12 April 2015

‘Iraq Is Finished’

APRIL 8, 2015
Corruption and war have eroded all what was left of the country.

One afternoon this March, during a visit to Jordan, I sat on the banks of the Dead Sea with my Iraqi friend, Azzam Alwash. As we stared across the salt lake and watched the sun disappear behind the rocky crags of Israel, I recounted a trip I had taken to Jordan 20 years earlier to conduct field research on Palestinian refugees, as part of a Middle East peace effort designed to ensure that within a decade nobody in the region considered himself a refugee.

Emma Sky is a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the author of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. Full Bio

No one had an inkling back then that the numbers of refugees in the region would increase exponentially, with millions of Iraqis and Syrians displaced from their homes by international intervention and civil war. Nor had I imagined at the time that I would find myself in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, initially as a British representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority—the international transitional government that ran the country for about a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein—and then as the political advisor to U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno when he commanded U.S. forces in the country.


Afghanistan: An Economic Opportunity Not To Be Missed


April 7, 2015: A recent analysis of the security situation worldwide resulted in a list of the most dangerous countries. These were (starting with the most dangerous); Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine and Egypt. Studies like this are done mainly to find the least violent nations. This provides investors and tourists with useful information. At the moment few tourists regard Afghanistan as a suitable place to visit. Investors, however, are tempted by the huge development potential in Afghanistan. Many refuse to go beyond temptation until the security situation is greatly improved.

The U.S. government issued yet another report detailing the corruption resulting from over $100 billion in American aid entering Afghanistan since 2001. Afghans recognize corruption as the biggest problem in the country and the root cause of so many other problems (especially religious violence and drug gangs). There are many forms of corruption that the anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have a hard time getting recognized as corruption by most Afghans. For example, a lot of the reconstruction work, especially road-building, uses corrupt, and stupid, practices that are considered traditional by the locals. The most common one is to give all the contracts on a job to whoever offered the biggest bribe, or simply to someone in your family, who will pay you back later on. The guy who got the contract will not provide further bribes to local tribal leaders in the area where the road, or structures, are being built. 

Pakistani Court Frees Man Accused of Plotting 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attack That Killed 166

April 10, 2015

Pakistan Court Frees on Bail Accused Mastermind of Mumbai Attack-Lawyer

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court freed on bail on Friday a man accused of plotting a 2008 militant assault on India’s financial capital that killed 166 people and seriously strained ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours, his lawyer said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condemned the prospect of bail for Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, which comes months after India and Pakistan were engaged in their worst cross-border violence in more than a decade in the disputed Kashmir region.

“Lakhvi has been released and he is out of the jail now,” his lawyer, Malik Nasir Abbas, told Reuters on Friday. “I don’t know where he will go now.”

A security official also confirmed his release.

India’s Ministry for External Affairs said before the release that its concern about Lakhvi had been made clear to Pakistan.

A Breakthrough in US-Vietnam Relations

By Alexander L. Vuving
April 10, 2015
http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/a-breakthrough-in-us-vietnam-relations/


Emerging as one of the key bilateral relationships in the Asia-Pacific, ties between the United States and Vietnam have experienced a significant breakthrough in recent times. Somewhat below the radar of the international press, this breakthrough was embodied in the March 15-20 visit to Washington by Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang. Perhaps the media paid little attention to this trip because it was seen as a routine exchange at the minister level. But Quang’s mission was far from routine, and the contents of his talks indicated a qualitative change in U.S.-Vietnam relations.

New ONI Assessment of the Chinese Navy Released

Yesterday the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) released a 50-page unclassified intelligence concerning the growing strength and capabilities of the Chinese navy. The report, entitled The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century, can be read here


HOW U.S. NAVY INTEL SEES CHINA’S MARITIME FORCES

April 10, 2015

In its first unclassified report on the subject in six years, the Office of Naval Intelligence depicts a powerful trajectory for China’s maritime forces. Titled “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” the document and accompanying videos also cover the China Coast Guard—precisely the right approach, since the world’s largest blue water civil maritime fleet serves as “China’s Second Navy” and is on the front lines of island and maritime “rights protection” in the East and South China Seas. This focus on both the PLA Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard is also especially appropriate given their role as the principal institutions charged with furthering regional sovereignty claims. The PLAN is also responsible for safeguarding Chinese interests much farther afield, and is gradually developing power projection capabilities to do so.

