When you kiss your husband, does your dog try to get your attention? And does that mean that your dog feels jealous? Threatened? Or are we just imagining that?
Many if not all dog owners are sure that their pets have feelings. And we've known for a while that animals exhibit behaviors that look like jealousy, guilt and shame. But it's hard to find out what animals are really feeling. And researchers say that understanding that could give us valuable insights into human emotions, too.
A study published Wednesday in PLoS ONE has brought us a tiny bit closer to proving that dogs do get jealous. Psychologists from the University of California, San Diego adapted a test that has been used on human infants to see whether dogs exhibit jealous behavior.
They videotaped how 36 dogs reacted to their owners ignoring them and instead petting and talking sweetly to a plastic jack-o-lantern or an animated, stuffed dog. When their owners were interacting with the stuffed animals, over three-quarters of the dogs pushed or touched their owners. The dogs also tried to get in between the stuffed animal and the owners, or growled at the plush pets.
The dogs seemed less jealous of the jack-o-lantern. But 40 percent acted aggressive when their owners started talking to the plastic pumpkins.
Psychologist Christine Harris, who led the study, says she's been studying jealousy for many years — but in himans. "The motivation that you have when you're jealous is to really break up the liaison between your loved one and your rival," she told Shots.
The fact that these dogs seemed like they were trying draw their owners away from the stuffed animal indicates that they're feeling something very similar to human jealousy, Harris says.
"This is really a landmark study," says Marc Bekoff, an emeritus professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed. "It opens the door to a lot more research on animal emotion."
Bekoff, who wasn't involved in the research, says that he's definitely seen what looks like jealousy in his work with not only dogs but also coyotes and wolves. But this study is one of the first controlled experiment that tries to show it.
Of course, the study still doesn't prove that dogs feel jealousy. "The problem is that [the researchers] didn't look at how dogs would react just to those objects," says Laurie Santos, director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University.
It could be that the dogs were jealous of the stuffed animal, Santos says. Or it could be that the dogs really distrusted the stuffed animal and were acting out of fear.
But this study does build on previous research that shows dogs react negatively when they're treated unfairly, she tells Shots. "This is a very new science. We are just developing new tools to better understand animal emotions."
In humans, jealousy can be a very complex emotion, Santos says. It can bring up a host of other emotions like anger and rejection. And when humans feel jealous, we start suspecting and speculating, she says. "We think, 'If my husband is talking to another woman, maybe he's cheating.' "
If we find out that dogs feel the same way, she says, "either jealousy is less complicated because animals show it, or animals are more complicated than we thought."
The last few days have brought a whole lot of important (and pretty sobering) news around race and policing. Here are some of the biggest stories that have landed on our radar.
Three-quarters of all stops by Newark police deemed unconstitutional
The tensions between residents and the police in Newark, N.J., are long-running. Like a bunch of other big cities in New Jersey, Newark has laid off a big chunk of its police force in recent years, and violent crimes, like carjackings, have been climbing — and some police say they are overworked. But many civilians have complained that they are regularly subjected to police harassment and mistreatment.
Just a few weeks after the Department of Justice announced that it was assigning a federal monitor to the police department of Newark, N.J., federal officials released findings from a years-long investigation that details civil rights violations and the use of excessive force on a systemic scale.
"The investigation found that city police officers had no constitutional basis for 75% of the pedestrian stops they conducted in recent years. It also determined that officers often used excessive force during arrests but underreported the level of force used. [...]
The federal investigation detailed longstanding and institutional misconduct, including retaliatory arrests "for behavior perceived as insubordinate or disrespectful to officers," according to the documents. Officers also routinely stole from suspects, and Newark's stop and arrest tactics both unfairly targeted blacks, according to the report."
Although black people made up just over half of the city's population in 2010, they accounted for 85 percent of all traffic stops and eight in 10 arrests over the period that the justice department was investigating. The inquiry also said that blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be stopped by police, 2.7 times more likely to be searched, and 3.1 times more likely to be frisked than whites were, even as the likelihood of finding evidence during a stop or frisk was essentially the same for both groups. (From the report: "Thus, not only are the unconstitutional stop practices of the NPD falling most heavily on black individuals, but those massively additional stops are not yielding more evidence of crime. In other words, the stops are both impermissible and ineffective. These racial disparities characterized every one of the NPD's policing precincts.") (You can read the whole report here.)
"Our investigation uncovered troubling patterns in stops, arrests and use of force by the police in Newark," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "With this agreement, we're taking decisive action to address potential discrimination and end unconstitutional conduct by those who are sworn to serve their fellow citizens."
Meanwhile, Anthony Campos, Newark's police chief, said that it wasn't yet clear what, if anything, would happen to the police officers who were found to be involved in the violations documented in the report.
A video of a fatal encounter goes viral and inflames old tensions
A 7-minute video that captured the death of Eric Garner, a New York City man who died after a confrontation with the police, was wildly shared over the Internet over the last week, and re-ignited old debates about race and police brutality in the city.
