(ALGIERS, Algeria) — Algerian officials say President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has won a fourth term in office with a landslide 81 percent of the vote.
His chief opponent, Ali Benflis, already criticized the election as marked by “fraud on a massive scale” after polls closed Thursday.
The results announced Friday by Interior Minister Taieb Belaiz comes after a three-week election campaign that saw a spirited effort by Benflis and his supporters. He has vowed to contest the results.
Official figures for turnout were 51.7 percent, down from the 75 percent turnout for Bouteflika’s last win in 2009. The figures have been described by activists and opposition politicians as inflated.
Since suffering from a stroke last year, there have been concerns about the president’s ability to run this key energy supplier for Europe.
The crowd cheered wildly as Ellie Goulding walked on to the Main Stage at the Coachella Valley Music Festival last weekend to deliver a highly anticipated performance under the hot sun of the California desert. Dressed in a risqué bondage-inspired outfit and flanked by three back-up singers, a full band and (fittingly) flashing lights, Goulding belted out her signature electropop hits: “Burn,” “Anything Could Happen” and “I Need Your Love,” among others.MoreREVIEW: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Harmonize Well as The BothCyndi Lauper Looks Back at the Unusual Record That Made Her a StarMen 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 Post5 Things to Know About the Magic Mike Sequel People
The 27-year-old British musician has developed a colossal following over the past four years, thanks to her ability to pair vulnerable lyrics about love and heartbreak with infectious electropop beats. Since the release of her debut album “Lights” in 2010, she’s become a muse for electronic music producers like Calvin Harris, Zedd and Skrillex (who she dated).
Her Coachella performance – which had a distinctly different vibe from her lower-key set at the festival in 2011 – showcased Goulding’s transformation from alternative-leaning folktronica singer to bona fide pop star; as Goulding has evolved sonically, so have her performance style and fashion sense. Now, the “Burn” singer says she’s ready for more experimentation when it comes to the kinds of songs she writes — and that means fewer songs about romance.
“I think for my next album, I will be writing about different things. I’m kind of over writing about relationships,” she told TIME before taking the stage at Coachella. “That kind of narrows it down a lot, because most people do write about those.”
Goulding says her lyrics come from a deeply personal place; all the songs she wrote for her last LP, Halcyon, felt tied together emotionally. “People always ask me why I didn’t just make a new album with the songs I put on the extended version of Halcyon,” she explained. “But I’m always very keen to start an album when it feels right, in a certain time of my life, so that the album is reflective of that, rather than just being a bunch of random songs.”
Many of the songs on Halcyon, Goulding’s second album, were inspired by a break up she was going through at the time. The title track “was about convincing myself that everything was going to be alright,” she said. Goulding cited “My Blood” as another favorite on the album, explaining that it was “an accompaniment to me because that song was about someone taking so much from me emotionally that I had nothing left.”
Goulding hasn’t begun working on her next album yet, but she said that she expects she’ll start picking up inspiration for the project when she takes a break after her tour ends in September.
Will fans take to her non-romantic material as well as they have to her love songs? To borrow from the singer’s own work, anything could happen. But if Goulding’s past success is any indication, it seems likely they will.
“It just made so much sense to me,” says author Eve O. Schaub after watching a YouTube video called “Sugar: A Bitter Truth,” a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). It prompted her to embark on a yearlong quest to put her family on a sugar diet, cutting out everything from table sugar to any food product with added sugar. It was no easy task; they discovered that meant eliminating anything from brownies to cold cuts. In her new book, Year of No Sugar, Schuab documents how they managed their not-so-sweet year. TIME asked the author about her journey, and tips for how to curb one’s sugar consumption.MoreThis Is What Happens When You Give Up Sugar for One YearThis App Could Let You Count Calories by Taking a Picture of Your FoodMen 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 PostDebbie Gibson Is Battling Lyme Disease People
This interview has been edited and condensed.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
What inspired you to take this on?
I’ve always been interested in food from a very young age, and I like to cook and bake. I’ve also been interested in how food correlates with how we feel, and our health. I was a vegetarian for two decades, so I have been on some other food-related paths. I was really ready to hear the message when I watched the YouTube video. Something about it really clicked. Everywhere I went after that, I felt like I suddenly had sugar vision and I saw what everyone didn’t see. I thought, ah hah, what if we stopped eating sugar entirely, and what if we tried to do it for a year?
How long did it take you to go grocery shopping?
It used to take me about 45 minutes to do a normal shopping trip, and this one took me an hour and a half. I should have brought my magnifying glass and my dictionary. I was reading and reading and astounded by how much I didn’t know. It made me mad, because food shouldn’t be this hard. I was stubborn about reading every last ingredient because I wanted to make sure we were following our own parameters. But once I did that recon, it was done. I knew what we could buy and what was off-limits.
Any tips for navigating the grocery store. Any surprising items to avoid?
Going straight to produce is great. Not everyone wants to make their own crackers, for example. There are some things that are really hard–I wouldn’t say you can never find a no sugar version—but it can be very hard. And they are things that are not sweet, so they’re unexpected. For example, bread is a big one, especially the sandwich breads. My family went to the bread aisle and came up with 250 some different varieties of bread, and we could only find a variety from one manufacturer that did not contain added sugar. But there are plenty of other unusual food products with sugar. I found sugar in sausages, tortellini, tortillas, mayonnaise, ketchup, cold cuts. I ultimately came to the conclusion that there is almost nothing they will not try to put sugar in.
Is it possible to dine out on this diet?
It is—we did. First, we found out which places were making their own food. We were astonished to find that some restaurants did not necessarily know what was in their own food. We learned how to ask questions. Once we got to the point that we knew what restaurants made their own sauces and dressings and knew what was in it, we would go back again and again. They got to know us and would ask how it was going.
Was it hard to travel?
You have to plan snacks ahead. At every convenience store, you’re lucky if you can find a banana. They will try to have healthy snacks. They will have things like yogurt, granola bars, and power bars. But sadly they often as much sugar as a candy bar, up to 25 grams of sugar.
Was dessert ever a possibility?
Just because we weren’t having sugar didn’t mean we weren’t having dessert. I did a lot of experimenting with old favorite recipes of mine. I would alter things I always made, like cookies and bars, with things like bananas and dates. We made banana ice cream, which we loved.
Your family ended up using dextrose often. Can you explain what that is?
It’s not fructose. I found the question of dextrose confusing. I asked Dr. Robert Lustig, and he was very kind in replying and letting me know that dextrose was glucose, so for our fructose-free purposes, it was perfectly fine. It’s about one-third the sweetness of table sugar, and it’s made of corn. Right now, as far as I know, you can only get it by mail order.
How did you survive the holidays?
The holidays can be especially challenging and there is this sense that we need sugar to celebrate. We need to mark the occasion with something even more crazy special and sweet than we are already having in our every day lives. It can be very difficult to navigate that delicately because you don’t want that person to come away feeling rejected because you didn’t eat their meal. We would let it be known that this is something that we would be doing, and ask if there was anything we could bring. That way we have at least one thing we can eat. Once you do the research, you know where it is. You know it’s going to be in the ham because if the glaze, it’s going to be any potato salad and coleslaw. We knew that when we went to aunt Carol’s house, the safe thing for us would be the mac and cheese.
