9 November 2019

Where Air Pollution Cuts Life Expectancy The Most

by Martin Armstrong

In the face of extremely high levels of air pollution in the Indian capital city of New Delhi, authorities have taken the decision to ban the use of a large number of cars from 4 to 15 November. Those with a number plate ending in an odd number will not be allowed to drive there on 'odd' dates, and vice versa for even-numbered cars.

According to reporting by Reuters, the U.S. Embassy air quality index indicates a current level which can cause "serious aggravation of heart and lung disease, and premature mortality in people with existing diseases and the elderly". As this infographic shows, India as a whole has some of the most dangerously polluted air in the world. The Health Effects Institute's latest 'State of Global Air' report calculates the estimated years of life expectancy lost due current air pollution levels, with India in place 8 and an average of 1.53 years cut due to PM2.5 exposure.

Lost in the data localisation debate: Does India have full power to exploit its own data?

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The Narendra Modi government wants to reportedly water down the provisions related to data localisation proposed in the draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 formulated by the Justice Srikrishna Committee.

The debate on the free-flow and storage of data has assumed significance in the wake of technological developments – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) – that can harness data to provide better and cheaper services to consumers. The debate on data localisation is now not only a political one, but also a geopolitical one, and a key aspect of trade talks between India and other countries like the US. However, it is important to examine and analyse whether localisation, as defined in the data protection bill, would actually meet its underlying objectives.

Options for India

India’s Quest for Jobs: A Policy Agenda



The Indian economy is riding the wave of a youth bulge, with two-thirds of the country’s population below age thirty-five. The 2011 census estimated that India’s 10–15 and 10–35 age groups comprise 158 million and 583 million people, respectively.1 By 2020, India is expected to be the youngest country in the world, with a median age of twenty-nine, compared to thirty-seven for the most populous country, China.2 In the 2019 general elections, the estimated number of first-time voters was 133 million.3 Predictably, political parties scrambled to attract youth voters.4

It is therefore not surprising that, according to several surveys, the parties’ primary concern was job creation.5 The burgeoning youth population has led to an estimated 10–12 million people entering the workforce each year.6 In addition, the rapidly growing economy is transitioning away from the agricultural sector, with many workers moving into secondary and tertiary sectors. Employing this massive supply of labor is, perhaps, the biggest challenge facing India—at the very least, it requires high economic growth for the next three decades. Further, this growth must be sustainable, broad-based, and focused on creating new jobs. 

The Islamic State Will Outlive Baghdadi. Afghanistan Shows How.

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Acouple of years ago, a conspiracy theory emerged alleging that the United States was backing the Islamic State in Afghanistan. It had a curious mix of propagators: former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Russian government, and large numbers of Pakistani Twitter handles, among others.

In 2017, Karzai described the Islamic State as a “tool” of the United States and later claimed Washington was propping up the group in order to justify a long-term military presence in Afghanistan. The next year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that unmarked U.S. helicopters were ferrying in weapons for the group. And in recent months, tweets from Pakistani accounts have asserted that at some point not long ago, U.S. forces airlifted Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi into Afghanistan.

The idea wasn’t new. Observers from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to a group of university students listening to me give a guest lecture in the Indian state of Bihar have claimed that America was behind the very creation of the militant group. These assertions aren’t just attributable to psy-ops or hostility toward the United States; they’re also rooted in some relevant facts—such as past U.S. support for Islamist fighters in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and the Islamic State’s emergence after U.S. forces invaded Iraq.

To End the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. Reaches Out to Its Rivals

The prospects of a U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan has compelled both China and Russia to take a more active role in the peace negotiations. In doing so, Moscow and Beijing are also forging stronger relations with the Taliban, which the United States will try to leverage to ensure the insurgents uphold their end of an eventual peace deal.

As the United States searches for an exit from Afghanistan, its outreach to China and Russia points to its rivals' growing influence in shaping the endgame to its longest-ever conflict. On Oct. 25, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Moscow to discuss reviving the Afghan peace process with Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials. China is also expected to host Taliban and Afghan government officials for talks next month. 

