The Danger of North Korea: A Case of Boy Who Cried Wolf

A military parade taking place in North Korea.

A North Korean military parade.
Photo credit: Astrelok / Shutterstock

Today, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. warned that tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are at an all-time low.

“The crisis on the Korean peninsula is real—the worst I’ve seen,” Harris stated. “There is some doubt within the intelligence community whether Kim Jong Un has that capability today or whether he will soon, but I have to assume he has it, the capability is real, and that he’s moving towards it.”

But despite grave warnings from top U.S. military officials, a significant portion of Americans remain unconcerned about the conflict. A recent poll conducted by AOL News revealed that 36% of Americans are not fearful about a North Korea attack at all.

Why?

Because this isn’t the first time that North Korea has threatened to “destroy” the United States. In the past 11 years alone, North Korea has carried out a total of five nuclear tests and war hasn’t broken out yet. On top of that, top government officials keep reassuring the public that North Korea doesn’t yet have the capacity to launch a nuclear warhead that could reach the U.S.

Key word: “yet.”

And that’s precisely the point that Harris is trying to make. He argues that North Korean nuclear warheads are not a matter of “if” but “when.”

“Kim Jong Un is making progress and all nations need to take this seriously because their missiles point in all directions,” Harris warned. “If left unchecked, they will match the capability of his hostile rhetoric.”

On top of that, reports are surfacing that the U.S. may not have the proper resources to defend against a nuclear attack. But despite all of this worrisome evidence, 36% Americans simply aren’t concerned because North Korea has made these types of threats in the past. Kim Jong Un has established a reputation for himself as being all bark, no bite.

But that’s precisely why he’s so dangerous. If Americans don’t start taking these threats seriously, they’ll be completely caught off guard and unprepared when North Korea does launch a strike. It’s a classic case of boy who cried wolf.

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How World War III Could Play Out

A computer generated image of a nuclear bomb explosion.

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Over the past few months, the U.S. has had quite a few heated exchanges with North Korea and Russia. If peace is not restored soon, there’s a strong possibility that World War III could break out. If it does, this is what is likely to happen.

North Korea, having very few allies, would likely team up with Russia in a united front against the U.S. Even though China and North Korea are technically allies, China would likely not become involved only because they don’t want to risk severing any ties with the U.S.

With that being said, it’s not very likely that China would act on behalf of the U.S., either. Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “peaceful resolution” to the North Korea crisis. Overall, it’s looking like China doesn’t want to be involved, period.

But things get more complicated, because while North Korea may not have very many allies, that doesn’t mean Russia doesn’t. One of Russia’s biggest allies is India. These two countries have had a very strong relationship for the past 50 years. Both have collaborated on military missions before, so it’s likely that India would have Russia’s back.

But Russia is also allied with Iran and Syria, both of which are not huge fans of the U.S. So as of now, it’s looking like Russia, India, North Korea, Iran, and Syria would team up.

But the U.S. has some close allies too, namely the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Israel, and the Philippines. And although the U.S. has bigger and stronger allies, there would still be a lot of bloodshed. Millions of people would die. Both sides would suffer.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said it best, “Multiple parties will lose and no one will win.” It would not be a pretty sight, that’s for sure.

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Malaysia Ranks 2nd in Southeast Asia and 26th Globally for Tourism

A photo of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

A photo of Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The World Economic Forum is a Swiss-based nonprofit organization that gathers information related to global finance. Each year, they publish the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

This year’s report revealed that Malaysia is number two among nine Southeast Asian countries for tourism income, losing out to Singapore and followed by Thailand and Indonesia. Overall, Malaysia came in 26th place out of the 136 countries included in the Index report. Those countries account for 98% of the world’s GDP.

In part, this index measured “sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector,” which includes international openness, prioritization of travel and tourism, the labor industry, health and hygiene, and safety and security. Malaysia saw 25 million arrivals in 2015, and has seen growth due to airline connections, low prices, and beautiful natural resources. Those are key to maintaining its growth, especially the protection and preservation of those natural resources.

Tourism is a crucial source of income for many nations around the world, as the globe becomes increasingly interconnected via travel and the Internet. With more people visiting foreign countries each year, and travel prices becoming generally more accessible, this is going to be a continuing trend. People are more interested in traveling to other countries, something which was once the domain of the rich, but which is increasingly within the hands of the world’s middle class.

