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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s number is 83, the percentage of voices heard on NPR’s newsmagazines in the 2018 fiscal year that were white.


$100 billion investment fund

The Mormon Church encourages its members to donate 10 percent of their income to the church, a practice known as tithing. But a former investment manager has submitted a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service alleging that a tax-exempt investment fund tied to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now has approximately $100 billion, “stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works,” as the Washington Post reports. The complaint also says the non-profit that amassed this money “has not directly funded any religious, educational or charitable activities in 22 years.” [Washington Post]


74 percent of supporters

You might know that followers and fans of Andrew Yang, the Asian-American Democratic presidential candidate, are nicknamed the “Yang Gang.” Then again, if you don’t, that’s not surprising either — Yang’s support hovers only around 3-4 percent in national polls, on average.) But FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley highlights one area where Yang is leading: share of supporters who are under the age of 45. Yang’s number is 74 percent — that is, about 3-in-4 Yang supporters are 44 or younger and 1-in-4 are 45 or older. For comparison, Bernie Sanders is the only other candidate who’s base is at least half 44 or younger (69 percent). [FiveThirtyEight]


51 days apart

Training to run a marathon is hard. Competing at an elite level in the Boston Marathon is even harder. Qualifying for the Olympics in the marathon category is among the toughest things to do in running. But Des Linden is going to attempt to do all of that, even though the Boston Marathon and Olympic qualifiers are just 51 days apart. The 2018 Boston Marathon champion is planning to run the U.S. Olympic trials on Feb. 29 in Atlanta, then line up for the Boston Marathon on April 20. [Wall Street Journal]


85 percent decline in mussels

A massive mussel die-off is happening in the Clinch River, in Tennessee, with significant declines in population and 10 species that have gone extinct. A few years ago, biologist Jordan Richard from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that pheasant shell mussels were dying at high rates; the population fell from 94,000 in 2016 to less than 14,000 this year — a decline of 85 percent — along a 200-meter (219-yard) stretch. [Associated Press]


5,700-year-old gum

A little black wad of ancient chewing gum can tell us a lot about what life was like 5,700 years ago. That’s what paleogeneticist Hannes Schroeder learned after a student brought him a lump of birch pitch from a Stone Age site in Denmark, and asked if they could get DNA out of it. Sequencing went so well, that “researchers were able to reconstruct a complete human genome,” NPR reports, and deduce several kinds of information abut the ancient woman who chewed the gum. [National Public Radio]


$2.9 billion per year

The holidays can be a tough, lonely time for many people and families who can’t afford to travel to see their loved ones. The families of incarcerated Americans face even steeper costs for phone calls, emails and basic supplies like soap due to high rates for communication services and commissary items. The Prison Policy Initiative estimates family and friends spend an additional $2.9 billion each year on basic items and phone calls. [New York Times]


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