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Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

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Iranian air politician blames pilot error for yesterday’s jet crash

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reza Nakhjavani, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, has publicly stated that he blames yesterday’s jet crash on pilot error. Nobody was killed when the Tupolev Tu-154 crash-landed and caught fire on the runway.

Media reports at the time said the aircraft was performing an emergency landing in Mashad owing to a passenger requiring medical attention. Nakhjavani said that he is yet to see confirmation of this passenger’s existance, and accused the pilot of placing one life before over 150 others; there were a combined 170 passengers and crew aboard.

The Taban Air plane then crashed in the fog and caught fire. The aircraft sustained a tailstrike followed by landing gear failure and the right wing breaking. Forty-six people were injured and the Tu-154 burned on the runway. Nakhjavani claimed the pilot’s actions were illegal and he had no clearance to land, also blaming Air Taban and stating they were negligent.

Hamid Behbahani, Minister of Roads and Transportation, also blamed “human error” for both the air crash and a train accident the same day that killed nine people. However, he stated that the foggy weather conditions also played a role in the plane crash. Taban’s license is currently suspended.

Iran uses a number of Russian and Soviet-built aircraft, particularly Tupolevs. In recent years these have had a high accident rate. Last year a Tu-154 crash killed 168 people shortly after takeoff from Tehran heading to Yerevan, Armenia. It was the worst accident in Iranian aviation history. RIA Novosti has stated that this fleet is aging and in urgent need of maintenance and repair work, while Iran blames international sanctions which they claim prevent the import of spare parts except low-quality products from Russia.

Regardless of the causes of the problems Iran has experienced with its Tupolevs, the nation today banned the import of any more Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft. Meanwhile, Russia has sent a team from the Interstate Aviation Committee to assist investigations. Under the Convention on International Civil Aviation the state which manufactured an aircraft typically asists any probe into an accident involving it.

The Interstate Aviation Committee was set up after the collapse of the Soviet Union to replace the single body in place accross the USSR. If Iran concludes negligent pilot error was indeed to blame then the country cannot sanction the flight crew since they are employed by Russia’s Federal Aviation Service. The Russian party to the investigation issues flight is responsible for licensing pilots.

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University of Southern California spit test predicts cavities

Monday, February 21, 2005

Los Angeles, California —A simple saliva test can predict whether children will get cavities, how many cavities they will get and which teeth are most vulnerable.

Developed by researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the test quantifies the genetic component of tooth decay, spotting the risk when something can be done about it.

“When we apply this to young children, it allows us to predict what might be their future caries history—the number of cavities that they’ll get by, say, their late 20s or early 30s,” says researcher Paul Denny.

Called the Caries Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) test, the test measures the relative proportions in saliva of different types of sugar chains called oligosaccharides. The same sugar chains are present on tooth surfaces.

The effect of sugar chains on teeth’s resistance to disease is analogous to the effect of “good” and “bad” cholesterol on blood vessels. “Good” sugar chains tend to repel bacteria that cause cavities while “bad” allow bacteria to bond to teeth and start the decay process. Unlike cholesterol, however, sugar chain makeup in humans is 100% genetically determined.

Denny and colleagues have found that the sugar chain makeup in saliva can predict a child’s future cavity history to plus or minus one cavity with greater than 98% confidence.

The findings suggest that in developed areas of the modern era genes play a more significant role in tooth decay than in former times or third world nations where gross malnutrition and negligent oral hygiene held the greatest impact on dental health.

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Purchase A New Car? Pick The Safest And Save On Car Insurance}

Submitted by: Declin Loop

Budget car insurance online car insurance companies are getting more and more popular, becoming its competitive price, getting quotes and apply online directly to the facility. All car owners and drivers to car insurance, direct car insurance companies in having a relatively low price is important to encourage this type have attracted large audiences. Yet, you might wonder why these direct auto insurance companies, other insurance companies offer lower than the bid, or they provide sufficient insurance coverage, etc. will be able to if .. Here are the top 10 things that you apply for a cheap car insurance online should know that before. 1. Find out if the company is legitimate that the most important thing is that you should know – whether the company is legitimate or not – before you apply for some of them. Online budget car insurance companies nowadays are blooming and some people just abuse the concept your full name, credit card details, address, personal information such as getting through your online application, like some other goals to achieve .

