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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, November 29, 2010

Israel Called Out For Assassinating Iranian Scientist

TEHRAN, Iran -Iran's president accused Israel and the West of being behind a pair of daring bomb attacks that killed one nuclear scientist and wounded another in their cars on the streets of Tehran on Monday. He also admitted for the first time that a computer worm had affected centrifuges in Iran's uranium enrichment program.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials vowed that the nuclear program would not be hampered by what they described as a campaign to sabotage it — whether by assassination or by the computer virus. The United States and its allies say Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a claim Tehran denies.

The two bomb attacks occurred when assailants on motorcycles attached magnetized bombs to the cars of two nuclear scientists as they drove to work in separate parts of the capital Monday morning. They detonated seconds later, killing one scientist, wounding another and wounding each of their wives, who were in the cars, Tehran's police chief said.

At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years, one of them in an attack similar to Monday's.
The wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, is on a list of figures suspected of links to secret nuclear activities in a 2007 U.N. sanctions resolution, which puts a travel ban and asset freeze on those listed. The resolution describes him as a Defense Ministry scientist who works closely with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to head secret nuclear projects. Iranian media said he was a member of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran's strongest military force.

Majid Shahriar, the scientist killed in the bombing, was involved in a major project with Iran's nuclear agency, said the agency's chief, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, though he did not give specifics.

"Undoubtedly, the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved in the assassination," Ahmadinejad told a press conference. He said the attack would not hamper the nuclear program.

Salehi, who was a former teacher of the slain scientist, wept as he went on state TV later to talk of the killing. "They (Iran's enemies) are mistaken if think they can shake us," he said.

Asked about the Iranian accusations, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel did not comment on such matters. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "We decry acts of terrorism, wherever they occur. And beyond that, we do not have any information on what happened."

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad also acknowledged for the first time that a computer worm affected centrifuges in Iran's uranium enrichment program, which the United Nations has demanded Tehran halt.

Iran has previously acknowledged discovering the Stuxnet worm, which experts say is calibrated to destroy centrifuges by causing them to spin out of control, at its nuclear facilities. But Iranian officials — including Salehi — said it was discovered and neutralized before it could cause any damage, and they accused the West of trying to sabotage Iran's program.

But Ahmadinejad told reporters, "They managed to create problems for a limited number of our centrifuges through the software ... installed on electronic parts. But this (virus) was discovered and the problem was resolved."

He said Iranian experts had learned from the attempt and "this became an experience that stops the path for (sabotage) forever."

Earlier in November, U.N. inspectors found Iran's enrichment program temporarily shut down, according to a recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The length and cause of the shutdown were not known, but speculation fell on Stuxnet.
Iran's enrichment program is of international concern because the process can create both fuel for an electricity-generating reactor and nuclear warhead material. Iran insists it wants to enrich only to run a nuclear reactor network.

Monday's bombings bore close similarities to another in January that killed Tehran University professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior physics professor. He was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work.

In 2007, state TV reported that nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, died from gas poisoning. A one-week delay in the reporting of his death prompted speculation about the cause, including that Israel's Mossad spy agency was to blame. See Chick's LOVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

Ok. Law Banning Shariah Influence On Hold

An Oklahoma federal judge has put a hold on Ballot Question 755 -- aka the "Shariah law amendment" -- which forbids state courts from implementing international laws, including Islamic Shariah law. The permanent injunction will grant the judge additional time to consider issues surrounding the amendment.

Sponsors of the law pointed to a New Jersey decision in 2009. A Moroccan man raped his wife, and the judge refused to issue a restraining order because of the man's religious belief that his wife must submit to sex. The appellate court reversed the decision, but appeals are costly and time consuming. The New Jersey case is unique in this country, but in England and some other non-Muslim countries, Muslims can enter special Shariah courts to decide divorce and custody cases if both parties agree.

Oklahoma federal Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange previously blocked implementation of the ballot measure, which was approved by voters in early November, in light of a lawsuit filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations aiming to nullify the law. That motion passed at just over 70 percent.

The judge took today's court order as an opportunity to highlight the constitutional debate at hand.

