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Monday, January 14, 2019

What's going on in the World Today 190114



U.S. Navy to stage Arctic ‘freedom of navigation’ operations

The U.S. Navy is preparing to take a page from its South China Sea strategy with plans to eventually carry out “freedom of navigation” missions through the Arctic as the geopolitical scramble for dominance heats up while long iced-in sea passages thaw.

Although the goal will be to send a clear signal to Russia and China that America is a force to be reckoned with in the race to control valuable territory at the top of the world, Pentagon leaders acknowledge that it could take years, and they stress that Washington has a lot of catching up to do.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said this month that the U.S. is in danger of falling behind, specifically against increasingly provocative moves by the Russian navy, in the scramble for control over what may be the globe’s last major unexploited region.

“We need to have a strategic Arctic port up in Alaska. We need to be doing [freedom of navigation operations] in the northern passage. We need to be monitoring it,” Mr. Spencer told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He noted decades of American submarine activity deep beneath the Arctic surface but lamented a lack of major U.S. Navy ship missions through melting ice passages in recent years.

“Everyone’s up there but us,” he said. “I mean, we’re under the water. … We’ve been under the water since the ‘60s. But peace through presence with a submarine is a little tough...”

Raven Rock with Author Garrett Graff

How did Cold War governments plan to preserve the continuity of power in the face of devastating nuclear war? Lots of planning, countless contingencies and a fair amount of creative problem solving. In this episode of the Stratfor Podcast, Chief Security Officer Fred Burton sits down with author Garrett Graff to discuss his book, Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die.


WASHINGTON — At a staging ground in Ghana, a group of nuclear experts watched the clock and nervously waited for the news.

The team — a mix of American, British, Norwegian and Chinese experts, along with Czech and Russian contractors — were supposed to head into the Kaduna region of Nigeria to remove highly enriched uranium from a research reactor that nonproliferation experts have long warned could be a target for terrorists hoping to get their hands on nuclear material.

But with the team assembled and ready to go on Oct. 20, 2018, the mission was suddenly paused, with the regional governor declaring a curfew after regional violence left dozens dead. As American diplomats raced to ensure the carefully calibrated window of opportunity didn’t shut, the inspectors were unsure if the situation would be safe enough to complete the mission.

“Frankly speaking, yeah, I was nervous for my people on the ground and everyone else who was on the ground. It was important, but we had to go at it in a prudent way” said Peter Hanlon, assistant deputy administrator for material management and minimization, an office within the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. “As someone responsible for this organization, I was nervous.”

Moving the nuclear material out of Nigeria has been a long-sought goal for the United States and nonproliferation advocates. But the goal has taken on increased importance in recent years with the rise of militant groups in the region, particularly Boko Haram, a group the Pentagon calls a major terrorist concern in the region...


US sails warship past contested islands in South China Sea, ahead of G20 summit

Washington (CNN) — The US Navy sailed the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville near contested islands in the South China Sea Monday, less than a week before US and Chinese leaders are due to meet for a high-stakes summit at the G20 in Argentina, two US officials told CNN.

The "USS Chancellorsville sailed near the Paracel islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," US Navy Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for US Pacific Fleet, told CNN in a statement.

The US warship conducted what is referred to as a "Freedom of Navigation Operation" in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands to challenge claims made by China, Christensen added....

Japan Accelerates Its Defense Buildup

Tokyo will begin to alter the security equation in the Western Pacific in the not-too-distant future.

Long pacifist, Japan has decided to accelerate its military spending and effectively begin to gear up. It should hardly come as a surprise. Though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long sought to shift Japan from pacifism to what he calls a “normal country,” North Korea’s missiles and China’s aggressiveness in the Pacific would have left Tokyo little choice anyway. Spending has stepped up dramatically, as has planning. The nature of the buildup responds to other pressures from its great ally, the United States, which wants Japan to buy more U.S. equipment, as well as from the demographic and technological imperatives facing that nation...

