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International press review Extrema Ratio - 13 April

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.


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China

Fox News

Rebekah Koffler

The US needs to be smart and not hit the brakes on AI development as China and Russia speed ahead. An open letter recently signed by Elon Musk, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, and more than a thousand other prominent people set off alarm bells on advances in artificial intelligence (AI). The letter urged the world’s leading labs to hit the brakes on this powerful technology for six months because of the "profound risks to society and humanity."

Fusion reactor, CAS: "The experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST), or the Chinese "artificial sun," achieved a steady-state high confinement plasma operation for 403 seconds on Wednesday, a key step toward the development of a fusion reactor."

Global Time

The three-day 10th World Radio Detection and Ranging Expo (World Radar Expo) kicked off on Thursday in Beijing, where top Chinese defense firms displayed their answers in countering some of the world's most challenging air threats including drones and stealth aircraft.

Xinhua

A set of revised rules regarding military recruitment has been released by the State Council and the Central Military Commission, aiming to provide institutional guarantees for consolidating national defense and building strong armed forces.
The new regulation, with 74 articles in 11 chapters, focuses on recruiting more high-caliber soldiers, standardizing and optimizing conscription procedures, and improving the system's efficiency. The document will come into effect on May 1, 2023.

Reuters

China's exports unexpectedly surged in March, with officials flagging rising demand for electric vehicles, but analysts cautioned the improvement partly reflects suppliers catching up with unfulfilled orders after last year's COVID-19 disruptions.

Exports in March shot up 14.8% from a year ago, snapping five straight months of declines and stunning economists who predicted a 7.0% fall in a Reuters poll.

Digital yuan use set to expand on PBoC push The Star China is working to expand the application scenarios of the digital yuan while paving the way for cross-border payments in the e-CNY, a process that can help facilitate the country’s economic recovery, experts say.

People's Day on line

  • Macron’s Taiwan remarks expose EU divisions on China. Analysts criticise Macron for undermining EU efforts to formulate a coherent China policy. Leila Abboud, Sam Fleming and Henry Foy. Financial Times.

Macron stands by divisive remarks on Taiwan during state visit to the Netherlands. Patrick Wintour. The Guardian.
German foreign minister to embark on post-Macron ‘damage control’ trip to China. Annalena Baerbock will aim to reassert a common EU policy towards Beijing during visit. Riham Alkousaa, Andreas Rinke and Andrew Gray. Reuters.
  • Iran in talks with China, Russia to acquire sanctioned missile fuel. Tehran has reportedly held secret negotiations with officials and SOEs from both countries, hoping to replenish Iran’s supply of ammonium perchlorate, or AP, a chemical compound used to propel ballistic missiles. Matthew Karnitschnig. Politico.

  • Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, is leading a delegation (AP) of businesspeople and local officials on a two-day state visit to China, during which Beijing and Brasília are expected to sign at least twenty bilateral trade and investment deals. Lula has said he will also urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to support the possibility of a peace deal in Ukraine. While China is Brazil’s biggest export market, relations between the countries became strained under the administration of Brazil’s last president, Jair Bolsonaro.

  • Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrives in China for four-day trip. Lula hopes to reset ties strained under the Bolsonaro administration. Shi Jiangtao. South China Morning Post.

The friction points in Brazil-China relations. Leland Lazarus. The Diplomat.
  • Chinese supreme court judge jailed for 12 years for corruption. Meng Xiang, a former director of the Supreme People’s Court’s enforcement bureau, admitted to accepting CNY 22.7 million (US$3.3 million) in bribes over two decades. Sylvie Zhuang.South China Morning Post.

  • China’s Hamburg port deal at risk after German security authorities declare it ‘critical infrastructure’. Chancellor Olaf Sholz pushed for Chinese state-owned company COSCO to acquire a minority stake in the Tollerort terminal. Intervention by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security means the deal will now need to be reassessed. Hans von der Burchard and Gabriel Rinaldi. Politico.

  • As U.S. tries to Isolate China, German companies move closer. Volkswagen and chemical company BASF announce new investment plans in Chinese market. Melissa Eddy. The New York Times.

