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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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

KANO, Nigeria, April 29 - Gunmen killed at least 15 people and wounded many more in an attack on a university theatre being used by Christian worshippers in Nigeria's northern city of Kano on Sunday, a witness said.

It was the latest in a spate of attacks on churches and on Christian holidays in the north of the country, which Nigerian authorities and diplomats believe are part of an attempt to stoke a religious conflict.

Security sources said there was sporadic gunfire in other parts of the city which they believe was from attackers who were fleeing from the army at the university.

"I counted at least 15 dead bodies. I think they were being taken to the Amino Kano teaching hospital," the witness, who did not wish to be identified, said, adding that he saw many more people being treated for injuries.

A security source said at least 15 people were dead and a source at the hospital told Reuters by phone that he had seen 10-15 dead bodies brought in with gunshot wounds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks this year. It mainly targets police and authority figures but has also attacked churches.

The army said it had secured the area but could not say how many people had been killed.

"The attack took place in one of the lecture theatres used as a place of worship by Christians. For sure there are casualties but I can't say how many," Ikedichi Iweha, an army spokesman, told Reuters.

"The elements came, used explosives and guns to attack them. We have repelled them and cordoned off the area," Iweha said.

Red Cross officials said they were trying to get access to the area but there were no details on casualties.


"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," said Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the Bayero University.

"It started at about 0930 (0830 GMT) this morning ... our school security men had to run for their dear lives. You can see smoke all over," Suleiman said.

Clashes between Boko Haram gunmen and security forces have flared up several times in Kano since the sect killed 186 people in January, its deadliest attack so far.

On Easter Sunday, 36 people were killed when a suspected member of Boko Haram attempted to force a car packed with explosives into a church compound during a service in the northern town of Kaduna.

After being stopped by security he turned back and the bomb exploded by a large group of motorbike taxi riders.

Boko Haram set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day last year, including one at a church outside the capital Abuja that killed at least 37 people.

Africa's most populous nation of more than 160 million is split roughly equally between a largely Christian south and a mostly Muslim north.

Suicide car bombers targeted the offices of Nigerian newspaper This Day in the capital Abuja and in Kaduna last week, killing at least four people in coordinated strikes.

This Day is based in southern Nigeria and is broadly supportive of President Goodluck Jonathan's government - the main target of Boko Haram's insurgency. (Additional reporting by Mike Oboh; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Susan Fenton) See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gay Anti-Bullying Campaigner Bullies Christians

Dan Savage offended some Christian teens when he told them "We can learn to ignore the bull---t in the Bible about gay people."

 Savage made his comments during a speech at the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle. After many students walked out of the speech, one of whom appeared to be crying, Savage said, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.”

 Fox News reports that Savage's comments upset the executive director of GOProud, a gay conservative group. "Dan Savage should apologize for his comments and should apologize to the high school students in attendance whom he called ‘pansy-asses,’” Jimmy LaSalvia told Fox. “It is ironic that someone whose claim to fame is fighting bullying would resort to bullying tactics in attacking high school students who were offended by his outrageous remarks.”

Pink News reports that Savage said he was sorry if he hurt anyone, but did not apologize for what he said. See Chick's THE GAY BLADE.

