18 December 2017

Real Insight

  • A new technique in genetic engineering, CRISPR-Cas, offers both precision and the ability to modify the genome text at several places simultaneously. Photo: Internet

    The Holy Grail of genetic engineering

    - Dec 15, 2017 10:29am
    Since its introduction four decades ago, genetic engineering has been a source of high hopes for health, agriculture, and industry. But it has also provoked deep anxiety, not least owing to the laborious nature of the...
  • Among EU countries, average public debt increased from 73% of GDP in 2009 to 86% of GDP in 2016, far above the ceiling of 60% set by the Maastricht criteria. Photo: Bloomberg

    Surveying the damage of low interest rates

    - Dec 15, 2017 10:17am
    For years after the 2008 financial crisis, policymakers congratulated themselves for having averted a second Great Depression. They had responded to the global recession with the kind of Keynesian fiscal and monetary stimulus that the moment...
  • Fossil fuels, which currently meet more than 80% of the world's energy needs, will remain the backbone of global energy production for the foreseeable future. Photo: Bloomberg

    The myth of a fossil fuel phase-out

    - Dec 13, 2017 9:56am
    How the world uses energy is a hot topic for a warming planet, and fears of pollution and resource strain have produced a virtual arms race of energy-efficiency strategies. From the European Union to China, economies...
  • Those searching for solutions to bring non-communicable diseases under control should look for inspiration to the movement to fight AIDS. Photo: Reuters

    AIDS, NCDs, and the ABCs of organizing

    - Dec 12, 2017 9:40am
    Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, are responsible for 70 percent of all deaths. There is incontrovertible evidence that tobacco use, inactivity, unhealthy diets, and excessive alcohol consumption increase...
  • President Donald Trump ran in the election last year as a populist but he has governed as a plutocrat. Photo: Reuters

    Populist plutocracy and the future of America

    - Dec 12, 2017 9:23am
    Donald Trump won the US presidency with the backing of working-class and socially conservative white voters on a populist platform of economic nationalism. Trump rejected the Republican Party’s traditional pro-business, pro-trade agenda, and, like Bernie Sanders...
  • Emmanuel Macron will host world leaders to celebrate the gains of the Paris climate accord and lead efforts to raise funding for its initiatives. Photo: Reuters

    Climate-change fight returns to Paris

    - Dec 11, 2017 10:08am
    Nearly two years have passed since France’s then-foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, struck his gavel and declared: “The Paris agreement for the climate is accepted.” Next week, President Emmanuel Macron and the French government will host world...
  • Robotic arms assemble Tesla's Model 3 sedan. The World Economic Forum estimates that five million jobs across 15 developed countries will be lost to automation by 2020. Photo: Reuters

    Europe’s chance to lead on robotics and AI

    - Dec 8, 2017 9:30am
    At least since Mary Shelley created Victor Frankenstein and his iconic monster in 1818, humans have had a morbid fascination with man-made beings that could threaten our existence. From the American television adaptation of Westworld, which...
  • A robotic bartender mixes cocktails for guests. New technologies promise higher productivity and greater efficiency, but they also stoke fears about their effects on jobs, skills, and wages. Photo: Reuters

    Rage against the machine?

    - Dec 8, 2017 9:28am
    Intelligent machines are transforming the way we produce, work, learn, and live throughout the world. Almost every aspect of our economies will be radically altered. Major logistics companies and individual drivers are using new technologies to...
  • Globally, manufacturing jobs are on the decline, simply because productivity growth has outpaced growth in demand. Photo: Bloomberg

    The globalization of our discontent

    - Dec 6, 2017 9:30am
    Fifteen years ago, I published Globalization and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalization within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was “rigged”...
  • An Anti-Brexit protestor waves EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London on December 5. British politics in the age of Brexit has come to resemble a soap opera, says an observer. Photo: Reuters

