10 November 2019

India’s road to RCEP laden with China-related obstacles

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When PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Mamallapuram last week, they had another shy at a question that has been confronting Indian policymakers for over a decade now: should India have a free trade pact with China?

Ten years ago, the question was whether India and China should sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). Today, it is whether India should join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed trading bloc that brings together 16 countries of the Indo-Pacific region, minus Donald Trump’s United States, that not only constitute almost half the world’s population, but also over 40 per cent of international trade.

Joining the RCEP would effectively mean a free trade arrangement with China because if the members of the bloc agree to eliminate tariffs on imports from other member countries, Chinese goods will enjoy unrestricted entry to the Indian market, and, in theory, vice versa. However, China makes for a highly asymmetric member in the proposed bloc due to the acute export-focus of the Chinese economy, and the loss of the US markets as a result of the trade war.

Hold government accountable for Delhi air pollution but also punish selfish behaviour

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Let me start with an apology. If you are among the millions personally suffering from the acute air pollution in Delhi and many other parts of north India, now is not an appropriate time for a deeper reflection on the underlying causes of this human disaster. As a victim, you would be more interested in identifying the cause, directing criticism against the perpetrator and demanding that the government do whatever is necessary to ensure that you can breathe easily. I sympathise with this sentiment and stand in solidarity with you.

Yet, given how the speed of incessant outrage cycles renders the postponement of a deeper discussion futile, I felt it necessary to point out that Delhi’s smog disaster – much like urban water crises or the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria – is a result of grand societal failure. Not just a failure of government and markets, but also of the “samaj” that comprises people like us. This is not to absolve the state and union governments involved. Of course, they are responsible. Nor is it to absolve businesses, industries and markets. They too have acted irresponsibly, even when they’ve complied with the law. But in the heat and passion of the public discourse, we forget to also point fingers at ourselves.

Is hyper diversity to blame?

Recent Developments in Kashmir

Amb Satish Chandra

The spate of criticism faced by India in the international community following its constitutional amendment of Article 370, the restructuring of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and the pre emptive steps taken by it to preserve peace and tranquillity in the state is totally unwarranted. Such criticism is at best ill informed - as exemplified by the ridiculous assertion of the Malaysian Prime Minister that India invaded Kashmir - and at worst smacks of outright bias. This bias is reflected in the lack of even a mention of Pakistan's illegal occupation of a part of Kashmir through use of arms in 1947, of the horrendous human rights violations committed by it there, and of its involvement in terrorist activities against India in Kashmir which led the latter to take some pre emptive steps to preserve peace and prevent unnecessary loss of life.

Chief Executive Abdullah Slams Afghan President's 'Wish List' Peace Plan

Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has criticized a new peace plan put forward by President Ashraf Ghani as an unrealistic "wish list."

In September, U.S. President Donald Trump stopped months-long negotiations with the Taliban amid ongoing militant violence.

Ghani's team last month released a seven-point proposal aimed at building on the U.S.-Taliban talks and bringing an end to Afghanistan's 18-year-old war.

"To be honest, nobody has taken that so-called seven-point plan as a plan...it's rather a wish list," said Abdullah, who is Ghani's adversary in a September 28 presidential election that has yet to decide a winner.

"Nobody is taking it seriously -- neither the people of Afghanistan, nor anybody," Abdullah said on November 5 in an interview in Kabul with French news agency AFP.

Observers have questioned whether certain proposals in the plan -- including a call for a month-long Taliban cease-fire before talks resume -- are feasible.

Eye on China: Mamallapuram Inside Track – Afghan Talks – CPEC & FATF – 4th Plenum – Pence’s Speech


Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom from an Indian interests perspective. This week we cover new details from the Xi-Modi talks; US VP Mike Pence’s big China speech; EU awards Uighur activist; Beijing prepares for 4th plenum of 19th CPC Congress; China’s engagement in the Af-Pak region and much more…
I. What Happened in Mamallapuram?

What exactly happened between Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi during the Chennai Summit? Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Commerce, shed some light during a public event. Here’s what he said, as reported by Dinaker Peri in The Hindu:

Modi made a detailed presentation with data and graphs to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the trade deficit. “The visiting dignitary spoke of taking sincere action, and to reduce trade deficit, specific products and sectors were identified — sugar, rice, pharma and so on.”

