Silent film reel shows staff connected to Bletchley Park for first time | World news | The Guardian

Unique and “astonishing” film footage has emerged of men and women who worked for one of Britain’s most secret second world war units.

The 11-minute silent film shows smiling staff who worked for MI6 Section VIII at Whaddon Hall in Buckinghamshire, a secret site connected to Bletchley Park. It was at Whaddon that some of the nation’s most skilled wireless operators would send out messages that had been decrypted by codebreakers.

The reel of footage, preserved in its original canister, has been given to Bletchley Park Trust by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

“This is without a doubt one of the most remarkable finds we’ve ever had at Bletchley Park,” said Peronel Craddock, the head of collections and exhibitions.

The silent film is mostly black and white, with some colour sections, and was filmed at different times between 1939 and 1945. It shows off-duty men and women smiling and chatting to whoever was behind the camera. There is also footage of the Whaddon hunt, a football game and a cricket match played in beautiful summer sunshine.

David Kenyon, a research historian at Bletchley Park, said it was remarkable that a camera got in to such a top secret place and that it would have been frowned upon if anyone had known.

It brought the work of Section VIII to life in a way still photographs did not, he said. “We don’t know who filmed it and the footage doesn’t give away any state secrets or any clues about the work the people in it are doing,” he said. “If it fell into the wrong hands it would have given little away, but for us today, it is an astonishing discovery and important record of one of the most secret and valuable aspects of Bletchley Park’s work.”




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Curators have been able to identify a number of figures in the film including Brig Richard Gambier-Parry, the head of Section VIII; Bob Hornby, first engineer, in charge of workshops; and Ewart Holden, stores officer.

To help authenticate the film, curators showed the footage to the war veteran Geoffrey Pidgeon who worked at Whaddon Hall for Section VIII when he was just 17. His father, Horace, also worked there, managing wireless stores and providing radio equipment for agents in the field.

Pidgeon spotted his father, who died in the 1950s, in the film. “I’d never seen my father on a cinefilm before,” he said. “We didn’t have cine cameras, we had a box Brownie … I was quite shaken.”

Several figures in the film have not been identified and the trust is asking anyone who recognises someone to get in touch.

The film has also been analysed by a forensic lip reader, which will allow subtitles to be added to the film. An edit of the film and short documentary has been put on the Bletchley Park website and YouTube channel.

Bletchley Park, now a heritage attraction, was the Buckinghamshire mansion used by MI6 and the government’s code and cipher school (GC&CS), the forerunner of GCHQ, to break enemy codes. Alan Turing, one of the most famous codebreakers, was head of Hut 8 working on decrypting the German naval Enigma code.

Whaddon Hall was a smaller operation, but still hugely important. It was the place where intelligence designated as “ultra” would be sent to allied commanders in the field whether that was Montgomery in the north African desert or Patton in Normandy.

Craddock said the film was an important addition to the trust’s collection. “Not only does it show us the place and the people in wartime but it’s the first piece of film footage we’re aware of that shows any of the activity associated with Bletchley Park at all.

“We’re delighted it has been donated to Bletchley Park Trust where it can be cared for and help tell the story of the huge team effort that underpinned Bletchley Park’s successes during world war two.”

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Irregular migration: Death trap for desperate youths, stakeholder warns

By Juliana Agbo, Abuja

Nigerian youths have been urged to shun all forms of irregular migration in quest for greener pasture and work hard towards the development of themselves and the country.

The outgoing Country Director, Symbols of Hope Project, Dr Lesmore Gibson who gave the charge in an interview with the Nation in Abuja said hundreds of Nigerians are dying daily due to the act of desperation for greener pasture.

Dr Lesmore while noting that the Symbols of Hope Project was initiated by Lutheran World Foundation to focus on reversing the trend of irregular migration in Nigeria, said they will continue to work with the government and other relevant stakeholders to permanently curb the act.

While explaining that countries like Libya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia among others have zero tolerance for illegal migration, said many young people have lost their lives in deserts and the Mediterranean sea all in quest for greener pasture.

According to him, “many have endangered their lives and many of our young people have been buried in the desert all in their quest for greener pasture.

READ ALSO: Obaseki targets 50 percent reduction in irregular migration, human trafficking

” There are irreversible factors that have forced people to migrate, it could be as a result of conflict or political unrest in some context, but the context in Nigeria is more of economic factors.

“Most of the returnees or victims of migrants smuggling are people who felt that they need to go out in search of a greener pastures. It is a fact that Europe is attractive because things are working there, but it does not mean people should migrate irregularly.

