Tiger King Joe Exotic fails to nab Trump pardon – CNET

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Joe Exotic -- before prison.

Netflix

As President Donald Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, there was something he skipped: a pardon for Joe Exotic. 

On Monday, a rep for Exotic expressed confidence Tuesday would bring a pardon for the Oklahoma zookeeper made famous by the wildly popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The rep, Eric Love, even said Exotic had a limo on standby Tuesday outside the Texas prison where he's currently serving a 22-year sentence.

"This time tomorrow, we're going to be celebrating,' Love told Metro.co.uk

Yet Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, wasn't on the list of the 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued by Trump during his final hours. Recipients included former chief strategist Steve Bannonformer Uber and Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, and rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

Maldonado-Passage became a meme-able internet sensation owing to the stranger-than-fiction Tiger King series, which started streaming in March 2019. The show detailed his bitter feud with nemesis Carole Baskin, owner of a big-cat sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.

Maldonado-Passage was found guilty of involvement in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Baskin. He was also found guilty on counts of falsifying wildlife records, killing tigers and selling tigers interstate. He began serving his sentence in early 2019.

Buzz of a possible pardon for Maldonado-Passage began in early December.

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President Trump pardons rapper Lil Wayne, commutes Kodak Black’s sentence – CNET

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Prince Williams/Wireimage

President Donald Trump has granted a full pardon to rapper Lil Wayne, who last month plead guilty to felony gun possession and faced up to 10 years in prison. The singer/songwriter/producer, whose real name is Wayne Michael Carter Jr., was found carrying a gold-plated handgun in his luggage on a private flight to South Florida. 

Wayne's sentencing hearing had been scheduled for Jan. 28.

Carter's pardon was one of a flurry of pardons and commuted sentences issued by the chief executive during his final hours in office before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. In total, Trump granted pardons to 73 people, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding donors, as well as ex-Uber and Google self-driving-car engineer Anthony Levandowski, who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets. 

Some pardons allegedly come with a price tag of $2 million, The New York Times reported Sunday.

In addition to pardons, Trump commuted the sentences of an additional 70 people. The commutations include one for singer/songwriter Bill K. Kapri, better known as Kodak Black. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison for making a false statement on a federal document when trying to procure firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer and has served nearly half of his sentence. 

"Before his conviction and after reaching success as a recording artist, Kodak Black became deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts," reads a statement from the White House announcing the raft of last-minute executive actions. "In fact, he has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged." 

The statement also points to Lil Wayne's charitable efforts. Football player and football coach Deion Sanders, who wrote in support of the rapper's application for a pardon, called the musician "a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer."

During last year's presidential campaign, Lil Wayne tweeted a photo of himself with Trump, saying he had a "great meeting" with the president and supported his criminal justice reform program and economic plan for African Americans. 

Many consider the Grammy Award-winning Lil Wayne to be one of the most influential hip hop artists of his generation, and one of the greatest rappers ever. 

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See the world’s oldest cave painting, a warty pig dating back 45,500 years – CNET

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Researchers believe this painting of a pig is the oldest known drawing depicting an animal.  

Maxime Aubert

More than 45,000 years ago, ancient artists scrawled a detailed image of a wild pig on a cave wall in Indonesia. Researchers believe it's the world's oldest cave painting, as well as the earliest known surviving depiction of the animal world. 

A team from Australia's Griffith University found the remarkably well-preserved image in the limestone karsts of Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo. The image depicts a life-size suid -- four legs, tail, snout, ears, bristles, face warts and all -- in red and purplish pigment made from pulverized ochre mixed with liquid. Above the pig's rotund rear end, two stenciled human handprints appear, one left and one right, possibly left there as a kind of signature from the Sulawesi creatives. 

"These ice age people from Sulawesi were skilled and talented artists with a highly developed knowledge of the behavioral ecology and social lives of the wild pig species depicted in this newly dated artwork," Adam Brumm, a professor of archaeology at Australia's Griffith University, told me. He's also co-author of a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances that details research into the the origin of the painting, as well another one found nearby that dates back 32,000 years. 

