14 September 2019

Why Kashmir Is the Flashpoint for Indo-Pakistani Confrontations

Recent days have seen the most dangerous confrontation between Pakistan and India for two decades. A suicide-bombing in Kashmir (by an Indian Kashmiri), followed by tit-for-tat sorties by Indian and Pakistani warplanes, have left the two nuclear-armed powers on the brink of a catastrophic stand-off. Why is Kashmir so often the flashpoint?

When the colonial power, Britain, withdrew from India in 1947 it left a legacy of carelessly or arbitrarily drawn borders. Tensions between India and China flare on occasion along India’s far north-eastern border, in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Pakistan, too, is beset by difficult borders. Afghanistan, to the north, has long been a hostile neighbour. But the borders in Kashmir, where Pakistan, India and China all have competing claims, are the most contentious.

Come independence, it was clear that many Indian Muslims were determined to break off from the Hindu majority. It fell to a British civil servant, who knew nothing of the region, to draw a line of partition between territory that would become Pakistan and India. Pakistan was given Muslim-dominated areas in the north-west, plus territory in the east (which itself won independence as Bangladesh in 1971). The rulers of some disputed areas, notably Kashmir, were told to choose which country to join.

Engaging with India’s Electrification Agenda: Powering Assam

Assam has raised the rate of electricity access from 45 percent in 2015 to 100 percent in 2019 through a combination of state and central government efforts.

Assam is meeting its target for reducing technical and commercial losses from its utility.

The state is developing a variety of power generation sources and fuels, including coal, natural gas, solar power, and alternative transport and cooking fuels.

Assam has a strong need for increased workforce capacity, particularly to conduct maintenance and operations of its system.

If the Assam Energy Development Agency can access additional funding, its staff would like to conduct micro-hydropower technology research and develop a centralized system for collecting and monitoring data from distributed solar power generation.


The Taliban Hardly Deserve Camp David Talks With a President. What Was Trump Thinking?


Greeting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000, where he had just arrived on the presidential helicopter for a summit with President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, I asked him how he was doing. Smiling broadly, his kafiyyah flapping in the summer breeze, he replied: "I’m at Camp David."

And that’s how amazed and bewildered the Taliban would have been, too, if their meeting with President Donald Trump had come off as planned: legitimized and validated by a president obsessed with being on center stage, who appears to have seriously considered offering up a historic summit without thinking through the consequences. 

Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy.

It’s not that talking to your enemies is a bad thing, and under certain circumstances, it is necessary. Indeed, it was encouraging if stunning that Trump revealed a three-way meeting that would have included representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government, which don’t recognize one another, That is vitally important for negotiating the best deal Trump is likely to get.

Afghans Want Peace, but Not Like This

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KABUL—Sakhi Murad Sadar, his wife, and their two children were asleep in the family’s living room on Sept. 2 when a car bomb was detonated on the street nearby, ripping the house apart, smashing its windows, and almost killing the family.

The explosion, targeting an international residential and office compound across the street, killed at least 16 people and injured more than 100.

Yet despite a rise in violence in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul—and across the country—Sadar, 28, said that while he wants the violence to stop, he’s glad a long-negotiated peace deal between the Taliban and the United States fell through.

His view is shared by many who see the deal as unfit for a country that has seen decades of war and is on the verge of another presidential election, scheduled for Sept. 28, with President Ashraf Ghani seeking a second five-year term.

Compassionate Warfare, a Hard Promise to Keep: COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan


Both the US and the UK expected the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan to be quick, using a classic, enemy-centric, military approach involving air strikes and special forces operations (Benes, 2017: 70). However, although the US military quickly overthrew the Taliban government in Kabul, insurgent activity grew and continued to do so in the following years (Benes, 2017: 71). In Iraq, ineffective policies of the post-war administration contributed to the collapse of state authority and insurgency increased (Benes, 2017: 71). Support for the invasions reduced as a result of the still present terrorist threat along with increasing numbers of casualties (Benes, 2017: 72). Therefore, architects of what would become the US COIN doctrine, proposed a new approach to battle the insurgents. The doctrine vowed to swap the old kinetic tactics for economic aid, military training and social projects (Shorrock, 2016: para 2). The idea was to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the population, as without its support the campaign aims could not be accomplished (Egnell, 2010: 282).

Throughout this essay I will examine some of the policies carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the ‘hearts and minds’ campaign and evaluate their efficacy. I argue that the counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan did not achieve their objectives and that they have in some cases worsened the lives of Iraqis and Afghans. To demonstrate this, I will start by looking at the development of the revised COIN doctrine. I will then explore the efforts to reconstruct Iraq, the creation of a local defense force in Afghanistan and the establishment of the Human Terrain System and its function to compensate for the lack of ‘cultural knowledge’ in the military. Lastly, I will introduce some critiques of the COIN campaign, where I will present some of the ethical complications that has accompanied the ‘hearts and minds’ agenda and the promise of peaceful warfare.

There’s Still a Path Forward With the Taliban

James Stavridis

President Trump is taking a lot of criticism for abruptly cancelling talks he had hoped to sponsor between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan at Camp David. But he was right to do so – his announcement sent a signal that the Taliban must demonstrate in far more concrete ways a commitment to a peaceful negotiation to end nearly two decades of war.

I say this from experience. When I headed the NATO mission in Afghanistan as supreme allied commander for all global operations from 2009-2013, I studied the Taliban closely. The movement’s name itself simply means “students” in Pashtun, and it is a movement that learned about taking and using power - enough to dominate Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Russian-backed central government before 9/11. Taliban leaders facilitated and protected al-Qaeda, and provided support in the attacks against the U.S. I found them to be tenacious, determined, resilient and utterly implacable foes who took the long view. “The Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time,” was a favorite saying.

The Taliban Kills a Glimmer of Hope in Helmand


With prospects for a negotiated settlement between the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban in disarray after U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt weekend cancellation of an alleged Camp David summit to advance peace talks, Afghans are bracing for a renewed round of terrorist violence and mourning what seem like vanishing hopes for peace.

Few in Afghanistan are as well equipped to understand the whiplash cycle of violence, repression, reconciliation, liberation, and renewed violence than the 500 people that live in Sayedabad, a village in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Since the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan in 2001, Sayedabad has bounced between government and Taliban control six times.

I first visited Sayedabad in 2016, and came to pin what optimism I had for Afghanistan’s future on the village’s experience reconciling with a Taliban that seemed to have moderated since its most brutal incarnations in the 1990s and 2000s. If Sayedabad was anything to go by, I thought, Afghanistan’s future might not be as bleak as many predict.

Afghans fear Trump’s Taliban move means more civilians die

In this Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, photo, Afghans inspect their damaged house after a large explosion last week near a compound housing several foreign organizations and guesthouses, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban car bomb targeted the compound but instead shredded Afghan homes, with stunned and bloodied families picking up children and fleeing in darkness as their once-solid world collapsed. As America on Wednesday mourns thousands of civilians killed in the 9/11 attacks, weary Afghans watch their own toll from the aftermath continue to rise. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The sound of the blast ripped through Kabul, in an instant wrenching the Afghan capital’s attention from a nationally televised interview in which a United States envoy revealed the first details of a deal to end America’s longest war.

Last week’s Taliban car bomb targeted a foreign compound but instead shredded Afghan homes, with stunned and bloodied families picking up children and fleeing in darkness as their once-solid world collapsed. One family saw 30 relatives wounded — many of them women — including a son still healing from an attack the year before.

Sri Lanka’s Radical Approach to Deradicalization Worked Before. It Can Again

Jocelyn Bélanger
In the four months since coordinated suicide bombers killed more than 250 people across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the country’s embattled government has been forced to grapple with a common question in the post-9/11 era. How do you stop enemies willing to kill themselves for a political or religious cause?

For Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, one answer has been to accept blame for errors in policing and intelligence gathering while calling on other countries to help curb the scourge of violent extremism. But even as Sri Lanka’s leaders look abroad for support, they must not forget that one of the world’s best blueprints for deradicalization was actually written at home. ...

Hong Kong Reaches a Point of No Return

By Zhixing Zhang

While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam's overdue decision to withdraw a contentious extradition bill will calm some of the crisis in Hong Kong, it will not appease all protesters, especially more radical ones. Even if the standoff abates, negating the need for a harsher crackdown, Hong Kongers' political and socio-economic grievances toward Beijing are so deep that another flare-up is likely to occur eventually. As Hong Kong's political and ideological polarization deepens, it could threaten the city's business environment in the long term as the region's competition for capital flows intensifies further, making it harder to recover from the current crisis.

It's the announcement Hong Kong's protesters were waiting for — three months ago. In an effort to quell the city's protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam formally declared on Sept. 4 that she was fully withdrawing the controversial extradition bill that initially sparked the city's protests in early June, marking a sharp turn after she steadfastly refused to do anything but suspend the motion. Lam made the decision as part of a four-part action plan, which also includes an independent study on the "root cause" of the protests, as well as greater engagement with citizens.

