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India’s Anti-Satellite Test Wasn’t Really About Satellites

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The modern battlefield has extended to space. Although we’re not conducting laser battles in orbit (yet), satellite systems are regularly used to guide missiles and drones to their destination, facilitate communication between soldiers on the battlefield, and spy on adversaries. Given how critical space assets are for national security, it’s hardly surprising that militaries spend a lot of time developing ways to destroy their enemies’ satellites.

On Wednesday, the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) launched a missile that destroyed one of the country’s own satellites in low Earth orbit. The successful anti-satellite demonstration, dubbed Mission Shakti, was revealed during a live televised address from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claimed that “India has no intention to threaten anyone.”

“The main objective of our space program is ensuring the country’s security, its economic development, and India’s technological progress,” Modi said. “India has always been opposed to the weaponization of space and an arms race in outer space, and this test does not in any way change this position.”

Mission Shakti made India just the fourth country to successfully destroy a satellite in orbit, following the United States, the Soviet Union, and most recently, China. Compared to the international backlash that followed China’s anti-satellite demonstration in 2007, however, the response to India’s test has been relatively subdued.

Daniel Porras, the space security fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, says this is likely because the debris from the Indian anti-satellite test poses less of a hazard to other satellites. “The Chinese demonstration was carried out at 800 kilometers and was widely condemned because of the resulting space debris, which will likely stay in orbit for decades or longer,” says Porras. “India’s demonstration was conducted at 300 kilometers, so the debris will likely be out of orbit in months. For this reason, the reaction has been much less.”

Anti-satellite missiles are generally touted as a deterrence mechanism, rather than a primary attack vector. The idea is basically to send a message to other space-faring nations: ‘If you destroy our space assets, we’ll destroy yours.’ The problem, of course, is that the debris created by a missile ramming into an adversary’s satellite makes operating in space more dangerous for everyone, including the country that launched the missile. In this sense, every successful anti-satellite missile attack is a Pyrrhic victory.

“One thing to keep in mind about knocking out satellites with military weapons is that it creates a debris field that all commercial and military satellites of every country will have to avoid for years to come,” says Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. Things are even worse if an anti-satellite missile is deployed during a conflict with a nuclear armed nation. If that were the case, Kimball says, the anti-satellite missile would be seen as an “extremely provocative step because it could potentially mean that one side is trying to blind the other from detecting a nuclear attack.” This could, in theory, escalate the conflict toward nuclear war.

Yet this is precisely why experts like Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, think that India’s anti-satellite test probably didn’t have much to do with satellites. From India’s perspective, its two greatest military adversaries are Pakistan and China, both of which have nuclear weapons, but only China has a robust military presence in space. Thus, Narang says, India’s anti-satellite test is difficult to make sense of because it is “both more dependent on satellites than Pakistan and it’s also less capable in a relative sense than China.”

“If Pakistan starts hitting Indian satellites, India can knock out Pakistan’s very few satellites,” says Narang. “China can knock out all of India’s satellites whereas India cannot do the same to China. So it’s kind of a weird balance for India if it’s interested in getting into the anti-satellite deterrence game [because] it doesn’t really have an advantage in either of its dyads.”

For this reason, Narang says that the anti-satellite test was more a demonstration of India’s ballistic missile defense system, rather than its ability to challenge its adversaries in space. Although the DRDO didn’t explicitly name the type of missile used in the anti-satellite test, Narang said it was likely a modified version of the Prithvi missile, which India has been developing for more than a decade as a way to intercept incoming ballistic missiles from its adversaries.

Even as a demonstration of the country’s ballistic missile defense system, however, Narang says the significance of India’s achievement was way overhyped by Modi. Blowing up a satellite is much easier than intercepting a ballistic missile, which India successfully demonstrated in 2011, especially at such a low altitude. Most medium and long-range ballistic missiles reach apogees well above 300 kilometers during their flight and have more complicated trajectories.

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“In a lot of ways an anti-satellite test is a baby ballistic missile defense test,” Narang says. “It’s very easy to hit a satellite [because] its orbit is very predictable. A ballistic trajectory is harder because it’s coming at an angle so you have vertical and horizontal differentials you need to deal with.”

Despite its limited effectiveness as an anti-satellite weapon or a ballistic missile defense system, both Narang and Kimball pointed to the test as a potent political symbol as India prepares for general elections. “You can’t divorce it from the domestic politics in India,” Narang says. “It’s very provocative to do an ASAT test. It seems like this is an effort to brandish [Modi’s] security credentials with the general election coming up and in the wake of the crisis with Pakistan.” Indeed, India’s opposition party has called for a review of Modi’s announcement of the ballistic missile test to examine whether it violated election rules.

Nonetheless, Kimball says the anti-satellite demonstration must be taken seriously as a space weapon. Indeed, Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan condemned the test, but also said it shows why the United States needs to develop a Space Force. So far there has been no official statement from the US government, however, a silence that Kimball says is “deafening.”

“This is a problem, whether its a friend or an adversary that conducts a ballistic missile test that destroys an Earth-orbiting satellite,” says Kimball. “We need to be aware that when a country conducts a test of a satellite-killing technology, it’s a dangerous step. It underscores the urgent need to discuss some common sense rules of the road for space behavior.”


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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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