Former Sea Org member Peter Nyiri discusses stories from his time in the Sea Org. Stories include the gifts David Miscavige received from Sea Org Orgs twice a year; the BMW shown in the thumbnail references the BMW David Miscavige received from a forced collection of Sea Org's meager stipend. Other stories include 90 hour work weeks; loss of canteen privileges; sleep deprivations; and punishments for not meeting money targets. This is all part of the hellish and punishing life that is the Sea Org.
2018-08-23, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
This week I have a new interview with a former Scientologist who really only had a brief but devastating experience many years ago and has been trying to deal with the consequences ever since, especially difficult since her mother is not just still a Scientologist but a staff member here in Denver at the "Ideal Org." Every story counts and Kat McElhinney's story is all too typical for those who have even a brief encounter with destructive cults during their formative years.
While things have been exploding over Scientology in Colombia, our man in Los Angeles, Jeffrey Augustine, has been looking into the relationship between David Miscavige's organization and that South American country, looking for clues to how things got to their present mess. We think he's turned up some fascinating stuff…
Over the last three weeks, the Colombian press has been diving into Scientology's archives and finding volumes of evidence about Scientology's activities there. The press has focused on comedian Andrés López, who has been promoting Scientology in Colombia since at least 2004. And in 2008, Scientology's Guillermo Smythe, who works PR on the ship Freewinds, apparently first made contact with Colombian national police Colonel Ricardo Prado, who would go on to become such a promoter of Scientology front groups he would be awarded Scientology's highest honor, the "Freedom Medal."
But what we're hearing less about than Scientology's activities are the conditions in Colombia that made it such fertile ground for Scientology and its "human rights" front groups. In 2011, the Colombian government was rocked by revelations of extrajudicial killings conducted by the Army during the period 2002-2010. These killings occurred during the Army's war against FARC guerillas, and they consisted of civilians being murdered by the Army and then falsely identified as guerillas in order to increase body counts. The victims were typically poor, unemployed, handicapped, or otherwise disadvantaged young men in remote villages. These people were killed and then dressed in guerilla combat fatigues and identified as terrorists. The nightmarish military euphemism "False Positives" was later used to minimize the atrocities. A recent study by Omar Rojas Bolaños and Fabian Leonardo Benavides argues that as many as 10,000 civilians were the victims of extrajudicial killings. The Colombian military has resisted efforts to bring the generals and political leaders responsible for the extrajudicial killings to justice. Several military officers who attempted to expose the killings were murdered. A 2015 article in the Los Angeles Times noted…
Last year in January we reported on some stunning new data that researcher R.M. Seibert managed to pry out of the US government with help from the MuckRock website. For years, Scientology watchers like Jeff Jacobsen had noticed that Scientology seemed to rely on foreign workers at its major bases, and that they were being brought in under a "religious worker" visa, also known as R-1.
But rather than do "religious" work, these foreigners were brought in to labor in Scientology's "Sea Organization," where workers sign billion-year contracts, work 112-hour weeks for only about $50 a week when they're paid at all, and often do only manual or administrative work. With fewer Americans interested in joining Scientology's hard-core Sea Org and its ascetic lifestyle, the church seemed to be turning to people from other countries who perhaps didn't know what they were getting into.
But how many of them were there?
2017-08-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
As always, thanks to everyone for your amazing support.
Most heartfelt thanks to Marie Bilheimer and Lauren Haggis — two beautiful, courageous and caring women. Without contributors like them who are willing to stand up and bravely tell their stories, there would be no show at all. The purpose of this program is to provide a venue for the real, painful stories of life in scientology to be told. It cannot happen without those who will sit down before the camera.
Every contributor knows that any remaining scientology friends they may have had will instantly disconnect (even though "that practice is not part of scientology") and that some of those old friends are going to be dragged out of mothballs to say things about them... They won't be true, they will be scripted and put N. Korean POW videos to shame, but they will hurt nevertheless. That is what they are intended to do. Hurt.
