Numlock News: February 15, 2023 • Rats, PACs, Reptiles
By Walt Hickey
A federal, state, and local raid of Kirk’s Collectibles in South Carolina found fake sports memorabilia that would have had a value of $15 million if sold off as the bona fide article. Authorities seized 157 fake Super Bowl rings, 83 fake NBA Finals rings, 99 fake World Series rings, 29 fake Stanley Cup rings and 251 fake NCAA championship rings from various sports. That’s going to be tough to explain, I grant, unless they go with my proposed “I am an extremely athletically successful time traveller” defense.
A Canadian man was sentenced to 14 months in prison plus two years of supervised release owing to his role in a global reptile smuggling operation that trafficked all sorts of American reptiles to Asia, many of which were protected under the CITES agreement governing the global animal trade. The man and two accomplices moved over 8,700 protected animals worth $5.13 million, as well as an additional 61,622 animals not protected under CITES. They all pleaded guilty, and the pair of accomplices got a lighter punishment for cooperating with American authorities.
Speed dating is back, as are events specifically designed for singles to meet large numbers of other singles in a meetup. According to Eventbrite, there were 11,000 events mentioning singles and dating in the 12 months leading up to February 1, which was up 25 percent compared to the same period leading up to February 1, 2019. Bumble has hosted in-person events in 10 cities as well, showing that the digital dating scene is at times becoming yet again analog. As the economy pinches many, it’s also economical: Rather than spend a bunch of money on multiple bad dates, spending a bunch of money on one event and banging out all the bad dates in quick succession is downright cost-effective.
State and local governments have long had to compete with higher wages in the private sector in their quests to recruit talent, but they do have an ace in the hole: pensions. According to a study of government workers, 80 percent of millennial state and local government employees believe they can make more money in the private sector, but 84 percent of those workers also said that their pension benefit was the reason they’re staying in the public sector. When states kill those pension plans — like Alaska did in 2005 — they find it hard to recruit and retain public employees, and Alaska has spent $20 million a year just trying to staff its education system.
In 2018, Walmart paid $16 billion for a 77 percent stake in Flipkart, an e-commerce company that focuses mainly on India. The purchase was viewed as a risky move at the time, and Walmart was thought to have overpaid. Flipkart’s since doubled in value, and has been besting even Amazon on the subcontinent, with an estimated 2021 gross merchandise value of $23 billion compared to Amazon’s $18 billion to $20 billion. Flipkart and its fashion platform Myntra have a 60 percent market share of the online fashion market in India. Right now India’s estimated to have a $64 billion online shopping market, but it’s very early days, as e-commerce is just a single-digit percentage of the overall retail market compared to 14 percent in the U.S. and 24.5 percent in China.
Leadership PACs are ways that members of Congress can raise money that they then give out to their colleagues in an attempt to lobby support for their goals on committees and in party leadership. As of Election Day last year, 93 percent of the 117th Congress had one, and of the 73 new freshmen members of the House of Representatives already 44 have spun up a leadership PAC, or 60 percent. While the job is ostensibly to legislate, in reality members of Congress spend an enormous amount of time working the phones to raise money. The median amount of money raised by a freshman member of the previous Congress was $2.9 million, meaning they had to average $3,900 per day over their term on the phones. For the median House incumbents running in toss-up races, that was $7,200 per day.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, an avowedly anti-rat politician, has been fined $300 for harboring rats at a property he owns in Brooklyn. A hearing officer denied Adams’ appeal of one of two tickets he got from a health inspector in December who found evidence of a rodent infestation in the Bed-Stuy townhouse. Adams blamed a neighbor, and claimed he had spent $8,000 to try to kill the rodents over the past year.
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