Posts tagged with "The Guardian"

‘It’s a tragic loss’: New Yorkers mourn Flaco, the owl the city took to its heart

February 29, 2024

“He had an adventurous spirit of curiosity about what lay beyond,” said Jacqueline Emery of New York City’s Upper West Side, remembering Flaco with tears in her voice, reports The Guardian.

In his short year of freedom after he escaped from the Central Park Zoo through a hole in the netting of his habitat, the non-native Eurasian eagle owl with piercing orange eyes captivated many New Yorkers—and fans far and wide.

Flaco’s sudden death on Friday, February 23, garnered an outpouring of love and stories of how he brought people closer—creating a special connection with nature in the frenetic concrete jungle.

Over the weekend, fans came together in Manhattan’s famous oasis, Central Park, to remember his legacy at a makeshift memorial around the now-beloved oak tree where he often rested and hunted from. At any time, upwards of 50 people arrived to drop off flowers, cards and printed photos of Flaco.

“It’s a tragic loss,” said David Barrett, who runs a popular social media account, Manhattan Bird Alert. Having spent many hours photographing Flaco, Barrett had come to know the owl as a subject and a companion. To him, Flaco’s hoots were among his favorite characteristics.

“[His hoots] were his way of indicating his territory and possibly connecting with a mate,” said Barrett. “But I think to humans, Flaco’s hoots were comforting. They were melodious and beautiful to hear.”

Flaco managed to thrive in the urban landscape—and freezing winter and scorching summer temperatures—of New York City; perfecting flight and catching rats, having spent his first 12 years in captivity.

He would perch on a branch watching joggers and cyclists in Central Park. After leaving the park in recent weeks he was seen atop residential air conditioning units, even peeking at New Yorkers through their windows, or hunting from the city’s characteristic rooftop water towers.

After escaping from the Central Park zoo last February when a vandal cut open his small enclosure; officials initially attempted to recapture Flaco, but gave up as he showed he was learning to hunt for himself.

“I was lucky enough to see him figure things out,” said David Lei, a wildlife photographer specializing in urban owls. Lei was one of the first to spot Flaco post-escape and capture his image as he made an incongruous sight on a busy Upper East Side street, then began adapting to his new environment.

“Just to see him soar from one 20-story building to the next really spoke to me about how far he’d come since he was an owl on the sidewalk of Fifth Avenue,” Lei said.

Flaco played a formative role in Lei’s budding relationship with fellow birder Emery. The pair spent a lot of date nights looking for Flaco.

“When Flaco was down on the Lower East Side, David would pick me up at 10.30 at night, and it was just funny to be heading out owling,” Emery recalled.

Apart from his majestic size and demeanor, Flaco’s inquisitiveness was endearing to many, including Emery. “For me, Flaco’s curiosity was what stood out the most,” Emery said. “Seeing him as an individual, with all of his personality quirks.”

In 2019, the city passed a bill requiring builders to use bird-safe materials in all new construction. In 2021, the city adopted a law that during peak migration months between April and mid-May, city-owned buildings turn their lights off at night—ensuring a safer passage for the many thousands of songbirds, shorebirds and birds of prey that whizz through.

Last May, a New York council member, Francisco Moya, introduced a bill that would expand that rule to commercial buildings. And legislation requiring use of more bird-friendly material in government-owned buildings across the state is advancing in Albany. This week that bill was renamed the Flaco Act—“Feathered Lives Also Count”.

Collisions with windows in particular in New York are all too common,” said Andrew Farnsworth, a researcher at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. In its preliminary report, the Central Park Zoo revealed that Flaco had died of acute traumatic injury, and further tests to determine whether he was exposed to toxins or infectious diseases are pending.

“I would be surprised if the toxicology report didn’t show some kind of rodenticide or perhaps lead or some other toxin,” Farnsworth said. “That said, it’s hard to say whether that was in part responsible for the collision. He was certainly fending well for himself and did not seem to be exhibiting signs of typical poisoning, like really high levels of rodenticide.”