A political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban remains the ultimate goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. And if and when that settlement is reached, it will likely include the insurgents joining a future power-sharing agreement in Kabul, which has, in turn, prompted China and Russia to establish stronger relations with the Taliban as well to advance their own counterterrorism objectives in the country. But as long as the United States maintains a military presence in Afghanistan, the prospects for lasting peace in the war-torn country will ultimately remain in Washington's hands. Though that doesn't mean Moscow and Beijing's growing ties with the Taliban won't come in handy, as it could help the United States build a regional consensus behind its Afghan peace process.

The NBA’s Hong Kong Disaster Should Warn Britain Off Huawei

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The British government is set to grant Huawei access to the parts of the United Kingdom’s 5G network deemed nonessential, likely opening a rift between the U.K. and its allies in the United States and across the Five Eyes. Sources close to the prime minister suggest that the decision is based on technological considerations: Huawei, they claim, is considerably further ahead in its implementation of the fifth-generation communications technology than any other company anywhere else in the world, and the U.K. would be missing out if it ruled out working with the Chinese telecommunications giant. Courting China in a post-Brexit world where the U.K. will need new trade deals might also have been a consideration.

Either way, this is an incredibly risky proposition. And it’s an unnecessary risk given that the U.K. could shield itself from Chinese censure over blocking Huawei by invoking the Trump administration’s ultimatum that London would be shut out of the Five Eyes alliance over such a decision.

Watching Huawei’s “Safe Cities”

Huawei’s “Safe City” products have fueled concerns that China is “exporting authoritarianism.” Among the “solutions” Huawei sells globally under this label are facial and license-plate recognition, social media monitoring, and other surveillance capabilities. To better understand these developments, the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project examined open-sources and identified 73 “Safe City” agreements for surveillance products or services across 52 countries.


Huawei is expanding into next-generation markets: Its partners tend to be non-liberal, located in Asia or Africa, and middle-income.

The benefits are questionable: The benefits of Huawei’s “Safe City” solutions are difficult to verify and appear grossly exaggerated in some cases.

Local context is key: Huawei’s “Safe City” label encompasses a range of technologies, the actual usage of which can vary widely depending on local conditions.


Francis Fukuyama interview: “Socialism ought to come back”

The End of History author on what Karl Marx got right, the rivals to liberal democracy and why he fears a US-China war.

History is having its revenge on Francis Fukuyama. In 1992, at the height of post-Cold War liberal exuberance, the American political theorist wrote in The End of History and the Last Man: “What we may be witnessing… is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Twenty-six years later, from the US to Russia, Turkey to Poland, and Hungary to Italy, an Illiberal International is advancing. Fukuyama’s new book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (his ninth) seeks to grapple with these forces. But when I met the 65-year-old Stanford academic at our offices in London, he was careful to emphasise the continuity in his thought. “What I said back then [1992] is that one of the problems with modern democracy is that it provides peace and prosperity but people want more than that… liberal democracies don’t even try to define what a good life is, it’s left up to individuals, who feel alienated, without purpose, and that’s why joining these identity groups gives them some sense of community.”

His critics, he said, “probably didn’t read to the end of the actual book [The End of History], the Last Man part, which was really all about some of the potential threats to democracy.”

Sudan Drawing Down Troops in Yemen in Recent Months

CAIRO - Sudan has recently drawn down its forces taking part in a Saudi-led coalition at war with Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen, two senior Sudanese officials said Wednesday.

They declined to disclose how many troops have left Yemen, but say “several thousand troops,” mainly from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, have returned over the past two months.

The officials stressed that Sudan isn’t quitting the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition was formed in 2015 to stem the advance of the rebels known as Houthis after they took over Yemen’s capital and the northern provinces in 2014, pushing out the internationally recognized government.

The officials say Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the RSF, agreed with Saudi Arabia that he would not replace returned forces as fighting on the ground has dwindled in recent months. They said a “few thousand troops” remain for training Yemeni government forces.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's True Legacy

Scott Stewart

This July 5, 2014, photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released by al-Furqan Media showing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he declares himself caliph in Mosul. Now that he is dead, al-Baghdadi has left behind a legacy of supreme violence and other barbarity.

The legacy that the deceased Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left differs greatly from the one he aspired to.

