21 September 2019

After Russia, Now US May Offer India Oil At Concessional Rates As Prices Spike Post Attacks On Saudi Supply Chain

The US may offer oil and gas to India on concessional terms from its own reserves to help the latter tide over any shortages arising from the drone attacks on Saudi Arabian Oil Company, or Aramco, that have caused the biggest-ever disruption in global crude oil supplies.

Diplomatic sources here said that supply details would be discussed in detail during the visit of the official Indian delegation to the US starting September 21, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump. The delegation also includes a large number of Indian business honchos, including chiefs of public and private sector oil companies.

"We can expect Indian oil companies to sign memoranda of understanding with their US counterparts for increasing oil imports to meet the country's domestic demand. Saudi Arabia meets close to 20 per cent of oil needs of the country and if there is a supply disruption, the US can become a dependable ally if terms of such supplies are favourable," one source said.

About Time The RBI And States Are Also Blamed For The Economic Slowdown

Karan Bhasin

It’s about time the state governments get their act together and work as ‘Team India’ to build a dynamic and robust economy.

Recently, many people highlighted the inordinate delays in payments by state governments for power projects. There was a 57 per cent increase in outstanding dues to power sector in the month of July, taking the total value to Rs 73,000 crore.

These developments have raised concerns about the impact that state governments can have on non-performing assets (NPAs). These would eventually have to then be cleaned up by the central government.

States such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are on top of the list when it comes to delay in payment of outstanding dues.

Limited state-level reforms, lack of adequate state capacity and other constraints are acting as bottlenecks to our growth and there’s a need to realise that most of these issues have to be addressed by the states and not the central government.

Why NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Failed To Take A Clear Picture Of Chandrayaan-2’S Vikram Lander

Prakhar Gupta

On Monday, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) photographed during its flyby over the Moon’s south pole the site where Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram-Lander had hard-landed in the early hours of 7 September.

However, it appears that the pictures of the landing site taken by LRO are not clear enough.

LRO’s flyover came just days after Chandrayaan-2’s Orbiter had spotted the Lander 500 meters away from its designated landing site. The Lander had hit the lunar surface at a much higher velocity than it should have and is not in the orientation that it was supposed to be, making communication difficult.

But ISRO has not released any images of the landing site taken by the Orbiter. There is no clarity on the state in which the Lander is — whether it has disintegrated due to the high-velocity impact with the lunar surface or not. There are many more questions, like those regarding its orientation on the lunar surface, that continue to remain unanswered.

This is what makes LRO’s flyby important.

“Per NASA policy, all LRO data are publicly available,” Noah Petro, LRO’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, had said last week, adding, “NASA will share any before and after flyover imagery of the area around the targeted Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander landing site.”

The US Military is Not, and Can Never Be, Afghanistan’s Police


In 1829, the father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, established “Peel’s Principles” to describe the role of police at large. Almost 200 years later, policing has changed considerably, but the basic premise of preventing crime, earning public support, and respecting community principles has not.

Our military has worked hard to set the conditions for a departure from Afghanistan, but we have not been policing. Our military activities in Afghanistan include police assistance as part of our larger mission set, but if the hardest activities left to accomplish were merely that, then it would mean the need for military force would have subsided already, thanks to good governance, and flourishing public support across Afghan communities. It would mean we would have already won.

Peel’s first principle argues that police are “an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force.” While in today’s world it is perhaps easy to call everything short of war “policing,” it is not accurate to do so. What the United States currently provides in Afghanistan is security, backed by force, and informed by American policy. To call military action in Afghanistan “policing” diminishes the difficulty of both endeavors and enables a false narrative that muddies hard policy decisions.

Suicide Attack at Ghani Campaign Rally Kills 26, Wounds 42

26 people have been killed and 42 wounded on Tuesday by a suicide bomber at President Ghani’s campaign rally in the central province of Parwan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior confirmed. 

The attack took place at 11:40 a.m. in the city of Charikar after a suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated his explosives where dozens of people were entering the meeting place, local officials said.

“The bodies of the deceased have been transferred to hospitals,” said Qasim Sangin, head of Parwan’s provincial hospital.

