A declassified Cold War-era report compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) doesn’t detail the use of “truth serum” on terror suspects or blueprints for an orgasm-inducing mind control weapon, (even though those are both very real things). Rather, the 15-page report, obviously written by typewriter, characterizes everything you never needed to know about the river otter.
The report was unveiled first by The Black Vault, a crowd-funded project specializing in the declassification of government records surrounding the decades-long MKUltra project through Freedom of Information Act requests. Between 1953 through the Cold War, the illegal human experimentation program infamously tested LSD on people without their consent and pushed the boundaries of research into pseudoscience and mind control. (Most recently, newly released documents outlined the testing of remote-controlled dogs, that is, real dogs implanted with electrical stimulation apparatus.)
Why did the government agency target mammals? Well, we’re not totally sure. But it’s not the first time the US government put together seemingly useless reports for who-knows-why.
First reported by Newsweek, the publication points out that the report reads like a child’s report on their favorite animal. We checked: it does.
The land otter, which encompasses a number of species, is not to be confused with its larger cousin, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris). Found “all over the world and in various forms,” these fish-loving fiends grow as “large as small seals.” The report mainly refers to the North American river otter, which was classified as Lutra canadensis when the report was written. However, today it is known as Lontra canadensis.
Okay, so to be fair river otters are pretty badass creatures. As the report reads, their territory typically ranges over 80 kilometers (50 miles) and they “can climb stairs, ladder[s], and other objects easily” with the “ability to slide down inclines with ease,” not to mention they can swim more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) per hour, diving up to 18 meters (60 feet) and being able to stay submerged for up to six minutes. Plus, they float on their backs.
“Lutra, the otter, is a compact, powerful, intelligent animal capable of negotiating land, water, and obstacles with great facility” and capable of surviving in “hostile environments such as under ice, in hot water, in raging seas, and even in urban environments,” reads the the aptly named “A Dossier on Lutra (The Otter).” Sure sounds like a criminal of wartime efforts.
Found within the report’s 15 pages are tenderly written pointers on how to bottle-feed baby otters with “the same formula used for human babies.” For those taking care of an adult otter, a subtle reminder is written to never take away its food – “particularly that which he has just caught, or suffer severe mauling.”
Then again, you could just cozy up with one of the 11-kilogram (25-pound) critters by tickling them around the ribs (“it’s a good way to distract stubborn ones”).
Never does the report cite a specific intended use for the semi-aquatic mammal, but it may have been used to provide background information priming the CIA for projects that might involve captive otters, noting the “basic cost of animal ($75 to $250) as is maintenance.” They are also notably clever, having developed the abilities to “open zipper, climb ladder, chew through zinc sheet, turn on tap water, carry stones and marbles,” among other exciting and government-worthy traits.
Please imagine all awards to be presented by Hollywoo's own Mr. Peanutbutter.
Image: bob al-greene / mashable
Beware of spoilers: minor, animal-centric plot points are sprinkled throughout this article.
Right up there with quality lighting, charming animal actors are a top-tier cinematic staple.
From Judy Garland’s Toto to Melanie Griffith’s IRL pet lion, Hollywood has been historically fascinated by the furry friends who make our human stories come to life. 2018 continued that industry tradition with an array of talented performers who made audiences laugh, cry, and occasionally meow during dozens of this year’s best films and shows.
Riverdale‘s goodest boy debate may rage on (#TeamVegas all the way), but you’ve got to hand it to Jughead Jones’ pal Hot Dog. That pup went through a lot for the Southside Serpents this year.
Season 3 of Riverdale saw the kidnapping of Hot Dog by rival gang, The Ghoulies (gasp!) Episode 1 captured the harrowing journey surrounding his rescue with Hot Dog naturally featured quite heavily. Unfortunately, co-star Cole Sprouse may prevent Hot Dog from returning to Riverdale‘s spotlight.
“We got this dog and this dog was the worst actor I have ever worked with,” Sprouse said in an interview with Seth Meyers. “It barks the whole time, it didn’t hit its mark, it broke fourth wall consistently, it was just no good.”
Poor, sweet, maligned Hot Dog. Your fans will not forget you.
Most award-winning moment: Chained to a stake on The Ghoulies’ lawn, Hot Dog channeled a deep-seeded, pain-fueled need for belly rubs only previously attempted on-screen by Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe. Breathtaking.
2018’s Freddie Mercury biopic wasn’t good for much, but it did resurface a fun, feline fact about the late rock icon. This dude loved cats. Really, really loved cats.
To wit: the song “Delilah”—off of Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo—is about Mercury’s tabby of the same name. If singing about your cat’s pee on a global stage (yup) doesn’t say love, then I don’t know what love is.
