The U.S. House of Representatives this week voted down a resolution that would have criticized Germany for alleged discrimination against Scientologists.
"Republican -- 42 yea, 177 nay, 1 present, 8 not voting
Democratic -- 59 yea, 140 nay, 3 present, 3 not voting
Independent -- 0 yea, 1 nay, 0 present, 0 not voting
TOTAL -- 101 yea, 318 nay, 4 present, 11 not voting"
From the AP:
"The House emphatically rejected a measure Sunday that would have called on the president to express concern to Germany about government discrimination against minority religions, including Scientology. 'I think is inappropriate,' said Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., an opponent. 'It is unbalanced. It is damaging to our relations with Germany.' Among supporters, Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., argued that 'if we can't speak harshly to allies, who can we speak to? ... Let's stand up for what we profess to believe and that is religious tolerance.'"
From Agence France Presse:
"The US House of Representatives rejected Sunday a motion that would have condemned German authorities for alleged discrimination against religious minorities, particularly Scientologists. The measure would have called for condemnation of actions and statements by German federal and religious authorities which it said have fed an atmosphere of intolerance toward some religious minorities. It also would have called on President Bill Clinton to voice concern about alleged violations of religious minorities rights. Germany's ambassador to Washington, Juergen Chrobog, wrote to the house international affairs committee chairman Ben Gilman to protest the charges as totally groundless and absurd."
From the House debate:
"Mr. WISE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. If there is discrimination then it should be pointed out, but it should be pointed out in all the places it might occur. But here efforts are being made to single out Germany. I rise in opposition because there are differing views about some of the specific allegations. One of the performers that has been mentioned here has played in Germany as recently as last year at a function that received funding from the State of Bavaria. The movies that have supposedly been boycotted indeed have been shown and have been hits in Germany, financial successes.
"I rise in opposition because if we are talking about the Church of Scientology. Our own country did not grant tax-exempt status to that church until 1993. Indeed, there is a long list of nations, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Spain that presently decline to grant that same status.
"I rise in opposition because France, Italy, and Greece recently have taken actions which could be considered as discrimination in the sense they had made rulings against this Church of Scientology, and yet this resolution does not mention them.
"Finally, because in a statement by Michael Friedman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, responding to many of the charges made, he writes, 'They are totally off the mark. Today we have a democracy in Germany and a state based on rule of law.'
"The sponsors have heightened awareness about alleged discrimination in many places, but let us not single out an ally with relatively unsubstantiated charges. Instead, let us engage and talk to each other as the true friends we are. There are American men and women in Bosnia today side by side with German men and women holding up an important part of our European responsibilities. Germany works with us in so many different ways. Let us recognize that and vote this resolution down, at the same time urging that discrimination everywhere be pointed out and that we deal with it together."
The German government praised the vote, and plan an information campaign to explain Germany's position that Scientology is not a religion. From Reuters:
"Germany on Monday hailed the U.S. Congress for voting down a resolution accusing Bonn of discriminating against minority religious groups, particularly the Church of Scientology. Government officials also dismissed claims that Germans were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs and said they were astonished by reports that a German member of the Church had received asylum in the United States. 'This shows that reason has prevailed,' Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said after the U.S. House of Representatives voted against a measure urging President Bill Clinton to express U.S. concern about Germany's treatment of religious minorities, in particular Scientology."
"German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel was quoted on Wednesday as saying he planned an 'information campaign' to explain to U.S. senators Germany's refusal to accept Scientology as a religion. Germany argues that the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology is, in Germany at least, more of a business concern than a religion. It has also placed the group under nationwide surveillance on suspicion of anti-constitutional activity
"Kinkel told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily that though the U.S. Congress had defeated a resolution accusing Bonn of religious discrimination, there was still 'a huge lack of awareness' about the German position among U.S. politicians. 'I have made it absolutely clear that the German government is in no way persecuting Scientology,' Kinkel, who visited Washington last week, was quoted as saying. 'Through our embassy and through the media, we shall try to spread information through America so that these false assertions do not surface in the future,' he said. Singling out New York Senator Alfonso D'Amato as one of the most vociferous critics of the German position, he added: 'Senator D'Amato, I ask you: please let's not act like this.'"
