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A.r.s Week in Review - 3/30/2003

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  • Rod Keller
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 51 3/30/2003 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2003 Alt.religion.scientology Week in
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2003
      Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 51
      3/30/2003 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2003

      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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      > UK

      The Daily Telegraph reported on March 27th that the Advertising Standards
      Authority has ruled against Scientology advertisements claiming that
      250,000 people have been helped to give up drugs. The authority relies on
      public opinion and publicity rather than governmental authority to enforce
      its rulings.

      "The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against the
      Church of Scientology, which stated in a poster that it had rescued
      250,000 people from drug addiction. The council said that the worldwide
      religious movement had not proved its claim that as many as a quarter of a
      million addicts had stopped using drugs as a direct result of
      Scientology's intervention.

      "The Church of England's Birmingham diocese and several members of the
      public had objected to the poster, which was produced by the
      Scientologists to publicise a tour of parts of the country. The poster
      read: 'Scientology: applied religious philosophy. 250,000 people salvaged
      from drugs.' There was also a free telephone number and a website address.

      From the Birmingham Post on March 26th:

      "The Diocese of Birmingham complained that the poster breached the parts
      of the advertising code which related to truthfulness, honesty and
      substantiation. The letter added that the claims made were 'both dishonest
      and also misleading by both ambiguity and exaggeration'.

      "In upholding the complaint, the ASA said they were 'concerned that the
      advertisers had not proved that all those enrolled on the programmes were
      dependent on drugs at the time of the enrolment or that as many as 250,000
      drug users had stopped using those drugs as a direct result of
      Scientology's intervention.'"

      From The Guardian on March 27:

      "The ruling related to a poster coinciding with a campaign run two years
      ago by the church. In effect it claimed that the church had saved all
      those who had completed its drug programmes. It did not mention that its
      definition of drug use included an occasional alcoholic drink or
      prescription medicine, and exposure to chemical toxins.

      "The ASA judgment said: 'The authority accepted that the programmes had
      enabled many people to overcome a dependency on drugs but was concerned
      that the advertisers had not proved that all those enrolled were dependent
      on street or prescription drugs at the time of enrolment, or that as many
      as 250,000 drug users had stopped as a direct result of Scientology's

      Mad.co.uk reported on March 26th that a second complaint against the claim
      that Scientology is capable of helping people stop taking drugs was denied
      by the ASA.

      "The Church of Scientology has been rapped by the ASA for an ad, which
      claimed the church had saved 250,000 people from drugs. While
      acknowledging the religion's views on drug use and its steps to prevent
      drug abuse among its members, the ASA did not accept that all those
      enrolled on the church's programmes were existing drug users, or had
      stopped taking drugs as a direct result of intervention by the church.

      "However the industry regulator failed to uphold a second complaint
      objecting to the claim that Scientology could help people kick a drug
      habit. The ASA felt the church had provided sufficient evidence to
      substantiate its claim."

      From the text of the adjudication:

      "The Authority accepted that more than 250,000 people had undertaken the
      Church's Drug Purification and Drug Rundown programmes, the Authority
      understood that, within Scientology, the concept of 'drug use' referred to
      a variety of behaviours that ranged from heavy use of street drugs to
      occasional ingestion of alcohol or prescription medicines and exposure to
      chemical toxins. It understood that, because the Church of Scientology
      described itself as a 'drug-free community,' members were encouraged to
      identify their patterns of drug use and free themselves from habits that
      contravened Scientology's philosophy. Although it acknowledged the terms
      of Scientology's philosophy on drug use, the Authority considered that,
      without clarification, readers were likely to interpret the claim '250,000
      people salvaged from drugs' to mean that 250,000 people had stopped being
      dependent on street or prescription drugs because of Scientology. The
      Authority accepted that the drug Purification Rundown and Drug Rundown
      programmes the advertisers offered had enabled many people to overcome a
      dependency on drugs but was nevertheless concerned that the advertisers
      had not proved that all those enrolled on the programmes were dependent on
      street or prescription drugs at the time of enrolment or that as many as
      250,000 drug users had stopped using those drugs as a direct result of
      Scientology's intervention. The Authority welcomed the advertisers'
      assurance that the poster was no longer appearing and advised them to make
      clear the terms of their definition of drugs in future advertising.

      "The Authority considered that the advertisers' evidence showed that many
      people with a damaging drug habit had stopped taking drugs with help from
      Scientology and did not object on those grounds."

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      > Birthday Event

      "Cerridwen" reported on the annual L. Ron Hubbard birthday event held in
      Clearwater on March 21st.

      "The LRH Birthday Event was held at the Ruth Eckert Hall and then held
      again on March 22nd in the outer orgs of the US and Canada. The theme
      around this event was 'Help' and how great it is to help others and how
      the C of S needs your help in Clearing the Planet. It seems the best way
      to help is to join staff or the Sea Org and if not, then the second best
      thing is to be on the Bridge as much as possible, preferably, full time.

      "The event is held at Flag on Friday night and then is sent via satellite
      to the local orgs in order for the event to be held the next night. The
      event seen at the local orgs or at the Shrine in LA is always a video of
      the event. The reason it is not live, is because they want to be able to
      edit it before everyone sees it.

      "All the big money people get to sit up front at an event. This is the
      case in local orgs as well. Patrons of the IAS, per policy get to sit in
      the first few rows. The more money you gave to the IAS, the closer to the
      front row you get.

      "The stage has is gold and gaudy with Gold columns, gold dais, huge gold
      replicas of the Birthday Game winners cup and the a photo of LRH that has
      to be 40 to 50 feet tall, by 12 feet wide. DM arrives to a standing
      ovation. DM starts talking about all war and giving his take on it. All
      of a sudden he came to a stop and said 'and so I welcome you to the 2003
      LRH Birthday event' and the crowd went wild with cheers. It was really

      "DM then introduced the LRH Biographer Dan Sherman. Dan's gig was to show
      us video taped interviews of non-Scientologists that knew and had some
      dealing with LRH and what a superior human being LRH really was. The
      first video was of a man who attended George University with LRH. He
      spoke about LRH and what a great guy he was and some of the fun things
      they did together, including learning how to put on a turban. There was
      one of Edd Charitier who was an illustrator for many of LRH's early Sci Fi
      works, a man who was a crew member of the ship the 895 that LRH commanded,
      the gardener at Saint Hill Manor and a black man from South Africa, who
      held the 'houseboy' job when LRH lived there. The all gave video
      testimonials to what an absolutely fucking fabulous guy LRH really was.

      "Mark Yager spoke about the 'unprecedented expansion' and then all of a
      sudden all these tech stat graphs started appearing on the screen and
      stayed up on the screen for 2 seconds. There was no way anyone could
      actually read them or see what the numbers on them were. But per Mark each
      and every one of the Scientology tech stats -

      "We get to see a video presentation of the brand new Tampa Org. I have to
      admit it was very nicely done, if you like that early attic look. I happen
      to know that Tampa org had an awful time getting their new building
      renovated and moved because of the 6,000 Scientologists that live in the
      Tampa area only a handful showed up to help reno and moved the org.

      "We have a new Class V Org formed in Athens, Georgia. The ED of the Athens
      Org gets a standing Ovation as he walks from the audience to the stage
      while the Golden Era Musicians play Greek Music. It's done in the same way
      that Oscar winners are filmed walking down the aisle to the stage while
      the appropriate theme song is played for them. He promises that 'I'll be
      back' soon to collect his Saint Hill Size Award.

      "Winner of the Mission Birthday game
      Third place: Kansas City (Kirstie Alley's Mission).
      Second place: A mission in the Ukraine.
      First Place: Cercedilla, Spain.

      "Class V Orgs
      Third place: Verona, Italy.
      Second place: St. Petersburg, Russia.
      Winner: Milano, Italy.

      "Sea Org Orgs
      Third Place: ASHO Day.
      Second Place: AO Europe.
      First Place: Celebrity Center Int.

      "CLO's or Continental Liaison Offices.
      Third Place: Latam (Latin America).
      Second Place: WUS (Western United States}.
      First Place: Europe.

      "The event wrapped up with DM showing us some of the newly purchased
      Scientology properties. The first one was in Buffalo, New York. Then DM
      showed us the newly purchased 'historic Landmark' that was purchased in
      San Francisco. Per DM, the C of S purchased the original Trans America
      Building which is right across the street from the current pyramid shaped
      Trans America building.

      "DM asked the crowd, who in this society is the leader in cultural changes
      in music, fashion. The answer per DM is Black America. So with this in
      mind, the C of S purchased a building on 125 Street in Harlem, New York."

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      > Clearwater

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 26th that a proposed drug
      treatment center is turning to Scientology, hoping to receive the donation
      of a building in downtown Clearwater.

      "The Pinellas-Pasco public defender wants to put a new drug and alcohol
      dry-out center in or around downtown, a plan that has riled city
      officials, who fear such a facility would undercut their efforts to
      kick-start redevelopment in the struggling business corridor. 'We don't
      want to just be known as the place to come for people who have issues like
      that,' said Mayor Brian Aungst.

      "Public defender Bob Dillinger argues that locating a facility downtown is
      common sense. That's where the problem is, he said. Among those Dillinger
      has approached for help is the Church of Scientology, which owns numerous
      downtown properties. Dillinger said he needs a donated building to
      duplicate in North Pinellas the treatment services offered in St.
      Petersburg by Turning Point, an independently operated, government funded
      detox center. Turning Point serves 3,000 people a year, and Dillinger said
      he figured to help roughly half that number with a new center in

      "Several city officials said one property Dillinger targeted is a building
      owned by the Church of Scientology at 601 Grand Central St., a block east
      of Morton Plant Mease Hospital. The building operates as a church mill,
      where workers make furniture and internal fixtures for the church's Flag
      Service Building under construction in downtown Clearwater. The church is
      'definitely willing' to help Dillinger, church spokesman Ben Shaw said,
      but the mill may be off limits. 'We need that building,' he said.

      "Shaw said the church is committed to a solution. 'We're a player in the
      downtown,' he said, 'and it's a downtown problem.'"

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      > Narconon

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 30th on a Narconon facility
      that has been operating in Clearwater for the past 10 months.

      "At Tampa Bay's newest alternative to mainstream drug treatment, the
      license issued by the state hangs next to commendations from the Church of
      Scientology. Narconon, a controversial drug treatment program based on
      techniques developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, has opened its
      first Florida facility in Clearwater in a commercial park off U.S. 19.

      "The facility's client list, its director said, is mostly mid- to
      upper-level executives - doctors, lawyers and business professionals - who
      are recreational drug users. The staff of five includes a certified
      addictions specialist and a registered nurse.

      "Critics contend that Narconon is a recruitment tool for Scientology.
      Narconon International president Clark Carr calls the charge 'baloney,'
      but concedes 10 to 15 percent who complete the program become
      Scientologists. The director of the new Clearwater Narconon, Cheryl
      Alderman, a Clearwater resident and a longtime Scientologist, sank
      $100,000 of her own money into the venture and opened it quietly 10 months
      ago. The program got a boost from Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst, who
      issued a proclamation for 'Narconon Day.'

      "Now Alderman plans to do what no other Narconon program in the country
      does: Get taxpayer assistance in the form of state and federal grants. She
      also plans to seek referrals from local court systems and permission to
      teach a Narconon-based prevention program in Pinellas public schools. Some
      in the political elite indicate they will listen. Pinellas County
      Commissioner Susan Latvala and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judges Linda Allan
      and Linda Babb have toured the facility and left impressed. Pinellas
      Public Defender Robert Dillinger said he could envision courts sending
      offenders there. Government money and partnerships would subject the
      Clearwater facility to closer government scrutiny than any other Narconon
      facility has encountered. Alderman said her program is ready.

      "The Clearwater Narconon is financed by private Scientologists, Alderman
      said, and enjoys only a 'supportive' relationship with the Church of
      Scientology, whose international spiritual headquarters are in downtown
      Clearwater. Narconon's mission, she said, is to get people off drugs.

      "Its ties to Scientology are undeniable. Scientologists are major
      contributors, and when volunteers are needed, Alderman simply calls the
      church. With one exception, every Narconon in the country is run by a
      Scientologist. Narconon also embraces Hubbard's opposition to psychiatric
      drugs. It sells itself as an alternative, drug-free treatment program. It
      does not use psychiatric drugs or methadone, common at most mainstream
      detoxification facilities for treatment of heroin and morphine addicts.

      "'There is no data that that kind of experience reduces the level of
      toxins,' said Dr. Raymond Harbison, professor of environmental and
      occupational health in the College of Public Health at the University of
      South Florida. Others question the program's stance against treatment
      drugs and psychiatry. As many as 40 percent of drug addicts need
      psychiatric treatment, sometimes including drugs, said Nancy Hamilton,
      chief executive officer of Tampa Bay's largest drug treatment program,
      Operation PAR. And drugs such as methadone, properly applied, improve the
      odds of getting heroin and opiate addicts clean, Hamilton said.

      "Despite the skepticism, Clearwater's Narconon is gaining acceptance.
      Tampa's DACCO, a drug treatment program, has referred clients. So has
      Pinellas-based Operation PAR, Alderman said. The latest edition of
      Scientology's Freedom magazine carries a ringing endorsement from Dr.
      Betty Buchan, vice president for research and laboratory services for
      Operation PAR. Buchan's comments landed her in trouble with her boss.
      Buchan has no authority to endorse a program for PAR, Hamilton said. If
      PAR employees referred clients to Narconon - computer records show no such
      referrals, Hamilton said - that should cease until PAR formally reviews

      "County Commissioner Latvala said she is open to Narconon as an
      alternative. A former Pinellas School Board member, Latvala remembers
      school officials rebuffing an attempt several years ago to teach a
      Narconon prevention program. The feeling among many, she said, was: 'It's
      just Scientology. Oooo, don't do that. The Church of Scientology is here
      to stay,' Latvala said. 'They are doing a lot of good in the community. If
      they are teaching kids to say no to drugs, what's wrong with that? If (the
      drug treatment program) works, I'm all for it.'

      "When Narconon opened its Chilocco facility in 1991, the Oklahoma Board of
      Mental Health issued a blistering assessment in denying its application
      for certification. 'There is no credible evidence establishing the
      effectiveness of the Narconon program to its patients,' the board
      concluded. It attacked the program as medically unsafe; dismissed the
      sauna program as unproven; and criticized Narconon for inappropriately
      taking some patients off prescribed psychiatric medication."

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      > Org News

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 28th that the new Tampa org has
      opened after renovating a former cigar factory.

      "When the sign 'Church of Scientology Tampa' went up outside the stylishly
      renovated cigar factory next to her home, several other neighbors warned
      her it was 'more like a cult than a church.' But after several weeks, all
      she notices now is the busy parking lot. 'I can't complain,' said Furlow,
      28. 'They seem like nice people.'

      "Saturday will mark the grand opening of the Church of Scientology's new
      Tampa home. The four-story, 18,000-square-foot facility at 3102 Habana
      Ave., purchased last year for $1.1-million, demonstrates the church's
      burgeoning growth on the other side of Tampa Bay from Clearwater. For
      years, Scientology maintained a nominal presence in Tampa, operating out
      of a small leased building on Henderson Boulevard in South Tampa. Now,
      church officials say, the church's Tampa membership has ballooned to
      5,000. About 12,000 Scientologists are said to live in the bay area.

      "The Tampa facility will offer courses, lectures and counseling geared to
      longtime Scientologists. It also will welcome newcomers. Services will be
      provided in Spanish and English. Some offerings will be free -
      personality, IQ and aptitude testing. Scientology's 'purification rundown'
      will be offered. It aims to remove harmful toxins through vigorous
      exercise followed by several hours in a sauna in conjunction with a
      regimen of vitamins, minerals and oils. The facility has several
      treadmills and a sauna large enough for 20 people. On the top floor is the
      Hubbard Guidance Center, where 14 rooms have been readied for Scientology
      counseling, called auditing.

      "Scientologists have made substantial efforts recently to establish the
      church as members of the Tampa community. The church was one of 30 'gold
      level' contributors pledging at least $200,000 to Tampa's failed bid to
      land the 2012 Olympics. Church members also got involved in the Tampa
      mayoral race, hosting a fundraiser for Pam Iorio. Political consultant
      Mary Repper, who arranged the Iorio fundraiser, said she suggested it to
      some friends who are Scientologists as a way to avoid in Tampa some of the
      controversy the church generated when it quietly moved into Clearwater in
      the 1970s.

      "'They've done a beautiful job with the building,' said Javier Plasencia,
      who runs a cigar shop next door. 'They came in and introduced themselves
      and told us a little bit about their organization. They seem okay. They
      seem very friendly. The courses they offer are life improvement things,'
      he said. 'Heck, who can knock bettering people's lives, if that's their

      "But Earl Haugabook, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, is
      wary of the church, given its controversial history in Clearwater. 'An
      organization like Scientology, which has basically taken over downtown
      Clearwater, is not the type of organization we want in the West Tampa
      area,' Haugabook said. 'But they purchased it, and it's their property.
      We're going to have to live with it.'"

      The San Francisco Business Times reported on March 21st that the San
      Francisco org has purchased a building and intends to relocate.

      "The Church of Scientology, Hubbard's celebrity-laden religious
      organization, has purchased 701 Montgomery St. for approximately $7
      million. That's an eye-popping $350 per square foot for the
      20,000-square-foot building. The Church of Scientology will move from its
      current 40,000-square-foot building at 83 McAllister St."

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      > Reed Slatkin

      The Los Angeles Times reported on March 26th that investors in the Reed
      Slatkin Ponzi scheme will attempt to recover funds from Scientology, and a
      judge has ruled that the records of donations must be handed over.

      "Investors defrauded of $255 million by EarthLink Inc. co-founder Reed
      Slatkin are hoping to recover funds from the Church of Scientology
      International and six affiliated organizations that allegedly wound up
      with tens of millions of dollars from the investment scam. The investors
      won an initial battle when a bankruptcy judge in Santa Barbara recently
      refused to block subpoenas ordering the Scientology groups to hand over
      records of money transferred to them by certain Slatkin investors who came
      out ahead financially. The subpoenas also seek records of communications
      the groups had about Slatkin, a longtime but now excommunicated
      Scientologist who was known for his celebrity clientele.

      "The subpoenas mark the first legal targeting of church entities. No suits
      have been filed against the church or the affiliates. Attorneys expect
      months of legal wrangling before the subpoenas might yield anything.
      Lawyers for the church groups, who sought to block the subpoenas, won a
      partial victory from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robin Riblet, who is overseeing
      Slatkin's bankruptcy. The judge ruled Friday that they can participate in
      the subpoena process. That will allow the groups to mount further legal
      challenges and to have access to any documents that are made public.

      "One of the claims made to try to block the subpoenas was that details of
      money transfers are protected by 'clergy-communicant privileges' - the
      status accorded to the confessing of sins to a priest. But attorneys for
      the trustee and the committee of unsecured creditors questioned in court
      documents 'how a simple monetary transfer, where no communication was
      involved, would violate any clergy-communicant privileges.' Legally, there
      is no protection for third parties such as the Church of Scientology if it
      can be shown that they received supposed profits from Slatkin, said
      Alexander Pilmer, an attorney for the trustee and creditors. 'We believe
      that Scientology entities received tens of millions of dollars from
      Slatkin or from Slatkin's Ponzi scheme,' Pilmer said.

      "Slatkin pleaded guilty nearly a year ago to fraud, money laundering and
      conspiracy charges carrying a potential sentence of up to 15 years.
      Slatkin's plea agreement allowed him to request a lighter sentence because
      of what the plea agreement called the 'psychological impact of his
      association with certain individuals and/or groups,' a reference to his
      membership in the Church of Scientology and long and close relationship
      with some prominent members.

      "Linda Simmons Hight, a spokeswoman for the church in Los Angeles, said
      Slatkin 'used his position in the church to suck in Scientologists who
      were victimized along with other people.' Pilmer said dozens of people who
      profited from Slatkin's scheme have settled the claims. The latest
      settlement, approved Friday by Riblet, was with CNN legal commentator
      Greta Van Susteren and her husband, tobacco litigator John Coale. They
      agreed to pay about $700,000 - about 81 cents on the dollar for the
      profits Slatkin paid them."

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      > Spam

      "Glennf" reported on March 26th that a marketing company hired by
      Scientology is sending out unsolicited emails asking for recipients to
      link to Scientology web sites. This would have the effect of boosting
      Scientology's prominence in search engines.

      "We would like very much to exchange links with your site, but to do it
      with a twist. Do to a long standing policy that prohibits the Church of
      Scientology from reciprocating links, we are not able to provide a link
      back. However, we do have a few sites that we could link you with.

      Ignite Business Solutions

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