We Have A Jumbo Love For Shrimp
October 16, 2019
“Politics is the process by which a society chooses the rules that will govern it.”
“While economic institutions are critical for determining whether a country is poor or prosperous, it is politics and political institutions that determine what economic institutions a country has.”
– Daron Acemoğlu
We Have A Jumbo Love For Shrimp
Americans love their shrimp. It’s a national obsession, with annual consumption rates escalating to almost 4.4 pounds per person. This is happening despite lingering questions about environmental sustainability, unsavory farming practices, and the risk to bycatch, especially endangered sea turtles.
America’s favorite seafood falls into two broad categories: wild-caught and farmed shrimp. At one time coastal waters off many parts of the US were thick with shrimp. Author Paul Greenberg notes: “Shrimp breed like crazy and grow like bugs wherever there’s wetlands.” But overfishing and environmental factors — climate changes, algae bloom from fertilizer runoff, the corroding of coastal marshland from oil spills and hurricanes — have wreaked havoc on domestic shrimp populations, which now account for less than 10 percent of all shrimp eaten in this country. Today most domestic wild-caught shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off the southern US.
So what about farmed shrimp? The domestic industry is tiny, accounting for less than 1 percent of the shrimp bought. Labor and operating costs have curtailed US farms from competing with overseas products, the vast majority of which come from Southeast Asia, India and South America. Farms in those places vary from well-run facilities — operating with transparency, employing fair labor practices, not misusing antibiotics, not overcrowding ponds, being environmentally sustainable — to murky operations with no transparency.
The good news is that businesses like Minnesota’s Tru Shrimp Company are utilizing new technologies to create systems to raise shrimp more sustainably in tanks, without antibiotics and without the carbon footprint of shipping frozen, perishable shrimp from Asia and South America.
When The US Is Away, Russia Will Play
- Moscow has clearly become the de facto power broker in northeastern Syria, now that US troops are evacuating. Russian units have begun patrolling territory separating Turkish-backed Syrian rebels from the Syrian army around the flashpoint town of Manbij.
- The strategically located town, which remains a major military target for Turkey, was a US base for three years. Syrian regime forces entered Manbij Monday night after Kurdish officials agreed to a deal with their former adversaries to protect both Manbij and nearby Kobane from a six-day-old Turkish assault.
- Moscow’s special envoy to Syria said Tuesday that Russia opposed the Turkish operation and would not allow direct clashes between NATO member Turkey’s troops and Syrian forces.
- A Russian journalist posted a video on social media Tuesday from a deserted US military base in the village of al-Saadiya, near Manbij. “They [the US] were here yesterday, we are here today,” he said. “Now we’ll see how they were living and what they were doing.” (Guardian)
- Saudi visit signals Putin’s growing Middle East influence (Reuters)
- U.S. ‘Show Of Force’ After Turkish-Backed Fighters Get Too Close To Base In Syria (NPR)
- The Kurds’ Prisons and Detention Camps for ISIS Members, Explained: As the Turkish invasion leads to deteriorating security in northern Syria, the custody of about 11,000 captive ISIS fighters — and many thousands more detained ISIS women and children — is in doubt. (NYT, $)
- A possible upside: Russia will hopefully also realize that the Middle East is a quagmire and full of quicksand diplomacy.
Devastation Felt Across Japan
- One of the most destructive typhoons in decades hit central Japan over the weekend, killing at least 74 people. Typhoon Hagibis brought record-breaking rainfall and caused extensive flooding and power outages, forcing the government to approve a special budget for disaster response.
- About 34,000 homes were without electricity, 110,000 were without running water, and more than 30,000 people were still in shelters as of late Monday.
- The country’s infrastructure ministry said as of Tuesday embankment collapses affecting 47 rivers in 66 locations had been confirmed. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned the impact on life and economic activities would likely be prolonged. (NPR)
Digging Up A Deeply Buried Problem
- On Wednesday a man digging a grave in Uttar Pradesh, India for his newborn daughter, who had died shortly after birth, heard crying coming from a clay pot buried in the ground where he had been digging. He unearthed the pot and found a baby girl inside.
