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24A.r.s Week in Review - 4/2/2000

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  • Rod Keller
    Apr 2, 2000
      Week in Review Volume 5, Issue 1
      by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2000

      Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant
      postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding
      week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as
      they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of
      significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors,
      whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a
      kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some
      of the most significant postings.

      The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles
      posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original
      articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to
      find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles
      in the newsgroup before expiring them.

      Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available.
      Subscriptions are also available on ONElist. Email
      weekinreview-subscribe@onelist.com or see http://www.onelist.com
      Week in Review is archived at:


      > Battlefield Earth

      The Wall Street Journal published an article on March 24th on Franchise
      Pictures and Battlefield Earth.

      "Big stars usually have to cut their fees by half or more, accepting
      instead profit-participation that in some cases reaches an enormous 40%,
      after costs have been recouped. Mr. Samaha's strategy is just weeks away
      from its biggest test yet, the May 12 release of a science-fiction epic
      called 'Battlefield Earth.' The film is the pet project of John Travolta,
      whose superstar clout failed to get it made for a dozen years. Script
      problems and a projected $100 million budget were often blamed, but many
      movie executives thought another big factor was the film's source
      materials 1982 novel by L. Ron Hubbard, late founder of the controversial
      Church of Scientology, which counts Mr. Travolta as a longtime member.

      "'Battlefield' is the first screen adaptation of any Hubbard
      science-fiction work, an achievement Mr. Travolta says is 'like putting
      Tennessee Williams' first works on the screen. It's a big deal.' Mr.
      Samaha, he adds, was 'smart to trust the artist.' 'Everyone thought I was
      crazy or mentally retarded' for tackling the project, Mr. Samaha says.
      Though the film has nothing to do with Scientology, some feared the
      Hubbard connection could provoke a backlash and make the film difficult to
      sell in places such as Germany and France, where Scientology has come
      under government attack. Even Mr. Travolta, Mr. Samaha recalls, warned
      that 'lots of people are going to come to you and try and persuade you and
      be negative about it.'

      "Franchise got it made by using a formula usually reserved for tiny
      independent films. Imperial Bank in Los Angeles provided loans to pay the
      production costs, which were slashed to a planned $50 million, but about
      80% of that was to be covered by the presale of foreign distribution
      rights. Mr. Travolta had been keen to make the project since the
      mid-1980s, when he first lent his name to screenplay adaptations of the
      1,050-page L. Ron Hubbard novel. Mr. Elwes and others say that the
      Hubbard tie is the main reason 'Battlefield' has never been made. Asked if
      he believes that the Hubbard connection placed extra hurdles in the film's
      way, Mr. Travolta says: 'I'll never know.' He adds that, 'If it were an
      issue secretly to someone, it would not be politically correct to voice

      "The Scientology question was raised numerous times and batted down by Mr.
      Samaha, who says he would bark: 'This is what the movie is about: It's
      'Planet of the Apes' starring John Travolta. You're either in or you're
      the f------ out.' Intertainment President Barry Baeres says that, given
      the controversy over Scientology in Germany, 'at first sight, you would
      say no to it.' But he succumbed to Mr. Samaha's insistence that
      'Battlefield Earth' was Scientology-free. Mr. Travolta has contributed
      some of his own money - more than $5 million, according to Mr. Samaha."

      From the Sunday Times on April 1st:

      "Battlefield Earth, currently in post-production, is most definitely one
      of Whitaker's baffling choices. Looking set to be, frankly, the most
      laughable film ever made, the sci-fi Armageddon-fest is based on a novel
      by the late founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, and features an
      extraterrestrial John Travolta (also, spookily, a member of the
      Scientology A-list), attempting total Earth takeover in Scary Spice's
      platform boots. Expect it to crash land later this year."

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      > Graham Berry

      Graham Berry is defending a lawsuit against Michael Hurtado, in a case
      involving allegations of illegal actions by Scientology. Graham filed a
      motion to protect many of the documents showing the extent of the illegal
      actions this week.

      "This motion is made on the ground that a dispute has arisen as to the
      identity of the rightful custodian of these documents. These documents are
      relevant to not only this case but potentially to other matters now in
      litigation involving the Church of Scientology, and potentially to Mr.
      Hurtado's pending criminal charges. The undersigned seeks this Court's
      Order for the proper handling and disposition, copying and/or distribution
      of these evidentiary materials pursuant to the Penal Code and the case law
      with regard to spoliation of evidence.

