International press review Extrema Ratio May 19, 2023
Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, military, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law & national security.
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To avert war with China, the U.S. must prioritize Taiwan over Ukraine, Elbridge Colby and Alexander Velez-Green write in a guest opinion.
The Washington Post
"Up until now the debate has been on *whether* there are tradeoffs. Now that's clear. The question is *how* to navigate them, prioritizing Taiwan's while aiding our secondary interests in Europe.", Colby said.
A Possible Counter to China: An Indo-Pacific NATO?
The Defence Post
Closer military cooperation is needed to fully deter China during peacetime and be fully prepared in the face of a major conflict. It’s no secret that China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region are expanding. Just last month, the country staged drills simulating strikes on Taiwan. In 2020 and 2021, tensions between China and India escalated into hand-to-hand combat, killing and wounding dozens on both sides.
UK sets out Hawk recovery plan
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has outlined how it intends to solve the ongoing engine problem with the BAE Systems Hawk T2 advanced jet trainer aircraft, with a view to increasing availability and removing the bottleneck in the UK military pilot training pipeline.
Taiwan Buys 18 Additional HIMARS Rocket Launchers From US
The Defence Post
The Taiwanese government has announced the acquisition of 18 additional M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers to bolster its precision strike capabilities. The procurement is on top of the 11 launchers the island nation requested from the US in 2021, bringing the total to 29.
US Air Force announces Next-Generation Air Dominance engineering and manufacturing solicitation
The US Air Force (USAF) on 18 May announced the release of a solicitation for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) platform, intended to replace the Lockheed Martin F-22 as the service's high-end fighter jet.
Air Force Plans To Award Sixth-Gen Fighter Contract in 2024
The Air Force has solicited proposals from industry for its sixth-generation fighter aircraft — the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program — and plans to award a contract in 2024, the service announced Thursday.
USAF Opens Bidding to Build Its 1st New Fighter in Decades
An engineering and manufacturing development contract is to be awarded in 2024 for the secretive Next Generation Air Dominance aircraft.
Ukraine Modifying Commercial Drones to Attack Russian Tanks
The Defence Post
The Ukrainian military is revamping available commercial drones to help destroy Russian tanks and trenches. According to a report by Reuters, a former IT programmer who is now with the Ukrainian Army can turn a four-rotor commercial drone into some kind of loitering munition.
Pentagon Accounting Error Overvalued Ukraine Military Aid by $3B
The Pentagon revealed Thursday that it has overcounted the value of the military aid the United States has sent Ukraine by at least $3 billion.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the mistake that the Defense Department overestimated the value of the missiles, vehicles, ammunition and other equipment it sent from U.S. stocks to Ukraine due to an accounting error.
RAF defends buying five Wedgetail radars for three aircraft
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has defended its decision to continue with the purchase of five radar sets for its Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning Mk1 (AEW1) programme, despite the procurement having been reduced to three aircraft.
US Air Force Shoots Down Drone Swarm With THOR Microwave Weapon
The Defence Post
The US Air Force’s Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) microwave weapon has neutralized a swarm of drones in a recent trial. Conducted at the Chestnut Test Site in New Mexico, the activity simulated a real-world swarm attack on military assets. THOR engaged the targets and knocked them out of the sky using its non-kinetic, speed-of-light microwave pulses.
New Zealand increases defence budget by 6%
New Zealand announced on 18 May a 2023–24 defence budget of NZD6.52 billion (USD4.07 billion), a nominal 6% increase over the allocation of NZD6.15 billion in 2022–23.
In the new budget, the ‘Vote Defence Force' allocation receives NZD5.15 billion, while the Vote Defence appropriation receives NZD1.36 billion. Both represent year-on-year increases of about 6%.
US Air Force Begins Sixth-Gen Fighter Aircraft Competition
The Defence Post
The US Air Force has formally begun the competition for its highly-classified Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter aircraft. A contract solicitation for the program’s engineering and manufacturing phase was recently issued to industry partners.
The Netherlands ordered 20 Precise and Universal Launching System (PULS) multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) on 17 May under an agreement between the Israeli and Dutch ministries of defence (MoDs), Elbit Systems announced in a press release the next day. The Israeli company said the USD305 million contract would be conducted over a five-year period. It will supply PULSs integrated into Dutch-produced Scania Gryphus trucks selected by the Netherlands' Materiel and IT Command (Commando Materieel en IT: Commit), formerly the Defence Materiel Organisation, as well as rockets and missiles of various ranges and training and support services.
