(NEW YORK) — Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of a disabled Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Great Britain on charges he conspired to support al-Qaeda, in part by trying to create a training camp in Oregon 15 years ago. MoreUp in the Sky—It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s the FBIUkraine Arrests 70 in ‘Anti-Terrorist’ RaidMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostSee Mad Men Star Kiernan Shipka's Style Evolve from Cute Kid to Chic Teen People
The trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa occurs a month after a Manhattan jury convicted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al-Qaeda’s spokesman after the 2001 attacks, of charges that will likely result in a life sentence.
The 55-year-old Mustafa has alerted his lawyers and U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest that he will testify on his own behalf. At a pretrial hearing last week, he told the judge: “I think I am innocent. I need to go through it, have a chance to defend myself.”
Prosecutors say he conspired to support al-Qaeda by trying in 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., by arranging for others to attend an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and by ensuring there was satellite phone service for hostage takers in Yemen in 1998 who abducted two American tourists and 14 others.
Three Britons and an Australian were killed as the Yemeni military attempted to rescue the hostages. Two women, an American and a Briton, were wounded. Officials said the hostages were seized as demands were made to release two Islamic jihad leaders.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Patrick McGinley said the government had plenty of evidence to sift through, including media interviews and recordings of his weekly speeches.
“We culled it down from thousands of hours to less than an hour’s worth of recordings that we intend to play,” McGinley told the judge.
Still, defense attorney Jeremy Schneider said the jury will be subjected to references by his client and others to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, along with repeated mentions of the 9/11 attacks and the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor in Yemen.
He said the statements were chosen by prosecutors “because these statements are the ones that are the most unduly prejudicial.”
Schneider also has belittled the government’s portrayal of plans to open an al-Qaeda training camp on 360 acres in Bly, saying the effort in late 1999 and early 2000 resembled a retreat, with “just a few people shooting at targets, riding horseback, having fun at the farm.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim said Schneider’s description was false. He said guns found in the homes of participants in the Bly training “tends to disprove … that this was all just a lark in the woods.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan said prosecutors plan to show jurors that Mustafa supported acts committed by al-Qaeda such as the Cole attack and that he said the World Trade Center was a legitimate target.
The white-haired Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, turned London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s into a training ground for Islamic extremists, attracting men including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Mustafa has one eye and claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges of inciting racial hatred and encouraging followers to kill non-Muslims, Mustafa was brought to the United States for trial in fall 2012.
This pre-recorded short opens with a couple of buddies who just happen to be monsters — ugly, green, disfigured monsters. Some awful bully, played by Seth Rogen, makes them feel terrible about themselves, prompting one of them to undergo expensive plastic surgery so he can look like a normal human (the surgery goes pretty well, because he comes out looking like James Franco).
Mike O’Brien also stars as Franco’s fellow monster, who eventually gives in and gets the human-transformation surgery too. When the friends reunite afterward, Franco asks O’Brien why he chose that face. “It’s just a little bit cheaper,” he explains.
The tone of “Monster Pals” is reminiscent of the excellent “Sad Mouse” sketch from 2012, though the former is much lighter and funnier.
Pope Francis proved Sunday that the selfie craze is here to stay when he posed for them with young eager photographers after his Palm Sunday Homily.
The pope spoke entirely off-the-cuff during his Palm Sunday address, ignoring his prepared homily and calling on people to look into their own hearts to see how they’re living their lives. He cited Judas and Pontius Pilate as warning examples during his homily, the Associated Press reports.
After the address, Pope Francis boarded his specially-designed popemobile, and riding through a dense crowd, noticed a group of Polish youths clamoring for a selfie with the religious leader. Pope Francis, who has sought to reconnect the Church with everyday and marginalized people, hopped off his open-topped vehicle and obliged the request.
Francis made waves with his first selfie last summer, and has taken several more since then.
Updated 1:15 PM ET MorePowerful Aftershock Rocks Chile a Day After Massive EarthquakeMagnitude-8.2 Quake Strikes Northern ChileMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostBeyoncé, Jay Z and Gwen Stefani: Coachella's Cameo-Packed Saturday People
(VALPARAISO, Chile) — A raging fire leaped from hilltop to hilltop in this colorful port city, killing at least 16 people and destroying more than 500 homes. More than 10,000 people were evacuated, including more than 200 female inmates at a prison.
The fire began Saturday afternoon in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city’s many hilltops, and spread quickly as high winds rained hot ash over wooden houses and narrow streets. Electricity failed as the fire grew, with towering, sparking flames turning the night sky orange over the darkened remains of entire neighborhoods.
“It’s a tremendous tragedy. This could be the worst fire in the city’s history,” President Michelle Bachelet said as firefighters contained most of the blazes, mobilizing 18 helicopters and planes to drop water on hotspots Sunday.
Bachelet warned that the toll of death and damage would rise once authorities can enter the smoldering remains. Military Police Gen. Julio Pineda said 16 were killed and more than 500 people were injured. Patricio Bustos, who directs the national forensics service, said DNA tests would be needed to identify remains.
It was already the worst fire to hit the picturesque seaside city of 250,000 people since 1953, when 50 people were killed and every structure was destroyed on several of the city’s hills.
While the fires were mostly contained to several hilltops, Bachelet declared the entire city a catastrophe zone, putting Chile’s military in charge of maintaining order. “The people of Valparaiso have courage, have strength and they aren’t alone,” Bachelet said.
Valparaiso, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, is known for colorful neighborhoods hugging hills so steep that people have to use staircases rather than streets. About 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Santiago, it has a vibrant port and is home to Chile’s national legislature.
But many homes in poorer areas above the city center have been built without water supplies or access points would enable firefighters to intervene, so much of the fight was from the air.
“This is the worst catastrophe I’ve seen,” said Ricardo Bravo, the regional governor. “Now we have to make sure the fire doesn’t reach the city center, which would make this emergency much more serious.”
While 1,250 firefighters, police and forest rangers battled the blaze, 2,000 Chilean sailors in combat gear patrolled streets to maintain order and prevent looting.
Shelters were overflowing, and hospitals treated hundreds of people for breathing problems provoked by the smoke. Maria Elizabeth Diaz, eight months pregnant and trying to rest with her two sons in a shelter set up in Valparaiso’s Greek School, said she had been hesitant to flee her home in Cerro Las Canas when she first learned that the hilltop above her was on fire.
