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Analysis

USA/Southeast Asia – Biden Versus Trump in Southeast Asia: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
 (ISEAS)

MALCOLM COOK

Southeast Asian leaders, senior officials and the region’s geopolitics commentariat place great stock in the personal engagement, or not, of the US president with his Southeast Asian counterparts.

Biden Versus Trump in Southeast Asia: Where the Rubber Meets the Road


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Analysis

Vietnam – Feisty and delicate: Vietnam’s approach to handling great power rivalry (ISEAS)

William Choong

Vietnam’s domestic and foreign policy structures held up well in 2020 in the face of significant challenges involving Covid-19, chairing ASEAN, and relations with China and the US. Vietnam continued to maintain a delicate balance between China and the US, while at the same time retaining a strategic option to pursue deeper defence and military relations with the US. Its ability to maintain and enhance agency, in particular in its relations with Beijing, offers lessons for other Southeast Asian countries facing the same dilemma.

https://www.thinkchina.sg/feisty-and-delicate-vietnams-approach-handling-great-power-rivalry

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Analysis

A voice from India: correct tracking systems are needed to prevent the virus (Shashidhar K.J., Marco Emanuele, The Science of Where Magazine)

The Science of Where Magazine meets Shashidhar K.J., Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation (India)

India shows the power and invasiveness of a virus that has not yet been defeated. What are the major problems, seen from the inside, that the country presents?

In the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, it is very important to not understate the seriousness of the situation. Response to the crisis is being hampered by inaccurate data about the number of infections and deaths. Testing rates are not uniform across different states in the country which gives opportunity for local governments to suppress infection rates. This has a domino effect where hospitals are not able to gauge the actual need of medical supplies like oxygen, medicine, and oxygen concentrators etc. There is lack of coordination between the central federal government and local state governments in the response to the crisis. For example, oxygen supply distribution is managed by the central federal government which allocates them to states but there is a mismatch on what is sent by the central government and actual need presented by the state government. Various court cases have been filed by state governments on the oxygen crisis asking the Centre to respond to the needs of the people adding more to the tug of war between them.

As we have seen in countries like the United States and Brazil which have seen the most number of COVID-19 cases, there is an anti-science sentiment that permeates Indian society. They range from the Union health minister endorsing “alternative” medicine from a god man to “boost immunity” against COVID-19 to inaccurate posts on social media directing people not to get themselves tested due to mistrust of the medical system. The social media landscape in India is flooded with messages and posts offering home made remedies against the virus or religious rituals to ward off the virus. Vaccination drive in the country is experiencing inertia due to several macro and micro factors. These include vaccine shortage, tiered pricing of the vaccine for state governments and private sector hospitals, blocks on vaccine intellectual property from global pharma companies and governments at the World Trade Organisation, misinformation on social media, issues with securing vaccine appointments on the Co-Win application etc.

You have underlined the very interesting theme of a distance between the use of technologies and a reality “on the ground” that shows complex needs. Can you tell our readers about the experience of the CoWIN app? 

Vaccination for people below the age 45 years requires people to register and book an appointment on the Co-WIN application or website. However, this is creating a digital divide for the inoculation programme where digitally literate people can access the application and the website. Without the appointment details from the app, people cannot get vaccinated.

Much has been said about the success of the telecom story in India, but there are finer details missing which are crucial to understand the digital divide. India has a culture of using multi-SIMs which means that one person will have multiple connections. And therefore, the total number of mobile subscribers is not equal to the number of unique subscribers. Teledensity is sharply skewed towards urban areas with 55.2% of all telecom subscribers (wireless and wired) residing in cities. Rural subscribers are a different mix and prefer 2G handsets which are primarily used for calling and SMS. These handsets are not connected to the major app stores and can access the Internet in a limited manner.

A point that is overlooked about the “digital leapfrog” in India is that even with access to cheaper smartphone handsets, proportionate digital literacy is missing and many first time Internet users are limited to using a few applications that they understand. The Co-WIN application also doesn’t take into account the multi-lingual and diversity of Indian society and the user interface is in English, a language that isn’t accessible to a majority of the population. The digital divide is further exacerbated when the application’s code was made open-source and software engineers wrote scripts to automatically scan the website for available slots and alert them. Those who can code or access these other digital tools have a better chance to get themselves vaccinated. Those who cannot, will be left scrambling. All these factors combined is leading to a lower vaccination rate. The Co-WIN application might be useful to gauge vaccine demand in a particular area from registrations, but it would be far better for India to allow walk-in vaccinations at centres and take registration information at the site rather than force citizens to book an appointment on these tools which are inaccessible to the majority. More resources should be put in follow ups through phone calls and on-ground teams. There are lessons to be learnt from earlier successful vaccination programmes for polio and smallpox which have been eradicated from India.

We deal with “science of where”, geolocation, tracking (especially in this phase of the pandemic). Don’t you think that, in a situation like the Indian one, a thorough work of analyzing the territory and tracing the infection is a priority – with mass vaccination?

Contact tracing is a useful tool for early detection and containment of the virus. However, with the level of community spread in India, contact tracing might not be the best use of resources to fight the pandemic. Applications which use GPS location and Bluetooth technology (like Aarogya Setu and the apps by Google and Apple) have largely been unsuccessful since they require users to be forthcoming about their symptoms and update it constantly. Further, there are significant privacy issues as these applications turn on location and Bluetooth access at all times leading to a trust deficit. State surveillance of COVID-19 has primarily relied on RT-PCR tests and the results go to local government bodies first. This has been much more effective in finding more cases and conducting contact tracing on all the people the afflicted have been in touch with. Thus, it is very important to get testing systems correct to serve as early warning systems.

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Analysis

Europe/China – Europe’s crusade to fend off Chinese interference falls short (Bruegel)

It is in everybody’s interest for China to level the playing field among state-owned, private, and foreign companies so that no new distortionary measures need to be taken elsewhere.

https://www.bruegel.org/2021/05/europes-crusade-to-fend-off-chinese-interference-falls-short/

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Analysis

Research and innovation policies and productivity growth (Bruegel)

Can research and innovation policies power growth? The answer currently can only be a timid yes. Too little is known of what drives the actual effects of R&I policies.

https://www.bruegel.org/2021/05/research-and-innovation-policies-and-productivity-growth/

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Analysis

USA/Afghanistan – Real-World Options for Afghanistan (CSIS)

Anthony H. Cordesman

It is time for the U.S. to face its real-world options in Afghanistan and to do so without false optimism or “spin.” The U.S. has not lost the war in a military situation, but it now faces a situation where there is little value in continuing it and equally little chance of creating a meaningful peace settlement or a stable peace.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/real-world-options-afghanistan

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Analysis

USA – Redraw the Limits on Lethal Force Against Terror Groups (Defense One)

Rachel Stohl is Vice President and Shannon Dick is a Research Analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.

As the Biden administration reviews policies for use of lethal force outside war zones, it must be certain it’s not perpetuating a cycle of “forever wars.”

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Analysis

Army Leaders Have Agreed to Cap Troop Size, Top General Says (Defense One)

Caitlin M. Kenney

Gen. McConville and the acting secretary have agreed the force will not grow past 485,000 active-duty soldiers next year. But can they keep it from shrinking?

https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2021/05/army-leaders-have-agreed-cap-troop-size-top-general-says/173938/

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Analysis

How to Detect Sarcasm with Artificial Intelligence (Defense One)

Patrick Tucker

Humans make inferences about tone and meaning, but algorithms can find hidden relationships between words to detect irony and intentional falsehood.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2021/05/how-detect-sarcasm-artificial-intelligence/173936/

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Analysis

Cannibalized parts, systems that sailors can’t fix: LCS maintenance woes could get worse, watchdog warns (Defense News)

When they first started filling the surface fleet’s ranks 13 years ago, the Navy’s littoral combat ships were billed as agile, efficient vessels capable of taking on a variety of missions.
https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2021/05/10/cannibalized-parts-systems-that-sailors-cant-fix-lcs-maintenance-woes-could-get-worse-watchdog-warns/
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Analysis

The US Navy’s bio-preparedness innovation window remains open through cruise lines (Defense News)

1st Lt. Zachary Shaw

COVID-19 demonstrated gaps in the U.S. Navy’s maritime bio-preparedness. Through cruise lines’ struggle for survival, the pandemic will continue to offer a unique test bed for tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP, as well as technologies to mitigate respiratory pathogens — specifically those passive measures most conducive to defense against bioweapons. The Navy should seize this opportunity to develop novel bio-preparedness solutions by partnering with the cruise industry.