Looking towards 2020, the Office of Naval Intelligence sees China’s maritime forces on a trajectory of major improvement through hardware acquisition and accrual of operational proficiency. 

Revealed: China’s Cyberwar ‘Cannon’


by Alex Williams
04.10.15

It could be the most powerful item in China’s electronic arsenal: a system for injecting spyware onto any foreign computer that communicates with a website in China. 

Computer security researchers have discovered a new “offensive device” being used by China’s powerful Internet censors that gives them the power to launch attacks on websites and inject malicious viruses on computers around the world. 

The device is associated with China’s so-called Great Firewall, which blocks Internet searches in China for information the government deems controversial, such as from Chinese dissidents and government critics. But this new tool, which researchers dubbed the Great Cannon, actually can commandeer an unwitting person’s computer and marshal it into a network of machines used to flood websites with traffic and force them to shut down. 

The cannon was used in such a denial-of-service attack on GreatFire.org, which helps Internet users circumvent Chinese censors, researchers at Citizen Lab, with the Munk School of Global Affairs at University of Toronto, and the University of California at Berkeley, said in a report released Friday. The Daily Beast obtained an advance copy of the document. 

China-US: Avoiding the ‘Improbable War’

By Jared McKinney
April 10, 2015

If the United States is the colossus that bestrides the world, its command to history is simple: Stop. The problem with America’s imperative is, as distinguished Yale historian Paul Kennedy remarked in 2010, “history, unfortunately, has a habit of wandering off all on its own.”

A recent diplomatic episode shows that this is a lesson the U.S. remains uninterested in learning. As readers ofThe Diplomat will know, in 2010, the IMF, with the support of the Obama Administration, passed a series of reforms that would shift member quota shares (and voting rights) to reflect the dynamics of a changing world economy, especially the economic growth of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). For the past five years, the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the IMF reform because many Republicans aregenerally dubious about international financial cooperation and because they fear it would give China more influence while decreasing U.S. influence (the second argument is prima facie spurious, as America would still remain the only member state with veto powers).

Revealed: China's Reasons for Island-Building in the South China Sea

April 10, 2015

For the first time, China’s Foreign Ministry has explained in detail the purpose and rationale for large-scale land reclamation activities taking place in disputed areas of the South China Sea. China’s dredging and construction activities have caused fellow disputants, as well as the U.S., to criticize China for raising tensions by seeking to change the status quo.

China’s typical response when asked about the South China Sea is terse and tends to shut off, rather than invite, further discussion. For example, when Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked about China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands on March 3, her response (in its entirety) was as follows:

Why Iran Needs to Dominate the Middle East

April 10, 2015 

It goes beyond contemporary geopolitical or sectarian considerations.... 

On March 7, General Hussein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), claimed that “the [power] of the Islamic Revolution has been stretched to Yemen” and added that “Islamic Revolution has influenced states and people from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bab el-Mandeb in Yemen.”

Later, Mohsen Rezaee, the first IRGC Chief Commander, applauded the Houthis’ fight against the Saudi-led coalition and stated that “the Iran-led ‘resistance front’ is fighting with the ‘invasion front’ of Israelis and Saudis in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and now in Yemen.”

Earlier, Alireza Zakani, a member of the Iranian parliament who is close to the Supreme Leader, declared, “three Arab capitals [Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad] have already fallen into Iran’s hands and belong to the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and Sana’a is the fourth.”


