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Declared presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appears to play hooky from homeland security hearings, attending just five of 73 committee or subcommittee hearings since January 2014. [Buzzfeed]
A California bill to require schoolchildren to be vaccinated was passed out of a state Senate committee on a 6-2 vote, despite opposition from parents and one of the lesser Kennedys, who called inoculating children from deadly illnesses “a holocaust.” [Associated Press]
9 percent above inflation
College tuition is getting more expensive, but room and board charges are getting even more expensive. Over the past five years the cost of room and board has grown by 9 percent above the rate of inflation at public four-year colleges. [The Hechinger Report]
A new study found that 11 herbal supplements contained a synthetic compound that is a chemical cousin to amphetamines. [The Daily Beast]
20 to 30 years
Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, said she believed there will be “definite evidence” of life — probably microbes — beyond Earth within 20 to 30 years. [NPR]
According to the Pew Research Center, white Mormons are the most Republican American subgroup, with 76 percent favoring the party. The group that supports Democrats the most is black women ages 69 to 84, who leaned Democratic 89 percent of the time. [The Washington Post]
2,398,113 metric tons
That’s the quantity of animal feed the port of Los Angeles exports annually, much of it alfalfa. Due to trade imbalances, it’s apparently cheaper to export the alfalfa grown in California — and by the transitive property, lots of California water — than to transport it across the state. [Gizmodo]
2.4 million square miles
A huge sandstorm on the Arabian Peninsula raged for six days over the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia. [Discover Magazine]
$8.5 million in gold
An $8.5 million heist of gold from a mine in Mexico is considered an inside job by investigators, and will presumably be the plot of the movie to see in 2020. [Associated Press]
Amount spent by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. on hiring more compliance personnel, including for an internal surveillance operation to try to prevent the next London Whale or some other expensive incident of employees rigging markets. [Bloomberg Business]
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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer. @WaltHickey