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Ed Webb

On Syria, You Say Bureaucratic Politics, I Say Realism -- Let's Call the Whole Thing Of... - 1 views

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Ed Webb

Climate Risk Atlas 2014 - 0 views

  • 31% of global economic output will be based in countries facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme risks’ from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025 – a 50% increase on current levels
  • The economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by Bangladesh (1st and most at risk), Guinea-Bissau (2nd), Sierra Leone (3rd), Haiti (4th), South Sudan (5th), Nigeria (6th), DR Congo (7th), Cambodia (8th), Philippines (9th) and Ethiopia (10th), which make up the 10 most at risk countries out of the 193 rated by the CCVI. However, other important growth markets at risk include: India (20th), Pakistan (24th) and Viet Nam (26th) in the ‘extreme risk’ category, in addition to Indonesia (38th), Thailand (45th), Kenya (56th) and, most significantly, China (61st), all classified at ‘high risk.’
  • three factors: exposure to extreme climate-related events, including sea level rise and future changes in temperature, precipitation and specific humidity; the sensitivity of populations, in terms of health, education, agricultural dependence and available infrastructure; and the adaptive capacity of countries to combat the impacts of climate change, which encompasses, R&D, economic factors, resource security and the effectiveness of government
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  • According to the CCVI’s sub-national calculations, of the 50 cities studied, five present an ‘extreme risk’ – Dhaka in Bangladesh; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Manila in the Philippines and Thailand’s Bangkok – while only two London and Paris were classified as ‘low risk.’ Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta, which encompasses the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Foshan and make up China’s manufacturing heartland, are among the most exposed to physical risks from extreme climate-related events.
Ed Webb

Israel "to build security barrier between West Bank and Jordan" - Telegraph - 0 views

  • Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to build a security barrier between the West Bank and Jordan in a move aimed at asserting Israel's control over the borders of a future Palestinian state.

    The fence would extend from the Dead Sea to near the southern Israeli city of Eilat and would reinforce Israel's determination to maintain a presence in the strategic Jordan Valley, despite fierce Palestinian opposition.

    The Israeli newspaper, Maariv, reported that Mr Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, had ordered work to begin as soon as another fence currently being built on the country's southern border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is completed.

    An Israeli official confirmed to The Telegraph that the barrier was under consideration but said that a final decision had yet to be taken.

    Addressing Sunday's cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu said a continued military presence in the Jordan Valley was "first and foremost" among Israel's security needs "in case the peace frays".

  • "These security arrangements are important to us. We will insist upon them," he said. "First and foremost, the security border of the State of Israel will remain along the Jordan River."

  • In another development certain to trigger Palestinian outrage, Israel issued tenders for 1,859 settlers' homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group.
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  • The move came after Israel last week approved 5,000 new settlers homes as well as a national park in East Jerusalem in what was depicted as an effort to stave off Right-wing criticism of the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, freed last Tuesday as part of an agreement concluded last July to re-start long-stalled negotiations.

Ed Webb

US and Israel lose UNESCO voting rights - Americas - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States, two years after it stopped paying dues to the UN's cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians, according to a UNESCO source.

    The US has not paid its dues to UNESCO due to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time and also lost voting rights on Friday.

  • The US decision of not paying UNESCO was blamed on US laws that prohibit funding to any United Nations agency that implies recognition of Palestinian demands for their own state.
  • The withdrawal of US funding, which to date amounts to about $240m or some 22 percent of UNESCO's budget, has plunged the organisation into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programmes and slash spending.
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  • Some fear that a weaker US presence will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within UNESCO, where Arab-led criticism of Israel for territorial reasons has long been an issue.

    "We won't be able to have the same clout," said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based US National Commissioner for UNESCO. "In effect, we (now won't) have a full tool box. We're missing our hammer."

    Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told The Associated Press that his country supported the US decision, "objecting to the politicisation of UNESCO, or any international organisation, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine."

    Elias Sanbar, Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO told Al Jazeera: "We need them (the United States) to be active. By taking this decision, first of all, they have created big problems for UNESCO, but they have also lost part of their role and we need their role."

    UNESCO designates World Heritage sites, promotes global education and supports press freedom among other tasks.

  • The Palestinians have so far failed in their bid to become a full member of the UN, but their UNESCO membership is seen as a potential first step towards UN recognition of statehood.
Ed Webb

Who predicted Russia's military intervention? - 0 views

  • scholars who study international security or Russia (or Eastern Europe) as a primary or secondary specialty were more likely to foresee the intervention. It pays (a little bit) to listen to those who know what they are talking about.
  • scholars who work at a Top-25 institution (as identified by TRIP) were least likely to be correct. This is consistent with Philip Tetlock’s finding that the more famous and successful the pundit, the less accurate the predictions. Perhaps in academia, as in punditry, forcefulness, confidence and decisiveness pay even as these qualities do not translate into predictive accuracy.
  • Fourth, and most interesting to me, are the differences related to the “paradigm wars.” International relations scholars have long classified themselves as belonging to different schools of thought, often referred to as “the isms” (see here for a primer). A growing group of scholars, myself included, worry that becoming a card-carrying member of a paradigmatic club can lead to blinders that, among others, interferes with predictive accuracy.

    Consistent with this, those who do not identify with a paradigm were somewhat more likely to be accurate, closely followed by Realists. Self-identified Liberals and Constructivists did poorly, with Liberals both very unlikely to predict intervention and very likely to offer a definitive “no” rather than the “don’t know” answer that was very popular among Constructivists (who sometimes look dimly on the predictive ambitions of social science).

    Perhaps a misplaced faith in the power of international law and institutions was at the root of this. After all, the Russian intervention violates a system of laws and norms that these paradigms hold dearly. Yet, non-realist scholars who study international law or international organizations as their primary or secondary field were more likely to foresee the military action (see graph).

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  • All of these findings ought to be taken with a hefty grain of salt. The sample is pretty small once you start breaking it down into subgroups. Moreover, if there were a subgroup called “conspiracy theorists,” who see military intervention lurking behind any crisis, we would have declared them clairvoyant based on this one prediction exercise. This is why continuation of these snap polls is so important: it helps expose our biases in a systematic way. Finally, none of this should distract us from the most important conclusion: that most scholars (including me) got it wrong.
Ed Webb

Iran 'thwarts nuclear sabotage attempts' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • "Several cases of industrial sabotage have been neutralized in the past few months before achieving the intended damage, including sabotage at a part of the IR-40 facility at Arak."
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