How do you get kids on board?
My kids were the most excited when they were actively participating. They would love making banana ice cream themselves. Kids get so excited about food and where it comes from and watching food cook, and I think that’s the key to getting kids to care about food and love the taste of fresh, healthy, and homemade food.
What can people expect from cutting their sugar consumption?
Not eating sugar affects everyone in different ways. None of us really lost weight, but we were not looking to. The kids didn’t seem to be noticeably calmer, but hyperactivity wasn’t something we were trying to address either. I, in particular, had more energy, and that is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. On a regular basis I would crash and feel like I had a total lack of energy. When I do not eat sugar, I have plenty of energy. We felt healthier and it seemed to me that we did not get sick as much or for as long. My daughters missed 10 to 15 days of school the year before, and in the year of no sugar they missed two to three. That seems like better health.
Is this easier for someone who likes to cook?
I think it helps a lot if you like to cook. If I had trouble buying bread, I knew I would enjoy making it at home, if I could find the time. But you don’t have to love to cook to take in less sugar. There are lots of ways we can cut of sugar consumption and feel better. For instance, cut out drinking sugar. Have a sparkling water instead of a soda. For people who say they don’t have time, I wish we could place more emphasis on food as being important and worthy of our time. Perhaps we don’t have a lot of time, but making your own tomato sauce takes about 20 minutes.
Do you still avoid sugar?
After we finished our year, everyone expected us to go on a sugar binge to make up for lost time. We found that we had really lost a lot of our craving for super sweet foods. It was a little rocky at first because we had no rules. It had been hard on no sugar, but it had been clear. Over time we came to a middle ground, which I call “high level sugar avoiders.” I refuse to buy things that have sugar in them as an added ingredient, especially if it’s something that’s not sweet, doesn’t need it, and no one knows it’s there. We will have a sugary sweet once in a great while. I’d say 99 times out of 100 we are not having sugar, but for a special occasion we will have something. It will be small, and it will be special.
Do you recommend other people try this?
They don’t have to because I did it for them! The best advice I can give is to be aware and be judicious. Being aware means reading ingredients and asking questions. Being judicious means making sure you don’t get on that sugar escalator so you don’t have a little today, then more tomorrow, then more after that.
A group of friends in Philadelphia unintentionally became the creators of Instagram’s latest, bizarre hashtag meme: the #catband. And they all think it’s really, really weird that now hundreds of strangers have started playing their cats as if they were air guitars, air bongos, and even air bagpipes.
Julie Malone’s cat, Lilly, has become a staple in her friendship circle “because she’s fat and really nice and you can just do anything to her and she thinks it’s great,” the 25-year-old Anthropologie jewelry buyer told TIME. And so, when Malone’s boyfriend started playing music during dinner, she thought it would be a funny idea to play her cat like a ukelele — er… “Uke-Lilly”—and tag the obese feline’s adoring fans in an Instagram video.
Lilly’s unperturbed thumb licking made the video really shine.
Jack Hartman soon responded with a video of himself playing his screaming cat Dusty —”He’s so mean!” Malone said—like a bongo drum. “Let’s start a band,” he posted.
Then Kenny Kim started blowing his 20 lb cat Sketchie like a bagpipe, threw on the hashtag #catband so he and his friends could keep track of what was going on, and pretty soon a meme was born.
Dan Toffey, who manages Instagram’s #weeklyfluff feature and keeps up with emerging animal trends in the community told TIME he noticed the hashtag gaining traction over the past couple of weeks—with as many as a hundred in the last week, gaining in volume every day.
There are cat flutes:
And even rabbit rebuttals:
Kim finds this all surreal. “All the original catbanders are definitely sitting back shaking their heads at what has become of it for sure,” he said. “The fact that there is a post on Knowyourmeme.com really legitimized it for us.”
Malone agrees. “I did it just for our dorky friends who like the cat,” she said. “If I knew that people from France and Russia were going to see it, I would have shot a more flattering video.”
Kim and his fiancée Hilary set up a #catband Tumblr, but he says maintaining the new entries has become a sort of part time job. “Cats, man.”
We have to clear our minds of a fallacy about poverty alleviation: Helping the poor does not mean welfare. This isn’t to say that we don’t need welfare. Ignoring the unfortunate who can’t put enough food on the table or afford proper education or healthcare is not just cruel, it’s bad economics. The impoverished make either good consumers or productive workers.MoreMen 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 PostDebbie Gibson Is Battling Lyme Disease PeopleLIVE: Watch today's episode of SI Now Sports Illustrated'Transcendence': EW movie review Entertainment Weekly
But government aid can only reduce the suffering of the poor; it usually can’t make them escape poverty permanently. We know that from watching what has happened in the developing world over the past half century. Those countries that have tried to use wide-scale state programs to alleviate poverty—such as India—have not achieved results as quickly as nations that did not, such as Singapore and South Korea. (See my recent piece on this subject.) Generally, the high-performance economies of East Asia didn’t fight poverty by playing Robin Hood—soaking the rich and handing out cash to the poor. There is no reason why we’d have to do that today.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
Instead we have to give the downtrodden better jobs, more opportunities, more tools to improve their incomes and fairer treatment in economic policy.
That means we must improve the climate for investment. I’m pretty sure you didn’t expect me to write that when you started reading. There is a widespread assumption that what’s good for companies is bad for the little guy. But if Asia’s example teaches us anything, it’s that there are two ways to end poverty: (1) create jobs and (2) create more jobs. The only way to do that is to convince businessmen to invest more.
That’s why it is imperative to make investing easier. We should press ahead with free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership to bring down barriers between countries and encourage exports and cross-border investment. Though CEOs complain far too much about regulation—the sub-prime mortgage disaster, the recent General Motors recall, or Beijing’s putrid air all show that we need to keep a close eye on business—we should also streamline regulatory procedures, standardize it across countries and thus make it less onerous to follow.
We also need to improve infrastructure like transportation systems to bring down the costs of doing business. I think it is a national embarrassment for the U.S. to allow the Highway Trust Fund to run out of money at a time when the country needs both jobs and better roads. The environment for investment shouldn’t just improve for Walmart and Apple, but also entrepreneurs and small companies. In many parts of the world—in certain European countries, for example, and China—there’s too much red tape involved in starting a company, and not enough finance available.
We also need to invest in the workforce. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, in an attack on a proposed minimum-wage hike, said that “I want people to make a lot more than $9—$9 is not enough.” He’s right, but that just won’t magically happen on its own. To get people’s paychecks up, workers have to possess better skills. We are simply not doing enough to improve schools, teachers and job training programs. We should also be doing more to make higher education more affordable.
While overall U.S. spending on education is among the highest in the world, it still lags in important ways. Take a look at this data comparing education spending across countries. U.S. public expenditure on education has remained more or less stable, at 5.1% of GDP in 2010, but that’s lower than a lot of other developed countries, from Sweden to New Zealand. What is also interesting is how the cost of education is pushed onto the private sector in the U.S. much more than in most other countries.