“We are not condemning migration but we are saying irregular migration is bad.

Speaking further, Dr Lesmore said in changing the narrative, they have designed some interventions programmes for potential migrants and those who are contemplating on illegal migration.

“Apart from the advocacy we carry out, we are working on empowering returnees but with emphasis and attention been placed on potential migrants.

“The returnees need to go through psychological and healing process, because most of them return brutalized, also they have been violated in different forms.
We want the narrative to change.

“The project have designed interventions for those purposes, the other dimension is engaging in networking because symbols of hope cannot do every thing.

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Creators of Netflix gay Jesus film suffer petrol bomb attacks – Davina Diaries

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The Rio de Janeiro headquarters of Porta dos Fundos, the creators of Netflix controversial gay Jesus movie was hit by a Molotov cocktail attack in the early hours of December 24.

Molotov cocktails were thrown at the headquarters of a comedy troupe behind Netflix’s ‘gay Jesus’ film on Christmas eve.

The First Temptation of Christ roused anger among Christian viewers for insinuating that Jesus was gay – returning home for his 30th birthday alongside a new ‘friend’ named Orlando.

More than 2million people have signed a petition for Netflix to take the show down and have threatened to boycott if they fail to do so. In the early hours of Christmas Eve, two masked men launched the petrol bombs at Porta Dos Fundos’ headquarters in Brazil.

In a statement released, Porta dos Fundos states that no one was injured in the attack but it ‘endangered several innocent lives in the company and on the street.’ The building had security footage which has now been handed over to the police.

The petrol bombs were lobbed at the door but thankfully no one was hurt.

‘Porta dos Fundos condemns any act of violence. We expect those responsible for the attacks to be found and punished,’ the statement read.

‘However, our priority right now is the safety of the entire team that works with us. ‘We will speak again once we have more details.

Meanwhile, Porta dos Fundos would like to reinforce our commitment to good humour and declare that we will move on stronger, more united, inspired, and confident that Brazil will survive this storm of hatred, and love will prevail along with freedom of speech.’

In the controversial 40-minute short, Jesus is seen being surprised with his birthday party after walking the desert, becoming embarrassed by the introduction of new friend Orlando.

The show never explicitly states that Jesus is gay, however, it’s been largely inferred by his interaction between Orlando, and his bashfulness about the friendship to his parents and family.

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Gay Jesus Film: Brazil police probe attack on actors

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Gay Jesus Film. PHOTO: Web

Rio de Janeiro police said on Thursday they are investigating a video by a far-right group that claimed to have carried out an attack on a group of actors who had depicted Jesus as gay.

On Wednesday, a video circulating on social media showed three masked men claiming to have carried out the attack in retaliation for “an attack against the Brazilian people’s faith.”

The two-minute video included images of several people lighting Molotov cocktails before throwing them at a building.

The attack, in which no one was hurt, took place Tuesday night at the studio of a group of actors called Porta dos Fundos, whose 46-minute film “Christ’s First Temptation” began streaming on Netflix on December 3.

The satirical comedy depicts Jesus returning home with his boyfriend Orlando after 40 days in the desert, as Mary and Joseph plan a surprise party for Jesus’s 30th birthday.

ALSO READ: Brazilian comedy group hit by Molotov cocktails after film on ‘gay Jesus’

It has angered many evangelicals and Catholics, and hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition to have it taken down.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo — a lawmaker — criticized the movie on Twitter.

“We believe in freedom of expression but is it really worth attacking the faith of 86 per cent of the population?” he wrote.

The masked men in the video held up a flag of the 19th-century Empire of Brazil and another sporting a symbol linked to the 1930s far-right political party Brazilian Integralist Action.

READ ALSO: Reno Omokri calls for Netflix boycott if it shows movie about gay Jesus

“All hypotheses are being investigated,” police commissioner Marco Aurelio Ribeiro told journalists.

Police have identified the registration numbers of a vehicle and motorcycle used by the attackers and said the masked group’s video “matches” the crime committed.

Actor Joao Vicente de Castro, a member of Porta dos Fundos, told journalists the incident was “an attack on freedom of expression.”

Porta dos Fundos, which was founded in 2012, won an International Emmy this year for their 2018 comedy Christmas special, “The Last Hangover,” also available on Netflix.

The post Gay Jesus Film: Brazil police probe attack on actors appeared first on Vanguard News.

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‘We’re not saying people shouldn’t believe in God’ — star of ‘gay Jesus’ film reacts to backlash – TheCable Lifestyle

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Fábio Porchat, one of the main actors in ‘The First Temptation of Christ,’ says the controversial movie depicting Jesus Christ as “gay” was not to discourage people from believing in God.

The 45-minute special, made available by Netflix, an American streaming service, on December 3, has since generated backlashes from several quarters, with many condemning the movie.

Porchat, who is the co-founder of Porta dos Fundos, a Brazil-based YouTube comedy group, told  that the movie was generally misconstrued.

“It doesn’t incite violence, we’re not saying people shouldn’t believe in God,” he said.

“They [Netflix] haven’t said anything to us like, ‘Maybe we should stop making the special available.’ They support freedom of speech.”

He also wondered why Christians have aimed attacks at them for producing the movie even when the gay community, which was the most affected in the movie, has been relatively quiet.

“We play at insinuating that Jesus has a new friend, and probably this new friend is gay, but they have just been having fun and a very good time in the desert for 40 days,” he said.

“If anybody should be angry with us, it should be the gay community because a gay character turns out to be the Devil. But the gay community loves us!

“The show is almost a Christian fairy tale: Jesus faces off bravely with the Devil and then chooses to follow God, accepting to be his son, Jesus Christ.

“A lot of people, when they see the show, say: “Oh that’s what they were talking about? Ok, that’s O.K., they’re just having fun, no problem at all.

“For some Catholics here in Brazil, it’s O.K. if Jesus is a bad guy, uses drugs: That’s no problem. The problem is he’s gay. No, he can’t be gay. And that’s interesting because Jesus is everything. God is black and white and gay and straight. God is everything. It’s more homophobic to be insulted by a gay Jesus than to make Jesus special.”

The actor went on to dismiss rumours that Porta dos Fundos only do satires about Christianity, stating the group covers Islam and other aspects.

“People say that we don’t make fun of Islam,” said Porchat.

“We do, we’ve satirized terrorists, for example. But they are trying to incite other people to violence, which for Catholics is a very un-Catholic thing to do.”

, general overseer of Omega Fire Ministries, had charged Christians to unsubscribe and delete their accounts on Netflix while nearly 2 million people , which calls for the special to be prohibited and pulled down from the streaming service.

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“I would have been celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary and no one would know I’m a lesbian behind closed doors”- Pamela Adie – YabaLeftOnline

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Nigerian lesbian and LGBT rights campaigner, Awhobiwom Pamela Adie is celebrating 10th anniversary of her ”freedom day”. a day on which she came out of the closet.

Taking to Facebook yesterday, she shared a throwback photo from her bridal shower and listed her achievements since she came out as gay in 2011 to the shock of her ex-husband, family and friends.

I always mark this day, December 12, as my “Freedom Day” because it was the day my life began to change Frfr. By now, I would have had 3 children and would have been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the wedding to my ex-husband. Many would have clapped and congratulated me for having been married for so long. But I wouldn’t have been honest with my self and those celebrating me…no one would know that I am lesbian behind closed doors. But today, I celebrate my truth and my freedom.

So much has changed in the last decade. First of all, I was 25years old at the beginning of the decade and now, at the end, I’m 35. I have gotten married, gotten divorced, came out of the closet, and earned 2 masters degrees. In the same time, I have gone from a full head of locs to a three-quarter head of locs, lost a dog and got a new dog companion, Midge.

Within this timeframe, I have led a global campaign that mobilized people to stop a deeply homophobic pastor from entering South Africa to spread hate, been listed as one of 100 most inspiring women in Africa, listed among the 10 most powerful names in Advocacy in Nigeria, spoke at the World Economic Forum, received the Young Alumni Achievement Award, wrote, produced and directed my first documentary film, and became an Obama Foundation Leader.

But it hasn’t been all rosy. I was broke many times because I was committed to seeing the end of my film project. My heart was broken multiple times, I cried a lot. I was sad many times. I loved again and again. I showed up. I fell short many times. I didn’t give up. I believed most times, and other times, I wasn’t as sure. I knew myself a lot more than I ever thought. And I also met some very awesome people…including the love of my life!

I traveled to 6 new countries, I faced some of my fears – I facilitated 3 training sessions of LGBTQ+ activists from across Africa, screened my film in 5 countries, went skydiving and parasailing – went on the desert safari, gotten 3 tattoos, did a safari tour, stayed at the Burg Al Arab, went ziplining, visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, and challenged the Nigerian government for infringing on my right to freely associate.

