Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

How many people live in shantytowns?

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Even in the West, inequality and poverty are on the rise. Poverty has, in fact, reached the levels of 1933. Devote 4 minutes to watching Thomas Pogge, professor of Yale University, talking about the current international system that allows a large part of the world’s population to live in abject poverty:  

The great recession pushed millions of people into poverty, or worse, extreme poverty. Add to that the fact that people all over the world are moving into urban areas to seek their fortune and we have a danger of slums increasing tremendously. 

How do we keep them safe in urban areas?

There hence is a huge need to reduce vulnerability in urban settings. Half the world’s people now live in cities, a share that will rise to 70 percent by 2050.  

So what are we going to do to give more people in the world a decent life? If we don’t do anything the amount of people living in shantytowns will rise, everywhere. Or call them homeless, if you wish. 

Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz believes we are paying a high prize for inequality

Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz believes we are paying a high prize for inequality

Extreme poverty leads to crime – or worse

Countries with a lot of poverty easily gets trapped in crime or worse, become failed states. And I don’t need to tell you how easily failed states can follow in the steps of Afghanistan and Somalia, do I? Iraq and Syria are in the pipeline. So it’s in the interest of all of us to start eradicating poverty in the world. 

And let’s not forget poverty in the developed world

Frankly find it unbelievable that child poverty is on the increase even in a country like Sweden. And so is poverty in all age groups, for that matter. And the same applies to Europe as a whole and the United States Isn’t it, like Thomas Pogge put it, a crime against humanity? 

Do we really want a world where poverty is increasing and the middle classes are in decline? Just look at what has happened the last few decades in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Russia.

Negative for much of the world’s population

One hundred faculty members at University of Chicago wrote a letter of protest when university president Robert ZImmer announced the creation of a $200m Milton Friedman Institute stating that “The effects of the neoliberal global order … strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive. Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world’s population.” Since the time when Reagan was president the Chicago boys have dominated not only Washington but the world, not least through the IMF. So isn’t it time to stop implementing policies that favour multinational companies at the expense of the majority of people?

Do you agree with Pogge that many of the people who support the current international system are like passive Germans during the Nazi era? Do we really want the world’s middle classes and poor to be worse off? Is it really a good idea to have more people across the globe living in shantytowns? Or being homeless? What’s your opinion? Is it time to put market fundamentalism aside and start stimulating economies in order to grow again and give more people a decent life? Or are you of the opinion that Friedman’s version of corporate capitalism is the way forward?

(Video: carnegiecouncil – You Tube, Picture: GovernmentZA )

Are you joining the “Made for China” trend?

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

An increasing number of Western brands are launching new products, or even brands, catering to consumers in emerging markets.

Are you developing products catering to the needs and likes of well to do Chinese customers?

That’s where the money is right now, and Western brands are still favored over local ones.The combination of perceived quality with a bit of local tailoring, love or exclusivity is hence an intelligent way of finding new customers.

Products tailored to their needs and wants

Like all consumers, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, Russian and Middle Eastern consumers are keen on products tailored to their needs, wants and desires, either for practical reasons or simply because of cultural pride.

Affluent Chinese prefer foreign brands

This phenomenon is spawned by the fact that economic and consumption power is shifting towards emerging markets. And considering that, according to McKinsey, affluent Chinese consumers prefer foreign brands to Chinese ones it’s clear that it’s worth while for Western companies to focus on Chinese customers. Add to that the fact that China’s retail sales may outstrip those of the United States already in 2016 and it makes even more sense to cater to the new Chinese middle class.

Shift to emerging markets

China’s wealthy shrugged off the recession. Actually only 8% of them changed their luxury shopping behavior in 2009 (46% of Americans and 51% of Europeans, however did) . Forty four percent of China’s wealthy instead increased their spending during the global downturn.

