DGI Brief - Nov 11, 2016
- Prime Minister Abe of JAPAN & Modi of INDIA signed an agreement for the sale of Japanese civil nuclear power equipment & technology to India who aims to increase its nuclear power production to support economic growth. They also agreed to increase defense cooperation, mostly through Japanese defense technology exports to India. Why it matters: Japan is intensively looking to expand its nuclear industry abroad as its domestic market is failing following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. An important deal with VIETNAM fell through this week after Vietnam realized building 2 nuclear power plants wasn’t in their interest when other sources of energy – esp. clean energy – are becoming cheaper. India, however, is energy hungry as its economy grows. Anti-nuclear groups oppose this agreement for concerns about safety, peace & security & the risk of nuclear proliferation. India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty & many fear it will use Japanese technology for its vast nuclear weapons program. Japan & India see it differently, claiming the agreement sets a legal framework for non-proliferation. Enforceable? Hardly. But the 2 countries need friendly cooperation to offset the increased assertiveness of China in the region. We are seeing a pivot toward stronger regional focus & alliances rather than global.
- BRAZIL: Following the massive scandal involving state oil company Petrobras that wreaked havoc on the government, the congress approved a measure giving private companies a larger role in the exploration of the massive oil & gas reserves off the southern coast. This measure scraps the previous rule whereby Petrobras had to have at least 30% share in any operation. Why it matters: Firstly, we need to move away from fossil fuels & focus on clean, renewable energy. Secondly, Brazil hasn’t even began to scratch the surface of the graft & inefficiency issues that led to the Petrobras scandal & the arrest of dozens of senior government officials. Allowing more players onto the field before figuring out how to reform the game will only create more graft/corruption opportunities.
- #GoodStoryFriday Researchers at Washington & Vanderbilt Universities identified a human antibody that prevents a fetus from becoming infected with the Zika virus & damage the placenta. The study was conducted on pregnant mice, proving in principle that Zika during pregnancy is treatable. The antibody also seems to protect adult mice from the Zika virus. Why it matters: A vaccine against Zika is on the way & most likely will protect not only adults but also fetuses from Zika as this study suggests. Zika-related birth defects like microcephaly are estimated to cost >$10 million in lifetime care for the patient. The ability to treat & even prevent the infection of fetuses in current & future pregnancies will truly be a triumph.
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