  • Chinese exports surge by nearly 15% in March. Chinese economy defies expectations, fuelled by sales of electric vehicles, lithium and solar batteries. William Langley and Andy Lin. Financial Times.

  • Chinese export restrictions on critical minerals threaten to drive up the cost of clean-energy transition. OECD report suggests that surging demand and constraints are putting pressure on the price and availability of commodities such as copper and lithium. Harry Dempsey. Financial Times.

  • IMF official calls on major economies to bring government borrowing under control. China and the US were the two main drivers of the global increase in public debt. Chris Giles. Financial Times.

  • Guizhou authorities ask Beijing for help with urgent debt-relief work. An article published on the provincial government’s website said it is ‘impossible’ to independently solve local-level debt. The article has since been removed. Ji Siqi. South China Morning Post.

  • How China changed the game for countries in default. A long read looking at how Chinese lending has disrupted debt-relief programmes for insolvent economies. Robin Wigglesworth and Sun Yu. Financial Times.

  • The men and policies determining China’s future. A go-to guide on the changes made during this year’s Two Sessions. Susan St. Denis. The China Project.

  • Why China could dominate the next big advance in batteries. Chinese universities are leading research into sodium battery technologies. Keith Bradsher. The New York Times.

USA

Foreign Affairs

  • The leaker of the intelligence reports may have been a young man who worked on a military base, according to his online friends. The potential leaker went by the online alias “OG” and controlled an online chatroom for about two dozen, mostly men and boys interested in guns, military gear, and God. The motivation for the leaks appears to have been to impress the group, which one member described as “very close to each other, like a tightknit family.” The group members did not share OG’s real name and location. Shane Harris and Samuel Oakford report for the Washington Post.

  • The Biden administration aims to expand how it monitors social media sites and chatrooms after U.S. intelligence agencies failed to spot the leaked intelligence reports, according to a senior administration official and a congressional official briefed on the matter. An official said that the administration is considering expanding the universe of online sites that intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities track. The leaks have also raised new questions about how sensitive intelligence information is handled and whether the pool of people allowed to access it needs to be scaled back. Carol E. Lee, Ken Dilanian, and Dan De Luce report for NBC News.

  • The State Department is increasing efforts to push against disinformation campaigns by helping Balkan governments strengthen their capability to identify and shut down Russian and Chinese disinformation sites on their territory. These efforts mark a shift in focus from countering Middle East militants to “great power” competition with Russia and China. In this competition, “We are massively behind,” said James Rubin, the envoy leading the Global Engagement Center at the State Department tasked with countering foreign propaganda and disinformation abroad. Michael R. Gordon and Dustin Volz report for the Wall Street Journal.

Senator calls for investigation after Reuters facial recognition report Reuters Lena Masri U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has called for the Biden administration to carry out an investigation after a Reuters report showed how Russian authorities are using facial recognition to curb dissent with the aid of U.S. technology.

U.S. House to vote on bill to address potential Huawei, ZTE threats Reuters David Shepardson The House of Representatives is set to vote next week on a bill to crack down on Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE that have been deemed security threats by the U.S. government.

State Department, Congress working on formal program for US cyber aid The Record by Recorded Future Martin Matishak The U.S. State Department is in active talks with Congress about creating official channels for helping foreign nations prevent and recover from cyberattacks and develop emerging technologies, America's top digital diplomat said Wednesday.

White House proposes stronger abortion data privacy protections CyberScoop Tonya Riley The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a suite of proposals that would shore up protections for sensitive health data related to reproductive health care, a move meant to protect people seeking legal abortions from criminal prosecution by more restrictive states.

Biden administration is trying to figure out how to audit AI The Washington Post Cat Zakrzewski Agencies across the federal government are taking steps to regulate artificial intelligence, seeking to promote safety and minimize the technology’s harms, as the overnight explosion of AI tools such as ChatGPT spurs scrutiny from policymakers around the globe.

