30 July 2020

Offline and Out of School

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For the past few months, 10-year-old Prachi Kadian’s ability to attend school has hinged on a seemingly small piece of fortune: Her father has a smartphone. That means Prachi can watch and read the lessons that her schoolteacher sends via WhatsApp each day. Shyamvir Kadian, a farm laborer in the Indian state of Haryana, is the only one in his family with a phone. Before he heads out for work each morning, he passes it to his daughter to look up her assignments. When he returns in the evening, she photographs pages of completed work and messages them to the teacher, sometimes speaking to her on the phone to go over particularly tricky lessons.

Prachi hasn’t met or spoken to a single friend since educational institutions closed across India in March in the face of the pandemic, and she misses school desperately. But because she is able to access her father’s phone, Prachi is one of India’s luckier students.

Even as India lifted its countrywide lockdown last month despite the surging coronavirus pandemic—only the United States and Brazil have recorded more cases—schools have yet to physically reopen. The central government has said that remote learning will continue until at least August—though many schools are likely to stay closed for much longer—and has pinned its hopes on technology. Since the start of the pandemic, the government has been updating its existing e-learning platforms with content and QR-coded textbooks for multiple languages, classes, and states. EdTech companies are reporting record increases in user registrations, engagement, and revenue during lockdown. But despite all the bustling plans, there is a looming problem: India has a massive digital disparity.

Larung Gar: The World’s Largest Monastery – and Highest Slum

By Shivaji Das
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We made a late start for Larung Gar, the world’s largest monastery and arguably the world’s highest slum as well. It was snowing and our van skidded and swerved on the icy road.

The entrance to Larung was dismal. Stagnant pools of water had formed here and there, street urchins and dogs were roaming about aimlessly, and vegetables rotted everywhere. But once we got out of the car, we finally realized the true scale and beauty of Larung — hills upon hills of crimson red, an endless cluster of red houses, almost identical, all tiny, just large enough to contain a small bed and a luggage bag — resembling a few thousand red Lego blocks pressed on to the earth.

The Larung monastery, located in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province, was opened in 1980 by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Legend held that Khenpo came out of his mother’s womb in a meditational posture and recited Manjushri’s mantra immediately thereafter. Khenpo envisioned Larung as a university town where monks, nuns, and laypeople from all over Tibet could come and study. As the Chinese government’s attitude toward religion became more relaxed, Larung spread like an amoeba over these hills to accommodate more than 10,000 residents.

Most of the shacks at Larung were cubicles that went about 2 meters in each dimension, with just enough space for a small bed, a stove, and a chimney. There was no heating and the showers and the toilets were communal, separate for men and women. It was hard to imagine any kind of luxury in such a state of living. Larung was a place purely designed for faith or an escape from desperation.

Will Afghanistan’s Long-Delayed Peace Ever Arrive?

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

In this April 8, 2020, file photo, an Afghan National Army soldier stands guard at a checkpoint near the Bagram base north of Kabul, Afghanistan.Credit: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

In Afghanistan, February 2020 created a short-lived hope for the end of an 18-year war that has been brutal, intimate, and vicious. The one-week trial of a reduction in violence, followed by an agreement between the United States and the Taliban in February, was cherished as a major step toward peace. Yet in the five months since then, a dispute over actually enacting peace has eroded the people’s hope for an end to the endless war.

The U.S.-Taliban deal left the Taliban more victorious than the Afghan government, but the public enthusiasm was built around the forthcoming negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The months-long delay in the negotiations – originally supposed to begin in March – whittled away at public hope for an end to the war, though the peace process continued in slow motion.

Most recently, a Taliban spokesperson offered to begin negotiations at the beginning of August, after the Eid ul Adha holiday, but only if the Afghan government releases more Taliban prisoners. Kabul has previously been reluctant to do so; in the end, this may just be another proposed deadline that comes and goes to no effect.

Loose Nukes: Pakistan Remains A Nuclear Disaster Waiting To Happen

by Caleb Larson

Here's What You Need To Remember: Speaking to the New York Times, some American officials expressed their concern about “new vulnerabilities for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, including the potential for militants to snatch a weapon in transport or to insert sympathizers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities.” 

Unlike India, Pakistan lacks a sea-based nuclear delivery platform and thus does not have a three-pronged nuclear triad. Worst still for Islamabad, Pakistan is hindered by a lack of cash, and there are questions about how secure the nuclear missiles in Pakistan are from falling into non-state actor’s hands. 

