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September 23, 2014

A new study suggests that narwhal tusk size is indicative of testicle size and fertility.

Narwhals' tusks, which are actually single teeth atop their heads, are directly correlated to teste mass, researchers found. The study, published this month in Marine Mammal Science, looked at more than 100 narwhals from Inuit hunts in the Canadian Arctic between 1990 and 1998. The researchers found that longer tusks were indicative of larger testicles.

The researchers suggest that male narwhals' tusk length could signal to females which males would be the best mates, according to Science magazine. The tusks, which can grow as long as two to three meters, are found "almost exclusively" in male narwhals, Science reports.

Previous explanations of the role of narwhal tusks have included self-defense, breaking ice, and sensing changes in water salinity. However, Science notes that larger tusks may actually be detrimental to male narwhals in the long run — narwhals with longer tusks are "preferentially targeted" in Inuit hunting. --Meghan DeMaria

September 2, 2014

Campus police at more than 100 colleges and universities are taking advantage of the Pentagon's 1033 program, which gives surplus military equipment and weapons to local police departments.

For example, last year the Ohio State University acquired a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle — a vehicle designed to withstand IED attacks and looks to the civilian eye like a cross between a tank and a Humvee — for campus use. When questioned, the university repeatedly avoided explaining why an MRAP was needed by campus security.

OSU is not alone in militarizing campus police. The University of Maryland, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University received assault rifles, "riot type" shotguns, and armored vehicles from the 1033 program. Florida State has an Army Humvee, and Florida International University has military rifles.

View the full list of police departments, including campus police, which have participated in the 1033 program here. Bonnie Kristian

August 28, 2014

While many Americans have learned of police militarization and the misconduct it can enable for the first time thanks to recent events in Ferguson, the billionaire Koch brothers have funded opposition to militarized police for decades. Often vilified by the left as a paramount negative influence in American politics, the Kochs have a long history of support for what is sometimes considered a liberal cause célèbre — as explained by Mark Holden of Koch Industries:

"We need to address issues such as overcriminalization, excessive and disproportionate sentencing, inadequate indigent defense that is inconsistent with the Sixth Amendment, and the militarization of police. We have deep respect for the moral dignity of each and every person and because of this, we've worked for decades to support those who defend the full range of individual rights." [The Daily Beast]

This support has included funding of police brutality expert Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, during his time at the libertarian Cato Institute and Reason Magazine. Both organizations continue to address police militarization and criminal justice reform since Balko's departure for TheWashington Post, with Cato maintaining a long-term Project on Criminal Justice.

David Koch also supports gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, and an end to American wars in the Middle East. Bonnie Kristian

June 13, 2014

Through the power of petitions, food blogger Vani Hari has successfully persuaded Subway to remove certain chemicals from its bread and Kraft to stop using orange food coloring in macaroni and cheese. Now, she has convinced Anheuser-Busch to list the ingredients in Budweiser and Bud Light.

Anheuser-Busch was swayed on Thursday to share the ingredients, just one day after Hari started a petition that Time reports had more than 44,000 signatures. Now, interested parties can visit the company's website to see that the beers are made of "water, barley malt, rice, yeast, and hops." Over the next few days, they'll also release the ingredients in their other beers, including Stella Artois and Michelob.

Hari began the petition in order to see if the rumors were true that many beers add high fructose corn syrup, artificial colorings, and fish swim bladders into their beverages. Catherine Garcia

May 20, 2014

Last August, the world learned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had ordered the execution of pop star Hyon Song-wol, a reputed former girlfriend, and 11 other popular performers for making pornographic videos; their bandmates and loved ones were forced to watch the machine-gun firing squad carry out the order, before being shipped off to prison camps themselves. Or not.

On Friday, Hyon appeared on national television to laud "the heavenly trust and warm care of the Dear Marshal," Kim. Her speech is in Korean, but you can watch it yourself.

Celebrities, porn, the Kim family, and machine-gun firing squads? This would fall in the journalism sand trap (and internet mainstay) of "too good to check." Unless Pyongyang has mastered the art of hologram performance, it's a good reminder to take North Korean rumors — even when reported by heavyweight newspapers like South Korea's Chosun Ilbo or Japan's Asahi Shimbun — with a healthy dose of salt.

Luckily, we can celebrate the not-dead Hyon by watching her performing one of her hits, "A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed." --Peter Weber

May 15, 2014

On Monday, America got swept into the family feud between legendary Top 40 radio host Casey Kasem's wife and his children from his first marriage. Kasem — 82 and afflicted with a type of progressive dementia called Lewy body dementia — was declared missing by a Los Angeles judge because wife Jean Kasem had taken him somewhere and refused to tell her children where. The judge appointed daughter Kerri Kasem temporary conservator and ordered a court investigator to track Casey Kasem down.

Found him they have — not out of the country, like Jean Kasem's lawyer said in court, but somewhere in Kitsap County, Washington — across the Puget Sound from Seattle. The Kitsap County Sheriff's office says it "does not believe this is a police issue," and that Jean and Casey Kasem are just enjoying a vacation. Kasem's children disagree, saying in a statement they have "grave concerns about his health and will do everything in their power to bring him back home." Peter Weber

May 8, 2014

Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney and other Republicans have been raising some interesting theories about Vanity Fair's much-discussed essay by Monica Lewinsky. Cheney, from her perch at Fox News, suggested that Hillary Clinton (or her allies) ordered the magazine to run the piece on Lewinsky now so that the old sex scandal with her husband would be old news (again) by the 2016 presidential race. Others have suggested it could be a play for sympathy by Team Clinton.

The fact that we're still discussing the article, "Shame and Survival," after two days — before the Lewinsky issue even hits the stands later Thursday — is probably explanation enough for why Vanity Fair solicited the essay: It wants to sell magazines (or, failing that, at least the more elusive reward of "buzz"). And getting Lewinsky to write about the Clinton affair and her life since took a lot of time and effort, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter tells The New York Times.

How much time? About 16 years. Vanity Fair started building a relationship with the most famous White House intern back in 1998, when it published a controversial photo spread of Lewinsky accompanied by some musings by Christopher Hitchens. Over the next few years, Lewinsky met Carter, Hitchens, and other staff members at Vanity Fair. She and David Friend, the magazine's editor of creative development, started talking about a profile or first-person essay in 2007. The essay started taking shape in earnest (and in secret) last year.

"She's had a rough 15 years," Carter tells The Times. "I was hoping the next 15 might be better, and that this might prove a turning point." Peter Weber

May 2, 2014

If you don't learn something new from this click-by-click guide to fridge and freezer basics, congratulations, you are obviously a food-storage ninja. Most people, though, will find some helpful knowledge and tips in this collaboration between Digg and animator Daniella Urdinlaiz. Click below to start the lesson:

Avocados and tomatoes spoil the other vegetables in your fridge? Squirrel meat? This is an interesting and fun way to present the information, but it's not all that handy as a reference guide (though Tapestry tells me you can now back up by hitting the back arrow key or clicking the bottom left corner). For those who find the presentation lacking in utility, Urdinlaiz provides a link to the Lifehacker story with the same information, in a boring old blog format. Peter Weber

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