A few weeks ago we first took a look at how a bat (possible origin of the coronavirus) could have a butterfly effect on the world economy.

China accounts for about a fifth of global economic output, a third of global oil imports, and the largest share of global exports. That means that any time the Chinese economy shudders or stumbles, the shockwaves circle the globe. And China is most certainly shuddering.

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For the next three days, some of the world's most powerful leaders are gathering in Munich, Germany, to discuss an important question: is "the West" in trouble? And if so, is that a problem?

This year's Munich Security Conference – an annual gathering of key leaders and policy experts that's been held since the Cold War's heyday– is dedicated to the theme of "Westlessness."

No, that's not the mindset of an antsy Elmer Fudd, it's the idea that "the West" – that is, a group of European and North American countries united by a common, if not always consistent, commitment to liberal democracy, free markets, and the post-war international institutions set up for global trade, finance, and security – is fraying. That's happening for two reasons:

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After a day and a night (and most of a day) of technical difficulties, lousy communication, and general bewilderment, the Iowa Democratic Party finally released a batch of caucus results yesterday. With results in from 71% of Iowa's precincts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has so far won the most delegates, followed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden. We will know more over the course of the day, but right off the bat, here are three winners and three losers.

Winner #1: Pete Buttigieg who proved he can win an election outside of South Bend, Indiana, and a primary at that (OK, a caucus.)

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Could a single bat in central China make the global economy catch a cold? Call it an undead variation of the butterfly effect, but as the Wuhan coronavirus (which may have originated in bats) continues to spread, companies and consumers around the world are bracing for chills.

Why? Well, for one thing, China accounts for about a fifth of global economic output and it's number one in global trade. That means that any time the Chinese economy shudders or stumbles, the shockwaves circle the globe. And China is most certainly shuddering.

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At eleven o'clock this evening in London, the United Kingdom will officially escort itself out of the EU. After nearly half a century of an oft-contentious cross-channel relationship, Britain is now free to see other people. But what happens now? Is this really the end of the uncertainty and anguish that have gripped the UK since the 2016 referendum?

Not quite.

The UK is formally out of the EU, sure. But the clock is now ticking on a host of other issues.

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Vladimir Putin has held power for twenty years now, alternating between the prime minister's seat and the presidency twice. He has made himself so indispensable to Russia's political system that even the speaker of the legislature has mused that "without Putin, there is no Russia." The constitution says he can't serve as president again after his current term ends in 2024 – but he'll find a way to keep power somehow. As he starts to lay those plans, here's a look back at his approval rating over the past two decades.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

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US forces on Thursday night killed General Qassim Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force. The assassination, carried out via a drone strike in Baghdad, was framed as a response to recent attacks by Iran-backed militias on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and the killing of a US contractor in northern Iraq last week. The Pentagon said it believed Major General Suleimani was planning further attacks on US interests in the region.

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