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Significant Digits For Thursday, March 21, 2019

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


3-year silence

On Wednesday, Justice Clarence Thomas, infamously voiceless jurist, broke a three-year silence during Supreme Court oral arguments to ask a question about the race of jurors. And that three-year streak was nothing — before he spoke in 2016, he had gone 10 years silent. He has recently claimed, according to the Times, that “other justices asked so many questions that they were rude to the lawyers before them.” [The New York Times]


300,000 acres

A federal judge has temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of land in Wyoming, ruling that the Department of the Interior “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when auctioning off federal land in that state. The governor of Wyoming suggested that the state might appeal the decision. [The Washington Post]


Around 1,600 people

Some 1,600 people in South Korea were secretly filmed in their hotel rooms, and the footage live streamed, according to police there. Two men have been arrested in an operation reportedly involving 42 rooms in 30 hotels in 10 cities, where cameras were hidden in wall sockets and hair dryer holders. Some users of an illicit website paid $44.95 a month to access the streams. [CNN]


£1 million donor

A £1 million donation to the National Portrait Gallery in London has been withdrawn. The donators were the Sackler Trust, run by the wealthy family that also owns Purdue Pharma, which sells Oxycontin and has been accused in lawsuits of contributing to the opioid crisis. “It has become evident that recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work,” the museum and the trust said in a joint statement. [BBC]


Photos from 1850

Tamara Lanier, great-great-great-granddaughter of a slave named Renty, is suing Harvard for photos that the university commissioned in order “to prove the inferiority of black people.” The photos, taken in 1850, were of Renty and his daughter Delia. Lanier is suing for possession of the daguerreotypes, compensation for emotional distress, and for Harvard to acknowledge that it was “complicit in perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.” [Reuters]


61 percent in favor

A record number of Americans, according to the General Social Survey, think marijuana should be legal. Sixty-one percent are in favor of legalization, up 4 points from two years ago. And the support has a broad base: 54 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of those 18 to 34, and 46 percent of those 65 and older. [Associated Press]


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Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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