Biased Journalism Vol. 3, issue 5

Biased Journalism : a net magazine designed to compensate for the shortcomings of the professional news media. We cover issues of interest to the citizens of cyberspace. This is a community newspaper of the net.

Copyright 1997 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.

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Biased Journalism Volume 3, Number 5 August 24, 1997


  1. Picketing Brief (San Francisco, August 23)
  2. Touch Assist in San Jose (July 18 hearing)
  3. ISP of the Undead (Inside Cybercom)
  4. Phenomenon Unmasked (David Oates)
  5. FACTNet Reprise
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!

1. Picketing Notes: San Francisco, August 23

It was a hot day in San Francisco, with an intense blue sky and a busy reach of white clouds zipping past overhead. The usual cool, dank summer weather has not put in an appearance this year.

Passing the soup kitchen, with its long line of hollow eyed men and women, we rounded the corner onto McAllister. At the corner sits the beautiful old Hibernia Bank building, which has been converted into a police substation. The front doors are chained shut; the steps below the graceful portico are blocked with a metal fence. Pigeons squat insolently on the stairs. The wall smells of urine. Around the corner we notice that metal spikes have been installed to prevent the homeless from sitting on the building. "Such a resting found the sole of unblest feet" came to us unbidden (John Milton, "Paradise Lost"). There is a long row of unoccupied police cars and a dumpster, being mined for its useful contents. A pile of old clothes, mostly children's, grows on the sidewalk.

The org comes into view. Wayne Whitney's lime green sign is brightly visible. Another netizen has joined Whitney with his own sign ("Scientology Hurts People"). A few scientologists mill around, including Alex, the amiable Steve Martin look-alike. We note that a table and chairs have been set up in front of the org. Several copies of Dianetics and a blue plastic e-meter are on the table. Three or four scientologists cluster around the table, smiling intensely. Watching the dynamics, we note that there appear to be fishers in front of the org on the other side of the building, bringing prospective recruits around to the table. A sign at the table says "Free Stress Test."

We watch prospects getting the stress test. They appear to be having a good time. The scientologists talk animatedly, smiling, smiling and smiling. Our cheeks start to hurt.

We watch Alex hand flyers to a group of men who came from the soup kitchen around the corner. After a bit we see that the fisher has a live one: a well-dressed black family, comprising a couple and their adult daughter. They obviously did not come from the soup kitchen, and they obviously do not know what Hubbard said about black people. The daughter is e-metered to the delight of all concerned, but afterward the family moves on. No Sale.

Local citizens provide the show on this occasion. Street people (frequently coming from the direction of the soup kitchen, or heading in that direction) give outspoken raucous support to the picketers. Drivers honk and wave: "It's a scam all right! Yeah!" A woman bystander quizzes the pickets on their views, and then settles down to join the picket. At one point we see Alex handing a leaflet to a passerby, who looks interested and starts to read it. The woman immediately points to Wayne Whitney's sign and says "you should talk to this man." It is a well timed interruption. Alex looks regretful. No Sale.

We had an opportunity to talk to Alex, and asked him a question which had been on our mind for some time. Did Alex go up to Arcata to spy on Grady Ward? Alex firmly denies it. He asserts that he has never been to the town Grady lives in and he has never spied on Grady Ward. Grady identified Alex, but we wondered whether he could have been mistaken. Alex does not impress us as PI material. We'd like to believe he is telling the truth.

Meanwhile Wayne Whitney has had two difficult customers. The first was a large fit-looking individual who was clearly distrustful of others. He was a deafmute, and controlled his personal space by adopting karate fighting stances accompanied by murderous glares. Not wanting a foot in the face, we kept our distance. He trusted Wayne, and the two exchanged notes on paper for a long time.

Subsequently an older woman buttonholed Wayne to second his views, and then digressed into reminiscences that were difficult to follow. Wayne was uniformly gentle and attentive. We understood why the church had tried so hard to recruit him. Personal courage and intrinsic kindness are rare qualities, impossible to fake.

Keith Henson appears. His sign says "What Happened to Odhran Fortune?" Below that, "Does the Bridge really cost $360,000?" and below that "Wogs at Cause/Knights of Xenu." Henson distributes a leaflet with the story of Lisa McPherson. Alex hovers anxiously but there is nothing he can do about it.

Just as Henson arrives the recruiters give up for the afternoon. The e-meter, table and chairs are carried back into the org. We realize that we missed our chance for a Free Stress Test.

Wayne and Alex converge on the last live one of the day, a cheerful woman on a bicycle. Alex offers leaflets and grease (pro scientology public relations). Wayne politely lets him have his say. The bicyclist engages Alex in quick repartee, during which the fact emerges that she is a schoolteacher. She then proceeds to give Alex the third degree, wanting to know how much it costs to go through the entire program and brushing off his efforts to duck the question. This frustrates Alex, who gives up in the middle of a sentence and flees to the other end of the sidewalk, leaving the teacher laughing. No Sale.

The picket has been uneventful, thanks to the absence of Jeff Quiros, Darlene Bright and the Great Yellow Bus (bearing the Jive Aces, who reportedly stopped by on Friday but have moved on to another engagement.) More news as it happens.