Most award-winning moment: Not swatting at Rami Malek’s mustache during every take. It is a temptation only consummate professionals can withstand.
8. Kelly the Yorkie in The Meg
Kelly the Yorkie portrays Pippin the Dog in The Meg, a creature whose surprising survival has spurred an onslaught of debate and theory from viewers.
More than just a pretty face, Kelly channels Pippin with a surprising level of gravitas. The reunion with her owners towards the end of the film is a spectacularly layered and nuanced take on the craft of acting. Only a cold-blooded, prehistoric killing machine (trapped deep in the Marianas trench by a thermocline cloud of hydrogen sulfide) could escape those tear-jerking moments unmoved.
Most award-winning moment: Yes, you guessed correctly. Kelly the Yorkie did in fact perform all of her own stunts. Brava, madame!
7. Uncredited pelican in Homecoming
Put simply, what a bird.
If you witnessed the barrage of Homecoming advertisements plastered all over the place, both IRL and online, this autumn, then you are already familiar with this avian artist. (His stunningly handsome visage was heavily featured for many of the series’ promotional materials.)
Performing alongside Academy Award winner Julia Roberts in her small-screen debut, this uncredited pelican wasn’t awarded much screen time, but he did steal a number of critical scenes in the mysterious, tense drama.
Most award-winning moment: Making the most of his one line, our feathered friend repeatedly delivered his loud squawk with a range rivaling Seinfeld’s infamous “These pretzels are makin’ me thirsty.” A remarkable, revolutionary feat.
6. That one kitten in The Haunting of Hill House
Such heavy work from an actor so very young.
This uncredited little kitten is just beginning to gain industry attention, but his iconic and nightmare-inducing performance in that cockroach scene from The Haunting of Hill House carries the knowing severity of an artist twice his age.
Most award-winning moment: Every scene with this kitten is so enormously disturbing,this reporter still cannot tell how much of it was CGI. Fingers crossed for… all of it? Please?
5. Bradley Cooper’s dog Charlie in A Star is Born
Indeed, a star was born.
The cinematic masterpiece that is A Star is Born took theaters by storm this past year—and will likely raise the same enthusiasm at the 91st Academy Awards in February 2019. Unfortunately, most of the movie’s well-deserved acting praise will go to its human stars, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Most award-winning moment: If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what moment this is. If you haven’t seen the movie, see the movie. Charlie’s work must speak for itself.
4. Zeus the Husky from Dogs
Okay, so this dog isn’t technically an actor, but his prominence in the 2018 entertainment landscape cannot go unrecognized.
Zeus the Husky was one of Netflix’s many canine subjects for the docuseries Dogs. While each of the six episodes was touching, Zeus and his owner Ayham’s battle to reconnect over international borders in Episode 2 was uniquely impactful.
Highlighting the humanitarian crisis resulting from long-standing conflict in Syria, “Bravo, Zeus” is as important as it is heartwarming. Naturally, Zeus excels as the story’s star.
Most award-winning moment: Nothing beats a dog video chatting with his owner. Absolutely nothing.
3. Salem the cat from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Revitalizing a role previously held by the voice of Norbert from Angry Beavers, Salem the cat shined throughout Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The highly-anticipated Netflix series required the feline artist lounge composedly, run after stuff, and you know transform into a demon. Clearly: the part of a lifetime.
But it wasn’t all kibble and yarn on-set. In an interview with Seth Meyers, Sabrina star Kiernan Shipka revealed that while filming she discovered her previously unknown cat allergy, a major obstacle for the two entertainers’ working relationship. (Although we continue to seek comment from his representation, we do not yet have word on how Salem took the news.)
Most award-winning moment: Salem’s most dazzling Season 1 performance occurred off-screen at the series’ world-premiere event in Hollywood. Alongside his Sabrina co-stars, Salem pranced down the red carpet, occasionally stopping to pose for photos. Of course, he wore black.
2. Towne the cat from Can You Ever Forgive Me?
It is a rare cat that can get the highly-praised Melissa McCarthy to claim she was “out-acted.”
Towne portrays the real-life pet of author and forger Lee Israel, named Jersey, in Can You Ever Forgive Me? The dramatic biopic of Lee’s life required a well-trained companion join McCarthy in a number of scenes. Towne subsequently delivered in spades.
Director Marielle Heller went so far as to describe Towne as “the Marlon Brando of cats.” A higher endorsement simply cannot be conceived.
Most award-winning moment: Once you have observed the bond between Towne and McCarthy, it’s difficult to pick just one of their encounters as a favorite. However, in the context of the film’s events, their last exchange is uniquely moving.
And the Milk-Bone goes to…
1. Olivia the Westie from Widows, Game Night, and Insatiable
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: no one had a better year than Olivia the dog.
