the Government and of the Hindutva fold would have us believe that the situation in the State, and including the Valley, is ‘normal’ – though the criteria for ‘normalcy’ in a region under 24-hour lockdown, massive armed state presence and a comprehensive communications shut-down, remain evidently undefined – and that everyone is celebrating the Government’s sagacious decision. At the other end, the occasional protests that have been witnessed in the Valley are being projected as a massive and unprecedented upsurge, a prelude to a complete and irresistible breakdown. As one commentator summed up the dichotomy of views, “Palestine or Shangri La?”

Taliban, U.S. pact in Afghanistan could boost Islamic State

Abdul Qadir Sediqi, and Ahmad Sultan

KABUL/JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A deal between the Taliban and the United States for U.S. forces to withdraw from their longest-ever war in Afghanistan could drive some diehard Taliban fighters into the arms of the Islamic State militant group, Afghan officials and militants say.

Such a deal is expected to see the United States agree to withdraw its forces in exchange for a Taliban promise they will not let Afghanistan be used to plot international militant attacks.

As part of the pact, the Taliban are expected to make a commitment to power-sharing talks with the U.S.-backed government and work out a ceasefire.

The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region, first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, and has since made inroads into other areas, particularly the north.

The U.S. military estimates their strength at 2,000 fighters. Some Afghan officials estimated the number is higher, and could be about to get a boost.

Afghanistan's Warlords Prepare for Civil War

by Scott DesMarais 

Key Takeaway: Key Afghan warlords have begun preparing for a potential civil war as the U.S. nears an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw from Afghanistan. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has observed indicators that Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara leaders are taking steps to mobilize their ethnic communities in preparation for a looming power struggle as the U.S. and NATO leave Afghanistan. Afghan Pashtuns will also soon likely mobilize, if they have not already begun.

The U.S. is about to finalize a bilateral agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan.[1] The Taliban in return is reportedly promising to prevent transnational jihadists (including Al Qaeda and ISIS) from conducting global attacks from Afghanistan. It has also ostensibly committed to subsequent negotiations with other Afghan political leaders over the future of Afghanistan. The exact terms of these negotiations remain unclear, but the U.S. has declined to explicitly support a leadership role in the talks for the current Afghan Government – implying that talks would focus on establishing a new Government of Afghanistan.[2] The apparent decision to sideline the current Afghan Government is a major concession by the U.S. and NATO. The existence and terms of this bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, when finalized, will sideline and severely weaken the Afghan Government. It will remove the government’s core source of leverage over the Taliban – namely, the military forces and international aid money brought by the U.S. and NATO to Afghanistan.

Iran's Cooperation with the Taliban Could Affect Talks on U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

by Ariane M. Tabatabai
Source Link

In late 2018, as it became clear that the United States was contemplating a withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Iranian military announced that it was taking charge of the security of the border between Afghanistan and Iran. This indication of Tehran's increased concern resulted from the prospect of renewed instability and insecurity.

Just a few weeks later came an exchange of visits between Tehran and Taliban delegations. Iranian and Taliban representatives weren't meeting for the first time but, in a departure from the past, the Iranians publicized these meetings.

How did Iran's recently publicized relationship with the Taliban come about? And how might it affect the future of U.S.-Taliban talks?Share on Twitter

Alongside these developments, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledgedthat his country had some level of cooperation with the Taliban. He also summarized Iran's current thinking on the Taliban: “It would be impossible to have a future Afghanistan without any role for the Taliban.”

Taliban, U.S. Pact in Afghanistan Could Boost Islamic State

Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Ahmad Sultan 

A deal between the Taliban and the United States for U.S. forces to withdraw from their longest-ever war in Afghanistan could drive some diehard Taliban fighters into the arms of the Islamic State militant group, Afghan officials and militants say.

Such a deal is expected to see the United States agree to withdraw its forces in exchange for a Taliban promise they will not let Afghanistan be used to plot international militant attacks.

As part of the pact, the Taliban are expected to make a commitment to power-sharing talks with the U.S.-backed government and work out a ceasefire.

The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region, first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, and has since made inroads into other areas, particularly the north…

The Uncomfortable Truth about Afghanistan's Future

by Paul R. Pillar

Anyone looking in Afghanistan for an easily understood story of good versus evil, or moderation versus extremism, will be disappointed. That war-torn country is a congeries of conflicts with diverse ethnic, sectarian, and ideological overtones. Battles are fought between antagonists who hate each other but each exemplify values far different from anything that Americans would identify with or want to defend. And that’s just the internal Afghan conflicts, on top of which is the added complexity of external involvement by Pakistan, India, and others.