Xi accepted Modi’s suggestion for channelling Chinese investments in identified Indian priority sectors, and explore possibilities of manufacturing partnerships in some of them.

Opinion | RCEP could still act as a trigger for domestic reforms

Ajit Ranade

It has been seven years since talks began on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) and six other countries. In its early days, it was seen as a China-led counter to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiated by the US. Signed during US President Barack Obama’s term, the TPP was a 12-member mega trade treaty that pointedly excluded China, and cherry-picked other partners from South-East Asia. The TPP offered carrots for not only free access to America’s consumers, but also to move production to the TPP bloc away from China and other non-TPP members. One of President Donald Trump’s earliest decisions was to break away from TPP, rendering it effectively dead. Trump has often said that US trade partners get a free ride without reciprocal access to their markets. Perhaps he thought that the TPP was stacked against US interests, or maybe he just wanted to undo Obama’s legacy. With the TPP dead, some members of the RCEP wondered if there was any zeal to pursue it, since it was anyway meant as a counter-treaty. Surprisingly, the majority of RCEP members, egged on by Australia, argued for even more determination to conclude the deal. India was soon isolated as the sole naysayer and spoiler. This was not the first time that India found itself alone in international trade negotiations. Remember the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Bali meetings and the agreement on trade facilitation? India was sought to be painted as an anti-trade villain for its stand on getting safeguards on agriculture and food security before signing up.

SecDef: China Is Exporting Killer Robots to the Mideast

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For the first time, a senior Defense official has called out Beijing for selling lethal autonomy.

China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to the Middle East, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday. It’s the first time that a senior Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.

“As we speak, the Chinese government is already exporting some of its most advanced military aerial drones to the Middle East, as it prepares to export its next-generation stealth UAVs when those come oneline,” Esper said today at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence conference. “In addition, Chinese weapons manufacturers are selling drones advertised as capable of full autonomy, including the ability to conduct lethal targeted strikes.” 

The Chinese company Ziyan, for instance, markets the Blowfish A3, essentially a helicopter drone outfitted with a machine gun. Ziyan says it “autonomously performs more complex combat missions, including fixed-point timing detection, fixed-range reconnaissance, and targeted precision strikes.”

US Forces Untrained, Unready For Russian, Chinese Jamming


AOC 2019: US troops have forgotten basic lessons of electronic warfare, and they’re not being forced to relearn them because even major training exercises are unrealistically easy, military and civilian experts warned this morning. Even when electronic warfare specialists are allowed to disrupt a unit’s radios and radar, often to paralyzing effect, they’re typically told to knock it off so training can continue as normal.

“We’ve got to stop wishing it away,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Poole, a Marine working at US Strategic Command. “We’ve got to stop willfully ignoring the fact that the bad guys have jammers too.”

A soldier gets help with VMAX portable jamming system

Is China's DF-100 Missile a Threat to the U.S. Navy?

by James Holmes
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So China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unveiled new weaponry during its October 1 military parade? Color me gobsmacked. If China’s rise to martial eminence has shown one thing, it’s that PLA commanders and their political overseers delight in surprising and trolling Western observers. They excel at developing new hardware in secret, then springing it on the world and watching the ensuing gabfest consume the China-watching community.

And sure enough, launchers bearing “DF-17” and “DF-100” missiles—weapons both supposedly capable of superfast speeds yet hitherto unknown to outsiders—rumbled through Tiananmen Square to help commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. (The DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile also made its public debut on October 1, but Westerners have known about that one for some time.) Alternatively, foreign intelligence services knew about these “birds” but opted not to disclose it in open sources for fear of revealing how they came by the information.

It’s unclear whether the DF-100 is a cruise or ballistic missile. The “DF” nomenclature seems to indicate it flies a ballistic trajectory, while Jane’s depicts the bird as a supersonic cruise missile. It may straddle the difference between ballistic and sea-skimming missiles, arcing high into the atmosphere but following a flatter trajectory than a ballistic missile. It would come at U.S. Navy task forces from yet another axis, augmenting anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles and undersea munitions such as torpedoes or sea mines. Whatever the case, the new anti-ship missile purportedly reaches hypersonic velocity, meaning five or more times the speed of sound, during at least part of its flight. That boosts its chances of getting through U.S. Navy defenses. Defenders would have little time tor more than snap shots.