...Though clever accounting allows wiggle room, this rule nonetheless imposes a severe constraint especially next to China and the United States, each of which spend more than 3.0 percent of their much larger GDPs on defense. Because the constitution stresses defense exclusively, it naturally questions any preparation to project power, not the least the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) intention to construct two aircraft carriers and possibly base Japanese ground forces outside the country. The constitution also forbids Japan entering any mutual defense pact. Despite Japan’s long-term alliance with the United States, it cannot go to America’s aid if, for instance, a U.S. base in Asia was attacked. Prime Minister Abe has strived to change the constitution and has won concessions, but it remains a constraint.

The MoD budget requests for 2019 nonetheless make clear the new military emphasis. According to documents published in September, the MoD is asking for ¥5.3 trillion ($48 billion) in overall defense outlays, which is 7.2 percent above the 2018 budgeted amount. A jump like that would be noteworthy in any country, but especially so in Japan, where heretofore defense spending grows by fractions of a percent per year. Five-year plans would sustain this heightened level of spending. Still more interesting is the proposed allocation of these funds. Here, each point reflects the various pressures on Japan.

North Korea’s presence is probably most evident. The budget document emphasizes on “deterrence,” which no doubt lies behind the decision to upgrade the electronic warfare capability of Japan’s existing F-15 fighter jets and purchase six F-35A fighters from Lockheed Martin. New plans call for purchases of 147 of these new fighters over the next few years, well above the original plan to buy forty-two of them. U.S. pressure is also clearly evident in this decision, as it will preclude purchase of the domestically developed F-2 fighter. In the words of one Japanese security analyst, Masahiro Matsumura, Japan’s “defense industry is being sacrificed for the political goal of maintaining good Japan-U.S. relations.” Less controversial but also clearly aimed at the North Korean threat, the budget calls for Japan to upgrade its airborne early warning capability and spend nearly ¥300 billion ($2.7 billion) to deploy two land-based Aegis missile defense systems (“Aegis Ashore”) and other U.S. manufactured missile interceptors.

Measures to counter China, at sea mostly, make a longer list. Of course, the F-15 upgrades and the new F-35s constitute something of an answer to China. More pointed are MoD plans to procure RQ-40 Global Hawk long distance drones, fund research to develop a long-distance undersea unmanned surveillance device, and otherwise enhance naval heft by procuring more anti-air missile and anti-torpedo ammunition as well as more standoff missiles. Plans also call for the construction of a new submarine, aimed, in the words of MoD budget documents, at “detections, etc.” (The etcetera no doubt refers to offensive capabilities that might raise constitutional questions.) Japan also has plans to construct two new multipurpose, compact destroyers that can also sweep mines. They will bring the fleet escort force to a total of fifty-four vessels—a considerable upgrade from the past...


EU Looks to Reduce Exposure to Chinese 5G Risk: Report

The European Union is hoping to lead a more coordinated response to security concerns over Chinese 5G equipment makers, it has emerged.

Brussels wants to ensure it doesn’t end up with a situation where member states have unwittingly allowed Chinese kit to dominate across the region, according to the FT.

One unnamed diplomat told the paper that with although 5G auctions can raise billions for governments, the EU is "urging everyone to avoid making any hasty moves they might regret later.”

“It’s quite a serious strategic problem for the EU and we haven’t properly mapped the exposure,” they added. “The problem is every country is interested in the 5G auction because it’s a massive payday. Once these auctions have happened you need to avoid a situation where you end up with the entire continent being with one [equipment] provider....”

Manchester Victoria station stabbings 'a terrorist investigation'

The stabbing of three people - including a police officer - in Manchester is being treated as a terrorist investigation, police say. A man, aged 25, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after the attack on New Year's Eve at the city's Victoria railway station. Two knives were recovered at the scene and a property is being searched in the Cheetham Hill area…. Earlier, officers raided a newly built semi-detached house.... a Somali family lived at the address, a mother and father of five, in their 40s, who came to live in the street about 12 years ago from the Netherlands.


Mexican mayor gunned down after being sworn in
The governor of Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca is condemning the slaying of a local mayor shortly after he took office…. The state prosecutor's office said in a statement that Aparicio had just been sworn in and was headed to a meeting at city hall when an unknown number of gunmen opened fire at him. He was taken to a hospital, but died there later.

Colombia coca production: US 'deeply concerned' by rise
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is "deeply concerned" about the increased production of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, in Colombia. At a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque, Mr Pompeo said the two countries would try to reduce coca production by 50% by 2023. …the amount of agricultural land used for coca crops in Colombia had hit record levels. The country has fought for years to tackle cocaine production, with the US providing about $400m (£318m) annually to help combat the producers and traffickers


Taliban Tunnel Bomb Hits Afghan Army Base

Taliban insurgents have detonated a powerful bomb near a major military base in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, killing at least five soldiers and wounding six others. The attack happened Tuesday night in the volatile Maiwand district, where Taliban rebels dug a two-kilometer tunnel into the Afghan National Army base and planted the explosives…


In China, an Unprecedented Demographic Problem Takes Shape

- On Jan. 4, 2019, Chinese state-affiliated think tank China Academy of Social Science released new reports indicating that China will experience negative population growth starting as soon as 2030. The reports anticipate that China's population will hit a peak of 1.44 billion in 2029, then steadily decline and reach its 1996 levels of 1.25 billion by 2065.

- In light of this news, Stratfor is revisiting one of our foundational analyses from 2013, in which forecast China's impending demographic crisis and outline the contributing factors. In recent years, the Chinese government has gradually relaxed aspects of its one-child policy in an attempt to combat slowing population growth, but so far, progress in that area has trailed far behind the rate of decline in population growth.

Chinese society is on the verge of a structural transformation even more profound than the long and painful project of economic rebalancing, which the Communist Party is anxiously beginning to undertake. China's population is aging more rapidly than it is getting rich, giving rise to a great demographic imbalance with important implications for the Party's efforts to transform the Chinese economy and preserve its own power in the coming decade...

With an eye to power and profit, Beijing is building influence in the Arctic

(CNN)In its quest to become a global superpower, China has regularly become entangled in territorial disputes with its neighbors, butting up against international law.

But there's one region on its radar with fewer rivals and where the rules are still being decided: the polar Arctic.

China sees an opportunity in the Arctic's expansive sea of melting ice. Beijing has begun pushing for a greater stake in the region with a view to opening new trade routes, exploring for oil and gas and conducting research on climate change, experts say.

Geographically, China is nowhere near the Arctic Circle, which puts the Asian powerhouse at a major political disadvantage compared to eight countries that make up the Arctic Council, all of whom have territory inside the Arctic Circle.

Council members are divided on China's growing interest in the region. Some smaller economies like Iceland and Norway see an opportunity, others with a strategic interest like Russia and Canada are growing wary.
China isn't the only non-Arctic state interested in the region but it is by far the biggest, China and polar region expert Marc Lanteigne of Massey University in New Zealand told CNN..


The World's Oil Producers Prepare for a New Era of Low Prices

- The oil market is likely to remain oversupplied in 2019, leading OPEC and non-OPEC countries to cut production to prevent another collapse in prices similar to 2014-15.

- Prices are likely to remain weaker than what many of major producers anticipated just three months ago.

- Venezuela will find itself in a most difficult spot because lower revenue will drive competition among the country's political elites, exacerbating its political crisis.

- For the United States, the domestic impacts will be both positive and negative, but Washington may now have the freedom to lean heavily on Iran's oil customers and force them to reduce those imports even further.

- Saudi Arabia will encounter difficulties because it must use state-led development — financed through oil revenue — to achieve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious reforms.

Heading into 2019, oil producers are getting the feeling that they've seen this market before. That suspicion was reinforced last month when the price of global benchmark Brent crude briefly fell below $50 for the first time since June 2017. In addition, for the second time in five years, declining oil prices have forced global oil producers to stabilize the market by cutting production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd). And for the second time in those five years, producers will have to deal with the consequences of low prices, even if the pain might not be as bad this time around...