Flaco’s death came less than a week after that of another, less well-known, raptor. On 19 February, a bald eagle nicknamed Rover died after colliding with a vehicle on the highway that runs up the western edge of Manhattan, probably as he swooped on prey.

“We all got to know Rover over the years, and he’d been something of a reliable figure in the area,” Barrett said.

With two cherished avian celebrities dying within a week of each other, New York birders are left holding on to tender memories. “These birds give us beauty,” Barrett said. “They give us a connection with the wild world. It’s amazing to have that in the middle of the city.”

Research contact: @guardian

Trump’s ‘Achilles’ heel’? Haley’s refusal to drop out infuriates ex-president.

January 31, 2024

it was a moment for Donald Trump to be gracious, magnanimous—perhaps, even presidential. Instead he lashed out at his opponent’s clothes. “When I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy, I said, ‘What’s she doing? We won,’” he said of rival Nikki Haley in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, January 23, reports The Guardian.

Trump had just won the first primary election of 2024 and all but clinched the Republican nomination for U.S. president. Party leaders and campaign surrogates are now eager to banish Haley to irrelevance, move on from the primary, and unify against Democrats. They want Trump to pivot to an almost inevitable rematch with Democrat Joe Biden in November.

Yet the 77-year-old remains consumed with rage over Haley’s unwillingness to quit the race. His petulance offers a reminder of the unhinged behavior that turned off Independent voters in New Hampshire and could prove to be a liability in a head-to-head contest with Biden. It is also at odds with what is an unusually professional and disciplined campaign operation.

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University in Rhode Island, said: “Donald Trump wants the race to be over and we see evidence of why that’s important for the Trump campaign from his speech, which was essentially a train wreck and exhibited all the worst tendencies of Donald Trump. It was an undisciplined Trump and this is what turns off independent voters.”

She added: “This is the Achilles’ heel for the Trump campaign and they know it. The sooner this gets wrapped up then he doesn’t have any more of those impromptu late-night speeches. Their worry is not that they’re not going to win the nomination; their worry is the damage that Trump having to respond to Haley will do in the general election with Independent voters.”

Indeed, according to The Guardian, Trump’s investment of emotion and energy in attacking Haley is wildly out of proportion for the minimal threat that Haley poses. He won the Iowa caucuses in a landslide—she was third—and beat her by double digits in New Hampshire. No other Republican candidate in history who won the first two contests has failed to clinch his party’s nomination. His dominance looks set to render the next five months of primaries irrelevant.

Newt Gingrich, a former House of Representatives speaker and ex-presidential candidate, said: “Trump’s best strategy is to assume he is the nominee and go straight at Biden and ignore Haley: Let her flounder around until

However, Haley’s tenacity has enraged Trump. He has branded her “birdbrain”. He has threatened to blacklist anyone who donates to her campaign. He has railed against her frequently on social media, writing: “Could somebody please explain to Nikki that she lost—and lost really badly. She also lost Iowa, BIG, last week. They were, as certain non-fake media say, ‘CRUSHING DEFEATS.’”

The insults and outbursts are a reminder of why Trump alienated moderate voters in the past. While his win in New Hampshire was historic, it also exposed general election vulnerabilities—showing him to be highly popular with Republicans but highly unpopular with Independents, who were allowed to take part in the Republican primary under the state’s rules.

There has never been such a wide gap between the Republican vote and the Independent vote in a New Hampshire Republican primary. According to CNN’s exit polls, Trump won Republican voters by 74% to 25%,; but Haley won Independents 58% to 39%.

Research contact: @guardian

Online travel agent allows customers to filter out Boeing 737 Max planes

January 25, 2024

A leading online travel agent has added filters to enable users to exclude flights that use Boeing’s troubled 737 Max planes, after a piece of fuselage falling off an Alaska Airlines flight led to a surge of user interest in avoiding the aircraft, reports The Guardian.

Kayak first introduced an aircraft filter in March 2019, to add and exclude specific models of plane, but the company says it saw little use compared with the more prominent filters of the number of stops or airports.

