Covert action and national security

first_imgIvan Cholakov/iStockBy MICK MULROYThis paper explains covert action, the need for it to be more thoroughly integrated into the U.S. National Security Strategy, and advocates for it to be fully resourced.Covert Action and the CIACovert action is a tool U.S. policymakers employ to meet U.S. national security objectives. Title 50 of the United States Code defines covert action as an activity or activities to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly. Covert actions are the most highly classified, politically sensitive, and some of the most dangerous activities our nation undertakes. The National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and assigned it the mission of conducting covert action on behalf of the United States, thereby continuing the legacy inherited from its World War II-era predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS was a U.S. military organization but had semi-autonomous status and direct access to the President. Officers of the OSS carried out human intelligence, influence, and paramilitary operations. Paramilitary operations were conducted by the legendary Jedburgh Teams and Operations Groups (small teams built to operate behind enemy lines with little or no support). The paramilitary component of the CIA is the direct descendant of these teams and groups.Nearly four decades after the CIA was established, President Ronald Reagan reinforced its primacy in the covert world with executive order 12333 in 1984 (as did several Intelligence Authorization Act provisions and Section 3093 of Title 50). The US government conducted a study on who was best to conduct covert paramilitary operations and found that the CIA should be the sole government agency conducting covert action, and this was confirmed by the President.Paramilitary and influence operations are the two main components of covert action. These are also referred to as special activities. Covert actions are carried out by many CIA elements with support and direction from the Special Activities Center (SAC). SAC is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and personnel necessary to conduct covert action missions.Covert action is deniable by the U.S. government and, by extension, our partners and allies. Clandestine operations conducted by the CIA and the Department of Defense (DoD) are intended to hide the identity of who performed the activities. But clandestine operations are not legally deniable.Deniability changes political calculations. For the United States, the disclosure of the overt and attributable presence in conflict or denied areas is a sensitive issue. It can negatively impact the pursuit of U.S. national security objectives. The presence of forces operating under the CIA is kept secret by the United States and its partners worldwide.Covert and clandestine operations conducted under Title 50 authorities require small, highly adaptable teams of people rather than large and conspicuous military units.Operating in denied areas with these small teams is inherently risky, but these risks are weighed carefully when covert action authorities are given.The President of the United States writes findings to authorize and direct the CIA to conduct covert action. This fact is often overlooked by CIA detractors, many of whom blame the CIA for policies and activities that they disagree with politically. The President has the authority to start and stop any covert action at any time and is responsible for the policy, just like diplomatic efforts or military operations.Congressional OversightCongress also plays a critical oversight and resourcing role in covert action. Section 3091 of Title 50 requires the President to keep congressional intelligence oversight committees fully and currently informed of intelligence activities, including covert actions. The elected representatives of the American people scrutinize the operations, expenses, and the effectiveness of these programs. This vital function developed over time and is now very much a part of U.S. covert activities. Effective and developed oversight is one reason why covert action remains under the CIA’s purview.Measures of EffectivenessSince the CIA was established in 1947, it has run many publicized, not-so-well publicized, and still secret covert operations. CIA officers undertook the first covert action against North Korea in the Korean War. Over the following decades, the agency conducted covert action in Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and many other parts of the world. While some programs have been very successful and others less so, the CIA, like any professional organization, has shown a commitment to learning from past actions to adapt and improve.The key to successes like these is to develop and assess objective measures of effectiveness (MOE) for each program and adjust them based on the assessment’s findings. This MOE assessment is something that is done regularly during current operations. It is, after all, more important to adjust a program that needs adjustment while it is being executed, rather than wait until completion.The CIA publishes the Case Studies Intelligence as a full review of past operations. These case studies take a detailed look at covert action programs through the lens of history and the benefit of time.  