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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Appalachia Mountains coal company plays State politics

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Massey Energy Co., the fourth largest coal producer in the U.S., filed a federal lawsuit against the Governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin.

Massey’s CEO Don Blankenship alleged that Gov. Manchin acted in retaliation against the company’s coal mining operations because the company spent $650,000 in an advertising campaign to defeat the governor sponsored pension bond proposal. The $5.5 billion bond proposal, intended to shore up the state’s sagging pension plan, was defeated in a special election held in June.

The Massey lawsuit, filed last Tuesday on July 26 in the U.S. District Court in the W.V. southern district, was referred to by Gov. Manchin as having less to do with the bond proposal than with the newly increased state “severance tax” on coal. Nearly 40 million tons of coal production will be subject to the 56-cent tax.

According to Blankenship, that tax amounts to $22.4 million in additional costs for the company, but he denied the increase has anything to do with the lawsuit.

The company reported profits that almost tripled during the second quarter compared to a year ago. Of the company’s rosy earnings picture, Blankenship urged states to “show some frugality” by not placing tax burdens on coal to solve state budget shortfalls. He said his company is “playing a role” because there was no need for the bond sale and the state can afford to make payments into the pension system.

Blankenship acknowledged during a conference call the now-rescinded June 30 permit by the W.V. Department of Environment Protection (DEP). At issue was the department’s permit for mining operations near the Marsh Fork Elementary School, in Sundial, W.V. The school rests at the base of a mountain selected by Massey for “Mountain Top Removal” (MTR) mining techniques. Along with the mining equipment, a coal preparation plant and a sludge pond were established on the mountain. Protest groups, mainly the Coal River Mountain Watch and Mountain Justice Summer, presented a list of demands to Massey officials that included shutting down the preparation plant, ceasing all MTR mining above the Marsh Fork Elementary School, and abandoning plans for a second coal silo near the school. They also ask that the Marsh Fork school be cleaned up or relocated. The state permit for a second coal storage silo was rescinded by the DEP the same day Massey filed the Manchin lawsuit.

Gov. Manchin in June said that Blankenship could expect tougher state scrutiny of his business affairs since the Massey media campaign against the pension bond proposal. “I think that is justified now, since Don has jumped in there with his personal wealth trying to direct public policy,” he said at an appearance at an American Electric Power event in Putnam County.

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Apple releases iPhone SDK, announces upcoming update

Thursday, March 6, 2008

During a media event held at its Cupertino headquarters, Apple released the long awaited iPhones Software Development Kit (SDK) and the associated iTunes “App Store” and iPhone Developer Program. The SDK will allow third party software developers to create applications for the iPhone and then distribute them on the iTunes Apps Stores. Any members of the iPhone Developer Program can add applications to the store for free; the program costs $99 (USD) to join. Developers will be able to set the price of the applications or release them for free. All applications will have to be approved by Apple before being allowed on the store. Some of the disallowed categories are”porn”, excessive bandwidth users and anything malicious or illegal. VoIP applications would be allowed over Wi-Fi only. Enterprises can setup private pages on the store to distribute internal applications.

At the event several third party developers that had been given early access to the SDK demonstrated their applications. Among the applications demonstrated were EA‘s Spore, AOL‘s AIM instant messenger and a client for epocrates, a drug reference service.

The company also announced the iPhone 2.0 update that was released as a closed beta for developers and is scheduled for public release in June. In the new version Apple has been focusing on enterprise features in an attempt to compete with rivals like RIM‘s BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. The update adds support for ActiveSync, which Apple has licensed from rival Microsoft, WPA2 and virtual private network support. The update will also be available to iPod Touch users for what Steve Jobs described as “a nominal charge”, as Apple have done in the past with the previous iPod Touch and MacBook Wi-Fi updates.

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Q and A with New Zealand Prime Minister hopeful

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This article is part of the series

New Zealand General Election
Other election coverage
  • Q and A with New Zealand Prime Minister hopeful
Background

John Key is the leader of the New Zealand National Party and with the New Zealand General Election this year, Wikinews’ Gabriel Pollard spoke to John Key via email.

