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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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

President Orders Non-Enforcement of Border Restrictions

An administration Dec. 29 memo declares that illegal immigrants may have to be held until they’re convicted in local courts before the federal government will begin deportation proceedings.

The declaration “means lots of criminal aliens will be released if the locals don’t have the resources or inclination to prosecute, or if the [suspect] is found not guilty because of a technicality,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Many absconders already settle in other states, and some commit additional crimes against Americans. In October, for example, an illegal immigrant from Bolivia was convicted or murdering a nun in a drunk-driving crash in Virginia.

Under long-standing laws, state officials are allowed to hold illegal immigrants for an extra 48 hours if federal immigration officers offer to take them into custody for subsequent deportation.

The new rule shows “the administration wants to give up one of the most important tools in preserving public safety,” said Krikorian. “We’ll have more and more instances of illegals released by police because [federal immigration officials] wouldn’t take them [and] who then go on to commit some heinous crime,” he said.

The U.S. hosts perhaps 9 million illegal immigrants, of which roughly 1.5 million illegals have committed major or minor crimes while staying in the country, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the CIS.

The new rule complements administration efforts to spur Hispanic support for the 2012 election by relaxing enforcement of immigration laws.

President Barack Obama’s campaign aides frequently say they’re seeking Hispanic support to win crucial states, such as North Carolina and Arizona. On Dec. 19, for example, Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina released a video in which he said Arizona was winnable because “hundreds of thousands” of people in the state have not registered to vote.

The campaign is using Hispanic ethnic lobbies, such as La Raza, to help register Hispanics and to persuade them to vote in November.

But the ethnic lobbies have their own demands.

They want easier immigration for their ethnic or religious groups, including Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Irish and Muslims.

The public and Congress oppose amnesty bills, so the lobbies’ demands have prompted administration officials to roll back enforcement of immigration laws.

In recent months, Eric Holder, the scandal-plagued Attorney General, has launched lawsuits against successful reforms implemented by several states — including Arizona — and has sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s police department in Arizona.

Janet Napolitano, who heads the Department of Homeland Security which oversees immigration enforcement, has also let her political deputies end routine checks of travelers in bus depots and has stopped legal proceedings against many illegals. Her department has also ordered immigration officials to largely ignore illegals who have not been convicted major crimes, and released the new memo Dec. 29.

These rollback policies are also being adopted despite the immigration reforms in Arizona and Alabama that have reduced the local unemployment rates.

The Dec. 29 memo announced a new 24-hour legal-aid hotline for illegal immigrants, but it also introduced a revised checklist for federal immigration officers.

The checklist is dubbed a “detainer” form, which federal officers have long used to request their state or local counterparts hold an illegal immigrant for an extra 48 hours beyond that allowed by local courts.

The new form includes a new box that federal officials can tick to make the detainer request conditional “upon the subject’s conviction.” The Dec. 29 memo says officials can “make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.”

Translated, that new rule means Obama’s appointees say they may not allow federal immigration officers to accept illegal immigrants for deportation until after state and local officials detain, arraign, try and convict the suspects for the crimes they were initially arrested, said Vaughan.

But that trial process can take many months, and it is often abandoned once illegal-immigrant defendants — whom federal officers have declined to detain — skip bail or overburden local courts, she said. The new rule also increases the incentive for illegal-immigrant suspects to contest every legal step.

The new rule “is almost an obstruction of justice,” because it reduces the chance that the families of people victimized by illegal immigrants will ever see justice, said Vaughan.

Already, administration officials require local police to ignore likely illegal immigrants unless they have courtroom-ready evidence of illegality, she said. This month, for example, Arizona sheriff Arpaio announced that ICE officials have stopped accepting suspected illegals detained by his deputies in Arizona.

This new rule would allow the federal agencies to avoid detaining and deporting illegals even when police have courtroom-ready evidence of crimes, she said.

Political appointees in the ICE agency will use the new rule to pressure subordinate officers to refuse custody of illegals until they’ve been convicted by local courts, Vaughan said. The appointees have to pressure the immigration officers because those officers are already working to enforce the laws despite the other enforcement-rollback directives, she said.

That additional pressure is being applied already, because translated versions of the detainer form — including information about the new conviction rule and the hotline number — will be provided to apprehended suspects who can’t speak English, says the new memo.

The form will be translated for Spanish-speaking Hispanics, French-speaking Haitians, for Portuguese-speaking Africans and Brazilians, as well as Chinese speakers and Vietnamese, according to ICE.

Still, the political impact of the rollback policy is unclear because most Hispanics voters tell pollsters that their top political priorities are the economy and education, not immigration.

Those priorities give GOP candidates the opportunity to win perhaps 40 percent of votes from Hispanic communities. These communities include distinctly different groups, such as GOP-leaning Cubans and Democratic-dominated Puerto Ricans in Florida, Mexicans in California and El Salvadorian business-owners on the East Coast.

But pollsters also say Hispanics’ voting is also heavily influenced by candidates’ apparent insults or compliments of their community. That respect factor works to the Democrats’ advantage because many GOP candidates’ support for the enforcement of immigration law is portrayed by established media and Spanish-language media as personal animus towards Hispanics.

Obama’s approval among Hispanics is down from its 2008 level, but remains above 60 percent.

However, Obama’s campaign officials are worried that Hispanics who are disappointed with the stalled economy won’t turn out to vote in 2012 unless they also see a GOP presidential candidate as hostile to their ethnic group.

The effort to rollback enforcement of immigration law follows the refusal by the White House to push for an amnesty bill.

The White House balked, in part, because the public and Congress oppose any amnesty that would bring more low-skilled workers into an economy where unemployment is above 10 percent among low-skilled workers, Hispanics and African-Americans.

Unemployment is so high that fewer than 50 percent of African-American males aged between 20 and 30 have a full-time job.


Friday, December 30, 2011

AIDS Spreader Arrested

A health alert warning residents of northern Michigan's Kent County that "possibly hundreds of people have been exposed to HIV" was issued Tuesday after the arrest of David Dean Smith, a 51-year-old HIV-positive man who told police he was on a mission to infect as many people as possible, MSNBC reports.

Smith allegedly told Grand Rapids police last week that over the past three years, he had engaged in unprotected sex with as many partners as he could -- a number he estimated to be in the "thousands" -- in an effort to infect them with HIV and kill them.

Police arrested Smith Friday on sexual offense charges and he is currently in Kent County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond with preliminary hearings scheduled for Jan. 4 and Jan. 9. When asked to comment on the case, Smith's attorney Richard E. Zambon told MSBNC that he is "concerned about his mental health" and is planning on "exploring all options" for defending Smith.

According to documents filed with Grand Rapids 61st District Court, Smith targeted Michigan residents as well as those living many states away, whom he contacted via Yahoo! Personals.