These retrospective views are invaluable to improving capabilities, identifying actions that added to the overall effort and actions that detracted from it. As programs are declassified over time, it is also essential that our actions, be they overt or covert, be published after the declassification period has expired as an added safeguard to ensure that they reflect our society’s values (media stories often portray partner operations conducted in a negative light. More often than not these stories are untrue and would require an entire generation of paramilitary and military personnel to ignore the alleged human rights violations reported. It is difficult to defend unacknowledged programs. History, however, will prove those reports are not true.).Inter-agency Cooperation and SupportThe CIA collaborates with many departments and agencies of the U.S. government in a set of processes and forums typically referred to as the interagency. This includes and most commonly refers to the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and other U.S. Government agencies, as required.The CIA has a strong and close relationship with DoD, and particularly with U.S. Special Operations Command. That close working relationship was essential to many successes after 9/11, including support to Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban; the locating and killing of Osama bin Ladin; the partnership with Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq to defeat the terrorist organization Ansar Al-Islam (precursor to Al-Qaeda in Iraq) and take on and defeat Saddam Hussein’s conventional forces at the beginning of the Iraq War; and the locating and killing of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the former head of the Islamic State, and many more known and unknown examples.Per media reporting, there is an ongoing review of DoD assets that are detailed to the CIA. Although limited by DoD standards, these resources are significant to many ongoing CIA operations in counter-terrorism and other areas. This cooperative effort has had a substantial positive impact on U.S. national security and should continue. If not, the CIA should be increased in personnel and budget to make up for the withdrawal of these assets.The CIA’s covert action infrastructure (CAI) capabilities should also be fully funded to ensure they can execute the mission they are given and do not have to rebuild them in the next crisis.  This Covert Action Fund within the CIA should be sufficient to operate all CAI capabilities within SAC and separate them from the operating budget to perform intelligence collection in the mission centers.  This fund should consider the increased role the CIA will play in counter-terrorism, as DoD shifts to the higher priorities as described in the current National Security Strategy.  CIA covert action will also shift to these higher objectives of great powers competition and rogue state actors.Nation Security StrategyThe 2017 National Security Strategy was an inter-agency product that characterized the world according to revisionist powers. The 2018 National Defense Strategy that came from it placed the global power competitors of China and Russia as the top priorities. The rogue state actors of North Korea and Iran followed by counter-terrorism. These are the correct priorities based on their actual comprehensive threat to the country and the significance they present to the future political, economic, and security well-being of the United States. As a result, all departments and agencies should adjust their efforts and resources to reflect this policy decision.The Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy called for the capabilities that the U.S. developed in irregular warfare during the war on terrorism to be shifted to the higher priorities of the NDS of rogue state actors and great-power competitors. This will, of course, require adjustments as many of those capabilities are direct action and will not be used often in the absence of war against great power competitors, but they may against rogue state actors. More importantly, the adaptation and ingenuity developed over the last couple of decades need to be focused on all our adversaries. This Annex also calls on the entire joint force to be involved in the effort and not just U.S. military special operations.In addition to the Irregular Warfare Annex that focuses on the irregular warfare capability in the DoD, there should be a Covert Action Annex to the National Security Strategy. Too often, covert action has been used to make up for the lack of a coherent national security policy and as a last-ditch effort to do something about a problem that was too difficult for our other pillars of national power to tackle. This is not an effective way to use covert action. The most effective way is to support a comprehensive policy in which each pillar has a defined role in working toward a national objective.ConclusionCovert action is evaluated, assessed for its effectiveness, and overseen by congress. It should be fully funded, allowing all CAI elements to operate separately from foreign intelligence collection and analysis. The United States should also create a stand-alone but fully integrated annex to the National Security Strategy that defines where covert action will contribute.There are many tools U.S. national security policymakers can use to meet their objectives; covert action is only one of them. Although they are often overdramatized in media and entertainment, misrepresented by critics who understand the difficulty in defending actions that cannot be acknowledged, they play an essential role in the nation’s defense.Countless CIA officers have served under great hardship carrying out a covert action; some gave the ultimate sacrifice. Through these times, they have developed expertise that cannot be easily duplicated. Their skills and professionalism should be fully applied to all of the problems facing the United States.Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, a retired Paramilitary Operations Officer in the CIA’s Special Activities Center, and a retired U.S. Marine. He is a Senior Fellow for National Security and Defense Policy with the Middle East Institute, a National Security Analyst for ABC News, and the Lobo Institute’s Co-founder.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Continue reading

