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Crime and punishment
July 28, 2014
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Shirley Almer was able to beat lung cancer and a brain tumor, but ended up dying in 2008 from salmonella poisoning after eating tainted peanut butter while in the hospital.

Almer, 72, was one of nine killed during an outbreak of salmonella that was eventually traced back to peanuts that were processed by Virginia-based Peanut Corporation of America. More than 700 people ended up sick, and it turned out to be one of the largest food recalls in history, The Associated Press reports.

This week, the trial will begin for Stewart Parnell, former head of the now bankrupt Peanut Corporation of America, his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson. Federal investigators say that customers were misled about the safety of the product, employees were asked to create forged certificates stating peanuts that tested positive for salmonella were safe, and several people worked in an unsanitary plant in Georgia.

For the families of those who died from the bad peanuts, it's been a rough road. "I don't know whether to celebrate or mourn," Almer's son, Jeff, told The Associated Press. Although he has been calling for tighter food safety regulations so this can never happen again, the case going to trial "reminded me about my mom's situation all over again, so the excitement was tempered."

The trial is expected to last several weeks. Catherine Garcia

call me
2:03 p.m. ET

It looks as if Donald Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine. Gawker has published his phone number in retaliation for Trump sharing Sen. Lindsey Graham's last month. Ever the mischief maker, the website is encouraging its readers to call up the presidential hopeful and harass him with their questions.

Last month, American reality show entertainer turned American political system entertainer Donald Trump publicized presidential rival Sen. Lindsey Graham's cell number, urging his supporters to "try it." In the spirit of open and fair political debate, we now bring you Trump's number [...] He has some pressing questions to answer. Does he still think Mexicans are out to rape you? Speaking of rape, does he think it's possible to rape your own wife? Just how much did he exaggerate his net worth to hit the $10 billion figure? What about breast milk does he find so disgusting? Which cabinet position would he give Sarah Palin? Interesting topics, all. [Gawker]

Gawker also encourages readers to record their phone calls if they get through to Trump, and to send them to the site. An interesting look for the so-called "20 percent nicer" Gawker. Jeva Lange

this is creepy
2:02 p.m. ET
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Fujifilm announced their new X-T1 IR camera Monday, a sweet device that could help forensic scientists find hidden clues at crime scenes. The camera sees infrared light, meaning it can capture things unseen by the naked human eye, like painted-over bloodstains.

But this camera's amazing ability comes with an awkward downside: It can see through some clothes, Wired reports. The clothes have to be pretty thin, though, so just invest in well-made garments if you know a lot of camera-loving freaks.

The camera comes out in October. For a mere $1,700, you can creep on strangers to your heart's content. Julie Kliegman

Nature's Wonders
1:45 p.m. ET

Turns out Donald Trump might not be the "best builder" after all — termites are. Archaeologists recently discovered an abandoned termite mound in central Africa that is more than 2,200 years old, suggesting the insects are capable of using the same mound for over a millennia. While termites have since abandoned the mound, believed to be the oldest ever discovered, they are thought to have used it regularly until 500 to 800 years ago.

And termite mounds aren't just little hills — they're more like cities. The BBC reports that the insects can make mounds that stand "more than 10 meters high and 15 meters wide at their base." The mounds can also regulate temperature and air condition. Becca Stanek

Content creators
1:44 p.m. ET
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Hank Green is what might be called a "vlogopreneur" — someone who's started a successful small business in online video. He's annoyed at Facebook's new video operation.

Why? Two reasons: First, Facebook has been clocking eye-popping view counts with the use of auto-playing videos that are heavily favored in the site's feed algorithm. But because of that very method of presentation, Facebook's viewer retention falls off a cliff — after 30 seconds, almost 80 percent of people have stopped watching, far more than on YouTube. So Facebook counts as a view any play lasting more than three seconds. If those views were a currency, they wouldn't be worth very much.

Worse, a huge amount of that video is stolen. Green cites a study showing that of the top 1000 Facebook videos from the first quarter of 2015, representing some 17 billion views, nearly three-quarters were lifted from elsewhere. Unlike YouTube, Facebook has no "Content ID" system, which automatically detects infringing content and allows creators to claim a share of the revenue. The company will take the videos down if you pester them, but only after a couple days. That's after the video has gotten almost all the views — and provided space for all the paid advertising — it's likely to get.

All in all, not a promising start for such a huge internet company. Ryan Cooper

Meanwhile in sports...
1:39 p.m. ET
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you're new Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, you don't just visit the monuments on a trip to Washington, D.C. No: You head straight for the hallowed halls in which our nation's playmakers reside. You head for the Supreme Court.

Harbaugh sat down with The Wall Street Journal for an interview, describing an April trip to D.C., during which he managed to meet five of the justices. The former San Francisco 49ers coach was classically succinct with his impressions of most of the judges: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a "very dynamic speaker," he said, and Chief Justice John Roberts invited Harbaugh into his office, where the judge showed off a Declaration of Independence written in stone ("Very memorable," Harbaugh enthused).

But Harbaugh waxed a bit more poetic in his description of Justice Clarence Thomas, a Nebraska fan who nevertheless won the Michigan coach's approval.

"I've been around some enthusiastic people," Harbaugh said. "(Thomas is) one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met. It was a great thrill."

Thrill or not, the Supreme Court probably still has its work cut out toppling Harbaugh's favorite judge — Judge Judy — from her pedestal. Sarah Eberspacher

brrrrr
12:54 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Mad Men

If you're a woman who is often cold at work, science now officially has your back. In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, the two male authors suggest most office thermostat temperatures are set in a gender-biased fashion.

In what The New York Times calls "the Great Arctic Office Conspiracy," most office thermostats use a formula developed in the 1960s — a time when women didn't make up half the work force — to regulate the temperature. The only problem is that the formula caters to the metabolic of a 40-year-old, 154-lb. man. Most women are smaller then men and have more body fat, which lends itself to a slower metabolic rate. The slower a body's metabolic rate, the harder it is to produce heat. What's also not factored into the standard formula is that women sometimes work in skirts and sandals, which widens the gap.

For the men who aren't sold on raising the temperature to give their coworkers a break, consider the effect on global warming. If buildings warm up just a little to appropriately count for their occupants' comfort, they'll waste less energy and emit less carbon dioxide, the researchers argue.

Ladies, please use this study as an excuse to ditch your blankets and fight the patriarchy. Julie Kliegman

trump nation
12:14 p.m. ET
Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

Donald Trump is back on top in the latest Monmouth University poll — and this time his lead is bigger than ever. A survey of Republican voters released Monday found that Trump "now holds a more than 2-to-1 advantage over his nearest rivals, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker." Trump comes in first with 26 percent, followed by Bush (12 percent) and Walker (11 percent).

Monmouth reports that Trump's support has increased by 13 percentage points in the span of just three weeks, when the last Monmouth University Poll was conducted, and is growing across "nearly all demographic groups."

"Republican support for Donald Trump just continues to grow with no clear sense of who his constituency really is," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "This makes it very difficult for his opponents to figure out how to take him in the upcoming debate."

The first Republican primary debate is scheduled for Thursday. Becca Stanek

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