August 5, 2022. Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity. Security researchers have uncovered another Chinese information operation using scores of inauthentic news sites and social media assets in an attempt to burnish the country’s image abroad. Chinese Info Ops Campaign Tied to PR Firm
AROUND THE WORLD
- August 4, 2022. Paul Globe, The Jamestown Foundation. Last Sunday, hundreds of Gagauz took to the streets of Komrat, the capital of their autonomous region in Moldova, to protest Chisinau’s plan to reduce the area’s autonomy regarding elections, the government’s pro-Western and anti-Russian policies and the rapidly deteriorating economic and environmental conditions in Gagauzia (Md.tsargrad.tv; Gagauzinfo.md, August 3). (The Gagauz region is suffering a particularly deep recession and, like the rest of Moldova, a serious drought.) The protesters and their representatives in the Moldovan parliament, who were challenging Chisinau’s position on these issues, quickly received acknowledgement of support from officials in Moscow who said that the Moldovan authorities were violating the region’s autonomy and that Russia would support a Gagauz claim to national self-determination, including complete independence. Gagauz Protest Chisinau’s Actions, Garnering Support From Moscow
- August 4, 2022. Vladimir Socor, The Jamestown Foundation. Russia’s war in Ukraine and general assault on the European order are impacting Moldova more directly and dangerously than any of Ukraine’s (or, for that matter, Russia’s) other neighboring countries. Chisinau’s firmly Western-oriented leadership took charge, barely one year ago, of the weakest and most vulnerable state and society in Europe’s East. This characteristically Moldovan disjuncture presents Russia with significant openings to capitalize on state weakness and social discontent, destabilize the government and potentially topple it. Pro-Russia Parties Resurgent in Moldova (Part One)
Russia-Ukraine (on the ground-impact)
- August 4, 2022. Yunis Sharifli, The Jamestown Foundation. The Russian-Ukrainian war and Western sanctions against Moscow have limited the effectiveness of Russia as a transit country, especially in land-based trade relations between the European Union and China. In this context, the Middle Corridor (Trans-Caspian International Transport Route) has attracted increased attention from companies and governments in China, the EU and the wider region as a potential alternate route for rail trade. (see EDM, April 19, 20). Optimization Efforts to Improve Transit Through the Critical Middle Corridor
- August 4, 2022. Kateryna Stepanenko, Layne Phillipson, Karolina Hird, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan, ISW. Ukraine is likely seizing the strategic initiative and forcing Russia to reallocate forces and reprioritize efforts in response to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.Russian forces are increasingly transferring personnel and equipment to Kherson and western Zaporizhia Oblasts at the expense of their efforts to seize Slovyansk and Siversk, which they appear to have abandoned. Russian forces are also redeploying military equipment – artillery and aviation in particular – to Crimea from elsewhere in Ukraine. Russian forces have previously withdrawn from or suspended offensive operations on Kharkiv City and the southern axis to prioritize capturing Luhansk Oblast, but they did so on their own initiative based on the changing priorities of their commanders. Russian forces in this case appear to be responding to the Ukrainian counteroffensive threat in Kherson Oblast rather than deliberately choosing objectives on which to concentrate their efforts. Even after Ukrainian forces defeated the Russian attempt to seize Kyiv early in the war, the Russians were able to choose freely to concentrate their operations in the east. Ukraine’s preparations for the counteroffensive in Kherson and the initial operations in that counteroffensive combined with the dramatic weakening of Russian forces generally appear to be allowing Ukraine to begin actively shaping the course of the war for the first time. Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, August 4
- August 4, 2022. Shantayanan Devarajan and Homi Kharas, Foreign Affairs, Brookings. Sri Lanka is in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its 74-year history. An acute foreign exchange shortage has caused supplies of food, fuel, and other essential goods to dwindle. Almost 90 percent of Sri Lankans do not have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program. People stand in gasoline lines for days at a time, and schools have been closed for weeks. Power cuts of eight to ten hours a day are not uncommon. Patients die in hospitals for lack of medicine. For those goods that are available, prices are skyrocketing; overall annual inflation exceeds 50 percent, with the price of food rising by more than 80 percent. Since April, when the government announced that it would default on $51 billion in external debt, the Sri Lankan rupee has lost 75 percent of its value. Is the Sri Lankan Debt Crisis a Harbinger?