Scientologist-owned TradeNet Marketing agreed to a settlement with the State of Oregon over its laundry ball product, which tested as being nothing more than blue water. From the St. Petersburg Times:
"Dunedin-based TradeNet Marketing Inc. has agreed to pay $190,000 to Oregon's Department of Justice and to no longer market in Oregon the plastic balls that it bills as an alternative to laundry detergent. Individual distributors in Oregon also have been ordered to stop selling the laundry balls. TradeNet admitted no violation of the law in court agreements filed Wednesday, but agreed to pay $125,000 for future consumer protection and education and $65,000 for restitution to consumers.
"Florida, Utah, Michigan and the Federal Trade Commission also are investigating TradeNet's products and business practices. 'When we started with the product we were led to believe that it worked,' said a statement released by TradeNet Thursday. 'Later when we had learned from Oregon and Utah there were inconsistencies, we then decided not to market the product.'
"Restitution to Oregonians will be on a first-come, first-served basis, limited to $75 a person, the cost of one of the balls. TradeNet still is selling other products, such as a device to improve automotive engine performance and water filters, according to the company's statement released Thursday. In documents supplied to the Florida Attorney General's Office, company officials have made reference to financial problems and said the three-story former bank building the company bought at 380 Main St. in July is for sale."
From the Oregon Department of Justice:
"The Laundry Solution, also known as the 'Blue Ball,' consists of a plastic sphere containing a blue liquid. In marketing the products, the companies first claimed that the sphere used specially treated 'structured water' to emit a negative charge through the walls of the sphere. The companies further stated that when the sphere is used in a washing machine, the negative charge cleans clothes and eliminates the need for detergent. The companies later revised these claims in brochures distributed with the products. The printed information stated that the spheres now contained 'Ie Crystals' that, again, were supposed to enable the globes to clean clothes. The 'globes' later were replaced by 'SuperGlobes' that were supposed to be used with an additive that contained detergent.
"Results of the tests indicated that the water in the spheres had no special characteristics. The 'globe products' essentially contain nothing more than water, blue dye and a foaming additive contained within an impermeable plastic shell. The Department therefore concluded that the products do not constitute nor create a detergent substitute."
Ray Randolph received email from Cartoonist Jim Berry, who was a target of Scientology for some of his cartoons about Scientology.
"The subject of Scientology brought back upsetting memories. Years ago a reader sent me an article about Scientology that appeared in a northern Florida newspaper (Tallahassee?). It was about how the 'church' operated with respect to dealing with the people on their 'enemies list.' It seems I did one or two cartoons that they didn't like. In the piece there was reference to 'Operation 'Berry's World,' or some such title. It told about the leader of the church of Scientology urging all of its members to write and call newspapers across the country and complain about my feature - telling editors and publishers to drop 'Berry's World.' This was an organized effort to kill my career and I had no idea that it was happening. It's a wonder my feature survived the onslaught. I decline to write anything further about this subject."
The Scientology-controlled Cult Awareness Network settled a lawsuit against the Landmark Education cult this week. From UPI:
"In a settlement announced today in Chicago and San Francisco, CAN agreed that it never had any evidence showing Landmark Education Corp. or its programs, including the Landmark Forum, were a cult. Cult Awareness Network spokeswoman Nancy O'Meara in Los Angeles says, 'We are a religious tolerance organization that gives people reliable information and reconciles families though mediation. The vile and hateful attitude is gone.'
"Landmark filed suit against the Cult Awareness Network in 1994 after the old group characterized Landmark as being a cult or cult-like and called the settlement 'a positive step in setting the record straight.' Landmark chairman Art Schreiber says, 'It has always been our intention to demonstrate to the Board of Directors of CAN through the independent research and opinions of numerous experts that any notion that Landmark or its programs are cult or cult-like is absurd.' Based in San Francisco, Landmark offers educational and human development programs through 57 offices in 14 countries."
PA News reported that a Dorchester man has received damages to compensate him for an accident that has changed his personality so that he is a sexual pest to women. The man donated 15,000 pounds to Scientology after the accident.
