As always when looking at the headlines, you’re going to see a lot of bad stuff happening. That’s because, in general, the positive isn’t news. Building things up takes time; disasters happen in moments. So here’s a quick reminder that things aren’t as bad as they appear at first glance.
That’s at the top because this week’s headlines are pretty spectacularly grim, by and large, and it’s important to note that this should be taken in the larger context — which is that the world’s pretty quiet right now, all things considered.
Here’s what’s not quiet:
– A series of explosions, one truly massive, caused vast destruction across the city of Beirut in Lebanon. Thousands are injured and the death toll continues to climb as recovery and treatment efforts continue. Aid is continuously arriving from around the world, supplied by nations as diverse as Iran, Israel, Syria, Russia, France, and the United States.
– YouTube shut down 2500 channels linked to an organized Chinese disinformation effort aimed against the United States. Further efforts have been made against Iranian and Russian actors. An unofficial comment from an unnamed insider indicates that investigations were only slightly hampered due to the deliberate indiscretions of certain members of Congress, who issued a public statement in advance of the effort for political reasons.
– SpaceX prototype SN5 performed a short “hop” in a launch test at the construction facility in Texas. The goal was to test basic takeoff and landing capabilities for the new design, which is intended to be mostly reusable. The test was completely successful, and comes hard on the heels of the first successful splashdown of the SpaceDragon crew module after its visit to the International Space Station.
– Highly successful Vine artist and YouTuber Jake Paul, known for his dangerous and frequently illegal stunts, had his mansion raided by the FBI over what appears to be involvement in a looting at an Arizona mall earlier this year, for which local charges were dropped earlier the same day — or, perhaps, over an occurrence at a COVID house party. (It’s hard to say why the F.B.I. goes anywhere these days. -Editor) No word yet on whether the raid video will be released.
– Leaked documents from the U.N. Security Council state that multiple nations now believe North Korea has completed development of the miniaturization technology necessary to place nuclear warheads on its missiles. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is publicly pursuing uranium centrifuge processing technology, and the United Arab Emirates have brought their first nuclear power plant online — presumably because solar power is so inefficient there at the equator.
– Reuters revealed that classified U.S./U.K. trade documents leaked just before the last U.K. parliamentary elections were done so by hackers working for a unit of Russian Intelligence, aimed at destabilizing their government. Shock and amazement from the international community was notable by its absence. However, SecState Mike Pompeo has announced a reward of up to $10 million for information on anyone working with foreign governments to influence the upcoming presidential elections.
– The Jalisco New Generation Cartel has defeated rival Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel in their turf war over Guanajuato, ending a year of violent conflict with the absorption of most of the surviving Rosa personnel and the arrest of former leader “El Marro”. The Rosas had waged a highly profitable war of theft and extortion against oil company Pemex resulting in the government’s recent successful crackdown. The Mexican Drug War claimed more than 11,000 lives last year and is on track toward a similar death toll this year. Think about that the next time you buy cocaine or heroin.
– Hong Kong has invoked a state of emergency in order to delay upcoming parliamentary elections, citing the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the beleaguered province. Critics cite anti-democracy as the true motivation. Both are considered plausible given the present situation. Meanwhile, an American member of the Cabinet is presently visiting Taiwan, presumably in order to foster peace and goodwill with the Chinese government.
– Protests around the world are destabilizing governments. Most are openly in response to local measures to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as global unemployment surges by the tens of millions. Zimbabwe, Peru, Iran, Kenya, China (in and out of Hong Kong), Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines, Germany, Serbia, Russia, Argentina, and until recently Lebanon are all experiencing severe unrest; food shortages are beginning to increase worldwide. Meanwhile, France.
– Ongoing conflict update: Of the top four wars in the world today, the ones in Afghanistan and Yemen are both quieting due to peace talks. The Syrian Civil War is continuing, and the Mexican Drug War is as violent as ever. In Africa, most of the brushfire wars are calming, but the Boko Haram insurgency is growing and the Sudan is becoming more violent, while the Libyan Civil War appears to be winding down.
– THIS JUST IN: Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been temporarily limited by management due to non-factual content in a re-Tweeted video. It’s a start.
– BREAKING: Last night, Ghislaine Maxwell once again did not commit suicide in her cell. She’s been imprisoned without bail for one month; her trial has been set for next July. Meanwhile, Epstein is still dead.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, and probably a bit more besides. As always, if there’s something we missed, please let us know.
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– Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court