3 May 2020

India has social schemes for poor in crises like Covid. But it needs a ‘who to pay’ database


In the current coronavirus crisis and the ensuing lockdown, most migrants in India find themselves suddenly jobless as factories close, supply chains shut down and services freeze. The Narendra Modi government has responded to the crisis by announcing several social protection schemes, including direct benefit transfers for certain sections of the population and free LPG refills, grains and pulses for the poor.

But large sections of the population, including urban informal workers, are ‘invisible’ to the state. There is also no single view of ‘who is getting what’ and ‘who should get what’ to enable an efficient entitlement-based approach to social protection.

The answer to the question of ‘who to pay’ thus lies in building a comprehensive and dynamic social registry.

Figuring out who to pay

Trump tells advisers U.S. should pull troops as Afghanistan COVID-19 outbreak looms

By Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has pushed his military and national security advisers in recent days to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan amid concerns about a major coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country, according to two current and one former senior U.S. officials.

Trump complains almost daily that U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan and are now vulnerable to the pandemic, the officials said. His renewed push to withdraw all of them has been spurred by the convergence of his concern that coronavirus poses a force protection issue for thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and his impatience with the halting progress of his peace deal with the Taliban, the officials said.

They said the president's military advisers have made the case to him that if the U.S. pulls troops out of Afghanistan because of the coronavirus, by that standard the Pentagon would also have to withdraw from places like Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, officials said.

Life After Ventilators Can Be Hell for Coronavirus Survivors

Michelle Fay Cortez and Olivia Carville
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Her fever hit 105 degrees. In her delirium, Diana Aguilar was sure the strangers hovering over her, in their masks and gowns, were angels before they morphed into menacing aliens. As a doctor prepared to slide a ventilator tube down her throat, all she remembers thinking was: “I cannot breathe. I have no air. I give up, I give up.”

Aguilar, in the throes of Covid-19, was starting her 10-day descent into ventilator limbo. The mechanical device to which her tube was attached is coveted for its ability to push life-saving oxygen deep into damaged lungs. Yet it also is feared and reviled for the damage it inflicts — and for the slim odds of survival it affords. Aguilar wasn’t aware of any of that, yet she sensed this could be the end. She whispered her goodbyes to her husband, son and daughter, none of whom were anywhere nearby, and then she prayed to God in her native Spanish.

“You’re going to be fine,” a voice reassured her. “Start counting now; one, two…”

The voice belonged to an anesthesiologist, the last she heard before drifting off. Diana was diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 18, the day she arrived in the emergency room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey. The virus had already been ravaging her body for weeks, infecting the tiny cells in her lungs that deliver oxygen to her blood.

China’s Digital Cultural Revolution

By Johanna M. Costigan and Xu Xin

In an environment of selective censorship, nationalist mobs are gaining traction and influence on the Chinese internet. 

Selective censorship permits aggressive activity such as trolling and cyberbullying — as long as it is pro-government and “patriotic” — while eliminating inoffensive posts that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deems politically inconvenient.

This practice empowers the most nationalist and conservative voices, making them disproportionately represented in Chinese digital discourse, in order to facilitate the CCP’s attempts to curate public opinion. It also brings to mind the “struggle culture” of the 1960s; the state encourages people to report and attack each other on the grounds that their views are anti-Party, and as a result, anti-China.

While this strategy has been in place to some extent since the creation of the Great Firewall, its reach seems to have been significantly extended in response to the coronavirus pandemic — and it is more than plausible that its expanded uses will outlive the virus. As one netizen noted in a WeChat article, “I miss the old days of the internet, when there were no bellicose trolls or cyber bullies.”

US Commerce Department Tightens China Export Controls on Military Use Concerns

By Ankit Panda

The United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced new rules on Tuesday that will tighten the export of certain sensitive technologies to end-users in China on fears that they might find their way into use by the Chinese armed forces.

