In June, after months of negotiations with city staff, the Church of Scientology bought a vacant lot on the edge of downtown for the purpose of trading it for three small city-owned parcels.
Now it's likely Scientology will keep control of what downtown's Community Redevelopment Agency director calls "a key acquisition piece" for the city.
The City Council on Thursday killed the deal with Scientology when no council member seconded a motion to declare the three city-owned properties surplus. Because they did not take that step, the contract for the land swap did not even go to a vote as scheduled.
The photography website PetaPixel is reporting that Thorsten von Overgaard, a wealthy Danish photographer, got into hot water with his fellow camera enthusiasts when he offered super-luxury camera bags made not only of alligator skin but also elephant hide.
The 53-year-old Overgaard, known for his photography writing and workshops, sells luxury camera bags and bespoke suitcases through a partnership with Italian luxury designer Matteo Perin. The bags typically cost from $6,000 to $40,000 depending on the skin used, with calf being on the lower end and crocodile on the high end. But what caught the eye of some photographers was the elephant skin bag that was listed on the page.
We know Overgaard well because he's a longtime Scientologist who, in 2016, married Joy Villa, the ever-ambitious Scientology celebrity who zoomed to fame for wearing a pro-Trump dress at the 2017 Grammy Awards red carpet and then worked her way into the White House. At one point, the president himself endorsed Joy's intention to run for Congress, but after a falling out with her manager over tensions between her Scientology obligations and her conservative political ambitions, she has lost much of the momentum she had with Trump followers.
2018-04-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
RB has had some technical difficulties this week. Here is an oldie but goodie. Someone the other day was asking about "Timmy"- this has one of my all-time favorite lines from RB about farting during a sec-check...
Some of the most important first hand history of the final weeks and months of L. Ron Hubbard's life, gathered by Lawrence Wright's must read "Going Clear..." book, the Kindle Enhanced edition, highly recommended for the unparalleled research and details Lawrence Wright gathers in his all time best book on Scientology.
The Wright interview of Sarge is chock full of major significant details experts of Hubbard and what all Scientologists ought to have been informed about.
Can't thank Lawrence Wright enough for his book.
Hubbard ordered a kind of suicide Emeter, to blow LRH's unhandled "body-thetan" off LRH's body. Hubbard said he'd failed.
Lawrence Wright's vital information interview which all Scientologists need to absorb.
From the "Going Clear...." DVD Alex Gibney movie.
Allison Mack has entered a not guilty please to federal charges which stem from fher alleged role in the sex slave cult Nxivm.
The Smallville actress was picked up by the FBI in Albany earlier this week and later arraigned in a Brooklyn federal court after a grand jury heard testimony from two former members of the cult.
Those women alleged that Mack would lure young ladies into joining the cult and then demand they turn over 'collateral' such as compromising photos or their personal assets.
2017-04-20, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hi, my name is Chris Shelton and I am a cult survivor and now advocate against destructive cults. I was involved for decades with the Church of Scientology but I've found since leaving that group four years ago that high control groups which engage in undue influence or cohersive persuasion have a lot in common. If you're watching this, you may know someone who is in one of these groups and want to know what you should and shouldn't do to help them see the error of their ways and get them out of that group. Now I'm not a trained psychologist or psychotherapist, but I have helped people escape from Scientology and I've helped some others recover. Let's go over some things and see if some of what I've learned can help you too.
First off, there are two things we need to go over that are very important. People are free to believe whatever they want and as long as they aren't breaking the law, they can act how they want. It's not your place to take control of anyone else's life or how they live it. Tolerance and respect are not just words, but are shown through actions and if you are going to help someone out of a destructive cult, you have to demonstrate these things to them.
People who join cults aren't Martians. They have simply adopted a different and extreme belief system which can lead to extreme and alarming actions which may not be in their best interest. Over time, these beliefs and ideas can re-shape the person's personality to something quite different from the person they were before and more like the cult leader and its doctrine. But don't ever forget they are people too with the same range of thoughts and emotions as anyone else.
(Hubbard in Queens, NY in 1973, photo by Jim Dincalci)
It's a big day for Clearwater, Florida as its city council votes tonight whether to purchase for $4.25 million a 1.4-acre parcel of land that's key to its redevelopment plans downtown, and to defy the Church of Scientology, whose leader David Miscavige has said he's willing to pay $15 million for the same empty lot.