Appearing alongside industry icons like Viola Davis and Jason Bateman, Olivia cleaned up on the pooch castings for 2018—and then exceeded expectations on every front.
For her ensemble piece: a small, but poignant role in Netflix’s Insatiable. Showing off her comedic chops: a hilarious (and gory) character study for Warner Bros’ Game Night. Finally, making her dramatic debut: a gripping, harrowing, and starring role in Steve McQueen’s Widows.
Creating a body of work worth barking about, Olivia used 2018 to answer an age old question. Finally, heading into the new year, we know who is a good dog.
Most award-winning moment: The stand-off between Olivia and Atlanta‘s Brian Tyree Henry in Widows is startlingly upsetting. Thank goodness they made up.
Honorable mentions: Paddington and Pooh
IRL animals will always trump animated ones, but you’ve got to admit—this was one great year for fictional bears.
Paddington 2 hit theaters in early January, giving audiences a compassionate lesson on empathy and understanding. Christopher Robin brought Winnie the Pooh back to the big screen in August, reiterating just how immensely adorable this little no-pants bear can be.
Let’s hope for some more unbearably delightful performances in the new year… perhaps with a few of these real-life bears looking for a break centerstage.
A business that was destroyed by the Camp Fire continues to smolder on November 9, 2018 in Paradise, California.
Image: justin sullivan / Getty Images
When Andrea Gaylord was forced to evacuate the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California in November, she couldn’t get back home to take her dog Madison with her to safety as the fires spread.
The evacuation order was lifted nearly a month after it was instated in Paradise, California, and Gaylord was beside herself to see Madison waiting for her as she pulled up to her burned down property, Gaylord told the ABC 10 news.
Madison miraculously survived the Camp Fire that tore through Northern California throughout November, killing 85 people, displacing thousands, and leaving many, including Gaylord, homeless.
The animal rescue group K9 Paw Print Rescue tried to find Madison, an Anatolian shepherd mix, but were unsuccessful for weeks, only able to glimpse him from a distance a couple of times, according to a Facebook comment posted by rescuer Shayla Sullivan. Although they couldn’t get a hold of Madison, K9 Paw Print Rescue did manage to find Madison’s brother Miguel, who had found his way to a nearby city.
Sullivan noted that although she never got close to Madison, she would leave food and water out for the dog, and even put a piece of clothing that smelled like Gaylord on the property for Madison to smell.
Gaylord, of course, was overwhelmed to see Madison waiting there, protecting what was left of their home, and happy to see him reunited with his brother Miguel.
“You could never ask for better animals,” Gaylord told ABC 10.
Easy to use • Made of durable plastic • Bamboo lid tightly secures treats • Launching treats is fun!
Can’t pan or move the camera • Expensive for a dog accessory
The Bottom Line
Although $249 is a lot to spend on a dog toy, we think it’s fun and useful enough to justify. Everyone enjoys launching treats from this device.
Bang for the Buck4.0
We’ve all been there before: You’re about to leave for work, and the family dog follows you to the door, watching through the window as you enter your car and leave. But what if you could keep a watchful eye on your dog the entire day — even from your office?
The Furbo Dog Camera enables just that. The device is roughly the size of a small flower vase, and lets you livestream audio and video directly from your home to anywhere in the world with an internet connection (and, of course, the right password).
It’s not cheap at $249.99, but it does come with the added bonus of letting you launch dog treats to your pup remotely. So, in short, you can keep tabs on your pooch and also reward them for good behavior from anywhere in the world. Pretty neat, right?
But is it enough to justify its hefty price tag? My family and I spent the last two weeks testing the Furbo Dog Camera thoroughly to see whether it was worth it. Here’s what we found:
Everyone, meet Georgia, my family’s toy poodle that lives in New Jersey. She’s a very good dog, and she’s been getting a firsthand account of how the Furbo works along with all of her owners: me, my mom, my dad, and my brother.
We’ve been using the Furbo Dog Camera to check on Georgia throughout the day for about two weeks, and when any of us are feeling inspired, we shoot treats to her from the machine.
I’ll admit: I typically send her the most treats because, first of all, it’s really fun, and secondly, she’s a very good dog (as I mentioned) and deserves the absolute best. I’ve been sending her about four treats per day, and I’m pretty sure she has no idea it’s me behind the launcher, but she certainly seems to enjoy the snacks.
A dog-friendly design
The Furbo Dog Camera blends into almost any room. It’s about 9-inches tall and has a modern, sleek, hourglass shape — with a wide base at the bottom and a tiny pinch in the middle.
You’ll notice there’s a large bamboo lid at the top of the device, and that’s to cover up the small reservoir where the treats are stored. The plastic material that covers most of the machine is extremely durable — even if you have a skittish dog that attacks foreign objects.
