CEO Of The Humane Society Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Wayne Pacelle, former CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, at a 2015 news conference.

Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for The Humane Society of the United States

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Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for The Humane Society of the United States

The president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, has resigned effective immediately, the nonprofit group announced Friday.

Pacelle had been at the center of a controversy over allegations that he had sexually harassed three female subordinates at the Humane Society, one of the country’s largest animal charities.

The move came a day after the group’s board of directors had voted to keep Pacelle despite the allegations dating back to 2005.

In a statement, Human Society Board Chair Rick Bernthal said:

“The last few days have been very hard for our entire family of staff and supporters. We are profoundly grateful for Wayne’s unparalleled level of accomplishments and service to the cause of animal protection and welfare.”

Bernthal said that the president of the Humane Society’s international affiliate, Kitty Block, has been named as acting chief executive.

The development came just hours after Bernthal had defended the group’s decision yesterday to allow Pacelle to remain as CEO. In a statement, Bernthal said that after an investigation:

“The board reviewed the information assembled and determined that there was not sufficient evidence to remove Wayne Pacelle from his position as CEO.

“Many of the allegations were explosive in nature, and reading or hearing about them is a shock to anyone. It was to us, too. But when we sifted through the evidence presented, we did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence.”

Bernthal also denied that his group had offered settlements to three other workers who said they were dismissed or demoted after raising concerns about Pacelle’s alleged sexual misconduct. “The Board concluded that there was no motivation behind severance agreements to silence women who had spoken up or raised concerns,” he said.

After the board voted to retain Pacelle, the CEO acknowledged that the controversy was taking a toll.

Pacelle had told the New York Times earlier on Friday that he was assessing his future professional life:

“‘I’m going to take stock of everyone’s opinion and assess where I go and where the organization goes from here,’ he said. ‘I think leadership changes at organizations are often very healthy and renewing, and I’m going to talk with staff and board members and find the best course that contribute to our mission of fighting for all animals.'”

Yet, pressure was building for Pacelle’s dismissal from both inside and out of the organization with major donors announcing that they were withdrawing their support from the group.

In a statement earlier Friday, the president of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt, had called for Pacelle’s firing:

“Like Donald Trump, the Humane Society is engaged in a cover up in plain sight. Instead of trying to enable a sexual abuser, they should dismiss him. Instead of making excuses, they should be making reparations. Instead of silencing or attacking women who’ve suffered abuse, and those who defend them, the Humane Society should change its own culture.

“The Humane Society needs to know this. Women are watching. We know when a charity deserves our support, and when it fails the most basic obligations of trust.

“The Humane Society has no humanity. Fire Wayne Pacelle. Do it now.”

The initial decision to retain Pacelle also had led to the resignation of seven protesting board members.

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Episode 822: The Shortest Super Bowl

Football sitting on a field.

Rick Osentoski/AP

There is a huge economy surrounding the Super Bowl. And nowhere is this more visible than in one crazed market: ticket sales. Usually, the game is a bonanza for professional ticket salesmen.

But the 2015 Super Bowl was different.

Two weeks before the big game, the Super Bowl market collapsed, catastrophically. Brokers went belly up. Tickets vanished. And companies had to spend millions of dollars to reimburse a lot of angry fans. What happened? Today on the show, we try to figure it out.

Music: “Go, Go, Go,” “Complete Me,” “Robot Bones” and “Get Flappy

Find us: Twitter/ Facebook / Instagram

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

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Fact Check: Read The GOP Memo Released By House Intelligence Committee

A memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance authority became public on Friday after a push by House Republicans. President Trump authorized the memo’s release, even after the FBI expressed “grave concerns” about the “accuracy” of the document, authored by House intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

NPR journalists who cover the Justice Department, the White House and national security have annotated the White House’s authorization letter and the memo itself.

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Mars Rover Curiosity's Panoramic Photo Depicts Its Epic Journey

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity took photos from the Vera Rubin Ridge showing the interior and rim of Gale Crater. The full image features 16 photos stitched together.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Here’s a reminder that while you are out in the world buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning or catching up on The Crown, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is on the red planet doing work.

