Does Deterrence Work Against Drones?

All of these incidents raise important questions. Are small drones now capable of holding commercial aviation, and perhaps even Middle East security and the global oil supply, hostage? Is there any defense against their menacing impacts? Or is the threat overblown? The short answer is that drones, while hard to defend against, are a weapon of disruption rather than massive destruction.

The fundamental problem of defending against drones is that air defenses are geared toward the detection of larger aircrafts and other weapons, like ballistic missiles, which are inherently more threatening because they have higher payloads.

Source: Does Deterrence Work Against Drones?

We Urgently Need a Code of Ethics for the Supreme Court | Time

When the Supreme Court returns from vacation on October 1, the justices have a week to do administrative work before arguments begin. Their first order of business should be a code of ethics.

Such codes govern the rest of the nation’s courts, not to mention a growing number of corporations, universities, and similar institutions. But not the Supreme Court.

It’s an egregious gap, particularly at a moment when public trust in our democratic institutions is falling, and in the aftermath of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s highly contentious confirmation hearing, which polarized the country and continues to cast a shadow over the Supreme Court.

Source: We Urgently Need a Code of Ethics for the Supreme Court | Time

Whistleblower is Vulnerable to Retaliation Due to Limited Intelligence Community Protections | Government Executive

Even accounting for the differences in protections between intelligence community personnel and other government employees, this is an “unprecedented” situation because “an American president is threatening to retaliate against his own intelligence community,” said Allison Stranger, professor at Middlebury College and author of the new book Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump.

She also said the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act excludes national security whistleblowers from protection, which makes them more vulnerable to retaliation and “all the more so when an American president is actively inciting it.”

Source: Whistleblower is Vulnerable to Retaliation Due to Limited Intelligence Community Protections – Government Executive

Citizenship and Its Discontents

Pluralism and rights are under threat from communal violence, authoritarianism, and religious identity politics. How is the Middle East attempting to create more inclusive rights and citizenship?

How do religious and nonreligious minorities envision their future in the region?

On what basis can communities enjoy citizenship or seek rights in an era when law increasingly draws on religion and majoritarianism for its legitimacy?

In this volume, researchers and activists draw on extensive fieldwork to open a new line of discussion in the Middle East as well as among Western policymakers. The question of belonging is more urgent than ever, as governments promote a simplistic discourse that opposes secularism and promotes a MuslimsversusChristians or SunniversusShia read of contemporary conflicts.

Source: Citizenship and Its Discontents

To Get Rich Is Glorious

In 1978, China launched economic reforms that have resulted in one of history’s most dramatic national transformations. The reforms removed bureaucratic obstacles to economic growth and tapped China’s immense reserves of labor and entrepreneurial talent to unleash unparalleled economic growth in the country.

As the contributors to this volume show, China also faces daunting challenges in sustaining growth, continuing its economic transformation, addressing the adverse consequences of economic success, and dealing with mounting suspicion from the United States and other trade and investment partners. China also confronts risks stemming from the project to expand its influence across the globe through infrastructure investments and other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the same time, China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, appears determined to make his own lasting mark on the country and on China’s use of its economic clout to shape the world around it.

Source: To Get Rich Is Glorious

Democracies Divided

Why divisions have deepened and what can be done to heal them.

As one part of the global democratic recession, severe political polarization is increasingly afflicting old and new democracies alike, producing the erosion of democratic norms and rising societal anger. This volume is the first book-length comparative analysis of this troubling global phenomenon, offering in-depth case studies of countries as wide-ranging and important as Brazil, India, Kenya, Poland, Turkey, and the United States. The case study authors are a diverse group of country and regional experts, each with deep local knowledge and experience.

Source: Democracies Divided

In the United States, Polarization Runs Particularly Deep

Every day brings more evidence of the United States’ profound political polarization. Partisan intransigence, vitriol, and divisiveness now contaminate most government institutions. What is more, these sentiments have steadily infiltrated every nook and cranny of American life.

The 2020 presidential campaign will only further intensify the country’s partisan tribalism.

The more than 35 books published on this subject in the past decade have shed much light on partisan dynamics. Yet almost without exception, they examine U.S. polarization as an isolated phenomenon, separate from the experiences of other countries. In our research and advocacy work, we have taken a different tack.