Joint statement on BSA CDD requirements for PEPs

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » August has been a busy month for Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) guidance from federal regulators. First, FinCEN issued guidance about customer due diligence (CDD) requirements in the form of three additional frequently asked questions (FAQs). The FAQs clarified FinCEN’s expectations about obtaining customer information, developing a customer risk profile and updating customer information due to monitoring of the customer relationship. Then the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the other federal banking regulators issued a joint statement explaining the types of BSA/AML violations that might result in a cease and desist order. The Federal Deposit Insurance Act and the Federal Credit Union Act both require the issuance of a cease and desist order if a supervised institution fails to implement a BSA/AML compliance program or fails to correct a problem with the institution’s BSA/AML compliance program after a failure is identified in an examination report or some other written document submitted to an institution’s board or management. Shortly thereafter, FinCEN issued a statement describing its enforcement approach to BSA violations. The statement identified six potential outcomes when FinCEN identifies a BSA violation: taking no action, issuing a warning letter, seeking injunctive relief, settlements, civil money penalties and referrals for criminal prosecution. And on August 21, NCUA, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FinCEN and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a joint statement explaining CDD requirements for politically exposed persons (PEPs). Today’s blog will examine the agencies’ guidance regarding CDD for PEPs.CDDThe Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) BSA/AML Examination Manual identifies the implementation of proper CDD policies, procedures and processes as part of the foundation of a strong BSA/AML compliance program. The manual indicates that FinCEN’s BSA regulations require credit unions to establish risk-based CDD procedures that do the following:last_img read more

Continue reading

Mulumbu escapes fine over comments

first_imgYoussouf Mulumbu will not be sanctioned by West Brom after appearing to criticise the club and suggest he was looking to join Arsenal during the January transfer window. Press Association Mulumbu is adamant his quotes have been misinterpreted and he is now “not very happy” about how his answers have been reported by the French journalist concerned. Mulumbu, suspended for Wednesday’s visit to The Hawthorns of Manchester City, added: “I have been here for five years now and would never refer to my team-mates that way. “I just spoke about the fact we need to get better at controlling games after the points we’ve let slip recently. “The general point I was trying to make in the interview is I want to play at the highest level possible. “I admitted there has been interest in me from other clubs during my time here, but I didn’t speak about Arsenal and I also didn’t say I would be looking to move in January. “Not many people had heard of me when I joined West Brom and I have a lot of respect for the club and, of course, the supporters. “We have progressed together over the past five years and West Brom gave me my chance in the Premier League, which I’m grateful for. “I signed a new contract last summer and my only focus is supporting my team-mates tomorrow and then trying to help the club finish as high up the table as possible.” Despite the unnecessary distraction ahead of the clash with City, head coach Steve Clarke is far from concerned. “I’ve read the transcript and there is a lot in it that is quite ambiguous and interpreted in different ways, and some people will interpret it in the way they want,” said Clarke. “I’ve spoken to my player, the club have also spoken to the player, and there’ll be no action. “We’re happy with the explanation we’ve got and the situation as it has transpired. I know it’s a journalist who put in the word Arsenal, not Youssouf.” However, Clarke can appreciate Mulumbu has ambitions and believes the club “can satisfy a lot of those he’s talking about”. Clarke added: “If you’re talking about the Champions League I would be foolish to say we could satisfy his Champions League ambitions, but Europa League? Why not? “It’s something we have to build towards. There are clubs similar to ourselves who have competed in the Europa League. “I’m not saying this year or next year, but sometime in the future why can’t West Brom be a team who can compete for a place in the Europa League?” Of more pressing concern for Clarke is the clash with City, who have proven fragile away from home this season. Despite the team’s star-studded line-up, Clarke maintains there is “no fear” within his squad as the Baggies look to bounce back from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle. “Man City at home have been a different team to Man City away, that’s clear,” said Clarke. “They’ve four points from six away games, which is not title-winning form and is something I’m sure they’ll address in the coming months. “For us, it’s to make sure they don’t address it too quickly.” Mulumbu is joined on the sidelines by winger Scott Sinclair, on-loan from City and unavailable against his parent club, albeit sidelined anyway with a hamstring problem. Goalkeeper Ben Foster is closing in on a return to action after being out since the end of August with a stress fracture to his right foot, but will not be ready to face City. In an interview with France Football, midfielder Mulumbu claimed his Baggies team-mates were unprofessional and immature, adding he had been approached by Arsenal and is “ready to join a top-four club”. That is despite the fact the 26-year-old Congo international only signed a new contract over the summer through to the end of the 2017 season. last_img read more

Continue reading

The Latest: Predators raise $2.7 million for area relief

first_imgUEFA is giving priority to completing national league and cup competitions. One contingency plan is for games to continue into July and August and decide entries for the Champions League and Europa League next season.This season’s Champions League and Europa League could resume once domestic titles are decided.The UEFA executive committee last month postponed the European Championship by one year to 2021. Other games affected include World Cup qualifying groups, the 2021 Nations League finals and the women’s Euro 2021 tournament in England.___The Asian Football Confederation says it has postponed “all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June until further notice.” Associated Press MLS currently has a training moratorium for players through April 24.___The NHL will remain on pause through at least the end of the month.The league on Tuesday announced it was extending its self-quarantine recommendation for players, coaches and staff through April 30. The announcement marks the third time the NHL has pushed back its timetable since suspending play on March 12 because of the new coronavirus.The most recent self-quarantine recommendation was supposed to run through Wednesday. The recommendation means team facilities will remain closed to players. ___All-Star Celtics forward Jayson Tatum says he hasn’t touched a basketball since scoring 30 points in a win over the Indiana Pacers on March 10.“I got weights and bands and a bike to do some cardio,” Tatum said Tuesday after informing Emoni Bates he became the first sophomore to win Gatorade’s national player of the year award in basketball. “It’s tough, but on the other side, I know there are more important things going on in the world,” Since the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tatum has tried to make the best of an extended stay at his home in the Boston area.“I’ve been taking time to relax and be at home with my son every day,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am trying to enjoy this time and the things we usually take for granted.” The event was scheduled to take place at Sunningdale from July 23-26.R&A official Johnnie Cole-Hamilton says organizers are looking at alternative options to host the tournament “later in the year if at all possible.”___UEFA says it will host another round of calls next week for European soccer leaders to address the shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.The UEFA executive committee is set to join by video link on April 23. It will follow separate days of calls with UEFA’s 55 member federations and club soccer officials. The Latest: Predators raise $2.7 million for area relief Clubs from the top two divisions were to meet Friday but that has been delayed until April 23.The league had hoped to resume play next month but Germany’s federal political system could allow numerous state and federal officials to obstruct games if they disagree.The league says clubs need extra time to prepare and that any decisions made will be “based on the current political decision-making situation at federal and state level over the coming week.”___The Senior British Open golf tournament has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Players and staff were previously given the opportunity to self-isolate at their offseason homes.There is no timetable of when play might resume and whether the NHL will be able to complete the regular season or start the playoffs, which could stretch into September. There were 189 games remaining when play was suspended.— AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow reporting.___The German soccer league has delayed a meeting of clubs that was expected to set out a timetable for resuming games in empty stadiums. The $1 million event will now be played from Oct. 8-11 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City.___The Tour de France won’t begin as originally planned because French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled all public events with large crowds through mid-July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.Tour organizers say it is now impossible for the three-week race to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.It is unclear if cycling’s biggest event will be scrapped from the race calendar. New plans are likely to be announced before the end of the month following consultations with the governing body of cycling. — AP Sports Writer Larry Lage reporting.___Major League Soccer says its hopes of returning in mid-May are “extremely unlikely.”In a statement Tuesday, the league said guidance from federal and local public health officials is making it unlikely the league will be able to restart in about a month.MLS says the goal remains to play as many games as possible, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to potentially play an entire season even if there are enough dates available. The Predators started raising money after tornadoes hit Nashville and Middle Tennessee in early March. Then the franchise included help for the coronavirus pandemic once the NHL stopped play along with the cancellation of the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament in Nashville.Sean Henry, the Predators’ president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday that commitment to the community is a cornerstone of the franchise and the Predators are trying to help rebuild and provide help for a return to normalcy as quickly and safely as possible.That includes Predators’ owners, players, coaches and management creating a $1 million fund to pay event staff for canceled concerts and postponed NHL games. The Predators also donated $100,000 to the Mayor’s Relief Fund, hosted blood drives and have been delivering meals to Nashville police precincts and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.Predators captain Roman Josi and his wife, Ellie, gave $20,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and another $20,000 to a local homeless ministry.The Predators also gave donors to the team’s foundation a chance to redirect money to tornado and COVID-19 relief with $700,000 in grants being handed out this month. April 14, 2020 Most of the 32 Asian Champions League teams played two group games in February before the coronavirus outbreak caused a shutdown.The AFC says it “will explore all possible options in order to complete” those groups.___The first women’s professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia has found new dates in October.The inaugural Saudi Ladies International on the Ladies European Tour was to be played last month but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Nashville Predators have raised $2.7 million to help both with tornado and COVID-19 relief.last_img read more