Saudi Arabia Is Losing Yemen to Iran

by Jonathan Spyer

The Saudi-led effort to crush the rebellion by the Iran-aligned Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement in Yemen is into its fifth year. The operation has largely run aground. There is now a UN-sponsored truce over control of the contested port of Hodeidah, in the west of the country.

Over 10,000 people have died since the Saudi and Emirati intervention began in March 2015. Saudi and Emirati-led forces succeeded in preventing the strategic disaster of a Houthi capture of Bab al-Mandeb, a choke point between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. But the Houthis remain in control of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a considerable part of the coast, and the main urban centers of the country.

The anti-Houthi forces, meanwhile, have now turned on one another, with the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council challenging Saudi-supported forces aligned with the official government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The STC fighters now control the port of Aden, with the prospect for further clashes between the sides.

Don't Ignore Serious Nonmilitary Threats To US National Security

by Richard Forno
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Since 9/11, American domestic and international security policy has been focused on individual terrorists, terrorist groups and rogue countries as the primary threats. The country's defensive response has been focused on the military and law enforcement capabilities. That's natural, because the military knows how to shoot, drop and launch things at threats like that. And those dangers still exist.

However, as someone who routinely analyzes threats, vulnerabilities and risks, I see the U.S. again falling prey to a decades-old problem, which the 9/11 Commission termed a "failure of imagination." That's when leaders miss important, relevant connections or alternatives to what they're focused on.

Specifically, there are other, equally, if not more, dangerous risks to American national sovereignty and security, not to mention citizens' peace of mind that they are able to live and work in a safe and secure society. The economy, climate, transportation and public utilities are all vulnerable to nonmilitary threats. Unfortunately, those weaknesses tend to receive little attention from elected officials - much less any meaningful efforts to solve them. I believe this is because dealing with such concerns isn't immediately evident, easily profitable, politically expedient or exciting to show on TV.

How Brexit Is Undoing Britain’s Political System

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Brexit could wreck Britain’s centuries-old character of alternating rule by large, ideologically capacious parties. If so, the irony is that British politics will end up resembling politics in much of the rest of Europe.

In the parable of the boy who cried wolf, we should remember that the wolf did exist. The danger was real. The boy wasn’t wrong, merely premature.

It could be the same with the realignment of British politics: frequently predicted, it has yet to happen.

Kellner is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, where his research focuses on Brexit, populism, and electoral democracy.

Now, at last, it could be taking place before our eyes. If so, it will cause great turbulence and affect not just Britain’s relations with Europe but the long-term future of the party system at Westminster.

Fresh Approaches Enable Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Swap

For the Kremlin, key conditions for the prisoner exchange were President Zelensky’s reference to joint work by two states and two presidents, recognition that there were advantages to the swap for both sides, and the exclusion of the exchange from the victory/defeat paradigm.

After weeks of rumors that a prisoner swap between Moscow and Kiev was in the cards, the two sides finally exchanged thirty-five prisoners each on September 7. They included high-profile prisoners such as the film director Oleg Sentsov and Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a journalist for Russian state media, as well as the twenty-four Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia in the Kerch Strait last year. The capture of the sailors had prompted the United States, EU, and Canada to introduce new sanctions against Russia and cancel meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Argentina, while a high-profile campaign had been waged for the release of Sentsov ever since he was sentenced to twenty years in jail in Russia on terrorism charges back in 2015.

Just as the 2016 pardoning and exchange of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot jailed in Russia for allegedly causing the deaths of two Russian journalists in Ukraine, meant the end of the active phase of war in Ukraine, this latest landmark prisoner exchange is designed to show that both sides are ready to put an end to the current limbo that is neither war nor peace, and move toward something that could truly be described as peace.

We Are Teetering on the Edge of a Hinge Point With North Korea

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It is a hair-raising fact that since 2001, North Korea has gone from zero nuclear weapons to an arsenal that is likely between 30 and 60. The common wisdom is that the efforts by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to halt the North’s nuclear program through diplomacy or sanctions were circumvented by the North’s repeated violations of diplomatic agreements. There is another way of looking at the problem, however, and that is what we have described in a study as “hinge points” — moments when bad decisions had bad consequences for U.S. national security. We are teetering on the edge of another such hinge point, perhaps the most serious yet. For that reason, it’s well worth looking more closely at what is at risk, how not to repeat previous flawed decisions and what a path through this perilous moment might look like.

