International press review Extrema Ratio May 25, 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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Espionage: a Chinese state-sponsored cyber actor targets US critical infrastructure sectors
Microsoft has uncovered stealthy and targeted malicious activity focused on post-compromise credential access and network system discovery aimed at critical infrastructure organizations in the United States. The attack is carried out by Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored actor based in China that typically focuses on espionage and information gathering. Microsoft assesses with moderate confidence that this Volt Typhoon campaign is pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.
China’s Cyber Warfare: These special units in Chinese PLA target Indian defence research organisations, other departments
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is creating tools for strategic guidance and training personnel necessary to support traditional war fighting disciplines, and is developing computer network operations (CNO) capability.
US Navy’s Newest Aircraft Carrier ‘Gerald R. Ford’ Arrives in Oslo
By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) – The world’s largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, sailed.
A view of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford in the Oslo Fjord, seen from Ekebergskrenten, Norway, May 24, 2023. Javad Parsa/NTB/via REUTERS
Russia: Warship Guarding Black Sea Pipelines Attacked by Unmanned Ukraine Craft
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that the Russian warship Ivan Hurs had been attacked unsuccessfully by three Ukrainian uncrewed speedboats in the Black Sea, on the approaches to the Bosphorus strait.
After watching Ukraine, UK ‘looking at’ more risk-taking in weapons development, integration
“Making these decisions can actually affect the safety of people, so what we’re looking at now, [considering] there will always be an end-state of a design for a weapon, there may be occasions where we want to take greater risk and therefore accelerate integration," said John Cunningham, Head of Weapons Evaluation and Capability Assurance (WECA) at the UK MoD.
LIMA 2023: Malaysian company to operate AW609 tiltrotor
Weststar Aviation Services (Weststar), a Malaysian aviation company, has signed an agreement with Leonardo to operate a single AW609 tiltrotor helicopter in the country.
According to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2023 on 24 May, Weststar will operate the aircraft under lease. LIMA is being held from 23 to 27 May in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Cause of V-22 ‘hard clutch’ issue still unknown, even as fleet repairs moving ahead of schedule
A retrofit effort to return an undisclosed number of grounded Bell-Boeing V-22 Ospreys to flight is over halfway complete, the aircraft’s Joint Program Office tells Breaking Defense — and yet, the root cause of a so-called “hard clutch engagement” (HCE) issue remains elusive.
F-35 Program Completes Band-Aid Fix for Engine
All jets had received the modification earlier this month, but the Pentagon is still trying to figure out why a mysterious vibration is happening.
Militias are a symptom, not a cure
With global attention focused on deadly clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces in Khartoum, another militia halfway around the world was locked in battle against its own national military: the Wagner Group, which tussled with the Russian army in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast.
Ukraine conflict: Ukraine employing Su-24 to carry Storm Shadow, defence minister reveals
Ukraine is using its Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer' strike aircraft to carry the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missiles recently received from the United Kingdom.
This delivery method was revealed by Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who on 24 May posted a photo of a Ukrainian Air Force Su-24 aircraft with a Storm Shadow on each of its inboard underwing pylons.
U.S. Navy Increases Patrols in Strait of Hormuz
The U.S. Navy is increasing its patrols of the Strait of Hormuz in response to Iran’s growing threat to commercial shipping and its seizure of two oil tankers during the last two months. Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea, told the New York Times on May 23 that “Iran’s actions are unacceptable.”
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to demo data processing node
NGA is developing four Joint Regional Edge Nodes based in different locations around the world.
Fewer fighters: Combat aviation struggles to stay aloft in Latin America
Latin American fighter fleets were regularly modernised through the 1980s, with aircraft such as the French Mirage family, British Hawker Hunter, and American F-5 Tiger II and A-4 Skyhawk flying routinely. Most regional air forces have since seen their budgets constrained and fleet renewals restricted in terms of size and capability.
US Army revamps program executive offices to sharpen cyber focus
No jobs are expected to be cut, and contracts should flow as normal, according to three U.S. Army program executive officers.
LIMA 2023: Edge signs agreement with Ketech Asia to produce rifles
The United Arab Emirates small-arms manufacturer Edge Group's Caracal subsidiary has signed an agreement with Ketech Asia for the production and resale of the CAR 816 assault rifles in Malaysia.
