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Good morning! Just one traffic holdup in the Suez Canal has in recent days sent oil prices soaring globally. Yet it could have been worse. Travel today to the choke points that could cripple the global economy, meet unlikely crypto moguls, dream of bold new ideas and get awestruck with great science documentaries to start the week.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Nick Fouriezos, Associate Editor
Myanmar’s army on Sunday shot at a crowd attending the funeral of a young man who was among 114 people killed the previous day in the deadliest 24-hour span of violence since February’s military coup. Defense chiefs of 12 countries condemned the brutal crackdown. (Sources: AP, Al Jazeera, NBC)
2. Passport Out of the Pandemic?
The Joe Biden administration and private companies are discussing “vaccine passports” that would allow greater mobility to those who’ve taken COVID-19 shots. But Chile, a regional leader in vaccinations, has still had to place most of the country under lockdown amid a surge in cases. Are vaccine passports a good idea? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WaPo, Daily Mail)
3. Tiger on Fire
Top banks have dumped $30 billion worth of shares in media companies Viacom and Discovery and top Chinese tech firms including Baidu and Tencent, leading to a sharp fall in their stock prices. The plunge has sparked speculation of ties to wealth fund Archegos Capital Management, owned by former Tiger Asia chief Bill Hwang. (Sources: WSJ, South China Morning Post)
4. Hope Floats
As long as the Ever Given does. The ship that’s been stuck in the Suez Canal was partially refloated on Monday, offering hope from Egypt that a pileup impacting the world might finally clear. (Source: Guardian)
Chimpanzees at two Czech zoos, lonely because of the absence of visitors during the pandemic, have now started regular Zoom calls where they can see each other lounging, eating, playing or just … monkeying around.
From your morning coffee to bathroom supplies, Public Goods is your store for everything. With sustainable, high-quality products made from clean ingredients at an affordable price, you’ll be buying all your premium essentials from here — with the knowledge that you’re doing the right thing for the world.
The41-year-old Nigerian twins grew up in a gang-dominated London neighborhood, and even served prison time for financial fraud. Today, they’re rare emblems of Black success in the crypto world, and hang out with celebrities like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and 50 Cent. Their cryptocurrency, Populous (PPT), is valued at nearly$104 million. You can’t jail ambition.
3. Ricardo Salinas Pliego
Mexico’s second-richest man built a multibillion-dollar empire manufacturing electrical appliances. Now he’s growing that wealth by investing more than 10 percent — or $1.3 billion — of his total money into cryptocurrencies. Physical money, he now says, is “worth nothing.”
The Other Suez Canals
The Suez Canal is actually only the fourth-most important channel for oil trade. Check out the maritime chokepoints that really give global economic managers nightmares.
Sandwiched between Iran to the north and the United Arab Emirates and Oman to the south, it’s responsible for the transport of a third of all natural gas and a quarter of all oil in the world. That also makes the Strait of Hormuz a strategic gift of geography to Iran, raising the costs for its enemies. Look no further back than 2019, when multiple tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. blamed Iran, which denied the allegations. But a sharp rise in oil prices reminded everyone of the stakes involved. A full-fledged war could bring the global economy to a grinding halt.
2. Strait of Malacca
You've likely heard of the contesting claims over the South China Sea involving China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and other nations. But they aren't engaged in just some vain territorial nationalism. A third of all global maritime trade passes through the South China Sea. And the Strait of Malacca is its nerve center. Control it, and you get to dictate terms to the rest of the world.
3. Cape of Good Hope
Before the construction of the Suez Canal in the mid-19th century, sailing past the southern tip of South Africa was the shortest maritime route connecting Europe and Asia. And while it's technically not a chokepoint, it remains a vital trade pathway, especially because of the volatile nature of the Middle East. The Suez Canal was blocked during the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel, and previously during the British invasion of Egypt during the Suez Crisis. The world will always need a backup.
The Carlos Watson Show: Season 3
We're back! And we have a roster of the world's biggest names in store. Today, comedy legend Billy Crystal shares the crazy story of how he first met Muhammad Ali, why laughter is the best ingredient for a happy marriage and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from When Harry Met Sally, Saturday Night Live, The Oscars and more. Watch now.
Dive into the wild world of spies, warriors and heroes with CuriosityStream’s Military History Collection. The coolest new streaming service brings you the best of nonfiction, with thousands of documentaries on topics ranging from food to space exploration to animals. Best of all, for a limited time OZY readers can spark their curiosity and get a full year of access for only $1.25/month with an annual plan using code OZY.
It often takes bold — even bizarre — ideas to change the world. Here are a few to consider.
1. Jellyfish Drinking, Parking Garage Groceries?
The Museum of the Future in Dubai has gotten a little wild while imagining the future of cities. One idea: Harnessing the natural desalinating energy of jellyfish to solve water scarcity, particularly in the parched Middle East. Another? Converting parking garages, which could soon become woefully outdated with the arrival of self-driving cars, into hubs for growing and delivering fresh food to locals with Amazon-like abilities to predict your preferences. Read more on OZY.
2. Pay Poor People, Save the Planet
An Indonesian direct-payment program to lift rural residents out of poverty also reduced deforestation by 30 percent, say researchers who examined the effects of the program on about 7,500 forest villages. That’s because villagers no longer felt the desperation to increase their area of cultivation to reduce the risks of low crop yields. Could the route to poverty reduction and environment protection be the same?
3. Mix the Gene Pool
The much-lauded Human Genome Project, launched two decades ago, didn’t become a DNA handbook for humanity but essentially “a European genome,” as one American evolutionary historian notes. Only 3 percent of genes used in current research are of African ancestry. Abasi Ene-Obong, a Nigerian scientist is changing that with 54gene, a pan-African biobank that has raised $15 million in Series A funding.
For millennia, humanity has wondered about — and feared — the night. But for many creatures, the world truly becomes alive when the sun goes down. With 60 separate shoots across 30 countries over one year, new low-light tech paints life after dark in previously unimaginable and gorgeously fascinating ways.
Between all the burps, bounces and bubbly laughter, there is rock-solid science behind this Netflix documentary that tracked 15 families from across the world through the first full year of their newborn’s life, also raising fascinating questions around nature versus nurture and the demographic destinies we are handed at birth.
3. ‘Feels Good Man’
Cartoonist Matt Furie invented the goofy Myspace stoner character Pepe the Frog with the catchphrase, “Feels good, man” … then watched internet trolls turn it into a racist, white nationalist meme retweeted by then president Donald Trump. This award-winning social science reflection follows Furie as he tries to reclaim his creation with goofy animations, road trips and expert commentary.
What’s your favorite science documentary of all time?