News roundup for Fri, Apr 9, 2021

There’s been rioting in Northern Ireland for six days in a row, and most of the tension is over Brexit-induced trade and border woes. Leaders from all sides are calling for calm, but few are engineering solutions to the problems driving the unrest.

The US is exporting a whole lot of corn, and we’ve blown through previous records in corn exports to China. China’s pigs are increasingly dependent on US corn as livestock feed. China has made calls to become more self-sufficient in producing its own feed, so it’s unclear how long the corn boom will last.

Things are still tense on the Ukraine/Russia border. Open-source intelligence (OSINT) suggests that Russia has moved its Iskander ballistic missile system to the border. The US is considering moving warships to the Black Sea:

The world has over 134.5 million COVID cases.  The world has gained over 4.4 million cases in a week. There have been over 2.9 million deaths in total. The US has over 31.7 million cases. Over 573,000 Americans have died. There have been over 950 deaths in the last 24 hours in the US. The US gained over 75,000 new cases in the last day. Cases in the US are rising again. Brazil is leading the globe in daily deaths, with nearly 4,000 in the last day. India is now leading the world in daily case gain, with over 131,000 cases in the last day.

The UK variant has spread from coast to coast in the US:

Despite the spread of variants in the US, half of cases are in only five states, and cases and hospitalizations are dropping in most others. Michigan is in particular trouble, and appears to be the UK variant epicenter at the moment:

Cruise ship operators don’t want to make proof of vaccination mandatory before cruising. These same operators are also not too happy with so-called “burdensome” CDC recommendations for keeping passengers safe (like routine testing for staff), despite a lack of mandates. Seems to me like cruising is a bad idea for folks who aren’t already fully vaccinated.

In vitro results show that the Sputnik vaccine probably won’t work against the South Africa strain (neither does the Astra Zeneca vaccine). This means we’re going to need boosters to fill the gap.

Here’s an interesting thread on weighing risks when choosing to get vaccinated:

150 million people around the world were pulled from the middle class into greater poverty last year. Meanwhile, the global super-rich have added stunning amounts to their coffers. Africa and South Asia are suffering the worst, but the impact is spread across the globe.