The agreement was signed on 24 May at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2023, held in Langkawi, Malaysia, from 23 to 27 May.
Timeline of China's participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations
Watching "War in the Age of AI"
Type-055 guided-missile destroyers Xianyang (Hull 108) and Zunyi (Hull 107) attached to a naval destroyer flotilla under the PLA Southern Theater Command (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Cai Shengqiu)
Why the military moves faster than government on AI
A Q&A with a former member of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence about how agencies can get around talent and budget constraints.
HII awarded advance procurement contract modification for Virginia-class Block V submarines
General Dynamics Electric Boat awarded HII's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) unit a USD305.2 million contract modification to procure long-lead-time material for two additional Block V Virginia-class submarines, HII confirmed on 24 May.
Brigadier General Gábor Lőrincz, commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces' land forces, outlined lessons learned from Hungary's transition to the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) at SAE Media's Future Armoured Vehicles Central and Eastern Europe 2023 conference in Prague.
Colombian Army down to half of its APC fleet
The Colombian Army has 28 operational M113A2 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), about half of what it operated 10 years ago, according to army documents viewed by Janes.
Food Machinery Corp – now part of BAE Systems – delivered up to 88 units of the A1 variant in 1977. This stock shrunk to 54 vehicles in service at the beginning of the last decade, and Dynamic Trading Solutions (DTS) upgraded the vehicles to the A2 variant.
Czech Republic, Sweden Complete $2.2B Negotiations for CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles
The Defence Post
The Czech Republic has finalized negotiations to procure CV90 infantry fighting vehicles from BAE Systems Hägglunds in Örnsköldsvik.
The decision builds on a memorandum signed in 2022 to purchase tracked combat vehicles from the government of Sweden.
Portugal set to issue tender for unmanned systems mother ship
The Portuguese Navy is poised to issue a tender to acquire a helicopter and unmanned systems mother ship for a maximum of EUR132 million (USD142 million) to meet its Pilar I project.
Australian Defence Force Unveils Hazardous Environment Research Center
The Defence Post
Australia has launched a research center to support warfighters operating in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear environments.
LIMA 2023: Mitsubishi pitches MRSS to Southeast Asian navies
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) unveiled a model of its new Multi-Role Support Ship (MRSS) at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2023.
An MHI spokesperson told Janes that work on the design of the new MRSS was initiated two to three years ago. However, the spokesperson said the design is not yet finalised and may change based on navies' requirements.
Netherlands to Turn Reconnaissance MQ-9 Reapers Into Armed Drones
The Defence Post
The Netherlands will begin arming its reconnaissance MQ-9 Reaper drones due to evolving security concerns.
The four MQ-9s with the Netherlands military will be modified to carry laser-guided GBU bombs and air-to-surface Hellfire missiles.
MQ-9 Reaper drone. Image: Netherlands Ministry of Defense
Turkey Test-Fires Longest-Range Ballistic Missile
The Defence Post
Turkey test-fired the country’s longest-range missile for the second time on Tuesday.
The Tayfun ballistic missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher near the port city of Rize on the Black Sea. No further details of the test have been revealed.
Five Eyes intelligence network warn of Chinese state-sponsored cyber-espionage campaign. A joint statement by the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK highlights a recently discovered cluster of activity associated with a Chinese state-sponsored cyber actor, known as Volt Typhoon. In a separate statement, Microsoft said Volt Typhoon had been active since mid-2021 and had targeted critical infrastructure in Guam, a crucial US military outpost in the Pacific Ocean. The Guardian
Cayman Islands to set up an office in Hong Kong or Singapore in response to growing competition. Financial services minister André Ebanks has accelerated plans to establish a Cayman Islands government office in Asia after Singapore and Hong Kong approved new fund structures that offer international investors a way to shelter money in lightly taxed vehicles. Kaye Wiggins, Mercedes Ruehl and Leo Lewis. Financial Times
US, South Korea issue fresh North Korea sanctions on 'illicit' IT workforce Reuters Christopher Bing and Doina Chiacu The United States and South Korea on Tuesday announced new North Korea sanctions related to thousands of IT workers, many operating in China and Russia, whose labors allegedly help fund weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, they said. One individual, Kim Sang Man, and the North Korea-based Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company were sanctioned jointly by the United States and South Korea in relation to their IT worker activities, U.S. Treasury Department said.
