Possibility of Constitutional Crisis in the US Caused by Government Surveillance

When government agents spy on the president, the nation is dangerously close to experiencing a ‘deep state’ coup.
The federal government has been collecting the phone records of United States citizens for years. The National Security Agency (NSA) collected 151 million phone records in 2016. This despite having obtained court orders to track only 42 terrorism suspects. This bulk data collection breaks the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The right of citizens to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure is being violated.
The dangers posed by illegal domestic spying go far beyond NSA privacy violations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also spied on U.S. citizens with barely a pretense of legality.
Rep. Devin Nunes released a memo on January 18 detailing fraudulent methods the FBI used to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. To get a court order to wiretap Page, FBI officials used an unverified report from a man paid by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. By applying a “two-hop” rule, this court order allowed the FBI to spy on Page, anyone connected to Page, and anyone connected to anyone connected to Page.
Both NSA and FBI officials have used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to wiretap law-abiding citizens. Such abuses could plunge the nation into a crisis.
On Jan. 5, 2017, outgoing President Barack Obama called a meeting of law enforcement officials. Both NSA director Michael Rogers and FBI director James Comey attended. They discussed how the investigation of the Trump campaign could continue after Donald Trump was sworn in as president.
Article ii of the U.S. Constitution makes the president the chief of the executive branch. When government agents spy on the president, the nation is close to experiencing a deep-state coup. What happens when elements of the executive branch go rogue and start fighting against their boss?
Judge Andrew Napolitano, a legal analyst for Fox News, recently warned of such a constitutional crisis. He said branches of the federal government may soon turn on each other.
“The FISA court has granted 99.9 percent of government surveillance requests,” he said in a March 22 interview. “You see the anti-Trump political dossier funded by the Democrats. You see [former FBI deputy director] Andrew Mccabe and his colleagues using this dossier as the basis for a FISA application. … A constitutional crisis occurs when one branch of government is going after another. Or when one branch of government is going after itself. I hope and pray that I am wrong and that a constitutional crisis is not coming. But these things are bred in secret when we don’t know what the courts are doing.”
In 1975, Sen. Frank Church said, “If this government ever became a tyranny … the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know.”
During his time in office, Obama helped create one of the most powerful surveillance states on Earth. His administration spent $100 billion on eavesdropping satellites, a 1 million-square-foot data surveillance warehouse in Utah, and secret taps on undersea Internet cables. These surveillance tools make the U.S. government far more powerful than it was in the 1970s.
While most Americans are unaware of the danger, the fact that President Trump’s administration has exposed much of the corruption within the NSA and FBI is a blessing. The nation was almost at a point where the government could “impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back,” as Church said.
No one has corroborated the salacious charges made in the dossier that the FBI used as evidence to gain permission to wiretap the Trump campaign. But many politicians are using the rumors it generated in their ongoing campaign to impeach the president. Some fear impeachment proceedings could lead to “deep state” tyranny or civil anarchy.
“Try to impeach him. Just try it,” political consultant Roger Stone said last year. “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen. Both sides are heavily armed, my friend. This is not 1974. People will not stand for impeachment.”
When people lose faith in government institutions, the tensions build and the rule of law breaks down. Protests and armed resistance, however, do not address the root cause of America’s problems.
More and more Americans are realizing that the government is sick and the nation is faint. The Department of Justice and the FBI are spying on American citizens and undermining their president. But the more the Trump administration tries to fight these nefarious activities, the more divided Americans become. Now people on both sides of the political spectrum are openly talking about the possibility of a second civil war. America’s problems are bigger than any man can solve.

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Overview of China- US Trade

Trump is painted as a hindrance to free trade.  Is he really so? The facts paint a very different picture. America has been under sustained economic assault for decades. The only reason there hasn’t been a trade war is that America hasn’t been fighting back. But if it hasn’t been a trade war, then it has been a trade beatdown.

Consider some facts:

  • From 2000 to 2013, the value of Chinese exports more than quadrupled. Harvard Business Review wrote, “We found that Chinese companies could do this only because of subsidies they received from China’s central and provincial governments.”
  • In 2013, China was spending up to 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product on subsidies aimed at encouraging foreign firms to set up in China—according to London School of Economics. It wrote that “the subsidies have been instrumental in concentrating a tremendous amount of manufacturing activity in China.”
  • American firms must hand over trade secrets to China if they want to do business there. Generally they’re either forced into a partnership with a Chinese firm or forced to let officials examine technology that would usually be sensitive. “The goals of Chinese policy are easily summarized: They wish to extract technologies from Western companies; use subsidies and nontariff barriers to competition to build national champions; and then create a protected domestic market for these champions to give them an advantage as they venture out in the world,” wrote James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, last summer.
  • China manipulates its currency to give it an unfair advantage against the United States. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that this manipulation increases America’s trade deficit by $200 billion to $5,600 billion a year. These are huge figures. Stopping this would increase the size of the American economy by 2 to 4.9 percent a year, they estimate. They estimate that eliminating this would create between 2.3 million and 5.8 million jobs. Crucially, 40 percent of these jobs would be in the manufacturing industry, which has been hit so hard in recent years.