Spending is also heading in the wrong direction. The U.S. Census Bureau calculated that in fiscal 2011, expenditure per student dropped for the first time since statistics have been kept.
Clearly, the U.S. spends so much money on education already that we should be getting more bang for our buck. Reform is crucial to put all those billions to better use. But slicing spending isn’t the answer, either. The latest budget from U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan streamlines some U.S. education programs he considers wasteful and recommends measures that would add to the financial burden of going to college for some families. Meanwhile, he’s leaving the military budget generally unscathed. Do Ryan and his colleagues believe the Pentagon isn’t wasteful? Apparently not enough to put the military on a diet.
The fact is we have the money to do more for education. U.S. federal spending is about $3.5 trillion—roughly the size of the entire economy of Germany. The problem is how we choose to spend it.
We also must restore performance-based pay. The idea that people should benefit from their hard work is a cardinal belief of capitalism, but there is ample evidence that it hasn’t held true for quite a while. Productivity growth has far outpaced wage increases in the U.S. going back to the 1970s.
This appears to be a global phenomenon. The International Labor Organization (ILO) looked at 36 countries and figured that average labor productivity has increased more than twice as much as average wages since 1999. Some have disputed this argument, but we can’t deny that wages are going nowhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real weekly earnings in the U.S. in March were a mere $1.82 higher than a year earlier. Generally, workers are losing ground to capital globally. The ILO has shown that wages’ share in GDP has decreased in recent decades, meaning that the regular worker isn’t benefiting as he should from economic growth.
There are many factors behind this trend, including the formation of an international labor market. But globalization itself isn’t the problem—it’s how the benefits are being allocated. Corporate management doesn’t seem to care so much about shareholder value when paying themselves. Professor Steven Kaplan noted that in 2010 the average CEO of a major U.S. company earned more than $10 million, or about 200 times more than the typical household.
Companies also have the money to raise wages: They just choose not to give it to their employees. Rating agency Moody’s recently reported that U.S. non-financial companies are sitting on $1.64 trillion in cash. Companies also spent $476 billion buying back their stock in 2013, 19% more than the year before.
The question is: How get management and shareholders to disgorge more corporate profits to their employees? There isn’t an easy answer. William Galston, former advisor to President Bill Clinton, once suggested tax rates should be linked to a company’s worker compensation strategy (though that strikes me as a bit too intrusive). The ILO recommends we support stronger collective bargaining to allow workers to fight for their fair share of corporate profits.
But the crux of the problem is the idea of shareholder value. How do we convince shareholders and management that higher wages are positive for the long-term prospects of their corporations? Maybe we should consider altering the way we tax capital gains. Rather than breaking them down into two main categories—short and long term—it might help to decrease the rate the longer the asset is held. That would encourage longer-term shareholding, and perhaps make owners more interested in the long-term outlook for the companies in which they hold shares. I also think we should rebalance tax rates between capital and labor. I understand the principle that low capital-gains taxes reward people for wise investments. But what about rewarding people who work hard at their jobs every day? The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development noted in a report this month that the tax burden on wage earners has increased in most of its member states in recent years.
These are just suggestions, and I’m interested in hearing more of them. The basic point is that we have to take steps to improve both the outlook for corporations and the many ordinary employees who work for them. The game should be win-win, not zero-sum.
When the musical Jersey Boys opened on Broadway nearly a decade ago, it turned the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons into Tony-winning musical-theater gold — which isn’t all that surprising, considering the show drew from the Four Seasons’ already proven catalog of music. For the play’s movie adaptation, Clint Eastwood directs a cast of stage vets — relative Hollywood newcomers — led by John Lloyd Young, with the exception of Christopher Walken as mobster Angelo ‘Gyp’ DeCarlo. The movie will be in theaters on June 20. The songs will be stuck in your head…now.
A little-known group devoted to drafting a retired doctor into the 2016 presidential race is raking in millions.MoreHillary Clinton’s New Book Is Called Hard ChoicesBeau Biden, VP’s Son, Says He’ll Run for Delaware GovernorMen 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 PostSurprise! Debbie Matenopoulos Is Married and Pregnant People
The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee raised $2.4 million over the past three months, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, outpacing far more prominent rivals. Carson, a 62-year-old retired neurosurgeon and political commentator, has never run for elected office. And there are few signs the fundraising boomlet has changed his mind. Running for office “has never been something that I have a desire to do,” Carson told TIME last month. The draft committee has no affiliation with the prospective candidate himself.
So how is a political neophyte with little campaign infrastructure, scant interest in the presidency and no real chance of winning helping raise all that cash?
As Michael Scherer and I explained in a feature story last month, Carson’s acolytes have tapped into the lucrative world of conservative direct marketing. His money-making machine has followed a well-honed formula: renting and expanding email lists, beseeching supporters for cash through email and the postal service, and then reinvesting big chunks of the proceeds in ever more appeals to activists. Once it cranks into gear, the machine is tough to stop. And its methods can be successful whether or not the cause is viable.
The hub of Carson’s fundraising drive is in an office park in northern Virginia, where the direct-mail wizard Bruce Eberle oversees a constellation of companies that raise money for clients. Eberle, an old lion of the conservative marketing world, has had decades of success connecting GOP activists and causes. It has sent more than two million pieces of mail on behalf of Carson, Tammy Cali, the president of Eberle Associates, told TIME last month. The response has exceeded anybody’s expectations.
Some conservatives have qualms about these tactics, noting they siphon cash and energy from activists’ limited supply. But there is no question that direct mail is working wonders for Carson’s political profile. Part of that is due to the appeal of the surgeon from Baltimore, who became famous for pioneering a method to successfully separate the heads of conjoined twins—and whose bootstrap tale and searing rhetoric delights conservatives. The Draft Carson committee likes to tell supporters that the African-American doctor is the only prospective GOP candidate who can win enough black votes to retake the White House.
But a large part of the success is due to the Eberle machine, which is filling its own coffers as it touts Carson’s chances. And the push to draft the doctor will only intensify. By the end of 2014, the Draft Carson committee expects to raise up to $8 million from 150,000 donors, director Vernon Robinson told TIME last month.
You can read the full story on Carson’s conservative fundraising machine works here.
The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton photobombed a fan’s selfie during an April 14 visit to Christchurch, New Zealand, with her husband and the Duke of Cambridge Prince William. The image was reportedly posted on Reddit via Imgur earlier this week with the caption “Royal with cheese.” A Reddit commenter joked that the royal was “determining whether to high five or fist bump.” In the world of selfies, this photo would be considered a royal flush.
NASA’s LADEE robotic spacecraft has crashed into the far side of the moon, ground control officials confirmed on Friday, likely vaporizing on impact as intended.
LADEE—an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer—was launched from Virginia in September and completed its 100-day mission last month. On its doomed voyage, the robot studied the moon’s thin atmosphere and the moon dust stirred by impacting micrometeorites.
The robot defied expectations, surviving beyond its projected expiration date to live through the full lunar eclipse this week, which it wasn’t designed to do, the Associated Press reports.
Researchers believe LADEE, which was traveling at 3,600 miles per hour, was successfully annihilated upon impact with the moon, leaving little if any debris behind but perhaps some trace of its existence. “It’s bound to make a dent,” said Rick Elphic, a scientist on the project.
