Warren Buffett Has Secretly Given Millions To Support Reproductive Health, Research For IUD Technology

Warren Buffett is in the house — advocating for women in a critical but little-talked-about way.

A recent report in Bloomberg Business titled “Warren Buffett’s Family Secretly Funded a Birth Control Revolution,” reveals that the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation donated huge sums to organizations dedicated to contraception and women’s health research, specifically the development and accessibility of intrauterine devices (IUDs).

According to Bloomberg, in 2013, the foundation gave away nearly half a billion dollars to organizations supporting reproductive health.

Judith DeSarno, the Foundation’s former director for domestic programs, explains part of Buffett’s reasoning for these donations, the majority of them being private, in a 2008 interview not made public until Thursday’s Bloomberg report.

“For Warren, it’s economic,” she says. “He thinks that unless women can control their fertility—and that it’s basically their right to control their fertility—that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States.”

The findings were dug up by Bloomberg Business reporter Karen Weise, who explains the relative quiet surrounding the issue: “…Contraception is so politically and legally radioactive that legislators and pharmaceutical companies avoid funding it,” she writes. “Very few people will discuss The Anonymous Donor on the record, but tax filings, medical journal disclosures, and an archived interview with a foundation official show the funds come from Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, and his family.”

The charitable foundation, which was first established in the 1960s as the Buffett Foundation, was later named for Buffett’s first wife following her death in 2004. Susan formerly served as president of the organization, with Warren and his family taking over management after she died.

These major donations further establish reproductive rights as a priority of the Foundation. According to Inside Philanthropy, the Susan Thompson —> Read More

Vatican Scientist Thinks Aliens May Exist — But Not An Alien Jesus

NASA scientists are getting closer to determining whether there is life on other planets — and the enthusiasm about aliens has spread to the Vatican.

Nasa’s Kepler mission announced last month that it had discovered an Earth-like planet in a solar system light years away that may have all the conditions necessary for the existence of intelligent beings.

News about the planet, which NASA is calling Kepler-452b, has “thrilled” researchers at the Vatican Observatory, a branch of the papacy that has been studying the stars since 1582, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Rev. José Gabriel Funes, an astronomer who directs the observatory, said he’s open to the possibility of extraterrestrial life and has been for quite some time. Funes finds no contradiction between Catholic theology and the belief in aliens. He has said in the past that humans shouldn’t put limits on God’s creative freedom.

However, Funes draws the line at the idea of an alien Jesus.

“The discovery of intelligent life does not mean there’s another Jesus,” Funes told AFP. “The incarnation of the son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity, of the universe.”

Funes said he also doubts whether humans will “ever meet a Mr. Spock.”

Funes is likely right about that. Kepler-452b is 1,400 light years from Earth. According to NBC, it would take a space probe constructed with with current technology about 28 million years to reach the planet.

The Catholic Church hasn’t shied away from confronting theories about extraterrestrial life. According to The Independent, the Vatican uses the example of the early Christians baptizing gentiles as an example of how the church would treat aliens.

Pope Francis last year took up the —> Read More

Will SETI’s Unprecedented New Program Finally Find E.T.?

Image Credit: Breakthrough Initatives

Image Credit: Breakthrough Initatives

Stephen Hawking, Frank Drake and dozens of journalists gathered at the Royal Society in London last week to hear astronomers announce a ground-breaking new project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life called “Breakthrough Listen.” They will be using two of the world’s largest radio telescopes (Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia) to listen for radio messages from intelligent alien species. Scientists have chosen to target the nearest million stars as well as the nearest 100 galaxies. This project will also monitor the Galactic plane for months at a time. This unprecedented effort is a collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, and employs an international team of astronomers and data scientists, including Frank Drake – the father of SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence).
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Kirk, Spock and Sulu Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before — Charon!

This image contains the initial, informal names being used by the New Horizons team for the features on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. Names were selected based on the input the team received from the Our Pluto naming campaign. Names have not yet been approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Click for a pdf. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

This image contains the initial, informal names being used by the New Horizons team for the features on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. Names were selected based on the input the team received from the Our Pluto naming campaign. Names have not yet been approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Click for a large pdf file. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

A big smile. That was my reaction to seeing the names of Uhura, Spock, Kirk and Sulu on the latest map of Pluto’s jumbo moon Charon. The monikers are still only informal, but new maps of Charon and Pluto submitted to the IAU for approval feature some of our favorite real life and sci-fi characters. Come on — Vader Crater? How cool is that?(…)
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Eerie New Asteroid Video Reveals Giant ‘Space Peanut’

With the help of a pair of giant radio telescopes, scientists have captured eerie new video of an asteroid as it whizzed by Earth last month.

Known formally as 1999 JD6, the space rock is being called a “space peanut” because of its elongated shape and twin lobes.

What explains the lobes?

One possibility is that a couple of “big chunks” came together at some point, asteroid expert Dr. Amy Mainzer, principal investigator for NASA’s NEOWISE space telescope program, told The Huffington Post in an email. Another possibility, she said, is that the asteroid–which is about 1.2 miles across at its widest point–is what’s left over after a larger asteroid survived some kind of impact.

In any case, the peanut shape isn’t particularly unusual.

“Radar imaging has shown that about 15 percent of near-Earth asteroids larger than 600 feet [about 180 meters], including 1999 JD6, have this sort of lobed, peanut shape,” Dr. Lance Benner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. and leader of the space agency’s asteroid radar research program, said in a written statement.

(Story continues below image.)

Radar images of asteroid 1999 JD6 as seen on July 25, 2015.

Known technically as a “contact binary” asteroid, 1999 JD6 made its closest approach to Earth at 12:55 a.m. EDT on July 25, when it passed by our planet at a distance of about 3.5 million miles. That’s about 19 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

The video is made up of images captured over an eight-hour period. NASA created it via a technique known as bistatic observation: the 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. beamed a radar signal at 1999 JD6, and the reflected signal was received by the Green Bank Telescope —> Read More

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