Online insurance company, or company name to search for customer reviews Googling is a comprehensive research online. Comprehensiveness of his research is important, as there may be fake illegitimate reviews written by scammers. 2. The scope of insurance coverage direct auto insurance about the ‘original’ All packages are really understanding the ‘core’, which means a basic plan covers the essential legal requirements. Whatever the reason that these plans tradition bit the basic fee may be lower than that of car insurance schemes. Attention to the ‘law’ insurance plan follows. For example, the state lost in the U.S. state law requires car insurance infrastructure. Care if you are still covered by basic coverage if you are driving in the States. 3. Insurance schemes, the ‘original’ since to understand the types of insurance plans insurance plans as well as other essential items include legal, you ‘extra’ basic plan is comprehensive and collision schemes or personal choice, on top of the packages available will be able to find loads of life insurance, just to name a couple.

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Yourself exactly what you need and understand the details, ask the plan can cover your needs. 4. Get quotes for all applicable coverage, a lower insurance fee and further financial incentives often attracts people to the online application process, and only a later stage that they need to pay more for additional coverage to realize schemes. Make sure you get quotes for all plans and to sum them, which you make your car insurance quotes for real. 5. Many budget car insurance price comparison website for consumers to always get quotes from a smart functions. When you have quotes from various websites was an express and compare their prices and coverage to find out what suits you best. Various budget car insurance company in their insurance plans have different terms and you should be aware of that. At the end of the day, it’s who you need to set the subscription policy. 6. Contract renewal process timeline and most budget to insure you a ‘monthly’ fee, which logically feel an annual fee less than the quotes. Carefully check the online car insurance company a monthly payment or a lump sum annual payment will be required.

Another thing is if the contract monthly or yearly counts – which means you pay attention to the contract will expire in a year or 2 years, and how contracts need to be renewed. They notice or contract renewal, give or you need to ask for it, and you automatically debited to renew a contract without notice if you want to be? You should know all this out before your money is gone without seeing your account. 7. Insurance policy to enhance the flexibility of the insured amount or adding new insurance plans by insurance companies at the top always welcomed. However, when you plan to change a lower amount, you are banned or go through complex processes to be. Read the conditions carefully or call directly to the company before your application to understand the flexibility of car insurance. 8. Cancellation Policy No one likes to lose customers and because some insurance plans may be difficult to cancel the process. Understand the cancellation policy is very important, as the first one month cancellation notification required plans, or any other restriction applies if you want to cancel your membership.

9. Now you have a budget payment plan auto insurance is to understand the details and decided to go for it. Then you understand that the insurance company accepts payment method, and they incur additional costs in particular payment of payment of service or you can get additional discounts, etc. through 10 if you must. Beware claims direct auto insurance claim process examines how the process works with the company before you apply for. Discontents often appear between car owners and insurance company when you need to make a claim. You also claim to or available for immediate assistance contact methods should focus. In a nutshell … Afterall, a budget car insurance quotes online allows you very easy and economically attractive. As a smart consumer, you need to do in-depth information before you apply for a direct car insurance online. All online direct car insurance companies customer hotlines that you can ask for as much information as possible.

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Report urges Kenya to ban plastic bags

Wednesday, March 9, 2005File:Plastic bag stock sized.jpg

They are cheap, useful, and very plentiful, and that is exactly the problem, according to researchers. A report issued on Feb. 23 by a cadre of environment and economics researchers suggested that Kenya should ban the common plastic bag that one gets at the checkout counter of grocery stores, and place a levy on other plastic bags, all to combat the country’s environmental problems stemming from the bags’ popularity.

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Panda cub born in Taiwan to gifted Chinese pandas

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nine year old giant panda Yuan Yuan has given birth to a cub in a zoo in Taipei, Taiwan on Saturday at 8:05pm local time. The female cub was born weighing 6.4 ounces and measuring 6.1 inches. The cub won’t be on public display for another three to five months.

The cub, born out of an artificial insemination given in March, is under intensive care for its first week of life. It was the seventh attempt to get the nine-year old Yuan Yuan pregnant in a three year period. Yuan Yuan, and her mate, Tuan Tuan, were a gift from China to Taiwan in December, 2008, as a gesture of goodwill due to historical conflicts between the island of Taiwan and mainland China. The two pandas have failed to mate successfully through natural pregnancy, hence the use of artificial insemination. Yuan Yuan showed signs of pregnancy in early June and towards the end of the month caretakers believed she would soon give birth. Caretakers spent the night at the zoo, keeping a constant watch over Yuan Yuan during her birth.

China usually requests that cubs born in other countries be returned to China for care. China has agreed to allow the newborn cub to remain in Taiwan. Two Chinese panda specialists are at the zoo helping to care for the newborn.

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Exclusive interview with prominent blogger, David Farrar

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Freelance journalist writing for Wikinews, Gabriel Pollard, with help from Brian Anderton, has interviewed New Zealand-based blogger, David Farrar on blogging, web 2.0, and the Internet in general.

David Farrar is most known for his “fairly popular” blog, Kiwiblog, where he posts on various topics, including politics and technology. He is the vice-president of the Internet Society of New Zealand, and has been involved in helping to split Telecom New Zealand up and in anti-spam legislation.

David Farrar first started using the “best invention ever,” Internet, in February 1996 after having owned a BBC Micro microcomputer since 1982. On the Internet he debated various issues using Usenet newsgroups. Kiwiblog now serves for this purpose. He then got his own personal Internet account with ihug in August of that year.

Farrar also has political ties, which can be seen in some of his blog posts. For eight years, Farrar worked for various Prime Ministers (PM) and Opposition leaders for the National Party, working with the likes of former PM Jim Bolger and former PM Jenny Shipley in the Media Services Unit of Ministerial Services.

Until Farrar landed himself a job in parliament, he had been using mainly Apple computers, “[I] finally converted to Microsoft in 1997 after being the only person in Parliament to have a Mac!”

Farrar was involved with introducing public e-mail for ministers, and the first Prime Minister website.

In 2004, after leaving politics, Farrar set up his polling and research company.

Kiwiblog, sparked by now defunct blog NZ Pundit by Gordon King, currently receives over 300,000 visitors a month. He suspects that Russell Brown, and the Spareroom blogs get well over 100,000 visitors. “There’s then probably a dozen or so other bloggers who get into the tens of thousands.”

“Gordon [King] would post wonderful polemics challenging the conventional thinking and reporting, and after a few months of reading him I realized that I also had views and could try sharing them with the world. So in July 2003 I made my first post, and enjoyed it ever since.”

Farrar admits to not having a deliberate strategy for promoting himself and his blog, he just found that doing more posts in a day and posting what he was interested in got the visitors that were interested in the same things. “Oh and most important of all is to have a sense of humour and enjoy doing it.”

If Farrar wasn’t blogging, he says he would be “Earning money! I spend far too long blogging when I should be working on more business. However it is doing well enough that I can divide my time up between my business, InternetNZ and blogging and not starve.”

Farrar has a few tips for those politicians who have started a blog, or are looking at starting one up, “Very few are successful because [they] treat it as a one way communication tool where they just post press releases or travel diaries. Rodney Hide is the best example of doing it the right way. John Key is video blogging and responding to comments through future videos, which is a different way to interact.” But still warns that most readers of blog prefer “honest opinion” instead of reading what the politicians want them to read.

Farrar is a huge supporter of Wikipedia and says that he uses it multiples times a day. He says that he was “very proud” when the Wikipedia community regarded him as notable enough to have his own entry.

“I wish I had more time to edit Wikipedia. There’s lots more NZ content to get onto there.”

Sites like YouTube, which Farrar uses daily, show that they can leave big brand names like Google Video for dead if they show strong innovation, Farrar says.

Farrar says the success to websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube is because of multiple user generated content, “…rather than tightly controlled content from one source.” The focus on the community at large is also a major factor of their success.

When asked where he sees the Internet in decades from now, his simple response was, “I wish I knew.” But he does predict every house in New Zealand will be connected to the Internet via fibre optics.

One scenario Farrar drew was, “…being able to see a map of your local area on your phone, and not just get told where the nearest toilets or bookstore is, but also if any of your friends are nearby.”

David Farrar would just like to say thanks for the opportunity of being interviewed on Wikinews.

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Choosing The Best Plumbing Service In Appleton Wi For A Plumbing Upgrade

byAlma Abell

After getting by with older plumbing for several years, the time has come to have a professional rework the existing system. In order to make sure that the new plumbing offers all the benefits desired, it is important to choose the Best Plumbing Service in Appleton WI. Here are some ideas of what to discuss with the plumbing contractor and ensure that everything goes according to plan.

What Materials Would Last the Longest?

Most homeowners will want to use plumbing fixtures and materials designed to offer years of reliable service. When discussing the upgrade with the contractor, ask for specific information about the kind of materials recommended. The goal is to make sure that the components will hold up well in the years to come, and are also in full compliance with local building codes for residential properties.

How Can the System Be Improved?

After an inspection of the existing system, the contractor will likely have some ideas on how to make some changes that will ensure the new system is more efficient. For example, the connections that empty water out of the washing machine may be too small, or there could be a better way to configure the pipes leading to and from the bathroom. A more efficient system will make it easier to prevent some of the clogs and other problems that seemed to occur frequently with the older plumbing. Keep in mind that the improvements can include adding fixtures and features, relocating other elements, and possibly even eliminating some elements that are serving no useful purpose. The contractor can present the recommendations and explain the rationale behind them. That will make it easier for the homeowner to decide if they should be included.

What is the Cost?

While the emphasis is always on a high quality result, it never hurts to check the expense involved with replacing an older plumbing system. A representative from the Best Plumbing Service in Appleton WI will be happy to go over the particulars. Assuming that the estimate is within reason, it makes sense to authorize the team from Hansonsqualityplumbinginc.com to take care of the plumbing upgrade, and look forward to enjoy all the benefits that come with a fully efficient system.

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Controversial development training cited in religious discrimination lawsuits

Friday, May 23, 2008

A controversial development training course called “Landmark Forum” is cited in religious discrimination lawsuits in United States federal courts in New York and Washington, D.C. The seminars are run by a San Francisco, California-based for-profit training company called Landmark Education. The company evolved from Erhard Seminars Training “est”, and has faced criticism regarding its techniques and its use of unpaid labor. The sperm bank and surrogacy company Los Angeles-based Growing Generations is named as a defendant in the New York lawsuit, and the Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats is a defendant in the Washington, D.C. case.

In separate lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York, and in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., former employees are suing their employers for monetary damages and claiming religious discrimination after their employers allegedly mandated that they attend courses at Landmark Education.

In the US$3 million federal lawsuit filed in New York, Scott Glasgow is suing his former employer Growing Generations and its CEO Stuart Miller. Growing Generations maintains sperm banks and also arranges surrogacy for gay couples who wish to have children. The company has offices in New York and Los Angeles, and has done business with celebrities including actor B. D. Wong of Law & Order: SVU.

Glasgow was marketing director of Growing Generations, and claims he was fired in June 2007 after refusing to continue attending Landmark Education seminars. Glasgow is also suing for sexual harassment, and claims Miller came on to him in September 2006. He made approximately $100,000 per year as the company’s marketing director, and was the company’s only employee based out of New York City. The company’s main offices are in Los Angeles.

I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology.

“I was shocked when I was fired. It took me months to right myself. I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology,” said Glasgow in a statement in The Village Voice. Brent Pelton, one of Glasgow’s attorneys, stated that: “The Landmark philosophy is deeply ingrained in the culture of the company”. Glasgow said that the Landmark Education training courses were “opposite” to his Christian beliefs. According to Glasgow he was questioned by Miller in May 2007 after he walked out of a Landmark Education course, and was fired shortly thereafter. “We stand by the allegations contained in the complaint and we look forward to proving them at trial,” said Pelton in a statement to ABC News.

Ian Wallace, an attorney who represents Growing Generations, claimed that Glasgow wasn’t fired but walked away from his position. “Growing Generations and Mr. Miller are very confident that these claims will be dismissed ultimately, and there’s no factual basis for them whatsoever,” said Wallace in a statement to The Village Voice. Lawyers representing Growing Generations and Stuart Miller declined comment to The New York Post, and did not immediately return a message from ABC News.

In Glasgow’s complaint, entered into federal court record on April 18, he asserts that Landmark Education constitutes a “religion”, and “perceived their philosophy as a form of religion that contradicted his own personal beliefs”. He states that when he was promoted to Director of Marketing, he asked Miller if he could stop attending the Landmark sessions but was told that they were mandatory for all of the company’s executives and that Landmark is “very much the language of the company.” Glasgow said his performance at the company was assessed based on how he was “touching, moving and inspiring” others, a phrase from the Landmark philosophy, as opposed to his business accomplishments at the company. The complaint claims that the actions of Miller and Growing Generations violated Federal, New York State and New York City civil rights laws.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. deals with a separate plaintiff and company, but the plaintiff in the suit also claims that religious discrimination took place for allegedly being mandated to attend Landmark Education courses. Kenneth Goldman is suing the United States Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats (also 21st Century Democrats) and its former executive director Kelly Young. Goldman was formerly the communications director of 21st Century Democrats.

According to Goldman’s complaint, three employees of 21st Century Democrats were fired after refusing to attend the Landmark Forum course. The complaint asserts that Landmark Education has “religious characteristics and theological implications” which influenced the mission of 21st Century Democrats and the way the organization conducted business. Goldman’s complaint states that in addition to himself, a training director and field director were also fired after they made it clear they would not attend the Landmark Forum.

Goldman says executive director Young infused Landmark Education jargon terms into staff meetings such as “create possibilities”, “create a new context”, and “enroll in possibilities”. He also claims that Young “urged” staff members to participate in Landmark Education events outside of the workplace, drove employees to and from Landmark functions, and used funds from 21st Century Democrats to pay for employees to attend those functions. Goldman’s complaint asserts that he was discriminated against in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

While we are not a party to this lawsuit and have no firsthand knowledge of it, we can only assume that we are being used as a legal and political football to further the plaintiff”s own financial interests.

In a statement in The Washington Times, the executive director of 21st Century Democrats, Mark Lotwis, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said: “we’re going to defend our organization’s integrity”. Landmark Education spokeswoman Deborah Beroset said that the Landmark Forum “is in no way religious in nature and any claim to the contrary is simply absurd,” and stated: “While we are not a party to this lawsuit and have no firsthand knowledge of it, we can only assume that we are being used as a legal and political football to further the plaintiff”s own financial interests.”

The New York lawsuit was filed April 14, and is still in early filing stages. A conference with the federal court judge in the case has been scheduled for June 17. The Washington, D.C. suit began in November 2007, and entered mediation this past March. As of April 15 the parties in the case were due back to court on July 11 to update the court on the mediation process.

Landmark Education is descended from Erhard Seminars Training, also called “est”, which was founded by Werner Erhard. est began in 1971, and Erhard’s company Werner Erhard and Associates repackaged the course as “The Forum” in 1985. Associates of Erhard bought the license to his “technology” and incorporated Landmark Education in California in 1991.

This is not the first time employees have sued claiming mandatory attendance at “Forum” workshops violated their civil rights. In a lawsuit filed in December 1988 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, eight employees of DeKalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia sued their employer claiming their religious freedom and civil rights were violated when they were allegedly coerced into attending “Forum” training sessions. “Many of these training programs, particularly at large corporations, claim to be purely psychological, aimed at improving productivity and morale and loyalty. But in fact they are religious,” said University of Denver religious studies professor Carl Raschke in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

The DeKalb Farmers Market employees were represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union. Consulting Technologies Inc., an affiliate of Transformational Technologies Inc., was named as a party in the lawsuit. Transformational Technologies was founded by Werner Erhard, and was not named as a party in the suit. The “Forum” course that the employees claimed they were mandated to attend was developed by Werner Erhard and Associates. Employees said that they were fired or pressured to quit after they objected to the Forum courses.

The workers claimed that the Forum course contradicted with their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the suit included adherents of varying religious backgrounds, including Christianity and Hinduism. “The sessions put people into a hibernating state. They ask for total loyalty. It’s like brainwashing,” said Dong Shik Kim, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs said they lost their jobs after objecting to a “new age quasi-religious cult” which they said was developed by Werner Erhard.

The DeKalb Farmers Market denied the allegations, and an attorney for the company Edward D. Buckley III told The Wall Street Journal that employees were encouraged, not coerced, to attend the training sessions. According to The Wall Street Journal, The Forum said it would not sanction workers being coerced to attend its training sessions.

The parties in the DeKalb Farmers Market religious discrimination case came to a settlement in May 1989, and the case was dismissed with prejudice in June. The terms of the out-of-court settlement were not made public, but the employees’ attorney Amy Totenberg told The Wall Street Journal that the case “has made employers come to grips with the legitimate boundaries of employee training”.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must “reasonably accommodate” their employees’ religious beliefs unless this creates “undue hardship”. In September 1988, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a policy-guidance notice which stated that New Age courses should be handled under Title VII of the Act. According to the Commission, employers must provide “reasonable accommodation” if an employee challenges a training course, unless this causes “undue hardship” for the company.

In October 2006, Landmark Education took legal action against Google, YouTube, the Internet Archive and a website owner in Queensland, Australia in attempts to remove criticism of its products from the Internet. The company sought a subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to discover the identity of an anonymous critic who uploaded a 2004 French documentary of the Landmark Forum to the Internet. “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus) was produced by Pièces à Conviction, a French investigative journalism news program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the anonymous critic and the Internet Archive, and Landmark withdrew its subpoena in November 2006 in exchange for a promise from the anonymous critic not to repost the video.

Landmark Education itself has come under scrutiny for its controversial labor practices. The company has been investigated by the United States Department of Labor in separate investigations originating out of California, Colorado, and Texas. Investigations focused on the heavy reliance of unpaid labor in the company’s workforce, which Landmark Education calls “assistants” and deems volunteers.

An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor based out of Colorado found that activities performed by Landmark Education’s “assistants” include: “office, clerical, telephone solicitation and enrollment, as well as greeting customers, setting up chairs, handling microphones during the seminars and making coffee. Additionally, a number of volunteers actually teach the courses and provide testimonials during and after the courses.” The Colorado investigation’s 1996 report found that “No records are kept of any hours worked by any employees.” According to a 1998 article in Metro Silicon Valley: “In the end the Department of Labor dropped the issue, leaving Landmark trumpeting about its volunteers’ choice in the matter.” Metro Silicon Valley reported that Landmark Education at the time employed 451 paid staff, and also utilized the services of 7,500 volunteers.

After an investigation into Landmark Education’s labor practices by the U.S. Dept. Labor’s offices out of California, the company was deemed to have overtime violations. According to the Department of Labor’s 2004 report on the investigation, back wages of $187,569.01 were found due to 45 employees. An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor in Texas which concluded in 2005 stated: “Minimum wage violation found. Volunteers (Assistants) are not paid any wages for hours worked while performing the major duties of the firm. The assistants set up rooms, call registrants, collect fees, keep stats of classroom data/participants, file, they also are answering phones, training and leading seminars.”

The Texas investigation also discovered an overtime violation. Landmark Education agreed to pay back wages for the overtime violation, but did not comply with the overtime violation found by the U.S. Dept. Labor for the “assistants”. Landmark Education denied that the “assistants” are employees, though the Department of Labor report concluded: “Interviews reveal that the employees are taking payments, registering clients, billing, training, recruiting, setting up locations, cleaning, and other duties that would have to be performed by staff if the assistants did not perform them.”

According to the 2004 investigative report by Pièces à Conviction in the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program, Landmark Education was investigated by the French government in 1995. In the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program volunteers were filmed through a hidden camera and shown performing duties for Landmark Education in France including manning phones, recruitment and financial work for the company, and one volunteer was shown cleaning a toilet.

Le Nouvel Observateur reported that after “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” aired in France, labor inspectors investigated Landmark Education’s use of unpaid volunteers. According to Le Nouvel Observateur, one month after the labor investigation took place the French branch of the company had disbanded. A former “Introduction Leader” to the Landmark Forum, Lars Bergwik, has recently posted a series of videos to YouTube critical of the company and its practices. Bergwik appeared on a 2004 investigative journalism program on Sweden’s Channel 4, Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts). According to Bergwik, after the Kalla Fakta program on Landmark Education aired, “Landmark left Sweden”.

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Sri Lanka bombs LTTE, aid workers seek access

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sri Lanka government jets bombed the LTTE on front lines in the battle for the Jaffna peninsula as fighting continued in the ethnic strife. The last week of fighting has claimed the lives of hundreds.

Government air strikes continued on targets in the northern rebel-held territory of Kilinochchi and near the eastern port town of Trincomalee.

The peninsula, which has largely been cut off form the outside world, has seen tens of thousands have flee their homes. There are shortages of food and lines for fuel.

During a brief break in the fighting, the UN tried to get food and water to some of the worst-off areas.

“We need both sides to stop fighting so we can get proper access to the area,” said UNHCR representative Amin Awad. “Food is getting low and we have worries about water and sanitation.”

The World Food Program said it was feeding more than 50,000 people in camps who fled fighting in and around Trincomalee, where there was only sporadic gunfire overnight.

The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is an ongoing conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. Since the 1983 “Black July” pogrom, there has been on-and-off civil war, mostly between the government and the LTTE who want to create an independent state of called Tamil Eelam in the north and east of the island. It is estimated that the war has left 65,000 people dead since 1983 and caused great harm to the population and economy of the country. A cease-fire was declared in 2002, but hostilities renewed in late 2005 following military operations against Tiger-controlled territory in the east.

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