Numlock News: September 13, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Good morning!

That Dangerous Stuff The Teenagers Love These Days

The Food and Drug Administration is launching a crackdown on sales of electronic cigarettes to teenagers. When talking about this space, we’re talking almost entirely about Juul, which controls 72 percent of the market. The agency has sent warning letters to 1,169 retailers about selling e-cigarettes to minors and has already issued 131 fines ranging from $279 to $11,182.

Sheila Kaplan and Jan Hoffman, The New York Times, FDA

Victims of a Shooting

MGM Resorts is suing 1,977 victims of the Mandalay Bay shooting that claimed the lives of 58 people and injured more than 800 others. MGM is suing the shooting victims because it doesn’t want to be the target of litigation, mainly because MGM contends that it’s not liable for a mass shooting to happen at one of its properties. To try to mitigate the P.R. hit of 1,977 people who were shot at getting hit with a process server letting them know MGM’s suing them, they’re offering a $500 charitable donation for anyone who waives that legal notice. Apparently MGM Resorts has concluded it makes more financial sense to take the P.R. hit of suing the victims of a mass shooting than to potentially be found liable. I mean, this is a casino we’re talking about, a business that at its vacant heart is the fundamental platonic ideal of amoral capitalism and dispassionate inhumane risk analysis. Let’s see how it goes for them.

Regina Garcia Cano, The Associated Press


The theft of about 7,000 insects from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion appears to be an inside job, according to investigators. The motivation for the bug heist — where 80 percent of the museum’s stock was stolen — is the same as any other, namely greed. The entire theft is estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of bugs, making it the largest living insect heists in memory. The FBI is now involved, as the insects may have been moved across state lines. All I’m saying is that we can’t rule out a ransom, as we haven’t ruled out that Gertrude the Gooty sapphire tarantula isn’t the heiress to an enormous oil fortune.

Jason Bittel, The Washington Post

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Days after India’s high court scrapped a colonial-era law banning gay sex, Johnson Ong Ming is filing a court challenge in Singapore against Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code, which puts a jail sentence of up to two years for homosexual acts between two men. A recent public opinion survey found 55 percent of Singaporeans were in favor of the law as is.


The Pope

American Catholics are cooling somewhat on Pope Francis, a new CNN/SSRS poll conducted in early September found. The poll of 1,003 respondents — 199 of whom were Catholic — found that 48 percent of all respondents had a favorable opinion of the pontiff while 63 percent of Catholics did. A year ago, Francis had an 83 percent favorability rating among Catholics. The poll came after a grand jury report on church sexual abuse an an ensuing coverup in Pennsylvania, but before news the Pope has called for an unprecedented meeting of bishops over the sex abuse scandal.

Grace Sparks, CNN

Hot Pot

A set of viral images and a video of a small rat found in a pot of broth has wiped out $190 million of market value for the parent company of the Xiabu Xiabu chain of restaurants in China. On one hand, that is disgusting, but on the other most people go through life never causing a $190 million loss in value for a publicly listed company so congrats to the rodent.

Tiffany May, The New York Times

Pharmaceutical Middle Men

Bloomberg analyzed 90 best-selling generic drugs — including 500 different dosages and formulations — to find out just how much money pharmacy benefit managers were making off of Medicaid. When a person fills a prescription with employer-sponsored health insurance, a pharmacy benefit manager pays the pharmacy one amount, charges the employer another amount and keeps the spread. Of the $4.2 billion Medicaid insurers spent in 2017 on the generic drugs analyzed, $1.3 billion went to pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacies.

Robert Langreth, David Ingold and Jackie Gu, Bloomberg

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