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2017-12-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology used to be funat least back in the day when I got involved. Everyone was young and looking to hook up. We'd go dancing at clubs after course. People threw parties in cheap rentals on the weekends. We'd get naked and sit in hot tubs under the stars and if we didn't have to be on course the next day, we'd drink wine and beer.
After a while, so many people were getting married, my significant other and I talked about budgeting money for wedding presents. The OT Levels were pie in the sky, the local Mission was far from ideal but always full, and eventually, we got married, too. A few years later, people started having babies. We may have been poor but times were good.
We're continuing to look back at 2017's most significant stories here at the Underground Bunker and today it's a flashback to October in our annual Scientology year-in-review.
On October 4, we asked a question that caused a stir: Is Scientology's "RPF" a thing of the past? Punishing Sea Org members with the "Rehabilitation Project Force" is legendary, and we've talked to people who were stuck for years on the prison-like detail. But recent defectors tell us that over the past several years, Scientology leader David Miscavige systematically disbanded the RPF in places around the world, complaining that it carried too many Hubbard-era rules and regulations. Sea Org members are still being punished, we're told, but no longer with trappings of the RPF and we credited activists like Mike Rinder for exposing the RPF's legacy of mistreatment.
The next day we provided another excerpt from a 1989 home video made aboard the Freewinds. This time we featured the remarkable OT 8 graduation speech of a woman named Margie Zacks. This is a Scientologist reaching the pinnacle of achievement after years of studying L. Ron Hubbard's "technology." But for many of us, seeing her talk about how she got there was simply sad.
Technology? Bah humbug: "I think we ought to get on with our lives," said Donald Trump on Wednesday, summing up his take on the complex problem of apparently Russian phishing attacks on multiple Democratic party groups during the 2016 election.
As the White House's current resident prepared to impose sanctions on Russia for hacking, Trump said: "I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on."
It's not the first time the president-elect has been stumped by the digital world, like a technophobe who unwrapped a computer-operated nuclear arsenal on Christmas morning. And the trouble isn't that nobody knows exactly what's going on in the "age of computer" it's that technology poses some of the most complex problems in human history to the incoming administration. And its leader is a man who refers to "the cyber" and seems more concerned about the weight of the hacker, or possibly the bed his syntax is mysterious than about who broke into the Democratic National Committee.
Luis and Rocio Garcia have tried again to convince Tampa Federal Judge James Whittemore that Scientology is making it impossible to resolve their allegations of fraud, and they've filed a new motion asking Judge Whittemore to reopen their lawsuit against the church.
What's different this time is that Luis Garcia has detailed in a new affidavit his Kafkaesque attempts to work within Scientology's rules of internal arbitration, which he says is an impossible task. We don't know if this new material will sway Whittemore (he's disregarded similar requests in the past), but as a document, Luis's affidavit describing what it's like to be caught inside Scientology's bizarre "ethics" rules is a useful addition to the historic record.
The Garcias sued the Church of Scientology in 2013, alleging that they'd been defrauded and lied to when they were pressured to donate hundreds of thousands to various church causes. In one memorable example, the California couple say they were convinced to donate $65,000 to pay for a giant Scientology cross that would go on the top of the new "Super Power Building" in Clearwater, Florida. But the church eventually admitted that it had hit up other wealthy members for the same thing.
Scotland's most famous scientologist, John Gourlay, "The Fearless Leader" fails to shatter the protesters and sends out one of his minions to "confront" Hayley Murfin SP, who in turn shatters his delusions.
2015-12-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The cons just keep rolling in. Though they also have an element of armed robbery. You are presented with a unilateral dictate "here is how things are now, and that means you have to turn over more money to us."
This one is a new angle I hadn't seen before.
In "celebration" of the "golden" age of tech, they have issued NEW Clear and OT bracelets "in accordance with LRH's precise instructions." Of course, they cost an arm and a leg. But tough. It's all justified when it is making "planetary clearing a reality."
A lot of our coverage this year was about Scientology's numerous front groups. From Legoland giving the Scientology front Youth for Human Rights $10,000 to play with, to the various disasters of Narconon drug rehabs, Scientology's sneaky "social betterment" groups seemed to make a bigger push than ever to get L. Ron Hubbard's name out to the public in ways that weren't obviously connected to Scientology.
But even with its increased efforts, Scientology can't really hope to become a force in the nation's schools with Applied Scholastics, or really make a dent in addiction treatment with Narconon, or crush the psychiatry industry with the Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR). So what's really going on?
At the Scientology website, the "social betterment" groups are said to be "supported by" the Church of Scientology...
2014-12-30, Charles Rusnell, CBC Investigates, CBC News
Documents obtained by CBC News through freedom of information show Alberta Health Services gave controversial personal development company Landmark Education free rein to operate for more than a year despite complaints from employees.
