Significant Digits for Monday, Nov. 25, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.


71 percent turnout

Hong Kong has been racked by protests for months, and residents of the city turned out in droves on Sunday during its district council elections. Voter participation skyrocketed to almost 3 million people, or approximately 71 percent turnout, with many voters lining up and submitting ballots early in the day out of fears that election offices could close earlier than scheduled. As of late Sunday, pro-democracy candidates had won nearly 90 percent of the 452 district council seats, giving them a majority for the first time. [Reuters]


400 metric tons

Canada has a lot of forests, a lot of mountains and, this year, a lot of marijuana. Cannabis producers are reporting enormous stockpiles because of lower-than-expected demand after it was legalized by the national government in October 2018. At the end of August, warehouse inventories stood at almost 400 metric tons, enough of Snoop Dogg’s favorite green stuff to fulfill 30 months’ worth of demand. The continuing popularity of illegal sales, estimated at $2.3 billion this year, has driven down prices at some authorized companies by more than a third. [Financial Times]


28 years of exposure

For 28 years, Lea DiRusso worked in Philadelphia elementary school classrooms surrounded by asbestos. Medical experts believe that her exposure to that damaged insulation put her at much higher risk of developing a rare cancer called mesothelioma. DiRusso was diagnosed in August and will undergo an aggressive surgical procedure and chemotherapy treatment next month. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]


3 cents a minute

A new contract between the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation and a private company will offer inmates free tablets to read books, send emails and communicate with family and friends. But though the digital devices will be free, it will cost — by the minute — to use them: The company will charge 3 cents a minute to read a book, despite the books being provided by a free online library. Wages in West Virginia prisons are estimated at between 4 and 58 cents an hour. [Reason]


At least 40 cases

If you’re planning on serving a salad this week as a healthy Thanksgiving alternative to all the good stuff, make sure you’re not using romaine lettuce from Salinas, California. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that at least 40 cases of E. coli O157:H7 had been linked to the region’s leafy greens, resulting in at least 28 people being hospitalized in 16 states. Symptoms include painful cramps and vomiting, and at least five people experienced kidney failure. [The New York Times]


9-year-old college grad

When I was 9 years old, I was in third grade, I loved Legos, and my favorite class was art. Laurent Simons looks like a lot of other Belgian kids his age, but his brain is so far ahead, he’s on track to finish a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering next month after only nine months of study. The Washington Post reports that the ambitious child has worked on developing a computer circuit that would connect directly to the brain, and he already has plans post-graduation to obtain a Ph.D. and study medicine. [The Washington Post]