4 December 2019

Neil Basu, UK top cop who killed London Bridge attack suspect, was a victim of racism too


New Delhi: Anil Kanti “Neil” Basu, the top British counter-terror cop, who has risen to international limelight once again after the London Bridge incident in which he and his team nabbed and shot dead the British terror convict Usman Khan Friday, has ties to India.

The assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard or the Yard, Basu’s roots can be traced back to Calcutta, now Kolkata, from where his father – Pankaj Kumar Basu – hailed. His father relocated to the UK in 1961 and was married to his mother, a nurse in Wales.

Basu’s father was a surgeon with the UK police for 40 years. Thus, taking up policing as his career came naturally to him although his father wanted him to be a banker or lawyer.

Basu’s first job was with Barclays Bank, which he took up immediately after graduating from Nottingham University with a major in Economics. But he eventually joined the Metropolitan Police at the age of 24 and was quickly promoted to being a sergeant in Brixton area.

HTLS 2019: The China-Pak nexus is a threat. India is countering it well | Opinion

Jayadev Ranade
Source Link

The government’s move has been timely, and comes just before the China-Pakistan nexus begins to more directly threaten Kashmir. India has now begun to mainstream Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country, further consolidating its sovereignty(Bloomberg)

There is a churn in international politics. In Asia, this decade has witnessed the rise of countries such as India and Vietnam. Japan is seeking to regain its lost influence in the region. But the most dynamic of all these nations is China, which poses a challenge to the existing world order and the primacy of the United States (US).

China’s President Xi Jinping declared as much at the 19th Party Congress in 2017, when he advocated a concept of “community of common destiny of shared values”. In this backdrop, countries are exploring the possibility of new relationships, while assessing the impact of potential changes on their societies, security and values. The US and western nations are apprehensive of China’s challenge. So are China’s neighbours.

Two yrs before 1971 war, RAW’s RN Kao told Indira Gandhi to be ready for Pakistan partition


Despite a domestic national election at home, Delhi was fully cognizant of the dramatic internal crisis in Pakistan’s body politic. There is also evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients of an interventionist strategy might have already been in place before events in East Pakistan exploded. Internal communications reveal two competing images. One image was represented by R.N. Kao, Chief of R&AW and Indira Gandhi’s trusted confidante, who perceived the crisis in more ominous terms and advocated an advantageous realpolitik to exploit Pakistan’s internal fissures. A second image was represented by sections in the MEA, who perceived the crisis in more benign terms and advocated a non-interventionist posture. Interestingly, as early as 1969, Kao had been arguing that East Pakistan was poised for deeper turmoil and possible secession and that India ‘should be prepared for it’. And his perceptions got stronger as the crisis came closer. In an April 1969 intelligence cable, he had foreseen an impending crisis across the border:

The authorities would have to resort to large-scale use of the Army and other paramilitary forces in East Pakistan to curb a movement, which has already gained considerable strength. The use of force is likely, in turn, to lead to a situation where the people of East Pakistan, supported by elements of the East Bengal Rifles (who are known to be sympathetic towards the secessionist movement as evidenced from the recent East Pakistan Conspiracy Case), may rise in revolt against the Central Authority and even declare their independence … although this possibility may not be immediate at present, it would be desirable that the Government of India should think about the policy it should adopt in such an eventuality and keep its options open.

What Shapes India’s View on the Quad?

By Ameya Pratap Singh

Scholars, analysts, and commentators on Indian strategic thought have devoted significant attention to the study of India’s “strategic autonomy” and its estranged relationship with alliances or formalized military arrangements. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – which is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia – is widely considered the latest casualty of New Delhi’s reservations on the matter. However, contrary to the frustrations of observers in Washington, historically generated ideas and institutional norms that have illustrated Indian thinking are not vestiges of the past; instead they continue to hold a high degree of strategic value. 

From Washington’s perspective, the limited uptake for the Quad in the Indo-Pacific is a puzzling feature. The alliance ostensibly has all the key ingredients necessary to underwrite and strengthen multilateral military and strategic cooperation. First, à la Stephan Walt, the threat of China’s hegemonic regional aspirations, amplifying offensive military capabilities and aggregate power, as well as its geographical contiguity to India, Japan, and Australia should typically elicit strong balancing behavior. Also, the pressing demand to prevent Chinese transgressions of established norms surrounding maritime security and “freedom of movement” in the Indo-Pacific ought to present a serendipitous confluence of interests between these regional powers and the United States. As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated during a policy address in Washington, D.C., “[the Quad] will prove very important in the efforts ahead, ensuring that China retains only its proper place in the world.” 

India, China to hold 70 celebratory events to mark 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties

I. Transgressions, Celebrations and Trade

It’s been a relatively quiet week when it comes to the Sino-Indian news cycle. The Indian Ministry of Defence did share data about transgressions along the LAC in Parliament. There were a total of 1025 transgressions by the PLA between 2016-2018. The breakdown for the three years is 273, 426 and 326. Much of this is down to differing perceptions about the LAC. One wonders how informal summitry will help delineate claim lines to reduce these.

But, until that happens, there’s at least clarity that India and China will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year with 70 celebratory activities, including cultural, religious and trade promotion events besides military exchanges. The Indian embassy in Beijing put out a list of the 70 activities. There’s a whole bunch there, ranging from drug regulation talks, media engagement, trade and investment talks, business delegations, film events and so on. Not all civilisational, cultural and historical bits are uncontroversial. For instance, both sides are reportedly sparing over the legacy of Sowa-Rigpa, which is a traditional Tibetan system of medicine practised in India’s Himalayan belt. India has apparently approached UNESCO seeking enlisting of Sowa Rigpa as its intangible cultural heritage. China has raised objection to it. Here’s how Hu Zhiyong, from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, responded to the controversy in Global Times: “India set the Tibetan medicine institute in Ladakh on purpose, so that India could assimilate the region in order to merge Ladakh into India. India has been hyping its work on Tibetan medicine” as it wants to transfer its people’s attention away from economic decline by worsening China-India relations.

Anyway, some of the activities in the list of 70 that caught my attention are: 

Jagadish Chandra Bose: Extraordinary man of science

Born in Mymensingh, now in Bangladesh on November 30, 1858 to Bhagawan Chandra Bose, an assistant commissioner in the government and member of the Brahmo Samaj. Raised in accordance with Indian traditions, his father wanted him to learn Bengali before he learnt English. He attended a vernacular school, where his classmates belonged to diverse communities and religions. He enrolled at St Xavier’s School in Calcutta where Jesuit priest Father Eugene Lafont helped him develop interest in natural sciences. He graduated in physics from Calcutta University.


Bose wanted to take the Civil Services examination in England but changed his mind and pursued natural science at Cambridge. There, he was taught by noted teachers Francis Darwin, James Dewar and Michael Foster. During his stay in England, he also befriended Prafulla Chandra Ray, who later attained fame as a chemist. After graduating in science, he returned to India and was appointed professor of physical science at Presidency College, Calcutta. He faced racism in his job, with his salary being much lower than that of British counterparts. Bose registered his protest by teaching without taking any salary for three years. Later, the college made his appointment permanent and paid his salary arrears. In 1917, he set up the Bose Institute in Calcutta where scientists conducted research on plants.


The China Cables: Disrupting Beijing's Xinjiang narrative

On this episode of The Listening Post: An unprecedented leak of Chinese documents reveals the extent of the camps in Xinjiang. Plus, the spyware that is hacking journalists around the world. The China Cables and the disruption of Beijing's Xinjiang narrativem. It is one of the biggest human rights stories on the planet: China - specifically the province of Xinjiang - and the estimated one million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities currently held in massive internment camps there.

Previously, most of what the world knew about Xinjiang came through satellite imagery, carefully controlled official tours of the camps plus the accounts of some of those imprisoned there.

Now, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the New York Times say they have troves of classified documents to work with - reportedly leaked from within China's Communist Party.

