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Showing posts from February 3, 2019

Biotechnology and Human Augmentation: Issues for National Security Practitioners

Strategy Bridge     February 5, 2019 Mick Ryan and Therese Keane Over the last decade, military theorists and authors in the fields of future warfare and strategy have examined in detail the potential impacts of an ongoing revolution in information technology. There has been a particular focus on the impacts of automation and artificial intelligence on military and national security affairs. This attention on silicon-based disruption has nonetheless meant that sufficient attention may not have been paid to other equally profound technological developments. One of those developments is the field of biotechnology. There have been some breathtaking achievements in the biological realm over the last decade. Human genome sequencing has progressed from a multi-year and multi-billion dollar undertaking to a much cheaper and quicker process, far outstripping Moore's Law . Just as those concerned with national security affairs must monitor disruptive silicon-based technologies, leaders

Jammu & Kashmir has more freedom than Pakistan, says US report The report also labelled PoK as “not free” in terms of freedom and the functioning of local institutes. By  Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury , ET Bureau | Updated: Feb 08, 2019, 09.50 AM IST The US was rated 86 on the index, closely followed by India at 75. US-based independent watchdog  Freedom House  has asserted that the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir enjoys more freedom than  Pakistan  and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir ( PoK ) contrary to allegations levelled by Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan. In its recently-released annual report, Freedom in the World 2019, the watchdog said Jammu & Kashmir scored 49 on the 100-point Freedom House Index, while Pakistan scored 39 and PoK a paltry 28. The report also labelled PoK as “not free” in terms of freedom enjoyed by its residents and the functioning of local institutes. ADVERTISEMENT The US was r

Trading with Iran via the special purpose vehicle: How it can work Iran sanctions mini-series Ellie Geranmayeh, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj 07th February, 2019 AFP  - © On 31 January, Germany, France and Britain announced the establishment of a special purpose vehicle aimed at facilitating legitimate trade with Iran Following weeks of speculation, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany (the E3) have formally registered a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to help facilitate trade with Iran – trade that the return of US sanctions has significantly hampered. This comes after months of technical coordination between member states led by the European External Action Service. While reactions in Tehran have been mixed, this is a significant demonstration of Europe’s commitment to preserving the Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from it. Follow the ECFR sanctions series: In this series of commentaries, ECFR assesses the likely impact of US sanctions on economic ties between Europe and Iran, covering strategical

PAKISTAN: Govt to pay Rs3.6 trillion on defence, debt servicing

Govt to pay Rs3.6 trillion on defence, debt servicing By  Shahbaz Rana Published: February 7, 2019 Finance Minister Asad Umar. PHOTO:AFP ISLAMABAD:  The federal government would pay a whopping Rs3.6 trillion on account of defence and debt servicing that is equal to 68.2% of the current fiscal year’s revised budget, the centre on Wednesday sensitised the provinces about the grave fiscal situation that has thrown the country into a debt trap. After excluding debt servicing and defence related obligations, the net federal revenues for fiscal year 2018-19 are negative Rs632 billion, Federal Secretary Finance Arif Ahmad Khan briefed the four provinces during the first meeting of the ninth National Finance Commission (NFC). The NFC meeting included a detailed presentation by the federal finance secretary, focusing on the country’s overall current fiscal position. The federal government’s total gross revenues are estimated at Rs5.5 trillion. Out of this sum, the provinces will get Rs

Venezuela, e-voting and Western money

7 February 2019 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* This week, the disinformation world’s  attention was focused on Venezuela. Venezuela has dominated Russian portals, Russian newspapers and also Twitter this week, as analysis from our new data tool shows.  A link to a story about the French President supporting the opposition in Venezuela but not at home received more than 4500 engagements on social media. Ignoring the fact that the last  presidential elections in Venezuela were not free , fair or credible and also lacked democratic legitimacy,  this is how the social media saw things : According to the BBC,   this account has been pushing many conspiracy theories  about Syria. It boasts 154 000 followers and the aforementioned tweet received more than 1300 retweets and in excess of 2100 likes. The pro-Kremlin TV channels also followed the coordinated narrative to  create a link between Venezuela and France .   Amongst links popular on Twitter  and created by pro-Kremlin media outlets was als

Your City Is Not a Brand

Corporations are trying to take over our civic identity. Don't let them. By  Dan Hancox | Jan 18 2019, 7:15pm Photo by Dan Hancox In 2019, everything has its price, its brand, its audience, and its overpaid marketing consultants – including places. “Place-branding” is a rapidly growing industry, and a practice beloved of property developers, tourist boards and councils. The Local Government Association  describes  it as a “storytelling tool” used to enhance an area’s competitiveness, and attract interest from investors, property developers and regeneration wonks; all the cool kids. They actually tell councils how to deploy “the tool that you need to successfully tell the story of your place” in  nine  easy steps. Place-branding is avowedly not just “a logo and a strapline”, they say. It’s about a strong, optimistic narrative, about authenticity, about a “range of assets” across multimedia. Following a decade of ruinous cuts to their budgets under the Tories, councils are d

China runs into Belt and Road barriers in South Asia

Illustration by Eric Chow ASIA INSIGHT Nikkie Countries try to slow Beijing's advance without provoking hostility MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR, Asia regional correspondentFEBRUARY 05, 2019 16:12 JST COLOMBO -- For about three months, confidants of Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih have been holed up in an oceanfront building in Male, sifting through mountains of documents to answer an urgent question: How much money, exactly, does the region's smallest country owe China? After years of pushing into South Asia with multibillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure projects, China is encountering real pushback. Larger nations, too, are having second thoughts and signaling to Beijing that it will no longer be business as usual. In the Maldives, the uncertainty over the obligations stems from a frosty exchange between Chinese Ambassador Zhang Lizhong and Mohamed Nasheed, a former president and now an adviser to Solih. It reportedly happened a few weeks before Solih's inauguratio


Jan 31, 2019   by   Zahid Shahab Ahmed ,  Silada (Lydia) Rojratanakiat  ,  Soravis Taekasem (Sora) “Higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey” is a popular slogan used by Beijing and Islamabad to describe diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. China, however, seeks to go beyond the state-to-state relations by reaching the hearts of the people in Pakistan–a country that is central to its mega  Belt and Road Initiative  (BRI) through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Since the start of the CPEC, China has invested heavily in public diplomacy to promote its goodwill in Pakistan. Through analysis of the CPEC in the Twittersphere, we argue that official sources representing China and Pakistan have been using Twitter as a tool to promote positive aspects of the CPEC. The ubiquity of the Internet and the immediacy of social media have made it more difficult for countries to use public diplomacy to manage international