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May 31, 2008

UN emphasizes importance of women\’s health in Africa

Filed under: Africa,Archived,Asia,Health,Japan,United Nations — admin @ 5:00 am

UN emphasizes importance of women’s health in Africa

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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The United Nations (UNFPA) organization United Nations Population Fund emphasized the importance of women’s health in Africa at the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). Priorities of the conference include economic growth, peace and democracy and climate change. The three-day conference which ended Friday included representatives from over 80 countries.

Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda
Image: United States Department of State.

At the conference in Yokohama, Japan, over 40 heads of State agreed on health priorities adopted at the end of the three-day summit. The theme of the conference was “Towards a vibrant Africa: A continent of hope and opportunity”, and approximately 86 countries were represented, as well as international organizations. The Yokohama Action Plan prioritizes universal access to reproductive health services and an increase in the number of African women who give birth with skilled assistance.

Japanese Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda announced steps which would be taken by his country to further health conditions in Africa, including: increasing funding to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, training 100,000 African health workers, and doubling the country’s bilateral development assistance to Africa by 2012. “In the future, Africa will become a powerful engine driving the growth of the world,” said Mr. Fukuda at the start of the conference.

The Prime Minister said Japan would offer up to US$4 billion in loans to African countries to go towards agriculture and infrastructure. He announced the formation of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation Facility for African Investment, which will provide $2.5 billion in financial assistance.

Cquote1.svg Reducing maternal mortality lies at the heart of implementation to achieve all the other goals. Cquote2.svg

—Asha-Rose Migiro

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro cited priority 5 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth as a serious challenge. “Reducing maternal mortality lies at the heart of implementation to achieve all the other goals,” said Migiro.

Cquote1.svg …preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth – is generating the least resources and lagging the furthest behind. And African women are paying the price. Cquote2.svg

—Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid told conference participants that women’s health in Africa should be made a priority. “Of all the Millennium Development Goals, goal number five – preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth – is generating the least resources and lagging the furthest behind. And African women are paying the price,” she said. Obaid urged world leaders “to make the health of women a political and development priority”.

TICAD holds summits every five years, and is a joint program between Japan and the United Nations Development Programme. Japan will report the conference results at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in Tokyo in July, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Fukuda.



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TACA Airlines Flight 390 crashes in Honduras

TACA Airlines Flight 390 crashes in Honduras

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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View of Toncontín International Airport in Tegucigalpa
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Five people were killed and many others injured after Flight 390 of TACA airlines overran the runway at the Toncontín International Airport in Tegucigalpa. The Airbus 320 held dozens of people on board including both passengers and crew, although various accounts are inconsistently reporting occupant numbers. Flight 390 began in San Salvador, El Salvador and just departed its intermediate stop at Tegucigalpa before it was to continue towards Miami, United States.

The plane fell to the city streets while approaching the runway at approximately 1600 UTC (10 am local time). The accident occurred in the midst of bad weather from tropical storm “Alma”. Among the casualties confirmed are the president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, Harry Brautigam.

Airport Closure

According to statements by the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, after the accident the airport would be closed and its flights rerouted through the military-operated Soto Cano Air Base, formerly known as Palmerola Air Base.



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Space Shuttle Discovery launches on mission STS-124

Space Shuttle Discovery launches on mission STS-124

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Discovery lifts off to begin STS-124

Space Shuttle Discovery has successfully launched from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, beginning mission STS-124. Discovery will deliver the main pressurised module of the Japanese Experiment Module to the International Space Station. Lift-off occurred at 21:02:12 GMT this evening, with the ascent to an initial sub-orbital trajectory lasting approximately eight and a half minutes. Orbital insertion occurred shortly afterwards, with a circularisation burn which concluded at 21:42 GMT.

This is the third Space Shuttle mission of 2008. STS-124 is the second of three missions to assemble the Japanese Experiment Module, also known as Kibo. The JEM Pressurised Module (JEM PM or JPM) is the largest laboratory module of the International Space Station, and one of the largest payloads ever launched by the Space Shuttle. The main Japanese robot arm, or RMS, will also be launched on this mission. Discovery’s mission is scheduled to last for fourteen days, however it can be extended by two days if necessary. Three spacewalks, or EVAs, are planned to be conducted.

The crew of STS-124

STS-124 has a crew of seven astronauts; Mission Commander Mark E. Kelly, Pilot Kenneth Ham, Mission specialists Karen L. Nyberg, Ronald J. Garan, Michael E. Fossum and Akihiko Hoshide, and Expedition 17 crewmember Gregory Chamitoff. All crewmembers are American, except Hoshide, who is Japanese. The astronauts were awoken at 11:30 GMT on launch day, and began preparations for their launch. This is the first spaceflight for Ham, Nyberg, Garan, Hoshide and Chamitoff, the second for Fossum, and the third for Kelly. The launch coincides with Kelly’s father’s birthday.

Preparations for launch had been underway for several months. The External Tank arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in late March. Following tests in a checkout cell, it was mated with two solid rocket boosters which had been assembled on a Mobile Launch Platform. Discovery was then rolled from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building for mating with the External Tank and boosters. Rollover occurred in late April, and was followed by rollout to the launch pad about a week later.

