Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Think Tank Scholar Being Sued by Huawei

Here is more from Bloomberg:

Huawei Technologies Co. is suing critics in France who alleged it has ties to the Chinese state.
In an unprecedented move, the technology giant filed three defamation claims in Paris over comments made during television programs by a French researcher, a broadcast journalist and a telecommunications sector expert.
Valerie Niquet, a researcher at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research that specializes in China and Japan, is a regular guest on French radio and television. Huawei filed the lawsuit after her comments in two television programs in February in which she said the company had ties to the state.
Niquet was informed of the claims in September and then in November when the police reached out to her to confirm her comments, according to copies of the authorities’ emails seen by Bloomberg.

This is the first case that Think Tank Watch is aware of where a think tanker has been sued by a corporation for commentary.

A think tank teamed up with a scholar recently found that around 100 Huawei employees had education or work experience linked to Chinese military or intelligence agencies.

Last year, it was reported that Huawei paid the Brookings Institution to write favorable reports.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Think Tank FDD Starts Sister Lobbying Arm

Here is more from Politico:

Tyler Stapleton, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ deputy director of congressional relations, has registered to lobby through FDD Action. It’s the first time the think tank has had a registered lobbyist. Stapleton will lobby on a variety of bills involving Turkey and Iran — of which the think tank has been sharply critical — and Israel, which the think tank has defended.

Here is more on the announcement from Al-Monitor.

Iran recently sanctioned FDD, a think tank that may have contributed to the destruction of the Iran nuclear deal.

A number of other Washington think tanks have sister lobbying arms, including the conservative Heritage Foundation and the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP).

Here is a Think Tank Watch piece on a new strategy that lobbyists have on increasing their outreach to think tanks in 2020.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

New 2020 Lobbying Strategy: Deeper Outreach to Think Tanks

Here is more from Roll Call:

It’s hard to imagine a more bonkers, unpredictable and politically toxic backdrop for K Street operators than the current one. But just wait until 2020 actually arrives. 
The presidential election year will hit lobbyists with potential risks all around. Candidates up and down the ballot will press proposals to remake the influence industry and to overhaul the nation’s campaign finance system. More candidates will reject K Street and business donations. The approaching elections, along with an expected impeachment trial early on, will turn Capitol Hill into an even bigger political mess.
Still, lobbyists say they have no plans to zip up their campaign checkbooks, hide under their desks or decamp from the capital.
Instead, they’re brewing alternative strategies, workarounds that include deeper outreach to think tanks, academia and other institutions that can lend policy gravitas to shape major discussions over health care, immigration, trade, taxes and other matters that will feature prominently on the campaign trail and beyond.

Lobbyists and lobbying firms have ramped up outreach to think tanks over the years, making thousands of contacts at Washington, DC-area think tanks large and small each year.  In turn, think tanks often lobby the executive and legislative branches.

Foreign governments have also been hiring lobbying firms for help with outreach to think tanks.

Monday, November 18, 2019

New White Paper: Russia's Use of Pseudo-Think Tanks

The Stanford Internet Observatory has just published a new white paper on the online operations of the GRU, the main military foreign-intelligence service of Russia, highlighting pseudo-think tanks and personas.

Here is a clip from the report:

The GRU narrative strategy also involved the creation of think tanks and “alternative news” sites to serve as initial content drops, from which the content was syndicated or republished on other sites. These think tanks and media sites relied on personas —fake online identities that persist over time, or across multiple platforms, and attempt to create a perception that the person behind the identity is real—who served as both bylined authors for the GRU’s own fabricated media properties and “freelancers” who could inject the narrative into other publications under the guise of contributing authors. The content-creator personas served as both authors and amplifiers, often cross-promoting each other’s articles. In addition, we found a network of highly suspicious, likely fabricated accounts who were involved in the distribution of the content on other social platforms, including Twitter and Reddit.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post about a new think tank helping Russia gain influence in Africa.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a think tank that has been accused of trying to sway the 2016 US presidential election.

Here is a piece on deepfake think tank scholars.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Think Tank Quickies (#365)

  • Why we should stop treating peer review as the gold standard of research.
  • More scientific papers should be retracted; prank jabs at academic papers; broken system lets doctors omit industry ties in journals.
  • Kiron Skinner, who recently took leave as a researcher at the Hoover Institution to serve in the Trump Administration, forced out as State Department's director of policy planning.
  • Can you publish virtually anything in scientific journals? Predatory publisher fined $50 million. 
  • Let policy wonks proliferate: Xi Jinping is encouraging a boom in "independent" Chinese think tanks.
  • North Korea Strategy Center (NKSC): a Seoul-based think tank founded by a North Korean defector.
  • DC bucket lists overflow with think tank desires?
  • Brookings scholars Carol O'Cleireacain and Alice Rivlin had pushed for DC population growth.
  • Wealthy businessmen such as textile magnate Roger Milliken funded anti-globalization studies and think tanks; former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca funded Clyde Prestowitz's Economic Strategy Institute.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"Gold-Spoon" Favoritism and South Korean Think Tanks