By any measure, the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February failed. For a month or so afterward, it looked as if that failure could lead to decisions on both sides that would reignite the tensions of 2017 when the North tested what was likely a hydrogen bomb and several intercontinental-range missiles and President Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.” The clear danger following Hanoi was that by resuming testing, the North could perfect its ability to mate a nuclear warhead (in the worst case, an H-bomb) to an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the continental U.S.

A Post-Soviet “War and Peace”

By Michael Kimmage 

On February 23, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the final day of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the most expensive winter games to date and the first hosted by an Eastern-bloc country since the Soviet Union’s collapse. Amid the fanfare and the flag-waving, the Russian leader’s attention was likely elsewhere—across the Black Sea, on the Crimean peninsula. Just hours before the start of the closing ceremony, Putin had decided to invade the Ukrainian territory. One can almost picture him in the early hours after dawn, eyes fixed on a map of Crimea—a world-historical actor deciding precisely how to shape the course of events.

The tableau invites comparison with a scene from War and Peace. In his celebrated epic about Russia during the Napoleonic Wars, Leo Tolstoy portrays Bonaparte on a hill, looking down at Moscow. The empereur des Français envisions rebuilding the Russian capital as a western European city—replacing its onion domes with Enlightenment temples and refashioning its Slavic culture after his own. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, Napoleon (like Putin after him) wanted to construct his own international order. To that end, he crossed into Russian territory uninvited, beginning a bloody and unnecessary war that ended with Russian troops in Paris.

Rafael Nadal Shows Why the Young Guard Will Have to Wait

By Christopher Clarey
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When Nadal won his first United States Open in 2010, there was no retractable roof high over his head, no digital serve clock counting down in a corner of Arthur Ashe Stadium and causing him grief.

Even the rival looming across the net on Sunday was a break with tradition. This was not one of Nadal’s usual measuring sticks: not Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka.

It was Medvedev: an unorthodox and unpredictable shotmaker from Russia with a taste for risk but also an astonishing ability to extend points. Nadal, one of tennis’s great defenders, can certainly relate.

Few elite tennis players have looked as slow at first glance as the gangly, 6-foot-6 Medvedev and yet been so blazingly quick to the corners or to a well-placed drop shot.

Strategic Partnership or Strategic Dependence?

By Commander Jon Ahlstrom, U.S. Navy

In the middle of the 19th century, a developing nation was coerced by what was then an economic powerhouse into relinquishing sovereignty over strategic coastal territory. The period following the First Opium War (1839–1842) ushered in an era of unequal treaties, in which Great Britain coerced China into granting commercial privileges and legal and territorial concessions—for example, Hong Kong and later Kowloon, with ramifications that lasted a century. 

In the early decades of the 21st century, a similar pattern is emerging: A rising economic powerhouse coerces developing nations into borrowing money from it to build infrastructure out of proportion to the economic or trade needs of that nation. The result has been similarly catastrophic for recipient countries, but this time it is China that is reaping the rewards. In the case of Sri Lanka, which was unable to repay China’s loan for an unnecessarily large port, the consequence was the relinquishing to China of the strategic port of Hambantota in a 99-year lease.1 And so begins a new era of unequal, opaque treaties—often to the detriment of developing nations.

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Ending War, American-Style

Andrew Bacevich 

Years ago, a man drove me around Vietnam, day after day, taking me to villages where I interviewed people about their experiences during what they called the American War. They told me about how they had lost eyes or legs or siblings or parents. They told me about being shot or raped, about surviving artillery shelling, helicopter gunships, or even a massacre.

Most knew very little English beyond what they recalled Americans yelling at them: “VC! VC!” (an abbreviation of “Viet Cong,” meaning Vietnamese Communists). The driver, however, spoke passable English and, from his age, I guessed the reason why. The tour company he worked for employed men who, in the 1960s and early 1970s, had thrown in their lot with the Americans, not the VC. For supporting the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam, which collapsed in 1975, many of them paid a steep price -- either in reeducation camps or opprobrium in their home villages.

That shouldn’t be a shock. Those who end up on the wrong side of such conflicts generally don’t fare well and Americans are notorious for abandoning their allies.

The Taliban hardly deserve Camp David talks with a president. What was Trump thinking?

Aaron David Miller
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Greeting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000, where he had just arrived on the presidential helicopter for a summit with President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, I asked him how he was doing. Smiling broadly, his kafiyyah flapping in the summer breeze, he replied: "I’m at Camp David."

