Jan 6, 2020


How Nicole Kidman Almost Got Tom Cruise to Leave Scientology

[A]fter marrying Cruise, Kidman played the role of the dutiful wife, working her way up the Scientology ladder. In Scientology, once one achieves full control over one's thoughts, thereby reaching the level of “Clear,” they may work their way up “The Bridge to Total Freedom,” or the spiritual ranks of the practice (each level will run you many thousands of dollars). These are called Operating Thetan (OT) levels. OT members are believed to have achieved a state of godliness, able to exercise full control over both their mind and their surrounding environment. Kidman is said to have reached OT II, wherein one’s confronted their past “incarnations” and released the accompanying negative energy.

. . .

But by late 1992, Kidman had become fed up with [David] Miscavige, in particular, and left Scientology. Cruise followed shortly thereafter, and by the time filming began on Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut across the pond in November 1996, the two had been separated from the practice for a few years. But Miscavige had his ways of remaining in the picture.

“Miscavige used all of Cruise’s household employees, including his assistant Michael Doven, who spied on him for 10 years on behalf of the Church of Scientology, to give Miscavige daily reports of what Cruise was up to,” says [Tony] Ortega.

“They were all Scientologists,” adds [Mike] Rinder, “so everything that went on in Tom’s life was reported to either Shelly or David Miscavige, and when they went to the U.K. for Eyes Wide Shut, they were sequestered.”

Pope Francis Ends 'Top Secret' Status For Sex Abuse Cases, Promising Transparency

Pope Francis is giving legal authorities access to documents and testimony about sexual abuse cases that were previously kept under the Catholic Church's highest level of confidentiality. By abolishing the concept known as the "pontifical secret" when it comes to clergy misconduct, Francis will also let victims see more information about their cases — and speak out about their experience.

. . .

Francis also changed the Catholic Church's policies about clerics and child pornography, in a second rescript that bans the possession or distribution of "pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen, for purposes of sexual gratification." That raises the minimum age for the subjects of such images from 14.

Boston, Mass., attorney Mitchell Garabedian — who has represented hundreds of abuse survivors — called the shift "a small step" toward transparency that could help victims as they try to heal. But he added that many law enforcement agencies likely already had the power to use subpoenas to obtain the same result. And Garabedian urged the pope to take a bigger step.

"It is also now time for Pope Francis to mandate that crimes be reported to the police by bishops, religious superiors and others," he said, "and to make documents and testimony public with the appropriate redactions of victims' names."

Alabama evangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 sex crimes

Acton Bowen, the evangelist who served as a youth minister for teenage boys and became a best selling author plead guilty Monday to sexual abuse charges involving six victims in Etowah County.

Bowen was scheduled to stand trial on Monday. The victims were in the courtroom when Bowen entered his plea according to Etowah County District Attorney Jody Willooughby.

The alleged victims claimed the now 38-year-old evangelist sexually abused them for months or in some cases, years. The complaints were dated from 2006 to as recently as April 2018.

The investigation into Bowen's life began after was arrested in Jefferson County after a three week investigation by Hoover Police Department's special victims unit. Police said the victim was a teenage family acquaintance.

Brazil spiritual healer sentenced to 19 years for four rapes

A spiritual healer in Brazil known as João de Deus, or John of God, received his first prison sentence on Thursday following a deluge of sex abuse allegations since late last year.

A judge in Goias state issued a sentence of 19 years and four months for four rapes of different women, according to a statement from the court. Lawyers for the 77-year-old João de Deus said in a statement that they will appeal the decision.

João Teixeira de Faria drew people from all over the world to his small city two hours west of capital, Brasilia, with promises he could treat everything from depression to cancer, and attended to as many as 10,000 patients per week. Hundreds of women, including his daughter, alleged he regularly engaged in abuse ranging from groping to rape.

Even Oprah Winfrey visited João de Deus in 2012 to interview him for her talk show, and called him “inspiring." After the accusations surfaced, Winfrey issued a statement saying she sympathized with the alleged victims and hoped they receive justice.

NASA Just Observed a Totally New Kind of Magnetic Eruption on The Sun

The surface of the Sun is never still. Upon this burning ball of gas, a continual flow of super-hot plasma creates ropes of magnetic fields that can twist and tangle with one another.

As the star rotates, these invisible lines snap apart and join together again, bursting into flares, storms and eruptions of plasma.

This phenomenon, known as magnetic reconnection, has been seen many times before on the Sun and even around our own planet, but we've only captured spontaneous reconnections in the past.

For the first time ever, astronomers at NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory have now observed a magnetic explosion on the Sun that was triggered by a nearby eruption - a forced reconnection rather than a spontaneous one.

Greenland rocks suggest Earth’s magnetic field is older than we thought

Magnetic minerals in ancient Greenlandic rocks suggest that Earth’s magnetic field arose at least 3.7 billion years ago. The finding pushes back the time of the magnetic field’s birth to about 200 million years earlier than the commonly accepted estimate — around the time life first appeared on Earth.

Scientists think that having a magnetic field makes Earth more hospitable to life. The field, which is generated by liquid iron sloshing about in the planet’s core, shields Earth from energetic particles flowing from the Sun. It helps the planet hold on to its atmosphere and maintain liquid water on its surface.

But very few rocks that are billions of years old, and thus could preserve evidence of when the magnetic field arose, have survived to the present day. The new report is a rare glimpse at what Earth was like billions of years ago.

Plants 'Scream' in the Face of Stress

Unlike human screams, however, plant sounds are too high-frequency for us to hear them, according to the research, which was posted Dec. 2 on the bioRxiv database. But when researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel placed microphones near stressed tomato and tobacco plants, the instruments picked up the crops' ultrasonic squeals from about 4 inches (10 centimeters) away. The noises fell within a range of 20 to 100 kilohertz, a volume that could feasibly "be detected by some organisms from up to several meters away," the authors noted. (The paper has not been peer reviewed yet.)

Animals and plants might listen and react to the silent screams of plants, and perhaps humans could too, with the right tools in hand, the authors added. The idea that "sounds that drought-stressed plants make could be used in precision agriculture seems feasible if it is not too costly to set up the recording in a field situation," Anne Visscher, a fellow in the Department of Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K., told New Scientist.

Like animals, plants respond to stress in a variety of ways; studies suggest that plants may release smelly chemical compounds or change their color and shape in response to drought and bites from hungry herbivores. Animals seem to recognize and respond to these botanical stress signals, and even other plants appear to pick up on the airborne scents wafting from their tense neighbors. Some previous research had suggested that plants react to sound, too, but questions remained about whether plants themselves emit detectable noises.  

Soupy Study: Minestrone Could Be A Secret Weapon Against Malaria

The unusual homework assignment at London's Eden Primary School was for a science week project cooked up by parent Jake Baum. He's a professor of cell biology and infectious diseases at Imperial College London, and his lab's job is to find new ways to combat malaria, which kills half a million children each year.

Baum figured he could teach young students about the process of medical research through something both tasty and understandable: the go-to soup recipes their families use when someone gets sick.

. . .

To Baum's surprise, with five of the soups, the color green was much dimmer — five of them were able to suppress growth by over 50% (and two of these even did about as well as a leading antimalarial, dihydroartemisinin).

In other soups, there was a lot less wiggling. Four were found to have blocked transmission activity by more than 50%.

Tomb Containing Three Generations of Warrior Women Unearthed in Russia

The Amazon warriors of ancient Greek lore were once considered mythical figures. But in recent years, archaeological work and genetic analysis have identified women buried with weapons, horseback riding equipment and other accoutrements traditionally associated with warriors.

Earlier this month, a team led by archaeologist Valerii Guliaev announced the discovery of a 2,500-year-old tomb in which four such women were buried together. The findings were published in the journal of the Akson Russian Science Communication Association this week.

The women belonged to a nomadic group called the Scythians and were found in one of 19 burial mounds studied during a decade-long survey of the western Russian village of Devitsa, reports Ruth Shuster for Haaretz. The youngest individual in the grave was 12 or 13 years old. Two were in their twenties, and the last was between 45 to 50 years old.

Interestingly, says Guliaev in a statement, women warriors were the norm, not the exception, in Scythian culture.

Bronze Age royal tombs unearthed in Greece

Archaeologists have discovered two royal tombs in Greece containing jewellery and artefacts dating back more than 3,000 years.

The finds include a gold ring depicting bulls flanked by sheaves of barley and a pendant showing an Egyptian goddess.

The US researchers say their discovery will provide new clues about early Mycenaean trade and culture.

The tombs are near the Bronze Age palace of Pylos, in Greece's southern Peloponnese region.

4,000-Year-Old Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Underworld May Be Oldest Illustrated ‘Book’

In ancient Egypt, death wasn’t merciful enough to end one’s troubles. The afterlife was fraught with peril, too, and the dead had to contend with something of a spiritual obstacle course to reach Rostau, the glorious realm of Osiris, god of death.

At least two paths to Rostau existed: one by land, another by sea. Both were arduous enough to require a guidebook, the aptly named Book of Two Ways. This intricate map of the ancient Egyptian underworld may be the first illustrated “book” in history. And archaeologists have now unearthed a 4,000-year-old-copy—possibly the oldest version ever found, reports Franz Lidz for the New York Times.

The find, described in a recent paper in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, nudges the history of ancient literature backward in time, underscoring the dedication and sophistication with which these individuals tackled the enigma of their own mortality.

“The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with life in all its forms,” says Rita Lucarelli, an Egyptology curator at the University of California, Berkeley, in an interview with Lidz. “Death for them was a new life.”

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