The older of the two drawings measures 136 centimeters by 54 centimeters (about 4.5 feet by 1.7 feet). It appears to show the Sus celebensis, or Sulawesi warty pig, engaged in some sort of social interaction with two other pigs (a fight? a mating ritual?), though erosion has made it harder to determine exactly what's going on in the suid scene. It's also hard to tell whether the other two animals were drawn at the same time as the better-preserved pig.  

A team from Griffith discovered the drawing in the back of a cave known as Leang Tedongnge while surveying Sulawesi in 2017. To determine its age, they used a technique called uranium-series dating to analyze a calcite deposit that formed over part of the image. The mineral formation is at least 45,500 years old, meaning the artwork itself could be even older.

The past several years have brought other exciting discoveries of ancient drawings, though nonfigurative, including one found in South Africa from 73,000 years ago that resembles a hashtag and another from between 2100 and 4100 BC that may show humans' wonder at a stellar explosion

The Sulawesi find is figurative, however, and captures in stunning detail a creature key to life for the island's long-ago inhabitants. 

"The hunting economy of these people largely revolved around warty pigs for tens of thousands of years and most of the surviving images of animals we find in the rock art are also of these pigs," Brumm said. "You could call it a kind of ancient 'pig love' that is a defining characteristic of early human culture on this island." 

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The mouth of the Leang Tedongnge cave containing the drawing. 

AA Oktaviana

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Rock found in English garden turns out to be Roman relic worth $20,000 – CNET

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Not the typical horse mounting block. 

Wooley and Wallis

A woman in England recently discovered she's been using an ancient Roman relic as a stepping stone to mount her horse. 

The owner of a bungalow in southern England stumbled upon the marble slab in her rock garden 20 years ago. She used it in her stable for almost 10 years before layers of dirt and moss finally washed away enough to reveal laurel wreaths and an inscription carved into its surface, according to UK auction house Woolley and Wallis, which plans to auction off the slab this spring for a presale estimate of £10,000-£15,000 (roughly $13,600 or AU$17,555 to $20,400 or AU$26,332).

Upon realizing she hadn't been stepping on an ordinary garden rock, the equestrian, Woolley and Wallis says, consulted a local archaeologist, who identified the marble slab as dating to the 2nd century, with probable origins in Greece or Asia Minor, the peninsula that today constitutes the Asian portion of Turkey. It stands 25 inches (63 centimeters) tall, with an inscription in Greek that reads: "The people (and) the young men (honor) Demetrios (son) of Metrodoros (the son) of Leukios." 

"Artifacts of this type often came into England as the result of Grand Tours in the late 18th and 19th century, when wealthy aristocrats would tour Europe learning about Classical art and culture," Wooley and Wallis antiquities specialist Will Hobbs said in a statement. "We assume that is how it entered the UK, but what is a complete mystery is how it ended up in a domestic garden, and that's where we'd like the public's help."

The bungalow where the valuable slab was found is located on Common Road in the village of Whiteparish and was one of several built in the mid-1960s. The auction house hopes someone who lived in the area back then or helped build the dwelling might come forward with information that could shed light on the origins of the construction materials.

Hobbs notes that two notable homes close to Whiteparish were demolished in 1949 after having been requisitioned by the army during the war. Another nearby house was destroyed in a fire in 1963, and it's possible rubble from there was reused at building sites in the area shortly afterwards. 

The lesson? Next time you come across an unassuming rock in your garden, you might want to take a closer look. 

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Hamilton song written by AI features odd reference to Hillary Clinton – CNET

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Michael Gribble, a film music student, dons an appropriate wig to perform Hamilton lyrics written by AI. Gribble put the words to music.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Hard-core fans of the musical Hamilton can never get enough of the catchy soundtrack (I speak from experience). So they may be happy to know they now have a new song to earworm over. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical's creator, had nothing to do with this one, though. The lyrics were written entirely by AI. 

To come up with the song's lyrics, Eli Weiss, a film production student at California's Chapman University, used Shortly Read, an AI application designed for writing that incorporates GPT-3, the powerful third-generation machine learning language model used by OpenAI,  a nonprofit artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk

GPT-3 has been supplied with 45TB of text data, presumably including the full lyrics to Hamilton, and can generate a range of written content with simple inputs.  

