Numlock News: September 10, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Campaign Finance Loophole

For the past 22 years, LLCs have been able to propel some $188 million in donations to 6,600 New York State politicians, all while obscuring the sources of where that money originated. Just 35 specific candidates have received half the money, chief among them Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has received one out of every eight dollars donated by an LLC. As of mid-August, $50.4 million in LLC donations have been logged ahead of Thursday’s election.

Jarrett Murphy, The Investigative Fund


Richard Sackler’s family owns Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin. Sackler is also the recipient of a new patent for a new treatment for the opioid addiction his family has essentially industrialized, a new form of buprenorphine that can wean users off opiates. Currently, the brand name version of buprenorphione, Suboxone, generated $887 million in U.S. sales in 2017.

David Crow, The Financial Times


Besides Gary, Indiana, Antarctica is known as “the most desolate and inhospitable place on Earth.” We had better maps of Mars than we did of the continent. Researchers have completed a new hi-res map of the seventh continent called REMA after stitching together 187,585 images collected over the course of six years.

Shannon Stirone, The New York Times


Leslie Moonves is out as the head of CBS following a new report of sexual assault allegations detailed by journalist Ronan Farrow. This concludes a year-long power struggle for control over the company. The removal comes with a $20 million contribution to organizations that support #MeToo and workplace gender equality to be taken out of Moonves’ $100 million-plus severance package. More interestingly, six board members of the 14-member CBS board are being replaced, with the outgoing men replaced by three women and three men.

Cynthia Littleton, Variety


The latest report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 78.7 percent of movie reviews of the top 300 films from 2015 to 2017 were written by men, and all told, about 66 percent of film critics in the set are white guys. This comes as no surprise to anyone who saw Book Club get a mere 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, or who read those sweaty reviews that happen whenever a woman is in a movie.

Marc Choueiti, Stacy L. Smith, and Katherine Pieper, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative

Retail Space

A Douglas Elliman survey found that 20 percent of retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, up from 7 percent in 2016. The difficulties faced by brick-and-mortar shops are coinciding with landlords getting cocky about what they can charge. I don’t mean to alarm them, but not every vacant storefront can become a new Bank of America location. Literally, I saw the Starbucks across the street from the FiveThirtyEight office get gentrified out. A Starbucks! The retail space was empty for a year.

Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times

Urchin Gonads

Sea urchins are prized for their rich, sweet gonads, commonly known as uni, all around the world, but especially in Japan. They’re super healthy for you and are beloved by basically everything in the food chain above the urchin. Japan consumed 80 to 90 percent of the global supply, about 50,000 metric tons annually. Domestically, they only catch about 8,000 to 10,000 tons annually, so places like Canada — which catches about 6,000 tons of urchins annually — send 90 to 95 percent of that to Asia. Man, I feel bad for all of you reading this on an empty stomach, all this talk of urchin gonad must be making you starving.

Jane Zatylny, Hakai Magazine

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