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International press review Extrema Ratio - 17 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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On April 1, 2023, Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Xi Jinping and State Council Premier Li Qiang promulgated Order No. 753 of the CMC called "Regulation on military service". The Conscription Regulations will enter into force on May 1, 2023.


China

America, China and a crisis of trust The New York Times Thomas L. Friedman But generative A.I., like ChatGPT, gives anyone, from a poor farmer to a college professor, the power to ask any question on any subject in his or her own language. This could be a real problem for China, because it will have to build many guardrails into its own generative A.I. systems to limit what Chinese citizens can ask and what the computer can answer. If you can’t ask whatever you want, including what happened in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, and if your A.I. system is always trying to figure out what to censor, where to censor and whom to censor, it will be less productive.

Android app from China executed 0-day exploit on millions of devices ArsTechnica Dan Goodin Android apps digitally signed by China’s third-biggest e-commerce company exploited a zero-day vulnerability that allowed them to surreptitiously take control of millions of end-user devices to steal personal data and install malicious apps, researchers from security firm Lookout have confirmed.

Leaked secret documents detail up to four additional Chinese spy balloons The Washington Post Evan Hill, Cate Cadell, Ellen Nakashima and Christian Shepherd U.S. intelligence agencies were aware of up to four additional Chinese spy balloons, and questions lingered about the true capabilities of the one that flew over the continental United States in January and February, according to previously unreported top-secret intelligence documents.

Why China could dominate the next big advance in batteries The New York Times Keith Bradsher China is positioning itself to command the next big innovation in rechargeable batteries: replacing lithium with sodium, a far cheaper and more abundant material. Sodium, found all over the world as part of salt, sells for 1 to 3 percent of the price of lithium and is chemically very similar. Recent breakthroughs mean that sodium batteries can now be recharged daily for years, chipping away at a key advantage of lithium batteries. The energy capacity of sodium batteries has also increased.

  • Taiwan officials have said only half of Taiwan’s aircraft are fully mission capable, and they doubt their air defenses can “accurately detect missile launches,” according to leaked intelligence reports. China’s tactic of using civilian ships for military purposes has also eroded U.S. spy agencies’ ability to detect a pending invasion. Ellen Nakashima, Christian Shepherd, and Cate Cadell report for the Washington Post.

  • The Group of 7 foreign ministers agreed that they “oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, as well as to reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” during a summit in Japan today. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi “emphasized the importance of continuing dialogue” while urging Beijing to “act as a responsible member of the international community,” according to a Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Japan statement.

  • The Chinese defense minister, Li Shangfu, yesterday said China is ready to deepen its partnership with Russia to “make new contributions to stability and security” globally. These comments, made during a three-day visit to Moscow, come amid growing Western concern that China is ready to provide lethal aid to Russia. Christian Shepherd reports for the Washington Post.

  • China/Russia: China’s defense minister began a four-day trip (CNN) to Moscow over the weekend, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral military cooperation. The trip comes as Western countries have urged China to pressure Russia to put an end to the war in Ukraine.

  • China's military chief met Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Sunday. Putin brought his defense chief along for the meeting with Gen. Li Shangfu, who traveled to Russia almost exactly a month after China's own autocratic leader, Xi Jinping, visited Putin in Moscow. The Associated Press relays a bit more of the bland, official pageantry and messaging from Moscow on Sunday, here.

  • UK Foreign Secretary to meet G7 partners in Japan this week, ahead of visits to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. James Cleverly to discuss closer ties around security and defence, as well as opportunities presented by the UK’s recent accession to the CPTPP trade agreement. Gov.uk.

  • China’s defence minister and Putin vow to strengthen military cooperation. Li Shangfu met with the Russian president on Sunday on his first trip overseas in the role. The Guardian.

  • Montana legislature approves outright ban of TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte must now decide whether sign the bill into law. David McCabe.New York Times.

  • BT holds China-Taiwan war game to prepare for potential conflict. Staff in Dublin took part in a two-day stress test last year following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Oliver Telling, Anna Gross and Cheng Ting-Fang.Financial Times.

  • China and Brazil branded ‘strategic partners that share extensive common interests’. Xi and Lula sign a series of cooperation deals covering trade and investment, the digital economy and aerospace. Xinlu Liang.South China Morning Post.

  • Blinken’s trip to Beijing stalled over spy balloon concerns. China is reportedly refusing to reschedule the visit with US secretary of state over concerns that the FBI will publish results of spy balloon investigation. Demetri Sevastopulo.Financial Times.

  • Chinese foreign minister appeals to the Taliban to create more progressive and inclusive government. Qin Gang attended a quadrilateral meeting with Russian, Iranian and Pakistani counterparts as part of his trip to Uzbekistan. Zhao Ziwen.South China Morning Post.

  • Increasing numbers of Chinese migrants are attempting to enter the US via Latin America. Chinese nationals were the fourth-largest group making the Darién crossing between South and Central America so far this year. Wenxin Fan and Shen Lu. Wall Street Journal.

  • Chinese mining contractors accused of bribing militant groups in Nigeria for access to mineral reserves. Through bribes and illegal transactions, Beijing could be indirectly funding terror in Africa’s largest economy. Richard Assheton. The Times.

  • Beijing’s ambassador to Manila accuses the Philippines of exacerbating regional tensions with US military bases pact. The US and the Philippines signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement in 2014. The Philippines has offered access to four more military bases, three facing north towards Taiwan and one near the disputed Spratly Islands. Reuters.

  • China arrests human rights activists en route to EU embassy in Beijing. Yu Wensheng and wife Xu Yan were planning to meet the EU ambassador. Gregorio Sorgi. Politico.

  • China uses anti-espionage laws against Chinese nationals who share information on Xinjiang. Article posted by the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission shares details of six espionage cases as a warning against providing overseas organisations with Xinjiang-related documents. Vanessa Cai.South China Morning Post.

  • Beijing assigns Communist Party veterans to top decision-making body for Hong Kong and Macau. Beijing said to be ‘keeping a close eye on the security aspects’ while promoting development in the two special administrative regions. William Zheng. South China Morning Post.

  • China hit by surge in Belt and Road bad loans. US$78 billion has been renegotiated or written off in the last 3 years. James Kynge. Financial Times.

  • Chinese lenders slashed disbursements to countries that applied for debt relief during Covid-19 pandemic. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University publish findings of a study on the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Jevans Nyabiage. South China Morning Post.

  • China’s chip imports slump 23 percent in first three months of 2023. US sanctions weigh on semiconductor transactions. Ann Cao. South China Morning Post.

  • Logistics industry in China faces slow recovery. Supply chain shifts and weakened global demand affect market outlook. Mandy Zuo and Ji Siqi.South China Morning Post.

  • Chinese battery supplier plans five Europe plants. SVolt Energy Technology Co., spun out of Great Wall Motor Co., in talks with several European car manufacturers. Wilfried Eckl-Dorna.Bloomberg.

  • Reform the World Bank and save developing countries from China’s grasp. Former prime minister calls on the UK to lead the reform of multilateral development banks. David Cameron. The Telegraph.

  • Only China can put a stop to Kim Jong-un’s latest round of nuclear sabre-rattling. The G7 will need China’s support to end the standoff on the Korean Peninsula. The Observer.

  • The West is in the grip of a decoupling delusion. How attempts to decouple from China are more likely to leave countries in south-east Asia more economically dependent on China. James Crabtree. Financial Times.

  • What it will look like if China launches cyberattacks in the U.S. A look at a few of the most likely scenarios in the event of a China-Taiwan conflict. Maggie Miller. Politico.

USA

FDD


US accuses Shein, Temu of data risks in latest action targeting Chinese-backed apps South China Morning Post Coco Feng Chinese-backed digital platforms Shein and Temu have become the latest targets of the US government, after an official report raised concerns over their data risks and other business practices.

Montana lawmakers approve statewide ban on TikTok The Wall Street Journal Meghan Bobrowsky and Stu Woo Montana lawmakers on Friday approved a first-of-its-kind bill to ban TikTok across the state, setting the stage for future court battles that could determine the fate of the popular, Chinese-owned social-media app in the U.S.

