A.r.s Week in Review - 11/24/2002
Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 34
11/24/2002 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
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Week in Review is archived at:
> CCHRThe Houston Chronicle published an article on November 24th on possible
harm done to patients by restraint, including comments from a spokesman
for Scientology's Citizen's Commission on Human Rights.
"No state or federal agency aggregates deaths or injuries related to
restraints. However, the Hartford Courant documented 142 deaths across the
country during or after restraints performed between 1988 and 1998. In
Texas, Austin-based Advocacy Inc., a federally funded program serving the
interests of the disabled, has counted at least 15 fatalities over the
past three years in hospitals and treatment centers across the state.
Proponents say restraint is a necessity in the clinical and institutional
world where some confrontations can be handled no other way. Critics say
the practice is barbaric and should be banned.
"The restraint method most commonly used today is the basket hold, so
named because it serves to contain the patient in a more or less
basketlike position. Dr. Jack Zusman, a professor at Florida Mental Health
Institute in Tampa and author of a book on clinical restraint and
seclusion, says a sort of consensus favoring the basket hold came about
over the past generation or so. 'When I was in training, the accepted
practice was the chokehold,' he says. 'At least we're past that.'
"While some contend the basket hold can be OK if done correctly in the
appropriate situation, others say it is far too susceptible to abuse or
misuse, especially in understaffed facilities. Jerry Boswell, president of
the Citizens Commission on Human Rights in Texas, says his organization,
founded by the Church of Scientology, opposes most drug-based psychiatric
treatment and has been lobbying the Texas Legislature to ban physical
restraint altogether. 'It's used too often for the convenience of staff or
as a punishment measure,' he contends. 'How many kids have to die before
it's finally done away with?'
"A basket hold that winds up with the patient face down on the floor is
doubly perilous because he or she can suffer breath-stopping rib damage,
diaphragm constriction or aspiration of vomit, Zusman says. Texas law
prohibits face-down restraint, but incidents occur anyway. In a Mason
County wilderness camp northwest of Austin, a 17-year-old boy died on
April 14 after a prone restraint in which no one detected that he had
vomited. A final autopsy report is pending. Even by-the-book restraints
can include sudden wrenching movements by patients or staffers that can
break bones or dislocate joints. In every case there's a risk of
psychological trauma, says Zusman. 'It's unpleasant for everyone involved.
It's rare for a patient to say thank you.'
"State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has prefiled a bill for the 2003
session of the Legislature to prohibit types of restraint that can
restrict a patient's breathing by compressing the chest or diaphragm or
that interfere with the ability to talk. In addition, her Senate Bill 59
would permit physical restraint to be used only when other means have
failed, and would require that a person trained in the restraint, but not
engaged in the application, monitor the patient's condition."
> IndiaThe Times of India reported on November 20th on the Scientology org in
"Tucked away in a quiet corner of Defence Colony, the Delhi headquarters
of the Church of Scientology is surprisingly nondescript. So low-key have
scientologists been that the entry of the world's 'newest religion' in
India, that has among its followers Hollywood heavyweights Tom Cruise,
John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, has gone almost unnoticed.
"Reports of it being a 'closed, fanatical cult' have appeared time and
again in the media. A critical cover story in Time magazine (May 6, 1991)
called it 'the most lucrative and litigious cult the country (US) has ever
"A visit to the Delhi scientology centre, however, leaves one with the
feeling that in India a concerted effort is being made to leave the
troubled, scandalous past behind. For one, the centre is called the
'Hubbard Dianetics Foundation' and not the Church of Scientology. Says
Joss Van De Ven, a senior Dutch Scientologist who is managing the centre:
'We are offering something that is practical and workable.'
"Nirvana, however, is anything but instant in Scientology. The novitiate
is separated from the dianetical equivalent of enlightenment by a series
of levels that he must pass, either by enrolling in more courses, or by
getting repeatedly audited. And there lies the catch, for the courses are
prohibitively expensive. Even at the Delhi centre, that offers only
elementary ones, the cost is anything from Rs 2,000 to Rs 9,000 per
course, even after a self-confessed 'lowering' to meet India's
impoverished standards. The monetary factor ensures that Scientology's
clientele in India is strictly upper class.
"In fact, reported allegations of making money off adherents is one of the
controversies the Church has faced over the years, made worse by claims of
Hubbard having once said and quoted in the Reader's Digest (issue May
1980): 'Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to
make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.'"
> NarcononSignonsandiego.com reported on November 21st that a delegation from the
U.S. will visit a Scientology drug rehab facility in Tijuana, Mexico.
"About 100 female legislators from the United States will visit the state
prison in Ensenada today to see firsthand the results of a program for
drug-addicted inmates. The state began the program, called Segunda
Oportunidad, or Second Opportunity, seven years ago, based on the Church
of Scientology's prisoner rehabilitation program, called Narconon. It is
based on the philosophies of the late L. Ron Hubbard.
"The program's strategy is to get the addicts to understand and then
overcome the personal problems that led them to abuse drugs. The program
begins with a detoxification process that uses sauna baths, massages,
vitamins and proteins to reduce the biochemical effects of the drugs. No
medications are used - not even methadone, a drug that reduces the
symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
"The program at the Ensenada prison was deemed so successful that it was
approved for use two years ago at the state penitentiary in Tijuana. That
program was suspended, however, during the recent transfer of prisoners to
a new facility at El Hongo, in La Rumorosa. Since it began in 1995, the
Second Opportunity program has attracted visitors from the United States
and other countries. Judge Baltazar Garzon, who presided over the trial of
former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in Spain, recently traveled with
other visitors to Ensenada and Tijuana to observe the program.
"The program could be heading next to a prison in Colima, and the
Guatemalan government has expressed an interest in it, said Francisco
Iribe Paniagua, a program representative in Latin America. 'I believe the
program works and could work for any drug-addicted person,' said Iribe, a
former police chief of the Baja California capital of Mexicali and former
director of the state agency that operates the prisons and tries to
"The National Foundation of Women Legislators, which counts among its
members Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been meeting in San Diego this
week. About 100 of those on hand plan to travel to Ensenada today."
Chris Owen announced a new web site on Narconon, www.narconon-exposed.org.
"The site is not about attacking Narconon or criticising Scientology for
the sake of it, and it's not motivated by any desire to harm Scientology.
It's much more in a 'Consumer Reports' vein, assessing Narconon's (and
Scientology's) claims against known facts, pointing out where the facts
and claims diverge and providing omitted or downplayed facts, such as the
real hazards of Narconon's methods. There will be a lot more material
coming over the next few months.
"Drug addicts are amongst the most vulnerable people in society and the
effects of their addiction - on themselves, their families and society as
a whole - can be devastating: crime, disease, family breakups. If scarce
money is to be spent on rehabilitation courses, or if people are sent on
them by courts or by well-meaning relatives, it's vital that all concerned
should have all the facts to hand. In my opinion and that of many others,
many of the facts about Narconon are obscured - some deliberately so. This
website aims to redress that imbalance."
> AustraliaThe Sun-Herald reported on November 24th that James Packer, an Australian
billionaire, has become involved in Scientology.
"James Packer is receiving instruction from an elite order in the Church
of Scientology. The executive chairman of PBL and heir to Australia's
richest fortune is believed to have turned to the secretive organisation
in an attempt to regain control of his life after suffering a crisis of
confidence following the collapse of his marriage.
"In recent weeks Mr Packer has been attending self-help training sessions
and has been seen at the Church's Dundas campus. On Friday, Mr Packer's
office did not return calls concerning the inquiry, and no-one was
prepared to confirm reports that he is being counselled. The Church has
pulled a protective veil around its newest follower. 'If anyone becomes a
member, he would be entitled to his privacy,' Scientology spokesman Cyrus
Brooks said on Friday.
"But according to other Church sources Mr Packer, 35, has undertaken
so-called auditing sessions in self-help and personal improvement. These
sessions are designed to help build self-confidence, explain why personal
relationships fail and assist people to reach their full potential. It is
understood Mr Packer was introduced by Hollywood actor Tom Cruise. The PBL
chief has developed a friendship with Los Angeles-based Cruise, who is an
advocate of the Church's doctrine. Friends said the bond between the two
men strengthened in the wake of the collapse of telephony company One.Tel
last year and his separation from wife Jodhi in June.
"Mr Packer has travelled frequently this year to Los Angeles, where the
Church's lavish Celebrity Centre has its headquarters. He has been
attending counselling sessions lasting two to three hours a couple of
times a week in Sydney. Mr Packer has employed a Scientologist as his
personal assistant at his home in Bondi. Her role is to manage his house.
The heir to a $7 billion fortune, Mr Packer has been sighted at the Dundas
campus, regarded as the Church's key Sydney educational facility and home
to many of its ministers and teachers.
"The Church offers instruction on everything from self-esteem to business
management. Mr Packer has not enrolled in any business management courses
but is thought to be concentrating on learning to present himself and make
a greater impact on people around him.
"'Once you do one course, there is always another,' said one former member
who did not wish to be named. 'That's how the Church makes its money. By
charging for each subsequent course.' A separate order exists for
celebrities. Known as C-Org (celebrity organisation) it offers exclusive
counselling and extra privacy. It is understood Mr Packer is being
counselled within the C-Org order."
> UKThe Hampstead & Highgate Express reported on November 22nd that
Scientology wants to become involved in the curriculum of some London-area
"Scientologists want children in Camden schools to be taught their beliefs
as part of the new curriculum. And the controversial group also wants
pupils to learn about the teachings of the Moonies and Pagans during
religious education (RE) lessons when the new school curriculum is
introduced in 2003.
"The movement, founded in the 1950s by late American eccentric L Ron
Hubbard, has never had formal religious status in the UK. But members of
the Camden branch, based in Tottenham Court Road for 35 years, believe
Scientology, along with other smaller groups, should be given the same
exposure as Catholicism and Protestantism at GCSE and A-Level.
"Camden's standing advisory council for religious education (SACRE), which
includes Church of England representatives, headteachers, councillors and
school governors, is now set to consider the request, after two members of
the Camden branch presented the council with a book on the movement on
Tuesday. Scientologist Paul Dolan, who was at the meeting, said: 'We are
asking SACRE to think of introducing other religious communities into the
new school curriculum for religious education. 'It is really to extend
religious tolerance of groups such as ourselves, the Unification church
(the Moonies) the Unitarians, the Quakers and the Paganists. Some of these
groups that have come about in the last 50 years aren't as represented as
they perhaps should be.'
"The committee agreed to seek expert advice on the issue from leading
experts on cults before reaching its decision. If it accepts the request,
representatives from the Church of Scientology will be appointed to SACRE
and allowed to visit schools and talk about the group. But some SACRE
members expressed concern that the move could encourage groups looking for
'a platform.' Councillor Julian Fullbrook, former chairman of SACRE, said:
'I would be worried about the number of movements that might want to use
SACRE as a platform.'
"The request has prompted serious concern by anti-cult groups. Ian
Haworth, of the Cult Information Centre, said the move was 'potentially
hazardous.' He added: 'If Scientology is considered a religion in the
school curriculum, it will be the first to have a criminal record. The
main concerns are not so much their beliefs, but the methods they employ
to recruit new members. By introducing their beliefs, students would be
missing the main point, and this could give them a false sense of security
about the organisations in any relationships they might have with those
"But a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, whose headquarters are in
East Grinstead, said: 'With reports of religious discrimination still
appearing in the media and elsewhere, we believe that schoolchildren
should learn basic beliefs of all religions, as discrimination is very
often fuelled by ignorance.'"