Sentinel minutes for week #26/2024

Status:green

Forecasters did not anticipate events spiraling into global catastrophes this week.


Geopolitics

After a dismal debate performance, many are questioning whether Biden can be re-elected as President of the US. Meanwhile, tensions continue to mount between Israel and Hezbollah.

US

The chances of risk of a Trump Presidency are higher following the Trump-Biden debate. While many have called for Biden to step aside in favor of another candidate, it looks likely at this time that he will remain in the race, following a discussion with his family on Sunday. If Biden remains the Democratic candidate, the Sentinel team estimates the chance that he will win to be 33% (range, 25% to 41%). If a different candidate becomes the Democratic candidate, the team estimates the chance that that candidate will win to be 39% (range, 30% to 45%). Polymarket, a liquid prediction market, currently has Trump to win the election at 66%, and Biden to drop out at 35%.

A US ballistic missile submarine surfaced in the Norwegian Sea, in a “blunt signal to Russia.”

The NSA seeks to expand the Foreign Intelligenc Surveilance Act in a way that would allow increased surveillance of Americans’ communications.

The US has pledged its continuing, ironclad commitment to the security of the Philippines.

Russia

Putin said that Russia may resume deployment of intermediate range missiles.

Security officials blame a fire in a German factory in early May on Russian saboteurs.

Attacks on churches and synagogues in Russia’s mainly Muslim Dagestan province have resulted in at least 20 deaths.

Ukraine

Ukraine signed a security agreement with the EU, Lithuania and Estonia:

“The agreement with the EU lays out the bloc’s commitment to help Ukraine in nine areas of security and defence policy – including arms deliveries, military training, defence industry cooperation and demining, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

The pact – along with the documents signed with Lithuania and Estonia – is intended to complement other similar agreements sealed between Ukraine and its allies as it continues its defence against Russia’s invasion.

Countries including the United States, Britain, France and Germany have sealed such pacts with Kyiv.”

The US plans to send air defense missiles to Ukraine. While these won’t end the war, it will help Ukraine defend against Russian attacks.

The EU has launched membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova.

EU

The EU has given Microsoft a large fine over antitrust issues concerning its Teams app.

NATO

The outgoing PM of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, has been chosen to be the next head of NATO.

Finland, Norway and Sweden are developing an arctic military transportation corridor. Such efforts will play an important role in NATO defenses against Russia.

Taiwan

Taiwan warns against travel to China after China threatens to execute Taiwanese independence supporters.

The annual wargames in Taiwan, which will start later this month, will mimic combat as closely as possible.

Middle East

The chance of substantial military hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah remains high. The Sentinel team estimates that the chance that at least three Israeli tanks will have rolled into Lebanon by the end of August is 65% (range, 58% to 70%).

Iran warns Israel of an obliterating war if it attacks Lebanon. Our team thinks this is more of a bluff than a realistic threat.

Thousands of fighters from Iranian proxy groups have said that they are ready to join up with Hezbollah in any fight with Israel. If a large number of foreign fighters were to join a prospective fight between Hezbollah and Israel, this could pose a greater challenge to Israel.

Germany and Northern Macedonia are urging their citizens to leave Lebanon.

The US has placed sanctions on a shadow banking network that helps to fund Iran’s military.

North Korea

Following its recent defense agreement with Russia, North Korea is allegedly preparing to send engineering forces to Donetsk in Ukraine.

South Korea announced that North Korea likely tested a hypersonic missile that exploded in flight.

China

The US and China resumed semi-formal nuclear talks in March, for the first time in 5 years.

China’s Communist Party expelled two former defense ministers for corruption, as part of a broader crackdown on corruption.

Canada is considering imposing tariffs on Chinese EVs.

A lunar probe launched by China has successfully returned with rock and soil samples from the far side of the moon. This mission illustrates China’s increasing capacity for technical achievement.

Kenya

Thousands of people protesting tax increases stormed the Parliament of Kenya. The assault on the Parliament building occurred as part of days of protests against the new tax hikes. Taxes were increased in large part to finance Kenya’s foreign debt, most of which is owed to China.

Sudan

Extreme hunger continues in Sudan. Over 75,000 people in Sudan are at risk of starvation.

Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 23 people died in militia attacks on several villages in the DRC.

Niger

At least 20 soldiers and one civilian have bene killed as a result of an attack by a jihadist insurgency in Niger.

Bolivia

A military coup attempt failed in Bolivia. The general who led the attack and dozens of others have been arrested in the aftermath.

Haiti

Kenyan police arrived in Haiti as part of a UN-backed security mission to help address a loss of governmental control and growing violence.

Artificial Intelligence

Dario Amodei, CEO of Anthropic, commented on Nicolai Tangen’s podcast that AGI is likely 1-3 years away, and that AI poses a catastrophic risk that could also be 1-3 years away. Meanwhile, his company is aiming to build an AGI. Sentinel team members take this assessment to mean that he thinks there is approximately a 10% to 60% chance that AGI will be achieved in 1-3 years.

However, powering all these new AI developments requires a lot of electricity. The increasing amount of electricity required for AI is expected to strain power generation and the transition to renewable energy.

Biological Risks

H5N1, a.k.a. “bird flu,” continues to spread in dairy farms in the US. So far, it has not been detected in beef herds in the US or in dairy herds in other countries.

H5N1 isn’t the only flu virus that poses a pandemic risk to humans. A new laboratory study warns of a potential pandemic risk from one genetic group of swine H1N2 viruses. The US CDC reported this week that two people in Pennsylvania who attended a pig auction were recently diagnosed with variant H1N2 (H1N2v) infections; how closely related the strains that infected these people were to the strains in the research study is not known. One of the infected individuals was hospitalized, and one was not. Swine flu viruses pose a particular risk to humans because pigs can serve as a “mixing vessel” for flu strains from different species and because pigs have a lot of the receptors that human flu viruses bind to. The 2009 flu pandemic was started by a swine flu virus.

Miscellanea

ISIS groups want to strike targets within Europe and the US. One or more terrorist attacks is possible this summer, and events with large attendance will obviously be particularly attractive to these groups. Euro 24 and Champions League soccer matches and the Olympics in Paris are being targeted; an attack at a soccer match was also recently thwarted. CNN reports that, “senior intelligence officials have been publicly warning that global conditions have put the risk of a terror attack on US soil at its highest level in recent memory. … Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell this week co-wrote a widely circulated piece in Foreign Affairs warning that terrorism warning lights are “blinking red,” echoing a recent warning by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said he sees “blinking lights everywhere I turn.””

The Saudi Arabian health minister said that the death toll during this year’s hajj was 1,301.

The US Department of Justice has charged 193 people with $2.75B in healthcare fraud.

Scroll to Top