Authorities are investigating a secret cell of anti-vaccination doctors amid claims they are helping families dodge compulsory immunisation of their children.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Victoria's Health Department are looking into allegations that at least three Melbourne GPs are offering services to those against vaccinations, the Herald Sun reports.
They include Dr John Piesse, who works at the Natural Healing Centre in Mitcham, and was captured on camera bragging about helping hundreds of families avoid getting immunised.
The Environment Agency is investigating reports that human waste has made its way into a stream in East Grinstead which is causing a bad smell to waft around the area.
Grey sludge and what is thought to be effluent (discharged sewage) has been building up occasionally in the stream, which runs parallel to West Hoathly Road just south of Saint Hill Road, since last autumn.
The sludge then clears again as it flows downstream towards a lake which sits alongside, but is not directly connected to, the River Medway.
We've been on the road for more than a week, and it was sure good to get home yesterday. Once again, our contributors and tipsters really came through for us so we could keep the blog going uninterrupted. And we want to thank Jon Atack, who knew we were traveling and was thoughtful enough to send us a bonus post for our homecoming.
JON: When I was a kid, ads for Charles Atlas's body-building courses were in almost every American comic. The ad read, "You too can have a body like mine." Perhaps Scientology should use a grinning picture of the Founder, Source and Commodore with the caption, "You too can have a mind like mine."
But do you really want a mind like Hubbard's? While a believer, I did not doubt that Hubbard was an ideal figure – the best possible human being. He would be kind, tolerant, patient, and resourceful. He would never lose his temper and always have an encouraging word. Rather like the father that none of us ever had (though I'm happy to say that my own dad was a thoroughly decent chap, if not the image of perfection).
Vladimir Putin recently signed a law extending a 1997 law, signed by Boris Yeltsin, restricting the activities of religious individuals and groups. Although billed as an anti-terrorist measure, restrictions include the ability to meet in public, to have foreign pastors or missionaries visit, restrictions on publishing, zoning and permit requirements, and other legal intrusions.
These restrictions should also be understood in light of the 2012 "foreign agent" law in Russia. The purpose of that law, ostensibly, was to restrict the activities of foreign agents and foreign money coming in to Russia to alter the political landscape. The actual target, however, was NGOs and human rights organizations. Indeed, it is estimated that one third of NGOs operating in Moscow have shut down since the 2012 law.
2016-08-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
On a number of previous occasions I have commented on the parallels between the scientology world and North Korea.
From empty showcase buildings to the unwarranted adulation of their current leader Kim Jong-un to the bizarre stories of the life and accomplishments of the Godlike founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung.
But this BBC News story came across my newsfeed and once again the similarities were eery.
2015-08-23, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The show where I answer your questions about Scientology and anything else you want to ask about. This week, the questions I take up are:
(1) Do you think L. Ron Hubbard made staff contracts 2-1/2 or 5 year contracts to trap members or suppress them and unknowingly stop them from doing and getting up The Bridge?
(2) Are you familiar with Amway/network-marketing-type companies and, if so, do you think that their tactics are similar to those used in cults?
Our thanks to the tipster who found this little gem. Scientology's in-house hip hop ambassador, Norman Berry a/k/a Chill EB, makes a Sea Org member's day by showing up, with singer Stacy Francis, to wish her a happy birthday.
We've written extensively about Chill, who seemed confused by our interest in him. We just think he's a fascinating story, and we've enjoyed some of the songs he's written as Scientology's home rapper.
Stacy Francis, meanwhile, is also someone we've looked at over the years. We always enjoy it when she claims no connection with Scientology, especially when she shows up in a video like this. Anyway, we look forward to all of your observations about this video and the glimpse it gives of the Sea Org today...
2015-08-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Really? The Purif is going to prevent blood brain disorders? Skin cancer? Reproductive problems?
They are actually claiming the the Purif is the "solution" — no, the only solution to the bisphenol you accumulate from drinking for plastic water bottles that can cause cancer? And the kidney/liver damage you are suffering from associating with Mr. Clean.
