2018-09-02, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer viewer questions left for me in the comment sections of my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) Living in Hawaii, I was aware of Scientology in the late to early eighties. My older sister worked in a Waikiki hotel and had a lot of high school friends also working in hotels. If I wanted any information from surf heights to what scams people were talking about I asked my sister. When I asked about Scientology, she told me "they are no different than the Hare Krishnas." I heard you mention Hawaii briefly one time as one of the underperforming centers. Any more information about the Hawaii-Scientology connection?
(2) I have some questions about bull-baiting. I hope I'm using the right term; I'm referring to the practise where you sit still for hours while someone tries to distract you by yelling, joking etc.
On Thursday, Geoffrey S. Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, unsealed an indictment of two Orange County, New York chiropractors and two additional people who work in their office, accusing them of defrauding Medicare of more than $80 million.
The two chiropractors, James "Jay" Spina, 59, and his brother Jeffrey Spina, 56, are longtime Scientologists who have been big supporters of the Scientology front group Drug-Free World, which we've told you for years spends its time infiltrating New York City schools with the help of the NYPD.
The Spina brothers have worked as chiropractors in Middletown, New York for many years. They called their clinic Spina Chiropractic — which was listed as a World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE) business in 1999 — then Dolman Avenue Medical until it was raided last year by the FBI and changed its name to Pain Relief and Wellness Center.
2018-09-02, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The DenverIdeal Org
The Colorado Rockies parking lot that doubles as an "ideal" scientology org in Denver has just sent out an exclamation-laced update announcing the amazing news that they had 19 people on service IN A MONTH (July)!
And you can bet most of them were on "Basics" courses, Student Hat and Purif.
Scientology OT's Jeffrey and Jim Spina have been charged with felonies along with two other Scientologists
According to a US Dept of Justice Press Release of August 30, 2018 Scientologists James Spina, Jeffrey Spina, Andrea Grossman, and Kimberly Spina have been charged with "participating in a widespread health care fraud scheme through their fraudulent operation of Dolson Avenue Medical ("DAM" or the "Practice"), a multi-disciplinary medical clinic located in Middletown, New York." The Spina brothers are chiropractors and used their practice to engage in the alleged fraud with their accomplices.
The US DoJ press release adds, "The defendants were all arrested today, and presented in federal district court in White Plains. This case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas." These Scientologists were arrested, booked, and processed. The Times-Herald Record Online reported on bail conditions for the defendants:
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2017-09-02, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
If LRH had really wanted to save the planet as quickly as possible, why did he make his "tech" so expensive? And therefore, so inaccessible to so many? If the world was going to hell in a handbasket, why charge Scientologists—tasked with saving the planet—hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why not just give them the "tech" and allow them to get to work bailing out our little rock?
How ethical would it be to charge individuals a hundred grand for a vaccine to inoculate themselves against a plague decimating mankind? Of course, if you were a board member of a Bayer…yeah, you'd go along with the price structure. Reminds me of people selling water for $10 a bottle in storm-ravaged Houston.
We can't talk about religion and money without talking about the highest-priced faith-based organization in the world: the Church of Scientology. One thing for sure: it's not for the poor. Nor even for the middle class. Scientology is for the able—financially able, that is—and If you want to get to the top of the Bridge and "go free," then you'd better be in pretty damned good financial shape. Or be related to someone who is—or was. (At the least, you'd better quit your teaching job and start selling high-priced MEST.)
Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie is now on Netflix, but Jon Atack reminds us that Theroux wasn't the first investigator who tried to find something positive to say about Scientology, and ended up in a very different place.
The first book I contributed to – back in the distant mists of history (c.1986) – was Stewart Lamont's Religion Inc. Not a bad title, and with some interesting content (though he describes me as a "young businessman," which came as a surprise). Lamont had made a favorable documentary for Yorkshire TV, and when we first met he told me that Scientology had been persecuted, and he wanted to put the record straight. I had enjoyed the documentary, because by offering an entirely uncritical view, Lamont had encouraged the Scientologist contributors to boast about their strange belief system.
I best remember a Sea Org executive dripping in braid and campaign medals. This alone made Scientology seem fatuous. Some good documentaries simply allow fools to express their folly: Lynne Allway's Meet the Mormons is another example of the softly-softly approach – nothing has horrified me more about the routine practices of the Latter-Day Saints (not to be confused with the LDS's own film of the same name!).