Cyberspace Solarium Commission says space systems should be considered critical infrastructure CyberScoop Christian Vasquez The Cyberspace Solarium Commission wants space systems to be considered critical infrastructure sector number 17, a move the influential group says will compel a growing industry of satellite operators to take action to better protect their networks from malicious hackers.

What it will look like if China launches cyberattacks in the U.S. POLITICO Maggie Miller While much of the cybersecurity world’s attention is on fending off Russian hacks against Ukraine, American officials are increasingly worried about another growing threat: attacks by China on U.S. soil. If China invades Taiwan, they say, it is likely to unleash a volley of digital strikes against the United States at the same time.

Online gaming chats have long been spy risk for US military Associated Press Tara Copp The enthusiasm military personnel have for gaming — and the risk that carries — is in the spotlight after Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman, was charged with illegally taking and posting highly classified material in a geopolitical chat room on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers.

  • New U.S. opinion polling on China shows a strong majority of Americans have negative views of China (that is, 83% say they feel this way). And "Around four-in-ten Americans also now describe China as an enemy of the United States, rather than as a competitor or a partner," which is a 13-point rise from the year prior, according to a survey of U.S. voters conducted in late March by the Pew Research Center.

  • The Pentagon's document leaks case is not yet behind us. Now that the alleged leaker of classified documents has been arrested in Massachusetts, some in Washington began the weekend with a temporary sense of relief similar to when the Chinese surveillance balloon was finally shot down off the South Carolina coast in early February. The original author of The D Brief, Gordon Lubold of the Wall Street Journal, tweeted the sentiment Thursday afternoon when the accused 21-year-old Air Force E-3 was first named publicly by the New York Times.

  • SpaceX Holds Test Flight for Starship Rocket. The company’s Starship rocket system has received billions of dollars in government funding and aims to increase the number of astronauts (CNN) that can fly to the moon.

  • Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member, is facing two counts related to the leaking of hundreds of classified documents on a gaming chat server. Read the full criminal complaint against Teixeira.

  • Sarah Bils, 37, a prominent pro-Russia blogger and former U.S. Navy noncommissioned officer, played a crucial role in the spread of leaked intelligence reports. On Apr. 5, the Telegram account that Sarah helps administer posted four leaked documents to its 65,000 followers. This post led several large Russian social media accounts to pick up on the documents. Yaroslav Trofimov and Bob Mackin report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • District Court Judge Tim Kelly yesterday held that prosecutors neither withheld nor “suppressed” Jan. 6 security footage from the Proud Boys on trial for seditious conspiracy. Kelly said defendant Dominic Pezzola had timely access to the footage, which is not exculpatory in any case. Kelly rejected Pezzola’s “bizarre” allegations, including that prosecutors had destroyed evidence related to the case, that they coerced false guilty pleas from other Proud Boys, and that they doctored at least one report from an informant to obscure an FBI agent’s involvement. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.

  • Federal Judge McFadden on Friday sentenced Patrick McCaughey, 25, to over seven years in prison after finding him guilty in September of assaulting police and obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election results. McCaughey’s sentence is among the lengthiest handed down to Jan. 6 attackers, though it was less than half of the nearly 16 years that the Justice Department sought. While McCaughey was a “poster child of all that was dangerous and appalling” about the Jan. 6 Attack, McFadden noted the defendant’s participation marked a “strange aberration” from an otherwise law-abiding life. C. Ryan Barber reports for the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against Fox News has been delayed until tomorrow as both parties discuss a settlement, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. A settlement could help Fox avoid potentially embarrassing courtroom testimony from some of its biggest stars. The case is being heard in Deleware, the state where Dominion is incorporated and which voted overwhelmingly for President Biden, one of the state’s most popular politicians. Rosalind S. Helderman, Sarah Ellison, and Jeremy Barr report for the Washington Post.

  • Montana’s House on Friday voted 54-43 in favor of a bill banning the social media app TikTok from operating in the state. The move serves as a testing ground for a national ban on TikTok that many national lawmakers envision due to concerns over potential Chinese spying. The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who declined to say if he plans to sign it into law. TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter promised a legal challenge over the measure’s constitutionality. Amy Beth Hanson and Haleluya Hadero report for AP News.

