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Significant Digits For Thursday, June 20, 2019

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


15 to 30 percent of production

Apple, reportedly in response to the U.S.-China trade war, is considering a “fundamental restructuring” of its supply chain. The company, according to a report in the Nikkei Asia Review that cites sources with “knowledge of the situation,” is considering shifting 15 to 30 percent of its production out of China and into somewhere in Southeast Asia. [Gizmodo]


71 million people

According to the United Nations refugee agency, a record 71 million people at the end of 2018 were “displaced worldwide by war, persecution and other violence.” That’s 2.3 million more people than the year before, and if all 71 million people were a country, it’d be the world’s 20th largest. [Associated Press]


150 million-pound gift

The American billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of private equity firm Blackstone, has given 150 million pounds (or about $190 million) to Oxford University to fund the study of the ethics of artificial intelligence. “At the moment, most governments are utterly unprepared to deal with this, and why would they be, it’s a different type of technology,” Schwarzman told the BBC. The gift follows $350 million he gave to MIT to establish an AI center. [BBC]


Over 300 days

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, was absent from her Ottawa post for more than 300 of the 600-some days of her ambassadorship, according to the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The discussion of Craft’s calendar took place during her confirmation hearing to become the American ambassador to the United Nations, which, I guess, is at least not in Canada — though it is on that annoying-to-get-to far east side of Manhattan. [Politico]


2 percent of plastic

Scientific research, even that research dedicated to environmental stability, can trash the very planet it’s trying to save. Laboratories, for example, consume huge amounts of resources, create risks from hazardous chemicals and generate an enormous amount of plastic waste. One biologist, who is devoted to reducing this footprint, estimates that bioscience and medical research alone is responsible for 2 percent of all the plastic junked annually, my colleague Maggie Koerth-Baker writes. [FiveThirtyEight]


16 tons of cocaine

Fifteen thousand kilos — or more than sixteen tons — of cocaine were seized from seven shipping containers on a cargo ship, the MSC Gayane, at a Philadelphia port earlier this week. The street value of the drugs is said to be upwards of $1 billion and it was one of the largest drug seizures in the history of the country, according to a U.S. Attorney. “Unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are from time to time affected by trafficking problems,” the shipping company MSC said in a statement. So it seems. [NBC News]


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Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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