Global growth moving to BRIC

About 80% of global growth is likely to take place in emerging markets. The figure could go even higher if India were to facilitate imports of luxury goods. Not to mention if commodity prices go even higher which will increase wealth in Russia. So there is a need for Western companies to create both uniqueness and make consumers in emerging markets feel they belong. For companies who manage to do so, the new rich in BRICs offer a world of opportunity.

Some Made for China products

Trendwatching, one of the world’s leading trend firms have singled out some products created by Western companies for Chinese customers. Levi’s dENIZEN, a new jeans brand for Asian/Chinese customers with slimmer fits. For wealthy customers in Shanghai Dior offer very expensive Shanghai Blue Phones. Shang Xia is Hermés’ Chinese brand of ready-to-wear and decorative arts inspired by Chinese culture. When Cloé celebrated five years in China they created a limited edition of Marchi handbags to mark the occasion. The limited edition of BMW’s orange metallic M3 Tiger was very popular in China. Not least since it was released to coincide with the Chinese year of the Tiger.

Apple “Designed in California, Made for China”

In Apple’s Shanghai store staff started wearing red t-shirts with that slogan in Mandarin. A play on the words on the back of all iPhones “Designed by Apple in California, assembled in China”. And the Chinese loved it.

Introducing cheaper brands in China

Honda (Li Nian), Nissan (Venucia) and GM (Baojun) are creating and introducing less expensive cars for China since many customers in emerging markets still have less to spend than their counterparts in the West.

So have you jumped on the Made for China bandwagon yet? Or are you aiming for the Indian, Russian, Brazilian or Middle Eastern markets instead – or – as well? If so, what markets have been most successful for you? What new products have proved to be hits in the different countries? If not, can you really afford to ignore the new emerging middle classes?

(Photo: PhotoXpress – chinatiger)

How politicians are branded & promoted

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Mitt Romney’s campaign wanted the stage for the Republican convention to convey warmth and openness, just like Oprah. Add to that endorsements from a devoted wife, a former Secretary of State and a Hollywood star and his likeability was improved. Watch this really short New York Times video on how it was done:

Does Mitt Romney stand for empathy? And is he the devoted family man his 63 year old wife Ann fondly talks about? Impossible to know for the majority of voters. But that’s what the design studio that also creates sleek sets for Oprah Winfrey succeeded in conveying.

Slick packaging is what it’s all about

Kissing and hugging husband and wife and eye candy the audience can consume. Romney’s advisers carefully scripted and staged the set and program for the Republican National Convention with the aim of accomplishing what a year of campaigning has failed to do and make Mitt Romney appear like God’s gift to America. Even to the extent of embracing his Mormon faith.

According to a Reuters poll taken after the convention his likeability increased, at least temporarily, among US voters. But do this kind of slickness really make the majority of people vote for a candidate? According to the poll so far it has not. Do videos of him playing with his five sons make him the perfect president of the United States? Another odd aspect was that  as a rule people are supportive of members of their family battling diseases. If Mitt Romney had not been he would be an exception to the rule. But considering that US voters did not like him conveying such messages do make sense.

Why Condi?

Associations are part of the branding. Romney hence keeps on mentioning Ronald Reagan to be associated with the still hugely popular former president. George W. Bush however, is rarely mentioned and when he is it’s in relation to tax cuts.

Endorsements are a part of promoting a candidate. But I am not sure why Condoleeza Rice was the only Bush administration official that talked at the convention? Presumably because of all Romney’s foreign policy missteps? But having Cory give a speech is still odd considering that she and Romney have completely different ideas regarding many aspects of foreign policy.

Saying the right things is also important. “A free world is a more peaceful world,” Romney argued at the convention, and added, “This is the bipartisan foreign-policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again.” Interesting considering that Truman is the only president ever to have used the atomic bomb. Besides I am not sure what those words really mean? But maybe it doesn’t matter since the audience cheered loudly.

Sold just like candy

All politicians world-wide are branded and promoted like a new hair gel or Hollywood star. Romney is just a recent example of the huge amount of money and effort being used to get a politician elected. It goes on all over the world but in the US it’s a bit more showbiz and slick than elsewhere. It’s not a coincidence that Clint Eastwood was a guest star.

