By Walt Hickey
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I’m So Excited For The World Cup Now
Qatar restricts alcohol sales to non-Muslim foreigners who have permission from their employers to get an alcohol purchasing license. But just because booze is narrowly legal doesn’t mean it’s actually obtainable: the price of a 24-pack of Heineken increased from $53 to $105 with the rollout of a new 100% tax introduced on New Year’s. Now when you go to the liquor store — and here I mean the liquor store, there is one liquor store named Qatar Distribution Co. on the outskirts of Doha near the graveyard — the price has been reduced to $92 a case after an outcry. What a savings!
In earth-shattering news, Italians are embroiled in an argument and if you can nary believe it, it’s about the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the municipal government, and it even involves money! Every year, tourists throw a cumulative €1.5 million ($1.7 million) into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Historically that money went to the Catholic charity Caritas and specifically to aid the city’s poor, but now local officials are trying to wet their beaks and tap into the funds for infrastructure repair. A resolution that would require a third party to allocate the fountain’s funds will take effect in April, prompting what the press is calling the Battle of the Coins.
Sorry We Missed You
FedEx will pay $35.3 million in a settlement with the New York Attorney General to settle claims it delivered hundreds of thousands of untaxed cigarettes to New Yorkers. Workers who aided in illegally shipping tobacco will be punished, and the ruling comes shortly after a federal judge ruled FedEx violated cigarette trafficking statutes and an agreement to halt residential cigarette deliveries. Remember kids, before you go in on what seems like an idiot-proof import/export business, be sure to triple check to ensure it’s not, you know, just smuggling and tax evasion. Most logistical innovations, in my experience, tend to accidentally be smuggling.
The No. 1 album on this week’s Billboard chart got there by selling a whopping 823 actual albums. Hoodie SZN hit the top spot with rounding-error tier album sales based on its robust 83 million streams, which Billboard and Nielsen credit as the equivalent of 58,000 album sales. This is the lowest ever weekly album sales for a No. 1, a record set last week by I Am > I Was, which sold 3,481 copies and had 84 million streams. Prior to folding streaming into the ranking, the lowest sales for a No. 1 album was 40,748 set in 2011 by Amos Lee’s Mission Bell. Hey, I’m beginning to think that maybe some of the numbers associated with the music industry are perhaps, and hear me out, perhaps a bit sketchy.
From 1979 to 1989, the Antarctic lost 40 billion metric tons of melting ice every year. From 1989 to 1999, it lost 50 billion metric tons of ice to the ocean per year. From 1999 to 2009, that rose to 166 billion metric tons of ice annually, and since 2009, every year 252 billion metric tons of Antarctic ice becomes ocean. Every 360 billion tons equals a millimeter of sea level rise — global sea levels are up 7 to 8 inches since 1900 — and the whole of Antarctica contains 187.66 feet of potential sea level rise. The accelerating rate of ice melting is another sign that things are a bit off the rails, climate wise.
In the U.S., 75.5 percent of women aged 25 to 34 participate in the labor force, which is slightly higher than recession-era levels. Still, this lags behind international peers: Canada (82.8 percent), Germany (79.1 percent) and the U.K.(80.3 percent) all have more young women working, and economists at the San Francisco Fed suggest that the weak U.S. parental leave system is, at least compared to Canada, keeping women from participating in the labor force.
The U.S. government owes an estimated $5.3 billion to federal workers who have not been paid since the federal government shutdown began on Dec. 22. There are 826,531 federal workers who have gone without paychecks, with the total value of delayed wages rising at a rate of $2,000 per second. But hey, at least the people playing with dynamite as a negotiating tactic fully understand the potential consequences of their actions and are in no way impulsively improvising affairs of state.
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