Daily Archives: July 21, 2021

Andy Harris, GOP allies want answers from NSA on Tucker Carlson spy claims – The Star Democrat

Posted: July 21, 2021 at 12:55 am

EASTON U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st., has joined other conservative lawmakers in asking for information from the National Security Agency regarding Fox News host Tucker Carlsons claims he was spied on by the U.S. intelligence arm.

Harris who represents the Eastern Shore has signed onto a letter from a group of congressional Republicans asking NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to investigate Carlsons claims and provide Congress with information on potential clandestine and domestic surveillance.

The NSA has issued a statement denying Carlsons contentions. The Fox News host said he and his show were spied on while trying to book an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Carlson is a critic of the Biden administration as well as U.S. foreign policies and intelligence activities.

Harris joined 16 other House Republicans in asking for the NSA investigation.

The push includes some of the most ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump including U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

Spying, unmasking, and leaking the private communications of American citizens weaponizes our intelligence agencies, and this abuse of power must stop. Protecting national security is not only about deterring enemy threats, but it also involves safeguarding our liberties, said U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., who spearheaded the letter along with U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas.

Gaetz and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have also previously called investigations into Carlsons claims.

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Manipur: Govt using NSA to silence citizens, says activist released after SC order – India Today

Posted: at 12:55 am

Manipuri political activist Erendro Leichombam has accused the N Biren Singh government led by the BJP of trying to silence dissenting voices in the state by using the provisions of the National Security Act (NSA), 1980.

Leichombam, 40, was released on Monday following a Supreme Court order. He had been detained under the NSA over a Facebbok post in May this year. The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud ordered his release before 5 pm on Monday.

After his release, Leichombam said, It is a sort of redemption. Two months of arbitrary imprisonment, that too, based on a law that was used by the British to put freedom fighters (behind bars) during the colonial era...something that has been used by the current administration in Manipur is very unfortunate.

Hitting out at the BJP-run state government, Leichombam said, Basically, anybody, any one of us can be arrested anytime if whatever we are speaking is against the current administrations liking...this is a concerted attempt to silence the citizens.

What I write on Facebook is an expression of how people are feeling...that's why people are sharing it, liking it...that is a fact the current administration cannot digest. That is why they used this draconian act to put me behind bars, he said terming the police action as an act of political terrorism.

Commenting on the death of Manipur BJP chief S Tikendra Singh due to Covid-19 earlier this year, Leichombam had put out a post on social media stating cow dung and cow urine were not cure for Corona. State BJP leaders had lodged complaint against him terming his post as offensive.

Following his detention, the activists father had moved the Supreme Court. Overruling a governments request to adjourn the hearing on Monday, the Supreme Court said the activists continued detention amounted to violation of right to life and personal liberty.

Leichombam, who along with Irom Sharmila floated the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), a new political outfit in 2016 said, I believe people of Manipur will take this into consideration when Manipur goes to polls next year.

(With Jit Nigomba in Imphal)

Also Read: Legislature not likely to do anything to prevent criminals from entering politics, says SC

Also Read: Shocking state of affairs: Supreme Court raps Kerala govt for allowing relaxations of Covid norms for Bakrid

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Bill Posey Wants to Know if NSA is Spying on Tucker Carlson – Florida Daily

Posted: at 12:55 am

Last week, a congressman from the Sunshine State led a letter to National Security Agency (NSA) Director Paul Nakasone demanding information on reports that the Agency illegally spied on Fox News host Tucker Carlson and planned to leak his personal emails to media outlets.

U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, to lead the letter.

The letter requests that the NSA provide all documents the Agency may have involving Tucker Carlson as well as the following information: a detailed description of the limited exceptions that would permit the NSA to target a US citizen without a court order, as the Agency understands the term as it is used in its own tweet; a detailed description of what constitutes an emergency that would permit the NSA to target a US citizen without a court order, as the Agency understands the term as used in its own tweet; a detailed description of the foreign activities that could harm the United States, as the Agency understands the phrase as used in its own tweet;a full explanation of when the Agency understands it is lawful to monitor, surveil, collect, unmask, or receive data on a US citizen without a court order explicitly authorizing such targeting, including while conducted in the course of targeting foreign powers; a detailed description of how the Agency defines domestic terrorist and when its mission could extend to targeting foreign powers who are corresponding with individuals defined as such; a detailed description of your understanding of the term clandestine intelligence activities; and ahat specific actions have been taken to hold accountable those who unmasked, approved unmasking, or shared information on unmasked U.S. citizens? Poseys office noted.

More than a dozen House Republicans including U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado signed the letter.

Spying, unmasking, and leaking the private communications of American citizens weaponizes our intelligence agencies, and this abuse of power must stop. Protecting national security is not only about deterring enemy threats, but it also involves safeguarding our liberties, said Posey.

After the disturbing treatment of Donald Trump by the Deep State, it should come as no surprise that intelligence agencies are continuing their illegal surveillance of Americans who dare to challenge power-hungry elites in Washington, D.C. Reports about the NSA spying on Tucker Carlson are reminiscent of something one would expect to see in a tyrannical dictatorship, not the United States of America where citizens supposedly still have Constitutional rights. The Agencys attempt to explain itself thus far has only raised more questions that Mr. Carlson and every citizen of this country deserve to have answered, said Gohmert.

On his Fox News show at the end of last month, Carlson said the NSA was spying on him.

We heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them to take this show off the air, Carlson said.

The NSA has denied the allegations while Carlson has not shown evidence of his claim.

Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air, the NSA said in a statement. NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States.

With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting, the NSA noted.

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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‘Pakistan being targeted through hybrid warfare,’ NSA Yusuf says in briefing on Afghan ‘abduction’ incident – DAWN.com

Posted: at 12:55 am

National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf said on Monday that Pakistan was currently a target of "hybrid warfare" and an entire network of information warfare was being used against the country.

He made the remarks during a press briefing on the alleged abduction and release of the Afghan ambassador's daughter in Islamabad last week.

Yusuf recalled that the EU DisinfoLab had exposed an India-based network of fake websites and media outlets doing propaganda against Pakistan.

He said fake accounts and bots were being used to create a "narrative" against Pakistan, including regarding the incident involving the Afghan envoy's daughter.