Ex-Security Chief Talks About Israel's Leader

The former head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency has accused the country's political leaders of exaggerating the effectiveness of a possible military attack on Iran, in a striking indication of Israel's turmoil over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. Yuval Diskin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – who have been saber-rattling for months – have their judgment clouded by "messianic feelings" and should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran. Diskin, who headed Shin Bet until last year, said a strike might actually accelerate the Iranian program. Shin Bet addresses security in Israel and the Palestinian Territories only and is not involved in international affairs. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel, like the West, believes that Tehran is developing weapons technology, but there is intense debate over whether international economic sanctions accompanying the current round of negotiations might prevent Iran from developing a bomb, or whether at some point a military strike should be launched. Diskin's comments deepened the sense that a rift is growing between the hawkish Netanyahu government and the security establishment over the question of a strike – and Netanyahu allies quickly rushed to his defense. In Israel, security figures carry clout well into retirement. Although they frequently pursue political careers, Diskin had been seen as relatively apolitical, perhaps lending his words even greater weight. "I don't have faith in the current leadership of Israel to lead us to an event of this magnitude, of war with Iran," Diskin said at a public meeting Friday, video of which was posted on the Internet the next day and quickly became the lead news item in Israel. "I do not believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on Messianic feelings," he continued. "I have seen them up close. They are not messiahs, these two, and they are not the people that I personally trust to lead Israel into such an event." Diskin said it was possible that "one of the results of an Israel attack on Iran could be a dramatic acceleration of the Iran program. ... They will have legitimacy to do it more quickly and in a shorter timeframe." Several members of Netanyahu's coalition issued statements questioning Diskin's motives and suggesting that in effect he had allied himself with Israel's dovish opposition. The prime minister's office called the former Shin Bet chief's remarks "irresponsible," while Barak's office accused Diskin of "acting in a petty and irresponsible way based on personal frustration" and "damaging the tradition of generations of Shin Bet leaders." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also took a swipe at Diskin. "If you do not trust the prime minister and not the defense minister, you should have resigned and not waited for the end of your term," he said. Further complicating the picture is the widely held suspicion that Israel's threats may actually amount to a bluff of historic proportion which has if anything been effective in compelling the world to boycott Iranian oil and isolate its central bank. From that perspective, criticism such as Diskin's, based on a literal approach, could be construed as simplistic and self-defeating. Israeli security officials have taken issue with the political leadership on several issues: whether sanctions will make a strike unnecessary, whether a strike will be militarily effective, and whether Israel should strike unilaterally if it cannot gain American approval. Diskin's speech – in which he also attacked the government for not actively pursuing peace with the Palestinians – came days after the country's current top military commander, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, also seemed to disagree with the country's leadership on the likelihood that Iran will pursue a nuclear weapon. Gantz told The Associated Press this week that Iran is seeking to develop its "military nuclear capability," but that the Islamic Republic would ultimately bow to international pressure and decide against building a weapon. The key to that pressure, he said, were sanctions and the threat of a military strike. One of the first criticisms voiced by a security figure came last summer from Israel's recently retired spy chief, Meir Dagan. He called a strike against Iran's nuclear program "stupid." Dagan, who headed the Mossad spy agency, said an effective attack on Iran would be difficult because Iranian nuclear facilities are scattered and mobile, and warned it could trigger war. Other senior figures with security backgrounds have questioned whether Israel should act alone, as Netanyahu insists the country has a right to do. Last month Shaul Mofaz – a former military chief and defense minister who has since been elected head of the opposition Kadima Party – said the threats of an imminent military strike are actually weakening Israel. Mofaz, who was born in Iran and moved to Israel as a child, said Israel "is not a ghetto" and that despite its military might must fully coordinate with the U.S. on any plan to strike Iran. Dan Halutz, who led the military from 2005 to 2007, also criticized Netanyahu last month for invoking Holocaust imagery in describing the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. "We are not kings of the world," Halutz said. "We should remember who we are." A recent poll suggested the public agrees. The survey, conducted by the Israeli Dahaf agency for the University of Maryland, said 81 percent of Israelis oppose a solo attack on Iran. At the same time, it said two-thirds of Israelis would support military action if coordinated with Washington. The poll, released last week, questioned 500 Israelis and had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. In a recent report the U.N. nuclear agency found Iran continues to enrich uranium – a key step toward developing a bomb. Although few in Israel would dispute that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat, debate has revolved around the cost-benefit analysis of an attack. On the cost side is the possible retaliation, in the form of Iranian missiles as well as rocket attacks by Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas on its northern and southern borders. Especially daunting is the prospect of sustained missile strikes on Tel Aviv, a bustling business and entertainment capital whose populous is psychologically ill-prepared for a homefront war. It also would likely cause oil prices to skyrocket at a time when the global economy is already struggling – risking a new recession for which Israel would absorb much if not most of the blame. Some also fear that Iran might attack American targets in response to any Israeli strike – a scenario that could directly influence the outcome of this fall's U.S. presidential election. See Chick's LOVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

Gay Priest Trial Gets Graphic

A witness testified that a former priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese made him engage in various sexual acts when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.

WARNING: explicit, sexual language below.

The New Civil Rights Movement points to a Reuters report on a now 23-year-old witness who said Edward Avery forced him to perform a striptease. "I was swaying back and forth and took off my clothes," the witness said, according to Reuters.