“A number of the wounded people are not in a stable condition,” Sangin said, adding that the identities of many remained unknown. “We are busy with treatment.”

In the meantime, local police reported that only eight people were killed in the attack and 10 were wounded.

China’s Quest for Gas Supply Security: The Global ImplicationsEtudes de l'Ifri, September 2019

The major transformations that are occurring on the Chinese gas market have profound repercussions on the global gas and LNG markets, especially on trade, investment and prices. In just two years, China has become the world’s first gas importer and is on track to become the largest importer of Liquefied natural gas (LNG).

China alone explained 63% of the net global LNG demand growth in 2018 and now accounts for 17% of global LNG imports. The pace and scale of China’s LNG imports have reshaped the global LNG market. Over the past two years, fears of an LNG supply glut have largely been replaced by warnings that the lack of investments in new LNG capacity would lead to a supply shortage in the mid-2020s unless more LNG production project commitments are made soon. There is now a bullish outlook for future global LNG demand which has encouraged companies to sanction additional LNG projects, based on the anticipated supply shortage. China’s gas imports can be expected to continue to grow strongly, from 120 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2018 to up to 300 bcm by 2030.

The United States (US)-China trade war has not prevented US developers from investing in new liquefaction trains so far but without China’s equity or contracts: out of the seven LNG export projects sanctioned between October 2018 and August 2019, three are in the US. However, since the imposition by China of a 10% tariff on US LNG in retaliation to US tariffs on Chinese goods, Chinese imports of US LNG have collapsed.

China Used Twitter To Disrupt Hong Kong Protests, But Efforts Began Years Earlier


Twitter and Facebook last month suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts and operations that they said were part of a Chinese state-linked disinformation campaign designed to discredit pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

A few days later, Google followed suit, banning 210 YouTube channels that it said it had identified as part of a similar disinformation effort.

Twitter published a list of the most active 936 accounts it banned and more than 3.6 million of their tweets, but it has not detailed how it ascertained that the accounts were connected to the Chinese state.

In its statement, Twitter highlighted behaviors that allowed it to trace many of these accounts to mainland China — a cause for suspicion given the ban on Twitter within the country. A Twitter spokesperson declined to elaborate on how these accounts were identified.

Twitter did say that the suspended accounts were all used at some point to promote China's official narrative on Hong Kong's protests, which casts the mass movement as a willfully destructive mob pushing for regime change in Hong Kong.

Research Collaboration in an Era of Strategic Competition

By Stephanie Segal and Dylan Gerstel
Forty years ago, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Deng Xiaoping signed the first U.S.-China Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology (S&T). The agreement promoted scientific exchange between the two countries and ushered in an era of robust bilateral research cooperation. Today, however, there is a growing concern in Washington that certain aspects of S&T collaboration pose a risk to economic and national security, making it the latest front in rising U.S.-China competition. 

Although Washington had similar concerns with technology “leakage” to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the risks posed by China today are different in scope and sophistication. Top U.S. intelligence officials have recently characterized Chinese graduate students and researchers at U.S. universities and laboratories as part of Beijing’s “societal approach to stealing innovation.” In response, lawmakers and administration officials have proposed stricter controls on foreign citizens’ access to U.S. scientific research, including by implementing stricter visa requirements and restricting participation in research at universities, national laboratories, and private companies. 

Dangerous Demographics: China's Population Problem Will Eclipse Its Ambitions

by Anthony Fensom

Government researchers have predicted that the world’s largest population will peak at 1.4 billion people in 2029. However, it will then experience an “unstoppable” decline that could see it drop to 1.36 billion by 2050, reducing the workforce by as much as 200 million.

Should fertility rates remain unchanged, then China could even shrink to 1.17 billion people by 2065, according to the China Academy of Social Sciences.

“From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously aging population, is bound to cause very unfavorable social and economic consequences,” the report said.

Introduced to slow population growth, China’s one-child policy that included heavy fines, forced abortions and sterilizations proved far too successful, cutting the birth rate per family from 2.9 children in 1979 to 1.6 in 1995.

