Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Extreme weather conditions single most prominent risk to global economy: World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum's 48th annual meeting will take place on January 23-26, 2018, in Switzerland.

Extreme weather events have been seen as the single most prominent risk to the global economy by business leaders and policymakers, the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.

Its annual Global Risks Report says that in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts.

The report was made public just a week ahead of the World Economic Forum's 48th annual meeting that will take place on January 23-26 in Switzerland.

This year Prime Minister Narendra Modi will open the forum, while US President Donald Trump will close it, according to organisers.

The report says among the 30 global risks the experts were asked to prioritise in terms of likelihood and impact, all five environmental risks - extreme weather, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, major natural disasters, man-made environmental disasters and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation - were ranked highly on both dimensions.

The report has a message - the prospect of strong economic growth presents leaders with a golden opportunity to address signs of severe weakness in many of the complex systems that underpin the world, such as societies, economies, international relations and the environment.

The report, which every January shares the perspectives of global experts and decision-makers on the most significant risks that face the world, cautions that "we are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change".

It highlights numerous areas where "we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars".

The annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) suggests that experts are preparing for another year of heightened risk.

"When we asked nearly 1,000 respondents for their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59 percent of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with seven percent pointing to declining risks," said the World Economic Forum.

A deteriorating geopolitical landscape is partly to blame for the pessimistic outlook in 2018, with 93 percent of respondents saying they expect political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen, and nearly 80 percent expecting an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.

John Drzik, President - Global Risk and Digital at Marsh & McLennan insurance group, said: "Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyber attacks. At the same time, cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology."

"While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts if we are to prevent the same bulging 'protection' gap between economic and insured losses that we see for natural catastrophes."

Economic risks, on the other hand, feature less prominently this year, leading some experts to worry that the improvement in global GDP growth rates could lead to complacency about persistent structural risks in the global economic and financial systems.

Even so, inequality is ranked third among the underlying risk drivers, and the most frequently cited interconnection of risks is between adverse consequences of technological advances and high structural unemployment or under-employment.

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer with Aviva Investors, said: "It is important that the World Economic Forum is once again recognising the risk that the unchecked climate change poses to global prosperity."

"As a global insurer, we recognise that a world that warms by four degrees would pose an existential threat to our sector."

Donald Trump blasts 'unfair coverage', announces 'Fake News' award winners

US President Donald Trump has declared 'The New York Times' as the winner of the 'Fake News Award'.

Among other recipients of Trump's unique award were 'ABC News', 'CNN', 'Time' and 'The Washington Post'.

Trump announced the award by a tweet yesterday.

The website GOP.Com - where the winners were listed - crashed soon after Trump announced his Fake News Awards.

"2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news. Studies have shown that over 90 per cent of the media's coverage of President Trump is negative," it said.

In a subsequent tweet, Trump said despite some "very corrupt and dishonest" media coverage, there are many great reporters he respects.

"And lots of GOOD NEWS for the American people to be proud of!" he said.

Topping the list was The New York Times' Paul Krugman story which claimed on the day of Trump's historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.

ABC News' Brian Ross was positioned second. It "CHOKES and sends markets in a downward spiral with a false report," the website said.

'CNN' received the third prize for "FALSELY" reporting that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J Trump Jr. Had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.

The 'Time' magazine was placed fourth for "FALSELY" reporting that Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

"The Washington Post" was placed last for "FALSELY" reporting the president's massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty.

"Dishonest reporter showed a picture of empty arena HOURS before the crowd started pouring in," it said.

In another tweet, Trump alleged that "the dishonest media" was not reporting about "the true story" under his administration.

"ISIS is in retreat, our economy is booming, investments and jobs are pouring back into the country, and so much more! Together there is nothing we can't overcome--even a very biased media. We ARE Making America Great Again!" Trump tweeted.

Trump had, on January 2, announced that he would give away awards to media houses for "dishonesty and bad reporting".

Trump had coined the term 'Fake News' during his presidential campaign, targeting media houses for "biased" news. 

15 Famous Landmarks Zoomed Out To Show Their Surrounding

The Most Impressive Movie Makeup Transformations In History (10 Pics)

The people who work with makeup on film sets just don't get enough credit. They can take one of your favorite actors and make them completely unrecognizable. The transformations that these people have gone through are simply stunning and these are some of the best transformations ever captured on film. 

Super Blue Blood Moon in the sky after 150 years. Here's what you need to know

This will be the second full moon of the month, also called the 'Blue Moon' and the first eclipse in the new year. 

After 2017 gave sky-gazers and space enthusiasts a chance to witness a rare total solar eclipse, 2018 is all set to give aficionados another treat.

On January 31st, the moon is all set to turn orange. Get ready to witness a rare celestial spectacle on the last day of January as the moon enters a phase of total eclipse aligning perfectly with the sun.