The JEM Pressurised Module

The Kibo pressurised module arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in May 2003 by ship. It was then moved to the Space Station Processing Facility. Electrical interface tests with the Harmony node were conducted in August 2003. At the end of April 2008, the module was placed in a transportation canister, and moved to the launch pad. The payload arrived at the launch pad about a week ahead of the Shuttle. Once Discovery arrived at the launch pad, the module was placed into Discovery’s payload bay. Owing to the size of the payload, there was no room in Discovery’s’ payload bay for the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), a safety device used primarily to inspect the Shuttle Orbiter’s heat shield. As a result of this, Endeavour left its OBSS at the International Space Station, during the last Shuttle Mission, STS-123. Discovery’s crew will collect this during an EVA.

Fueling of Discovery’s External Tank in preparation for launch began at 11:50 GMT. By 12:50, it had been confirmed that initial tests on Engine Cutoff (ECO) sensors in the External Tank had been conducted successfully. ECO sensor failures had caused a number of delays to recent Shuttle launch attempts, and STS-124 is the first mission to use a modified tank, which is intended to eliminate such faults. At the time at which tanking began, weather forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at the scheduled launch time. Fuelling was completed, and topping up of cryogenic propellant began, at 15:36. In addition to the ECO sensor modifications, this was the first mission to use an External Tank manufactured after the Columbia accident in 2003, and therefore the first tank to have all safety enhancements built into it, rather than retrofitted.

Discovery begins its ascent to orbit

The terminal countdown resumed after a planned hold at T-3 hours, at 17:07 GMT. Crew walkout from the Operations and Checkout building at the Kennedy Space Center occurred at 17:12. Following walkout, the crew boarded a bus known as the “astrovan”, which was used to transport them to the launch pad. The crew arrived at the launch pad at 17:31, and began boarding Discovery at 17:38. As Mission Commander, Mark Kelly was the first to board the orbiter. He was followed by Chamitoff at 17:42, Ham at 17:52, Fossum at 17:55, Nyberg at 18:08 and Hoshide at 18:11. Ron Garan was the last to board the orbiter at 18:21. Pad technicians known as the closeout crew, assisted the astronauts with boarding the Shuttle, and getting strapped in. The pad technicians were cleared to close the orbiter’s access hatch at 19:02 GMT, and the hatch door was closed two minutes later at 19:04. Sealing the hatch was completed at 19:54.

A scheduled ten-minute hold at T-20 minutes began at 19:47 GMT. During this hold, the closeout crew put thermal insulation plugs into screwholes on the orbiter’s hatch, removed protective covers, and disassembled the white room, a collapsible structure at the end of the crew access arm which is used to access the spacecraft. The countdown resumed at 19:57. At that time, no problems were being worked.

The launch of STS-124

The final built in hold, at T-9 minutes and lasting for 45 minutes and 12 seconds, began at 20:08. During this hold, flight controllers set the exact launch time to be 21:02:12 GMT, and confirmed that the launch window would end at 21:08:59 GMT. The countdown was set to resume at 20:53:12. Shortly before the end of the hold, the launch director described conditions as a “gorgeous day to launch”, and wished the crew “good luck and Godspeed”. Mark Kelly thanked him, and replied “whilst we tend to live for today, Discovery, with Kibo, will certainly deliver hope for tomorrow”. Countdown resumed on time at the end of the hold, and the automated Ground Launch Sequencer was initiated.

When giving clearance to retract the Orbiter Access arm from the Shuttle, seven minutes before launch, the Orbiter Test Conductor wished the crew “best of luck delivering JEM to the International Space Station”. Four minutes before launch, the engines were purged of gasses, and tests of the flight control surfaces began. Liquid hydrogen tanks were pressurised shortly after at T-3 minutes, and the fuel vent cap was retracted. Two minutes before lift-off, the crew were instructed to close and lock their visors, and the liquid oxygen tank was pressurised. At T-50 seconds, the orbiter switched to internal power, and the Shuttle’s flight computers took over control of the countdown at T-31 seconds.

SRB separation

Launch occurred on schedule at 21:02:12 GMT. The Solid Rocket Boosters separated about 120 seconds into the flight, and around eight and a half minutes after launch, the Main Engines (SSMEs) shut down, and the External Tank was jettisoned. At this time, Discovery was on a 65km x 217km x 51.6° sub-orbital trajectory. Orbital insertion followed about thirty minutes later, with a firing of Discovery’s OMS engines. This burn started at 21:39 GMT, and ended at 21:42, lasting two minutes and 44 seconds.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, South-East of Canada. Following launch, a fault was detected with the backup electrical system controlling the left OMS engine gimbal actuator. As it was a backup, flight controllers predicted that it would have no effect on the mission, and all scheduled burns will go ahead. The fault was later traced to the failure of both transducers in the unit, and it was reported that the problem was probably due to an equipment malfunction as opposed to a faulty sensor. When asked about the faulty actuator, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin stated that at the “worst case it would be a loss of redundancy but we will still be able to use that system”. Discovery’s payload bay doors were opened at 22:35 GMT. At 23:09, the crew were cleared to begin on-orbit operations.