This is based on NOTHING. But promoted as truth.
2014-08-23, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Today I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I myself have not been a heavy contributor to charities nor have I had any awareness of what ALS even was until this past week. And I think that is the entire point of the success behind this ALS campaign. With a simple video challenge done in the style of a chain letter, over 53 million dollars have been raised to help fight what has been an incurable disease with very little actual support or public awareness.
This ALS challenge is doing more to raise awareness, educate the public and raise much-needed money than any number of boring PSAs or nationwide marketing campaigns I've seen. I'm not trying to denigrate the efforts of anyone to get the word out about their charities or causes. I'm merely pointing out that the elements of humor and participation succeed where so much else has not. I think many charities right now are probably looking at their fundraising efforts in a whole new light.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a horrible thing. I have no words to describe how awful it would be to contract this illness and I feel for those who have it and their families and friends. Hopefully, the funds being raised are enough to find a cure within my lifetime.
2014-08-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Aristotelian and Newtonian two-valued, space-time logic philosophy and science are demonstrated to be essentially of a mind construct basis by developments in quantum mechanics and the related fledgling field of science of consciousness. Those historical three-dimensional views were popular for a couple thousand years because they proved so workable in taming the wild, creating material comforts, and suppressing and killing competitors for those comforts (fundamental motives driving the evolution of civilization). Aristotle and Newton were not only worshipped by scientists for centuries, their theories were ruthlessly enforced on society by the predominant Western church as it considered their theories 'proved' that an anthropomorphic God was at the center of the universe who set the whole frenzied cosmos in motion. Having monopolized the communication channels to God, a tremendous continually increasing fortune was at stake in promoting those views. That binary thinking remains a mainstay of social darwinists today who preach 'survival of the fittest' or as Hubbard's mentor Aleister Crowly put it 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law' to justify their rapacity and greed.
This is not to say Aristotle and Newton were not pillars in humankind's evolution toward greater understanding. In fact, few compare to their contributions. It is to say, however, wisdom and understanding like life itself continually evolve. And that mental and spiritual philosophies grounded in limited logic are to some degree obsolete. Just as many of Newton's and Aristotle's principles are defied and transcended by nuclear and quantum physics (whose breakthroughs at least 70% of our economy is based upon), so are those of the mental and spiritual philosophies based upon their systems of thought.
In the traditional Cartesian (strict mind vs. matter view, as validated and supported by Aristotelian and Newtonian thought) construct, in the beginning there was a cause and the entire purpose of the cause was the creation of an effect; and we are all more or less the effect of the resultant infinity of cause-effect sequences. Therapies that promise to wed one or return one to the native, original cause in all this set themselves up for lifetime income from clients/adherents. Their 'why traps' are outfitted with an infinity of divining in the never-ending cause-effect sequences. It is akin to charging a squirrel for running in a wheel for eternity when modern science has demonstrated that 'cause' isn't any more important than 'effect' and that in ultimate reality (read beyond the traditional five animal senses) does not even necessarily precede it.
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped 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. He was kind enough to send us a new post.
We're fortunate to have two pieces this week from you, Jon. On Thursday, you told us about L. Ron Hubbard's theory that life was a game, with him controlling the pieces. Today, you're talking again about leaving Scientology and recovering from it. Help us understand why it is ex-Scientologists have a hard time leaving the church behind.
JON: To keep the follower trapped in the mindset of the group, it is necessary to erect fences, so that they will not stray. In most groups these fences melt away once the rituals of the group are abandoned. The Krishna stops chanting all day long. The TMer stops repeating the "secret" demonic name, ceaselessly. Away from the rallies and the group euphoria, people come down from the high and integrate back into reality and the mundane. Not so with Scientologists. Scientology is self-reinforcing. We keep on "confronting" with our TRs "in," and we try to inflict the petty, endless rules of L. Ron Hubbard on all who are around. Until we don't, which usually takes some intervention on the part of reality (or from me and others of my independently-minded ilk).
