July 2, 2014

I get it: Animal crackers are really, really good.

So good, in fact, that a bear cub in New Jersey decided that pulling a discarded jar of them over his head while rummaging through trash would be worth it. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But instead of sugar-high bliss, the cub found himself stuck, and when officials from the Environmental Protection Department approached, the bear spooked and stumbled up into a tree, cookie jar and all:

(AP Photo/NJ Department of Environmental Protection)

Firefighters arranged netting in case the cub fell (luckily, he did not), and a DEP biologist managed to tranquilize the bear, at which point The Associated Press reports that "local firefighters gingerly cut the jar off its head."

At least now the little guy has one heck of a story to tell the other cubs. --Sarah Eberspacher

(AP Photo/NJ Department of Environmental Protection)

8:33 p.m. ET
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Before he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, President Trump was warned in all caps by national security advisers not to congratulate Putin on his re-election, officials familiar with the phone call told The Washington Post.

Trump did congratulate Putin, and later said they also discussed arms control and the situations in Syria and North Korea. His briefing materials included the note "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," and aides told Trump he needed to condemn the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England earlier this month, which is being pinned on Moscow; Trump didn't bring this up, the Post reports. Analysts say Russia's election, which Putin won with 76 percent of the vote, was rigged, and there are videos showing ballot box stuffing.

One senior White House official told the Post it's not clear if Trump read the materials, and another said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster did not explicitly say anything about not congratulating Putin during a phone briefing ahead of the call. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was not impressed by Trump's conversation with Putin, and tweeted Tuesday afternoon, "An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Catherine Garcia

7:38 p.m. ET
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After spending a decade at Fox News as a strategic analyst, retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters did not renew his contract, and sent colleagues a farewell email detailing all of the issues he has with the network, which he calls a "propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."

Peters, who often appeared on Fox as a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's foreign policy, wrote in his email that he believes Fox News is "assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed."

The network once provided "a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices," he said, but now, primetime hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson "dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller."

In a statement, Fox News said Peters is "entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he's choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing." Read Peters' entire email at BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia

6:43 p.m. ET
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A New York judge on Tuesday rejected President Trump's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2005.

Zervos has claimed that in 2007, while in Trump's New York office, he kissed her on the lips twice, making her "uncomfortable, nervous, and embarrassed." She also alleged that while at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Trump kissed and groped her, and pressed his genitals against her. In January 2017, Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump, after he made inflammatory comments on the campaign trail about Zervos and other women who accused him of misconduct.

In her decision, Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote that "no one is above the law," and "nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility." Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has argued that Trump's comments were just political rhetoric, and on Tuesday, said he will appeal the decision. Catherine Garcia

5:37 p.m. ET
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It's been six months since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, and the island still has a long way to go in recovering from the storm, which left hundreds of thousands of citizens without homes, electricity, or running water. But beyond infrastructure reconstruction, Puerto Rico faces another challenge as a result of the storm: skyrocketing suicide rates.

The number of suicide attempts between November 2017 and January 2018 was more than double the same period a year ago, Vox reported, based on data from the island's Commission for Suicide Prevention. The report found that in those three months, a crisis hotline run by Puerto Rico's health department received more than 3,000 calls from people who said they had attempted suicide — a 246 percent increase from the same period the previous year, Vox said.

In the same period, the hotline also received more than 9,600 calls from people who reported suicidal thoughts — an 83 percent increase from a year ago. El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported that high rates of unemployment and homelessness after Hurricane Maria were likely contributing to the mental health crisis.

Puerto Rico was hit by the Category 4 storm in September, resulting in an estimated $100 billion in damage, reports The Washington Post. The island has made some headway restoring the electrical grid and rebuilding roofs on damaged homes, though many residents are still without power. The storm's total death toll is still unknown, as a recount is set to be completed in April. Summer Meza

5:05 p.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google is ready to shell out $3 million in the battle against fake news.

A new project called Mediawise, which is being funded by the tech giant, aims to help teenagers identify fake news online. The Poynter Institute, a resource for journalists, will head the project, which intends to enlist the help of educators and YouTube content creators, including author John Green.

Mediawise will include a media literacy curriculum for middle and high school students and a "first-of-its-kind teen fact-checking initiative," Poynter explained. The teenaged fact checkers will work with professional journalists online to parse real news from fiction and will produce "heavily visual" reports, Poynter said, "to reach teens wherever they are consuming news."

The effort is centered on a body of research from the Stanford History Education Group that shows that "despite being constantly online, the vast majority of teenagers are unable to correctly evaluate the credibility of online news and information," Poynter said. Adults, Poynter added, "didn't do much better."

Poynter is hoping to engage 1 million students with Mediawise, with at least 50 percent coming from "underserved or low-income" communities. Google's $3 million investment in the project will come over the course of two years. Also Tuesday, the company announced its larger $300 million Google News Initiative, which is an effort to "strengthen quality journalism" through new tools and partnerships with news organizations, per CNN. Mary Catalfamo

4:13 p.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

New research suggests that the key to understanding obesity might be hidden in your taste buds.

In a study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology, scientists discovered that mice that were fed a high-fat diet lost about 25 percent of their taste buds in just eight weeks, Science News reported.

Taste buds are clusters of cells on the tongue that help the brain identify flavors, Pacific Standard reported. Although taste buds have a natural life span of about 10 days, in mice with high-fat diets, new taste buds weren't being produced nearly fast enough to replace the old ones as they died off.

This research suggests that obesity might be part of a dangerous, self-fulfilling cycle: Because taste plays a significant role in the amount of satisfaction we get from food, people with a dulled sense of taste may naturally seek out more food to appease their appetites. Robin Dando, one of the co-authors of the study, told Pacific Standard that learning more about this phenomenon could help treat obesity in the future, by changing "how people perceive their foods."

Scientists don't yet fully understand why the obese mice weren't producing enough new taste buds, but per the study, it might have something to do with a molecule called tumor necrosis factor alpha. When the researchers repeated their study with mice that couldn't produce that molecule, the mice who were fed high-fat diets still gained weight, but their taste buds reproduced just like their normally-fed counterparts, Pacific Standard reported.

Read more about the study at Pacific Standard. Shivani Ishwar

4:11 p.m. ET

Putting "Russia" and "elections" in the same sentence makes for a touchy subject, given the country's spotty record of voting integrity. So it's no wonder that a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether Russia's elections were "free and fair" in Tuesday's press briefing, in light of reports that President Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning re-election.

"We don't get to dictate how other countries operate," Sanders responded.

All well and good — except dictating how other countries operate is kind of what the U.S. is known for. For example, 15 years ago today, U.S. forces invaded Iraq en route to deposing its leader, Saddam Hussein.

Want another example? We've got you covered. Kathryn Krawczyk

1. The Roosevelt Corollary: Teddy Roosevelt whipped out that big stick policy to "protect" South and Central American countries from angry European creditors. Venezuela and other at-risk nations didn't end up needing much help, but the U.S. did use it as an excuse to barge in anyway.

2. The Truman Doctrine/Marshall Plan: This one boils down to the U.S. giving money to European countries if they promised to say no to communism.

3. 1953 Iranian Coup: The CIA waited 50 years to admit it organized a coup to overthrow a democratically elected prime minister in Iran.

4. and 5. The Vietnam and Korean Wars: Two times the U.S. showed up to fight off the communist half of a country and protect the democratic one.

6-49. These 44 other countries where the U.S. meddled with elections — not including the times where America just overthrew a foreign leader it didn't like.

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