Presenting Rod Keller's
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review

Volume 6, Issue 35 - December 23 2001

Buffalo Org

The Buffalo News reported on December 15th that the city is still considering tearing down the Buffalo Scientology org to make room for a parking ramp. "Planners want to seize two downtown properties, demolish an office building, then construct a 10-level addition to the city-owned Owen B. Augspurger ramp on West Huron Street, between Pearl and Franklin streets. But opponents say the city shouldn't tear down more buildings, especially occupied structures, for parking. The four-story Hurst Building at 43 W. Huron is owned by the Church of Scientology, which occupies the first two floors, according to attorney William R. Crowe. He said the third floor is used for storage, while the top floor is vacant. Crowe said his client wants to remain in the building, despite a $425,000 purchase offer from the city." Message-ID: 9vkrll$


A press release from Scientology on December 19th denounced a failed bill in the U.S. Congress which would have made mental health treatment equal to other medical treatment for insurance purposes. "The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, (CCHR) an international psychiatric watchdog organization, said that Congress refusing to further fund Mandated Mental Health Parity was a victory for patients rights but a loss to psychiatry's bank balance. Though this bill was defeated, the public and the government should not be fooled by future claims that it is needed or that the costs for mental health parity will be 'low.' The Congressional Budget Office estimates costs at $5.4 billion for the Federal government and $23 billion for the American people over the next 10 years. "During a period of nine years when Aetna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield offered mental health coverage comparable to general medical services their total health care expenditures tripled. For the same period their mental health expenditures increased more than six-fold." Message-ID: 9vss7e$


The St. Petersburg Times reported on December 20th that Scientology has purchased an empty apartment building in Clearwater. "The Church of Scientology has purchased a vacant 13-story high-rise downtown that will house more than 600 new staff members in another step in Scientology's unprecedented expansion in the city. The church last week closed the deal to buy the nearly 2-acre property for $5-million from a nonprofit corporation, BEF Inc., which does business as the Oaks of Clearwater. "Scientology leaders have had their eye on the property, known as Oak Cove, for years. It is within two blocks of the massive Flag Building under construction downtown and across Osceola Avenue from the western facade of the church's Fort Harrison Hotel complex. "In the past, city officials expressed concern about the church's possible acquisition of Oak Cove, considering it a prime piece of property for downtown redevelopment. The high-rise sits on Clearwater's bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor. On Wednesday, City Manager Bill Horne said simply, 'Any kind of residential living in the area has to be construed as a plus for downtown.' "Church officials say a large portion of the property will be on the tax rolls because it will be housing for Scientology staff. The church also plans a $1.5-million renovation, including new air conditioning, carpeting and paint. A small cafeteria inside likely will be used to serve staff members breakfast. The building will house hundreds of the estimated 700 to 1,000 new staff members the church will need when its $50-million Flag Building is completed in 2003. The church, which expects to eventually have at least 2,000 staff members living in Clearwater, has been preparing for the expansion for years." Message-ID: 9vsqv8$

Czech Republic

The BBC reported on December 18th that the Czech Parliament passed a new law to modify requirements for registration of small religions, and to allow major religions to operate more educational programs. "The bill was supported by 121 legislators from the ruling Social Democrat party and the senior opposition Civic Democrats, while Communists, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union deputies were against it, though for different reasons. Church dignitaries and the KDU-CSL are particularly opposed to the separation of charities from the Churches' structure. They are also afraid that the law may result in a limitation of the freedom of religion. President Vaclav Havel vetoed the bill saying that it was at variance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and that it did not allow Churches to establish their own health and social care facilities. Culture Minister Pavel Dostal has dismissed these objections as false. "The law simplifies registration of churches with a low number of believers, stipulating that 300 instead of 10,000 signatures at present will be enough for a church to be registered. The 21 traditional Churches and religious communities will enjoy bigger rights than newly registered entities. They will be allowed to operate in the army and prisons, give religion lessons at state-run schools, establish church schools and perform Church wedding ceremonies. "Jiri Voracek, spokesman for the Church of Scientology, said the law was inappropriate and bad. 'It is a step back, the law is about something entirely different than about what it was to be, that is about registration of small churches,' he told CTK today." Message-ID:

E-Books reported on December 12th that Scientology claims Dianetics is the top selling electronic book. "Last week upon its digital debut, it surged to the top of the Palm e-book charts. The book has seen something of a comeback as some Americans have sought it out to find solace in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. From publisher Bridge Publications may explain some of it: 'Dianetics explains how people's lives can be severely hampered or disabled by incidents of pain or shocking emotion, whether from the trials of everyday living or something as appalling as the terrorist attacks. Detailing how these incidents insidiously act upon the body and affect behavior and thought without the person's knowledge, L. Ron Hubbard identifies them as the source of unwanted emotions and illogical fears and explains why people who are normally rational would do irrational things.'" Message-ID: 9vl9j6$4ee$