This is just the briefest overview of a huge topic

Sunday Special: Maratha-Sikh Face-off in Punjab- A Page from Forgotten History

Indians always lost when they could not unite. From the times of Alexander, this has been the situation. But while the names of Jai Chands, Mir Jafars and their ilk are well-known, the role of Sikhs & Marathas has not been above board. The first war of independence was lost as Sikhs under the command of Gen Napier were loyal to the Raj. This is the story of one such mutual incrimination.
The 18th Century was also a fascinating period in the history of Punjab where Sikhs, Marathas, Persians, Afghans and the remnants of Mughal empire clashed to rule or to simply collect revenue and loot without administrative responsibility. The decaying Mughal empire and its governors tried desperately to prolong their rule but lost it all due to the onslaught of the Persians, Afghans, Marathas and the Sikhs. Nadir Shah had only one aim – loot and scoot. The Afghans under Ahmed Shah Abdali had a mixed approach. They desired to rule only the areas adjoining their homeland and east of Indus focussed on revenue collection and loot.
In summer of 1757 having looted and ravaged Delhi, Ahmed Shah Abdali returned to Afghanistan after appointing Afghan governors for Punjab at Lahore and Sirhind to control areas west and east of Sutlej respectively. In September 1757 Imad – ul – Mulk, a powerful noble and former Prime Minister, invited the Marathas to invade Delhi to consolidate his own position and to drive out the Rohilla Chief, Najib – ud – Daulah, who was acting as Abdali’s plenipotentiary. The Maratha army under Raghunath Rao, the brother of Peshwa Balaji Bajirao, did more than that. The Marathas ousted the Rohillas from Delhi and seized their territory of Saharanpur. They further threatened the Sirhind Sarkar across the Yamuna under Abdali’s governor Abdus Samad Khan.
The mercurial Adina Beg, a great survivor who ruled the Bist or Jullundur doab for 20 years by allying with and fighting against all players in Punjab, was under pressure from Jahan Khan, Abdali’s general, who was the regent to Taimur Shah (eleven year old son of Abdali) the notional governor of Lahore. Adina decided to decimate Afghan power to secure Lahore for himself and invited the Marathas to Punjab pointing to the rich harvest of spoils and promising them one lakh rupees for each day of fighting and Rs 50,000 for each day of march/halt.
The Marathas remembering the vision of Peshwa Baji Rao1,1720-1740, to establish Hindu Pad Padshahi (Hindu empire) and the lure of Punjab’s riches, made the first attack on Sirhind in end December 1757. The Afghan governor, Abdus Samad Khan, patched up an ongoing conflict with Ala Singh of Patiala and entrenched himself at Sirhind. However, he managed to avoid battle by paying a tribute of five lakh rupees and Marathas returned to east bank of the Yamuna. Not adequately satisfied the Marathas returned in January 1758 with a large army under Raghunath Rao.
An unusual alliance of the Marathas, Mughals under Adina Beg and the Dal Khalsa (Sikh confederation) under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia attacked and captured Sirhind on March 21, 1758. The city was thoroughly plundered which also led to bad blood between Sikhs and Marathas as the Sikhs garnered the lion’s share. The allies then marched to Lahore. The city was abandoned by the Afghans to the “Indian alliance”. The Afghan escapees were were waylaid at Wazirabad on the Chenab. While Taimur and Jahan Khan escaped across the river, the entire treasury which was still east of the river was captured by the victors. Large scale slaughter of Afghan troops took place. The prisoners were marched by the Sikhs to Amritsar to clean the Golden Temple sarovar where dead cows and excreta had been dumped earlier by Jehan Khan.
Surprisingly despite having an army of 2,00,000 and supported by Adina Beg and the Sikhs, the Marathas did not pursue the Afghans across the Indus to deal the coupe de grace. They were content to enforce “chauth” (one forth of revenue) and “sardeshmukhi” (one tenth of revenue for king/governor). The frontiers of Punjab were left to be guarded by 15000 – 20000 troops in widely separated forts at Multan, Peshawar and Attock. There was no unified command. Bulk of the army under Raghunath Rao and his deputy Malhar Rao Holkar made its way back to Delhi and central India.
The Marathas gave the Adina the title of Nawab and made him the overlord of Lahore and Sirhind, virtually pacing entire Punjab under him for an annual payment of rupees seventy five lakhs. They abandoned the Sikhs to the now powerful Adina who began pursuing them with vengeance for past wrongs. The Sikhs in turn began guerrilla raids on the Marathas and never trusted them again. 50 years later even Ranjit Singh despite repeated requests refused to ally with them against the British.
The reasons for the Marathas abandoning the subjugated Punjab and giving up the dreams of Hindu Pad Padshahi were many. The region was too far away from their court in Pune and the Maratha bases in Central India. There were many powerful leaders in the Maratha army. In central India these leaders had established their own fiefdoms. Maratha empire was actually functioning as a confederacy. These leaders felt that being in Punjab would make them lose control over their central India fiefdoms. Also, not seizing the Delhi throne which was the symbol of power in India, was a major folly. Alas, there was no Scindia or Holkar for Punjab. The decision to invest in Adina Beg rather than the sons of the soil Sikhs and not consolidating Punjab with their own or a Sikh governor led to their debacle in Punjab an year and a half later and eventually to their rout at Panipat in 1761.
In the spring of 1759 the impotent emperor Alamgir II again invited Abdali to invade and save his throne. The Rohilla Chief Najib ud Daulah also pitched in. Abdali began his fifth invasion and quickly routed the Maratha detachments at Peshawar, Attock and Multan, and Lahore was captured in October 1759. Thus ended the Maratha “foray” into the Punjab heartland and set the stage for the coupe de grace by Abdali on 14 January 1761 at Panipat. The Sikhs in the meantime, established a Kingdom – the first princely state of Patiala.

 

Look to Robots to Understand What Makes us Human

Asking people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, offers a glimpse into how they think about mental life.
The responses show that Americans break mental life into three parts—body, heart, and mind—a finding that challenges earlier research on this topic and could have important implications for understanding people’s social interactions and moral judgments.
Viewing a robot as having a “mind”—or even a “heart” may allow people to humanize robots.
Deep, philosophical questions about mental life, like “What is consciousness?” or “What does it mean to be alive?” are difficult for most people to answer, according to Kara Weisman, a PhD student in psychology at Stanford University and the study’s lead author.
Rather than looking at broad, philosophical questions, Weisman, along with Stanford psychologists and study coauthors Carol Dweck and Ellen Markman, explored how ordinary people make sense of the sensations, emotions, thoughts, and other mental capacities that make up mental life.
The group asked 1,400 US adults simple questions about the mental capacities of different beings. For example, in the first study, half the participants saw a picture of a robot and the other half a picture of a beetle. They then answered questions such as, “Is a beetle capable of experiencing joy?” and “Is a robot capable of experiencing guilt?” In total, they asked each participant 40 similar questions, then analyzed how all the responses related to each other.
“Our primary interest was really in the patterns of people’s answers to these questions,” Weisman says. “So, when a certain person thought a robot could think or remember things, what else did they think it was capable of doing? By looking at the patterns in people’s responses to these questions, we could infer the underlying, conceptual structure.”
Those patterns resulted in three main clusters of mental capacities: body (physiological sensations, like hunger and pain), heart (social-emotional abilities, like guilt and pride), and mind (perceptual and cognitive abilities, like memory and vision). These clusters were prominent whether participants judged beings individually, when they were compared directly against each other or when the researchers expanded the cast of characters to include entities like a fetus, a chimpanzee, or a stapler.
Two components or three?
A 2007 study from Harvard psychologists has largely served as the standard in mind perception. That study produced a framework with two components: experience (the ability to feel hunger and joy) and agency (the ability to plan or have self-control).
The Stanford scholars called that study “pioneering work,” but say it does not address how people parse mental life itself. Instead, Weisman says that the Harvard study addressed the difference among beings, for example, between a beetle and a dog, but didn’t identify the categories or parts of the mind.
“If the question is, ‘What are the parts of the mind?’ then I think our studies indicate the answer is more like this body-heart-mind than the agency-experience framework. I think these two frameworks can work together to inform our social reasoning more broadly, and it would be fascinating to explore this in future research,” Weisman says.
Humanizing robots and each other
The findings, the researchers say, may play a role in improving people’s relationships with technology and with fellow humans. For example, through the body-heart-mind framework, viewing a robot as having a “mind”—or even a “heart”—may allow people to humanize robots, therefore increasing the likelihood of a smooth interaction.
The framework could also shed light on how to reduce dehumanization between people, the researchers say. For example, objectification might take the form of emphasizing a person’s body over the mind and heart, while other forms of prejudice and stereotyping might take the form of focusing only on people’s “minds” and neglecting their emotional life, or focusing only on people’s “hearts” and underestimating their intellectual abilities.
The body-mind-heart model may provide a useful perspective for understanding how and why people enhance or reduce mental capacities within those three major clusters.
“This is an exciting new framework, but it’s just the beginning,” Dweck says. “We hope it can serve as a takeoff point for theory and research on how ordinary people think about age-old questions about the mind.”

 

