April 10, 2014

On Wednesday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart recapped the recent unrest in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia protesters have taken over a town hall and declared it an independent republic. Russia is threatening to intervene, but the recap is mostly prelude to Samantha Bee's segment on the threat Russia poses outside of Ukraine. Her token expert, an earnest former White House Russia expert named Andrew Weiss, assured Bee that while Russia's neighbors should be nervous, the odds that Russia will attack the U.S. are about one in a trillion. Bee, unconvinced, visited the closest place in America to Crimea — Brighton Beach. --Peter Weber

12:11 p.m. ET

Dickinson, Texas, a suburb about 30 miles away from Houston, is requiring that applicants for relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Harvey pledge not to boycott Israel, The Washington Post reports. The application document reads: "By executing this agreement below, the applicant verifies that the applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this agreement."

Hurricane Harvey may have hit Dickinson harder than any other Texas city, local press and law enforcement suggest, with severe flooding and winds resulting in upwards of 7,000 homes damaged. It was in Dickinson that the viral photo of elderly patients in a nursing home trapped in waist-high water was taken.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called the requirement a violation of the First Amendment, and ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura points out that "the government cannot condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression." Dickinson city attorney David W. Olson said that he was only following the statewide Anti-BDS law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) earlier this year, which "prohibits all state agencies from contracting with, and certain public funds from investing in, companies that boycott Israel." There is no clarification of the law's application to individuals.

Watch local news coverage of the discovery below. The Week Staff

12:03 p.m. ET

Your puppy isn't looking at you lovingly just because he wants a treat. Scientists in Britain found that dogs alter their facial expressions simply when their owners look at them — regardless of whether food is available, per a study published Oct. 19 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers monitored the facial expressions of dogs as their owners paid attention to them and then when the owners looked away, specifically examining the muscle that dogs use to raise their eyebrows and widen their eyes. This adorable mug is what people refer to as the "puppy dog" look.

Sometimes, the owners would hold food while trying to get the dog's attention, but the scientists found that while the pups expressed more interest when their owners paid attention to them, it didn't matter whether their owners were clutching treats or not. "This is a delightful finding that provides more evidence of how dogs draw us closer to them with their eyes," Dr. Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University studying canine cognition, told The New York Times in an email.

Researchers cannot know why dogs alter their facial expressions when looking at their owner, but they can determine that the look is independent of treats. So fret not: When Spike pulls those adorable pleading eyes, it's for you — not the rawhide bone in your hand. Elianna Spitzer

11:23 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

An aerosol can and a lithium-ion powered laptop could spell destruction for an airplane, The Associated Press reported Friday, citing a U.S. government report recently filed with the U.N. If a large lithium-ion battery powered device overheats near an aerosol can in a piece of checked luggage, the Federal Aviation Administration warned, an entire airplane could become engulfed in flames before in-flight staff could do anything to stop it.

The FAA placed an 8-ounce can of dry shampoo near a laptop with a lithium-ion battery and forced the laptop to overheat. In less than 40 seconds, the aerosol can exploded, a blast that could disable a fire suppression system aboard a plane. The FAA tried the same test with nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol, and each of those tests resulted in large fires — which could burn hot enough to cause aircraft aluminum to reach its melting point — but no explosions.

After 10 tests, the FAA sent the report to the U.N.'s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organization. That organization recommends aviation safety measure, but cannot force countries to adhere to them.

The FAA paper asks that airlines require passengers to get permission to pack lithium-ion battery-powered large devices in checked luggage. The report does not state whether any domestic rules about checked luggage will be altered as a result of the findings. Elianna Spitzer

11:04 a.m. ET
Wikimedia commons, CC BY: Alainkaa

Having learned absolutely nothing from the U.K.'s Boaty McBoatface scandal/major disappointment of last year, Swedish transportation company MTR Express engaged democracy to choose a name for its new express train connecting Stockholm and Gothenburg. To the surprise of almost no one, the public voted to dub the new line "Trainy McTrainface."