Spiegel reported on December 15th that following their victory in a Berlin court, Scientology plans to sue other states to prevent the police from recruiting Scientologists as part of their surveillance activities. "A decision by the Berlin Administrative Court has put the Constitutional Security agents in trouble. After the court's decision that the Berlin homeland security may no longer recruit undercover agents for use against Scientology, the cult intends to sue in other German states. The effect Scientology intends to obtain in principle is to stop infiltration of the organization by security agencies. "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin and Bremen practically never use intelligence methods such as tapping telephones anymore. The federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has also reduced observation measures. The cult is presenting itself more and more as a 'religious community' that 'does not put the Constitutional system into question,' said an internal report of the Interior Minister of the states." Message-ID: Pine.LNX.3.96.1011216190012.118A-100000@darkstar.zippy

Holiday Music

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 22nd that a Scientology choir will participate in a holiday celebration in Glendale. "The Los Angeles Citywide Children's Christian Choir, Church of Scientology Choir of Tujunga and Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles are among 35 musical groups featured in the 42nd annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration from 3 to 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. "Pat Crowder, a member of the Scientology choir, said preparing for the concert is a lot of work, but it's fun too. 'We get to hear a lot of great music and the best groups in the county while waiting to perform,' she said. 'Last year, they asked us to carol outside the pavilion, which was quite a privilege.' Members wear Victorian caroling costumes and range in age from 15 to 60." Message-ID: a0287i$

Reed Slatkin

The Wall Street Journal reported in December 17th that the trustee in the Reed Slatkin fraud investigation has filed a report detailing some of his findings. "Back in 1988, Mr. Slatkin made a startling admission in a handwritten note: 'Instead of working on stocks, I was working on fabricating statements.' This acknowledgment was discovered by lawyers for Mr. Slatkin's clients who are looking into his rise and sudden fall. Revelations about what went wrong are contained in a 2,024-page interim report that was filed Friday in Santa Barbara, Calif., bankruptcy court after being compiled by court-appointed trustee R. Todd Neilson and lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, a firm representing creditors, who are trying to unravel the case and help investors recoup their losses. "Two copies of Mr. Slatkin's handwritten admission of 'fabricating statements' were among some two million pages of documents provided by Mr. Slatkin to the trustee. Attorneys who have seen the written statement say it fits the form of a 'knowledge report,' a document used to report one's ethical violations in the Church of Scientology, of which Mr. Slatkin is an ordained minister. It is unclear, however, whether anyone other than Mr. Slatkin ever saw it. "The report notes that the soaring fortunes of EarthLink played a role in helping Mr. Slatkin attract more investors. In recent years, he picked up such high-profile clients as CNN commentator Greta Van Susteren, actors Anne Archer and Giovanni Ribisi, Pennsylvania's prominent Walton family and 'Spy Game' producer Armyan Bernstein. The report concludes: 'That single successful investment propelled him to a new level of theretofore unattainable credibility.' "The report names 75 investors who reaped the bulk of the $197 million in gains generated by Mr. Slatkin's operation. About a dozen of these investors also served as 'highly paid consultants' to Mr. Slatkin, the report says. The report devotes several pages to Chris Mancuso and Ron Rakow, whose house was raided by the FBI in June in conjunction with Mr. Slaktin's criminal probe. The families of Messrs. Rakow and Mancuso received a total of about $12.8 million in profits from their investments over the years, and both received additional unspecified millions of dollars in 'consulting fees' and partnership arrangements, according to the report." From the Santa Barbara News-Press on December 18th: "The documents show the inner workings of one of the largest alleged Ponzi schemes in history, started in 1986 by Mr. Slatkin from his Goleta office and Hope Ranch estate. The scheme uses later investors' money to pay high returns to early participants, all with the hope of attracting new investors. "Monday's hearing included statements from those who say they were conned by Mr. Slatkin. 'He's a monster,' said Greg Abbot of Colorado, whose family lost millions of dollars. Mr. Slatkin, he said, went so far as to get $7 million from Mr. Abbot's father, who had throat cancer. 'He is a financial predator,' said Michael Azeez of New Jersey, whose family also lost millions of dollars. He described Mr. Slatkin to the courtroom audience as a family friend who 'came to family functions, to bar mitzvahs,' even to his father's funeral, only to steal." From The Times on December 20th: "His name is Reed Slatkin. Until late last year he was a millionaire Internet guru, a friend of Hollywood celebrities and an ordained minister in the Church of Scientology. Now he is the subject of investigations by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. His creditors describe him, according to their mood, as either a 'financial predator' or a 'monster'. "Investors became suspicious early this year and by May Slatkin had filed for bankruptcy amid a storm of lawsuits. So far only $30 million of Slatkin's assets have been recovered, with another $255 million still owed to investors. Slatkin's few remaining friends say he was simply the victim of the stock market crash. His creditors, however, accuse him of organising a classic 'Ponzi scheme', which used money collected from new investors to pay bogus profits to existing investors." The Los Angeles Times reported on December 21st that investors, including some Scientologists, may be asked to return the money paid to them by Slatkin. "Trustee R. Todd Neilson said he is reviewing a list of 75 people who allegedly reaped $151 million in profits from their investment with Slatkin to determine who will receive a letter demanding they return the money. Those who do not comply could face lawsuits, Neilson said. "The list of investors includes CNN legal commentator Greta Van Susteren, actor Peter Coyote, Hollywood producer Armyan Bernstein and HGTV host Susie Coelho - all of whom said they were unaware they were benefiting from a Ponzi scheme. Neilson said he would decide 'in the near future' which investors would be asked to return money under laws that prohibit 'fraudulent conveyance,' or the transfer of money or property to one party when it rightly belongs to another. Neilson said he can legally recapture phony profits that were paid out in the last seven years, when the bulk of the $151 million was distributed. "Even innocent parties usually are required to return money that was fraudulently transferred, Neilson said. A request for repayment doesn't necessarily mean the investors are suspected of fraud or that they knew Slatkin was operating a Ponzi scheme, he said. "Slatkin's investors have paid millions of dollars in taxes on capital gains on profits Slatkin said they earned - profits that turned out to be illusory, said attorney John Coale, Van Susteren's husband and a noted anti-tobacco litigator. The couple invested $2.1 million with Slatkin but received $2.7 million in payments, according to a report Neilson filed Friday with the bankruptcy court. 'I'll fight this thing for 100 years,' said Coale, who said he made the decision to invest the couple's money with Slatkin starting 10 years ago. 'Most of that money went to the IRS.'" Some excerpts from the trustee's report: "On June 13th, the Trustee wrote to Slatkin's counsel identifying and demanding the turnover of valuable paintings estimated to be worth approximately $1 million. After the existing paintings were removed by his representatives, the Trustee determined that the valuable paintings were not among the removed items and appeared to be missing. On July 19, Slatkin informed the Trustee that the missing paintings had been sold the prior summer to Rakow and Del Bianco for $1 million. "The Trustee has reliable information that the valuable paintings were, in fact, removed from Slatkin's residence after Slatkin filed bankruptcy and that Slatkin immediately replaced them with art of insignificant value. The Trustee and the Committee believe that the purported sale of paintings to Rakow and Del Bianco was a sham transaction and that the automatic stay was violated by the post-petition removal of the paintings." "Slatkin's cooperation was generally broad and somewhat uninhibited when dealing with the general assets of the Estate and most investors. However, when the Trustee probed the edges of suspicious financial transactions that involved certain people, Slatkin's 'cooperation' became selective, vague, non-committal, and, in most cases, useless." "The Trustee's investigations reveal that Fortress Technologies has never been successful in marketing its products or made a profit. Current management has informed the Trustee that when Fortress Technologies was formed, its management was dominated by members of the Church of Scientology; one of the non-Church founders, Ben Levy, sued the company and other founders for religious discrimination; the litigation resulted in a $1.8 million settlement in favor of Levy ($600,000 to $800,000 of which is still owed); until Levy receives that money, he is entitled to receive five percent of any financing that is raised by the company "The Trustee has declined to assist Fortress Technologies, efforts to raise capital and has requested that its management attempt to find a purchaser for the Estate's debt and equity interest. Based on the current economic picture for the company, the Trustee does not anticipate any significant return on Slatkin's investment.'" Message-ID: Message-ID: 9vomq1$ Message-ID: 9vsru6$ Message-ID: Message-ID: Message-ID: Message-ID:


The city of Laussane, Switzerland issued a press release on December 18th announcing that Scientology has lost a case concerning distribution of leaflets on public property because the court found they are not actually a church. "The cantonal court of Vaud has ruled in the conflict opposing the authorities of the town of Lausanne and the church of scientology. The church was seeking protection by the court arguing it was religiously harassed by three members of the Lausanne municipality that had restricted leafleting and booth activities of the church on public grounds. "The court has ruled the the church could not seek protection from religious harassment, as it actually is not a church. The judges estimate that 'in Scientology, one does not find neither relationships between men and God, nor superior or sacred principles' and that the services and goods offered by Scientology have 'nothing religious in them.' According to the cantonal court, a religion must be recognized and accepted as such. It is hence not sufficient to design itself as a church or religion to benefit from the protection against religious discrimination." Message-ID: 9von00$

Volunteer Ministers

Scientology announced plans to expand the Volunteer Minister program, mandating that all members sign up and create a web page using a template and approved wording. "ALL SCIENTOLOGIST _MUST_ COMPLETE THE VOLUNTEER MINISTER COURSE BY DECEMBER 31, 2001. THE WORLD NEEDS _YOUR_ HELP - GO INTO YOUR ORG OR MISSION AND ENROLL TODAY. "IMMEDIATELY go into your nearest org or mission and do the Volunteer Minister Course. This contains all the tech you need to know to be effective as a VM. "Once you're trained and certified as a Volunteer Minister, you'll be given a CD-ROM which contains a VM website you can personalize, as well as promotion you can produce to let others know you're available to help. You'll also get a brochure that shows you step-by-step how to get very active as a VM, very fast. "On January 1, 2002, a massive promotional campaign will roll out internationally - billboards, radio ads, print ads, Internet, you name it. And every ad will direct those in your area to the Volunteer Minister Hotline -- who will then direct them right to your personal website." Message-ID: Y5P62LCE37243.8726388889@anonymous.poster

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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.

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