2014-08-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The latest edition of Impact magazine has been mailed out. It is a recounting of the magnificent IAS evening aboard the Freewinds. Of course, it highlights "Mr. David Miscavige" though these days they don't bother with identifying him in the 7 full page photoshopped pix featuring his new thin look.
The weight of the world seems to be resting upon his shoulders and it is showing.
This was a veritable shermanspeak orgy, and while I am not going to recount everything here, I am including his opening and closing statements for your reading pleasure (amazement?).
NOW POSTED BELOW: We have the 20-page police report detailing what Brutsche and Newman told police during the undercover investigation of their plan to kidnap and kill a police officer. AND FINALLY — A STATEMENT FROM SCIENTOLOGY
ALSO: Devon Newman was once a tenant living in the home of Karen de la Carriere, former wife of the president of the Church of Scientology! See our update, below.
Devon Campbell Newman, 67, became the public relations director of Scientology's "Celebrity Center" in Las Vegas, Nevada early in 2010 and has remained in that position to the present day — that's according to her own LinkedIn profile as well as numerous online records of her activities as a Scientologist.
2013-08-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The Smiths are at it again — throwing out more confusion and hidden data to try to drum up some business.
Not only is Miscavige planning the super extravaganzapalooza of amazingness to blow the minds of the sheeple with Super Power, Cause Resurgence, GAG II, the meter, dictionary and a whole new building in a circus tent with fireworks, dancing elephants and clowns, he also plans to make a shitload more money with price "changes" (increases) as it just wouldn't be fair to let people "rocket up the Bridge faster than ever, ever, ever" without making them pay more for the privilege of getting less so much quickier.
You can read all about it here.
Las Vegas police have arrested a man and a woman in connection with a crazy plot to kidnap, jail, try and execute a random police officer.
The plot was allegedly driven by right-wing "Sovereign Citizen" beliefs. Growing since the late 2000s, the Sovereign Citizen movement is largely made up of people who do not believe in following U.S. laws or paying taxes and have a particular dislike for law enforcement.
Devon Campbell Newman, 67, became the public relations director of Scientology's "Celebrity Center" in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2010. Her alleged partner in crime is 42-year-old David Allen Brutsche, a registered sex offender and six-time felon.
2013-08-23, Miss Fortune, Glistening, Quivering Underbelly
The German philospher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
And it looks to your girl Miss Fortune that the craven knuckleheads running Tranquility Detox are still stuck in the first stage. Using stigmatizing language -- addict -- in the "Get Help Today!" form (above), makes no distinction between the person and the disease. Instead of using terms like "family member" or "loved one", Tranquility Detox appears to deny the dignity and humanity of the individuals they purport to care for.
Now, Indiana, Tranquility Detox is gunning for you!
2012-08-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
L. Ron Hubbard's great-grandson moves up a few spots on our list this year after the way his profile has been rising lately. After the TomKat split, DeWolf was asked to make some comments, and an interview he gave to a Bay Area local television station got picked up and went around the world a few times. We'd predicted big things for Jamie, who has a lot of talent and charm, and isn't afraid to speak freely about his great-grandad.
The body found last week behind a Peachtree Corners business has been identified, but the cause of death remains undetermined pending toxicology results.
The deceased man, found at about 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 13, has been identified as 39-year-old Ronald Corona, "who is originally from Pennsylvania and has been temporarily living in the Gwinnett area since November 2011," Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Thursday. Corona had previously been identified only through a pair of distinct tattoos on his body.
In recent days, I've received some insight into this megalomaniacal mindset from an unlikely source. In her new book, Inside Scientology, Rolling Stone reporter Janet Reitman tells the story of how a mentally unbalanced pill-popping bigamist named L. Ron Hubbard turned his fevered space-opera fantasies and medical conspiracy theories into a cult-cum-business that, at the time of his death in 1986, was worth $400-million. Hubbard wasn't a politician, but he was very much a fascist - as evidenced by the sadistic punishments meted out to "dissident" Scientologists, and by the creepy power-worship themes that suffused many of his hack science fiction stories.