And that’s how amazed and bewildered the Taliban would have been, too, if their meeting with President Donald Trump had come off as planned: legitimized and validated by a president obsessed with being on center stage, who appears to have seriously considered offering up a historic summit without thinking through the consequences. 

It’s not that talking to your enemies is a bad thing, and under certain circumstances, it is necessary. Indeed, it was encouraging if stunning that Trump revealed a three-way meeting that would have included representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government, which don’t recognize one another, That is vitally important for negotiating the best deal Trump is likely to get.

The New US Strategy to Remove Maduro in Venezuela

By Allison Fedirka
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After months of little progress, it seems the United States may be getting closer to removing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office. Until relatively recently, Washington had been pushing to unseat Maduro by throwing its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido, hoping that he could inspire an uprising that could overthrow the president. So far, that strategy hasn’t worked. So Washington has come up with a new plan: negotiate a transition directly with the Maduro government. It’s been able to do this only because the sanctions imposed on Venezuela have weakened the government enough to force it to the negotiating table. Maduro’s departure now seems to be a question of when, not if.

How We Got Here

A Trump-Rouhani meeting: inevitable or inconceivable?

By John Krzyzaniak

Over the last two weeks there have been a flurry of statements from American and Iranian officials on the possibility of negotiations between Iran and the United States. Will they happen, or won’t they? While some think that talks are increasingly likely, a recent commentary in the Washington Post suggests that hurdles abound.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani caught Iran watchers by surprise when he seemingly signaled openness to bilateral talks. In a speech, he said that if meeting with “a person” would help solve the problems of the Iranian people, then he “wouldn’t miss it”—even if the chance of success were only 10 or 20 percent. Donald Trump, too, has signaled a willingness to meet at the upcoming UN General Assembly.

But within 24 hours of his speech, Rouhani had reversed course, stating that he is not interested in mere photo opportunities and that the United States must lift sanctions before even multilateral talks could take place. Bilateral talks, Rouhani said later, are completely off the table.

There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis

By Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Lack of progress towards decarbonization of world energy systems has created justifiable panic about the climate crisis. This has led to an intensified interest in technological climate interventions that involve increasing the reflection of sunlight to space by injecting substances into the stratosphere which lead to the formation of highly reflective particles. When first suggested, such albedo modification schemes were introduced as a “Plan B,” in case the world economy fails to decarbonize, and this scenario has dominated much of the public perception of albedo modification as a savior waiting in the wings to protect the world against massive climate change arising from a failure to decarbonize. But because of the mismatch between the millennial persistence time of carbon dioxide and the sub-decadal persistence of stratospheric particles, albedo modification can never safely play more than a very minor role in the portfolio of solutions. There is simply no substitute for decarbonization. This article is free-access through October 31, 2019.

Student Feature – Spotlight on the WTO and its Appellate Body Crisis


May 28, 2019 will always be a crucial day in the history of World Trade Organization (WTO) as it marked the day when the Appellate Body at the WTO stood in the midst of the biggest crisis in its 23 years of existence. It is on this day when Peter Van Dan Bossche, one of the 4 remaining members of the Appellate Body gave his farewell speech– “I stand here before you with a heavy heart but not because this is my farewell. I stand before you with a heavy heart because of the current crisis in the rules-based multilateral trading system”, he said. The world is witnessing a slow piecemeal death of the international trade regime as we know it today and with the sword of December 10, 2019 hanging over our heads, the clock is ticking and it’s ticking fast.


The WTO was established on January 1, 1995 through the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization of 1994 (Marrakesh Agreement). The agreement is the founding document for WTO law which consists of various institutional and procedural rules including rules on decision making, trade policy review and dispute settlement. A deliberate attempt was made to ensure that WTO remains a ‘member-driven’ organization by incorporating features such as consensus-based decision-making procedures, an all-inclusive composition of various organs, appointment of an independent Secretariat for administrative functions and establishment of a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism for all WTO covered agreements.

Google and Facebook Have Failed Us

Alexis C. Madrigal

Inthe crucial early hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, it happened again: Hoaxes, completely unverified rumors, failed witch hunts, and blatant falsehoods spread across the internet.

But they did not do so by themselves: They used the infrastructure that Google and Facebook and YouTube have built to achieve wide distribution. These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public.

BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick found that Google’s “top stories” results surfaced 4chan forum posts about a man that right-wing amateur sleuths had incorrectly identified as the Las Vegas shooter.