Tacit Alliance: Russia and China Take Military Partnership to New Level

China’s Way 

By cooperating with China in the military sphere, Russia loses virtually nothing in terms of security, while making life difficult for the United States, strengthening its relationship with a key partner, and gaining an economic advantage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the recent Valdai forum contained two fundamental points regarding China. His official confirmation that Russia is helping China to create a missile launch detection system got more attention, but of no little importance was Putin’s assessment of the state of Russian-Chinese relations: “This is an allied relationship in the full sense of a multifaceted strategic partnership.”

For a long time after Moscow and Beijing normalized their relationship in 1989, both countries rejected the very idea of alliances as only increasing tensions in various parts of the world. They carefully avoided using the word “ally” in regard to each other until relatively recently, when Russia began using it quite casually. 

China continues to avoid the term at an official level, preferring official wording about an “all-encompassing partnership and strategic interaction,” and insisting that relations with Russia are “the best they have ever been.”

The Islamic Jihad and the Israeli Dilemma in the Gaza Strip

Kobi Michael, Yohanan Tzoreff

The barrage of rockets launched at Sderot and the Gaza periphery by the Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza on the night of November 1, 2019 underscored the Israeli dilemma regarding the Gaza Strip. This attack was yet another indication of the rise of the Islamic Jihad, which impacts on Hamas's status, security stability in Gaza, and prospects for Israel reaching an accommodation with Hamas. For Hamas, Islamic Jihad’s growing strength is a provocation, and highlights that Hamas is a "resistance movement" devoid of active "resistance." A weakened Hamas serves Israel's interest regarding a return of the Palestinian Authority to effective control over the Strip, yet it is highly doubtful that the PA will try to regain control in the Strip, as long as there is no political breakthrough in relations with Israel. Therefore, Israel has three main alternatives: a continuation of the status quo vis-à-vis Hamas and the Gaza Strip; military escalation in the Gaza theater; and accommodation with Hamas. Because continuing with the current situation carries a high risk of escalation into a broad military campaign, which would be liable to wreak havoc in the Strip, and because Israel has no interest under the current circumstances to escalate the situation militarily, accommodation is the least problematic alternative. Understandings reached with Hamas that calm the security situation would facilitate a significant improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and their enforcement would attenuate Islamic Jihad's spoiler potential and, perforce, Iranian clout in the Strip.The barrage of rockets launched at Sderot and the Gaza periphery by the Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza on the night of November 1, 2019 underscored the Israeli dilemma regarding the Gaza Strip. This incident, which demonstrated both Islamic Jihad's autonomy and Hamas's difficulty in restraining the organization, is another episode in the rise of the Islamic Jihad, which impacts on Hamas's status, security stability in Gaza, and prospects for Israel reaching an accommodation with Hamas.

It’s time to get US nukes out of Turkey

Steven Pifer
U.S.-Turkish relations have plunged to a new nadir. In the past month, a senior Republican senator has suggested suspending Turkey’s membership in the NATO alliance, while the secretary of state implied a readiness to use military force against America’s wayward ally. In these circumstances, U.S. nuclear weapons have no business in Turkey. It is time to bring them home.

The signs of a strained and deteriorating relationship are hard to miss. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic leader, has turned away from both Europe and the United States. He instead is actively cultivating a close relationship with fellow authoritarian Vladimir Putin, as evidenced by their eight meetings just this year.

Erdogan rejected buying U.S. Patriot air defense missiles in favor of Russian S-400s—missiles that are incompatible with NATO’s integrated air defense system. As a result, the United States excluded Turkey from taking part in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, leaving the question of Turkey’s next-generation fighter literally up in the air.

Following President Donald Trump’s rash decision to withdraw the small U.S. military contingent from eastern Syria, Erdogan launched the Turkish army on a major offensive. In doing so, he showed no regard for the Kurdish forces that did so much in collaboration with the U.S. military to destroy ISIS at great cost—some ten thousand Kurdish fighters killed. At one point, Turkish artillery bracketed a position still occupied by U.S. troops. Trump has threatened various sanctions and repeatedly expressed his readiness to “devastate” the Turkish economy.