The rules, which were published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, cover a range of goods that will require review by regulators before being approved for overseas export. In addition to China, the rules cover Russia and Venezuela. The latest update expands the licensing requirements for export to China to cover all “military end users,” the Commerce Department rule’s summary notes.

“Certain entities in China, Russia and Venezuela have sought to circumvent America’s export controls, and undermine American interests in general, and so we will remain vigilant to ensure US technology does not get into the wrong hands,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said on Monday.

Build a data-driven defense strategy to fight cybercrime

The coronavirus pandemic is being compared to war-like conditions by the World Health Organization. We know that bad decisions and poor data (or intelligence) during a war can have serious human and economic consequences. Compare Italy, Spain and the US to Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Even though the enemy is the same, some nations placed the disease on higher priority than others and the strategy they adopted defined their outcomes, and the results are before us.

Cybercrime is its own pandemic

The cybersecurity industry witnessed almost 10 billion malware attacks last year and is witnessing a staggering 667% increase in phishing attacks owing to Covid-19 this year.

In, fact, attacks surged in several healthcare organizations amid Covid-19 and even the WHO was not spared. Per a recent report, the coronavirus will cost the global economy an estimated $2 trillion. Cybercrime on the other hand (also borderless in nature) is estimated to cost the global economy $6 trillion by 2021, making it one of the biggest threats that mankind will ever witness.

Cybersecurity is plagued with inefficiencies

Yuen Yuen Ang on Corruption and Growth in China

By Shannon Tiezzi

“China is corrupt” – that simple, and often unquestioned, statement hides a deceptively complex web of assumptions. It’s easy to say a country is corrupt; far harder is defining that corruption, measuring it, and trying to understand the complicated relationship between corruption and economic growth. That’s the monumental project undertaken by Yuen Yuen Ang in her latest book, China’s Gilded Age: the Paradox of Economic Boom & Vast Corruption. Ang is a professor of political science and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow as well as the author of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap and China’s Gilded Age.

Her new book is especially timely, as the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on China’s political system even while calling into question its (and the world’s) continued economic growth. Below, The Diplomat interviews Ang about her research into corruption in China, its impact on the economy, and the connection to the country’s handling of the novel coronavirus.

Why has Xi Jinping spearheaded a high-profile anti-corruption drive since assuming China’s top post? Has Chinese governance markedly changed under this drive?

COVID-19 and Risk Analysis: Look Beyond the Black Swan Talk

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Predictably, the global coronavirus pandemic has generated debates not only on how states are responding to it in Asia and beyond, but whether it should have been predicted in the first place. Part of that discussion centers on whether or not COVID-19 is truly a “black swan event” – shorthand for an unexpected, low-probability, high-impact event. When narrowly framed, however, the COVID-19 black swan debate can detract from the more fundamental structural issues at play in terms of risk analysis and what it does and does not tell us about crises such as the pandemic.

How to assign probability and manage risk, and the opportunities and challenges inherent in this process, is an industry of its own that transcends several fields, including finance and politics. But a focus in recent years has been on unexpected, high-magnitude events stemming from so-called fat-tailed statistical distributions, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb termed “black swan” events in his bestselling 2007 book. The term has since been at times subsequently misunderstood and misused. Taleb recently conveyed his frustration that people were wrongly calling COVID-19 a black swan event, since, in his view, it was far from unpredictable (unlike previous events such as the September 11 attacks).

Taleb is certainly right that a COVID-19-like event was far from unpredictable relative to developments such as the September 11 attacks. Taleb’s 2007 book had contained a reference to a potential virus outbreak. And he was not alone either: prominent individuals ranging from Bill Gates to Anthony Fauci had been issuing warnings about some development of this type for years.

US Commerce Department Tightens China Export Controls on Military Use Concerns

By Ankit Panda

The United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced new rules on Tuesday that will tighten the export of certain sensitive technologies to end-users in China on fears that they might find their way into use by the Chinese armed forces.

The rules, which were published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, cover a range of goods that will require review by regulators before being approved for overseas export. In addition to China, the rules cover Russia and Venezuela. The latest update expands the licensing requirements for export to China to cover all “military end users,” the Commerce Department rule’s summary notes.