What You Need to Know About the Attacks on Saudi Oil Facilities

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ASaturday attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production infrastructure jolted international oil markets and significantly escalated tensions between Iran and the United States, with President Donald Trump threatening that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” to strike back. 

But much about the attack remains unclear, including who carried it out and from where the projectiles or drones that have succeeded in taking half of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil production offline were launched. U.S. officials have blamed Iran, which has denied responsibility. 

The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that “initial investigations have indicated that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the source of the attack.” 

Houthi rebels in Yemen, who enjoy Tehran’s backing, claimed responsibility, but analysts question whether the group would be capable of executing an attack of such complexity and daring. 

How Cyber Command can limit the reach of ISIS

By: Mark Pomerleau  
The U.S. military’s digital team tasked with targeting ISIS is now focused on providing agencies intelligence that will help identify specific individuals and that will limit the group’s financing.

“About 90 percent of what we do is intelligence,” Brig. Gen. Len Anderson, deputy commander of Joint Task Force-Ares, said Sept. 16.

Joint Task Force-Ares is the U.S. Cyber Command digital offensive against ISIS that worked hand-in-hand with the kinetic operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition tasked with ridding the group from Iraq and Syria.

Anderson explained that the task force has to be everywhere ISIS is and it needs to provide intelligence and battlefield options to military commanders as well as senior leaders who are interested in thwarting the group’s global presence.

“Now, as that physical caliphate has gone away, we’re focused on the digital caliphate, which is worldwide … that’s where JTF-Ares is going to be," Anderson said.

The Biggest Mistake Trump Could Ever Make: Starting a War with Iran

by Doug Bandow 

Key Point: War would be a disaster. Instead, the administration must, explained James Fallows, “through bluff and patience, change the actions of a government whose motives he does not understand well, and over which his influence is limited.” Which requires the administration to adopt a new, more serious strategy toward Tehran, and quickly.

Sixteen years ago, the George W. Bush administration manipulated intelligence to scare the public into backing an aggressive war against Iraq. The smoking gun mushroom clouds that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned against didn’t exist, but the invasion long desired by neoconservatives and other hawks proceeded. Liberated Iraqis rejected U.S. plans to create an American puppet state on the Euphrates and the aftermath turned into a humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe which continues to roil the Middle East.

Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded and maimed U.S. personnel, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and millions of Iraqis displaced. There was the sectarian conflict, destruction of the historic Christian community, the creation of Al Qaeda in Iraq—which morphed into the far deadlier Islamic State—and the enhanced influence of Iran. The prime question was how could so many supposedly smart people be so stupid?

Attacks Deal a Blow to Saudi Aramco's Prospects

One of Saudi Arabia's greatest nightmares became a reality on Sept. 14 after an attack forced the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco), to take its single most important piece of oil and natural gas infrastructure — the Abqaiq oil and gas processing complex — offline along with 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production. Saudi officials have sought to reassure oil and natural gas markets that they can restore some production, but after an initial suggestion that all production could soon come back online, Riyadh announced on Sept. 16 that the damage could take weeks or even months to repair.

The impact on global oil markets will be significant, but manageable. After an initial spike of nearly 20 percent on Sept. 16, the price of global benchmark Brent crude has settled to around $69 per barrel, up about 14 percent but still far below the $80 mark that oil prices hit just a year ago. Beyond the market impact, the attack raises several critical questions relating to the future of production in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia's oil policy. The events of Sept. 14 provide a clear indicator to the United States that no matter how much domestic production increases, it cannot ignore the impact of the Middle East on energy supplies.

Iran The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink

Simon Tisdall

Donald Trump’s hostility towards Iran and support for Saudi Arabia has made a delicate situation explosive

Like a furious maelstrom, roiled by opposing currents, the crisis in the Gulf gains in intensity and destructive power almost by the day. On Sunday, Donald Trump said the US was “locked and loaded”, ready to respond to attacks on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia, in which it believes Iran was involved. But warning bells, akin to those used to alert fog-bound mariners steering towards rocks, have been ringing out for months. They have mostly been ignored. The daunting bill for multiple acts of political insouciance, measured in lives and petrodollars, is now coming due. 

Trump is even trying to sell the Saudis nuclear technology. What would you think, were you in Iran’s shoes?

