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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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2 New Tracts Released

Not waiting for the usually first of the month, Chick Publications released two new tracts. GOING DOWN (an all original tale drawn by Chick) and ROYAL AFFAIR (a rerelease of a previously out of print title drawn by Fred Carter). There is also another Crusaders comic in the works to be released very soon. Watch CHICK.COM for details.

Ancient Israel Fortifications Found

An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That's a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible's account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

While some Holy Land archaeologists support that version of history — including the archaeologist behind the dig, Eilat Mazar — others posit that David's monarchy was largely mythical and that there was no strong government to speak of in that era.
Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find "the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel."

Based on what she believes to be the age of the fortifications and their location, she suggested it was built by Solomon, David's son, and mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard-long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. See Chick's ROYAL AFFAIR.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Woods Claims Buddah For Sex Help

Tiger Woods received both acclaim and criticism for his choreographed statement of remorse Friday, with the critiques centering on his refusal to allow any questions from the media.

But one thing that the world's top golfer certainly cleared up was the question of his religious faith -- and whether he would be taking the controversial advice of Fox News' Brit Hume and converting to Christianity in order to become a better person.

"I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know, above all, I am the one who needs to change," Woods told the carefully screened audience of friends, family and reporters at his Florida announcement Friday morning. "I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That's where my focus will be. I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it," he said.

He added:
"Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."

See Chick's THE TYCOON.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2 Arrested in Texas Church Fires

Two arrests have been made in a string of deliberately set church fires in east Texas, a fire official said Sunday.

Neal Franklin, fire chief of Tyler, Texas, would not divulge further details. A news conference was scheduled for later Sunday afternoon.

Ten church fires have happened in east Texas this year. Nine of them have been ruled arson.

No clear theme links the fires, which have struck churches of different denominations, including Baptist, Methodist and Church of Christ Scientist, at different times of the day and on different days of the week, authorities have said. While the churches are in small towns, not all of them are in remote locations.

A map shows the sites of several recent church fires in East Texas. Two men were arrested and charged Sunday in connection with the blazes, authorities said.
Investigators are not sure whether an 11th church fire, also ruled arson, in Temple, Texas, is related to the others, said Tom Crowley, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Temple is about 150 miles from the area where the other blazes have been concentrated, in an area east of Dallas, Texas.

The ATF on February 12 issued sketches of three people sought in the fires. See Chick's BAD BOB.

More Political Pressure on Military During War

Lawmakers this week will press the military's top uniformed officers for the first time on whether they think repealing "don't ask, don't tell" makes sense or would be too disruptive.

The testimony from each of the service chiefs on Capitol Hill will be crucial to the debate in Congress on whether to repeal the 17-year-old law, which bans gays from serving openly in the military.

President Barack Obama says the policy unfairly punishes patriots who want to serve their country. Obama is looking for ways to "pay back" the gay lobby for money and support during the last election. He has ordered Defense Secretary Robert Gates to begin a yearlong study on how to mitigate the impact of lifting the ban.

Providing much-needed political cover is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who has said he thinks the law unfairly forces gay troops to compromise their integrity by lying about who they are.

But lawmakers, who are divided on whether to end the ban, say they want to hear from the service chiefs. They are the ones who would be in charge of putting any changes in place and responding to any fallout. While some leaders in the military have seen the new political landscape and decided to support the change, it is no secret that the military overally is strongly against the change.

"The armed forces have always placed military effectiveness above individual needs," said Rep. Gene Taylor, a conservative Democrat from Mississippi who says he is unconvinced that the ban should be lifted.

"This is one of the core concepts that has made the U.S. military one of the most effective combat forces in history," he said.

Indeed, it was outside political interference that is credited with destroying moral and leading to defeat in Vietnam, when politicians tried to micro-manage the military during war forty years ago. At that time, Congress attempted to tell generals how to fight, including which half of the bridges they should bomb.