Continue reading

NPFL Champions to Earn N40m Prize Money

first_imgNPFL…NPFL…NPFL…Champions of the 2015/16 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season stand to win N40m from the Merit Award of the League Management Company (LMC). Rangers International of Enugu and Rivers United of Port Harcourt are the two clubs in contention for the big prize money from a total of N200m pool set aside by the LMC as reward for final position on the league table at the end of the season on Sunday.Last season, the highest payout from the Merit Award which went to Enyimba International was N30m from a total pool of N150m and this year’s figure of N200m represents an increase of 25 per cent. The Merit Award pool has been witnessing an annual progression from N50m in 2012/13 to N75m in 2013/14 season and now N200m. The top three Clubs on the final table usually received the chunk of the Merit Award which supports the clubs financially in their preparation for the CAF Club competitions the next season.According to figures released by the LMC, the champions would have received a minimum of N90m in all direct payments for the 2016 season including the Basic Award which comprises of pool of funds shared equally amongst all the 20 participating clubs, the Merit Award paid to clubs based on their final position on the table, the Football Development and the Bonus Award which is paid to clubs based on performances including incentives for improving match attendance, away wins/draw, fielding players under the age of 18 years and hosting live broadcast matches.The lowest placed team in the NPFL this season would thus have received up to N55m in direct payments from the LMC from all payment centres.A statement from the LMC explained that “in addition to the direct payments clubs do also benefit from other indirect payments such as free registration of players and officials, free insurance, payment of match officials’ indemnities and hotel accommodation as well as sponsored seminars and other engagements funded by the LMC”.The Flying Antelopes are three points ahead of Rivers United with the Enugu team hosting El-Kanemi Warriors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium now called The Cathedral by Enugu fans needing a point to guarantee the title while Rivers United goes hunting for three points in Uyo against Akwa United. The Port Harcourt side will seek to win big while hoping that Rangers will falter against their visitors.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Continue reading