The China Challenge Continues to Mount

by Wayne Pajunen
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While aware that China suppresses freedom of expression within its borders and territories, we are rarely privy to how Beijing’s propaganda keeps its citizenry acquiescent. Adopting Orwell’s 1984’s Newspeak the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) state-run media projects an image of a superior society with even greater safety and freedoms than in the west.

Beijing’s claims of greater safety are boosted when international headlines tell of multiple mass shootings of children in the USA.

The reality though is just as gruesome within its borders; Attack at School in China Leaves at Least 8 Children Dead.

For many reasons, American atrocities lead headlines even when the likes of the New York Times recently offered counterbalance: “Since 2018, there have been attacks on schools in Shaanxi Province, Hunan Province and in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing. But the authorities often play down news coverage of such violence out of concern for the potential to threaten social stability.”

Donald Trump's Greatest National Security Threat: A China-Russia Alliance

by Paul Dibb
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We are in an era when the risks of major-power conflict are growing. The most likely contenders are commonly seen to be China, the rising power, and the US, the formerly dominant power that’s now in relative decline. The other worrying contingency is conflict between Russia and US-led NATO.

But what about the third possibility: the prospect of China and Russia collaborating to challenge American power? Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that the most dangerous scenario for America would be a grand coalition of China and Russia united not by ideology, but by complementary grievances.

My new ASPI special report, released today, examines Russian and Chinese concepts of great-power war in the 21st century, their views of the West and its military capabilities, and the risks they might take to regain what they see as their lost territories in places such as Taiwan and Ukraine. It also looks at how America might react, the implications of all this for the West, including Australia, and what sort of armed conflict might be involved.

How Much Do the Houthis Threaten Red Sea Shipping?

Despite the Houthis' recent hijacking of some vessels near Yemen, the rebel group is unlikely to significantly disrupt most major commercial traffic, like bulk carriers and tankers, through the Red Sea. Nevertheless, smaller vessels like fishing ships or tugboats that stray into waters near Yemen's coast could be at risk of seizure. The lessons the international community learned in countering the threat of Somali piracy will provide an easy template for foreign naval forces to respond to any similar threat from Yemen.

Compared with past hijackings in the wider Red Sea region, the incident was comparatively small: On Nov. 17, Houthi fighters seized Saudi and South Korean-flagged tugboats, as well as a South Korean drilling rig in tow, near the island of Uqban. Following diplomatic efforts by Riyadh and Seoul, the Houthis released the vessels and their crews on Nov. 20, noting an internal investigation had revealed that the ships entered Yemeni waters only due to "bad weather." Indeed, apart from the seizure highlighting the occasional impact that Yemen's conflict can have on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the incident does not presage a new age of piracy at the mouth of the Red Sea. While smaller vessels that stray too close to the Houthi-controlled coastline could find themselves in trouble, the rebels' lack of ability — or even intent — to target larger commercial traffic in the center of the Red Sea suggests it will be business as usual for global shipping in the area.

The Big Picture

Exposed: China’s Operating Manuals For Mass Internment And Arrest By Algorithm

A new leak of highly classified Chinese government documents has uncovered the operations manual for running the mass detention camps in Xinjiang and exposed the mechanics of the region’s Orwellian system of mass surveillance and “predictive policing.”

The China Cables, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, include a classified list of guidelines, personally approved by the region’s top security chief, that effectively serves as a manual for operating the camps now holding hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs and other minorities. The leak also features previously undisclosed intelligence briefings that reveal, in the government’s own words, how Chinese police are guided by a massive data collection and analysis system that uses artificial intelligence to select entire categories of Xinjiang residents for detention.

The manual, called a “telegram,” instructs camp personnel on such matters as how to prevent escapes, how to maintain total secrecy about the camps’ existence, methods of forced indoctrination, how to control disease outbreaks, and when to let detainees see relatives or even use the toilet. The document, dating to 2017, lays bare a behavior-modification “points” system to mete out punishments and rewards to inmates.

