France Scientology: Fraud Leveled Against Church Of Scientology By High Court

Protestors express the same outside the Church of Scientology in France. Though recognized as a formal religion in the United States and elsewhere, the practice of Scientology has just been branded as a scam and a racket in France, despite cries of religious discrimination, reports the AFP via Yahoo! News on Oct. 16. There are approximately 45,000 Scientologists in France. The obtuse religion, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, came under fire in the European country when five former members charged the organization with coercing them into spending thousands of dollars on required reading material, questionable services and Church merchandise. The Church was initially found guilty of commercial harassment, and on appeal the charge has stood. Church officials are not happy that their easily misunderstood religion has been declared fraudulent. Scientology is a worldwide religious movement practiced in 184 nations. Its bona fide rights of its members to practice their faith unimpeded by government interference have been acknowledged by the high courts of many nations, including unanimous decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, a statement from the French Church of Scientology after the verdict reads. The conviction carried a fine of 600,000 Euros ($820,000 dollars), in addition to the Church losing any foothold as it attempts to become a recognized religion in France.

France’s Retirement Reform: Too Little, Too Late?

By SARAH DiLORENZO 10/15/13 04:18 AM ET EDT reddit stumble A protester wears a placard which reads, “Private/public retirement at age 100, no thanks”, during a rally in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. A nationwide strike against the French government’s plan to plug a 20-billion-euro hole in the country’s pension system has elicited the equivalent of a Gallic shrug. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) | AP Get World Newsletters: Subscribe Follow: France , France Retirement Reform , France Retirement , France Pension Age , France Pension Age Reform , France Pension Reform , France Reform , World News PARIS — PARIS (AP) President Francois Hollande has managed to do what was once thought impossible: make changes to France’s cherished and generous retirement system with little resistance from unions. His secret? The changes are so small and put off so far into the future that economists say they aren’t worthy of the name “reform.” Labor unions were calling for protests across France on Tuesday. But the demonstrations are not expected to turn into the massive protests that brought cities to a standstill in 2010, when Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, raised the retirement age. Partially that is because Hollande, a Socialist, consulted with union leaders when drawing up the reform. Also, the changes, which the lower house of parliament votes on this week, will fix only a part of what needs changing, analysts say. “It’s the salami strategy,” said Elie Cohen, an economist at Sciences Po university. “We have a big problem, we don’t know how to fix it, so we cut it into pieces, like a nice sausage.” Hollande’s reform would lengthen the number of years people must work to receive a full pension, from 41 years today to 43 years by 2035; the first increases begin in 2020. Economists say there are three problems with the proposal: It takes effect after most baby boomers will have retired, meaning it doesn’t address the cost of paying for their pensions; it still isn’t asking people to work long enough, especially since life expectancy is rising; and it ignores the special deals that allow some workers to retire early and account for two-thirds of the retirement system’s 20 billion-euro ($27 billion) deficit. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, and others have raised concerns about how the pensions system will be paid for without further burdening French employers, which already pay the highest payroll taxes in the EU. The problem with the “salami strategy” is that the reforms are always behind the curve. Jacob Kirkegaard, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, says the reform might have worked if it had been done 20 years ago.