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January 5, 2016

On Monday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement criticizing the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, by more than a dozen armed militants:

While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. [LDS]

The apparent leader of the Malheur occupation, Ammon Bundy, said in a video posted Friday that God had told him to take a stand for now-jailed ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond and against the federal government's public lands policies. After praying, "I began to understand how the Lord felt about Harney County and about this country, and I clearly understood that the Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds," Bundy said. The Bundy clan — including father Cliven Bundy — is Mormon, and has a long history of land conflicts with the federal government, dating back to at least great-great-grandfather Abraham Bundy, according to OPB.

And Mormonism also has a long, sometimes bloody history of standoffs with the government, mostly resolved since the mid-20th century but still alive in the rural West, among families like the Bundys. "The Oregon standoff isn't a 'Mormon movement,' but it does ultimately represent the mixing of Mormon themes, common Western land use issues, and the rhetoric of far-right patriot groups," explains BuzzFeed's Jim Dalrymple. You can read more about Mormonism and the Oregon standoff at BuzzFeed, OBP, and The Oregonian, but a few points seem worth highlighting.

First, the Mormon Church considers the U.S. Constitution divinely inspired — a point Cliven Bundy has used to equate the Constitution with scripture — so when the Bundy militia talks about defending their understanding of the Constitution, they are very consciously mixing church and state. Second, Captain Moroni is a figure from the Book of Mormon famous for standing up for liberty against a corrupt king in about 100 B.C., and he has also become an icon for some anti-government extremists in the modern West. Which explains why this guy is in Oregon:

Mormon scripture, BuzzFeed's Dalrymple notes, explicitly pledges fealty to "being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." Peter Weber

10:06 p.m. ET

As the Juno spacecraft passed through the "bow shock" outside of Jupiter's magnetosphere on June 24, the probe's instruments picked up the cacophony that accompanied the dramatic event.

"The bow shock is analogous to a sonic boom," Juno team member William Kurth of the University of Iowa said in a statement. "The solar wind blows past all the planets at a speed of about a million miles per hour, and where it hits an obstacle, there's all this turbulence." The magnetosphere is "the bubble in which the giant planet's magnetic field controls the movement of particles," Space.com explains, and is the largest structure in the solar system. Listen to the sounds of Jupiter below. Catherine Garcia

9:16 p.m. ET
Ander Gillena/AFP/Getty Images

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Anthem of the Seas" is returning to Bayonne, New Jersey, Thursday night after a child was discovered in a pool.

The child is currently on life support, ABC New York reports. The ship will be met at the port by firefighters, and the child will be transported to a local hospital. The Coast Guard was notified of the incident at around 7 p.m. No information has been released on the child's age or hometown, or how long the child might have been in the water before being found. Catherine Garcia

8:45 p.m. ET

After breezing through Jupiter's magnetosphere, NASA's Juno spacecraft is on track to begin orbiting the planet on the 4th of July.

"We've just crossed the boundary into Jupiter's home turf," principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said in a statement Thursday. "We're closing in fast on the planet itself and already gaining valuable data." Juno was fully inside Jupiter's magnetosphere, the largest structure in the solar system, by June 25, NASA said. The magnetosphere extends about 5 astronomical units beyond Jupiter (each AU is about 93 million miles), and if it "glowed in visible light, it would be twice the size of the full moon as seen from Earth," Juno team member William Kurth of the University of Iowa said.

Juno was launched in August 2011, and over the next 18 months, the plan is for the spacecraft to circle around Jupiter more than 30 times, using nine different scientific instruments to gather data. NASA hopes to map out the planet's magnetic and gravitational fields and determine if it has a core or not, Space.com reports, and also gain new information about the universe as a whole. "What Juno's really about is learning about the recipe for how solar systems are made," Bolton said. Catherine Garcia

8:03 p.m. ET
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

An investigation is underway regarding a fatal crash in Florida last month involving a tractor trailer and a Tesla Model S with the autopilot feature deployed.

Tesla says this is the first known fatal crash of its kind involving the Model S. In a statement, Tesla said the vehicle was driving on a divided highway with the autopilot on, when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. "Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied," the statement said. The victim was killed after the car went under the tractor trailer. "Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents," Tesla said.

The autopilot function can slow the car down when approaching potentially dangerous curves, park the car, and change lanes. U.S. regulators are expected to release guidelines later this summer for driverless cars, The Wall Street Journal reports. Catherine Garcia

6:41 p.m. ET
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is instructing owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Acuras to stop what they're doing and replace the Takata airbag inflators inside their cars.

"These vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement on Thursday. "Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired." The advisory is for 2001 and 2002 Honda Civics and Accords, 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, 2002 Honda Odyssey and CR-V, and 2003 Acura CL and Honda Pilot. The older the vehicle, the more time the inflator has spent in heat and humidity, and that makes them more likely to malfunction, The Associated Press reports.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted tests on inflators taken from older Hondas owned by people living near the Gulf Coast, and about half of them blew apart. If an inflator explodes, it spews metal fragments into the vehicle, potentially killing or injuring the driver and any passengers. To see if your car is part of the recall, visit safercar.gov and enter your vehicle identification number. Catherine Garcia

5:02 p.m. ET
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On Thursday, Judge Martin Welch vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the Baltimore man at the center of the first season of the wildly popular true-crime podcast Serial, and granted him a new trial. Syed's attorneys tweeted Thursday that Syed had won a new trial after a Baltimore judge ruled that his original attorney failed to properly cross-examine incriminating cell-tower evidence.

Syed's current defense team successfully re-opened post conviction hearings this past February and in March filed a post-hearing motion to add new evidence to the record, partially due to the popularity of and unearthed information from Serial. Syed is currently serving a life sentence plus 30 years after being convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee while they were both seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. Kimberly Alters

4:13 p.m. ET

Speaking 2,656 miles from the Mexican border in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Donald Trump interrupted his latest policy speech to point out a random passing airplane, warning that it could be "a Mexican plane up there, they're getting ready to attack."

It should be noted that we are not at war with Mexico. Jeva Lange

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