Emotions expressed on Facebook can be contagious, according to researchers at the University of California. Researchers studied the messages of more than 100 million users, and found that "emotional changes in one person caused emotional changes in another person."
The data, which was first published in the Wall Street Journal, showed that the number of negative posts increased 1.16 percent when it was raining, and positive comments dropped 1.19 percent. And when friends living in other cities where it wasn't raining read a gloomy message, their moods also darkened.
Posts were sorted by whether they contained positive or negative language, such as the word "sad" or "happy." To strip out the effect of topic contagion, the researchers removed any status updates that were actually about the weather. "We wanted posts where it is raining on you and it is making you write negative posts that are not about the weather," Dr. James Fowler said. [Wall Street Journal]
Since more than a billion people use Facebook, it's easy to see how an upbeat or downbeat mood in one place can quickly spread on the social network. "It is going to have implications for financial markets, which have bubbles and busts, and it has implications for political activity," Fowler said.
In his first podcast since being fired from Fox News last week, Bill O'Reilly said he misses being beamed into living rooms across the country, and teased that some major revelations will be made regarding his departure from the network amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
"I am sad that I'm not on television anymore," he said on Monday's No Spin News. "I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can't say a lot, because there's much stuff going on right now. But I can tell you that I'm very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don't know if you're going to be surprised — but I think you're going to be shaken, as I am. There's a lot of stuff involved here." He was ousted last Wednesday, a few weeks after The New York Times reported O'Reilly and Fox News paid $13 million to settle with five women who accused the host of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
During his podcast, O'Reilly touched on a few headlines from the day, and explained how No Spin News will work; ultimately, it will become a "genuine news program," with guests and an extended version of the Talking Points Memo segment from his now-canceled show, The O'Reilly Factor. He used a good chunk of the podcast to tout his book tour and membership to his website; while free all this week, No Spin News will usually only be available to paid subscribers. Membership costs $4.95 a month, $15.95 for 90 days, or $49.95 for a year, and O'Reilly enticed listeners by announcing that with your annual membership, you'll receive one of 50 free gifts — options include one of his books, one of his books on CD, or a tie from the American Patriot Collection, which technically isn't free because it still has a supplemental cost of $25. Catherine Garcia
Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, was confirmed as agriculture secretary Monday by the Senate with a vote of 87-11.
His father was a farmer, and he has owned several agricultural businesses. He is not affiliated with Perdue Farms or the Perdue food company. Perdue, 70, will oversee 100,000 employees and such programs as food safety, agricultural subsidies, and rural development projects. Catherine Garcia
A local government worker was shot and killed Monday in the Venezuelan state of Merida, as anti-government protests in the country entered a fourth week.
Another person was shot and seriously injured. The shooting brings the death toll up to 11 people killed since the unrest began a month ago. The protests started when the Supreme Court, supportive of President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist government, took over the powers of the opposition-led congress. After public outrage, they rescinded their ruling, but protesters still took to the streets and are holding sit-ins to force early elections and autonomy for congress.
Maduro has accused the protesters of wanting a violent coup, while they say Maduro is silencing peaceful protesters. Venezuela was already facing an economic crisis and food and medicine shortages when the protests began. Over the past month, more than 1,400 people have been detained during the protests. Catherine Garcia
Happy Days star Erin Moran, who was found dead Saturday inside her Indiana home, "likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer," the Harrison County sheriff and coroner said in a statement Monday.
They did not say what kind of cancer the actress, 56, had. Born in Burbank, California, in 1960, Moran first started playing Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days in 1974. After word spread of her death, she was remembered by many of her former co-stars, including Henry Winkler, who said she "will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on Earth," and Ron Howard, who will always recall "you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs, and lighting up TV screens." Catherine Garcia
If success is measured by whether or not you have an obscure animal species named after you, the British rock band Radiohead has officially made it. Following the likes of Bono, who has a spider named after him, and Lady Gaga, who has a family of ferns named after her, Radiohead has inspired the name of a newly discovered species of "fungus-farming ant," Mashable reported.
The ant, found in Venezuela's portion of the Amazon rainforest, has been christened Sericomyrmex radioheadi. And these Radiohead ants aren't your average ants: Part of the genus of "silky ants," the ant species can "grow its own food and is covered with a filamentous layer of white crystals," Live Science reported.
— Mashable (@mashable) April 24, 2017
Scientists said they picked the name to honor Radiohead's music and the band's activism work. "[W]e wanted to acknowledge the conservation efforts of the band members, especially in raising climate change awareness," said Ana Ješovnik, the study's lead author. Becca Stanek
New portions of President Trump's budget blueprint obtained by Foreign Policy have revealed what exactly could get the ax if Trump's plan to slash funding for foreign aid were to get the stamp of approval from Congress. Apparently, Trump is eyeing merging USAID — an agency that focuses on issues like "disease prevention and food security" — with the larger State Department.
The change is pegged as a part of the administration's effort to put "America first" and "pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation," but Foreign Policy noted the move could prove "polarizing." Andrew Natsios, the former USAID administrator under former President George W. Bush, warned folding USAID into the State Department "will end the technical expertise of USAID" and "be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term."
"What you're basically doing is eviscerating the most important tool of American influence in the developing world, which is our development program," Natsios said.
USAID isn't the only program at risk of elimination. The budget plan also proposes slashing global health funding in 41 countries. The Bureau for Food Security could lose as much as 68 percent of its funding, and the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs could say goodbye to nearly its entire budget.
The results could prove disastrous, experts warn. Some caution the cuts could curb U.S. influence abroad, put Americans "at risk in the event of a major epidemic," and even "pose concrete risks to U.S. security interests," Foreign Policy reported. "I've seen firsthand how U.S. development money saves millions of lives," said Tom Kenyon, CEO of the global health nonprofit Project Hope. "There's just no question people would die from this."
And you thought American politics were the wild west. Meet Daniel Delomez, the mayor of the town of Annezin in northern France. Delomez is so mad that 38 percent of his local electorate voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential election that he says he might step down, he told French publication L'Avenir de l'Artois.
"It is catastrophic," Delomez said. "It's possible that I will step down as I do not want to dedicate my life to assholes."
— L'Avenir de l'Artois (@avenirartois) April 23, 2017
Delomez belongs to the Socialist Party; far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon received the second highest amount of votes in Annezin, after Le Pen. Le Pen will face centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in a two-way run-off election in May.