NEW YORK – Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman is apparently in no rush to go to federal prison for her crimes as a high-ranking member of NXIVM.
The 40-year-old former director of operations for Keith Raniere's cult-like organization is requesting an adjournment of her Jan. 8 sentencing in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
On Wednesday, Bronfman attorney Kathleen Cassidy asked Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis to allow Bronfman to be sentenced between Jan. 27 and March 6. And she asked that the sentencing be on a Friday because fellow Bronfman attorney Mark Geragos will be working on a trial in Utah and has Fridays off in that time frame.
2019-12-18, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It seems the media is becoming more aware of the truth about scientology.
This recent article in the Kansas City Star is not the sort of "goodwill" and "PR area control" scientology was hoping to garner from opening their new "ideal org" and launching into a PR offensive for the holiday season.
The title of the article alone is enough to send shivers down COB's spine: Kansas City's Church of Scientology opens a Winter Wonderland: Is this some ploy?
Monday night, the Washington Post uncorked a stunning investigation based on a whistleblower's confidential report to the IRS. The report, written by a former employee of a subsidiary of the Mormon church, claimed that the church has, in violation of its tax exempt status, amassed a fortune of $100 billion. And instead of making expenditures of that money for charitable purposes, it's been using the money to bolster the church's for-profit enterprises.
We wrote up a quick rundown of the story, and pointed out that the $100 billion represented about $6,667 for each of the 15 million members of the Mormon church. With about $3 billion in reserve, Scientology has a far higher per capita bloat, at about $150,000 per member, assuming a membership of only about 20,000. Will the IRS do anything about either of these organizations amassing such huge fortunes, violating their tax exempt status? For more thoughts on the Washington Post's bombshell, Jeffrey Augustine penned this piece for us.
Situated on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Ensign Peak is considered a sacred site by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A few days after arriving in Salt Lake, Brigham Young and other early LDS leaders "raised an ensign to the nations" to signify that this land, its people, and their church would become a beacon unto the nations. A stone monument was erected atop Ensign Peak to signify this event in Mormon history.
We have quite a two-fer today, campers. December 18 is an anniversary of some import, which we describe in our second item (and happy birthday, Church of Scientology!). But it's also the day that Leah Remini is finally taking the story of Shelly Miscavige head-on.
You will remember that this website, in July 2013, broke the news that Leah Remini had defected from Scientology after some 35 years in the church. What started her on her path out? In 2006, at the wedding in Rome of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Leah noticed that Scientology leader David Miscavige was there without his wife Shelly, whom Leah had long considered a friend.
Where was Shelly? When Leah dared to bring it up, then-spokesman Tommy Davis told her she didn't have "the fucking rank" to even ask the question.
From the RTÉ Prime Time blog, by Rita O'Reilly:
Scientology has tried to make it big in Ireland before, but now it's back with a multi-million euro investment in three new facilities – one around the corner from Government Buildings in Dublin's Merrion Square, another in the suburb of Firhouse, and a third, through its affiliated Narconon group, in Ballivor, County Meath.
It's an expensive return, but it's not been a popular one, and indeed, it's been marked by controversy.
The group's history in Florida appears to stretch back more than a decade. In 2005, the state Senate appropriated $500,000 for a "Criminon Offender Program," but that was vetoed by then Governor Jeb Bush, according to legislative records.
The group has ramped up its presence in Florida prisons since opening an office in Clearwater, where the Church of Scientology is headquartered. At the same time, Criminon has been issuing more press releases weighing in on the ongoing challenges facing the state prison system.
Glady, the department's communications director, said she was not aware of the group operating on site in prisons other than Everglades Correctional.
After the Miami Herald exposed a concerning culture of sexual abuse and extortion at Lowell Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Ocala, Criminon put out a press release about a seminar held there.
2018-12-18, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Frequent commenter Brian Thomas Lambert put together some thoughts about the Tone Scale and forwarded them to me. I asked him to write an introduction to himself:
I've been blogging for a few years now. I started Scientology in 1971. The Incredible Stringband, an all Scientology music group, influenced my joining as I was a fan. I ended up marrying one of the ladies in the group named Likky. How the church treated her with callous abuse while she was going crazy on OT3x was instrumental in my leaving in 82.
I was a Sea Org member at FOLOEUS, started at the Geltman mission in NYC with Chick Corea and Stanley Clark, moved to LA in 76.