US Navy acceptance of Aegis Ashore in Poland expected this year, GAO reports
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is expected to confirm the Aegis Ashore site in Poland “safe and technically capable”, and the US Navy (USN) is expected to accept the facility this year, according to US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on 18 May.
Fincantieri delivers final Al Zubarah-class corvette to Qatar
Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has delivered the final Al Zubarah-class multirole corvette on order for the Qatari Emiri Navy. Fourth-of-class Sumaysimah (F 104) was handed over during a ceremony held at Fincantieri's shipyard in Muggiano, La Spezia, on 16 May.
Satellite image shows WZ-8 supersonic drone at Chinese base
A satellite image obtained by Defense News shows what appears to be a WZ-8 supersonic reconnaissance drone parked outside one of two newly built hangars at China’s Lu’an Airbase.
China is continuing to revamp a bomber base that was identified in recently leaked U.S documents as hosting a new supersonic reconnaissance drone.
This satellite image is from Planet Labs. Defense News annotated the image. (Planet Labs)
New Zealand unveils defense budget, with Army in the lead
New Zealand — New Zealand’s military will receive about NZ$5.3 billion (U.S. $3.3 billion) under the country’s 2023/2024 defense budget, unveiled May 18.
Last year, the New Zealand Defence Force received about NZ$4.9 billion. Inflation to December 2022 was just over 7%, according to Statistics NZ.
Austal USA Wins Detail Design Contract for Navy T-AGOS(X) Ocean Surveillance Ship
Austal USA has won a $114 million contract for the Navy’s new T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship, according to a Thursday announcement from the Defense Department.
The award is for the detailed design of the first surveillance ship, which the Navy bought in Fiscal Year 2022.
“The contract includes options for detail design and construction of up to seven T-AGOS 25 class ships, special studies, engineering and industrial, provisional items orders, post-delivery mission system installation period, and data rights buy-out,” the announcement reads.
TAGOS-25 Rendering. Austal USA Image
Cyber Warfare Escalates Amid China-Taiwan Tensions
China–Taiwan tensions have led to a significant increase in cyber-attacks targeting Taiwan, according to a new report by security experts at Trellix. In particular, the company spotted a surge in cyber-attacks aimed at Taiwanese industries, with the …
Australian Navy Faces Major Hurdles in Building AUKUS Attack Boats, Says Defense Review
The Royal Australian Navy faces the greatest challenge of the Australian Defense Force as it pursues a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, according to the nation’s latest defense blueprint.
Can Ukraine's Air Defence Systems Cope?
Recent commentary on the Russo-Ukrainian War has been dominated by four questions.
First, when will the Ukrainian counter-offensive start? President Zelensky has urged patience, as he is waiting for more arms deliveries from the West. His recent visits to Italy, Germany, France, and the UK have yielded some impressive promises of equipment and ammunition to come, while also suggesting that the Ukrainians are preparing for an offensive that may not be short and sharp but drawn out.
Chips at center of G-7 discussion of how to counter China's rise Nikkei Asia Riho Nagao, Akira Kitado and Mitsuru Obe Efforts by the U.S. and its allies to secure supplies of crucial chip technology took center stage on Thursday as world leaders and business executives gathered in Japan ahead of the Group of Seven summit. Japan will host the G-7 summit in the western city of Hiroshima starting on Friday. Supply chain resilience, including for semiconductors, will likely be a key item on the agenda for the leaders amid a fluid geopolitical environment.
G7 Nations Pledge to Increase Sanctions on Russia at Japan-Hosted Summit. Group of Seven (G7) countries will broaden export controls (Reuters) on Russia to include industrial machinery and other technologies that could be used in its war against Ukraine, they said in a joint statement.
Ukraine and China will dominate G7 summit, but a new threat lurks: AI The New York Times David E. Sanger Artificial intelligence was not on the early agenda as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida invited the other six leaders — joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and, via video or in person, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine — to the Japanese prefecture where he got his political start. But as the new artificial intelligence language model from OpenAI made nations around the world focus for the first time on the possibilities for disinformation, chaos and the physical destruction of critical infrastructure, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, began calling counterparts to seek a common discussion.
The rise of the People's Republic of China represents the most significant foreign policy challenge of the 21st century. In all spheres, from the economy, to technology, to security and the environment, engaging with an increasingly dominant China is both necessary and inevitable.