How to respond to ‘intelligent’ PLA IN PERSPECTIVE

Manoj Kewalramani,

Beijing’s attempts to harness AI for military advancement aren’t new, but it has acquired a more purposeful drive to leverage AI under Xi Jinping’s leadership, aided by China’s expanding technology and innovation base. Photo/Reuters Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies over the next decade will have a profound impact on the nature of warfare. Increasing use of precision weapons, training simulations and unmanned vehicles are merely the tip of the iceberg. AI technologies, going forward, will not only have a direct battlefield impact in terms of weapons and equipment but will also impact planning, logistics and decision-making, requiring new ethical and doctrinal thinking. From an Indian perspective, China’s strategic focus on leveraging AI has serious national security implications. 

Beijing’s attempts to harness AI for military advancement aren’t new, but it has acquired a more purposeful drive to leverage AI under Xi Jinping’s leadership, aided by China’s expanding technology and innovation base. Xi’s objective is to develop the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into a world-class force by mid-century. The path to this is through mechanisation, informatization and eventually ‘intelligentization’. Think of this as first a shi from manpower to firepower, followed by building integrated networks and enhanced jointness, and finally, leveraging data and technology to enhance the autonomy of weapons systems and speed and eiciency of decision-making. Of course, this is not necessarily a linear process. 

Netanyahu's Iran Strategy Is a Total Failure

by Uri Bar-Joseph Benny Miller
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Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in March 2009 radically changed Israel’s foreign policy strategy. Since the establishment of the state in 1948, the country focused on the conflict with its Arab neighbors. From the early 1990s onwards, including during Netanyahu’s first term in office (1996–1999), it centered on the conflict with the Palestinians. But in the course of the last decade, the aim of solving the conflict with the Palestinians has been replaced with a concentrated effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear project, which Netanyahu defined as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s predecessors were familiar with the Iranian nuclear threat. Yitzhak Rabin’s decision to engage in the Oslo process in the early 1990s was motivated in part by the need to end the conflict with the Palestinians before Iran becomes nuclear. Under Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert (2001–2009) Israel conducted, in cooperation with the United States and other states, an intense secret war against the project, which involved, among other things, the assassination of senior Iranian nuclear scientists in Teheran and the use of Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm that damaged Iran’s nuclear facilities and delayed the project. Simultaneously, Israel conducted a secret campaign to impose international sanctions on Iran. In this context, Sharon and Olmert were ready to make concessions in the Palestinian issue in order to gain support for Israel’s efforts on the Iranian front.

Iran's Coming Military Revolution

by Michael Rubin
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Recent Iranian ship interceptions highlight Iran’s military challenge and continue to drive a regional arms race. Whereas Gulf Cooperation Council states spend lavishly on high-end, off-the-shelf, U.S.-built platforms, decades of sanctions and post-revolutionary strategic decisions to be militarily self-sufficient has led Islamic Republic to focus more on its own indigenous industries. Direct comparisons of defense spending between Arab states and Iran is difficult. While a superficial reading of public statistics shows Saudi and Emirati spending far outstrips Iran’s as a proportion of GDP, it would be a mistake to take public Iranian statistics at face value. Still, post-revolutionary Iran has long embraced asymmetric strategies such as terrorism or perhaps nuclear technologies to counter enemies, both real or imagined.

This should not surprise. Historically, many Middle Eastern countries have approached technology with suspicion, but Iran has been the exception. In the early twentieth century, for example, Saudi clerics resisted first the introduction of the telegraph and then radio. Into the 1970s, some Saudi clerics complained that television was a plot dreamed up in the West to separate Muslim children from God (some savvy clerics subsequently embraced the medium to spread their radical Wahabi perspectives). The Iranian Shah Nasir al-Din (r. 1848-1896) sponsored his own telegraph line in Tehran just over a decade after Samuel Morse laid America’s first long distance line. Both the Iranian government and public readily embraced almost every new generational technology, despite Iran’s often repressive political atmosphere. (The Iranian historian Hussein Ardakani, unfortunately writing only in Persian, chronicled this embrace in his seminal History of the Institutions of a New Civilization in Iran).