2. Touch Assist: July 18, 1997 (hearing report)

It was a hot day in San Jose, even at eight in the morning. The sky was blue and splashed with puffy white clouds. In the west the clouds are dark; in a different season they would be rain clouds. This far into the summer the brush by the freeway is entirely brown, and the trees are wearing their gray-green summer coats. Above and around the commuters work continues on the cyclopean mass of new freeways, cleverly designed to solve the traffic problems of the Bay Area by importing vast numbers of additional cars. Unfortunately no one had the foresight to enlarge San Francisco. We expect to see the mother of all bond issues when this fact comes to light.

But we digress. We arrived at the Robert A. Peckham U.S. courthouse and federal building a few minutes before 9 am. The courtyard was almost empty. The long lines of immigrants were gone. The guards in the reception area were using highly sensitive new equipment for metal detection, easily triggered by buttons and zippers. We felt sorry for visitors with rings in unusual places. (After watching the Gay Freedom Day parade, we couldn't help having such thoughts.)

Whyte's courtroom is crowded. We are lucky to find a place to sit. The right front side of the spectators' section is occupied by RTC. Eric Lieberman, looking rested, sprawls cheerfully in the aisle seat. Next to him in different shades of charcoal gray are Roger Milgrim, Warren McShane, Tom Hogan and Alan Cartright. Milgrim is not wearing the detestable tie. His current choice, subdued gray stripes on a maroon background, blends nicely with his suit, which is a medium gray. McShane has gotten a haircut. Alan Cartright looks exactly the same, as if he had been freeze dried and reconstituted.

On the left hand side of the spectators' area, we notice familiar faces. On the aisle there is Mr. Goldman from Morrison and Foerster, representing Dennis Erlich. Next to him is Harold McIlhenny, and next to him is Carla Oakley, wearing a Princess Di haircut and an impeccably tailored fawn colored suit. At her feet are a leather portfolio and a large lawyer's briefcase. She projects enough serious concentration to clear a small space on the bench to her left. A few unconnected lawyers wedge themselves into the remaining inches.

In the second row on the left side, Grady Ward sits on the aisle. His attire has undergone, in a modest way, a transformation parallel to the improvement in his legal pleadings. He is wearing his gray suit and a red tie with small black dots. The effect is businesslike but cheerful. Next to him is Keith Henson, in a navy suit and striped tie suitable for a corporate boardroom. Next to Henson is netizen Seekon, and next to him is a charming woman visitor from Europe, who took time out to see one of the famous hearings in San Jose. [Debriefing later in the coffee shop, she admitted she found the workings of the American legal system amazingly strange.] On her left is Xmudder, and ourselves. The rest of the courtroom is packed, and a few people take standing room in the rear.

'Here come the judge.' ["All rise," the clerk said.]

Everyone stands. Judge Whyte appears with preternatural swiftness at the bench. Does he teleport, or is there a trapdoor? we wonder. He looks saturnine.

The first group of lawyers is called. "There has been a remand to determine whether or not Zond should be a party to the proceedings..." They drone on at length about a matter in which the FTC has allegedly barred importation of a device owned by one American company in order to protect another American company. One lawyer, an older woman in a black and white checked suit, talks at length in perfectly framed sentences like a law book. The opposing lawyer sits at the council table, folds his hands in an attitude of prayer and chews the ends of his fingers. We think this body language means "I haven't got a prayer." From his angle the Judge probably cannot see it.

The woman lawyer goes on and on. It is a high quality argument. Finally Judge Whyte says "What effect does it have if Zond becomes a party, and what effect does it have if Zond does not become a party?" The lawyers answer him at length.

The Judge is interested despite himself. The lawyers are good, and they are doing his thinking for him. The mood is refined and professional, a far cry from the tumultuous scientology cases waiting in the wings.]

"A very ill-conceived action..." the woman lawyer calmly characterizes a maneuver by the opposition. The opposing lawyer winces.

The gist of her argument is that Zond must be kept in the suit because he swore out a [bogus] complaint against her client--that is, he signed it under oath--and he concealed the retrofitting of some of the parts of the apparatus in question. [It's not nice to fool Mother Nature]

Judge Whyte leans forward attentively. "[you could charge him with] malicious prosecution, certainly, but how can a consultant be liable for an antitrust action?"

She replies that he works closely with the principal defendant and participated actively in this party's [reprehensible] actions. "We need his discovery."

[Her calm, measured delivery carries a certainty that brooks no argument. We yearned for the ability to say "It's your turn to do the dishes" just this way.]

Whyte: with respect to antitrust, are individual principals liable?

Lawyer: yes.

"None of this is an antitrust violation against Electrotech," the opposing lawyer retorts feebly. It doesn't wash. He is out of his league. The luckless Zond will be called to account for his misdeeds.

The next case is quick and simple. Only one lawyer appears. Counsel for the moving party has withdrawn. The Judge directs the attorney to move for default.

"VSL versus General Technology," the clerk says. The netwar contingent sighs. [The effort to follow the antitrust case was tiring for everyone. Lawyers in the audience fidget when they think the Judge isn't looking, and break for the restroom when a new case is called.]

Suddenly Darlene Bright, Director of Special Affairs for Stevens Creek [San Jose] appears. In place of her usual casual attire, Darlene is wearing a cherry red suit and high heels. She has brought an assistant: a carroty blonde wearing a taupe two-piece dress with a very short skirt and very lowcut top. They sit beind Xmudder, whom Bright has been attempting to handle over the last few momths. [She quit calling him when he put "Hail Xenu!" on his answering machine.] We wonder if the blonde is there to pinch-hit for Darlene.

Then Helena Kobrin enters the room. She is wearing a long white skirt and a spiffy black jacket with white trim on the collar. The effect is elegant and pleasing. However, the attorney has a girded-for-battle look. She seems tense and withdrawn. She carries a big soft leather portfolio full of documents.

We notice that Roger Milgrim is wearing a brilliant red handkerchief, boldly stuffed into his jacket pocket. Perhaps judges like shiny objects and bright colors. Milgrim is exquisitely barbered, his hair shiny and so slicked down that it looks painted on. His hair is parted in an interesting chevron stripe that makes an island of his crown; after a moment we realize that it suggests a yarmulke. We guess that the nuance is lost on Judge Whyte, who radiates "whitebread Protestant."

The Hewlett Packard case drones on and on. A freak reflection paints a rainbow on the shoulder of Carla Oakley's suit, like a tricolor sash. She studies a legal document. Another netizen arrives, taking up a seat behind Henson. Darlene Bright takes a rest break. Left to her own devices, the girl in taupe slugs everyone with a heavy-duty charge of entheta. [We made ourselves another teflon shield.]

Lawyers before the Judge wrangle about someone getting a recipe and then using it later when he left the company. Judge Whyte says something about a breach of confidential relationship. The lawyer who brought the suit is dropping his trade secret claims, but wants to maintain that the recipe is proprietary and confidential.

We gather that the recipe is for a type of plastic. Evidently the company that filed suit persuaded a purchasing authority to issue a set of standards that precisely fit its product. To its annoyance someone else bid on the contract. They discovered that a former employee worked for the competitor. They sued, accusing him of copying their proprietary product.

How close is this [the defendant's recipe] to the one your company uses? Judge Whyte asks. "The case hasn't gotten that far yet," the attorney replies. No one has done any chemical tests.

Whyte: (tartly) Well, if they send those standards to someone else and he supplies a product that resembles the defendant's, you're screwed, aren't you?

The lawyer admits that is true. He makes an indecipherable statement involving a lot of arm motion, conveying to everyone watching that his client does not want to have any tests done.

The defending attorney complains that the case was originally brought as a trade secret case. Now the plaintiff wants to change his claims. The defense is having to swing at a moving target.

The lawyers drone on, flinging chemical terms at one another. Poly- propylene...polyethylene... The plastic has not even been analyzed! You are going to talk even though I said it's over, Judge Whyte says darkly. He gives himself a long moment to gather his forces after they leave. Lawyers take advantage of the change of cases to scurry out of the courtroom for a stroll in the corridor. It is a busy day in the courthouse. The long benches of the corridor are dotted with lawyers.

Next is "a patent case which has its own special rules..." It is a jurisdictional issue. "Plaintiff must make an affirmative showing of standing. There is no evidence to support standing on the part of the Plaintiffs."

"Nobody has authenticated the licensing agreement," Judge Whyte says.

This is not the only problem. A letter dated in November apparently refers to a December event. "It does now," a lawyer says, "but none of us know when that language was added to the letter."

There's a real problem with who authenticated those documents, the Judge says. [Apparently the Plaintiff's lawyer signed the authentication himself.] But the Plaintiffs filed a document stating under penalty of perjury that they could authenticate the documents. And they can't.

The Plaintiff's lawyer admits this but weasels. "Down the road we have the burden of proof." Whyte is not impressed.

It is 10:30 a.m.

The RTC case is called. Immediately Carla Oakley, Harold McIlhinny and Paul Goldstein go forward for Dennis Erlich. Tom Hogan, Roger Milgrim, Eric Lieberman, Helena Kobrin and Bill Hart stand up for RTC.

"What I want to do is take the issue with regard to the motion to withdraw trade secret claims first," the Judge says. "On the order to show cause with regard to sanctions, did you file anything?" He is asking this of the Morrison and Foerster group, who say that they did not. [Judge Whyte is referring to his own motion in the case asking RTC to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for failure to file required documents with the court.]

Tom Hogan stands in front of the Judge alone, looking woeful. "The culprit is the person standing before you and no one else," he says humbly. He admits his guilt. One of the exhibits in the Ward case would have been 99 binders, Your Honor. Prior to the June 6 hearing all of the copies including the chambers copy were in Hogan's office. The file copies were never filed. "They were in the office and available to Grady Ward," Hogan contends. Hogan "neglected to recall" that "when we filed on April 18 we took out "bulky" and "lengthy" materials. It turned out that those materials had not been filed or delivered to the court or seved on the defendants. On July 2 Hogan brought the chambers copies and filed the file copies. Hogan apologizes to the clerks and the court for the inconvenience. "I offer no defense." ["If he offers to fall on his sword I'll get him one," a netizen whispers hopefully.]

Paul Goldstein of MoFo [Erlich case] "We were not prejudiced. We have other problems, but this was not among them."

Judge Whyte, foe of courtroom dramatics, hastens to reassure Hogan. This case--all these cases--are a nightmare for staff. He just wanted an explanation of the delay. He will give some extra time to Grady Ward. "I accept your explanation. I am not going to issue sanctions." [Parts of the audience sigh.]

Whyte then says he wants to get into the trade secret claims, and do it all at once. Keith Henson and Grady Ward join MoFo at the right hand counsel table.

Reading from a piece of paper, the Judge quickly rattles off his proposed decision. The motion to dismiss trade secret claims is granted. The determination of prevailing party shall be deferred. He understands Erlich's position, that trade secrets are a major factor in his case. The determination of prevailing party relates to attorneys' fees and shall be deferred until later. [The RTC attorneys bristle covertly.] With respect to the request to keep discovery open, discovery is now closed in all three cases. The motion is moot.

The trade secrets claims are dismissed with prejudice, the Judge concludes.

For Mofo, Harold McIlhenny says "regarding the prevailing party, we do intend to move to forfeit part of the bond that was posted on the preliminary injunction, part of which refers to trade secrets."

Whyte agrees "the trade secrets are dismissed without prejudice to your claim."

McIlhenny: we want the right to argue that the trade secret case was brought in bad faith.

Whyte: okay. I want to make clear that I am not agreeing with Morrison & Foerster however [about bad faith].

Milgrim: We don't agree with anything. [He wants to forestall any discussion of the merits.]

Whyte wants to make sure that Milgrim agrees with the tentative ruling. If they (MoFo) later make a motion you won't raise the issue that they should have done it now.

Milgrim: Okay. [He then says something indecipherable, which sounds to us like 'don't bet on it.']

Whyte: in light of your position that the trade secrets aspect of your motion is inoperative, the preliminary injunctions will be modified in all three cases. Whyte asks Henson if he wants to say anything.

Henson: can I read one page into the record?

Whyte: (apprehensively) yes, if it's relevant.

Henson: Your Honor, on the trade secret issue, Scientology, through RTC, is abusing trade secret laws and the Federal courts to limit public disclosure of the damages their quack medical "proceedures" do to people.

Scientology does apply illegal medical treatments to people. If your Honor doubts this I have the "treatment" notes for Lisa McPherson right here in my hands. These treatment notes detail restraint, injections and the administration of chloral hydrate, a DEA Class 4 drug. The result, as detailed in the current issue of Newsweek, was fatal.

Over the years Scientology may have caused as many deaths as the Heaven's Gate cult. Letting RTC withdraw trade secret claims instead of ruling against them will contributed to future deaths.

Milgrim: (uncoiling like a snake) We move to strike that as inflammatory and immaterial.

Whyte: (to Henson) There's no evidence. What you read is someone's accusation. [Whyte strikes the item.]

Now it is Grady Ward's turn to comment on the proposed ruling. He does not oppose the Motion to Dismiss trade secret claims. "As a pro per I feel bludgeoned enough by this." Ward says he is in no position to oppose a motion to withdraw claims.

Whyte: (definitely not giving legal advice) "Well, you heard Mr. McIlhenny state his client's position [with regard to the issue of bad faith and the bond]. Nothing precludes you from doing likewise."

There is a brief pause. Then the Judge takes up a loose end. "Mr. Ward, I forgot one other issue. There is a request from RTC to show cause why Mr. Ward should not be held in contempt for publicizing materials on the Internet that were sealed in an order by Judge Infante.

It comes to me [Whyte continued] looking at the order Magistrate Judge Infante wrote, that if you literally followed the order, the names of the persons who were searched for in your phone records should have been submitted to Infante under seal. The order was designed to keep secret the phone records. The purpose was not to make the names submitted by RTC with respect to Grady Ward's phone records secret.

Whyte will not find Ward in contempt, but "Mr. Ward, you are on dangerous ground. By publicizing the names there was a technical violation of the order, but not of the purposes of the order.

Tom Hogan slips in the knife. "If this were the only case we wouldn't make an issue of it. But Grady Ward has a predilection of whatever he gets his hands on, it's on the Internet."

Grady Ward soulfully pleads ignorance of the law. As a humble pro per, he did his best to understand the order.

Whyte: (with asperity) You have used that excuse too often and inappropriately. (He scolds Ward, whose body language says that he understands where the Judge is coming from and is not intimidated.)

The nuance is not lost on Whyte. He launches into a lecture. "What does sealing mean?"

Ward replies that only a judge can see it (a sealed document).

A brief discussion ensues, reminiscent of the territorial interaction between male sea lions, in which Whyte finally says "if it's under seal, it's under seal. Better learn that."

Whyte: with respect to the motions for summary judgment, it would be helpful to have counsel meet with my law clerk to go over the problems. [He elaborates at length.] There are cases where an exhibit is cited but no page or line number is given. There are references to depositions which are attached to declarations, but no one tells us which declarations they are attached to... With respect to postings, the posting will be given to us, but no guidance as to which part is verbatim scientology doctrine and what is not. We found it very difficult to track down the copyright documents and numbers. There are cites to depositions and to particular pages, but then the pages aren't attached anywhere...

Whyte flourishes a document. This is (he informs the lawyers) his clerk's memorandum about the deficiencies in the filings. It is six pages long. When the law clerk can't do it, it puts the Court in an impossible position, Whyte says.

There is inconsistency between the moving papers filed and the moving papers Ms. Oakley is working from, Whyte complains. [We have the feeling that the lecture is meant more for RTC than MoFo.]

I'd like you to meet with my law clerk, Whyte says. We've got things spread over the library table [like a dead anaconda, his tone intimates]. So that when we go to trial, things will be in order.

The words "when we go to trial" hang in the air like fairy dust. Whyte has never before admitted directly that these cases might go to trial.

Whyte invites the lawyers to go into the library and meet with the law clerk. Looking unhappy, the RTC lawyers go into the secret door. From their faces we can see that this is not a surprise. MoFo follows along.

Whyte asks the parties for a stipulated case management conference order agreed to by everyone. Recalling the previous case management conference, which we recounted in "The Envelope, Please!" we look forward to it.


Netizens repaired to the cafeteria to have a snack and discuss the hearing. Darlene Bright and the sulky blonde appeared, looking wound-up and tense. Their principal object of interest was a reporter for the solid press. They had their innings with him. Then netizens filled him in on some colorful details of the scientology-Internet feud.

Later Darlene returned. She was greeted by the netizens. Keith Henson asked a question about Lisa McPherson. Instead of an answer she gave Henson a firm controlling touch on the shoulder. As she turned away Henson said "is that a touch assist, Darlene?" The netizens howled with mirth.

Grady Ward had some comments about the hearing:

On July 18, 1997, Judge Ronald M. Whyte declared from the bench that he was going to dimiss the trade secret claims by the criminal cult from all three lawsuits. He said that he would reserve for later the designation of "prevailing party" and the assignement of costs and the disposition of the trade secret portion of the bond that the cult had to put up to get an injunction.

This means that MoFo, Keith, and I, for example, could be awarded costs and attorney's fees plus several thousand dollars in bond because the criminal cult decided to opt out of a claim after a lot of litigation and on the eve of trial. However, this may be best used as a bargaining and settlement tool.

In any event, half the lawsuit has been dismissed with prejudice. And the Internet has *prevailed* with respect to the trade secret issue.

Obviously the cult decided to drop it because with the filings in Sweden, the web sites in Norway, and the large number of declarations from around the world explaining how the NOTs and other cult crime specs are publicly known. It directly demonstrates the power of the net over the mundane world of criminal cult litigation.

3. Isp of the Undead -- End Papers for Cybercom

Ron Newman, Sheriff of ars, was forced to change service providers earlier this year. He is currently at <>. The experience cost Newman weeks of annoyance and more than a thousand dollars in legal fees. As we recounted in the previous issue, Cybercom terminated Newman's service in retaliation for a critical post he made, complaining about the collapse of service and the inaccessibility of management. Newman sued. Cybercom finally settled, reluctantly and with poor grace. Newman told us that they finally gave him his files and put up the links he wanted to his new web page, but they never apologized.

We attempted to interview Cybercom, but our telephone calls were not returned. Fortunately David Marshall obtained an interview, which appears at the end of his string of letters (reprinted with permission).

Read on. The truth is worse than you think, and funnier.

Subject: ILL Connections
Date: Fri, 09 May 1997 18:42:17 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
To: Cyber Access <>
I can get/sent email, but as of 5pm today, I can't get on the Internet. When will this problem be solved? This is very irritating.


Subject: Cyber Access Denied
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 19:35:49 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
To: Cyber Access <>
It's 7:30pm on Monday, May 12, 1997. Since 5:00pm last Friday, it has been impossible to send or retrieve email, browse the web or send attached files to my clients. Since my business is creating electronic art for a variety of publishers who have email, I depend on internet access to email artwork every day (including this weekend.) Therefore, this unexpected detachment has been chaotic. If you can't dependably provide the services you advertise, then what the hell am I paying you for?

Today, for instance, was my deadline to deliver finished art to a client in Framingham. With no 'net access, I had to drive all the way to Framingham and back this afternoon. Fucking pain in the ass. What response do I get from the Cyber Access network of know-it-alls? Silence for Saturday and Sunday. A taped outgoing message on your answering machine on Monday morning. No human contact, not one sign of respect or professional courtesy. You guys may be really smart when it comes to computers (although this weekend didn't exactly gain you any credibility in that category), but you're definitely retarded when it comes to commerce and customer relations!

Since May of last year, I have been a faithful, loyal customer of Cyber Access. Indeed, I have also given you at least two other clients, because your service, for the most part, has been wonderfully bland.

But the few times there has been trouble in paradise, your vendor-to-customer response has been lacking. As a Macintosh user, I believed your statements of your Macintosh platform capabilities. Yet every time there was a technical problem, I always had to solve the problem myself. Since I am not a tech support specialist, this took up a lot of my time. (Sorry, Augustine, but in this case you were useless.) In addition, when I then offered you the updated shareware I eventually found (PPPop 1.2, Mac TCP/IP 1.1.1 for PowerMac compatibility), I then had to hound you to get a free month of service.

In general, your disaster response to your customers has been dreadful. You don't answer the telephone, return phone calls or email, you don't offer free time for customers who save your ass, and you don't inform us about the screwups. It looks like you don't think of us as people very much. If you did, you would be a lot more forthcoming, respectful and informative. At worst, it looks like the only use you have for us is taking our money.

In this last disaster, the damage control message on your answering machine is not satisfactory: I want more than just a taped apology. For starters, I want answers! Why the hell is it taking this long for you to address this problem? I can see an hour or two of service interruption, but FIVE FUCKING DAYS?!! Was working on the weekend too much to ask? Not it my business, it ain't.

Speaking of business, I want another free month of access for putting up with this bullshit! This whole internet thing isn't just some leisure time activity; I send artwork, bills and download text every day. This is something I need in order to generate income, so that I can pay you to take my money and disrespect me in times of crisis.

But lastly, what I really want is a detailed explanation -- in writing -- of not only this screwup, but also of what your plans are to assure us customers that this nonsense will never happen again. This five-day (so far) interruption of service is more than just "inconvenient." It is expensive, time-consuming and unacceptable. With a million other ISPs out there, I want a reason to keep supporting you.

David Marshall

Subject: ILL Connection
Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 09:34:05 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
To: Cyber Access <>
Alright. It's 9:30am on Wednesday. Internet access seems okay, but now I am shut out of my email box. You know, the one that's been building up since Friday? As usual, I can't reach on the telephone. What's up?


Subject: ILL Notice
Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 19:50:11 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
To: Cyber Access <>
Here is the text to something I faxed you an hour ago. Please bear in mind that I still have no idea where a weeks worth of email is. I mean every word:

422 Salem St. Suite #152
Medford, MA 02155
876-5660 phone
497-1582 fax


Your internet and email services shut down last Friday (May 9) afternoon, and have yet to be fully restored. According to the outgoing message on your own answering machine , service would be fully operational by Tuesday afternoon, May 13. Sadly, as of today's writing, this is not the case. While I can browse the web, I am still shut off from my email.

During the entire time of this crisis, Cyber Access has not responded to any of the phone calls or email I've sent in an attempt to discover just when, how -- or if -- you would ever solve this critical problem. In this information vacuume, as of this very moment, I no longer have any confidence in Cyber Access' ability or competence in dealing with this "inconvenience."

Even if I can properly access by tomorrow (May 15) morning, I still want you to immediately stop using my credit card for billing purposes; I'll pay with a mailed, monthly paper check instead. If you do not send me specific information -- or better yet, full operational service -- by noon tomorrow, then I feel I have no other alternative than to close my account with Cyber Access.


David S. Marshall

Subject: ILL Cancelled
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 20:33:20 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
To: Cyber Access <>
Dear Cyber Access:

I hereby cancel my internet service account with Cyber Access, effective immediately. The recent service interruption, combined with your apparent indifference to the concerns of us paying customers, makes it impossible to believe this nonsense couldn't happen again.

I drove to 422 Salem Street this afternoon, hoping to speak with someone employed by Cyber Access, sign any closing paperwork and get any old email from last weekend. Imagine my surprise to find out that address is merely a mailbox rental. Ha ha.

Since your phones are still no being answered, this notice will be faxed, mailed and emailed to your office today.

David Marshall
Marshall Art Studio

Date: Wed, 04 Jun 1997 23:26:19 +0000
From: "David S. Marshall" <>
Organization: Marshall Art Studio
Subject: ILL with Augustine
My Meeting with Augustine
(More Cyber Access Blues)
May 23, 1997

Hey! I just came back from Cyber Access today. No, I didn't engage in any actionable acts of violence. Temptation was strong. But that's getting ahead of myself. The building itself is unremarkable, and looks a little rundown. One of those little office structures on Mass Ave. Dentists, laywers, notary publics. You get the point. I knock on the Cyber Access door, and this tense voice bleeps out a barely audible "who is it?" I announce my name and he lets me in.

Augustine stands about 5'8", can't be any older than 25. White dude, shoulder-length blond hair pinned back in a pony tail. Expressionless face. Monotone voice. He was alone. The office itself, however, was the real story. Dark, food wrappers, wires and plaster all over the floor. Pornagraphers have better-kept offices.

I asked him if Cyber Access closed my account, as I instructed them to do last week. After all, I still didn't hear anything from them since their BIG CRASHDOWN. He says "oh yeah, we got all your messages." Terrific, I thought. All that stuff I wrote about them needing to respond to their customers didn't faze St. Augustine a bit. When I told him that if he "sent me any notice of receiving my message, I wouldn't be here in the office now." At this point, I wondered if a smack in his nuts would change that facial expression.

Once he allowed me to have Cyber Access forward all my old email to my new address, I just had to interview the BIG A. Here, then, is the Gospel According to Saint Augustine:

1. He knows there's a nasty rumor about them being bankrupt. Utterly false, although a lot of people owe Cyber Access a lot of money.

2. The reason they went offline is that they were planning to convert from MCI-driven T1 lines to ISDN. When the finances for the ISDN didn't work, MCI wouldn't take them back. [Right.]

3. Addressing the needs of 1,500 small customers is pointless. He'd rather respond to the 30 big clients. Although, according the email that I've received in the past two weeks, he ain't exactly inclined to feel their pain, either.] I'm sure there's more shit, but that's all I remember now.

4. Sending a global email to all their clients would be premature. After all, despite their best-laid [two words I would never associate with Augustine] plans, there is still no concrete plan for getting back online.

5. Every other employee has abandoned ship. Augustine says he sticks around "because of all this equipment I can use for my benefit." [Nice to see such selflessness in action, particularly with my money on the line.]

--and no more was heard from Cybercom.

4. Phenomenon unmasked: the amazing work of David Oates

What if we unconsciously betray our inner thoughts and deepest secrets in our speech? What if the mechanism that produces language embeds messages in reverse while we are talking normally?

Oates freely admits that there is no scientific proof of his thesis. Nevertheless, the examples provided on his web page are fascinating and persuasive. Notables quoted include Bob Dole, O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton and others. Visitors to the page can read the text and hear the audio.

An article entitled "Subliminal messages in John Travolta's movie 'Pheonomenon.'" will be of interest to ars readers. David Oates gave us permission to reprint it. We encourage readers to visit the web page to listen to the sound files described in the article.


By David John Oates
Copyright 1996

In the middle of 1996, John Travolta's new movie Phenomenon was released. The movie was about a simple farmer who was hit by a strange beam of light from the sky. This gave him amazing new intelligence and unexplained powers.

Since the movie's release, controversy has begun to arise concerning its real message and purpose. According to the Globe tabloid, which quotes two disc jockeys from Flint Michigan, Phenomenon is riddled with secret references to John Travolta's belief in Scientology.

One of the specific claims is that the movie's theme song, "I have the touch", sung by British rocker Peter Gabriel, contains hidden backward messages. The most obvious, according to Mitch Gill and Tommy Walker (the Michigan DJs) is the very clear phrase, "Don't you miss Ron?" This is supposedly a reference to Scientology's founder, the late Ron Hubbard. I spoke with Mitch and Tommy by phone and was curious enough to do some of my own research.

As charges of intentional backmasking were denied by Peter Gabriel's publicist, I initially assumed that the song contained the standard speech reversals that I have discovered occur in all music and speech. As these reversals are a natural function of the human mind, they appear in all songs and are, naturally, unplanned by the recording studio or artist. It seemed fairly logical to me that speech reversals would occur that supported Travolta's belief in Scientology. There seemed to be nothing too sinister in that.

However, I was in for a shock when I finally obtained a copy for the album after being approached by the nationally syndicated TV program, "Extra", for my opinion on the controversy. The very first thing I noticed as I played the song forwards was an intentionally backmasked message right at the beginning of the album. Intentional backmasking is totally different from Reverse Speech. Reverse Speech naturally occurs in the human mind as an automatic function of language. Backmasking is a recording technique where the studio superimposes a soundtrack backwards over the forward soundtrack. It is easy to recognise. It sounds like gibberish when the track is played forwards and becomes an intelligible sentence when the track is played backwards.

Reverse Speech has no superimposed soundtrack and occurs solely by the way the words are sung or spoken at the time the recording is made.

Listen to the first example of a hidden message on this song by clicking on the speaker icon below. Notice that is sounds like gibberish forwards. When it is played backwards at three separate speeds, the words "Don't you miss Ron?" can be heard. It sounds a little strange because it has been hidden somewhat by echo effects. This is an example of an intentionally backmasked message (Backward Masking) at the recording studio level. I am somewhat surprised, therefore, that Peter Gabriel's publicist has denied putting this in because it is an obvious technical insertion.

The next thing I noticed as I listened to the soundtrack forwards is that there is also an example of a hidden subliminal message in the song. It is forwards, faint and fast, and occurs right at the very end of the soundtrack. It says: "Ron Hubbard, Ron Ron Ron, Ron Hubbard make contact." Once again, like Backward Masking, this is an intentional insertion, this time by the artist himself as he sung the song. (go to the web page to hear this and other examples)

Finally I checked the soundtrack for Reverse Speech and my eyes really opened wide. I first found a very clear example of a speech reversal a third of the way into the song. It says: "Poor people, Ron is stupid." As you listen to this example, notice how there is no superimposed soundtrack, and the reversal is formed by the precise way the forward words were sung at the time of recording. Also notice how clear and precise the reversal is. It is clearer than the forward lyrics as well as the two examples of intentional insertions previously discussed.

Two other speech reversals occur on this song that have little to do with Scientology but which reflect the attitude displayed in the previous reversal. They say "The cops, they're all stupid," and "Often live by night."

So, my overall conclusion about this song, is that there has been an attempt to place subliminal messages on the soundtrack. However, the attempt to subliminally program has back-fired because the brain's own "hidden message" (Reverse Speech) has clicked into play and produced speech reversals that counteract any other obvious attempts to produce a programming effect.

In point of fact, my thirteen year research with Reverse Speech suggests that the subliminal effects of intentionally engineered messages are minor compared to the brain's ability to hear its own form of communication - Reverse Speech. My research has shown many instances of direct communication with Reverse Speech, as well as definite registrations in the brain when speech reversals occur.

I do not know who commissioned the subliminal messages to be placed onto the song, but according to Peter Gabriel's publicist, the British rocker is "not and never has been a Scientologist." This is a statement I believe because his speech reversals support this - "Poor people, Ron is stupid." I suspect that someone requested subliminal messages be placed on the album in an attempt to get the Scientology message across, but they were short-circuited by Gabriel's very own speech reversals which would have a far greater effect on anyone than the minimal effect of engineered Backward Masking.

To conclude, I have one question for Peter Gabriel. Why are the cops all stupid and what do you do at night?

----David Oates

[Watch this web page for further additions to "Phenomenon" as I continue to probe its album and movie soundtrack--DO.]

Contact David John Oates at:
Reverse Speech Enterprises
P.O. Box 1037, Bonsall CA 92003
Phone: (760) 732-3097

5. FACTNet Reprise

We returned from our sabbatical to find that the settlement talks between RTC and the FACTNet three had collapsed. Lawrence Wollersheim posted an explanation.

"Part One: Why FACTNet and its directors said NO to 12 million dollars...

"I thought you should know why FACTNet, Arnie Lerma, Lawrence Wollersheim, and Bob Penny (current and former directors of FACTNet)rejected Scientology's recent 12 million dollar settlement offer. I refuse to keep this information and my opinions about this information confidential because both the general public and people who may be considering other Scientology settlement offers need to know what is going on behind closed doors.

"It began with Scientology contacting me through an agent with the following story: "Senior Scientology executives REALLY want to settle with you, and you will not have to sign any gag order. This time they will not bring you the same offers you have rejected before."

"It turned out that Scientology WAS interested in a settlement. I went to L.A. for two days about ten weeks ago and met with Monique Yingling (of the law firm of Yingling and Yingling of Washington D.C.,), Marty Rathburn, and Mike Rinder...

"In those initial two days of meetings, operational promises were made by both sides. First promised was that both parties were seeking peace, and peace could only be honestly achieved by allowing each party dignity in the settlement. Secondly, all restrictions would be reciprocally and equally binding on both parties. And thirdly, negotiations would continue for settlement of the all pending and possible FACTNet and Wollersheim law suits. The non-negotiable payment from Scientology to us was to be 12 million dollars..."

According to Wollersheim, scientology wanted:

"That the non-profit free speech library and historic preservational archive called FACTNet be taken off the Internet and closed forever.

"That all FACTNet library databases containing electronic books, articles court decisions, government reports and former member debriefings about Scientology (or any other cultic organizations) contained in those databases be completely destroyed.

"That a total gag order be agreed to by Bob, Arnie, and Lawrence so that they can never again speak out about Scientology.

"That Bob, Arnie, and Lawrence are never again permitted to assist anyone in any manner trying to fight or expose Scientology.

"That Bob, Arnie, and Lawrence are never permitted to testify at any legal proceeding or government investigation or serve as expert witnesses concerning Scientology without service of a real adverse subpoena.

"That no money from the 12 million dollar package settlement could go to anyone continuing to fight or educate in any way against Scientology.

"That FACTNet return Scientology's court-submitted financial records and all copies of their "advanced trade secret" materials and non-original copyrighted materials.

"That humiliating false and self-incriminating public statements be made that imply that the FACTNet research on Scientology's problem with members going psychotic or attempting or committing suicide while involved with their bizarre initiation rituals is not credible.

"That we falsely state in a public statement that FACTNet existed exclusively and solely for anti-Scientology activities.

"That Vaughn and Stacy Young and Graham Berry be included in the total deal.

[This would appear to take a valuable expert witness and a formidable attorney out of the litigation arena. These elements alone might be worth more than $12 million to the church.-ed]

Furthermore, "Scientology wanted to structure the deal so that only four of their many corporations, front groups, and covert operations would be bound by their single reciprocal restriction not to sue, malign, or attack Bob, Arnie, and Lawrence. They repeatedly refused to include the soon-to-be-non-existent Factnet in the reciprocal restrictions. This way they could kill FACTNet then cowardly attack a dead organization unable to defend itself...

[Here is the deal killer. FACTNet and its founders were asked to sign an agreement not to work against scientology. Scientology offered to have _four_ of its organizations refrain from attacking FACTNet. The attack could proceed unhindered from any other scientology organization. A clever lawyer might find a way to encumber the $12 million settlement, leaving FACTNet without the funds to defend itself.]

"They also wanted an "agreement violation" damage clause that could eventually amount to a flat penalty of $750,000 in damages against us every time they proved we have violated ANY term of the agreement no matter how inconsequentially and without showing any real damage to themselves.

"And finally, while Scientology corporations and fronts not bound by this agreement could sue us back to the Stone Age for alleged violations or anything else they could and would dream up, we of course, are still bound by every single other term of the agreement as far as restricting us from speaking out or working against Scientology.

Wollersheim noted:

"Scientology wanted all the Hubbard family heirs' names included in our deal so that all probate actions to examine the fraudulent asset transfers away from the Hubbard family heirs to David Miscavige's and Starkey's control would be stopped...

"Early on in the discussion, Scientology wanted a statement retracting all statements that Miscavige's mother-in-law's suicide/murder might have had any connection to David Miscavige or Scientology...They were VERY concerned about having any more or new attention drawn to the alleged induced suicide/ murder of Miscavige's mother-in-law. Initially, they seemed most eager to bring this Flo Barnet settlement bonus back to David Miscavige...

"The longer we stayed in the negotiations the more restrictive the terms that they added to the agreement. I had hoped that they would have done the exact opposite. I incorrectly believed they finally would get it and start to promote ethical settlements and start building some peace for themselves, but given enough time they once again showed their real agenda.

"Scientology has once again conclusively shown me it has not changed one iota from the entrapping Gerry Armstrong, Margie Wakefield, Flynn type settlement strategies. In fact it has gotten worse in its settlement demands.

"I consider Scientology's most recent 12 million dollar settlement deal is nothing more than a trap and a lie concerning the original 2 day good faith agreement. Their settlement offer is inherently contrary to rational free speech and maintaining personal integrity, and socially would further their ability to do evil and harm others, --- consequently there was no other option but to reject it.

"I have been in many settlement negotiations over the last 17 years with Scientology. Every one of them has been basically the same trap or lie. Because they have failed to learn or change I seriously doubt I will ever enter into ANY Scientology "settlement" negotiations ever again.



Given that FACTnet desperately needs money and the church of scientology desperately needs not to edure a jury trial under the unfriendly eyes of Judge Kane, we are reasonably sure that settlement negotiations will resume. Nevertheless it appears to us that Lawrence Wollersheim used good judgment in turning down the current offer.

The account of the settlement talks given in our previous issue, in the Rodent Report, was substantially accurate.

After the talks collapsed, the church dropped its trade secrets claims in the FACTNet cases, and RTC withdrew from the Colorado lawsuits. The withdrawal of trade secret claims forestalls a likely judicial finding that the church's trade secrets have been irrevocably lost, and allows the church to sue other people for trade secret violations and drop those claims at the eleventh hour, too. The Colorado lawsuits will be pursued by BPI, Bridge Publications Inc., but the church now has a better chance to prevent David Miscavige from being deposed.

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