30 April 2016   Leave a comment

Some things are unpredictable, but may be much more likely than we think.  We are familiar with many threats, such as a car accident, but the probability of dying in a car accident is actually quite low.  What we do not usually consider is a catastrophic event.  But history is full of catastrophic events, such as the Plagues of the 1300s or the “Great Plague of Justinian” which killed between 13 and 17% of the human population in 541-42 CE.  Those catastrophic events killed millions of people and, over time, the number of people killed in such events is huge raising the probability of dying to a much larger number than the more common ways of dying.  In some sense, we are way overdue for such events, although they still remain unpredictable.

Thousands of Iraqi protesters. followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have stormed into the Iraqi Parliament in the heavily fortified “Green Zone” of Baghdad.  Demonstrations have been going on for months as the Parliament has refused to consider the reform measures introduced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi.  The Iraqi government seems to be incapable of handling the demands of the competing groups in Iraq, even as it is trying to address the insurgency of Daesh (the Islamic State).  It is doubtful that the government will fall any time soon, but it also appears as if nothing substantive can be accomplished by the current government.

The Philippines is holding a national election on 9 May and one of the prominent candidates to succeed President Benigno Aquino is Rodrigo Duterte, who some regard as a Donald Trump-like figure.  Duterte was the mayor of the city of Davao which was once a nearly lawless city and is now almost completely peaceful and well-managed.  Duterte’s tactics, however, leave a lot to be desired: vigilante groups conducted many assassinations of suspected criminals and Duterte seems comfortable working outside of legal frameworks.


Posted May 1, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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