Here is more from the New York Times:

In South Korea, white-collar workers’ salaries and job titles in their 60s can often be predicted by which university they attended. The jostling for position starts in kindergarten, with some rich parents spending thousands of dollars a month on private tutoring to help their children secure spots in elite prep schools and top universities.
Well-connected families often resort to dubious tactics to get their children into the best universities, such as helping them land coveted internships at big corporations, research think tanks and university labs, which offer opportunities to get credit on research papers.
The Education Ministry’s audits of universities since 2017 have uncovered 794 research papers where middle school or high school students were listed as co-authors, including at least 11 where professors named their own children as co-authors. When economists from Seoul National University compared two boroughs of Seoul in 2014, they found that children from the wealthier borough were 20 times more likely to enter the university, the country’s most coveted, than children from the other.

According to the University of Pennsylvania, there are 60 think tanks in South Korea.  According to UPenn, the country's top-ranked think tank is Korea Development Institute (KDI), ranked 20th in the world.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

World Bank Worked With Chinese Think Tank on Policy Blueprint

Here is more from the Economist:

In a new report the World Bank has made its own contribution to Chinese numerology, introducing the “three Ds”. These, it says, refer to what China must do to become more productive and innovative: remove economic distortions, diffuse technology and foster discovery.
The World Bank has more experience than most in this, having loaned cash (more than $60bn) and expertise to China over nearly four decades. Its report, “Innovative China”, published on September 17th, reflects a slightly different approach. It is the third time since 2012 that it has jointly written a policy blueprint with the Development Research Centre, a think-tank under the State Council. It is, in theory, a way to put recommendations into the prime minister’s hands, and perhaps into the next five-year plan.
This report came with more controversy than the previous two.  In March the Washington Post reported that it had been ready for a year, but that Chinese authorities had blocked its release because they objected to some of its contents, notably a section on reforming state-owned enterprises.

Here is a link to the above-mentioned Washington Post story, and here is a link to the new report jointly written by the World Bank and China's Development Research Center (DRC).

Monday, November 4, 2019

New Think Tank Helping Russia Gain Influence in Africa

Here is more from the New York Times:

Mr. [Jose] Matemulane runs a think tank called Afric, which describes itself on its website as “funded by donors with a common passion to foster Africa’s development,” without mentioning Russia. In an interview, though, Mr. Matemulane said the group was launched last year with support from a St. Petersburg businessman he declined to name.
Afric received prominent billing at a summit for dozens of African leaders hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, and announced it would partner with a Russian propaganda specialist who had previously focused on the United States.
It also drew the notice of Mamadou Koulibaly, a candidate for president of Ivory Coast in elections next year.
“I will ask them if they can introduce me to people with money who will help me,” Mr. Koulibaly said of Afric. “This is important. A campaign needs money.”
Afric — an acronym for Association for Free Research and International Cooperation — is building ties with African politicians and commentators while publishing articles that extol the benefits of cooperating with Russia. It has also invested heavily in election monitoring missions that mirror Russia’s approach in its own elections: bringing in sympathetic foreigners who praise the votes’ fairness and transparency, even as established Western organizations criticize them.

The article goes on to note that investigative journalists have reported that Afric is funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted by the US for running the "troll farm" that sought to sway the 2016 US presidential election.  Afric employees deny any connection.

In July, a Russian think tank with links to an infamous troll farm said two of its employees were detained in Libya.

Here is a 2017 report on Russian think tanks and soft power from the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Think Tank Quickies (#364)

  • Mike Pence delivers major China speech at Wilson Center's inaugural Frederic M. Malek Public Service Leadership Lecture; SecState Mike Pompeo slams China at Hudson speech.
  • Atlantic Council's Global 2035 report featured in top spot on Axios AM; says era of American dominance is "definitely over."
  • MapLight: Facebook, Google, and Amazon pour money into think tanks.
  • Economic Innovation Group: A Washington think tank that studies regional inequality and pushes for policies that combat it. 
  • Video: Lee Fang asks Heartland Institute president about past smoking claims. 
  • Working at a think tank to relax: "Jonathan Wong worked 80-hour weeks in management was hard to take a break so he moved to a job at the RAND Corp. and took a 30 percent pay cut."
  • New Consensus: A think tank with ties to progressive lawmakers.
  • Newish think tank: Washington Institute for Business, Government and Society.  Its founder/CEO is James Moore Jr., a former assistant secretary of Commerce.  It has partnerships with BDO, Oxford Analytica, Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, and WP Live, among others.
  • Perks at R Street Institute: unlimited PTO, can work from wherever they need, $1,200/yr. for wellness, $3,000/yr. for student loan repayments, $400 towards a new phone, and $40/mo. toward cell phone service.
  • Colorado's think tanks put ideas into action.