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May 28, 2013

History of Economic Growth in India

April 24, 2013 by

Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi. Photo by Eric Miller

Last month, Morgan Stanly and HSBC lowered India’s economic growth forecast for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 from 5.2 to 5 percent and from 6.2 to 6 percent respectively. These numbers do not sound encouraging, but compared to a GDP growth of 4.5 percent for October-December quarter of FY2013, this news provides some encouragement for India’s economy. According to Finance Minister Chidambaram Palaniappan, India’s economy would grow 6.2-6.7 percent during FY 2014. If accurate, it would be a good economic recovery.

Although it is nowhere near the double digit GDP growth India was enjoying a few years ago, the recent news of an economic turnaround is a cause for celebration, especially when U.S. and European economies are still struggling to get back to pre-recession levels.

India’s economic journey from an impoverished country to an emerging global economy is an inspiring example for many developing nations. In order to understand India’s economic voyage, it is essential to shed some light on India’s political and economic history. After 200 years of British rule, India became an independent sovereign nation in 1947. This newly born nation faced a number of issues including a shattered economy, a minimal rate of literacy and horrific poverty. It was a mission impossible for Indian leaders, but Sardar Patel, Nehru and others transformed India into a secular and democratic nation.

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Challenges for China-Africa Relations

April 18, 2013 by

President Jacob Zuma addresses the China-Africa roundtable meeting hosted by China’s President Xi Jinping in Durban, South Africa. Image via GovernmentZA

Adapted from Amb. David H. Shinn’s Speech to the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan.

Before making any predictions it is important to begin with a few basic assumptions about China that will also impact its relations with Africa. I believe China’s leadership will remain stable and in full control of the country through at least the Xi Jinping era. China’s focus will remain on ensuring domestic political stability and economic development. But structural challenges such as its aging demography, continued migration to cities, higher population growth rate as a result of loosening restrictions on the one child policy, higher labor costs, dangerous levels of income inequality, lack of a universal social security system, worsening environmental conditions, more severe weather events due to climate change, increasing domestic pressure for input on decision-making by ordinary Chinese, and growing global competition from other emerging nations will take their toll on China’s society and system of governance.

Nevertheless, China’s GDP growth rate will continue to out-perform the world average, but at a less impressive rate than during that past three decades. China will also maintain a high savings rate and contribute disproportionately to global economic growth. While it will try to change elements of the existing international order, it will operate within this system rather than try to replace it.

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Hack Insight Magazine: Penetration Testing Distribution

March 6, 2013 by

Check out the new edition of Hack Insight Magazine.

Some highlights of this months edition include ‘Seek & Destroy’ vulnerabilities using BackTrack and Nessus, hacking remote Windows or Linux PC using Java 7 Applet, defending against WPA2-Enterprise client compromises and countering to cracking WEP wireless networks using BackTrack.

Full Disclosure: While I did read a bunch of these articles and did some copyediting, it is far beyond my technical proficiency. Even so, take a look and give it a read.

The March edition is online for your reading pleasure HERE.

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Policing National Security Threats

February 7, 2013 by

President Barack Obama meets with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in the Oval Office, May 9, 2011. Pete Souza/White House

Organizations that threaten national security have become increasingly advanced, both technologically and strategically, causing normal policing tactics to become outdated and ineffective. Adapting policing strategies to combat a modern asymmetrical foe could alleviate the bombardment of national security threats compromised by criminal and terrorist organizations.

The establishment of a myriad of intelligence and law enforcement agencies has met challenges that arise as a result of domestic and international threats, and national security enforcement agencies have been organized to target and combat these threats.  The public perception of national security threats are often associated with issues ranging from narcotics and weapons smuggling to terrorist attacks and human smuggling.

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South Korea Preparing Commercial Satellite Launch

January 19, 2013 by

South Korea’s first launch vehicle ‘Naro (KSLV-1)’, carrying a science satellite blasts off from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea, on 25 August 2009

South Korea announced it will attempt to launch a satellite into orbit in the coming weeks.  The tentative launch window between January 30 and February 8 follows two previous launch delays in October and November of last year.  The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), which weighs roughly 140 tons, combines a Russian made first stage as well as a South Korean built solid-fuel second stage.

The satellite will reportedly collect data and information on space radiation.  South Korea has had two successive unsuccessful satellite launches in 2009 and 2010.

These failures serve to increases the importance of its upcoming attempt.  Success of failure will have an impact on South Korea’s desires to establish a viable commercial space industry.  Although South Korea’s program is transparent and clearly focused on civilian applications, a successful launch would likely to further raise tensions with North Korea.

To read more in-briefs, please visit LIGNET.com

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Apollo Mission Navigator Requests DARPA Check Its Math (and DARPA Does)

December 11, 2012 by

Image via Timothy W. Coleman

Yesterday evening, I received an e-mail from Dr. Paul Milford Muller informing me that my story entitled, “DARPA seeks amateur astronomers” in the Washington Times Communities on Sunday had a significant error.  He posed the question, “Where did you get your figure for energy releases in your article?”

Dr. Muller’s inquiry was in response to a quote from DARPA, which my story included: As DARPA explains, “A collision between one of these small pieces of debris and a satellite could release more than 20,000 times the energy of a head-on automobile collision at 65 mph.”  

Dr. Muller went on to explain that the energy release figure mentioned was inaccurate and he provided some math to make his case.

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Protests across the Muslim World: A Deeper Meaning?

September 20, 2012 by

Protest in Qatar over the YouTube video. Omar Chatriwala/Flickr

Over the last couple of weeks thousands across the Muslim world from Tunisia to Jakarta, have staged protests, burned US flags outside of embassies and murdered an American diplomat over a video portraying slanderous and offensive content toward the prophet Mohammed and the religion of Islam.