Maybe Samuel Popkin, political scientist and author of “The Candidate: What it Takes to Win – and Hold – The White House”, is right when he says that Americans don’t need to love Romney, only be comfortable with him and believe he knows what he is doing.

Will the convention go down in history as the moment Mitt Romney started his march to The White House? A multitude of opinions have been voiced. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, we will find out. If Mitt Romney’s image makers succeed in making people not only like him more but vote for him, he may become the next president of The United States.

Does this kind of branding and promotion really lay out the arguments for why Barack Obama has failed and why Mitt Romney would do better?  Or is it over the top to have Condoleeza Rice state that Romney/Ryan is the answer to  America’s problems? Not least since she and Romney have different stands when it comes to controversial issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Doesn’t it matter that Romney, long after the end of the cold war, still regards Russia as the biggest geopolitical problem facing the US? Do we really want our politicians to be branded and promoted like talk show hosts? Isn’t it dangerous to concentrate on superficial issues instead of what really matters to America and the world? 

Video: The New York Times – You Tube

Will US companies have problems doing business in Russia?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Russia joins the WTO in August and is primed for growth. But U.S. companies may find it difficult to benefit because of a Cold War- era law restricting American companies from doing business in the U.S.S.R. It looks like the repeal of it will be passed by the Senate in august. But if it contains a reference to the Magnitsky bill US companies may still face difficulties in Russia. Devote 3 minutes to watching Chrystia Freeland talk to Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa about Russia joining the WTO: 

As you know, Russia is one of the BRIC countries and the rest of the world is eagerly hoping to benefit from more trade with Russia as soon as it’s WTO membership starts this August .

Russian intelligence establishment still have cold war mentality? 

But even when the US cold war legislation is removed, cold war mentality may still remain an obstacle on the Russian side.

If it’s true that the Siloviki i.e. heads of Russia’s elite security and intelligence establishment, including Vladimir Putin, still remain in the cold war and the Kremlin dictated anti-Americanism continue, maybe the cold war isn’t over? On top of it businessmen are going to jail on a regular basis on charges that have frequently been unjust. The last ten years 3 million, yes you got it right, entrepreneurs have been jailed.

As a WTO member, Moscow will be required to cut import tariffs and open up key sectors of its economy to foreign investment. It took 18 years of negotiations and Moscow will now be required to cut import tariffs and open up key sectors of its economy to foreign investment. But many Russians are afraid their country will not be able to compete in the world economy.

It’s believed US exports to Russia could double as a result of WTO entry. Germany is one of Russia’s top trading partners and their ministry of economy estimates that German businesses doing business with Russia could earn an extra billion euros a year.

Jackson-Vanik repeal with or without reference to the Magnitsky bill?

It hence comes as no surprise that the US Senate Committee of Finance  approved a bill combining a repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and a measure aiming to punish Russian officials involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Can’t help wondering how that’s going to go down with the Silovikis? That the White House is pushing for Jackson-Vanik repeal without reference to the Magnitsky bill doesn’t surprise me at all.  The latter seems to be a better bet of avoiding US companies going down the same route as BP in Russia. Would like to point out that what happened to Magnitsky was terrible but is tying the Magnitsky bill to the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment not asking for trouble for US companies in Russia?

Do you believe the Russian Siloviki still have cold war mentality and the Kremlin dictate anti-Americanism? If so is the cold war really over? Is the Cold War-era law restricting American companies from doing business in the U.S.S.R. lamentable or a blessing in disguise for US businesses? Does it benefit companies from other countries?  Are you of the opinion that the Jackson-Vanik repeal should be made with or without reference to the Magnitsky bill? Should the United States and the rest of the world be cautious about doing business in Russia? 