"While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out," Miles-LaGrange wrote, "the court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual's constitutional rights."

She added that the case speaks "to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country's history, the will of the 'majority' has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals." See Chick's WHO IS HE?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mosque Offices of Terrorist Burned

CORVALLIS, Ore. (Nov. 28) -- Someone set fire to an Islamic center on Sunday, two days after a man who worshipped there was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other Muslims fear it could be the first volley of misplaced retribution.

The charges against Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born 19-year-old who was caught in a federal sting operation, are testing tolerance in a state that has been largely accepting of Muslims. Muslims who know the suspect say they are shocked by the allegations against him and that he had given them no hint of falling into radicalism.

The fire at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis was reported at 2:15 a.m., and evidence at the scene led authorities believe it was set intentionally, said Carla Pusateri, a fire prevention officer for the Corvallis Fire Department.

Authorities don't know who started the blaze or exactly why, but they believe the center was targeted because Mohamud occasionally worshipped there.

"We have made it quite clear that the FBI will not tolerate any kind of retribution or attack on the Muslim community," said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.

Mohamud was being held on charges of plotting to carry out a terror attack Friday on a crowd of thousands at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, and it wasn't clear if he had a lawyer yet.

On Friday, he parked what he thought was a bomb-laden van near the ceremony and then went to a nearby train station, where he dialed a cell phone that he believed would detonate the vehicle, federal authorities said. Instead, federal authorities moved in and arrested him. No one was hurt.

There were also no injuries in Sunday's fire, which burned 80 percent of the center's office but did not spread to worship areas or any other rooms, said Yosof Wanly, the center's imam.

After daybreak, members gathered at the center, where a broken window had been boarded up.

"I've prayed for my family and friends, because obviously if someone was deliberate enough to do this, what's to stop them from coming to our homes and our schools?" said Mohamed Alyagouri, a 31-year-old father of two who worships at the center. "I'm afraid for my children getting harassed from their teachers, maybe from their friends."

The imam said Corvallis, a college town about 75 miles southwest of Portland, has long been accepting of Muslims.

"The common scene here is to be very friendly, accepting various cultures and religions," Wanly said. "The Islamic center has been here for 40 years, it's more American than most Americans with regards to age."

In Portland, residents are alarmed by the terror plot, but Mayor Sam Adams said they are "not going to let this change our values of being an open and embracing city." He said that he beefed up patrols around mosques "and other facilities that might be vulnerable to knuckle-headed retribution" after hearing of the bomb plot.

Authorities have not explained how Mohamud, an Oregon State University student until he dropped out on Oct. 6, became so radicalized. Mohamud graduated from high school in the Portland suburb of Beaverton, although few details of his time there were available Saturday.

Wanly described him as a normal student who went to athletic events, drank an occasional beer and was into rap music and culture. He described Mohamud as religious, saying he attended prayers in Corvallis once or twice a month over a year and a half.

Mohamud is among tens of thousands of Somalis who have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991. The U.N.-backed government controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the capital, while large parts of Somalia are controlled by the insurgent group Al-Shabab, which vows allegiance to al-Qaida.

Omar Jamal, first secretary for the Somali mission to the United Nations in New York City, told The Associated Press his office has received "thousands of calls" from Somalis in the United States who are concerned about tactics used by federal agents in the sting operation against Mohamud. (We better stop then, we wouldn't want to "offend" them!)

Jamal said there is concern in the Somali community that Mohamud was "lured into an illegal act."

But many Somalis in the United States are wondering whether Mohamud's "rights have been violated" by federal agents in the sting operation, he said. "What did they tell him to go along with this heinous crime?" Jamal said.

An FBI affidavit said it was Mohamud who picked the target of the bomb plot, that he was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could die, and that he could back out.

Officials said Mohamud had no formal ties to foreign terror groups, although he had reached out to suspected terrorists in Pakistan.

FBI agents say they began investigating after receiving a tip from an unidentified person who expressed concern about Mohamud. This summer an agent e-mailed Mohamud, pretending to be affiliated with an "unindicted associate" whom Mohamud had tried to contact.

