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Weekly Round-Up

1. UK to increase defence spending by £16.5 billion over the next four years.

UK defence spending will be boosted by an additional £4 billion per year over the next four years, vastly increasing cyber and space capabilities. A new agency is to be created which will focus on the defence applications of artificial intelligence and the MoD will establish an armed forces ‘Space Command’ which is set to be capable of launching its first rocket in 2022. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, noted that this increased investment is a response to an international system that is “more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the cold war” and represented a commitment to supporting UK allies.

2. Infamous Boko Haram bomb maker arrested in Nigeria.

Nigerian troops taking part in Operation Fireball have arrested a Boko Haram terrorist who allegedly specialises in manufacturing improvised explosive devices. The man was apprehended during an army operation to clear the remnants of a Boko Haram installation in Super Camp 19 Bitta. The troops also recovered suspected bomb making materials from the Boko Haram enclave.

3. Canadian Defence Minister opposes military build up in the South China Sea.

This week the Canadian Minister of Defence, Harjit Sajjan, has voiced growing concerns over the levels of military build up in the South China Sea. Speaking at the South China Sea International Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Mr Sajjan noted "Canada opposes unilateral actions that have escalated tensions in the region and undermined stability in the South China Sea. We are against the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation, building outposts on disputed entities and using them for military purposes in the sea”. The Defence Minister’s statement comes at a time of growing unrest in the region as China claims sovereignty over the waters of nations like Malaysia, Brunei, and the conference host Vietnam, amongst others.

4. Researchers in Papua New Guinea use drones to monitor active volcanoes.

Pioneers in Papua New Guinea have started using drones to capture life-saving data from active volcanoes. The unmanned aerial systems are capable of monitoring volcano activity in order to predict the likelihood of an eruption, allowing communities to evacuate in time, if necessary. The drones are able to detect seismic activity and gas build ups allowing experts to determine when an eruption may occur. The drones are currently monitoring the extremely active Manam volcano situated off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The data collected is also useful in monitoring volcanic effects on climate change, of which an insufficient amount is currently known.

5. Solomon Islands to ban Facebook.

The Cabinet Ministers of the Government of the Solomon Islands have voted to ban Facebook, amidst political and security concerns. Minister of Communications, Peter Shanel Agovaka, stated that the action was being taken in response to increasing cybercrime, disinformation and “character assassination” of government officials. The Communications Minister also referenced the need to regulate the internet to “safeguard our young people from harmful content." The Solomon Islands will join a group of only four countries where Facebook is banned. The most notable of these nations is China, with whom the Solomon Islands have enjoyed a closer relationship in recent times.


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