When we first introduced the Furbo to our dog Georgia, she quickly began pawing at the machine and scratching it. We were immediately surprised by the durability of the machine when it fell, and by how well the bamboo cap stayed attached.
Still, we know there are lots of crafty dogs out there, so if you own a very persistent puppy who loves treats and can sniff them out easily — you might want to consider how they would react to what is essentially a robotic cookie jar. If you’re confident that your dog wouldn’t gnaw on the lid for hours, you’re probably safe.
Setup is incredibly easy
The Furbo Dog Camera couldn’t be much easier to setup. It’s practically plug-and-play. Once you plug in the device, you’ll need to use the companion app to get it connected to your WiFi.
The setup process takes about 15 minutes total. I had to restart the app a couple of times to get it connecting properly, but shortly thereafter it was working just fine. It’s comparable to any other smart home device that uses an app to function. The app will walk you through every step of the process.
Once the device is connected to the internet, the last thing you need to do is load the treat reservoir with tiny dog treats. Furbo recommends using round circular ones, and warns owners that other shapes can sometimes send out more than one. My family used Charlee Bear dog treats from Trader Joes, which worked really well. Furbo recommends using Nutro Mini Bites among others.
After the treats are loaded into the machine, and it’s connected to the internet — that’s it! You’ll see live streaming video on the app’s home screen, and you can begin launching treats at your puppy.
Some dogs may love the Furbo right away, but Georgia was not one of those dogs. She’s a little skittish at times, and was very skeptical of the Furbo when it first arrived.
I spent about an hour sitting with Georgia and getting her familiar with the device. This included launching treats from it, and getting her used to some of the small (but audible) noises it makes.
The device plays a sound every time it launches a treat, and one of the cooler things is that you can customize the sound. So, if you have a phrase that you always say to your dog, you can make the Furbo say that. Pretty cool!
Testing this product was ultimately a lot of fun, and something I really enjoyed messing around with. Most of that is because of the iOS and Android apps are so well-built. They’re extremely intuitive, and easy to use. My parents even commented on how fun it was to check on Georgia during the work day.
The companion app is super basic, and that works to the benefit of the user. When you first launch it, you’ll be asked to add details about your dog like name, birthday, breed, and gender and upload a photo. You’re not required to add any of this information, but it makes the app slightly to look at every time you launch it.
From that point on, every time you open the app, you’ll see a live video feed into your home. The viewing screen is incredibly clear and minimalistic. A camera and video button on the left-hand side allow you too easily snap a shot or quick video that saves to your phone.
There is also a microphone button on the right side of the display that lets you talk to your dog in real-time with the speaker embedded on the device. Of course, being able to launch treats is the best part of using the app, and you do that by simply moving your finger across the screen with an upwards swipe.
For more dedicated users, there is Furbo Dog Nanny or a premium subscription service the company is piloting. The service detects things like when your dog is barking, when people enter the room, or when there’s other unusual activity happening in front of the camera.
Never worry again
Listen, I know $249 is a lot on paper, but the Furbo Dog Camera is totally worth it. Throughout my two-week testing period, I’ve been able to check in on our family dog Georgia while I’m out on the town or at work. Same goes for my mom, dad, and brother. The app can handle multiple logins at once, and it’s extremely easy to use. It helps that it only has a couple of core functions.
I’ll admit, it took some time for our dog Georgia to get used to the treat launcher, and the light mechanical noises it makes as it prepares to launch a treat. And she was also a little rattled when we used the intercom feature to talk to her from the device. But over time, she’s become accustomed to the device — and seems to understand when the treat mechanism has been activated.
So even with the short learning curve taken into consideration, the Furbo Dog Camera is a great addition to any pet-owner’s home.
(CNN)Still planning your vacation for 2019? Borrow some ideas from CNN Travel editors, who run down their best trips of 2018.Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. President Trump
When the President’s Twitter feed fell silent Wednesday, he wasn’t taking a sudden social media sabbatical — he was on his way to Iraq. The commander in chief, along with the first lady, surprised US troops with a holiday visit, his first to a war zone. After making the secret overnight flight from Washington and touching down onto a pitch-black airstrip (because of security concerns), Trump stayed on the ground for three hours. He took endless selfies with enthusiastic servicemen and women in a dining hall. Later, during a speech at an air base near Baghdad, he reinforced his skeptical view of wading into foreign conflicts and defended his decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. The Trumps landed back in Washington early this morning.
Trump reveals safety concerns for Iraq trip
2. Financial markets
Consider it a post-Christmas miracle. After suffering its worst Christmas Eve session ever, the Dow roared back Wednesday with its biggest daily point gain in history. The Dow rose 1,086 points — a 5% gain. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up big, too. It was the biggest percentage gain for all three indices in almost a decade. Keep in mind though, thin trading and a lack of big news often send stocks higher in the last week of the year. Will this miraculous rally keep going today? That’s anybody’s guess in this current environment. But Asian stocks are up this morning, so there’s that.
Stocks stabilize after Christmas Eve drop
A nuclear missile that’s impossible to stop? Russian President Vladimir Putin claims his country has just that. Putin says Russia’s new hypersonic missile system is “invulnerable” to US defenses and will be put into service next year. The missile system underwent a test Wednesday at an air base in southwest Russia. The missile, called the Avangard, has intercontinental range and can reportedly fly as fast as 15,000 mph. The Russians also claim it can adjust both altitude and direction and fly low enough to avoid most missile defense systems. A US official told CNN earlier this year that the weapons system is not close to being operational, and analysts caution that Russian boasts of new military capabilities are often overblown.
Putin teases hypersonic nuclear missiles
The alert level for the volcano that triggered last weekend’s deadly tsunami in Indonesia has been raised. That’s prompted the evacuation of thousands of people and caused flights to be rerouted. Indonesian officials raised the warning for the Anak Krakatau volcano to 3, which is the second-highest level. Activity and eruptions continue at the volcano, which had seemed to be calming down following Saturday’s eruption, which caused the wave that swept through parts of the country, killing more than 430 people.
Tsunami death toll continues to rise
5. Australia heatwave
It’s been a hot time Down Under this week. A brutal heat wave is punishing parts of Australia, with the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all hitting above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for four days in a row. Temperatures are averaging about 24 degrees F higher than average for this time of year. Now extreme and severe fire warnings are being issued. CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller says part of the problem is that El Niño conditions appear to be forming over the Pacific Ocean and affecting the country’s weather. January is typically the hottest month of Australia’s summer, and many fear the early heatwave may be the prelude to even more extreme weather in early 2019.
“Whatever it takes. I mean, we’re gonna have a wall.”
President Donald Trump, reiterating that the partial government shutdown shouldn’t end until he gets funding for a wall on the border with Mexico. Lawmakers are back in Washington today, but talks to end the shutdown are at a standstill.
When it comes to dog ownership, is ignorance bliss?
That impressive vocal ability was just part of what I learned about my newly adopted pup, Nymeria (aka “Meerie”), as I watched her, pacing and barking non-stop, from a dog nanny cam live feed on my phone, while I sat in my office, miles away.
I was heartbroken.
I thought she was adjusting, doing fine! But a livestreamed feed showed me that her adorable affection while I was around translated to separation anxiety when I wasn’t. On the live feed, I had to watch her clearly suffering, or at best bored, and there was not much I could do about it.
Meerie is a 4-year-old medium-sized mutt who I adopted the weekend before Thanksgiving. She came to me from a dog rescue, after she was surrendered by previous owners to a shelter (SOB).
She was instantly loving and cuddly and fun, but I was a bit nervous about how she was doing on her own when I went to work. She wasn’t acting out or anything, but I still wanted some assurances that my new pooch was happy.
So one week after adopting Meerie, I ordered a Furbo dog camera so I could keep tabs on her whenever when I was in the office, or even just out to dinner, ya know, having a life.
Furbo is a dog camera that looks more like a white minimalist vase. Its camera captures a fishbowl view of whatever room it’s in, it has a speaker, and it shoots treats housed inside the Furbo out to your pooch. Through the intuitive Furbo app, I can livestream a video (with sound!) of my living room, as well as talk to my dog by speaking into my phone, and I can launch snacks by pressing a treat-shaped button.
You can also get alerts when your dog barks, or pay extra for a “virtual dog nanny” that helps keep tabs on them, and prepares a video of clips from your dog’s day. Ordinarily, it’s pricey — it usually goes for $249. But I made it my one Black Friday purchase while it was on sale for $114.
Cameras that keep track of your baby or animal are nothing new. But pet-specific cameras are enjoying something of a boom: according to Wired, the pet-cam industry is expected to grow 26 percent through 2021. And according to Geekwire, sales of Furbo in particular skyrocketed by 20X in the 36 hours after Ellen DeGeneres included it in her 12 Days of Giveaways holiday special.
After purchasing one, I quickly learned that, as a dog parent, ignorance might have been bliss.
Where I thought my new dog was adjusting to her life with me just fine, she was actually spending a good chunk of the day wracked with anxiety. I could toss her a treat through Furbo, but she was too anxious to eat it. I spoke through the Furbo, but that just confused her, and made her sit by the door, expecting me to come through it.