The protests spiraled out of control when the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other American citizens were killed by an unruly mob in Benghazi, Libya last week. Slowly more and more angered Muslims joined the fray across the world with some of the largest gatherings since the Arab Spring.

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A Call for Understanding: Observation of the Middle East

September 15, 2012 by

President Obama at the State Department. Pete Souza/White House

This commentary is intended to help anyone who is struggling to understand what has happened in the Middle East this past week.  A book used in leadership development for U.S. government officials working in international affairs with Muslim countries is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s, “What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West”.

It is the chosen reading of Dr. Kamal Beyoghlow, Professor of National Security Strategy and Middle East and North Africa Studies at the National War College. Dr. Beyoghlow also teaches at the Federal Executive Institute delivering lectures including “Understanding and Building Relationships with the Islamic World”, as well as teaching U.S. government leaders across defense, intelligence, and other agencies. This book is a place to start for a quick tutorial. Websites are readily available online with maps and statistics of world religions, and these assist in personal study.

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Russia’s New ICBM: An Arms Race Cloaked by a Bear’s Diplomacy

September 12, 2012 by

Dmitry Medvedev with Gen. Nikolai Makarov. Image via Kremlin’s Press Office

Russia’s recent announcement that it is building a next-generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is squarely designed to address the perceived threats from the US and NATO to build a missile defense system in Europe. While the justification for this new ICBM exudes platitudes of a defensive posturing, the Russian reality is that a new ICBM is the logical next step in its modernization strategy under President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow’s excuse that it feels threatened by NATOs limited and non-operational missile defense system is just that – an excuse.

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War By Other Means: Chinese Economic Espionage in the Automobile Sector

September 3, 2012 by

Automobile assembly line in Zhejiang province, China. Image via Business Week

China’s continued development and geopolitical rise, though impressive and seemingly globally-minded, serve as a reminder that its dual economic and security-focused interests remain a threat undermining both competitors and trading partners.

In May of this year, the US Department of Defense released its annual report on China’s military capabilities, entitled, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2012.” The report outlines a growing and emerging Chinese military focused on obtaining Western dual-use and military technologies by any means.

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Remembering the Man on the Moon: The Passing of Neil Armstrong

August 27, 2012 by

Neil Armstrong took this iconic photograph of Buzz Aldrin. Image via NASA

It should surprise no one, and yet, the passing of the first man on the moon enabled space – and the American way of life – to be yanked into the public fold with a degree of hubris that should turn any human off extra-terrestrial missions. Tributes are flooding various forums, extolling Armstrong as human, humane and gifted. These invariably leave out as much as they tell.

Personal reminiscences of the man have been effusive, which demonstrates that cardinal rule that he who says little in public life shall have much spouted about him.

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Ordinary Iranians: The Silent Victims of the Iran Sanctions

August 3, 2012 by

While the United States and the European Union compete with each other in the seemingly endless race of imposing sanctions on Iran, ordinary Iranian citizens are experiencing the brunt of these crippling embargoes.

On July 31, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Congress, demanding a concerted action to approve the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, which would impose a new set of sanctions on Iran’s energy and transportation sector.

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China, Africa and Implications for the United States

July 14, 2012 by

China is planning to build Chad’s first oil refinery, lay new roads, provide irrigation and erect a mobile telephone network. Chinese oil workers at the exploration site. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times via The New York Times

China and the United States have surprisingly similar interests in Africa. Both rely increasingly on the continent for oil while China also imports large quantities of minerals. Both seek political support from Africa’s 54 countries, which constitute more than a quarter of the membership of the United Nations. Both see Africa as an increasingly attractive export market, although today the African countries collectively account for a tiny percentage of each country’s global trade.

China also wants to expand the “one China” principle throughout Africa; four African countries recognize Taiwan. This is not an American interest. For its part, the United States wants to minimize the impact in Africa of terrorism, narcotics trafficking, international crime, piracy and money laundering so they do not harm US interests in Africa or the homeland. While these are increasingly becoming Chinese interests, they have not yet reached the level of US interest. The United States also seeks to continue naval access to African ports and maintain the ability to overfly and land military aircraft. This is not yet an important interest for China.

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What Israeli Airport Security Teaches the World

June 19, 2012 by

Ben Gurion International Airport. llee_wu/Flickr

No country in the world faces more terrorist threats than Israel, and no airport in the world faces more such threats than Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. The Israelis have of course been the gold standard for establishing and maintaining security in all its forms.  Much of the airport’s security protocol is achieved through a combination of comprehensive due diligence, common sense, and consistency - which, one would think would be the objective of airport authorities throughout the world.  Yet very few other airports have achieved the level of security that exists at Ben Gurion. We explore why that is the case.

All vehicles that arrive at Ben Gurion must first pass through a preliminary security checkpoint where armed guards search the vehicle and exchange a few words with the driver and occupants to gauge their mood and intentions.  Plain clothes officers patrol the area outside the terminal building, assisted by sophisticated hidden surveillance cameras which operate around the clock.

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The Ethics of Unmanned Warfare and the Truman Conundrum

June 4, 2012 by

The first instance of weapons of the computer age for many was the grainy nosecone pictures produced by American smart bombs striking Iraqi targets in 1991. The images left many amazed and asking the question, “do we [mankind] really have the technology to do that?”  Lurch forward another ten years to the use of drone aircraft in the Afghan War. The euphoria is over.  The technology is an established part of the U.S. arsenal and the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan is reduced to scroll at the bottom of the news screen.

American military technology continues advancing as all technology does. The rise of these machines is accompanied by a multitude of questions, important to consider as these weapons are developed and change warfare.

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