With that increased emphasis on tourism in the global market comes an increased attention to it within various nations. Improved relations and a stronger focus on freedom of movement has probably benefited the world politically as well, and with economies shored up by trade, reduced resources in other forms are less of an issue. Tourism can help sustain local economies as well, provided that tourism is kept sustainable, and not reliant on flukes like hosting the Olympic Games.

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University of British Columbia Develops New Water Filtration System

African children reach their hands into clean drinking water that's coming from a hose.

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In the U.S., clean water is so plentiful and accessible that we tend to take it for granted. We often forget that there are some parts of the world where water is hard to come by. Untreated water sources are often polluted or otherwise contain dangerous bacteria. Without access to clean drinking water, the health and wellbeing of people living in remote or poor areas is significantly compromised.

There are a number of purification systems out there, so it’s not the ability to purify water that’s the problem–it’s the resources needed to do so. Filtration systems are generally expensive and require quite a bit of maintenance and upkeep, but a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a new system which is both cheap and requires little effort to maintain.

The filtration process starts with straining water through a film, which filters out most pollutants and debris. Afterward, the water is then run through a biofilm of beneficial bacteria that break down any remaining toxins. This simple two-step system removes up to 99.99% of contaminants.

This is the first system that uses gravity to remove contaminants from water, which makes it easier to operate since complex mechanical processes aren’t involved. Additionally, there are only a few valves that need to be operated each day in order to ensure the proper functioning of the system.

Researchers plan to test the new system in remote areas in Canada first. But since the project was funded in part by the Canadian-Indian organization IC-IMPACTS, it’s likely that the system will be tested in India as well.

If proven to be successful, the system can be dispersed to poor and rural areas throughout the world. It’s pretty exciting to know that a significant portion of the world could have access to safe drinking water soon.

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Offshore vs. Onshore: Are We Heading for Another Oil Crisis?

A businessman in a suit clutching a yellow construction hat. There are oil drills in the background.

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It’s been a rough year for the offshore oil drilling market, with investments way down and interest turning to short-cycle supplies that peter out quickly but provide returns more quickly. With 90% of the global supply still in long-cycle oil projects, however, it’s imperative that these projects get the investments they need. If they don’t, Hess Corporation CEO John Hess suggests we’re headed for a significant future gap between supply and demand.

Hess Corporation, whose board includes energy experts such as Marc Lipschultz and James Quigley, is like many modern energy companies in that it has its fingers in many pies. Unlike many of its contemporaries, however, Hess is still concerned with its longer term investments, including offshore drilling.

“While the spotlight has been on shale, the lights are off on offshore deep water assets,” said Hess at this year’s CERAWeek in Houston. “We’re not investing enough to keep the offshore development pipeline full, and that’s going to start showing itself three [to] five years from now.”

To combat this potential problem, Hess Corp. is diversifying its investments. “We’re investing through the cycle,” Hess explained. “While most people don’t think that offshore can make economic sense at these prices, there are exceptions, and we’re very fortunate to have one of those exceptions in offshore Guyana.”

Hess Corp.’s Guyana investment is a 30% ownership of the Exxon-operated Liza discovery offshore Guyana, which is viable at $40/barrel. This discovery has been confirmed as one of the largest in the world in the last 10 years.

In addition, Hess Corp. continues to develop its other offshore investments in the North Malay Basin of Malaysia and Stampede in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico. These are expected to come online in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

In general, however, the market is turning toward short term projects that produce higher yields more quickly. Chevron, for example, is focusing on shale and subsea tie-backs, though they haven’t completely gone off long-cycle offshore fields—deepwater assets still make up 10% of Chevron’s overall portfolio. The trouble is that the market is far from certain, and the expenses involved in short term oil projects are far less than those of long term offshore drilling, which can take years to show returns.

While the future of the offshore market remains unsteady, the companies involved are making an effort to stay viable and on the cutting edge. Noble recently partnered with General Electric to create a data-driven product that will increase efficiency for offshore rigs, potentially making the process more financially appealing. The product is set to be tested in a fleet pilot program on four Noble drilling rigs. The manufacturers are estimating that they’ll see a 20% reduction in repair and maintenance expenditures as well as gains from drilling processes and predictive asset management.

Given the current fluctuations in the market, it remains to be seen whether or not these innovations and warnings be enough to prevent a potential future oil crisis.

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