science, wildlife. great apes. teasing. humor's origin
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Great Apes’ Playful Teasing Points to Origin of Humor: Researchers (Maria)

The author writes, “Body-slamming, hiding, hitting, poking, offering — and withdrawing an object, stealing, tickling and other teasing behaviors are documented across four great ape species in a new study. Teasing reflects social understanding and a sense of another individual’s expectations — cognitive capabilities that are also building blocks for joking. The presence of playful teasing in several ape species suggests the trait was ‘most likely inherited from our last common ancestor’ and that the precursors for humor evolved at least 13 million years ago, the researchers report.”

For President’s Day, We Examine What Trump May Have in Common With Another Leader (Al)

The author writes, “In so many ways, a second Donald Trump term would be unprecedented. Except in one way. A way that has nothing to do with the future of democracy, the rule of law, the rights of women and minorities, or America’s standing on the world stage. Fun fact: Donald Trump — if elected in November — would be the second president to serve a split term. [For] President’s Day, Feb. 19, it’s worth remembering the first. Grover Cleveland served from 1885 to 1889. Then — after a four-year interregnum, when Benjamin Harrison was president — he served again, from 1893 to 1897.”

Maui Fire Survivors Struggle To Find Long-Term Housing, Half a Year After the Blazes (Dana)

From NPR: “Six months after the fires in Lahaina and Kula, the Souzas, like thousands of other displaced families, are trying to navigate a complicated disaster recovery process amidst a housing crisis that pre-existed the fires, but has been worsened by them. There isn’t enough rental housing to accommodate the need, and now people are trying to figure out how to stay on Maui in difficult circumstances. It’s taking a serious emotional toll, on top of the trauma of the fires themselves.”

Many Believe the Founders Wanted a Christian America. Some Want the Government To Declare One Now (Sean)

The author writes, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention Christianity or any specific religion. The Declaration of Independence famously proclaims that people’s rights come from a ‘Creator’ and ‘Nature’s God’ — but doesn’t specify who that is. Yet large numbers of Americans believe the founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation, and many believe it should be one. Such views are especially strong among Republicans and their white evangelical base. Already such views are being voiced by supporters of Donald Trump amid his bid to recapture the presidency. … But within that is a smaller, hardcore group who also check other boxes in surveys — such as that the U.S. Constitution was inspired by God and that the federal government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation.”

MAGA’s Violent Threats Are Warping Life in America (DonkeyHotey)

From The New York Times: “Amid the constant drumbeat of sensational news stories — the scandals, the legal rulings, the wild political gambits — it’s sometimes easy to overlook the deeper trends that are shaping American life. For example, are you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?”

Amid the Lingering Trauma of Trump’s Executions, a New Project Brings Families to Federal Death Row (Laura)

From The Intercept: “Donald Newson entered the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, with a mix of nerves and excitement. He had not seen his father, Nasih Khalil Ra’id, in almost 20 years. Born Odell Corley, Ra’id was sent to federal death row when Newson was just a teenager. Although he insisted he’d been wrongfully convicted, his hope of freedom faded over time, and he fell out of contact with his son. Now 35, Newson wondered if his father would even recognize him. … In 2022, Ra’id’s legal team told Newson about a new program to help families visit loved ones on federal death row. The initiative was started by anti-death penalty activists who raised money to provide financial support for travel, lodging, and meals. Ra’id, who had always been firm that Newson should not spend money on him that could be spent on his kids, seemed enthusiastic. [Last May, Newson flew] from Atlanta to Indianapolis, where he was picked up by volunteers, then driven straight to the penitentiary.”

New York Will Replace Gas Pipelines to Pump Clean Heat Into Buildings (Gerry)

The author writes, “Last month, utilities in New York state submitted plans for 13 pilot projects meant to replace fossil-gas pipelines with infrastructure that can power clean, carbon-free heat pumps. These underground thermal networks range from dense midtown Manhattan commercial centers to low-income housing, and from neighborhoods in the Hudson Valley to the upstate town of Ithaca, N.Y. … Heat pumps, which operate like reversible air conditioners, are much more energy-efficient than fossil-fired furnaces or boilers. They’re even more efficient when they can exchange heat and cold with fluid at a stable temperature.”

The 90-Year-Old Idaho Cold Case of a Missing Game Warden Is Finally Closed (Reader Steve)

From the Idaho State Journal: “Investigators believe they have solved the Great Depression-era cold case of a game warden who vanished in the mountains south of Mullan in North Idaho. Though the body of Ellsworth Arthur Teed has never been found, his death has long been considered a homicide. … Teed, the first full-time fish and game officer in Idaho, got a tip in August 1934 that there may have been illegal hunting of deer and game birds in the area. He had found evidence the day before and was going back out to Boulder Gulch to catch the poachers. He said goodbye to his wife, Alma, and headed out in his Model A Ford with a packed lunch. Teed parked his car at the Mullan Cemetery, near the base of Boulder Creek Road, and hiked into the forested area. He never came back.”


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