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An American flag flies atop Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Sipa USA via Reuters

HARD NUMBERS: Americans on the same page, Africans in rural Quebec, Chickens on death row, Honeybees on the rise

90: There are plenty of things that divide Americans these days, but what unites them? More than you’d think. A new poll shows that 90% of people in the US say that “equal protection under the law,” the “right to vote,” and “free speech” are fundamental to US identity. The “right to privacy,” “freedom of religion,” and “freedom of assembly” all come in above 80%. But polarization is never far away: The number drops to just 54% for “the right to bear arms.”

4,500: The once-declining northern Quebec town of Rouyn-Noranda, located some 400 miles northwest of Montreal, has been economically and culturally revitalized in recent years by an influx of immigrants from Africa. Of the 4,500 temporary foreign laborers in the city, the vast majority are from French-speaking African countries like Cameroon or the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city’s most famous poutine restaurant is now owned by a couple from Benin.

2 million: The largest egg producer in the US, Cal-Maine foods, has destroyed nearly 2 million chickens after detecting a case of avian flu at a farm in Texas. The news came just a day after a farmer was infected with the disease after coming into contact with cows that had it. Health officials said there was minimal broader health risk for now, but with egg prices already creeping back up to their highest levels since April 2023, consumers are likely to feel the outbreak at the checkout aisle before long.

3.8 million: From the birds to the bees … The latest US Department of Agriculture Census shows that the honeybee population has soared to 3.8 million colonies, the highest figure on record. After years of concern about the plight of the bumblebee, the sudden turnaround raised some antennae. It seems that a buzzing boom in smaller beekeepers, driven in part by fresh tax incentives, accounts for the change of fortunes. And now, listen to Rimsky-Korsakov.

Columbia River Gorge

Panoramic via Reuters

Hard Numbers: A river runs through US-Canada talks, Indian hackers hit CAF, Swedes supercharge Quebec investment, Unifor sets sights on GM, Canada emits mixed picture on climate progress

40: The US and Canada are in an eddy of difficult negotiations about water use from the shared Columbia River, whose dams provide half of British Columbia’s electricity and 40% of all US hydropower. Time is running out — the 1964 treaty that governs the two countries’ use of the river expires next September.

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A graphic showing English-French bilingualism in Canada.

GZERO Media/ Luisa Vieria

The Graphic Truth: English-French bilingualism in Canada

Parlez-vous le français? Probably pas très bien if you live outside Quebec, according to census data from Statistics Canada.

The share of Canadians who can hold a conversation in both English and French has plateaued around 18% for two decades, despite strong legal protections for the French language and official encouragement of bilingualism.

The background: Political rivalries between English and French-speaking Canadians dominated the early history of the country, and fuel some radical independence movements in Quebec even today. Official adoption of bilingualism at a federal level in 1969 was meant to help heal the rift.

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Jess Frampton

Hard Numbers: US inflation soars, India health worker shortage, Quebec’s no-vax tax, African soccer scandal

7: US monthly inflation in December crept up to 7 percent, the highest year-on-year rise since 1982. The Federal Reserve has signaled it may raise interest rates higher, and sooner, than previously expected to fight rising prices.

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