2017-12-18, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Carolers hoping to snare some unsuspecting victims in the Clearwater scientology "info center"
Another Freudian slip.
This is a couple of weeks old. Scientology put out a press release about their wonderful goodwill gesture of caroling for Christmas.
Valeska Paris "joined" the Cadet Org of Scientology at six years of age. Her younger sister and brother were also dumped at the Cadet Org when their father joined Scientology's Sea Org. The Cadet Org was at Stonesland, a hellish old building in England where the children of Sea Org were warehoused. Malnourished in filthy conditions, the children had to steal food, had no toilet paper or soap, and lived in abject poverty. This deprivation was created purposely by the wealthy Church of Scientology and its leader L. Ron Hubbard who at T-Bone steak on his private ship while children starved, had no medical or dental care, and wore rags.
New rules implemented on Twitter Monday have led to the suspensions of accounts belonging to prominent neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right extremists.
Jayda Fransen, a leader of Britain First, a virulently anti-Muslim extremist group in the United Kingdom, got booted off the social media network Monday. Fransen gained notoriety in the United States late last month when President Donald Trump retweeted her three times.
Other accounts kicked off Twitter include those belonging to Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist magazine American Renaissance (which also had its verified account closed); Brad Griffin, aka Hunter Wallace, of League of The South, who helped organize a recent White Lives Matter rally in Tennessee; Jeff Schoep, head of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group; Vanguard America, the white nationalist group to which James Alex Fields Jr., who drove his car through protesters in Charlottesville, belonged; Michael Hill, another leader in League of the South; the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist group whose co-founder was the recent subject of a sympathetic New York Times profile; Generation Identify, a European white "identitarian" group; the American Nazi Party; the English Defense League, an anti-Muslim group; and the Canadian chapter of the Jewish Defense League, a violent far-right and pro-Israel group.
Chris Tringali is the youngest of five children. His father was a chiropractor and high school teacher on Long Island and was well known in the community around Central Islip.
The three oldest kids were successes as well, but Chris and his brother Matt struggled. In high school, Chris turned to drugs and ran away from home a few times. He got married young and it was another struggle. He hated the work he was doing in construction.
In order to get his life in order, Chris became devoutly Christian and entered a couple of different drug abuse recovery programs. And then he happened to befriend a man who owned a private investigations firm, who offered him a job. Although Chris had no background in law enforcement, he quickly became adept at the PI work, doing investigations for insurance cases.
2016-12-18, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions left to me in the comments section of my Q&A episodes or sent by email to AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) Question: I have heard from you and others that when Scientology is trying to sell people on the cult they say there is no problem with already being religious. That you can be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or anything and still join Scientology, that the religions will not conflict. This is obviously not true, especially with the upper levels beliefs on Jesus. So I have a couple of questions relating to that. When and how does the switch happen? When are people no longer allowed to participate in their old religion and how does Scientology get them to quit? Have you ever witnessed or hard about a hardcore member of another religion giving it up for Scientology or is it usually people already dissatisfied with their current religion. I am curious because the promise of keeping your current faith seems like it would be a major selling point for some but I assume Scientology has to quickly break that promises and I would think that could be tricky to do with many people. Thanks in advance for your answer.
(2) Hi Chris, I know that the cult opens and reads the mail of its members. That is a federal offense. How do they get around that?
2016-12-18, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
L. Ron Hubbard regularly bandied about the concept of exteriorization. He defined "going exterior" as, "the fellow would just move out, away from the body and be aware of himself as independent of a body but still able to control and handle the body."
He defined exteriorization as, 1. "the state of the thetan, the individual himself, being outside this body. When this is done, the person achieves a certainty that he is himself and not his body;" and 2. "the phenomenon of being in a position or space dependent upon only one's consideration, able to view from that space the body and the room as it is. That is exteriorization. One can view the body or control the body from a distance."
One of the allures of LRH was how he made the extraordinary seem so simple—and so possible to attain. And so Western. You didn't have to spend six years on a mountain top in Tibet. You just plunked down your cash and paid for your salvation the good old American way. "Exteriorization? Not a problem! Just decide to move out of your body and, bingo! It's as simple as that. Nothing could be more natural. I've been doing it for years. Not a big deal, really. It's just a decision."
Rod Keller is back, keeping an eye on Scientology's social media effort and front groups. This week, he's got another hot one...