It occurred to me that the Furbo was, perhaps, overkill. Knowing that she was miserable wouldn’t shorten the time it would take for her to adjust. But I also wondered, was not knowing how my pet was really doing irresponsible?
After seeing how Meerie was coping with alone time, I left her challenging toys full of treats for her to play with; they went ignored. I expanded the amount of the house she could go into, since she hated getting put in a back room; that just gave her a larger pacing area. I closed the blinds so the goings-on outside wouldn’t stress her out; no effect. I played NPR for her; no change.
The only thing that made her calmer and quieter while alone? The passage of time, as she learns, slowly, that I will always come home.
Furbo turned me, in part, into a helicopter mom, worrying and searching for increasingly ridiculous ways to soothe my pup, responding to a situation that’s perhaps out of my control. But it’s also maybe turned me into a better dog mom, more in tune with the internal life of my previously shelter-bound pet as she settles into a life that’s entirely new. I know how much it means to her when I come. I know that skipping the gym in favor of getting home an hour earlier is an annoyance for me, but means a lot to her.
To me, this sort of fretting and attention — about whether and how to soothe her, and the meta-question, of whether I should care about soothing her at all — still feels silly, at least in part. She’s a dog, right? She literally eats her own poop sometimes. She’ll be fine, whether I’m watching her or not. She’ll still lick me and jump and play and nap, whether I’m reflecting on my technological dog parenting choices, or merely capitalizing on a good Amazon deal.
But testing out parenthood on my licky, furry little beast has also inspired me to wonder about, and test drive, what kind of parent I really want to be.
I fear eventually becoming a helicopter parent, the accusatory term levied on my parents’ generation and my own, because it reportedly produced us grit-less millennials. And because being too anxious about your kid or pet kinda makes it seem like you have no life of your own.
But today, there are more mommy blogs and baby trackers than ever before. And if I don’t use these high-tech tools on my hypothetical future human child, is that the negligent digital equivalent of just letting them play in the dirt?
As with most reasonable conclusions, my best guess is that my parental attitude, and how that translates to my use of technology to monitor my child (furry for now), lies in the middle of the two extremes. Since I can’t always be with my pooch, I like the ability to know how my dog is doing — when I want to — and make relatively easy changes to my own behavior in response. But I’ve turned off the barking notifications, and won’t be paying for any of Furbo’s supplemental services. In other words, I’ll use technology, but won’t obsess over it, or let it take over my life.
That’s the decision I’ve made for Meerie and me. But I recognize that all of these challenges and micro-decisions get ratcheted way, way up when faced with a real, human baby. There are endless debates on parenting blogs about whether to nanny cam, or not to nanny cam. Whether to do data entry, or respond to your child’s needs the old fashioned way. Whether to give your kid an iPad, and if so, how much screen time is allowed? The number of questions about the intersection of tech and childrearing is already dizzying, and right now, I’m just standing on the sidelines. Frankly, facing down these questions makes me terrified to have kids in the digital age at all.
But perhaps, becoming familiar with my “parenting” attitude ahead of time can help guide me as the questions and stakes become bigger in the future. I don’t think I’m capable of a totally laissez-faire approach, at least when it comes to Meerie. But I would like to trust that her growth and confidence will come, naturally. Seeing that process in real time through the Furbo app — as Meerie spends less time barking, starts going after her treats, and even sits down on the couch sometimes — is reassuring me that things are, and will continue to go fine — whether I’m watching or not.
At this point, I want a front seat to Meerie settling into her new home. So, despite the helicopter worrying, I’ll still be logging onto Furbo. Sometimes.
(CNN)If you’re no good at New Year’s resolutionsbut still want to make some changes in your life, consider making 12 “micro resolutions” instead. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Mueller investigation
We now know a little bit more about the events that led up to the criminal case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is set to be sentenced today for lying to FBI investigators. Special counsel Robert Mueller released a memo Monday from January 2017 detailing the FBI’s interview with Flynn that month. That was the interview, the one during which Flynn was accused of lying to the FBI and later charged over it. Whether the FBI decided Flynn was lying at that moment has become a touch point in President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the Mueller investigation. Trump says the FBI pursued charges that weren’t in line with the bureau’s findings that day, and that the FBI didn’t think Flynn was lying at the time. However, other memos from Mueller indicate FBI investigators knew details of some of the things Flynn was talking about before they asked him — and knew when he wasn’t telling the truth.
Why Mueller cares about Michael Flynn
Two emotional stories are playing out that put the immigration debate in stark human terms. The family of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died while in US custody after being detained at the border is asking for an investigation into her death. Jakelin Caal Maquin died December 8, two days after her father alerted border agents she was sick and vomiting. While the father has said he was “grateful” for the efforts of first responders who tried to save his daughter’s life, his attorneys also said he wanted answers. The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office is now investigating the death. Meanwhile, the mother of a 2-year-old boy on life support is fighting to gain entry into the United States to see him. The mother is a Yemeni national living in Egypt and reportedly cannot enter the country because of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The boy’s father is attempting to get his wife an “expedited humanitarian visa” so she can be with her son, who has a genetic brain condition.
