The Study

From an alert Study tipster comes harrowing news out of Boxford, Massachusetts, where a “roving group of cows” burst into a backyard party and “bullied the guests for their beer.” The cows, which had roamed far from their pastures, were spotted by police officers on a Boxford resident’s front lawn.

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Today, Egyptians are voting in an historic presidential election. It’s the first competitive presidential vote in the country’s history, and election monitors from organizations like the Carter Center are there to ensure the integrity of the process. There’s obviously some risk involved—the monitors may, in fact, find evidence of vote-tampering.

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May is National Bike Month, and today is Bike To Work Day. It’s a pretty big event here in D.C.: Last year, over 11,000 people participated, and turnout is likely to be even higher this year (aided in part by the rapid expansion of a bikeshare program). Do these promotional events actually convince more people to ditch their cars and farecards? According to a 2009 study, yes. The authors reviewed survey data from six U.S. cities and found that, as you might expect, physical factors play an important role in determining the rate of bicycle use.

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Today, the White House is expected to announce new steps designed to ease investment in Burma, the notoriously closed-off country whose ruling junta, to nearly everyone’s surprise, has recently begun to liberalize. The White House’s decision follows years of sanctions against Burma, but it’s far from clear that sanctions spurred the government’s recent reforms.  In fact, their efficacy has long been disputed.

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Yesterday, The Washington Post published a lengthy account of Mitt Romney’s years at prep school. The article included several revelations about Romney’s behavior as a teenager, including a disturbing incident involving John Lauber, a “soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney” who “was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality.” In 1965, Romney played a key role in an attack on Lauber on the school’s campus. As the Post describes the incident, a group of students “tackled [Lauber] and pinned him to the ground.

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Today, President Obama announced he supports gay marriage. The president revealed his position in a much-anticipated interview with ABC. Previously, the president had claimed that his stance was “evolving.” There weren’t many people who actually believed him—the notion that his views were shifting a little bit every day was always kind of ridiculous—but the politics of the issue are dicey, and campaign season is a risky time to announce a major policy shift.

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Yesterday, voters in North Carolina approved a narrow-minded, mean-spirited, and poorly-written state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. What happens now? According to a 2011 paper, North Carolina may soon experience a (further) reduction in tolerance for gay people and increased rates of syphilis.

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Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, has been given a five-day suspension for beaning Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals on Sunday. (Hamels admitted that the hit was intentional, saying he did it to welcome the 19-year-old Harper to the MLB.) Beanballs are against the rules, so some kind of punishment was certainly in order. But what kind of punishment is applicable in these situations? According to a 2011 law review article, Hamels is lucky to be in the big leagues—and not just for the salary.

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Major political change is afoot in France, where a presidential election has brought anti-austerity politician François Hollande to power. In the face of the EU’s economic crisis, incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy has cooperated closely with German chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tough austerity measures. Now, France’s leadership is poised to go in a different direction.

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At the 138th Kentucky Derby yesterday, “I’ll Have Another” outmatched the favorite, “Bodemeister,” for a victory by 1½ lengths. If you bet on him, you were in luck: As the Washington Post notes, I’ll Have Another faced 15-1 odds at racetime. Now, a few of you might bristle at the notion that picking a winner against the odds is merely “luck.” Can research shed any light on the dynamics of odds and wagers? You bet it can! (OK, sorry.) But seriously: According to a 2008 study, the horse wagering market operates pretty efficiently.

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