2014-10-04 / Potter County News

NUMBERS IN THE NEWS

Basically, banks being banks...

5.35

— Banks charge large fees to customers using an automatic teller machine that’s not in the bank’s network. Average fee is now $4.35 per transaction, up by five percent in the past year. Overdraft fees are also rising, to an average of $32.74.

“Banks have cleverly hiked these fees to the point where they are now major revenue sources,” said a CNBC analyst. “It’s akin to the way the major retailers such as Sears and JCPenney introduced charge cards in the 1970s. Then they ratcheted up the interest rates and were making more profit from credit card interest than from merchandise sales.”

Basically, big oil being big oil...

.9—

Why do gas prices end in .9 cents? Some sources attribute the practice to the 1920s and 1930s, when the gasoline tax was nine-tenths of a cent. Stations would simply slap the extra 0.9 onto the advertised price of a gallon to give Uncle Sam his cut.

Others theorize that slashing 0.1 cent off the price undercut competitors back in the days when gas was just a few cents per gallon.

Although most drivers simply ignore the extra 0.9 cents, oil companies certainly don’t. In 2013, that extra 0.9 cents per gallon was collectively worth nearly $4.5 million a day. On the flip side, you could also argue that customers collectively saved around $440,000 per day, thanks to stations’ reluctance to round up to the next penny.

How stressed are you?

15.62—

Associated Press produces a “stress index” for every county in the U.S. It’s a simple calculation that incorporates unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Cameron County’s factor is 15.62, down from 17.60 a year ago. Potter County has a stress index of 10.37. It was 11.37 a year ago. McKean and Elk counties are both about 9.7.

Put down the snags, live longer

82—

Lung cancer is the most common form of the disease in the U.S. Eighty-two percent of its victims are smokers. Though other environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides, chemicals in food and household products, and genetic predispositions, can cause lung cancer, the best way to prevent the disease is to quit smoking.

Some of the lung cancer symptoms are persistent cough, coughing up bloody mucus, shortness of breath, hoarseness, swollen lymph nodes, unexplained weight loss and flushing of the face and prominent veins in the face and neck.

Population explosion continues

7.1B—

There was a time when the news media paid attention to a worldwide crisis that gets worse every day. For some reason, population growth is rarely mentioned any more.

Since 1970, when Earth Day dawned, the world population has grown from 3.7 billion to more than 7.1 billion.

Population issues, and the extension of birth control to third-world countries in particular, have become politically distasteful.

Five second rule true?

5—

Who hasn’t used the “five-second rule” to justify eating a cookie that’s touched the floor? After all, everyone knows that if a tasty treat spends less than five seconds on the ground, it doesn’t collect germs.

Well, not exactly.

In 2003, high school student Jillian Clarke performed the first known scientific tests on the five-second rule. Interning in a college lab, she placed gummy bears and cookies on ceramic tiles contaminated with E. coli. The munchies picked up the bacteria within the five-second window.

In a follow-up set of experiments, Clarke tested the bacteria levels of the university’s floors. Her team found very little contamination, even in the most highly trafficked areas of campus. She concluded that many floors are so clean that you can eat off of them.

Highway markers fading

600—

Between World War I and the 1940s, the state installed about 20,000 keystone-shaped highway markers, colored blue and gold, to note historically significant sites. Today, only about 600 remain.

An organization has been formed to repair and reinstall as many of them as possible. Nathaniel Guest of Pottstown is president of the Keystone Marker Trust. To reach him or learn more, see the website, keystonemarkertrust.org.

Privatize ‘liquor’ stores?

67—

Proposals to turn over the state’s 600-plus “wine and spirits shops” to private operators has the support of 67 percent of Pennsylvanians polled. A study finds that the move would generate more than $2 billion for the state.

Twenty-five percent of those questioned oppose the plan. Eight percent are uncertain.

Cost of illegal immigration

170—

It’s difficult to grasp the direct impact of illegal immigration on non-border states.

A Federation for American Immigration Reform study found that each Pennsylvania household pays about $170 a year for education, health care and incarceration costs of illegal aliens.

The tab comes to $788 million in expenses to all Pennsylvanians.

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