Weiss and team entered this one sentence: "Here are the lyrics to a new song from the hit musical Hamilton: An American Musical." The program then created lyrics to a tune with four verses, a chorus and a bridge that correctly identifies characters in the story and their relationships to each other. 

"It messes up a few times, like when Hillary Clinton makes a brief appearance," says Weiss, a huge Hamilton fan, "but overall it's incredibly convincing."   

Indeed, most of the lyrics, both in words and cadence, feel like they'd fit right in to the musical, which tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, largely through hip-hop. "I wrote my way out of hell, I wrote 6 feet past the grave. I wrote a song about you, the only thing that kept me safe," the AI lyrics go.   

GPT-3 produces word sequences that are often amazingly human-like, but can also contain some amusing surprises.    

In the case of the new Hamilton song, Hamilton's devoted wife gives him a most unwelcome gift: "I met a certain young lady called Eliza and I'm 90% sure she gave me syphilis. But I hope I gave it back to you." 

Then there's the reference to Hillary Clinton as "my new Eliza." The machine learning tool likely linked the former secretary of state to Hamilton lyrics referencing that government post. How Clinton becomes Hamilton's new love is anyone's AI guess. 

Weiss' friend Michael Gribble, a film music student, put the AI-written song to music and performs it in the video above. This isn't the first time AI has written a new Hamilton song, however. A few years ago, creative Max Deutsch trained a neural network on the musical's lyrics and asked it to come up with a new tune. 

AI is becoming an increasingly visible player in the creative space, doing everything from generating Katy Perry and Elvis songs to painting nude portraits and crafting poetry in the style of the classics. Sometimes the results genuinely connect to the human experience. Other times, they're downright creepy. 

Weiss and his creative partner Jacob Vaus are among those fascinated by AI's creative potential and have tapped it to write scripts and compose other songs.

"Right now, most of that work still has this comedic charm to it, but I think somewhere in the middle of that spectrum is what we will start to see a lot of in the years to come," Weiss says. "AI being used here and there in the creative process to fill in gaps and make adjustments."

History has its eyes on you, AI. 

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SimpliSafe social distancing sweater sounds siren when others get too close – CNET

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SimpliSafe
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented sweaters. Enter the SimpliSafe Social Distancing Sweater, which sounds an alarm when other people get within 6 feet. 

The sweater for the COVID-19 era is a bit of creative PR for SimpliSafe, a purveyor of home security systems. The company did produce a working prototype of the pullover, however. 

"Remind your family that you're happy to see them, but happier 6 feet apart," says a promotional video for the outerwear. The video shows a man in a mask wearing the blue holiday sweater decorated with images of snowflakes -- and locks. When others approach, LED lights flash and the siren screeches. Understated fashion, this is not.   

SimpliSafe says its social distancing sweater is meant to bring a touch of levity to a challenging holiday season when many are forgoing their usual festive gatherings. For those who are celebrating around fellow humans, the sweater features motion sensors to determine when others are getting too close.  

"We use four low-resolution thermal cameras to monitor your entire perimeter," SimpliSafe explains. "The simple algorithm calculates the baseline background temperature and searches for a warm body in the vicinity."  

SimpliSafe gave away a limited number of the social distancing sweaters without the integrated tech, but it's published detailed instructions for those interested in upgrading their jumpers or making their own wired version from scratch. Got a microcontroller, a small speaker, a MicroSD card, LEDs, cable and an inline USB power switch in your box of tinkering toys? Experience with 3D printing, soldering and programming helps too. 

SimpliSafe is careful to include a number of legal disclaimers for the sweater, including the (hopefully) obvious one that no one should consider it foolproof virus protection. 

"The Social Distancing Sweater is intended as a fun holiday conversation piece and not as a serious COVID-19 prevention device. Please follow CDC guidelines as well as state and local laws and orders." 