The testimony came during the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary of the clergy, who is charged with child endangerment and conspiracy. The prosecution claims Lynn tried to cover up abuse accusations made against priests, some of whom were simply transferred to other parishes, Reuters reports. The witness also said Avery told him that "God loves me, this is what God wants, and it was time for me to become a man," according to CNN.

From CNN: The boy, now in his 20s, was in the fifth grade when Avery undressed with him in a small storage room, told him that God loved him, had him engage in oral intercourse and then ejaculated on him. Avery previously pleaded guilty to non-voluntary deviant sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child.

Another witness claimed he was also abused by Avery. "He had a lot of charisma," the witness said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He was very popular with young people."

The Daily Mail previously reported on an internal document that Lynn is accused of hiding, which says a Philadelphia priest joked about how hard it was to have sex with three boys in one week. See Chick's MEN IN BLACK.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Egyptian Muslims Ponder Sex With Dead

Egyptian husbands could soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death, local media is claiming.

 The controversial new law is claimed to be part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament. It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.

Egypt's National Council for Women is reportedly campaigning against the changes, saying that 'marginalising and undermining the status of women would negatively affect the country's human development'.

 Egyptian journalist Amro Abdul Samea reported in the al-Ahram newspaper that Talawi complained about the legislations which are being introduced under 'alleged religious interpretations'.

 The subject of a husband having sex with his dead wife arose in May 2011 when Moroccan cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari said marriage remains valid even after death. He also said that women have the right to have sex with her dead husband, reported. It seems the topic, which has sparked outrage, has now been picked up on by Egypt's politicians.

He said: 'This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni? 'This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?' See Chick's THE WALKING DEAD.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catholic School Fires Teacher for IVF

An Indiana teacher who says she was fired from a Roman Catholic school for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant is suing in a case that could set up a legal showdown over reproductive and religious rights.

Emily Herx's lawsuit accuses the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and St. Vincent de Paul school in Fort Wayne of discrimination for her firing last June. Herx, 31, of Hoagland, Ind., says that the church pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner" and that a scandal would erupt if anyone learned she had undergone in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

The Roman Catholic Church shuns IVF, which involves mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring a resulting embryo into the womb. Herx said she was fired despite exemplary performance reviews in her eight years as a language arts teacher. No mention was made if she was married or not.

Legal experts say Herx's case illustrates a murky area in the debate over separation of church and state that even the U.S. Supreme Court has failed to clearly address. Diocese officials said in a statement issued to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the lawsuit challenges its rights as a religious institution "to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis."

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that religious workers can't sue their employers for job discrimination because anti-discrimination laws allow for a "ministerial exception." But the justices failed to define who was and who wasn't a religious employee.

"The Supreme Court didn't give us a kind of neat little on-off test as to who's a minister and who isn't," said Rick Garnett, associate dean and professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. In a similar case in Ohio, a federal judge last month gave the go-ahead for a trial in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by a parochial school teacher who was fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination, which the church is also against.

The archdiocese fired Christa Dias in 2010, saying the single woman violated church doctrine. U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel said in his March 29 ruling that the ministerial exception did not apply because Dias was a non-Catholic computer teacher with no role in ministering or teaching Catholic doctrine. However, Garnett said he believed the ministerial exception cited by the Supreme Court could be applied to most parochial school teachers. "A lot of Catholic schools, including my own kids', every teacher brings the kids to Mass, is involved in sacramental activities. ... It's not just one teacher who teaches religion, religion is pervasively involved," Garnett said. "The key question is whether it would interfere with the religious institution's religious mission, its religious message, for the government to interfere in the hiring decision."

 Herx's attorney, Kathleen Delaney of Indianapolis, disagreed. "She was not a religion teacher. She was not ordained. She was not required to and didn't have any religion teaching. She wasn't even instructed about the doctrine that she violated," said Delaney, noting the ultimate decision would be up to the courts.

 The school found out that Herx was using IVF because she told them about it when she used sick days for the treatments, according to the lawsuit. School officials didn't indicate until later that there was a problem, the lawsuit says. Delaney would not say if Herx was able to get pregnant using IVF. The diocese said that teachers, even those such as Herx who aren't Catholic, are required by their contracts to abide by Catholic tenets and "serve as moral exemplars."