Arab Spring 2.0? Making Sense of the Protests Sweeping the Region

Sarah J. Feuer, Carmit Valensi
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The ongoing protests across Iraq and Lebanon have invited references to a second Arab Spring, nearly nine years after a young Tunisian man set himself on fire and triggered a region-wide upheaval. The unrest comes on the heels of protests in Egypt and Jordan earlier this fall, a mass mobilization in Sudan this year, and a protest movement in Algeria that has endured since February. Recently, mass demonstrations have also broken out across Iran, suggesting the current wave may not remain confined to the Arab Middle East. Each of these episodes has been triggered by local, discrete events. But collectively, they reflect a broader struggle underway in the region on two fronts: within each country, between the public and the political leadership over the basic contours of the social contract underpinning these societies; and between various camps wishing to see a regional order that will reflect their preferences on such core issues as Iran’s presence across the Middle East, the integrity of territorial states, relations with the West, sectarianism, and democracy. It remains too soon to tell where the current unrest is headed, but as in 2011, both the regimes’ responses, and the degree to which the protesters manage to translate their demands into actionable policies, will likely prove decisive.With the exception of Jordan’s teachers’ strike in September, which concerned the relatively circumscribed matter of low salaries, the protests rocking the Middle East in recent months have set their sights far beyond a single issue or piece of legislation. These protests have an “anti-system” quality to them, demanding not simply the dismissal of a ruling elite but the wholesale dismantlement of the governing structures and economic systems that have nurtured that elite. Even in instances where the proximate trigger of the protests was a single policy move – for example, the decision of Algeria’s Bouteflika to run for re-election in February, or the dismissal of Iraq’s popular counter-terrorism chief in September, or a tax on WhatsApp calls in Lebanon in October, or the hike in gasoline prices in Iran – the initial provocation quickly receded in importance (and in some cases was reversed anyway) as the protests morphed into larger movements demanding systemic change.

Why Donald Trump Should Fear Iran's Deadly Missile Arsenal

by Saheb Sadeghi Zakiyeh Yazdanshenas
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The debate about the development of Iranian missile capabilities started the very day after the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While the United States and the European parties argued that the resolution limited any activity in relation to the development of Iranian ballistic missiles, Iran would invoke Paragraph 3 of the annex B of the resolution, arguing that the restrictions were only on ballistic missiles that were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This disagreement on interpreting the provisions of the resolution led U.S. President Donald Trump to call the JCPOA a “bad deal” before even entering the While House, and was purportedly one of the reasons why he finally withdrew from it in May 2018. Meanwhile, Iran’s response to the reimposition of sanctions within the framework of the U.S. “maximum pressure campaign” has been that Tehran will not negotiate over its missile capabilities.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is approaching its forty-first anniversary while seeing the United States as its archfoe over all the four past decades. Ideological differences; bitter experiences such as the 1953 Iranian coup d'état led by the United States, which resulted in the overthrow of the first democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosadeq; and the later overthrown Shah’s dependence on the United States have all shaped the mentality of the Iranian policymakers and have persuaded Iran to act against U.S. policies in the Middle East. Forty years of hostile relations between the two countries, as well as the attempt of two most recent U.S. presidents to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran have brought the Iranian officials to the conclusion that the United States seeks to change the Iranian regime through either a real or a soft war or both.

Iran's Coming Military Revolution

by Michael Rubin
Source Link

Recent Iranian ship interceptions highlight Iran’s military challenge and continue to drive a regional arms race. Whereas Gulf Cooperation Council states spend lavishly on high-end, off-the-shelf, U.S.-built platforms, decades of sanctions and post-revolutionary strategic decisions to be militarily self-sufficient has led Islamic Republic to focus more on its own indigenous industries. Direct comparisons of defense spending between Arab states and Iran is difficult. While a superficial reading of public statistics shows Saudi and Emirati spending far outstrips Iran’s as a proportion of GDP, it would be a mistake to take public Iranian statistics at face value. Still, post-revolutionary Iran has long embraced asymmetric strategies such as terrorism or perhaps nuclear technologies to counter enemies, both real or imagined.

