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A Teen Taught Herself to Hack, Then She Escaped a Cult

Shyama Rose says hacking is her 'reason for carrying on'

(Newser) - "There’s nothing that pisses me off more than someone doing something bad to someone who can’t protect themselves," Shyama Rose says. "That obviously stems from seeing children harmed." Glamour has a fascinating profile on Rose, a woman who taught herself to hack, then used... More »

Meet the Cult-Leading Nudist Who Worshipped Coconuts

He ate nothing but coconuts for 17 years

(Newser) - NPR has a fascinating look at a little-known 20th century eccentric named August Engelhardt, "a sun-worshipping German nudist" who ate nothing but coconuts and died "a freak show for tourists" in the South Pacific. Born in 1875, Engelhardt latched onto a movement that believed the raw and... More »

5 Evil Figures Who Had Surprising Pasts

Pol Pot, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Timothy McVeigh are among them

(Newser) - Adolf Hitler's early life as an aspiring artist is well-documented, but who knew that other mass murderers and despots had hopeful beginnings? A rundown, per Ozy :
  1. Pol Pot: The soon-to-be Cambodian despot lived it up in Paris as a foreign student of radio electronics in the late 1940s and
... More »

Cops: Teen Beaten to Death at Church 'Counseling Session'

6 church members—including victim's parents—arrested

(Newser) - Six members of a mysterious church in upstate New York were arrested Monday after a 19-year-old man died following a severe beating during a "counseling session," CBS News reports. Among the arrested were the victim's mother, father, and sister. His 17-year-old brother had also been beaten and... More »

Alleged US Cult Leader Arrested in Brazil

Victor Arden Barnard accused of child sex abuse

(Newser) - An alleged cult leader on the US Marshals' "Most Wanted" list who reportedly had kept a group of girls as young as 12 at his disposal in Minnesota—and who has been accused by two of the girls (now adults) of sexual abuse—was arrested in Brazil on Friday,... More »

Dad, Daughter Executed for McDonald's Murder

The two were members of Church of the Almighty God

(Newser) - China has executed a father and daughter after they were convicted of murdering a woman at a McDonald's , the BBC reports. Three others received jail time in the 2014 incident. The attackers were members of a banned cult known as Church of the Almighty God, and they were apparently... More »

Home of Ancient Cult Found in Israel

Giant complex contains animal bones, face masks

(Newser) - Archeologists in Israel have discovered a 3,300-year-old complex where an ancient cult likely gathered, UPI reports. The complex, at a site known as Tel Burna, is made up of rooms surrounding a giant courtyard measuring 52 feet by 52 feet. It's not certain who the cult worshiped, but... More »

Cult Is Gone to Suicide, but Website Lives On

Gizmodo explains the odd circumstances of

(Newser) - Members of the Heaven's Gate cult drank lethal doses of poison 17 years ago so they could be picked up by an alien spaceship and taken to the "next level" of life. But the mass suicide didn't apply to the group's website , which is still in... More »

'Evil Cult' Kills Woman in China McDonald's

Bystanders failed to intervene

(Newser) - The murder of a woman at a McDonald's in China has shocked the country not just because of the brutal nature of the crime, but because bystanders failed to intervene. The woman was beaten to death with chairs and a metal mop on Wednesday by people later identified as... More »

Suit: Teachers Turned Sisters Into Death Cultists

John, Jane Doe say Conn. teachers, counselor indoctrinated their girls

(Newser) - The girls at Connecticut's Avon High School were learning more than just Spanish in their Spanish classes, according to a lawsuit filed by one family. The parents, identified only as John and Jane Doe, say their older daughters—now ages 22 and 19—started acting differently while attending the... More »

How a Cult-Like Church Changed a Texas Town

The Church of Wells digs in against frustrated locals

(Newser) - Andy and Patty Groves were dying to see their daughter again. Distraught over her grandfather's death, Catherine Groves joined a cult-like church in the tiny town of Wells, Texas. So her parents drove to Wells, where Catherine, now a docile believer, would only meet them in a shotgun shack... More »

4 Celebs With Cults in Their Pasts

Michelle Pfeiffer isn't the only one

(Newser) - Michelle Pfeiffer recently revealed she was in a cult before she became famous—and she's not the only celebrity with a cult or commune in her past. The Stir rounds up five more. A sampling:
  • Joaquin Phoenix and his family (including brother River) were involved with the well-known Children
... More »

Michelle Pfeiffer: I Was in a Cult

'Very controlling' couple believed in 'breatharianism'

(Newser) - Before she became famous, Michelle Pfeiffer met a "very controlling" couple who became "kind of personal trainers" for her ... until she realized she was actually in a cult. The couple "believed that people in their highest state were breatharian," meaning they could live without food or... More »

Underworld Skeleton Saint Now Trendy in US

La Santa Muerte gaining in popularity

(Newser) - A follower in New Orleans built a public shrine in her honor. An actor in Albuquerque credits her with helping him land a role on Breaking Bad. She turns up routinely along the US-Mexico border at safe houses, and is sighted on dashboards of cars used to smuggle methamphetamine through... More »

Graham Axes Mormonism From His List of Cults

Just in time for a 'WSJ' ad backing conservative candidates

(Newser) - Billy Graham moved this week to obviously embrace Mitt Romney for president. But there was something he had to do first: remove Mormonism from his website's list of "cults." Until this week Mormonism was on a list with Scientology on the reverend's Evangelistic Association site. The... More »

Cult Busted for Eating Sorcerers

New Guinea group thought witch doctors were charging too much

(Newser) - Twenty-nine members of an alleged cannibal cult have been arrested in Papua, New Guinea, for allegedly hunting, killing, and eating at least seven sorcerers, police revealed today. They allegedly ate their victims' brains raw and made a soup from their penises, the AFP reports. The gang was part of a... More »

Baptist Perry Backer Calls Mormonism a 'Cult'

Dallas pastor wants evangelicals to snub Mitt Romney

(Newser) - Rick Perry spoke today at the conservative Values Voter Summit, but the guy who introduced him seems to be stealing all the headlines. That would be Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor of a Dallas megachurch who told reporters later that Mormonism is a "cult" and that evangelicals should therefore... More »

Some Russians Worship Putin— Literally

Sect thinks he's the reincarnation of St. Paul

(Newser) - At the Chapel of Russia's Resurrection, in a village 250 miles east of Moscow, the parishioners pray to a most unusual patron saint—Vladimir Putin, who they consider a reincarnation of St. Paul, reports Der Spiegel . The church was founded by a woman who calls herself "Mother Fotina"... More »

Haggis: I Ditched Scientology Because It's Anti-Gay

More from the New Yorker: 'Moral issue' finally breaks tie, screenwriter

(Newser) - More from the New Yorker's 26-page Scientology takedown: Screenwriter Paul Haggis finally broke with Scientology after years in the cult because of its stands against homosexuality, he has revealed. "I was in a cult for 34 years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't,"... More »

'Suicide Cult' Leader Held for Psych Probe

Mom Reyna Marisol Chicas on 72-hour mandatory mental watch

(Newser) - The head of a southern California cult police feared planned to commit mass suicide is being held in a locked-down mental health ward for psychiatric evaluation. Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, was taken into custody after she and 12 members of her group, including as many as eight children, were found... More »

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