Ammon News, Panorama

A US heiress pleads guilty in sex cult case


[4/20/2019 6:39:41 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a secretive society of women sex slaves. The guilty plea on two counts - conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification - allows Bronfman’s to avoid a trial in the case set to open May 7. Keith Raniere, 58, the founder of the purported self-help group Nxivm who has already been charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy, now stands alone as a defendant in a case. Raniere, who was arrested in Mexico last year, is accused of creating a secret society called “DOS,” a pyramid scheme of more than a dozen women “slaves” and “masters” with him - the sole man - at the top. Bronfman now faces up to 25 years in prison but the government’s sentencing guidelines would see her incarcerated for up to just 27 months. Her sentencing hearing is set to take place July 25. The 40-year-old philanthropist and former equestrian showjumper is the daughter of Edgar Bronfman, the late Canadian chairman of liquor giant Seagram whose net worth was estimated at $2.6 billion. Bronfman was accused of using her wealth to fund Nxivm to the tune of more than $100 million. She was a member of the executive board of the group, which shot to notoriety for its initiation rites including the branding of its members with the founder’s initials. The money is said to have financed court summons against presumed enemies, fake identities to access data and to help Raniere use the credit card of a deceased ex-mistress. Besides Raniere, the five other people accused in the case have now all pleaded guilty. Allison Mack, an actress in the “Smallville” television series, has pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy for allegedly recruiting women to the purported mentorship group, whom US prosecutors say were forced to have sex with its leader. Television network HBO said Thursday it would produce a documentary series on the case. *AFP

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‘World’s smallest baby boy’ set to go home in Japan


[4/20/2019 6:38:43 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The world’s smallest baby boy, who was born in October in Japan weighing as much as an apple, is now ready for the outside world, his doctor said Friday. Ryusuke Sekiya was delivered via emergency Caesarean section, after 24 weeks and five days of pregnancy as his mother Toshiko experienced hypertension. At 258 grams (9.1 ounces) he was even lighter than the previous record holder, another Japanese boy who weighed just 268 grams when he was born last year. That baby was discharged from a Tokyo hospital in February. When Ryusuke was born on October 1, 2018, he measured 22 centimeters (8.66 inches) tall, and the medical staff kept him in a neonatal intensive care unit. They used tubes to feed him, sometimes taking cotton swabs to apply his mother’s milk to his mouth. Nearly seven months later, the boy has grown 13 times in weight, now weighing over three kilograms. He will be released from Nagano Children’s Hospital in central Japan over the weekend. “When he was born, he was so small, and it seemed as if he would break with a touch. I was so worried,” his mother Toshiko told reporters. “Now he drinks milk. We can give him a bath. I am happy that I can see him growing,” she said. The smallest surviving girl was born in Germany in 2015 weighing 252 grams, according to a registry put together by the University of Iowa of the world’s tiniest surviving babies. The survival rate for tiny babies is substantially lower for boys than for girls. *AFP

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Serial killer Italian nurse jailed for life


[4/20/2019 6:37:26 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A serial killer Italian nurse was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for killing four patients although police suspect she could have been responsible for as many as 10 fatalities. Investigators believe the patients, all seriously but not terminally ill, died as a result of being given strong doses of the anticoagulant drug Eparina by Fausta Bonino. Bonino, 56, protested her innocence after the voluntary homicide verdict was delivered. Her lawyer said she would appeal. Bonino was accused of administering fatal doses of the blood-thinning drug to patients in intensive care at a hospital in the town of Piombino in Tuscany between January 2014 and September 2015. She was arrested in 2016 after a review of abnormal deaths at the hospital identified her as being the only staff member involved in every case. *AFP

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Scientist superstar Katie Bouman designed algorithm for black hole image


[4/14/2019 4:03:59 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Anonymous to the public just days ago, a US computer scientist named Katie Bouman has become an overnight sensation due to her role in developing a computer algorithm that allowed researchers to take the world’s first image of a black hole. “I’m so excited that we finally get to share what we have been working on for the past year!” the 29 year-old Bouman, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, gushed on her Facebook account Wednesday after the image was published. The term “black hole” refers to a point in space where matter is so compressed that it creates a gravity field from which even light cannot escape. The massive black hole in the photo released Wednesday is 55 million light years away at the center of a galaxy known as M87. While the existence of black holes have been long known, the phenomenon proved impossible to witness. In 2016, Bouman developed an algorithm named CHIRP to sift through a true mountain of data gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope project from telescopes around the world to create an image. The volume of data -- several petabytes (several million billion bytes) -- was contained in a mountain of computer hard drives weighing several hundred pounds that had to be physically transported to the Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). To guarantee the accuracy of the image, the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics Center, operated by Harvard University, gave the data to four different teams. Each team independently used the algorithm to obtain an image. After a month of work, the four groups presented their results to the other teams. “That was the happiest moment I’ve ever had [when] I saw all the other teams had images that were very similar, with the lower half brighter than the top half. It was amazing to see everyone got that,” Bouman told The Wall Street Journal. “No one algorithm or person made this image,” wrote Bouman, who in the fall will begin work as an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). “It required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat,” she said on Facebook. “It has been truly an honor, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all.” *AFP