Video: ReutersTV

Move over James Bond – here comes Flame!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Innovation is the name of the game and applies not only to businesses but espionage as well. Gone are the days when 007 was sent to sort out Blofeld. Bond is about to be made redundant and most of his work will be done online. Devote 2 minutes to watching  a cyber security expert explain the workings of espionage program Flame that is targeting governments and businesses in the Middle East:

Iran and Israel/Palestine have been the main targets which have made experts all over the world believe that America and/or Israel is behind it.

The New York Times have looked into Struxnet and Olympic Games (the code name given to it already by the Bush White House) for 18 months. According to their article, Struxnet suddenly started spreading into computers outside the Iranian nuclear plant and the Americans believed the Israelis had done something to enable that. Maybe that was the beginning of Flame? If so, it wouldn't surprise me if the hackers that work for Israel's Unit 8200, that I wrote about in  Cyber Warfare – Hackers to the rescue, were behind it. Maybe it's time to make "hacker" a profession and enable more of them to use their skills in positive ways to protect governments and businesses against this kind of attacks, instead of in destructive ways?

Imagine a virus that can delay exports

Flame not only steals information but is also said to have disrupted oil exports by shutting down Iranian oil terminals. But then again,  Struxnet destroyed some of Iran's nuclear centrifuges. 

What nation state is behind it?

security official in China was arrested this year for spying for the US. Maybe he handed over the information needed to get Flame into Chinese networks and places of interest?

Can't help wondering if some other nation could be behind Flame? The Chinese government is actually known for their cyber activities and so is Russia and Iran. But according to the above mentioned article in The New York Times, the era of viruses such as Flame started when George W. Bush was president. Having falsely accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction he had no credibility for, again, accusing a country of nuclear ambitions. And the Iranians knew it. So when Bush was presented with the opinion of cyber warfare he found the sophisticated cyber weapon too good to resist. Obama followed suit and in fact speeded up cyber attacks against the Iranians. 

Just read an article in in Foreign Policy Magazine asking if there are US special ops inside North Korea. Maybe to find the information needed to get Flame into places of interest in Pyongyang? If so, in the future Flame and its successors may take care of espionage in North Korea as well. The new cyber spy tool sounds to me not only to be up to the task but able to penetrate where ops cannot thread. 

The beginning of a new era

Seems to me that using viruses like Flame is the way of the future for espionage. Catch is, all nations will follow suit, if they haven't already. And that includes Iran and North Korea. In fact, how long will it take before Iran pays the US and Israel back for Struxnet?  It's essential for all countries in the world to boost their ability to withstand such attacks. And the same applies to businesses who may otherwise have their secrets stolen and their markets taken away. 

Do you believe viruses such as Flame is the way of the future? Should all countries and businesses increase their ability to withstand such attacks?Are the US and/or Israel behind Flame? Will the number of James Bonds in the world be gradually reduced? Catch is the Blofelds of this world neither are, not will be, in decline. Should hacking be made a profession in order to benefit from their skills? Is privacy gradually becoming a thing of the past? Will we all have to get used to a world where everything is seen and heard? If so, will the 007s or Blofelds be the winners? Or maybe the Bond Girls? If so, hopefully the good flames that end up with Bond in the end. The current Flame beats most honey traps, after all.

Video: ReutersTV -YouTube

Do you agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ideas about future global leadership?

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

America’s global supremacy is over, according to Brzesinski but he adds that the US still has an extremely important twin role to play. Watch him tell Chrystia Freeland why Vladimir Putin’s election will reverse political evolution in Russia and how the US should handle Syria:

Few individuals have had as much influence as Brzezinski when it comes to shaping US global policy and hence the world today. Since Jimmy Carter was president the ideas outlined in his book “The Grand Chessboard” have been like a bible for US administrations.

One nation can no longer dominate the world 

The days when one nation, or even one region could dominate the world the way Rome did 2,000 years ago, the Ottoman empire 500 years ago or the British empire a century ago, are, according to long-time national security expert Zbigniew Brzezinski, over. It’s simply no longer possible.  