The current policy allows fit adult to serve as long as they don't make their sexuality an issue. Once they openly proclaim having sexual urges for the same sex as their fellow soldiers, it makes it impossible to segregate troops in manner that discourages sexual liasons. (Men and women are not currently housed together.) But gay activists are less concerned with the success of the military mission than they are the success of their political agenda. See Chick's SIN CITY.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Israel Tied to Assassination/ Murder Plot

British officials said today that the British passports used by six suspects in the murder of a Hamas commander in Dubai were forgeries, and that the suspected assassins are not British nationals.

The six were part of an 11-strong hit squad suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 49, in a Dubai hotel room on 20 January. Last month Hamas claimed Israeli agents assassinated Mabhouh, who was wanted for the killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989.

Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai's chief of police, said last night that 11 people, including one woman, were wanted over the killing. He said all the suspects had European passports. The passports belonged to Jews with dual citizenship living in Israel, who didn't seem to know their identity had been stolen. It added to the widespread conviction that Israel was behind the well organized and financed "hit". Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, would certainly have been aware of the operation, but he has made no comment. Indeed, Israel has not denied the allegations, they have merely stated there is no proof they did it.

It bore all the earmarks of a typical Israel/ Mossad assassination plot. It was a highly organised operation that took place in the hours leading up to the killing, and said the killers had spent less than a day in the country. At a press conference, police played CCTV footage of the alleged hit squad arriving in Dubai the day before Mabhouh was found dead.

The 11 suspects checked into separate hotels and used disguises that included wigs, fake beards, tennis rackets and other sports gear during the operation, Tamim told reporters.

Several of the group had followed Mabhouh, even riding in the same lift to determine his room number, before checking into a room across the hallway. Four suspects then used an electronic device to enter the 49-year-old's empty room, and waited for him to return.

The killing took place about five hours after Mabhouh's arrival at the hotel, and lasted just 10 minutes, Tamim said. All 11 suspects had left the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals, flying to locations in Europe and Asia.

The police chief said there had been "serious penetration into Mabhouh's security prior to his arrival" in Dubai, but that it appeared Mabhouh was travelling alone.

"Hamas did not tell us who he was. He was walking around alone," Tamim said. "If he was such an important leader, why didn't he have people escorting him?" The police chief added that an initial examination of the body had shown Mabhouh died of suffocation, but said further tests were continuing to determine other possible factors in his death.

Last month, Mabhouh's brother, Fayek al-Mabhouh, said doctors believed he had died from a electric shock to the head, while another Palestinian source said Mabhouh could have been poisoned.

Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas leader, has previously said Mabhouh was ambushed by agents from the Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, although he gave no evidence for his accusation.

See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Church Shooting Wounds Two

Police were seeking a hooded gunman who horrified the all black congregation of Oakland area church when he paced the aisles then pulled out a gun and shot two teenagers.

No arrests had been made or suspects named in the Sunday shooting at New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Richmond, police said.

The gunman flanked by two companions in hooded sweatshirts walked into the church, scanned the pews and fired about five shots, hitting a 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man in front of about 100 people, Richmond police Sgt. Bisa French said.

Charles Miller, a 64-year-old deacon at the church, said members of the congregation were about to tell the men to take off their hoods when the shooting began.

"I was listening to the choir and all of a sudden there was a 'pop pop pop pop pop,'" Miller told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Everyone hit the floor. I didn't know the shooting was inside the church at first, until I heard all of the hollering and screaming."

The 14-year-old was hit in the shoulder and the 19-year-old was struck in the leg, French said. Both victims, whose names haven't been released, were hospitalized and were expected to survive. There were no other injuries.

"It's terrible when you come to the house of the Lord and start doing this," Miller said. "It's just something you don't do."

Investigators believe the men were targeting someone in the church but don't know if the two who were hit were the intended targets, French said. Race was not a factor, as both the shooters and the victims were black.

French said investigators were interviewing witnesses to see if anyone recognized the men.

A handful of congregants returned to the church after police processed the crime scene and finished the service.

"We went on and had church anyway," Miller told the Chronicle. "We were giving thanks that nobody was killed. We wanted to go and serve the Lord anyway."

The small, off-white two-story church is surrounded by a red-and white wrought-iron fence in a residential section of Richmond, a city of 103,000 on the eastern Bay shoreline north of Oakland and Berkeley.