Processing and countdown progressed smoothly, and were described by Discovery’s processing and launch flow director, Stephanie Stilson, as being “a very clean flow”. Mission Commander Mark Kelly remarked that there had been a “historic low on spacecraft issues”. Around four hours prior to launch, Stilson remarked that there had been 73 anomalies detected so far. The smallest number of anomalies during the countdown for a previous mission was 76, for STS-103.

Moron AFB in Spain was considered the primary transoceanic abort landing (TAL) site, should an engine failure, or other major problem have occurred during early ascent. Istres in France was considered the backup TAL site. The weather at both of these sites was good, however no abort was required during the launch.

This is the 123rd Space Shuttle mission, and the 35th to be flown by Discovery. Ten further missions are planned, including two contingency logistics flights, prior to the Shuttle’s retirement in 2010. Discovery is assigned to three of these missions. It is next scheduled to fly in early 2009, on mission STS-119. The next Space Shuttle mission will be conducted by Atlantis, which will fly STS-125, the final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. This is the fourth manned, and 27th orbital launch of 2008.

At a press conference following launch, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin stated that it was “a huge day for the space station partnership”, and that the International Space Station was “a place in orbit where we can learn to live and work in space”. He congratulated JAXA on the launch of the Japanese Experiment Module, saying that “Japan has now built a first class laboratory…which is capable of supporting humans in space”, and that “with this step Japan has shown itself to be capable of performing at the highest levels of space exploration”. Griffin also stated the STS-124 is “an essential step” in the Space Station programme. When asked by a reporter how he felt about recent NASA successes, including the STS-124 launch, and the landing of the Phoenix probe on Mars last Sunday, he joked that it felt “so great that not even having to do a press conference, two press conferences in a week can ruin it”. When asked about the difficulty of what NASA was doing, he remarked that flight controllers “make it look easy”, but “it is so far from being easy that I could talk until 6am tomorrow, and I wouldn’t touch on how difficult it is”.

NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said that it was “a great day for the launch”, and described STS-124 as a “pretty challenging mission”. Gerstenmair stated that five foam debris impacts had been identified during ascent, but that NASA “don’t consider this a big deal, they were all late”. When asked what he meant by ‘late’, he explained that after 123 seconds into the flight, pieces of falling foam debris “can’t build up enough velocity to hit the orbiter, or if they hit the orbiter they will just bounce off” He went on to say that “things look really well and look really good”, and that NASA have “no concern” about foam, “It’s not an issue to us”.

Launch Integration manager LeRoy Cain described it as a “flawless countdown and a flawless launch”. He said that STS-124 is “a big milestone for us”, and went on to explain that “this is the most important mission we have going right now”. He also stated that the “tank’s performance looks really good”.

Launch Director Mike Linebach stated that it was a “Fantastic launch”, that was tying for the lowest faults during a countdown, with 74 issues reported. Stephanie Stilson has previously stated that the record was 76 issues, so it is unclear whether STS-124 has set a new record, or is tying with the previous record. Linebach went on to describe the launch as “outstanding”.

Keiji Tachikawa, the President of JAXA said that he “was very delighted to see the Shuttle Discovery successfully launched”. He stated that the Kibo module would “significantly enhance the capability to perform experiments in orbit”, and that experiments conducted aboard the Space Station, and the Kibo module, would lead to “better daily lives for the people of our planet”. He also expressed his “profound appreciation to NASA, and all international and domestic organisations” involved in the launch, explaining that the mission is “very significant to Japan”.



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Helicopter crash in Panama kills Chilean police chief and ten others

Helicopter crash in Panama kills Chilean police chief and ten others

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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Gen. José Alejandro Bernales

A helicopter named SAN-100 crashed Thursday at 14:00 local time (09:00 UTC) on a roof in Banana Price, Calidonia, Panama City, Panama. The crash was a block from by Q street and Central Avenue. The crash also started a small fire. Of the 12 people aboard, half of whom were Chilean federal police officers and the other half Panamanian police officers, only Hernaldo Carrasco, the co-pilot, survived.

It is feared that civilians on the ground may have died, but as of yet there is no official death toll of non-passengers. Jose Bernales, the commander of IV region, and his wife also died in the crash.

The SAN-100 has been operated for 35 years and belongs to Panama. “It was a flying relic,” said Omar Torrijos Pauzner, the brother of Panama’s president. According to local TV channel Telemetro, the helicopter was used in Vietnam War, and the United States gave it to Panama after the war. Telemetro also reported the chopper had a broken part that was due to be replaced on June 4.

Martin Torrijos, Panama’s President, communicated his sympathies to Chile and paid particular tribute to Bernales for his support of the Panamanian police force.



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First storm of Atlantic hurricane season forms off coast of Belize

First storm of Atlantic hurricane season forms off coast of Belize

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tropical cyclones – 2008

Related stories
  • Hurricane Paloma hits Cuba
  • Hurricane Ike makes landfall on Cuba
  • Tropical Storm Ike upgraded to hurricane status
  • Government of the Bahamas isssues warning over Hurricane Hanna
  • Bush to skip Republican convention to monitor Gustav
  • Mayor of New Orleans tells residents to evacuate ahead of hurricane

Hurricane Gustav 30 Aug 2008 1605z.jpg

External/Inter-wiki links
  • 2008 hurricane season
  • List of notable tropical cyclones
  • Wikipedia’s entry on Tropical cyclones
  • Wikitionary’s definition of a Tropical cyclone

Tropical Storm Arthur is projected to weaken tonight, but it will likely regain strength after entering the Bay of Campeche on Sunday.

