2018-03-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It's Saturday morning and that usually signals another of Terra Cognita's thought-provoking essays. But I am changing things up and have a special surprise for all you Terra fans coming tomorrow and each Sunday for the foreseeable future.Tune in tomorrow to find out...
So, for something of the moment, we turn to Cult Shopping Network news.
Though I am blocked from experiencing the social media amazingness of scientology's online domination, some of our readers are not.
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.
A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.
Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: "We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on."
(L. Ron Hubbard, circa 1971, and some actual SMERSH officers.)
We're getting into round two of SMERSH Madness today, and by now we've heard from some newer readers who have asked us, what the heck are you talking about?
Well, fair enough. We named our "March Madness"-style bracket game after some pretty obscure and very nutty stuff. You see, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was a deeply paranoid control freak who by 1967 had decided the only way he could get away from government interference in the United States and United Kingdom was to take his movement to sea. That year, he took a few hundred of his most dedicated (and mostly younger) followers as he sailed three recently-acquired ships, including his flagship, the Royal Scotman, which later he rechristened as the Apollo.
In January, we told you about Bernie Headley's determination to defeat Scientology's disconnection and be reunited with his daughter, Stephanie. That story helped us figure out which city Stephanie is living in today, which is at least a comfort, Bernie tells us, but now we have even better news: Once again, his cancer appears to be in remission.
It was Bernie's story that inspired us to start our "Disconnection reminder" at the bottom of each post that counts the days that some Scientology families have been split apart. We update it every day, hoping we can begin marking when disconnection is defeated and these families can reunite.
And now, we have an announcement. We're pleased to make known that Bernie Headley will be our Special Guest of Honor at this year's HowdyCon 2017 in Denver June 23-25.
So this is what abdication feels like. Downtown Clearwater, long under the thumb of a well-financed and growing Church of Scientology, is throwing in the towel and will let Scientologists take charge of much of the city core's economic development.
It's a disturbing, astonishing turn of events. Just wait until the world stops fixating on Trump long enough to clue in to Clearwater's surrender. A few newspapers already are paying attention, as this Toronto Star newspaper story from earlier this month notes: "In this down-on-its-heels resort town, one thing is for sure: (Scientology's) an occupying power and avaricious property-gobbling enterprise."
This is just the beginning. Clearwater was long shunned by expanding businesses and other because of the overwhelming presence of Scientology. Now it may win too much attention as the city that couldn't, the downtown that failed to hold its own. Is downtown Clearwater about to become the Scientology version of Vatican City?
During the past decade, Mercer, who is seventy, has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump's rise. Among these efforts was public-opinion research, conducted by Caddell, showing that political conditions in America were increasingly ripe for an outsider candidate to take the White House. Caddell told me that Mercer "is a libertarian—he despises the Republican establishment," and added, "He thinks that the leaders are corrupt crooks, and that they've ruined the country."
Trump greeted Caddell warmly in North Charleston, and after giving a speech he conferred privately with him, in an area reserved for V.I.P.s and for White House officials, including Stephen Bannon, the President's top strategist, and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. Caddell is well known to this inner circle. He first met Trump in the eighties. ("People said he was just a clown," Caddell said. "But I've learned that you should always pay attention to successful 'clowns.' ") Caddell shared the research he did for Mercer with Trump and others in the campaign, including Bannon, with whom he has partnered on numerous projects.
My Scientology Movie isn't exactly narrative, but it isn't a straight documentary, either. The 2015 film, released this month in the U.S. and available now on Amazon Prime, mixes interviews with former members and dramatic reenactments to illustrate the alleged abuses they suffered at the hands of the church. "The structure was a function of the fact that we couldn't get access to the subject," writer Louis Theroux tells Rolling Stone, referring to the church's notoriously tight lips. "It became clear that we needed to take a different approach."
Theroux and his co-writer and director John Dower sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss this method, as well as what they learned about the church by making the film. "The thing that struck me most was just how humorless they are," says Dower. "The Scientologists I came across appeared to have no sense of humor, or irony."
But, they joke, perhaps church leader David Miscavige is really a closet fan of Theroux, who is known for his BBC documentary series Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend where he investigates misunderstood communities and subcultures. "That guy was a lot better when he did the one on the porn industry," jokes Theroux, in a mock-Miscavige voice. "That was a good episode. Now this stuff's just drivel."
