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A.r.s Week in Review - 5/5/2002

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  • Rod Keller
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 5 5/5/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2002 Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2002
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      Alt.religion.scientology
      Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 5
      5/5/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2002

      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 Yahoo. Email weekinreview-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or
      see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/weekinreview. PDA channel available at
      http://avantgo.com/channels/_add_channel.pl?cha_id=2900

      Week in Review is archived at:
      http://www.xenu.net/archive/WIR/
      http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~krasel/CoS/ars-summary.html
      http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs1dc/scientology/wir.html
      http://www.religio.de/publik/arsfaq.html

      #####

      > IRS

      Taxes published an article on May 1st on the IRS decisions that have led
      to a tax deduction for Scientology services, and the ability of
      non-Scientologists to deduct tuition to religious schools.

      "In M. Sklar, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
      held that the taxpayers were not permitted to deduct, as a charitable
      contribution, any portion of the amounts they paid for their children's
      religious school tuition. The Sklars lost in court, largely because they
      failed their burden of proving the amount of the tuition payments that
      were allocable to 'intangible religious benefits.' This column discusses
      Sklar and the possible planning opportunities suggested by the case.

      "In RL Hernandez, the United States Supreme Court upheld the denial of the
      deduction for the Scientologists' auditing and training payments.
      Pursuant to a central tenet known as the 'doctrine of exchange,' the
      Church set forth schedules for mandatory fixed prices for auditing and
      training sessions that varied with the length and the level of
      sophistication of the auditing or training sessions.

      "Notwithstanding the government's victory in Hernandez, the IRS obsoleted
      its earlier ruling disallowing charitable deductions for Scientologists'
      payments auditing and training sessions. In October 1993, the IRS released
      favorable exemption ruling letters to at least 25 Church of
      Scientology-related groups. Shortly after Hernandez was decided, the IRS
      also entered into a closing agreement with the Scientologists.

      "The Sklars argued that in allowing the Scientologists to deduct the cost
      of religious instruction and denying the deduction they claimed for
      religious instruction, the IRS had violated the Establishment Clause of
      the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, noting that the Supreme
      Court had rejected a similar claim in Hernandez because adopting such a
      policy could require excessive government entanglement with religion. The
      Ninth Circuit also dismissed the Sklar's administrative inconsistency
      claim. A taxpayer may challenge the IRS's disparate treatment of the
      taxpayer if the taxpayer can show that it is similarly situated to the
      group being treated differently by the agency. The court, however, doubted
      that the Sklars were similarly situated to the persons who benefit from
      the Scientologists' closing agreement because the religious education of
      the Sklars' children did not seem to be similar to the auditing and
      training or 'other qualified religious services' conducted by the Church
      of Scientology.

      "While the Sklars lost the case in the Tax Court and in the Ninth Circuit,
      it is likely that other taxpayers will assert similar claims. The Ninth
      Circuit's opinion offers some indication of the facts that must be proved
      to win such a case. In future cases, taxpayers may present more facts
      concerning the nature of the auditing and training offered by the Church
      of Scientology to establish that the religious training that they or their
      children received was similar to the religious training received by the
      Scientologists.

      "Allowing taxpayers to claim charitable deductions for tuition paid for
      religious training could cause a significant drain on federal income tax
      revenues. Many commentators have questioned the IRS's authority to
      disregard the Supreme Court's Hernandez opinion. If taxpayers like the
      Sklars prevail on an administrative inconsistency claim, the IRS may
      regret its concession to the Scientologists.

      "Determining whether taxpayers who pay for religious training or other
      intangible religious benefits may claim charitable deductions may create
      an intractable problem. The closing agreement between the IRS and the
      Scientologists is not source of the problem. Allowing a charitable
      deduction for some, but not all, payments made to religious organizations
      inevitably requires government entanglement with religion. Indeed,
      determining whether an organization is organized for religious purposes
      requires government entanglement. Whether such entanglement is excessive
      enough to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is
      likely to be an issue in many of these cases."

