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Christchurch, Brexit, China and Israel: RAND Weekly Recap

March 22, 2019

This week, we discuss who should be held accountable for abusive online content in the wake of the New Zealand terrorist attack; how the UK can prepare for a no-deal Brexit; relations between China and Israel; the Trump administration's rumored “Cost Plus 50” policy; autonomous vehicle cybersecurity; and federal options for supervised drug consumption sites.

Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim of the Linwood Mosque is embraced by Father Felimoun El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim of the Linwood Mosque is embraced by Father Felimoun El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019

Photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

The Christchurch Massacre Was Another Internet-Enabled Atrocity

The suspect charged with killing 50 worshipers at two New Zealand mosques last week posted a white nationalist screed online shortly before live-streaming the carnage. This is the latest reminder that terrorism can be incited, spread, and sometimes organized and concealed by internet activity.

Who should be held accountable for abusive online posts, the author or the publisher? According to RAND's James Dobbins, social media companies should bear the social responsibility for their content. “Facebook is no more obliged to accept a posting than the New York Times is to print a submitted article,” he says.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament ahead of a Brexit vote, in London, Britain, March 13, 2019, photo by UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament ahead of a Brexit vote, March 13, 2019

Photo by UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters

Brexit Doesn't Have to Doom the UK

The European Union has agreed to push back the Brexit deadline until May 22, but only if the British Parliament accepts Prime Minister Theresa May's deal—something it has declined to do twice. RAND research shows that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be costly. But it doesn't have to spell economic doom, say RAND experts. There are steps the UK could take to improve its post-Brexit prospects.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands ahead of their talks at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, March 21, 2017, photo by Etienne Oliveau/Reuters/Pool

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands ahead of talks in Beijing, March 21, 2017

Photo by Etienne Oliveau/Reuters/Pool

The Evolving Israel–China Relationship

Relations between China and Israel have been expanding in several areas since the early 2000s. According to a new RAND report, this relationship provides both countries with important opportunities. But it may pose challenges to U.S. interests. For example, China's engagement with the Israeli tech sector could upset Washington, especially in light of growing U.S.–China trade tensions.

An F-16 fighter jet lands at a U.S. Air Force base in Osan, South Korea, April 3, 2013, photo by Lee Jae Won/Reuters

An F-16 fighter jet land at a U.S. Air Force base in Osan, South Korea, April 3, 2013

Photo by Lee Jae Won/Reuters

'Cost Plus 50' Explained

Under the Trump administration's rumored “Cost Plus 50” plan, countries that host U.S. forces would theoretically subsidize the cost of the U.S. military presence there—and pay an extra 50 percent of that amount. Research suggests that this type of transactional foreign policy is risky, says RAND's Stacie Pettyjohn. It could damage long-standing relationships and limit the military's ability to operate globally.

Interior of autonomous car with ones and zeroes superimposed, photo by metamorworks/Getty Images

Photo by metamorworks/Getty Images

Autonomous Vehicles: Integrating Safety and Cybersecurity Systems

In autonomous vehicle companies, safety and cybersecurity are often pursued by separate teams. A collaborative approach may be better, says RAND's Marjory Blumenthal. Why? As AVs become more and more complex, changing one aspect of the technology can create an unexpected vulnerability in another feature. This makes it crucial to develop safety and cybersecurity as integrated systems.

A supervised injection site for people who use drugs, in Lausanne, Switzerland, September 28, 2018, photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

A supervised injection site in Lausanne, Switzerland, September 28, 2018

Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Supervised Consumption Sites: Understanding the Options

With overdose deaths mounting, some U.S. cities are trying to create designated spaces where people who use heroin and other drugs can be supervised by medical professionals. How will federal policymakers respond? According to RAND experts, they have several options. One option that hasn't received much attention would be to mirror the federal response to states that have legalized marijuana. In other words, use discretion to shape how supervised consumption sites operate and where they are located.

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