Real Creatures with Superpowers

first_imgCheck out the capabilities of these amazing little critters.The longest-distance flyer is: a small dragonfly. A chicken may cross the road, but Pantala crosses oceans and continents. That’s what scientists at Rutgers deduce from comparing genes of these relatively small dragonflies. Robert Forman reports:A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world’s most prolific long distance traveler – flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent – according to newly published research.Biologists at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) who led the study – which appears in the journal PLOS ONE – say the evidence is in the genes. They found that populations of this dragonfly, called Pantala flavescens, in locations as far apart as Texas, eastern Canada, Japan, Korea, India, and South America, have genetic profiles so similar that there is only one likely explanation. Apparently – somehow – these insects are traveling distances that are extraordinarily long for their small size, breeding with each other, and creating a common worldwide gene pool that would be impossible if they did not intermingle.Evolutionists are baffled by this, because the dragonfly doesn’t need to do it.Pantala leaves many of its fellow dragonflies even farther behind. The mysteries of evolution are such that while Pantala and its cousin the Green Darner (Anax junius) have developed into world travelers, Ware says that by contrast, other members of the family “don’t ever leave the pond on which they’re born – traveling barely 36 feet away their entire lives.”Vanishing act: There’s a beetle that water skis (pause to think about that). Here’s the clincher: it skis so fast, it appears to vanish. Watch the video clip on New Scientist showing the water lily beetle in slow-motion. It flaps its wings for propulsion, and sets its tiny water-repelling legs down on the water to skitter across the surface super fast. A human skiing at a comparable pace would go 310 mph (500 kph), the article says. This is one of the fastest speeds ever measured for any insect on the water. Their anatomy is “well adapted” for this behavior. Hydrophobic legs and wings with a lot of lift give them an “elegant solution” that is giving engineers ideas for low-flying aircraft or water-surface robots. How did this come about? It is, therefore it evolved, one biologist thinks; the unique anatomical adaptation “suggests that skimming is evolutionarily important,” remarked Jake Socha from Virginia Tech, who had studied flying snakes. He was surprised, though, “that they have something this elegant.”Super night vision goggles: This story from Science Daily makes a nice addition to yesterday’s entry on biomimetics. Superman would be envious of the night vision of moths. Look what a scientist says about their amazing eyes:“Nature has evolved simple yet powerful adaptations, from which we have taken inspiration in order to answer challenges of future technologies,” explained Professor Ravi Silva, Head of the Advanced Technology Institute.“Moths’ eyes have microscopic patterning that allows them to see in the dimmest conditions. These work by channelling light towards the middle of the eye, with the added benefit of eliminating reflections, which would otherwise alert predators of their location. We have used the same technique to make an amazingly thin, efficient, light-absorbent material by patterning graphene in a similar fashion.”There’s more to it than just the anatomy of the eye facets. Current Biology reports that an important part of their visual acuity lies in the software. It lets them achieve what seems physically impossible. In “Neural Summation in the Hawkmoth Visual System Extends the Limits of Vision in Dim Light,” three scientists found that the moth brain can filter out noise and sum up spatial and temporal signals to increase the signal-to-noise ratio, giving them 100 times better visual acuity than achievable by the optics alone.  As a result, they can easily observe motion under starlight conditions. Once again, this gives optical engineers ideas:We show that spatial and temporal summation combine supralinearly to substantially increase contrast sensitivity and visual information rate over four decades of light intensity [i.e., over four orders of magnitude], enabling hawkmoths to see at light levels 100 times dimmer than without summation. Our results reveal how visual motion is calculated neurally in dim light and how spatial and temporal summation improve sensitivity while simultaneously maximizing spatial and temporal resolution, thus extending models of insect motion vision derived predominantly from diurnal flies. Moreover, the summation strategies we have revealed may benefit manmade vision systems optimized for variable light levels.They applied the principles on a very-low-light image of the words “Current Biology” and brought it out of fuzzy noise into clear text.What can you do with a million neurons? A bumblebee brain has been imaged in 3-D by scientists at the University of Guelph. They’re interested in learning how this brain, made up of about 1 million neurons (just “0.00001 per cent of the number found in the human brain”) allows these insects to not only fly accurately, but navigate. Their foraging methods are attracting computer scientists. “We’ve also been looking at how tiny-brained bumblebees find practical solutions to challenging routing problems,” the press release says. “Understanding how comparatively simple brains can find functional solutions to complex problems may be very important in allowing us to develop smarter and simpler ways to do the same.” Their non-destructive 3-D imaging technique should prove useful analyzing other insects’ brains as well.Extra! Extra!While we’re talking superpowers, let’s stray from the insect world and talk about a jellyfish with “amazing superpowers” according to National Geographic. This animal’s capability for regeneration makes it almost immortal. Juli Berwald writes, “The moon jellyfish can age backward, form hordes of clones, and regenerate lost body parts, a new study says.” It’s like those characters in the movies.Emblazoned with a four-leaf clover on its back and lined with a fringe of thin tentacles, the moon jellyfish, Aurelia, is a veritable pantheon of power. It not only regenerates like Deadpool, it ages backward like Benjamin Button and forms hordes of clones like Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man.Because of the stages in its lifecycle from polyp to medusa, it has been compared to the butterfly that undergoes a similar metamorphosis. What’s amazing is that moon jellies can morph back into the polyp stage. Some scientists think that understanding their extreme regenerative powers may provide insight into what causes cancer. There’s clearly a lot to learn from one of the “primitive” species that emerged in the Cambrian Explosion. “Look out, Spider-Man,” Berwald ends.Evolution would predict simple to complex. Creation would predict complexity all the way down, each creature well matched to its habitat and its needs. If the pinnacle of evolution, the human brain, cannot grasp the complexity of the smallest and simplest organisms, then creation is the winner hands down. Get lost, Charlie. (Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Continue reading