      Message-ID: <3CD15813.4040902@...>

      #####

      > Russia

      The Associated Press reported on May 1st that Scientology has won a
      decision in Russia that may allow them to register as a religion.

      "The Church of Scientology has won a ruling in a Moscow court preventing
      authorities from using a widely criticized religion law to stop the group
      from registering, church officials said Wednesday. In a one-day trial
      Tuesday in a Moscow district court, judges argue that liquidating a
      religious organization that doesn't pose a threat to public order is a
      violation of freedom of religion, the church said. Leisa Goodman, human
      rights director for the Church of Scientology, said by telephone from Los
      Angeles that the ruling 'opens the door not only to Scientology but to
      thousands of other religions.'

      "The religion law, championed by the dominant Russian Orthodox Church,
      requires all religious groups to register with Russian authorities.
      Several groups, particularly foreign-based ones, have met with legal
      troubles since its passage and say it limits religious freedoms Russia
      that were won with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Authorities have 10
      days to appeal the ruling to a higher court, Goodman said."

      Message-ID: <aaq3ji01p93@...>

      #####

      > Belgium

      Le Soir reported on February 22nd that a court in Belgium has ruled that
      by keeping PC folders on its members, Scientology is violating personal
      data laws.

      "On one hand members demanded their folders back as individual citizens.
      On the other hand the cult demanded everything back intact, asserting it
      was the cult's property. The Brussels law court could only determine that
      the contents of these files stood in contravention to the personal data
      security law. There was detailed medical information, reports on people's
      intimate lives, including sexual conduct, testimony about family members,
      and confessional reports obtained through the use of the electrometer.
      This was data which would be illicit for an organization to own without
      written agreement of the individual. Besides that, the people upon whom
      these reports were kept did not have access to them to make corrections,
      in accordance with law."

      Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.96.1020502193119.110A-100000@...>

      #####

      > CCHR

      The Vancouver Sun reported on April 30th that officials are reviewing the
      treatment of an ECT patient whose cause has been publicized by Scientology
      and the CCHR.

      "The newly created Provincial Health Services Authority is beginning its
      own probe of an elderly Riverview Hospital patient who has received more
      than 100 electric shock treatments against his will. At the same time, the
      Public Guardian and Trustee's office of B.C. is 'pursuing and making
      inquiries' about alternatives to the electroconvulsive treatments that
      71-year-old Michael Matthews has received.

      "Matthews, who has been confined to Riverview for the last four decades,
      was interviewed recently by a Vancouver Sun reporter and photographer who
      were later ordered off the Riverview property by hospital security guards.
      At the time, Mathews said of his treatments: 'I'm braver now, but I don't
      like it. They hurt, I don't want it.'

      "Matthews' situation was documented in The Vancouver Sun after records of
      ECT doctors' billings were obtained by Vancouver resident Julie Butler,
      director of an organization called the Citizens Commission on Human
      Rights, a Church of Scientology affiliate that exposes, and lobbies
      against, 'psychiatric abuses.'

      "Case manager Linda Irwin advised Butler in a letter that alternatives to
      ECT are being investigated in the Matthews' case. Butler has been
      visiting Matthews for the past several months and was apparently his only
      visitor, but Riverview authorities banned her from the hospital last
      week."

      Message-ID: <aaojkh$ooj@...>

      #####

      > Penelope Cruz

      The National Enquirer reported on May 2nd that Penelope Cruz has decided
      to adopt Scientology in an effort to win back Scientology celebrity Tom
      Cruise.

      "Determined Spaniard Penelope does her best to win back the vertically
      challenged Tom. Insiders say that Penelope is 'desperately trying' to win
      him back. 'Penelope has decided to do whatever it takes to become Mrs Tom
      Cruise,' whispers a source close to the couple. 'But Tom's friends believe
      the relationship is done for.' Indulging in some serious soul-searching in
      Madrid after he kicked her out of his Beverley Hills home, Penelope
      'realised she'd caused all the problems with Tom' and, 'in a series of
      teary phone calls, she promised Tom that she'd mend her ways.' No longer
      will she squabble with Nicole Kidman or regard their children with
      distaste. She will ditch her own religious beliefs for the teachings of
      the Church of Scientology."