Hong Kong’s High Court bars Jimmy Lai’s UK Lawyer in upcoming trial. The Hong Kong government has waged a legal battle for months to block Lai from being represented by attorney Timothy Owen in his trial, which is scheduled for 25 Sept. The decision reverses one the court made last year, when it affirmed Lai’s right to hire a UK-based lawyer.Bloomberg
China, US trade and commerce chiefs to meet next week. China’s commerce minister Wang Wentao is expected to visit the US next week for meetings with commerce secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, as the US seeks to salve damaged ties. David Brunnstrom, Michael Martine and David Lawder. Reuters
Xi Jinping courts Central Asia as Russian influence wanes. Chinese president holds two-day summit with five strategically important former Soviet republics - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Joe Leahy. Financial Times
Chinese President Xi Jinping today unveiled a grand plan for Central Asia’s development, taking on a new leadership role in a region that has traditionally been a Russian sphere of influence. China is ready to coordinate development strategies with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, Xi said during the China-Central Asia Summit. Andrew Hayley reports for Reuters.
Summit «Central Asia - China» started in the Chinese city of Xi'an
Today, in the Chinese city of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, the «Central Asia - China» Summit began its work, for participation in which the leaders of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan arrived in the Celestial Empire.
Photo: Xinhua News Agency
Uyghurs face long wait to become U.S. citizens. There are up to 1,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities from China currently in the U.S. seeking asylum, according to a report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project. Ruth Ingram.The China Project
Chinese fashion retailer Shein raises USD 2 billion but lowers valuation by a third. The latest fundraising round was led by Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic and U.A.E. sovereign-wealth fund Mubadala. Shein reportedly cut its valuation due to downward pressure on tech-company share prices and intensifying scrutiny from US lawmakers regarding its labour and environmental practices. Jing Yang. Wall Street Journal
Shein and the risks of Chinese fast fashion: the US alarm for the global economy (italian)
China overtakes Japan as world’s top car exporter. Growth in exports is driven by shift away from fossil fuels. Tesla’s China arm, SAIC, and BYD, which is backed by US investor Warren Buffett, are among China’s top exporters of new energy vehicles. BBC News
China’s new regulator will strive to oversee all types of financial activities and seek to eliminate regulatory ‘blind spots’. The inauguration ceremony of the new National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA) was held on Thursday as part of a sweeping reform plan set to prioritise financial stability. Frank Tang.South China Morning Post
China establishes national financial regulatory administration. Extrema Ratio
China issues rules to regulate overseas GDR issuance by listed firms at home. Extrema Ratio
Get ready to meet the next president of Taiwan. A profile of Hou You-yi, the presidential candidate selected by Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang. Mark Harrison. ASPI
The China-Mexico fentanyl pipeline: increasingly sophisticated and deadly. Exploring China’s underhand role in America’s opioid crisis.Jennifer Doherty. The Guardian
Analysis: Debt restructuring no panacea for Chinese developers as challenges loom. A shrinking land bank and low property demand are likely to hamper the plans of a growing number of private Chinese developers who have defaulted on their debt and are restructuring. Clare Jim and Xie Yu. Reuters
Exclusive: US consultancy Mintz's executives leave Hong Kong after China raid-sources
Some Hong Kong-based staff with U.S. consultancy Mintz Group have left the city after the firm's Beijing office was raided by Chinese police in March, according t
Column: Lithium slump puts China's spot price under the spotlight
High-flying lithium has come crashing back to earth. A super-charged two-year rally, which saw Chinese spot lithium carbonate prices rise by tenfold, went into brutal reverse over the first part of this year.
China will resolutely curb large fluctuations in exchange rate - central bank
China will resolutely curb large fluctuations in the exchange rate and study the strengthening of self-regulation of dollar deposits, the central bank said on Friday.
China plans to set up regional AI ‘highlands’ and related technology platforms as Beijing pushes to bridge hi-tech divide with US South China Morning Post Ben Jiang China plans to establish a raft of regional artificial intelligence “highlands” across the country and related tech platforms, as the world’s second-largest economy ratchets up research and development efforts in this technology amid a global rush to create more ChatGPT-like tools.
China, India, and the Emerging New World Order
In truth, we may be on a planet we hardly recognize. Recently, in case you missed it (and how could you have, given the coverage?), Prince Charles became King Charles III, ruler of… well, once upon a time, at the height of the British empire, or even perhaps in 1952 when his mother became queen, significant parts of the world. Admittedly, when she was crowned, India, a British colony at her birth, was already an independent nation. Still, Great Britain then remained an imperial force to be reckoned with. No longer. In 2023, as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare notes today, India is about to pass England and slip into fifth place among the world’s economic powerhouses.
