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Significant Digits For Thursday, May 14, 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this as an email newsletter, please subscribe.

No. 3

The third-ranked chess player on the planet is joining Team USA! Fabiano Caruana is switching his federation affiliation to the U.S. from Italy. U.S. chess is spending a lot of money to recruit this kind of talent. [The New York Times]

4-3

The New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals with an overtime goal last night and will advance to the Eastern Conference finals. [ESPN]


60 percent

A survey of partners at 320 law firms found that three in five reported overcapacity was cutting into profits. At this point, I’d bet that every single person involved in the legal industry has screamed as loudly as possible at people considering law as a profession to stop doing so. [Bloomberg]

106 miles per hour

The Amtrak train that derailed near Philadelphia on Tuesday was traveling more than double the speed limit around a curve when it went off the tracks. [The New York Times]


338-88

The House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act, but stripped out language that allowed the government to collect a database of bulk phone surveillance. The bill goes on to the Senate, where leaders have indicated they’re pretty OK with the whole indiscriminate dragnet thing. [Ars Technica]

900%

Kayem, a Mumbai pharmaceutical company, raised the price of the anesthetic sodium thiopental 900 percent when it found out South Dakota intended to use the drug for human executions. The drugs used in lethal injections are in short supply as many manufacturers step away from providing them for executions. [The Atlantic]

$750,000

Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil company funneled three-quarters of a million dollars through nonprofits to pay for a visit from 10 members of U.S. Congress and their staffs. This wasn’t fully disclosed. Most importantly, one member who received a number of rugs said she did not disclose the gift because she “did not think they were particularly valuable,” according to The Washington Post. “She also thought that they were unattractive,” which I think should be a totally legal and legitimate reason to not disclose the value of a gift. [The Washington Post]


$12 million

Cost to eradicate rats from South Georgia Island over four years. The pests can be catastrophic for fauna on the island, which is located about a thousand miles from Antarctica. The attempt to kill all the rats, which ended in March, is considered the largest such mission in any place ever. [The Verge]


$52 million

How much the British singer Sarah Brightman paid to have a Soyuz rocket fly her to the International Space Station. The performer has suspended the plans, but that’s a cool insight into how much it costs these days to get a lift out of Baikonur. [Yahoo]

$44 billion

While income tax returns stayed relatively flat, American taxpayers paid $44 billion more to the government during filing season this year. That may have actually made a dent in the economy in April, as consumers had a little less cash on hand. [Bloomberg]

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And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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