Following the Alaska Airlines incident, it says there was a 15-fold increase in use of the original filter—prompting it to rework the setting, making it more prominent on the search page and adding the ability to distinguish between 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes, since only the latter have been grounded by America’s Federal Aviation Administration.

“Whether you’re searching by cabin class, flight quality, or aircraft type, Kayak’s filters aim to provide travelers with all the information they need to make smart decisions and travel with confidence,” a company spokesperson said.

The surge of interest in the new feature demonstrates the unusual extent to which typical travelers are actively avoiding the 737 Max planes. Such filters are more commonly used by regular travelers with esoteric preferences around particular seat locations on various planes, rather than a broad-brush fear of an entire family of jets.

On Sunday, January 21, the FAA expanded its scrutiny of Boeing jets to another, older model of 737—the 737-900ER, which it says uses a similar door design. “The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning these aircraft to service,” it said.

In response, United Airlines, which has 79 737 Max 9s and a further 136 737-900ERs in its fleet, issued a profit warning. The airline has more of the affected planes than any other; and it forecasts that it will not be able to fly them again until at least February.

Research contact: @guardian

Leopard layers and a load of gold: Say hello to the ‘mob wife’ trend

January 24, 2024

As The Sopranos celebrates its 25th anniversary, a new audience has embraced its style via TikTok. Out are the cutesy “tomato girls” with their full skirts and raffia basket bags. Gone are the gentle linen-clad “coastal grandmothers”.

In their place comes a woman with a whole lot more bada bing, reports The Guardian. Dubbed the “mob wife aesthetic”, the look involves massive fur coats, glossy leather, clashing animal prints, coiffed hair, and stacks of gold jewelry.

To celebrate the big anniversary, HBO has launched an official Sopranos TikTok account featuring condensed 25 second recaps of all 86 episodes. This has led to a whole new generation—many who weren’t even born when the show first aired—discovering it, with many homing in on the female characters’ gaudy style.

On the secondhand shopping platform Depop, searches for leopard print are up 213% and gold hoop earrings up 70%, as Gen Z and Alpha try to emulate Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva.

This week, film director Francis Ford Coppola even got involved. On Instagram, he posted a still of his sister Talia Shire dripping in diamonds as Connie Corleone and Diane Keaton in pearls as Kay in The Godfather with the caption “I hear the ‘mob wife aesthetic’ is making a comeback…”

It’s not just fictional characters that are being referenced. The daughter of the convicted killer and boss of the Gambino crime family John Gotti, Victoria Gotti – who is said to base her flashy clothes and long tousled blonde hair on the Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace—is being hailed as style leader. Images of Renee Graziano, the daughter of Anthony Graziano, the former Bonanno family consigliere whose stars in the reality TV show Mob Wives, also pops up on numerous mood boards.

Last week, Nunzia Giuliano, daughter of the 80s mafia boss Carmine Giuliano, even tapped into the trend by launching a perfume named after her father. Dubbed ‘O Liò’, an abbreviation of his nickname ‘O Lione’, the first batch sold out within days. “By buying this fragrance you are showing respect to my father because you received respect from him,” Giuliano shared in a video to her 15k followers.

How to get the look

  1. The fake fur coat

While real mob wives pass down floor-sweeping furs as family heirlooms, the younger TikTok generation prefer fake. While these are cruelty free, they are made from petroleum-derived fabrics which contain microplastics, so choose a simple version that won’t date. Better still, scour pre-existing fake furs at your local charity shop or online.

  1. The sunglasses

Oversized frames with a flashy designer logo are key here. Sunglasses, Gucci

  1. The jewelry

Channel Carmela Soprano with chunky gold hoops and layers of chain necklaces. But leave the cornicello, a traditional Italian talisman, to the Sicilians. Gold hoops, Astrid & Miyu

The luxe tracksuit

Swap your beige track pants for what insiders call a “Bensonhurst tuxedo.” See Juicy Couture’s embellished versions.