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/05/10/the-us-navys-bio-preparedness-innovation-window-remains-open-through-cruise-lines/

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Analysis

National security agencies warn of 5G network vulnerabilities, adversary influence (Defense News)

A group of top U.S. national security agencies warned Monday in a report that adversarial nations’ influence on 5G standards is a major threat to securing advanced communications networks of the future.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/it-networks/5g/2021/05/10/national-security-agencies-warn-of-5g-network-vulnerabilities-adversary-influence/
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Analysis

Pentagon orders small Israeli drones for indoor special operations (Defense News)

The Pentagon has awarded Israeli company Xtend a contract to deliver dozens of small unmanned aerial systems for use indoors and in urban environments by special forces in the Navy, Marine Corps and Army.

https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2021/05/10/pentagon-orders-small-israeli-drones-for-indoor-special-operations/

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Analysis

Northrop Grumman awarded $13.3 million for Blackjack payloads (Defense News)

 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Northrop Grumman $13.3 million for continued work on a new satellite demonstration known as Blackjack, according to a recent contract announcement.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2021/05/10/northrop-grumman-awarded-133-million-for-blackjack-payloads/
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Analysis

Pentagon wants a cheap, ground-launched and hand-held counter-drone capability (Defense News)

The Pentagon wants industry to bring cheap, ground-launched capabilities as well as hand-held options to destroy small drones to its next demonstration in an effort to acquire new technology to combat the unmanned threat, according to a request for information posted May 7 to the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2021/05/10/pentagon-wants-cheap-ground-launched-and-handheld-counter-drone-capability/

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Analysis

Rheinmetall plants roots in Michigan (Defense News)

Germany’s Rheinmetall has a new subsidiary and it is planting its roots in the heart of American vehicle-manufacturing territory.

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/05/10/rheinmetall-plants-roots-in-michigan/

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Analysis

How a system value approach can help Ireland meet its climate targets (WEF)

CEO of ESB, President, Eurelectric

COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a global spirit of cooperation – we must build on this to achieve climate targets.

The World Economic Forum’s System Value Framework offers a way to consider economic and social issues in climate action planning.

We examine how Ireland can apply this framework to help meets its ambitious climate goals for a successful energy transition.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/system-value-approach-ireland-climate-targets/

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Analysis

Keep temperatures below 2°C to avoid dangerously high sea levels, say experts (WEF)

Science Communicator, Rutgers University

There could be worrying consequences for the Antarctic ice sheet if the 2015 Paris climate agreement target of 2 degrees Celsius is not met.

The risk of ice shelves around the ice sheet’s perimeter melting would increase significantly, triggering rapid Antarctic melting, according to a study.

This would be faster than the average rate of sea-level rise over the past 120 years, leading to problems such as flooding.

It’s critical that countries are proactive in meeting the Paris agreement to avoid the catastrophic consequences of global warming, says the study’s author.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/climate-change-what-are-the-consequences-if-we-dont-meet-the-paris-agreement/

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Analysis

Energy experts: Reaching net-zero by 2050 relies on these 7 things (WEF)

Director, IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Economist, PUC-RJ

Several steps must be taken to achieve net-zero by 2050, write three experts from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Annual energy intensity improvements must rise from 1.2% in recent years to around 3%.

Electric vehicle sales need to grow from 4% to 100% of all vehicle sales.

Hydrogen demand needs to increase five-fold, from 120 Mt to 613 Mt.

Renewable power, electrification and circular economy play a key role.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/net-zero-carbon-future-2050-irena-energy-transition/

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Analysis

How the pandemic has changed our use of public transport (WEF)

Journalist, Reuters

Concerns about COVID-19 mean more people are using cars instead of public transport, according to a new report.

Too many cars on the road increases problems such as traffic jams, noise and pollution.

The fall in public transport use is expected to persist, so policymakers are being encouraged to develop new initiatives to make it more appealing.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/report-new-initiatives-needed-to-increase-public-transport-usage/

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Analysis

What the cyber-attack on the US oil and gas pipeline means and how to increase security (WEF)

Lead, Strategic Initiatives, World Economic Forum
– Lead, Centre for Cybersecurity, World Economic Forum
– Head of Industry Solutions, Centre for Cybersecurity, World Economic Forum

The recent cyber-attack on the US major oil and gas pipeline could become one of the most expensive attacks to an economy.

80% of senior cybersecurity leaders see ransomware as a dangerous growing threat that is threatening our public safety.

Here are six principles to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/cyber-attack-on-the-us-major-oil-and-gas-pipeline-what-it-means-for-cybersecurity/

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Analysis

USA – Protecting democracy and containing autocracy (Brookings)

Michael HaisDoug Ross, and Morley Winograd

Democracy has been under increasing assault in the U.S. over the course of this century. Sixty percent of white working class Americans agreed with the statement that “because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right.” Although only 40% of all Americans felt that way in 2017, almost 47% of them voted in 2020 to support a candidate for president who exhibited blatant authoritarian behavior. For the first time since the 1930’s, the competition between democracy and autocracy to determine how we will be governed in the future is in doubt.

Protecting democracy and containing autocracy

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Analysis

USA – Republicans in Congress are out of step with the American public on climate (Brookings)

Samantha Gross

Amajority of Americans understand that climate change is a problem. A recent poll found that about six in 10 adults in the United States say the effects of global warming are already happening and a slightly greater proportion believe human activities are to blame for the Earth’s rise in temperature. Another study found that 65% of Americans believe that climate change is an emergency.

Republicans in Congress are out of step with the American public on climate

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Analysis

Detecting and mitigating bias in natural language processing (Brookings)

Aylin Caliskan

Unsupervised artificial intelligence (AI) models that automatically discover hidden patterns in natural language datasets capture linguistic regularities that reflect human biases, such as racism, sexism, and ableism. These unsupervised AI models, namely word embeddings, provide the foundational, general-purpose, numeric representation of language for machines to process textual data.

Detecting and mitigating bias in natural language processing

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Analysis

USA – Barriers to achieving US climate goals are more political than technical (Brookings)

Samantha Gross

On Earth Day, April 22, President Joe Biden hosted a global summit on climate change to emphasize that the United States is back in the game on climate policy and to encourage greater climate ambition among other countries. Just over 100 days into his administration, Biden has largely put his cards on the table in terms of his climate goals and his plans to reach them. The big question is whether he will be able to overcome stiff political challenges on one of his core issues.

Barriers to achieving US climate goals are more political than technical

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Analysis

India – Will Modi’s push for economic self-reliance succeed? (East Asia Forum)

Suman Bery, Wilson Center

India has pursued two linked objectives since its independence and partition in 1947: to restore the country’s standing as one of the world’s major economies and to preserve geopolitical freedom of action, or ‘strategic autonomy’. Economic strength is both an end in itself — to lift millions out of deep poverty — and indispensable for maintaining diplomatic freedom of action.

Will Modi’s push for economic self-reliance succeed?

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USA/Pacific/China – US Pacific Deterrence Initiative too little, too late to counter China (East Asia Forum)

Hugh White, ANU

The US–China rivalry has many dimensions, but at its heart is a strategic contest over primacy in the Western Pacific. Although this contest is being waged on many fronts — including economic, diplomatic and ideological — it is essentially military. China seeks to challenge US leadership in the Western Pacific by opposing the US maritime military supremacy. The United States is trying to resist that challenge and preserve its military preponderance.