MTR Express is submitting to the will of the people and accepting the name, which some see as fitting retribution after the British Natural Research Council opted to name its new research vessel the RSS Sir David Attenborough instead of the public favorite and frontrunner, the RSS Boaty McBoatface. "I can guarantee with my life that the train will be called Trainy McTrainface," marketing chief Per Nasfi told local press, assuring us that democracy has won in Sweden. The Week Staff

10:46 a.m. ET
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

In the 2016 election, President Trump won the state of Wisconsin by almost 23,000 votes. But a new report from Mother Jones published online Thursday found that statewide voter turnout in the Badger State was also the lowest it had been since 2000.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the 2016 election was also the first major contest in Wisconsin to require registered voters to bring a current, valid form of state or national identification to the polls — just one of 33 election changes passed under Gov. Scott Walker (R). Other restrictions reduced early voting hours and restricted early voting locations.

Such policies are ostensibly instituted to prevent or discourage voter fraud, but Mother Jones points out that black voters were about 50 percent less likely to have a form of current ID than white voters. And when it comes to trying to renew those IDs or get new ones altogether, 85 percent of people denied identification by the DMV were black or Latino.

Milwaukee's election director Neil Albrecht agreed that the new laws had a direct national impact: "It is very probable that between the photo ID law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin." And discouraged, would-be voters in Wisconsin know it. "This particular election was very important to me," said Andrea Anthony, a Wisconsin woman whose license was expired at the time of voting last year. "I felt like the right to vote was being stripped away from me." Read the full report from Mother Jones here. The Week Staff

10:44 a.m. ET

If you believe in destiny, you might just think that Kiké Hernandez's three home runs Thursday night were meant to be. The Los Angeles Dodgers' 11-1 win against the defending World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, clinched the National League pennant for the boys in blue for the first time since 1988 — in no small part thanks to Hernandez's third-inning grand slam. With two more home runs in Game 5, Hernandez joined the small club of players with three dingers in a postseason game.

Hernandez's home runs were all the more exciting because they were entirely unexpected: "The utility player's bat has never been his selling point, to say the least," Deadspin writes. "A modest power surge this year — a career-high ISO of .205, after failing to ever top .175 — brought his home run total for the season only to the grand sum of 11. He was one of the weakest-hitting players on the Dodgers, ninth by slugging percentage."

The Dodgers owner, Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter, even promised Hernandez a $1 million donation to Puerto Rico relief efforts if he simply got on base twice, Dodgers beat reporter Michael J. Duarte writes.

Despite his odds, Hernandez didn't have any doubt. He told his mother — who lives in Puerto Rico, and was watching the game on a generator-powered TV at Hernandez's grandparents house — that he was going to hit a home run, SB Nation reports. "Don't think about hitting a home run; just think about putting the ball in play," she advised him before the game. He replied: "No Mom, I was thinking about that the first two games, and that didn't work."

And in the stands for his three homers? "Hernandez's father, who battled cancer last year, is at Wrigley Field tonight watching his son have the game of his life," Duarte tweeted. Jeva Lange

10:38 a.m. ET

It's not me, it's you.

The city of Little Rock, Arkansas, sent Amazon that message Thursday to let the company know Little Rock was no longer interested in the company's new HQ2 project ... by placing a full-page breakup letter in The Washington Post.

The city is concerned that the new 8-million-square-foot headquarters that Amazon wants to build will disrupt transit and traffic flow — and Little Rock isn't alone. Some say the so-called HQ2 will likely detract from local businesses by bringing in outside construction companies. Housing prices could also rise as a result of the development; rent prices in the Seattle area, where Amazon's primary home base is located, spiked 7.2 percent last year alone, according to real estate database Zillow.

Seventy-three community groups from cities across the U.S. have signed onto a "wish list" for Amazon in an open letter. The civic leaders are pushing for the online retailer to show a commitment to whichever city it chooses in the form of affordable housing and tax revenue.

It's not all bad news for Amazon, though. Some cities are actively trying to impress the company, which has promised to hire 50,000 full-time employees after the $5 billion HQ2 project is completed. Tucson, Arizona, pulled out all of the stops by shipping a 21-foot cactus to the Seattle-based company in an attempt to impress, NBC News reports.

Cities' bids for HQ2 were submitted Oct. 19. Read Little Rock's full breakup letter below. Elianna Spitzer

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