Google And SAP: Two Very Different Cloud Strategies

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts Matt Asay While both Google and SAP shared a 1980’s music sensibility at their respective conferences this week – Billy Idol performed at Google I/O and U2’s Bono walked the floor at SAPPHIRE – the two companies see the future of computing very differently. Even when the two companies agree on the importance of cloud computing, their strategies couldn’t be more different.For one thing, SAP’s new cloud isn’t even a cloud. But then, SAP’s Bono wasn’t really Bono, either, but merely an impersonator.Forrester analyst Stefan Ried takes SAP to task for getting cloud wrong in its new HANA Enterprise Cloud:“The Hana Cloud is a very careful move to a new business model. It is not disruptive and will NOT accelerate Hana usage to the many more customers who have been struggling with Hana on-premises because of its licensing. “The announced Hana Enterprise Cloud follows the ‘Bring Your Own License’ paradigm. While this is great for customers that already have a Hana license and would like to relocate it into the cloud, it is useless for customers that might have largely fluctuating data volumes or user numbers and might specifically use a cloud because of its elastic business model.”In other words, it’s not really a cloud. Amazon, more than any other cloud vendor, has insisted that such “clouds” don’t deserve the name, as they fail to live up to the very premise of cloud computing: truly elastic, on-demand software. But while Amazon normally reserves its ire for private cloud vendors, SAP’s HANA Cloud is even less of a cloud because it requires you to bring your own HANA license to the party.Meanwhile, over at Google I/O, Google introduced improves to Google Cloud Platform and made Google Compute Engine available to all. Like Amazon, Google is making a powerful array of infrastructure technologies available on-demand, and totally elastic.Google, like Amazon, realizes that the future of computing is not going to be won by the vendor with the prettiest device or even the best user interface: it will be won by the company with the best cloud services. As Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady pointed out, summarizing Google’s first day announcements:“[Google is clearly telegraphing that] the war for mobile will not be won with devices or operating systems. It will be won instead with services.”SAP must see this, too, but appears hamstrung by its past, in true “Innovator’s Dilemma” fashion. It has so much revenue tied up in legacy deployments of legacy software that even releasing a kind-of, sort-of, not-really cloud offering is the best it can do.This is not to suggest that HANA is bad technology. By most accounts, it’s quite good. But as Ried argues, “The SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud is version 2 of the initial Hana in-memory database, but the cloud offering based on ‘Bring Your Own License’ is more version 0.1 of a cloud business model.”Which is to say, it’s no cloud at all. While this may not seem like a big deal, enterprises are barreling into true clouds for a wide variety of needs, and no longer merely for development and test workloads. If SAP wants to participate in the future of enterprise computing, it should learn from the companies that are inventing that future: Google and Amazon.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Cloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo…center_img Tags:#SAP Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloudlast_img read more

Continue reading

Federal Court Denies Google Request To Dismiss Privacy Lawsuit

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Google#now#privacy Related Posts Google’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the company of violating federal wiretap laws was denied, Reuters reported. Google mistakenly intercepted emails, user names, passwords and user data from Wi-Fi networks between 2008 and 2010 while they were creating the Street View application.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Google’s bid to be exempt from the Wiretap Act, which regulates the collection of content on wire and electronic communications.  Earlier this year, Google settled another Street View privacy case brought by 38 states, and had to pay $7 million in fines and agree to implement internal and external programs to train employees and users on how to maintain privacy.   readwritecenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Continue reading

Taking the train in India is getting smarter — for some commuters

first_imgSurveillance at the Heart of Smart Cities How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic … Donal Power Indian Railways is undertaking a smart city makeover for its stations in 10 cities around the country.As reported by Indian gadget news site BGR, the railroad recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Urban Development. The MOU will see the transformation of stations in 10 cities to further the agenda of the nation’s smart city strategy.India previously announced plans to develop 100 smart cities around the country by 2022. By last month 60 of the cities have been chosen under the ambitious plan that the government hopes will act as a springboard to modernize outdated urban infrastructure across India.Specifically, the new agreement paves the way for redevelopment that enhances passenger amenities, improves station access and optimizes utilization at target railway stations.The stations targeted for smart city redevelopment are: Varnasi, Bhubaneswar, Thane, Puducherry, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kota, Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla in Delhi and Margao in GoaThe project is a joint venture between the Railway Ministry, which will hold primary responsibility, and the Urban Development Ministry.“Railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.How local smart cities are happeningMeanwhile, Urban Development will take the lead in negotiating with various states and city governments in order to integrate the station redevelopment into local smart city strategies.“This convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life,” said Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.He said that the station project could be a good fit for the National Buildings Construction Corporation which has previously self-financed redevelopment initiatives.Prabhu added that other sources of support for the station redevelopment project may come from outside the country. He said such countries as the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, Belgium and South Korea have expressed interest in the project.To drum up further interest, India is planning to host a round table next week where international and domestic bankers will discuss opportunities for financing aspects of the initiative. Tags:#India#infrastructure#IoT#Railroad#Smart Cities center_img For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi… Related Posts last_img read more

Continue reading