Two Roads Diverged in a Digital Wood

 

By now it’s no longer restricted to individual companies or even to the internet sector. It has spread across a wide range of products, services, and economic sectors, including insurance, retail, healthcare, finance, entertainment, education, transportation, and more, birthing whole new ecosystems of suppliers, producers, customers, market-makers, and market players. Nearly every product or service that begins with the word “smart” or “personalised”, every internet-enabled device, every “digital assistant”, is simply a supply-chain interface for the unobstructed flow of behavioural data on its way to predicting our futures in a surveillance economy.

– From the must read piece: ‘The Goal Is to Automate Us’: Welcome to the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

A lot of my content over the past couple of years has focused on the momentous geopolitical changes I see on the horizon, and this macro perspective reaches two significant conclusions. First, that the planet is moving away from a unipolar world dominated almost entirely by the U.S. toward a more multi-polar world. Second, that this fundamental shift in geopolitical landscape, coupled with what appears to be a forthcoming reckoning with the largest global debt bubble in human history, will lead to a once in a generation reset of the world economy and the global financial system that keeps it functioning. Continue reading

Is U.S. Geopolitical Strategy Experiencing a Monumental Shift?

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The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

– From Graham Allison’s article: The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

For the past two years, my geopolitical assumption has been that the Trump administration would more or less continue along with the reckless, shortsighted, and disastrous neocon/neoliberal interventionist foreign policy of the past two decades focused on undeclared regime change and proxy wars across the world, especially the Middle East. Given his strange obsession with Iran, I figured he’d start a conflict there and that this conflict would end up a bigger disaster than Iraq. Continue reading

China Hacks America—and ‘None Goes to Battle’

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Gary Dorning/Trumpet

 

A tiny Chinese microchip may have infiltrated numerous American governmental and military systems, giving insight into how several specific Bible prophecies could come to pass.

It isn’t hard to imagine a time in the near future when great numbers of Americans take to the streets. Maybe the trigger would be another divisive presidential election, with half the nation refusing to accept four more years of an administration they loathe. Maybe the trigger would be impeachment hearings or a particularly controversial decision by “Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court,” such as restricting abortion.

Whatever the spark, it isn’t hard to imagine America’s intensifying domestic tensions exploding into mass riots. Continue reading

New Evidence Of Chinese Spy Hardware Found By Ex-Mossad Investigators; Super Micro Shares Plunge

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A major US telecommunications company found “manipulated” hardware from Super Micro Computer Inc. in its network in August – bolstering claims in a Bloomberg report last week alleging that China installed bugging devices on hardware bought by Apple, Amazon and a host of other companies.

According to a new report by Bloomberg, the unnamed telecom company hired former Israeli Intelligence Corps security expert Yossi Appleboum, now of Maryland-based Sepio Systems, who provided “documents, analysis and other evidence of the discovery” following last week’s report detailing how China’s intelligence agencies had ordered subcontractors to install malicious chips in Super Micro motherboards between 2013 and 2015.  Continue reading

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies

Recognition of this urgent and grave matter is finally receiving recognition by the mainstream media. Chinese microchips have been planted within every facet of U.S. life, from the military to household PC components, as well as everyday appliances such as irons and microwaves.

Further information previously archived on Global Geopolitics can be found within the following previous posts:

The Secret Ways of Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei (2013)

Security backdoor found in China-made US military chip (2012)

 

Click for a larger animated version. (Illustrator: Scott Gelber for Bloomberg Businessweek)

 

The attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 U.S. companies, including Amazon and Apple, by compromising America’s technology supply chain, according to extensive interviews with government and corporate sources.

In 2015, Amazon.com Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Based in Portland, Ore., Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Elemental’s national security contracts weren’t the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon’s government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the CIA. Continue reading

U.S. to Remain Dependent on Russian Rocket Engines for Years Despite Billions Poured Into Domestic Alternatives

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launched / Getty Images

 

Industry officials say military won’t move fully to American-built engines until at least 2024

The Pentagon will remain dependent on Russian rocket engines to launch military satellites into space through at least the mid-2020s, despite the U.S. government allocating billions of dollars to defense contractors to produce an American-made replacement.

The projection adds several years to initial targets laid out in 2014 by lawmakers and senior Air Force officials, who ordered the United States begin phasing out Russia’s RD-180 engines amid national security concerns spurred by the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. Continue reading

How Lidl in America Will Drive U.S. Grocers Out of Business

 

It’s pronounced “lee-duhl” – you’ll need to know that when a Lidl supermarket replaces your local grocery store.

Lidl is a German grocery chain that offers heavily discounted yet shockingly high-quality products.

“[Lidl] is going to be an interesting wake-up call for a lot of retailers,” George Faigen, of management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said to Retail Dive on June 15.

The question is not whether it will disrupt the American grocery industry, but to what degree.

Continue reading

America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever

 

  • Rue21 may be latest casualty as it prepares bankruptcy filing
  • Amazon is gobbling up most of the industry’s online growth

The battered American retail industry took a few more lumps this week, with stores at both ends of the price spectrum preparing to close their doors.

At the bottom, the seemingly ubiquitous Payless Inc. shoe chain filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to shutter hundreds of locations. Ralph Lauren Corp., meanwhile, said it will close its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store — a symbol of old-fashioned luxury that no longer resonates with today’s shoppers. Continue reading

Surprise: At the End, Obama Administration Gave NSA Broad New Powers

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

 

This story, from the Jan. 12, 2017, edition of the New York Times, was little-remarked upon at the time, but suddenly has taken on far greater significance in light of current events:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people. Continue reading

Mass Layoffs To Return With A Vengeance

Remember the mass layoffs of 2008-2009? The US economy shed millions of jobs quickly and relentlessly, as companies died and the rest fought for survival.

Then the Fed and the US government flooded the banks and the corporate sector with bailouts and handouts. With those giga-tons of liquidity sloshing around, as well as taking on massive amounts of new cheap debt, companies were able to finance their working capital needs, hire workers back, and even buy-back their shares en mass to make themselves look deceptively profitable. The nightmare of 2008 soon became a golden era of ‘recovery’.

Well, 2016 is showing us that that era is over. And as stock prices cease to rise, and in fact fall within many industries, layoffs are beginning to make a return as companies jettison costs in attempt to reduce losses. Continue reading

Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao says he is in talks to buy New York Times

First he handed out cash to victims of China’s 2008 earthquake. Then he sold “canned fresh air” to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.

Now Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China’s 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his wealth, claims he is in talks to buy the New York Times.

“Soon, I will go to America to do three things,” Chen told a crowd Monday night at a news media award reception in the southern Chinese boom town of Shenzhen, according to the semi-official China News Service.

The first, he said, “is to go discuss the acquisition of the New York Times”. Continue reading