A Florida man has been charged with third-degree murder and child neglect after allegedly smothering his infant son to death while playing Xbox video games, authorities said Friday.
Cody Wygant, 24, said he was irritated that his 16-month-old son Daymeon Wygant’s incessant crying was preventing him from playing Xbox, investigators said. Wygant smothered the boy’s nose and mouth for several minutes until the child became lethargic then left him in a playpen unattended to for five hours, according to authorities. Daymeon wasn’t breathing when emergency responders arrived at the house Thursday morning and was declared dead at a hospital, the Associated Press reports.
“It is inconceivable that a father could kill his infant son—it just baffles the mind,” Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said.
Wygant’s girlfriend, the child’s mother, was not home at the time of the incident. The couple has a three-month-old daughter in the care of state social services.
As Christians around the world mark Good Friday today, they do so in changing times. In an increasingly diverse Christian environment, there is much ambivalence towards what is seen as a strange celebration of Jesus’s execution on the cross by the Roman authorities. Critics remind us that Easter—not Good Friday—is the centerpiece of the Christian story. As St. Augustine famously said: “We are Easter people, and ‘alleluia’ is our song!”MoreThe Rapture of the NerdsDear Religion, I Quit You!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 PostSurprise! Debbie Matenopoulos Is Married and Pregnant People
Their concerns are fair. We must not become Christians whose lives are devoid of Easter hope. But we also must not become Christians who ignore the cross of Christ, because to ignore his cross is to be blind to the sufferings all around us and to the brokenness that is present in our own hearts.
We mustn’t be naïve: the pain is everywhere. We are constantly bombarded with the sufferings of modern society by a media that seems to present it to us with a perverse enjoyment. The suffering play out on our television screens, in our communities, in our homes and most especially in our lives and in our own hearts. Yet too often we aren’t moved by it. As Pope Francis lamented last summer, we are society that has forgotten how to weep.
Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to weep because the cross of violence and pain that most afflicts us today is somewhat hidden. It’s the pain caused by the invisible violence of a government that again and again fails to serve its people, of an immigration system that denies millions of aspiring Americans their dignity, of schools without books and homes without heat in the winter. It’s the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relationships between communities and nations, that allows for a slow decay of culture and makes us indifferent. Though not as noticeable as a bomb or a gunshot, these realities are just as deadly.
But the cross isn’t just present in society. It exists just as profoundly in our own lives. Good Friday allows us to admit our own destructiveness, our own vanity and our own failures. Too often we have built our lives on the misfortunes of others. Too often we have preached peace and justice for the world, but have practiced hate and indifference in our own homes and communities. And too often we have ignored the suffering of our families, our friends and our neighbors because of how busy we imagine ourselves to be.
Acknowledging the cross of Jesus allows us to address these realities of the human condition. When we end the carnival dance and remove our masks, we will see the truth: something is not right in ourselves, in society and in the Church. Perhaps we will even see that evil and sin are real, and are staining every part of us and the world we live in. Then with the Psalmist, we can cry out: “forgive us, Lord, for we have sinned!”
But the cross doesn’t just stand as a distant critic. It gives us a sense of who God really is. In Jesus, God enters into the fullness of human dysfunction. In the story of Jesus’s passion and death, we see all of human brokenness on display: greed, violence, hatred, injustice and disloyalty. But we also see that Jesus enters into all of it, and redeems all of it. He goes all the way down to bring all of us up. No one is left behind.
This is the compelling story of Christianity. It isn’t simply a spiritual tradition devoid of meaning. It isn’t a spa therapy that helps us reduce our stress. At the core, it is a human encounter with a person who endured temptation, suffering and death on a cross to redeem the entirety of the human race. A Christian faith with just banners and balloons and without a cross is boring and superficial. It provides no meaning to people beyond childhood. It doesn’t give us a sense of how to deal with darkness, pain and suffering. This is where the drama of life occurs, and this is where the faith matters.
It’s pretty clear: Easter without the cross is superficial, just as the cross without the Easter is unnecessarily gloomy. We need both. Today, the Church invites to undertake the paschal mystery of Jesus, a journey that includes the cross. The road is uncomfortable, but it isn’t sterile. With Jesus, we can change, turn around and be converted. And with his cross, our Easter joy can be complete.
More5 Fundamental Truths for Tech CompaniesSamsung Okayed Vicious Apple Ads Two Days After Steve Jobs Passed AwayMen 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 PostSurprise! Debbie Matenopoulos Is Married and Pregnant People
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published atFortune.com.
How does a CEO grab attention when he’s the follow-up act to a brash, voluble leader like Steve Ballmer? For Satya Nadella, who hardly seems prone to the same kind of sweat-soaked stage performance of his predecessor, the answer lay in a bold strategic gesture: Get Microsoft Office onto the iPad.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
Office, of course, had long been Microsoft’s great cash cow fenced off from the green pastures of the tablet market. Some believed it was the reason Microsoft started making Surface tablets after decades of not manufacturing personal computing devices. That expensive experiment hasn’t exactly delivered a hit. Surface sales are growing, but its 2% market share lags those of Samsung, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and of course the iPad.
With Nadella taking the reins from Ballmer, Microsoft has the chance to begin a new era — distinct from the Ballmer years that saw modest growth and a move into enterprise software, and even more remote from the Gates years when Microsoft ruled PC software with an iron fist. Nadella’s Microsoft appears to be a company that aims to compete in markets rather than control them.
Nadella’s experience is aligned with the same technologies that promise future growth — cloud computing, multi-platforms, mobility, big data — the antithesis of the proprietary software that Microsoft built its historical success on. That’s why the Office 365 for iPad announcement was notable. It wasn’t so much two longtime enemies sharing revenue. It was Microsoft risking its own mobile platform by expanding to another, bigger platform. It was a Microsoft open like never before.
The announcement was also Nadella’s first big public appearance, a product launch cum CEO debut. The move was a risky one: It could telegraph that Microsoft was capitulating to Apple, running its prized wares on its old rival’s device while paying a 30% share of revenue for the privilege. Increasingly, Nadella is instead being seen as a leader who can finally usher the company out of the PC era and into the cloud economy.
Last month, when Microsoft announced that Office apps would be available for the iPad, the news stirred a ripple of notice. Analysis was mixed. The New York Times wondered if it wasn’t the right move too late. Techcrunch found it to be worth the wait. Someone at Forbesdismissed it as a non-game changer.
After a few weeks in the App Store, Office for iPad is proving the early skeptics wrong. More than 12 million people downloaded Office Apps in the first week. Today, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are the three most popular free apps in the iPad App Store (excluding games, which shows that tablets may be better for idleness than productivity). The basic apps are free for bare-bones functionality, but a subscription to Office 365 opens up more features.
For investors, the arrival of Office for iPad is unlikely to translate into material earnings, at least any time soon. It may open Microsoft to businesses that prefer tablets over traditional PCs, but it could also cannibalize the company’s older, high-margin markets. Desktop and laptop sales have been declining since the iPad’s introduction, although recent months have shown signs those declines are stabilizing.
If the move has little short-term benefit for Microsoft, its symbolic value is higher. CEOs of prominent companies like Microsoft often set the tone of a company, and in some ways Microsoft now appears to have lost the cloud hanging over it when Ballmer was there. Ballmer, of course, also worked to push Microsoft into a more open direction, but somehow Nadella’s presence makes it seem like it may finally be happening.
Office, of course, is only one part of Microsoft’s business. It’s the prime contributor to the company’s business division, along with Sharepoint and Exchange. That division makes up a third of Microsoft’s revenue and three-fifths of its operating income. But growth in the division has been flat — revenue rose only 2.5% in Microsoft’s last fiscal year (ended June 2013) and declined 6% in the last six months of 2013.
Microsoft is seeing faster revenue growth in its server and online services divisions, although these segments have much lower margins. (The online division has been a perennial money loser.) So while the Office move is seen as a symbolic victory for Nadella’s Microsoft, the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues: an enterprise software market and the aging business in PC operating software.
Office for iPad is a strong start to Nadella’s follow-up act to Ballmer. But it will need to be followed by a lot more creative, bold moves to change Microsoft into the dynamic, future-oriented company that investors are hoping it can become.
Maybe that correction in technology stocks wasn’t such a bad thing after all. As tech companies have started the quarterly ritual of reporting earnings, the early indications are that, while many are still growing, they aren’t growing enough to meet the outsize expectations the market had built up.MoreMen 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 PostSurprise! Debbie Matenopoulos Is Married and Pregnant PeopleRangers score three in third to take Game 1 vs. Flyers Sports Illustrated'Scandal' recap: 'The Price of Free and Fair Elections' Entertainment Weekly
So far, the flagship tech companies that have posted earnings bore few big surprises or disappointments. While several companies posted solid results, it wasn’t enough for the more hyped, overvalued stocks like Google. Others, like Intel, that were left out of last year’s tech rally performed much better.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
It’s almost enough to make a fundamental investor believe the market hasn’t quite lost its head. There are several more weeks to earnings season to come, but if this week is any indication of what’s ahead, there are several trends emerging.
Internet companies are growing fast, just not fast enough. At Google, revenue excluding traffic acquisitions costs rose 23%. That’s a far cry from Facebook’s recent 63% growth but it’s still pretty impressive. According to RBC Capital, only two other large companies have maintained growth above 20% for 16 straight quarters: Amazon and Priceline. Being as big as Google and growing that fast is a tough act to keep up.
But for investors who have strongly associated Internet giants with growth, Google’s feat doesn’t impress much. The stock slid 4% Thursday after Google fell short of revenue and profit expectations. The growth simply wasn’t good enough to justify the stock’s lofty price. Even after its recent slump, Google shares are up 36% in the past year, pricing it at 29 times revenue.
Mobile is driving down ad prices, and it’s starting to be a problem. If there was one worrisome part of Google’s report, it was the decline in cost per clicks, the price charged for ads. CPC’s fell 9% at Google, a decline that has been accelerating for the past few quarters. In fact, Google’s CPC’s have been negative for a couple of years, around the time mobile ads began supplanting ads on the desktop Web.
Mobile is an opportunity and a problem for Google. It’s where the users are going, but it’s also, according to Google, a key reason why CPCs are in decline. Google may also be seeing lower CPCs from emerging markets and ads outside its own sites. The company plans to offer more detailed data on CPCs in coming quarters. Facebook has had better rates with its targeted ads in mobile feeds, but most other companies are struggling to see mobile ads pay.
The market is getting competitive for IT services. IBM’s stock dropped 3% after it said revenue fell 4% last quarter to $22.5 billion. For years, IBM was a stalwart leader in the market for managing IT services for other companies. But rivals like HP and Dell are getting aggressive on costs, and cloud computing is cutting IT costs in general, and it’s all taking its toll on IBM.
Revenue at IBM’s IT and outsourcing business fell 3%, its consulting division was flat and its server and storage business declined 23%. Software was a bright spot, rising 2%. IBM is still vowing to reach $20 in earnings per share next year, although some analysts noted earnings growth is coming from a lower tax rate and an aggressive buyback program.
Old school tech still has the ability to impress. Intel shares reached their highest level Thursday in nearly two years as it delivered earnings slightly above Wall Street estimates, but showed the company is making a slow but sure move into chips powering tablets and mobile devices. That makes for a 23% rebound in Intel’s stock since last September.
Bulls and bears have been arguing over whether Intel can make the transition without eating into costs, which have been weighing on margins in recent quarters. Intel’s manufacturing prowess may be able to lower costs in the long run, while also pushing into new markets like sensor chips for the Internet of Things. So while Intel is still struggling in its legacy market for PC chips, it fighting for footing in growing markets.
Growth in Asian giants is outpacing US peers. For all of Marissa Mayer’s attempts to turn around Yahoo’s core business, investors still scour its earnings announcements for information on another company: Alibaba. Yahoo’s earnings from equity interests in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan rose to $301 million last quarter from $218 million a year ago.
China-based Alibaba was by far the big contributor to Yahoo’s equity earnings. Alibaba’s operating income rose 66% in its most recently reported quarter. Yahoo’s operating profit, by contrast fell 84%. And yet Yahoo’s stock has risen 6% since reporting earnings. Wags have joked that investors like Yahoo as a hedge fund better than an Internet company, and numbers like that show the truth behind the humor.
From the sinking of a South Korean passenger ferry to the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, to Passover in Jerusalem and Holy Week around the world, TIME presents the best photos of the week.
(MEXICO CITY) — A powerful earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey calculated its magnitude at 7.5 and said it was centered near the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.
An Associated Press reporter said it was felt strongly in the resort city but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The quake shook Mexico City for at least 30 seconds, with buildings swaying as people fled high rises and took to the streets. Because of the Easter holiday, that city was less crowded than usual.
Mexico City is vulnerable even to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds that quiver as quake waves hit.
The magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centered 250 miles (400 kilometers) away on the Pacific Coast.
City Wildlife’s rehabilitation center in Washington D.C. posted images this week of a baby squirrel in colored casts after it fell 75 feet from its perch in a tree onto the concrete sidewalk below. Found by a private citizen on April 8, she is expected to be fully healed in about a month, The TODAY Show reports.
The organization told The TODAY Show that a number of these injuries occur this time of year as the young ones try to explore life outside of the nest. In fact, maybe this one was trying to get a better view of the cherry blossoms.
Two million. That’s the global gully, valley or chasm — you pick — dividing Sony’s PlayStation 4 from Microsoft’s Xbox One in unit sales as we round the bend from March to April. That’s a lot of units in the short term, or it’s a drop in the bucket thinking longer-term, where bestselling platforms like Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Nintendo’s Wii went on to push more than 100 million and 155 million units, respectively.MoreSony’s PlayStation 4 Was the Top-Selling Console in March, but Titanfall Was the Top-Selling GameThe Amazing Spider-Man 2 Won’t Swing onto Xbox One at First — Will It Ever?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 PostIdris Elba Welcomes a Son People
It’s vogue to say console sales don’t matter, but those who do are just telegraphing fatigue with the irrational (and unintelligible, and often downright cruel) conversations that erupt on message boards like so much digital effluvium. (Fandom is as fandom does.) But there’s a very sound, perfectly rational reason to care who’s winning hearts and wallets in the monthly numbers, especially if it’s by wide margins. And it’s this: they determine where the games go.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
Wii U owners are struggling with this unfortunate reality as we speak (and will increasingly as we roll forward), unable to play multi-platform games like Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid V, Destiny, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Assassin’s Creed Unity. It’s not necessarily because the Wii U isn’t capable of running downscaled versions of some or all of those games, but because the sales base isn’t there (and doesn’t seem likely to get there soon) to justify spending time and money on ports.
