Numlock News: October 23, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Pets

Spending on domestic animals has surged in China, growing eightfold since 2010 to $25 billion per year. There’s also a ton of room to grow: while China has four times as many people as the U.S., it has about half as many household pets, with (to use some industry jargon) 51 million doggies and 41 million kitty cats. These pet owners often prefer pet food sourced internationally given recent struggles with quality assurance in China, which included high-profile incidents of tainted infant formula and vaccines.

Ailin Tang and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. is reporting that five documents it purported to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls are, in fact, fakes. The museum, which opened last year, is the $500 million project from the Oklahoma family behind Hobby Lobby. These fakes are just the latest in a string of issues for the museum. You may recall my favorite lawsuit, “United States of America v. Approximately Four Hundred Fifty (450) Ancient Cuneiform Tablets et al,” where the government sued to recover looted artifacts from Iraq and Hobby Lobby paid $3 million to settle the charges. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 70 years ago and are made up of over 900 manuscripts and about 50,000 fragments, a find that led to forgeries flooding the market. Scholars say roughly two to four of the 16 fragments may be authentic.

Daniel Burke, CNN

Iraq

A 1,300 page two-volume history of the Iraq War was written by the Pentagon between 2013 and 2016. The document, collected while memories of the war were fresh and based on 30,000 pages of documents and over 100 interviews, has been described by former national security adviser H.R. McMaster as the “best and most comprehensive operational study of the U.S. experience in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.” It also has inexplicably not been published yet, despite the intention to create an unclassified history of the U.S. Army’s experience in Iraq.

Michael R. Gordon, The Wall Street Journal

Vote

On November 6, only 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote on Election Day, up from 37 percent in 2016. This is a perfect opportunity to point out there is absolutely no reason Election Day is not a national holiday or held on a weekend, as it is in literally most democracies, particularly when in 2014, 35 percent of registered voters who did not vote said they couldn’t because of work or school obligations. But sure, keep blaming the young people who are unable to vote as reliably as retired people, great plan.

Jordyn Holman and Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg

What Are We Less Cool With Since 2016?

A new Pew Research Center study found that U.S. adults have had some priorities realigned in the past two years. For instance, 68 percent of 2018 adults say drug addiction is a very big problem in the country, a figure at 56 percent in 2016. Other issues on the rise include the affordability of college (52 percent said it was a big problem in 2016, now up to 63 percent), sexism (up from 23 percent to 34 percent), racism (39 percent to 46 percent) and gun violence (48 percent to 53 percent).

Hannah Hartig and Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center

Kelp

The vast kelp forests that support a diverse marine ecosystem off the coast of Northern California have declined by 93 percent, and it comes down to urchins. Red urchins are commercially viable because people eat them, while purple urchins are not. But a plague afflicting starfish — a predator of urchins — has let the kelp-eating urchins run wild, and the warming of the oceans has hurt the cool-water kelp. The purple urchins are outcompeting the red urchins, devouring the forests like underwater locusts and driving fishermen out of business. The value of Northern California’s red urchin fishery fell from $3.6 million in 2013 to $600,000 in 2016.

Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times

Marijuana Industrial Complex

In Colorado, marijuana sales through August hit $1,022,245,511 and are projected to handily surpass the $1.5 billion in sales notched last year, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s mid-year update. Tax revenue from that weed is about $200 million for Colorado. That’s money that — in states that have not legalized marijuana — does not go to education, but rather investments in more video games for people who sell weed.

Joe Rubino, The Denver Post

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