The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early start today when a tropical storm formed off the coast of Belize, one day before the season officially begins.

Tropical Storm Arthur formed Saturday afternoon and quickly made landfall at the Yucatan Peninsula, near the border between Belize and Mexico. Both countries issued a tropical storm warning for the peninsula’s eastern coastline. In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, ports were closed to small boats, water sports were banned, and those living in coastal areas were encouraged to take precautions.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida says that Arthur had a maximum sustained wind speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/hr). These winds extend outward up to 260 miles (415 km) east of the storm’s center. As of 5:00 pm EDT, the center of the storm is located 75 miles (125 km) northwest of Belize City.

The hurricane center is also expecting up to 10 inches of rain in parts of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches. “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in mountainous terrain,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm is projected to weaken into a tropical depression Saturday night. But the National Hurricane Center says it will likely strengthen back into a tropical storm after reemerging into the Bay of Campeche on Sunday. Several Mexican oil fields are located in the Bay of Campeche, including one operated by the state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a more active Atlantic hurricane season than normal, with up to 16 named storms and five hurricanes of Category 3 or above, which are classified as major hurricanes.



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FIFA and European Union are set to collide

FIFA and European Union are set to collide

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

FIFA, the world’s governing body for football (soccer), and the European Union are set to collide over the controversial 6+5 Rule.

The problem is that FIFA wants to limit the number of foreign players in the starting 11 to a maximum 5 players per side while the European Union allows free movement of workers making FIFA’s 6+5 Rule illegal within the European Union.

Despite the legal issue about the 6+5 Rule within the European Union, FIFA President Sepp Blatter presented the 6+5 Rule to FIFA Congress where the member national associations of FIFA would vote on examining the issue further.

The FA in England was quoted on their website saying, “At today’s meeting of the FIFA Congress in Sydney, The FA voted in favour of further exploration of the “6+5″ rule proposed by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.” The FA further said, “The resolution, adopted overwhelmingly by the Congress, requested that the FIFA and UEFA Presidents work with key figures within the world of sport to examine how the proposal might work within the limits of the law.”

The FA, the national association for England, indicated that having more “high-quality English players” is an “absolute priority.”

A reservation of the FA is the legality of the 6+5 Rule but they “welcome further exploration of its legality.”

Spain and Real Madrid Goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, has also indicated to be in favour of FIFA’s 6+5 Rule stating, it would be “exceptional” for players developed for “Homegrown player.”

On May 8, the European Union voted against the 6+5 Rule and have indicated that they will take legal action against any national association within the European Union that introduces FIFA’s 6+5 Rule.

Depending if and how fast FIFA gets their way, the 6+5 rule can be implemented as soon as 2012 with smaller variations leading the way to 2012.

Timeline

  • February 4, 2008: FIFA’s Football Committee decides in a meeting to favour the 6+5 Rule.
  • May 8, 2008: European Parliament voted against the 6+5 Rule proposal.
  • May 28, 2008: The European Union has indicated that they will take legal action against any national association that applies FIFA’s 6+5 Rule.
  • May 30, 2008: FIFA members voted in favour of a 6+5 Rule. 155 associations voted in support for the objectives of the 6+5 Rule that would require clubs to start all matches with at least 6 players who are eligible for the national team. Only 5 voted against and 40 didn’t cast a vote.
  • May 30, 2008: In response to FIFA’s overwhelming support from the 58th FIFA Congress, the European Union reiterated how the 6+5 Rule would violate European law because “it would fall foul of the EU’s anti-discrimination legislation…”

The effect of the 6+5 Rule on England’s FA Premier League

The Telegraph took a look at the last Day of the FA Premier League to see how clubs matched up with the 6+5 Rule. The table below shows 2 sets of results.

  • The 1st set of results indicates if clubs met the required 6 National players based on if the 6+5 Rule applies to only English-qualified players.
  • The 2nd set of results indicates if clubs met the required 6 National players based on if the 6+5 Rule applies to British-qualified players.

According to the Telegraph, British players might be exempted from the rule meaning that English teams might not be penalized for fielding Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish players. The same would apply for teams in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Match From Home Team From Away Team
Home Team vs. Away Team English Players British Players English Players British Players
Birmingham City vs. Blackburn Rovers 3 5 3 3
Chelsea F.C. vs. Bolton Wanderers 4 4 6 6
Portsmouth F.C. vs. Fulham F.C. 3 3 3 5
Middlesbrough F.C. vs. Manchester City 4 4 2 2
Derby County vs. Reading F.C. 3 7 5 7
Sunderland A.F.C vs. Arsenal F.C. 3 6 1 1
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester United 5 6 5 5
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool F.C. 4 5 2 2
West Ham United vs. Aston Villa 7 8 6 6
Everton F.C. vs. Newcastle United 4 5 6 6




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UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology \’cult\’ signs

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police Image: nickstone333.

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police
Image: nickstone333.

