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‘World’s Smallest Press Release’ Written on Grain of Rice to Celebrate Anniversary of Japan’s PR Times

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Berkshire Medical Center raps nurses union over erroneous news release

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PITTSFIELD — A public relations blunder heightened tensions Tuesday between Berkshire Medical Center and its biggest union, even before the sides return to collective bargaining after a strike and lockout.

Because of an internal mistake, the Massachusetts Nurses Association distributed a news release Tuesday morning that misstated developments involving the National Labor Relations Board.

The release criticized the hospital for something the union did itself: withdraw an unfair labor practice complaint.

The hospital seized on the slip-up to again question the union’s motives, as rhetoric heated up on both sides of the dispute, a year after a three-year contract lapsed.

Dana Simon, the union’s director of strategic campaigns, said he misread a Friday communication from the labor relations board, believing that it concerned an unfair labor practice complaint the hospital filed Sept. 7 accusing the union of not bargaining in good faith.

In fact, the withdrawn claim concerned one of the union’s own allegations against the hospital — about a new absenteeism policy.

“It was a mistake. It wasn’t made in bad faith,” Simon said of the error that led to the news release. “We did the right thing instantly when it was brought to our attention.”

Registered nurses continue to work under terms of a contract that lapsed Sept. 30, 2016, but is officially terminated. Nurses held a one-day strike Oct. 3, returning to work Oct. 8, after a four-day lockout.

Simon learned of the mistake when he received a sharply worded letter Tuesday afternoon from Arthur J. Milano Jr., the hospital’s vice president for human resources, while Simon was attending contract talks with another employer.

Milano called on the union to “immediately and fully retract your false claim.”

“The MNA is apparently so fixated upon destroying the good reputation that the clinical teams at Berkshire Medical Center have built,” Milano said in the letter, “that it has now chosen to invent a story that the hospital has given up on its charge that, in service to your statewide agenda, the MNA has been engaged in a year-long pattern of bad faith bargaining.”

The hospital provided a copy of Milano’s letter to The Eagle, along with supporting labor relations board documents.

Milano went on to renew claims that the union values its agenda over the interests of its members. It represents nearly 800 registered nurses at BMC.

The union’s release includes quotes from two veteran nurses, one of whom calls the hospital’s complaint a “public relations ploy, one of many baseless accusations Berkshire Medical Center has aimed at its own nurses rather than settle a fair contract.”

To the union’s embarrassment, the baseless charge was its own.

Joe Markman, a spokesman for the union, said both nurses were told in error that the hospital’s complaint about bargaining in bad faith had been pulled.

“The MNA made a mistake in saying the charge was withdrawn,” he said. “We do apologize for making that mistake and putting out information that was not correct.”

In his letter, Milano scolded Simon for soliciting comments from the two nurses, whose views have been featured in union communications for the past several months, along with those of other members of the union’s bargaining committee.

“In support of your fictitious claim,” Milano wrote, “you have even gone so far as to attribute baseless quotes to our nurses, Alex Neary and Gerri Jakacky, celebrating our supposed withdrawal of the charge.”

Typically, federal mediators involved in health care negotiations hope for a “cooling off” period after a strike or job action. Strikes also were called this year at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

On Tuesday, temperatures were rising, as the hospital executive took aim at the union’s work in support of a possible referendum next year on nurse staffing levels in Massachusetts hospitals.

Disagreement between the hospital and the union over what constitutes safe and proper staffing by registered nurses remains a top issue 13 months into contract talks. No new bargaining sessions have been scheduled since the strike and lockout the week of Oct. 1.

“Your current claim about the hospital,” Milano told Simon in his letter, “only convinces us more that the union targeted three Massachusetts hospital systems for labor actions this year just to raise public awareness of its 2018 ballot question designed to fatten the ranks and treasury of the union.”

Source of mistake

Simon took responsibility Tuesday for misreading the labor relations board notice.

“We do take accuracy quite seriously,” he said.

He said the two nurses quoted in the news release are not to blame for the error.

“It’s not their fault that they had that mistaken belief,” Simon said. He noted that the union’s retraction was issued minutes after he received Milano’s letter notifying him of the error.