That was the method Smith used to contact one of the two victims that have already come forward. This woman agreed to be interviewed by Grand Rapids news station WOOD-TV on the condition of anonymity, telling reporters that she contracted HIV in 2008 and knew immediately that Smith was the person who had infected her.

Right before his arrest, she said, he allegedly sent her a text message that read "Turning myself into the law, my life is over. Take care. Always love you."

It's unclear why Smith chose to alert authorities of his behavior at this time, but court documents suggest he has a history of mental illness which includes a recent admission to Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services for threatening suicide. According to Michigan Live, hospital records say that Smith is "sexually aroused by causing pain to females."

How many people Smith directly infected over the past three years is difficult to determine, but the victim who spoke to WOOD-TV said Smith claimed to have had sex with as many as 3,000 people of both genders.

The Kent County Health Department is encouraging anyone who believes they may have been infected by Smith to come forward.
Anyone concerned that they may have been infected can call the Kent County Health Department Personal Health Services Clinic at 616.632.7171. All calls and HIV testing is confidential. See Chick's THAT CRAZY GUY.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ron Paul Back Peddles on Israel

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, battling allegations he is anti-Israel, praised it as one of the United States's most important allies in an Israeli newspaper interview published on Thursday.

Paul's emailed comments appeared in the left-wing Haaretz daily after a former aide said the Texas congressman favored abolishing the Jewish state and a leading U.S. Jewish group urged him to clarify his position.

"I believe that Israel is one of our most important friends in the world. And the views that I hold have many adherents in Israel today," Paul was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

Although a longshot to win the Republican presidential race, Paul is a leading contender for next Tuesday's Republican caucus vote in Iowa - the first nominating contest in the nation.

But his record on Israel has raised concerns among U.S. Jewish organizations. The Republican Jewish Coalition declined to invite him to its December 7 candidates forum, citing what it called his extreme views after a November debate in which Paul said Washington should be less involved in Israeli affairs.

"They can take care of themselves," Paul, who has called for reduced U.S. foreign aid generally, said at the time. "Why do we have this automatic commitment that we're going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?" See Chick's LOVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

Demented Christian H.S. Teacher Arrested for Exposure in Class

The Schamburg Christian High School teacher accused by students of touching himself inappropriately during class denied those allegations Wednesday, and his attorneys say statements he reportedly made to police that contradict that plea were a product of his struggles with dementia.

Paul A. LaDuke, 75, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of felony exploitation of a child Wednesday, ABC 7 Chicago reports.

LaDuke was fired from the school on Nov. 11, the same day students complained about his behavior. Police say Laduke confessed to "masturbating while fantasizing about various students for the past 10 years," and investigators believe this incident was not isolated.

Irv Seidler, an attorney representing LaDuke, attributed the former teacher's admissions to his ongoing struggle with dementia, and noted that no additional charges have been filed for previous incidents, he told CBS Chicago. LaDuke had been a teacher at the Schamburg school for 26 years.

LaDuke is out on bond and has been ordered to avoid contact with minors, his victims and their families, the Daily Herald reports. He is next scheduled to appear in court Jan. 26, and faces one to three years in jail if found guilty of felony exploitation. See Chick's LISA.

Black Muslim Woman Shot by Police During Attack

An Atlanta woman who allegedly mailed threats to lawmakers was shot and killed by police during an altercation on Christmas Day.

Jameela Barnette, 53, was indicted earlier this year for her supposed involvement in the sending of malicious packages to two New York lawmakers.

Barnette was accused of mailing a pig's foot to the office of Rep. Peter King (R) in April. A note included in the package read "Kiss my black Muslim ass," and referred to King as a "Jew," even though he is Catholic. The incident came in the wake of King's hearings on Muslim "radicalization."

Barnette was also indicted for allegedly sending a fake weapon of mass destruction to the office of New York State Sen. Greg Ball in the form of a bottled liquid labeled "Zyklon B." The substance was eventually identified as perfume oil. The package also included a screed against Jews and Christians and a stuffed toy monkey with Stars of David fastened to it.

Barnette pleaded not guilty to both charges in November in a U.S. District Court in Atlanta, and was later released on $20,000 bond on the condition that she send no more threatening messages and undergo a psychiatric evaluation, Georgia's WSBTV reports. According to CNN, a woman claiming to be Barnette had earlier told New York's WXXA that "she was a grandmother and a Muslim upset with Ball for holding hearings earlier this year on New York City's vulnerability to terrorism."

On Sunday, Cobb County police responded to multiple panic alarms activated at Barnette's residence.

A statement from the Cobb County police claimed that an aggressive Barnette met the responding officer.

"Moments after knocking on the door, a female (who was armed with a knife and handgun) opened it and began assaulting the officer with the weapons," the statement read. "Despite receiving injuries to his arm, the officer was able to use his service weapon to stop the assault."

Barnette died at the scene, while the injured officer was treated on site and released. He has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident. See Chick's SKYLIGHTER.

Ice Church Opens in Germany

A church built entirely of ice and snow has opened in Bavaria – a century after villagers first built a snow church in an act of protest.

The church at Mitterfirmiansreut, near the Czech border, is more than 20 meters (65 feet) in length and boasts a tower. It's made up of some 1,400 cubic meters (49,000 cubic feet) of snow.

The structure was bathed in blue light as it opened Wednesday evening with a blessing from Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser.

But when the ancestors of today's villagers built the first snow church in 1911, they weren't thinking just of architectural achievement.

Steinbeisser says: "It was meant as an act of provocation – believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn't have a church here."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catholic School Official Busted for Filming Boys

Patrick Lott, Bernardsville Middle School assistant principal, has been arrested for allegedly recording boys showering at Immaculata High School in Somerset County, N.J., where he was a volunteer, the New Jersey Journal reports.

Lott was arrested last week after authorities used a Superior Court search warrant to find videos of the nude teenagers in his home.

Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano told the Journal that nine of the boys videotaped were under 16 years old. According to the report, authorities have notified a total of 22 victims.

Based on the results of the search warrant, CBS New York reports the videos were recorded over a span of nearly three years, beginning in 2008.

A high-ranking and respected educator at the middle school and in the community, Lott recently ran for the Somerville Borough Council on the Republican ticket, NBC New York Reports. His bid was unsuccessful.

Lott now faces charges including child endangerment. He is currently being held in the Somerset County Jail on $500,000 bail. See Chick's ALBERTO comic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Maher Attacks Tebow's Religion

Twitter continues to swell with a flood of complaints against comedian Bill Maher in response to a particularly scathing Tweet the outspoken television host made about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow during Christmas Eve's Broncos-Bills showdown, NBC Sports reports.