The U.S. cracked a $3.4 billion crypto heist—and Bitcoin’s anonymity The Wall Street Journal Robert McMillan Federal authorities are making arrests and seizing funds with the help of new tools to identify criminals through cryptocurrency transactions.

A plan to ban TikTok in Montana is a preview for the rest of the country The New York Times David McCabe Lawmakers in Washington are pushing for an outright ban of TikTok on American soil. Montana might beat them to it. The state’s Legislature is further along than any other body in the United States to passing a ban of the popular Chinese-owned video app, which has faced scrutiny for whether it is handing sensitive data about Americans to Beijing. A Montana bill to block the app was introduced in February, and the State Senate approved it last month. It is expected to face a vote in the State House as soon as this week and has a strong chance of passing.

  • Banning TikTok could weaken personal cybersecurity The Conversation Robert Olson TikTok is not be the first app to be scrutinized over the potential exposure of U.S. user data, but it is the first widely used app that the U.S. government has proposed banning over privacy and security concerns. So far, the discussion has focused on whether TikTok should be banned. There has been little discussion of whether TikTok could be banned, and there has been almost no discussion of the effects on cybersecurity that a TikTok ban could cause, including encouraging users to sidestep built-in security mechanisms to bypass a ban and access the app.

Lauren C. Williams AI will help malicious actors "to be better or faster," says the spy agency's cybersecurity director.

IRI

More than ever, foreign authoritarian actors from China and Russia, are taking an increasingly aggressive approach to exerting influence in democracies around the world. IRI’s Countering Foreign Authoritarian Influence (CFAI) programming equips democracies to push back through cutting-edge research, global convening, and equipping on-the-ground actors with the resources to creatively demand accountability and transparency from their governments.

Americas

Canada: Pro-Russian cyberattacks strike at PMO, Senate websites The Globe and Mail Steven Chase Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday he was aware of an apparent Russian cyberattack on the websites of the Prime Minister’s Office and Senate, and an earlier attack on a Canadian energy company, but said they didn’t cause any physical damage.

  • Western Hemisphere Rights Court Calls for El Salvador to Restore Due Process. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for the restoration of all rights (AP) suspended under the country’s emergency anti-gang decree, which has been used to detain more than sixty-seven thousand people without giving them access to lawyers. Human rights groups have denounced the policy, in place since March 2022, citing arbitrary detentions and prison overcrowding.

  • China/Uruguay: Uruguayan Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo announced that he will travel to China (MercoPress) in the coming days to seek a free trade deal.

Pacific Rim

  • North Korean Missile Launch Triggers Brief Evacuation Warning in Japan. The Japanese government told residents of Hokkaido island to seek shelter (Kyodo) after North Korea’s test launch today. It withdrew the warning soon after, as the missile did not land in Japan’s territory.

  • North Korea today conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in a month, possibly testing a new, more mobile, harder-to-detect missile for the first time. The missile may have been its first solid-fuel ICBM, one of the high-tech weapons North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to build. Japan briefly urged residents on a northern island to take shelter, indicating its vigilance over North Korea’s evolving missile threats. Hyung-Jin Kim, Kim Tong-Hyung and Mari Yamaguchi report for AP News.

South & Central Asia

Indian government gives itself the power to “fact-check” and delete social media posts Rest of World Adnan Bhat The Indian government on April 6 announced a state-run fact-checking unit that will have sweeping powers to label any piece of information related to the government as “fake, false or misleading” and have it removed from social media. The country has tweaked its tech rules that now require platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to take down content flagged by the fact-checking body. Internet service providers are also expected to block URLs to such content. Failure to comply could result in the platforms losing safe harbor protection that safeguards them from legal action against any content posted by their users, said India’s minister of information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

  • ASEAN Condemns Myanmar Army Air Strike That Hit Village. Tuesday’s attack targeted a ceremony that Myanmar’s parallel government held for one of its militias, killing dozens of people. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has made little progress (Al Jazeera) in its efforts to bring peace to Myanmar after the country’s 2021 coup.