"Peter Lawrence summed up his problems as: 'short term memory, concentration and women or to put it another way - women, women and women.' Mr. Lawrence, 39, of Dorchester, Dorset, suffered a severe head injury in the 1991 collision when he was knocked off his motorcycle on the A322 by-pass in Surrey. His intelligence was undamaged - even possibly enhanced - but he had been left with impaired memory and a change of personality caused by damage to those parts of the brain which govern behaviour, emotion and control. This had shown itself, particularly, in sexual disinhibition so that he was an 'offensive pest or worse' when he came into contact with women, said Mr. Justice May in London.
"His extravagance with money showed itself in 1992 when he donated up to 15,000 to the Church of Scientology - of which his solicitor managed to recover 5,000. Mr. Lawrence drove impulsively and fast, and his flat was a shambles. He bought tapes, CDs and videos impulsively and was excessively tempted by special offers."
The International Herald Tribune carried a letter on the Scientology/Germany controversy.
"A meeting in Washington on Nov.5 between the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel of Germany included, as a topic of conversation, the status of a 'religion' whose doctrine states that human beings are clusters of spirits formerly trapped in ice and banished to Earth about 75 million years ago by the ruler of a 26-planet Galactic Confederation named Xenu.
"As an American lawyer living in Frankfurt, I cannot help but feeling ashamed. How can the U.S. government criticize Germany for regarding Scientology as a business and not a tax-exempt religion, a legal ruling, the United States held for 25 years? Could it really be possible under U.S. immigration law that, by the mere act of not being given tax-exempt status, German Scientologists would be allowed to seek asylum in the United States for religious persecution? Above all, why must Germany subscribe to the same religious definitions as the United States?"
The Oregonian reported this week that Scientologist Jairus Godeka may be fit to stand trial in the near future. Godeka is accused of shooting staff at the Portland org.
"Jairus C. Godeka has been receiving psychological treatment at Oregon State Hospital since January. At a status hearing Friday, one of Godeka's attorneys, Ronald Fishback, said that conversations with Rick Hulteng, an Oregon State Hospital psychologist, indicated that Godeka was making progress, but he remained delusional. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank L. Bearden said he hoped a trial date could be set soon after Godeka was determined fit to stand trial. 'We should have a trial shortly thereafter because who knows how much longer he'll be able to aid and assist,' Bearden said, noting that Godeka could lapse back into a delusional state at any time.
"Godeka is accused of shooting four people and holding a fifth hostage Sept. 25, 1996, as he tried to set fire to the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre at the corner of Southwest Salmon Street and Broadway. Police said Godeka walked in the front door carrying a gasoline container and a .45-caliber Ruger semi-automatic handgun. he shot the receptionist in the chest and then shot two people who came downstairs, police said. Another man was shot in the hip. He told police he attacked the church because its members were exerting mind control over him and had ruined his life."
Grady Ward reported that Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin attended his Chapter 7 bankruptcy meeting, in anticipation of receiving a judgment against him.
"Helena Kobrin with a paralegal show up to give me a mini-deposition and to announce that the cult will be challenging the discharge of a potential $11 million plus costs if I am found liable court in the cult litigation against me. She was most interested in the identity and the supposed purposes behind any gifts I have received in the last year. While most of the identities of donors are not recorded and I do not remember them, I did remember a few of the larger ones and submitted them to the 'ho. Of course her intent is to try to figure out how to harass and dissuade such donors from helping critics. She also said that she would be submitting motions to lift the automatic stay so the January litigation can proceed on time and to submit motions objecting to discharge so that they hope they can -- if they prevail at trial -- to continue to harass me in perpetuity."
"She wanted to know who owed our house (my mother-in-law) why I valued the 88 Volvo station wagon at $2800 (150k miles may provide a clue), if my $2000 worth of books had any special collections (nope, just a lot of them), but *most importantly*, she wanted to know -- and asked at least four times -- whether the money gift from Bob Minton was for any *purpose*. No. None of the money gifts have been for anything specific; Bob's was no different. And thank you again, Bob, it really warms the cockles of my heart to be able to answer the 'ho's question in front of a packed courtroom that the best I could figure is that the people who sent help just like me and detest the criminal cult of scientology."
The upcoming Channel 4 documentary on L. Ron Hubbard continues to make news as Scientology harasses the creators of the piece with private investigator Eugene Ingram. Chris Owen reported that the police are now looking for Eugene in the UK.
"I'm told that the police have now issued a warrant for Ingram's arrest. The offence, I presume, is criminal harassment which now - following Michael Howard's infamous Criminal Justice Act - carries a stiff jail sentence. Because we don't have regional jurisdictions in this country, the warrant means that any police force in England and Wales is now required to arrest Ingram on sight. If anyone sees Ingram while he's still in the UK, call Tunbridge Wells police; they'll be interested to hear from you!"
"The Channel 4 documentary on Hubbard (19th Nov, 9pm) has resulted in further sustained bad publicity for Scientology. Following John Travolta's attempt to bully C4 into dropping the programme and the Independent on Sunday's expose of Scientology PI Eugene Ingram's harassment of the film's authors, virtually every newspaper and TV listings guide has selected the programme as their 'pick of the day'."
From the Guardian:
"Having gained instant fame as the film John Travolta doesn't want you to see, Jill Robinson's expose of L. Ron Hubbard, sci-fi fantasist turned self-proclaimed messiah, goes ahead as planned. Of course, accusations of fraudulent behaviour are hardly a recent phenomenon. Hubbard spent half his life on the run from charges of being a gold-digging charlatan - at one point escaping to the high seas, and countering investigation by the US authorities with Operation Snow White, a military-styled exercise to infiltrate high office. What's so damning is the personal recollections by Hubbard's former associates: the man who wanted out when L. Ron's son - under the influence of speed - recounted his past life as a primordial clam. Or the woman who watched aghast as Hubbard, by this time suffering from a paranoia of almost Stalinist proportions, imprisoned a young boy for two days for some minor misdemeanor. Church of the poisoned mind, indeed."
Keith Henson reported that his copyright violation trial will begin on December 2nd.
"It seems that a jury may be required to consider if my alleged postings were 'willful.' I suppose they were not, since to this day I do not believe that exposing criminal activity should subject a person to trade secret and copyright provisions of the law. If they will let me present information about what I am accused of violating copyright on, the jury might find it rather interesting. Besides that, there is a fair chance that the whole thing might have to be done over if the Supreme Court rules that the law requires juries to determine statutory damages. And, of course, the possibility that MoFo will prevail that RTC doesn't even have the standing to sue anyone over this stuff."
Lawrence Wollersheim received a judgment this week that he can begin asset seizure from Scientology to satisfy his $6 million award, unless a $9 million bond is posted.
"Scientology filed an ex parte petition, some time back, to forestall collection of the judgment and the Court's response was a simple, one line, DENIED, response to the petitioners, with a copy to Wollersheim's attorneys. There was no hearing as it was simply a judicial ruling on Scientology's ex parte motion, in the absence of Wollersheim's attorneys.
"Scientology's latest motion: Their lawyers made a new petition for appeal on the grounds that they were denied 'due process'. A hearing is scheduled for 5 Dec 97 and the likelihood of a favorable ruling for Scientology is considered slim to none. This particular court has been involved in 22 motions that Scientology filed and reportedly the court has grown totally impatient and intolerant with their antics. Their ONLY hope at this time is to post the NINE million dollar bond."
The free newspaper LA Weekly carried an article on Scientology's school books this week.
"Johanna Lemlech, a professor of education at USC specializing in curriculum and teaching, calls the books 'awful.' They 'violate everything we know about how children learn, and appropriate pedagogy,' she says. 'In short, these books should be carefully placed in the cylindrical file.'
"For her part, Weinberg dismisses as groundless any fear that the Applied Scholastics materials are a recruiting tool. 'Do people get brought into Scientology' as a result of using these books? she asks. 'Hell no. That's not the aim. They go and learn how to study. They go off and they do their studies. That's what they do.'