Such a place is unfavorable territory for prosecuting what has become America’s longest war, which has no military solution in sight. President Donald Trump is right to seek a negotiated agreement that would permit a U.S. military withdrawal, even though his diplomatic clumsiness, on display during a meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, needlessly offended Afghans with talk about how he could wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth if he chose to, and needlessly angered Indians with his false claim that New Delhi wanted him to mediate the Kashmir dispute.


Joy Mitra

Inflection Point

From a diplomatic faux pass on mediation in Kashmir to casually stating that he could win the war by killing ten million people and wiping Afghanistan off the map, President Trump’s media conferences can fell any man with a weak heart. However both allies and foes could equally agree that Trump’s arrival allows them to drive the bilateral process at a completely different track, unfettered by bureaucratic and organization dynamics. For Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s latest meeting with Trump, the deliverables were clear: Pakistan needed to get back in the US’ good books, in order to stave off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review due in October 2019.

Trump also seeks to use a carrot and stick approach with Pakistan to secure maximum possible cooperation in Afghanistan. Though Pakistan claims no control over the Taliban, it ironically offers to intercede with them, and visibly provides safe havens to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, among others. Its capacity to influence the security dynamic in Afghanistan has now manifested in its joining the US-Russia-China trilateral on Afghanistan.

The ASEAN Way Out? Toward Cooperative Environmental Governance in Southeast Asia

Source Link

Cooperation between Asian nations is hardly a recent phenomenon, but what has emerged in the last few decades has stimulated renewed analysis regarding both the theoretical foundations and practical functions of increasingly complex and overlapping institutions. As Southeast Asia incrementally integrates into a significant economic and political bloc, the scope, scale, and content of the interaction amongst Asian states, and with the wider world, must be continually reevaluated. As the recently concluded 34th ASEAN Summit indicated, a new regional order is evolving; one which still grapples with strategic security concerns, economic inclusion, and environmental management.

Unlike the intergovernmental organizations of the West which arguably have strong ideological foundations, political groupings in Asia might be more accurately described as opaque by degrees (Dosch, 2008). Gill and Green put it succinctly, ‘The reality is that Asia’s new multilateralism is still at a stage where it is best understood as an extension and intersection of national power and purpose rather than as an objective force in itself’ (2009: 3).

Tilting at More than Windmills in South Asia


NEW YORK – “Tilt” is a word with a history in South Asia. Nearly a half-century ago, Pakistan’s government brutally repressed its citizens in the eastern part of the country. Millions of refugees streamed into India, which mobilized its armed forces. Pakistan attacked, and India responded. Full-scale war ensued. When the dust settled, Pakistan had been dismembered, with its eastern part becoming the independent country of Bangladesh.

The US government watched these events unfold with concern. India’s claim to be non-aligned was not taken seriously, and President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger judged victory for India to be a gain for the Soviet Union. In addition, the South Asia conflict occurred just as the United States (with Pakistan’s assistance) was seeking to establish a relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Nixon and Kissinger feared that China’s interest would diminish if the US appeared unwilling to stand up to India, a country backed by the Soviets and one with whom China had fought a war a decade before.

Conflicting Claims in the South China Sea

In the fight to control the South China Sea, naval capabilities are critical. China is the largest naval power in the region, but other countries’ claims are backed by an important ally: the United States. Here, we see just how much the competing claims of countries in the region overlap.

US Says Taiwan Defense Spending to Rise With China Threat

Washington expects Taipei to continue increasing its defense spending as Chinese security threats grow.

America’s top representative in Taiwan said Thursday that Washington expects the island to continue increasing its defense spending as Chinese security threats to the U.S. ally continue to grow.

W. Brent Christensen said the United States had “not only observed Taiwan’s enthusiasm to pursue necessary platforms to ensure its self-defense, but also its evolving tenacity to develop its own indigenous defense industry.”

That was a nod to President Tsai Ing-wen’s drive to develop domestic training jets, submarines and other weapons technology, supplementing arms bought from the United States.

“These investments by Taiwan are commendable, as is Taiwan’s ongoing commitment to increase the defense budget annually to ensure that Taiwan’s spending is sufficient to provide for its own self-defense needs,” Christensen said in a speech. “And we anticipate that these figures will continue to grow commensurate with the threats Taiwan faces.”