Al-Baghdadi oversaw the widening of a rift in the jihadist movement that now often results in open combat between al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The militant leader also institutionalized sectarian attacks, the declaration of many Muslims as apostates, extreme violence and the hypersexualization of jihadist activity. 

Saudi Arabia’s Oil Vision and the Oil Price Cycle

by Amy M. Jaffe

Saudi Arabia’s oil industry is on the move with strategic changes in leadership, investments, and a broadening of its global businesses. The moves, which include larger investments in refining and petrochemicals as well as global natural gas, should help the kingdom weather the large changes coming in global energy markets. Studies show that integration across the petroleum value chain can enhance long range profits for large businesses like Saudi Aramco. Saudi Arabia has also focused efforts on reducing the swings of the oil price cycle through its leadership to broker production cut agreements between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers like Russia (OPEC plus). Speaking at the sidelines of a major energy gathering, Saudi Arabia’s new oil minister, Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman, whose long service in the highest ranks of the Saudi oil sector spans multiple oil boom and bust cycles, told reporters that the OPEC plus alliance “was staying for the long term.”

Even as Saudi Arabia positions itself for the future, current challenges to Saudi aspirations for a higher oil price remain thorny. Continuation of the U.S.-China trade war has raised fears of a recession in Asia, a major growth market for oil use. The Asian economic flu of 1998 ushered in a period of low oil prices. Prospects that more oil will be coming to markets from Iran is another headwind for oil prices. Deterioration of U.S.-China trade relations creates a disincentive for China to abide by U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil exports. French efforts to keep the Iranian nuclear deal afloat is another similar wildcard on the level of Iran’s oil exports. Iraq’s production is also at record levels and the United Arab Emirates is still moving ahead with its plans to increase its oil production capacity to 4 million b/d by the end of 2020. Limited OPEC spare oil production capacity is one factor that has underpins oil prices.

Beyond Baghdadi: The Next Wave of Jihadist Violence

Since 9/11, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have suffered multiple setbacks, from the 2006 death of al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden. Now comes the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. While significant in the short term, al-Baghdadi’s demise is unlikely to have a long-term impact. The persistence of jihadist movements has largely been a result of structural conditions like local grievances and weak governance. These conditions remain prevalent in parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, raising the possibility of a new wave of violence.

The death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—and his replacement by Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi—is another setback for the jihadist movement that captured the world’s attention beginning in 2014. Following its military defeat along the Hajin-Baghuz corridor in Syria earlier this year, the Islamic State lost its last major area of control in Syria and Iraq, which at its largest point approached the size of Belgium. U.S. military and intelligence units had also decimated the Islamic State’s external operations capability, killing leaders like Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the chief spokesman and head of Islamic State external operations.

Why are so many countries witnessing mass protests?

FOR ANYONE trying to follow protest movements around the world it is hard to keep up. Large anti-government demonstrations, some peaceful and some not, have taken place in recent weeks in places on every continent: Algeria, Bolivia, Britain, Catalonia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and more. On November 1st Pakistan joined the ever-lengthening roll as tens of thousands of protesters converged on the capital, Islamabad, to demand that the prime minister, Imran Khan, stand down within 48 hours.

Probably not since the wave of “people power” movements swept Asian and east European countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s has the world experienced such a simultaneous outpouring of popular anger on the streets. Before that, only the global unrest of the late 1960s bears comparison in terms of the number of countries swept up and the number of people mobilised.

Toward a Theory of Journalistic Objectivity

By George Friedman

Last Sunday, I received an email from a close friend telling me and others that after 60 years he was canceling his subscription to The New York Times because he was tired of its bias against U.S. President Donald Trump and, even more, its failure to cover the world except through the prism of Trump. A few weeks ago, another friend of mine said that he was no longer able to write about the world without making clear the harm that Trump was doing and the disgraceful sort of man he was.

