Jan 31, 2022


Do not condemn your children for their sexual orientation, Pope Francis tells parents

Parents of gay children should not condemn them but offer them support, Pope Francis said.

He spoke in unscripted comments at his weekly audience in reference to difficulties that parents could face in raising offspring.

Those issues included "parents who see different sexual orientations in their children and how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation", Francis said on Wednesday.

He has previously said LGBTIQ+ people have a right to be accepted by their families as children and siblings.

He has also said that while the church could not accept same-sex marriage, it can support civil union laws aimed at giving partners joint rights in areas of pensions, health care and inheritance issues.

Investigators say Pope Benedict knew about abused children while Munich archbishop

Pope Benedict XVI failed to take action when he knew of priests who were abusing children while he was Archbishop of Munich in Germany from 1977 to 1981, a Catholic Church-led, German investigation has alleged, according to multiple reports.

Pope Benedict, known at the time as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, has denied the accusations, but his denials are “not reconcilable with the files in evidence,” according to lawyer Martin Pusch of the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl law firm, commissioned by the Church about two years ago to investigate abuse between 1945 and 2019, CNN reports.

The report by the German law firm that collected decades of Church records states that there is evidence that Ratzinger knew directly of the abuse by certain priests before the scandal became public, but he did not act, The Washington Post reports.

Jerry Falwell Jr. and Wife Becki Open Up About Pool Boy Sex Scandal: 'I'm Partly to Blame,' He Says

Although Falwell Jr. had helped his father save Liberty from financial ruin in the past, he claimed, becoming president of the evangelical school presented a unique challenge.

"Because of my last name, people think I'm a religious person. But I'm not," Falwell Jr., 59, told Vanity Fair in the interview, going on to call the period after his father's death "the worst three months of my life."

"There was so much pressure on me to become somebody I wasn't," recalled Falwell Jr., who is known for making controversial comments about Muslims, weapons and the LQBTQ community. "I'd wake up each day saying, 'How am I going to do this?' "

Added 54-year-old Becki, who became the first lady of Liberty, "We had to put on an act."

The backlash against rightwing evangelicals is reshaping American politics and faith

Since the religious right rose to national prominence in the 1980s, the movement’s insertion of religion in public debate and uncompromising style of public discourse has alienated many non-adherents and members of the larger public. As its critics often note, the movement promotes policies – such as bans on same-sex marriage and abortion – that are viewed by growing numbers of Americans as intolerant and radical.

In a 2002 article, sociologists Michael Hout and Claude S Fischer argued that a significant trend in American religion – the skyrocketing number of people disaffiliating from religion – could be partly explained as a political backlash against the religious right. In the two decades since this article was published, a wealth of additional evidence has emerged to support its general argument. Sociologists Joseph O Baker and Buster G Smith summarize the sentiment driving this backlash: “If that’s what it means to be religious, then I’m not religious.”

. . .

Finally, backlash is not a one-way street – the experience of being the object of political backlash has led to a counter-backlash among the conservative Christians who comprise the religious right. White evangelical Christians believe that they are being illegitimately persecuted and are increasingly invested in the boundary between the perceived morally righteous and their enemies. Religious conservatives not committed to Trump and the Republican party are being pushed out. Those who remain are not only deeply loyal to a shared political project, but less likely to encounter internal checks on radical ideas.

Hundreds of mysterious strands found at the heart of the Milky Way

The center of our Milky Way galaxy is home to a multitude of intriguing features -- including nearly a thousand mysterious magnetic strands, according to a new telescope image.

The pairs and clusters of strands stretch for nearly 150 light-years in length and are equally spaced. The bizarre structures are a few million years old and vary in appearance. Some of them resemble harp strings, waterfalls or even the rings around Saturn.

. . .

Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, first discovered the strands 35 years ago via radio waves. He determined that the strands were made of cosmic ray electrons that were moving their magnetic fields at near the speed of light. The origin of these strands, however, has remained a mystery.

Now, astronomers were able to find 10 times more strands than Yusef-Zadeh's previous discovery, using the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory MeerKAT telescope.

Astronomers Detect Strange Signals We've Never Seen Before in Our Cosmic Vicinity

Just 4,000 light-years away, something is flashing radio waves. For roughly 30 to 60 seconds, every 18.18 minutes, it pulses brightly, one of the most luminous objects in the low-frequency radio sky. It matches the profile of no known astronomical object, and astronomers are gobsmacked. They have named it GLEAM-X J162759.5-523504.3.

"This object was appearing and disappearing over a few hours during our observations," said astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker of the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Australia.

"That was completely unexpected. It was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there's nothing known in the sky that does that. And it's really quite close to us – about 4,000 light-years away. It's in our galactic backyard."

At the moment, they believe it is most likely one of two things, both 'dead' stars: a type of ultra-magnetic neutron star called a magnetar, or, with a smaller likelihood, a highly magnetized white dwarf. If it's the former, it would be the first time we've detected a magnetar with a very long pulsation period, known as an ultra-long period magnetar.

Elon Musk says ‘don’t forget about my robots’ as Roadster, Semi, Cybertruck deadlines slip

What’s more important to Elon Musk? A hugely successful business selling critically lauded electric vehicles or the sci-fi dream of a humanoid robot that doesn’t exist outside of a slide deck?

Well, if you’re familiar with Musk’s modus operandi, you won’t be surprised that Musk has declared the latter — a non-existent robot — to be Tesla’s “most important product development” in a recent earnings call. Discussing the company’s product map for the years ahead, Musk noted that the Roadster and Semi (originally set to launch in 2020) and Cybertruck (first slated for 2021) would be in production “hopefully next year” (emphasis ours) before smoothly switching gears to talk up the Tesla Bot — a humanoid robot concept unveiled by the company last August in the form of a dancer in a spandex suit.

Here’s the quotation in full, via a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call:

So, in terms of priority of products, I think actually the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot. This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time. If you think about the economy, it is — the foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is distilled labor. So, what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about. So, very important.

Jeff Bezos Startup Hires Top Scientist to Defeat Death

Amazon founder and Elon Musk’s favorite punching bag Jeff Bezos is assembling a team of top scientists to assist in his dream of developing immortality technology.

The billionaire is funneling his money into an anti-aging startup dubbed Alto Labs, which formerly launched on Wednesday. The project has recently recruited Hal Barron, formerly the chief scientific officer at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, who has now been tapped as Alto Lab’s CEO.

“I am deeply honored to have been offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead such a unique company with a transformative mission to reverse disease,” Barron said in a press release from the startup.

Barron joins a veritable A Team of scientists tasked with defeating death, including Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the winner of the 2012 Nobel prize in medicine for his work in stem cell research, and Jennifer Doudna, the co-winner of the 2020 Nobel prize in chemistry for her role in developing the gene-editing tool CRISPR.

Even Walmart Is Worse in the Metaverse

In the video, you, the disembodied shopper, push a cart through aisles of poorly rendered consumer goods. A white, attractive and chipper virtual assistant (because service labor is feminized even in the utopia of the Metaverse) offers you a wine pairing to go with what appears to be watermelon. Your glowing hand clumsily drags the bottle into the cart, staggering a bit as it does so. Lag. A shopping list appears before your eyes, crowding your field of vision with a slurry of information. Once the item is in your cart, the shelves sink into the ground and you are left with a gray, eerie, foggy expanse as the next shopping scene emerges — a vast nothing, unsettling as it is vacuous. Cue mechanical sounds as shelves fully stocked with items rise around you once more, slowly and clumsily animated. For all its futurism, a lot of the "Metaverse" seems like a reversion to a clunky skeuomorphism we thought we left behind with the iPhone 8.

The viewer goes through various scenes like this, each lauding the conveniences of proposed Metaverse commerce. In one, the assistant informs you that your smart refrigerator has somehow called Walmart to tell you don't need milk after all, there's a gallon in the fridge. In another, you're informed that your car is waiting in the garage, your oil change is finished. When you finally get to the end of your list — which includes a TV that will be brought to your car by drone — you pay online and exit the store. Wait —— are you even in the store?

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about the Walmart video is that one is not sure where, physically the viewer is doing their Metaverse shopping. At first I assumed this ordeal took place at home, the shopper sitting alone in a dark room, connected by all kinds of wires to a virtual reality headset. But then came the bit about your car being in the Oil and Lube shop around the back, the bit about the TV being delivered via drone. No, there can only be one conclusion: The viewer has driven to Walmart and instead of simply doing their shopping in the real world, has been hooked up to a Metaverse VR station located, I don't know, maybe somewhere near customer service. If you think this is beyond stupid, congratulations — you are a well-adjusted member of society.

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