Friday, September 19, 2014

Bad progressions

As of September 14, there were approximately 5400 cases of Ebola in West Africa and there have been 2600 deaths since the epidemic started.  These numbers are from reports on Google searches.  They could be just baseline numbers as it is unclear how well these cases and deaths are accounted for without any central control of the issue.  Country by country, statistics are kept and totaled, with what degree of accuracy is unknown.

At this point, there are projections of how these totals could evolve by year-end if current patterns are not disrupted.  The range of projections is wide, from 77,000 total cases by year-end to 277,000.  That would suggest a huge increase in the death totals as well.  Disruption cannot come too soon.

In May administration officials suggested that there were 10,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, with only 3,000 being part of the initial Iraq invasion force that routed portions of the supposed 200,000 strong Iraqi army with all of its new and powerful U.S. equipment.  Last week, President Obama said that there were 20,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, and his tone of voice suggested that there were "only" that many, meaning not so formidable.  Today the CIA said that there were 31,500 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.  Given Iraq's long border with Saudi Arabia, a Sharia law state for all but the elite, having a majority of the population being trained from birth in the most fundamentalist style of Islamist religion, an immense supply of potentially new fighters is nearby.

Many would prefer to focus on the positive progression of Alibaba's stock price today, and one can understand that.  The financial markets will eventually need to or be forced to take into account these "bad progressions" as well, which eventually must be faced up to in dollars and cents calculations as well as political, humanitarian, and emotional ones.

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