...Iran's Worst Nightmare

Perhaps no country will feel the pinch from lower prices as much as Iran. The country's oil exports had already fallen by about 1 million bpd due to the U.S. decision to reintroduce sanctions after pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal, but the low prices will only exacerbate the situation for the Islamic republic. The Trump administration granted 180-day waivers to eight countries to let them continue importing Iranian oil in part because of the October 2018 spike in oil prices. But if the market remains oversupplied by the time the waivers come up for renewal in May, Washington will have more room to press Tehran's customers to further reduce — or eliminate — those imports. For Iran, the prospect that it will lose most of its buyers is even more worrying than the decline in the price of oil itself, given that the knock-on economic effects are causing serious political repercussions at home.

Perhaps no country will feel the pinch from lower oil prices as much as Iran.

On Dec. 25, 2018, President Hassan Rouhani presented the country's 2019-20 budget, which envisions about 1 million to 1.5 million bpd of oil exports, as well as a price of $50 to $54 per barrel. But even if Iran attains that level of exports, it will suffer an economic recession due to the precipitous drop in oil exports and the increased cost of imports due to the rial's steep decline, as well as U.S. efforts to limit the country's access to hard currency. Politically, this will continue to weaken Rouhani to the benefit of Iran's conservatives and hard-liners, although the Islamic republic will, for the time being, achieve the bare minimum — avoiding an economic collapse...

Nuclear chief says Iran exploring new uranium enrichment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The head of Iran’s nuclear program said Sunday that the Islamic Republic has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern process for 20-percent uranium enrichment for its 50-year-old research reactor in Tehran, signaling new danger for the nuclear deal.

Restarting enrichment at that level would mean Iran had withdrawn the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump already pulled America out of in May.

However, Ali Akbar Salehi’s comments to state television appeared aimed at telling the world Iran would slowly restart its program. If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz.

“Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying.

Salehi said adding the “modern fuel” will increase efficiency in Tehran research reactor that consumes 20-percent enriched fuel.

“We are at the verge” of being ready, he said, without elaborating.

In June, Iran informed the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers. Iran continues to comply with the terms of the deal, according to the U.N., despite the American pullout...

PERSONAL NOTE: Likely a coordinated effort between the US and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi's will take the short term pain of lower oil prices to keep Tehran on it's heels, and out of the kingdom's domain.

Iran: Council Approves Anti-Money Laundering Legislation

What Happened: Iran's powerful Expediency Council approved an anti-money laundering bill on Jan. 5, Reuters reported, citing the official Iranian state news agency, IRNA.

Why It Matters: To facilitate foreign trade, increase foreign investment and ease some of the economic pressure from U.S. sanctions, Iran needs to comply with standards set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization that fights money laundering and terrorist financing. The Expediency Council's decision is a step toward reforms that would bring Iran into line with global norms.

Background: The debate over anti-money laundering legislation in Iran has pitted hard-liners against moderates. The Financial Action Task Force meets in February, and has given Iran a last chance to approve anti-money laundering legislation to avoid the reimposition of punitive countermeasures.




U.S.: Government Officials to Urge Watchdog to Examine Israeli Intelligence on Iranian Nuclear Activity

What Happened: Officials from the U.S. State Department will reportedly pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to examine Israeli intelligence regarding Iranian nuclear activity, Axios reported Nov. 26.

Why It Matters: The United States is attempting to reassure Israel of its support as Israel casts doubt on the IAEA's means of investigating Israeli allegations of illicit nuclear activity by Iran.

Background: The IAEA has certified that Iran is almost always in full compliance with the strictures of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Israel has claimed that Iran is concealing some of its nuclear research and has been imploring the United States to support these allegations.

Israel destroys 'Hezbollah cross-border tunnel'

Israel says it has destroyed tunnels crossing into its territory after claims of discovering five of them this month…. Israel announced the discovery of the tunnels … earlier in December. It said Hezbollah planned to use these tunnels in the event of a war to conduct attacks in Israel. The Israelis have not specified the number of tunnels destroyed so far. The Lebanese armed group has not commented on the discovery. On December 17, the United Nations's Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said the tunnels violated a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2006 war.


