Here’s a roundup of some of the bigger stories out there of interest to preparedness-minded readers. If we’ve missed any vital links, please let us know in the comments.
Hong Kong on the edge
The situtation in Hong Kong escalated sharply this week, as the protests turned violent.
Some key developments:
- CNBC Beijing Bureau Chief Eunice Yoon reports: “Police confirm evacuating mainland #China university students from #HongKong by boat. Other students on social media say taking taxis, volunteer private cars to catch trains to nearby mainland city Shenzhen. SZ Communist Party youth league offering them free room/board.”
- Yoon herself speculated that the students were just leaving at the request of concerned parents, but there are other reports to the effect that the evacuation was mandatory and came from Chinese authorities.
- Bloomberg reports that the Hong Kong banks are hunkering down: “Hong Kong Banks Tell Staff: Cancel Meetings, Watch Family, Be Safe”
- Schools are closed. CBNC: “Citywide protests disrupt Hong Kong as students barricade campuses”
- The US Senate is fast-tracking the proposed “Hong Kong Human Rights and Decency Act“. Contact your senator if you want to support it.
- Bonus link: the image gallery in this CNN article may be the most dystopian thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s incredibly moving.
What it means: There are many worries that a Tiannamen-style crackdown is imminent. It’s very possible that such a crackdown will differ from Tiannamen Square in one important respect, though: Tiannamen was televised, but we may well see a Kashmir-style internet blackout hit the peninsula before anything truly serious goes down.
Hong Kong is a major global financial center, and any substantial shutdown of the city could rattle global markets. This being the case, you might think that watching the markets for a big sell-off would give you a heads-up that something bad is imminent, but don’t count on it. Markets are not great at forecasting politically-driven event risk, and in this particular case everything depends on what a few people in the Chinese Communist Party decide. That makes it difficult for relevant insider information to leak to trading desks ahead of events, so the markets may not give much of a heads-up before a dramatic escalation, there.
Two cases of deadly pneumonic plague surface in China
The pneumonic plague, the cause of the “Black Death” that decimated Medieval Europe, is one of the deadliest bacterial infections known. The infection spreads via the air by droplets from coughs and sneezes. Two people are being treated for plague in a hospital in Beijing, and this on the heels of two plague infections in Mongolia back in May.
- The disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics if you get to it early enough.
- We typically have about seven cases of plague reported per year in the US (often in rural places with prairie dogs, such as CO and AZ), so it’s not unheard of over here.
- Medical experts put the chances of a plague pandemic at close to zero.
- Right now, the only thing concerning to health experts is the lack of communication from the Chinese government.
There are number of climate-related stories in the news right now, so consider this a mini-roundup within the news roundup:
- The city of Venice faces from the highest tide in 50 years, and the mayor blames climate change.
- Eleven thousand scientists warn of a “climate emergency” and “untold suffering” if we don’t act, soon. CNN has more
- Climate Change Is Breaking Open America’s Nuclear Tomb
- Why Climate Change Poses A Particular Threat To Child Health
- Climate Change May Be Blowing Up Arms Depots
- Climate change may be behind fall of ancient empire, say researchers