Pope Benedict XVI as recently as February urged infertile couples not to use in-vitro fertilization or other forms of artificial procreation, which the church views as an affront to human dignity and the dignity of marriage. The church believes that procreation should be limited to marital sex, said Dr. John Haas, director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. Also, clinics routinely fertilize more eggs than are implanted, and extra embryos may be destroyed. The church believes those lives are sacred, Haas said. "To have a child by in vitro almost invariably results in the death of a number of embryos as one works to bring one to term," Haas said Wednesday.

Herx's lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, alleges the diocese violated the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against Herx based on gender and on infertility, which is considered a disability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission upheld Herx's complaint in January. See Chick's THE OUTCAST.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Woman Kills Dwarf with her Crystal Ball

An Oklahoma City woman will serve a life sentence for beating a dwarf to death with a crystal ball. Clara Ann Blocker, 41, pleaded guilty to the murder of Erik Scott Saxton, according to the Oklahoman. Blocker, who is 5 feet 11 inches, also admitted to using a DVD player as her weapon of choice during the Sept. 16, 2010 attack on the 4 feet 5 inch Saxton, KOCO reported.

Blocker originally told detectives that she would never hurt Saxton “because he's a little person,” the Oklahoman wrote. She later admitted that the pair were drinking vodka when they got into an argument. Blocker grabbed a crystal ball and hit Saxton in the head before repeatedly striking him with the entertainment console.

It is unclear what Blocker and Saxton were fighting about, detectives said. Blocker was temporarily homeless when the pair began living together, Blocker said.

A judge in the Cleveland County District Court last Tuesday sentenced Blocker to life with the possibility of parole, News9 reported. See Chick's THE NERVOUS WITCH.

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Israel Jewish Branch Approves Gay Rabbis

The "Conservative" Jewish seminary in Israel says it will allow gays and lesbians to become rabbis, overcoming years of opposition by many of its own leaders and setting up a new point of contention between the movement and Israel's Orthodox establishment.

The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, affiliated with Israel's Conservative Jewish movement, announced it would begin accepting gay and lesbian rabbinical students in Jerusalem this fall. The decision late Thursday ended a rift with the Conservative movement in the U.S., which began accepting gay and lesbian rabbinical students in 2006 and ordained its first openly lesbian rabbi last year.

The move is especially controversial because the Torah condemns homosexuality. Like other branches of Judaism, Conservative Judaism -- a major denomination in the U.S. but a marginal force in Israel -- has faced calls for greater openness toward gays and lesbians, despite biblical prohibitions on homosexual conduct.

The wording of the movement's announcement hinted at the fiery debate that preceded it. "In the Conservative world, there are rabbis who accept ordination of gay and lesbian students as well as those who do not," the statement said. "The decision is the result of a long process that included broad consultation and a search to find a consensus among differing opinions that will allow continued cooperation." Professor Hanan Alexander, chairman of the seminary's board of trustees, said the decision "highlights the institution's commitment to uphold Jewish religious law in a pluralist and changing world."

The Conservative movement interprets Jewish law more strictly than the liberal Reform movement, but its ordination of female rabbis and other nontraditional practices are not accepted by more stringent Orthodox Jews. D'ror Chankin-Gould, 28, a gay student at the American Jewish University, the movement's rabbinical school in Los Angeles, said the decision was "something that we've been dreaming of for years."

 The Reform movement -- the largest Jewish denomination in the U.S. and considered very liberal-- and the much smaller Reconstructionists began ordaining gay and lesbian clergy decades ago. No Orthodox rabbinical institution currently admits gay and lesbian students.

 Israeli law gives exclusive jurisdiction over the ordination of clergy, marriage and divorce to Orthodox rabbis, who generally consider homosexuality an abomination. The Orthodox rabbinate here has strenuously resisted inroads by the liberal streams, refusing to recognize their rulings, conversions or ceremonies as religiously valid. 

The decision to ordain gay and lesbian clergy drew fire from the ultra-Orthodox community. "In my opinion, it's a grave mistake," said Shaar Yeshuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of the northern city of Haifa. "It's a violation of the Bible." See Chick's SIN CITY.

Witch Might Be Beheaded in Saudi Arabia

A Sri Lankan woman could be beheaded for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports that the woman was arrested for allegedly casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl.

