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DGI Brief - Dec 22, 2016

Happy Thursday. Today's top 3 global issues #news are about #Japan the #Arctic #Israel #Palestine:

- JAPAN: Prime Minister Abe approved a record $43.6 billion defense budget including funds for maritime law enforcement personnel & equipment, stating the need to better respond to China & North Korea. Why it matters: The threats are real – North Korea gets closer to nuclear missiles every day while China’s aggression in the disputed South China Sea territory is making the entire continent nervous. Military buildup is not a good signal of what’s to come. Even though regional war is in nobody’s interest, there are far too many autocratic, even despotic leaders at the verge of snapping. We need to engage – in trade, development, culture, common solutions to global issues, & many other different kinds of cooperation to avoid conflict at all costs.

- Scientists are forecasting gusts of warm air >20C hotter than usual to hit parts of the ARCTIC this week, some of which will top 0C & thus melt the most important sea-ice that is key to keeping temperatures low, sea levels from rising & rare extreme weather events from becoming common. Why it matters: This ‘midwinter warming’ is happening for the 2nd consecutive year in the Arctic, coinciding with record low sea-ice levels. Mankind-caused carbon emissions are speeding up global warming & these extreme average temperatures will continue to wreak havoc – extreme weather patterns, new migration patterns in animals, mass starvation, habitat changes/die-off. These are doomsday events yet we can still reverse many of these trends!!

- ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Just few hours before a UN Security Council vote on a resolution that would condemn the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank & east Jerusalem, Egypt postponed the vote indefinitely. Why it matters: Israeli pressure is said to have won again. Most of the international community, including USA, consider the Israeli settlements illegitimate & have voiced its condemnations frequently. Although USA is Israel’s top ally, it was considering taking a stand through this particular vote. The resolution would have been ‘symbolic’ in its limited power as international law but it would have also given Palestine a strong leverage in any future peace negotiations. With the vote on hold indefinitely & President-elect Trump selecting a pro-settlements supporter as his Ambassador to Israel, peace in the Middle East seems more distant once again. Not to mention the uncertainty of alliances & foreign policy positions.

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