The Royal Fleet Club once oozed class and wealth as a luxury hotel visited by top Navy brass.
But certainty over the future of the Devonport landmark has been lacking in the decade since it was acquired by an unusual buyer - in the former of the Church of Scientology - in a business deal worth £1million.
Now after years of virtual silence there's movement on the cards at the former lavish boutique guest house, which started out life in 1902 as a bolt hole for Plymouth sailors and merchant types.
We are at a complete loss on this story. We really have no idea what to think. So we ask you, our brilliant commenting community: What the hell is going on here?
Let us go back for a moment. You might remember that back in 2014, we told the really strange, amusing, and ultimately sad tale of Richie Acunto, a Scientologist who had tried to fly too close to the Sun and then had crashed to Earth.
Acunto rose from humble beginnings by selling car insurance to other Scientologists with a company he'd named after a Scientology touchstone, "Survival Insurance." In the 1990s, Survival had grown so large it was one of the biggest insurers of automobiles in California. Acunto's success translated into huge donations to Scientology, which, some of his former business partners say, ultimately doomed Survival itself.
(Scientology's 440-foot ship was last in the news for a measles quarantine.) Note: This article was originally published on Tony Ortega's blog and is reprinted here for archival purposes.
by Jeffrey Augustine
The Church of Scientology is presently trying to make news by having its ambulance-chasing and photo-op-opportunists — a/k/a the Volunteer Ministers — rush emergency supplies to The Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. In one photo not intended for publication, we see a smiling young man posing casually in a VM T-shirt on the deck of a yacht:
2018-09-27, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
This week I have a sort of informal interview with former Scientologist and high-level Sea Org member Karen de la Carriere. She and I have a wide-ranging discussion about the pros and (mostly) cons of Scientology, disconnection, fair gaming and spiritual belief.
For the past two decades, Pastor Rick Wiles has built a career on the far fringes of the evangelical movement by railing against Jews, gays, and immigrants in language so over-the-top it would make Pat Buchanan blush. Wiles blamed Hurricane Harvey's devastation in Houston on the city's "LGBT devotion," has called Judaism and Islam "the Antichrist," and — just three months ago! — declared that Central American immigrants are a "brown invasion" sent by God to punish white Americans over legal abortion.
So, of course, President Trump called on a so-called reporter from Wiles' Florida-based, conspiracy-mongering website, TruNews, during his rambling news conference at the United Nations yesterday.
In his nearly hour-and-a-half-long conference, Trump railed repeatedly against "fake news" — most notably while misrepresenting the New York Times' reporting on sexual assault accusations against him. Then, amid that media broadside, he called on Edward Szall, a correspondent with the Vero Beach-based Christian news operation:
Before continuing on with the history of Scientology's current vessel, the Freewinds, Jeffrey Augustine has an interesting aside about its predecessor...
L. Ron Hubbard's original flagship, the Apollo, met a freak ending when it was hit and destroyed by a 3,750,000 pound freight train. This is somewhat ironic when you remember Hubbard's 1963 claim...
"I notice that we all believe that Venus has a methane atmosphere and is unlivable. I almost got run down by a freight locomotive the other day — didn't look very uncivilized to me." - L. Ron Hubbard, "Between Lives Implants" lecture, SHSBC #317. 23 July 1963.
For more information please see these stories at The Underground Bunker...
In January, we tried to reach Bernie Feshbach by telephone, but he emailed us to say that he had checked in at a VA hospital.
We told him that we hoped they were taking good care of him.
"They are. Thank you for your good wishes," he emailed us back on January 28.
It was the last thing we heard from him.
The building at 40 Baker St. is to become the new Canadian headquarters for the Church of Scientology.
Yvette Shank, the public affairs director with the Church of Scientology, said the downtown Guelph location is being transformed into a hub of operations, a rallying point for Scientology activities across the country.
She declined our request for a phone interview, but agreed to take questions through email.
2017-09-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Of course, when you are being investigated for rape —
"The Los AngelesPolice Department Robbery Homicide Division, Sexual Assault Section, is conducting an investigation involving the actor Danny Masterson. Three women have come forward and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted by Masterson during the early 2000's," Hollywood Reporter
— you have to do more than hire a prominent criminal defense attorney and a private investigator.
2016-09-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is one of those LRH quotes the church sends out without apparently even reading what it says.
Whether you or I find this quote credible, there is no question that the person who sent it out from New Era, and any scientologist who received it, accepts this as gospel truth.