Defying Repression, Protesters Seek to Change Iraq’s Post-Saddam Political Order

Haley Bobseine 

“There was no order to kill, yet throughout the country protesters were shot in the head?” one activist in Baghdad exclaimed, incredulous. “How do you explain that?”

A bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Iraq has killed more than 275 demonstrators and wounded 11,000 people in recent weeks, and the death toll keeps rising. In the face of the government’s ruthlessness, the continued determination of protesters represents a turning point in Iraq’s post-2003 political order. Diverse segments of the Iraqi population—including elementary and middle-school students, oil workers in Iraq’s southern provinces and trade unions—have mobilized to join the young, mostly Shiite protesters demanding widespread reforms and a new government. Protesters want to undo the entire political system set up by U.S.-backed authorities after the fall of Saddam Hussein, which distributes power along sectarian lines and features restrictive electoral laws that hinder independent candidates, giving the ruling elite little incentive to reform. ...

Peace deal announced between Yemeni government, separatists

Yemen's internationally recognised government and UAE-backed separatists have signed a power-sharing deal to halt infighting.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the agreement between the Yemeni government and southern separatists to end a power struggle in the war-torn country's south, Saudi state TV reported on Tuesday.

Crown Prince Mohammed described the "Riyadh Agreement" as a crucial step towards a political solution to end Yemen's bloody four-year war.

"This agreement will open a new period of stability in Yemen. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with you," the Saudi crown prince said at a signing ceremony in Riyadh aired on state television.

"It's a joyful day in Saudi as the two sides come together."

The agreement will result in a government reshuffle to include the separatists with equal representation, and their armed forces will be placed under government control. 

Iran May Up Its Aggression as the U.S. Expands Sanctions

Despite the United States trying to maintain some level of commitment to allow for humanitarian trade with Iran, its broadening scope of sanctions has largely closed the window through which Tehran could easily import food and medicine.
Recent U.S. sanctions on Iran's central bank and a money laundering designation under the USA Patriot Act risk further complicating any future negotiations that might arise between the two countries. 

Iran is likely to continue its defiant response to widening U.S. sanctions, and the next six weeks offer Iran several possible opportunities for conducting attacks against Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the Middle East.Although Iran has not been clearly behind or involved in a major attack on Persian Gulf oil and gas infrastructure (or on a non-oil target) since the Sept. 14 drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais oil production facilities, the risk of further escalation remains as the United States maintains its "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran and the status quo continues. In fact, there will be ample opportunity over the next six weeks for matters to get worse, starting with Iran's expected announcement on Nov. 7 that it is taking additional steps away from its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

The Big Picture

Yemen’s Government Signs Peace Deal With Southern Rebels

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Yemen’s Saudi-backed government signed an agreement with southern separatists on Tuesday to end a power struggle in southern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, hailed the agreement as a step toward a wider political solution to end the multifaceted conflict.

The standoff had opened a new front in the four-year war and fractured a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling the Houthi movement in northern Yemen. The Iran-backed Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sana, in late 2014.

Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Yemen told reporters that the agreement would allow the separatists and other southerners to join a new Yemeni cabinet and would place southern armed forces under the control of the Yemeni government.

“This agreement will open, God willing, broader talks between Yemeni parties to reach a political solution and end the war,” Prince Mohammed said in a televised signing ceremony in Riyadh.

Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest

By Jon Lee Anderson

Belém, a member of the Kayapo people, confers with Chicão, a miner whom his tribe allows to work on indigenous land. A new wave of prospectors, encouraged by Brazil’s President, threatens to upend a vital ecological balance in the rain forest.Photograph by Mauricio Lima for The New Yorker

One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was a designated bird hunter.

Far from his home village of Turedjam, Belém ran across a group of white outsiders. They were garimpeiros, gold prospectors, who were working inside the Kayapo reserve—a twenty-six-million-acre Amazonian wilderness, demarcated for indigenous people. Gold mining is illegal there, but the prospectors were accompanied by a Kayapo man, so Belém assumed that some arrangement had been made. About nine thousand Kayapo lived in the forest, split into several groups; each had its own chief, and the chiefs tended to do as they pleased.

