Angry Gay Pope at SMP opening
Auctioneer gets year in U.S. prison for ivory, rhino horn smuggling
An executive with a Beverly Hills gallery and auction house was sentenced on Wednesday to one year and one day in prison after admitting that he conspired to smuggle at least $1 million in animal products that included rhino horn and elephant ivory.
Joseph Chait, 38, a senior auction administrator for his family’s business, I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan after pleading guilty in March to conspiring to smuggle wildlife products.
His attorney, Judith Germano, had asked the judge for a sentence of community service. She said that Chait risked being cut off from his family, which raised him in the Church of Scientology, by cooperating with prosecutors.
“My actions were wrong and I regret them every single day,” Chait said before being sentenced.
He also said that in a “weird way,” he was grateful for the criminal case because it “has allowed me to break the chains of my upbringing.”
Prosecutors said that Chait falsified customs forms by stating ivory and rhino horn were made of bone, wood or plastic.
After a rhino carving sold at auction for $230,000, Chait made false documents putting the value at $108.75, and saying the object was made of plastic, prosecutors said.
He and others also sold ivory carvings to a Chinese dealer and provided them to that dealer’s courier, even after learning the buyer had been arrested in China for smuggling ivory purchased from Chait’s auction house, prosecutors said.
The case comes as conservationists and law enforcement officials in the United States and globally have been trying to crack down on the illegal trade in products from the two threatened species.
U.S. authorities say rhino horn-made libation cups and ornamental carvings made from elephant ivory are particularly in demand in Asia, namely China and Hong Kong. That is resulting in a thriving black market.
Most species of rhinoceros are extinct or on the brink of extinction as a result, and elephants are under threat in many countries.
The case is not the first to involve the I.M. Chait auction house.
Actor Nicholas Cage in December agreed to turn over a rare stolen dinosaur skull he bought from I.M. Chait after U.S. authorities filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking to take possession of the item so it could be repatriated to Mongolia.
Neither Cage nor the gallery was accused of wrongdoing in the affair.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)
lulzy video interlude….
Is Tom Cruise Estranged From Suri?
On June 19, Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise indulged in their favorite hobby: being spotted at high-end eateries. According to Page Six, Suri “caused a fun ruckus” at Serafina East Hampton, running from table to table and playing tag with friends. She and Holmes “were very friendly and said goodbye to the staff and a few customers on their way out.” But what set this mother-daughter goodwill tour apart was the significant date—Father’s Day—and the noticeable absence of superstar daddy Tom Cruise. Holmes’s ex, who’s busy filming The Mummy in Morocco, might just be one of those people who thinks Father’s Day is a grossly capitalistic, made-up holiday. On the other hand, the fact that this is America’s most famous practitioner of Scientology, an arguably for-profit religion that was founded in 1954, has led people’s imaginations to run wild (The Church of Scientology and Cruise’s rep did not respond to requests for comment.)
These days, we’re subsisting on a celebrity scandal diet of incendiary Amber Rose tweets and Vines of Justin Bieber falling off stage. Tom Cruise updates remind us of a bygone time (the early 2000s) when celebrities were truly insane. Revisiting Cruise’s simultaneous romances with Katie Holmes and thetans, one can’t help wishing that we could trade in Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston for their genuinely wacky early aughts counterparts.
The deeply strange consequences of Cruise’s Scientology conversion set in long before Cruise and Holmes hit it off. When Cruise’s second wife, Nicole Kidman, convinced her husband to distance himself from the faith, Scientology head David Miscavige, according to the documentary Going Clear, labeled her a “Suppressive Person”—an enemy of the church. The film claimed the “religion” then allegedly waged an all-out war against Kidman, tapping her phones and attempting to turn her children against her.
When Cruise divorced Kidman in 2001, he rebounded hard with the Church of Scientology and then, in 2005, with Katie Holmes. This is when the Cruise saga got truly bonkers, as the handsome leading man tragically transformed into a couch-jumping GIF. Around the time of the Oprah incident, Holmes was allegedly assigned a Scientology handler to guide her appearances and oversee her interviews. Before you could say Dianetics, Holmes and Cruise were headed for the altar, and officially married on Nov. 18, 2006, with Scientology honcho Miscavige serving as Cruise’s best man. Their daughter Suri Cruise was born on April 18 of the same year. After five years of marriage, Holmes filed for divorce and obtained primary custody of her daughter.
While Cruise was reportedly “blindsided” by the divorce, Holmes’s decision to save her daughter—and herself—seemed fairly common sense. Cruise himself later corroborated that Holmes’s fear of Scientology was a motivating factor in the split during a deposition for his $50 million lawsuit against Bauer media. According to the deposition, when lawyers asked Cruise if Holmes left him “in part to protect Suri from Scientology,” Cruise first said he found the question “offensive” and that “there is no reason to protect my daughter from my religion,” before admitting that it did, saying, “Did [Holmes] say that? That was one of my assertions, yes.”
Furthermore, according to numerous reports at the time, Holmes believed that Cruise was plotting to ship their not even 6-year-old daughter off to Sea Org, a strict faction of Scientology. So, Holmes allegedly got herself a burner phone in order to contact lawyers and prep her case without fear of phone-tapping from the Church of Scientology or Cruise himself, reported the Los Angeles Times.