The United Kingdom-based human rights group Liberty and the City of Edinburgh Council in Scotland have weighed in on the right of critics to call Scientology a “cult” at peaceful protests. After a 15-year-old boy refused to remove a sign calling Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 protest in London, City of London Police confiscated his sign and issued him a court summons. On May 23 the Crown Prosecution Service stated that there would be no prosecution of the boy. Liberty is investigating the actions of the City of London Police, and told The Guardian Wednesday that they may decide to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The City Council of Edinburgh released a statement earlier this week saying they had no objections to the word “cult” being used on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10. Localized protests have also been held in various cities in between the international protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—15-year-old boy

The May 10 London protest took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The 15-year-old boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. City of London Police approached the boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress”. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.

In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, voiced concerns about the actions of the City of London Police, as did James Welch, legal director of Liberty. Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the City of London Police. Chakrabarti told The Guardian Wednesday that Liberty is looking into the matter and may file a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission if it is determined that the City of London Police has a policy on appropriate wording on protest signs which relate specifically to anti-Scientology protests. Freedom of speech campaigners may also call for a judicial review of the legality of the protest guidelines of the City of London Police.

“Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology. There is the possibility of a complaint to the IPCC or a judicial review,” said Chakrabarti in a statement Wednesday in The Guardian. “Some people are very easily intimidated and will be put off exercising their right to free speech by the thought that they may face court action over it. We have to defend that right and show how wrong the police were in issuing this summons.”

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—County official, Edinburgh, Scotland

Protesters in Scotland that routinely gather to protest against the Church of Scientology outside the Scientology centre in South Bridge, Edinburgh contacted the City of Edinburgh Council in order to get the Council’s input on using the word “cult” on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—Jen Corlew, media director at Liberty

In a statement in The Scotsman on Tuesday, an Edinburgh County official said: “I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.” The Scotsman reported that a representative for the Lothian and Borders Police said that the Scotland police force had “no issue” with the use of the word “cult” in a peaceful protest. A representative for Liberty spoke positively of the position taken by the City of Edinburgh Council. “The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step,” said Liberty media director Jen Corlew in a statement Tuesday in The Scotsman.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker. Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker.
Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Film and television actor Jason Beghe visited a protest organized by members of Project Chanology on Thursday in New York, New York. Beghe joined Scientology in 1994, and gave US$1 million to the Church of Scientology over the course of his membership with the organization. He told Roger Friedman of FOX News that Scientology head David Miscavige called him “the poster boy for Scientology”. Beghe appeared in promotional videos for Scientology in 2005. In April 2008 he left Scientology, and contacted Scientology critic Andreas Heldal-Lund, who put him in touch with another critic Mark Bunker. Bunker arranged an interview with Beghe, which was uploaded to Bunker’s YouTube account on April 7. The posted video is a 3-minute portion of a larger 3-hour interview with Beghe about his criticism of Scientology. In the video Beghe states: “Scientology is destructive and a rip-off. … It’s very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution.”

Beghe participated in the May 10 international protests against the Church of Scientology, attending the protest in Los Angeles. He met with fellow Scientology critic and former Scientologist Lawrence Wollersheim and spoke with members of Project Chanology.

Approximately 50 people attended the Thursday protest outside the Church of Scientology of New York building on East 46th Street in New York City. Beghe met with individuals from the group Anonymous and expressed support for what they were doing. “What you guys are doing means so much to me, and so much to these people … It just kills me. It makes me want to cry. You don’t know what kind of good you’re doing,” said Beghe to the protesters.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology Image: Rankun.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology
Image: Rankun.

After meeting with the protesters, Beghe walked across the street to the Church of Scientology building but was blocked from entering by three men standing outside the building. Beghe told The Village Voice that he believes these individuals were not Scientologists but hired private security guards. He said to the guards “I paid a million dollars, and I want to go in,” but was told to go back across the street. When he rejoined the protesters on the other side of the street he called the Church of Scientology asking to speak to the president of the Church of Scientology of New York, John Carmichael, but said “they hung up”. According to a blog post at The Village Voice website, Carmichael was caught on video at an anti-Scientology protest held in New York City on Monday telling a protester: “Let me tell you this: I smell pussy,” and then addressed an individual protester and said: “You in particular.” According to The Village Voice blog post, the incident occurred after protesters prevented Carmichael from capturing images of them and identifying them, by shining a flashlight at his camera.

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.


Related news

  • “No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult'”. Wikinews, May 24, 2008
  • “UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest”. Wikinews, May 21, 2008
  • “YouTube accounts of Scientology critics suspended”. Wikinews, April 18, 2008
  • “Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide”. Wikinews, March 15, 2008
  • “Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide”. Wikinews, February 10, 2008
  • “”Anonymous” releases statements outlining “War on Scientology””. Wikinews, January 23, 2008
  • “Hackers attack Church of Scientology website”. Wikinews, January 20, 2008
  • “Tom Cruise Scientology promotional video leaked to the Internet”. Wikinews, January 17, 2008

