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Here’s what you need to know
Rampant covid infections disrupted supply chains in China. Illnesses among factory workers and truck drivers are causing delays amid what some experts say is just the first of three waves the country will see this winter.
North Korea fired two ballistic test missiles. Japan was in range of the launch, which was possibly a retaliation to the country taking a more offensive stance toward North Korea and China.
Argentina won the World Cup. The final match was taken to penalties in a nail-biting finisher that left the South American country with its third world championship, this time over France.
Fiji’s parliament is deadlocked after the country’s election. Neither incumbent prime minister Frank Bainimarama nor opponent Sitiveni Rabuka won a majority of seats. Meanwhile, the future of Tunisia’s parliament is in limbo after the country’s voter turnout bottomed out at 8.8%.
It’s deadline time for a new UN climate deal to protect nature. China is responsible for releasing the draft text, which needs to be agreed upon by leaders from 200 governments today.
What to watch for
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is expected today (Dec. 19) to address the findings of a committee tasked with looking into the country’s ties to slavery. The Netherlands, a former naval power, profited immensely from slavery over a period of 250 years.
The committee, formed after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, has issued various recommendations to redress historic injustices, including an apology. A majority of Dutch lawmakers expressed support for an apology, but campaigners have asked Rutte to wait until July 1, which would mark 150 years since the abolition of slavery in the former Dutch colony of Suriname.
Should an apology be issued today, it risks being seen as hastily arranged and also as mere words. The government pledged €200 million ($213 million) towards awareness raising projects and €27 million ($29 million) to establish a museum dedicated to the country’s slavery and slave trade, but reparations are off the table.
MSG, with a side of chips
Ajinomoto, the Japanese company that invented monosodium glutamate (MSG), also happens to be a serious player in the semiconductor industry. That’s thanks to its manufacture of another three-letter substance: ABF, or Ajinomoto build-up film substrate, which today insulates 90% of the central processing units (CPUs) in personal computers.
The company ventured into computer materials in the 1990s, a decision that is paying dividends today. During the pandemic, Ajinomoto’s ABF sales boomed along with personal computer sales, boosting profits from 45.1 billion yen ($327 million) in 2020 to 60.5 billion yen ($439 million) in 2021.
Like other sectors, the chip industry is subject to cycles of boom and bust. But Ajinomoto is confident about the future of the insulation substrate market, which is projected to grow to $6.5 billion by 2028. In the event of chip turbulence, MSG, which makes up 58% of its sales, can likely still be relied on to bring in the umami.
Nigerian artists chart their own NFT path
Most Nigerians know about NFTs because of the fame of Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwei, who, among many accolades, was the first African to be featured at a Christie’s NFT auction.
As explained in the latest Quartz Africa Weekly, Osinachi’s success has built visibility for the Nigerian NFT scene—a success most Nigerian NFT artists hope to replicate, even if there is a crypto ban in the country complicating things.
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The mansion where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited sold for £3 million ($3.6 million). Nevermind that superfans are living inside of the estate and refusing to leave.
A bear couldn’t forget his prime campsite. Despite being relocated 1,000 miles away, Bear 609 walked across four states to dine on leftovers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Ants can make milk. When pupae are developing, they excrete the substance that provides nutrients to the colony.
Ash and Pikachu are saying goodbye. Well, at least to the limelight, as the duo won’t be the protagonists of the Pokémon anime series anymore.
A Cambrian sea creature may have inspired the taco. Tuzoia, an arthropod that was first found 100 years ago, would’ve nicely held some queso and salsa.
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