Inside Tencent’s weirdly secretive customer service center MIT Technology Review Zeyi Yang Dealing with customer service can always be frustrating: long wait times, boilerplate responses, and unhelpful representatives are the norm. Tencent offers a physical center as a last resort. If you are willing to travel to Shenzhen, you can meet with a representative in person to make your case.
They dox Chinese hackers. Now, they’re back The Washington Post Aaron Schaffer and David DiMolfetta For years, a pseudonymous blog called ‘Intrusion Truth’ has shed light on Chinese hacking operations by naming suspected Chinese hackers. Now, after around five months of relative silence, they’re back — and turning their sights to Wuhan.
Handing China Innovation Leadership
If you really wanted to beat China as global leader in emerging technologies, you’d be sure your top innovators had the property-rights and free-market incentives and rewards to win that competition. But the European Commission (EC) is moving in the opposite direction.
Belt and Road
China Gezhouba International Signs Contract for Indonesian Hydropower Project
Shaanxi Road and Bridge Group signed a contract with Uzbekistan company
The East Timor road upgrade project undertaken by a Chinese company started
COFCO signs deal with Kazakhstan's Ministry of Agriculture to build agri-products supply chain
Fruitful China-Kazakhstan cooperation under Belt & Road Initiative
‘It’s just crazy’: How the U.S.-China energy race imperils the climate fight. Animosity from both sides of the Pacific threatens to choke off U.S.-China cooperation on clean energy.Sara Schonhardt and Phelim Kine. Politico
Five TikTok creators are suing Montana’s attorney general over plans to impose a statewide ban on the app due to security concerns. The lawsuit argues that the ban infringes First Amendment rights and is “unconstitutional and preempted by federal law.” Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios
Chinese state security czar Chen Yixin has been put in charge of a campaign cracking down on U.S. corporate entities in China. The move makes it even more evident that leader Xi Jinping values security over economic growth. The shift risks alienating U.S. companies, who might otherwise back Beijing in Washington as they eye opportunities in China. Lingling Wei reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. military officials are walking back claims that a recent strike in Syria killed a senior al-Qaeda leader. The dead man’s family said he had no ties to terrorists but was a father of 10 tending to his sheep when a missile killed him. While Central Command claimed that the strike had targeted a “senior Al Qaeda leader,” two defense officials said there is a doubt inside the Pentagon about who was killed. Omar Nezhat, Meg Kelly, Alex Horton, and Imogen Piper report for the Washington Post.
U.S. officials hope that foundational discussions on artificial intelligence may help establish some shared principles among the Group of Seven as they meet in Japan. National security adviser, Jake Sullivan, began calling counterparts to seek a joint discussion as ChatGPT made nations focus on the possibilities for disinformation, chaos, and the physical destruction of critical infrastructure. David E. Sanger reports for the New York Times.
White House Says Accounting Error Will Allow for More Aid to Ukraine. An underestimation of the value of military aid that can be offered to Ukraine will free up $3 billion (CNN) in additional support that can be sent without new congressional approval, the Joe Biden administration told lawmakers.
Supreme Court rules for Google, Twitter on terror-related content The Washington Post Robert Barnes and Cat Zakrzewski The Supreme Court ruled for Google and Twitter in a pair of closely watched liability cases Thursday, saying families of terrorism victims had not shown the companies helped foster attacks on their loved ones.
Montana Governor signs total ban of TikTok in the state The New York Times Sapna Maheshwari The governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, signed a bill on Wednesday to ban TikTok from operating inside the state, the most extreme prohibition of the app in the nation and one that will almost certainly be challenged in court. The ban will take effect on Jan. 1.
Premom fertility app shared sensitive data with Chinese analytics firms, FTC says TechCrunch Carly Page A popular fertility tracking app shared users’ sensitive health information with third-party advertisers without their consent, a new Federal Trade Commission complaint alleges. The FTC’s investigation into Premom, a fertility tracking app developed by Easy Healthcare that allows users to track ovulation, periods and other health information, found that the company had shared identifiable health and location information with Google and marketing firm AppsFlyer since 2018.
False claims of a stolen election thrive unchecked on Twitter even as Musk promises otherwise Associated Press Ali Swenson In an interview this week, Twitter owner Elon Musk said users making false claims of stolen elections “will be corrected” on the platform. Prompted by a CNBC reporter for extra assurance that would happen, Musk responded, “Oh yeah, 100%.” Yet many such claims have thrived on Twitter in the week since former President Donald Trump spent much of a CNN town hall digging in on his lie that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him. Twitter posts that amplified those false claims have thousands of shares with no visible enforcement, a review of posts on the platform shows.
