Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

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Google releases Final version of Desktop Search

Wednesday, March 9, 2005Google has today launched the final version of its Google Desktop Search program. Google Desktop is a search engine for Windows which allows the user to search their computer’s files’ contents for a specified phrase, and includes support for many different file types, including audiovisual media, web pages stored in the local cache, e-mail, and various kinds of document files.

In Beta since last Autumn, version 1.0 adds the ability to search PDFs, Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox browser histories, and Thunderbird emails. The software also has an added a plugin facility to allow third-party developers to add support for additional file formats. A registry for a small initial set of plugins is currently available, as well as incentives such as T-shirts and free advertising for developers who submit new plugins.

Competing Windows desktop search products have also been released by Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Copernic. Mac OSX Tiger is planned to offer similar functionality through “Spotlight“, and future Linux distributions are expected to include “Beagle” desktop search.

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US economy adds 215,000 jobs in July; unemployment rate remains steady at 5.3%

Monday, August 10, 2015

Continuing a trend of steady employment growth, the United States economy added 215,000 jobs in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3%.

“Job growth is quite strong,” stated Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, a data analysis firm in New York. “This pace of employment growth is clearly strong enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down.”

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, marking a rebound after growth stalled in June. Wages have grown by 2.1% over the past year, below the Federal Reserve’s target of 3.5% annual wage growth, and not much more than the underlying rate of inflation.

While sluggish wage growth remains a pocket of weakness in the economic recovery, steady payroll gains averaging 242,000 per month over the past twelve months have led observers to consider a Federal Reserve interest rate hike as increasingly likely, according to The New York Times.

“We view this report as easily clearing the hurdle needed to keep the Fed on track for a September rate hike,” said Rob Martin, an economist at Barclays in New York. “The bar for not moving now is much higher.”

Although the Federal Reserve has not explicitly stated that they plan to raise interest rates in the near future, the US central bank has stated that it would raise rates when it has seen “some further improvement” in the jobs market. The Fed has not increased interest rates since 2006, and during the 2007-2009 recession, it lowered rates to historically low levels.

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Police track kidney doctor to Brampton, Canada

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The hunt for alleged kidney harvester, Dr. Amit Kumar, has led investigators to Brampton, a city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) of Ontario, Canada.

Indian investigators allege that Kumar is the kingpin of a ring that removed kidneys of poor laborers in India for transplantation to the highest bidding patients, usually foreigners. After a request by Indian police via an Interpol “red notice”, Canadian police located a house in Brampton owned by Kumar, who has been dubbed “Dr. Horror” by the Indian press.

The house is occupied by a woman, presumed to be his wife, and two young children. Kumar purchased the 5,600 sq ft (~510 ) home on February 2, 2007 for C$610,000. Reportedly, additional upgrades were performed at the home, including an in-ground pool, at a cost of C$100,000. The family drives an expensive SUV. The children, two boys aged 4 and 5, are said to be enrolled at private schools.

Dr. Kumar, a nephrologist, born Santosh Rameshwar Raut, was known to his neighbors. He told them that he was a cardiovascular surgeon in India, but that he wanted to buy a hotel in Canada and, after one last trip to India to tie up loose ends, permanently relocate to Canada.

“We are completely shocked,” a neighbor told the Toronto Star. “We used to joke at parties that he must be loaded to get such a beautiful wife, but nothing prepared us for this.” Another neighbor told the paper, “It’s very unusual for someone to come here from India and buy a big house like this and a Lexus. Doctors in India just don’t make that kind of money.”

Meanwhile, investigators are no closer to Amit Kumar, than they were a few days ago. It is widely believed that he is trying to flee India for Canada via Nepal, a country for which he is alleged to have a passport.

Police in Mumbai, however, believe he is still in India. “He is very much in India,” commissioner Rakesh Maria said on Tuesday. “We suspect he will never leave.”

“He will stay in India — it won’t be easy to conduct his illegal activities anywhere else,” he said. “In a country like Canada, it would almost be impossible to find [kidney] donors in large numbers.”

They think they can buy the kidney for peanuts. That’s why the likes of [Amit Kumar] can prosper.

However, after a request by the Haryana state government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon take lead in the investigation.

“We haven’t yet received a final word to start investigations,” CBI Director Vijay Shankar said. “We will begin working on the case as per legal process.” Thus far, police in Gurgoan, Moradabad, Mumbai and Rajasthan have been investigating the case separately.

The case has called attention to medical tourism, the practice of traveling abroad for health care at more affordable rates. Kumar is alleged to have charged US$50,000 for a kidney transplant. The donors are said to have been paid the equivalent of US$1,200. Even so, the donors, according to widespread reports and testimonials, may not have realized what they were getting into when they went with a stranger for a well-paying job.

The Toronto Star interviewed a medical tourism travel agent, who operates openly. Aruna Thurairajan, who runs Overseas Medical Services in Calgary, Alberta, says that she frequently gets calls from patients in need of a kidney. Thurairajan refuses to give referrals for transplants because it “gives medical tourism a bad rap.”

“Money is a big factor for people to decide where to go. Often they want to bargain how much to pay the vendor [organ donor]. Some of them can be quite selfish and mean. They think they can buy the kidney for peanuts. That’s why the likes of [Amit Kumar] can prosper. So the patient should also be blamed along with him, because the patient bargains down the price,” said Thurairajan.

But the victims of this illegal trade are not exclusively the poor day laborers but sometimes the clients themselves, according to a report by Hindustan Times. The investigation cited a driver for a close associate of Amit Kumar and claims that at least three foreigners died on Dr. Kumar’s operating table. He was able to name three Turkish nationals who all died in India between 2003 and 2005, officially from cardiac arrest. The driver, Harpal, says that the bodies were brought to a hospital in Ballabgarh, Faridabad, where the local authorities colluded with the doctors to list the cause of death as heart failure.

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Auto Insurance Rates Are Everything

Auto Insurance Rates Are Everything


Micheal Joness

If you take the steps mentioned above as you make an auto insurance comparison, you should be able to get a good picture of what will be the best choice for you and how you can get cheap car insurance rates too.

Keeping your car safe at all times is part of maintaining a claims free record because it is highly unlikely that you will want to pay for the costs of replacing it, instead of claiming from your insurance, in the event that it is stolen.

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So how do you reduce the rates on your car insurance?

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Priest charged in exorcism death

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Romanian priest and four nuns have been charged in the death of a reportedly schizophrenic nun who was crucified in an exorcism. The novice, Maricica Irina Cornici, of Holy Trinity convent in northeast Romania, died last week after spending three days gagged and chained to a cross without food or water in the church’s cellar.

The 23-year-old nun was found with a towel stuffed into her mouth and had been left in the cold room while the priest delivered prayers to drive out evil spirits. An initial autopsy revealed the nun died from dehydration, exhaustion and lack of oxygen. Prosecutors are awaiting the results of a second autopsy, which is being carried out because of a suspicion of foul play.

The priest, Daniel Petru Corogeanu, and four nuns have been charged with imprisonment leading to death. They could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Father Daniel told local news that he was trying to “take the devil out of her”. When asked whether the nun was in need of medical help instead of an exorcism, he replied, “You can’t take the devil out of people with pills.”

Ms. Cornici, who grew up in an orphanage, is said to have entered the remote convent three months earlier. There has been speculation by the Romanian media that Ms. Cornici’s schizophrenic behaviour may have caused her fellow nuns and the priest to believe she was possessed by the devil.

The Orthodox Church has condemned the incident and suspended Father Daniel, who has refused to stop work at the Holy Trinity monastery. Riot police had to intervene when scuffles broke out as nuns yelled at a vicar who came to suspend Father Daniel on Sunday.

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Vancouver will run out of office space in 5 years

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Vancouver, a 20-year urban success story may yet have a sad ending. The city’s downtown population has doubled to 80,000 in the last 20 years thanks to Vancouver’s “Living First” policy – a planning strategy that favors residential development over commercial. And planners are expecting the population to reach more than 120,000 by 2030. But while downtown booms with people, business is busting. The International Herald Tribune reports that the city’s recently-released jobs and land-use study is estimating that downtown Vancouver may run out of commercial and office space within 5 years.

The ‘Vancouver problem’ is one that many cities in the United States could only hope to have. On the contrary, much effort has been put into bringing residential life back into the city centres. In Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and Washington, D.C. there has been a condominium boom in recent years, but these cities are far from the situation Vancouver faces now.

To counter the trend in Vancouver, planners are proposing changes to the city’s zoning regulations, including the passage of more lenient building height restrictions. But because residential developments are so much more profitable than commercial and office space, some public officials are proposing offering better incentives to the developers willing to build commercial. Another option is to expand the moratorium that was placed on new housing development in the central business district two years ago.

Translink is currently involved in a major expansion of the 49.5 km (30.8 mi) Skytrain system centred on downtown Vancouver. Construction of the Canada and Evergreen lines is underway. The former will be complete in 2009, and the latter in 2011.

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Long Term Weight Loss With Bariatric Surgery

Long Term Weight Loss With Bariatric Surgery



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In case you\’re attempting to lose weight for rather sometime and dont notice any decrease in weight, then it\’s the time to obtain the doctor\’s help and initiate clinical weight loss program. There are many things that forces you to have medical assistance. For instance, after pregnancy if you\’d like to burn off your weight, then surgical procedure often is the good solution. Perfect ways of eating and routine workout program are great methods to lose fat, but for some people these techniques wont be effective. Extreme weight can result in varied medical issues. Bariatric surgery is a good choice for individuals who are in this discouraging condition. There are several surgery alternatives available to deal with excessive weight, each having its own pros and cons. Yet weight loss surgery is excellent in lessening excess fat, there are many operative difficulties. Hence, before making a conclusion, talk to an professional physician to learn about the advantages and disadvantages from bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgery may boost your quality of life. Obese people suffer from various obesity related problems such as diabetic issues, sleep problems, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol problems. Reports revealed that surgery can result in long-lasting weight reduction issues, might minimize health conditions, and may enhance a persons everyday life. However for some people, weight loss surgery could lead to troubles and also emotional health concerns. For that reason, whether a persons life can be better or worse upon going through the procedure is usually not known. Studies show that several individuals diagnosed with diabetes that have weight loss surgery can certainly reduce and sometimes absolutely avoid their dependence on insulin or perhaps diabetes pills. There are numerous quick and also long-term negative effects right after the procedure. Instant issue is pain and suffering from the surgical treatment. As it is a serious surgical procedure, there exists a major risk of difficulties. Also, weight loss surgery can be costly system and is not covered by your insurance. Most severely overweight people have better quality of living following having a weight loss surgery. The long-term benefits of weight loss surgery outweigh the health risks and also side effects and psychological health factors following your surgery. Therefore, for severely obese people it is essential to go through the full weightloss process that concerns follow up treatment options to deal with the concerns, complications and emotional health concerns. Weight Loss Surgery Fountain Valley

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Migrant workers in Dominos Pizza ‘slavery’

Friday, August 10, 2007

Eight Hungarian migrant workers sacked from a Domino’s Pizza franchise in Derby, England are said to have taken home virtually no pay for months because of illegal deductions.

The claim is refuted by the company who said in a statement “We have begun a thorough investigation during which we have scrutinised the franchisee’s employment practices. This took place with his full co-operation. The franchisee concerned is confident that he possesses the evidence required to refute these allegations. To the extent that we have been informed of all allegations and have reviewed all available evidence, we also believe this to be the case.”

The sacked workers are being supported in their claim by the workers union Unite. The union say the “there appeared to be a deliberate strategy of keeping the workers in debt to the company through a series of crippling deductions. The deductions included payments to cover the contract purchase of a car from their employer, insurance for the vehicle provided through their employer, and exorbitant rent for substandard accommodation, again provided through their employer. In addition, some workers had to pay fees of up to £180 for an “introduction” to the company. One worker earned just £5 in four months because of the constant and hefty deductions out of his wage packet. When the workers protested they were sacked.”

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