      Message-ID: <6P0B8.295$9d.530478@...>

      #####

      > Lisa McPherson

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on April 29th that Scientology is trying
      to remove attorney Ken Dandar from the Lisa McPherson wrongful death case.

      "The Church of Scientology is rolling out an aggressive set of legal
      maneuvers aimed at wiping out one of its biggest headaches: the lawsuit
      blaming the church for the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson. The church is
      zeroing in on Tampa attorney Ken Dandar, who in representing McPherson's
      family has mustered an unrelenting challenge costing the church millions
      and fueling unending bad publicity. Accusing Dandar of professional
      misconduct and perjury, the church is taking the rare step of trying to
      get him removed from the case.

      "In a hearing before Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, the church intends to
      argue the whole case should be tossed because of alleged 'misconduct, sham
      pleadings, (and) perjury' by Dandar; his client, McPherson's aunt, and
      millionaire Bob Minton, who spent $2-million to keep the case going.
      'Plaintiff herself and not merely her counsel or her financier or her
      consultants and witnesses chose to convert this case into a broadside
      attack on the church and the Scientology religion,' the motion says.
      Dandar called the claims 'outrageous lies by Scientology.'

      "The wrongful death case erupted on April 19 when Minton, the New England
      millionaire who has devoted the last half-decade to fighting Scientology,
      stunned all those following the case by taking the stand as a witness for
      Scientology and attacked Dandar, calling him a 'lying thief.' Minton's
      surprising testimony was not a reversal of his opposition to Scientology,
      said his attorney Bruce Howie of St. Petersburg. Minton was facing
      possible jail time for contempt of court and needed to clear the record,
      Howie said. 'He realizes that the church will take advantage of his
      testimony, but in the long run it's in his own best interest to tell the
      truth,' Howie said. That hearing, before Judge Baird, set in motion the
      church's strategy to compromise Dandar.

      "Dandar has a backup. Waiting in the wings is Tampa attorney Luke Lirot,
      famed defender of Tampa's adult entertainment industry. 'I would consider
      it a privilege to be involved in the case,' said Lirot, who is
      representing Dandar. 'I'm going to do whatever is necessary to assist.'
      Lirot said he is not fazed by the scale of the lawsuit or the Church of
      Scientology as a legal opponent. 'I often embrace difficult issues,' he
      said."

      From the St. Petersburg Times on May 1st:

      "Millionaire Scientology critic Robert Minton has expanded his criticism
      of the lawyer fighting the Church of Scientology over the death of Lisa
      McPherson. In a 26-page affidavit, Minton elaborated on his earlier
      testimony in the case, arguing that Tampa attorney Ken Dandar asked him to
      lie, drew up false court records for him to sign and urged him to generate
      bad publicity for Scientology to prejudice potential jurors in the
      McPherson wrongful death case. Minton has become Scientology's star
      witness as it tries to get the wrongful death case dismissed on grounds of
      serious misconduct by Dandar and his client.

      "For two hours Tuesday, Scientology's New York attorney Samuel Rosen tried
      to grill Dandar about his financial arrangement with Minton and how he has
      spent the more than $2-million Minton has given to the case. It was a
      fiery exchange, with Dandar refusing to answer some questions and
      responding to others: 'It's none of your business.' Baird, who will decide
      whether Dandar should be disqualified from the case, gave Dandar a stern
      warning. 'This isn't a game,' the judge said. 'Listen to the questions.
      Answer the questions, and we'll get through this.'

      "Much of the inquiry centered on two Swiss bank checks totaling $750,000.
      Minton says he gave the checks to Dandar. However, Dandar says Minton told
      him only that the money came from an anonymous donor. Rosen questioned why
      Dandar never investigated the source of the money."

      From the Tampa Tribune on May 3rd:

      "Even if a leading Scientology critic lied in court about paying more than
      $2 million to fund a lawsuit against the church, 'Who cares?' said the
      judge in the case. Millionaire church critic Bob Minton likely will face
      contempt of court proceedings and could be prosecuted for criminal
      perjury, but that does not affect a wrongful death lawsuit brought against
      the church by the Lisa McPherson estate, Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge
      Susan Schaeffer said Thursday. 'You guys are spending too much time on
      stuff that doesn't have anything to do with this trial,' the judge told a
      panel of church attorneys.

      "Whether or not Minton chooses to spend his money underwriting the lawsuit
      on behalf of McPherson's elderly aunt has no effect on the issue of
      whether McPherson's death while under church care in December 1995 was an
      accident or homicide, Schaeffer said. The judge repeatedly wondered aloud
      why Minton would fund the lawsuit without a contract stating the bulk of
      any monetary award would be donated to groups critical of the church, as
      he now contends. 'I don't know what the funny business is, but there are
      weird things going on when someone gives someone $2 million and there's
      not a written agreement,' Schaeffer said. 'There is something crazy going
      on.'

      "Schaeffer also had sharp words for Dandar. She scolded Dandar for
      implying in court records that the church was 'blackmailing, extorting or
      otherwise convincing Robert Minton to change his deposition testimony'
      without firm evidence to back up the allegation. 'No wonder people look so
      askance at lawyers these days,' the judge said.

      "The case is simple, the judge repeatedly told church attorneys. Either
      McPherson died from an accidental blood clot while undergoing a religious
      procedure to heal mental problems or she died after becoming dehydrated
      and falling into a coma while church officials ignored the situation,
      Schaeffer said."

      From the St. Petersburg Times on May 3rd:

      "Scientology lawyers want Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer to remove Dandar
      and dismiss the lawsuit because of 'a pattern of misconduct' by Dandar,
      his client and Robert Minton, an outspoken church critic who has given
      $2-million of his own money in support of the lawsuit. That misconduct,
      church lawyers claim, has resulted in 'incalculable damages' to the church
      that can only be remedied by the lawsuit's dismissal. 'The complaint was
      written to say they murdered her - the whole church is murderers,' church
      attorney Eric Lieberman told the judge. Schaeffer told him, 'Just because
      you have to fight hard (against) some of the allegations doesn't mean I
      make the case go away.'

      "Minton is now accusing Dandar of urging him to lie under oath, drawing up
      false court records and urging him to drum up anti-Scientology publicity.
      On Thursday, Schaeffer questioned the relevancy of Minton's allegations,
      many of them centered on how the case was financed and what would happen
      to any money awarded by a jury. 'It doesn't matter if Mr. Minton gave six
      trillion dollars,' she said. 'I don't know why in the world anybody cares
      about it. It surely doesn't get the case thrown out.'

      "Minton will answer to the court for any perjury he might have committed,
      Schaeffer said. But, she noted, he is not a witness in the wrongful death
      case. Over and over, she asked church lawyers, 'What does that have to do
      with the wrongful death case?' 'We're going to trial,' she said. 'I want
      to deal with the wrongful death case set for June. It's set, and it's
      going. This case is about money, money on both sides,' Schaeffer said. 'If
      you're going after the church just to go after the church just to create
      more rancor in Clearwater you can't use my courtroom for that.'

      "One of the more graphic claims in the lawsuit is that McPherson was
      bitten by cockroaches as she lay dying at Scientology's Fort Harrison
      Hotel. But at the end of the hearing Thursday, Schaeffer told Dandar she
      has decided he does not have enough evidence to make that claim to a
      jury."

      Message-ID: <aajkd7$rpe@...>
      Message-ID: <aaoiek$ooj@...>
      Message-ID: <dNxA8.69$0B4.96492@...>
      Message-ID: <qSxA8.72$0B4.97146@...>

      #####

      > Protest Summary

      Keith Henson reported protests at the Toronto Scientology org on April
      28th and May 5th.

      "Gregg and I showed up at the Toronto org about noon. The org was flat
      out deserted, no 'bodies in the shop' not even the oldtime members. A
      passer by told Gregg they had all moved about ten blocks away to 49 Front
      street where they were holding a scientology 'revival meeting' complete
      with a bunch of white and blue balloons. About half an hour into the
      picket, we shut off the camera and moved. It was an area with about the
      same pedestrian traffic as Yonge St., but unlike the main location not as
      many people are clued in.

      "I took up a station about 120 feet down the street. I was splitting my
      time handing out flyers and talking to a religious studies guy when Brian
      McPherson came up and started needling me about about Dandar and Minton.

      "Gregg gave out 75 flyers right in front of the doorway of the rented art
      gallery where scientology was running a 'What is Scientology exhibit.'
      Virtually every one of the people who were not scientologists coming out
      took a flyer. One of the store employees in front of my location came out
      and thanked me, took a flyer and said he would check out Scientology on
      the web. Gregg said the woman running the store next door to the
      Scientologists came out and talked to him. She was not very happy with
      them, said it has really hurt business the entire week.

      "Buttnor, Felsky, and McPherson called the cops. They had quite a
      conversation with the cops, but while the cops did ask for our names, they
      blew off the org."

      "Gregg and I put in one hour and a half starting about 1:30. Then we broke
      for a long lunch and came back about 5:40 for another session. The org had
      a tent out with table and chairs. There were few takers Gregg saw. When
      Gregg showed up Mario could be heard running about saying 'f*ck, f*ck,
      f*ck' in total frustration. The cult was largely in hiding for Gregg.

      "Ms. X was picketing with us one of the cult drones got right in her face
      with a camera. Gregg got good tape of one incident in the late picket.
      Brian McPherson and Gwen Jones were trying to rag at Gregg, who promptly
      played some head games on them. 'Big Mike' showed up, pushed Gregg and
      grabbed a handful of flyers out of Gregg's hand. Caught nicely on tape
      too. Gregg was able to recover the Xenu flyers to the extreme surprise of
      the cultie.

      "The Toronto org had some kind of event going, something about going OT in
      CW. Gregg counted the chairs (160) and the people who showed up. They
      filled about 1/4 of the chairs. Most of the people Gregg recognized as
      tapped out old timers. There were 10 or fewer new faces and most of them
      got a Xenu flyer. Even if the cult took the flyers away from them inside
      the door, the people know they can look it up on the net.

      "Gregg gave out about a hundred Xenu flyers. I must have given out
      something like 250 of several kinds for the whole day. I didn't get a
      count on how many Ms X gave out, but Gregg said lots of people were coming
      by with flyers in their hands. It is getting harder to give out flyers
      because such a high fraction of the people already have taken one."

      Message-ID: <cc127228.0204281342.7b1b9b48@...>
      Message-ID: <3cd58045.232593773@...>

      #####

      > Salt Lake City

      Deseret News reported on May 4th that Scientology volunteers will be
      spending time with the elderly in the area.

      "In recognition of the recent National Volunteer Week, the Church of
      Scientology's volunteer ministers are launching a new program, 'Listeners
      for the Living.' It involves spending time with the elderly and listening
      to their stories."

      Message-ID: <b008duksh0t2a25o3vodi5oqltbagfanj8@...>

      #####

      > Reed Slatkin

      Reuters reported on April 29th that Scientology minister and Ponzi scheme
      creator Reed Slatkin pled guilty to fraud charges.

      "Reed Slatkin, the investment advisor who provided start-up funds for
      Internet service provider EarthLink pleaded guilty on Monday to 15 charges
      of fraud and conspiracy for bilking almost 800 clients out of nearly $600
      million. Slatkin entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Margaret
      Morrow under the terms of a plea deal announced by the U.S. Attorney's
      Office on Mar. 27.

      "'Your Honor, it is an acceptable representation of my conduct,' Slatkin
      told Judge Morrow after prosecutors described to the court how he had used
      investments from new clients to pay returns to old clients, in what is
      commonly known as a Ponzi scheme. It is not clear whether Slatkin can pay
      the $254.6 million in restitution he agreed to pay since he has filed for
      bankruptcy protection from creditors. Slatkin was led by U.S. marshals
      into the courtroom wearing the standard-issue green jacket, blue pants and
      manacles around his waist and wrists."

      From the Santa Barbara News-Press on April 30th:

      "After spending the weekend in the federal detention center in downtown
      Los Angeles, EarthLink co-founder and former Hope Ranch resident Reed
      Slatkin pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to orchestrating one of the
      biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history. Mr. Slatkin, 53, pleaded guilty to
      15 charges, ranging from mail fraud and money laundering to conspiracy to
      obstruct justice. The charges against Mr. Slatkin carry a maximum sentence
      of 105 years in federal prison and fines of up to $3.75 million. Federal
      authorities believe the sentence could range from 12 to 15 years; his
      defense attorney believes it could be much lower."

      Message-ID: <aal0v6$r25@...>
      Message-ID: <5e0371c5.0204301032.992388c@...>

      #####

      > Xenu.net

      Linux Journal published an interview with the creator and ISP for xenu.net
      on April 30th.

      "Google's decision to pull Xenu.net from its index, under the
      controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the later commitment
      to making DMCA takedown letters public caused a publicity storm that, when
      it cleared, left 'Operation Clambake,' Xenu.net, at the top of a Google
      search for the word 'Scientology.' We asked Andreas Heldal-Lund, the
      site's webmaster, and Paul Wouters, of their long-suffering ISP, Xtended
      Internet, how the popular site is handling the load.

      "LJ: What hardware are you running Linux on?

      "Paul: The main servers are running on Intel ISP boxes (1150s and 2150s).
      The load-balanced server at XS4ALL is a Penguin 2U server.

      "LJ: Andreas, what are the secrets of developing a search-engine-friendly
      site?

      "Andreas: I've not had to focus on being search-engine-friendly for years.
      Xenu.net is on top now basically because the cult attacks have generated
      so much attention.

      "LJ: How do you get so many incoming links?

      "Andreas: Mostly the same reason as above. Few are so disliked as this
      cult here on the net. Each time the cult tries to close my site, the more
      attention they send my way.

      "LJ: Can your Linux server(s) handle the traffic?

      "Paul: Right now there is no problem whatsoever. The servers are doing
      less then 80KB/sec. We did have some problems after being slashdotted
      twice and the site appearing in the Washington Times and on CNN. We found
      the hardcoded limit of 128 Apache children had been reached on the main
      server. We recompiled Apache with 512, which was reached again around 6pm.
      We then went for 1024 and restarted. At this point we also added two more
      servers and used DNS roundrobin to try and load balance things a bit.

      "At the peak, at 8pm, we ran into performance problems on the Linux
      firewall. These weren't resolved until after the massive peaks. We
      optimized all the TCP socket options and we added more memory to the
      firewall (the socket options eat up a lot of memory).

      "When the Church of Scientology coerced the search engine, Google.com,
      into dropping the anti-Scientology site Xenu.com from its listings,
      free-speech advocates were outraged. But Xenu's owner wasn't worried; he
      knew what happens when you mess with the Net."

      From Readme on May 1st:

      "Seventy-five million years ago, a galactic tyrant named Xenu (pronounced
      'ZEE-NOO') killed all living beings with a hydrogen bomb, then brainwashed
      their disembodied minds. Eventually, Xenu was overthrown by his former
      followers and locked away in a mountain prison encircled by an
      impenetrable force field. He remains there to this day.

      "This story is one of the fundamental beliefs of the religion known as
      Scientology. According to 'Countercultures', a 1995 book by the cult
      critic William Zellner, the Church of Scientology charges as much as
      $400,000 to completely free a believer from the residual effects of Xenu's
      brainwashing. Scientology has come under fire for its controversial
      practices, which critics allege include cult-like brainwashing and
      lucrative global racketeering. The Church has trademarked its teachings
      and has a reputation for using legal threats, specifically the charge of
      copyright infringement, to muzzle these disaffected onetime believers and
      anti-cult activists.

      "In the most recent Web war between Scientology and its critics, the
      popular search engine Google caved in to legal pressure from the church
      and removed any mention of the most well-known anti-Scientology website
      Xenu.net from its search results. According to the church, Xenu had made
      secret Scientology teachings public, in violation of church-owned
      copyrights and trademarks.

      "On March 21 Google sent Heldal-Lund an e-mail with a listing the Xenu
      pages that they had removed from their searchable archives. The e-mail
      also stated that his webpages could be reinstated if he submitted a
      counter notification to Google. Heldal-Lund did not respond. Because of
      his silence, recent articles portray the Xenu founder as a cowering victim
      of Scientology's legal abuse, afraid of being sued. Two days after sending
      the e-mail, battered by a barrage of protests and under scrutiny from
      free-speech advocates for the hasty decision, Google restored Xenu.net's
      homepage and related links to its archive, claiming they had been
      'inadvertently removed.'

      "'I do not consider this a Scientology victory,' said Heldal-Lund, in an
      e-mail interview. 'The result [of the church's actions] is a lot of media
      attention and hundreds of thousands of hits on Xenu. The cult achieved the
      opposite of what they aimed for.'"

      From an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News on May 2nd:

      "Search engines like Google provide an indispensable road map for
      navigating the Internet; hypertext links are the vehicles that quickly
      take you where you want to go. Search engines and links provide
      information in context; they enhance the Internet's richness of ideas. As
      such, they warrant full free-speech protections. But a tussle between the
      Church of Scientology and Google has exposed a First Amendment
      vulnerability. A poorly worded copyright-protection law is putting dissent
      and speech on the Internet at some risk.

      "The church threatened to sue Google for contributory copyright violations
      for merely listing links to Web pages that, the Scientologists said,
      illegally published copyrighted passages. The church demanded that Google
      remove the links to the site, Operation Clambake, from its automated
      search results. The brash tactic initially worked. Google complied because
      of potential liability that Congress created in the Digital Millennium
      Copyright Act. The law provides search engines with immunity if they take
      down a disputed link in response to a complaint.

      "The Church of Scientology was the first to target search engines; if it
      succeeded, others may follow, filing complaints to stifle critics or to
      isolate Web sites that make fair use of copyrighted works. Word that the
      largest stand-alone search engine had caved to the Scientologists stirred
      a small protest at Google's Mountain View headquarters. And that, in turn,
      inspired the company to try a novel approach.

      "As of last month, whenever it receives a complaint that causes it to
      remove a link, Google is forwarding a copy of the complaint to the Web
      site of Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a new Internet civil liberties
      organization. Chilling Effects posts each complaint, which also lists the
      Web address of the site that Google no longer carries. The result may be
      to give substantial attention to sites the Scientologists hoped to make
      invisible. Google is also including information on its site on how Web
      page owners can seek to have their links reinstated by filing a
      countercomplaint. Google's new approach is commendable, even ingenious.
      But it doesn't remove the shadow of liability that Congress created in the
      1998 copyright protection law. Courts and Congress should make clear:
      Linking is a virtue of the Internet, not a crime."

      Message-ID: <aaojdm$ooj@...>
      Message-ID: <QFxA8.67$0B4.95584@...>
      Message-ID: <mrQA8.189$9d.386273@...>

      -end-
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