The Whack-a-Mole Game in Syria: ISIS Creeping Closer to Damascus

April 10, 2015

Creeping toward Damascus

LIKE a game of whack-a-mole, when the American-led coalition against Islamic State (IS) strikes the jihadists in one place, they often pop up in another. That is what happened at the start of April, when IS lost the city of Tikrit in Iraq but took over the long-suffering Yarmouk camp in Syria. A Palestinian refugee camp, now a suburb of Damascus, the capital, Yarmouk has long been held by a mixture of Palestinian and Syrian rebels, and besieged by troops loyal to Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

Until recently IS in Syria was confined mostly to the east of the country bordering Iraq. But over the past week its declaration of wilayat, or “provinces”, in other parts of Syria have seemed less like wishful thinking. Its men have inched westward from their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa towards Mr Assad’s turf. On March 31st they killed at least 46 residents of Mabuja, a village close to Hama. Then on April 1st the jihadists launched an offensive to take over Yarmouk, just 10 kilometres (6 miles) from central Damascus. Fighting continues, but IS is said to be in control of roughly four-fifths of the camp. As well as sending in its own fighters, IS found local recruits among angry young camp residents. They have been starved by the regime’s troops to the point of eating leaves, but also dislike some of the rebel groups that control Yarmouk for playing politics with the regime rather than confronting it.

Is Iran rational?

April 9,2015

Iranian President, Hassan Rowhani, delivering a speech during a ceremony marking the national day of nuclear technology in Tehran, Iran, 09 April 2015. (Offical Website Of The President / Handout/EPA)
At the heart of the concerns surrounding the deal with Iran is a simple question: Is Iran rational? For many critics, the answer is self-evident. The Iranians are “apocalyptic,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often said, warning that you can’t “bet on their rationality.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has declared, “I think they’re crazy.” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon restated his opinion recently that the Iranian government is a “messianic and apocalyptic regime.” 

And yet, these same critics’ preferred policy is one that relies on Iran’s rationality. The alternative to the deal forged by Iran and the six great powers is not war, they insist, but rather to ratchet up pressure and demand more concessions from Tehran. So, this crazy, apocalyptic band of mullahs, when faced with a few more sanctions, will calmly calculate the costs and benefits and yield in a predictable way to more pressure. Or, as J.J. Goldberg writes in the Jewish Daily Forward, “Apparently they’re irrational enough to welcome nuclear Armageddon, but rational enough to yield to economic punishment.” (This point is also well made by Vox.com’s Max Fisher.) 

The Arab NATO

BY JAMES STAVRIDIS
APRIL 9, 2015

The new 40,000-strong Arab League “response force” is all about countering Iran. Get ready for tense times and strange bedfellows in the Middle East.

Syria is in flames, Iraq is at war, Libya is unraveling, and Yemen has basically disintegrated. While it might not be novel to say that the Middle East is once again beset by crises, the collective response of Middle Eastern nations to this unique set of overlapping and interwoven conflicts certainly is. The Arab League is creating a new “response force” of some 40,000 military professionals from a variety of nations, and will reportedly be formally adopted in a couple of weeks at the next summit. While not remotely at NATO levels of professional capability, this is a fascinating and important development in the world’s most troubled region.

The initial force will be composed of troops mostly from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan (and a smattering of others from Gulf nations), and will be based in Egypt. It will be commanded by a Saudi general, and will boast a structured and permanent command structure. The idea is to pull together a multinational force that could be ready to react to future crises, in the same way that several Arab nations are currently conducting operations today in Yemen. 

Central Asia: Can Secular Islam Survive?

By Erik S. Krausen
April 10, 2015

Quietly tucked away in the rugged region of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is often overlooked by Western policy analysts, treated as little more than an afterthought in the grand scheme of global affairs. However, with the Western world confronting the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism, it may be time to take a closer look at the history of Islam in the region. Uzbekistan in particular offers a glimpse into what a secular Islamist state could look like, as well as the way in which religious repression often breeds extremism, violence, and state insecurity.

The roots of secular Islam in Uzbekistan stretch back for more than a century. Arguably one of the most important movements in the region was that of the Jadids at the turn of the 20th century. The Jadidist movement later confronted the crushing authoritarianism of the Soviets, who used Central Asia for agricultural and extraction while neglecting its citizens. 

The World of 2050: More Muslims, Fewer Buddhists

April 9, 2015

If demographics truly are destiny, the world is destined to have nearly as many Muslims as Christians, fewer Buddhists, and a declining share of agnostics and atheists by the year 2050, according to a new demographic survey from Pew Research.