In July, we showed you some wacky screenshots from Scientology's newest "testimonials" video, which gets shipped out each year with a new issue of International Scientology News. Well, now we have the video itself, and we think you're going to love this new entry in this wonderful genre of Scientology filmmaking.
Our readers in Australia will enjoy seeing singer Kate Ceberano show up in this video, talking about how she's completed OT 8, the top of Scientology's "Bridge to Total Freedom." (Blink and you'll miss her.)
We especially like these videos because they are made not for us, the general public, but for Scientologists, in order to get them amped up about forking over even bigger amounts for more courses and donations. And for what? Well, as these videos demonstrate, even Scientologists struggle to describe exactly what it is that Scientology does for them. Often, they have to resort to sound effects to give a sense of what's impossible to describe.
2015-09-02, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A new advertorial has appeared from the bubble of self-delusion.
The only reason it doesn't create a flap like the scientology advertorial in The Atlantic is that nobody reads World Religion News. (See here if you are unfamiliar with The Atlantic fiasco)
But this does provide some interesting insight into the bubble mindset. This is how Miscavige tells his troops to get media coverage (he is afraid to talk to any media or have anyone speak to them in any way). And it reflects the canned, controlled messages he feeds the sheeple at his events.
We've been reporting in huge volumes about Scientology's drug rehab system, Narconon, and the legal troubles it finds itself in for what is its essentially deceptive business model. Narconon promises individualized drug counseling by medical professionals in a safe, drug-free environment, and downplays its connections to the church. But none of that is true. Not only is Narconon a wing of the church under leader David Miscavige's control, but instead of delivering drug counseling, it puts patients through the same exercises they'd get as beginning Scientologists. It also puts them through a risky and unscientific regimen of extended sauna use and outrageous amounts of niacin and other vitamins. But on what theory is that based? Our frequent contributor, Jeffrey Augustine, shows us that things are even worse than we imagined, as he looks into L. Ron Hubbard's ideas behind his "detoxification" regimen.
Recently, you may have read about the federal government paying to investigate how Narconon's sauna program affects Gulf War veterans. But as we pointed out, that study is not examining L. Ron Hubbard's theories for what the process is doing to the human body, only whether the veterans feel better after weeks of exercise, sauna use, and vitamin intake. And now, Augustine explains to us why Hubbard's ideas for what's going on in that sauna will never be examined by science...
Today, we're going to show you what L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology, and Narconon are withholding from prospective Narconon customers and the public at large.
2014-09-02, Thomas Grillo, Boston Business Journal
The Boston Church of Scientology has signed a two-year lease in a 14,400-square-foot space at 1515 Hancock St. in Quincy Center, a move triggered by its delayed effort to restore its planned home in the former Alexandra Hotel in Boston's South End.
Hernando County government poorly served the public with its continued bumbling of a Spring Hill drug treatment facility affiliated with the Church of Scientology. The five-year ordeal ended last week with a nearly $2 million settlement to Narconon Spring Hill Inc. and flummoxed county commissioners wondering how the clinic's operators circumvented the county's own code enforcement to house clients in an unlicensed facility within a residential neighborhood. Hernando residents deserve a county government that is more thoughtful and accountable than this expensive lesson illustrates.
Our man in Paris, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, is back with another great piece — this time, a lengthy review of the newest book recounting the journey into and out of the Church of Scientology.
Underground Bunker regulars will recall that Hungarian ex-Scientology member Peter Bonyai (pictured, right) helped us out with a story in April on the supposedly transparent and independent Central-European Religious Freedom Institute (CERFI). (Jura Nanuk, who heads up the lobbying organisation, had somehow forgotten to mention his allegiance to Scientology at the group's website. Nor, so far as I can see, has the situation changed.)
Now Bonyai's memoir of his 10 years as a Scientologist in Hungary is available in English, Money, Power, Servitude: Adventures in the Wonderland of Scientology. He translated the original edition himself and former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder stepped in to edit the English version.
2014-09-02, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
OK, so what are they doing down under?
Things seem to have become a fundraising free for all.
We have been seeing the "big push" on Auckland in New Zeland as the "next ideal org" and how everyone is in a big, happy, clusterfuck alliance to make it happen:
In Hockley, however, residents are readying for battle. Some, including Caissie, simply don't believe a rehab facility belongs in the family-oriented village, which rarely sees police cruisers and has limited local medical services.
