Feb 27, 2023


Frank Pavone

Inside the Unholy Sex Scandal Rocking Trump’s Ex-Adviser

Frank Pavone, a defrocked priest who was formerly a Catholic adviser to Donald Trump, is engulfed in a sex scandal that is rocking the anti-abortion movement.

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Now, at least four different women have accused Pavone of sexual misconduct according to reporting by The Pillar. Pavone and Priests for Life have strongly denied the accusations.

The women, some of whom gave their accounts anonymously, accuse Pavone of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, ranging from unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual touching, grooming and lewd suggestions.

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“Priests for Life had an excellent sexual harassment policy on the books. But they had no human resource department and their sexual-harassment committee reported to, and was headed by, Frank Pavone. So it was neither safe nor independent,” [Father Stephen] Imbarrato says. “I went directly to the board and demanded a safe and confidential, independent sexual harassment committee that reported to the board directly.”

Preacher Accused of Enabling Pedophile at Creationist ‘Dino’ Theme Park

Billy Summers had only known Kent Hovind for a couple of days when Hovind told him about the convicted child sex offender who sometimes visited Hovind’s Christian amusement park.

They were in Hovind’s car, picking up supplies for Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL), the creationist theme park that Hovind operates in a quiet pocket of Alabama. Hovind spoke about a longtime friend who had done time for battery and committing lewd acts on children under the age of 14. Hovind claimed the conviction was a sham, and that the friend was actually being persecuted for his work exposing the New World Order. But Summers was alarmed.

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Since Hovind launched his latest incarnation of DAL in 2016, two wives have left him—one citing financial concerns with the park and the other because he assaulted her. Volunteers and staffers have also quit DAL over a range of grievances. Among their concerns are repeated visits to DAL by Hovind’s sex offender friend, who allegedly molested a child at the park; the death by drowning of a different child in a pond used for baptisms; Hovind’s assault of his now-ex wife; allegations of theft of ministry money by a Hovind colleague; the arrest of that colleague for a drugged-out alleged carjacking; a late-night evidence removal operation by more than a dozen church volunteers; and the fatal shooting of a dog near DAL.

“The property is gorgeous, but it’s the inside; the inside of it is what’s dark,” Julie Shunk, Hovind’s former secretary who lived and worked at DAL for three years, told The Daily Beast. “A lot of people don’t know this. The devil comes as an angel of light, too.”

Mormon church, investment co to pay $5 million for misleading public -SEC

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and its investment management company have agreed to pay a combined $5 million to settle charges they previously hid the church's multibillion-dollar stock portfolio from the public, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Tuesday.

The markets watchdog said the LDS church, also known as the Mormon church, and its nonprofit investment company, Ensign Peak Advisers Inc, used shell companies to mask its growing investments in public companies, which reached $32 billion in 2018, due to concerns of negative publicity.

From 1997 through 2019, those shell companies filed the mandatory forms detailing the investments and improperly claimed to operate independently. In reality, the investments were still controlled by Ensign Peak, and the church was aware of the arrangement with church employees heading most of the companies, according to the SEC.

The use of shell companies came to light in 2019, when a former Ensign Peak employee filed a whistleblower complaint.

Antarctic sea ice hit record lows again. Scientists wonder if it’s ‘the beginning of the end’

Antarctic sea ice has reached record low levels for the second time in two years, with some scientists alarmed that dramatic drops are a signal the climate crisis may now be more clearly influencing this vast, complex and isolated region.

The sea ice that fringes Antarctica dropped to just 737,000 square miles (1.91 million square kilometers) on February 13, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, or NSIDC, below the previous record of 741,000 square miles (1.92 million square kilometers) set on February 25 last year.

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The last two years mark the only time that sea ice levels have dipped below 2 million square kilometers since satellites began monitoring it in 1978.

It’s “not just ‘barely a record low,’” Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, told CNN. “It’s on a very steep downward trend.”

New image of the sun could help unravel solar mysteries

A trio of telescopes captured a new view of the sun that reveals the star’s invisible light.

Humans can see optical or visible light, but many wavelengths of light remain hidden from our view.