Ambassador Najibullah Alikhils daughter, Silsila, was reportedly abducted on Friday from Islamabads commercial area by unidentified persons who also allegedly subjected her to torture.

According to her, she was returning home in the afternoon in a taxi after visiting a bakery in Islamabads Blue Area when the driver picked up another man who verbally abused and assaulted her. She was later dropped in an unconscious condition by the roadside. Her medical report said she had been physically assaulted.

Sharing slides on data gathered by the government, Yusuf said hashtags were being trended on a daily basis to create false impressions including that Pakistan "is doing something [wrong] in Afghanistan" and that the security situation in Pakistan was poor.

"This is part of an orchestrated campaign of which various fronts have been opened against Pakistan," he said, adding that the same accounts that did "fake propaganda" regarding Balochistan or Kashmir were also doing propaganda ever since the alleged abduction incident took place. According to Yusuf, some of these accounts were operated from inside Pakistan, while the rest were controlled from Afghanistan, India and the West.

As an example, the NSA showed a tweet by a verified Indian Twitter account that contained a false picture of the Afghan envoy's daughter showing her in an injured state.

He said the "spoilers" were trying to create rifts between Pakistan and Afghanistan, adding that this narrative reflected that Pakistan was being made a "scapegoat" in Afghanistan.

"Blaming us for the failures of someone else in Afghanistan will not be acceptable to us," he stressed. He said the government monitored the coordinated activity being carried out through bots and reported the same, but new accounts kept emerging.

Speaking alongside him, Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Qazi Jamilur Rehman said police had analysed all footage of the movement of the Afghan ambassadors daughter. He added that the impression given [about her abduction] is not corroborated by the evidence we have collected.

He revealed that police interviewed more than 200 people in the case after examining the footage obtained through close circuit TV cameras. The woman first leaves from her home on feet, then she hires a taxi from Rana Market and heads to Khadda Market. We subsequently identified the taxi and located its driver and interrogated him, the IGP said.

He continued that Silsila then hired a second cab from Khadda Market that took her to Rawalpindi. Similarly we traced the second taxi and its driver confirmed that he picked up the woman from the market and dropped her off at Saddar, Rawalpindi. We also obtained its footage, he added.

The envoy's daughter then hailed another cab from Rawalpindi to reach Daman-i-Koh. Upon reaching there, she hired a fourth taxi for F-9, but made a brief stopover at F-6, he said.

According to the IGP, the driver of this taxi told police that the woman asked him to stop the car at F-6, and made a phone call to someone, but it could not go through. She then asked to be taken to F-9, the police chief said.

After the cab finally reached F-9, he said, the woman called someone at the embassy and the staffer picked her up from there.

The IGP said Silsila had contended that she did not visit Rawalpindi, but her claim was disputed by the CCTV footage.

Police have sought further assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address a few points in the case, Rehman added.

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Cybersecurity Defense: Recommendations for Companies Impacted by the Biden Administration Executive Order – JD Supra

Posted: at 12:55 am

Thus, while on its face, many of the new requirements within the Order are aimed at federal agencies and government subcontractors, the ultimate goal appears to be to create a more unified national cybersecurity defense across all sectors. In this installment of our blog series, I will outline recommended steps for private sector organizations to prepare for compliance with the Order, as well as general best-practice tips for adopting a more preemptive approach to cybersecurity.

First and foremost, organizations must understand their current cybersecurity posture. Given the severity and volume of recent cyberattacks, third-party in-depth or red-team assessments should be done that would include not only the organizations IT assets, but also include solutions providers, vendors, and suppliers. Red teaming is the process of providing a fact-driven adversary perspective as an input to solving or addressing a problem. In the cybersecurity space, it has become a best practice wherein the cyber resilience of an organization is challenged by an adversary or a threat actors perspective.[1] Red-team testing is very useful to test organizational policies, procedures, and reactions against defined, intended standards.

A third-party assessment must include a comprehensive remote network scan and a comprehensive internal scan with internal access provided or gained with the intent to detect and expose potential vulnerabilities, exploits, and attack vectors for red-team testing. Internal comprehensive discovery includes scanning and running tools with the intent to detect deeper levels of vulnerabilities and areas of compromise. Physical intrusion tests during red-team testing should be conducted on the facility, networks, and systems to test readiness, defined policies, and procedures.

The assessment will evaluate the ability to preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information maintained and used by the organization and will test the use of security controls and procedures used to secure sensitive data.

To accurately assess your organizations risk, you first have to know who your vendors, partners, and suppliers are with whom you share critical data. Many organizations rely on a complex and interconnected supply chain to provide solutions or share data. As noted above, this is exactly why the Order will eventually broadly impact the private sector. While on its face, the Order only seems to impact federal government and subcontractor entities, those entities data infrastructures (like most today) are interconnected environments composed of many different organizations with complex layers of outsourcing partners, diverse distribution routes, and various technologies to provide products and services all of whom will have to live up to the Orders cybersecurity standards. In short, the federal government is recognizing that its vendors, partners, and suppliers cybersecurity vulnerabilities are also its own. The sooner all organizations realize this the better.

According to recent NIST guidance, Managing cyber supply chain risk requires ensuring the integrity, security, quality, and resilience of the supply chain and its products and services. NIST recommends focusing on foundational practices, enterprise-wide practices, risk management processes, and critical systems. Cost-effective supply chain risk mitigation requires organizations to identify systems and components that are most vulnerable and will cause the largest organizational impact if compromised.[2]

In the recent attacks, hackers inserted malicious code into Orion software, and around 18,000 SolarWinds customers, including government and corporate entities, installed the tainted update onto their systems. The compromised update has had a sweeping impact, the scale of which keeps growing as new information emerges.

Locking down your networks, systems, and data is just the beginning! Inquiring how your supply chain implements a Zero Trust strategy and secures their environment as well as your shared data is vitally important. A cyber-weak or compromised company can lead to exfiltration of data, which a bad actor can exploit or use to compromise your organization.

Third-party assessors should deliver a comprehensive report of their findings that includes the descriptions of the vulnerabilities, risks found in the environment, and recommendations to properly secure the data center assets, which will help companies stay ahead of the Orders mandates. The reports typically include specific data obtained from the network, any information regarding exploitation of exposures, and the attempts to gain access to sensitive data.