Although polarization in the United States shares some basic features with political divisions elsewhere, we found that it stood out in many crucial respects. American polarization has deep roots that have taken decades to grow and strengthen. The United States may look much like many other angry, divided countries, but its brand of polarization raises specific concerns about the future and functioning of its democracy.

In most highly polarized states, the fundamental divisions arose first among elite political actors. They then spread throughout society when politicians made calculated efforts to solidify or expand their bases. U.S. polarization has altogether different sources. Partisan sentiment bubbled up from the belly of American society, not the head.

Until recently, there was no American equivalent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey or President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.

Donald Trump is a startling exception in this regard. He is the first U.S. president within living memory to wield polarization as a core political strategy, deliberately seeking to intensify partisan emotions around the most divisive issues facing the country. But his administration is as much a symptom as it is a cause of polarization. In this, Trump is unlike his counterparts in Ankara or Caracas.

To the extent that polarization in the United States comes from the bottom rather than the top, political elites cannot easily reverse or moderate it, even if they genuinely wish to do so.

What is more, polarization in the United States is especially multifaceted. In most cases, polarization grows out of one primary identity division—usually either ethnic, religious, or ideological.

In Kenya, for instance, polarization feeds off fierce competition between ethnic groups.

In India, it reflects the divide between secular and Hindu nationalist visions of the country.

But in the United States, all three kinds of division are involved.

Source: In the United States, Polarization Runs Particularly Deep

Consciousness Doesn’t Depend on Language | Nautilus

Modernity abandoned the belief in a Cartesian soul, but the dominant cultural narrative remains—humans are special; they are above and beyond all other creatures. All humans enjoy universal rights, yet no animal does. No animal possesses the fundamental right to its life, to bodily liberty and integrity.

Yet the same abductive inference used to infer experience in other people can also be applied to nonhuman animals. I am confident in abducing experiences in fellow mammals for three reasons.

First, all mammals are closely related, evolutionarily speaking. Placental mammals trace their common descent to small, furry, nocturnal creatures that scurried the forest in search of insects. After an asteroid killed off most of the remaining dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, mammals diversified and occupied all those ecological niches that were swept clean by this planet-wide catastrophe.

Source: Consciousness Doesn’t Depend on Language – Issue 76: Language – Nautilus

What if your consciousness is an illusion created by your brain? | Aeon Essays

Neuroscientists are beginning to understand the brain processes underlying all this. To put it simply, light reflected from the apple stimulates light-sensitive cells in the retina, sending trains of electrochemical impulses along the optic nerve to the lateral geniculate nucleus and then on to the visual cortex at the back of the brain. Here these signals trigger activity in hierarchically organized groups of cells specialized for the detection of increasingly complex features (edges, colours, motion, faces and so on).

When you attend to what you are seeing, this visual information is ‘globally broadcast’ to mental systems involved in memory, reasoning, emotion and decision making, generating the host of effects mentioned. This process of global broadcast is called access consciousness, since it makes sensory information accessible to the rest of the mind, and thus to ‘you’ – the person constituted by these embodied mental systems. Again, I don’t deny the reality of consciousness in this sense.

As yet, we have only a sketchy understanding of access consciousness, and there are many controversies over the details of the neural systems involved, but in time we should be able to fill in the picture and settle the disputes. Yet, many philosophers would say, even then we wouldn’t have a full understanding of consciousness.

Source: What if your consciousness is an illusion created by your brain? | Aeon Essays

Air Force unveils 10-year cyber warfare plan | FCW

The Air Force released an overview of its 10-year “Cyber Warfare Flight Plan” Sept. 18, which attempts to fuse all of the best parts of electronic, cyber, and information operations.

That’s how Lt. Gen. Veralinn Jamieson, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Cyber Effects Operations, described it.

“The mathematical equation for information warfare, IW: I have ISR, plus cyber warfare, plus electronic warfare, plus information operations, equals information warfare,” she told reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air Space Cyber conference in National Harbor, Md. Sept. 18 just a few hours after announcing the strategy.

Source: Air Force unveils 10-year cyber warfare plan — FCW