My Publishing Journey.


LTF BOOKIn 2007, as a naive and starry eyed aspiring author, I completed my very first manuscript. I had great expectations running through my veins and submitted the manuscript to various publishing houses in South Africa. I was confident in the hope of securing a publishing deal and make enough money to live off and retire young. I was on the brink of greatness. I was going to become the next big thing and be invited to sit on Oprah’s couch ( Well, maybe I should have aimed to sit on Noleen’s couch first) and speak to the world about my book and life experiences.

However, a few months after submission of my manuscript to the publishing houses I started receiving rejection slips and letters in the mail. “Dear Mr Jackson, we have received your manuscript and after consideration we think that your book will not garnish much interest with the South African public. We regret to inform you that it has been rejected for publication.” Another one stated, “We think that the topic of your book is not of interest to the general reading public and therefore will not be a good financial proposition as a published book.” You can just imagine the despondency and dejection I felt after reading those slips. It felt as if the wind had been knocked out of my sails. My momentum had been halted and I was brought down to earth with a thundering thump.

I then started doing research into self-publishing. I was not going to let those rejection slips get me down. I tore them up and moved on. I wiped them out of my mind and picked my self up. Self-publishing was the only other alternative. However, I was clueless. How do I go about publishing my own book and what will the costs be? How do I market my labour of love? How do I get my message out to the world using my own resources? Will I crash and burn? How do I design my book cover? It all seemed so overwhelming back then. I had limited knowledge of formatting and cover design. Navigating your way through some of these computer programs can be a frustrating task often riddled with mine fields. But the lessons I learnt on this journey have been invaluable.

Since self-publishing my first book I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most remarkable people in the field of publishing, social media and speaking. A special mention must go to Ramon Thomas who was instrumental in assisting with marketing and giving invaluable advice on social media marketing and branding. I have met both traditionally published and independent authors over the years whose insights and advice I have heeded and implemented. My gratitude to them is immeasurable.

CULTS BookI have since published two books. Losing The Faith, which chronicles my journey through the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was the first and very controversial. The second, Cults: How They Work got me onto television shows such as Carte Blanche, African Views and an eTV interview slot with Jeremy Maggs. In addition I did countless radio interviews and I have been featured in newspapers and magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Drum magazine. Not bad for a self published author don’t you think?

I have learnt through colossal hits and monumental misses that self-publishing can be very fulfilling and could elevate you to a whole new level. Thank you to those who have supported my efforts through the years. Its time I give back.


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Leah Remini leaves Scientology

Leah Remini Launch Gucci Children Collection tzhF7-BVRg-lScientology has once again found itself making the headlines in the past few weeks. This time it is in connection with Leah Remini, actress and star of the hit show King of Queens. Remini has come out strong in her criticism of the Church of Scientology after she decided to leave the cult with her family. It seems as if the trouble started after she questioned the whereabouts of Shelly, the wife of David Miscavige, leader of the church, at the wedding ceremony of Tom Cruise a few years back. Remini found herself facing interrogations and “thought modification” for her questioning of David Miscavige.

“I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that’s what I’m about,” she told People magazine.  And I fully agree with her. The heartbreak and break up of families by cults is devastating. It is a common thread that runs through the majority of cults and organizations like Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and the Moonies. The fear of losing family and friends is just one of the many fear tactics used to keep people in their clutches. I am glad Remini got out with her family in tact. Remini has even gone as far as filing a missing persons report for Shelly Miscavige who has not been seen in public since 2007.

Leah Remini was interviewed by journalist John Sweeney in his book, Church of Fear. Sweeney wrote the book detailing his investigations and experiences at the hands of the cult. Naturally, Remini defended the church and its teachings back then. However, Sweeney says that Leah was the most subtle defender of the Church of Scientology he has met. Perhaps she was already planning to leave back then and was just going through the motions as the whole interview was being filmed.

In retaliation the church has come out strongly against the public moves of Remini. In a statement released by The Church of Scientology it brands the whole saga as a publicity stunt “cooked up with unemployed, anti-religious zealots, such as Tony Ortega, who blog on the fringe of the Internet.” This sort of retaliation by the church does not come as a surprise as Scientology is not very good at taking criticism. 

Leah Remini has received support from many former Scientologists like Paul Haggis and the niece of David Miscavige, Jenna Miscavige Hill. Jenna has written an explosive memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. Miscavige Hill is very familiar with the dangers of criticizing the church.

