Smartphone Detox: How To Power Down In A Wired World

Your Health Smartphone Detox: How To Power Down In A Wired World Listen · 3:24 3:24 Toggle more options Download Embed Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player"> Transcript Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email Enlarge this image Ryan Johnson for NPR Ryan Johnson for NPR If the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov were alive today, what would he say about smartphones? He might not think of them as phones at all, but instead as remarkable tools for understanding how technology can manipulate our brains. Pavlov's own findings — from experiments he did more than a century ago, involving food, buzzers and slobbering dogs — offer key insights into why our phones have become almost an extension of our bodies, modern researchers say. The findings also provide clues to how we can break our dependence. Pavlov originally set off to study canine digestion. But one day, he noticed something peculiar while feeding his dogs. If he played a sound — like a metronome or buzzer — before mealtimes, eventually the sound started to have a special meaning for the animals. It meant food was coming! The dogs actually started drooling when they heard the sound, even if no food was around. Hearing the buzzer had become pleasurable. That's exactly what's happening with smartphones, says David Greenfield, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut. When we hear a ding or little ditty alerting us to a new text, email or Facebook post, cells in our brains likely release dopamine — one of the chemical transmitters in the brain's reward circuitry. That dopamine makes us feel pleasure, Greenfield says. "That ping is telling us there is some type of reward there, waiting for us," Greenfield says. Over time, that ping can Continue Reading

Model Ambra Battilana wore a wire to record Harvey Weinstein allegations

THE sexual harassment scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein deepened as it emerged the Hollywood producer was allegedly recorded apologising to an Italian model who accused him of groping her breasts. Beauty queen Ambra Battilana Gutierrez wore a wire during a police sting in 2015 in an attempt to extract a confession from Weinstein. Here is everything we know about the model and her allegations against the disgraced movie mogul. Who is Ambra Battilana Gutierrez? Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, 24, is an Italian model of Filipino descent who competed in the Miss Italia 2010 pageant. The Miss Italy finalist is one of several woman have come forward with allegations against Weinstein including high-profile stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, She claims Weinstein lunged at her breasts, groped them - then asked if they were real, and tried to put his hand up her skirt  at his office in Manhattan in March 2015. Ambra, then 22, went to cops to report his behaviour, where investigators from the NYPD’s Special Victims Division equipped her with a hidden microphone before she confronted Weinstein the next day at the nearby Tribeca Grand Hotel. A chilling transcript from the police wire she wore during a police sting, Weinstein allegedly admitted to groping the model and said he was “used to” behaving that way. Two weeks later, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided not to press charges, the New Yorker reported. Gutierrez’s allegations come as it emerged the model had previously reported Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to police after she claimed to have witnessed his lewd behaviour at one of his bunga-bunga sex parties. In 2010, when she was 18, the Italian-Filipina model said she was invited to attend one of the “elegant soirées” parties hosted by Berlusconi, who was then 74. The model reportedly gave statements to Italian authorities about Continue Reading

AG candidate says Speaker Madigan once thought he was ‘wearing a wire’

A Democratic state lawmaker from Lake County said Sunday that he believes House Speaker Michael Madigan once thought he was “wearing a wire” during a meeting between the two. A Madigan spokesman said he didn’t have any information to verify that state Rep. Scott Drury’s story was “accurate.” Drury has long been at odds with Madigan, who also is the state Democratic Party chairman. The former federal prosecutor was the only Democrat who did not vote for Madigan for speaker in the current General Assembly. Drury’s tale dates back to 2016. He recounted an effort to advance legislation involving protection of children’s data on computers used in schools. The three-term lawmaker from Highwood said he got a call from Madigan saying “‛Hey, we should go to dinner.’” The two met at the Union League Club in Chicago, Drury told WGN 720-AM on Sunday. “And all of a sudden, there’s just this, this shady juxtaposition of campaign contributions and my legislation,” said Drury, who is fighting to regain a ballot spot in the Democratic attorney general primary. Drury said Madigan asked him for $60,000 to $70,000 in Democratic campaign contributions. “I said to him, ‘I don’t take money from you. I don’t take money from the party. I’m not going to give you sixty or seventy-thousand dollars,’” Drury said. He said Madigan told him, “‘Don’t worry about it. We have another way to do this.’ And he gave me a flier that described LIFT PAC. And, you know, ‘You could do it that way.’” The Leading Illinois for Tomorrow political action committee was headed by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, who’s now a Democratic governor candidate. The PAC collected $10 million and ran ads in fall 2016 that sought to link Donald Trump to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. One of Madigan’s political funds gave it $500,000. Continue Reading

