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Location: Tallahassee, Florida, United States welcomes all opinions from any religion or viewpoint in the common appreciation of Chick tracts. This blog, however, will highlight religious events and controversies that would be of special interest to regular Chick readers. You don't have to agree with them or each other, but if you read Chick tracts or Battlecry, you might expect these type stories to be addressed. (Sorry, no personal attacks allowed.) All main postings are from writers and any responses are from the public

Monday, December 28, 2009

Whitehouse Reverses Spin On Terror Attack

Whitehouse officials are in a tailspin trying to control the embarrassment caused by the near bombing of an airline by a known terrorist suspect allowed on the plane with explosives hidden under his shirt. On Sunday, Homeland Security Advisor Napolitano said, "One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked." On Monday, she reversed course, saying she was referring to the system of notifying other flights as well as law enforcement on the ground about the incident soon after it happened.

The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee took issue with Napolitano's initial assessment.

Airport security "failed in every respect," Rep. Peter King of New York said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's not reassuring when the secretary of Homeland Security says the system worked."

Investigators are piecing together Abdulmutallab's brazen attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Dec. 25. Law enforcement officials say he tucked below his waist a small bag holding his potentially deadly concoction of liquid and powder explosive material.

Abdulmutallab had been placed in a U.S. database of people suspected of terrorist ties in November, but there was not enough information about his activity that would kept him from flying.

However, British officials placed Abdulmutallab's name on a U.K. watch list after he was refused a student visa in May. Abdulmutallab received a degree in engineering and business finance from University College London last year and later applied to re-enter Britain to study at another institution. Johnson said Monday he was refused entry because officials suspected the school was not genuine and they then put his name on the list.

Meanwhile, President Obama remains in Hawaii on vacation. See Chick's THE SKYLIGHTER.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

US Ignored Terrorist Warning

U.S. government officials tell The Associated Press that the Nigerian man charged with trying to destroy a jetliner came to the attention of U.S. intelligence in November when his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to express his concerns about his son.

A congressional official said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, popped up in U.S. intelligence reports about four weeks ago as having a connection to both al-Qaida and Yemen.

Another government official said Abdulmutallab's father, a prominent banker, went to the embassy in Abuja with his concerns, but did not have any specific information that would put him on the "no-fly list" or on the list for additional security checks at the airport.

Neither was the information sufficient to revoke his visa to visit the United States. His visa had been granted June 2008 and was valid through June 2010. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to speak to the media.

An official said the U.S. had known for at least two years that the suspect could have had terrorist ties and was on a list that includes people with known or suspected ties to a terrorist organization. However, they did nothing to prevent him from being on the plane. President Obama criticized the previous administration for failing to "connect the dots", but in this instance, the feds ignored a clear road map. Meanwhile, the President remains on his vacation in Hawaii. See Chick's WHO CARES?

Pakistan Recognizes Transgendered Class

The Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered that the government officially recognize a separate gender for Pakistan's hijra community, which includes transgendered people, transvestites, and eunuchs. The court told the federal government to begin allowing people to identify as hijras when registering for a national identity card.

Such cards are necessary for everything from voting to more informal situations; patrons must present the card at cybercafes before surfing the Internet, for example. Not having an identity card, or having one with incorrect information, leaves a person vulnerable and easily excluded from society.

In India, voters are required to identify their sex both on their voter ID cards and at the polls. The insistence that they identify as male or female effectively barred many transgendered and transvestite people from the polls until late this year, when the government declared that for the purposes of voting it would recognize a third option.

The ruling in Pakistan, though, potentially reaches much further.

In addition to the order for government recognition, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also issued a warning that the hijras' rights of inheritance, which are often informally ignored, would be enforced, and that police harassment would not be permitted, a sign, perhaps, of rulings to come. See Chick's WOUNDED CHILDREN.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Al-Qaida Bombing Fails (Due to Chance)

A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida's instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.

Passengers subdued the man and may have prevented him from detonating the explosives, the officials said.

Federal officials imposed stricter screening measures after the incident. No explanation was given for how screeners missed the bomb in the first place.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., ranking GOP member of the House Homeland Security Committee, identified the suspect as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian. There were 278 passengers aboard the Airbus 330.

There was nothing out of the ordinary until the flight was on final approach to Detroit, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. That is when the pilot declared an emergency and landed without incident shortly thereafter, Cory said in an e-mail message.

One of the U.S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.