The cellphone video, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, shows Garner arguing with police officers. One of the officers who attempted to subdue Garner appeared to put him in a chokehold, before several other officers wrestled Garner to the ground. Garner can be heard yelling, "I can't breathe!" over and over, before he eventually falls silent. (You can see the video of the encounter here. Fair warning: it is very disturbing.)
The police officer who initially grabbed Garner has been removed from duty pending the conclusion of the investigation, and the EMS workers who were on the scene and who did not appear to treat Garner as he lay on the ground were placed on "modified duty." A police officers union official called the moves "completely unwarranted" and a "kneejerk reactions for political reasons and nothing more."
Witnesses on the video and those quoted in The New York Times say that Garner was trying to break up a fight, which is what drew the police's attention. Garner, who was reportedly six-foot-three and 350 pounds, suffered from diabetes and asthma, and had been arrested dozens of times for selling "loosies" — unpackaged, individual cigarettes cheaper than the taxed ones sold at bodegas and convenience stores — to passersby on the street. The Times reported that he started hawking loosies after his health made it impossible to keep his job in the city's parks department.
For years, Mr. Garner chafed at the scrutiny by the police, which he considered harassment. In 2007, he filed a handwritten complaint in federal court accusing a police officer of conducting a cavity search of him on the street, "digging his fingers in my rectum in the middle of the street" while people passed by.
More recently, Mr. Garner told lawyers at Legal Aid that he intended to take all the cases against him to trial. "He was adamant he wouldn't plead guilty to anything," said Christopher Pisciotta, the lawyer in charge of the Staten Island office of Legal Aid.
As my Code Switch teammate Hansi Lo Wang noted, the New York Police Department has had a long, fraught history with residents in many black and Latino neighborhoods. Garner's death is the latest of several high-profile cases in recent memory in which an unarmed black man has died in an encounter with the New York City police — Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham.
Indeed, the apparent cause of Garner's death has been at the center of some controversy. After the death of the graffiti artist Michael Stewart during an encounter with the police, the police officials barred the use of chokeholds by police. An inquiry by an independent agency into the use of chokeholds by New York City police there found more than a thousand complaints of the use of chokeholds in recent years, but only a handful that could be substantiated.
Study finds federal "fake" antidrug ratings focus on minorities
Earlier this year, a federal judge named Manuel Real angrily threw out charges against three defendants convicted of robbing a stash-house for drugs.
The scheme they were set to go to prison for went like this: a man introduced the three defendants to a drug courier who said wanted to rob the stash-house and wanted to steal what was inside from his superiors. The courier asked the three men to participate in the plot and earn themselves a big score.
But the man who made the intro was a government informant, and the courier was actually an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The stash-house, too, was set up by federal agents. None of the three defendants had previous robbery offenses.
Although the defendants had already pleaded guilty to the charges, but Judge Real wasn't having it. "[The] government created this fictitious crime from whole cloth," Real told government lawyers during the sentencing phase.
"The government provided the plan of this fictitious crime when undercover ATF Agent Carr insisted on running through a script to ensure a conspiracy had been hatched and that Carr also provided the getaway car with the fictitious conspiracy.
Further, there was no evidence that the defendants even knew of the location of the fictitious stash house or could have any ability to check the stash house as to whether or not t was the other than as represented by Agent Carr as being part of the stash house tht he participated in, in fact. Which was a lie and a falsehood to start this whole conspiracy."
Brad Heath of USA Today has been writing about the use of these stings, which have become a growing weapon in the government's prosecution of the drug war. Heath reports that there are several lawsuits in federal courts that claim that these kinds of stings are tantamount to entrapment and don't pass constitutional muster.
On Monday, USA Today published an investigation of these types of investigations and found that the overwhelming majority percent of the people targeted in them are black or Latino.
"At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.
The ATF operations raise particular concerns because they seek to enlist suspected criminals in new crimes rather than merely solving old ones, giving agents and their underworld informants unusually wide latitude to select who will be targeted. In some cases, informants said they identified targets for the stings after simply meeting them on the street."
But ATF officials denied that they were targeting people of color. "There is no profiling going on here," Melvin King, an ATF official, said. "We're targeting the worst of the worst, and we're looking for violent criminals that are using firearms in furtherance of other illegal activities."
A domestic flight in Taiwan that was attempting to land in bad weather brought on by a strong typhoon Wednesday night crashed near the runway, killing as many as 47 of the 58 people aboard, according to multiple media outlets.
About a dozen survivors have reportedly been taken to local hospitals; the plane reportedly had 54 passengers and a crew of four.
From Kuala Lumpur, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports:
"The Transasia Airways turboprop plane took off from the southern city of Kaohsiung. It was headed for Magong, the only city in the Penghu Islands off Taiwan's west coast.
"Civil Aviation Director Jean Shen told reporters that the plane crashed in a village just beyond the airport's runway. Authorities have sealed off the area, where local media report that passengers' bodies could be seen scattered about."
"Typhoon Matmo had just blown out to sea after having closed schools and stock markets on Taiwan. It's not known if the crash was related to this."