Americans have to get used to sharing power

“The world is now much more diversified”, he says. “There is a new east in Asia and a global population that is awakened politically”. “America have to get used to the new world, in which their relative influence may decline”

He firmly believes a strong West is needed as a counterbalance to rising developing nations. The US should, in his opinion act as “promoter and guarantor of a greater and broader West”.

Enlarge the sphere of capitalist democratic nations

America should, according to Brezezinski, take a lead in enlarging the sphere of capitalist, democratic nations in North America and Europe by integrating Turkey and Russia. 

Avoid conflicts with China and Iran

Brezezinski believes it is crucial that America understands that it needs to avoid conflicts with China. “We have to accept their economic and political rise and that there is nothing the US can do to stop it”.

US role in Asia is, in his opinion, as a “balancer and conciliator between major powers in Asia”. America should learn from Britain in the 19th century when it stood aloof from conflicts in Europe and just tried to mediate. Instead of entering into a formal alliance against any major power in Asia i.e. China, Japan, India and South Korea, the US aim should be to mitigate conflict and promote cooperation and conciliation.

Western military action against Iran would in his opinion be seen as external intrusion and a cause for war in the Middle East and should hence be avoided.

Do you agree with Brzezinski that America will no longer be the one and only super power? Should the US take a lead in developing a greater and broader West by integrating Russia and Turkey? Should America mediate between Asian powers and avoid military action against Iran? Should the US listen to Turkey and Saudi Arabia when it comes to handling Syria? Or maybe you are of the opinion that he is wrong and America will remain the one and only super power? 

Video: ReutersTV – You Tube

Cyber war more likely than nuclear conflict?

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

The prospect of war with Iran is headline news. But how prepared are we for cyber threats? Or worse, the prospect of cyber space turning into a nuke? Devote four minutes to listen to what a high level delegation from Europol, Israel, NATO, the EU and US has to say on cyber security:

According to a new report on cybersecurity by Security & Defence Agenda, a think tank in Brussels, Sweden, Finland and Israel are best prepared for cyber attacks. Better even than the United States, Germany and Britain, which is alarming since the latter three are more likely to be targeted than Sweden and Finland. India, Brazil and Mexico on the other hand, rank near the bottom. 

More than half the respondents believe a cyber arms race is already going on and 36% are of the opinion that cybersecurity is more important than missile defence. Nearly half said that it's as important as border securiry.

Global agreement to share information recommended

Governments and private sector companies need to cooperate better on sharing information about possible threats. The public also needs to be educated and more attention being given to secure smart phones and cloud computing.

China lagging behind

Considering how active China is reputed to be in cyber warfare, it's surprising that the report finds that they are no better equipped to defend themselves than countries like Poland and Austria. Makes you wonder if the talk about China's super elite Cyber army is exaggerated? If not, why don't they make sure they are better protected against attacks? Provided, of course that the report has the right information. 

Apparently the West is so far scrambling to bolster its capabilities as I wrote about in Cyber Warfare – hackers to the rescue? six months ago. Hackers are both a concern and possible assett when it comes to defense in cyber space. A few days ago Anonymous released a recording between the FBI and UK police discussing efforts against hackers. Once again, can't avoid thinking that it would be much better if the members of Anonymous and other such groups could give governments a helping hand. Let's face it they exist and could use their skills in beneficial ways.

US warns against Iran, China and Russia

On January 31st James Clapper, US intelligence officer told the senate that Iran is accelerating its activity in cyber space and warned that China and Russia have aggressive capabilities. Iran, Russia and China on the other hand accuse the United States of being the main agressor in cyber space. 

What's your opinion? Do you agree that an arms race is already going on in cyber space? Are Iran, China and Russia as active as we are led to believe by US intelligence and the news? Did you know that 1,000 attacks a minute take place world-wide? Is a full scale online war more likely than a nuclear conflict? Is enough being done to protect us against attacks in cyber space? What more could be done? Will it actually go as far as an online war? If so, will it paralyze the world and who will be the winner?

Video: InfoSecDefAgenda

Do you agree with Merkel that it will take years to solve the Euro crisis?