It’s easy and convenient to solely blame Iran, as American and British officials routinely do without conclusive evidence. Rather, it is serial western and regional miscalculations that have drawn us ineluctably into this dread vortex.

How can disaster be averted? Who can stop a slide into a wider war that could swiftly engulf regional states from Israel to Saudi Arabia, and drag in US, British and maybe even Russian forces? Clues can be found in the mistakes that led to this point. Answers, if they exist, will only come through informed statesmanship of the sort signally lacking so far.

Key Republicans More Eager to Help Saudi Arabia Than Fight Iran


On Capitol Hill, a cautious reaction to attacks on two Saudi oil production facilities.

Key Republican lawmakers want the United States to provide more defensive weapons support for Saudi Arabia after weekend attacks on two oil production facilities halved the kingdom’s oil production — but they stopped short of calling for military action against Iran.

Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, but lawmakers who viewed classified briefing documents on the incident on Monday were broadly convinced that Iran was to blame. Still, there appeared to be little appetite on Capitol Hill for a military confrontation with Tehran.

“I’m not calling for military action at this time,” said Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyoming. “To me, one of the things that was surprising is that Saudi Arabia wasn’t able to detect the incoming cruise missiles and drones—so that says a lot to me about their defensive capabilities. I support making sure we get weapons to them.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that “we must protect our partners in the face of Iranian aggression…including making sure they have what they need to defend themselves and our shared interests.”

This Is the Moment That Decides the Future of the Middle East

By Steven A. Cook

If the United States is done fighting for Saudi Arabia’s oil, it's done fighting for the entire region.

Since the end of World War II, three core interests have shaped U.S. Middle East policy: ensuring the free flow of energy resources from the region, helping to maintain Israeli security, and making sure no state or group of states can challenge American power in a way that would put the other two interests at risk. In other words, aside from the strategic, historical, moral, and political reasons for the “special” U.S.-Israel relationship, oil is the reason why the United States is in the Middle East at all.

That’s why this moment—the aftermath of an attack on Saudi Arabia’s most significant crude-oil processing facilities—is so important. How the Trump administration responds will indicate whether U.S. elites still consider energy resources a core national interest and whether the United States truly is on its way out of the Middle East entirely, as so many in the region suspect.

When the story broke on Saturday morning that Saudi Arabia’s processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked and that the likely culprits were Houthis, the debate among foreign-policy experts quickly became about Saudi Arabia’s culpability for suffering in Yemen, how much influence Iran has with the Houthis, and whom the Saudis were actually fighting. These questions only intensified after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically accused Iran of the attacks. Speculation was that Pompeo—an Iran hawk—was being too cute by half, directly blaming the Iranians though Tehran was likely only indirectly responsible. This is not an unreasonable position, given Iran’s long history of avoiding direct confrontation in favor of supplying proxies with money, technology, and weapons to do their dirty work around the region. Others agreed with Pompeo that the Iranian role was clear, a position that grew stronger as reports surfaced that cruise missiles were used in the attacks. It was a robust, if not always edifying discussion. It also does not really matter.

The Saudi-Oil Attacks Aren’t Game-Changing. They Show How the Game Has Changed


International norms and laws on proxy warfare encourage bad behavior. It’s time to change that.

A chorus of commentators has risen in the wake of Saturday’s attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities to insist that “the game has changed” — and even that this attack was the “big one” whose disruption of the global oil market makes escalation all but inevitable. But what is actually shown by these attacks is that the game changed long ago, and that new rules are desperately needed.

The attacks are just the latest episode in the long-running proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Though both Iran and the Houthis deny it, Tehran has long supplied the Yemeni group with missiles and other military supplies that the latter has used to strike Saudi territory. In response, the United States has supplied Saudi Arabia with weapons, refueling capabilities, and intelligence. It has also interdicted Iranian weapons and ammunition headed to Yemen. Moreover, the United States has imposed crippling sanctions that have led to 40 percent inflation and high unemployment rates, especially among youth. 

General Jim Mattis: The Currents, Undercurrents and Crosscurrents of Chaos’ Re-emergence

Katherine Voyles

In a recent article about James Mattis, Jeffrey Goldberg described him as “a gifted storyteller;” during his long service in public life Mattis displayed that gift. Mattis is best known as a retired Marine general and secretary of defense. He’s also an accomplished writer. In fact, it’s Mattis’s authorship that has him back in the news due to the Wall Street Journal’s publication of an excerpt of his new book, Call Sign Chaos, written with Bing West, and because of Goldberg’s article about him in The Atlantic. As Mattis re-enters public life it’s useful to think of him as a writer in an effort to unpack the complicated dynamics around that re-entry. In particular, it’s helpful to look at several pieces of his: his speech at Boeing Field over Memorial Day weekend, the resignation letter, the book Warriors and Citizens, and his letter to All Hands the night before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

What follows here sketches some of the currents, undercurrents and crosscurrents of Mattis’s re-emergence before zeroing in on the themes, issues and concerns that dominate his writing. Hearing from people talking about Mattis is an important prelude to hearing from him on his own terms, and the current runs in the other direction too, hearing from Mattis himself is an important rejoinder to hearing other people talk about him. The Mattis that emerges in his own writing is a different Mattis than the one argued over.

Western COIN: The Rise of “Soft” Counterinsurgency Doctrine

Brandon Brooks
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Since the middle of the 20th century, intrastate conflict has become the prevailing form of warfare worldwide.[1] Though often lacking in manpower and physical resources, insurgents have exhibited an impressive degree of skill and innovation, frustrating their opponents’ efforts to infiltrate the organization and disrupt its activities. This paper examines the major shifts in irregular warfare, defined here in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Concept as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over [a designated] population.”[2] While there have been several noteworthy evolutions in the ways in which insurgents wage war, this paper argues that the most consequential developments in irregular warfare have occurred on the state-side, reasoning that Western democracies’ embrace of “soft” COIN approaches has spread worldwide.[3]

Much of the existing literature on the evolution of irregular warfare has investigated historical trends in the ways insurgencies operate. Scholars, such as Bruce Hoffman, Neville Bolt, John Mackinlay, and Steve Metz analyze insurgents’ embrace of mass media – particularly broadcast news and the internet – arguing that contemporary armed movements are less interested in achieving tangible military results than engaging in dramatic acts of violence intended to mobilize a designated populace.[4] Laia Barcells, Sthathis Kalyvas, Seth Jones, and Patrick Johnston examine insurgents’ military strategy, Barcells and Kalyvas observing a steady increase in the use of guerrilla warfare over the course of the Cold War and following the September 11th attacks.[5] Antoine Bousquet, Mark Duffield, and David Kilcullen, on the other hand, focus on the organization of insurgent movements, noting that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have embraced a decentralized, networked structure, which allows them to quickly adapt to their operational environment and establish links with like-minded groups.[6]

Money Alone Won't Solve Germany's Economic Problems

Germany's slowing economy will force its government to introduce tax cuts and spending hikes to generate growth. But in doing so, Berlin will likely take a more cautious approach by gradually rolling out measures one at a time, instead of a potentially contentious stimulus package that could increase tensions in the country's governing coalition. Meanwhile, trade disputes between the United States and China, along with Brexit-related uncertainty and looming U.S. tariffs on EU auto exports, will continue to generate headwinds for the German economy. 

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter. 

Turkey, Russia, Iran agree steps to ease tensions in Syria's Idlib despite lingering differences

Vladimir Soldatkin, Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay

ANKARA (Reuters) - The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran meeting in Ankara on Monday agreed to try to ease tensions in northwest Syria’s Idlib region, but disagreements between the countries appeared to linger, especially over the threat from Islamic State

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Hassan Rouhani of Iran pose following a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The summit of the three countries - all of whom have allies fighting in Syria’s ruinous eight-year-old war - aimed to find a lasting truce in Syria. Recent attacks by Syrian government forces risk deepening regional turmoil and pushing a new wave of migrants towards Turkey.

“We are in a period when we need to take more responsibility for peace in Syria, when we (three countries) need to carry more weight,” Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that all three leaders were in agreement that a political solution was necessary to end the crisis in Syria.

The Democratic Party Debates Itself—and Trump—on Trade

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

Trade has rarely been a major issue in American presidential elections, but that could change in 2020. The obvious way for Democratic candidates to differentiate themselves from a protectionist, “trade wars are good, and easy to win” President Donald Trump would be to embrace free trade more. But Democrats traditionally have been more critical of free trade than Republicans, and the leftward tilt among party activists and some leading candidates makes that even more likely next year. So far, only former Maryland Congressman John Delaney has embraced the free trade alternative, and he is doing so poorly in polls that he failed to qualify for last week’s debate.

So how are the Democratic presidential candidates positioning themselves vis-à-vis Trump on trade? And on the left, how wide are the differences? On China, according to a Politico survey of Democratic candidates’ positions, where available, 10 out of 11 of them agree that Chinese economic policies are problematic, but they criticize Trump’s approach to China as costly and inept. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have been somewhat more sympathetic to the use of tariffs in some situations, but they still criticize Trump’s implementation of them. Former Vice President Joe Biden has focused on making the United States more competitive and has downplayed the degree to which China and its unfair trade practices are a threat. ...

The US Government Will Spend $1B on AI Next Year — Not Counting the Pentagon

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The federal government plans to spend almost $1 billion in nondefense artificial intelligence research and development in fiscal 2020, according to a supplemental report to the president’s budget request.

“The U.S. has pushed the boundaries for computational power, we have given our innovators the freedom to thrive, and today we can proudly say America continues to be the leader in artificial intelligence,” federal Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said Tuesday at a Center for Data Innovation event. “This new supplement report demonstrates just how diverse and extensive our efforts are.”

The figure indicates a weighty increase from 2016—when all agencies, including defense, collectively spent about $1 billion on AI. However, immediately after Kratsios’ announcement, industry experts and former federal officials weighed in on what more needs to be done to secure and sustain American leadership in AI across the global technological landscape. 

Branson: Speedy Satellite Replacement Can Deter Cyber War in Space

​Virgin Group founder Richard Branson on Sept. 16 suggested that the ability to replace downed low-Earth orbit satellites in a day or less—a capability he told CNBC earlier this year that Virgin Orbit aspires to possess–could make them less desirable targets for enemy states and, thus, deter “the sort of cyber war in space that we all fear.”

“Were there to be a conflict in the Middle East and somebody knocked out all the satellites in that area, by having a 747 … that can just take off at, you know, four or five hours notice, and have a rocket attached under the wing, drop it, and put a new satellite into space, hopefully it’ll be a deterrent to an enemy state to knock out satellites in the first place, if they know that America or Great Britain has the capability of replacing satellites within 24 hours,” he told AFA Chairman and former Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters during an onstage conversation at the Air Force Association’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

Branson said this speedy solution can also make networks more reliable by eliminating the need for network disruptions when LEO satellites, which “fall out of the sky every four or five years,” need to be replaced. ASC 2019 is Sept. 16-18 in National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.

Bill Gates: “Economists don’t actually understand macroeconomics”

By Kevin J. Delaney & Allison Schrager

Bill Gates takes a dim view of economists’ ability to know what’s going on in the economy.

“Too bad economists don’t actually understand macroeconomics,” the Microsoft co-founder noted during a recent interview with Quartz. Asked what he meant by that, Gates continued:

“It’s not like physics where you take certain inputs and you predict certain outputs. Will interest rates ever return to normal, and why aren’t they returning to normal? You won’t get a consensus between economists quite the way that if you dropped a ball out your window and called up physicists and asked, ‘What the hell happened?’ There’s so many factors including what [economist John Maynard] Keynes called ‘animal spirits’ in the economic equation that we don’t have predictability. Even today, people are still arguing about what happened in 2008. So it’s even harder to look forward. [Look at] the role of the bond rating agencies in 2008, which is completely unreformed. Why would that be? Well, there must be a lack of consensus.”

Gates is right, in a way: Economists don’t understand much about the macroeconomy. No one does. Any responsible economist is the first to admit that.

New Data on Ever-Evolving Email Attacks

Janet O’Sullivan

Like any species, email attackers flourish by being highly adaptable to their environment.