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met in Beijing on Friday in defiance of U.S. foreign and trade policy. “We will work to expand trade and balance world geopolitics,” da Silva wrote on Twitter after meeting with Xi. Da Silva’s visit is an effort to deepen ties with his country’s largest trading partner following a period of relative isolation under his right-wing predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Austin Ramzy and Samantha Pearson report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • South Korea, the United States, and Japan staged joint naval missile defense exercises today to deepen security cooperation and improve their response to North Korea’s evolving missile threats. During talks in Washington on Friday, the three nations agreed to hold regular missile defense and anti-submarine exercises to boost diplomatic and military cooperation. Hyonhee Shin reports for Reuters.

  • The warship USS Milius passed through the Taiwan Strait yesterday, days after China ended its latest war games around the island. The U.S. Navy described it as a “routine” transit. The U.S. Navy sails warships through the strait around once a month and regularly conducts similar freedom of navigation missions in the disputed South China Sea. Reuters reports.

  • The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has published an alert, "Possible Evasion of the Russian Oil Price Cap," to warn U.S. persons about possible evasion of the price cap on crude oil of Russian Federation origin, particularly involving oil exported through the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline and ports on the eastern coast of the Russian Federation.

Americas

Cyberattack causing treatment delays at Canadian hospital The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig A cyberattack on a hospital in Ontario, Canada, is causing delays to scheduled and non-urgent care. Cornwall Community Hospital — a healthcare facility serving the residents of Cornwall and several other counties — said it discovered a “network issue” on Tuesday that was later revealed to be a cyberattack.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Kicks Off Latin America Tour in Brazil. Sergey Lavrov arrives in Brazil today (MercoPress) before traveling on to Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. He is expected to discuss the war in Ukraine with Brazilian officials. On Sunday, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said the decision to start the war was “made by two countries” (Reuters).

  • Brazil/UAE: During a meeting with Brazilian delegates in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Emirati officials signed a pledge (Agência Brasil) to invest about $2.45 billion in northern Brazil, Brazilian state media reported. The agreement includes a commitment to build a green energy plant.

North Asia

Taiwan warns local media against spreading false news from China The Guardian Chi Hui Lin and Helen Davidson Taiwan’s defence ministry has raised the alarm about disinformation attacks during the recent Chinese military drills and alerted local media to the dangers of helping spread disinformation.

  • Eyes on Taiwan: The newly formed House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party will focus much of their attention this spring on the defense of Taiwan, and making sure "the measures necessary to deter war are included" in the National Defense Authorization Act, a source close to the committee tells the D Brief.

  • Those measures include arming Taiwan "to the teeth"—e.g. providing the $19 billion in defense equipment it has requested but not yet received, as the Wall Street Journal reported in November—to make China realize that attacking it is a very bad idea, the source said, as well as expanding training and security assistance, and significantly ramping up defense industrial base production. A State Department official in February said U.S. production problems were to blame for the delayed delivery of nearly $19 billion in arms to Taiwan, according to Defense News. At that time, Rep. Mike Gallagher, chairman of the House Select Committee on China, said the U.S. "should move heaven and earth" to get those arms to Taiwan.

  • For the record, $19 billion is also how much Taipei's leaders planned to spend on national defense this fiscal year, which was both a record high and an almost 14% increase from the year prior, according to Reuters reporting last August.

  • Developing: If China does attack Taiwan by air, the island is unlikely to be able to detect or stop that attack, according to the recently leaked Pentagon documents. The Washington Post detailed those assessments Saturday, noting that Taiwanese officials don't think their equipment can "accurately detect missile launches," and that only about half of their aircraft are "fully mission capable." Read on, here.

  • BTW: The U.S. Navy's USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, "through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State," according to a Navy release. That "routine" transit comes on the heels of large-scale Chinese military drills in the area, which in turn were a response to a meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

Southeast Asia

Malaysia plans to set up second 5G network from next year - sources Reuters Rozanna Latiff and Yantoultra Ngui Malaysia plans to introduce a second 5G network from next year, four sources told Reuters, in the latest policy shake-up aimed at dismantling monopolies and promoting competition by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's six-month-old administration.