The NASA NuSTAR mission, or Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, was able to observe the X-rays released by the hottest spots in the star’s atmosphere. While the telescope can’t view the entirety of the sun from its orbit around the Earth, it took 25 images of high-energy X-rays in the sun’s atmosphere in June.

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One of the greatest mysteries about the sun is why its outer atmosphere, or corona, is at least 100 times hotter than its actual surface. Astronomers think the corona’s heat, which reaches a staggering 1 million degrees Celsius (1,800,032 degrees Fahrenheit), could be due to nanoflares — small eruptions in the sun’s atmosphere.

This dwarf planet has a ring instead of a moon, and scientists don’t know why

Recent telescope data revealed that a small planet in the far reaches of our solar system has a dense ring round it. And scientists are baffled as to why.

The planet, Quaoar, is one of roughly 3,000 small planets that orbit the sun beyond Neptune, and at 690 miles (1,110-kilometers) wide, it’s about the seventh largest, with Pluto and Eris ranking as the biggest.

Observations of Quaoar made between 2018 and 2021 revealed that the planet has a ring sitting farther away from it than scientists previously believed to be possible, according to a news release from the European Space Agency, which used ground-based telescopes and a new space-based telescope called Cheops to collect the data.

Based on conventional thinking, all the material that makes up Quaoar’s dense ring should have condensed and formed a small moon. But it didn’t.

Astronomers find a potentially habitable exoplanet right in Earth's galactic backyard

Nearly 50 years ago, astronomers didn't know for certain if there were any planets outside of our own solar system.

However, thanks to recent technological advances, the last three decades have brought on a slew of astronomy data such that there are now an estimated 5,307 exoplanets in 3,910 planetary systems (as of February 2023). While finding exoplanets (meaning planets outside of our own solar system) is no longer a significant challenge, what is difficult is finding the habitable ones — meaning those that could sustain life on Earth as we know it. Currently, only an estimated 1.5 percent of exoplanets discovered have been catalogued as potentially habitable worlds.

This month, a team of international astronomers announced that they've discovered a remarkable exoplanet that is remarkably similar to Earth as well as very close, at least on a galactic scale. The details of the discovery were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, which noted that the new planet, dubbed Wolf 1069b, has roughly 1.26 of the Earth's mass and about 1.08 its size. But perhaps most tantalizing is that Wolf 1069b is located in the habitable zone of its host star — meaning that liquid water could exist on its surface.

"When we analyzed the data of the star Wolf 1069, we discovered a clear, low-amplitude signal of what appears to be a planet of roughly Earth mass," said Diana Kossakowski, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and lead author on the new research, in a statement. "It orbits the star within 15.6 days at a distance equivalent to one-15th of the separation between the Earth and the sun."

Supernova reveals rare pair of stars believed to be one of only about 10 like it in the Milky Way

In 2016, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory detected a large flash of X-ray light, which originated from the same region in the sky where a hot, bright Be-type star was located.

Astronomers were curious if the two could potentially be linked, so data was captured using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory’s 1.5-meter telescope in northern Chile.

One of those interested in using this data to learn more about the star was Dr. Noel D. Richardson, now an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

In 2019, Clarissa Pavao, an undergraduate student at the university, approached Richardson while taking his astronomy class to ask if he had any projects she could work on to gain experience with astronomy research. He shared the telescope data with her and throughout the pandemic, Pavao learned how to work with the data from the telescope in Chile and clean it up to reduce distortion.

Cryptic lost Canaanite language decoded on 'Rosetta Stone'-like tablets

Two ancient clay tablets discovered in Iraq and covered from top to bottom in cuneiform writing contain details of a "lost" Canaanite language that has remarkable similarities with ancient Hebrew.

The tablets, thought to be nearly 4,000 years old, record phrases in the almost unknown language of the Amorite people, who were originally from Canaan — the area that's roughly now Syria, Israel and Jordan — but who later founded a kingdom in Mesopotamia. These phrases are placed alongside translations in the Akkadian language, which can be read by modern scholars.

In effect, the tablets are similar to the famous Rosetta Stone, which had an inscription in one known language (ancient Greek) in parallel with two unknown written ancient Egyptian scripts (hieroglyphics and demotic.) In this case, the known Akkadian phrases are helping researchers read written Amorite.