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.
Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? (Italian)
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China and Russia solidified their partnership with high-level meetings between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin yesterday. The meetings signal a departure from China’s recent efforts to play down its alignment with Russia, as it seeks to play the role of peacemaker in Ukraine. Both sides affirmed their mutual interests and plans for cooperation. Austin Ramzy and Selina Cheng report for the Wall Street Journal.
China said to be negotiating arms deals with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) is reportedly in talks with Norinco, a Chinese state-owned defence company, to buy weapons ranging from reconnaissance drones to air defence systems, according to Tactical Report, a Beirut-based intelligence service. Jane Cai. South China Morning Post
China says NATO's plan for Japan office not welcomed in Asia-Pacific. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called on Japan to be ‘extra cautious on the issue of military security’ given its ‘history of aggression’. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reaffirmed the country has no plans to become a NATO member, despite plans to host an office in Tokyo. Reuters
Hongkongers opt out of organ registry ‘amid fear of Chinese donations’. Thousands of Hongkongers have opted out of the city’s organ donor registry, seemingly as a form of subtle protest against proposals to establish deeper medical ties with mainland China.Amy Hawkins.The Guardian
TikTok CEO Says Oracle Has Begun Reviewing Its Source Code. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the American software company has begun a review of TikTok’s source code and Oracle is now the default destination for US user data. Zheping Huang and Caroline Hyde. Bloomberg
Chinese companies switch auditors to avoid US delisting risk. More than a dozen US-listed Chinese companies have switched from auditors in their home country to ones in the US and Singapore since 2022. The move is prompted by the US’ Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA), which rules that Chinese companies can be delisted if their auditors fail to comply with US accounting standards. Echo Wong and Kenji Kewase.Financial Times
Kunming denies market rumours that local government financing vehicles are struggling. Ratings agencies have downgraded their outlook for many of the city’s LGFVs since the start of this year. The city’s state-owned assets manager has condemned ‘false information’ being disseminated online, and says legal action is being taken to protect Kunming’s reputation. Chen Yikan. Yicai Global
China overtakes US in contributions to nature and science journals. Citations of Chinese research have risen because of sequencing of Covid-19 genome. Amy Hawkins. The Guardian
Driver’s Licenses, Addresses, Photos: Inside How TikTok Shares User Data. Exposing concerns over TikTok user data shared on Lark, ByteDance’s internal messaging and collaboration tool. Sapna Maheshwari and Ryan Mac. New York Times
China Can’t Afford Xi’s Quest for Security. The Chinese leader is betting his nation can absorb a hit to economic growth and still close the gap with the US. Minxin Pei. Bloomberg
Power of Siberia:China keeps Putin waiting on gas pipeline. Russia has still not secured a clear commitment from Beijing on Power of Siberia 2, a proposed Sino-Russian gas pipeline through Mongolia. Anastasia Stognei, Joe Leahy and Yuan Yang.Financial Times
The Chinese youth unemployment phenomenon. Key takeaways from a new Goldman Sachs report examining the causes of China’s rising youth unemployment rate. Robin Wigglesworth. Financial Times
Dissing China’s Recovery Is the New Black. Disillusion has replaced the high hopes that accompanied China’s reopening.Daniel Moss. Bloomberg
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin on Wednesday in Beijing.
China on alert as it faces new wave of coronavirus infections
NHK Japan News
China appears to be bracing for a fresh wave of coronavirus cases, with an infectious disease expert saying weekly numbers could hit 65 million at the end of June.
Xi Doubles Down on Ideological Indoctrination at the Expense of China’s Economic Recovery
In several speeches and policy pronouncements this spring, Chinese leader Xi Jinping outlined plans for a sweeping indoctrination drive aimed at tightening his hold on power. Xi’s declarations re-affirm his fixation on ideological control at the expense of economic growth, a move likely to further strain Sino-U.S. relations and increase the risks faced by American companies operating in China.
The one-sided battle between China and the US The Sydney Morning Herald Stephen Bartholomeusz China’s retaliation for efforts by the US – and, increasingly, its allies – to frustrate its technological ambitions underscores how one-sided the escalating contest is. At the weekend, China announced that Micron Technology’s products had failed a cybersecurity review, saying it had found ‘relatively serious’ cybersecurity risks for its ‘critical information infrastructure supply chain’ in products the US company sells in China that could affect national security.