I say all this not to brag (well, there’s a lil bit of that) but to say that nothing ever stays the same forever. When we open up to living our truth, we can explore and take opportunities as they present themselves. Sure, there were times I had doubts or felt unworthy. But I abandoned religion and found Meditation, which helped me overcome my self-doubt and guilt.

As a side note, I have to reject the notion that I am somehow “lucky”. I’m not lucky. I paid my dues. I paid the heavy price and I’m getting the reward. So, please don’t say “she’s lucky”.

Anyway, I hope this inspires you to be all you can be and open yourself to life by focusing and working on the things you want to achieve. If all these can happen in the last 10 years, imagine what can happen in the next 10? Imagine what YOU can achieve in the next 10 years!

Begin with the end in mind.

Thank you to my many helpers who have contributed to my journey in the last decade. Some of what was achieved was possible because of your support.

I’m grateful and hopeful and on that note, I say Cheers to the next decade!

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Scientologist says the church is telling Clearwater members not to vote for Mark Bunker

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[Mark Bunker and Pat Harney]

One of our readers in Clearwater, Florida describes themselves as someone who recently began having doubts about the organization and for a few weeks has been looking around the Internet about Scientology, including this website.

They reached out to us to tell us about something remarkable that happened to them this weekend. On Saturday evening they received a blind copy of a mass email from Scientology spokeswoman Pat Harney that apparently went out to all local members of the church…

From: pat.harney@cos.flag.org
Date: November 30, 2019 at 6:47 PM EST
To: Pat Harney Subject: Please call Pat Harney at the OSA Office


Hello,

Do you live in Clearwater?

This is very important.

Please call me at the OSA office number at 727-467-6860 for a short survey.

Best,
Pat Harney
Director of Public Relations
Office of Special Affairs

When our reader called, they were asked to wait to get Harney herself on the phone. When she did, she asked our reader if they lived in Clearwater. When they said they did, Harney then said that she was reaching out to all local Scientologists to make them aware of an important election coming in March 2020, the election for Clearwater’s mayor and city council.

Three seats are up for election on the council, Harney explained, but they were especially interested in seat two, and that Scientologists should avoid voting for an “SP” — a “suppressive person,” which is Scientology jargon for an enemy of the church.

The reader astutely asked Harney to name the SP so they would know not to vote for them, and Harney then said it was Mark Bunker.

As for who to vote for, our reader tells us that Harney then said that the church couldn’t tell its members who to vote for.

Well, that’s cute. Pat Harney would know quite well that as a tax exempt religious organization, the Church of Scientology cannot get involved with politics or endorse candidates without risking its tax exempt status. But she apparently thinks the church can stay within the lines if it tells its members who not to vote for.

Mark Bunker, of course, has been very open about his opposition to Scientology and his desire to get elected so he can help Clearwater stop being such a doormat to the aggressive, bullying organization. So it’s really not all that surprising that Scientology wouldn’t want its members to vote for him. But we find it entertaining that the church feels compelled to fire up an OSA operation to get the word out.

“I’m not at all surprised that Scientology is getting out the word that I must be stopped. It’s an unlikely job for a PR person, but Pat Harney and her associates have long been used by Scientology as attack dogs,” Bunker told us when we informed him about the Harney email. “The day after I released a video saying I planned to run, Pat Harney was on the phone to downtown business owners asking, ‘What do you think of Mr. Bunker running for city council?’ and adding, ‘We can’t let him do that.’ I’m sure Scientology will do everything in its power to keep me from winning. It’s what they do but I don’t believe they can succeed. Scientology has spent decades cultivating an oppressive, intimidating facade, gleefully letting people know they are not a ‘turn-the-other-cheek religion.’ Well, people are sick of being intimidated. Everyone I speak with on the campaign trail is excited that someone is willing to take on Scientology.”

We called the number on Harney’s email and we were greeted by a sunny “Public Affairs!” from a young woman. We said that we wanted to speak with Pat Harney and we were put on hold. We were then told she was in a meeting, so we left a message for her and asked her to call us back. We also followed up with a detailed email message to her.

We’ll let you know if she gets back to us.

 
——————–

Leaked document of the day

From the Valley Org documents release comes this item.

This is a fun find in the Valley Org documents. It was attached to more recent items, but it’s a great snapshot of 2004, when Scientology’s Criminon front group was more visible than it is today, and was supported by militant Scientologist celebrity Jenna Elfman, as well as actress Catherine Bell.

And the “Greg” who signs this commendation is Greg Capazorio, who happens to be brother-in-law to Top Gun himself, actor Tom Cruise.

 
——————–

“In the final run of it, he gets up to a fairly comprehensive idea of what he’s been and done….He gets himself one Godawful amount of time blocked out. Oh, some terrific amount of time blocked out. He gets up to trillions to the eighth power. Time, you know. Oh man, time, you see. First he gets horrified, you see, at the idea of twelve trillion years ago or something like that. He gets finally, up to a point where trillions to the eighth power take him back to some of the earliest implants. And he’s perfectly happy at this level that there’s an awful lot of track….Now, his track goes sizzling back to trillions to the 200th power. Well that’s, of course, one of these ridiculous figures. That’s trillion written two hundred times. Or one with two hundred times you write all the ciphers of a trillion. That gets to be quite a few ciphers and every one of those things is a year. You’re getting into the sweep of time by this time. Well, I myself have had, I just thought I was doing fine when I was doing some research this last summer. I said, ‘Gee, you know we’re getting clear back here.’ Trillions four, you know. Whew, you know? Dizzying. Concepts of time. Trying to date one of these confounded things, you know. Trying to handle these fantastic periods of time with arithmetic, and trying to dream up other methods of going into all this. Rough! Because it just took the auditor too tall, too long to say anything so you got crude rough approximations like, trillions 4.5, see?” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 3, 1963

 
——————–

“For some weeks late in 1982 I remained conscious, even when my body slept. I found that four hours of that kind of sleep was equal to eight of the usual, unconscious sleep, in terms of resting the body. Anyway, one night I was up late, standing nightwatch at Van Org, working on the word ‘postulate.’ When I figured I had it cleared I thought, ‘I want twenty bucks.’ I walked outside onto the street, walked about half a block, and there on the sidewalk were two ten-dollar bills, neatly folded. I picked up the twenty bucks, went back inside and signed off on the word ‘postulate.’ I’m past-life Clear and don’t know what-all I might have had run on me after going Clear way back then, but it was the early ’50s and research was raging ahead. I’m finally getting my Grades now and intend to complete the Bridge, eventually to regain that mastery over unconsciousness that I attained for a short while in the early ’80s. It’ll come in handy next time I want to leave a body for a new one.”

 
——————–

“The really scary thing to me about Carla Moxon is that there are literally millions of others like her in this world that are seriously mentally deluded due to magical thinking and they are among us doing jobs that could cause the rest of us harm if they just go off a tad too much at the wrong time. Anybody keeping track of all the problems going on with members of the ICBM defense system? And that’s not even due to magical thinking.”

 
——————–

Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?

 
——————–

THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Thar she blows: The ‘whales’ who are keeping Scientology afloat in 2018
[TWO years ago] Scientology loses another outlet for attracting young acting talent in Hollywood
[THREE years ago] In Scientology, dancing in a conga line might end up costing you thousands
[FOUR years ago] Augustine: How Scientology changes its story to fit what it’s trying to get away with
[FIVE years ago] About that Tom Cruise Scientology ‘co-leader’ nonsense spreading in the media
[SIX years ago] Our Experts Prepare Us for the Wall of Fire — Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level Three!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Capsize: Commenters of the Week!
[TEN years ago] David Cross Endorses Scientology In a Way Only He Can

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,647 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,776 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,280 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,800 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 820 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 711 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,018 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,886 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,660 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,434 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,780 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,346 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,265 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,433 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,014 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,275 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,313 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,026 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,552 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,078 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,641 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,781 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,101 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,957 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,076 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,431 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,734 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,840 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,242 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,114 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,697 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,192 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,446 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,555 days.

——————–

Posted by Tony Ortega on December 3, 2019 at 07:00

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

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

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 14 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

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Against the Death Cult: We Must Not Let Ruthless Ideologues Destroy the Climate and Kill Us All

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Agriculture

The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.

Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta. 

We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin. 

Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.

The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.

Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it. 

We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.

If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual. 

To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.

Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable. 

A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.   

Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power. 

We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.   

Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media. 

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Female Victims Of Sex Trafficking Relieve Heart-rending Experiences Of Their Near-death Journey To Get Greener Pastures Overseas – Motherhood In-Style Magazine

person chair

Every year, thousands of women and children become victims of sex trafficking in their own countries and abroad.

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons including forced labor and forced prostitution.

Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders – women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

The quest to make it big in life coupled with the harsh living condition in the country forced these women to jump into the prospects of travelling abroad at any single opportunity not minding the consequences.

Many of these distraught and sometimes desperate Nigerians believe that the streets overseas are paved with gold, pounds and dollars that once you step into those countries it will be bye-bye to poverty and hardship.

Unfortunately, as it is said, not all that glitters is gold. To escape the hardship at home, many take great risks to travel abroad only to enter into a more harrowing experience.

Some die in the process while others escape with scars that may haunt them for the rest of their lives. While some were victims of circumstances, having been tricked and deceived into such journey, others take the risk of opting to travel abroad by land and sea routes knowing that they cannot afford the normal process of getting visas and honouring several embassy appointments. Some of the girls deceived into this route end up as sex slaves with so much regret and consequences.

reporter encountered two young women in Anambra, Amarachi Ojene, 23, and Tobechukwu Igboeri, who shared the chilling experiences of their near-death journey to get greener pastures overseas. Years after such ‘journey to hell’, their lives have never been the same again.

Amarachi, from Nibo, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State was an SS2 student in 2012 when she encountered a devil in human skin who not only took advantage of her naivety and innocence, but also exploited her poor parental background to trick her into a sex slavery trip abroad.

Having lost her dad when she was seven years, Amarachi relied on her mother who eked out a living by hawking cooked Okpa (a local delicacy) around the Awka metropolis. They also augmented the proceeds by engaging in manual labour in local farms for people at a fee.

So, she was so excited when she met her friends who told her that their aunt was looking for a house help that would live with her overseas. She reasoned that going abroad with the woman would ease a lot of load for her suffering mother as she would be paid in dollars, which she would send home to alleviate the family sufferings.

Hear Amarachi’s gory story:

“I vividly remember the day that two girls in my town, Chioma and Miracle, met me at the Eke Awka market, where I had gone to buy palm fruits for my mum’s Okpa business. They asked if I would like to travel abroad; they said their relation living in a foreign land was looking for a house-help to take along.

I was excited as I thought that a bright prospect for higher education and escape from poverty had come not knowing that I was walking into a death trap. They told me that the same relation was also taking them with her, so that they could be fixed into money-yielding ventures over there.

When I went home, I didn’t tell my mum immediately because I was afraid of her reaction, but when I eventually told her, she was also excited more so when she heard that the woman taking me abroad is from Awka. One week later, they came back and told me that we would leave in a few days.

They never told me the main thing we were going to do there and it was later that I realized that those girls were her agents who recruit unsuspecting ladies for her in the organized sex pimp business she does.

They took me to the woman called Aunty Ebube and I was surprised when I got there and saw many young girls there too. She asked me probing questions, wanting to know if I was aware of the business I had come to do and said no. We slept that night and the next morning she took us to a shrine at Umubelu Awka to take oath of allegiance and commitment.

The native doctor welcomed us saying that the expected guests had arrived. We were 19 girls in all and I was the youngest and the most immature among them, barely 16 years old then. Everything started happening in a jiffy as the man gave us white cloth to tie on our body.

The native doctor warned Ebube when we got there that I was going to spoil things for her, but I didn’t understand what was going on. I fainted there and they sprinkled water on me, but that didn’t deter them from administering the oath of secrecy.

Ebube said that we were going to pay her N450,000 each when we get to our destination and the native doctor warned us of the dire consequences of reneging in the deal as he told us that the deity of the shrine would strike any defaulter dead.

With a shaking body yet lacking the requisite courage to extricate myself from their grip, we got initiated there. We drank and chewed some substances there and were given a small calabash each. We danced round the shrine to complete the ritual.

The next day, we moved to Onitsha and boarded a luxury bus travelling to the North. She told us to tell any policeman we see on the road that we were going on holidays in the North to see our parents based there.  She told us never to accept that we were together in the journey and that if we implicate ourselves, she would not hesitate to disown us.”

Hijab for all of us

“When we reached the northern part of the country, she told us to change into hijab and pretend that we are northern Muslim girls. A vehicle, which she had pre-arranged, was already waiting for us by the time we arrived. We were squeezed into the vehicle.

She kept picking more people on the road, which showed that a syndicate was involved. We slept in Zendel and by 3:00a.m we left for another route until we got to a place they called Agadez. She told us to stay there for the meantime and find our destiny pending when those who will take us overseas arrive.”

‘Business’ begins

“When she told us that we should stay and test our destiny briefly, I never knew that it was a kick off for the prostitution business until I was handed over to some clients in a hotel. She forced us to wear skimpy dresses and singled me out having seen my demeanour.

She told me that I’m now in a no-man’s land and I should cooperate if I still wanted to remain alive. I was crying knowing that I had walked into a trap that would take divine intervention for me to wriggle out of it. I was deep in thought when she landed me a deafening slap.  She told me to be ready to die if I won’t allow men to sleep with me.

My first time was a man old enough to be my father. The man was given option to make a choice among the bevy of girls quartered there and he picked me knowing that I was a fresh virgin. I told him that it was over my dead body that he would sleep with me. I stubbornly refused to succumb to their threats.

Short time sex there goes for 5,000 CFAs while full time is 10,000 CFA. We kept on arguing and she told me that I should not join issues with her. I was made to know that our batch of girls was the fourth trip for her while the final destination is Libya.  Usually she would just sell the girls at Agadez and return to the Southeast to recruit more for the same purpose.”

How my Igbo dialect saved me

“On that fateful night, two men came to look for female companions. She spoke with them in the local language, which I did not understand. As I was about to be handed over to them, I exclaimed in Igbo language, ‘Ewooh, o kam si jee (Is this how I have ended up)?’  When the supposed sex customers heard my exclamation, they became more interested in taking me to their home at all costs that night. They offered Madam Ebube 15,000CFA and took me.

On our way, they started asking me probing questions and I opened up and told them my predicament and identity. They were shocked and also told me they were from Enugu State. Instead of taking advantage of me that night, they treated me like a sister.

One of the boys, Anayo, told me that perhaps God made them come to the brothel that night for my sake because they had already retired after the day’s business, but on a second thought decided to stroll to a happening joint.

The two boys kept me safe, took pity on me, refused to sleep with me and offered me a mattress where I slept in the sitting room and they retired to the bedroom. They took me back to the hotel the next morning and Madam asked me whether I enjoyed my night with those boys and I said yes.

I told her that I want to go home and she started another round of threats. She told me that I could go if I repay her N450, 000. She sold one girl there and told me that I would be the next; she also reminded us that the oath we took spelt out death or madness on anyone who attempted to leave the place secretly.”

At the crossroads

“At this point, my heart was pounding and I excused her and ran back in the direction to Anayo’s house, but he was not in. I wrote a notice on their gate telling him that if he doesn’t come to rescue me immediately, I would be either dead or sold off into slavery the next day.

As God would have it, I was apprehensive that night knowing that time was ticking away for me when suddenly Anayo showed up and told our madam that he needs me for another night again. Madam thought I treated him well and handed me to him, but he took me to the house of one of the villagers and hid me there.

I was hidden for three days and madam had to suspend her trip and kept searching for me. Anayo gave me a phone and was relating all that was happening to me until the fourth day that he took me to the park. If not that he hid me, I would have died in the desert en route Libya.

Of all the 19 girls, I was the only one who returned home. I have not set eyes again on Ifunanya, who she sold first. (Begins to sob). I don’t know their fate till today. Whether they eventually reached Libya, died of hunger or were devoured by wild beasts.

“Anayo and his brother bought a ticket for me, took me by 3:00 a.m from Zendel and landed in Kano.  I boarded a vehicle to Abuja, but I didn’t know anybody there.”

Ran into kidnapper’s vehicle

“In Abuja, I entered a cab that promised to take me to Kuje where some of our brothers resided, but I never knew I had boarded the wrong vehicle. The man took me on a wrong route and headed towards a thick bush. I raised the alarm, but nobody could answer me.

The man showed me his undies and I saw all manner of weapons, guns, knife and other things he had on him. He told me to say my last prayer because he would kill me and take my body parts. He used the short knife to slash my clothes to pieces and I was stark naked.

He raped me and wanted to take my body parts fresh and I ran and he gave me a hot chase. I saw a vehicle laden with tomatoes and lay flat for the vehicle to crush me. The driver stopped abruptly, picked me naked like that and I passed out. When I regained consciousness, I saw myself in the military barracks, Abuja.”

She never knew I was still alive

Under the custody of the military, Amarachi was taken to the scene where she boarded the evil man’s cab, but the man could not be traced. The army later handed her to NAPTIP who documented her case and made efforts to rehabilitate her and also seek ways of punishing her trafficker.  She was later sent home in Anambra where she reunited with her family. She later saw her trafficker and got her arrested.

“The day I saw her at Eke Awka, she was shocked because she thought I was dead. Because we reported to DSS and NAPTIP when I came home, they gave me a number to call them any day I sight her and that was what I did. When I called the phone line, she was picked up. They raided her home, detained her and the native doctor (he is dead now) and were also charged to court.”

Picking up the pieces of her life

Settling down to a normal life after the harrowing experience for Amarachi has not been easy. Though she managed to go back to school and finally wrote her senior school certificate exams, Amarachi’s problems are far from being over. Her mother suddenly collapsed and died from high blood pressure leaving her and the siblings as orphans.

She also fell in love with a man who is not financially buoyant. The uncle who now acts as her father insisted that all the traditional rites of marriage would be completed before she is pronounced married. Along the line, she got pregnant for the fiancé and had to give birth in her home. Now nursing a 10-month-old baby boy, life has remained tough and harsh for her.

“My uncle refused to allow the man take me home because he couldn’t fulfill the long list of requirements presented to him. My mother died heartbroken for all these shocks and now without both parents, we find it even difficult to feed,” she lamented.

Appeal and words of advice

“I still thank God I’m alive today.  My advice is that people should not allow anybody deceiving them with fairy tale promises about travelling abroad.  I need urgent help presently. Helpless without mum or dad and also nursing a baby, I desire to go back to school and upgrade my life, but now even to feed is a serious problem. Government and public-spirited individuals should help me,” she pleaded.

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THE DEATH OF ‘ALAGBA’

Government could do more to protect wildlife

The death recently of a famous tortoise, named ‘Alagba’, at the palace of the traditional ruler in Ogbomosho, Osun State, has elicited reactions from across the world. Said to have outlived several kings in the town, and very popular as a pet, it is no surprise that many feel a sense of loss.

However, the death of ‘Alagba’ has raised concerns among conservationists who believe these reptiles are almost extinct in the wild in Nigeria due to the activities of traditional institutions, particularly monarchs, native doctors, sorcerers and, of course, rich people who keep tortoise illegally as pets.

Ordinarily, the tortoise is highly vulnerable, particularly because it cannot take flight from danger, so people simply pick them from forest floors. While there are several species in Nigeria, the ‘Alagba’ specie is ‘centrochelys sulcata’. It is commonly called Desert Spurred Tortoise, according to Edem A. Eniang, Professor of Wildlife Resources Management, Herpetology and Biodiversity Conservation Department of Forestry and Natural Environmental Management, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. This specie of tortoise used to exist in Nigeria, and was originally found around Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Kano States. But the few of them in the country today are in captivity and because these species are almost locally extinct in Nigeria, what is seen in most places is trafficked into the country from Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and other West African countries.

Sadly, habitat destruction and fragmentation are among the biggest threats to their survival. Moreover, there is also heavy internal market within Nigeria that is fed by hunters who forage for tortoises in the thick forests of the southern parts of the country. This internal trade is also fuelled by an understanding that the tortoise has become more or less a status symbol collector’s item for the monarchs and the rich in the country. This is completely bizarre and puts Nigeria in a negative light in the comity of nations. Also, people in some communities eat the flesh as a delicacy. Interestingly, the exact number of tortoises in existence, in the wild or in captivity, in Nigeria is unknown because no one has done such research.

The major problems of tortoise conservation in Nigeria include habitat degradation (through uncontrolled logging, agricultural projects, industrial plantations, highway and urban development, and exploitation for fuelwood), over-hunting and poaching. Steps taken so far to protect wildlife include the creation of one National Park and 18 Game Reserves, enactment of wildlife laws, signing of international treaties, and manpower development. These measures have however failed to produce the desired effect owing largely to public apathy, low level of funding, inadequate game laws and weak enforcement of existing legal provisions. Several laws protect the tortoise, like other wildlife species, in Nigeria and these are: The Endangered Species’ Act; Convention on Biological Diversity; NESREA Act; National Park Service Act; Convention on migratory species; several states environmental protection laws and edicts.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is the strongest global law protecting endangered animals, tortoises inclusive. All protect different endangered tortoises in Nigeria. The federal government should intervene more positively in favour of conservation by creating more national parks and assume joint responsibility with the states government for formulating wildlife laws. Also, communities where tortoise exists must play a prominent role in their conservation.

Meanwhile, there is a controversy around the exact age of ‘Alagba’ which was believed to have lived 344 years before its death. This claim can be fact-checked by scientists if the carcass is well-embalmed. Conservationists say the carapace (shell) can help indicate the age of the tortoise by the number of concentric rings, much like the cross-section of a tree. If it is not too late, scientists should be brought in to confirm the real age of the late ‘Alagba’.

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