The interesting point is that one believed that The New York Times was falsifying reality with its hostility to Trump, while the other said that describing Trump in any way other than vile was falsifying reality. Few of us hold opinions we know to be false, and therefore few of us see ourselves as falsifying reality. We think of ourselves as clarifying reality and as being the victims of others. That makes each of us a spokesperson for truth and those who disagree with us as in error. The political question is how should we treat those we think are in error? One way is to think of them as reasonable people, to be respected even in disagreement. The other is to regard them as either too stupid to realize they are in error or deliberately corrupt. If you follow the latter approach, they are unreasonable people and unworthy of respect.

Could Congress Reverse Trump's Decision To Pull Troops Out Of Syria?

by Sarah Burns
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The political and humanitarian outcry condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria came soon after he made the announcement.

Trump’s actions paved the way for Turkish troops to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces that had been fighting the Islamic State group. In reaction, on Oct. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution opposing his move, with strong bipartisan support.

U.S. forces are still in Syria, but their role has changed substantially in recent weeks. 

This resolution, like many attempts to articulate a collective view on foreign policy, lets members of Congress seem like they’re holding the president accountable without actually doing so.

It’s Not All Trump’s Fault: Syria Shows the Danger of War on the Cheap

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As ISIS spread its caliphate to large swaths of the Middle East in 2014, the Obama administration and its European allies faced a challenge: how to meet this new threat in a political environment that disfavored large military deployments à la Iraq and Afghanistan. The governments decided to confront the terror group “by, with, and through” local and regional forces who would do most of the frontline fighting. Their experience suggests that the challenges of this form of engagement should be considered more carefully before they do so again. 

In September 2014, the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition launched an operational relationship in Syria with the Kurdish armed group, the People’s Protection Unit, or YPG. One commentator wrote, “The midwife was tactical necessity. Larger issues of national security objectives, overall strategy for Syria, and an important bilateral relationship with a NATO partner were made subordinate to the singular focus on attacking ISIS.”

The Yes-Men Have Taken Over the Trump Administration

Thomas Wright
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The debate on President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in his first two years in office revolved around the question of what mattered more: the policy or the tweets. Trump-administration officials, sympathetic conservatives, and a significant number of foreign government officials argued that the policy pursued by the administration was sound even though the president had a penchant for hyperbole and sensationalism. Yes, he questioned NATO, but the United States was sending more troops to the Baltics and it provided lethal assistance to Ukraine. Skeptics argued that the president was not aware of many of these policies and that his words mattered. Yes, his National Security Strategy was coherent, but he had not read it and never spoke about its contents. Over time, the skeptics said, he would impose his will on his administration. Then he would act in accordance with his visceral instincts and his daily whims.

Historians will undoubtedly weigh in on which of these two arguments was true in 2017 and 2018, but there is no dispute about the state of affairs in 2019 and looking ahead to 2020. The policy and the tweets are now fused. Trump grew frustrated with the so-called axis of adults, who sought to preserve a mainstream foreign policy. He replaced these officials with people who are too sycophantic or weak to stand up to him. In John Bolton, his erstwhile national security adviser, Trump thought he had a sycophant. But when Bolton pushed back, Trump forced him out, too. As one former administration official put it to Politico, this is not “an A Team or B Team”; what you’re “really getting down to [is] who’s left that will say ‘yes.’”

GERMAN LESSONS Thirty years after the end of history: Elements of an education

By Constanze Stelzenmüller

When the revolution happened, I was not there for it. To be exact, I was 3,776 miles away in Somerville, Massachusetts. On the clear, chilly afternoon of November 9, 1989, I was sitting at my desk in the drafty wooden double-decker house whose upper-level apartment I shared with three other graduate students, mulling over an early chapter of my doctoral thesis on direct democracy in America. Hunched over library books on Puritan town meetings, I clasped a mug of steaming tea, swaddled in scarf and sweater, and beneath it all, very probably wearing my L.L. Bean double-layered thermal long underwear, essential for survival in a New England winter.

The house phone rang, and continued to ring insistently. It was another West German student. We were used to ribbing each other about our politics, hers crisply conservative, mine vaguely liberal. She said, without preface: “Turn on the TV, the wall is gone.” Annoyed that I’d lost my train of thought, I retorted grumpily that she’d have to be more creative if she wanted to play one of her right-wing political jokes on me. She merely repeated: “Turn. On. The. TV.” Shocked, I did as I was told, and stared in disbelief at the inconceivable, the impossible: fuzzy shots, in grainy black and white, of tens of thousands of people waving sledgehammers and champagne bottles, dancing and singing — on top of the Berlin Wall, for 28 years one of the most deadly borders on the planet. Many people were chanting “Wir sind das Volk,” we are the people.