Two weeks after the presidential election, white nationalist Richard Spencer held forth on a cable news show about how white people built America. "White people ultimately don't need other races in order to succeed," he told the audience of the black-oriented program, NewsOne Now.
The exchange grew heated as host Roland Martin questioned Spencer's rhetoric: Didn't slaves help build America? Wasn't the nation's 19th-century economic boom propelled by the slave labor that produced the world's cotton on Southern plantations?
America's rise was "not through black people" and "has nothing to do with slavery," Spencer retorted. "White people could have figured out another way to pick cotton," he said. "We do it now."
2016-03-17, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
One of the most common and powerful recruiting methods Scientology uses is the "free personality test." This is a 200-question informal examination given at Scientology centers. One answers various questions with Yes, Maybe or No and gets a graph or profile which plot various personality traits on a scale from -100 to 100.
Scientologists claim that the test was developed scientifically and is not what they think of you, but what you think of yourself. Free test evaluations are supposed to reveal character traits and emotional or psychological problems a person may be having which Scientology then offers its services to cure.
What is this test really? Where does it come from, how is it used and does it have any real value? Let's take a look at this in depth and see what we find.
Another Tony Ortega exclusive: Ron Miscavige Sr., father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, is set to release his book Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me. Release date is May 3, 2016.
Published by St. Martin's, Ron Sr.'s long-awaited book is sure to be a sensation. Assisted by Dan Koon, one of the best and smartest editors a writer in these circles could hope for, news of the book's impending release went viral after Tony Ortega broke the story.
We at the Scientology Money Project salute Ron Miscavige Sr. for having the courage to write this book and look forward to reading it.
The Church of Scientology's innermost and darkest secrets are revealed by Karen de la Carriere, former wife of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch, who has faced harassment from the Church since leaving in 2010. Carriere describes how the Church cut her off from her son and hid his death from her. She details the church's exploitation of children and explains why Scientology celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta turn a blind eye to the Church's inhuman treatment of its members. Finally, we look at the 2008Anonymous protest against the practices of the Church and the sadism of Scientology leader David Miscavige, in this uncensored Media Mayhem interview hosted by Allison Hope Weiner.
Karen de la Carriere left the Church of Scientology in 2010 after being in it for 35 years. She was dubbed the "Queen of Scientology" as she was married to its President, Heber Jentzsch and rubbed shoulders with the likes of John Travolta. Karen went from being in the top ranks within the organization to being called a "Suppressive Person". Karen and her husband had one child, son Alexander Jentzsch who lost his life two years ago in 2012. Reports say 27-year-old Alexander died after an accident. Ms. de la Carriere said at the time she had not seen her son for 2 years, because she was shunned from him after it was revealed she had been criticizing the Church. She found out of his death through a Facebook posting.
Chris Shelton has a nice treat for us today. He took a very detailed look at the history and use of Scientology's "Oxford Capacity Analysis," the fancy (and fraudulent) name for its famous personality test.
For most people, Scientology's personality test is the first encounter they have with the organization, as they're pulled in off the street with the prospect of learning more about themselves. But what is the test based on? And what does it measure?
Chris goes back to Scientology's early years to explain the development of the test and how it became such a prominent part of Scientology's come-on. And his debunking of its value is really quite entertaining.
A PLAN to open a Church of Scientology bookshop in East Grinstead is "not being pursued at this time" according to a spokesman for the church.
The religious group had been looking into opening a store in the town and were believed to be the proposed tenants for the former Blockbuster store on London Road, at which an "under offer" sign appeared over the past could of weeks.
The explosion of interest in Alex Gibney's documentary Going Clear has brought the role played by Scientology's celebrity flag-bearers back into focus.
It prompted Sea Org veteran John Duignan to send Infinite Complacency this extract from his latest book project.
John Duignan © Lisa Tiffany I suppose I should thank him. It was Tom Cruise, after all, who finally convinced me to walk away from Scientology.
We're back with more documents that have been released recently by the FDA that illuminate Scientology's early years. Thanks to a researcher who is a friend to the Underground Bunker and her work with the Muckrock website, we have yet more investigative records that have never before been online.
