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The Perfect Storm and Black Swan Theory

The BP oil crisis in the Mexican gulf, deadly heat waves in Russia, earthquakes in Haiti (7.0 Mw) and Chile (8.8 Mw) and flooding in Australia caused almost 300.000 deaths from natural disasters in 2010 (1).

A few months into 2011 New Zealand is hit by a 6.3 Mw earthquake followed by the Japan 9.0 Mw earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The situation in Libya, Syria and many other Arabic and African countries adds uncertainty to global stability. The complexity of the situation demands a new approach to early warning systems for natural disasters and reduction of global systemic risk.

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Synthetic biology: Harbinger of an uncertain future?

However, a split in the industry appeared when two of the leading firms — DNA2.0 in the U.S. and Geneart in Germany — proposed to minimize the second phase of security screening, i.e. using a human expert, and to rely almost entirely on the first phase of screening, i.e. using only computers. Because a mainly computerized system would not require the time consuming and expensive work of an expert, it could be implemented quickly and cheaply. However, removing the detailed human expert examination obviously increases the possibility that dangerous orders could get through the screening, as the computer screening process is only as good as the databases it calls upon. Debates and divisions continue within the industry as to the best approach.

Source: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Lobbying China on Iran, Israelis admit limited sway

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel has limited sway over China but hopes that sharing its fears about Iran’s nuclear program will persuade Beijing to back tougher sanctions on Tehran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Friday.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon are in China for what some analysts see as a last-ditch mission to craft U.N. Security Council consensus about cracking down on Iranian uranium enrichment.

Of the five Security Council veto-wielders, China is most resistant to employing sanctions to force Tehran, with whom it has energy, trade and diplomatic ties, to curb the project. Russia, another past naysayer, has been signaling flexibility

“You are living a symbiotic relationship with (China)… based on the amount of American bonds that they hold. They didn’t buy a lot of bonds in (Israeli) shekels,” Barak said in an address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Source: Reuters.

(c) Copyright Plausible Futures Newsletter 2013