Tebow had just thrown his fourth interception of the game (the Broncos eventually lost 14-41) when Bill Maher Tweeted to his roughly 872,000 followers:

Bill Maher ✔@billmaher Wow, Jesus just fucked #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler "Hey, Buffalo's killing them"
24 Dec 11 ReplyRetweetFavorite
Choosing not to respond to the crack, or perhaps unaware of it, Tebow's post-game Tweet made no mention of Maher:

Tim Tebow ✔@TimTebow Tough game today but what's most important is being able to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas everyone GB²
24 Dec 11 ReplyRetweetFavorite
Others however decided to take Maher head-on. The Tweet spurred a huge reaction on Twitter from the many conservatives and Tebow fans who were outraged by Maher. Eric Bolling of Fox News shot back at Maher with the Tweet:

ericbolling ✔@ericbolling Bill Maher is disgusting vile trash. I can't even repeat what he just tweeted about Tebow..on Christam Eve. #straighttohellBill
24 Dec 11 ReplyRetweetFavorite
Some fans are even calling to boycott Maher by canceling their subscriptions to HBO, the channel which airs Maher's show "Real Time with Bill Maher," Fox News reports.

It remains to be seen whether the Maher backlash will stem the recent tide of Tebow-lampooning, which often pokes fun at the quarterback's religious ardor. Tebow has been vocal about his Christian values, famously starring in a controversial pro-life Superbowl commercial while he was still in college. Upon entering the NFL, his in-game ritual of kneeling on the field and praying to God inspired the popular Internet meme "Tebowing." The past few months have seen both a sketch on Saturday Night Live and an article in The Onion.

Will Maher reprise his controversial tweet during next week's Broncos game? Either way he plays it, and whether the Broncos win or lose, they'll still win the AFC West title and earn the No. 4 seed. See Chick's HOLY JOE.

Former SNL Writer And Activist Kills Self

Former "Saturday Night Live" writer Joe Bodolai has died in an apparent suicide. His body was found in a Los Angeles hotel room by a cleaning crew, with a mix of anti-freeze and Gatorade nearby.

Bodolai, a writer on "SNL" for the 1981-1982 season and a producer on the Canadian hit sketch show "Kids in the Hall," kept a blog called "Say It Ain't So, Joe," where he posted a long final note on December 23rd. In his short section of "Things I Regret," he included, "My inability to conquer my alcoholism" and "That I am no longer able to withstand any more of life's pain."

His suicide post also claims he was proud of his two grown sons ("graceful, intelligent, strong, handsome, creative and loving young men"), and his wife Bianca ("If there is a loving god, she was my blessing"). Bodolai also listed his liberal activism as an achievement, including resistance to the Vietnam War and campaigning for Robert Kennedy. See Chick's NO FEAR.

Professionally, he was most proud

Former SNL Attacks Pro-Muslim PC Power

Former "Saturday Night Live" actress Victoria Jackson, working on confidential information she as a web talk show host has special clearance to obtain, has claimed that the United States is being overtaken by radical Muslims bent on bringing the nation under Sharia law.

"I just went to a briefing in Washington DC, across the street from the Capitol, at the Longworth building at 8:30 am two days ago and it changed my life," Jackson said last week on her web show, "Politichicks." "For six hours, I saw pictures and names and dates and facts and Islamic law books and Korans, Surahs for six hours and they proved to me... that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our highest positions in government and this is serious."

Jackson also detailed the meeting in an earlier blog post this December. In that post, she details testimony given by John Guandolo, a former FBI agent who worked on the case against former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson. Guandolo resigned from the FBI in 2008 after he was caught trying to score a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group from a wealthy Jefferson case witness with whom he was having an affair. Guandolo now gives speeches on the existential threat of Islam, claiming that Muslim groups are using political correctness and political insurgency to stop FBI and police officers from stopping their spread of Sharia law.

The actress-turned-pundit also reported testimony from Maj. Stephen Coughlin, who in 2008 was effectively fired from his post at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because, many conservatives believe, he was a staunch anti-Islamic extremist advocate. Wired reports that his contract was not renewed after a staffer for Gordon England, then the deputy secretary of defense, raised questions about his work. Last January, Coughlin gave a maligned speech during an FBI presentation on Muslim extremism.

Claiming that it was strongly hinted that President Obama was a Muslim -- his policies all favor Muslims and are against Israel, she claims to have been told -- Jackson says in the video that the ultimatum pushed by terrorist groups in America is "You have to convert or be killed."

While she says that the meeting forever changed her, Jackson has already long claimed that Muslims -- led by secret Muslim and terrorist sympathizer President Obama -- are quietly taking over the United States government. She also has famously taken umbrage with gays and "Glee," including a highly publicized string of attacks last March.

"This new al-Qaida magazine for women has beauty tips and suicide-bomber tips! Gimme a break!" she wrote in a blog post for World Net Daily. "That is as ridiculous as two men kissing on the mouth! And I don't care what is politically correct. Everyone knows that two men on a wedding cake is a comedy skit, not an 'alternate lifestyle'! There I said it! Ridiculous!"

This fall, Jackson visited the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park to challenge protestors, though it did not work out so well for her.

"Michelle [sic] Bachmann and Rick Santorum are the only GOP candidates so far to acknowledge the above facts and warn against the present threat of Islamic Law replacing our Constitution," Jackson concluded in her blog post on the ex-FBI briefing. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Less Births, More Lesbian Sex Linked?

A new analysis of the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) has revealed some surprising shifts in the sexual activity of teenage girls over the past decade, including a significant spike among those who claim to have had same-sex contact.

A comparison of 2002 NSFG data to figures from 2006-2008 showed that 11 percent of 17-year-old girls in the latter pool had engaged in contact with other girls, compared with just five percent in 2002. Furthermore, those same girls also claim to have been significantly less heterosexually active, at just 46 percent in 2006-2008, whereas the 2002 survey found 63 percent of girls in the same age group had been active.

The decrease in heterosexual activity could, at least in part, account for another one of the survey's findings: a slight drop (18 percent to 12 percent) in the number of 17-year-girls who have been pregnant. "Factors that may account for this drop include our findings that more were waiting until later in adolescence to become heterosexually involved, more were using emergency contraception if they were heterosexually active, and perhaps even that more were engaging in same-sex behavior," Dr. Nanette Gartrell, NSFG lead author, is quoted as saying by the Windy City Times. "It will be interesting to see if the next cycle of NSFG data collection reveals whether these changes are a long-term trend."

The findings were published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, in a letter to the editor titled "New Trends in Same-Sex Contact for American Adolescents?" You can read the full analysis here.