This should not surprise. Historically, many Middle Eastern countries have approached technology with suspicion, but Iran has been the exception. In the early twentieth century, for example, Saudi clerics resisted first the introduction of the telegraph and then radio. Into the 1970s, some Saudi clerics complained that television was a plot dreamed up in the West to separate Muslim children from God (some savvy clerics subsequently embraced the medium to spread their radical Wahabi perspectives). The Iranian Shah Nasir al-Din (r. 1848-1896) sponsored his own telegraph line in Tehran just over a decade after Samuel Morse laid America’s first long distance line. Both the Iranian government and public readily embraced almost every new generational technology, despite Iran’s often repressive political atmosphere. (The Iranian historian Hussein Ardakani, unfortunately writing only in Persian, chronicled this embrace in his seminal History of the Institutions of a New Civilization in Iran).

What South Korea, Japan, and Germany Think of American Troop Demands

U.S. demands for huge payment increases from three of its major allies, South Korea, Japan and Germany, for basing military forces on their territory could cause significant shifts in the global U.S. military footprint. The centrality of the United States and its military to South Korea's and Japan's security strategies means Washington is in a strong position to extract more money. But the effort could push Germany further away from the United States.

Reports emerged this month that U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have demanded that South Korea pay $4.7 billion next year — or 400 percent more than what it currently pays — for continued U.S. military protection. Then a report emerged that in July, the United States had requested that Japan increase its own share of military cost-sharing fourfold to $8 billion after their bilateral Special Measures Agreement expires in March 2021. These reports came as the United States was already preparing to press its NATO allies in Europe, in particular Germany, to pay more for the presence of U.S. troops on the Continent.

New Oil Finds Could Mean a Tripling of Guyana’s GDP

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This year, ExxonMobil announced its 11th and 12th oil finds in the small South American country of Guyana. The estimates of recoverable crude in the country now stand at roughly 5 billion barrels. On a per capita basis, this would put Guyana among the top 10 oil producers in the world. Whether the people of Guyana see much benefit from the windfall could have much to say about the fate of the oil industry, which is facing an uncertain future during an ongoing energy transition.

The response to the discoveries in Guyana has varied. Amy Myers Jaffe, the director of the energy security and climate change program at the Council on Foreign Relations, captured the view of those concerned about the much-studied resource curse. “There is no way the explosion of money will be managed properly,” she said. Responsible stewardship is indeed hard to imagine. Guyana is a country of about 780,000, and it could produce the same number of barrels of oil per day. At a price of $50 per barrel, that means a total revenue of close to $15 billion per year within the next decade—a staggering sum that other nascent oil nations have struggled to absorb effectively.

Why Will Aung San Suu Kyi Personally Defend Myanmar Against Genocide Claims?

By Angshuman Choudhury

On November 20, Myanmar’s de facto head of state, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, announced that she would lead the defense of her country at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, where Myanmar stands accused by The Gambia of violating the Genocide Convention 1948.

The small West African country, which itself emerged out of a 23-year long autocratic regime in 2017, filed the case on November 11 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It has accused Myanmar of carrying out “genocidal violence” against the Rohingya community by means of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and destruction of Rohingya villages.

Suu Kyi’s decision to appear at The Hague startled many within and outside Myanmar. After all, the very thought of a Nobel peace prize winner defending charges of genocide at an international court is jarring. Back home, while her announcement was mostly well received by her loyal supporters, many expressed concerns about the Lady appearing in The Hague to defend the military’s actions. For those worried, there is a real possibility that the endeavor might fall back on her heavily, further damaging her already-dented international reputation.

Jeremy Corbyn Is Caught in Labour’s Immigration Wars

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The free movement of people within the European Union is arguably one of the most progressive pieces of legislation of recent decades. In a continent that was ravaged by war and locked down by totalitarianism for much of the 20th century, people of all social classes are now—in theory at least—free to travel, live, and work where they please.

That’s the theory at least. In many working-class parts of Britain, free movement is viewed—rightly or wrongly—as a one-way street. Visit towns like Stoke, Rugeley, or Boston and the experience of free movement for working-class residents is perceived as one of intense competition for poorly paying jobs with workers from poorer countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.