Agents had some face-to-face meetings with Mohamud. On Nov. 4, in the backcountry along Oregon's coast, they convinced him that he was testing an explosive device - although the explosion was controlled by agents rather than the youth.

On Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove into downtown Portland to the white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert. He then proceeded to attempt ti murder thousands of his adopted fellow-countrymen as they celebrated the lighting of the Christmas tree.

Authorities said they allowed the plot to proceed to obtain evidence to charge the suspect with plotting to carrying out the attack. If they didn't have him dead to rights, the same Muslims that are complaining that he may have been entrapped would be complaining that he was only bluffing. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Young Black Muslim Arrested For Christmas Bomb Attempt

PORTLAND, Ore. — Federal agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Friday night, authorities said.

The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.

Yelling "Allahu Akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" - Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.

"The threat was very real," said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale."

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Saturday that President Barack Obama was aware of the FBI operation before Friday's arrest. Shapiro said Obama was assured that the FBI was in full control of the operation and that the public was not in danger.

"The events of the past 24 hours underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," Shapiro said. "The president thanks the FBI, the Department of Justice and the rest of our law enforcement, intelligence and Homeland Security professionals who have once again served with extraordinary skill and resolve and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand."

A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that federal agents began investigating the suspect after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager. The official declined to provide more detail about the relationship between Mohamud and that source.

The FBI affidavit that outlined the investigation alleges that Mohamud planned the attack for months, at one point mailing bomb components to FBI operatives, whom he believed were assembling the device.

According to the official, Mohamud hatched the plan on his own and without any instruction from a foreign terrorist organization, and he planned the details, including where to park the van for the maximum number of casualties.

The affidavit said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out, but he told agents: "Since I was 15 I thought about all this;" and "It's gonna be a fireworks show ... a spectacular show."

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday.

Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt.

The alleged plot in Portland follows a string of terrorist attack planning by imigrants, including a Times Square plot in which Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to trying to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. U.S. authorities had no intelligence about Shahzad's plot until the smoking car turned up in Manhattan.

Late last month, Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Virginia was arrested and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters. Similar to the Portland sting, the bombing plot was a ruse conducted over the past six months by federal officials.

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents to The Associated Press and the Oregonian newspaper that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an "unindicted associate" in Pakistan's northwest, a frontier region where al-Qaida and Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents are strong. The person Mohamud had been in e-mail contact with was a friend living in Pakistan who had been a student in Oregon in 2007-2008, the official told the AP.

The two used coded language in which the FBI believes Mohamud discussed traveling to Pakistan to prepare for "violent jihad," the documents said.

In June an FBI agent contacted Mohamud "under the guise of being affiliated with" the suspected terrorist.

An undercover agent met with him a month later in Portland, where they "discussed violent jihad," according to the court documents.

As a trial run, Mohamud and agents detonated a bomb in Oregon's backcounry earlier this month.

"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people - even here in Oregon - who are determined to kill Americans," Holton said.

Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.

They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.

Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nations, condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.

"Talk to them and tell them what you know so we can all be safe," Jamal said.

Somalia Foreign Minister Mohamed Abullahi Omaar said his government is "ready and willing" to offer the U.S. any assistance it may need to prevent similar attempts. He said the attempt in Portland was a tragedy for Mohamud's family and the "people he tried to harm."

"Mohamud's attempt is neither representative nor an example of Somalis. Somalis are peace loving people," said Omaar, whose government is holed up in a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, while much of the country's southern and central regions are ruled by Islamist insurgents.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991 (and not all of them seem very thankful for it!).

In August, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment naming 14 people accused of being a deadly pipeline routing money and fighters from the U.S. to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Mohamud's native Somalia,

At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder said the indictments reflect a disturbing trend of recruitment efforts targeting U.S. residents to become terrorists.

Officials have been working with Muslim community leaders across the United States, particularly in Somali diasporas in Minnesota, trying to combat the radicalization. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving All

And don't eat any Catholic Turkeys! Haw-haw!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today is National Chick Tract Day!

