This week's biggest headline:

Tornadoes tear through Tennessee, Greek police teargas toddlers, and the economy is headed for a global recession. Plus coronavirus passes 100k confirmed cases with over 3,400 dead.

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Asteroid Impact

An asteroid 2.5 miles wide and travelling 20,000 mph will pass by earth in April, but it's not on course for a collision. It will miss us by around four million miles. The asteroid is on a continuous orbit around the solar system, and its closest predicted approach will happen in 2079. It will pass less than 1 million miles from earth.

Civil Unrest

Americans have been warned not to travel to Haiti due to a spike in kidnappings there.

Panicked coronavirus shoppers are overwhelming survivalist stores, and Australians are knife fighting over loo roll. Many online and brick and mortar shops are facing month-long backorders.

As of Wednesday, on eBay, 12 boxes of 20 surgical masks were being sold for $5,000 and a bundle of about a dozen hand sanitizer bottles was going for $3,500.

Everyone who has prepped ahead of time is feeling very smug.

Thousands of refugees and migrants are trying to enter Greece through its eastern land border with Turkey after Ankara pulled its security forces. Greek riot police there are using tear gas and water cannons on the families. There are currently 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey seeking asylum.

Epidemic Disease

COVID-19 fatalities blew by 3,400 this week with over 100k confirmed cases worldwide. The hardest-hit countries:
  • China - 3,042 deaths
  • Italy - 148
  • Iran - 124
  • South Korea - 42
  • The USA - 14
American leadership has come under specific criticism for its delayed and insufficient response to the outbreak with apparent prioritisation of the economy over the epidemic (see Rick Santelli below).
  • How coronavirus is likely to play out and what to do about it - link
  • An inexpensive gadget you probably don't know about that could save your children's lives - link
  • We're giving away $100 to prep for the outbreak - link
  • A measles outbreak has been devastating Central African Republic since early 2019. There have been over 7,600 cases and 83 confirmed deaths. 72% of those were under five years old. More than 40% of children in CAR aren't properly vaccinated.

    Extreme Weather

    Eight tornadoes hit Tennessee Monday night and Tuesday morning. Twenty-five people were killed, including five children. As of Thursday morning, there were still more than 18,000 people without power in Nashville with another 5,000+ elsewhere.

    You can donate to the emergency fund here if you'd like.

    Financial Collapse

    The shock that coronavirus has wrought on markets across the world coincides with a dangerous financial backdrop marked by spiralling global debt. Worldwide, debt outweighs GDP by over 3:1, and reducing interest rates further, as many central banks did this week, will exacerbate the problem.

    Further, supply chain and demand-side shocks caused by coronavirus are very likely to send the world into a global recession in the second half of 2020.

    A canary in the recession coal mine, British airline FlyBe went into administration this week. The airline industry projects losses of over $100B, and it'll hardly be the virus's only casualty.

    These two elements together -- unsustainable debt and a global recession -- are very likely to make for a painful 2021 - 2025.

    This is a very stupid idea.

    Global War

    Syria, Turkey, and Russia stepped back from the brink this week, calling a ceasefire, while Washington struck a (bad) deal to finally leave Afghanistan.

    North Korea's Kim Jong Un appears to have stepped back from the negotiating table completely, launching two short-range missiles into the sea this week.

    Sea Level Rise

    Over half the world's sandy beaches could disappear due to sea-level rise by 2100 if no changes are made to greenhouse gas emissions. Even best-case scenarios show a 37% decrease.

    Replenishing the most endangered beaches by pumping sand onto them – a process called “coastal nourishment” – could cost USD$65–220 billion in total, but that’s still less than one-fifth of the economic cost of taking no action at all on sea level rise. It could reduce land loss by up to 14%, lower the number of people that might be forced to migrate by up to 68%, and shrink the cost of forced migration by up to 85% by 2100.

    Supervolcano

    Yellowstone's volcano was hit by 222 earthquakes in February, including three large swarm events.

    However, none of these earthquakes is signs of increased activity at the supervolcano.

    Instead, the USGS said: “Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region.

    “Yellowstone earthquake activity remains at background levels.”

    So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

    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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