In this case, we're looking at an early Dianeticist and Scientologist who was among the first to be targeted by the "ethics" procedures that L. Ron Hubbard put into place in 1965 as he became more concerned about splinter groups. After 1965, Hubbard and Scientology became much more openly about control and interrogation, declaring enemies "suppressive" and subjecting former members and critics to "Fair Game."
Before he became subjected to all that, however, Charles Berner (pictured) had been one of L. Ron Hubbard's most enthusiastic early followers. From 1954 to 1957, he was even president of the Church of Scientology of California, the "mother church" of the organization. According to some oldtimers, Berner and his wife, Ava, were responsible for coming up with the concepts of "Study Tech" which Hubbard later co-opted as his own. By 1965, Hubbard "declared" Berner, and made him the church's first "enemy number one."
2015-03-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
By a Special Correspondent
This image was posted by a sharp-eyed commenter over on Tony Ortega's blog. It shows a full listing of Scientology Portlands statistics for a series of weeks leading up to March 13th.
Scientology goes to incredible extremes to hide the actual numbers associated with its various organizations and always publishes "graphs" that are just meaningless squiggles devoid of any dates or numbers.
Scientology: Enough is Enough http://exscientologistsireland.org/
Ex-members of the Cult of Scientology speak out against its fraud and abuse at a Dublin conference.
Victoria Britton is the mother of Kyle Brennan (20) who died tragically on the evening of February 16, 2007 in the Clearwater, Florida, apartment of his Scientologist father, Tom Brennan. She makes it her mission to ensure her son's passing is not forgotten as the circumstances surrounding his death were, and remain, highly suspicious. She has written extensively about his passing at The Truth for Kyle Brennan.
As the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, continue to fight allegations that they harass former members, yet another ex-Scientologist has come forward to describe the "abuse" she says she suffered after deciding to leave the Church.
Scientologist actor Jason Lee's ex-wife, model Carmen Llywelyn, tells Radar exclusively, "The whole Scientology thing has been sort of just this thing that I can't shake off. It's really messy." She even claims, "The Church of Scientology harassed me."
If you watch Mike Rinder's blog carefully, you can see Scientology imploding on almost a daily basis. Over the last few years, we've also provided plenty of evidence that Scientology is shrinking as it stumbles from one crisis to another.
But what's been fascinating to watch is that as many longtime members flee, and as the new buildings turn out to be as empty as the old ones, there's still one thing that Scientology never seems to run out of...
This is the Scientology School where Tom Cruise would love to send daughter Suri - and it is a breeding ground for its Sea Org sect.
The Delphian is an exclusive $42,000-a-year school, which teaches pupils about the principles of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's teaching.
Although the school educates on traditional subjects like Mathematics and English, it also has an different side from the norm where there's 'isolation rooms' and an 'ethics room'.
The private school, which is based just outside the town of Sheridan, in Oregon, teaches children from first to twelfth grade, and Tom probably envisages Suri going there now that she's about to turn eight years old in April, which enables her to become a full-time boarder.
2014-03-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Mike Rinder posted an informative piece today called The Black Bag Department. In it he exposes the identity of some key Scientology 'professional' operatives used to terrorize and intimidate perceived enemies as well as some of their tactics. Mike's article reminded me of a couple other important names that need to be added to the roster.
For many years in the Washington D.C. area Scientology's go-to gumshoe has been Harry Gossett. Gossett, like Ingram, has apparently been fond of the Scientology bonuses available when he impersonates an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, see link.
Another important operative historically has been John J. (aka J.J.) Gaw of Moreno Valley, California. Gaw was responsible for the original electronic and physical surveillance set up on Pat Broeker in the late eighties and early nineties. Mr. Gaw also handled the sensitive assignment of investigating the personal lives of IRS agents, flanking the quest to attain tax exemption for Scientology.
2014-03-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Marty has been doing a good job of exposing the unalterable policies of the church concerning dealing with perceived enemies.
One aspect not much discussed is who are the "outside professionals" hired to do the dirty work.
And while there is a lot that is done by Sea Org OSA staff, Class V (local DSAs like Mark Warburg and John Carmichael) and public Scientologists (John Allender, Ed Bryan and Co) there is work that requires specific skills, including licenses to carry and/or needs more distance from "the church" to afford a measure of plausible deniability.