- August 4, 2022. Patrick Tucker, Defense One. As international attention focused on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week, a Chinese disinformation campaign used fake news sites and fake social media accounts to try to undermine US-Taiwanese relations. It’s the work of a new group that has used similar methods to promote false information on everything from the recent Supreme Court abortion ruling to bioweapons in Ukraine. Chinese Disinformation Group Targeted Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit
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- August 4, 2022. Lauren Bauer, Aidan Creeron, Wendy Edelberg, and Sara Estep, Brookings. It is simultaneously true that labor supply is not back to its pre-pandemic projected path and that labor demand is strong relative to supply. The result is a smaller but hot labor market. Can a hot but smaller labor market keep making gains in participation?
- August 4, 2022. Mark MacCarthy, Brookings. On October 21, 2021, the day after Facebook changed its name to Meta, the company agreed to acquire Within Unlimited, a virtual reality development studio that designed and built the popular virtual reality fitness app, Supernatural. But on July 27, 2022, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint and request for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to halt the transaction. FTC’s case against Meta’s acquisition of Within seeks to shape the emerging VR market
- August 4, 2022. Samantha Gross, Brookings. Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin shocked Washington on July 27 by announcing that they had reached a deal on a climate bill. Dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the bill includes $369 billion in spending on climate action. If passed, it would be the most important climate legislation in U.S. history and would be a key step toward the United States achieving the emissions reduction goal that U.S. President Joe Biden presented at the Glasgow climate summit in November 2021. The climate bill’s oil and gas provisions are a worthwhile tradeoff
- August 4, 2022. Alan J. Auerbach and William G. Gale, Brookings. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated policy responses generated large federal budget deficits in recent years. The good news is that these factors are expected to have mainly short-term effects on the federal budget. The bad news is that – as the pandemic recedes, the associated policies expire, and the economy transitions to a more normal state of affairs – the government inherits a much larger national debt than was projected before the pandemic, and other fiscal parameters return more or less to their pre-COVID trajectories, which already were and still are unsustainable and will eventually require federal action. How quickly those actions are needed will depend on many factors, including the path of interest rates. The COVID Pandemic and the Federal Budget
- August 4, 2022. Anthony H. Cordesman, CSIS. If one looks back on media coverage of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia – and far too many of the analyses of the visit that have followed – it is amazing to see how much of that coverage focused on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the President’s “fist bump,” and on short term issues and trends. The key strategic challenges the U.S. faces in the Middle East are longer term and they go far beyond most of the reporting and discussion of the Biden visit. Looking beyond the Biden Visit to the Middle East and the “Fist Bump”
Counter Terrorism, Cybersecurity, Defense, Intelligence, Military, Security, Space
- August 5, 2022. Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity. Security researchers have uncovered another Chinese information operation using scores of inauthentic news sites and social media assets in an attempt to burnish the country’s image abroad. Chinese Info Ops Campaign Tied to PR Firm
- August 4, 2022. Alessandro Mascellino, Infosecurity. Cybersecurity experts from Deepwatch spotted activity from threat actors (TA) that “highly likely” exploited a security flaw in the Atlassian Confluence server (CVE-2022-26134) to deploy a new backdoor dubbed “Ljl” against a number of unnamed organizations. Hackers Exploit Atlassian Confluence Vulnerability to Deploy New ‘Ljl’ Backdoor
- August 4, 2022. Alessandro Mascellino, Infosecurity. Cybersecurity-focussed non-profit CREST has partnered up with the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) to release the OWASP Verification Standard (OVS). CREST and OWASP Partner on Verification Standard Program
- August 4, 2022. Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense. The National Reconnaissance Agency and Space Command are still working out “strategies” for coordinating operations under the “protect and defend” strategic framework they signed last year — including when NRO may need to take direction from SPACECOM during conflict or an impending attack, according to the spy agency’s director. ‘And we will do that’: NRO, SPACECOM still fleshing out ‘strategies’ during conflict
- August 4, 2022. Andrew Eversden, Breaking Defense. The US Army’s ground vehicle research lab is working on a collection of new batteries meant to propel the service toward hybrid and, eventually, fully-electric vehicles — ones that will give soldiers more operational flexibility in the field and could eventually power weapons systems. Army ground vehicle lab researches different batteries in quest for electrified fleet
- August 4, 2022. Justin Katz, Breaking Defense. A Florida congressman is accusing a trusted Navy contractor of having shady connections with China and is calling on the homeland security secretary to investigate, as the war over a top US Coast Guard shipbuilding program escalates. Congressman goes after Austal USA for former China ties; $3.3b contract hangs in balance
- August 4, 2022. Naval News. Austal has delivered the second of eight Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats (ECCPB’s) to the Royal Australian Navy. Austal delivers 2nd Evolved Cape-class patrol boat to RAN
- August 4, 2022. Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One. In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, as airlines grounded fleets and canceled buys of new aircraft, planemakers Boeing and Airbus were the focus of much of the attention. But Spirit AeroSystems, a key supplier to both, was hit extraordinarily hard. Major Aerospace Supplier Spirit AeroSystems Looks to Expand Military, Space Business
- August 4, 2022. Caitlin M. Kenney, Defense One. Emerging from rough surf, Australian soldiers jumped from a trio of Zodiac boats and, rifles raised, moved shoulder-to-shoulder up the windy beach—and through a group of reporters with their cameras. The mock amphibious assault had been made possible by U.S. Marines who had air-dropped the boats from a CH-53E Super Stallion, bundled up in packages to be inflated and retrieved. CNO: Pacific Forces Can Learn from NATO’s Work with Ukraine
- August 4, 2022. Tara Copp, Defense One. The National Reconnaissance Office controls some of the most advanced sensing capabilities in space, which are integrated into the military’s own space intelligence capabilities. If War Comes to Space, Who Will Control US Spy Satellites?
- August 4, 2022. Irene Loewenson, Defense News. The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on Thursday launched its NROL-199 mission — the second of its kind in less than a month’s time. US spy agency sends another satellite to space in show of rapid launch capability
- August 4, 2022. Send in the Marines? Reconsider Force Design 2030 beforehand “Send in the Marines! The situation is serious. We need to fix it — fast!”. To Americans, these words have a special meaning. Whether it’s conducting a raid on a little known island in the Pacific, launching a major amphibious assault on the Korean Peninsula, rescuing American medical students in Grenada, providing humanitarian assistance to starving people in Somalia, or battling terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Marines Corps, being a force in readiness, carries out its missions across the spectrum of human conflict in every clime and place.
- August 4, 2022. Jake Harrington, Jared Thompson, CSIS. In the early morning hours of Sunday, July 31, 2022, a CIA-operated remote piloted aircraft fired two Hellfire missiles at a house in Kabul, Afghanistan. The lone victim of the strike was confirmed to be al Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was living with his family in a safe house approximately two miles from the site of the former U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Despite two decades of relentless counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda’s core leadership, Zawahiri’s death paves the way for only the second leadership transition in the group’s four-decade history. This CSIS Critical Questions evaluates the implications of Zawahiri’s death for al Qaeda and the global salafi-jihadist movement, for the de facto Taliban government that provided him refuge, and for the future of U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. Zawahiri’s Death and What’s Next for al Qaeda
- August 4, 2022. Tom D. Miller, Brookings. As the world’s security environment changes, weapon system readiness becomes even more important for the national security of the United States. Determining how to optimize the organic industrial base to generate the most readiness in a fiscally constrained environment will have a profound impact on deterrence credibility. This paper builds on the concepts from a 2010 research paper on the sustainment of Air Force weapon systems and updates the examination on the three pivotal components of capability, capacity, and risk. Capability, capacity, and risk in the sustainment of Air Force weapon systems
Digital & Tech
- August 4, 2022. Konstantinos Komaitis, Brookings. At a recent meeting of the World Internet Conference, attendees were treated to a preview of China’s vision of the internet. In a trailer showcased as part of the meeting, people walk around a futuristic city experiencing super-connected streets and underground spaces, robots and other artificial intelligence tools provide services, and everyone is connected via 5G networks. Protecting the open internet from China’s latest governance body
- August 4, 2022. Melissa Koide, Brookings. Artificial intelligence and machine learning analyses are driving critical decisions impacting our lives and the economic structure of our society. These complex analytical techniques—powered by sophisticated math, computational power, and often vast amounts of data—are deployed in a variety of critical applications, from making healthcare decisions to evaluating job applications to informing parole and probation decisions to determining eligibility and pricing for insurance and other financial services. AI for good: Research insights from financial services