A superior assessment report will contain documented and detailed findings as a result of performing the service and will convey the assessors opinion of how best to remedy vulnerabilities. These will be prioritized for immediate action, depending upon the level of risk. Risks are often prioritized as critical, high, medium, and low risk to the environment, and a plan can be developed based upon these prioritizations for remediation.

As outlined in Section 3 of the Order, a Zero Trust strategy is critical to addressing the above steps, and must include establishing policy, training the organization, and assigning accountability for updating the policy.

Defined by the National Security Agency (NSA)s Guidance on the Zero Trust Security Model: The Zero Trust model eliminates trust in any one element, node, or service by assuming that a breach is inevitable or has already occurred. The data-centric security model constantly limits access while also looking for anomalous or malicious activity.[3]

Properly implemented Zero Trust is not a set of access controls to be checked, but rather an assessment and implementation of security solutions that provide proper network and hardware segmentation as well as platform micro-segmentation and are implemented at all layers of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. A good position to take is that Zero Trust should be implemented using a design where all of the solutions assume they exist in a hostile environment. The solutions operate as if other layers in a companys protections have been compromised. This allows isolation of the different layers to improve protection by combining the Zero Trust principles throughout the environment from perimeters to VPNs, remote access to Web Servers, and applications.

For a true Zero Trust enabled environment, focus on cybersecurity solution providers that qualify as Advanced in the NSAs Zero Trust Maturity Model; as defined in NSAs Cybersecurity Paper, Embracing a Zero Trust Security Model.[4] This means that these solution providers will be able to deploy advanced protections and controls with robust analytics and orchestration.

In order to further modernize your organizations cybersecurity protection, consider full integration and/or replacement of some existing cybersecurity systems with ones that understand the complete end-to-end threats across the network. How can an organization implement confidentiality and integrity for breach prevention?

Solutions must have built-in protections leveraging multiple automated defense techniques, deep zero-day intelligence, revolutionary honeypot sensors, and revolutionary state technologies working together to preemptively protect the environment.

As noted above, Cyemptive recommends the above steps in order to take a preemptive, holistic approach to cybersecurity defense. Cyemptive recommends initiating the above process as soon as possible not only to comply with potential government mandates brought about due to President Bidens Executive Order, but also to ensure that organizations are better prepared for the increased cybersecurity threat activity we are seeing throughout the private sector.

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The Week that Will Be – Lawfare – Lawfare

Posted: at 12:55 am

Event Announcements (More details on the Events Calendar)

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy will hold a hearing on the historic protests in Cuba. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Jos Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas Division at Human Rights Watch, and Rosa Mara Pay Acevedo, director of Cuba Decide.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security will hold a hearing on the Transportation Security Administration's (TSAs) strategy for addressing increased summer travel. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Darby LaJoye, the TSA's executive assistant administrator for security operations, and Michael Ondocin, the TSA's executive assistant administrator for law enforcement and the federal air marshal service.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the federal government's coronavirus response. The committee will hear testimony from Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary of health and human services for preparedness and response.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Karen Donfried to be an assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Catherine Phee to be an assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Anne Witkowksy to be an assistant secretary of state for conflict and stabilization operations, and Paloma Adams-Allen to be a deputy administrator of USAID for management and resources.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:15 a.m.: The Atlantic Council will host a conversation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus, on the state and future of the Belarusian democratic movement. Amna Nawaz, chief correspondent at PBS NewsHour, will moderate, and Julie Fisher, U.S. ambassador to Belarus, will offer opening remarks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:30 a.m.: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the growing threat of ransomware. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Kemba Walden, assistant general counsel for the Microsoft Corporation; Robert Lee, chief executive officer of Dragos; Christian Dameff, professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Diego; Charles Carmakal, chief technical officer of FireEye-Mandiant; and Philip Reiner, chief executive officer of the Institute for Security and Technology.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation and Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber will hold a joint hearing on U.S.-European cooperation on China and the broader Indo-Pacific. The subcommittees will hear testimony from Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Matthew Goodman, senior vice president for economics at CSIS; and Peter Rough, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel will hold a hearing on the findings and recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Lynn Rosenthal, chair of the commission; three commission members; and Kathleen Hicks, deputy defense secretary.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development will hold a hearing on modernizing the State Department. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Marcie Ries, former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and Albania; Annie-Marie Slaughter, chief executive officer of New America; and Stephen Biegun, former deputy secretary of state.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 2:45 p.m.: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing on the nominations of Matthew Olsen to be the assistant attorney general for national security, Stacey Dixon to be principal deputy director of national intelligence and Thomas Monheim to be intelligence community inspector general.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism will hold a hearing on grassroots peacebuilding efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, director of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace; Nada Majdalani, Palestinian director for EcoPeace Middle East; Meredith Mishkin Rothbart, co-founder and chief executive officer of Amal-Tikva; and Daniel Runde, director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will hold a hearing on Navy and Air Force weapon systems divestments. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Vice Adm. Randy Crites, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources; Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities; and Lt. Gen. David Nahom, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 11:15 a.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. policy to Turkey. The committee will hear testimony from Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.: The McCain Institute will host a conversation with Seamus Hughes, deputy director off the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, on his book Homegrown: ISIS in America. Hughes will be interviewed by Brette Steele, the McCain Institute's senior director of the Preventing Targeted Violence Program.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy will hold a hearing on combating climate change in East Asia and the Pacific. The subcommittee will hear testimony from two panels of witnesses, including officials from the State Department, USAID and the Pentagon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2022 budget request for Special Operations Forces and Command. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Gen. Richard Clarke, the commander of Special Operations Command, and Joseph McMenamin, senior official performing the duties of the assistant defense secretary for special operations and low intensity conflict.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.: The Wilson Center will host a panel on the role of state actors in combating ransomware. Meg King, director of the Science and Technology Program at the Wilson Center, will deliver the introductory remarks and Rep. Jim Himes will deliver the keynote address. The panel will be moderated by Ellen Nakashima, national security reporter at the Washington Post, and the panelists will be Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator; Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kenan Institute; and King.

Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism will hold a hearing on terrorism and digital financing. The subcommittee will hear testimony from Stephanie Dobitsch, deputy undersecretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis; Jeremy Sheridan, assistant director of the Secret Service's Office of Investigations; and John Eisert, assistant director for investigative programs at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.: The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on the international communitys response to the political and humanitarian crises in Myanmar. Jonathan Stromseth, Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at Brookings, will moderate a panel that will include Mary Callahan, associate professor of international studies at University of Washington; Kavi Chongkittavorn, senior fellow at the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University; Aye Min Thant, features editor at Frontier Myanmar; and Derek Mitchell, former U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar.

Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.: The McCain Institute will host a conversation between former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May on the United States transatlantic alliances.

Friday, July 23, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.: The Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings will host a discussion on transatlantic data transfers in the context of ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the E.U. regarding the replacement of privacy shield. Rep. Suzan DelBene will deliver a keynote address before a panel moderated by Steven Overly, reporter at Politico. The panelists include Barbara Cosgrove, vice president at Workday; Sharon Bradford Franklin, co-director of the Center for Democracy & Technology; Cameron Kerry, Brookings visiting fellow; and Peter Swire, professor at Georgia Tech.

Employment Announcements (More details on the Job Board)

The following are job announcements of potential interest toLawfarereaders. If you have an announcement to add to the page,emailus.

Senior Research Program Manager, Hoover Institution at Stanford University

The Hoover Institution is seeking qualified candidates for a full-timeSenior Research Program Managerfor the Technology, Economics, and Governance Working Group and subsidiary programs. The ideal candidate will be highly organized with work experience in both business and national security and a familiarity with academic institutions and research. If you are both strategic and practical, enjoy directing complex programs, managing policy-relevant research projects, and cultivating professional and business partnerships, we encourage you to apply today to support Hoovers mission.

Resume and cover letter required for full consideration.

About Stanford Universitys Hoover Institution:The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is a public policy research center devoted to the advanced study of economics, politics, history, and political economyboth domestic and foreignas well as international affairs.

Founded in 1919 by Herbert Hoover before he became the thirty-first president of the United States, the Institution began as a repository of historical material gathered at the end of World War I. The library and archives have grown to be among the largest private repositories of documents on twentieth-century political and economic history. Over time the Institution expanded its mission from collecting archival material to conducting advanced research on contemporary history and economics and applying this scholarship to current public policy challenges.

With its eminent scholars and world-renowned library and archives, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the human condition by advancing ideas that promote economic opportunity and prosperity while securing and safeguarding peace for America and all humanity.


The Senior Research Program Manager reports to Hoover Senior Fellow and is responsible for managing the Technology, Economics, and Governance Working Group and subsidiary programs in consultation with the senior leadership.

The Hoover Institutions new Working Group on Technology, Economics and Governance brings together Hoover senior scholars from across fields with private sector leaders to address key questions at the nexus of technology, economics, and governance. The Working Group seeks to understand the drivers and dynamics of technological innovation in the 21st century, assess the opportunities and risks that breakthrough technologies are creating, and develop governance approaches that maximize the benefits and mitigate the risks for the nation and the world. The Working Group will conduct original research to better understand the current state of innovation as well as its causes and likely effects. This policy-relevant research will inform workshops and engagement with both private sector and public sector leaders and the development of policy recommendations for decision-makers at all levels of government.



* The job duties listed are typical examples of work performed by positions in this job classification and are not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary depending on department or program needs without changing the general nature and scope of the job or level of responsibility. Employees may also perform other duties as assigned.


Education & Experience:

Bachelors degree and eight years of relevant experience, or combination of education and relevant experience. Masters degree or equivalent experience, with a background in business, political science, economics, or law strongly preferred.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Desired/Preferred Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Certifications and Licenses:


*Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of his or her job.



The Hoover Institution at Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Program Manager, Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties, R Street Institute

The R Street Institutea free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., with regional offices across the countryseeks a motivated, organized program manager to help us implement and maintain systems for our projects and grants. This position reports to the Policy Director, Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties. If you want to join an energetic organization and do something extraordinary, this may be just the opportunity you need.

A typical day at R Street may include drafting grant reports; reviewing and tracking the fulfillment of committed project deliverables and associated metrics of success on a restricted grant; monitoring the progress and resource allocation to date on a particular project; improving the estimation of time invested across the organization for creating a white paper; and mentoring your colleagues in project management. Note: this is not a policy writing or policymaking role, though it will be what you make of itproviding opportunities to take on more responsibility and leadership if you have the drive, passion and skills.

Aspects of Your Role

Skills and Qualifications


R Street offers a flexible working arrangement. This is a full-time position that can either work the majority of the week in our DC office or be fully remote.

Compensation, Benefits and Perks

R Street strives to provide a compensation package superior to those at other think tanks and nonprofits. In addition to a competitive salary, we provide the following benefits and perks:

R Street does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, era of military service, gender identity or anything else thats illegal, immoral or nonsensical to use as a basis for hiring.

We currently plan to accept applications for this job until filled. We will contact qualified individuals for telephone interviews and conduct them on a rolling basis. Interviews will be held virtually, via Zoom.

To apply, you must upload a cover letter and resume in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

Policy Program Coordinator, National Security Institute

The George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School seeks a Policy Program Coordinator for the National Security Institute (NSI) on the Arlington, VA., campus. George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Masons academic and culturally inclusive environment.


TheNSIPolicy Program Coordinator will be responsible for the successful planning and coordination ofNSIpolicy program efforts and events. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Required Qualifications:

Preferred Qualifications:

This is not a supervisory position.

For full consideration, applicants must apply for position number 10581z at http://jobs.gmu.edu/ by September 1, 2021; complete and submit the online application; and upload a cover letter, resume, and a list of three professional references with contact information.

Program Assistant, National Security Institute

The George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School seeks a Program Assistant for the National Security Institute (NSI) on the Arlington, VA., campus. George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Masons academic and culturally inclusive environment.


Reporting to National Security Institutes Deputy Director, theNSIProgram Assistant will be responsible for the successful execution ofNSIevents and for supporting NSIs other programs. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Required Qualifications:

Preferred Qualifications:

This is not a supervisory position.

For full consideration, applicants must apply for position number 10512z at http://jobs.gmu.edu/ by September 1, 2021; complete and submit the online application; and upload a cover letter, resume, and a list of three professional references with contact information.

Request for Resumes, Department of Defense Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel, Department of Defense (DoD), is reviewing the resume file for potential candidates for a number of Schedule A, Excepted Service, attorney positions that are under the supervision of the Deputy General Counsel (Intelligence) and support the intelligence and security practice areas. Individuals interested in being considered are invited to review the notice at https://ogc.osd.mil/Careers/. This is not a vacancy announcement.