Nanometers over GDP: Can technocrat leaders improve China’s industrial policy? MacroPolo Ruihan Huang and AJ Cortese Space is the final frontier, it is also a revolving door in Chinese politics these days. Of the 205 full members of the Chinese Communist Party 20th Central Committee, ten are aerospace industry veterans, some of whom ran major projects like the Chang’e Lunar Program. Pride over China’s successful space program is effusive in official media. With intensifying technology competition between China and the United States, Beijing can easily tout tangible products like trains, rockets, commercial jets, and its space station as ‘wins’ for technological self-sufficiency.
US State Department's top China policy official to step down. Rick Waters is the deputy assistant Secretary of State for China and Taiwan and leads the department's recently created China House (officially the Office of China Coordination). He will leave his role on June 23, but is set to remain a member of the senior foreign service. Michael Martina and Humeyra Pamuk. Reuters
US House panel on countering China urges actions on Xinjiang and Taiwan. House select committee issues its first set of policy recommendations, addressing the ‘ongoing genocide’ of Uyghurs and deterring Beijing from cross-strait attacks. Bochen Han.South China Morning Post
The Energy Department, which is in charge of the country’s nuclear weapons safety, has not fully implemented a program aimed at addressing “insider threats,” according to the Government Accountability Office. The nonpartisan congressional watchdog said the department had not implemented seven out of 26 minimum requirements to address these threats. The department concurred with the watchdog’s recommendations, including that it should create a process to integrate responsibilities better, adopt a single department-wide approach, and identify the resources it needs. Rachel Frazin reports for The Hill.
President Biden will introduce Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. as his nominee to become the next chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today. If confirmed by the Senate, Brown would replace Gen. Mark A. Milley. Brown would become the second African American to hold the Pentagon’s top uniformed post. Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post.
A China-focused special House committee passed proposals yesterday for legislation to address China’s ill-treatment of ethnic minorities and bolster U.S. support for Taiwan. The proposed measures would stop American finances that may contribute to China’s mass detention and surveillance of Uyghurs. The recommendations also outline ways to hasten the delivery of weapons already promised to Taiwan. James T. Areddy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A Chinese state-sponsored group has hacked into critical U.S. infrastructure, Microsoft and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance warn. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a joint advisory with its Five Eyes partners, warning that the “Volt Typhoon” hackers threatened all five allied countries following a “recently discovered cluster of activity.” The hack was launched against the U.S. territory of Guam, which has three U.S. military bases and would play a strategic role should the U.S. need to respond to any potential Chinese military attack on Taiwan. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
Alexander Vinnik, a Russian citizen and co-founder of a bitcoin exchange facing U.S. money-laundering charges, is mounting a campaign to be included in any prisoner exchange with Russia that could free detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Louise Radnofsky and Dustin Volz report for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S.-China relationship showing few signs of thaw
The United States has said for months that it wants to thaw its icy diplomatic relationship with China. New tension points keep getting in the way.
The U.S. advance of trade talks with Taiwan, made public last week, and China’s recent ban of memory chips from a U.S.-based company in its infrastructure projects are the latest frictions roiling ties between the two economic powers.
Members of a Chinese honor guard stand in formation in Beijing on May 24, 2023. | Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP
Chinese malware hits systems on Guam. Is Taiwan the real target? The New York Times David E. Sanger Microsoft called the hacking group ‘Volt Typhoon’ and said that it was part of a state-sponsored Chinese effort aimed at not only critical infrastructure such as communications, electric and gas utilities, but also maritime operations and transportation. The intrusions appeared, for now, to be an espionage campaign. But the Chinese could use the code, which is designed to pierce firewalls, to enable destructive attacks, if they choose.
China hacks US critical networks in Guam, raising cyberwar fears WIRED Andy Greenberg and Lily Hay Newman On Wednesday, Microsoft revealed in a blog post that it's tracked a group of what it believes to be Chinese state-sponsored hackers who have since 2021 carried out a broad hacking campaign that's targeted critical infrastructure systems in both US states and Guam, including communications, manufacturing, utilities, construction, and transportation.