4chan is a known source not just of racism, but hoaxes and deliberate misinformation. In any list a human might make of sites to exclude from being labeled as “news,” 4chan would be near the very top.

How Data Hoarding Is the New Threat to Privacy and Climate Change

Tyler Elliot Bettilyon
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Asmachine learning and other data-intensive algorithms proliferate, more organizations are hoarding data in hopes of alchemizing it into something valuable. From spy agencies to network infrastructure providers, data collection is part and parcel of the digital economy. The best data can be combined with clever algorithms to do incredible things — but digital hoarding and computationally-intensive workloads have externalities too.

The electrical costs — and therefore the environmental impacts — of computation are both extraordinary and growing. Modern machine learning (ML) models are a prime example. They require an enormous amount of energy in order to process mountains of data. The computational costs of training ML models have been growing exponentially since 2012, with a doubling period of 18 months, according to OpenAI. In recent months, similar studies have shown that the electrical costs of cryptocurrency and video streaming are also significant and growing.

Producing this electricity creates literal exhaust in most cases — there are precious few server farms running on 100% renewable energy — and with climate change looming large, it’s time we acknowledge the environmental impact of computation. Just like wrapping every little thing in a plastic bag is, some of our CPU usage is frivolous and wasteful.

Google pays France over $1 billion to settle tax case


Tech giant Google said Thursday it has paid over one billion dollars to French authorities to settle a years-long dispute over allegations of tax fraud.

A Paris court approved a penalty of 500 million euros ($551 million) from the digital giant over charges of tax evasion, and Google said it paid a further 465 million euros ($513 million) in "additional taxes."

French investigators have since 2015 been investigating Google's tax set-up. The company, like many multinationals, declares profits from activities across the EU in one country, usually a low-tax state. Google declares most of its earnings in Ireland.

Google said in a statement: "We remain convinced that a coordinated reform of the international tax system is the best way to provide a clear framework to companies operating worldwide."

What does state-of-the-art cybersecurity look like to the Pentagon?

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Department of Defense wants to hear from industry leaders about the Pentagon’s proposal to grade contractors on their cybersecurity.

The Defense Department is focusing on the cybersecurity of its suppliers. According to experts, while DoD requires compliance with certain standards released in 2017 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, many companies blew past those deadlines and requirements.

Now, DoD is rolling out what it calls the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, a framework that grades companies on a scale of one to five. A one designates basic hygiene and a five represents advanced hygiene. The scale is flexible, officials said, and will adapt over time. Right now, Pentagon leaders want input from companies on what controls work and which don’t.

Feedback is due before Sept. 22.

How Each Big Tech Company May Be Targeted by Regulators

By Jack Nicas, Karen Weise and Mike Isaac

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have been the envy of corporate America, admired for their size, influence and remarkable growth.

Now that success is attracting a different kind of spotlight. In Washington, Brussels and beyond, regulators and lawmakers are investigating whether the four technology companies have used their size and wealth to quash competition and expand their dominance.

The four firms are lumped together so often that they have become known as Big Tech. Their business models differ, as do the antitrust arguments against them. But those grievances have one thing in common: fear that too much power is in the hands of too few companies.

The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, said Friday that the attorneys general in eight states — she and three other Democrats, plus four Republicans — and the District of Columbia had begun an antitrust investigation of Facebook.

Interested in All Things Tech?

Technology, Military Genius, and the Improbable Victory

By Joanne C. Lo

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands And wrote my will across the sky in stars To earn you freedom, the seven pillared worthy house, That your eyes might be shining for me When we came.

—T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The day after tomorrow…there will be a great battle, for which the entire army is longing. I myself look forward to this day as I would to my own wedding day.

—Carl von Clausewitz in a letter to Marie

War is ultimately a human affair. Because technology is a tool humans use to wage war, no study of battlespace technology can be complete without diving into the way humans interact with technology in a chaotic combat environment. In this paper, we will discuss how technology could serve as a vehicle for theory—one that could be used to find the scientific structure in chaos that leads to freedom in the execution of military art. The design of the technology should be firmly rooted in the science of war, such that warfighters can freely dive into the realm of chance knowing the foundation is secure. “Lack of science leads to chaos in art,” remarked J. F. C. Fuller, but science also stagnates without art pushing the boundary, turning chance into opportunities.[1] A structure that allows the blending of the two—science that elevates, as well as learns from, art—is the goal that the battlespace technology design should aim to achieve.