The White House was coordinating briefings for the president through the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI. The president himself is vacationing in Hawaii and has made no plans to return. This is the second terrorist attack in his first year of office, the first one having shot 41 soldiers on a US Army base. Both attacks occurred despite Administration efforts to appease enemies of the US by apologizing for previous acts, closing GET-MO, and giving captured terrorists citizen rights to fight their arrest in US courts (instead of military tribunals.)

A law enforcement source said the explosives may have been strapped to the man's body but investigators weren't immediately certain, partly because of the struggle with other passengers.

Passenger Syed Jafri, a U.S. citizen who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said the incident occurred during the plane's descent. Jafri said he was seated three rows behind the passenger and said he saw a glow, and noticed a smoke smell. Then, he said, "a young man behind me jumped on him." See Chick's SKYLIGHTER.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Carter Apologizes to Jews

Former President Jimmy Carter apologized for any words or deeds that may have upset the Jewish community in an open letter meant to improve an often-tense relationship, and open the way for his grandson to enter politics.

He said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It signifies a plea for forgiveness.

"We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter said in the letter, which was first sent to JTA, a wire service for Jewish newspapers, and provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

Carter, who during his presidency brokered the first Israeli-Arab peace treaty, outraged many Jews with his 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Critics contend he unfairly compared Israeli treatment of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to the legalized racial oppression that once existed in South Africa.

Israeli leaders have also shunned him over his journey to Gaza to meet with Hamas, considered a terror group by the U.S., the European Union and Israel.

Carter's apology was welcomed by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a vocal critic of Carter's views on Israel.

"When a former president reaches out to the Jewish community and asks for forgiveness, it's incumbent of us to accept it," he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. "To what extent this is an epiphany, only time will tell. There certainly was a lot of hurt, a lot of angry words that need to be repaired. But this is a good start."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations declined comment. Carter did not explain his timing, but the letter comes weeks after his grandson, Jason Carter, said he would run for a Georgia state Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore. If David Adelman is confirmed as ambassador in January, Jason Carter will be a candidate in a March special election in the northeast Atlanta district.

Jason Carter, who is running in a district with a vocal Jewish population, said in a statement that his grandfather's letter was completely unrelated to his campaign. However, the former President was defending his attacks earlier this same year on NPR's Fresh Air radio program.

Pope Knocked Down

As Christmas Eve Mass began in St. Peter's Basilica last night, an unidentified woman leapt over the security barrier, apparently in a wild attempt to embrace the Pope. Although the papal security guards intercepted her with a tackle that would do the NFL proud, the woman caught hold of the Pope's vestments and pulled Benedict down with her.

Then the 82-year-old pontiff went right back to work. After a moment or two on the ground, Pope Benedict got up, to cheers of "Viva il Papa!" and continued his procession down the aisle. The Mass was celebrated without interruption and the Pope's voice was clear and steady as he read the homily. Given that the Christmas Mass had been moved back to 10:00 p.m. to save the Benedict's energy, his stamina and sangfroid surprised many people.

Benedict's attacker suffered no injuries and was taken away by the Gendarmeria, or Vatican police. But things went considerably worse for poor 87-year-old Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, of Paris, who was knocked over along with the Pope, broke his femur and ended up with a wheelchair and plaster cast for Christmas.

Benedict's assailant, who sported a festive scarlet sweater for the occasion, which conveniently made her very easy to spot on hazy video recordings of the encounter, appears to be a repeat offender, according to a Vatican spokesman; last Christmas, he said, the same woman went running for the Pope at the end of Midnight Mass, but was stopped long before she could reach him. The woman is believed to be mentally unstable and will likely be turned over to the Italian authorities. See Chick's THE POOR POPE.

Benedict is not the first Pope to have inspired such a reaction. The late Pope John Paul II also had his fair share of over-zealous admirers, including a religious sister in 2004 who went running down the aisle of St. Peter's before being brought up short by Vatican security right at the altar. (On the other hand, it was another devoted nun who successfully subdued Mehmet Ali Acga, the would-be assassin of John Paul II, after he shot the pope on May 13, 1981.)

Poll Shows 78% Christian

According to a new Gallup poll, 78 percent of Americans identify with some form of Christian faith, continuing a significant decline in religious identification over the past 50 years. In 1948, 91 percent of Americans described themselves as Christians, while only 2 percent said they had no religious identity. In 2009, the number identifying as non-religious has risen to 13 percent.