In September, Scientology launched a new website, ScientologyReligion.org, "A Comprehensive Overview of the Background, Theology and Religious Practice of The Scientology Religion." Its purpose is to "safepoint" Scientology, a policy created by founder L. Ron Hubbard to garner allies that would create a safe space for expansion, to protect the organization against prosecution or government restrictions.
The new website features numerous documents arguing that Scientology is a legitimate religion, and that its "religious freedom" is threatened. The site also has a blog. One of the recent entries celebrates President Obama signing the International Religious Freedom Act into law, as predicted in last Sunday's article.
(A publicity photo from World Literacy Crusade about its clinic. )
Yesterday, we revealed that the operators of a Scientology rehab clinic in Compton, California are facing felony charges for defrauding the state Medi-Cal program. The charges come after an investigation by the state's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse which has lasted more than a year and also caught up three prominent educators in the Compton Unified School District, who lost their jobs as a result.
The state agency is alleging that the educators supplied students to the clinic (including the members of a legendary football program), where they were put through Scientology exercises — the same courses that beginning church members go through. The clinic then billed Medi-Cal as though the students had actually received counseling for drug addiction. (The students never knew they were part of a scheme to defraud the state.)
New Zealand this month recognized the group as suitable to officiate weddings. Australian authorities, meanwhile, have so far rejected their efforts to register as a nonprofit religious organization.
Adherents say there's a beer volcano in heaven and wear upside-down colanders on their heads for religious purposes. Their only dogma? There is no dogma.
But behind their silliness, Pastafarians have a serious message about the separation of church and state. The group was formed in 2005 as a protest against efforts in Kansas public schools to teach not only evolution but also "intelligent design" — the idea that the universe must have had a creator.
At 6 o'clock on Christmas Eve, 1954, a small group of people gathered on the street outside Dorothy Martin's home in Oak Park, Illinois, singing Christmas carols and waiting. But this was no symbolic vigil; they weren't waiting for the birth of baby Jesus. They were waiting to depart the Earth, and 200 more people had come to watch them wait.
A day earlier, Martin had received a message telling her the group was to wait at that place, at that time, for a flying saucer to land. They waited for 20 minutes for the "spacemen" to pick them up, as the message had promised. When none arrived, they went back inside.
This wasn't the first time they were disappointed. It was the fourth.
2015-12-18, Danielle E. Gaines, Frederick News-Post
In new court filings, a company affiliated with the Church of Scientology that wants to build a substance abuse treatment center on Catoctin Mountain said the Frederick County Council voted against the site's application for historic designation because of religious animosity.
Social Betterment Properties International, a company acting as a real estate arm of the Church of Scientology, filed an application with Frederick County to have a property known as Trout Run added to the county's Register of Historic Places. A zoning loophole would have allowed a Narconon treatment center to operate there if the site was deemed historic.
In October, Rick's book, Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out, hit Amazon, but he's been unable to do any publicity about it until this week. We were fortunate enough to get to read it before publication, and we learned even more about the kind of work Rick does, helping families convince loved ones to leave destructive groups. He specializes in Bible-based groups, but he's also worked with Scientologists, as well as people who got involved in groups that don't call themselves churches.
The book goes into detail about methods that Ross uses to penetrate the indoctrination that members of Scientology and other groups experience. And along the way, we get a glimpse of the twists and turns his career has taken over the past 30 years.
The public image and public relations of the Church of Scientology has never been at such a low point as it is now. There are reasons for this and in this video I break down what some of those reasons are. Scientology is literally collapsing right before our eyes and its leader, David Miscavige, is not dealing with this in any kind of effective or reasonable manner.
Check out more articles and videos about this at my blog: http://mncriticalthinking.com.
2013-12-18, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is the state of "Ideal Orgs" in the UK.
The guy in charge of "Ideal Orgs" is begging for money to set up a Purif in HAPI. Could it really be true that in more than 30 YEARS AFTER the release of the Purif, this org, still in the same building they OWN since 1968 STILL has no sauna? This is straight up and vertical expansion in action.
And they are so hard up for donators in the UK they are trying to shame people into "completing before the end of the year" by announcing their partial donation and letting everyone know they will be the next "Humanitarian".
Sixty years ago on this date in Camden, New Jersey, the first "Church of Scientology" corporation came into existence with the signing of a document by six individuals, including L. Ron Hubbard and his son Nibs (L. Ron Hubbard Jr.).
In fact, three entities were born on that day: the Church of American Science, the Church of Scientology, and the Church of Spiritual Engineering. But you know L. Ron Hubbard — he was a marketer, if nothing else.
The following April, a newsletter based in Phoenix first appeared, calling itself The Aberree. It turned out to be an irrepressible publication that lasted another 11 years, and reflected the sense of humor that still existed in early Scientology.
2013-12-18, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The following issue was seized from church of Scientology files by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1977. Since the eighties corporate Scientology has argued that it was unfair to talk about this issue because it was only ever held in practice in the Guardians Office (GO), which David Miscavige allegedly disbanded.
The Guardians Office Issue:
INTELLIGENCE SPECIALIST TRAINING ROUTINE – TR L
2012-12-18, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Joel Sappell was co-author of one of the most extensive newspaper series on Scientology in the nineteen eighties. He visited me a couple months ago to investigate the inside story of Scientology Inc.'s reaction to his 1980's investigation.
While he obsesses with attempting to exact a confession for something that simply did not happen, the story does contribute an interesting perspective on the history of corporate Scientology.
The Tip of the Spear, Los Angeles Magazine.
Much of our coverage of Scientology in the past three years has focused on former church executive Marty Rathbun, and for good reason.
Rathbun is the most visible member of an "independence movement" that is splitting Scientology apart. He has participated in or masterminded several of the biggest legal and media offensives against church leader David Miscavige. And he has also been the target of some of the strangest and most outrageous retaliation in the history of Scientology's well-earned reputation for vengeance.
But, as we've pointed out many times, there is an essential contradiction in Rathbun's current role as the Church of Scientology's biggest critic: Before he was the target of the church's legendary retaliation machine, he was the man at its helm.
In the mid-1980s, journalist Joel Sappell and a colleague began a five-year examination of the Church of Scientology that would ultimately produce a 24-article series. It would also change Sappell's life in ways both mystifying and unnerving. Decades later the onetime investigative reporter investigates what happened to him.
2011-12-18, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology doesn't really have a Sunday service. They like to say that they do, because they crave mainstream acceptance. But unless Xenu rested after six days and L. Ron Hubbard just forgot to mention it, there's no reason for Scientologists to treat Sunday any differently than every other day of coursework, detoxes, fundraising, and generally clearing the planet.
So here at the Voice, we've come up with a Scientology Sunday tradition of our own, and we call it Sunday Funnies! Our sources regularly send us Scientology's wacky and tacky fundraising mailers, and each week we choose three of them to gaze upon, hoping that it inspires you to wax eloquent in our comments section. So here we go...
We have a youth theme this week. First up, a come-on for the Commodore's Messenger Service, which started out in the late 1960s with the teenagers L. Ron Hubbard had running around the ship Apollo doing his errands. On Scientology's current cruise ship, the Freewinds, young CMOs enjoy authority beyond their years, as we learned in the story of Ramana Dienes-Browning recently.
2011-12-18, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
People are zealous for a cause when they are not quite positive that it is true.
- Bertrand Russell
In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds-that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous. - Robert H Jackson (US Supreme Court Justice 1941-1954)
2010-12-18, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
A protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a criminal group or individual coerces other less powerful entities to pay money, allegedly for protection services against external threats (usually violence or property damage, and sometimes perpetrated by the racketeers themselves).
I cannot think of a better term to describe Miscavige's standard operating procedure. Inside, the apparent aim - like run of the mill organized crime - is money. But, Miscavige's operation is far more insidious than the mafia. He also coerces blind, ignoratant loyalty. And when one finally decides to stop playing the ponzi scheme mark, and exerts some outside independence, his racket steps it up a few notches with the sole aim of extorting fear and consequent silence.
Everything seemed to be going great. Sure, Stein had endured seeing and hearing plenty of critics and outsiders mock and deride her adopted church over the years -- saying it was a glorified cult, that it brainwashed its members and made it extremely difficult for members to leave the faith, and that its courses charged members up to tens of thousands of dollars at a time for tuition before revealing that much of its deepest beliefs are rooted in tales of alien earth visits and intergalactic warfare -- but they faded away. The church has made special effort to blend into the societal mainstream since 1993, when it finally achieved tax-exempt status as a nonprofit religion after decades of battles with the IRS.
A controversial Albuquerque rehabilitation center is struggling with finances, and the secure facility for drug and alcohol offenders could be in violation of the law that allowed it to open by housing overf low prisoners from a county jail .