Tonight's vote will be the latest test of the Gulf Coast town's resolve in the 42 years since Scientology literally invaded the city to make it a permanent base of operations. Since then, Scientology has taken over more and more properties downtown, turning it into a creepy ghost town while other nearby Tampa Bay communities have thrived.
CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to buy a vacant but high-profile downtown lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, intercepting a crucial piece of land the Church of Scientology said it needed for its campus.
A packed auditorium at City Hall greeted the 5-0 decision with applause.
Scientology leader David Miscavige had offered to bankroll a multi-million dollar revitalization of downtown if the city stepped aside and allowed the church to buy the lot, which borders its 13-story Oak Cove religious retreat. He pitched the idea last week to a select group of downtown stakeholders with help from Scientology celebrities like John Travolta, and was willing to pay more than three times what the city was offering.
W5 looked into allegations against the controversial Church of Scientology that had just been established in Toronto. In the US it was already under investigation for records about its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Ten years after this profile, the Toronto offices of Scientology were raided in an investigation which eventually led to the conviction of a handful of Church members for a 'Breach of Public Trust'.
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(Ron Miscavige and his twin children, David and Denise)
Whitney Covington was arrested Friday night by police in Clearwater, Florida, and booked into the Pinellas County jail on misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia.
It surprised no one who knew her.
2016-04-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is an interesting document sent to me by an old friend. It concerns the handling of "PTS Type 3's" or "the insane." These are people that according to the scientology definition are being negatively effected by "apparent SP's" all over the world, or even ghosts and demons. In scientology someone "going Type 3" means having a psychotic break.
I am sure this issue is otherwise available on the internet and I am not "revealing" it for the first time. Though it is certainly the first time it has appeared on this blog. And I havent seen it for 20 years or more.
I recall reading it when I was in the church — I do not doubt its authenticity. And not just because I remember it, but more importantly because what it says is exactly how things are done in scientology. And it clearly expresses the attitude Sea Org members have towards those who are "Type 3."
2015-04-20, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The fifth installment of my question-and-answer video show, where I take up questions subscribers and commenters have asked me in my videos and answer them as best I can. Questions in this video:
(1) What an excellent video - I would urge anyone still in to watch it - there can be no harm in listening to someone who has actually been a Scientologist for many years give his perspective on the church. What I always find hard to understand is how any Scientologist can accept being told not to watch, listen or read things that may challenge Scientology doctrine. Surely this is all part of gaining personal freedom, which is what Scientology is supposed to be about. How does any Scientologist reconcile that, as a member? I ask because when I did the Dianetics course, I got downgraded for thinking for myself. I was told only to write what it said in the book. I instantly stopped doing any more courses because I realized that I was therefore not going to be allowed to be self-determined, and I saw this as hypocrisy because I was told Scientology was all about making you more self determined.
(2) Aaaand I thought of another question/issue - non CO$-related - that I'd love to hear you tackle. In the pagan/Earth-centered traditions, there's been some influx of some truly stupid, mentally damaging ideas lately, such as the "Law of Attraction" (where everything - good or bad - that happens to you is due to the "vibrations" of your thoughts) and the even more sickening conceit that we choose our parents in some "between life" station - which is a direct slap in the face to anybody born into adverse circumstances. Care to tackle the wooly thinking of the New Age Sheeple? my simple, tree-hugging religion is going down the toilet due to these infectious ideas...
We've been hearing some brief segments of the police interviews of the Scientology spies who were arrested in Wisconsin in 2013. Now, we have the full interrogations of Dwyane and Daniel Powell, who were being paid $10,000 a week to stalk Ron Miscavige Sr by his son, Scientology leader David Miscavige.
Ron escaped from Scientology's secretive International Base in 2012 and he went to Virginia to stay with his son Ronnie Jr. Then he moved to Wisconsin to be closer to the family of his wife, Becky. He had no idea he was being surveilled so closely by his son's private eyes.
Then, in 2013, the Powells were stopped by police and they were found to be in possession of an illegal silencer, a PVC tube for a rifle that was part of a considerable arsenal in their vehicle.
2015-04-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Apparently they freaked out over the posting about Nashville "ideal" org on Saturday.
Here is a new shot taken by one of our Special Correspondents today showing a cop stationed in front of the org — and there was a second one in the parking lot not visible in this frame. Two police officers in the parking lot.
They are definitely not there for crowd control on Monday afternoon. Same number of cars in the parking lot today as when I visited on Friday and the VM van has not moved.