While TikTokers embracing the aesthetic get dressed up to capture content over chequered tablecloths and steaming bowls of vongole at their local trattoria, it’s funerals, weddings and the courtroom where real mob wives flaunt their style. Clare Longrigg, author of Mafia Women, describes it as a “hutzpah” [or “chutzpah,” derived from the Hebrew word, “ huspah”], meaning “audacity.”

“There is so much performance involved in being a mafia wife,” says Longrigg, who points out how clothing is used as a signifier of power. “You can’t show any weakness. It’s brash and it’s bold and it’s all part of keeping up a front.”

Juliet Polcsa, the costume designer for The Sopranos, describes the renewed interest in Carmela Soprano’s style as “flattering but baffling”. To hone Carmela’s look, Polcsa spent time observing shoppers at malls in New Jersey rather than real mob wives. Polcsa describes Carmela as a “nouveau riche suburban housewife.”

“She didn’t have the sophistication of someone wealthy, but she had money. It was 1999 and fashion had a specific theme. Matchy-matchy outfits, jewelery, nails and hair were very important,” she said.

The Italian-American author Sarah Arcuri, who has earned the moniker “Mob Wife Aesthetic CEO” on TikTok thanks to her wardrobe and makeup tutorials, says the glamorous style is something she has grown up with. Based in New Jersey, her family originally hail from Sicily, with Arcuri explaining how her mother and grandmother instilled in her from a young age the importance of looking “put together”.

“It’s flattering that people want to dress like us now. But I think some people are confusing it with a costume. It’s not. A the end of the day “Mob wife aesthetic” is just another word for 80s glam,” she said.

Research contact: @guardian

Why the matchy-matchy Christmas pajama trend is here to stay

December 27, 2023

Most families have an annual Christmas tradition. It could be watching a classic holiday movie, going caroling, or even that yearly heated political debate. But a new custom has entered the festive lexicon: family pajamas. Everyone from grandparents to grandchildren—and even fur babies—is donning the same style of nightwear to create the ultimate family photo for social media, reports The Guardian.

It’s a trend that started in the United States, but homogenous pajama dressing now also has taken off in the UK. Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Hanna Andersson, and Primark all sell family pajama sets. (Some even include matching jackets and bandanas for the family dog.)

M&S was one of the earlier British retailers to adopt the trend— selling its first matching family sets in 2017. “They were an instant hit with customers and we’ve seen the demand grow ever since,” says Sarah Ayling, head of Lingerie and Sleepwear buying. This Christmas, the high street giant has six different designs ranging from traditional tartan prints to tropical jungle foliage. But its “disco Santa” motif is proving most popular—so far more than 500,000 sets have been sold.

Elsewhere, sales are up 40% at Gap, with bestsellers including red- and green-check flannel sets. A spokesperson for the online nightwear shop Cyberjammies describes this year’s sales as “phenomenal”. Its cotton Whistler collection—featuring illustrations of skiers and fir trees—has consistently sold out since it launched in September. Some of Primark’s Grinch-themed sets, meanwhile, are selling for double the retail price on eBay.

Rather than tiger parents dictating what their children wear, the trend is being fueled by gen Alpha and Gen Z. On TikTok, the term Christmas pajamas has almost 70 million views, with tweens and teens forcing older family members to don a pair then lip-sync to Christmas songs or catwalk around the kitchen.

“We like to identify with the people we love,” says Dr Sandra Wheatley, a clinical psychologist. “As a family, you are one unit, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Wearing matching pajamas is akin to putting on a family uniform. It connects everyone.” It can also, she says, “level the playing field” for “blended” families: “It’s a way of saying we are all equal.”

The coordinated pajama trend dates back to 1950s America, when shopping catalogs ran images portraying nuclear families in “mini-me” matching sleepwear.

In the modern day, it is celebrities who have catalysed the trend. The Kardashian-Jenners favor plaid styles (though Kim dressed her kids in all-red snowflakes this year), Diana Ross and her clan like candy-cane stripes, while the Beckhams’ annual embossed silky sets are said to be from Olivia von Halle, a luxury London-based pajama-maker whose prices start from £320 (US$406).

