Twitter, Facebook Turn Off Hundreds of Accounts Linked to Chinese Disinformation about Hong Kong Protests | Defense One


The Hong Kong protests represent a first major test for the Chinese government’s nascent social media operation. It’s not known how many people are involved, but at least one estimate cited by cybersecurity and intelligence company Recorded Future in March said that a half million people in China could be working for the government to influence Chinese speakers around the world. The report estimated that 18 percent of the social media posts in China came from government sources.

Despite the size of the Chinese social media manipulation operation, evidence from Twitter and Facebook suggests it’s not yet very sophisticated.

Source: Twitter, Facebook Turn Off Hundreds of Accounts Linked to Chinese Disinformation about Hong Kong Protests – Defense One

The US Just Launched a Long-Outlawed Missile. Welcome to the Post-INF World | Defense One


With the test-launch of a ground-based missile that flew more than 500 kilometers, the United States strode boldly into a future that past leaders had tried to avoid.

The missile was a “variant of the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile,” Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a DoD spokesman, told Military.com, launched by the U.S. Navy and DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office.

Source: The US Just Launched a Long-Outlawed Missile. Welcome to the Post-INF World – Defense One

Climate change could rain on Saudi Aramco’s IPO parade | Reuters


Saudi Aramco’s biggest asset could also be a liability.

The state energy giant’s vast oil reserves – it can sustain current production levels for the next 50 years – make it more exposed than any other company to a rising tide of environmental activism and shift away from fossil fuels.

Source: Climate change could rain on Saudi Aramco’s IPO parade – Reuters

Hong Kong leader says dialogue and ‘mutual respect’ offer way out of chaos | Reuters


Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully in torrential rain on Sunday in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations.

“I sincerely hope that this was the beginning of society returning to peace and staying away from violence,” Lam said.

“We will immediately start the work to establish a platform for dialogue. This dialogue, I hope, will be based on a mutual understanding and respect and find a way out for today’s Hong Kong.”

Source: Hong Kong leader says dialogue and ‘mutual respect’ offer way out of chaos – Reuters

Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi | Reuters

For more than a week, the young men of Soura, a densely populated enclave in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, have been taking turns to maintain an around-the-clock vigil at the entry points to their neighborhood.

Soura, home to about 15,000 people, is becoming the epicenter of resistance to Indian government plans to remove the partial autonomy that was enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

The enclave, which has effectively become a no-go zone for the Indian security forces, is now a barometer of the ability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government to impose its will in Kashmir after its dramatic move on Aug. 5 to tighten its control over the region.

Source: Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi – Reuters

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Is the Afghanistan deal a good one?


I have been highly skeptical of this year’s peace talks, even though they have been led by the wily and wise Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (an Afghan-born American who was President George W. Bush’s envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations).

The Taliban’s abject unwillingness to meet with representatives of the elected and constitutionally-legitimated government of President Ashraf Ghani, together with the belief of the Taliban leadership that America wants out and will use the peace talks as a fig leaf to cover a retreat from the country, provided grounds for extreme caution.

President Trump’s announcement last December that he would soon cut the U.S. troop presence in the country in half, unconditionally and abruptly, was one of the two issues that apparently sparked the resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis — and revealed the president’s apparent true intentions about a mission he never really supported in the first place.

Source: Is the Afghanistan deal a good one?

Alarm in Texas as 23 towns hit by ‘coordinated’ ransomware attack


Twenty-three Texas towns have been struck by a “coordinated” ransomware attack, according to the state’s Department of Information Resources.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, often delivered via email, that locks up an organization’s systems until a ransom is paid or files are recovered by other means.

In many cases, ransomware significantly damages computer hardware and linked machinery and leads to days or weeks with systems offline, which is why it can be so costly to cities.

Source: Alarm in Texas as 23 towns hit by ‘coordinated’ ransomware attack

Boris Johnson news – live: Europe shoots down PM’s Brexit backstop plan as US leaders vow to block trade deal over it | The Independent


Boris Johnson is facing calls to ensure there is no return to a hard border in Ireland after the prime minister wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk urging him to drop the backstop.

Mr Tusk responded by suggesting the PM was “not proposing realistic alternatives” to the backstop, while one French diplomat called his plan “a joke”. Labour said Mr Johnson’s letter was a “fantasyland wish list”.

Source: Boris Johnson news – live: Europe shoots down PM’s Brexit backstop plan as US leaders vow to block trade deal over it | The Independent

China’s Belt and Road ‘Reboot’ Is Really a Foreign Influence Campaign


The Belt and Road Initiative today is most readily identifiable as an infrastructure development program, since media coverage tends to focus on flagship projects like ports and power plants, as well as the fallout when some of them go awry. But while Chinese Communist Party leaders hail the scheme in lofty economic terms, in practice, it has become something of a catchall for an almost catholic variety of loosely connected projects and initiatives overseas, all bearing its name.

The “Belt and Road” philosophy has recently been invoked in all sorts of development-adjacent projects, from Chinese NGOs seeking to build “stronger emotional ties” through AIDS prevention missions to foreign exchange programs for Chinese university students in Belt and Road member countries.

At times, projects under the Belt and Road umbrella even appear to be at odds with one another; while some bodies, such as the BRI International Green Development Coalition, preach sustainable energy development, as of this year Chinese banks under the Belt and Road framework have reportedly funded as many as 140 coal plants worldwide.

The mission creep of the Belt and Road Initiative has caused so much confusion that even the Chinese Communist Party moved to better define its aims and scope earlier this summer.

Source: China’s Belt and Road ‘Reboot’ Is Really a Foreign Influence Campaign

Watchdog Group Tallies 2,310 Conflicts of Interest Associated With President Trump’s Businesses | Government Executive


A nonprofit group tallied 2,310 conflicts of interest stemming from President Trump’s unprecedented decision to retain a stake in his business properties since he took office in 2017.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a report Thursday that calculated the number of times the president visited his properties at taxpayers’ expense (362), the number of foreign government officials (110) and U.S. officials (250) who have visited Trump properties and the number of political events (63) held at his properties.

Source: Watchdog Group Tallies 2,310 Conflicts of Interest Associated With President Trump’s Businesses – Government Executive