Review – The EU-Japan Partnership in Shadow of China


Traditionally, the topic of EU-Japan relations and, as a result, the associated scholarship have been something of an afterthought. Attention has understandably and predominantly been placed on relations with the US hegemon, and to a lesser extent other important and emerging relationships, such as China, India and Australia. Once upon a time, the work of Endymion Wilkinson and Julie Gilson stood out as the ‘go-to’ works on how Europe and Japan engaged with each other historically and after the end of the Cold War.

However, both events and scholarship have recently moved on. On the one hand, earlier this year we saw the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement come into force. On the other hand, a number of valuable contributions have steadily augmented our understanding of this evolving relationship, including collections edited by Kirchner and Dorussen (2018), Vanoverbeke et al. (2017) and Bacon, Mayer and Nakamura (2015), as well as research monographs like Frattolillo (2016). This collection of essays, edited by a group of well-regarded scholars of Japan’s role in the world, is a welcome addition.

In turn, the chapters presented here cover a range of developments in EU-Japan relations ‘across the dimensions of trade, finance, development assistance, and traditional and non-traditional security’ (p. 1). What binds these various essays together is a focus on the uncertain international environment captured by the rise of China, as highlighted in the sub-title of this book, but equally epitomized by the rise of populism and illiberalism as seen in the election of US President and former reality TV star Donald J. Trump and the slow-motion car crash that is Brexit.

Hong Kong protests: UK should not interfere, says Chinese ambassador

China's ambassador to the UK has warned British politicians against interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, amid clashes between protesters and police.

Liu Xiaoming said the UK should "refrain from saying or doing anything that interferes or undermines the rule of law in Hong Kong".

Some British politicians think "their hands are still in the colonial days", he told a press conference in London.

The UK has called for "calm from all sides".

Millions of Hong Kong citizens have taken part in 10 weeks of anti-government protests, demanding democratic reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Trump delays tariffs on some Chinese goods until December

By Paul Wiseman and Christopher Rugaber 

WASHINGTON — Responding to pressure from businesses and growing fears that a trade war is threatening the U.S. economy, the Trump administration is delaying most of the import taxes it planned to impose on Chinese goods and is dropping others altogether. 

The announcement Tuesday from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was greeted with relief on Wall Street and by retailers who have grown fearful that the new tariffs would wreck holiday sales. 

The administration says it still plans to proceed with 10% tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese imports — extending its import taxes to just about everything China ships to the United States in a dispute over Beijing’s strong-arm trade policies. 

But under pressure from retailers and other businesses, President Donald Trump’s trade office said it would delay until Dec. 15 the tariffs on nearly 60% of the imports that had been set to absorb the new taxes starting Sept. 1. Among the products that will benefit from the 3½-month reprieve are such popular consumer goods as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing. 

Huawei just announced HarmonyOS, its answer to Android

Ivan Mehta

Huawei just announced a new operating system called Harmony OS at its developer conference in China. The company said the HarmonyOS is a microkernel-based distributed OS for all platforms including mobile phones, wearables, laptops, and televisions.

The Chinese tech giant said the OS will be open-sourced with its own ARK compiler. It will also support existing Android apps. Huawei will first launch the OS on smart TVs, and it’ll arrive on wearables and laptops by 2020. The company mentioned it will only use it if Android is not allowed on its smartphones.

HarmonyOS has just been announced at #HDC2019! How are we going to build an all-scenario smart ecosystem and experience? How will we overcome the challenges of future OS for connected things? Stayed tuned with us to find out.

China and a Global Economic Contraction

George Friedman

There has been much talk recently about economic problems in key economies around the world. Early Wednesday morning, for example, I spoke on Bloomberg Surveillance about the situation in China. Before I went on air, Bloomberg News was covering multiple stories on the decline in bond yields and its effect on the U.S. economy, weakness in the German economy, and so on. I then realized how closely this issue is linked to the protests in Hong Kong.It has been about 10 years since the last U.S. recession, and we would expect to see another one soon. Since the United States is the world’s leading importer, an American recession always leads to a weakening of the global economy.

China, U.S.: What to Make of Washington's Watered-Down Tariffs

In its 2019 Third Quarter Forecast, Stratfor noted that the United States would likely follow through on its threat to impose additional tariffs on remaining Chinese imports. The White House has now exempted some of these tariffs, likely in an attempt to appease global markets and mitigate the impact on the U.S. economy. Despite this latest reprieve, U.S.-China trade talks will likely remain rocky, and each new tiff brings new problems for the two sides to hash out.

