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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia deterred any major attack by the other with existentially dangerous arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles. Now, Russia has what it views as a potent new deterrent, experts say — cyber implants in the U.S. electric grid.
What's going on: Over the last year, Russian hackers have infiltrated power stations and other points on the U.S. grid — and now are inside hundreds, empowering them to create chaos with massive blackouts, U.S. officials say.
But experts tell Axios that, rather than plotting an attack, the Kremlin is sending a deliberate message. James Lewis, director of the technology program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sums it up: "You guys better back up because look what we can do!"
In a way, the dynamic resembles the Cold War:
But, unlike the depths of the Cold War, the two rivals have no treaty setting boundaries for weapons deployment and use.
In Tianjin. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty Images
Few have successfully challenged Starbucks anywhere in the world. But now there is Luckin Coffee, a brazenly cool, VC-funded startup in China that, in an astonishing nine months, has swollen to more than 650 locations, a $1 billion valuation, and lots of buzz.
Why it matters: In both the U.S. and China, Starbucks is losing its mojo. Store traffic in the U.S. was down 2% in the last quarter, and Chinese sales dropped by the same percentage. In the U.S., the answer has been to raise prices. But in China, its drinks are already priced sky-high, and it will have to beat the plucky Luckin in product and service alone.
The latest: Determined to survive and hold onto its clear lead in the world's premier growth market, Starbucks last week announced a high-profile alliance with China's greatest e-commerce behemoth — Alibaba.
It's not clear that brute force will be sufficient in a market where once-stout brands can vanish when homegrown rivals prove they know China better. Think eBay and Uber, both of which were eclipsed by local Chinese brands. But Starbucks is going to try — and it starts out with serious advantages.
Still, the Chinese coffee market is embryonic: Chinese consumers drink about three cups of coffee per person per year, Euromonitor says. Compare that with 363 for Americans and 250 for Britons. That leaves plenty of room for upstarts.
A gold survey near Ilesha, Nigeria. Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images
Extreme weather could change global economics by making it too hot to work and disrupting electricity in dozens of countries including China and the developing world, according to new studies.
Why it matters: Among a growing number of broad microeconomic assessments of climate change, the studies suggest a consequential strike on global growth unless dramatic strategies are undertaken.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Humanless in Jakarta. Photo: JD.com
In May, we reported that China's tech giants are sharing their secret sauce with mom-and-pop shops around the country, helping them join the digital revolution with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and e-commerce technologies, Erica Pandey writes.
What's next: The Chinese are taking their digitalization-in-a-box concept abroad — with the potential to fuel a grassroots retail revolution beyond China.
In a brewing war, China's retail giants are vying for the Southeast Asian market, with its super-high population density and lack of local retail competition.
Why it matters: Amazon has developed and deployed unmanned retail technology in its Go store in Seattle. The difference is that JD and Alibaba are marketing their high-tech solutions to anyone who wants them.