Between 2010 and 2050, Pew expects the global population to rise 35 percent to 9.3 billion people. During this period of global growth, the Muslim population will grow 73 percent, owing to "comparatively youthful populations with high fertility rates." The number of Christians will also rise, but at a slower 35 percent rate that keeps pace with the overall trend in global population growth.

The religion with the worst growth prospects is Buddhism, which is the only faith that Pew expects to actually lose adherents in absolute numbers by 2050.

The Revolution Lives!


APRIL 10, 2015 

Beyond all the talk of centrifuges and enrichment capacities, President Obama’s deal with Iran is really a giant gamble on the nature of the Iranian regime. The core question is: Are the men who control that country more like Lenin or are they more like Gorbachev? Do they still fervently believe in their revolution and would they use their postsanctions wealth to export it and destabilize their region? Or have they lost faith in their revolution? Will they use a deal as a way to rejoin the community of nations?

We got a big piece of evidence on those questions on Thursday. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered his first big response to the sort-of-agreed-upon nuclear framework. What did we learn?

First, we learned that Iran’s supreme leader still regards the United States as his enemy. The audience chanted “Death to America” during his speech, and Khamenei himself dismissed America’s “devilish” intentions. When a radical religious leader uses a word like “devilish,” he’s not using it the way it’s used in a chocolate-cake commercial. He means he thinks the United States is the embodiment of evil.

Could Air Power Stop Iran?

April 9, 2015

S’pose for the sake of discussion that war constitutes “our best option” in the long-running nuclear standoff with Iran. If so, proponents of military action sound remarkably tepid advocating it. They set expansive goals—terminating or setting back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear-weapons program—yet quail at the martial ways and means it would take to achieve goals of such sweep. If you balk at the means, chances are the ends will slip your grasp.

Think about it. Military strategy is a matter of seizing control of something, whether that something happens to be a parcel of ground, a group of people, or what have you. And it’s about keeping control long enough to win. Stationing superior armed might at key places on the map for as long as it takes, then, is how strategy succeeds. And since wars are ultimately about what transpires on land, soldiers or marines packing heat are the true arbiters of wartime control.

Tensions Between Iran and Saudi Arabia Deepen Over Conflict in Yemen


APRIL 9, 2015 

CAIRO — Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia deepened on Thursday as Iranian leaders lashed out with rare vehemence against the continuing Saudi air campaign in Yemen, even hurling personal insults at the young Saudi prince who is leading the fight.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, on Thursday denounced the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen as “a crime” and “a genocide,” while all but taunting Saudi Arabia that its war in Yemen was doomed to fail.

A regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia extended its bombing campaign for a 16th night in its effort to stop the Houthi movement and its allies from dominating Yemen. The Houthis nonetheless continued their advance, and aid groups warned of a compounding humanitarian catastrophe, particularly in the port city of Aden.

‘A QUARREL IN A FAR-AWAY COUNTRY': THE RISE OF A BUDZHAK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC? – ANALYSIS

By John R. Haines

Frustrating former Soviet republics’ ambitions of European Union and NATO accession underlies Russia’s instrumental use of territorial disputes—both historic and contrived ones—in the borderlands of its near abroad. As one recent commentary observed, “as the war in Ukraine erupted last spring, observers largely unfamiliar with the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe scrambled to understand the importance of the sub-national regions that suddenly waged great influence in the conflict between Russia and the West.”[1]

The dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the loss of its eastern and central European buffer between the Russian homeland and the NATO states of western European left Russia with a single European bridgehead—the Kaliningrad enclave—at a distance 1000 kilometers from Moscow.

Will Obama Strangle the American Energy Juggernaut?

April 10, 2015 

America is in the midst of an energy revolution, undergoing a metamorphosis from a major oil and gas importer to a top producer, but the federal government needs to get out of the way.

This was a major point of agreement at a luncheon held at the Center for the National Interest on April 8. The discussion, entitled “Will America’s Energy Revolution Suffer from Low Energy Prices,” featured Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, and J. Robinson West, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Board of Directors of CFTNI and of the Advisory Council of TNI. CFTNI’s executive director, Paul Saunders, moderated.

THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: A QUALIFIED FAILURE FOR MEXICO – ANALYSIS

By Clément Doleac

After Mexico’s 1982 economic crisis, the country abandoned its previous enthusiastically embraced Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) development strategy, inspired by the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations.[1] Since then, the Mexican economy has seen pounded by incredible surges of transformations.[2] Free trade agreements, massive privatization, and financialization have become new pillars of the economy, and have led to a complete reconfiguration of the country.[3] However, twenty years after the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the positive outcomes of this economic model adjustment have been little, and the expected economic boom never occurred.[4] In fact, poverty and inequality increased during the 1980s and the 1990s, and remains widespread.[5] NAFTA has predominantly benefited the U.S. and Canada: Mexico’s two main trading partners. Mexican authorities might now consider renegotiating NAFTA, and promote an alternative economic development policy, in order to overcome their persistent dependency on the U.S. economy, as well as improve their numerous deficiencies in various economic sectors.

America Gets Venezuela Wrong Again

April 9, 2015

SANTIAGO DE CHILE - It may be difficult to blame the United States for the way it runs its domestic affairs, but it's equally difficult to defend its foreign policy choices. For example, Washington is largely responsible for the regional war that seems about to erupt in the Middle East and North Africa, both because of what it has done and because of what it has failed to do. What this alternating action and inaction have won the United States is hostility from all sides - from Benjamin Netanyahu to ISIS.

In Latin America, the list of U.S. errors is long. In the 1970s, Washington helped install several right-wing military regimes that suppressed democracy and its attendant social and political liberties. In the next decade, covert U.S. intervention in Central America prolonged civil wars whose consequences can still be felt in the form of poverty and crime.

Obama Puts the Heat on Chavistas

April 10, 2015

On March 9, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order that qualifies Venezuela's regime as a threat to U.S. internal security and foreign policy. The order imposes asset freezes and visa bans against seven high-ranking officials, mostly from the military and the police, for their role in violations of human rights.

Caracas' reaction was predictable enough. The Venezuelan government and its regional allies (Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua at the forefront) swiftly dismissed the claim that Venezuela could be a threat to the United States and accused Obama of interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. Never mind that, as emphasized by Chile's former President Ricardo Lagos, "as regards human rights, there aren't frontiers, and wherever such rights are violated, someone has to cry foul". (Lagos was discussing Venezuela when he made the statement.)

Global Threats to Net Neutrality


APRIL 10, 2015 

Policy makers in Europe and India are considering rules that could raise prices for consumers. Here, a passenger uses the Internet from a smartphone on a train in Mumbai, India. CreditRafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that should prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. But policy makers in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and India, are considering very different kinds of rules that could hurt consumers and start-up Internet businesses.

Last month, the European Council, which is made up of the 28 national governments of European Union members, adopted a proposal that would allow telecommunications companies to charge Internet businesses like Netflix and Google fees to deliver their videos and other content to users faster than could smaller companies that cannot afford to pay for preferential treatment.

The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

APR. 9, 2015,

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on some very outlandish projects.

One of its stated mission goals is to cause “technological surprise” for America’s enemies. They want enemy fighters to get to the battlefield, look at what they’re facing off against, and go, “What the hell?”

These are some DARPA projects that could help make that a reality.
1. Airships that can haul 2 million pounds of gear

DARPA’s attempt at new airships was scrapped in 2006 due to technology shortcomings, but the project was revived in 2013. The goal is to create a craft that can carry up to two million pounds halfway around the world in five days.

This would allow units to quickly deploy with all of their gear. Tank units would be left out though, unless they suddenly had …

Australia: Net Piracy and Metadata

By Helen Clark
April 10, 2015

There’s always a new story about the internet in Australia, a G20 nation with a ranking of 44th in terms of speed, worldwide. Thailand is 28. Right now, the story is piracy, streaming services and metadata. They are, in fact, all issues in their own right but importantly connected.

Fist off, on Tuesday the makers of Dallas Buyers Club successfully petitioned Australia’s Federal Court to compel ISPs such as iiNet to hand over details of customers who allegedly illegally downloaded the film. In what has generally been called a “landmark” decision against piracy Justice Nye Perram ruled in favor of the studio and ruled that the ISPs must identify those who shared the film. There are some 4,726 names.

Turkmenistan Embassy Website Hacked

April 10, 2015

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,Turkmenistan’s embassy in Belarus’ website has been hacked by individuals claiming links to ISIS.

The brief RFE/RL report, based on a Belarusian science and technology news site – 42.tut.by – notes that the hacked site carried a black and white photograph of a man wearing a black mask, emblazoned with the ISIS logo, and holding an AK-47 before being taken offline.

A text above the photo said in English “Hacked by Abdellah Elmaghribi” and in Russian: “The website is in the service of the regime.”

A sentence below the photo read: “#Struck by Abdellah Elmaghribi And Moroccan Wolf. By ISLAMIC STATE HACKERS (El Moujahidine) Your Security Get Owned.”

How the Computer Got Its Revenge on the Soviet Union


APRIL 9, 2015 

In 1950, with the Cold War in full swing, Soviet journalists were looking desperately for something to help them fill their anti-American propaganda quota. In January of that year, a Time Magazine cover appeared that seemed to provide just the thing. It showed an early electromechanical computer called the Harvard Mark III, and boasted the cover line, “Can Man Build a Superman?”

Here was a target that checked the ideological boxes. In May of 1950 Boris Agapov, the science editor of the Soviet Literary Gazette, penned a scornful critique of the American public’s fascination with “thinking machines.” He scoffed at the capitalist’s “sweet dream” of replacing class-conscious workers and human soldiers—who could choose not to fight for the bourgeoisie—with obedient robots. He mocked the idea of using computers for processing economic information and lampooned American businessmen who “love information [like] American patients love patented pills.” 

Global Threats to Net Neutrality


APRIL 10, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that should prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. But policy makers in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and India, are considering very different kinds of rules that could hurt consumers and start-up Internet businesses.

Last month, the European Council, which is made up of the 28 national governments of European Union members, adopted a proposalthat would allow telecommunications companies to charge Internet businesses like Netflix and Google fees to deliver their videos and other content to users faster than could smaller companies that cannot afford to pay for preferential treatment.

Mars' dust-covered glacial belts may contain tons of water

By Brooks Hays 
Apr 9, 2015

New research shows Mars' buried glaciers contain enough ice to cover the entire planet with a coat three feet thick. The evidence also proves the dust-covered glacial belts to contain frozen water, not carbon dioxide.

Previous satellite images have suggested the presence of hefty glacial bands spanning the planet's northern and southern hemispheres just beneath the Martian surface. But until now, researchers had not been able to confirm the glacial chemical makeup.

But new radar observations, detailed in the latest issue of Nature, offer some clarity. By studying the movement of the frozen formations over time and comparing the glaciers' behavior with hydraulic models, scientists were able to confirm the presence of H2O.

NASA Joins Forces to Put Satellite Eyes on Threat to U.S. Freshwater

By Staff Writers
Apr 10, 2015

NASA has joined forces with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Geological Survey to transform satellite data designed to probe ocean biology into information that will help protect the American public from harmful freshwater algal blooms.

Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.

Can the Military Make a Prediction Machine?

APRIL 8, 2015

What could the military do if it could better understand the massive amounts of data that humanity creates, an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes every day? Could it predict aspects of the future?
Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ...Full Bio

If Pentagon funds can help create—even partially—a machine capable of understanding cause and effect, or causality, and do so on the scale of thousands of signals, data points, and possible conclusions, then, perhaps, big data will reach its real potential: a predictive tool that allows leaders to properly position soldiers, police forces, and humanitarian relief long before the action starts.

This Scrapyard Contains the World’s Second-Largest Air Force

April 8, 2015

The United States currently boasts 5,448 active aircraft, giving it the world's largest air force by far. Russia comes in second with what is generally estimated to be a bit less than half that number, but that's still fewer planes than America has stashed in its maintenance and regeneration facility. I visited what is affectionately known as "the Boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, to see what amounts to the world's second-largest air force.

"We have around 4,000 aircraft here," Public Affairs Officer Teresa Pittman told me, "though that number changes every day."