First-Use Deterrence

Unlike India, Pakistan does not adhere to a no-first-use nuclear policy. That is to say, Pakistan reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first, rather than in retaliation after being struck first. India is Pakistan’s main geostrategic enemy, and their nuclear arsenal exists only to deter India. 

East Asia's new edge

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SINGAPORE – Death tolls don’t lie. The most striking disparity in COVID-19 fatalities to date is between East Asian countries, where the total number of deaths per million inhabitants is consistently below 10, and much of the West, where the numbers are in the hundreds.

For example, Japan has so far reported 7.8 deaths per million, followed by South Korea (5.8), Singapore (4.6), China (3.2) and, most remarkably of all, Vietnam with zero deaths. By contrast, Belgium now has 846 confirmed deaths per million, and the United Kingdom has 669, followed by Spain (608), Italy (580) and the United States (429).

What accounts for this extraordinary difference? The answers are complicated, but three possible explanations stand out. First, none of the East Asian states believe that they have “arrived,” much less achieved the “end of history” at which they regard their societies as being the apotheosis of human possibility. Second, East Asian countries have long invested in strengthening government institutions instead of trying to weaken them, and this is now paying off. And, third, China’s spectacular rise is presenting its regional neighbors with opportunities as well as challenges.

It’s always dangerous to oversimplify. Yet, the evidence shows that whereas Europeans tend to believe in state-sponsored social security, East Asians still believe that life is composed of struggle and sacrifice. French President Emmanuel Macron is battling to overhaul his country’s pension system and decrease retirement benefits in order to achieve much-needed reductions in budget deficits. As a result, France was convulsed for months by “Yellow Vest” protests. But when South Korea faced a far more serious financial crisis in 1997-1998, old ladies donated jewelry to the central bank in an effort to help.

China Doesn't Want to Conquer, Just Do Business

Robert D. Kaplan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the purpose of China’s People’s Liberation Army is not to protect its homeland but to “expand a Chinese empire.” Earlier this month, he warned China not to treat the South China Sea “as its maritime empire.”

Pompeo is actually way behind the curve. China has been in one form or another an empire for thousands of years. And its current imperial incarnation is not specifically because of its actions in the South China Sea.

Great-power competition has forever been an imperial activity. One need not obsess, as Pompeo seems to be doing, about China being an empire. The real issue is: What kind of empire is China?

Is it a land empire or a sea empire? Is it a missionary empire like the U.S., that seeks to impose its universal values, or something else? These categories all portend different outcomes in a great-power struggle with China. And distinctions are just as relevant today as they were centuries and millennia ago.

There’s a Bigger Threat Than Big Tech. It’s Big China

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On July 27, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook, and Jeff Bezos will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. This will be among the final steps in the Committee’s antitrust investigation into America’s tech giants and the U.S. digital marketplace. The four CEOs are expected to answer questions about the relationship between their markets and existing regulations, as well as how their platform roles affect smaller competitors and consumers. 

Such questions are valid. Regulations have not kept pace with evolving digital marketplaces. But the July 27 hearing – and the Judiciary Committee’s investigation writ large – risk overlooking the real threat to competition: The Chinese Communist Party. 

American tech giants do not exist in a vacuum. Whether Congress acknowledges it or not, American companies are competing with the Chinese state and its state-backed corporate champions. And these Chinese players are competing to control a new global architecture. As we consider the state of American big tech, we should also ask what curtailing it means for the world: Do we want Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon or do we want Beijing’s?

“Chinese standards will inevitably reach the world,” declared the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times in April, “and that will not be stopped by geopolitical games.” Today, these Chinese standards – and networks and platforms – facilitate theft of American innovations, promotion of Beijing’s narrative and economic systems, and genocide of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

Channeling Realism to Avert a War Over Taiwan

By Larry Kummer

This article is pending future publication in the Marine Corps Gazette, and is published here with permission; Copyright © May 2020; MCA&F (www.mca-marines.org). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not reflect the views of the Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense or the United States Government.

Marines have faith the battles they fight are winnable and for causes that warrant their sacrifices. Unfortunately, those expectations will be disappointed in a fight for Taiwan’s independence. Fear is one of the strongest motives to fight [1], and the Chinese Communist Party fears that Taiwan’s U.S.-backed secession violates China’s sovereignty, threatens its civilizational identity, and undermines dynastic CCP legitimacy [2] [3]. The People’s Republic of China is therefore prepared to endure massive casualties and societal costs to prevent secession [4]. In contrast, U.S. motives to support Taiwan’s independence are elite self-interests [5] [6] as the outcome of China’s civil war poses no compelling threat to U.S. sovereignty or democracy. U.S. military intervention will lack whole of society support when an uncompromising PRC bleeds us for a dubious U.S. objective. Instead, the U.S. should modernize and preserve Fleet Marine Forces to fight against existential threats that China and others may someday pose to U.S. national security [7]. This will motivate whole of society determination to win decisively [8] for causes that fully warrant Marine sacrifices. But Taiwan’s independence from China is not one of them.