That being the case, one has to wonder whether they read this:
Yesterday, we heard from a number of people who were alarmed by a disturbing report that aired on the BBC about autistic people in England being subjected to a frightening "treatment" of intimidation and bullying.
It was an excellent undercover investigation by the BBC's "Inside Out" program. But what the BBC's reporters didn't mention, and perhaps didn't know, was that the treatment the autistic victims were subjected to looked an awful lot like Scientology.
The BBC had found that a man in Hungary, Zoltán Tóth, operates a company named Stabil Point Technologia — or "SPOT" — that claims to cure autism, a condition that medical science says can't be "cured." When they contacted him, Tóth said "I can kill autism, the first that did." He then put the BBC in touch with his colleague in England, a man named Joszef Kanta. And it was hidden-camera footage of Kanta treating a supposedly autistic young man which appeared so disturbing. For several hours at a time over several days, Kanta subjected his patient to staring exercises, then shouted and tried to intimidate the subject to make him flinch. It was like an extended session of Scientology "bullbaiting" with especially awful alternative techniques thrown in. (At one point, for example, Kanta has the subject's mother record herself saying that she didn't love her son, and then Kanta plays that back while belittling the young man. It was hard to watch.)
He announced earlier this month that he's left Scientology.
And Jason Lee was spotted in public for the first time since revealing he's left the controversial religion as he stepped out in Dallas, Texas, on Monday.
The 46-year-old tried to go incognito in a straw hat and eye glasses, as he chatted to pals in a parking lot near his Texas home.
2015-09-27, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions from viewers left in the comments section of my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) Hi Chris! First, just letting you know that your videos are awesome! Second, I had a question with regards to how Scientology operates in different countries, specifically in the UK. I live in the UK and have not encountered Scientology, but wondered if one would notice a difference going to a Church of Scientology based in the U.S. and as opposed to a Church of Scientology based in the UK? I appreciate that you may not know unless you've been to a UK based Church? Thanks.
(2) Seeing as Scientologists seem convinced Hubbard will "return," evidenced by the home awaiting him at their base in California and offices prepared for him at all orgs; what do you think would happen if someone showed up claiming to be Hubbard reincarnated?
2015-09-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Well, I supposed this is the best he's got, even though it's more than 20 years old.
A desperate attempt to try to burnish Dear Leader's sagging image...
It's the annus horribilis. Going Clear, Going Clear Emmys. Let Him Die following his own father media blitz. Tony Ortega's book and Paulette Cooper. The Saldarriaga hacking scandal. Jim Jackson. Leah Remini's new book. Narconon's implosion. Louis Theroux. And things are not looking any better beyond next month.
Please note the early hour for today's event in Portland, Oregon: We'll be talking about our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely at 12:45 pm at the Friendly House at 1737 NW 26th Ave. And hey, how's this for a bonus: You'll not only get to meet your proprietor, but one of our great correspondents, former Scientologist marketing wizard Jefferson Hawkins, will be there! We're so looking forward to finally meeting the man.
Hey, but we also wanted to follow up on yesterday's story about the motion that Alex "Darth Xander" Hageli filed to challenge Scientology's permanent injunction against the Lisa McPherson Trust, which was finalized in 2001.
Alex shared with us a letter by Scientology attorney Wally Pope, who claimed that because Hageli was working "in concert with" one of the people named in the injunction (former LMT videographer Mark Bunker) then Hageli was also subject to its restrictions against protesting Scientology facilities in town.
2014-09-27, Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle
Of looks and brains and verbal dexterity, Jamie DeWolf and his famous great-grandfather, L. Ron Hubbard, could be twins. But of money and religion they share little.
DeWolf, 36, is one of Scientology's harshest critics, a hero to the disbelievers who call the religion a cult. His one-man performance about Hubbard has more than a million views on YouTube.
"He started as a storyteller, just another name on dime-store pulp mags paid only a penny a page until 1949 when he said, 'You wanna know how you really get rich? You start a religion,'" DeWolf intones, his cinnamon hair glowing in the spotlight on a blackened stage in Oakland. Hubbard "wrote 'Dianetics,' transforming science fiction into fact. … Overnight, he went from pennies to a prophet, from myths to millions, until the world demanded to see his evidence.
Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton continues to add to his total of breach of contract and fraud lawsuits against Narconon, Scientology's drug rehab network. Hamilton has now filed 21 lawsuits against Narconon facilities in Colorado, California, and Nevada, and all but one of them in federal court.