Because of zoning restrictions, the only way Narconon can operate Trout Run as a rehab facility is to get it listed on the county historical register. The property's current zoning designation, resource conservation, doesn't permit a group home or medical use, while the historical designation does. So Narconon hired a consultant to write a history of the 40-acre site, noting that President Herbert Hoover visited in the late 1920s and "reeled in a fine one-and-one-half pound trout."
When the council votes on Tuesday, it's only deciding whether the site should be labeled historic. That's forced opponents, many of whom work in drug counseling and believe the program poses a danger to addicts, to become amateur historians in an effort to prove Trout Run is not significant.
A Church of Scientology-backed organization is facing a bizarre land use battle over its plans to turn a patch of secluded in woods near the presidential retreat Camp David into a drug rehab center.
Lawyers hired by drug rehab network Narcocon have argued that Trout Run, a property in Frederick County, Maryland, has historic significance because President Herbert Hoover once caught a fish at the site.
Opponents view the proposed designation as a trick to circumvent current zoning laws for the 40-acre plot of land and create a drug rehabilitation program that some call dangerous.
Here at the Underground Bunker we've brought you many stories of "disconnection," the toxic Scientology policy that rips families apart. But not every order to disconnect involves the kind of family heartbreak that we saw with Sara Goldberg, for example, in Alex Gibney's film Going Clear.
When Scientology orders people to cut off ties, it can have consequences not only for families but for close friends and in unexpected ways.
Zac Hopkins (pictured) was a third-generation Scientologist. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended Scientology private schools until, he says, at about the age of 12, he told his parents that he demanded they put him in public school.
A hard-hitting Scientology documentary faces the axe from UK TV screens because of Northern Ireland's archaic libel laws.
Controversial HBO expose Going Clear makes allegations of abusive practices at the religion's US headquarters.
It was due to air in the UK earlier this month to coincide with its American release.
But it has emerged the programme was pulled by Sky because of fears it could face legal action under our stricter libel legislation.
The 40-acre property in Thurmont, Md. needs to be classified as a historic site for owner Social Betterment Properties to move forward with their plans.
"The zoning administrator for Frederick County determined that if it were found to be historic it would qualify for what's called a special exception, which would allow them to use it as a drug rehabilitation facility," said Bruce Dean, the land use attorney representing the project.
Narconon, the drug treatment program affiliated with the controversial Church of Scientology, has some residents concerned about the program's methods and teachings, but that's not what the County Council is being asked to consider. The council won't need to approve the center's purpose, but instead will decide whether the site should be labeled historic. Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower have all visited the property, but opponents argue that's not enough to receive the historic designation.
Hey kids, happy Easter Sunday! We have a selection of treats for you to hunt down this morning, and we're starting off with another surprising tax document that shows the astounding wealth of the Church of Scientology!
Jeffrey Augustine has been helping us find these gems, and he tells us this one is hot off the presses — it's the 2012 return by the Church of Scientology International, the mother church as it were. This is again a 990-T form, which reflects "unrelated business income" that since 2006 even churches have been required to submit if they're taking in money unrelated to their main purpose. We're less interested in the relatively small amounts of revenue listed on these documents than we are a single figure that appears on the first page — the entity's "book value." This is an estimate based on CSI's total assets, including real estate.
And for 2012, it's a seriously big number: $846,314,618
2014-04-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
If you listen to any of the statements that emanate from the bubble, whether from the mouth of Dear Leader himself, or other minions, they shout from the rooftops how the "ideal orgs" are "the turning point in the universe" and "the salvation of this sector" and are "bringing about planetary clearing."
Of course, everyone outside the bubble knows its garbage, but it isnt often we get this sort of report from INSIDE an "ideal org."
And not just ANY ideal org, but the much ballyhooed "ideal org" in the "first Scientology city" — Portland. You will recall Dear Leader yanked their chain ribbon last year with grand announcements about how important THIS ideal org is in the Scientology world. They pretended thousands showed up for the ceremony and covered them up with potted plants and sicced mad dogs on Mark Bunker to prevent him recording the words of the Great Man.
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He now has a new edition of the book out, and on Saturdays he's helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
Jon, what were L. Ron Hubbard's intentions regarding Rhodesia, the country today called Zimbabwe? Did he really think he had a chance of taking it over to begin his worldwide conquest of the planet?
JON: By the mid-1960s, Hubbard was desperate to find a "safe point" — a country that would accept him, and from which he could "invade the territory of SMERSH [the Russian intelligence agency, made famous in the James Bond novels], run it better, make tons of money in it, to purify the mental health field," and "contact and make friends with and organize all minority groups until we have the biggest group on the planet. By ... making friends with the biggest enemies of the West, we will be able to avert Fascism now taking over in the West," as he explained in a directive ( Flag Order 1890, 26 March 1969, Confidential — Zones of Action).
2013-04-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This "success"/ IAS promo piece/COB PR release was recently sent to me.
While I am sure Kathy Feshbach had wins, there is a huge elephant sitting in the middle of her gushing wonderment at the brilliance of COB.
How can an OT VIII, Class VIII "Full Golden Age of Knowledge" completion conclude that the most valuable thing for her to do is be a full time reg for the IAS? I guarantee you in everything she studied there was not A SINGLE MENTION of the IAS. I guarantee you also that she missed a whole lot of references to the value of auditors and auditing. Somehow she took away from a FULL (ALL books, ALL lectures — Congresses, Briefing Course, ACCs, Class VIII lectures and anything else in between, ALL HCOBs and PABs) study of everything LRH ever said or wrote on the tech that she should be a reg ("disseminator" is her euphemism) for a completely out exchange, sham group ("COB's strategy of the IAS") that delivers NO Scientology services.
2012-04-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Sunday evening, news began to leak that one of Love's numerous complaints about the treatment center to Canadian authorities was paying off: Quebec health officials ordered the facility closed immediately, even as Narconon appeals the government's finding that it failed miserably in an attempt to get certification for its unscientific methods of treating drug addiction.
Since the news broke, Love has been talking to Canadian journalists as they scrambled to get details on the sudden closing, which came with no advance public word from health officials.
Perhaps the lowest point in David Love's "treatment" for drug addiction at Narconon Trois Rivières was the five-hour sauna on his 25th day of fivehour saunas.
Being forced to yell at an ashtray for hours on end - "Stand up, ashtray!" "Thank you." "Sit back down, ashtray!" - also left him confused and frustrated. But it was when Love realized that the rehab centre inspired by the teachings of Scientology was actually putting vulnerable addicts' health at risk - and that he had become a part of the machinery - that he decided to get out.
A recent YouTube video features Ed Dearborn, executive director of the Orange County Scientology "org", touting the merits of the organization's Narconon program.
Dearborn says Scientology has been "collaborating with the Santa Ana Police Department on our anti-drug education program, which has been very well accepted by the police departments, particularly Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and a few others."
2012-04-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
by Andy Porter
For 20 years I was an active member of the Church of Scientology, first as a public person taking courses, then as a staff member and finally as an international missionary. My trajectory through the church traces a dual path of increasing awareness and improvement while at the same time trying not to notice the things that were wrong. The problem was that the more aware I became the harder it was to ignore what wasn't right.
My story is not heroic. I made and accepted excuses for the "bad" parts of the Church. In many cases I perpetrated wrongnesses on others, led witch hunts and used force and threats to get compliance. In the end it was only when I, personally, had been repeatedly betrayed that I was prompted to take action.
2011-04-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Where the baby blue raid t-shirts idea came from
Sorry for the two day interruption of the ongoing series about the King of Squirrels, in his own words. If you haven't already divined the reason for Miscavige coming unglued and sending OTAs to their slaughter in Corpus Christi, I don't think there will be any mistaking it as this series rolls out. You see, as Miscavige's grip weakens his bunker has developed more leaks than Nixon's White House. And David Miscavige and all the OSA weaklings he has left are powerless to stop them from continuing.
Thus, you are able to see very clearly a number of frauds that have been perpetrated on the public for some time now, and you can see in Miscavige's own words that he is the source of them. You can also see how he has co-opted the minds of the Opinion Leader public, OT VIIIs or OT Ambassadors (also referred to as OTAs), as an advance action to get Scientology public to stand for the most off-policy, out-tech mass squirreling imaginable.
What happens if you leave the official Church of Scientology, but remain an independent, practicing Scientologist? As apostate Marty Rathbun learned the other day, a group of bearded men with cameras attached to their heads stalks you. Seriously.
2011-04-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The saga of Marty Rathbun just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
At one time, Rathbun was one of the highest ranking members of Scientology, privy to its innermost secrets, a man who "audited" (counseled) members as important as Tom Cruise, and a key figure in the organization's efforts to fend off curious reporters.