- He immediately rescued her and called for help. The newborn was taken to hospital where she is receiving medical care, paid for by a local politician.
- Female infanticide is widespread in India because of parents’ preferences for sons – who are viewed as investments and heirs – while girls are seen as a liability. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny condemns mass raids: Searches appears to be attempt to disrupt work of Kremlin’s most prominent critic (Guardian)
- ‘Failing’ food system leaves millions of children malnourished or overweight: Unicef report finds poorest children at greatest risk, while price of healthy food in rich nations drives food poverty (Guardian)
- ‘Fire Begets More Fires’: Rainforests Slip Into Cycle of Destruction: Research shows the very nature of rainforests is changing as a result of clearing (WSJ, $)
- Boris Johnson ‘on brink of Brexit deal’ after border concessions: Negotiators understood to have agreed in principle to customs border down Irish Sea (Guardian)
The Real ID, Ego, & Superego
- A recent survey by the nonprofit trade group US Travel Association found that Americans were not prepared for the Real ID Act, scheduled to become law next year.
- The act, unveiled in 2005, was intended to expand security measures inherent in state-issued personal identification cards. Starting on Oct. 1, 2020, only individuals with documentation that conforms to the act will be allowed onto commercial flights and have clearance to federal buildings and military bases.
- About 99 million Americans lack identification that accords with the act. Travelers that haven’t upgraded their IDs by next October can expect to not make it through airport security.
Small Farms, Big Impacts
- A small town in Iowa is facing a big threat to their drinking water. Local creeks near Griswold have been found to contain high levels of nitrogen, making the water unsuitable for drinking.
- Corn and soya farms surrounding many Iowa towns use large amounts of nitrates to fertilize crops. But runoff from the nitrates is contaminating local creeks and aquifers, and increasing the risk for cancer and birth defects.
- Water supplies are also being contaminated as a result of industrial-scale pig farms. The 800,000 gallons of manure a large scale pig farm can produce in a year can also find its way into the water supply after being spread on fields.
Additional USA News
- Trump impeachment inquiry gathers pace as more officials testify (Guardian)
- Zombie debts are hounding struggling Americans. Will you be next?: Tens of thousands of people have received demands to repay alleged overpayments of government benefits – often decades old – plunging them into a Kafkaesque struggle against a faceless bureaucracy (Guardian)
- Hunter Biden Says Ukrainian Gas Company Involvement Was ‘Poor Judgment’ (NPR)
- Trump Is Trying Hard To Thwart Obamacare. How’s That Going? (NPR)
“The Greatest Teacher, Failure Is.” – Yoda
- Marissa Sharif, an assistant professor at Penn’s Wharton School of Business, has spent her career studying how we respond to small failures. Many of us struggle to reach our goals, and her work suggests it’s because these short-term failures derail us.
- She calls the phenomenon the “What the hell” effect. “You feel like you have failed. It’s the reason why you might choose to eat a high-calorie dessert when you’re trying to be careful with your weight. If you go slightly over your limit, say you’re eating out with friends, then you’re likely to give up and go really far over; ‘What the hell, I may as well get that dessert’. After a small failure people often give up completely.”
- Sharif says people tend to try harder if they are given harder goals, because they want to get closer to that goal. But the downside is, the harder the goal, the more likely people are to fail.
- Sharif believes people who cut themselves some slack are better able to cope with setbacks. So she suggests using a technique, which she explains, that should help overcome such failures. It’s called channeling your “emergency reserves.” (BBC)
- High School Vape Culture Can Be Almost As Hard To Shake As Addiction, Teens Say (NPR)
- Cancer-causing chemical found in WeWork phone booths: In latest headache for cash-strapped company, WeWork says it has closed about 2,300 phone booths amid formaldehyde scare (Guardian)
- Head injuries: Cheap drug ‘could save thousands of lives a year’: A cheap and widely available drug could save hundreds of thousands of lives a year worldwide if it was routinely given to people brought into hospital with head injuries, UK doctors say. (BBC)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU