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Global Rise In Military Spendings, Data States

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world's military spending is at an all-time high

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U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in have lunch with troops at U.S. military installation Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017. VOA

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world’s military spending is at an all-time high. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending was $1.8 trillion in 2018 alone, which SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman called a “worrying trend.”

“We have to see that as a warning signal, not necessarily something which will lead to war, but something which needs very close attention,” Wezeman told VOA.

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A U.S. fighter jet takes off from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to patrol the international waters off the South China Sea, Aug. 6, 2019. VOA

Military spending hit a post-Cold War low in 1998, but took a sharp rise after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Obama administration began making military budget cuts during efforts to end U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now military spending is on the rise again — thanks to Russia and China.

Speaking exclusively with VOA, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper called Russia and China “revisionist powers that would like to be in a place where they’re not.”

“I wouldn’t call this an arms race,” Cooper said, “but what is different is that we are in places that are more competitive than they were in the past.”

The United States accounts for more than a third of global military spending.

It boasts 11 aircraft carriers, a powerful nuclear arsenal, new elite fighter jets and about 2.1 million troops. Experts agree its military remains the dominant force.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency to make Russia and China 30 feet tall, and they’re not,” Bradley Bowman, a former military officer and a current senior director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told VOA. “There are real vulnerabilities there that we could exploit in a conflict, but there are also areas where they’re more advanced than we are.”

‘Coerce and defeat’

China is now the world’s second-largest military spender — going from just 2% of the world’s military budget in 1990 to 14% now.

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Troops are seen by a row of over a dozen army jeeps at the Shek Kong military base of People’s Liberation Army in New Territories, Hong Kong, China, Aug. 29, 2019. VOA

Bowman warned allies and partners that China has undertaken this comprehensive effort to modernize its military in order to “coerce and defeat” the U.S. and its allies in a future conflict.

China built two aircraft carriers in the past decade, and a third is under construction. China has developed its own elite fighter jets, troop numbers have swelled to more than 2.5 million, and it is investing in new technologies, including hypersonics weapons that would fly five times the speed of sound.

Wezeman says the swift modernization has been “perceived as a threat by its neighbors.”

Other top spenders

In reaction, India has upped its military spending by more than $11 billion in just three years, now ranking fourth overall behind Saudi Arabia.

ALSO READ: As Climate Change Brings Extreme Heat Waves around The World, Demand for Air Conditioners Soaring

Although Russia slipped from the top five spending countries in 2018, it still has NATO’s attention after invading Georgia in 2008 and annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.

The 29 NATO countries spent $963 billion, 53% of world military spending, in 2018.

That number is likely to increase as the U.S. continues to pressure NATO allies to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defense.

“We can’t let countries off the hook,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “You can’t simply substitute and say, ‘Well, my 2% is going to go to technology, or I’m going to build infrastructure. I can’t deter a Russian brigade with a road.’ We need real capability.” (VOA)

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US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)