We hear that soon, NBC's Rock Center is going to do yet another hard-hitting episode about Scientology and its drug rehab network, Narconon.
That will be four big programs by the NBC show in the last year: One on ex-church executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, an initial show about deaths at the Narconon facility in Oklahoma, the Paul Haggis/Lawrence Wright special, and now another look at Narconon's woes. In the meantime, Disney-owned ABC can't seem to get out of the gate. As we've pointed out before, ABC's 20/20 and Nightline have recorded hours and hours of footage for shows that just end up getting spiked by the network's lily-livered attorneys. (From CBS, all we hear are crickets.)
But now ABC's news division is really going to have a hard time living down the shame, as the network finally has taken a swing at Scientology and its leader David Miscavige — through its long-running soap opera, General Hospital.
A new book by Jenna Miscavige Hill, a former member and outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology, reveals secrets and details the tough conditions for child members of the religious order. But the group's spokesperson lambasted the book, calling the claims false.
Released in February, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape," written by Miscavige Hill, the estranged niece of powerful church leader David Miscavige, claims the church-run "Ranch" in the desert near San Jacinto, Calif. was little more than a child labor camp with deplorable conditions.
"The conditions we worked under would have been tough for a grown man, and yet any complaints, backflashing (Scientology term for talking back), any kind of questioning was instantly met with disciplinary action," she said.
2012-03-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Independent ScientologistsJim Logan and Sinar Parman recently took a trip to David Miscavige's Scientology Inc Headquarters near HemetCalifornia. Here is Jim's report.
I went back to Gold. I was last there in October 1992. It appeared bigger in memory than it was yesterday. Yesterday it seemed like the buildings had actually shrunk. There was "more" of the place, with the Castle, the Berthing buildings (I couldn't see theRTCBuildingor the grotesque Bonnyview from the roadside), but even these seemed to physically be withdrawn, actually shrinking back. Not there. It was just something I noticed even in the real excitement I felt at returning to this place. It was a palpable perception of even the building structures themselves pulling back and getting a smaller space. Of course, I've had a lot of auditing in the past few years too, plus some really extensive study so maybe my viewpoint has shifted a bit J
I had the intention of returning there for the salutary act of Confront, Reach and Withdraw on the spaces that I was forbidden to be in, but, prior to that prohibition, had put so much of my own life and free theta, and my literal blood, sweat and tears, into creating.
2012-03-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Enturbulation on a previous St. Pat's Day Note: We'll have a special St. Patrick's Day report at 1pm this afternoon. Please come back for that after you check out these comments of the week!
We went to Mecca and back this week -- Scientology's Mecca that is, the town of Clearwater, Florida to celebrate L. Ron Hubbard's 101st birthday. And did we have a hip, hip, hooray time.
But now we're back in the underground bunker, bolstering ourselves for massive amounts of drinking tonight to celebrate the fact that Ireland has the sense to require its body-thetan-removal businesses to report their income. (More about that later today.)
2012-03-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Nearly a decade ago, the Dublin mission had to settle out of court with a woman named Mary Johnston who sued the church, saying that its practices had harmed her. To this day, the mission there is still paying off interest-free, foreign loans that it needed to pay that settlement, which was estimated at €2 million.
And today, with such reduced revenue, the balance on those loans has actually gone up: "The outstanding amount on the loans increased during 2010 from €370,304 to €376,383," Deegan writes.
But Griffiths tells me that money woes aren't the Dublin mission's only problem. At this point, he says, the church has hardly anyone left.
2011-03-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Follow up to last post, Truth Revealed about OT VIII.
Lest there be any future mistaking as to who personally laid in the implant, please review the words below. They were penned by David Miscavige for his closing speech on "Org Night" during the year 2000Maiden Voyage aboard the Freewinds.
Because, I have recently been reviewing many of your folders, particularly those who enrolled on New OT VII, or New OT VII Expanded, soon after the release of the Golden Age of Tech for OT's.
2010-03-17, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
I heard a heartbreaking story the other day, one that demonstrates both the arrogance of the Church of Scientology and their growing paranoia.
It concerns a prominent Scientologist, let's call him Dr. X. Dr X and his wife have been Scientologists in good standing for many years. While not super-rich, Dr. X has given the Church hundreds of thousands of dollars, for his own Bridge, his wife's Bridge, and large contributions to the IAS and the Superpower Building.