  • India: Authorities launched a probe (Reuters) into alleged tax violations by the BBC. It comes two months after the broadcaster aired a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Taiwan

  • Will this man become Taiwan's next president? Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party on Wednesday nominated VP William Lai as its candidate in the January 2024 presidential election. Lai is widely viewed as a stand-in for term-limited President Tsai Ing-wen, reelected by a landslide in 2020. That means a tough line on China, which has made Tsai a darling in the West and reviled by Beijing. Lai used to support Taiwanese independence openly but has since moderated his position to align with the DPP's: We don’t need to formally break with the mainland because we’re already de-facto independent. It's unclear who Lai will face, since the opposition Kuomintang Party — which, officially, is not pro-China but favors closer ties with China than the DPP — has yet to pick its candidate. (Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that makes iPhones in China for Apple, is mulling another run.) The vote will be Taiwan's most closely watched presidential election since 1996, when the self-ruled island ended decades of authoritarian rule. China responded to the democratic vibes by flexing its then-weak military muscles … until the US made it back off. This time, though, expect major Chinese fireworks if Beijing's candidate doesn't come out on top.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron clarified his position on Taiwan, saying it had not changed and that he favored the current “status quo” following Western backlash after his China tour. French “policy is constant and has not changed,” Macron told a news conference during a state visit to the Netherlands. Michel Rose reports for Reuters.

  • China said it would ban vessels from an area north of Taiwan on Sunday due to the possibility of falling rocket debris, China’s maritime safety administration said today, without providing details.Reuters reports.

Janes

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed weapons and equipment – including multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs), air-defence missiles, command vehicles, and ammunition supply vehicles – along the Taiwan Strait.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the weapons and equipment are deployed in a combined-arms brigade under the PLA 71st Group Army of Eastern Theatre Command (ETC), which is in charge of dealing with conflicts around the Taiwan Strait.

Janes assesses the combined-arms brigade as the 35th Heavy Combined-Arms Brigade of the PLA 71st Group Army.

The MND said these new weapons and equipment feature “strong manoeuvrability, quick response, and high strike accuracy, able to carry out various operational tasks including fire assault, fire support, and fire blockade, in different terrains such as plain, plateau, and desert”.

FDD

The recent meeting between Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) brought predictable threats of “consequences” from Beijing, as China launched military drills off Taiwan’s East coast. A visit last year by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led to China conducting naval exercises that simulated a blockade of the island state. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has pledged the “reunification of the motherland,” and the only debate now is whether this will be attempted through military force or bloodless coercion.

Australia

Twitter forced to remove harmful content aimed at Brittany Higgins and partner The Guardian Christopher Knaus Australia’s eSafety commissioner deployed tough new cyber abuse powers for the first time to force Twitter to remove severely harmful content targeting Brittany Higgins and her partner, David Sharaz, last year.

State police have acquired Chinese drones banned in US and UK The Australian Ellen Whinnett State police forces across Australia have acquired the same Chinese drones blacklisted by the US due to fears they are linked back to the Chinese military.

At least 148,000 Tasmanians affected by data hack Sky News At least 148,000 Tasmanians may have had personal data accessed by Russian hackers, according to the state’s Premier Jeremy Rockliff.

AIIA urges govt to lift game on AI as industry frustration grows InnovationAus Justin Hendry The Albanese government should use the upcoming federal Budget to lift its focus on artificial intelligence, including by “fast-tracking” millions in grants that have been locked up for two years, according to the Australian Information Industry Association.

We’re uniquely placed to break China’s minerals control: Madeleine King The Australian Ben Packham In a speech to be delivered to a critical minerals dialogue with key partners on Thursday, Ms King will say “highly concentrated” critical minerals supply chains present a strategic challenge for Australia and its allies but given Australia’s vast critical minerals resources, “it also presents a once in a generation opportunity for Australia”. “Working together, like-minded partners can build new, diverse, resilient and sustainable supply chains as part of a global hedge against concentration,” Ms King will tell the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Darwin Dialogue on critical minerals. The “1.5 track” ASPI dialogue will bring together experts and government officials from Australia, the US, India, Japan and The Netherlands.