"The percentage of Americans who in theory could celebrate Christmas this week as a specific component of their religious faith is down significantly from where it was 50 or 60 years ago," Gallup explains. "This suggests that one of the major patterns of religious transition in America in recent decades has been the shift from identification as Christian to the status of having no specific religious identification."

Despite this movement, the number of Americans who say religion is very important to them has remained nearly constant -- even rising slightly -- since the late 1970s.

"The United States remains a dominantly Christian nation," the report says.

UK Jews Lose Right To Racially Discriminate (w/ Tax Money)

A landmark decision by Britain's Supreme Court ruled last Wednesday that it was illegal for a state-funded Jewish school to base its admissions policy on whether or not the applicant's mother was Jewish.

The ruling concerns the highly sought after Jewish Free School in Northwest London. A boy referred to only as M was denied admission there because -- although he came from an observant Jewish family -- his mother (a convert) was not recognized as Jewish by the chief rabbi affiliated with this school. Jews have long been defined by a matrilineal test. And although it is often sufficient for the mother to convert to Judaism to count as a Jew, some more traditional movements within the religion do not always acknowledge the validity of conversions by more liberal movements.

On the face of it, this is a simple discrimination case. Because there is no separation of church and state in Britain, the government funds a certain number of so-called "faith schools" (whether Church of England, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, etc.). These schools are allowed to give priority to applicants who share the faith of the school.

But in this case, M's father sued the school, claiming that its policy amounted to racial discrimination. In June, the Court of Appeal ruled in his favor. The school appealed that decision, but the Supreme Court sided with the Court of Appeal in a 5-4 decision last week. Going forward, children who apply to one of the U.K.'s 50 Jewish schools will now have to take religious practice tests to ensure the schools are not discriminating against children on ethnic grounds. See Chick's WHERE'S RABBI WAXMAN?

Activist Priest Tells Poor to Steal

The Rev. Tim Jones issued his new religious edict on Sunday, while addressing worshippers at the Church of St. Lawrence, in the northern English city of York. He told parishioners that poor people struggling to survive should steal food and other essentials from shops, rather than raise money through prostitution, burglary or mugging.

"My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift," the priest said, as originally reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post. He went on to say, "I would ask that [people] do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices," he said. "[And] I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need."

Local police condemned his sermon as sinful, telling the BBC that "shoplifting or committing other crimes should never be the solution" for people in difficult circumstances. If everyone in poverty stole from stores, the police added, "this would make the downward spiral even more rapid, both on an individual basis and on society as a whole."

U.K. storeowners -- who pay out $5 billion each year on stolen stock -- were similarly unimpressed. "You'd expect a vicar to appreciate the difference between right and wrong," says Krishan Rama, a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium. "It's the job of our welfare system, which retailers support with the billions they pay each year in tax, to help vulnerable people. There are no excuses for stealing." See Chick's MAN IN BLACK.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Liberal Church Lampoons Virgin Birth

Just in time for Christmas, a New Zealand church has erected a billboard that depicts the Virgin Mary and Joseph in bed together.

The billboard -- paid for by St. Matthew-in-the-City, a liberal Anglican church in the town of Wellington -- reads, "Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow." According to the Huffington Post, the "progressive Christian" Anglican church hopes that the billboard will "get people talking about the Christmas story."

Church leader Archdeacon Glynn Cardy told the A.P., "This billboard is trying to lampoon and ridicule the very literal idea that God is a male and somehow this male God impregnated Mary ... We would question the Virgin Birth in any literal sense. We would question the maleness of God in any literal sense."

A press release on the church's Web site asks, "Is the Christmas miracle a male God sending forth his divine sperm, or is the miracle that God is and always has been among the poor?" This is just one of a growing number of liberal churches who don't believe in the Bible, but promote a semi-belief in a universal God to push "social justice" (redistribution of wealth) and good deeds for the poor. See Chick's SIN CITY.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts Dead

Oral Roberts, the evangelist who rose from humble tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university bearing his name, died Tuesday. He was 91.

Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.

Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts: He helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream, and he took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.

Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and he credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country's most famous ministers.

By the 1960s and '70s, he was reaching millions around the world through radio, television, publications and personal appearances. He remained on TV into the new century, co-hosting the program, "Miracles Now," with son Richard. He published dozens of books and conducted hundreds of crusades. A famous photograph showed him working at a desk with a sign on it reading, "Make no little plans here."

