Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that the government is urging councils across the United Kingdom to stop giving hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax breaks to the Church of Scientology. In the first time a cabinet minister has intervened in the long-running dispute over the tax breaks for Scientology, communities secretary, Eric Pickles, says a majority of the public do not want the "controversial organization" to be given the kind of favorable treatment usually reserved for charities and questioned this use of public money. "Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favored tax treatment over and above other business premises," says Pickles. "The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognized place of worship." However Scientology has won some victories to gain tax-free or low-tax status. In 2000, it persuaded Revenue & Customs that it should be exempt from VAT on payments received because its services were educational and non-profitable and in a test case before the VAT tribunal, the Scientologists' lawyers forced the taxman to return £8m in overpaid VAT."
David Gerard writes "Zed Shaw writes an impassioned plea to programmers: Programmers Need To Learn Statistics Or I Will Kill Them All. "I go insane when I hear programmers talking about statistics like they know shit when it’s clearly obvious they do not. I’ve been studying it for years and years and still don’t think I know anything. This article is my call for all programmers to finally learn enough about statistics to at least know they don’t know shit. I have no idea why, but their confidence in their lacking knowledge is only surpassed by their lack of confidence in their personal appearance.""
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David Gerard writes "Lord Peter Mandelson has carefully ignored the Gowers Report and the Carter Report, instead taking the advice of his good friend David Geffen and announcing that 'three strikes and you're out' will become law in Britain. The Open Rights Group has, of course, hit the roof. Oh, and never mind MI5 and the police pointing out that widespread encryption will become normal, hampering their efforts to keep up with little things like impending terrorist atrocities. Still, worth it to stop a few Lily Allen tracks being shared, right?"
The Cult of Scientology doesn't go to court to win cases, it goes to court to spend money, more money and yet more money (plus, taxpayers money) until its opponents run out of money and give up. This always works because L Ron Hubbard said it would always work, even when it doesn't work. In short, don't expect logic from fanatics.