“I didn’t want to move because I was afraid they’d rob me, but I had to flee when I saw the fire was coming down the hill,” she said. “I lost everything. Now I’ve been ordered to rest because I was having contractions. My little one knows that he can’t arrive quite yet.”
Another evacuee, Erica Gonzalez, 74, said her daughter and some neighbors had to carry her to safety because the fire burned her wheelchair.
“I was left in the street. My house was completely burned, and that of my daughter a block away,” she said, visibly upset as she hugged a grandchild.
As fires were contained in some areas, some people managed to return and discover that their homes had been destroyed.
“It’s frightening, everything is burned,” said Francisca Granados, who had spent the night with friends in the neighboring city of Vina del Mar.
Thick clouds of smoke surrounded the city’s prison, where nine pregnant inmates were transferred to a detention facility in the nearby city of Quillota. Another 204 female inmates were being evacuated to a sports arena. More than 2,700 male inmates will remain at the prison for now, prison guard commander Tulio Arce said.
(ATHENS, Greece) — Hundreds of protesters battled with riot police in one of the Greek capital’s main shopping districts. No injuries or damage have been reported.
About 500 protesters, which included retail employees but also several anarchists, closed access to shops on a central Athens street and handed leaflets protesting the extension of Sunday shopping and longer opening hours for the shops.
A large throng of passers-by protested the action and in the end it was riot police who dispersed the protesters pushing them back using pepper spray, which also sent passers-by scrambling to avoid the noxious fumes.
Despite the protest, which lasted about three hours, shop owners claimed business was brisk before and after.
Left-wing activists and the Greek Orthodox Church oppose the extension of Sunday shopping for different reasons.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papa New Guinea after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook the Pacific.
The earthquake occurred 69 miles south of Kirakira on the Solomon Islands Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was initially categorized a magnitude 7.7 before being revised down to a 7.5.
The tremors could lead to a violent tsunami, warned the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Authorities in the region were advised to take action.
“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours,” warned the PTWC.
An 8.0 magnitude earthquake in February 2013 set off a tsunami that killed at least five people in a remote part of the Solomon Islands, Al Jazeera reported at the time.
Seth Rogen stopped by Studio 8H to host Saturday Night Live for the third time this week, sharing excerpts from the diary he’s been keeping to document the process.
This made it very easy for the actor to poke fun at his friend James Franco, who recently apologized for trying to woo a teenage girl on Instagram. Turns out it was all just an elaborate prank Rogen pulled to make himself feel better about his lackluster performance during rehearsals.
But before Rogen continued, he was interrupted by a few of his celebrity pals. James Franco stops by, of course, along with a ukelele-toting Zooey Deschanel.
But then, CURVEBALL: Taylor Swift showed up. “Why are you here? Why did you come?” Rogen demanded. “You were getting really upset,” the singer explains, “and every time a man shows emotion, I appear.”
Underwater signals detected in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet have gone quiet, leading experts to believe the batteries in the aircraft’s black box transmitter system may have died.
Without pings sent from the plane’s black box, the desperate international air and sea search for MH370 may be extended by weeks or months, reports the Associated Press.
Ocean Shield, an Australian ship sailing with ping locator in tow, detected earlier this week a total of four signals determined to be consistent with the missing Boeing 777′s black box. The search teams’ discovery of the pings narrowed the search down to a 500-square-mile patch of deep seabed—about the size of Los Angeles—but the area will remain difficult to comb without further signals.
A Bluefin 21 submersible will be deployed to scour the sea floor only when officials are certain no more electronic signals will come. The submersible, which takes six times longer to cover the same distance as the Ocean Shield’s ping locator, will require between six weeks to two months to search the underwater zone.
The battery life on the black box’s beacon is meant to last 30 days. With 37 days having elapsed since MH370 disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, search teams fear the signals may have died. Without the aircraft’s black box, it may be impossible to determine what happened to the 239 people aboard the vanished aircraft.
(LONDON) — World-record holder Wilson Kipsang won the London Marathon for the second time on Sunday, producing a course-record time to see off a strong field despite arriving late in the British capital after his passport was stolen.
The 32-year-old Kenyan completed the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 29 seconds — 11 seconds inside the previous fastest run in London by Emmanuel Mutai in 2011.
“I was really feeling good and I controlled the guys” said Kipsang, who also won the 2012 race.
Compatriot Stanley Biwott was 26 seconds adrift in second, and deposed London champion Tsegaye Kebede was just over two minutes behind Kipsang in third, but it was a disappointing full marathon debut for Mo Farah.
In a city bathed in sunshine, Londoners came out to cheer the home favorite only to see him finish eighth, almost four minutes behind Kipsang. But despite failing to match his track feats in the city in 2012, when he won the 5,000 and 10,000 meter-titles at the Olympics, Farah will return for another shot at the marathon.
“I’m not going to finish it like this,” Farah said. “I’ll be back. It’s a matter of experience and learning.”
Before Kipsang’s dominating performance, there was a sprint finish in the women’s race in front of Buckingham Palace, and two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat won at her fourth attempt.
After twice finishing second in London, the 34-year-old Kenyan completed in 2:20:21 — 3 seconds ahead of compatriot and namesake, Florence Kiplagat.
In the women’s wheelchair race, Tatyana McFadden swapped the slopes for the streets as she successfully defended her London title with a dominant performance, winning in a course record time of 1:45:11. Her win came a month after the 24-year-old American collected her first Winter Paralympics medal — silver in cross-country skiing in Sochi.
“I was not in my chair for three weeks,” McFadden said. “It was a tough race, but I stayed calm and relaxed, and I tried to use the downhills as much as I could.”
(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter’s Square, ignored his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice. Later, he hopped off his popemobile to pose for “selfies” with young people in the crowd.
In his homily, Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.
“Has my life fallen asleep?” Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’ disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.
“Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?”
He sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.
“Where is my heart?” the pope asked, pinpointing that as the “question which accompanies us” throughout Holy Week.
Francis seemed to regain his wind after the 2 ½ hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally than he at that point. Then he posed for “selfies” with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.
He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped popemobile when he spotted Polish youths, they, too, clamoring for a “selfie” with a pope, and he hopped off, to oblige them.
In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.
Francis used a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope wants to put people on the margins of life at the center of the church’s attention.
Francis wore red vestments, symbolizing blood shed by the crucified Jesus.
Holy Week culminates next Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St. Peter’s Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII. Francis noted that John Paul’s long-time aide, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had come to Rome.