“Certain entities in China, Russia and Venezuela have sought to circumvent America’s export controls, and undermine American interests in general, and so we will remain vigilant to ensure US technology does not get into the wrong hands,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said on Monday.

The Commerce Department notes that the annual license applications for military end-user approval from Russia, China, and Venezuela are already very low. “BIS receives very few license applications for military end uses in China or for military end uses or end users in Russia or Venezuela (approximately two to three annually),” the rule listing notes.

How data science can ease the COVID-19 pandemic

Nigam H. Shah and Jacob Steinhardt
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Social distancing and stay-at-home orders in the United States have slowed the infection rate of SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. This has halted the immediate threat to the U.S. healthcare system, but consensus on a long-term plan or solution to the crisis remains unclear. As the reality settles in that there are no quick fixes and that therapies and vaccines will take several months if not years to invent, validate, and mass produce, this is a good time to consider another question: How can data science and technology help us endure the pandemic while we develop therapies and vaccines?

Before policymakers reopen their economies, they must be sure that the resulting new COVID-19 cases will not force local healthcare systems to resort to crisis standards of care. Doing so requires not just prevention and suppression of the virus, but ongoing measurement of virus activity, assessment of the efficacy of suppression measures, and forecasting of near-term demand on local health systems. This demand is highly variable given community demographics, the prevalence of pre-existing conditions, and population density and socioeconomics.

Can We Track COVID-19 and Protect Privacy at the Same Time?

By Sue Halpern

Caroline Buckee, a top epidemiologist at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, has devoted her professional life to studying malaria and other infectious diseases. As news of a novel coronavirus emerged from China, Buckee realized that her area of expertise—how infectious diseases evolve as they move through vulnerable populations—would be valuable to health-care workers and elected officials as the virus spread across the globe. “The methods and the tools are the same, and epidemiological models are easily adapted,” Buckee told me. “But, for many of us, like me, we work with endemic pathogens. covid-19 is new. There is so much we don’t know.” Since the most urgent imperative was to “flatten the curve” of infections, it was crucial to know where public-health strategies like stay-at-home orders were working and where they were not. Buckee quickly assembled a consortium of infectious-disease researchers to make the data accessible to policymakers—data that they did not yet have.

At just about the same time, Ian Allen, a former marine and C.I.A. paramilitary officer, cold-called Harvard’s School of Public Health and asked if there was anything that his new company, Camber Systems, could do to help with the pandemic. Soon afterward, Allen was connected with Buckee, the associate director of the School of Public Health’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Buckee had created the covid-19 Mobility Data Network, a network of epidemiologists from universities around the world, to try to track the efficacy of social-distancing measures. Allen agreed to provide Buckee with the software to query and scrub data collected by tech companies and use it to track the coronavirus’s spread without violating Americans’ privacy. “I wasn’t really expecting ever to hear back, assuming that Harvard, of all places, would have all the resources they’d ever need,” Allen told me, while standing in a field in rural Virginia as his son shot at tin cans with a BB gun. (Like many parents, Allen has been homeschooling his children during the pandemic; this was geometry class.) “Caroline asked me if we could help aggregate location data. Just aggregating the data and anonymizing it in the right way to protect privacy would take some of the burden off of her.” Allen reached out to a handful of data firms, including Unacast, Kochava, and X-Mode. All agreed to provide their data for free.

COVID-19 Offers a Golden Opportunity to Reengage with the Indo-Pacific

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But the U.S. must act quickly, lest China turn the pandemic to its own advantage.

As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has a chance to re-emerge as a leader and a valued ally and partner. The Indo-Pacific region is an ideal place to start. It is the Pentagon’s priority theater; a place where America can both learn and apply its own knowledge and logistics; and a region where swift action is needed to counter China’s own attempts to extend its influence amid the pandemic.

The Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report describes the Indo-Pacific as “the single most consequential region for America’s future.” Yet for all the rhetoric—see also the administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy and the State Department’s A Free and Open Indo-Pacific report—concrete action has failed to keep pace. State Department vacancies in South and Central Asia remain high. Ambassador positions in key countries such as Singapore have gone vacant for years. The administration downgraded its participation in important regional forums even as it continues to spar with allies like South Korea over basing costs. Some fear the administration may be destroying the alliance system that served the U.S. so well for seven decades. 

The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

By Mercy A. Kuo

Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dexter Roberts – fellow at the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center; formerly China bureau chief and Asia News editor for Bloomberg Businessweek in Beijing – focuses on his recent book, The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, The Factory, and The Future of the World (St. Martin’s Press 2020).

Why is “Chinese capitalism” a myth? What other myths are detailed in your book?

The myth is that China is becoming more capitalistic. And by capitalistic, I mean continuing to open its economy, and that the very real reforms that began under former leader Deng Xiaoping some four decades ago are still continuing. But the reality is that economic reforms have stagnated while the government seems ever more intent on strengthening its hand over the business and society.

China’s Investment in Africa Cannot Buy the Silence of a Continent

By Deprose Muchena

The COVID-19 pandemic has at times brought out the best in humanity; at others it has exposed our flaws. Contrast, for instance, China’s mass donation of COVID-19-fighting equipment to Africa with the mistreatment African migrants have recently faced in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Social media footage showed the perceived coronavirus carriers being forcibly evicted from hotels and lodgings and forced to sleep on the streets. One clip showed a restaurant that apparently barred black people from entering.

The incidents were quickly “dealt with” by the authorities. China said it had “zero tolerance for discrimination” and was working with local authorities to “improve their working method,” while simultaneously making efforts to discredit the reports. Africa’s leaders seem to have accepted the explanation.

Mohammed bin Salman’s Bloody Dream City of Neom

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Afew days after the Saudi Special Forces killed Abdulrahim al-Huwaiti on April 13, the government put out a statement labeling him a “wanted individual.” Saudi authorities and online trolls referred to him as a “terrorist.” Hours before his death, the tribesman had posted a YouTube video predicting just such a demise. It would be a setup, he explained in his video, punishment for protesting the government’s efforts to forcibly displace the Huwaitat tribe to make way for the futuristic Saudi city of Neom.

For hundreds of years, the tribe had occupied villages and towns, including a historical capital, Khuraybah, across the northwestern province of Tabuk. Now, some 20,000 people are set to be pushed out to make room for Neom.

In 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced his vision for a $500 billion high-tech dream city to be populated by global vacationers, technology start-ups, and rich investors. The planned 10,230-square-mile city—33 times the size of New York City—is a cornerstone of the crown prince’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from reliance on oil revenues. Officials promised the city would have more robots than humans, with mass facial recognition and surveillance to eliminate crime, drone-operated air taxis instead of roads, and a seaside luxury resort, cruise, and entertainment complex. Neom would be a miniature country with its own laws. The Huwaitat tribe would never fit into this glamorous cosmopolitan hub. And so the government would pay them for their land and nudge them out.

Oil Price Shock: What It Means for Producers and Consumers

With drastic declines in consumer demand, the coronavirus pandemic has created a difficult new world for the oil industry. On April 20, prices for futures contracts expiring on April 21 for the U.S. benchmark crude oil – West Texas Intermediate (WTI) – turned negative to minus $37.63 a barrel. Spot prices also fell below zero, and panicky oil producers and traders dumped a large volume of futures contracts. Prices for Brent, the benchmark for crude from the North Sea, also crashed, although they stayed in positive territory.

By April 21, prices for the benchmark WTI crude were back in the black. But its brief stay in subzero levels raised new questions that were beyond how long and how deep COVID-19 would cut demand. For producers, the negative prices had them worrying briefly about paying buyers to buy their oil, but now they face longer term concerns, such as having to curtail output; shut down producing wells and defer new well openings; put off exploration; and file for bankruptcies or get acquired in a wave of consolidation, according to experts at Wharton and elsewhere.

In late March, when WTI prices fell from the year’s opening at $61 to some $23 a barrel, the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) estimated that if oil stays at $23 a barrel through the end of 2020, it would eliminate about 0.25% of GDP, and growth in business investment would be 1.9 percentage points lower.

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. One blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in May 2019, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

Despite these hurdles, negotiators made substantive progress during a U.N. climate change conference in December 2018, putting in place an ambitious system of monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions for nations that remain part of the agreement. But the latest round of talks in December 2019 ended in abject failure, and the coronavirus pandemic will complicate any further diplomatic efforts this year.

New US Navy Carrier Inquiry Suggests Tough Scrutiny of Admirals

By Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor

The Navy is launching a wider investigation of the coronavirus crisis aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, suggesting closer and deeper scrutiny of actions and decisions by senior admirals in the Pacific that led to the controversial firing of the ship’s commander nearly a month ago.

The move announced Wednesday effectively delays a decision on whether to go ahead with a Navy recommendation that Captain Brett E. Crozier be restored to command of the Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam for weeks. Crozier was fired after pleading for urgent Navy action to protect his crew.

The expanded inquiry suggests the Navy is looking to hold someone accountable for the most severe virus outbreak to strike the U.S. military. It has infected nearly 1,000 sailors, killing one, and temporarily hobbled an aircraft carrier vital to the Navy’s mission of countering China’s power in the Asia-Pacific region.

What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

At 4:18 a.m. on February 1, 1997, a fire broke out in the Aisin Seiki company’s Factory No. 1, in Kariya, a hundred and sixty miles southwest of Tokyo. Soon, flames had engulfed the plant and incinerated the production line that made a part called a P-valve—a device used in vehicles to modulate brake pressure and prevent skidding. The valve was small and cheap—about the size of a fist, and roughly ten dollars apiece—but indispensable. The Aisin factory normally produced almost thirty-three thousand valves a day, and was, at the time, the exclusive supplier of the part for the Toyota Motor Corporation.

Within hours, the magnitude of the loss was evident to Toyota. The company had adopted “just in time” (J.I.T.) production: parts, such as P-valves, were produced according to immediate needs—to precisely match the number of vehicles ready for assembly—rather than sitting around in stockpiles. But the fire had now put the whole enterprise at risk: with no inventory in the warehouse, there were only enough valves to last a single day. The production of all Toyota vehicles was about to grind to a halt. “Such is the fragility of JIT: a surprise event can paralyze entire networks and even industries,” the management scholars Toshihiro Nishiguchi and Alexandre Beaudet observed the following year, in a case study of the episode.

Why Populists Want a Multipolar World

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As the COVID-19 crisis worsened in Europe, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic launched a blistering attack on the European Union, arguing that “European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper,” and praising China for its willingness to assist with the pandemic. Even Italian politicians normally supportive of the EU joined their populist counterparts in hailing China and criticizing Brussels after Beijing supplied critically needed equipment following the EU’s initial failure to step up.

These developments underscore the growing sense that the international order sits at an inflection point, driven by the conspicuous lack of leadership by the Trump administration; China’s aggressive efforts to showcase its domestic political model and its status as a provider of international club and private goods; and the possibility that the pandemic may fuel a growing populist backlash against political, economic, and cultural liberalism.

Earth Day 2020: COVID-19 Reminds Us Why Science Matters

Earth Day in 1970 represented an alliance awakening to the science of environmental dangers that translated into a strong and effective political movement. What might Earth Day 50 years later – on April 22, 2020 – mean for us? We could follow a similar path and believe in science again, writes Eric W. Orts in this opinion piece. Orts is a professor of legal studies and business ethics and the founding director of the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at Wharton.

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day comes at a difficult time, as the world reels from the blow struck by the virus that causes COVID-19. The crisis we are experiencing, though, should tell us something that we should take time to contemplate: Science is essential.

In 1970, the first Earth Day was inspired by a scientist. In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which documented the terrible toll on birds, other wildlife, and even human beings wreaked by deadly pesticides such as DDT. As a result, the environmental movement in the U.S. succeeded in convincing Congress to pass a wave of environmental legislation that set a standard for the world, such as in original versions of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Human Intel Analysts In a Key Area

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A Defense Intelligence Agency experiment shows AI and humans have different risk tolerances when data is scarce.

In the 1983 movie WarGames, the world is brought to the edge of nuclear destruction when a military computer using artificial intelligence interprets false data as an imminent Soviet missile strike. Its human overseers in the Defense Department, unsure whether the data is real, can’t convince the AI that it may be wrong. A recent finding from the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, suggests that in a real situation where humans and AI were looking at enemy activity, those positions would be reversed.

Artificial intelligence can actually be more cautious than humans about its conclusions in situations when data is limited. While the results are preliminary, they offer an important glimpse into how humans and AI will complement one another in critical national security fields. 

DIA analyzes activity from militaries around the globe. Terry Busch, the technical director for the agency’s Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System, or MARS, on Monday joined a Defense One viewcast to discuss the agency’s efforts to incorporate AI into analysis and decision-making.

The Department of Defense Should Not Wage Cyber War Against Criminal Hackers During the Coronavirus Crisis

Erica D. Borghard is an assistant professor in the Army Cyber Institute at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a senior director on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Her views are personal and do not reflect the policy or position of the Army Cyber Institute, U.S. Military Academy, Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Politicians and pundits in the United States have frequently described the challenge of controlling the COVID pandemic with the language of waging war. Given this terminology, it can be tempting to look to the Department of Defense (DOD) to solve problems it was not meant to address. While nefarious actors in cyberspace are seeking to capitalize on scared and vulnerable individuals during the pandemic for criminal gain and national strategic objectives, any efforts to leverage DOD capabilities in combating these efforts must distinguish between nation-state and criminal activity.

The Pentagon’s Spectrum Defeat May Presage a Loss of Other Key Frequencies

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Rejecting appeals by Defense officials and their Congressional allies, the FCC approved a private company's use of spectrum near ones used by GPS.

The Pentagon’s fight with the Federal Communications Commission over satellite company Ligado’s spectrum use is basically over, keen observers say, heralding greater use of the finite resource to expand broadband access.

“It’s rare for the Department of Defense to suffer a defeat like this,” a former senior Commerce Department official told Nextgov reacting to the FCC’s unanimous approval of Ligado’s application on April 20. “It could be an opening salvo to greater use than in the past. You could see a resurrection of the push to making broadband more available.”

There’s only so much of the electromagnetic spectrum to go around. Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration is responsible for managing the government’s use of it and making recommendations to the FCC about which frequencies the commission might license commercial entities and the general public to use. 

Army Awards Lockheed $75M For AI Cyber/Jamming Pod


Lockheed technicians test their Silent Crow cyber/electronic warfare pod.

WASHINGTON: After successful flight tests of Lockheed Martin’s Silent Crow prototype last year, the Army took a big step to rebuilding its electronic warfare capabilities, awarding the company $74.85 million to develop, build, and test operational EW pods.

That award actually happened in January, but Lockheed only announced it this morning, probably because security on this highly sensitive technology is so tight that routine review of public statements can take months. I’ve been asking for an interview on Silent Crow for over a year, ever since Lockheed announced its initial $18 million Army award for prototype demonstrations in January 2019 — an additional $6 million for a second prototype followed in August — and it took until yesterday to wrangle an interview with one of the company’s experts.

Largely developed at Lockheed’s own expense, the Silent Crow pod is now the leading contender for the flying flagship of the Army’s rebuilt electronic warfare force. Army EW was largely disbanded after the Cold War, except for short-range jammers to shut down remote-controlled roadside bombs. Now it’s being urgently rebuilt to counter Russia and China, whose high-tech forces – unlike Afghan guerrillas – rely heavily on radio and radar systems, whose transmissions US forces must be able to detect, analyze and disrupt.