  • In Japan, G7 Ministers Commit to New Targets for Solar and Wind Capacity. Ministers from Group of Seven (G7) countries pledged to increase offshore wind capacity (Reuters) by 150 gigawatts and solar capacity by more than 1 terawatt by 2030, but they stopped short of establishing the same deadline for phasing out coal.

  • Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated unharmed from a public event on Saturday after an apparent smoke bomb was thrown at him. Thepolice said yesterday that a 24-year-old suspect detained at the scene had been carrying a knife and a possible second explosive device. The motivation for the apparent attack is still unclear. Mattea Bubalo reports for BBC News.

South & Central Asia

India says new IT fact-checking unit will not censor journalism Reuters Shivam Patel, Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra A proposed Indian government unit to fact-check news on social media is not about censoring journalism nor will it have any impact on media reportage, a federal minister said on Friday.

  • India and Russia to Consider Free Trade Deal. Ministers from both countries said they are discussing a free trade agreement (Reuters) to help bolster bilateral commercial ties. Russia became India’s top supplier of crude oil last month, and Moscow has sought to increase industrial imports from New Delhi.

  • Myanmar: The ruling military regime said it released (Bloomberg) more than three thousand prisoners to mark the traditional New Year holiday, one week after it was criticized for an air strike that killed over one hundred civilians.

Australia

The Manila Times

Two suspected Chinese spies gave a Sydney businessman envelopes of cash for information about subjects that include a government deal with the United States and the United Kingdom to build a fleet of Australian nuclear-powered submarines, prosecutors told a court on Monday.

TikTok can still access data from Australian government devices via app on personal phones, academic warns The Guardian Josh Taylor TikTok could still access information held on Australian government devices if public servants and politicians continue to use the app on their personal mobile devices, according to a legal academic from the University of New South Wales.

Western security agencies tell software developers to up their game Australian Financial Review Max Mason Major western security and intelligence agencies have released new guidance for software manufacturers, aiming to shift the burden of cybersecurity away from customers and to the companies designing the products.

Australian man charged with foreign interference after allegedly spying The Australian Eli Green An Australian man has been charged with a foreign interference offence by federal police after an investigation from the nation’s top spy agency. The Australian national, who normally lives and operates a business overseas, recently returned to Australia before he was arrested at a Bondi residence on Friday.

Quad Technology Business and Investment Forum outcomes report ASPI Guy Boekenstein The Quad has prioritised supporting and guiding investment in critical and emerging technology projects consistent with its intent to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. Governments cannot do this alone. Success requires a concerted and coordinated effort between governments, industry, private capital partners and civil society. To explore opportunities and challenges to this success, the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group convened the inaugural Quad Technology Business and Investment Forum in Sydney, Australia on 2 December 2022. The forum was supported by the Australian Department of Home Affairs and delivered by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Call for audit as Chinese DJI drones join Australian Defence Force war games The Australian Ellen Whinnett Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Samantha Hoffman, said using DJI was not a wise decision by the ADF “because the risks associated with DJI technology have been known for several years now.”

Ukraine - Russia

Russians boasted that just 1% of fake social profiles are caught, leak shows The Washington Post Joseph Menn The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, boosting lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

Ukraine puts Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi, CEO Lei Jun on war sponsor list over business in Russia South China Morning Post Che Pan Ukraine’s anti-corruption watchdog has put Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, its founder and CEO Lei Jun, as well as a dozen other company executives on its list of “international war sponsors”, accusing the Beijing-based firm of maintaining business in Russia despite its military actions.

Meet the hacker armies on Ukraine's cyber front line BBC Joe Tidy When Russia initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a second, less visible battle in cyberspace got under way. The BBC's cyber correspondent Joe Tidy travelled to Ukraine to speak to those fighting the cyber war, and found the conflict has blurred the lines between those working for the military and the unofficial activist hackers.

  • Russia Sentences Ukraine War Critic to Twenty-Five Years in Prison. Opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who holds Russian and British citizenship, received the longest jail sentence (Guardian) given to a government critic for opposing the war in Ukraine.