His wife completed OT VIII, then was told she was "not Clear" and ordered by the C/S to redo her Bridge from the ground up. This is par for the course with OT VIIIs by the way (see "Messin' with the VIIIs," Parts I and II). And of course as soon as this pronouncement was made, a team of Reges – reportedly four people – descended on Dr. X to get the money for this "program." Dr. X complied, giving them over $100,000. His wife then began auditing on NED. As one might expect, it did not go well. She ran badly on NED, but they just kept grinding away. Mrs. X began to doubt the program, doubt her C/S and doubt Scientology. She ended up in Ethics.
For the past half-decade, Scientology has responded to withering attacks with a variety of aggressive and secretive tactics, drawing comparisons to the CIA and FBI. After a recent report alleging the use of violence, however, the church has responded by hiring an 'independent' panel of editors and journalists to produce a 20-page assessment of the report.
We are starting with the second push of our News Channel 3 investigation "Scientology vs. Anonymous" Thursday night at 11 on KESQ.
Wednesday night, we will have the first half of our interview with former Scientology marketing director Jeff Hawkins. We will have the second half of Hawkins' interview Thursday night at 11.
On the heels of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard's birthday, about 75 protestors from the group known as "Anonymous" hit the streets of Clearwater Saturday afternoon, protesting in front of Scientology's Clearwater headquarters, just a few days after a judge rejected the church's petition for a restraining order.
The protest was peaceful. Participants simply gathered near the center on Crestwood Street and Glenwood Street for about four hours. Derrick speculated on the origin of the protests.
"In my opinion, these guys are rent-a-mob. We will follow the money trail and find out where it leads us," Derrick said. "I suspect that the pharmaceuticals are behind these protests due to our opposition to the overuse of prescription drugs such as Prozac and diabetic drugs."
Chief Terrell Bolton, the man in charge of the officers/swat brigade at the AtlantaAnonymous protests on Saturday has a habit of shady behavior. Not only were the officers at yesterday's protest made to crack down on those peacefully protesting - but they also asked to use an excessive amount of force in harassing motorists driving by the protest who honked their horn.
After an embarrassing string of high-profile defection and leaked videos, Scientology is under attack from a faceless cabal of online activists. Has America's most controversial religion finally met its match?
2008-03-17, David Simpson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
DeKalb County police charged five people with violating a county ordinance at a weekend protest outside the Georgia Church of Scientology in Dunwoody.
The five were charged under an ordinance covering people who cause "hazardous" or "offensive" conditions. Two were arrested for using bullhorns while stepping in and out of Mount Vernon Road during the Saturday protest, police spokeswoman Keisha Williams said.
Led by the group Anonymous and their ongoing campaign against the Church of Scientology, Project Chanology, protesters gathered outside the church's Toronto headquarters on Sunday to mark Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's birthday. It was the second such worldwide protest in just over a month; the last protest-a surprisingly massive one-took place on February 10th.
On Thursday Circuit Judge Douglas Baird turned down the second of two requests to prevent protesters approaching within 500ft (150m) of church buildings on March 15, the birthday of church founder L. Ron Hubbard. The church used laws more commonly applied in cases of domestic abuse. Its petition failed because it was unable to establish a credible list of named individuals associated with earlier protests, or demonstrate that anybody it complained of posed a threat.
Despite reports she distributed the Scientology book "The Way to Happiness" to N.Y. school kids, Simmons' reps also denied her involvement.
But while celebs are distancing themselves from the cultlike religion, Radar's blistering six-page expose of the church says leaders are more concerned by the dissension of its former members, namely the shadowy network of ex-Scientologists known as "Anonymous."
The group is credited with leaking the now-infamous recruiting tape of Cruise laughing maniacally (in an equally creepy turtleneck). The pranksters/hackers also managed to crash the church's Web site for three days and post confidential Scientololgy documents and lectures on YouTube.
The geek-culture destination Slashdot.org said on Friday that it deleted a post in response to legal threats from the Church of Scientology.
Scientology's notoriously litigious team of attack attorneys successfully pressured the site's editors into erasing a discussion board message, which allegedly contained copyrighted material.