Direct democracy in action, live — and in Germany.

How Trump Is Manipulating U.S. Trade Policy to Suit His Own Political Interests

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

For just the third time in modern American history, the U.S. House of Representatives is investigating whether a president should be removed from office. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has so far kept the impeachment inquiry narrowly focused on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponents. But even as the House approved a resolution last week setting out the next steps in that inquiry, there have been reports of other instances in which Trump appears to be manipulating U.S. policy—in this case involving trade—to serve his narrow political interests, rather than those of the country as a whole.

One of those instances was related to the Ukraine scandal. The others involved allegations of improper influence over the administration’s process for granting exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs, and concerns about the plans for implementing the automobile rules of origin under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement known as the USMCA.

US ballistic missile defenses, 2019

Matt Korda, Hans M. Kristensen
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The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, a research associate with the project. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. This issue examines the status of US missile defense, a key driver of the global nuclear arms race. According to the latest Missile Defense Review, the United States will continue to enhance its four primary missile defense systems – one for homeland defense and three for regional defense – without “any limitation or constraint.” Doing so is likely to be destabilizing, as potential adversaries will attempt to build offensive systems to offset the United States’ defensive systems. This dynamic is currently on display with Russia and China, both of which are developing missiles that are specifically designed to counter US missile defenses.

Missile defense systems can have a significant effect on nuclear weapons postures, the strategy for their potential use, and crisis stability and international security. The defenses don’t even have to work very well; the uncertainty that they might work, or could become more capable in the future, are enough to trigger the effect. Advocates argue that missile defenses don’t threaten anyone and can help deter adversaries, but those adversaries are unlikely to simply give up; they are more likely to be stimulated to try to beat the defenses to ensure their own deterrent forces remain effective and credible. This dynamic is clear from many cases during the Cold War and remains evident today.

Syria’s Civil War: The Descent Into Horror

By Zachary Laub
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In the eight years since protesters in Syria first demonstrated against the four-decade rule of the Assad family, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and some twelve million people—more than half the country’s prewar population—have been displaced. The country has descended into an ever more complex civil war: jihadis promoting a Sunni theocracy have eclipsed opposition forces fighting for a democratic and pluralistic Syria, and regional powers have backed various local forces to advance their geopolitical interests on Syrian battlefields. The United States had been at the forefront of a coalition conducting air strikes on the self-proclaimed Islamic State, then abruptly removed forces in October 2019 ahead of the second invasion of northern Syria by Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally. The Turks seek to push Kurdish forces, the United States’ main local partner in the fight against the Islamic State, from border areas. Russia too has carried out air strikes in Syria, coming to the Assad regime’s defense, while Iranian forces and their Hezbollah allies have done the same on the ground.

The Geopolitics of Brazil: An Emergent Power's Struggle with Geography

This is the 15th in a series of Stratfor monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

South America is a geographically challenging land mass. The bulk of its territory is located in the equatorial zone, making nearly all of the northern two-thirds of its territory tropical. Jungle territory is the most difficult sort of biome to adapt for human economic activity. Clearing the land alone carries onerous costs. Soils are poor. Diseases run rampant. The climate is often too humid to allow grains to ripen. Even where rivers are navigable, often their banks are too muddy for construction, as with the Amazon.

As the tropics dominate South America, the continent's economic and political history has been problematic. Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are fully within the tropical zone, and as such always have faced difficulties in achieving economic and political stability, though the discovery of oil in Venezuela improved that country's economic trajectory. Throughout the tropical zones nearly all of the population lives within a few dozen kilometers of the coast. For the most part, however, those coasts are not naturally sculpted to encourage interaction with the outside world. Natural ports — deepwater or otherwise — are few and far between.

There are, however, two geographic features on the continent that break this tropical monotony.