Antiabortion group used cellphone data to target ads to Planned Parenthood visitors The Wall Street Journal Byron Tau and Patience Haggin A Midwest antiabortion group used cellphone location data to target online content to visitors of certain Planned Parenthood clinics, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
US banks rethink social media as a threat, not a marketing tool Reuters Nupur Anand Bankers are beefing up risk management, monitoring and emergency procedures around the use of social media after an internet-fueled run toppled Silicon Valley Bank two months ago and sparked turmoil in the industry.
State Department worries about cyber vulnerabilities amid debt debate Defense One Lauren Williams Cybersecurity, along with many other State Department efforts, is imperiled by the debt-ceiling debate and the likelihood that Congress won’t pass a 2024 budget by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, the department’s secretary told senators Tuesday.
Cyber experts say controversial US spying powers should stay — but with some revisions The Washington Post Tim Starks Biden administration security officials have been touting how some expiring surveillance powers have helped counter cyberattacks, even as others say the surveillance violates Americans’ civil liberties. It’s up to Congress to decide by the end of the year whether to let those powers expire, renew them as-is or make changes to them and preserve them.
FDA shores up cybersecurity requirements for medical devices The Washington Post David DiMolfetta and Tim Starks Medical devices still face significant cybersecurity threats, a federal official warned this week. Now, stricter laws for device manufacturers are in play after President Biden signed the 2023 omnibus package at the end of last year: Device makers are required to give key cybersecurity information to the Food and Drug Administration before they go on the market.
Ecuador Court Rejects Challenges to Dissolution of Congress. The Constitutional Court unanimously rejected several legal challenges (AP) against President Guillermo Lasso’s decree to dissolve the legislature amid an impeachment trial that he was expected to lose. The dissolution will allow for a fresh general election.
Mexico: The military found forty-nine migrants (AP) who were kidnapped from a bus in northern Mexico on Tuesday, the country’s defense secretary said. The migrants said members of a drug cartel kidnapped them.
The significance of the new Japan-China defense hotline
The Japan Times
This week, the defense ministers of China and Japan held a 20-minute-long phone call. The content of the call itself was unremarkable as one might expect from such a short conversation.
Taiwan: One China Principle Or Just A Policy?
In March 2005, the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China passed an anti-secession law reaffirming Beijing’s One China Principle: that Taiwan is a fundamental part of China and that if the “possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” In August 2022, the PRC released a white paper stating a preference for peaceful reunification with Taiwan under a “One Country, Two Systems” principle, but it refused to renounce the use of force against “external interference and all separatist activities.”
Escalating China-Taiwan tensions fuel alarming surge in cyber attacks The Hacker News Ravie Lakshmanan The rising geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan in recent months have sparked a noticeable uptick in cyber attacks on the East Asian island country. "From malicious emails and URLs to malware, the strain between China's claim of Taiwan as part of its territory and Taiwan's maintained independence has evolved into a worrying surge in attacks," the Trellix Advanced Research Center said in a new report.
Global chipmakers to expand in Japan as tech decoupling accelerates Financial Times Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki Seven of the world’s largest semiconductor makers have set out plans to increase manufacturing and deepen tech partnerships in Japan as western allies step up efforts to reshape the global chip supply chain amid rising tensions with China.
South & Central Asia
India’s defense production rose more than 12% last fiscal year and crossed the $12 billion threshold for the first time, the government said today. The increase comes as the country tries to reduce its reliance on imports from countries such as Russia. Exports of Russian weapons have been hampered by its war in Ukraine. Reuters reports.
Philippines: Vice President Sara Duterte resigned from her political party (Nikkei), which backs President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. She did not immediately provide an explanation for the withdrawal. The move threatens to weaken Marcos Jr.’s coalition.
China Pledges $3.7 Billion in Grants, Loans to Central Asian Countries. Chinese officials announced the commitment (Nikkei) during a summit in central China attended by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Bangladesh/Myanmar: Human Rights Watch criticized a Bangladeshi pilot program (Al Jazeera) to return 1,100 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. The United Nations is investigating Myanmar’s alleged genocide of the Rohingya and has warned that conditions in the country are not right for their return.
How political turmoil is damaging Pakistan’s tech industry Rest of World Durga M Sengupta For four days last week, Pakistan’s tech industry lost between $3 million and $4 million a day as internet services across the world’s fifth-most populous nation were shut down amid political turmoil. On May 9, Pakistan’s former prime minister and popular politician Imran Khan was arrested in Islamabad on charges of corruption. This led to widespread protests across the country, and the government imposed an “indefinite” internet shutdown in several regions. On May 12, the Supreme Court ruled Khan’s arrest illegal, and he was subsequently released. Internet services in Pakistan have now been restored, but the damage has already been done.