The plane's departure had reportedly been delayed by about an hour and 45 minutes Wednesday due to the bad weather. Before it crashed, the flight's pilots had requested a second landing attempt, officials tell the Taipei Times.
The Dutch Safety Board says it has taken charge of the investigation into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine. The two black boxes from the airliner are reported to have arrived in Britain.
In the Netherlands, it’s a National Day of Mourning. Church bells in towns and villages across the country rang for five minutes today, just before two transport planes arrived at Eindhoven airbase, carrying the first coffins of the crash victims.
The remains are being taken to a military base in Hilversum, southeast of Amsterdam. Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti talks to journalist Robert Chesal, who spent much of the day in Hilversum.
At age 7, Gideon Gidori knew exactly what he wanted to be: a rocket ship pilot.
The only thing was, he was living in a tiny Tanzanian village where schools only went through grade six and books about space (or for that matter, any books) were scarce.
But that didn't stop him. Now 15, Gidori is determined to become Tanzania's very first astronaut.
Gidori has always been fascinated with stars and spent his boyhood nights staring at the clear skies above his hometown. "I think there is much more up there than there is down here, and I want to know what that is," he says. When he becomes an astronaut, he hopes his first stop will be the moon - one of Jupiter's moons, that is.
"They say that on Europa, there's life," he says. "I want to be part of the crew that investigates it."
With the help of Epic Change, his dream isn't just wishful thinking. The nonprofit, which raises money for education and technology, gave him a scholarship to study in the U.S. This May, Gidori completed his first year of flight training school at Florida Air Academy.
To finance his next school year, he's using the allure of potato salad. Tanzanian astronaut potato salad, to be exact.
Inspired by the entrepreneur who raised more than $60,000 to make potato salad on Kickstarter, Gidori and his host family — Epic Change cofounders Sanjay Patel and Stacey Monk - are using the online platform to raise $35,000 to cover tuition and fees for next year. On their Kickstarter page, the trio has promised to throw the "greatest potato salad party in Tanzanian history" the day Gidori lifts off into space for the first time.
And the Tanzanian teen means it; he already has an experimental recipe in the works. As of July 22, a little more than $12,000 has been raised on Kickstarter and Rally.org.
Patel says Gidori was a precocious kid, even when they first met in 2007. Patel and Monk were in his village to help a teacher expand the primary school and build a secondary one.
He did well at school, despite the limited resources. Because there was only one textbook for the entire class, lessons often consisted of copying notes from the board and memorizing them. Outside of school, Gidori says he went from library to library, reading the few books they had on space, science and astronauts.
He also learned how to be resourceful. Take soccer, for example. "Back at home, if you didn't have a ball, you would literally take plastic bags, paper and socks to make one," he says. "Nothing would stop them from playing."
And nothing will stop him from pursuing his extraterrestrial goal. "Just watching him grow, I have no doubt in my mind that that's what he's going to be," Patel says.
Last summer, Monk pulled Gidori out of class and delivered the piece of news that put him a giant leap closer to Jupiter's moon. Florida Air Academy had accepted him and Epic Change had awarded him a scholarship to cover part of his costs.
"It was so amazing that I couldn't believe it for a second," Gidori says. "But it was real."
Without a visa, he wouldn't be able to achieve liftoff. And he only had a month to get one. He rode a bus for eight hours to reach the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam. "We got his visa maybe two or three days before he had to report to school," Monk says.
Money was another issue; Patel and Monk still had to figure out a way to cover the rest of the tuition. In the end, the pair used what would have been their own salary to pay Gidori's school fees.
By fall, Gidori had left a world where textbooks were rare and entered an environment where every student had to have an iPad — and expectations were high.
His limited English meant he had to keep his iPad and notebook nearby, looking up words he didn't know and writing down the definitions. For just one chapter of his summer reading, Lord of the Flies, he had pages of vocabulary.
Gidori learned the hard way that there were no more easy A's. In Tanzania, 81 was a top grade. He got a 79 on a biology test at the academy and was told that wasn't good enough. When Monk told him he needed at least a 90, he insisted he couldn't do it.
"He would say, "I can't read a novel, that's a lot of English, I've never done that before,' " says Monk, "or 'I can't get an A on my biology test.'"
But sure enough, Gidori earned straight A's by the end of the year. When he felt discouraged, he'd think of those who've supported him: "My country, my continent, my family and friends - I don't want to disappoint them. I want to make them proud."
Indeed, persistence is one of Gidori's greatest qualities — to the frustration of his friend, Leah Albert, who has also come from Tanzania to study. She filmed the video for the Kickstarter page and had to redo it 101 times.
"Sometimes he wouldn't smile. One time, his astronaut helmet wouldn't be ok. Other times it was the potato salad or the ball," she says. "You know, he's serious."
Serious about potato salad, too. He was reluctant to say what was in his recipe, but after a little prodding, he gave up one secret ingredient - a special spice made from Tanzanian ginger. If you're as curious as I am about the taste, he's willing to trade his experimental recipe for a bit of support.