Their two great strengths are an excellent understanding of their prey and an equally good understanding of how they are being hunted.

Phish Where the Fish Are

Attackers are following their prey. Wherever people spend time online, danger usually lurks nearby. Attackers are exploiting the huge popularity of file sharing sites to host malicious files. They are also impersonating top-trusted global brands in order to steal information, credentials and money.

Like all successful predators, email attackers they are very swift to adapt and evade capture.

Their evasion techniques show equal sophistication. As an example, we are seeing a move to URL-based attacks and an increase use of HTTPS in malicious domains.

All of this points to the fact the organizations must be equally innovative and adaptive to stay ahead of these deadly predators.

For additional details around these facts and more, check out our recent infographic – Ever-Evolving Email Attacks. Or, see how current email solution performs given these shifting behaviors with a free email analysis.

How 3D Printing Can Benefit A Manufacturing Business

3D printing has become quite popular in manufacturing over the past few years, with this being seen in a variety of ways. Some of the most notable of these include the creation of custom signs, posters, banners, lamination, and much more.

As a result, there have been a variety of high-quality companies established to take advantage of the growing niche, such as USI Laminate. Despite this growing popularity, however, many business owners may not know how 3D printing can help their business.

Much of this is driven by the fact that entrepreneurs may not know what the process entails, which is something that can be seen in the manufacturing industry. The advantages that it can provide a company can be much larger than you might expect, which is why 3D printing should be considered by many firms.

To do so, however, it's worth noting what 3D printing is and what the potential benefits of it can be for your business.

What Is 3D Printing?

The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance


Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is rapidly proliferating around the world. Startling developments keep emerging, from the onset of deepfake videos that blur the line between truth and falsehood, to advanced algorithms that can beat the best players in the world in multiplayer poker. Businesses harness AI capabilities to improve analytic processing; city officials tap AI to monitor traffic congestion and oversee smart energy metering. Yet a growing number of states are deploying advanced AI surveillance tools to monitor, track, and surveil citizens to accomplish a range of policy objectives—some lawful, others that violate human rights, and many of which fall into a murky middle ground.

In order to appropriately address the effects of this technology, it is important to first understand where these tools are being deployed and how they are being used. Unfortunately, such information is scarce. To provide greater clarity, this paper presents an AI Global Surveillance (AIGS) Index—representing one of the first research efforts of its kind. The index compiles empirical data on AI surveillance use for 176 countries around the world. It does not distinguish between legitimate and unlawful uses of AI surveillance. Rather, the purpose of the research is to show how new surveillance capabilities are transforming the ability of governments to monitor and track individuals or systems. It specifically asks:

Commercial threat intelligence has become a key Army tool

By: Mark Pomerleau 
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It’s no secret that intelligence drives operations, but U.S. military leaders today often receive that information from the private sector.

“It’s not just traditional collection that’s going to give me what I require. What we find is, we go out and we buy commercial threat intel,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, the head of Army Cyber Command, said Sept. 16 at an event hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army.

Fogarty repeated a line from other officials in the military cyber apparatus: intelligence organizations, such as the National Security Agency or, in the Army’s case, the Intelligence and Security Command, are their greatest enablers.

But, he added that commercial partners provide global insights that don’t come from the military.

How the Army’s new multidomain forces could help

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Army unveiled details about one of its newest units designed to help the service compete with adversaries below the threshold of war.

The shape of the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space (I2CEWS) detachment, part of the service’s multidomain task force, has evolved since first conceptualized. This battalion-sized detachment, which encompasses capabilities within its namesake, is envisioned to help commanders on the battlefield with those areas. They will not only possess some capabilities but will also provide planning assistance within these non-kinetic realms.

As part of the multidomain task force, the detachment will support combatant commands.

“The task force is a purpose-built formation, forward postured to synchronize and employ multidomain fires (lethal and non-lethal),” Matt Leonard, an Army spokesman, said in an email to Fifth Domain Sept. 13. “It is more than a typical field artillery organization with organic assets, or the sum of its parts. It is designed to penetrate and dis-integrate threat anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) capabilities by delivering effects in all domains.”