This isn't the first garment that detects others in the vicinity. In 2018, advertising agency Ogilvy unveiled the Dress For Respect, a conceptual garment for the #MeToo era with sensors that measure where on the body, and when, the wearer is groped. 

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Intense full-face mask ‘not only protects your health, it protects your identity’ – CNET

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You can see out, but they can't see in. 

Blanc
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If your futuristic fantasies have ever included a mask that protects you from germs while fully protecting your identity, say hello to Blanc, a full-face modular mask that lets you walk around looking like a faceless robot or a member of Daft Punk. 

The wild mask protects your eyes, nose and mouth from the outside world while ensuring the outside world can't see a single millimeter of your mien. 

"Keep your identity secure behind its opaque changeable front panels," says the Kickstarter campaign for the project, which has blown past its $20,000 goal on the crowdfunding platform, exceeding $260,000 with 36 days to go. 

Blanc filters air through two reusable and replaceable FDA-approved HEPA filters. But Blanc's international team, which includes product designers, engineers, scientists and marketing specialists, says it wants to offer users more than just safety in these COVID-19 times. (Read more about the best and worst mask materials for protecting against coronavirus.) 

The headgear, which calls itself a "thousand masks in one," has swappable panels, clipped to the frame and held by magnets, that let you adjust the look to channel your mood and match your outfit. You could opt to encase your head in stripes, a leopard print or a camouflage pattern, for example, or go with classic silver for a more Mandalorian vibe. The black-and-white combo gives the mask a distinctly PlayStation 5 je ne sais quoi

Blanc

"Express your creativity whether you are taking a walk in the park, sitting in front of your computer at the office, or enjoying your evening with friends at a club," the Kickstarter project says.

The mask is available for preorder on Kickstarter now at reward levels starting at $79 (about £60, AU$105). The product is expected to ship to anywhere in the world in March of 2021, though co-founder Philipp Egorov, an IT expert based in Moscow, told me the team is pushing for a mid-February rollout. 

The response to Blanc has been overwhelming, Egorov says, with particularly high levels of interest out of Japan.  

"We're getting tons of controversial feedback though," Egorov added. "I personally love the recent 'Can I both love and hate it?' commentary from the Australia-based backer who ended up buying three masks." 

Do keep in mind, of course, that not all crowdfunding projects deliver on time and as promised. And that in some situations, it's helpful for people to be able to see your eyes. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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The Undoing finale: That ending broken down and other questions answered – CNET

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Nicole Kidman as Grace Fraser in The Undoing. Turns out marriage hasn't been so good to her. 

HBO

HBO miniseries The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as a rich Manhattan couple in big legal trouble, is over. After six episodes that had the internet spinning endless theories about who murdered Elena Alves and why, we finally learned the killer's identity in Sunday's final episode, The Bloody Truth. But that doesn't mean every question raised by the thriller has been answered beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Let's put on our flowy Stevie Nicks-style coats, stroll through (an oddly empty) Central Park and dive in, shall we?  

Warning: Major, major spoilers ahead. Like really, really big ones, including the biggest one of the whole series. 

Who killed Elena Alves? 

Viewers had all kinds of ideas, but in the end, the answer was right under our noses. The murderer was Grace's husband, Jonathan Fraser, the pediatric oncologist on trial for murdering his lover. She was the mother of his former patient Miguel -- and of his own infant daughter. 

The revelation that he killed Alves following an argument unfolded in flashbacks, and turned out to be as obvious as it was shocking. It also cemented the show as a psychological thriller more than the twist-filled whodunnit many viewers have come to expect from mysteries. 

"I love that collectively, as an audience, we are all so used to processing wild-ass twists and turns," one viewer tweeted. "All The Undoing had to do to fool us was shoot straight."  

And, of course, drop a constant stream of red herrings suggesting the murderer could be Grace or Grace's dad Franklin (Donald Sutherland) or son (Noah Jupe) or friend Sylvia (Lily Rabe). (There were just so many shots of her that seemed to say, "Look at me! I'm a clue!" I fell for it, lesson learned.) 

"In designing the episodes, we were inviting people to play with their biases and their curiosity and their version of the truth," Executive Producer David E. Kelley told TVLine. "There were scenes with Sylvia that were deliberately cryptic, but it was never part of the master plan to have her be part of the crime." 