Francis noted he’ll be making a pilgrimage to South Korea this summer, with the key event, church World Youth Day celebrations on Aug. 15 in Daejeon.
(BAGHDAD) — Officials say a car bombing in northern Iraq has killed at least 10 people and wounded 12 others.
A police officer says the parked explosives-laden car targeted a joint Iraqi army and police patrol while it passed through a busy commercial area in the city of Mosul on Sunday. He added that at least five civilians and five security personnel were killed in that blast.
A medical official confirmed the figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Mosul is located about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year, with 2013 seeing the highest death toll since the worst of 2007′s sectarian bloodletting, according to the United Nations figures.
(RED BLUFF, Calif.) — Federal investigators are looking into a driver’s claim that a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened out-of-control across a freeway median and slammed into a bus taking high school students on a college tour, killing 10 people in a fiery wreck. MoreSchool Recruiter, 26, Is Named as Bus Crash Victim10 Killed After Truck Hits Students’ Bus in CaliforniaMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostIron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli: How I Got My Daughter to Eat - and Like! - Broccoli People
The investigators are looking for more witnesses who could corroborate the driver’s claim, and planned to examine crash scene evidence for clues of a fire before the vehicles exploded into towering flames on a Northern California highway, National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said Saturday. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Subscribe Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants
He said the truck left no skid marks, on either the roadway or the median, as it veered into oncoming traffic, sideswiping a Nissan Altima before crashing into the bus. Five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers died in Thursday’s collision on a stretch of Interstate 5 in Orland, a small city about 100 miles north of Sacramento.
Some of the victims were thrown from the bus, Rosekind said.
The woman who drove the sedan told investigators and a KNBC-TV reporter that flames were coming from the lower rear of the truck cab.
“It was in flames as it came through the median,” Bonnie Duran said. “It wasn’t like the whole thing was engulfed. It was coming up wrapping around him.”
Initial reports by police made no mention of a fire before the crash.
The bus was gutted and the truck was a mangled mess after the fiery crash, making it difficult for investigators to determine whether a fire started in the truck before impact. Rosekind said investigators planned to look at blood tests to determine whether the FedEx driver inhaled smoke before the collision, and whether he was impaired.
A family member told the Sacramento Bee the truck driver was Tim Evans, 32, of Elk Grove, Calif.
A blood test will also be conducted for the bus driver, who had only been driving a short time after relieving another driver during a stop in Sacramento. Rosekind said more than 145 feet of tire marks showed that the bus driver tried to brake and swerve to the right to avoid being hit.
He said the bus’ black box-style electronic control module was recovered and will be analyzed. The truck’s device was destroyed, but other steps will be taken to analyze its speed and maneuvering.
In addition to the cause of the crash, federal transportation authorities are examining whether fire safety measures they previously recommended for motor coaches could have allowed more of the 48 bus occupants to escape unharmed.
Bodies recovered from the bus were charred beyond recognition. Dozens of students had injuries including burns, and several remained hospitalized.
Fire safety has been a longstanding concern of the NTSB.
After a 2005 bus fire killed 23 nursing home evacuees escaping Hurricane Rita in Texas, the agency called for safety standards that could make buses less vulnerable to fire, including improved protection of fuel tanks. More recently, the NTSB says buses must have sophisticated suppression systems to control fires, much as high-rise buildings have sprinkler systems.
The NTSB, which investigates accidents and their causes, has no authority to require safety changes it recommends.
But a bill passed by Congress in June 2012 directed the Department of Transportation to conduct research and tests on ways to prevent fires or mitigate the effects, among other safety issues. That included evacuating passengers, as well automatic fire suppression, smoke suppression and improved fire extinguishers. Representatives of the bus industry told Congress that manufacturers were increasingly and voluntarily adding such features.
As part of its investigation into Thursday’s crash, the NTSB will also evaluate whether there should have been a barrier on the median to help prevent head-on collisions. Barriers are required when medians are less than 50 feet wide; this one was 60.
The 44 Southern California high school students on the bus, many hoping to become the first in their families to attend college, were on a free trip arranged by Humboldt State University. The university chartered two more buses to bring more than 500 prospective students to the campus for a three-day visit. Those who made it to the university were sent home earlier than scheduled Saturday morning in light of the tragedy.
(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Partial results in Afghanistan’s crucial presidential election show a tight race between ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah has received 41.9 percent of the votes counted so far and Ghani has 37.6 percent.
The chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, warned that the front-runner could easily change.
The results released Sunday are for 10 percent of the vote in 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. They represent a little over 500,000 of the 7 million ballots cast.
Abdullah, who came in second in the disputed 2009 election, had 212,312 votes. Ghani had 190,561 and former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul trailed with 49,821 votes.
Full preliminary results are due April 24. A runoff in May could be necessary if no candidate gets a majority.
(PERTH, Australia) — Following four strong underwater signals in the past week, all has gone quiet in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, meaning the batteries in the plane’s all-important black boxes may finally have died. MorePictures of the Week: April 4 – April 11Search Narrows for Flight 370Men Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostIron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli: How I Got My Daughter to Eat - and Like! - Broccoli People
Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes’ locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews were continuing their search in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday for debris and any sounds that may still be emanating. They are desperately trying to pinpoint where the Boeing 777 could be amid an enormous patch of deep ocean.
No new electronic pings have been detected since Tuesday by an Australian ship dragging a U.S. Navy device that listens for flight recorder signals. Once officials are confident that no more sounds will be heard, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage.
“We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas. “The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days. We’re hoping it might last 40 days. However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”
Recovering the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is essential for investigators to try to figure out what happened to Flight 370, which vanished March 8. It was carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
After analyzing satellite data, officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Investigators trying to determine what happened to the plane are focusing on four areas — hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems of those on board.
Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which was towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday, but no new ones have been picked up since then.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed confidence that the pings picked up by the Ocean Shield were coming from the plane’s two black boxes, but he cautioned that finding the actual aircraft could take a long time.
“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month. There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this,” Abbott said Saturday in Beijing, where he was wrapping up a visit to China.
Searchers want to pinpoint the exact location of the source of the sounds — or as close as they can get — before sending the Bluefin 21 submersible down. It will not be deployed until officials are confident that no other electronic signals will come, and that they have narrowed the search area as much as possible.
The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometer (500-square-mile) patch of the seabed, about the size of Los Angeles.
The sub takes six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator, and will need about six weeks to two months to canvass the current underwater zone. The signals are also coming from 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) below the surface, which is the deepest the sub can dive.
The surface area being searched on Sunday for floating debris was 57,506 square kilometers (22,203 square miles) of ocean extending about 2,200 kilometers (1,367 miles) northwest of Perth. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships were participating in the hunt.
(SLOVYANSK, Ukraine) — Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, according to the interior minister, who said one Ukrainian security officer was killed and five others were wounded. It was the first reported gunbattle in east Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia men have seized a number of law enforcement buildings in recent days. MoreBiden to Travel to Ukraine Later This MonthUkraine Gets Energy Help Amid Threats From RussiaMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostWhy is Denis Leary Constantly Apologizing? People
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post that a Security Service officer was killed in Slovyansk, where the police station and local Security Service office were seized a day earlier by camouflaged armed men. He also reported an unclear number of casualties among the militia. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Subscribe Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants
An Associated Press reporter on the ground didn’t see any sign of violence when he arrived Sunday.
Unrest has spread to several municipalities in eastern Ukraine, including the major industrial city of Donetsk, which has a large Russian-speaking population.
Donetsk was also the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president ousted in February following months of protests in Kiev, the capital, that were ignited by his decision to back away from closer relations with the European Union and turn toward Russia. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s east widely fear that the new pro-Western Ukrainian government will suppress them.
The regional administration in Donetsk issued a statement, confirming one dead but said there were altogether nine wounded people. They wouldn’t say who the wounded people were, but said the man who died was killed in gunfire outside Slovyansk.
Avakov has described the unrest as “Russian aggression.”
In an earlier post, he said the men who seized the buildings in Slovyansk had opened fire on Ukrainian special forces sent to the city Sunday. He called on residents to remain calm and stay at home.
An Associated Press reporter saw no signs of any shots fired at the police station, which was surrounded by a reinforced line of barricades. Unlike on Saturday, the men patrolling the barricades were largely unarmed. One of the guards who asked not to be identified denied reports of fighting at the police station.
Armed camouflaged men were guarding a checkpoint at the main entrance into the city.
Ukrainian lawmaker Oleh Lyashko said Sunday afternoon that Ukrainian forces managed to take control of the city hall, the security service’s branch and the police station in Slovyansk. This could not be immediately verified.
In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed strong concern” that the attacks “were orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” according the State Department. Kerry “made clear that if Russia didn’t take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine’s border, there would be additional consequences,” the department said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry debunked Kerry’s claims, while Lavrov blamed the crisis in Ukraine on the failure of the Ukrainian government “to take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population,” the ministry said. Lavrov also warned that Russia may pull out of next week’s Ukraine summit if Kiev uses force against “residents of the southeast who were driven to despair.”
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday said he is concerned by the rising tensions in eastern Ukraine which he described as “a concerted campaign of violence by pro-Russian separatists, aiming to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign state.” Fogh Rasmussen likened the developments in the east to what happened in Crimea last month when men in unmarked uniforms occupied the region.
“Any further Russian military interference, under any pretext, will only deepen Russia’s international isolation,” he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is in Ukraine this weekend, condemned the unrest in a Twitter post as “a coordinated armed action to seize control over key parts of Eastern Ukraine,” which “would not have happened without Russia.”
In Slovyansk, the mayor said Saturday the men who seized the police station were demanding a referendum on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia. Protesters in other eastern cities have made similar demands after a referendum in Crimea last month in which voters opted to split off from Ukraine, leading to annexation by Russia.
Overnight, the interior minister reported an attack on a police station in the nearby city of Kramatorsk. A video from local news website Kramatorsk.info showed a group of camouflaged men armed with automatic weapons storming the building. The news website also reported that supporters of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic have occupied the administration building, built a barricade with tires around it and put a Russian flag nearby.
Regional news website OstroV said three key administrative buildings have been seized in another city in the area, Enakiyeve while in Mariupol, a city south of Slovyansk and just 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the Russian border, the city hall was seized by armed masked men. Local news website 0629.com.ua said 1,000 protesters were building a barricade around it while unknown armed men raised the Russian flag over the building.
On Saturday in Donetsk, the regional capital, witnesses said the men who entered the police building were wearing the uniforms of the Berkut, the feared riot police squad that was disbanded in February after Yanukovych’s ouster. Berkut officers’ violent dispersal of a demonstration in Kiev in November set off the mass protests that culminated in bloodshed in February when more than 100 people died in sniper fire. The acting government says the snipers were police.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the men who occupied the Donetsk police building had made any demands, but the Donetsk police chief said on national television that he was forced to offer his resignation.
The Duke Canine Cognition Center is one of the world’s most prestigious dog laboratories, but you’d never know it from the looks. Located at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, it’s just three small rooms in the subbasement of the school’s Biological Sciences Building, a faded red-brick structure that stands in a clump of similarly nondescript buildings on the west end of campus. My tour of the facility — a modest lounge, a barren rectangular room, and a narrow alcove filled with cabinets — took all of about thirty seconds. It turns out you don’t need much to probe the secrets of the dog’s mind. MoreThe Facebook Baby Invasion Is Probably Just a Figment of Your ImaginationDove’s New Ad Makes Women Look Gullible and Kind of Dumb in the Name of ‘Real Beauty’Men Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostWhy is Denis Leary Constantly Apologizing? People
‘If human beings were as smart as animals,’ the driver told me, ‘we’d be a lot better off.’I had come here to witness the final stage in the transformation of our pets from wild animals into family members. Dogs and cats may have entered our homes, but there’s still so much we don’t know about them. Are they as smart as we think? Do they love us as much as we love them? We can’t truly accept these creatures as family until we can glimpse what’s going on in their heads. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Subscribe Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants
I’d actually gotten my first peek at the canine intellect a day earlier. I had arrived in the middle of a triple-digit heat wave, and the driver of the mercifully air-conditioned shuttle that picked me up from the airport asked why I was in town. “I’m going to visit a scientist who studies dogs,” I told the man, a pale gentleman in his early seventies who spoke with a mellow southern accent. Then, guessing a bit, I added, “He’s trying to figure out if dogs are smarter than we thought.” The driver laughed. “Heck, of course they’re smart,” he said. “They’re smarter than us!”