The city has already seen seven homicides in 2010, and garnered national attention because of the alleged gang rape by as many as 10 people of a 16-year-old girl outside an October homecoming dance at Richmond High School, with as many as 20 bystanders allegedly watching. See Chick's WHY NO REVIVAL?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Irish Bishops Meet Pope for Sex Abuse

Bishops who will fly to the Vatican to meet Pope Benedict over a pedophilia scandal that has shaken devoutly Catholic Ireland will acknowledge the "enormous injustice and cruelty" inflicted on the victims, a participant said Sunday.

The Monday and Tuesday meetings, the first of their kind at the Vatican in eight years, will discuss a plan for action and could lead to more prelates resigning in a shakeup in the Irish Church hierarchy. Four have already quit.

Benedict, 24 Irish bishops and top Vatican officials will hold three sessions in response to outrage in Ireland over the Murphy Commission Report, a damning indictment of child sex abuse by priests in the country.

The bishops would acknowledge "the failure on the part of all of us" to be vigilant against abuse and express their commitment to try to rectify "the enormous injustice and cruelty" that victims have suffered, he said.

A report, published in November, said the Church in Ireland had "obsessively" hidden child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese from 1975 to 2004, and operated a policy of "don't ask, don't tell."

It said all Dublin bishops in charge during the period under study had been aware of some complaints, but the archdiocese had been more preoccupied with protecting the reputation of the Church than safeguarding children.

Four bishops have offered their resignations and the pope has so far accepted one of them. Victims group One in Four called on other bishops throughout Ireland who engaged in this "culture of cover up" to step down.

One in Four also complained that the Vatican and its ambassador to Ireland "saw fit to hide behind diplomatic protocols to avoid co-operating with the Murphy Commission." The Vatican said the commission had "not gone through the appropriate diplomatic channels."


Victims groups said they will seek monetary compensation, which could lead to a financial crisis for the Irish Church.

In the United States, hit by a priestly pedophilia scandal in 2002, seven dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection in the wake of thousands of sex abuse claims against priests.

The pope has strongly condemned priestly sexual abuse during his trips to two countries hard hit by widespread scandals -- the United States and Australia. In December, he expressed his "outrage, betrayal and shame" over the Irish scandal.

But critics say the Vatican and the Church had not gone far enough in handing over suspected abusers to civil justice.

The current archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who started his job after the period covered by the report, has said he expected "a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland" as a result of the scandal.

The Church's prominent role in Irish life was one of the reasons why abuses by a minority of priests were allowed to go unchecked, the report said.

One priest admitted abusing more than 100 children. Another said he had abused children every two weeks for over 25 years. See Chick's HOME ALONE.

Pet Setting For Christians After Rapture Offered

If, as millions of fundamentalist Christians believe, the Rapture is imminent, who will take care of the pets of those who are suddenly spirited away to heaven?

Derived from an interpretation of passages of the New Testament (most notably 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), Rapture prophecy posits that Jesus Christ will return to Earth to gather his disciples for eternal life in God's kingdom, while leaving behind those who have not met a standard of piety to face the rule of Satan.

Unfortunately, pets may not be eligible for eternal salvation.
A New Hampshire man started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to care for animals left behind after Judgment Day. Here, the Web site is shown.

"Pets don't have souls, so they'll remain on Earth," Todd Strandberg, the founder of a Web site called, told BusinessWeek. "I don't see how they can be taken with you."

But 61-year-old Bart Centre has come up with a plan to look after those domestic animals not scooped up in the heavenly exodus. In July, he started Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, a pet-sitting service to care for those critters.

"Each Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you have received your reward," the company's Web site promises. "Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus."

The terms behind the pet sitting are pretty simple. For an up-front fee of $110, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, which says it has animal rescuers in 22 states, guarantees that it will take care of one pet in the event that the Rapture occurs within 10 years of payment. Each additional pet costs $15, and a 25 percent discount is offered when customers sign up again after the first term of coverage expires.