When asked about Milano’s suggestion that the union cares more about a “statewide agenda” than about BMC nurses, Simon said: “If that was the case, we wouldn’t have corrected the record about 10 minutes after this coming to our attention.”

The unfair labor practice complaint that was withdrawn had been filed in late July, after the union learned of a new absenteeism policy.

“Management has broadened the circumstances in which absentee occurrences will be disciplined without regard for the reason for said absences or any other changes,” Simon wrote in the July 27 complaint.

Markman said that complaint was dropped because the union learned that the policy did not apply to nurses represented through the collective bargaining.

Meantime, the hospital’s complaint accusing the union of not bargaining in good faith remains under review by the labor relations board. It was filed Sept. 7 and alleges that, after more than 28 bargaining sessions, starting in August 2016, the union has not made any “significant material modification from its original demands.”

The union counters that it has adapted its proposals, backing away from an early call for staffing ratios to a request that the hospital consider allowing the nurses supervising units to be spared patient assignments so they can assist other nurses when needed.

“Nurses all along were ready to make new proposals,” Markman said. One was advanced Sept. 27, he said, the week before the strike and lockout.

He said the union will return to the table with the proposal about “charge” nurses intact, because members want that in their next contract.

“We’re hoping to get back to the table as soon as possible,” Markman said. The union has provided the federal mediator with prospective dates for resumed negotiations.

On Tuesday, three weeks after the one-day strike, the union will hold a rally with speakers from 5 to 7 p.m. outside the Pittsfield hospital. Markman said the union wants to send the message that, while nurses are no longer on a picket line, they are pressing for a contract on their terms.

“To show the public that this is not over,” he said. “We’re hoping to have a really big turnout.”

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.

Joint Press Release from Vice President Mike Pence and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on the Second Round of the …

Posted by on 11:29 am in Press Release | 0 comments

Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso met today for the second round of the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue.

At today’s meeting, Vice President Pence and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, as Chairs of the Economic Dialogue, affirmed the importance of strengthening bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties. Fostering strong domestic demand-driven growth and fair trade practices can expand trade and foreign direct investment between our two countries that contribute to economic growth and job creation and result in more balanced trade. Both sides committed to build on momentum in the Dialogue to demonstrate progress in the near future.

Common Strategy on Trade and Investment Rules/Issues

Technical-level work is underway that is to (1) result in more effective enforcement activities against unfair trade practices by third countries, as well as (2) identify new areas of common interest for promoting high trade and investment standards.

Some initial progress was made on bilateral trade issues, including the lifting of restrictions on Japanese persimmons and on U.S. potatoes from Idaho. In the area of autos trade, Japan will streamline noise and emissions testing procedures for U.S. automobile exports certified under Japan’s Preferential Handling Procedure (PHP). Japan committed to ensure meaningful transparency and fairness in its system for geographical indications (GIs) in accordance with its domestic law and procedures, including those receiving protection through international agreements. Japan also committed to ensure meaningful transparency continuously with respect to reimbursement policies related to life sciences innovation. Both sides affirmed that they would intensify work to achieve further progress in the near term on bilateral trade issues.

Cooperation in Economic and Structural Policies

The United States and Japan reaffirmed the active use of the three-pronged approach (mutually-reinforcing fiscal, monetary, and structural policies) affirmed by the G7 members.

The United States and Japan share the view that financial regulatory regimes should be calibrated to reduce regulatory costs and burdens, while maintaining high standards of safety and soundness and ensuring the accountability of the financial system to the public.

As major shareholders in the Multilateral Development Banks, the United States and Japan are committed to working closely together to promote sustainable and inclusive development, consistent with the highest international standards and debt sustainability.

Sectoral Cooperation

The United States and Japan are coordinating on specific sectors to promote economic benefits and job creation in both countries. These focus on programs to increase investment and promote quality infrastructure, as well as to deepen energy ties; dialogues that develop shared strategies to level the global playing field for businesses; and activities that promote cooperation in specific sectors, including the digital economy, and inclusive workforce participation.

Our two countries affirmed that infrastructure projects in the Indo Pacific should be consistent with market competition and transparency, responsible financing arrangements, open and fair market access, and high standards of good governance.

Today, both governments concluded negotiations on a Memorandum of Cooperation to enhance cooperation in the transportation sector, including infrastructure development, financing, and maintenance, as well as intelligent transportation systems.

With respect to energy ties, both sides look forward to announcements in the near future on concrete achievements in a range of energy issues, including liquefied natural gas; highly efficient coal and carbon capture, utilization, and storage; civil nuclear energy; and energy infrastructure.

GWU withdraws news release on negative text messaging study, then doubles down on PR spin

Posted by on 11:29 am in Press Release | 0 comments

spinning top on the floorOn Friday October 6, shortly after our reviewers called its news release about a text messaging study “an exercise in spin,” George Washington University (GWU) withdrew that news release without explanation.

The following week, apparently after careful consideration, the news release was re-issued with a one-word change to the original: the addition of the word “some” to the headline.

Here’s the original headline: Text messaging program may help pregnant women kick the smoking habit

Here’s the revised headline: Text messaging program may help some pregnant women kick the smoking habit [emphasis added]

An asterisked footnote said, “The headline of this release was edited for clarity to match the content in the body of the release.”

Is the corrected news release accurate?

In their evaluation of the original news release, our reviewers expressed major concerns about the overall framing of the study results and how this seemed to conceal the fact that the results for the primary outcome were negative. They wrote:

“The reduction in smoking rates for the study overall was not statistically significant — full stop. That should have been the headline. It’s not acceptable for the release to bury the lack of statistical significance in the body of the text while claiming benefits in the headline.”

While slightly recalibrated, the revised, corrected headline maintains the framing of the original. And the negative result for the primary outcome is once again buried in the fifth paragraph.

We reached out to public relations experts at several academic institutions to ask them whether they thought the new, corrected headline was an accurate reflection of the study results. They didn’t mince words.

“The paper is a negative study,” said Preeti Malani, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan and contributor. “And that’s not how this press release reads.”

Preeti Malani, MD

Preeti Malani, MD

Malani is also an associate editor at JAMA and previously helped oversee the JAMA media relations department. She said the benefits touted in the headline were secondary outcomes that should be considered “exploratory and hypothesis-generating.”  The fact that they are emphasized in the headline and lead sentence will create a misleading impression for readers, she said. “We would never want people to walk away from this thinking, ‘Wow, these text messages are great,’ because that’s not what the study found.”

She suggested creative ways to frame the negative findings that wouldn’t run the risk of misinforming readers. “The fact that there are so many pregnant women smoking, that’s a big problem,” Malani said. “And maybe that’s one way to present the findings while still keeping it interesting and true to the science. Maybe your headline could be something like, ‘No magic bullet to help women quit smoking during pregnancy.’”

‘A rosy picture’ that’s not justified

Earle Holland, who was the senior science and medical communications officer at Ohio State University for 35 years before retiring, was even more pointed in his criticism.

Earle Holland

Earle Holland

“There’s a fundamental dishonesty here, first in the original release and now in their so-called remedy,” said Holland, who is also a contributor. “It suggests that GW media folks’ main interest is in painting a rosy picture rather than accurately explaining the outcomes of their research.”

Holland said that adding adding “some” to the headline makes it “more accurate, but not accurate enough,” adding that “the findings weren’t statistically significant, so the whole thrust of the release should have been reworked. If they were going to take it off EurekAlert! — which is basically a retraction — only to make a change, then they should have fixed everything.”

Michael L. Millenson, a health care consultant and researcher at Northwestern University who has studied the evidence base for health apps targeting consumers, said: “It’s distressing to see an academic press release with the kind of ‘spin’ on an app’s effectiveness the public might expect from a for-profit organization, not a university. While the details of the press release are careful not to make undue claims, the headline and first paragraph just as carefully imply more significant results than appear justified.”

Michael Millenson

Michael Millenson

Millenson added, “The FDA under the Trump administration has said it wants to pull back on premarket regulation of apps. The evidence base for these type of interventions is already modest, and the relaxing of regulation makes rigorous and reliable studies that much more vital.

GWU’s Director of Media Relations, Kathy Fackelmann, did not respond specifically to our request to address this criticism. When she notified us that the corrected release had been posted, she that GWU was “in the process of reviewing our news release practices keeping in mind some of the points in your review. We will also reach out to the reporters who contacted us about the release and send them the revised version just so that they are aware of the updated release.”

How should news releases be corrected?

Fackelmann’s comments raise the issue of how to deal with inaccurate news releases — a subject that also sparked strong opinions from experts. While some said it was appropriate to remove a flawed original and replace it with a corrected version — as GWU did in this case — others argued that the original should be maintained as part of the public record.

Joann Rodgers, a journalist and author who formerly led Johns Hopkins Medicine’s communications and public affairs division, said it was important to always consider the end user of the information in these types of situations.

Joann Rodgers

“In this case, that would call for ‘repeal and replace,’ with a note from the university public information officer/editor that a release titled (original title) was in error, has been removed from the site and replaced with a corrected version. It’s also a best practice to spell out the nature of the original error, so long as that does not lead to confusion.”

Rodgers, a contributor, said the GWU correction was inadequate to address the magnitude of the initial error, and that the “headline/lede graphs should have emphasized the ongoing difficulties in getting even motivated groups to quit smoking.” A secondary message could be that “some interventions work for some people some of the time,” she said.

Matt Shipman, a public information officer at North Carolina State University and contributor, said that “minor errors should be corrected, and the relevant release updated, as quickly as possible. I also think it’s appropriate to include a note specifying that changes were made and what those changes were.” But “If the errors are so egregious that the release is effectively moot, I think the entire thing should be taken down,” Shipman added. “In either case, the institution should attempt to identify any news outlets that ran stories based on the release and notify them of the mistakes as quickly as possible.”

Matt Shipman

However, Earle Holland, formerly of Ohio State, said that it was bad practice to delete the original flawed version of a news release that has been retracted. He likened it to “trying to rewrite history, or at least the public record,” and said that the flawed version would continue to linger on the Internet despite being scrubbed from university websites and PR wires.

Moreover, he said that at public universities, news releases may be subject to the state’s public records laws, which in most cases require the university to maintain the integrity of its official documents. Altering a news release might represent a violation of such laws, Holland said.

He noted that GWU, as a private institution, would not fall under any legal requirement to safeguard public documents. But he believes it’s still in the best interests of the reader to maintain the original flawed version, so that it’s available for comparison against the corrected version.

“The best way to handle situations where a release is found to be wrong is to add an editor’s note to that release stating the error and, if available, a link to a revised/corrected version of the release. It’s key to make sure the original release and any ‘fixed’ version are inseparable.”

Holland said it was important to admit to errors when they occur, which helps reinforce to the public the institution’s commitment to honesty and transparency. This also will remind some readers that science is often self-correcting, he added, and that findings can change as new information is available.

“And that is a message that is well worth sending,” Holland said.

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Rapaport Press Release: Peace Diamond Press Conference

Posted by on 10:07 am in Press Release | 0 comments

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Government of Sierra Leone and the Rapaport Group are pleased to
announce the Peace Diamond Press Conference, which will take place over
the internet on Tuesday October 17th at 2:00 pm Sierra Leone
time, 10:00 am NY Time. The press conference will provide details about
the auction sale of the 709 carat Peace Diamond including the viewing
schedule, auction date and location.

The Peace Diamond, discovered by artisanal diggers in the village of
Koryardu, Sierra Leone is being auctioned through official government
channels. Over 50% of the sale value will directly benefit the people of
Sierra Leone, as well as the village and district where the diamond was
found. It will directly fund clean water, electricity, school, medical
facilities, bridges and roads, none of which are currently available in

Buyers wishing to view and bid on the Peace Diamond and members of the
press, seeking images and videos are encouraged to email PeaceDiamond@Diamonds.Net.

The online press conference will be available via the internet at:

Telephone access will is also be available using webinar ID 411 517 548
at the following numbers:
US: +1 408 638 0968, +1 855 880
1246, Belgium: +32 (0) 2 588 4188, +32 800 267 88
+972 (0) 3 978 6688, +972 180 122 7228, India: 000 800 040 1530
: +852 5808 6088, 800 906 780
South Africa: +27 87
551 7702, +27 800 990 680, UK +44 (0) 20 3695 0088, +44 (0) 80
0031 5717

Additional international numbers available:

Todorić Posts Press Release, Calls ”Aggression” Against Him Political Affair

Posted by on 10:07 am in Press Release | 0 comments

The situation facing the ailing Agrokor company seems to have taken an even more personal turn as Ivica Todorić, assumed to currently be abroad, has publicly accused Gordan Jandroković of having access to information that he shouldn’t, and this morning, we woke up to the news that Ivica Todorić’s home, among the homes of other people of interest in Agrokor’s former management team, is being searched by the authorities.

As usual, we bring you Ivica Todorić’s latest blog post, this time in the form of a press release on the 16th of October, 2017, translated into English:

Although unexpected, because in Agrokor, the institutions of the legal state certainly won’t find any criminal offenses, the pressure of politics and the media lynch which has already ruled without justice has triggered an aggression against me and the people who, I can assure you, aren’t guilty.

If they’d found one euro of alienated or embezzled money on me, I’d have been in jail. But that simply isn’t true. This is a political process. I’m not ready to [just] look on and wait [as they do this through their well known ways].

Alongside my Croatian and my international legal team, I’m preparing [my] defense and lawsuits which will, in court epilogies, illuminate and bring to justice all those who, by [the act of] criminal activity and [the passing of an] unconstitutional law (Lex Agrokor), have created a screen for the biggest looting of private property in contemporary Europe.

That’s what I’ll do within the next few days, because they’ve seriously violated my human rights.

I’ll also be available to the institutions of the legal state, also to the Parliamentary Investigative Commission or its representatives, if, as was probably agreed during Saturday’s government meeting, it [the parliamentary investigative commission] is abolished in order to conceal the crimes and hide the truth.

I’ll continue to [publicly] fight for the truth which has to put a stop to the illegal and counter-offensive actions of Prime Minister Plenković, Minister Božinović (Interior Minister) and Mrs. Dalić (Deputy PM), who are politically supporting Ramljak and Agrokor’s [current] people, and who are causing unremunerated political, economic and financial damages to Croatia.

Neither arrests, nor any legal irregularity in the light of all these circumstances will prevent me [from doing that].


Ivica Todorić’s blog post (press release) translated from

Press Release: New Beginnings Stroke Group Meets Oct. 17

Posted by on 8:54 am in Press Release | 0 comments

Stroke survivors, caregivers, family members and friends are invited to share their accomplishments and struggles Oct. 17 during “New Beginnings,” a stroke support group that meets monthly.
Meetings are every third Tuesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at NorthBay VacaValley Health Plaza, 1010 Nut Tree Road, Suite 240. According to Beth Gladney, MSN, CCRN, SCRN, and Stroke Program Coordinator, the group provides a great opportunity for survivors and caregivers alike to get the support they need from people who understand what they’ve been through.
The meetings are designed to offer a helpful exchange of resources and information, and occasionally guest speakers will be invited to attend.
For information, contact Gladney at, or call (707) 646-4034.

Xbox One X games news, release date reveal, PS4 and Nintendo Switch boost

Posted by on 8:54 am in Press Release | 0 comments

Like any major console launch, stock is going to be an issue when it comes to supplying everyone.

And it looks like things will not be any different for Microsoft Xbox One X release.

Reports today are claiming that retailers are getting a much more limited supply than they have requested, meaning things could get a little tight.

Trade Magazine MCV UK has spoken to several retailers over the situation, stating: “Speaking with four other retailers, both indies and major chains, there was a general feeling that stock was in short supply when compared to the Xbox One’s launch.”

And speaking to Exertis, the current distributor, it was revealed that allocation is indeed limited ahead of the console’s November release date.

“We are seeing very high demand for Xbox One X and while we are doing our best to keep up with that demand, unfortunately it is the case that, as with any new console launch, there is a limited amount of stock available,” Exertis told MCV UK. 

“This is not specific to independent retailers and we are finding that every retailer would wish to have more Xbox One X stock for launch, which is reflective of the strong pre-order performance we are seeing.

“What we are doing is working very hard to keep supply flowing in the weeks immediately following launch, and we are hopeful that additional stock will be available in the subsequent weeks.”

The Xbox One X is already known to be one of Microsoft’s most successful console pre-order campaigns, although no exact figures have been shared.

Thanks to Tim Hortons, we can now drink Buffalo sauce-flavored lattes

Posted by on 8:13 am in Press Release | 0 comments

Have you ever said that the one thing missing from your morning latte was a spicy kick? Well, Tim Hortons has you covered.

The Canadian fast-food chain is debuting the Buffalo Latte. It has all the makings of your classic latte, plus “Buffalo sauce flavor” and “a dusting of zesty Buffalo seasoning.”

Tim Hortons

“Tim Hortons and Buffalo sauce were both born in 1964, so why not take these two Buffalo staples and combine them?” said Stephen Goldstein, Regional President, Tim Hortons U.S. in a press release. “The unlikely pairing of sweet mocha and tangy Buffalo sauce come together to create an unexpectedly delicious sweet and spicy treat we hope our guests will enjoy.”

The reactions to this “sweet and spicy treat” have been mixed.

The Buffalo Latte is only available in select stores in Buffalo, New York, so keep that in mind if you’re eager to try something new or you’re looking to stay far away from such a concoction.

More Drinks videos

Now there’s only one question left to ask: Does this come with a side of blue cheese or ranch?

NASA Press Release Says Our Solar System Has a 9th Planet

Posted by on 8:13 am in Press Release | 0 comments

Planet Nine

Earlier this month, NASA issued a press release stating that it’s likely that our solar system has a ninth planet—even if it’s proving difficult to find.

The planet could have a mass ten times that of Earth’s, and be situated twenty times as far from the sun as Neptune. It’s being referred to as “Planet Nine,” and while it’s very difficult to procure clear evidence of its existence, some scientists are absolutely convinced that it’s out there.

This image shows the strange, aligning orbits of six distant objects, evidence that our solar system has a ninth planet.This image shows the strange, aligning orbits of six distant objects, evidence that our solar system has a ninth planet.
The six most distant known objects in the solar system with orbits exclusively beyond Neptune (magenta) have a tilt and alignment that can only be maintained by some outside force. (Image credit: Caltech/R. Hurt, IPAC)

“There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine,” said Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who is part of a team on the search for the planet.

“If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them.”

The Evidence

In a 2016 paper, Batygin and co-author Mike Brown detailed six known objects in the Kuiper Belt that behave rather strangely. All of them have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction, and all of those orbits are tilted the same way. Both of these traits serve as clues to the presence of Planet Nine.

Computer simulations that took the hypothesized planet into account indicated that there should also be several other bodies with more extreme tilts from the solar plane, on the order of 90 degrees. Brown realized that astronomers are already aware of five such objects, meaning nature did fit with the simulations.

Planet Nine would also explain why the plane in which the other planets orbit is tilted about six degrees away from the sun’s equator: over time, Planet Nine’s distant gravity has made the entire solar system plane wobble away from center.

Finally, there are the objects in the Kuiper belt that orbit in the opposite direction of everything else in our solar system.

“No other model can explain the weirdness of these high-inclination orbits,” explained Batygin. “It turns out that Planet Nine provides a natural avenue for their generation. These things have been twisted out of the solar system plane with help from Planet Nine and then scattered inward by Neptune.”

Based on the behavior of these distant objects, the astronomers believe the planet to be a Super-Earth, a massive rocky planet that is extremely common in the universe—but which our solar system, oddly, lacks. The planet could have coalesced out in the cold reaches of our system over millions of years, formed close to the sun and then been flung outward, or even been captured by the Sun from another system.

Batygin and Brown are using the Subaru Telescope at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory to continue their search for Planet Nine. According to Batygin, this telescope is the best tool available to hunt down something dim and distant in the vast expanse of sky.

However, Planet Nine isn’t the only explanation for the orbital behaviors observed. A recent survey of the outer solar system found over 800 trans-Neptunian objects. A random distribution of this matter could also potentially have the same effect on the tilt on the traits observed in various orbits—but the jury is still out.