Tag Archives: Breaking news

When the Suez Canal Was Blocked for Eight Years

As the Suez Canal, chokepoint for 15% of world shipping, was cleared today, I thought of another time it was blocked. Not for a week, but for 8 years.

Following the Six Day War in 1967 between Egypt and Israel, Egypt blocked the canal to prevent Israel from using it. They placed old ships, debris, and even explosives in the canal. And it stayed that way, for eight years.

Thousands of workers rotated on and off the ships over the years to protect these valuable pieces of equipment. They organized joint social events and even created their own postage stamps, which have since become hot items for collectors.

The closure also had a serious effect on world trade, especially for countries that relied heavily on the canal. Seventy-nine country pairs saw the effective distance between them increase by 50% or more:

For these pairs, the closure caused an average fall in trade of over 20% with a three to four year adjustment period. Trade between these pairs recovered completely after the canal reopened eight years later with a similar adjustment period.

By the time the canal reopened, most of the ships in the Yellow Fleet could no longer make the trip:

The canal had remained closed so long that most of the Yellow Fleet ships had decayed and needed to be towed. But two of them—the German ships Münsterland and Nordwind—made it out on their own steam.

We had the benefit of peace this time, so the canal could be unblocked quickly. These episodes really emphasized to me the importance of peace and the free flow of goods to our prosperity.

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Photo: “File:Israeli Tanks Cross the Suez Canal – Flickr – Israel Defense Forces.jpg” by Israel Defense Forces is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Will A Massive Uprising in North Korea Mean the End of Kim Jong-un?

North Korean defector and Youtuber Yeonmi Park is reporting a massive uprising in Musan, North Korea. The uprising began when police cracked down on a market selling Chinese products, which is illegal in North Korea despite them being the only goods available.

Farmers took their farm implements and attacked the police. The backdrop for this is an increasingly hungry population with little to lose. Indeed, the situation is so dire that even Russian diplomats are fleeing the country by railroad handcart, appalled at the lack of basic food and goods.

I haven’t been able to find independent corroboration of this uprising, and Park is unclear on what her sources are, but I assume she is still in contact with people inside North Korea.

Her discussion of the uprising begins here.

For more on breaking news, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Kim Jong-un visiting Berlin.” by driver Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Vaccine Policy Just Changed in a Major Way

The federal government will now start sending out all available doses of the COVID vaccine, rather than holding some in reserve for second doses, per The Wall Street Journal. It will also recommend the vaccine be available to everyone over age 65.

Broader eligibility criteria have helped Israel vaccinate faster than any other country, and significant evidence has emerged for getting more people their first dose sooner. It’s great to see the government acting on this information.

I strongly suspect we are in a race between new, more contagious variants of COVID and the vaccines. Right now, as far as we know, those variants aren’t that common in the US. But if we follow the path of the UK, they could quickly become dominant, resulting in an unprecedented burden on hospitals. We need to use this time to vaccinate as quickly as possible and prevent such a catastrophe.

What’s Really Going On in the World Today

We’ve seen some scary headlines lately. But I threw caution to the wind and went out exploring anyway so you guys wouldn’t have to. What I found: beautiful sun, empty sidewalks, no rioters, indeed nothing out of the ordinary besides a few inflatable Santas. I encourage everyone to remember that even when there are problems, 99.99% of what’s out there is great and we should enjoy it!