Family of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin speaks out
The Transportation Security Administration is saying it has dialed back a controversial Big Brother-esque passenger monitoring program called “Quiet Skies.” The program monitors American travelers who are not on any terror watch lists or suspected of terrorism or criminal behavior — so basically anyone. According to The Boston Globe, the program allows armed undercover air marshals to monitor “whether travelers use a phone, go to the bathroom, chat with others, or change clothes” during their time at the airport. The marshals can then report their observations to intelligence agencies. In response to the investigation, the TSA told CNN the program “has evolved,” specifically the way the information is reported and how passengers of interest are tracked.
Inside the TSA’s ‘Quiet Skies’ program
4. Brazilian healer
A famous Brazilian healer is in jail after more than 300 women accused him of sexual abuse. According to the Department of Public Ministry in the Brazilian state of Goiás, the women had contacted João Teixeira de Faria for spiritual healing, and the accusers are from various countries around the world. Teixeira turned himself in to authorities Sunday, but his attorneys say he is innocent. Teixeira, who is not a trained doctor, says he calls on the spirits of dead doctors while performing so-called spiritual surgeries and treatments, sometimes using medical instruments to cut his patients without anesthesia. He gained international fame in 2013 after an interview with Oprah Winfrey (who has since removed the interview from her site and released a statement about the situation).
5. Les Moonves
Ousted CBS chief executive Les Moonves has lost the rights to a $120 million severance package after the company’s board of directors determined it had “ample reason” to fire him. Moonves was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in a pair of New Yorker stories over the summer. Moonves was booted from his position the same day the second story came out, which seemed like a natural conclusion for many. His six-figure parting gift, however, did not. Under the terms of his employment contract, Moonves was eligible to receive as much as $140 million upon his exit — $120 million of that was tied up as the CBS board awaited the findings of an investigation into Moonves’ conduct. The board got the report, which cited several examples of “sexual misconduct” — and now Moonves will not get the money. Moonves acknowledged making mistakes in his past but said he never abused his power. He has denied having any nonconsensual sexual encounters.
Ex-CBS chief will not get $120 million severance
“In an ordinary universe, would both of these people’s past activities disqualify them for serving for office? Yes. But that’s not the world we live in today. The world we live in today, it’s either him or her, and for me that’s still an easy choice.”
The number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cordoba, Spain. It’s the first city in the world to have that many, surpassing even Rome and Paris. UNESCO says such sites must be “of universal outstanding value” and meet one of 10 criteria such as being representative of a living or extinct cultural tradition or civilization.
AND FINALLY …
Wait, where’d the treat go, Santa?!
A shelter got someone to do some holiday magic tricks to show the cute little personalities of all their adoptable dogs. But remember, before you go out and scoop up the whole lot of them for Christmas, pets are not gifts! They’re forever friends who deserve all of your love year-round. (Click here to view.)
(CNN)With the festive season upon us, people are brainstorming for the perfect gift. The comfort and joy of a pet may seem like a great option, but global animal shelters and animal welfare organizations discourage giving animals.
No matter how much children may beg, Fraaß said, “do not gift animals!”
Taking in a pet is a permanent commitment, shelter administrators advise, and shouldn’t be done as a rash decision or as a surprise for someone.
Several countries have stopped animal adoptions during the holidays to discourage careless adoptions that often lead to the animals being returned or abandoned.
The world’s largest animal rights organization,People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, welcomes these moves, as “many people make rash decisions, especially during the festive period, to gift animals,” spokeswoman Jana Hoger said.
Over the past decade, Germany’s large city-based animal rescues have seen a 40% jump in returns of dogs and a 50% increase in the returns of cats in January, compared with other months, Hoger said — an “exceptionally big amount.”
Adopting a pet requires a lot of consideration. There are many costs associated with raising an animal, such as food and medical appointments, according to Fraaß. Costs can also exceed expectations if the pet gets sick and requires surgery, Hoger added.
Pets require a lot of attention and care. Children can lose interest fast, and the deal over who will walk the dog or clean the cat’s litter box can easily become a point ofcontention, Fraaß said.
How much space the animal needs and the right environment are also important considerations, according to Hoger.
Adopting a pet will “completely change your lifestyle,” explained Steve Craddock, manager for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London. If someone is giving an animal “as a gift, it is likely they won’t have taken into consideration all those aspects, particularly not if it’s a surprise gift.”