The nuclear-powered mobile science laboratory has been slowly roving across the surface of Mars since 2012, searching for evidence of the conditions that once made the planet capable of sustaining life. And earlier this week, while on a brief break from mountain climbing, Curiosity sent home a giant batch of photos showing what the rover has been up to over the last three months.

Mars mission members stitched together those images — taken from a vantage point of more than 1000 feet above the floor of the Gale Crater, where the rover first landed — to create this panoramic image:

The view from “Vera Rubin Ridge” on the north flank of Mount Sharp encompasses much of the 11-mile route the rover has driven from its 2012 landing site, all inside Gale Crater.

Jet Propulsion LaboratoryYouTube

“Even though Curiosity has been steadily climbing for five years, this is the first time we could look back and see the whole mission laid out below us,” Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement.

“From our perch on Vera Rubin Ridge, the vast plains of the crater floor stretch out to the spectacular mountain range that forms the northern rim of Gale Crater,” said Vasavada. The rover photographed the scene shortly before northern Mars’ winter solstice, a season of clear skies, gaining a sharp view of distant details.

Curiosity’s impressive panorama stretches across more than 30 miles and shows the route that the rover has taken since 2012.

Curiosity will soon go back to its previous work of drilling for soil samples, this time along the Vera Rubin Ridge. Drilling has been on hold while mission members at JPL figured out how to work around a mechanical problem with stabilizer points of the drill that appeared in late 2016. It seems the California team has come up with a solution that does not require using the stabilizing points, and instead moves the whole drill forward by motion of the robotic arm.

JPL is also preparing for the launch in May of a new lander called InSight. It’ll be the first interplanetary launch from the West Coast. The trip to Mars takes about six months and once it’s on the planet the lander will begin studying the deep interior of Mars. Using an ultra-sensitive seismometer it will listen for seismic waves bouncing through the planet created by marsquakes. That allows scientists to study what the rocky planet is made of.

Scientists have been interested in learning about the geological activity of Mars for some time, as Space.comreports, “both for the sake of science and for anyone who might go there.”

“With NASA striving to take humans back to the Moon and onto Mars and beyond, understanding the geologic activity of the planet can aid in future mission planning,” David Ferrill of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, explained.

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'Game Changer': Maya Cities Unearthed In Guatemala Forest Using Lasers

A LiDAR image from Tikal, the most important Maya city.

PACUNAM/Marcello Canuto & Luke Auld-Thomas

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PACUNAM/Marcello Canuto & Luke Auld-Thomas

By raining down laser pulses on some 770 square miles of dense forest in northern Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered 60,000 Maya structures that make up full sprawling cities.

And the new technology provides them with an unprecedented view into how the ancient civilization worked, revealing almost industrial agricultural infrastructure and new insights into Maya warfare.

“This is a game changer,” says Thomas Garrison, an archaeologist at Ithaca College who is one of the leaders of the project. It changes “the base level at which we do Maya archaeology.”

The data reveals that the area was three or four times more densely populated than originally thought. “I mean, we’re talking about millions of people, conservatively,” says Garrison. “Probably more than 10 million people.”

The researchers fired LiDAR technology, short for “Light Detection and Ranging,” down at the dense forest from an airplane. This research was organized by the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, and Garrison says the area’s size is “more than double any other survey that’s been done with this technology.”

“As it flies the laser pulses hundreds of thousands of times per second,” Garrison adds. “And every time one of those lasers hits a point of resistance it stops and sends back a measurement to the plane.”

Some of these pulses make it all the way down to the forest floor. The data is then used to visually strip away trees and plants, ultimately mapping only the structures that have been hidden by jungle. You can think of it as digital deforestation.

Visualization of separate LiDAR layers of the forest cover and of vegetation-free ground surface of the site of El Zotz.

PACUNAM/Thomas Garrison

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PACUNAM/Thomas Garrison

LiDAR allows scientists to accomplish years or even decades worth of mapping in a single afternoon. For example, Garrison says he was part of a team that worked for some eight years to map less than a square mile at a site called El Zotz. The plane using LiDAR took data for 67 square miles in a matter of hours.

“It’s very humbling,” says Garrison. “For those of us that spent our lives mapping and slogging around this area … you just sort of have to bow before the LiDAR and accept the fact that it’s better than you are.”

The team surveyed 10 separate areas. It took months to process the data. As the picture became clearer, Garrison said he would sent emails to his colleagues expressing surprise at the magnitude.

He recalls seeing an initial image of one area in northern Guatemala. “I saw this image and I said, the whole area is covered in Maya settlement. You won’t believe it,” he adds. “And then once we got the actual data and saw the whole scope of it. We said, ‘Wow, we’re going to be able to really do something with this.'”

Together, they are able to weave together a picture of individual city-states and their vast support network.

“Everything is amplified and made much clearer for us and we see how it all fits together in a way that we have not seen before,” he says. “We’re seeing it all laid bare, and saying, ‘OK, this is how all of this was connected and came together.'”

Archeologists, for example, knew that the Maya had agricultural fields. But he says this data show “huge, huge expanses of these irrigated field systems in these low lying swamps.”

And they knew that the Maya fought, often with each other, because defensive walls had been previously spotted. But this new information reveals “Maya fortresses and systems of interconnected watchtowers,” raising the possibility of more sophisticated and large-scale warfare.

The civilization had a network of raised causeways stretching “many, many kilometers.” They also were “channeling water for hundreds of meters or modifying hilltops so they become these impregnable areas.”

The picture this paints, he says, is one that is to some extent more advanced than previously thought: “This is like landscape engineering. They have molded the world around them to serve their purposes and survive.”

A 3D view of Tikal, the major Maya city.

PACUNAM/Marcello Canuto & Luke Auld-Thomas

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PACUNAM/Marcello Canuto & Luke Auld-Thomas

The most important Maya city, Tikal, was found to be three or four times larger than the scientists had thought, with a previously undiscovered pyramid in its center. And Garrison adds that they’re not totally sure they’ve surveyed the entire extent of that city.

Suddenly having a broad view allows archaeologists to ask many new questions, he says. And there’s plenty of forest to still explore — the study area is a fraction of the total area where the Maya lived.

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How To Understand The Philosophy Of 'Groundhog Day' And Live Life By Its Message

The director Harold Ramis didn’t intend for his movie Groundhog Day to be heralded by religious thinkers as an example of how to live life, but that’s exactly what happened after it was released in 1993. Salon reporter Mary Elizabeth Williams tells NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that after fighting cancer, she has come to understand the movie’s universal message.

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South Korea Prepares To Spend $13 Billion On Winter Olympics. Is It Worth It?

The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium cost roughly $109 million to build for South Korea’s 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The stadium will be used just four times before being demolished.

Ahn Young-joon/AP

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Ahn Young-joon/AP

The brand new Olympic stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be used just four times before it’s decommissioned after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The venue will be used for opening and closing ceremonies for two Olympics and then it will be demolished.

The $109 million stadium is raising questions about whether hosting the Olympics is worth the cost for cities that don’t have existing infrastructure to accommodate the event. The Pyeongchang stadium is one of several new arenas, event spaces and lodging structures built for the Olympics, which could cost South Korea nearly $13 billion.

Despite bold plans to repurpose Olympic buildings, past host cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Athens, have been left with vacant, decaying sports complexes. Organizers in South Korea are planning to demolish some of the new buildings after the games, rather than risk them becoming white elephants, says Judith Grant-Long, an associate professor of sport management at the University of Michigan and a co-director of the Michigan Center for Sport and Policy.

“It’s not so unusual to see temporary facilities used in the context of the Olympics, but this moves the needle towards disposable facilities,” she tells Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd. “And I think the cost of this particular venue at approximately $100 million is really making people sit up and take notice about the costs associated with building venues.”

The region’s modest population is one reason why repurposing the stadium doesn’t make much economic sense. There are only about 40,000 people in Pyeongchang County, which makes it almost impossible to regularly fill the new stadium that seats 35,000.

The Olympic Aquatic Center in Athens sits vacant since the 2004 Summer Olympics. Due to Greece’s economic frailties post-Olympic Games, there has been no further investment and the majority of the newly constructed stadiums now lie abandoned.

