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Significant Digits For Friday, Nov. 1, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s best number is the discounts on Halloween candy.


1.3 million pension recipients

After three decades in mining, Joe Brown relies on a pension plan through the United Mine Workers of America that provides him and 86,000 other retirees essential monthly benefits that Brown thought he would have for the rest of his life. However, the plan is on track to be insolvent in only three years, and Brown isn’t the only one vulnerable to having his pension deeply underfunded. A new report by HuffPost shows 130 other multiemployer pension plans in the United States are also projected to be insolvent in the next two decades, affecting more than 1.3 million pension recipients. [HuffPost]


$33,000 for a useless degree in law

Imagine attending law school classes, doing homework, studying complicated topics like torts and contracts for three years, and finishing with a $33,000 degree that wouldn’t enable you to be a lawyer? A BuzzFeed News investigation highlights several online law schools that offer an Executive Juris Doctor degree that won’t allow graduates to practice law or qualify them to take bar exams. “Trying to describe it makes you look like a goddamned fool,” Brenda Cuney told BuzzFeed News after graduating from the unaccredited Concord Law School earlier this year. [BuzzFeed News]


11 school days

Students in Chicago will return to class today after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the end of the teachers’ union strike. The five-year deal includes teachers making up five of the 11 missed school days and many of the union’s demands, including class size caps as well as nurses and social workers in every school. The Chicago Teachers Union has 25,000 union members who still need to vote to ratify the agreement. [Chicago Tribune]


$2 million library donation

Before he died, Philip Roth left two major gifts to the library in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey: at least $2 million from his estate, and his own personal collection of approximately 7,000 books. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist made both arrangements quietly before his death last year, but the financial gift was reported for the first time in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. A longtime friend of Roth’s and co-literary trustee of his estate, Julia Golier, said his hope was that the contributions would attract literary tourists and festivals to the city. [Wall Street Journal]


$4.5 billion write-down

One of the world’s largest tobacco companies has taken a large write-down of its investment in the vaping company Juul after buying a 35 percent stake in the popular start-up last December for $12.8 billion. On Thursday, Altria Group said it had devalued its investment in Juul by $4.5 billion due to recent bans on vaping across the United States and the likelihood the FDA would “remove flavored e-vapor products from the market.” Altria is the U.S. maker of Marlboro and has seen a decline in sales of traditional cigarettes. [New York Times]


8 more Deadspin staffers resign

Deadspin, the website that covered politics, culture, cleaning, food, and a wide variety of sports, continued to implode on Thursday after eight more staffers tendered their resignation. The losses followed Tuesday’s firing of interim-editor Barry Petchesky by G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller after Petchesky refused to follow a new, limiting mandate that would have eliminated the site’s popular coverage of many non-sports topics. Deadspin was a good website. [The Nation]


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