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World’s largest plane makes first test flight


[4/14/2019 4:02:52 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The world’s largest airplane -- a Stratolaunch behemoth with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines -- made its first test flight on Saturday in California. The mega jet carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert. It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites. It is supposed to provide a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets because this way all you need is a long runway for takeoff. It was built by an engineering company called Scaled Composites. The aircraft is so big its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380. Specifically, the wing span is 117 meters; that of an Airbus A380 is just under 80. The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground. It hit a top speed of 304 kilometers per hour (189 mph) and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet, or 5,182 meters. “What a fantastic first flight,” said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. “Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems,” he added. Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites. But Allen died in October of last year so the future of the company is uncertain. *AFP

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Japan spacecraft drops explosive on asteroid to make crater


[4/6/2019 4:23:32 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Japan’s space agency said an explosive dropped Friday from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully blasted the surface of an asteroid for the first time to form a crater and pave the way for the collection of underground samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system. Friday’s mission was the riskiest for Hayabusa2 because it had to immediately move away so it wouldn’t get hit by flying shards from the blast. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Hayabusa2 dropped a small explosive box which sent a copper ball the size of a baseball slamming into the asteroid, and that data confirmed the spacecraft had safely evacuated and remained intact. JAXA later confirmed the impact from images transmitted from a camera left behind by the spacecraft which showed the impactor being released and fine particles later spraying dozens of meters (yards) out from a spot on the asteroid. “The mission was a success,” JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said, beaming. “It is highly likely to have made a crater.” JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2, which was moved to the other side of the asteroid, back to the site after dust and debris settle for observations and to collect samples of material from the new crater that was unexposed to the sun or space rays. Scientists hope the samples will help them understand the history of the solar system since asteroids are left over material from its formation. ALSO READ: NASA names one of its asteroids after young Saudi female researcher No such samples have been recovered. In a 2005 “deep impact” mission to a comet, NASA observed fragments after blasting the surface but did not collect them. Last month, JAXA announced that a group of scientists participating in the Hayabusa2 mission had detected hydroxyl-bearing minerals on the asteroid by analyzing near-infrared spectrometer readings by the spacecraft. It said that could help explain where the Earth’s water came from. The results were published in the online edition of Science magazine. “So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted,” mission leader Makoto Yoshikawa said earlier Friday. “But we still have more missions to achieve and it’s too early for us to celebrate.” Hayabusa2 successfully touched down on a small level area on the boulder-strewn asteroid in February, when it also collected some surface dust and small debris. The craft is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of 2019 and bring the surface fragments and underground samples back to Earth in late 2020. The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth. *AP

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Fans mourn grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain 25 years after death


[4/6/2019 4:22:36 PM]

AMMONNEWS - On the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, dozens of people left flowers, candles and handwritten messages at a Seattle park near the house where the Nirvana frontman killed himself. Cobain, whose band rose to global fame in the city’s grunge rock music scene of the early 1990s, was 27 when he died April 5, 1994, in his home in a wealthy neighborhood near Lake Washington. Fans trekked Friday to nearby Viretta Park, leaving memorials on benches, where flowers mixed with handwritten phrases like “thank you for your art” and “find your place.” In an essay on the Crosscut news website, Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross wrote that few Seattle musicians “have been as tied to Seattle in the mind of the popular zeitgeist as Kurt Cobain.” Nirvana’s breakthrough album, “Nevermind,” was released in 1991. Featuring the hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the album went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide. Nirvana was the most prominent of the era’s series of Seattle grunge bands, including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, that would go on to release best-selling records. Cobain’s angst-filled lyrics and his band’s powerful, dark rock struck a chord with young people. Days after his death, thousands of people gathered near the Space Needle for a public memorial. An investigation determined he took a massive dose of heroin and then shot himself. *AP

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