Yes, the day when we all:

1. Use some outdated expression in a fruitless effort to sound "hip." Good examples include, "Far out", "That's heavy man", or "This will blow your mind!"

2. Laugh really hard at something that isn't particularly funny while pointing at it and guffawing, "Haw-haw-haw!"

3. Leave a Chick tract for that special someone who is least likely to have any interest in Christianity. Good examples include rock stars, prison bullies, or religious leaders of non-Christian faiths. The more impossible it is to imagine they will read it and be converted by it, the more probable it is that they will fall on all fours and recite the Sinner's prayer by the end of the story (at least, that's how it happens in the tracts).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pope Okay's Prostitute Condoms

Pope Benedict XVI has said that in special cases, such as that of prostitutes trying to prevent HIV infection, condoms could be justified under Catholic ethical thinking, especially if their use leads to an awareness that engaging in such a "banalization of sexuality" is morally harmful.

Some news reports portrayed the pope's statements as a "stunning turnaround" for the church, although Benedict was actually articulating longstanding Catholic tradition on the issue. But his remarks were important for the extent of their explanation of this complex matter -- and because they come from the pope, which makes them more authoritative than other church proclamations.

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility," the pontiff told German journalist Peter Seewald in a book-length interview, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," which is being released Tuesday.

The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts on Saturday.

Benedict's comments were prompted by Seewald's question to the pope about the uproar he provoked in 2009 when he told reporters, while on his way to Africa, that the scourge of AIDS on the continent could not be resolved by condoms.

"On the contrary, they increase the problem," he said then.

The pope's remarks touched off furious commentary, much of which blasted the pontiff for -- the critics assumed -- putting the church's teaching against contraception over the lives of Africans, especially sex workers and spouses of infected husbands or wives.

Benedict's response to the furor was murky, and did not quell the disquiet his remarks had caused. Also, the Vatican did not help his cause when it was learned that church officials in Rome had massaged the official translation in a way that tended to make the pontiff's comments sound less stark. Moreover, many critics failed to read the pope's entire answer for context, and did not appear to take into account studies showing that indiscriminate reliance on condom distribution may not actually help reduce rates of infection.

But Catholic teaching has never totally barred the use of condoms to protect people from contracting the HIV virus that causes AIDS. And the Vatican has never issued a formal pronouncement on the matter other than to stress that abstinence is always the best means of prevention, even if it that is often impractical. Earlier this year the Vatican said it had shelved a study to determine whether, or what, Rome should say on the matter, deciding that it was preferable to leave the question open-ended, depending on the circumstances rather than making a blanket judgment.

In the interview with Peter Seewald, the pontiff voiced his exasperation with how the media covered -- or exaggerated -- the episode, and he said that while the church does not view condoms "as a real or moral solution... in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." That said, the pope was in no way condoning the activity of sex workers.

Regarding the Africa uproar, Benedict says that, "I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said -- and this is what caused such great offense -- that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms.


Vatican Needs Exoricists Training

Citing a shortage of priests who can perform the rite, the
nation's Roman Catholic bishops are holding a conference on how to conduct

The two-day training, which ends Saturday in Baltimore, is to outline the
scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is
truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism.
Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of
Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy

"Learning the liturgical rite is not difficult," DiNardo said in a phone
interview before the conference, which is open to clergy only. "The problem is
the discernment that the exorcist needs before he would ever attempt the rite."

More than 50 bishops and 60 priests signed up to attend, according to Catholic
News Service, which first reported the event. The conference was scheduled for
just ahead of the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which
starts Monday in Baltimore.

Despite strong interest in the training, skepticism about the rite persists
within the American church. Organizers of the event are keenly aware of the
ridicule that can accompany discussion of the subject. Exorcists in U.S.
dioceses keep a very low profile. In 1999, the church updated the Rite of
Exorcism, cautioning that "all must be done to avoid the perception that
exorcism is magic or superstition."