In a report filed by The Daily Okaz and cited by Reuters, the girl's father claimed she "suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman."

 Witchcraft is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters. The story comes just one month after the Times of India reported that villagers in Lohardaga, India lynched an elderly woman and man, allegedly for practicing witchcraft.

Last year the Times also reported on a string of elderly women killed in Guwahati, India for performing dark magic. But the killings reported in the Times were not conducted by the government, whereas the woman in Saudi Arabia faces a state-sanctioned death penalty. See Chick's THE NERVOUS WITCH.

First Pregnant "Man" Separates from "Wife"

Thomas Beatie, who gained fame as the world's first known legal man to give birth, has split from his wife of nine years.

Beatie revealed the breakup with Nancy during a taping of the syndicated TV show The Doctors in which he also said he had undergone a final female-to-male gender reassignment surgery.

"Nancy hasn’t seen the new me yet," Beatie, 38, says. "Like all marriages, we have our ups and downs, and we’re going through a rough patch right now. At the moment, we’re separated."

 Beatie was born a woman and legally switched to a male identity, while preserving his female reproductive organs. He made headlines in 2007 after pictures of his bearded face and pregnant belly became public.

Nancy, 49, had two children from a previous marriage but was no longer able to get pregnant following a hysterectomy. The couple have since had two more children. See Chick's WOUNDED CHILDREN.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Catholics Protest Tutu Speech

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is slated to deliver the commencement address next month to Gonzaga University's graduating class in Washington state. A group of alumni, however, are saying he isn't welcome and are urging administrators to withdraw the invitation.

Patrick Kirby, a 1993 Gonzaga graduate, said Tutu is pro-abortion rights, has made offensive statements toward Jews and supports contraception and the ordination of gay clergy and shouldn't be honored by a Catholic institution. Tutu was also a supporter of the communist ANC party, which he helped assume power in South Africa.

The university plans to give Tutu an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at commencement. Kirby, a local attorney, said Tutu's visit violates the U.S. bishop's 2004 policy, "Catholics in Political Life." The policy states that Catholic institutions should not honor those "who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."

Kirby and his wife, Maureen, who is a Gonzaga alumna, launched an online petition lobbying for the university to choose a different commencement speaker. Nearly 700 people worldwide have signed the petition, which was delivered to Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh on Friday (April 13).

"I don't have any realistic expectations that they'll do that (cancel Tutu's invitation). The goal for me is to bring attention to it and hopefully remind administrators at Gonzaga about their Catholic identity and how far they've wandered away from it," Kirby said.

He said Catholic institutions all across the U.S. are choosing popularity over morality by honoring and hiring people who do not represent Catholic values, which he said sends an unclear message to students.

Gonzaga administrators are not commenting on the petition. In a February press release, however, McCulloh said Tutu was "a living exemplar of Gonzaga's historic commitment to the ideals of equality and a free society as a Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic University." See Chick's REV. WONDERFUL.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Secret Service Scandal Revealed

A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct.

A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute a tip received by The Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, the site of the Summit of the Americas.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the Secret Service, told the Post that he had learned that 12 agents were involved, several of them married.

The incident threatened to overshadow Obama's economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment. See Chick's THE OUTCAST.

Dead Priest Trial Continues For Homosexual Child Abuse

An expert on "canon" law angrily called it "obstruction of justice, cubed" for a Roman Catholic archbishop to have shredded a list of 35 active priests accused of molesting children.

Defense lawyers for Monsignor William Lynn say he prepared such a list in 1994 based on secret archives at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and gave it to the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Bevilacqua ordered his top aides to destroy it, according to church documents aired in court.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, an expert on Roman Catholic law, testified at Lynn's child-endangerment trial Thursday. Lynn, 61, is the first Catholic church official in the U.S. charged with child endangerment for allegedly failing to protect children from suspected priest-predators.

Church law requires church officials to investigate the complaints, Doyle said. And the archbishop – following the teachings of Christ – should have sought out victims to offer pastoral care, he added.

"He's got a list of men who are sexually abusing children, and he's going to shred it?" an incredulous Doyle asked on cross-examination from defense lawyers.

His advice to Bevilacqua, a friend and fellow canon lawyer, would have been to take off his ring, robe and other clerical garb "and go and see these families." But Bevilacqua never called for that advice, he said.