Google Is Helping Design an Open Source, Ultra-Secure Chip

With hackers deploying sophisticated attacks against operating systems, processors, and even firmware, manufacturers have increasingly turned to a tamper-resistant processor—or part of one—often called a "secure enclave" to stymie all sorts of attacks. They place in that immutable chip the "root of trust" on a device, relying on it to run cryptographic checks every time the system starts to make sure nothing has been subtly, maliciously altered. If something is wrong, the secure enclave stops the machine from booting up. Which leads to a nagging question: How can you always be sure that you can trust the secure enclave itself?

It's not a hypothetical. While secure root of trust schemes offer real security improvements in many ways, researchers have repeatedly shown that it can be possible to undermine those chips. Which is why Google and a consortium of companies, nonprofits, and academic institutions have all signed on to an initiative meant to improve the transparency—and ultimately the security—of secure enclaves. Known as OpenTitan, the project aims to lift the fog of proprietary machine code and clandestine manufacturing that makes any processor difficult to fully trust. It's managed and directed by the open source hardware nonprofit lowRISC CIC.

The Story of Sandworm, the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers

Over the last half decade, the world has witnessed a disturbing escalation in disruptive cyberattacks. In 2015 and 2016, hackers snuffed out the lights for hundreds of thousands of civilians in the first power outages ever triggered by digital sabotage. Then came the most expensive cyberattack in history, NotPetya, which inflicted more than $10 billion in global damage in 2017. Finally, the 2018 Olympics became the target of the most deceptive cyberattack ever seen, masked in layers of false flags.

In fact, those unprecedented events aren't merely the recent history of cyberwarfare’s arms race. They're all linked back to a single, highly dangerous group of hackers: Sandworm.

Since late 2016, I've been tracing the fingerprints of these Russian operatives from the US to Ukraine to Copenhagen to Korea to Moscow. The result is the book Sandworm, available Tuesday from Doubleday. But parts of that reporting have also been captured in a series of WIRED magazine features, which have charted the arc of Sandworm's rise and catalogued some of its most brazen attacks. Here, together, are those three stories, from the first shots fired in Sandworm's cyberwar against Ukraine, to the ballooning international toll of NotPetya, to the mysterious attack on the Pyeongchang Olympics, whose fingerprints ultimately led back to a tower looming over the Moscow canal.

Report: The Government and Tech Need to Cooperate on AI

It also warns that AI-enhanced national security apparatus like autonomous weapons and surveillance systems will raise ethical questions.

“AI adoption for national security is imperative,” said Eric Schmidt, chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and formerly CEO of Google. “The private sector and government officials need to build a shared sense of responsibility.”

America’s national security depends on the government getting access to the artificial intelligence breakthroughs made by the technology industry.

So says a report submitted to Congress on Monday by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. The group, which includes executives from Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon, says the Pentagon and intelligence agencies need a better relationship with Silicon Valley to stay ahead of China.

“AI adoption for national security is imperative,” said Eric Schmidt, chair of the commission and formerly CEO of Google, at a news briefing Monday. “The private sector and government officials need to build a shared sense of responsibility.”

DISA’s 10 tech focuses for 2020

By: Andrew Eversden 
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The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to improve the military’s cybersecurity posture in 2020 and that focus is evident in the agency’s top priorities for emerging technologies.

Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist at the agency’s emerging technology directorate, outlined 10 technologies for the upcoming year during DISA’s annual Forecast to Industry event Nov. 4.

The priorities include:

Assured identity. DISA is taking another look at how the Common Access Card, which currently operates as a point in time authentication, is used today. Over the next year, DISA wants to apply assured identity to its mobile and desktop devices. In addition, officials want to know how they can continuously monitor the user’s identity "in the background. “How can we build a profile of that user’s identity and their day-to-day actions,” Wallace said. “We’ve had a few successful prototypes so far and we expect to do more as time progresses.”

The Zero-Day War? How Cyber is Reshaping the Future of the Most Combustible Conflicts

By Simon Handler
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As tensions rage beneath the Middle East cauldron, the expanded employment of cyber operations is preventing the region from boiling over. An Oct. 17 Reuters report detailing the United States’ covert cyber operation against Iran, in response to the Sept. 14 attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, underscores the inclination of states to use cyber operations and points to broader strategic implications in the region. Israeli-Saudi security cooperation quietly incubated over mutual intolerance toward an expansionist Iran is blossoming into a gradually open relationship, with cyber at its heart. Bonds such as these, forged behind closed doors, provide options for de-escalatory approaches to regional conflict. 

