Numlock News: July 7, 2020 • Pipelines, Golf, Hamilton

By Walt Hickey

Satellites

Back in March, the space company OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just after it finished launching a chunk of its constellation of internet-from-space satellites. Right now, OneWeb has 74 of a planned 650 orbiters up, so that’s a pretty valuable piece of real estate to bargain with. Well, the cavalry has arrived in the form of the government of the United Kingdom, which will put up $500 million in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the satellite firm. Bharti Global will kick in another $500 million. The U.K. in 2018 lost access to the European Union’s Galileo satellite system as a result of Brexit, so this gets them back in the mix.

Kim Lyons, The Verge

Bogey

Fox is paying 55 percent of its $93 million annual payment to the USGA for the privilege of not having to air golf on its network anymore. All in all, Fox will pay $364 million to the golfers so as to not air golf through 2026, a loss-cutting measure that will save it $294 million over the period. They will also avoid having to pay a bunch of people to film and broadcast the golf, a package that subsequently has been picked up by rival NBC. The goal of this punt is to free up more money for the forthcoming renewal of NFL rights, payments which are projected to jump from $1.1 billion annually to $1.98 billion.

Anthony Crupi, Sportico

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PlayStation

Sony and Microsoft are both trying to roll out a major new console update this year, but needless to say a global pandemic is never a delightful time to operate an international technological hardware supply chain. Still, Sony’s got a huge asset on their side: the new spiffy plant built in 2018 that makes the PS5 is basically entirely staffed by robots. Two humans feed bare motherboards into the production line, there are then 31.4 meters of production line staffed by 32 articulated robots, and then two humans package the finished consoles. It completes a new console every 30 seconds.

Yuji Nitta, Nikkei Asian Review

Energy

The nation of Gabon lies on the coast of central Africa and is projected to see its energy demand double in the next decade. Right now, Gabon gets 51 percent of its electricity from renewables, mainly hydroelectric dams on the network of rivers that criss-cross the country. Half a century ago Gabon identified 38 potential sites for hydropower development, but the issue is they hadn’t then considered the impact that damming waterways may have on the marine ecosystem and biodiversity. A new study finds that further development of hydropower in the country — particularly, damming the Ogooué River — could have seriously disruptive impacts on the nation’s fisheries if not well-managed, so as Gabon tries to keep the lights on, it’s targeting sites that would minimize the impact on fish.

Munyaradzi Makoni, Hakai Magazine

Hamilton

The July 4 weekend saw a surge in downloads of the Disney+ app that coincided with the release of the Hamilton feature-length performance recording. Disney+ downloads were up 74 percent compared to the average of the previous four weekends in June in the U.S., and worldwide downloads of the app were up 46.6 percent. Granted, there’s no guarantee each of those downloads constituted a new subscription, but it’s a promising performance for a single direct-to-streaming movie.

Todd Spangler, Variety

Remittances

Many immigrants to wealthy, developed countries send back money to family who continue to live in their nation of origin, fairly large volumes of payments known as remittances. Last year, the millions of people from developing countries who worked abroad sent $554 billion back home, an enormous amount of money that is three times the size of all development aid. Today, many have lost their jobs, and that’s led to a huge drop-off in remittances. It’s had a serious economic impact in developing countries; El Salvador saw a 40 percent drop in remittances that led in part to a food crisis, and Bangladesh saw a 24 percent year-over-year drop. The central bank of the Philippines — a nation that saw $35 billion in remittances in 2019 — is projecting the country will notch a 5 percent drop in remittances this year, or roughly $1.5 billion, though others are projecting as much as a 20 percent decline.

Jon Emont, The Wall Street Journal

Pipeline Problems

A U.S. District Court ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline, a highly controversial oil pipeline which connects the Bakken Shale fields in North Dakota to southern Illinois, must shut down and empty the pipe of oil by August 5. If upheld on appeal, the ruling eliminates a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that the plaintiffs — the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe — alleged was improper and not satisfying the requirements laid out in the National Environmental Policy Act. Should it hold, what would follow is a projected 18-month Army Corps of Engineers environmental review. The ruling comes after four years of litigation over the pipelines route across Lake Oahe, which the Sioux tribe alleges puts their water supply at risk.

Ellen M. Gilmer and Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg

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