Others have been gripped by an Internet-fuelled panic about Narconon itself. The program, which includes detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins, is lauded by famous Scientologists Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley. But the methods have recently come under fire amid lawsuits filed by the families of three Narconon clients who died at a facility in Oklahoma.
2013-09-02, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This article was sent in by Anette Iren Johansen, who is taking time out from her own blog to act as Norwegian Special Correspondent for Something Can Be Done About It. Thanks Anette!
Where is the massive worldwide unprecedented straight up vertical expansion of Scientology? Apparently it has not yet reached Norway.
No expansion in the richest country of the world? I'm not sure whether the Vikings are cult proof or if this is just the worst example of Scientology's failed Ideal Org strategy.
AS SEEN ON TV: The title image for Bryan Seymour's report on Today Tonight The Underground Bunker has teamed up with another Australian news organization for an exclusive story about Scientology. In this case, we are pleased to have worked with Bryan Seymour of the 7 News program Today Tonight.
We coordinated with Seymour to investigate the story of Manuela Oliveira, a woman who had been a rising dancer building a solid television choreography career, working on such shows as The Voice, and The X Factor, and for such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Paula Abdul. Three years ago, Manuela moved to Los Angeles from Australia with her boyfriend and fellow choreographer, Yannus Sufandi, as the two followed their dreams of breaking into Hollywood.
Two years later, their dreams were disrupted and Manuela had abandoned her relationship with Yannus. To her family's utter surprise, she had given up everything to join the Church of Scientology's strict inner corps, the Sea Organization.
2013-09-02, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
That is the title of another book by Stephen Mitchell, whose translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching I have many times recommended on this blog and in my books. The subtitle is: A New Translation and Guide to his Essential Teachings for Believers and Unbelievers.
Mitchell undertakes an effort begun by such noted Americans as Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, both of whom assayed to differentiate the life and words of Jesus from the hype, falsehood, misdirection and fear they perceived had been added to the Scriptures by others.
I am going to share one passage from the introduction of Mitchell's book that I believe might resonate on several levels with people who have invested in the Scientology experience.
2012-09-02, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
As Scientology Inc. (the church of Scientology) has so idiotically already spread all over the comments section at Vanity Fair, Nazanin Boniadi is a good friend of mine. Naz is a courageous woman who was ruthlessly exploited by David Miscavige and Tom Cruise several years ago. Because of the nature of the bond of trust I share with Naz, there is not much I can share with you about her. But, since her name and a version of her story are about to go viral, there is something that people ought to know about Naz. For years, Naz has known that she could make international headlines and perhaps forward her fledgling acting career by blowing the whistle on Tom Cruise and his bff David Miscavige. But, Naz chose not to do so. She wanted to be judged only by the merits of her skills and abilities. Instead, she intelligently decided on more quiet and effective means she could apply to effectuate change in the monstrous institution that so inhumanely attempted to exploit her and others. Naz quietly and dedicatedly went about establishing a career powered and supported only by the quality of her talent. She found time also to forward the cause of effectively taming the beast. On a personal level, in four short years she became a well-employed actor and recognized, effective human rights activist.
David Miscavige and Tom Cruise took measures to prevent Naz from achieving any noteriety - for obvious reasons. But, Naz was undeterred. She made it in spite of Tom Cruise and David Miscavige.
Maureen Orth is one of a dying breed of real investigative journalists in America. Through incredible persistence and remarkable savvy Orth was able to find enough corroboration to tell Naz's story in Vanity Fair without Naz uttering a word about it. See Vanity Fair's teaser here.
GOLD BASE, Calif., Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Scientology officials arranged an elaborate vetting process for possible girlfriends for Tom Cruise before he married Katie Holmes, sources told Vanity Fair.
Actresses who were Scientology members were called in by the church under the pretense of auditioning for a training video and were asked their thoughts about Cruise.
Marc Headley, a Scientologist who watched the videos, said whomever dated Cruise would not only have to please the actor, but also "toe the line for Scientology."
UPDATE after the jump: Breaking news about Paul Haggis and the Vanity Fair bombshell about Tom Cruise.
One of Scientology's enduring mysteries is that it has attracted Hollywood stars when it has such a reputation for homophobia. The sexual orientation of its top celebrities is always a matter of popular speculation, and even those with the barest understanding of Scientology seem to know that if celebrity members are gay, they have to keep quiet about it.
2011-09-02, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
David Miscavige reached another milestone today. He killed another once-wonderful creation of L Ron Hubbard: Freedom Magazine.
While Jim Lynch and a cameraman assaulted Mosey and I at the check in line at Phoenix International Airport this morning, with Lynch attacking Mosey's father in bargain, in the name of "Freedom" something was going viral on the internet.
The story about Freedom Magazine's idiotic attack on The New Yorker, first published by Tony Ortega at the Village Voice, was being picked up by the New York Times and a number of other publications.
The group hired Christopher Szechenyi, a freelance journalist, paying him $24,000 between April and June 2010, according to records. Szechenyi, an adjunct professor of journalism at Emerson College in Boston, drafted letters to the editor on behalf of a Polk County man who received $1,700 from the Navy Veterans for a barbecue at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in 2009. Although the letters were submitted, there is no evidence they were published in either the Times or the Tampa Tribune.
Szechenyi, who previously worked for the Church of Scientology on an unpublished investigation into the St. Petersburg Times, did not return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
2011-09-02, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology seems utterly incapable of understanding a journalist like Reitman, who weighs all kinds of evidence in order to come up with a rounded portrait of something as complex as Scientology. But then, historically, Scientology has had only the most contentious relationships with journalists -- some of whom have experienced stunning acts of retaliation by the church and its agents. We're listing some of them here, writers from the past and present who, like Janet, have labored to understand Hubbard and his creation, even as the church fights every attempt to learn even its most basic facts. In the end, Scientology has crippled itself as it treats every new journalist as an outright enemy.
2010-09-02, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying "I never tire of reading Tom Paine."
Neither do I. Paine's The Age of Reason was of tremendous help to me in moving beyond fixed, negative patterns of thought instilled by the church of Scientology (Miscavology).
"Sons" co-stars Katie Holmes in a supporting role. Actress is associated with Scientology through her marriage to Tom Cruise, one of Scientology's big-name adherents.
Anonymous, said to be a loose confederation of about 9000 people, has organized a series of anti-Scientology protests over the last several months, with members showing up for events wearing masks.
A leaked interview with District 17 Civil Protection; Officer 117-9000. Recorded just before the uprising.
This is the video the overwatch does not want you to see.
Directing, Writing, Digital effects, etc by Tom Hall
Camera assistance by Danny Santos
Gordon Freeman by Stefan Acin
edit: My messages were disabled for awhile for some reason, it's been re enabled now.
I have been asked if I would consider doing more short films set in the HL2 universe.
I am currently in a pretty intensive film program but I am interested in exploring the combine further, maybe in a more narrative sense. Any such short film would be at a minimum 6-months away. I'll keep you guys informed if I ever return to the HL2 universe.
"There has been some conversation about (the Scientologists) making a gift which would make it possible for us to put a room in for creative writing," said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, "but we have been very clear that there would be no representation that the University endorsed Scientology since we are totally secular."
"Who are those people that say those things?" Cruise asks when I bring it up over lunch one day. "Because I promise you, it isn't everybody. But I look at those people and I say, 'Bring it. I'm a Scientologist, man. What do you want to know?" I don't mind answering questions."
He lists some of Scientology's selling points: its drug-abuse, prison-rehabilitation and education programs. "Some people, well, if they don't like Scientology, well, then, fuck you." He rises from the table. "Really." He points an angry finger at the imaginary enemy. "Fuck you." His face reddens. "Period."
It is a beautiful exhibition, and I don't believe that he's acting. Before meeting Cruise, I had been warned roundly by my colleagues. They told of restrictions set in interviews, documents that I would have to sign, unprintably generic answers I would receive. They said that he smiles and listens and talks and looks you in the eye, but afterward, when you walk away, you realize that you've really been given nothing but a command performance.
1991-09-02, Anne Rackham, Los Angeles Business Journal
Future Films, the mysterious movie company that arrived in Burbank and in Garland, Texas, last month with ambitious goals and a huge marketing splash, is financed and managed by a small group of high-level members of the Church of Scientology.
Critics of the church, who label the religion a cult and a massive financial hoax, allege Future Films is a front for the church. They claim it will be used to recruit new Scientologists, make money for the church and spread its philosophies throughout the country via its motion pictures.