India aims to become champion of cyber security: Amitabh Kant The Economic Times While talking with reporters after attending an event at IIT Delhi's Bharti School of Telecommunication, Technology & Management, Kant said, "We have worked enough in the country on digital transformation, as I informed there are 4 billion people around the globe who do not have an identity, 2.5 billion have no bank account and 133 countries have no fast payment system."
AI, robotics, clean energy added to Labor’s ‘tech radar’ Australian Financial Review Tom McIlroy AI, robotics and clean energy systems will be given new national security protection in Australia, adding to the federal government’s list of critical technologies to ensure uninterrupted access. Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic added the listings due to growing international geostrategic competition. The government uses the priority list to track technologies considered critical to the national economy, as well as areas with the potential to become critical within the next decade.
OCR Labs’ hack-proof FBI technique behind Westpac and ANZ The Australian Joseph Lam The AI verification company that has lured St George Bank, Westpac and ANZ as customers is so confident in its security measures it says hackers who breach their clients will find nothing they can use. OCR Labs has trained its system on more than 50 million synthetic images that differ in skin tone, face shape and features, among other subtle differences from eye colour to the shape of a person’s nose or facial hair.
New govt data centre panel puts spotlight on green credentials InnovationAus Justin Hendry A new panel of data centre providers pursuing government contracts have had to bare their green credentials by meeting a “strengthened” set of standards as the federal government becomes more attune to ESG.
See your identity pieced together from stolen data ABC Julian Fell, Ben Spraggon and Matt Liddy We’ve all heard about high-profile data breaches at places like Optus and Medibank, but there are thousands more of them that we don’t hear about. That’s why Australian online security expert Troy Hunt created Have I Been Pwned? — a service that tracks stolen data across the internet, and is used by numerous national governments, security services and law enforcement.
Ukraine - Russia
The Pentagon has overvalued the weaponry it sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion. This error could eliminate the administration’s need to ask Congress for more money to keep Kyiv fighting this spring, people familiar with the situation said. Gordon Lubold and Doug Cameron report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Biden administration has signaled to European allies that the U.S. would allow them to export F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, sources familiar with the discussions said. The U.S. would have to approve third-party transfers because of the jets’ sensitive technology. A handful of European countries have a supply of F-16s, including the Netherlands, which has signaled a willingness to export some of them to Ukraine. Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, and Oren Liebermann report for CNN.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may visit the Group of Seven summit in Japan in person. Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said, “The physical presence of our president is absolutely important in order to defend our interests.” However, a new official statement from Danilov’s department mentions only an online presence. Brandon Livesay reports for BBC News.
A train carrying grain derailed yesterday on the Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea, local authorities said. Crimean railway officials blamed the derailment on the “intervention of outsiders.” Stephen Kalin and Georgi Kantchev report for the Wall Street Journal.
Russian forces retreated from around Bakhmut yesterday, as Kyiv pressed on with its most significant advance for six months, the Ukrainian military and Russia’s paramilitary organization Wagner group have said. Ivan Lyubysh-Kirdey reports for Reuters.
China’s Special Envoy Concludes Talks in Ukraine
China attempted to downplay expectations from its first serious attempt at mediation, emphasizing that “there is no panacea for defusing the crisis.”
Russian IT worker jailed for participating in pro-Ukraine DDoS attacks The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin A Russian regional court sentenced an IT worker to three years imprisonment on Tuesday for joining pro-Ukraine DDoS attacks against Russian government websites. Yevgeny Kotikov was found guilty of targeting the information resources of the Ministry of Defence as well as the website of the president, according to state-owned news agency TASS.
Some of Russia’s most dangerous cybercriminals just had their malware dealer unmasked Forbes Thomas Brewster Looking at online photos of his visits to the famous San Siro soccer stadium in Milan, or posing beside a classic car in Mexico, or arms around his high-fashion wife with London’s Tower Bridge in the background, nothing stands out about Jack. Average height and weight, white, the taupe hair of a mole, he looks as unremarkable as anyone else on the internet posing for selfies at a tourist hotspot.
Leica supplies binoculars and rifle scopes to Russia after invasion of Ukraine, despite withdrawal announcement The Insider After Russia invaded Ukraine, German camera manufacturer Leica Camera AG announced that it would stop shipping its goods into the country and close its company store in Moscow. Contrary to its promise, the company not only continued its deliveries, but also began exporting laser rangefinder binoculars and night vision scopes. Laser rangefinders and levels from the Swiss company Leica Geosystems are also making their way into Russia, albeit through third countries. The equipment may have military applications, such as the correction of artillery fire.
Russia says hypersonic missile scientists face 'very serious' treason accusations Reuters Tatiana Gomozova and Lucy Papachristou Three Russian academics who have worked on hypersonic missile technology face "very serious accusations", the Kremlin said on Wednesday, in a treason investigation that has spread alarm through Russia's scientific community.
Europe’s largest asset manager shifts assets from US to China. Paris-based Amundi thinks ‘too much risk’ is priced in Chinese credit and high-quality companies. Compared to the US, China offers ‘brighter economic prospects, better valuations and a more benign outlook for inflation’. Mary McDougall. Financial Times
Greece to Hold Parliamentary Elections. Greece’s ruling New Democracy party is leading in polls (WSJ) ahead of Sunday’s elections, but it isn’t expected to secure a majority in Parliament. A scandal surrounding the state intelligence service’s spying on members of government has shaken the center-right party.
Ukraine: Authorities arrested the top judge (NYT) on Ukraine’s Supreme Court as part of a widening anticorruption probe.
Germany, Poland and U.S.: Getting the Band Back Together
In the end, the success of trilateral cooperation has greater implications beyond Ukraine. The U.S. has many partners in Europe that are more than willing to do their fair share to strengthen the transatlantic community. We should work with them, using partnerships to build out the circle of trust and cooperation.
Berlin reexamines COSCO’s Hamburg port plans
The German government is re-evaluating its decision to allow Chinese state-owned COSCO entry into one of the container terminals at its largest port in Hamburg.
Hong Kong-listed terminal operator COSCO Shipping Ports was given the green light to acquire a 24.9% stake in Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA)’s container terminal in Tollerort last October.
COSCO forms European car carrier pact
Shipping Car Carriers has signed has a strategic cooperation agreement with Germany’s PWL Shipping as it prepares to ramp up calls to Europe once its 20+ backlog of newbuildings deliver.
The two parties will work on developing car carrier services in Europe and providing full-scale automobile logistics and other value-added services.
Polish news websites hit by DDoS attacks Reuters Alan Charlish and Karol Badohal Several Polish news websites were hit by distributed denial-of-service attacks that the government said could be the action of Russian hacking groups, the digitalisation minister was quoted as saying on Thursday.
UK Government publishes National Semiconductor Strategy. The long-awaited strategy will direct £1 billion in investment over the next decade into building domestic capacity. Already, the government faces criticism for 'lacking ambition’. Dan Milmo and Rowena Mason.The Guardian
Rishi Sunak open to following US lead over curbs on Chinese investment. UK to discuss export controls on China with western allies at G7 Japan summit as Washington seeks alignment on new strategy. Jim Pickard. Financial Times
US China hawks to press UK minister for tougher line on Beijing. A delegation led by Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher is expected to meet with defence secretary Ben Wallace today.Dan Sabbagh. The Guardian
English universities warned not to over-rely on fees of students from China. The Office for Students (OfS) wrote to 23 universities with high numbers of Chinese students, asking them to share their contingency plans in case of a sudden interruption in overseas recruitment. Sally Weale and Ben Quinn.The Guardian
UK releases joint press release in support of Taiwan’s engagement with the World Health Organisation. Inviting Taiwan as an observer to the World Health Assembly this year would best exemplify the WHO’s commitment to an inclusive approach to international health cooperation, says the statement. British Office Taipei
Rishi Sunak to unveil semiconductor partnership with Japan Financial Times Jim Pickard and Anna Gross Rishi Sunak will announce a “semiconductors partnership” with the Japanese government during a visit to Tokyo on Thursday as the UK seeks to reduce geopolitical risk by diversifying its chip supply chain.
UK telecom company BT plans to shed up to 55,000 jobs, replace some with AI Associated Press Kelvin Chan U.K. telecom company BT Group said Thursday that it plans to shed up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade and replace some of them with artificial intelligence, as part of an overhaul aimed at slimming down its workforce to slash costs.
UK steel industry supplier Vesuvius says ‘cyber incident’ cost £3.5 million The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Engineering company Vesuvius, which announced in February that it was managing a cyber incident, now says the episode will cost the company £3.5 million ($4.6 million).
UK is committed to making electric vehicle batteries, Hunt says Reuters William Schomberg Britain will ensure that batteries needed to power electric vehicles are produced domestically, finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday, a day after carmakers warned insufficient production could hurt investment in the country.
Ukraine’s Zelenksyy, Syria’s Assad Attend Arab League Summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise stop (NYT) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, today to attend the annual Arab League summit at Riyadh’s invitation. Zelenskyy aims to shore up Ukraine’s ties with Arab nations, he tweeted. The summit is also the first to be attended by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, when the organization suspended the Russia-backed leader over his crackdown on an anti-government uprising.
Summit attendees are weighing a Saudi Arabia–led campaign that would urge Western countries to ease their sanctions on Syria and encourage Syrian refugees in the region to return home. While some Arab countries back the plan, others are hesitant to accept guarantees that Damascus will protect returnees instead of targeting them as a threat to Assad’s regime, the Financial Times reported.
Syrian Family Disputes U.S. Assertion That Drone Strike Killed al-Qaeda Leader. An unnamed U.S. defense official told the Washington Post that the U.S. military is “no longer confident” that its drone strike killed a senior al-Qaeda leader after the family of the slain man said he was a former bricklayer with no ties to the group.
Dr. Kenneth Elliott, an 88-year-old Australian doctor held captive in West Africa by al-Qaeda militants for more than seven years, has been released. Elliott and his wife were kidnapped in 2016 near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, where they operated a clinic for over 40 years. His wife, Jocelyn, was released three weeks after the initial kidnapping following public pressure. Tom Housden reports for BBC News.
South African Power Utility: Winter Blackouts Could Last Sixteen Hours. The head of state utility Eskom said the rolling blackouts already afflicting South Africa could intensify (FT) in the coming months and last longer than ever.
Sudan: Air strikes pummeled the capital, Khartoum (Reuters), and the adjoining city of Bahri as fighting between rival military factions entered its fifth week.
The Global Economy’s Future Depends on Africa
Meta announces AI training and inference chip project Reuters Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis Meta Platforms on Thursday shared new details on its data center projects to better support artificial intelligence work, including a custom chip "family" being developed in-house.
How TikTok went from teen sensation to political pariah The Washington Post Hamza Shaban and Jonathan Baran In the seven years since TikTok was born as a niche lip-syncing app for Chinese teens, the platform has reshaped the media landscape — forcing U.S. tech giants to reckon with a foreign rival. The short-form video platform has amassed startling economic power, with more than a billion users and revenue expected to surpass YouTube’s, at nearly $25 billion by 2025. Critics argue that TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, makes the app a national security threat, potentially allowing it to share data about its American users or steer its algorithms at Beijing’s behest.
AI data-center boom will spur energy crisis, chip CEO warns Bloomberg Ian King The surging demand for artificial intelligence computing has a downside, according to chip-industry veteran Renee James: It’s sucking up too much energy to be sustainable.
Woodward and Bernstein: Watergate reporters warn of the limitations of AI BBC Emma Petrie US reporter Carl Bernstein has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) is a "huge force" which poses challenges for the future of journalism. Bernstein and his colleague Bob Woodward were the reporters at the heart of the Watergate scandal and the fall of President Nixon in 1972.
Transparency won’t be enough for AI accountability Tech Policy Press Elizabeth Meehan On the surface, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Oversight of AI went much differently for OpenAI CEO Sam Altman than it did for Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his first Congressional hearing in 2018. Altman received a more conciliatory welcome and meaningful discussion over the harms, biases, and future of AI compared to the tense hearing over the same issues on social media platforms. But like Zuckerberg, Altman used the opportunity to call for more regulation of his industry.
Extremism finds fertile ground in chat rooms for gamers The New York Times Steven Lee Myers and Kellen Browning There are rules people must agree to before joining Unloved, a private discussion group on Discord, the messaging service popular among players of video games. One rule: “Do not respect women.” For those inside, Unloved serves as a forum where about 150 people embrace a misogynistic subculture in which the members call themselves “incels,” a term that describes those who identify as involuntarily celibate. They share some harmless memes but also joke about school shootings and debate the attractiveness of women of different races. Users in the group — known as a server on Discord — can enter smaller rooms for voice or text chats. The name for one of the rooms refers to rape.
See your identity pieced together from stolen data ABC News Julian Fell, Ben Spraggon and Matt Liddy Australian online security expert Troy Hunt created Have I Been Pwned? — a service that tracks stolen data across the internet, and is used by numerous national governments, security services and law enforcement.
Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? (Italian)
Gabriele and Nicola Iuvinale
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