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Florida AG Pam Bondi hosting human rights event at human rights abuser Scientology’s HQ

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UPDATE: Photos from today’s Advanced Org opening in Australia posted below.

Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology social media for us, and this week he spotted a doozy. Take it away, Rod…

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is scheduled to speak at the Fort Harrison Hotel on October 1, to address Scientologists on her efforts curb illegal drug use and human trafficking. Scientologist Steve Sigal announced the event on social media, and said it would be “very theta,” which is a Scientology phrase for having positive life energy. Sigal is a founder of the Clearwater-based marketing company SJS Associates, and was involved in a controversial campaign fundraiser for Bondi at the Fort Harrison in July, 2014.

The October 1 event is being sponsored by Florida Citizens for Social Reform, an IRS-registered non-profit, non-tax exempt social welfare organization co-founded by Steve Sigal’s wife Joanie. Past events by FCSR have promoted the Scientology front groups Foundation for a Drug-Free World and a Narconon-like program to help Gulf War veterans detoxify their bodies.

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Bondi made headlines in June when it was revealed that in 2013 she solicited a $25,000 campaign donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation and then decided not to bring fraud charges against Trump University in her state. Trump subsequently paid a $2,500 penalty to the IRS and admitted that the donation to Bondi’s campaign from a charitable foundation was improper.

But beyond Bondi’s own indelicacies, it’s interesting that she’s going to give her talk on human trafficking at the “spiritual headquarters” of an organization that signs up children as young as six years old to billion-year contracts to work for its “Sea Org” at pennies an hour.

In a forced-abortion lawsuit that’s been dragging on for six years in Los Angeles, for example, plaintiff Laura DeCrescenzo presented evidence, not disputed by Scientology, that at 12 years old, after signing her billion-year contract, she was working 96 hours a week, and not only had no days off but she couldn’t see her own family. Then, at 13, she was moved up to the “adult” schedule of 112 hours a week, again for only pennies an hour.

If Pam Bondi really wants to look into human trafficking, she might talk to some of the Sea Org workers who will be helping to run her event on October 1 about what they’re paid and how long it’s been since they’ve seen their families.

 
Scientology loves to promote “human rights” in order to distract from its own record of child labor and forced abortions, as our second story makes plain. Last weekend in New York the Scientology group Youth for Human Rights held a conference at the United Nations. Young people representing 41 nations applied to attend or speak at the conference. The annual “summit” brings Scientologists together with non-Scientologist “opinion leaders” to promote the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the true nature of Youth for Human Rights is known to the Scientologists, the other participants were never told identity of the sponsor.

 
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a powerful document, adopted in 1948 and describing 30 rights that all humans should have, regardless of gender or national origin. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the Commission on Human Rights that drafted the document, and is seen as the primary force behind it.

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Karel van Oosterom is the Ambassador from the Netherlands to the United Nations. He attended the summit and tweeted photos he took of the proceedings. Mr. van Oosterom did not return phone calls to comment on the event.

 
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Caitlin Wilson is the Deputy Ambassador from Australia to the United Nations. She is seen here posing with Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, the Scientologist founder of Youth for Human Rights. Ms. Wilson did not return calls asking about the event.

 
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An unnamed representative from the Guatemalan mission to the United Nations poses with summit participants.

 
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Erica Rogers was a speaker at the event, is on staff at the Scientology National Affairs Office in Washington, DC, and is a member of Scientology’s secret police, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA).

 
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Sandra Lucas is a public Scientologist in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the founder of the Utah Meth Cops project, which offered the Narconon detox program to police officers who may have come into contact with toxins while raiding drug manufacturing labs.

 
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I spoke with Lonna Pierce, a summit attendee and elementary school librarian from Binghamton, NY.

 
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I have taught the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it’s essentially part of the Common Core for 5th grade. There are 30 rights that are shared by us all because we were born human. This organization has made wonderful teaching materials. I ordered some, and used them. The booklets have been translated into 27 languages. And what happened is these wonderful young people from all over the world came together to represent their nations. I will tell you if these kids are in charge in the future, we’re in good shape. Full of life and passion.

My favorites were three young men from East Timor. What’s happening is that these young people are sharing these booklets in their countries. They are provided for free, and they describe in a very understandable way the human rights in the Declaration. And the new information that I got is that they have been sharing them with police officials, in particular police academies. It was discovered that when people know their human rights they are much less likely to trample on others rights. I thought maybe I can find a connection to my local police academy.

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One man who spoke – Augustine Brian – was brutally beaten in Papua New Guinea by the police. And in that country you don’t get justice, you get revenge. So his family came around and asked what they could do, and he said nothing until I feel better. But the more he thought about it, the more he thought hate is not the solution to hate, and he went online and found these materials from Youth for Human Rights, and sent away for them, and the booklets came all the way to Papua New Guinea. And he brought them to the police, and the police read them, and then apologized to him, and they signed a memorandum of understanding that they would distribute the booklets throughout the country.

All the speakers were outstanding. I heard speakers from Russia, from Jordan, from Saudi Arabia, from Iraq. It was incredible. And they all said here we are in a time of terror. Everybody’s worried, but what can we do? This is something we can do. It’s simple and a matter of education.

Q: Did you attend all three days of the summit?

A: I did not, I was only able to attend two days. The third day was held in Harlem.

Q: Have you participated in any other events with Youth for Human Rights or the Church of Scientology?

A: I have not. Oh, God, no. I have no interest in them. The reason I went is that I received an invitation, and I thought wow, it would would be great to visit the UN.

Q: Was it made plain that the event was sponsored by the Church of Scientology?

A: No, they sponsored a dinner that I didn’t attend because I wasn’t interested in that, I’m an Episcopal. There was nothing said other than that dinner.

Q: The third day was held at the Church of Scientology in Harlem.

A: No, I don’t think so. My understanding it was at some kind of Harlem Arts Center. I didn’t know there was any connection at all. There’s nothing in the materials about that, and I would be disturbed if that were the case, because I don’t want to be a part of that at all.

While she may have been unaware of the Scientology connection, Ms. Pierce makes a lot of good points. Youth for Human Rights materials about the Universal Declaration appear accurate, educational, are provided for free, and are not littered with the controversial teachings of L. Ron Hubbard about drugs, psychiatry or the like. Her dedication to educating children on their human rights is admirable, and she rightly feels the booklets and lesson plans are valuable in her classes.

But what of Scientology’s own record on human rights? It seems fair to examine the 30 rights in the Declaration with how Scientology treats its own members. This list of violations is not intended to be exhaustive. The following slides are taken from Youth for Human Rights class materials.

 
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Modern slavery is usually defined as workers who are not free to leave, and are unpaid or paid no more than subsistence wages. Sea Org members who have told their stories certainly fit this definition. Gary Morehead described in a St. Petersburg Times article how he was involved in forcing more than 75 Scientologists fleeing the organization to return to Scientology’s Gold Base in California. Those who do not face physical restraint are coerced to stay with threats of disconnection from their family members, or a large “freeloader debt” that they would have to repay to Scientology. Sea Org members receive a modest stipend of a few dollars per month, less than subsistence wages.

 
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The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is a cruel, inhuman, and degrading Scientology policy in which Sea Org members are punished for real or imagined misconduct. Members are forced to live in insect or rodent infested sleeping quarters, must wear dirty clothing, eat poor quality food, must run everywhere, and cannot speak to others. Former Scientologist Debbie Cook described how a Sea Org member was forced to clean a bathroom floor with his tongue.

 
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Former member Mike Rinder and others have been forced to run around in a circle for hours in the desert heat.

 
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From at least 2004 to 2009, Scientology maintained “The Hole,” at Gold Base in the squarish buildings you see in the photo above, detaining about 100 top executives in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

 
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Bill Straass, Scott Campbell and Valeska Paris are among those who have been imprisoned on Scientology’s private cruise ship, Freewinds.

 
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Ron Miscavige Sr. and others have described how their mail was read and censored. Scientology once distributed a filter software than prevented members from viewing anything on the Internet containing any one of a forbidden list of words. The policy of Fair Game calls for former members and those who oppose Scientology to have their honor and reputation attacked.

 
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Former Scientologists including as Michael Pattinson, Maria Pia Gardini and Marc Headley have all described having their passports seized by Scientology to prevent their movements.

 
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Freedom of opinion and expression are curtailed in Scientology, as Margery Wakefield described in her book Understanding Scientology. Training Routines and confessionals can have a hypnotic effect, modifying the member’s beliefs and opinions. In a recent article Jon Atack claims that the effect of Scientology is to turn members minds into clones of L. Ron Hubbard.

 
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Sea Org members rarely have more than a few hours per week of time away from work. Scientology orgs are open every day of the year. There are no holidays when orgs are closed for business.

 
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Children in the Sea Org stop attending any kind of school that would be recognized as such outside of Scientology. Once they join the organization, they will read almost nothing that wasn’t written by founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Also, Sea Org members are denied routine medical care. Members who become ill are expected to do a “PTS Handling” to identify the suppressive person in their life that is causing them to be sick or have an accident. Some members are discouraged from taking prescription medicines.

Scientology is spending significant money and resources to develop and distribute teaching tools for human rights activists and educators, but itself violates so many of the human rights in the Universal Declaration.

 
— Rod Keller

 
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Bryan Seymour’s report on Australia’s new ‘Advanced Org’

Our man Down Under, television journalist Bryan Seymour, was on the spot in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood as Scientology leader David Miscavige made the scene to open up a new “Advanced Org” there.

Bryan sent us live reports, which arrived for us here in the middle of the night, so please take a look at our midnight post if you haven’t had a chance to.

Also, Bryan sent us this link to his report of the event, which aired a little before 6 am New York time.

He tells us a longer report, with more of the interview with us, is coming later.

 
UPDATE: Our thanks to Rod Keller for chasing down some snapshots of today’s opening in Chatswood, Australia of Scientology’s new “Advanced Org”…

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 4, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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