Next China: Hawks and Doves

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo began the week in London, where he celebrated a win against China.

Standing next to U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Pompeo applauded Britain’s decision to ban Huawei's 5G gear and declared he wanted to build a “coalition” that understands the “threat” China poses.

The next day the U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, a move Beijing blasted as “unprecedented escalation.” Asked about the closure at his next stop in Denmark, Pompeo responded that Washington would act to protect American interests.

The secretary of state was then in California at the presidential library of Richard Nixon, whose 1972 trip to China is credited with opening relations. In a speech there, Pompeo cast competition with China as a struggle between right and wrong, hearkening to language from the Cold War.

It has become increasingly clear the hawks in President Donald Trump's administration are in ascendance when it comes to China. Chief among those pushing policy toward its most antagonistic in decades is Pompeo. 

The Hong Kong Crackdown Is A Financial Disaster For China: Is It Time To Fire The CEO?

George Calhoun
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“The announcement this week that China has invited Australia to send a team of medical research scientists and public health experts to Wuhan to help document the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic is being widely welcomed. The Aussies will join scientists from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, already working on site with their colleagues from Tsinghua University and other top Chinese scientific institutions, to sequence the latest mutations of the virus… The move is a follow-up to the joint program announced earlier this month to fully combine American and Chinese programs for vaccine research and production. 

“In related news, U.S. President Biden announced that all charges against Huawei, China’s leading international company, will be dropped in exchange for a pledge of full technology sharing. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was welcomed in New York to ring the opening bell as Huawei shares began trading on Nasdaq, surging more than 15% in the first day on news of a major 5G order from Vodafone in the UK.

“Simultaneously, Beijing’s decision to fully rescind the new security laws for Hong Kong helped boost the Hang Sent index by 22%, and brought applause from financial markets everywhere. New polls showed public approval of China soaring in Europe and the United States. China’s pending elevation to membership in the G7 has met with universal support from world leaders. Xi Jinping is seen as a shoo-in for the Nobel Peace Prize.…” [fade to grey]

*The Counterfactual News Network 

DOJ says Chinese hackers targeted coronavirus vaccine research


Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged two Chinese men with hacking hundreds of U.S. and foreign companies, nongovernmental organizations and human rights activists, as well as trying to hack three U.S. firms researching the coronavirus, in an escalation of Washington’s war with Beijing over intellectual property theft and espionage.

Beginning in September 2009, the two men, Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, stole “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of trade secrets, intellectual property, and other valuable business information,” according to an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of Washington. Their alleged victims included high-tech manufacturing firms, pharmaceutical companies and the makers of educational software and medical equipment. Victim companies were located in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and other countries.

In some cases, the men allegedly acted out of self-interest, in one instance attempting to extort a victim into paying a ransom by threatening to publish their intellectual property. In other cases, prosecutors said, “they were stealing information of obvious interest” to the Chinese government. The hackers “worked with, were assisted by, and operated with the acquiescence of” an officer in China’s Ministry of State Security, according to the indictment.

“China is determined to use every means at its disposal, including the theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies, laboratories and our universities, to degrade the United States’ economic, technological and military advantages,” FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said at a press conference.

Accuse, Evict, Repeat: Why Punishing China and Russia for Cyberattacks Fails

By David E. Sanger

So far, there is scant evidence that these punishments have limited the cyberattacks and other bad behavior from America’s two greatest rivals for influence and power around the world.

Employees at the Chinese Consulate in Houston burned papers after the United States ordered it closed, prompting firefighters and the police to rush to the area.Credit...Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

As smoke poured from the Chinese Consulate in Houston on Wednesday, the product of an old-fashioned ritual in which evicted diplomats touch off a bonfire of classified documents after being ordered to leave the country, Trump administration officials boasted that they were hitting Beijing where it hurt — in one of the epicenters of its spying operations in the United States.

The technique the administration chose — accuse, condemn, evict — has been used before. And, so far, there is scant evidence that it has limited the cyberattacks and other bad behavior from America’s two greatest rivals for influence and power around the world, China and Russia.