The office is seeking candidates with expertise relevant to the following roles:

Attorney - Experienced Level, National Security Agency

Location: Fort Meade, MD

Job ID: 1163464

Job Responsibilities

The professionals at the National Security Agency (NSA) have one common goal: to protect our nation. The mission requires a strong offense and a steadfast defense. The offense collects, processes and disseminates intelligence information derived from foreign signals for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. The defense prevents adversaries from gaining access to sensitive or classified national security information.

The NSA Office of General Counsel's Acquisition, Research & Technology (ART) practice group is seeking superior applicants with experience in federal procurement who are interested in joining its elite team of lawyers who provide legal advice to the Agency as it carries out its missions. The ART practice group provides legal advice and representation to Agency personnel at all levels on a wide range of acquisition, installations, logistics, fiscal, environmental, export, technology transfer, and intellectual-property matters. The spectrum of issues handled by ART is broad and ART's legal advice is routinely required in novel situations. In addition to serving in an advisory capacity, ART attorneys also have the opportunity to litigate and serve as lead counsel in contract-related litigation before the Government Accountability Office and the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals while playing a supporting role to the Department of Justice in litigation before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Attorneys working in NSA OGC apply their expertise, skills, and education to solve a variety of challenges not found in the private sector or at any other government agency. You will have the opportunity to make a global impact on a daily basis as you work with other top caliber professionals at the highest levels of the Agency and across the U.S. Government. This critical work ensures that Agency operations comply with the law while also protecting both our national security and our civil liberties.

In tackling these challenges, our attorneys work directly with senior officials at various Intelligence Community and Executive Branch agencies, as well as relevant committees of Congress.

NSA attorneys work in a highly classified setting and are entrusted with tremendous responsibility as they advise the Director and other senior leaders at the Agency on a diverse and complex spectrum of issues. Because the NSA is a Department of Defense agency, our attorneys have a unique opportunity to be directly involved in national security operations working alongside military and civilian colleagues, as well as to interact with the private sector in cybersecurity and other matters.

In short, many OGC attorneys say they can't imagine working in a more exciting and important position.

Description of Position

The responsibilities of an Acquisition Attorney at the NSA can include:

Appointment to this position requires a minimum commitment of 5 year(s) in OGC before you can be eligible to apply for any other positions at the Agency.

Job Summary

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) is the exclusive NSA component responsible for providing legal services to all NSA elements. The Office of General Counsel protect NSA's interests concerning the legal and regulatory authorities, requirements, entitlements, obligations and oversight requirements under which the Agency operate.


Salary Range: $103,690 - $159,286 (Senior)

*The qualifications listed are the minimum acceptable to be considered for the position. Salary offers are based on candidates' education level and years of experience relevant to the position and also take into account information provided by the hiring manager/organization regarding the work level for the position.

Entry for Grade 13 is with a Professional Law Degree (LLB or JD).

Degree must be a Professional Law Degree (LL.B. or J.D.) and requires active membership in the bar of the highest court of a State, U.S. commonwealth, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia.

Grade 13: Must have in excess of 2 years of relevant experience. Relevant experience as determined by the Office of the General Counsel (or the Office of the Inspector General for positions in the OIG) must be professional legal experience that is commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of the position. See DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1442.02 for exceptions to the grade-level standards. Active membership in the bar of the highest court of a State, U.S. commonwealth, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia is required.

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52 Years Of Moon Landing: Voyages Of Discovery, Voyages Of Profit – Outlook India

Posted: at 12:53 am

Its been 52 years now! 20th July 1969! A memorable day for humanity. On that day, two people represented the whole world in breaking the boundaries of Earth and started an era of explorations beyond Earth by stepping on the hitherto unexplored soil of Earths nearest neighbour in the cosmos, the Moon.

It was not only a story of technological excellence and competency, but also a tale of the human minds eternal quest for the unknown and our intention for going beyond our natural habitat, our environment to conquer distant alien worlds. It was 8:17 p.m. on 20th July, that Eagle, the Lunar Lander of the Apollo 11 mission touched down on the Moon. Soon after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the soil of Moon. Edwin Aldrin followed and for two and half hours they ventured, moved and performed experiments on the Lunar surface. It must have been quite an exciting and thrilling experience for them. Much more unique than their extensive training on simulated lunar environments and landscapes on Earth. They were part of the Apollo 11 Mission, now a subject of every science textbook around the world. On their module named Eagle, they landed and later safely returned back to the orbiting module named Columbia, where another astronaut, Michael Collins waited for them. Rest is history. Throughout the world people were enthralled with the scratchy images of Neil Armstrong climbing down the stairs of the spacecraft, jumping gently onto the Moon. His first statement will remain forever a poignant utterance oft-quoted by multitudes of people thereafter for motivating further conquest of space.

Thats one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. A statement probably made in the excitement of a successful landing on the Moon, but with a profound effect on generations of space scientists all over the world.

It was the beginning of an era of increasingly more technologically advanced missions to the Moon. From 1969 to 1972 six Apollo missions successfully landed on the Moon. Altogether 12 astronauts stepped onto the moon and carried out complex manoeuvres trying to get as much information possible from the lunar surface, atmosphere, interiors and the possibility of the presence of water molecules.

The Mission to Moon started in earnest when Soviet Russia sent numerous spacecraft to the Moon, some to orbit, some to land under the Luna Programme. Luna 1 had the first successful flyby. Luna 2 crashed into the moon. Luna 3, in 1959, orbited the moon and sent the first close up pictures of the moons surface and far side. Russia continued with their lunar programme by sending almost regularly different spacecraft. Some were successful in sending us data that earlier nobody was aware of, but at other times their missions were failures.

