Numlock News: July 28, 2022 • Capri Sun, Shakira, Aotearoa
By Walt Hickey
In 2018, Spanish prosecutors charged pop singer Shakira with tax evasion, claiming that she failed to pay €14.5 million from 2012 to 2014. Prosecutors say she lived mostly in Spain during that period, but Shakira claims her official residence was in the Bahamas. The latest news is that prosecutors offered Shakira some kind of deal, the terms of which were not revealed, but that Shakira will decline to take it and take this to trial. If found guilty, she faces a possible prison sentence and fines, as well as impugning the legendary forthrightness and on-the-level dealings of her hips.
According to the president of the American Library Association’s Graphic Novel and Comics Round Table, last year there were 729 total book challenges related to books for young readers in school and public libraries, up substantially from the 156 such challenges lodged in 2020 and the 377 lodged in 2019. According to artists and cartoonists whose work has been targeted by the bans, these are coordinated, scripted challenges often lodged by people who don’t even live in the school district in question.
Flags of Convenience
Several countries offer ships the options of “flags of convenience,” where for a fee companies can register their ships under the flag of a country that the ownership and vessel don’t actually have any real relationship with. The motivation for doing so is that some countries are fairly lax when it comes to enforcement of different maritime laws, and lately an issue has been Cameroon, which has been handing out its flag to all kinds of companies that in the past have been accused of illegal fishing. In 2018, just 14 vessels sailed under the Cameroonian flag, a figure that today stands at 129 vessels. Meanwhile the budget for the ministry that supervises fisheries declined 32 percent from 2019 to 2021.
When the human diet contains an elevated level of protein, the amount of nitrogen excreted in urine shoots up. This means that nitrogen from sewage is becoming a major issue, with new research finding that anywhere from 67 percent to 100 percent of the nitrogen pollution in wastewater is a by-product of human consumption. Elevated nitrogen causes all sorts of bad feedback loops in the environment, encouraging algae and causing dead zones. It’s possible to treat sewage in a way that removes 90 percent of the nitrogen from wastewater, but in the U.S. only 1 percent of sewage is actually treated this way.
Aotearoa is the Māori word for the clouds that, according to oral history, led Polynesian navigators to the islands now commonly called New Zealand, and some lawmakers want to change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa. Many countries have been taking new looks at their name, and in New Zealand a petition to rename the country Aotearoa got 70,000 signatures and will be reviewed by a parliamentary committee. The word appears on bank notes and in passports, and in some official government documents the country is referred to as Aotearoa New Zealand. According to the latest opinion polling, most prefer to keep “New Zealand,” but “Aotearoa” and “Aotearoa New Zealand” combine to about 40 percent support.
A new study found that at age 26 fully 30 percent of Americans live in the same census tract they lived in when they were 16, and given how small most census tracts are, that means pretty much in the same neighborhood of 1,200 to 8,000 people. Expanding out just a bit more, 58 percent of 26-year-old Americans live within 10 miles of where they were when they were 16, and 80 percent live within 100 miles. While mobility for Americans used to be rather high, with factors like large student loan balances and the entry-level starter home market becoming an oubliette of sadness, it’s unsurprising that lately it’s been cratering.
Kraft Heinz announced it’s reformulated the Capri Sun juice pouch to have an average of 40 percent less sugar per serving, the largest tweak to Capri Sun since its 1986 launch. They accomplished this by adding in monk fruit, which has sweeteners that are 150 to 200 times as sweet as sugar but with zero calories, which in Capri Sun’s case knocks down the sugar level from 13 grams of sugar per serving to 8 grams per serving. Kraft Heinz promised to cut the total sugar level in its entire product line by 60 million pounds of sugar by 2025, and the Capri Sun tweak will handle over half that goal singlehandedly. It is unclear if this will have any effect on the key use case of Capri Sun, which is to turn drinkers into silvery goo that are excellent at extreme sports.
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