The new analysis follows an October study conducted by Boise State University, which found that 60 percent of women who identify themselves as heterosexual have been sexually attracted to other women, while 50 percent confessed to having had same-sex fantasies. "Women are encouraged to be emotionally close to each other," Boise State University professor Elizabeth Morgan told LGBT Weekly at the time. "That provides an opportunity for intimacy and romantic feelings to develop." See Chick's THE GAY BLADE.

Mom Offers 8-Year-Old For Sex

It's hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you hear a mother in your community allegedly offered up her 8-year-old daughter for prostitution, but that's exactly what concerned citizens along Florida's Emerald Coast are trying to do.

"We have received a lot of phone calls from people asking how they can help the child -- how can they make sure she has a nice Christmas," Panama City Police Sgt. Jeff Becker told The Huffington Post.

The little girl, who is not being identified due to her age, is the daughter of 33-year-old Sue Ellen Mims. On Wednesday, authorities arrested Mims and charged her with one count of selling a minor for prostitution.

According to Becker, Mims was at a Panama City business when she approached a random male stranger and offered her daughter to him for $100. Mims allegedly told the man her daughter "would do anything the male wanted and would not tell anyone about it," police said.

The man, who has not been identified, immediately reported the incident to police.

"In the 12 years I have been here -- and I was a detective for some of those years -- I cannot recollect a case where someone has tried to sell their child," Becker said.

"We are continuing to investigate [the case] because if she has done it once [she may have] done it previously," he added.

The Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl, who police say had only the clothes on her back. The Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center -- an organization that provides necessary services for child abuse cases -- has been assisting.

"It just breaks your heart that this happens to little children," said Renee Willoughby, executive board president of the advocacy center. "Everyone is horrified that this happened in our community, but, unfortunately, it is something that happens somewhere every day. It is just beyond words."

The Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center is accepting donations of clothing (the little girl wears size 7 or 8), along with toys, blankets and other items. Willoughby said concerned community members are already reaching out.

"People want to help this girl in any way possible, especially with it being the Christmas season," she added.

Becker said that citizens have also contacted the police department to ask about donating items to the little girl.

"People do care, and it is a nice time of year for them to show they care," he said.

Anyone interested in donating an item for the little girl can send it to the Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center, 210 East Eleventh Street, Panama City, FL 32401. Monetary donations for the girl and/or the agency itself, which helps countless victims every year, can be made via their web site. See Chick's THE OUTCAST.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Transexual 7 Year Old Joins Girl Scouts, Parents Pull Out

A Colorado-based Girl Scouts troop's decision to admit a 7-year-old transgender child this fall has prompted three leaders to resign and dissolve their troops.

As The Christian Post is reporting, all three of the troop leaders were affiliated with the Northlake Christian School in Covington, Louisiana.

Susan Bryant-Snure, one of the leaders who resigned, told The Baptist Press that the Girl Scouts' action is "extremely confusing" and an "almost dangerous situation" for children. "This goes against what we [Northlake Christian School] believe," said Bryant-Snure, who has three daughters among the 25 girls who had been active scouts there.

The controversy began when Felisha Archuleta protested against a Denver troop's decision to not initially allow her transgender daughter, Bobby Montoya, to join the group. "I believe he was born in the wrong body," Archuleta, who also confessed to having difficulty switching from male to female pronouns when discussing her child, told ABC. "But the Girl Scout leader told us he can't join because he has 'boy parts.'... But no one would know he's a boy unless they pulled his pants down."

The Girl Scouts of Colorado subsequently released a statement through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in support of Archuleta and her excluded daughter, noting, "If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout."

Added Rachelle Trujillo, vice president for communications of the Colorado Girl Scouts: "If a child is living as a girl, that's good enough for us. We don't require any proof of gender."

Bryant-Snure and her fellow leaders are now expected to align themselves with the American Heritage Girls, a Christian organization that was founded in 1995 in response to the Girl Scouts' decision to let scouts use a word other than "God" in their pledge, according to She Wired. See Chick's THE TRIAL.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pope Reaches Out to Leftists on "World Peace Day"

VATICAN CITY- Noting a "rising sense of frustration" at the worldwide economic recession, Pope Benedict XVI said that a more just and peaceful world requires "adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth." He didn't mention that the money should be earned or worked for, but just "redistributed". He also didn't specify if the churches should redistribute the money, or if the government should. (The Vatican has one of the largest bank accounts and land ownership of any organized religion.)

The pope's words appeared in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012, released on Friday (Dec. 16) at the Vatican.

The message laments that "some currents of modern culture, built upon rationalist and individualist economic principles, have cut off the concept of justice from its transcendent roots, detaching it from charity and solidarity."

Authentic education, Benedict writes, teaches the proper use of freedom with "respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one's own."

Peace-making requires education not only in the values of compassion and solidarity, but in the importance of wealth redistribution, the "promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution," Benedict writes.

The pope also calls on political leaders to "ensure that no one is ever denied access to education." It is unclear, but it sounds like he is referring to publicly funded education, rather than just access. Most countries (except Islamic nations that deny women access) provide equal access to anyone for education if they pay for it, but many activists want that education paid for by others as well.

The message was presented on Friday by officials of the Vatican's Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace. The same body published a controversial document in October blaming the world's economic and financial crisis on an "economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls," and calling for global regulation of the financial industry and the international money supply. See Chick's FAT CATS.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elizabeth Smart, who was raped repeatedly while held captive for nine months when she was 14, made a rare public appearance to tell her story of survival.

Now 24 years old and a commentator for ABC News, Smart told a Salt Lake City audience the harrowing details about the night Brian David Mitchell abducted her at knifepoint from her childhood home in Utah and the subsequent months of torture as his sex prisoner.

"I started talking to him I started begging him to let me go," Smart told the Salt Lake City Rotary Club on Tuesday, KTVX reports. "He just laughed at me."

Mitchell -- a mentally deranged homeless person who talked to himself and told others he was a Mormon preacher -- performed a hasty wedding ceremony with Smart, according to ABC News.

"He went straight from marrying me to raping me," said Smart as she occasionally cried before the audience. "And after that moment I couldn't feel more worthless and more degraded. It was the worse feeling I could have ever felt."

To keep her from escaping his dungeon, Mitchell bound Smart with a cable wrapped between her legs. Mitchell often raped her several times a day and forced her to consume alcohol and drugs.

In May, a federal judge gave Mitchell a life sentence. His wife Wanda Barzee is serving 15 years in a federal prison hospital for her role in the kidnapping.

In addition to her periodic work covering missing persons cases for ABC, Smart has a charity called the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. Her speaking engagement on Tuesday was an opportunity to promote the group and RadKIDS, an organization that teaches children and parents about safety, especially when dealing with strangers. See Chick's LISA.

Christian Murdered, Asked Killer To Pray With Her

A witness testifying in the murder trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. has made a startling claim about the victim's last moments.

