The worlds largest cruise ship 🚢 + US Shoots down Houthi anti-ship missile 🚀

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Ahoy! This week, we're peeling back the layers on Bananas. The leading exporter in the banana sector is Ecuador 🇪🇨 with an impressive 30% share in global exports. This remarkable feat positions this tiny nation as a major contributor to the banana industry, influencing both local and global economies. Dive into the fascinating world of how these lush plantations yield these popular fruits that find their way into homes worldwide here! 🍌🌴🐒 🍌 

In today’s email:

  • Big, Bigger, Biggest: 🚢 The worlds largest cruise ship embarks on maiden voyage.

  • Is it Real: 🍗 The $40 billion dollar fake foods market.

  • Pirates Be Gone: 🏴‍☠️ India deploys unprecedented naval might to combat pirate opportunist.


World's Largest Cruise Ship Begins Maiden Voyage

The world's biggest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, is a true maritime marvel. Stretching nearly 1,200 feet and weighing 250,800 gross tons, the ship embarked on its inaugural journey from Miami's Port just as the sun was setting last Saturday, presenting a sight reminiscent of a grand multilayered birthday cake.

Atop this floating giant sits an array of seven pools, a vibrant carousel, lush tropical greenery, and brightly colored waterslides. When the $2 billion vessel arrived in Miami on January 10, blaring music after a transatlantic journey from Turku, Finland, with a stop in Puerto Rico, it was met with an enthusiastic welcome complete with fireboat salutes and a banner-flag flyover, causing a stir along the Miami Beach causeway.

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi had the honor of christening this 20-deck leviathan on January 23, serving as its "godfather." Surpassing Royal Caribbean’s own Wonder of the Seas, the Icon of the Seas now holds the title of the world's largest cruise ship.

Its maiden voyage, a fully booked seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, offers passengers unparalleled experiences. With an impressive capacity of 7,600 guests and 2,350 crew members, it’s akin to the entire population of Sedona, Arizona.

Highlights include Category 6, the biggest water park at sea, featuring the tallest sea drop slide and the first family size raft slides. The ship also boasts the first sea cantilevered infinity pool, the largest sea swimming pool, and the largest ice arena. Entertainment is abundant, with 50 musicians and comedians, including the largest sea orchestra and the first sea performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” Even Rover, the Chief Dog Officer, adds to the charm, making appearances with her handler. See clip here


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The $40 Billion Dollar Fake Foods Market

Hate to break it to you, but your truffle oil wasn't made from truffles. Your vanilla extract? Well, that's probably just a lab-made derivative of crude oil. And your shaker of Parmesan cheese? It probably has wood pulp inside.

You might feel the companies behind these food products are using deceptive packaging — but it's legal. However, there's a whole other level of trickery that's completely illegal: food fraud. That's when criminals bottle up corn syrup and call it 100% honey, or when they pass off cheap mozzarella as pure Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, Iran, Egypt confirm joining BRICS. The group's expansion adds economic heft to BRICS and is expected to potentially amplify its declared ambition to become a champion of the Global South.

Tractors on TikTok: Europe’s farmers send a loud pre-election message. In Romania, the European Union country with the highest number of farmers (about 3.5 million, according to the European Commission), members of the agriculture and transportation sectors have been protesting since January 10, often in groups of tractors and trucks in locations around the country.

US Shoots Down Houthi Anti-Ship Missile in Latest Red Sea Attack. Militants said Wednesday they fired several missiles at a U.S. warship in the Red Sea, and that they planned to continue targeting U.S. and British vessels.

PayPal, a global leader in international payments, announced on Tuesday a major layoff, affecting 2,500 employees across the company. This decision, part of the new CEO's strategy to reduce costs and boost profits marks a significant shift in the company's workforce.


India Bolsters Naval Forces to Combat Escalating Piracy Threat Near Red Sea

India has significantly escalated its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, deploying over a dozen warships to counter a resurgence of piracy, especially amidst shifting Western focus towards Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi conflict. This marks India's largest deployment in the region, with two frontline warships in the Gulf of Aden and more than ten in the Arabian Sea, supplemented by surveillance aircraft.

In the last two months, the Indian Navy has inspected over 250 vessels, including small boats, with special commandos boarding more than 40. This action follows an alarming rise in piracy incidents, with at least 17 cases of hijacking or attempted hijacking reported since December 1.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar emphasized India's growing role in regional stability, highlighting the need to respond to crises in neighboring areas. The Navy's operations have included rescue missions for Iranian and Sri Lankan fishing vessels and assistance to merchant ships near India's Exclusive Economic Zone.

Despite other countries' naval forces in the region, including the United States, France, and China, India's independent stance is notable. The increase in piracy, exploiting the diverted attention towards the Red Sea, underscores the significance of India's maritime security efforts. This approach reflects India's commitment to safeguarding regional waters and demonstrating its capability as a stabilizing force in maritime security.


The Mediterranean Sky, originally named "City of York," was built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in the UK in 1953. Catering to wealthy clients, it operated luxury trips from Patras, Greece to Venice, Italy, with features like two pools, luxurious cabins, and air conditioning, accommodating 1,000 passengers and 470 vehicles. It was moved to Eleusis and beached in 2002. It capsized and sank in 2003, now visible as a half-submerged wreck in Greece.. Click to see shipwreck 👀


The Mali Empire: A Captivating Guide to One of the Largest Empires in West African History and the Legendary Mansa Musa. This book chronicles the Mali Empire, highlighting its establishment by Sundiata Keita, prosperity under Mansa Musa (the richest man to ever lived), and eventual decline due to internal conflicts and weak successors. It delves into the empire's cultural fusion, Islamic and African influences, and its enduring legacy on subsequent states and cultures.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon. Michael Lewis' "Going Infinite" delves into the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried, the enigmatic founder of FTX and once the world’s youngest billionaire. This book offers a psychological and financial exploration of Bankman-Fried’s journey, covering high-frequency trading, cryptocurrencies, philanthropy, and his ultimate downfall. Lewis captures the intriguing persona of a rule-breaking character whose extraordinary trajectory ends dramatically.

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