US Pacific Deterrence Initiative too little, too late to counter China

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India – Help India Now (Project-Syndicate)

JUNAID NABI

The international community must join forces and develop a collective approach to help India address its COVID-19 crisis, not only for moral reasons, but also because the health of other countries’ populations and economies are at stake. Governments can take several steps to mitigate the impact.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/three-ways-the-world-can-address-india-covid19-crisis-by-junaid-nabi-2021-05

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USA – Will the Productivity Revolution Be Postponed? (Project-Syndicate)

BARRY EICHENGREEN

US President Joe Biden clearly has bet on faster productivity growth to pay for his $4.1 trillion American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. But history suggests that any acceleration of productivity growth is likely to be delayed – perhaps by decades.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/pandemic-technology-delayed-effect-on-productivity-by-barry-eichengreen-2021-05

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Analysis

Norway – Waking the Norwegian Green Giant (Project-Syndicate)

As one of the world’s leading exporters of natural gas, Norway faces a unique challenge in a world that is increasingly moving away from fossil fuels. The country has all the financial, technological, and human resources it needs to thrive in a decarbonized future; what’s missing is policy leadership.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/use-norway-sovereign-wealth-fund-for-green-transition-by-mariana-mazzucato-and-rainer-kattel-1-2021-05

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India/ASEAN/Myanmar – India Supports ASEAN in its Myanmar Initiative Amb Gurjit Singh (VIF)

Amb Gurjit Singh

The ASEAN leaders meeting on 24 April overcame expectations of its viability. Despite hesitations it achieved more than anticipated. Initially, ASEAN Chair Brunei was reluctant to have the first ASEAN summit of 2021. Preparatory work was undertaken by Indonesia, which has now made it a habit of stepping in whenever there is an internal crisis in ASEAN

https://www.vifindia.org/2021/may/10/india-supports-asean-in-its-myanmar-initiative

 

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The end of waste as we know it? 4 ways to turn waste into treasure (WEF)

– Science Writer, for Neste
Waste is a global challenge that requires a multitude of creative solutions.

Decreasing waste while enabling circularity through innovative methods should capture the imagination of consumers, companies and global policymakers.

Here are four ways to turn waste into high quality products.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/the-end-of-waste-as-we-know-it-5-ways-to-turn-waste-into-treasure/

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USA – A new vision for American infrastructure (Brookings)

Adie Tomer and David Dollar

President Biden has outlined a sweeping infrastructure plan that aims to address both historic needs—like bridges, tunnels, and roads—and modern challenges from climate change and digitalization. Adie Tomer, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, argues that this type of investment would create good paying jobs, improve equity, and make American businesses more globally competitive. Tomer joins David Dollar in this episode to discuss the potential of a major infrastructure investment before turning to the politics of passing Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan and how to pay for it.

A new vision for American infrastructure

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USA – Is free college a good idea? Increasingly, evidence says yes (Brookings)

Douglas N. Harris

In just a few short years, the idea of free college has moved from a radical idea to mainstream Democratic thinking. President Biden made free college one of his core campaign planks, and one that the first lady has been promoting for years. In his recent address to Congress, the president also signaled that he is ready for legislative action on a scaled-back version of the idea as part of his American Families Plan.

Is free college a good idea? Increasingly, evidence says yes

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Analysis

Jordan – Jordanian royals in turmoil: Is Prince Hamzah plotting a coup? (ORF)

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been known as an oasis of calm and stability in a region ridden with conflicts. But last month, as King Abdullah II placed his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, under house arrest along with 18 others, the kingdom’s many vulnerabilities were exposed.
https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/jordanian-royals-in-turmoil-is-prince-hamzah-plotting-a-coup/
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Nepal – Second Wave of COVID-19 getting out of control in Nepal (ORF)

Unfortunately, South Asia seems to have turned into the epicenter of the second wave of COVID-19 as most of the countries in the region, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been badly infected by the coronavirus. Instead of being controlled, the situation is getting more flared up as each day passes. Of late, the situation in Nepal is gradually becoming alarming as two out of five people are being tested positive.

Second Wave of COVID-19 getting out of control in Nepal

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India/Europe – India-EU Summit: Aligning Brussels and New Delhi’s propositions for the Indo-Pacific (ORF)

With the announcement of a connectivity partnership based on shared commitment to sustainable development, India and the EU now have the latitude to broaden cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

India-EU Summit: Aligning Brussels and New Delhi’s propositions for the Indo-Pacific

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Asia – The Great Game 2.0 in Asia: Stakes go up (ORF)

Even a cursory glance at world events leaves no doubt that Asia remains high on the international agenda. Following the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the high-level summit of the Quad, and a number of smaller events, China and Iran signed the cooperation agreement dubbed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on March 27 in Tehran.

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-great-game-2-0-in-asia-stakes-go-up/

 

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India/Europe – EU Summit Focuses on COVID, But No Breakthrough on IPR Waiver (ORF)

Under WTO rules such a move would require consensus that can only be worked out by extensive negotiations.
https://www.orfonline.org/research/eu-summit-focuses-on-covid-but-no-breakthrough-on-ipr-waiver/
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India – Bull by the Horns (ORF)

NIRANJAN SAHOO

ANSHUMAN BEHERA

To decisively fight the Maoists, India needs a culture of accountability at all levels

Bull by the Horns

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India/USA – India-US ties: Overcoming hesitation (ORF)

The ties between Delhi and Washington seemed headed for the doldrums due to a policy error on Biden’s part, but the US reversal is a good sign for both nations

India-US ties: Overcoming hesitation

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Australia – Government needs to ensure Australia’s digital sovereignty (The Strategist)

The concept of ‘sovereignty’ has recently gained new life in Australia and around the world. Increased tensions with China, a constant flow of fake news, frequent references to cyberattacks conducted by sophisticated state actors, and public announcements on foreign espionage have placed sovereignty front and centre in the Australian psyche. We’re in an era of cyber spies and cyber warriors.

Government needs to ensure Australia’s digital sovereignty

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Closed borders: The unequal waiting game (The Interpreter)

ANGELA LEHMANN

Old notions about international mobility will need to
be revised, especially for students travelling abroad.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/closed-borders-unequal-waiting-game

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China – China’s innovation dilemma (The Interpreter)

JOHN WEST

Tech advances have been impressive, but constraints on
business productivity and imagination are a major obstacle.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/china-s-innovation-dilemma

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Europe/China – A breadcrumb trail as Europe responds to a rising China (The Interpreter)

ANITA INDER SINGH

With an EU Indo-Pacific strategy in the works, finding common
ground in security and foreign policy remains a challenge.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/breadcrumb-trail-europe-responds-rising-china

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Jordan – Royal rifts: Implications of Jordan’s family feud (The Interpreter)

SHANNON MCGARRY,  RODGER SHANAHAN

A supposed coup, a would-be king and restless youth. Trouble is brewing in the Hashemite kingdom.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/royal-rifts-implications-jordan-s-family-feud

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Southeast Asia – Post-Covid disaster governance in Southeast Asia (The Interpreter)

ANGELO PAOLO L. TRIAS,  ALISTAIR D.B. COOK

The pandemic revealed a narrow focus on natural hazards,
lacking the systems needed for an increasingly complex world.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/post-covid-disaster-governance-southeast-asia

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Taiwan/Australia – When the chips are down over Taiwan, what’s Australia’s stake in the game? (East Asia Forum)

Editorial Board, ANU

The talk of war in Canberra over China’s threat to Taiwan in recent weeks seems a little at odds with perceptions elsewhere around the region, even in Taiwan where Foreign Minister Joseph Wu sees no immediate sign of it on the ground while amplifying the calls to prepare for it.

When the chips are down over Taiwan, what’s Australia’s stake in the game?