North Korea, South Korea: World Will Not Lift Sanctions for Cross-Border Rail Link, U.S. Official Says

What Happened: U.S. State Department acting deputy assistant secretary Marc Knapper has said the international community will not lift sanctions on North Korea to allow for rail linkages between North Korea and South Korea, Yonhap reported Nov. 28. A South Korean official has said the country is planning to hold a groundbreaking ceremony before the end of the year on the rail connection in spite of potential headwinds.

Why It Matters: The progress of ties between Pyongyang and Seoul will hinge on U.S. consent toward lifting sanctions. Recent U.S. comments, however, seem to indicate that the rail linkage might be in jeopardy.

Background: Knapper's statement came shortly after North Korea and South Korea agreed to begin a joint study on Nov. 30 to relink rail lines across the border. The decision proceeded following a U.N. Security Council decision to create a sanctions exemption to allow for the delivery of materials for the survey.

SEOUL, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The United States is seeking to shorten the duration of the defense cost-sharing deal with South Korea from current five years to one year as President Donald Trump pushes U.S. allies to pay more for shared defense spending, South Korean media reported.

The U.S. and South Korea recently held a meeting to renegotiate the ROK-US Special Measure Agreement, a five-year deal that began in 1991 to share defense spending to maintain some 28,500 troops of U.S. Forces Korea.

At the 10th negotiation, the U.S. suggested that the agreement should be renegotiated every year and South Korea should increase its contribution from $848.8 million to $1.2 billion next year...


Why Ukraine Challenged Russia at the Kerch Strait

The Big Picture

Stratfor has noted that Ukraine-Russia skirmishes like the recent clash at the Kerch Strait would become more likely and that the Sea of Azov remains a flashpoint between the two countries. In addition, Ukraine is emerging as a key battleground between the United States and Russia as part of the wider great power competition.

What Happened
The Russian-Ukrainian dispute over maritime access through the Kerch Strait escalated on Nov. 25 when paramilitary forces from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) disabled, boarded and captured two small Ukrainian naval vessels and a tugboat attempting to pass through the strait. Six of the 24 Ukrainian crew members detained by Russia were injured in the forced boarding. The strait, positioned at the eastern end of Crimea, connects the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. The Ukrainian government in Kiev immediately denounced the Russian actions and accused Moscow of military aggression. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also declared that a state of martial law would begin Nov. 28 and last for 30 days (but could be subsequently extended). Ukraine and Russia requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council...

Ukraine conflict: Russia completes Crimea security fence

Russia has finished building a high-tech security fence along annexed Crimea's border with mainland Ukraine.

The fence, more than 60km (37 miles) long, is topped with barbed wire and has hundreds of sensors.

Russian forces annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 - a move condemned internationally. Crimea has a Russian-speaking majority.

Russia's FSB security agency says the fence is necessary to prevent "infiltration attempts by saboteurs".

An FSB statement, quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, said the fence would also thwart smugglers trading in illegal weapons, drugs, alcohol and other contraband.

The fence spans the neck of land connecting Crimea with Ukraine's Kherson region.

Most of its sensors pick up vibrations from any potential intruders, the FSB said, but some are also radio-location devices. Russia has similar equipment along its northern and eastern borders...

Official: Russian weapon 27 times faster than speed of sound

A Russian Cabinet official says the nation's new strategic weapon can pierce any missile defenses

Russia's new strategic weapon has rendered any missile defenses useless at a small fraction of their cost, officials said Thursday.

The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle flies 27 times faster than the speed of sound, making it impossible to intercept, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told Russian state television.

The new weapon "essentially makes missile defenses useless," he said.

Borisov spoke a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw what he described as the conclusive successful test of the Avangard and hailed it as a reliable guarantee of Russia's security for decades to come.

In Wednesday's test, the weapon was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains. The Kremlin said it successfully hit a practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away...

...He emphasized that unlike previous nuclear warheads fitted to intercontinental ballistic missiles that follow a predictable trajectory allowing it to calculate the spot where they can be intercepted, the Avangard chaotically zigzags on its path to its target, making it impossible to predict the weapon's location...


Facing Sharp Rebuke on Saudi Ties, U.S. Points to Growing Iran Threat

The administration unveiled new evidence that Iran is supplying weapons to militants across the Middle East.

Facing mounting pressure to end all U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war on Iran-backed forces in Yemen, the U.S. government on Thursday attempted a deflection, touting new evidence to argue that Iran is shipping weapons to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan.

In a press conference on Thursday, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran and senior policy advisor to the secretary of state, unveiled what he said are pieces of Iranian weaponry discovered in Yemen and Afghanistan. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley first revealed evidence of Iran’s weapons proliferation in December 2017. But the inventory has expanded, Hook said, reflecting an increase in Iran’s support of the Houthi rebels in Yemen and other militant groups.

“The Iranian threat is growing, and we are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to act,” Hook said. “This is a function of Iran’s relentless commitment to put more weapons into the hands of even more of its proxies regardless of the suffering...”


U.S.: Employees Call on Google to Cancel Dragonfly Project With China

What Happened: A large group of Google employees published an open letter on Medium on Nov. 27 asking for the U.S. tech company to cancel its Dragonfly project with China.

Why It Matters: Corporate activism from its workforce has already caused Google to alter previous decisions. Earlier this year Google announced it would not extend a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense after employees opposed using artificial intelligence in military operations. Google's Dragonfly project has come under criticism for enabling Chinese state surveillance.

Background: Google withdrew its search engine from the Chinese market in 2010 and has been exploring ways to re-enter the lucrative market. Dragonfly is one such plan that would censor searches in China.



The New Face of Terrorism in 2019

Forget the Middle East—it’s time to prepare for attacks from the former Soviet Union. The way Westerners think about Islamist terrorism has grown dangerously outdated. For decades, officials have focused on attacks launched by Middle Easterners. Today, however, the real threat increasingly comes from further east. In the former Soviet states and beyond, militants who once harbored mostly local grievances are turning their attention to the West. They will be the menace to watch in 2019. The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time. Even during the war against the Islamic State, Russian speakers from former Soviet countries were already committing many of the major attacks in the West. Those included relatively simple lone-wolf events, such as the 2017 truck strikes on pedestrians in New York and Stockholm—both conducted by Uzbeks—but also more complicated operations, such as the 2016 suicide bombing of Istanbul’s airport—which was allegedly organized by a Russian national—and the 2017 attack on a nightclub in the same city, led by an Uzbek. There are several reasons for the relative increase in anti-Western terrorism coming out of the post-Soviet world. For starters, in recent years Middle Eastern jihadis have been too preoccupied with local conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to head elsewhere. The pull of the Islamic State, meanwhile, has faded after its almost total defeat in Iraq and Syria.

Up to the Last Drop: The Secret Water War in Europe


US Petroleum Employee Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets for Chinese Firm

Longtime US resident allegedly stole information for petroleum firm in China that had offered him a position.
A Chinese national was arrested in the US last week for allegedly stealing intellectual property from a US petroleum company where he was employed. Hongjin Tan, 35, is charged with pilfering some $1 billion in trade secrets on behalf of a Chinese petroleum firm where he was offered a new job.

The stolen data was for the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," according to a US Department of Justice criminal complaint filed in the case. According to the complaint, Tan downloaded hundreds of data files from the US petroleum company in the alleged theft.

"The theft of intellectual property harms American companies and American workers. As our recent cases show, all too often these thefts involve the Chinese government or Chinese companies. The Department recently launched an initiative to protect our economy from such illegal practices emanating from China, and we continue to make this a top priority," said US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in a statement.

US government officials last week also indicted two members of a Chinese nation-state hacking team known as APT10....

Up to the Last Drop: The Secret Water War in Europe

In 2010, water was officially recognised as a universal human right by the United Nations. However, the European Union has yet to do the same. The management of water has long been in the hands of private companies, but resistance to this profit-driven model has increased in Europe since 2000. Activists against water privatisation in Greece, Portugal and Ireland say that the EU applies pressure to privatise water services using the economic crisis as a pretext for the creation of a water market in Europe. In many cases, the decision to close the book on water privatisation is the response to the failure of private operators to put the needs of communities before profit.

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