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As Economy Rebounds, Manufacturers Face New Hurdles

Matt Guse would hire a dozen machinists — if only he could find them.The owner of MRS Machining, a maker of precision metal parts in rural Augusta, Wis., Mr. Guse finds business is rebounding so quickly as the pandemic’s effect eases that his 47-worker shop is short-handed.“I’ve turned down a million dollars’ worth of work in the last two weeks,” he said. “Doing that, it’s hard to go to bed at night when you put your head to the pillow. I have open capacity, but I need more people.”After a sharp downturn when the pandemic …

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As Covid Outbreak Rages, India Orders Critical Social Media Posts to Be Taken Down

NEW DELHI — With a devastating second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India and lifesaving supplemental oxygen in short supply, India’s government on Sunday said it ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of its handling of the pandemic.The order was aimed at roughly 100 posts that included critiques from opposition politicians and calls for Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to resign. The government said that the posts could incite panic, used images out of context, and could hinder its response to the pandemic.The companies complied with the requests for now, …

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A Computer Chip Shortage Has Hobbled the Auto Industry

Around the world, auto assembly lines are going quiet, workers are idle and dealership parking lots are looking bare.A shortage of semiconductors, the tiny but critical chips used to calibrate cars’ fuel injection, run infotainment systems or provide the brains for cruise control, has sent a shudder through the automaking world.A General Motors plant in Kansas City closed in February for lack of chips, and still hasn’t reopened. Mercedes-Benz has begun to hoard its chips for expensive models and is temporarily shutting down factories that produce lower-priced C-Class sedans. Porsche warned dealers in the United States this …

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Another Unlikely Pandemic Shortage: Boba Tea

A panic erupted on the West Coast this week. Over a drink.It happened when beverage aficionados learned that tapioca, the starch used to make the sweet, round, chewy black bubbles — or pearls — that are the featured topping in the popular boba tea drink, was in short supply.“I was shocked,” said Leanne Yuen, a longtime boba drinker and a student at the University of California, Irvine. “What am I going to do now?”The impending boba shortage is yet another sign of how the pandemic has snarled global supply chains, upended industries and created scarcities of goods from toilet …

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‘It’s a Roller-Coaster Ride’: Global Chip Shortage Is Making Industries Sweat

Dan Rozycki, the president of a small engineering firm, worries about what a global semiconductor shortage could mean for curing concrete.Mr. Rozycki’s company, Transtec Group in Austin, Texas, sells small sensors that are placed where concrete is poured at building, highway and bridge construction sites. The gadgets take temperature readings and wirelessly send data so workers with computers can ensure the material is hardening properly.Like many other things in the modern world, from computers and cars to cash registers and kitchen appliances, the sensors require a couple of common, inexpensive semiconductors that have suddenly become a very …

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My Family’s Global Vaccine Journey

On Feb. 22, Mom texted that she and Dad had booked a March 11 appointment to get their first shots, followed by second doses in April. A day later, she reported that Dad hadn’t pressed the button to confirm the appointment on the online booking system and had lost the slots.The next week, they texted again: They had walked to a private clinic that was dispensing Sinovac shots. After a short wait, they received the vaccine. On April 2, they told us that they had gotten their second dose of Sinovac and were feeling fine. Mom groused that even though they …

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Taiwan’s Drought Pits Chip Makers Against Farmers

HSINCHU, Taiwan — Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other gadgets.This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland.The authorities are compensating growers for the lost income. But Mr. Chuang, 55, worries that the thwarted harvest will drive customers to seek out other …

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In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization

LONDON — The world got another warning this week about the perils of its heavy reliance on global supply chains. As a single ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, shutting down traffic in both directions, international commerce confronted a monumental traffic jam with potentially grave consequences.The troubled craft is not just any vessel. The Ever Given is one of the world’s largest container ships, with space for 20,000 metal boxes carrying goods across the sea. And the Suez Canal is not just any waterway. It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of …

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‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’: Chaos Strikes Global Shipping

Off the coast of Los Angeles, more than two dozen container ships filled with exercise bikes, electronics and other highly sought imports have been idling for as long as two weeks.In Kansas City, farmers are struggling to ship soybeans to buyers in Asia. In China, furniture destined for North America piles up on factory floors.Around the planet, the pandemic has disrupted trade to an extraordinary degree, driving up the cost of shipping goods and adding a fresh challenge to the global economic recovery. The virus has thrown off the choreography of moving cargo from one continent to another. …

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Winter Storm Disrupts Automakers, Retailers and Delivery Services

UPS said weather could cause delays in areas not directly hit by the storms. Packages may take longer to get from one place to another, and many delivery services move goods through big sorting hubs in the middle of the country to serve both the East and West Coasts. UPS’s main air hub is in Louisville, Ky., and it also has a hub in Dallas, for example.The winter storm prompted the United States Postal Service to close post offices, processing hubs and other facilities in Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, according to its website.The storm has also affected …

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