    The Brexit tragicomedy

    - Dec 5, 2017 9:39am
    As the rest of the world looks on with a mixture of amusement and pity, British politics in the age of Brexit has come to resemble a soap opera. Can the chaos that is descending on...
  • A leaf rests on top of text at the New York City AIDS Memorial on World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Although the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen by almost half since peaking in 2005, there are still far too many people dying from this preventable conditi

    Four ways to beat HIV/AIDS

    - Dec 4, 2017 9:48am
    In the fight against HIV/AIDS, some stories illuminate the long road to global eradication more than others. In 2009, I heard one such story in Tanzania. I was visiting a remote village when I spoke to...
  • Rapidly rising obesity rates could slow or even reverse the dramatic gains in health and life expectancy that much of the world has enjoyed over the past few decades, experts warn. Photo: Bloomberg

    The US is exporting obesity

    - Dec 4, 2017 9:36am
    As US President Donald Trump’s administration throws sharp elbows in trade negotiations and systematically rescinds regulations introduced by President Barack Obama, one casualty is likely to be efforts to fight the global obesity epidemic. Left unchecked,...
  • Ending AIDS will require social – not just medical – breakthroughs. Photo: Reuters

    The right to health is universal

    - Dec 1, 2017 9:19am
    On this year’s World AIDS Day, on December 1, we should remember the 35 million people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and the 76 million who have been infected with HIV since reporting began. And...
  • No matter what the World Bank data show, universal financial inclusion for the world’s poorest remains a distant goal. Photo: Bloomberg

    Banking on the unbanked

    - Dec 1, 2017 9:03am
    In a sea of gloomy news, one bright headline appears on the horizon. The World Bank’s latest figures on individuals’ bank accounts, to be released next spring, are expected to show that the number of people...
  • Donald Trump is yet to display the seriousness of purpose and level of discipline that is required to solve the North Korea problem, critics say. Photo: Reuters

    Trump’s missing North Korea strategy

    - Nov 30, 2017 9:08am
    US President Donald Trump certainly has a point when he complains that he inherited the difficult problem in North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shown no interest in negotiation, or even in listening to...
  • Unless urgent steps are taken, ten million people could die from AMR-related illnesses every year by 2050, experts warn. Photo: Bloomberg

    Turning AMR words into action

    - Nov 28, 2017 9:11am
    It was Antibiotic Awareness Week earlier this month, and, as Chair of the UK government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) under Prime Minister David Cameron, I participated in a number of events to draw attention to...
  • Jobseekers use the internet services inside an employment agency in France. According to Eurostat, 10 million people across the EU's 28 member states were suffering from long-term unemployment in 2016. Photo: Bloomberg

    Putting Europe’s long-term unemployed back to work

    - Nov 27, 2017 9:01am
      Although the European Union is in the midst of an economic recovery, long-term unemployment – joblessness and job-seeking that lasts at least a year – remains stubbornly high in many of the countries that were...
  • In an effort to rally support for his tax bill, Donald Trump recently sought to invoke Ronald Reagan's tax initiatives of the 1980s. Photo: Reuters

    Reagan’s tax reforms revisited

    - Nov 27, 2017 8:40am
    Congressional Republicans must, President Donald Trump has commanded, pass their sweeping US tax bill by Christmas. Otherwise, they will have no major accomplishment to show for an entire year during which they have controlled the legislative...
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is well aware of corruption’s destructive potential – and has confronted the phenomenon head-on. Photo: Reuters

    The next battle in China’s war on corruption

    Nov 24, 2017 10:26am
    Corruption is a cancer to which no society is immune. It raised the death toll of Iran’s recent earthquake, owing to substandard housing construction 10 years ago. It has afflicted the United States Navy, which is...
  • An estimate of the market value of Boston’s property portfolio suggests that the city’s municipal real-estate alone is worth some US$55 billion. Photo: Bloomberg

    The hidden wealth of cities

    - Nov 24, 2017 10:08am
    The world is becoming increasingly urbanized, as more people are choosing to live in towns and cities than ever before. The trouble is, most urban areas are unprepared to manage the influx. Cities around the world...

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