It’s never easy leaving a cult. Lives are shattered and reputations are sometimes tarnished by the cult in retaliation to those who speak out against them. However, I applaud Leah Remini for taking a stand and speaking out in such a bold manner. Many lives will be touched by her courage. Now if only the poster boy of Scientology can see through this mind numbing and destructive science fiction masquerading as a religion.

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Truth Be Told documentary

TRUTH BE TOLD is a feature-length documentary about growing up inside the Jehovah’s Witness religion. The title refers to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ perception that their beliefs are ‘the truth’.

The film lifts the veil on the seemingly benign Jehovah’s Witnesses religion to expose a profit-driven, isolationist culture characterized by fear, totalitarian corporate leadership, intellectual & spiritual intimidation, suspension of critical thinking, failed prophecies, doctrinal inconsistency and improper handling of physical and sexual abuse allegations within the church.

See former Jehovah’s Witnesses candidly discuss growing up inside the religion. They reveal experiences including the effects of proselytizing door-to-door, shunning non-observant family and friends, suffering the discouragement of pursuing dreams like gaining a higher education, missing other societal holidays and customs. And more…

Ultimately the film reveals why Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religion with only 37% of those raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses continuing their affiliation with the religion.

The documentary is the first feature-film directed by Gregorio Smith.

Directed by Gregorio Smith
Music by George Ilijin

Official website:

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Suffer The Little Children

In recent weeks two much publicized cults have been in the spotlight. The first was the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the second was the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ.

Firstly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have come under fire in Australia for breaching Victoria’s Working With Children Act of 2005. An initial 35 criminal charges were filed alleging that mandatory child protection laws were broken. The charges were filed by Mr Steven Unthank in relation to the refusal of the entire Committee of Management for the Religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses to comply with mandatory child protection laws, which primarily prevents convicted sex offenders, child rapists, drug dealers and murderers from having access to children across a range of industries and organizations. These include religious organizations.

Mr Unthank issued a personal statement in which he stated that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society knew about these child protection laws and refused to comply with them from the outset. Mr Unthank went on to say that even the Department of Justice notified them and offered to assist them to comply. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses completely ignored the offer of assistance.

In my opinion this shows a scant disregard for the safety and well being of the children in the organization. It is common knowledge that Jehovah’s Witness children are made to go from house to house with adults, sometimes with little supervision, peddling watchtower publications. The problem of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness organization has been highlighted before and more can be read about this at However, the Watch tower is quick to point out the abuse issues within other religious organizations.


Across the Atlantic a jury sentenced polygamist leader, Warren Jeffs, who heads a breakaway sect of the Mormon church to life in prison. This was for sexually assaulting two underage girls he wed as “spiritual” brides. Prosecutors said that Jeffs had “played a sick game of child molestation under the guise of religious ceremony”. The sentencing came a day after an audio recording was played on which Jeffs is heard telling young teen girls that they would be “rejected by God” if they refused his sexual advances. Mr Jeffs will now have to deal with advances from another kind while spending the rest of his life in prison.

The point I want to get to here is that in all of these cults it is the children who suffer the most. The indoctrination, fear tactics, sexual abuse and spiritual abuse can leave children emotionally and physically scarred. The lack of protection and the utter disregard for children’s rights within these groups are a matter of concern. In South Africa the lack of education and awareness of the issue around abuse in churches and cults is not well publicized and exposed. Many are afraid to speak out and to challenge the abusers and those in authority in these groups. As a result these abusers and peadophiles carry on their business unchecked. 

As long as we adults stay silent the children stay victims and will carry on suffering in destructive and abusive churches.



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Open Letter To the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The following is a letter written by a former elder in the Jehovah’s Witness organization in the United States. The elder recently resigned and the letter outlines the issues that made him step down.  The e-mail has been doing the rounds and it seems as if the Watchtower organization has responded with a Cease and Desist letter.

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Watchtower Society, Inc.
New York, USAimage

Dear Brothers,

I served for seven years as an Elder in the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I recently relinquished this privilege for the following reasons:

1. My whole life I was taught that Armageddon is going to be here any moment and is “imminent.” The direction from the Holy Spirit said that the end was going to come in 1914, 1925, 1975, and before the end of the 20th Century. Your followers would “never grow old” or “fulfill any career.” That didn’t happen. “Imminent” and “soon” stretched on for over 100 years. These interpretations of Bible prophecy have proven to be false, and yet you continue to pretend that they were “directed by Jehovah.”

2. I was taught that there would be very few “anointed” left when the end came and that the number will decrease as the end drew near. The number of “anointed” is actually increasing.

3. I was told that field service is a “life saving work” that must be performed with a “sense of urgency.” So far not one person’s life has been saved. And even though the work is “urgent,” the antiquated method of calling on empty houses is still used as the primary way of trying to reach people. Television, the Internet, email, postal services, and social networking are not being used – even though the effectiveness of these methods has been proven. I doubt that you feel that this is a “life saving work” yourself.

4. We are taught as an organization that “the light gets brighter” as Jehovah blesses his servants with Holy Spirit and increased understanding. Is Jehovah responsible for flip-flopping doctrines such as the “generation” of Matthew 24:34? Organ transplants? Blood transfusions? The identity of the “superior authorities”? Or is it the men who claim to be “inspired”? Despite these changes, each time the credit (or blame) is given to Jehovah. If the members of the Faithful and Discreet Slave class were actually “inspired,” “faithful,” or “discreet,” these teachings would have never changed.

5. We are taught that we live in a “spiritual paradise” and associate with the “safest group of people on earth.” As elders we were given instructions that in some cases involving criminal behavior by members of the congregation, that we were not to tell the authorities or to warn the congregation. In the past, the organization has tried to sweep this problem under the rug, and continues to do so in a misguided effort to try to protect its reputation.

6. “Disfellowshipping,” as practiced within the organization, cannot be found in the scriptures. Would Jesus have treated sinners the way that we as Witnesses treat sinners?

7. I was taught that the United Nations organization is the “wild beast” described in Revelation, and is one of the organizations “controlled by Satan.” Despite this teaching, the Watchtower Society was partners of the UN for a number of years as an “NGO,” a Non-Governmental Organization. This is the very height of hypocrisy.

8. Even though the “truth” changes, if you believe something other than what is published as the “latest light” (right or wrong), you can be disfellowshipped. I personally have seen this happen. I choose to remain anonymous because of my fear that this will happen to me.

9. 1914 cannot be proven by scripture to be “the end of the Gentile Times.” No one, other than the Witnesses, believes that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE. Brother Russell used the Great Pyramid of Giza’s measurements to corroborate 1914 as the end of the Gentile Times. His calculation arbitrarily uses a lunar year of 360 days to come to a date based on a solar year of 365.25 days.

10. Even though I have been told repeatedly that world conditions are deteriorating in fulfillment of Matthew 24, earthquakes are not “increasing in frequency” according to the USGS. Crime rates have “dropped dramatically” according to the US Department of Justice. The lifespan of mankind has “risen significantly” since 1914 as pestilence has been treated, controlled, or eradicated according to the US Department of Health. Food shortages are decreasing. Wars are not increasing.

11. Even though I pray through Jesus to Jehovah, I am taught, and expected to teach, that Jesus is not our mediator. This is despite what the Bible says at 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

Brothers, these are some of the reasons that caused me to resign serving as an Elder. I cannot with a good conscience support an organization that pretends to be something that it is not – just as I cannot pretend to be something, or someone, that I am not.

I ask that you consider that the large number of appointed men resigning as being a symptom of a larger problem within the organization. The problem is the Governing Body assumes an arrogant and authoritarian position, in that it acts as God’s sole channel here on earth today. I can see it. Many others have seen it – and are quitting because of it. The vast majority that resign are not doing so because they want to live an immoral life without Godly principles. They resign because they are men of principle.

You cannot control people’s thoughts and intentions, even as much as you would like to. Jehovah created each of us with a sense of fairness and honesty – and most importantly with a free will.

Members of the Governing Body: I ask you to act as men of principle yourselves. Allow people to have the freedom to choose for themselves whether they want to be a part of your organization – or not, and if they choose to leave, allow them to do so without sanctions. Be honest and admit it if you are not sure of a scriptural interpretation; do not force people to believe something that you are not convinced of yourself. Do not allow past mistakes in policy or doctrine to continue to morph into future mistakes that may cost people their families – or even their lives. Lastly, protect the people who are under your spiritual care – not through secrecy, but through transparency – with the foremost quality of love in mind.

Your Brother,


The original thread and post may be seen here.

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Cults on the Playground and on Campus

When parents send their children off to college, universities, technikons, etc, their anxieties increase. They often wonder whether their children will be able to handle their new found independence and freedom. Will they fall prey to substance abuse,increased pressures, and expectations put on them. Add to this issues such as racism, anti Semitism, campus crime, youth suicides, date rape, AIDS and you have a multitude of obstacles your child has to navigate in order to survive.

However, there is one more thing that parents have to be concerned about and this is the issue of cults. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is something minor. It is a major threat to the welfare, human rights, and the futures of our students. Keep in mind that cults threaten the very reason your children attend these institutions of higher learning. These groups are generally anti-intellectual and often force students to drop out of school. They oppose freedom of thought and discourse, which is the very basis for our educational system.Logo 3


Cults are now more numerous than ever and it seems as if South Africa is becoming a major recruiting ground for these groups. Universities and schools have been reporting an increase of cult activity on their grounds and it is for this very reason that I am embarking on a major educating drive at high schools and institutions of higher learning. Children between the ages of 13 and 18 are especially vulnerable to cult recruitment. First year university students very often fall prey to cults that use front organisations to lure unsuspecting students into their clutches.


Parents, school principles, university executives, counselors and others should especially take heed of this. To enquire about my school talks and education programme please e-mail me at or call +27(0)839918568. I will then forward a full school event guide to interested persons,schools and tertiary institutions. Part of the proceeds of these events goes to the school and tertiary institutions.

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CULTS in our Midst Talks and Seminars

The next leg of my nationwide talks and seminars will be held in Uitenhage ,Cape Town and JohannesburgCULT FRONT COVER

The date for the Uitenhage event is Saturday 5 March 2011.

Venue: VJs Conference Centre

Address: 32 Graaff Reinet Road
              Eastern Cape
              South Africa

Time: 9am to 12pm

The date for the Cape Town event is Saturday 12 March 2011.

Venue: Cape Chamber of Commerce

Address: 19 Louis Gradner Street, Foreshore, Cape Town, South Africa 

Time: 9.30am to 12.30pm          

Johannesburg will follow on 26 March 2011. Venue to be confirmed.

With the spotlight being shed on the recent murder of a policeman and ultimate death of a French couple in the Western Cape, cult activity is a growing menace in our society and is being left unchecked to ravish and destroy families and societies as a whole. Young people in secondary schools, universities and colleges are especially susceptible to cult recruitment and are often targeted by these groups. Would you like to know how to identify these groups and how to protect yourself, your family and your friends from being recruited into a cult? Then come and listen, interact and educate yourself at the event.

So, you think you are immune to cult recruitment? Think again!

Tickets to the events cost R80 and includes 2 free e-copies of my books on CD. Refreshments will be served. For reservations and payments you may contact me on 0839918568 or e-mail me at

Please note that seats are limited so confirm your attendence ASAP!

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Paul Haggis Crashes Scientology

Before one of my very first television appearances on a discussion panel on cults I met the host of the show for a brief cup of coffee. We discussed the content of the show and he informed me who the other participants on the show will be. In addition to myself he had invited the head of Public Relations of Scientology in South Africa and another author. He then went on to say that he had also invited a former Scientologist to join in on the discussion but she declined. She had invested quite a substantial amount of money going through the Scientology programs and said that if she ever spoke out against the church in public the consequences could be disastrous. She mentioned that the church could ruin her financially and implement smear campaigns against her if she ever goes ahead with this.

In contrast, the host contacted the South African branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses to invite a representative to appear on the show and they refused. I strongly suspect that their refusal  was after hearing that I was to be on the show.paul_haggis

It has been almost a year and a half that Paul Haggis, Oscar winning director and writer of movies like Crash and Million Dollar Baby, resigned from the Church of Scientology. One of his main gripes with the church was their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a legislation that took away the freedom and civil rights of gays and lesbians in California. This was after the Supreme Court had granted them these rights.

Haggis had also come across an appearance that Tommy Davis (Spokesperson for Scientology and David Miscavige mouthpiece) had made on CNN in May 2008 in which Davis denies that the the church has a policy of “disconnection” whereby members are encouraged to separate themselves from friends and family who are critical Scientology. Haggis was stunned at the outright lie and mentioned this in his letter to Davis. Every Scientologist knows that this policy exists and it is similar to the shunning policies practiced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, CTMI etc.

Below is the letter Haggis sent to Tommy Davis as posted on


As you know, for ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego. Their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a hate-filled legislation that succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California – rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state – shames us.

I called and wrote and implored you, as the official spokesman of the church, to condemn their actions. I told you I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated.

In that first conversation, back at the end of October of last year, you told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it and “heads would roll.” You promised action. Ten months passed. No action was forthcoming. The best you offered was a weak and carefully worded press release, which praised the church’s human rights record and took no responsibility. Even that, you decided not to publish.

The church’s refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word.  Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.