Raleigh local station WRAL reports that Jayson McNeil testified Lovette told him that University of North Carolina student Eve Carson asked him to pray with her before she was murdered.

"Before (Lovette) even shot her, he explained, she was saying, 'Let's pray,'" McNeil said, according to WRAL. "She wanted them to pray together."

In March 2008, prosecutors say that Lovette and Demario Atwater kidnapped Carson, drove her to various ATMs to withdraw money and then shot her five times, killing the former student body president, according to WRAL.

Atwater pleaded guilty last year to crimes connected to the killing and is currently serving two life sentences.

ABC reports that Carson's body was found in the middle of a Chapel Hill street the same day she was murdered.

Lovette is also accused of killing Abhijit Mahato, a Duke University student whose body was found in his apartment, according to CBS News. A judge has ruled that evidence from that case can be used in the Carson trial, according to the Herald Sun.

See Chick's THE THIEF.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Home Invaders Religious?

Police investigating a Mississippi home invasion have broken up what they say is a paramilitary group that trained its members in "hand to hand combat skills, paramilitary training and scriptures."

Officers with the Gautier Police department were already familiar with the self-styled vigilante group, dubbed "The Savior Unit" or "Tactical Search Unit," when they took a call about a home invasion and kidnapping on Dec. 6.

Minutes after receiving the alert, police apprehended the group's alleged "commander," 32-year-old Michael Shaun Schaffran, and its "captain," 18-year-old Cody Jacob Rogers. The pair are accused of kicking in the door of a residence while wearing bullet-proof vests and military clothing, dragging out three victims including a 70-year-old man, and assaulting them, according to police press release published on the department's Facebook page.

Shaffran and Rogers were each hit with three charges of kidnapping and burglary of an occupied residence.

Officers became aware of "The Savior Unit" as they investigated a recent surge in burglaries in south Gautier, though the group has not been formally linked to the crimes, police told The Sun Herald.

The two suspects are believed to have lead a group of four teens. They allegedly trained them in combat skills and religion in a wooded area for the past six weeks.

An operation manual recovered by police describes the group as more of a community service organization than a criminal organization, at least according to an excerpt published by The Mississippi Press:

T.S.U. is a tactical search team that is faith based. Our purpose is to promote Christ. Obtain offenders who are a danger to society, do community service work for churches and halfway houses, and do security for different functions. Our training is a recon and infiltration, apprehension and retrieval. All team members are taught hand to hand combat skills, para military training and scriptures. [SIC]

Local investigators have reportedly contacted the FBI to determine whether the group is a larger threat.

"You can use your imagination and speculate where was this headed, what could have happened, what might have happened," Gautier Police Captain Kenny McMellon told The Mississippi Press.

But Schaffran's wife, Tisha Schaffran, told The Hattiesburg American that her husband was merely helping neighborhood youth.

"He's not this monster they're making him out to be," she told the paper.

Tisha Schaffran says her husband -- who has previous convictions for theft, aggravated assault and forgery-- might have entered the residence. But he wouldn't have gone there to harm anyone.

"It's just a bunch of kids, mostly," she said. "It was just to get together and give them something to do other than get in trouble. They would have exercises out in the yard in the woods on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes they go out into the woods. It might have been military style, but it wasn't like they were trying to be the military or the police, either." See Chick's HOLY JOE.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Bible Teacher Arrested for Sex with her Student

Police in Louisiana arrested a 28-year-old woman who they say had sex with a young teenage boy on multiple occasions after meeting at a summer Bible camp.

Heath Daughdrill, of Westlake, is accused of initiating the relationship while acting as a teacher and aide at a June religious retreat. She allegedly continued seeing the 13-year-old boy until her arrest in October, according to a press release from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Department.

"The investigation revealed Daughdrill would engage in inappropriate sexual contact with the boy after picking him up from school without the parents' knowledge," the press release explains.

Authorities also say that they discovered "explicit text messages" between Daughdrill and the boy, whose identity remains anonymous.

Following her Nov. 28 arrest, Daughdrill now faces 17 criminal charges including sexual battery, carnal knowledge of a juvenile, kidnapping, indecent behavior with a juvenile and contributing to delinquency. Her bond in Calcasiue Parish is set at $47,000.

The following video uncovered by the HoustonPress shows Daughdrill promoting a Lake Charles arts event two years ago.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

ADL Demands Sarandon Take Back Nazi Quip

The Anti-Defamation League is demanding an apology from Susan Sarandon for calling Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi" at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor Saturday during a Hamptons International Film Festival event.

Sarandon, being interviewed by Bob Balaban on the Bay Street stage in front of an audience for the festival's "A Conversation With" series, was discussing "Dead Man Walking." She starred as Sister Helen Prejean, who penned the book the film is based on, and won an Academy Award.

"She gave a copy of the film to the pope," Sarandon said of Sister Helen. "The last one, not this Nazi one, the one before." The audience broke out in laughter at the shock of how candidly Sarandon spoke, then clapped.

"It's a shame you're so afraid to say what you really think," Balaban joked.

"He was a Nazi Youth, I'm not talking, or making it up," Sarandon replied.

She did, however, get the name of the group wrong: Benedict XVI was a member of the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary Nazi group, but membership was mandatory for German teens during the Nazi regime.

She quickly got back on topic: "She showed the pope that his lack of being clear was being used to rationalize the death penalty and after that he issued a statement that was much more definitive before he died."

The ADL, citing news reports that quoted Sarandon, called on her to apologize to Catholics and others she may have offended.

"We hope that Susan Sarandon will have the good sense to apologize to the Catholic community and all those she may have offended with this disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for attack on the good name of Pope Benedict XVI," National Director Abraham H. Foxman was quoted as saying in an ADL statement. "Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies. Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust."

The Catholic League also put out a statement condemning Sarandon's words.

President Bill Donohue said she was being willfully ignorant of the fact that Pope Benedict, then called Joseph Ratzinger, was conscripted through no fault of his own. "Unlike most of the other teenagers, Ratzinger refused to go to meetings, bringing economic hardship to his family," Donohue said. "Moreover, unlike most of the others, he deserted at the first opportunity."

"Sarandon’s comment is obscene," Donohue added. "Sadly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from her."

Sarandon has yet to offer a public response to the criticism. See Chick's HOLOCAUST.

Pro Israel Ad Removed to Appease Liberal US Jews

Israel's prime minister suspended a television ad campaign aimed at luring home Israelis living in North America after it sparked an uproar among American Jews, his spokesman said Sunday.

The government-sponsored advertisements, which were broadcast on Israeli TV and in large American markets, tried to warn Israelis that their children could lose their Israeli and Jewish identities if they were raised in the United States and not in Israel. That set off virulent opposition among American Jews, who complained that the commercials were demeaning to their Jewish identity.

