24A.r.s Week in Review - 4/2/2000
- Apr 2, 2000Alt.religion.scientology
Week in Review Volume 5, Issue 1
by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.onelist.com
Week in Review is archived at:
> Battlefield EarthThe 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."
> Graham BerryGraham 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
> ClearwaterThe 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.'"
> GermanyLeipziger 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
"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
> Digital LightwaveDigital 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.
"DR. ZWAN REFUSED TO DELIVER THE SHARES, AND CONFIRMED HIS POSITION THAT
THE OPTION IS UNENFORCEABLE BECAUSE OF MISREPRESENTATIONS BY MR. HANEY
CONCERNING SCIENTOLOGY. AT THE INITIAL STAGES OF THE NEGOTIATIONS, MR.
HANEY UNEQUIVOCALLY ASSURED DR. ZWAN THAT HE WAS NEUTRAL WITH RESPECT TO
SCIENTOLOGY AND HAD NO INTENTION OF INITIATING OR FINANCING ATTACKS UPON
IT. HE DENIED THAT HE HAD FINANCED SUCH ATTACKS IN THE PAST. MR. HANEY
FURTHER REPRESENTED DURING THE NEGOTIATIONS THAT HE WOULD NOT ENGAGE IN
SUCH ACTIVITIES AND WOULD NOT FINANCE SUCH ACTIVITIES IN THE FUTURE. IT IS
CLEAR THAT SUCH REPRESENTATIONS WERE MADE BY MR. HANEY TO INDUCE RELIANCE
THEREON BY DR. ZWAN AND THEREBY PERMIT 'SETTLEMENT' OF MR. HANEY 'S CLAIMS
THROUGH THE PAYMENT OF FUNDS AND STOCK OPTIONS.
"WE HAVE NOW LEARNED FROM DOCUMENTS POSTED TO THE INTERNET AND FROM OTHER
SOURCES, THAT THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD OF THE NEGOTIATIONS, MR. HANEY WAS
ACTIVELY FINANCING AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO ENGAGE IN THE ACTIVITIES HE
REPRESENTED THAT BE WOULD NOT. CONTRARY TO MR. HANEY'S REPRESENTATIONS, HE
CONTINUES WITH SUCH ACTIVITIES TODAY. IT IS OUR VIEW THAT THESE
ACTIVITIES CONSTITUTE MATERIAL MISREPRESENTATIONS BY MR. HANEY."
> Keith HensonKeith 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."
> Lisa McPhersonThe 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
"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.'"
> Bob MintonAfrica 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.'"
> Tom PadgettTom 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."
> Protest SummaryKristi 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."
> SwizerlandBasler 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."