What Happened

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (UTSR) on Aug. 13 unveiled its plans for implementing the additional tariffs on Chinese goods that U.S. President Donald Trump announced Aug. 1. Washington has initially planned to place an additional 10 percent tariff on a list of Chinese goods worth roughly $300 billion in annual imports starting in September. But following a phone call between Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators, the White House is now planning to split the list of goods facing new tariffs into two tranches. 

Party Man Xi Jinping’s Quest to Dominate China

By Richard McGregor

When Joe Biden met Xi Jinping in 2011, China’s leader in waiting hit the U.S. vice president with a volley of questions about U.S. politics. How did the system work? What was the relationship between the White House and Congress? How should Beijing interpret the political signals coming out of Washington? For Biden and his advisers, these were welcome questions after nearly a decade of frustration in dealing with Xi’s predecessor, the colorless, impenetrable Hu Jintao.

But over meetings and meals in Beijing and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, the American visitors were struck by Xi’s animation on another topic. Chinese leaders are generally cautious about straying too deeply into their own biographies. Recounting their personal stories in front of Chinese officials, let alone foreigners, involves traversing recent Chinese political history, a minefield of purges, betrayals, and ideological about-faces. 

The question of ‘patriotism’ in U.S.-China tech collaboration

Kara Frederick, and Elsa B. Kania

In July, billionaire investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel called for an FBI and CIA investigation of Google, saying the company was “treasonous” for allegedly working with the Chinese military instead of the U.S. military.

Thiel’s accusations were rejected by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who said he and President Trump had met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the White House and found no evidence of Google working with the Chinese government or military.

New eBook out by Robert J. Bunker and Pamela Ligouri Bunker, The Islamic State English-Language Online Magazine Rumiyah (Rome): Research Guide, Narrative & Threat Analysis and U.S. Policy Response

The work is divided into an introduction to this subject matter, the placing of Rumiyah in context with an overview of the magazine and the new Islamic State eBooks promoted within it, a comparative analysis of the themes and narratives found within each issue focusing on the topical areas of end state, enemy, recruitment, and TTPs (generalized), and a selected study of IS attacks directed against the West and their interrelationship to Rumiyah. It also provides a discussion of the ‘Just Terror’ tactics promoted in the magazine, and provides U.S. governmental recommendations to counter and mitigate the production and distribution of the magazine as well as its effects upon its readership and the violent outcomes expressed in terrorist actions. A comprehensive glossary of Arabic terms and jargon utilized in the magazine—which provides for a better understanding of Islamic State worldviews and also for deeper understanding of the individual magazine issues when independently read—is also included at the end of this text.

Terrorism and Technology: The Front End

Mark D. Robinson and Cori E. Dauber
Despite the fact that there is a robust conversation regarding “terrorism and technology,” that discussion is – as near as we can tell – uniformly about the back end, that is to say exclusively addressing the dissemination of what terrorists have already produced. We have found virtually nothing in the popular press[i] and nothing at all in the academic literature about the technology involved in the production of the materials that are being distributed.[ii]But the technologies available to support content production have changed dramatically in the last few years, and those changes have had major consequences, not only for terrorist groups’ ability to distribute materials, but also for the propaganda quality, and indeed for the very nature of these materials. Yet the literature presumes that the propaganda terrorists post to social media is of some consequence, otherwise there would be no reason to discuss the material.

Likewise, this assumption drives the search for appropriate government or inter-governmental responses to the problem.

The Next Battleground in Trump’s Trade War: Vietnam

 Alexander Hitch

Vietnam is likely the Trump administration’s next trade target. But the calculus differs in key ways from China.

While escalating trade tensions between the United States and China have commanded attention, an emerging player in global trade has quietly reaped the benefits, becoming an alternative for companies looking to diversify their supply chains and hedge against rising political uncertainty.

Vietnam, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, has opened its markets in recent years, joining the CPTPP trade pact, landing companies and supplier networks decamping from China, and recently inking a free trade agreement with the European Union.

One result of this success: Vietnam’s trade surplus in goods with the United States has soared from $31.98 billion in 2016 to $39.49 billion in 2018, and is up 39 percent through June of this year. The Trump administration has taken notice, launching fusillades about how Vietnam is “even worse than China” and must work to reduce the “unsustainable trade deficit.” 

Slow and Steady Won't Win Russia's Economic Race

As a result of persistent Western sanctions and low global energy prices, Russia will continue its efforts to insulate its economy. The Kremlin has implemented an economic strategy that will enable it to prevent a major crisis in the short term — even if the United States continues to ratchet up sanctions pressure — but economic growth will likely continue to stagnate for the foreseeable future. In the longer term, such efforts will undermine Russia's economic growth, just as other downward pressures like demographic decline and migrant outflows will weigh more heavily on the Russian economy amid rising political uncertainty.

