May 21, 2014

Earlier this month, two researchers at University College, London, published some surprising findings in the journal Cognition. The gambling phenomenon known as the "hot hand" — the idea that if you are on a winning streak you'll continue to win — is real. And not only is it real, but your chances of winning appear to rise significantly after each winning hand.

Juemin Xu and Nigel Harvey reached their conclusion by studying 565,915 online sports bets made by 776 gamblers in 2010. Overall, the gamblers won 40 percent of the time (the house always wins, eventually). But if one of the gamblers won, his odds of winning the next hand rose to 49 percent, then 57 percent in hand three, 67 percent in hand four, 72 percent on the fifth wager, and an insane 75 percent on the sixth consecutive winning hand. This is what that looks like in graph form, via Xu and Harvey's paper:

For losers, flip those charts horizontally: Losers keep on losing and losing. Skill had nothing to do with it either way. What's going on? "I certainly don't want people to think that if you're winning that you're more likely to win and eventually you win, win, win," Xu told says The New Yorker's Jay Caspian Kang. The key is apparently the gambler's fallacy, described by Xu and Harvey as "If you have been losing, you are more likely to win in future."

What appears to happen, according to the paper, is that "after winning, gamblers selected safer odds. After losing, they selected riskier odds." Winners keep on winning, Xu and Harvey say, because they are "worried their good luck was not going to continue, so they selected safer odds." Sure, but if you're losing, looks best to walk away. Peter Weber

campaign 2016
1:30 a.m. ET

The first campaign ads of the Democratic primary race will start airing on television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire on Tuesday, featuring Hillary Clinton.

The ads will run for five weeks in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, media markets and the entire state of New Hampshire. Each ad buy is worth $1 million. Clinton's campaign is anticipating Republicans will purchase large ad buys in order to attack her, Time reports, and wants to "make sure everyone knows who Hillary Clinton really is — who she fights for and what has motivated her lifelong commitment to children and families," campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement.

In the first spot, "Dorothy," Clinton talks about her mother, who was abandoned by her parents as a child but persevered due to the kindness of strangers. "When I think about all the Dorothys, all over America, who fight for their families, who never give up, that's why I'm doing this, that's why I've always done this," Clinton says.

In "Family Strong," a narrator touts her work with the Children's Defense Fund and says that while serving as a senator in New York, she "made sure the heroes and families of 9/11 got the care they needed." Catherine Garcia

the ugly american
12:28 a.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Following the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist, wildlife officials in Zimbabwe announced on Sunday an American gynecologist illegally killed a lion during a hunt in April.

In a news release, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said that Jan Casmir Sieski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, took part in an authorized hunt outside of Hwange National Park, where Cecil was killed in July. The New York Times reports that no one with that name can be found in public records, but an address given out by the Zimbabwe government can be traced to Jan Casmir Seski, a gynecological oncologist practicing in Pittsburgh. Officials told The Associated Press that Seski shot the lion with a bow and arrow, killing it on a farm owned by a safari tour operator named Headman Sibanda.

Zimbabwe National Parks spokeswoman Carolina Washaya Moyo told AP that the hunt was conducted in an area "where lion hunting is outlawed," and said "the landowner who helped him with the hunt also did not have a quota for lion hunting." Sibanda has been arrested on suspicion of breaching hunting regulations, and accused of hunting without a permit and quota. The government has suspended the hunting of lions, leopards, and elephants outside of Hwange National Park, and ordered hunters in the field to stop and leave. An investigation has also been ordered into the hunting industry, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
August 2, 2015
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During a conference in Southern California on Sunday, Jeb Bush told a room filled with 450 wealthy conservative donors that he has no qualms with raising more than $103 million for his allied super PAC, saying, "I'm playing the rules of the game, the way it's laid out. And if people don't like it, that's just tough luck."

"You might as well front load it if you can," the GOP presidential candidate continued. "This is a long haul. ... I'm not running to come in third. I'm not running to have it on my résumé that I ran for president. The purpose is to run with purpose, to run with heart, to run in a way that draws people to our cause, and money helps. Money helps."

The event was founded by industrialist Charles Koch in 2003, in response to his frustration with federal spending by Bush's brother, former president George W. Bush, The Washington Post reports. Bush said his brother is "extraordinary," but he is "running for president based on my own record and my own life experience." Catherine Garcia

August 2, 2015

The FBI is investigating two small explosions that targeted churches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Sunday morning.

No one was injured, and the Calvary Baptist Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church sustained minor damage. Both churches are closed, a public information officer with the Las Cruces Police Department told ABC News. Shortly after 8 a.m., people inside the Calvary Baptist Church preparing for the 8:30 a.m. service heard what sounded like a "boom." Witness Dennis Llewellyn said outside, a mailbox near the entrance was "completely opened up and twisted and blown apart. It just obliterated everything. If anyone was in front of it, it would have killed them."

Within 30 minutes, another explosive device detonated in a trash bin at Holy Cross Catholic Church, police said, after the 8 a.m. Mass had already started. "The trash can was right near a front entranceway and had there been somebody within close proximity, they may have well been injured," Dan Trujillo of the Las Cruces Police Department said. So far, there are no suspects. "We'll look into them to see if they are connected," Trujillo said. "It seems like they might be." Catherine Garcia

you're fired
August 2, 2015
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sam Nunberg, an aide to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, was fired after racially-insensitive statements were found on his personal Facebook page, a spokesman for the campaign told NBC News Sunday.

On Friday, Business Insider reported that in 2007, Nunberg called Rev. Al Sharpton's daughter a racial slur, and in 2008 said President Obama was a "Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser," adding, "congrats to the losers that voted for him." He saved some of his ire for Republicans as well — in 2012, he wrote, "@GovChristie is a fat slob who should register as a Democrat," and in 2008 said former New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani was a "punk" with a "bad lisp."

The Associated Press reports that Nunberg "spent years" working for the Trump organization, and was fired in 2014 before being rehired. Nunberg denied to NBC News that he made the posts, but on Sunday the Trump campaign confirmed they were authentic and he was fired. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky said Nunberg was "a short-time consultant with the campaign," and added, "Mr. Trump would never condone such statements from anybody in his campaign even if that person had a low-level campaign position." Catherine Garcia

August 2, 2015
Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Sen. Mikhail Marchenko has had it with emoji depicting same-sex relationships. He alleged the same-sex parenting and kissing emojing violate Russia's 2013 law against gay propaganda, according to translations of a Russian newspaper report from Quartz and BBC News.

Mikhail reportedly said the emoji "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships" and "denied family values." His complaint prompted a state media investigation into the emoji that could lead to them being banned from social media in Russia. Pro-gay emoji have been available on iPhones since 2012.

The Russian law allows for blocking pro-gay websites and fining individuals and businesses that publicly support gay rights. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
August 2, 2015
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Egyptian counterpart Sunday, marking the first time in six years the two nations have held strategic talks, Newsweek reports. Talks were suspended during the Middle East's Arab Spring uprising, where protests in Egypt forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Egypt remains vital ... to engagement and stability in the region as a whole," Kerry said.

The U.S. has given Egypt eight F-16 fighter jets, and will continue providing more support for the Egyptian military as they fight insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. Kerry also emphasized the U.S. would continue to press Cairo on human rights issues, like jailing journalists.

Kerry will travel to Qatar next for meetings about fighting ISIS and enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Julie Kliegman

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