Australia joins intelligence partners to blame China for US infrastructure cyber attack ABC News Jake Evans Australia has joined the United States and other Five Eyes cyber agencies to identify China as the culprit behind recent cyber attacks targeting ‘critical infrastructure’ in the US. A joint Cybersecurity Advisory was issued following a ‘recently discovered cluster of activity of interest’ associated with China's state sponsored hacking group Volt Typhoon.
Biden nominates Air Force General as next Chief of NSA and Cyber Command The Wall Street Journal Dustin Volz President Biden has nominated Air Force Lt. General Timothy Haugh to jointly run the nation’s main electronic spy agency and military’s central cyber mission, a position of enormous national security and intelligence importance, according to an internal Pentagon memo and a person familiar with the matter.
Biden nominates Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh to lead NSA, Cyber Command POLITICO Lara Seligman and Maggie Miller President Joe Biden has nominated U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, the no. 2 at U.S. Cyber Command, to serve as the new head of both Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, according to an Air Force notice. The notice, obtained by POLITICO, was sent out on Monday and is titled ‘General Officer Nomination.’ It announces that the president has nominated Haugh to the Senate for promotion to four-star general and assignment in the dual-hatted role.
Surgeon general warns that social media may harm children and adolescents The New York Times Matt Richtel, Catherine Pearson and Michael Levenson The nation’s top health official issued an extraordinary public warning on Tuesday about the risks of social media to young people, urging a push to fully understand the possible ‘harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.’
Berkeley’s $220M mistake exposed in massive deal with China The Daily Beast Yuichiro Kakutani U.C. Berkeley has failed to disclose to the U.S. government massive Chinese state funding for a highly sensitive $240 million joint tech venture in China that has been running for the last eight years. The Californian university has not registered with the U.S. government that it received huge financial support from the city of Shenzhen for a tech project inside China, which also included partnerships with Chinese companies that have since been sanctioned by the U.S. or accused of complicity in human rights abuses.
Netflix’s password crackdown has started in the U.S. The Washington Post Heather Kelly After nearly a year of warnings and testing, Netflix has finally launched its password-sharing crackdown in the United States. Anyone sharing their Netflix account login with family members or friends who don’t live at the same address will be asked to pay an extra $7.99 a month for each additional person.
Canada and Saudi Arabia yesterday agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, ending a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade. The dispute started when Canada’s embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia. Steve Scherer reports for Reuters.
South Korea warns US could ‘overburden’ its chipmakers with China limits. South Korea has called on Washington to review its conditions for new semiconductor subsidies, revealing its concerns over the impact of the Chips and Science Act on Korean chipmakers’ operations in China. Song Jung-a. Financial Times
Taiwan trade council opens office in Saudi Arabia
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) has opened an office in Saudi Arabia to participate in the Middle Eastern country’s economic transformation programs, reports said Wednesday.
South & Central Asia
India seeks to become ‘Global South champion’, as US-China rivalry heats up in the Pacific
Even as India emerges as a US partner in countering China, New Delhi is eyeing to be a “champion” of the Global South, aided by its historical links with the Pacific that give it a level of goodwill not even the US and Australia can match, analysts have said.
Sri Lanka to get Cyber Security Authority this year Daily Mirror Efforts are underway to form a Cyber Security Authority this year, the Ministry of Technology announced yesterday. State Minister Kanaka Herath addressing the Cyber Security Conference in Colombo shared the update while pointing out the importance of cyber security to the government.
No media will be censored through the Cyber Security Act - State Minister Daily News State Technology Minister Kanaka Herath emphasizes that no media will be censored through the establishment of the Cyber Security Act to eliminate the risk of misuse of digital systems in Sri Lanka. He states that under the National Information and Cyber Security Strategic Plan, the Cyber Security Act is expected to be submitted to Parliament this year, and he also points out that through it, it will be possible to establish the Cyber Security Authority.
Australia laments bureaucratic ‘permafrost’ that’s slowing AUKUS security alliance Bloomberg Katrina Manson A top Australian defense official said bloated US bureaucracy has delayed technology-sharing that was supposed to be a key benefit of the AUKUS security deal, adding to concerns that the young partnership isn’t living up to its early promise. Ninh Duong, science leader at the Australian Department of Defence, who’s based at Australia’s embassy in Washington and has been involved in AUKUS since the outset, blamed what he called ‘a permafrost layer of middle management’ in the US government for the delays.
