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Significant Digits For Friday, April 20, 2018

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

4 votes

In a 4-to-1 vote, the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a new rule regarding the responsibilities of brokers to their clients. An earlier rule adopted by the Labor Department in the final months of the Obama Administration required brokers to act in the best interests of their clients. The new rule — which the dissenting Democratic vote described as less strict — requires brokers to disclose conflicts of interest like bonuses and fees, and apply scrutiny when a trade will benefit a firm. The rule now waits for 90 days of public comment, then goes up for a final vote. [The Wall Street Journal]

46 percent

That is the percentage of registered voters who said that a candidate’s position on guns will be a major factor in their vote in the 2018 elections. That’s down 13 percentage points from February, when the murder of 17 people at a Florida high school was slightly fresher in the nation’s mind. [NPR]

56 percent

Online misinformation is bad — most people agree on that — but how to deal with it is a more nuanced question. A Pew report found that 39 percent of Americans thought the U.S. government should take steps to restrict false information online, even when given the caveat that such a step might limit freedom of information. Still more — 56 percent — thought that tech companies should take more steps to reduce the spread of bad information. [Pew Research Center]

329 newsstands

That’s how many street-level newsstands still exist in New York City, down from a peak of 1,500 in the 1950s. By law, and this was news to me, the maximum price for anything at a newsstand is $10, meaning that newspapers — despite plummeting sales — are a pretty significant part of that business. [New York 1]


Tennessee’s GOP-dominated legislature cut $250,000 that had been earmarked in a spending bill for the Memphis bicentennial next year — apparently punishment because the city removed a monument to the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, who also founded the Ku Klux Klan in his spare time. [The Washington Post]

6 billion cockroaches

An indoor farm in Xichang, China, is producing 6 billion cockroaches per year. (Who knew the deli near my apartment had any real competition?) Using artificial intelligence technology to manage nearly 28,000 roaches per square foot — come on, the deli’s technical abilities stop short of being able to accept American Express; this isn’t fair — the company produces potions that purport to do a lot of medical stuff. I think we’re talking about the roach version of snake oil here, though. Local residents near the facility worry about the ecological catastrophe that would result from a breach at the factory, operated by the Gooddoctor Pharmaceutical Group. The fact that Xichang figured out how to monetize cockroaches before New York is the most persuasive argument against American Exceptionalism that I have ever heard. [South China Morning Post]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.