The latest suit involves the Koslow family of New Mexico, and it involves very recent events. On April 3, 2014 Donna Koslow spoke with Admissions Director Nick Morrill about sending her daughter to the facility.
The Koslows were told that although concepts of L. Ron Hubbard were used, it was "completely secular and had nothing to do whatsoever with Scientology."
A federal judge has denied a motion by the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Scientology and its drug rehab network, Narconon, but arrived at something of a compromise in a way that we think readers will find interesting.
Beginning a year ago in August, we began telling you about attorney Jeff Harris and his investigation of Scientology's facility in the Atlanta area, Narconon Georgia, for an unlawful death lawsuit. That suit was settled, but not before Harris uncovered damning evidence that Narconon Georgia's officials had withheld evidence and lied about it, leading to censure by a local judge. Then, evidence of insurance fraud led to a criminal investigation of Narconon Georgia and a raid of the facility by local and state agencies in April.
In June, Jeff Harris filed a class-action lawsuit against Narconon Georgia and its parent organizations, including the Religious Technology Center, the nominally controlling entity of Scientology. Harris is representing multiple clients who say they were victimized by Narconon and are suing for fraud, deceptive practices and negligence.
Accused of bilking insurance companies out of millions of dollars, Narconon of Georgia has agreed to give up its operating license in return for a promise the company won't be prosecuted.
Mary Morton, whose complaint to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's Office started the investigation, told WSB's Pete Combs she called Narconon of Georgia Tuesday, but was told nothing about the non-prosecution agreement. Instead, Morton said a Narconon executive told her, "Unfortunately, we're full to capacity right now."
Morton said she got another call moments later from a counselor trying to sell her on another Narconon facility in a different state.
Kirstie Alley is reportedly furious that former friend Leah Remini spoke out about the Church of Scientology while appearing on "Dancing With the Stars." The two were once close friends who were members of the organization, but since Remini left the Church, Alley has been outspoken against her.
Alley was "absolutely stunned when it was announced that Leah would be a contestant on the show. Kirstie did feel extremely betrayed. Kirstie was livid that Leah made those comments about the church on Monday night," a friend told Radar Online.
2013-09-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology Kool Aid drinkers prove once again they have absolutely no shame.
Any disaster is a good enough reason to insist on taking your money. The church of Scientology LOVES a good shooting or natural cataclysm. Great photo opportunities to send some ringers and a camera crew out, but even better for fundraising "you have to give us money now so we can help the _____ people of ______" (all that money buys is the camera crew, the rest goes to commissions and "reserves"). But Scientology Disaster Capitalism has a new twist. It's not just a good sell for handing over money to the IAS, now they are piloting disasters as a reason to support your Ideal Org.
A terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya is now the reason to give money to the Valley Ideal Org. Seriously? With a straight face?
2011-09-27, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
We've gone from 132 to over a 1,000 since Sunday night's post. If each of those thousand can reach just one more person we'll soon be to 2,000. This site has received more than 15,000 visits since Sunday evening - so there are plenty out there, who are tuned into here alone, who can make that move. It is easy to do something effective about David Miscavige and his most dangerous cult. Just click the following link and follow the instructions:
Knock and the door shall be opened, and so on. Unless you're a TV3 reporter that is.
Last night's 'Exposed: Ireland's Secret Cults' featured a lot of footage of reporters Michael Ryan and Ciara Doherty standing around outside various buildings, not getting in.
The programme opened with the Oxford dictionary definition of a cult: "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members". This is a bit problematic to start with, because if you take out the words "relatively small"... well, you get the idea.
"Ireland has always had the reputation of being a very religious country but recently all that's changed," said Michael Ryan portentously. "The power of the Church here is no more."
2011-09-27, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Tony Ortega did a write up on me at the Village Voice yesterday.
I appreciate the work Tony has done in investigating and working to understand me and what the independent movement is about. I think he provides a fairly accurate picture. One thing that Tony and I apparently don't see eye to eye on is what our impact is on the future of Scientology. While he takes pains to distinguish between Corporate Scientology and Independent Scientology in the article at issue, he continues to consider - by the relegation of his story to the top twenty five people "crippling Scientology" - that we are somehow hurting the public image of Scientology. I couldn't disagree more emphatically. I post about signs of our objectives being attained - differentiating in the public mind between the practice of Scientology philosophy and the daily criminal activity of the "church" of Scientology - fairly often (ironically including Tony's own coverage of Janet Reitman's book, our recent trip to Germany, and religious scholar Hugh Urban's book on Scientology).
Riverside County supervisors voted to alter a measure that prohibited protesting from within 30 feet of a residential property on Tuesday.
Under the new rules, those picketing a residential property can come within three feet of the property line.
Scotland 's Sunday Herald published this article in November 2009, during one of the media's periodic flurries of interest in Scientology's activities.
The movement had just lost a very high-profile fraud case in Paris (it is up on appeal later this year). But it didn't hurt that there was also a celebrity angle: writer/director Paul Haggis had just defected from the movement, denouncing its homophobia and the practice of disconnection.
Although I posted a link to the article at the time, its online version at The Sunday Herald website was never properly formatted. So I'm posting it here in a more readable form, with a few minor edits.
2010-09-27, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
John Travolta the "sweet and humble good guy" who, behind the scenes, repeatedly calls a reporter's employer to bully presumably the guy getting fired — when Travolta is 100% familiar with the "tactics" used to essentially drive someone to lose their temper (entrapment?)
Check out the video preview in the upper right, they've put in the "button pushing" segment of the show! anyone who's been through a Comm Course knows the tech — how it can be abused depends on the intention.
Mrs Harb, a scientologist, has warned the Saudi royals that if there is no settlement to her liking she will write a book. This would breach a confidentiality agreement she signed in 2001 when King Fahd paid £5m for her unpublished manuscript and a property in Beirut. "I'm going to keep stirring it until they give me the money - at least £50m," she promised.
Mayor Louis Byrd and council members Fernando Pedroza, Alfreddie Johnson Jr. and Leticia Vasquez were recalled by some 2,300 voters, or about 70% of those who cast ballots in Tuesday's election, according to unofficial results by the Los Angeles registrar-recorder.
The recall comes four months after five current and former council members were charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with using public funds to boost their salaries and pay for personal expenses.
The four recalled council members had tried to block the special election, going as far as firing the city clerk. But a judge and then the state Legislature ordered the election to go forward -- under the supervision of county election officials.
At Los Angeles Sentinel press time an unofficial tally of the recall ballots indicated that the Yes votes carried the day. As a result of the voting results, Lynwood Mayor Louis Byrd, and council members Rev. Alfreddie Johnson, Fernando Pedroza, and Leticia Vasquez will be removed from office.
If you are looking for a tourist town that lives the UFO lifestyle you would be hard pressed to find a town more worthy than Clearwater Florida. Clearwater is to Scientologists what Salt Lake City is to Mormons.
Controversy over the Narconon Chilocco drug-treatment facility near Newkirk and its ties to the Church of Scientology kept Oklahomans in the dark about the religion and its contributions to society, a leading Scientologist says.
Saying the smoke has cleared, the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, recently came to Oklahoma City to discuss and defend the religious philosophy founded 40 years ago by the late L. Ron Hubbard.
Jentzsch said that contrary to the perception held by some people in society and the media, the Church of Scientology is a positive force in communities.
Also typical was the Institutes' response: a sharply worded, eight-page letter from Doman to the association's president that said, in part, "This letter will, by its nature, be a lengthy one. May we offer you a bit of well-intended advice? We recommend that you read it very carefully."
This is how it has gone for years between the Institutes and those offended by its methods and claims. When various professional associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics criticized the Institutes in 1968, the result was a lawsuit. As Philadelphia Magazine prepared a story in 1982 that said some Institutes officials were involved in the Church of Scientology, the editors received "all kinds of pre-publication threats," says editor Ron Javers.
"What they do is harass and sue," says Dr. Edward Zigler, director of Yale University's Center for Child Development. "They have this whole history of litigation against anybody who calls them into question."
The U.S. Tax Court has upheld the removal of tax-exempt status from the Church of Scientology of California -- saying that the church "made a business out of selling religion" -- and ordered it to pay $1.4 million in back taxes for the years 1970 through 1972.
The California organization, the "mother church" of U.S. Scientologists, had challenged the Internal Revenue Service's 1967 removal of the exemption, claiming that the move was politically motivated and unconstitutional.
But in a 222-page ruling handed down here Monday, Judge Samuel B. Sterrett said that while the group was organized to "propagate the faith of Scientology," it had "diverted millions of dollars through a bogus trust fund and a sham corporation" and "conspired for almost a decade" to defraud the U.S. government and thwart federal investigators.