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Significant Digits For Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. I’m your host Candice Norwood. Send any tips or suggestions to me.


Team USA took an L on Wednesday. France beat the U.S. 89-79 in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, booting them from the competition. The defeat ended Team USA’s 58-game winning streak and squashed their hopes of winning a third consecutive FIBA gold medal. The loss comes after a number of top-tier NBA players declined to participate in the World Cup this year. The team still managed to qualify for next year’s Olympic games in Japan, but some roster changes could be on the horizon. [CBS Sports]

About $90,000 worth of cakes

Uh … did you know there’s a black market for luxury baked goods? I sure didn’t. A New York deliveryman has been accused of swiping about $90,000 worth of cakes from a warehouse for Lady M Confections. The boutique New York bakery has been raved about by Oprah, Martha Stewart and other big names. The alleged thief, David Lliviganay, is said to have smuggled out 1,020 cakes, which retail for about $90 each. The wildest part of this story: Lliviganay is accused of wanting to sell the cakes on the black market. I’ll just stick with my Betty Crocker boxed cake, please. [The Guardian]

Second year in a row

Nearly half a million more children were uninsured in 2018 than in 2017. Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows a rise in the number of children without health insurance for the second year in a row. The increase was most stark among kids in the south, rising from 6.5 percent to 7.7 percent. One cause of the trend is a drop in the number of children covered by public services, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. [NPR]

iPhone 11

Apple is back with another iPhone, and you can get a basic model for the low, low price of $700. Yes, apparently for Apple this is indeed a deal. Last year’s comparable model started at $750. The more advanced iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be $1,000 and $1,100, respectively. These new additions are said to have enhanced photo capability, with the entry-level phone having a dual-lens camera and the Pro models including a triple lens. I’m clueless as to what those features actually do, but I’m sure they’re magical. [The New York Times]

Zero interest rates

President Trump is criticizing the Federal Reserve again. In a tweet Wednesday, the president called for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to “ZERO, or less.” Trump went on to criticize the “naïveté” of Fed chair Jerome Powell, and called Fed leaders “boneheads.” Powell has already cut interest rates to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent, but many say even lower rates are needed to avoid a recession. However, the push for subzero interest rates seems to counter the White House’s message of economic optimism. [CNN]

Candice writes the Significant Digits column for FiveThirtyEight, and is interested in how race, gender and class shape societies throughout the world. Most recently, she worked as a staff writer for Governing Magazine and a White House stringer with Bloomberg News.