Reappraising India-US Defense Ties

Defence cooperation remains high on rhetoric, short on delivery. Both South Block and Capitol Hill need to do more to revitalise and elevate ties.
If the end of the Cold War represented an inflexion point for the world order, it was also a traumatic event for India.
Even as India shifts, ponderously, into damage-control mode in its neighbourhood to atone for past diplomatic maladroitness, the larger security environment is assuming complex dimensions with a US-China trade-war looming, US-Russia relations taking a nose-dive and China’s Belt and Road masterplan unfolding in the Indo-Pacific. For India, however, it is the emerging Moscow-Beijing axis and Russia’s courtship of Pakistan that should ring alarm bells. Given that nations have neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests, it is perhaps time for South Block to consider an agonising policy reappraisal.
If the end of the Cold War represented an inflexion point for the world order, it was also a traumatic event for India. The disintegration of the USSR saw India losing not only a political ally and sole purveyor of arms, but also the rationale for “non-alignment”. The US, with an excellent sense of timing, reached out with proposals for military-to-military cooperation in 1991. The Indian Navy, keen to shed its isolation, initiated the first Indo-US naval exercises to be named “Malabar” in May 1992. In its 21st edition last July, Malabar became — much to China’s discomfiture — a tripartite exercise with units of the Indian, Japanese and US navies participating.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the professional respect and bonhomie generated by a quarter century of naval engagement has acted as a catalyst in Indo-US relations. A bipartisan consensus in Washington about enlisting India as a strategic partner led to then-President George Bush in 2005 making an offer which New Delhi could not refuse. The unprecedented US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which followed in 2008, accorded India the “de facto” status of a nuclear weapon state without signing the Non Proliferation Treaty.
Parallel US overtures followed in the defence arena. The 2004 Agreement on Next Steps in Strategic Partnership was followed by a Defence Framework Agreement in 2005 and the 2012 Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), envisaging the transfer of advanced technologies to India. In 2016, India was accorded the status of Major Defence Partner by the US Congress.
The DTTI has, however, made little actual progress because of divergent objectives. While India seeks technology, the US remains focused on trade. Thus, despite all the hoopla, India’s defence capability has benefited only from $15 billion worth of hardware — comprising patrol-aircraft for the navy, transports and helicopters for the IAF, and howitzer guns for the army — purchased under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) scheme.
A major impediment in the Indo-US defence relationship has been India’s reluctance to sign the “foundational agreements” required by the US to enhance defence ties. After protracted discussions assuaged India’s justifiable apprehensions about a compromise of strategic autonomy as well as the security of military information, the Logistical Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 2016. Two others — the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement — still hang fire due to bureaucratic reservations. A delay in signing these will deprive India of high-tech equipment that should accompany US hardware, and prevent the sharing of useful geospatial information between the two militaries.
While the warming of the Indo-US relationship brings comfort in unsettling times, Indians must beware of hyperbole obscuring reality in the bilateral discourse. American offers of “help to make India a great power” and overzealous declarations that India is “.not just a regional power, but a global power”, should arouse scepticism. Undoubtedly, India is destined to assume its rightful place in the world order but a reality check will tell us that our time has not yet come.
The tantalising vision of a “Super India”, offered by the promise of its growing economy, illusory “demographic dividend” and a nuclear arsenal, is gradually receding in the face of harsh domestic realities. On the other hand, China, with five times India’s GDP, is surging ahead to attain economic, military and technological parity with the US. Aiming to be Asia’s sole hegemon, China has armed Pakistan and enlisted it as a surrogate, thereby containing India within a South Asian “box”.
For India to attain its full economic and strategic potential, it will need a breathing spell and some insurance against hegemony. This respite must also be used to boost its military muscle by urgently modernising the armed forces and acquiring advanced technology for its defence-industrial complex. The choices before India are few and a partnership with the US appears a pragmatic and realist option at this juncture.
In a statement issued after their meeting in November 2017, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to enhance their cooperation as major defence partners and resolved that “two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s two greatest militaries”. This is where we need to separate rhetoric from reality. India’s military, in terms of size, capability and professionalism, is no doubt third or fourth in the world pecking order. However, one would hesitate to call it as the “world’s greatest” because it lacks a military-industrial support base and is abjectly dependent on imported weaponry.
While hardware purchases from the US, under the FMS scheme, offer an expeditious (and corruption-free) route for our stalled military modernisation, the DTTI must serve to bolster design and production capabilities in defence. Instead of pursuing symbolism and arcane schemes, the DTTI should facilitate a transfer of technologies that have eluded our engineers and scientists. Some examples: Design and production of infantry weapons, turbo jet engines for fighters, diesel engines for battle tanks, electric propulsion for ships, advanced drones, artificial intelligence and modern nuclear reactors to drive ships and submarines.
In order to elevate the Indo-US relationship to a strategic level and resolve many outstanding bilateral issues, Trump and Modi had agreed to establish a “2+2” dialogue between the respective defence and foreign ministers. Scheduled for mid-April, the parleys have had to be postponed; awaiting the confirmation of a new US Secretary of State.
As and when the “2+2” dialogue does take place, the Indian side would do well to remind their US interlocutors that in the past three decades the USSR and Russia have, amongst other items, leased two nuclear submarines, sold an aircraft-carrier, and transferred technology for a supersonic cruise missile to India. So, if the US is to deliver on tall promises, some serious re-thinking may be required on Capitol Hill.