Bevilacqua died at 88 in January, a few weeks after giving a videotaped deposition that may still be used at trial. He had been suffering from cancer and dementia, and Lynn's lawyers have suggested he had little recall of events surrounding the priest sexual-abuse crisis.

Philadelphia prosecutors excoriated Bevilacqua and his successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, in two grand jury reports, but said they could not charge them because of legal time limits. But they have called the archdiocese and others "unindicted co-conspirators" in Lynn's unprecedented trial.

Doyle has researched priest sexual abuse within his church since the early 1980s, and admits he once thought known abusers could remain priests in restricted ministry. But he reversed himself in about 1985, after becoming convinced the recidivism rate was too high for predators, and the risk to children too great. His research shows the church has been struggling with the problem since its earliest days, he said.

Bevilacqua led the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1987 to 2003, and the Pittsburgh diocese before that. Church documents obtained by prosecutors show the archdiocese during his tenure kept dozens of suspected predators in ministry, sending them for inpatient treatment at times, but later transferring most of them to new jobs in new areas. Prosecutors say the church thereby fed predators a steady stream of new victims.

The Rev. Edward Avery was on the 1995 list that Lynn prepared. Lynn had deemed him "guilty" of a teen's 1992 complaint that Avery had molested him. The list shredded, Avery remained a priest until about 2005.

Avery, now 69 and defrocked, admitted last month that he had sexually assaulted an altar boy in a church sacristy in 1999. He was supposed to go on trial with Lynn, but is instead serving a 2 1/2 to five-year prison term.

If Doyle's testimony appeared to help the defense, prosecutors also scored some points with their witness. On redirect, they asked Doyle about the defense suggestion that bishops are like monarchs with absolute power.

"All the orders in the world don't mean anything unless someone carries them out?" Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asked.

"That's right," Doyle answered.

Priests, if asked to do something illegal, "cannot perform that action, even if he told you to do it," Doyle said.

Jurors also heard excerpts Thursday from Lynn's 2002 grand jury testimony. Lynn testified that his office had never referred any of the complaints to local authorities despite a 1995 state law that added clergy to a list of mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.

Lynn believed the law only required reporting if a "child" had made the report. That rarely if ever happened. The reports were coming in from adults who said they were abused as children, or occasionally from parents of minors, he testified.

There is no trial testimony on Fridays, so the trial resumes for its fourth week on Monday. See Chick's ALBERTO.

Nun Accused of Selling Babies

An 80-year-old Spanish nun has refused to testify at a court hearing about her alleged involvement in the stealing of newborn babies from their parents and selling them to other families.

Spanish police have investigated hundreds of cases amid allegations of baby trafficking dating from the years after Spain's 1936-39 civil war and supposedly a few even in the mid-1990s.

Authorities were alerted by an association of people searching for lost relatives. The group alleges the scheme involved a nationwide network, including doctors, nurses, midwives, nuns and intermediaries. Mothers were told their babies had been stillborn.

Sister Maria Gomez is the only person subpoenaed so far. She appeared in court Thursday and told the judge she would exercise her right to remain silent.

Reuters reports that Sister Maria Gomez is charged with "illegal detention and falsifying documents."

According to Newser, one mother of a stolen infant alleges that Sister Maria Gomez also threatened to steal her other child.

"Stop asking me [where the baby is] or else I will also take away your other daughter and you will go to jail for adultery," the mother claims Sister Maria Gomez said.

The BBC explains that thousands of babies are thought to have been stolen under Francisco Franco's dictatorship with the aim of removing children from their communist subversive parents and placing them under the care of "approved" families. See Chick's MACHO.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Santorum Drops Out of Race

In a surprise decision Tuesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign, all but putting an end to the Republican primary.

"We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting," Santorum said during an address in Gettysburg, Pa.

During his 14-minute speech, Santorum notably did not endorse Mitt Romney.

The Pennsylvania Republican had taken a break from the campaign trail for several days to tend to his ailing daughter, Bella. He had pledged to continue campaigning through the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. But his daughter's sickness during an uphill battle for the nomination apparently prompted the early departure.

Santorum, a Roman Catholic, called Romney, a Mormon, earlier in the day to inform him of his decision to suspend his campaign against Obama, who claims to be Christian.