This will be the second full moon of the month, also called the 'Blue Moon' and the first eclipse in the new year.

Also termed 'Blood Moon', the eclipse will be visible in large parts of US, northeastern Europe, Russia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, and Australia.

Why is this eclipse a rare one?

The lunar event on January 31st will occur for the first time in 150 years, thereby giving sky-gazers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view it.

How will it be like for different parts of the world?

For the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the eclipse will already be underway as the Moon rises.

The Pacific Ocean will be turned towards the Moon at the time and the eclipse will take place during the middle of the night.

Central and eastern Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and most of Australia will get a fine view of this Moon show in the evening sky.

Alaska, Hawaii and northwestern Canada will see the eclipse from start to finish. Moonset will intervene for the rest of North and Central America, however.

What is the duration of the event?

The duration of the total phase is 77 minutes, with the moon tracking through the southern part of the Earth's shadow.

During totality, the Moon's lower limb will appear much brighter than the dark upper limb, 'Space.Com' reported.

When will the next total lunar eclipse take place?

After this year, total lunar eclipses will be on December 31, 2028, and, after that, on January 31, 2037.

When did the last total lunar eclipse occur?

An eight percent partial eclipse occurred on December 31, 2009, but the last total eclipse of a Blue Moon happened all the way back on March 31, 1866.

Second US winter storm forces hundreds of flight cancellations

A second winter storm in as many weeks is causing hundreds of flight cancellations across the United States, airlines reported on Tuesday, potentially dealing a further blow to carriers' first quarter outlooks. 

A second winter storm in as many weeks is causing hundreds of flight cancellations across the United States, airlines reported on Tuesday, potentially dealing a further blow to carriers' first quarter outlooks.

As the storm sweeps across southeast Texas and up the East Coast dumping snow, sleet and freezing rain, airlines have already cancelled flights into Wednesday in anticipation of difficult conditions.

American Airlines , the world`s largest airline by passenger traffic, had cancelled some 270 flights between Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of the storm, it said.

Rival Delta Air Lines, the No. 2 U.S. carrier by passenger traffic, said it had cancelled about 275 Tuesday flights and expected additional cancellations in New York and Boston as the storm tracked north.

The third-largest U.S. carrier, United Airlines , said it had cancelled more than 700 flights on Tuesday. United was offering to waive fees for changes to flights to and from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other affected airports for scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday flights.

The storm itself is relatively minor compared to other winter weather events, and several hundred flights represent only a tiny percentage of airlines` overall operations. But such storms are still a nuisance to carriers and can cost them millions of dollars in lost revenue.

A massive winter storm at the onset of the year caused thousands of cancellations, as several inches of snow and ice paralysed the U.S. Northeast and forced the closure of some of the region`s biggest airports.

EXCLUSIVE - China prepares to deploy nuclear submarines at Pakistan's Gwadar Port: True face of CPEC?

It has already started work to build facilities to enable communication with submarines.

China has already begun work on infrastructure required to station nuclear submarines at the Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan. This vindicates India's long-standing discomfort over the possibility that the true purpose of China's involvement in Gwadar is strategic more than trade.

Gwadar Port, which China has financed and built, would give Beijing the direct strategic access and to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that it has always craved, and give it blue water naval capability. The stationing of a submarine fleet there would also allow China to keep close tabs on the operations and influence of the Indian Navy.

Nuclear submarines are called so only because they are powered by a nuclear reactor onboard. They do not necessarily carry nuclear weapons. Nuclear submarines can remain at sea for extended periods of time since they do not need to keep returning to land for fuel.

It is learnt that a high-level delegation of Chinese officials recently visited Islamabad and held meeting with key figures in the Pakistan Navy, to expedite the nuclear submarines base projects.

China is eager to have three submarine bases operationalised on the southern Pakistan coast.

Beijing had recently denied speculation that it was setting up a harbour in Jiwani Port, close to the Iran border. This harbour was meant exclusively for Chinese warships, with Gwadar being portrayed as a trade hub.

The Pakistani Navy is constructing a VLF station for strategic submarine communications. VLF, or Very Low Frequency, stations enable one-way communications with submarines operating in deep sea. Submarine communications tend to be one-way most of the time, because a submarine that doesn't transmit is extremely difficult to detect.

China is working with the Pakistani Navy on the civil works. Work has already begun on the foundation for a 205-foot antenna tower, underground VLF building and power station. Work has also begun on activating Forward Operating Bases, which would allow repair, maintenance and other logistics work to be carried out on Chinese and Pakistani Navy ships.

Indian military intelligence agencies have already reported instances of Chinese submarines hanging around close to the Indian coast.

China also recently operationalised a military base in Djibouti, on the coast of the African mainland, at the entry to the crucial Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to the Red Sea.