1. Neil deGrasse Tyson is accused of sexual misconduct. Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University said that a groping incident happened in 2009 when Neil noticed her tattoo and grabbed her to look at it. Tchiya Amet said that Tyson raped her in his apartment when they were grad students together. The third woman, former assistant to Tyson, Ashley Watson, said she was forced to quit her job due to his inappropriate sexual advances. Neil deGrasse Tyson responded to the allegations with a lengthy post on Facebook. An investigation will be conducted.
2. The UN said that measles cases around the world jumped more than 30% last year compared to 2016. Experts blamed the problem in part of misinformation and complacency about a vaccine in Europe. In Venezuela, the crippling political and economic crisis triggered the massive inflation. Over the last 12 months, Germany, Russia and Venezuela, have had their measles elimination certificate withdrawn.
3. During George H.W. Bush‘s funeral, President Trump did not recite the Apostle's Creed, a famous Christian prayer. The program calls for the prayers to be said in unison but President Trump stood with his hands folded in front of him, the program in his left hand, his lips not moving.
4. Johan Huibers, a Dutch architect, finished building a full-scale version of Noah's Ark. Inspired by the ark's description in the book of Genesis, it is 427 ft long, 95 ft wide, and 75 ft high. The projected started in 2008 which he worked on with seven people. He wants to sail the ark to Israel.
5. Michael Raj, the Cedar Hill School Principal in Montville, sent a letter to parents and apologized to them regarding the issue of a substitute teacher who told the class that Santa is not real. He said that he is aware of the situation and spoke to the substitute teacher about "her poor judgment." A parent, Lisa Simek, said that the teacher told students Santa isn't real and parents just buy presents and put them under their tree. She added that the teacher tried to ruin the spirit of other holidays.
6. The "Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act" is a bill that Oklahoma Republican State Sen. Joseph Silk plans to introduce this February when the legislature is in session. It would give a fertilized egg all the same "rights, powers, privileges, justice and protections" as adult humans. Under this new bill, women who have abortions commit murder and could spend their lives in prison.
7. In an interview published on Saturday, Pope Francis said the issue of homosexuality is very serious and that there is no room for "fashionable" homosexuality and gay priests should leave. The church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry.
8. 32-year-old telecom technician, activist and model Rehana Fathima was stopped by protesters from entering the Sabarimala shrine which has been historically been closed to all women of "menstruating age". The shrine management says the ban on women is also because the temple deity Lord Ayyappa was a bachelor. In Hinduism, menstruating women are regarded as unclean and not participate in religious rituals. India's Supreme Court overturned the ban in September which allows woman of all ages to visit the temple. Ms. Fathima and one female journalist trekked to the hilltop shrine and managed to reach the main temple premises in October. They were accompanied by more than 100 policemen but they had to return after a stand-off with devotees metres from the temple sanctum. She was arrested at her office and was sent to prison for 14 days to allow investigation. Her employer suspended her until investigations are complete.
She posted a selfie on Facebook in October in which she was dressed in black (the colour most Lord Ayyappa devotees wear, her forehead smeared with sandalwood paste in the Hindu tradition, and her knees pulled up in front to mimic the classic Ayyappa pose. her friend said once she put up the photograph on Facebook, she received many abusive comments and even rape threats. After complaints that her photograph was "sexually explicit" and wounded the religious feelings of Lord Ayyappa's devotees, the police registered a case against her. She pleaded but the court rejected which paves the way for her arrest.
9. Sheri and Alyssa Monk, a married couple who worked together as paramedics and volunteer firefighters in a small town in Alberta, Canada were apparently forced out of their jobs merely because they are lesbians. They said that they were expected not to talk about their personal lives or even use the word "wife". The filed a complaint with Alberta's Human Rights Commission about how they were treated.
10. Albert Einstein's "God Letter" was sold for $2.9 million. It is a handwritten letter by the theoretical physicist in which he grapples with the concept of religion. It was written in 1954, before his death and remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views. He wrote:
“The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses,” he writes. “The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.”
It continues: “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this.”