From the worldwide slowdown and the U.S.-China trade war to growing uncertainty over Brexit and a seven-month low for oil prices, the global economy is contending with its fair share of challenges. It's all of great concern to Russia, which is no stranger to economic worries, particularly since 2014 when the country faced twin economic shocks — a crash in global energy prices, as well as the West's implementation of sanctions following Moscow's intervention in Ukraine.

Trump’s Assault on the Global Trading System

By Chad P. Bown And Douglas A. Irwin 

Donald Trump has been true to his word. After excoriating free trade while campaigning for the U.S. presidency, he has made economic nationalism a centerpiece of his agenda in office. His administration has pulled out of some trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and renegotiated others, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Many of Trump’s actions, such as the tariffs he has imposed on steel and aluminum, amount to overt protectionism and have hurt the U.S. economy. Others have had less obvious, but no less damaging, effects. By flouting international trade rules, the administration has diminished the country’s standing in the world and led other governments to consider using the same tools to limit trade arbitrarily. It has taken deliberate steps to weaken the World Trade Organization (WTO)—some of which will permanently damage the multilateral trading system. And in its boldest move, it is trying to use trade policy to decouple the U.S. and Chinese economies.

Trump’s One-Way Economy


But recently, the litany of unfortunate circumstances has gotten so long that the joke is hard to pull off. One now must also list the political crisis in Hong Kong, a burgeoning diplomatic and economic dispute between Japan and South Korea, the Indian government’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy – and India-Pakistan tensions more generally – and growing turmoil within South Africa’s ruling African National Congress.

Making matters worse, this has been a particularly rough summer in terms of the weather: heat waves across Europe and the US have served as a forceful reminder of the growing effects of climate change on our everyday lives. Add to all this other persistent sources of global uncertainty – from the Middle East and Russia under President Vladimir Putin to social-media disruptions and antimicrobial resistance – and you have a recipe for despair.

When Leninists Overreach

MOSCOW – Ongoing street protests in Hong Kong and Moscow have no doubt spooked the authoritarian duo of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Moscow protests, the largest in many years, must be keeping Putin up at night, or they wouldn’t be dispersed with such unabated brutality. Yet rather than hold a dialogue with the people, Putin has been demonstrating that he is in control, even preening for photos in a tight leather outfit with his favorite motorcycle gang.

Nonetheless, the demonstrations have become a poignant sign of Putin’s declining popularity, including among Russian elites, whose views matter in ways that other forms of public opinion do not. For two decades, the Russian elite’s rival factions have generally seen Putin as the ultimate guarantor of their interests – particularly their financial interests. But as Russia’s economy has sunk into sanctions-induced stagnation, Putin’s leadership has started to look like more of a roadblock than a guardrail. Fewer and fewer Russians still accept that “Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin,” a mantra that one heard regularly just five years ago, following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.1

Facebook is the latest tech giant to admit contractors are snooping on your conversations

By Charlie Osborne 

Facebook has revealed that contractors have been paid to listen to clips of audio harvested from Messenger but plans to "pause" the program to stem public backlash.

The social networking giant made use of hundreds of staff through outsourcing to listen to and transcribe the clips. According to Bloomberg, people with knowledge of the matter said that contracted employees were not told why Facebook would need to run such a project or why the transcriptions were important. 

Facebook said the contractors were tasked with checking to see if the firm's artificial intelligence-based algorithms and systems were correctly interpreting audio content.

The company added that only users who chose to permit voice chats to be transcribed in Facebook's Messenger app were impacted. Furthermore, according to Facebook, the clips were anonymized. 

Tracking Cyber Warfare Patterns

Jayshree Pandya 

Humans are pattern seekers and pattern trackers, and from patterns, we derive meaning. If we can’t track cyber warfare patterns, how well will we identify the survival and security risks coming our way?


Along with geospace, aquaspace, and space, cyberspace is now a contested common, and its use as a digital battleground to wage digital warfare is rapidly strengthening. This rapidly shifting landscape of warfare — where emerging cyberweapons have become more deadly than real battlefield weapons — is becoming a cause of great fear.

Keeping up with the rapidly intensifying complexity of uncontrolled warfare in cyberspace is a challenge facing not only for nation’s military but also individuals and entities across nations: its government, industries, organizations, and academia (NGIOA).