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikipedia
Learn more about Project Chanology and Freedom of speech on Wikipedia.
  • Cary Conover “Scenes from a Scientology Protest, Starring Jason Beghe”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Tony Ortega “Jason Beghe Turned Away at NY Scientology Building”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Dawn Olsen “Jason Beghe Speaks At NYC Scientology Protest, Denied Access To Org”. GlossLip, May 30, 2008
  • Alexi Mostrous “The Web Watcher: Scientology protests and secret documents; Sweeney Todd”. The Times, May 30, 2008
  • scibully “5/29/08 Anonymous with Jason Beghe in NYC”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/29/08: NYC Anonymous Flash Raid With Special Guest”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • Anil Dawar “Scientology protest: Liberty challenges police over summons”. The Guardian, May 28, 2008
  • Candice M. Giove “NY Scientology Chief: “I Smell Pussy””. The Village Voice, May 28, 2008
  • “Protesters celebrate city’s ‘cult’ stance”. The Scotsman, May 27, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/26/2008: Anonymous Sends John Carmichael Off the Deep End!”. YouTube, May 26, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “Tommy Gorman Lawrence Wollersheim Jason Beghe with jennifer”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “May 10th 2008 Tommy Lawrence Jason with Anonymous”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • NewYork420420 “Actor Jason Beghe and Anonymous – 5/10/08”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • anonicakes “May 10 Anonymous: Jason Beghe & Lawrence Wollersheim”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology \’cult\’ signs

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police Image: nickstone333.

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police
Image: nickstone333.

The United Kingdom-based human rights group Liberty and the City of Edinburgh Council in Scotland have weighed in on the right of critics to call Scientology a “cult” at peaceful protests. After a 15-year-old boy refused to remove a sign calling Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 protest in London, City of London Police confiscated his sign and issued him a court summons. On May 23 the Crown Prosecution Service stated that there would be no prosecution of the boy. Liberty is investigating the actions of the City of London Police, and told The Guardian Wednesday that they may decide to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The City Council of Edinburgh released a statement earlier this week saying they had no objections to the word “cult” being used on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10. Localized protests have also been held in various cities in between the international protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—15-year-old boy

The May 10 London protest took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The 15-year-old boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. City of London Police approached the boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress”. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.

In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, voiced concerns about the actions of the City of London Police, as did James Welch, legal director of Liberty. Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the City of London Police. Chakrabarti told The Guardian Wednesday that Liberty is looking into the matter and may file a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission if it is determined that the City of London Police has a policy on appropriate wording on protest signs which relate specifically to anti-Scientology protests. Freedom of speech campaigners may also call for a judicial review of the legality of the protest guidelines of the City of London Police.

“Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology. There is the possibility of a complaint to the IPCC or a judicial review,” said Chakrabarti in a statement Wednesday in The Guardian. “Some people are very easily intimidated and will be put off exercising their right to free speech by the thought that they may face court action over it. We have to defend that right and show how wrong the police were in issuing this summons.”

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—County official, Edinburgh, Scotland

Protesters in Scotland that routinely gather to protest against the Church of Scientology outside the Scientology centre in South Bridge, Edinburgh contacted the City of Edinburgh Council in order to get the Council’s input on using the word “cult” on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—Jen Corlew, media director at Liberty

In a statement in The Scotsman on Tuesday, an Edinburgh County official said: “I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.” The Scotsman reported that a representative for the Lothian and Borders Police said that the Scotland police force had “no issue” with the use of the word “cult” in a peaceful protest. A representative for Liberty spoke positively of the position taken by the City of Edinburgh Council. “The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step,” said Liberty media director Jen Corlew in a statement Tuesday in The Scotsman.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker. Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker.
Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Film and television actor Jason Beghe visited a protest organized by members of Project Chanology on Thursday in New York, New York. Beghe joined Scientology in 1994, and gave US$1 million to the Church of Scientology over the course of his membership with the organization. He told Roger Friedman of FOX News that Scientology head David Miscavige called him “the poster boy for Scientology”. Beghe appeared in promotional videos for Scientology in 2005. In April 2008 he left Scientology, and contacted Scientology critic Andreas Heldal-Lund, who put him in touch with another critic Mark Bunker. Bunker arranged an interview with Beghe, which was uploaded to Bunker’s YouTube account on April 7. The posted video is a 3-minute portion of a larger 3-hour interview with Beghe about his criticism of Scientology. In the video Beghe states: “Scientology is destructive and a rip-off. … It’s very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution.”

Beghe participated in the May 10 international protests against the Church of Scientology, attending the protest in Los Angeles. He met with fellow Scientology critic and former Scientologist Lawrence Wollersheim and spoke with members of Project Chanology.

Approximately 50 people attended the Thursday protest outside the Church of Scientology of New York building on East 46th Street in New York City. Beghe met with individuals from the group Anonymous and expressed support for what they were doing. “What you guys are doing means so much to me, and so much to these people … It just kills me. It makes me want to cry. You don’t know what kind of good you’re doing,” said Beghe to the protesters.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology Image: Rankun.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology
Image: Rankun.

After meeting with the protesters, Beghe walked across the street to the Church of Scientology building but was blocked from entering by three men standing outside the building. Beghe told The Village Voice that he believes these individuals were not Scientologists but hired private security guards. He said to the guards “I paid a million dollars, and I want to go in,” but was told to go back across the street. When he rejoined the protesters on the other side of the street he called the Church of Scientology asking to speak to the president of the Church of Scientology of New York, John Carmichael, but said “they hung up”. According to a blog post at The Village Voice website, Carmichael was caught on video at an anti-Scientology protest held in New York City on Monday telling a protester: “Let me tell you this: I smell pussy,” and then addressed an individual protester and said: “You in particular.” According to The Village Voice blog post, the incident occurred after protesters prevented Carmichael from capturing images of them and identifying them, by shining a flashlight at his camera.

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.


Related news

  • “No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult'”. Wikinews, May 24, 2008
  • “UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest”. Wikinews, May 21, 2008
  • “YouTube accounts of Scientology critics suspended”. Wikinews, April 18, 2008
  • “Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide”. Wikinews, March 15, 2008
  • “Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide”. Wikinews, February 10, 2008
  • “”Anonymous” releases statements outlining “War on Scientology””. Wikinews, January 23, 2008
  • “Hackers attack Church of Scientology website”. Wikinews, January 20, 2008
  • “Tom Cruise Scientology promotional video leaked to the Internet”. Wikinews, January 17, 2008

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikipedia
Learn more about Project Chanology and Freedom of speech on Wikipedia.
  • Cary Conover “Scenes from a Scientology Protest, Starring Jason Beghe”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Tony Ortega “Jason Beghe Turned Away at NY Scientology Building”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Dawn Olsen “Jason Beghe Speaks At NYC Scientology Protest, Denied Access To Org”. GlossLip, May 30, 2008
  • Alexi Mostrous “The Web Watcher: Scientology protests and secret documents; Sweeney Todd”. The Times, May 30, 2008
  • scibully “5/29/08 Anonymous with Jason Beghe in NYC”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/29/08: NYC Anonymous Flash Raid With Special Guest”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • Anil Dawar “Scientology protest: Liberty challenges police over summons”. The Guardian, May 28, 2008
  • Candice M. Giove “NY Scientology Chief: “I Smell Pussy””. The Village Voice, May 28, 2008
  • “Protesters celebrate city’s ‘cult’ stance”. The Scotsman, May 27, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/26/2008: Anonymous Sends John Carmichael Off the Deep End!”. YouTube, May 26, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “Tommy Gorman Lawrence Wollersheim Jason Beghe with jennifer”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “May 10th 2008 Tommy Lawrence Jason with Anonymous”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • NewYork420420 “Actor Jason Beghe and Anonymous – 5/10/08”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • anonicakes “May 10 Anonymous: Jason Beghe & Lawrence Wollersheim”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology \’cult\’ signs

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police Image: nickstone333.

The placard used by the boy, and the written warning issued by City of London Police
Image: nickstone333.

The United Kingdom-based human rights group Liberty and the City of Edinburgh Council in Scotland have weighed in on the right of critics to call Scientology a “cult” at peaceful protests. After a 15-year-old boy refused to remove a sign calling Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 protest in London, City of London Police confiscated his sign and issued him a court summons. On May 23 the Crown Prosecution Service stated that there would be no prosecution of the boy. Liberty is investigating the actions of the City of London Police, and told The Guardian Wednesday that they may decide to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The City Council of Edinburgh released a statement earlier this week saying they had no objections to the word “cult” being used on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10. Localized protests have also been held in various cities in between the international protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—15-year-old boy

The May 10 London protest took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The 15-year-old boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. City of London Police approached the boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress”. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.

In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, voiced concerns about the actions of the City of London Police, as did James Welch, legal director of Liberty. Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the City of London Police. Chakrabarti told The Guardian Wednesday that Liberty is looking into the matter and may file a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission if it is determined that the City of London Police has a policy on appropriate wording on protest signs which relate specifically to anti-Scientology protests. Freedom of speech campaigners may also call for a judicial review of the legality of the protest guidelines of the City of London Police.

“Curtailing people’s freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it’s important to know whether this is part of the force’s policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology. There is the possibility of a complaint to the IPCC or a judicial review,” said Chakrabarti in a statement Wednesday in The Guardian. “Some people are very easily intimidated and will be put off exercising their right to free speech by the thought that they may face court action over it. We have to defend that right and show how wrong the police were in issuing this summons.”

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—County official, Edinburgh, Scotland

Protesters in Scotland that routinely gather to protest against the Church of Scientology outside the Scientology centre in South Bridge, Edinburgh contacted the City of Edinburgh Council in order to get the Council’s input on using the word “cult” on signs at anti-Scientology protests.

UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs
The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step.
UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology 'cult' signs

—Jen Corlew, media director at Liberty

In a statement in The Scotsman on Tuesday, an Edinburgh County official said: “I understand that some of the signs you use may display the word ‘cult’ and there is no objection to this.” The Scotsman reported that a representative for the Lothian and Borders Police said that the Scotland police force had “no issue” with the use of the word “cult” in a peaceful protest. A representative for Liberty spoke positively of the position taken by the City of Edinburgh Council. “The leadership shown by the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to protect free speech is a positive step,” said Liberty media director Jen Corlew in a statement Tuesday in The Scotsman.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker. Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Actor Jason Beghe, with Tory Christman, Andreas Heldal-Lund and Mark Bunker.
Image: Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake.

Film and television actor Jason Beghe visited a protest organized by members of Project Chanology on Thursday in New York, New York. Beghe joined Scientology in 1994, and gave US$1 million to the Church of Scientology over the course of his membership with the organization. He told Roger Friedman of FOX News that Scientology head David Miscavige called him “the poster boy for Scientology”. Beghe appeared in promotional videos for Scientology in 2005. In April 2008 he left Scientology, and contacted Scientology critic Andreas Heldal-Lund, who put him in touch with another critic Mark Bunker. Bunker arranged an interview with Beghe, which was uploaded to Bunker’s YouTube account on April 7. The posted video is a 3-minute portion of a larger 3-hour interview with Beghe about his criticism of Scientology. In the video Beghe states: “Scientology is destructive and a rip-off. … It’s very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution.”

Beghe participated in the May 10 international protests against the Church of Scientology, attending the protest in Los Angeles. He met with fellow Scientology critic and former Scientologist Lawrence Wollersheim and spoke with members of Project Chanology.

Approximately 50 people attended the Thursday protest outside the Church of Scientology of New York building on East 46th Street in New York City. Beghe met with individuals from the group Anonymous and expressed support for what they were doing. “What you guys are doing means so much to me, and so much to these people … It just kills me. It makes me want to cry. You don’t know what kind of good you’re doing,” said Beghe to the protesters.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology Image: Rankun.

Protesters in New York City at the March 15, 2008 Project Chanology international protest against Scientology
Image: Rankun.

After meeting with the protesters, Beghe walked across the street to the Church of Scientology building but was blocked from entering by three men standing outside the building. Beghe told The Village Voice that he believes these individuals were not Scientologists but hired private security guards. He said to the guards “I paid a million dollars, and I want to go in,” but was told to go back across the street. When he rejoined the protesters on the other side of the street he called the Church of Scientology asking to speak to the president of the Church of Scientology of New York, John Carmichael, but said “they hung up”. According to a blog post at The Village Voice website, Carmichael was caught on video at an anti-Scientology protest held in New York City on Monday telling a protester: “Let me tell you this: I smell pussy,” and then addressed an individual protester and said: “You in particular.” According to The Village Voice blog post, the incident occurred after protesters prevented Carmichael from capturing images of them and identifying them, by shining a flashlight at his camera.

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.


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  • “No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult'”. Wikinews, May 24, 2008
  • “UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest”. Wikinews, May 21, 2008
  • “YouTube accounts of Scientology critics suspended”. Wikinews, April 18, 2008
  • “Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide”. Wikinews, March 15, 2008
  • “Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide”. Wikinews, February 10, 2008
  • “”Anonymous” releases statements outlining “War on Scientology””. Wikinews, January 23, 2008
  • “Hackers attack Church of Scientology website”. Wikinews, January 20, 2008
  • “Tom Cruise Scientology promotional video leaked to the Internet”. Wikinews, January 17, 2008

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikipedia
Learn more about Project Chanology and Freedom of speech on Wikipedia.
  • Cary Conover “Scenes from a Scientology Protest, Starring Jason Beghe”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Tony Ortega “Jason Beghe Turned Away at NY Scientology Building”. The Village Voice, May 30, 2008
  • Dawn Olsen “Jason Beghe Speaks At NYC Scientology Protest, Denied Access To Org”. GlossLip, May 30, 2008
  • Alexi Mostrous “The Web Watcher: Scientology protests and secret documents; Sweeney Todd”. The Times, May 30, 2008
  • scibully “5/29/08 Anonymous with Jason Beghe in NYC”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/29/08: NYC Anonymous Flash Raid With Special Guest”. YouTube, May 29, 2008
  • Anil Dawar “Scientology protest: Liberty challenges police over summons”. The Guardian, May 28, 2008
  • Candice M. Giove “NY Scientology Chief: “I Smell Pussy””. The Village Voice, May 28, 2008
  • “Protesters celebrate city’s ‘cult’ stance”. The Scotsman, May 27, 2008
  • AnonNation “5/26/2008: Anonymous Sends John Carmichael Off the Deep End!”. YouTube, May 26, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “Tommy Gorman Lawrence Wollersheim Jason Beghe with jennifer”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • tommygormanxenu “May 10th 2008 Tommy Lawrence Jason with Anonymous”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • NewYork420420 “Actor Jason Beghe and Anonymous – 5/10/08”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
  • anonicakes “May 10 Anonymous: Jason Beghe & Lawrence Wollersheim”. YouTube, May 10, 2008
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Woman arrested after caught living in man\’s closet

Filed under: Archived,Asia,Crime and law,Japan,Wackynews — admin @ 5:00 am

Woman arrested after caught living in man’s closet

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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In the town of Kasuya, Fukuoka, Japan, a 58-year-old woman was arrested after surveillance tape from inside an unnamed man’s home showed her living in his closet.

According to police, Tatsuko Horikawa had been living in his closet for over one year. One day when the man left, she walked through his front door which had been left unlocked. From then on, she would take small amounts of food from the kitchen and even take showers. When the man noticed food missing, he set up cameras to catch what he thought was someone robbing him.

The woman had placed a small bed mattress into a enclosed shelf area inside the closet to sleep on and when police searched the apartment, they found her curled up in the closet.

“We searched the house … checking everywhere someone could possibly hide. When we slid open the shelf closet, there she was, nervously curled up on her side,” said Hiroki Itakura, a police spokesman.

The woman, who was described by police as “neat and clean”, will be charged with trespassing.



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