Santorum's decision removes any lingering doubt that Romney will end up the Republican presidential nominee. The former Massachusetts governor held a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead prior to Santorum's departure, though his campaign was planning on spending between one and two million dollars against Santorum in Pennsylvania.

Christian Gets Three Years for Insults to Islam

A juvenile court in Egypt has sentenced a Coptic Christian teenager to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Islam on his Facebook page, according to Reuters Africa. This is the maximum penalty for the offense under Egyptian law.

The court claimed 17-year-old Gamal Abdou Massoud posted cartoons mocking Islam and the prophet Muhammad to the social network in December and distributed the images to other students. This allegedly set off an anti-Christian riot in the city of Asyut, during which Massoud's house was firebombed and five other Christian-owned homes were burned to the ground by some Muslims who were angered by the cartoons, according to Compass Direct News.

The court also held Massoud responsible for inciting the riots, but Massoud denies all charges against him.

The controversial decision is the latest incident to highlight a perceived legal double standard for minority Christians in the predominantly Mulsim country.

The Assyrian International News Agency cited Massoud's case and two others in a January report concerning "cases [that] have been brought against Copts [in Egypt], based on accusations mostly from postings on Facebook or Twitter of cartoons or comments deemed by Islamists as insulting to Islam."

"Rights are given to the Christian minority in Egypt only when Islamic sensitivities are not involved," Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency dedicated to reporting about persecuted Christians, wrote following the incident.

Christians make up only about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million citizens, according to Reuters Africa.

Asyut is well known in Egypt as a Coptic Christian stronghold, and was the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, who died March 17.

Tensions between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt have intensified since a church bombing killed at least 21 in Alexandria in 2011, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Obama "Evolves" (Flip Flops) on Gay Marriage

President Barack Obama's Minnesota campaign announced Monday that Obama opposes a state ballot initiative that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

"While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples," Kristen Sosanie, spokeswoman for Obama's Minnesota campaign, said in a statement. "That's what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do -- it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples -- and that's why the President does not support it."

Obama opposed gay marriage in 2008 when polls showed the majority of Americans were also opposed. However, many of his liberal base supports gay marriage and he needs to energize them. The big exception is black churches, which are usually outspoken against gay marriage. By stating his opposition against the measure is because it discriminates, rather than he disagrees with gay marriage, Obama hopes to keep blacks who generally oppose discrimination. It's a political way of dividing the opposition.

The Obama campaign in North Carolina issued a statement in March with the same language in opposition to Amendment One, which would also define marriage in the state's constitution as between one man and one woman.

Just as in North Carolina, same-sex marriage is already banned by a statute in Minnesota. Unlike the North Carolina amendment, the Minnesota amendment does not mention civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Despite his statements in opposition to the constitutional amendments, the president has said that his views continue to "evolve" on gay marriage. It gives the impression that those who do not change their minds in favor of gay marriage or primitive or less developed. See Chick's BIG DADDY.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mom Kills Daughter To Send to Heaven

Veronica Cirella is accused of killing her allergic 8-year-old daughter Julie with peanut M&Ms.
A New York mom is accused of killing her daughter by feeding the little girl peanut M&Ms -- which she was severely allergic to, cops said.

Veronica Cirella, 31, of Plainview, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the death of her 8-year-old daughter Julie, who was found dead in her home on July 23 last year, CBS reported. The little girl, who had cerebral palsy, was found just hours before she was to be a flower girl in a cousin's wedding.

Cops found Cirella lying on the floor near her daughter's body. She had allegedly tried to kill herself with a cocktail of insulin injections and painkillers, and then attempted to strangle herself with an electrical cord according to News One. She also left a suicide note detailing the events leading up to her daughter's death.

"I had to give her a better life, which was to give her back to heaven," Cirella allegedly wrote. "She does not deserve to be in pain whatsoever. I don't mind going to hell because I took my life to give her a better life, which is in heaven where she can be free."

Cirella reportedly gave the girl the M&Ms as a treat for agreeing to participate in the wedding. Cops said that she knew her daughter was allergic to peanuts, and claims that she gave the girl a dose of Benadryl in order to counteract any allergic reactions before Cirella went to sleep.

Cirella's mother-in-law, Dolores Cirella, discovered the two when she checked in to see how the wedding preparations were going.