Threats to the Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons systems were first developed at a time when computer capabilities were in their infancy and little consideration was given to potential malicious cyber vulnerabilities.
Many of the assumptions on which current nuclear strategies are based pre-date the current widespread use of digital technology in nuclear command, control and communication systems, write Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis, in Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems – Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences.
There are a number of vulnerabilities and pathways through which a malicious actor may infiltrate a nuclear weapons system without a state’s knowledge. Human error, system failures, design vulnerabilities, and susceptibilities within the supply chain all represent common security issues in nuclear weapons systems.
Cyberattack methods such as data manipulation, digital jamming and cyber spoofing could jeopardize the integrity of communication, leading to increased uncertainty in decision-making.
During peacetime, offensive cyber activities would create a dilemma for a state as it may not know whether its systems have been the subject of a cyberattack. This unknown could have implications for military decision-making, particularly for decisions affecting nuclear weapons deterrence policies.
At times of heightened tension, cyberattacks on nuclear weapons systems could cause an escalation, which results in their use. Inadvertent nuclear launches could stem from an unwitting reliance on false information and data. Moreover, a system that is compromised cannot be trusted in decision-making.
Recommendations
Actions to reduce the risk of cybersecurity vulnerabilities may take place in the public and private sector, as well as at the national and international levels.
The private sector is often on the cutting edge of innovation in cyber development. Therefore, in order to avoid being left behind the technological curve, it is important for states to retain private sector expertise into national defence strategies.
Closer coordination between national defence departments and the private sector will ensure that the most recent technology is used and that defence policies are in sync with cyber innovation.
However, there is a contradiction in cooperating with the private sector.
Cyber offense
Although states need to limit their own cyber vulnerabilities, the existence of technical vulnerabilities could give them an advantage in future cyber offensive campaigns. In other words, national cyber agencies may prefer to be at the forefront of writing malicious codes and infiltrating industrial control systems, rather than openly sharing information about software vulnerabilities with manufacturers or users.
For example, the NSA has been accused of developing and storing cyber vulnerabilities, which was demonstrated by the discovery of the WannaCry ransomware.
At the national level, in times of uncertainty, states will tend to err on the side of shifting away from behaviour that could be misinterpreted. Russia, for instance, cancelled its air force exercises and called off planned missile testing in response to the 11 September 2001 Al-Qaeda attack.
The continuation of this type of behaviour will help prevent unintentional escalations at times of heightened tensions, particularly when time is limited and there is political and public pressure to respond to an attack.
Risk scenarios
Cybersecurity preparedness requires the analysis of possible cyber risk scenarios and an evaluation of threat vectors and consequences.
There are nine countries that possess nuclear weapons and therefore, at a minimum, 18 scenarios involving two actors, an aggressor and a defender.
xxThe likelihood of these scenarios and survivability of nuclear forces should be examined in detail in these studies.
Survivability of nuclear forces differs from country-to-country and country-specific analysis should be incorporated in preparations.
Defence planners already usually account for system failures and an opponent’s defence mechanisms in their targeting strategies. A useful addition to this would be to take into account cyberattacks and their consequences. By understanding such pressures states can explore arms control and other cooperative security measures to reduce miscalculation and avoid unintentional destabilizing actions.
Better decisions
Mitigation measures to prevent misunderstanding between nuclear weapons states may include building in more time in the decision-making process to allow for better informed decisions.
In addition, increasing the number of people responsible for decisions in nuclear command and control, and increasing the number of intelligence-sharing measures, may lead to better informed decisions. For critical systems, redundancy measures are very important – meaning that if a component fails, the system would continue to function through back-up components.
One of the redundancy measures employed in nuclear weapons systems, for example, is to rely both on digital and analogue routes for command and control. Ongoing system engineering should also be incorporated into the whole lifecycle of weapons systems and used to maintain system integrity even under stress. To achieve this, cybersecurity needs to be considered and included from the design stage onwards.
Stress testing
Further precautionary measures may involve states reviewing significant procurement processes in the defence sector with special attention paid to cybersecurity. Such measures could include conducting stress-testing and simulation exercises to judge the suitability of components to provide reliable information.
Moreover, engaging in multilateral threat and intelligence sharing with allies would help to rapidly assess the credibility of communication and information. On the technical side, examining the vulnerability management lifecycle of cyber systems would be a useful precautionary measure to ensure ongoing compatibility as IT systems and industrial control systems have different lifecycles.
Protocols for submarine and other platforms and facilities and developing well-understood standards may help reduce the false belief about the security of air-gapping, the process of isolating computer systems from the internet.
Cyber incident hotlines that provide direct links between governments for use in times of heightened tension would allow them to re-examine the emerging situation, to acknowledge the threat and respond accordingly.
As part of this approach it may be essential to have a dedicated cybersecurity team on submarine patrols going forward. Similarly, it may become imperative to establish national cyber emergency response teams that focus fundamentally on industrial control systems in nuclear weapons complexes.
At worst, cyberattacks could lead to deliberate misinformation and the inadvertent launch of nuclear weapons
Dangers and risks
Cyber vulnerabilities within nuclear weapons systems and structures present a whole set of dangers and risks. At best, cyber insecurity in nuclear weapons systems is likely to undermine trust and confidence in military capabilities and in the nuclear weapons infrastructure. At worst, cyberattacks could lead to deliberate misinformation and the inadvertent launch of nuclear weapons.
In times of crisis, loss of confidence in nuclear weapons capabilities would factor into decision-making and could undermine beliefs in nuclear deterrence – particularly in extending nuclear deterrence to allied countries.
The challenges that cyber risks pose to nuclear weapons systems could be seen as an opportunity to create a cross-cutting risk mitigation measure that benefits both traditional adherents and sceptics of nuclear deterrence.
The loss of trust in nuclear weapons systems due to compromised data integrity or a systems failure would create significant issues for policymakers. In that eventuality, strategies that give decision-makers more time to respond will help to ease the process. Redundancy in communication systems may help to increase system resilience and help check the trustworthiness of information.
At a time when decision-makers do not trust nuclear weapons systems, verification of information through diversified intelligence sources would be crucial. Decision-makers should be informed about the confidence and uncertainties in the cybersecurity of nuclear weapons systems.
Red teaming
They should also take part in simulations where decision-making processes can be elaborated in detail. For example, red-teaming exercises role play situations of high-uncertainty and reduced time frames to make decisions.
It is highly important that decision makers, rather than their deputies or staff, take part in this process.
Cyber vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons systems are presenting dangers that have been seldom considered in the public domain. The subject requires urgent attention from academia and governments – including those without nuclear weapons but which have nuclear allies, particularly if nuclear weapons are stationed on their territories, and in any country that might be affected by the use of nuclear weapons.
It is unlikely that nuclear weapons possessing governments will be forthcoming in public or with each other on the cyber vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons systems. The one exception may be between the UK and the US, both of which possess systems that are already highly integrated and connected from the design to the deployment stages.
However, it is vital that academics, thinktanks and NGOs press for information and reassurances from governments that such issues are being addressed, and that those governments are holding open discussions with the public, including the media and parliamentarians.
After all, it is the public that will pay the ultimate price for complacency regarding cybersecurity of nuclear weapons systems.