Conventional wisdom would suggest that scaled-up capabilities, growing competition, and the proliferation of malware across cyberspace presents a legitimate risk of escalation in state conflict, transcending the cyber domain toward the kinetic. However, recent history has shown that states more often avail themselves of their offensive cyber arsenals to achieve surprisingly de-escalatory effects. Offensive cyber operations sit low on the escalation ladder—the figurative scale ranging from diplomatic engagement to all-out nuclear war—and provide states with means of signaling adversaries without using force, and potentially deescalating tense or provocative situations. Through this lens, there is a case to be made for the responsible diffusion of malware as a tool of statecraft to de-escalate regional conflict. 

Twitter Will Ban All Political Ads, C.E.O. Jack Dorsey Says

By Kate Conger
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SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter said on Wednesday that it would ban all political ads, putting a spotlight on the power and veracity of online advertising and ramping up pressure on Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to reverse his hands-off stance.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said political ads, including manipulated videos and the viral spread of misleading information, presented challenges to civic discourse, “all at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.” He said he worried the ads had “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.”

He added that he believed that the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

His move sets up a clash of principle with Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg, who this month said that he would allow politicians to run any claims — even false ones — in ads on the social network. Mr. Zuckerberg reasoned that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice and said his company stood for free expression. Politicians’ ads, he said, were newsworthy.

Stories of technological threat—and hope

John Mecklin

In 1947, the Manhattan Project scientists who’d been distributing a short newsletter called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided they needed to professionalize their product, which, after all, addressed the most important issue in the world – the Bomb. They wanted to make the Bulletin into a proper magazine and provide a growing audience with information about the dangers of the extraordinary technology that had incinerated tens of thousands of civilians instantly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a technology that, as Albert Einstein put it, “changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” As scientifically distinguished as the scientists behind the Bulletin might be – in addition to Einstein, the Bulletin’s early supporters included a Who’s Who of nuclear physics, from Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard to Hans Bethe and Robert Oppenheimer – they knew little about the mechanics of popular publishing. But they knew enough to know that every magazine needs a cover.

The wife of one of the scientists associated with the Bulletin, Martyl Langsdorf, was an artist, so she was asked to come up with the cover design. After sorting through alternatives, Martyl (she went by that single name professionally) hit on the idea of a minimalist clock, ticking toward midnight – the all-out nuclear war that would end the world. The minute hand was initially set at seven minutes ahead of the hour, because … well … that pleased Martyl’s artistic eye. The graphic served as the magazine’s sole cover image for two years, only the color of the background changing. Then the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb, and the Bulletin’s editor, a multilingual Russian biophysicist named Eugene Rabinowitch, had an idea: To illustrate how much more dangerous the world had become, he moved the Clock’s minute hand, making the time three minutes to midnight. “We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or a year from now,” he wrote, “but we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.”

These Five Next-Generation Weapons Are How The U.S. Army Plans To Beat Russia and China

by Michael Peck
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The U.S. Army already fields an impressive array of weapons. But as the U.S. Army prepares itself for potential conflicts against high-tech Russian and Chinese armies, the Army is working on a slew of new systems ranging from tanks to missiles.

The result will be the gradual disappearance of the familiar weapons born during the Cold War -- the Abrams tanks and Apache helicopters -- that symbolize America's arsenal. In their place will be a new generation of weapons.

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Since the 1980s, the backbone of the Army's armor force has been the M-1 Abrams tank and M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. Both designs have been upgraded and modernized over the years -- the latest M1A2 has far better sensors and electronics than a 1980s M1 -- but these are essentially 40-year-old designs meant to stop a Soviet tank assault across the Fulda Gap. The counterinsurgency "small wars" of the past two decades has made armor secondary to infantry boots on the ground, but as the U.S. refocuses on the prospect of mechanized "big war" against Russia and China, there is new love for tanks.