French court fines Scientologists, allows operations


French court fines Scientologists, allows operations

By Thierry Leveque

Tuesday, October 27, 2009; 7:36 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – A Paris court on Tuesday fined the French branch of the Church of Scientology a total of 600,000 euros ($902,200) after finding it guilty of fraud but allowed the group to continue operating in France.

When the hearing opened, there were expectations that the court could order the group to be banned in France but due to a mix-up over a law that passed in parliament just before the start of the trial in May, that option was ruled out.

The legislation has since been changed back to allow the dissolution of an organization found guilty of fraud but because of the timing of the case, there was no question of forcing the Church of Scientology to be wound up.

“It is very regrettable that the law quietly changed before the trial,” Georges Fenech, head of the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults, told television station France 24.

“The system has now been put in place by parliament and it is certain that in the future, if new offences are committed, a ban could eventually be pronounced,” he said.

The court handed down suspended prison sentences ranging from 10 months to two years and fines of 5,000 euros to 30,000 euros to four leaders of the group in France.

“This is an important and historic decision because it is the first time that Scientology has been found guilty of involvement in organized fraud,” Olivier Morice, one of the lawyers for the civil parties to the case told reporters.


The case was brought by two former members who said they were cajoled into spending 21,000 euros and 49,500 euros on personality tests, vitamin cures, sauna sessions and “purification packs.”

Scientology, which is officially considered a sect in France, denies fraud and is expected to appeal.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France, where it has faced accusations of being a money-making cult. The trial, which began on May 25, centers on complaints made in the late 1990s.

The prosecutor had recommended that the Paris court dissolve the church’s French arm.

But it emerged during the trial that the Church of Scientology could not be dissolved in France even if it had been convicted of fraud, due to an amendment to legislation which passed unnoticed just before the trial began.

Scientology has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.

Scientology says it has gone to court in many countries to uphold the right to freedom of religion.


Scientist Craig Venter Has Created Artificial Life


Scientist Craig Venter Has Created Artificial Life
Jason Mick (Blog) – October 26, 2009 9:48 AM



J. Craig Venter, a leading biochemistry and microbiology research has become the first to create artificial life. E  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The DNA for the new organism was cloned in yeast. The membrane was produced by a similar cell. The result is a viable, artificially created organism.  (Source: Science)

Man can indeed create life, vitalism arguments laid to rest

Throughout the centuries vitalism remained the dominant philosophy.  Many reasoned that there was something inherently unique to life, impossible to recreate.  Modern science, however, has shown that the makeup of a living organism is nothing more than a complex mix of biochemicals.

Now a major scientific breakthrough has been made that may have profound impact on scientific research, and even how we view life itself.  John Craig Venter, founder of the The Institute for Genomic Research and the J. Craig Venter Institute, has, at last, achieved what he has been trying to do for over a decade — create artificial life.

The most basic definition of being alive, when it comes to bacteria is being able to sustain the biological process to survive and reproduce.  Neither is possible without DNA, the genetic material of living organisms.

Professor Venter began by trying to clone DNA from a bacterial species, with the hopes of eventually transplanting it into a receptive bacterial membrane and creating a viable cell.  He started with trying to use E. Coli bacteria to clone incorporated DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies capri, a tiny bacteria.  The E. Coli proved to not have the perfect cloning machinery, only able to replicate stretches of DNA up to a quarter of M. mycoides‘ total genome.

So Professor Venter turned to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae — interestingly, a eukaryote (M. mycoides is a eubacteria) — to carry out the cloning.  Using the yeast, complete 1.1-Megabase M. mycoides genomes were cloned and harvested.

The next challenge was implanting the harvested genome into a receptive bacterial membrane.  As bacteria lack organelles, in a traditional sense, this membrane primarily served as protection and to provide the appropriate biochemical environment.  It also offered specialized membrane environments needed for certain reactions, like respiration.

Preparing receptor organelles — from M. mycoides and a similar species, Mycoplasma
subspecies capricolum — a new roadblock was encountered.  Enzymes preexisting in the membrane would destroy the unmethylated DNA, cloned in the yeast.  Fortunately, the solution to this problem was relatively simple, albeit intensive — Venter’s team used methylating enzymes from M. mycoides to protect the clone DNA harvested from the yeast.

Using this technique, or other methylation techniques, Craig Venter’s team succeeded in creating viable organisms.  In the case of the M. capricolum implant, the results were exceptionally notable, as it demonstrates that an artificially created organism can be generated using the shell (membrane bound cell) of an appropriate similar organism.

The groundbreaking success was reported in the September edition of the journal Science, with Carole Lartigue, S. Vashee, and M. Algire listed as the first three authors (J. Venter was later listed). Surprisingly, this potentially Nobel-worthy achievement has drawn relatively little press in the last month.

Thus, at long last, man has succeeded in a long standing dream — the creation of artificial life.  It has been done using the efficient molecular tools that nature has evolved (enzymes).  Using these tools in vivo to create target vesicles and cloned DNA, a new era of bioengineered artificial organisms is launched.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Professor Venter continues to work on developing methods of in vivo and in vitro DNA replication and assembly.  His team also continues to explore creating more artificial organisms and modified artificial organisms.  Venter’s organization holds, or has filed for, patents on many of the techniques he has used to create the artificial life.

With these tools incredible achievements may one day be possible.  We may be able to take individual genes and tailor-make bacteria as a starting point for induced evolution to produce the perfect fermenter for biofuels, or the perfect cleaner to break down or isolate oil or other toxins from the environment.  In short, it’s a brave new world now that the ability to biochemically create new life is in the hands of man.

Update: Monday Oct. 26, 2009 2:40 p.m.:
There has been some question over what exactly comprises “artificial life”.  In this case the researchers have created an organism with new genes inserted, and are claiming the organism to be a new artificial species (which notably they are trying to patent).  The grounds for calling the organism synthetic or artificial is that it was produced from non-living material, in this case a cloned genome which was non-living when removed from the yeast cell that produced it (i.e. it would be nonviable if not carefully prepped and implanted by the researchers).  This genome was created in vivo with enzymes that could, in theory, also be used in vitro.  Some, however, define synthetic/artificial life as being artificial intelligence, non-carbon based life, or life resulting from non-enzymatic production reactions.  This discovery does not meet these criteria.  Thus while the discovery can be billed as “artificial or “synthetic” life, it is important not to take it out of context.

Nog fundie kommentaar. Magtag, maar hierdie mense is darem maar baie dom.


Kruispad 10/24/2009 9:47:11 PM
As ek ‘n PROF of ‘n DR. hoor ‘n mening gee gaan alle gevaar ligte aan. MAW die rooi ligte. Ek verwys na “Die wêreld stuur op ’n mens­gemaakte ramp af waarin alle lewe binnekort vernietig kan word, sê Holm” Ek verwys na “Vernietig KAN word”… Wel prof die Here Jesus het gese die Aarde en alles daarin GAAN vernietig word, nie KAN nie, maar GAAN. Ons is in die laaste UUR. Vergeet daarvan om te lees wat net jy wil sien, jy moet die Here begin vra om Sy Woord vir jou ooptebreek. Ek staan werklik verstom hoe hierdie “slim” mense nie ‘n benul het wat werklik aan die gebeur is nie. Ek se altyd, die slim mense is toe nou nie so slim nie. Hierdie Prof het ‘n godsdiens, jy noem dit evolusie! Begin weer die Here aanroep soos ‘n kind!
Magda Kopp 10/25/2009 1:00:56 AM
Jammer Professor maar in die eerste plek lees ek my Bybel deur die werking van die Heilige Gees. Die mensdom op hierdie aarde sal net verdwyn deur die wederkoms van Jesus Christus. Omdat sy liefde so groot is vir die mens stel hy sy koms uit omdat Hy wil he dat almal moet glo dat Jesus Christus die Here is. Tweedens as jy in die vlees lewe dan sal jy sulke dinge kwytraak want elke kind van God weet hoekom ons geskape is alleenlik om God te dien en ons naaste lief te he soos ons self. Die aarde behoort aan God en die volheid daarvan want aan Hom is gegee alle mag in die Hemel en op die aarde en Hy alleen sal besluit wanneer die einde aangebreek het. My redding hang nie af van n goedversorgde natuur nie maar die reddende genade van Jesus Christus. Natuurlik moet ons die omgewing mooi en skoon hou maar gaan leer jy dit vir die bewoners van Afrika wat alles wat voorkom afkap en afbrand. Nee proffie ek het die woord van God lief en ek verlustig my in my Skepper.
Francois Marais 10/25/2009 9:38:21 AM
Een van die algemeenste se dinge van wetenskaplikes en predikers van evolusie – ek sie nie die Prof is een nie- is dat die aarde se drakrag oorskry word. Bog!!! Dis agv die sondeval en mense se sondes dat die drakrag van die aarde oorkry word. Kyk maar net na Zimbabwe wat die kosmandjie van Afrika was. Ja nou is daar te veel mense want daar is nie eer kos nie. Ry maar net deur Suid Afrika. Daar is baie grond. Daar is plek vir baie mense op aarde. Die aarde is nie oorbewei nie. Net ‘n klein kommentaar op n verkeerde stelling.

Laws against freedom of speech are becoming stronger and stronger all over the world. Just what the fundies want. They can make outrageous claims and speeches and enfuse people with hatred and it is all perfectly legal, but if we say anything they find offensive, about their religion or their cult, about the way they treat women or other humans, or because they want to trample our basic rights and force their god’s laws down on us, we can be prosecuted for it. Here we go, marching back to the glorious 16th century, where bigots burned the man who dared bring knowledge and enlightenment to other men and women.


Just say no to blasphemy laws

Perhaps in an effort to rehabilitate the United States’ image in the Muslim world, the Obama administration has joined a U.N. effort to restrict religious speech. This country should never sacrifice freedom of expression on the altar of religion.

By Jonathan Turley

Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.

While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though the resolution was passed unanimously, European and developing countries made it clear that they remain at odds on the issue of protecting religions from criticism. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the “Muslim street” and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech. Though it has no direct enforcement (and is weaker than earlier versions), it is still viewed as a victory for those who sought to juxtapose and balance the rights of speech and religion.

A ‘misused’ freedom?In the resolution, the administration aligned itself with Egypt, which has long been criticized for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam. For example, Egypt recently banned a journal that published respected poet Helmi Salem merely because one of his poems compared God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows. The Egyptian ambassador to the U.N., Hisham Badr, wasted no time in heralding the new consensus with the U.S. that “freedom of expression has been sometimes misused” and showing that the “true nature of this right” must yield government limitations.

His U.S. counterpart, Douglas Griffiths, heralded “this joint project with Egypt” and supported the resolution to achieve “tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” While not expressly endorsing blasphemy prosecutions, the administration departed from other Western allies in supporting efforts to balance free speech against the protecting of religious groups.

Thinly disguised blasphemy laws are often defended as necessary to protect the ideals of tolerance and pluralism. They ignore the fact that the laws achieve tolerance through the ultimate act of intolerance: criminalizing the ability of some individuals to denounce sacred or sensitive values. We do not need free speech to protect popular thoughts or popular people. It is designed to protect those who challenge the majority and its institutions. Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech — the literal sacred institution of society.

Blasphemy prosecutions in the West appear to have increased after the riots by Muslims following the publication of cartoons disrespecting prophet Mohammed in Denmark in 2005. Rioters killed Christians, burned churches and called for the execution of the cartoonists. While Western countries publicly defended free speech, some quietly moved to deter those who’d cause further controversies through unpopular speech.

In Britain, it is a crime to “abuse” or “threaten” a religion under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. A 15-year-old boy was charged last year for holding up a sign outside a Scientology building declaring, “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult. “In France, famed actress Brigitte Bardot was convicted for saying in 2006 that Muslims were ruining France in a letter to then-Interior Minister (and now President) Nicolas Sarkozy. This year, Ireland joined this self-destructive trend with a blasphemy law that calls for the prosecution of anyone who writes or utters views deemed “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”

‘Blasphemy’ incidentsConsider just a few such Western “blasphemy” cases in the past two years:

• In Holland, Dutch prosecutors arrested cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot for insulting Christians and Muslims with cartoons, including one that caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and a Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who want to marry and attend gay rallies.

• In Canada, the Alberta human rights commission punished the Rev. Stephen Boission and the Concerned Christian Coalition for anti-gay speech, not only awarding damages but also censuring future speech that the commission deems inappropriate.

• In Italy, comedian Sabina Guzzanti was put under criminal investigation for joking at a rally that “in 20 years, the pope will be where he ought to be — in hell, tormented by great big poofter (gay) devils, and very active ones.”

• In London, an aide to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was arrested for “inciting religious hatred” at his gym by shouting obscenities about Jews while watching news reports of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.Also, Dutch politician Geert Wilders was barred from entering Britain as a “threat to public policy, public security or public health” because he made a movie describing the Quran as a “fascist” book and Islam as a violent religion.

• In Poland, Catholic magazine Gosc Niedzielny was fined $11,000 for inciting “contempt, hostility and malice“by comparing the abortion of a woman to the medical experiments at Auschwitz.

The “blasphemy” cases include the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9). A far-right legislator in Austria, a publisher in India and a city councilman in Finland have been prosecuted for repeating this view of the historical record.

In the flipside of the cartoon controversy, Dutch prosecutors this year have brought charges against the Arab European League for a cartoon questioning the Holocaust.

What’s next?Private companies and institutions are following suit in what could be seen as responding to the Egyptian-U.S. call for greater “responsibility” in controlling speech. For example, in an act of unprecedented cowardice and self-censorship, Yale University Press published The Cartoons That Shook the World, a book by Jytte Klausen on the original Mohammed cartoons. Yale, however, (over Klausen’s objections) cut the actual pictures of the cartoons. It was akin to publishing a book on the Sistine Chapel while barring any images of the paintings.

The public and private curtailment on religious criticism threatens religious and secular speakers alike. However, the fear is that, when speech becomes sacrilegious, only the religious will have true free speech. It is a danger that has become all the more real after the decision of the Obama administration to join in the effort to craft a new faith-based speech standard. It is now up to Congress and the public to be heard before the world leaves free speech with little more than a hope and a prayer.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors.

(Illustration by Alejandro Gonzalez, USA TODAY.)

Baie goeie artikel geskryf deur Jaap Claassens.


“Bybelse Moraliteit”
Author: Jaap Claassens
Date: 10/21/2009 16:40 h
Bybelse Moraliteit
Hoekom bestaan die absurde siening dat geloof nodig is vir moraliteit? Sou dit wees dat mense nie sal weet wat die verskil tussen goed en kwaad is nie tensy dit deur God aan hulle geopenbaar is nie? Pateties! Elke gemeenskap, hetsy of dit gevestig is op geloofsoortuigings of nie, erken die basiese beginsels van moraliteit, Of sou die idee bestaan dat geloof nodig is vir moraliteit omdat mense andersins nie sou omgee as God nie beloning en saligmaking vir goeie gedrag gee en sonde straf nie?
Hoekom verstaan voorstanders van godsdiensonderrig in skole nie dat die beswaar teen alle vorms van godsdiens is en dat Christene nie uitgesonder word nie en dat die beswaar slegs op Staatskole betrekking het nie. Die herhaaldelike beskuldiging dat die Christendom geteiken word, is ‘n moedswille verdraaiing of blote onnoselheid.
Hoe lyk die Christelike moraliteit soos weerspieël in die Bybel en wat vir Christene so heilig is dat hulle dit aan onskuldige kinders wil opdring, in elk geval?
God straf herhaaldelik mense vir die sondes van ander:
o Hy straf alle moeders deur hulle aan pynlike kindergeboorte te onderwerp vir Eva se sonde.
o Hy straf alle mense deur hulle tot arbeid te verdoem vir Adam se sonde (Gen. 3:16-18)
o Hy berou sy skepping en in ʼn oomblik van woede pleeg hy volksmoord en verwoes die ekosisteme van die aarde deur ʼn vloed oor die aarde te bring. (Gen.6:7)
o Hy verhard Farao se hart teen die vrymaking van die Israeliete (Ex. 7:3) om daardeur geleentheid te skep om verskeie plae oor Egiptenare te bring, wat as hulpelose onderdane van ʼn tiran, geen aandeel in sy besluit gehad het nie.
o Hy vermoor al die eersgeborenes, selfs dié van slawemeisies, ondanks die feit dat hulle geen aandeel in die onderdrukking van die Israeliete gehad het nie.
o Hy straf die kinders, kleinkinders, agter kleinkinders en agter-agter kleinkinders van dié wat enige ander gode dien. (Ex. 20:3-5)
o Hy straf die Israeliete deur vier-en-twintig duisend te dood omdat sommige van hulle seks met die Moabitiese vrouens gehad het. (Num. 25: 1-9)
o Hy gee aan Dawid opdrag om ʼn sensus van sy manskappe op te neem en stuur daarna ʼn plaag en dood sewentig duisend van sy volgelinge as straf omdat daar oënskynlik iets met die opname skeef geloop het. (2Sam. 24;10-15)
o Hy stuur twee bere om twee-en-veertig kinders wat Elisa oor sy kaal kop gespot het, te verskeur. (2Kon. 2:23-24)
o Hy verdoem en dreig die inwoners van Samaria omdat hulle in opstand is teen hom, dat hulle kindertjies verpletter sal word, dat die mans met die swaard gedood sal word en dat die swanger vrouens oopgesny sal word. (Hos. 14:1)
o Hy beveel mense om owerspeliges, homoseksueles en mense wat op die sabat werk dood te maak. (Lev. 20:10; 20:13; Ex. 35:2)
o Hy beveel dat mense wat bloed eet; wat velsiektes het; en wat seks met hulle vrouens het terwyl hulle menstrueer, uit die samelewing verban moet word. (Lev. 7:27; 13:46; 20:18)
o Mense wat vloek moet gestenig word (Lev. 24:16)
o Prostitute, moet lewendig verbrand word.(Lev. 21:9)
o God beveel die Israeliete herhaaldelik tot xenofobiese geweld. (Ex. 34:11-14; Lev. 26:7-9) en volksmoord teen talle stede en stamme. Hy beveel hulle om geen genade te betoon nie en om enigiets wat asemhaal nie te spaar nie: (Num. 21:2-3; Num. 21:33-35; Deut. 2:26-5; Jos. 1-12; Deut7:2)
o Slawerny word geoorloof (Lev. 25:44-16; Ef. 6:5; Kol 3:22)
o Vaders mag hulle dogters as slawe verkoop (Ex. 21:7)
o Slawe mag geslaan word so lank hulle net vir twee daarna bly leef (Ex. 21:20-21; Luk. 12:45-48)
o Mans mag soveel vrouens en bywywe vat as wat hulle wil aanhou, aangesien owerspel vir mans net seks met ʼn getroude vrou, behels het. (Lev. 18:20)
o Krygsgevangenis mag oor afgronde gegooi word om hulle te dood (2 Kron. 24:12)
o Kinders mag geoffer word om God se hulp tydens oorlog te verkry (2 Kron. 24:12) of om Hom te oorreed om ʼn hongersnood te beëindig. (2 Sam 21)
o Hy vertel ons dat Hy nie gekom het om vrede te bring nie maar die swaard en tweedrag tussen gesinslede te bring. (Mat. 10:34 – 37)
o Hy belowe die saligheid aan die wat hulle vrouens en kinders ter wille van Hom in die steek laat. (Mat. 19:29, Mark. 10:29, Luk 18:29-30)
o Hy beveel dissipels om hulle vrouens en kinders te haat. (Luk. 14-26)
o Hy gee opdrag dat kinders wat op hulle ouers vloek doodgemaak moet word. (Mat. 15:4-7, Mark. 7:9-10)
o Petrus en Paulus onderskryf die despotiese reël waar vrouens die swye opgelê word en hulle mans as gode moet eerbiedig. (1 Kor. 11:3, 14:34-35, Ef. 5:22-24, Kol. 3:18, 1Tim 2:11-12 en 1 Pet. 3:1)
En wat het Christus te sê gehad oor hierdie wette?
Mat 5:17-18. “Moenie dink dat Ek gekom het om die wet of die profete ongeldig te maak nie. Ek het nie gekom om hulle ongeldig te maak nie, maar om hulle hulle volle betekenis te laat kry. Dit verseker Ek julle: Die hemel en die aarde sal eerder vergaan as dat een letter of letterstrepie van die wet sal wegval voordat alles voleindig is.” en
Luk. 13:17 “ “Tog is dit makliker vir die hemel en die aarde om te vergaan as dat een lettertjie van die wet verval.”
Ten slotte ʼn enkele aanhaling van Mark Twain: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
Bronne: Die Bybel; Elizabeth Anderson “If God is Dead, is Everything Permitted?”en Mark Twain.

Gelukkig is nie al die Afrikaners bygelowig en deur die kak nie. Dis op Rapport se blog geskryf.


Dewald 10/21/2009 9:10:36 AM
Hoekom moet my belastinggeld gebruik word om kinders te onderrig uit ‘n boek wat vertel die aarde is plat, wat die omtrek van ‘n sirkel verkeerd bereken, wat vertel donkies kan praat en dat die hoogste berg net meters onder die Hemel is? ‘n Boek wat die Amerikas, Australië, Ysland en Antarktika ontken? ‘n Boek wat vertel dat ‘n vrou van menstruasie genees is deur aan ‘n Jood se rok te vat? ‘n Boek wat vertel dat jy mense kan stenig oor seks? ‘n Boek wat preek ‘n oog-vir-‘n-oog in in dieselfde asem draai die ander wang? ‘n Boek wat vertel miljoene soutwaterspesies het ‘n varswatervloed oorleef? ‘n Boek wat op een plek vertel dat God ‘n sensus aangevra het en op ‘n ander plek het Satan dieselfde sensus aangevra? ‘n Sensus! ‘n SENSUS! Kreefetery is sonde, mense met brille mag nie in die tempel ingaan nie. ‘n Boek wat vertel mense met ‘n ekstra spook in hulle kan gif drink en niks oorkom nie? ‘n Boek wat vertel dat Josefus Kaiafas op seker die heiligste dag van die jaar ‘n hofsitting gehou het, wat sy eie kop sou kos? ‘n Boek wat vertel Israel is weg uit Egipte uit Kanaän toe, in die tyd wat Kanaän in elk geval deur Egipte regeer is?! Dit is so laf om te sê die Afrikaner is weg uit Suid-Afrika en uit onder Zuma om in die Oos-Kaap te gaan woon!

Geloof is hoogstens vermaaklik. Ek betaal vir vermaak uit my eie beursie, nie uit belastinggeld nie.