IMF Warns Europe to Make Emergency Plan for Economic Slump

By Nikos Chrysoloras and Birgit Jennen

Germany stuck to its stance that Europe’s economic engine will pull through its current trough without a spending jolt, countering increasingly dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund.

Europe needs to come up with emergency plans, since monetary policy has all but exhausted its arsenal and risks spread, the fund warned.

“Given elevated downside risks, contingency plans should be at the ready for implementation,” the IMF said in its Regional Economic Outlook for Europe. “A synchronized fiscal response” may be necessary, the fund said in the report, highlighting the dangers from trade protectionism, a chaotic Brexit and geopolitics.

The stark warning comes after the latest data showed that the euro-area economy is proving more resilient than anticipated, driven by robust expansion in countries such as France. Still, Germany probably went into a technical recession during the last quarter, and the labor market in the continent’s biggest economy started to deteriorate.

Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea


The world’s nations, especially the world’s richest nations, are missing an enormous chance to do well while doing good. The name of this massive missed opportunity—and the name of my book on the topic—is “open borders.”

Critics of immigration often hyperbolically accuse their opponents of favoring open borders—a world where all nationalities are free to live and work in any nation they like. For most, that’s an unfair label: They want more visas for high-skilled workers, family reunification, or refugees—not the end of immigration restrictions. In my case, however, this accusation is no overstatement. I think that free trade in labor is a massive missed opportunity. Open borders are not only just but the most promising shortcut to global prosperity.

To see the massive missed opportunity of which I speak, consider the migration of a low-skilled Haitian from Port-au-Prince to Miami. In Haiti, he would earn about $1,000 per year. In Miami, he could easily earn $25,000 per year. How is such upward mobility possible? Simply put: Human beings are much more productive in Florida than in Haiti—thanks to better government policies, better management, better technology, and much more. The main reason Haitians suffer in poverty is not because they are from Haiti but because they are in Haiti. If you were stuck in Haiti, you, too, would probably be destitute.

The Two Things Every Senior Pentagon Leader Is Worried About

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Talk to any senior Pentagon official these days and they’ll raise two big issues. Not Iran, not the border wall, not impeachment — not even the chaotic Syria withdrawal and the still-unclear oil-guarding mission are of such universal concern. 

The first is the fact that defense spending has peaked. This has been advertised for years, and the moment has arrived. But leaders’ concern is exacerbated by the potential for a government-wide spending freeze, possibly even through next year’s presidential election. The Pentagon is so worried about a long-term continuing resolution that when Defense Secretary Mark Esper went to Capitol Hill on Oct. 30 to brief lawmakers behind closed doors on the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raid, several DoD senior officials told me, he spent much of his time pleading for a 2020 appropriations bill.

Many members of Congress already understand how continuing resolutions undermine military readiness and waste vast amounts of money. Yet they lack insights, based on real-world evidence and Pentagon data, about the many benefits that funding the defense budget on time, as happened last year, provides to taxpayers and the military. If the Pentagon really wants to get its appropriations bill past the border wall impasse and impeachment overhang, lawmakers need to see compelling new information from the Defense Department that shows how doing their job well helps everyone and saves money. 

An Era of Unparalleled Espionage Risk Is Upon Us

Scott Stewart
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the creation of a new initiative to crack down on Chinese intelligence officials stealing intellectual property from U.S. corporations through hacking and espionage during a press conference at the Justice Department on Nov. 1, 2018.

China and Russia have become increasingly aggressive in their industrial espionage efforts, though the proliferation of espionage tools ensures they are far from the only threat actors.
Technology has also made it easier to hack into corporate systems remotely and to download massive quantities of data from inside an organization.

Combined with the spread of post-truth attitudes in the workplace, these factors create an environment rife with corporate espionage risk. 

Today, corporate espionage actors are busier and more successful than ever thanks to an alarming confluence of factors. China's and Russia's escalating great power competition with the United States, for one, is pushing them to more boldly and brazenly obtain Western companies' secrets. But the simultaneous proliferation of espionage tools, mobile devices, digital data and postmodernist thought has also made it so that even a low-level employee can now feasibly have both the means and motive to find and steal massive quantities of information. All of these threats are formidable in their own right, and thus worthy of attention. But it's equally crucial to understand how they all tie together to fully capture the increasingly dire and incredibly multifaceted espionage risk facing today's businesses and organizations.