This split—between progressive opinion and working-class belief—has invariably found its way into the U.K. Labour Party. Back in September of this year, delegates at Labour’s annual conference voted to support a position of extending free movement to non-EU countries and to allow EU citizens to vote in U.K. general elections.

Cow Aren't Killing the Planet: The Questionable Link Between Meat and Climate Change

by Frank M. Mitloehner
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As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

Setting the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases

Note to Trump: Government Spending on Research Impacts the Economy and American Jobs

by James Pethokoukis
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It’s not a natural impulse for politicians or activists to highlight trade-offs. Take cutting defense spending. Some Democratic presidential candidates envision a sizable reduction to the Pentagon’s budget if they’re elected. If that should happen, one possible program on the chopping block might be R&D investment. There is a lot of it, after all. A 2018 Congressional Research Service report found that in 2016 the United States spent $78.1 billion on defense R&D, “more than seven times as much on defense R&D than the rest of the OECD countries combined.”

And what do we get for all those tens of billions? That question is partially answered by a new working paper, “The Intellectual Spoils of War? Defense R&D, Productivity and International Spillovers” from Enrico Moretti, Claudia Steinwender, and John Van Reenen. Here’s what the researchers found (bold by me):

Who Are Turkey’s Proxy Fighters in Syria?

Elizabeth Tsurkov
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A small Turkish flag was standing on the desk of the offices of the Turkish-backed faction in a residential area of Şanlıurfa, in southern Turkey. The men in the room, most of them veteran fighters from eastern Syria, were expecting me and did their best to locate a Syrian revolutionary flag in time for our meeting in the summer of 2019. They could not find one. Everything about the meeting, its location, décor, and content, indicated to me that the men in the room were not the ones in charge. They hoped soon to launch an offensive on northeastern Syria, but had no idea when the real decision-makers, Turkish officials, would give them their marching orders.

The creation of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA), also known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), was the result of a strategic shift in Turkey’s position in Syria. In the early years of the civil war, Turkey aimed to remove Assad from power. Following Russia’s direct intervention in the war, in September 2015, the balance of power decisively shifted in favor of the Assad regime. Turkey therefore adjusted its ambitions to advance a narrower set of interests. At the top of Ankara’s priorities were the aim of preventing the entry of additional Syrian refugees and a desire to combat the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the leading component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella that also includes Arab and Syriac militias. The YPG is a Syrian-based offshoot of the armed movement inspired by the teachings of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan that has waged a bloody insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s. Because the SDF worked closely with the US military in the campaign against ISIS in Syria, Ankara watched with growing concern as the Kurdish-led militia gained control over large swaths of that country.

For DoD Transformation, a Holistic Approach Is Needed

By George Franz Scott Bachand

Decades of innovation — driven almost entirely by DoD and the Defense Industrial Base — have kept the United States at the forefront of modern military capability. Now, however, it is the commercial sector that is defining the leading edge of technology and innovation. In this information-driven era, the military's conventional models of creating and metabolizing innovation are no longer optimal.

Given the military's need to adopt the fast-paced, innovative, and entrepreneurial practices of the commercial sector to maintain its technological edge, success will depend upon new, more holistic approaches to technology adoption and industry relationships.

New waves of emerging commercial technologies have caused quick advancement within the defense sector. But the effectiveness of these technologies can vary. It is not enough to provide a new capability — the intended end-users must be able to easily leverage that capability, solving the end-users' problems and making their lives easier.

Importantly, they must not only deliver greater security, but they must improve resilience to ensure mission success.

Historians, Avoid The Mistakes We Economists Made!

by Philip Pilkington
A friend of mine recently drew my attention to something he thought would be of interest. Apparently something of a controversy has arisen regarding a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences that was discussed on Andrew Brown’s blog at The Guardian. Brown interpreted the study to suggest that war has been the key driving force behind human society. Some on the political left have disputed this as it has rather dire implications for any left-wing political project.

First it should be said that this is not a new idea. Nietzsche, for example, saw war as a constructive force. In his On the Genealogy of Morals he writes,

The beginnings of everything great on earth [are] soaked in blood thoroughly and for a long time.

