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How Biden Could Prove His Administration Isn't Just Obama 2.0

Slate

So far, the members of Joe Biden's foreign policy team are all veterans of Barack Obama's administration. They've pledged to revive Obama-era initiatives like the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement that Donald Trump tried to undo, as well as recommit to long-term U.S. alliances. Some U.S. foreign policy critics from the left and the libertarian right are less than fully enthusiastic about this team. They don't particularly relish a return to the approach that led to the intervention in Libya, a ramped-up drone war, and a troop surge in Afghanistan, and are concerned that all the talk of "America is back" broadly suggests an embrace of the interventionist worldview that predated Trump. Progressive concerns about the more hawkish views of Michèle Flournoy (Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna is one representative example), who was thought to be a shoo-in for secretary of defense, are reportedly one reason why that position has not yet been announced.


The 7 Most Promising Government Led AI Solutions

#artificialintelligence

As the 21st century rages on, success and failure of nations depends not only on their citizenry and governmental leadership, but heavily on the technological visions that countries embrace. If a nation takes the approach of sitting back or standing still as automation and Artificial Intelligence advance at ever increasing rates, that nation is destined to be left behind. However, if a country embraces AI and dedicates significant resources and top minds to ethical implementation, that country is destined to be a leader for decades to come. Recently Steve Mills, Chief AI Ethics Officer & Leader for Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector, and Partner at Boston Consulting Group said quite eloquently "AI has become table stages for global national economic and technological competitiveness. This goes beyond nations capturing a piece of the large and rapidly growing AI market. AI is poised to transform nearly every industry. There is an imperative for nations to position themselves to integrate AI into these sectors. Particularly those sectors that are economically important to them. Failing to do so could erode their competitive position, creating opportunities for other, more technologically advanced nations to fill the void. This is not just a matter of missed upside potential from the new AI market. It's also about downside risk for every other sector that is economically important to a nation."


Lawmakers Aim to Prevent Trump From Bypassing Ban on Armed Drone Sales

NYT > Middle East

The move set off a wave of criticism from many Democratic and some Republican lawmakers, who said the decision undermined the pact. By ignoring a part of the agreement it finds inconvenient, they say, the Trump administration is encouraging other nations to do the same. And the sale of advanced armed drones could lead to the proliferation of the technology across the globe. The lawmakers are especially concerned about sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have used American-made weapons to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians, many of them children, dead. "If we allow Trump to start selling drones, we set a dangerous precedent that allows and encourages other countries to sell missile technology and advanced drones to our adversaries," Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Wednesday.


US senators want to block drone sales to Saudis

Al Jazeera

Republican and Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would block international sales of United States-made drones to countries that are not close US allies, mentioning Saudi Arabia in particular. Reuters broke the news in June that President Donald Trump's administration planned to reinterpret the Missile Technology Control Regime, a Cold War arms agreement between 35 nations, with the goal of allowing US defence contractors to sell more drones to an array of nations. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Chris Coons, and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, introduced the measure. It would amend the Arms Export Control Act to prohibit the export, transfer or trade of many advanced drones except to countries that are NATO members and to Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and Israel, they said in a news release. US lawmakers have tried before to rein in Trump administration plans for arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use in the war in Yemen.


Pompeo rejects claim of Soleimani diplomatic mission as 'propaganda'

FOX News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scoffed Tuesday at a suggestion that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission to Baghdad when a U.S. drone strike killed him, insisting that the story is "fundamentally false" and "propaganda." "Anybody here believe that?" Pompeo asked reporters when the claim was brought up during a Tuesday press briefing. "We know that wasn't true." The notion that Soleimani was on some sort of peace mission was first floated by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who reportedly said at a Sunday session he was scheduled to meet with Soleimani and discuss a message from Saudi Arabia regarding possible agreements in the region. Pompeo addressed the claim that Soleimani was supposed to work on a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia, stating that he spoke to Saudi officials about this.


Uber chief tries to backpedal after calling Khashoggi murder 'a mistake'

The Guardian

Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of Uber, has attempted to limit the damage after calling the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi "a mistake" similar to a fatal accident that occurred during tests of his company's self-driving car. Khashoggi, a Saudi national resident in the US, and a severe critic of the Saudi regime who wrote for the Washington Post, was murdered in Istanbul last year after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate there. His body was dismembered and disposed of. His death has been described by Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, as a "deliberate, premeditated execution" that warrants further investigation into the responsibility of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The prince is a key US ally close to Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and chief adviser.


US Air Force deploying drone killer overseas for testing just weeks after Saudi Oil strike

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A massive $16.28 million microwave weapon system designed to'disrupt' and'damage' drones is set to be tested overseas for operational evaluations. Called PHASER, this military owned devices uses electromagnetic pulse to take down swarms of enemy drones. The news of the high-powered device's deployment comes just weeks after a fleet of 10 drones attacked a refinery and oil field in Saudi Arabia. The weapon is mounted on a 20-ft. The device's parameters can be set to'disrupt' or'damage'.


This Week in Business: No More E-Cigarettes at Walmart, and an Attack on the World's Oil Supply

NYT > Economy

Who knew the humble tailpipe could cause so much political rancor? Find out why, below, along with more business and tech news that you should know heading into the week. See, Monday doesn't need to be so bad. When President Trump decided a year ago to roll back Obama-era rules for car pollution, California shrugged, ignored him and kept its stricter regulations. Thirteen other states then followed its lead.


Ilhan Omar rips Trump's 'locked and loaded' tweet, blames president for escalation with Iran

FOX News

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faces condemnation over her'some people did something' comments; reaction from Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer, former White House contributor. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, blasted President Trump over his handling of Iran and suggested that his administration is to blame over the increased tensions between the two nations. Over the weekend, Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed they launched drone attacks on the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field Saturday, sparking huge fires and halting about half of the supplies from the world's largest exporter of oil. The attacks marked the latest of many drone assaults on the Kingdom's oil infrastructure in recent weeks, but easily the most damaging. They raised concerns about the global oil supply and could further escalate tensions across the Persian Gulf amid a growing crisis between the U.S. and Iran over the troubled nuclear deal.


'Locked and loaded': Military options on table in response to Saudi oil attack as Trump seeks to avoid war

FOX News

As the plumes of smoke settle over two of Saudi Arabia's critical oil production facilities – which came under crippling drone strikes over the weekend – both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are deliberating options for retaliation, raising the possibility of much broader instability across the region, although President Trump was quick to point out Monday, "I don't want war with anybody." Intelligence officials from both countries have been quick to point fingers at Iran as the orchestrators of the attack, which analysts have deemed as one of the most disruptive in history. "This is perhaps one of the greatest examples of kinetic economic warfare we have seen in recent times. Iran is suffering from our sanctions but does not want to escalate into an active war with us," Andrew Lewis, a former Defense Department staffer and the president of a private intelligence firm, the Ulysses Group, told Fox News. "They can do a lot to manipulate the world economy, which will have a negative impact on the U.S. and our allies in Europe."