The Undoing is based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's You Should Have Known. And from that title alone, it's now easy to look back and think we should have. So why didn't we? And…  

Why was Grace so blind to the truth?    

Deep, deep, oh-so-deep denial. Despite being a Harvard-educated clinical psychologist who considered herself adept at reading people, it was simply too shattering for her to fully absorb the mounting signs her beloved husband was a sociopath (including the most glaring one, the revelation that he displayed zero grief when his little sister died tragically all those years ago). So to protect herself, her marriage, her son and her basic assumptions about people and pretty much the entire world, Grace keeps herself in a state of denial -- until she simply can't any longer.  

The strength of the show is that it makes viewers just as reluctant to face the truth about Jonathan as Grace is -- and we're not even married to the guy. 

No one wants to believe that someone who, by all accounts, has devoted his life to healing could so recklessly and brutally take a life. And as Grace suggests to more than one patient, the mind can go to great lengths to deny information that conflicts with truths we don't want to see, especially when those truths involve loved ones. 

Plus, let's face it. Hugh Grant's masterfully manipulative Jonathan also turns up the awww-shucks charm in that special Hugh Grant-ey, head-cocked, romantic-lead kind of way. The charming British accent probably didn't hurt either. Up until the last 10 or 15 minutes of the finale, it was still easy to believe Jonathan had been falsely accused -- until he set off with Henry on the creepiest father-son road trip ever, getting more crazed with every swerve of the family SUV.   

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The face of a fiercely protective mother.

HBO

What finally wakes Grace up? 

Watch closely in the final episode as Jonathan suggests son Henry might have killed Elena in an attempt to keep his fractured family together, and you can see a subtle shift happening in Grace. She may not know her husband the way she thought she did, but she certainly knows her son. And she's absolutely sure he's a good kid. He may have it in him to leave his violin on the floor out of its case (bad idea), but he certainly doesn't have it in him to beat a woman to death. 

It's shortly after that pivotal moment Grace calls her friend Sylvia, a lawyer, and says she needs to talk. We aren't privy to what they discuss during their early-morning stroll. But presumably Sylvia is advising Grace how to take the stand with savvy and implicate her cheating narcissist of a husband, who at that point in the trial seems likely to be acquitted. 

What does the 'The Undoing' refer to? 

There are various ways to interpret the show's title, since lives, marriages and long-held narratives all come undone. Notably, undoing is also a psychological term for a "defense mechanism in which a person tries to cancel out or remove an unhealthy, destructive or otherwise threatening thought or action by engaging in contrary behavior." It appears Grace's initial inclination to believe in her husband's innocence is her defense against the horrifying reality she knows deep down. 

"Do you not tell patients," the prosecutor asks Grace during cross-examination, "that sometimes they so want to believe in their partners that they choose to un-know things? Un-see things? That sometimes the truth of who and what they married gets distorted by the desperation of what they want to be married to?" 

Check and check. 

Will there be a season 2? 

HBO clearly angled The Undoing as a limited series, so a second season seems unlikely. However, both Kelley and director Susanne Bier have made comments that leave the door open at least a tiny sliver. "Of course you wonder what comes after this is over. We did joke about it on set," Bier told OprahMag.com. Asked about the possibility of another season, she said, "I won't rule it out. But it's not in the concrete works."   

Kelley, while stressing a second season has never been the intent, did tease what it could tackle. 

"Susanne Bier and I both loved the part of the book where Grace was rebuilding herself after her world fell apart. But for the purposes of this run, it was more about the thriller aspect," he told The New York Times. "Who knows? If we did the extended life of Grace Fraser beyond this season of The Undoing, maybe we'd get into that reconstruction part."

P.S. What's with Franklin's eyebrows? 

A wealthy, influential man like Franklin needs wealthy, influential eyebrows, apparently. It was hard to miss the pointy cantilever-like brows, which social media quickly turned into a character of their own.

"I can't believe Donald Sutherland's eyebrows don't get a separate cast credit in The Undoing," one Twitter user wrote.