Cirella faces a life sentence for the alleged murder. See Chick's THE THIEF.

Journalist Mike Wallace Dies

A famous TV journalist, Mike Wallace has died, CBS News announced on Sunday.

He was 93. Wallace died on Saturday night in a long-term care center in New Haven, Connecticut. He was surrounded by family.

Wallace had been ill for years. Bob Scheiffer revealed the circumstances of his death on "Face the Nation," after Charles Osgood first announced that he had passed on "CBS News Sunday Morning."

Wallace was one of the original hosts and correspondents of "60 Minutes." He was a trailblazer, known for confronting his subjects and originating the newsmagazine format. He was also known for taking sides on issues, deciding who would be cast in a good and bad light. This activist style became standard on "60 Minutes", and in many ways, standard for television news.

Wallace was also the journalist who did an attack piece on Christians selling anti-Vatican books and comics at a Christian convention. His assistant called Chick Publications in an attempt to interview Jack Chick, but Chick refused the interview (as he does all journalist's requests.)

The famously aggressive Wallace came down hard on the likes of Barbra Streisand, Vladimir Putin and Louis Farrakhan during his four-decades long tenure at the show. He joined "60 Minutes" at its inception in 1968, and retired at the age of 88 in 2006. He continued to do occasional interviews until 2008.

On Sunday, Schieffer and Morley Safer paid tribute to Wallace on "Face the Nation." The show opened with a memorial piece about their colleague, in which Safer recalled Wallace's defiant spirit.

"There will never be another one quite like him," said Schieffer, who teared up when he introduced the segment. He called Wallace a "mentor," and recalled that he "even gave [him] a compliment, once."

See Chick's THE TRIAL.

Happy Easter 2012

Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI implored the Syrian regime Sunday to heed international demands to end the bloodshed and expressed hope that the joy of Easter will comfort Christian communities suffering because of their faith.

Benedict, struggling with hoarseness and looking tired, celebrated Mass on Christianity's most joyous holy day on the flower-adorned steps of St. Peter's Basilica, before a crowd of faithful that swelled to far over 100,000 by the end of the 2-hour-long ceremony.

Only hours earlier the pontiff, who turns 85 on April 16, had led a long nighttime vigil service in the church. There have been concerns over his health, and he has recently used a cane in public appearances. He no longer walks down the basilica's long aisle, traveling instead aboard a wheeled platform pushed by aides.

At the end of Sunday's Mass, Benedict moved to the basilica's central balcony to read his Easter message "to the entire world," as he put it, delivering a ringing appeal for peace in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, and in Africa, citing coup-struck Mali and Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims alike have been hit by terrorist attacks.

Christians throughout the world on Easter celebrate their belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after his crucifix, and the day symbolizes hope. Benedict said that Christ is "hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution."

Sectarian violence in Iraq, often aimed at Christians, has prompted an exodus over the last years of many from the sizable Christian community there.

In Jerusalem, thousands of Christians gathered for Easter celebrations, crowding into one of Christianity's holiest churches, worshipping, singing and praying. Catholics and Protestants took turns to hold ceremonies within the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Thousands of Palestinian Catholics smashed egg shells against each other, representing Jesus' emerging from his tomb. They ate circular bread symbolizing his crown of thorns and greeted each other with the Arabic felicitation, "Christ has arisen," prompting the response: "Verily he has arisen."

Meanwhile, other Christians belonging to Eastern Orthodox churches, who celebrate Easter using a different calendar from their Catholic and Protestant brethren, marked Palm Sunday.

Several dozen Ethiopian Christians who also use the older calendar gathered in a niche of the Sepulcher church, wearing long white robes, decked in white, blue and black rimless hats. They sang in their ancient language, marking off beats with a silver instrument that made a rattling sound.

In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II attended a traditional Easter Sunday service with three generations of the royal family at Windsor Castle. The monarch was joined on Sunday by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and three of her children – Princes Andrew and Edward, along with Princess Anne. Her granddaughters, Princess Eugenie and Lady Louise Windsor, were also among those attending the service at St. George's Chapel.

Dressed in a lilac, green and white Stewart Parvin silk dress with a lilac coat and matching hat by Philip Somerville, Elizabeth took time to greet well-wishers gathered outside the chapel after the service. See Chick's LIGHT OF THE WORLD.