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Significant Digits For Friday, June 7, 2019

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

30 days

Members of the military deployed near the U.S.-Mexico border have been assigned to paint a mile stretch of border barriers in Calexico, California, in order to improve their “aesthetic appearance.” The painting will last about 30 days, and the paint and equipment are estimated to cost $150,000. In the past, some barriers have been painted white, which officials say makes it easier to spot migrants, while President Trump has urged for them to be painted black so that they absorb heat and become too hot for migrants to climb. [CBS News]

46 ice cream trucks

As part of “Operation Meltdown,” the city of New York earlier this week seized as many as 46 ice cream trucks. Over a stretch from 2009 to 2017, their operators had received 22,000 summonses — for running red lights, parking in front of hydrants, blocking intersections and so on — and $4.5 million in traffic fines, according to the city. To avoid the fines, the operators created shell companies and re-registered the trucks under different company names. That’s cold! [CNN]

22 pages

The FBI released a 22-page file from the 1970s with the results of a test it had performed on a hair sample, sent in by the Bigfoot Information Center, that allegedly came from Bigfoot himself, aka Sasquatch, the definitely-not-real creature that is said by some to roam the Pacific Northwest. “The hairs are of deer family origin,” wrote the assistant director of the FBI’s Scientific and Technical Services division at the time. [Yahoo News]

85 murders

Former nurse Niels Höge was convicted of 85 murders in a trial in Germany this week. He stood accused of giving his patients overdoses of drugs that would cause cardiac arrest so that “he could try to revive patients heroically.” He is suspected by authorities of killing as many as 300 people and is, according to The New York Times, “believed to be the most prolific serial killer in peacetime Germany, and perhaps the world.” [The New York Times]

20 participants

Extree, extree, get your debate updates here: Sen. Michael Bennet is in and Gov. Steve Bullock is out of the first Democratic presidential debates … for now. The former fact is thanks to the release of a new CNN/SSRS poll, and the latter is thanks to the disallowance by the DNC of two earlier open-ended ABC News/Washington Post polls. That brings us to 20 qualified participants by FiveThirtyEight’s reckoning, which is the cap — any more qualifiers and the DNC will have to dip into its tiebreaker rules. [FiveThirtyEight]

80 miles by 80 miles

A swarm — or a “bloom,” in beetle parlance — of ladybugs in Southern California was so large that it appeared on National Weather Service radar like a rain cloud 80 miles by 80 miles in size. The ladybugs were spread out in the sky, flying en masse at somewhere between 5,000 and 9,000 feet. This is somewhere smack dab between fantastical dream and horrifying nightmare. [Los Angeles Times]

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Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.