Buffalo OrgThe Buffalo News reported on August 29th that the Buffalo, New York org is being outfitted for business by volunteers from around the world and prisoners from a nearby prison. "Volunteers from around the globe have been hard at work in the Church of Scientology's new three-story, two-mezzanine home at 836 Main St., on the southwest corner of Main and Virginia streets. Members have come from as far as Hungary, Lithuania, South Africa and Italy to work on the 23,232-square-foot building's restoration, scheduled for completion in mid-September. "This week marks the fifth month that Benac, owner of a specialty painting company in Chicago, has spent painting and plastering the 19th century building. His skillful hands have built up the bases of the building's pillars by applying as many as eight coats of plaster of Paris, and restoring the decorative egg and dart molding at the top of the columns. 'This is in the traditional manner of how church buildings were done,' said Teresa Reger of East Aurora, president of the church's Buffalo chapter. Reger said the Church of Scientology regularly updates its worldwide chapters about new events through video or satellite, and that spurred the interest of some members to help. "Not all of the labor has been volunteer. Hired contractors have done some of the work. So did a crew of six inmates from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden. They were removed after Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan was questioned by The Buffalo News about the propriety of a government agency providing free labor to a church. "The Scientologists then paid $300,000 for the Main Street building, constructed in 1893 by the Buffalo Catholic Institute, a group of German-American Catholics who used it for religious research and lectures. The building has been vacant in recent years. The center will be the home to scientologists in Western and Central New York, Pennsylvania, and some parts of Ohio and Canada. The staff will increase to 75 to 100, from about 25 six months ago, Reger said. She said she couldn't say how many members the Buffalo church had because of the broad area from which it draws. "The space, with cathedral ceilings as high as 19 feet, includes an intimate, horseshoe-shaped sanctuary on the third floor and 'detoxification rooms,' including saunas, that Scientologists use to rid the body of impurities. State-of-the-art flat screens, beaming videos about Scientology and its founder, the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, are found in the visitors entrance and third-floor lounge." Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal AgreementFox News published a story on September 3rd on the legal agreement Scientologists sign in order to take courses. "The contract - called the 'Agreement and General Release Regarding Spiritual Assistance' - makes it clear that the signee does not believe in psychiatry and does not want to be treated for any kind of psychiatric ailment should one befall him. Instead, once the paper is signed, the agreement calls for the Church of Scientology to step in if there's ever a problem. The result would be total isolation and constant surveillance. "The question is: Will the stars upon whom Scientology has depended to carry its message - including Cruise, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Lisa Marie Presley and her mother, Priscilla - sign a new agreement that could potentially hand over their rights and personal freedom to the church? "The wording of the agreement is shocking, to say the least. If a member of the church becomes what we might call 'mentally incompetent,' he automatically agrees to be placed in the care of Scientology counselors, potentially barring family, friends or anyone else from interceding, including doctors and psychiatrists. "The new agreement seems to stem from a long-simmering wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the estate of Lisa McPherson against the Church of Scientology. By having members sign the contact agreeing to be isolated from family and medical professionals, the church apparently believes it would be immune to such lawsuits. The lawsuit, which has suffered several postponements, may come to trial in 2004. "Outspoken critics of Scientology - such as Carnegie Mellon professor Dave Touretzky, who uncovered the new agreement - claim the form is designed to protect the church from further litigation. "The Spiritual Assistance agreement reads in part: 'I understand that the Introspection Rundown is an intensive, rigorous Religious Service that includes being isolated from all sources of potential spiritual upset, including but not limited to family members, friends or others with whom I might normally interact. As part of the Introspection Rundown, I specifically consent to Church members being with me 24 hours a day at the direction of my Case Supervisor, in accordance with the tenets and custom of the Scientology religion. The Case Supervisor will determine the time period in which I will remain isolated, according to the beliefs and practices of the Scientology religion.'" From the New York Post on September 4th: "Rick Ross, a well-known cult watcher, writes on his Web site, rickross.com: 'It seems that Scientologist superstars may be signing away rights most citizens within free countries take for granted.' The 'church' has a document titled 'Agreement and General Release Regarding Spiritual Assistance' which states, 'Others may think that I need psychiatric treatment. I instead desire to receive Scientology spiritual assistance.' The same agreement prohibits 'any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member' from placing the Scientologist into a hospital or facility for psychiatric treatment. "Instead, the Scientologists are subjected to the 'Introspection Rundown,' an 'intensive, rigorous Religious Service that includes being isolated from all sources of potential spiritual upset, including but not limited to family members, friends or others.' The subject is supervised by 'church members 24 hours a day at the direction of [a] Case Supervisor [who will] determine the time period [the subject] will remain isolated.'" Message-ID: email@example.com Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABLEThe Lovelock Review-Miner reported on August 28th that a Nevada school district will no longer be conducting a test program involving Scientology study methods. "The Pershing County School Board has ordered the discontinuation of a study program currently being used at Pershing County Middle School until further research could be done by the school board members. The chief concerns include the fact that the books being used in the program are authored by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology and that the terms used in the books may be the fundamental basis for the Church of Scientology. "This study method is called LEAP, Literacy and Education Awareness Project and comes from a non-profit company called Applied Scholastics. While the program has been used within the school district for over a year, the concerns were just recently raised when Pershing County High School teacher Valdine McLean learned of the program's connection to Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. She said that L. Ron Hubbard is as revered in the Church of Scientology as the pope is in Catholicism and Joseph Smith is with the Church of Latter Day Saints. She said, the fact that he authored the books concerns her. 'My question is, if the pope's name was on any public books,' McLean said, 'would it be appropriate for school?' She said that she would think that it was not. "McLean said that while the books say nothing directly about Scientology, the terms used in the books are the fundamental basis for the Church of Scientology. McLean provided information to the board that showed that the three principles of the study method are also fundamentals in the Church of Scientology. "Special Programs Coordinator Anita Fisk, who was instrumental in bringing the project to Lovelock, and Debra Scilacci, PCMS teacher, spoke about the program. Fisk urged the board to talk to the teachers before making a decision about whether or not to use the program. She also said that there was nothing underhanded on her part to hide anything about the program. Scilacci has been using the program in her classes and presented the board with information on how the program helped in her summer school classes. "During the special board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, the room was packed by more than 100 people. Dave Noonan from the University of Nevada facilitated the meeting so that the board members could concentrate on the information and testimony being given. Fisk said that the study is used across the United States in private and public schools. She said that the books used in the program do not proselytize for any religion. She explained that if any funding were being diverted from Applied Scholastics to any religion, it would not be non-profit. She said that 28 teachers that had initial training with the program moved forward with additional training. "PCMS Principal Charles Safford said that he has looked through the books and has determined that they are secular. He said that several PCMS teachers said that they would like to add the study method to their curriculum. He said that district staff members who are in favor of the program asked him not to use their names because they were concerned of people's reaction. Several people from out of town spoke positively about the program. The people included LEAP staff members and Ed Fila, a representative from a Utah-based company called Innovations in Education. Fila said that several schools in Utah use this program including the best academic school in Utah. "McLean, Quint Hughes, Richard Wagner, Tom Moura, Walter and Coni Jo Brinkerhoff were amongst those that were opposed to the program. McLean said that it is her faith as a Catholic that has prompted her to do what she has done. She said that it was interesting that people from Las Vegas, Utah and California had to be brought in to testify for the program. She said that she doesn't care how good the program is and if it does raise test scores if it undermines people's faith. "McLean said that she wasn't there to make accusations against school district staff, she was there to demonstrate her concern that the program violated the separation of church and state. She said that a strong connection between the study method and Scientology is that the same publisher published both the program materials and Scientology books. McLean also said that on the Church of Scientology's website, the Church claims the books as their own. "Wagner said that he was there to speak as an individual. He said that he didn't care if the program was good or bad, he cared if it was constitutional. He said that there could be a violation of constitutional rights if the board decided to use the program despite the concerns of the citizen. He stated that he had a problem with the usage of the program. He showed a copy of the booklet being used with the instruction of teachers. He asked that if the name L. Ron Hubbard was replaced with the name Jesus Christ, a cross placed on the cover and a synopsis of Hubbard's life inside the book was replaced with a synopsis of Christ's life, would it be allowed in schools? 'That's what this is about,' he said. "Lovelock Elementary Literacy Specialists Sandy Condie and Shea Murphy said that the Applied Scholastics is drastically different than the reading methods they are teaching in elementary school. They were both concerned about the differences between the two programs and the different teaching methods that students would receive. "Another special board meeting was set up for Tuesday, September 2 at 5:15. The location is yet to be determined, but Fox said that he would try to find a location to better suit the number of people. Tacker said that the next special meeting won't be for testimony, but to give the school board an opportunity to discuss the issue amongst themselves and make a final decision. An audience member asked why it seemed that the program was brought in the back door. Board member Clingan said that it wasn't brought in the back door. Both the initial presentation and the approval of the program were on the school board agenda. "In an interview McLean said that much of her research was based on an essay on Scientology's Study Technology and compares the terms used in the Applied Scholastics program to the terms used in the Church of Scientology. She said that website can be found at studytech.org/study_tech.php McLean said that all the information on the website can be validated. It offers weblinks to where the information was obtained from and all the words are used in the same way." Message-ID: email@example.com
NetherlandsKarin Spaink reported on September 4th a court has found that portions of the OT materials on her web site were are within Dutch law. "While the court of appeals considers OT2 and OT3 to have not been legally published, the freedom of expression prevails and my website containing quotes form OT2 and OT3 is completely ok with them: Scientology needs to pay all costs. "The courts damned Scientology for the secrecy surrounding OT2 and OT3 and says that Scientology - which they call an 'organisation', not a 'church' - uses that secrecy to wield power over its members, and furthermore states that Scientology is attempting to overthrow democratic values." Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reed SlatkinFormer Scientology minister Reed Slatkin was sentence to 14 years in jail for his role in a Ponzi investment scheme that took millions of dollars from Scientologists and other investors. From Reuters on September 2nd: "Financier Reed Slatkin, a key player in the creation of Internet service provider EarthLink Inc., was sentenced on Tuesday to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. A federal court in Los Angeles also ordered Slatkin to pay more than $240 million in restitution to clients of his fund management business. "The government had asked that he be sentenced to the minimum in a range from 11 years and three months to 14 years after defrauding investors of nearly $600 million, but Judge Margaret Morrow chose the more severe option. 'The havoc that the defendant has wreaked is immense, the loss is immeasurable,' she told a courtroom packed with attorneys and victims of Slatkin. "Referring to the 500 or so days he has already spent in federal custody, Slatkin said, 'Not one of these days has gone by without (my) feeling the overwhelming responsibility for the harms I caused these people.' Slatkin pleaded guilty in 2002 to 15 counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. "His attorneys blamed much of his behavior on the influence of the Church of Scientology, of which he was a member and from where many of his victims came. 'There is no question that the hold the Church had on Mr. Slatkin was significant,' lawyer Brian Sun told the court. 'It took us a while to de-program Mr. Slatkin.' "But an attorney for the Church told Reuters that Slatkin's claims, and those of his lawyers, were all a ruse designed to draw attention away from his crimes. 'We were pleased the judge saw through it,' said David Schindler, an attorney from the firm of Latham & Watkins who represents the Church. 'It was shameful of (Slatkin). He sold the psychiatrists a bill of goods.' From the Los Angeles Times on September 2nd and 3rd: "During more than 15 years of fraud that cost his investors $240 million, Reed E. Slatkin seemed as much trusted friend as money manager. He schmoozed clients with tips on how to landscape their estates, attended funerals of their family members and all the while offered assurances that he would protect their college and retirement funds. "Slatkin, 54, has admitted he fabricated account statements that showed clients beating the stock market's heady returns of the late 1990s, while using their funds to pay for airplanes, luxury cars, real estate, artwork and gold for himself. The long-running scam ended in his bankruptcy in 2001, followed by his guilty pleas last year to 15 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. "'If the sentence is 11 years, you can wrap a fish in it,' said John Poitras of Santa Ynez, Calif., a former venture capitalist who lost $15 million with Slatkin. 'We're just going to walk away from it, because it stinks.' Slatkin took millions from Poitras toward the end of his criminal career, at a time when Slatkin was stalling an SEC attempt to investigate him. "At about the same time, the family of cellular telephone entrepreneur Michael Azeez entrusted about $17 million to Slatkin, bringing their total investment with him to nearly $44 million. 'He's some type of psychopath,' Azeez said in a telephone interview from his home in New Jersey. 'I don't know how you go into people's parties, religious functions, like he did. He even went to my dad's funeral.' "Slatkin had a number of high-profile clients, including actors Peter Coyote and Joe Pantoliano, model Cheryl Tiegs and legal commentator Greta Van Susteren. Those notables were among the relatively few Slatkin clients who were repaid more than they invested. Their profits were bogus, however, as Slatkin admitted in his plea agreement: The payouts were part of a long-running Ponzi scheme that plundered some investors to pay others. "Attorneys for the trustee and the creditors have sued to recover funds from Slatkin's bankers and from his clients who came out ahead. They also are negotiating with groups affiliated with the Church of Scientology that allegedly wound up with tens of millions of dollars in donations from Slatkin clients. Many of the clients who came out winners already have settled the cases, but Alexander Pilmer, an attorney for the creditors and the trustee, estimated there still may be $100 million in such 'bogus profits' to pursue for investors whose accounts were drained. "Slatkin's plea agreement acknowledged that his financial career had been a fraud since 1986, when he was managing funds for fellow Scientologists. As years passed, he acquired many clients who did not belong to the group, whose belief system is based on the works of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard." "Citing 'the tremendous harm he has done,' U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow rejected the former Santa Barbara money manager's claim that he had acted under 'duress and diminished capacity' because of threats from fellow Scientologists who allegedly urged him to continue his scam so they could profit. Morrow credited Slatkin with helping authorities unravel the financial fiasco, as Slatkin had pledged to do in his plea bargain last year, but raised questions about the timeliness and degree of his assistance. 'The cooperation has been, shall we say, somewhat checkered,' the judge said. "A lawyer for the Church of Scientology praised the judge, saying she 'saw right through' Slatkin's claims about Scientologists. 'The church had nothing to do with the fact that he lied, cheated and stole,' the lawyer, David Schindler, said after the hearing. Slatkin's fraudulent financial empire lasted 15 years, dissolving into bankruptcy proceedings in May 2001, leaving investors with a loss prosecutors set at $240 million. Taken into custody in April 2002, he pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. "Summarizing their lengthy filings with the court, including reports on Slatkin by two psychologists and a criminologist, the defense argued that Slatkin feared Scientologists would harm him and his family if he shut down his scheme. His lawyers contended that Slatkin paid millions of dollars in purported profits to Scientologists who then made large donations to the Scientology organization, which knew of his long history of falsifying financial statements. "'The hold the church had on Mr. Slatkin was significant even up to the points of his surrender into custody,' Sun told the judge. Morrow said she found 'very little evidence of direct pressure on the defendant' to keep the scam going so donations would continue flowing to Scientologists. She said she tended to believe the story of Daniel W. Jacobs, a Scientologist who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for helping Slatkin stall a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of his operation for more than a year. Jacobs testified briefly Wednesday about a conversation in which Slatkin allegedly suggested he would try to blame the organization for his crimes. He told how Slatkin, saying he was facing more than 10 years in prison, 'was going to say that the church was a significant negative influence on him in his state of mind.' Asked if Slatkin mentioned worrying about Scientologists harming him, Jacobs replied, 'No.' "Federal prisoners are eligible for release after serving 85% of their sentences. With that allowance and deducting time already served, Slatkin could be released in 10 1/2 years, when he is 64. He will remain for an undetermined time at Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A., to more easily assist the bankruptcy trustee, and later will be transferred to a federal prison somewhere in Southern California, Morrow ruled." From the Santa Barbara News-Press on September 3rd: "Imposing a harsher punishment than even prosecutors sought, a federal judge Tuesday sentenced former Hope Ranch resident and Earthlink co-founder Reed Slatkin to 14 years in prison for bilking hundreds of investors out of about $240 million. Before the sentencing, three of Mr. Slatkin's many victims were allowed to voice their wrath, and each urged the maximum sentence possible. "'There's something inherently evil in the way he carried out this scheme,' said investor Michael Azeez, whose family lost $42 million. 'He befriended us, he visited our homes, he met our families,' but then ended up swindling money from investors' retirement funds, college accounts and even life-insurance proceeds. 'Each and every time, he stole everything he could,' asserted another investor, John Poitras of Santa Ynez, who lost $15 million. 'He is enormously cruel. Punish him harshly.' "Since entering his guilty pleas, Mr. Slatkin has extensively shared information with criminal investigators on how the Ponzi scheme operated and who assisted him. He has also cooperated with a bankruptcy trustee seeking to identify any remaining assets that could be used to partially repay his victims. But his cooperation has been less than complete, a key factor cited by Judge Morrow in imposing a 14-year sentence after prosecutors had recommended 11 years. 'His cooperation has been, shall we say, somewhat checkered,' she said. "Defense lawyers suggested that was mostly due to his reluctance to implicate people who were members of the Church of Scientology. 'It took us awhile to deprogram Mr. Slatkin,' attorney Brian Sun told the judge. It took several months, he said, 'for us to wean him off the influences of this group. There is no question that the hold the church had on Mr. Slatkin was significant, even up to the time of his surrender.'" Message-ID: email@example.com Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org Message-ID: email@example.com Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint HillThis is Kent reported on August 22nd that a Scientology exhibition is being held in East Grinstead, with a goal of recruiting more volunteer ministers. "The Church of Scientology's travelling volunteer minister exhibition was opened by the Lord McNair on Tuesday in West Street, East Grinstead, aiming to bring simple solutions to everyday problems, such as with drugs, crime, conflict and illiteracy. The exhibition is housed in the Scientology Centre. "The exhibition includes demonstrations of simple practical methods to help deal with the daily problems in life, and also shows the work done by the volunteer ministers in disaster areas, such as in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 disaster. Scientology volunteer ministers worked alongside the fire brigade, Red Cross and the police at Ground Zero, New York. "Opening the exhibition, Lord McNair said: 'We have the answers to many common problems, such as problems with study, how to understand others, how to be happy, how to communicate, how to help someone recover from illness or injury, problems with drugs, how to resolve conflicts, problems with stress, marriage problems and how to be more organised.' "The church plans to train thousands of volunteer ministers internationally by the year end and wants to train hundreds in West Sussex. The exhibition runs until August 25." Message-ID: email@example.com
A.r.s. Week in Review is put together by Rod Keller ©
This collection is organised for WWW by Andreas Heldal-Lund.
Only edits done by me is replacing word encapsuled in * or _ with bold and underscore, and made links into HTML.