So far, more than 100 people have signed up for the service. Centre says he splits the proceeds evenly among the company's all-atheist employees. "They have to be ready," he told AOL News. "We commit to reaching a person's pet within 18 to 24 hours after the Rapture."

But what of the ethical ramifications of selling services that you personally believe you will never have to deliver?

"Essentially, that's what most insurance companies do," said Jennifer Fisher, adjunct professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco. "Premiums are based on the likelihood that the company will have to pay out money for claims."

Centre, a retired retail executive living in New Hampshire, doesn't hide the fact that he doesn't believe in the Rapture, but he is happy to take the money of those who do. "We're not looking to actually do anything in return for making this money," he said.

Since July, the company has received thousands of e-mails. "Most are from atheists congratulating us on our idea," Centre said. "Some are from Christians telling us we're going to bend down on our knees before God. Others are from Catholics who get a good laugh over the whole thing, telling us to make as much money as we can."

"Rapture is mostly a Protestant phenomenon," said Randall Reed, assistant professor of religion at Appalachian State University. "The Catholic Church has a more complicated vision of end times. And while St. Francis preached to animals, the general sense put forth in the Bible is that Christ's sacrifice was for people, not animals."

Despite what might seem like a conflicted sales pitch, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets is quite candid about its skepticism. On its Web page of frequently asked questions, for instance, visitors can read the following:
Q: How can I be sure we trust that you'll honor your service agreement, after all you ARE atheists?
A: Being an atheist does not mean we lack morals or ethics. It just means we don't believe in God or gods. All of our representatives are normal folks who love and live for their family, and are gainfully employed and have friends of varying beliefs ...
Centre says that if the Rapture comes to pass, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets won't sell pet coverage to a person unless the company already has a rescuer based in the same state.

"If the Rapture does happen, there's supposed to be a fair amount of chaos, lawlessness, hysteria," Centre said. "So we weigh in added travel time for our rescuers. Even though it will be difficult, we've made a commitment, come hell or high water." See Chick's WHERE DID THEY GO?

Cult Leader charged with enslavement, rape, incest, etc.

Ratzon, 60, was indicted Sunday on multiple charges including rape, sodomy, enslavement and sexual abuse within the family. Ratzon, who lived with 21 "wives" and had 49 children was the leader of a cult for many years.

According to the prosecutor, the indictment describes a life "that will rattle the mind, the imagination and question human morality," the prosecutor said. The women lived in several squalid apartments in Tel Aviv and most of them had pictures of Ratzon's face and his name tattooed on their bodies.

According to the charges laid out in the indictment and published in the Israeli press, Ratzon kept his "wives" and children on a tight leash. There was a long list of rules and stiff penalties for breaking them.

Here are a few examples. (Note: 3.7 Israeli shekels = $1 US)

No woman shall marry nor shall any woman attack another, either verbally or physically. Fine: 2,000 shekels, to be paid into the family kitty
No woman shall question another about her whereabouts. Fine: 100 shekels
No conversation is permitted in rooms other than the living room. It is forbidden to talk nonsense. Fine: 200 shekels

It's hard to understand how Ratzon's harem was able to last so long in Israel, a small country where everyone seems to know almost everyone else. Police said they knew about Ratzon but were unable to indict him until several of the women came forward.

In a documentary shown on Israel TV last year, several of the women said they believed Ratzon was the Messiah. His first name Goel means "redeemer." They said they felt privileged to live with him.

"Im perfect ... I have everything a woman wants," Ratzon declared in the documentary.

Neighbors told the Jerusalem Post they never heard any noise or fighting coming from the apartments. The women had jobs cleaning houses but were not allowed to work for men. They dressed conservatively, with the long skirts favored by the ultra-Orthodox.

Ratzon, who has long white hair and piercing brown eyes, continues to insist he is innocent of all wrongdoing and that the women consented to live with him. He also said he is being threatened but would not say by whom.

Police say he preyed on young vulnerable women, often ones from broken families. In the documentary, he is shown asking one woman if she wants to sleep with him that evening.