The practice is much more accepted by Catholics in parts of Europe and elsewhere
overseas. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime private secretary of Pope
John Paul II, revealed a few years after the pontiff's death that John Paul had
performed an exorcism on a woman who was brought into the Vatican writhing and
screaming in what Dziwisz said was a case of possession by the devil.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference, said
only a tiny number of U.S. priests have enough training and knowledge to perform
an exorcism. Dioceses nationwide have been relying solely on these clergy, who
have been overwhelmed with requests to evaluate claims. The Rev. James LeBar,
who was the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York under the late
Cardinal John O'Connor, had faced a similar level of demand, traveling the
country in response to the many requests for his expertise.

The rite is performed only rarely. Neal Lozano, a Catholic writer and author of
the book "Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance" about combatting evil
spirits, said he knows an exorcist in the church who receives about 400
inquiries a year, but determines that out of that number, two or three of the
cases require an exorcism.

No one knows why more people seem to be seeking the rite. Paprocki said one
reason could be the growing interest among Americans in exploring general
spirituality, as opposed to participating in organized religion, which has led
more people to dabble in the occult.

"They don't know exactly what they're getting into and when they have questions,
they're turning to the church, to priests," said Paprocki, chairman of the
bishops' committee on canonical affairs and church governance. "They wonder if
some untoward activity is taking place in their life and want some help
discerning that."

Many Catholic immigrants in the U.S. come from countries where exorcism is more
common, although Paprocki said that was not a motivation for organizing the

Exorcism has deep roots in Christianity. The New Testament contains several
examples of Jesus casting out evil spirits from people, and the church notes
these acts in the Catholic Catechism. Whether or not individual Catholics
realize it, each of them undergoes what the church calls a minor exorcism at
baptism that includes prayers renouncing Satan and seeking freedom from original

A major exorcism can only be performed by a priest with the permission of his
bishop after a thorough evaluation, including consulting with physicians or
psychiatrists to rule out any psychological or physical illness behind the
person's behavior.

Signs of demonic possession accepted by the church include violent reaction to
holy water or anything holy, speaking in a language the possessed person doesn't
know and abnormal displays of strength.

The full exorcism is held in private and includes sprinkling holy water,
reciting Psalms, reading aloud from the Gospel, laying on of hands and reciting
the Lord's Prayer. Some adaptations are allowed for different circumstances. The
exorcist can invoke the Holy Spirit then blow in the face of the possessed
person, trace the sign of the cross on the person's forehead and command the
devil to leave.

The training comes at a time when many American bishops and priests are trying
to correct what they view as a lack of emphasis on the Catholic teaching about
sin and evil after the Second Vatican Council, the series of meetings in the
1960s that enacted modernizing reforms in the church. Many in the American
hierarchy, as well as Pope Benedict XVI, believe that the supernatural aspect of
the church was lost in the changes, reducing it to just another institution in
the world.

A renewed focus on exorcism highlights the divine element of the church and
underscores the belief that evil is real.

DiNardo said some Catholics who ask for an exorcism are really seeking,
"prayerful support. They're asking for formation in the faith." Still, he said
sometimes the rite is warranted.

"For the longest time, we in the United States may not have been as much attuned
to some of the spiritual aspects of evil because we have become so much attached
to what would be either physical or psychological explanation for certain
phenomena," DiNardo said. "We may have forgotten that there is a spiritual
dimension to people." See Chick's THE THING.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Holocaust Claims Defraud Millions

Authorities say a Holocaust fund that helped victims was victimized itself.

Seventeen people were charged in federal court in Manhattan with a long-running scam that defrauded Holocaust funds for survivors out of $42 million, authorities announced today. Some of the fraudulent claims date back to 1993.

Tina Fineberg, AP
Stamps from around the world, taken from correspondences relating to the distribution of restitution to families of Holocaust victims, hang in a processing center of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in New York in March 2004.
Authorities said employees of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany -- also known as the Claims Conference -- approved more than 5,500 fraudulent applications, resulting in bogus payouts from the German government through the fund. Workers and those who were part of the conspiracy kept a portion of the payments, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York said.

"If ever there was a cause that you would hope and expect would be immune from base greed and criminal fraud, it would be the Claims Conference, which every day assists thousands of poor and elderly victims of Nazi persecution," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

The charges capped an investigation that began in December 2009, when officials of the fund suspected foul play and went to the FBI.

Investigators soon found something was amiss in two funds administered by the Claims Conference: the Article 2 Fund and the Hardship Fund. The Hardship Fund was designed to make reparations to Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution who were forced to leave their homes and flee the Nazis. The majority of the payments have been to former Soviet Bloc residents who fled the Nazis but were not under their occupation. Each applicant gets a one-time payment of about $3,600.

The Article 2 Fund is for Jewish survivors who were in hiding under a false name or were confined to a Jewish-designated ghetto, labor camp or concentration camp. Those who are eligible cannot earn more than $16,000 a year after taxes. They get about $411 a month.

The indictment alleged that six employees of the fund processed false applications from some people who were not even born during World War II. And at least in one instance, the person wasn't even Jewish (but most were), authorities said.

Authorities said some of the outside conspirators recruited people, who provided identification such as passports and birth certificates, which were then altered and submitted to the corrupt insiders. The applicants took a portion of the payout and gave the rest back to the gang of conspirators, authorities said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said 11 defendants were arrested this morning. Four have already pleaded guilty as part of the indictment, which was unsealed today.

"Funds established and financed by the German government to aid Holocaust survivors were siphoned off by the greedy, and not paid out, as intended to the worthy," said Janice K. Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI. "This was a brazen miscarriage of the compensation program." See Chick's WHERE'S RABBI WAXMAN?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Muslim Cleric Calls For Murdering Americans

A U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric linked to previous attacks on the U.S. called for Muslims around world to kill Americans in a new video message posted on radical websites Monday.

Anwar al-Awlaki said since all Americans are the enemy, clerics don't need to issue any special fatwas or religious rulings allowing them to be killed.

"Don't consult with anybody in killing the Americans, fighting the devil doesn't require consultation or prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils," he said. "We are two opposites who will never come together."

In the 23-minute Arabic language message entitled "Make it known and clear to mankind," al-Awlaki said that for Americans and Muslims it was "either us or them."

Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki has used his website and English-language sermons to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and has been tied by U.S. intelligence to the 9/11 hijackers, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in November at Fort Hood, Texas.

U.S. investigators say since he returned to Yemen in 2006, al-Awlaki has moved beyond just inspiring militants to becoming an active operative in al-Qaida's affiliate there.

On Friday, the Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for sending bombs through the mail in packages addressed to the U.S. which was thwarted a week ago. This is the first full posting of the video, after clips of it were released on Oct. 23, two weeks before the mail bombs were uncovered.

Al-Awlaki also attacked rulers in the Arab world, particularly Yemen, describing them as corrupt and he called on religious scholars to declare them "non-Muslims" for betraying the Muslim people.

"Kings, emirs, and presidents are now not qualified to lead the nation, or even a flock of sheep," he said. "If the leaders are corrupt, the scholars have the responsibility to lead the nation."

He added that these leaders would have to be removed for the Muslim people to move forward. The only way Muslims were going to protect themselves from the threat of the infidels was by supporting the "mujahedeen," he said, referring to those fighting for al-Qaida.

"If we support the mujahedeen, we will win it all and if we let them down, we will lose it all," he said while wearing traditional Yemeni clothes with a dagger at his belt sitting behind a desk. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Iowans Fire Pro-Gay Activist Judges

Three Iowa Supreme Court justices lost their seats Tuesday in a historic upset fueled by their 2009 decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry. Their decision to rewrite the state laws from the bench was applauded by gay activists, but it infuriated voters who were denied the opportunity to have a say in the matter.

Vote totals from 96% of Iowa's 1,774 precincts showed Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit with less than the simple majority needed to stay on the bench.

Their removal marked the first time an Iowa Supreme Court justice has not been retained since 1962, when the merit selection and retention system for judges was adopted.

The decision is expected to echo to courts throughout the country, as conservative activists had hoped.