‘Wearing a wire’ in the digital age: Smaller, safer, more comfortable

On secretly recorded tapes played in a federal courtroom this week, jurors heard Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s staff plan the handoff of leftover meatballs — code for a bribe, one lawyer yelled. On another recording, the mayor is allegedly heard grousing about a stingy campaign contribution. Much of the prosecution’s evidence in Pawlowski’s corruption trial so far has revolved around secretly recorded conversations. But if you were imagining that FBI informant Mike Fleck nervously strapped a tape recorder to his chest before leaning close to the mayor to get what the feds wanted a la “The Soparanos,” well, fuggedaboutit. Gathering covert evidence in the digital age goes far beyond “wearing a wire” for the feds. Informants today can be fitted out with cameras tiny enough to be concealed in a piece of jewelry, and voice recorders smaller than a Bic lighter. The end result is high-tech evidence that juries find credible. “The government loves nothing more than to convict a man with his own words,” said Norm Pattis, a Connecticut defense attorney who has authored several books on the criminal justice system. In the Allentown City Hall case, prosecutors say Fleck, who pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery offenses, “wore a wire” and recorded dozens of conversations for the FBI. Multiple sources told The Morning Call about the tense moment when Fleck’s cover was allegedly blown, with Pawlowski allegedly patting Fleck down as they stood in an elevator. “What? Do you think I’m wearing a wire?” Fleck asked, according to the sources. He was, but Pawlowski didn’t find it. Technological advances have made gathering covert audio and video easier and safer, both for law enforcement officers and cooperating witnesses. Gone are the bulky recorders that needed to be concealed under layers of clothing. Today, recording devices are miniaturized. Continue Reading

Gates Sends a Message: A Wired World

Bill Gates for President–next time. Now that we’ve gotten used to millionaires running for the presidency, why not a billionaire and a self-made one at that? At least Gates is aware that the biggest problem in the world is not how to make some Americans even wealthier but how to deal with the abysmal poverty that defines the condition of two-thirds of God’s people. Odd as it may seem, it took the richest man in the world in a dramatic speech last week to remind us that no man is an island, and that when most of the world’s population lives on the edge of extinction, it mocks the rosy predictions for our common future on a wired planet. Gates shocked a conference of computer industry wizards with the news that the billions of people who subsist on a dollar a day are not in a position to benefit from the Information Age. He charged that the hoopla over the digital revolution, which he pioneered, is now a dangerous distraction from the urgent need to deal seriously with the festering problem of world poverty. Gates, who has donated an enormous amount to charity, also made the case that private donations alone will not solve the problem, and that massive government intervention is needed. “Do people have a clear idea of what it is to live on $1 a day?” Gates asked the conferees. “There’s no electricity in that house. None. You’re just buying food, you’re trying to stay alive.” The “Creating Digital Dividends” conference he addressed was one of those occasions in which the computer industry indulges the hope that as it earns enormous profits, it is solving the major problems facing humanity. The premise of the conference was that “market drivers” could be used “to bring the benefits of connectivity and participation in the e-economy to all the world’s 6 billion people.” As reported by Sam Howe Verhovek in the New York Times, Gates, who was the Continue Reading

Sarah Palin not convinced that Texas teen’s homemade clock is not a ‘wired-up bomb-looking contraption’

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is following her daughter’s lead in criticizing Obama’s invitation to a Texas teen detained for bringing a kit clock to school. A homemade clock crafted by 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed looked nothing like a clock, the one-time vice president candidate said on Facebook sharing a photo of its jumbled parts. “That’s a clock, and I’m the queen of England,” Palin wrote Saturday. While a world of scientists and engineers rallied around the MacArthur High School student, Palin dismissed the Irving teenager as only “an evidently obstinate-answering student” who deserved to be arrested by authorities — unlike kids who accidently bring squirt guns to school or leave ammo in their vehicles after hunting. "Kids humiliated and intimidated for innocent actions like those real examples are often marked the rest of their lives and made to feel really rotten," she wrote. Formal charges were not filed against Mohamed after teachers called police upon seeing Mohamed’s DIY clock. The clock “obviously could be seen by conscientious teachers as a dangerous wired-up bomb-looking contraption,” Palin wrote. She compared an image of Mohamed’s hard case pencil box stuffed with tangled clock parts to a pile of pencil pouches and said the two looked nothing alike. Palin’s rant follows Bristol Palin’s own blog post Friday recommending Obama stay clear of Mohamed’s ordeal to avoid stirring up “racial strife.” Bristol’s mom then accused Obama of playing the “cool savior” card by chiming in to Twitter to invite the teen to the White House. "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?" Obama tweeted Wednesday. "We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great." Palin wasn’t impressed. “President Obama's practice of Continue Reading

Judge Napolitano on Why He Believes Trump Campaign Adviser ‘Wore a Wire’