If you would like to try it out, but don’t think your family will go for all-out matching pajamas, why not go for nightwear in similar colors? “It makes it a bit cooler,” says Tom Pyne of the UK pajama and loungewear brand Chelsea Peers. “Plus, it’s more versatile. Our customers like to wear them each year, or even all year round. They are not bought for just one day.”

Research contact: @guardian

Georgia prosecutors won’t consider plea deals for Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, or Donald Trump

November 30, 2023


Georgia prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s election interference racketeering case reportedly say they will not consider plea deals for co-defendants Mark Meadows or Rudy Giuliani—or for Trump himself, reports New York’s Daily News.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has decided to proceed to try Trump and his two top lieutenants as the alleged ringleaders of his plot to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State and elsewhere, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, November 28.

Willis has named Trump the leader of the multipronged conspiracy to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have hoped to wriggle off the hook in the Georgia case, but has so far unsuccessfully sought to have his case moved to federal court. He offered some cooperation to Special Counsel Jack Smith in exchange for testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the election interference case, but has apparently not made any formal cooperation deal.

Giuliani faces a plethora of legal woes in Georgia and elsewhere—including a slam-dunk defeat in a defamation case filed by Atlanta election workers whom he falsely accused of rigging votes for President Biden. The judgment could bankrupt him.

The ex-mayor also is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election interference case led by Smith. He submitted to questioning by Smith’s team in what legal analysts called an effort to win a deal to avoid prosecution, but there is no sign that he was successful.

Aside from signaling danger to Meadows and Giuliani, the reported decision by Willis could serve as a flashing invitation to the other dozen or so remaining co-defendants to step up talks for plea agreements in the sprawling case.

The most prominent name that was left off of Willis’ must-face-trial list is

pro-Trump law professor John Eastman.The right-wing law professor is considered the architect of Trump’s alleged scheme to convince Republican lawmakers in Georgia and other battleground states to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors to muddy the waters of Biden’s victory.

That is one of several intertwined plots laid out in the RICO indictment, along with an effort to bully officials into investigating bogus claims of widespread voter fraud and a bizarre plan to hack into voting machines in a rural pro-Trump Georgia county.

So far, three other Trump lawyers have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Trump and the others, along with a Trump campaign activist who allegedly aided the Coffee County voting machine effort.

That leaves 14 co-defendants still facing the prospect of going on trial alongside Trump. Several of them are relatively low-level participants in the plot; or fake electors who legal analysts say should have a strong incentive to plead guilty and put the case behind them.

Georgia’s RICO law carries sentences of up to 20 years in prison and would not be subject to pardons. The statute is considered a particularly powerful weapon for prosecutors, and Willis has proven her effectiveness at using it to jail crooked mobsters, drug dealers and even cheating teachers.

Willis has asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to set an August 5 date for the trial, which is expected to last several months. lf that schedule holds, Trump would face the daunting prospect of being on trial in an Atlanta courtroom during the last months of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump faces a March 4 trial in Washington, D.C., in the federal election interference case presided over by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews


BMW, Subaru, and Porsche drivers ‘more likely to cause a crash,’ UK study finds

November 15, 2023

Academics have called for further research into the marketing of cars after analysis of U.K. accident data has suggested that drivers of certain brands are more likely than others to cause a crash, reports The Guardian.

A study of more than 400,000 road accidents in the United Kingdom has found that when “risky or aggressive maneuvers” played a part in collisions, there was a significant statistical difference in driver culpability across different brands.

Dodgy driving—covering such reported infringements as speeding, jumping a red light, overtaking on double white lines, or ignoring the humble pedestrian crossing —was more likely to be a factor when a Subaru, Porsche, or BMW was involved than when a Skoda or a Hyundai was the vehicle identified in the unfortunate incident .

Having factored in variables such as drivers’ ages and road types, the researchers hypothesized that branding could be to blame, in a paper published in the Journal of Social Marketing.

 Lead author Alan Tapp, professor of social marketing at the University of the West of England, said: “All things being equal, you’d expect the same proportion of aggressive maneuvers across all types.”

However, there was a higher prevalence in the Department for Transport collision data among makes he characterized broadly as those with “advertising and marketing that seems to celebrate performance driving, look at me, king-of-the-road stuff.”

Drivers of Subarus—once enthusiastically defined in his Top Gear days by Jeremy Clarkson as “a fire-breathing incarnation from the pixellated world of the PlayStation” whose slamming door “makes exactly the same sound as a recently shot pheasant hitting the ground—were involved in proportionately the most “injudicious action”, the paper found.

“It’s chicken and egg—do aggressive drivers choose certain cars, or do brands make things worse?” said Tapp. “We know that some car makes spend hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide every year promoting their cars with imagery that, in some cases, subtly implies a connection between their make of car and high-performance driving. We also know that the design of some makes seems to appeal to drivers who may want to push the boundaries of performance.

“Of course, these manufacturers abide by the laws and regulations that govern them and we are not suggesting otherwise. But now that this data has come to light, should we be pressing the manufacturers and regulators to take another look at the way in which modern marketing techniques might have an adverse effect on road safety?”

Co-author Dan Campsall, of road safety consultancy Agilysis, said: “While manufacturers are introducing all kinds of innovative technology to improve safety, the operator is still a human being—and we are sending them mixed messages about what is expected of them when they are driving.”

A Porsche spokesperson said: “Safety at the wheel is of paramount importance to us,” adding that every buyer was invited to its dedicated “Porsche Experience Centre” at Silverstone, “to fully understand their car and to refine their driving skills on a course designed to replicate a British B-road.”

A Subaru UK spokesperson said that the brand had changed its range and focus since the 2011-2015 data examined in the paper, adding: “Our core pillars are safety, capability, and reliability. We no longer import the sporty range from our rallying days to the UK. Our SUVs are very family-focused and we’re proud to have the 5-star Euro NCAP rating across the entire range.”

A BMW spokesperson said: “At BMW, nothing is more important than safety … This is also reflected in the way in which we market our cars in the U.K. and we spend a great deal of time and care in meeting the high standards set by the Advertising Standards Authority.”

Research contact: @guardian

The face is familiar: Roosters can recognize their own reflections in mirrors, study finds

November 14, 2023

With their colorful plumage and prominent combs, roosters might be forgiven for sneaking the odd glance in the mirror—particularly as research now suggests the birds may be able to recognize their own reflections, reports The Guardian.

The ability to recognize oneself in the mirror has so far only been found in a handful of animals, including elephants, dolphins, great apes, and certain fish and birds.

Sonja Hillemacher, one of the authors of the study conducted at the University of Bonn, said animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror often seemed to have more advanced cognitive abilities, and that there was a link to social and emotional intelligence, as well as self-awareness.

“This ability is a fundamental aspect of consciousness. It is also fundamental for us,” she says. “Our results suggest a level of consciousness [in chickens] that prompts discussions about animal rights and welfare.”

Writing in the journal Plos One, Hillemacher and colleagues note that roosters tend to call out to their peers should they see an aerial threat, such as a bird of prey. If a rooster is alone, however, it does not usually raise the alarm as it could draw the predator’s attention.

In their first set of experiments, the team placed a rooster in one of two sections of an indoor space. In the other section they placed either a mirror, another rooster, or left it empty. The team then projected the silhouette of a flying hawk on to the ceiling of the section containing the first rooster.

The results from 58 roosters revealed the birds made far more alarm calls when another rooster was visible to them, with 1.33 alarm calls per bird on average over three tests, than when alone (0.29 calls on average) or faced with the mirror (0.43 calls on average). The team found a similar reduction in calls when they placed a second rooster out of sight behind the mirror.

The team say the findings suggest the birds did not regard their reflection as another rooster, even when accompanied by the smell and sound of a second bird. While that may suggest roosters can recognize themselves in a mirror, the team say there is another possibility.

“It’s equally feasible that they regarded their reflection as an odd [member of their species] mimicking their every move, leading them not to emit an alarm call out of irritation,” said Hillemacher.

The researchers also used a traditional “mark test” to probe mirror self-recognition. In those experiments, 18 roosters had either pink or transparent powder dabbed just below their beak, on their chest—a place they cannot usually see. The birds’ reactions were then recorded in the presence and absence of a mirror to explore if they saw and understood the mark was on their body—a revelation typically gauged by an animal’s tendency to investigate the patch.

The results revealed that while the birds touched and groomed themselves, their behavior did not differ when a mirror was present, or if the mark was pink or transparent.

The team say that their results suggest mirror tests should be modified to take into account the natural context of the animal being studied.

They also note that—with chickens possibly one of the least expected candidates for recognizing their own reflections—the results have important implications

“If roosters can differentiate between their own reflection and the sight of a conspecific, it is likely that this cognitive ability is much more widespread than previously assumed,” the team write.

Research contact: @guardian

Meta launches web version of flagging Threads app

August 25, 2023

Meta has launched a web version of its “Twitter killer” social media platform, Threads, that can be used without an app, as it attempts to revive itself after a recent drop in usage, reports The Guardian.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp launched the microblogging site in July—widely understood to be an alternative for users disillusioned with Elon Musk-owned Twitter, which has since rebranded as X.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced the release of the desktop version on Tuesday, August 22 with a photo of his younger self in his dorm room posted on Threads, captioned: “Actual footage of me building Threads for web. Rolling out over the next few days.”

The web browser functionality takes it a step closer to matching what X offers.

Threads experienced an initial boom in sign-ups after it was first launched on July 5, with 100 million new users registering within a week.

However, just three weeks later, the number of users who engaged with the site on a daily basis had dropped significantly. It had a peak of 49 million users shortly after its launch, but on July 22 that had fallen to 12 million active users, according to the Internet traffic analysts Similarweb.

Threads was launched during a period of instability on the then Twitter platform,  during which Musk instituting massive staff cuts, and changes to moderation enforcement and functionality that have prompted a backlash from users and advertisers.

Meta’s answer to Twitter was launched shortly after one of Musk’s widely criticised moves as owner—his decision to cap the daily number of tweets users could view on the platform.

Zuckerburg launched Threads as a new space for real-time updates and to have public conversations, and the interface is similar to X—where users can engage, repost, and like each other’s content.

Research contact: @guardian

Mark Zuckerberg shuts door on cage fight, saying Elon Musk ‘isn’t serious’

August 15, 2023

Mark Zuckerberg has said he is moving on from a rumored cage fight with Elon Musk, claiming the Tesla boss “isn’t serious,” reports The Guardian.

The rival billionaire tech bosses seemingly agreed to a brawl in June when Musk tweeted that he was “up for a cage fight.”

Zuckerberg, who manages Facebook and Instagram, took a screenshot of Musk’s tweet, replying “send me location.” However, on Sunday he said on his other social media platform, Threads: “I think we can all agree Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on.

“I offered a real date. Dana White (Ultimate Fighting Championship boss) offered to make this a legit competition for charity. Elon won’t confirm a date; then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead.

“If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me. Otherwise, time to move on. I’m going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously.”

Musk, the owner of Twitter which he has renamed X, appeared to suggest the fight would be held in an “epic location” in Italy. He outlined streaming options and an ancient setting for the proposed event, claiming he had spoken to the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Tensions have been high between the two tech billionaires’ companies after the launch of Threads, a text-based conversation app, by Zuckerberg’s Meta in July.

Twitter sent a cease-and-desist letter to Zuckerberg after the launch—claiming Meta had made “unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.

Zuckerberg is trained in mixed martial arts, posting about completing his first jiu jitsu tournament earlier this year.

Musk said last week he was training for the fight by lifting weights. He wrote on X: “Don’t have time to work out, so I just bring them to work.”

Research contact: @guardian