Wrote one another, "Are we SURE the killer wasn't Donald Sutherland's eyebrows?!"   

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Baby God review: HBO film introduces the children born of a chilling crime – CNET

Dr. Quincy Fortier, subject of the HBO documentary Baby God

Dr. Quincy Fortier artificially inseminated unsuspecting women. The powerful HBO documentary Baby God examines the complex fallout. 

HBO video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

When we first meet geneticist Brad Gulko in the new HBO documentary Baby God, he's peering into a microscope and reflecting on the precision of today's genetic tests. We soon learn Gulko isn't just being interviewed as a genomics expert for the film about an infamous fertility specialist who artificially inseminated countless women without their knowledge or consent. 

Gulko has recently discovered the shocking secret that Dr. Quincy Fortier is his biological father. 

At this point, the late Fortier is such a stranger to Gulko, he's not even sure how to pronounce the physician's last name. Yet as Gulko stands next to a photo of the balding, bespectacled Fortier, the father-son resemblance is impossible to miss. And Fortier's unscrupulous actions from decades ago reverberate for Gulko today in ways the 50-something scientist can only begin to comprehend. 

"People who don't share DNA with their parents, and don't know they don't share DNA with their parents, may feel that they're not just different but somehow wrong," Gulko says. He recalls feeling out of sync growing up as a socially awkward child of the extroverted, socially adept man he thought was his father.   

It's one of many poignant observations made in Baby God, which airs on HBO and HBO Max on Wednesday, Dec. 2, and streams starting the following day. The film follows several of Fortier's offspring as they grapple with new information about their origins, the scope of Fortier's misdeeds (included the alleged sexual abuse of at least one stepdaughter) and the impact his actions -- and genes -- have had on their identities.  

"I know there's got to be some influence from his genetics in me. I just want to know what that is," says Wendi Babst, a retired police detective who once worked on major crimes. She discovered the family secret after taking up genealogy as a hobby and now is pondering having surgery to change her nose, which reminds her all too painfully of Fortier's.  

One man in his thirties describes being so distraught after learning the identity of his biological father that he became physically ill for a month and a half. 

Baby God, directed and produced by Hannah Olson, builds slowly, but evolves into a provocative, powerful story that tackles morality, medical ethics, self-delusion, family bonds and the very nature of life itself.  

The film is also a comment on the march of scientific progress -- as one of Fortier's children notes, the inseminations took place before sperm banks. Fortier never could have imagined inexpensive home DNA kits available to anyone with an internet connection.     

Cathy Holm, holding daughter Wendi, was a young newlywed in the 1960s when she sought the help of fertility specialist Dr. Quincy Fortier. 

HBO

"In those days, they didn't even understand DNA," says Dr. Frank Silver, a gynecologist who practiced with Fortier years ago and thinks he probably talked himself into believing he was doing a great service, though "bad means don't justify the end."

Fortier, who opened a Las Vegas practice in 1945, is estimated to have hundreds of children, who now range in age from their thirties to their seventies, with more continuing to come forward. Babst's mother, Cathy Holm, describes being a 22-year-old bride in the 1960s, when motherhood was expected to immediately follow marriage and all her friends already had kids but she couldn't get pregnant. 

She found Fortier in the phone book under fertility specialists, made an appointment and was instructed to bring in samples of her husband's sperm. Unbeknownst to her until many years later, Fortier injected her with his own.    

Old home movies that look like something straight out of Mad Men show a pregnant Holm, and then Holm and her happy husband with their toddler Wendi. 

Over time, Holm recalls, she would fleetingly reflect on the fact that Wendi didn't look anything like the man Holm married. "I'd think, 'Gee, it's really funny that she doesn't really resemble her father's side of the family at all. As she grew up. I thought, where'd she get all these brains? She didn't get them from me, and I didn't think her father was all that smart."

By all accounts, Fortier, Wendi's covert biological father, was more than smart -- he was brilliant. But what motivated his deep deception, which led one former patient to sue him, resulting in a settlement in 2001?   