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

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Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

South Korean officials are hoping the Olympics will boost the area’s population by creating a new tourism cluster, Grant-Long says. Olympic organizers in Sochi, Russia, had similar goals, but unlike Russians, South Koreans don’t care much for winter sports. A survey taken last April by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism found that only 35.6 percent of people were interested in the Winter Olympics.

“The other issue with the success of this particular strategy in that location is that South Koreans at this point in time are not particularly a winter sport people,” Grant-Long says. “So the idea of creating a tourism strategy that’s based on winter sports, skiing and so forth, has not necessarily been a well-received idea from an economic development point of view.”

Financial problems after the Olympics and other international sports events are common. It took Montreal 30 years to pay off its debts after the 1976 Olympics. The city’s Olympic stadium was recently transformed into a refugee welcome center for asylum seekers entering Canada from the U.S.

Athens spent more than $15 billion to stage the Summer Games in 2004, adding to the country’s debt and sparking the current economic turmoil. The games did bring much-needed development to the metro system, highways and an airport, but graffiti-covered stadiums remain unused.

In Rio, organizers are still staring down $40 million in debt incurred during the 2016 summer games after ambitious plans to convert arenas into schools collapsed. And the $550 million World Cup stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, was turned into a bus parking lot after the 2015 soccer tournament.

Some remaining tennis courts stand next to the main tennis stadium in Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last year. Nearly one year after Rio hosted the first Olympic games in South America, many of the costly venue sites are now shuttered or underused amidst a deep economic crisis in the city.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

“Most countries end up with a lot of debt, a lot of white elephants, and quite a bit of infrastructure investment that is not ideal for the type of development needs that the city has,” Andy Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., told NPR in 2014.

Experts say most cities that decide to host the Olympics will confront mountains of debt, especially if they don’t have the infrastructure already. Construction companies often drive city officials to make higher bids by presenting more elaborate plans.

“If you’re going to organize the games, you have to be prepared for financial surprises – I’ll put it politely – and debt,” Olympic historian David Wallechinsky told NPR last year. “But it can be done, and it has been done. The London Games didn’t lose money. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics made a profit, and in fact, that profit has been put to wonderful use.”

The 1984 Games generated a $225-million surplus, which has been used to support American Olympic efforts and local youth sports organiztions over the past three decades, according to The Los Angeles Times.

At the end of last year, Paris and Los Angeles were chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028. The International Olympic Committee says the cities were designated because of their plans to use a “record-breaking number of existing and temporary facilities.”

Grant-Long says choosing those cities is part of the IOC’s goal “to figure out what is a sustainable path forward, and it’s either a single site, a set of permanent sites, or really recalibrating the games around a much more modest idea.”

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Battle Of The Super Bowl Playlists: Puppy Bowl Edition

Cocoa Bean, NPR Music producer and writer Lars Gotrich’s dog, is just here for the snuggles and treats.

Lars Gotrich/NPR

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Lars Gotrich/NPR

Our friends at the World Cafe and XPN are stoked that the Eagles are headed to Super Bowl LII this weekend. In a show of hometown pride, they compiled a playlist of songs by and for the good people of Philadelphia, Penn., perhaps in the hope that the power of music would inspire a win for their boys on Sunday.

Not to be outdone, WBUR in Boston fired back in an act of un-brotherly love: a playlist of Boston-centric songs to cheer the Patriots on to victory over the Eagles.

It’s war on the East Coast, but one NPR Music twitter follower is here to unite us all.

can we get a playlist for the Puppy Bowl?

— LHH/FBB:CC53 Ⓥ (@isles_CC53) February 2, 2018

We see you, and we hear you. For the Jaguars supporters who want to see the Eagles win, but don’t have a connection to Philly; for the Vikings fans who just can’t throw their lot in with the Pats; for the Super Bowl viewers who are in it for the commercials; for the avid Puppy Bowl previewers and for dog-lovers everywhere: Do we have the playlist for you.

Take a break from pretending you’ve kept up with the NFL this year — or if you have kept up, take a break anyway, you deserve it — and stream our playlist below. While you’re at it, enjoy the puppers, kitties and other furry friends we saw in our Tiny Desk Contest entries from last year.

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