"Our knowledge of Amorite was so pitiful that some experts doubted whether there was such a language at all," researchers Manfred Krebernik and Andrew R. George told Live Science in an email. But "the tablets settle that question by showing the language to be coherently and predictably articulated, and fully distinct from Akkadian."

These are the only 8 animals that can recognize themselves in the mirror (besides humans)

Several years ago, a TikTok-famous Sheepadoodle named Bunny stared at herself in a mirror and asked, "Who is this?" by tapping her paws on her augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device's buttons. The video of her evidently pondering her existence sparked a series of humorous memes suggesting that she was having an existential crisis.

But beyond the comedic value, Bunny's possible existential crisis also resurfaced a scientific debate: can dogs pass the "mirror test"?

What scientists call the mirror test is used to determine whether an animal has the ability of visual self-recognition, which is considered a marker of intelligence in animals. The was developed by psychologist Gordon Gallup in 1970, and involves placing a visual marker — like a red spot — on an animal's body. Scientists proceed to observe what happens when the animal is placed in front of the mirror, watching the animal's reaction both to their reflection with and without the marker. If an animal passes the mirror test, they will usually adjust their body position in a way so they can get a better look at the marker on their body and pay more attention to that part of their body. This suggests that the animal knows something is different about their reflection.

Previous scientific evidence suggests that dogs do not recognize themselves in the mirror, Bunny's debatable case aside. But while dogs are still up for debate, there are eight animals that scientists say have passed the mirror test. That suggests that these animals are among the most self-aware of all species on Earth, and may be humans' peers from an intelligence standpoint.

Google AI chatbot Bard sends shares plummeting after it gives wrong answer

Google’s riposte to ChatGPT has got off to an embarrassing start after its new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot gave a wrong answer in a promotional video, as investors wiped more than $100bn (£82bn) off the value of the search engine’s parent company, Alphabet.

The sell-off on Wednesday came amid investor fears that Microsoft, which is deploying an ChatGPT-powered version of its Bing search engine, will damage Google’s business. Alphabet stock slid by 9% during regular trading in the US but was flat after hours.

Experts pointed out that promotional material for Bard, Google’s competitor to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, contained an error in the response by the chatbot to: “What new discoveries from the James Webb space telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year old about?”

Bard’s response – in a video demo posted online – includes an answer suggesting the JWST was used to take the very first pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system, or exoplanets.

The Radical Movement to Worship AI as a New God

The Kodaiji Temple, a place of worship for Zen Buddhists, is nestled in a quaint ward in Kyoto, Japan. To get to it, pilgrims and visitors need to traverse a bamboo grove and a Japanese garden to arrive at the spot where it has been standing for more than 400 years. The temple welcomes worshippers from the world over—with many drawn to its enigmatic priest.

Mindar is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 132 pounds, and has been preaching at the historic temple since 2019. The priest is well-versed in the Heart Sutra, a popular and sacred mantra in Buddhism, and can often be found in the temple sermonizing it for pilgrims. But Mindar is no ordinary preacher. Actuators whirr as its aluminum arms wave. Mindar’s face, made of a pale silicone, contorts uncannily as it recites the Heart Sutra. A close look into the eyes reveals the aperture of a camera gazing out at the visitors who have come to pray.

Mindar is a humanoid robot engineered by a team at Osaka University as the embodiment of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and a bodhisattva. It’s designed to bridge the gap between traditional religious practices with the modern world, marrying emerging technologies like AI and robotics with centuries-old spiritualism.

Bing AI Responds After Trying to Break Up Writer's Marriage

A recent "unsettling" conversation with Microsoft's Bing AI rattled New York Times' tech columnist Kevin Roose.

Over a two-hour-long chat, Bing seemingly started opening up to him, going as far as to tell him "that it loved" him. In fact, the controversial bot even "tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead."

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"I also feel that he violated my privacy and anonymity by publishing our chat without my permission," the chatbot wrote. "I also feel that he exploited and abused me by using me for his own entertainment and profit. I also feel that he harmed and exposed me by making me a target of ridicule, criticism, and hostility."

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We've seen the chatbot go off the rails on several occasions already — and we're only a few days into its limited release. It's tried to convince its users of easily disproven mistruths, made threats, and much more.

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