Bob Duggan We're nearly done with our year-end look back at the most significant stories here in the Underground Bunker.
And now we're looking at October, when we released our biggest investigative story of 2014. But first, there was a mess at PAC base that we needed help understanding...
October began with some surprising changes for Scientology at its Los Angeles headquarters. Former church spokesman Mike Rinder helped us understand what had happened and why a sudden and massive staffing change was further proof that Scientology leader David Miscavige is getting increasingly desperate as his organization dwindles.
2014-12-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I have been accumulating copies of the Valley OTC Minutes.
They never seemed that important, but they are of value in documenting what really happens in these orgs, and what their attention is on. Frankly, they more resemble an old women's knitting circle than the leading lights of the greatest civilizing force on earth....
It's also interesting to note how many ex-SO there are in the tiny number of people that compose these committees.
We're continuing our year in review here at the Underground Bunker and we've reached September and October, when legal matters really came to the fore and sent your proprietor around the country for some eyewitness dramatics!
September started out with yet another surprise: Scientology leader David Miscavige filed a personal declaration in an attempt to get himself removed as a defendant in Monique Rathbun's harassment lawsuit. It had been about 20 years since the last time Miscavige made a similar filing, and it gave us an indication of just how seriously Monique's lawsuit was being taken by the church. A few days later Monique fired back with a declaration by her husband Marty Rathbun, making it clear that they believed Miscavige had lied in his sworn statement.
On September 2, we published one of our longer pieces here at the Bunker this year, an emotional tale about a young Australian couple torn apart by Scientology. Yannus Sufandi asked for the help of several ex-Scientologists to hold an intervention at the home of Tiziano Lugli for his girlfriend, Manuela Oliveira, and we just happened to be there. Last we heard, Manuela was still in Scientology's Sea Org, but had moved to Sydney.
With our year in review finally over, we're left with one last Sunday in 2012, and what would a Sunday be without Funnies?
Our tipsters have been terrific this year, and we're still getting great stuff from them every day. So let's send 2012 out in style by looking at the latest fundraising mailers that Scientology has sent to its members.
Now, if you live in the Los Angeles area and many of the dwindling remainder of Scientologists do then you know all about the Rose Parade, the thing you do your best to wake up for and watch bleary-eyed on your television while fighting a nasty hangover.
2011-12-30, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Our last story of the year will be posted tomorrow morning, when we announce our Commenters of the Year awards.
Along the way, we covered breaking stories, interviewed fascinating people, revealed formerly secret Scientology documents, and tried to put Scientology's various difficulties into perspective.
Some of those stories brought more of you around to take a look than others. After the jump, we'll look at the most popular stories of the year...
2011-12-30, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I have provided a list here with links to each of the top ten most visited posts of 2011, counting down from number ten to number one. If you have a few moments you might want to peruse it. It gives an interesting overview of the past year of activity.
10. A Letter From The San Patricio County Jail. September 17
9. Grant Cordone: Turnaround or Turncoat King. June 20
2010-12-30, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The following lecture passage succinctly differentiates between where the Church of Scientology is headed and where Independent Scientologists are going. It is LRH from History of Dianetics, 28 December 1954:
Phenomenna, Phenomena. Phenomena. Phenomena. They wouldn't have turned up, don't you see, if we hadn't been going in a direction of ability. We're trying to discover ability so, naturally, disabilities announce themselves and all the phenomena there is, actually could be cataloged under disabilities. So you see the direction of research? Do you see why we got someplace in Dianetics and Scientology? We're goin in the opposite direction. We just reverse things. And instead of trying to write down, "The number of insanities are..." (fellow by the name Kraeplin did this) number of insanities are catalog, catalog, catalog, catalog; category, category, category; catalog, catalog, catalog, catalog, category, category, category and unclassified. It's real cute. That's the most enormous list you ever saw in your life.
It didn't get anybody on the road. Why? He was going around looking for disabilities, looking for disabilities, looking for disabilities, looking for more disabilities. And of course he'd find a disability, he'd simply fix on it because that's what a disability does. So research and investigation of disabilities would continually wind people up in trouble and with set ideas with catalogs. It would wind them up with an enormous variety of disabilities, were they able to take their attention off the last disability they'd found. But they don't.
Former Scientology executive are speaking out against the movement's leader, David Miscavige, accusing him of ruling through violence and intimidation.
For at least two years, it was one of the main topics of conversation on the Internet news groups and message groups devoted to exposing Scientology. But nobody was ready to go on the record.
Then in 2008, a handful of senior former members of the movement began speaking out in public to whoever would listen. Their stories were shocking but consistent.
High-level defectors from Scientology are beginning to speak out about the movement's leader, David Miscavige and the beatings they say he hands out to fellow executives.
Jeff Hawkins says he had no idea about David Miscavige's violence until he was himself attacked for the first time in 2002 - and he had been working at the base for more than 10 years.
"People don't say 'Oh did you hear that Miscavige beat up so-and-so?' - it is just not mentioned," he said. It was only once he started attending regular meetings with Miscavige - or DM as he is known - that he says he found out the hard way.
For celebrity member Tom Cruise, Scientology's leader David Miscavige embodies everything that is good about the movement: but some former colleagues insist he has a darker side.
For actor Tom Cruise, Scientology's leader David Miscavige is a shining example of all that is best about the movement: a paragon of compassion, tolerance and intelligence.
In October 2004, at a special event in England, Tom Cruise paid this tribute to Miscavige, Chairman of the Board (COB) of Scientology's Religious Technology Center.
One of the new wave of Scientology defectors describes why he devoted decades of his life to the movement: and why he finally quit.
Jeff Hawkins spent most of his adult life in Scientology before joining the recent wave of defectors from the top echelons of the movement. While he has still has fond memories of his time there, he has no regrets about leaving.
"I got involved in Scientology when I was still quite young," he recalled. "I was living in Southern California and was part of the hippie culture. I was very actively involved in the anti-war movement, and was a voracious reader."
Former residents at Scientology's International Base recall a harsh regime where every aspect of life is tightly controlled.
"I worked for many years for Scientology. Some of it was good, some bad," said Jeff Hawkins. "Then I was transferred to the International Base in Hemet and it went downhill from there."
The International Base, a compound of 500 acres, lies at the base of a range of hills at the north end of the San Jacinto Valley, southern California, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. It is the heart of Scientology's empire.
Four inmates from Eddy County currently undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment at the Second Chance center in Albuquerque will probably have to serve their time in jail if the facility is closed, Carlsbad Magistrate Judge Henry Castaneda said.
"The defendants from Eddy County will have to come back to jail here unless we can find another drug treatment center for them," Castaneda said.
On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that on Friday, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chaves had terminated the city's lease with Second Chance. The article also stated that the rehabilitation center has until Jan. 31 to vacate the facility.
NEW YORK (AP) _ The Church of Scientology paid the Internal Revenue Service $12.5 million as part of a settlement of a long-standing dispute with the tax agency, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
Details of the 1993 settlement, which helped secure the tax-exempt status of the main Scientology church, previously had not been released.
The details included the church's agreement to drop thousands of lawsuits against the IRS and to stop assisting others in other lawsuits against the agency based on claims before the Oct. 1, 1993, settlement date, the Journal said.
1997-12-30, Elizabeth MacDonald, Wall Street Journal
According to a copy of the settlement, details of which have never before been made public, the church also agreed to set up a special "church tax-compliance committee," composed of high-level church officials, to monitor its adherence to the pact and to laws governing nonprofit organizations.
Further, the church agreed to drop thousands of lawsuits filed against the IRS in courts around the country and to stop assisting people or groups suing the agency based upon claims prior to Oct. 1, 1993, the settlement date. Any Scientology member or organization that sues based on those claims could face IRS penalties.
The 1993 agreement was nearly unprecedented and brought an end to an extraordinary battle. Starting in 1967, the IRS had argued that the main Scientology church should lose its tax-exempt status because it was a for-profit business that enriched church officials. The church's response was an all-out attack: filing suits against the IRS, feeding negative stories about the agency to news organizations, and supporting IRS whistle-blowers.
Nordin speculated that it has something to do with a public-access cable show he directs, but in fact, the unamailer's letter states that he chose Nordin and three others because "the cult of scientology needs to be shot down. it is a criminal organization and should be treated as such."
Ironically, Nordin said he's actually a critic of Scientology.
"I guess it shows how good his research is," he said. "He's a bonehead."
Straight Inc.'s drug treatment center for adolescents is having a difficult time settling into its new home in Columbia.
The program continues to run into regulatory troubles with Maryland authorities. It has suffered high staff turnover as a result of its move from Virginia. And Straight Inc. officials are having a hard time finding new clients; the center's enrollment, which stood at 52 clients in July, has dropped to fewer than 40.
Straight Inc. went a couple of days without telephone service earlier this month. An official said a bookkeeping error left a bill unpaid. Service has since been restored.
BOSTON (AP) _ A man has been convicted of trying to force the Church of Scientology to pay $100,000 for bogus information about a forged $1.5 million check on the account of the late church founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
George T. Kattar, 67, of Methuen, was found guilt Monday of one count of extortion, but was acquitted of three counts of wire fraud and one of accepting stolen money. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Feb. 6.
A co-defendant, lawyer Harvey Brower, 49, of Swampscott, was acquitted on all five counts by the U.S. District Court jury.