One has to remember that the prevalent period was also of tremendous international conflict, mistrust and competition. The Cold War was raging. The USA and its allies were up against arms with Soviet Russia and the Soviet Block countries to prove their excellence in financial, defence, science, technology and global powerplay. The initial success of Soviet Russia in reaching the Moon galvanized the Western Block, especially America. It was the American President, John F. Kennedy who wanted to create a masterstroke for his nation and in 1961 made it a national goal to land an astronaut on the moon and return them safely to Earth within a decade! It was a tall order, given the level of preparedness and prevalent technological efficiency of NASA which was established only in 1958. Mostly to compete with Russia and to win the race of supremacy in space science, NASA had its Mercury and Gemini Programmes to test the possibility of a manned mission to the Moon and return safely to Earth. These projects and their partial successes along with the interest of the scientists, political leaders and general public paved the way for the ambitious Apollo Programme, which in today's money, had a budget of about $225 billion! It seemed that the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 was instrumental in strengthening the resolve of American technocrats and the scientific community to proceed at a breakneck speed and win the race to the Moon thereby partly winning the imaginary Superpower Challenge between the USSR and USA.

The purpose of the Apollo missions (1963 -72) was to achieve the goal of landing an astronaut on the moon and bringing them back to Earth safely. The first Apollo mission (Apollo 1) ended in a disaster where 3 astronauts died in a fire during a flight pre-test.

The next manned mission was Apollo 7. Apollo 7 spent more time in space than all the Soviet space flights combined up to that time. Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after travelling over 800,000 Km. and orbiting the moon ten times. Apollo 9 was the first manned flight in Earth's orbit and the first manned flight of the lunar module. This flight paved the way for Apollo 10, which was the first to travel to the moon with the entire Apollo configuration.

Apollo 11 started its journey from the Kennedy Space Flight centre on 16th July 1969 on a Saturn V rocket and ultimately the lunar lander slowly settled on the moon on July 20, at around 20:17 UT (IST: July 21, 1:47 hrs.) Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UT (IST: 8:26 hrs). Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft and collected around 20 Kg. of lunar rock to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Columbia orbiter alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface, at a site named Tranquility Base at the Sea of Tranquility ( Sea basically meant plain land on the surface of the Moon), before lifting off to re-join Columbia in lunar orbit. They returned to Earth on 24 July, 1969 after the 8 days travel and crashed onto the Pacific Ocean from where they were collected.

The next three years saw the successful landing of five more spacecraft named Apollo 12-17. Apollo 13 could not land because the crew faced a crisis when the oxygen tank on the service module leaked and they had to come back to earth just orbiting the Moon in a loop. It was a high drama of how they survived the ordeal, which was later made into a popular movie released in 1995 of the same name.

Then there was a pause in Moon missions. That probably started a rumour that the Americans have not at all landed on Moon and staged the whole event in a well-orchestrated make-believe movie set on the Earth itself. Initially, the rumour may have been fuelled by the fierce competition between the superpowers and an effort to demean the tremendous achievement. But later on, the conspiracy theory caught on and reached every corner of the Earth. NASA and other scientific bodies have categorically and repeatedly refuted the conspiracy claim by proper explanations and information.

But, the question remained. Why did space agencies lose interest in Moon? The conspiracy theorists had a field day. But truly speaking, the scientific community was continuously gaining more knowledge about our cosmic neighbour through a stream of space crafts which mostly circled the moon, but some of them landed and sent back data and even in one case some samples as well.

In the past, our interest in space and the moon in particular was driven primarily by scientific curiosity and an interest in trying to understand the past, present and future of the moon. Numerous missions helped the scientists to gather a volume of data about its surface composition, environment and other physical parameters. It slowly dawned onto the global space community that huge deposits of minerals andthepresence of water ice can open up enormous possibilities for the future. The Voyages of Discovery gave way to Voyages of Profit!

The hint of the presence of water ice at the permanently shadowed polar regions and discoveries of hydroxyl ion on the surface material, called regolith, fuelled the imagination and aspirations of the scientific community to create a base on the moon as a precursor of starting off a human colony in the future. It was considered profitable to extract the mineral and other chemical deposits. Especially, two factors galvanized the dream of further manned moon missions. One definitely was the presence of water, albeit in solid form. Water separated into hydrogen and oxygen can be tremendously helpful for any space activities and further colonization of the Moon. The oxygen can be used to create an artificial bio-sphere to make habitable zones and use hydrogen and oxygen to refuel spacecraft on their return journey to Earth. In this context, one should note that it was Chandrayaan 1 which for the first time definitively identified hydroxyl ions in the lunar surface by first smashing an impactor in a controlled manner on November 14, 2008, and showing the presence of the molecule in the ejecta of the impact. It also showed through a specific instrument called Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), fabricated in collaboration with NASA and Brown University, the presence of about 600 million tonnes of water ice in the polar region of the moon. These discoveries generated enthusiasm in scientists to explore the Moon in a much intensive way.

The second important aspect of further moon explorations and human presence is the existence of a magic element called Helium-3. A school of scientists believe that the atomic structure of helium-3 promises to make it possible to use it as fuel for nuclear fusion, the process that powers the sun, to generate vast amounts of electrical power without creating the troublesome radioactive by-products produced in conventional nuclear reactors. In calculations they have shown that only a few tonnes of Helium 3 can generate enough power for a big country for a year, thereby reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation. But the process is questionable and difficult. Yet, scientists are quite interested to try out the option, and the moon can provide a reservoir of this magical element that is scarcely found on Earth.

Moon can also play another important role in space exploration. Because of lesser gravity than Earth (1/6) rocket lunches can be easier and less fuel consuming. Moon can be used as an interplanetary rocket launching base.

To date more than 100 missions have been sent towards the moon, only half of them achieved success, some partially though. But if one gets into the statistics, till date, 38 orbiters, 21 landers and 11 rovers have successfully operated and fulfilled their moon missions. At present 3 landers and 2 rovers are present on the moon and 4 orbiters are operational and sending huge amounts of data to the Earth.

Staring from the success of Chandrayaan 1 in 2008, India and ISRO have started an exhaustive programme of the further moon and even planetary missions. Chandrayaan 2 launched in 2019 was the next step. Though a large number of people felt disheartened when the communication with the Lander named Vikram along with the Rover, named Pragyan was lost just 2.1 km above the lunar surface during their controlled descent, to the scientific community Chandrayaan, 2 is mostly successful, since it is orbiting the moon as planned and sending back valuable data for better understanding of the moon, paving the way for future human travel and habitation. Chandrayaan 3 is being planned for a launch in possible 2022 or 2023. The pandemic situation has made it difficult to maintain the schedule earlier planned. ISRO in collaboration with the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA is also planning for the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission sometime in late 2024. ISRO will be fabricating the Lander module whereas, JAXA will provide the orbiter and the rover.

