News roundup for Fri, Apr 16, 2021

The chip shortage is serious business, and the US needs to decouple its supply chain from China if it wants to stay competitive and be free from the kind of supply and demand shocks that we’re currently facing. The chip shortage could last into 2023. The US will be building more of its own factories to address this, but it will take years to meet the capacity we need.

Russian saber rattling continues as the military buildup on Ukraine’s border steadily increases. Kremlin mouthpieces RT and Sputnik are pushing the narrative of inevitable confrontation between the US and Russia in the form of widespread cyber warfare, utilities blackouts, and internet blackouts. The DNI has acknowledged the reality of these dangers in its hot-of-the-press Annual Threat Assessment (ATA). The White House issued Executive Orders today regarding banks and the Russian ruble and declared a National Emergency:

One of the biggest threats identified in the DNI’s ATA is the economic impact to the US and the globe by the pandemic. They note that certain state actors (Russia, China) will jump to take advantage of the crisis. Inequality in vaccine distribution is also a threat in that it creates the grounds for this virus to resurge or become endemic.

Consumer prices are jumping. The Central Bank expects the jump to be transient, but will act if inflation takes hold.

The US Corn Belt has had 1/3 of its topsoil stripped away. Soil erosions is a known problem, but satellite technology is helping us quantify it. Sustainable farming practices can save soil, but they’re not short-term profit drivers.

Texas almost went dark again because it was *slightly* warmer than ERCOT anticipated (most of the state was in the mid-60s). Who knew that a mild day could be such a threat…

Super-white paint made with barium sulfate could help cool the earth by reflecting the sun’s rays. It’s so effective, it can help cool a building. This is relevant to the prepping community because it can help to cool without expensive cooling systems.

The world has over 139.6 million COVID cases.  The world has gained over 5.1 million cases in a week. There have been nearly 3 million deaths in total. The US has over 32.2 million cases. Over 578,000 Americans have died. There have been 876 deaths in the last 24 hours in the US. The US gained over 71,000 new cases in the last day. Brazil is leading the globe in daily deaths, with over 3,700 in the last day. India is now leading the world in daily case gain, with a whopping 216,000 cases in the last day.

Bhutan vaccinated practically its entire population in two weeks. There are benefits to being a relatively small nation. Israel has also vaccinated most of its population, and it looks like it’s defeating the pandemic by doing so:

Australia plans to keep its borders closed for much of the year to prevent a rise in COVID cases. This is a tough blow to its tourism industry and to international students. About 1.4 million people are fully vaccinated in Australia, which is a mere 5%.

The US is pausing the use of the J&J COVID vaccine to investigate rare reports of clotting. These clots are occurring at a rate of about 1 in 250,000 people, but occur more often in women of child-bearing age. The EU is halting the purchase and use of all adenovirus-backbone COVID vaccines. This is all a terrible blow to vaccine confidence–the reality is that COVID kills about 1/100 people:

Here’s a deep-dive on the risks:

We’ve got a glut of PPE in the US now, so it’s time for hospitals to stop reusing masks.

The health care system in Brazil is collapsing from the pandemic burden:

The boosters are coming:

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