  • China may be cut from critical minerals deals Australian Financial Review Peter Ker and Elouise Fowler Resources Minister Madeleine King says “like-minded” foreign investors will be welcome to invest in Australian critical minerals projects, as those developing the next generation of Australian mines warn against excluding China. “Market concentration leads to fragility, volatility, and unreliability of key materials, like critical minerals and rare earths. This creates a strategic challenge for Australia, and for our allies,” Ms King will tell the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Darwin Dialogue.

Does TikTok really pose a national security risk for Australia? Australian Financial Review Max Mason Fergus Ryan, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, says the national security concerns around TikTok being used for surveillance by the Chinese government are most acute when it comes to government devices.

The Strategist Chang-Tai Hsieh and Jason Hsu The stern warning issued by China ahead of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s tour of the United States and Central America have highlighted the threat that intensifying Chinese pressure poses to the island’s security and stability. But the warnings also underscored the degree to which the ongoing US efforts to ‘onshore’ semiconductor manufacturing could cripple Taiwan’s economy at a critical time.

Ukraine - Russia

Foreign Affairs

After just over a year, the war in Ukraine has turned out far better for Ukraine than most predicted. Russia’s effort to subjugate its neighbor has failed. Ukraine remains an independent, sovereign, functioning democracy, holding on to roughly 85 percent of the territory it controlled before Russia’s 2014 invasion. At the same time, it is difficult to feel sanguine about where the war is headed. The human and economic costs, already enormous, are poised to climb as both Moscow and Kyiv ready their next moves on the battlefield. The Russian military’s numerical superiority likely gives it the ability to counter Ukraine’s greater operational skill and morale, as well as its access to Western support. Accordingly, the most likely outcome of the conflict is not a complete Ukrainian victory but a bloody stalemate.

Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure cause internet outages, cutting off a valuable wartime tool CyberScoop Elias Groll Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022 and into the first quarter of 2023, a series of Russian strikes on local energy infrastructure caused internet outages in cities ranging from Odessa to Kharkiv. On Jan. 27, Russian airstrikes targeted Odessa’s internet infrastructure, resulting in a partial outage that lasted some 18 hours. On March 9, Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy and distribution networks caused disruptions in internet access in Kharkiv that lasted nearly two days.

Leaked US intel: Russia operatives claimed new ties with UAE Associated Press Nomaan Merchant, Ellen Knickmeyer and Jon Gambrell U.S. spies caught Russian intelligence officers boasting that they had convinced the oil-rich United Arab Emirates “to work together against US and UK intelligence agencies,” according to a purported American document posted online as part of a major U.S. intelligence breach.

Patrick Tucker

A new Russian law allowing draft notices to be sent electronically could be a first step in a new effort to send hundreds of thousands of fresh troops to Ukraine. But Kremlin watchers say Russian leader Vladimir Putin would find it politically impossible to draft that many people—and his military can’t train so many anyway.

  • Russia’s digital draft. If you’re a young male citizen of Russia, it just got harder for you to hide from the war in Ukraine. The State Duma, Russia’s parliament, approved legislation on Tuesday that allows the government to send a military summons online instead of serving the papers in person. The upper house swiftly passed it into law on Wednesday. “The summons is considered received from the moment it is placed in the personal account of a person liable for military service,” explains the chairman of the Duma’s defense committee, though the Kremlin insists no large-scale draft is imminent. If the person summoned fails to report for service within 20 days of the date listed on the summons, the state can suspend his driver’s license, deny him the right to travel abroad, and make it impossible for him to get a loan. The database that provides names of potential draftees is assembled from medical, educational, and residential records, as well as insurance and tax data. Thousands of young Russians have already fled their country. Many more may soon try to join them.

  • Russia’s ‘Near Shoot-Down’ of British Jet More Serious Than Originally Reported Defense officials from the United Kingdom had reported a “potentially dangerous” incident involving Russian fire near a British surveillance jet in September, but recently leaked U.S. intelligence and interviews with U.S. officials confirmed that the attack nearly downed the aircraft and could have amounted to an act of war. U.S. defense officials told the New York Times that the Russian pilot mistakenly believed he had permission to fire.