A number of Missions to the moon are being planned. The USA is planning for a manned mission in 2025. Russia, China & Japan have shown interest in human travel to the Moon sometime in the 2030s. So, the future is exciting. The Cold war accelerated Voyages of Discovery to the Moon and the new possible Hot War being anticipated by some may dictate heightened activity for reaching out to the Moon again, this time for benefit of the human society. Though the agreement was drafted and implemented by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in 1984, stating that the Agreement provides that the Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind and that an international regime should be established to govern the exploitation of such resources when such exploitation is about to become feasible, it is to be seen how different countries interpret them. Whether the tensions generated at the South China Seas gets replicated in future at the various seas(plain lands) on the moon named as Tranquility, Serenity, Fertility or Crises. 52 years back when Apollo 11 astronauts left the moon and returned to Earth, left a plaque on the moon with the message, We came in Peace for All Mankind. Whether the present human civilization still respects the sentiments in todays world is to be seen.

(Dr. Debiprosad Duari is the Director of Research & Academic at M. P. Birla Planetarium, Kolkata, West Bengal. Views expressed in this article are personal and may not reflect the views of Outlook Magazine.)

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Billionaires to the moon – The Standard

Posted: at 12:53 am

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson wears his astronaut's wings after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity to the edge of space. [Courtesy]

For decades; invention, innovation and technological advancement have been largely tied to State machinery.

In many cases, all the three dimensions have thrived under intelligence and warfare conditions as governments multiply budgets for military and defence ministries adopting the latest technologies.

Throughout history, innovations including ICT technologies have thrived alongside global situations and world wars.

Space exploration and development has over the ages not only thrived amidst conflict but has been tied to the hip with warfare and warfare like conditions.

One, however, has to go back more than 30 years ago to appreciate this dimension of space exploration and interest.

Cold war

To date, space exploration has hit heights albeit with international hostilities, fear, intimidation and even paranoia.

For instance, as per reports, when the former Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States differed on policy in the aftermath of the 1947 Second World War, this set the then president for suspicion, competition and in some instances proxy wars as was the case in Cuba and Vietnam.

Spaceflight capability was also at the centre of this tension which virtually split up the world in two.

In bare-knuckle fashion, both the United States and the USSR battled each other for supremacy high above the rest of us to end with remarkable fetes in space exploration and the accompanying technologies.

The Soviets took a clear head start in the race putting out the first satellite and the first human in outer space with the first satellites including probes to the moon and Venus.

Soviets Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human on a space flight in 1961, this fete would however be eclipsed in July of 1969 when the Apollo 11 mission landed the first humans on the lunar surface.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on the bus on the way to the launch of Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. [Reuters]

Deemed as the single event designating the winner of the space race, the landing of man on the moon brought space exploration to the fore while astronauts like Neil Armstrong became household names as the fight captivated masses in both rival camps.

Earlier on in 1958, US President Dwight Eisenhower signed a public order creating the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), a key federal agency dedicated to space exploration to this very day.

In 1991, the USSR crumbled to pieces in an internal disintegration, effectively bringing to an end the more than three decades space race and the birth of a softer Russian Federation.

The same moment marked the end of the hay days for space exploration as rivalry turned to collaboration - including the joint development of the International Space Station (ISS).

Years later, space exploration has slowly waned into the background with the US government for instance slashing spending to programs alongside aerospace accidents with catastrophic outcomes and the retirement of the maverick space shuttle.

The slow degeneration of space exploration, however, seems to have reached its ends as the industry sees new impetus.

Billionaire's patch

The new era of space exploration is not characterized by sovereigns and taxpayer-backed funding as the private sector now seeks a piece of the action.

Aerospace manufacturer SpaceX has been one such revelation and its goal revolve around the colonization of Mars in the near term and cost-effectiveness in the development of space technologies.

Founded in 2002 by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX is already the front runner in space exploration by private entities beating its closest rivals by miles in the marathon to outer space.

SpaceX has been the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.

In the most recent, the company has both sent craft and astronauts to the ISS. By going to Mars, Musk says it shall be the furthest that life has travelled.

In March last year, Musk and company market the first crewed launch from the US in more than nine years.

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II in Hawthorne, California, U.S., August 27, 2017. [Reuters]

Today, SpaceX has a 29 billion dollars contract with NASA to develop the first commercial lender which will put the next American astronauts on the moon, including the first woman.

The flight path for SpaceX has, however, experienced turbulence with both the company and Elon Musk going through tough times.

Between 2006 and 2008 for instance, the company marked three failures at rocket launch which put pressure on the company plans.

Musk was forced to split $30 million between SpaceX and his automobile company Tesla before subsequent successful missions and eventual deals from NASA.

More billionaires

Earlier this month, British billionaire Richard Branson became the first person in history to successfully test his spacecraft as he flew close to the end of space.

This coming in just under a fortnight to another billionaires maiden space flight. Unlike SpaceX, Branson and his space exploration company Virgin Galactic have an eye on space tourism with Bransons experience being taunted at the private astronaut experience.

Branson targets to create the first commercial spaceline sub-orbital flights with the flights commencing in 2022.

A ticket for the experience will start from $250,000 or Ksh.27 million in local terms. Just like Musk, Branson has had his moments of adversary including the death of three contractors killed during a test in 2007 and the death of a pilot in 2014 when a Galactic craft broke into parts mid-flight.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos is set to fly out to the edge of space before the end of July on his most secret project Blue Origin.

The company targets passenger flights to space with Bezos being on the inaugural flight. Bezos has mostly funded the project out of pocket to this point.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. [Reuters]

Private money including the three billionaires and more is now set to take centre stage in the exploration of space and will likely determine the pace and efficiency of space exploration.

While many argue space exploration is the burning of stacks of cash that would otherwise be used in resolving earthly; challenges, humans ventures into space will remain a key pillar.

From the feasibility of a second home for man and new commercial opportunities, humankind have more to reap from space than is comprehendible by most.

Already, developments in space satellites have improved the quality of life on earth including the ability to pre-empt weather patterns and high-speed internet connectivity and communication.

If anything, humans are now universal beings with the cosmos being out there for us to reap and conquer.

The near future looks worrying, with everyone going through a global pandemic recession but the new digital technologies and space travel innovations remain an interesting commercial opportunity both for the public and private sectors.

