Most people think the world is more dangerous today than it was two years ago as concerns rise over politically motivated violence and weapons of mass destruction, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
Six out of ten respondents to the survey, commissioned by the Global Challenges Foundation, said the dangers had increased, with conflict and nuclear or chemical weapons seen as more pressing risks than population growth or climate change.
Japan hit by worst weather disaster in decades: Why did so many die?
Torrential rains unleashed floods and set off landslides in western Japan last week, killing at least 176 people, forcing millions to evacuate and leaving dozens missing in the country's worst weather disaster in 36 years.Below are some reasons for the high death toll.EXTREME WEATHERRemnants of Typhoon Prapiroon fed into a seasonal rainy weather front fuelled by warm air from the Pacific Ocean - a pattern similar to one that caused flooding in southwestern Japan exactly a year ago that killed dozens on people.The recent rainfall was unprecedented and disaster experts said torrential rains are becoming more frequent, possibly due to global warming."The government is just starting to realise that it needs to take steps to mitigate the impact of global warming," said Takashi Okuma, an emeritus professor at Niigata University who studies disasters.RISK AWARENESSMunicipalities in Japan have been required since 2001 to create and publicise "hazard maps" showing the risk of flooding and landslides. By 2013, 95 percent of municipalities had produced flood hazard maps and 81 percent for landslides, according to the land ministry.However, experts say many homes in Japan were built in risky areas before the 2001 requirement to distribute hazard maps.Kurashiki city in Okayama prefecture, where the Mabi district was especially hard hit by this week's floods, distributed a hazard map in 2016, the Yomiuri newspaper said.Seoul denies forcing North Koreans to defectDespite orders and advisories to evacuate, which may have been issued too late, some residents appear to have ignored the warnings because they did not know where to go or how to get to safety.Asked if he knew he lived in a designated risk area, Kenji Ishii, a 57-year-old resident of Mabi district, said: "I'm afraid I did not know that very well".QUAKES NOT FLOODS Japan, one of the most seismically-active places in the world, has stressed earthquake preparedness and regulations to make buildings quake-proof, but it has done less about potential flood disasters, said Okuma from Niigata University.After several smaller disasters in recent years, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has drafted plans to improve flood control and evacuation planning.LAND USEThe government monitors weather conditions and issues early warnings, but the nation remains vulnerable to disasters because much of the country outside major cities is mountainous and construction takes place on virtually every bit of usable land.Reforestation policies after World War Two saw many mountains logged and replanted with trees that have roots that are less able to retain water. That has contributed to the danger of landslides, which accounted for many of the deaths in this latest disaster.
The results come as NATO leaders prepare to meet in Brussels on Wednesday amid growing tensions between the United States and fellow members over defence spending, which some fear could damage morale and play into the hands of Russia.
"It's clear that our current systems of global cooperation are no longer making people feel safe," said Mats Andersson, vice chairman of the Global Challenges Foundation, in a statement.
Trump seen likely to support NATO's Article 5 but wants more spending
President Donald Trump will likely declare U.S. support for NATO’s mutual defense doctrine while pressing for increased spending commitments from NATO allies at a high-stakes summit in Brussels, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.Trump arrived in Brussels on Tuesday night for what is shaping up to be an unpredictable day of talks on Wednesday with North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders given his volatile attitude toward allies he believes are not contributing enough to the collective defense.Erdoğan to attend 2-day NATO summit in BrusselsHe spent hours on Air Force One on the flight to Brussels debating with aides how to cajole NATO allies into contributing more defense spending to the alliance, the official said.Shortly before landing, Trump fired off a tweet expressing his frustration."Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?" he said in one tweet.EU's Tusk's riposte to Trump: respect the allies you haveUnder a 2014 agreement, each member state is required to boost military spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024. But NATO diplomats say only two-thirds of the 28 allies, excluding the United States, have a realistic plan to hit that level by then. The United States spent 3.57 percent of GDP on defense in 2017.Still, the administration official said, Trump would likely reiterate U.S. support for the NATO treaty's Article 5, a provision that means an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all of them.Trump alarmed allies during a visit to Brussels last year when he did not specifically mention U.S. backing for Article 5, but aides said later that U.S. support was assumed and did not have to be mentioned.The official said Trump was going into the NATO summit looking for commitments from allies to increase their defense spending and that his reaction was dependent on “how the morning goes” in his initial meetings with NATO leaders."You can expect to hear a lot about that – other countries taking on a bigger role and doing more," the official said.MEETINGS WITH MAY, PUTINAfter his meeting with NATO leaders, Trump is scheduled to visit London for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, days after her Cabinet was hit by two major resignations over the Brexit issue. He will then sit down next Monday in Helsinki for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who U.S. officials believe would like to exploit divisions within NATO.The issues on the table when Trump and Putin meet"So I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?" Trump told reporters in Washington before departing.Many members of Congress, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, have sought to reassure allies nervous about some of Trump's statements, that there is still strong support in Washington for traditional allies like the country's NATO partners.U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped Trump avoided a repeat of his G7 summit in Quebec City, when his demands on reducing trade surpluses with the United States prompted a bitter debate with allies.“I hope that the right signals are sent to NATO in advance. I hope that nothing like what happened at G7 occurs,” Corker told Reuters.
