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In Japan, Signs Suggest Mass Execution Might Occur

Japan sentenced 13 Aum Shinrikyo members to die for sarin, other attacks

(Newser) - Japan may be readying itself for a mass hanging. The Guardian reports that signs suggest the long-awaited executions of the doomsday cult members behind the infamous 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway may soon come to pass. The two big indications: It reports the country typically holds... More »

Cops Bust 'Psycho Sect' That Pushed Strict Macrobiotic Diet

Italian police say one follower of Mario Pianesi dropped to just 77 pounds

(Newser) - He called doctors "assassins" and convinced sick followers to adhere to a strict macrobiotic diet, police in Italy say. But in reality, police say those who followed the teachings of 73-year-old Mario Pianesi and his 51-year-old wife were fleeced for money, manipulated into working for next to nothing for... More »

Missing Girls Found in Raid on Cult Compound

Police say they were kidnapped by their father

(Newser) - Two Utah girls have been found safe nearly three months after they were allegedly kidnapped by their father, who family members feared had betrothed them to a polygamist sect leader. John Coltharp, said to be 33 or 34, was arrested in Sanpete County Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and obstruction... More »

She's Charged in Child's Death. Officials Think It Goes Deeper

'Cult leader' Anna Young arrested over 1980s death of toddler

(Newser) - An indictment related to the death of a child is always a grim happening, but in the case of Anna Elizabeth Young, it might be the start of something much more awful. The Gainesville Sun reports the 75-year-old was arrested Friday near Atlanta in connection with the late 1980s death... More »

She Thought It Would Be a Tattoo. It Was a Branding

Women recount bizarre initiation of secret group within Nxivm self-help organization

(Newser) - It's called Nxivm, pronounced Nex-e-um, and thousands have gone through its various self-help and executive training seminars since the 1990s. As the New York Times explains in a lengthy story about the group, most people take a few classes and leave after that. But others become devoted adherents to... More »

R. Kelly's Alleged Victim Speaks Out

Jocelyn Savage says she's 'never been held hostage'

(Newser) - R. Kelly and one of his alleged victims are hitting back following a BuzzFeed report alleging the singer holds women captive in a cult. In a statement released through his lawyer, Kelly says he is "alarmed and disturbed" and "unequivocally denies such allegations," adding he "will... More »

BuzzFeed Out With Damning Report on R. Kelly

Parents accuse him of keeping their daughters in a 'cult'

(Newser) - Singer R. Kelly is no stranger to controversy, and a lengthy new report at BuzzFeed has just served up a huge new portion. The bombshell allegation: Parents say the 50-year-old singer is keeping young women in an abusive "cult" at his various properties and controlling their every move. The... More »

The Biggest Self-Help Charlatan You Never Heard Of

Napoleon Hill wrote a best-selling book, but he also lived a life of 'countless scams'

(Newser) - Long before Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins started preaching about how to be the best you possible, Napoleon Hill was peddling his own self-help mantras, penning 1937's Think and Grow Rich and inspiring not just cult-like behavior, but an actual cult. Matt Novak dives into Hill's jaw-dropping backstory... More »

Escape After 30 Years as an 'Unperson'

'New Yorker' tells horrifying story of 'Rosie,' who grew up in dad's South London cult

(Newser) - In 2013, a 30-year-old woman named Rosie escaped from a life of captivity—and her story, as told by Simon Parkin in the New Yorker , is a terrifying one of human imprisonment, beatings, and mind games. She grew up shuttled from one rundown South London home to another, always with... More »

Biggest Bioterror Attack in US Was All About an Election

It was a dry-run in the lead-up to Election 1984

(Newser) - If the run-up to Election 2016 has given you agita, take comfort in that fact that it could have been worse: It was literally sickening back in 1984. Writing for Gizmodo , Matt Novak digs into the story of what he frames as the "single largest bioterrorism attack on US... More »

Woman at Center of Korea Scandal: 'I Deserve Death'

Cult leader's daughter mobbed outside Seoul court

(Newser) - Telling reporters Monday that she "deserves death," the woman at the center of a scandal roiling South Korea met prosecutors examining whether she used her close ties to President Park Geun-hye to pull government strings from the shadows and amass an illicit fortune, the AP reports. "Please,... More »

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 »

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