What really wiped out the dinosaurs was a run of terrible luck, according to a new study published in Biological Reviews journal. The dinosaurs might have survived the impact of a six-mile-wide asteroid that paleontologists believe was the biggest factor in their demise if big plant eaters — prey for big carnivores — hadn't just entered a period of decline. "If the asteroid hit five million years later or earlier, the dinosaurs might still be around," one of the researchers said. Read more about the theory at National Geographic. Harold Maass
Three Texas road signs were hacked during weekend construction to inform Tuesday morning commuters that "work is canceled — go back home" and "Donald Trump is a shape-shifting lizard." The third sign said more simply, "Bernie for President," NBC reports.
The signs were turned off by TxDOT shortly before 6 a.m., but not before word got out:
— Tim Ciesco (@TimCiescoNBC5) May 31, 2016
Stay woke. Jeva Lange
North Korea is pretty keen on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. So much so that North Korean state media DPRK Today published an editorial recently singing the presumptive GOP nominee's praises. Trump, DPRK Today says, is a "wise politician" and a "far-sighted candidate." "There are many positive aspects to Trump's 'inflammatory policies,'" Han Yong-mook, a Chinese North Korean scholar, wrote in the editorial. "Trump said he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North, isn't this fortunate from North Korea's perspective?"
The editorial also welcomed Trump's request to hold direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea," the editorial said.
While this isn't necessarily Pyongyang talking, The Guardian reports that experts contend the editorial is still likely reflective of the regime's take on Trump. "[Trump]'s the Dennis Rodman of American politics — quirky, flamboyant, risk-taking," John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus, said. "At the moment he's also an outsider. But Pyongyang is hoping that either he'll be elected [and follow through on his pledges] or that his pronouncements will change the political game in the U.S. and influence how the Democratic Party and mainstream Republicans view Korean issues." Becca Stanek
The Global Slavery Index reported their annual findings on Tuesday, putting the total number of enslaved people around the world at an estimated 45.8 million, up from an estimated 35.8 million in 2014. Fifty-eight percent of those living in slavery are in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Uzbekistan, the report found. Proportionally, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar have the highest populations of people in modern slavery, with one in every 20 people in North Korea being a slave.
"In North Korea, there is pervasive evidence that government-sanctioned forced labor occurs in an extensive system of prison labor camps while North Korean women are subjected to forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation in China and other neighboring states. In Uzbekistan, the government continues to subject its citizens to forced labor in the annual cotton harvest," the report said.
The United States and Canada have among the lowest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by proportion to their population, along with the Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, and Denmark. However, instances of slavery were found in all 167 countries included in the index, which was informed by 42,000 interviews by Gallup in 53 languages and across 25 countries.
"We need to make it clear we're not going to tolerate slavery and when there is slavery in a regime we should not trade with them," the foundation's founder, Andrew Forrest, told CNBC. "This is not AIDS or malaria. We have caused slavery and because it's a human condition we can fix it." Jeva Lange
Previous economic research has suggested that a family's economic advantages (or disadvantages) usually dissipate within a few generations. New research by Italian economists Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Moretti begs to differ. The Bank of Italy economists used a unique tool, a 1427 census of Florence, to compare the wealth and occupation of Florentine families 600 years ago to those same families in 2011. "The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago," Barone and Moretti explain in an essay on their findings at the Center for Economic Policy Research's Vox site.
If you're looking to see how the Medici family has fared, you're out of luck — the researchers replaced family last names with letters to maintain confidentiality. But Barone and Moretti did find "evidence of dynasties in certain (elite) professions," they write, noting that there's a higher probability a Florentine today will be a lawyers, banker (like the Medici family), medical doctor, pharmacist, or goldsmith if he or she has the last name of a family that was intensely involved in the same profession in Renaissance Florence. They also report finding "some evidence of the existence of a glass floor that protects the descendants of the upper class from falling down the economic ladder."
Barone and Moretti say they can't universalize their findings, noting in their working paper, "Intergenerational mobility in the very long run: Florence 1427-2011," that "Florence in the 15th century was already an advanced and complex society, characterized by a significant level of inequality and by a rich variety of professions and occupational stratification." But Quartz's Aamna Mohdin says that the new findings are "further evidence on how the rich remain rich," including research in England that a family's socioeconomic status can persist for more than 800 years. You can read more about Florence's lack of economic mobility, including Barone and Moretti's methodology and caveats, at Vox or in their research paper. Peter Weber
Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by just two points nationally, a new NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday reveals. Clinton leads the presumptive Republican nominee just 47 percent to 45 percent — a narrow edge just barely outside the poll's 1.2-point margin of error. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) boasts a 12-point lead over Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup, 52 percent to 40 percent.
The poll surveyed 12,969 registered voters online between May 23 and May 29. Becca Stanek
Actor Kit Harrington slammed the film industry for "sexism towards men" in an interview with The Sunday Times, accusing the system of "a double standard."
"If you said to a girl, 'Do you like being called a babe?' and she said, 'No, not really,' she'd be absolutely right," Harrington said. "I like to think of myself as more than a head of hair or a set of looks."
Some thought the Game of Thrones actor's comments came across as tone-deaf. "I think what he is actually describing is feeling objectified, which certainly isn't a phenomenon belonging to a single gender," Aimée Lutkin observed for Jezebel.
You know nothing (about institutional sexism within the film-making industry and wider society), Jon Snow https://t.co/RPLu6SQHuh
— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) May 31, 2016
Still, "it's demeaning," Harrington said. "Yes, in some ways you could argue I've been employed for a look I have. But there's a sexism that happens towards men. There's definitely a sexism in our industry that happens towards women, and there is towards men as well ... At some points during photoshoots when I'm asked to strip down, I felt that." Jeva Lange
Journalist Katie Couric admitted to deceptively editing an exchange with gun rights activists in Under the Gun, a documentary she produced and narrated about gun violence. "I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League," she said in a statement Monday evening.
The edit made the activists appear stumped and ashamed by her question about felons and terrorists purchasing guns if there are no background checks, when in fact they responded quickly to the criticism and had candid answers. The discrepancy was exposed by The Washington Free Beacon last week. Jeva Lange