Electronic Warfare: Better, But Still Not Good Enough


Army 8×8 Stryker (left) and Humvees (right), all mounting variants of the hastily fielded Saber Fury electronic warfare system — note the veritable forest of antennas.

AOC: Pentagon policymakers — prodded by Congress — are taking electronic warfare seriously again. But reforms at the top will take years to trickle down to tangible improvements for the troops.

“I see a lot of good work being done in OSD, Joint Staff, and the services, but I would say it’s early,” Rep. Don Bacon told me and another reporter on the sidelines of the annual Association of Old Crows electronic warfare conference. “I think we turned the corner, but we’re still on first base…. We’ve got a long ways to go.

Internet of military things: Leading technology trends revealed

The Internet of Things (IoT) in the defence industry, also known as the Internet of Military Things (IoMT) or Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT), is in its early stages.

GlobalData forecasts that leading companies in C4ISR, cybersecurity, autonomy, and other related fields, such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Thales, BAE Systems, L3 Harris Technologies, Leonardo DRS, and Airbus, will be part of the IoMT revolution.

Below are some of the key technology trends impacting the IoMT theme over the next 12 to 24 months, as identified by GlobalData.

AI and analytics

AI is a key element for the optimal use of IoMT, as it allows for more efficient analysis of the vast amounts of data that flow at a high rate from an increasingly large number of edge devices.

Your Data Is Shared and Sold…What’s Being Done About It?

Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the most sweeping state data privacy regulations in the country. The law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, regulates how data is collected, managed, shared and sold by companies and entities doing business with or compiling information about California residents. Some observers contend that because no business would want to exclude selling to Californians, the CCPA is de facto a national law on data privacy, absent an overarching federal regulation protecting consumer information.

“The new privacy law is a big win for data privacy,” says Joseph Turow, a privacy scholar and professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “Though it could be even stronger, the California law is stronger than anything that exists at the federal level.” Among other stipulations, the CCPA requires businesses to inform consumers regarding the types of personal data they’ll collect at the time they collect it and also how the information will be used. Consumers have the right to ask firms to disclose with whom they share the data and also opt out of their data being sold.

Why Audits Are the Way Forward for AI Governance

When organizations use algorithms to make decisions, biases built into the underlying data create not just challenges but also engender enormous risk. What should companies do to manage such risks? The way forward is to conduct artificial intelligence (AI) audits, according to this opinion piece by Kartik Hosanagar, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions who studies technology and the digital economy. This column is based on ideas from his book, A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence.

Much has been written about challenges associated with AI-based decisions. Some documented failures include gender and race biases in recruiting and credit approval software; chatbots that turned racist and driverless cars that fail to recognize stop signs due to adversarial attacks; inaccuracies in predictive models for public health surveillance; and diminished trust because of the difficulty we have interpreting certain machine learning models.

While the value of machine intelligence is obvious, it is now becoming clear that machine decisions also represent a new kind of risk for companies. In addition to the social risks of bias and financial risks of models that confuse correlation with causation, companies have to also account for IT security risk, reputational risk, litigation risk, and even regulatory risk that might arise because of AI-based decisions. Just as we saw with information security, it is a matter of time before boards and CEOs will be held accountable for failures of machine decisions. But what is the C-suite supposed to do? Halting the rollout of AI is not an option.

US Reliance on China Is a ‘Hard Problem’ for AI Efforts, Commission Says


But despite concerns, Eric Schmidt and Bob Work warn that decoupling from China 'will hurt the United States.'

The importance of artificial intelligence to national security is a rare area of consensus between America’s political right and left, and between Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley. But disagreement is emerging around the issue of tech talent and the large number of Chinese students studying in the United States and getting jobs in the tech industry. 

That finding and more were unveiled Monday by former Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former Defense Deputy Secretary Bob Work in a new report for Congress. Since March, their National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has been looking at how the U.S. can retain an edge over China and other AI-seeking rivals. 