As the van plowed along a highway that cut through a dense forest of pine trees, the driver told me about Shadow, a four-year-old Siberian husky he’d adopted from a local shelter. The dog, he said, was a regular canine Einstein. “When I go to bed, I look at him and say, ‘Shadow, seven o’clock. Shadow, seven o’clock.’ And sure enough, at seven in the morning he barks until I wake up. I don’t need an alarm clock!” Shadow, the man claimed, could also ring his doorbell and open the sliding glass doors of his boat. He understood more than 30 words and kept track of his owner’s schedule. “When I put my suitcase by the front door, he knows I’m going away for a couple of days, and he just sits at the door and sulks.” The dog even knew when he’d done something wrong; when he knocked a plant over or whizzed on the carpet, he turned his head and looked away in guilt. “If human beings were as smart as animals,” the driver told me, “we’d be a lot better off.”
After my visit to Duke, I realize he was a lot closer to the truth than he knew. Canine Einsteins
When I arrive at the Duke Canine Cognition Center, the man I’m here to see isn’t around. Brian Hare, the biological anthropologist who runs the lab, is sprinting across campus with a cooler full of what he later told me was the “world’s largest collection of bonobo pee,” scrambling to find dry ice so he could ship the samples to a colleague. Fortunately, three of his graduate students are around, and they volunteer to show me some of their work. They lead me to an empty room, a 10-by-16-foot space with a white tile floor that looks like it has been vandalized by a geometry teacher. Multicolored tape decorates the ground in a variety of shapes and patterns: green brackets float near yellow squares; long red lines balance on red triangles. The students tell me the tape designates places where researchers are supposed to sit or where equipment is supposed to stand. The markings ensure that each experiment is replicated precisely.
If you want to know how human intelligence evolved, they said, ask a chimp. Maybe a dolphin or elephant. But never a dog.As the grads begin to move some chairs into the space, something brown whizzes past my ankles. I’ve just caught a glimpse of Napoleon, a three-year-old, seven-pound Yorkshire terrier whose glossy tan head and legs flash out from a jet-black body. He’s chasing a pint-sized tennis ball, tornadoing around the room and jumping onto the legs and crotch of anyone who crosses his path. The dog belongs to one of the students, Evan MacLean, an athletic 30-year-old who informs me that the tiny dynamo will be our test subject for the day. My eyes widen. I have a hard time believing that Napoleon can sit still, much less participate in a scientific experiment. But when the tests begin, he becomes as serious as a college student during final exams.
The first experiment doesn’t seem like an experiment at all. MacLean walks to one side of the room, stands on a stripe of blue tape, and lobs the mini tennis ball toward the opposite wall. Napoleon darts after it, grabs it in his mouth, and scurries back to MacLean, who has turned his back to the dog. Napoleon walks around to MacLean’s front side and deposits the ball. “Good job, Polli!” he says. Illustratrion by Leah Goren for TIME
Napoleon has just passed a test related to having a theory of mind. That’s the ability to intuit how others see the world and even, to some extent, know what they’re thinking. Humans develop a more complex form of this ability at about four years of age. In a classic test of developmental psychology, a researcher shows a child where a toy is hidden while his mother is out of the room. When the mother returns, the scientist asks the youngster if his mom knows where the toy is. If the child says yes, he hasn’t developed a theory of mind, because he assumes his mother knows the same things he does. If he says no, he has the skill; he realizes his mother’s knowledge is different from his own.
What Napoleon did wasn’t quite that sophisticated. By dropping the ball in front of MacLean, he demonstrated that he knew where his owner’s attention was focused, which is not quite the same as knowing what MacLean was thinking. Had he released the ball behind MacLean, however, it would be a pretty safe bet that the dog had zero theory of mind. Chimpanzees pass a similar test. Place two chimps in a room with a plate of grapes, and the chimp lower on the social totem pole won’t grab one until the higher-ranking chimp looks away. The animals also clap their hands and make raspberry noises with their lips when they want to get the attention of a researcher who isn’t watching them.
In the next experiment, however, Napoleon does something chimps can’t do. MacLean stands near a wall with the dog on a slack leash, while a female graduate student sits on a chair in the center of the room. She sets two opaque red cups upside down on the floor, one on each side of her. Then, as Napoleon watches intently, a third graduate student enters the room. She places the dog’s tennis ball under one of the cups and pretends to place it under the other, obscuring her motions with a small black board so the terrier isn’t sure which cup contains the ball. If this were a shell game, the dog would have a fifty-fifty shot of picking the right cup. But the seated graduate student gives him a hand, or, more precisely, a finger. She points to the cup on her right, and when MacLean lets go of the leash, Napoleon runs over to it and retrieves his ball. Over several trials, the dog always goes for the cup that is pointed out. Even when the seated student merely gazes at the correct cup, Napoleon gets the message.
This may seem like a simple test, and, indeed, even one-year-old children pass it. But our closest relatives, chimpanzees, fail miserably. They ignore the human helper, pick cups at random, and rarely score above chance. Brian Hare’s lab has become famous for spotting this difference. Napoleon has performed more than just a neat cognitive trick. He has displayed a more complex skill related to the development of theory of mind in children. He wasn’t just clued into the pointing student’s attention; he had shown behavior consistent with understanding her intention. He showed that he realized that the student wanted to show him something, that she had a desire.
When Brian Hare finally arrives at the lab about an hour later, he’s still pumped up from his cross-campus quest to cool bonobo pee. That energy has served him well. In his late thirties, Hare rarely stays put, dividing his year between dogs and lemurs at Duke, baboons at the North Carolina Zoo, and chimpanzees on an island in Uganda. And, of course, there are the urinating bonobos, which live in a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since I visited, he’s also become the cofounder and chief science officer of Dognition, an online research project and business venture designed to help owners probe their dog’s mental abilities.
Hare tells me he got into studying dogs by accident. He was an undergraduate at Emory University in Atlanta in the late 1990s, exploring the cognitive differences between chimps and toddlers. When he conducted a few pointing tests, he and his advisor, Michael Tomasello, were shocked to learn that toddlers had no trouble understanding what a researcher meant when he pointed to a cup, but chimps were totally perplexed. Tomasello concluded that the ability to follow pointing cues was so advanced it must have only evolved in humans.
“But I told Mike, ‘Um, I think my dog can do that,’” Hare says. “And that’s how it all started.” Back then, almost no one was studying dogs. All those thousands of years of domestication, the thinking went, had corrupted them, at least from a scientific standpoint. Because they were no longer wild animals, researchers considered them artificial and of limited value. If you want to know how human intelligence evolved, they said, ask a chimp. Maybe a dolphin or elephant. But never a dog.
Ironically, however, the history of animal cognition research begins with dogs. And perhaps not surprisingly, it also begins with Charles Darwin. Darwin’s Dogs
Darwin came along during a time when animals, thanks largely to the writings of French philosopher René Descartes, were viewed as reflex-driven machines with nary a mind in their heads. Everything an animal did, every decision it made, was chalked up to instinct. Only humans possessed true intelligence. Illustratrion by Leah Goren for TIME
Darwin didn’t buy it. Perhaps it was because he had spent so much of his life with canines. In her revealing book Darwin’s Dogs, British journalist Emma Townshend writes that the famed naturalist came from a family of dog lovers, and Darwin himself was no exception. He owned at least 13 throughout his life, including a black-and-white mutt named Spark — a childhood companion he fondly referred to as “little black nose” — and a white terrier, Polly, who slept in a pillowed basket near the fireplace as Darwin inked one of his final books, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, in which Polly appears frequently. (Darwin, incidentally, was not a cat person, though as his daughter Henrietta wrote, “He knew and remembered the individualities of my many cats, and would talk about the habits and characters of the more remarkable ones years after they had died.”)
Darwin appears to have first begun thinking about the mental capabilities of dogs when he should have had something far more important on his mind. It was early October 1836, and he had just returned from his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle, a ship that had ferried him to the Galápagos Islands. The variety of finches and tortoises there would eventually help inspire his theory of evolution, but upon arriving home to Shrewsbury in western England, Darwin’s first scientific thought turned to dogs. He wondered whether one of his canines, vicious to everyone else, would remember him. “I went near the stable where he lived, and shouted to him in my old manner,” Darwin wrote. “[He] instantly followed me out walking, and obeyed me, exactly as if I had parted with him only an hour before.” The experience was clear evidence to Darwin that dogs had long memories — and serious intellects.
In later years, Darwin would postulate that dogs were capable of abstract thought, morality, and even language. Dogs, he wrote, understood human words and sentences, and they responded with barks of eagerness, joy, and despair. If this wasn’t communication between the species, what was? The observations affirmed his notions that humans were not unique in having complex minds. “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties,” he wrote.
‘The dog would accept any small biscuit for a halfpenny, but nothing less than a bun would satisfy him for a penny.’Darwin’s close friend and research associate, George Romanes, took that idea and ran with it — some say a bit too far. A Canadian-born biologist 40 years Darwin’s junior, Romanes also glorified the minds of dogs. He related stories of how they could sniff out someone’s social status, play tricks on people, and even understand the value of money. “My friend was acquainted with a small mongrel dog,” Romanes wrote, “who on being presented with a penny or a halfpenny would run with it in his mouth to a baker’s…. The dog would accept any small biscuit for a halfpenny, but nothing less than a bun would satisfy him for a penny.” The wealth of anecdotes convinced Romanes there was practically no difference between the animal brain and the human one.
Stories were one thing. But the first real research into the minds of dogs didn’t begin until 1884, when an English banker named John Lubbock, who dabbled in the sciences, published the earliest study on language ability in a nonhuman. That nonhuman was a poodle named Van. Lubbock taught the dog to distinguish between blank pieces of cardboard and those with the words “Food,” “Tea,” “Water,” “Bone,” and “Out” written on them. Left to his own devices, Van fetched the “Food” and “Tea” cards far more frequently than the other cards, and since tea was one of the canine’s favorite treats, the banker concluded that the dog had learned to communicate with him. Van, “the Talking Dog,” became an international celebrity, and in a clear rejection of Descartes, Lubbock wrote, “No one, indeed, I think, who has kept and studied pets… can bring himself to regard them as mere machines.”
The views of Lubbock and Romanes, however, fell out of favor for many years, replaced by behaviorism — a school of thought that would rule the field of psychology for much of the 20th century. Behaviorists essentially said that scientists should focus only on what they could observe, not on the intangibles inside a creature’s head.
Not until the 1970s did an American zoologist named Donald Griffin challenge the behaviorist dogma. Griffin had made his name discovering that bats could navigate by bouncing ultrasonic signals off objects, a sonar-like ability he termed “echolocation.” But late in his career, he turned his attention to what he felt was a far more extraordinary ability: animals’ capacity to think and reason. Lubbock and Romanes were back, but this time they had hard science on their side. In a series of articles and books, Griffin highlighted new techniques and cutting-edge fieldwork that were showing, for example, that monkeys used deception in their alarm calls and that crows could fashion tools out of twigs. His ideas sparked a scientific revolution and a new approach to studying animal minds, which he dubbed “cognitive ethology.” Chimps Get Outfoxed
But what about dogs? The old biases — that they were artificial, that they had been corrupted by domestication — still held. Then, two things happened at around the same time. Brian Hare told his advisor that he thought dogs could best chimps at the pointing test, and a Budapest researcher named Ádám Miklósi was told by his advisor to stop studying fish and start studying dogs. Inspired by the antics of his mutt, Flip, the advisor wanted Miklósi to figure out why canines were so smart. Unaware of each other’s research, Miklósi and Hare both published work showing that dogs could understand human pointing in 1998. Over the next decade, nearly a dozen labs, from Berkeley to Yale, Kentucky to Austria, began studying the canine mind. The canine revolution had begun.
It’s as if domestication tunes an animal into the human radio frequency.When Brian Hare opened the Duke Canine Cognition Center in 2009, he worried about getting enough dogs for his studies. Instead, he had the opposite problem. “When we run experiments with kids, sometimes the parents come late, or they don’t show up at all,” he tells me. “Dog owners come thirty minutes early, and there’s a line outside the door.” They bring their entire families. They volunteer their friends’ dogs. Some owners have driven three hours to be at the lab at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. One woman from Brazil wanted to fly her dog over. By the time I visit, more than 1,000 canines have passed through the lab. “The families are just so excited,” he says. “We don’t have enough parking spaces for all of them.”
After all of those experiments, I expect Hare to tell me how smart dogs are; how, more than any other animal, they hold the key to unlocking the secrets of the human mind. But he tells me something far more surprising. “If you want a smart animal,” he says, “select for niceness.” Intelligence, it turns out, may be nothing more than a good attitude.
Hare had his epiphany while studying silver foxes in Siberia — animals researchers have bred for decades, selecting for tamer and tamer animals every generation until today they are docile as golden retrievers. When Hare first noticed that dogs could follow human pointing and chimps couldn’t, he initially thought that they must have simply picked the ability up from hanging around people. The idea made sense. Wolves don’t pass the pointing test, and because they’re nearly identical to dogs, the difference must lie in cohabitation. But when Hare visited the Russian fox farm in 2002, he found that the domesticated foxes were just as good as dogs at understanding human pointing, even though they’d spent almost no time with people.
