The Sea-based X-Band Radar has deployed out of Pearl Harbor after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently said his country was in the “final stages” of test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. Media sources reported that the SBX was being sent about 2,000 miles northwest of Hawaii to watch for a possible North Korean launch in coming months. The Pentagon downplayed the floating radar’s Monday departure.
As The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports, dispatching the “SBX” out to sea sends “a very clear strategic message of deterrence to the ICBM threat of the North Korean leader that has intensified since first announced on Jan. 1,” said Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates a strong U.S. missile defense.
In two separate, and quite striking, interviews with Germany’s Bild (paywall) and London’s Sunday Times (paywall), Donald Trump did what he failed to do in his first US press conference, and covered an extensive amount of policy and strategy, much of which however will likely please neither the pundits, nor the markets.
Among the numerous topics covered in the Bild interview, he called NATO obsolete, predicted that other European Union members would join the U.K. in leaving the bloc and threatened BMW with import duties over a planned plant in Mexico, according to a Sunday interview granted to Germany’s Bild newspaper that will raise concerns in Berlin over trans-Atlantic relations. Furthermore, in his first “exclusive” interview in the UK granted to the Sunday Times, Trump said he will offer Britain a quick and “fair” trade deal with America within weeks of taking office to help make Brexit a “great thing”. Trump revealed that he was inviting Theresa May to visit him “right after” he gets into the White House and wants a trade agreement between the two countries secured “very quickly”.
Trump told the Times that other countries would follow Britain’s lead in leaving the European Union, claiming it had been deeply damaged by the migration crisis. “I think it’s very tough,” he said. “People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity.”
Foreseeing a rapidly approaching age of autonomous artificial intelligence, a European Parliament committee has voted to legally bestow electronic personhood to robots. The status includes a detailed list of rights, responsibilities, regulations, and a “kill switch.”
The committee voted by 17 votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve a draft report written by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, who believes “robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence” will spawn a new industrial revolution. She wants to establish a European Agency to develop rules for how to govern AI behavior. Specifically, Delvaux writes about how increased levels of autonomy in robot entities will make usual manufacturing liability laws insufficient. It will become necessary, the report states, to be able to hold robots and their manufacturers legally responsible for their acts.
Sounding at times like a governmental whisper of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, the report states, “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
The rules will also affect AI developers, who, according to the report, will have to engineer robots in such a way that they can be controlled. This includes a “kill switch,” a mechanism by which rogue robots can be terminated or shut down remotely.
For a brief but tense period, two weeks ago the US found itself without a single aircraft carrier in any area of the globe. The absence of a deployed U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, long seen as a symbol of American power projection, was noteworthy because according to Fox, “it is believed to be the first time since World War II that at least one U.S. aircraft carrier has not been deployed.”
However, things are gradually getting back to normal following the recent deployment of ships and units from the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, which departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment to the western Pacific last week.
Following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s message that preparations for a test-launch of ICBMs were in the ‘final stage’, and president-elect Trump’s response “it won’t happen!” a Foreign Ministry spokesman warned, as cited by KCNA news agency, “the ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK.”
Pyongyang aims to develop a nuclear warhead placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US by the end of 2017 or early 2018, a former N. Korean diplomat told RT.
As 2016 draws to a close, a sense of unease is gripping many commentators as they look ahead. This year brought victories for Brexit and Donald Trump. The outcome of both votes were largely unexpected. What will 2017 bring? The EU is facing three, or even four, elections in major member states. The Netherlands, France, Germany and possibly also Italy will go to the polls. The outcome in all four elections is far from certain at this stage. Indeed, voting behavior seems to have become difficult to predict.
Economic and sociological research points to a number of different factors provoking these recent results. The debate is broadly about whether it is economic issues such as income inequality, cultural issues such as a rejection of equal rights for women, minorities and gay people, or factors relating to citizens’ perceived loss of control over their destiny that has driven people to support populist candidates and causes.
At first sight, the economic factors seem to have played a strong role. The vote for Brexit predominantly came from the countryside, where GDP per capita levels are significantly lower than in the cities. Moreover, income inequality levels are much higher in the United States and the U.K. than in continental Europe. And indeed, one can show that the Brexit vote is significantly affected by regional income inequality though the effect may not be very large.
The second explanation is a rejection of progressive cultural norms. An interesting study by Ingelhart and Norris emphasizes very much this aspect. They offer evidence that the recent protest votes are a cultural backlash against progressive values. And indeed, discourse especially on social media has totally changed. Unfortunately, it seems to have become widely acceptable to talk of white supremacy and engage in racist discourse.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation on December 31 evening, a day after his 50-day deadline for the completion of the demonetisation process draws to a close. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” news agency PTI reported.
However, it was not clear as to whether he would address the nation on Friday or Saturday. In his address, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap post the demonetisation period especially on the steps likely to be taken to ease cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetisation took place.
He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetisation was announced on November 8. The Prime Minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over. On Tuesday, Modi met economists and experts at a meeting in Niti Aayog to discuss the current economic situation
In an unexpected escalation that was not the result of Israel’s angry response to Friday’s UN vote which passed a resolution condemning the country’s settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, and which the US refused to veto, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday called on French Jews to leave their country to protest a Paris-hosted conference planned for next month aimed at restarting Palestine-Israel peace talks, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth has reported.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, the Israeli government has repeatedly stated in recent months that it would not participate in the conference, which is scheduled to be held on Jan. 15 with the participation of representatives from 70 countries. Speaking at a meeting of his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lieberman reportedly said: “Perhaps it’s time to tell the Jews of France, ‘This isn’t your country, this isn’t your land. Leave France and come to Israel’.”
“That’s the only response to this plot,” Lieberman added, in reference to the planned conference.
Yesterday, when the Obama administration refused to veto a UN vote over Isreal settlements, one which provoked Israel to lash out at the Obama administration saying “friends don’t act that way”, but more importantly defied Trump who in a previous tweet urged Obama to veto the resolution, the President-elect had one message, or rather tweet, to the UN:
However, Trump is not the only one to hold a prominent grudge against the international organization, which many have accused of being nothing but an ineffective, if material, waste of taxpayer funds: taking Obama’s threat several steps further, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “burn down” the United Nations headquarters in New York, in response to mounting international criticism over his bloody crackdown on suspected drug dealers.
“You go and file a complaint in the United Nations, I will burn down the United Nations if you want,” Duterte said, quoted by the New York Times. “I will burn it down if I go to America,” he added during a speech at an army base in the country’s southern city of Zamboanga.