Saturday Special: How About Setting Up Business in Space

Space habitats will be launched from Earth initially, but will also come to rely on resources sourced from space.
Companies around the world – in transportation, exploration, energy, construction or hospitality – are all looking upwards for the next growth opportunity. Space is quickly becoming a place where the industries that power our global economy will conduct business.
What do we call an economic area like this, that is not limited to a single planet, and no longer has physical boundaries? We can’t call it an industry, when private industrial groups can generate revenue and profit not only from the Earth but from near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), the Moon and Mars and beyond. It is simply a medium in which humanity conducts commerce.
Let’s take a look at the industry sectors that will be the first to take advantage of our expanded economic sphere, and some of the specific opportunities for growth.
Energy
Valued at over $8.4 trillion and growing at a 4.1% compound annual growth rate, energy is the largest industry on Earth.
Humans are prolific energy consumers, and soon there will be more humans in space.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, anticipates “millions of people living and working in space” in the coming decades. Bezos is so confident of this outcome that he is investing more than $1 billion per year into his space transportation firm, Blue Origin. An in-space population of this magnitude will require enormous amounts of energy to live, work, and transit. This energy will come from solar power, which is more effective when gathered in space due to the lack of a filtering atmosphere; and chemical rockets, which will be the primary transportation mechanism for the foreseeable future.
The most efficient chemical rocket propellants are composed of cryogenic liquid oxygen combined with liquid hydrogen or methane. Initially, the propellant needed to fuel the space economy will be launched from Earth, as both the United Launch Alliance (a joint-venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing) and SpaceX have proposed to do in the near future. However, there is a much more attractive way to source the propellants needed to support a sustained human presence in space: mining it.
Mining
The global mining industry has tumbled in recent years from a market value of more than $1.6 trillion in 2010, to $714 billion in 2016, but this may change quickly once the “global” definition of mining is transformed by the emerging space resource industry.
Space resources can be extracted from celestial bodies, most notably asteroids and the Moon. Goldman Sachs released a report earlier this year that declared asteroid mining is more realistic than perceived, with costs “comparable to traditional mines”. The Goldman report also noted that “while the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower.”
The Government of Luxembourg believes so strongly in this emerging industry it recently created the $227 million Space Resources initiative to establish Luxembourg as a European hub for space resources. Its aim is to contribute to the peaceful exploration and sustainable utilization of space resources for the benefit of humankind. Space mining activities will initially focus on water and water-derived propellants to enable in-space infrastructure. Once this propellant is readily available, companies will begin sourcing structural metals for construction projects and eventually precious metals needed for in-space manufacturing or possibly for return to Earth.
Transportation
The most important resource that will be mined in space is water.
Water is critical for all life-support functions in space: sustenance, hygiene, and food production. Water can serve as an effective shield from the dangerous radiation present in space. Water is also the single most important feedstock for in-space refineries, which will produce rocket propellants for sale to transportation providers.
Making propellants available beyond Earth’s gravitational influence will lead to the creation of the first in-space superhighway – a series of fuel depots placed in strategic locations throughout the solar system.
Imagine the growth potential of the energy, mining, and refining industries once they are freed from the constraints of an economy that is limited only to Earth. The in-space transportation and logistics firms who will consume these products are already well established and are headed by titans of industry: Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Elon Musk (SpaceX), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), and Tory Bruno (United Launch Alliance). The door is now open to in-space mining firms like Planetary Resources (backed by industrial giant Bechtel and the Government of Luxembourg) to capture this increasingly important market by providing water and water-based propellants to the space transportation industry.
Construction
Today, the global construction industry competes with the energy industry for the title of the world’s largest industry, and this rivalry will continue in space. The first orbital construction systems will be deployed before the end of the decade. These robotic spacecraft will be capable of assembling large structures in orbit and repairing or refueling existing satellites. When combined with zero-gravity additive manufacturing techniques, this enables construction systems which can “print” and assemble massive structures in the medium of space. The future of construction in space will look nothing like it does on Earth, but it will be equally valuable because the techniques and service offerings will apply across the entire in-space value chain. A propellant refinery can be assembled on orbit. Asteroid mines can be repaired autonomously. Solar power plants can be massively scaled and upgraded to meet the requirements of almost any project.
Hospitality and real estate
Humans can only live, work and play in space if they have shelter from the harsh environment of space. Today, the International Space Station (ISS) has had a sustained human presence for over 10 years, but this too will soon change.
Numerous commercial space station companies, including one created by billionaire hotel-chain-founder Robert Bigelow, are competing for lucrative contracts that range from supporting sovereign astronauts and high-net-worth tourists, to leasing space-in-space for orbital manufacturing and research and development programmes. This new industry is anticipated to generate $37 billion in the next decade alone.
Space habitats will be launched from Earth initially, but as the resource supply chain expands and metals from asteroids and the Moon become available, this sector will also come to rely on resources sourced from space. Construction firms will combine high-quality metallic feedstocks with robotic orbital assembly fleets as we gain the ability to create orbital megastructures: hotels, factories, and permanent settlements that are no longer limited by size. The first cities in space will become possible as markets for real-estate on orbit emerge. Space will become affordable and profitable for developers.
Our global economy is limited by its very name. When we realize that Earth’s economy is only the beginning, our concept of growth changes exponentially. For industrial firms who have the foresight to view space not as a stand-alone industry but as the next medium to conduct their business, the sky is not the limit. The only limitations are the ones we put on ourselves.