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Taiwan/Australia – Talking up war over Taiwan flouts reason, fact, judgment and Australia’s national interest (East Asia Forum)

Gareth Evans, ANU

It is never wise, in foreign affairs and defence policymaking, for emotion to trump reason, for politics to trump objectivity, or for sensitive judgment calls on major national interest issues to be made before they have to be. Talking up, as so many now are, the prospect of war with China — with Taiwan as the likely trigger point — runs the risk of offending all three prescriptions.

Talking up war over Taiwan flouts reason, fact, judgment and Australia’s national interest

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USA/China – Washington is playing a losing game with China (East Asia Forum)

Chas W Freeman Jr, Brown University

America’s latest policies toward China will prove self-defeating. US–China relations now exemplify Freeman’s third law of strategic dynamics: for every hostile act there is a more hostile reaction.

Washington is playing a losing game with China

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China – China’s plan to become a world-leading technology force (East Asia Forum)

Yutao Sun, Dalian University of Technology and Cong Cao, University of Nottingham Ningbo China

On 12 March 2021, China released an outline of its 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) (2021–2025). The document charts a strategic, innovation-driven blueprint for Chinese development in the short- and medium-term.

China’s plan to become a world-leading technology force

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Analysis

China/Syria – Why China will not rebuild Syria (East Asia Forum)

Samy Akil, ANU and OPC

decade since the start of the Syrian civil war, debate on the conflict is shifting toward the rebuilding of the country. China is increasingly being touted as a leading candidate to address Syria’s post-conflict reconstruction at a time when Western powers and Syrian Assad regime allies seem either unwilling or unable to address the issue.

Why China will not rebuild Syria

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Analysis

ASEAN/Myanmar – ASEAN needs resources to get results in Myanmar (East Asia Forum)

Lina Alexandra, CSIS Indonesia

The informal ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held in Jakarta on 24 April exceeded expectations. Given the view among some ASEAN countries that Myanmar’s political crisis is an internal matter, the agreement on a ‘Five-Point Consensus’ to resolve the crisis should be regarded as an achievement. At the very least, ASEAN managed to convey a message to the State Administration Council (SAC), as Myanmar’s military junta has dubbed itself.

ASEAN needs resources to get results in Myanmar

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Analysis

Tackling climate risk in Asia through AMRO and the NGFS (East Asia Forum)

Giridharan Ramasubramanian, ANU

Climate change will be a source of significant physical and socioeconomic risk in Asia. To manage the transition to a new climate reality, countries and international institutions in the region will need to account for climate risks when engaging in macroeconomic action. The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) is particularly well placed to link with the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) to advance sustainable finance in East Asia.

Tackling climate risk in Asia through AMRO and the NGFS

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Analysis

Japan – Leveraging longevity and tackling intergenerational inequality in Japan (East Asia Forum)

Sumio Saruyama, JCER

Japan has the world’s most aged population. As the number of elderly people increases, the benefits the government funds, such as pensions, medical care and nursing care, have been swelling. Since these benefits are mainly financed by taxes and social insurance premiums paid by the working-age population, the burden will be heavier on future generations as Japan continues to age.

Leveraging longevity and tackling intergenerational inequality in Japan

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Uncategorized

Geopolitical reasons and unresolved conflicts (Anil Trigunayat, Marco Emanuele, The Science of Where Magazine)

The Science of Where Magazine meets Anil Trigunayat, Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation, former Ambassador of India to Jordan, Libya and Malta, Secretary of the Association of Indian Diplomats.

As you write in The Palestinian Dilemma, the upcoming elections in Palestine represent an important moment. How is the situation of the political movements involved and what are the current relations with Israel?

Yes 15 years is along time and the fact that the legislative and presidential elections in Palestine were called for May this year was a welcome development since the main politico-religious parties. Fatah & PLO in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza had agreed to contest the elections and hopefully have a unity government, if possible. It will be recalled that last time in 2006, Hamas had won unexpectedly and the western countries and Israel refused to recognise and terming it as a terrorist organisation led to the estrangement of the Palestinian movement. This had also placed the fight for the Palestinian cause and the two State solution to the back burner. This time there are around 30 Lists of candidates in the fray and general public seemed more enthusiastic even if they felt that with regard to their independent state resolution may still be slow and painful.

However as Israel has not given the permission for the vote to take place in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories the elections have been postponed by the ageing President Abbas. He is 86 and facing internal dissensions in his own party. Already splinter groups have emerged confronting and challenging Abbas’s authority. Some regional actors like UAE would like to see Mohammed Dahlan to take over who has been working to help Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere during the pandemic. Hence the decision to postpone was also driven by Abbas’s personal politically uncertain situation. Palestinians are unhappy and fight and frequent strikes between Gaza and Israel continue leading to greater uncertainty. However , President Trump’s rabid decisions like de facto recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel ; giving Golan heights to Tel Aviv; insincere Deal of the Century; and accepting the illegal constructions in the West Bank created a greater mistrust among the Palestinians. But with the onset of President Biden there is some hope as he is trying to bring back the Palestinians on some kind of negotiations with Israel. Even Egypt has been trying to work on it. Relations between Palestine and Israel remain confrontational despite security cooperation between Ramallah and Tel Aviv and Qatar trying to defuse the situation between Gaza and Israel as far as pandemic and other assistance is concerned. Since after 4 elections in 2 years Israel still does not have a proper and stable government the situation has been further compounded by the hawkish approach of PM Benjamin Netanyahu who has just lost the chance to form yet another government. Hopefully the next government will take a more constructive approach for ensuring peace and security in the region.

The elections in Palestine must be contextualized in a very troubled phase, apart from the pandemic, for the Middle East. How would you explain to our readers the evolution of relations in that tormented and strategic area? What are the main global players involved? What role is Biden’s USA playing, and will it play?

Middle East itself has changed a great deal. Despite all the oddities rightly or wrongly President Trump was heavily engaged in the region. He considered Iran as a major threat and pulled out of the JCPOA Nuclear deal nearly causing a war in the region after killing IRGC Commander Gen Soleimani. But he was also working to bridge the differences between the Arabs and Israel. Hence the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, UAE and Bahrain and later with Sudan and Morocco paved the way for formal normalisation of ties. This also indicated that the Arab countries had developed a fatigue due to their own internal challenges and changing global dynamic. Hence the vehement support among the leadership of major West Asian countries for the Palestinian cause has been severely compromised. One only witnesses proforma reactions. This gives Tel Aviv a certain level of comfort which was evident when the key Arab countries asked Palestinian leaders to come to table under the aegis of the one sided “Deal of the Century’. It is a fact that much water has flown down the River Jordan. A splintered Palestinian establishment will find it difficult to contend with unified and strong state of Israel and the to address the injustices of Sykes-Picot Agreement despite the three wars and Camp David, Madrid or Oslo Agreements or for that matter the Saudi Arab initiative.

No serious effort has been made in last two decades. Now realising the eroding regional and international support Palestinians are hoping for an International Conference to be organised by President Biden and the Quartet with wide participation. Biden has shown inclination by reversing some of the decisions by Trump like extending significant financial assistance to UNRWA including to fight the pandemic and allowing the PA embassy in Washington DC. They have also expressed displeasure on Israeli settlements. Hence , it is imperative that US , still the major security provider in the region, takes the lead to bring the equitable resolution of the Palestinian issues since there is unlikely to be peace unless it is resolved.

You were Ambassador of India to Libya. How do you assess the evolution of the situation in that country?

Libya in my view has turned into another Iraq. External intervention under the garb of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) without any post regime change in 2011 has been disastrous. Scores of militias and multiple simultaneous governments and fight between Eastern and Western Libya were perpetrated and sustained by their regional and international benefactors. Libya is the single biggest failure of the international community. In fact while France, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia and UK and Russia have been supporting General Haftar and the Tobruk government in exile, Turkey, Qatar and Italy have cast their lot with the Tripoli based government. Foreign forces and militias as well as role of General Haftar would be the key factors for future of Libya. However, post Berlin process and Tunisian Agreements, the installation of a Government of National Unity with the task of holding general elections on December 24, 2021 give some hope. Currently some movement between Egypt and Turkey is visible which might be helpful. I sincerely hope this time round the international community will rise to the occasion as a decade has been wasted for sheer complicity and negligence and myopic choices for geopolitical influence.

