2006-12-09 / News

Numbers in the news


There are now 35,000 hired guns in Washington, D.C., whose sole mission is to persuade members of Congress to manipulate public policy to their employers’ benefit. Even after the Jack Abramoff scandal and the empty promises of curbing “earmarks” that dole out federal funds without accountability, lobbying remains a growth industry. The figure was 11,725 a decade ago.


Smokers who quit by age 35 will avoid 90 percent of the risk attributed to tobacco during a normal life span. The news is much more jarring for longerterm smokers. Those who quit by age 50 have a 50 percent chance of living for 15 more years.


The number of hunting licenses issued by the Pa. Game Commission has declined by more than 25 percent between 1981 and 2005. Some 964,000 licenses were issued last year, a 40-year low.


If you’re heading out for 12 lords a-leapin’, five golden rings and two turtle doves, you’ll need quite a sum. The cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” items popularized in the Christmas carol went up 3.5 percent this year, to a new figure of $75,100. Inflation has hit most heavily in the wages of the song’s dancers and musicians, since that labor market has tightened.


A bill now before the state legislature would set a $250 fine for using a handheld phone while driving. The measure passed the Senate by a 33-16

vote, but never made it out of the House. Lawmakers believe the legislation will be brought up again in January. Sen. Joe Scarnati opposes the ban, which is being backed by Gov. Ed Rendell. The law would allow the use of equipment enabling the driver to talk without using hands to hold the phone. Similar bans exist in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. California will join those states in 2008. A driver could be fined $250 for the use of a cell phone upon a second offense. The Pa. Dept. of Transportation said 1,170 accidents occurred statewide in 2004 due to drivers talking on handheld cell phones. Some studies show that drivers are just as distracted from the road while using the handless devices.


There’s no word from the Dollar General organization on which of its 8,000-plus stores nationwide will be shut down next year. One media report said 400 stores will close as part of a nationwide restructuring, while 1,300 new stores will open over the next two years.


A Canadian man who shot a mother bear and two cubs last week while deer-hunting will pay about $4,000 in fines and court costs. Angie Cassistga of Quebec killed the bear and her two male cubs while hunting at Wildcat Hollow in Hamlin Township, McKean County.


The brother of Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street received $360,000 a year from a firm that wanted to do business with the city. That was a nice nest egg for T. Milton Street Sr., who was a hot dog vendor before his brother took office but suddenly hired himself out as a “consultant” to business interests vying for millions of dollars in city funds. The mayor’s brother is now accused of failure to pay taxes on $2 million in income -- that’s a lot of hot dogs -- and corruption charges.


Pennsylvania has 65 operating railroads, more than any other state, and more than 5,000 track miles.


Rather than pay $20 a month for storage, Kane Borough is offering its 150 parking meters to collectors, speculators and anyone else who wants them. Cost is $7.95 each. The borough yanked out its meters in 2005 to encourage patronage of downtown businesses.

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