"It appears we're headed for a resounding victory tonight and a historic moment in the state of Iowa," said Bob Vander Plaats, the Sioux City businessman who led a campaign to remove the justices because of the 2009 gay marriage ruling. "The people of Iowa stood up in record numbers and sent a message ... that it is 'We the people,' not 'We the courts.' "

In a statement issued early Wednesday, the three justices said: "We hope Iowans will continue to support Iowa's merit selection system for appointing judges. This system helps ensure that judges base their decisions on the law and the Constitution and nothing else. Ultimately, however, the preservation of our state's fair and impartial courts will require more than the integrity and fortitude of individual judges, it will require the steadfast support of the people."

Ternus, Streit and Baker will remain on the bench until Dec. 31.

Justices serve staggered, eight-year terms. David Wiggins is up for retention in 2012; Mark Cady, Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel face voters in 2016.

The ouster effort grew out of the April 2009 gay marriage ruling that stunned the nation, outraged social conservatives and turned Iowa into the first Midwestern state to sanction same-sex marriage.

Iowans interviewed at polling stations based their votes heavily on the gay marriage ruling.

See Chick's SIN CITY.

Voters Fire Democrats Nationwide

A tidal wave of voter anger today swept the Republicans to a historic victory in the U.S. mid-term elections.

President Barack Obama is facing a bleak political landscape after voters delivered a stinging blow, handing control of the House of Representatives over to the GOP.

Media outlets across the country are confidently projecting an enormous Republican victory with Fox anticipating a massive gain of 60 seats for the Republicans - the biggest margin for 62 years.

As of 4.15am Eastern time this morning, the Republican party had netted 59 formerly Democratic seats and led in five more by early today, easily exceeding the 40 needed to gain a majority.

The Republican wins surpassed their sweep in 1994, when President Bill Clinton's Democrats lost 54 House seats, and was the biggest shift in power since Democrats lost 75 House seats in 1948.

Democrats captured only three Republican seats-- one of them was the only Republican to vote for the Healthcare bill that was forced through the House and Senate without Republican input.

Fox News's Dana Perino claimed America's 'trial separation' from Obama had begun.

'The passion from the first days of dating has cooled and some people can’t remember what they saw in him in the first place.
'There’s not even a courtesy thrown his way to soften the blow, as in “It’s not you, it’s me…” because it is, actually, about him – his policies, approach, tone and agenda.'

The House has the power to raise revenue through taxes and control spending, to impeach officials and to elect the president in case of a deadlock. It can also hold hearings and investigations - a cudgel that could be used to stymie the Obama administration.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid won the country's most high-profile Senate race after a brutal battle with Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada. Despite having narrowly won, Reid sounded bitter and angry in his victory speech:

'The bell that just rang isn't the end of the fight. It's the start of the next round,' Reid told jubilant supporters in Nevada.

Democrats also won key Senate races in West Virginia and California, where Senator Barbara Boxer won re-election, ensuring they would retain at least a slender Senate majority.

Senate Republicans gained six seats and the re-election bids of two other Democratic incumbents - Michael Bennet in Colorado and Patty Murray in Washington - were too close to call.

Speaking on Fox last night in reaction to the House projection, Sarah Palin said: 'That's an earthquake.'
Sixty is huge,' she added. 'It really isn’t a surprise though I think to so many who have been tracking closely the mood, the sentiment of the American public.

'To me that’s an earthquake. It is a huge message sent. It is a shakeup and then we’re going to see some of the shakeup in the Senate too.

'It is a big darn deal,' Palin added. 'There is a lot of disenchantment and some disenfranchisement that the American public feels when we’re trying to relate to what government is doing to our country right now. So it’s a big deal to see this shakeup to see this turnaround.'

The power switch will mean that Nancy Pelosi's reign as America's first woman House Speaker is over.
She will be replaced by Boehner when Congress reconvenes after the election.

Boehner was overcome with emotion as he celebrated the Republican victory. He said the American people have sent 'an unmistakable message' to President Obama.

'And that message is - change course,' he said. 'We hope that President Obama will respect the will of the people and change course and commit to making changes that they are demanding.

'To the extent that he is willing to do that, we are willing to work with him. But make no mistake, the President will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as it expressed it tonight. See Chick's THE POOR REVOLUTIONIST.