Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Scientology critics bringing book tour to Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Paulette Cooper is a legendary name among people who watch the Church of Scientology.

After she wrote a book in the 1970s that was critical of Scientology, the church's security agents framed her for bomb threats.

Now Tony Ortega, a journalist who runs a blog criticizing Scientology, has written a book about Cooper. The two are on a book tour, and on Sunday, they will come to Scientology Central — the city of Clearwater.

They're appearing at 2 p.m. at the Clearwater Main Library at 100 N Osceola Ave. in downtown Clearwater, a stone's throw from the church's spiritual headquarters.

The library is not coordinating this event. Instead, a nonprofit group called the Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay has reserved a meeting room at the library.

"It's not a city-sponsored event. It's just somebody who's using one of our rooms," said Clearwater library director Barbara Pickell. "They're open to any not-for-profit community group doing a program that's free and open to the public. We allow them all, and we don't censor what people say."

Cooper was one of the first journalists to take on Scientology. Her scathing 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology, pushed her to the top of the church's roster of enemies.

The church's legal and investigative arm, the Guardian Office, framed her for supposedly sending bomb threats to the church. Cooper was indicted in 1973 and was fully exonerated when the FBI raided Scientology offices and discovered the plot against her in 1977. By then, she had spent nearly $20,000 in legal fees and $6,000 on psychiatric treatment.

Ortega's book about her is called The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, published in May.

"As with our appearance at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood on May 17, which was just two blocks from Scientology's Los Angeles headquarters, I think it's important to talk about the book in the areas where you can actually run into a Scientologist in this country, as rare as that is," said Ortega, who was featured in the recent HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

The church would not comment to the Tampa Bay Times about the book tour or the book. In a statement disseminated to other media, church officials denounced the book and called Ortega "a parasite" for using "bigotry and false allegations about the Church of Scientology to create a cottage industry of hate."

The church said it settled all claims with Cooper in 1985 and had "disbanded the rogue unit with which she was having trouble long before then."

Contact Mike Brassfield at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow @MikeBrassfield.

Comments
Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 1 hour ago
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

DAYTONA BEACH – As Austin Dillon celebrated his Daytona 500 win Sunday, he couldn't help but remember the time he was standing there, in Victory Lane, 20 years ago this week.He was 7 then, and his index finger jutted into the air triumphantly t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.How the 19-year-old turned into a man now arrested and charged with 17 co...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pot smokers aren’t the only law breakers able to get a second chance in South Florida. Underage adults buying alcohol, those stealing property worth less than $300 and people nabbed for trespassing, loitering or disorderly conduct a...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Facebook turns to postcards to snuff foreign ads

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to try to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

TALLAHASSEEAhundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland will travel to Tallahassee for a march on the state Capitol on Wednesday in the first organized protest of their #NeverAgain movement.Their demand: that Florida legisl...
Updated: 3 hours ago
EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has canceled a nearly weeklong trip to Israel, agency officials confirmed Sunday.Pruitt, who had been scheduled to leave this past weekend for an extensive tour of the Mideast al...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

PARKLAND — On the Sunday after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 of its own, a minister in Parkland implored his flock not to let the horrific shootings lead them away from their faith."Our world is broken, but Jesus is not," the Rev. Eddi...
Updated: 3 hours ago