If “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” then public health officials in Canada have strayed from the path of righteousness. Earlier this year, Canadian health authorities changed their recommendations on alcohol consumption to just two drinks a week for healthy adults.
In the United States, George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, set off a right-wing media firestorm in August when he said that the Department of Agriculture could follow Ottawa’s lead.
Fret not, fellow tipplers, the White House has our backs. The Biden administration vehemently denied it would back such guidelines —- and more to the point, they’re just that: guidelines. The federal government can’t actually stop anyone from drinking, but it is their job to inform the public about the health risks of alcohol.
Either way, beer consumption in particular is declining on both sides of the border. Canadians of drinking age bought about 70 liters of beer per person in 2020, down from 89 liters in 2010 and over 128 liters at the peak in 1973 (a rough year, apparently).
Americans consume about half again as much as their northern cousins, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, Canada’s drinking age is 18 and 19 in most provinces, compared to 21 across the US —- not that it has ever prevented American teens from partying. The data does not include underage drinkers but does include the beer they drink, which inflates the US numbers.
Second, Canadian beer tends to be a little stronger, in the 5-6% alcohol by volume range compared to the 4-5% for American brews. That means Canadians are drinking about 20% less beer for the same buzz.
So who are the real beer lovers? Only one way to settle it: an international beer pong tournament, with the winner taking Niagara Falls.
Climate change has opened Arctic shipping channels that can be navigated by freighters without icebreakers for several months a year – and year-round with icebreakers. Canada and Russia dominate the region, but Moscow is much more aggressively exploiting the economic opportunities there.
Taking the high-latitude route over Russia can shave 5,600 miles off a voyage from Europe to China, and as sea ice melt accelerates, the economic viability grows. Total shipping volumes along the Arctic route rose steadily between 2019 and 2020, and immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine, despite the frigid March conditions, the Arctic corridor saw its highest-ever volume of shipping in 2022.
Canada and the United States, meanwhile, have faced criticism for underinvestment in Arctic security. Canada, for example, lacks sufficient early warning systems to detect missile attacks coming over the North Pole — which is dangerous, given that the Arctic is essentially split between Russia and NATO countries.
We look at trade passing through the Russian Arctic corridor above.
The United States and Canada are two of the world’s biggest advanced democracies. But when it comes to elections, the Great White North is far better at registering its voters.
Canada makes it easy and even encourages voters to register as late as Election Day. It can do this because it has a centralized voter database shared among the provinces, enabling them to keep up-to-date information about where voters should be voting, which eliminates fears of voter fraud.
In the US – where fears of voter fraud run rampant – the main obstacle appears to be a lack of both cooperation and willpower. There’s no push to proactively register voters, and because there’s no centralized voter registration database, there’s limited communication between states.
The US is trying to roll out a centralized system, called Electronic Registration Information Center or ERIC, to inform states if a voter moves or dies, so that the names can be removed from the voter rolls. But to gain access, states must pledge to proactively register new voters who move to their state.
At its peak, ERIC had 33 states enrolled, but since the 2020 election, it has become the target of misinformation campaigns. Seven GOP-led states have pulled out of the interstate database over concerns about voter privacy and to protest the proactive registration requirement.
The fallout from allegations that India was behind the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar has thrown Indo-Canadian relations into the lurch. Each side has expelled a diplomat from the other, and India’s Embassy in Canada stopped processing visas – a serious diplomatic gesture, no doubt, but the material impacts are likely to be small. Only around 80,000 Canadians visited India in 2021 out of more than 1.5 million foreign tourists.
But if Canada responds in kind, it will be a very different story. Indian students represent a staggering 40% of the 807,000 foreign student visa holders in Canada, more than every other nationality combined save China. The number of Indians studying in the Great White North skyrocketed from just 2,210 in 2000 to 171,505 in 2018 — also the year Indian students first outnumbered Chinese students. Their population has since nearly doubled, and Indian students now represent approximately 0.8% of the entire population of Canada.
Here’s the twist: Even before the row over Nijjar’s murder, Canada was seriously considering capping student visas. The country is in the midst of a severe housing shortage, and efforts to alleviate the situation are falling short. The province of Ontario needs to build around 150,000 new houses every year for the next several years to rectify the situation — and they’re managing around 40,000. Capping the number of foreign students competing for limited housing might be politically expedient, but it would be a devastating blow to the Canadian universities that depend upon international tuition rates.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok is in part meant to highlight that both leaders – though isolated – still have friends in high places. Putin is expected to ask for additional arms from North Korea, while Pyongyang wants economic and material help as it struggles with ongoing food shortages and perennial economic mismanagement.
Here’s a look at recent oil exports to North Korea from Pyongyang’s two closest allies, Russia and China.
Argentina is facing some of the world’s highest inflation, with rates this year climbing back into the triple digits for the first time in three decades in February. Some economists forecast that South America’s second-largest economy could break the 200% inflation mark before the year is out, exacerbating the ongoing economic crisis that has left four out of 10 people in poverty as prices rise faster than wages.
How did things get so bad?
- Argentina never fully recovered from an economic crisis in 2018 when its peso lost nearly half of its value against the dollar. The IMF responded by loaning Argentina a record $57 billion. The loan failed to stabilize the economy, and the country later defaulted on it and on its own government loans. Annual inflation has stayed above 50% ever since.
- During the pandemic, the government printed money and implemented currency controls and price freezes, laying the groundwork for inflation to soar.
- This year, the economy has been crippled by low GDP growth, high prices, reduced consumer spending, and droughts destroying key agricultural exports.
This is having serious political consequences. Rising prices have spurred a cost-of-living crisis, looting, and rampant poverty. The crisis is boosting support for Javier Milei, a radical libertarian who won the primary election earlier this month on promises to dollarize the economy. His unexpected success further destabilized the economy, adding to inflation. But rising inflation is good news for Milei, who can pin the economy’s problems on the establishment parties he hopes to beat in round one of Argentina’s presidential election in October.
If you know anything about the state of the Republican presidential race right now, you know that former President Donald Trump is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. But the race is just getting started.
A lot can change in the first few primary states and debates, so we decided to track the polls in three early primary states to see if Trump holds onto his formidable lead or if another candidate emerges to give him a run for his money. These are where the numbers stood before the first debate. We will report back if the tides begin to turn.
The summer of 2022 was, broadly speaking, the summer of inflation. An energy crunch caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, coupled with increased post-COVID demand and supply chain kinks sent prices through the roof. Elevated oil and gas, in particular, set records around the globe.
Fast forward a year and inflationary pressures persist in many places, but the trend is mostly headed downward. In some countries – like the US – that’s a good thing, suggesting that the US Fed’s effort to rein in inflation is working (though inflation in the US rose slightly last month for the first time in months). However, in China, for instance, inflation has come down too much and the world’s second-largest country is now grappling with the opposite conundrum: deflation.
Meanwhile, inflation in Russia has plummeted 70% since last August, though current trends suggest it is climbing fast as the value of the Russian ruble nosedives.
India, for its part, is on an anomalous path, with rising food prices as a result of volatile weather conditions having sent inflation soaring last month. We take a look at inflation rates in select economies in Aug. 2022 compared to now.