      "Keith Henson has communicated his claim to this office that the documents
      are relevant to the Rule 60(b) motion he has either filed or intends to
      file, and he has asked that the documents not be released from our firm.
      The documents are relevant as evidence of the payments made to Robert
      Cipriano during the time that he served as a witness against Graham Berry.
      The documents are relevant to the issue of whether the contacts between
      Eugene Ingram, Kendrick Moxon and various witnesses are appropriate, or

      Message-ID: <8c19eq$thd$1@...>


      > Clearwater

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 29th that permits have been
      issued to begin the above ground portions of Scientology's new Super Power
      building in Clearwater, Florida.

      "The pair of towering white cranes that loom over the project, mostly idle
      since the fall, will come to life once more. For 16 months, the building
      has taken shape below ground as workers shaped a foundation and a giant
      basement that will serve as a dining facility for Scientology's uniformed
      staff. The crowning feature of the $45-million building will be a 15-story
      tower, visible from blocks away, topped by an eight-point Scientology
      cross made of bronze. At 384,000 square feet, the building will be the
      largest Scientology has ever constructed. It also will be the largest
      building in downtown Clearwater and one of the largest in Pinellas County.

      "The church expects the building will lead to a doubling of its
      1,000-member Clearwater staff and a sharp increase in the number of
      Scientologists who visit Clearwater, from the current 2,000 a week to as
      many as 5,000. Although the size of the Scientology building requires 809
      spaces under the code, the church has decided to pay for 334 spaces rather
      than build them. Before the permit was issued Tuesday afternoon, the
      church gave the city a check for slightly more than $1.5-million. Church
      officials said their need for parking is diminished by two factors. Many
      Scientologists using the building will arrive in the church's motor pool,
      which employs buses and vans.

      "The new building will feature a 'grand lobby' with sculptures depicting
      several concepts of Scientology; a first-floor chapel; several theaters
      for training and introductory films; a museum honoring the Sea
      Organization, the uniformed 'fraternal order' that staffs the church; and
      a museum honoring Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Other
      features include a bookstore, a library, 15 course rooms where
      Scientologists study together, and about 300 rooms for one-on-one
      counseling. The sixth floor will house an indoor running track for
      parishioners undergoing the Purification Rundown, a regimen of saunas,
      exercise and vitamins that Scientologists believe rids the body of toxins.
      All of the hotel's counseling rooms will be moved to the new building, a
      change that will render the old Fort Harrison completely taxable for the
      first time since Scientology bought it in 1975. Also at that point, the
      church will open the hotel's restaurants to the public -- another first in

      "The new structure is most frequently called the 'Super Power' project,
      which refers to the name of a set of yet-to-be-released Scientology
      'rundowns' or processes that are said to give Scientologists 'an entirely
      new level of power and ability.'"

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      > Germany

      Leipziger Volkszeitung reported on March 29th that many consider unwelcome
      Scientology's presence at a book fair in Leipzig.

      "Many exhibitors are annoyed over the presence of the controversial
      Scientologists who - garbed as New Era Publications - are praising their
      publications in fair hall 2 and targeting young fair visitors. The
      neighboring stalls especially felt that they were unjustly being brought
      into discredit and impaired. 'This is the psycho-corner here,' said one
      youth before he turned away again. Several exhibitors, mainly women's and
      religious book distributors, even threatened not to come back next year if
      they saw New Era on the exhibition list again. The fair's management
      dismissed all accusations: Scientology was not prohibited and neither was
      it under observation by Constitutional Security, explained Peter Guth,
      district manager of 'Buch-Kunst-Kultur,' therefore the fair could not
      legally act.

      "Boycotting the book fair is out of the question for 'Aufbau' Publishers,
      the best-selling belletristic publisher in eastern Germany. 'We are
      maintaining our involvement in the fair,' said press spokeswoman Andrea
      Doberenz, and then added, 'However, we have observed Scientology's
      appearance very skeptically. Passersby were outright pressured there.' The
      Scientologists were said to be accosting young people, primarily, in an
      'overly friendly and very offensive' manner."

      The RTL television network will broadcast a program on Scientology on
      Tuesday, April 4th. Bob Minton announced that will also be a guest on the

      "Three weeks ago, Scientology was acknowledged in Sweden as a 'religious
      category.' How the German organization stands will be shown by the Federal
      Constitutional Security's 1999 report, due to be presented 4-4-2000 by
      Interior Minister Otto Schily. In 'Exposed - What goes on under cover of
      faith?', Scientology is also the theme of a live broadcast that same day
      by Hans Meiser. Guests will include Dr. Norbert Bluem, who took steps
      against Scientology and condemned it as 'criminal' and 'money-laundering'
      while he was in office as Federal Labor Minister, Tanya Neujahr, former
      Scientology Sea Org member, who will report on how she left the
      organization, Juerg Stettler, President and press speaker of SC
      Switzerland, and Sabine Weber, Vice President of 'Scientology Kirche
      Deutschland e.V.'"

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      > Digital Lightwave

      Digital Lightwave filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission notice
      that founder Dr. Bryan Zwan refuses to hand over options in the company
      won in a lawsuit to Brian Haney because of alleged attacks against
      Scientology. Zwan is represented by Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon.



      Message-ID: <8bvse1$n28@...>


      > Keith Henson

      Keith Henson has filed for relief from the court of the judgment
      Scientology won for copyright infringement. He has submitted new evidence
      of fraud and abuse of his lawyer at the time, Graham Berry.

      "If the court considers the abuse of my counsel, Mr. Berry, described
      below and in the exhibits, and organized by RTC counsel Kendrick Moxon an
      'extraordinary circumstance' the court could reconsider the RTC copyright
      judgment. The court may decide that the offenses amount to an
      'unconscionable plan or scheme which is designed to improperly influence
      the court in its decision.' This would establish fraud on the court and
      invoke the power to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court. Mr.
      Moxon's and Mr. Ingram's actions in hunting down, blackmailing, bribing,
      and suborning perjury from Mr. Cipriano was certainly an 'unconscionable
      plan or scheme designed to improperly influence the court in its
      decision.' The expressed goal was to tie up Mr. Berry to the maximum
      extent possible, leaving him little time to work on a number of cases
      against RTC or other Scientology cases.

      "RTC has done what they could to prevent me from making a living and
      limited my time to produce legal documents. They have done this through
      pickets, invasion of my client's work place, expensive bankruptcy
      depositions of my clients, my wife and me. They have put up posters near
      my home and work place with my photograph captioned 'Child Molester,' and
      'Religious Bigot.' They have also attacked me through the agency of the
      Web site www.parishioners.org. RTC has certainly incurred more legal fees
      in the above bankruptcy case than the judgment and legal fees from this
      case combined. This is not the response of a party seeking economic
      restitution. They are paying, per Scientology policy, to use the judicial
      system to punish me for the simple reason that I am a critic of

      "The United States Justice system is eventually going to have to stop
      being a tool to support the abusive and criminal activities of
      Scientology. It might as well be with this case."

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      > Lisa McPherson

      The Tampa Tribune published an article on April 2nd, describing
      Scientology's point of view on the death of Lisa McPherson and the
      subsequent criminal and civil cases.

      "Lisa McPherson wasn't an easy charge. She kicked people, stood in a
      toilet and claimed to have created time. Fellow Scientologists called her
      psychotic but shuddered to think how a psychiatrist might treat her. On
      the 17th day, McPherson died. Her body, not her troubled mind, had
      betrayed her, seizing her breath with a blood clot that lodged in her

      "Around the world, an echo sounded: 'Scientology Kills.' Church attorneys
      likened the prosecution to a witch hunt. Newspapers and television
      stations beat the drum. Critics galvanized, ready to hurl hostility at a
      religion they couldn't fathom. Strangers spit at Scientology staff,
      clients boycotted Scientologist-owned businesses, and Scientologists'
      children were mocked at school. 'This is America. This is supposed to be
      the land of religious freedom,' protests McPherson's former friend and
      employer, Bennetta Slaughter, who sent a daughter away to boarding school
      to get her out of the frenzy.

      "Then, in February, four years after McPherson's death, the state's case
      turned sour. Wood backed away from her findings. She signed an amended
      death certificate and left for a convention without explaining. She
      deleted 'bed rest and severe dehydration' as causes, removing a link to
      McPherson's caregivers. Instead, she wrote about the bruise on McPherson's
      left leg.

      "Prosecutors allege that Scientology staff held McPherson down while
      force-feeding her food, vitamins, minerals, herbs and medicines, from
      simple aspirin to a sedative prescribed by a doctor who didn't see her
      until she was dead. The penalty for conviction: fines of up to $15,000.
      'It has cost a very considerable amount of money, and obviously the issue
      here isn't a $15,000 fine. The issue is this attempt to stigmatize the
      church,' Rinder says. He questions why, if prosecutors suspected
      wrongdoing, they didn't simply charge the individual Scientologists who
      took care of McPherson, instead of going after a church, a move without
      precedent. He figures it's just an attempt to discredit Scientology.

      "Scientology holds that man is a spirit and basically good. Psychiatry
      begins from a premise that man is an animal and must be restrained.
      'Forcing a Scientologist to receive psychiatric services would be like
      forcing an Orthodox Jew to eat pork or forcing a devoted Catholic to have
      an abortion,' Scientologists Kendrick Moxon and Helena Kobrin wrote in a
      legal brief filed on behalf of church members. The issue comes up in court
      files to explain why McPherson did not voluntarily remain at Morton Plant
      Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Instead, she left with church
      friends, including case supervisor Alain Kartuzinski.

      "Now, critics of Scientology hold memorials and rally around her name.
      That bothers church members. 'When Lisa McPherson was alive,' says
      Rinder, the Scientology board member, 'they would have spit on her.'"

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      > Bob Minton

      Africa Confidential published an article on March 31st about Nigerian debt
      repurchasing, and the role Bob Minton and Scientology play in
      investigations into its legality.

      "On the face of it the scheme was a shrewd way of covertly buying back
      Nigeria's commercial debt at deep discounts. In 1992, Nigeria had agreed
      the terms for a 'Brady bond' deal - basically, an approved way of reducing
      the nominal value of debts that were never likely to be paid in full -
      which took some $5.5bn. of commercial debt off the books.

      "The scheme was engineered by two American bankers, Jeffrey Schmidt and
      Robert Minton. Schmidt and Minton initially used a London-based company,
      Growth Management Limited (GML) to buy back Nigerian debt on the secondary
      market. The Nigerian government would pay funds into the Osterreichische
      Landesbank, which would pass on the credits to GML. Creditor banks at the
      time suspected Nigeria was buying back its own debt but did not know how.
      A member of the steering committee of Nigeria's creditors said: 'Some of
      us were happy to get rid of our Nigerian liabilities, partly because we
      were unsure about Nigeria's political future and partly because the Bank
      of England's new provisioning rules made it more expensive to hang on to

      "Minton, then Chairman of Shamrock Financial, says many of the banks were
      aware of the buy-back in 'general terms' and took full advantage of it.
      He said the late CBN Governor, Ahmed, was 'transparently honest' and there
      was almost no possibility of fraud. 'We kept the Nigerian authorities
      fully informed, with detailed reports submitted on a monthly basis
      accounting for all the funds received and disbursed; these reports are
      still with the Central Bank today, I believe.'

      "Minton says the investigations into the buy-back are being used as an
      opportunity by the Church of Scientology to discredit him. He says he has
      spent some $4 mn. in the last five years defending the right of former
      scientologists to criticise the church and has been the target of a
      campaign of abuse. 'No one from the US or the Nigerian authorities has
      raised questions with me about the probity of the buy-back deal since it
      wound up in 1993,' Minton said."

      From The Sunday Times on April 2nd:

      "International financiers and bankers knew that billions of pounds
      disappeared from the Nigerian central bank in the late 1980s and early
      1990s. It was suspected that senior figures had hidden the cash in
      overseas accounts. The fraud centred on a Nigerian debt buy-back scheme
      run by the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1988 and 1993, he said.
      Hundreds of millions of pounds were diverted into foreign accounts.

      "Jeffrey Schmidt and Robert Minton used a London-based company, Growth
      Management, to buy back the debt with funds from Nigeria channeled through
      a leading Austrian bank, Osterreichische Landesbank. Further companies
      set up in America helped to disguise the origin of the funds. Money was
      later routed through banks in New York and Basle to buy back the debts.

      "Minton told the newsletter Africa Confidential this week that he had made
      money - but not the sums that were now being mentioned. 'We made tens of
      millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions and certainly not billions,'
      he said. Minton added: 'If any money was stolen, it must have been from
      transactions which were outside our control.'

      "Stefan Pinter of Growth Management said: 'It was one of the most
      effective buy-backs I've seen and of great benefit to Nigeria.'"

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      > Tom Padgett

      Tom Padgett reported that he will face trial in Kentucky next week in a
      child custody case with his ex-wife, who is still an active Scientologist.

      "Tom Padgett of Massachusetts has to return to western Kentucky and stand
      trial on April 10th on whether or not he should be sentenced to 1 to 5
      years in prison for alleged offenses where his scientologist ex-wife is
      the complaining witness."

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      > Protest Summary

      Kristi Wachter reported a protest in San Francisco this week.

      "Date: Saturday, April 1, 2000; Start and End Times: 12:20 - 2:00 pm;
      Picketers: Jeff Liss, Kristi Wachter, Peaches, Phr; 166 total fliers.

      "I producing a sign that was blank on both sides. (My sandwich sign has
      slogans stapled to both sides, so I left that as it was.) To go with the
      blank sign, I had made up new fliers. On one side, I put: $CIENTOLOGY: A
      WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING and some text explaining that the other side of the
      flier contains lots of stuff, like Scn's apology to Paulette Cooper, the
      helpful things Scn did for Lisa McPherson, and all the links from Scn's
      web site that point to critic's pages. After Peaches arrived, Jeff Quiros
      came out for the obligatory photo shoot; we all cooperated and posed for

      Arnie Lerma reported a protest at the Washington, DC org.

      "Scientology did not come out and play, they did nothing. Just sent out
      the borg bodyrouters, not even photos. They did not say a word. The thumbs
      up, honks and way-to-go's heartening, but the often whispered 'thank you'
      of quiet passers by were the very best of all."

      Catarina Pamnell protested the Scientology exhibit in Malmoe, Sweden this

      "They had rented space in a theatre complex right in the city center, on
      the 5th floor though. When me and Ake arrived in the afternoon, a
      scientology band was playing in the central square. Not the (in)famous
      Jive Aces, alas, only some local talents. There is a convenient arcade
      leading from the central square to the exhibition place, so apart from
      body routers right outside of the entrance, there were several in the
      square also. We joined them with our fliers 'Watch out for pitfalls! Does
      the CoS tell you *everything*?, listing some of our points of criticism
      and web addresses on one side, and examples of Hubbard words of wisdom on
      the other. Total flier count maybe 100.

      "The kids were reading aloud from the flier some of the examples of kookie
      Hubbard (like 'sex was invented by evil alien psychiatrists', 'not smoking
      enough causes cancer', 'don't ever call an alien from the Fifth Invader
      Force a Venusian, it's a horrible insult', 'everyone who criticises
      Scientology is a criminal' etc, just summed up for easy reading, most of
      them not full quotes, but with the reference stated for each). Sour
      Sponsor said 'Who wrote this flier? She did? Then I don't believe a word.'
      So I immediately pulled up an authentic copy of HCOPL 27 August 1987,
      'People who oppose Scientology' in Swedish, showed the kids that Hubbard
      did say that all critics are criminals, and offered to show proof of some
      other points too, if needed. I had packed a little kit of useful materials
      and books. Sour Sponsor disappeared, and the kids cheered us on.

      "Then a short, non-Swedish scientologist came up. He and some other
      non-local staff tried to shake us by saying things like 'You're not
      allowed to be here. You don't have a permit. We have a permit. Now we will
      call the police!' etc. The cops obviously had more important things to
      deal with, as they never showed up.

      "Photo guy joined us for coffee, and so did a Swedish guy who claimed to
      be someone who had just become a little interested in scientology, had
      read a few books. Unfortunately for him, he was rather transparent as a
      'spy'. But I decided to play along, it being April 1st and all. Kept him
      entertained for an hour at least."

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      > Swizerland

      Basler Zeitung reported on March 28th that a ruling against a Swiss
      Scientologist for libel has been upheld.

      "The Waadtland Cantonal Court upheld the first judgment against the
      President of the Lausanne Scientologists. The woman had been sentenced to
      ten days imprisonment suspended for libelous speech. She had assailed the
      founder of the Group for the Protection of Family and Individuals in April
      1996 in a Scientology magazine, describing him as a 'braggart,' among
      other things. The canton court judges reproached the woman for having
      attacked the man on the personal level and not because of his ideas. The
      convicted intends to fight the decision before the Federal Court. In a
      press release signed by the Scientology Church of Lausanne, she described
      the decision as a direct attack on freedom of the press."

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