-Chris Diaz, Business leader and Trustee Brand Africa

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Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about Richard Branson – The Manila Times

Posted: at 12:53 am

ON Sunday, July 11, Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin commercial empire, took a ride on a suborbital spaceplane built by one of his companies, Virgin Galactic. The global news media, using completely inappropriate superlatives such as "historic" and "record-breaking" has subsequently spent every day since cramming the story down everyone's throats, and I suspect most people are tired of it. I know I am.

Nevertheless, Richard Branson and his little "spaceship" are an interesting case study in why the world probably deserves an extinction-level meteor impact, and so, the topic is worth a little more examination.

First, the particulars of the flight itself. The vehicle, known as "SpaceShipTwo," with Branson, three other Virgin Galactic employees and two pilots aboard, was lifted to an altitude of about 46,000 feet above its base in New Mexico by a carrier plane dubbed "White Knight Two." The spaceplane then detached and fired its single-rocket motor for 70 seconds to accelerate upward, then coasted to its peak altitude of about 282,700 feet (roughly 53 miles or 86 kilometers) a few minutes later. The plane then descended, taking about 25 minutes to glide to a landing back at its base, which is grandiosely named "Spaceport America."

The flight was only the fourth powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo; an earlier version, SpaceShipOne, successfully flew three times before suffering a mechanical failure and crashing during its fourth flight in 2014. Branson's expressed goal for his program, which has been in development for about 17 years, is to be able to enter the "space tourism" business or, in other words, provide recreational flights for paying passengers who wish to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see some nice views of the Earth from extremely high altitude.

First of all, there was nothing at all "historic" or "record-breaking" about the flight. Although the Virgin system surely represents a great deal of refinement in the technology, the basic system of launching a rocket-powered plane from a carrier aircraft has existed since the end of World War 2. The concept of "space tourism" is nothing new as well; the first "space tourist" spent a week on the International Space Station in 2001, and there have been others since (at prices of upward of $20 million for the privilege).

And unlike Branson, those forerunners can actually claim to have been to space, whereas the limit of his achievement was to have been "really high up." Although the relatively modest altitude achieved by SpaceShipTwo has sparked something of a debate about where "space" really starts, there is actually a reliable definition: it is called the Karman Line, and it is at an altitude of 100 km or 62 miles; in other words, about 17 kilometers higher than Branson and his fellow passengers traveled. To put it in a more familiar perspective, that would be like traveling from Caloocan to Manila and then going home and telling everyone you visited Las Pias.

Granted, the Karman Line is an arbitrary boundary. What is considered "the edge of space" in a scientific sense may be much higher or somewhat lower, depending on who you ask. There is a specific reason, however, why the 100-km altitude is a valid benchmark. According to the internationally-recognized legal definition of space, based on the principle that space cannot be claimed as territory, the Karman Line marks the ceiling of any country's airspace. Get above that line and you're in space; below it and you're in the territory of whatever country is below you. Thus, Richard Branson didn't go to space; he just went to a really remote part of New Mexico.

Why, then, if Richard's Big Adventure was so unimpressive, have we been compelled to hear so much about it? It is because for his entire career, Richard Branson has been a master of image cultivation and marketing. By crafting a persona of the hip, rebel adventurer - in short, an annoying wanker - he has managed to fool the entire world into assuming he has done innovative things and made billions in the process.

Compared to his contemporaries like Jeff Bezos, who is scheduled to ride his own rocket next week, or Elon Musk, whose SpaceX company has built a fleet of space trucks, Branson is contributing almost nothing to the overall human march to the stars, except for what amounts to a very expensive amusement park ride (tickets for a Virgin Galactic flight will start at something north of $250,000). Bezos and Musk are every bit as annoying as Richard Branson if not more so, but both of their space ventures are long-term programs with real practical aims toward offering broader commercial opportunities in space, space exploration, and even colonization of the Moon and Mars. Naturally, they will make a great deal of money from pursuing those aims, but they are at least potentially contributing to the greater good.

Richard Branson, on the other hand, gets all the rest of us to contribute to Richard Branson, on the basis of his being Richard Branson. As one glaring example, he was able to prevail upon the government of New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the US, to pony up some $220 million in state taxpayer money to build his "Spaceport America," and then let it sit idle for 10 years before finally moving Virgin Galactic's operations there.

It is somewhat impressive that he has been able to make his vacuous, personality-worship business model work to his advantage, but rather than praising him for it, we should blame ourselves for letting him do it at the rest of the world's expense.


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Raise your hand if you're tired of hearing about Richard Branson - The Manila Times

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Floods in Germany are the latest wake-up call in the climate crisis – Massive Science

Posted: at 12:53 am

In 2019, 44 percent of older Americans reported playing video games at least once a month. Part of this trend is seen in the rising popularity of game-like brain training programs such as Lumosity (which alone boasts over 75 million users), which promise improvements in memory, attention, and decision-making skills. But are these claims backed up by research?

One early study found effects of working memory training on intelligence, sparking a field of research focused on potential training benefits. After initial promising results, subsequent studies failed to replicate these findings. Often studies find some evidence of near transfer, or a training boost to specific skills, but fail to see far transfer, or benefits to general cognitive performance.

A 2021 study set out to determine the effectiveness of brain training programs in over 8,000 online participants, including 1,000 people who reported being active users of a brain training program. If these programs are as effective as they claim, then these active users should outperform the other participants on tests of memory, verbal ability, and reasoning skills. The participants came from a variety of countries, education levels, genders, and ages, a major strength of this study. The self-reported brain trainers actively used at least one program, and had used programs for anywhere between two weeks and five years.

The researchers found no evidence of an effect of brain training. Active brain trainers did not perform better on any cognitive measure than people who do not use these programs. Furthermore, no effect was found for any demographic group, such as age, education or socioeconomic status, or specific brain training program, further bolstering the conclusion that these programs are not effective.

The researchers found one significant result: people who believed that brain training was effective, regardless of whether they actually used them or not, counterintuitively performed worse on cognitive tests compared to people who didnt believe these programs are effective. Whether or not people believe these games work, they seem to have little benefit to general cognitive function. Play games for enjoyment, not with any expectation of a major cognitive boost.

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Floods in Germany are the latest wake-up call in the climate crisis - Massive Science

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