Finally, the global post-pandemic phase focuses on two major transitions: the digital one and the ecological one. From your point of view, also looking at the growth of inequalities and the need to safeguard the integrity of peoples, how would you draw the map of the world in the coming decades?

Corona Pandemic should be a good lesson for the humanity. Ofcourse geo-politics and geo-economics as well as big power rivalries can not be wished as multilateralism has taken a big hit due to unilateralism and lack of balance of power. New domains of competition will emerge as power dynamic and security matrix emerges. Even there is a threat of a Cold War 2.0 in a new Avatar which is looming large as an ambitious China embarks on its unsolicited journey to displace USA as a numero uno power at least in the economic and technological domain. Another techno-industrialisation train is on tracks within the AI driven IR 4.0 digital space. Many small and big powers are in the race. However, Covid has dampened the pace and the global economy has been badly hit. In my view 5 Hs are extremely important today – Hunger, Health, Hygiene, Habitat and Hitech. The world has to evolve and agree on a sanity quotient for the sake of humanity and accept that global challenges like Climate Change, Pandemic and Terrorism require a global standard and solidarity. We have to believe in one world since the other alternative will undermine the world itself.

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Analysis

Digital Brief: Digital vulnerabilities, no Horizon for Europe, Trump ban (Euractiv)

Luca Bertuzzi | EURACTIV.com

The real industrial revolution is starting now – provided we make the right investments in key technologies and set the right framework conditions.

-Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market

Digital Brief: Digital vulnerabilities, no Horizon for Europe, Trump ban

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Analysis

EU’s credibility ‘undermined’ if North Macedonia delayed from joining the bloc (Euronews)

Sandor Zsiros  & Hannah Somerville

Brussels could potentially press ahead with talks with Albania over membership of the EU even as negotiations with North Macedonia stall, Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi has said.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/05/07/albania-could-begin-eu-membership-talks-without-north-macedonia

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Analysis

Germany pushes back against COVID-19 patent waiver proposal (Euronews)

Euronews with AP

Germany has sought to pour cold water on a proposal by the United States to ease patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines, saying it would have “significant implications” for vaccine production across the board.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/05/07/germany-pushes-back-against-covid-19-patent-waiver-proposal

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Analysis

London’s air pollution could be a ticking bomb for children’s health (Euronews)

Doloresz Katanich with AP

Scientists are trying to gauge the effects of London’s air pollution by monitoring the health of school children’s lungs.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/05/07/london-s-air-pollution-could-be-a-ticking-bomb-for-children-s-health

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Analysis

Parsing the argument for equity in climate action (GreenBiz)

Krystal Williams is an impassioned advocate on issues of energy, equity and social justice. Her work with public utilities and renewable energy developers as an energy attorney at Bernstein Shur and Pierce Atwood has deeply influenced her view of both the climate economy and systemic inequities.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/parsing-argument-equity-climate-action

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Uncategorized

The latest trends in renewable energy procurement (GreenBiz)

This week, the Renewable Energy Buyers Association (REBA) released its annual State of the Market, a report that summarizes trends and observations related to corporate clean energy procurement.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/latest-trends-renewable-energy-procurement

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Analysis

Arrival and Uber team up for purpose-built electric car (GreenBiz)

Plans to electrify urban road transport took a leap forward this week, with the news U.K.-based electric van and bus pioneer Arrival is to team up with global ride-hailing giant Uber to develop a new “affordable, purpose-built electric vehicle (EV)” for ride-hailing services.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/arrival-and-uber-team-purpose-built-electric-car

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Analysis

Investor pressure produces results in fast food (GreenBiz)

Around three years ago, McDonald’s had its climate plan approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), the nonprofit that rubber-stamps strategies that are in line with limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The company was an outlier: None of the biggest fast-food brands had shown such ambition.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/investor-pressure-produces-results-fast-food

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Analysis

How AI-powered poverty maps can increase equity in the COVID-19 response (Brookings)

Laura McGormanGuanghua Chi, and Han Fang

In addition to its devastating public health impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequality around the world. Poor populations have disproportionately experienced COVID-19 infection while enduring greater financial hardship as a result of lockdown orders and business closures. And despite increasing vaccination rates in many countries, the poor are also often the hardest to reach and the last to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. At the same time, the ability to effectively assist poor populations in many countries remains hindered by the lack of a solid answer to a simple question—where these populations reside.

How AI-powered poverty maps can increase equity in the COVID-19 response

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Analysis

USA – Promising job numbers are hiding a slow recovery for many metro areas (Brookings)

Sarah Crump and Alan Berube

Employers across America’s largest metro areas added nearly 453,000 workers to their payrolls in March. This marked the largest monthly addition to job totals in the nation’s 191 largest metro areas since October, and is a sign that a steady recovery from the pandemic recession is underway as vaccination rates increase, stimulus checks flow to households, and businesses reopen.

Promising job numbers are hiding a slow recovery for many metro areas

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Analysis

How can real-time performance data lead to better education outcomes? (Brookings)

Emily Gustafsson-WrightSarah Osborne, and Aarushi Sharma

Over the past two decades, the role of data in international development has expanded rapidly. Policymakers, implementers, funders, and researchers are increasingly using data to make important decisions around resources and priorities. This coincides with the shift from a focus on outputs, such as Millennium Development Goal 2 of universal education attendance, to outcomes, such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4’s emphasis on the importance of learning. This focus on outcomes, coupled with increases in data literacy, is bringing a renewed focus to demonstrating and measuring the achievement of positive outcomes for the beneficiaries of social programs around the world.

How can real-time performance data lead to better education outcomes?

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A health-data ecosystem to protect against public-health threats (Brookings)

Sheri LewisAlan RavitzAaron Katz, and John Piorkowski

At the heart of the health-care, decisionmaking, and supply-chain problems exposed by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is an unquenchable thirst for data—data to inform health professionals caring for COVID-19 patients and data to guide the decisions of policymakers and the public.

A health-data ecosystem to protect against public-health threats

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USA – Income volatility and health care decision-making (Brookings)

Mina Addo and Lisa Servon

Income volatility has been rising since the 1970s and reflects a decline in economic security among middle- and low-income households. Half of all American adults are affected by chronic illness, and 40 percent of adults who have health insurance have difficulty paying for medical care (Claxton et al., 2017). Considering these trends together, this study explored characteristics of households that experience income volatility and medical expenses, how they pay for health care, the extent to which technology (including fintech) can be a solution to their challenges, and factors influencing their health care decision-making.

Income volatility and health care decision-making

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Analysis

Is your cybersecurity ready to take the quantum leap? (WEF)

Chief Scientist, Australia
– Vice-President of Quantum Computing, IBM Research
CTO Security Research, IBM Research
Head of Future Networks and Technology, World Economic Forum

• Data currently considered secure could be stolen – and accessed via quantum methods later.

• Quantum algorithms such as Shor’s can break classical cryptographic problems.

• Governments, academia and industry must collaborate on the quantum transition.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/cybersecurity-quantum-computing-algorithms/

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Cybersecurity has much to learn from industrial safety planning (WEF)

• Safety engineering practices can be readily applied to cybersecurity.

• Developing safety ‘scenarios’ helps build a more comprehensive response to cyberthreats.

