August 6, 2015

For the first time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published photos of the rock they consider sacred and believe was used by founder Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon.

Pictures of the smooth brown stone and leather pouch that it was stored in will appear in a new book, along with photos of the first printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon, The Associated Press reports. The stone has always been in the church's possession, and will go back into the vault where it has been stored. Mormons believe that in 1827, Smith was guided by an angel to a spot in present-day New York, where he found ancient gold plates engraved with "reformed Egyptian" characters. He used the stone and other tools to translate the plates into what became the Book of Mormon.

The church has been releasing more information on its history in order to be more transparent, experts say, and to clarify details that members and non-members alike can easily find on the internet. "The other churches' origins are concealed by the mist of history," said Prof. Terryl Givens of the University of Richmond. "Mormonism is the first world religion in which the origins were exposed to public view, to documentation, to journalists and newspaper reporting." Catherine Garcia

4:34 p.m.

Starting next year, the Windy City might also become a very ... hungry city.

Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois state legislature voted to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana, Vox reports. Illinois is now the eleventh state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, although the drug remains illegal under federal law. The bill passed the state House in May, in a 66-47 vote, before being sent to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign.

The legalization of recreational marijuana was a campaign promise of recently-elected Pritzker, a former businessman and philanthropist who defeated incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner last November.

The law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, will also expunge arrests for marijuana possession up to 30 grams by non-violent offenders. One-fifth of all revenue received from marijuana taxes will fund mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, and a quarter will support marijuana business ownership in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

In Chicago, the number of arrests for marijuana possession has been dropping for years, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2011, more than 21,000 people were arrested, but that number dropped to 129 in 2017, following new sentencing guidelines.

"Illinoisans have had enough," Pritzker told the Chicago Tribune. "This legalization of adult use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it's the right thing to do." Watch Pritzker officially sign the bill below. Steven Orlofsky

4:00 p.m.

Facebook will start giving French courts information on users suspected of hate speech, according to France's minister for digital affairs.

France's Cedric O told Reuters about this deal with Facebook, calling it "huge news" while adding, "It's really very important, they’re only doing it for France." The agreement, which Reuters describes as a "world first," reportedly came about after a meeting between O and Facebook's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg.

Previously, the report notes, Facebook when requested would provide French judges with information, such as IP addresses, on users in cases related to terrorist attacks or other violent activity. It didn't provide that information on users suspected of hate speech until now, though, because "it was not compelled to do so under U.S.-French legal conventions and because it was worried countries without an independent judiciary could abuse it," Reuters writes.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month held a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as France considers a law that could potentially fine social media platforms that don't do enough to remove hateful content by up to four percent of their global revenue. O says guidelines will be provided on what would be considered hateful, Engadget reports. Facebook did not comment on Reuters' report. Brendan Morrow

3:45 p.m.

President Trump's words are rock-solid if you ask Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Graham on Tuesday was asked about author E. Jean Carroll's allegation that President Trump raped her in the 1990s. Trump has denied the allegation, while arguing "she's not my type." The senator, apparently, is satisfied with the president's response.

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at first gave a less surefire response to a similar question during a press conference on Tuesday, but he also refrained from challenging Trump's stance, instead opting to highlight his ignorance on the subject entirely.

He did, however, add that he does believe the president, The Hill reports.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) simply pleaded the fifth. Tim O'Donnell

3:25 p.m.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) has an interesting take on how migrant detention centers work.

The Republican appeared Monday night on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes to defend Customs and Border Protection for its alleged abuse of migrant children detained along the border. After all, as Burgess put it, if the children had a problem with their reportedly unsanitary living conditions, they could just leave.

"There's not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at anytime, but they don't," Burgess told MSNBC on the Monday segment. "You know why? Because they are well taken care of," he added.

Criticism of CBP under President Trump has surged in the past week as lawyers claim nearly 300 children at a Clint, Texas detention center weren't provided with toothbrushes and soap and lacked sufficient medical care. Most of the children were moved from the facility to a tent camp by Monday, but about 100 of them were reportedly moved back to the facility on Tuesday. Burgess mentioned that he hadn't visited the facility in Clint, but disputed the reported conditions, saying that "the hatred for this president is so intense that people will say anything."

Burgess failed to mention how children as young as two and a half years old would fend for themselves if they left the detention facility, let alone how they would open the door. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:22 p.m.

NASA on Tuesday announced a nationwide contest to help select the name for its next Mars rover, planned to launch in July 2020.

The contest, expected to begin in the fall of 2019, will give K-12 students in the U.S. the "chance to make history" by naming the rover, NASA said. It's aimed at students in order to engage more young people across the country in the scientific work that goes into NASA's various exploratory missions. Contests like this one are an opportunity to "invite young students and educators to be a part of this journey," said George Tahu, NASA's Mars 2020 program executive.

But K-12 students aren't the only ones who can be a part of the contest in some way — NASA has also opened registration for people to judge the contest. Presumably, the judging process will aim to weed out names like Rovery McRoverface.

The rover, regardless of its eventual name, will be sent to Mars in order to gather information about the red planet's climate and geology, as well as collecting potential signs of life. Learn more about the 2020 Mars rover at NASA, or read about its naming contest here. Shivani Ishwar

2:55 p.m.

Wayfair employees seem to be staging a walkout on Wednesday, but it's not part of a fight for higher wages or expanded benefits, The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday.

Instead, a Twitter account that appears to be run by employees organizing the walkout said 547 workers at the home goods company signed a petition asking that the company stop conducting business at the southern border where Wayfair's beds were apparently sold to furnish migrant detention facilities — a decision which, one anonymous employee told the Globe, was disheartening and concerning for some of the company's workforce.

The petition was allegedly rejected by the company's higher-ups, leading the organizers to arrange a work stoppage on Wednesday afternoon. In addition, the employees are asking that Wayfair donate all its profits made from the sale to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which has applauded the Wayfair employees.

The letter below, which was promoted by the aforementioned Twitter account and was seemingly written by Wayfair employees, says that Wayfair engaged in $200,000 sales with a nonprofit government contractor managing camps for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which the employees reportedly feel makes Wayfair complicit in "furthering the inhumane actions" of the U.S. government.

The Globe reports Wayfair's executives sent an unsigned letter addressing the employees' concerns, which said they "believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate." Tim O'Donnell

2:27 p.m.

It's an exciting time to be a capuchin monkey.

Modern humans' ancestors went through a Stone Age about 3 million years ago, marked by their use of stone to create tools for all kinds of purposes, from hunting to construction. And while other non-human species have been known to use stones as tools from time to time, the capuchin monkey has shown evidence of having a true Stone Age of its own, Science News reports.

The evidence comes from a study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution this week. An archaeological site in Brazil uncovered stone tools used by capuchin monkeys from various times over the past 3,000 years. The capuchins' use of stone tools has actually changed over time, which is what makes it different from other primates' habits — over the course of the monkeys' Stone Age, as their environment has adapted, they've adapted their tools to suit their needs.

This doesn't necessarily mean that these little primates will eventually progress to their own Bronze Age and Iron Age like humans did, but it's still a remarkable find. Maybe with enough time, capuchins will find their own ways to evolve — and one day, inherit the Earth.

Read more at Science News. Shivani Ishwar

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