The campaign touched on the sensitive relations between Israeli and American Jews, and the growing rift between them. Israel depends heavily on the political and financial support of American Jews, but the two sides are often at odds regarding politics and religion.

Israel's Orthodox-run rabbinate, for instance, doesn't always recognize marriages and conversions performed by Conservative and Reform rabbis abroad. And American Jews, who are largely politically liberal, are often ill at ease with hawkish Israeli policies and legislation.

In one of the advertisements, Israeli grandparents sit in front of the traditional Hanukkah candelabra while speaking to their granddaughter on Skype. When they ask the child to name the holiday they're celebrating, she says "Christmas."

In another, a napping father can't hear his son's calls of "daddy" and only stirs awake when he hears the word "abba" – Hebrew for father. A third, shows an emotional Israeli woman marking Israel's Memorial Day and her non-Israeli partner unable to relate. The adds are all capped by the slogan: "They will remain Israeli, their children won't. Help them come home."

Israel's embassy in Washington and consulates in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco were inundated with protests from offended American Jews. The Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups condemned the ads.

Abraham Foxman, the national director for the Anti-Defamation League, called the ads "unsubtle, crude and heavy-handed."

Faced with an uproar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly reversed course and suspended the ads Friday.

"We are obviously very sensitive to concerns raised by the American Jewish community and the minute we understood that Jewish Americans saw a problem, the prime minister immediately acted and suspended the program," said Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev.

It's not the first time an Israeli government project has upset Jewish Americans.

In 2009, it yanked an ad campaign against Jewish assimilation after it outraged Jews abroad who saw the campaign as an attack on intermarriage – the common phenomenon of Jews marrying non-Jews.

Statistics show that in the U.S. – home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel – about half the marriages of Jews over the past 25 years have been mixed.

Jewish leaders have long warned that the Diaspora's identity is eroding as more Jews marry out of faith and blend into the non-Jewish mainstream. Meanwhile, Israel has established its own, unique persona, foreign to that of Jews overseas.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have settled in the United States for financial and professional advancement. See Chick's LOVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

Priest Robbed in Church

A veteran Chicago priest was beaten and robbed inside the Far South Side church where he has served as a pastor since 1977.

Rev. Daniel Mallette, pastor emeritus at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, located in the 9800 block of South Throop Street, awoke around 12:30 a.m. in the church's rectory to two male intruders standing over him, demanding he give them money, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The intruders proceeded to beat and rob the Rev. Mallette, 80, when he apparently did not move fast enough to their liking.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a close friend of Mallette's and long-time parishioner at the church, described the incident as "a very vicious attack. ... It just reinforces to you that we have evil in our society," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Mallette was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for treatment after he sustained broken ribs and a swollen face. NBC Chicago reports he was treated and released.

Mallette's church is well known for its diverse congregation, according to ABC Chicago. The pastor has also been recognized for his work addressing poverty and racial injustice in the community.

No arrests have been made. See Chick's THE THIEF.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Obama Ties Foreign Aid to Support of Gays

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that the United States would use all the tools of American diplomacy, including the potent enticement of foreign aid, to promote gay rights around the world.

In a memorandum issued by President Obama in Washington and in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton here, the administration vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations to discourage homosexual conduct, discriminate against them, or ignore abuse against them.

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Mrs. Clinton said at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, “but in fact they are one and the same.”

Neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton specified how to give the initiative teeth. Caitlin Hayden, the National Security Council’s deputy spokeswoman, said the administration was “not cutting or tying” foreign aid to changes in other nation’s practices.

With campaigning already under way in the 2012 presidential contest, Mr. Obama’s announcement should bolster support and campaign contributions among gay voters and donors, who have questioned the depth of his commitment. He chose the Rev. Rick Warren, a pastor who opposes same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Mr. Obama himself has not come out officially in favor of same-sex marriage. But he successfully pushed for repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented gays from serving openly in the military. And the Justice Department has said it will no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The initiative also invites attacks from Republicans trying to appeal to a voters in the primary and caucus states.

One Republican candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, said: “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”

It could also irritate some American allies, including countries like Turkey, where there have been reports of harassment, and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is banned and sex between people of the same sex is punishable by death or flogging. Homosexuality is disdained by most the world's religions, and embracing it can alienate many religious nations, as well as be seen as another example of the West's cultural decadence.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides so worried about the reaction of some countries at the Human Rights Council that they did not advertise the theme of her remarks before she delivered them. In the end, no representatives from the council’s 47 member nations walked out.

The administration’s announcement formalizes several steps that Mrs. Clinton has already ordered. She has asked American diplomats to raise the issue wherever harassment or abuse arises and required a record of them in the State Department’s annual report on human rights. On Tuesday, she also announced a $3 million US taxpayer paid program to finance foreign gay-rights organizations to combat what they consider discrimination.

A senior administration official said that the money could be used, for example, to finance a lawyers’ group that is defending gays or to pay for the training of journalists who cover the persecution of gays. It could also provide relocation aid to refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

In Afghanistan, where the United States overthrew the Taliban in 2001 and installed a nominally democratic government, the law “criminalizes homosexual activity.” In Pakistan, too, it is a crime, though rarely prosecuted, the report said.

Homosexuality is accepted in most of Europe, and an increasing number of countries have taken steps to end legal prohibitions. In China, the government decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from an official list of psychological disorders in 2001. Mrs. Clinton credited South Africa, Colombia, Argentina, Nepal and Mongolia for taking steps to liberalize their laws.

In countries where gays are discriminated against, she called on leaders to leap ahead of their constituents cultural or social mores, if necessary. See Chick's THE GAY BLADE.

Monday, December 05, 2011

KY Church Reverses Ban on Bi-racial Membership

Two weeks ago, Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky, voted 9-6 to ban couples in interracial marriages from attending or participating in the church.

But on Sunday, the small church reversed its course.

Pastor Stacy Stepp told CNN affiliate WLEX on Sunday that the church voted unanimously to "accept all people regardless of race, creed, or color and to accept everyone into the fellowship of Christ."

"I tried everything in my power to try to resolve the matter before it got to where it did," Stepp told WLEX.

The problem began in June when Stella Harville, who grew up going to the church, brought her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, who is black, to the small church, where on average about 40 people meet for Sunday worship.

Harville, who goes by the nickname Susie, played the piano, and Chikuni sang a song during the service.

Her father, Dean Harville, a decades-long member of the church, told CNN affiliate WSAZ he was counting the offering when the pastor at the time, Melvin Thompson, came up to him and said, "Susie and her boyfriend are not allowed to sing in this church anymore."

"It's racist, that's all you can call it," Harville told WSAZ. "I treat him like he's my own son. You won't find a nicer person," he said about his daughter's fiance, who is originally from Zimbabwe.

Stella Harville told CNN's Erin Burnett on Friday, before the church reversed the policy, "I still don't know how to process all this."

Harville grew up in the church but left Pike County to attend college. She told CNN she had known all nine church members who voted to ban interracial couples "since I was a little kid."

The ban led to a massive controversy.

The National Association of Free Will Baptists in Tennessee released a lengthy statement condemning the church policy.

"The National Association of Free Will Baptists does not have an official policy regarding interracial couples because it has not been an issue in the denomination. The Free Will Baptist Treatise neither condemns nor disallows marriage between a man and woman of different races," the statement read in part.

"Free Will Baptists have historically championed the rights and dignity of all people, regardless of race," it continued. It said that national and state officials from the denomination were working with the local church to overturn the policy.

On Saturday, the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists, the regional body of the denomination, released a statement saying the church policy was "Null and Void," because the vote was not held in accordance with proper parliamentary procedure.

"Furthermore, Pastor Stepp has advised the conference that he and his church will hold a vote of solidarity for the purpose of welcoming believers into their fellowship regardless of race, creed or color. The Sandy Valley Conference will continue to work with the Gulnare Church to rebuild what has been damaged by this tragic error," the statement continued.

“We will be working with the church if they accept our help,” Keith Burden, the executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, told CNN on Monday.

Burden said churches within the denomination govern themselves autonomously and the national denomination cannot impose rules or sanctions on the church, but can only remove a church from the national group.

Burden said he spoke with Stepp before the vote on Sunday and told him the denomination would provide educational materials to “better equip their leaders.” He also encouraged Stepp to take the corrective measures that the church eventually did, with the new vote on Sunday.

“We are genuinely sorrowful and repentant for what happened,” Burden said. “We hope to continue to work to try to prevent this from ever happening again.” See Chick's THE CRUSADERS.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bachmann Promises to Reverse Judicial Activism in Iowa

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann would turn back the clock on gay marriage in Iowa if she was elected - because that's what the people of Iowa want, she said.

The Minnesota congresswoman appeared on FOX News Sunday and said that Iowa's ruling to overturn a ban on gay marriage did not reflect the will of voters:

"Marriage, historically, for all human history has been between a man and a woman. It hasn't been the same-sex marriage. And remember that in Iowa, it was judges that made the decision -- not the legislature, which are the people's representatives, and certainly, not the people. That's why the people of Iowa threw out three of those Supreme Court judges. That's something that should give pause to all judges. The people of Iowa are sick and tired of the judges tell them what their laws are. They are not a super legislator. They are judges. And they need to act like judges. As president of the United States, I will only appoint judges that will apply the strict construction or the original intent of the Constitution of the United States."

Last year Iowa voters ousted three of the seven state Supreme Court justices who unanimously decided that an Iowa law restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated the state's constitution. (Only three were on the ballot, the other four get there turn in 2012.) The unprecedented move followed a nearly three-month long campaign waged by activists angry over gay marriage being legalized from the bench and beyond the ballot box or legislature of Iowa.

Bachmann has previously criticized the Iowa judges as "black robed masters" and praised voters for getting rid of them.

"You said enough is enough and sent them packing, and I'm very proud of what you’ve done," she told a Des Moines group of home school advocates in March. "It’s very rare that a judge does not go back to office."

Bachmann's opposition to gay marriage got her into a heated exchange with Iowa high school students last week, when she claimed that gay people have the same civil rights as all Americans.

"They can get married," Bachmann said. "But they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they're a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they're a man." See Chick's THE GAY BLADE.

Islamic Parties Winning in Egypt

Islamists appear to have taken a strong majority of seats in the first round of Egypt's first parliamentary vote since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a trend that if confirmed would give religious parties a popular mandate in the struggle to win control from the ruling military and ultimately reshape a key U.S. ally.

Final results, expected Friday, will be the clearest indication in decades of Egyptians' true political views and give the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood a major role in the country's first freely elected parliament. An Islamist majority could also herald a greater role for conservative Islam in Egyptian social life and shifts in foreign policy, especially toward Israel and the Palestinians.

The showing in Egypt – long considered a linchpin of regional stability – would be the clearest signal yet that parties and candidates connected to political Islam will emerge as the main beneficiaries of this year's Arab Spring uprisings. Domestically, such a change would be bad news for President Obama. The White House encouraged the demonstrations and overthrow of Egypt's secular government, but the replacement regime could be more like Iran than Iraq.

Tunisia and Morocco have both elected Islamist majorities to parliament, and while Libya has yet to announce dates for its first elections, Islamist groups have emerged as a strong force there since rebels overthrew Moammar Gadhafi in August. They also play a strong opposition role in Yemen.

Judges overseeing the Egyptian vote count said Thursday that near-complete results show the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest and best organized political group, could take as many as 45 percent of the contested seats.

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood wins, parties backed by ultraconservative Salafist Muslims looked poised to take 20 percent, giving Islamist parties a striking majority in the first round of voting in key districts, including Cairo and Alexandria.

Similar results in the remaining rounds would give Islamist parties a majority in parliament, which many believe they will use to steer the long-secular U.S. ally in a more religiously conservative direction.

The Islamist victories came at the expense of a coalition of liberal parties called the Egyptian block, the group most closely linked to the youth activists who launched the anti-Mubarak uprising – and which is expected to win only about 20 percent of seats.

In Egypt, the Brotherhood was officially banned and suppressed for decades, but built a nationwide network of activists who focused on providing services to the poor. After Mubarak's fall, the group campaigned as the Freedom and Justice Party, their organization and the Brotherhood's name-recognition giving them a big advantage over newly formed liberal parties.

The election also provided an opening for the Salafist Muslims whose strict Islamic practice is similar to that in Saudi Arabia. While the Muslim Brotherhood has said it will preserve individual rights, Salafi groups are not shy about their ambition to turn Egypt into a state where women must dress modestly and TV content deemed offensive will be banned.

Critics worry that once in power, the Muslim Brotherhood will band together with its Islamist allies to impose stricter social codes. Many in Egypt's Coptic Christian minority fear they'll face new restrictions on building churches.

The Obama administration has lauded the elections, saying it will cooperate with the victors, no matter what their persuasion.

Israel, which has long considered its peace treaty with Egypt a buffer against regional war, worries Islamists will be less cooperative than Mubarak was. Israel is highly unpopular in most of Egyptian society, and Brotherhood leaders have suggested they'll review Egypt's relationship with the Jewish state. They may also deepen ties to Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.

See Chick's SKY LIGHTER.

Saudi Report Discourages Female Driving

A report given to a high-level advisory group in Saudi Arabia claims that allowing women in the kingdom to drive could encourage premarital sex, a rights activist said Saturday.

The ultraconservative Islamic stance suggests increasing pressure on King Abdullah to retain the kingdom's male-only driving rules despite international criticism.

Rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair said the document by a well-known academic was sent to the all-male Shura Council, which advises the monarchy. The report by Kamal Subhi claims that allowing women to drive will threaten the country's traditions of virgin brides, he said. The suggestion is that driving will allow greater mixing of genders and could promote sex.

Saudi women have staged several protests defying the driving ban. The king has already promised some reforms, including allowing women to vote in municipal elections in 2015.

There was no official criticism or commentary on the scholar's views, and it was unclear whether they were solicited by the Shura Council or submitted independently. But social media sites were flooded with speculation that Saudi's traditional-minded clerics and others will fight hard against social changes suggested by the 87-year-old Abdullah.

Saudi's ruling family, which oversees Islam's holiest sites, draws its legitimacy from the backing of the kingdom's religious establishment, which follows a strict brand of Islam known as Wahhabism. While Abdullah has pushed for some changes on women's rights, he is cautious not to push too hard against the clerics.

In October, Saudi Arabia named a new heir to the throne, Prince Nayef, who is a former interior minister and considered to hold traditionalist views, although he had led crackdowns against suspected Islamic extremists. His selection appeared to embolden the ultraconservative clerics to challenge any sweeping social reforms.

See Chick's MEN OF PEACE.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Bachman Defends Gays Could Marry... Just Not The Same Sex

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says gay people do have the right to get married -- so long as they're planning on tying the knot with a member of the opposite sex.

The Minnesota congresswoman was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday addressing a group of high school students when Jane Schmidt, president of Waverly High School's Gay-Straight Alliance, confronted her on same-sex marriage rights.

(Video of the exchange above, via CNN iReporter Anelia Dimitrova)

Bachmann had just finished explaining that the purpose of government was to ensure that the civil rights of all Americans are protected.

"We all have the same civil rights," Bachmann said, according to the Des Moines Register, providing an opportunity for Schmidt to press her.

"Then, why can't same-sex couples get married?" Schmidt asked.

"They can get married," Bachmann responded. "But they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they're a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they're a man."

Bachmann later went on to clarify her belief that "there are no special rights for people based upon your sex practices. There's no special rights based upon what you do in your sex life."

While Bachmann's comments are unlikely to prove helpful to gay marriage advocates, they are consistent with her record on the broader issue of gay rights.

Bachmann has referred to homosexuality as a condition or disorder. She was also a vocal opponent of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and said earlier this year that she would reinstate the military policy if elected. See Chick's SIN CITY.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Teacher Fired after Living With Young Male Student

A suburban Chicago high school teacher has resigned after school officials found out that she had been living with a male student.

Leonore Ulaszek, 36, was removed from her Hoffman Estates High School classroom in September and submitted her resignation in November, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Ulaszek reportedly began tutoring a minor male student last year, NBC Chicago reports. The tutoring began in the classroom, eventually moving to a restaurant and then at Ulaszek's apartment. When the student's mother discussed plans to move out of the district, Ulaszek allegedly suggested that the student live with her, as to not disrupt his academic progress.

Though Ulaszek was not charged with a crime, Hoffman Estates police told the Tribune they were investigating the incident. The Department of Children and Family Services also investigated the case, and reportedly uncovered "substantiated claims of abuse and neglect." See Chick's HOME ALONE.

Imprisoned Rape Victim Freed if she Marries Rapist

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday pardoned an Afghan woman serving a 12-year prison sentence for having sex out of wedlock after she was raped by a relative.

Karzai's office said in a statement that the woman and her attacker have agreed to marry. That would reverse an earlier decision by the 19-year-old woman, who had previously refused a judge's offer of freedom if she agreed to marry the rapist.

Her plight was highlighted in a documentary that the European Union blocked because it feared the women featured in the film would be in danger if it were shown.

More than 5,000 people recently signed a petition urging Karzai to release the woman. She had the man's child while in prison and raised her daughter behind bars, which is common among women imprisoned in Afghanistan.

A statement released by Karzai's office says that after hearing from judicial officials, the decision was made to forgive the rest of the sentence she received for having sex out of wedlock, a crime in Afghanistan. The presidential statement did not say when the woman was to be released or how much prison time had been pardoned.

The woman told The Associated Press in an interview last month that she had hoped that attention generated by the EU film might help her get released. With the film blocked, she said that she was losing hope and considering marrying her rapist as a way out. She said her attacker was pressuring her to stop giving interviews.

About half of the 300 to 400 women jailed in Afghanistan are imprisoned for so-called "moral crimes" such as sex outside marriage, or running away from their husbands, according to reports by the United Nations and research organizations. Fleeing husbands isn't considered a crime in Afghanistan.

The EU welcomed the woman's release.

"Her case has served to highlight the plight of Afghan women, who 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime often continue to suffer in unimaginable conditions, deprived of even the most basic human rights," the European Union's Ambassador and Special Representative to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, said.

He said the EU hoped the same mercy would be extended to other women serving similar terms. Usackas said he planned to raise the issue of Afghan women's rights at an international conference on Afghanistan Dec. 5 in Bonn, Germany.

Some of the most severe restrictions women faced under the Taliban, like a ban on attending schools and having to have a male escort to venture outside the home, were done away with when the radical Islamic movement was driven from power in 2001. But Afghanistan remains a deeply Islamic and male-dominated society, meaning women are still sold to husbands and rights enshrined in law are often ignored in practice. See Chick's ALLAH HAD NO SON.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Small Church Bans Mixed Marriage, Buck's National Trend

In a move to "promote greater unity" among its body and the Pike County community it serves, a small Kentucky church voted to ban interracial couples from membership and from participating in certain worship activities, reports.

Though reminiscent of some Jim Crow-era mandate, the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church actually made the decision earlier this month, following a visit from 24-year-old Stella Harville, daughter of the church's secretary and clerk, and her 29-year-old fiance, Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe.

According to Harville's father, Dean Harville, Stella brought Chikuni to the church in June where they performed a song for the congregation.

Following the visit, pastor Melvin Thompson told Harville that his daughter and her fiance could not sing at the church again. Thompson later proposed that the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage.

His proposal, which was accepted by a 9-6 vote last week, also suggested that married interracial couples be prohibited from becoming members and used in worship activities, except for funerals.

"It's not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form," said Randy Johnson, president of the Pike County Ministerial Association, according to

While Pike County and the surrounding community come to grips with the church's decision, researchers at Ohio State University and Cornell University say black-white marriages in the United States are soaring, increasing threefold, from 3 percent in 1980 to 10.7 percent in 2008. See Chick's THE CRUSADERS.