Daily Cartoon: Wednesday, August 14th | The New Yorker

Source: Daily Cartoon: Wednesday, August 14th | The New Yorker

It’s High Time for Germany to Fund, and Fix, Its Military | Defense One


The U.S. ambassador to Germany caused a stir last week by suggesting Washington could withdraw U.S. troops from Germany if Berlin continues to fall below its NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

“It is actually offensive,” Richard Grenell told German media, “to assume that the U.S. taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs.”

Grenell’s frustration is justified. U.S. presidents since Dwight Eisenhower have complained about NATO’s European members sitting passively on the sidelines while the United States does most of the heavy lifting for their security.

Source: It’s High Time for Germany to Fund, and Fix, Its Military – Defense One

Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missiles Are a Terrible Idea. Russia’s Test Explosion Shows Why | Defense One

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When President Donald Trump heard that Russia’s experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile had exploded, killing seven scientists and causing a major radiological incident less than 300 miles from the Finnish border, he fired off a boastful tweet. “We have similar, though more advanced, technology,” he said.

This is…not accurate. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States pursued a less advanced version of a similar technology but abandoned the effort before ever launching an actual test vehicle. Nuclear-powered cruise missiles, the Pentagon concluded, are a bad idea.

Source: Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missiles Are a Terrible Idea. Russia’s Test Explosion Shows Why – Defense One

Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’ | Defense One


We may be on the verge of a brave new world indeed.

Today’s advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering have exciting applications in medicine — yet also alarming implications, including for military affairs. China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion (军民融合) has highlighted biology as a priority, and the People’s Liberation Army could be at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this knowledge.

The PLA’s keen interest is reflected in strategic writings and research that argue that advances in biology are contributing to changing the form or character (形态) of conflict.

Source: Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’ – Defense One

Deepfake videos may have unwitting ally in US media | TheHill


Deepfake videos are likely to pose a grave threat to the 2020 election, unless the media adopts stringent policies to distinguish real videos from sophisticated forgeries, experts say.

“The press is going to have to resist the urge to get the scoop by talking about something that may not be true before they can validate it,” said Amy Zegart, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Source: Deepfake videos may have unwitting ally in US media | TheHill

Recession fears surge as stock markets plunge | TheHill


The darkening economic clouds come at a difficult time for President Trump, posing a direct threat to his plans to ride a wave of robust U.S. job market and consumer spending to a second term.

The president was quick to blame the Federal Reserve for Wednesday’s stock plunge, heaping scorn on his frequent economic scapegoat as central banks around the world cut their rates.

Source: Recession fears surge as stock markets plunge | TheHill

Related>

The stubborn persistence of government data centers | FCW


The federal government’s Cloud Smart strategy is the latest in a years-long series of efforts to shrink and streamline agencies’ data center footprints. Whether the emphasis is on optimization or elimination, however, depends on the agency.

“I have told my staff, we have bought our last set of hardware,” U.S. Marshals Service CIO Karl Mathias said at FCW’s Aug. 14 cloud event. “I have no data centers. I’m located in two FBI data centers, with some hardware that I don’t intend to refresh.”

Source: The stubborn persistence of government data centers — FCW

‘Don’t leave: you’re all hired,’ government boss tells tech interns | FCW


Coding it Forward, which I have blogged about before, this summer fielded its third cohort of “civic digital fellows” in the federal government. From only 14 fellows the first year, the program was up to 54 this year, at six agencies.

This effort, started by college undergraduates at Harvard and other schools, has been very carefully designed to give students a good experience.

A central feature is that interns must be given meaningful work assignments that allow them to support the mission of the agency where they are working – none of the presentations that traditionally marked student IT internships in Washington.

Source: ‘Don’t leave: you’re all hired,’ government boss tells tech interns — FCW

Broadband is too important for this many in the US to be disconnected

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For the vast majority of us, broadband has become so commonplace in our professional, personal, and social lives that we rarely think about how much we depend on it. Yet without broadband, our lives would be radically upended: Our work days would look different, we would spend our leisure time differently, and even our personal relationships would exist differently.

But if broadband is an essential part of daily American life in the 21st century, how can we be comfortable with the fact that over 19 million households do not have a mobile or in-home subscription?

Source: Broadband is too important for this many in the US to be disconnected

What is yield curve control?

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In normal times, the Fed steers the economy by raising or lowering very short-term interest rates, such as the rate that banks earn on their overnight deposits. Under yield curve control (YCC), the Fed would target some longer-term rate and stand ready to buy long-term bonds to keep the rate from rising above its target.

This would be one way for the Fed to stimulate the economy if bringing short-term rates to zero isn’t enough.

Current Fed Governors Richard Clarida and Lael Brainard have both said the Fed ought to consider adopting YCC, as have former Fed chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen.

Source: What is yield curve control?