"Yes," she says and hugs him.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Saudi Child Marriages

For the first time, the Saudi Arabian state has intervened in the marriage of a preteen girl to an older man, leading some campaigners to speculate that the kingdom could be about to ban the cruel and archaic practice of child marriage.

The government-run Human Rights Commission (HRC) has hired a lawyer to review the case of a 12-year-old girl who was paired off with her father's 80-year-old cousin last year. The girl's mother opposed the marriage and attempted to secure a divorce, but suddenly dropped the case earlier this month with no explanation.

According to the local Okaz newspaper, her daughter had told the court that she consented to the ceremony, which reportedly earned her father a $23,000 dowry. "I agree to the marriage. I have no objection," she said. "This is in filial respect to my father and obedience to his wish."

However, HRC lawyer Sultan bin Zahim told Reuters that even though the "mother withdrew" her protest, the marriage is still a "public rights issue that concerns the Saudi community."

Other members of the HRC have hinted that the review will end with the case being sent back to court in the next few days and a divorce being granted. "Our main concern is to safeguard the child's rights," Alanoud al-Hejailan, a lawyer for the commission told the Times of London. "It is in the hands of the court but the commission is firmly on the child's side."

This sort of intervention is unusual in Saudi Arabia's highly patriarchal society, where men have the power to decide who and when their children marry. The utter powerlessness of Saudi mothers was exposed last year, when a court in the city of Onaiza repeatedly dismissed a divorce petition by the mother of an 8-year-old girl whose father had sold her into marriage with a man in his 50s. The judge ruled that the woman did not have the right to file such a case on behalf of her daughter. (Another judge later granted the annulment, after the families of the bride and groom reached an out-of-court settlement.)

Many of the country's hard-line Wahhabi imams claim child marriage is justified by the Koran, since the Prophet Muhammad wed his third wife, Aisha, when she was only 9 years old. "It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger," Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom's top cleric, said in January, according to the regional Al-Hayat newspaper. "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong, and they are being unfair to her."

However, although relatively few of these ceremonies are believed to take place each year, the international outrage they spark is embarrassing for the ruling al-Saud family. And in the past year, influential figures in the Kingdom have started to speak out against the practice.

"A child has the right to live her childhood and not be forced to get married," Princess Adela bint Abdullah, the daughter of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, said earlier this month according to Al-Riyadh. "Even an adult would not accept that."

And senior Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie last month told Okaz that Aisha's marriage to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century "cannot be equated with child marriages today because the conditions and circumstances are not the same."

Human rights campaigners now hope that the international focus on this new case will force the government to speed the passage of draft legislation, currently being studied by a government committee, that would set the minimum age of marriage between 16 and 18.

"This case is an investment in order to push for a law," Wajiha al-Huweider, a Saudi rights activist, told Reuters. "We need to affect public opinion and I believe that Saudi Arabia will issue a law preventing child marriages soon." See Chick's THE LITTLE BRIDE.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Chick's Alma Mater Closes

After more than 90 years the Pasadena Playhouse in California has taught acting and presented plays. Jack Chick graduated there after WW2, and it's where he met his future wife. Now, the theater is scheduled to close its doors on Feb. 7, after the final performance of "Camelot," because of deep debt. The entire staff of 37 was laid off Thursday. "We firmly believe it would be irresponsible to continue to operate in the same financial patterns of the past," Stephen Eich, the executive director of the playhouse, said in a statement, adding that the theater will explore bankruptcy and financial reorganization. The playhouse, which has closed and filed for bankruptcy before, has been the staging ground for many productions, including "Looped," starring Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead, which is scheduled to start previews on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater this month.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Wood's Mistress Angry At Tiger Balls

A novelty golf ball set that features cartoon likenesses of Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses has led one of those women to call for an end to their production.

Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with Woods, says the balls are insensitive and promote violence toward women.

Attorney Gloria Allred appeared with Siwik-Daniels in Los Angeles on Wednesday arguing that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. Siwik-Daniels says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.

The golf ball set, "Tail of the Tiger -- The Mistress Collection," bears caricatures of several women who have been linked to Tiger Woods, whose alleged affairs came to light after getting injured in an early-morning car crash at his Isleworth home in Orlando on Nov. 24, 2009.