• Scenarios are also useful for communicating cybersecurity best practice to professionals outside the field.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/cybersecurity-safety-engineering/

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Analysis

USA – COVID-19 and the future of US cities (WEF)

Federal Reserve Correspondent, Reuters
  • Evidence is emerging that U.S. cities are starting to grow in numbers again, following declines during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In New York 110,000 people were estimated to leave during 2020.
  • In the first two months of 2021, New York added a net 1,900 people, compared to a loss of 7,100 in the same two months of 2019.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/pandemic-us-united-states-america-cities-urban-growth/

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Africa – The circular economy transition is a billion-dollar opportunity for Africa (GreenBiz)

COVID-19 shrank economies around the world. However, the crisis presents a unique opportunity for many to rebuild green and potentially bounce back stronger than ever.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/circular-economy-transition-billion-dollar-opportunity-africa

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Analysis

India – How trust and collaboration are key in India’s last mile response to the COVID-19 crisis (WEF)

President Emerita, Ashoka
Founder, One Family Foundation
Head, COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, World Economic Forum
  • Stories on the ground in India demonstrate how social entrepreneurs are stepping up to reach excluded and rural communities during India’s second wave.
  • Local trust in social entrepreneurs makes them uniquely placed to fill service gaps, especially in the last mile.
  • Their work is needed beyond the immediate crisis to build resilience and drive transformative change towards an inclusive economy.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/how-trust-and-collaboration-are-key-in-india-s-last-mile-response-to-the-covid-19-crisis/

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Analysis

3 reasons why consumer demand matters for the post-COVID-19 recovery (WEF)

Partner, McKinsey Global Institute
Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • The COVID-19 recession is dominated by the collapse in consumer spending making the consumer more important than ever to economic recovery;
  • The uneven impact of the pandemic means consumer profiles post-pandemic will differ from before;
  • Consumer behaviour has also been changed by new behaviours adopted or encouraged by the pandemic.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/consumer-demand-covid-19-recovery/

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Analysis

Will global warming ‘stop’ as soon as net-zero emissions are reached? (WEF)

US Analyst, Carbon Brief
  • Evidence suggests that global warming is likely to stop once carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero.
  • This is not a new discovery – the scientific community has recognised that zero CO2 emissions would probably stop temperatures from rising since at least 2008.
  • However, even if the world had zero CO2 emissions, there are large remaining uncertainties associated with what happens to other greenhouse gases.
  • Also, the effects of previous global warming triggers may still continue to occur for many years.
  • This research explores the predicted outcome of different ‘net zero’ scenarios and what they would mean for our planet.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/explainer-will-global-warming-stop-as-soon-as-net-zero-emissions-are-reached/

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Analysis

One in two people globally lost income due to the pandemic (WEF)

Journalist, Thomson Reuters Foundation
  • One in two people have lower earnings due to the pandemic and people in lower income countries were affected the most, according to a global poll.
  • Women were hit particularly hard as they are over-represented in low-paid precarious sectors such as retail, tourism and food services.
  • More than half of people surveyed said they temporarily stopped working at their job or business – translating to about 1.7 billion adults globally.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/how-many-people-experienced-a-lower-income-due-to-covid-19/

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Analysis

What does waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines mean? (WEF)

  • A proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines has been boosted by US support.
  • The WHO said in April that only 0.2% out of 700 million vaccines globally administered had been in low-income countries.
  • WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has also outlined an alternative compromise to address the situation.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/could-the-world-be-about-to-waive-covid-19-vaccines/

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Analysis

Balancing data rights is about protecting human rights (WEF)

Executive Director, Open Data Charter

• Striking a balance between data access and privacy is tricky.

• Different approaches to the problem can either reinforce or redress existing power imbalances.

• Discussions are progressing about the institutions needed to achieve balanced data rights.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/data-rights-privacy-human-rights/

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Fitness trackers: an unexpected aid in the fight against pandemics (WEF)

Executive Director, Digital Medicine Society (DiMe)
  • Telemedicine use soared during the pandemic, but remote patient monitoring has not followed suit.
  • Wearables can improve health outcomes during pandemics.
  • Here’s how to use the data from wearables in order to improve public health.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/fitness-trackers-an-unexpected-aid-in-the-fight-against-pandemics/

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Analysis

Africa – Business success depends on mindset. This study of African entrepreneurs explains why (WEF)

– Chief Executive Officer, The Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • Most entrepreneurs in Africa are women – yet their businesses are less profitable. The reasons might be linked to mindset.
  • For entrepreneurs in Africa, success can depend largely on mindset and culture.
  • To support more African entrepreneurs to develop growth-oriented mindsets, the role of training, mentorship and access to funding cannot be overemphasized

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/business-success-depends-on-mindset-this-study-of-african-entrepreneurs-explains-why/

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Analysis

What is ‘coopetition’ and how can international organizations help? (WEF)

Partner Engagement Lead, Strategic Partnership, World Economic Forum Beijing
  • “Cooperative competition” is the idea that competitors can benefit by working together.
  • Businesses must adopt this strategy to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • COVAX, which is working to bring COVID-19 vaccines to the world, is an example of this sort of global solution.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/what-is-coopetition-and-how-can-international-organizations-help/

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Blockchain in capital markets: Here’s what we’ve learned after 5 years of experimentation (WEF)

– Project Lead, Financial Innovation, World Economic Forum
Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Many financial institutions and tech firms have invested heavily in exploring distributed ledger technology and its capabilities, moving it from the margins to the mainstream.

There are inefficiencies, challenges and potential risks to what underlies global capital markets and the key question is whether DLT is the appropriate tech to address them.

Capital market leaders must take several steps, including better understanding DLT and its potential roles, while uniting behind common standards for contracts and processes.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/after-more-than-5-years-of-experimenting-with-blockchain-here-s-what-we-ve-learned/

 

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The Limits to US-China Climate Cooperation (Project-Syndicate)

MINXIN PEI

The world desperately needs the United States and China to collaborate in addressing climate change, but no one should harbor any illusions. The best to be hoped for is that the two superpowers are disciplined enough to avoid endangering humanity’s survival as they jostle for geopolitical advantage.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/biden-xi-limits-to-us-china-climate-cooperation-by-minxin-pei-2021-05

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USA/China – The Logic of US-China Competition (Project-Syndicate)

JOSEPH S. NYE, JR.

The success of US President Joe Biden’s China policy will depend on whether the two powers can cooperate in producing global public goods, while competing in other areas. The US-China relationship is a “cooperative rivalry,” in which the terms of competition will require equal attention to both sides of the oxymoron. That will not be easy.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joe-biden-us-china-relations-cooperative-rivalry-by-joseph-s-nye-2021-05

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STATEMENT: Biden Administration Pledges to Conserve 30% of U.S. Lands and Waters by 2030 (World Resources Institute)

Today, the Biden administration launched the America the Beautiful campaign and set a goal to conserve 30% of U.S. lands, waters and ocean by 2030.

https://www.wri.org/news/statement-biden-administration-pledges-conserve-30-us-lands-and-waters-2030

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6 Innovative Ways to Fund Climate Action and Equity in US Cities (World Resources Institute)

Alexander Dane and Alisa Petersen

U.S. city budgets are tighter than ever due to COVID-19. The American Rescue Plan Act, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, will provide some relief in the near term, while the proposed American Jobs Plan offers a tantalizing vision of federal infrastructure investments that could drive local climate action and equity nationwide.

https://www.wri.org/insights/funding-models-climate-equity-cities-us

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What Vulnerable Countries Need from the COP26 Climate Summit (World Resources Institute)

Jemima Marie MendozaYamide Dagnet and Molly Bergen 

The world is at a critical juncture in the fight to solve the climate crisis.

President Biden’s recent Leaders Summit on Climate restored some momentum on global climate action, but we are not yet on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), the threshold scientists agree will prevent the most dangerous climate impacts. Failure to reach this goal will take a disproportionate toll on developing countries.

https://www.wri.org/insights/what-vulnerable-countries-need-cop26-climate-summit

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Palestine – The Palestinian Dilemma (VIF)

Amb Anil Trigunayat, Distinguished Fellow, VIF

After a prolonged disjunct and competition between Hamas ruling Gaza and Al Fatah (PLO) ruling out of Ramallah the two had agreed to bury their differences so that the next elections could be held in May 2021.

https://www.vifindia.org/2021/may/06/the-palestinian-dilemma

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COVID-19 Pandemic and Indian Armed Forces (VIF)

Lt Gen (Dr) Rakesh Sharma (Retd.)