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to implement “a Fiscal Union with strict rules” to address the root causes of the widening financial crisis in Europe. Devote 3 minutes to learn more about her views on sorting out the problems in the Eurozone:

It will, according to her, take years to sort out the problems but  EU treaty changes are  needed to introduce greater European powers. She dismissed criticism that Germany wants to dominate Europe as misleading.

Merkel told the Bundestag that the creation of Eurobonds will not contribute to overcoming the crisis and warned that saving the Euro will take years and that Europeans face a marathon to restore lost credibility.

Flawed from the beginning

Many of us knew that the Euro mechanism was flawed from the beginning and it’s now obvious just how flawed it is. How can you have one central bank for economies as diverse as Greece and Germany? A currency without a “state” unfortunately complicates the concept of a single currency. Even Jaques Delors now admits it was “a fault in execution”. That Europe face an economic downturn is now not just a maybe but a definite. Just a quesion of for how long and which is the best way forward to make Europe grow again.

Some experts believe austerity is the wrong way to solve the crisis and instead advocate increased spending. Or maybe Russia joining the Euro? Vladimir Putin expressed an interest of joining a year ago and adding a well performing economy like Russia would make economic sense. But unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.  Maybe Russia will join in the future?

There is also speculation that  Euro member states with healthy economies will leave the single currency. Many believe Finland could be the first one to opt out.

Do you agree with Angela Merkel that it will take years to sort out the Eurozone’s troubles? Are her views on how to work out the problems with the single currency correct? Or do you believe that increased spending would be a better, and faster, way forward? Or maybe Russia joining would do the trick? Is the Euro actually worth saving? Maybe it would be better to dissolve it and face the hardship it entails now, instead of in the future? Will countries with well performing economies leave the Euro? If so, do you believe Finland will be the first one out? Do you believe the Euro will survive long term or will member states go back to their old currencies again?

video: RussiaToday

Cyber Warfare – Hackers to the rescue?

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

In the future, a US president could consider economic sanctions, cyber-retaliation or a military strike if key US computer systems are attacked, officials said in the wake of recent attacks on the defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Britain, China, Cyber Command, cyber warfare, defence unit 8200, France, Google, hackers, Iran, Israel, Lockheed Martin, Lulz Security, North Korea, Pentagon, Russia, Sony, Struxnet, The Center for a New American Society, The Wall Street Journal, United States

The world should follow Israel’s example and offer hackers the choice of going to prison or work for the state. It’s actually an excellent way of making use of hacker’s talents instead of them being used destructively, or worse for criminal purpose.

The Pentagon is busy drawing up a cyber defense strategy to protect America from cyber attacks from foreign nations.

Leaders in cyber warfare

The Center for a New American Society published a study claiming the United States, Britain, France, Israel, Russia and China as the leaders in cyber-war. They also believe Moscow and Beijing view cyber-attacks as an attractive option in the event of a major conflict.

Alarming isn’t it? Obviously cyber warfare is a horrendous prospect that we would all like to avoid. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair. Or maybe it’s no worse than military action? Catch is it can also be carried out by any criminal organisation wanting to say black mail a government to release one of their own from prison. Or hold a corporation at ransom.

Growing concern about the reach of hackers

Internet-based attacks on critical systems such as gas, power and water have increased around the world.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon strategy will classify major cyber-attacks as acts of war i.e. paving the way for military retaliation. It’s intended as a warning to foes that may try to sabotage the US electricity grid, subways or pipelines, officials said.

“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” a military official told the Wall Street Journal.

Considering that China and Russia are, rightly or wrongly, considered the most likely sources of such attacks I really don’t see how the United States could take military action? Unless of course they intend to start World War III?

Governments and companies open to attacks

Sony was for the third time since April this year attacked by a group of hackers calling themselves Lulz Security. According to those hackers it was child’s play to get access to Sony’s information since it wasn’t even encrypted. And China recently, again, according to Google, hacked them from a Chinese military cyber warfare unit, to get access to US and Asian senior officials’ gmail accounts.

