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Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
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2013: Let’s Take A Look At The Numbers

Five. That’s how many degrees Fahrenheit warmer the average water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running over the past 10 years compared to the 100-year average. Scientists believe this is the most likely explanation for the complete collapse of the sweet, bite-sized Northern shrimp stock, which used to yield 25 million pounds in some years. The shrimp themselves are fairly hardy animals, but the warm water can’t support the tiny zooplankton on which the shrimp feed. The annual state survey hasn’t found a juvenile shrimp in three years. The 2014 Maine shrimping season has been cancelled.

129. In 2013, Australia set the record for the warmest summer, which ends in February there, and the warmest spring, which ends in November. January temperatures were so far above historic averages, the Australian Meteorological Bureau had to add new colors to its official maps, which now top off at 129ºF. That’s purple. The new government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott is making good on its campaign promises to dismantle Australia’s renewable energy and carbon emissions programs.

2020. This is the year the Summer Olympics are scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Under the new State Secrets Act adopted this month, whistleblowers and public officials who disclose “special state secrets” about the ongoing peril at the Fukushima nuclear plant will face

10 years in jail. Journalists who investigate “secrets” face five years.

850,000. Many readers know

that 1.3 million Americans will lose federal-backed unemployment benefits on Jan. 1. This is how many additional people will lose this critical support during the first quarter of 2014.

1,290,225. This is how many telephone numbers in the 516 area code are registered with the federal or state Do-Not-Call Registries. In federal Fiscal Year 2013, which ended last Oct. 1, as many as 18,914 Long Island residents took the time to call or write to the Federal Trade Commission about unwanted, deceptive or misleading telemarketing calls.

7,000,000. That’s the equivalent in cars taken off the road by the Province of Ontario’s recently-renewed commitment to move to “Zero Coal” by the end of 2014. Remaining coal-fired power plants will be closed and permanently taken off the province’s power grid. Since 2009, Ontario has built or contracted for energy projects generating more than 7 gigawatts of renewable energy. In 2005, Ontario had 53 “smog days.” So far in 2013, they’ve had two.

1,600,000,000 (1.6 billion). That’s how much in customer dollars brokerage firm MF Global illegally converted to its own use. In a settlement with federal prosecutors, the company will make $1.2 billion in restitution to customers and pay a $100 million fine. Forbes reports that MF Global chief Jon Corzine may start a new hedge fund.

9,000,000,000 (nine billion). That’s value in dollars of tax breaks Governor Inslee approved for Boeing in order to convince it to build its new 777X jetliner in the State of Washington. The tax breaks run through 2040 and were adopted in a special session of the state legislature dedicated solely to Boeing. This was November.

10,000,000,000 (10 billion). That’s how many dollars Boeing announced it will spend to buy back its shares over the next two to three years. The company also announced an increase in dividends of 50 percent. In another part of the newspaper, it says that Boeing is threatening to move construction of its new 777X jetliner if unions don’t agree to end defined pension benefits, increase contributions to health insurance and adopt a two-tiered wage system. This was December.

18,000,000,000 (18 billion). That’s how many taxpayer dollars Boeing alone already had been paid to design and build a missile shield of some kind over the United States as of 2012, when it was granted another $3.48 billion over seven years for the project.


Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: