NXIVM leader Keith Raniere charged with sex trafficking
Keith Raniere, the co-founder of the NXIVM corporation, a secretive Colonie-based organization that an expert has called an "extreme cult," was arrested in Mexico this week by the FBI based on a federal criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York.
The complaint, filed recently in connection with an ongoing federal grand jury investigation being headed by the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, charges Raniere with multiple counts of sex trafficking and forced labor.
The federal complaint alleges that Raniere, known as "The Vanguard," took part in forming a secretive group within NXIVM in which women said they were coerced into joining a slave-master club and later branded with a design that included the initials of Raniere and Allison Mack, an actress and NXIVM associate who is identified in the complaint as an unnamed co-conspirator.
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But the federal complaint said that emails seized from Raniere's private messaging accounts "support the conclusion that Raniere created" the club, which was known as "Dominus Obsequious Sororium," which means "Master Over the Slave Women."
Idaho priest busted with massive trove of kiddie porn, allegedly had ‘desires to rape and kill children’
A retired Idaho priest is facing more felony charges as prosecutors say he had 2,000 images and videos, including images that depicted the rape and torture of kids.
Prosecutors say they have since discovered chat logs in which Rev. W. Thomas Faucher talked about his “desires to rape and kill children.”
“There are countless, countless, countless graphic chat conversations on his computer where he is very specific about how his sexual interests are evolving,” a prosecutor told the court while filing new charges. “He discusses in great detail the desires he has to sexually abuse and even kill children.”
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In February, police raided his home and found a massive trove of child pornography and drugs after an adult came forward with charges that he molested them 40 years ago. Some of the images involved infants, prosecutors said.
Evangelicals scrambling as Chicago pastor accused of decades of sexual misconduct
The pastor of a Chicago megachurch stands accused of many episodes of sexual misconduct going back years, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
The allegations against Rev. Bill Hybels cover decades and include unwanted kissing, an affair with a married woman and inviting women in his congregation into his hotel room while traveling.
The report has sent the moderate evangelical world into a tizzy—Hybels and his wife are now reportedly estranged from their closest allies including the famous pastors John and Nancy Ortberg.
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Hybels emerged as a “cool” youth pastor riding a Harley-Davidson and quickly grew his flock. Unlike many other non-denominational megachurches, Willow Creek elevated women to senior positions—but that allowed the former pastor to prey on ambitious young women, according to Nancy Beach, who started at Willow Creek and is now a prominent evangelical thought leader.
JK Rowling's Pottermore Has Just Sacked Loads Of Its Editorial Staff
According to a well-placed source, Pottermore sacked a string of editorial staff over the last few days, including both senior and junior staff who were making original content for the website.
The redundancies will be a huge blow to fans of the website, which boasts more than 2.2 million followers on Facebook and another 2 million on Twitter.
"I think turning Pottermore into an editorial site a few years ago was a lovely idea with the potential to be great, but the execution has been disappointing," a former Pottermore employee told BuzzFeed News.
"It’s essentially a glorified merchandise shop with some cute articles that might appeal to hardcore fans but don’t have enough of a point of difference from the rest of the internet’s writing about Harry Potter to survive."
How Did Astronaut DNA Become 'Fake News'?
“After year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly no longer has same DNA as identical twin,” the headline of a story on the Today show’s website, published Thursday, declared. Seven percent of his DNA, the story says, “has not returned to normal since he returned from space.”
Pretty amazing news, right? Too bad it’s not true.
This week, dozens of news organizations published stories with this or similar information. They cited a nasa study on the effects of space travel on the human body, with two subjects: astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, identical twins. In 2015, Scott flew to the International Space Station and lived there for 340 days—a record for an American astronaut—while Mark stayed on Earth. Scientists examined the twins before, during, and after the mission.
While the study certainly detected some interesting changes in Scott after his return, space did not alter 7 percent of Scott’s DNA, the genetic code found in the cells in our bodies that makes us what we are.
A Giant US Retail Corporation Just Filed a Patent For Autonomous Robot Bees
Like an episode out of Black Mirror, Walmart has filed a patent for autonomous robotic bees, technically called pollination drones, that could potentially pollinate crops just like real bees.
The drones would carry pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops.
First spotted by CB Insights, the robot bee patent appears along five other patents for farming drones, including one that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health. Walmart did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
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In recent years, scientists have searched for solutions to the decline of honeybees, which pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat and are dying at unprecedented rates largely because of a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. (In 2017, however, these deaths declined from the year prior.)
Canadian Amateurs Discovered a New Type of Aurora
Researchers have discovered a new type of the aurora, also known in Europe and North America as the Northern Lights. The newly described phenomenon appears as a narrow, glowing ribbon of lavender and emerald, emblazoned in the sky from east to west.
This new feature differs from the long-studied “classical” aurora in several ways. It can be seen from much closer to the equator than its more famous twin, and it emanates from a spot twice as high in the sky. It was also first described and studied not by cultivated researchers—like those who coined the moniker aurora borealis—but by devoted amateurs. They were among the first to photograph the ethereal streak of purple light, and they were the first to give it a name.
That name is Steve. The discovery of Steve is described in a paper published Wednesday in Science Advances.
It’s a scientific accomplishment that would make headlines even if amateurs had not taken part—or if it had received a less remarkable name. Scientists have not discovered a new aurora-related phenomenon since the early 1990s, said Lawrence Lyons, a professor of physics at UCLA who was not connected with the paper.
Famed Archaeologist 'Discovered' His Own Fakes at 9,000-Year-Old Settlement
A famed archaeologist well-known for discovering the sprawling 9,000-year-old settlement in Turkey called Çatalhöyük seems to have faked several of his ancient findings and may have run a "forger's workshop" of sorts, one researcher says.
James Mellaart, who died in 2012, created some of the "ancient" murals at Çatalhöyük that he supposedly discovered; he also forged documents recording inscriptions that were found at Beyköy, a village in Turkey, said geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger, president of the Luwian Studies Foundation. Zangger examined Mellaart's apartment in London between Feb. 24 and 27, finding "prototypes," as Zangger calls them, of murals and inscriptions that Mellaart had claimed were real.
"He used the same approach for over 50 years," Zangger told Live Science. "He would first acquire a tremendously broad and deep knowledge [about the area he was interested in]. Then, he would try to use this knowledge to develop a coherent historic panorama," Zangger said. This process in itself is not uncommon for an archaeologist or historian. The only difference is that legitimate researchers then look for evidence that either supports or refutes their ideas. Instead, "Mellaart would fabricate drawings of artifacts and translations of alleged documents to reinforce his theories," Zangger said. [See Photos of the Remains of Çatalhöyük]
Is Marijuana the World's Most Effective Treatment for Autism?
It’s morning in Nahariya, a tiny Israeli town near the Lebanese border, and 4-year-old Benjamin is repeatedly smashing his head against the wall. He spins wildly in circles, screeching at full volume. As his mother tries frantically to calm him, he pulls down his pants and defecates on the floor.
When they leave their apartment, Benjamin wrestles free of her hand and nearly runs into oncoming traffic. Sharon attempts a trip to the supermarket but leaves before she finishes shopping because her son is screaming while he picks up items and throws them to the floor.
That was in October 2016, and typical of most days at the time. Sharon, a single mother who moved to Israel from the United States one year earlier, was alone and losing control. Benjamin was taking Ritalin, a drug usually associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which he did not have. He’d also tried the antipsychotic ziprasidone and a mix of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. None of them helped, and he often became more hyperactive as they wore off.
All that changed a year ago, when Benjamin started taking marijuana. In the little apartment he shares with his mother, mornings are now relaxed and orderly. His transformation may signal the arrival of a long-awaited and desperately needed healing for the many others just like him: children living with severe autism.
Pictures Capture the Invisible Glow of Flowers
Take a look at some of the flowers photographed by Craig Burrows and you might feel as if you’ve suddenly been transported into the alien world of Pandora from James Cameron’s Avatar. Brightly pigmented petals starkly contrast a black background as specks of light, like glitter or fireflies, scatter across the blossoms.
It’s hard to believe, but Burrow’s work isn’t fiction—it’s science.
To capture these otherworldly images he uses a technique called ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence photography, or UVIVF for short. The process uses ultraviolet light to cause substances to fluoresce, so the light being imaged is actually radiating from the subject itself. Think: the way your white t-shirt glows while cosmic golfing. (See a miniature shark species that glows in the dark.)
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“Reflected ultraviolet and infrared photography reveal secrets which we can’t see, but are nonetheless very important in nature,” says Burrows. “I think it’s important that these things remind us to keep exploring and looking for things that go ignored or unobserved.”
Some gut feelings are a red flag, according to new FSU research
Are you guided by gut feelings?
A Florida State University neuroscientist concludes you are, if not by choice then perhaps subconsciously. Research by psychology professor Linda Rinaman finds gut-to-brain signals are a powerful influence on emotions, mood and decisions — typically by prompting you to avoid certain situations.
The paper, published in Physiology and co-authored by James Maniscalco, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, advances scientists’ understanding of how the gut-to-brain circuit operates.
“We are excited about the animal research reviewed here, including our own work, because it potentially translates to humans,” Rinaman said. “We know the gut-brain pathways are very similar across mammalian species — from mouse to human. We expect these lines of research will help us better understand how gastrointestinal functions contribute to both normal and disordered mental function.”
ESP: Inside the government's secret program of psychic spies
In the 1970s, a handsome ex-Israeli army paratrooper popularized extrasensory perception, or ESP. Uri Geller claimed he could bend spoons with his mind, see inside sealed containers, and even read other people's minds.
It was great television. But off-stage, Geller had also caught the eye of the intelligence community.
"This is where it got very interesting, because scientists would consider, 'Wait a minute, maybe we can read the minds of other government officials; maybe we can see inside a nuclear facility in Russia,'" said national security reporter Annie Jacobsen.
It sounds incredible, but it's true. Relying on now-declassified documents, Jacobsen has written about the U.S. government's decades-long to attempts to use Uri Geller, and others like him, for psychic espionage.