ASIO agents embedded in Defence to protect AUKUS secrets from foreign spies The Sydney Morning Herald Matthew Knott ASIO officers are being embedded within the Defence Department to help prevent foreign spies from stealing the highly prized nuclear-powered submarine secrets Australia plans to acquire under the AUKUS pact with the United States and United Kingdom. Former US spy boss Mike Rogers warned earlier this year that Australia would become an ‘even more attractive cyber target’ because it is gaining access to nuclear-powered submarines, regarded as the crown jewels of the US military.
Forrest group Walk Free warns of slavery threat in Australia's solar panel supply chains ABC News Daniel Mercer and Nick Dole A human rights group funded by mining magnate Andrew Forrest has warned of the rapidly rising risks of modern slavery and forced labour in the world's renewable energy supply chains. Walk Free, an arm of Mr Forrest's Minderoo Foundation, will on Wednesday release a report outlining how Australia imports $US17.4 billion [$26 billion] of products that may have used coerced labour.
Australia and US reach in-principle agreement on technology safeguards agreement Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Australian Government Australia and the US have reached in-principle agreement on a technology safeguards agreement (TSA). Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden announced the TSA on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Japan. The TSA will allow for the transfer of US space technology, including rockets and satellites, to be launched from Australia.
Australia tries to break its dependence on China for lithium mining
The New York Times
Australia mines about 53 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, and virtually all of it is sold to China. But now the Australian government wants to break the world’s dependence on China for processing the minerals driving the green revolution. Pilbara Minerals, the country’s largest independent lithium miner, is among the companies exploring a new model for producing battery chemicals.
Ukraine - Russia
The drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month was likely orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units, U.S. officials said. U.S. intelligence agencies reached their preliminary assessment partly through intercepted communications in which Ukrainian officials said they believed their country was responsible for the attack. U.S. officials say their level of confidence that the Ukrainian government directly authorized the Kremlin drone attack is “low.” Julian E. Barnes, Adam Entous, Eric Schmitt, and Anton Troianovski report for the New York Times.
Washington is investigating reports that U.S. military vehicles were used in raids on Russia this week, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said yesterday. “We’ve been pretty darn clear: We don’t support the use of U.S.-made equipment for attacks inside Russia … we’ve been clear about that with the Ukrainians,” Kirby said. Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder on Tuesday said the U.S. had not authorized nor received Ukrainian requests for transferring equipment to paramilitary groups. Veronika Melkozerova and Alexander Ward report for POLITICO.
Three Russian hypersonic missile technology experts, arrested on suspicion of treason, stand accused of betraying secrets to China, two people familiar with the case have said. One suspect, Alexander Shiplyuk, head of Siberia’s Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, is suspected of handing over classified material at a scientific conference in China in 2017. Filipp Lebedev, Lucy Papachristou, and Mark Trevelyan report for Reuters.
The defense ministers of Russia and Belarus today signed a document on the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Moscow will retain control over the weapons and any decisions on their use, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is quoted as saying. Reuters reports.
The head of the Russian paramilitary group, Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), which said it was behind a cross-border raid into Russia from Ukraine, has vowed more incursions. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu promised a “harsh response” to future attacks. Ukraine denies involvement in the raid. RDK leader, Denis Kapustin, is a known Russian nationalist, and his group openly says it wants a mono-ethnic Russian state. BBC News reports.
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, chief of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner group, warned that Moscow’s brutal war could plunge Russia into revolution unless its detached wealthy elite committed to the conflict. Prigozhin also said the war had backfired spectacularly by failing to “demilitarize” Ukraine, one of President Vladimir Putin’s stated aims of the invasion. “Russia needs to live like North Korea for a few years, so to say, close the borders … and work hard,” he added. Mary Ilyushina reports for the Washington Post.
Ireland’s cyber security agency has been providing ‘non-lethal aid’ to Ukraine The Irish Times Cormac McQuinn Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has been providing ‘non-lethal aid’ to Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion, TDs and Senators have been told. Dr Richard Browne, the director of the NCSC, said the assistance has been given in ‘significant volumes’ and ‘helping Ukraine helps us better protect the people of Ireland.’