His ministry hit upon rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded, and Roberts' widely ridiculed proclamation that God would "call me home" if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million. (It was a plea that Chick mocked in one of his tracts.) A law school Roberts founded also was shuttered.

Semiretired in recent years and living in California, he returned to Tulsa in October 2007 as scandal roiled Oral Roberts University. His son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as university president, faced allegations of spending university money on shopping sprees and other luxuries at a time the institution was more than $50 million in debt. See Chick's REV. WONDERFUL.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Race Trumps Sexual Orientation in Houston

Houston became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor.

Annise Parker defeated former city attorney Gene Locke with 53.6 percent of the vote Saturday in a race that had a turnout of only 16.5 percent.

"This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that's what my administration will be about," Parker told supporters after Locke conceded defeat.

Parker, 53, openly campaigned with her gay partner, and it became the focus of the race after religious groups endorsed Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker's "homosexual behavior."

Locke, also a liberal democrat, tried to distance himself from the anti-gay attacks while courting conservative voters who could tip the election in his favor. Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations nationwide rallied to support Parker by sending money to her campaign and making calls urging people to vote.

Several other U.S. cities, including Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., and Cambridge, Mass., have openly gay mayors, but they are more liberal than Houston and much smaller.

Late Saturday, Locke offered his congratulations to Parker and urged the city to move on from the bruising campaign fight.

Parker and Locke, both Democrats in the nonpartisan race, advanced to the runoff after garnering more votes than two other candidates on Nov. 3. Parker will succeed Bill White, who is term-limited after serving six years and is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Houston is predominantly Democratic and about 25 percent black and 33% Hispanic. The Hispanic vote appears to have swung strongly against the black candidate. Only about 60,000 of Houston's residents identify themselves as gay or lesbian. See Chick's SIN CITY.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rick Warren Condemns African Anti-Gay Sex Bill

After weeks of pressure by liberals to speak out against a bill against homosexual acts in Uganda that is backed by many of his Christian allies in the U.S. and the East African nation, Pastor Rick Warren on Thursday released a video and statement defending his earlier silence but also vigorously condemning the bill.

Warren is a megachurch pastor in Southern California whose bestselling books and close ties to politicians and world leaders has made him the most prominent American preacher since Billy Graham. He began his video statement by explaining that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 is "a law that I had nothing to do with, completely oppose and vigorously condemn."

"But because I didn't rush to make a public statement," Warren continued, "some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill, and some even claimed I was a sponsor of the bill. You in Uganda know that is untrue."

He also said he had not spoken out earlier because "it is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations." But he added that because this is a moral issue and because he is a mentor to pastors in Uganda "who look to me for guidance," he decided to release a statement.

The bill, which is currently before the Ugandan parliament and has been expected to pass, would require a seven-year jail term for homosexual acts and three years for anyone who fails to report evidence of homosexual acts within 24 hours of learning of them. It would also call for the execution of any homosexual who rapes a disabled person or anyone under 18 (statutory rape), or when the rapists is HIV positive. While many countries -- especially conservative Muslim nations -- criminalize homosexual sex, the Ugandan law would be among the strongest. See Chick's REVEREND WONDERFUL.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Witch Hunters Sue

In May 2009, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) launched an anti-superstition campaign to highlight and combat the abuse of alleged child witches throughout the African continent. Now witch hunter Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria and a frequent target of criticism by CFI, has filed a lawsuit in Nigerian federal court against Leo Igwe, CFI’s representative in Nigeria.

The events were set into motion on July 29 when a mob of about 150 members from Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church attacked Igwe and others during a “Child Rights and Witchcraft” event in Calabar, Nigeria. Police finally broke up the mob and arrested one person. Igwe’s bag, phone, camera, and a copy of his planned speech were stolen and his eyeglasses were smashed.

The complaint filed by Ukpabio essentially alleges religious discrimination on the part of Igwe, who has been a tireless vocal critic of Ukpabio’s claims that many of Nigeria’s children and women are witches. The suit, scheduled for a hearing on December 17, is seeking an injunction to prevent Igwe and other humanist groups from holding seminars or workshops aimed at raising awareness about the dangers associated with the religious belief in witchcraft. Ukpabio is attempting to erect a legal barrier against humanist groups who might criticize her group for their practices.

“The persecution of alleged child witches underscores the importance of our anti-superstition campaign in Africa,” said Norm R. Allen Jr., executive director of African Americans for Humanism and CFI’s Transnational Programs. “Superstition has dire consequences to individuals and societies and often contributes greatly to gross human rights abuses. Those who continue to view superstition as benign must think again.” See Chick's POOR LITTLE WITCH.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Orthodox Jews Take A Public Stand

The leaders in the local large Orthodox Jewish community go to great lengths to keep out the outside world, discouraging nonbusiness use of the Internet and encouraging strict filters to keep the ungodly out when members must use the Web.

But last month, several rabbis and other elders did something astounding for them: They took a public stand on a political issue, declaring their opposition to same-sex marriage in the state.

"This really hurts us," said Rabbi Osher Lieberman, a key figure in the community in the suburbs about 30 miles east of Trenton. "To say (it's) immoral is not enough." He said community members are being encouraged to do whatever they can to make sure lawmakers don't vote to recognize gay marriage.

In a state that leans a bit left, the conservative rabbis are one of a handful of groups taking a passionate – and maybe surprising – role in a debate that's likely to be decided by January. The newly political rabbis have joined a coalition including Roman Catholic bishops, evangelicals and some black and Latino leaders.

The other side of the debate, anchored by a well-organized, well-connected gay rights group, is getting a boost from heterosexual liberals.

When Republican Chris Christie unseated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in the gubernatorial election last month, it gave gay-rights activists more urgency to try to achieve their long-held goal of getting a same-sex marriage bill through the Legislature before Christie takes office Jan. 19.

The reason is simple: Corzine supports the bill. Christie says he would veto it. Hear Chick's tape book, LET'S TAKE A STAND.

Argentina Blocks Gay Marriage

In another blow for gay marriage activists, an Argentine judge put a hold Monday on a lower court's decision to permit the first gay marriage in Latin America.

The official court Web site said national judge Marta Gomez Alsina ordered the wedding blocked until the issue can be considered by the Supreme Court.

Jose Maria Di Bello and his partner, Alex Freyre, set plans to wed Tuesday based on an earlier ruling by a city judge in Buenos Aires. They will probably attempt to proceed with the ceremony, but it will have no legal standing.

"They are shocked and saddened by the news, but still have hopes that the wedding will go forth as planned," said Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Federation for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals who coordinated the team of laywers that filed the couple's suit.

Two weeks ago, a city judge, acting with the blessing of Buenos Aires' mayor, ruled the couple had been unconstitutionally denied a marriage license and gave them permission to wed.

"We have a huge responsibility on our shoulders," Freyre told the AP in discussing the implications of the couple's effort. "People are suffering because of these limitations."

In 2002, Buenos Aires became the first Spanish-speaking city to allow same-sex civil unions. As critics had warned, it was only the first step to a slippery slope the quickly led to demands for full fledge gay marriages.

Argentina's national legislature opened debate last month on a bill that would change a civil code provision defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A new marriage law would mean gay couples could enjoy all the rights of a married couple like the right to adopt children, inherit wealth or share a health care plan.

The couple, who met at an HIV awareness rally, wanted to marry on Dec. 1 because it is World AIDS day. See Chick's SIN CITY,

Gay Marriage Loses in New York

The Gay marriage bill was comprehensively defeated in New York State senate yesterday. Even the opponents of the same sex marriage in New York State senate had not anticipated their margin of victory will be so big. Supporters of gay marriage were defeated by the margin of 14 in the New York State Senate.

The opponents celebrated the decisive victory on a proposal to legalize the same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

The New York Assembly needed 32 votes to pass the gay marriage in relatively liberal state and they failed by an unexpected margin of 24 to 38 where other chamber of legislator had already approved the bill thrice and the Democrat Governor supported it. The strong defeat in a liberal state proves that the momentum on the issue has now shifted to the other side. See Chick's THE GAY BLADE.

One Sided Jobs Summit Begins

President Obama begins a Job's Summit to address the growing numbers of unemployed. The current level of recently unemployed is over 10%, and chronically unemployed tops 17%. The new panel of "experts" consists of labor unions and well known liberal Nobel Prize winners. Conspicuously missing is the chamber of commerce and business groups-- the very people who hire folks and create jobs. The Administration seems determined to stack the deck to make certain that no one will suggest lowering taxes, a classic incentive to job's growth with historical results. Instead, taxes will jump in 2010 as Bush tax cuts expire, and a three fold increase in spending assures dramatic tax hikes in the future, especially if government takes on nationalizing health care expenses. See Chick's THE MAD MACHINE.