Tag Archives | Emerging Issues

Why The World Isn’t As ‘Flat’ As Thomas Friedman Says…

The World Is Not FlatRana Foroohar writes in TIME:

Tis the season to be selfish. Right after the global financial crisis exploded in 2008, many economists fretted that countries looking to hold on to their share of a shrinking pie would become more self-interested and protectionist, plunging the planet into an even sharper downturn, just as happened in the 1930s after the Great Depression. Thanks to panic-fueled crisis management by policymakers, it didn’t happen. But after three years of pain and very little economic gain, it may be happening now.

The signs are everywhere. Europeans are in the middle of a potentially calamitous debt crisis, one that threatens not only the survival of the euro zone but the idea of the European Union itself: politicians are starting to talk about rolling back visa-free travel between countries. Meanwhile, OPEC is falling apart as the Saudis and the Iranians bicker over how to control the world’s energy spigots.

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Asthma Rate Rising Sharply in U.S.

Peak flow meters used to measure one's maximum speed of expiration.

Peak flow meters used to measure expiration speed.

Roni Caryn Rabin writes in the New York Times:

Americans are suffering from asthma in record numbers, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in 10 children and almost one in 12 Americans of all ages now has asthma, government researchers said.

According to the report, from 2001 to 2009 the prevalence of asthma increased among all demographic groups studied, including men, women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Black children are most acutely affected: the study found that 17 percent of black children — nearly one in five — had a diagnosis of asthma in 2009, up from 11.4 percent, or about one in nine, in 2001.

While officials at the Centers for Disease Control emphasized that asthma could be controlled if managed effectively, they were at a loss to explain why it had become more widespread even as important triggers like cigarette smoking had become less common.

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Wikileaks Cables Show Race To Carve Up Arctic

ArcticBBC News reports:

Secret US embassy cables released by Wikileaks show nations are racing to “carve up” Arctic resources — oil, gas and even rubies — as the ice retreats.

They suggest that Arctic states, including the US and Russia, are all pushing to stake a claim.

The opportunity to exploit resources has come because of a dramatic fall in the amount of ice in the Arctic.

The US Geological Survey estimates oil reserves off Greenland are as big as those in the North Sea.

The cables were released by the Wikileaks whistleblower website as foreign ministers from the eight Arctic Council member states – Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland – met in Nuuk, Greenland on Thursday to sign a treaty on international search-and-rescue in the Arctic and discuss the region’s future challenges.

The cables claim the Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller joked with the Americans saying “if you stay out, then the rest of us will have more to carve up in the Arctic”.

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Jihadis Voice Grief and Determination at Death of Their Inspiration

Cover Of Osama Bin Laden's Book

Cover Of Osama Bin Laden's Book.

Robert F. Worth writes in the New York Times:

Jihadis around the world reacted on Monday to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death with a mix of sorrow, disbelief and determination that Al Qaeda and its affiliates would continue their struggle against the West and its allies.

Although the group’s leaders have not yet issued any formal statements on the subject, jihadis vented their feelings throughout the day in Internet forums, gatherings, and interviews throughout the Arab and Muslim world and beyond.

“It is a sad moment and also a happy moment,” said Omar Bakri Muhammad, a radical religious leader who was exiled from Britain and spoke by telephone from Lebanon. “Sad because the ummah was in need of such a charismatic leader. Happy moment because, he died as a martyr, he was not humiliated and fought until the last moment.”

Some jihadis expressed doubt that Bin Laden was dead, citing what they called doctored photographs that shot around the Web on Monday.

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Iran Says Israeli Jets Preparing To Strike

Two F-15I Ra'amUPI reports:

Israeli fighter jets are conducting drills at a military base in Iraq in preparation for a strike on Iran, the Islamic Republic’s Press TV reported.

The report said the Israeli planes participating in the drills include F-15, F-16, F-18 and F-22 fighter jets. It said they have conducted weeklong exercises, flying mainly at night.

Press TV said its report was based on information received from a source close to Moqtada al-Sadr’s group in Iraq.

Sadr is considered to be one of the most influential religious political figures in Iraq but holds no official title. He has repeatedly called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops and U.N. forces deployed in Iraq.

The air drills are being conducted in collaboration with the U.S. military, the report said. It said Iraq was not informed of the exercises.

The U.S. maintains a number of military bases in Iraq and the government in Baghdad is not involved in any military activities occurring there, the report said…

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20 Signs That A ‘Horrific’ Global Food Crisis Is Coming

Starved girlZero Hedge writes via The Economic Collapse Blog:

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen.

Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket. The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes.

Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively.

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American Parents Submit Kids To DNA Testing

A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism is a change of a nucleotide at a single base-pair location on DNA. Author: David Hall (CC)

A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism is a change of a nucleotide at a single base-pair location on DNA. Author: David Hall (CC)

Call me old-fashioned, but voluntarily submitting your children’s DNA for inclusion in a database seems foolhardy to me. Just how secure is that database? Is Gattica really so far in the future once this becomes the norm? From BBC News:

Parents believe the benefits of testing their children for the genetic risk of some diseases outweigh the negative consequences, according to US scientists.

In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, parents who were offered a genetic test supported their children also being tested.

The authors say doctors and politicians need to be more aware of the issue. Genewatch UK said children should never be tested for adult conditions.

Genetic testing used to be confined to specialist clinics, but direct-to-consumer testing is now possible. People send a sample to a company in the post and are told if they have any genes which carry an increased risk of illness.

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The Economics Of Happiness (Video)

I recently had a chance to attend a showing of the documentary The Economics of Happiness. It has a very strong message about the fiscal and social problems of globalization, especially its impact beyond the western world. As a solution, the film suggests a movement towards focusing on communities and localization. Here's the trailer and a plot synopsis:
Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet, life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.
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