Since Rathbun "blew" a few years ago (Scientology's word for defecting), it's been fascinating to watch him become the organization's biggest problem.
That was never more clear than this week, when Scientology sent a bizarre goon squad to intimidate Rathbun at his Corpus Christi home.
After the jump: We are from Scientology, and we have cameras attached to our heads!
2010-04-20, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
You can always continue to claim "success" if you can explain away your failures.
Let's say that you've told all of your friends that you're a brilliant pianist. You aren't, you can barely play chopsticks, but you've told them that to impress them. Then you're at a party and someone asks you to play. You sit down at the piano and pick away at the keys for a minute. It's obvious you can't play. But all is not lost! No, you can explain away your failure. Here are a few examples:
1. I'm having an off day, not feeling very well.
Cruise vigorously defended the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, despite criticism that it offers nothing more than medical hocus-pocus.
The program, based on principles developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, has provided more than 780 emergency workers suffering 9/11-related health problems with free treatment, which includes heavy doses of vitamins and hours in a sauna.
Some call it a cult concoction while silver screen celebrity Tom Cruise swears by it -- a Scientology program called the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project.
City Councilman Hiram Monserrate said the program worked for him.
2007-04-20, Daily Dish / Gossip, San Francisco Chronicle
Despite Mayor Bloomberg's denouncement of the program as "not science" on Wednesday, those present at the fundraiser were clearly happy to give their approval to the project, which saw Cruise personally thank guests for their attendance.
LAST night another religious wack job came to attack Ground Zero: Tom bin Cruise.
The warden of the Katie Holmes Correctional Facility zoomed in to do a "benefit" for his Scientology group, the "New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project." Only Cruise would hold a benefit for himself.
2007-04-20, Mark Ebner, Fresh Intelligence, Radar Online
On Friday, Weaver told Radar, "Yesterday they just walked around campus without being obtrusive, but today they set up a bright yellow tent about 100 yards from the memorial."
The tent, similar to the ones celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise routinely pitches on movie sets, is situated near another tent where victims' memorial boards are on display, so when aggrieved students come to pay their respects, they get accosted by the culties. "It's sick," says Weaver. "They can leave and take the media with them."
The money goes to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, a program Cruise co-founded in 2002.
The 30-day program, based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's principles, offers free treatment to cops, firefighters and paramedics who believe they developed breathing difficulties and other ailments after working at Ground Zero.
Participants receive vitamins, including high doses of niacin to release fatty acids into the bloodstream, and nutritional counseling. They also complete daily exercise regimens and sit in saunas as hot as 180 degrees.
Monserrate, a former cop, told me he spoke with Sept. 11 rescue workers who have benefited from the program, and said that critics are motivated by their own agendas.
"The bottom line is the program provided a better quality of life for hundreds of rescue workers that have taken the program," he said. "I myself personally have spoken to dozens of them who"ve had serious ailments, problems with upper respiratory infections, breathing problems."
As could be expected, Scientologists are none too happy with Mayor Mike Bloomberg and City Councilman Peter Vallone for questioning the scientific validity of their "sweat and vitamins" detox project for 9/11 rescue workers. And at least one California-based follower of the ways of L. Ron hubbard is speaking out, sending an open letter to a variety of elected officials, newspapers and others praising the scientific validity of the New York Rescue Workers Detox Project.
Tom Cruise appeared at a private dinner fundraiser on Thursday night for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, a program he co-founded in 2002.
The Scientology-based program offers free treatment to emergency workers who suffer breathing difficulties and other health problems stemming from exposure to toxins at ground zero after 9/11 terror attacks.
Outside the courtroom a group of Scientology critics, some of whom Minton once supported financially and counted as allies, was ready to be called to the witness stand to counter Minton's accusations and support Dandar.
The hearing clearly touched off a storm of emotion among those who count themselves as critics of the church. Minton's close friend, Stacy Brooks, sat in the audience, red-eyed and exhausted.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A judge Friday removed Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as a defendant in a $25 million suit by a former member who claims church promises that its methods improve mental health are a fraud.
Superior Court Judge Norman Epstein said he dropped Hubbard from the suit because the plaintiff's attorneys were unable to find him for three years to serve him with official notice of the legal action. The suit continues against the church.
Larry Wollersheim sued the church, claiming he spent $100,000 on Scientology counseling over 11 years, believing church promises that it would make him more stable, healthy, confident and productive.