From what I understand most information online is easy for hackers to access which is a terrifying prospect. It actually seems that most companies have only bothered to really protect credit card details, if that. No wonder it’s easy for criminals to steal identities.

Israel knows the name of the game!

Obviously drastic measures are needed to prevent cyber wars and handle attacks if and when they happen. And unfortunately sometimes go on the offensive as well.

The most intelligent solution I have come across is the way Israel is handling the problem.

Already in the 1990s they decided to conquer cyber warfare and presented Israel’s hackers with a choice of going to prison or work for the state.

That was the start of defence unit 8200 that thousands are said to have joined since. Needless to say this smart move has given Israel an advantage in a world rapidly immersed in cross border technology attacks.

Unit 8200 is a leader in high technology warfare. It’s actually widely believe that’s where the Struxnet worm was created. If so maybe they did the world a favour?

The West scrambling to bolster its capabilities

The US has, for instance, set up Cyber Command to coordinate its ability to withstand an attack. Britain has Cyber Security Operations based at GCHQ, as well as Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office units to guard the national infrastructure.

A new cyber warfare strategy in the US will most likely mean that Nato will have to devise its own rules or response to cyber-attacks. The alliance need to examine whether or not its principle of collective defence will apply to online warfare as well.

Iran, not least because of Struxnet, is also believed to have assembled a cyber warfare crack team. Am sure that not only Iran but North Korea and other such states are at the minimum starting to build up units that can conduct cyber attacks. So it’s high time for the rest of the world to seriously increase online safety. The time when systems for gas, electricity and water didn’t need to be protected are long gone. So the rest of the world needs to wake up and follow in Israel’s footsteps. Better late than never.

Hackers, usually learn their skills engaging in illegal activity as teenagers. However, most of them are not hardened criminals. They really have a lot to offer all countries when it comes to defence against cyber warfare, or going on the offensive against an enemy. In my opinion we should all follow in Israel’s footsteps and offer our hackers a choice of going to jail or work for the state. Do you agree with me or do you have a better idea of how we can defend ourselves against cyber attacks, and hackers in general, for that matter?

photo: José Goulão – Flickr

Russia joining the Euro?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Last week Vladimir Putin said it is “quite possible” that Russia will one day join the eurozone thus creating a currency that would replace the US dollar as the global reserve standard.

Will the Euro survive long enough to make Putin’s dream of being in the driving seat come true?

Speaking at the same event in Germany, Josef Ackermann, CEO of Deutsche Bank, echoed Mr Putin and said he could imagine that happening.

This comes as it’s still unclear if the Euro can even survive the current sovereign debt crisis. “The European debt crisis is far from over and will most likely last for years”, according to David Hensley, of JP Morgan in New York. It’s even a question mark if the Europe can handle bailing out Spain, should that become necessary. Vladimir Putin however, is convinced the Euro will not only stabilise but be strengthened.

Russia joining the Euro is definitely a possibility in the long term. But by that time maybe the world has already been integrated beyond continents with the world being one “country” with one world currency that could for instance be called World? What is today called countries would be regions of the united world.

Mr Putin also stated that for the past decade there has been a reliance on the dollar that needs to be rebalanced for the good of the world economy. Or as he put it: “We should move away from the excessive monopoly of the dollar as the only global reserve currency”.

Sounds like we are still in the cold war, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Putin’s maternal grandfather was one of Stalin’s chefs? If Stalin was the “Red Tsar” maybe Putin hopes to become the “Euro Tsar”?

So is Putin’s dream of joining forces with Europe likely to come true? Presumably with Russia, being by far the largest country, as a driving force? Or is it wishful thinking on Putin’s part? Is he, just like Stalin, making the wrong predictions about world developments? What do you think? Will we see Europe and Russia joining forces or will developments towards a united world happen before that becomes reality?

(Photo: Alexander Plushev – Flickr)

Footnote: More information on the Euro and likely developments in the following of my articles: