In response to last week's article in the St. Petersburg Times about Lisa McPherson, Scientology attorney Elliot Abelson wrote a letter to the editor, which was published this week. The letter attempted to cash in on the distrust of tabloid media following Lady Diana's death in an auto accident.
"While many tabloid media are currently undergoing some responsible self-examination, reporter Tom Tobin and the Times continue to exploit the tragic death of Lisa McPherson with relentless and sensational reporting of non-news.
"Lisa's many friends and those who knew her and loved her would rather not have the last days of her life exploited and sensationalized by media. Unfortunately, the Times has no such scruples. It is intrusive and unnecessary reporting such as the Times has displayed that is the reason the reputation of the media is currently at a low ebb."
SP Times: Letters to the Editors
Plans for Scientology's protest in Berlin on October 27th were posted this week from the closed TNX mailing list.
"The motto is: 'BREAK THROUGH THE WALL OF INTOLERANCE' 10:00 Gathering at the place around the 'Brandenburger Tor' It will go towards the 'Siegessaeule' (column of triumph) and then towards the 'Deutschlandhalle'. (Distance: about 6 km, that is about 4 miles) In the Deutschlandhalle will be a concert with internationally known artists, and announcements. This will take 3 hours and it will end at 6 pm.
"At 8:30 pm will be a 'warn-watch' (I'm not sure about the translation, the German word is 'Mahnwache'). and an interreligious service. At the 28th October there will be a conference for religious freedom and human rights. 400 participants are expected."
Reuters reported this week that a German court has upheld the firing of a Scientologist.
"A German court on Thursday rejected a complaint brought by a psychologist who was sacked by a Berlin counselling service because of her membership of the American-based Church of Scientology. The Berlin industrial tribunal said the unnamed woman's beliefs presented 'the danger of partisan influence with the ideas of Scientology' on her patients, who it said were often in an impressionable state.
"Scientology said in a statement the dismissal was a 'hysterical reaction' that would contribute to further discrimination against Scientology members in Germany. 'A dismissal based on a person's perceived or actual religious beliefs is illegal and violates Germany's constitution and international human rights conventions,' Scientology spokeswoman Sabine Weber said in a statement released in Munich.
"The sacking followed an incident in November 1995 when the woman printed out invitations at work to a Scientology workshop, and then distributed them at the counselling service's premises. At the time, she denied any involvement with Scientology or 'Dianetics,' a purported system of improving mental health devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Later, however, she admitted that she also worked at a Dianetics centre."
Scientology will be participating in a U.S. Senate hearing on Religious Intolerance in Europe Today on September 18th.
"Commission Chairman Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) today announced a forthcoming hearing: Religious Intolerance in Europe Today Thursday, Sept. 18 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. Room SD-562, Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. Open to the Members, the Public and the Press.
"Witnesses will present views concerning religious intolerance in participating States of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with a focus on government actions and policies inhibiting and restricting the profession and practice of religions or beliefs -- in violation of these States' international commitments. Witnesses scheduled to appear include: Anatoly V. Pchelintsev: Director, Institute of Religion and Law, Moscow, Russia (invited); Ekaterina Smyslova: Chief of the Legal Department, Institute of Religion and Law, Moscow, Russia; Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J.: Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace, U.S. Catholic Conference (invited); The Very Rev. Dr. George Papaioannou: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America; James M. McCabe, Esq.: Associate General Counsel, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society; Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr.: Brigham Young University, School of Law, Member of the Executive Committee of the International Academy of Freedom of Religion and Belief.; Dr. Shimon Samuels: Director of European Affairs, The Simon Wiesenthal Center.; Dr. Laila Al'Marayati: President, Muslim Women's League and Member, Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad (invited); Steve Selthoffer: Director for Legal and Media Affairs, Evangelical Christian Church, Cologne, Germany; John Travolta: Church Of Scientology; Chick Corea: Church of Scientology; Issac Hayes: Church of Scientology"
The Boston Globe reported that Chick Corea recently performed at a Scientology fundraiser in Boston.
"Chick Corea put on a solo piano benefit concert for the Church of Scientology, of which he is a member, Sunday night at Landsdowne Street Playhouse. The suggested donation for a ticket was $150, with the money going to 'the new Mission of the Church of Scientology Boston'."
Scientologist-owned Earthlink Network announced the resignation of Barry Hall, CFO of the company. Earthlink was embarrassed in recent weeks by a cash shortfall which threatened its existence past this year. The status of Hall in Scientology is not currently known.
"EarthLink Network Inc. Friday announced that Barry Hall, chief financial officer, has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Until Hall's successor is named, Charles (Garry) Betty, EarthLink's president and CEO, will have responsibility for all corporate financial functions. The company has initiated a nationwide search for Hall's replacement.
"'Barry played an integral role as part of the team that guided the company through the preparations for its initial public offering and subsequent listing on NASDAQ,' said Betty. 'We wish him well as he moves on to seek new challenges.'"
Florida Trend Magazine carried an article on Scientology's operations in Clearwater, Florida, including a photo of the Ft. Harrison Hotel.
"The Church of Scientology...already one of the largest property owners in downtown Clearwater, has been snapping up properties around it's international headquarters, the former Ft. Harrison Hotel. In the last year, the Church has purchased four motels to house an estimated 2,000 Scientologists who visit each year. (One well-known church member, Lisa Marie Presley recently bought a waterfront home in Clearwater.) Now the church, which owns 21 properties in Clearwater, wants to build it's largest project ever, a 300,000-square-foot, 6 story office building to be used for training and counseling. Plans also call for a 2500-seat auditorium and an 800-space parking garage.
"[I]ts expansion may not be the sort of growth the city had in mind. For one, a number of controversies involving the church has meant that 'Peoples perceptions of the church has not been good at times', says incoming city manager Mike Roberto. In addition, the church is one of the largest of some 20 tax-exempt organizations owning $126.9 million worth of property downtown, representing almost $7 million a year in lost property tax revenues."
William Barwell reported on his trip to see the new Scientology bookstore in downtown Houston.
"It is located in The Park, a multistory building, in which much of the three lower stories are given over to a minimall. The new Scientology book store is located on the third floor. The store next to them is vacant. It is a small store, only about 12'X 12'. A Kiosk. The lady who was running it was a blond, late 30ish woman.
"The had Dianetics and Slant in box displays outside the door, more inside. Dianetics in hardback and an audio version, Probably edited down a bit, and a few other similar audio tapes for the illiterates among us, and a freebie display. A good good copy of the 'stress test' and an invitation to the Fondren location for the film 'Orientation'. No glossy stuff, no copies of the Auditor or KSW, or Freedom, or such rags. I was surprised at some stuff I saw. Introduction to Scientology Ethics. History of Man. They did not have an E-meter or other goodies, no jewelry, no Hubbard busts, or other paraphernalia.
"As I browsed, the lady finally asked me if I needed help. 'No' I said, just looking. 'Are you a Scientologist?' No. 'Have you heard of Scientology?' Yes? 'What have you heard?' Nothing much good, I answered truthfully. I explained how I had read Hubbard in Astounding Science Fiction in 1963. I mentioned my problems with the way the cult handled it's business and it's unorthodox ethics in regard to fair gaming Paulette Cooper, who I admitted reading in 1973.
"'Well, not everybody who does something bad as a Scientologist represents Scientology.' I pointed to the book Ethics and pointed out that a religion that has 'high crimes' and disconnections as official policies is not blameless. I broached the subject matter of the Internet, and pointed out I had also had communicated with high ranking ex-members, read OT materials and court cases involving the cult. By this time, she was furiously taking notes.
"At this point, I was asked to leave the store. I needled her a bit while slowly and firmly taking my time to grab one of each off of the freebie rack and smirking, wandered, off. I then wandered back, where she was steaming and reminded her that the operative internet newsgroup was alt.religion.scientology. She did not take notes and reiterated the desire I not come into her store."
"LsaDerrick" reported that Scientology defendant Keith Henson was assaulted at a solo picket outside Scientology's Cedars complex in Los Angeles this week.
"[T]hey knew Keith was coming and had some of their guys out there holding SP Criminal signs and walking along. There were a couple scuffles. Before I got there the Lisa McPherson sign had been spray painted. Scientology guy JOE got in Keith's face and tried to grab his camera. I got in the middle of that urging them to be gentlemen. I went for water for Keith and when I came back, they had tried to grab his flyers.
"There was a scuffle as Keith was leaving, a Scientologist shoved Keith and took his stack of Xemu fliers and ran with them. Earlier Keith had walked to 7/11 two blocks away and passed out fliers with a cortage of Scientologist with him asking him not to do that. The scientologist seem to feel that the Xemu flier is a violation of their copyright and said the word SUE a bunch. Elliot, the lawyer on McPherson was there as well."
Entertainment Weekly ran a cover story on Scientologist Kirstie Alley, describing her new TV show, Veronica's Closet.
"'Let's go, people,' bellows Kirstie Alley during a rehearsal for NBC's Veronica's Closet. 'I have a birthday party to go to!' Costar Kathy Najimy's baby is toted off the set by a nanny as Najimy and Alley take their places on a sofa. A man in headphones says, 'Ready,' but in the few seconds of silence before 'Action,' Alley breaks character and--apparently seized by some impish muse--blurts out an unscripted claim: 'I have a d--k!' Alley finds great humor in male genitalia (remember her 1991 Emmy acceptance speech, in which she thanked husband Parker Stevenson for giving her 'the big one'?), so nothing new there. No, the Big News is that Kirstie Alley, 42, is back in a series. And not only is she back--after a self-imposed four-year hiatus from sitcoms since Cheers closed its doors--she's back in the fall show that's most likely to succeed.
"[O]ne wonders if, having been on Cheers, Alley really needs more money. 'I do,' she says. 'I don't know if Ted does...but I have big goals. I want to change the world. I believe I can change the world.'
"'I want to put Scientology missions around the world,' says Alley, speaking unapologetically about the controversial religion she shares with longtime pal John Travolta. She credits L. Ron Hubbard's book Dianetics with helping her remove personal barriers (notably low self-esteem and cocaine dependency) back in 1979 and enabling her to pursue a career in acting. Her first mission was built two years ago in Wichita and includes a literacy center 'where anyone, whether they want to be a Scientologist or not, can come and learn to read. So when you ask me about money, I need a lot of money. Once you educate somebody, that's giving them freedom, and that's sort of where it's at for me.'"
EW: "Closet Case"
Variety reported this week that a number of lawsuits surround a book on Priscilla Presley, including legal threats from Scientology.
"The first legal round between Priscilla Presley and Currie Grant, the man who reportedly introduced her to then-G.I. Elvis Presley stationed in Germany, will take place Sept. 17 in Santa Monica Superior Court. Each is suing the other for statements made to author Suzanne Finstad in her book, 'Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley.' The author says she, too, had been threatened with suits from Presley (Priscilla) and her church (of Scientology)."
An article written by Scientologist George Chelekis has caused Market News Publishing to apologize to David Baines, a writer for the Vancouver Sun. Testimony regarding the libel Chelekis wrote has been made in the British Columbia Supreme Court. From Businesswire:
"Market News Publishing Inc. disseminated an article that made allegations that Vancouver Sun business writer David Baines was trading against his column. This article was written by George Chelekis, a stock tipster from Clearwater, Florida.
"'The allegations against Mr. Baines were completely false. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Baines and The Vancouver Sun for disseminating this material and for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused.'"
From Street Wire:
"The libel, slander and bad feelings trial between Southam Inc and David Baines as plaintiffs and Robert Shore, David Robinson and George Chelekis as defendants continued in BC Supreme Court on Thursday, September 11, 1997. Resuming his testimony before Mr Justice John Rowan was Robert Shore, the owner, publisher and admitted libeler at Market News Publishing Inc. Mr Shore and Market News are accused of distributing two of Mr Chelekis's articles and a press release that impugned the integrity and honesty of Vancouver Sun business reporter David Baines and Howe Street investigator Adrian du Plessis. Neither Mr Chelekis nor David Robinson, publisher of the Florida-based tout sheet Bull & Bear, are represented in court, though both attempted unsuccessfully to derail their trial. Mr du Plessis is pursuing a separate legal action over the libelous allegations that he conspired with Mr Baines and unnamed short sellers to profit from driving down the price of a number of VSE companies over a six-year period. In addition, Mr Chelekis told about 150 people at a May 1996 investment conference in Vancouver that Mr Baines was HIV positive and had not told his wife.
"Mr Shore replied that he asked Mr Chelekis for the names of the sources for specific allegations contained in the August story and was assured credible people gave him the information; both that and the subsequent October Bull & Bear stories offered no attributions. Mr Gibson pressed Mr Shore, demanding to know the names of one -- even one -- individual, gleaned from his several meetings with the writer, that formed the basis of the allegedly defamatory material in the first article. Mr Shore said names were mentioned, but his memory had gone blank: 'I don't remember any of the names.'
"'George Chelekis's attack on David Baines could have ended his career. The one thing that saved him was the support of Southam Inc.' But despite that support, Mr Baines became the subject of a vicious and obscene fax campaign. Furthermore, other news outlets picked up the affair for their publications, repeating the allegations in publications such as Vancouver Magazine and the Globe and Mail. 'In fact, it's still going on, on the Internet,' Mr Gibson added. Mr Gibson stated the awards for damages should rival that of a recent case involving the Church of Scientology, which tallied $1.6 million in punitive, general and compensatory damages."
Metro, a Santa Clara Valley weekly, ran a story on Scientology defendants Keith Henson and Grady Ward this week, describing the cases and their deposition of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
"The air conditioning inside the makeshift courtroom at the Wyndham Hotel in Palm Springs purred loudly, but Grady Ward was cooking. This self-described 'fat, bald house-husband' from tiny Arcata, Calif., had managed to corner the top Scientology official, David Miscavige, powerful chairman of a multimillion-dollar international religious empire. And now that he had him where he wanted him, his cross-examination consisted of staring and making faces."
metro ACTIVE: "High-tech Heretics"
Toronto continues to be the site of ongoing pickets of the Scientology organization, as described in ongoing reports by Gregg Hagglund.
"September 6, 1997. We started off by tywrapping one eight foot pole to a sign standard at the side of the org. and stretching out the 10 foot by two foot banner which proclaimed: The Church of Scientology in Canada is Celebrating: 30 YEARS OF INFAMY! The only Criminally Convicted 'Church' in Canada!
"All told we gave out over 250 flyers and pamphlets to eager hands and many thankyous. We had dozens of verbal and car acks. Even acks from the cast of the live theatre across the street who leaned out to wave and yell encouragement to us from the upper floor windows.
"Rev. Buttnor complains to Police and they responded by sending out two squad cars which parked on the side street at about 2:45pm. Out pops two Officers one of whom kinda hangs around near me and the other goes into the Org. A few minutes later the Officer reemerges from the Org and politely approaches me. He is holding in his hand colour copies of two of my Website Rogues Gallery Pages. He asks Artemis (who had now joined me) and I, if we were aware of our Rights and Obligations. He proceeded to give us a polite lecture about not sticking cameras in CoS staff faces and blocking pedestrians. I told him we didn't plan to file charges against the Co$ for doing this. No, no he said, they claim the demonstrators were doing this and even tho' we had the right to demonstrate we must not be obstructive. I laughed and said I had had a complete briefing on dos and don'ts from PC Crook of traffic division. He said that CoS lawyers, according to Buttnor, were investigating my site and recordings of my harangues too, for slander and libel.