Infographic Of The Day: Which Economies Are The Most Competitive?

This infographic visualizes 10 years of global competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum, and tracks how rankings have changed in this time.

New report finds costs of climate change impacts often underestimated

By Dana Nuccitelli

Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Climate economics researchers have often underestimated – sometimes badly underestimated – the costs of damages resulting from climate change. Those underestimates occur particularly in scenarios where Earth’s temperature warms beyond the Paris climate target of 1.5 to 2 degrees C (2.7 to 3.6 degrees F).

That’s the conclusion of a new report written by a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. It’s a conclusion consistent with the findings of numerous recent climate economics studies.

Once temperatures warm beyond those Paris targets, the risks of triggering unprecedented climate damages grow. However, because the rate and magnitude of climate change has entered uncharted territory in human history, the temperature thresholds and severity of future climate impacts remain highly uncertain, and thus difficult to capture in climate economics models. Put simply, it’s difficult to project the economic impacts resulting from circumstances which are themselves unprecedented.

The Nomos of Cyberspace

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In 1543 Copernicus first published his theory of a heliocentric universe, a theologically controversial idea that would play out in the early 1600s when the Catholic Church placed Galileo on trial for supporting such views. The Church, in 1616, banned books that supported a Copernican map of the solar system and only recently recanted its position in the Galileo matter.[1] Scientifically, the work of these two scholars cannot be overstated as the heliocentric model is fundamental to human understanding of the solar system, but it is the Church’s reaction to the Copernican map that shows the true impact of Copernican thinking. The Catholic Church at the time was trying to maintain dominance in Western Europe, and its claim to legitimacy and power was rooted in the space of Christendom. This sphere of Christ, oriented towards the central divine authority of the Pope, was experiencing growing pains as kings and princes made claims to similar authority. In the wake of the English Reformation and on the eve of Westphalia, the Copernican map literally changed Western human orientation within the geography of the universe.[2] The map presented by the Catholic Church was one that depended on the Church being at the center of the Universe making it the natural focal point for the heavenly gaze. The legitimating principle of divine right depended on the centralization of that right to a single point importance.[3] Copernican thinking destroyed “a world in which the spatial structure embodied a hierarchy of values” and replaced it with “a universe of indefinite proportions.”[4] This fragmented the map of Christendom by diminishing the importance of its chief spatial indicators: Rome was no longer the literal center of the Universe. Indeed, the human society was displaced to the periphery.

The Incredibly True Story of Fake Headlines

By: Chi Luu
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Fake news is back in the news again (thanks to Mark Zuckerberg). But did it ever really leave? For some people, legitimate news from traditional media has become unreliable, no longer to be trusted. Is this at all fair?

Keeping the news in a state of good health, in the age of social media, has become more urgent than ever. The way we talk about things, in debates over the defining issues of our time, ends up determining what we do about them. Fake news can be deliberately manipulated by those with vested interests to shape and frame and control public opinions, which result in the problematic actions (and inactions) on existential issues, such as climate change or human rights.

Many, like Zuckerberg, may not be motivated to see these little words on a page as a major problem. Cynics among us might point out that this is really nothing new, and newsflash, fake news is just a kind of propaganda, which has long lived on the dark side of the printed word. Zuckerberg’s strange reluctance to ban or fact-check certain paid political propaganda that employs the long, global reach of Facebook to intentionally broadcast lies to an unsuspecting public is yet another facet of how powerfully language in the information age can be weaponized by those with the means to do so.

How the inventor of the web plans to make it safe and accessible for everyone

Today, half the world is online. And while that access brings tremendous benefits, it also fosters some of society's worst behaviour.

South Africa tops the list of countries where the most abrasive digital encounters take place – but there are no geographic boundaries when it comes to incivility and deception.
Tim Berners-Lee wants the internet to be safer and more accessible for all.
Image: World Economic Forum

“While the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred and made all kinds of crimes easier to commit,” says Berners-Lee.

His solution? A Contract for the Web, a plan to make online activity safe and accessible for everyone. Berners-Lee compares the contract to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines dignity and freedom for all people.