While the Holmes-Cruise divorce was a huge blow to tally-smally couples everywhere, it was a clear win for Holmes, who is now free to act, wear heels, and embark upon a recently confirmed relationship with Cruise’s Collateral buddy, Jamie Foxx. The divorce had more complicated consequences for Suri, with an increasing number of reportsclaiming that the 2012 split all but ended the relationship between Cruise and her father. Almost as soon as Holmes moved out, Tom Cruise became the poster child for gossip mag absentee dads. Tabloids splashed pictures of a sobbing Suri across their covers, along with questionable headlines claiming total abandonment.
This first wave of coverage culminated in a lawsuit from Cruise, with the movie star accusing sister magazines Life & Style and In Touch of “exploiting a defenseless 6-year-old child.” Cruise’s lawyer followed up with a statement, insisting that, “Tom is a caring father who dearly loves Suri. She’s a vital part of his life and always will be. To say he has ‘abandoned’ her is a vicious lie.” According to camp Cruise, the actor was only guilty of prioritizing the shooting of his next movie, Edge of Tomorrow—in retrospect, perhaps a misinformed prioritization.
In court documents from the $50 million lawsuit against parent company Bauer Media, Cruise insists that, “Suri and I saw each other in person in July, August, November, and December 2012. But even during the times when I was working overseas and was not able to see Suri in person, we were (and continue to be) extremely close.” He concluded that, contrary to tabloid reports, “She has never indicated, in words or substance, that she has ever felt abandoned by me.”
Unfortunately, like most situations in which Tom Cruise opens his mouth, the lawsuit quickly spiraled into a PR nightmare. Despite their attempt to uncover Bauer’s secret anti-Scientology agenda, Cruise’s legal team quickly found themselves shit out of luck, and forced to acknowledge that their client actually hadn’t seen his daughter for 110 straight days. Then came the part when Cruise compared his time away on set to a soldier’s tour in Afghanistan, citing “difficult physical stamina and preparation.”
Cruise settled his suit in 2013 according to undisclosed terms. But, much like Tom Cruise himself, Cruise-Suri rumors refused to go into retirement. In 2015, sources close to Holmes claimed to TMZ that Tom hadn’t seen his 8-year-old daughter in almost a year. While Cruise consistently blames a busy workload for his lax visitation schedule, competing (unconfirmed) accusations claim that Cruise is honoring the Church’s orders, which forbid members from harboring any sort of relationship with ex-Scientologists.
The latest In Touch update, from early June 2016, puts the current count at 1,000 days, alleging that Cruise hasn’t seen his 10-year-old daughter in the flesh since she was 7. “They used to Skype and text, but that trailed off drastically,” a source told the gossip mag. “He uses his film commitments as an excuse, but the truth is that doesn’t hold much weight with Suri anymore.”
“Disconnection”—or the severing of all ties between a Scientologist and an “antagonistic person”—is a common theme within Scientology. This extreme practice was recommended by L. Ron Hubbard himself as a “last resort when all attempts to handle have failed” (handling being an effort to bring an ex-practitioner back into the fold), andaccording to Scientology’s official website, is defined as when: “All spiritual advancement gained from Scientology may well be lost because one is continually invalidated by an antagonistic person who wants nothing more than to do harm to the person. In order to resolve this situation, one either ‘handles’ the other person’s antagonism with true data about Scientology and the Church or, as a last resort, when all attempts to handle have failed, one ‘disconnects’ from or stops communicating with the person.”
While we do not know whether Cruise has disconnected from his daughter, the In Touchreport does conclude with the frightening observation that “Tom eats, breathes and sleeps Scientology.”
On this week’s episode of The Milo Yiannopoulos Show, Milo discussed the consequences of the radical social justice movement with Canadian writer and cultural critic Alex Kazemi.
Alex Kazemi — best known for his novel Yours Truly, Brad Sela, which piqued the interest of actress Chloe Moretz and novelist Bret Easton Ellis — sat down with Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos to discuss the consequences of the growing social justice movement in America and throughout the world.
Kazemi compared the social justice movement to Scientology in that it exhibits some of the same cult-like characteristics as the controversial religion whose lore centers around a giant alien god named Xenu. “Social justice is Scientology. It is. It’s f**cking insanity. It’s a cult. They want you to join — join us!”
“When people become obsessed with hating you, you’re just more powerful. When they’re becoming obsessed with all of these issues – misogyny, homophobia, racism, whatever is on their mind that day, that just makes people out there more violent,” Kazemi claimed. “It’s going to fuel those people.”
Yiannopoulos agreed, arguing that the movement’s seemingly intrinsic tendency towards anger and hostility often converts potential supporters into detractors. “Social justice is turning the rest of us into bigots.”
“It’s like a Kafkaesque cycle. They create exactly the problem they claim to be ‘fighting against,’” Yiannopoulos argued. “[They] then use the products of their own behavior to prove that they are necessary.”
The episode premieres tomorrow on iTunes.