But let’s focus on the PS4 and Xbox One, in view of the latest sales claims, and delve beneath the surface of reductive analyses like “7 million minus 5 million equals 2 million!” That’s an oversimplification, of course, for at least the following five reasons.
You can buy the PlayStation 4 in 72 “countries and regions.” You can buy the Xbox One in 13.
Everyone misses this, and it’s easy to see why, since you have to scour the fine print to find it. It’s not clear what the nature of Microsoft’s problem is, exactly — whether it’s manufacturing or regulatory or who knows — but the Xbox One was originally supposed to launch in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland alongside the 13 countries in this list back in November. Microsoft scrapped those plans at the last minute, and so to date, the Xbox One exists in just 13.
Not all “countries and regions” are equal when you’re talking about potential audience size, of course, and Microsoft’s going to have its biggest bases covered by the time fall 2014 rolls around, raising its total markets figure to 39. In other words, the gulf between 72 and 13 is huge, but 72 and 39 — because we’re talking most of the key remaining ingredients added in that 39 — not so much.
Still, the clock’s ticking. If you’re a game developer, you want to be, as lyricist Howard Ashman put it, “where the people are.” Microsoft’s challenge at this point is as much (or more) about ramping up Xbox One availability as it is landing crucial third-party exclusives or thinking about price drops.
$100 is $100 (even when it’s not $100).
Show me a significantly more expensive game platform that trounced its competition in the long run. Don’t say Sony’s PlayStation 3, because a few million ahead at the end of the marathon’s hardly trouncing. Don’t say the PC because it’s a wildly different animal, and as gaming platforms go, it’s certainly seen better days. Of course, the PS3 had to drop in price dramatically to catch back up to the Xbox 360, and it did, managing to catch and just barely inch past Microsoft’s console in global sales toward the end.
Nintendo’s Wii left everything in the dust during its prime sales years, I’d argue as much, if not chiefly, because of its lower price tag. Microsoft’s Xbox One is $100 more expensive than Sony’s PlayStation 4, and all the shell-game price discounts and bundles and temporary retailer price overrides in the world won’t change the “much more expensive” public perception until Microsoft makes an Xbox One price drop official (perhaps by offering a version without Kinect). Forget all the blather about which platform’s more technically capable (answer: both!), if the Xbox One had launched at $400, we’d be having a very different sales conversation right now.
The point being this: Price is a big deal, and it’s almost surely hurting the Xbox One, as we knew it would. But you could also argue Microsoft selling 5 million Xbox One units at that higher price point is as much an achievement as Sony selling 7 million PS4 units at its lower one.
It’s impossible (for us) to know whether production constraints are impacting these numbers.
All we have are vague claims from Sony and Microsoft and anecdotal evidence provided by retailers, but production constraints could be masking demand (and almost certainly are if we factor regional availability, as noted above).
Sony knows precisely how impacted it is. So does Microsoft. But all they’re sharing are unverifiable vagaries about production issues. And so we’re left to speculate. Maybe Sony’s PlayStation 4 would’ve sold thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions more. Maybe that’s just marketing spin. But the possibility alone means we should be wary of reading these numbers as reflective of actual consumer demand.
Both the PS4 and Xbox One are performing sales feats of derring-do.
Both the PS4 and Xbox One are selling at unprecedented levels. As NPD noted in its March 2014 sales rundown last night, if you add both systems together through their preliminary five months of availability, you’re talking twice the sales of the PS3 and Xbox 360 for the same period. What’s more, if you run the same figure for retail software sales, combined PS4 and Xbox One software is up some 60 percent. You’d be mad to read those kinds of generation-on-generation numbers as bad in any way for either company.
Titanfall wasn’t supposed to change March 2014′s sales figures, but it did anyway.
Anyone paying attention to point number one (as well as Sony’s and Microsoft’s prior global sales figures) knew Titanfall wasn’t going to eliminate the Xbox One’s sales deficit. Imagine Microsoft selling 2 million consoles over the course of 30 days — that’s just wishful thinking unless you’re the Wii and it’s 2007 (or 2008) again. Titanfall‘s a core online-only game for a very specific sort of player. That it took the number one software sales spot for March 2014 despite the PS4′s unit sales lead speaks volumes in an industry where hardware paves the roads and sets up the shipping lines, but where it’s software that ultimately carries the lion’s share of your profits.
(PARIS) — The French president’s top adviser resigned Friday following allegations of a past conflict of interest, striking a new blow to the already unpopular Francois Hollande.
Aquilino Morelle —Hollande’s political adviser and head of his communication staff — had denied allegations by the news website Mediapart that he worked for the government pharmaceutical regulator in 2007 while also lobbying for the drug industry.
The report also criticized Morelle’s supposed lavish lifestyle at a time when the government is making cuts in public spending.
Hollande sought to distance himself from the new scandal, telling reporters while on a visit to Clermont-Ferrand “I am not the judge of what he did before.”
“What happened before, it’s up to him alone to answer for,” Hollande said, adding that he’d accepted Morelle’s resignation “immediately.”
Hollande’s approval rating has recently hit a new low of 18 percent despite a cabinet reshuffle three weeks ago.
MoreWhich Music Stars Should Be on the 2014 TIME 100?Which Movie and Television Entertainers Should Be on the 2014 TIME 100?Which World Figures Should Be on the 2014 TIME 100?Updated April 18, 2014, 10:46 a.m.
Transgender actress Laverne Cox ignited her fan base when she retweeted the TIME 100 Reader Poll, launching her ahead of pop star Justin Bieber, who had previously occupied the top spot. Though the controversial Canadian songster held second place Friday morning, he had soon dropped to fourth–and has earned more votes against him than for, making him the most polarizing figure on the reader poll.
Though the final TIME 100 list of the most influential people of the year worldwide is ultimately chosen by the editors, TIME seeks the input of readers in an online poll.
Pop star Katy Perry and India’s Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal currently outrank Bieber, though Perry has a considerable share of votes against her. Of those in the poll’s top five, Oscar-winner and fashion darling Lupita Nyong’o garnered the least percentage of votes against her–even less than Beyonce. Egyptian presidential candidate Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who almost took Bieber’s top spot earlier this week, has slipped to seventh.
Don’t like what you see? Voting’s still open–if not for long. Polls close at 11:59 p.m. on April 22. The final winner announced April 23. We’ll announce our official TIME 100 list on April 24.
This post was updated to reflect Bieber dropping to fourth place.
