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Significant Digits For Thursday, May 23, 2019

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

3 minutes

President Trump walked out of a meeting with the Democratic congressional leadership yesterday after roughly three minutes, upset that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had accused him of a “cover-up.” Trump then went to the Rose Garden, “bristling with anger,” where he demanded to assembled reporters that the Democrats “get these phony investigations over with.” If only all office meetings lasted three minutes, am I right? [The New York Times]

20 percent decline

In a new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers studying air quality in Southern California found that a 20 percent decrease in pollutants — such as those from vehicle emissions — corresponded with a 20 percent decrease in new asthma cases in children. While the study can’t definitively establish cause and effect, its findings nevertheless point to how reduced air pollution can reduce illness. [NPR]

4.2 percent of students

Between the 2010-11 and 2017-18 school years, requests to the College Board for special accommodations for the SAT, which provide a test taker more time for the exam, increased 200 percent. And it’s especially students attending public schools in wealthier parts of the country who are getting more time: 4.2 percent of students in wealthier areas versus 1.6 percent in poorer areas received these so-called “504” designations, meant for students with difficulties such as anxiety or ADHD. [The Wall Street Journal]

$7 million contract

Nineteen-year-old Carter Stewart, the No. 8 overall pick in last year’s Major League Baseball draft, eschewed the Atlanta Braves for a $7 million-plus deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League. Stewart’s agent, Scott Boras, has “raged against” the MLB draft for decades for imposing caps on draft spending, but this move is “not so much a loophole as it is an end around — and one with risk.” [ESPN]

At least 3 incidents

There is a person or persons in New York City disrupting an already beleaguered, sclerotic and constantly delayed subway system, which, to put it lightly in the opinion of this commuting reporter, is flatly uncool. Someone (or someones) has been sneaking into subway cars and pulling their emergency brakes, in at least three separate incidents thus far, grinding lines to a halt. One official report described an “unruly customer” riding on the back of an uptown train. Batman, Gotham needs you, consider this your Batsignal. [Jalopnik]


The misadventures of attorney Michael Avenatti continue. The latest charge filed by federal prosecutors against him is that Avenatti stole almost $300,000 from his former client Stormy Daniels — it was money that Daniels was owed from a book deal, and Avenatti allegedly used a “fraudulent document purporting to bear his client’s name and signature to convince his client’s literary agent to divert money owed to Avenatti’s client to an account controlled by Avenatti,” the prosecutors said in a statement. [NBC News]

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Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.