11 April 2015

Shoring Terror - the subterfuge

10 Apr , 2015

Looking at the infinite number of bilateral and multilateral declarations and agreements on cooperation about counter-terrorism over the years, one may surmise that the terrorists must be having a hard time. Yet, behold the US led 40 nation coalition against ISIS and the Saudi Arabia led 10 nation coalition attacking Yemen, with both having strong undercurrents of subterfuge. But then who would believe ‘Games Nation Play’ is misnomer. What does the individual terrorist want; gun power, money, women and a high (most take drugs). And, none of the terrorist organizations are short of any of these albeit some fake the drama of abjuring narcotics.

Netaji: The missing links

8 April 2015

Should the CIA be asked for files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance? 

A frail scholar’s single-handed effort in India is slowly pushing many to demand an answer to one of the nation’s biggest mysteries: Where did Subhas Chandra Bose disappear?

Anuj Dhar is painstakingly asking everyone to demand de-classification of 41 files on the Cambridge-educated freedom fighter who rejected Mahatma Gandhi's pacifism in favour of violent revolution. The files are holed up in a secret safe in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Dhar’s efforts have not yet borne fruit, with the critics comparing his demand to that of medieval boats that sailed only with a push from the wind, but sank in still waters. But Dhar, who works more than 12 hours a day on his mission, is confident of a hungry tide that will — eventually — push the boat to its destination.

At End of Year One, Modi Fights to Maintain His Image

April 09, 2015

As he celebrates the end of his first year in office, Narendra Modi fights aversion to the economic reforms he championed on the campaign trail. 

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in tow, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held its annual national executive meeting in Bangalore last week, taking stock of the party’s performance over the last eleven months. But pressing matters also faced the BJP, as it determined how to respond to the Congress Party’s push on land acquisition reform. That debate assumes significance as perceptions of Modi, in contrast to the expectations that the prime minister generated in the run up to last year’s campaign, continue to lag.

PAKISTAN AND YEMEN WAR: PERILS OF JOINING SAUDI-LED COALITION – ANALYSIS

By Abdul Basit

Saudi Arabia’s demand to Pakistan to join its coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen has put Islamabad in a catch-22 situation. Pakistan is caught between joining the Saudi alliance and not antagonising its neighbour Iran. Joining the Saudi coalition will have long-term political, economic and security repercussions for Pakistan.

The Pakistani parliament met on 6 April 2015 to debate the merits of joining the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen. The session was convened after Saudi Arabia requested Pakistan to join the Saudi coalition. Before that a high-level Pakistani delegation also visited Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have asked Pakistan for aircrafts, naval vessels and ground troops. This has put Pakistan in a catch-22 situation. Pakistan is walking a tightrope balancing its alliance with Saudi Arabia against the possibility of taking part in active combat in Yemen that can antagonise its neighbour Iran.

How Sri Lanka Won the War

By Peter Layton
April 09, 2015

How to win a civil war in a globalized world where insurgents skillfully exploit offshore resources? With most conflicts now being such wars, this is a question many governments are trying to answer. Few succeed, with one major exception being Sri Lanka where, after 25 years of civil war the government decisively defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and created a peace that appears lasting. This victory stands in stark contrast to the conflicts fought by well-funded Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. How did Sri Lanka succeed against what many considered the most innovative and dangerous insurgency force in the world? Three main areas stand out.

First, the strategic objective needs to be appropriate to the enemy being fought. For the first 22 years of the civil war the government’s strategy was to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table using military means. Indeed, this was the advice foreign experts gave as the best and only option. In 2006, just before the start of the conflict’s final phase, retired Indian Lieutenant General AS Kalkat in 2006 declared, “There is no armed resolution to the conflict. The Sri Lanka Army cannot win the war against the Lankan Tamil insurgents.”

Could Japan and South Korea Be Hit by 1,000 Missiles?

April 09, 2015

Yesterday, the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington D.C. published a compelling report entitled “The Future of North Korean Nuclear Delivery Systems,” arguing that North Korea’s missiles have sufficient reliability and range to hit principle targets in Japan and South Korea. The authors of the report, however, are less certain that Pyongyang’s ICBM’s will be capable of hitting the continental United States, given various technical hurdles that would need to be overcome first.

“North Korea’s current delivery systems consist of about 1,000 ballistic missiles and a small number of light bombers able to reach most targets in South Korea and Japan,” the authors write.