The Second Chance Center uses massage, natural diet, saunas, and some training manuals based on criminal justice research done by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to detoxify and rehabilitate drug offenders.
But the program is facing more than the criticism and skepticism aimed at it from the time it opened in 2006.
A Tom Cruise bio is about to drop upon us. St. Martin's Press is thrilled. Tom Cruise is maybe less thrilled. The thing is unauthorized. Also possibly unwanted and unappreciated. In fact, its title is "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography."
"His lifestyle so far exceeds anyone else's. He had his own personal staff to handle his food and his room and his clothes and his ironing and his dogs," she said. "His uniforms were specially tailored, and he had, like, Egyptian cotton shirts, special pants, special shoes, special everything. And it was all of the highest quality."
Although Hines, Britt and other ex-members describe Miscavige as extremely demanding of those under his command, they say he treated Cruise "like a king." Among other things, Britt said, Miscavige and his wife attended the star's 1990 wedding to Kidman in Colorado and then followed up with frequent gifts.
"They don't do that for every celebrity," she said. "I remember one time I had to go pick up one of those big fancy picnic baskets and china and silver and take it out to Burbank to Tom's pilot. I even took pictures of it so Dave and his wife could see I took it out to the plane."
When a mysterious buyer expressed interest in the old, bankrupt Gilman Hot Springs resort in 1978, Richard J. Hoag thought it might be a group of expatriates from Rhodesia. Others whispered that maybe the Mafia or the Moonies were moving onto the 500-acre property near Hemet.
Only much later did anyone learn that the buyer -- which paid $2.78 million and went by the names Scottish Highland Quietude Society and Western States Scientific Assn. -- was really the Church of Scientology.
The vast majority of Scientologists train at the church's better-known facilities, including those in Hollywood and Clearwater, Fla. Cruise also has trained at those locations, but for much of his studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he headed to Gilman Hot Springs.
He stayed for weeks at a time, arriving by car or helicopter, according to former Scientologists who saw him there on repeated occasions. The former resort, 90 miles east of Los Angeles, was an ideal place for Cruise to get out of the spotlight while focusing on his Scientology training, former members say.
It is described by former members as the church's international nerve center, whose barbed-wired perimeter and driveways are monitored by video cameras and motion sensors. Some also remember a perch high in the hills, dubbed "Eagle," where staff members with telescopes jotted down license plate numbers of any vehicle that lingered too long near the compound.
Like the previous owners, the church also has used the property as a sanctuary for its own stable of stars. It is here, ex-members say, that Hollywood's most bankable actor, Tom Cruise, was assiduously courted for the cause by Scientology's most powerful leader, David Miscavige.
Scientology has long recruited Hollywood luminaries. But the close friendship of these two men for nearly 20 years and their mutual devotion to Hubbard help explain Cruise's transformation from just another celebrity adherent into the public face of the church.
The bond between the star and his spiritual leader was evident last year when the two traded effusive words and crisp salutes at a Scientology gala in England. Calling Cruise "the most dedicated Scientologist I know," Miscavige presented him with the church's first Freedom Medal of Valor.
BONN, GERMANY BONN, Germany (AP) _ Germany created a government office Wednesday to coordinate its fight against the Church of Scientology and to keep people who are affiliated with the group out of key public jobs.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced the move after meeting with governors of Germany's 16 states, some of whom have been pressing for tougher measures against the U.S.-based group.
Federal and state governments will work together to try to keep companies and people with links to Scientology away from jobs involving teaching and counseling, Kohl said in a statement.
An attorney for Narconon Chilocco plans to file an appeal this week in Kay County protesting the state Mental Health Board's denial of certification for the treatment center.
Attorney Harry Woods Jr. of Oklahoma City said Monday he will ask Kay County District Court to allow the center to keep treating clients while the appeal is resolved, which could take up to three years.
One of last year's solid successes in the know-thyself field, The Mature Mind, picked up steam in 1950 and remained a bestseller all year. It gave way, finally, to Dianetics, a gelatinous porridge of poor man's psychoanalysis which was originally dished out, appropriately enough, in Astounding Science Fiction. Equally astounding, and to many critics equally fictitious, was Immanuel Velikovsky's pseudo-scientific Worlds in Collision, an explanation of mythological and Old Testament miracles that turned academic scientists from coast to coast purple with wrath. It made bestseller lists along with Gayelord Hauser's irresistible promise, Look Younger, Live Longer (by eating vegetables, yogurt, etc.).