"After the interview in her office, she brings in Teresa Posner, who teaches sixth-grade math and science at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills. Shortly after she received her credential, Posner says, she learned about Applied Scholastics from a friend and began using the techniques of study technology. Eventually, she wanted to learn more. 'After studying the Hubbard study techniques for about three years, I wanted to know what other things Hubbard did,' she recalls. She began devouring his science fiction, and his religious writings as well. She was so impressed that she joined the church. 'The principles of Scientology,' she says, 'just made so much sense.'
"Since Weinberg had just emphatically denied that people like Teresa Posner exist, it's hard to believe she set up this interview, right here in the president's office at the international headquarters of Applied Scholastics. Apparently the company representative monitoring the conversation can't believe it either. He quietly slips out of the room. Within minutes, two Applied Scholastics staffers appear, inform Posner of an emergency phone call and escort her away. End of interview."
Scientology is on the agenda of he Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as it begins a three-week meeting on human rights. From Reuters:
"Senior officials of the 55 OSCE states from Europe, Central Asia and North America will discuss religious and media freedoms, prevention of torture and protection of ethnic minorities, particularly Gypsies in Eastern Europe. Among many groups lobbying the meeting are the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, especially concerned over media freedom in Azerbaijan and Armenia, and members of the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology who complain over their treatment in Germany.
"The OSCE, originating in the 1970s as a forum for East-West dialogue, has built a role as a monitor of democracy, human rights, arms control and helping with peacekeeping operations."
"David Little, a member of the U.S. delegation to the conference attended by representatives from 55 countries said the U.S. is concerned about the rise of intolerance toward smaller religious groups. Little quoted an example of bad treatment of the members of the Church of Scientology in Germany, where some of its members lost their jobs because of their affiliation. In Austria, he said, the government is attempting to protect citizens from so-called 'dangerous cults of sects' not included among the 13 officially recognized religious organizations.
"'We raise these criticisms in a constructive spirit,' Little said, adding that all participating states should recommit themselves to the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document dealing with a necessity of promoting a mutual tolerance between believes of different communities."
The St. Petersburg Times carried an article on holiday decorations in downtown Clearwater. The decorating organization is headed by Bennetta Slaughter, a Scientologist and former employer of the late Lisa McPherson.
"Volunteers have been working to decorate trees and outline retail buildings with white lights. They also plan to wrap the city's light poles with candy stripes. The decorations are being installed along Cleveland Street, from East Avenue to Osceola Avenue. A ceremony to switch on the lights is scheduled for just after sundown Nov. 28 at Station Square Park downtown.
"The group, formed last month, is known as the Clearwater Beautification and Development Association. Its leader, Bennetta Slaughter, said it is composed of Scientologists who operate local businesses and want to help retailers develop 'a very vibrant, eclectic, bustling downtown.' 'I just saw it as a way to really liven that up,' she said. As a former coordinator of Scientology's Winter Wonderland display, Slaughter has some experience with pulling off large holiday events. City officials said Slaughter raised $5,000 for the project in a single evening during a merchants' gathering at the Church of Scientology's Clearwater Building.
"Her group's involvement in the holiday project comes as Scientologists are becoming more involved in Clearwater's civic affairs, especially downtown. About 1,000 Scientologists helped in a downtown cleanup before the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. In addition, Slaughter's group has become involved in an effort to commission outdoor murals along the downtown segment of the Pinellas Trail scheduled to open Dec. 6. This week, Slaughter handed the city's Downtown Development Board a check for $10,000 for the murals project. The money was raised by her new business organization."
An anonymous Australian critic reported being visited by Scientologists this week in response to a posting from April of the Xenu leaflet. The Scientologists came prepared with legal documents for him to sign.
"Had a visit (I'm in Perth, Western Australia, about as far away as you can get from all the interesting action) from a couple of $cio's - one local and one from the East (Carmen something ???). It was about a posting of mine in April. Apparently it was about my 'distributing confidential materials'. I think maybe it referred to Roland's Xenu leaflet (is that confidential?)
"[T]hey had had a prepared 'document' for me to sign, avowing that I wouldn't do this or that. It was far too encompassing and I wouldn't sign it of course, but by way of 'ending cycle' for them I agreed not to distribute any confidential materials (is there such a thing anymore?)
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