Nov 13, 2022


Detective Leah Remini Just Dropped Another Scientology Bombshell

When Remini left the church, she said her “first goal” was to find her missing friend. “In 2013, after I left Scientology, I filed a missing person’s report with the LAPD on Shelly,” Remini began. “By the time I filed the report, it had been nearly eight years since I had seen or heard from Shelly.” She recalls being told she “didn’t have the rank” to ask about Shelly, when Remini inquired as to why she wasn’t present at Cruise’s wedding. “Shelly was always with her husband. She was his shadow, not only because she was married to him but also because she was his top aide. For her not to be in attendance was not only unusual but also unimaginable.”

Mere hours after filing the report, Remini said she found out the case had already been closed via the press, and the LAPD was uncooperative when she prompted them for further information. “When I asked if detectives had spoken to or had seen Shelly themselves, I was told that was “classified” by the LAPD,” she tweeted. “I was told to file a public record request if I wanted further information. I spent $50k in attorneys fees filing various requests. My requests for information from the LAPD were shut down. I still don’t know anything about the circumstances of this investigation,” she continued.

The most unsettling detail in the thread, however, is Remini’s memory of meeting with LAPD veteran Cory Palka. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Palka is currently being investigated for his close (read: entirely inappropriate and deeply suspect) relationship with CBS and its besmirched CEO, Les Moonves. Palka is alleged to have colluded with Moonves and other executives in fighting a former employee’s accusations that Moonves had sexually assaulted her.

. . .

Palka, Remini recalls, was the officer to whom she filed the report about Shelly. Even then, she suspected he had ties to the institution. “When I met with Cory Palka about Shelly, he had a letter on his desk thanking him for all his help with Scientology matters and inviting him to come and have lunch, as a guest, at the Celebrity Center.”

Uproar after Irish priest says Varadkar and other gay politicians will go to hell

A Catholic priest has caused uproar in Ireland after declaring that the deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, and other gay politicians will go to hell.

Fr Seán Sheehy, 80, condemned homosexuality, trans rights and abortion rights from the pulpit and in media interviews this week, drawing widespread censure, including from his own bishop.

. . .

The row flared on Sunday when the priest gave an outspoken homily at St Mary’s church in Listowel in his native County Kerry, reportedly causing dozens of people to walk out.

The bishop of Kerry, Raymond Browne, apologised and said Sheehy’s views did not “represent the Christian position”.

. . .

Sheehy returned to Ireland from the US in 2008 to serve as a parish priest. He was removed from his post a year later after telling a court a convicted rapist had “not an abusive bone in his body”. Sheehy is now retired and delivered the homily in Listowel while covering for a parish priest who was away.

Meditation works as well as a popular drug to reduce anxiety, study finds

If you're suffering from anxiety, those negative thoughts and bad feelings can overwhelm you and interfere with your daily life. And while there are effective treatments, some people don't want to take medicine or see a therapist – or don't respond well to such treatments. Now, there's new evidence supporting another option.

For the first time, scientists compared patients who took an intensive eight-week mindfulness meditation program to patients who took escitalopram, the generic name of the widely-prescribed and well-studied anxiety drug Lexapro. They found that both interventions worked equally well in reducing debilitating anxiety symptoms.

. . .

"It does suggest that both treatments are helpful, and about equally so," says Michael Mrazek, a research associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin and the co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"Importantly, the study shows that MBSR can achieve similar outcomes with tremendously fewer side effects," Mrazek tells NPR in an email. Side effects of escitalopram include suicidal thoughts in extreme cases, but more commonly diarrhea, loss of sexual desire or ability, nausea, and constipation.

Study claims to find first direct evidence of a link between low serotonin and depression

Scientists claim to have found the first direct evidence that people with depression have a reduced capacity for releasing serotonin in the brain.

The findings from a brain-imaging study reignite a debate within psychiatry over the so-called serotonin hypothesis of depression and challenge the conclusions of an influential review published in July that found “no clear evidence” that low serotonin levels are responsible. The latest work, led by scientists at Imperial College London, suggested that people with depression have a decreased serotonin response.

“This is the first direct evidence that the release of serotonin is blunted in the brains of people with depression,” said Prof Oliver Howes, a consultant psychiatrist based at Imperial College and King’s College London, and a co-author. “People have been debating this question for 60 years, but it’s all been based on indirect measures. So this is a really important step.”

. . .

“It’s the closest anyone has been able to get so far,” said Howes. “It’s hard to measure these transmitters in the brains of living people. We can’t put a pipette in there and take a sample. This is the closest we’re likely to come.”

Astronomers have detected another ‘planet killer’ asteroid. Could we miss one coming our way?

NASA closely tracks all known objects in the Solar System. But every now and again an object will catch us off guard.

In 2021, we had a close call with an asteroid called 2021 UA1. It came only a few thousand kilometres from Earth, over the Antarctic. In cosmic terms, this is uncomfortably close. However, 2021 UA1 was only two metres across, and therefore posed no substantial risk.

There are likely hundreds of millions of objects of this size in our Solar System, and it’s not uncommon for them to impact Earth. In these cases, most of the object burns up in the atmosphere and creates a spectacular light show, with little risk to life.

In 2019 another asteroid with a 100m diameter passed Earth some 70,000km away. It was publicly announced mere hours before it flew past. While it wasn’t as close, it was of a much more concerning size.

These near misses reiterate how important it is for us to speed up the search for near-Earth objects.

Scientists watched a star explode in real time for the first time ever

Astronomers have watched a giant star blow up in a fiery supernova for the first time ever — and the spectacle was even more explosive than the researchers anticipated.

According to a new research published Jan. 6 in the Astrophysical Journal, scientists began observing the doomed star — a red supergiant called SN 2020tlf and located approximately 120 million light-years from Earth — more than 100 days before its last, cataclysmic collapse. During that time, the researchers witnessed the star erupt with dazzling bursts of light as massive globs of gas exploded from its surface.

These pre-supernova fireworks surprised the researchers because earlier observations of red supergiants on the verge of exploding showed no signs of violent emissions, they said.

"This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die," lead study author Wynn Jacobson-Galán, a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley said in a statement. "For the first time, we watched a red supergiant star explode!"

Closest black hole to Earth discovered lurking in our 'cosmic backyard'

Astronomers have discovered the nearest known black hole to Earth, and it’s twice as close as the previous record holder.

The space-time singularity, named Gaia BH1, is 1,566 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus and is roughly 10 times more massive than our sun. It’s close enough to our planet to be considered "in our cosmic backyard," researchers said in a statement.

Gaia BH1 is not alone; it’s part of a binary system with a sun-like star that it orbits at around the same distance as Earth orbits the sun. The system, which was described in a Nov. 4 study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is the first of its kind ever observed in the Milky Way.

"While there have been many claimed detections of systems like this, almost all these discoveries have subsequently been refuted," lead author Kareem El-Badry, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, said in the statement. "This is the first unambiguous detection of a sunlike star in a wide orbit around a stellar-mass black hole in our galaxy."

Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA Discovered in Ancient South Americans

Scientists investigating the genomes of ancient South Americans have made a surprising discovery: the presence of DNA from Neanderthals and Denisovans, two species of humans that are now extinct. The findings complicate our understanding of ancient South Americans and their ancestries.

The research, which interrogated human remains from Brazil, Panama, and Uruguay, also revealed migration patterns of these early South Americans across the continent. It’s the first time that Denisovan or Neanderthal ancestries have been reported in ancient South Americans. The research is published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“The presence of these ancestries in ancient Native American genomes can be explained by episodes of interbreeding between anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals and Denisovans, which should have occurred millennia before the first human groups entered the Americas through Beringia,” said Andre Luiz Campelo dos Santos, an archaeologist at Florida Atlantic University and the study’s lead author, in an email to Gizmodo.

The research affirmed archaeological evidence of north-to-south migration toward South America, but also indicated migrations occurred in the opposite direction, along the Atlantic coast.

Dozens of species were assumed to be mute — until they were recorded making sounds

In the animal kingdom, some creatures are famous for the sounds they make — birds and their songs, cats and their meows, frogs and their ribbits.

But some animals are more quietly mysterious. Do turtles talk? What about other lesser-known vertebrates such as tuataras, caecilians and lungfish?

The answer is yes, according to a new paper in Nature Communications presenting evidence that many species thought to be mute do in fact vocalize — and the researchers caught it on tape.

Want to hear the evidence? Here's the sound of a southern New Guinea giant softshell turtle. And here's a caecilian, a limbless amphibian that lives hidden underground.

Oculus Founder Making a VR Headset That Literally Kills You if You Lose Your Game

“The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me — you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it,” Luckey wrote in a blog post. “Pumped up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game.”

The killer headset is inspired by the Japanese anime series Sword Art Online, in which characters put on a NeveGear VR headset and discover that a mad scientist has trapped them in a virtual world. The players have to fight their way through a 100 floor dungeon to escape, with the catch being that if they die in the game, they die in real life.

Like the headset in SAO, Luckey’s VR headset will respond to a certain game-over screen that emits a lethal level of microwave charges which instantly destroy the player’s brain. But that’s all the progress Luckey has made in the project; he’s still ironing out the kinks to make sure that, you know, the headset doesn’t kill you unprovoked or something.

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