Two years ago today, we switched on the circuits here in our underground bunker. The cats have been especially needy this week, anticipating our anniversary, and we made sure and stocked up on kibble and booze for today’s celebration.
For those of you who have been with us since the start — and many of you who were with us earlier, during our days at The Village Voice (2007-2012) or even before that, at New Times LA (1999-2002; Tory Christman and Mark Ebner and Mark Bunker, among others) or even a few of you who stretch all the way back to the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999; Rick Ross and Jeff Jacobsen, for example) — we humbly thank you for putting up with our adventures into the weird world of Scientology for so long.
So let’s kick off Year Three in the Bunker!
First up, before we get to this week’s Sunday Funnies, we asked Jonny Jacobsen about a raid that happened Thursday at the Scientology org in St. Petersburg, Russia. We heard about the raid early Friday afternoon, but our Russian translator cautioned us to be careful with the story. Our translator had concerns about the media organization reporting it, and said the involvement of the church itself was unclear.
So while the story came out on WWP yesterday, we waited and asked our man in Europe, Jonny Jacobsen, to make a quick study of what was going on. We’re glad we waited. Here’s what he sent us.
I have mixed feelings about this one.
So far as I can tell, Interior Ministry officers raided Scientology’s St Petersburg offices on Thursday looking for evidence on the Olympus property development business run by Scientologists Catherine and Michael Zaborsky.
Earlier this month fraud charges had been filed against Catherine Zaborsky after clients complained that the company had failed to deliver on promised property developments.
Is it just a coincidence that the European Court of Human Rights is about to hear a case on Russia’s failure to recognise The Church of Scientology in St Petersburg as a religion?
Here’s the relevant extract from page five of a recent ECHR press statement setting out forthcoming judgments:
Church of Scientology of St Petersburg and Others v. Russia (no. 47191/06)
The applicants in this case are the Church of Scientology of St Petersburg, an unincorporated group of Russian citizens formed for the collective study of Scientology, and six members of this group: Galina Shurinova, Nadezhda Shchemeleva, Anastasiya Terentyeva, Ivan Matsitskiy, Yuliya Bryntseva, and Galina Frolova, Russian nationals, born in 1954, 1955, 1979, 1975, 1977, and 1955 respectively. The case concerns their complaint about the authorities refusing to register their Scientology group as a legal-entity.
Between March 1995 and August 2003 the applicants’ Scientology group, led by Ms Shurinova since the late 1980s, submitted six applications for registration. The registration authorities rejected all their applications, each time citing new grounds for their refusal. The most recent refusal referred in particular to the alleged unreliability of a document confirming that the group had been in existence for 15 years, a legal requirement under Russian law for any new religious group to be registered. In October 2003 the applicants challenged the refusals in court and, in December 2005, the St. Petersburg District Court held that the refusal to register their group as a legal entity had been lawful, citing defects in the document confirming the existence of the religious group for 15 years.
This judgment was upheld on appeal in May 2006.
Relying in particular on Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) interpreted in the light of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), the Scientology group complain that the decisions refusing to register them as a legal entity were arbitrary.
Back in 2007, the ECHR ruled that Russia had violated Scientology’s rights for failing to let the movement’s Moscow branch operate as a religion — and that case looks very similar to the summary of the St. Petersburg case about to come before the court.
So are the bad guys the Scientologists, who are ideologically committed to the notion that the end justifies the means; that it is acceptable to make money for the movement by any means necessary?
Or are real villains of the piece the Russian authorities?
For years now, they have been cracking down on Scientology and anyone else who doesn’t fit into the New Model Russia — again, by any means necessary.
It’s difficult to know who to dislike more.
The ECHR ruling in this latest case is expected this coming Thursday, according to the court’s statement.
— Jonny J.
We’ll have our Russian language friends keep an eye on the situation, and we’re grateful to Jonny to so quickly provide us with a preliminary look at this dispute — which appears messy, at best.
Now, let’s get on to our Sunday funnies!
You may remember the recent brochure Scientology put together boasting that it was about to unleash a television tsunami that would be magnitudes greater than any publicity campaign the church has ever produced. Naturally, we’ve wondered what “Scientology TV” would look like since David Miscavige picked up the KCET TV studios in LA. Well, could it be that Scientology is starting a soft launch — in Melbourne, Australia of all places?
Yesterday, Melbourne resident Michael Moore watched the debut of this fledgling effort, and posted his impressions to Facebook:
Started right in with a young Australian girl telling how she is winning with Scientology for about 5 minutes. This was followed by definition of ‘Thetan’ and a very brief summary of the parts of man, then a breakdown of the 8 Dynamics. This was the Australian Section. This was followed by a breakdown of the Admin Scale with dramatizations of the major points. This was evidently a US production slotted in and might have even come from a US video on the subject.
This was followed by a short piece on PR. I had to laugh as the data presented was right out of policy letters but not what the church actually uses. At the end there was a young Australian male explaining how Scientology has helped him. Noted was the Australian sections at the beginning and end was filmed in the Local Melbourne Church. It was a slick presentation and although some quotes by LRH were used, there was no acknowledgement of LRH or of source and no pictures of LRH. The closest to source was a background image of ‘L. Ron Hubbard‘ shown during the young man’s talk. I wondered how come the Church managed to get a half hour (less ads and sponsors) slot on community TV but this was followed by a Greek Orthodox program and possibly others. I finally worked out that as the current Federal Government is trying to get community TV disbanded so they can sell the wavelengths for money to other commercial stations, it is likely CTV are accepting ANY religious programs to boost their importance in the community and garner support for community TV, hence the willingness to accept what even here is a controversial church.
What, no LRH? Sacrilege!
Sounds like the perfect antidote to insomnia, to us.
Can any of our antipodean readers figure out how big of a check Mr. Ripley had to pay to make “Continental Emerald Humanitarian”?
Ever wonder what the hour-by-hour schedule was for a weekend Ideal Org conference? Probably not, but here you go anyway…
The Book-a-thon is on! And Dianetics is going like hotcakes.
Last week, there was yet another fundraiser for the San Fernando Valley org, and here are the results. As Mike Rinder pointed out over at his blog, if that crowd at the end is all they could pull together for a united Los Angeles area alliance — a geographical area with the greatest concentration of Scientologists in the world — then the end days really do seem upon us.
Is there trick or treating going on? If someone were to show up in, say, a Guy Fawkes mask, would they get a trick or a treat?
We couldn’t pass this one by. It’s not every day we get a flier from the Las Vegas Celebrity Center, which brings to mind its most famous staffer, ever.
Remember Mary? We’ve enjoyed her antics as one of the “Valley girls” trying desperately to raise money for the Ideal Org there. Is it just us, or is the passive-aggressive nature of this testimonial just off the charts?
We’ve heard Minty Alexander’s name occasionally over the years, but we’d appreciate it if one of our oldtimers let everyone in on her 411.
Last week, we wondered how Fearless Leader had voted in the Scotland independence referendum, and this week he’s saying — nae gonna tell, laddy! Oh, that rogue.
Oh yeah, this is just what your family and friends want to hear — how they can get back on the Bridge. We can imagine how that’s going to go over.
WHOA! Who is the 4th Sea Org member ever? Come on, oldtimers, fill us in! And he or she is going to talk about OT III! Won’t everyone in the room get pneumonia and die? (Curious about Ron’s Journal 67? We included all 40 minutes of it in a post we did with Jon Atack more than a year ago.)
Steve is the man in Philly.
For these next two fliers, have you noticed that some of the events have been fancified, with mere participation costing $100? Is this because too many people were bolting from events without even donating that much?
And finally, we’ll end this party with words from the Great Man himself. This is one of those quotes you just want to frame and put on the wall.
Wow, we really had a fun time putting together this week’s Funnies. We want to give a special thanks not only to our great tipsters, who have been so generous over the last two years, but also to Scott Pilutik, our attorney and webmaster, for keeping us from freaking out when technical problems cropped up from time to time.
Thanks to all of our readers for making the Bunker a thriving, living community.
Nanette Asimov on Jamie DeWolf: Superb!
What a great piece Nanette Asimov has written for the San Francisco Chronicle about a guy we’ve been predicting for years was going to blow up in a big way, L. Ron Hubbard’s great-grandson, Jamie DeWolf.
Nanette — niece to the great science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov — is responsible for one of the best Scientology exposes of all time, a 2004 series that convinced the State of California to rethink its connection to Narconon, Scientology’s deceptive drug rehab network. And she’s in great form here, with a sensitive and thorough portrait of the very talented man we’ve been getting to know.
Jamie is a star. And we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Posted by Tony Ortega on September 28, 2014 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49