The Canadian company Creative Classics is selling the set of 12 golf balls with images of Jaimee Grubbs, Rachel Uquitel, Siwik-Daniels and nine others. They sell for $44.95 and the set has already made the company $40,000, according to news reports. See Chick's CAUGHT!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dalai Lama To Meet President

President Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama later this month, the White House announced Thursday.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs did not specify a date but did confirm the meeting will take place in February at the White House.
The Dalai Lama's secretary has said he will be in Washington Feb. 17-18, The Associated Press reported.

It was unclear whether the president and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader would appear together publicly.

The Chinese government has said it opposes the Dalai Lama's visit to the United States and urged Obama not to meet with him. Chine invaded the country in the 1950s and has claimed it as their own ever since. The Dalai Lama escaped to the west, but his followers have suffered while the communist government floods their country with immigrants who treat the natives as second class citizens.

Beijing says by campaigning for Tibet's independence, the Dalai Lama is trying to destroy China's sovereignty. See Chick's KINGS OF THE EAST.

Baptists Arrested For Haitian Kidnapping

Haitian officials have charged 10 Baptist missionaries from the U.S. with child abduction and criminal conspiracy for their role in attempting to smuggle 33 children out of Haiti following that country's devastating earthquake.

The Americans, most of whom are affiliated with Idaho's Central Valley Baptist Church, were stopped at Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic on Jan. 29, with the children in their custody, as AOL News reported.

After a hearing today in Port-au-Prince, a judge found there was sufficient evidence to charge the Americans.

According to Laura Silsby, one of the leaders of the American group, the missionaries were trying to take the children to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, but she admits that they lacked the proper paperwork, including passports for the children and government approval for adoption proceedings.

Some of the parents of the children are still alive, however, and Haiti's prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, has accused the missionaries of kidnapping, though he said the court could show leniency if it determines the Americans were trying to help the children.

The Americans charged remain under detention in a Port-au-Prince prison. A verdict in the trial could take as long as three months, ABC News said. If found guilty on both charges, the missionaries could face prison sentences ranging from eight to 24 years.

In recent days, there were reports that Haitian and American officials were talking about trying the group in the U.S., since the prospects are daunting for organizing a trial under the country's current conditions.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the U.S. was trying to understand the Idaho group's motive. "Clearly, there are questions of procedure as to whether they had the appropriate paperwork to move the children," Crowley said Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Edwards Hit Cancer-Stricken Wife During Christmas Time

John Edwards allegedly struck his wife, Elizabeth, around the Christmas holidays, in what the National Enquirer Wednesday called "a horrific marriage-ending fight." This is the first time physical violence has been alleged in the very public and tawdry unraveling of their 32-year marriage.

The tabloid quotes an unnamed Elizabeth Edwards friend saying, "John lost his temper, big-time," adding that Elizabeth "has the divorce papers drawn up, but she can amend them to charge John with domestic violence."

On Jan. 21, Edwards publicly admitted what the Enquirer had long claimed: that he fathered a child with his 2008 presidential campaign videographer and mistress, Rielle Hunter, during a long-term affair. Their daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, is now two. Elizabeth Edwards, who has incurable cancer, met her husband's lover and love child late last year.

Elizabeth announced their separation after her husband finally admitted paternity. The Enquirer reported that the source of this latest story passed a lie detector test after revealing that "Elizabeth privately disclosed all the shocking details of the alleged attack." The friend also said Elizabeth told her that "when he (John ) made the decision to hit me, it was over."

Edwards was not the family's only alleged aggressor, reports the Enquirer, citing another source who said: "Elizabeth has slapped John in the past during fights over his extramarital affair with Rielle. She was so tormented by John's cheating and lies that she lashed out physically at him many times, even slapping him. On a couple of occasions, when the fights became heated, she grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed, "Why, why, why?"

Edwards did not respond to the Enquirer's request for comment on the wife-beating allegation. He was too busy helping Haitians after the earthquake. Like he repeated over and over during his campaign, "Help is on the way!" See Chick's THE ROYAL AFFAIR.