These tiny creatures are some of the scariest living things on Earth.

Zombies ... what if I told you that they're everywhere?

Hold on to your brains. Here's the story:

You know about your run-of-the-mill parasite — where one insect lays an egg inside another, and when the larvae hatches, it consumes its host from the inside out until it's ready to emerge and take over the world?


It seems that many parasites take things a step further:

These kinds of parasites bend their victims' wills to serve a new master.

The horsehair worm grows up inside a cricket and then drives it to commit suicide by drowning.

The horsehair worm needs water in order to reproduce. When it's old enough to mate, the parasite releases proteins that cause the crickets to become suicidal in a very specific way: by drowning. A host cricket finds water and flings itself in. While it drowns, the horsehair worm wriggles its way out, free to hit the singles scene.

And this isn't an isolated thing either. One scientist in Japan found that in one stream, deviant suicidal crickets made up 60% of the diet of local trout!

Then there's this "head-banging zombie caterpillar" brainwashed by wasps.

After being stung by a parasitic wasp, this caterpillar becomes a body guard: Here it is beating off a curious weevil to protect the cocoons of the very insect that is devouring it from inside. So, in a way, the caterpillar and cricket are no longer their original selves.

It's like the cricket and the caterpillar have become extensions of the minds of their parasitic conquerors...

Parasites even control group behavior. Tapeworm-infected sea monkeys turn bright red and swim together in clumps.

Why? So they can be more easily spotted and eaten by flamingos, which — you guessed it — is exactly where those tapeworms like to breed.

You want to take solace that this is just a thing of the creepy insect world, right?

A parasite called "toxo" has crossed the arthopod-mammal barrier without a problem.

"Toxo" is a one-celled parasite that lives in rats but needs to be inside cats to reproduce. And yes, this is why people are advised to avoid changing litter boxes while they're pregnant.

See, in rats, this toxo manipulates their brains in a way that makes them think it's a smart idea to run toward the smell of cat pee instead of away from it, making the rats easier for cats to hunt.

But if a pregnant person encounters a toxo while cleaning out the litter box of an infected cat, it can cause serious birth defects to the fetus.

It's just not natural!

Except — it is.

It turns out that 1 in 3 of us humans actually have this toxo in our own brains.

Scientists are very divided over whether the parasite is actually manipulating human behavior. Some think they see it in personality tests, car accidents, and schizophrenia.

Bottom line, manipulation in nature is far more common than we've thought. The walking living dead are out there, and there are a lot of them.

Parasite mind control is just one more example of how the natural world is endlessly fascinating.

We should never think we got it all figured out! Unless we're this guy, who sure seems to know a lot about it:


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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

via Philanthropy Daily

On September 14, Charles "Chuck" Feeney signed the paperwork to shut down Atlantic Philanthropies. The ceremony was attended via Zoom by the philanthropies' board which included former California Governor Jerry Brown, Bill Gates, and Nancy Pelosi.

While most would think the shuttering of a philanthropic endeavor would be a sad event, it was just how Feeney planned. It marked the competition of four-decade mission to give away almost every penny of his $8 billion fortune.

Feeney has saved $2 million to live on for the remainder of his life.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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