The traditional Tamil treatise, Thirukkural, written over 2,000 years ago had defined a nations’ characteristics, “Pini inmai Selvam Vilaivinbam Emam, aniyenba Nattirkiv vainthu,” implying that, “the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; wealth; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence.”

https://www.vifindia.org/article/2021/may/05/covid-19-pandemic-and-indian-armed-forces

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India – Can India’s development cooperation reshape the global arc of sustainable multilateralism? (ORF)

SWATI PRABHU

Multilateralism is currently experiencing a freefall. The efficacy of multilateral institutions and agencies have been increasingly questioned in light of the renewed threats and trust deficits, particularly personified by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Can India’s development cooperation reshape the global arc of sustainable multilateralism?

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Water scarcity in the Middle East: Beyond an environmental risk (ORF)

VALI GOLMOHAMMADI

In the Middle East, which continuously suffers from chronic disorder, water supply systems are increasingly becoming both political lever and objectives of strategic action as states perceive access to water as an issue of national security.

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/water-scarcity-middle-east-beyond-environmental-risk/

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Unsocial Media: Inclusion, Representation, and Safety for Women on Social Networking Platforms (ORF)

MITALI MUKHERJEE, ADITI RATHO, SHRUTI JAIN

Social media has had a transformative impact on how people live, engage with one another, and work. However, it can be a double-edged sword as it constantly evolves owing to modern technological innovation. This cannot be more true for the world’s women: social media gives them political, financial, and social empowerment, even as they battle lack of access, language barriers, and safety concerns. This paper analyses the intersection of social media and gender issues in India. It outlines the evolution of social media and explores whether it has become more conscious of gender representation over the last decade. It examines why women are unable to meaningfully reap the benefits of social media, and evaluates current mechanisms for online safety in India. It offers specific recommendations to make social media more inclusive and safer for the country’s women.

Unsocial Media: Inclusion, Representation, and Safety for Women on Social Networking Platforms

 

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India – The tyranny of vanity metrics and impractical tech solutions in India’s COVID-19 second wave (ORF)

Two statements were made by a senior minister and a bureaucrat regarding the criteria for the Indian COVID-19 vaccination programme last week. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, touted the “success” of the government’s vaccination registration portal, Co-WIN. He tweeted that he was, “Pleased to note our world-class CoWIN platform ensured smooth rollout of beneficiary registration for Phase 3 of the world’s #LargestVaccineDrive. In just first 3 hours: 80L+ people registered, 1.45 cr SMS successfully delivered, 38.3 cr API hits recorded”.

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-tyranny-of-vanity-metrics-and-impractical-tech-solutions-in-indias-covid-19-second-wave/

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Space Force wants to be the world’s first fully digital service (Defense News)

The U.S. Space Force unveiled its latest vision document May 6, laying out its desire to become the world’s first fully digital service.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2021/05/06/space-force-wants-to-be-the-worlds-first-fully-digital-service/
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How commercial satellite constellations fit into the Army’s future tactical network designs (Defense News)

The U.S. Army will begin implementing advanced satellite communications technology to increase network resiliency as part of its next iteration of tactical network tools.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/it-networks/2021/05/06/how-commercial-satellite-constellations-fit-into-the-armys-future-tactical-network-designs/
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Army fires are at the center of a major NATO exercise — as Russia watches (Defense News)

The Army this week kicked off a key element of Defender Europe 2021, a series of Army-led military exercises across Europe and Africa, as the United States works out ways to fight battles alongside allies from Estonia to Morocco.
https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2021/05/05/army-fires-are-at-the-center-of-a-major-nato-exercise-as-russia-watches/
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The Air Force’s first Skyborg autonomous drone prototype made its first flight (Defense News)

The Air Force carried out the first flight test of a “Skyborg” drone last month with an Kratos UTAP-22 Mako equipped with a bespoke autonomy system, moving the service one step closer to fielding an uncrewed “loyal wingman” for human pilots.

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/05/05/the-air-forces-first-skyborg-autonomous-drone-prototype-made-its-first-flight/

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Air Force aborts test launch of unarmed Minuteman III nuclear missile (Defense News)

The Air Force said Wednesday it called off a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III nuclear missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, after the weapon turned itself off during the final countdown.
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2021/05/05/air-force-aborts-test-launch-of-unarmed-minuteman-iii-nuclear-missile/
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Air Force cyber school will add online training tool (Defense News)

 The Air Force school to prepare airmen to become high-end cyber defenders will introduce an online training tool in its upcoming curriculum.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/cyber/2021/05/05/air-force-cyber-school-will-add-online-training-tool/
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Raytheon wins $228 million GPS ground system contract (Defense News)

The U.S. Space Force awarded Raytheon Intelligence & Space a $228 million contract for the follow-on control system for the GPS satellite constellation.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2021/05/05/raytheon-wins-228-million-gps-ground-system-contract/
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Belarus – Belarusian State-Run TV Scores Propaganda Victories (The Jamestown Foundation)

In his April 29 interview to Euronews, Belarus’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei had this to say about the crackdown on the protest movement that followed the August 9 presidential elections: “Perhaps the authorities sometimes acted too harshly.

https://jamestown.org/program/belarusian-state-run-tv-scores-propaganda-victories/

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Chechnya/Ingushetia – Chechen Officials and Ingush Activists Agree to Meet to Discuss Border Issues (The Jamestown Foundation)

Chechen officials and Ingush activists reached an agreement to hold negotiations on the contentious administrative border between Chechnya and Ingushetia.

https://jamestown.org/program/chechen-officials-and-ingush-activists-agree-to-meet-to-discuss-border-issues/

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Russian UAV Technology and Loitering Munitions (The Jamestown Foundation)

During the ongoing modernization of Russia’s Armed Forces, increasing attention has turned to developing and exploiting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV).

https://jamestown.org/program/russian-uav-technology-and-loitering-munitions/

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Russia’s Defense-Industrial Complex at a Crossroads: Aura Versus Reality (Part Two) (The Jamestown Foundation)

President Vladimir Putin’s remarks about possibly nationalizing the Russian defense industry (DI) (Interfax, March 31) reinvigorated a debate on measures to optimize this strategically crucial yet decreasingly profitable sector of the country’s economy (see Part One in EDM, April 13).

https://jamestown.org/program/russias-defense-industrial-complex-at-a-crossroads-aura-versus-reality-part-two/

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Making Sense of the ‘Semenchenko’s PMC’ Affair (The Jamestown Foundation)

On March 24, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) announced it had exposed and impeded the activity of two illegal private military companies (PMC)—Doncorp Ukraine and its parent entity, Donbas Battalion Corporation.

https://jamestown.org/program/making-sense-of-the-semenchenkos-pmc-affair/

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Russia/Ukraine – Ukrainians Fear Moscow May Use Their Co-Ethnics in Russia in Provocation to Restart War (The Jamestown Foundation)

A recent wave of arrests of ethnic Ukrainians across the Russian Federation for supposedly organizing extremist groups and planning terrorist attacks has sparked fears in Ukraine that Vladimir Putin may seek to exploit these incidents to stage a provocation inside Russia.

https://jamestown.org/program/ukrainians-fear-moscow-may-use-their-co-ethnics-in-russia-in-provocation-to-restart-war/

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A New Concert of Powers: Another Substitution? (Valdai Discussion Club)

Richard Sakwa

The Yalta-Helsinki international system is far from perfect, but rather than further undermining it through ad hoc arrangements of one sort or another, effort should be more profitably directed at devising improved ways of combining sovereignty with more effective and progressive forms of internationalism; a new synthesis adequate to meet the challenges of our times while recognising the changed balance of power in the state system, writes Valdai Club expert Richard Sakwa.

https://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/a-new-concert-of-powers-another-substitution/

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France/Turkey – France vs. Turkey in the EastMed: A Geopolitical Rivalry between a “Keeper” of the Old Order and a Challenging Emergent Power (IFRI)

Jana JABBOUR

The Franco-Turkish standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean is a geopolitical contest for power that plays out on multiple fronts: Libya, Syria, Lebanon.

Ankara’s expansive understanding of national sovereignty and its hegemonic aspirations in the EastMed is at odds with France’s vision of the Mediterranean and its definition of its interests in the region.

The recent gas discoveries in the EastMed have played a key role in pushing Ankara into a confrontational policy.

What started as a personal animosity between Macron and Erdogan is gradually turning into a major geopolitical rivalry, where France acts as defender of the old regional order and Turkey as a major disrupter and challenger.

https://www.ifri.org/en/publications/briefings-de-lifri/france-vs-turkey-eastmed-geopolitical-rivalry-between-keeper-old

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Saudi Arabia/Iran – Saudi-Iranian Dialogue: Toward a Strategic Change? (INSS)

Yoel GuzanskySima Shine

The meetings reported in recent weeks between Iran and Saudi Arabia are a new development in the relations between the two countries, which were severed in 2016. The immediate context is the change of administration in the United States. 

https://www.inss.org.il/publication/iran-saudi-arabia/

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Morocco’s Battle against Islamic Jihadi Terrorism (JCPA)

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

Jihadist terrorist cells have found fertile ground in Morocco in which they grow and develop into not only a real threat to the stability of the kingdom but also as a significant provider of manpower to the various radical Islamic movements in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Morocco’s Battle against Islamic Jihadi Terrorism

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Iran – What the Recently Leaked Recordings Reveal About Iran (BESA Center)

recently leaked audio recording featuring Iran’s foreign minister lamenting the dominance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in setting Iranian policies provides new evidence of the way Iranian hardliners exclude all others in setting the Islamic Republic’s agenda.

https://besacenter.org/what-the-recently-leaked-recordings-reveal-about-iran/

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Egypt/Turkey – Sisi’s Egypt Has the Upper Hand Over Erdoğan’s Turkey (BESA Center)

The foreign policy of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a combination of imperialism and Muslim Brotherhood sentiment, was most visible in his moves against Abdel Fattah Sisi’s Egypt. Ankara is beginning to recognize its folly. Will the new US administration learn from its mistake?

https://besacenter.org/sisi-egypt-erdogan-turkey/

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Modern infectious diseases: Macroeconomic impacts and policy responses (VOXEU)

David Bloom, Michael Kuhn, Klaus Prettner

In addition to the devastating human toll, the economic upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the inextricable relationship between physical and economic health. This column presents an overview of the macroeconomic effects of the infectious disease epidemics of the 20th and early 21st centuries through the lens of recent COVID-19 research and explores the epidemic–economics nexus. It concludes that preventive policies, containment strategies, and early responses are more efficient, cost-effective, and manageable than combatting a full-scale infectious pandemic outbreak.

https://voxeu.org/article/modern-infectious-diseases-macroeconomic-impacts-and-policy-responses

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Europe – The Janus’ face of Europe’s new social rulebook (VOXEU)

László Andor, Robin Huguenot-Noël

In the midst of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the European continent, the European Commission released the Social Pillar Action Plan, setting concrete targets on employment, skills, and poverty reduction to be reached by 2030. This new ‘social rulebook’ represents a welcome initiative from the EU to set itself long-term development goals. Yet setting new ambitions without the necessary means may risk backfiring. This column argues that to act as a game-changer, the Action Plan should place a greater emphasis on tapping Europe’s job growth potential where it lies, moving beyond a supply-side approach on employment promotion, and committing to greater ambitions in poverty reduction.

https://voxeu.org/article/janus-face-europe-s-new-social-rulebook

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Defence’s acquisition plan risks leaving ADF with stranded assets (The Strategist)

In my previous article, I looked at the transition that’s underway in Australia’s electricity sector, driven by technological innovation. The electrical grid is moving from one based on a small number of large, inflexible generators to one consisting of a large number of small (and, in the case of rooftop solar, very small), responsive, disaggregated generators.

Defence’s acquisition plan risks leaving ADF with stranded assets

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Australia’s Pacific step-up needs to aim higher (The Strategist)

In November 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his version of Australia’s ‘Pacific step-up’, which was about taking ‘our engagement to a new level, launching a “new chapter in relations with our Pacific family”’.

Australia’s Pacific step-up needs to aim higher

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Challenges for the US and Australia in the grey zone (The Strategist)

Australia and the United States share an increasing security burden thanks to the growing sophistication of information warfare, according to Jake Wallis, a senior analyst at ASPI, and Katherine Mansted, senior adviser at the ANU’s National Security College.

Challenges for the US and Australia in the grey zone

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Australia/USA/Pacific Island – Australian and US military health professionals can help address Pacific island needs (The Strategist)

 and 

As threats to health security become an ever more important issue for Pacific nations, Australia and the United States have an opportunity to build partnerships by combining their considerable military health capabilities. But in planning how best to help their neighbours, they must avoid the dangers of ‘drive-by medicine’ by focusing on enduring engagement.

Australian and US military health professionals can help address Pacific island needs 

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Philippines – Philippines community pantries give help – and send a message (The Interpreter)

ANDREA CHLOE WONG

Filipinos are putting the Duterte administration on notice
that its efforts to help during the pandemic fall short.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/philippines-community-pantries-give-help-send-message

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USA/North Korea – Biden’s North Korea plans come into view (The Interpreter)

SOO KIM

Short on details, the US president’s policy positions still leave plenty of room for speculation.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/biden-s-north-korea-plans-come-into-view

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India/China/Russia/South Asia – Authoritarians seek advantage in India’s Covid crisis (The Interpreter)

MUBASHAR HASAN

China and Russia are on a vaccine drive across South Asia to deliver on India’s fast-vanishing promises.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/authoritarians-seek-advantage-india-s-covid-crisis

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North Korea – Is North Korea expertise all talk? (The Interpreter)

JEFFREY ROBERTSON

The debate around understanding one of the world’s most
reclusive nations centres on the question of language.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/north-korea-expertise-all-talk

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Europe – What will the EU look like post-pandemic? Ten challenges for a Europe in search of recovery (CIDOB)

Crises have driven progress throughout the history of the European construction, and the past decade has brought no shortage of opportunities. But more than great leaps forward, the European Union has survived by muddling through, despite many of the crises appearing to pose existential dangers.

https://www.cidob.org/en/publications/publication_series/notes_internacionals/250/what_will_the_eu_look_like_post_pandemic_ten_challenges_for_a_europe_in_search_of_recovery

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Slovak President Čaputová on EU-US pandemic recovery, the green transition, and digital regulation (Atlantic Council)

Speaker
H.E. Zuzana Čaputová
President of the Slovak Republic

Introduction
Damon Wilson
Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council

DAMON WILSON: Thank you, Ben. Thank you, Leah. It’s a pleasure to be with you this morning, this afternoon in Europe.

Our opening spotlight celebrating the EU-US relationship features President Zuzana Čaputová of the Republic of Slovakia. I can’t think of a better way to dive into our forum today than by hearing from one of Europe’s leaders who represents renewal, optimism, and a deep devotion to the values that bind us together across the Atlantic.

Slovak President Čaputová on EU-US pandemic recovery, the green transition, and digital regulation

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The urgent task before the US and EU: To craft democracy that ‘delivers’ (Atlantic Council)

Daniel Malloy

The challenges of economic upheaval and threats posed by China and Russia, common to both the European Union (EU) and the United States, are increasing the urgency on both sides of the Atlantic of proving to citizens that democracy is the ticket to a better life—a notion that is no longer a given, according to Věra Jourová, vice-president for values and transparency at the European Commission, and US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). Doing so will require a more robust social-safety net, Murphy argued, along with an aggressive defense against misinformation, Jourová said.

The urgent task before the US and EU: To craft democracy that ‘delivers’

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Russia/North Stream 2 – Estonian President Kaljulaid and US Senator Shaheen on challenges from Moscow and the future of Nord Stream 2 (Atlantic Council)