The cyber gulag: How Russia tracks, censors and controls its citizens AP News Dasha Litvinova Rights advocates say that Russia under President Vladimir Putin has harnessed digital technology to track, censor and control the population, building what some call a ‘cyber gulag’ — a dark reference to the labor camps that held political prisoners in Soviet times. It’s new territory, even for a nation with a long history of spying on its citizens.
Ukraine: Council adopts renewal of temporary trade liberalisation and other trade concessions
Council of the EU
The Council adopted today a Regulation which renews the suspension of all customs duties, quotas and trade defence measures on Ukrainian exports to the EU for another year, until June 2024.
Iran unveiled what it dubbed the latest iteration of its liquid-fueled Khorramshahr ballistic missile today. Defense Minister Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said the missile could be prepared for launch in a short period. AP News reports.
Sporadic clashes between Sudan’s warring factions threaten the week-long truce, which had maintained relative calm in the capital of Khartoum. Khalid Abdelaziz report for Reuters.
Exclusive: Chinese hackers attacked Kenyan government as debt strains grew Reuters Aaron Ross, James Pearson and Christopher Bing Chinese hackers targeted Kenya's government in a widespread, years-long series of digital intrusions against key ministries and state institutions, according to three sources, cybersecurity research reports and Reuters' own analysis of technical data related to the hackings.
Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign kickoff on Twitter mired by major glitches The Hollywood Reporter J. Clara Chan Turns out Twitter Spaces isn’t the best place to make a major announcement. Ron DeSantis learned this the hard way on Wednesday evening, when the Florida governor was scheduled to kick off his presidential campaign during a live audio conversation with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces after filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission earlier on Wednesday.
With DeSantis campaign event, Musk seeks to shore up a sinking Twitter The Guardian Kari Paul, Johana Bhuiyan and Maanvi Singh The news that Ron DeSantis will launch his presidential campaign during a live Twitter appearance with Elon Musk marks the tech billionaire’s latest attempts to shore up engagement with the social network at a moment of crisis for the company.
Elon Musk’s right-wing media venture scores another big win The Washington Post Philip Bump It was only a year ago that Elon Musk, then simply the guy who was hoping to buy Twitter, insisted that his politics sat squarely at the center of the national spectrum. Soon after he actually assumed control of Twitter, though, the idea that he was a moderate was untenable.
Climate scientists flee Twitter as hostility surges news.com.au AFP Scientists suffering insults and mass-spam are abandoning Twitter for alternative social networks as hostile climate-change denialism surges on the platform following Elon Musk's takeover. Researchers have documented an explosion of hate and misinformation on Twitter since the Tesla billionaire took over in October 2022.
Slap on the wrist or tech wake-up? Facebook fined €1.2bn for breaking privacy rules The Irish Times Bernice Harrison Facebook owner Meta has been slapped with a record €1.2bn fine by Ireland’s data regulator for violation of European privacy laws. The case centres on the social media giant’s transfers of personal data to the US, in defiance of EU law; the data includes photographs, videos or messages and ‘everyday data of social interactions with family, friends, acquaintances and others’.
Minister attacks Meta boss over Facebook message encryption plan BBC Chris Vallance A government minister has attacked Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg for the ‘extraordinary moral choice’ to roll out encryption in Facebook messages. Meta was allowing child abusers to ‘operate with impunity’, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said.
Google CEO: Building AI responsibly is the only race that really matters Financial Times Sunda Pichai AI is the most profound technology humanity is working on today; it will touch every industry and aspect of life. While some have tried to reduce this moment to just a competitive AI race, we see it as so much more than that. At Google, we’ve been bringing AI into our products and services for over a decade and making them available to our users.
China’s internet giants bet big on A.I. as Beijing looks to rival U.S. on tech ‘paradigm shift’ CNBC Ryan Browne China’s technology giants are banking on AI to bolster their businesses, touting new features for their existing services as well as novel generative AI tools, as hype around the technology reaches dizzying heights. Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu all sung the praises of generative AI — a subset of AI that deals in tools that can dream up text, images and other content in response to user prompts — on company earnings calls this month.
Op-ed: A shift in focus can break the ransomware business model Cybersecurity Connect Scott Magill Today, there is a new crown jewel, more precious than gold, oil, or automotive parts. Data has become today’s most desired commodity — and criminals haven’t skipped a beat. As the world’s digital dependencies grow, the vulnerability of the digital channels we rely on every day increases in lockstep.