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.”

Wikinews interviews author and filmmaker Peter John Ross

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with American author and filmmaker Peter John Ross. The head of Sonnyboo Productions, an independent film studio based in Columbus, Ohio, he has made numerous short films as well as co-directed a feature, the World War II B-movie Horrors of War.

He has also written a book on filmmaking, Tales from the Front Line of Indie Filmmaking. He says that it “combines helpful articles for beginning filmmakers with narrative tales based on my experiences raising money for features and the crazy personalities that invade the world of microbudget filmmaking.”

When asked why he makes movies, Ross replied, “There is no greater thrill than sitting in a room full of strangers watching the stories unfold with flickering pictures and sound. I live for the moments when I can sit there and watch the movies with people I don’t know and really feel how they react to what I wrote or directed or edited.”

Swiftly Preparing The Content Of A House For Sale By Owner Today

By Tom Beaty

The perimeter of the “For Sale By Owner” home is the first thing a potential buyer will see, but the content of the home will be the lasting impression. This means that it is essential that you go through your home in order to dispose of the clutter before you advertise your for sale by owner home. Garbage and dark colors are one of the biggest reasons people lose sales. Therefore, you should sift through the clutter and dispose of anything you aren’t using. You always can choose to have a garage sale or donate some of your items to charity. If you think you still have too much clutter, your only option is storage space. If you can’t see the carpets in a room, you probably still have too much clutter.

Your rooms will appear larger if you have lightly colored walls and maintain good lighting. If you do have any darkly painted walls, contemplate painting them with a white or off-white paint and increase the light emitted from the light bulbs in your home.

If you find odorous or overly stained carpets, it would be in your best interest to replace them. You can always choose to shampoo a carpet that doesn’t require replacement. It is very essential that you clean and polish each and every window and mirror.

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Pay close attention to detail while washing your oven and stove. Be sure to clean the drip pans under the burners. All grease and dirt build-up must be removed. The outside of the stove and oven must be polished until they appear remarkably shiny. Other areas that need close attention are the refrigerator, dishwasher, or any other appliances.

The window fixtures and blinds must be cleaned and repaired. Clean away the fingerprints that build up around the doorknobs and light switches. It’s essential that you clean the wall around your trash cans, especially in the kitchen.

Scrub your kitchen countertops and get rid of any clutter on them. One must reduce the number of items in their kitchen cabinets as well as every cabinet in the house. The less clutter in these areas, the more appealing your house will be.

You must have your clothes appear very neat and organized in your closets. It is essential that your closets do not appear over crowded. Everything must appear spacious and clear. It is in your best interest to remove any excess items from the shelves and on the floor. Other problem areas that you should be aware of are the garage, basement, and attic space.

Check every room for odors. If you have become accustom to some smells, you can always get a neighbor to help you. Your for sale by owner home must look, smell, and feel as fresh, clean, and as new as possible.

In the event that the for sale by owner home has any leaks, rattles, or squeaks, this alarms the buyer that a lot of repairs will be needed. It is essential to remove them. One simple approach is tightening your stairs, steps, and banister. It is of the utmost importance that you repair and remove any water leaks or any signs of water damage. A few ways to correct these problems are painting over the water stains or replacing any damaged wallpaper. If it seems like a necessary step, replace all the caulking in your home. Check every door and window to see how smoothly the hinges operate. Check every light switch, doorknob, and cabinet hinge to find and repair the loose nuts, screws, or bolts. If you happen to find any loose molding, tack it down. Following these simple steps and tackling one problem at a time will significantly increase your chances of selling your house at the price you choose.

About the Author: Tom Beaty offers District Of Columbia Real Estate information for buyers and sellers. Don’t buy or sell without visiting this Blog or it could cost you:

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6.4 magnitude earthquake hits Chile

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another earthquake hit Chile on late Monday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported. It occurred at 19:09:43 local time (23:09:43 UTC). The epicenter was located 110 kilometers northwest of Temuco; 132 kilometers southwest of Concepción; 203 kilometers north of Valdivia and 558 kilometers southwest of Santiago.

The USGS later determined that the earthquake had a depth of 20.6 kilometers, and the epicenter was located 55 kilometers to the south of Lebu.

The University of Chile Geological Survey reported that the earthquake took place 71 kilometers at the west of Tirúa in the Bío Bío Region and had a depth of 22.9 kilometers.

Wikinews’ Diego Grez reported that the earthquake was clearly felt in Pichilemu, almost 300 kilometers to the north of the epicenter. ONEMI reported no casualties. The area is being monitored by the organization. It has been reported that some telephone lines have collapsed after the earthquake. More than two months after the major 8.8 earthquake, many people continue to live in tents or temporary huts.

Private helicopter crashes in UK

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Police earlier released a statement reporting that a private helicopter carrying several people had vanished following the Champions League football semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium.

The helicopter left Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on Tuesday night at around 11pm, and was heading for a private landing site near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire when it vanished. It is believed to have left radar screens at around 12.30am.

A police spokeswoman said: “Details are sketchy at the moment. The helicopter, we believe, had about four or five people on board and was a twin-engine Twin Squirrel. It left John Lennon Airport in Liverpool at about 11pm and was on its way to a private address near Peterborough. It appears to have disappeared off the radar. At the moment we are trying to find out more. The best case scenario is that it has made an emergency landing somewhere.”

The wreckage of the helicopter was found in woodlands near Wansford, in Cambridgeshire. The pilot has been named as Stephen Holdich, co-owner of operating company Atlas Helicopters.

Also on board were Jonathan Waller and Phillip Carter, as well as other people yet to be named. It is believed one of the others on board was Mr Carter’s teenage son, Andrew. It has been released that the people found on board are deceased.

In 1996 Chelsea vice chairman Matthew Harding was killed when his helicopter, also a Twin Squirrel, crashed while returning from a match against Bolton Wanderers.

Iraqi activist forced to change t-shirt with Arabic peace slogan

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi peace activist who lives in the United States, was forced to change his T-Shirt, which bore an Arabic slogan, because it was found “offensive”.

The incident took place in JFK airport in New York. The activist Jarrar reported in his blog RaedInTheMiddle that he had checked-in his bags and was issued a boarding pass. After waiting near the gate to board his jetBlue airlines flight, and after having to gone through a secondary search, two officials approached him.

“People are feeling offended because of your t-shirt,” Raed reported that one of the men said to him. The writings on the T-Shirt said in both Arabic and English: “We will not be silent”.

Raed asked why this has offended anyone, and insisted his right to freedom of expression was violated.

According to Jarrar, one of the inspectors said, “You can’t wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank”. The airport official, unable to read Arabic, was unyielding to protests by Jarrar that the English language version of the Arabic was accurate, and suggested he wear the shirt inside out.

“Many people called and complained about your t-shirt. Jetblue customers were calling before you reached the checkpoint, and customers called when you were waiting here in the boarding area”, Jarrar was told after he complained.

One employee from JetBlue offered to buy Jarrar a T-shirt to replace the one he was wearing, since the activist had none other after his bags were checked. Refusing at first, he agreed to wear one with “New York” written on it.

The officer on the scene commented that it need not have gone from one extreme to the other: wearing a T-Shirt with an Arabic peace slogan on it, to wearing one with ‘New York’. There is no reason to hate New York if you are an Arab speaking peace activist, according to Jarrar.

“I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the U.S. was that I don’t want an officer to make me change my t-shirt. I will pursue this incident today through a constitutional rights organization, and I am sure we will meet soon,” Raed said.

He was issued another boarding pass, with a different seat at the back of the plane.

JetBlue said it was investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: “We’re not clear exactly what happened.” The spokeswoman also said the airline does not forbid Arabic T-shirts, but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.

The American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee said the US Transportation Department and the Transportation Security Administration were also investigating the incident after the committee lodged complaints on behalf of Jarrar.

“We Will Not Be Silent” is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.

It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany.

New industrial area to be created in Arad county, Romania

Wednesday, April 13, 2005The local government of Arad County in western Romania today launched a project calling for the creation of a new industrial area in the commune of Zimandul Nou. They have already allocated 0.3 km² for this project, with more land being expected to be allocated for the industrial precinct.

The president of Arad Couty Council, Iosif Matula, says that the labour force in the area is qualified in industrial occupations, especially in the fields of textiles, furniture, electronics and tools industries. The site also already has all the necessary infrastructure, such as gas, access to sewage and a water purifying facility.

The industrial area will be located on the outskirts of the Zimandul Nou commune, which is a fairly small, rural town. The proposed Zimandul Nou industrial area is one of the latest development projects by the Arad County Council, which has, since a few years ago, embarked on a fairly wide-ranging project of attracting foreign investment and developing further industry in rural areas.

The county capital, Arad, with a population of nearly 190,000, is one of Romania’s largest industrial centres and is a major centre for foreign investment, but the county council would like to see more industry heading to the rural areas. The Zimandul Nou precinct will be the eighth industrial zone in a formerly-rural area in the county. The other seven areas have already attracted combined foreign investments of over 120 million euro.

New Jersey officials: Stimulus bill hurting Atlantic City casinos

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A New Jersey congressman says restrictions on federal stimulus money are hurting gaming destinations like Atlantic City, and he is seeking to repeal a provision banning the use of funds for casinos or other gaming establishments.

Is Ken Calemmo right to suggest that the gaming industry is as important as manufacturing, retail or finance?
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“The demonization of gaming destinations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City for business travel is wrong, wrong, wrong,” U.S. Rep Frank LoBiondo said Friday during a press conference in front of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

The $787 billion federal stimulus bill passed in February specifically prohibits casinos from applying for funds for infrastructure improvements and other similar projects. LoBiondo said Atlantic City is losing millions of dollars in business as a result of that provision.

Casinos’ revenues dropped 19.2 percent in February 2009 month compared to February 2008, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. LoBiondo said $160 million worth of business and 120,000 visitors have chosen other cities for their tourism plans due to the stimulus bill, according to Atlantic City Convention Center figures.

The administration also recently determined other groups like nonprofit organizations and local governments may not spend their stimulus money at casino properties. State officials said the rules are damaging a major pillar of the New Jersey economy.

“Are those jobs somehow less important or less meaningful than those in the manufacturing, retail or financial industries?” said Ken Calemmo, chairman-elect of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber.

Anti-gambling officials said the stimulus law does not prohibit casinos from taking advantage of tax breaks, and Atlantic City officials should not complain about the stimulus bill because the city is too reliant on an unreliable revenue stream.

“There isn’t a state, including New Jersey or Nevada, that could gamble themselves rich, any more than an individual could gamble themselves rich,” said Tom Grey, field director for “They should’ve diversified (the economy) instead of chasing their loss.”

But Joe Kelly, chamber president, said 35,000 people work at New Jersey casinos, and thousands more around the state work for outside vendors that depend on casinos for their business.

“It is not just an Atlantic County issue. It is not just a Cape May issue,” Kelly said. “There’s purchasing done by every county.”

LoBiondo is working to repeal the provision with U.S. Rep Shelly Berkley, co-chair of the Congressional Gaming Cascus, and has reached out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has a history of representing the interests of the gaming industry.

Kraftmaid Cabinets A Cut Above The Rest



Abdul Samad Karar

Storage space is one of the most important aspects that are considered when moving into an office or home. This therefore means that priority is given to installing high quality yet elegant cabinets or cupboards in whatever kind of building we may want to occupy.


is one of the leading companies that have been in business for decades, providing high quality cabinets for offices and homes. These cabinets can be installed in various rooms and come in a variety of colors and styles as per your preference. The unique aspect of KraftMaid cabinets is that the company that manufactures them has an environment-conscious perspective business, in that they build their cabinets using nature-friendly manufacturing practices that aim to reduce the waste caused by remodeling and design. The cabinets are made from different types of wood like as hickory, birch, oak, maple or cherry and thermo foil is applied to the surfaces. In addition, they offer finishing touches that vary as well as stains which eventually give it a better overall appearance and feel.

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The stains come in different colors such as green, black, brown or white. Furthermore, the KraftMaid cabinets can be easily upgraded in a variety of ways which include glass inserts, crown moldings at the top, decorative feet, lighting as well as pulls and handles. The upgrades can be added for both practical and decorative purposes. KraftMaid

cabinets are easy to install because you need a few tools like an electric drill, a level, masking tape, a measuring tape and some wooden shims that are easy to obtain from a local hardware shop. When you have these tools, then all you need to follow a few simple rules that include; setting the cabinet up on the portion of the floor where you want it to sit, then using the masking tape to mark out the layout of the cabinet while writing labels on the masking tape to identify measurements and other details. It is advisable that you disengage the doors as well as the drawers of the cabinet to make it easier to work on itsinterior sections and you can easily clamp them all together this way. In addition, use the level to determine if the floor is slanted in any way so that you can perform the installation process accordingly.

The wooden shims are then used to help level the cabinets, which are marked with chalk or tapes on the wall studs as a guide to where to drill later. Drill a hole through the mounting rail in the cabinet all the way through the cabinet towards the wooden studs, and then use the screws to set the cabinet in place. Finally, put the drawers and doors you removed earlier back in place. The process of cleaning KraftMaid cabinets is also hassle free as all you need is dish soap, oil soap, water and cleaning rags or towels. Wipe the cabinet surfaces with a damp cloth sprinkled with dish soap and let the cabinets dry, then wipe then again with a damp cloth this time with oil sap applied on it. Also, thorough cleaning can be done by performing the same process on the inside drawers and inside the cabinets at least once in every 6 months. Overall, it is important that you apply the solvents to the cleaning cloth instead of directly to the cabinet itself and do not leave the solvent-dampened cloth on the cabinet for too long either, as this can cause staining and other damage on it. KraftMaid cabinets are both practical as well as visually appealing in any home or office.

Abdul Samad Karar

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