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Significant Digits For Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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


35 years

In 1983, a U.S. Air Force captain with top secret security clearance disappeared. Some thought he’d been abducted and others that he’d defected to the Soviets. He became the subject of conspiracy theories, including one involving the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Last week, the Air Force found him, living in California under the name Barry O’Beirne. He was arrested on charges of desertion. [The Washington Post]


1,320 pages of documents

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, approved adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Proponents of the question, including the Justice Department, say it will provide more accurate data for the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Critics say it will discourage noncitizens from participating in the census. The question is now at the center of a legal battle, and the Commerce Department recently released 1,320 pages of documents related to Ross’s decision. [NPR]


1.2 million voters

In a win for the Trump administration and a loss for voting rights, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4, along its typical ideological lines, to uphold Ohio’s vigorous purges of its voter rolls. Voters in that state can be kicked off the rolls if they don’t vote in a few elections and don’t respond to a notice from election officials. The state purged as many as 1.2 million voters between 2011 and 2016 because of infrequent voting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that the program “has disproportionately affected minority, low-income, disabled and veteran voters.” [Slate]


$41 million in funding

Palmer Luckey — who founded the virtual reality company Oculus, sold it to Facebook for $2 billion and later left Facebook for unclear reasons — is building a border wall. Of a sort. His new company, named Anduril Industries after a sword in “Lord of the Rings,” has raised $41 million in Series A funding. “It merges VR with surveillance tools to create a digital wall that is not a barrier so much as a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees,” wrote Steven Levy. Given the web and the eyes and so on, perhaps Shelob was a better name. [Wired]


$42 billion of market value

After the hacking of a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, the value of Bitcoin tumbled, and some $42 billion in market value was destroyed in the process. The cryptocurrency has lost over half its value since December. Always remember: Money isn’t real, George. It doesn’t matter. It only seems like it does. [Gizmodo]


$1 billion

The New York City Housing Authority, the country’s largest public housing agency, was accused by federal prosecutors of endangering its 400,000 residents and then lying about it. According to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, the myriad problems included lead paint, ongoing leaks and dilapidated rooms, and the agency maintained a “how-to manual for misleading inspectors.” In a consent decree, NYCHA admitted to the misconduct, and New York City agreed to spend a further $1 billion on NYCHA over four years and $200 million a year after that. [The New York Times]


If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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