Numlock News: September 24, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Good morning!

Robots Have Claimed An Asteroid

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, announced Saturday it successfully landed two unmanned rovers on an asteroid, Ryugu. The pair of rovers — MINERVA-II1 — began their approach on Thursday. Ryugu is a kilometer wide and is believed to have water and organic materials on it. A number of cameras on the rovers have sent back trippy space pictures that would make Stanley Kubrick jealous as heck. I think this technically means that robots are the dominant entity of our solar system, given their unchecked hegemony over a number of worlds like Mars and Ryugu.

Chandler Thornton and Euan McKirdy, CNN

Bait for Tourist Traps

French police seized 20 tons of mini Eiffel Towers as souvenirs offered to tourists. The counterfeits are one product of an extensive network that allegedly conspires to separate tourists from their money without paying sales taxes. The 20 tons are believed to be worth between 500,000 and 800,000 on the Rue, and nine people were taken into custody. The raids were carried out against wholesales who are suspected of importing the fakes and are believed to be linked to organized crime. As a New Yorker, I assure you there’s nothing in the rule book that says it’s bad to rip off tourists. But as a dude who has paid taxes, there are lots and lots and lots of things in the rule book that say you owe the government some money after shaking down the out-of-towners.

Nicolas Jacquard, Céline Carez and Nicolas Maviel, Le Parisian, AFP

Please Refrain From Doing Drugs In My Bathroom

Increasingly, business owners have to deal with drug use happening in their bathrooms. One survey found that 58 percent of managers encountered drug use in their public restrooms. As the opioid epidemic roils the country, many small businesses are finding people overdosing on the premises. Of those managers, 90 percent had no training in how to respond to an overdose or how to administer naloxone.

Lolade Fadulu, The Atlantic

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing is far and away the most popular salad dressing in America, which sounds about right. A study carried out by the Association for Dressings and Sauces — yep, that totally exists, and represents the salad improvement industrial complex — found that 40 percent of Americans counted Ranch as their favorite dressing, with distant runner up Italian coming in with only 10 percent. I mean, I have never dipped cheese fries in Italian dressing when I’m sad, so that makes a ton of sense.

Julia Moskin, The New York Times

Florence Damage

Moody’s Analytics estimated that Hurricane Florence caused between $38 billion and $50 billion worth of economic damage to property, vehicles and lost output. If Florence does end up closer to the $50 billion end of that spectrum, it’d be the seventh worst hurricane based on economic impact, just behind Andrew in 1992. Private insurers estimate $1.7 billion to $5 billion in total Florence-related costs, which exclude flood claims for individual homes.

Leslie Scism and Erin Ailworth, The Wall Street Journal

Afghanistan Security Forces

In 2017, the American and Afghan governments began to keep battlefield death tolls secret in Afghanistan’s war against Taliban insurgents. In 2016, an average of 22 Afghan soldiers and police officers were killed every day. That number has gotten much, much worse, and publicizing the dangers has caused recruitment problems for Afghan security forces. Roughly 57 soldiers and police officers were killed every day last week, and in recent months 30 to 40 security forces have been killed every day. There are 314,000 members of the Afghan security forces, police and army, despite authorization for 352,000.

Rod Nordland, The New York Times

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NRA Money

The National Rifle Association, the most notable gun rights group in the United States, is undergoing a cash crunch. Member dues are down, from $163 million in 2016 to $128 million in 2017. With dues also down in 2016, it’s the first time since at least 2009 that the NRA has had dues decline two consecutive years. In 2017, the group spent $26.1 million more than it brought in.

Kaitlin Washburn and Robert Maguire, The Center for Responsive Politics.

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