Indian-Nordic Relations Reach a New Milestone

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will attend an Indian-Nordic summit hosted by the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Stockholm in the coming week, 16th and 17th April. This is a historical moment, as the Prime Minister of India will simultaneously have the chance to meet the Prime Ministers of Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.
It is exactly two decades since such a high-level meeting has taken place and a prime minister of India had visited Stockholm. (The last time was in 1988) . This is undoubtedly the best opportunity to kickstart closer relations between the largest democratic country and the best functioning democracies in the world. It all depends on how the chemistry works out between these six leaders. Apart from hugs and handshakes, several deals will be signed and invitations for other summits will be handed over to the Prime Minister of India.
Bilaterally, India and Sweden are looking for substantial improvement in trade and cultural ties. Over 170 Swedish companies are already flourishing on Indian soil and around 70 Indian companies have reciprocated by investing in Sweden.
Huge emphasis is being laid on innovation as an emerging field, but Narendra Modi should also listen to the two ‘little brothers’, Denmark and Norway, as they are referred to in the Scandinavian jargon. Sweden is not only the largest Scandinavian country in terms of the geographical area under its disposal – it is larger than Germany. Germany’s population is 81 million people and Sweden’s population is a meager 10 million.
Sweden is referred to as the big brother here. Sweden can accommodate more people, many Swedish intellectuals and politicians have said in the past. And then there is the competition in doing things a little bit differently. In a highly individualized world the little brother does not always necessarily listen to the big brother.
Historically speaking, Sweden and Denmark have fought many wars, but for the last 200 years peace has ruled in their relationship. They have not fought any wars, just had verbal skirmishes on what is the best strategy to follow in the Middle East, towards America, towards the EU, etc.
It is only the second time in the recent history that all brothers are coming to a summit with a foreign leader. The cooperation between the Nordic countries is a unique model of peace and probably the best. The Nordic countries have created the most peaceful zone of political and economic stability, which has raised the standard of living for all its citizens.
Therefore, many citizens of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka hope that something similar could be tried in the South Asian context. India could easily take the role of Sweden.
The success of the Nordic countries lies not just in being more innovative in the field of science and technology but also in the field of democracy and human rights. I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting and personally talking for nearly half an hour to Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, who is one of the main architects of a new family law, meant to help divorced parents to find peaceful solutions for their children. She is a Member of Parliament, a leading member of the biggest party, the Social Democrats, and my safe guess is that she might become the next Minister for Social and Family Affairs.
Meeting leading political figures is very easy in the Nordic countries and hence the distance between politicians and the common man is not that large. They never ride in cars with sirens.
While the Indian Prime Minister meets these heads of state, he should invite them to India to see the Indian democratic model and, most important of all, drive the point home that the democracies of the world need to cooperate more.
The Indian-Nordic summit should not solely put an emphasis on trade issues but should also encourage the voluntary association of democratic countries with India. This summit ought to adress and celebrate the ideal of democracy, of holding regular elections, respecting human rights, etc.
As India opens up to the world, friendship and partnership with the Nordic countries is in the mutual interest of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, as well.
Last but not least, this summit is the occasion for Narendra Modi to give a big hug to Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Prime Minister of Denmark, symbolically indicating a new beginning of the India-Denmark relations. I am eagerly waiting for that big bear hug. Modi and Lars Løkke ought to give each other a hug, not just a handshake.

Migration -lifeblood of the world

It’s not a state secret that the US is a land of immigrants. To what extent? With a 1.6% Native American population, you could say the nation is 98.4% immigrant — or of immigrant origin.
This glossed-over reality is often expressed in awkward gags and acknowledgments. Like in the poster of a Native American — erroneously called American-Indian — that asks white settler descendants: “So you are against immigration? Splendid! When do you leave?” David Letterman once joked, “They say there are about 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.
But if you ask a Native American, that number is more like 300 million.” And from Jay Leno, when Arizona passed a harsh law that allowed law enforcement to randomly ask for a person’s immigration status: “It’s an unbelievable law. And it’s already starting to backfire. Today, a group of Native Americans pulled over a bunch of white guys and said, ‘Let’s see your papers’.”
But even in a situation where white settlers have usurped the role of originals, keeping borders safe for security or economic reasons is a legitimate objective for any country. This often comes across as an anti-immigrant sentiment, and it is not special to the US. It surfaces world over, also in sub-national context in some countries, when some regions agitate over influx from other regions (as with Bangladeshis in India). In fact, the US is arguably the least anti-immigrant of all nations, built as it is on immigration. No country on earth takes in as many (nearly a million) immigrants legally every year.
It does so not only because it tried to live up to its founding ideals, but also because it found fresh blood is good for its economy that is based on enterprise and innovation. Immigrants tend to be risk takers. Studies have shown immigrants are twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as native-born Americans. Immigrants in US are over-represented within the group of business founders and innovators, particularly in engineering and technology sectors. “Immigrant entrepreneurs have begun and lead some of the world’s most successful and innovative companies.
The risk-taking that defines an immigrant’s experience in starting anew in a new country often continues to benefit immigrant entrepreneurs as they channel a healthy appetite for risk in a way that leads to new business ideas,” a report from the Kauffman Foundation noted.
But who are the best immigrants, and is it possible to preserve or enhance one’s principles and fortunes by cherry-picking immigrants, as the US is now trying to? Shorn of all niceties and euphemisms, it is clear that the Trump dispensation prefers well-educated, well-heeled, English-speaking immigrants, preferably from white majority nations, who will add value to the US while arresting the demographic changes (the browning of America) currently underway because of the kind of immigration over the past half century.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” reads the inscription on the Statue of Liberty from Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus. But the old colossus now only wants wealthy, energetic elites.
Conventional reading is that poor, tired immigrants are a drain on American resources. But for every Elon Musk or Pierre Omidyar, the kind of immigrants Trump seems to prefer, there are scores of Hispanics and Asians who generated billions in economic activity. Almost every Indian immigrant who has created thousands of jobs and paid millions in taxes came to the US with only a few bucks in his pocket. In fact, many of them passed through “out-of-status” moments, a euphemism for being momentarily illegal while waiting to be legalised. They wouldn’t have stood a chance under the upcoming rule changes.
There is another issue here. The Trump constituency resents low-wage immigrants; at the same time it does not want to do grunt work such as construction, agricultural labour, etc (except perhaps for high wages). At the other end, it mostly lacks the education to do STEM-related work and is hostile to skilled foreign workers from non-white countries. This would seem to be a recipe for a high-cost, non-competitive economy. Globalisation may not have worked perfectly for all, but it was doing pretty good overall for the US.
There is also a larger point here. The immigration debate does not begin and end with America. It is now known that Native Australians, or “aboriginals” in Oz-speak, were actually Dravidians from South India who sailed across the seas some 4,500 years ago. Even Native Americans walked across the Bering Straits from Asia. In that sense, we are all immigrants, or of migratory origin, save perhaps for the originals of Rift Valley. From Rift to drift has been such a long journey, and there is no reason it should not continue with fair and reasonable limits. Migration is the lifeblood of the world, not just the US. Only self-doubting people and insecure countries oppose it.

After Brexit, the UK is looking to the Commonwealth as trade partner

On Monday, the April 16, around 53 heads of nations or their representatives will descend on London for the four-day conclave.
Can a conglomeration of nations once ruled by Great Britain emerge as an alternative to the EU? That’s the question the business community, politicians and bureaucrats in London are seeking an answer to, as the UK gets set to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM). On April 16, around 53 heads of nations or their representatives will descend on London for the four-day conclave.
Over the past few years, the CHOGM had ceased to create excitement. So much so that no Indian prime minister has taken time off to join fellow commonwealth heads since 2011. Former PM Manmohan Singh skipped two CHOGM meets, while Narendra Modi didn’t attend the last one, held in Malta in 2015.
The forthcoming meet in London, however, appears to be an exception. For, not only Modi but heads of nations like South Africa, Australia and Canada along with many other former colonies would be joining the deliberations. This assumes tremendous significance for two reasons: One, a near Cold War-like situation, where the world is facing dangers of trade wars and two, Brexit. The anxiety over the post-Brexit scenario was palpable in a series of meetings this journalist had last week in London. There weren’t many ministers or officials willing to hazard a guess over Brexit and its aftermath. Interestingly, however, they were all gung-ho about the approaching CHOGM.
It’s quite understandable. According to a survey carried out by a business news agency, Britain faces the danger of losing around 10,000 finance sector-related jobs to neighbouring EU nations if it fails to be a part of the EU’s single market. A large number of financial companies in London have already started scouting for other locations so as to move their operations and staff post-Brexit. Earlier, major investment banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley had indicated their plans to move out of Britain. As it may be a sign of things to come, Lloyd’s of London, one of oldest players in the insurance market, is expected to open its office in Brussels.
This explains why Britain is keen to make the most of the CHOGM. As of now, the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner. According to official government statistics in 2016, UK exports to the EU were $331 billion — 43 per cent of all UK exports. UK imports from the EU were to the tune of $447 billion, which is 54 per cent of all UK imports.
Compare this to the size of the trade amongst CHOGM nations. Trade between Commonwealth members, which was pegged at around $592 billion in 2016, is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2020. There are equally exciting trade possibilities outside the Commonwealth bloc. For example, with China. The combined exports to China individually from Commonwealth nations have gone up 1,400 per cent in the first decade of the 21st century. With the EU unlikely to remain its biggest trading partner, Britain is eyeing this market post-divorce.
And amongst the Commonwealth nations, it’s India that Britain has pinned high hopes on. The two countries want to expand their bilateral trade manifold from $14.02 billion in 2016. “We are keen that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the CHOGM,” said Mark Field, minister of state for Asia and the Pacific in the Theresa May government. When asked why the UK is so keen on having the Indian PM at the CHOGM, the answer was straightforward: Because India is home to more than half of the Commonwealth nations’ population. Read: One of the largest and fastest growing markets in Asia.
There is another reason behind the UK walking an extra mile in wooing India — the falling number of Indian students and tourists. In 2015, over 4.22 lakh Indian tourists visited the UK. But that is just about 2.13 per cent — a drop from 4.42 per cent in 2006 — of the total number of tourists the UK received. Interestingly, France has recorded more Indian tourists — five lakh — than the UK in 2015. According to a study carried out by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Indians losing interest in the UK has cost the former empire some 8,000 jobs.
No wonder the UK has its eyes set on PM Modi. The obvious issue on the table is expected to be the UK’s partisan approach to granting visas to Indians vis-a-vis China. Currently, a six-month UK visitor visa costs Indians £87 whereas Chinese visitors are offered a two-year tourist visa for the same amount. Indians are made to cough up £330 for a two-year visa.
It’s almost certain that post-CHOGM and the bilateral meet, Indians — tourists and students — will have a more relaxed UK visa regime. For, post-Brexit, the empire needs its confederate more than the other way round.