Germany’s second-largest animal rescue, the Hanover animal shelter, hasinstituted a temporary stop of animal adoptions over the Christmas period for several years. This year, animal lovers can’t adopt a companion between December 20 and 26. Instead, the shelter offers gift vouchers for an animal as an alternative Christmas present.
Other large organizations have similar policies. Gaby Schwab, spokeswoman for the Bremen animal shelter, wrote in an email that “it is common for many animal shelters to not grant adoptions several days before Christmas.”
The Bremen animal home has been applying a temporary adoption stop for nearly 20 years. It has been a positive, Schwab said, with fewer animals being abandoned after the holidays.
Another reason the animal organization discourages adoptions over Christmas “is the stress during this festive period. Many families have guests, but the animals should settle into their new home in peace,” she said.
The Berlin animal shelter is home to roughly 1,400 animals. It is also one of Europe’s largest shelters, spokeswoman Beate Kaminski wrote in an email. Here, people have to wait until December 27 to adopt animals. The temporary stop is “our way of working towards as few people as possible spontaneously using animals as Christmas presents,” Kaminski said.
But adoption restrictions do not solve the problem. The purchase of animals over the internet is often very cheap and from unknown or unethical sources. “Here in Germany, this is a massive problem,” Hoger said.
Roughly 300,000 animals end up in animal shelters across Germany yearly, Hoger said. After the holidays, there is also a “second wave of returns” shortly before summer break. After the initial euphoria of having a pet wears off and it is time for summer vacation, many people don’t know what to do with their animal, and this leads to more returns, she said.
(CNN)The Georgia Bulldogs took on the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl Tuesday night in New Orleans, and the clash wasn’t just on the gridiron.
It was supposed to be a simple photo op, but nobody told Bevo, who promptly charged at Uga (and almost took out a few humans in the process).
So, just why do college football teams have live animals mascots anyway?
The answer is actually pretty simple, Michael Lewis, a marketing professor at Emory University in Atlanta, told CNN.
“Human beings love animals,” said Lewis, who runs a podcast on sports analytics research. “They’re so much more compelling than a guy in a suit. The live animal mascots have some real advantages. I think of them as like a focal point for the fan community to get behind.”
It all started with a dog
On any given Saturday afternoon, you’ll find all manner of beast roaming the sidelines at games: Rameses the ram at North Carolina, Bill the goat at Navy, Traveler the horse at USC, the War Eagle at Auburn, Mike the tiger at LSU, Ralphie the buffalo at Colorado, Joy and Lady, the bears at Baylor.
But it’s believed the first live animal college mascot was Yale’s Handsome Dan bulldog. A student from England named Andrew Graves brought the first Handsome Dan to football and baseball games in 1889, according to the Yale News. There’s been a continuous line of them ever since. An Olde English Bulldogge named Walter now represents Yale as Handsome Dan XVIII.
Lewis says it’s no surprise that a dog was college football’s first live animal mascot.
“Dogs are part of the family,” he said, so fans have a natural affinity for them.
In the case of Uga, Georgia’s mascot, Lewis said the bulldog’s popularity extends beyond the university. It’s as though the “dog is almost owned by the community.”
It’s not without controversy
But not everyone thinks it’s healthy to use animals this way. Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says there’s not a really good reason to subject live animals to the stress of being a mascot for a school.
“Big cats, bears, and other live-animal mascots don’t belong on college campuses,” PETA says on a blog post on its website entitled “Live-Animal Mascots Score an ‘F.'”
“Even in the best circumstances, subjecting animals to a busy university environment and forcing them into close proximity to crowds of people day in and day out is stressful and cruel.”
There have been injuries
And animals do sometimes get hurt. Aurora the falcon, the mascot for the Air Force’s football team, was injured back in November during a prank before the service academy’s game with Army at West Point.
Aurora suffered an injury to both wings but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the Air Force Times.
Lewis said the use of live animals as mascots is becoming more controversial, as society as a whole becomes more conscious about the rights of animals. But the outrage isn’t evenly applied.
“The dogs seem to be OK because they’re domesticated,” he said.
How the game ended
There’s a little more consternation over the use of livestock animals, like Texas’s Bevo, but Lewis said the real outrage seems to be for the use of predator animals — like tigers and lions — as mascots because many of them are caged on the sidelines and that just doesn’t set right with some.
“That’s a real trigger point for some people,” he said.
The pre-game scuffle between Bevo and Uga, in which the steer took it to the bulldog, seemed to be a preview of the game, which Texas won 28-21. Heck, the animal clash may have been the most entertaining thing anyone saw in a college football stadium that day.
“For some folks that was the highlight of the New Year’s Day bowls,” Lewis chuckled.