Baby God can only offer speculation. Fortier died in 2006 at age 94 in good standing, having never lost his license, and only appears in the film in brief audio clips. Theories cover the gamut -- one of the daughters he raised insists his secret inseminations were merely an extension of a lifelong devotion to patients and their well-being.  

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Wendy Babst, a retired police detective, discovered the disturbing truth about her biological father's identity after purchasing an Ancestry.com DNA kit for a bit of casual genealogy exploration after retiring. 

HBO

Others have a dramatically different view, seeing only evil, a twisted sense of morality and pure hubris. Wonders a mother, now in her nineties, who was inseminated by Fortier, "Was he trying to see how many people he could have on this Earth before he left?" In an especially disturbing twist, the young newlywed hadn't even consulted Fortier for a fertility issue, and ended up undergoing a procedure that left her pregnant at his hands before she even felt ready to have a baby. 

"My life may have been altogether different," she says of Fortier inseminating her in an era when doctors were often viewed as almost godlike. "I'd have gone back to school, but I probably would have gone farther." 

At the same time, she looks at her son Mike with gratitude, saying she wouldn't have him without Fortier. The film ends with a troubling coda. More than two dozen US doctors, we are told, have been accused of secretly inseminating patients with their own sperm.   

For the surviving patients and their children, DNA tests might provide some concrete answers, but many others will remain far less clear-cut, probably forever. "I struggle with whether or not I think he was a good person," Wendi Babst says. "Do you want to say that your father was a monster? And what does that say about you?"

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Music reawakens memory of former ballerina with Alzheimer’s in moving video – CNET

González Saldaña seems to feel every nuance of the music as she dances from her wheelchair. 

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Memory loss is among the first symptoms experienced by those with Alzheimer's. But in a remarkable and moving video, memories visibly awaken in a former ballerina with the disease when she hears the music of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake

The video shows Marta Cinta González Saldaña as she listens to the music through headphones. Sitting in a wheelchair, she instantly begins to move her arms and sway her upper body with the grace and precision of a prima ballerina on stage in her finest hour.  

As the music crescendoes, so do her movements. And her facial expressions reflect a lasting, deeply felt connection to the classic ballet. 

The video was recorded in 2019 and recently shared by the Asociación Música para Despertar, a Spanish organization that promotes music therapy for those with memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The footage -- which intersperses archival footage of a dancer on stage performing Swan Lake -- has gone viral in recent days, shared by celebrities including Antonio Banderas. It's no doubt a touch of beauty and inspiration during a challenging year marked by a pandemic, economic strain and political rancor. 

Asociación Música para Despertar says González Saldaña danced with the "New York Ballet" in the 1960s, but as NPR reports, there's no known company by that name and the famed New York City Ballet doesn't list anyone with González Saldaña's name as one of its former dancers. Alastair Macaulay, a former New York Times dance critic, has been investigating González Saldaña's history and posting updates to Instagram. 

Macaulay's most recent update shows photos of the dancer visiting and guiding students and faculty at Spain's Ballet Masters Alcoi in December of last year. 

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4, 5, 6, 7. The remarkable sleuth Olivier Gay has found these photographs of Marta Cinta González Saldaña in December 2019, presumably very close to the time of her death, on a visit of the students and faculty of Ballet Masters Alcoi (in Spain, near Alicante) to the Alcoy Wall Asylum. (Here too we read the erroneous information that she was a dancer with New York City Ballet.( All the photographs posted by this Alcoi Ballet School on Facebook are wonderfully touching. It’s good to think of these dancers making this connection with González at the end of her life. A great deal of projection has been going on nonetheless about the original video. It’s interesting that several people need to believe she was a very important Odette on minimal evidence apart from the misleading footage of Ulyana/Yuliana Lopatkina in “The Dying Swan” (different ballet, different dancer, different training, different music) If you’re moved by the video, as many are, then it’s actually more marvellous to find this glimpse of dance inspiration amid the dementia of a largely unknown dancer. Tuesday 10 November

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González Saldaña passed away since the video was recorded. Regardless of who she danced for, like the Tchaikovsky music that moved her on such an instinctual level, her powerful performance lives on.

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