SAJID JAVID: We must treat the threat of Chinese and Russian cyber attacks as seriously as we do terrorists

In the Cold War television thriller Deutschland 83, there’s a scene in which a young East German spy is ordered to photograph a report in the possession of Nato’s top analyst.

After breaking into his hotel room, the spy finds the report is stored on a floppy disk. Having sent it back across the Iron Curtain, the fiasco ends with his boss staring at the disk in bewilderment, asking his colleagues: ‘What the hell am I supposed to do with this?’

It is crucial that we give the police and security services more legal tools. Too often, it feels as if our laws work against a common sense of justice and security, writes Sajid Javid, pictured above

This is a quaint reminder of the days when technology worked to the West’s advantage and there were limited ways for foreign countries to interfere with domestic life.

That’s a bygone era, as made clear by the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on Russia’s activities.

I gave evidence to the committee and am not divulging any sensitive intelligence to say that it was right to conclude Russia’s cyber capabilities pose an ‘immediate and urgent threat to our national security’.

By 2050, China's Military Could Be Unstopable

David Axe
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Here's What You Need To Remember: China’s theft of major technologies is one key tenet of the PLA’s plan. In addition, Beijing’s armed forces are “[d]eveloping the capabilities and concepts to conduct ‘systems destruction warfare’ —the crippling of the U.S. battle network’s command, control, communication and intelligence systems.”

Chinese leaders have laid out a plan for deploying the world’s best-armed forces no later than 2049. If the United States is to prevent China from becoming the world’s leading military power, it needs a plan of its own.

That’s the sobering warning in a new report for the Center for a New American Security by former deputy defense secretary Robert Work and co-author Greg Grant.

Chinese leaders’ resolve hardened in 1991 as they watched the U.S.-led coalition pummel Iraqi forces with seemingly ceaseless barrages of precision-guided munitions.

“A key lesson China took from the 1991 Desert Storm campaign was to strike hard and fast during war’s earliest stages, as initiative once lost would be all but impossible to regain against an opponent capable of 24-hour, all-weather guided-munitions bombardment,” Work and Grant wrote.

Mike Pompeo Just Declared America's New China Policy: Regime Change

by Gordon G. Chang 

Gordon Chang: Many talk about the United States in recent weeks starting a “new Cold War,” but that formulation is Beijing’s narrative and is certainly inapt. There is nothing “new” about the multi-generational, across-continents struggle. China has been waging this contest since the fall of the Soviet Union. It’s just that Americans have been, for reasons that have changed over time, oblivious.

President Donald Trump’s “new China strategy,” according to Zack Cooper of the American Enterprise Institute, is, like Russia, a “riddle,” a “mystery,” and an “enigma.”

Cooper may now want to revise his commentary.

He may still dislike Trump’s China policy, but after Thursday neither he nor anyone else can say they don’t know what it is.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, from the podium at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, laid out in no uncertain terms what the administration wanted to do and how it planned to go about accomplishing its ambitious aims.

America, the secretary of state said, has effectively ditched five decades of “engagement” policy and is now embracing a policy now out of favor across the American policy establishment: regime change.

Formally, the State Department still “engages” China, Pompeo said, but “simply to demand fairness and reciprocity.” Gone are the days when American diplomats engaged China to support the Communist Party. Too often in the past, U.S. presidents rescued Chinese communism, three times—Nixon in 1972, Bush in 1989, and Clinton in 1999—in particular.

South China Sea Showdown: Here's How America Is Trying To Contain China In Its Own Backyard

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Recent US diplomatic and military moves in the Pacific theater are conveying a strong message to both friends and foes that Washington is determined to preserve the hegemonic status the United States has enjoyed since the end of World War II. The latest confirmation is the addition of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Both the PDI and other US actions are implicitly directed against one target: the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Over the past decade, and especially during President Donald Trump’s administration, the perception has grown within America’s political and policy elites that China is no longer a constructive economic and diplomatic partner. Instead, officials see Beijing as a strategic competitor at best and an outright adversary at worst.

That mounting mistrust of Beijing has several sources. US military leaders have watched with growing unease for years as the PRC’s military budget ballooned and funds were directed disproportionately to the development of sophisticated anti-ship missiles and other anti-access, area denial systems. The primary purpose of such programs was to raise the cost severely to the United States if Washington sent its air and naval forces to defend Taiwan or otherwise interfere with PRC strategic goals in waters near China. An increasingly bold foreign policy agenda has accompanied Beijing’s new military muscle.

The True Lessons of Nixon and Kissinger’s China Strategy

by Harry J. Kazianis 
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In a historic speech yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a blistering attack on China at the Nixon Library in California that seeks to recalibrate American policy toward China. But it misunderstood Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s fundamental approach. Instead of seeking confrontation with China, Nixon and Kissinger sought to play the “China Card” by deploying it against the Soviet Union.

While the speech itself needs to be read in its entirety, Pompeo’s remarks, which represent a coordinated effort to recalibrate U.S. foreign policy towards China in a number of different speeches over the last few weeks by other senior Trump Administration officials, clearly mean only one thing: Trump’s top foreign policy officials are pushing for a move from an engagement and peaceful competition with Beijing to what can only be described as a twenty-first-century version of Cold War-style containment. Indeed, Pompeo clearly meant for his remarks to be interpreted as the “Evil Empire” speech of 2020. Whether Trump himself will adopt this course remains an open question.

While Pompeo was careful not to attack former President Nixon for his decision to engage with China, there was no mention of the reasons why Nixon and Kissinger made this historic move, which was unquestionably the right move at the right time. Pompeo quotes from a famous 1967 Foreign Affairs piece by Nixon that made the case for engagement with China. Nixon wrote,

Post-Pandemic Japan Will Attract the World

By Gracia Liu-Farrer
When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, people will again be on the move, crisscrossing the planet in search of career opportunities, education, and better lifestyles. But the destinations and directions of those movements may be forever changed. Life in some countries, including the United States, will appear less desirable than it did before the pandemic. And the very nature of the recent crisis may drive would-be migrants to prize safety, stability, and the ability to maintain family connections.

The United States, whose response to the virus exposed chaos and division, stands to lose migrants. But other countries will gain them, and with them, the attendant benefits of diversity, dynamism, and new talent. Few stand to profit more than Japan, a relatively secure and stable country with low unemployment—even a need for more laborers—and excellent universities that can lure students who may now be reluctant to risk expensive study in the West.

Japan has long been considered a fairly homogeneous country. After the pandemic, it is likely to grow more diverse and globally connected. This transformation, which will remake Japanese society and challenge the traditional understanding of its national identity, is necessary if Japan wants to remain a significant power in the global arena.


America’s Innovation Engine Is Slowing

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Universities are in trouble and the influx of brainpower from overseas is shrinking. The long-term consequences could be disastrous.

Earlier this month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students attending universities that switch to online-only courses in the fall would be required to leave the United States. By threatening student visas, the Trump administration, which has been pushing to reopen businesses and schools despite the continuing pandemic, was widely seen as pressuring colleges to resume in-person classes. If implemented, the visa policy could have driven away thousands of brilliant minds—the brainpower that, for decades, has proved essential to entrepreneurship and technological innovation in the United States.

In the end, immigration officials backed down amid legal challenges, but some damage was already done: The administration had added to the uncertainty swirling about America’s crucial higher-education sector, while also signaling to young people overseas that, should they ever want to attend an American university, they might not be welcome.

The visa debacle was only the latest of many ominous signs for the United States, long the world’s primary incubator of new technologies, new drugs, new therapies, and new business models. The coronavirus pandemic and the administration’s botched response to it are damaging the engine of American innovation in three major ways: The flow of talented people from overseas is slowing; the university hubs that produce basic research and development are in financial turmoil; and the circulation of people and ideas in high-productivity industrial clusters, such as Silicon Valley, has been impeded.

How OPEC Shook Off a Historic Crash to Successfully Stabilize Oil Markets

Mark Finley, Jim Krane

The global clout of OPEC, never one of the world’s most admired institutions, reached a nadir in April when a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia triggered a price war just as global oil demand was collapsing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Three months later, the cartel has re-emerged as a model of transnational cooperation and collective sacrifice, implementing historic production cuts in an effort to stabilize prices. Oil markets have noticed. After cratering below $20 a barrel in April, Brent crude, the international benchmark price, has hovered between $42 and $45 so far this month, even as demand remains low due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Understanding medical uncertainty in the hydroxychloroquine debate

Smitha Khorana and Kellie Owens
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the search for an effective treatment has been fraught. In the United States, public attention has focused on the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, in large part because of President Trump’s endorsement of the drug. After he amplified a small study in France that suggested the drug could be an effective treatment, prescription sales of hydroxychloroquine skyrocketed. Well-developed, randomized clinical trials have since found that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19, but this has done little to reduce interest in the drug—especially in the White House, where Trump and his aides most recently latched on to a less rigorous, observational study that purported to demonstrate the drug’s effectiveness.

The debate over hydroxychloroquine has become deeply politicized, which has obscured more nuanced debates within the scientific community over what constitutes actionable evidence. With social media platforms acting as key arbiters in the circulation of health information, these nuances are particularly important for the major platforms to understand. By framing decisions around removing content related to hydroxychloroquine as a choice between harmful medical misinformation vs. science, platforms may be closing off space for inquiry and debate and incentivizing the consumption of more medical misinformation instead of less. We advocate an approach that gives voice to experts and allows dialogue on different approaches to medical uncertainty.

Medicine in a time of uncertainty

Fauci Urges Americans to Get Flu Shot, As Vaccine Linked to Lower Alzheimer's Risk


Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has urged members of the public to get the flu vaccine and "blunt" the disease's effect amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

His comments preceded the release of a study suggesting the flu shot is not only useful for preventing the respiratory illness, but could also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

In an interview withMarketWatch, personal-finance editor Quentin Fottrell asked Fauci how concerned he was that the U.S. will face a flu season and a rise in coronavirus cases in the coming fall or winter.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said although he hoped it wouldn't be the case, if there was "significant COVID-19 activity" going into the fall and winter "that will be problematic and complicate things because that's two respiratory infections circulating together."

Fauci said that is one of the reasons "we're telling people that, when the flu vaccine becomes available, make sure you get vaccinated so that you could at least blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections."

According to a study presented at the virtual Alzheimer's Association International Conference taking place between July 27 to 31, the flu vaccine may also protect against Alzheimer's disease. It was not clear from a press release on the study if the research had been published in a scientific journal or peer-reviewed.

The Blue Nile Is Dammed

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This month, Ethiopia completed the initial filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a nearly $5 billion hydroelectricity project on the Blue Nile River. With 4.9 billion cubic meters of water in the dam’s reservoir so far, Ethiopia will now be able to test two of the project’s energy-generating turbines. The country plans to fill the rest of the dam over the next five years, a prospect that worries downstream Egypt, which depends on the Nile for fresh water.

As the two countries continue to negotiate over the dam’s future, we’ve gathered our best reads to explain the stakes.

The Blue Nile dam has been a flash point between Egypt, Ethiopia, and, to a lesser extent, Sudan since the project was made public in 2011. For Ethiopia, the energy generated by the dam—estimated to be over 6 gigawatts, the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa—is essential to its continued economic development. The water held in the dam’s reservoir, meanwhile, will help it meet its population’s water needs. For Egypt, though, the decline in water flowing its way would be devastating.

What Countries Will Be the Most Powerful in 2030?

by Robert Farley 
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Key Point: Who is on top and who is down and out keeps shifting throughout history. Here's our guess about where the great powers will stand in ten years.

The focus of ground combat operations has shifted dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Relatively few operations now involve the defeat of a technologically and doctrinally similar force, leading to the conquest or liberation of territory. Preparation for these operations remains important, but ground combat branches also have a host of other priorities, some (including counter-insurgency and policing) harkening back to the origins of the modern military organization.

This first appeared in 2017 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

What will the balance of ground combat power look like in 2030, presumably after the Wars on Terror and the Wars of Russian Reconsolidation (more to come on this idea below) shake out?

Predictions are hard, especially about the future, but a few relatively simple questions can help illuminate our analysis. In particular, three questions motivate this study:

Where do Space Force and Space Command fit into the Pentagon’s cyber plans?

Mark Pomerleau

The Pentagon is trying to determine how its two newest space entities - Space Command and Space Force - will fit into the Department of Defense’s cyber architecture.

There are no plans - or subsequent authorities - for Space Force to provide personnel to the cyber mission force, which feeds up to U.S. Cyber Command, a Space Force spokesperson told C4ISRNET. The way the cyber force is staffed within the Defense Department is that each of the services are responsible for providing a set number of teams – offensive, defensive and intelligence/support teams – to the joint cyber mission force.

In turn, these teams are led by a Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber, which are headed by each of the service cyber component commanders, who then plan, synchronize and conduct operations for the combatant commands they’re assigned to.
Cyber Command has pointed to recent successes for operating forces globally, but questions remain regarding how it uses forces.

But Space Force will not be totally without cyber forces. As Air Force Magazine previously reported Space Force is considering transitioning about 130 cyber officers and around 1,000 enlisted personnel for cyber. A Space Force spokesperson told C4ISRNET these staffers will be Air Force cyber personnel transitioning in fiscal year 2021.