“The control foxes,” says Hare — the ones not bred to be docile — “were too freaked out to participate in the study. When you’d walk by a row of cages, they’d all run to the back. Illustratrion by Leah Goren for TIME
It was like parting the sea. And when they did calm down, they weren’t interested in interacting with you.” The domesticated foxes were a different story. “Their stress response to people was completely gone. And because of that, they could solve all sorts of problems the other foxes couldn’t.” As Evan MacLean, Hare’s graduate student, explained to me, it’s as if domestication tunes an animal into the human radio frequency. Chimpanzees and wolves don’t understand pointing because they don’t get our station. Dogs, on the other hand, are completely tuned in to us. Indeed, we’re the only station they listen to. What’s a Cat’s Favorite Radio Station?
Now about this time you may be asking yourself what radio station cats listen to. At least I was. My cats Jasper and Jezebel may not like all of my music, but I don’t think they’ve completely tuned me out. Remarkably, one brave scientist tried to find out: Ádám Miklósi. Though the Budapest researcher has been studying dogs for nearly two decades, he’s actually a cat person. Don’t expect him to solve the secrets of the feline mind anytime soon, however. “We did one study on cats,” he laughed over the phone, “and that was enough.”
‘We did one study on cats… and that was enough.’What Miklósi did was essentially repeat the pointing test I saw with Napoleon — with a few small modifications. His team conducted the experiments in the cats’ homes, for example, because he thought a laboratory would freak them out. And he used food instead of toys as bait, because he assumed it would be a better motivator. (Even then, not all of the cats were interested in advancing science. According to Miklósi’s research paper, seven of the initial 26 “dropped out.”) Once a cat was comfortable, a researcher picked up two bowls and showed them to the animal. Then she turned her back, placed food in one of the bowls, and set them down on either side of her legs. Finally, she pointed at one of the bowls, and the owner, who had been holding the cat, released it. Over multiple trials, cats followed the gesture, not the smell; they meandered to the bowl that had been pointed at, performing nearly as well as dogs on the same test.
But in another experiment, Miklósi’s team spotted an intriguing difference between cats and dogs. This time the researchers created two puzzles: one solvable, the other impossible. In the solvable puzzle, they placed food in a bowl and stuck it under a stool. Dogs and cats had to find the bowl and pull it out to eat. Both aced the test. Then the scientists rigged the exam. They again placed the food bowl under a stool, but this time they tied the bowl to the stool legs so that it could not be pulled out. The dogs pawed at the bowl for a few seconds and then gave up, gazing up at their owners as if asking for help. The cats, on the other hand, rarely looked at their owners; they just kept trying to get the food.
Are cats not smart enough to realize when a task is impossible? Are they just more persistent than dogs? Perhaps they’re simply not fully tuned in to our radio frequency. Unlike chimps and wolves, cats can use the information we give them (that is, they understand what we mean when we point), but unlike dogs they don’t actively solicit that information. They’re surfing other channels on the dial. And that, ultimately, is what makes them so hard to train. ‘You’d Be a Horrible Goat’
We’ve become the Internet for dogs.But back to the Russian foxes. Hare’s experiments had shown that the ability to understand a human gesture like pointing — something scientists had regarded as an advanced cognitive skill — required nothing more than a friendly disposition. Dogs and domesticated foxes seem sharp because they’re calm enough to pay attention to us. Does that mean that doggy smarts are just an illusion? And if so, what does that say about human intelligence? Quite a bit, it turns out. Humans, you see, may also be a domesticated species.
That’s a controversial statement in the field of anthropology, but when you look at the facts, it’s not so far-fetched. Almost all domesticated animals, from cows to pigs to cats, have a few things in common that wild animals don’t share: males and females are about the same size, they store more fat than their wild counterparts, they breed multiple times during the year, and they tend to be pretty laid back. Sound familiar?
Most anthropologists don’t use the term “domesticated” to describe people because domestication implies a human hand in the process. But the definition still holds if you consider that people, like cats and dogs, may have domesticated themselves. The idea is that, as we began to settle down in large numbers, we ostracized the most aggressive and antisocial members of our groups. Over many generations, the only people left, for the most part, were those who had traits and behaviors that allowed them to get along with the group. Eventually, we began to understand each other’s gestures, we developed a complex theory of mind, and we all became fully tuned in to the human radio station.
If you’re still not sold, consider the differences between bonobos and chimpanzees. Though the two species are nearly identical in DNA and appearance, they’re miles apart in disposition. Chimps are competitive and can be nasty. They rarely work together, even when it’s to their benefit. And they often settle their disputes by killing each other. Bonobos, meanwhile, are the hippies of the primate world. They’re passive. They’re cooperative. And they’ve found a better way to settle their disputes: they have sex. Bonobos are, in many ways, a self-domesticated species. And not surprisingly, they score much better on theory-of-mind tests than chimps do. “The differences between chimps and bonobos are completely analogous to the differences between wolves and dogs,” Hare tells me. And that’s one of the main reasons he studies dogs. If we can learn how their intelligence evolved, we can understand how ours evolved too.
Even scientists like Hare would have stopped studying dogs long ago if all they could do was follow a pointed finger, however. Recent studies have shown they are capable of so much more. They can recognize objects in photos better than any other animal, evidence of Darwin’s claims of abstract thought. Chaser, a South Carolina border collie, knows more than 1,000 words, the largest vocabulary of a nonhuman, and she learns them using one of the same techniques children use to learn words. And dogs can imitate our actions — walking around a traffic cone, for example, or sticking their heads in a bucket — up to 10 minutes after we’ve done them, demonstrating a demanding type of memory called “declarative memory” that’s only be seen in people.
Canines, in some ways, are even smarter than we are. We used them as tools for thousands of years — as hunters, guardians, and herders — but now they use us. When they’re bored, we provide toys. When they poop, we clean it up. And when they can’t figure out a problem, they look to us for information. We’ve become the Internet for dogs.
Are our pooches really smarter than other animals because they can do all of these things? Of course not, says Hare. Every species has evolved the skills it needs to survive. “You’d be a horrible goat,” he says, “and I’d be a horrible banana slug.” The reason dogs seem so smart is because they’ve evolved to live in our world, to tackle the same social and cognitive problems we have. So, in many ways, when we peer into the mind of a dog, we’re really peering into our own.