Andersson said turbulence between NATO powers and Russia, ongoing conflict in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine and nuclear tensions with North Korea and Iran were making people feel unsafe.
A separate survey commissioned by the Global Challenges Foundation after North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un met U.S. President Donald Trump found the talks reassuring.
Israel releases seven passengers of Gaza flotilla
Israel on Wednesday released seven passengers of a Palestinian humanitarian flotilla that was attempting to break a years-long blockade of Gaza.The flotilla was intercepted by Israeli naval forces on Tuesday.Raed Abu Dair, coordinator of Gaza’s National Committee for Breaking the Siege, told Anadolu Agency that all of the boat’s passengers except the captain and his assistant were released.Stating that those released arrived in Gaza by passing through the city of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, he called on international organizations to obtain information on the condition of the captain and assistant.Israeli navy intercepts humanitarian flotilla from GazaEarlier, Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee said the boat, which had been carrying eight passengers, was “stopped without incident”.Adraee said that after being searched, the vessel and its passengers would be taken to Israel’s Port of Ashdod.He had gone on to defend what he described as Israel’s “naval cordon” on Gaza, calling it “necessary and legal…for maintaining Israel’s security and its maritime borders”.Freedom flotillaThe flotilla set out from the Gaza coast earlier Tuesday in hopes of breaking Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.It was the second humanitarian flotilla to set out from Gaza since Palestinians first began holding rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence on March 30 this year.An earlier flotilla which set out from Gaza on May 29 carrying Palestinian medical patients and university students was likewise intercepted.Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered under a crippling Israeli blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.Since March 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire and thousands more have been injured while taking part in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and its ongoing blockade, which has brought the impoverished Gaza Strip to the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Less than a third of the nearly 5,000 respondents reported feeling less concerned about weapons of mass destruction.
"War is more likely," said Dr Patricia Lewis, director of international security at the think tank Chatham House. "We have a great deal of instability and that is so often a precursor to wars."
"Two large powers are disrupting the established rules. We saw the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and we see the U.S. starting a trade war, ripping up agreements which the rest of us are trying to abide by," said Lewis.
Death toll climbs to 20 in suicide bombing in NW Pakistan
Death toll from Tuesday's suicide bombing targeting an election rally in northwestern Pakistan rose to 20, officials said Wednesday.The bombing took place on Tuesday evening in Yakatoot area in the city of Peshawar, where the Awami National Party (ANP), a local nationalist party, was holding a rally.“Apparently it was a suicide attack and the bomber blew himself up near [candidate] Haroon Bilour,” Atiq Shah, a local police officer, told reporters.Bilour, a provincial assembly candidate for the July 25 general elections, died after being transported to the Lady Reading Hospital in critical condition.Eight of the injured succumbed to their wounds last night, raising the initially reported death toll of 12, Lady Reading hospital spokesman Zulfiqar Babakhel told Anadolu Agency.Some 63 injured are still seeking treatment in the hospital, he added.The Election Commission of Pakistan has postponed the election on provincial assembly seat PK-78 after the assasination of ANP candidate.Haroon Bilour was the son of Bashir Bilour, a prominent ANP leader and former senior minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, who was also killed in a 2012 suicide attack.In a statement Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a "revenge" for the former ANP government in the province.All the major military operations against the TTP were carried out in Swat, Dir and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during ANP's rule in 2008-2013.The attack follows a roadside bomb going off near an election rally in Bannu district last week, injuring seven people, including a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) provincial assembly candidate.Peshawar borders the Khyber Agency, once a stronghold of Pakistani militants. The area was cleared after military operation last July, and Pakistan’s army says hundreds of militants fled to border areas of Afghanistan.Pakistani authorities claimed that those who fled from Pakistani tribal areas established hideouts in Afghanistan’s Kunar, Noristan and Nangrahar provinces, from where they carry out attacks in Pakistan.Last month Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Kunar province.
Founded to deter the Soviet threat in 1949, NATO is based on deep cooperation with the United States, which provides for Europe's security with its nuclear and conventional arsenals.
It has found renewed purpose since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, sending battalions to the Baltics and Poland to deter potential Russian incursions.
The survey findings are based on responses from more than 10,000 people in 10 countries surveyed by polling firm ComRes in April this year.
The Global Challenges Foundation promotes discussion of the greatest threats to humanity - issues that could wipe out more than 10 percent of the population - in order to find solutions.