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Men charged in US and Canada over alleged plot to arm Tamil Tigers

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Numerous men have been charged in Canada and the United States with various crimes related to a plot to arm the Tamil Tigers who are listed as a terrorist organization in both countries. Some are accused of plotting to buy surface-to-air missiles and AK-47 rifles that would have been sent to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Eight people, including three Canadian citizens, were charged in Brooklyn, New York yesterday with various offences. At the same time the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a 26-year-old in Ontario in relation to the plot. He faces extradition to the United States.

Charges against the nine include fundraising and money laundering through US bank accounts and charitable organizations for the Liberation Tigers of Talim Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting the Sri Lankan military in a civil war since 1983.

Two of the men allegedly tried to bribe undercover US State Department officials with $1 million in order to remove the Tigers from the official list of terrorist organizations which bars the group from raising money, obtaining weapons or lobbying. A more extensive investigation ensued involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The RCMP was brought in when the FBI learned of a Canadian allegedly being involved. Ultimately, the three Canadians arrested in the United States are accused of travelling to New York to purchase the military equipment including 50 to 100 SAM missiles, assault rifles, truck mounted missiles, aerial vehicles for jamming radio transmissions and radar, submarine design software as well as flight lessons and military training.

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Open software developers meet at FOSDEM 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hundreds of developers of freely licensed and open source software from all over Europe met in Brussels, Belgium this weekend for FOSDEM 2008. The 8th edition attracted considerably more visitors than previous editions, mainly from Belgium and its neighbouring countries the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, but also from other European countries and even from the United States.

During the conference weekend, presentations touched on programming languages, build systems, gaming (such as Battle for Wesnoth, Crystal Space, Globulation 2), packaging, virtualisation and web applications. The conference also has rooms (called DevRooms) were developers who usually work together via the internet can meet in real life and share thoughts on their projects; CentOS, Fedora, CrossDesktop, Drupal, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla, OpenSUSE and X.org had the biggest rooms this year. The corridors were filled with stands from organisations such as the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Free Knowledge Foundation, Debian, Ubuntu, OpenOffice.org, etc.

Since FOSDEM brings many European open software developers to Brussels, it also provides an important networking opportunity. FOSDEM traditionally kicks off Belgium-style on Friday with a beer event, but during the entire weekend several groups hold parties all over town. Wikinews reporters attended a barbecue hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Friday for an interview with EFF and Open Rights Group representatives about the upcoming E.U. proposal to extend copyright for performers to 95 years. Wikinews also interviewed Drupal founder and Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert about Drupal and how Acquia will relate to the Drupal developer community.

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2007 U-17 FIFA World Cup:Germany and Colombia draw in goalfest

Monday, August 20, 2007Cheonan, South Korea

Colombia 3 3 Germany
Match Stats
Attendance 7,741
Goalscorers for Colombia Julio (14′) & Nazarith (66′ & 88′)
Goalscorers for Germany Dowidat (34′ & 49′) & Sukuta-Pasu (39′)
Bookings (Colombia) Mosquera, Nazarith & Romero (Yellow (3))
Bookings (Germany) Wolze, Gieffer & Rudy (Yellow (3))

Germany have opened their 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign with a draw against Colombia in Cheonan, South Korea.

The opening goal of the match came in 14th minute when Colombia captain Miguel Julio met a free kick with a header. The Germans began creating chances before Dennis Dowidat netted a 34th minute equaliser, accelerating past his marker down the right and arrowing a drive into the far top corner from a tight angle. The Europeans took the lead just five minutes later after a passing move down the right flank, Richard Sukuta-Pasu converting a low cross to hand his side a 2-1 half time lead.

The Germans got their 3rd goal of the game with a similar move just after half time. Toni Kroos supplied a cross for Dowidat to poke him his second of the game during the 49th minute. Colombia tied the game with a penalty shot and a long range goal from Cristian Nazarith in the 66th minute and 88th minute respectively.

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Study says poor African American women less likely to receive pap smears

Wednesday, December 28, 2005Black American women living in communities with high poverty rates are significantly less likely to be screened for cervical cancer, a study finds.

The Harvard School of Public Health’s Geetanjali Dabral Datta investigated the relationship between individual characteristics and larger socioeconomic factors and cervical cancer screening rates. The Febreuary 1 issue of Cancer carries the study. More than 40,000 black women from across the United States participated in the Black Women’s Health Study.

“African-American women have twice the mortality rate from cervical cancer as white women,” said Elizabeth Ward, the director of the American Cancer Society. “Researchers need to investigate how those differences are related to socioeconomic status. One of the big factors that may account for this finding is access to high-quality medical care. Often communities that have high poverty rates either lack access to good quality care, or people have to travel longer distances to obtain high-quality care.”

David L. Katz at Yale University’s School of Medicine said; “While this finding is not surprising, it is noteworthy just the same. No one should die of cervical cancer, because a simple screening test reliably finds the condition in its earliest stages when cure is almost universally achievable. Yet, several thousand deaths from this cancer occur each year in the U.S.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Study_says_poor_African_American_women_less_likely_to_receive_pap_smears&oldid=2185159”

Open software developers meet at FOSDEM 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hundreds of developers of freely licensed and open source software from all over Europe met in Brussels, Belgium this weekend for FOSDEM 2008. The 8th edition attracted considerably more visitors than previous editions, mainly from Belgium and its neighbouring countries the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, but also from other European countries and even from the United States.

During the conference weekend, presentations touched on programming languages, build systems, gaming (such as Battle for Wesnoth, Crystal Space, Globulation 2), packaging, virtualisation and web applications. The conference also has rooms (called DevRooms) were developers who usually work together via the internet can meet in real life and share thoughts on their projects; CentOS, Fedora, CrossDesktop, Drupal, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla, OpenSUSE and X.org had the biggest rooms this year. The corridors were filled with stands from organisations such as the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Free Knowledge Foundation, Debian, Ubuntu, OpenOffice.org, etc.

Since FOSDEM brings many European open software developers to Brussels, it also provides an important networking opportunity. FOSDEM traditionally kicks off Belgium-style on Friday with a beer event, but during the entire weekend several groups hold parties all over town. Wikinews reporters attended a barbecue hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Friday for an interview with EFF and Open Rights Group representatives about the upcoming E.U. proposal to extend copyright for performers to 95 years. Wikinews also interviewed Drupal founder and Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert about Drupal and how Acquia will relate to the Drupal developer community.

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Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Open_software_developers_meet_at_FOSDEM_2008&oldid=1441028”

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students

See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list.Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAICU has created a list of colleges and universities accepting and/or offering assistance to displace faculty members. [1]Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This list is taken from Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students, and is intended to make searching easier for faculty, graduate, and professional students.

In addition to the list below, the Association of American Law Schools has compiled a list of law schools offering assistance to displaced students. [2] As conditions vary by college, interested parties should contact the Office of Admissions at the school in question for specific requirements and up-to-date details.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating alternatives for medical students and residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. [3]

ResCross.net is acting as a central interactive hub for establishing research support in times of emergency. With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible. [4]

With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible.

Physics undergraduates, grad students, faculty and high school teachers can be matched up with housing and jobs at universities, schools and industry. [5] From the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Society of Physics Students, the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

If you are seeking or providing assistance, please use this site to find information on research support, available lab space/supplies, resources, guidelines and most importantly to communicate with fellow researchers.

The following is a partial list, sorted by location.

Alabama |Alaska |Arizona |Arkansas |California |Colorado |Connecticut |Delaware |District of Columbia |Florida |Georgia |Hawaii |Idaho |Illinois |Indiana |Iowa |Kansas |Kentucky |Louisiana |Maine |Maryland |Massachusetts |Michigan |Minnesota |Mississippi |Missouri |Montana |Nebraska |Nevada |New Hampshire |New Jersey |New Mexico |New York |North Carolina |North Dakota |Ohio |Oklahoma |Oregon |Pennsylvania |Rhode Island |South Carolina |South Dakota |Tennessee |Texas |Utah |Vermont |Virginia |Washington |West Virginia |Wisconsin |Wyoming |Canada

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