Weekly Briefing – 14 February 2020

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Weekly Briefing – 14 February 2020
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This week, we analyzed 2,243 pieces of intelligence traffic to bring you the most important 38 things you need to know right now to make sure you don’t get caught out when the SHTF.

This week’s biggest headline:

COVID-19, nee The Wuhan Coronavirus, has now killed 1,384 people with over 64,000 confirmed cases.
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Asteroid Impact
The 1km asteroid we briefed on last week should pass 0.03AU from the earth tomorrow, 15th February. Fingers crossed for a near miss or impact, depending on how you feel about things at the moment.

There are seven more headed for earth in 2020, and we’ll keep an eye on all of them.
Civil Unrest
Riots continued in Lebanon as the parliament attempted to pass key legislation. More than 150 have been injured.

Meanwhile, eight people were killed, dozens hurt and property burned during clashes in southern Kazakhstan,

Lots of reporting this week about instability in China given the fallout from COVID-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus), but there was a particularly interesting piece taking a more macro look. China’s rapid growth has reduced poverty and produced prosperity — as well as skyrocketing inequality, ecological catastrophe, and dangerous financial bubbles. The economy is powerful…but deeply vulnerable.
This is super bad.
It’s not only the world’s second-biggest economy that’s facing significant macro headwinds due to inequality. 

A number of data points this week reveal how massive economic inequality has become in the United States, how it is getting worse, and how it prices out millions of Americans from housing in good times, and even more in bad times, such as the Great Recession.

This inequality will destabilise many of the world’s largest economies in the 2020s.
Epidemic Disease
This week we launched our daily COVID-19 briefing, which goes into quite a lot of depth about the epidemic. If you’ve not received it or just missed it, you can view today’s here. And you can sign up here.

Here are this week’s coronavirus highlights (lowlights?)
  • Cases spiked yesterday, but it’s due to the Chinese government defining the illness more broadly.
  • Six healthcare workers in China have died from the virus
  • Tests for the disease appear to be returning false negatives; patients in several countries are having up to six negative results before finally being diagnosed.
  • Some countries are starting to report shortages of generic drugs manufactured in China.
  • The US confirmed its 15th case of COVID-19
As of noon, UTC.
Very quietly, things are getting very bad in Nigeria as well.

Authorities say the number of suspected cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria increased from more than 700 to 1,708 as Lagos grapples with its silent epidemic. Over seventy have died this week.
Extreme Weather
Europe faces an increasing threat of floods, droughts, heavy rains and forest fires, the European Environment Agency warned on Monday, pointing to the need for countries to adapt and become aware of the consequences of climate change over the next few decades.
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Global War
Both Russia and Iran unveiled new weapons this week, a supersonic bomber, and a new ballistic missile, respectively.

China also found time to sell autonomous killer drones to the Middle East.

Perhaps the only semi-sensible voice in the room, the US Senate passed a bipartisan War Powers Resolution to curtail American President Trump’s ability to escalate hostilities with Iran. It won’t survive a  veto, though.
Learn how to make your own autonomous killer drone.
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Insufficient Clean Water
Climate breakdown and extreme weather are getting worse, we’re in the middle of the world’s sixth extinction crisis, and food and water shortages are affecting people all over the world. These threats are all serious on their own, but research shows that their combined effects could be even worse than the sum of their parts.
Gamma Ray Burst
For the first time, researchers discovered a gamma-ray burst in the region of a tera-electron-volt. That is 1,000,000,000,000 electron Volts for those scoring at home.
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Sea Level Rise
A new study has modelled future migration patterns in the US as the sea level continues to rise. While coastal areas are most directly affected by sea-level rise, many inland areas of the country will see the effects in the form of increased populations.

The East Coast, which has larger coastal population centers and shallower coastlines, will be more affected — especially in the Southeast. The study names New Orleans and Miami as two of the most vulnerable populations due to coastal flooding. 
Areas colored in blue are directly affected, areas in shades of purple are indirectly affected and areas in white are not affected. 
Here’s a link to some homes for sale in Denver.
Singularity
Superintelligent AI is still a long way away. 

The official Winograd Schema Challenge, organized to see if AI could learn common sense, was retired officially in 2016 for the embarrassing reason that even the well-funded bleeding age Google Brain team performed poorly on a test set of a few hundred questions.

Carter Hopkins

Carter is a former US Army Ranger, US Army intelligence officer, and counterintelligence officer with the Defence Intelligence Agency. He has a BA in Political Science from UCLA and an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown.

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