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Who will pay for the Baltimore bridge disaster?

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A general view during the singing of the national anthem on Opening Day prior to a game

Baseball is back. Ben Jackson/Getty Images

 

BROWSING

 
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The wackiest headlines from the week as they would appear in a Classifieds section.

Careers

SPRINTING SERVER: The city of Paris brought back a historic competition in which hundreds of the city's waiters and waitresses race a little over a mile while carrying a pastry, a full cup of water, and an empty coffee cup on a tray. The two winners were awarded tickets to the upcoming Olympics opening ceremony and free rein to cyberbully Americans who post photos of themselves smoking cigarettes at Parisian cafés.

PRICEY PICKUP: Ice Cube offered Iowa phenom Caitlin Clark $5 million to play in BIG3, his 3-on-3 basketball league. For comparison: top rookie salaries for the WNBA, which Clark will enter next year, are below $80,000.

SPHERICAL PRESENTERS: The Las Vegas Sphere, the larger-than-life venue hosting bands like U2 and Dead & Co., is getting into the convention game and putting on its first corporate event in June. Bono's never had an opener quite like Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Personal

MUSIC 4 MIAMI: The Miami Marlins released a list of the musical instruments allowed in the team's ballpark this season, including tambourines, congas, trumpets, and some—but not all—types of cowbells.

ISO ORIGINAL PACKAGING: Influencers are trying to get you to organize your snacks in matching jars for the aesthetics. But unless you're also an influencer trying to show off your highly organized pantry, or your mom is coming to visit, what's the point?

YOU (GROUND) DOG: Punxsutawney Phil, the psychic groundhog, just welcomed two babies with his rodent "wife," Phyllis. The gender reveal party will double as this year's hurricane season predictor.

For sale

DICAPRIO-LESS DOOR: The floating door from Titanic sold for $718,750 at auction. The door is one of the most iconic props in all of cinema, since many fans argue Rose could have simply scooched over to make room for Jack as the ship went down.

MOUNTAIN E-BIKES: Over the last two years, Denver has spent over $7.5 million in e-bike vouchers for its outdoorsy residents. The city launched the program to provide upfront rebates of $300 to $1,400 per bike, and riders are snapping them up as soon as they become available.—MM

   
 
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SNAPSHOT

 

Photo of the week

Photo of a gardening TV personality with his jeans blurred out BBC/KCTV

Why is the lower body of the BBC's Garden Secrets host, Alan Titchmarsh, obscured? Is something accidentally exposed? Is he in a video meeting with a malfunctioning background blur tool? No, this is a product of North Korean fashion censorship. This episode, which originally aired on the BBC in 2010, was shown on Monday in North Korea, which has banned jeans since the early 1990s because they are seen as a symbol of American imperialism. Titchmarsh is free to educate the people of North Korea on proper gardening techniques, but he will never be allowed to plant the seeds of Western denim culture in their hearts and minds.—DL

 

SCIENCE

 

Dept. of Progress

Jessie saying Breaking Bad/AMC via Giphy

Here are some illuminating scientific discoveries from the week to help you live better and maybe even understand what birds are saying.

Just two nights of bad sleep make you feel years older. Getting enough rest could be the key to not feeling like such a young grandpa: After logging only four hours of shut-eye for two consecutive nights, sleep study volunteers aged 18 to 70 reported feeling at least four years older than they were, on average. Some people said they felt decades older. Psychologists who ran the study said minimal sleep could lead people to socialize and exercise less, take up more unhealthy eating habits, and engage in fewer activities or new experiences—all of which can worsen their health. And if you've been lying down at 10pm each night but just aren't sleeping well, make sure you're getting enough exercise: Working out two to three times per week lowers your odds of insomnia significantly, according to another study.

It's not just primates—this bird makes physical gestures, too. Biologists in Tokyo observed birds called Japanese tits fluttering their wings to convey something like "go ahead" or "after you" when they wanted their partner to enter the nest first—the first evidence of non-primate animals making a gesture that conveys a specific message. Before, only humans and great apes were thought to be capable of communicating with symbolic gestures (e.g., waving to indicate hello or goodbye). This type of nonverbal communication requires more cognitive power than contextual gestures, like pointing, which ravens and some fish use for simpler meanings.

You started worrying about other people before age 2. Babies begin developing their first inklings of empathy around 18 months of age, but it depends on whether the people raising them also express concern for others' feelings, according to a new study. When mothers react more sensitively to their infants' fussings, those infants later develop more empathic concern, which means this trait isn't inherent to human beings but is learned socially. The researchers said that having a capacity for empathic concern also requires the ability to effectively regulate emotions, like second-hand fear, and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Pretty impressive for a baby.—ML

 
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NEWS ANALYSIS

 

Who will pay for the Baltimore bridge disaster?

Bridge destroyed Getty Images/Tasos Katapotis

Economic losses have been mounting since a cargo ship lost power and rammed into a massive bridge in Baltimore this week, causing it to immediately collapse, killing six people.

The tragic accident has scuttled transportation networks on land and water. The Francis Scott Key Bridge carried part of the I-695 highway, and the structure's fragments are now blocking ship traffic to and from the Port of Baltimore, the 17th busiest port in the country.

The sheer scale of the damage could make it one of the costliest maritime disasters in history:

  • The destruction of the 1.6-mile bridge could result in insurance claims for as much as $1.2 billion, Barclays says, and that doesn't include the possible nine-digit price tag for compensating victims' families and, potentially, the businesses impacted by the port's indefinite closure.
  • Grace Ocean, the Singaporean company that owns the bridge-destroying vessel, Dali, and its insurer may face liability claims of up to $4 billion, according to ratings company Morningstar DBRS.

But there's bound to be a battle over who has to pay (and how much), and it might all come down to whether an obscure 19th-century law once used by the Titanic's owner applies.

So, who gets the bill?

The short answer is: Grace Ocean's insurer Britannia P&I Club, most likely.

  • There's one company associated with the disaster that we already know probably won't have to pay: the Danish shipping giant Maersk that chartered the ship, since none of its employees were on board Dali.
  • The initial repair costs might be covered by the $350 million bridge insurance policy purchased by the state of Maryland, but the final tab will still probably go to Britannia P&I Club. (P&I stands for "protection & indemnity.") President Biden has also said that the federal government will pay for bridge repairs to minimize delays in rebuilding.

Mutual insurance associations like the Britannia P&I Club allow shipowners to pool risk by teaming up to buy coverage from large insurance companies for accidents that result in losses beyond the ship itself. Such organizations insure about 90% of ocean-faring cargo traffic, according to the International Group of P&I Clubs.

The Britannia P&I Club offers coverage of up to $3.1 billion per ship, according to AM Best, with the cost of reimbursement borne by a group of about 80 reinsurance companies. This means that a single insurer won't sustain debilitating losses from the Dali disaster, Moody's Senior Credit Officer Brandan Holmes told the Wall Street Journal.

The legal loophole

As costs pile up, Grace Ocean and Britannia P&I Club will likely get hit with a flurry of lawsuits from various plaintiffs, including the victims' families, the state of Maryland, and other affected parties who want to be made whole.

Legal scholars expect Grace Ocean to try to minimize its losses by invoking an arcane maritime law: The Limitation of Liability Act caps a ship owner's liability at the cost of the ship and the value of the freight it was carrying. The US law was passed in 1851 to make maritime trade less financially risky. When it was enacted, most ships were made of wood and were probably incapable of taking down a sprawling truss bridge and paralyzing an international port.

Will it work? For Grace Ocean to benefit from this law, it cannot be found that the company knew about a technical defect that led to the crash beforehand.

Not everyone impacted will have equal chances of getting reimbursed. Businesses taking losses from the port closure might have a harder time making their case, as disaster compensation usually prioritizes victims physically harmed by the accident, UT Austin maritime law professor Michael Sturley told Bloomberg Intelligence.

Looking ahead…the first legal action is expected to kick off in Baltimore in the coming days, but it will likely be years before the various legal fights are resolved.—SK

   
 

BREW'S BEST

 

Recs

Do you have a recommendation you want to share with Brew readers? Submit your best rec here and it may be featured in next week's list.

Cook: Southwest-style stuffed poblano peppers.

Visit: A local's guide to rail travel in Norway.

Play: A game for people who love Pride and Prejudice.

Art rec: Amy Marcy doesn't paint the ocean—she sculpts it.

Watch: A Gentleman in Moscow, based on the best-selling novel, is now streaming.

Game: Still playing Candy Crush? Try this puzzle game instead. Thanks to Jocelyn from New York for the suggestion.

Plan for your future: Level up your FP&A career with the eight-week certificate program from Wharton Online and Wall Street Prep. Use code MORNINGBREW for $300 off tuition.*

*A message from our sponsor.

 

DESTINATIONS

 

Place to be: Semana Santa in Seville, Spain

Virgin of La Macarena brotherhood is seen during a Holy Week procession on April 19, 2019 in Seville, Spain. Marcelo del Pozo/Getty Images

It's a big world out there. In this section, we'll teleport you to an interesting location—and hopefully give you travel ideas in the process.

Seville's Holy Week—or Semana Santa—is one of the world's largest celebrations of Easter, drawing more than 1 million visitors to the Andalusia region of southern Spain each year. It's a solemn observance that takes place from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, with dozens of processions that include statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

This year, rain and heavy winds caused some of the processions to be canceled. But when the weather cooperates, it's an unrivaled ecclesiastical spectacle.

  • The biggest procession is La Macarena, which is part of La Madrugá, when processions run all night from Holy Thursday into the morning of Good Friday.
  • Legendary actor Antonio Banderas, a member of the Brotherhood of the Virgin of Tears and Favors, has participated in the procession for years.

Want to extend your stay? Seville's Spring Fair—Feria de Abril—is a weeklong celebration of a different kind that begins on April 14. While Semana Santa is a commemoration of the Christian holy days, the fair's parades are highlighted by dancing, drinking, and feasting, along with an amusement park that includes roller coasters and games.—DL

 

COMMUNITY

 

Crowd work

Last week, we asked: What is your school's bizarre sports tradition? Here are our favorite responses…

  • "Florida State football cuts out a small piece of the field after every big program victory."—Kyle from Boca Raton, FL
  • "I attended an arts high school, so as you can imagine, we did not have any sports teams. We did, however, have a robotics team. So the whole school had a rave/pep rally in the sunflower field next to campus to send them off to their first-ever competition. They lost...immediately."—Samantha from New Orleans
  • "At the University of New Hampshire, after the first UNH goal in hockey, a dead fish is thrown out onto the ice toward the other team's goalie. Rumor has it, the tradition started as a taunt to 'draw out the bears' against the rival team, the University of Maine Black Bears."—Pat from Michigan
  • "At the University of Washington, the men's freshman rowing team shaves their heads and uses their hair to make a class pillow."—John from Snohomish, WA
  • "Clemson fans buy everything with 2-dollar bills at away games."—Austin from Clemson, SC

This week's question

A genie allows you to magically add one room to your house. The room must already exist somewhere in the world, and it can't be something you'd normally find in a residential space. What room would you add?

Molly's answer to get the juices flowing: The whale room at NYC's Museum of Natural History.

Share your response here.

 

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Written by Sam Klebanov, Molly Liebergall, Dave Lozo, Matty Merritt, and Cassandra Cassidy

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