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Significant Digits for Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s number is 50,000 words, for everyone participating in National Novel Writing Month. Good luck.


86 times the federal guidelines for lead

A yearlong collaborative investigation conducted by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations found that thousands of test results for measuring lead exposure exceeded Canadian national guidelines. The investigation found results in several communities similar to levels in U.S. cities like Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey. The highest results were in tests from Edmonton, Alberta, where a 2017 test found 428 parts per billion in 2017 — 86 times the Canadian federal guideline. [The Toronto Star]


1st female Hearthstone champ

On Saturday night, Xiaomeng “VKLiooon” Li became the first woman to win the Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals, a major esports tournament with a top prize of $200,000. Hearthstone is a highly popular online card game from Activision Blizzard, the company best known for titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero. Li encouraged girls aspiring to compete in esports, saying, “As long as you want to play well, you can, no matter what gender you have.” [The Washington Post]


$37 million in stock options

Stephen Easterbrook may have lost his job as the CEO of McDonald’s after having a relationship with an employee, but he’s leaving with a huge golden parachute. In addition to $675,000 in severance pay and 18 months of health insurance benefits, Easterbrook was awarded stock options worth as much as $37 million, plus he’s still eligible for a pro-rated bonus for the work he did this year. The 52-year-old was voted out by the McDonald’s board on Friday following an investigation into the consensual relationship, which violated company policies. [Bloomberg]


$2.5 billion for affordable housing

On Monday, Apple announced it will direct $2.5 billion toward affordable housing initiatives in California, including helping first-time homebuyers with financing and down payments. The Cupertino technology company joins Facebook, Google and Microsoft in pledging to help address the significant increases in rent and real estate prices caused in part by the technology industry’s rapid expansion. According to the real estate company Zillow, in the last seven years, the median home price in California has risen by nearly 75 percent to $550,800, and the average rent has gone up 40 percent to $2,293. [Los Angeles Times]


462 prisoners released

The state of Oklahoma released 462 prisoners on Monday after Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the sentences of 527 people who had been convicted of nonviolent offenses. The move is part of a wider effort to reform the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board estimated that the cost of having the inmates serve out their full sentences would have cost the state $11.9 million. [Vox]


180 intellectual property theft cases

Seventy-one institutions across the country are investigating 180 separate cases of potential intellectual property theft, mostly involving biomedical research. The National Institutes of Health, after receiving information from the FBI and other sources, sent letters asking institutions to investigate certain scientists. The New York Times reports almost all the incidents involved scientists of Chinese descent, including naturalized American citizens, and allegations they are stealing “scientific ideas, designs, devices, data and methods that may lead to profitable new treatments or diagnostic tools” for China. Critics say Chinese and Chinese American scientists are being unfairly targeted as the U.S. competition with China intensifies. [The New York Times]


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