  • The Russian operators of disinformation accounts on social media boast that they are detected by social networks only about 1 percent of the time, according to leaked intelligence reports. The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known. These disinformation campaigns boost lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts. Joseph Menn reports for the Washington Post.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a measure allowing for electronic draft notices, making it harder for conscripts to flee a summons. Last month, Putin also signed a decree authorizing a routine spring conscription effort to call up about 147,000 citizens for service. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.

  • Chinese components are being found in Russian weapons used in Ukraine, Vladyslav Vlasiuk, a senior adviser in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, told Reuters. Because of Western sanctions, there are fewer Western-made components, leaving a gap that China is filling, Vlasiuk said. Matthias Williams and John O’Donnell report for Reuters.

  • India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said today that his government was in “advance agreement” on a trade treaty that Russia’s Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov said would guarantee bilateral investment. A free trade agreement would further deepen commercial ties that have flourished since the war broke out in Ukraine. Russia, a traditional defense equipment supplier, displaced Iraq last month to become India’s top supplier of crude oil. Reuters reports.

Europe

MEPs raise concerns over draft EU-US data transfer deal TechCrunch Natasha Lomas A shiny new data transfers deal between the European Union and the United States aimed at fixing costly legal uncertainty over exports of personal data isn’t in place yet but the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee is predicting the incoming EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework won’t survive a legal challenge — just as its two predecessors, Safe Harbor; and Privacy Shield, failed to impress EU judges.

European parliament prepares tough measures over use of AI Financial Times Javier Espinoza and Ian Johnston The European parliament is preparing tough new measures over the use of artificial intelligence, including forcing chatbot makers to reveal if they use copyrighted material, as the EU edges towards enacting the world’s most restrictive regime on the development of AI.

Germany examining Chinese components in its 5G network, interior minister says Reuters Riham Alkousaa Germany's Interior Ministry is examining all Chinese components that are already installed in the country's 5G network, Minister Nancy Faeser was quoted as saying on Sunday, as Berlin re-evaluates its relationship with top trade partner China.

  • Hungary/Poland: The European Union (EU) called Polish and Hungarian bans (NYT) on Ukrainian grain imports “unacceptable” for their unilateral nature. Farmers in the two EU countries have said that they have lost income as a result of an excess of Ukrainian grain.

  • Vojislav Buzakovic, an alleged Serbian war criminal who spent 16 years on the run, has been deported from Ireland to Croatia after police discovered him in February. Croatian officials have accused Buzakovic of abusing civilians during the war in Yugoslavia between 1991-1992. Local media reported that he triggered an alert on an E.U. database of wanted suspects during an altercation with officers. Matt Murphy reports for BBC News.

UK

Fears data stolen from BBC licence fee operator after Russian hackers post cache of documents The Telegraph Gareth Corfield and Riya Makwana One of Britain’s biggest outsourcing companies was tonight scrambling to figure out if sensitive data had been stolen from its systems after a Russian-speaking cyber gang posted a cache of documents online.

Middle East

  • Iran Issues Sentences for 2020 Downing of Passenger Plane. A court sentenced (CNN) as many as ten Iranian military personnel yesterday for the 2020 downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 that killed all 176 people on board, an Iranian state-backed news agency reported. The families of victims criticized the ruling for allowing senior officials they viewed as responsible for the shooting to go unpunished.

  • Iran: Authorities sent warning messages (WaPo) to businesses and car owners as part of an enforcement campaign to catch women who violate the country’s dress code by not wearing headscarves.

  • Senior Saudi officials are meeting with leaders of the Palestinian militant and political group Hamas this week to discuss renewing diplomatic ties. Re-establishing ties between Iran-backed Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and Saudi Arabia would mark a setback for the U.S. and Israel. Summer Said, Dov Lieber, and Aaron Boxerman report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • U.S. Central Command today said its forces targeted and likely killed a senior leader of the self-styled Islamic State militant group, who it said was involved in “planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe.” Central Command said neither U.S. troops nor civilians were wounded in the attack. U.S. Central Command stated on its Twitter account.

Africa

  • Clashes Between Rival Sudanese Security Forces Kill Dozens of Civilians. Fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued in the country’s capital (Reuters) of Khartoum today despite international calls for a ceasefire. The clashes have killed at least ninety-seven civilians since they broke out on Saturday, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, an activist group. Hundreds more have been injured. The army and RSF had previously been in talks (CNN) to merge their forces as part of a transition toward restoring a civilian-led government in the wake of the country’s 2021 coup.Meanwhile, the UN World Food Program has suspended its operations in Sudan after three of its workers were killed in clashes over the weekend. The World Health Organization has struggled to reach people in need, as several hospitals in Khartoum face medical shortages.

  • Nearly 100 civilians have been killed in Sudan and hundreds more injured as clashes between the army and a rival paramilitary group continued for a third day. The fighting has been triggered by a power struggle between the army headed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, president since October 2021, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Sudan’s vice president and commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Andres Schipani report for the Financial Times.

  • Senegalese Opposition Groups Form Coalition to Oppose President’s Third Term. More than one hundred political and civil society groups signed a pledge (AFP) to oppose a possible third term for President Macky Sall ahead of elections next year.

Big Tech

Parler shuts down temporarily, finds buyer months after Kanye West deal faltered The Wall Street Journal Sarah E. Needleman Parler, a social network that was popularized by supporters of former President Donald Trump, has been sold to a buyer that has temporarily shut it down.

Twitter staff cuts leave Russian trolls unchecked BBC Nico Grant A.I. competitors like the new Bing are quickly becoming the most serious threat to Google’s search business in 25 years, and in response, Google is racing to build an all-new search engine powered by the technology. It is also upgrading the existing one with A.I. features, according to internal documents reviewed by The Times.

Amazon needs to be clear about removing items on behalf of authoritarian governments Rest of World Jan Rydzan and Dana Floberg Amazon may be censoring content and products at the behest of authoritarian governments — while leaving the public and even Amazon’s own shareholders in the dark.

Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk creates new artificial intelligence company X.AI The Wall Street Journal Berber Jin and Deepa Seetharaman Elon Musk has created a new artificial intelligence company called X.AI Corp. that is incorporated in Nevada, according to a state filing. Mr. Musk is the only listed director of the company, and Jared Birchall, the director of Mr. Musk’s family office, is its secretary, according to the filing made last month. X.AI has authorized the sale of 100 million shares for the privately held company.

Deepfake porn could be a growing problem amid AI race Associated Press Haleyluya Hadero Artificial intelligence imaging can be used to create art, try on clothes in virtual fitting rooms or help design advertising campaigns. But experts fear the darker side of the easily accessible tools could worsen something that primarily harms women: nonconsensual deepfake pornography.

Thousands compromised in ChatGPT-themed scheme Axios Sam Sabin Downloads of a fake ChatGPT browser extension have put thousands of Facebook accounts at risk of compromise, researchers at CybelAngel said in a report this week.

Google devising radical search changes to beat back A.I. rivals The New York Times Grigor Atanesian Hundreds of Russian and Chinese state propaganda accounts are thriving on Twitter after Elon Musk wiped out the team that fought these networks, the BBC has found. The unit worked to combat "information operations", coordinated campaigns by countries such as Russia, China, and Iran, made to influence public opinion and disrupt democracy.

Misc

New hacker advocacy group seeks to protect work of security researchers CyberScoop Tonya Riley Every day, good-faith security researchers around the world face potential criminal prosecution for testing digital systems for flaws, reporting vulnerabilities and figuring out how to repair products. A new advocacy group, the Hacking Policy Council, launched on Thursday seeks to remedy that by advocating on behalf of researchers in support of laws that protect their work.

Why is ‘juice jacking’ suddenly back in the news? Krebs on Security Chris Krebs KrebsOnSecurity received a nice bump in traffic this week thanks to tweets from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Communications Commission about “juice jacking,” a term first coined here in 2011 to describe a potential threat of data theft when one plugs their mobile device into a public charging kiosk. It remains unclear what may have prompted the alerts, but the good news is that there are some fairly basic things you can do to avoid having to worry about juice jacking.


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

Gabriele and Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

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