I joined the Church of Scientology thirty-five years ago. During my twenties and early thirties I studied and received a great deal of counseling. While I have not been an active member for many years, I found much of what I learned to be very helpful, and I still apply it in my daily life. I have never pretended to be the best Scientologist, but I openly and vigorously defended the church whenever it was criticized, as I railed against the kind of intolerance that I believed was directed against it. I had my disagreements, but I dealt with them internally. I saw the organization – with all its warts, growing pains and problems – as an underdog. And I have always had a thing for underdogs.

But I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of the Christian Right. In order to contain a potential “PR flap” you allowed our sponsorship of Proposition 8 to stand. Despite all the church’s words about promoting freedom and human rights, its name is now in the public record alongside those who promote bigotry and intolerance, homophobia and fear.

The fact that the Mormon Church drew all the fire, that no one noticed, doesn’t matter. I noticed. And I felt sick. I wondered how the church could, in good conscience, through the action of a few and then the inaction of its leadership, support a bill that strips a group of its civil rights.

This was my state of mind when I was online doing research and chanced upon an interview clip with you on CNN. The interview lasted maybe ten minutes – it was just you and the newscaster. And in it I saw you deny the church’s policy of disconnection. You said straight-out there was no such policy, that it did not exist.

I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search for verification – I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.

You might recall that my wife was ordered to disconnect from her parents because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church. This is a lovely retired couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone else I know – hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology.

Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them. I refused to do so. I’ve never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible.

For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time.

That’s not ancient history, Tommy. It was a year ago.

And you could laugh at the question as if it was a joke? You could publicly state that it doesn’t exist?

To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else are you lying about?

And that is when I read the recent articles in the St. Petersburg Times.  They left me dumbstruck and horrified.

These were not the claims made by “outsiders” looking to dig up dirt against us. These accusations were made by top international executives who had devoted most of their lives to the church. Say what you will about them now, these were staunch defenders of the church, including Mike Rinder, the church’s official spokesman for 20 years!

Tommy, if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil rights violations. It is still hard for me to believe.  But given how many former top-level executives have said these things are true, it is hard to believe it is all lies.

And when I pictured you assuring me that it is all lies, that this is nothing but an unfounded and vicious attack by a group of disgruntled employees, I am afraid that I saw the same face that looked in the camera and denied the policy of disconnection. I heard the same voice that professed outrage at our support of Proposition 8, who promised to correct it, and did nothing.

I carefully read all of your rebuttals, I watched every video where you presented the church’s position, I listened to all your arguments – every word. I wish I could tell you that they rang true. But they didn’t.

I was left feeling outraged, and frankly, more than a little stupid.

And though it may seem small by comparison, I was truly disturbed to see you provide private details from confessionals to the press in an attempt to embarrass and discredit the executives who spoke out. A priest would go to jail before revealing secrets from the confessional, no matter what the cost to himself or his church. That’s the kind of integrity I thought we had, but obviously the standard in this church is far lower – the public relations representative can reveal secrets to the press if the management feels justified. You even felt free to publish secrets from the confessional in Freedom Magazine – you just stopped short of labeling them as such, probably because you knew Scientologists would be horrified, knowing you so easily broke a sacred vow of trust with your parishioners.

How dare you use private information in order to label someone an “adulteress?” You took Amy Scobee’s most intimate admissions about her sexual life and passed them onto the press and then smeared them all over the pages your newsletter! I do not know the woman, but no matter what she said or did, this is the woman who joined the Sea Org at 16! She ran the entire celebrity center network, and was a loyal senior executive of the church for what, 20 years? You want to rebut her accusations, do it, and do it in the strongest terms possible – but that kind of character assassination is unconscionable.

So, I am now painfully aware that you might see this an attack and just as easily use things I have confessed over the years to smear my name. Well, luckily I have never held myself up to be anyone’s role model.

The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping others. I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too would be horrified. But I know how easy it was for me to defend our organization and dismiss our critics, without ever truly looking at what was being said; I did it for thirty-five years. And so, after writing this letter, I am fully aware that some of my friends may choose to no longer associate with me, or in some cases work with me. I will always take their calls, as I always took yours. However, I have finally come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a part of this group. Frankly, I had to look no further than your refusal to denounce the church’s anti-gay stance, and the indefensible actions, and inactions, of those who condone this behavior within the organization. I am only ashamed that I waited this many months to act. I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.


Paul Haggis

Ps. I’ve attached our email correspondence.  At some point it became evident that you did not value my concerns about the church’s tacit support of an amendment that violated the civil rights of so many of our citizens. Perhaps if you had done a little more research on me, the church’s senior management wouldn’t have dismissed those concerns quite so cavalierly. While I am no great believer in resumes and awards, this is what you would have discovered.

More info here:

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