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Some US bishops discourage Catholics from getting Johnson & Johnson vaccine if others are available

CNN (03/03/2021)
  • The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and six other regional dioceses are discouraging Church members from getting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In released statements, they’ve expressed “moral concerns” over how the J&J vaccine was developed using lab-grown cells from the tissue of fetuses aborted in the 1980s.
  • This stance is at odds with Pope Francis, who released a note stating that taking the vaccine doesn’t constitute cooperation with abortion.
  • Pfizer and Moderna used fetal cells for vaccine testing, not development.

How Chess.com built a streaming empire

Protocol (02/22/2021)
  • The COVID pandemic has led to an explosion in people playing and live streaming Chess at home.
  • Twitch users watched 18.3M hours of chess in January (2021), nearly the full-year total for 2019.
  • Chess.com hosts 65-70% of online chess games (57M users); it’s considered the best thanks to its strong cheating and bot detectors as well as providing detailed post-game analysis.
  • Popular Twitch chess streamers include xQc, Rubius and the rapper Logic.
  • The lockdown and social streaming have made chess more widely appealing.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine expands its reach in Latin America

CNN (03/03/2021)
  • Nine Latin American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela have announced deals to purchase Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Sputnik V is less expensive and lower maintenance (can be stored in room temperature) than Pfizer’s vaccine, ideal for Latin American economies and climates.
  • Argentina has agreed to purchase up to 25M doses and has already distributed 600K since late December.
  • Russia’s struggles meeting LatAm demand sparked a local manufacturing agreement with Argentina.
  • Despite concerns over Sputnik’s accelerated development, it’s reportedly 91.6% effective.

Simp: The new slang teenagers use to insult boys who are ‘too nice’ to girls

CNN (02/22/2021)
  • More parents are reporting that their sons are being bullied by peers for being ‘simps’, or overly-nice to girls with the goal of being liked.
  • The label ‘simp’ was first used by 80s West Coast rappers such as Too Short in lyrics to describe men who were the polar opposite of pimps.
  • Some parents are confused as to why being a simp is a bad thing.
  • The hashtag #simp has become rampant on teen TikTok and Instagram posts.

Tesla’s market share in Europe keeps crumbling

Market Watch (03/02/2021)
  • As more electric vehicles roll out, Tesla’s European market share continues its sharp decline.
  • There were 1,619 Tesla’s registered across 18 European markets in January (2021), down from 1,977 the year before.
  • Tesla’s European EV market share has declined from 5% to 3.5% over the last year.
  • Facing massive regulatory fines, European automakers significantly ramped up their EV production in 2020.
  • Volkswagen, parent of VW, Audi and Porsche, now leads with control of 22% of Europe’s EV market.

SPAC dealmaking sets new record

Financial Times (FT) (03/01/2021)
  • Special-purpose acquisition companies, or companies formed to raise cash to acquire and take private companies public, signed a record $109B in global transactions last month.
  • 188 SPACs in the US have already raised $58B, a significant acceleration from 2020’s total of $78B.
  • The most notable recent SPAC involved electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid Motors ($24B transaction).
  • While Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon called the recent SPAC boom “unsustainable”, there’s a growing debate about whether it has morphed into a bubble.

Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared

The New York Times (NYT) (03/01/2021)
  • Despite dire early forecasts, JP Morgan researchers found that state revenues have largely recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The initial 4% overall drop in state revenues (Spring 2020) quickly recovered by the Summer thanks to the $600-a-week Federal unemployment supplements.
  • These supplements helped maintain consumer spending, shielding states’ major revenue source (sales taxes).
  • States were bracing for prolonged revenue declines similar to the Great Recession (-8%).
  • However, back then Federal unemployment supplements were only $25/week and states can now tax online retail sales.

Uprising Grows Over Cuomo’s Bullying and ‘Brutalist Political Theater’

The New York Times (NYT) (03/01/2021)
  • Recent revelations that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo underreported thousands of COVID-19 nursing home deaths revealed his verbally abrasive management style.
  • Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim alleged that Cuomo called and threatened to “destroy” him for making negative comments about the nursing home revelation.
  • Other staffers have also come out, claiming verbal berating from Cuomo and constant threats of getting fired.
  • Coming to his defense, Cuomo’s supporters pointed out that he’s been able to meet voter promises such as raising the minimum wage thanks to his aggressive personality.

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep?

Outside (04/02/2019)
  • Scientists have found that the effects of acute sleep deprivation, or all-nighters, kicks in after being awake for 16-18 hours straight.
  • The first sign is a sluggish mind, with reaction times lagging to the equivalent of being legally drunk by the 24th hour awake.
  • After 24 hours, your brain starts forcing you into 10-20 second periods of “micro-sleep”.
  • After 35 hours, the brain’s emotion-emitting amygdala becomes 60% more reactive and the ability to regulate emotions declines.
  • Hallucinations are common after 48 hours awake.