My Sunday morning began with a 60-minute commute through the rain to the home of the maximum-security treatment program for Canada’s most notorious violent offenders. This was a special day as a new cohort of inmates was being transferred in to start treatment. I was excited about the chance to interview 25 new inmates and get them signed up for my research studies.MoreI’ll Finish the Dishes When I’m DeadParent Like a Mad ScientistMen 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 PostNebraska Boy Flies Like Iron Man, Thanks to Make-A-Wish (and 4 More Inspiring Stories) People
An inmate had exited his cell completely naked and started walking up the tier.I arrived at the housing unit before the inmates had left their cells. I entered the nurses’ station and fired up the coffeemaker. The inmates’ cells opened and they rushed for the showers or the TV room. It was football season and the East Coast games were just starting. The inmates crowded into the TV room. I leaned against the door frame, watching the TV to see if I could catch a glimpse of the latest highlights. And then suddenly there was tension in the air. I felt it on the back of my neck before I was even conscious of what was happening. The inmates milling around had slowed, the sound of their feet hitting the cold concrete floor halted, the TV seemed to get louder, and all of a sudden I was acutely aware of the steam from the hot coffee in my mug spiraling up toward my nose.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotRock With Michael Jackson (Again)
An inmate had exited his cell completely naked and started walking up the tier. I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. He passed the TV room, shower stalls, and empty nurses’ station and proceeded down the stairs to the doors that led to the outside exercise area. Some of the inmates turned slightly after he had walked by to take a look at him. Others tried not to move or look, but I could see they noticed. The inmates were as confused as they were anxious. What was he doing?
The naked inmate proceeded outside into the rain and walked the perimeter of the short circular track. He walked around the oval track twice. The TV room was on the second floor and the inmates had a good view of the track. Some of the inmates peered outside and watched him. Everyone was distracted; no one spoke. We were all in shock.
The inmate returned, still naked, and walked up the stairs to the second-floor tier and then down to his cell. The tension around the TV room grew. The inmate quickly emerged from his cell with a towel and proceeded to the showers. He walked down the middle of the tier as inmates slowly moved out of his way or retreated into their cells. Other inmates appeared to talk to one another, but they were clearly trying to avoid any direct eye contact with him. I noticed one of the biggest inmates had subtly slowed his pace so that he would not cross the path of the new inmate.
The naked inmate took a quick shower and returned to his cell; there was a slight swagger to his stride. He was not particularly big, but his physique was ripped.
I had to interview him. I took a gulp of coffee and then walked toward his cell.
The first name written on masking tape above his door was “Richard.”
“Good morning. I’m the research guy from the University of British Columbia. We are conducting interviews and brain wave testing on the inmates in treatment here. Would you be interested in hearing more about it?” I asked.
“Sure” came the reply out of the dark cell.
“All right, then. Why don’t you get dressed and grab a bite to eat, and I’ll come get you in about thirty minutes. We’ll do the interview downstairs in my office.”
I returned to the nurses’ station and had a couple more cups of coffee. I wanted to make sure I was fully awake when I interviewed Richard.‘Shock Richie’ Pushes My Button
Richard had dressed in classic prison garb: blue jeans, white T-shirt, and dark green jacket. He sauntered down the stairs and through the covered outdoor walkway to the mess hall for breakfast. He returned to his cell after about 15 minutes. I couldn’t wait; I went down early to get him.
He followed me to my office and he plopped down in the chair opposite from me.
Over a minute later, we heard doors being slammed open in the distance and the unmistakable sound of running footsteps.Before I could get the consent form out of the drawer, he stared at me and said: “You ever need to push that red button?” He was referring to the silver-dollar-sized button in the middle of the wall; when depressed, it signaled distress. A buzzer would go off in the guard bubble down the hallway.
We were both about the same distance away from the button. I realized that I might not be able to reach the button before he could get to me. My mind quickly turned to figuring out a new way to organize the office so that I was closer to the button than the inmates being interviewed.
“No,” I replied. “In the five years I’ve worked here, I’ve never had to push the button.” I threw the five years in to let him know that I had some experience behind me.
Without saying another word, he leaped up and slammed his hand on the button. I didn’t have time to react. He returned to his seat as quickly as he had jumped up.
“Let’s see what happens,” he said calmly, leaning back into his chair.
Over a minute later, we heard doors being slammed open in the distance and the unmistakable sound of running footsteps.
I had thought about getting up and opening the door for the guards, but I would have had to pass by Richard to get to the door. So I just sat in my chair and waited. The guards’ response time felt glacial.
A key was jammed into my door and then it was flung open; two guards entered, panting and out of breath, and stared at us.
Richard turned calmly in his chair and said to the guards: “What’s the problem?”
“Someone pushed the alarm button,” the guard stammered. “Everything okay?” His question was directed at me.
“Oh, I must have accidentally pushed it when I took my coat off,” Richard answered. “Everything is just fine; we are just doing the research interview here.”
“Okay,” the guard said. “Don’t do that again.”
I just nodded. I was having trouble speaking.
The guards pulled the door closed and Richard turned and looked at me.
“They call me Shock Richie,” he said. “And I’m going to shock you too.”
Mustering as much inner strength as I could, I replied: “I’m looking forward to it; I’m here to be shocked. Take your best shot.”
Shock Richie smiled.
Prison is never boring, I thought.‘You ever tried to carry a body?’
We completed the consent form and then I started the Psychopathy Checklist interview with a question I would never ask any other inmate in my career.
“Why did you walk naked out in the rain?”
Nike probably never envisioned a psychopathic inmate embracing their slogan ‘Just Do It’ in a manner quite like this.“Well, I arrived last night. You have to make an impression on the other inmates right away when you get shipped to a new place. I saw you standing there by the TV room. You noticed how all the other inmates got a bit nervous when I walked by. Even the big ones get nervous when you do shit like that. You just got to establish yourself right away. If you don’t, then inmates think they can test you.” He stared quite matter-of-factly at me; the emptiness in his eyes was unnerving.
“When I do stuff like that, inmates don’t know what to think. I’m unpredictable. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do what I do. I just do it.”
My mind was racing again. I completely agreed with his logic, albeit twisted; he had already established his dominance at this prison. He was going to score high on at least a few psychopathic traits. Nike probably never envisioned a psychopathic inmate embracing their slogan Just Do It in a manner quite like this.
“You’ve been working here for five years?”
“Yes, since I started graduate school,” I replied.
“Interviewed lots of guys, right?”
“Yes, hundreds of them.”
“Well, you ain’t never met anyone like me,” he said.
“Really? What makes you so special?”
“I’ve done shit you can’t even imagine. I’m gonna shock you like I shock everyone,” he stated calmly. “Let’s get on with it.”
Richie enjoyed doing bad things. He was only in his late 20s when I interviewed him, but he had a rap sheet like no one I had ever interviewed before. As a teenager he had committed burglary, armed robbery of banks and convenience stores, arson for hire, and all kinds of drug-related crimes from distribution to forcing others to mule drugs for him. He would force women to hide plastic baggies of cocaine in their body cavities and transport them across borders and state lines and on plane flights. One of Richie’s girls got a baggie stuck in her vagina. Richie used a knife to “open her up a bit” so he could retrieve his drugs. He said he didn’t use her again after that. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said that he didn’t use her for sex; she was too loose now, and she lost her nerve about carrying drugs.
Richie smiled as he told me a story of a prostitute he had killed for pissing him off. He actually seemed proud when he described wrapping her up in the same blanket he had suffocated her with so he could keep all the forensic evidence in one place. He put her in the trunk of his car and drove out to a deserted stretch of road bordered by a deep forest. Chuckling, he told me he was pulled over by a highway trooper because he was driving erratically as he searched for a dirt road to drive up so he could bury the body in the woods.
“So the cop pulls me over and comes up to the window and asks me if I have been drinking alcohol. I lied and said no. I told him that I just had to take a piss and I was looking for a place to go. But the cop gave me a field sobriety test anyways. I figured that if I didn’t pass the test, I would have to kill that cop. Otherwise, he might open the trunk and discover the body. The cop didn’t search me when I got out of the car, and I was carrying a knife and a handgun. I’m surprised that I passed that field test since I had had a few drinks that night. I was planning to beat the cop senseless and then I was going to put the girl’s body in the backseat of the cop’s car. Then I would shoot him in the head with his own gun and make it look like a suicide after he accidentally killed the prostitute while raping her in the backseat of his cruiser. Everyone would think it was just another sick dude.”
The irony of his latter statement was completely lost on Shock Richie.
The cop proceeded to point out a dirt road just up the way where Richie could pull over and take a piss. It was fascinating that Richie could remain calm enough not to set off any alarm bells for the cop that something was amiss. After all, Richie had a body decomposing in the trunk of the car. Yet apparently, Richie showed no anxiety in front of the cop. Most psychopaths like Richie lack anxiety and apprehension associated with punishment.
Richie turned up the dirt road the cop pointed out to him and drove in a ways. He pulled over, parked, and removed the body from the trunk.
“I had all these great plans to carry the body miles into the woods and bury it really deep so nobody would ever find it. But it’s f—ing hard to carry a body. You ever tried to carry a body?” he asked.
“No, I don’t have any experience carrying dead bodies,” I told him.
“Well, it’s a lot of work, let me tell you. So I only got about a hundred yards off the road and just into the trees before I was exhausted. Then I went back and got the shovel from the car. I started digging a huge hole.”
He looked up at me with those empty eyes and asked: “You know how hard it is to dig a hole big enough to bury a body?”
“No,” I answered, “I don’t have any experience digging holes to bury bodies.”
“Well, it’s harder than you might think.” He starts laughing. “I had all these great plans to carry her miles into the woods and dig this monster hole so nobody would ever find her.”
A couple weeks later, a couple of hikers discovered the body. Shock Richie read about it in the newspapers, but he was never charged with the murder.Not His Brother’s Keeper
Richie admitted that he had no need for friends. He’d really never been close to anyone in his life. He preferred to do everything on his own. He also didn’t trust anyone.
I believed him. Richie had no friends in prison, he had no visitors, and all the other inmates said he could not be trusted and he knew not to trust them in return.
While he was having sex with the prostitute in the living room, she said she smelled something funny.He had lived a life supported by crime, never had any vocational training, and never made even a passing attempt at any other lifestyle. He made most of his big scores by taking down rival drug pushers. He would set up deals in different towns and then rob and sometimes kill the other person. Richie had no fear or hesitation with killing. Richie also had more than a dozen fake names and accompanying identification.
For a long time he was a pimp. He used to corral runaways into working for him. He would get them hooked on drugs and then make them work the streets. He’d killed more than a few prostitutes. He saw people as objects, things to be manipulated; we were there just for his entertainment.
When Richie had been released the last time from prison, he was taken in by his older brother. His older brother was not a criminal. He was on the straight and narrow. After a few months of Richie bringing home prostitutes and doing drug deals at the house, his brother had told Richie he had to stop or he was going to kick him out. They argued, but Richie never tried to change his behavior. Finally, his brother had had enough. He picked up the phone to call the police to have him arrested for drug possession. “I was high,” said Richie, “but not more than usual. I got the jump on him and beat him with the phone. While he was lying there dazed on the floor, I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. I came back and stabbed him a few times.” He looked up at me intently to see if I was shocked.
“Continue,” I said.
“I figured that I would make it look like somebody had come over and killed him as part of a drug deal gone bad. Then I thought that maybe I should make it look like my brother had raped one of my girls and one of them had stabbed him.” By girls he meant the prostitutes in his “stable.”
After killing his brother, he went out and partied for a day or two. Then he came back home with a prostitute whom he planned to stab, and then put the weapon in the hand of his dead brother. He was going to put them both in the basement and make it look like his brother died quickly during the fight and the girl died slowly from stab wounds.
While he was having sex with the prostitute in the living room, she said she smelled something funny.
“You ever smell a body after it’s been decomposing for a couple days?” he asked.
“No,” I replied, “I don’t have any experience smelling decomposing bodies.”
“Well, they stink. I recommend getting rid of them fast.”
After having sex, he intended to lure the girl down into the basement. But the prostitute excused herself to use the bathroom and she jumped out the window and ran away. Later that evening the police showed up at his door and asked to come inside. Apparently, the prostitute recognized that odd smell to be that of a decomposing body. She had good survival instincts.
Richie told the cops he had been away from the house partying for a few days. He didn’t know that his brother had been killed. Confessing to being a pimp and drug dealer, Richie told the officers that he owed a lot of people a lot of money. He gave them a list of a dozen or so names of potential suspects.
The police eventually arrested Richie. Through his attorney, Richie received a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to many years in prison.No More Little Richies?
Richie had a few more zingers he hit me with that day. He had indeed met my challenge. When I got home that evening, I opened a bottle of wine; it was empty before I knew it.
If Shock Richie’s brain has been abnormal since he was a child, is he responsible for his actions as an adult?Richie and I have both spent the last 20 years in prison. Richie as an inmate, me as a scientist trying to understand the mind and brain of the psychopath. Richie scored in the 99th percentile on Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), the test we use to assess psychopathic traits. There are 20 psychopathic traits on the Hare PCL-R, including Lack of Empathy, Guilt and Remorse, Callousness, Irresponsibility, and Impulsivity. Richie fit the classic definition of all of those traits.
Richie was also the first psychopath to receive an MRI scan of his brain. Since that first MRI study my laboratory has scanned the brains of more than 3,000 other inmates, many of them psychopaths like Richie. This MRI data is the world’s largest forensic neuroscience repository and it is starting to yield some startling discoveries. We know for example, how Richie’s brain differs from the rest of us. His limbic system, the area of the brain that controls emotion and affect, is reduced in both brain structure and function. Additional research has found these same brain abnormalities in incarcerated youth with emerging psychopathic traits. Indeed, some scientists argue that emotional and behavioral antecedents to psychopathic traits can be recognized as early as age 6.
If Shock Richie’s brain has been abnormal since he was a child, is he responsible for his actions as an adult? Does Richie have the same free will as the rest of us?
Finally, the latest science of psychopaths has also illuminated a path that might remedy these problems before they even get started. Indeed, studies are showing that early treatment might prevent little Richies from ever developing.
Excerpts adapted from The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience (Crown), by Dr. Kent Kiehl, available Apr. 22.