Dershowitz: Mueller Is a 'Zealot' on Russia Investigation, But Not Unethical Lewandowski: FBI to Blame for Not Informing Trump Campaign About Manafort The Russia investigation cannot be dismissed by the White House as "fake news," Judge Andrew Napolitano explained. The Fox News senior judicial analyst emphasized the seriousness of the guilty plea by former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous, who he said most likely "wore a wire" to potentially gather incriminating evidence against other Trump campaign officials. Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the guilty plea on Monday, saying Papadopolous lied to FBI agents about contacts with a Russia-linked professor who spoke of "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the spring of 2016. The professor, based in London, has denied the claims laid out by Papadopolous. Napolitano said the guilty plea by Papadopolous was "very unusual" because it occurred in secret and the judge ordered the plea documents to be sealed. Napolitano said for that to happen, prosecutors would need to convince the court that a lack of secrecy would "materially interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation."He explained that the judge's decision was likely based on Papadopolous "wearing a wire" as a cooperating witness.Napolitano also said it's telling that Papadopolous was not charged with obstruction of justice, perhaps because he has already provided "significant assistance" to investigators.Napolitano said Papadopolous could end up getting off with just probation depending on how much information he provides to Mueller's team. The judge said the charges unveiled against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, are enough to put both in jail for the rest of their lives. "That will cause their lawyers to start negotiating with Bob Mueller," he predicted.Watch more above. Sanders: Indictments by Mueller Have Nothing to Continue Reading

Nelson Castro pleads not guilty to charges that led him to wear a wire

A humbled ex-Assemblyman Nelson Castro pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the perjury charges that inspired him to secretly record his Albany peers for nearly four years. Led into Bronx Supreme Court in handcuffs, Castro turned his first public appearance since resigning into an act of contrition, insisting that he’d become an informant not to save his skin - but to do the right thing. “I'd like to make no excuses for my misconduct and the way I behaved before I became elected,” he said outside court. “I intend to take full responsibility for these actions and continue to do what I can to make it right.” Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson unsealed the felony perjury charges that date to July 2009. Since then, Castro has secretly cooperated with law enforcment in a wide-ranging corruption probe. So far Castro’s recordings helped lead to the arrest last week of Assemblyman Eric Stevens (D-Bronx) on charges of taking cash to do favors for adult day care center owners. But Castro has made clear he was tasked with several “missions” during the years he wore a secret recording device. Speculation about what he recorded has a number of New York politicians sweating. In court Wednesday, Castro - wearing a navy pinstriped suit and red tie - was paraded past the press with his hands cuffed behind him. Court officers removed the cuffs before he entered court, then Castro pleaded not guilty to charges that he forged signatures on candidate petitions and fraudulently registered voters outside his district to vote in his first run for office in 2008. Bronx Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Brandler recommended Castro be released without any bail. Outside court, he fumbled with his papers as he faced the press: "First and foremost, I would like to apologize to my constituents who have put their faith and trust in me for the last four years,” he said before hopping into a silver Saturn SUV with a rear Continue Reading

Man on a wire

When Mitt Romney steps up to speak in Tampa, he’s going to try hard to look like he’s steady on his feet. In fact, he’ll be walking to the podium on a tightrope. Actually, expect to see five separate, crucial balancing acts play out over the course of this convention. 1. The economy vs. social issues Republicans desperately want to defeat President Obama. They know that the economy is still far too weak, that deficits are exploding and that Romney’s calling card is as a Mr. Fix-It private sector type. That gets him most of the way into their hearts. But not all the way. No GOP nominee in memory, not even maverick John McCain, has had a more confusing and contrived record on the social issues that are near and dear to Republican voters. Romney was pro-choice as recently as 2002. He signed an assault weapons ban as governor of Massachusetts. He was left-leaning on social issues, once trying to outflank Ted Kennedy as a supporter of gay rights. And, of course, he helped pass a universal health care law that includes a requirement that every individual in Massachusetts purchase health insurance or pay a hefty penalty. All of which is why, as he has courted Republican voters, he’s gone out of his way to project a starkly different, “severely conservative” face. Those attending the convention are hard-core Republican activists who want to hear Romney echo their beliefs on guns, gays, abortion and the like. That’s true even after the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” debacle, and it’s why you can expect impassioned, culture-warrior speeches from the likes of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. But the more time and energy Romney and his surrogates spend navigating this rocky terrain, the more they risk alienating viewers at home, especially the women and younger voters who are wary of the hard line and key to victory in November. 2. Positivity vs. negativity Those gathered at the Continue Reading

Leonard Cohen collapses onstage in Madrid singing ‘Bird on a Wire’

Leonard Cohen is recovering after collapsing onstage because of a stomach problem while on tour in eastern Spain, his music company said on Saturday.The veteran poet and performer was partway through his song "Bird on the Wire" in Valencia when he fainted, causing the band to rush to his aid. A video showing Cohen kneeling down several times during last week's performance and then keeling over sideways during a saxophone solo was posted on YouTube by a fan. The Canadian-born musician, who will be 75 on Monday, came out of retirement five years ago when he discovered that most of his retirement fund had disappeared in a disputed case of mismanagement.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading