Filed under: Business and Economy, Caribbean Cruises, Health and Medicine, Law Enforcement and Crime, Science
More than five weeks after public health authorities on the Caribbean island of Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles) impounded the Scientology cult’s 440-foot luxury liner “Freewinds,” the ship remains locked down. Experts advise that decontaminating the ship would cost millions of dollars and may not even be possible. Meanwhile, the cult continues to solicit funds for cruises that will not happen.
After the ship was quarantined on April 26, the Curaçao Drydock Company was contracted to carry out refurbishment and repairs. The contamination was so extensive that the company decided that the risk to its workers was too great, and ceased operations. At that point Scientology sent a team of its “Sea Org” paramilitary force to clean the ship themselves. They are bringing the blue asbestos by the truckload to dump at the island’s landfill site at Malpais. The Sea Org is Scientology’s internal paramilitary force.
Incredibly, top leaders of the Scientology cult were informed of the pervasive contamination back in 1987, but chose to do nothing. Until the 1960s, when the Freewinds was built, blue asbestos was often used in shipbuilding (it was not known at the time to be so carcinogenic). Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, supervised interior remodeling work on the ship in 1987 when the cult first purchased it. According to a legal affidavit made after Woodcraft left the cult in 2001, Woodcraft had notified Scientology officials immediately about the widespread blue asbestos and the dangers it posed. The response he received was that he should carry on with the work, and leave the asbestos where it was. Since Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had never mentioned that asbestos was dangerous, they were not going to worry about it. Scientologists believe that disease is caused not by microbes or toxic substances, but by the presence of “suppressive persons” (SPs), or people who disagree with Scientology and its goals. Moreover, Scientologists believe that high-level Sea Org members cannot get cancer or any other disease.
Meanwhile, Scientology continues to promote cruises on the Freewinds, receiving large cash advances from Scientologist prospective passengers, who have been informed only that the ship is going through an ordinary refurbishment. Already, the cult has missed several planned sailing dates, but it continues to seek funds for voyages in the near future. According to Radar Online, the cult has scheduled conventions starting in July and running through November.
On May 1, the cult’s spokesperson lied to Radar Online with the following “spin”:
“The next cruise is scheduled for Thursday, May 8. Inspections done on April 15, 2008 and April 28, 2008 again confirmed that the air quality is safe, in accordance with the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.” None of this, of course, was true.
The cult’s promotional materials give further information about Scientology’s advance-booking scheme:
“The new conventions calendar aboard the brand new Freewinds is out and we are looking forward to seeing you aboard! Look over the different conventions and let me know which convention(s) you plan to attend.”
Yet all the extremely hazardous “cleaning” of the blue asbestos may be in vain. According to officials in the Netherlands’ Ministry of Environment, which dealt with an asbestos-laden ship in 2006 that was eventually demolished, the cost to make Freewinds safe for passengers, if it is even possible, may run into many millions of Euros/dollars, probably more than the ship itself is worth.
The ship is used by Scientology for advanced training in “Operating Thetan” levels, for members who have paid fees of between USD$100,000 and $400,000, as well as for tax-deductible Caribbean cruises for its members and their families. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by Scientology, as it is not permitted to dock in any US port.
Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Suri Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. “Now” magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds. Scientology has official “religion” status in the USA, which means that it is exempt from paying taxes, and that its members can declare any Scientology-related expense as tax-deductible.
Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.
“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in “OK! Magazine.” Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”
The Scientology cult was founded in 1950 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Its primary goal is to “clear the planet” by “obliterating psychiatry.” Scientology’s many front groups include the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), Criminon, Narconon, and Applied Scholastics. Scientology claims to be the “world’s fastest growing religion,” with some 8 million members, but mainstream demographic surveys have shown that the number of members is closer to 55,000 worldwide, and declining. Scientology is currently under investigation in several countries for a variety of human rights abuses, including child abuse, violation of child labor laws, kidnapping and running secret internal prison camps, as well as for a number of financial crimes.
by Dr. Lilly von Marcab
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad: Emergency volunteers of the Curaçao Red Cross were called into action after a ship docked for repairs exploded on the morning of September 20. The accident left five dead and 18 wounded.
Volunteers who rushed to the scene immediately assisted in transporting two of the wounded to the hospital.
Throughout the day, 40 volunteers cared for dock workers suffering from shock, and worried family members. Some of the volunteers recently received training in First Aid psycho-social assistance, and put into practice what they learnt. Other volunteers assisted in tracing for family members.
Volunteers remained on the scene till 1 a.m. the following day at the request of Fire Brigade officials. The Red Cross was praised by officials and the local media for their quick response.
Source: Caribbean Net News
A report out of Curacao that one out of ten sexually active schoolgirls is a teenage mother is reason for concern for several reasons. First, it should be realised that the situation in St. Maarten is not much different. A survey among local secondary school students by Loma Linda College in association with Sector Health Care Affairs a few years ago also concluded that unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy were big problems.
Not only does having a child at such a young age and often not by choice make it much more difficult for a girl to complete her education successfully and have a chance at a decent career, it can be difficult for the child also, because such young girls are not always mature and emotionally ready to give it the care it needs.
What’s worse, the study confirms that many young people still don’t use condoms, despite all the campaigns and warnings about sexually transmitted diseases. With the deadly HIV/AIDS disease spreading more and more, it is all the more important for these youngsters to realise that one mistake can cost them their lives.
The current state of affairs requires that sex education become a part of what children are taught, especially at secondary schools. While some schools and teachers might touch on the subject, it is not in the curriculum of most and plans to include it so far have not produced any result.
Apart from schools, parents too should take a more active role in this respect. While many adults may not have been able or willing to speak with their parents about sex at a young age, times have changed. Not only are youngsters experimenting with sex at an increasingly younger age, but the consequences can be deadlier than ever before.
That should be enough reason for parents to talk to their children about sex, starting at a young age or at least when they become teenagers. The best form of prevention is to educate and to try to eliminate whatever ignorance on the subject may exist.
It should also be reason for some churches to change their stance on using contraceptives and to move away from the idea that the only reason for intercourse must be to make children, while abstinence must be practised in all other cases.
It’s pretty obvious, certainly in this day and age, that the vast majority act and think differently. It’s high time the church got on board and let common sense prevail, in the interest of saving lives along with souls.
Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten
Filed under: Health and Medicine, Press Releases, Travel and Tourism
Willemstad, CURACAO–Hit the beach in the morning, go for kidney dialysis in the afternoon and enjoy a gourmet dinner in the evening.
It’s certainly not the usual itinerary for a southern vacation, but it’s all possible at the Curacao Dialysis Center.
“It’s a concept that now makes it possible for people who could never travel, to enjoy a Caribbean holiday with their families,” says Joost van Pelt, manager of the centre, which is next to the Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino, one of this Dutch island’s most elegant resorts.
Those who live with kidney disease often require dialysis treatments that last as long as three hours, three times a week. It’s a gruelling schedule that tethers patients to their clinics, making travel virtually impossible.
That’s all changed – at least in Curacao – thanks to Jacob Gelt Dekker. An entrepreneur who has not only developed two of the finest hotels on the island, as well as the Museum Kura Hulanda, a world-renowned display of black history, Dekker saw a need and filled it.
Building the centre beside his luxury resort made it possible for travellers with kidney disease to enjoy all the amenities of a five-star hotel without missing a treatment.
Although the centre is equipped to handle 10 dialysis patients in each of three daily time slots and boasts cutting-edge equipment, it feels more like a chic private spa than a medical facility.
The furnishings are elegant, the music subdued and the trained staff as welcoming as any you’d find at the finest hotel.
A quick glance into one of the bright, spacious treatment rooms shows patients relaxing in large recliner chairs, checking email or watching flat-screen televisions while the dialysis takes place.
It’s an idea whose time has come – certainly in Curacao. Although originally designed to meet the needs of residents – there are now 44 regular patients – the tourist demand has been great.
“We’re planning an expansion in the near future,” says van Pelt.
Because Curacao is one of the lesser-known islands of the Caribbean, it offers a sense of away-from-it-all privacy. And that makes it ideal for those who prefer to receive treatments discreetly.
That air of seclusion has led clinic management to consider offering drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, believing that the combination of an upscale resort hotel and a top-quality clinic on a sunny, secluded island just off the coast of Venezuela, might have great appeal.
“We think,” says van Pelt, “that this is the beginning of a medical tourism trend in Curacao.”
Treatments cost about $400 U.S. per session, and there is a $95 doctor fee for each treatment. Special packages are available that include accommodation. For more details on the dialysis centre, see www.curacao-dialysis.com/english/index.html
Author: Liz Fleming
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The first thing a French fisherman asked for when he was rescued after drifting in the Caribbean for 20 days with a broken boat’s engine was a croissant, a Dutch defence ministry spokesman said on Friday.
The 27-year-old from the island of Dominica survived on rainwater and a few flying fish that landed on the deck while drifting nearly 1,300 km (800 miles).
“Do you have a ‘pain au chocolat’ (chocolate croissant) and milk?” were his first words when rescued by the crew of a Dutch frigate who spotted him while searching for drug smugglers in waters near the Dutch Antilles, spokesman Willem Cosijn said.
“Given the circumstances he is doing quite well. He had lost weight and was dehydrated and was handed over to Curacao authorities this morning,” he added.
OYSTER BAY–Cataract patients in St. Maarten will no longer have to travel to Curaï¿½ao to treat their ailment thanks to a donation of US $48,000 from the Gold Family Foundation to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on Wednesday. The funds will be used to purchase a cataract machine for use at the hospital.
ï¿½There are many people on the island who have cataracts. With the machine it means that they donï¿½t have to go to Curaï¿½ao anymore. They can stay here,ï¿½ Foundation member Joshua Gold told The Daily Herald shortly after making the donation yesterday.
He said his satisfaction with the services offered by the hospital coupled with the good job being done by the workers at Oyster Bay Beach Resort, a hotel he co-owns, had been instrumental in motivating him to make the donation.
ï¿½I love this island and the staff at Oyster Bay are wonderful. The resort is doing well and I feel that we owe something to the island,ï¿½ Gold said. ï¿½Because we are prospering from the island and its people, we would like to give back to them so they can continue doing what theyï¿½re doing.ï¿½
Commissioner Roy Marlin, who was present at the ceremony at Oyster Bay Beach Resort to witness the donation, was also instrumental in soliciting the funds for the institution.
The cheque was handed over to Bobby Velasquez who turned it over to Head of the Outpatient Department at SMMC Rob Heil. The hospital plans to purchase and put the cataract machine into operation as soon as possible.
This is not the first time the hospital has received a donation from the Foundation. Last year US $45,000 was donated to the institution to assist with the renovation of the Renal Dialysis Unit.
Source: The Daily Herald