2010-08-23, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
The famous "duck test," attributed to "Hoosier Poet" James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), goes something like this: "When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."
The Church of Scientology likes to style itself as a "religion." But does it walk and talk like a religion?
Over the last year, revelations by former insiders indicate that Scientology is acting like anything but a religion. But lately, it's not just former staff who are revealing some very un-religious behavior, it's the Church itself. They are so busy denying everything that they perhaps haven't noticed what they've admitted to.
Then he was torched by the press, by Hollywood and by just about anyone within striking distance of a celebrity newsweekly for criticizing psychiatry, antidepressants and Brooke Shields' handling of postpartum depression. And for talking up Scientology as if it had all the answers.
Xenu is Loose! The Musical! follows the plight of Jen, a not-quite-convert to Scientology as she is charmed and seduced by a handsome member of the church during her initial tour. Meanwhile, Xenu has escaped from his native planet and has murder in mind.
Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount Pictures parent company Viacom, told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that the studio would not renew its contract with Cruise's Cruise/Wagner
"It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor," Redstone said. "But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."
Over the past 18 years, e.Republic has essentially become the principal information source on governments' adoption of technology. The company's conferences draw everybody who's anybody among the government "digerati." Its magazines, notably its flagship, Government Technology, have become the industry bibles of the government techno-nerd set. For instance, if you want the latest news on whether governments will supply online access to court files, you'll find it in Government Technology. Another e.Republic offshoot, the Center for Digital Government, provides research and consulting to state and local governments.
To the outside world, e.Republic is a trusted resource for government officials and business leaders alike. Inside, some employees feel as if they won't get a fair shake if they're not Scientologists.
An arm of the Church of Scientology has sued The Washington Post and two of its reporters in an attempt to prevent publication of copyrighted information that belongs to the church.
In an amendment to a suit filed against an Arlington man Aug. 11 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Religious Technology Center asks that the newspaper return certain documents and refrain from publishing information that the church claims is confidential scriptures protected by federal laws.
The church originally sued Arlington resident Arnaldo Lerma, who allegedly disseminated anti-church information and church documents via the Internet. On Aug. 12, federal marshals seized computer equipment and files from Lerma's home, under an order from District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The revised suit seeks an injunction against The Post and reporters Richard Leiby and Marc Fisher, who allegedly obtained copyrighted information.
The daughter and granddaughter gave separate statements to police telling how they had chopped up 50 capsules of Dilantin, an anti-seizure medicine, then mixed it in clam chowder and fed it to Van Sickle Nov. 17 in the family home in Rainier Valley.
But when she was still alive the next day, they put a pillow over her face and suffocated her. After a 20-minute struggle, Van Sickle died.
Some property owners in Pinellas County who are getting a free ride on taxes are offended because they have to justify their exemptions. But if Property Appraiser Ron Schultz weren't asking questions, he would be failing everyone who pays taxes.
Schultz, for the sixth straight year, has examined exemptions for non-profit institutions and churches throughout the county - a grant of relief that removed $1.1-billion worth of property from taxation last year. In so doing, he targeted about 50 religious organizations that have failed to file appropriately updated financial records to prove they qualify for the exemption. One Palm Harbor church, for example, had not filed a financial paper since its original application - at the turn of the century, when Pinellas was still a part of Hillsborough County.
City officials learned Thursday afternoon that the Boheme had been sold. Travel agents who had booked passengers on future cruises got even less advance notice. They were told Friday that someone had acquired one of Commodore Cruise Line's two ships.
Bob Garrity, Commodore's marketing director, attributed the suddenness of the sale to an offer the Boheme's Finnish owners "couldn't refuse." The buyer has not been identified.
Not many modern religions can claim the distinction of being denounced by a major European government as "socially harmful ... a potential menace to the personality" and "a serious danger to health." Yet those were the words chosen by Britain's Health Minister Kenneth Robinson when he took the floor of the Commons last month to censure the little-known and less understood Church of Scientology.