David Grimm is a deputy news editor at Science and the author of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs (PublicAffairs, 2014), from which this piece is adapted.
Research has found about 9 zillion things you can do to increase happiness. MoreHow Smart Is That Doggy in the Window?8 Things the Most Successful People Do That Make Them GreatMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostWhy is Denis Leary Constantly Apologizing? People
Of course, you’re probably not doing any of them. To be fair, most people don’t really do much to deliberately make their lives happier. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Subscribe Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants
Researchers found that the majority of the subjects they studied were not able to identify anything they had done recently to try to increase their happiness or life satisfaction.
So you want to start? You want something insanely easy to do that research has demonstrated over and over again works?
Something that the happiest people in the world all do?
Here you go:
Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second and appreciate that moment.
Old cliches like “stopping to smell the roses” and “it’s the little things in life”? They’re true.
The happiness researchers call it “Savoring.” Here’s how it works. What Is Savoring?
We’re busy. We’re multitasking. And we think this makes things better because we get more done.
But the problem is that means you’re paying less attention to any one thing — and therefore you enjoy all of those things less.
Do you watch TV while you eat? That means you’ll enjoy your food less.
Savoring is all about attention. Focus on the bad, you’ll feel bad. Focus on the good and… guess what happens?
The key component to effective savoring is focused attention. By taking the time and spending the effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being.
“Stopping to smell the roses”? It’s true. People who take time to appreciate beauty around them really are happier.
Those who said they regularly took notice of something beautiful were 12 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives.
Research shows that the happiest people take the time to appreciate the little things in life.
I know what you’re thinking: correlation isn’t causation. Maybe they’re just wired that way.
Nope. Wrong answer. Research shows it can work for anybody.
Focusing on the positive and appreciating those things more leads to happiness increases in less than a week.
One group was told to focus on all the upbeat things they could find— sunshine, flowers, smiling pedestrians. Another was to look for negative stuff— graffiti, litter, frowning faces. The third group was instructed to walk just for the exercise. At the end of the week, when the walkers’ well-being was tested again, those who had deliberately targeted positive cues were happier than before the experiment. The negatively focused subjects were less happy, and the just plain exercisers scored in between. The point, says Bryant, is that “you see what you look for. And you can train yourself to attend to the joy out there waiting to be had, instead of passively waiting for it to come to you.”
Okay, so what’s the best way to start savoring? Savoring 101
Just for a second.
Stop checking texts when your friends are right in front of you. Stop watching TV while you eat. Don’t surf the web while you’re on the phone.
Just do one thing at a time that you like, and don’t hurry through it. Slow down and appreciate it.
Just doing that — that alone — caused significant decreases in depression and increases in happiness.
In one set of studies, depressed participants were invited to take a few minutes once a day to relish something that they usually hurry through (e.g., eating a meal, taking a shower, finishing the workday, or walking to the subway). When it was over, they were instructed to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently as well as how that felt compared with the times when they rushed through it. In another study, healthy students and community members were instructed to savor two pleasurable experiences per day, by reflecting on each for two or three minutes and trying to make the pleasure last as long and as intensely as possible. In all these studies those participants prompted to practice savoring regularly showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.
In many ways time is key when it comes to savoring. Knowing something has limited days or hours helps you savor.
When things will soon come to an end we don’t take them for granted. We’re grateful, we savor them and we’re happier.
Seek out those bittersweet moments because research shows they will help you appreciate things more.
When we are fully mindful of the transience of things—an impending return home from an overseas adventure, a graduation, our child boarding the school bus for the first day of kindergarten, a close colleague changing jobs, a move to a new city—we are more likely to appreciate and savor the remaining time that we do have. Although bittersweet experiences also make us sad, it is this sadness that prompts us, instead of taking it for granted, to come to appreciate the positive aspects of our vacation, colleague, or hometown; it’s “now or never.”
This can really help you get more out of life.
And here’s the best part: you don’t have to do it alone. How Savoring Can Improve Your Relationships
Sharing good news with your partner is a happiness double whammy.
It helps you savor and improves your relationship.
Sharing successes and accomplishments with others has been shown to be associated with elevated pleasant emotions and well-being. So, when you or your spouse or cousin or best friend wins an honor, congratulate him or her (and yourself ), and celebrate. Try to enjoy the occasion to the fullest. Passing on and rejoicing in good news leads you to relish and soak up the present moment, as well as to foster connections with others.
But good news doesn’t come along every day. Is there something you can do more regularly as a couple to savor?
Create rituals the two of you can engage in.
Do a toast before drinking and look into each other’s eyes. Or any little thing that slows the moment down for appreciation.
You can think about rituals that you yourself might engage in prior to consumption experiences. What they do, they make us a little bit more mindful about the consumption experience that we are about to have. Because of that, we end up savoring the food or whatever we are drinking more…
But what about when things aren’t so great? Can we boost our happiness when there are no good things to savor right now?
Yes, you can. Savoring Is Also a Time Machine
Savoring doesn’t just need to happen in the moment.
Reminiscing about the past and anticipating the future are also powerful, proven ways to savor — and boost your mood.
People prone to joyful anticipation, skilled at obtaining pleasure from looking forward and imagining future happy events, are especially likely to be optimistic and to experience intense emotions. In contrast, those proficient at reminiscing about the past—looking back on happy times, rekindling joy from happy memories—are best able to buffer stress.
Reminiscing about past good times with others is like sharing good news. It improves your relationship and makes both of you happier.
Researchers have found that mutual reminiscence—sharing memories with other people—is accompanied by abundant positive emotions, such as joy, accomplishment, amusement, contentment, and pride.
- Anticipate with pleasure,
- Savor the moment as I experience it,
- Express my happiness to myself or others, and
- Reflect on a happy memory.
How much simpler can being happier get? Sum Up
The cliches tell us to stop and smell the roses. The science agrees.
And when you survey 1200 people over 70 years old, who have had full lives, what advice do they offer?
I asked Karl Pillemer, author of 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. Here’s what they said:
…you should savor small, daily experiences and make the most of every day.
We all want to be happy and sometimes it seems so hard to get there. But the answer is simpler than we think and right in front of us.
(Hey, stop skimming. Slow down. Appreciate the words.)
Seriously: stop and smell the roses today. Enjoy the little things in life.
Science shows us it really does make a difference.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.