  • Ukraine: Kyiv launched an investigation (AP) into a video circulating online that appears to show Russian-speaking men beheading a Ukrainian soldier. The video’s authenticity and circumstances are still unverified. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces would be held responsible for the killing.

  • “Negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023 in all considered scenarios,” according to leaked intelligence reports. A stalemate is described in the document as “the most likely scenario.” A stalemate could lead to a “full mobilization” of Ukraine’s remaining eligible population. In a stalemate, Ukraine would probably intensify its reliance on strikes in Russian territory, the document says, which some U.S. officials fear could compel Russian President Vladimir Putin to escalate the conflict or prompt China to provide lethal support to Russia. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.

  • The United States believes the U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is too willing to accommodate Russian interests, according to leaked intelligence reports which suggest the U.S. is spying on the world’s leading diplomat. One leaked document focuses on the Black Sea grain deal, brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July following fears of a global food crisis. To preserve the deal, “Guterres emphasized his efforts to improve Russia’s ability to export,” the document says, “even if that involves sanctioned Russian entities or individuals.” Guterres’ efforts were “undermining broader efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its actions in Ukraine,” the document said. Paul Adams reports for BBC News.

  • Russia’s military leadership is distracted by infighting over the war in Ukraine and grappling with the outsize role played by the paramilitary organization Wagner Group, according to leaked intelligence reports. According to the leaks, Valeriy Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s General Staff, reportedly ordered a stop to munitions supplies to Wagner even as it suffered significant losses in Bakhmut. The leaks further suggest that the Kremlin had to intervene to ease tensions between Wagner and the Russian military. Matthew Luxmoore and Jared Malsin report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • U.S.-made smart bombs are being jammed by Russia in Ukraine, causing them to miss their targets, according to leaked intelligence reports and confirmed by a Defense Department official. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.

  • Serbia agreed to supply arms to Kyiv and may have sent them already, according to leaked intelligence reports, despite Serbia’s professed neutrality in the war and its refusal to sanction Russia over the invasion. “Serbia did not, nor will it be selling weapons to the Ukrainian nor the Russian side, nor to countries surrounding that conflict,” Serbia’s Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said. The leaks come just over a month after documents posted in a pro-Russia channel on Telegram purportedly showed the shipment by a Serbian arms maker of ground-to-ground rockets to Kyiv in November. Vucic called those allegations “a notorious lie.” Jonathan Landay and Aleksandar Vasovic report for Reuters.

  • The United States yesterday imposed sanctions on at least four Turkey-based entities it said violated U.S. export controls and helped Russia’s war effort. A U.S. administration official said the sanctions targeted entities and people in Turkey’s maritime and trade sectors that were “primarily” Russia-owned or Russia-linked. Jonathan Spicer reports for Reuters.

  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal yesterday directly appealed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for U.S. fighter jets and longer-range missiles in its fight against Russia. While Austin did not comment on the request, he did commit to investing in the U.S. defense industrial base to ramp up the production of weapons sent to Ukraine. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

Europe

ChatGPT can resume in Italy if meets data watchdog's demands Reuters Evira Pollina Italy's data protection agency set out a list of demands on Wednesday to address its concerns over ChatGPT and allow the chatbot service run by OpenAI to resume in the country.

German builder of yachts and military vessels hit by ransomware attack The Record by Recorded Future Daryna Antoniuk A German manufacturer of military vessels and luxury yachts reportedly suffered a ransomware attack over the Easter holiday. The attack brought large parts of Bremen-based Lürssen’s shipyard operations to a standstill, according to local news outlet Buten un Binnen, which first reported the incident.

  • Germany is reviewing its decision to allow Chinese shipping conglomerate Cosco to buy a stake in a container terminal in Hamburg port after it emerged that the terminal had been classified as critical infrastructure. According to Germany’s law on foreign investment, such a classification gives the economy ministry greater powers to block acquisitions by companies from non-EU states. Katharina Dröge, head of the Green Party’s parliamentary group, said, “We must not allow ourselves to become dependent on authoritarian states that can blackmail us.” Guy Chazan reports for the Financial Times.

The Spectator

The last month or so has been an active time in Chinese-western relations. Early March saw President Xi threaten the US with conflict unless Washington stopped trying to ‘suppress’ his country; shortly afterwards he flew to Moscow to reaffirm his ‘no-limits’ friendship with President Putin. Next, Taiwan’s President Tsai travelled to the US to meet with lawmakers there. In response, Beijing ordered massive military incursions into Taiwan’s sovereign waters, announced that it would be able to inspect Taiwanese shipping, and briefly cut off the island using ships and aircraft in what many took to be a dress-rehearsal for a blockade.

Middle East anda Africa

  • Kenyan M.P.s have voted to amend a defense agreement with the U.K. so that U.K. soldiers can be tried for murder, among other offenses. The amendment was madefollowing allegations that U.K. troops training in Kenya committed severe crimes. The amended deal will now go to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence for further negotiation with their British counterparts. BBC News reports.

  • Ghana Becomes First Country to Approve ‘High Efficacy’ Malaria Vaccine. The new vaccine developed by the University of Oxford is the first to exceed (The Guardian) a World Health Organization (WHO) target of 75 percent efficacy, though the WHO has yet to recommend the jab for widespread use. In Ghana, an estimated 12,500 people died from malaria in 2021.

  • Sudan: A paramilitary group has mobilized troops (Al Jazeera) at several locations around the country, the army said. Tensions between paramilitaries and the army have hampered a December 2022 agreement to work toward restoring a civilian-led government in the wake of Sudan’s 2021 coup.

  • Bahrain, Qatar Restore Diplomatic Ties. Bahrain and three of its Arab allies launched a diplomatic blockade against Qatar in 2017, and Manama is the last of the governments to reestablish ties with Doha (AFP).

  • Saudi Arabia/Syria: The countries’ foreign ministers held talks (AFP) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, about ending the Syrian civil war and resolving tensions between Syria and other Arab nations, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said. A delegation from Iran, which recently restored ties with Saudi Arabia, was also visiting the city.

Big Tech

NPR quits Twitter after being falsely labeled as 'state-affiliated media' NPR David Folkenflik NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform. In explaining its decision, NPR cited Twitter's decision to first label the network "state-affiliated media," the same term it uses for propaganda outlets in Russia, China and other autocratic countries.

Musk says unaware why Twitter India pulled posts on BBC documentary critical of Modi Reuters Rama Venkat Elon Musk said on Wednesday that he did not know "what exactly happened" when Twitter took down content related to a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year, adding that some rules related to social media content were "quite strict" in India.

Elon Musk is using Wikipedia to determine which media outlets are ‘government funded’ Gizmodo Jody Serrano Twitter CEO Elon Musk apparently trusts Wikipedia more than any expert or audited report and uses it to make crucial decisions about press freedom.

Artificial Intelligence

‘I didn’t give permission’: Do AI’s backers care about data law breaches? The Guardian Alex Hern and Dan Milmo Cutting-edge artificial intelligence systems can help you escape a parking fine, write an academic essay, or fool you into believing Pope Francis is a fashionista. But the virtual libraries behind this breathtaking technology are vast – and there are concerns they are operating in breach of personal data and copyright laws.

AI’s inhuman advantage War on the Rocks Paul Scharre When an AI fighter pilot beat an experienced human pilot 15-0 in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s AlphaDogfight competition, it didn’t just fly better than the human. It fought differently. Heron Systems’ AI agent used forward-quarter gunshots, when the two aircraft were racing toward each other head-to-head, a shot that’s banned in pilot training because of the risk of a collision. One fighter pilot characterized the AI’s abilities as a “superhuman capability” making high-precision, split-second shots that were “almost impossible” for humans. Even more impressive, the AI system wasn’t programmed to fight this way. It learned this tactic all on its own. AI systems’ ability to perform not just better than humans, but to fight differently, is a major potential advantage in warfare.


Thanks for reading.


Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico?

Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

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