The good news out of the report is that policy-makers and defense leaders are addressing the bad news, which is that the United States’s position of tech leadership in AI is dissolving rapidly, said Work and Schmidt. The government still isn’t spending enough on AI research and development, despite some recent increases, and there is too much red tape around the Defense Department, they tell lawmakers. The Defense Department currently has about 600 artificial intelligence projects and is working to unite them under the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The report applauds many of the military’s small, pathfinding projects but says the department has yet to scale them up successfully. In other words, Schmidt and Work’s key concerns are ones with which most Defense Department leaders and politicians would agree. 

Why design will make or break the 5G revolution

By Mike Murphy

We are on the cusp of a communication revolution that—depending on who you ask—should take the world by storm in the next few years. Telecom companies and hardware manufacturers have been hard at work developing and rolling out the fifth generation of mobile communications standards, referred to simply as 5G.

Some countries, like South Korea, have already seen a widespread rollout of new 5G networks, while others, like the US and UK, expect to have their networks up in many densely populated areas by the end of 2019. Handset manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung have also launched their first 5G-compatible smartphones. These devices are capable of transferring data at speeds up to 20 times as fast as the fastest 4G speeds, theoretically reaching up to 20 Gigabits per second.

That means you’d be able to download the contents of an entire 160-Gigabyte iPod (if you still have one, for some reason) in about one minute.

This is 5G on the brand new Samsung Galaxy S10 5G in front of my hotel. It's crazy the difference a month makes. #FirstToRealTime

But in reality, this is just the beginning; 5G could reinvent the way that we communicate and interact with the world, much like the smartphone and 4G did before it.

Army Publishes 16-Year Modernization Plan to Outpace China With New Battle Concept


As the U.S. Army hunkered down for the war on terror, phrases such as “counter-insurgency” and “IEDs” became familiar to most Americans, along with the “shock and awe” introduced during the earlier Gulf War.

But now, if Army modernizers have read the runes right, two new phrases are set to dominate the future of U.S. warfare: “multi-domain operations” and “great power competition.”

Those ideas lie at the heart of the 16-year Army Modernization Strategy recently published by the newly minted Army Futures Command.

As the U.S. Army mastered the art of counter-insurgency on the dusty plains of Helmand Province and the streets of Baghdad’s Green Zone, and the world entered the age of the iPhone, China and Russia were working on ambitious strategies that harnessed the latest technology from the ground up.

US navy prepares allies to 'protect navigation' in Gulf

Mohamad Ali Harissi,

On board the RFA Cardigan Bay in the Gulf (AFP) - The United States is training Gulf allies to "protect navigation" in the region's troubled waterways, as it seeks to build an alliance to contain Iran.

Washington's three-week International Maritime Exercise (IMX), which started on October 21, came after a number of commercial vessels were attacked in the Gulf from May, ratcheting up regional tensions.

Washington and other Western powers blamed the incidents on Iran, which has denied any involvement.

On Tuesday, the US invited international media to see part of the IMX, the second-largest maritime exercise of its kind.

The manoeuvres involve 5,000 personnel, 40 vessels and 17 aircrafts from 50 countries deployed to the strategic waterway that separates Iran from the pro-US Arab Gulf monarchies.

Flock 93 is Russia’s dream of a 100-strong drone swarm for war

By: Kelsey D. Atherton

At a security exposition in Moscow in late October, researchers from Russia’s oldest Air Force academy presented a vision of the future of war: a swarm of drones, more than 100 strong, each carrying a small explosive payload, designed to destroy convoys of vehicles.

The display is a called shot.

While a far cry from reality today, the technology stands as a significant statement of intent. Projections of future capability matter because they shape the development of weapons and tools in the present. That Russia sees armed drones swarms as a future part of its battle plans could shape how nations develop counter drone tools, even if the plans never materialize.

Dubbed Flock-93, the swarm concept on display at Moscow’s Interpolitex-2019 security exhibition, is being developed by the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy, along with Autonomous Aerospace Systems - GeoService, based in Krasnoyarsk, and Group Kronstadt, based in St. Petersburg. Kronstadt has worked on Russia’s Orion medium altitude long endurance military drone. The Zhukovsky academy built, and then iterated upon, the internet-famous owl-shaped drone.