"For Monday September 8, the actual 30th Anniversary of Scientology in Canada, Artemis and I had decided to give the Co$ a surprise reprise of Saturday September 6th INFAMY! Picket, for at least one hour. We were prepared for stiff opposition - and we got it! The counter-picketing was lame and a fair number of the CoS propaganda was hitting the sidewalk. Our stuff was either carefully read asap or folded and tucked into pockets, purses or stuffed in shopping bags.
"Artemis was just telling me that Buttnor had sailed on by and gone into the org when the 'New Slant' sound track began on the external speaker. We rolled up the banner and retired to the Artful Dodger to get some liquid refreshments. We paid our tab, and sauntered back over to the Org. Buttnor was in the doorway, smirking. And the 'ANIMALLLLLL' track was on at 'earshatter'. I set my M-phone to #3 and began with my '$100,000 secret routine'. After about 15 minutes the Org took the sound to 'earthblast'. Half the track was so distorted it could not be understood. I thumbed my mike to #4 and announced to the open Org door that they were interfering with a lawful Picket and I was going to call the cops. I got smirks from the two OT3 lady clams they had outside counter littering, er leafletting. I stepped up the sidestreet beside the Org a bit and called 52 Division. I explained the situation. They said that they would try to send someone about, but as long as it was just sound and 'rush hour' was starting, it might be awhile if at all. Why didn't I just turn up the M-phone?
"It was 4:20 and I began a virtual none stop oratory that lasted until the org was forced out of the contest at 5:30. First I apologized to all in earshot but 'the Scientologists were demonstrating their contempt for Civil Law or Wog law as they called it and trying to interfere with my freedom of speech.' I went on and on about Court Opinions, the $100,000 secret, Scientology being ashamed and embarrassed about the Xenu story, the No Christ bit, the Fair game Policy, Hubbard's Utopia and the disposal quietly and without sorrow of critics the infirm, the deaf, the mentally challenged etc. People were stopping across the street and egging me on. Some were shouting things like 'Let 'em have it!' 'You tell 'em' 'Go louder, louder' 'Fuck those cult bastards' etc.
"Artemis was being swamped. He could hardly deal out the RXSpecials fast enough. At 5 pm the org increased the sound one last desperate increment. I resisted the temptation no more and went to #5. I could see people two blocks away craning their necks to catch a look at the source of the sound. The days end crowds were pouring past Artemis. He looked like he was almost tossing the flyers out. Hands were grabbing and people were smiling and giving us thumbs up, not trying to shout encouragement over the competing dins, but wanting to communicate their near universal approval.
"The org sound abruptly stopped at almost exactly 5:30. I think somebody had the riot act read them on the phone. I thumbed the mike back to #2 and glanced back at the org. The street behind me was empty. Artemis went through the next to last flyer at 5:45 and we decided to call it quits. We walked past the org storefront and started past the org Office section. Artemis stopped and said 'Look, inside the doors! An Event Poster!' I whipped a pen and paper out of one of my vest pockets and stepped up to and peered through the outside set of doors. I was suddenly surrounded. 'Wimpy' was on my right and very close. 'Get out of there!' he growled as I started to write down the details on the poster, ' You are trespassing!'. 'I am not in your building, but I am going to write down the details of that publicly displayed sign as I have a right to do.' 'You have no rights!' Wimpy sneered. Then he stepped in and gave me a solid bit of his shoulder.
"Now I turned back to Buttnor. 'You guys should come out everyday, we haven't been this busy in awhile!' I calmly said, 'Oh, you always say that! Do you know how twisted that is? Are you so desperately downstat you have to suck up to two SPs you can not control?' Buttnor lost it entirely. He began shouting 'You promote hatred! You promote hatred! You are a hate monger! You are a hate monger!' I caught his eye and quietly advised him. ' You know that is defamatory and untrue. Nothing I have said is in the least bit hatred. You've taped it all and your own lawyers have told you so, haven't they?' 'Get out! Get Out or I'll call the Police!' Buttnor shouted.
"Of course, part of Buttnor and Wimpy's hysteria was caused by Artemis noticing and me recording the information on their next 'Big Event'. It is an obvious Demonstration Opportunity."
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